LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1809

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
‣ Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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His coming of age in 1809 was celebrated at Newstead by such festivities as his narrow means and society could furnish. Besides the ritual roasting of an ox, there was a ball, it seems, given on the occasion,—of which the only particular I could collect, from the old domestic who mentioned it, was that Mr. Hanson, the agent of her lord, was among the dancers. Of Lord Byron’s own method of commemorating the day. I find the following curious record in a letter written from Genoa in 1822—“Did I ever tell you that the day I came of age I dined on eggs and bacon and a bottle of ale?—For once in a way they are my favourite dish and drinkable; but, as neither of them agree with me, I never use them but on great jubilees,—once in four or five years or so.” The pecuniary supplies necessary towards his outset, at this epoch, were procured from money-lenders at an enormously usurious interest, the payment of which for a long time continued to be a burden to him.

It was not till the beginning of this year that he took his Satire,—in a state ready, as he thought, for publication,—to London. Before, however, he had put the work to press, new food was unluckily furnished to his spleen by the neglect with which he conceived himself to have been treated by his guardian, Lord Carlisle. The relations between this nobleman and his ward had, at no time, been of such a nature as to afford opportunities for the cultivation of much friendliness on either side: and to the temper and influence of Mrs. Byron must mainly be attributed the blame of widening, if not of producing, this estrangement between them. The coldness with which Lord Carlisle had received the dedication of the young poet’s first volume was, as we have seen from one of the letters of the latter, felt by him most deeply. He, however, allowed
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 159
himself to be so far governed by prudential considerations as not only to stifle this displeasure, but even to introduce into his Satire, as originally intended for the press, the following compliment to his guardian:—
“On one alone Apollo deigns to smile,
And crowns a new Roscommon in Carlisle.”

The crown, however, thus generously awarded, did not long remain where it had been placed. In the interval between the inditing of this couplet and the delivery of the manuscript to the press, Lord Byron, with the natural hope that his guardian would, of himself, make an offer to introduce him to the House of Lords on his first taking his seat, wrote to remind his lordship that he should be of age at the commencement of the session. Instead, however, of the courtesy which he had thus, not unreasonably, counted upon, a mere formal reply, acquainting him with the technical mode of proceeding on such occasions, was all that, it appears, in return to this application, he received. It is not wonderful therefore that, disposed as he had been, by preceding circumstances, to suspect his noble guardian of no very friendly inclinations towards him, such backwardness, at a moment when the countenance of so near a connexion might have been of service to him, should have roused in his sensitive mind a strong feeling of resentment. The indignation, thus excited, found a vent, but too temptingly, at hand;—the laudatory couplet I have just cited was instantly expunged, and his Satire went forth charged with those vituperative verses against Lord Carlisle, of which, gratifying as they must have been to his revenge at the moment, he, not long after, with the placability so inherent in his generous nature, repented*.

During the progress of his Poem through the press, he increased its length by more than a hundred lines; and made several alterations, one or two of which may be mentioned, as illustrative of that prompt

* See his lines an Major Howard, the son of Lord Carlisle, who was killed at Waterloo:—

“Their praise is hymn’d by loftier harps than mine;
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his sire some wrong.

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susceptibility of new impressions and influences which rendered both his judgment and feelings so variable. In the Satire, as it originally stood, was the following couplet:—
“Though printers condescend the press to soil
With odes by Smythe and epic songs by Hoyle.”
Of the injustice of these lines (unjust, it is but fair to say, to both the writers mentioned) he, on the brink of publication, repented; and,—as far, at least, as regarded one of the intended victims,—adopted a tone directly opposite in his printed
Satire, where the name of Professor Smythe is mentioned honourably, as it deserved, in conjunction with that of Mr. Hodgson, one of the poet’s most valued friends:—
“Oh dark asylum of a vandal race!
At once the boast of learning and disgrace;
So sunk in dulness and so lost in shame,
That Smythe and Hodgson scarce redeem thy fame.”

In another instance we find him “changing his hand” with equal facility and suddenness. The original manuscript of the Satire contained this line,—
“I leave topography to coxcomb Gell;”
but having, while the work was printing, become acquainted with
Sir William Gell, he, without difficulty, by the change of a single epithet, converted satire into eulogy, and the line now descends to posterity thus:—
“I leave topography to classic Gell*.”

* In the fifth edition of the Satire (suppressed by him in 1812), he again changed his mind respecting this gentleman, and altered the line to
“I leave topography to rapid Gell,”
explaining his reasons for the change in the following note:—“‘Rapid,’ indeed;—he topographized and typographized King Priam’s dominions in three days. I called him ‘classic’ before I saw the Troad, but, since, have learned better than to tack to his name what don’t belong to it.”

He is not, however, the only satirist who has been thus capricious and changeable in his

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 161

Among the passages added to the Poem during its progress through the press were those lines, denouncing the licentiousness of the Opera, “Then let Ausonia, &c.” which the young satirist wrote one night, after returning, brimful of morality, from the Opera, and sent them early next morning to Mr. Dallas for insertion. The just and animated tribute to Mr. Crabbe was also among the after-thoughts with which his Poem was adorned; nor can we doubt that both this, and the equally merited eulogy on Mr. Rogers, were the disinterested and deliberate result of the young poet’s judgment, as he had never at that period seen either of these distinguished persons, and the opinion he then expressed of their genius remained unchanged through life. With the author of the Pleasures of Memory he afterwards became intimate, but with him, whom he has so well designated as “Nature’s sternest painter, yet the best,” he was never lucky enough to form any acquaintance;—though, as my venerated friend and neighbour, Mr. Crabbe himself, tells me, they were once, without being aware of it, in the same inn together for a day or two, and must have frequently met, as they went in and out of the house, during the time.

Almost every second day, while the Satire was printing, Mr. Dallas, who had undertaken to superintend it through the press, received fresh matter, for the enrichment of its pages, from the author, whose mind, once excited on any subject, knew no end to the outpourings of its wealth. In one of his short notes to Mr. Dallas, he says, “Print soon, or I shall overflow with rhyme;” and it was, in the same manner, in all his subsequent publications,—as long, at least, as he remained within reach of the printer,—that he continued thus to feed the press, to the very last moment, with new and “thick-coming fancies,” which the re-perusal of what he had already written suggested to him. It would almost seem, indeed, from the extreme facility and rapidity with which he produced some of his brightest passages during the progress of his works through the press, that there was in the very act of printing an

judgments. The variations of this nature in Pope’s Dunciad are well known; and the Abbé Cotin, it is said, owed the “painful pre-eminence” of his station in Boileau’s Satires to the unlucky convenience of his name as a rhyme. Of the generous change from censure to praise, the poet Dante had already set an example, having, in his “Convito,” lauded some of those persons whom in his Commedia he had most severely lashed.

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excitement to his fancy, and that the rush of his thoughts towards this outlet gave increased life and freshness to their flow.

Among the passing events from which he now caught illustrations for his Poem was the melancholy death of Lord Falkland,—a gallant, but dissipated naval officer, with whom the habits of his town life had brought him acquainted, and who, about the beginning of March, was killed in a duel by Mr. Powell. That this event affected Lord Byron very deeply, the few touching sentences devoted to it in his Satire prove. “On Sunday night (he says) I beheld Lord Falkland presiding at his own table in all the honest pride of hospitality; on Wednesday morning at three o’clock I saw stretched before me all that remained of courage, feeling, and a host of passions.” But it was not by words only that he gave proof of sympathy on this occasion. The family of the unfortunate nobleman were left behind in circumstances, which needed something more than the mere expression of compassion to alleviate them; and Lord Byron, notwithstanding the pressure of his own difficulties at the time, found means, seasonably and delicately, to assist the widow and children of his friend. In the following letter to Mrs. Byron, be mentions this, among other matters of interest,—and in a tone of unostentatious sensibility, highly honourable to him:—

“8, St. James’s-street, March 6th, 1809.

“My last letter was written under great depression of spirits from poor Falkland’s death, who has left without a shilling four children and his wife. I have been endeavouring to assist them, which, God knows. I cannot do as I could wish, from my own embarrassments and the many claims upon me from other quarters.

“What you say is all very true: come what may, Newstead and I stand or fall together. I have now lived on the spot, I have fixed my heart upon it, and no pressure, present or future, shall induce me to barter the last vestige of our inheritance. I have that pride within me
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 163
which will enable me to support difficulties. I can endure privations; but could I obtain in exchange for Newstead Abbey the first fortune in the country, I would reject the proposition. Set your mind at ease on that score;
Mr. H * * talks like a man of business on the subject, I feel like a man of honour, and I will not sell Newstead.

“I shall get my seat on the return of the affidavits from Carhais, in Cornwall, and will do something in the House soon: I must dash, or it is all over. My Satire must be kept secret for a month; after that you may say what you please on the subject. Lord C. has used me infamously, and refused to state any particulars of my family to the Chancellor. I have lashed him in my rhymes, and perhaps his lordship may regret not being more conciliatory. They tell me it will have a sale; I hope so, for the bookseller has behaved well, as far as publishing well goes.

“Believe me, &c.

“P.S. You shall have a mortgage on one of the farms.”

The affidavits which he here mentions, as expected from Cornwall, were those required in proof of the marriage of Admiral Byron with Miss Trevanion, the solemnization of which having taken place, as it appears, in a private chapel at Carhais, no regular certificate of the ceremony could be produced. The delay in procuring other evidence, coupled with the rather ungracious refusal of Lord Carlisle to afford any explanations respecting his family, interposed those difficulties which he alludes to in the way of his taking his seat. At length, all the necessary proofs having been obtained, he, on the 13th of March, presented himself in the House of Lords, in a state more lone and unfriended, perhaps, than any youth of his high station had ever before been reduced to on such an occasion, not having a single individual of his own class either to introduce him as friend or receive him as acquaintance. To chance alone was he even indebted for being accompanied as far as the bar of the House by a very distant relative, who had been, little more than a year before, an utter stranger to him. This relative was Mr. Dallas, and the account which he has given of the whole scene is too striking, in all its details, to be related in any other words than his own:—

“The Satire was published about the middle of March, previous to
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which he took his seat in the House of Lords, on the 13th of the same month. On that day, passing down St. James’s-street, but with no intention of calling, I saw his chariot at his door, and went in. His countenance, paler than usual, showed that his mind was agitated, and that he was thinking of the nobleman to whom he had once looked for a hand and countenance in his introduction to the House. He said to me—‘I am glad you happened to come in; I am going to take my seat, perhaps you will go with me.’ I expressed my readiness to attend him; while, at the same time, I concealed the shock I felt on thinking that this young man, who, by birth, fortune, and talent, stood high in life, should have lived so unconnected and neglected by persons of his own rank, that there was not a single member of the senate to which he belonged, to whom he could or would apply to introduce him in a manner becoming his birth. I saw that he felt the situation, and I fully partook his indignation. * * *

“After some talk about the Satire, the last sheets of which were in the press, I accompanied Lord Byron to the House. He was received in one of the antechambers by some of the officers in attendance, with whom he settled respecting the fees he had to pay. One of them went to apprize the Lord Chancellor of his being there, and soon returned for him. There were very few persons in the House. Lord Eldon was going through some ordinary business. When Lord Byron entered, I thought he looked still paler than before; and he certainly wore a countenance in which mortification was mingled with, but subdued by, indignation. He passed the woolsack without looking round, and advanced to the table where the proper officer was attending to administer the oaths. When he had gone through them, the Chancellor quitted his seat, and went towards him with a smile, putting out his hand warmly to welcome him; and, though I did not catch his words, I saw that he paid him some compliment. This was all thrown away upon Lord Byron, who made a stiff bow, and put the tips of his fingers into the Chancellor’s hand. * * * * The Chancellor did not press a welcome so received, but resumed his seat; while Lord Byron carelessly seated himself for a few minutes on one of the empty benches to the left of the throne, usually occupied by the lords in opposition. When, on his joining me, I expressed
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what I had felt, he said: ‘If I had shaken hands heartily, he would have set me down for one of his party—but I will have nothing to do with any of them, on either side; I have taken my seat, and now I will go abroad.’ We returned to St. James’s-street, but he did not recover his spirits.”

To this account of a ceremonial so trying to the proud spirit engaged in it, and so little likely to abate the bitter feeling of misanthropy now growing upon him, I am enabled to add, from his own report in one of his note-books, the particulars of the short conversation which he held with the Lord Chancellor on the occasion:—

“When I came of age, some delays, on account of some birth and marriage certificates from Cornwall, occasioned me not to take my seat for several weeks. When these were over and I had taken the oaths, the Chancellor apologized to me for the delay, observing ‘that these forms were a part of his duty.’ I begged him to make no apology, and added (as he certainly had shown no violent hurry), ‘Your lordship was exactly like Tom Thumb’ (which was then being acted)—‘you did your duty, and you did no more.

In a few days after, the Satire made its appearance, and one of the first copies was sent, with the following letter, to his friend Mr. Harness.

“8, St. James’s-street, March 18th, 1809.

“There was no necessity for your excuses: if you have time and inclination to write, ‘for what we receive, the Lord make us thankful,’—if I do not hear from you, I console myself with the idea that you are much more agreeably employed.

“I send down to you by this post a certain Satire lately published, and in return for the three and sixpence expenditure upon it, only beg that if you should guess the author, you will keep his name secret; at least for the present. London is full of the Duke’s business. The Commons have been at it these last three nights, and are not yet come to a decision. I do not know if the affair will be brought before our
166 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
House, unless in the shape of an impeachment. If it makes its appearance in a debatable form, I believe I shall be tempted to say something on the subject.—I am glad to hear you like Cambridge: firstly, because, to know that you are happy is pleasant to one who wishes you all possible sublunary enjoyment; and, secondly, I admire the morality of the sentiment. Alma Mater was to me injusta noverca: and the old Beldam only gave me my M.A. degree because she could not avoid it*.—You know what a farce a noble Cantab. must perform.

“I am going abroad, if possible, in the spring, and before I depart I am collecting the pictures of my most intimate schoolfellows; I have already a few, and shall want yours, or my cabinet will be incomplete. I have employed one of the first miniature-painters of the day to take them, of course at my own expense, as I never allow my acquaintance to incur the least expenditure to gratify a whim of mine. To mention this may seem indelicate; but when I tell you a friend of ours first refused to sit, under the idea that he was to disburse on the occasion, you will see that it is necessary to state these preliminaries to prevent the recurrence of any similar mistake. I shall see you in time, and will carry you to the limner. It will be a tax on your patience for a week, but pray excuse it, as it is possible the resemblance may be the sole trace I shall be able to preserve of our past friendship and present acquaintance. Just now it seems foolish enough, but in a few years, when some of us are dead, and others are separated by inevitable circumstances, it will be a kind of satisfaction to retain in these images of the living the idea of our former selves, and to contemplate in the resemblances of the dead, all that remains of judgment, feeling, and a host of passions. But all this will be dull enough for you, and so good night, and to end my chapter, or rather my homily, believe me, my dear H., yours most affectionately.”

In this romantic design of collecting together the portraits of his school friends, we see the natural working of an ardent and disappointed

* In another letter to Mr. Harness, dated February, 1809, he says, “I do not know how you and Alma Mater agree. I was but an untoward child myself, and I believe the good lady and her brat were equally rejoiced when I was weaned; and, if I obtained her benediction at parting, it was, at best, equivocal.”

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 167
heart, which, as the future began to darken upon it, clung with fondness to the recollections of the past, and in despair of finding new and true friends saw no happiness but in preserving all it could of the old. But even here, his sensibility had to encounter one of those freezing checks, to which feelings, so much above the ordinary temperature of the world, are but too constantly exposed;—it being from one of the very friends thus fondly valued by him, that he experienced, on leaving England, that mark of neglect of which he so indignantly complains in a note on the second Canto of
Childe Harold,—contrasting with this conduct the fidelity and devotedness he had just found in his Turkish servant, Dervish. Mr. Dallas, who witnessed the immediate effect of this slight upon him, thus describes his emotion:—

“I found him bursting with indignation. ‘Will you believe it?’ said he, ‘I have just met * * *, and asked him to come and sit an hour with me: he excused himself; and what do you think was his excuse? He was engaged with his mother and some ladies to go shopping! And he knows I set out to-morrow, to be absent for years, perhaps never to return!—Friendship! I do not believe I shall leave behind me, yourself and family excepted, and perhaps my mother, a single being who will care what becomes of me.’”

From his expressions in a letter to Mrs. Byron, already cited, that he must “do something in the House soon,” as well as from a more definite intimation of the same intention to Mr. Harness, it would appear that he had, at this time, serious thoughts of at once entering on the high political path, which his station as an hereditary legislator opened to him. But, whatever may have been the first movements of his ambition in this direction, they were soon relinquished. Had he been connected with any distinguished political families, his love of eminence, seconded by such example and sympathy, would have impelled him, no doubt, to seek renown in the fields of party warfare, where it might have been his fate to afford a signal instance of that transmuting process by which, as Pope says, the corruption of a poet sometimes leads to the generation of a statesman. Luckily, however, for the world (though, whether luckily for himself may be questioned), the brighter empire of poesy was destined to claim him all its own. The loneliness, indeed, of
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his position in society at this period, left destitute, as he was, of all those sanctions and sympathies by which youth, at its first start, is usually surrounded, was, of itself, enough to discourage him from embarking in a pursuit, where it is chiefly on such extrinsic advantages that any chance of success must depend. So far from taking an active part in the proceedings of his noble brethren, he appears to have regarded even the ceremony of his attendance among them as irksome and mortifying; and, in a few days after his admission to his seat, he withdrew himself in disgust to the seclusion of his own Abbey, there to brood over the bitterness of premature experience, or meditate, in the scenes and adventures of other lands, a freer outlet for his impatient spirit than it could command at home.

It was not long, however, before he was summoned back to town by the success of his Satire,—the quick sale of which already rendered the preparation of a new edition necessary. His zealous agent, Mr. Dallas, had taken care to transmit to him, in his retirement, all the favourable opinions of the work he could collect; and it is not unamusing, as showing the sort of steps by which Fame at first mounts, to find the approbation of such authorities as Pratt and the magazine-writers put forward among the first rewards and encouragements of a Byron.

“You are already (he says) pretty generally known to be the author. So Cawthorn tells me, and a proof occurred to myself at Hatchard’s, the Queen’s bookseller. On inquiring for the Satire, he told me that he had sold a great many, and had none left, and was going to send for more, which I afterwards found he did. I asked who was the author? He said it was believed to be Lord Byron’s. Did he believe it? Yes, he did. On asking the ground of his belief, be told me that a lady of distinction had, without hesitation, asked for it as Lord Byron’s Satire. He likewise informed me that he had inquired of Mr. Gifford, who frequents his shop, if it was yours. Mr. Gifford denied any knowledge of the author, but spoke very highly of it, and said a copy had been sent to him. Hatchard assured me that all who came to his reading-room admired it. Cawthorn tells me it is universally well spoken of, not only among his own customers, but generally at all the booksellers’. I heard it highly praised at my own publisher’s, where I have lately called several
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times. At Phillip’s it was read aloud by
Pratt to a circle of literary guests, who were unanimous in their applause:—The Antijacobin, as well as the Gentleman’s Magazine, has already blown the trump of fame for you. We shall see it in the other Reviews next month, and probably in some severely handled, according to the connexion of the proprietors and editors with those whom it lashes.”

On his arrival in London, towards the end of April, he found the first edition of his Poem nearly exhausted; and set immediately about preparing another, to which he determined to prefix his name. The additions he now made to the work were considerable,—near a hundred new lines being introduced at the very opening*,—and it was not till about the middle of the ensuing month that the new edition was ready to go to press. He had, during his absence from town, fixed definitively with his friend Mr. Hobhouse that they should leave England together early in the following June, and it was his wish to see the last proofs of the volume corrected before his departure.

Among the new features of this edition was a Postscript to the Satire, in prose, which Mr. Dallas, much to the credit of his discretion and taste, most earnestly entreated the poet to suppress. It is to be regretted that the adviser did not succeed in his efforts, as there runs a tone of bravado through this ill-judged effusion, which it is, at all times, painful to see a really brave man assume. For instance:—“It may be said,” he observes, “that I quit England because I have censured these ‘persons of honour and wit about town;’ but I am coming back again, and their vengeance will keep hot till my return. Those who know me can testify that my motives for leaving England are very different from fears, literary or personal; those, who do not, may one day be convinced. Since the publication of this thing, my name has not been concealed; I have been mostly in London, ready to answer for my transgressions, and in daily expectation of sundry cartels; but, alas, ‘the age of chivalry is over,’ or, in the vulgar tongue, there is no spirit now-a-days.”

But, whatever may have been the faults or indiscretions of this

* The Poem, in the first edition, began at the line,

“Time was ere yet, in these degenerate days.”

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Satire, there are few who would now sit in judgment upon it so severely as did the author himself, on reading it over nine years after, when he had quitted England, never to return. The copy which he then perused is now in the possession of
Mr. Murray, and the remarks which he has left scribbled over its pages are well worth transcribing. On the first leaf we find—

“The binding of this volume is considerably too valuable for its contents.

“Nothing but the consideration of its being the property of another prevents me from consigning this miserable record of misplaced anger and indiscriminate acrimony to the flames. “B.”

Opposite the passage,
“to be misled
By Jeffrey’s heart, or Lamb’s Boeotian head,”
is written, “This was not just. Neither the heart nor the head of these gentlemen are, at all, what they are here represented.” Along the whole of the severe verses against
Mr. Wordsworth he has scrawled, “Unjust,”—and the same verdict is affixed to those against Mr. Coleridge. On his unmeasured attack upon Mr. Bowles, the comment is,—“Too savage all this on Bowles;” and down the margin of the page containing the lines, “Health to immortal Jeffrey,” &c. he writes,—“Too ferocious—this is mere insanity,”—adding, on the verses that follow (“Can none remember that eventful day?” &c.) “All this is bad, because personal.”

Sometimes, however, he shows a disposition to stand by his original decisions. Thus, on the passage relating to a writer of certain obscure Epics (v. 379), he says,—“All right;” adding, of the same person, “I saw some letters of this fellow to an unfortunate poetess, whose productions (which the poor woman by no means thought vainly of) he attacked so roughly and bitterly, that I could hardly regret assailing him;—even were it unjust, which it is not; for, verily, he is an ass.” On the strong lines, too (v. 953), upon Clarke (a writer in a magazine called the Satirist), he remarks,—“Right enough,—this was well deserved, and well laid on.”

To the whole paragraph, beginning “Illustrious Holland,” are affixed the words “Bad enough;—and on mistaken grounds, besides.” The
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bitter verses against
Lord Carlisle he pronounces “Wrong also—the provocation was not sufficient to justify such acerbity;”—and of a subsequent note respecting the same nobleman he says, “Much too savage, whatever the foundation may be.” Of Rosa Matilda (v. 738) he tells us, “She has since married the Morning Post,—an exceeding good match.” To the verses “When some brisk youth, the tenant of a stall,” &c. he has appended the following interesting note:—“This was meant at poor Blackett, who was then patronized by A. I. B.*—but that I did not know, or this would not have been written; at least, I think not.”

Farther on, where Mr. Campbell and other poets are mentioned, the following gingle on the names of their respective poems is scribbled:—

“Pretty Miss Jacqueline
Had a nose aquiline;
And would assert rude
Things of Miss Gertrude;
While Mr. Marmion
Led a great army on,
Making Kehama look
Like a fierce Mamaluke.”

Opposite the paragraph in praise of Mr. Crabbe he has written, “I consider Crabbe and Coleridge as the first of these times in point of power and genius.” On his own line, in a subsequent paragraph, “And glory, like the Phœnix mid her fires,” he says, comically, “The Devil take that Phœnix—how came it there?” and his concluding remark on the whole Poem is as follows:—

“The greater part of this Satire, I most sincerely wish had never been written; not only on account of the injustice of much of the critical and some of the personal part of it, but the tone and temper are such as I cannot approve. Byron.”

“Diodati, Geneva, July 14, 1816.

While engaged in preparing his new edition for the press, he was also gaily dispensing the hospitalities of Newstead to a party of young college

* Lady Byron, then Miss Milbank.

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friends, whom, with the prospect of so long an absence from England, he had assembled round him at the Abbey, for a sort of festive farewell. The following letter from one of the party,
Charles Skinner Matthews, though containing much less of the noble host himself than we could have wished, yet, as a picture, taken freshly and at the moment, of a scene so pregnant with character, will, I have little doubt, be highly acceptable to the reader.

“London, 22 May, 1809.
* * * * *

“I must begin with giving you a few particulars of the singular place which I have lately quitted.

“Newstead Abbey is situate 136 miles from London,—4 on this side Mansfield. It is so fine a piece of antiquity that I should think there must be a description and, perhaps, a picture of it in Grose. The ancestors of its present owner came into possession of it at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries,—but the building itself is of a much earlier date. Though sadly fallen to decay, it is still completely an Abbey, and most part of it is still standing in the same state as when it was first built. There are two tiers of cloisters, with a variety of cells and rooms about them, which, though not inhabited, nor in an inhabitable state, might easily be made so; and many of the original rooms, amongst which is a fine stone hall, are still in use. Of the Abbey Church only one end remains; and the old kitchen, with a long range of apartments, is reduced to a heap of rubbish. Leading from the Abbey to the modern part of the habitation is a noble room, seventy feet in length and twenty-three in breadth: but every part of the house displays neglect and decay, save those which the present Lord has lately fitted up.

“The house and gardens are entirely surrounded by a wall with battlements. In front is a large lake, bordered here and there with castellated buildings, the chief of which stands on an eminence at the further extremity of it. Fancy all this surrounded with bleak and
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 173
barren hills, with scarce a tree to be seen for miles, except a solitary clump or two, and you will have some idea of Newstead. For the
late Lord being at enmity with his son, to whom the estate was secured by entail, resolved, out of spite to the same, that the estate should descend to him in as miserable a plight as he could possibly reduce it to; for which cause, he took no care of the mansion, and fell to lopping of every tree he could lay his hands on so furiously, that he reduced immense tracts of woodland country to the desolate state I have just described. However, his son died before him, so that all his rage was thrown away.

“So much for the place, concerning which I have thrown together these few particulars, meaning my account to be, like the place itself, without any order or connexion. But if the place itself appear rather strange to you, the ways of the inhabitants will not appear much less so. Ascend, then, with me the hall steps, that I may introduce you to my Lord and his visitants. But have a care how you proceed; be mindful to go there in broad daylight, and with your eyes about you. For, should you make any blunder,—should you go to the right of the hall steps, you are laid hold of by a bear; and, should you go to the left, your case is still worse, for you run full against a wolf!—Nor, when you have attained the door, is your danger over; for the hall being decayed, and therefore standing in need of repair, a bevy of inmates are very probably banging at one end of it with their pistols; so that if you enter without giving loud notice of your approach, you have only escaped the wolf and the bear to expire by the pistol-shots of the merry Monks of Newstead.

“Our party consisted of Lord Byron and four others; and was, now and then, increased by the presence of a neighbouring parson. As for our way of living, the order of the day was generally this:—For breakfast we had no set hour, but each suited his own convenience, every thing remaining on the table till the whole party had done; though had one wished to breakfast at the early hour of ten, one would have been rather lucky to find any of the servants up. Our average hour of rising was one. I, who generally got up between eleven and twelve, was always,—even when an invalid,—the first of the party, and was esteemed a prodigy of early rising. It was frequently past two before
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the breakfast party broke up. Then, for the amusements of the morning, there was reading, fencing, single-stick, or shuttle-cock, in the great room; practising with pistols in the hall; walking—riding—cricket—sailing on the lake, playing with the bear, or teazing the wolf. Between seven and eight we dined, and our evening lasted from that time till one, two, or three in the morning. The evening diversions may be easily conceived.

“I must not omit the custom of handing round, after dinner, on the removal of the cloth, a human skull filled with burgundy. After revelling on choice viands, and the finest wines of France, we adjourned to tea, where we amused ourselves with reading, or improving conversation,—each, according to his fancy,—and, after sandwiches, &c. retired to rest. A set of monkish dresses, which had been provided, with all the proper apparatus of crosses, beads, tonsures, &c. often gave a variety to our appearance, and to our pursuits.

“You may easily imagine how chagrined I was at being ill nearly the first half of the time I was there. But I was led into a very different reflection from that of Dr. Swift, who left Pope’s house without ceremony, and afterwards informed him, by letter, that it was impossible for two sick friends to live together; for I found my shivering and invalid frame so perpetually annoyed by the thoughtless and tumultuous health of every one about me, that I heartily wished every soul in the house to be as ill as myself.

“The journey back I performed on foot, together with another of the guests. We walked about 25 miles a day; but were a week on the road, from being detained by the rain.

* * * * * *

“So here I close my account of an expedition which has somewhat extended my knowledge of this country. And where do you think I am going next? To Constantinople!—at least, such an excursion has been proposed to me. Lord B. and another friend of mine are going thither next month, and have asked me to join the party; but it seems to be but a wild scheme, and requires twice thinking upon.

“Addio, my dear I., yours very affectionately,
“C. S. Matthews .”
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 175

Having put the finishing hand to his new edition, he, without waiting for the fresh honours that were in store for him, took leave of London (whither he had returned) on the 11th of June, and, in about a fortnight after, sailed for Lisbon.

Great as was the advance which his powers had made, under the influence of that resentment from which he now drew his inspiration, they were yet, even in his Satire, at an immeasurable distance from the point to which they afterwards so triumphantly rose. It is, indeed, remarkable that, essentially as his genius seemed connected with, and, as it were, springing out of his character, the developement of the one should so long have preceded the full maturity of the resources of the other. By her very early and rapid expansion of his sensibilities, Nature had given him notice of what she destined him for, long before he understood the call; and those materials of poetry with which his own fervid temperament abounded were but by slow degrees, and after much self-meditation, revealed to him. In his Satire, though vigorous, there is but little foretaste of the wonders that followed it. His spirit was stirred, but he had not yet looked down into its depths, nor does even his bitterness taste of the bottom of the heart, like those sarcasms which he afterwards flung in the face of mankind. Still less had the other countless feelings and passions, with which his soul had been long labouring, found an organ worthy of them;—the gloom, the grandeur, the tenderness of his nature, all were left without a voice, till his mighty genius, at last, awakened in its strength.

In stooping, as he did, to write after established models, as well in the Satire as in his still earlier poems, he showed how little he had yet explored his own original resources, or found out those distinctive marks by which he was to be known through all time. But, bold and energetic as was his general character, he was, in a remarkable degree, diffident in his intellectual powers. The consciousness of what he could achieve was but by degrees forced upon him, and the discovery of so rich a mine of genius in his soul came with no less surprise on himself than on the world. It was from the same slowness of self-appreciation that, afterwards, in the full flow of his fame, he long doubted, as we shall see, his own aptitude for works of wit and humour,—till the happy
176 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
experiment of “
Beppo” at once dissipated this distrust, and opened a new region of triumph to his versatile and boundless powers.

But, however far short of himself his first writings must be considered, there is in his Satire a liveliness of thought, and, still more, a vigour and courage, which, concurring with the justice of his cause and the sympathies of the public on his side, could not fail to attach instant celebrity to his name. Notwithstanding, too, the general boldness and recklessness of his tone, there were occasionally mingled with this defiance some allusions to his own fate and character, whose affecting earnestness seemed to answer for their truth, and which were of a nature strongly to awaken curiosity as well as interest. One or two of these passages, as illustrative of the state of his mind at this period, I shall here extract. The loose and unfenced state in which his youth was left to grow wild upon the world is thus touchingly alluded to:—

“Ev’n I—least thinking of a thoughtless throng,
Just skill’d to know the right and choose the wrong,
Freed at that age when Reason’s shield is lost
To fight my course through Passion’s countless host,
Whom every path of Pleasure’s flowery way
Has lured in turn, and all have led astray—*
Ev’n I must raise my voice, ev’n I must feel
Such scenes, such men destroy the public weal:
Although some kind, censorious friend will say,
What art thou better, meddling fool†, than they?
And every brother Rake will smile to see
That miracle, a Moralist, in me.”

But the passage in which, hastily thrown off as it is, we find the strongest trace of that wounded feeling, which bleeds, as it were, through all his subsequent writings, is the following:—

“The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall
From lips that now may seem imbued with gall,

* In the MS. remarks on his Satire, to which I have already referred, he says, on this passage—“Yea, and a pretty dance they have led me.”

† “Fool then, and but little wiser now.”—MS. ibid.

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 177
Nor fools nor follies tempt me to despise
The meanest thing that crawl’d beneath my eyes.
But now so callous grown, so changed from youth,” &c.

Some of the causes that worked this change in his character have been intimated in the course of the preceding pages. That there was no tinge of bitterness in his natural disposition we have abundant testimony, besides his own, to prove. Though, as a child, occasionally passionate and headstrong, his docility and kindness, towards those who were, themselves, kind, is acknowledged by all; and “playful” and “affectionate” are invariably the epithets by which those who knew him in his childhood convey their impression of his character.

Of all the qualities, indeed, of his nature, affectionateness seems to have been the most ardent and most deep. A disposition, on his own side, to form strong attachments, and a yearning desire after affection in return, were the feeling and the want that formed the dream and torment of his existence. We have seen with what passionate enthusiasm he threw himself into his boyish friendships. The all-absorbing and unsuccessful love that followed was, if I may so say, the agony, without being the death, of this unsated desire, which lived on through his life, filled his poetry with the very soul of tenderness, lent the colouring of its light to even those unworthy ties which vanity or passion led him afterwards to form, and was the last aspiration of his fervid spirit in those stanzas written but a few months before his death:—

“’Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it has ceased to move;
Yet, though I cannot be beloved,
Still let me love!”

It is much, I own, to be questioned, whether, even under the most favourable circumstances, a disposition such as I have here described could have escaped ultimate disappointment, or found anywhere a resting-place for its imaginings and desires. But, in the case of Lord Byron, disappointment met him on the very threshold of life. His mother, to whom his affections first, naturally and with ardour, turned, either repelled them rudely or capriciously trifled with them. In speaking of
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his early days to a friend at Genoa, a short time before his departure for Greece, he traced the first feelings of pain and humiliation he had ever known to the coldness with which his mother had received his caresses in infancy, and the frequent taunts on his personal deformity with which she had wounded him.

The sympathy of a sister’s love, of all influences on the mind of a youth the most softening, was also, in his early days, denied to him,—his sister Augusta and he having seen but little of each other while young. A vent through the calm channel of domestic affections might have brought down the high current of his feelings to a level nearer that of the world he had to traverse, and thus saved them from the tumultuous rapids and fails to which this early elevation, in their after-course, exposed them. In the dearth of all home endearments, his heart had no other resource but in those boyish friendships which he formed at school; and when these were interrupted by his removal to Cambridge, he was again thrown back, isolated, on his own restless desires. Then followed his ill-fated attachment to Miss Chaworth, to which, more than to any other cause, he himself attributed the desolating change then wrought in his disposition.

“I doubt sometimes” (he says, in his “Detached Thoughts”) “whether, after all, a quiet and unagitated life would have suited me; yet I sometimes long for it. My earliest dreams (as most boys’ dreams are) were martial; but a little later they were all for love and retirement, till the hopeless attachment to M * * * C * * * began and continued (though sedulously concealed) very early in my teens; and so upwards for a time. This threw me out again ‘alone on a wide, wide sea.’ In the year 1804 I recollect meeting my sister at General Harcourt’s in Portland Place. I was then one thing, and as she had always till then found me. When we met again in 1805 (she told me since) that my temper and disposition were so completely altered that I was hardly to be recognized. I was not then sensible of the change; but I can believe it, and account for it.”

I have already described his parting with Miss Chaworth previously to her marriage. Once again, after that event, he saw her, and for the last time,—being invited, by Mr. Chaworth to dine at Annesley not long
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 179
before his departure from England. The few years that had elapsed since their last meeting had made a considerable change in the appearance and manners of the young poet. The fat, unformed schoolboy was now a slender and graceful young man. Those emotions and passions, which, at first, heighten, and then destroy, beauty, had, as yet, produced only their favourable effects on his features; and, though with but little aid from the example of refined society, his manners had subsided into that tone of gentleness and self-possession which more than any thing marks the well-bred gentleman. Once only was the latter of these qualities put to the trial, when the little daughter of his fair hostess was brought into the room. At the sight of the child, he started involuntarily,—it was with the utmost difficulty he could conceal his emotion; and to the sensations of that moment we are indebted for those touching stanzas, “
Well—thou art happy,” &c.* which appeared afterwards in a Miscellany published by one of his friends, and are now to be found in the general collection of his works. Under the influence of the same despondent passion he wrote two other poems at this period, from which, as they exist only in the Miscellany I have just alluded to, and that collection has for some time been out of print, a few stanzas may, not improperly, be extracted here.

“When man, expell’d from Eden’s bowers,
A moment linger’d near the gate,
Each scene recall’d the vanish’d hours,
And bade him curse his future fate.
But, wandering on through distant climes,
He learnt to bear his load of grief;
Just gave a sigh to other times,
And found in busier scenes relief.

* Dated, in his original copy, Nov. 2, 1808.

† Entitled, in his original manuscript, “To Mrs. * * *, on being asked my reason for quitting England in the spring.” The date subjoined is Dec. 2, 1808.

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“Thus, lady*, must it be with me,
And I must view thy charms no more;
For, whilst I linger near to thee,
I sigh for all I knew before.” &c. &c.

The other poem is, throughout, full of tenderness; but I shall give only what appear to me the most striking stanzas.

“’Tis done—and shivering in the gale
The bark unfurls her snowy sail;
And whistling o’er the bending mast,
Loud sings on high the fresh’ning blast;
And I must from this land be gone,
Because I cannot love but one.
* * * *
“As some lone bird, without a mate,
My weary heart is desolate;
I look around, and cannot trace
One friendly smile or welcome face,
And ev’n in crowds am still alone,
Because I cannot love but one.
“And I will cross the whitening foam,
And I will seek a foreign home;
Till I forget a false fair face,
I ne’er shall find a resting-place;
My own dark thoughts I cannot shun,
But ever love, and love but one.
* * * *
“I go—but wheresoe’er I flee
There’s not an eye will weep for me;
There’s not a kind congenial heart,
Where I can claim the meanest part;
No thou, who hast my hopes undone,
Wilt sigh, although I love but one.

* In his first copy, “Thus, Mary.”

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 181
“To think of every early scene,
Of what we are, and what we’ve been,
Would whelm some softer hearts with woe—
But mine, alas! has stood the blow;
Yet still beats on as it begun,
And never truly loves but one.
“And who that dear loved one may be
Is not for vulgar eyes to see,
And why that early love was crost,
Thou know’st the best, I feel the most;
But few that dwell beneath the sun
Have loved so long, and loved but one.
“I’ve tried another’s fetters too,
With charms, perchance, as fair to view;
And I would fain have loved as well,
But some unconquerable spell
Forbade my bleeding breast to own
A kindred care for aught but one.
“’Twould soothe to take one lingering view,
And bless thee in my last adieu;
Yet wish I not those eyes to weep
For him that wanders o’er the deep;
His home, his hope, his youth are gone,
Yet still he loves, and loves but one*.”

While thus, in all the relations of the heart, his thirst after affection was thwarted, in another instinct of his nature, not less strong—the desire of eminence and distinction—he was, in an equal degree, checked in his aspirings, and mortified. The inadequacy of his means to his station was early a source of embarrassment and humiliation to him; and those high, patrician notions of birth in which he indulged but made the disparity between his fortune and his rank the more galling. Ambition, however, soon whispered to him that there were other and nobler ways

* Thus corrected by himself in s copy of the Miscellany now in my possession;—the two last lines being, originally, follows:—

“Though wheresoe’er my bark may run,
I love but thee, I love but one.”

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to distinction. The eminence which talent builds for itself might, one day, he proudly felt, be his own; nor was it too sanguine to hope that, under the favour accorded usually to youth, he might with impunity venture on his first steps to fame. But here, as in every other object of his heart, disappointment and mortification awaited him. Instead of experiencing the ordinary forbearance, if not indulgence, with which young aspirants for fame are received by their critics, he found himself instantly the victim of such unmeasured severity as is not often dealt out even to veteran offenders in literature; and, with a heart fresh from the trials of disappointed love, saw those resources and consolations which he had sought in the exercise of his intellectual strength also invaded.

While thus prematurely broken into the pains of life, a no less darkening effect was produced upon him by too early an initiation into its pleasures. That charm with which the fancy of youth invests an untried world was, in his case, soon dissipated. His passions had, at the very onset of their career, forestalled the future; and the blank void that followed was by himself considered as one of the causes of that melancholy, which now settled so deeply into his character.

“My passions” (he says, in his “Detached Thoughts,”) “were developed very early—so early that few would believe me if I were to state the period and the facts which accompanied it. Perhaps this was one of the reasons which caused the anticipated melancholy of my thoughts,—having anticipated life. My earlier poems are the thoughts of one at least ten years older than the age at which they were written,—I don’t mean for their solidity, but their experience. The two first Cantos of Childe Harold were completed at twenty-two; and they are written as if by a man older than I shall probably ever be.”

Though the allusions in the first sentence of this extract have reference to a much earlier period, they afford an opportunity of remarking, that however dissipated may have been the life which he led during the two or three years previous to his departure on his travels, yet the notion caught up by many, from his own allusions, in Childe Harold, to irregularities and orgies of which Newstead had been the scene, is, like most other imputations against him founded on his own testimony,
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 183
greatly exaggerated. He describes, it is well known, the home of his poetical representative as a “monastic dome, condemned to uses vile,” and then adds,—
“Where Superstition once had made her den,
Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile.”

Mr. Dallas, too, giving in to the same strain of exaggeration, says, in speaking of the poet’s preparations for his departure, “already satiated with pleasure, and disgusted with those companions who have no other resource, he had resolved on mastering his appetites;—he broke up his harams.” The truth, however, is that the narrowness of Lord Byron’s means would alone have prevented such oriental luxuries. The mode of his life at Newstead was simple and unexpensive. His companions, though not averse to convivial indulgences, were of habits and tastes too intellectual for mere vulgar debauchery; and, with respect to the alleged “Harams,” it appears certain that one or two suspected “Subintroductæ” (as the ancient monks of the Abbey would have styled them), and those, too, among the ordinary menials of the establishment, were all that even scandal itself could ever fix upon to warrant such an assumption.

That gaming was among his follies at this period, he himself tells us in the Journal I have just cited:—

“I have a notion (he says) that gamblers are as happy as many people, being always excited. Women, wine, fame, the table,—even ambition, sate now and then; but every turn of the card and cast of the dice keeps the gamester alive: besides, one can game ten times longer than one can do any thing else. I was very fond of it when young, that is to say, of hazard, for I hate all card games,—even faro. When macco (or whatever they spell it) was introduced, I gave up the whole thing, for I loved and missed the rattle and dash of the box and dice, and the glorious uncertainty, not only of good luck or bad luck, but of any luck at all, as one had sometimes to throw often to decide at all. I have thrown as many as fourteen mains running, and carried off all the cash upon the table occasionally; but I had no coolness, or judgment, or calculation. It was the delight of the thing that pleased me. Upon the whole, I left off in time, without being much a winner or loser. Since one-and-twenty
184 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
years of age I played but little, and then never above a hundred, or two, or three.”

To this, and other follies of the same period, he alludes in the following note:—

“Twelve o’clock, Friday night.

“I have just received your note; believe me I regret most sincerely that I was not fortunate enough to see it before, as I need not repeat to you, that your conversation for half an hour would have been much more agreeable to me than gambling or drinking, or any other fashionable mode of passing an evening abroad or at home.—I really am very sorry that I went out previous to the arrival of your despatch: in future pray let me hear from you before six, and whatever my engagements may be, I will always postpone them.—Believe me, with that deference which I have always from my childhood paid to your talents, and with somewhat a better opinion of your heart than I have hitherto entertained,

“Yours ever, &c.”

Among the causes—if not rather among the results—of that disposition to melancholy, which, after all, perhaps, naturally belonged to his temperament, must not be forgotten those sceptical views of religion, which clouded, as has been shown, his boyish thoughts, and, at the time of which I am speaking, gathered still more darkly over his mind. In general, we find the young too ardently occupied with the enjoyments which this life gives or promises to afford either leisure or inclination for much inquiry into the mysteries of the next. But with him it was unluckily otherwise; and to have, at once, anticipated the worst experience both of the voluptuary and the reasoner,—to have reached, as he supposed, the boundary of this world’s pleasures, and see nothing but “clouds and darkness” beyond, was the doom, the anomalous doom, which a nature, premature in all its passions and powers, inflicted on Lord Byron.

When Pope, at the age of five-and-twenty, complained of being
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 185
weary of the world, he was told by
Swift that he “had not yet acted or suffered enough in the world to have become weary of it*.” But far different was the youth of Pope and of Byron;—what the former but anticipated in thought, the latter had drunk deep of in reality;—at an age when the one was but looking forth on the sea of life, the other had plunged in, and tried its depths. Swift himself, in whom early disappointments and wrongs had opened a vein of bitterness that never again closed, affords a far closer parallel to the fate of our noble poet†, as well in the untimeliness of the trials he had been doomed to encounter, as in the traces of their havoc which they left in his character.

That the romantic fancy of youth, which courts melancholy as an indulgence, and loves to assume a sadness it has not had time to earn, may have had some share in, at least, fostering the gloom by which the mind of the young poet was overcast, I am not disposed to deny. The circumstance, indeed, of his having, at this time, among the ornaments of his study, a number of skulls highly polished, and placed on light stands round the room, would seem to indicate that he rather courted than shunned such gloomy associations‡. Being a sort of boyish mimickry, too, of the use to which the poet Young is said to have applied a skull, such a display might well induce some suspicion of the sincerity of his gloom, did we not, through the whole course of his subsequent life and writings, track visibly the deep vein of melancholy which nature had imbedded in his character.

Such was the state of mind and heart,—as, from his own testimony and that of others, I have collected it,—in which Lord Byron now set

* I give the words an Johnson has reported them;—in Swift’s own letter they are, if I recollect right, rather different.

† There is, at least, one striking point of similarity between their characters in the disposition which Johnson has thus attributed to Swift:—“The suspicions of Swift’s irreligion,” he says, “proceeded, in a great measure, from his dread of hypocrisy; instead of wishing to seem better, he delighted in seeming worse than he was.

‡ Another use to which he appropriated one of the skulls found in digging at Newstead was the having it mounted in silver, and converted into a drinking-cup. This whim has been commemorated in some well-known verses of his own; and the cup itself, which, apart from any revolting ideas it may excite, forms by no means an inelegant object to the eye, is, with many other interesting relics of Lord Byron, in the possession of the present proprietor of Newstead Abbey, Colonel Wildman.

186 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
out on his indefinite pilgrimage; and never was there a change wrought in disposition and character to which
Shakspeare’s fancy of “sweet bells jangled out of tune” more truly applied. The unwillingness of Lord Carlisle to countenance him, and his humiliating position in consequence, completed the full measure of that mortification towards which so many other causes had concurred. Baffled, as he had been, in his own ardent pursuit of affection and friendship, his sole revenge and consolation lay in doubting that any such feelings really existed. The various crosses he had met with, in themselves sufficiently irritating and wounding,—were rendered still more so by the high, impatient temper with which he encountered them. What others would have bowed to, as misfortunes, his proud spirit rose against, as wrongs; and the vehemence of this reaction produced, at once, a revolution throughout his whole character*, in which, as in revolutions of the political world, all that was bad and irregular in his nature burst forth with all that was most energetic and grand. The very virtues and excellencies of his disposition ministered to the violence of this change. The same ardour that had burned through his friendships and loves now fed the fierce explosions of his indignation and scorn. His natural vivacity and humour but lent a fresher flow to his bitterness†, till he, at last, revelled in it as an indulgence; and that hatred of hypocrisy, which had hitherto only shown itself in a too shadowy colouring of his own youthful frailties, now hurried him, from his horror of all false pretensions to virtue, into the still more dangerous boast and ostentation of vice.

The following letter to his mother, written a few days before he sailed, gives some particulars respecting the persons who composed his suite. Robert Rushton, whom he mentions so feelingly in the Postscript, was the boy introduced, as his Page, in the First Canto of Childe Harold.

* Rousseau appears to have been conscious of a similar sort of change in his own nature:—“They have laboured without intermission,” he says, in a letter to Madame de Boufflers, “to give to my heart, and, perhaps, at the same time to my genius, a spring and stimulus of action, which they have not inherited from nature. I was born weak,—ill-treatment has made me strong.”—Hume’s Private Correspondence.

† “It was bitterness that they mistook for frolic.”—Johnson’s account of himself at the university, in Boswell.

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 187
“Falmouth, June 22d, 1809.

“I am about to sail in a few days; probably before this reaches you. Fletcher begged so hard that I have continued him in my service. If he does not behave well abroad, I will send him back in a transport. I have a German servant (who has been with Mr. Wilbraham in Persia before, and was strongly recommended to me by Dr. Butler of Harrow), Robert and William; they constitute my whole suite. I have letters in plenty—you shall hear from me at the different ports I touch upon; but you must not be alarmed if my letters miscarry. The continent is in a fine state—an insurrection has broken out at Paris, and the Austrians are beating Buonaparte—the Tyrolese have risen.

“There is a picture of me in oil, to be sent down to Newstead soon.—I wish the Miss P * * s had something better to do than carry my miniatures to Nottingham to copy. Now they have done it, you may ask them to copy the others, which are greater favourites than my own. As to money matters, I am ruined—at least till Rochdale is sold; and if that does not turn out well, I shall enter into the Austrian or Russian service—perhaps the Turkish, if I like their manners. The world is all before me, and I leave England without regret, and without a wish to revisit any thing it contains, except yourself, and your present residence.

“P.S.—Pray tell Mr. Rushton his son is well, and doing well; so is Murray, indeed better than I ever saw him; he will be back in about a month. I ought to add, the leaving Murray to my few regrets, as his age perhaps will prevent my seeing him again. Robert I take with me; I like him, because, like myself, he seems a friendless animal.”

To those who have in their remembrance his poetical description of the state of mind in which he now took leave of England, the gaiety and levity of the letters I am about to give will appear, it is not improbable, strange and startling. But, in a temperament like that of Lord
188 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
Byron, such bursts of vivacity on the surface are by no means incompatible with a wounded spirit underneath*; and the light, laughing tone that pervades these letters, but makes the feeling of solitariness that breaks out in them the more striking and affecting.

“Falmouth, June 25th, 1809.

“We sail to-morrow in the Lisbon packet, having been detained till now by the lack of wind, and other necessaries. These being at last procured, by this time to-morrow evening we shall be embarked on the vide vorld of vaters, vor all the vorld like Robinson Crusoe. The Malta vessel not sailing for some weeks, we have determined to go by way of Lisbon, and, as my servants term it, to see ‘that there Portingale;’—thence to Cadiz and Gibraltar, and so on our old route to Malta and Constantinople, if so be that Captain Kidd, our gallant commander, understands plain sailing and Mercator, and takes us on our voyage all according to the chart.

“Will you tell Dr. Butler† that I have taken the treasure of a

* The poet Cowper, it is well known, produced that master-piece of humour, John Gilpin, during one of his fits of morbid dejection, and he himself says, “Strange as it may seem, the most ludicrous lines I ever wrote have been written in the saddest mood, and but for that saddest mood, perhaps, had never been written at all.”

† The reconciliation which took place between him and Dr. Butler, before his departure, is one of those instances of placability and pliableness with which his life abounded. We have seen, too, from the manner in which he mentions the circumstance in one of his note-books, that the reconcilement was of that generously retrospective kind, in which not only the feeling of hostility is renounced in future, but a strong regret expressed that it had been ever entertained.

Not content with this private atonement to Dr. Butler, it was his intention, had he published another edition of the Hours of Idleness, to substitute for the offensive verses against that gentleman a frank avowal of the wrong he had been guilty of in giving vent to them. This fact, so creditable to the candour of his nature, I learn from a loose sheet in his handwriting, containing the following corrections, in place of the passage beginning “Or if my Muse a pedant’s portrait drew,” he meant to insert—

If once my Muse a harsher portrait drew,
Warm with her wrongs, and deem’d the likeness true,

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 189
servant, Friese, the native of Prussia Proper, into my service from his recommendation. He has been all among the Worshippers of Fire in Persia, and has seen Persepolis and all that.

H * * has made woundy preparations for a book on his return;—100 pens, two gallons of japan ink, and several volumes of best blank, is no bad provision for a discerning public. I have laid down my pen, but have promised to contribute a chapter on the state of morals, &c. &c.

‘The cock is crowing,
I must be going,
And can no more.’—GHOST OF GAFFER THUMB.
“Adieu.—Believe me, &c. &c.”
“Falmouth, June 25th, 1809.

“Before this reaches you, Hobhouse, two officers’ wives, three children, two waiting-maids, ditto subalterns for the troops, three Portuguese esquires and domestics, in all nineteen souls, will have sailed in the Lisbon packet, with the noble Captain Kidd, a gallant commander as ever smuggled an anker of right Nantz.

“We are going to Lisbon first, because the Malta packet has sailed, d’ye see?—from Lisbon to Gibraltar, Malta, Constantinople, and ‘all that,’ as Orator Henley said, when he put the Church, and ‘all that,’ in danger.

By cooler judgment taught, her fault she owns,—
With noble minds a fault, confess’d, atones.”

And to the passage immediately succeeding his warm praise of Dr. Drury,—“Pomposus fills his magisterial chair,” it was his intention to give the following turn:—

“Another fills his magisterial chair;
Reluctant Ida owns a stranger’s care;
Oh may like honours crown his future name,—
If such his virtues, such shall he his fame”

190 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.

“This town of Falmouth, as you will partly conjecture, is no great ways from the sea. It is defended on the sea-side by tway castles, St. Maws and Pendennis, extremely well calculated for annoying every body except an enemy. St. Maws is garrisoned by an able-bodied person of fourscore, a widower. He has the whole command and sole management at six most unmanageable pieces of ordnance, admirably adapted for the destruction of Pendennis, a like tower of strength on the opposite side of the Channel. We have seen St. Maws, but Pendennis they will not let us behold, save at a distance, because Hobhouse and I are suspected of having already taken St. Maws by a coup de main.

“The town contains many quakers and salt-fish—the oysters have a taste of copper, owing to the soil of a mining country—the women (blessed be the Corporation therefor!) are flogged at the cart’s tail when they pick and steal, as happened to one of the fair sex yesterday noon. She was pertinacious in her behaviour, and damned the mayor. * *

“Hodgson! remember me to the Drury, and remember me to yourself, when drunk:—I am not worth a sober thought. Look to my Satire at Cawthorne’s, Cockspur-street. * * *

“I don’t know when I can write again, because it depends on that experienced navigator, Captain Kidd, and the ‘stormy winds that (don’t) blow’ at this season. I leave England without regret—I shall return to it without pleasure. I am like Adam, the first convict, sentenced to transportation, but I have no Eve, and have eaten no apple but what was sour as a crab;—and thus ends my first chapter. Adieu. Yours, &c.”

In this letter the following lively verses were enclosed:—

“Falmouth Roads, June 30th, 1809.
“Huzza! Hodgson, we are going,
Our embargo’s off at last;
Favourable breezes blowing
Bend the canvas o’er the mast.
From aloft the signal’s streaming,
Hark! the farewell gun is fired,
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 191
Women screeching, tars blaspheming,
Tell us that our time’s expired.
Here’s a rascal
Come to task all,
Prying from the Custom-house;
Trunks unpacking,
Cases cracking,
Not a corner for a mouse
Scapes unsearch’d amid the racket,
Ere we sail on board the Packet.
Now our boatmen quit their mooring,
And all hands must ply the oar;
Baggage from the quay is lowering,
We’re impatient—push from shore.
‘Have a care! that case holds liquor.—
‘Stop the boat—I’m sink—oh Lord!’
‘Sick, ma’am, damme, you’ll be sicker
‘Ere you’ve been an hour on board.’
Thus are screaming
Men and women,
Gemmen, ladies, servants, Jacks;
Here entangling,
All are wrangling,
Stuck together close as wax.—
Such the general noise and racket,
Ere we reach the Lisbon Packet.
Now we’ve reach’d her, lo! the captain,
Gallant Kidd, commands the crew;
Passengers their births are clapt in,
Some to grumble, some to spew.
‘Hey day! call you that a cabin?
Why ’tis hardly three feet square;
Not enough to stow Queen Mab in—
Who the deuce can harbour there?’
‘Who, sir? plenty—
Nobles twenty
Did at once my vessel fill’—
192 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
‘Did they? Jesus,
How you squeeze us!
Would to God they did so still:
Then I’d scape the heat and racket
Of the good ship, Lisbon Packet.’
Fletcher! Murray! Bob! where are you?
Stretch’d along the deck like logs—
Bear a hand, you jolly tar, you!
Here’s a rope’s end for the dogs.
H * * muttering fearful curses,
As the hatchway down he rolls;
Now his breakfast, now his verses,
Vomits forth—and damns our souls.
‘Here’s a stanza
On Braganza—
Help!’—‘A couplet?’—‘No, a cup
Of warm water—’
‘What’s the matter?’
‘Zounds! my liver’s coming up;
I shall not survive the racket
Of this brutal Lisbon Packet.’
“Now at length we’re off for Turkey,
Lord knows when we shall come back!
Breezes foul and tempests murky
May unship us in a crack.
But, since life at most a jest is,
As philosophers allow,
Still to laugh by far the best is,
Then laugh on—as I do now.
Laugh at all things,
Great and small things,
Sick or well, at sea or shore;
While we’re quaffing,
Let’s have laughing—
Who the devil cares for more?—
Some good wine! and who would lack it,
Ev’n on board the Lisbon Packet?
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 193

On the 2d of July the packet sailed from Falmouth, and, after a favourable passage of four days and a half, the voyagers reached Lisbon, and took up their abode in that city*.

The following letters, from Lord Byron to his friend Mr. Hodgson, though written in his most light and schoolboy strain, will give some idea of the first impressions that his residence in Lisbon made upon him. Such letters, too, contrasted with the noble stanzas on Portugal in “Childe Harold,” will show how various were the moods of his versatile mind, and what different aspects it could take when in repose or on the wing.

“Lisbon, July 16th, 1809.

“Thus far have we pursued our route, and seen all sorts of marvellous sights, palaces, convents, &c.—which, being to be heard in my friend Hobhouse’s forthcoming Book of Travels, I shall not anticipate by smuggling any account whatsoever to you in a private and clandestine manner. I must just observe that the village of Cintra in Estremadura is the most beautiful, perhaps, in the world. * * *

“I am very happy here because I loves oranges, and talk bad Latin to the monks, who understand it, as it is like their own,—and I goes

* Lord Byron used sometimes to mention a strange story, which the commander of the packet, Captain Kidd, related to him on the passage. This officer stated that, being asleep, one night, in his birth, he was awakened by the pressure of something heavy on his limbs, and, there being a faint light in the room, could see, as he thought, distinctly, the figure of his brother, who was, at that time, in the naval service in the East Indies, dressed in his uniform and stretched across the bed. Concluding it to be an illusion of the senses, he shut his eyes and made an effort to sleep. But still the same pressure continued, and still, as often as he ventured to take another look, he saw the figure lying across him in the same position. To add to the wonder, on putting his hand forth to touch this form, he found the uniform, in which it appeared to be dressed, dripping wet. On the entrance of one of his brother officers, to whom he called out in alarm, the apparition vanished; but in a few months after, he received the startling intelligence that on that night his brother had been drowned in the Indian seas. Of the supernatural character of this appearance, Captain Kidd himself did not appear to have the slightest doubt.

194 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
into society (with my pocket-pistols), and I swims in the Tagus all across at once, and I rides on an ass or a mule, and swears Portuguese, and have got a diarrhoea and bites from the mosquitoes. But what of that? Comfort must not be expected by folks that go a pleasuring. * * *

“When the Portuguese are pertinacious, I say, ‘Carracho!’—the great oath of the grandees, that very well supplies the place of ‘Damme,’—and, when dissatisfied with my neighbour, I pronounce him ‘Ambra di merdo.’ With these two phrases, and a third, ‘Avra Bouro,’ which signifieth ‘Get an ass,’ I am universally understood to be a person of degree and a master of languages. How merrily we lives that travellers be!—if we had food and raiment. But, in sober sadness, any thing is better than England, and I am infinitely amused with my pilgrimage as far as it has gone.

“To-morrow we start to ride post near 400 miles as far as Gibraltar, where we embark for Melita and Byzantium. A letter to Malta will find me, or to be forwarded, if I am absent. Pray embrace the Drury and Dwyer and all the Ephesians you encounter. I am writing with Butler’s donative pencil, which makes my bad hand worse. Excuse illegibility. * * *

Hodgson! send me the news, and the deaths and defeats and capital crimes and the misfortunes of one’s friends; and let us hear of literary matters, and the controversies and the criticisms. All this will be pleasant—‘Suave mari magno,’ &c. Talking of that, I have been seasick, and sick of the sea. Adieu. Yours faithfully, &c’

“Gibraltar, August 6, 1809.

“I have just arrived at this place after a journey through Portugal, and a part of Spain, of nearly 500 miles. We left Lisbon and travelled on horseback to Seville and Cadiz, and thence in the Hyperion frigate to Gibraltar. The horses are excellent—we rode seventy miles a day.

* The baggage and part of the servants were sent by sea to Gibraltar.

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 195
Eggs and wine and hard beds are all the accommodation we found, and, in such torrid weather, quite enough. My health is better than in England. * * *

“Seville is a fine town, and the Sierra Morena, part of which we crossed, a very sufficient mountain,—but damn description, it is always disgusting. Cadiz, sweet Cadiz!—it is the first spot in the creation. * * * The beauty of its streets and mansions is only excelled by the loveliness of its inhabitants. For, with all national prejudice, I must confess the women of Cadiz are as far superior to the English women in beauty as the Spaniards are inferior to the English in every quality that dignifies the name of man. * * * Just as I began to know the principal persons of the city, I was obliged to sail.

“You will not expect a long letter after my riding so far ‘on hollow pampered jades of Asia.’ Talking of Asia puts me in mind of Africa, which is within five miles of my present residence. I am going over before I go on to Constantinople.

“ * * * Cadiz is a complete Cythera. Many of the grandees who have left Madrid during the troubles reside there, and I do believe it is the prettiest and cleanest town in Europe. London is filthy in the comparison. * * * The Spanish women are all alike, their education the same. The wife of a duke is, in information, as the wife of a peasant,—the wife of a peasant, in manner, equal to a duchess. Certainly, they are fascinating; but their minds have only one idea, and the business of their lives is intrigue. * * *

“I have seen Sir John Carr at Seville and Cadiz, and, like Swift’s barber, have been down on my knees to beg he would not put me into black and white. Pray remember me to the Drurys and the Davies, and all of that stamp who are yet extant*. Send me a letter and news to Malta. My next epistle shall be from Mount Caucasus or Mount

* “This sort of passage,” says Mr. Hodgson, in a note on his copy of this letter, “constantly occurs in his correspondence. Nor was his interest confined to mere remembrances and inquiries after health. Were it possible to state all he has done for numerous friends, he would appear amiable indeed. For myself, I am bound to acknowledge, in the fullest and warmest manner, his most generous and well-timed aid; and, were my poor friend Bland alive, he would as gladly bear the like testimony;—though I have most reason, of all men, to do so.”

196 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
Sion. I shall return to Spain before I see England, for I am enamoured of the country. Adieu, and believe me, &c.”

In a letter to Mrs. Byron, dated a few days later, from Gibraltar, he recapitulates the same account of his progress, only dwelling rather more diffusely on some of the details. Thus, of Cintra and Mafra,—“To make amends for this*, the village of Cintra, about fifteen miles from the capital, is, perhaps in every respect, the most delightful in Europe; it contains beauties of every description, natural and artificial. Palaces and gardens rising in the midst of rocks, cataracts, and precipices; convents on stupendous heights—a distant view of the sea and the Tagus; and, besides (though that is a secondary consideration), is remarkable as the scene of Sir H. D.’s Convention†. It unites in itself all the wildness of the western highlands, with the verdure of the south of France. Near this place, about ten miles to the right, is the palace of Mafra, the boast of Portugal, as it might be of any country, in point of magnificence without elegance. There is a convent annexed; the monks, who possess large revenues, are courteous enough, and understand Latin, so that we had a long conversation: they nave a large library, and asked me if the English had any books in their country.”

An adventure which he met with at Seville, characteristic both of the country and of himself, is thus described in the same letter to Mrs. Byron:—

“We lodged in the house of two Spanish unmarried ladies, who possess six houses in Seville, and gave me a curious specimen of Spanish manners. They are women of character, and the eldest a fine woman, the youngest pretty, but not so good a figure as Donna Josepha. The freedom of manner, which is general here, astonished me not a little; and in the course of further observation I find that reserve is not the characteristic of the Spanish belles, who are, in general, very handsome,

* The filthiness of Lisbon and its inhabitants.

Colonel Napier, in a note in his able History of the Peninsular War, notices the mistake into which Lord Byron and others were led on this subject;—the signature of the Convention, as well as all the other proceedings connected with it, having taken place at a distance of thirty miles from Cintra.

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 197
with large black eyes, and very fine forms. The eldest honoured your unworthy son with very particular attention, embracing him with great tenderness at parting (I was there but three days), after cutting off a lock of his hair, and presenting him with one of her own, about three feet in length, which I send, and beg you will retain till my return. Her last words were, ’Adios, tu hermoso! me gusto mucho.’—‘Adieu, you pretty fellow, you please me much.’ She offered a share of her apartment, which my virtue induced me to decline; she laughed and said I had some English ‘amante’ (lover), and added that she was going to be married to an officer in the Spanish army.”

Among the beauties of Cadiz, his imagination, dazzled by the attractions of the many, was on the point, it would appear from the following, of being fixed by one:

“Cadiz, sweet Cadiz, is the most delightful town I ever beheld, very different from our English cities in every respect, except cleanliness (and it is as clean as London), but still beautiful and full of the finest women in Spain, the Cadiz belles being the Lancashire witches of their land. Just as I was introduced and began to like the grandees, I was forced to leave it for this cursed place; but before I return to England I will visit it again.

“The night before I left it, I sat in the box at the Opera with Admiral * * *’s family, an aged wife and a fine daughter, Sennorita * * *. The girl is very pretty, in the Spanish style; in my opinion, by no means inferior to the English in charms, and certainly superior in fascination. Long, black hair, dark languishing eyes, clear olive complexions, and forms more graceful in motion than can be conceived by an Englishman used to the drowsy, listless air of his countrywomen, added to the most becoming dress, and, at the same time, the most decent in the world, render a Spanish beauty irresistible.

“Miss * * * and her little brother understood a little French, and, after regretting my ignorance of the Spanish, she proposed to become my preceptress in that language. I could only reply, by a low bow, and express my regret that I quitted Cadiz too soon to permit me to make the progress which would doubtless attend my studies under so charming a directress. I was standing at the back of the box, which resembles our Opera boxes (the theatre is large, and finely decorated, the music ad-
198 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
mirable), in the manner in which Englishmen generally adopt, for fear of incommoding the ladies in front, when this fair Spaniard dispossessed an old woman (an aunt or a duenna) of her chair, and commanded me to be seated next herself, at a tolerable distance from her mamma. At the close of the performance I withdrew, and was lounging with a party of men in the passage, when, en passant, the lady turned round and called me, and I had the honour of attending her to the admiral’s mansion. I have an invitation on my return to Cadiz which I shall accept, if I repass through the country on my return from Asia.”

To these adventures, or rather glimpses of adventures, which he met with in his hasty passage through Spain, he adverted, I recollect, briefly, in the early part of his “Memoranda;” and it was the younger, I think, of his fair hostesses at Seville, whom he there described himself as having made earnest love to, with the help of a dictionary. “For some time,” he said, “I went on prosperously both as a linguist and a lover, till, at length, the lady took a fancy to a ring which I wore, and set her heart on my giving it to her, as a pledge of my sincerity. This, however, could not be;—any thing but the ring, I declared, was at her service, and much more than its value,—but the ring itself I had made a vow never to give away.” The young Spaniard grew angry as the contention went on, and it was not long before the lover became angry also; till, at length, the affair ended by their separating unsuccessful on both sides. “Soon after this,” said he, “I sailed for Malta, and there parted with both my heart and ring.”

In the letter from Gibraltar, just cited, he adds—“I am going over to Africa to-morrow; it is only six miles from this fortress. My next stage is Cagliari in Sardinia, where I shall be presented to his majesty. I have a most superb uniform as a court-dress, indispensable in travelling.” His plan of visiting Africa was, however, relinquished. After a short stay at Gibraltar, during which he dined one day with Lady Westmoreland, and another with General Castanos, he, on the 19th of

* We find an allusion to this incident in Don Juan:—

“’Tis pleasing to be school’d in a strange tongue
By female lips and eyes—that is, I mean,
When both the teacher and the taught are young,
As was the case, at least, where I have been.” &c, &c,

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 199
August, took his departure for Malta in the packet, having first sent
Joe Murray and young Rushton back to England,—the latter being unable, from ill health, to accompany him any further. “Pray,” he says to his mother, “show the lad every kindness, as he is my great favourite*.”

He also wrote a letter to the father of the boy, which gives so favourable an impression of his thoughtfulness and. kindliness that I have much pleasure in being enabled to introduce it here.

“Gibraltar, August 15th, 1809.

“I have sent Robert home with Mr. Murray, because the country which I am about to travel through is in a state which renders it unsafe, particularly for one so young. I allow you to deduct five-and-twenty pounds a year for his education for three years, provided I do not return before that time, and I desire he may be considered as in my service. Let every care be taken of him, and let him be sent to school. In case of my death I have provided enough in my will to render him independent. He has behaved extremely well, and has travelled a great deal for the time of his absence. Deduct the expense of his education from your rent.


It was the fate of Lord Byron, throughout life, to meet, wherever he went, with persons who, by some tinge of the extraordinary in their own fates or characters, were prepared to enter, at once, to full sympathy with his; and to this attraction, by which he him all strange and eccentric spirits, he owed some of the most agreeable connexions of his life, as well as some of the most troublesome. Of the

* The postscript to this letter is as follows:—

“P.S. So Lord G. is married to a rustic! Well done! If I wed, I will bring you home a Sultana, with half a dozen cities for dowry, and reconcile you to an Ottoman daughter-in-law with a bushel of pearls, not larger than ostrich eggs, or smaller than walnuts.”

200 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
former description was an intimacy which he now cultivated during his short sojourn at Malta. The lady with whom he formed this acquaintance was the same addressed by him under the name of “
Florence” in Childe Harold, and in a letter to his mother from Malta, he thus describes her in prose:—“This letter is committed to the charge of a very extraordinary woman, whom you have doubtless heard of, Mrs. S* S*, of whose escape the Marquis de Salvo published a narrative a few years ago. She has since been shipwrecked, and her life has been from its commencement so fertile in remarkable incidents, that in a romance they would appear improbable. She was born at Constantinople, where her father, Baron H*, was Austrian ambassador; married unhappily, yet has never been impeached in point of character; excited the vengeance of Buonaparte by a part in some conspiracy; several times risked her life; and is not yet twenty-five. She is here on her way to England, to join her husband, being obliged to leave Trieste, where she was paying a visit to her mother, by the approach of the French, and embarks soon in a ship of war. Since my arrival here, I have had scarcely any other companion. I have found her very pretty, very accomplished, and extremely eccentric. Buonaparte is even now so incensed against her, that her life would be in some danger if she were taken prisoner a second time.”

The tone in which he addresses this fair heroine in Childe Harold is (consistently with the above dispassionate account of her) that of the purest admiration and interest, unwarmed by any more ardent sentiment:—

“Sweet Florence! could another ever share
This wayward, loveless heart, it would be thine:
But, check’d by every tie, I may not dare
To cast a worthless offering at thy shrine,
Nor ask so dear a breast to feel one pang for mine.
“Thus Harold deem’d, as on that lady’s eye
He look’d, and met its beam without a thought,
Save admiration, glancing harmless by,” &c. &c.

In one so imaginative as Lord Byron, who, while he infused so much of his life into his poetry, mingled also not a little of poetry with
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 201
his life, it is difficult, in unravelling the texture of his feelings, to distinguish at all times between the fanciful and the real. His description here, for instance, of the unmoved and “loveless heart,” with which he contemplated even the charms of this attractive person, is wholly at variance, not only with the anecdote from his “
Memoranda” which I have recalled, but with the statements in many of his subsequent letters, and, above all, with one of the most graceful of his lesser poems, purporting to be addressed to this same lady during a thunderstorm on his road to Zitza*.

Notwithstanding, however, these counter evidences, I am much disposed to believe that the representation of the state of his heart in the foregoing extract from Childe Harold may be regarded as the true one; and that the notion of his being in love was but a dream that sprung up afterwards, when the image of the fair Florence had become idealized in his fancy, and every remembrance of their pleasant hours among “Calypso’s isles” came invested by his imagination with the warm aspect of love. It will be recollected that to the chilled and sated feelings which early indulgence, and almost as early disenchantment, had left behind, he attributes in these verses the calm and passionless regard, with which even attractions like those of Florence were viewed by him. That such was actually ins distaste, at this period, to all real objects of love or passion (however his fancy could call up creatures of its own to worship)

* The following stanzas from this little poem have a music in them, which, independently of all meaning, is enchanting:—

“And since I now remember thee
In darkness and in dread,
As in those hours of revelry,
Which mirth and music sped;
“Do thou, amidst the fair white walls,
If Cadiz yet be free,
At times, from out her latticed halls,
Look o’er the dark blue sea;
“Then think upon Calypso’s tales,
Endear’d by days gone by;
To others give a thousand smiles,
To me a single sigh, &c. &c.

202 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
there is every reason to believe; and the same morbid indifference to those pleasures he had once so ardently pursued still continued to be professed by him on his return to England. No anchoret, indeed, could claim for himself much more apathy towards all such allurements than he did at that period. But to be thus saved from temptation was a dear-bought safety, and, at the age of three-and-twenty, satiety and disgust are but melancholy substitutes for virtue.

While at Malta, in consequence of some trifling misunderstanding, he was on the point of fighting a duel with an officer of the Staff of General Oakes. To this circumstance we shall find him, in some of his subsequent letters, alluding; and I have more than once heard the gentleman who acted as his adviser on the occasions speak of the cool and manly courage with which he conducted himself through the whole affair. The meeting being appointed for a very early hour in the morning, his companion had to awake him from a sound sleep; but, on their arrival at the place of rendezvous on the sea-shore, the adverse party, from some mistake in the arrangements, was not forthcoming. Though their baggage was already on board the brig that was to convey them to Albania, Lord Byron determined to give his antagonist the chances of, at least, another hour, and for nearly that space of time his friend and he sauntered about the shore. At length an officer, deputed by his expected adversary, arrived, and not only accounted satisfactorily for the delay that had taken place, but made every other explanation, with respect to the supposed offence, that the two friends could require.

The brig of war, in which they sailed, having been ordered to convoy a fleet of small merchantmen to Patras and Prevesa, they remained, for two or three days, at anchor off the former place From thence, proceeding to their ultimate destination, and catching a sunset view of Missolonghi in their way, they landed on the 29th of September, at Prevesa.

The route which Lord Byron now took through Albania, as well as those subsequent journeys through other parts of Turkey, which he performed in company with his friend Mr. Hobhouse, may be traced, by such as are desirous of details on the subject, in the account which the latter gentleman has given of his travels;—an account which, interesting from
A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 203
its own excellence in every merit that should adorn such a work, becomes still more so from the feeling that Lord Byron is, as it were, present through its pages, and that we there follow his first youthful footsteps into the land, with whose name he has intertwined his own for ever. As I am enabled, however, by the letters of the noble poet to his mother, as well as by others, still more curious, which are now for the first time published, to give his own rapid and lively sketches of his wanderings, I shall content myself, after this general reference to the volume of Mr. Hobhouse, with such occasional extracts from its pages as may throw light upon the letters of his friend.

“Prevesa, November 12, 1809.

“I have now been some time in Turkey: this place is on the coast, but I have traversed the interior of the province of Albania o a visit to the Pacha. I left Malta in the Spider, a brig of war, on the 21st of September, and arrived in eight days at Prevesa. I thence have been about 150 miles, as far as Tepaleen, his highness’s country palace, where I stayed three days. The name of the Pacha is Ali, and he is considered a man of the first abilities: he governs the whole of Albania (the ancient Illyricum), Epirus, and part of Macedonia. His son, Vely Pacha, to whom he has given me letters, governs the Morea, and has great influence in Egypt; in short he is one of the most powerful wen in the Ottoman empire. When I reached Yanina, the capital, after a journey of three days over the mountains, through a country of the most picturesque beauty, I found that Ali Pacha was with his army in Illyricum, besieging Ibrahim Pacha in the castle of Peret. He had heard that an Englishman of rank was in his dominions, and had left orders in Yanina with the commandant to provide a house, and supply me with every kind of necessary gratis: and, though I have been allowed to make presents to the slaves, &c. I have rot beer permitted to pay for a single article of household consumption.

“I rode out on the vizier’s horses, and saw the palaces of himself
204 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
and grandsons: they are splendid, but too much ornamented with silk and gold. I then went over the mountains through Zitza, a village with a Greek monastery (where I slept on my return), in the most beautiful situation (always excepting Cintra, in Portugal) I ever beheld. In nine days I reached Tepaleen. Our journey was much prolonged by the torrents that had fallen from the mountains, and intersected the roads. I shall never forget the singular scene* on entering Tepaleen at five in

* The following is Mr. Hobhouse’s less embellished description of this scene:—“The court at Tepellene, which was enclosed on two sides by the palace, and on the other two sides by a high wall, presented us, at our first entrance, with a sight something like what we might have, perhaps, beheld some hundred years ago in the castle-yard of a great feudal lord. Soldiers, with their arms piled against the wall near them) were assembled in different parts of the square: some of them pacing slowly backwards and forwards, and others sitting on the ground in groups. Several horses, completely caparisoned, were leading about, whilst others were neighing under the hands of the grooms. In the Dart farthest from the dwelling, preparations were making for the feast of the night; and several kids and sheep were being dressed by cooks who were themselves half armed. Every thing wore a most martial look, though not exactly in the style of the head-quarters of a christian general; for many of the soldiers were in the most common dress, without shoes, and having more wildness in their air and manner than the Albanians we had before seen.”

On comparing this description, which is itself sufficiently striking, with those which Lord Byron has given of the same scene, both in the letter to his mother, and in the Second Canto of Childe Harold, we gain some insight into the process by which imagination elevates, without falsifying, reality, and facts become brightened and refined into poetry. Ascending from the representation drawn faithfully on the spot by the traveller, to the more fanciful arrangement of the same materials in the letter of the poet, we at length, by one step more, arrive at that consummate, idealized picture, the result of both memory and invention combined, which in the following splendid stanzas it presented to us;

“Amidst no common pomp the despot sate,
While busy preparation shook the court,
Slaves, eunuchs, soldiers, guests, and santons wait;
Within, a palace, and without, a fort:
Here men of every clime appear to make resort.
“Richly caparison’d a ready row
Of armed horse, and many a warlike store,
Circled the wide extending court below;
Above, strange groups adorn’d the corridore;
And oft-times through the area’s echoing door
Some high-capp’d Tartar spurr’d his steed sway:
The Turk, the Greek, the Albanian, and the Moor,
Here mingled in their many-hued array,
While the deep war-drum’s sound announced the close of day.

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 205
the afternoon, as the sun was going down. It brought to my mind (with some change of dress, however)
Scott’s description of Branksome Castle in his Lay, and the feudal system. The Albanians, in their dresses (the most magnificent in the world, consisting of a long white kilt, gold-worked cloak, crimson velvet gold-laced jacket and waistcoat, silver-mounted pistols and daggers), the Tartars with their high caps, the Turks in their vast pelisses and turbans, the soldiers and black slaves with the horses, the former in groups in an immense large open gallery in front of the palace, the latter placed in a kind of cloister below it, two hundred steeds ready caparisoned to move in a moment, couriers entering or passing out with despatches, the kettle-drums beating, boys calling the hour from the minaret of the mosque, altogether, with the singular appearance of the building itself, formed a new and delightful spectacle to a stranger. I was conducted to a very handsome apartment, and my health inquired after by the vizier’s secretary, à-la-mode Turque!’

“The next day I was introduced to Ali Pacha. I was dressed in a full suit of staff uniform, with a very magnificent sabre, &c. The vizier received me in a large room paved, with marble; a fountain was playing in the centre; the apartment was surrounded by scarlet ottomans. He received me standing, a wonderful compliment from a Mussulman, and

“The wild Albanian kirtled so his knee,
With shawl-girt head and ornamented gun,
And gold-embroider’d garments, fair to see;
The crimson-scarfed men of Macedon;
The Delhi with his cap of terror on,
And crooked glaive; the lively, supple Greek;
And swarthy Nubia’s mutilated son;
The bearded Turk that rarely deigns to speak,
Master of all around, too potent to be meek,
“Are mix’d conspicuous; some reclining in groups,
Scanning the motley scene that varies round;
There some grave Moslem to devotion stoops,
And some that smoke, end some the. play, are found;
Here the Albanian proudly treads the ground;
Half whispering there the Greek is heard to prate;
Hark! from the mosque the nightly solemn sound,
The Muezin’s rati doth shake the minaret,
There is no god but God!—to prayer—lo! God is great!’”

206 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
made me sit down on his right hard. I have a Greek interpreter for general use, but a physician of Ali’s, named Femlario, who understands Latin, acted for me on this occasion. His first question was, why, at so early an age, I left my country?—(the Turks have no idea of travelling for amusement). He then said, the English minister,
Captain Leake, had told him I was of a great family, and desired his respects to my mother; which I now, in the name of All Pacha, present to you. He said he was certain I was a man of birth, because I had small ears, curling hair, and little white hands*, and expressed himself pleased with my appearance and garb. He told me to consider him as a father whilst I was in Turkey, and said he looked on me as his son. Indeed, he treated me like a child, sending me almonds and sugared sherbet, fruit and sweetmeats, twenty times a day. He begged me to visit him often, and at night, when he was at leisure. I then, after coffee and pipes, retired for the first time. I saw him thrice afterwards. It is singular, that the Turks, who have no hereditary dignities, and few great families, except the Sultans, pay so much respect to birth; for I found my pedigree more regarded them my title†.

* * * *

“To-day I saw the remains of the town of Actium, near which Antony lost the world, in a small bay, where two frigates could hardly manœeuvre: a broken wall is the sole remnant. On another part of the gulf stand the ruins of Nicopolis, built by Augustus in honour of his victory. Last night I was a Greek marriage; but this and a thousand things more I have neither time nor space to describe.

“I am going to-morrow, with a guard of fifty men, to Patras in the Morea, and thence to Athens, where I shall Winter. Two days ago I was

* In the shape of the hands, as a mark of high birth, Lord Byron himself had as implicit faith as the Pacha; see his note on the line, “Though on more thorough-bred or fairer fingers,” in Don Juan.

† A few sentences are here and elsewhere omitted, as having no reference to Lord Byron himself, but merely containing some particulars relating to Ali and his grandsons, which may be found in various books of travels.

Ali had not forgotten his noble guest when Dr. Holland, a few years after, visited Albania:—“I mentioned to him, generally (says this intelligent traveller), Lord Byron’s poetical description of Albania, the interest it had excited in England, and Mr. Hobhouse’s intended publication of his travels in the same country. He seemed pleased with these circumstances, and stated his recollections of Lord Byron.”

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 207
nearly lost in a Turkish ship of war, owing to the ignorance of the captain and crew, though the storm was not violent.
Fletcher yelled after his wife, the Greeks called on all the saints, the Mussulmans on Alla; the captain burst into tears and ran below deck, telling us to call on God; the sails were split, the main-yard shivered, the wind blowing fresh, the night setting in, and all our chance was to make Corfu, which is in possession of the French, or (as Fletcher pathetically termed it) ‘a watery grave.’ I did what I could to console Fletcher, but finding him incorrigible, wrapped myself up in my Albanian capote (an immense cloak), and lay down on deck to wait the worst*. I have learnt to philosophize in my travels, and if I had not, complaint was useless. Luckily the wind abated, and only drove us on the coast of Suli, on the main land, where we landed, and proceeded, by the help of the natives, to Prevesa again; but I shall not trust Turkish sailors in future, though the Pacha had ordered one of his own galliots to take me to Patras. I am therefore going as far as Missolonghi by land, and there have only to cross a small gulf to get to Patras.

Fletcher’s next epistle will be full of marvels: we were one night lost for nine hours in the mountains in a thunder-storm†, and since nearly wrecked. In both cases, Fletcher was sorely bewildered, from appre-

* I have heard the poet’s fellow traveller describe this remarkable instance of his coolness and courage even still more strikingly than it is here stated by himself. Finding that, from his lameness, he was unable to be of any service in the exertions which their very serious danger called for, after a laugh or two at the panic of his valet, he not only wrapped himself up and lay down, in the manner he mentioned, but, when their difficulties were surmounted, was found fast asleep.

† In the route from Ioannina to Zitza, Mr. Hobhouse and the Secretary of Ali, accompanied by one of the servants, had rode on before the rest of the party, and arrived at the village just as the evening set in. After describing the sort of hovel in which they were to take up their quarters for the night, Mr. Hobhouse thus continues:—“Vasilly was despatched into the village to procure eggs and fowls, that would be ready, as we thought, by the arrival of the second party. But an hour passed away and no one appeared. It was seven o’clock, and the storm had increased to a fury I had never before, and, indeed, have never since, seen equalled. The roof of our hovel shook under the clattering torrents and gusts of wind. The thunder roared, as it seemed, without any intermission; for the echoes of one peal had not ceased to roll in the mountains, before another tremendous crush burst over our heads; whilst the plains and the distant hills (visible through the cracks of the cabin) appeared in a perpetual blaze. The tempest was altogether terrific and worthy of the Grecian Jove; and the peasants, no less

208 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
hensions of famine and banditti in the first, and drowning in the second instance. His eyes were a little hurt by the lightning, or crying (I don’t know which), but are now recovered. When you write, address to me at
Mr. Strané’s, English consul, Patras, Morea.

“I could tell you I know not how many incidents that I think would amuse you, but they crowd on my mind as much as they would swell my paper, and I can neither arrange them in the one, nor put them down on the other, except in the greatest confusion. I like the Albanians much; they are not all Turks; some tribes are Christians. But their religion makes little difference in their manner or conduct. They are esteemed the best troops in the Turkish service. I lived on my route

religious than their Ancestors, confessed their alarm. The women wept, and the men, calling on the name of God, crossed themselves at every repeated peal.

“We were very uneasy that the party did not arrive; but the Secretary assured me that the guides knew every part of the country, as did also his own servant, who was with them, and that they had certainly taken shelter in a village at an hour’s distance. Not being satisfied with the conjecture, I ordered fires to be lighted on the hill above the village, and some musquets to be discharged: this was at eleven o’clock, and the storm had not abated. I lay down in my greet coat; but all sleeping was out of the question, as any pauses in the tempest were filled up by the barking of the dogs, end the shouting of the shepherds in the neighbouring mountains.

“A little after midnight, a man, panting and pale, and drenched with rain, rushed into the room, and, between crying and roaring, with a profusion of action, communicated something to the Secretary, of which I understood only—that they had all fallen down. I learnt, however, that no accident had happened, except the falling of the luggage horses, and losing their way, and that they were now waiting for fresh horses and guides. Ten were immediately sent to them, together with several men with pine torches; but it was not till two o’clock in the morning that we heard they were approaching, and my Friend, with the priest and the servants, did not enter our hut before three.

“I now learnt from him that they had lost their way from the commencement of the storm, when not above three miles from the village; and that, after wandering up and down in total ignorance of their position, they had, at last, stopped near some Turkish tombstones and a torrent which they saw by the flashes of lightning. They had been thus exposed for nine hours; and the guides, so far from assisting them, only augmented the confusion, by running away, after being threatened with death by George the Dragoman, who, in an agony of rage and fear, and without giving any warning, fired off both his pistols, and drew from the English servant an involuntary scream of horror; for he fancied they were beset by robbers.

“I had not, as you have seen, witnessed the distressing part of this adventure myself; but from the lively picture drawn of it by my Friend, and from the exaggerated descriptions of George, I fancied myself a good judge of the whole situation, and should consider this to have been one of the most considerable of the few adventures that befel either of us during our tour in Turkey. It was long before we ceased to talk of the thunder-storm in the plain of Zitza.”

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 209
two days at once, and three days again, in a barrack at Salora, and never found soldiers so tolerable, though I have been in the garrisons of Gibraltar and Malta, and seen Spanish, French, Sicilian, and British troops in abundance. I have had nothing stolen, and was always welcome to their provision and milk. Not a week ago an Albanian chief (every village has its chief, who is called Primate), after helping us out of the Turkish galley in her distress, feeding us, and lodging my suite, consisting of
Fletcher, a Greek, two Athenians, a Greek priest, and my companion, Mr. Hobhouse, refused any compensation but a written paper stating that I was well received; and when I pressed urn to accept a few sequins, ‘No,’ he replied; ‘I wish you to love me, not to pay me.’ These are his words.

“It is astonishing how far money goes in this country. While I was in the capital, I had nothing to pay, by the vizier’s order; but since, though I have generally had sixteen horses, and generally six or seven men, the expense has not been half as much as staying only three weeks in Malta, though Sir A. Ball, the governor, gave me a house for nothing, and I had only one servant. By the by, I expect H * * to remit regularly; for I am not about to stay in this province for ever. Let him write to me at Mr. Strané’s, English consul, Patras. The fact is, the fertility of the plains is wonderful, and specie is scarce, which makes this remarkable cheapness. I am going to Athens to study modern Greek, which differs much from the ancient, though radically similar. I have no desire to return to England, nor shall I unless compelled by absolute want, and H * *’s neglect; but I shall not enter into Asia for a year or two, as I have much to see in Greece, and I may perhaps cross into Africa, at least the Egyptian part. Fletcher, like all Englishmen, is very much dissatisfied, though a little reconciled to the Turks by a present of eighty piastres from the vizier, which, if you consider every thing, and the value of specie here, is nearly worth ten guineas English. He has suffered nothing but from cold, heat, and vermin, which those who lie in cottages and cross mountains in a cold country must undergo, and of which I have equally partaken with himself, but he is not valiant, and is afraid of robbers and tempests. I have no one to be remembered
210 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
to in England, and wish to hear nothing from it, but that you are well, and a letter or two on business from H * *, whom you may tell to write. I will write when I can, and beg you to believe me

“Your affectionate son,

About the middle of November, the young traveller took his departure from Prevesa (the place where the foregoing letter was written), and proceeded, attended by his guard of fifty Albanians*, through Acarnania and Ætolia, towards the Morea.

“And therefore did he take a trusty band
To traverse Acarnania’s forest wide,
In war well season’d, and with labours tann’d,
Till he did greet white Achelous’ tide,
And from his further bank Ætolia’s wolds espied.”

His description of the night-scene at Utraikey (a small place situated in one of the bays of the Gulf of Arta) is, no doubt, vividly in the recollection of every reader of these pages; nor will it diminish their enjoyment of the wild beauties of that picture to be made acquainted with the real circumstances on which it was founded, in the following animated details of the same scene by his fellow-traveller:—

“In the evening the gates were secured, and preparations were made for feeding our Albanians. A goat was killed and roasted whole, and four fires were kindled in the yard, round which the soldiers seated themselves in parties. After eating and drinking, the greater part of them assembled round the largest of the fires, and whilst ourselves and the elders of the party were seated on the ground, danced round the blaze to their own songs, in the manner before described, but with n astonishing energy. All their songs were relations of some robbing exploits. One of them, which detained them more than an hour, began

* Mr. Hobhouse, I think, makes number of this guard but thirty-seven, and Lord Byron, in a subsequent letter, rates them at forty.

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 211
thus—‘When we set out from Parga there were sixty of us:’—then came the burden of the verse,
‘Robbers all at Parga
Robbers all at Parga!’
‘Κλεϕτεις ποτε Παργα!
Κλεϕτεις ποτε Παργα!’
And as they roared out this stave they whirled round the fire, dropped and rebounded from their knees, and again whirled round as the chorus was again repeated. The rippling of the waves upon the pebbly margin where we were seated filled up the pauses of the song with a milder and not more monotonous music. The night was very dark, but by the flashes of the fires we caught a glimpse of the woods, the rocks, and the lake, which, together with the wild appearance of the dancers, presented us with a scene that would have made a fine picture in the hands of such an artist as the author of the
Mysteries of Udolpho.”

Having traversed Acarnania, the travellers passed to the Ætolian side of the Achelous, and on the 21st of November reached Missolonghi. And here,—it is impossible not to pause, and send a mournful thought forward to the visit which, fifteen years after, he paid to this same spot,—when, in the full meridian both of his age and fame, he came to lay down his life as the champion of that land, through which he now wandered a stripling and a stranger. Could some spirit have here revealed to him the events of that interval,—have shown him, on the one side, the triumphs that awaited him, the power his varied genius would acquire over all hearts, alike to elevate or depress, to darken or illuminate them,—and then place, on the other side, all the penalties of this gift, the waste and wear of the heart through the imagination, the havoc of that perpetual fire within, which, while it dazzles others, consumes the possessor,—the invidiousness of such an elevation in the eyes of mankind, and the revenge they take on him who compels them to look up to it,—would he, it may be asked, have welcomed glory on such conditions? would he not rather have felt that the purchase was too costly, and that such warfare with an ungrateful world, while living,
212 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1809.
would be ill recompensed even by the immortality it might award him afterwards?

At Missolonghi he dismissed his whole band of Albanians, with the exception of one, named Dervish, whom he took into his service, and who, with Basilius, the attendant allotted him by Ali Pacha, continued with him during the remainder of his stay in the East. After a residence of near a fortnight at Patras, he next directed his course to Vostizza,—on approaching which town the snowy peak of Parnassus, towering on the other side of the Gulf, first broke on his eyes; and, in two days after, among the sacred hollows of Delphi, the stanzas, with which that vision had inspired him, were written*.

It was at this time that, in riding along the sides of Parnassus, he saw an unusually large flight of eagles in the air—a phenomenon which seems to have affected his imagination with a sort of poetical superstition, as he, more than once, recurs to the circumstance in his journals. Thus, “Going to the fountain of Delphi (Castri) in 1809, I saw a flight of twelve eagles (H. says they were vultures—at least, in conversation), and I seized the omen. On the day before, I composed the lines to Parnassus (in Childe Harold), and, on beholding the birds, had a hope that Apollo had accepted my homage. I have at least had the name and fame of a poet during the poetical part of life (from twenty to thirty);—whether it will last is another matter.”

He has also, in reference to this journey from Patras, related a little anecdote of his own sportsmanship, which, by all but sportsmen, will be thought creditable to his humanity. “The last bird I ever fired at was an eaglet, on the shore of the Gulf of Lepanto, near Vostizza. It was only wounded, and I tried to save it—the eye was so bright. But it pined, and died in a few days; and I never did since, and never will, attempt the death of another bird.”

* “Oh, thou Parnassus! whom I now survey,
Not in the phrensy of a dreamer’s eye,
Not in the fabled landscape of a lay,
But soaring snow-clad through thy native sky,
In the wild pomp of mountain majesty!”

A. D. 1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 213

To a traveller in Greece, there are few things more remarkable than the diminutive extent of those countries, which have filled such a wide space in fame. “A man might very easily,” says Mr. Hobhouse, “at a moderate pace, ride from Livadia to Thebes and back again between breakfast and dinner; and the tour of all Bœotia might certainly be made in two days without baggage.” Having visited, within a very short space of time, the fountains of Memory and Oblivion at Livadia, and the haunts of the Ismenian Apollo at Thebes, the travellers at length turned towards Athens, the city of their dreams, and, after crossing Mount Cithæron, arrived in sight of the ruins of Phyle, on the evening of Christmas-day, 1809.

Though the poet has left, in his own verses, an ever-during testimony of the enthusiasm with which he now contemplated the scenes around him, it is not difficult to conceive that, to superficial observers, Lord Byron at Athens might have appeared an untouched spectator of much that throws ordinary travellers into, at least, verbal raptures. For pretenders of every sort, whether in taste or morals, he entertained, at all times, the most profound contempt; and if, frequently, his real feelings of admiration disguised themselves under an affected tone of indifference and mockery, it was out of pure hostility to the cant of those, who, he well knew, praised without any feeling at all. It must be owned, too, that while he thus justly despised the raptures of the common herd of travellers, there were some pursuits, even of the intelligent and tasteful, in which he took but very little interest. With the antiquarian and connoisseur his sympathies were few and feeble;—“I am not a collector” he says, in one of his notes on Childe Harold, “nor an admirer of collections.” For antiquities, indeed, unassociated with high names and deeds, he had no value whatever; and of works of art he was content to admire the general effect, without professing, or aiming at any knowledge of the details. It was to nature, in her lonely scenes of grandeur and beauty, or, as at Athens, shining, unchanged among the ruins of glory and of art, that the true, fervid homage of his whole soul was paid. In the few notices of his travels, appended to Childe Harold, we find the sites and scenery of the different places he visited far more fondly dwelt upon than their classic or historical associations. To the valley of Zitza
214 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1810.
he reverts, both in prose and verse, with a much warmer recollection than to Delphi or the Troad; and the plain of Athens itself is chiefly praised by him as “a more glorious prospect than even Cintra or Istambol.” Where, indeed, could Nature assert such claims to his worship as in scenes like these, where he beheld her blooming, in indestructible beauty, amid the wreck of all that Man deems most worthy of duration. “Human institutions,” says
Harris, “perish, but Nature is permanent:”—or, as Lord Byron has amplified this thought* in one of his most splendid passages:—
“Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild;
Sweet are thy groves and verdant are thy fields,
Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smiled,
And still his honied wealth Hymettus yields;
There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds,
The free-born wanderer of thy mountain-air;
Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,
Still in his beam Mendeli’s marbles glare;
Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but Nature still is fair.”