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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/122

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90
THE GIAOUR.


Where cold Obstruction's apathy ^
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,*-
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon ;
YeSj but for these and these alone,
Some moments, aye, one treacherous hour.
He still might doubt the Tyrant's power;
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed.
The first, last look by Death revealed ! ^
Such is the aspect of this shore ; 90
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more ! ^
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for Soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath ;

i. Whose tcnuh thrills with mortality.
And curdles to the gazer's heart. — MS. of Fair Copy.]

1. •' Aye, but to die, and go we know not where ;
To lie in cold obstruction ?"
Measure for Measure, act iii. so. I, lines II5, 1 16.
[Compare, too, Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza iv. line 5.]

2. I trust that few of my readers have ever had an opportunity of witnessing what is here attempted in description ; but those who have will probably retain a painful remembrance of that singular beauty which pervades, with few exceptions, the features of the dead, a few hours, and but for a few hours, after " the spirit is not there." It is to be remarked in cases of violent death by gun-shot wounds, the expression is always that of languor, whatever the natural energy of the sufferer's character ; but in death from a stab the countenance preserves its traits of feeling or ferocity, and the mind its bias, to the last. [According to Medwin (1S24, 4to, p. 223), an absurd charge, based on the details of this note, was brought against Byron, that he had been guilty of murder, and spoke from experience,]

3. [In Dallaway's Constajitinople (p. 2) [Rev. James Dallaway (1763- 1 834) published Constantinople Ancient afid Modern, etc., in I797]> a book which Lord Byron is not unlikely to have consulted, I find a passage quoted from Gillies' History of Greece (vol. i. p. 335), which contains, perhaps, the first seed of the thought thus expanded into full perfection by genius: "The present state of

Greece, compared to the ancient, is the silent obscurity of the grave contrasted with the vivid lustre of active life." — Moore, Note to Edition 1832.]