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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Switzerland: Lausanne

Gibbon and Voltaire

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

LAUSANNE! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes

Of names which unto you bequeathed a name;

Mortals, who sought and found, by dangerous roads,

A path to perpetuity of fame:

They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim

Was, Titan-like, on daring doubts to pile

Thoughts which should call down thunder and the flame

Of heaven, again assailed, if heaven the while

On man and man’s research could deign do more than smile.

The one was fire and fickleness, a child,

Most mutable in wishes, but in mind

A wit as various,—gay, grave, sage, or wild,—

Historian, bard, philosopher combined;

He multiplied himself among mankind,

The Proteus of their talents: but his own

Breathed most in ridicule,—which, as the wind,

Blew where it listed, laying all things prone,—

Now to o’erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne.

The other, deep and slow, exhausting thought,

And hiving wisdom with each studious year,

In meditation dwelt, with learning wrought,

And shaped his weapon with an edge severe,

Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer:

The lord of irony,—that master-spell,

Which stung his foes to wrath, which grew from fear,

And doomed him to the zealot’s ready hell,

Which answers to all doubts so eloquently well.

Yet, peace be with their ashes,—for by them,

If merited, the penalty is paid;

It is not ours to judge,—far less condemn;

The hour must come when such things shall be made

Known unto all,—or hope and dread allayed

By slumber, on one pillow,—in the dust,

Which, thus much we are sure, must lie decayed;

And when it shall revive, as is our trust,

’T will be to be forgiven, or suffer what is just.