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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Childe Harold's pilgrimage

by Lord Byron

Excerpt:

A fictitious character is introduced for the sake of giving some connection to the piece; which, however, makes no pretension to regularity. It has been suggested to me by friends, on whose opinions I set a high value, that in this fictitious character, "Childe Harold," I may incur the suspicion of having intended some real personage; this I beg leave, once for all, to disclaim—Harold is the child of imagination, for the purpose I have stated. In some very trivial particulars, and those merely local, there might be grounds for such a notion; but in the main points, I should hope, none whatever.

It is almost superfluous to mention that the appellation "Childe," as "Childe Waters/5 "Childe Childers," &c., is used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which I have adopted. The "Good Night," in the beginning of the first canto, was suggested by "Lord Maxwell's Good Night," in the Border Minstrelsy, edited by Mr. Scott.1

With the different poems which have been published on Spanish subjects, there may be found some slight coincidence in the first part, which treats of the Peninsula, but it can only be casual; as, with the exception of a few concluding stanzas, the whole of this poem was written in the Levant.

The stanza of Spenser, according to one of our most successful poets, admits of every variety. Dr. Beattie makes the following observation;—"Not long ago, I began a poem in the style and stanza of Spenser, in which I propose to give full scope to my inclination, and be either droll or pathetic, descriptive or sentimental, tender or satirical, as the humour strikes me; for, if I mistake not, the measure which I have adopted admits equally of all these kinds of composition."2 — Strengthened in my opinion by such authority, and by the example of some in the highest order of Italian poets, I shall make no apology for attempts at similar variations in the following composition; satisfied that if they are unsuccessful, their failure must be in the execution, rather than in the design sanctioned by the practice of Ariosto, Thomson, and Beattie.

London, February, 1812.

1 [See Sir Walter Scott's Poetical Works, vol. u. p. 141, ed. 1834.]

2 Beattie's Letters.

ADDITION TO THE PREFACE.

I Have now waited till almost all our periodical journals have distributed their usual portion of criticism. To the justice of the generality of their criticisms I have nothing to object: it would ill become me to quarrel with their very slight degree of censure, when, perhaps, if they had been less kind they had been more candid. Returning, therefore, to all and each my best thanks for their liberality, on one point alone shall I venture an observation. Amongst the many objections justly urged to the very indifferent character of the "vagrant Childe," (whom, notwithstanding many hints to the contrary, I still maintain to be a fictitious personage,) it has been stated, that, besides the anachronism, he is very unknightly, as the times of the knights were times of love, honour, and so forth. Now, it so happens that the good old times, when "Pamour du bon vieux terns, Pamour antique" flourished, were the most profligate of all possible centuries. Those who have any doubt on this subject may consult Sainte-Palaye, passim, and more particularly vol. ii. p. 69.1 The vows of chivalry were no better kept than any other vows whatsoever;

1 ["Qu'onlise dans l'Auteur du roman de Gerard de Roussillon, en Provencal, les details tres-circonstaneies dans lesquels il entre sur la reception faite par le Comte Gerard al'ambassadeur du roi Charles; on y verra des particularities singulieres, qui donnent une etrange idee des mceurs et de la politesse de ces siecles aussi corrompus qu'ignorans."—Memoires sur PJlncienne Chevalerie, par M. de la Curne de Sainte-Palaye, Paris, 1781.]


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