LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1811

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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During this period of his stay in Greece, we find him forming one of those extraordinary friendships,—if attachment to persons so inferior to himself can he called by that name,—of which I have already mentioned two or three instances in his younger days, and in which the pride
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of being a protector, and the pleasure of exciting gratitude, seem to have constituted to his mind the chief, pervading charm. The person, whom he now adopted in this manner, and from similar feelings to those which had inspired his early attachments to the cottage-boy near Newstead, and the young chorister at Cambridge, was a Greek youth, named
Nicolo Giraud, the son, I believe, of a widow lady, in whose house the artist, Lusieri, lodged. In this young man he appears to have taken the most lively, and even brotherly, interest;—so much so, as not only to have presented to him, on their parting, at Malta, a considerable sum of money, but to have subsequently designed for him, as the reader will learn, a still more munificent, as well as permanent, provision.

Though he occasionally made excursions through Attica and the Morea, his head-quarters were fixed at Athens, where he had taken lodgings in a Franciscan convent, and, in the intervals of his tours, employed himself in collecting materials for those notices on the state of modern Greece which he has appended to the second Canto of Childe Harold. In this retreat also, as if in utter defiance of the “genius loci,” he wrote his “Hints from Horace,”—a satire which, impregnated as it is with London life from beginning to end, bears the date, “Athens, Capuchin Convent, March 12, 1811.” From the few remaining letters to his mother, I shall content myself with selecting the two following.

“Athens, January 14, 1811.

“I seize an occasion to write as usual, shortly, but frequently, as the arrival of letters, where there exists no regular communication, is, of course, very precarious. * * * I have lately made several small tours of some hundred or two miles about the Morea, Attica, &c, as I have finished my grand giro by the Troad, Constantinople, &c. and am returned down again to Athens. I believe I have mentioned to you more than once, that I swam (in imitation of Leander, though without his lady)
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 245
across the Hellespont, from Sestos to Abydos. Of this, and all other particulars,
F., whom I have sent home with papers, &c. will apprize you. I cannot find, that he is any loss; being tolerably master of the Italian and modern Greek languages, which last I am also studying with a master, I can order and discourse more than enough for a reasonable man. Besides, the perpetual lamentations after beef and beer, the stupid bigoted contempt for every thing foreign, and insurmountable incapacity of acquiring even a few words of any language, rendered him, like all other English servants, an incumbrance. I do assure you, the plague of speaking for him the comforts he required (more than myself by far), the pilaws (a Turkish dish of rice and meat) which he could not eat, the wines which he could not drink, the beds where he could not sleep, and the long list of calamities, such as stumbling horses, want of tea!!! &c., which assailed him, would have made a lasting source of laughter to a spectator, and inconvenience to a master. After all, the man is honest enough, and, in Christendom, capable enough; but in Turkey, Lord forgive me! my Albanian soldiers, my Tartars and Janizary, worked for him and us too, as my friend Hobhouse can testify.

“It is probable I may steer homewards in spring; but, to enable me to do that, I must have remittances. My own funds would have lasted me very well; but I was obliged to assist a friend, who, I know, will pay me; but, in the mean time, I am out of pocket. At present I do not care to venture a winter’s voyage, even if I were otherwise tired of travelling; but I am so convinced of the advantages of looking at mankind instead of reading about them, and the bitter effects of staying at home with all the narrow prejudices of an islander, that I think there should be a law amongst to set our young men abroad, for a term, among the few allies our wars have left us.

“Here I see and have conversed with French, Italians, Germans, Danes, Greeks, Turks, Americans &c. &c. and without losing sight of my own, I can judge of the countries and manners of others. Where I see the superiority of England (which, by the by, we are a good deal mistaken about in many things, I am pleased, and where I find her inferior, I am at least enlightened. Now, I might have staid, smoked in
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your towns, or fogged in your country, a century, without being sure of this, and without acquiring any thing more useful or amusing at home. I keep no journal, nor have I any intention of scribbling my travels. I have done with authorship; 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. I have a famous Bavarian artist taking some views of Athens, &c. &c. for me. This will be better than scribbling, a disease I hope myself cured of. I hope, on my return, to lead a quiet, recluse life, but God knows and does best for us all; at least, so they say, and I have nothing to object, as, on the whole, I have no reason to complain of my lot. I am convinced, however, that men do more harm to themselves than ever the devil could do to them. I trust this will find you well, and as happy as we can be; you will, at least, be pleased to hear I am so, and yours ever.”

“Athens, February 28, 1811.

“As I have received a firman for Egypt, &c. I shall proceed to that quarter in the spring, and I beg you will state to Mr. H. that it is necessary to further remittances. On the subject of Newstead, I answer, as before, no. If it is necessary to sell, sell Rochdale. Fletcher will have arrived by this time with my letters to that purport. I will tell you fairly, I have, in the first place, no opinion of funded property; if, by any particular circumstances, I shall he led to adopt such a determination, I will, at all events, pass my life abroad, as my only tie to England is Newstead, and, that once gone, neither interest nor inclination lead me northward. Competence in your country is simple wealth in the east, such is the difference in value of money and the abundance of
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the necessaries of life; and I feel myself so much a citizen of the world, that the spot where I can enjoy a delicious climate, and every luxury, at a less expense than a common college life in England, will always be a country to me; and such are in fact the shores of the Archipelago. This then is the alternative—if I preserve Newstead, I return; if I sell it, I stay away. I have had no letters since yours of June, but I have written several times, and shall continue, as usual, on the same plan.

“Believe me, yours ever,

“P.S.—I shall, most likely see you in the course of the summer, but, of course, at such a distance, I cannot specify any particular month.”

The voyage to Egypt, which he appears from this letter to have contemplated, was, probably for want of the remittances, relinquished; and, on the 3d of June he set sail from Malta, in the Volage frigate, for England, having, during his short stay at Malta, suffered a severe attack of the tertian fever. The feelings with which he returned home may be collected from the following melancholy letters.

“Volage frigate, at sea, June 29th, 1811.

“In a week, with a fair wind, we shall be at Portsmouth, and on the 2d of July, I shall have completed (to a day) two years of peregrination, from which I am returning with as little emotion as I set out. I think, upon the whole, I was more grieved at leaving Greece than England, which I am impatient to see simply because I am tired of a long voyage.

“Indeed, my prospects are not very pleasant. Embarrassed in my private affairs, indifferent to public, solitary without the wish to be social, with a body a little enfeebled by a succession of fevers, but a spirit, I trust, yet unbroken, I am returning home without a hope, and almost without a desire. The first thing I shall have to encounter will be a lawyer, the next a creditor, then colliers, farmers, surveyors, and all the agreeable attachments to estates out of repair and contested coal-pits.
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In short, I am sick and sorry, and when I have a little repaired my irreparable affairs, away I shall march, either to campaign in Spain, or back again to the East, where I can at least have cloudless skies and a cessation from impertinence.

“I trust to meet, or see you, in town or at Newstead, whenever you can make it convenient—I suppose you are in love and in poetry, as usual. That husband, H. Drury, has never written to me, albeit I have sent him more than one letter;—but I dare say the poor man has a family, and of course all his cares are confined to his circle.
‘For children fresh expenses get,
And Dickey now for school is fit.’
If you see him, tell him I have a letter for him from Tucker, a regimental chirurgeon and friend of his, who prescribed or me, * * * and is a very worthy man, but too fond of hard words. I should be too late for a speech-day, or I should probably go down to Harrow.

* * * * * * *

I regretted very much in Greece having omitted to carry the Anthology with me—I mean Bland and Merivale’s.

* * * * * * *

What has Sir Edgar done? And the Imitations and Translations—where are they? I suppose you don’t mean to let the public off so easily, but charge them home with a quarto. For me, I am ‘sick of fops and poesy and prate,’ and shall leave the ‘whole Castalian state’ to Bufo, or any body else. But you are a sentimental and sensibilitous person, and will rhyme to the end of the chapter. Howbeit I have written some 4000 lines, of one kind or another, on my travels.

“I need not repeat that shall be happy to see you. I shall be in town about the 8th, at Dorant’s Hotel, in Albemarle-street, and proceed in a few days to Notts., and thence to Rochdale on business.

“I am, here and there, yours, &c.”
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“Volage frigate, at sea, June 25th, 1811.

“This letter, which will be forwarded on our arrival at Portsmouth, probably about the fourth of July, is begun about twenty-three days after our departure from Malta. I have just been two years (to a day, on the 2d of July) absent from England, and I return to it with much the same feelings which prevailed on my departure, viz. indifference; but within that apathy I certainly do not comprise yourself, as I will prove by every means in my power. You will be good enough to get my apartments ready at Newstead, but don’t disturb yourself on any account, particularly mine, nor consider me in any other light than as a visitor. I must only inform you that for a long time I have been restricted to an entire vegetable diet, neither fish nor flesh coming within my regimen; so I expect a powerful stock of potatoes, greens, and biscuit: I drink no wine. I have two servants, middle-aged men, and both Greeks. It is my intention to proceed first to town, to see Mr. H * *, and thence to Newstead, on my way to Rochdale. I have only to beg you will not forget my diet, which it is very necessary for me to observe. I am well in health, as I have generally been, with the exception of two agues, both of which I quickly got over.

“My plans will much depend on circumstances, that I shall not venture to lay down an opinion on the subject. My prospects are not very promising, but I suppose we shall wrestle through life like our neighbours; indeed, by H.’s last advices, I have some apprehensions of finding Newstead dismantled by Messrs. Brothers, &c., and he seems determined to force me into selling it, but he will be baffled. I don’t suppose I shall be much pestered with visitors; but if I am, you must receive them, for I am determined to have nobody breaking in upon my retirement: you know that I never was fond of society, and I am less so than before. I have brought you a shawl, and a quantity of attar of
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roses, but these I must smuggle, if possible. I trust to find my library in tolerable order.

Fletcher is no doubt arrived. I shall separate the mill from Mr. B * *’s farm, for his son is too gay a deceiver to inherit both, and place Fletcher in it, who has served me faithfully, and whose wife is a good woman; besides, it is necessary to sober young Mr. B * *, or he will people the parish with bastards. In a word, if he had seduced a dairymaid, he might have found something like an apology; but the girl is his equal, and in high life or low life reparation is made in such circumstances. But I shall not interfere further than (like Buonaparte) by dismembering Mr. B.’s kingdom, and erecting part of it into a principality for field-marshal Fletcher! I hope you govern my little empire and its sad load of national debt with a wary hand. To drop my metaphor, I beg leave to subscribe myself, yours, &c.

“P.S.—This letter was written to be sent from Portsmouth, but, on arriving there, the squadron was ordered to the Nore, from whence I shall forward it. This I have not done before, supposing you might be alarmed by the interval mentioned in the letter being longer than expected between our arrival in port and my appearance at Newstead.”

“Volage frigate, off Ushant, July 17th, 1811.

“After two years’ absence (on the 2d) and some odd days. I am approaching your country. The day of our arrival you will see by the outside date of my letter. At present, we are becalmed comfortably, close to Brest Harbour;—I have never been so near it since I left Duck Puddle, * * * * * * * *
We left Malta thirty-four days ago, and have had a tedious passage of it. You will either see or hear from or of me, soon after the receipt of this, as I pass through town to repair my irreparable affairs; and thence I want to go to Notts. and raise rents, and to Lancs, and sell collieries,
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and back to London and pay debts,—for it seems I shall neither have coals or comfort till I go down to Rochdale in person.

“I have brought home some marbles for Hobhouse;—for myself, four ancient Athenian skulls*, dug out of Sarcophagi—a phial of attic hemlock†—four live tortoises—a greyhound (died on the passage)—two live Greek servants, one an Athenian, t’ other a Yaniote, who can speak nothing but Romaic and Italian—and myself, as Moses in the Vicar of Wakefield says, slily, and I may say it too, for I have as little cause to boast of my expedition as he had of his to the fair.

“I wrote to you from the Cyanean Rocks, to tell you I had swam from Sestos to Abydos—have you received my letter? * * *
Hodgson, I suppose, is four deep by this time. What would he have given to have seen, like me, the real Parnassus, where I robbed the Bishop of Chrissaæ of a book of geography;—but this I only call plagiarism, as it was done within an hour’s ride of Delphi.”

Having landed the young pilgrim once more in England, it may be worth while, before we accompany him into the scenes that awaited him at home, to consider how far the general character of his mind and disposition may have been affected by the course of travel and adventure, in which he had been, for the last two years, engaged. A life less savouring of poetry and romance than that which he had pursued previously to his departure on his travels, it would be difficult to imagine. In his childhood, it is true, he had been a dweller and wanderer among scenes well calculated, according to the ordinary notion, to implant the first rudiments of poetic feeling. But, though the poet may afterwards feed on the recollection of such scenes, it is more than questionable, as has been already observed, whether he ever has been formed by them. If a childhood, indeed, passed among mountainous scenery were so favourable to the awakening of the imaginative power, both the Welsh, among ourselves, and the Swiss, abroad, ought to rank much higher on the scale of poetic excellence than they do at present. But, even allowing the picturesqueness of his early haunts to have had some share in giving a

* Given afterwards to Sir Walter Scott.

† At present in the possession of Mr. Murray.

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direction to the fancy of Byron, the actual operation of this influence, whatever it may have been, ceased with his childhood; and the life which he led afterwards, during his school-days at Harrow, was,—as, naturally, the life of so idle and daring a schoolboy must be,—the very reverse of poetical. For a soldier or an adventurer, the course of training through which he then passed would have been perfect;—his athletic sports, his battles, his love of dangerous enterprise, gave every promise of a spirit fit for the most stormy career. But to the meditative pursuits of poesy, these dispositions seemed, of all others, the least friendly; and, however they might promise to render him, at some future time, a subject for bards, gave, assuredly, but little hope of his shining first among bards himself.

The habits of his life at the university were even still less intellectual and literary. While a schoolboy, he had read abundantly and eagerly, though desultorily; but even this discipline of his mind, irregular and undirected as it was, he had, in a great measure, given up, after leaving Harrow; and among the pursuits that occupied his academic hours, those of playing at hazard, sparring, and keeping a bear and bull-dogs, were, if not the most favourite, at least, perhaps, the most innocent. His time in London passed equally unmarked either by mental cultivation or refined amusement. Having no resources in private society, from his total want of friends and connexions, he was left to live loosely about town among the loungers in coffeehouses; and to those who remember what his two favourite haunts, Limmer’s and Stevens’s, were at that period, it is needless to say that, whatever else may have been the merits of these establishments, they were any thing but fit schools for the formation of poetic character.

But however incompatible such a life must have been with those habits of contemplation, by which, and which only, the faculties he had already displayed could be ripened, or those that were still latent could be unfolded, yet, in another point of view, the time, now apparently squandered by him, was, in after-days, turned most invaluably to account. By thus initiating him into a knowledge of the varieties of human character,—by giving him an insight into the details of society, in their least artificial form,—in short, by mixing him up, thus early, with the world, its businesses and its pleasures, his London life but contributed its share
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in forming that wonderful combination, which his mind afterwards exhibited, of the imaginative and the practical—the heroic and the humorous—of the keenest and most dissecting views of real life, with the grandest and most spiritualized conceptions of ideal grandeur.

To the same period, perhaps, another predominant characteristic of his maturer mind and writings may be traced. In this anticipated experience of the world which his early mixture with its crowd gave him, it is but little probable that many of the more favourable specimens of human kind should have fallen under his notice. On the contrary, it is but too likely that some of the lightest and least estimable of both sexes may have been among the models, on which, at an age when impressions sink deepest, his earliest judgments of human nature were formed. Hence, probably, those contemptuous and debasing views of humanity, with which he was so often led to alloy his noblest tributes to the loveliness and majesty of general nature. Hence the contrast that appeared between the fruits of his imagination and of his experience,—between those dreams, full of beauty and kindliness, with which the one teemed at his bidding, and the dark, desolating bitterness that overflowed when he drew from the other.

Unpromising, however, as was his youth of the high destiny that awaited him, there was one unfailing characteristic of the imaginative order of minds—his love of solitude—which very early gave signs of those habits of self-study and introspection, by which alone the “diamond quarries” of genius are worked and brought to light. When but a boy, at Harrow, he had shown this disposition strongly,—being often known, as I have already mentioned, to withdraw himself from his playmates, and sitting alone upon a tomb in the churchyard, give himself up, for hours, to thought. As his mind began to disclose its resources, this feeling grew upon him; and, had his foreign travel done no more than, by detaching him from the distractions of society, to enable him, solitarily and freely, to commune with his own spirit, it would have been an all-important step gained towards the full expansion of his faculties. It was only then, indeed, that he began to feel himself capable of the abstraction which self-study requires, or to enjoy that freedom from the intrusion of others’ thoughts, which alone leaves the contemplative mind master of its
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own. In the solitude of his nights at sea, in his lone wanderings through Greece, he had sufficient leisure and seclusion to look within himself, and there catch the first “glimpses of his glorious mind.” One of his chief delights, as he mentioned in his “
Memoranda,” was, when bathing in some retired spot, to seat himself on a high rock above the sea, and there remain for hours, gazing upon the sky and the waters, and lost in that sort of vague reverie, which, however formless and indistinct at the moment, settled afterwards, on his pages, into those clear, bright pictures, which will endure for ever.

Were it not for the doubt and diffidence that hang round the first steps of genius, this growing consciousness of his own power, these openings into a new domain of intellect where he was to reign supreme, must have made the solitary hours of the young traveller one dream of happiness. But it will be seen that, even yet, he distrusted his own strength, nor was at all aware of the height to which the spirit he was now calling up would grow. So enamoured, nevertheless, had he become of these lonely musings, that even the society of his fellow-traveller, though with pursuits so congenial to his own, grew at last to be a chain and a burthen on him; and it was not till he stood, companionless, on the shore of the little island in the Ægean that he found his spirit breathe freely. If any stronger proof were wanting of his deep passion for solitude, we shall find it, not many years after, in his own written avowal, that even, when in the company of the woman he most loved, he not unfrequently found himself sighing to be alone.

It was not only, however, by affording him the concentration necessary for this silent drawing out of his feelings and powers, that

* To this be alludes in those beautiful stanzas,

“To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,” &c.

Alfieri, before his dramatic genius had yet unfolded itself, used to pass hours, as he tells us, in this sort of dreaming state, gazing upon the ocean:—“Après le spectacle un de mes amusemens, à Marseille, étoit de me beigner presque tous les soirs dans la mer. J’avais trouvé un petit endroit fort agréable, sur une langue de terre placée à droite hors du port, où, en m’asseyant sur le sable, le dos appuyé contre un petit rocher qui empêchait qu’on ne pût me voir du coté de la terre, je n’avais plus devant moi que la ciel et la mer. Entre ces deux immensitiés qu’embellissaient les rayons d’un soleil couchant, je passai en rêvant des heures delicieuses; et là, je serais devenu poëte, si j’avais su écrlre dans une langue quelconque.”

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travel conduced so essentially to the formation of his poetical character. To the East he had looked, with the eyes of romance, from his very childhood. Before he was ten years of age, the perusal of
Rycaut’s History of the Turks had taken a strong hold of his imagination, and he read eagerly, in consequence, every book concerning the East he could find. In visiting, therefore, those countries, he was but realizing the dreams of his childhood; and this return of his thoughts to that innocent time gave a freshness and purity to their current which they had long wanted. Under the spell of such recollections, the attraction of novelty was among the least that the scenes, through which he wandered, presented, Fond traces of the past—and few have ever retained them so vividly—mingled themselves with the impressions of the objects before him; and as, among the Highlands, he had often traversed, in fancy, the land of the Moslem, so memory, from the wild hills of Albania, now “carried him back to Morven.”

While such sources of poetic feeling were stirred at every step, there was also in his quick change of place and scene—in the diversity of men and manners surveyed by him—in the perpetual hope of adventure and thirst of enterprise, such a succession and variety of ever fresh excitement as not only brought into play, but invigorated, all the energies of his character: as he, himself, describes his mode of living, it was “To-day in a palace, to-morrow in a cow-house—this day with the Pacha, the next with a shepherd.” Thus were his powers of observation

* But a few months before he died, in a conversation with Mavrocordato at Missolonghi, Lord Byron said—“The Turkish History was one of the first books that gave me pleasure when a child; and I believe it had much Influence on my subsequent wishes to visit the Levant, and gave perhaps the oriental colouring which is observed in my poetry.”—Count Gamba’s Narrative.

In the last edition of Mr. D’Israeli’s work on “the Literary Character,” that gentleman has given some curious marginal notes, which he found written by Lord Byron in a copy of this work that belonged to him. Among them is the following enumeration of the writers that, besides Rycaut, had drawn his attention so early to the East:—

Knolles, Cantemir, De Tott, Lady M. W. Montague, Hawkins’s Translation from Mignot’s History of the Turks, the Arabian Nights, all travels, or histories, or books upon the East I could meet with, I had read, as well as Rycaut, before I was ten years old. I think, the Arabian Nights first. After these, I preferred the history of naval actions, Don Quixote and Smollet’s novels, particularly Roderick Random, and I was passionate for the Roman History. When a boy, I could never bear to read any Poetry whatever without disgust and reluctance.”

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quickened, and the impressions on his imagination multiplied. Thus schooled, too, in some of the roughnesses and privations of life, and, so far, made acquainted with the flavour of adversity, he learned to enlarge, more than is common in his high station, the circle of his sympathies, and became inured to that manly and vigorous cast of thought which is so impressed on all his writings. Nor must we forget, among these strengthening and animating effects of travel, the ennobling excitement of danger, which he more than once experienced,—having been placed in situations, both on land and sea, well calculated to call forth that pleasurable sense of energy, which perils, calmly confronted, never fail to inspire.

The strong interest which—in spite of his assumed philosophy on this subject, in Childe Harold—he took in every thing connected with a life of warfare, found frequent opportunities of gratification, not only on board the English ships of war in which he sailed, but in his occasional intercourse with the soldiers of the country. At Salora, a solitary place on the Gulf of Arta, he once passed two or three days, lodged in a small miserable barrack. Here, he lived the whole time, familiarly, among the soldiers; and a picture of the singular scene which their evenings presented—of those wild, half-bandit warriors, seated round the young poet, and examining with savage admiration, his fine Manton gun* and English sword—might be contrasted, but too touchingly, with another and a later picture of the same poet dying, as a chieftain, on the same land, with Suliotes for his guards and all Greece for his mourners.

It is true, amid all this stimulating variety of objects, the melancholy which he had brought from home still lingered around his mind. To Mr. Adair and Mr. Bruce, as I have before mentioned, he gave the idea of a person labouring under deep dejection; and Colonel Leake, who was, at that time, resident at Ioannina, conceived very much the same impression of the state of his mind†. But assuredly, even this

* “It rained hard the next day, and we spent another evening with our soldiers. The captain, Elmas, tried a fine Manton gun belonging to my Friend, and hitting his mark every time was highly delighted.”—Hobhouse’s Journey, &c.

† It must be recollected that by two of these gentlemen he was seen chiefly under the restraints of presentation and etiquette, when whatever gloom there was on his spirits would, in a shy nature like his, most show itself. The account which his fellow-traveller gives of him is

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melancholy, habitually as it still clung to him, must, under the stirring and healthful influences of his roving life, have become a far more elevated and abstract feeling than it ever could have expanded to within reach of those annoyances, whose tendency was to keep it wholly concentrated round self. Had he remained idly at home, he would have sunk, perhaps, into a querulous satirist. But as his views opened on a freer and wider horizon, every feeling of his nature kept pace with their enlargement; and this inborn sadness, mingling itself with the effusions of his genius, became one of the chief constituent charms not only of their pathos, but their grandeur. For, when did ever a sublime thought spring up in the soul, that melancholy was not to be found, however latent, in its neighbourhood?

We have seen, from the letters written by him on his passage homeward, how far from cheerful or happy was the state of mind in which he returned, in truth, even for a disposition of the most sanguine cast, there was quite enough in the discomforts that now awaited him in England, to sadden its hopes and check its buoyancy. “To be happy at home,” says Johnson, “is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.” But Lord Byron had no home,—at least none that deserved this endearing name. A fond, family circle, to accompany him with its prayers, while away, and draw round him, with listening eagerness, on his return, was what, unluckily, he never knew, though with a heart, as we have seen, by nature formed for

altogether different, in introducing the narration of a short tour to Negroponte, in which his noble friend was unable to accompany him, Mr. Hobhouse expresses strongly the deficiency, of which he is sensible, from the absence, on this occasion, of “a companion, who, to quickness of observation and ingenuity of remark, united that gay good-humour which keeps alive the attention under the pressure of fatigue and softens the aspect of every difficulty and danger” In some lines, too, of the “Hints from Horace,” addressed evidently to Mr. Hobhouse, Lord Byron not only renders the same justice to his own social cheerfulness, but gives a somewhat more distinct idea of the frame of mind out of which it rose:—

“Moschus! with whom I hope once more to sit,
And smile at folly, if we can’t at wit;
Yea, friend, for thee I’ll quit my Cynic cell,
And bear Swift’s motto, ‘Vive la bagatelle!’
Which charm’d our days in each Ægean clime,
And oft at home with revelry and rhyme.”

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it. In the absence, too, of all that might cheer and sustain, he had every thing to encounter that could distress and humiliate. To the dreariness of a home without affection was added the burden of an establishment without means, and he had thus all the embarrassments of domestic life without its charms. His affairs had, during his absence, been suffered to fall into confusion, even greater than their inherent tendency to such a state warranted. There had been, the preceding year, an execution on Newstead, for a debt of £1500 owing to the Messrs. Brothers, upholsterers; and a circumstance, told of the veteran,
Joe Murray, on this occasion, well deserves to be mentioned. To this faithful old servant, jealous of the ancient honour of the Byrons, the sight of the notice of sale, pasted up on the abbey-door, could not be otherwise than an unsightly and intolerable nuisance. Having enough, however, of the fear of the law before his eyes, not to tear the writing down, he was at last forced, as his only consolatory expedient, to paste a large piece of brown paper over it.

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. Of this letter, which, from its date, ought to have preceded some of the others that have been given, I shall here lay before the reader the most material parts.

“Volage Frigate, at sea, June 28th, 1811.

“After two years’ absence (to a day, on the 2d of July, before which we shall not arrive at Portsmouth), I am retracing my way to England.

* * * * * * *

“I am coming back with little prospect of pleasure at home, and with a body a little shaken by one or two smart fevers, but a spirit I hope yet
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 259
unbroken. My affairs, it seems, are considerably involved, and much business must be done with lawyers, colliers, farmers, and creditors. Now this, to a man who hates bustle as he hates a bishop, is a serious concern. But enough of my home department.

* * * * * * *

“My Satire, it seems, is in a fourth edition, a success rather above the middling run, but not much for a production which, from its topics, must be temporary, and of course be successful at first, or not at all. At this period, when I can think and act more coolly, I regret that I have written it, though I shall probably find it forgotten by all except those whom it has offended.

“Yours and Pratt’s protégé, Blackett, the cobbler, is dead, in spite of his rhymes, and is probably one of the instances where death has saved a man from damnation. You were the ruin of that poor fellow amongst you: had it not been for his patrons, he might now have been in very good plight, shoe- (not verse-) making: but you have made him immortal with a vengeance. I write this, supposing poetry, patronage, and strong waters to have been the death of him. If you are in town in or about the beginning of July, you will find me at Dorant’s, in Albemarle-street, glad to see you. 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. I shall quit town in a few days for Notts., and thence to Rochdale. Yours, &c.”

Immediately, on Lord Byron’s arrival in London, Mr. Dallas called upon him. “On the 15th of July,” says this gentleman, “I had the pleasure of shaking hands with him at Reddish’s Hotel in St. James’s-street. I thought his looks belied the report he had given me of his bodily health, and his countenance did not betoken melancholy, or displeasure at his return. He was very animated in the account of his travels, but assured me he had never had the least idea of writing them. He said he believed satire to be his forte, and to that he had adhered, having written, during his stay at different places abroad, a Paraphrase of Horace’s Art of Poetry, which would be a good finish to English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. He seemed to promise himself additional fame
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from it, and I undertook to superintend its publication, as I had done that of the Satire. I had chosen the time ill for my visit, and we had hardly any time to converse uninterruptedly, he therefore engaged me to breakfast with him next morning.”

In the interval Mr. Dallas looked over this Paraphrase, which he had been permitted by Lord Byron to take home with him for the purpose, and his disappointment was, as he himself describes it, “grievous,” on finding, that a pilgrimage of two years to the inspiring lands of the East had been attended with no richer poetical result. On their meeting again next morning, though unwilling to speak disparagingly of the work, he could not refrain, as he informs us, from expressing some surprise that his noble friend should have produced nothing else during his absence. “Upon this,” he continues, “Lord Byron told me that he had occasionally written short poems, besides a great many stanzas in Spenser’s measure, relative to the countries he had visited. ‘They are not worth troubling you with, but you shall have them all with you, if you like.’ So came I by Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. He took it from a small trunk, with a number of verses. He said they had been read but by one person, who had found very little to commend and much to condemn: that he himself was of that opinion, and he was sure I should be so too. Such as it was, however, it was at my service: but he was urgent that ‘The Hints from Horace’ should be immediately put in train, which I promised to have done.”

The value of the treasure thus presented to him, Mr. Dallas was not slow in discovering. That very evening he despatched a letter to his noble friend, saying—“You have written one of the most delightful poems I ever read. If I wrote this in flattery, I should deserve your contempt rather than your friendship. I have been so fascinated with Childe Harold that I have not been able to lay it down. I would almost pledge my life on its advancing the reputation of your poetical powers, and on its gaining you great honour and regard, if you will do me the credit and favour of attending to my suggestions respecting,” &c. &c. &c.

Notwithstanding this just praise, and the secret echo it must have found in a heart so awake to the slightest whisper of fame, it was some
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 261
time before Lord Byron’s obstinate repugnance to the idea of publishing
Childe Harold could be removed.

“Attentive,” says Mr. Dallas, “as he had hitherto been to my opinions and suggestions, and natural as it was that he should be swayed by such decided praise, I was surprised to find that I could not at first obtain credit with him for my judgment on Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. ‘It was any thing but poetry—it had been condemned by a good critic—had I not myself seen the sentences on the margins of the manuscript?’ He dwelt upon the Paraphrase of the Art of Poetry with pleasure, and the manuscript of that was given to Cawthorn, the publisher of the Satire, to be brought forth without delay. I did not, however, leave him so: before I quitted him I returned to the charge, and told him that I was so convinced of the merit of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, that, as he had given it to me, I should certainly publish it, if he would have the kindness to attend to some corrections and alterations.”

Among the many instances, recorded in literary history, of the false judgments of authors respecting their own productions, this preference given by Lord Byron to a work so little worthy of his genius, over a poem of such rare and original beauty as the first Cantos of Childe Harold, may be accounted, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary and inexplicable*. “It is in men as in soils,” says Swift, “where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not of.” But Lord Byron had made the discovery of the vein, without, as it would seem, being aware of its value. I have already had occasion to observe that, even while occupied with the composition of Childe Harold, it is questionable whether he himself was yet fully conscious of the new powers, both of thought and feeling, that had been awakened in him; and the strange estimate we now find him forming of his own production appears to warrant the remark. It would seem, indeed, as if, while the imaginative powers of his mind had received such an impulse forward, the faculty of

* It Is, however, less wonderful that authors should thus misjudge their productions, when whole generations have sometimes fallen into the same sort of error. The Sonnets of Petrarch were, by the learned of his day, considered only worthy of the ballad-singers by whom they were chanted about the streets; while his Epic Poem, “Africa,” of which few now oven know the existence, was sought for on all sides, and the smallest fragment of it begged from the author, for the libraries of the learned.

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judgment, slower in its developement, was still immature, and that of self-judgment, the most difficult of all, still unattained.

On the other hand, from the deference which particularly at this period of his life, he was inclined to pay to the opinions of those with whom he associated, it would be fairer, perhaps, to conclude that this erroneous valuation arose rather from a diffidence in his own judgment than from any deficiency of it. To his college companions, almost all of whom were his superiors in scholarship, and some of them even, at this time, his competitors in poetry, he looked up with a degree of fond and admiring deference, for which his ignorance of his own intellectual strength alone could account; and the example, as well as tastes, of these young writers being mostly on the side of established models, their authority, as long as it influenced him, would, to a certain degree, interfere with his striking confidently into any new or original path. That some remains of this bias, with a little leaning, perhaps towards school-recollections*, may have had a share in prompting his preference of the Horatian Paraphrase, is by no means improbable;—at least, that it was enough to lead him, untried as he had yet been in the new path, to content himself, for the present, with following up his success in the old. We have seen, indeed, that the manuscript of the two Cantos of Childe Harold had, previously to its being placed in the hands of Mr. Dallas, been submitted by the noble author to the perusal of some friend—the first and only one, it appears, who at that time had seen them. Who this fastidious critic was, Mr. Dallas has not mentioned; but the sweeping tone of censure in which he conveyed his remarks was such as, at any period of his career, would have disconcerted the judgment of one, who, years after, in all the plenitude of his fame, confessed, that “the depreciation of the lowest of mankind was more painful to him than the applause of the highest was pleasing†.”

* Gray, under the influence of a similar predilection, preferred, for a long time, his Latin poems to those by which he has gained such a station in English literature. “Shall we attribute this,” says Mason, “to his having been educated at Eton, or to what other cause? Certain it is, that when I first knew him, he seemed to set a greater value on his Latin poetry than on that which he had composed in his native language.”

† One of the manuscript notes of Lord Byron on Mr. D’Israeli’s work, already referred to.—Vol. i. p. 144.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 263

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 opening of the poem is, with reference to the original, ingenious:—

“Who would not laugh, if Lawrence, hired to grace
His costly canvas with each flatter’d face,
Abused his art, till Nature, with a blush,
Saw cits grow centaurs underneath his brush?
Or should some limner join, for show or sale,
A maid of honour to a mermaid’s tall?
Or low Dubost (as once the world has seen)
Degrade God’s creatures in his graphic spleen?
Not all that forced politeness, which defends
Fools in their faults, could gag his grinning friends.
Believe me, Moschus, like that picture seems
The book, which sillier than a sick man’s dreams,
Displays a crowd of figures incomplete,
Poetic nightmares, without head or feet.”

The following is pointed, and felicitously expressed:—

“Then glide down Grub-street, fasting and forgot,
Laugh’d into Lethe by some quaint Review,
Whose wit is never troublesome till—true.”

Of the graver parts, the annexed is a favourable specimen;—

“New words find credit in these latter days,
If neatly grafted on a Gallic phrase:
What Chaucer, Spenser, did, we scarce refuse
To Dryden’s or to Pope’s maturer muse.
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If you can add a little, say, why not,
As well as William Pitt and Walter Scott,
Since they, by force of rhyme, and force of lungs,
Enrich’d our island’s ill-united tongues?
’Tis then, and shall be, lawful to present
Reforms in writing as in parliament.
As forests shed their foliage by degrees,
So fade expressions which in season please;
And we and ours, alas! are due to fate,
And works and words but dwindle to a date.
Though, as a monarch nods and commerce calls,
Impetuous rivers stagnate in canals;
Though swamps subdued, and marshes drain’d, sustain
The heavy ploughshare and the yellow grain;
And rising ports along the busy shore
Protect the vessel from old Ocean’s roar—
All, all must perish. But, surviving last,
The love of letters half preserves the past:
True,—some decay, yet not a few survive,
Though those shall sink which now appear to thrive,
As custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.”

I quote what follows chiefly for the sake of the note attached to it:—

“Satiric rhyme first sprang from selfish spleen.
You doubt?—See Dryden, Pope, St. Patrick’s Dean*.
Blank verse is now with one consent allied
To tragedy, and rarely quits her side;—
Though mad Almanzor rhymed in Dryden’s days,
No sing-song hero rants in modern plays;—
While modest comedy her verse foregoes
For jest and pun in very middling prose.

* “MacFlecknoe, the Dunciad, and all Swift’s lampooning ballads—Whatever their other works may be, these originated in personal feelings and angry retort on unworthy rivals; and though the ability of these satires elevates the poetical, their poignancy detracts from the personal, character of the writers.”

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 265
Not that our Bens or Beaumonts show the worse,
Or lose one point because they wrote in verse;
But so Thalia pleases to appear,—
Poor virgin!—damn’d some twenty times a year!”

There is more of poetry in the following verses upon Milton than in any other passage throughout the Paraphrase:—

“‘Awake a louder and a loftier strain’—
And, pray, what follows from his boiling brain?
He sinks to S * *’s level in a trice,
Whose epic mountains never fail in mice!
Not so of yore awoke your mighty sire
The temper’d warblings of his master lyre;
Soft as the gentler breathing of the lute,
‘Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit’
He speaks; but as his subject swells along,
Earth, Heaven, and Hades, echo with the song.”

The annexed sketch contains some lively touches:—

“Behold him Freshman!—forced no more to groan
O’er Virgil’s devilish verses*, and—his own;
Prayers are too tedious, lectures too abstruse,
He flies from T—ll’s frown to ‘Fordham’s Mews;’
(Unlucky T—ll, doom’d to daily cares
By pugilistic pupils and by bears!)
Fines, tutors, tasks, conventions, threat in vain,
Before hounds, hunters, and Newmarket plain:
Rough with his elders; with his equals rash;
Civil to sharpers; prodigal of cash.
* * * * *

* “Harvey, the circulator of the circulation of the blood, used to fling away Virgil in his ecstasy of admiration, and say, ‘the book had a devil.’ Now, such a character as I am copying would probably fling it away also, but rather wish that the devil had the book; not from dislike to the poet, but a well-founded horror of hexameters. Indeed, the public-school penance of ‘Long and Short’ is enough to beget an antipathy to poetry for the residue of a man’s life, and perhaps so far may be an advantage.”

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Fool’d, pillaged, dunn’d, he wastes his terms away;
And, unexpell’d perhaps, retires M. A.:—
Master of Arts!—as Hells and Clubs* proclaim,
Where scarce a blackleg bears a brighter name.
Launch’d into life, extinct his early fire,
He apes the selfish prudence of his sire;
Marries for money; chooses friends for rank;
Buys land, and shrewdly trusts not to the Bank;
Sits in the senate; gets a son and heir;
Sends him to Harrow—for himself was there;
Mute though he votes, unless when call’d to cheer,
His son’s so sharp—he’ll see the dog a peer!
Manhood declines; age palsies every limb;
He quits the scene, or else the scene quits him;
Scrapes wealth, o’er each departing penny grieves,
And Avarice seizes all Ambition leaves;
Counts cent. per cent. and smiles, or vainly frets
O’er hoards diminish’d by young Hopeful’s debts;
Weighs well and wisely what to sell or buy,
Complete in all life’s lessons—but to die;
Peevish and spiteful, doting, hard to please,
Commending every time save times like these;
Crazed, querulous, forsaken, half forgot,
Expires unwept, is buried—let him rot!”

In speaking of the opera, he says:—

“Hence the pert shopkeeper, whose throbbing ear
Aches with orchestras which he pays to hear,
Whom shame, not sympathy, forbids to snore,
His anguish doubled by his own ‘encore!’
Squeezed in ‘Fop’s Alley,’ jostled by the beaux,
Teazed with his hat, and trembling for his toes,
Scarce wrestles through the night, nor tastes of ease
Till the dropp’d curtain gives a glad release:
Why this and more be suffers, can ye guess?—
Because it costs him dear, and makes him dress!”

* “‘Hell,’ a gaming-house so called, where you risk little and are cheated a good deal: ‘Club,’ a pleasant purgatory, where you lose more, and are not supposed to be cheated at all.”

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 267

The concluding couplet of the following lines is amusingly characteristic of that mixture of fun and bitterness with which their author sometimes spoke in conversation;—so much so that those who knew him might almost fancy they hear him utter the words:—

But every thing has faults, nor is ’t unknown
That harps and fiddles often lose their tone,
And wayward voices at their owner’s call,
With all his best endeavours, only squall;
Dogs blink their covey, flints withhold the spark,
And double barrels (damn them) miss their mark*!”

One more passage, with the humorous note appended to it, will complete the whole amount of my favourable specimens:—

“And that’s enough—then write and print so fast,—
If Satan take the hindmost, who’d be last?
They storm the types, they publish one and all,
They leap the counter, and they leave the stall:—
Provincial maidens, men of high command,
Yea, baronets, have ink’d the bloody hand!
Cash cannot quell them—Pollio play’d this prank:
(Then Phœbus first found credit in a bank!)
Not all the living only, but the dead
Fool on, as fluent as an Orpheus’ head!
Damn’d all their days, they posthumously thrive,
Dug up from dust, though buried when alive!
Reviews record this epidemic crime,
Those books of martyrs to the rage for rhyme:
Alas! woe worth the scribbler, often seen
There lurk his earlier lays, but soon, hot-press’d,
Behold a quarto!—tarts must tell the rest!
Then leave, ye wise, the lyres precarious chords
To muse-mad baronets or madder lords,

* “As Mr. Pope took the liberty of damning Homer, to whom he was under great obligations—‘And Homer (damn him) calls’—it may be presumed that any body or any thing may be damned in verse by poetical licence; and in case of accident, I beg leave to plead so illustrious a precedent.”

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Or country Crispins, now grown somewhat stale,
Twin Doric minstrels, drunk with Doric ale!
Hark to those notes, narcotically soft,
The cobbler-laureates sing to Capel Lofft*!”

From these select specimens, which comprise, altogether, little more than an eighth of the whole Poem, the reader may be enabled to form some notion of the remainder, which is, for the most part, of a very inferior quality, and, in some parts descending to the depths of doggerel. Who, for instance, could trace the hand of Byron in such “prose, fringed with rhyme,” as the following?—

“Peace to Swift’s faults! his wit hath made them pass
Unmatch’d by all, save, matchless Hudibras,
Whose author is perhaps the first we meet
Who from our couplet lopp’d two final feet;

* “This well-meaning gentleman has spoilt some excellent shoemakers and been accessory to the poetical undoing of many of the industrious poor. Nathaniel Bloomfield and his brother Bobby have set all Somersetshire singing. Nor has the malady confined itself to one county. Pratt, too (who once was wiser), has caught the contagion of patronage, and decoyed a poor fellow, named Blackett, into poetry; but he died during the operation, leaving one child and two volumes of ‘Remains,’ utterly destitute. The girl, if she don’t take a poetical twist, and come forth as a shoemaking Sappho, may do well, but the ‘Tragedies’ are as rickety as if they had been the offspring of an Earl or a Seatonian prize-poet. The patrons of this poor lad are certainly answerable for his end, and it ought to be an indictable offence. But this is the least they have done; for, by a refinement of barbarity, they have made the (late) man posthumously ridiculous, by printing what he would have had sense enough never to print himself. Certes, these rakers of ‘Remains’ come under the statute against resurrection-men. What does it signify whether a poor dear dead dunce is to be stuck up in Surgeons’ or in Stationers’ Hall? is it so bad to unearth his bones as his blunders? is it not better to gibbet his body on a heath than his soul in an octavo? ‘We know what we are, but we know not what we may be,’ and it is to be hoped we never shall know, if a man who has passed through life with a sort of éclat is to find himself a mountebank on the other side of Styx, and made, like poor Joe Blackett, the laughing stock of purgatory. The plea of publication is to provide for the child. Now, might not some of this ‘sutor ultra crepidam’s’ friends and seducers have done a decent action without inveigling Pratt into biography? And then, his inscription split into so many modicums! ‘To the Duchess of So Much, the Right Honble. So-and-so, and Mrs. and Miss Somebody, these volumes are,’ &c. &c. Why, this is doling out the ‘soft milk of dedication’ in gills; there is but a quart, and he divides it among a dozen. Why, Pratt! hadst thou not a puff left? dost thou think six families of distinction can share this in quiet? There is a child, a book, and a dedication: send the girl to her grace, the volumes to the grocer, and the dedication to the d-v-l.”

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 269
Nor less in merit than the longer line
This measure moves, a favourite of the Nine.
* * * * *
Though at first view, eight feet may seem in vain
Form’d, save in odes, to bear a serious strain,
Yet Scott has shown our wondering isle of late
This measure shrinks not from a theme of weight,
And varied skilfully, surpasses far
Heroic rhyme, but most in love or war,
Whose fluctuations, tender or sublime,
Are curb’d too much by long recurring rhyme.
* * * * *
In sooth, I do not know, or greatly care
To learn, who our first English strollers were,
Or if—till roofs received the vagrant art—
Our Muse—like that of Thespis—kept a cart.
But this is certain, since our Shakspeare’s days,
There’s pomp enough, if little else, in plays;
Nor will Melpomene ascend her throne
Without high heels, white plume, and Bristol stone.
* * * * *
Where is that living language which could claim
Poetic more, as philosophic fame,
If all our bards, more patient of delay,
Would stop like Pope to polish by the way?”

In tracing the fortunes of men, it is not a little curious to observe, how often the course of a whole life has depended on one single step. Had Lord Byron now persisted in his original purpose of giving this Poem to the press, instead of Childe Harold, it is more than probable that he would have been lost, as a great poet, to the world*. Inferior as the Paraphrase is, in every respect, to his former Satire, and, in some places, even descending below the level of under-graduate versifiers, its failure, there can be little doubt, would have been certain and signal;—his former assailants would have resumed their advantage over him, and

* That he himself attributed every thing to fortune, appears from the following passage in one of his Journals: “Like Sylla, I have always believed that all things depend upon fortune, and nothing upon ourselves. I am not aware of any one thought or action worthy of being called good to myself or others, which is not to be attributed to the good goddess, FORTUNE!”

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either, in the bitterness of his mortification, he would have flung
Childe Harold into the fire, or, had he summoned up sufficient confidence to publish that Poem, its reception, even if sufficient to retrieve him in the eyes of the public and his own, could never have, at all, resembled that explosion of success,—that instantaneous and universal acclaim of admiration into which, coming, as it were, fresh from the land of song, he now surprised the world, and in the midst of which he was borne, buoyant and self-assured, along, through a succession of new triumphs, each more splendid than the last.

Happily, the better judgment of his friends averted such a risk; and he, at length, consented to the immediate publication of Childe Harold,—still, however, to the last, expressing his doubts of its merits, and his alarm at the sort of reception it might meet with in the world.

“I did all I could,” says his adviser, “to raise his opinion of this composition, and I succeeded; but he varied much in his feelings about it, nor was he, as will appear, at his ease until the world decided on its merit. He said again and again that I was going to get him into a scrape with his old enemies, and that none of them would rejoice more than the Edinburgh Reviewers at an opportunity to humble him. He said I must not put his name to it. I entreated him to leave it to me, and that I would answer for this Poem silencing all his enemies.”

The publication being now determined upon, there arose some doubts and difficulty as to a publisher. Though Lord Byron had intrusted Cawthorn with what he considered to be his surer card, the “Hints from Horace,” he did not, it seems, think him of sufficient station in the trade to give a sanction or fashion to his more hazardous experiment. The former refusal of the Messrs. Longman to publish his “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers” was not forgotten; and he expressly stipulated with Mr. Dallas that the manuscript should not be offered to that house. An application was, at first, made to Mr. Miller, of Albemarle-street; but, in consequence of the severity with which Lord Elgin was treated in the Poem, Mr. Miller (already the publisher and bookseller of this latter nobleman) declined the work. Even this circumstance,—so apprehensive was the poet for his fame,—began to
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 271
re-awaken all the qualms and terrors he had, at first, felt; and, had any further difficulties or objections arisen, it is more than probable he might have relapsed into his original intention. It was not long, however, before a person was found willing and proud to undertake the publication.
Mr. Murray, who, at this period, resided in Fleet-street, having, some time before, expressed a desire to be allowed to publish some work of Lord Byron, it was in his hands that Mr. Dallas now placed the manuscript of Childe Harold;—and thus was laid the first foundation of that connexion between this gentleman and the noble poet, which continued, with but a temporary interruption, throughout the lifetime of the one, and has proved an abundant source of honour, as well as emolument, to the other.

While thus busily engaged in his literary projects, and having, besides, some law affairs to transact with his agent, he was called suddenly away to Newstead by the intelligence of an event, which seems to have affected his mind far more deeply than, considering all the circumstances of the case, could have been expected. Mrs. Byron, whose excessive corpulence rendered her, at all times, rather a perilous subject for illness, had been of late indisposed, but not to any alarming degree; nor does it appear that, when the following note was written, there existed any grounds for apprehension as to her state.

“Reddish’s Hotel, St. James’s-street, London, July 23d, 1811.

“I am only detained by Mr. H * * to sign some copyhold papers, and will give you timely notice of my approach. It is with great reluctance I remain in town. I shall pay a short visit as we go on to Lancashire on Rochdale business. I shall attend to your directions of course, and am,

“With great respect, yours ever,

“P.S. You will consider Newstead as your house, not mine; and me only as a visitor.”

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On his going abroad, she had conceived a sort of superstitious fancy that she should never see him again; and when he returned, safe and well, and wrote to inform her that he should soon see her at Newstead, she said to her waiting-woman, “If I should be dead before Byron comes down, what a strange thing it would be!”—and so, in fact, it happened. At the end of July, her illness took a new and fatal turn; and, so sadly characteristic was the close of the poor lady’s life, that a fit of rage, brought on, it is said, by reading over the upholsterer’s bills, was the ultimate cause of her death. Lord Byron had, of course, prompt intelligence of the attack. But, though he started instantly from town, he was too late,—she had breathed her last.

The following letter, it will be perceived, was written on his way to Newstead.

“Newport Pagnell, August 2, 1811.

“My poor mother died yesterday! and I am on my way from town to attend her to the family vault. I heard one day of her illness, the next of her death.—Thank God her last moments were most tranquil. I am told she was in little pain, and not aware of her situation.—I now feel the truth of Mr. Gray’s observation, ‘That we can only have one mother.’—Peace be with her! I have to thank you for your expressions of regard, and as in six weeks I shall be in Lancashire on business, I may extend to Liverpool and Chester,—at least I shall endeavour.

“If it will be any satisfaction, I have to inform you that in November next the Editor of the Scourge will be tried for two different libels on the late Mrs. B. and myself (the decease of Mrs. B. makes no difference in the proceedings), and as he is guilty, by his very foolish and unfounded assertion, of a breach of privilege, he will be prosecuted with the utmost rigour.

“I inform you of this, as you seem interested in the affair, which is now in the hands of the attorney-general.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 273

“I shall remain at Newstead the greater part of this month, where I shall be happy to hear from you, after my two years’ absence in the East.

“I am, dear Pigot, yours very truly,

It can hardly have escaped the observation of the reader, that the general tone of the noble poet’s correspondence with his mother is that of a son, performing, strictly and conscientiously, what he deems to be his duty, without the intermixture of any sentiment of cordiality to sweeten the task. The very title of “Madam,” by which he addresses her—and which he but seldom exchanges for the endearing name of “mother*”—is, of itself, a sufficient proof of the sentiments he entertained for her. That such should have been his dispositions towards such a parent can be matter neither of surprise or blame,—but that, notwithstanding this alienation, which her own unfortunate temper produced, he should have continued to consult her wishes, and minister to her comforts, with such unfailing thoughtfulness as is evinced not only in the frequency of his letters, but in the almost exclusive appropriation of Newstead to her use, redounds, assuredly, in no ordinary degree, to his honour; and was even the more strikingly meritorious from the absence of that affection, which renders kindnesses to a beloved object little more than an indulgence of self.

But, however estranged from her his feelings must be allowed to have been while she lived, her death seems to have restored them into their natural channel. Whether from a return of early fondness and the all-atoning power of the grave, or from the prospect of that void in his future life, which this loss of his only link with the past would leave, it is certain that he felt the death of his mother acutely, if not deeply. On the night after his arrival at Newstead, the waiting-woman of Mrs. Byron, in passing the door of the room where the deceased lady lay, heard a

* In many instances the mothers of illustrious poets have had reason to be proud no less of the affection than of the glory of their sons; and Tasso, Pope, Gray, and Cowper, are among these memorable examples of filial tenderness. In the lesser poems of Tasso there are few things so beautiful as his description, in the Canzone to the Metauro, of his first parting with his mother:—

“Me dal sen della madre empia fortuna
Pargoletto divelse,” &c.

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sound, as of some one sighing heavily from within; and, on entering the chamber, found, to her surprise, Lord Byron sitting, in the dark, beside the bed. On her representing to him the weakness of thus giving way to grief, he burst into tears and exclaimed, “Oh, Mrs. By, I had but one friend in the world, and she is gone!”

While his real thoughts were thus confided to silence and darkness, there was, in other parts of his conduct more open to observation, a degree of eccentricity and indecorum which, with superficial observers, might well bring the sensibility of his nature into question. On the morning of the funeral, having declined following the remains himself, he stood looking, from the abbey door, at the procession, till the whole had moved off;—then, turning to young Rushton, who was the only person left besides himself, he desired him to fetch the sparring-gloves, and proceeded to his usual exercise with the boy. He was silent and abstracted all the time, and, as if from an effort to get the better of his feelings, threw more violence, Rushton thought, into his blows than was his habit; but, at last,—the struggle seeming too much for him,—he flung away the gloves, and retired to his room.

Of Mrs. Byron, sufficient, perhaps, has been related in these pages to enable the reader to form fully his own opinion, as well with respect to the character of this lady herself, as to the degree of influence her temper and conduct may have exercised on those of her son. It was said by one of the most extraordinary of men*,—who was, himself, as he avowed, principally indebted to maternal culture for the unexampled elevation to which he subsequently rose,—that “the future good or bad conduct of a child depends entirely on the mother.” How far the leaven that sometimes mixed itself with the better nature of Byron,—his uncertain and wayward impulses,—his defiance of restraint—the occasional bitterness of his hate, and the precipitance of his resentments,—may have had their origin in his early collisions with maternal caprice and violence, is an inquiry for which sufficient materials have been, perhaps, furnished in these pages, but which every one will decide upon, according to the more or less weight he may attribute to the influence of such causes on the formation of character.

* Napoleon.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 275

That, notwithstanding her injudicious and coarse treatment of him, Mrs. Byron loved her son, with that sort of fitful fondness of which alone such a nature is capable, there can be little doubt,—and still less, that she was ambitiously proud of him. Her anxiety for the success of his first literary essays may be collected from the pains which he so considerately took to tranquilize her on the appearance of the hostile article in the Review. As his fame began to brighten, that notion of his future greatness and glory, which, by a singular forecast of superstition, she had entertained from his very childhood, became proportionably confirmed. Every mention of him in print was watched by her with eagerness, and he had got bound together in a volume, which a friend of mine once saw, a collection of all the literary notices, that had then appeared, of his early Poems and Satire,—written over, on the margin, with observations of her own, which to my informant appeared indicative of much more sense and ability than, from her general character, we should be inclined to attribute to her.

Among those lesser traits of his conduct through which an observer can trace a filial wish to uphold, and throw respect round, the station of his mother, may be mentioned his insisting, while a boy, on being called “George Byron Gordon”—giving thereby precedence to the maternal name,—and his continuing, to the last, to address her as “the Honourable Mrs. Byron,”—a mark of rank, to which, he must have been aware, she had no claim whatever. Neither does it appear that, in his habitual manner towards her, there was any thing denoting a want of either affection or deference,—with the exception, perhaps, occasionally, of a somewhat greater degree of familiarity than comports with the ordinary notions of filial respect. Thus, the usual name he called her by, when they were on good-humoured terms together, was “Kitty Gordon;” and I have heard an eye-witness of the scene describe the look of arch, dramatic humour, with which, one day, at Southwell, when they were in the height of their theatrical rage, he threw open the door of the drawing-room to admit his mother, saying, at the same time, “Enter the Honourable Kitty.”

The pride of birth was a feeling common alike to mother and son, and, at times, even became a point of rivalry between them, from their respective claims, English and Scotch, to high lineage. In a letter
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written by him from Italy, referring to some anecdote which his mother had told him, he says, “My mother, who was as haughty as Lucifer with her descent from the Stuarts, and her right line from the old Gordons,not the Seyton Gordons, as she disdainfully termed the ducal branch, told me the story, always reminding me how superior her Gordons were to the southern Byrons, notwithstanding our Norman, and always masculine descent, which has never lapsed into a female, as my mother’s Gordons had done in her own person.”

If, to be able to depict powerfully the painful emotions, it is necessary first to have experienced them, or, in other words, if, for the poet to be great, the man must suffer, Lord Byron, it must be owned, paid early this dear price of mastery. Few as were the ties by which his affections held, whether within, or without, the circle of relationship, he was now doomed, within a short space, to see the most of them swept away by death*. Besides the loss of his mother, he had to mourn over, in quick succession, the untimely fatalities that carried off, within a few weeks of each other, two or three of his most loved and valued friends. “In the short space of one month,” he says, in a note on Childe Harold, “I have lost her who gave me being, and most of those who made that being tolerable†.” Of these, young Wingfield, whom we have seen high on the list of his Harrow favourites, died of a fever at Coimbra; and Matthews, the idol of his admiration at college, was drowned while bathing in the waters of the Cam.

The following letter, written immediately after the latter event, bears the impress of strong and even agonized feeling, to such a degree as renders it almost painful to read it.

* In a letter, written between two and three months after his mother’s death, he states no less a number than six persons, all friends or relatives, who had been snatched sway from him by death between May and the end of August.

† In continuation of the note quoted in the text, he says of Matthews—“His powers of mind, shown in the attainment of greater honours, against the ablest candidates, than those of any graduate on record at Cambridge, have sufficiently established his fame on the spot where it was acquired.” One of the candidates, thus described, was Mr. Thomas Barnes, a gentleman whose career since has kept fully the promise of his youth, though, from the nature of the channels through which his literary labours have been directed, his great talents are far more extensively known than his name.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 277
“Newstead Abbey, August 7, 1811.

“Some curse hangs over me and mine. My mother lies a corpse in this house: one of my best friends is drowned in a ditch. What can I say, or think, or do? I received a letter from him the day before yesterday. My dear Scrope, if you can spare a moment, do come down to me, I want a friend. Matthews’s last letter was written on Friday.—on Saturday he was not. In ability, who was like Matthews? How did we all shrink before him? You do me but justice in saying, I would have risked my paltry existence to have preserved his. This very evening did I mean to write, inviting him, as I invite you, my very dear friend, to visit me. God forgive * * * for his apathy! What will our poor Hobhouse feel! His letters breathe but of Matthews. Come to me, Scrope, I am almost desolate—left almost alone in the world—I had but you, and H. and M. and let me enjoy the survivors whilst I can. Poor M. in his letter of Friday, speaks of his intended contest for Cambridge*, and a speedy journey to London. Write or come, but come if you can, or one or both. Yours ever.”

Of this remarkable young man, Charles Skinner Matthews†, I have already had occasion to speak; but the high station which he held in Lord Byron’s affection and admiration may justify a somewhat ampler tribute to his memory.

There have seldom, perhaps, started together in life no many youths

* It had been the intention of Mr. Matthews to offer himself, at the ensuing election, for the university. In reference to this purpose. a manuscript Memoir of him, now lying before me, says—“If acknowledged and successful talents—if principles of the strictest honour—if the devotion of many friends could have secured the success of an ‘independent pauper’ (as he jocularly called himself in a letter on the subject), the vision would have been realized.”

† He was the third son of the late John Matthews, Esq. of Be1mont, Herefordshire, representative of that county in the parliament of 1802-6. The author of “The Diary of an Invalid,” also untimely snatched away, was another son of the same gentleman, as is likewise the

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of high promise and hope as were to be found among the society of which Lord Byron formed a part at Cambridge. Of some of these, the names have since eminently distinguished themselves in the world, as the mere mention of
Mr. Hobhouse and Mr. William Bankes is sufficient to testify; while in the instance of another of this lively circle, Mr. Scrope Davies*, the only regret of his friends is, that the social wit of which he is such a master should, in the memories of his hearers alone, be likely to leave any record of its brilliancy. Among all these young men of learning and talent (including Byron himself, whose genius was, however, as yet, “an undiscovered world”), the superiority, in almost every department of intellect, seems to have been, by the ready consent of all, awarded to Matthews;—a concurrence of homage which, considering the persons from whom it came, gives such a high notion of the powers of his mind at that period as renders the thought of what he might have been, if spared, a matter of interesting, though vain and mournful, speculation. To mere mental preeminence, unaccompanied by the kindlier qualities of the heart, such a tribute, however deserved, might not, perhaps, have been so uncontestedly paid. But young Matthews appears—in spite of some little asperities of temper and manner, which he was already beginning to soften down when snatched away,—to have been one of those rare individuals who, while they command deference, can at the same time, win regard, and who, as it were, relieve the intense feeling of admiration which they excite by blending it with love.

To his religious opinions, and their unfortunate coincidence with those of Lord Byron, I have before adverted. Like his noble friend, ardent in the pursuit of Truth, he, like him too, unluckily lost his way in

present Prebendary of Hereford, the Reverend Arthur Matthews, who, by his ability and attainments, sustains worthily the reputation of the name.

The father of this accomplished family was himself a man of considerable talent, and the author of several unavowed poetical pieces; one of which, a Parody of Pope’s Eloisa, written in early youth, has been erroneously ascribed to the late Professor Porson, who was in the habit of reciting it, and even printed an edition of the verses.

* “One of the cleverest men ever know, in conversation, was Scrope Berdmore Davies. Hobbouse is also very good in that line, though it is of less consequence to a man—who has other ways of showing his talents than in company. Scrope was always ready and often witty—Hobhouse as witty, but not always so ready, being more diffident.”—MS. Journal of Lord Byron.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 279
seeking her,—“the light that led astray” being by both friends mistaken for hers. That in his scepticism he proceeded any farther than Lord Byron, or ever suffered his doubting, but still ingenuous, mind to persuade itself into the “incredible creed” of atheism, is, I find, (notwithstanding an assertion in a letter of the noble poet to this effect) disproved by the testimony of those among his relations and friends, who are the most ready to admit and, of course, lament his other heresies;—nor should I have felt that I had any right to allude thus to the religious opinions of one who had never, by promulgating his heterodoxy, brought himself within the jurisdiction of the public, had not the wrong impression, as it appears, given of those opinions, on the authority of Lord Byron, rendered it an act of justice to both friends to remove the imputation.

In the letters to Mrs. Byron, written previously to the departure of her son on his travels, there occurs, it will be recollected some mention of a Will, which it was his intention to leave behind him in the hands of his trustees. Whatever may have been the contents of this former instrument, we find that, in about a fortnight after his mother’s death, he thought it right to have a new form of will drawn up, and the following letter, enclosing his instructions for that purpose, was addressed to the late Mr. Bolton, a solicitor of Nottingham. Of the existence, in any serious or formal shape, of the strange directions here given, respecting his own interment, I was, for some time, I confess, much inclined to doubt; but the curious documents here annexed put this remarkable instance of his eccentricity beyond all question.

“Newstead Abbey, August 12th, 1811.

“I enclose a rough draft of my intended Will, which I beg to have drawn up as soon as possible in the firmest manner. The alterations are principally made in consequence of the death of Mrs. Byron. I have only to request that it may be got ready in a short time, and have the honour to be,

“Your most obedient, humble servant,
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“Newstead Abbey, August 12th, 1811.


“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

* “If the papers lie not (which they generally do), Demetrius Zograffo of Athens is at the head of the Athenian part of the Greek insurrection. He was my servant in 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, at different intervals in those years (for I left him in Greece when I went to Constantinople), and accompanied me to England in 1811; he returned to Greece, spring, 1812. He was a clever, but not apparently an enterprising man; but circumstances make men. His two sons (then infants) were named Miltiades and Alcibiades: may the omen be happy!”—MS. Journal.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 281
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. Honble. 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

* On the death of his mother, a considerable sum of money, the remains of the price of the estate of Gight, was paid into him hands by her trustee, Baron Clerk.

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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.

“Newstead Abbey, August 16th, 1811.

“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,

* Over the words which I have bore placed between brackets, Lord Byron drew his pen.

† In the clause enumerating the names end places of abode of the executors, the solicitor had left blanks for the christian names of these gentlemen, and Lord Byron, having filled up all but that of Dallas, writes in the margin—“I forget the christian name of Dallas—cut him out.”

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 283
“Newstead Abbey, August 20, 1811.

“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, which, in such case, shall go to my sister, the Honble. Augusta Leigh and her heirs on similar conditions. I have the honour to be, sir,

“Your very obedient, humble servant,

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.”

The following letters, written while his late losses were fresh in his mind, will be read with painful interest.

284 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1811.
“Newstead Abbey, Notts., August 12th, 1811.

“Peace be with the dead! Regret cannot wake them. With a sigh to the departed, let us resume the dull business of life, in the certainty that we also shall have our repose. Besides her who gave me being, I have lost more than one who made that being tolerable.—The best friend of my friend Hobhouse, Matthews, a man of the first talents, and also not the worst of my narrow circle, has perished miserably in the muddy waves of the Cam, always fatal to genius:—my poor schoolfellow, Wingfield, at Coimbra—within a month; and whilst I had heard from all three, but not seen one. Matthews wrote to me the very day before his death; and though I feel for his fate, I am still more anxious for Hobhouse, who, I very much fear, will hardly retain his senses; his letters to me since the event have been most incoherent. But let this pass—we shall all one day pass along with the rest—the world is too full of such things, and our very sorrow is selfish.

“I received a letter from you, which my late occupations prevented me from duly noticing,—I hope your friends and family will long hold together. I shall be glad to hear from you, on business, on commonplace, or any thing, or nothing—but death—I am already too familiar with the dead. It is strange that I look on the skulls which stand beside me (I have always had four in my study) without emotion, but I cannot strip the features of those I have known of their fleshy covering, even in idea, without a hideous sensation; but the worms are less ceremonious.—Surely, the Romans did well when they burned the dead.—I shall be happy to hear from you, and am, yours, &c.”

“Newstead Abbey, August 22d, 1811.

“You may have heard of the sudden death of my mother, and poor Matthews, which, with that of Wingfield (of which I was not fully
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 285
aware till just before I left town, and indeed hardly believed it), has made a sad chasm in my connexions. Indeed the blows followed each other so rapidly that I am yet stupid from the shock, and though I do eat and drink and talk, and even laugh, at times, yet I can hardly persuade myself that I am awake, did not every morning convince me mournfully to the contrary.—I shall now wave the subject,—the dead are at rest, and none but the dead can be so.

“You will feel for poor Hobhouse,—Matthews was the ‘god of his idolatry;‘ and if intellect could exalt a man above his fellows, no one could refuse him pre-eminence. I knew him most intimately, and valued him proportionably, but I am recurring—so let us talk of life and the living.

“If you should feel a disposition to come here, you will find ‘beef and a sea-coal fire,’ and not ungenerous wine. Whether Otway’s two other requisites for an Englishman or not, I cannot tell, but probably one of them.—Let me know when I may expect you, that I may tell you when I go and when return.—I have “not yet been to Lancs. *
* * * * * * * * *
Davies has been here, and has invited me to Cambridge for a week in October, so that peradventure, we may encounter glass to glass. His gaiety (death cannot mar it) has done me service; but, after all, ours was a hollow laughter.

“You will write to me? I am solitary, and I never felt solitude irksome before. Your anxiety about the critique on * *’s book is amusing; as it was anonymous, certes it was of little consequence: I wish it had produced a little more confusion, being a lover of literary malice. Are you doing nothing? writing nothing? printing nothing? why not your Satire on Methodism? the subject (supposing the public to be blind to merit) would do wonders. Besides, it would be as well for a destined deacon to prove his orthodoxy.—It really would give me pleasure to see you properly appreciated. I say really, as, being an author, my humanity might be suspected. Believe me, dear H., yours always.”

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“Newstead, August 21, 1811.

“Your letter gives me credit for more acute feelings than I possess; for though I feel tolerably miserable, yet I am at the same time subject to a kind of hysterical merriment, or rather laughter without merriment, which I can neither account for nor conquer, and yet I do not feel relieved by it; but an indifferent person would think me in excellent spirits. ‘We must forget these things,’ and have recourse to our old selfish comforts, or rather comfortable selfishness. I do not think I shall return to London immediately, and shall therefore accept freely what is offered courteously—your mediation between me and Murray. I don’t think my name will answer the purpose, and you must be aware that my plaguy Satire will bring the north and south Grub-streets down upon the ‘Pilgrimage;’—but, nevertheless, if Murray makes a point of it, and you coincide with him, I will do it daringly; so let it be entitled, ‘By the Author of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.’ My remarks on the Romaic, &c. once intended to accompany the ‘Hints from Horace,’ shall go along with the other, as being indeed more appropriate; also the smaller poems now in my possession, with a few elected from those published in * *’s Miscellany. I have found amongst my poor mother’s papers all my letters from the East, and one in particular of some length from Albania. From this, if necessary, I can work up a note or two on that subject. As I kept no journal, the letters written on the spot are the best. But of this anon, when we have definitively arranged.

“Has Murray shown the work to any one? He may—but I will have no traps for applause. Of course there are little things I would wish to alter, and perhaps the two stanzas of a buffooning cast on London’s Sunday are as well left out. I much wish to avoid identifying Childe Harold’s character with mine, and that, in sooth, is my second objection to my name appearing in the title-page. When you have made arrangements as to time, size, type, &c., favour me with a reply. I am giving you an universe of trouble, which thanks cannot atone for. I
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 287
made a kind of prose apology for my scepticism at the head of the MS., which, on recollection, is so much more like an attack than a defence, that, haply, it might better be omitted:—perpend, pronounce. After all, I fear Murray will be in a scrape with the orthodox; but I cannot help it, though I wish him well through it. As for me, ‘I have supped full of criticism,’ and I don’t think that the ‘most dismal treatise’ will stir and rouse my ‘fell of hair’ till ‘Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane.’

“I shall continue to write at intervals, and hope you will pay me in kind. How does Pratt get on, or rather get off Joe Blackett’s posthumous stock? You killed that poor man amongst you, in spite of your Ionian friend and myself, who would have saved him from Pratt, poetry, present poverty, and posthumous oblivion. Cruel patronage! to ruin a man at his calling; but then he is a divine subject for subscription and biography; and Pratt, who makes the most of his dedications, has inscribed the volume to no less than five families of distinction.

“I am sorry you don’t like Harry White; with a great deal of cant, which in him was sincere (indeed it killed him as you killed Joe Blackett), certes there is poesy and genius. I don’t say this on account of my simile and rhymes; but surely he was beyond all the Bloomfields and Blacketts, and their collateral cobblers, whom Lofft and Pratt have or may kidnap from their calling into the service of the trade. You must excuse my flippancy, for I am writing I know not what, to escape from myself. Hobbouse is gone to Ireland. Mr. Davies has been here on his way to Harrowgate.

“You did not know M.; he was a man of the most astonishing powers, as he sufficiently proved at Cambridge, by carrying off more prizes and fellowships, against the ablest candidates, than any other graduate on record; but a most decided atheist, indeed noxiously so, for he proclaimed his principles in all societies. I knew him well, and feel a loss not easily to be supplied to myself—to Hobhouse never. Let me hear from you, and believe me, &c.”

The progress towards publication of his two forthcoming works will be best traced in his letters to Mr. Murray and Mr. Dallas.

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“Newstead Abbey, Notts., August 23, 1811.

“A domestic calamity in the death of a near relation has hitherto prevented my addressing you on the subject of this letter.—My friend Mr. Dallas has placed in your hands a manuscript poem written by me in Greece, which he tells me you do not object to publishing. But he also informed me in London that you wished to send the MS. to Mr. Gifford. Now, though no one would feel more gratified by the chance of obtaining his observations on a work than myself, there is in such a proceeding a kind of petition for praise, that neither my pride—or whatever you please to call it—will admit. Mr. G. is not only the first satirist of the day, but editor of one of the principal Reviews. As such, he is the last man whose censure (however eager to avoid it) I would deprecate by clandestine means. You will therefore retain the MS. in your own care, or, if it must needs be shown, send it to another. Though not very patient of censure, I would fain obtain fairly any little praise my rhymes might deserve, at all events not by extortion and the humble solicitations of a bandied about MS. I am sure a little consideration will convince you it would be wrong.

“If you determine on publication, I have some smaller poems (never published), a few notes, and a short dissertation on the literature of the modern Greeks (written at Athens), which will come in at the end of the volume.—And if the present poem should succeed, it is my intention, at some subsequent period, to publish some selections from my first work,—my Satire,—another nearly the same length, and a few other things, with the MS. now in your hands, in two volumes.—But of these hereafter. You will apprize me of your determination. I am, sir, your very obedient. &c.”

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“Newstead Abbey, August 25, 1811.

“Being fortunately enabled to frank, I do not spare scribbling, having sent you packets within the last ten days. I am passing solitary, and do not expect my agent to accompany me to Rochdale before the second week in September, a delay which perplexes me, as I wish the business over, and should at present welcome employment. I sent you exordiums, annotations, &c. for the forthcoming quarto, if quarto it is to be; and I also have written to Mr. Murray my objection to sending the MS. to Juvenal, but allowing him to show it to any others of the calling. Hobhouse is amongst the types already; so, between his prose and my verse, the world will be decently drawn upon for its paper-money and patience. Besides all this, my ‘Imitation of Horace’ is gasping for the press at Cawthorn’s, but I am hesitating as to the how and the when, the single or the double, the present or the future. You must excuse all this, for I have nothing to say in this lone mansion but of myself, and yet I would willingly talk or think of aught else.

“What are you about to do? Do you think of perching in Cumberland, as you opined when I was in the metropolis? If you mean to retire, why not occupy Miss * *’s ‘cottage of Friendship,’ late the seat of Cobbler Joe, for whose death you and others are answerable? His ‘Orphan Daughter’ (pathetic Pratt!) will, certes, turn out a shoemaking Sappho. Have you no remorse? I think that elegant address to Miss Dallas should be inscribed on the cenotaph which Miss * * * means to stitch to his memory.

The newspapers seem much disappointed at his majesty’s not dying, or doing something better. I presume it is almost over. If parliament meets in October, I shall be in town to attend. I am also invited to Cambridge for the beginning of that month, but am first to jaunt to Rochdale. Now Matthews is gone, and Hobhouse in Ireland, I have hardly one left thereto bid me welcome, except my inviter. At
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three-and-twenty I am left alone, and what more can we be at seventy? It is true, I am young enough to begin again, but with whom can I retrace the laughing part of life? It is odd how few of my friends have died a quiet death,—I mean, in their beds. But a quiet life is of more consequence. Yet one loves squabbling and jostling better than yawning. This last word admonishes me to relieve you from yours very truly, &c

“Newstead Abbey, August 27th, 1811.

“I was so sincere in my note on the late Charles Matthews, and do feel myself so totally unable to do justice to his talents, that the passage must stand for the very reason you bring against it. To him all the men I ever knew were pigmies. He was an intellectual giant. It is true I loved W. better; he was the earliest and the dearest, and one of the few one could never repent of having loved: but in ability—ah! you did not know Matthews!

“‘Childe Harold’ may wait and welcome—books are never the worse for delay in the publication. So you have got our heir, George Anson Byron, and his sister, with you.

* * * * *
* * * * *

“You may say what you please, but you are one of the murderers of Blackett, and yet you won’t allow Harry White’s genius. Setting aside his bigotry, he surely ranks next Chatterton. It is astonishing how little he was known; and at Cambridge no one thought or heard of such a man, till his death rendered all notice useless. For my own part, I should have been most proud of such an acquaintance: his very prejudices were respectable. There is a sucking epic poet at Granta, a Mr. Townsend, protégé of the late Cumberland. Did you ever hear of him and his ‘Armageddon?’ I think his plan (the man I don’t know) borders on the sublime; though, perhaps, the anticipation of the ‘Last
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Day’ (according to you Nazarenes), is a little too daring: at least, it looks like telling the Lord what he is to do, and might remind an ill-natured person of the line—
‘And fools rush in where angels fear to tread.’

“But I don’t mean to cavil, only other folks will, and he may bring all the lambs of Jacob Behmen about his ears. However, I hope he will bring it to conclusion, though Milton is in his way.

“Write to me—I dote on gossip—and make a bow to Ju—, and shake George by the hand for me; but, take care, for he has a sad sea paw.

“P.S. I would ask George here, but I don’t know how to amuse him—all my horses were sold when I left England, and I have not had time to replace them. Nevertheless, if he will come down and shoot in September, he will be very welcome; but he must bring a gun, for I gave away all mine to Ali Pacha, and other Turks. Dogs, a keeper, and plenty of game, with a very large manor, I have—a lake, a boat, house-room, and neat wines.

Newstead Abbey, Notts., Sept. 5th, 1811.

“The time seems to be past when (as Dr. Johnson said) a man was certain to ‘hear the truth from his bookseller,’ for you have paid me so many compliments, that, if I was not the veriest scribbler on earth, I should feel affronted. As I accept your compliments, it is but fair I should give equal or greeter credit to your objections, the more so, as I believe them to be well founded. With regard to the political and metaphysical parts, I am afraid I can alter nothing; but I have high authority for my errors in that point, for even the Æneid was a political poem, and written for a political purpose; and as to my unlucky opinions on subjects of more importance, I am too sincere in them for recantation. On Spanish affairs I have said what I saw, and every day confirms me in
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that notion of the result formed on the spot; and I rather think honest John Bull is beginning to come round again to that sobriety which
Massena’s retreat had begun to reel from its centre—the usual consequence of unusual success. So you perceive I cannot alter the sentiments; but if there are any alterations in the structure of the versification you would wish to be made, I will tag rhymes and turn stanzas as much as you please. As for the ‘orthodox,’ let us hope they will buy, on purpose to abuse—you will forgive the one, if they will do the other. You are aware that any thing from my pen must expect no quarter, on many accounts; and as the present publication is of a nature very different from the former, we must not be sanguine.

“You have given me no answer to my question—tell me fairly, did you show the MS. to some of your corps?—I sent an introductory stanza to Mr. Dallas, to be forwarded to you; the poem else will open too abruptly. The stanzas had better be numbered in Roman characters. There is a disquisition on the literature of the modern Greeks and some smaller poems to come in at the close. These are now at Newstead, but will be sent in time. If Mr. D. has lost the stanza and note annexed to it, write, and I will send it myself.—You tell me to add two Cantos, but I am about to visit my collieries in Lancashire on the 15th inst. which is so unpoetical an employment that I need say no more. I am, sir, your most obedient, &c.”

The manuscripts of both his Poems having been shown, much against his own will, to Mr. Gifford, the opinion of that gentleman was thus reported to him by Mr. Dallas:—“Of your Satire he spoke highly; but this Poem (Childe Harold) he pronounces not only the best you have written, but equal to any of the present age.”

“Newstead Abbey. September 7th, 1811.

“As Gifford has been ever my ‘Magnus Apollo,’ any approbation, such as you mention, would, of course, be more welcome than ‘all Bokara’s
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vaunted gold, than all the gems of Samarkand.’ But I am sorry the MS. was shown to him in such a manner, and I had written to
Murray to say as much, before I was aware that it was too late.

“Your objection to the expression ‘central line,’ I can only meet by saying that, before Childe Harold left England, it was his full intention to traverse Persia, and return by India, which he could not have done without passing the equinoctial.

“The other errors you mention, I must correct in the progress through the press. I feel honoured by the wish of such men that the poem should be continued, but to do that, I must return to Greece and Asia; I must have a warm sun and a blue sky; I cannot describe scenes so dear to me by a sea-coal fire. I had projected an additional Canto when I was in the Troad and Constantinople, and if I saw them again, it would go on; but under existing circumstances and sensations, I have neither harp, ‘heart, nor voice’ to proceed. I feel that you are all right as to the metaphysical part; but I also feel that I am sincere, and that if I am only to write ‘ad captandum vulgus,’ I might as well edit a magazine at once, or spin canzonettas for Vauxhall.

* * * * *

“My work must make its way as well as it can; I know I have every thing against me, angry poets and prejudices; but if the poem is a poem, it will surmount these obstacles, and if not, it deserves its fate. Your friend’s Ode I have read—it is no great compliment to pronounce it far superior to S * *’s on the same subject, or to the merits of the new Chancellor. It is evidently the production of a man of taste, and a poet, though I should not be willing to say it was fully equal to what might be expected from the author of ‘Horæ Ionicæ.’ I thank you for it, and that is more than I would do for any other Ode of the present day.

“I am very sensible of your good wishes, and, indeed, I have need of them. My whole life has been at variance with propriety, not to say decency; my circumstances are become involved; my friends are dead or estranged, and my existence a dreary void. In Matthews I have lost my ‘guide, philosopher, and friend;’ In Wingfield a friend only, but one whom I could have wished to have preceded in his long journey.

Matthews was indeed an extraordinary man; it has not entered
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into the heart of a stranger to conceive such a man; there was the stamp of immortality in all he said or did; and now what is he? When we see such men pass away and be no more—men, who seem created to display what the Creator could make his creatures, gathered into corruption, before the maturity of minds that might have been the pride of posterity, what are we to conclude? For my own part, I am bewildered. To me he was much, to
Hobhouse every thing.—My poor Hobhouse doted on Matthews. For me, I did not love quite so much as I honoured him; I was indeed so sensible of his infinite superiority, that though I did not envy, I stood in awe of it. He, Hobhouse, Davies, and myself, formed a coterie of our own at Cambridge and elsewhere. Davies is a wit and man of the world, and feels as much as such a character can do; but not as Hobhouse has been affected. Davies, who is not a scribbler, has always beaten us all in the war of words, and by his colloquial powers at once delighted and kept us in order. H. and myself always had the worst of it with the other two; and even M. yielded to the dashing vivacity of S. D. But I am talking to you of men, or boys, as if you cared about such beings.

“I expect mine agent down on the 14th to proceed to Lancashire, where, I hear from all quarters, that I have a very valuable property in coals, &c. I then intend to accept an invitation to Cambridge in October, and shall, perhaps, run up to town. I have four invitations—to Wales, Dorset, Cambridge, and Chester; but I must be a man of business. I am quite alone, as these long letters sadly testify. I perceive, by referring to your letter, that the Ode is from the author; make my thanks acceptable to him. His muse is worthy a nobler theme. You will write, as usual, I hope. I wish you a good evening, and am, &c.”

“Newstead Abbey, Notts., Sept. 14, 1811.

“Since your former letter. Mr. Dallas informs me that the MS. has been submitted to the perusal of Mr. Gifford, most contrary to my
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wishes, as Mr. D. could have explained, and as my own letter to you did, in fact, explain, with my motives for objecting to such a proceeding. Some late domestic events, of which you are probably aware, prevented my letter from being sent before; indeed, I hardly conceived you would so hastily thrust my productions into the hands of a stranger, who could be as little pleased by receiving them, as their author is at their being offered in such a manner, and to such a man.

“My address, when I leave Newstead, will be to ‘Rochdale, Lancashire;’ but I have not yet fixed the day of departure, and I will apprize you when ready to set off.

“You have placed me in a very ridiculous situation, but it is past, and nothing more is to be said on the subject. You hinted to me that you wished some alterations to be made; if they have nothing to do with politics or religion, I will make them with great readiness. I am, sir, &c. &c.”

“Newstead Abbey, Sept. 16, 1811

“I return the proof, which I should wish to be shown to Mr. Dallas, who understands typographical arrangements much better than I can pretend to do. The printer may place the notes in his own way, or any way, so that they are out of my way; I care nothing about types or margins.

“If you have any communication to make, I shall be here at least a week or ten days longer.

“I am, sir, &c.. &c.”

* On a leaf of one of his paper-books I find an Epigram written at this time, which, though not perhaps particularly good. I consider myself bound to insert:—

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“Newstead Abbey, Sept. 17, 1811.

“I can easily excuse your not writing, as you have, I hope, something better to do, and you must pardon my frequent invasions on your attention, because I have at this moment nothing to interpose between you and my epistles.

“I cannot settle to any thing, and my days pass, with the exception of bodily exercise to some extent, with uniform indolence, and idle insipidity. I have been expecting, and still expect, my agent, when I shall have enough to occupy my reflections in business of no very pleasant aspect. Before my journey to Rochdale, you shall have due notice where to address me,—I believe at the post-office of that township. From Murray I received a second proof of the same pages, which I requested him to show you, that any thing which may have escaped my observation may be detected before the printer lays the corner-stone of an errata column.

“I am now not quite alone, having an old acquaintance and schoolfellow with me, so old, indeed, that we have nothing new to say on any subject, and yawn at each other in a sort of quiet inquietude. I hear nothing from Cawthorn, or Captain Hobhouse, and their quarto—Lord have mercy on mankind! We come on like Cerberus with our triple publications. As for myself, by myself, I must be satisfied with a comparison to Janus.

“I am not at all pleased with Murray for showing the MS.; and I am certain Gifford must see it in the same light that I do. His praise is nothing to the purpose: what could he say? He could not spit in the face of one who had praised him in every possible way. I must own that I wish to have the impression removed from his mind, that I had any concern in such a paltry transaction. The more I think, the more it disquiets me; so I will say no more about it. It is bad enough to be a scribbler, without having recourse to such shifts to extort praise, or deprecate censure. It is anticipating, it is begging, kneeling, adulating
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—the devil! the devil! the devil! and all without my wish, and contrary to my express desire. I wish Murray had been tied to
Payne’s neck when he jumped into the Paddington Canal*, and so tell him,—that is the proper receptacle for publishers. You have thoughts of settling in the country, why not try Notts.? I think there are places which would suit you in all points, and then you are nearer the metropolis. But of this anon. “I am yours, &c.”

“Newstead Abbey, Sept. 21, 1811.

“I have shown my respect for your suggestions by adopting them; but I have made many alterations in the first proof, over and above; as, for example:
“Oh Thou, in Hellas deem’d of heavenly birth, &c. &c.

“Since shamed full oft by later lyres on earth,
Mine, &c.

“Yet there I’ve wander’d by the vaunted rill;

* In a note on his “Hints from Horace,” he thus humorously applies this incident:—

“A literary friend of mine walking out one lovely evening last summer on the eleventh bridge of the Paddington Canal, was alarmed by the cry of ‘one in jeopardy.’ He rushed along, collected a body of Irish haymakers (supping on butter-milk in an adjoining paddock), procured three rakes, one eel-spear, and a landing-net, and at last (horresco referens) pulled out—his own publisher. The unfortunate man was gone for ever, and so was a large quarto wherewith he had taken the leap, which proved, on inquiry, to have been Mr. S—’s last work. Its ‘alacrity of sinking’ was so great, that it has never since been heard of, though some maintain that it in at this moment concealed at Alderman Birch’s pastry-premises, Cornhill. Be this as it may, the coroner’s inquest brought in a verdict of ‘Felo de Bibliopolâ’ against a ‘quarto unknown,’ and circumstantial evidence being since strong against the ‘Curse of Kehama’ (of which the above words are an exact description), it will be tried by its peers next session in Grub-street. Arthur, Alfred, Davideis, Richard Cœur de Lion, Exodus, Exodiad, Epigoniad, Calvary, Fall of Cambria, Siege of Acre, Don Roderick, and Tom Thumb the Great, are the names of the twelve jurors. The judges are Pye, * * *, and the bellman of St. Sepulchre’s.”

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and so on. So I have got rid of
Dr. Lowth and ‘drunk’ to boot, and very glad I am to say so. I have also sullenised the line as heretofore, and in short have been quite conformable.

“Pray write; you shall hear when I remove to Lancs. I have brought you and my friend Juvenal Hodgson upon my back, on the score of revelation. You are fervent, but he is quite glowing; and if he takes half the pains to save his own soul, which he volunteers to redeem mine, great will be his reward hereafter. I honour and thank you both, but am convinced by neither. Now for notes. Besides those I have sent, I shall send the observations on the Edinburgh Reviewer’s remarks on the modern Greek, an Albanian song in the Albanian (not Greek) language, specimens of modern Greek from their New Testament, a comedy of Goldoni’s translated, one scene, a prospectus of a friend’s book, and perhaps a song or two, all in Romaic, besides their Pater Noster; so there will be enough, if not too much, with what I have already sent. Have you received the ‘Noctes Atticæ?’ I sent also an annotation on Portugal. Hobhouse is also forthcoming.”

“Newstead Abbey, Sept. 23, 1811.

Lisboa is the Portuguese word, consequently the very best. Ulissipont is pedantic; and, as I have Hellas and Eros not long before, there would be something like an affectation of Greek terms, which I wish to avoid, since I shall have a perilous quantity of modern Greek in my notes, as specimens of the tongue; therefore Lisboa may keep its place. You are right about the ‘Hints;’ they must not precede the ‘Romaunt;’ but Cawthorn will be savage if they don’t; however, keep them back, and him in good humour, if we can, but do not let him publish.

“I have adopted, I believe, most of your suggestions, but ‘Lisboa’ will be an exception, to prove the rule. I have sent a quantity of notes, and shall continue; but pray let them be copied; no devil can read my hand. By the by, I do not mean to exchange the ninth verse of the ‘Good Night.’ I have no reason to suppose my dog better than his
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brother brutes, mankind; and Argus we know to be a fable. The ‘Cosmopolite’ was an acquisition abroad. I do not believe it is to be found in England. It is an amusing little volume, and full of French flippancy. I read, though I do not speak, the language.

“I will be angry with Murray. It was a bookselling, back-shop, Paternoster-row, paltry proceeding, and if the experiment had turned out as it deserved, I would have raised all Fleet-street, and borrowed the giant’s staff from St. Dunstan’s church, to immolate the betrayer of trust. I have written to him as he never was written to before by an author, I’ll be sworn, and I hope you will amplify my wrath, till it has an effect upon him. You tell me always you have much to write about. Write it, but let us drop metaphysics;—on that point we shall never agree. I am dull and drowsy, as usual. I do nothing, and even that nothing fatigues me. Adieu.”

“Newstead Abbey, October 11, 1811.

“I have returned from Lancs., and ascertained that my property there may be made very valuable, but various circumstances very much circumscribe my exertions at present. I shall be in town on business in the beginning of November, and perhaps at Cambridge before the end of this month; but of my movements you shall be regularly apprized. Your objections I have in part done away by alterations, which I hope will suffice; and I have sent two or three additional stanzas for both ‘Fyttes.’ I have been again shocked with a death, and have lost one very dear to me in happier times; but ‘I have almost forgot the taste of grief,’ and ‘supped full of horrors’ till I have become callous, nor have I a tear left for an event which five years ago would have bowed down my head to the earth. It seems as though I were to experience in my youth the greatest misery of age. My friends fall around me, and I shall be left a lonely tree before I am withered. Other men can always take refuge in their families; I have no resource but my own reflections, and
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they present no prospect here or hereafter, except the selfish satisfaction of surviving my betters. I am indeed very wretched, and you will excuse my saying so, as you know I am not apt to cant of sensibility.

“Instead of tiring yourself with my concerns, I should be glad to hear your plans of retirement. I suppose you would not like to be wholly shut out of society? Now I know a large village, or small town, about twelve miles off, where your family would have the advantage of very genteel society, without the hazard of being annoyed by mercantile affluence; where you would meet with men of information and independence; and where I have friends to whom I should be proud to introduce you. There are, besides a coffee-room, assemblies, &c. &c., which bring people together. My mother had a house there some years, and I am well acquainted with the economy of Southwell, the name of this little commonwealth. Lastly, you will not be very remote from me; and though I am the very worst companion for young people in the world, this objection would not apply to you, whom I could see frequently. Your expenses too would be such as best suit your inclinations, more or less, as you thought proper; but very little would be requisite to enable you to enter into all the gaieties of a country life. You could be as quiet or bustling as you liked, and certainly as well situated as on the lakes of Cumberland, unless you have a particular wish to be picturesque.

“Pray, is your Ionian friend in town? You have promised me an introduction.—You mention having consulted some friends on the MSS.—Is not this contrary to our usual way? Instruct Mr. Murray not to allow his shopman to call the work ‘Child of Harrow’s Pilgrimage!!!!!’ as he has done to some of my astonished friends, who wrote to inquire after my sanity on the occasion, as well they might. I have heard nothing of Murray, whom I scolded heartily.—Must I write more notes?—Are there not enough?—Cawthorn must be kept back with the ‘Hints.’— hope he is getting on with Hobhouse’s quarto.

“Good evening. Yours ever, &c.”

Of the same date with this melancholy letter are the following verses, never before printed, which he wrote in answer to some lines
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received from a friend, exhorting him to be cheerful, and to “banish care.” They will show with what gloomy fidelity, even while under the pressure of recent sorrow, he reverted to the disappointment of his early affection, as the chief source of all his sufferings and errors, present and to come.

“Newstead Abbey, October 11, 1811.
“‘Oh! banish care’—such ever be
The motto of thy revelry!
Perchance of mine, when wassail nights
Renew those riotous delights,
Wherewith the children of Despair
Lull the lone heart, and ‘banish care.’
But not in morn’s reflecting hour,
When present, past, and future lower,
When all I loved is changed or gone,
Mock with such taunts the woes of one,
Whose every thought—but let them pass—
Thou know’st I am not what I was.
But, above all, if thou would’st hold
Place in a heart that ne’er was cold,
By all the powers that men revere,
By all unto thy bosom dear,
Thy joys below, thy hopes above,
Speak—speak of any thing but love.
’Twere long to tell, and vain to hear,
The tale of one who scorns a tear;
And there is little in that tale
Which better bosoms would bewail.
But mine has suffer’d more than well
’T would suit Philosophy to tell
I’ve seen my bride another’s bride,—
Have seen her seated by his side,—
Have seen the infant, which she bore,
Wear the sweet smile the mother wore,
When she and I in youth have smiled
As fond and faultless as her child;—
Have seen her eyes, in cold disdain,
Ask if I felt no secret pain,
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And I have acted well my part,
And made my cheek belie my heart,
Return’d the freezing glance she gave,
Yet felt the while that woman’s slave;—
Have kiss’d, as if without design,
The babe which ought to have been mine,
And show’d, alas! in each caress
Time had not made me love the less.
But let this pass—I’ll whine no more,
Nor seek again an eastern shore;
The world befits a busy brain,—
I’ll hie me to its haunts again.
But if, in some succeeding year,
When Britain’s ‘May is in the Sere,’
Thou hear’st of one, whose deepening crimes
Suit with the sablest of the times,
Of one, whom Love nor Pity sways,
Nor hope of fame, nor good men’s praise,
One, who in stern Ambition’s pride,
Perchance not Blood shall turn aside,
One rank’d in some recording page
With the worst anarchs of the age,
Him wilt thou know—and, knowing, pause,
Nor with the effect forget the cause.”

The anticipations of his own future career in these concluding lines are of a nature, it must be owned, to awaken more of horror than of interest, were we not prepared, by so many instances of his exaggeration in this respect, not to be startled at any lengths to which the spirit of self-libelling would carry him. It seemed as if, with the power of painting fierce and gloomy personages, he had also the ambition to be, himself, the dark “sublime he drew,” and that, in his fondness for the delineation of heroic crime, he endeavoured to fancy, where he could not find, in his own character, fit subjects for his pencil.

It was about the time when he was thus bitterly feeling, and expressing, the blight which his heart had suffered from a real object of affection, that his poems on the death of an imaginary one, “Thyrza,” were written;—nor is it any wonder, when we consider the peculiar
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circumstances under which these beautiful effusions flowed from his fancy, that of all his strains of pathos, they should be the most touching and most pure. They were, indeed, the essence, the abstract spirit, as it were, of many griefs;—a confluence of sad thoughts from many sources of sorrow, refined and warmed in their passage through his fancy, and forming thus one deep reservoir of mournful feeling. In retracing the happy hours he had known with the friends now lost, all the ardent tenderness of his youth came back upon him. His school-sports with the favourites of his boyhood,
Wingfield and Tattersall,—his summer days with Long*, and those evenings of music and romance, which he had dreamed away in the society of his adopted brother, Eddlestone,—all these recollections of the young and dead now came to mingle themselves in his mind with the image of her, who, though living, was, for him, as much lost as they, and diffused that general feeling of sadness and fondness through his soul, which found a vent in these poems. No friendship, however warm, could have inspired sorrow so passionate; as no love, however pure, could have kept passion so chastened. It was the blending of the two affections, in his memory and imagination, that thus gave birth to an ideal object combining the best features of both, and drew from him these saddest and tenderest of love-poems, in which we find all the depth and intensity of real feeling touched over with such a light as no reality ever wore.

The following letter gives some further account of the course of his thoughts and pursuits at this period.

“Newstead Abbey, Oct. 13th, 1811.

“You will begin to deem me a most liberal correspondent; but as my letters are free, you will overlook their frequency. I have sent you answers in prose and verse† to all your late communications, and though

* See the extract from one of his Journals, page 63.

† The verses in a preceding page, dated October 11th.

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I am invading your ease again, I don’t know why, or what to put down that you are not acquainted with already. I am growing nervous (how you will laugh!)—but it is true,—really, wretchedly, ridiculously, fine-ladically nervous. Your climate kills me; I can neither read, write, or amuse myself, or any one else. My days are listless, and my nights restless; I have very seldom any society, and when I have, I run out of it. At ‘this present writing’ there are in the next room three ladies, and I have stolen away to write this grumbling letter.—I don’t know that I sha’n’t end with insanity, for I find a want of method in arranging my thoughts that perplexes me strangely; but this looks more like silliness than madness, as
Scrope Davies would facetiously remark in his consoling manner. I must try the hartshorn of your company; and a session of Parliament would suit me well,—any thing to cure me of conjugating the accursed verb ‘ennuyer.

“When shall you be at Cambridge? You have hinted, I think, that your friend Bland is returned from Holland. I have always had a great respect for his talents, and for all that I have heard of his character; but of me, I believe, he knows nothing, except that he heard my 6th form repetitions ten months together, at the average of two lines a morning, and those never perfect. I remembered him and his ‘Slaves’ as I passed between Capes Matapan, St. Angelo, and his Isle of Ceriga, and I always bewailed the absence of the Anthology. I suppose he will now translate Vondel, the Dutch Shakspeare, and ‘Gysbert van Amstel’ will easily be accommodated to our stage in its present state; and I presume he saw the Dutch poem, where the love of Pyramus and Thisbe is compared to the passion of Christ; also the love of Lucifer for Eve, and other varieties of Low Country literature. No doubt you will think me crazed to talk of such things, but they are all in black and white and good repute on the banks of every canal from Amsterdam to Alkmaar.

“Yours ever,
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 305

“My Poesy is in the hands of its various publishers; but the ‘Hints from Horace’ (to which I have subjoined some savage lines on Methodism, and ferocious notes on the vanity of the triple Editory of the Edin. Annual Register), my ‘Hints,’ I say, stand still, and why?—I have not a friend in the world (but you and Drury) who can construe Horace’s Latin, or my English, well enough to adjust them for the press, or to correct the proofs in a grammatical way. So that, unless you have bowels when you return to town (I am too far off to do it for myself), this ineffable work will be lost to the world for—I don’t know how many weeks.

“‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ must wait till Murray’s is finished. He is making a tour in Middlesex, and is to return soon, when high matter may be expected. He wants to have it in quarto, which is a cursed unsaleable size; but it is pestilent long, and one must obey one’s bookseller. I trust Murray will pass the Paddington Canal without being seduced by Payne and Mackinlay’s example,—I say Payne and Mackinlay, supposing that the partnership held good. Drury, the villain, has not written to me; ‘I am never (as Mrs. Lumpkin says to Tony) to be gratified with the monster’s dear wild notes.’

“So you are going (going indeed!) into orders. You must make your peace with the Eclectic Reviewers—they accuse you of impiety, I fear, with injustice. Demetrius, the ‘Sieger of Cities,’ is here, with ‘Gilpin Horner.’ The painter* is not necessary, as the portraits he already painted are (by anticipation) very like the new animals.—Write, and send me your ‘Love Song’—but I want ‘paulo majora’ from you. Make a dash before you are a deacon, and try a dry publisher.

“Yours always,

It was at this period that I first had the happiness of seeing and becoming acquainted with Lord Byron. The correspondence, in which our acquaintance originated, is, in a high degree, illustrative of the frank manliness of his character; and, as it was begun on my side, some egotism

* Barber, whom he had brought down to Newstead to paint his wolf and his bear.

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must be tolerated in the detail which I have to give of the circumstances that led to it. So far back as the year 1806, on the occasion of a meeting, which took place at Chalk Farm between
Mr. Jeffrey and myself, a good deal of ridicule and raillery, founded on a false representation of what occurred before the magistrates at Bow-street, appeared in almost all the public prints. In consequence of this, I was induced to address a letter to the Editor of one of the Journals, contradicting the falsehood that had been circulated, and stating briefly the real circumstances of the case. For some time, my letter seemed to produce the intended effect,—but, unluckily, the original story was too tempting a theme for humour and sarcasm to be so easily superseded by mere matter of fact. Accordingly, after a little time, whenever the subject was publicly alluded to,—more especially by those who were at all “willing to wound,”—the old falsehood was, for the sake of its ready sting, revived.

In the year 1809, on the first appearance of “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” I found the author, who was then generally understood to be Lord Byron, not only jesting on this subject—and with sufficiently provoking pleasantry and cleverness—in his verse, but giving also, in the more responsible form of a note, an outline of the transaction in accordance with the original misreport, and, therefore, in direct contradiction to my published statement. Still, as the Satire was anonymous and unacknowledged, I did not feel that I was, in any way, called upon to notice it, and therefore dismissed the matter entirely from my mind. In the summer of the same year appeared the Second Edition of the work, with Lord Byron’s name prefixed to it. I was, at the time, in Ireland, and but little in the way of literary society; and it so happened that some months passed away before the appearance of this new edition was known to me. Immediately on being apprized of it,—the offence now assuming a different form—I addressed the following letter to Lord Byron, and, transmitting it to a friend in London, requested that he would have it delivered into his lordship’s hands*.

* This is the only entire letter of my own that, in the course of this work, I mean to obtrude upon my readers. Being short, and in terms more explanatory of the feeling on which I acted than any others that could be substituted, it might be suffered, I thought, to form the

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 307
“Dublin, January 1st, 1810.

“Having just seen the name of ‘Lord Byron’ prefixed to a work, entitled ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ in which, as it appears to me, the lie is given to a public statement of mine, respecting an affair with Mr. Jeffrey some years since, I beg you will have the goodness to inform me whether I may consider your lordship as the author of this publication.

“I shall not, I fear, be able to return to London for a week or two; but, in the mean time, I trust your lordship will not deny me the satisfaction of knowing whether you avow the insult contained in the passages alluded to.

“It is needless to suggest to your lordship the propriety of keeping our correspondence secret.

“I have the honour to be
“Your lordship’s very humble servant,
“22, Molesworth-street.”

In the course of a week, the friend to whom I intrusted this letter wrote to inform me that Lord Byron had, as he learned on inquiring of his publisher, gone abroad immediately on the publication of his Second Edition; but that my letter had been placed in the hands of a gentleman, named Hodgson, who had undertaken to forward it carefully to his lordship. Though the latter step was not exactly what I could have wished, I thought it as well, on the whole, to let my letter take its chance, and again postponed all consideration of the matter.

During the interval of a year and a half which elapsed before Lord Byron’s return, I had taken upon myself obligations, both as husband and father, which make most men,—and especially those who have nothing to bequeath,—less willing to expose themselves unnecessarily to danger. On hearing, therefore, of the arrival of the noble traveller

single exception to my general rule. In all other cases, I shall merely give such extracts from my own letters, as may be necessary to elucidate those of my correspondent.

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from Greece, though still thinking it due to myself to follow up my first request of an explanation. I resolved, in prosecuting that object, to adopt such a tone of conciliation as should not only prove my sincere desire of a pacific result, but show the entire freedom from any angry or resentful feeling with which I took the step. The death of
Mrs. Byron, for some time, delayed my purpose. But as soon after that event as was consistent with decorum, I addressed a letter to Lord Byron, in which, referring to my former communication and expressing some doubts as to its having ever reached him, I re-stated, in pretty nearly the same words, the nature of the insult, which, as it appeared to me, the passage in his note was calculated to convey. “It is now useless,” I continued, “to speak of the steps with which it was my intention to follow up that letter. The time which has elapsed since then, though it has done away neither the injury nor the feeling of it, has, in many respects, materially altered my situation; and the only object which I have now in writing to your lordship is to preserve some consistency with that former letter, and to prove to you that the injured feeling still exists, however circumstances may compel me to be deaf to its dictates, at present. When I say ‘injured feeling,’ let me assure your lordship that there is not a single vindictive sentiment in my mind towards you. I mean but to express that uneasiness, under (what I consider to be) a charge of falsehood, which must haunt a man of any feeling to his grave, unless the insult be retracted or atoned for; and which, if I did not feel, I should, indeed, deserve far worse than your lordship’s satire could inflict upon me.” In conclusion I added, that, so far from being influenced by any angry or resentful feeling towards him, it would give me sincere pleasure, if, by any satisfactory explanation, he would enable me to seek the honour of being henceforward ranked among his acquaintance*.

To this letter, Lord Byron returned the following answer.

* Finding two different draughts of this letter among my papers, I cannot be quite certain as to some of the terms employed; but have little doubt that they are here given correctly.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 309
“Cambridge, October 27th, 1811.

“Your letter followed me from Notts. to this place, which will account for the delay of my reply. Your former letter I never had the honour to receive;—be assured, in whatever part of the world it had found me, I should have deemed it my duty to return and answer it in person.

“The advertisement you mention, I know nothing of.—At the time of your meeting with Mr. Jeffrey, I had recently entered College, and remember to have heard and read a number of squibs on the occasion, and from the recollection of these I derived all my knowledge on the subject, without the slightest idea of ‘giving the lie’ to an address which I never beheld. When I put my name to the production, which has occasioned this correspondence, I became responsible to all whom it might concern,—to explain where it requires explanation, and, where insufficiently or too sufficiently explicit, at all events to satisfy. My situation leaves me no choice; it rests with the injured and the angry to obtain reparation in their own way.

“With regard to the passage in question, you were certainly not the person towards whom I felt personally hostile. On the contrary, my whole thoughts were engrossed by one, whom I had reason to consider as my worst literary enemy, nor could I foresee that his former antagonist was about to become his champion. You do not specify what you would wish to have done: I can neither retract nor apologize for a charge of falsehood which I never advanced.

“In the beginning of the week, I shall be at No. 8, St. James’s-street.—Neither the letter or the friend to whom you stated your intention ever made their appearance.

“Your friend, Mr. Rogers, or any other gentleman delegated by you, will find me most ready to adopt any conciliatory proposition
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which shall not compromise my own honour,—or, failing in that, to make the atonement you deem it necessary to require.

“I have the honour to be, sir,
“your most obedient, humble servant,

In my reply to this, I commenced by saying that his lordship’s letter was, upon the whole, as satisfactory as I could expect. It contained all that, in the strict diplomatique of explanation, could be required, namely,—that he had never seen the statement which I supposed him wilfully to have contradicted,—that he had no intention of bringing against me any charge of falsehood, and that the objectionable passage of his work was not levelled personally at me. This, I added, was all the explanation that I had a right to expect, and I was, of course, satisfied with it.

I then entered into some detail relative to the transmission of my first letter from Dublin,—giving as my reason for descending to these minute particulars, that I did not, I must confess, feel quite easy under the manner in which his lordship had noticed the miscarriage of that first application to him.

My reply concluded thus:—“As your lordship does not show any wish to proceed beyond the rigid formulary of explanation, it is not for me to make any further advances. We, Irishmen, in businesses of this kind, seldom know any medium between decided hostility and decided friendship;—but, as any approaches towards the latter alternative must now depend entirely on your lordship, I have only to repeat that I am satisfied with your letter, and that I have the honour to be,” &c. &c.

On the following day, I received the annexed rejoinder from Lord Byron.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 311
“8, St. James’s-street, October 29th, 1811.

“Soon after my return to England, my friend. Mr. Hodgson, apprized me that a letter for me was in his possession; but a domestic event hurrying me from London, immediately after, the letter (which may most probably be your own) is still unopened in his keeping. If, on examination of the address, the similarity of the handwriting should lead to such a conclusion, it shall be opened in your presence, for the satisfaction of all parties. Mr. H. is at present out of town;—on Friday I shall see him, and request him to forward it to my address.

“With regard to the latter part of both your letters, until the principal point was discussed between us, I felt myself at a loss in what manner to reply. Was I to anticipate friendship from one, who conceived me to have charged him with falsehood? Were not advances, under such circumstances, to be misconstrued,—not, perhaps, by the person to whom they were addressed, but by others? In my case, such a step was impracticable. If you, who conceived yourself to be the offended person, are satisfied that you had no cause for offence, it will not be difficult to convince me of it. My situation, as I have before stated, leaves me no choice. I should have felt proud of your acquaintance, had it commenced under other circumstances; but it must rest with you to determine how far it may proceed after so auspicious a beginning.

“I have the honour to be, &c.”

Somewhat piqued, I own, at the manner in which my efforts towards a more friendly understanding,—ill-timed as I confess them to have been,—were received. I hastened to close our correspondence by a short note, saying, that his lordship had made me feel the imprudence I was guilty of, in wandering from the point immediately in discussion
312 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1811.
between us; and I should now, therefore, only add, that if, in my last letter, I had correctly stated the substance of his explanation, our correspondence might, from this moment, cease for ever, as with that explanation I declared myself satisfied.

This brief note drew immediately from Lord Byron the following frank and open-hearted reply.

“8, St James’s-street, October 30th, 1811.

“You must excuse my troubling you once more upon this very unpleasant subject. It would be a satisfaction to me, and I should think, to yourself, that the unopened letter in Mr. Hodgson’s possession (supposing it to prove your own) should be returned ‘in statu quo’ to the writer; particularly as you expressed yourself ‘not quite easy under the manner in which I had dwelt on its miscarriage.’

“A few words more, and I shall not trouble you further. I felt, and still feel, very much flattered by those parts of your correspondence, which held out the prospect of our becoming acquainted. If I did not meet them, in the first instance, as perhaps I ought, let the situation in which I was placed he my defence. You have now declared yourself satisfied, and on that point we are no longer at issue. If, therefore, you still retain any wish to do me the honour you hinted at, I shall be most happy to meet you, when, where, and how you please, and I presume you will not attribute my saying thus much to any unworthy motive.

“I have the honour to remain, &c.”

On receiving this letter, I went instantly to my friend, Mr. Rogers, who was, at that time, on a visit at Holland House, and, for the first time, informed him of the correspondence in which I had been engaged. With his usual readiness to oblige and serve, he proposed that
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 313
the meeting between Lord Byron and myself should take place at his table, and requested of me to convey to the noble lord his wish, that he would do him the honour of naming some day for that purpose. The following is Lord Byron’s answer to the note which I then wrote.

“8, St. James’s-street, November 1st, 1811.

As I should be very sorry to interrupt your Sunday’s engagement, if Monday, or any other day of the ensuing week, would be equally convenient to yourself and friend, I will then have the honour of accepting his invitation. Of the professions of esteem with which Mr. Rogers has honoured me, I cannot but feel proud, though undeserving. I should be wanting to myself, if insensible to the praise of such a man; and, should my approaching interview with him and his friend lead to any degree of intimacy with both or either, I shall regard our past correspondence as one of the happiest events of my life.

“I have the honour to be,
“Your very sincere and obedient servant,

It can hardly, I think, be necessary to call the reader’s attention to the good sense, self-possession, and frankness of these letters of Lord Byron. I had placed him—by the somewhat national confusion which I had made of the boundaries of peace and war, of hostility and friendship,—in a position which, ignorant as he was of the character of the person who addressed him, it required all the watchfulness of his sense of honour to guard from surprise or snare. Hence, the judicious reserve with which he abstained from noticing my advances towards acquaintance, till he should have ascertained exactly whether the explanation which he was willing to give would be such as his correspondent would be satisfied to receive. The moment he was set at
314 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1811.
rest on this point, the frankness of his nature displayed itself; and the disregard of all further mediation or etiquette with which he at once professed himself ready to meet me “when, where, and how” I pleased, showed that he could be as pliant and confiding after such an understanding, as he had been judiciously reserved and punctilious before it.

Such did I find Lord Byron, on my first experience of him; and such,—so open and manly-minded,—did I find him to the last.

It was, at first, intended by Mr. Rogers that his company at dinner should not extend beyond Lord Byron and myself; but Mr. Thomas Campbell, having called upon our host that morning, was invited to join the party, and consented. Such a meeting could not be otherwise than interesting to us all. It was the first time that Lord Byron was ever seen by any of his three companions; while he, on his side, for the first time, found himself in the society of persons, whose names had been associated with his first literary dreams, and to two* of whom he looked up with that tributary admiration, which youthful genius is ever ready to pay to its precursors.

Among the impressions which this meeting left upon me, what I chiefly remember to have remarked was the nobleness of his air, his beauty, the gentleness of his voice and manners, and—what was, naturally, not the least attraction—his marked kindness to myself. Being in mourning for his mother, the colour, as well of his dress, as of his glossy, curling, and picturesque hair, gave more effect to the pure, spiritual paleness of his features, in the expression of which, when he spoke, there was a perpetual play of lively thought, though melancholy was their habitual character, when in repose.

As we had none of us been apprized of his peculiarities with respect to food, the embarrassment of our host was not a little, on discovering that there was nothing upon the table which his noble guest could eat or drink. Neither meat, fish, or wine would Lord Byron touch; and of biscuits and soda-water, which he asked for, there had been, unluckily, no

* In speaking thus, I beg to disclaim all affected modesty. Lord Byron had already made the same distinction himself in the opinions which he expressed of the living poets; and I cannot but be aware that, for the praises which he afterwards bestowed my writings, I was, in a great degree, indebted to his partiality to myself.

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 315
provision. He professed, however, to be equally well pleased with potatoes and vinegar; and of these meagre materials contrived to make rather a hearty dinner.

I shall now resume the series of his correspondence with other friends.

“8, St. James’s-street, December 6th, 1811.

“I write again, but don’t suppose I mean to lay such a tax on your pen and patience as to expect regular replies. When you are inclined, write; when silent, I shall have the consolation of knowing that you are much better employed. Yesterday, Bland and I called on Mr. Miller, who, being then out, will call on Bland* to-day or to-morrow. I shall certainly endeavour to bring them together.—You are censorious, child; when you are a little older, you will learn to dislike every body, but abuse nobody.

“With regard to the person of whom you speak, your own good sense must direct you. I never pretend to advise, being an implicit believer in the old proverb. This present frost is detestable. It is the first I have felt these three years, though I longed for one in the oriental summer, when no such thing is to be had, unless I had gone to the top of Hymettus for it.

“I thank you most truly for the concluding part of your letter. I have been of late not much accustomed to kindness from any quarter, and I am not the less pleased to meet with it again from one, where I had known it earliest. I have not changed in all my ramblings,—Harrow and, of course, yourself never left me, and the
‘Dulcea reminiscitur Argos’

* The Rev. Robert Bland, one of the authors of “Collections from the Greek Anthology.” Lord Byron was, at this time, endeavouring to secure for Mr. Bland the task of translating Lucien Buonaparte’s Poem.

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attended me to the very spot to which that sentence alludes in the mind of the fallen Argive.—Our intimacy began before we began to date at all, and it rests with you to continue it till the hour which must number it and me with the things that were.

“Do read mathematics.—I should think X plus Y at least as amusing as the Curse of Kehama, and much more intelligible. Master S.’s poems are, in fact, what parallel lines might be—viz., prolonged ad infinitum without meeting any thing half so absurd as themselves.

“What news, what news? Queen Orraca,
What news of scribblers five?
All damn’d, though yet alive.

C——e is lecturing. ‘Many an old fool,’ said Hannibal to some such lecturer, ‘but such as this, never.’

“Ever yours, &c.”
“8, St. James’s-street, Dec. 8th, 1811.

“Behold a most formidable sheet, without gilt or black edging, and consequently very vulgar and indecorous, particularly to one of your precision; but this being Sunday, I can procure no better, and will atone for its length by not filling it. Bland I have not seen since my last letter; but on Tuesday he dines with me and will meet M * * e, the epitome of all that is exquisite in poetical or personal accomplishments. How Bland has settled with Miller, I know not. I have very little interest with either, and they must arrange their concerns according to their own gusto. I have done my endeavours, at your request, to bring them together, and hope they may agree to their mutual advantage.

Coleridge has been lecturing against Campbell. Rogers was present, and from him I derive the information. We are going to make a party to hear this Manichean of poesy.—Pole is to marry Miss Long,
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 317
and will be a very miserable dog for all that. The present ministers are to continue, and
his majesty does continue in the same state. So there’s folly and madness for you, both in a breath.

“I never heard but of one man truly fortunate, and he was Beaumarchais, the author of Figaro, who buried two wives and gained three lawsuits before he was thirty.

“And now, child, what art thou doing? Reading, I trust. I want to see you take a degree. Remember this is the most important period of your life; and don’t disappoint your papa and your aunt, and all your kin—besides myself. Don’t you know that all male children are begotten for the express purpose of being graduates? and that even I am an A.M., though how I became so, the Public Orator only can resolve. Besides, you are to be a priest; and to confute Sir William Drummond’s late book about the Bible (printed, but not published), and all other infidels whatever. Now leave master H.’s gig, and master S.’s Sapphics, and become as immortal as Cambridge can make you.

“You see, Mio Carissimo, what a pestilent correspondent I am likely to become; but then you shall be as quiet at Newstead as you please, and I won’t disturb your studies, as I do now. When do you fix the day, that I may take you up according to contract? Hodgson talks of making a third in our journey: but we can’t stow him, inside at least. Positively you shall go with me as was agreed, and don’t let me have any of your politesse to H. on the occasion. I shall manage to arrange for both with a little contrivance. I wish H. was not quite so fat, and we should pack better. Has he left off vinous liquors? He is an excellent soul; but I don’t think water would improve him, at least internally. You will want to know what I am doing—chewing tobacco.

“You see nothing of my allies, Scrope Davies and Matthews*—they don’t suit you; and how does it happen that I—who am a pipkin of the same pottery—continue in your good graces? Good night,—I will go on in the morning.

“Dec. 9th. In a morning I’m always sullen, and to-day is as sombre as myself. Rain and mist are worse than a sirocco, particularly in a

* The brother of his late friend, Charles Skinner Matthew.

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beef-eating and beer-drinking country. My bookseller,
Cawthorne, has just left me, and tells me, with a most important face, that he is in treaty for a novel of Madame D’Arblay’s, for which 1000 guineas are asked! He wants me to read the MS. (if he obtains it), which I shall do with pleasure; but I should be very cautious in venturing an opinion on her, whose Cecilia Dr. Johnson superintended. If he lends it to me, I shall put it into the hands of Rogers and M * * e, who are truly men of taste. I have filled the sheet, and beg your pardon; I will not do it again. I shall, perhaps, write again, but if not, believe, silent or scribbling, that I am, my dearest William, ever, &c.”

“London, Dec. 8th, 1811.

“I sent you a sad Tale of Three Friars the other day, and now take a dose in another style. I wrote it a day or two ago, on hearing a song of former days.
“Away, away, ye notes of woe*, &c. &c.

“I have gotten a book by Sir W. Drummond (printed, but not published), entitled Œdipus Judaicus, in which he attempts to prove the greater part of the Old Testament an allegory, particularly Genesis and Joshua. He professes himself a theist in the preface, and handles the literal interpretation very roughly. I wish you could see it. Mr. W * * has lent it me, and I confess, to me, it is worth fifty Watsons.

“You and Harness must fix on the time for your visit to Newstead; I can command mine at your wish, unless any thing particular occurs in the interim. * * * Bland dines with me on Tuesday to meet Moore. Coleridge has attacked the ‘Pleasures of Hope,’ and all other pleasures whatsoever. SaRoger1855 was present, and heard himself indirectly rowed by the lecturer. We are going in a party to hear the new Art of Poetry by this reformed schismatic; and were I one of these

* This poem is now printed in Lord Byron’s Works.

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poetical luminaries, or of sufficient consequence to be noticed by the man of lectures, I should not hear him without an answer. For, you know, ‘an’ a man will be beaten with brains, he shall never keep a clean doublet.’
C * * will be desperately annoyed. I never saw a man (and of him I have seen very little) so sensitive;—what a happy temperament! I am sorry for it; what can he fear from criticism? I don’t know if Bland has seen Miller, who was to call on him yesterday.

“To-day is the Sabbath,—a day I never pass pleasantly, but at Cambridge; and, even there, the organ is a sad remembrancer. Things are stagnant enough in town,—as long as they don’t retrograde, ’tis all very well. H * * writes and writes and writes, and is an author. I do nothing but eschew tobacco. I wish parliament were assembled, that I may hear, and perhaps some day be heard;—but on this point I am not very sanguine. I have many plans;—sometimes I think of the East again, and dearly beloved Greece. I am well, but weakly. Yesterday Kinnaird told me I looked very ill, and sent me home happy.

“You will never give up wine;—see what it is to be thirty; if you were six years younger, you might leave off any thing. You drink and repent, you repent and drink. Is Scrope still interesting and invalid? And how does Hinde with his cursed chemistry? To Harness I have written, and he has written, and we have all written, and have nothing now to do but write again, till death splits up the pen and the scribbler.

“The Alfred has 354 candidates for six vacancies. The cook has run away and left us liable, which makes our committee very plaintive. Master Brook, our head serving-man, has the gout, and our new cook is none of the best. I speak from report,—for what is cookery to a leguminous-eating ascetic? So now you know as much of the matter as I do. Books and quiet are still there, and they may dress their dishes in their own way for me. Let me know your determination as to Newstead, and believe me,

“Yours ever,
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“8, St. James’s-street, Dec. 12th, 1811.

“Why, Hodgson! I fear you have left off wine and me at the same time,—I have written and written and written, and no answer! My dear Sir Edgar, water disagrees with you,—drink sack and write. Bland did not come to his appointment, being unwell, but M * * e supplied all other vacancies most delectably. I have hopes of his joining us at Newstead. I am sure you would like him more and more as he developes,—at least I do.

“How Miller and Bland go on, I don’t know. Cawthorne talks of being in treaty for a novel of Me. D’Arblay’s, and if he obtains it (at 1000 gs.!!) wishes me to see the MS. This I should read with pleasure,—not that I should ever dare to venture a criticism on her whose writings Dr. Johnson once revised, but for the pleasure of the thing. If my worthy publisher wanted a sound opinion, I should send the MS. to Rogers and M * * e, as men most alive to true taste. I have had frequent letters from Wm. Harness, and you are silent; certes, you are not a schoolboy. However, I have the consolation of knowing that you are better employed, viz. reviewing. You don’t deserve that I should add another syllable, and I won’t. Yours, &c.

“P.S. I only wait for your answer to fix our meeting.”

“8, St. James’s-Street, December l5, 1811.

“I wrote you an answer to your last, which, on reflection, pleases me as little as it probably has pleased yourself. I will not wait for your rejoinder; but proceed to tell you, that I had just then been greeted with an epistle of * *’s, full of his petty grievances, and this at the moment when (from circumstances it is not necessary to enter upon) I was bearing up against recollections to which his imaginary sufferings
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 321
are as a scratch to a cancer. These things combined, put me out of humour with him and all mankind. The latter part of my life has been a perpetual struggle against affections which imbittered the earliest portion; and though I flatter myself I have in a great measure conquered them, yet there are moments (and this was one) when I am as foolish as formerly. I never said so much before, nor had I said this now, if I did not suspect myself of having been rather savage in my letter, and wish to inform you thus much of the cause. You know I am not one of your dolorous gentlemen: so now let us laugh again.

“Yesterday I went with Moore to Sydenham to visit Campbell*. He was not visible, so we jogged homeward, merrily enough. Tomorrow I dine with Rogers, and am to hear Coleridge, who is a kind of rage at present. Last night I saw Kemble in Coriolanus;—he was glorious, and exerted himself wonderfully. By good luck, I got an excellent place in the best part of the house, which was more than overflowing, Clare and Delawarre, who were there on the same speculation, were less fortunate. I saw them by accident,—we were not together. I wished for you, to gratify your love of Shakspeare and of fine acting to its fullest extent. Last week I saw an exhibition of a different kind in a Mr. Coates, at the Haymarket, who performed Lothario in a damned and damnable manner.

“I told you of the fate of B. and H. in my last. So much for these sentimentalists, who console themselves in their stews for the loss—the never to be recovered loss—the despair of the refined attachment of a couple of drabs! You censure my life, Harness,—when I compare myself with these men, my elders and my betters, I really begin to conceive myself a monument of prudence—a walking statue—without feeling or failing; and yet the world in general hath given me a proud pre-eminence over them in profligacy. Yet I like the men, and, God

* On this occasion, another of the noble poet’s peculiarities was, somewhat startlingly, introduced to my notice. When we were on the point of setting out from his lodgings in St. James’s-street, it being then about mid-day, he said to the servant, who was shutting the door of the via-à-vis, “Have you put in the pistols?” and was answered in the affirmative. It was difficult,—more especially, taking into account the circumstances under which we had just become acquainted,—to keep from smiling at this singular noon-day precaution.

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knows, ought not to condemn their aberrations. But I own I feel provoked when they dignify all this by the name of love—romantic attachments for things marketable for a dollar!

“Dec. 16th.—I have just received your letter;—I feel your kindness very deeply. The foregoing part of my letter, written yesterday, will, I hope, account for the tone of the former, though it cannot excuse it. I do like to hear from you—more than like. Next to seeing you, I have no greater satisfaction. But you have other duties and greater pleasures, and I should regret to take a moment from either. H * * was to call to-day, but I have not seen him. The circumstances you mention at the close of your letter is another proof in favour of my opinion of mankind. Such you will always find them—selfish and distrustful. I except none. The cause of this is the state of society. In the world, every one is to stir for himself—it is useless, perhaps selfish, to expect any thing from his neighbour. But I do not think we are born of this disposition; for you find friendship, as a schoolboy, and love enough before twenty.

“I went to see * *; he keeps me in town, where I don’t wish to be at present. He is a good man, but totally without conduct. And now, my dearest William, I must wish you good morrow, and remain ever most sincerely and affectionately yours, &c.”

From the time of our first meeting, there seldom elapsed a day that Lord Byron and I did not see each other; and our acquaintance ripened into intimacy and friendship with a rapidity of which I have seldom known an example. I was, indeed, lucky in all the circumstances that attended my first introduction to him. In a generous nature like his, the pleasure of repairing an injustice would naturally give a zest to any partiality I might have inspired in his mind; while the manner in which I had sought this reparation, free as it was from resentment or defiance, left nothing painful to remember in the transaction between us,—no compromise or concession that could wound self-love, or take away from the grace of that frank friendship, to which he at once, so cordially and so unhesitatingly, admitted me. I was also not a little fortunate in forming my acquaintance with him, before his success had yet reached its meridian burst,—before the triumphs that were in store
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 323
for him had brought the world all in homage at his feet, and, among the splendid crowds that courted his society, even claims less humble than mine had but a feeble chance of fixing his regard. As it was, the new scene of life that opened upon him with his success, instead of detaching us from each other, only multiplied our opportunities of meeting, and increased our intimacy. In that society where his birth entitled him to move, circumstances had already placed me, notwithstanding mine; and when, after the appearance of “
Childe Harold,” he began to mingle with the world, the same persons, who had long been my intimates and friends, became his; our visits were mostly to the same places, and, in the gay and giddy round of a London spring, we were generally (as in one of his own letters he expresses it) “embarked in the same Ship of Fools together.”

But, at the time when we first met, his position in the world was most solitary. Even those coffee-house companions who, before his departure from England, had served him as a sort of substitute for more worthy society, were either relinquished or had dispersed; and, with the exception of three or four associates of his college days (to whom he appeared strongly attached), Mr. Dallas and his solicitor seemed to be the only persons whom, even in their very questionable degree, he could boast of as friends. Though too proud to complain of this loneliness, it was evident that he felt it; and that the state of cheerless isolation, “unguided and unfriended,” to which, on entering into manhood, he had found himself abandoned, was one of the chief sources of that resentful disdain of mankind, which even their subsequent worship of him came too late to remove. The effect, indeed, which his short commerce with society afterwards had, for the period it lasted, in softening and exhilarating his temper, showed how fit a soil his heart would have been for the growth of all the kindlier feelings, had but a portion of this sunshine of the world’s smiles shone on him earlier.

At the same time, in all such speculations and conjectures as to what might have been, under more favourable circumstances, his character, it is invariably to be borne in mind, that his very defects were among the elements of his greatness, and that it was out of the struggle between the good and evil principles of his nature that his mighty genius drew
324 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1811.
its strength. A more genial and fostering introduction into life, while it would doubtless have softened and disciplined his mind, might have impaired its vigour; and the same influences that would have diffused smoothness and happiness over his life might have been fatal to its glory. In a
short poem of his*, which appears to have been produced at Athens (as I find it written on a leaf of the original MS. of Childe Harold, and dated “Athens, 1811,”) there are two lines which, though hardly intelligible as connected with the rest of the poem, may, taken separately, be interpreted as implying a sort of prophetic consciousness that it was out of the wreck and ruin of all his hopes the immortality of his name was to arise.

“Dear object of defeated care,
Though now of love and thee bereft,
To reconcile me with despair,
Thine image and my tears are left.
’Tis said with sorrow Time can cope,
But this, I feel, can ne’er be true;
For, by the death-blow of my hope,
My Memory immortal grew!

We frequently, during the first months of our acquaintance, dined together alone; and as we had no club, in common, to resort to,—the Alfred being the only one to which he, at that period, belonged, and I being then a member of none but Watier’s,—our dinners used to be either at the St. Alban’s, or at his old haunt, Stevens’s. Though at times he would drink freely enough of claret, he still adhered to his system of abstinence in food. He appeared, indeed, to have conceived a notion that animal food has some peculiar influence on the character; and I remember, one day, as I sat opposite to him, employed, I suppose, rather earnestly over a beefsteak, after watching me for a few seconds, he said, in a grave tone of inquiry—“Moore, don’t you find eating beef-steak makes you ferocious?”

Understanding me to have expressed a wish to become a member of the Alfred, he very good-naturedly lost no time in proposing me as

* “Written beneath the picture of ——.”

A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 325
a candidate; but as the resolution which I had then nearly formed of betaking myself to a country life rendered an additional club in London superfluous, I wrote to beg that he would, for the present, at least, withdraw my name; and his answer, though containing little, being the first familiar note he ever honoured me with, I may be excused for feeling a peculiar pleasure in inserting it.

“December 11th, 1811.

“If you please, we will drop our formal monosyllables, and adhere to the appellations sanctioned by our godfathers and godmothers. If you make it a point, I will withdraw your name; at the same time there is no occasion, as I have this day, postponed your election ‘sine die,’ till it shall suit your wishes to be amongst us. I do not say this from any awkwardness the erasure of your proposal would occasion to me, but simply such is the state of the case; and, indeed, the longer your name is up, the stronger will become the probability of success, and your voters more numerous. Of course you will decide—your wish shall be my law. If my zeal has already outrun discretion, pardon me, and attribute my officiousness to an excusable motive.

“I wish you would go down with me to Newstead. Hodgson will be there, and a young friend, named Harness, the earliest and dearest I ever had from the third form at Harrow to this hour. I can promise you good wine, and, if you like shooting, a manor of 4000 acres, fires, books, your own free will, and my own very indifferent company. ‘Balnea, vina * *’ * * *

Hodgson will plague you, I fear, with verse;—for my own part, I will conclude, with Martial, ‘nil recitabo tibi;’ and surely the last inducement is not the least. Ponder on my proposition, and believe me, my dear Moore,

“Yours ever,