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ODE TO NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE.

'Expende Annibalem:-quot libras in duce summo
Invenies?"-Juvenal, Sat. x.*

"The Emperor Nepos was acknowledged by the Senate, by the Italians, and by the Provincials of Gaul; his moral virtues, and military talents, were loudly celebrated; and those who derived any private benefit from his governmeut announced in prophetic strains the restoration of public felicity. * • By this shameful abdication, he protracted his life a few years, in a very ambiguous state, between an Emperor and an Exile, till "-GIBBON'S Decline and Fall, vol. vi., p. 220.†

["Great Hannibal within the balance lay,

And tell how many pounds his ashes weigh."-DRYDEN

Sir John Paterson had the curiosity to weigh the ashes of a person discovered a few years since in the parish of Eccles. Wonderful to relate, he found the whole did not exceed in weight one ounce and a half! Alas! the quot libras itself is a satirical exaggeration.-GIFFORD.]

t["I send you an additional motto from Gibbon, which you will find singularly appropriate."-Lord E. to Mr. Murray, April 12, 1814.]

U

VOL I

INTRODUCTION TO THE ODE TO NAPOLEON

BUONAPARTE.

On the morning of the ninth of April, 1814, Lord Byron reiterated the resolution he formed, on the publication of " The Corsair," to cease from versifying till he was turned of thirty. "No more rhyme for-or rather from-me. I have taken my leave of the stage, and henceforth will mountebank it no longer." In the evening came the news of the abdication of Fontainebleau, and the next day the poet violated his vow by composing this Ode. It originally consisted of only eleven stanzas, and the subsequent additions, which were requested by Mr. Murray to avoid the stamp duty then imposed on a single sheet, are of an inferior cast. The three last stanzas were never printed during the poet's life. "I don't," he said, "like them at all, and they had better be left out. The fact is I can't do anything I am asked to do, however gladly I would; and at the end of a week my interest in a composition goes off." While refusing in the face of his total-abstinence pledge to put his name to the Ode, he directed Mr. Murray to proclaim openly whose it was, and declared his intention of incorporating it with his avowed productions. "Nothing," he said, "but the occasion which was physically irresistible made me swerve; and I thought an anonyme within my pact with the public." He was prophetic as well as poetic on the event. "I shall think higher of rhyme and reason, and very humbly of your heroic people, till-Elba become a volcano, and sends him out again. I can't think it all over yet." Southey confessed that there was in the "Ode to Napoleon," as in all Lord Byron's poems, great spirit and originality, though the meaning was not always clearly developed-which is strong praise from a hostile quarter, however inadequate to the merits of a piece that contains such grand and energetic stanzas. Lord Byron once asked Southey in conversation if he did not think Napoleon a great man in his villany. The Laureate replied, "No-that he was a mean-minded villain," and on the publication of the Ode he exclaimed that Lord Byron had come round to this opinion. With Southey's conception of the character of Napoleon we have nothing to do, but we can see no ground for his imputing a change of sentiment to Lord Byron, who appears to us to have been consistent with himself. To say that a person is a great man, and a villain, can only signify that he is intellectually great, and morally the reverse-an estimate confirmed and not contradicted by the Ode. The main objection to the poet's doctrine is that dopts an unworthy standard of heroism when he inveighs against Napoleon for refusing to fling away life with fortune, which,-not to urge any higher argument, is the resource of the cowardly, the feeble-minded, and the

insane.

ODE TO NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE.

I.

"Tis done-but yesterday a King!
And arm'd with Kings to strive-
And now thou art a nameless thing:
So abject-yet alive!

Is this the man of thousand thrones,
Who strew'd our earth with hostile bones,
And can he thus survive?1

Since he, miscall'd the Morning Star,
Nor man nor fiond hath fallen so far.

II.

Ill-minded man! why scourge thy kind
Who bow'd so low the knee?
By gazing on thyself grown blind,
Thou taught'st the rest to see.

With might unquestion'd,-power to save,-
Thine only gift hath been the grave,
To those that worshipp'd thee;
Nor till thy fall could mortals guess
Ambition's less than littleness!

III.

Thanks for that lesson-it will teach
To after-warriors more,

Than high Philosophy can preach,
And vainly preach'd before.
That spell upon the minds of men
Breaks never to unite again,

That led them to adore

Those Pagod things of sabre sway,
With fronts of brass, and feet of clay.

IV.

The triumph, and the vanity,
The rapture of the strife-2
The earthquake voice of Victory,
To thee the breath of life;
The sword, the sceptre, and that sway
Which man seem'd made but to obey,
Wherewith renown was rife-

All quell'd!-Dark Spirit! what must be
The madness of thy memory!

The Desolator desolate!

The Victor overthrown! The Arbiter of others' fate

A Suppliant for his own! Is it some yet imperial hope

That with such change can calmly cope?
Or dread of death alone?

To die a prince--or live a slave-
Thy choice is most ignobly brave!

VI.

He who of old would rend the oak,
Dream'd not of the rebound;3
Chain'd by the trunk he vainly broke
Alone-how look'd he round?
Thou, in the sternness of thy strength,
An equal deed hast done at length,
And darker fate hast found:
He fell, the forest prowlers' prey;
But thou must eat thy heart away!

VII.

-

The Roman, when his burning heart
Was slaked with blood of Rome,
Threw down the dagger-dared depart,
In savage grandeur, home.--
He dared depart in utter scorn
Of men that such a yoke had borne,
Yet left him such a doom!

His only glory was that hour
Of self-upheld abandon'd power.

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