Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 6.djvu/296

This page has been validated.
264
[CANTO VI.
DON JUAN.


PREFACE TO CANTOS VI., VII., AND VIII.

The details of the siege of Ismail in two of the following cantos (i.e. the seventh and eighth) are taken from a French Work, entitled Histoire de la Nouvelle Russie.[1] Some of the incidents attributed to Don Juan really occurred, particularly the circumstance of his saving the infant, which was the actual case of the late Duc de Richelieu, then a young volunteer in the Russian service, and afterward the founder and benefactor of Odessa, where his name and memory can never cease to be regarded with reverence.

In the course of these cantos, a stanza or two will be found relative to the late Marquis of Londonderry,[2] but written some time before his decease. Had that person's oligarchy died with him, they would have been suppressed; as it is, I am aware of nothing in the manner of his death or of his life to prevent the free expression of the opinions of all whom his whole existence was consumed in endeavouring to enslave. That he was an amiable man in private life, may or may not be true: but with this the public have nothing to do; and as to lamenting his death, it will be time enough when Ireland has ceased to mourn for his birth. As a minister, I, for one of millions, looked upon him as the most despotic in

  1. [The Marquis Gabriel de Castelnau, author of an Essai sur L'Histoire ancienne et moderne de la Nouvelle Russie (Sec. Ed. 3 tom. 1827), was, at one time, resident at Odessa, where he met and made the acquaintance of Armand Emanuel, Duc de Richelieu, who took part in the siege of Ismail. M. Léon de Crousaz-Crétet describes him as "ancien surintendant des théâtres sous l'Empereur Paul."—Le Duc de Richelieu, 1897, p. 83.]
  2. [For Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, second Marquis of Londonderry (1769-1822), see Letters, 1900, iv. 108, 109, note 1.]