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"The Hand That Kindles Cannot Quench The Flame"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Lara may be considered a sequel to The Corsair. Count Lara is the Corsair returned to his ancestral home, accompanied by his faithful page, Kaled, later revealed as Gulnare, the lovely Turkish slave. Lara, recognized by a nobleman, is soon drawn into a bloody feud. The first victories are his, but his men become rash, overconfident, and greedy for booty, and their number soon dwindles until Lara is forced to flee. He is intercepted by his enemies, however, and slain in a last desperate battle. Gulnare dies of grief. From the viewpoint of critics and readers, the interest of the tale lies not in the plot, but in Byron's self-revelations in his descriptions of the character of the mysterious Lara. The line quoted refers to Lara's vain attempt to check his followers' rashness, but it might also be interpreted as an expression of Byron's own inability to check the rumors and misconceptions which he himself had instigated.

In vain he doth whate'er a chief may do,
To check the headlong fury of that crew;
In vain their stubborn ardour he would tame,
The hand that kindles cannot quench the flame.