COMPANION TO CANTO XXXII
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.
Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.
((Contributor name), OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss 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: 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. Companion to Canto XXXII, 3 December 2018.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Terrell, Carroll F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.
Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project 2014-
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy: Purgatory. VI ll. 58-85. The Cantos Project: General Sources. Web.
Adams, John. The Works of John Adams. Ed. Charles Francis Adams. 10 vols. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1850-6.
Jefferson, Thomas. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Definitive edition. Ed. Albert Ellery Bergh. 20. vols. in 10. Washington, 1907.
- The revolution – The revolution that effected the separation of the American colonies from Great Britain officially started with the protest against the stamp act (“no taxation without representation”) in the meeting of the so-called Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 at the Federal Hall in New York. Britain repealed the Stamp Act but did not give up its efforts to tax the colonists. One such tax was a duty on tea delivered to the colonies by the East India Company. The resistance to the Tea Act escalated to the so-called Boston Tea Party in 1773, when the tea about to be unloaded in the port of Boston was thrown into the sea. Further acts of violence culminated in battles with the British armed forces at Lexington, Concord and Boston in April 1775.
Against the background of the open war, the thirteen colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America declared the establishment of a new state (“The United States”) through the Lee resolution of the Second Continental Congress held at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia on 2 July 1776. Two days later, Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence submitted by a committee of five delegates headed by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The War for American Independence lasted for eight years, 1775-1783 and was concluded by the Treaty of Paris, 3 September 1783, when Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the United States.
- Mr Adams – John Adams (1735-1826), American attorney, revolutionary, signatory of the Declaration of Independence and the second President of the United States (1796-1800). See OCCEP XXXI: n.15 for more detail.
- in the minds of the people – Reading Adams’s letters, Pound became aware that one of his clearest convictions was that the revolution of the mind was the true one, already completed in the United States before the military operations of the war of independence. This is an idea that Adams wrote to several people: James Lloyd (14 February 1815); Thomas Jefferson (24 August 1815), Thomas McKean (24 November 1815) and John Morse (29 November 1815). In this last letter, Adams develops his subject more, locating the beginning of the revolution in 1761, with the writs of assistance: “A history of military operations… is not a history of the American Revolution. […] The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people, and in the union of the colonies; both of which were substantially effected before hostilities commenced.” JA to Dr. J. Morse, 29 November 1815 WJA X: 182.
Pound would take up this motif again, in cantos 33 and 50.
- Amphitrite – one of Pierre Beaumarchais’ vessels, carrying weapons, munitions and provisions from France to help the American Revolution. The ship left Europe on 10 March and arrived on 20 April 1777, to the intense relief of the American army, which was in dire need of supplies (Morton 127).
Beaumarchais’ effort was part of a more general secret policy of the French government to weaken Britain’s colonial advance both in America and Asia. As Pound mentions in the canto, it also involved the efforts of Saint Lubin in India, where France aimed to obstruct the British and re-establish its own colonial ports, especially Pondicherry, destroyed in the Seven Years’ War (1756-65).
- and a fourth – Pound refers to the royal edicts (arrêts) of 9 December 1776, which regulated the debts, administration and taxes of the French commercial activity in the Mediterranean. This line and the following consist in Pound's translation of the fourth edict. See note 7 for more detail. See edicts in Sources.
- Morea – name for the region of Peloponnese, Greece.
- et des dettes des dites Echelles – F. “and the debts of the said Echelles.” The “Echelles,” also called “Les Echelles du Levant,” were ports of call in the Mediterranean, from northern Africa to Istanbul and Greece. They nominally belonged to the Ottoman Empire, but the Sultan had given up some of his prerogatives in favour of the King of France who in turn gave French merchants certain commercial privileges. These Ottoman concessions (called Capitulations) allowed great prosperity in the South of France, particularly Marseilles. During the 18th century up to the Revolution of 1789, French commercial advantage in the Mediterranean became ever more fragile and was completely destroyed by the Revolution and succeeding Napoleonic wars. After 1789, the British dominated the Mediterranean until after WWII. French Wikipedia.
- dans les arrêts principaux du Conseil, decembre ’soixante-six – F. “in the main ordinances of the Council, December 66.” The four Royal edicts of 9 December 1776 instituted a reform in the organisation of the Echelles: 1. borrow 1,100,000 livres and use the sum to pay the outstanding debts of the Echelles; 2. cancel the national offices of taxation and create a single tax of 5% on the commerce between France and the Levant to be levied in offices in Marseilles; 3. force merchants to pay up the outstanding debts to the government and forbid new loans; 4. liquidate the debts owed to the merchants of Morea and the Echelles. Schmauch 102.
Pound may have read these ordinances in his six-week research stint at the Bibliothèque nationale from 6 April to 22 May 1931 (Ten Eyck 18). They are part of his effort to give a snapshot of the working government of King Louis XVI and the strong ties between commercial activity and the state in France. See full entries in Sources.
The ordinances Pound refers to are dated 9 December 1776, not 1766. They refer to commercial policies of the French state, contemporary with the disastrous expedition of St. Lubin to India, in which the government was also involved.
- armes et autre ustenciles qui ne peuvent être que pour/ le compte du gouvernement – F “weapons and other implements which can only be for the account of the government.”
Pound switches from the French commercial situation in the Levant to that in India, as France sent the “rogue diplomat” Saint Lubin with a ship called Sartine, full of weapons and munitions, to aid local princes wage war against the British. Though a private merchant, Jacques Alexandre Laffont de Ladebat, procured the munitions in the hope of commercial profit, the war ministry provided the cannons, to ensure quality (Margerison 492).
- Monsieur Saint-Libin – Joseph Alexis Pallebot de Saint Lubin was an agent of the French government whose mission was to restore French influence in India by helping insurgent local princes.
Lubin was the equivalent of Beaumarchais for India. The French policy and goal were the same: to fight the British colonial and maritime ascendancy both in America and on the subcontinent. In America, France had lost Canada, in India, its local influence was diminished as all its commercial comptoirs had been destroyed during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) (Margerison 479).
Saint Lubin was “an adventurer” and “an individual with a reputation for intrigue and duplicity devoted primarily to the creation of a position of power for himself” (Margerison 481). He received the papers for his covert operation in India in May 1776 and returned on 11 October 1780. His mission was to aid in the Marathas’ struggle against the British in order to restore the former French colonial possessions.
His results were disastrous: The ship’s cargo was lost; the treaty he supposedly negotiated with the Maratha Empire was received only in French and therefore fraudulent. The final result was that when Saint Lubin returned to France, he landed in the Bastille. See also his biography in the entry for 18 July 1783, Memoires secrets 279-84. Gallica.
- très au fait des langues du Pays, connu des Nababs – F. “very well informed in the matter of languages of this country, known by the local governors.” These were Saint-Lubin’s credentials and the reason he was sent to India in spite of his character, which was well known to the French government.
- Nababs – F. “nabobs.” Term derived from the Hindustani word “nawab” originally referring to a Muslim regional ruler in India.
“With the decline of the power of the Mughal emperors over the course of the eighteenth century, the Marathas had emerged as the strongest military power among the Indian states. In 1776, Antoine de Sartine, [the French naval minister], decided to send Saint-Lubin to negotiate an alliance between France and the powerful Marathas who were eager to acquire the assistance of the French troops in their confrontation with the presidency of the British East India Company at Bombay” (Margerison 481).
The Marathas controlled the large territory in central India, north of Hyder Ali’s state of Mysore (see yellow territory on the map).
- Hyder Ali – Hyder Ali (1722-82) Indian prince of the state of Mysore who fought the British East India Company in two wars, 1767-9 and 1780-4.
Pound is implicitly comparing him to Washington, for whom French military aid was just as vital. Unlike Beamarchais, who was straightforward in his dealings with the Americans, Saint-Lubin refused to sell the munitions cargo of his ship Sartine to Hyder Ali, though he could have made a 200% profit on it. Saint-Lubin and Hyder Ali knew each other from Ali’s first war against the British. Saint-Lubin had betrayed him then, which suggests he may have been a British double-agent.
- pour l’exciter et à tailler des croupières to the Anglois/ peu délicat sur les moyens – F. “to incite him and to follow hot on the heels of the English/ no delicacy on the means.”
- break up our bonds – Pound switches languages to shift perspective to a British spy reporting on French naval operations, both in India and America.
- Portagoose – The English and Portuguese nations had a centuries-long alliance and fought together during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). Britain successfully defended Portugal against annexation by Spain three times.
Since Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut in 1498, Portugal had territories in India on the Malabar Coast (southwest of the subcontinent, see map at n. 12) with a centre in Goa, which it kept until the late twentieth century. Initially, the Portuguese also controlled Bombay, which they ceded to the British as a dowry in the marriage between Charles II and Catherine of Braganza in 1661. Wikipedia.
The spy Pound is quoting or impersonating (possibly Saint Lubin himself) points out that one of the objectives of the French in India was to break the old alliance and collaboration between the British and the Portuguese interests in the region.
- Burr – Aaron Burr (1756-1836). American revolutionary, politician and vice-president to Thomas Jefferson 1801-5.
In the presidential elections of 1800, Burr and Jefferson obtained an equal number of votes. Jefferson won marginally in a second round, and Burr agreed to be his vice-president. In 1805, Burr was accused of treason, having conspired to seize territory from Spanish America beyond the Mississippi and form a new state in the south-west. He was caught and tried, but acquitted, owing to lack of evidence.
- no interest in the Ohio canal – Burr gathered men and supplies on an island on the Ohio, planning to sail his expedition down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Writing to George Hay, the prosecuting U.S. attorney, Jefferson mentioned one of Burr’s associates, Latrobe, who was willing to testify against him:
“He [Latrobe] says it was five hundred men he was desired to engage. The pretexts were, to work on the Ohio Canal, and be paid in Washita lands. Your witnesses will some of them prove that Burr had no interest in the Ohio canal, and that consequently this was a mere pretext to cover the real object from the men themselves, and all others.” TJ to George Hay, 19 June 1807, WTJ XII: 236.
- coram non judice – L. “not before a judge,” an expression which denotes a legal proceeding that is without a judge, with an improper venue, or without jurisdiction, hence null and void. Wikipedia.
Judge Marshall subpoenaed Jefferson to appear in court at Burr’s trial as well as present documents relevant to the case (subpoena duces tecum). Jefferson declined to appear before the court, invoking executive privilege. Nevertheless, he produced the documents required by the subpoena, albeit with passages deleted.
In a further letter to George Hay, the prosecuting attorney, Jefferson argued his position against Marshall:
“I did not see till last night the opinion of the Judge on the subpoena duces tecum against the President. Considering the question there as coram non judice, I did not read his argument with much attention. Yet I saw readily enough, that, as is usual where an opinion is to be supported, right or wrong, he dwells much on smaller objections, and passes over those which are solid. Laying down the position generally, that all persons owe obedience to subpoenas, he admits no exception unless it can be produced in his lawbooks. But if the Constitution enjoins on a particular officer to be always engaged in a particular set of duties imposed on him, does not this supersede the general law, subjecting him to minor duties inconsistent with these?” TJ to George Hay, 20 June 1807 WTJ XI: 239-42.
- Oryzia mutica – L. “mountain rice.” In a letter to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jefferson recounted the American experience with the cultivation of this plant, how it had been successfully grown in Georgia, the mixed results in Virginia and its quasi failure in Pennsylvania, concluding that this type of rice could only be thrive in the South of the U.S. TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, 1 December 1808 WTJ XII: 204-6.
perennial succory … turnip of Sweden – At the time of the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France and after instituting an embargo to enforce the American neutrality, Jefferson attempted to send American cotton seed to the French Agricultural Academy, of which he was a member. In a letter to John Hollins, he explained that such exchanges of seed, plants and agricultural innovations were commonly made among civilized nations even if they are at war. However, on its way to New York, Jefferson’s intended gift was made public and put under the opprobrium of the press, since it was breaking the embargo. TJ asked Hollins to intercept the seed and destroy it.
“General Washington, in his time, received from the same society [Board of Agriculture of London] the seed of the perennial succory, which Arthur Young had carried over from France to England, and I have since received from a member of it the seed of the famous turnip of Sweden, now so well known here. I mention these things, to show the nature of the correspondence which is carried on between societies instituted for the benevolent purpose of communicating to all parts of the world whatever useful is discovered in any one of them. These societies are always at peace, however their nations may be at war.” TJ to John Hollins, 18 February 1809 WTJ XII: 253.
- rectus in curia – L. “correct in point of law.” From one of TJ’s letters to William Short, the American ambassador to the court of the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I. TJ was at the end of his presidency and while he had prepared the extension of Short’s appointment, Congress cancelled it and recalled the ambassador.
“I pray you to place me rectus in curia in this business with the emperor, and to assure him that I carry into my retirement the highest veneration for his virtues and fondly cherish the belief that his dispositions and power are destined by heaven to better, in some degree at least, the condition of oppressed man.” TJ to William Short, 8 March 1809 WTJ XII: 265.
- Alexander – Alexandr Pavlovich I (1777-1825), Emperor of Russia (1801-25) was the son of Tsar Paul I and grandson of Catherine the Great. Jefferson’s message to Short was written in 1809, three years before Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign. Alexander was the only emperor who was spared Jefferson’s withering criticism of monarchy. See also ll. 66-77 and n. 53.
- if you return – from TJ’s letter to Pierre Dupont de Nemours at the end of his presidency. Calling himself the “hermit of Monticello,” Jefferson asks his French acquaintance to bring him a princely gift:
“Within a few days I retire to my family, my books and my farms; and having gained the harbour myself, I shall look on my friends still buffeting the storm with anxiety indeed, but not with envy. Never did a prisoner, released from his chains, feel such relief as I shall on shaking off the shackles of power. […] Should you return to us, bring a couple of pair of true-bred shepherd’s dogs. You will add a valuable possession to a country now beginning to pay great attention to the raising of sheep.” TJ to Pierre Dupont de Nemours, 2 March 1809 WTJ XII: 260.
TJ’s request of true bred shepherd dogs resonates with Sigismondo Malatesta’s similar appeal to Pierfrancesco de Medici in 1463, which Pound mentions in canto XI (OCCEP XI: n.21). Attempting to combine amusement and practicality, it is in character, as Pound had shown in canto XXI, where he revealed TJ writing to another acquaintance to investigate the possibility of a gardener who played the French horn. See XXI: ll.43-69 and OCCEP nn. 23-26. (See also TJ to Giovanni Fabbroni 8 June 1778, WTJ IV: 38-42.)
- war be avoided – Pound switches to another of TJ’s letters of 1809, written to James Madison.
Pound’s quote shows Jefferson as peace-oriented in 1809 as Adams had been in 1800. TJ’s policy of embargo was an attempt to avoid war with Great Britain, whose fleet was constantly harassing American naval commerce. Nevertheless, Madison’s presidency happened under the sign of the Napoleonic wars in Europe. In 1812, war between the U.S. and Great Britain erupted because of the “unresisted depredation” TJ was referring to in the quote below. The war lasted for two years and ended in the Treaty of Ghent, December 1814.
“I feel great anxiety for the occurrences of the ensuing four or five months. If peace can be preserved, I hope and trust you will have a smooth administration. I know no government which would be so embarrassing in war as ours. This could proceed very much from the lying and licentious character of our papers; but much also from the wonderful credulity of the members of Congress in the floating lies of the day. […] It is much therefore, to be desired that war may be avoided, if circumstances will permit. Not in the present maniac state of Europe, should I estimate the point of honor by the ordinary scale. I believe we shall, on the contrary, have credit with the world, for having made the avoidance of being engaged in the present unexampled war, our first object. War may become, however, a less losing business that unresisted depredation.” TJ to James Madison, 17 March 1809 WTJ XII: 267.
- type-founding – In another letter to Pierre Dupont de Nemours, Jefferson explained that the U.S. is seeking to reduce its dependence on goods from England by developing its own manufactures. One such dependence is in the domain of printing, where antimony, though essential, was unobtainable locally. As France had plenty of antimony, TJ was recommending the printer James Ronaldson from Philadelphia to De Nemours’ patronage so that together they might find ways to bring antimony to the US. TJ to Monsieur Dupont de Nemours, 28 June 1809 WTJ XII : 293-6.
De Nemours helped Ronaldson procure the antimony in France and ship it to the U.S. in spite of British naval attacks on the crossing. Later on, in 1811, antimony was discovered in Vermont, a fact that seemed to solve the crisis permanently. See Creesy Monticello Typeface.
- civilizing the Indians – In a letter to James Jay, Jefferson deplored the old methods of civilizing the Native Americans through religious dogma and missionaries. He proposed a different system, which Pound delineates from the letter: raising cattle, arithmetic, farming, weaving, reading so that they would advance enough to form a government like the Creeks and Cherokees had done. TJ to James Jay, 7 April 1809 WTJ XII: 270-1.
Pound found these ideas to rhyme with those of his own grandfather, Thaddeus Coleman Pound, who during his service as congressional representative, proposed measures to educate the Native Americans. Pound quoted Thaddeus in canto XXII ll.4-8. See OCCEP XXII: n. 3.
- Aesop’s Fables – The Fables of Aesop is a collection of parables attributed to the Greek slave Aesop, who lived in the 6th century BC. They are short animal stories concluding in a moral.
- Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe (1719), tells the story of an English sailor stranded on an island that he at first assumed was deserted. After living alone for some time, he saves a young native from being eaten by cannibals. He calls him “Friday,” styles himself as his lord, keeps him as a servant and takes him to England on a British ship.
- Creeks – Native American tribes originally living in the territories of Alabama, southern Tennessee and western Georgia. They were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1830s during the so-called “Trail of Tears.” The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson, who had distinguished himself in the battle of New Orleans against the British (1815). Wikipedia.
- Cherokees – Native American tribes living in south-eastern Tennessee, south-western North Carolina and north-eastern Georgia. They were considered civilized because they were agrarian and lived in villages, being therefore more amenable to assimilation. They were also the first Native American tribe to receive the right to become American citizens. They were however forcibly relocated away from their lands into Oklahoma through the Removal Act signed into law by Andrew Jackson in 1830.
- as many – One of Jefferson’s correspondents alerted him to a case of libel, in which a clergyman had openly attacked TJ in church during a sermon. TJ wrote back to state that he paid no attention to any calumny against him, trusting his own nature and conduct to speak in his favour. He wrote to the prosecuting attorney to drop all charges, remarking about the witnesses to the event:
“there were affidavits of at least half a dozen respectable men, who were present at the sermon and swore no such expressions were uttered, and as many equally respectable who swore the contrary.” TJ to Wilson C. Nicholas, 13 June 1809 WTJ XII: 289.
- deem it necessary – in a letter to Judge William Johnson, who was writing a history of political parties, TJ broadly delineated the differences between the Federalist party and his own Republican one. He further characterised the economics and morals of Europe:
“The doctrines of Europe were, that men in numerous associations cannot be restrained within the limits of order and justice, but by forces physical and moral, wielded over them by authorities independent of their will. Hence their organisation of kings, hereditary nobles, and priests. Still further to constrain the brute force of the people, they deem it necessary to keep them down by hard labor, poverty and ignorance, and to take from them, as from bees, so much of their earnings, as that unremitting labor shall be necessary to obtain a sufficient surplus barely to sustain a scanty and miserable life. And these earnings they apply to maintain their privileged orders in splendor and idleness, to fascinate the eyes of the people, and excite in them an humble adoration and submission, as to an order of superior beings.” TJ to Judge William Johnson, 12 June 1823 WTJ XV: 440.
- whether in a stye – the following three lines are taken from a letter from Jefferson to the Governor of New Hampshire, John Langdon, a letter from which Pound quotes extensively in the final part of the canto. TJ delineates his views on foreign politics, especially on Napoleon and European monarchy. Pound interrupts the flow with a punchy phrase from a letter to John Adams, “the cannibals of Europe are eating one another again,” and returns to the letter to Langdon to follow Jefferson’s merciless overview of the crowned heads of Europe.
“The practice of Kings marrying only in the families of Kings, has been that of Europe for some centuries. Now, take any race of animals, confine them in idleness and inaction, whether in a stye, a stable or a state-room, pamper them with high diet, gratify all their sexual appetites, immerse them in sensualities, nourish their passions, let everything bend before them, and banish whatever might lead them to think, and in a few generations they become all body and no mind.” TJ to John Langdon, 5 March 1810 WTJ XII: 377-8.
- Cannibals of Europe – phrase from a letter by TJ to John Adams, it expresses not only Jefferson’s supreme contempt for the monarchs of Europe and his strong pacifism but also Pound’s awareness of the gathering clouds of a second world war at the time of writing the canto, 1930-31. Pound repeats it at the end of the canto, l. 83, as a sort of conclusion and warning. TJ to John Adams, 1 June 1822 WTJ XV: 371.
out of his case – referring to Judge Marshall, Jefferson remarked:
“This practice of Judge Marshall, of travelling out of his case to prescribe what the law would be in a moot case not before the court, is very irregular and very censurable.” TJ to Judge William Johnson, 12 June 1823 WTJ XV: 447.
- Judge Marshall – John Marshall (1755-1835) American jurist and chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1801-1835) appointed by John Adams in 1800. This is the second snapshot of TJ’s problematic relationship with Marshall, the first one being the judge’s attempt to subpoena him to appear at Aaron Burr’s trial and submit private documents to the court. See nn. 18-20.
- deprived of that organ – the organ Jefferson refers to is the brain, especially the cerebrum. In a letter to John Adams, TJ summarizes a study by Jean Marie Pierre Flourens, possibly his book on brain functions, Recherches expérimentales sur les propriétés et les fonctions du système nerveux dans les animaux vertébrés.
“He takes out the cerebrum completely, leaving the cerebellum and other parts of the system uninjured. The animal loses all its senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting, is totally deprived of will, intelligence, memory, perception, etc., yet lives for months in perfect health, with all its powers of motion, but without moving but on external excitement, starving even on a pile of grain, unless crammed down its throat; in short, in a state of the most absolute stupidity. […] Flourend [sic] proves […] that the cerebrum is the thinking organ; and that life and health may continue, and the animal be entirely without thought, if deprived of that organ. I wish to see what the spiritualists will say to this.” TJ to John Adams, 8 January 1825 WTJ XVI: 90-1.
- Mr Adams to Mr Jefferson – Pound seems to misremember here: we are in the realm of Jefferson’s readings, opinions, emotions, and memorable phrases, not Adams’s. However, the line may be construed to mean that Adams subscribed to these opinions.
- whether in a stye – Pound repeats TJ’s phrase from the letter to Langdon, so as to return to his source and continue Jefferson’s republican argument:
“While in Europe, I often amused myself with contemplating the characters of the then reigning sovereigns of Europe. Louis the XVI was a fool, of my own knowledge and in despite of the answers made for him at his trial. The King of Spain was a fool and of Naples the same. They passed their lives in hunting and despatched two couriers a day week, one thousand miles, to let each other know what game they had killed the preceding days. The King of Sardinia was a fool. All these were Bourbons. The Queen of Portugal, a Braganza, was an idiot by nature. And so was the Kind of Denmark. Their sons, as regents, exercised the powers of government. The King of Prussia, successor to the great Frederick, was a mere hog in body, as well as in mind. Gustavus of Sweden, and Joseph of Austria were really crazy, and George of England, you know, was in a straight waistcoat.” TJ to John Langdon, 5 March 1810 WTJ XII: 378-9.
- Louis Sixteenth – Louis XVI (1745-93), the last king of France before the French Revolution in 1789. He took up the throne in 1764 and held it up to the abolition of monarchy in France in 1792. He was guillotined the next year. Wikipedia.
- King of Spain – Charles IV (1748-1819), was King of Spain, 1788-1808. He was nicknamed “el cazador” [the hunter] and left state affairs to his wife and prime minister. He preferred hunting to government and was considered simple-minded. In 1807, Napoleon forced both Charles and his son to abdicate and installed his own brother as King Joseph I of Spain. Wikipedia.
- King of Naples – Ferdinand (1751-1825) was Ferdinand IV, King of Naples (1759-1806) and Ferdinand III of Sicily. Napoleon deposed him and replaced him with his own brother Joseph in 1805, but Ferdinand was restored to the “Kingdom of Naples and the two Sicilies” after the Napoleonic Wars as Ferdinand I (1816-26). Wikipedia.
- King of Sardinia – Victor Amadeus III (1726-96) was king of Sardinia from 1773 till his death of apoplexy in 1796, during Napoleon’s Italian campaign. His kingdom lost the provinces of Nice and Savoy to France. Wikipedia.
- Bourbons – aristocratic family of French origin whose members acceded to the royal throne of France beginning with Henry IV in 1589. Through intermarriage, its members were on the throne of several European countries such as Spain, Naples, Sicily and Luxemburg. Wikipedia.
- Portuguese Queen – Maria I (1734-1816), also called Maria the Mad, was the queen of Portugal and Brazil. Starting with 1786 and during the Napoleonic Wars, Maria’s mind began to deteriorate and did not heal till her death in Brazil in 1816. Wikipedia.
- Braganza – noble Portuguese family, who ruled Portugal since 1640. The house produced 15 Portuguese and 4 Brazilian monarchs. Wikipedia.
- successor to Frederic of Prussia – TJ might be referring to the nephew of Frederic the Great, Frederick William II (1744-97; King of Prussia 1786-97). He was considered the very antithesis to his predecessor: indolent, a lover of arts and women, he resented the military backbone of Prussia and weakened it. This caused Prussia under his successor Frederick William III (1770-1840; King of Prussia 1797-1840) to be defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of Jena in 1806. Wikipedia.
- Gustavus – Gustavus III (1746-92) became king of Sweden in 1771 and aimed to re-establish autocratic rule after a period of parliamentarian ascendancy. He was assassinated in 1792. Wikipedia.
Joseph of Austria – Joseph II (1741-90), Holy Roman Emperor (1765-90). He was one of the most brilliant members of the Habsburg royal family, the son of Empress Maria Theresa and the brother of Leopold of Tuscany and Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France. Like Gustav of Sweden, Joseph was a proponent of absolute monarchy and a reformer of empire. Wikipedia.
- George III – King George III (1738-1820), of the House of Hanover, was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland (1760-1801) and King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801-1820). As his was a long reign, Britain had historic imperial victories over France in the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) and in the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). Britain attained control over the Mediterranean and over India, but lost the American colonies, first in the Revolutionary War (1775-83) and then in the war of 1812-14, during James Madison’s presidency.
Starting from around 1788, George had bouts of mental illness. At the time of TJ’s letter to John Langdon in March 1810, the monarch was deemed permanently insane and his eldest son, who acted as regent and would become George IV after his father’s death, ruled Britain. Wikipedia.
old Catherine – Catherine II, called “the Great” (1729-96), Empress of Russia (1762-96). She presided over great expansion of the Russian empire and initiated enlightened reforms leading to what is generally considered a “golden age” Wikipedia.
Jefferson dismissed Catherine as well, declaring that she died before signs of madness had become evident:
“There remained, then, none but old Catherine, who had been too lately picked up to have lost her common sense. In this state Bonaparte found Europe; and it was this state of its rulers which lost it with scarce a struggle. These animals had become without mind and powerless; and so will every hereditary monarch be after a few generations. Alexander, the grandson of Catherine, is as yet an exception. He is able to hold his own. But he is only of the third generation. His race is not yet worn out.” TJ to John Langdon, 5 March 1810 WTJ XII: 377-8. See also nn. 24, 35, and 41 to this canto.
- characters and propensities – In his letter to Langdon, TJ openly compares the breeding of animals to hereditary monarchy, declaring that practices of inbreeding led to its ruin as a viable power paradigm. This idea corroborates with his summary of the functions of the brain and with his remark that the kings of Europe were like cannibals eating each other, therefore ruining body and mind by unhealthy, perverted social and political practices. See TJ’s two letters to John Adams quoted in the canto, nn. 36 and 39.
Jefferson’s review of European royalty shows that he lumped together hardworking, intelligent and enlightened monarchs with the indolent, sick and mad. Pound’s inclusion of the failures of French royalist policies in the 1770s at the beginning of the canto corroborates Jefferson’s view that monarchy as a system of power was obsolete and needed to be replaced by a republican model.
- a guisa de leon … quando si posa – I. “such as a lion/ when he sits down” It is Dante’s impression of the poet Sordello of Goito, whom he meets in Purgatory. (Purg VI 66; see also Sordello and Dante’s meeting in Sources.)
Pound recalls Sordello’s Italian patriotism, in consonance with Dante’s own. But the evocation of patriotism and courage are not the only possible parallels with the homage to Jefferson in this canto. Pound may also bid us remember Sordello’s poem dedicated to Sir Blacatz, mourning his hero’s death, and surveying in successive stanzas the crowned heads of Europe, who could not measure up. Sordello imagined they could all taste a piece of Sir Blacatz’s heart, to be healed of cowardice and pettiness. Planh for Sir Blacatz.