LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[Moore’s Life of Lord Byron. Continued].
Literary Gazette  No. 679  (23 January 1830)  53-55.
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Moore’s Life of Lord Byron, Vol. I. Murray.
(Second Notice.)

Continuing our review of this interesting volume, we shall not follow Lord Byron’s travels in Portugal and Spain, nor quote prose opinions respecting the natives, especially the fair, which were afterwards embodied in the poetry of Don Juan. Neither need we go much into his Greek and Turkish travels, which were so delightfully described by Mr. Hobhouse. A few characteristic passages from his letters, it matters not to whom addressed, are all we shall now give.

“‘I like the Greeks, who are plausible rascals,—with all the Turkish vices, without their courage. However, some are brave, and all are beautiful, very much resembling the busts of Alcibiades:—the women not quite so handsome. * * * I mean to give up all connexion, on my return, with many of my best friends—as I supposed them—and to snarl all my life. But I hope to have one good-humoured laugh with you, and to embrace Dwyer, and pledge Hodgson, before I commence cynicism. * * * I almost forgot to tell you that I am dying for love of three Greek girls at Athens, sisters. I lived in the same house. Teresa, Mariana, and Katinka*, are the names of these

* “He has adopted this name in his description of the seraglio in Don Juan, Canto VI. It was. if I recollect right, in making love to one of these girls that he had
divinities,—all of them under fifteen. Your ταπεινοτατος δολος ‘Byron.’”

“To Mr. Adair he appeared, at this time (and I find that Mr. Bruce, who met him afterwards at Athens, conceived the same impression of him), to be labouring under great dejection of spirits. One circumstance related to me, as having occurred in the course of the passage, is not a little striking. Perceiving, as he walked the deck, a small yataghan, or Turkish dagger, on one of the benches, he took it up, unsheathed it, and, having stood for a few moments contemplating the blade, was heard to say, in an under voice ‘I should like to know how a person feels, after committing a murder!’ In this startling speech we may detect, I think, the germ of his future Giaours and Laras. This intense wish to explore the dark workings of the passions was what, with the aid of imagination, at length generated the power; and that faculty which entitled him afterwards to be so truly styled ‘the searcher of dark bosoms,’ may be traced to, perhaps, its earliest stirrings in the sort of feeling that produced these words. On their approaching the island of Zea, he expressed a wish to be put on shore. Accordingly, having taken leave of his companion, he was landed upon this small island, with his two Albanians, a Tartar, and one English servant; and in one of his manuscripts, he has, himself, described the proud, solitary feeling with which he stood to see the ship sail swiftly away—leaving him there, in a land of strangers, alone. * * *

“He was a good deal weakened and thinned by his illness at Patras, and, on his return to Athens, standing, one day, before a looking-glass, he said to Lord Sligo—‘How pale I look!—I should like, I think, to die of a consumption’—‘Why of a consumption?’ asked his friend. ‘Because then (he answered) the women would all say, ‘See that poor Byron—how interesting he looks in dying!’’ In this anecdote,—which, slight as it is, the relater remembered, as a proof of the poet’s consciousness of his own beauty,—may be traced also the habitual reference of his imagination to that sex, which, however he affected to despise it, influenced, more or less, the flow and colour of all his thoughts. * * *

“‘I have done with authorship (he says, in another letter); and if, in my last production, I have convinced the critics or the world I was something more than they took me for, I am satisfied; nor will I hazard that reputation by a future effort. It is true I have some others in manuscript, but I leave them for those who come after me; and, if deemed worth publishing, they may serve to prolong my memory when I myself shall cease to remember.’

“Notwithstanding the resolution, so recently expressed by Lord Byron, to abandon for ever the vocation of authorship, and leave ‘the whole Castalian state’ to others, he was hardly landed in England when we find him busily engaged in preparations for the publication of some of the Poems which he had produced abroad. So eager was he, indeed, to print, that he had already, in a letter written at sea, announced himself to Mr. Dallas, as ready for the press. * * *

“‘I have an imitation of Horace’s Art of Poetry ready for Cawthorn, but don’t let that deter you, for I sha’n’t inflict it upon you. You know I never read my rhymes to visitors.’

“Though on every thing that, after his arrival at the age of manhood he produced, some mark or other of the master-hand may be traced, yet, to print the whole of his Paraphrase of Horace, which extends to nearly 800 lines, would be, at the best, but a questionable compliment to his memory. That the reader, however, may be enabled to form some opinion of a performance, which—by an error or caprice of judgment, unexampled, perhaps, in the annals of literature—its author, for a time, preferred to the sublime musings of Childe Harold, I shall here select a few such passages from the Paraphrase as may seem calculated to give an idea as well of its merits as its defects.

The consideration of this we must, nevertheless, defer, as we have now only room for a very interesting account touching Lord Byron’s disposition of his property, within a month of his return to England.

“‘Newstead Abbey, August 12th, 1811.
“‘Directions for the Contents of a Will, to be drawn up immediately.

“‘The estate of Newstead to be entailed (subject to certain deductions) on George Anson Byron, heir at law, or whoever may be the heir at law on the death of Lord B. The Rochdale property to be sold in part or the whole, according to the debts and legacies of the present Lord B. To Nicolo Giraud of Athens, subject of France but born in Greece, the sum of seven thousand pounds sterling, to be paid from the sale of such parts of Rochdale, Newstead, or elsewhere, as may enable the said Nicolo Giraud (resident at Athens and Malta in the year 1810) to receive the above sum on his attaining the age of twenty-one years. To William Fletcher, Joseph Murray, and Demetrius Zograffo* (native of Greece), servants, the sum of fifty pounds pr. ann. each, for their natural lives. To Wm. Fletcher the Mill at Newstead, on condition that he payeth rent, but not subject to the caprice of the landlord. To Rt. Rushton the sum of fifty pounds per ann. for life, and a further sum of one thousand pounds on attaining the age of twenty-five years. To Jn. Hanson, Esq. the sum of two thousand pounds sterling. The claims of S. B. Davies, Esq. to be satisfied on proving the amount of the same. The body of Lord B. to be buried in the vault of the garden of Newstead, without any ceremony or burial-service whatever, or any inscription, save his name and age. His dog not to be removed from the said vault. My library and furniture of every description to my friends Jn. Cam Hobhouse, Esq., and S. B. Davies, Esq., my executors. In case of their decease, the Rev. J. Becher, of Southwell, Notts., and R. C. Dallas, Esq., of Mortlake, Surrey, to be executors. The produce of the sale of Wymondham in Norfolk, and the late Mrs. B.’s Scotch property,* to be appropriated in aid of the payment of debts and legacies.’

“In sending a copy of the Will, framed on these instructions, to Lord Byron, the solicitor accompanied some of the clauses with marginal queries, calling the attention of his noble client to points which he considered inexpedient or questionable; and as the short, pithy answers to these suggestions are strongly characteristic of their writer, I shall here give one or two of the clauses in full, with the respective queries and answers annexed.

“‘This is the last will and testament of me the Rt. Honourable. George Gordon Lord Byron, Baron Byron of Rochdale in the county of Lancaster.—I desire that my body may be buried in the vault of the garden of Newstead without any ceremony or burial-service whatever, and that no inscription, save my name and age, be written on the tomb or tablet; and it is my will that my faithful dog may not be removed from the said vault. To the performance of this my particular desire, I rely on the attention of my executors hereinafter named.’

“‘It is submitted to Lord Byron whether this clause relative to the funeral had not better be omitted. The substance of it can be given in a letter from his lordship to the executors, and accompany the will; and the will may state that the funeral shall be performed in such manner as his lordship may by letter direct, and, in default of any such letter, then at the discretion of his executors.’

“‘It must stand. B.’

“‘I do hereby specifically order and direct that all the claims of the said S. B. Davies upon me shall be fully paid and satisfied as soon as conveniently may be after my decease, on his proving [by vouchers, or otherwise, to the satisfaction of my executors hereinafter named]* the amount thereof and the correctness of the same.’

“‘If Mr. Davies has any unsettled claims upon Lord Byron, that circumstance is a reason for his not being appointed executor; each executor having an opportunity of paying himself his own debt without consulting his co-executors.

“‘So much the better—if possible, let him be an executor.

“The two following letters contain further instructions on the same subject.

“To Mr. Bolton.
“‘Newstead Abbey, August 16th, 1811.

“‘Sir,—I have answered the queries on the margin‡. I wish Mr. Davies’s claims to be most fully allowed, and, further, that he be one of my executors. I wish the will to be made in a manner to prevent all discussion, if possible, after my decease; and this I leave to you, as a professional gentleman. With regard to the few and simple directions for the disposal of my carcass, I must have them implicitly fulfilled, as they will, at least, prevent trouble and expense;—and (what would be of little consequence to me, but may quiet the conscience of the survivors) the garden is consecrated ground. These directions are copied verbatim from my former will; the alterations in other parts have arisen from the death of Mrs. B.—I have the honour to be your most obedient, humble servant, “‘Byron.’

“To Mr. Bolton.
“‘Newstead Abbey, August 20, 1811.

“‘Sir,—The witnesses shall be provided from amongst my tenants, and I shall be happy to see you on any day most convenient to yourself. I forgot to mention that it must be specified by codicil, or otherwise, that my body is on no account to be removed from the vault where I have directed it to be placed; and, in case any of my successors within the entail (from bigotry, or otherwise) might think proper to remove the carcass, such proceeding shall be attended by forfeiture of the estate,

recourse to an act of courtship often practised in that country,—namely, giving himself a wound across the breast with his dagger. The young Athenian, by his own account, looked on very coolly during the operation, considering it a at tribute to her beauty, but in no degree moved to gratitude.”
* “On the death of his mother, a considerable mm of money, the remains of the price of the estate of Glght, was paid Into his hands by her trustee, Baron Clerk.”
† “Over the words which I have bore placed between brackets, Lord Byron drew his pen.
which, in such case, shall go to my sister, the
Honourable Augusta Leigh and her heirs on similar conditions. I have the honour to be, sir, Your very obedient, humble servant, “‘Byron.’

“In consequence of this last letter, a proviso and declaration, in conformity with its instructions, were inserted in the will. He also executed, on the 28th of this month, a codicil, by which he revoked the bequest of his ‘household goods and furniture, library, pictures, sabres, watches, plate, linen, trinkets, and other personal estate (except money and securities) situate within the walls of the mansion-house and premises at his decease—and bequeathed the same (except his wine and spirituous liquors) to his friends, the said J. C. Hobhouse, S. B. Davies, and Francis Hodgson, their executors, &c. to be equally divided between them for their own use;—and he bequeathed his wine and spirituous liquors, which should be in the cellars and premises at Newstead, unto his friend the said J. Becher for his own use, and requested the said J. C. Hobhouse, S. B. Davies, F. Hodgson, and J. Becher, respectively, to accept the bequest therein contained, to them respectively, as a token of his friendship.’”

(To be continued.)