LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
Francis Barry Boyle St Leger
Conversations of Lord Byron.
New Monthly Magazine  Vol. 11  (November 1824)  407-415.
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New Monthly Magazine.

NOVEMBER 1, 1824.



This work possesses three sources of attraction, either of them sufficient to insure a general circulation. First, it concerns Lord Byron, the minutest details of whose “whereabouts” are anxiously sought after by every body; secondly, the book is discursive and full of anecdotes, and its pages teem with all the great names of the age: and last, though not least, it spares neither friend nor foe. When first we heard the promise of such a publication, we were a little startled. We were somewhat acquainted with the style and matter of Lord Byron’s familiar conversations. We knew that he was noble, and had been habituated by his caste to idle gossiping about persons; we knew that his feelings were quick and susceptible, and therefore that he was likely to be unguarded in speech; we knew too that he was prone to change his “favour” according to the accidental light in which he regarded an object at the moment, and therefore might be tempted to say things of his best friends, that he would be sorry to have repeated, much less “set down in print” against them. Different from Dr. Johnson, he courted not extensive circles of admiring auditors; he spoke not “per far effetto,”—his colloquy was not an harangue, in which the thought was as “apprêté” as the language. Dr. Johnson’s discourses to the club, and at the tea-table of Mrs. Piozzi, were a sort of publication: and Boswell in printing them gave them but a second edition. But Lord Byron’s conversations, the conversations of a man whose whole life was but one “laissez aller,” who spoke as he wrote, and who sought in society nothing beyond its own intrinsic enjoyments!† how could this be done without high treason to friendship, without scandalizing all the subjects of his casual remarks? As far, however, as Lord Byron is concerned, we are, on perusal, satisfied that the author has acquitted himself with tolerable felicity, and we are persuaded he may sleep in peace without any fear of a visitation from his Lordship’s offended ghost. The noble poet was too frank and facile in his literary intercourse with the world, was too apt to display the weaknesses, no less than the strength of his mind, with an almost cynical indifference to his reader, to care much about this species of exposure; and though there are many details more especially of matters of opinion, which we are persuaded he uttered more out of wantonness than that he even at the time thought as he spoke,—details which he would have been sorry to pass current as the expression of his real sentiments; yet, as far as he was himself concerned, we have no doubt he would have been more grateful than displeased at the publication. If credit may be given to this journal, Lord Byron was most desirous for the posthumous printing of his memoirs; and he seems, indeed, to have intrusted them to Mr. Moore, as a safeguard against that very accident into which the high-wrought notions of delicacy of the trustee, and his deference to relations and friends, eventually betrayed them. Lord Byron seems to have been aware of the prudery of his own immediate connexions, and in the way in which he bestowed the MS. to have consulted at once his generous disposition towards a friend, and his desire of security against mutilation

† See Journal, p. 50.
408Conversations of Lord Byron.
or suppression. On this subject, the Journal makes Lord Byron speak as follows:—

“I am sorry not to have a copy of my Memoirs to show you. I gave them to Moore, or rather to Moore’s little boy.”*

“I remember saying, ‘Here are 2000l. for you, my young friend.’ I made one reservation in the gift,—that they were not to be published till after my death.

“I have not the least objection to their being circulated; in fact they have been read by some of mine, and several of Moore’s friends and acquaintances; among others, they were lent to Lady Burghersh. On returning the MS. her Ladyship told Moore that she had transcribed the whole work. This was un peu fort, and he suggested the propriety of her destroying the copy. She did so, by putting it into the fire in his presence. Ever since this happened, Douglas Kinnaird has been recommending me to resume possession of the MS., thinking to frighten me by saying that a spurious or a real copy, surreptitiously obtained, may go forth to the world. I am quite indifferent about the world knowing all that they contain. There are very few licentious adventures of my own, or scandalous anecdotes that will affect others, in the book. It is taken up from my earliest recollections, almost from childhood,—very incoherent, written in a very loose and familiar style. The second part will prove a good lesson to young men; for it treats of the irregular life led at one period, and the fatal consequences of dissipation. There are few parts that may not, and none that will not, be read by women.”

In this particular, Lord Byron’s fate has been singular; and a superstitious person might be startled at the coincidence of so many causes all tending to hide the secret of his character from the public. That scandal and envy should have been at work with such a man is not very extraordinary; but the burning his Memoirs and the subsequent injunction on the publication of his Letters to his Mother, seem as if something more than mere chance had operated to preserve unconfuted the calumnies of the day for the benefit of future biographers. Of these letters we were fortunate enough to obtain a glimpse; and never, we will venture to say, was more innocent, and at the same time more valuable matter so withheld from the world. It is but an act of cold justice to Lord Byron’s memory, to state that they appear the reflections of as generous a mind as ever committed its expression to paper. The traces of his temperament, and of his false position in society, are indeed there: but the sentiments are lofty and enthusiastic; and every line betrays the warmest sympathy with human suffering, and a scornful indignation at mean and disgraceful vice.

To the sacrificed Memoirs and the incarcerated Letters, the present Journal is a sort of supplement; and it is avowedly published as an attempt to supply some portion of the information, of which the public have been, as Mr. Medwin thinks, so injuriously deprived. Indeed, both from the matter, and the sostenuto style of some of the passages, we have been almost tempted to think them a leaf rescued from the flames. All men, however, are apt to speak much of themselves; and great men often do this well: it is not, therefore, very unlikely that Lord Byron’s conversations might frequently be mere fragments of his written life, at least as far as concerns the sequence of thoughts; and we

* Moore’s son was not with him in Italy; there is consequently some trifling inaccuracy in this. It is, nevertheless true, as we happen to know, that this was the turn which Lord B. gave to his present, in order to make it more acceptable to his friend. Rev.
Conversations of Lord Byron.409
are convinced that upon some points the most material facts are thus preserved for the benefit of society. Of this description is his account of his own connexion with
Lady Byron, their loves, marriage, and separation.

His account of his situation immediately before his leaving England is sufficiently melancholy: he closes it by saying,—

“In addition to all these mortifications, my affairs were irretrievably involved, and almost so as to make me what they wished. I was compelled to part with Newstead, which I never could have ventured to sell in my mother’s life-time. As it is, I shall never forgive myself for having done so; though I am told that the estate would not now bring half as much as I got for it. This does not at all reconcile me to having parted with the old abbey. I did not make up my mind to this step, but from the last necessity. I had my wife’s portion to repay, and was determined to add 10,000l. more of my own to it; which I did. I always hated being in debt, and do not owe a guinea. The moment I had put my affairs in train, and in little more than eighteen months after my marriage, I left England, an involuntary exile, intending it should be for ever.”

From the darker part of this great man’s autobiography we turn with very different and pleasant sensations to the history of his boyish days.

“I lost my father when I was only six years of age. My mother, when she was in a rage with me, (and I gave her cause enough,) used to say, ‘Ah, you little dog, you are a Byron all over; you are as bad as your father!’ It was very different from Mrs. Malaprop’s saying, ‘Ah! good dear Mr. Malaprop, I never loved him till he was dead.’ But, in fact, my father was, in his youth, any thing but a ‘Cœlebs in search of a wife.’ He would have made a bad hero for Hannah More. He ran out three fortunes, and married or ran away with three women, and once wanted a guinea, that he wrote for; I have the note. He seemed born for his own ruin, and that of the other sex. He began by seducing Lady Carmarthen, and spent for her 4000l. a year; and not content with one adventure of this kind, afterwards eloped with Miss Gordon. His marriage was not destined to be a very fortunate one either, and I don’t wonder at her differing from Sheridan’s widow in the play. They certainly could not have claimed the flitch.

“The phrenologists tell me that other lines besides that of thought, (the middle of three horizontal lines on his forehead, on which be prided himself,) are strongly developed in the hinder part of my cranium; particularly that called philoprogenitiveness. I suppose, too, the pugnacious bump might be found somewhere, because my uncle had it.

“You have heard the unfortunate story of his duel with his relation and neighbour. After that melancholy event, he shut himself up at Newstead, and was in the habit of feeding crickets, which were his only companions. He had made them so tame as to crawl over him, and used to whip them with a wisp of straw, if too familiar. When he died, tradition says that they left the house in a body. I suppose I derive my superstition from this branch of the family; but though I attend to none of these new-fangled theories, I am inclined to think that there is more in a chart of the skull than the Edinburgh Reviewers suppose. However that may be, I was a wayward youth, and gave my mother a world of trouble,—as I fear Ada will her’s, for I am told she is a little termagant. I had an ancestor too that expired laughing, (I suppose that my good spirits came from him,) and two whose affection was such for each other, that they died almost at the same moment. There seems to have been a flaw in my escutcheon there, or that loving couple have monopolized all the connubial bliss of the family.

“I passed my boyhood at Marlodge near Aberdeen, occasionally visiting the Highlands; and long retained an affection for Scotland;—that, I suppose,
410Conversations of Lord Byron.
I imbibed from my mother. My love for it, however, was at one time much shaken by the
critique in ‘The Edinburgh Review’ on ‘The Hours of Idleness,’ and I transferred a portion of my dislike to the country; but my affection for it soon flowed back into its old channel.

“I don’t know from whom I inherited verse-making; probably the wild scenery of Morven and Loch-na-garr, and the banks of trie Dee, were the par rents of my poetical vein, and the developers of my poetical boss. If it was so, it was dormant; at least, I never wrote any thing worth mentioning till I was in love. Dante dates his passion for Beatrice at twelve. I was almost as young when I fell over head and ears in love; but I anticipate. I was sent to Harrow at twelve, and spent my vacations at Newstead. It was there that I first saw Mary C——. She was several years older than myself: but, at my age, boys like something older than themselves, as they do younger, later in life. Our estates adjoined: but, owing to the unhappy circumstance of the feud to which I before alluded, our families (as is generally the case with neighbours who happen to be relations) were never on terms of more than common civility—scarcely those. I passed the summer vacation of this year among the Malvern hills: those were days of romance! She was the beau idéal of all that my youthful fancy could paint of beautiful; and I have taken all my fables about the celestial nature of women from the perfection my imagination created in her—I say created, for I found her, like the rest of the sex, any thing but angelic.

“I returned to Harrow, after my trip to Cheltenham, more deeply enamoured than ever, and passed the next holidays at Newstead. I now began to fancy myself a man, and to make love in earnest. Our meetings were stolen ones, and my letters passed through the medium of a confidante. A gate leading from Mr. C——’s grounds to those of my mother, was the place of our interviews. But the ardour was all on my side. I was serious; she was volatile. She liked me as a younger brother, and treated and laughed at me as a boy. She, however, gave me her picture, and that was something to make verses upon.

“During the last year that I was at Harrow, all my thoughts were occupied on this love-affair. I had, besides, a spirit that ill brooked the restraints of school-discipline; for I had been encouraged by servants in all my violence of temper, and was used to command. Every thing like a task was repugnant to my nature; and I came away a very indifferent classic, and read in nothing that was useful. That subordination, which is the soul of all discipline, I submitted to with great difficulty; yet I did submit to it: and I have always retained a sense of Drury’s kindness, which enabled me to bear it and fagging too. The Duke of Dorset was my fag. I was not a very hard task-master. There were times in which, if I had not considered it as a school, I should have been happy at Harrow. There is one spot I should like to see again: I was particularly delighted with the view from the Church-yard, and used to sit for hours on the stile leading into the fields;—even then I formed a wish to be buried there. Of all my schoolfellows, I know no one for whom I have retained so much friendship as for Lord Clare. I have been constantly corresponding with him ever since I knew he was in Italy; and look forward to seeing him, and talking over with him our old Harrow stories, with infinite delight. There is no pleasure in life equal to that of meeting an old friend. You know how glad I was to see Hay. Why did not Scroope Davies come to see me? Some one told me that he was at Florence, but it is impossible.

“There are two things that strike me at this moment, which I did at Harrow: I fought Lord Calthorpe for writing ‘D—d Atheist!’ under my name; and prevented the school-room from being burnt during a rebellion, by pointing out to the boys the names of their fathers and grandfathers on the walls.

“Had I married Miss C——, perhaps the whole tenor of my life would have been different. She jilted me, however, but her marriage proved any thing but a happy one. She was at length separated from Mr. M——, and proposed an interview with me, but by the advice of my sister I declined it.
Conversations of Lord Byron.411
I remember meeting her after my return from Greece, but pride had conquered my love; and yet it was not with perfect indifference I saw her.—For a man to become a poet (witness
Petrarch and Dante), he must be in love or miserable. I was both when I wrote the ‘Hours of Idleness;’ some of those poems, in spite of what the Reviewers say, are as good as any I ever produced. For some years after the event that had so much influence on my fate, I tried to drown the remembrance of it and her in the most depraving dissipation; but the poison was in the cup! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In these conversational sketches given to his intimate friends, his youthful amours have not been omitted; and the Journal enables us to verify many scandalous reports, which have long been abroad, and passed current in society as the on dits of the time. They indeed fully justify what he himself observes: “I have seen a great deal of Italian society, and have swum in a gondola, but nothing could equal the profligacy of high life in England, especially that of —— when I knew it.” For these communications many persons will thank the author. The more scrupulous respecter of confidential conversations would have been better satisfied if such passages had been omitted. It is but fair, however, both to Lord B. and his friend, to add that they might have said on this occasion, with a trifling alteration of the poet,
And all that passes inter nos
Has been proclaim’d at Charing Cross.
There is certainly no betrayal of secrets.—His feelings on his early excesses and dissipation may be gathered from the following extract.

“Don’t suppose, however, that I took any pleasure in all these excesses, or that parson A. K. or W—— were associates to my taste. The miserable consequences of such a life are detailed at length in my Memoirs. My own master at an age when I most required a guide, and left to the dominion of my passions when they were the strongest, with a fortune anticipated before I came into possession of it, and a constitution impaired by early excesses, I commenced my travels in 1809, with a joyless indifference to a world that was all before me.” “Well might you speak feelingly,” said I: “there is no sterner moralist than pleasure.”

The parties who will be least contented with the present publication, will be the literary friends of Lord Byron. The work is full of criticism and of anecdotes; many of which, without being (in a private room) offensive to friendship, are (in publication) a little mortifying to those little vanities, to which authors, of all men, are the most liable. We suspect the Reverend Mr. Bowles will not be pleased to have it known that he could be “a good fellow for a parson,” and entertain an after-dinner company with “good stories.” Neither will Sir Walter like its being “let out,” that he inadvertently acknowledged Waverley to Lord Byron.*

* So thinks the writer of this article. I am of a different opinion. I suspect Sir W. Scott will not feel a moment’s displeasure at his being known to be the author of Waverley,—all scepticism on the subject having long ago become stale.—And why should Mr. Bowles dislike its being known that he is “a good fellow for a parson,” and that he can entertain an after-dinner with good stories? Every one who is acquainted with Mr. Bowles’s general character, knows that he is remarkable for any thing but indelicate conversation; so that if his stories after dinner be good, they are not likely to be so in the sense which either Mr. Medwin or the reviewer palpably mean to insinuate. We shall be told perhaps, that we have Lord Byron’s testimony for all this gossiping about living characters. Softly,—we have only Mr. Medwin’s. And without disputing
412 Conversations of Lord Byron.

Lord Byron, indeed, carried his frankness in friendship to a fault, and he more than once got his friends into a scrape, by showing letters and repeating speeches, just as he would have told the same parties his own sentiments on the transaction in question.

There are several singular situations in which he was placed during his travels or residence abroad mentioned in this volume. They show the fearlessness of his character, and the disregard of consequences in every case which so much distinguished him. One of them will be found at page 33, in the mention of a murder committed by order of the police on an officer opposite his palace at Ravenna. A second we cannot refrain from giving here; and a third will be found in page 177.

“A circumstance took place in Greece that impressed itself lastingly on my memory. I had once thought-of founding a tale on it; but the subject is too harrowing for any nerves,—too terrible for any pen! An order was issued at Yanina by its sanguinary Rajah, that any Turkish woman convicted of incontinence with a Christian should be stoned to death! Love is slow at calculating dangers, and defies tyrants and their edicts; and many were the victims to the savage barbarity of this of Ali’s. Among others a girl of sixteen, of a beauty such as that country only produces, fell under the vigilant eye of the police. She was suspected, and not without reason, of carrying on a secret intrigue with a Neapolitan of some rank, whose long stay in the city could be attributed to no other cause than this attachment. Her crime (if crime it be to love as they loved) was too fully proved; they were torn from each other’s arms, never to meet again: and yet both might have escaped,—she by abjuring her religion, or he by adopting hers. They resolutely refused to become apostates to their faith. Ali Pacha was never known to pardon. She was stoned by those dæmons, although in the fourth month of her pregnancy! He was sent to a town where the plague was raging, and died, happy in not having long outlived the object of his affections!

“One of the principal incidents in ‘The Giaour’ is derived from a real occurrence, and one too in which I myself was nearly and deeply interested; but an unwillingness to have it considered a traveller’s tale made me suppress the fact of its genuineness. The Marquis of Sligo, who knew the particulars of the story, reminded me of them in England, and wondered I had not authenticated them in the Preface:—

“When I was at Athens, there was an edict in force similar to that of Ali’s, except that the mode of punishment was different. It was necessary, therefore, that all love-affairs should be carried on with the greatest privacy. I was very fond at that time of a Turkish girl,—ay, fond of her as I have been of few women. All went on very well till the Ramazan for forty days, which is rather a long fast for lovers: all intercourse between the sexes is forbidden by law, as well as by religion. During this Lent of the Mussulmen, the

Mr. M.’s intention to be accurate, we must recollect that the best memories are not infallible. It is possible that a man of pure mind and character may forget himself in a social moment, and tell a story which may be good only with reference to the taste of its convivial hearers. If such were the fact, any candid person would certainly sooner forgive the story-teller, than the relater of tittle-tattle, who should publish the fact. But as all human memories are fallible, and as “tittle-tattle” is apt to be pursued in convivial moments, it is not impossible that this may have been an after-dinner anecdote of Lord Byron’s, or inaccurately reported by Mr. Medwin.
There is a good deal of flippant matter about Mr. Rogers, which will probably offend Mr. R.’s friends more than himself. As far as Mr. Rogers may be anxious to have stood favourably in Lord Byron’s opinion, he seems upon the whole to have stood so. About the stranger’s estimation of him, whom Mr. Medwin mentions as beginning and carrying on the conversation detailed in the present work, the author of the “Pleasures of Memory” cannot be nervously uneasy. Editor.
Conversations of Lord Byron.413
women are not allowed to quit their apartments. I was in despair, and could hardly contrive to get a cinder, or a token-flower sent to express it. We had not met for several days, and all my thoughts were occupied in planning an assignation, when, as ill fate would have it, the means I took to effect it led to the discovery of our secret. The penalty was death,—death without reprieve,—a horrible death, at which one cannot think without shuddering! An order was issued for the law being put into immediate effect. In the mean time I knew nothing of what had happened, and it was determined that I should be kept in ignorance of the whole affair till it was too late to interfere. A mere accident only enabled me to prevent the completion of the sentence. I was taking one of my usual evening rides by the sea-side, when I observed a crowd of people moving down to the shore, and the arms of the soldiers glittering among them. They were not so far off, but that I thought I could now and then distinguish a faint and stifled shriek. My curiosity was forcibly excited, and I despatched one of my followers to inquire the cause of the procession. What was my horror to learn that they were carrying an unfortunate girl, sewn up in a sack, to be thrown into the sea! I did not hesitate as to what was to be done. I knew I could depend on my faithful Albanians, and rode up to the officer commanding the party, threatening in case of his refusal to give up his prisoner, that I would adopt means to compel him. He did not like the business he was on, or perhaps the determined look of my body-guard, and consented to accompany me back to the city with the girl, whom I soon discovered to be my Turkish favourite. Suffice it to say, that my interference with the chief magistrate, backed by a heavy bribe, saved her; but it was only on condition that I should break off all intercourse with her, and that she should immediately quit Athens, and be sent to her friends in Thebes. There she died, a few days after her arrival, of a fever—perhaps of love.”

Lord Byron’s attachment to his daughter seems to have been very strong, and she occupied much of his thoughts.

“Here he opened his writing-desk, and showed me some hair, which he told me was his child’s. During our drive and ride this evening, he declined our usual amusement of pistol-firing, without assigning a cause. He hardly spoke a word during the first half-hour, and it was evident that something weighed heavily on his mind. There was a sacredness in his melancholy that I dared not interrupt. At length he said: ‘This is Ada’s birthday, and might have been the happiest day of my life; as it is ————!’ He stopped, seemingly ashamed of having betrayed his feelings. He tried in vain to rally his spirits by turning the conversation; but he created a laugh in which he could not join, and soon relapsed into his former reverie. It lasted till we came within a mile of the Argive gate. There our silence was all at once interrupted by shrieks that seemed to proceed from a cottage by the side of the road. We pulled up our horses, to inquire of a contadino standing at the little garden-wicket. He told us that a widow had just lost her only child, and that the sounds proceeded from the wailings of some women over the corpse. Lord Byron was much affected; and his superstition, acted upon by a sadness that seemed to be presentiment, led him to augur some disaster. ‘I shall not be happy,’ said he, ‘till I hear that my daughter is well. I have a great horror of anniversaries; people only laugh at, who have never kept a register of them. I always write to my sister on Ada’s birthday. I did so last year; and, what was very remarkable, my letter reached her on my wedding-day, and her answer reached me at Ravenna on my birth-day I Several extraordinary things have happened to me on my birthday; so they did to Napoleon; and a more wonderful circumstance still occurred to Marie Antoinette.”

On the subject of politics, he observed to Captain Medwin, that he was not made for a politician at home—that he should never have adhered to a party, taken part in the intrigues of a cabinet, or the petty factions and contests of political men. That Castlereagh was almost
414Conversations of Lord Byron.
the only one whom he had attacked, and whom he would continue to attack—whom he detested. He observed respecting his love of freedom:

“Perhaps if I had never travelled—never left my own country young, my views would have been more limited. They extend to the good of mankind in general—of the world at large. Perhaps the prostrate situation of Portugal and Spain—the tyranny of the Turks in Greece—the oppressions of the Austrian Government at Venice—the mental debasement of the Papal States, (not to mention Ireland,)—tended to inspire me with a love of liberty. No Italian could have rejoiced more than I, to have seen a constitution established on this side the Alps. I felt for Romagna as if she had been my own country, and would have risked my life and fortune for her, as I may yet for the Greeks.* I am become a citizen of the world. There is no man I envy so much as Lord Cochrane. His entrance into Lima, which I see announced in to-day’s paper, is one of the great events of the day. Maurocordato, too, (whom you know so well,) is also worthy of the best times of Greece. Patriotism and virtue are not quite extinct.”

“I told him that I thought the best lines he had ever written were his Address to Greece, beginning ‘Land of the Unforgotten Brave!’ I should be glad, said he, to think that I have added a spark to the flame. I love Greece, and take the strongest interest in her struggle.”

We cannot pass over the following beautiful stanzas from the Poet’s pen, addressed to the Countess Guiccioli, on his leaving Venice:—

“River that rollest by the ancient walls
Where dwells the lady of my love, when she
Walks by the brink, and there perchance recalls
A faint and fleeting memory of me;
What if thy deep and ample stream should be
A mirror of my heart, where she may read
The thousand thoughts I now betray to thee,
Wild as thy wave, and headlong as thy speed?
What do I say?—a mirror of my heart,
Are not thy waters sweeping, dark and strong?
Such as my feelings were and are, thou art;
And such as thou art, were my passions long.
Time may have somewhat tamed them, not for ever;
Thou overflow’st thy banks, and not for aye;
Thy bosom overboils, congenial river!
Thy floods subside; and mine have sunk away—
But left long wrecks behind them; and again
Borne on our old unchanged career, we move;
Thou tendest wildly onward to the main,
And I to loving one I should not love.
The current I behold will sweep beneath
Her native walls, and murmur at her feet;
Her eyes will look on thee, when she shall breathe
The twilight air, unharm’d by summer’s heat.

* “And I will war, at least in words, (and—should
My chance so happen,—deeds,) with all who war
With Thought. And of Thought’s foes by far most rude
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are.
I know not who may conquer: if I could
Have such a prescience, it should be no bar
To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation
Of every despotism in every nation’.”
Don Juan, Canto XI.
Conversations of Lord Byron. 415
She will look on thee; I have look’d on thee,
Full of that thought, and from that moment ne’er
Thy waters could I dream of, name or see,
Without the inseparable sigh for her.
Her bright eyes will be imaged in thy stream;
Yes, they will meet the wave I gaze on now:
Mine cannot witness, even in a dream,
That happy wave repass me in its flow.
The wave that bears my tears returns no more:
Will she return by whom that wave shall sweep?
Both tread thy banks, both wander on thy shore;
I near thy source, she by the dark-blue deep.
But that which keepeth us apart is not
Distance, nor depth of wave, nor space of earth,
But the distraction of a various lot,
As various as the climates of our birth.
A stranger loves a lady of the land,
Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood
Is all meridian, as if never fann’d
By the bleak wind that chills the polar flood.
My blood is all meridian; were it not,
I had not left my clime;—I shall not be,
In spite of tortures ne’er to be forgot,
A slave again of love, at least of thee.
’Tis vain to struggle—let me perish young—
Live as I lived, and love as I have loved;
To dust if I return, from dust I sprung.
And then at least my heart can ne’er be moved.”

That Lord Byron should have joined to his religious scepticism some superstitious weaknesses, will surprise many: to us it seems no incompatibility. There is little or no connexion between reason and sentiment, and all imaginative persons are liable to this disease: for superstition is the malady of man himself, only as he is an imaginative animal. He once consulted a conjurer, more out of sport than curiosity. He was told that two years would be fatal to him, his twenty-seventh and his thirty-seventh. In the first he married, in the second he died. Lest, however, this coincidence should appear something supernatural, we may add that the witch was mistaken in other particulars. Whoever feels strongly must be subject to those depressions of spirits which engender the notion of forebodings: no true lover will doubt this, and few of us all but will recollect instances in which we have flattered or teased ourselves with such trifles, when much moved by passion. The subject of religion Lord B. seems always to have viewed with a poet’s eye; and however much he may have been offended with the abuses of establishments, and jealous of priestly assertions of authority in such matters, he seems to have regarded the subject more as an author than a man; much, however, of what is related of him in the Journal on this head, may have been mere idle indulgence of mood, repeated without reflection, and forgotten as soon as said. Of the work itself, it is needless to add more. Every body will read it, as every body reads whatever appears concerning Lord Byron. Mr. Medwin’s acquaintance with his hero commenced through the introduction of Shelley; and he seems to have obtained a prompt admission into the confidence of the confraternity. What this opportunity afforded him of knowing, he apparently has collected with industry, and reported with fidelity. There can be little doubt that such a book must be at once interesting and amusing in no common degree.