Persuasion, Byron, and the Turkish tale.
44 See e.g. Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 110.
45 The Corsair, II. 265-8 (Works, iii. 180). THOUGH Jane Austen took up the most wildly acclaimed of Byron's Turkish tales soon after it appeared, she gave no sign of being swept off her feet.(1) 'I have read the Corsair, mended my petticoat, & have nothing else to do', she noted in a letter to her sister, and the remark--coming from a writer in whose sure hands bathos is often a weapon--has encouraged the view that Byron's poem met for once with small respect.(2) 'Shirts, stockings, cravats and waistcoats' put a stop to Catherine Morland's frenzied flights of fancy, and there is certainly melodrama enough in the Turkish tales to link them with the horrid novels that Jane Austen burlesques in Northanger Abbey, the work she was revising (from the long-completed Susan) while Persuasion was still on the stocks.(3) Does Captain Benwick read Byron, then, just to enable a further exercise in quixotry, with a male character, this time, at the mercy of the latest vogue?(4)
I aim to show that Byron plays a more vital part in Persuasion than critics have granted.(5) Though a morbid strain in his writing comes under attack and the world-weary posturings of Benwick crumble almost as comically as Catherine's Gothic, his work is none the less discussed with the seriousness due to a 'first-rate poet' in an age remarkable for its poetry. Throughout her career, and in her later novels especially, Jane Austen uses allusion to signal affinity as much as to barb satire.(6) In Mansfield Park Fanny's reflex-like recourse to Cowper marks her out as a heroine of sensibility, while references to his Tirocinium and The Task create a wider context for the internal debates on education and 'improvement'; even the decorative quotations from Scott's Lay fleetingly project a chivalric aura in keeping with the Burkean tenor of the whole.(7) What complicates Byron's presence in Persuasion is that he is at once the butt of criticism and an index to the novel's quick. He is made to preside over the meeting with Benwick in order to draw out a dark analogy between the story of the Captain whose fiancee has died and Anne's own aborted romance, and repeated allusion shows how deeply implicated he is in the novel's probing of passion and the experience of loss. It seems to me, in sum, that Jane Austen draws on her reader's knowledge of Byron's work--in ways that are now easily missed--not only to argue with her young contemporary, but to indicate a troubled kinship of concern. Byron serves as an available guide to much that is strikingly new in both the vision and the writing of Persuasion.
Benwick's appropriations of his favourite poet are as blatantly egocentric as they are earnest. The lines he repeats with tremulous feeling are chosen to mirror his plight, imaging, we are told, 'a broken heart, or a mind destroyed by wretchedness'. While Byron often attracted reading of this kind, partly no doubt because of his own sly self-reference, the Turkish tales have a wider significance to offer. Benwick singles out The Giaour and The Bride of Abydos which give him particularly rich opportunity for self-expression, but when Jane Austen later alludes to The Corsair (already in a sixth edition at the time Anne and the Captain have their talks)(8) it is to engage with Byron thematically, focusing on a feminist issue addressed by the poem. Benwick's Byronism, for its part, contributes to her handling of constancy, a theme as central to the novel as it is to the tales.
One of the most memorable (and now most anthologized) passages in The Giaour opens with the line 'He who hath bent him o'er the dead', and any reader versed in Byron would have guessed it to be among the lines that Benwick quotes.(9) In context the passage works as a metaphor for the Turkish rape of Greece, but it holds a key also to the ensuing narrative. For the poem hinges on the repining Giaour, a Venetian incursor into the Levant, whose heart has been broken many years back by the brutal loss of his lover--a beauty from the harem sewn into a sack and sunk into the sea by the avengeful Pasha. In this first and most experimental of his Turkish tales Byron devises a variety of means to evoke the sense of a life arrested and utterly transformed by an event buried in the past.(10) Told in fragments, the tale itself reflects the mind of the hero who is likened to a ruin before he brings the poem to a close with his narrative.(11) But more compelling is Byron's capricious switching of tense and viewpoint which has the effect of telescoping the passage of years;(12) and particularly poignant the device of a single, repeatedly surfacing gesture--the backward glance of the Giaour as he gallops towards his fateful tryst--that spells out the irrevocable outcome of his decision. Like the surviving pieces of his story, the hero bears the imprint of 'characters unworn by time'.(13)
The Giaour was in many ways a seminal poem. It prompted from Byron a run of less inspired if more polished works in the Turkish mode, and it assembled an audience, later in the decade, for Moore's madly popular Lalla Rookh (1817).(14) Jane Austen was no devotee of exotica (she refused to sit through The Trances of Nourjahad even though Elliston played),(15) but between Byron's poem and Persuasion there are some insistent parallels, none the less. Through the eyes of Benwick we focus on the tale as an impassioned description of 'hopeless agony', and while the phrase already prepares us for Anne's caveats against indulgence, it also recalls her own situation which she considers quite as bleak as that of her bereaved friend: '"he has not, perhaps, a more sorrowing heart than I have. I cannot believe his prospects so blighted for ever. He is younger than I am; younger in feeling, if not in fact"'.
Anne proves right in her contention: though Benwick is re-engaged within just over a year of receiving the news of Fanny Harville's death, her own standards of constancy turn out to be truly Byronic. One of the great triumphs of Persuasion is the evocation, in the early chapters, of a loss that is both persistent and all but overwhelming. Anne's mental landscape is dominated, as severely as the Giaour's, by a single landmark, her renunciation of Wentworth in the distant summer of 1806. Jane Austen succeeds remarkably in winning assent to the claim that 'to retentive feelings eight years may be little more than nothing'. A chief resource here is the life of routine at Kellynch Hall which, while it foreshortens time (instance the paragraph on Elizabeth with its refrain 'for thirteen years', pp. 6-7), also demonstrates the emptiness of what can pass for public reality. Iterative verbs are used to conjure up an existence drained of freshness and specificity--a well-worn utterance being tagged on one occasion 'said Mrs Clay, for Mrs Clay was present'. And Anne is seen to suffer, in habitual form, from the withdrawal noted as a symptom of Benwick's grief--adept though she is in accustoming herself to the 'oblivion' and 'nothingness' which answer her intensities. Through the thin ether of Sir Walter's sphere her short-lived romance shines with a radiance as undiminished as the effect of Lady Russell's advice, itself preserved in a miraculous present tense by oratio obliqua. In view of Anne's apparently irreversible loss of bloom and spirit, advice has long yielded place, however, to an 'anxiety which borders on hopelessness'. It is the spectre of Anne's spinsterhood that gives Lady Russell a touch of Byronic despair.
When Anne compares herself to Benwick her final thought is that he is more resilient because 'younger as a man' (p. 97, my italics). She takes this point further in her famous speech on woman's constancy, made later in Wentworth's hearing, when she insists that the situation of women is such that they have little to distract them from what they feel. Byron was to put words remarkably similar to Anne's into the mouth of his Julia, almost at the start of Don Juan's career:
Man's love is of his life a thing apart, 'Tis woman's whole existence; man may range The court, camp, church, the vessel, and the mart, Sword, gown, gain, glory, offer in exchange Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart, And few there are whom these can not estrange; Man has all these resources, we but one, To love again, and be again undone.(16)
But the seasoned narrator of comic epic differs greatly from the younger and more plangently autobiographical teller of the Turkish tales. In these the sexes are equally distinguished for their constancy. In fact the heroine in The Bride of Abydos supplies Benwick with as fit a model as the Giaour, for she loses her lover shortly after they have exchanged vows, and goes on to die of grief.(17) Still, undying love is voiced for the most part by the heroes who take a lion's share of the lines, and alone emit the distinct and lingering essence of Byronic despair. Far from winning distraction from their grief through engagement in the world, the heroes of the Turkish tales eject themselves from it, proving love to have been, in the end, the whole of their existence. When the Giaour goes to live among monks (spurning their devotions) he performs the male (and sceptic) version of retiring to the nunnery. There for six years, consumed by 'what time shall strengthen, not efface', and deeply estranged ('within his cell alone'), he stares at the 'dreary void':
The leafless desart of the mind-- The waste of feelings unemploy'd-- Who would be doom'd to gaze upon A sky without a cloud or sun?(18)
In Persuasion Anne's composure continually masks the degree to which her 'desolate tranquillity' really is desolate, but her situation corresponds with surprising fullness to that of the heartbroken heroes of the tales. Through Benwick, whose Giaour-like mood soon passes--despite his hypersensitive disposition and special (even feminine) retirement--Jane Austen restores the enduringly sorrowful heart to womanhood. She finds the spinster and the widow in the breast of Byron's superman.
To mark out parallels between the two writers, however, is to cut across a strong divergence in outlook. This comes out plainly in the novel's criticism of Benwick who, so long as he embraces a Byronic image, turns his back on any source of renewal. The reading Anne recommends to her friend is calculated to 'rouse and fortify the mind', and her counsel is unmistakably imbued with that Christian 'temper of forbearance and patience' which Jane Austen celebrated in her prayers.(19) Byronic gloom was to come under suspicion from a variety of quarters. Shortly after the publication of Persuasion, Peacock pilloried a vapid Mr Cypress for reneging on his early promise of commitment to the radical cause.(20) Jane Austen's sights seem to be levelled rather at a brand of romantic paganism. Anne's glossing of the moral prose that she prescribes as an antidote to Benwick's cult of despair inevitably brings Dr Johnson to mind; and it was, indeed, in a collection of letters--which Jane Austen would have rated among the 'finest'--that the sage identified grief, for Mrs Thrale, as a species of idleness and urged her, after her husband's death, to cultivate her emotions and not 'represent life as darker than it is'.(21) Anne's words have the ring of eighteenth-century exhortation; at such moments she is close to reviving the prudential voice of Elinor Dashwood who at the height of her suffering renounces the ideal of constancy in a spirit of Christian resignation:
'And after all, Marianne, after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one's happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant--it is not fit--it is not possible that it should be so.'(22)
Like Elinor, Anne owes her self-possession to 'the effect of constant and painful exertion', and like Elinor again, her moral strength is demonstrated by the intensity of the feelings that she keeps in check.(23)
Between the two heroines there is, nevertheless, an overwhelming difference, and this can be traced in part to an important change in representation and emphasis. Whereas Elinor's feelings are mediated to the reader through the measured language of the narrator, or frequently through a reflective kind of self-report, Anne's are given comparatively raw, and seem to belong to the moment. An unusually direct registration of thought and emotion goes into creating this impression of physical immediacy, commented on by readers ever since the novel appeared.(24) Many of the intensest scenes pass with few words, and a notation of bodily signs doubles with--momentarily almost displacing--the summary of mental states.(25) Where complexions in Sense and Sensibility tend to come, like eggs, in white or brown, the hues of Persuasion are ever-fluctuating, and at moments of crisis Anne is typically caught up in a whirl of conflicting sensation. That Anne's actual responses are occasionally at odds with her verbal formulations has been noted by the critic Thomas Lockwood, and there is truth in his contention that Jane Austen exposes the chasm that separates reason from the life of feeling in Persuasion, setting their respective claims at jar.(26) Such an approach turns to psychological account that division of focus which Marilyn Butler points to in her influential reading when she writes: 'But enveloping this nineteenth-century novel of the inner life is an eighteenth-century novel in search of a centre.'(27) Certainly the world that Jane Austen presents in Persuasion is by her own standards remarkably intractable. Anne, for all her control and maturity, is a prey to 'disordered' and 'opposite' feelings; the good intentions of Lady Russell have adverse effects. Hierarchy parts company with responsibility: the landed seem peculiarly ill-fit to rule; and while society bristles with egotists, the more sociable rate as nobodies. Merit is at the mercy not only of skewed rank, however, but also of chance. Even the novel's happy ending is unsteadied for a moment by 'the tax of quick alarm', a vista of anxieties to come. And only chance saves Wentworth from going down in his unseaworthy first command on a voyage to the West Indies--where, a decade before, the fiance of Jane's sister Cassandra had perished.(28)
But the stress in Persuasion on the irrationality of existence--a stress fully in keeping with the evangelicalism often imputed to the late work--is qualified by the mere fact that the conventions of romantic comedy prevail at all. The narrator is always eager, indeed, to salvage the traces of an unfallen world in which dispositions and events conform to plan. A case in point is the story of Mrs Smith who corrects the poor example set by Benwick's despondency; for although worse off than the Captain in every way, the impoverished and ailing widow shows a resilience that is inspired:
this was not a case of fortitude or of resignation only . . . here was that elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power of turning readily from evil to good, and of finding employment which carried her out of herself, which was from Nature alone. It was the choicest gift of Heaven.
But such shafts of light serve only to intensify the sombre struggle that occupies the central reaches of the text. Anne's spontaneous discovery, shortly after Wentworth's visit, that her feelings have not altered in eight years, is both 'absurd' and against 'all her reasonings'; but a deeper paradox lies in the fact that she is exhilarated by the meeting. If Anne finds a 'benefit' as well as a duty in curbing her affliction, it is true also that she draws strength from what she fights against.
There can be no doubt that Anne's attraction as a heroine has much to do with her passionate nature--with her single-minded love, that is to say, for Frederick Wentworth. All romantic comedy has, of course, a vested interest in constancy, and in Jane Austen's novels it is only the pseudo-romantics--Marianne, Louisa, Benwick--who are seen to change partners midstream. The passion which it is Anne's task to check so long as there seems scant possibility of its being returned becomes more fully covenanted as Frederick overcomes his prejudice towards her. From the perspective of its close, the novel provides an unqualified celebration of undying love, and it is interesting to find the narrator toying, a trifle nervously, in the last pages, with the language of full-blown romance. So it is that Anne after her exchange with Wentworth at the concert surrenders to 'musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy' or revels, after the proposal, in 'high-wrought felicity', though not without due meditation. A scene crucial to the changing modality of Anne's passion is brought in by Wentworth's remarks on the engagement of Benwick and Louisa--his protestations are sharp and adroitly self-revealing:
'A man like him, in his situation! With a heart pierced, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville was a very superior creature; and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman!--He ought not--he does not.'
Here Wentworth exactly inverts Eleanor Dashwood's '"it is not meant--it is not fit"', and his plea is later taken up by Captain Harville: '"Poor Fanny! she would not have forgotten him so soon . . . It was not in her nature"'. A renewed faith in the power of 'a first, strong attachment' propels the novel to its close.
Despite the Christian concern with fortitude and temperance, there is much in Jane Austen's treatment of love in Persuasion that ties in with Byron's preoccupations in the Turkish tales. His fascination with passions 'antithetically mixt' prompts him to insert in these, by way of explanation, a host of references to the myth of a fall.(29) And the narrative of each tale circles devotedly about an ideal of impeccable constancy.(30) Byron has no monopoly of this last theme, to be sure, but his treatment of it is none the less distinct, and when Jane Austen clarifies the idea of 'firmness' in Persuasion through an extended allusion to The Corsair, she refines on his argument.
Constancy works as a sort of redemptive force in the tales, extenuating darker expressions of the human character.(31) It is seen as an essentially noble trait which happens, perhaps uniquely, to be in accord with nature itself. The hero who dares to live out his deepest impulses will find amid the welter of his deeds one source of grace, for constancy, as the Giaour explains, is rooted in the instinctual life:
'Tis true, that, like that bird of prey, With havock have I mark'd my way-- But this was taught me by the dove-- To die--and know no second love. This lesson yet hath man to learn, Taught by the thing he dares to spurn-- The bird that sings within the brake, The swan that swims upon the lake, One mate, and one alone, will take.(32)
Truth to natural history (whatever the vagaries of the Giaour's lore) is what separates Byron's heroes from 'boasting boys' whose shallow hearts fail to measure up to the grandeur of their setting. And the ploy here is general to the Turkish tales, for Byron, in company with many writers of the period who sought a shortcut to the psyche in the exotic, is out to project an image of the natural man. The paradigm of humanity that Goethe pursued in Italy, Byron located in the Levant, since as he notes in shorthand of Don Juan and Haidee locked in an embrace, 'they form a group that's quite antique / Half naked, loving, natural, and Greek'.(33) On the premiss that distance (and time in this context is often caught up mythically in space) swallows all but essential traits, writers found in the tramontane a way of cutting through parochial manners, and of brushing aside the delicacy skirting issues such as male aggression or the sexual desires of women. For all their aura of enchantment, oriental tales could tell home truths, truths that were as often political as erotic, which no doubt accounts for their frequent association in the period with the art of subculture or with emergent nationalism.(34) In a preface to The Corsair Byron calls attention to the presence of an Irish subtext in the orientalism of Moore.(35) Years earlier, in a quest for the new German opera, Mozart had turned to Turkish tales twice in succession: Zaide, deemed 'too serious' for Vienna, was to remain untried; but both in it and in Die Entfuhrung the courtly conventions of Italian opera ushered in a heady brew of buffoonery and elemental passion.(36)
When Byron borrows the old operatic motif of rescue from the harem for his Corsair he creates a scene rich in implication.(37) He intended the tale to work, in part, as a political allegory, and his pirate-hero Conrad, who courageously takes on the serried forces of the Turkish Pasha, is identified, readily enough, as a republican.(38) Escape from confinement is perhaps the most potent, as well as obvious, symbol of liberation in literature of the period, and Byron was quick to seize on the potential of flight from the seraglio. In the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft the harem repeatedly figures as a metaphor for the lot of women in English society, and the same transposal was made by writers as diverse as Scott and Charlotte Bronte.(39) Rousseau, after all, in fashioning his model of womanhood in Emile, had found a finishing touch in the compliment 'fit for the harem';(40) and odalisque-like compliance forms one strand in the complex fantasies of Richardson's Lovelace.(41) It was while Byron was courting the intellectual Annabella Milbanke (who out-Harlowed Clarissa Harlowe)(42) that he wrote his Turkish tales, and in them he continually dramatizes the crushing effects of male oppression:
Oh! who young Leila's glance could read And keep that portion of his creed Which saith, that woman is but dust, A soulless toy for tyrant's lust?(43)
The language here is close to Wollstonecraft's, but where, for the author of the Vindication, exit from the harem entails a sexual fast, in Byron's scheme the harem gate opens on to the highway of grand passion.(44) Only once the heroines in his tales have tasted freedom do they experience what it is to fall in love, and this sequence is particularly conspicuous in The Corsair.
Here Byron's pirate-hero orders his men to save the women from the burning harem in the course of a counter-attack on the Turkish camp, and Conrad himself snatches the most lovely of the Pasha's wives from the flames, chivalrously carrying her off to safety, until with a change in the tide of fortune, they are both captured. Gulnare, true to the maxim that love dwells only with the free, is soon doting on her rescuer with a passion kindled during the time of her release:
The Pacha wooed as if he deemed the slave Must seem delighted with the heart he gave; The Corsair vowed protection, soothed affright, As if his homage were a woman's right.(45)
Into this glamorous story Byron injects, however, something very like an Augustan moral. In the course of championing freedom, he raises the awkward issue of transgression and finds, for once, a virtue in restraint. The poem opens with a boisterous song in which the pirate band extol the joys of living by impulse alone, but their chief cuts an altogether sterner figure. It is because Conrad attaches a supreme value to constancy that he disdains the dissipations of his crew:
Yes, it was love--unchangeable--unchanged, Felt but for one from whom he never ranged; Though fairest captives daily met his eye, He shunned, nor sought, but coldly passed them by.(46)
His fiancee Medora, who dies shortly before he returns from captivity, represents the mainstay of his existence; and the tale reaches its climax with the challenge posed to Conrad's devotion by the bond that forms between him and Gulnare in Turkey. Though the test takes place in Medora's absence, the Corsair nevertheless wins through. He is helped, in the event, by Gulnare herself who, in order to free her lover, resorts to a desperate act--she kills the Pasha soon after he has sworn to clip her 'wanton wing'.(47) Conrad is repelled by the deed to which he owes his freedom, and from then on inwardly recoils from the woman he has almost fallen for. The drama of the tale centres in the eclipse of a longstanding love by a rival whose charms suddenly prove short-lived. An allusion to the tale marks the turning-point of a similar plot in Persuasion.
There is a symbolic quality to the scene in which Louisa Musgrove jumps precipitately off the Cobb at Lyme only to fall through Wentworth's hands. The scene mimes, almost choreographically, a quick undoing of the entanglement that has taken the place of Anne's romance. And as a curtain-raiser to Louisa's leap and Wentworth's miscatch, Jane Austen brings in 'Lord Byron's "dark blue seas"', a quotation (as Chapman notes) from The Corsair.(48) Most readers feel that Byron is meant in some way to be implicated in the accident that follows (Anne and Benwick return to the question of his merits shortly before), and the usual inference is that Louisa comes a cropper to show up the consequences of 'excessive romanticism'.(49) The paragraph certainly unfolds a medley of Byronic motifs--leaps, strong supporting arms, and 'lifeless' forms. But readers of The Corsair--and at the time they were legion--would have been disinclined to blame Byron for the headstrong Louisa, for by far the most powerful parallel to emerge from the tale is between Louisa and Gulnare, who is criticized by Byron for the wilfulness she displays in her comparable role. The 'dark blue seas' which serve as a backdrop to Louisa's leap are from the pirate song which opens the poem:
'O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea, Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, Survey our empire and behold our home!'(50)
Gulnare so revels in boundlessness that she becomes a sort of honorary pirate herself:
She were their Queen--less scrupulous are they Than haughty Conrad how they win their way.(51)
Heroic but unscrupulous, she falls into place, finally, as an anti-heroine, serving as a foil to the exemplary Medora. Byron, like Jane Austen, pits self-assertion against the strength that comes from self-control.
It is the name of firmness that Gulnare sweeps aside the Corsair's attempts to persuade her against the deed that will sour their association:
But since the dagger suits thee less than brand, I'll try the firmness of a female hand.(52)
The echo of Lady Macbeth's 'infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers' darkens the tone of Gulnare's bid for power (we shall see that sexual typecasting was a perplexed issue for Byron), and in all contemporary editions this couplet was the more pivotal for appearing at the foot of a plate that showed Gulnare, dagger in hand, about to twist away from her shackled lover. Such torrid exploits as these belong, undeniably, to a different world from the domestic scenes of Persuasion, but the seaside junketings at Lyme yield, all the same, a comparable gist. The jump which Louisa persists in despite the persuasions of Wentworth is given a distinct thematic label by her cry, 'I am determined I will'. What Jane Austen's anti-heroine writes large on the Cobb is her desire to be seen as a paragon of self-will, and for a while Wentworth continues to regard her as 'so eager and so resolute'.
Louisa Musgrove is vivacious by nature (and there is no suggestion that her high spirits are unladylike) but she intuits early on that Wentworth is on the look-out for a woman of strong character and accordingly keeps up a relentless flow of elan in his presence. Though she knows nothing of the broken romance she plays up to Wentworth's distaste for the easily persuaded mind, and almost succeeds in denting beyond repair his already tarnished image of Anne when she remarks that it was Lady Russell who put a stop to her marrying Charles. Guile is evident, moreover, in the way she staves off competition from Henrietta whom she first presses into visiting Hayter and then presents to Wentworth as hopelessly compliant. Here Louisa is close to Gulnare who capitalizes on comparisons between herself and her rival:
I rush through peril which she would not dare. If that thy heart to hers were truly dear, Were I thine own--thou wert not lonely here: An outlaw's spouse--and leave her lord to roam!(53)
It turns out that they also share an unexpected propensity to nervous prostration. Like Louisa who becomes limp and hypersensitive after her accident--her brother bluffly compares her jerky movements to those of a dabchick--Gulnare falls prey to spells of fear that leave her 'faint and meek', and her loss of nerve proves infectious:
He clasped that hand--it trembled--and his own Had lost its firmness, and his voice its tone.(54)
Neither heroine lives up to the boast of being firm, and Louisa's failure is traced through a series of finely analytic scenes to an ensnaring self-consciousness. We see that it is effectively Wentworth who calls out Louisa's resolution, which tends to dwindle, Tinkerbell-like, when his gaze is elsewhere. The histrionic nature of her bearing is further underlined through comparison with Mrs Croft. To Wentworth, Louisa brags that she, like the Admiral's wife, would prefer to be overturned in a carriage by the man she loves than be driven safely by anyone else: at the chapter's end we see, however, that Mrs Croft coolly takes the reins when her husband spreads too much sail.
Blind to the fact that half Louisa's dash rises from the impulse to gratify, Wentworth builds up an ideal of 'firmness' around her which, however empty at first, comes to house a significance central to the novel as a whole. His speech to her on the glossy hazel-nut is pregnant with meaning for the reader who sees that Anne is its real referent, but Wentworth, in the terms of his own metaphor, merely polishes a hollow shell: '"yours is the character of decision and firmness . . . let those who would be happy be firm . . . My first wish for all, whom I am interested in, is that they should be firm"'. What Wentworth means by 'firmness', at this point, boils down to suggestibility, for, as he hints to Louisa, his wish is to see the impressions he makes go deep. His ideal begins to take on new life, however, after the accident at Lyme when Anne, brooding on the way that Wentworth's belief in 'firmness of character' has ruled out a persuadable temper, allows herself to picture him changing his mind. Though his progress is seen only by glimpses, it is clear that the man who has failed to persuade Louisa at the Cobb discovers, as his feelings for Anne return, that firmness in others may well run counter to his will. In what looks like a final pronouncement on the theme made shortly after his proposal, Wentworth distinguishes 'the obstinacy of self-will' from resolution that is open to reason and principle. There is much in context, however, to challenge the finality of this dictum which, while it sets the ethical score to rights, yielding a just account of Anne's moral strength, leaves untouched the question of her feelings, in particular her great steadfastness.
That it should be in the half-playful speech he directs at Louisa that Wentworth succeeds in evoking the mystery of Anne's constancy is ironic but also apt seeing that his indifference to Anne has all along been imaginary. Even without Anne's previous musings on the need to exert herself against despondency in the declining year, it would be difficult to overlook her image in the glossy nut which 'blessed with original strength, has outlived all the storms of autumn' or to expunge her from Wentworth's reference to a beautiful 'November of life'. The nut itself serves as an emblem of her emotional tenacity, remaining intact 'while so many of its brethren have fallen and been trodden under foot'. Through this speech, which neither Wentworth, Louisa, nor Anne can fully interpret, Jane Austen points her reader to the heartland of her most passionate novel.
Though the exploration of firmness in Persuasion is undertaken with a penetration that finds no match in The Corsair, the theme is nevertheless central to the poem and reveals the same double aspect. Byron, in a moral resolution less strict than Jane Austen's, sets off the punctilious Medora against the impetuous Gulnare, and presents a golden mean in his hero who proves, in words applied to Lara, 'more mildly firm than petulantly bold'.(55) But Conrad's claims to stature rest finally on other and more dangerous ground. Firmness is identified, throughout the poem, with the capacity for enduring feeling, and the link is first made explicit in the lines on Conrad's devotion to Medora which unfold a definition of love:
thoughts of tenderness, Tried in temptation, strengthened by distress, Unmoved by absence, firm in every clime, And yet--Oh more than all!--untired by time.(56)
Though Conrad's passion passes unfulfilled, his constancy achieves a poetic consummation in the image of a stalactite that is ever-forming:
Each feeling pure--as falls the dropping dew Within the grot; like that had hardened too.(57)
Byron potently conveys his sense of personal identity as a precipitate of the past, and the image, in its immediate context, adds to the horror of bereavement, the Corsair undergoing, in effect, a double death when Medora dies:
The thunder came--that bolt hath blasted both, The Granite's firmness, and the Lily's growth.(58)
The vision of emotional recalcitrance also underscores a limit, however, to the freedom celebrated in the poem. Human love, as the narrator remarks of the unrequited Kaled (alias Gulnare), is not a 'growth of human will'.(59)
But what Byron and Jane Austen have to say about 'firmness' only takes on full colour when seen in the light of the fierce debate over the role of women conducted in their time. At a crucial point in her Vindication Mary Wollstonecraft had argued that it was a 'want of firmness'--wholly attributable in her view to social conditioning--that stood in the way of women fulfilling themselves as 'rational creatures';(60) and with her main drift here, Jane Austen and Byron are clearly in sympathy. So it is that in Persuasion Mrs Croft convincingly complains that women are treated as fine ladies rather than 'rational creatures'; or that in The Corsair Gulnare's rescue raises, as we have seen, a figural reading of release from the seraglio. Both writers find common cause in championing the extension of women's activity. Indeed, the urgency with which Jane Austen takes up this case is plain not only from Anne's remarks on the relative confinement and disadvantage of her sex, but from her portrait of Mrs Croft who eagerly shares in the risks of her husband's life at sea, maintaining that occupation is less taxing than the passive fears of absence. The same sentiment is voiced, rather more cautiously, by Medora as Conrad prepares to sail: 'Thou know'st it is not peril that I fear . . .'(61)
So much is in keeping with the Vindication, but Jane Austen and Byron do at length part company with Mary Wollstonecraft over a matter as basic as the status of desire itself.
It is in defence of women's independence that Mary Wollstonecraft takes up the brief against sexual passion in the Vindication, putting her reader under notice that she intends 'high treason against sentiment and fine feelings'.(62) Constancy in women comes under special attack as the product of narrow views and mistaken education, but lasting desire, in either sex, is pooh-poohed as a romantic shibboleth: 'Love, from its very nature, must be transitory. To seek for a secret that would render it constant, would be as wild a search as for the philosopher's stone, or the grand panacea; and the discovery would be equally useless, or rather pernicious, to mankind.'(63) The strategy of reducing love to little more than a biological reaction seems to be provoked by the unstated premiss--once juggled with by Richardson's Lovelace--that if sex governs the world men must be on top.(64) But it is precisely this premiss that goes by the board in the fictions that Byron creates in celebration of constancy, for the heroes in his Turkish tales are every bit as much a prey to emotional dependence as the heroines, and while his settings invariably evoke the issue of women's emancipation, love itself is seen as the fruit of freedom. In Persuasion, moreover, the myth of the inconstant woman is laid firmly at the door of the male sex, and although Anne acknowledges the influence of social conditioning, her remarks on 'woman's feelings' are rooted in the conviction that to love truly is to love forever. Like Byron, Jane Austen believes in the naturalness of passion, and the disclosure of naturalness is, as we have seen, a generic aim in the Turkish tale.
An aspect of Mary Wollstonecraft's polemic that seems to have attracted particular criticism at the time was her attempt to account for sexual difference largely in terms of social construction.(65) This original and highly persuasive part of her tract was embellished with a few flourishes of Amazonian bravura. Women, she remarks at one juncture, would have the daring of men 'if fear in girls . . . were treated in the same manner as cowardice in boys'.(66) Such Spartan fare was grist to the satirist of the smoke-room or news-sheet, and even drew comment from a writer as sympathetic to the feminist cause as Maria Edgeworth, whose anti-heroine Harriot Freke, a proponent of the Vindication, dresses as a man and arranges female duels among other feats of dare-devilry.(67)
For many readers of The Corsair Gulnare's ill-fated bid to prove the 'firmness of a female hand' would have fallen into place as a rebuttal of feminist tactics of the more swashbuckling kind. Byron clearly allowed for such a reading, and though he goes out of his way in Lara to defend the fierce intensities of the young woman (Kaled-Gulnare) who passes herself off as the hero's page, it is sexual difference for the most part that is at a premium in the Turkish tales.(68) At this stage in his career Byron, while dabbling in the drama of crossed roles, shows himself concerned to project an image of female strength sui generis. The same aim is pursued with greater thoroughness in Persuasion. Whereas Louisa shows a decided self-consciousness in taking up an athletic role, Anne, by contrast, succeeds in embodying an ideal of resolution without laying claim to anything that seems specially male. If Mary Wollstonecraft's case is that women, in order to redress the effects of oppressive restriction, have to recuperate qualities that have traditionally been the preserve of men, Jane Austen in Persuasion arguably adopts the more radical view that women have qualities of their own to discover and develop.
Curiously, it is in the most overtly feminist of her novels that Jane Austen marks sexual difference most blatantly. Rich in physical splendour,(69) the hero and heroine of Persuasion remain palpably attached to that matrix of gender which first inspires their romance: 'He was, at that time, a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit and brilliancy; and Anne an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling'. This emphasis reverses the tendency of much feminist writing of the period, but it is important to recognize that the lovers in Persuasion, no matter how different they are, enjoy a rapport--and what Mary Poovey has called a 'reciprocity'(70)--unique in Jane Austen's work. Even when Anne and Frederick are estranged, the reader remains aware of how intensely they exist for each other, so fully is their intimacy created by the prose. While Byron may well have had some impact on the casting of the lovers in Persuasion (Wentworth reveals a number of notably Byronic traits),(71) the more crucial parallel offered by his Turkish pieces lies in the field of representation.
To talk of a stylistic relation between Persuasion and the tales is to straddle awkward disjunctions--poetry against prose, the tiro versus the mature writer, and so on--but the challenge is effectively set by Jane Austen herself when she pitches her reader--at the moment of Louisa's accident--into a paragraph that is in Byron's voice, and yet not burlesque: 'There was no wound, no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death.--The horror of that moment to all who stood around!'. At moments of crisis in his tales Byron frequently resorts to a succession of negatives. When Conrad discovers the dead body of Medora, for example, he introduces a triple cancellation: 'He turned not--spoke not--sunk not--fixed his look'.(72) Negatives and asyndeton are again continually called into play when Medora imagines that Conrad has perished:
She saw at once, yet sunk not--trembled not . . . All lost--that softness died not--but it slept . . . What--speak not--breathe not--for I know it well.(73)
So conspicuous is negation in the tales that a recent critic has irreverently accused Byron of capitalizing on a happily 'productive' formula.(74) But the charge is unfair in that Byron was well aware, at least, of the effect at which he aimed. His negative constructions summon the unrealizable, giving particular poignance to his sense of the irresistibly determining event. The flow of negatives keeps open those 'wounds which kill not, but ne'er heal'.(75)
The means Jane Austen brings to bear on the theme of arrested experience far surpass Byron's in both subtlety and power. Where the poet of The Giaour jumbles chronology and falls back on the historic present to convey the notion of a living past, Jane Austen allows the conflict that lies at the heart of Anne's suffering to dictate a special mode. The headlong clash between feelings that remain unchanged and circumstances that appear irrecoverably altered issues in an expressive antiphony of continuous and pluperfect tenses, kept up for a scene at a time (e.g. pp. 60-1). Occasionally the pluperfect takes on a continuous form itself, adding to the suggestion of monotony: 'Here Anne had often been staying . . .'; 'She had never been staying there before, without . . .'. Sense, in the last instance, requires no more than a 'there she had always . . .', but this is to reckon without the affective value of the word 'never' which, after making a double bow in the opening sentence of the novel, haunts its first few chapters. 'Never' points, in this context, to a social ethos that while aspiring to be fixed, excludes with utter finality, reducing the uncovenanted to 'nothingness' or 'nobody'. The world in which Sir Walter never takes up any book save the Baronetage, Lady Russell never wishes the past undone, or the hoped-for guest never arrives, is the world in which Anne is never considered by others, and her love for Wentworth never admitted. Beyond that world Jane Austen shows another which corresponds to Anne's desires--a place of shared cabins and hand-fitted rooms, but for all its proximity this warmer sphere remains closed. The Crofts and the household at Lyme exist, for Anne, in a realm cancelled by the subjunctive--a single phrase sums up her plight, 'these would have been all my friends'. A poetry of negation, only partly dispelled by the happy ending, cuts deep in Persuasion bringing into full relief the pains that Anne endures in fitting herself to a life that denies her talents and ignores her needs. Where Byron's concern with thwarted being tends, at this stage in his career, to come back to himself ('My springs of life were poison'd. 'Tis too late'),(76) Jane Austen reaches, through Anne, to the contemporary lot of womanhood.
It is as a narrator that Byron, as T. S. Eliot once remarked,(77) is at his most technically assured in the tales, and he excels particularly in scenes which register an intense emotional state through a series of sharp, subjective impressions. Such writing has antecedents to be sure--notably in Richardson's 'writing to the moment' and in the later novel of sentiment--but Byron's fascination with strong and warring impulses 'all rushing through their thousand avenues' is often highly individual in effect.(78) A good instance is the scene that shows Conrad caught, after his long absence, in a tremulous confusion of excitement and anxiety as he waits to enter Medora's high room:
He reached his turret door--he paused--no sound Broke from within; and all was night around. He knocked, and loudly--footstep nor reply (583) Announced that any heard or deemed him nigh; He knocked--but faintly--for his trembling hand Refused to aid his heavy heart's demand. The portal opens--'tis a well known face-- But not the form he panted to embrace. Its lips are silent--twice his own essayed, And failed to frame the question they delayed; He snatched the lamp--its light will answer all-- It quits his grasp, expiring in the fall. He would not wait for that reviving ray . . .(79)
Though the account is apparently external, the stream of doings observed by the narrator intricately mirrors the course of Conrad's feeling. The footstep that a belated negative fails to efface (l. 583) realizes Conrad's hope as vividly as his own nerveless hand later signals his fear. Half-opaque detail in the encounter that follows--the well-known presence (presumably Medora's handmaid) reduced to 'lips' and to the inert pronoun 'its'--combines with the clipped rhythms of stile serre and the deft contrivance of blackout to expose the reader to the blinkering effects of turbulent emotion. Procedures similar to these (if we allow for a different situation) are put to use by Jane Austen in the scene that gives Anne's sudden and long-deferred meeting with Wentworth at the Musgroves:
a thousand feelings rushed on Anne, of which this was the most consoling, that it would soon be over. And it was soon over. In two minutes after Charles's preparation, the others appeared; they were in the drawing-room. Her eye half met Captain Wentworth's; a bow, a curtsey passed; she heard his voice--he talked to Mary, said all that was right; said something to the Miss Musgroves, enough to mark an easy footing: the room seemed full--full of persons and voices--but a few minutes ended it. Charles shewed himself at the window, all was ready, their visitor had bowed and was gone.
Though the point of view is only temporarily Anne's, the whole presentation obliquely conjures up her state of mind. Eschewing conjunctions, the narrator delivers a raw, uninterrupted sequence of events, which the reader finds consistent with a stunned and subdued subject. While the rapid flight of verbs adds to the impression of Anne's nervousness, a shying away from perception is suggested also by the 'eye' that only half meets Wentworth's, and by the 'voice' which is as much of him as comes across. And yet, with the richness of paradox, the small subjective touch of the room suddenly filling till 'full--full of persons and voices' raises the trace of a sense of completion flaring in Anne.
That Jane Austen knew precisely what she was about in passages of this kind is clear from a number of internal remarks: from an aside, for instance, passed in the bustle of the Cobb--'(it was all done in rapid moments)'--or a comment on Anne sunk in thoughts which 'occupied and flurried her too much to leave her any power of observation'. Wentworth, too, towards the close of the novel, is gripped by sensations as 'overpowering, blinding, bewildering' as those that beset Anne. Jane Austen is especially concerned in Persuasion with what Byron calls the 'indistinctness of the suffering breast', with emotions--in his words,
That rise--convulse--contend--that freeze, or glow, Flush in the cheek, or damp upon the brow.(80)
The texture of feelings that simultaneously smart and enchant is the stuff of entire paragraphs in The Corsair (e.g. i, st. 10; ii, st. 10; iii, sts. 17, 22). And just as Byron's hero smiles in pain, finds grief linked to mirth, or is torn between joy and apprehension, so Anne exults in what the narrator glosses at one point as 'the happiness of such misery, or the misery of such happiness'.(81) Her feelings typically evade the tidy categories of description for they are as mutually implicative as they are intense: 'It was agitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and misery'. Awareness of the shortcomings of authorial summary spurs Jane Austen, at moments of emotional crisis in Persuasion, to produce an account that is abstract as well as concrete, impressionistic as well as psychological. Here, for example, are the clauses describing Anne's response, in the octagon room at Bath, to Wentworth's self-declaratory words on Benwick's lack of constancy:
and Anne, who, in spite of the agitated voice in which the latter part had been uttered, and in spite of all the various noises of the room, the almost ceaseless slam of the door, and ceaseless buzz of persons walking through, had distinguished every word, was struck, gratified, confused, and beginning to breathe very quick, and feel an hundred things in a moment.
The attempt to chart the darting flight of passion in words inevitably leads beyond words, converting language into sound, rhythm, and fiduciary gesture. In Persuasion Jane Austen made the attempt whole-heartedly, and through allusion to Byron's Turkish tales, she acknowledged an adjacent project and a bold, if wrong-headed, precursor. In one sphere, it is worth noting, the attempt had in fact been taken further:
O wie angstlich, o wie feurig: d'you know how it's expressed? Even the beating amorous heart is indicated, by two violins in octaves. One sees the trembling, reeling, one sees how the heaving bosom expands, which is expressed by a crescendo, one hears the murmurs and sighs which are expressed by muted first violins and flute in unison.(82)
The aria that Mozart wrote for his Belmonte to sing to Constanze--supreme, in the view of one critic, as a portrayal of 'the tremulous expectations of the anxious lover'(83)--marks a decisive development in a sister art, but one prompted, after all, by another Turkish tale.
1 The Corsair appeared on 1 Feb. 1814, and John Murray reported that 10,000 copies were sold by that day; see Leslie A. Marchand, Byron: A Biography (London, 1957), 433, and Lord Byron, The Complete Poetical Works, ed. Jerome J. McGann (Oxford, 1980-90), iii. 444. Annabella Milbanke's praise of the poem in a letter of 12 Feb. 1814 is by no means untypical: 'I have just finished the Corsair--am in the greatest admiration. In knowledge of the human heart & its most secret workings surely he may without exaggeration be compared to Shakespeare' (Letter to Lady Melbourne, quoted by Mabell, Countess of Airlie, in In Whig Society 1775-1818 (London, 1921), 162).
2 Letter to Cassandra Austen, 5 Mar. 1814, in Jane Austen, Letters, ed. R. W. Chapman (London, 1959), 379. 'So much for Byron', John Halperin remarks of Jane Austen's response to The Corsair in The Life of Jane Austen (Brighton, 1984), 252.
3 Northanger Abbey, 172. All references to Jane Austen's novels are to the 3rd edition by R. W. Chapman (London, 1933); those to Persuasion are given hereafter in the article itself. Persuasion was begun on 8 Aug. 1815, and though the first draft was complete by 18 July 1816, Jane Austen only wrote of having 'a something ready for publication' on 13 Mar. 1817. Susan was bought back from Crosby in 1816; revision may have been slight. See B. C. Southam, Jane Austen's Literary Manuscripts (London, 1964), 61, 87.
4 A. Walton Litz takes the view that Jane Austen's intentions towards Byron were purely satiric, although he notes that the satire is 'gentler in manner' than elsewhere; see 'Persuasion: Forms of Estrangement' in John Halperin (ed.), Jane Austen: Bicentenary Essays (Cambridge, 1975), 225. Though Byron is not cited in Sanditon he has been held responsible for Sir Edward Denham's rodomontade, but seeing that anything from Clarissa to King Lear is grist to Sir Edward's mill, the inference seems unfair. Sir Edward is less a vehicle for specific burlesque than, as Halperin remarks, an 'amusing psychological study of a type' (Life, 333). In a recent reading Margaret Kirkham has argued that Jane Austen reverses 'the burlesque stereotype of a young woman deluded by romantic reading' in her treatment of Benwick and Sir Edward; see Jane Austen, Feminism and Fiction (Brighton, 1983), 145.
5 Elizabeth Barry in 'Jane Austen and Lord Byron: Connections', Persuasions, 8 (1986), 39-41, is almost exclusively biographical in emphasis, though she suggests that Jane Austen found Byron's work entertaining if extravagant.
6 Margaret Kirkham, who writes tellingly of allusion elsewhere in Jane Austen, regrets the absence of what she calls 'a proper allusive-ironic focus' in Persuasion. See Jane Austen, Feminism and Fiction, 144, 154.
7 For the direct allusions cited here see Mansfield Park, 56, 431; 86, 281. John Halperin provides an excellent discussion of many aspects of Jane Austen's kinship with Cowper in 'The Worlds of Emma: Jane Austen and Cowper', collected in Bicentenary Essays, 197-206. Several passages in Tirocinium; or, a Review of Schools have a close bearing on Fanny Price's situation, see particularly ll. 193-205, 346-53, 547-62. Fanny's famous speech on 'the sublimity of Nature' echoes a passage from The Task (I. 412-35) which also provides a distinctly apposite discussion of improvement (III. 755-83).
8 The Lyme scenes are set in November 1814; for publication dates see McGann's note in Lord Byron, The Complete Poetical Works, iii. 445. This edition is referred to from now on as Works.
9 The Giaour, ll. 68-84 (Works, iii. 42). This passage seems to have attracted special notice soon after publication; see Marchand, Biography, 400.
10 Though Byron probably began The Siege of Corinth at an earlier date, The Giaour was the first of the Turkish tales to be published, and its success inspired his further ventures in the genre. See Works, iii. 480.
11 The Giaour, ll. 871-86. See Works, iii. 67-8. All quotations from Byron's poems are taken from McGann's edition.
12 Francis M. Doherty remarks on Byron's switching of tenses in The Giaour; see Byron (London, 1968), 62-3.
13 The Giaour, ll. 1056-9 (Works, iii. 73).
14 Commissioned by Longman from Moore at the unprecedented sum of |pounds~3,000, the poem went through 23 editions before Moore wrote his final preface.
15 Letters, 380.
16 Don Juan, I. 1545-52 (Works, v. 71).
17 See The Bride of Abydos, II. 458-9 (Works, iii. 138). The heroine of the tale supposes, until late in the day, that the hero is her brother; and her sunny hymn to fraternal love ('These cherished thoughts with life begun . . . , I. 418-34) is not unlike Fanny Price's thoughts in praise of the 'precious remains of the earliest attachments'. There is no question of influence here, however, for Mansfield Park was finished by the time The Bride appeared (Nov. 1813). It is worth noting though that Byron had already rated love between brother and sister above the marital tie, as Fanny does; see Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, III (1812), sts. 53-5. His plotting in The Bride makes an interesting comparison with Jane Austen's in Mansfield Park, both works arguably giving covert expression to incestuous desire. For such a reading of Jane Austen's novel see R. F. Brissenden, 'Mansfield Park: Freedom and the Family' in Bicentenary Essays, 156-71.
18 The Giaour, ll. 959-62 (Works, iii. 70).
19 See Minor Works, ed. R. W. Chapman (Oxford, 1980), 456.
20 Nightmare Abbey, ch. 11. See also Marilyn Butler, Peacock Displayed (London, 1979), 119-20. Criticism of Byron was certainly sharpened by his departure from England (23 Apr. 1816). The scandal, at this time, over his separation from Lady Byron has often been greatly exaggerated; see Marchand, Biography, 602.
21 See letters to Mrs Thrale, 17 Mar. 1773 and 9 Apr. 1781. Jane Austen would have found this correspondence collected together in Arthur Murphy's edition of Samuel Johnson (see vol. xii; London, 1806, esp. pp. 343, 428) though she may well have had in mind their earlier publication by Mrs Piozzi herself, Letters to and from Samuel Johnson (London, 1788).
22 Sense and Sensibility, 263.
23 Ibid. 264.
24 See e.g. Richard Whatley, in B. C. Southam (ed.), Jane Austen: Critical Heritage (London, 1968), i. 103.
25 For a discussion of this aspect of the text see Judy Johnson, 'The Bodily Frame: Learning Romance in Persuasion', Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 38 (1983), 43-61.
26 See Thomas Lockwood, 'Divided Attention in Persuasion', ibid. 33 (1978), 309-23.
27 Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (Oxford, 1975), 279.
28 See Halperin, Life, 62-3.
29 Childe Harold, III. 317 (Works, ii. 89). On the 'fall' theme in Byron's poetry see Jerome J. McGann, Fiery Dust: Byron's Poetic Development (Chicago, 1968), 247, 265-73, 295-8.
30 Alp, the renegade hero of The Siege of Corinth (1816), is the only hero in the Turkish tales to sever ties with his true love; from that moment on, however, he is doomed.
31 The Corsair ends with a reminder that constancy is the 'one virtue' that extenuates the pirate-hero's 'thousand crimes', III. 695-6 (Works, iii. 214).
32 The Giaour, ll. 1163-71 (Works, iii. 76-7).
33 Don Juan, II. 1551-2 (Works, v. 149).
34 Owing to the dominance of Edward W. Said's Orientalism (1978) which puts the stress on the creation of cultural difference, these aspects of orientalism remain almost uncharted.
35 In his dedicatory preface to Moore (2 Jan. 1814) Byron prescribes a political programme for Lalla Rookh (1817) long before the poem was written. 'In the East', the Irish poet will find 'the wrongs of |his~ own country.' Byron continues: 'Collins, when he denominated his Oriental, his Irish Eclogues, was not aware how true, at least, was a part of his parallel.' Collins, as Byron was no doubt aware, dubbed his Persian Eclogues (1742) his 'Irish Eclogues' dismissively; 'in his mature years', Joseph Warton writes, 'he was accustomed to speak very contemptuously of them, calling them his Irish Eclogues, and saying that they had not in them one spark of Orientalism' (see Warton's Works of Pope (London, 1797), i. 61 n.). Byron later suppressed his preface after objections had been raised to the political allusions made in it; see Works, iii. 148-9, 446. When Lalla Rookh came out, Byron confined his praise to 'The Fire Worshippers', the only section of the poem in which Moore followed his political prescription; see Byron's Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie Marchand (London, 1973-82), v. 265.
At the climax of his maiden speech to the House of Lords on the Frame-work Bill (27 Feb. 1812), Byron had himself made use of the Turkish analogy to denounce British class oppression: 'never under the most despotic of infidel governments did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return in the very heart of a Christian country.' See R. E. Prothero's edition of the Letters and Journals (London, 1898-1901), ii. 429.
36 See letter to his father, 18 Apr. 1781, in The Letters of Mozart and his Family, trans. Emily Anderson (London, 1938), iii. 1078. For an excellent discussion of Zaide see William Mann, The Operas of Mozart (London, 1977), 235-49.
37 For an account of this operatic tradition in the late 18th century, see Bence Szabolcsi, 'Exoticisms in Mozart', Music and Letters, 37 (1956), 323-32, esp. pp. 323-5.
38 For Byron's use of names and references gleaned from his reading of Sismondi, see McGann's note, Works, iii. 445-6. A journal kept by Byron, current with the writing and publication of The Corsair, gives a good indication of his political views at the time; see Letters and Journals, ed. Marchand, iii. 204-58.
39 Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. with introd. by Miriam Brody (London, 1985), 80, 100, 112, 125, 131. Sir Walter Scott, Peveril of the Peak, ch. 49 (Works, ed. Andrew Lang (London, 1925), xv. 813). Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, ch. 24 (ed. Margaret Smith (London, 1973), 271-2).
40 J. J. Rousseau, Emile ou de l'education, ed. F. and P. Richard (Paris, 1964), 468-9. The passage from book V reads: 'je voudrais qu'une jeune Anglaise cultivat avec autant de soin les talents agreables pour plaire au mari qu'elle aura, qu'une jeune Albanaise les cultive pour le harem d'Ispahan.'
41 'That women have no souls' is a tenet among Richardson's fraternity of rakes, and Lovelace is ready to avow himself 'a very Turk in this point, and believe they have not'. It is characteristic of his fantasies the he should alternately cast Clarissa as an Eastern potentate and as a houri-like gratifier of his every wish. See Clarissa, Shakespeare Head edition (Oxford, 1930), iv. 21-2, 354.
42 Letter to Lady Melbourne, 5 Sept. 1813; see Letters and Journals, ed. Marchand, iii. 108.
43 The Giaour, ll. 487-90 (Works, iii. 55). In a note to these lines Byron later pointed out that Mahomet's teaching had countered such belief, which he sees as social rather than religious in origin (see Works, iii. 419). Elsewhere he
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|Title Annotation:||Jane Austen novel; George Gordon Lor d Byron|
|Publication:||The Review of English Studies|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1993|
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