COMPANION TO CANTO L
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the Publisher [if different from website name], Date of Publication in Day Month Year format, URL. [MLA 8 format].
Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project, 2016-.
Preda, Roxana. “Companion to Canto IV.” The Cantos Project, 5 August 2016. thecantosproject.ed.ac.uk/index.php/a-draft-of-xvi-cantos-overview/canto-iv/companion-to-canto-iv
OCCEP – The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound
([Contributor name], OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss or translation was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
©Roxana Preda. Canto L, 17 August 2020.
Updated 18 September 2023.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Kimpel, Ben and T. C. Duncan Eaves. “The Source of Canto L.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 8.1 (1979): 513-8.
Piccolomini, Nicolò. Il Monte dei Paschi di Siena e le aziende in esso riunite. 9 vols. Ed. Narciso Mengozzi. Siena: L. Lazzeri, 1891-1925.
Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project.
Adams, John. The Works of John Adams. Ed. Charles Francis Adams. 10 vols. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1850-6. Hathi Trust.
Jefferson, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Eds. Andrew Lipscomb and Albert Ellery Bergh. Memorial Edition. Washington DC.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903-4. 20 vols. Hathi Trust.
- Revolution … in the minds of the people – A fundamental conviction that John Adams frequently expressed to his correspondents in the latter part of his life. The statement draws the first line of analogy between the American Revolution and Italy’s hopes for liberation from Austria at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Pound first included it in canto 32, with which the present canto has important affinities. See OCCEP XXXII: nn.1-3.
Letter to James Lloyd, 14 February 1815
“A complete revolution had taken place in the minds of the people, against the national administration, as appeared by the election of Mr. McKean for governor, by a majority, I believe, of thirty thousand votes.” WJA X: 121.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 24 August 1815
“As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington. WJA X: 172.
Letter to Thomas McKean, 26 November 1815
“General Wilkinson may have written the military history of the war that followed the Revolution; that was an effect of it, and was supported by the American citizens in defence of it against an invasion of it by the government of Great Britain and Ireland, and all her allies, black, white, and pied; but this will by no means be a history of the American revolution. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and in the union of the colonies, both of which were accomplished before the hostilities commenced. This revolution and union were gradually forming from the year 1760 to 1775. WJA X: 180.
- Lexington – battle in Lexington Massachusetts on 19 April 1775, considered to be the start of the American revolutionary war. Wikipedia.
Peter Leopold’s time – Pietro Leopoldo (1747-92), son of Francis I of Habsburg Lorraine and younger brother of Joseph II, the Emperor of Austria. He became Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1765 and ruled it until Joseph II’s own death in 1790. In that year, he succeeded his brother as Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, until his own death two years later. Pound may have become intrigued about Pietro Leopoldo while reading a letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams on 21 August 1777, which he quotes in canto 33: XXXIII: ll.36-9. Adams was trying to secure a loan for the American revolutionary war and Jefferson drew his attention to Tuscany, saying Pietro Leopoldo had money lying unused and might be open to a loan (WTJ IV: 36-7).
See also canto 44, where Pound introduces Pietro Leopoldo and his economic reforms, which he revisits in this canto. XLIV: ll.1-13; 150-165.
- Count Orso – Pound found information about Count Orso in the city archive of Siena and mentioned him in Canto 43 (XLIII: ll.196-203). Orso was awarded limited jurisdiction for the small town of Monte Pescali, near Grosseto. The Medici family, who granted him the privilege, directed him to levy the salt tax without raising the price and warned him not to protect criminals, change punishments, or make undue innovations that the locals might disapprove of (XLIII: ll.196-203; see also OCCEP XLIII: n. 58). These admonishments suggest that the Medici were aware of the corruption of their own administration and tried to keep it under control.
- debt when the Medici – Pound is connecting to the finale of canto 43, relating the debt of the Medici family, whose power control in Tuscany ceased in 1737. He initially found this information in his source on Siena, Il Monte dei Paschi di Siena e le aziende in esso reunite (MDP V: 59-60) and corroborated it with his main source for this canto, Antonio Zobi’s Storia civile della Toscana, which gave the same information and numbers.
Here is Zobi:
“Quando i Medici al trono salirono i debiti della Repubblica, complessivamente calcolati, non oltrepassavano 5,000,000 di ducati; e all’epoca di loro estinzione, il debito toscano s’era esteso fino a 14,000,000 di scudi, i frutti del quale assorbivano le migliori rendite dello Stato” (I, 118).
[When the Medici came to the throne, the debt of the Republic altogether calculated did not exceed five million ducats; and at the time of their extinction, the Tuscan debt had grown to fourteen million scudi, the interest on which absorbed the best incomes of the State.] K&E 82.
See also the parallel in canto 32, where Pound considers the public debts and fiscal mismanagement of France just before the 1789 Revolution: XXXII: ll.3-19 and OCCEP XXXII: nn.4-17.
- first folly – Zobi reports an opinion on the origin of the decay of the Florentine textile industry, which processed raw wool imported from England. The Florentines established textile manufactures in exporting countries to spare themselves the transportation costs. This enabled the Dutch and English to develop their own industries, so that they ceased working with the Florentines.
“Crede il Pignotti, che il germe della decadenza provenga dall’avidità de’ mercatanti Fiorentini, i quali per risparmiare le spese di trasporto delle lane greggie da lontani paesi, cioe, dove si smerciavano i panni, stabilirono lanificj in Fiandra, in Inghilterra ed altrove; dimodochè ben presto divennero tante scuole d’industria per quei popoli. I Fiamminghi furono i primi a profittarne; ma gl’Inglesi conoscendo di possedere la materia prima ne proibirono l’estrazione” (I, 120).
[“Pignotti believes that the seed of the decline originated in the greed of Florentine merchants who, to save the costs of transportation of raw wool from distant countries where the cloth was sold, established wool factories in Flanders, in England, and elsewhere, so that they very soon became so many schools of industry for those people. The Flemish were the first to profit by it; but the English, knowing that they possessed the raw material, prohibited its export.”] K&E 83.
- arts gone to hell – “Zobi discusses the general decay of the sciences，letters, and arts under the Medici (I，153-63) and remarks (I, 160) that ‘se la decadenza della letteratura offre pallido e mortificante spettacolo nella prima metà del secolo XVIII，un altro più sensible ed affliggente ne presentano le Arti del disegno’ [if the decay of literature offers a pale and mortifying spectacle in the first half of the eighteenth century, the graphic Arts offer another more affecting and painful]” K&E 83. Zobi’s opinions on the decadence of the arts in Italy are in full agreement with Pound’s own. The historian deplored the abandonment of the sublime simplicity of design prevalent in the Italian artistic practice from Giotto to Michelangelo and its replacement by a new manner in which imagination gave way to extravagance; he called the new fashion a “nuova maniera capricciosa, irrazionale e bizzarra,” “frivolezze ridicole” and “il più mostruoso barrochismo” (I: 161). Zobi’s background was in art history, especially architecture, so his remarks are not those of an amateur. See Pound’s own “with usura the line grows thick” (XLV: l.18) and “1527. Thereafter art thickened. Thereafter design went to hell/ Thereafter barocco, thereafter stonecutting desisted” (XLVI: ll.124-5).
- cut down taxes – “This general decay was alleviated by the reforms of Pietro Leopoldo. He eliminated several taxes (II，99，182, 269-70)，cut down the public debt with its burden of interest (II，104-7)，in 1773 suppressed the Jesuit order (II，133)，and in 1782 put an end to the Holy Office (Inquisition) in Tuscany” K&E 83.
- Un’ abbondanza che affamava – I. “an abundance that led to famine.”
The office of the “Abbondanza” managed the grain supply in times of scarcity. After he conquered Siena in 1560, Duke Cosimo I established a permanent regional office to supervise and coordinate the importation and distribution of grain between all the communities of the Tuscan state. This measure effected a greater price stability of grain across Tuscany (Epstein 118-9).
“In 1793，there was a famine which the office in charge of relief works, the ‘Abbondanza’ was too poor to cope with, so that it was called ‘l’affamatrice Abbondanza’ (‘the Abundance which famishes’) (I, 403; see also II，38n); in 1768 Pietro Leopoldo created a new office ‘sulle rovine degli antichi abbondanzieri，che facevano l’ufficio d’affamare’ (‘on the ruins of the of the old food officials[abundancers’], who performed the office of famishing’) (II, 60n). K&E 83-4.
- Zobi – Antonio Zobi (1808-1879), Italian historian who published his work Storia civile della Toscana LDCCXXXVII-MDCCCXLVIII in 1850-2. Pound dramatized his reading of the book and built up this section of the canto with his own notes.
Zobi was taken to task by his contemporaries for being anti-clerical and aggressively against the Medici and pro the dynasty of Habsburg Lorraine, especially Leopold and his son Ferdinand III. Treccani. These very qualities gained Pound’s respect and trust.
- Mr Locke’s essay on interest – “Pietro Leopoldo entrusted the direction of finances to an economist, Angelo Tavanti, who was unusual in the Italy of his day in studying the best French and English authors on politics and economics and collaborated in a translation of John Locke's Several Papers Relating to Money, Interest and Trade, called ‘Sulla moneta e gl’interesse del denaro’ (‘On coinage and interest’)” (II: n.20 267-8).” K&E 84.
- Genoa … treaty – At the time of the American revolutionary war (1775-1783), The Holy Roman Empire (and implicitly Tuscany, which was ruled by a Habsburg and brother of the Emperor) signed a neutrality treaty with Great Britain. The United States was not recognized by Austria and when a representative of the American colonies, Filippo Mazzei, tried to argue with the Grand Duke the advantages of commerce with America, especially Virginia, Pietro Leopoldo chose to disregard him and obey the stipulations of the treaty. The Americans found more openness in Genoa, with the result that after the Peace of 1783 which ended the war between Britain and America, Genoa had already established trade relations with America to the detriment of the Tuscan port of Livorno; Tuscan merchandise crossing the Atlantic had to do so in Genoese ships. Zobi II: 275-6.
- Te admirabile O VashinnnTTonn … digression – enthusiastic outburst from Zobi who praised Washington for his civic and military virtue and the United States for bravery and generosity:
“Te ammirabile, o Washington, per le tue virtù militari e cittadine! Ma te più fortunato di aver capitanate genti che le virtù apprezzavano e professavano. Ammirabili voi, magnanimi popoli trasatlantici, che le virtuose gesta del condottiero riflettevate in voi stessi. Propizia sorte vi arrise, perchè la sapeste scongiurare in quei modi che sempre risponde generosa e benevola a chi l’invoca. Te beata, o illustre terra d’America figlia d’Italia, che tanti sventurati italiani esuli accogli! […] Ci vogliano perdonare i lettori la breve digressione” II: 390.
[“Oh Washington, admirable for your military and civic virtue! […] But more fortunate to have commanded men who appreciated and professed virtue. Admirable and magnanimous transatlantic peoples who reflect the virtuous exploits of your leader in yourselves. Propitious fate smiles on you because you knew how to entreat it in those ways which make it generous and benevolent in answering him who invokes it. Oh, blessed and illustrious land of America, daughter of Italy, who welcomes so many unfortunate Italian exiles! … Readers will please pardon this brief digression] K&E 85.
Pound used the term “admirabile” which is an Italian-American hybrid. See also a similar one in his use of “Brumale” (n.26).
- sent him off to be Emperor – In 1790, Pietro Leopoldo’s elder brother, Emperor Joseph II died, and Leopoldo succeeded him to the throne of the Habsburg Empire. He left Tuscany to his second son, Ferdinando III.
- Franz Josef – As in cantos 16, 35 and 38, Pound again gives vent to his contempt for Franz Josef (1830-1916) who was Emperor of Austria from 1848 until his death during WWI. Wikipedia. His accession to the throne is roughly contemporary with the publication of Zobi’s History.
- Metternich – Klemens von Metternich (1773-1859) Austrian politician. He became foreign minister of Austria in 1809 and chancellor in 1821, long after Pietro Leopoldo’s death in 1792. Metternich is the architect of the European conservative restoration after the defeat of Napoleon. He was forced out of power by the revolutionary upheavals of 1848. Wikipedia.
- Ferdinando staved off an Anschluss – When Pietro Leopoldo’s son, Ferdinando III became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1790, Leopoldo renounced the throne of Tuscany on 29 July in order to preserve the separation of the two crowns, the Tuscan and the Austrian, and thus the independence of Tuscany (Zobi II: 554-5. K&E 86). Under Napoleon’s pressure, Ferdinando was forced to leave the throne of Tuscany in 1799. He returned in September 1814 and ruled the duchy until his death in 1824. See also canto XLIV ll.14-76.
- Paris exploded – The official start date of the French revolution is the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.
- certain practices called religious – “Zobi speculates (III, 230) about why the American Revolution succeeded whereas the revolutionary feeling touched off in Italy by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic invasion, and especially the republic set up in Rome, failed. Along with the general decline of Italy in the eighteenth century and the aristocratic tradition, there was the influence of the clergy on the populace: ‘Troppo esercitati ... si erano in certe pratiche dai furbi appellate religiose, mentre servivano ad efficacemente esinanire lo spirito, ad anneghittire il corpo, ed a render insomma l’uomo men che uomo’ [They were drilled too much in certain practices called by cunning men religious, while they serve efficaciously to debase the spirit, to enervate the body, and in short to make man less than man]” K&E 86.
- lack of experience in economic affairs – “Another reason is indicated in an analysis of the policy of the government of Tuscany shortly before the battle of Marengo: ‘L’imperizia degl’ incliti senatori nell’amministrare gli affari economici non fu minore della tortura spiegata nel condurre i negozi politici; di maniera che, le condizioni finanziere della Toscana omai precipitate in un abisso di sconcerti, volsero sempre più in peggio’ [The ignorance of the illustrious senators in administering economic affairs was not less than the torturousness displayed in conducting political negotiations, so that the financial conditions of Tuscany, now precipitated in an abyss of disturbances, grew steadily worse]” Zobi III: 393. K&E 86-7.
Pius sixth – Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi (1717-1799) became Pope Pius VI (1775-1799). He condemned the French Revolution and the suppression of the church that went with it. In 1796, Napoleon defeated the papal troops in his first Italian campaign. Two years later, when he refused to renounce temporal power, Pius was taken to France. Wikipedia.
“Several incidents recounted by Zobi show the foolishness of Pope Pius VI (1775-1799) whose reactionary views were not compensated by prudence and who was removed from Rome by the French in 1798 and died a prisoner. With ‘great imprudence’ he wrote to congratulate Louis XVI on his escape from the revolutionaries before the king got out of France; his letter was intercepted by the National Assembly and helped induce France to persecute the clergy and to invade Italy” (Zobi III: 39; see also III 15-17, 80-1; 223-4) K&E 87.
- MARENGO – battle fought in Piedmont, Italy, on 14 June 1800 between Napoleon Bonaparte and the Austrian army, whereby Napoleon secured complete control over Italy. Wikipedia.
First Consul – Napoleon was First Consul during the period of the so-called “Consulate” (1799-1804), inaugurated by his coup of 18 Brumaire 1799. The period of the Consulate ended when Napoleon crowned himself emperor on 2 December 1804.
- I left peace. I find war – On his return to Paris from Egypt [October 1799], finding disorder in the military and political situation, Napoleon addressed his army:
“‘In quale stato ho io lasciato la Francia, in quale stato la ritrovo? Vi ho lasciato la pace, e vi trovo la guerra! Vi ho lasciato delle conquiste, ed il nemico passa le vostre frontiere! Ho lasciato i vostri arsenali forniti, e non ho trovato un’arma! I vostri cannoni sono stati venduti, ed il ladroneggio e stato eretto in sistema’ (Zobi III, 405-6)
[“In what state did I leave France, in what state do I find it: I left peace there and I find war there! I left you conquests, and the enemy is passing your frontiers! I left your arsenals provided, and I have not found one weapon! Your cannons have been sold, and thievery has been raised to a system] K&E 87.
- 1791 – misprint for 1799.
- 18th Brumale – The 18th of Brumaire (10 November 1799) was the date of Napoleon’s coup d’état, whereby the Directorate was replaced by the Consulate. “Brumale” is the Italian version of the French word, which Pound found in Zobi. (III: 406). However, in Italian, the word is not capitalized.
- Mars meaning, in that case order – In Greek mythology, Mars is the god of war and Pound may here indicate the astrological influence of the Mars planet, associated with the god. Napoleon, the whole man of war, made the transition to political power by assuming a political dictatorship as First Consul. The victory over the Austrian army at Marengo consolidated his status, allowing him to implement his political and social ideas, especially his legal code.
The phrase “in that case” indicates that Pound may have recalled Cavalcanti’s lines in his poem “Donna mi prega”: “d’una schuritade/ che da Marte viene” which, in canto 36, he translated as “which shadow cometh of Mars” (XXXVI: l.19). Whereas in canto 36, Pound had followed Cavalcanti in seeing the influences of the planet (aggression, force, desire, violence) as a “shadow” on which love may create a “diafan” of light, here, he sees them as a drive to military power and political order.
- interest at 24 to the hundred – Zobi noted the usurious interest on money after Napoleon’s consolidation of power in Italy after Marengo:
“Il frutto del danaro era salito nelle principali piazze della Toscana al 20 e fino al 24 per %; nonostante la scarsità del numerario era tale, che le condizioni usurarie non bastavano a procurarsene” (III: 440n.16).
[The interest on money in the main markets of Tuscany became 20 to 24%; however, the scarcity of cash was such that the usurious conditions were not enough to procure it].
- ‘commerce languished’ – Zobi noted that during the Napoleonic period, “il commercio generale dello Stato languiva a motivo delle contingenze di guerra , e delle vulnerate leggi Leopoldine, circostanze che assai favorivano il contrabbando”) (III: 341).
[the general commerce of the state languished because of war contingencies and the weakened Leopoldine laws, circumstances which favoured contraband].
- triumvirs – Pound suggests that Napoleon did not establish “order” in Tuscany, either economically or politically. The preceding lines connect to Napoleon’s political juggling shown in canto 44: XLIV: ll.96-149.
“Under French domination there were frequent changes in government; for a while in 1801 Tuscany was ruled by three men named Chiarenti, Pontelli, and De-Ghores, called the triumvirs, who considered ‘recalling the Leopoldine legislation to full observance’ (‘di richiamare alia piena osservanza la legislazione Leopoldina’) (III, 461; see also 435, 442.) They began their restoration but were soon ousted.” K&E 88.
- Portoferraio – town and port on the island of Elba where Napoleon was exiled in May 1814 as a result of his military defeat by the forces of the Sixth Coalition at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813.
- two million a year … descended – Napoleon received a pension of 2 million francs, half of which he ceded to his spouse, Maria Luisa di Parma.
“Sara dato inoltre in piena proprieta all’imperator Napoleone una rendita di due milioni di franchi sul gran libro di Francia, di cui un milione sara reversibile al Imperatrice” (Zobi III, 757-58).
[The Emperor Napoleon was also to be given in full ownership a revenue of two million francs on the great bank of France, of which one million would revert to the Empress] K&E 88. See also nn.51-52 for detail on the life of Maria Louisa after Napoleon’s exile on Elba.
- Elba – The tiny island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany was given to Napoleon as a lifetime property.
“Napoleon wrote a letter in which he asked to have the inhabitants informed that he had chosen their island ‘in considerazione della dolcezza dei loro costumi, e della bontà del loro clima’ [in con sideration of the mildness of their customs and the goodness of their climate]” (III, 759). K&E 88-9.
- free of debt – After Napoleon’s exile on Elba, the Congress of Vienna began and the old monarchies were restored. Ferdinando III returned to Tuscany, which he ruled until his death in 1824. Pound notes approvingly the passage from Zobi in which the historian remarked that “vuote le sue casse trovavansi, ma lo Stato non aveva debiti” (III, 762) [his treasuries were empty, but the State had no debts]” K&E 89.
- put back the Pope – Pope Pius VI, to whom Pound had referred earlier, died in French captivity in 1799. After six months, his successor, Pius VII was elected to the throne of the Papal State. Napoleon invaded it again and captured the new pope, bringing him to France, where he spent 14 years, until Napoleon’s defeat by the Sixth Coalition in 1813. Pius returned to Rome in 1814 and reigned peacefully until his death in 1823. Wikipedia.
- reset no republics – Through the decisions of the Congress of Vienna, the old republics of Genoa, Lucca and Venice were not restored but incorporated in kingdoms and empires: Genoa went on to be part of the Kingdom of Sardinia; Venice was the property of Austria; and Lucca was given to Maria Luisa, Napoleon’s sister, who had ruled “Etruria” (Tuscany) from 1807 to 1814 (Zobi IV: 46-59; 85-118).
- split up Poland – Poland was once more divided among Russia, Austria, and Prussia (IV: [Appendice dei documenti]，40-43). K&E 90.
“If we attend to the style of the passage, for example, we will see how the whole movement pivots around the verse ‘and split up Poland in their soul was usura.’ This line releases a burst of energy by refusing to insert the stop after ‘Poland,’ which the prose syntax calls for. The text refuses even a caesura, and the consequence is an extraordinary leap in pace and tone.
So far as the sense of the passage is concerned, the line is equally crucial in that it centralizes ‘Poland’ as a figure of international political and economic manipulation. Pound is asking us to think back to the years 1817-22 and to the restoration of the European thrones under the leadership of England. The text recalls in particular the settlement of Poland, which involved, among other things, England’s callous breach of the promises she had made to Polish patriots who were seeking freedom from Russian control. Tossing Poland to Russia was part of the European ‘settlement,’ as were various other moves–Pound alludes to some of them–to insure that hereditary and church power would be secured against the growing surge throughout Europe for nationalist autonomy” (McGann 20).
“We see this most clearly when we remember that Pound is writing this canto in the context of 1936-37. At that time the Polish Question once again stood at the center of European political interests; indeed, in 1936-37, if one took the Polish point of view, England’s soul was indeed consumed with usura, and equally indifferent to Poland’s political fate with respect to Russia and Germany. We forget that in the years immediately before the war England was anything but a friend to Poland, and that Poland regarded English policy with the deepest suspicion” (McGann 22).
- Rospigliosi – Prince Giuseppe Rospigliosi (1755-1833) was special Commissioner for Tuscany and led a 4-month provisory government from May to September 1814, until Ferdinando III’s return.
He issued a proclamation “nel quale si legge l’enorme sconcezza, che il Granducato era patrimonio di stranieri signori, come se gli stati possano esser un proprio allodio, e gli abitanti servi della gleba” [in which is read the enormous indecency that the Grand Duchy was the patrimony of foreign lords, as if states could be an allodial property and their inhabitants serfs] (IV: 24).” K&E 90.
S..t on the throne of England – After Waterloo, George III was still King of England despite being clinically insane; he was kept on his throne until he died in 1820.
Pound’s rant against the European monarchies of the 18 and 19th centuries mirrors Jefferson’s similar survey included in canto 32. Jefferson’s language (in a letter to John Langdon in March 1810), preserves decorum but is no less scathing.
See WTJ XII: 378-9 and OCCEP XXXII: n.41.
Louis Sixteenth was a fool
The King of Spain was a fool, the King of Naples a fool
they despatched two couriers weekly to tell each other, over a thousand miles
what they had killed ... the King of Sardinia
was, like all the Bourbons, a fool, the
Portuguese Queen a Braganza and therefore by nature an idiot,
The successor to Frederic of Prussia, a mere hog
in body and mind, Gustavus and Joseph of Austria
were as you know really crazy, and George 3d was in
a straight coat,
there remained none but old Catherine, too lately picked up.........
“[the lines] develop a commentary on the restoration of the European thrones and dominions in the aftermath of the wars with France (1793-1815). One might add, in passing, that what Pound says here is approximately what one will find in Byron’s and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s various commentaries on the European settlement engineered by England after the Napoleonic wars” (McGann 19).
s… on the Austrian sofa – Pound may refer not only to Francis I, the Emperor of Austria (former Francis II of Habsburg Lorraine, the eldest son of Pietro Leopoldo and Napoleon’s father in law) but most of all to his chancellor, Klemens Metternich. Francis I ruled from 1790 until his death in 1835 and thus bore the brunt of the Napoleonic Wars; he was a prime mover of the conservative restoration of 1815-1848.
“Francis II continued his leading role as an opponent of Napoleonic France in the Napoleonic Wars, and suffered several more defeats after Austerlitz. The proxy marriage of the state of his daughter Marie Louise of Austria to Napoleon on 10 March 1810 was arguably his severest personal defeat. After the abdication of Napoleon following the War of the Sixth Coalition, Austria participated as a leading member of the Holy Alliance at the Congress of Vienna, which was largely dominated by Francis’s chancellor Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich culminating in a new European map and the restoration of Francis’s ancient dominions (except the Holy Roman Empire which was dissolved). Due to the establishment of the Concert of Europe, which largely resisted popular nationalist and liberal tendencies, Francis became viewed as a reactionary later in his reign” Wikipedia.
- four Georges – Pound refers to the dynasty of Hanover whose British rule was initiated by the reign of George I (b. 1660- r. 1714-1727) and followed by George II (r. 1727-1760); George III (r. 1760-1820); George IV (r. 1820-1830).
- pus was in Spain – Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig in the winter of 1813 allowed the return to power of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain in the person of Ferdinand VII (1784-1833). Ferdinand rejected the liberal constitution of 1812 and did not hesitate to bring foreign troops to enforce his absolutist power.
“Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, and the country entered into a large-scale civil war upon his death. His political legacy has remained contested since his passing, with most historians regarding him as incompetent, despotic, and short-sighted.” Wikipedia
Wellington was a jew’s pimp … effected – Enigmatic lines that suggest Pound was aware of the rise of the Rothschild family in the context of the Napoleonic wars. The lines tie in with the references to the Rothschilds in cantos 46 and 48, which were based on Pound’s reading of Father Coughlin. See XLVI ll. 77-81; OCCEP XLVI nn.33-35 and XLVIII ll.33-35; OCCEP XLVIII nn.22-25. However, Pound’s remarks here suggest another source, the most probable one being Ignatius Balla’s The Romance of the Rothschilds (1913).
Balla explains the relationship between the Rothschilds and Wellington this way:
Nathan Rothschild was the first of five brothers to leave his father’s Meyer Amschel’s banking house in Frankfurt to establish himself in England, first in Manchester and then in London. By 1806, Nathan was British citizen, and a prosperous merchant and banker in the capital. The Napoleonic Wars gave vast opportunity of commerce in bullion and coins, a business he was familiar with from his education in Frankfurt: gold was a coveted asset on both sides of the English Channel and could profitably be bought and sold. Balla states that Nathan’s agents each took small amounts of cash to Portugal, where Wellington was in dire need of funds to pursue the Peninsular War.
Wellington had been pressing the British government for funds, and out of sheer necessity, was making onerous loans from banks in Sicily, Malta and Spain to meet the most pressing emergencies. These IOUs, drawn in the name of the British government, were circulating locally and devaluing rapidly as trust eroded that obligations of payment would ever be met. This desperate situation put considerable pressure on the British Treasury, which was facing great transport difficulties in getting gold to Spain by ship. Nathan Rothschild’s main advantage over his competitors was the dense network of agents that worked for him on the continent. Nathan bought Wellington’s debts, which were so depreciated that they could be bought at large discounts, and he cashed them at par in London. He thus had the available funds to buy a large consignment of bullion from the East India Company. The Treasury found out about this purchase and bought the gold from him. By April 1812, Nathan had come to an understanding with the British government to ensure that through his agent network and vital assistance from his brother in Paris, adequate funding would reach Wellington in Spain (Balla 79-81).
To sum up, Nathan’s profits came from redeeming Wellington’s depreciated Spanish debts at par in London; selling the Indian gold to the British government for a profit; and cashing the commission for services rendered (transport of gold and bills of exchange). Wellington must indeed have been unaware at the time of how the money lifeline between his army in Spain and the British government could be exploited by a resourceful Jewish banker. However, Wellington’s actions and decisions during his subsequent political career show that he was no friend of Jewish interests. By contrast, Nathan’s services and political connections acquired during the Peninsular War crisis ensured the future of his House as banker of the British state till WWII and beyond.
Leave the Duke, go for gold! – Wellington’s first term as Prime Minister representing the Tory Party (1828-1830) was a very turbulent period in British Parliamentary history, which Pound’s source, Christopher Hollis, summarized very briefly (Hollis 106). At stake was the question of allowing an extension of franchise to the middle classes after the Napoleonic Wars and thus ending the absolute control of the aristocracy in Parliament. The public was campaigning, petitioning and rioting for a Reform Act which would do away with the most serious abuses of the voting system in the elections for the House of Commons. Wellington and the Tories opposed the reform, whereas the Whigs, who were also under aristocratic leadership, campaigned for it in order to accede to power after a long period of Tory political supremacy. Hollis quoted radical agitators like Francis Place, who waved a placard in the street with the slogan: “To stop the Duke, go for gold,” implying that a run on the Bank of England would so destabilize the House of Lords that they would be forced to give up their resistance to reform. Finally, in June 1832, Wellington bowed to public pressure and gave up opposing the Reform Act, allowing the Whigs, who had come to power in 1831, to pass their bill through both Houses and implement a (watered down) Reform Act in 1833. Wikipedia: Reform Act, 1832.
The Pound scholars Kimpel and Eaves have speculated on why Pound modified the wording of the slogan he found in Hollis:
“‘Leave,’ for ‘To stop’ might simply be a minor error, but it changes the meaning; at first sight, it suggests that someone is to desert the Duke and seek gold instead. Perhaps Pound meant the quotation (repeated on pp. 486，497，and 602) to do double duty and to imply that after the era of aristocracy came an era when money was the only source of power.” K&E 91.
The slogan is to be found again in cantos 79/506, 80/517, and 89/622. Its recontextualization suggests Pound used it as a verbal signature signifying the transfer of political control from an old order to speculation and greed.
- brigantine Inconstante – Napoleon remained on the tiny island of Elba from May 1814 to 26 February 1815 when he embarked on the brigantine Inconstante and landed in Cannes on 1 March 1815. (Zobi IV，62)” K&E 91.
- hundred days – Generic term referring to Napoleon’s attempt to restore his political and military power after his return from Elba. It lasted from 20 March 1815, when he reached Paris, to the restoration of the French monarchy under Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815 (111 days). “The Hundred Days” failed due to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. Wikipedia: Hundred Days.
- Ney … delayed – Among the factors contributing to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo was Marechal Ney’s fall from his horse and Marquis de Grouchy’s failure to keep the Prussian army from joining forces with Wellington, with the result that the French army was overwhelmed. Dawson 2017.
“Grouchy non fece a tempo per rinfrescare gli stanchi dalla pugna, ed il maresciallo Ney fu rovesciato da cavallo” (Zobi IV 89). [Grouchy did not arrive in time to refresh the tired from the fight and marshal Ney was thrown from the horse]. K&E 91.
- Bentinck’s word – When Genoa capitulated on 26 April 1814, Lord William Bentinck, military commander of British troops, read a proclamation in which he recognized the wish of the Genovese to go back to republican government, as the city had been an independent republic until 1797 (Zobi IV: 10-11). However, the Congress of Vienna decided that Genoa should be incorporated into the Kingdom of Sardinia. Zobi IV: 102-3. Pound brings up this element as further instance of British mendacity and diplomatic unreliability, as he had in canto 46 (XLVI ll.68-71).
- Zeitgeist – G. “spirit of the times.”
Zobi quotes Lord Grey paraphrasing Napoleon’s insight into the causes of his defeat. Grey was Wellington’s main political adversary and the prime mover of the Reform Act of 1832. The date of the quote is 1834, after the act had been passed into law. Grey obviously compared the British situation, in which Parliament had been flexible enough to obey the spirit of the times in reforming itself as the public wanted, with Napoleon’s insight.
Zobi quoted Grey on Napoleon and went on to comment:
“‘non esser caduto per la lega formata contro di lui, ma per aver egli contrariato lo spirito del secolo. Tale spirito, a cui nulla poteva resistere, avrebbe rovesciato tutti gli antichi governi d’Europa che non piegassero la loro politica ai ‘bisogni del tempo’. Infatti, molti di essi e prima e poi caddero, ed altri cadranno ancora, appunto perchè in lotta colle idee dominanti del secolo, le quali se possono essere per qualche tempo arrestate dalla forza delle armi, non mai però estinte, ne alla perfine impedite di giungere ai loro scopi. Quindi i governi che procurano di secondarle e dirigerle al bene comune, sono certamente i più savi e prudenti, accogliendo cosi nel proprio seno sempre nuovi elementi di stabilità e robustezza” (IV, 224n).
[he had not fallen because of the coalition against him, but for having gone against the spirit of the times. This spirit, which no one could resist, had ruined all the old regimes of Europe that did not adapt their politics to the ‘needs of the times.’ In fact, a lot of them fell sooner and several will still fall because in the struggle with the dominant ideas of the century, those which can be stopped for a while by the force of arms are not extinguished, nor are they obstructed from achieving their purpose. Thus, governments which support and direct them to the common good are certainly wiser and more prudent, always including in their midst new elements of stability and robustness.]
Pound may have disagreed with Zobi about what the Zeitgeist was; as it emerges from the canto, Christopher Hollis’s point of view was nearer to his position. Hollis wrote:
“The Emperor Napoleon was by no means a model Christian. Yet the force he challenged was the force of usury; the society for which he fought was a Christian society; the society which conquered him, if ever such a word may be used of any society, anti-Christian. It was a society, whose very fundament was usury. […] But in reality, as Cobbett ceaselessly preached, what had been restored was the personnel of the ancien régime, weighed down by a burden of debt which made their creditors the effectual masters of policy” Hollis 133-4.
- OBIT, aetatis 57 – L. “died, at 57 of age.” Napoleon died in 1821 (not yet fifty-two); Dante in 1321.
- il sesso feminile – It. the feminine sex.
“non certamente distinta per cio che piu abbellisce e rende stimabile il sesso femminile” (Zobi IV, 273)
(“certainly not distinguished for that which most embellishes the female sex and makes it estimable”) K&E 91.
they wrote of Marie de Parma – Pound’s choice of the plural pronoun may indicate that he consulted an additional source for his lines on Empress Marie Louise (1791-1847). She was the daughter of Francis I, Emperor of Austria, Napoleon’s widow and mother of his only son.
Egon Corti, the author if the House of Rothschild, offers much more detail on her life choices than does Zobi, who offers summing remarks without going into her biography. Marie Louise withdrew from Napoleon’s life at the time of his exile on Elba. She never wrote or visited; nor was she in Paris on his return, to celebrate their son’s birthday on 20 March 1815. In the previous year, Marie Louise was given the duchy of Parma to administer for life, while consenting to leave her son in Vienna to be raised by his grandparents as an Austrian nobleman. Since 1814, she had taken a lover and had two children with him while Napoleon was still alive on St. Helena. Corti also shows that Marie Louise, wanting to provide for her children, who could not inherit Parma, saddled the duchy with a loan of six million livres, which was facilitated by Metternich and Solomon Rothschild. The loan was to be used and invested for the personal use of her family and paid for by the city from taxes (Corti 380-98).
Pound did not read Corti until the 1950s so if he knew of these facts when writing this canto, he must have had another source.
- brilliant abstractions – “Zobi (writing four years later after the failure of the revolutions of 1848, which forced the Pope to flee from Rome and turned him into a conservative), laments over ‘questa povera Italia, pur sempre destinata ad andare in perdizione per correr dietro a brillanti astrattezze e ad ingannevoli propositi’ (‘this poor Italy, always destined to be ruined by pursuing brilliant abstractions and deceptive purposes’) IV 618. K&E 91-2.
- Mastai Pio Nono – Giovanni-Maria Mastai-Ferretti (1792-1878) became Pope Pius IX in 1846.
“He took the name Pius, after his generous patron and the long-suffering prisoner of Napoleon, Pius VII. [See n.35 to this canto.] He had been elected by the faction of cardinals sympathetic to the political liberalization coursing across Europe, and his initial governance of the Papal States gives evidence of his own moderate sympathies. He grew increasingly disillusioned with the liberal, nationalist agenda after a series of terrorist acts sponsored by Italian liberals and nationalists, which included the assassination of (among others) his Minister of the Interior, Pellegrino Rossi, and which forced Pius himself to briefly flee Rome in 1848, in parallel with revolutions throughout Europe. Through the 1850s and 1860s, Italian nationalists made military gains against the Papal States, which culminated in the seizure of the city of Rome in 1870 and the dissolution of the Papal States. Thereafter, Pius IX refused to accept the Law of Guarantees from the Italian government, which would have made the Holy See dependent on legislation that the Italian parliament could modify at any time. Pius refused to leave Vatican City, declaring himself a ‘prisoner of the Vatican.’” Wikipedia.
The papacy thus blocked its political relationship with the Italian state until 1929, when the State of Vatican was created in the so-called Lateran Treaty between Pope Pius XI and Benito Mussolini.
Pound had touched upon the situation (also called the Roman Question) created by Pius IX in canto 28. See XXVIII ll.203-219 and OCCEP XXVIII nn.43-46. He also referenced Pius XI in canto 38. See XXXVIII ll.2-8 and OCCEP XXXVIII nn.3-5.
- D’Azeglio – Massimo Taparelli, Marquess D’Azeglio (1798-1866), Piedmontese statesman, writer and painter. Zobi refers to an incident in 1847:
“Il marchese Massimo d’Azeglio, dipintore e scrittore leggiadrissimo, che da qualche tempo dimorava in Firenze, venne appunto bandito dalla polizia pei caldi sensi liberali che si affermava professare” (V, 27).
[Marquess Massimo d’Azeglio, most graceful painter and writer who had lived in Florence for some time, was then banned by the police for the warm liberal sentiments he claimed to profess]. See also K&E 92.
- Lord Minto – Gilbert Elliot (1782-1859) second Earl of Minto, British diplomat and Whig politician. As Lord Privy Seal (1846—52), he was sent by the British government to Italy in the autumn of 1847 to encourage a policy of reform, and report on the state of Italy. Wikipedia.
“La sera del 30 ottobre viaggiando lord Minto alla volta di Roma, si fermò a pernottare in Arezzo, ove la popolazione fece liete acclamazioni agli amici e propugnatori dell’italica indipendenza, alla libertà del commercio, alla lega doganale italiana, a Cobden, al Parlamento inglese ec. Egli vi rispose con degli evviva a Leopoldo II，ed al’indipendenza italiana，la quale ultima allusione divulgata e ripetuta dai giornali, dette luogo agl’incauti di creder troppo, e di preoccuparsi troppo sulle vere intenzioni dell’Inghilterra nelle faccende della penisola. (V, 236n)
[The evening of 30 October Lord Minto, travelling to Rome, stopped overnight at Arezzo, where the population made joyful acclamations to the friends and supporters of Italian independence, to freedom of trade, to the Italian customs alliance, to Cobden, to the English Parliament, etc. He answered with evvivas (hails) to Leopoldo II and the Italian independence, which last allusion, divulged and repeated by the newspapers, gave occasion to the incautious to believe too much, and to preoccupy themselves too much with the true intentions of England in the affairs of the peninsula.] K&E 92.
- Bowring – John Bowring (1792-1872) British politician, economist and advocate of free trade. He visited Italy in 1836 and wrote a report to the House of Commons (V, 36-37). K&E 93.
the new Leopoldo – Leopold II (1797-1870) was the son of Ferdinando III and grandson of Pietro Leopoldo. He was Grand Duke of Tuscany (1824-1859) and was deposed in the Second War of Italian Independence, when Tuscany was occupied by the troops of Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia. On 16 August 1859, the provisional government in Florence proclaimed the deposition of the House of Habsburg and the ducal family withdrew to the Papal States. Wikipedia.
- slowness and sureness – Pound emphasized what he considered to be the hypocrisy of British diplomacy as a whole: pious appeals to liberal ideals such as national independence, republicanism and progress, combined with conservative politics, failure to act and broken promises. See also n. 48 on Bentinck’s assurances to Genoa.
“Del resto, il prefato ministro britannico non mancò mai d’ammonimenti a’più accesi patriotti, esortandoli ad accontentarsi di un lento sì, ma più sicuro resultato. (V, 236-37)
[For the rest, the aforesaid British minister never failed in admonitions to the most ardent patriots, exhorting them to be content with an admittedly slow but more sure result.] K&E 92.
Lalage – probable reference to Martial’s epigram II.66 where a Roman lady, Lalage, struck her slave with the mirror because of a loosened curl.
Unus de toto peccaverat orbe comarum
Anulus, incerta non bene fixus acu.
Hoc facinus Lalage speculo quo viderat ulta est,
Et cecidit saevis icta Plecusa comis.
desine iam, Lalage, tristes ornare capillos,
tangat et insanum nulla puella caput.
hoc Salamandra notet vel saeva novacula nudet
ut Digna speculo fiat imago tua.
(“A single curl out of her whole heard of hair went astray; an unsteady hairpin had not kept it in place. Lalage took revenge for this crime using the mirror with which she had witnessed it. She struck Plecusa, who fell victim to the cruel locks. Stop adorning your grim hair, Lalage, and let no slave girl touch your frenzied head. Instead, may a salamander leave its mark or a harsh razor shave it, so that your reflection may be worthy of your mirror”) Martial, Epigrams II.66.
- fresco’s knees – possible reference to a fresco found in Pompeii in the so-called House of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It represents Dirce being tied to the bull in punishment for the persecution of Antiope. The “shadow” can refer to the darker colour between the legs of the bull behind Dirce; or else, it is a metaphor signifying that Lalage’s cruelty to her slave is blotted out by the larger cruelty of Dirce towards Antiope. Lalage, a Roman name, is found in a few inscriptions in Pompeii.
The fresco is now displayed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. The house where it was originally found is called House of the Grand Duke of Tuscany (VII, 4, 56, dated 1st century AD) because excavations at Pompeii were started in earnest during the Napoleonic period and some of its houses bear the titles of the political figures who witnessed their unveiling (Monnier 68). The house was excavated in 1833 and 1845, which suggests that the Grand Duke of Tuscany that is meant is Leopold II. Pompeii in Pictures.
- Dirce – Mythical Queen of Thebes, mentioned in Apollodorus, Pausanias and Euripides’ lost play “Antiope.” Dirce relentlessly persecuted her slave Antiope, forcing her to expose her new-born twin boys, torturing her and aiming to finally kill her by tying her to a bull. Instead, it was Antiope’s sons who tied Dirce to the bull and made her experience the death she wanted to inflict on their mother (Joyce 221). Wikipedia: Dirce.
Both Dirce and Lalage were cruel to other women, one more than the other: with good ground, Mary de Rachewiltz considered this to be a personal allusion (de Rachewiltz 1538).