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Canto the Seventh



O LOVE! O Glory! what are ye who fly
Around us ever, rarely to alight?
There's not a meteor in the polar sky
Of such transcendent and more fleeting flight.
Chill, and chained to cold earth, we lift on high
Our eyes in search of either lovely light;
A thousand and a thousand colours they
Assume, then leave us on our freezing way.


And such as they are, such my present tale is,
A nondescript and ever-varying rhyme,
A versified Aurora Borealis,
Which flashes o'er a waste and icy clime.
When we know what all are, we must bewail us,
But ne'ertheless I hope it is no crime
To laugh at _all_ things--for I wish to know
_What_, after _all_, are _all_ things--but a _show_?


They accuse me--_Me_--the present writer of
The present poem--of--I know not what--A
tendency to under-rate and scoff
At human power and virtue, and all that;[365]
And this they say in language rather rough.
Good God! I wonder what they would be at!
I say no more than hath been said in Danté's
Verse, and by Solomon and by Cervantes;


By Swift, by Machiavel, by Rochefoucault,
By Fénélon, by Luther, and by Plato;[hh]
By Tillotson, and Wesley, and Rousseau,
Who knew this life was not worth a potato.
'T is not their fault, nor mine, if this be so,--
For my part, I pretend not to be Cato,
Nor even Diogenes.--We live and die,
But which is best, _you_ know no more than I.


Socrates said, our only knowledge was[366]
"To know that nothing could be known;" a pleasant
Science enough, which levels to an ass
Each man of wisdom, future, past, or present.
Newton (that proverb of the mind), alas!
Declared, with all his grand discoveries recent,
That he himself felt only "like a youth
Picking up shells by the great ocean--Truth."[hi][367]


Ecclesiastes said, "that all is vanity"--
Most modern preachers say the same, or show it
By their examples of true Christianity:
In short, all know, or very soon may know it;
And in this scene of all-confessed inanity,
By Saint, by Sage, by Preacher, and by Poet,
Must I restrain me, through the fear of strife,
From holding up the nothingness of Life?[hj]


Dogs, or men!--for I flatter you[368] in saying
That ye are dogs--your betters far--ye may
Read, or read not, what I am now essaying
To show ye what ye are in every way.
As little as the moon stops for the baying
Of wolves, will the bright Muse withdraw one ray
From out her skies--then howl your idle wrath!
While she still silvers o'er your gloomy path.


"Fierce loves and faithless wars"--I am not sure
If this be the right reading--'t is no matter;
The fact's about the same, I am secure;
I sing them both, and am about to batter
A town which did a famous siege endure,
And was beleaguered both by land and water
By Souvaroff,[369] or Anglicè Suwarrow,
Who loved blood as an alderman loves marrow.


The fortress is called Ismail, and is placed
Upon the Danube's left branch and left bank,[370]
With buildings in the Oriental taste,
But still a fortress of the foremost rank,
Or was at least, unless 't is since defaced,
Which with your conquerors is a common prank:
It stands some eighty versts from the high sea,
And measures round of toises thousands three.[371]


Within the extent of this fortification
A borough is comprised along the height
Upon the left, which from its loftier station
Commands the city, and upon its site
A Greek had raised around this elevation
A quantity of palisades _upright_,
So placed as to _impede_ the fire of those
Who held the place, and to _assist_ the foe's.[372]


This circumstance may serve to give a notion
Of the high talents of this new Vauban:
But the town ditch below was deep as Ocean,
The rampart higher than you'd wish to hang:
But then there was a great want of precaution
(Prithee, excuse this engineering slang),
Nor work advanced, nor covered way was there,[373]
To hint, at least, "Here is no thoroughfare."


But a stone bastion, with a narrow gorge,
And walls as thick as most skulls born as yet;
Two batteries, cap-à-pie, as our St. George,
Casemated[374] one, and t' other "a barbette,"[375]
Of Danube's bank took formidable charge;
While two-and-twenty cannon duly set
Rose over the town's right side, in bristling tier,
Forty feet high, upon a cavalier.[376]


But from the river the town's open quite,
Because the Turks could never be persuaded
A Russian vessel e'er would heave in sight;[377]
And such their creed was till they were invaded,
When it grew rather late to set things right:
But as the Danube could not well be waded,
They looked upon the Muscovite flotilla,
And only shouted, "Allah!" and "Bis Millah!"


The Russians now were ready to attack;
But oh, ye goddesses of War and Glory!
How shall I spell the name of each Cossacque
Who were immortal, could one tell their story?
Alas! what to their memory can lack?
Achilles' self was not more grim and gory
Than thousands of this new and polished nation,
Whose names want nothing but--pronunciation.


Still I'll record a few, if but to increase
Our euphony: there was Strongenoff, and Strokonoff,
Meknop, Serge Lwow, Arséniew of modern Greece,
And Tschitsshakoff, and Roguenoff, and Chokenoff,[378]
And others of twelve consonants apiece;
And more might be found out, if I could poke enough
Into gazettes; but Fame (capricious strumpet),
It seems, has got an ear as well as trumpet,


And cannot tune those discords of narration,[hk]
Which may be names at Moscow, into rhyme;
Yet there were several worth commemoration,
As e'er was virgin of a nuptial chime;
Soft words, too, fitted for the peroration
Of Londonderry drawling against time,
Ending in "ischskin," "ousckin," "iffskchy," "ouski,"
Of whom we can insert but Rousamouski,[379]


Scherematoff and Chrematoff, Koklophti,
Koclobski, Kourakin, and Mouskin Pouskin,
All proper men of weapons, as e'er scoffed high[380]
Against a foe, or ran a sabre through skin:
Little cared they for Mahomet or Mufti,
Unless to make their kettle-drums a new skin
Out of their hides, if parchment had grown dear,
And no more handy substitute been near.


Then there were foreigners of much renown,
Of various nations, and all volunteers;
Not fighting for their country or its crown,
But wishing to be one day brigadiers;
Also to have the sacking of a town;--
A pleasant thing to young men at their years.
'Mongst them were several Englishmen of pith,
Sixteen called Thomson, and nineteen named Smith.


Jack Thomson and Bill Thomson;--all the rest
Had been called _"Jemmy,"_ after the great bard;
I don't know whether they had arms or crest,
But such a godfather's as good a card.
Three of the Smiths were Peters; but the best
Amongst them all, hard blows to inflict or ward,
Was _he_, since so renowned "in country quarters
At Halifax;"[381] but now he served the Tartars.


The rest were Jacks and Gills and Wills and Bills,
But when I've added that the elder Jack Smith
Was born in Cumberland among the hills,
And that his father was an honest blacksmith,
I've said all _I_ know of a name that fills
Three lines of the despatch in taking "Schmacksmith,"
A village of Moldavia's waste, wherein
He fell, immortal in a bulletin.


I wonder (although Mars no doubt's a god I
Praise) if a man's name in a _bulletin_
May make up for a _bullet in_ his body?
I hope this little question is no sin,
Because, though I am but a simple noddy,
I think one Shakespeare puts the same thought in
The mouth of some one in his plays so doting,
Which many people pass for wits by quoting.[382]


Then there were Frenchmen, gallant, young, and gay;
But I'm too great a patriot to record
Their Gallic names upon a glorious day;
I'd rather tell ten lies than say a word
Of truth;--such truths are treason; they betray
Their country; and as traitors are abhorred,
Who name the French in English, save to show
How Peace should make John Bull the Frenchman's foe.


The Russians, having built two batteries on
An isle near Ismail, had two ends in view;
The first was to bombard it, and knock down
The public buildings and the private too,
No matter what poor souls might be undone:[hl]
The city's shape suggested this, 't is true,
Formed like an amphitheatre--each dwelling
Presented a fine mark to throw a shell in.[383]


The second object was to profit by
The moment of the general consternation,
To attack the Turk's flotilla, which lay nigh
Extremely tranquil, anchored at its station:
But a third motive was as probably
To frighten them into capitulation;[384]
A phantasy which sometimes seizes warriors,
Unless they are game as bull-dogs and fox-terriers.[hm]


A habit rather blameable, which is
That of despising those we combat with,
Common in many cases, was in this
The cause[385] of killing Tchitchitzkoff and Smith--
One of the valorous "Smiths" whom we shall miss
Out of those nineteen who late rhymed to "pith;"
But 't is a name so spread o'er "Sir" and "Madam,"
That one would think the _first_ who bore it _"Adam."_


The Russian batteries were incomplete,
Because they were constructed in a hurry;[386]
Thus the same cause which makes a verse want feet,
And throws a cloud o'er Longman and John Murray,
When the sale of new books is not so fleet
As they who print them think is necessary,
May likewise put off for a time what story
Sometimes calls "Murder," and at others "Glory."


Whether it was their engineer's stupidity,
Their haste or waste, I neither know nor care,
Or some contractor's personal cupidity,
Saving his soul by cheating in the ware
Of homicide, but there was no solidity
In the new batteries erected there;
They either missed, or they were never missed,
And added greatly to the missing list.


A sad miscalculation about distance
Made all their naval matters incorrect;
Three fireships lost their amiable existence
Before they reached a spot to take effect;
The match was lit too soon, and no assistance
Could remedy this lubberly defect;
They blew up in the middle of the river,
While, though 't was dawn, the Turks slept fast as ever.[387]


At seven they rose, however, and surveyed
The Russ flotilla getting under way;
'T was nine, when still advancing undismayed,
Within a cable's length their vessels lay
Off Ismail, and commenced a cannonade,
Which was returned with interest, I may say,
And by a fire of musketry and grape,
And shells and shot of every size and shape.[388]


For six hours bore they without intermission
The Turkish fire, and, aided by their own
Land batteries, worked their guns with great precision;
At length they found mere cannonade alone
By no means would produce the town's submission,
And made a signal to retreat at one.
One bark blew up, a second near the works
Running aground, was taken by the Turks.[389]


The Moslem, too, had lost both ships and men;
But when they saw the enemy retire,
Their Delhis[390] manned some boats, and sailed again,
And galled the Russians with a heavy fire,
And tried to make a landing on the main;
But here the effect fell short of their desire:
Count Damas drove them back into the water
Pell-mell, and with a whole gazette of slaughter.[391]


"If" (says the historian here) "I could report
All that the Russians did upon this day,
I think that several volumes would fall short,
And I should still have many things to say;"[392]
And so he says no more--but pays his court
To some distinguished strangers in that fray;
The Prince de Ligne, and Langeron, and Damas,
Names great as any that the roll of Fame has.[393]


This being the case, may show us what Fame _is_:
For out of these three "_preux Chevaliers_," how
Many of common readers give a guess
That such existed? (and they may live now
For aught we know.) Renown's all hit or miss;
There's fortune even in Fame, we must allow.
'T is true, the Memoirs of the Prince de Ligne[394]
Have half withdrawn from _him_ Oblivion's screen.


But here are men who fought in gallant actions
As gallantly as ever heroes fought,
But buried in the heap of such transactions
Their names are rarely found, nor often sought.
Thus even good fame may suffer sad contractions,
And is extinguished sooner than she ought:
Of all our modern battles, I will bet
You can't repeat nine names from each Gazette.


In short, this last attack, though rich in glory,
Showed that _somewhere, somehow_, there was a fault,
And Admiral Ribas[395] (known in Russian story)
Most strongly recommended an assault;
In which he was opposed by young and hoary,
Which made a long debate; but I must halt,
For if I wrote down every warrior's speech,
I doubt few readers e'er would mount the breach.


There was a man, if that he was a man,
Not that his manhood could be called in question,
For had he not been Hercules, his span
Had been as short in youth as indigestion
Made his last illness, when, all worn and wan,
He died beneath a tree, as much unblest on
The soil of the green province he had wasted,
As e'er was locust on the land it blasted.


This was Potemkin[396]--a great thing in days
When homicide and harlotry made great;
If stars and titles could entail long praise,
His glory might half equal his estate.
This fellow, being six foot high, could raise
A kind of phantasy proportionate
In the then Sovereign of the Russian people,
Who measured men as you would do a steeple.


While things were in abeyance, Ribas sent
A courier to the Prince, and he succeeded
In ordering matters after his own bent;
I cannot tell the way in which he pleaded,
But shortly he had cause to be content.
In the mean time, the batteries proceeded,
And fourscore cannon on the Danube's border
Were briskly fired and answered in due order.[397]


But on the thirteenth, when already part
Of the troops were embarked, the siege to raise,
A courier on the spur inspired new heart
Into all panters for newspaper praise,[hn]
As well as dilettanti in War's art,
By his despatches (couched in pithy phrase)
Announcing the appointment of that lover of
Battles to the command, Field-Marshal Souvaroff.[398]


The letter of the Prince to the same Marshal
Was worthy of a Spartan, had the cause
Been one to which a good heart could be partial--
Defence of freedom, country, or of laws;
But as it was mere lust of Power to o'er-arch all
With its proud brow, it merits slight applause,
Save for its style, which said, all in a trice,
"You will take Ismail at whatever price."[399]


"Let there be Light! said God, and there was Light!"
"Let there be Blood!" says man, and there's a sea!
The fiat of this spoiled child of the Night
(For Day ne'er saw his merits) could decree
More evil in an hour, than thirty bright
Summers could renovate, though they should be
Lovely as those which ripened Eden's fruit;
For War cuts up not only branch, but root.


Our friends, the Turks, who with loud "Allahs" now
Began to signalise the Russ retreat,[400]
Were damnably mistaken; few are slow
In thinking that their enemy is beat,[401]
(Or _beaten_, if you insist on grammar, though
I never think about it in a heat,)
But here I say the Turks were much mistaken,
Who hating hogs, yet wished to save their bacon.


For, on the sixteenth, at full gallop, drew
In sight two horsemen, who were deemed Cossacques
For some time, till they came in nearer view:
They had but little baggage at their backs,
For there were but _three_ shirts between the two;
But on they rode upon two Ukraine hacks,
Till, in approaching, were at length descried
In this plain pair, Suwarrow and his guide.[402]


"Great joy to London now!" says some great fool,
When London had a grand illumination,
Which to that bottle-conjuror, John Bull,
Is of all dreams the first hallucination;
So that the streets of coloured lamps are full,
That sage (said John) surrenders at discretion[ho]
His purse, his soul, his sense, and even his nonsense,
To gratify, like a huge moth, this _one_ sense.


'T is strange that he should further "Damn his eyes,"
For they are damned; that once all-famous oath
Is to the Devil now no further prize,
Since John has lately lost the use of both.
Debt he calls Wealth, and taxes Paradise;
And Famine, with her gaunt and bony growth,
Which stare him in the face, he won't examine,
Or swears that Ceres hath begotten Famine.


But to the tale;--great joy unto the camp!
To Russian, Tartar, English, French, Cossacque,
O'er whom Suwarrow shone like a gas lamp,
Presaging a most luminous attack;
Or like a wisp along the marsh so damp,
Which leads beholders on a boggy walk,
He flitted to and fro a dancing light,
Which all who saw it followed, wrong or right.


But, certes, matters took a different face;
There was enthusiasm and much applause,
The fleet and camp saluted with great grace,
And all presaged good fortune to their cause.
Within a cannot-shot length of the place
They drew, constructed ladders, repaired flaws
In former works, made new, prepared fascines,
And all kinds of benevolent machines.


'T is thus the spirit of a single mind
Makes that of multitudes take one direction,
As roll the waters to the breathing wind,
Or roams the herd beneath the bull's protection;
Or as a little dog will lead the blind,
Or a bell-wether form the flock's connection
By tinkling sounds, when they go forth to victual;
Such is the sway of your great men o'er little.


The whole camp rung with joy; you would have thought
That they were going to a marriage feast
(This metaphor, I think, holds good as aught,
Since there is discord after both at least):
There was not now a luggage boy but sought
Danger and spoil with ardour much increased;
And why? because a little--odd--old man,
Stripped to his shirt, was come to lead the van.


But so it was; and every preparation
Was made with all alacrity: the first
Detachment of three columns took its station,
And waited but the signal's voice to burst
Upon the foe: the second's ordination
Was also in three columns, with a thirst
For Glory gaping o'er a sea of Slaughter:
The third, in columns two, attacked by water.[403]


New batteries were erected, and was held
A general council, in which Unanimity,
That stranger to most councils, here prevailed,[404]
As sometimes happens in a great extremity;[hp]
And every difficulty being dispelled,
Glory began to dawn with due sublimity,[hq]
While Souvaroff, determined to obtain it,
Was teaching his recruits to use the bayonet.[405]


It is an actual fact, that he, commander
In chief, in proper person deigned to drill
The awkward squad, and could afford to squander
His time, a corporal's duty to fulfil;
Just as you'd break a sucking salamander
To swallow flame, and never take it ill:[hr]
He showed them how to mount a ladder (which
Was not like Jacob's) or to cross a ditch.[406]


Also he dressed up, for the nonce, fascines
Like men with turbans, scimitars, and dirks,
And made them charge with bayonet these machines,
By way of lesson against actual Turks;[407]
And when well practised in these mimic scenes,
He judged them proper to assail the works,--
(At which your wise men sneered in phrases witty),[hs]
He made no answer--but he took the city.


Most things were in this posture on the eve
Of the assault, and all the camp was in
A stern repose; which you would scarce conceive;
Yet men resolved to dash through thick and thin
Are very silent when they once believe
That all is settled:--there was little din,
For some were thinking of their home and friends,
And others of themselves and latter ends.[ht]


Suwarrow chiefly was on the alert,
Surveying, drilling, ordering, jesting, pondering;
For the man was, we safely may assert,
A thing to wonder at beyond most wondering;
Hero, buffoon, half-demon, and half-dirt,
Praying, instructing, desolating, plundering--Now
Mars, now Momus--and when bent to storm
A fortress, Harlequin in uniform.[408]


The day before the assault, while upon drill--
For this great conqueror played the corporal--
Some Cossacques, hovering like hawks round a hill,
Had met a party towards the Twilight's fall,
One of whom spoke their tongue--or well or ill,
'T was much that he was understood at all;
But whether from his voice, or speech, or manner,
They found that he had fought beneath their banner.


Whereon immediately at his request
They brought him and his comrades to head-quarters;
Their dress was Moslem, but you might have guessed
That these were merely masquerading Tartars,
And that beneath each Turkish-fashioned vest
Lurked Christianity--which sometimes barters
Her inward grace for outward show, and makes
It difficult to shun some strange mistakes.


Suwarrow, who was standing in his shirt
Before a company of Calmucks, drilling,
Exclaiming, fooling, swearing at the inert,
And lecturing on the noble art of killing,--
For deeming human clay but common dirt
This great philosopher was thus instilling
His maxims,[409] which to martial comprehension
Proved death in battle equal to a pension;--


Suwarrow, when he saw this company
Of Cossacques and their prey, turned round and cast
Upon them his slow brow and piercing eye:--
"Whence come ye?"--"From Constantinople last,
Captives just now escaped," was the reply.
"What are ye?"--"What you see us." Briefly passed
This dialogue; for he who answered knew
To whom he spoke, and made his words but few.


"Your names?"--"Mine's Johnson, and my comrade's Juan;
The other two are women, and the third
Is neither man nor woman." The Chief threw on
The party a slight glance, then said," I have heard
_Your_ name before, the second is a new one:
To bring the other three here was absurd:
But let that pass:--I think I have heard your name
In the Nikolaiew regiment?"--"The same."


"You served at Widdin?"--"Yes."--"You led the attack?"
"I did."--"What next?"--"I really hardly know"--
"You were the first i' the breach?"--"I was not slack
At least to follow those who might be so"--"What
followed?"--"A shot laid me on my back,
And I became a prisoner to the foe"--
"You shall have vengeance, for the town surrounded
Is twice as strong as that where you were wounded.


"Where will you serve?"--"Where'er you please."--"I know
You like to be the hope of the forlorn,
And doubtless would be foremost on the foe
After the hardships you've already borne.
And this young fellow--say what can he do?
He with the beardless chin and garments torn?"--
"Why, General, if he hath no greater fault
In War than Love, he had better lead the assault"--


"He shall if that he dare." Here Juan bowed
Low as the compliment deserved. Suwarrow
Continued: "Your old regiment's allowed,
By special providence, to lead to-morrow,
Or, it may be, to-night, the assault: I have vowed
To several Saints, that shortly plough or harrow
Shall pass o'er what was Ismail, and its tusk[410]
Be unimpeded by the proudest mosque.


"So now, my lads, for Glory!"--Here he turned
And drilled away in the most classic Russian,
Until each high heroic bosom burned
For cash and conquest, as if from a cushion
A preacher had held forth (who nobly spurned
All earthly goods save tithes) and bade them push on
To slay the Pagans who resisted, battering
The armies of the Christian Empress Catherine.


Johnson, who knew by this long colloquy
Himself a favourite, ventured to address
Suwarrow, though engaged with accents high
In his resumed amusement. "I confess
My debt in being thus allowed to die
Among the foremost; but if you'd express
Explicitly our several posts, my friend
And self would know what duty to attend."


"Right! I was busy, and forgot. Why, you
Will join your former regiment, which should be
Now under arms. Ho! Katskoff, take him to"--
(Here he called up a Polish orderly)
"His post, I mean the regiment Nikolaiew:
The stranger stripling may remain with me;
He's a fine boy. The women may be sent
To the other baggage, or to the sick tent."


But here a sort of scene began to ensue:
The ladies,--who by no means had been bred
To be disposed of in a way so new,
Although their Harem education led,
Doubtless, to that of doctrines the most true,
Passive obedience,--now raised up the head
With flashing eyes and starting tears, and flung
Their arms, as hens their wings about their young,


O'er the promoted couple of brave men
Who were thus honoured by the greatest Chief
That ever peopled Hell with heroes slain,
Or plunged a province or a realm in grief.
Oh, foolish mortals! Always taught in vain!
Oh, glorious Laurel! since for one sole leaf
Of thine imaginary deathless tree,
Of blood and tears must flow the unebbing sea.[hu]


Suwarrow, who had small regard for tears,
And not much sympathy for blood, surveyed
The women with their hair about their ears
And natural agonies, with a slight shade
Of feeling: for however Habit sears
Men's hearts against whole millions, when their trade
Is butchery, sometimes a single sorrow
Will touch even heroes--and such was Suwarrow.


He said,--and in the kindest Calmuck tone,--
"Why, Johnson, what the devil do you mean
By bringing women here? They shall be shown
All the attention possible, and seen
In safety to the waggons, where alone
In fact they can be safe. You should have been
Aware this kind of baggage never thrives;
Save wed a year, I hate recruits with wives"--


"May it please your Excellency," thus replied
Our British friend, "these are the wives of others,
And not our own. I am too qualified
By service with my military brothers
To break the rules by bringing one's own bride
Into a camp: I know that nought so bothers
The hearts of the heroic on a charge,
As leaving a small family at large.


"But these are but two Turkish ladies, who
With their attendant aided our escape,
And afterwards accompanied us through
A thousand perils in this dubious shape.
To me this kind of life is not so new;
To them, poor things, it is an awkward scrape:
I therefore, if you wish me to fight freely,
Request that they may both be used genteelly."


Meantime these two poor girls, with swimming eyes,
Looked on as if in doubt if they could trust
Their own protectors; nor was their surprise
Less than their grief (and truly not less just)
To see an old man, rather wild than wise
In aspect, plainly clad, besmeared with dust,
Stripped to his waistcoat, and that not too clean,
More feared than all the Sultans ever seen.


For everything seemed resting on his nod,
As they could read in all eyes. Now to them,
Who were accustomed, as a sort of god,
To see the Sultan, rich in many a gem,
Like an imperial peacock stalk abroad
(That royal bird, whose tail's a diadem,)
With all the pomp of Power, it was a doubt
How Power could condescend to do without.


John Johnson, seeing their extreme dismay,
Though little versed in feelings oriental,
Suggested some slight comfort in his way:
Don Juan, who was much more sentimental,
Swore they should see him by the dawn of day,
Or that the Russian army should repent all:
And, strange to say, they found some consolation
In this--for females like exaggeration.


And then with tears, and sighs, and some slight kisses,
They parted for the present--these to await,
According to the artillery's hits or misses,
What sages call Chance, Providence, or Fate--
(Uncertainty is one of many blisses,
A mortgage on Humanity's estate;)[hv]
While their belovéd friends began to arm,
To burn a town which never did them harm.


Suwarrow,--who but saw things in the gross.
Being much too gross to see them in detail,
Who calculated life as so much dross,
And as the wind a widowed nation's wail,
And cared as little for his army's loss
(So that their efforts should at length prevail)
As wife and friends did for the boils of Job,--
What was 't to him to hear two women sob?


Nothing.--The work of Glory still went on
In preparations for a cannonade
As terrible as that of Ilion,
If Homer had found mortars ready made;
But now, instead of slaying Priam's son,
We only can but talk of escalade,
Bombs, drums, guns, bastions, batteries, bayonets, bullets--
Hard words, which stick in the soft Muses' gullets.


Oh, thou eternal Homer! who couldst charm
All ears, though long; all ages, though so short,
By merely wielding with poetic arm
Arms to which men will never more resort,
Unless gunpowder should be found to harm
Much less than is the hope of every court,
Which now is leagued young Freedom to annoy;
But they will not find Liberty a Troy:--


Oh, thou eternal Homer! I have now
To paint a siege, wherein more men were slain,
With deadlier engines and a speedier blow,
Than in thy Greek gazette of that campaign;
And yet, like all men else, I must allow,
To vie with thee would be about as vain
As for a brook to cope with Ocean's flood,--
But still we moderns equal you in blood:[hw]


If not in poetry, at least in fact;
And fact is Truth, the grand desideratum!
Of which, howe'er the Muse describes each act,
There should be ne'ertheless a slight substratum.
But now the town is going to be attacked;
Great deeds are doing--how shall I relate 'em?
Souls of immortal Generals! Phoebus watches
To colour up his rays from your despatches.[hx]


Oh, ye great bulletins of Bonaparte!
Oh, ye less grand long lists of killed and wounded!
Shade of Leonidas, who fought so hearty,
When my poor Greece was once, as now, surrounded!
Oh, Cæsar's Commentaries! now impart, ye
Shadows of Glory! (lest I be confounded),
A portion of your fading twilight hues--
So beautiful, so fleeting--to the Muse.


When I call "fading" martial immortality,
I mean, that every age and every year,
And almost every day, in sad reality,
Some sucking hero is compelled to rear,
Who, when we come to sum up the totality
Of deeds to human happiness most dear,
Turns out to be a butcher in great business,
Afflicting young folks with a sort of dizziness.


Medals, rank, ribands, lace, embroidery, scarlet,
Are things immortal to immortal man,
As purple to the Babylonian harlot;[hy]
An uniform to boys is like a fan
To women; there is scarce a crimson varlet
But deems himself the first in Glory's van.
But Glory's glory; and if you would find
What _that_ is--ask the pig who sees the wind!


At least _he feels it_, and some say he _sees_,
Because he runs before it like a pig;
Or, if that simple sentence should displease,
Say, that he scuds before it like a brig,
A schooner, or--but it is time to ease
This Canto, ere my Muse perceives fatigue.
The next shall ring a peal to shake all people,
Like a bob-major from a village steeple.


Hark! through the silence of the cold, dull night,
The hum of armies gathering rank on rank!
Lo! dusky masses steal in dubious sight
Along the leaguered wall and bristling bank
Of the armed river, while with straggling light
The stars peep through the vapours dim and dank,
Which curl in various wreaths:--how soon the smoke
Of Hell shall pall them in a deeper cloak!


Here pause we for the present--as even then
That awful pause, dividing Life from Death,
Struck for an instant on the hearts of men,--
Thousands of whom were drawing their last breath!
A moment--and all will be Life again!
The march! the charge! the shouts of either faith,
Hurrah! and Allah! and one moment more--
The death-cry drowning in the Battle's roar.[hz][411]


{302}[364] ["These [the seventh and eighth] Cantos contain a full detail
(like the storm in Canto Second) of the siege and assault of Ismael,
with much of sarcasm on those butchers in large business, your mercenary
soldiery.... With these things and these fellows it is necessary, in the
present clash of philosophy and tyranny, to throw away the scabbard. I
know it is against fearful odds; but the battle must be fought; and it
will be eventually for the good of mankind, whatever it may be for the
individual who risks himself."--Letter to Moore, August 8, 1822,
_Letters_, 1901, vi. 101.]

[365] §§[Byron attributes this phrase to Orator Henley (_Letters_, 1898,
i. 227); and to Bayes in the Duke of Buckingham's play, _The Rehearsal_
(_Letters_, 1901, v. 80).]

[hh] _Of Fenelon, of Calvin and of Christ_.--[MS. erased.]

[366] [Compare _Childe Harold_, Canto II. stanza vii. line 1, _Poetical
Works_, 1899, ii. 103, note 2.]

[hi] _Picking a pebble on the shore of Truth_.--[MS. erased.]

[367] ["Sir Isaac Newton, a little before he died, said, 'I don't know
what I may seem to the world; but, as to myself, I seem to have been
only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now
and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary
whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before
me.'"--Spence, _Anecdotes_ (quoting Chevalier Ramsay), 1858, p. 40.]

{304}[hj] _From fools who dread to know the truth of Life_.--[MS.

[368] [Compare "Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog,"
lines 7, sq., _Poetical Works_, 1898, i. 280.]

[369] [Aleksandr Vasilievitch Suvóroff (1729-1800) opened his attack on
Ismail, November 30, 1790. His forces, including Kossacks, exceeded
27,000 men.--_Essai sur l'Histoire Ancienne et Moderne de la Nouvelle
Russie_, par le Marquis Gabriel de Castelnau, 1827, ii. 201.]

[370] ["Ismaël est situé sur la rive gauche du bras gauche (i.e. the
ilia) du Danube."--_Ibid._.]

{305}[371] [----"à peu près à quatre-vingts verstes de la mer: elle a
près de trois milles toises de tour."--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_,
ii. 201.]

[372] ["On a compris dans ces fortifications un faubourg moldave, situé
à la gauche de la ville, sur une hauteur qui la domine: l'ouvrage a été
terminé par un Grec. Pour donner une idée des talens de cet ingénieur,
il suffira de dire qu'il fit placer les palissades perpendiculairement
sur le parapet, de manière qu'elles favorisaient les assiégeans, et
arrêtaient le feu des assiégés."--_Ibid._, p. 202.]

[373] ["Le rempart en terre est prodigieusement élevé à cause de
l'immense profondeur du fossé; il est cependant absolument rasant: il
n'y a ni ouvrage avancé, ni chemin couvert."--_Ibid._, p. 202.]

[374] [Casemate is a work made under the rampart, like a cellar or cave,
with loopholes to place guns in it, and is bomb proof.--_Milit. Dict._]

[375] [When the breastwork of a battery is only of such height that the
guns may fire over it without being obliged to make embrasures, the guns
are said to fire in barbet.--_Ibid._]

{306}[376] ["Un bastion de pierres, ouvert par une gorge très-étroite,
et dont les murailles son fort épaisses, a une batterie casematée et une
à barbette; il défend la rive du Danube. Du côté droit de la ville est
un cavalier de quarante pieds d'élévation à pic, garni de vingt-deux
pièces de canon, et qui défend la partie gauche."--_Hist. de la Nouvelle
Russie_, ii. 202.]

[377] ["Du côté du fleuve, la ville est absolument ouverte; les Turcs ne
croyaient pas que les Russes pussent jamais avoir une flotille dans le
Danube."--_Ibid._, p. 203.]

[378] [Meknop [supposed to be a corruption of McNab], etc., in line
three, are real names: Strongenoff stands for Strogonof, Tschitsshakoff
for Tchitchagof, and, perhaps, Chokenoff for Tchoglokof.]

{307}[hk] ---- _these discords of damnation_.--[MS. erased.]

[379] ["La première attaque était composée de trois colonnes, commandées
par les lieutenans-generaux Paul Potiemkin, Serge Lwow, les
généraux-majors Maurice Lascy, Théodore Meknop.... Trois autres colonnes
... avaient pour chefs le comte de Samoïlow, les généraux Êlie de
Bezborodko, Michel Koutousow; les brigadiers Orlow, Platow,
Ribaupierre.... La troisième attaque par eau n'avait que deux colonnes,
sous les ordres des généraux-majors Ribas et Arséniew, des brigadiers
Markoff et Tchépéga," etc.--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 207.


"Oscharoffsky and Rostoffsky,
And all the others that end in-offsky.

* * * * *

And Kutousoff he cut them off," etc.

Southey's _March to Moscow_, 1813.]

[380] [Count Boris Petrowitch Scheremetov, Russian general, died 1819;
Prince Alexis Borisovitch Kourakin (1759-1829), and Count Alexis
Iwanowitch Moussine-Pouschkine (1744-1817) were distinguished statesmen;
Chrematoff is, perhaps, a rhyming double of Scherematoff, and Koklophti
"a match-piece" to Koclobski.]

{308}[381] [Captain Smith, in the song--

"A Captain bold, in Halifax,
That dwelt in country quarters,
Seduc'd a maid who hang'd herself
One Monday in her garters."

See George Colman's farce, _Love Laughs at Locksmiths_, 1818, p. 31.]

{309}[382] [Compare--

"While to my shame I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That for a fantasy and trick of fame
Go to their graves like beds."

_Hamlet_, act iv. sc. 4, lines 56-59.]

[hl] _The Conquest seemed not difficult_----.--[MS. erased.]

[383] ["On s'était proposé deux buts également avantageux, par la
construction de deux batteries sur l'île qui avoisine Ismaël: le
premier, de bombarder la place, d'en abattre les principaux édifices
avec du canon de quarante-huit, effet d'autant plus probable, que la
ville étant bâtie en amphithéâtre, presque aucun coup ne serait
perdu."--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 203.]

[384] ["Le second objet était de profiter de ce moment d'alarme pour que
la flottille, agissant en même temps, put détruire celle des Turcs. Un
troisième motif, et vraisemblablement le plus plausible, était de jeter
la consternation parmi les Turcs, et de les engager à
capituler."--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 203.]

_Unless they are as game as bull-dogs or even tarriers_.
or, _A thing which sometimes hath occurred to warriors_,
_Unless they happened to be as game as tarriers_.--
[MS. A. Alternative reading.]
_Unless they are Game as bull-dogs or even terriers_.--[MS. B.]

(Byron erased the reading of MS. B. and superscribed the reading of the

[385] ["Une habitude blâmable, celle de mépriser son ennemi, fut la
cause."--_Ibid._, p. 203.]

[386] [" ... du défaut de perfection dans la construction des batteries;
on voulait agir promptement, et on négligea de donner aux ouvrages la
solidité qu'ils exigaient."--_Ibid._, p. 203.]

{311}[387] ["Le même esprit fit manquer l'effet de trois brûlots; on
calcula mal la distance; on se pressa d'allumer la méche, ils brûlèrent
au milieu du fleuve, et quoiqu'il fût six heures du matin, les Turcs,
encore couchés, n'en prirent aucun ombrage."--_Hist. de la Nouvelle
Russie_, ii. 203.]

[388] ["1^er^ Dec. 1790. La flottille russe s'avança vers les sept
heures; il en était neuf lorsqu'elle se trouva à cinquante toises de la
ville [d'Ismaël]: elle souffrit, avec une constance calme, un feu de
mitraille et de mousqueterie...."--_Ibid._, p. 204.]

[389] [" ... près de six heures ... les batteries de terre secondaient
la flottille; mais on reconnut alors que les canonnades ne suffiraient
pas pour réduire la place, on fit la retraite à une heure. Un lançon
sauta pendant l'action, un autre dériva par la force du courant, et fut
pris par l'ennemi."'--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 204.]

{312}[390] [For Delhis, see _Poetical Works_, 1899, ii., note 1.]

[391] ["Les Turcs perdirent beaucoup de monde et plusieurs vaisseaux. A
peine la retraite des Russes fut-elle remarquée, que les plus braves
d'entre les ennemis se jetèrent dans de petites barques et essayèrent
une descente: le Comte de Damas les mit en fuite, et leur tua plusieurs
officiers et grand nombre de soldats."--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_,
p. 204.]

[392] ["On ne tarirait pas si on voulait rapporter tout ce que les
Russes firent de mémorable dans cette journée; pour conter les hauts
faits d'armes, pour particulariser toutes les actions d'éclat, il
faudrait composer des volumes."--_Ibid._, p. 204.]

[393] ["Parmi les étrangers, le prince de Ligne se distingua de manière
à mériter l'estime générale; de vrais chevaliers français, attirés par
l'amour de la gloire, se montrèrent dignes d'elle: les plus marquans
étaient le jeune Duc de Richelieu, les Comtes de Langeron et de
Damas."--_Ibid._, p. 204.

Andrault, Comte de Langeron, born at Paris, January 13, 1763, on the
outbreak of the Revolution (1790) took service in the Russian Army. He
fought against the Swedes in 1790, and the Turks in 1791, and, after
serving as a volunteer in the army of the Duke of Brunswick (1792-93),
returned to Russia, and was raised to the rank of general in 1799. He
commanded a division of the Russian Army in the German campaign of 1813,
and entered Paris with Blücher, March 30, 1814. He was afterwards
Governor of Odessa and of New Russia; and, a second time, fought against
the Turks in 1828. He died at St. Petersburg, July 4, 1831. Joseph
Elizabeth Roger, Comte de Damas d'Antigny, born at Paris, September 4,
1765, owed his commission in the Russian Army to the influence of the
Prince de Ligne. He fought against the Turks in 1787-88, and was
distinguished for bravery and daring. At the Restoration in 1814 he
re-entered the French Army, was made Governor of Lyons; shared the
temporary exile of Louis XVIII. at Ghent in 1815, and, in the following
year, as commandant of a division, took part in repressing the
revolutionary disturbances in the central and southern departments of
France. He died at Cirey, September 3, 1823.--_La Grande Encyclopédie_.]

{313}[394] [Charles Joseph, Prince de Ligne, was born at Brussels, May
12, 1735. In 1782 he visited St. Petersburg as envoy of the Emperor
Joseph II., won Catherine's favour, and was appointed Field Marshal in
the Russian Army. In 1788 he was sent to assist Potemkin at the siege of
Ochakof. His _Mélanges Militaires, etc._, were first published in 1795.
He died in November, 1814.

Josef de Ribas (1737-c. 1797).]

[395] ["L'Amiral de Ribas ... déclara, en plein conseil, que ce n'était
qu'en donnant l'assaut qu'on obtiendrait la place: cet avis parut hardi;
on lui opposa mille raisons, auxquelles il répondit par de meilleures."
--_Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii, 205.]

{314}[396] [Prince (Gregor Alexandrovitch) Potemkin, born 1736, died
October 15, 1791. "He alighted from his carriage in the midst of the
highway, threw himself on the grass, and died under a tree" (_Life of
Catherine II_., by W. Tooke, 1880, iii. 324). His character has been
drawn by Louis Philippe, Comte de Ségur, who, writes Tooke (_ibid_., p.
326), "lived a long time in habits of intimacy with him, and was so
obliging as to delineate it at our solicitation." "In his person were
collected the most opposite defects and advantages of every kind. He was
avaricious and ostentatious, ... haughty and obliging, politic and
confiding, licentious and superstitious, bold and timid, ambitious and
indiscreet; lavish of his bounties to his relations, his mistresses, and
his favourites, yet frequently paying neither his household nor his
creditors. His consequence always depended on a woman, and he was always
unfaithful to her. Nothing could equal the activity of his mind, nor the
indolence of his body. No dangers could appal his courage; no
difficulties force him to abandon his projects. But the success of an
enterprise always brought on disgust.... Everything with him was
desultory; business, pleasure, temper, carriage. His presence was a
restraint on every company. He was morose to all that stood in awe of
him, and caressed all such as accosted him with familiarity.... None had
read less than he; few people were better informed.... One while he
formed the project of becoming Duke of Courland; at another he thought
of bestowing on himself the crown of Poland. He frequently gave
intimations of an intention to make himself a bishop, or even a simple
monk. He built a superb palace, and wanted to sell it before it was
finished. In his youth he had pleased her [Catherine] by the ardour of
his passion, by his valour, and by his masculine beauty.... Become the
rival of Orloff, he performed for his sovereign whatever the most
romantic passion could inspire. He put out his eye, to free it from a
blemish which diminished his beauty. Banished by his rival, he ran to
meet death in battle, and returned with glory."]

{315}[397] ["Ce projet, remis à un autre jour, éprouva encore les plus
grandes difficultés; son courage les surmonta: il ne s'agíssait que de
déterminer le Prince Potiemkin; il y réussit. Tandis qu'il se démenait
pour l'exécution de projet agréé, on construisait de nouvelles
batteries; on comptait, le 12 décembre, quatre-vingts pièces de canon
sur le bord du Danube, et cette journée se passa en vives
canonnades."--_Histoire de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 205.]

[hn] _Into all aspirants for martial praise_.--[MS. erased.]

[398] ["Le 13^e^, une partie des troupes était embarquée; on allait
lever le siège: un courrier arrive.... Ce courrier annonce, de la part
du prince, que le maréchal Souwarow va prendre le commandement des
forces réunies sous Ismaël."--_Ibid._, p. 205.]

{316}[399] ["La lettre du Prince Potiemkin à Souwarow est très courte;
elle peint le caractere de ces deux personnages. La voici dans toute sa
teneur: _'Vous prendrez Ismaël à quel frix que ce soit!'_"--_Hist, de la
Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 205.]

[400] ["[Le courrier] est témoin des cris de joie du Turc, qui se
croyait à la fin de ses maux."-_Ibid_., p. 205.]

[401] ["Beat," as in "dead-beat," is occasionally used for
"beaten."--See _N.E.D._, art. "Beat," 10.]

[402] ["Le 16^e^, on voit venir de loin deux hommes courant à toute
bride: on les prit pour des Kozaks; l'un était Souwarow, et l'autre son
guide, portant un paquet gros comme le poing, et renfermant le bagage du
général."-_Hist, de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 205.

M. de Castelnau in his description of the arrival of Suvóroff on the
field of battle (_Hist, de la_ N.R., 1827, ii. pp, 205, 206) summarizes
the Journal of the Duc de Richelieu. The original passage runs as

"L'arrivée du comte Souvorow produisit un grand effet parmi les
troupes.... La manière d'être plus que simple, puis-qu'il logeait sous
une canonnière, et qu'il n'avait pas même de chaises dans sa tente, son
affabilité, sa bonhomie lui conciliaient l'affection de tous les
individus de son armée. Cet homme singulier qui ressemble plus à un chef
de cosaques ou de Tartares, qu'au général d'une armée européenne, est
doué d'une intrépidité et d'une hardiesse peu communes.... La manière de
vivre, de s'habiller et de parler du comte Souvorow, est aussi
singulière que ses opinions militaires.... II mangeait dans sa tente
assis par terre autour d'une natte sur laquelle il prenait le plus
détestable repas. L'apres-midi, un semblable repas lui servait de
souper, il s'endormait ensuite pendant quelques heures, passait une
partie de la nuit à chanter, et a la pointe du jour il sortait presque
nu et se roulait sur l'herbe assurant que cet exercice lui était
necessaire pour le preserver des rhumatismes.... Sa manière de
s'exprimer dans toutes les langues est aussi singulière que toute sa
façon d'être, ses phrases sont incohérentes, et s'il n'est pas insensé,
il dit et fait du moins tout ce qu'il faut pour le paraître; mais il est
heureux et cette quality dont le Cardinal Mazarin faisait tant de cas,
est, à bon droit, fort estimée de l'Impératrice et du Prince Potemkin
... Le moment de l'arrivée du Comte Souvorow fut annonce par une
décharge générale des batteries ou camp et de la flotte."--_Journal de mon
Voyage en Allemagne_. _Soc, Imp. d'Hist de Russie_, 1886, tom. liv. pp.
168, 169.]

{317}[ho] _That sage John Bull_----.--[MS.]

_That fool John Bull_----.--[MS. erased.]

{319}[403] ["La première attaque était composée de trois colonnes ...
Trois autres colonnes, destinées a la seconde attaque, avaient pour
chefs, etc.... La troisième attaque par eau n'avait que deux
colonnes."--_Hist, de la Nouvelle Russie_, ii. 207.]

[404] ["On construisit de nouvelles batteries le 18^e^.... On tint un
conseil de guerre, on y examina les plans pour l'assaut proposés par M.
de Ribas, ils réunirent tous les souffrages."--_Ibid._, p. 208.]

[hp] _For once by some odd sort of magnanimity._--[MS. erased.]

[hq] _Bellona shook her spear with much sublimity._--[MS. erased.]

[405] Fact: Suwaroff did this in person.

[hr]---- _and neither swerve nor spill._--[MS. erased.]

[406] ["Le 19^e^ et le 20^e^, Souwarow exerçailes soldats; il leur
montra comment il fallait s'y prendre pour escalader; il enseigna aux
recrues la manière de donner le coup de baïonnette."--_Ibid_., p. 208.]

{320}[407] ["Pour ces exercices d'un nouveau genre, il se servit de
fascines disposées de manière a représenter un Turc."-_Hist, de la
Nauvelle Russie_, ii. 208.]

_At which your wise men laughed, but all their Wit is_
_Lost, for his repartee was taking cities._--[MS. erased.]

_For some were thinking of their wives and families,_
_And others of themselves_ (_as poet Samuel is_).
--[MS. Alternative reading.]
_And others of themselves_ (_as my friend Samuel is_).
--[MS. erased.]

[408] [For a detailed account of Suvóroff's personal characteristics,
see _The Life of Field-Marshal Souvaroff_, by L.M.P. Tranchant de
Laverne, 1814, pp. 267-291; and _Suvóroff_, by Lieut.-Colonel Spalding,
1890, pp. 222-229.

Byron's epithet "buffoon" (line 5) may, perhaps, be traced to the
following anecdote recorded by Tranchant de Laverne (p. 281): "During
the first war of Poland ... he published, in the order of the day, that
at the first crowing of the cock the troops would march to attack the
enemy, and caused the spy to send word that the Russians would be upon
them some time after midnight. But about eight o'clock Souvarof ran
through the camp, imitating the crowing of a cock.... The enemy,
completely surprised, lost a great number of men."

For his "praying" (line 6), _vide ibid._, pp. 272, 273: "He made a short
prayer after each meal, and again when going to bed. He usually
performed his devotions before an image of St. Nicholas, the patron
saint of Russia."

"Half-dirt" (line 5) is, however, a calumny (_ibid_. p. 272): "It was
his custom to rise at the earliest dawn; several buckets of cold water
were thrown over his naked body."

The same writer (p. 268) repudiates the charges of excessive barbarity
and cruelty brought against Suvóroff by C.F.P. Masson, in his _Mémoires
Secrets sur la Russie_ (_vide_, e.g., ed. 1800, i. 311): "Souvorow ne
scroit que le plus ridicule bouffon, s'il n'étoit pas montré le plus
barbare guerrier. C'est un monstre, qui renferme dans le corps d'un
singe l'âme d'un chien de boucher. Attila, son compatriote, et don't il
descend, peut-être ne fut ni si heureux, ni si féroce."

Suvóroff did not regard himself as "half-demon." "Your pencil," he
reminded the artist Müller, "will delineate the features of my face.
These are visible: but my inner man is hidden. I must tell you that I
have shed rivers of blood. I tremble, but I love my neighbour. In my
whole life I have made no one unhappy; not an insect hath perished by my
hand. I was little; I was big. In fortune's ebb and flow, relying on
God, I stood immovable--even as now." (_Suvóroff_, 1890, p. 228,

{322}[409] [See, for instance, _The Storm_, in "Souvarof's Catechism,"
Appendix (pp. 299-305) to the _Life, etc._, by Tranchant de Laverne,
1814: "Break down the fence.... Fly over the walls! Stab them on the
ramparts!... Fire down the streets! Fire briskly!... Kill every enemy in
the streets! Let the cavalry hack them!" etc.]

{323}[410] [The "tusk" of the plough is the coulter or share. Compare
"Dens vomeris" (Virg., _Georg._, i. 22).]

_Of thine imaginary deathless bough_
_The unebbing sea of blood and tears must flow_.--[MS. erased.]

{326}[hv] _Entailed upon Humanity's estate_.--[MS. erased.]

_As a brook's stream to cope with Ocean's flood shed_
_But still we moderns equal you in bloodshed_.--[MS. erased.]

_As in a General's letter when well whacked_
_Whatever deeds be done I will relate 'em,_
_With some small variations in the text_
_Of killed and wounded who will not be missed_.--[MS. erased.]

[hy] _Whose leisure hours are wasted on an harlot_.--[MS. erased.]

{329}[hz] _The desperate death-cry and the Battle's roar_.--[MS.

[411] End of Canto 7. 1822.--[MS.]

Lord George Gordon Byron