Friday, January 30, 2009

ça ira!

From the Journals of Lord Byron
January 30, 1821.

The Count P. G. this evening (by commission from the Ci.) transmitted to me the new words for the next six months. * * * and * * *. The new sacred word is * * * — the reply * * * — the rejoinder * * *. The former word (now changed) was * * * — there is also * * * — * * *. Things seem fast coming to a crisis — ça ira!

We talked over various matters of moment and movement. These I omit; — if they come to any thing, they will speak for themselves. After these, we spoke of - Kosciusko. Count R. G. told me that he has seen the Polish officers in the Italian war burst into tears on hearing his name.

Something must be up in Piedmont — all the letters and papers are stopped. Nobody knows anything, and the Germans are concentrating near Mantua. Of the decision of Leybach nothing is known. This state of things cannot last long. The ferment in men's minds at present cannot be conceived without seeing it.

Notes on the text:

Count P. G - Probably Teresa Guiccioli's brother Count Pietro Gamba.

by commission from the Ci - As requested by the local Carbonari cell of which Byron was a member.

* * * - "In the original MS. these watchwords are blotted over so as to be illegible." says the editor (Thomas Moore).

ça ira - French expression meaning 'There is hope' or 'it'll be fine' or 'that will do.' Ah! ça ira 'is an emblematic song of the French Revolution, first heard in May 1790. It underwent several changes in wording, all of which used the title words as part of the refrain.'

Kosciusko - Tadeusz Kos'ciuszko or Thaddeus Kosciusko (1746-1817). He commanded the national forces of Poland against Russia in 1794. Defeated and taken prisoner at Macicjowice, October 10, 1794, he died in 1817 at Soleure, in Switzerland. -- source: Works of Lord Byron

Count R. G. - Count Ruggero Gamba, Teresa's father. At this time she and Pietro lived with him in Ravenna.

Piedmont - Region in the north west of Italy.

Mantua - City in the central part of northern Italy. It lies north of the River Po, southwest of Vienna, north of Bologne.

decision of Leybach - Discussed in an earlier note.

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Some sources:

The Byron Chronology - 1820-1821 - Ravenna, Pisa, and Revolutionaries

Hobhouse's appendix to Teresa Guiccioli's book on Lord Byron’s Life in Italy

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