LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron
Chapter XII

Table of Contents
Preliminary Statement
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH





1808 TO THE END OF 1814;




R. C. DALLAS, Esq.








Review in Gentleman's Magazine

This work had proceeded thus far, when it pleased God to stop the pen of the writer, and bid to cease the current of recollections which had set it in motion. Mr. Dallas had been attacked, in the month of July*, with an inflammatory fever, for which copious bleeding was necessary: he recovered indeed from the immediate disease, but the debility occasioned by the remedy was too great for his constitution to overcome, and he gradually sank under its effects. On the 21st of October, 1824, he expired. On his death-bed, and with a near view of eternity before him, which

* See Preliminary Statement.

was brightened by the firm hope of its being passed in the presence of his reconciled Maker, he confided to the writer of the following pages the task of closing these Recollections, and imparted to him his feelings and opinions upon the matter which should compose this concluding chapter.

While executing this sacred commission, I intreat the reader to remember that it is not the same person who writes; and not only that the writer is different, but to call to mind that it is a son who takes up the mantle which a father has cast down in leaving this world. Whoever has perused the foregoing pages, cannot but feel that the author has borne a part in the circumstances which are related of so honourable a nature, that a son may be well authorised to speak in other terms than those which the person himself might use. And if, in any thing I may say, it should be
thought that I have overstepped the reasonable licence which may be granted to the feelings of so near and dear a connexion, I trust that whatever may be counted as excess, will be pardoned in consideration of the fresh and powerful impulse which cannot but be given by the sense of so recent an event.

The character of Lord Byron, as it stands depicted in the preceding pages, will appear in a different light from that in which the public have recently been led to regard it. Piquant anecdotes, and scandalous chronicles, may serve to amuse for a time the unthinking; but their real tendency is to pander to the worst feelings ot our nature, by dragging into light the corruptions which disgrace humanity. It is not difficult to form an estimate of what Lord Byron might have been, by attending to the causes which made him what he was.


To reason from hearsay, and form opinions upon the unauthenticated annals of common conversation, can never bring us to truth, nor give to our judgments sufficient certainty for practical purposes. It will therefore be useless to attempt to estimate Lord Byron’s original character from the events commonly related of his early life; nor to take into consideration the defects of his education, and the misfortunes of his boyhood. We have no authorized data upon which to conduct such an inquiry. But the pages of this book do contain authorized data. They contain opinions, and feelings, and facts, established by his own hand, although circumstances withhold from the British public the original records. These data will show us what he was, immediately before and immediately after the public development of his poetical powers had thrown him into a vortex which
decided his character, whatever it might have been previously.

There might have been some difficulty in finding so reasonable a ground-work upon which to form an opinion of what he had continued to be in his subsequent progress through life; and the fairest inference would have been that which his own later productions afford, had not a work been published purporting to be the record of Conversations held with Lord Byron at Pisa, in the years 1821 and 1822. This book appeared on the very day on which my father’s remains were consigned to the grave, and I cannot be too thankful that he was spared the pain which he would have felt in reading it.

The perusal of this book rewards the reader, as he was rewarded who opened Pandora’s box. It fills the mind with an unvaried train of miserable reflections; but there is one consolation at the end. As by
a mathematical axiom the lesser is contained in the greater, so the comparatively smaller crime of falsehood is necessarily within the capability of one so depraved as
Lord Byron appears in this book; and by the same argument, the man whose mind could be in such a state as to suppose that he was doing “the world” and “the memory of Lord Byron” a service, by thus laying bare the degradation to which a master-mind was reduced, must surely be unable to restrain the tendency to exaggeration which would heighten the incredibility of what is already beyond belief. This opinion concerning the reporter of Lord Byron’s conversations is in some degree confirmed, by the simplicity which he displays in stating, that when Lord Byron was applied to for some authentic particulars of his life, his lordship asked the reporter himself, “Why he did not write some, as he believed that he knew more of
him than any one else?” This was after three or four months’ acquaintance*!

In my own case, after reading the book to which I allude, this solitary consolation on account of Lord Byron was accompanied by a feeling of great satisfaction on account of my father; for, if its contents be not

* There are several things mentioned in this book of Conversations which prove, to say the least, that Lord Byron’s memory was not correct, if what is reported of him be true. On one occasion his lordship is stated to have said that his mother’s death was one of the reasons of his return from Turkey, and this is repeated more strongly in another place. His mother’s death did not take place until several weeks after his arrival in London, and he had not the slightest expectation of it when it happened. Lord Byron is also stated to have said, that after an absence of three years, he returned to London, and that the second canto of Childe Harold was just then published. The fact is, that he was absent two years to a day, which he remarked himself in a very strong manner, returning in July, 1811, and that the first and second cantos of Childe Harold were published together eight months after, in March, 1812, in the manner related in these Recollections.

only the truth, but the whole truth, Lord Byron afforded the highest testimony of his respect for my
father’s character, which in his unhappy situation he could possibly upon give. In such company, and conversing such subjects, he forbore to mention his name, although referring to matters upon which, the reader will have seen, it would have been natural to have spoken of him. I am willing to attribute this silence to the circumstance that, in Lord Byron’s mind, my father’s name must have been connected with the remembrance of all he had done, and said, and written, to turn him into the better path; and his Lordship could not have borne to recal that train of thought, after he had decidedly chosen the worse. That my father’s earnest exertions had been applied to this end, will sufficiently appear from the foregoing part of this work; and, perhaps, I shall be pardoned for inserting here the body of a letter
which he wrote to Lord Byron at a much later period, to prove that he still retained that object in view. The letter is that alluded to in the last chapter, when, stating that he informed Lord Byron of his intention to leave a posthumous account of him, he extracted a short passage from it. The whole letter, which might not so well have been made public by the writer himself, cannot be considered as improperly published by the present

J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

It was dated the 10th of November, 1819, and after some introductory remarks upon the cessation of his correspondence with Lord Byron, it proceeds as follows:—

J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

“I am almost out of life, and I shall speak to you with the freedom of a spirit already arrived beyond the grave: what I now write you may suppose addressed to you in a dream, or by my ghost, which I believe will be greatly inclined to haunt
you, and render you even supernatural service.

Lord Byron's comment

“I take it for granted, my Lord, that when you excluded me from your friendship, you also banished me from your thoughts, and forgot the occurrences of our intimacy. I will, therefore, bring one circumstance to your recollection, as it is introductory to the subject of this letter. One day when I called upon you at your apartments in the Albany, you took up a book in which you had been writing, and having read a few short passages, you said that you intended to fill it with the characters of those then around you, and with present anecdotes, to be published in the succeeding century, and not before; and you enjoyed, by anticipation, the effect that would be produced on the fifth and sixth generations of those to whom you should give niches in your posthumous volume. I have often thought of this fancy of yours, and imagined the wits, the belles,
and the beaux, the dupes of our sex, and the artful and frail ones of the other, figuring at the beginning of the twentieth century in the costume of the early part of the nineteenth. I remember well that after one or two slight sketches you concluded with, ‘This morning
Mr. Dallas was here, &c. &c.’ You went on no farther, but the smile with which you shut your book gave me to understand that the colours you had used for my portrait were not of a dismal hue, and I was inclined enough at the time to digest the flattery, as I was conscious that I deserved your kindness, and believed that you felt so too. But, however that may be, whether the words were a mere flattering impromptu or not, whatever character you may have doomed me to figure in, a hundred years hence, you certainly have not done me justice in this age: it will not, therefore, appear extraordinary if I should not have depended altogether for my character
on the smile with which you put your volume down.

Lord Byron's comment
Lord Byron's comment
Lord Byron's comment

“Lest you should suspect some inconsistency in this, and that although I began by assuring you that I did not mean to complain, my letter has been imagined for no other purpose; I will pause here, to declare to you solemnly that the affection I have felt for you, that the affection I do feel for you, is the motive by which I am at present actuated; and that but for the desire I feel to be of some service to you, you never would have heard from me again while I remained in this life. Were not this the case, this letter would deserve to be considered as an impertinence, and I would scorn to write it. I would give the world to retrieve you; to place you again upon that summit which you reached, I may say on which you alighted, in the spring of 1812. It may be a more arduous attempt, but I see no impossibility; nay, to place you much higher than ever. You
are yet but little beyond the dawn of life—it is downright affectation; it is, I was going to say, folly, to talk of grey hairs and age at twenty-nine. This is free language, my Lord, but not more than you formerly allowed me, and my increased age, and nearer view of eternity confirm the privilege. As a Poet you have indeed wonderfully filled up the years you have attained—as a man you are in your infancy. Like a child you fall and dirt yourself, and your last fall has soiled you more than all the rest. I would to heaven you had not written your last unaccountable
work*, and which, did it not here and there bear internal incontestible evidence, I would suffer no man to call yours. Forgive my warmth—I would rather consider you as a child slipping into mire, that may be washed away, than as a man
Stept in so far, that should he wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

* The first Cantos of Don Juan.

Your absence, and the distance of your abode, leave your name at the mercy of every tatler and scribbler, who, even without being personal enemies, attack character for the mere pleasure of defamation, or for gain; and the life you are said to lead, and I grieve to say the work you have published, leave you no defenders. However you may stand with the world, I cannot but believe that at your age you may shake off all that clogs you in the career for which you were born. The very determination to resume it would be an irresistible claim to new attention from the world; and unshaken perseverance would effect all that you could wish. Imagination has had an ample range. No genius ever attained its meed so rapidly, or more completely; but manhood is the period for reality and action. Will you be content to throw it away for Italian skies and the reputation of eccentricity? May God grant me power to stir
up in your mind the resolution of living the next twenty years in England, engaged in those pursuits to which Providence seems more directly to call every man who by birth is entitled to take a share in the legislation of his country. But what do I say? I believe that I ought first to wish you to take a serious view of the subjects on which legislation turns. Much has been argued in favour of adopting and adhering to a party—I have never been convinced of this—but I am digressing. At all events, I beseech you to think of reinstating yourself in your own country. Preparatory to this, an idea has come into my mind, which it is time for me to state to you; to do which I must return to the seemingly querulous style from which I have digressed. Well then, my Lord, I did some time ago think of your treatment of me with pain; and reflection, without lessening my attachment, showed me that you had acted towards me
very ungenerously, and, indeed, very unjustly—you ought to have made more of me. I say this the more freely now because I have lived till it is become indifferent to me.
It is true that I benefited not inconsiderably by some of your works; but it was not in the nature of money to satisfy or repay me. I felt the pecuniary benefit as I ought, and was not slow in acknowledging it as I ought. The six or seven hundred pounds paid by the purchaser of Childe Harold for the copyright was, in my mind, nothing in comparison with the honour that was due to me for discerning the genius that lay buried in the Pilgrimage, and for exciting you to the publication of it, in spite of the damp which had been thrown upon it in the course of its composition, and in spite of your own reluctance and almost determination to suppress it; nothing in comparison with the kindness that was due to me for the part I took in keeping back your
Hints from Horace, and the new edition of the Satire, till the moment I impressed conviction on your mind that your fame and the choice of your future career in life depended upon the suppression of these, and on the publication of Childe Harold. I made an effort to render you sensible that I was not dead to that better claim, but it was unsuccessful; and though you continued your personal kindness whenever we met, you raised in my mind a jealousy which I was perhaps too proud, if not too mean-spirited, to betray. The result of the feeling, however, was, that I borrowed from you the hint of a posthumous volume, for after awhile I did not much care for the present, and I have indulged meditations on you and on myself for the amusement and judgment of future generations, but with this advantage over you, that I am convinced that I shall participate in whatever effect they produce; and without this conviction
I cannot conceive how the slightest value can be attached to posthumous fame. This is a topic on which I feel an inclination to dwell, but I will conquer the impulse, for my letter is already advanced beyond the limits I proposed. My Lord, my posthumous volume is made up—I look into it occasionally with much pleasure, and I enjoy the thought of being, when it is opened, in the year 1900, in company with your spirit, and of finding you pleased, even in the high sphere you may, if you will, then occupy, which it is possible you would not be, were you to see it now opened to the public in your present sphere. I do not know, my Lord, whether you are able to say as much for your book, for if you do live hereafter, and I have not the slightest doubt but you will, I suspect that you will have company about you at the opening of it, which may rather afford occasion of remorse than of pleasure, however gra-
cious and forgiving you may find immortal spirits. Of you I have written precisely as I think, and as I have found you; and though I have inserted some things which I would not give to the present generation, the whole, as it stands, is a just portrait of you during the time I knew you; for I drop the pencil where you dropped the curtain between us, and the picture is to me an engaging one. I contemplate it together with some parts of your works, and I cannot help breaking forth into the exclamation of ‘And is this man to be lost!’ You, perhaps, echo, in a tone of displeasure, ‘Lost!’—Yes, lost.—Nay, unclench your hand—remember it is my ghost that is addressing you; not the being of flesh and blood whom you may dash from you at your will, as you have done. The man whose place is in the highest council of the first nation in the world, who possesses powers to delight and to serve his
country, if he dissipates years between an Italian country-house and opera-box, and murders his genius in attempts to rival a
Rochester or a Cleland,—for I will not, to flatter you, say a Boccacio or a LaFontaine, who wrote at periods when, and in countries where, indecency was wit—that man is lost. Gracious Heaven! on what lofty ground you stood in the month of March, 1812! The world was before you, not as it was to Adam, driven in tears from Paradise to seek a place of rest, but presenting an elysium, to every part of which its crowded and various inhabitants vied in their welcome of you. ‘Crowds of eminent persons,’ says my posthumous volume, ‘courted an introduction, and some volunteered their cards. This was the trying moment of virtue, and no wonder if that were shaken, for never was there so sudden a transition from neglect to courtship. Glory darted thick upon him from all sides; from the
Prince Regent, and his admirable daughter, to the bookseller and his shopman; from
Walter Scott to ——; from Jeffrey to the nameless critics of the Satirist and Scourge; he was the wonder of wits, and the show of fashion.’ I will not pursue the reverse; but I must repeat, ‘And is this man to be lost!’ My head is full of you, and whether you allow me the merit or not, my heart tells me that I was chiefly instrumental, by my conduct, in 1812, in saving you from perpetuating the enmity of the world, or rather in forcing you, against your will, into its admiration and love; and that I once afterwards considerably retarded your rapid retrograde motion from the envied station which genius merits, but which even genius cannot preserve without prudence. These recollections have actuated me, it may be imprudently, to write you this letter, to endeavour to impel you to reflect seriously upon what you ought to be, and to beseech
you to take steps to render your manhood solidly and lastingly glorious. Will you once more make use of me? I cannot believe that there is an insurmountable bar to your return to your proper station in life,—a station, which let me be bold enough to say, you have no right to quit. All that I have heard concerning you is but vague talk. The breach with
Lady Byron was evidently the ground of your leaving England; and I presume the causes of that breach are what operate upon your spirit in keeping you abroad. In recollecting my principles, you will naturally imagine that the first thing that would occur to my mind in preparing the way for your return, is an endeavour to close that breach—but I am not sufficiently acquainted with her to judge of the force of her opposition. At any rate, I would make the blame rest at her door, if reconciliation is not obtainable; I would be morally right;
and this it is in your power to be, on whichever side the wrong at first lay, by a manly severity to yourself, and by declaring your resolution to forgive, and to banish from your thought for ever all that could interrupt a cordial reconciliation. This step, should it not produce a desirable effect on the mind of Lady Byron, would infallibly lead to the esteem of the world. Is it too much for me to hope that I might, by a letter to her, and by a public account of you, and of your intended pursuits in England, make such a general impression, as once more to fix the eyes of your country upon you with sentiments of new admiration and regard, and usher you again to a glory of a nature superior to all you ever enjoyed. It has, I own, again and again come into my mind, to model my intended posthumous work for present publication, so as to have that effect; could I but prevail upon you to follow it up by a return to
England, with a resolution to lead a philosophical life, and to turn the great powers of your mind to pursuits worthy of them: and, among those, to a candid search after that religious Truth which often, as imagination sobers, becomes more obvious to the ordinary vision of Reason. Once more, my dear
Lord Byron, forgive, or, rather, let me say, reward, my warmth, by listening again to the affection which prompts me to express my desire of serving you. I do not expect the glory of making a religious convert of you. I have still a hope that you will yourself have that glory if your life be spared to the usual length—but my present anxiety is to see you restored to your station in this world, after trials that should induce you to look seriously into futurity.”

J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas
Lord Byron's comment

Such was the affectionate interest with which the author of this letter continued
to regard
Lord Byron! But it was too late; he had hardened his heart, and blunted his perception of the real value of such a friend. This was the last communication that ever took place between them, although an accidental circumstance afforded the assurance that this letter had reached its destination.

To return to the original character of Lord Byron. Whoever has read these pages attentively, or has seen the original documents from whence they are drawn, cannot fail to have perceived, that in his Lordship’s early character there were the seeds of all the evil which has blossomed and borne fruit with such luxuriance in his later years. Nor will it be attempted here, to shew that in any part of his life he was without those seeds; but I think that a candid observer will also be ready to acknowledge, after reading this work, that there was an opposing principle of
good acting in his mind, with a strength which produced opinions that were afterwards entirely altered. The coterie into which he unfortunately fell at Cambridge familiarized him with all the sceptical arguments of human pride. And his acquaintance with an
unhappy atheist—who was suddenly summoned before his outraged Maker, while bathing in the streams of the Cam, was rendered a severe trial, by the brilliancy of the talent which he possessed, and which imparted a false splendour to the principles which he did not scruple to avow. Yet, when Lord Byron speaks of this man, as being an atheist, he considers it offensive;—when he remarks on the work of Mr. Townsend, who had attempted in the sketch of an intended poem to give an idea of the last judgment, he considered his idea as too daring;—in opening his heart to his mother he shows that he believed that God knew, and did all things for the
best;—after having seen mankind in many nations and characters, he unrestrainedly conveys his opinion, that human nature is every where corrupt and despicable. These points are the more valuable, because they flowed naturally and undesignedly from the heart; while, on the contrary, his sceptical opinions were expressed only when the subject was before him, and as it were by way of apology.

When, in this period of his life, there is any thing like argument upon this subject, advanced by him in his correspondence, it is miserably weak and confused. The death of his atheistical friend bewildered him: he thought there was the stamp of immortality in all this person said and did—that he seemed a man created to display what the Creator could make—and yet, such as he was, he had been gathered into corruption, before the maturity of a mind that might have been the pride of posterity.
And this bewildered him! If his opinion of his friend were a just one, ought not this reasoning rather to have produced the conviction, that such a mind could not be gathered into the corruption which awaited the perishable body? Accordingly,
Lord Byron’s inference did not lead him to produce this death as a support to the doctrine of annihilation; but his mind being tinctured previously with that doctrine, he confesses that it bewildered him.

When about to publish Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, containing sceptical opinions, the decided expression of which he was then induced to withdraw, he wrote a note to accompany them, which has been inserted in this work. Its main object is to declare, that his was not sneering, but desponding scepticism—and he grounds his opinions upon the most unlogical deduction that could be formed: that, because he had found many people abuse and disgrace
the religion they professed, that therefore religion was not true. This is like saying, that because a gamester squanders his guineas for his own destruction, they are therefore not gold, nor applicable for good purposes. Weak as this was, he called it an apology for his scepticism.

It cannot be said, that up to this period, Lord Byron was decidedly an unbeliever; but, on the contrary, I think it may be said, that there was a capability in his mind for the reception of Divine Truth,—that he had not closed his eyes to the light which therefore forced its way in with sufficient power to maintain some contest with the darkness of intellectual pride; and this opinion is strengthened, by observing the effects of that lingering light, in the colouring which it gave to vice and virtue in his mind. His conduct had been immoral and dissipated; but he knew it to be such, and acknowledged it in its true colours. He
regretted the indulgence of his passions as producing criminal acts, and bringing him under their government. He expressed these feelings;—he did more, he strove against them. He scrupled not publicly to declare his detestation of the immorality which renders the pages of
Mr. Moore inadmissible into decent society; and he severely satirizes the luxurious excitements to vice which abound in our theatrical importation of Italian manners*. When a circumstance occurred in which one of his tenants had given way to his passions, Lord Byron’s opinion and decision upon the subject were strongly expressed, and his remarks upon that occasion are particularly worthy of notice. He thought our first

* Then let Ausonia, skilled in every art
To soften manners, but corrupt the heart,
Pour her exotic follies o’er the town,
To sanction vice, and hunt decorum down.

duty was not to do evil, though he felt that was impossible. The next duty was to repair the evil we have done, if in our power. He would not afford his tenants a privilege he did not allow himself.—He knew he had been guilty of many excesses, but had laid down a resolution to reform, and latterly kept it.

I mention these circumstances to call to the reader’s mind the general tenor of Lord Byron’s estimate of moral conduct, as it appears in the present work; because I think it may be said that he had a lively perception of what was right, and a strong desire to follow it; but he wanted the regulating influence of an acknowledged standard of sufficient purity, and, at the same time, established by sufficient authority in his mind. The patience of God not only offered him such a standard in religion, but kept his heart in a state of capability for receiving it. In spite of his many
grievings of God’s spirit, still, it would not absolutely desert him as long as he allowed a struggle to continue in his heart.

But the publication of Childe Harold was followed by consequences which seemed to have closed his heart against the long-tarrying spirit of God, and at once to have ended all struggle. Never was there a more sudden transition from the doublings of a mind to which Divine light was yet accessible, to the unhesitating abandonment to the blindness of vice. Lord Byron’s vanity became the ruling passion of his mind. He made himself his own god; and no eastern idol ever received more abject or degrading worship from a bigotted votary.

The circumstances which have been detailed in this work respecting the publication of Childe Harold, prove sufficiently how decided and how lamentable a turn they gave to a character, which, though
wavering and inconsistent for want of the guide I have referred to, had not yet passed all the avenues which might take him from the broad way that leadeth to destruction, into the narrow path of life. But
Lord Byron’s unresisting surrender to the first temptation of intrigue, from which all its accompanying horrors could not affright him, seems to have banished for ever from his heart the Divine influence which could alone defend him against the strength of his passions and the weakness of his nature to resist them; and it is truly astonishing to find the very great rapidity with which he was involved in all the trammels of fashionable vice.

With proportionable celerity his opinions of moral conduct were changed; his power of estimating virtue at any thing like its true value ceased; and his mind became spiritually darkened to a degree as great perhaps as has ever been known to take
place from the results of one step. Witness the course of his life at this time, as detailed in the conversations lately published, to which I have before alluded. Witness the fact of his being capable of detailing such a course of life in familiar conversation to one almost a stranger.

What must have been the change in that man who could at one time write these lines,—
Grieved to condemn, the muse must still be just,
Nor spare melodious advocates of lust;
Pure is the flame that o’er her altar burns,
From grosser incense with disgust she turns;
Yet kind to youth, this expiation o’er,
She bids thee mend thy line, and sin no more—
and at another become the author of
Don Juan, where grosser, more licentious, more degrading images are produced, than could have been expected to have found their way into any mind desirous merely of preserving a decent character in society;—than
could have been looked for from any tongue not habituated to the conversation of the most abandoned of the lowest order of society? What must have been the change in him who, from animadverting severely upon the licentiousness of a village intrigue, could glory in the complication of crimes which give zest to fashionable adultery; and even in the excess of his glorying could forego his title to be called a man of honour or a gentleman, for which the merest coxcomb of the world will commonly restrain himself within some bounds after he has overstepped the narrower limits of religious restraint! For who can venture to call
Lord Byron either one or the other after reading the unrestrained disclosures he is said, in his published Conversations, to have made, “without any injunctions to secrecy.” Who could have imagined that the same man who had observed upon the offensiveness of the expression of another’s irreligious
principles, should ever be capable of offending the world with such awfully fearless impiety as is contained in the latter Cantos of Don Juan, and boldly advanced in
Cain? Who can read, in his own handwriting, the opinion that a sublime and well intentioned anticipation of the Last Judgment is too daring, and puts him in mind of the line—
“And fools rush in where Angels fear to tread,”
and conceive that the same hand wrote his
Vision of Judgment?

J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

Yet such a change did take place, as any one may be convinced of, who will take the trouble to read the present work, and the Conversations to which I have alluded, and compare them together. For, let it be observed, that the few pages in the latter publication which refer to Lord Byron’s religious opinions, state only his old weak reasoning, founded upon the disunion of
professing Christians, some faint, and, I may say, childish wishes; and a disowning of the principles of
Mr. Shelley’s school. So also that solitary reference to a preparation for death, when death stood visibly by his bed-side ready to receive him, which is related by his servant,* and upon which I have known a charitable hope to be hung, amounts to just as much—an assertion. It can only be the most puerile ignorance of the nature of religion, which can receive assertion for proof in such a matter. The very essence of real religion is to let itself be seen in the life, when it is really sown in the heart; and a man who appeals to his assertions to establish his religious character, may be his own dupe, but can never dupe any but such as are like him—just as the lunatic in Bedlam may call himself a king,

* Lord Byron is stated to have said to his servant, “I am not afraid of dying—I am more fit to die than people think.”

and believe it; but it is only those who are as mad as himself who will think themselves his subjects. There is no possibility of hermetically sealing up religion in the heart; if it be there it cannot be confined,—it must extend its influence over the principle of thought, of word, and of action.

When we see wonderful and rapid changes take place in the physical world, we naturally seek for the cause; and it cannot but be useful to trace the cause of so visible a change in the moral world, as that which appears upon the comparison I have pointed out. It will not, I think, be too much to say, that it took place immediately that the resistance against evil ceased in Lord Byron’s mind. Temptation certainly came upon him in an overpowering manner; and the very first temptation was perhaps the worst, yet he yielded to it almost immediately. I refer to the circum-
stance recorded in these pages, which took place little more than a week after the first appearance of
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, when he received an extraordinary anonymous letter, which led immediately to the most disgraceful liaison of which he has not scrupled to boast. There was something so disgusting in the forwardness of the person who wrote, as well as deterring in the enormity of the criminal excesses of which this letter was the beginning, that he should have been roused against such a temptation at the first glance. But the sudden gust of public applause had just blown upon him, and having raised him in its whirlwind above the earth, he had already began to deify himself in his own imagination; and this incense came to him as the first offered upon his altar. He was intoxicated with its fumes; and, closing his mind against the light that had so long
crept in at crevices, and endeavoured to shine through every transparent part, he called the darkness light, and the bitter sweet, and said Peace when there was no Peace.

As long as Lord Byron continued to resist his temptations to evil, and to refrain from exposing publicly his tendency to infidelity, so long he valued the friendship of the author of the foregoing chapters, who failed not to seize every opportunity of supporting the struggle within him, in the earnest hope that the good might ultimately be successful. The contents of this book may give some idea of the nature and constancy of that friendship, and cannot fail of being highly honourable to its author, as well as of reflecting credit on Lord Byron, who, on so many occasions, gave way to its influence. But it is a strong proof of the short-sightedness of man’s
judgment, that upon the most remarkable occasion on which this influence was excited, by inducing him to publish
Childe Harold instead of the Hints from Horace, though the best intentions guided the opinion, it was made the step by which Lord Byron was lost; and he who, in a literary point of view, had justly prided himself upon having withheld so extraordinary a mind from encumbering its future efforts with the dead weight of a work which might have altogether prevented its subsequent buoyancy, and who was alive to the glory of having discerned the neglected merit of the real poem, and of having spread out the wings which took such an eagle flight—having lived to see the rebellious presumption which that towering flight occasioned, and to anticipate the destruction that must follow the audacity, died deeply regretting that he had, even though unconsciously,
ever borne such a part in producing so lamentable a loss. One of the last charges which he gave me upon his death-bed, but a few days before he died, and with the full anticipation of his end, was, not to let this work go forth into the world without stating his sincere feeling of sorrow that ever he had been instrumental in bringing forward Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage to the public, since the publication of it had produced such disastrous effects to one whom he had loved so affectionately, and from whom he had hoped so much good—effects which the literary satisfaction the poem may afford to all the men of taste in the present and future generations, can never, in the slightest degree, compensate.

In obeying this solemn charge I should have concluded these remarks, had I not found, in looking over the manuscript of the work upon this subject, which was
first intended to have been left to posterity as a posthumous offering, and which was written about the year 1819, a passage which appears to me to form a fitter conclusion to this Chapter, and which, therefore, I copy from the author’s writing:—

“I have suffered Time to make a progress unfriendly to the subject to which I had attached so great an interest. Had Providence vouchsafed me the happiness of recording of Lord Byron, from my own knowledge, the renovation of his mind and character, which was the object of my last letter to him, my delight would have supplied me with energy and spirits to continue my narrative, and my observations. Of his course of life subsequent I will not write upon hearsay; but I cannot refrain from expressing my grief, disappointment, and wonder, at the direction which was given
to it by the impulse of his brilliant success as a Poet. It seemed not only to confirm him in his infidelity, but to set him loose from social ties, and render him indifferent to every other praise than that of poetical genius. I am not singular in the cooling of his friendship, if it be not derogatory to call by that name any transient feeling he may have expressed; and his intended posthumous volume will, probably, show this, if he has not, in consequence of what I said to him in my last letter, altered or abandoned it. In the dedications of his poems there is no sincerity; he had neither respect nor regard for the persons to whom they are addressed; and
Lord Holland, Rogers, Davies, and Hobhouse, if earthly knowledge becomes intuitive on retrospection, will see on what grounds I say this, and nod the recognition, and I trust forgiveness of heavenly spirits, if heavenly
their’s become, to the wondering Poet with whose works their names are swimming down the stream of Time. He and they shall have my nod too on the occasion, if, let me humbly add, my prayers shall have availed me beyond the grave.”