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Letters akd Journals of Lord Bvron, tvith Notices of 
HIS Life, to the Period of his Return from the Con- 
tinent, July, 1811. 








December, 1829. 

A 4 




In presenting these Volumes to the public I should 
have felt, I own, considerable diffidence, from a 
sincere distrust in my own powers of doing justice 
to such a task, were I not well convinced that there 
is in the subject itself, and in the rich variety of 
materials here brought to illustrate it, a degree of 
attraction and interest which it would be difficult, 
even for hands the most unskilful, to extinguish. 
However lamentable were the circumstances under 
which Lord Byron became estranged from his 
country, to his long absence from England, during 
the most brilliant period of his powers, we are in- 
debted for all those interesting letters which com- 
pose the greater part of the Second Volume of this 
work, and which will be found equal, if not superior, 
in point of vigour, variety, and liveliness, to any that 
have yet adorned this branch of our literature. 

• Published in two volumes, 4to. 



What has been said of Petrarch, that " his cor- 
respondence and verses together afford the progres- 
sive interest of a narrative in which the poet is always 
\ identified with the man," will be found applicable, 
f in a far greater degree, to Lord Byron, in whom the 
(literary and the personal character were so closely 
interwoven, that to have left his works without the 
instructive commentary which his Life and Corre- 
spondence afford, would have been equally an injus- 
tice both to himself and to the world. 




The favourable reception which I ventured to an- 
ticipate for the First Volume of this work has been, 
to the full extent of my expectations, realised ; and 
I may without scruple thus advert to the success it 
has met with, being well aware that to the interest 
of the subject and the materials, not to any merit of 
the editor, such a result is to be attributed. Among 
the less agreeable, though not least valid, proofs of 
this success may be counted the attacks which, from 
more than one quarter, the Volume has provoked ; — 
attacks angry enough, it must be confessed, but, 
from their very anger, impotent, and, as containing 
nothing whatever in the shape either of argument 
or fact, not entitled, I may be pardoned for saying, 
to the slightest notice. 

Of a very different description, both as regards 
the respectability of the source from whence it 
comes, and the mysterious interest involved in its 


contents, is a document which made its appearance 
soon after the former Volume*, and which I 
have annexed, without a single line of comment, to 
the present; — contenting myself, on this painful 
subject, with entreating the reader's attention to 
some extracts, as beautiful as they are, to my mind, 
convincing, from an unpublished pamphlet of Lord 
Byron, which will be found in the following pages. f 
Sanguinely as I was led to augur of the reception 
of our First Volume, of the success of that which we 
now present to the public, I am disposed to feel 
even still more confident. Though self-banished 
from England, it was plain that to England alone 
Lord Byron continued to look, throughout the re- 
mainder of his days, not only as the natural theatre 
of his literary fame, but as the tribunal to which all 
his thoughts, feelings, virtues, and frailties were to 
be referred ; and the exclamation of Alexander, 
" Oh, Athenians, how much it costs me to obtain 
your praises ! " might have been, with equal truth, 
addressed by the noble exile to his countrymen. To 
keep the minds of the English public for ever occu- 
pied about him, — if not with his merits, with his 

* It is almost unnecessary to apprise the reader that the 
paragraph at the bottom of p. 222. vol. iv. was written before 
the appearance of this extraordinary paper. 

f From p. 4. to 11. vol. v. inclusive. 


faults; if not in applauding, in blaming him, — was, 
day and night, the constant ambition of his soul ; and 
in the correspondence he so regularly maintained 
with his publisher, one of the chief mediums through 
which this object was to be effected lay. Mr. Mur- 
ray's house being then, as now, the resort of most 
of those literary men who are, at the same time, 
men of the world, his Lordship knew that whatever 
particulars he might wish to make public concerning 
himself, would, if transmitted to that quarter, be 
sure to circulate from thence throughout society. 
It was on this presumption that he but rarely, as we 
shall find him more than once stating, corresponded 
with any others of his friends at home ; and to the 
mere accident of my having been, mj'^self, away 
from England, at the time, was I indebted for the 
numerous and no less interesting letters with which, 
during the same period, he honoured me, and which 
now enrich this volume. 

In these two sets of correspondence (given, as 
they are here, with as little suppression as a regard 
to private feelings and to certain other considerations, 
warrants) will be found a complete histor}'^, from the 
pen of the poet himself, of the course of his life and 
thoughts, during this most energetic period of his 
whole career ; — presenting altogether so wide a 
canvass of animated and, oflen, unconscious self- 
portraiture, as even the communicative spirit of 


genius has seldom, if ever, before bestowed on the 

Some insinuations, calling into question the dis- 
interestedness of the lady whose fate was connected 
with that of Lord Byron during his latter years, 
having been brought forward, or rather revived, in 
a late work, entitled "Gait's Life of Byron," — a 
work wholly unworthy of the respectable name it 
bears, — I may be allowed to adduce here a testi- 
mony on this subject, which has been omitted in its 
proper place f, but which will be more than sufficient 
to set the idle calumny at rest. The circumstance 
here alluded to may be most clearly, perhaps, com- 
municated to my readers through the medium of 
the following extract from a letter, which Mr. Barry 
(the friend and banker of Lord Byron) did me the 
favour of addressing to me soon after his Lordship's 
death :j: : — " When Lord Byron went to Greece, he 
gave me orders to advance money to Madame G * * ; 
but that lady would never consent to receive any. 
His Lordship had also told me that he meant to 
leave his will in my hands, and that there would be 
a bequest in it of 10,000/. to Madame G * *. He 
mentioned this circumstance also to Lord Blessing- 

+ In p. 232. vol. iv. however, the reader will find it 
alluded to, and in terms such as conduct so disinterested 

I June 12. 1828. 


ton. Wlien the melancholy news of his death 
reached me, I took for granted that this will would 
be found among the sealed papers he had left with 
me ; but there was no such instrument. I imme- 
diately then wrote to Madame G * *, enquiring if 
she knew any thing concerning it, and mentioning, 
at the same time, what his Lordship had said as to 
the legacy. To this the lady replied, that he had 
frequently spoken to her on the same subject, but 
that she had always cut the conversation short, as it 
was a topic she by no means liked to hear him speak 
upon. In addition, she expressed a wish that no 
such will as I had mentioned would be found ; as her 
circumstances were already sufficiently independent, 
and the world might put a wrong construction on 
her attachment, should it appear that her fortunes 
were, in any degree, bettered by it." 




It has been said of Lord Byron, " that he was 
prouder of being a descendant of those Byrons of 
Normandy, who accompanied WilHam the Con- 
queror into England, than of having been the author 
of Childe Harold and Manfred." This remark is 
not altogether unfounded in truth. In the character 
of the noble poet, the pride of ancestry was un- 
doubtedly one of the most decided features ; and, 
as far as antiquity alone gives lustre to descent, he 
had every reason to boast of tlie claims of his race. 
In Doomsday-book, the name of Ralph de Burun 
ranks high among the tenants of land in Notting- 
hamshire ; and in the succeeding reigns, under the 
title of Lords of Horestan Castle *, we find his 
descendants holding considerable possessions in 
Derbyshire; to which, afterwards, in the time of 

* " In the park of Horseley," says Thoroton, " there was 
a castle, some of the ruins whereof are yet visible, called Ho- 
restan Castle, which was the chief mansion of his (Ralph do 
Burun 's) successors." 

VOL. I. 3 


Edward I., were added the lands of Rochdale in 
Lancashh'e. So extensive, indeed, in those early 
times, was the landed wealth of the family, that the 
partition of their property, in Nottinghamshire alone, 
has been sufficient to establish some of the first fami- 
lies of the county. 

Its antiquity, however, was not the only distinction 
by which the name of Byron came recommended to 
its inheritor ; those personal merits and accomplish- 
ments, which form the best ornament of a genealogy, 
seem to have been displayed in no ordinary degree 
by some of his ancestors. In one of his own early 
poems, alluding to the achievements of his race, he 
commemorates, with much satisfaction, those " mail- 
covered barons " among them, 

who proudly to battle 
Led their vassals from Europe to Palestine's plain. 


Near Askalon's towers John of Horiston slumbers, 
Unnerved is the hand of his minstrel by death. 

As there is no record, however, as far as I can 
discover, of any of his ancestors having been engaged 
in the Holy Wars, it is possible that he may have 
had no other authority for this notion than the 
tradition which he found connected with certain 
strange groups of heads, which are represented on 
the old panel-work, in some of the chambers at 
Newstead. In one of these groups, consisting of 
three heads, strongly carved and projecting from the 
panel, the centre figure evidently represents a 
Saracen or Moor, with an European female on one 
side of him, and a Christian soldier on the other. 

1606. LIFE OF LOUD BYROr^ 3 

In a second group, which is in one of the bedrooms, 
the female occupies the centre, while on each side 
is the head of a Saracen, with the eyes fixed earnestly 
upon her. Of the exact meaning of these figures 
there is nothing certain known ; but the tradition is, 
I understand, that they refer to some love-adventure, 
in which one of those crusaders, of whom the young 
poet speaks, was engaged. 

Of the more certain, or, at least, better known 
exploits of the family, it is sufficient, perhaps, to say, 
that, at the siege of Calais under Edward III., 
and on the fields, memorable in their respective 
eras, of Cressy, Bosworth, and Marston Moor, the 
name of the Byrons reaped honours both of rank 
and fame, of which their young descendant has, 
in the verses just cited, shown himself proudly 

It was in the reign of Henry VIII., on the dis- 
solution of the monasteries, that, by a royal grant, 
the church and priory of Newstead, with the lands 
adjoining, were added to the other possessions of the 
Byron family.* The favourite upon whom these 

* The priory of Newstead had been founded and dedicated to 
God and the Virgin, by Henry II. ; and its monks, who were 
canons regular of the order of St. Augustine, appear to have 
been peculiarly tlie objects of royal favour, no less in spiritual 
than in temporal concerns. During the lifetime of the fifth 
Lord Byron, there was found in the lake at Newstead, — 
where it is supposed to have been thrown for concealment by 
the monks, — a large brass eagle, in the body of which, on its 
being sent to be cleaned, was discovered a secret aperture, con- 
cealing within it a number of old legal papers connected with 
the riglits and privileges of the foundation. At the sale of the 

B 2 


spoils of the ancient religion were conferred, was 
the grand-nephew of the gallant soldier who fought 
by the side of Richmond at Bosworth, and is dis- 
tinguished from the other knights of the same 
Christian name in the family, by the title of " Sir 
John Byron the Little, with the great beard." A 
portrait of this personage was one of the few family 
pictures with which the walls of the abbey, while in 
the possession of the noble poet, were decorated. 

At the coronation of James I. we find another 
representative of the family selected as an object of 
royal favour, — the grandson of Sir John Byron the 
Little, being, on this occasion, made a knight of the 
Bath. There is a letter to this personage, preserved 
in Lodge's Illustrations, from which it appears, that 
notwithstanding all these apparent indications of 
prosperity, the inroads of pecuniary embarrassment 
had already begun to be experienced by this ancient 

old lord's effects in 1776-7, this eagle, together with three can- 
delabra, found at the same time, was purchased by a watch- 
maker of Nottingham (by whom the concealed manuscripts 
were discovered), and having from his hands passed into those 
of Sir Richard Kaye, a prebendary of Southwell, forms at pre- 
sent a very remarkable ornament of the cathedral of that place. 
A curious document, said to have been among those found in 
the eagle, is now in the possession of Colonel Wildman, con- 
taining a grant of full pardon from Henry V. of every possi- 
ble crime (and there is a tolerably long catalogue enumerated) 
which the monks might have committed previous to the 8th of 
December preceding : — " Murdris, per ipsos post decimvm 
nonum diem Xovembris, ultimo prseteritum perpetratis, si quae 
fuerint, exceptis." 


house. After counselling the new heir as to the 
best mode of getting free of his debts, " I do there- 
fore advise you," continues the writer*, " that so 
soon as you have, in such sort as shall be fit, finished 
your father's funerals, to dispose and disperse that 
great household, reducing them to the number of forty 
or fifty, at the most, of all sorts ; and, in my opinion, 
it will be far better for you to live for a time in 
Lancashire rather than in Notts, for many good rea- 
sons that I can tell you when we meet, fitter for 
words than writing." 

From the following reign (Charles I.) the nobility 
of the family date its origin. In the year 1643, Sir 
John Byron, great grandson of him who succeeded to 
the ricli domains of Nevvstead, was created Baron 
Byron of Rochdale in the county of Lancaster ; and 
seldom has a title been bestowed for such high and 
honourable services as those by which this nobleman 
deserved the gratitude of his royal master. Through 
almost every page of the History of the Civil Wars, 
we trace his name in connection with the varying 
fortunes of the king, and find him faithful, persever- 
ing, and disinterested to the last. " Sir John Biron," 
says the writer of Colonel Hutchinson's Memoirs, 
" afterwards Lord Biron, and all his brothers, bred 
up in arms, and valiant men in their own persons, 
were all passionately the king's." There is also, in 
the answer which Colonel Hutchinson, when go- 
vernor of Nottingham, returned, on one occasion, to 
his cousin-german. Sir Richard Biron, a noble tri- 

* The Earl of Shrewsbury. 
B 3 


bute to the valour and fidelity of the family. Sir 
Richard having sent to prevail on his relative to 
surrender the castle, received for answer, that 
" except he found his own heart prone to such 
treachery, he might consider there was, if nothing 
else, so much of a Biron's blood in him, that he 
should very much scorn to betray or quit a trust he 
had undertaken." 

Such are a few of the gallant and distinguished 
personages, through v/hom the name and honours of 
this noble house have been transmitted. By the 
maternal side also Lord Byron had to pride himself 
on a line of ancestry as illustrious as any that Scot- 
land can boast, — his mother, who was one of the 
Gordons of Gight, having been a descendant of that 
Sir WilUam Gordon who was the third son of the 
Earl of Huntley, by the daughter of James I. 

After the eventful period of the Civil Wars, when 
so many individuals of the house of Byron distin- 
guished themselves,— there having been no less than 
seven brothers of tliat family on the field at Edge- 
hill, — the celebrity of the name appears to have 
died away for near a century. It was about the 
year 1750, that the shipwreck and sufferings of Mr. 
Byron * (the grandfather of the illustrious subject 
of these pages) awakened, in no small degree, the 
attention and sympathy of the public. Not long after, 
a less innocent sort of notoriety attached itself to two 
other members of the family, — one, the grand-uncle 
of the poet, and the other, his father. The former 

* Afterwards Admiral. 



in the year 1765, stood his trial before the House of 
Peers for kilHng, in a duel, or rather scuffle, his rela- 
tion and neighbour Mr. Chaworth ; and the latter, 
having carried off to the Continent the wife of Lord 
Carmarthen, on the noble marquis obtaining a divorce 
from the lady, married her. Of this short union one 
daughter only was the issue, the Honourable Au- 
gusta Byron, now the wife of Colonel Leigh. 

In reviewing thus cursorily the ancestors, both 
near and remote, of Lord Byron, it cannot fail to be 
remarked how strikingly he combined in his own 
nature some of the best and, perhaps, worst quali- 
ties that lie scattered through the various characters 
of his predecessors, — the generosity, the love of 
enterprise, the high-mindedness of some of the bet- 
ter spirits of his race, with the irregular passions, 
the eccentricity, and daring recklessness of the 
world's opinion, that so much characterised others. 

The first wife of the father of the poet having 
died in ITS^, he, in the following year, married Miss 
Catherine Gordon, only child and heiress of George 
Gordon, Esq. of Gight. In addition to the estate of 
Gight, which had, however, in former times, been 
much more extensive, this lady possessed, in ready 
money, bank shares, &c. no inconsiderable property ; 
and it was known to be solely with a view of reliev- 
ing himself from his debts, that Mr. Byron paid his 
addresses to her. A circumstance related, as having 
taken place before the marriage of this lady, not only 
shows the extreme quickness and vehemence of her 
feelings, but, if it be true that she had never at the 
time seen Captain Byron, is not a little striking. 

B 4 


Being at the Edinburgh theatre one night when the 
character of Isabella was performed by Mrs. Sid- 
dons, so affected was she by the powers of this 
great actress, that, towards the conclusion of the 
play, she fell into violent fits, and was carried out of 
the theatre, screaming loudly, " Oh, my Biron, my 
Biron ! " 

On the occasion of her marriage there appeared a 
ballad by some Scotch rhymer, which has been 
lately reprinted in a collection of the "Ancient Bal- 
lads and Songs of the North of Scotland ; " and as it 
bears testimony both to the reputation of the lady 
for wealth, and that of her husband for rakery and 
extravagance, it may be vv^orth extracting : — 


O whai-e are ye gaen, bonny Miss Gordon ? 

O whare are ye gaen, sae bonny an' braw ? 
Ye've married, ye've married wi' Johnny Byron, 

To squander the lands o' Gight awa'. 

This youth is a rake, frae England he's come ; 

The Scots dinna ken his extraction ava ; 
He keeps up his misses, his landlord he duns. 

That's fast drawen' the lands o' Gight awa'. 

O whare are ye gaen, &c. 

The shooten' o' guns, an' rattlin' o' drums, 
The bugle in woods, the pipes i' the ha', 

The beagles a howlin', the hounds a growlin' ; 
These soundings will soon gar Gight gang awa'. 

O whare are ye gaen, &c. 

Soon after the marriage, which took place, I be- 
lieve, at Bath, Mr. Byron and his lady removed to 

178e. LIFE OF LORD BYnoy 9 

their estate in Scotland ; and it was not long before 
the prognostics of this ballad-maker began to be 
realised. The extent of that chasm of debt, in 
which her fortune was to be swallowed up, now 
opened upon the eyes of the ill-fated heiress. The 
creditors of Mr. Byron lost no time in pressing 
their demands ; and not only was the whole of her 
ready money, bank shares, fisheries, &c., sacrificed 
to satisfy them, but a large sum raised by mort- 
gage on the estate for the same purpose. In 
the summer of 1786, she and her husband left 
Scotland, to proceed to France ; and in the follow- 
ing year the estate of Gight itself was sold, and the 
v/hole of the purchase money applied to the further 
payment of debts, — with the exception of a small 
sum vested in trustees for the use of Mrs. Byron, 
who thus found herself, within the short space of 
two years, reduced from competence to a pittance 
of 150/. per annum.* 

* The following particulars respecting the amount of Mrs. 
Byrort's fortune before marriage, and its rapid disappearance 
afterwards, are, 1 have every reason to think, from the authen- 
tic source to which I am indebted for them, strictly correct : — 

" At the time of the marriage, Miss Gordon was possessed 
of about 3000/. in money, two shares of the Aberdeen Bank- 
ing Company, the estates of Gight and ]\Ionkshill, and the su- 
periority of two salmon fishings on Dee. Soon after the arrival 
of Mr. and IMrs. Byron Gordon in Scotland, it appeared that 
Mr. Byron had involved himself very deeply in debt, and his 
creditors commenced legal proceedings for the recovery of 
their money. The cash in hand was soon paid away, — tlie 
bank shares were disposed of at 600/. jiow worth 5000/.) — 
timber on the estate was cut down and sold to the amount of 

10 NOTICES OF THE 178?. 

From France Mrs. Byron returned to England at 
the close of the year 1787 ; and on the 22d of Ja- 
nuary, 1788, gave birth, in Holies Street, London, 
to her first and only child, George Gordon Byron. 
The name of Gordon was added in compliance with 
a condition imposed by will on whoever should be- 
come husband of the heiress of Gight ; and at the 
baptism of the child, the Duke of Gordon, and Co- 
lonel Duff of Fetteresso, stood godfathers. 

1 500/. — the farm of JNIonkshill and superiority of the fishings, 
affording a freehold qualification, were disposed of at 4S0Z. ; 
and, in addition to these sales, within a year after the marriage, 
SOOO;. was borrowed upon a mortgage on the estate, granted 
by Mrs. Byron Gordon to the person who lent the money. 

" In March, 1786, a contract of marriage in the Scotch 
form was drawn up and signed by the parties. In the course of 
the summer of that year, Mr. and Mrs. Byron left Gight, and 
never returned to it; the estate being, in the following yeai-, 
sold to Lord Haddo for the sum of 17,850/., the whole of 
which was applied to the payment of Mr. Byron's debts, with 
the exception of 1122/., which remained as a burden on the 
estate, (the interest to be applied to paying a jointure of 
551. \\s. Id. to Mrs. Byron's grandmother, the principal re- 
verting, at her death, to Mrs. Byron,) and 3000/. vested in 
trustees for Mrs. Byron's separate use, which was lent to 
Mr. Carscwell of Ratharllet, in Fifeshire." 

" A strange occurrence," says another of my informants, 
•' took place previous to the sale of the lands. All the doves 
left the house of Gight and came to Lord Haddo's, and so 
did a number of herons, which had built their nests for many 
years in a wood on the banks of a large loch, called the Hag- 
berry Pot. When this was told to Lord Haddo, he perti- 
nently replied, ' Let the birds come, and do them no harm, for 
the land will soon follow ; ' which it actually did." 


In reference to the circumstance of his being an 
only child, Lord Byron, in one of his journals, men- 
tions some curious coincidences in his family, 
which, to a mind disposed as his was to regard every 
thing connected with himself as out of the ordinary 
course of events, would naturally appear even more 
strange and singular than they are. " I have been 
thinking," he says, " of an odd circumstance. My 
daughter (1), my wife (2), my half-sister (3), my 
mother (4), my sister's mother (5), my natural 
daughter (6), and myself (7), are, or were, all onli/ 
children. My sister's mother (Lady Conyers) had 
only my half-sister by that second marriage, (herself, 
too, an only child,) and my father had only me, an 
only child, by his second marriage with my mother, 
an only child too. Such a complication of on/i/ 
children, all tending to o/ze family, is singular enough, 
and looks like fatality almost." He then adds, cha- 
racteristically, " But the fiercest animals have the 
fewest numbers in their litters, as lions, tigers, and 
even elephants, which are mild in comparison." 

From London, Mrs. Byron proceeded with her in- 
fant to Scotland ; and, in the year 1790, took up her 
residence in Aberdeen, where she was soon after 
joined by Captain Byron. Here for a short time 
they lived together in lodgings at the house of a 
person named Anderson, in Queen Street. But 
their union being by no means happy, a separation 
took place between them, and Mrs. Byron removed 
to lodgings at the other end of the street.* Not- 

* It appears that she seveial times changed her residence 

12 NOTICES OF THE 1790. 

withstanding this schism, they for some time conti- 
nued to visit, and even to drink tea with each other; 
but the elements of discord were strong on botli 
sides, and their separation was, at last, complete and 
final. He would frequently, however, accost the 
nurse and his son in their walks, and expressed a 
strong wish to have the child for a day or two, on a 
visit with him. To this request Mrs. Byron was, at 
first, not very willing to accede, but, on the repre- 
sentation of the nurse, that " if he kept the boy one 
night, he would not do so another," she consented. 
The event proved as the nurse had predicted ; on 
enquiring next morning after the child, she was told 
by Captain Byron that he had had quite enough of 
his young visiter, and she might take him home 

It should be observed, however, that Mrs. Byron, 
at this period, was unable to keep more than one 
servant, and that, sent as the boy was on this oc- 
casion to encounter the trial of a visit, without the 
accustomed superintendence of his nurse, it is not 
so wonderful that he should have been found, under 
such circumstances, rather an unmanageable guest. 
Tiiat as a child, his temper was violent, or rather 
sullenly passionate, is certain. Even when in petti- 
coats, he showed the same uncontrollable spirit with 
his nurse, which he afterwards exhibited when an 

during her stay at Aberdeen, as there are two other houses 
pointed out, where she lodged for some time ; one situated in 
Virginia Street, and the other, the house of a Mr. Leslie, 1 
think, in Broad Street, 


author, with his critics. Being angrily reprimanded 
by her, one day, for having soiled or torn a new 
frock in which he had been just dressed, he got into 
one of his " silent rages" (as he himself has described 
them), seized the frock with both his hands, rent it 
from top to bottom, and stood in sullen stillness, 
setting his censurer and her wrath at defiance. 

But, notwithstanding this, and other such unruly 
outbreaks, — in which he was but too much encou- 
raged by the example of his mother, who frequently, 
it is said, proceeded to the same extremities with 
her caps, gowns, &c., — there was in his disposition, 
as appears from the concurrent testimony of nurses, 
tutors, and all who were employed about him, a 
mixture of affectionate sweetness and playfulness, 
by which it was impossible not to be attached ; and 
which rendered him then, as in his riper years, 
easily manageable by those who loved and under- 
stood him sufficiently to be at once gentle and firm 
enough for the task. The female attendant of whom 
we have spoken, as well as her sister, Mary Gra}', 
who succeeded her, gained an influence over his 
mind against which he very rarely rebelled ; while 
his mother, whose capricious excesses, both of an- 
ger and of fondness, left her little hold on either his 
respect or affection, was indebted solely to his sense 
of filial duty for any small portion of authority she 
was ever able to acquire over him. 

By an accident which, it is said, occurred at the 
time of his birth, one of his feet was twisted out of 
its natural position, and this defect (chiefly from the 
contrivances employed to remedy it) was a source 



of much pain and inconvenience to him during his 
early years. The expedients used at this period to 
restore the limb to shape, were adopted by the ad- 
vice, and under the direction, of the celebrated John 
Hunter, with whom Dr. Livingstone of Aberdeen 
corresponded on the subject ; and his nurse, to 
whom fell the task of putting on these machines or 
bandages, at bedtime, would often, as she herself 
told my informant, sing him to sleep, or tell him 
stories and legends, in which, like most other chil- 
dren, he took great delight. She also taught him, 
Avhile yet an infant, to repeat a great number of the 
Psalms ; and the first and twenty-third Psalms were 
among the earliest that he committed to memory. 
It is a remarkable fact, indeed, that through the care 
of this respectable woman, who was herself of a very 
religious disposition, he attained a far earlier and 
more intimate acquaintance with the Sacred Writings 
tlian falls to the lot of most young people. In a letter 
which he wrote to Mr. Murray, from Italy, in 1821 
after requesting of that gentleman to send him, by 
the first opportunity, a Bible, he adds — " Don't for- 
get this, for I am a great reader and admirer of those 
books, and had read them through and through be- 
fore I was eight years old, — that is to say, the Old 
Testament, for the New struck me as a task, but the 
other as a pleasure. I speak as a boy, from the re- 
collected impression of that period at Aberdeen, in 

The malformation of his foot was, even at this 
childish age, a subject on which he showed peculiar 
sensitiveness. I have been told by a gentleman of 


Glasgow, that the person who nursed his wife, and 
who still lives in his family, used often to join the 
nurse of Byron when they were out with their re- 
spective charges, and one day said to her, as they 
walked together, " What a pretty boy Byron is ! 
what a pity he has such a leg!" On hearing this 
allusion to his infirmity, the child's eyes flashed with 
anger, and striking at her with a little whip which 
he held in his hand, he exclaimed impatiently, 
"Dinna speak of it!" Sometimes, however, as in 
after life, he could talk indifferently and even jest- 
ingly of this lameness ; and there being another little 
boy in the neighbourhood, who had a similar defect 
in one of his feet, Byron would say, laughingly, 
" Come and see the twa laddies with the twa club 
feet going up the Broad Street." 

Among many instances of his quickness and 
energy at this age, his nurse mentioned a little in- 
cident that one night occurred, on her taking him 
to the theatre to see the " Taming of the Shrew." 
He had attended to the performance, for some time, 
with silent interest; but, in the scene between Ca- 
therine and Petruchio, where the following dialogue 
takes place, — 

Calk. I know it is the moon. 

Pet. Nay, then, you lie, — it is the blessed sun, — 

little Geordie (as they called the child), starting 
from his seat, cried out boldly, " But I say it is the 
moon, sir." 

The short visit of Captain Byron to Aberdeen has 
already been mentioned, and he again passed two 
or three months in that city, before his last do- 


parture for France. On both occasions, his chief 
object was to extract still more money, if possible, 
from the unfortunate woman whom he had beggared ; 
and so far was he successful, that, during his last 
visit, narrow as were her means, she contrived 
to furnish him with the money necessary for his 
journey to Valenciennes*, where, in the following 
year, 1791, he died. Though latterly Mrs. Byron 
would not see her husband, she entertained, it is 
said, a strong aft'ection for him to the last ; and on 
those occasions, when the nurse used to meet him 
in her walks, would enquire of her with the ten- 
derest anxiety as to his health and looks. When 
the intelligence of his death, too, arrived, her grief, 
according to the account of this same attendant, 
bordered on distraction, and her shrieks were so 
loud as to be heard in the street. She was, indeed, 
a woman full of the most passionate extremes, and 
her grief and affection were bursts as much of 
temper as of feeling. To mourn at all, however, 
for such a husband was, it must be allowed, a most 
gratuitous stretch of generosity. Having married 
her, as he openly avowed, for her fortune alone, he 

* By her advances of money to Mr. Byron (says an autho- 
rity I have already cited) on the two occasions when he visited 
Aberdeen, as well as by the expenses incurred in furnishing the 
floor occupied by her, after his death, in Broad Street, she got 
in debt to the amount of 300/., by paying the interest on which 
her income was reduced to 135/. On this, however, slie con- 
trived to live without increasing her debt ; and on the death of 
her grandmother, wlicn she received th«; '122/. set apart for 
that lady's annuity, discharged the v.'hol? 


soon dissipated this, the solitary charm she pos- 
sessed for iiim, and was then unmanfal enough to 
taunt her with the inconveniences of that penury 
which his own extravagance had occasioned. 

When not quite five years old, young Byron was 
sent to a day-school at Aberdeen, taught by Mr. 
Bowers *, and remained there, Avith some inter- 
ruptions, during a twelvemonth, as appears by 
the following extract from the day-book of the 
school : — 

George Gordon Byron. 

19tli November, 1792. 

19th November, 1793 — paid one guinea. 

The terms of this school for reading were only 
five shillings a quarter, and it was evidently less 
with a view to the boy's advance in learning than 
as a cheap mode of keeping him quiet that his 
mother had sent him to it. Of the progress of his 
infantine studies at Aberdeen, as well under Mr. 
Bowers as under the various other persons that in- 
structed him, we have the following interesting 
particulars communicated by himself, in a sort of 
journal which he once began, under the title of 
" My Dictionary," and which is preserved in one of 
his manuscript books. 

" For several years of my earliest childhood, I 
was in that city, but have never revisited it since 1 
was ten years old. I was sent, at five years old, or 

* In Long Acre. Tbe present master of this school is 
Mr, David Grant, the ingenious editor of a collection of 
♦' Battles and War Pieces," and of a work of much utility, en- 
titled " Class Book of JNIodern Poetry." 

VOL. I. C 



earlier, to a school kept by a Mr. Bowers, who was 
called ' Bodsy Bowers,' by reason of his dapper- 
ness. It was a school for both sexes. I learned 
httle there except to repeat by rote the first lesson 
of monosyllables (' God made rnan' — ' Let us love 
him'), by hearing it often repeated, without ac- 
quiring a letter. Whenever proof was made of my 
progress, at home, I repeated these words with the 
most rapid fluency ; but on turning over a new leaf, 
I continued to repeat them, so that the narrow 
boundaries of my first year's accomplishments were 
detected, my ears boxed, (which they did not de- 
serve, seeing it was by ear only that I had acquired 
my letters,) and my intellects consigned to a new 
preceptor. He was a very devout, clever, little 
clergyman, named Ross, afterwards minister of one 
of the kirks {East, I think). Under him I made 
astonishing progress ; and I recollect to this day 
his mild manners and good-natured pains-taking. 
The moment I could read, my grand passion was 
Idstory, and, why I know not, but I was particularly 
taken with the battle near the Lake Regillus in the 
Roman History, put into my hands the first. Four 
years ago, when standing on the heights of Tus- 
culum, and looking down upon the little round lake 
that was once Regillus, and which dots the immense 
expanse below, I remembered my young enthusiasm 
and my old instructor. Afterwards I had a very 
serious, saturnine, but kind young man, nam.ed Pa- 
terson, for a tutor. He was the son of my shoe- 
maker, but a good scholar, as is common with the 
Scotch. He was a rigid Presbyterian also. With 


him I began Latin in < Ruddiman's Grammar, and 
continued till I went to the ' Grammar School, 
(Scotice, ' Schule ;' Aberdoiiice, * Squeel,') where I 
threaded all the classes to the fourth, when I was 
recalled to England (where I had been hatched) by 
the demise of my uncle. I acquired this hand- 
writing, which I can hardly read myself, under 
the fair copies of Mr. Duncan of the same city : I 
don't think he would plume himself much upon my 
progress. However, I wrote much better then than 
I have ever done since. Haste and agitation of 
one kind or another have quite spoilt as pretty a 
scrawl as ever scratched over a frank. The gram- 
mar-school might consist of a hundred and fifty of 
all ages under age. It was divided into five classes, 
taught by four masters, the chief teaching the 
fourth and fifth himself. As in England, the fifth, 
sixth forms, and monitors, are heard by the head 

Of his class-fellows at the grammar-school there 
are many, of course, still alive, by whom he is well 
remembered*; and the general impression they 
retain of him is, that he was a lively, warm-hearted, 
and high-spirited boy — passionate and resentful, 
but affectionate and companionable with his school- 
fellows — to a remarkable degree venturous and fear- 
less, and (as one of them significantly expressed it) 
" always more ready to give a blow than take one." 
Among many anecdotes illustrative of this spirit, it 

* The old porter, too, at the College, "minds vveel " the lit- 
tle boy, with the red jacket and nankeen trowsers, whom he has 
so often turned out of the College court-yard. 

C 9. 

20 NOTICES OF THE 1793. 

is related that once, in returning home from school, 
he fell in with a boy who had on some former occa- 
sion insulted him, but had then got off unpunished 
— little Byron, however, at the time, promising to 
" pay him off" whenever they should meet again. 
Accordingly, on this second encounter, though there 
were some other boys to take his opponent's part, 
he succeeded in inflicting upon him a hearty beat- 
ing. On his return home, breathless, the servant 
enquired what he had been about, and was answered 
by him with a mixture of rage and humour, tliat he 
had been paying a debt, by beating a boy according 
to promise ; for that he was a Byron, and would 
never belie his motto, " Trust Byron! 

He was, indeed, much more anxious to distinguish 
himself among his school-fellows by prowess in all 
sports* and exercises, than by advancement in learn- 
ing. Though quick, when he could be persuaded 
to attend, or had any study that pleased him, he 
v/as in general very low in the class, nor seemed 
ambitious of being promoted any higher. It is the 
custom, it seems, in this seminary, to invert, now 
and then, the order of the class, so as to make the 
highest and lowest boys change places, — with a 
view, no doubt, of piquing the ambition of both. On 
these occasions, and only these, Byron nas some- 
times at the head, and the master, to banter iiim, 

* " He was," says one of my infoiTnants, " a good hand at 
marbles, and could drive one farther than most boys. He also 
excelled at ' Bases,' a game which requires considerable swift- 
ness of foot. " 


would say, " Now, George, man, let me see how soon 
you '11 be at the foot again." * 

During this period, his mother and he made, 
occasionally, visits among their friends, passing some 
time at Fetteresso, the seat of his godfather. Colonel 
Duff, (where the child's delight with a humorous old 
butler, named Ernest Fidler, is still remembered,) 
and also at Banff, where some near connections of 
Mrs. Byron resided. 

In the summer of the year 1796, after an attack 
of scarlet-fever, he was removed by his mother for 
change of air into the Highlands ; and it was either 
at this time, or in the following year, that they took 
up their residence at a farm-house in the neigh- 
bourhood of Ballater, a favourite summer resort for 
health and gaiety, about forty miles up the Dee 
from Aberdeen. Though this house, where they 
still show with much pride the bed in which young 
Byron slept, has become naturally a place of pil- 
grimage for the worshippers of genius, neither its 
own appearance, nor that of the small bleak valley, 
in which it stands, is at all worthy of being asso- 
ciated with the memory of a poet. Within a short 

* On examining the quarterly lists kept at the grammar- 
school of Aberdeen, in which the names of the boys are set 
down according to the station each holds in his class, it ap- 
pears that in April of the year 1794, the name of Byron, then 
in the second class, stands twenty-third in a list of tliirty-eight 
boys. In the April of 1798, however, he had risen to be fifth 
in the fourth class, consisting of twenty-seven boys, and had 
got ahead of several of his contemporaries, who had previously 
always stood before him. 

C 3 

22 NOTICES OF THE 1796. 

distance of it, however, all those features of wildness 
and beauty, which mark the course of the Dee 
through the Highlands, may be commanded. Here 
the dark summit of Lachin-y-gair stood towering 
before the eyes of the future bard ; and the verses in 
which, not many years afterwards, he commemorated 
this sublime object, show that, young as he was, at 
the time, its " frowning glories " were not unnoticed 
by him. * 

Ah, there my young footsteps in infancy wandered, 

My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid ; 
On chieftains long perish'd my memory ponder'd 

As daily I strode through the pine-cover'd glade. 
I sought not my home till the day's dying glory 

Gave place to the rays of the bright polar-star ; 
For Fancy was cheer'd by traditional story, 

Disclosed by the natives of dark Locli-na-gar. 

To the wildness and grandeur of the scenes, among 
which his childhood was passed, it is not unusual 
to trace the first awakening of his poetic talent. 
But it may be questioned whether this faculty was 
ever so produced. That the charm of scenery, which 
derives its chief power from fancy and association, 
should be much felt at an age when fancy is yet 
hardly awake, and associations but few, can with 
difficulty, even making every allowance for the pre- 
maturity of genius, be conceived. The light which 
the poet sees around the forms of nature is not so 

* Notwithstanding the lively recollections expressed in this 
poem, it is pretty certain, from the testimony of his nurse, that 
he never was at the mountain itself, which stood some miles 
distant from his residencCj more than twice. 


much in the objects themselves as In the eye that 
contemplates them ; and Imagination must first be 
able to lend a glory to such scenes, before she can 
derive inspiration //w?i them. As materials, indeed, 
for the poetic faculty, when developed, to work upon, 
these impressions of the new and wonderful retained 
from childhood, and retained with all the vividness 
of recollection which belongs to genius, may form, 
it is true, the purest and most precious part of that 
aliment, with which the memory of the poet feeds 
his imagination. But still, it is the newly- awakened 
power within him that is the source of the charm ; — 
it is the force of fancy alone that, acting upon his 
recollections, impregnates, as it were, all the past 
with poesy. In this respect, such impressions of 
natural scenery as Lord Byron received in his child- 
hood must be classed with the various other remem- 
brances which that period leaves behind — of its 
innocence, its sports, its first hopes and affections — 
all of them reminiscences which the poet afterwards 
converts to his use, but which no more tnake the 
poet than — to apply an illustration of Byron's own 
— the honey can be said to make the bee that 
treasures it. 

When it happens — as was the case withLordByron 
in Greece — that the same peculiar features of na- 
ture, over which Memory has shed this reflective 
charm, are reproduced before the eyes under new 
and inspiring circumstances, and with all the acces- 
sories which an imagination, in its full vigour and 
wealth, can lend them, then, indeed, do both the 
past and present combine to make the enchantment 

c 4 



complete ; and never was there a heart more borne 
away by this confluence of feelings than that of 
Byron. In a poem, written about a year or two 
before his death *, he traces all his enjoyment of 
mountain scenery to the impressions received during 
his residence in the Highlands ; and even attributes 
the pleasure which he experienced in gazing upon 
Ida and Parnassus, far less to classic remembrances, 
than to those fond and deep-felt associations by 
which they brought back the memory of his boyhood 
and Lachin-y-gair. 

He who first met the Highland's swelling blue, 

Will love eacli peak that shows a kindred hue, 

Hail in each crag a friend's familiar face, 

And clasp the mountain in his mind's embrace. 

Long have I roam'd through lands which are not mine, 

Adored the Alp, and loved the Apennine, 

Revered Parnassus, and beheld the steep 

Jove's Ida and Olympus crown the deep : 

But 'twas not all long ages' lore, nor all 

Their nature held me in their thriliins thrall ; 

The infant rapture still survived the boy, 

And Loch-na-gar with Ida look'd o'er Troy, 

Mix'd Celtic memories with the Phrygian mount, 

And Higliland linns with Castalie's clear fount. 

In a note appended to this passage, we find him 
falling into that sort of anachronism in the history 
of his own feelings, which I have above adverted to 
as not uncommon, and referring to childhood itself 
that love of mountain prospects, which was but the 
after result of his imaginative recollections of that 

* The Island. 


" From this period" (the time of his residence in 
the Highlands) " I date my love of mountainous 
countries. I can never forget the effect, a iew years 
afterwards in England, of the only thing I had long 
seen, even in miniature, of a mountain, in the Mal- 
vern Hills. After I returned to Cheltenham, I used 
to watch them every afternoon at sunset, with a 
sensation which I cannot describe." His love of 
solitary rambles, and his taste for exploring in all 
directions, led him not unfrequently so far, as to 
excite serious apprehensions for his safety. While 
at Aberdeen, he used often to steal from home un- 
perceived; — sometimes he would find his way to 
the seaside ; and once, after a long and anxious 
search, they found the adventurous little rover 
struggling in a sort of morass or marsh, from which 
he was unable to extricate himself. 

In the course of one of his summer excursions up 
Dee-side, he had an opportunity of seeing still more 
of the wild beauties of the Highlands than even the 
neighbourhood of their residence at Ballatrech af- 
forded, — having been taken by his mother through 
the romantic passes that lead to Invercauld, and as 
far up as the small waterfall, called the Linn of Dee. 
Here his love of adventure had nearly cost him his 
life. As he was scrambling along a declivity that 
overhung the fall, some heather caught his lame 
foot, and he fell. Already he was rolling downward, 
when the attendant luckily caught hold of him, and 
was but just in time to save him from being killed. 

It was about this period, when he was not quite 
eight years old, that a feeling partaking more of the 

26 NOTICES OF THE 1796. 

nature of love than it is easy to believe possible in 
so young a child, took, according to his own account, 
entire possession ot" his thoughts, and showed how 
early, in this passion, as in most others, the sensibi- 
lities of his nature were awakened.* The name of 
the object of this attachment was Mary Duff; and 
the following passage from a Journal, kept by him 
in 1813, vvill show how freshly, after an interval of 
seventeen years, all the circumstances of this early 
love still lived in his memory : — 

" I have been thinking lately a good deal of Mary 
Duff. How very odd that I should have been so 
utterly, devotedly fond of that girl, at an age when 
1 could neither feel passion, nor know the meaning 
of the word. And the effect ! — My mother used 
always to rally me about this childish amour ; and, 
at last, many years after, when I was sixteen, she 
told me one day, ' Oh, Byron, I have had a letter 
from Edinburgh, from Miss Abercromby, and your 
old sweetheart Mary Duff is married to a Mr. 
Co'^.' And what was my answer ? I really cannot 
explain or account for my feelings at that moment ; 
but they neai'ly threw me into convulsions, and 

* Dante, we know, was but nine years old when, at a IMay- 
day festival, he saw and fell in love with Beatrice; and Alfieri, 
who was himself a precocious lover, considers such early sensi- 
bility to be an unerring sign of a soul formed for the fine 
arts : — " EfFetti," he says, in describing the feelings of his own 
first love, " che poche persone intendono, e pochissime pro- 
vano : ma a quei soli pochissimi e concesso 1' uscir dalla folia 
volsare in tutte le umane arti." Canova used to sav, that he 
perfectly well remembered having been in love when but five 
years old. 


alarmed my mother so much, that after I grew 
better, she generally avoided the subject — to me — 
and contented herself with telling it to all her ac- 
quaintance. Now, what could this be ? I had never 
seen her since her mother's faux-pas at Aberdeen 
had been the cause of her removal to her grand- 
mother's at Banff; we were both the merest children. 
I had and have been attached fifty times since that 
period ; yet I recollect all we said to each other, all 
our caresses, her features, my restlessness, sleep- 
lessness, my tormenting my mother's maid to write 
for me to her, which she at last did, to quiet me. 
Poor Nancy thought 1 was wild, and, as I could not 
write for myself, became my secretary. I remember, 
too, our walks, and the happiness of sitting by Mary, 
in the children's apartment, at their house not far 
from the Plain-stones at Aberdeen, while her lesser 
sister Helen played with the doll, and we sat gravely 
making love, in our way. 

" How the deuce did all this occur so early ? 
where could it originate ? I certainly had no sexual 
ideas for years afterwards ; and yet my misery, my 
love for that girl were so violent, that I sometimes 
doubt if I have ever been really attached since. Be 
that as it may, hearing of her marriage several years 
after was like a thunder-stroke — it nearly choked 
me — to the horror of my mother and the astonish- 
ment and almost incredulity of every body. And it 
is a phenomenon in my existence (for 1 was not 
eight years old) which has puzzled, and will puzzle 
me to the latest hour of it ; and lately, I know not 
why, the recollection (not the attachment) has re- 

28 NOTICES OF THE 1796. 

curred as forcibly as ever. I wonder if she can 
have the least remembrance of it or me ? or re- 
member her pitying sister Helen for not having an 
admirer too ? How very pretty is the perfect image 
of her in my memory — her brown, dark hair, and 
hazel eyes ; her very dress ! I should be quite 
grieved to see her novj ; the reality, however beau- 
tiful, would destroy, or at least confuse, the features 
of the lovely Peri which then existed in her, and 
still lives in my imagination, at the distance of more 
than sixteen years. I am now twenty-five and odd 
months. . . . 

" I think my mother told the circumstances (on 
my hearing of her marriage) to the Parkynses, and 
certainly to the Pigot family, and probably men- 
tioned it in her answer to Miss A., who was well 
acquainted with my childish penchant, and had sent 
the news on purpose for me, — and thanks to her ! 

" Next to the beginning, the conclusion has often 
occupied my reflections, in the way of investigation. 
That the facts are thus, others know as well as I, 
and my memory yet tells me so, in more than a 
whisper. But, the more I reflect, the more I am 
bewildered to assign any cause for this precocity of 

Though the chance of his succession to the title 
of his ancestors was for some time altoijether un- 
certain — there being, so late as the year ITQl, a 
grandson of the fifth lord still alive — his mother 
liad, from his very birth, cherished a strong per- 
suasion that he was destined not only to be a lord, 
but " a great man." One of the circumstances on 


which she founded this belief was, singularly enough, 
his lameness ; — for what reason it is difficult to 
conceive, except that, possibly (havang a mind of 
the most superstitious cast), she had consulted on 
the subject some village fortune-teller, who, to en- 
noble this infirmity in her eyes, had linked the 
future destiny of the child with it. 

By the death of the grandson of the old lord at 
Corsica in 1794', the only claimant, that had hitherto 
stood between little George and the immediate suc- 
cession to the peerage, was removed ; and the in- 
creased importance which this event conferred upon 
them was felt not only by INIrs. Byron, but by the 
young future Baron of Newstead himself. In the 
winter of 1797, his mother having chanced, one day, 
to read part of a speech spoken in the House of 
Commons, a friend who was present said to the boy, 
" We shall have the pleasure, some time or other, 
of readmg your speeches in the House of Com- 
mons." — " I hope not," was his answer: " if you 
read any speeches of mine, it will be in the House 
of Lords." 

The title, of which he thus early anticijiated the 
enjoyment, devolved to him but too soon. Had he 
been left to struggle on for ten years longer, as 
plain George Byron, there can be little doubt that 
his character would have been, in many respects, 
the better for it. in the followintr yea; his <.Mand- 
uncle, the fifth Lord Byron, died at Newstead 
Abbey, having passed the latter years of his strange 
life in a state of austere and almost savage seclusion. 
It is said, that the day after little Byron's accession 

30 NOTICES OF THE 1798. 

to the title, he ran up to his mother and asked her, 
" whetlier she perceived any difference in him since 
he had been made a lord, as he perceived none 
himself":" — a quick and natural thought; but the 
child little knew what a total and talismanic change 
had been wrought in all his future relations with 
society, by the simple addition of that word before 
his name. That the event, as a crisis in his life, 
affected him, even at that time, may be collected 
from the agitation which he is said to have mani- 
fested on the important morning, when his name 
was first called out in school with the title of " Do- 
minus " prefixed to it. Unable to give utterance to 
the usual answer " adsum," he stood silent amid the 
general stare of his school-fellows, and, at last, burst 
into tears. 

The cloud, which, to a certain degree, unde- 
servedly, his unfortunate affray with Mr. Chaworth 
had thrown upon the character of the late Lord 
Byron, was deepened and confirmed by what it, in 
a great measure, produced, — the eccentric and 
unsocial course of life to which he afterwards betook 
himself. Of his cruelty to Lady Byron, before her 
separation from him, the most exaggerated stories 
are still current in the neighbourhood; and it is 
even believed that, in one of his fits of fury, he flung 
her into the pond at Newstead. Od another occa- 
sion, it is said, having shot his coachman for some 
disobedience of orders, he threw the corpse into the 
carriage to his lady, and, mounting the box, drove 
off himself. Tliese stories are, no doubt, as gross 
fictions as some of those of which his illustrious sue- 


cesser was afterwards made the victim ; and a fe- 
male servant of the old lord, still alive, in contra- 
dicting both tales as scandalous fabrications, supposes 
the first to have had its origin in the foUowmg cir- 
cumstance : — A young lady, of the name of Booth, 
who was on a visit at Newstead, being one evening 
with a party who were diverting themselves in front 
of the abbey, Lord Byron by accident pushed her 
into the basin which receives the cascades ; and out 
of this little incident, as my informant very plausibly 
conjectures, the tale of his attempting to drown 
Lady Byron may have been fabricated. 

After his lady had separated from him, the entire 
seclusion in which he lived gave full scope to the 
inventive faculties of his neighbours. There was 
no deed, however dark or desperate, that the village 
gossips were not ready to impute to him ; and two 
grim images of satyrs, which stood in his gloomy 
garden, were, by the fears of those who had caught 
a glimpse of them, dignified by the name of " the old 
lord's devils." He was known always to go armed ; 
and it is related that, on some particular occasion, 
when his neighbour, the late Sir John Warren, was 
admitted to dine with him, there was a case of pistols 
placed, as if forming a customary part of the dinner 
service, on the table. 

During his latter years, the only companions of 
his solitude — besides that colony of crickets, which 
he is said to have amused himself with rearing 
and feeding * — were old Murray, afterwards the 

• To this Lord Byron used to add, on tlie qufiority of old 
ervants of the family, that on the day of their patron's death. 


favourite servant of his successor, and the female 
domestic, whose authority I have just quoted, and 
who, from the station she was suspected of being 
promoted to by her noble master, received gene- 
rally through the neighbourhood the appellation of 
" Lady Betty," 

Though living in this sordid and solitaiy style, 
he was frequently, as it appears, much distressed 
for money ; and one of the most serious of the in- 
juries inflicted by him upon the property was his 
sale of the family estate of Rochdale in Lancashire, 
of which the mineral produce was accounted very 
valuable. He well knew, it is said, at the time of 
the sale, his inability to make out a legal title ; nor 
is it supposed that the purchasers themselves w^ere 
unacquainted with the defect of the conveyance. 
But they contemplated, and, it seems, actually did 
realise, an indemnity from any pecuniary loss, 
before they couid, in the ordinary course of events, 
be dispossessed of the property. During the young 
lord's minority, proceedings were instituted for the 
recovery of this estate, and as the reader will learn 
hereafter with success. 

At Newstead, both the mansion and the grounds 
around it were suffered to fall helplessly into decay; 
and among the few monuments of either care or 
expenditure which their lord left behind, were some 
masses of rockwork, on which much cost liad beeu 

these crickets all left the house simultaneously, and in such 
numbers, that it was impossible to cross the hall without tread- 
ing on them. 


tlirovpn away, and a few castellated buildings on the 
banks of the lake and in the woods. The forts 
upon the lake were designed to give a naval ap- 
pearance to its waters, and frequently, in his more 
social days, he used to amuse himself with sham 
fights, — his vessels attacking the forts, and being 
cannonaded by them in return. The largest of 
these vessels had been built for him at some sea- 
port on the eastern coast, and, being conveyed on 
wheels over the Forest to Newstead, was supposed 
to have fulfilled one of the prophecies of Mother 
Shipton, which declared that " when a ship laden 
with ling should cross over Sherwood Forest, the 
Newstead estate would pass from the Byron family." 
In Nottinghamshire, " ling " is the term used for 
heather ; and, in order to bear out Mother Shipton 
and spite the old lord, the country people, it is said, 
ran along by the side of the vessel, heaping it with 
heather all the way. 

This eccentric peer, it is evident, cared but little 
about the fate of his descendants. With his young 
heir in Scotland he held no communication what- 
ever ; and if at any time he happened to mention 
him, which but rarely occurred, it was never under 
any other designation than that of " the little boy 
who lives at Aberdeen." 

On the death of his grand-uncle. Lord Byron 
having become a ward of chanceiy, the Earl of Car- 
lisle, who was in some degree connected with the 
family, being the son of the deceased lord's sister, 
was appointed his guardian ; and in the autumn of 
1798, Mrs. Byron and her son, attended by their 

VOL. I. D 


faithful Mary Gray, left Aberdeen for Newstead. 
Previously to their departure, the furniture of the 
humble lodgings which they had occupied was, 
with the exception of the plate and linen, which 
Mrs. Byron took with her, sold, and the whole sum 
that the effects of the mother of the Lord of New- 
stead yielded was 74Z. 17*. Id. 

From the early age at which Byron was taken to 
Scotland, as well as from the circumstance of his 
mother being a native of that country, he had every 
reason to consider himself — as, indeed, he boasts 
in Don Juan — " half a Scot by birth, and bred a 
whole one.'' We have already seen how warmly 
he preserved through life his recollection of the 
mountain scenery in which he was brought up ; and 
in the passage of Don Juan, to which I have just 
referred, his allusion to the romantic bridge of Don, 
and to other localities of Aberdeen, shows an equal 
fidelity and fondness of retrospect : — 
As Auld Lang Sj-ne brings Scotland, one and all, 

Scotch plaids, Scotch snoods, the blue hills and clear streams. 
The Dee, the Don, Balgounie's brig's black wall, 

All my boy feelings, all my gentler dreams 
Of what I tlien dreamt, clothed in their own pall, 

Like Banquo's offspring ; — floating past me seems 
jVIy childhood in this childishness of mine ; 
I care not — 'tis a glimpse of " Auld Lang Syne." 

He adds in a note, " The Brig of Don, near the 
* auld town ' of Aberdeen, w ith its one arch and 
its black deep salmon stream, is in my memory as 
yesterday. I still remember, though perhaps I may 
misquote the awful proverb which made me pause 
to cross it, and yet lean over it with a childish de- 


light, being an only son, at least by the mother's 
side. The saying, as recollected by me, was this, 
but I have never heard or seen it since 1 was nine 
years of age: — 

" ' Brig of Balgounie, black 's your wa', 
Wi' a wife's ae son, and a mear's ae foal, 
Down ye shall fa'.' " * 

To meet with an Aberdonian was, at all times, a 
delight to him ; and when the late Mr. Scott, who 
was a native of Aberdeen, paid him a visit at Venice 
in the year 1819, in talking of the haunts of his 
childhood, one of the places he particularly men- 
tioned was Wallace-nook, a spot where there is a 
rude statue of the Scottish chief still standing. 
From first to last, indeed, these recollections of the 
country of his youth never forsook him. In his 
early voyage into Greece, not only the shapes of 
the mountains, but the kilts and hardy forms of the 
Albanese, — all, as he says, " carried him back to 
Morven ;" and, in his last fatal expedition, the dress 
which he himself chiefly wore at Cephalonia was a 
tartan jacket. 

Cordial, however, and deep as were the im- 
pressions which he retained of Scotland, he would 
sometimes in this, as in all his other amiable feel- 
ings, endeavour perversely to belie his own better 

* The correct reading of this legend is, I understand, as 
follows : — 

" Brig o' Balgounie, loight (strong) is thy wa' ; 
Wi' a wife's ae son on a mare's ae foal, 
Down shalt thou fa'.'* 

D 2 

36 NOTICES OF THE 1798. 

nature ; and, when under the excitement of anger or 
ridicule, persuade not only others, but even himself, 
that the whole current of his feelings ran directly 
otherwise. The abuse with which, in his anger 
against the Edinburgh Review, he overwhelmed 
every thing Scotch, is an instance of this temporary 
triumph of wilfulness ; and, at any time, the least 
association of ridicule with the country or its inha- 
bitants was sufficient, for the moment, to put all his 
sentiment to flight. A friend of his once described 
to me the half playful rage, into which she saw him 
thrown, one day, by a heedless girl, who remarked 
that she thought he had a little of the Scotch 
accent. " Good God, I hope not ! " he exclaimed. 
" I 'm sure I have n't. I would rather the whole 
d — d country was sunk in the sea — I the Scotch 
accent ! " 

To such sallies, however, whether in writing or 
conversation, but little weight is to be allowed, — 
particularly, in comparison with those strong testi- 
monies which he has left on record of his fondness 
for his early home ; and while, on his side, this 
feeling so indelibly existed, there is, on the part of 
the people of Aberdeen, who consider him as almost 
their fellow-townsman, a correspondent warmth of 
affection for his memory and name. The various 
houses where he resided in his youth are pointed 
out to the traveller ; to have seen him but once is 
a recollection boasted of with pride ; and the Brig 
of Don, beautiful in itself, is invested, by his mere 
mention of it, with an additional charm. Two or 
three years since, the sum of five pounds was offered 


to a person in Aberdeen for a letter which he had 
in his possession, written by Captain Byron a few 
days before his death ; and, among the memorials 
of the young poet, which are treasured up by indi- 
viduals of that place, there is one which it would 
have not a little amused himself to hear of, being no 
less characteristic a relic than an old china saucer, 
out of which he had bitten a large piece, in a fit of 
passion, when a child. 

It was in the summer of 1798, as I have already 
said, that Lord Byron, then in his eleventh year, 
left Scotland with his mother and nurse, to take 
possession of the ancient seat of his ancestors. In 
one of his latest letters, referring to this journey, he 
says, " I recollect Loch Leven as it were but yes- 
terday — I saw it in my way to England in 1798." 
They had already arrived at the Newstead toll-bar, 
and saw the woods of the Abbey stretching out to 
receive them, when Mrs. Byron, affecting to be ig- 
norant of the place, asked the woman of the toll- 
house — to whom that seat belonged ? She was 
told that the owner of it. Lord Byron, had been 
some months dead. " And who is the next heir?" 
asked the proud and happy mother. " They say," 
answered the woman, " it is a little boy who lives 
at Aberdeen." — " And this is he, bless him !" ex- 
claimed the nurse, no longer able to contain herself, 
and turning to kiss with delight the young lord who 
was seated on her lap. 

Even under the most favourable circumstances, 
such an early elevation to rank would be but too 
likely to have a dangerous influence on the cha- 

38 NOriCES OB THE 1798. 

racter ; and the guidance under which young Byron 
entered upon his new station was, of ail otliers, the 
least likely to lead him safely through its perils and 
temptations. His mother, without judgment or self- 
command, alternately spoiled him by indulgence, 
and irritated, or — what was still worse — amused 
him by her violence. That strong sense of the 
ridiculous, for which he was afterwards so remark- 
able, and which showed itself thus early, got the 
better even of his fear of her ; and when Mrs. Byron, 
who was a short and corpulent person, and rolled 
considerably in her gait, would, in a rage, endeavour 
to catch him, for the purpose of inflicting punish- 
ment, the young urchin, proud of being able to out- 
strip her, notwithstanding his lameness, would run 
round the room, laughing like a little Puck, and 
mocking at all her menaces. In a few anecdotes of 
his early life which he related in his " Memoranda," 
though the name of his mother was never mentioned 
but with respect, it was not difficult to perceive that 
the recollections she had left behind — at least, 
those that had made the deepest impression — were 
of a painful nature. One of the most striking pas- 
sages, indeed, in the few pages of that Memoir 
which related to his early days, was where, in speak- 
ing of his own sensitiveness, on the subject of his 
deformed foot, he described the feeling of horror and 
humiliation that came over him, when his mother, 
in one of her fits of passion, called him " a lame brat." 
As all that he had felt strongly through life was, in 
some shape or other, reproduced in his poetry, it 
was not likely that an expression such as this should 


fail of being recorded. Accordingly we find, in the 
opening of his drama, " The Deformed Transformed," 

Bertha. Out, hunchback ! 
Arnold. I was born so, mother ! 

It may be questioned, indeed, whether that whole 
drama was not indebted for its origin to this single 

While such was the character of the person under 
whose immediate eye his youth was passed, the 
counteraction which a kind and watchful guardian 
might have opposed to such example and influence 
was almost wholly lost to him. Connected but re- 
motely with the family, and never having had any 
opportunity of knowing the boy, it was with much 
reluctance that Lord Carlisle originally undertook 
the trust ; nor can we wonder that, when his duties as 
a guardian brought him acquainted with Mrs. Byron, 
he should be deterred from interfering more than 
was absolutely necessary for the child by his fear of 
coming into collision with the violence and caprice 
of the mother. 

Had even the character which the last lord left 
behind been sufficiently popular to pique his young 
successor into an emulation of his good name, such 
a salutary rivalry of the dead would have supplied 
the place of living examples ; and there is no mind 
in which such an ambition would have been more 
likely to spring up than that of Byron. But un- 
luckily, as we have seen, this was not the case ; and 
not only was so fair a stimulus to good conduct 
wanting, but a rivalry of a very different nature sub- 
stituted in its place. The strange anecdotes told of 

D 4 


the last lord by the country people, among whom 
his fierce and solitary habits had procured for him 
a sort of fearful renown, were of a nature livelily to 
arrest the fancy of the young poet, and even to 
waken in his mind a sort of boyish admiration for 
singularities which he found thus elevated into 
matters of wonder and record. By some it has been 
even supposed that in these stories of his eccentric 
relative his imagination found the first dark outlines 
of that ideal character, which he afterwards em- 
bodied in so many different shapes, and ennobled by 
his genius. But however this may be, it is at least 
far from improbable that, destitute as he was of 
other and better models, the peculiarities of his im- 
mediate predecessor should, in a considerable de- 
gree, have influenced his fancy and tastes. One 
habit, which he seems early to have derived from 
this spirit of imitation, and which he retained through 
life, was that of constantly having arms of some de- 
scription about or near him — it being his practice, 
when quite a boy, to carry, at all times, small loaded 
pistols in his waistcoat pockets. The affray, indeed, 
of the late lord with Mr. Chaworth had, at a very 
early age, by connecting duelling in his mind with 
the name of his race, led him to turn his attention 
to this mode of arbitrament ; and the mortification 
which he had, for some time, to endure at school, 
from insults, as he imagined, hazarded on the pre- 
sumption of his physical inferiority, found consola- 
tion in the thought that a day would yet arrive when 
the law of the pistol would place him on a level with 
the strongest. 


On their arrival from Scotland, Mrs. Byron, with 
the hope of having his lameness removed, placed 
her son mider the care of a person, who professed 
the cure of such cases, at Nottingham. The name 
of this man, who appears to have been a mere em- 
pirical pretender, was Lavender ; and the manner 
in which he is said to have proceeded was by first 
rubbing the foot over, for a considerable time, with 
handsful of oil, and then twisting the limb forcibly 
round, and screwing it up in a wooden machine. 
That the boy might not lose ground in his education 
during this interval, he received lessons in Latin 
from a respectable schoolmaster, Mr. Rogers, who 
read parts of Virgil and Cicero with him, and re- 
presents his proficiency to have been, for his age, 
considerable. He was often, during his lessons, in 
violent pain, from the torturing position in which 
his foot was kept; and Mr. Rogers one day said 
to him, " It makes me uncomfortable, my Lord, to 
see you sitting there in such pain as I hnoto you 
must be suffering." — " Never mind, Mr. Rogers," 
answered the boy ; " you shall not see any signs of 
it in me." 

This gentleman, who speaks with the most affec- 
tionate remembrance of his pupil, mentions several 
instances of the gaiety of spirit with which he 
used to take revenge on his tormentor. Lavender, by 
exposing and laughing at his pompous ignorance. 
Among other tricks, he one day scribbled down on 
a sheet of paper all the letters of the alphabet, put 
together at random, but in the form of words and 
sentences, and, placing them before this all-pretend- 

42 NOTICES OF THE 1798. 

ing person, asked him gravely what language it was. 
The quack, unwilling to own his ignorance, an- 
swered confidently, " Italian," — to the infinite de- 
light, as it may be supposed, of the little satirist in 
embryo, who burst into a loud, triumphant laugh 
at the success of the trap which he had thus laid 
for imposture. 

With that mindfulness towards all who had been 
about him in his youth, which was so distinguishing 
a trait in his character, he, many years after, when 
in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, sent a message, 
full of kindness, to his old instructor, and bid the 
bearer of it tell him, that, beginning from a certain 
line in Virgil which he mentioned, he could recite 
twenty verses on, which he well remembered having 
read with this gentleman, when suffering all the time 
the most dreadful pain. 

It was about this period, according to his nurse, 
May Gray, that the first symptom of any tendency 
towards rhyming showed itself in him ; and the 
occasion which she represented as having given rise 
to this childish effort was as follows : — An elderly 
lady, who was in the habit of visiting his mother, 
had made use of some expression that very much 
affronted him ; and these slights, his nurse said, he 
generally resented violently and implacably. The 
old lady had some curious notions respecting the 
soul, which, she imagined, took its flight to the moon 
after death, as a preliminary essay before it pro- 
ceeded further. One day, after a repetition, it is 
supposed, of her original insult to the boy, he ap- 
peared before his nurse in a violent rage. " Well, 



my little hero," she asked, " what's the matter with 
you now ? " Upon which the child answered, that 
" this old woman had put him in a most terrible 
passion — that he could not bear the sight of her," 
&c. &c. — and then broke out into the following 
doggerel, which he repeated over and over, as if 
delighted with the vent he had found for his rage : — 

In Nottingham county there lives at Swan Green, 
As curst an old lady as ever was seen ; 
And when she does die, which I hope will be soon, 
She firmly believes she will go to the moon. 

It is possible that these rhymes may have been 
caught up at second-hand ; and he himself, as will 
presently be seen, dated his " first dash into poetry," 
as he calls it, a year later : — but the anecdote alto- 
gether, as containing some early dawnings of cha- 
racter, appeared to me worth preserving. 

The small income of Mrs. Byron received at this 
time the addition — most seasonable, no doubt, 
though on what grounds accorded, I know not — 
of a pension on the Civil List, of 300Z. a year. The 
following is a copy of the King's warrant for the 
grant : — (Signed) 
" George R. 

" Whereas we are graciously pleased to 
grant unto Catharine Gordon Byron, widow, an 
annuity of 300/., to commence from 5th July, 1799, 
and to continue during pleasure : our will and plea- 
sure is, that, by virtue of our general letters of Privy 
Seal, bearing date 5th November, 1760, you do 
issue and pay out of our treasure, or revenue in the 
receipt of the Exchequer, applicable to the uses of 


our civil government, unto the said Catharine Gordon 
Byron, widow, or her assignees, the said annuity, to 
commence fi-om 5th July, 1799, and to be paid 
quarterly, or otherwise, as the same shall become 
due, and to continue during our pleasure ; and for 
so doing this shall be your warrant. Given at our 
Court of St. James's, 2d October, 1799, 39th year 
of our reign. 

" By His Majesty's command, 

(Signed) " W. Pitt. 

" S. Douglas. 
» Edw". Roberts, Dep. Cleru^. Pellium." 

Finding but little benefit from the Nottingham 
practitioner, Mrs. Byron, in the summer of the year 
1799, thought it right to remove her boy to Lon- 
don, where, at the suggestion of Lord Carlisle, he 
was put under the care of Dr. Baillie. It being an 
object, too, to place him at some quiet school, where 
the means adopted for the cure of his infirmity 
might be more easily attended to, the establishment 
of the late Dr. Glennie, at Dulwich, was chosen for 
that purpose ; and as it was thought advisable that 
he should have a separate apartment to sleep in, 
Dr. Glennie had a bed put up for him in his own 
study. Mrs. Byron, who had remained a short time 
behind him at Newstead, on her arrival in town took 
a house upon Sloane Terrace ; and, under the direc- 
tion of Dr. Baillie, one of the Messrs. Sheldrake * 

* In a letter addressed lately by Mr. Sheldrake to the editor of 
a Medical Journal, it is stated that the person of the same name 
who attended Lord Byron at Dulwich owed the honour of 


was employed to construct an instrument for the 
purpose of straightening the Hmb of the child. 
Moderation in all athletic exercises was, of course, 
prescribed ; but Dr. Glennie found it by no means 
easy to enforce compliance with this rule, as, though 
sufficiently quiet when along with him in his study, 
no sooner was the boy released for play, than he 
showed as much ambition to excel in all exercises 
as the most robust youth of the school ; — "an am- 
bition," adds Dr. Glennie, in the communication 
with which he favoured me a short time before his 
death, " which I have remarked to prevail in general 
in young persons labouring under similar defects of 
nature." * 

Having been instructed in the elements of Latin 
grammar according to the mode of teaching adopted 
at Aberdeen, the young student had now unluckily 
to retrace his steps, and was, as is too often the case, 
retarded in his studies and perplexed in his recollec- 

being called in to a mistake, and effected nothing towards the 
remedy of the limb. The writer of the letter adds that he was 
himself consulted by Lord Byron four or five years afterwards, 
and though unable to undertake the cure of the defect, from 
the unwillingness of his noble patient to submit to restraint or 
confinement, was successful in constructing a sort of shoe for 
the foot, which in some degree alleviated the inconvenience 
under which he laboured. 

* " Quoique," says Alfieri, speaking of liis school-days, 
" je fusse le plus petit de tons les grands qui se trouvaient 
au second appartement ou j'^tais descendu, c'^tait pr^cisement 
mon inferiorit<5 de taille, d'age, et deforce, qui me donnait plus 
de courage, et m'engageait k me distinguer." 

46 NOTICES OF THE 1799. 

tions, by the necessity of toiling through the rudi- 
ments again in one of the forms prescribed by the 
Enghsh schools. " I found him enter upon his 
tasks," says Dr. Glennie, " with alacrity and suc- 
cess. He was playful, good-humoured, and beloved 
by his companions. His reading in history and poetry 
was far beyond the usual standard of his age, and 
in my study he found many books open to him, both 
to please his taste and gratify his curiosity ; among 
others, a set of our poets from Chaucer to Churchill, 
which I am almost tempted to say he had more than 
once perused from beginning to end. He showed 
at this age an intimate acquaintance with the his- 
torical parts of the Holy Scriptures, upon which he 
seemed delighted to converse with me, especially 
after our religious exercises of a Sunday evening ; 
when he would reason upon the facts contained in 
the Sacred Volume with every appearance of belief 
in the divine truths which they unfold. That the 
impressions," adds the writer, " thus imbibed in his 
boyhood, had, notwithstanding the irregularities of 
his after life, sunk deep into his mind, will appear, I 
think, to every impartial reader of his works in 
general ; and I never have been able to divest my- 
self of the persuasion that, in the strange aberrations 
which so unfortunately marked his subsequent 
career, he must have found it difficult to violate the 
better principles early instilled into him." 

It should have been mentioned, among the traits 
which I have recorded of his still earlier years, that, 
according to the character given of him by his first 
nurse's husband, he was, when a mere child, " par- 
ticularly inquisitive and puzzling about religion." 


It was not long before Dr. Glennie began to dis- 
cover — what instructors of youth must too often 
experience — that the parent was a much more 
difficult subject to deal with than the child. Though 
professing entire acquiescence in the representations 
of this gentleman, as to the propriety of leaving her 
son to pursue his studies without interruption, Mrs- 
Byron had neither sense nor self-denial enough to 
act up to these professions ; but, in spite of the 
remonstrances of Dr. Glennie, and the injunctions 
of Lord Carlisle, continued to interfere with and 
thwart the progress of the boy's education in every 
way that a fond, wrong-headed, and self-willed 
mother could devise. In vain was it stated to her 
that, in all the elemental parts of learning which are 
requisite for a youth destined to a great public 
school, young Byron was much behind other youths 
of his age, and that, to retrieve this deficiency, the 
undivided application of his whole time would be 
necessary. Though appearing to be sensible of the 
truth of these suggestions, she not the less em- 
barrassed and obstructed the teacher in his task. 
Not content with the interval between Saturday and 
Monday, which, contrary to Dr. Glennie's wish, the 
boy generally passed at Sloane Terrace, she would 
frequently keep him at home a week beyond this 
time, and, stiU further to add to the distraction of 
such interruptions, collected around him a numerous 
circle of young acquaintances, without exercising, 
as may be supposed, much discrimination in her 
choice. " How, indeed, could she ? " asks Dr. 
Glennie — " Mrs. Byron was a total stranger to 

48 NOTICES OF THE 1799. 

English society and English manners ; with an ex- 
terior far from prepossessing, an understanding where 
nature had not been more bountiful, a mind almost 
wholly without cultivation, and the peculiarities of 
northern opinions, northern habits, and northern 
accent, I trust I do no great prejudice to the me- 
mory of my countrywoman, if I say Mrs. Byron was 
not a Madame de Lambert, endowed with powers to 
retrieve the fortune, and form the character and 
manners, of a young nobleman, her son." 

The interposition of Lord Carlisle, to whose autho- 
rity it was found necessary to appeal, had more than 
once given a check to these disturbing indulgences. 
Sanctioned by such support, Dr. Glennie even ven- 
tured to oppose himself to the privilege, so often 
abused, of the usual visits on a Saturday ; and the 
scenes which he had to encounter on each new case 
of refusal were such as would have wearied out the 
patience of any less zealous and conscientious 
schoolmaster. ]Mrs. Byron, whose paroxysms of 
passion were not, like those of her son, " silent 
rages," would, on all these occasions, break out into 
such audible fits of temper as it was impossible to 
keep from reaching the ears of the scholars and the 
servants ; and Dr. Glennie had, one day, the pain of 
overhearing a school-fellow of his noble pupil say to 
him, " Byron, your mother is a fool ; " to which the 
other answered gloomily, " I know it." In con- 
sequence of all this violence and impracticability of 
temper, Lord Carlisle at length ceased to have any 
intercourse with the mother of his ward ; and on a 
further ai^plication from the instructor, for the ex- 


ertion of his inHuence, said, " I can have nothing 
more to do with Mrs. Byron, — you must now 
manage her as you can." 

Among the books that lay accessible to the boys 
in Dr. Glennie's study was a pamphlet written by 
the brother of one of his most intimate friends, 
entitled, " Narrative of the Shipwreck of the Juno 
on the coast of Arracan, in the year 1795." The 
writer had been the second officer of the ship, and 
the account which he had sent home to his friends 
of the sufferings of himself and his fellow-passengers 
had appeared to them so touching and strange, that 
they determined to publish it. The pamphlet at- 
tracted but little, it seems, of public attention, but 
among the young students of Dulvvich Grove it 
was a favourite study ; and the impression which it 
left on the retentive mind of Byron may have had 
some share, perhaps, in suggesting that curious re- 
search through all the various Accounts of Ship- 
wrecks upon record, by which he prepared himself 
to depict with such power a scene of the same de- 
scription in Don Juan. The following affecting inci- 
dent, mentioned by the author of this pamphlet, has 
been adopted, it will be seen, with but little change 
either of phrase or circumstance, by the poet : — 

" Of those who were not immediately near me I 
knew little, unless by their cries. Some struggled 
hard, and died in great agony ; but it was not 
always those whose strength was most impaired 
that died the easiest, though, in some cases-, it 
might have been so. I particularly remember the 

VOL. I. Ji 

50 NOTICES OF THE 1799. 

following instances. Mr. Wade's servant, a stout 
and healthy boy, died early and almost without a 
groan ; while another of the same age, but of a less 
promising appearance, held out much longer. The 
fate of these unfortunate boys differed also in 
another respect highly deserving of notice. Their 
fathers were both in the fore-top when the lads 
were taken ill. The father of Mr. Wade's boy 
hearing of his son's illness, answered with indif- 
ference, ' that he could do nothing for him,' and 
left him to his fate. The other, when the accounts 
reached him, hurried down, and watching for a favour- 
able moment, craAvled on all fours along the weather 
gunwale to his son, who was in the mizen rigging. 
By that time, only three or four planks of the 
quarter deck remained, just over the weather- 
quarter gallery; and to this spot the unhappy man 
led his son, making him fast to the rail to prevent 
his being washed away. Whenever the boy was 
seized with a fit of retching, the father lifted him 
up and wiped the ftDam from his lips ; and, if a 
shower came, he made him open his mouth to re- 
ceive the drops, or gently squeezed them into it 
from a rag. In this affecting situation both re- 
mained four or five days, till the boy expired. The 
unfortunate parent, as if unwilling to believe the 
fact, then raised the body, gazed wistfully at it, 
and, wlien he could no longer entertain any doubt, 
watched it in silence till it was carried off by the 
sea ; then, wrapping himself in a piece of canvass, 
sunk dov.n and rose no more ; though he must have 


lived two days longer, as we judged from the quiver- 
ins of liis limbs, when a wave broke over him." * 

* The following is Lord Byron's version of this touching 
narrative; and it will be felt, I think, by every reader, that this 
is one of the instances in which poetry must be content to yield 
the palm to prose. There is a pathos in the last sentences of 
the seaman's recital, which the artifices of metre and rhyme 
were sure to disturb, and which, indeed, no verses, however 
beautiful, could half so naturally and powerfully express: — 

" There were tv,o fathers in this ghastly crew, 

And with them their two sons, of whom the one 

Was more robust and hardy to the view. 
But he died early ; and when he was gone, 

His nearest messmate told his sire, who threw 

One glance on him, and said, ' Heaven's will be done, 

I can do nothing,' and he saw him thrown 

Into the deep without a tear or groan. 

'< The other fither had a weaklier child. 

Of a soft cheek, and aspect delicate ; 
But the boy bore up long, and with a mild 

And patient spirit held aloof his fate ; 
Little he said, and now and then he smiled, 

As if to w in a part from off the weight 
He saw increasing on his father's heart, 
With the deep, deadly thought, that they must part. 

" And o'er him bent his sire, and never raised 

His eyes from off his face, but wiped the foam 

From his pale lips, and ever on him gazed. 

And when the wish'd-for shower at length was come. 

And the boy's eyes, which tlie dull film half glazed, 
Brighten'd, and for a moment seem'd to roam, 

He squeezed from out a rag some drops of rain 

Into his dying child's mouth — but in vain. 

52 NOTICES OF THE 1800. 

It was probably during one of the vacations of 
this year, that the boyish love for his young cousin, 
Miss Parker, to which he attributes the glory of 
having first inspired him with poetry, took pos- 
session of his fancy. " jNIy first dash into poetry 
(he says) was as early as 1 800. It was the ebul- 
lition of a passion for my first cousin, Margaret 
Parker (daughter and grand-daughter of the two 
Admirals Parker), one of the most beautiful of 
evanescent beings. I have long forgotten the verses, 
but it would be difficult for me to forget her — 
her dark eyes — her long eye-lashes — her com- 
pletely Greek cast of face and figure I I was then 
about twelve — she rather older, perhaps a year. 
She died about a year or two afterwards, in conse- 
quence of a fall, which injured her spine, and in- 
duced consumption. Her sister Augusta (by some 

•' The boy expired — tlie father held the clay. 
And look'd upon it long, and when at last 
Death left no doubt, and the dead burden lay 

Stiff on his heart, and pulse and hope were pastj 
He watch'd it -ivistfully, until away 

'Twas borne by the rude wave wherein 'twas cast: 
Then he himself sunk down all dumb and shivering. 
And gave no sign of life, save his limbs quivering." 

Don Juan, canto ii. 

In the collection of " Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea," to 
which Lord Byron so skilfully had recourse for the technical 
knowledge and facts out of which he has composed his own 
powerful description, tlie reader will find the account of the 
loss of the Juno here referred to. 



thought still more beautiful) died of the same 
malady ; and it was, indeed, in attending her, that 
INIargaret met with the accident which occasioned 
her own death. My sister told me, that when she 
went to see her, shortly before her death, upon ac- 
cidentally mentioning my name, Margaret coloured 
through the paleness of mortality to the eyes, to the 
great astonishment of my sister, who (residing with 
her grandmother. Lady Holderness, and seeing but 
little of me, for family reasons,) knew nothing of ouv 
attachment, nor could conceive why my name 
should affect her at such a time. I knew nothing 
of her illness, being at HaiTow and in the country, 
till she was gone. Some years after, I made an 
attempt at an elegy — a very dull one.* 

" I do not recollect scarcely any thing equal to 
the transparent beauty of my cousin, or to the 
sweetness of her temper, during the short period of 
our intimacy. She looked as if she had been made 
out of a rainbow — all beauty and peace. 

" My passion had its usual effects upon me — I 
could not sleep — I could not eat — I could not rest : 
and although I had reason to know that she loved 
me, it was the texture of my life to think of the 
time vvhich must elapse before we could meet again, 
being usually about twelve hours of separation ! 
But I was a fool then, and am not much wiser now." 

He had been nearly two years under the tuition 
of Dr. Glennie, when his mother, discontented at 
the slowness of his progress — though being, herself, 

* This elegy is in his first (unpublished) volume. 
E 3 


as we have seen, the prhicipal cause of it — en- 
treated so urgently of Lord Carhsle to have him 
removed to a pubUc school, that her wish was at 
length acceded to ; and " accordingly," says Dr. 
Glennie, " to Harrow he went, as little prepared as 
it is natural to suppose from two years of elementary 
instruction, thwarted by every art that could es- 
trange the mind of youth from preceptor, from 
school, and from all serious study." 

This gentleman saw but little of Lord Byron 
after he left his care; but, from the manner in which 
both he and Mrs. Glennie spoke of their early 
charge, it was evident that his subsequent career 
had been watched by them with interest ; that they 
had seen even his errors through the softening me- 
dium of their first feeling towards him, and had 
never, in his most irregular aberrations, lost the 
traces of those fine qualities which they had loved 
and admired in him when a child. Of the con- 
stancy, too, of this feeling, Dr. Glennie had to 
stand no ordinary trial, having visited Geneva in 
1817, soon after Lord Bja-on had left it, when the 
private character of the poet was in the very crisis 
of its unpopularity, and when, among those friends 
who knew that Dr. Glennie had once been his 
tutor, it was made a frequent subject of banter with 
this gentleman that he had not more strictly dis- 
ciplined his pupil, or, to use their own words, " made 
a better boy of him." 

About the time when young Byron was removed, 
for his education, to London, his nurse IMay Gray 
left the service of Mrs. Byron, and returned to her 

1800. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. ')5 

native country, where she died about three years 
since. She had married respectably, and in one of 
her last illnesses was attended professionally by 
Dr. Ewing of Aberdeen, who, having been always 
an enthusiastic admirer of Lord Byron, was no less 
surprised than delighted to find that the person 
under his care had for so many years been an at- 
tendant on his favourite poet. With avidity, as 
may be supposed, he noted down from the lips of 
his patient all the particulars she could remember 
of his Lordship's early days ; and it is to the commu- 
nications with which this gentleman has favoured 
me, that I am indebted for many of the anecdotes 
of that period which I have related. 

As a mark of gratitude for her attention to him, 
Byron liad, in parting with May Gray, presented 
her with his watch, — the first of which he had ever 
been possessor. This watch the faithful nurse pre- 
served fondly through life, and, when she died, it 
was given by her husband to Dr. Ewing, by whom, 
as a relic of genius, it is equally valued. The 
affectionate boy had also presented her with a full- 
length miniature of himself, which was painted by 
Kay of Edinburgh, in the year 1795, and which re- 
presents him standing with a bow and arrows in 
his hand, and a profusion of hair falling over his 
shoulders. This curious little drawing has likewise 
passed into the possession of Dr. Ewing. 

The same thoughtful gratitude was evinced by 
Byron towards the sister of this woman, his first 
nurse, to whom he wrote some years after he left 
Scotland, in the most cordial terms, mal<ing enquiries 

E 4? 


of her welfare, and informing her, with much joy, 
that he had at last got his foot so far restored as to 
be able to put on a common boot, — " an event for 
which he had long anxiously wished, and which he 
was sure would give her great pleasure." 

In the summer of the year 1801 he accompanied 
his mother to Cheltenham, and the account which 
he himself gives of his sensations at that period * 
shows at what an early age those feelings that lead 
to poetry had unfolded themselves in his heart. A 
boy, gazing with emotion on the hills at sunset, be- 
cause they remind him of the mountains among 
which he passed his childhood, is already, in heart 
and imagination, a poet. It was during their stay 
at Cheltenham that a fortune-teller, whom his mother 
consulted, pronounced a prediction concerning him 
which, for some time, left a strong impression on his 
mind. Mrs. Byron had, it seems, in her first visit 
to this person, (who, if I mistake not, was the cele- 
brated fortune-teller, Mrs. Williams,) endeavoured to 
pass herself off as a maiden lady. The sibyl, how- 
ever, was not so easily deceived; — she pronounced 
her wise consulter to be not only a married woman, 
but the mother of a son who was lame, and to whom, 
among other events which she read in the stars, it 
was predestined that his life should be in danger 
from poison before he was of age, and that he should 
be twice married, — the second time, to a foreign 
lady. About two years afterwards he himself men- 
tioned these particulars to the person from whom I 

* See page 25. 



heard the story, and said that the thought of tiie 
first part of the prophecy very often occurred to him. 
The latter part, however, seems to have been the 
nearer guess of the two. 

To a shy disposition, such as Byron's was in his 
youth — and such as, to a certain degree, it continued 
all his life — the transition from a quiet establish- 
ment, Hke that of Dulwich Grove, to the bustle of a 
great public school was sufficiently trying. Accord- 
ingly, we find from his own account, that, for the 
first year and a half, he " hated Harrow." The ac- 
tivity, however, and sociableness of his nature soon 
conquered this repugnance ; and, from being, as he 
himself says, " a most unpopular boy," he rose at 
length to be a leader in all the sports, schemes, and 
mischief of the school. 

For a general notion of his dispositions and capa- 
cities at this period, we could not have recourse to 
a more trustworthy or valuable authority than that 
of the Rev. Dr. Drury, who was at this time head 
master of the school, and to whom Lord Byron has 
left on record a tribute of affection and respect, 
which, like the reverential regard of Dry den for 
Dr. Busby, will long associate together honourably 
the names of the poet and the master. From this 
venerable scholar I have received the following 
brief, but important statement of the impressions 
which his early intercourse with the young noble 
left upon him : — 

" Mr. Hanson, Lord Byron's solicitor, consigned 
him to my care at the age of 13J, with remarks, 
that his education had been neglected ; that he 

58 NOTICES OF THE 1801. 

was ill prepared for a public school, but that he 
thought there was a cleverness about him. After 
his departure I took my young disciple into my 
study, and endeavoured to bring him forward by 
enquiries as to his former amusements, employ- 
ments, and associates, but with little or no effect ; 
— and I soon found that a wild mountain colt had 
been submitted to my management. But there was 
mind in his eye. In the first place, it was necessary 
to attach him to an elder boy, in order to familiarise 
him with the objects before him, and with some 
parts of the system in which he was to move. But 
the information he received from his conductor gave 
him no pleasure, when he heard of the advances of 
some in the school, much younger than himself, and 
conceived by his own deficiency that he should be 
degraded, and humbled, by being placed below them. 
This 1 discovered, and having committed him to the 
care of one of the masters, as his tutor, I assured him 
he should not be placed till, by diligence, he might 
rank with those of his own age. He was pleased 
with this assurance, and felt himself on easier terms 
with his associates ; — for a degree of shyness hung 
about him for some time. His manner and temper 
soon convinced me, that iie might be led by a silken 
string to a point, rather than by a cable ; — on that 
principle I acted. After some continuance at Harrow, 
and when the powers of his mind had begun to 
expand, the late Lord Carlisle, his i-elation, desired 
to see me in town ; — I waited on his Lordship. His 
object was to inform me of Lord Byron's expect- 
ations of property when he came of age, which he 


represented as contracted, and to enquire respecting 
his abilities. On the former circumstance I made 
no remark; as to the latter, I replied, ' He has 
talents, my Lord, which will add lustre to his rankl 
' Indeed ! ! ! ' said his Lordship, with a degree of sur- 
prise, that, according to my feeling, did not express 
in it all the satisfaction I expected. 

" The circumstance to which you allude, as to his 
declamatory powers, was as follows. The upper part 
of the school composed declamations, which, after a 
revisal by the tutors, were submitted to the master : 
to him the authors repeated them, that they might 
be improved in manner and action, before their 
public delivery. I certainly was much pleased Avith 
Lord Byron's attitude, gesture, and delivery, as well 
as with his composition. All who spoke on that day 
adhered, as usual, to the letter of their composition, 
as, in the earlier part of his delivery, did Lord Byron. 
But to my surprise he suddenly diverged from the 
written composition, with a boldness and rapidity 
sufficient to alarm me, lest he should fail in memory 
as to the conclusion. There was no failure : — he 
came round to the close of his composition without 
discovering any impediment and irregularity on the 
whole. I questioned him, why he had altered his 
declamation ? He declared he had made no alter- 
ation, and did not know, in speaking, that he had 
deviated from it one letter. I believed him ; and 
from a knowledge of his tem[)erament am con- 
vinced, that, fully impressed with the sense and 
substance of the subject, he was hurried on to ex- 
pressions and colourings more striking than what his 
pen had expressed." 

60 NOTICES OF THE 1801. 

In communicating to me these recollections of his 
illustrious pupil, Dr. Drury has added a circumstance 
which shows how strongly, even in all the pride of 
his fame, that awe with which he had once regarded 
the opinions of his old master still hung around the 
poets sensitive mind : — 

" After my retreat from Harrow, I received from 
him two very affectionate letters. In my occasional 
visits subsequently to London, when he had fasci- 
nated the public with his productions, I demanded 
of him, why, as in duty hound, he had sent none to 
me ? ' Because,' said he, ' you are the only man 
I never wish to read them : ' — but, in a few mo- 
ments, he added — ' What do you think of the 

I shall now lay before the reader such notices of 
his school-life as I find scattered through the various 
note-books he has left behind. Coming, as they do, 
from his own pen, it is needless to add, that they 
afford the liveliest and best records of this period 
that can be furnished. 

" Till I was eighteen years old (odd as it may 
seem) I had never read a review. But while at 
Harrow, my general information was so great on 
modern topics as to induce a suspicion that I could 
only collect so much information from Reviezvs, 
because I was never seen reading, but always idle, 
and in mischief, or at play. The truth is, that I read 
eating, read in bed, read when no one else read, and 
had read all sorts of reading since I was five years 
old, and yet never met with a Review, which is the 
only reason I know of why I should not have read 

1801 — 5. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 61 

them. But it is true ; for I remember when Hun- 
ter and Curzon, in 1804-, told me this opinion at 
Harrow, I made them laugh by my ludicrous as- 
tonishment in asking them ' W7iat is a Review?' 
To be sure, they were then less common. In three 
years more, I was better acquainted with that same ; 
but the first I ever read was in 1806-7. 

" At school I was (as I have said) remarked for 
the extent and readiness of my general information ; 
but in all other respects idle, capable of great sud- 
den exertions, (such as thirty or forty Greek hexa- 
meters, of course with such prosody as it pleased 
God,) but of ievf continuous drudgeries. I\Iy qua- 
lities were much more oratorical and martial than 
poetical, and Dr. Drury, my grand patron, (our head 
master,) had a great notion that I should turn out 
an orator, from my fluency, my turbulence, my voice, 
my copiousness of declamation, and my action,* I 
remember that my first declamation astonished him 
into some unwonted (for he was economical of such) 
and sudden compliments, before the declaimers at 
our first rehearsal. My first Harrow verses, (that is, 
English, as exercises,) a translation of a chorus from 

* For the display of his declamatory powers, on tlie speech- 
days, he selected always the most vehement passages, — such 
as the speech of Zanga over the body of Alonzo, and Lear's 
address to the storm. On one of these public occasions, when 
it was arranged that he should take the part of Drances, and 
young Peel that of Turnus, Lord Byron suddenly changed his 
mind, and preferred tlie speech of Latinus, — fearing, it was 
supposed, some ridicule from the inappropriate taunt of Tur- 
nus, "Ventos^ \n\\n^u3i, pedibus/]ue fugacihus istis." 


the Prometheus of ^'Eschylus, were received by hhii 
but coolly. No one had the least notion that I should 
subside into poesy. 

" Peel, the orator and statesman, ( ' that was, or is, 
or is to be,') was my form-fellow, and we were both 
at the top of our remove (a public-school phrase). 
We were on good terms, but his brother was my 
intimate friend. There were always great hopes of 
Peel, amongst us all, masters and scholars — and he 
has not disajipointed them. As a scholar he was 
greatly my superior ; as a declaimer and actor, I 
was reckoned at least his equal ; as a schoolboy, ozd 
of school, I was always iti scrapes, and he never ; 
and in school, he always knew his lesson, and I rarely, 
— but when I knew it, I knew it nearly as well. In 
general information, history, &c. &c., I think I was 
his superior, as well as of most boys of my standing. 

" The prodigy of our school-days was George Sin- 
clair (son of Sir John) ; he made exercises for half 
the school, {literally) verses at will, and themes 
without it. * * * He was a friend of mine, and in 
the same remove, and used at times to beg me to 
let him do my exercise, — a request always most 
readily accorded upon a pinch, or when I wanted to 
do something else, which was usually once an hour. 
On the other hand, he was pacific and I savage ; so 
I fought for him, or thrashed others for him, or 
thrashed himself to make him thrash others when it 
was necessary, as a point of honour and stature, 
that he should so chastise ; — or we talked politics, 
for he was a great politician, and were very good 

J801— 5. 1-IFE OF LORD BYROX. 63 

friends. I have some of his letters, written to rae 
from school, still. * 

" Clayton was another school-monster of learning, 
and talent, and hope ; but what has become of him 
I do not know. He was certainly a genius. 

" My school-friendships were with trie passions f , 
(for I was always violent,) but I do not know that 
there is one which has endured (to be sure some 
have been cut short by death) till now. That with 
Lord Clare begun one of the earliest, and lasted 
longest — being only interrupted by distance — that 
I know of. I never hear the word ' Clare ' without 
a beating of the heart even now, and I write it with 
the feelings of 1803-4-5, ad infinitum." 

The following extract is from another of his manu- 
script journals : — 

" At Harrow I fought my way very fairly.:}: I think 

* His letters to Mr. Sinclair, in return, are unluckily lost, 

one of them, as tliis gentleman tells me, having been highly 

characteristic of the jealous sensitiveness of his noble school- 
fellow, being written under the impression of some ideal 
slight, and beginning, angrily, "Sir." 

f On a leaf of one of his note-books, dated 1808, I find the 
following passage from Marmontel, which no doubt struck him 
as applicable to the enthusiasm of his own youthful friend- 
ships : — " L'amitit', qui dans le monde est a peine un senti- 
ment, est une passion dans les cloitres." — Contes Mormir. 

I Mr. D'Israeli, in his ingenious work " On the Literary 
Character," has given it as his opinion, that a disinclination to 
athletic sports and exercises will be, in general, found among 
the peculiarities which mark a youthful genius. In support of 
this notion he quotes Beattie, who thus describes his idea} 
minstrel : — 

64) NOTICES OF THE 1801—5 

I lost but one battle out of seven ; and that vvas to 

H ; — and the rascal did not win it, but by the 

unfair treatment of his own boarding-house, where 
we boxed — I had not even a second. I never for- 
gave him, and I should be sorry to meet him now, 
as I am sure we should quarrel. INIy most memo- 
rable combats were with Morgan, Rice, Rainsford, 
and Lord Jocelyn, — but we were always friendly 
afterwards. I was a most unpopular boy, but led 
latterly, and have retained many of my school friend- 
ships, and all my dislikes — except to Dr. Butler, 
whom I treated rebelliously, and have been sorry 
ever since. Dr. Drury, whom I plagued sufficiently 

" Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled. 
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray 

Of squabbling imps, but to the forest sped." 
His highest authority, however, is Milton, who says of him- 

" When I was yet a child, no childish play 

To me was pleasing." 
Such general rules, however, are as little applicable to the dispo- 
sitions of men of genius as to their powers. If, in the instances 
which Mr. D'Israeli adduces, an indisposition to bodily exertion 
was manifested, as many others may be cited in which the directly 
opposite propensity was remarkable. In war, the most turbu- 
lent of exercises, jEschylus, Dante, Camoens, and a long list 
of other poets, distinguished themselves ; and, though it may 
be granted that Horace was a bad rider, and Virgil no tennis- 
player, yet, on tbe other hand, Dante was, we know, a falconer 
as well as swordsman ; Tasso, expert both as swordsman and 
dancer ; Alfieri, a great rider; Klopstock, a skaiter ; Cowper, 
famous, in his youth, at cricket and foot-ball ; and Lord 
Byron, pre-eminent in all sorts of exercises. 

1801 — 5. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 65 

too, was the best, the kindest (and yet strict, too,) 
friend I ever had — and I look upon him still as a 

" P. Hunter, Curzon, Long, and Tatersall, were 
my principal friends. Clare, Dorset, C^. Gordon, 
De Bath, Claridge, and Jno. Wingfield, were my 
juniors and favourites, whom I spoilt by indulgence. 
Of all human beings, I was, perhaps, at one time, 
the most attached to poor Wingfield, who died at 
Coimbra, 1811, before I returned to England." 

One of the most striking results of the English 
system of education is, that while in no country are 
there so many instances of manly friendships early- 
formed and steadily maintained, so in no other 
conntry, perhaps, are the feelings towards the pa- 
rental home so early estranged, or, at the best, 
feebly cherished. Transplanted as boys are from 
the domestic circle, at a time of life when the af- 
fections are most disposed to cling, it is but natural 
that they should seek a substitute for the ties of 
home * in those boyish friendships which they form 
at school, and which, connected as they are with tlie 
scenes and events over which youth threw its charm, 

* " At eight or nine years of age the boy goes to school. 
From that moment he becomes a stranger in his father's house. 
The course of parental kindness is interrupted. The smiles 
of his mothe)', those tender admonitions, and the solicitous 
care of both his parents, are no longer before his eyes — 
year after year he feels himself more detached from them, till 
at last he is so effectually weaned from the connection, as to find 
himself happier any where than in their company." — Cowper, 

VOL. I. F 


retain ever after tlie strongest hold upon their 
hearts. In Ireland, and I believe also in France, 
where the system of education is more domestic, a 
different result is accordingly observable : — the 
paternal home comes in for its due and natural 
share of affection, and the growth of friendships, out 
of this domestic circle, is proportionably diminished. 
To a youth like Byron, abounding with the most 
passionate feelings, and finding sympathy with only 
the ruder parts of his nature at home, the little 
world of school afforded a vent for his affections, 
which was sure to call them forth in their most 
ardent form. Accordingly, the friendships which 
he contracted, both at school and college, were little 
less than what he himself describes them, " pas- 
sions." The want he felt at home of those kindred 
dispositions, which greeted him among " Ida's social 
band," is thus strongly described in one of his early 
poems * : — 

* Even previously to any of these school friendships, he had 
formed the same sort of romantic attachment to a boy of his own 
age, the son of one of his tenants at Newstead ; and there are 
two or three of his most juvenile poems, in which he dwells no 
less upon the inequality than the warmth of this friendship. 
Thus : — 

" Let Folly smile, to view the names 

Of thee and me in friendship twined; 
Yet Virtue will have greater claims 

To love, than rank with Vice combined. 

And though unequal is thy fate, 

Since title deck'd my higher birth, 
Yet envy not this gaudy state, 

Thine is the pride of modest wortli. 

1801 :>. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 67 

" Is there no cause beyond the common claim, 
Endear'd to all in childhood's very name? 
Ah ! sure some stronger impulse vibrates here, 
Which whispers, Friendship will be doubly dear 
To one who thus for kindi-ed hearts must roam. 
And seek abroad the love denied at home : 
Those hearts, dear Ida, have I found in thee, 
A home, a world, a paradise to me." 

This early volume, indeed, abounds with the most 
affectionate tributes to his school-fellows. Even his 
expostulations to one of them, who had given him 
some cause for complaint, are thus tenderly con- 
veyed : — 

" You knew that my soul, that my heart, my existence, 
If danger demanded, were wholly your own ; 
You know me unaltered by years or by distance, 
Devoted to love and to friendship alone. 

" You knew — but away with the vain retrospection. 
The bond of afl'ection no longer endures. 
Too late you may droop o'er the fond recollection. 
And sigh for tlie friend who was formerly yours." 

The following description of what he felt after 
leaving Harrow, when he encountered in the world 
any of his old school-fellows, falls far short of the 
scene which actually occurred but a few years before 
his death in Italy, — when, on meeting with his 
friend, Lord Clare, after a long separation, he was 

" Our souls at least congenial meet. 
Nor can tliy lot my rank disgrace ; 
Our intercourse is not less sweet 

Since worth of rank supplies the place. 

" November, 1802." 
F 2 

68 NOTICES OF THE 1801 — 5, 

affected almost to tears by the recollections which 
rushed on him. 

" If chance some well remember'd face, 
Some old companion of my early race, 
Advance to claim his friend with honest joy, 
]My eyes, my heart proclaim'd me yet a boy ; 
The glittering scene, the fluttering groups around, 
Were all forgotten when my friend was found." 

It will be seen, by the extracts from his memo- 
randum-book, which I have given, that Mr. Peel was 
one of his contemporaries at Harrow ; and the fol- 
lowing interesting anecdote of an occurrence in 
which both were concerned, has been related to me 
by a friend of the latter gentleman, in whose words 
I shall endeavour as nearly as possible to give it. 

While Lord Byron and INIr. Peel were at Harrow 
together, a tyrant, some few years older, whose name 
was ****** J claimed a right to fag little Peel, 
which claim (whether rightly or wrongly I know 
not) Peel resisted. His resistance, however, was in 
vain : — ****** ^ot only subdued him, but de- 
termined also to punish the refractory slave ; and 
proceeded forthwith to put this determination in 
practice, by inflicting a kind of bastinado on the 
inner fleshy side of the boy's arm, which, during the 
operation, was twisted round with some degree of 
technical skill, to render the pain more acute. While 
the stripes were succeeding each other, and poor 
Peel writhing under them, Byron saw and felt for 
the misery of his friend; and although he knew 
that he was not strong enough to fight ****** 
with any hope of success, and that it was dangerous 

1801 5. LIBE OF LORD BYRON, 69 

even to approach him, he advanced to the scene of 
action, and with a blush of rage, tears in his eyes, 
and a voice trembling between terror and indignation, 
asked very humbly if ***** * would be pleased to 
tell him " how many stripes he meant to inflict? " 
— " Why," returned the executioner, " you little 
rascal, what is that to you?" — " Because, if you 
please," said Byron, holding out his arm, " I would 
take half! " 

There is a mixture of simplicity and magnanimity 
in this little trait which is truly heroic ; and however 
we may smile at the friendships of boys, it is but 
rarely that the friendship of manhood is capable of 
any thing half so generous. 

Among his school favourites a great number, it 
may be observed, were nobles or of noble family — 
Lords Clare and Delaware, the Duke of Dorset and 
young Wingfield — and that their rank may have 
had some share in first attracting his regard to them, 
might appear from a circumstance mentioned to me 
by one of his school-fellows, who, being monitor one 
day, had put Lord Delaware on his list for punish- 
ment. Byron, hearing of this, came up to him, and 
said, " Wildman, I find you've got Delaware on your 
list — pray don't lick him." — " Why not ? " — 
" Why, I don't know — except that he is a brother 
peer. But pray don't." It is almost needless to add, 
that his interference, on such grounds, was any thing 
but successful. One of the few merits, indeed, of 
public schools is, that they level, in some degree, 
these artificial distinctions, and that, however the 
peer may have his revenge in the world afterwards, 

F 3 

70 NOTICES OF THE 1£01— 5. 

the young plebeian is, for once,atleast, on something 
like an equality with him. 

It is true that Lord Byron s high notions of rank 
were, in his boyish days, so little disguised or soften- 
ed down, as to draw upon him, at times, the ridi- 
cule of his companions ; and it was at Dulwich, I 
think, that from his frequent boast of the superiority 
of an old English barony over all the later creations 
of the peerage, he got the nickname, among the 
boys, of " the Old English Baron." But it is a mis- 
take to suppose that, either at school or afterwards, 
he was at all guided in the selection of his friends 
by aristocratic sympathies. On the contrary, like 
most very proud persons, he chose his intimates in 
general from a rank beneath his own, and those boys 
whom he ranked as friends at school were mostly of 
this description ; while the chief charm that recom- 
mended to him his younger favourites was their in- 
feriority to himself in age and strength, which 
enabled him to indulge his generous pride by taking 
upon himself, when necessary, the office of their 

Among those wliom he attached to himself by 
this latter tie, one of the earliest (though he has 
omitted to mention his name) was William Harness, 
who at the time of his entering Harrow was ten years 
of age, while Byron was fourteen. Young Harness, 
still lame from an accident of his cliildhood, and but 
just recovered from a severe illness, was ill fitted to 
struggle with the difficulties of a public school ; and 
Byron, one day, seeing him bullied by a boy much 
older and stronger than himself, interfered and took 

1801—5. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. (1 

his part. The next day, as the little fellon- was stand- 
ing alone, Byron came to him and said, " Harness, 
if any one bullies you, tell me, and I'll thrash him, if 
I can." The young champion kept his word, and 
they were from this time, notwithstanding the differ- 
ence of their ages, inseparable friends. A coolness, 
liowever, subsequently arose between them, to which, 
and to the juvenile friendship it interrupted. Lord 
Byron, in a letter addressed to Harness six years 
afterwards, alludes with so much kindly feeling, so 
much delicacy and frankness, that I am tempted to 
anticipate the date of the letter, and give an extract 
from it here. 

" We both seem perfectly to recollect, with a mix- 
ture of pleasure and regret, the hours we once 
passed together, and I assure you, most sincerely, 
they are numbered among the happiest of my brief 
chronicle of enjoyment. I am now getting into years, 
that is to say, I was twenty Simox\X\\ ago, and another 
year will send me into the world to run my career 
of folly with the rest. I was then just fourteen, — 
you were almost the first of my Harrow friends, 
certainly the^V*^ in my esteem, if not in date ; but 
an absence from Harrow for some time, shortly 
after, and new connections on your side, and the 
difference in our conduct (an advantage decidedly 
in your favour) from that turbulent and riotous dis- 
position of mine, which impelled me into every spe- 
cies of mischief, — all these circumstances combined 
to destroy an intimacy, which affection urged me to 
continue, and memory compels me to regret. But 
there is not a circumstance attending that period, 

F 4- 

72 NOTICES OF THE 1801— 5. 

liardl}'^ a sentence we exchanged, which is not im- 
pressed on my mind at this moment. I need not say 
more, — this assurance alone must convince you, had 
I considered them as trivial, they would have been 
less indelible. How well I recollect the perusal of 
your ' first flights !' There is another circumstance 
you do not know ; — \\\e first lines I ever attempted 
at Harrow were addressed to you. You were to 
have seen them ; but Sinclair had the copy in his 
possession when we went home ; — and, on our re- 
turn, we were strangers. They were destroyed, and 
certainly no great loss ; but you will perceive from 
this circumstance my opinions at an age when we 
cannot be hypocrites, 

" I have dwelt longer on this theme than I intend- 
ed, and I shall now conclude with what I ought to 
have begun. We were once friends, — nay, we have 
always been so, for our separation was the effect of 
chance, not of dissension. I do not know how far 
our destinations in life may throw us together, but 
if opportunity and inclination allow you to waste a 
thought on such a hare-brained being as myself, you 
will find me at least sincere, and not so bigoted to 
my faults as to involve others in the consequences. 
Will you sometimes write to me ? I do not ask it 
often ; and, if we meet, let us be what we should be, 
and what we were.'' 

Of the tenaciousness with which, as we see in this 
letter, he clung to all the impressions of his youth, 
there can be no stronger proof than the very interest- 
ing fact, that, while so little of his own boyish corre- 
spondence has been preserved, there were found 



among his papers almost all the notes and letters 
which his principal school favom-ites, even the 
youngest, had ever addressed to him ; and, in some 
cases, where the youthful writers had omitted to 
date their scrawls, his faithful memory had, at an 
interval of years after, supplied the deficiency. 
Among these memorials, so fondly treasured by him, 
there is one which it would be unjust not to cite, as 
well on account of the manly spirit that dawns 
through its own childish language, as for the sake of 
the tender and amiable feeling which, it will be 
seen, the re-perusal of it, in other days, awakened 
in Byron : — 

« TO THE LORD BYRON, &c. &c. 

•« Harrow on the Hill, July 28. 1805. 

" Since you have been so unusually unkind to me, 
in calling me names whenever you meet me, of late, 
I must beg an explanation, wishing to know whether 
you choose to be as good friends with me as ever. 
I must own that, for this last month, you have en- 
tirely cut me, — for, I suppose, your new cronies. 
But tliink not that I will (because you choose to 
take into your head some whim or other) be always 
going up to you, nor do, as I observe certain other 
fellows doing, to regain your friendship ; nor think 
that I am your friend either through interest, or 
because you are bigger and older than I am. No, 
— it never was so, nor ever shall be so. I was only 
your friend, and am so still, — unless you go on in 
this way, calling me names whenever 3'ou see me. 

7'"1< NOTICES OF THE 1801 — b. 

I am sure you may easily perceive I do not like it ; 
therefore, why should you do it, unless you wish 
that I should no longer be your friend ? And why 
should I be so, if you treat me unkindly ? I have 
no interest in being so. Though you do not let the 
boys bully me, yet if i/ou treat me unkindly, that is 
to me a great deal worse. 

" I am no hypocrite, Byron, nor will I, for your 
pleasure, ever suffer you to call me names, if you 
wish me to be your friend. If not, I cannot help it. 
I am sure no one can say that I will cringe to regain 
a friendship that you have rejected. Why should I 
do so? Am I not your equal? Therefore, what 
interest can I have in doing so ? When we meet 
again in the world, (that is, if you choose it,) ?/oii 
cannot advance or promote me, nor I you. There- 
fore I beg and entreat of you, if you value my 
friendship, — which, by your conduct, I am sure I 
cannot think you do, — not to call me the names 
you do, nor abuse me. Till that time, it will be out of 
my power to call you friend. I shall be obliged for 
an answer as soon as it is convenient ; till then 

I remain yours, 

* * 

" I cannot say your friend." 

Endorsed on this letter, in the handwriting of 
Lord Byron, is the following: — 

" This and another letter were written at HarroM', 
by my then, and I hope evei; beloved friend. Lord * *, 
when we were both school-boys, and sent to my 
study in consequence of some childish misunder- 

1801 — 5. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 7o 

Standing, — the only one which ever arose between 
us. It was of sliort duration, and I retain this note 
solely for the purpose of submitting it to his perusal, 
that we may smile over the recollection of the 
insignificance of our first and last quarrel. 

" Byron." 

In a letter, dated two years afterwards, from the 
same boy*, there occurs the following characteristic 

* There are, in other letters of the same writer, some curious 
proofs of the passionate and jealous sensibility of Byron. From 
one of them, for instance, we collect that he had taken offence 
at his young friend's addressing him " my dear Byron," instead 
of " my dearest ; " and from another, that his jealousy had 
been awakened by some expressions of regret which liis cor- 
respondent had expressed at the departure of Lord John 
Russell for Spain : — 

" You tell me," says the young letter-writer, " that you never 
knew me in such an agitation as I was when I wrote my last 
letter ; and do you not think I had reason to be so? I received 
a letter from you on Saturday, telling me you were going 
abroad for six years in March, and on Sunday John Russell 
set off for Spain. Was not that sufficient to make me rather 
melancholy? But how can you possibly imagine that I was 
more agitated on John Russell's account, who is gone for a 
few months, and from whom I shall hear constantly, tlian at 
your going for six years to travel over most part of the world, 
when I shall hardly ever hear from you, and perhaps may 
never see you again ? 

'' It has very much hurt me your telling me that you miglit 
be excused if you felt rather jealous at my expressing more 
sorrow for the departure of the friend who was with me, than 
of that one wlio was absent. It is quite impossible you can 
think I am more sorry for John's absence than I shall be for 
yours ; — I shall therefore finish the subject." 

76 KOTICES OF THE 1801 — 5. 

trait: — " I think, by your last letter, that you are 
very much piqued with most of your friends ; and, 
if I am not much mistaken, you are a little piqued 
with me. In one part you say, ' There is little or 
no doubt a few years, or months, will render us as 
politely indifferent to each other as if we had never 
passed a portion of our time together.' Indeed, 
Byron, you wrong me, and I have no doubt — at 
least, I hope — you wrong yourself." 

As that propensity to self-delineation, which so 
strongly pervades his maturer works is, to the full, 
as predominant in his early productions, there needs 
no better record of his mode of life, as a school-boy, 
than what these fondly circumstantial effusions supply. 
Thus the sports lie delighted and excelled in are 
enumerated : — 

" Yet when confinement's lingering hour was done, 
Our sports, our studies, and our souls were one : 
Together we iinpeil'd the flying ball, 

Together join'd in cricket's manly toil, 

Or shared the produce of the river's spoil ; 

Or, plunging from the green, declining shore, 

Our pliant limbs the buoyant waters bore ; 

In every element, unchanged, the same, 

All, all that brothers should be, but the name." 

The danger which he incurred in a fight with 
some of the neighbouring farmers — an event well 
remembered by some of his school-fellows — is thus 
commemorated . — 

" Still I remember, in the factious strife, 
The rustic's musket aim'd against my life; 
High poised in air the massy weapon hung, 
A cry of horror burst from every tongue : 

1801 — 5. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 77 

Whilst I, in combat with another foe, 
Fought on, unconscious of the impending blow. 
Your arm, brave boy, arrested his career — 
Forward you sprung, insensible to fear ; 
Disarm'd and baffled by your conquering hand, 
The grovelling savage roll'd upon the sand." 

Some feud, it appears, had arisen on the subject 
of the cricket-ground, between these "clods" (as in 
school-language they are called) and the boys, and 
one or two skirmishes had previously taken place. 
But the engagement here recorded was accidentally 
brought on by the breaking up of school and the 
dismissal of the volunteers from drill, both happening, 
on that occasion, at the same hour. This circum- 
stance accounts for the use of the musket, the butt- 
end of which Avas aimed at Byron's head, and would 
have felled him to the ground, but for the interpo- 
sition of his friend Tatersall, a lively, high-spirited boy, 
whom he addresses here under the name of Davus. 

Notwithstanding these general habits of play and 
idleness, which might seem to indicate a certain 
absence of reflection and feeling, there were moments 
when the youthful poet would retire thoughtfully 
within himself, and give way to moods of musing 
uncongenial with the usual cheerfulness of his age. 
They show a tomb in the churchyard at Harrow, 
commanding a view over Windsor, which was so well 
known to be his favourite resting-place, that the boys 
called it " Byron's tomb * ;" and here, they say, he 

* To this tomb he thus refers in the " Childish Recollec- 
tions," as printed in his first unpublished volume : — 
" Oft when, oppress'd with sad, foreboding gloom, 
1 sat reclined upon our favourite tomb." 


used to sit for hours, wrapt up ia thought, — brooding 
lonelily over the first stin-ings of passion and genius 
in his soul, and occasionally, perhaps, indulging in 
those bright forethoughts of fame, under the in- 
fluence of which, when little more than fifteen years 
of asre, he wrote these remarkable lines : — 

" My epitaplt shall be my name alone ; 
If that with honour fail to crown my clay. 
Oh may no other fame my deeds repay ; 
That, only that, shall single out the spot, 
By that remember'd, or with that forgot." 

In the autumn of 1802, he passed a short time 
with his mother at Bath, and entered, rather pre- 
maturely, into some of the gaieties of the place. 
At a masquerade given by Lady Riddel, he appeared 
in the character of a Turkish boy, — a sort of antici- 
pation, both in beauty and costume, of his own young 
Selim, in " The Bride." On his entering into the 
house, some person in the crowd attempted to snatch 
the diamond crescent from his turban, but was pre- 
vented by the prompt interposition of one of the 
party. The lady who mentioned to me this circum- 
stance, and who was well acquainted with Mrs. 
Byron at that period, adds the following remark in 
tlie communication with which she has favoured 
me : — "At Bath I saw a good deal of Lord Byron, — 
his mother frequently sent for me to take tea v/ith 
her. He was always very pleasant and droll, and, 
vvlicn conversing about absent friends, showed a 
slight turn for satire, which after-years, as is well 
known, gave a finer edge to. " 

We come now to an event in his life which, ac- 


cording to his own deliberate persuasion, exercised 
a lasting and paramount influence over the whole of 
his subsequent character and career 

It was in the year 1803 that his heart, already 
twice, as we have seen, possessed with the childish 
notion that it loved, conceived an attachment which 
— young as he was, even then, for such a feeling — 
sunk so deep into his mind as to give a colour to all 
his future life. That unsuccessful loves are gener- 
ally the most lasting, is a truth, however sad, which 
unluckily did not require this instance to confirm it. 
To the same cause, I fear, must be traced the per- 
fect innocence and romance which distinguish this 
very early attachment to Miss Chaworth from the 
many others that succeeded, without effacing it in 
his heart ; — making it the only one whose details 
can be entered into with safety, or whose results, 
however darkening their influence on himself, can 
be dwelt upon with pleasurable interest by others. 

On leaving Bath, Mrs. Byron took up her abode, 
in lodgings, at Nottingham, — Newstead Abbey being 
at that time let to I^ord Grey de Iluthen, — and during 
the Harrow vacations of this year, she was joined 
there by her son. So attached was he to Newstead, 
that even to be in its neighbourhood was a delight 
to him; and before he became acquainted with Lord 
Grey, he used sometimes to sleep, for a night, at the 
small house near the gate which is still known by the 
name of " The Hut." * An intimacy, however, soon 

* I find this circumstance, of his having occasionally slept 
at trie Hut, thougli asserted by one of the old servants, much 
doubted by others. 

80 NOTICES OF THE 1801 — S- 

sprang up between him and his noble tenant, and an 
apartment in the abbey was from thenceforth ahvays 
at his service. To the family of Miss Chaworth, wiio 
resided at Annesley, in the immediate neighbourhood 
of Newstead, he had been made known, some time 
before, in London, and now renewed his acquaintance 
with them. The young heiress herseh^ combined 
with the many worklly advantages that encircled 
her, much personal beauty, and a disposition the most 
amiable and attaching. Though already fully alive 
to her charms, it was at the period of which we are 
speaking that the young poet, who was then in his 
sixteenth year, while the object of his admiration 
was about two years older, seems to have drunk 
deepest of that fascination whose effects were to be 
so lasting ; — six short summer weeks which he now 
passed in her company being sufficient to lay the 
foundation of a feeling for all life. 

He used, at first, though offered a bed at Annesley, 
to return every night to Newstead, to sleep ; alleging 
as a reason that he was afraid of the family jMctures 
of the Chaworths, — that he fancied " they had 
taken a grudge to him on account of the duel, and 
would come down from their frames at night to 
haunt him."* At length, one evening, he said 

* It may possibly have been the recollection of these pic- 
tures that suggested to him the following lines in the Siege of 
Corinth : — 

" Like the figures on arras that gloomily glare, 
Stirr'd by tlie breath of the wintry air, 
So seen by the dying lamp's fitful light, 
Lifeless, but life-like and awful to sight ; 
As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down 
From the shadowy wall where their images frown." 

]S01— 5. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 81 

gravely to Miss Chaworth and her cousin, " In going 
home last night I saw a bogle ; " — which Scotch 
term being wholly unintelligible to the young ladies, 
he explained that he had seen a ghost, and would not 
therefore return to Newstead that evening. From 
this time he always slept at Annesley during the 
remainder of his visit, which was interrupted only 
by a short excursion to Matlock and Castleton, in 
which he had the happiness of accompanying Miss 
Chaworth and her party, and of which the following 
interesting notice appears in one of his memorandum- 
books : — 

" When I was fifteen years of age. It happened 
that, in a cavern in Derbyshire, I had to cross in a 
boat (in which two people only could lie down) a 
stream which flows under a rock, with the rock so 
close upon the water as to admit the boat only to be 
pushed on by a ferryman (a sort of Charon) who 
wades at the stern, stooping all the time. The com- 
})anion of my transit was M. A. C, with whom I 
had been long in love, and never told it, though she 
had discovered it without. I recollect my sensations, 
but cannot describe them, and it is as well. We 
were a party, a Mr. W., two Miss W.s, Mr. and 
Mrs. CI— ke, Miss R. and tmj M. A. C. Alas ! why 
do I say my ? Our union would have healed feuds 
in which blood had been shed by our fathers, — it 
would have joined lands broad and rich, it would 
have joined at least one heart, and two persons not 
ill matched in years (she is two years my elder), 
and — and — and — what has been the result ? " 

In the dances of the evening at Matlock, Miss 

VOL. I. G 

82 NOTICES OF THE 1801 — 5. 

Chawortli, of course, joined, while her lover sat 
looking on, solitary and mortified. It is not impos- 
sible, indeed, that the dislike which he always 
expressed for this amusement may have originated 
in some bitter pang, felt in his youth, on seeing 
" the lady of his love " led out by others to the gay 
dance from which he was himself excluded. On 
the present occasion, the young heiress of Annesley 
having had for her partner (as often happens at 
Matlock) some person with whom she was wholly 
unacquainted, on her resuming her seat, Byron 
said to her pettishly, " I hope you like your 
fi'iend ? " The words were scarce out of his lips 
when he was accosted by an ungainly-looking 
Scotch lady, who rather boisterously claimed him as 
" cousin," and was putting his pride to the torture 
with her vulgarity, when he heard the voice of his 
fair companion retorting archly in his ear, " I hope 
you like your friend ? " 

His time at Annesley was mostly passed in riding 
with Miss Chaworth and her cousin, sitting in idle 
reverie, as was his custom, pulling at his handker- 
chief, or in firing at a door which opens upon the 
terrace, and which still, I believe, bears the marks 
of his shots. But his chief delight was in sitting to 
hear Miss Chaworth play ; and the pretty Welsh air, 
" Mary Anne," was (partly, of course, on account 
of the name) his especial favourite. During all this 
time he had the pain of knowing that the heart of 
her he loved was occupied by another ; — that, as 
lie himself expresses it, 

*' Her sighs were not for him ; to lier he was 
Even as a brother — but no more." 

1801—5. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 83 

Neither is it, indeed, probable, had even her af- ' 
fections been disengaged, that Lord Byron would, 
at this time, have been selected as the object of 
them. A seniority of two years gives to a girl, " on 
the eve of womanhood," an advance into life with 
which the boy keeps no proportionate pace. Miss 
Chaworth looked upon Byron as a mere school-boy. 
He was in his manners, too, at that period, rough 
and odd, and (as I have heard from more than one 
quarter) by no means popular among girls of his own ■ 
age. If, at any moment, however, he had flattered 
himself with the hope of being loved by her, a cir- 
cumstance mentioned in his " Memoranda," as one 
of the most painful of those humiliations to which 
the defect in his foot had exposed him, must have 
let the truth in, with dreadful certainty, upon his 
heart. He either was told of, or overheard. Miss 
Chaworth saying to her maid, " Do you think I 
could care any thing for that lame boy ? " This 
speech, as he himself described it, was like a 
shot through his heart. Though late at night when 
he heard it, he instantly darted out of the house, and 
scarcely knowing whither he ran, never stopped till 
he found himself at Newstead. 

The picture which he has drawn of his youthful 
love, in one of the most interesting of his poems, 
<' The Dream," shows how genius and feeling can 
elevate the realities of this life, and give to the com- 
monest events and objects an undying lustre. The 
old hall at Annesley, under the name of " the antique 
oratory," will long call up to fancy the " maiden and 
the youth" who once stood in it : while the image 

G 2 

84; NOTICES OF THE 1801—5. 

of the " lover's steed," thougli suggested by the un- 
romantic race-ground of Nottingham, will not the 
less conduce to the general charm of the scene, and 
share a portion of that light which only genius 
could shed over it. 

He appears already, at this boyish age, to have 
been so far a proficient in gallantry as to know the use 
that may be made of the trophies of former triumphs 
in achieving new ones ; for he used to boast, with 
much pride, to Miss Chaworth, of a locket which 
some fair favourite had given him, and which pro- 
bably may have been a present from that pretty 
cousin, of whom he speaks with such warmth in one 
of til e notices already quoted. He was also, it appears, 
not a little aware of his own beauty, which, notwith- 
standing the tendency to corpulence derived from 
his mother, gave promise, at this time, of that pe- 
culiar expression into which his features refined and 
kindled afterwards. 

With the summer holidays ended this dream of 
his youth. He saw Miss Chaworth once more in 
the succeeding year, and took his last farewell of 
her (as he himself used to relate) on that bilinear An- 
nesley * which, in his poem of " The Dream, " he 

* Among the unpublished verses of his in my possession, 
I find the following fragment, written not long after this 
period : — 

" Hills of Annesley, bleak and barren, 

Where my thoughtless childhood stray'd, 
How the northern tempests, warring, 
Howl above thy tufted shade ! 

1801—5. LIFE OF LORD BYKON. 85 

describes so happily as " crowned with a pecuUar 
diadem." No one, he declared, could have told how 
much he felt — for his countenance was calm, and 
his feelings restrained. " The next time I see you," 
said he in parting with her, " I suppose you will 
be Mrs. Chaworth*, " — and her answer was, " I 
hope so." It was before this interview that he 
wrote, with a pencil, in a volume of Madame de 
Maintenon's letters, belonging to her, the following 
verses, which have never, I believe, before been 
published : f — 

" Oh Memory, torture me no more, 

The present's all o'ercast ; 
My hopes of future bliss are o'er, 

In mercy veil the past. 
Why bring those images to view 

I henceforth must resign ? 
Ah ! why those happy hours renew, 

That never can be mine? 
Past pleasure doubles present pain, 

To sorrow adds regret, 
Regret and hope are both in vain, 

I ask but to — forget." 

" Now no more, the hours beguiling, 
Former favourite haunts I see ; 
Now no more my Mary smiling, 
Makes ye seem a heaven to me." 

• The lady's husband, for some time, took her family name. 

•f- These stanzas, I have since found, are not Lord Byron's, 
but the production of Lady Tuite, and are contained in a 
volume published by her Ladyship in the year 1795. — (Second 

G 3 

86 NOTICES OF THE 1805. 

In the following year, 1805, Miss Chaworth was 
married to his successful rival, Mr. John Musters ; 
and a person who was present when the first intelli- 
gence of the event was communicated to him, thus 
describes the manner in which he received it. — " I 
was present when he first heard of the marriage. 
His mother said, ' Byron, I have some news for you.' 

— ' Well, what is it ? ' — ' Take out your handker- 
chief first, for you will want it.' — ' Nonsense ! ' — 
' Take out your handkerchief, I say.' He did so, 
to humour her. ' Miss Chaworth is married.' An 
expression very peculiar, impossible to describe, 
passed over his pale face, and he hurried his hand- 
kerchief into his pocket, saying, with an affected air 
of coldness and nonchalance, ' Is that all ? ' — ' Why, 
I expected you would have been plunged in grief! ' 

— He made no reply, and soon began to talk about 
something else." 

His pursuits at Harrow continued to be of the 
same truant description during the whole of his stay 
there ; — " always," as he says himself, " cricketing, 
rebelling *, rowing, and in all manner of mischiefs." 
The " rebelling," of which he here speaks, (though 
it never, I believe, proceeded to any act of violence,) 
took place on the retirement of Dr. Drury from his 
situation as head master, when three candidates for 

* Gibbon, in speaking of public schools, says — " The mimic 
scene of a rebellion has displayed, in their true colours, the 
ministers and patriots of the rising generation." Such prog- 
nostics, however, are not always to be relied on ; — the mild, 
peaceful Addison was, when at school, the successful leader of 
a barrins-out. 



the vacant chair presented themselves, — Mark 
Drury, Evans, and Butler. On the first movement to 
which this contest gave rise in the school, young 
Wildman was at the head of the party for Mark 
Drury, while Byron at first held himself aloof from 
any. Anxious, however, to have him as an ally, one 
of the Drury faction said to Wildman — " Byron, I 
know, will not join, because he doesn't choose to 
act second to any one, but, by giving up the leader- 
ship to him, you may at once secure him." This 
Wildman accordingly did, and Byron took the com- 
mand of the party. 

The violence with which he opposed the election 
of Dr. Butler on this occasion (chiefly from the 
warm affection which he had felt towards the last 
master) continued to embitter his relations with 
that gentleman during the remainder of his stay at 
Harrow. Unhappily their opportunities of collision 
were the more frequent from Byron's being a resi- 
dent in Dr. Butler's house. One day the young 
rebel, in a fit of defiance, tore down all the gratings 
from the window in the hall ; and when called upon 
by his host to say why he had committed this 
violence, answered, with stern coolness, " Because 
they darkened the hall." On another occasion he 
explicitly, and so far manfully, avowed to this gen- 
tleman's face the pique he entertained against him. 
It has long been customary, at the end of a term, for 
the master to invite the upper boys to dine with him ; 
and these invitations are generally considered as, 
like royal ones, a sort of command. Lord Byron, 
however, when asked, sent back a refusal, which 

G 4 

88 NOTICES OF THE 1805, 

rather surprising Dr. Butler, he, on the first oppor- 
tunity that occurred, enquired of him, in the presence 
of the other boys, his motive for this step : — 
" Have you any other engagement ? " — " No, sir." 
— " But you must have some reason, Lord Byron." 
— " I have.' — " What is it ? "— " Wliy, Dr. Butler," 
replied the young peer, with proud composure, " if 
you should happen to come into my neighbourhood 
when I was staying at Newstead, I certainly should 
not ask you to dine with me, and therefore feel that 
I ought not to dine with you." * 

The general character which he bore among the 
masters at Harrow was that of an idle boy, who 
would never learn anything ; and, as far as regarded 
his tasks in school, this reputation was, by his own 
avowal, not ill-founded. It is impossible, indeed, to 
look through the books which he had then in use, 
and which are scribbled over with clumsy interlined 
translations, without being struck with the narrow 
extent of his classical attainments. The most ordi- 
nary Greek words have their English signification 
scrawled under them, showing too plainly that he 
was not sufficiently familiarised with their meaning 
to trust himself without this aid. Thus, in his 
Xenophon we find vzoi, young — ff-wjwao-iv, bodies — 
avBfwTsoii; iok; ayctOoi^, yood men, &c. &c. — and 
even in the volumes of Greek plays which he pre- 
sented to the library on his departure, we observe, 

• This anecdote, which I have given on the testimony of 
one of Lord Byron's schoolfellows, Doctor Butler himself 
assures me has but very little foundation in fact. — {Second 
Edition. ) 


among other instances, the common word ^fro-o? 
provided with its Enghsh representative in the 

But, notwithstanding his backwardness in the 
mere verbal scholarship, on which so large and 
precious a portion of life is wasted *, in all that 
general and miscellaneous knowledge which is alone 
useful in the world, he was making rapid and even 
wonderful progress. With a mind too inquisitive 
and excursive to be imprisoned within statutable 
limits, he flew to subjects that interested his already 
manly tastes, Avith a zest which it is in vain to ex- 
pect that the mere pedantries of school could in- 
spire ; and the irregular, but ardent, snatches of 
study which he caught in this way, gave to a mind 
like his an impulse forwards, which left more disci- 
plined and plodding competitors far behind. The 
list, indeed, which he has left on record of the 
works, in all departments of literature, which he 
thus hastily and greedily devoured before he was 
fifteen years of age, is such as almost to startle 
belief, — comprising, as it does, a range and variety 

• ♦' It is deplorable to consider the loss which children make 
of their time at most schools, employing, or rather casting 
away, six or seven years in the learning of words only, and that 
very imperfectly." — Cowley, Essays, 

" Would not a Chinese, who took notice of our way of 
breeding, be apt to imagine that all our young gentlemen were 
designed to be teachers and professors of the dead languages of 
foreign countries, and not to be men of business in their 
own ? " — Locke on Education. 

90 NOTICES OF THE 1805. 

of Study, which might make much older " helluones 
hbrorum " hide their heads. 

Not to argue, however, from the powers and 
movements of a mind like Byron's, which might 
well be allowed to take a privileged direction of its 
own, there is little doubt, that to any youth of 
talent and ambition, the plan of instruction pursued 
in the great schools and universities of England, 
wholly inadequate as it is to the intellectual wants 
of the age *, presents an alternative of evils not a 
little embarrassing. Difficult, nay, utterly impossi- 
ble, as he will find it, to combine a competent acqui- 
sition of useful knowledge with that round of anti- 
quated studies which a pursuit of scholastic honours 
requires-! he must either, by devoting the whole of 
his attention and ambition to the latter object, 
remain ignorant on most of those subjects upon which 
mind grapples with mind in life, or by adopting, as 
Lord Byron and other distinguished persons have 
done, the contrary system, consent to pass for a dunce 
or idler in the schools, in order to afford himself even 
a chance of attaining eminence in the world. 

From the memorandums scribbled by the young 
poet in his school-books, we might almost fancy that, 
even at so early an age, he had a sort of vague pre- 
sentiment that everything relating to him would one 
day be an object of curiosity and interest. The date 

* " A finished scholar may emerge from the head of West- 
minster or Eton in total ignorance of the business and convers- 
ation of English gentlemen in the latter end of the eighteenth 
ccntuiy." — Gibbon. 


of his entrance at Harrow *, the names of the boys 
who were, at that time, monitors, the Hst of his fel- 
low pupils under Doctor Drury-f-, — all are noted 
down with a fond minuteness, as if to form points of 
retrospect in his after-life ; and that he sometimes 
referred to them with this feeling will appear from 
one touching instance. On the first leaf of his 
" Scriptores Graci," we find, in his schoolboy hand, 
the following memorial : — " George Gordon Byron, 
Wednesday, June 26th, a. d. 1805, 3 quarters of 
an hour past 3 o'clock in the afternoon, 3d school, 
— Calvert, monitor ; Tom VVildman on my left hand 
and Long on my right. Harrow on the Hill." On 
the same leaf, written five years after, appears this 
comment : — 

" Eheu fugaces, Posthume ! Posthume ! 
Labuntur anni." 

" B. January 9th, 1 809. — Of the four persons 
whose names are here mentioned, one is dead, 
another in a distant climate, all separated, and not 
five years have elapsed since they sat together in 
school, and none are yet twenty-one years of 

• " BjTon, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, Alumnus 
Scholae Lyonensis primus in anno Domini 1801, Ellison 

"Monitors, 1801. — Ellison, Royston, Hunxman, Rash- 
leigli, Rokeby, Leigh." 

t " Drury's Pupils, 1804. — Byron, Drury, Sinclair, Hoare, 
Bolder, Annesley, Calvert, Strong, Acland, Gordon, Drum- 

92 NOTICES OF THE 1805. 

The vacation of 1804* he passed with his 
mother at Southwell, to which place she had 
removed from Nottingham, in the summer of this 
year, having taken the house on the Green called 
Burgage Manor. There is a Southwell play-bill ex- 
tant, dated August 8th, 1801, in which the play is 
announced as bespoke " by Mrs. and Lord Byron. " 
The gentleman, from whom the house where they 
resided was rented, possesses a library of some ex- 
tent, which the young poet, he says, ransacked with 
much eagerness on his first coming to Southwell ; 
and one of the books that most particularly engaged 
and interested him was, as may be easily believed, 
the life of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. 

In the month of October, 1805, he was removed 
to Trinity College, Cambridge, and his feelings on 
the change from his beloved Ida to this new scene 
of life are thus described by himself: — 

" WTien I first went up to college, it was a new 
and a heavy-hearted scene for me : firstly, I so much 
disliked leaving Harrow, that though it was time (I 
being seventeen), it broke my very rest for the last 
quarter with counting the days that remained. I 
always hatedYLarrow till the last year and a half, but 
then I liked it. Secondly, I wished to go to Oxford, 

* During one of the Harrow vacations, he passed some 
time in the house of the Abbe de Roufigny, in Took's-court, 
for the purpose of studying the French language ; but he was, 
according to the Abba's account, very little given to study, 
and spent most of his time in boxing, fencing, &c. to the no 
small disturbance of the reverend teacher and his establish- 


and not to Cambridge. Thirdly, I was so completely 
alone in this new world, that it half broke my spirits. 
My companions were not unsocial, but the contrary 
— lively, hospitable, of rank and fortune, and gay 
far beyond my gaiety. I mingled with, and dined, 
and supped, &c., with them ; but, I know not how, 
it was one of the deadliest and heaviest feelings of 
my life to feel that I was no longer a boy." 

But though, for a time, he may have felt this sort 
of estrangement at Cambridge, to remain long with- 
out attaching himself was not in his nature ; and the 
friendship which he now formed with a youth named 
Eddleston, who was two years younger than himself, 
even exceeded in warmth and romance all his school- 
boy attachments. This boy, whose musical talents 
first drew them together, was, at the commencement 
of their acquaintance, one of the choir at Cambridge, 
though he afterwards, it appears, entered into a mer- 
cantile line of life ; and this disparity in their stations 
was by no means without its charm for Byron, as 
gratifying at once both his pride and good-nature, 
and founding the tie between them on the mutually 
dependent relations of protection on the one side, 
and gratitude and devotion on the other ; — the only 
relations *, according to Lord Bacon, in which the 
little friendship that still remains in the world is to 
be found. It was upon a gift presented to him by 
Eddleston, that he wrote those verses entitled " The 
Cornelian," which were printed in his first, un- 

* Between superior and inferior, " whose fortunes (as he 
expresses it) comprehend the one and the other." 



published volume, and of which the following is a 
stanza : — 

" Some, who can sneer at friendship's ties, 
Have for my weakness oft reproved me ; 
Yet still the simple gift I prize. 

For I am sure the giver loved me." 

Another friendship, of a less unequal kind, which 
had been begun at Harrow, and which he continued 
to cultivate during his first year at Cambridge, is thus 
interestingly dwelt upon in one of his journals : — 

" How strange are my thoughts ! — The reading 
of the song of Milton, ' Sabrina fair,' has brought 
back upon me — I know not how or why — the hap- 
piest, perhaps, days of my life (always excepting, 
here and there, a Harrow holiday in the two latter 
summers of my stay there) when living at Cambridge 
with Edward Noel Long, afterwards of the Guards, 

— who, after having served honourably in the ex- 
pedition to Copenhagen (of which two or three 
thousand scoundrels yet survive in plight and pay), 
was drowned early in 1809, on his passage to Lisbon 
with his regiment in the St. George transport, which 
was run foul of in the night by another transport. 
We were rival swimmers — fond of ridinfj — readins 

— and of conviviality. We had been at Harrow 
together ; but — there, at least — his was a less 
boisterous spirit than mine. I was always cricket- 
ing — rebelling — fighting — rowing (from row, not 
^a^rowing, a different practice), and in all manner 
of mischiefs; while he was more sedate and po- 
lished. At Cambridge — both of Trinity — my 
spirit rather softened, or his roughened, for we be- 



came very great friends. The description of Sa^ 
brina's seat reminds me of our rival feats in diving. 
Though Cam's is not a very translucent wave, it was 
fourteen feet deep, where we used to dive for, and 
pick up — having thrown them in on purpose — 
plates, eggs, and even shillings. I remember, in 
particular, there was the stump of a tree (at least 
ten or twelve feet deep) in the bed of the river, 
in a spot where we bathed most commonly, round 
which I used to cling, and ' wonder how the devil 
I came there.' 

" Our evenings we passed in music (he was musi- 
cal, and played on more than one instrument, flute 
and violoncello), in which I was audience ; and I 
think that our chief beverage was soda-water. In 
the day we rode, bathed, and lounged, reading oc- 
casionally. I remember our buying, with vast ala- 
crity, Moore's new quarto (in 1806), and reading it 
together in the evenings. 

" We only passed the summer together ; — Long 

had gone into the Guards during the year I passed 

in Notts, away from college. His friendship, and a 

violent, Xhowgh pure, love and passion — which held 

me at the same period — were the then romance of 

tiie most romantic period of my life. 

« » * * * 

" I remember that, in the spring of 1809, H * * 

laughed at my being distressed at Long's death, and 

amused himself with making epigrams upon his name, 

which was susceptible of a pun — Long, short. Sec. 

But three years after, he had ample leisure to repent 

it, when our mutual friend and his, H * *'s, parti- 

96 NOTICES OF THE 1805. 

cular friend, Charles Matthews, was drowned also, 
and he himself was as much affected by a similar 
calamity. But / did not pay him back in puns 
and epigrams, for I valued Matthews too much my- 
self to do so ; and, even if I had not, I should have 
respected his griefs. 

" Long's father wrote to me to write his son's epi- 
taph. I promised — but I had not the heart to com- 
plete it. He was such a good amiable being as 
rarely remains long in this world ; with talent and 
accomplishments, too, to make him the more re- 
gretted. Yet, although a cheerful companion, he 
had strange melancholy thoughts sometimes. I re- 
member once that wo were going to his uncle's, I 
think — I went to accompany him to the door merely, 
in some Upper or Lower Grosvenor or Brook Street, 
I forget which, but it was in a street leading out of 
some square, — he told me that, the night before, he 
'had taken up a pistol — not knowing or examining 
whether it was loaded or no — and had snapped it 
at his head, leaving it to chance whether it might or 
might not be charged.' The letter, too, which he 
wrote me, on leaving college to join the Guards, 
was as melancholy in its tenour as it could well be 
on such an occasion. But he showed nothmg of 
this in his deportment, being mild and gentle ; — and 
yet with much turn for the ludicrous in his disposi- 
tion. We were both much attached to Harrow, and 
sometimes made excursions there together from 
London to revive our schoolboy recollections." 

These affecting remembrances are contained in a 
Journal which he kept during his residence at Ra- 


venna, in 1821, and they are rendered still more 
touching and remarkable by the circumstances under 
which they were noted down. Domesticated in a 
foreign land, and even connected with foreign con- 
spirators, whose arms, at the moment he was writing, 
were in his house, he could yet thus wholly disengage 
himself from the scene around him, and, borne away 
by the current of memory into other times, live over 
the lost friendships of his boyhood again. An Eng- 
lish gentleman (Mr. Wathen) who called upon him, 
at one of his residences in Italy, having happened to 
mention in conversation that he had been acquainted 
with Long, from that moment Lord Byron treated 
him with the most marked kindness, and talked with 
him of Long, and of his amiable qualities, till (as this 
gentleman says) the tears could not be concealed in 
his eyes. 

Li the summer of this year (1806) he, as usual, 
joined his mother at Southwell, — among the small, 
but select, society of which place he had, during his 
visits, formed some intimacies and friendships, the 
memory of which is still cherished there fondly and 
proudly. With the exception, indeed, of the brief 
and bewildering interval which he passed, as we 
have seen, in the company of Miss Chaworth, it was 
at Southwell alone that an opportunity was ever af- 
forded hmi of profiting by the bland influence of 
female society, or of seeing what woman is in the 
true sphere of her virtues, home. The amiable and 
intelligent family of the Pigots received him within 
their circle as one of themselves : and in the Rev. 

VOL. I. H 

98 NOTICES OF THE 1806. 

John Becher * the youthful poet found not only an 
acute and judicious critic, but a sincere friend. 
There were also one or two other families — as the 
Leacrofts, the Housons — among whom his talents 
and vivacity made him always welcome ; and the 
proud shyness with which, through the whole of his 
minority, he kept aloof from all intercourse with the 
neighbouring gentlemen seems to have been entirely 
familiarised away by the small, cheerful society of 
Southwell. One of the most intimate and valued 
of his friends, at this period, has given me the follow- 
ing account of her first acquaintance with him : — 
" The first time I was introduced to him was at a 
party at his mother's, when he was so shy that she 
was forced to send for him three times before she 
could persuade him to come into the drawing-room, 
to play with the young people at a round game. He 
was then a fat bashful boy, with his hair combed 
straight over his forehead, and extremely like a mi- 
niature picture that his mother had painted by M. 
de Chambruland. The next morning Mrs. Byron 
brought him to call at our house, when he still con- 
tinued shy and formal in his manner. The convers- 
ation turned upon Cheltenham, where we had been 
staying, the amusements there, the plays, &e.; and 
I mentioned that I had seen the character of Ga- 
briel Lackbrain very well performed. His mother 
getting up to go, he accompanied her, making a for- 

* A gentleman who has since honourably distinguished 
himself by his philanthropic plans and suggestions for that 
most important object, tlie amelioration of the condition of 
tue poor. 


mal bow, and I, in allusion to the play, said, " Good 
by, Gaby." His countenance lighted up, his hand- 
some mouth displayed a broad grin, all his shyness 
vanished, never to return, and, upon his mother's 
saying ' Come, Byron, are you ready ?' — no, she 
might go by herself, he would stay and talk a little 
longer ; and from that moment he used to come in 
and go out at all hours, as it pleased him, and in our 
house considered himself perfectly at home." 

To this lady was addressed the earliest letter from 
his pen that has fallen into my hands. He corre- 
sponded with many of his Harrow friends, — with 
Lord Clare, Lord Powerscourt, Mr. William Peel, 
Mr. William Bankes, and others. But it was then 
little foreseen what general interest would one day 
attach to these school-boy letters; and accordingly, as 
I have already had occasion to lament, there are but 
few of them now in existence. The letter, of which 
I have spoken, to his Southwell friend, though con- 
taining nothing remarkable, is perhaps for that very 
reason worth insertion, as serving to show, on com- 
paring it with most of its successors, how rapidly his 
mind acquired confidence in its powers. There is, 
indeed, one charm for the eye of curiosity in hi& 
juvenile manuscripts, which they necessarily want in 
their printed form ; and that is the strong evidence 
of an irregular education which they exhibit, — the 
unformed and childish handwriting, and, now and 
then, even defective spelling of him who, in a very 
few years after, was to start up one of the giants 
of English literature. 

H 2 

100 NOTICES OF THE 180fi. 

Letter 1. TO MISS 

Burgage Manor, August 29. 1804. 

" I received the arms, my clear Miss , 

and am very much obliged to you for the trouble 
you have taken. It is impossible I should have any 
fault to find with them. The sight of the drawings 
p-ives me creat iileasure for a double reason, — in the 
first place, they will ornament my books, m the next, 
they convince me that you have not entirely forgot 
me. I am, however, sorry you do not return sooner 
— you have already been gone an age. I perhaps 
may have taken my departure for London before you 
come back ; but, however, I will hope not. Do not 
overlook my watch-riband and purse, as I wish to 
carry them with me. Your note was given me by 

Harry, at the play, whither I attended INIiss L 

and Dr. S. ; and now I have set down to an- 
swer it before I go to bed. If I am at Southwell 
when you return, — and I sincerely hope you w^U 
soon, for I very much regret your absence, — I shall 
be happy to hear you sing my favourite, ' The Maid 
of Lodi.' My mother, together with myself, desires 
to be affectionately remembered to Mrs. Pigot, and, 

believe me, my dear Miss , I remain your 

affectionate friend, 

" BVRON." 

« P.S. If you think proper to send me any answer 
to this, I shall be extremely happy to receive it. 

« P. S. 2d. As you say you are a novice in the art 
of knitting, I hope it don't give you too much trou- 
ble. Go on slowly, but surely. Once more, adieu." 


We shall often have occasion to remark the fidelity 
to early habits and tastes by which Lord Byron, 
though in other respects so versatile, was distin- 
guished. In the juvenile letter, just cited, there are 
two characteristics of this kind which he preserved 
unaltered during the remainder of his life ; — namely, 
his punctuality in immediately answering letters, and 
his love of the simplest ballad music. Among the 
chief favourites to which this latter taste led him at 
this time were the songs of the Duenna, which he 
had the good taste to delight in ; and some of his 
Harrow contemporaries still remember the joyous- 
ness with which, when dining with his friends at the 
memorable mother Barnard's, he used to roar out, 
" This bottle's the sun of our table." 

His visit to Southwell this summer was inter- 
rupted, about the beginning of August, by one of 
those explosions of temper on the part of Mrs. Byron, 
to which, from his earliest childhood, he had been 
but too well accustomed, and in producing which his 
own rebel spirit was not always, it may be supposed, 
entirely blameless. In all his portraits of himself, 
so dark is the pencil Avhich he employs, that the 
following account of his own temper, from one of his 
journals, must be taken with a due portion of that 
allowance for exaggeration, which his style of self- 
portraiture, " overshadowing even the shade," re- 

'< In all other respects," (he says, after mentioning 
his infant passion for Mary Duft',) " I differed not at 
all from other children, being neither tall nor short, 
dull nor witty, of my age, but rather lively — except 

II 3 

102 NOTICES OF THE 1806. 

in my sullen moods, and then I was always a Devil. 
They once (in one of my silent rages) wrenched a 
knife from me, which I had snatched from table at 
Mrs. B.'s dinner (I always dined earlier), and applied 
to my breast; — but this was three or four years 
after, just before the late Lord B.'s decease. 

" My ostensible temper has certainly improved in 
later years ; but I shudder, and must, to my latest 
hour, regret the consequence of it and my passions 
combined. One event — but no matter — there are 
others not much better to think of also — and to 
them 1 give the preference 

" But I hate dwelling upon incidents. My temper 
is now under management — rarely loud, and when 
loud, never deadly. It is when silent, and I feel my 
forehead and my cheek paling, that I cannot con- 
trol it ; and then but unless there is a woman 

(and not any or every woman) in the way, I have 
sunk into tolerable apathy." 

Between a temper at all resembling this, and the 
loud hurricane bursts of Mrs. Byron, the collision, it 
may be supposed, was not a little formidable ; and 
the age at which the young poet was now arrived, 
when — as most parents feel — the impatience of 
youth begins to champ the bit, would but render the 
occasions for such shocks more frequent. It is told, 
as a curious proof of their opinion of each other's 
violence, that, after parting one evening in a tempest 
of this kind, they were known each to go privately 
that night to the apothecary's, enquiring anxiously 
V hether the other had been to purchase poison, and 



cautioning the vender of drugs not to attend to such 
an application, if made. 

It was but rarely, however, that the young lord 
allowed himself to be provoked into more than a 
passive share in these scenes. To the boisterousness 
of his mother he would oppose a civil and, no doubt, 
provoking silence, — bowing to her but the more 
profoundly the higher her voice rose in the scale. 
In general, however, when he perceived that a storm 
was at hand, in flight lay his only safe resource. To 
this summary expedient he was driven at the period 
of which we are speaking ; but not till after a scene 
had taken place between him and Mrs. Byron, in 
which the violence of her temper had proceeded to 
lengths, that, however outrageous they may be 
deemed, were not, it appears, unusual with her. 
The poet, Young, in describing a temper of this sort, 
says — 

" The cups and saucers, in a whirlwind sent, 
Just intimate tlie lady's discontent." 

But poker and tongs were, it seems, the missiles 
which Mrs. Byron preferred, and which she, more 
than once, sent resounding after her fugitive son. 
In the present instance, he was but just in time to 
avoid a blow aimed at him with the former of these 
weapons, and to make a hasty escape to the house 
of a friend in the neighbourhood ; where, concerting 
the best means of baffling pursuit, he decided upon 
an instant flight to London. The letters, which I 
am about to give, were written, immediately on his 
arrival in town, to some friends at Southwell, from 
>vhose kind interference in his behalf, it may fairly 

H 4 


be concluded that the blame of the quarrel, whatever 
it may have been, did not rest with him. The first 
is to Mr. Pigot, a young gentleman about the same 
age as himself, who had just returned, for the vaca- 
tion, from Edinburgh, where he was, at that time, 
pursuing his medical studies. 

Letter 2. TO MR. PIGOT. 

" 16. Piccadilly, August 9. 180G. 
" My dear Pigot, 

" Many thanks for your amusing narrative of the 
last proceedings of * *, who now begins to feel the 
effects of her folly. I have just received a peni- 
tential epistle, to which, apprehensive of pursuit, I 
have despatched a moderate answer, with a kind of 
promise to return in a fortnight; — this, however 
{enfre nous), I never mean to fulfil. Seriously, your 
mother has laid me under great obligations, and you, 
with the rest of your family, merit my warmest 
thanks for your kind connivance at my escape. 

" How did S. B. receive the intelligence ? How 
many ptins did he utter on so facetious an event ? 
In your next inform me on this point, and what 
excuse you made to A. You are probably, by this 
time, tired of deciphering this hieroglyphical letter ; 
— like Tony Lumpkin, you will pronounce mine to 

be a d d up and down hand. All Southwell, 

without doubt, is involved in amazement. Apropos, 
liow does my blue-eyed nun, the fair * * ? is she 
' robed in sable garb of ivoe ? ' 

" Here I remain at least a week or ten days ; pre- 
vious to my departure you shall receive my address, 


but what It will be I have not determined. My 
lodgings must be kept secret from Mrs. B. You 
may present my compliments to her, and say any 
attempt to pursue me will fail, as I have taken mea- 
sures to retreat immediately to Portsmouth, on the 
first intimation of her removal from Southwell. 
You may add, I have now proceeded to a friend's 
house in the country, there to remain a fortnight. 

" I have now blotted (I must not say written) a 
complete double letter, and in return shall expect 
a monstrous budget. Without doubt, the dames of 
Southwell reprobate the pernicious example I have 
shown, and tremble lest their babes should disobey 
their mandates, and quit, in dudgeon, their mammas 
on any grievance. Adieu. When you begin your 
next, drop the ' lordship,' and put ' Byron' in its 
place. Believe me yours, &c. 

" Byron." 

From the succeeding letters, it will be seen that 
Mrs. Byron was not behind hand, in energy and de- 
cision, with his young Lordship, but immediately on 
discovering his flight, set off after him. 

Letters. TO MISS . 

" London, August 10. 1806. 

" My dear Bridget, 

" As I have already troubled your brother with 
more than he will find pleasure in deciphering, you 
are the next to whom I shall assign the employment 
of perusing this second ejiistle. You will perceive 
from my first, that no idea of Mrs. B.'s arrival had 

106 NOTICES OF THE 1806. 

disturbed me at the time it was written ; not so the 
present, since the appearance of a note from the 
illustrious cause of my sudden decampment has driven 
the ' natural ruby from my cheeks,' and completely 
blanched my woe-begone countenance. This gun- 
powder intimation of her arrival breathes less of 
terror and dismay than you will probably imagine, 
and concludes with the comfortable assurance of all 
present motion being prevented by the fatigue of her 
journey, for which my blessings are due to the rough 
roads and restive quadrupeds of his Majesty's high- 
ways. As I have not the smallest inclination to be 
chased round the country, I shall e'en make a merit 
of necessity ; and since, like Macbeth, ' they've 
tied me to the stake, I cannot fly,' I shall imitate 
that valorous tyrant, and ' bear-like fight the 
course,' all escape being precluded. I can now 
engage with less disadvantage, having drawn the 
enemy from her intrenchments, though, like the 
prototype to whom I have compared myself, with an 
excellent chance of being knocked on the head. 

However, ' lay on, Macduff, and d d be he who 

first cries, Hold, enough.' 

" I shall remain in town for, at least, a week, and 
expect to hear from you before its expiration. I 
presume the printer has brought you the offspring 
of my poetic mania. Remember in the first line 
to ' loud the winds whistle,' instead of ' round,' 
which that blockhead Ridge has inserted by mistake, 
and makes nonsense of the whole stanza. Addio I — 
Now to encounter my Hydra. Yours ever." 



Letter 4. TO MR. PIGOT. 

" London, Sunday, midnight, August 10. 1806. 

" Dear PIgot, 

" This astonishing packet will, doubtless, amaze 
you ; but having an idle hour this evening, I wrote 
the enclosed stanzas, which I request you will de- 
liver to Ridge, to be printed separate from my other 
compositions, as you will perceive them to be im- 
proper for the perusal of ladies ; of course, none of 
the females of your family must see them. I offer 
1000 apologies for the trouble I have given you in 
this and other instances. Yours truly." 

Letter 5. TO MR. PIGOT, 

« Piccadilly, August 16. 1806. 
" I cannot exactly say with Caesar, ' Veni, vidi, 
vici : ' however, the most important part of his 
laconic account of success applies to my present 
situation ; for, though Mrs. Byron took the trovble 
of* coming^ and ' seeing^ yet your humble servant 
proved the victor. After an obstinate engagement 
of some hours, in which we suffered considerable 
damage, from the quickness of the enemy's fire, they 
at length retired in confusion, leaving behind the 
artillery, field equipage, and some prisoners : their 
defeat is decisive for the present campaign. To 
speak more intelligibly, Mrs.B. returns immedialcly, 
but I proceed, with all my laurels, to Worthing, on 
the Sussex coast ; to which place you will address 
(to be left at the post office) your next epistle. By 
the enclosure of a second gingle of rinpne, you will 
probably conceive my muse to be vastly prolific ; her 


inserted production was brought forth a few years 
ago, and found by accident on Thursday among 
some old papers. I have recopied it, and, adding the 
proper date, request it may be printed with the rest 
of the family. I thought your sentiments on the 
last bantling would coincide with mine, but it was 
impossible to give it any other garb, being founded 
on facts. My stay at Worthing will not exceed 
three weeks, and you may possibly behold me again 

at Southwell the middle of September. 

* * * * 

" Will you desire Ridge to suspend the printing 
of my poems till he hears further from me, as I have 
determined to give them a new form entirely. This 
prohibition does not extend to the two last pieces I 
have sent with my letters to you. You will excuse 
the dull vanity of this epistle, as my brain is a chaos 
of absurd images, and full of business, preparations, 
and projects. 

" I shall expect an answer with impatience ; — be- 
lieve me, there is nothing at this moment could give 
me greater delight than your letter." 


" London, August 18. 1806. 

" I am just on the point of setting off for Wor- 
thing, and write merely to request you will send 
that idle scoundrel Charles with my horses imme- 
diately ; tell him I am excessively provoked he has 
not made his appearance before, or written to inform 
me of the cause of his delay, particularly^ as I sup- 
plied him with money for his journej^ On no 


pretext is he to postpone his march one day longer; 
and if, in obedience to Mrs. B., he thinks proper to 
disregard my positive orders, I shall not, in future, 
consider him as my servant. He must bring the 
surgeon's bill with him, which I will discharge im- 
mediately on receiving it. Nor can I conceive the 
reason of his not acquainting Frank with the state of 
my unfortunate quadrupeds. Dear Pigot, forgive 
this -petulant effusion, and attribute it to the idle 
conduct of that precious rascal, who, instead of 
obeying my injunctions, is sauntering through the 
streets of that political Pandemonium, Nottingham. 
Present my remembrances to your family and the 
Leacrofts, and believe me, <S:c. 

" P. S. I delegate to you the unpleasant task of 
despatching him on his journey — Mrs. B.'s orders to 
the contrary are not to be attended to : he is to pro- 
ceed first to London, and then to Worthing, without 
delay. Every thing I have left must be sent to 
London. My Poetics you will pack up for the same 
place, and not even reserve a copy for yourself and 
sister, as I am about to give them an entire neiii 
form : when they are complete, you shall have the 
first fruits. Mrs. B. on no account is to see or touch 
them. Adieu." 

Letter 7. TO MR. PIGOT. 

" Little Hampton, August 26. 1806. 

•■' I this morning received your epistle, which I 
tvas obliged to send for to Worthing, whence I have 
removed to this place, on the same coast, about eight 
miles distant from the former. You will probablj' 


not be displeased with this letter, when it informs 
you that I am 30,000/. richer than I was at our 
j)arting, having just received intelligence from my 
lawyer that a cause has been gained at Lancaster 
assizes *, which will be worth that sum ■by the time 
I come of age. Mrs. B. is, doubtless, acquainted of 
this acquisition, though not apprised of its exact 
value, of which she had better be ignorant. You 
may give my compliments to her, and say that her 
detaining my servant's things shall only lengthen 
my absence ; for unless they are immediately de- 
spatched to 16. Piccadilly, together with those which 
have been so long delayed, belonging to myself, she 
shall never again behold my radiant countenance 
illuminating her gloomy mansion. If they are sent, 
I may probably apjjear in less than two years from 
the date of my present epistle. 

" Metrical compliment is an ample reward for my 
strains ; you are one of the few votaries of Apollo 
who unite the sciences over which that deity pre- 
sides. I wish you to send my poems to my lodgings 
in London immediately, as I have several alterations 
and some additions to make ; every copy must be 
sent, as I am about to amend them, and you shall 
soon behold them in all their glory. Entre nous, — 
you may expect to see me soon. Adieu. Yours 

From these letters it will be perceived that Lord 
Byron was already engaged in preparing a collection 

* In a suit undertaken for the recovery of the Rochdale 

1 80 J. 


of his poems for the press. The idea of printing 
them first occurred to him in the parlour of that cot- 
tage which, during his visits to Southwell, had be- 
come his adopted home. Miss Pigot, who was not 
before aware of his turn for versifying, had been 
reading aloud the poems of Burns, when young 
Byron said that " he, too, was a poet sometimes, and 
would write down for her some verses of his own 
which he remembered." He then, with a pencil, 
wrote those lines, beginning " In thee I fondly hoped 
to clasp *," which were printed in his first unpublish- 
ed volume, but are not contained in the editions that 
followed. He also repeated to her the verses I have 
already referred to, " When in the hall my father's 
voice," so remarkable for the anticipations of his 
future fame that glimmer through them. 

From this moment the desire of appearing in print 
took entire possession of him ; — tliough, for the pre- 
sent, his ambition did not extend its views beyond a 
small volume for private circulation. The person to 
whom fell the honour of receiving his first manu- 
scripts was Ridge, the bookseller, at Newark ; and 
while the work was printing, the young author con- 
tinued to pour fresh materials into his hands, with 
the same eagerness and rapidity that marked the 
progress of all his maturer works. 

His return to Southwell, which he announced in 
the last letter we have given was but for a very short 
time. In a week or two after he again left that place, 

* This precious pencilling is still, of course, jireserved. 


and, accompanied by his young friend Mr. Pigot, set 
out for Harrowgate. The following extracts are from 
a letter written by the latter gentleman, at the time 
to his sister. 

" Harrowgate is still extremely full ; Wednesday 
(to-day) is our ball-night, and I meditate going into 
the room for an hour, although I am by no means 
fond of strange faces. Lord B., you know, is even 
more shy than myself; but for an hour this evening 
I will shake it off. * * * How do our theatricals 
proceed ? Lord Byron can say all his part, and I 
7nostot'm'me. He certainly acts it inimitably. Lord 
B. is now poetising, and, since he has been here, has 
written some very pretty verses.* He is very good 
in trying to amuse me as much as possible, but it is 
not in my nature to be happy without either female 
society or study. * * * There are many plea- 
sant rides about here, which I have taken in company 
with Bo'swain, who, with Brighton f , is universally 
admired. You must read this to Mrs. B., as it is 
a little Tony Lumpkinish. Lord B. desires some 
space left : therefore, with respect to all the come- 
dians elect, believe me to be," &c. &c. 

To this letter the following note from Lord Byron 
was appended : — 

* The verses " To a beautiful Quaker," in his first volume, 
were written at Harrowgate. 

f A horse of Lord Byron's : — the other horse that he had 
with him at this time was called Sultan. 

1806. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 113 

" My dear Bridget, 

" I have only just dismounted from my Pegasus, 
which has prevented me from descending to plain 
prose in an epistle of greater length to your fair 
self. You regretted, in a former letter, that my 
poems were not more extensive ; I now for your 
satisfaction announce that I have nearly doubled 
them, partly by the discovery of some I conceived 
to be lost, and partly by some new productions. We 
shall meet on Wednesday next ; till then believe me 
yours affectionately, 

" Byron." 

" P. S. — Your brother John is seized with a 
poetic mania, and is now rhyming away at the rate 
of three lines /(er //o?<r — so much for inspiration! 
Adieu! •• 

By the gentleman, who was thus early the com- 
panion and intimate of Lord Byron, and who is now 
pursuing his profession with the success which his 
eminent talents deserve, I have been favoured with 
some further recollections of their visit together to 
Harrowgate, which I shall take the liberty of giving 
in his own words : — 

" You ask me to recall some anecdotes of the time 
we spent together at Harrowgate in the summer 
of 1806, on our return from college, he from 
Cambridge, and I from Edinburgh ; but so many 
years have elapsed since then, that I really feel my- 
self as if recalling a distant dream. We, I remember, 
went in Lord Byron's own carriage, with post- 
horses ; and he sent his groom with two saddle* 

VOL. I. I 

114? NOTICES OF THE 1805' 

horses, and a beautifully formed, very ferocious, bull- 
mastiff, called Nelson, to meet us there. Boatswain* 
went by the side of his valet Frank on the box, with 


" The bull-dog, Nelson, always wore a muzzle, 
and was occasionally sent for into our private room, 
when the muzzle was taken off, much to my annoy- 
ance, and he and his master amused themselves with 
throwing the room into disorder. There was always 
a jealous feud between this Nelson and Boatswain ; 
and whenever the latter came into the room while 
the former was there, they instantly seized each 
other : and then, Byron, myself, Frank, and all the 
waiters that could be found, were vigorously engaged 
in parting them, — which was in general only ef- 
fected by thrusting poker and tongs into the mouths 
of each. But, one day, Nelson unfortunately escaped 
out of the room without his muzzle, and going into 
the stable-yard fastened upon the throat of a horse, 
from which he could not be disengaged. The sta- 
ble-boys ran in alarm to find Frank, who taking one 
of his Lord's Wogdon's pistols, always kept loaned 
in his room, shot poor Nelson through the head, 
to the great regret of Byron. 

" We were at the Crown Inn, at Low Harrowgate. 
We always dined in the public room, but retired 
very soon after dinner to our private one ; for Byron 
was no more a friend to drinking than myself. We 
lived retired, and made few acquaintance; for he 

* The favourite dog, on which Lord Byron afterwards wrote 
the well-known epitaph. 



was naturally shy, very shy, which people who did 
not know him mistook for pride. While at Harrow- 
gate he accidentally met with Professor Hailstone 
from Cambridge, and appeared much delighted to 
see him. The professor was at Upper Harrowgate: 
we called upon him one evening to take him to the 
theatre, I think, — and Lord Byron sent his car- 
riage for him, another time, to a ball at the Granb}^ 
This desire to show attention to one of the professors 
of his college is a proof that, though he might 
choose to satirise the mode of education in the uni- 
versity, and to abuse the antiquated regulations and 
restrictions to which under-graduates are subjected, 
he had yet a due discrimination in his respect for 
the individuals who belonged to it. I have always, 
indeed, heard him speak in high terms of praise ot 
Hailstone, as well as of his master, Bishop Mansel, of 
Trinity College, and of others whose names I have 
now forgotten. 

" Few people understood Byron; but I know that 
he had naturally a kind and feeling heart, and tliat 
there was not a single spark of malice in his compo- 
sition." * 

The private theatricals alluded to in the letters 
from Harrowgate were, both in prospect and per- 
formance, a source of infinite delight to him, and 
took place soon after his return to Southwell. 
How anxiously he was expected back by all parties, 
may be judged from the following fragment of a 

» Lord Byron and Dr. Pigot continued to be correspondents 
for some time, but, after their parting this autumn, titcy never 
met again. 

1 2 

116 NOTICES OF THE 180t>. 

letter which was received by his companion during 
their absence from home : — 

" Tell Lord Byron that, if any accident should re- 
tard his return, his mother desires he will write to 
her, as she shall be miserable if he does not arrive 
the day he fixes. Mr. W. B. has written a card to 
Mrs. H. to offer for the character of ' Henry Wood- 
ville,' — Mr. and Mrs. * * * not approving of their, 
son's taking a part in the play : but I believe he will 
persist in it. Mr. G. W. says, that sooner than the 
party should be disappointed, he will take any part, 
— sing — dance — in short, do any thing to oblige. 
Till Lord Byron returns, nothing can be done ; and 
positively he must not be later than Tuesday or 

We have already seen that, at Harrow, his talent 
for declamation was the only one by which Lord 
Byron was particularly distinguished; and in one 
of his note-books he adverts, with evident satis- 
faction, both to his school displays and to the share 
which he took in these representations at South- 
well : — 

'< When I was a youth, I was reckoned a good ac- 
tor. Besides Harrow speeches (in which I shone), 
I enacted Penruddock in the Wheel of Fortune, 
and Tristram Fickle in Allingham's farce of the 
Weathercock, for three nights (the duration of our 
compact), in some private theatricals at Southwell, 
in 1806, with great applause. The occasional pro- 
logue for our volunteer play was also of my composi- 
tion. The other performers were young ladies and 
gentlemen of the neighbourhood, and the wholewcnt 

1806. LIFE OF LOUD BYROX. 117 

off with great effect upon oui' good-natured au- 

It may, perhaps, not be altogether trifling to ob- 
sei've, that, in thus personating with sucli success two 
heroes so different, the young poet displayed both 
tluit love and power of versatility by which he was 
afterwards impelled, on a grander scale, to present 
himself under such opposite aspects to the world; — 
the gloom of Penruddock, and the whim of Tristram, 
being types, as it were, of the two extremes, be 
tween which his own character, in after-life, so sin- 
gularly vibrated. 

These representations, which form a memorable 
era at Southwell, took place about the latter end of 
September, in the house of Mr. Leacroft, whose 
drawing-room was converted into a neat theatre on 
the occasion, and w^hose family contributed some of 
the fair ornaments of its boards. The prologue 
which Lord Byron furnished, and which may be 
seen in his "Hours of Idleness," w^as written by him 
between stages, on his way from Harrowgate. On 
getting into the carriage at Chesterfield, he said to 
his companion, "Now, Pigot, I '11 spin a prologue for 
our play ; " and before they reached Mansfield, he 
had completed his task, — interrupting, only once, 
his rhyming reverie, to ask the proper pronunciation 
of the French word debut, " and, on being told it, 
exclaiming, in the true spirit of Byshe, " Ay, that 
will do for rhyme to new. " 

The epilogue on the occasion was from the pen 
of Mr. Becher ; and for the purpose of affording to 
Lord Byron, who was to speak it, an opportunity of 

I 3 

lis NOTICES OF THE ' 1806. 

displaying his powers of mimicry, consisted of good- 
liumoured portraits of all the persons concerned in 
the representation. Some intimation of this design 
having got among the actors, an alarm was felt in- 
stantly at the ridicule thus in store for them ; and 
to quiet their apprehensions, the author was obliged 
to assure them that if, after having heard his epi- 
logue at rehearsal, they did not, of themselves, pro- 
nounce it harmless, and even request that it should 
be preserved, he would most willingly withdraw it. 
In the mean time, it was concerted between this gen- 
tleman and Lord Byron that the latter should, on 
the morning of rehearsal, deliver the verses in a tone 
as innocent and as free from all point as possible, — 
veservmg his mimicry, in which the whole sting of 
the pleasantry lay, for tlie evening of representation. 
The desired eifect was produced ; — all the person- 
ages of the green-room were satisfied, and even 
wondered how a suspicion of waggeiy could have 
attached itself to so Avell-bred a production. Their 
wonder, however, was of a different nature a night 
or two after, when, on hearing the audience con- 
vulsed with laughter at this same composition, they 
discovered, at last, the trick which the unsuspected 
mimic had played on them, and had no other 
resource than that of joining in the laugh which his 
playful imitation of the whole dramatis jjcrsonae 

The small volume of poems, which he had now 
for some time been preparing, was, in the month of 
November, ready for delivery to the select few 
among whom it was intended to circulate ; and to 



Mr. Becher the first copy of the work was present- 
ed.* The influence which this gentleman had, b}' 
his love of poetry, his sociability and good sense, ac- 
quired at this period over the mind of Lord Byron, 
was frequently employed by him in guiding the 
taste of his young friend, no less in matters of con- 
duct than of literature ; and the ductility with 
which this influence was yielded to, in an instance 
I shall have to mention, will show how far from 
untractable was the natural disposition of Byron, 
liad he more frequently been lucky enough to foil 
into hands that " knew the stops " of the instru- 
ment, and could draw out its sweetness as well as its 

In the wild range which his taste was now allowed 
to take through the light and miscellaneous literature 
of the da3s it was but natural that he should settle 
with most pleasure on those works from which the 
feelings of his age and temperam.ent could extract 
their most congenial food; and, accordingly, Lord 
Strangford's Camoens and Little's Poems are said to 
have been, at this period, his favourite study. To 
the indulgence of such a taste his reverend friend 
very laudably opposed himself, — representing with 
truth, (as far, at least, as the latter author is concern- 
ed,) how much more worthy models, both in style 
and thought, he might find among the established 
names of English literature. Listead of wasting his 
time on the ephemeral productions of his contempo- 

* Of this edition, wliich was in quarto, and consisted but 
of a few sheets, there are but two, or, at the utmost, three 
copies in existence. 

I 4 



raries, he should devote himself, his adviser said, to 
tlie pages of Milton and of Shakspeare, and, above 
all, seek to elevate his fancy and taste by the con- 
templation of the sublimer beauties of the Bible. In 
the latter study, this gentleman acknowledges that 
his advice had been, to a great extent, anticipated, 
and that with the poetical parts of the Scripture he 
found Lord Byron deeply conversant : — a circum- 
stance which corroborates the account given by his 
early master. Dr. Glennie, of his great proficiency 
in scrij)tural knowledge while yet but a child under 
his care. 

To Mr. Becher, as I have said, the first copy of 
his little work was presented ; and this gentleman, 
in looking over its pages, among many things to com- 
mend and admire, as well as some almost too boyish 
to criticise, found one poem in which, as it appeared 
to him, the imagination of the young bard had in- 
dulged itself in a luxuriousness of colouring beyond 
what even youth could excuse. Immediately, as the 
most gentle mode of conveying his opinion, he sat 
down and addressed to Lord Byron some expostula- 
tory verses on the subject, to which an answer, also 
in verse, was returned by the noble poet as promptly, 
with, at the same time, a note in plain prose, to say 
tliat he felt fully the justice of his reverend friend's 
censure, and that, rather than allow the poem in ques- 
tion to be circulated, he would instantly recall all the 
copies that had been sent out, and cancel the whole 
impression. On the very same evening this prompt 
sacrifice was carried into effect ; — Mr. Becher saw 
every copy of the edition burned, with the exception 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYUON. 121 

of that which he retained in his own possession, ami 
another which had been despatched to Edinburgh, 
and could not be recalled. 

This trait of the young poet speaks sufficiently for 
itself; — the sensibility, the temper, the ingenuous 
pliableness which it exhibits, show a disposition ca- 
pable, by nature, of every thing we most respect and 

Of a no less amiable character were the feelings 
that, about this time, dictated the following letter ; — 
a letter which it is impossible to peruse without ac- 
knowledging the noble candour and conscientiousness 
of the writer : — 

LetteuS. to the earl of CLARE. 

" Southwell, Notts, February 6. 1807. 

*' INIy dearest Clare, 

" Were 1 to make all the apologies necessary to 
atone for my late negligence, you would justly say 
you had received a petition instead of a letter, as it 
would be filled with prayers for forgiveness ; but in- 
stead of this, I will acknowledge my sins at once, 
and I trust to your friendship and generosity rather 
than to my own excuses. Though my health is not 
perfectly re-established, I am out of all danger, and 
have recovered every thing but my spirits, which are 
subject to depression. You will be astonished to 
hear I have lately written to Delawarre, for the pur- 
pose of explaining (as far as possible without in- 
volving some old friends of mine in the business) the 
cause of my behaviour to him during my last resi- 
dence at Harrow (nearly two years ago), which you 


^vill recollect was rather ' en cavalier^ Since that 
period, I have discovered he was treated with in- 
justice both by those who misrepresented his con- 
duct, and by me in consequence of their suggestions. 
[ have therefore made all the reparation in my power, 
by apologising for my mistake, though with very 
faint hopes of success ; indeed I never expected any 
answer, but desired one for form's sake ; that has 
iiot yet arrived, and most probably never will. 
However, I have eased my own conscience by the 
atonement, which is humiliating enough to one of 
my disposition ; yet I could not have slept satisfied 
with the reflection of having, et'e« unintentioncdhj, in- 
jured any individual. I have done all that could be 
done to repair the injury, and there the affair must 
end. Whether we renew our intimacy or not is of 
very trivial consequence. 

" My time has lately been much occupied with 
very different pursuits. I have been transporting a 
servant*, who cheated me, — rather a disagreeable 
event ; — performing in private theatricals ; — pub- 
lishing a volume of poems (at the request of my 
friends, for their perusal); — making love, — and 
taking physic. The two last amusements have not 
had the best effect in the world ; for my attentions 
have been divided amongst so msLnyfair datnsels, and 
the drugs I swallow are of such variety in their com- 
position, that between Venus and iEsculapius I 
am harassed to death. However, I have still leisure 
to devote some hours to the recollections of past, 

• His valet, Frank. 


regretted friendships, and in the interval to take the 
advantage of the moment, to assure you how much 
I am, and ever will be, my dearest Clare, 

" Your truly attached and sincere 

" Byron." 

Considering himself bound to replace the copies 
of his work which he had withdrawn, as well as to 
rescue the general character of the volume from the 
stigma this one offender might bring upon it, he set 
instantly about preparing a second edition for the 
press, and, during the ensuing six weeks, continued 
busily occupied with his task. In the beginning of 
January we find him forwarding a copy to his friend, 
Dr. Pigot, in Edinburgh : — 

Letter 9. TO MR. PIGOT. 

" Soutliwell, Jan. 13. ISO". 

" I ought to begin with sundry apologies, for my 
own negligence, but the variety of my avocations 
in prose and verse must plead my excuse. With this 
epistle you will receive a volume of all my Juvenilia^ 
published since your departure : it is of considerably 
greater size than the copy in your possession, which 
I beg you will destroy, as the present is much more 
com2olete. That tuduchy poem to my poor Mary * 

• Of this " Mary," who is not to be confounded either witli 
the heiress of Annesley, or " Mary" of Aberdeen, all I can 
record is, that she was of an humble, if not equivocal, station 
in life, — tliat she had long, light golden hair, of which he 
used to show a lock, as well as her picture, amotig liis friends ; 
and that the verses in his " Hours of Idleness," entitletl 
" To Mary, on receiving her Picture," were addressed to iier. 

121) NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

has been the cause of some animadversion from 
ladies in years. I have not printed it in this collec- 
tion, in consequence of my being pronounced a most 
profligate sinner, in short, a ^ young Moore,' by 

•, your * * * friend. I believe, in 

general, they have been favourably received, and 
surely the age of their author will preclude severe 
criticism. The adventures of my life from sixteen to 
nineteen, and the dissipation into which I have been 
thrown in London, have given a voluptuous tint to 
my ideas ; but the occasions which called forth my 
muse could hardly admit any other colouring. This 
volume is vastly correct and miraculously chaste. 
Apropos, talking of love, ******* 
" If you can find leisure to answer this farrago of 
unconnected nonsense, you need not doubt what 
gratification will accrue from your reply to yours 
ever," &c. 

To his young friend, Mr. William Bankes, who 
Iiad met casually with a copy of the work, and wrote 
him a letter conveying his opinion of it, he returned 
the following answer: — 


" Southwell, March 6. 1807. 
" Dear Bankes, 

" Your critique is valuable for many reasons : in 

the first place, it is the only one in which flattery 

has borne so slight a part ; in the next, I am cloyed 

with insipid compliments. I have a better opinion 

of your judgment and ability than your feelings. 



Accept my most sincere thanks for your kind deci- 
sion, not less welcome, because totally unexpected. 
With regard to a more exact estimate, I need not 
remind you how few of the best jjoems, in our lan- 
guage, will stand the test of minute or verbal cri- 
ticism : it can, therefore, hardly be expected the 
effusions of a boy (and most of these pieces have 
been produced at an early period) can derive much 
merit either from the subject or composition. Many 
of them were written under great depression of 
spirits, and during severe indisposition : — hence the 
gloomy turn of the ideas. We coincide in opinion 
that the ^poesies irotiques' are the most exception- 
able ; they were, however, grateful to the deities, on 
whose altars they were offered — more I seek not. 

" The portrait of Pomposus was drawn at Harrow, 
after a long sittinrj ; this accounts for the resem- 
blance, or rather the caricatura. He is your friend, 
he never was ?ni?ie — for both our sakes I shall be 
silent on this head. The collegiate rhymes are not 
personal — one of the notes may appear so, but could 
not be omitted. I have little doubt they will be 
deservedly abused — a just punishment for my un- 
filial treatment of so excellent an Alma Mater. I 
sent you no copy, lest we should be placed in the 
situation of Gil Bias and the Archbis/iop of Grenada ; 
though running some hazard from the experiment, I 
wished your verdict to be unbiassed. Had my ' Li- 
hellus' been presented previous to your letter, it 
would have appeared a species of bribe to purchase 
compliment. I feel no hesitation in saying, I was 
more anxious to hear your critique, however severe, 

123 NOTICES OF THE ■ 1807. 

than the praises of the million. On the same day I 
was honoured with the encomiums of Mackenzie, tlie 
celebrated author of the ' Man of Feehng.' Whe- 
ther his approbation or yours elated me most, 1 
cannot decide. 

" You will receive my Juvenilia., — at least all yet 
published. I have a large volume in manuscript, 
which may in part appear hereafter ; at present I 
have neither time nor inclination to prepare it for 
the press. In the spring I shall return to Trinity, 
to dismantle my rooms, and bid you a final adieu. 
The Cam will not be much increased by my tears 
on the occasion. Your further remarks, however 
caustic or bitter, to a palate vitiated with the sweets 
of adulation, will be of service. Johnson has shown 
us that no poetry is perfect ; but to correct mine 
would be an Herculean labour. In fact I never 
looked beyond the moment of composition, and pub- 
lished merely at the request of my friends. Not- 
withstanding so much has been said concerning the 
' Genus irritabile vatum,' we shall never quarrel 
on the subject — poetic fame is by no means the 
' acme' of my wishes. Adieu. 

" Yours ever, 

" Byron." 

This letter was followed by another, on the same 
subject, to Mr. Bankes, of which, unluckily, only the 
annexed fragment remains : — 

* # # * # # 

" For my own part, I have suffered severely in 
the decease of my two greatest friends, the only 


beings I ever loved (females excepted) ; I am there- 
fore a solitary animal, miserable enough, and so 
perfectly a citizen of the world, that whether I pass 
my days in Great Britain or Kamschatka, is to me a 
matter of perfect indifference. I cannot evince greater 
respect for your alteration than by immediately 
adopting it — this shall be done in the next edition. 
I am sorry your remarks are not more frequent, as I 
am certain they would be equally beneficial. Since 
my last, I have received two critical opinions from 
Edinburgh, both too flattering for me to detail. One 
is from Lord Woodhouselee, at the head of the Scotch 
literati, and a most voluminous writer (his last work 
is a life of Lord Kaimes); the other from Mackenzie, 
who sent his decision a second time, more at length. 
I am not personally acquainted with either of these 
gentlemen, nor ever requested their sentiments on 
the subject : their praise is voluntary, and trans- 
mitted through the medium of a friend, at whose 
house they read the productions. 

" Contrary to my former intention, I am now 
preparing a volume for the public at large : my 
amatory pieces will be exchanged, and others sub- 
stituted in their place. The whole will be consider- 
ably enlarged, and appear the latter end of May. 
This is a hazardous experiment ; but want of better 
employment, the encouragement I have met with, 
and my own vanity, induce me to stand the test, 
though not without sundry palpitations. The book 
will circulate fast enough in this country, from mere 

curiosity, what I prin "* 



Ilcrc the impciftct sliect enils. 

128 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

The following modest letter accompanied a copy 
which he presented to Mr. Falkner, his mother's 
landlord : — 

Letter]!. TO MR. FALKNER, 

" Sir, 

" The volume of little pieces which accompanies 
this, would have been presented before, had I not 
been apprehensive that Miss Falkner's indisposition 
might render such trifles unwelcome. There are 
some errors of the printer which I have not had 
time to correct in the collection : you have it thus, 
with ' all its imperfections on its head,' a heavy 
weight, when joined with the faults of its author. 
Such ' Juvenilia,' as they can claim no great degree 
of approbation, I may venture to hope, will also 
escape the severity of uncalled for, though perhaps 
not undeserved, criticism. 

" They were written on many and various occa- 
sions, and are now published merely for the perusal 
of a friendly circle. Believe me, sir, if they afford 
the slightest amusement to yourself and the rest of 
my social readers, I shall have gathered all the ba?/s 
I ever wish to adorn the head of yours, very truly, 

" Byron. 

" P. S. — I hope Miss F. is in a state of recovery.'' 

Notwithstanding this unambitious declaration of 
the young author, he had that within which would 
not suffer him to rest so easily ; and the fame he had 
now reaped within a limited circle made him but 
more eager to try his chance on a wider field. The 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 129 

hundred copies of which this edition consisted were 
hardly out of his hands, when with fresh activity he 
went to press again, — and his first pubhshed volume, 
" The Hours of Idleness," made its appearance. Some 
new pieces which he had written in the interim were 
added, and no less than twenty of those contained 
in the former volume omitted; — for what reason 
does not very clearly appear, as they are, most of 
them, equal, if not superior, to those retained. 

In one of the pieces, reprinted in the " Hours of 
Idleness," there are some alterations and additions, 
which, as far as they ma}* be supposed to spring from 
the known feelings of the poet respecting birth, are 
curious. This poem, which is entitled " Epitaph on a 
Friend," appears, from the lines I am about to give, 
to have been, in its original state, intended to com- 
memorate the death of the same lowly born youth, to 
whom some affectionate verses, cited in a preceding 
page, were addressed : — 

" Thougli low thy lot, since in a cottage born, 
No titles did thy humble name adorn ; 
To me, far dearer was thy artless love 
Than all the joys wealth, fame, and friends could prove. " 

But, in the altered form of the epitaph, not only 
this passage, but every other containing an allusion 
to the low rank of his young companion, is omitted ; 
while, in the added parts, the introduction of such 
language as 

" What, though thy sire lament his failing line," 

seems calculated to give an idea of the youth's 
station in life, wholly different from that which the 
whole tenour of the original epitaph warrants. The 
VOL. I. K 



otlier poem, too, which I have mentioned, addressed 
evidently to the same boy, and speaking in similar 
terms, of the " lowness"ofhis " lot," is, in the "Hours 
of Idleness," altogether omitted. That he grew more 
conscious of his high station, as he approached to 
manhood, is not improbable ; and this wish to sink 
his early friendship with the young cottager may 
have been a result of that feeling. 

As his visits to Southwell were, after this period, 
but few and transient, I shall take the present oppor- 
tunity of mentioning such miscellaneous particulars 
respecting his habits and mode of life, while there, 
as I have been able to collect. 

Though so remarkably shy, v/nen he first went to 
Southwell, this reserve, as he grew more acquainted 
with the young people of the place, wore off; till, 
at length, he became a frequenter of their assemblies 
and dinner-parties, and even felt mortified if he heard 
of a rout to which he was not invited. His horror, 
however, at new faces still continued ; and if, while 
at Mrs. Pigot's, he saw strangers approaching the 
house, he would instantly jump out of the window to 
avoid them. This natural shyness concurred with no 
small degree of pride to keep him aloof from the 
acquaintance of the gentlemen in the neighbour- 
hood, whose visits, in more than one instance, he 
left unreturned ; — some under the plea that their 
ladies had not visited his mother ; others, because 
they had neglected to pay him this compliment 
sooner. The true reason, however, of the haughty 
distance, at which, both now and afterwards, he stood 
apart from his more opulent neighbours, is to be 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 131 

found in his mortifying consciousness of the inade- 
quacy of his own means to his rank, and tlie proud 
dread of being made to feel this inferiority by per- 
sons to whom, in every other respect, he knew him- 
self superior. His friend, Mr. Becher, frequently 
expostuh^ted with him on this unsociableness ; and 
to his remonstrances, on one occasion. Lord Byron 
returned a poetical answer, so remarkably prefigur- 
ing the splendid burst, with which his own volcanic 
genius opened upon the world, that as the volume 
containing the verses is in very few hands, I cannot 
resist the temptation of giving a few extracts here: — 

" Dear Becher, you tell me to mix with mankind, — 
I cannot deny sucli a precept is wise ; 
But retirement accords with the tone of my mind, 
And I will not descend to a world I despise. 

" Did tlie Senate or Camp my exertions require, 

Ambition might prompt me at once to go forth ; 
And, when infancy's years of probation expire, 
Perchance, I may strive to distinguish my birth. 

" Tliejire, in the cavern of JElna concealed. 
Still mantles unseen, in its secret recess ; — 
At length, in a volume terrific revealed, 

j\'b torrent can quench it, no bounds can repress. 

" Oh thus, the desire in my bosom for fame 

Bids me live but to hope for Fosterilfs praise ; 
Could I soar, with the Fhcenix, on pinions of flame, 
With him I ivovld icish to expire in the blaze. 

" For the life of a Fox, of a Chatham the death, 

What censure, what danger, what woe would I brave? 
Their lives did not end when they yielded their breath, — 
Their glory illumines the gloom of the grave! " 

K 2 

132 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

In his hours of rising and retiring to rest he was, 
like his mother, ahvays very late ; and this habit he 
never altered during the remainder of" his life. The 
night, too, was at this period, as it continued after- 
wards, his favourite time for composition ; and his 
first visit in the morning was generally paid to the 
fair friend who acted as his amanuensis, and to 
whom he then gave whatever new products of his 
brain the preceding night might have inspired. His 
next visit was usually to his friend Mr. Becher's, and 
from thence to one or two other houses on the 
Green, after which the rest of the day was devoted 
to his favourite exercises. The evenings he usually 
passed with the same family, among whom he began 
his morning, either in conversation, or in hearing 
Miss Pigot play upon the piano-forte, and singing 
over with her a certain set of songs which he ad- 
mired*, — among which the " Maid of Lodi," (with 
the words, " My heart with love is beating,") and 
" When Time who steals our years away," were, 
it seems, his particular favourites. He appears, in- 
deed, to have, even thus early, shown a decided 
taste for that sort of regular routine of life, — bring- 
ing round the same occupations at the stated 
periods, — which formed so much tlie system of 

* Tliough always fond of music, he had very little skill in 
the performance of it. " It is very odd," he said, one day, to 
this lady, — " 1 sing much better to your playing than to any 
one else's." — " That is," she answered, " because I play to 
your singing." — In wliich few words, by the way, the whole 
secret of a skilful accomioanier lies. 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 133 

his existence during the greater part of his resi- 
dence abroad. 

Those exercises, to which he fleAV for distraction 
in less happy days, formed his enjoyment now; and 
between swimming, sparring, firing at a mark, and 
riding*, the greater part of his time was passed. In 
the Last of these accomplishments he was by no 
means very expert. As an instance of his little 
knowledge of horses, it is told, that, seeing a pair 
one day pass his window, he exclaimed, " What 
beautiful horses ! I should like to buy them. " — 
"Why, they are your own, my Lord," said his ser- 
vant. Those who knew him, indeed, at that period, 
were rather surprised, in after-life, to hear so much 
of his riding; — and the truth is, I am inclined 
to think, that he was at no time a very adroit horse- 

In swimming and diving we have already seen, by 
■ his own accounts, he excelled ; and a lady in South- 
well, among other precious relics of him, possesses a 
thimble which he borrowed of her one morning, 
when on his way to bathe in the Greet, and which, 
as was testified by her brother, who accompanied 
him, he brought up three times successively from 
the bottom of the river. His practice of firing at a 
mark was the occasion, once, of some alarm to a 

* Cricketing, too, was one of his most favourite sports ; and 
it was wonderful, considering his lameness, with what speed 

he could run. " Lord Byron (says Miss , in a letter, 

to her brother, from Southwell) is just gone past the window 
with his bat on his shoulder to cricket, which he is as fond of 
as ever." 

K 3 

]34 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

very beautiful young person, Miss H., — one of that 
numerous list of fair ones by whom his imagination 
was dazzled while at Southwell. A poem relating 
to this occurrence, which may be found in his un- 
published volume, is thus introduced: — "As the 
author was discharging his pistols in a garden, two 
ladies, passing near the spot, were alarmed by the 
sound of a bullet hissing near them, to one of whom 
the following stanzas were addressed the next morn- 

Such a passion, indeed, had he for arms of every 
description, that there generally lay a small sword 
by the side of his bed, with which he used to amuse 
himself, as he lay awake in the morning, by thrust- 
ing it through his bed-hangings. The person who 
purchased this bed at the sale of Mrs. Byron's fur- 
niture, on her removal to Newstead, gave out — with 
the view of attaching a stronger interest to the holes 
in the curtains — that they were pierced by the same 
sword with which the old lord had killed Mr. Cha- 
worth, and which his descendant always kept as a 
memorial by his bedside. Such is the ready process 
by which fiction is often engrafted upon fact; — 
the sword in question being a most innocent and 
bloodless weapon, which Lord Byron, during his 
visits at Southwell, used to borrow of one of his 

His fondness for dogs — another fancy which ac- 
companied him through life — may be judged from 
the anecdotes already given, in the account of his 
expedition to Ilarrowgate. Of his favourite dog 
Boatswain, whom he has immortalised in verse, and 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 135 

by whose side it was once his solemn purpose to be 
buried, some traits are told, indicative, not only of 
intelligence, but of a generosity of spirit, which might 
well win for him the affections of such a master 
as Byron. One of these I shall endeavour to relate 
as nearly as possible as it was told to me. Mrs. 
Byron had a fox-terrier, called Gilpin, with whom 
her son's dog. Boatswain, was perpetually at war*, 
taking every opportunity of attacking and worrying 
him so violently, that it was very much apprehended 
he would kill the animal. INIrs. Byron therefore 
sent off her terrier to a tenant at Newstead; and on 
the departure of Lord Byron for Cambridge, his 
" friend " Boatswain, with two other dogs, was in- 
trusted to the care of a servant till his return. One 
morning the servant was much alarmed by the dis- 
appearance of Boatswain, and throughout the whole 
of the day he could hear no tidings of him. At last, 
towards evening, the stray dog arrived, accompanied 
by Gilpin, whom he led immediately to the kitchen 
fire, licking him and lavishing upon him every possi- 
ble demonstration of joy. The fact was, he had 
been all the way to Newstead to fetch him ; and 
having now established his former foe under the 
roof once more, agreed so perfectly well with him 
ever after, that he even protected him against the 

* In one of Miss 's letters, the following notice of 

these canine feuds occurs : — " Boatswain has had another 
battle with Tippoo at the House of Correction, and came off 
conqueror. Lord B. brought Bo'sen to our window this 
morning, when Gilpin, wlio is almost always here, got into an 
amazing fury with him." 

K 4 

136 NOTICES OF THE 1807, 

insults of other dogs (a task which the quarrelsome- 
ness of the little terrier rendered no sinecure), and, 
if he but heard Gilpin's voice in distress, would fly 
instantly to his rescue. 

In addition to the natural tendency to superstition, 
which is usually found connected with the poetical 
temperament, Lord Byron had also tlie example and 
influence of his mother, acting upon him from in- 
fancy, to give his mind this tinge. Her implicit be- 
lief in the wonders of second sight, and the strange 
tales she told of this mysterious faculty, used 
to astonish not a little her sober English friends ; 
and it will be seen, that, at so late a period as the 
death of his friend Shelley, the idea of fetches 
and forewarnings impressed upon him by his mother 
had not wholly lost possession of the poet's mind. 
As an instance of a more playful sort of superstition 
I may be allowed to mention a slight circumstance 
told me of him by one of his Southwell friends. 
This lady had a large agate bead with a wire 
through it, which had been taken out of a barrow, 
and lay always in her work-box. Lord Byron asking 
one day what it was, she told him that it had been 
given her as an amulet, and the charm was, that as 
long as she had this bead in her possession, she should 
never be in love. " Then give it to me," he cried, 
eagerly, "for that's just the thing I want." The 
voung lady refused ; — but it was not long before 
the bead disappeared. She taxed him with the 
theft, and he owned it; but said, she never should 
see her amulet again. 

Of his charity and kind-heartedness he left behind 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 137 

him at Southwell — as, indeed, at every place, 
throughout life, where he resided any time — the 
most cordial recollections. " He never," says a 
person, who knew him intimately at this period, 
" met with objects of distress without affording them 
succour." Among many little traits of this nature, 
which his friends delight to tell, I select the follow- 
ing, — less as a proof of his generosity, than from 
the interest which the simple incident itself, as con- 
nected with the name of Byron, presents. While 
yet a school-boy, he happened to be in a bookseller's 
shop at Southwell, when a poor woman came in to 
purchase a Bible. The price, she was told by the 
shopman, was eight shillings. " Ah, dear sir," she 
exclaimed, " I cannot pay such a price ; I did not 
think it would cost half the money." The woman 
was then, with a look of disappointment, going 
away, — when young Byron called her back, and 
made her a present of the Bible. 

In his attention to his person and dress, to the 
bccomins; arrangement of his hair, and to whatever 
might best show off the beauty with which nature 
had gifted him, he manifested, even thus early, his 
anxiety to make himself pleasing to that sex who 
were, from first to last, the ruling stars of his destiny. 
The fear of becoming, what he was naturally inclined 
to be, enormously fat, had induced him, from his 
first entrance at Cambridge, to adopt, for the purpose 
of reducing himself, a system of violent exercise and 
abstinence, together witli the frequent use of warm 
baths. But the embittering circumstance of his lite, 
— that, which haunted him like a curse, amidst the 

138 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

buoyancy of youth, and the anticipations of fame and 
pleasure, was, strange to say, the trifling deforniit}'^ 
of his foot. By that one slight blemish (as in his 
moments of melancholy he persuaded himself) all 
the blessings that nature had shovv^ered upon him 
were counterbalanced. His reverend friend, Mr. 
Becher, finding him one day unusually dejected, 
endeavoured to cheer and rouse him, by representing, 
in their brightest colours, all the various advantages 
with which Providence had endowed him, — and, 
among the greatest, that of " a mind which placed 
him above the rest of mankind." — " Ah, my dear 
friend," said Byron, mournfully, — " if this (laying 
his hand on his forehead) places me above the rest 
of mankind, that (pointing to his foot) places me far, 
far below them." 

It sometimes, indeed, seemed as if his sensitiveness 
on this point led him to fancy that he was the only 
person in the world afflicted with such an infirmity. 
When that accomplished scholar and traveller, Mr. D. 
Baillie, who was at the same school with him at 
Aberdeen, met him afterwards at Cambridge, the 
young peer had then grown so fat that, though 
accosted by him familiarly as his school-fellov/, it was 
not till he mentioned his name that Mr. Baillie could 
recognise him. " It is odd enough, too, that you 
shouldn't know me," said Byron — " I thought nature 
had set such a mark upon me, that I could never be 

But, while this defect was such a source of mor- 
tification to his spirit, it was also, and in an equal 
degree, perhaps, a stimulus: — and more especially 

1807. JAFE OF LOUD BYKON. 139 

in whatever depended upon personal prowess or 
attractiveness, he seemed to feel himself piqued by 
this stigma, which nature, as he thought, had set 
upon him, to distinguish himself above those whom 
she had endowed with her more " fair proportion." 
In pursuits of gallantry he was, I have no doubt, a 
good deal actuated by this incentive ; and the hope 
of astonishing the world, at some future period, as a 
chieftain and hero, mingled little less with his young 
dreams than the prospect of a poet's glory. "I will, 
some day or other," he used to say, when a boy, 
"raise a troop, — the men of which shall be dressed 
in black, and ride on black horses. They shall be 
called ' Byron's Blacks,' and you will hear of their 
performing prodigies of valour." 

I have already adverted to the exceeding eager- 
ness with which, while at Harrow, he devoured all 
sorts of learning, — excepting only that which, by 
the regimen of the school, was prescribed for him. 
The same rapid and multifarious course of study he 
pursued during the holidays; and, in order to deduct 
as little as possible from his hours of exercise, he had 
given himself the habit, while at home, of reading 
all dinner-time.* In a mind so versatile as his, 
every novelty, whether serious or light, whether 
lofty or ludicrous, found a welcome and an echo ; 
and I can easily conceive the glee — as a friend of 
his once described it to me — with which he brought 
to her, one evening, a copy of Mother Goose's Tales, 

* " It v.-as the custom of Burns," says IMr. Lockhart, in 
his Life of that poet, " to read at table." 

140 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

which he had bought from a hawker that moi'ning, 
and read, for the first time, while he dined. 

1 shall now give, from a memorandum-book begun 
by him this year, the account, as I find it hastily and 
promiscuously scribbled out, of all the books in 
various departments of knowledge, which he had 
already perused at a period of life when few of his 
school-fellows had yet travelled beyond their loiigs 
and shorts. The list is, unquestionably, a remarkable 
one ; — and when we recollect that the reader of all 
these volumes was, at the same time, the possessor 
of a most retentive memory, it may be doubted 
whether, among what are called the regularly edu- 
cated, the contenders for scholastic honours and 
prizes, there could be found a single one who, at the 
same age, has possessed any thing like the same 
stock of useful knowledge. 


" History of Engkmd. — Hume, Kapin, Henry, 
Smollet, Tindal, Belsham, Bisset, Adolphus, Holin- 
shed, Froissart's Chronicles (belonging properly to 

" Scotland. — Buchanan, Hector Boethius, both in 
the Latin. 

" Irdcmd. — Gordon. 

" Rome. — Hooke, Decline and Fall by Gibbon, 
Ancient History by Rollin (including an account of 
the Carthaginians, &c.), besides Livy, Tacitus, Eu- 
tropius, Cornelius Nepos, Julius Cecsar, Arrian. 



" Greece. — Mitford's Greece, Leland's Philip, 
Plutarch, Potter's Antiquities, Xenophon, Thucy- 
dides, Herodotus. 

" France. — Mezeray, Voltaire. 

" Spain. — I chiefly derived my knowledge of old 
Spanish History from a book called the Atlas, now 
obsolete. The modern history, from the intrigues 
of Alberoni down to the Prince of Peace, I learned 
from its connection with European politics. 

" Portugal. — From Vertot ; as also his account 
of the Siege of Rhodes, — though the last is his own 
invention, the real facts being totally different. — So 
much for his Knights of Malta. 

" Turkey. — I have read Knolles, Sir Paul Rycaut, 
and Prince Cantemir, besides a more modern history, 
anonymous. Of the Ottoman History I know every 
event, from Tangralopi, and afterwards Otliman I., 
to the peace of Passarowitz, in 1718, — the battle of 
Cutzka, in 1739, and the treaty between Russia and 
Turkey in 1790. 

" Russia. — Tooke's Life of Catherine II., Vol- 
taire's Czar Peter. 

" Sweden. — Voltaire's Charles XII.,also Norberg's 
Chai'les XII. — in my opinion the best of the two. 
— A translation of Schiller's Thirty Years' War, 
which contains the exploits of Gustavus Adolj)hus, 
besides Harte's Life of the same Prince. I have 
somewhere, too, read an account of Gustavus Vasa, 
the deliverer of Sweden, but do not remember the 
author's name. 

" Prussia. — I have seen, at least, twenty Lives of 
Frederick II., the only prince worth recording in 

14?2 NOTICES OF THE 1S07. 

Prussian annals. Gillies, his own Works, and Thle- 
bault, — none very amusing. The last, is paltry, but 

" Denmark — I know little of. Of Norway I under- 
stand the natural history, but not the chronological. 

" Germany. — I have read long histories of the 
house of Suabia, Wenceslaus, and, at length, Rodolph 
of Hapsburgh and his thick-lipped Austrian descend- 

'■' Switzerland. — Ah ! William Tell, and the battle 
of Morgarten, where Burgundy was slain. 

" Itali/. — Davila, Guicciardiiji, the Guelphs and 
Ghibellines, the battle of Pavia, Massaniello, the 
revolutions of Naples, <S:c. (Src. 

" Hindostan. — Orme and Cambridge. 

" America. — Robertson, Andrews' American 

" Africa — merely from travels, as Mungo Park, 


" Robertson's Charles V. — Csesar, Sallust (Cati- 
line and Jugurtha), Lives of Marlborough and 
Eugene, Tekeli, Bonnard, Buonaparte, all the British 
Poets, both by Johnson and Anderson, Rousseau's 
Confessions, Life of Cromwell, British Plutarch, 
Ikitish Nepos, Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, 
Charles XIL, Czar Peter, Catherine IL, Henry Lord 
Kaimes, Marmontel, Teignmouth's Sir William Jones, 
Life of Newton, Belisaire, with thousands not to be 

" LAW. 

" Blackstone, Montesquieu. 



" Paley, Locke, Bacon, Hume, Berkeley, Drum- 
mond, Beattie, and Bolingbroke. Hobbes I detest. 


" Strabo, Cellarius, Adams, Pinkertoii, andGuthrie. 


" All the British Classics as before detailed, with 
most of the living poets, Scott, Southey, &c. — Some 
French, in the original, of which the Cid is my fa- 
vourite. — Little Italian. — Greek and Latin without 
number ; — these last I shall give up in future. — 
I have translated a good deal from both languages, 
verse as well as prose. 


" Demosthenes, Cicero, Quintilian, Sheridan, Aus- 
tin's Chironomia, and Parliamentary Debates from 
the Revolution to the year 1742. 


" Blair, Porteus, Tillotson, Hooker, — all very tire- 
some. I abhor books of religion, though I reverence 
and love my God, without the blasphemous notions 
of sectaries, or belief in their absurd and damnable 
heresies, mysteries, and Thirty-nine Articles. 


" Spectator, Rambler, World, Sec. &c. — Novels 
by the thousand. 

" All the books here enumerated I have taken 
down from memory. I recollect reading them, and 
can quote passages from any mentioned. I have, of 
course, omitted several in my catalogue; but the 
greater part of the above I perused before the age 


144 NOTICES OF THE 1807 

of fifteen. Since I left Harrow, I have become idle 
and conceited, from scribbling rhyme and making 
love to women. B. — Nov. 30. 1807. 

" I have also read (to my regret at present) above 
four thousand novels, including the works of Cer- 
vantes, Fielding, Smollet, Richardson, Mackenzie, 
Sterne, Rabelais, and Rousseau, &c. &c. The book, 
in my opinion, most useful to a man who wishes to 
acquire the reputation of being well read, with the 
least trouble, is " Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy," 
the mostamusing and instructive medley of quotations 
and classical anecdotes I ever perused. But a su- 
perficial reader must take care, or his intricacies 
will bewilder him. If, however, he has patience to 
go through his volumes, he will be more improved 
for literary conversation than by the perusal of any 
twenty other works with which I am acquainted, — 
at least, in the English language." 

To this early and extensive study of English wri- 
ters may be attributed that mastery over the re- 
sources of his own language with which Lord Byron 
came furnished into the field of literature, and which 
enabled him, as fast as his youthful fancies sprung 
up, to clothe them with a diction worthy of their 
strength and beauty. In general, the difficulty of 
young writers, at their commencement, lies far less 
in any lack of thoughts or images, than in that want 
of a fitting organ to give those conceptions vent, to 
which their unacquaintance with the great instru- 
ment of the man of genius, his native language, 
dooms them. It will be found, indeed, that the three 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 14-5 

most remarkable examples of early authoi'ship, which, 
in then* respective lines, the history of literature 
affords — Pope, Congreve, and Chatterton — were 
all of them persons self-educated*, according to their 
own intellectual wants and tastes, and left, undis- 
tracted by the worse than useless pedantries of the 
schools, to seek, in the pure " well of English unde- 
filed," those treasures of which they accordingly so 
very early and intimatelj'^ possessed themselves, f 
To these three instances may now be added, virtually, 
that of Lord Byron, who, though a disciple of the 
schools, was, intellectually speaking, in them, not of 
them, and who, while his comrades were prying 
curiously into the graves of dead languages, betook 
himself to the fresh, living sources of his own J, and 

• " I took to reading by myself," says Pope, " for which I 
had a very great eagerness and enthusiasm ; .... I 
followed every where, as my fancy led me, and was like a boy 
gathering flowers in the fields and woods, just as they fell in 
his way. These five or six years I still look upon as the 
happiest part of my life." It appears, too, that he was him- 
self aware of the advantages which this free course of study 
brought with it : — " Mr. Pope," says Spence, ♦' thought him- 
self the better, in some respects, for not having had a regular 
education. He (as he observed in particular) read originally 
for the sense, whereas we are taught, for so many years, to 
read only for words." 

•f Before Chatterton was twelve years old, he wrote a cata- 
logue, in the same manner as Lord Byron, of the books he had 
already read, to the number of seventy. Of these the chief 
subjects were history and divinity. 

\ The perfect purity with which the Greeks wrote their 
own language, was, with justice, perhaps, attributed by them- 
selves to their entire abstinence from the study of any other. 

VOL. I. J. 

146 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

from tlience drew those rich, varied stores of diction, 
which have placed his works, from the age of two- 
and-twenty upwards, among the most precious de- 
positories of the strength and sweetness of the 
EngUsh language that our whole literature supplies. 

In the same book that contains the above re- 
cord of his studies, he has written out, also from 
memory, a " List of the different poets, dramatic 
or otherwise, who have distinguished their respective 
languages by their productions." After enumerating 
the various poets, both ancient and modern, of 
Europe, he thus proceeds with his catalogue 
through other quarters of the world : — 

" Arabia. — Mahomet, whose Koran contains 
most sublime poetical passages, far surpassing 
European poetry. 

" Persia. — Ferdousi, author of the Shah Nameh, 
the Persian Iliad — Sadi, and Hafiz, the immortal 
Hafiz, the oriental Anacreon. The last is rever- 
enced beyond any bard of ancient or modern times 
by the Persians, who resort to his tomb near Shiraz, 
to celebrate his memory. A splendid copy of his 
works is chained to his monument. 

" America. — An epic poet has already appeared 
in that hemisphere. Barlow, author of the Columbiad, 
— not 10 be compared with the works of more 
polished nations. 

" Iceland.) Denmark, Norway, were famous for 
their Skalds. Among these Lodburgh was one of 

" If they became learned," says Ferguson, " it was only l)y 
studying what they themselves had produced." 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 147 

the most distinguished. His Death Song breathes 
ferocious sentiments, but a glorious and impassioned 
strain of poetry. 

*•' Hindostan is undistinguished by any great bard, 
— at least the Sanscrit is so imperfectly known to 
Europeans, we know not what poetical relics may 

" The Birman Empire. — Here the natives are 
passionately fond of poetry, but their bards are un- 

" China. — I never heard of any Chinese poet 
but the Emperor Kien Long, and his ode to Tea, 
What a pity their philosopher Confucius did not 
write poetry, with his precepts of morality ! 

" Africa. — In Africa some of the native melodies 
are plaintive, and the words simple and affecting ; 
but whether their rude strains of nature can be 
classed with poetry, as the songs of the bards, the 
Skalds of Europe, Szc. &c., I know not. 

" This brief list of poets I have written down 
from memory, without any book of 'reference ; con- 
sequently some errors may occur, but I think, if 
any, very trivial. The works of the European, and 
some of the Asiatic; I have perused, either in the 
original or translations. In my list of English, I 
have merely mentioned the greatest ; — to enumerate 
the minor poets would be useless, as well as tedious. 
Perhaps Gray, Goldsmith, and Collins, might have 
been added, as worthy of mention, in a cosmopolite 
account. But as for the otiiers, from Chaucer down 
to Churchill, they arc ' voces et praeterea nihil ; ' — 
sometimes spoken of, rarely read, and never vvitli 

L 2 

148 NOTICES OF THE ' 1807. 

advantage. Chaucer, notwithstanding the praises 
bestowed on him, I think obscene and contemptible : 
— he owes his celebrity merely to his antiquity, 
which he does not deserve so well as Pierce Plow- 
man, or Thomas of Ercildoune. English living 
poets I have avoided mentioning; — we have none 
who will not survive their productions. Taste is 
over with us ; and another century will sweep our 
empire, our literature, and our name, from all but a 
place in the annals of mankind. 

<' November 30. 1807. Byron." 

Among the papers of his in my possession are 
several detached poems (in all nearly six hundred 
lines), which he wrote about this period, but never 
printed — having produced most of them after the 
publication of his " Hours of Idleness." The greater 
number of these have little, besides his name, to re- 
commend them ; but there are a few that, from the 
feelings and circumstances that gave rise to them, 
will, I have no doubt, be interesting to the reader. 

When he first went to Newstead, on his arrival 
from Aberdeen, he planted, it seems, a young oak in 
some part of the grounds, and had an idea that as it 
flourished so should he. Some six or seven years 
after, on revisiting the spot, he found his oak choked 
up by weeds, and almost destroyed. In this circum- 
stance, which happened soon after Lord Grey de 
Ruthen left Newstead, originated one of these poems, 
which consists of five stanzas, but of which the ?evf 
opening lines will be a sufficient specimen : — 



" Young Oak, when I planted thee deep in the ground, 
I hoped that thy days would be longer than mine ; 
That thy dark-waving branches would flourish arourtd. 
And ivy thy trunk with its mantle entwine. 

" Such, such was my hope, when, in infancy's years. 

On the land of my fathers I rear'd thee with pride ; 

They are past, and I water thy stem with my tears, 

Thy decay, not the weeds that surround thee can hide. 

«' I left thee, my Oak, and, since that fatal hour, i 

A stranger has dwelt in the hall of my sire," &c. &C. ; 

The subject ofthe verses that follow is sufficiently 
explained by the notice which he has prefixed to 
them ; and, as illustrative ofthe romantic and almost 
lovelike feeling which he threw into his school 
friendships, they appeared to me, though rather 
quaint and elaborate, to be worth preserving. 

" Some years ago, when at H , a friend of 

the author engraved on a particular spot the names 
of both, with a few additional words as a memorial. 
Afterwards, on receiving some real or imagined in- 
jury, the author destroyed the frail record before 

he left H . On revisiting the place in 1807, 

he wrote under it the following stanzas : — 

" Here once engaged the stranger's view 

Young Friendship's record simply traced ; 
Few were her words, — but yet though few. 
Resentment's hand the line defaced, 

" Deeply she cut — but, not erased. 
The characters were still so plain. 
That Friendship once return'd, and gazed, — 
Till Memory hail'd the words again. 
L 3 

150 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

** Repentance placed them as before ; 
Forgiveness join'd her gentle name ; 
So fair the inscription seem'd once more 
That Friendship thought it still the same. 

" Thus might the record now have been ; 
But, ah, in spite of Hope's endeavour. 
Or Friendship's tears. Pride rush'd between, 
And blotted out the line for ever ! " 

The same romantic feeling of friendship breathes 
throughout another of these poems, in which he has 
taken for the subject the ingenious thought " L' Amitie 
est I'Amour sans ailes," and concludes every stanza 
with the words, " Friendship is Love without his 
wings." Of the nine stanzas of which this poem 
consists, the three following appear the most worthy 
of selection : — 

" Why should my anxious breast repine, 

Because my youth is fled ? 
Days of delight may still be mine, 

Affection is not dead. 
In tracing back the years of youth, 
One firm record, one lasting truth 

Celestial consolation brings ; 
Bear it, ye breezes, to the seat, 
Where first my heart responsive beat, — 

' Friendship is Love without his wings ! ' 

" Seat of my youth ! thy distant spire 

Recalls each scene of joy; 
My bosom glows with former fire, — 

In mind again a boy. 
Thy grove of elms, thy verdant hill, 
Thy every path delights me still. 

Each flower a double fragrance flings ; 
Again, as once, in converse gay. 
Each dear associate seems to say, 

' Friendship is Love without his wings ! * 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 151 

" My Lycus ! wherefore dost thou weep ? 

Thy falling tears restrain; 
Affection for a time may sleep, 

But, oh, 'twill wake again. 
Think, think, my friend, when next we meet, 
Our long-wish'd intercourse, how sweet! 

From this my hope of rapture springs. 
While youthful hearts thus fondly swell, 
Absence, my friend, can only tell, 

' Friendship is Love without his wings ! ' " 

Whether the verses I am now about to give are, 
in any degree, founded on fact, I have no accurate 
means of determining. Fond as he was of recording 
every particular of his youth, such an event, or rather 
era, as is here commemorated, would have been, of 
all others, the least likely to pass unmentioned by 
liim ; — and yet neither in conversation nor in any 
of his writings do I remember even an allusion to 
it.* On the other hand, so entirely was all that he 

• The only circumstance I know, that bears even remotely 
on the subject of this poem, is the following. About a year 
or two before the date affixed to it, he wrote to his mother, 
from Harrow (as I have been told by a person to whom 
Mrs. Byron herself communicated the circumstance), to say, 
that he had lately had a good deal of uneasiness on account of 
a young woman, whom he knew to have been a favourite of 
his late friend, Curzon, and who, finding herself, after his 
death, in a state of progress towards maternity, had declared 
Lord Byron was the father of her child. This, he positively 
assured his mother, was not the case ; but, believing, as he did 
firmly, that the child belonged to Curzon, it was his wish that 
it should be brought up with all possible care, and he, there- 
fore, entreated that his mother would have the kindness to 
take charge of it. Though such a request might well (as my 
informant expresses it) have discomposed a temper more mild 

L 4 

152 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

wrote, — making allowance for the embellishments 
of fancy, — the transcript of his actual life and feel- 
ings, that it is not easy to suppose a poem, so full of 
natural tenderness, to have been indebted for its 
origin to imagination alone. 


" Those flaxen locks, those eyes of blue, 
Bright as thy mother's in their hue ; 
Those rosy lips, whose dimples play 
And smile to steal the heart away, 
Recall a scene of former joy, 
And touch thy Father's heart, my Boy ! 

" And thou canst lisp a father's name — 
Ah, William, were thine own the same, 
No self-reproach — but, let me cease — 
My care for thee shall purchase peace ; 
Thy mother's shade shall smile in joy. 
And pardon all the past, my Boy ! 

" Her lowly grave the turf has prest, 

And thou hast known a stranger's breast. . 

Derision sneers upon thy birth. 

And yields thee scarce a name on earth ; 

Yet shall not these one hope destroy, — 

A Father's heart is thine, ray Boy ! 

than Mrs. Byron's, she notwithstanding answered her son in 
the kindest terms, saying that she would willingly receive the 
child as soon as it was born, and bring it up in whatever 
manner he desired. Happily, however, the infant died almost 
immediately, and was thus spared the being a tax on the good 
nature of any body. 

1807. tip's OF LORD BYRON. 153 

" Why, let the world unfeeling frown, 
Must I fond Nature's claim disown ? 
Ah, no — though moralists reprove, 
I hail thee, dearest child of love, 
Fair cherub, pledge of youth and joy — 
A Father guards thy birth, my Boy ! 

" Oh, 'twill be sweet in thee to trace, 
Ere age has wrinkled o'er my face, 
Ere half my glass of life is run. 
At once a brother and a son ; 
And all my wane of years employ 
In justice done to thee, my Boy ! 

" Although so young thy heedless sire, 
Youth will not damp parental fire ; 
And, wert thou still less dear to me, 
While Helen's form revives in thee. 
The breast, which beat to former joy, 
Will ne'er desert its pledge, my Boy ! 

« B , 1807."* 

* In this practice of dating his juvenile poems he followed 
the example of Milton, who (says Johnson), " by affixing the 
dates to his first compositions, a boast of which the learned 
Politian had given him an example, seems to commend the 
earliness of his own compositions to the notice of posterity." 

The following trifle, written also by him in 1 807, has never, 
as far as I know, appeared in print : — 


" John Adams lies here, of the parish of Southwell, 
A Carrier, who canied his can to his mouth well ; 
He carried so much, and he carried so fast, 
He could cany no more — so was carried at last ; 
For, the liquor he drank being too much for one. 
He could not cany off, — so he 's now carri-on. 

" B , Sept. 1807.'" 



But the most remarkable of these poems is one 
of a date prior to any I have given, being written in 
December, 1806, when he was not yet nineteen years 
old. It contains, as will be seen, his religious creed 
at that period, and shows how early the struggle 
between natural piety and doubt began in his mind. 


" Father of Light ! great God of Heaven ! 
Hear'st thou the accents of despair? 
Can guilt like man's be e'er forgiven ? 

Can vice atone for crimes by prayer? 
Father of Light, on thee I call ! 

Thou see'st my soul is dark within ; 
Thou who canst mark the sparrow's fall, 

Avert from me the death of sin. 
No shrine I seek, to sects unknown, 

Oh point to me the path of truth ! 
Thy dread omnipotence I own. 

Spare, yet amend, the faults of youth. 
Let bigots rear a gloomy fane, 

Let superstition hail the pile, 
Let priests, to spread their sable reign, 

With tales of mystic rites beguile. 
Shall man confine his Maker's sway 

To Gothic domes of mouldering stone ? 
Thy temple is the face of day ; 

Earth, ocean, heaven, thy boundless throne. 
Shall man condemn his race to hell 

Unless they bend in pompous form ; 
Tell us that all, for one who fell, 

Must perish in the mingling storm? 
Shall each pretend to reach the skies, 

Yet doom his brother to expire. 
Whose soul a different hope supplies, 

Or doctrines less severe inspire ? 



Shall these, by creeds they can't expound, 

Prepare a fancied bliss or woe ? 
Shall reptiles, grovelling on the ground, 

Their great Creator's purpose know ? 
Shall those who live for self alone, 

Whose years float on in daily crime — 
Shall they by Faith for guilt atone. 

And live beyond the bounds of Time? 
Father ! no prophet's laws I seek, — 

Thy laws in Nature's works appear ; — 
I own myself corrupt and weak. 

Yet will I pray, for thou wilt hear ! 
Thou, who canst guide the wandering star 

Through trackless realms of Other's space ; 
Who calm'st the elemental war. 

Whose hand from pole to pole I trace : 
Thou, who in wisdom placed me here, 

Who, when thou wilt, can take me hence. 
Ah ! whilst I tread this earthly sphere, 

Extend to me thy wide defence. 
To Thee, my God, to Thee I call ! 

Whatever weal or woe betide. 
By thy command I rise or fall, 

In thy protection I confide. 
If, when this dust to dust restored. 

My soul shall float on airy wing. 
How shall thy glorious name adored, 

Inspire her feeble voice to sin 


. I 

But, if this fleeting spirit share 

With clay the grave's eternal bed, 
While life yet throbs, I raise my prayer. 

Though doom'd no more to quit the dead. 
To Thee I breathe my humble strain, 

Grateful for all thy mercies past. 
And hope, my God, to thee again 

This erring life may fly at last. 

« 29th Dec. 1806. Byroi»." 

156 ■ NOTICES OF THE 18071 

In another of these poems, which extends to 
about a hundred Hnes, and which he wrote under 
the melancholy impression that he should soon die, 
we find him concluding with a prayer in somewhat the 
same spirit. After bidding adieu to all the favourite 
scenes of his youth *, he thus continues, — 

" Forget this world, my restless sprite, 

Turn, turn thy thoughts to Heav'n : 
Tliere must thou soon direct thy flight. 

If errors are forgiven. 
To bigots and to sects unknown, 
Bow down beneath the Almighty's throne ; — 

To him address thy trembling prayer ; 
He, who is merciful and just, 
Will not reject a child of dust. 

Although his meanest care. 
Father of Light, to thee I call. 

My soul is dark within ; 
Thou, who canst mark the sparrow fall. 

Avert the death of sin. 
Thou, who canst guide the wandering star, 
Who calm'st the elemental war, 

Whose mantle is yon boundless sky. 
My thoughts, my words, my crimes forgive ; 
And, since I soon must cease to live, 

Instruct me how to die. 1807. 

• Annesley is, of course, not forgotten among the num- 
ber: — 

" And shall I here forget the scene, 

Still nearest to my breast? 
Rocks rise and rivers roll between 

The rural spot which passion blest ; 
Yet, Mary, all thy beauties seem 
Fresh as in Love's bewitching dream," &c. &C4 


We have seen, by a former letter, that the law 
proceedings for the recovery of his Rochdale pro- 
perty had been attended with success in some trial 
of the case at Lancaster. The following note to 
one of his Southwell friends, announcing a second 
triumph of the cause, shows how sanguinely and, 
as it turned out, erroneously, he calculated on the 

« Feb. 9. 1807. 

" Dear , 

" I have the pleasure to inform you we have 
gained the Rochdale cause a second time, by which 
I am s£60,000 J}! us. Yours ever, 

" Byrox." 

In the month of April we find him still at South- 
well, and addressing to his friend, Dr. Pigot, who was 
at Edinburgh, the following note : * — 

* It appears from a passage in one of Miss 's 

letters to her brother, that Lord Byron sent, through this 
gentleman, a copy of his poems to Mr. Mackenzie, tlie author 
of the Man of Feeling : — "I am glad you mentioned Mr. 
Mackenzie's having got a copy of Lord B.'s poems, and 
what he tliought of them — Lord B. was so much pleased ! " 

In another letter, the fair writer says, — " Lord Byron 
desired me to tell you that the reason you did not hear from 
him was because his publication was not so forward as he had 
flattered himself it would have been. I told him, ' he was no 
more to be depended on than a woman,' which instantly 
brought the softness of that sex into his countenance, for he 
blushed exceedingly." 

158 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

" Southwell, April, 1807. 
" My dear PIgot, 

" Allow me to congratulate you on the success 
of your first examination — ' Courage, mon ami.* 
The title of Doctor will do wonders with the damsels. 
I shall most probably be in Essex or London when 

you arrive at this d d place, where I am detained 

by the publication of my rhymes. 

" Adieu. — Believe me yours very truly, 

" Byron. 

" P. S. Since we met, I have reduced myself by 
violent exercise, much physic, and hot bathing, from 
H stone 61b. to 12 stone 71b. In all I have lost 
27 pounds. Bravo ! — what say you ? " 

His movements and occupations for the remainder 
of this year will be best collected from a series of 
his own letters, which I am enabled, by the kindness 
of the lady to whom they were addressed, to give. 
Though these letters are boyishly * written, and a 
good deal of their pleasantry is of that conventional 
kind which depends more upon phrase than thought, 
they will yet, I think, be found curious and interest- 
ing, not only as enabling us to track him through 
this period of his life, but as throwing light upon 
various little traits of character, and laying open to 

* He was, indeed, a thorough boy, at tliis period, in everj' 

respect : — " Next Monday " (says Miss ) " is our 

great fair. Lord Byron talks of it with as much pleasure as 
little Henry, and declares lie will ride in the round-about, — 
but I think he will change his mind." 


US the first working of his hopes and fears while 
waiting, in suspense, the opinions that were to de- 
cide, as he thought, his future fame. The first of 
the series, which is without date, appears to have 
been written before he had left Southwell. The 
other letters, it will be seen, are dated from Cam- 
bridge and from London. 

Letter 12. TO MISS 

" June 11. 1807. 

" Dear Queen Bess, 

" Savage ought to be immortal: — though not 
a thorough-bred hull-dog, he is the finest puppy I 
ever saw, and will answer much better ; in his great 
and manifold kindness he has already bitten my 
fingers, and disturbed the gravity of old Boatswain, 
who is grievously discomposed. I wish to be informed 
what he costs, his expenses, &c. <S:c., that I may 

indemnify Mr. G . My thanks are all I can 

give for the trouble he has taken, make a long speech, 
and conclude it with 12 3 4 5 6 7.* I am out of 
practice, so deputize you as legate, — ambassador 
would not do in a matter concerning the Pope, which 
I presume this must, as the whole turns upon a Bull. 

" Yours, 

« Byron. 

«P.S. I write in bed." 

* He here alludes to an odd fancy or trick of his own ; — 
whenever he was at a loss for something to say, he used always 
lo gabble over "12 3 4 5 6 7." 


Letter 13. TO MISS •• 

« Cambridge, June 30. 1807. 

" ' Better late than never, Pal, '" is a saying of 
which you know the origin, and as it is applicable on 
the present occasion, you will excuse its conspicuous 
place in the front of my epistle. I am almost super- 
annuated here. My old friends (with the exception 
of a very few) all departed, and I am preparing to 
follow them, but remain till ^Monday to be present at 
three Oratorios, two Concerts, a Fair, and a Ball. I 
find I am not only thinner but taller by an inch since 
my last visit. 1 was obliged to tell every body my 
name, nobody having the least recollection of my 
visage, or person. Even the hero of my Cornelian 
(who is now sitting vis-d-vis, reading a volume of 
my Poetics) passed me in Trinity walks without 
recognising me in the least, and was thunderstruck 
at the alteration which had taken place in my coun- 
tenance, &c. &c. Some say I look better, others 
worse, but all agree I am thinner — more I do not 
require. I have lost two pounds in my weight since I 
leftyour cursed, detestable, and abhorred abode of sraH- 
dal*, where, excepting yourself and John Becher, 

* Notwithstanding the abuse which, evidently more in sport 
than seriousness, he lavishes, in the course of these letters^ 
upon Southwell, he was, in after days, taught to feel that the 
hours which he had passed in this place were far more happy 
than any he had known afterwards. In a letter written not 
long since to his servant, Fletcher, by a lady who had been in- 
timate with him, in his young days, at Southwell, there are the 
following words : — " Your poor, good master always called 
me ' Old Piety,' when I preached to him. When he paid 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRO.V. 161 

I care not if the whole race were consigned to 
the Pit of Acheron, which I would visit in person 
rather than contaminate my sandals with the polluted 
dust of Southwell. Seriously, unless obliged by the 
emptiness of my purse to revisit Mrs. B., you will see 
me no more. 

" On Monday I depart for London. I quit Cam- 
bridge with little regret, because our set are 
vanished, and my musical protege before mentioned 
has left the choir, and is stationed in a mercantile 
house of considerable eminence in the metropolis. 
You may have heard me observe he is exactly to an 
hour two years younger than myself. I found him 
grown considerably, and, as you will suppose, very 
glad to see his former Patron. He is nearly my 
height, very thin, very fair complexion, dark eyes, 
and light locks. My opinion of his mind you already 
know ; — I hope I shall never have occasion to change 
it. Every body here conceives me to be an invalid. 
The University at present is very gay from the fetes 
of divers kinds. I supped out last night, but eat 
(or ate) nothing, sipped a bottle of claret, went to 
bed at two, and rose at eight. I have commenced 
early rising, and find it agrees with me. The Mas- 
ters and the Fellows all very polite, but look a little 
askance — don't much admire lampoons — truth 
always disagreeable. 

me his last visit, he said, ' Well, good friend, I shall never be 
so happy again as I was in old Southwell.' " His real opinion 
of the advantages of this town, as a place of residence, will be 
seen in a subsequent letter, where he most strenuously recom- 
mends it, in that point of view, to Mr. Dallas. 
VOL. I. M 

162 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

" Write, and tell me how the inhabitants of your 
Menagerie go o», and if my publication goes off well : 
do the quadrupeds fjrowl .*' Apropos, my bull-dog is 
deceased — ' Flesh both of cur and man is grass.' 
Address your answer to Cambridge. If I am gone, 
it will be forwarded. Sad news just arrived — Rus- 
sians beat — a bad set, eat nothing but oil, conse- 
quently must melt before a hard fire. I get awkward 
in my academic habiliments for want of practice. 
Got up in a window to hear the oratorio at St. 
Mary's, popped down in the middle of the Messiah, 
tore a woeful rent in the back of my best black silk 
gown, and damaged an egregious pair of breeches. 
Mem. — never tumbled from a church window during 
service. Adieu, dear * * * * ! do not remember me 
to any body : — to forget and be forgotten by the 
people of Southwell is all I aspire to." 

Letter 14. TO MISS 

'< Trin. Coll. Camb. July 5. 1807. 
" Since my last letter I have determined to reside 
another year at Granta, as my rooms, &c. Sec. are 
finished in great style, several old friends come up 
again, and many new acquaintances made ; conse- 
quently my inclination leads me forward, and I shall 
return to college in October if still alive. My life 
here has been one continued routine of dissipation — 
out at different places every day, engaged to more 
dinners, Sec. &c. than my stay would permit me to 
fulfil. At this moment I write with a bottle of claret 
in my head and tears in my eyes; for I have just 
parted with my ' Cornelian^ who spent the evening 



with me. As it was our last interview, I postponed 
my engagement to devote the hours of the Sabbath 
to friendship: — EdJeston and I have separated for 
the present, and my mind is a chaos of hope and 
sorrow. To-morrow I set out for London : you will 
address your answer to ' Gordon's Hotel, Albemarle 
Street,' where I sojourn during my visit to the me- 

" I rejoice to hear you are interested in my protege; 
lie has been my almost constant associate since Oc- 
tober, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His 
voice first attracted ray attention, his countenance 
fixed it, and his manners attached me to him for 
ever. He departs for a mercantile house in town in 
October, and we shall probably not meet till the 
expiration of my minority, when I shall leave to his 
decision either entering as a partner through my 
interest, or residing with me altogether. Of course 
he would in his present frame of mind prefer the 
latter, but he may alter his opinion previous to that 
period ; — however, he shall have his choice. I cer- 
tainly love him more than any human being, and 
neither time nor distance have had the least effect on 
my (in general) changeable disposition. In short, 
we shall put Lady E. Butler and Miss Ponsonhj to 
the blush, Pi/lades and Orestes out of countenance, 
and want nothing but a catastrophe like Nisxs and 
Euri/alus, to give Jonathan and David the ' go by.' 
He certainly is perhaps more attached to me than 
even I am in return. During the whole of my resi- 
dence at Cambridge we met every day, summer and 
winter, without passing one tiresome moment, and 

M 2 


separated each time with increasing rehictance. I 
hope you will one day see us together, he is the only 
being I esteem, though I like many. * 

* It may be as well to mention here the sequel of this en- 
thusiastic attachment. In tlie year 1811 young Edleston died 
of a consumption, and the following letter, addressed by Lord 
Byron to the mother of his fair Southwell correspondent, will 
show with what melancholy faithfulness, among the many his 
heart had then to mourn for, he still dwelt on the memory of 
his young college friend : — 

« Cambridge, Oct. 28. 1811. 
« Dear Madam, 

" I am about to write to you on a silly subject, and yet I 
cannot well do otherwise. You may remember a cornelian, 
which some years ago I consigned to Miss * * * *, indeed gave 
to her, and now I am going to make the most selfish and rude 
of requests. The person who gave it to me, when I was very 
young, is dead, and though a long time lias elapsed since we 
met, as it was the only memorial I possessed of that person 
(in whom I was very much interested), it has acquired a value 
by this event I could have wished it never to have borne in my 
eyes. If, therefore, Miss * * * * should have preserved it, I 
must, under these circumstances, beg her to excuse my request- 
ing it to be transmitted to me at No. 8. St. James's Street, 
London, and I will replace it by something she may remember 
me by equally well. As she was always so kind as to feel 
interested in the fate of him that formed the subject of our 
conversation, you may tell her tlial the giver of that cornelian 
died in May last of a consumption, at the age of twenty-one, 
making the sixth, within four months, of friends and relatives 
that I have lost between May and the end of August. 
" Believe me, dear Madam, yours very sincerely, 

" Byron. 
" P. S. I go to London to-morrow." 

The cornelian heart was, of course, returned, and Lord 
Bvron, at the same time, reminded that he had left it with 
Miss * * * • 



" The Marquis of Tavistock was down the other 
day ; I supped with him at his tutor's — entirely a 
Whig party. The opposition muster strong here 
now, and Lord Hartington, the Duke of Leinster, 
&c. &-C. are to join us in October, so every thing will 
be splendid. The music is all over at present. Met 
with another ' accidency ' — upset a butter-boat in 
the lap of a lady — look'd very blue — spectators 
grinned — ' curse 'em ! ' Apropos, sorry to say, 
been drunk every day, and not quite sober yet — 
however, touch no meat, nothing but fish, soup, and 
vegetables, consequently it does me no harm — sad 
dogs all the Cantabs. Mem. — ive mean to reform 
next January. This place is a monotony of endless 
variety — like it — hate Southwell. Has Ridge sold 
well? or do the ancients demur? What ladies have 
bought ? 

*' Saw a girl at St. Mary's the image of Anne* * *, 
thought it was her — all in the wrong — the lady 
stared, so did I — I blushed, so did not the lad}', — 
sad thing — wish women had more modesty. Talk- 
ing of women, puts me in mind of my terrier Fanny 
— how is she? Got a headach, must go to bed- 
up early in the morning to travel. My protege 
breakfosts with me ; parting spoils my appetite — 
excepting from Southwell. Mem. I hate Southwell. 
Yours, &c." 

Letter 15. TO MISS 

« Gordon's Hotel, July IS. 1P07. 

" You write most excellent epistles — a fig for 

other correspondents, with their nonsensical apolo- 


gies for '■hnoxmng nouylit about it,' — you send me a 
delightful budget. I am here in a perpetual vortex 
of dissipation (very pleasant for all that), and, 
strange to tell, I get thinner, being now below 
eleven stone considerably. Stay in town a month, 
perhaps six weeks, trip into Essex, and then, as a 
favour, irradiate Southwell for three days with the 
light of my countenance ; but nothing shall ever 
make me reside there again. I positively return to 
Cambridge in October ; we are to be uncommonly 
gay, or in truth I should cut the University. An 
extraordinary circumstance occurred to me at Cam- 
bridge ; a girl so very like * * made her appear- 
ance, that nothing but the most minute inspection 
could have undeceived me. I wish I had asked if 
she had ever been at H * * * 

"What the devil would Ridge have? is not fifty 
in a fortnight, before the advertisements, a sufficient 
sale ? I hear many of the London booksellers have 
them, and Crosby has sent copies to the principal 
watering places. Are they liked or not in South- 
well ?*****! wish Boatswain had 
swallowed Damon ! How is Bran ? by the immortal 
gods, Bran ought to be a Count of the Holi/ Roman 

" The intelligence of London cannot be interest- 
ing to you, who have rusticated all your life — the 
annals of routs, riots, balls and boxing-matches, 
cards and crim. cons., parliamentary discussion, 
political details, masquerades, mechanics, Argyle 
Street Institution and aquatic races, love and lot- 
teries, Brookes's and Buonaparte, opera-singers and 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 167 

oratorios, wine, women, wax-v/ork, and weather- 
cocks, can't accord with your insulated ideas of de- 
corum and other silly expressions not inserted in our 

"Oh! Southwell, Southwell, howl rejoice to have 
left thee, and how I curse the heavy hours I drag- 
ged along, for so many months, among the Mohawks 
who inhabit your kraals ! — However, one thing I 
do not regret, which is having pared off a sufficient 
quantity of flesh to enable me to slip into ' an eel 
skin,' and vie with the slim beaux of modern times ; 
though I am sorry to say, it seems to be the mode 
amongst gentlemen to grow fat, and I am told I am 
at least fourteen pound below the fashion. How- 
ever, I decrease instead of enlarging, which is extra- 
ordinary, as violent exercise in London is impractica- 
ble ; but I attribute the phenomenon to our evening 
squeezes at public and private parties. I heard 
from Ridge this morning (the 14th, my letter was 
begun yesterday): he says the poems go on as well 
as can be wished ; the seventy-five sent to town 
are circulated, and a demand for fifty more com- 
plied with, the day he dated his epistle, though 
the advertisements are not yet half published. 

" P. S. Lord Carlisle, on receiving my poems, 
sent, before he opened the book, a tolerably hand- 
some letter : — I have not heard from him since. 
His opinions I neither know nor care about : if he is 
the least insolent, I shall enrol him with Bulla' * 

* In the Collection of liis Poems printed for private cii'- 
culation, he had inserted some severe verses on Dr. Butler, 

M 4; 

168 NOTICES OF THE lf-07. 

and the other worthies. He Is in Yorkshire, poor 
man ! and very ill ! He said he had not had time 
to read the contents, but thought it necessary to 
acknowledge the receipt of the volume immediately. 
Perhaps the Earl ' bears no brother near the throne,' 
— if so, I will make his sceptre totter in his hands. — 
Adieu ! " 

Letter 16. TO MISS 

" August 2. 1S07. 

" London begins to disgorge its contents — 
town is empty — consequently I can scribble at 
leisure, as occupations are less numerous. In a 
fortnight I shall depart to fulfil a country engage- 
ment ; but expect two epistles from you previous 
to that period. Ridge does not proceed rapidly in 
Notts — very possible. In town things wear a more 
promising aspect, and a man whose works are 
praised by reviewers, admired by duchesses, and sold 
by every bookseller of the metropolis, does not dedi- 
cate much consideration to rustic readers. I have 
now a review before me, entitled ' Literary Recre- 
ations,' where my hardship is applauded far beyond 
my deserts. I know nothing of the critic, but think 
him a very discerning gentleman, and myself & devil- 
ish clever fellow. His critique pleases me particu- 
larly, because it is of great length, and a proper 
quantum of censure is administered, just to give an 

which he omitted in the subsequent publication, — at the same 
time explaining why he did so, in a note little less severe than 
the verses. 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 169 

agreeable irlish to the praise. You know I hate hi- 
sipid, unqualified, common-place compliment. If 
you would wish to see it, order the 13th Number of 
' Literary Recreations ' for the last month. I assure 
vou I have not the most distant idea of the writer 
of the article — it is printed in a periodical publi- 
cation — and though I have written a paper (a review 
of Wordsworth *), which appears in the same work, 
I am ignorant of every other person concerned in it 
— even the editor, whose name I have not heard. 
My cousin, Lord Alexander Gordon, who resided in 
the same hotel, told me his mother, her Grace of 
Gordon, requested he would introduce my Poetical 
Lordship to her Highness, as she had bought my 
volume, admired it exceedingly, in common with the 
rest of the fashionable Avorld, and wished to claim 

* This first attempt of Lord Byron at reviewing (for it will 
be seen that he, once or twice afterwards, tried his hand at this 
least poetical of employments) is remarkable only as sliowing 
how plausibly he could assume the established tone and 
phraseology of these minor judgment-seats of criticism. For 
instance : — " The volumes before us are by the author of 
Lyrical Ballads, a collection which has not undeservedly met 
with a considerable share of public applause. The character- 
istics of Mr. Wordsworth's muse are simple and flowing, 
though occasionally inharmonious, verse, — strong and some- 
times irresistible appeals to the feelings, with unexceptionable 
sentiments. Though the present work may not equal his 
former efforts, many of the poems possess a native elegance," 
&c. &c. &c. If Mr. Wordsworth ever chanced to cast his,eye 
over this article, how little could he have suspected that imder 
that dull prosaic mask lurked one who, in five short years from 
thence, would rival even him in poetry. 

170 NOTICES OF THE 1807. 

her relationship with the author. I was unluckily 
engaged on an excursion for some days afterwards, 
and as the Duchess was on the eve of departing for 
Scotland, I have postponed my introduction till the 
winter, when I shall favour the lady, whose taste 1 
shall not dispute, with my most sublime and edifying 
conversation. She is now in the Highlands, and 
Alexander took his departure, a few daj's ago, for 
the same blessed seat of '•dark rolling ivinds.' 

" Crosby, my London publisher, has disposed of 
his second importation, and has sent to Ridge for a 
third — at least so he says. In every bookseller's 
window I see my own name, and sai/ nothing, but 
enjoy my fame in secret. My last reviewer kindly 
requests me to alter my determination of writing no 
more ; and ' A Friend to the Cause of Literature ' 
begs I will gratify the jnihlic with some new work 
' at no very distant period.' Who would not be a 
bard ? — that is to say, if all critics would be so polite. 
However, the others will pay me off, I doubt not, 
for this gentle encouragement. If so, have at 'em ? 
By the by, I have written at my intervals of leisure, 
after two in the morning, 380 lines in blank verse, 
of Bosworth Field. I have luckily got Hutton's 
account. I shall extend the poem to eight or ten 
books, and shall have finished it in a year. Whether 
it will be published or not must depend on circum- 
stances. So much for egotism ! My laurels have 
turned my brain, but the cooling acids of forth- 
coming criticisms will probably restore me to mo- 

" Southwell is a damned place — I have done 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 171 

with it — at least in all probability: excepting 
yourself, I esteem no one within its precincts. You 
were my only rational companion ; and in plain 
truth, I had more respect for you than the whole 
bevy, with whose foibles I amused myself in com- 
pliance with their prevailing propensities. You gave 
yourself more trouble with me and my manuscripts 
than a thousand dolls would have done. Believe 
me, I have not forgotten your good nature in this 
circle of sin, and one day I trust I shall be able to 
evince my gratitude. Adieu, yours, &:c. 
" P. S. llemeniber me to Dr. P." 

Letteh 17. TO MISS . 

" London, August 11. 1807. 

" On Sunday next I set off for the Highlands.* 
A friend of mine accompanies me in my carriage to 
Edinburgh. There we shall leave it, and proceed 
in a tandem (a species of open carriage) through the 
western passes to Inverary, where we shall purchase 
shelties, to enable us to view places inaccessible to 
vehicular conveyances. On the coast we shall hire 
a vessel, and visit the most remarkable of the He- 
brides ; and, if we have time and favourable weather, 

* This plan (which he never put in practice) had been 
talked of by him before he left Southwell, and is thus noticed 
in a letter of his fair correspondent to her brotlier : — " How 
can you ask if Lord 15. is going to visit the Highlands in the 
summer? Wliy, don't you know that he never knows his own 
mind for ten minutes together? I tell him he is as fickle as the 
winds, and as uncertain as the waves." 

172 NOTICES OF THE 1807 

mean to sail as far as Iceland, only 300 miles from 
tlie northern extremity of Caledonia, to peep at 
Hecla. This last intention you will keep a secret, 
as my nice mamma would imagine I was on a 
Voyage of Discovery, and raise the accustomed ma' 
ternal warwhoop. 

" Last week I swam in the Thames from Lambeth 
through the two bridges, Westminster and Black- 
fi'iars, a distance, including the different turns and 
tacks made on the way, of three miles ! You see I 
am in excellent training in case of a sqtiall at sea. 
I mean to collect aU the Erse traditions, poems, &c. 
&c., and translate, or expand the subject to fill a 
volume, which may appear next spring under the 
denomination of ' The Highland Harjy,' or some 
title equally picturesque. Of Bosworth Field, one 
book is finished, another just began. It will be a 
work of three or four years, and most probably never 
conclude. What would you say to some stanzas on 
Mount Hecla? they would be written at least with 
fire. How is the immortal Bran ? and the Phcenix 
of canine quadrupeds. Boatswain ? I have lately 
purchased a thorough-bred bull-dog, worthy to be 
the coadjutor of the aforesaid celestials — his name 
is Smut ! — ' Bear it, ye breezes, on your halmy 

" Write to me before I set off, I conjure you, by 
the fifth rib of your grandfather. Ridge goes on 
well with the books — I thought that worthy had 
not done much in the country. In town they have 
been very successful ; Carpenter (Moore's publisher) 
told me a ^q-^ days ago they sold all theirs imme- 

1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 173 

diately, and had several enquiries made since, which, 
from tlie books being gone, they coukl not supply. 
The Duke of York, the Marchioness of Headfort, the 
Duchess of Gordon, &c. &c., were among the pur- 
chasers ; and Crosby says, the circulation will be still 
more extensive in the winter, the summer season 
being very bad for a sale, as most people are absent 
from London. However, they have gone off ex- 
tremely well altogether. I shall pass very near you 
on my journey through Newark, but cannot approach. 
Don't tell this to Mrs. B., who supposes I travel a 
different road. If you have a letter, order it to be 
left at Ridge's shop, where I shall call, or the post- 
office, Newark, about six or eight in the evening. If 
your brother would ride over, I should be devilish 
glad to see him — he can return the same night, or 
sup with us and go home the next morning — the 
Kingston Arms is my inn. 

" Adieu, yours ever, 

" Byron." 

Letter 18. TO MISS . 

" Trinity College, Cambridge, October 26. 1807. 

*' My dear Elizabeth, 

" Fatigued with sitting up till four in the morn- 
ing for the last two days at hazard*, I take up my 

* We observe here, as in other parts of his early letters, that 
sort of display and boast of rakishness which is but too com- 
mon a folly at this period of life, when the young aspirant to 
manhood persuades himself that to be profligate is to be manly. 
Unluckily, this boyish desire of being thought worse than he 
really was, remained with Lord Byron, as did some other 

174 NOTICES OF THE 1807, 

pen to enquire how your highness and the rest of my 
female acquaintance at the seat of archiepiscopal 
grandeur go on. I know I deserve a scolding for 
my negligence in not writing more frequently ; but 
racing up and down the country for these last three 
months, how was it possible to fulfil the duties of a 
correspondent ? Fixed at last for six weeks, I 
write, as thin as ever (not having gained an ounce 
since my reduction), and rather in better humour ; 
— but, after all, Southwell was a detestable residence. 
Thank St. Dominica, I have done with it : I have 
been twice within eight miles of it, but could not 
prevail on myself to suffocate in its heavy atmosphere. 
This place is wretched enough — a villanous chaos 
of din and drunkenness, nothing but hazard and 
burgundy, hunting, mathematics, and Newmarket, 
riot and racing. Yet it is a paradise compared 
with the eternal dulness of Southwell. Oh ! the 
misery of doing nothing but make love, enemiesy 
and verses. 

" Next January, (but this is entre nous only, and 
pray let it be so, or my maternal persecutor will be 
throwing her tomahawk at any of my curious pro- 
jects,) I am going to sea for four or five months, with 
my cousin Capt. Bettesworth, who ccnmiands the 
Tartar, the finest frigate in the navy. I have seen 

feelings and foibles of his boyhood, long after the period when, 
with others, they are past and forgotten ; and liis mind, in- 
deed, was but beginning to outgrow them, when he was 
snatched away. 


most scenes, and wish to look at a naval life. We 
are going probably to the Mediterranean, or to the 
West Indies, or — to the d — 1 ; and it' there is a 
possibility of taking me to the latter, Bettesworth 
will do it ; for he has received four and twenty 
wounds in difterent places, and at this moment pos- 
sesses a letter from the late Lord Nelson, stating 
Bettesworth as the only officer in the navy who had 
more wounds than himself. 

" I have got a new friend, the finest in the world, 
a tame hear. When I brought him here, they asked 
me what I meant to do with him, and my reply was, 
' he should sit for a felloivsliip.' Sherard will explain 
the meaning of the sentence, if it is ambiguous. 
This answer delighted them not. We have several 
parties here, and this evening a large assortment of 
jockeys, gamblers, boxers, authors, parsons, and 
poets, sup with me, — a precious mixture, but they 
go on well together ; and for me, I am a spice of 
every thing except a jockey ; by the by, I was dis- 
mounted again the other day. 

Thank your brother in my name for his treatise. 
I have written 2\^ pages of a novel, — one poem of 
380 lines*, to be published (without my name) in 
a few weeks, with notes, — 560 lines of Bosworth 
Field, and 250 lines of another poem in rhyme, be- 
sides half a dozen smaller pieces. The poem to be 

* The poem afterwards enlarged and published under the 
title of " English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." It appears 
from this that the ground-work of that satire had been laid 
some time before the appearance of the article in the Edinburgh 

176 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

published is a Satire. Apropos, I have been praised 
to the skies in the Critical Review *, and abused 
greatly in another publication, -f- So much the 
better, they tell me, for the sale of the book : it 
keeps up controversy, and prevents it being forgotten. 
Besides, the first men of all ages have had their 
share, nor do the humblest escape ; — so I bear it 
like a philosopher. It is odd two opposite critiques 
came out on the same da}^, and out of five pages of 
abuse, my censor only quotes tivo lines from different 
poems, in support of his opinion. Now, the proper 
way to cut up, is to quote long passages, and make 
them appear absurd, because simple allegation is no 
proof. On the other hand, there are seven pages of 
praise, and more than /«^ modesty will allow, said on 
the subject. Adieu. » 

" P. S. Write, write, write ! I ! " 

It was at the beginning of the following year that 
an acquaintance commenced between Lord Byron 
and a gentleman, related to his family by marriage, 

* Sept. 1807. This Review, in pronouncing upon the 
young author's future career, showed itself somewhat more 
" prophet-like " than the great oracle of the North. In noticing 
tlie Elegy on Newstead Abbey, the writer says, " We could 
not but hail, with something of prophetic rapture, the hope 
conveyed in the closing stanza : — 

" Haply thy sun, emerging, yet may shine, 

Thee to irradiate with meridian ray," &c. &c. 

•f- The first number of a monthly publication called " The 
Satirist," in which there appeared afterwards some low and 
personal attacks upon him. 



Mr. Dallas,— the author of some novels, popular, I 
believe, in their day, and also of a sort of Memoir 
of the noble Poet, published soon after his death, 
which, from being founded chiefly on original cor- 
respondence, is the most authentic and trust-worthy 
of any that have yet appeared. In the letters ad- 
dressed by Lord Byron to this gentleman, among 
many details, curious in a literary point of view, we 
find, what is much more important for our present 
purpose, some particulars illustrative of the opinions 
which he had formed, at this time of his life, on the 
two subjects most connected with the early formation 
of character — morals and religion. 

It is but rarely that infidelity or scepticism finds 
an entrance into youthful minds. That readiness to 
take the future upon trust, which is the charm of this 
period of life, would naturally, indeed, make it the 
season of belief as well as of hope. There are also 
then, still fresh in the mind, the impressions of early 
religious culture, which, even in those who begin 
soonest to question their faith, give way but slowly 
to the encroachments of doubt, and, in the mean 
time, extend the benefit of their moral restraint 
over a portion of life when it is acknowledged such 
restraints are most necessary. If exemption from 
the checks of religion be, as infidels themselves 
allow *, a state of freedom from responsibility dan- 

* " Look out for a people entirely destitute of religion : if 
you find them at all, be assured that they are but few degrees 
removed from brutes." — Hume. 

The reader will find this avowal of Hume turned eloquently 
to the advantage of religion in a Collection of Sermons, 

VOL. I. N 


o-erous at all times, it must be peculiarly so in that 
season of temptation, youth, when the passions are 
sufficiently disposed to usurp a latitude for them- 
selves, without taking a licence also from infidelity 
to enlarge their range. It is, therefore, fortunate 
that, for the causes just stated, the inroads of scep- 
ticism and disbelief should be seldom felt in the 
mind till a period of life when the character, already 
formed, is out of the reach of their disturbing influ- 
ence, — when, being the result, however erroneous, 
of thought and reasoning, they are likely to par- 
take of the sobriety of the process by which they 
were acquired, and, being considered but as mat- 
ters of pure speculation, to have as little share in 
determining the mind towards evil as, too often, 
the most orthodox creed has, at the same age, in 
influencing it towards good. 

While, in this manner, the moral qualities of the 
unbeliever himself are guarded from some of the mis- 
chiefs that might, at an earlier age, attend such doc- 
trines, the danger also of his communicating the 
infection to others is, for reasons of a similar nature, 
considerably diminished. The same vanity or daring 
which may have prompted the youthful sceptic's opi- 
nions, will lead him likewise, it is probable, rashly 
and irreverently to avow them, without regard either 
to the effect of his example on those around him, or 
to the odium which, by such an avowal,he entails irre- 

cntitled, " The Connexion of Christianity with Human Hap- 
piness," written by one of Lord Byron's earliest and most 
valued friends, the Rev. William Harness 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 179 

parably on himself. But, at a riper age, these con- 
sequences are, in general, more cautiously weighed. 
The infidel, if at all considerate of the happiness of 
others, will naturally pause before he chases from 
their hearts a hope of which his own feels the want so 
desolately. If regardful only of himself, he will no 
less naturally shrink from the promulgation of 
opinions which, in no age, have men uttered with 
impunity. In either case there is a tolerably good 
security for his silence ; — for, should benevolence 
not restrain him from making converts of others, 
prudence may, at least, prevent him from making a 
martyr of himself. 

Unfortunately, Lord Byron was an exception to 
the usual course of such lapses. With him, the canker 
showed itself " in the morn and dew of youth," when 
the effect of such " blastments" is, for every reason, 
most fatal, — and, in addition to the real misfortune 
of being an unbeliever at any age, he exhibited the 
rare and melancholy spectacle of an unbelieving 
schoolboy. The same prematurity of developement 
which brought his passions and genius so early into 
action, enabled him also to anticipate this worst, 
dreariest result of reason ; and at the very time of 
life when a spirit and temperament like his most re- 
quired control, those checks, which religious pre- 
possessions best supply, were almost wholly wanting. 

We have seen, in those two Addresses to the Deity 
which I have selected from among his unpublished 
poems, and still more strongly In a passage of the 
Catalogue of his studies, at what a boyish age the 
authority of all systems and sects was avowedly 

N 2 



shaken off by his enquiring spirit. Yet, even in these, 
there is a fervour of adoration mingled with his de- 
fiance of creeds, through which the piety implanted 
in his nature (as it is deeply in all poetic natures) 
unequivocally shows itself; and had he then fallen 
within the reach of such guidance and example as 
would have seconded and fostered these natural dis- 
positions, the licence of opinion into which he after- 
wards broke loose might have been averted. His 
scepticism, if not wholly removed, might have been 
softened down into that humble doubt, which, so far 
from being inconsistent with a religious spirit, is, 
perhaps, its best guard against presumption and un- 
charitableness ; and, at all events, even if his own 
views of religion had not been brightened or elevated, 
he would have learned not wantonly to cloud or dis- 
turb those of others. But there was no such monitor 
near him. After his departure from Southwell, he 
had not a single friend or relative to whom he could 
look up with respect ; but was thrown alone on the 
world, with his passions and his pride, to revel in the 
fatal discovery which he imagined himself to have 
made of the nothingness of the future, and the all- 
paramount claims of the present. By singular ill 
fortune, too, the individual who, among all his college 
friends, had tal-:en the strongest hold on his admir- 
ation and affection, and whose loss he afterwards 
lamented with brotherly tenderness, was, to the same 
extent as himself, if not more strongly, a sceptic. 
Of this remarkable young man, Matthews, who was 
so early snatched away, and whose career in after- 
life, had it been at all answerable to the extraordi- 



nary promise of his youtli, must have placed him 
upon a level with the first men of his day, a Memoir 
was, at one time, intended to be published by his 
relatives; and to Lord Byron, among others of his 
college friends, application, for assistance in the 
task, was addressed. The letter which this circum- 
stance drew forth from the noble poet, besides con- 
taining many amusing traits of his friend, affords 
such an insight into his own habits of life at this 
period, that, though infringing upon the chronologi- 
cal order of his correspondence, I shall insert it here. 

Letter, 19. TO MR. MURRAY. 

" Ravenna, 9bre 12. 1820. 

" What you said of the late Charles Skinner 
Matthews has set me to my recollections ; but I 
have not been able to turn up any thing which would 
do for the purposed Memoir of his brother, — even 
if he had previously done enough during his life to 
sanction the introduction of anecdotes so merely 
personal. He was, however, a veiy extraordinary 
man, and would have been a great one. No one 
ever succeeded in a more surpassing degree than he 
did, as far as he went. He was indolent, too ; but 
whenever he stripped, he overthrew all antagonists. 
His conquests will be found registered at Cam- 
bridge, particulai'ly his Downing one, which was 
hotly and highly contested, and yet easily won. 
Hobhouse was his most intimate friend, and can tell 
you more of him than any man. William Bankes 
also a great deal. I myself recollect more of his 
oddities than of his academical qualities, for we 

N 3 

182 NOTICES OF THE 1808, 

lived most together at a very idle period of nvj life. 
When I went up to Trinity, in 1805, at the age of 
seventeen and a half, I was miserable and untoward 
to a degree. I was wretched at leaving Harrow, to 
which I had become attached during the two last 
years of my stay there ; wretched at going to Cam- 
bridge instead of Oxford (there were no rooms 
vacant at Christ-church) ; wretched from some private 
domestic circumstances of different kinds, and con- 
sequently about as unsocial as a wolf taken from the 
troop. So that, although I knew Matthews, and met 
him often then at Bankes's, (who was my collegiate 
pastor, and master, and patron,) and at Rhode's, 
Milnes's, Price's, Dick's, Macnamara's, Farrell's, 
Galley Knight's, and others of that set of contem- 
poraries, yet I was neither intimate with him nor 
with any one else, except my old schoolfellow 
Edward Long (with whom I used to pass the day in 
riding and swimming), and William Bankes, who was 
good-naturedly tolerant of my ferocities. 

" It was not till 1807, after I had been upwards of 
a year away from Cambridge, to which I had re- 
turned again to reside for my degree, that I became 
one of Matthews's familiars, by means of H * *, who, 
after hating me for two years, because I wore a 
xvliite hat, and a fjrey coat, and rode a grey horse 
(as he says himself), took me into his good graces 
because I had written some poetry. I had always 
lived a good deal, and got drunk occasionally, in 
their company — but now we became really friends 
in a morning. Matthews, however, was not at this 
period resident in College. I met him chiefly in 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYRON-. 183 

London, and at uncertain periods at Cambridge. 
H * *, in the mean time, did great tilings : he 
fomided the Cambridge ' Whig Club' (which he 
seems to have forgotten), and the ' Amicable 
Society,' which was dissolved in consequence of the 
members constantly quarrelling, and made himself 
very popular with ' us youth,' and no less formi- 
dable to all tutors, professors, and beads of Colleges. 
William B * * was gone ; while he stayed, he ruled 
the roast — or rather the roasting — and was father 
of all mischiefs. 

" Matthews and I, meeting in London, and else- 
where, became great cronies. He was not good 
tempered — nor am I — but with a little tact his 
temper was manageable, and I thought him so 
superior a man, that I was willing to sacrifice some- 
thing to his humours, which were often, at the same 
time, amusing and provoking. What became of his 
papers (and he certainly had many), at the time of 
his death, was never known. I mention this by the 
way, fearing to skip it over, and as he tvrote remai'k- 
ably well, both in Latin and English. We went 
down to Newstead together, where 1 had got a famous 
cellar, and Monks dresses from a masquerade ware- 
house. We were a company of some seven or eight, 
with an occasional neighbour or so for visiters, and 
used to sit up late in our friars' dresses, drinking 
burgundy, claret, champagne, and what not, out of 
the skull-cup, and all sorts of glasses, and buffooning 
all round the house, in our conventual garments. 
Matthews alw^ays denominated me ' the Abbot,' and 
never called me by any other name in his good 

N I- 

184- NOTICES OF THE 1808, 

humours, to the day of his death. The harmony of 
these our symposia was somewhat interrupted, a few 
days after our assembling, by ISIatthews's threatening 
to throw * * out of a ivuidow, in consequence of 1 
know not what commerce of jokes ending in this 
epigram. * * came to me and said, that ' his respect 
and regard for me as host woukl not permit him to 
call out any of my guests, and that he should go to 
town next morning.' He did. It was in vain that 
I represented to him that the window was not high, 
and tliat the turf under it was particularly soft. 
Away he went. 

•' Matthews and myself had travelled down from 
London together, talking all the way incessantly 
upon one single topic. When we got to Lough- 
borough, I know not what chasm had made us 
diverge for a moment to some other subject, at 
which he was indignant. ' Come, ' said he, ' don't 
let us break through — let us go on as we began, to 
our journey's end;' and so he continued, and was as 
entertaining as ever to the very end. He had 
previously occupied, during my year's absence from 
Cambridge, my rooms in Trinity, with the furniture ; 
and Jones, the tutor, in his odd way, had said, on 
putting him in, ' Mr. Matthews, I recommend to 
your attention not to damage any of the movables, 
for Lord Byron, Sir, is a young man of tumultuous 
passions.' Matthews was delighted with this ; and 
whenever anybody came to visit him, begged them 
to handle the very door with caution ; and used to 
repeat Jones's admonition in his tone and manner. 
There was a large mirror in the room, on which he 


remarked, ' that he thought liis friends were grown 
uncommonly assiduous in coming to see him, but he 
soon discovered that they only came to see themselves' 
Jones's phrase oi ^ tumultuous passions,' and the whole 
scene, had put him into such good humour, that I 
verily believe that I owed to it a portion of his good 

"When at Newstead, somebody by accident rubbed 
against one of his white silk stockings, one day be- 
fore dinner ; of course the gentleman apologised. 
' Sir,' answered Matthews, ' it may be all very well 
for you, who have a great many silk stockings, to 
dirty other people's ; but to me, who have only this 
one pair, which I have put on in honour of the Abbot 
here, no apology can compensate for such careless- 
ness ; besides, the expense of washing.' He had the 
same sort of droll sardonic way about every thing. 
A wild Irishman, named F * *, one evening begin- 
ning to say something at a large supper at Cambridge, 
Matthews roared out ' Silence !' and then, pointing 
to F * *, cried out, in the words of the oracle, ' Orson 
is endoioed with reason.' You may easily suppose 
that Orson lost what reason he had acquired, on 
hearing this compliment. When H * * published his 
volume of poems, the Miscellany (which Matthews 
would call the ' 3Iiss-sell-ani/'), all that could be 
drawn from him was, tliat the preface was 'extremely 
like Walsh.' H ** thought this at first a compli- 
ment ; but we never could make out what it was *, 

* The only thing remarkable about Walsh's preface is, that 
Dr. Johnson praises it as " very judicious," but is, at tlie 
same time, silent respecting the poems to which it is prefixed. 

186 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

for all we know of Walsh is his Ode to King William, 
and Pope's epithet of ' knowhig Walsh.' When the 
Newstead party broke up for London, H * * and 
Matthews, who were the greatest friends possible, 
agreed, for a whim, to walk together to town. They 
quarrelled by the way, and actually walked the 
latter half of their journey, occasionally passing and 
repassing, without speaking. When Matthews had 
got to Highgate, he had spent all his money but 
three-pence halfpenn}', and determined to spend 
that also in a pint of beer, which I believe he was 
drinking before a public-house, as H * * passed him 
(still without speaking) for the last time on their 
route. They were reconciled in London again. 

" One of Matthews's passions was ' the Fancy;* 
and he sparred uncommonly well. But he always got 
beaten in rows, or combats with the bare fist. In 
swimming, too, he swam well ; but with effort and 
labour, and too high out of the water ; so that Scrope 
Davies and myself, of whom he was therein some- 
what emulous, always told him that he would be 
drowned if ever he came to a difficult pass in the 
water. He was so ; but surely Scrope and myself 
would have been most heartily glad that 

" ' the Dean had lived, 
And our prediction proved a lie.' 

" His head was uncommonly handsome, very like 
what Popes was in his youth. 

" His voice, and laugh, and features, are strongly 
resembled by his brother Henry's, if Henry be he of 
Kings College. His passion for boxing was so great, 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BVROX. 187 

that he actually wanted me to match him with Dog- 
herty (whom I had backed and made the match tor 
against Tom Belcher), and I saw them spar together 
at my own lodgings with the gloves on. As he was 
bent upon it, I would have backed Dogherty to please 
him, but the match went off. It was of course to 
have been a private fight, in a private room. 

" On one occasion, being too late to go home and 
dress, he was equipped by a friend (Mr. Baillie, I 
believe,) in a magnificently fashionable and somewhat 
exaggerated shirt and neckcloth. He proceeded 
to the Opera, and took his station in Fops' Alley. 
During the interval between the opera and the 
ballet, an acquaintance took his station by him and 
saluted him: ' Come round,' said Matthews, ' come 
round.' — 'Why should I come round?' said the other ; 
'you have only to turn your head — I am close by you.' 
— ' That is exactly what I cannot do,' said Matthews; 
' don't you see the state I am in?' pointing to his 
buckram shirt collar and inflexible cravat, — and 
there he stood with his head always in the same 
perpendicular position during the whole spectacle. 

" One evening, after dining together, as we were 
going to the Opera, I happened to have a spare 
Opera ticket (as subscriber to a box), and pre- 
sented it to Matthews. ' Now, sir,' said he to 
Hobhouse afterwards, ' this I call courteous in the 
Abbot — another man would never have thought 
that I might do better with half a guinea than throw 
it to a door-keeper ; — but here is a man not only 
asks me to dinner, but gives me a ticket for the 
theatre.' These were only his oddities, for no man 

183 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

was more liberal, or more honourable in all his 
doings and dealings, than Matthews. He gave Hob- 
house and me, before we set out for Constantinople, 
a most splendid entertainment, to which we did 
ample justice. One of his fancies was dining at all 
sorts of out-of-the-way places. Somebody popped 
upon him in I know not what coffee-house in the 
Strand — and what do you think was the attraction ? 
Why, that he paid a shilling (I think) to dijie toith 
his hat on. This he called his ' hat house,' and 
used to boast of the comfort of being covered at 

" When Sir Henry Smith was expelled from 
Cambridge for a row with a tradesman named 
' Hiron,' Matthews solaced himself Avith shouting 
under Hiron's windows every evening, 

" ' Ah me ! what perils do environ 

The man who meddles with hot Iliroii.^ 

" He was also of that band of profane scoffers 
who, under the auspices of * * * *, used to rouse 
Lort Mansel (late Bishop of Bristol) from his slum- 
bers in the lodge of Trinity ; and when he appeared 
at the window foaming with wrath, and crying out, 
' I know you, gentlemen, I know you ! ' were wont 
to reply, ' We beseech thee to hear us, good Lort' 
— 'Good Lort deliver us ! ' (Lort was his Christian 
name.) As he was very free in his speculations 
upon all kinds of subjects, although by no means 
either dissolute or intemperate in his conduct, and 
as I was no less independent, our conversation and 
correspondence used to alarm our friend Hobhouse 
to a considerable degree. 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 183 

*' You must be almost tired of my packets, which 
will have cost a mint of postage. 

" Salute Gifford and all my friends. 

" Yours, &c." 

As already, before his acquaintance with Mr. 
Matthews commenced. Lord Byron had begun to 
bewilder himself In the mazes of scepticism, it 
would be unjust to Impute to this gentleman any 
further share in the formation of his noble friend's 
opinions than what arose from the natural influence 
of example and sympathy ; — an Influence which, as 
It was felt perhaps equally on both sides, rendered 
the contagion of their doctrines, in a great measure, 
reciprocal. In addition, too, to this community of 
sentiment on such subjects, they were both, In no 
ordinary degree, possessed by that dangerous spirit 
of ridicule, whose Impulses even the pious cannot 
always restrain, and which draws the mind on, by a 
sort of irresistible fascination, to disport itself most 
wantonly on the brink of all that is most solemn and 
awful. It is not wonderful, therefore, that, In such 
society, the opinions of the noble poet should have 
been, at least, accelerated In that direction to 
which their bias already leaned ; and though he 
cannot be said to have become thus confirmed In 
these doctrines, — as neither now, nor at any time 
of his life, was he a confirmed unbeliever, — he had 
undoubtedly learned to feel less uneasy under his 
scepticism, and even to mingle somewhat of boast 
and of levity with his expression of it. At the very 
first onset of his correspondence with Mr. Dallas, 

190 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

we find him proclaiming his sentiments on all such 
subjects with a flippancy and confidence far different 
from the tone in which he had first ventured on his 
doubts, — from that fervid sadness, as of a heart 
loth to part with its illusions, which breathes through 
every line of those prayers, that, but a year before, 
his pen had traced. 

Here again, however, we should recollect, there 
must be a considerable share of allowance for his 
usual tendency to make the most and the worst of 
his own obliquities. There occurs, indeed, in his 
first letter to Mr. Dallas, an instance of this strange 
ambition, — the very reverse, it must be allowed, of 
hj'pocrisy, — which led him to court, rather than 
avoid, the reputation of profligacy, and to put, at all 
times, the worst face on his own character and con- 
duct. His new correspondent having, in introducing 
himself to his acquaintance, passed some compli- 
ments on the tone of moral and charitable feeling 
which breathed through one of his poems, had 
added, that it " brought to his mind another noble 
author, who was not only a fine poet, orator, and 
historian, but one of the closest reasoners we have 
on the truth of that religion of which forgiveness is a 
prominent principle, the great and good Lord Lyttle- 
ton, whose fame will never die. His son," adds Mr. 
Dallas, " to whom he had transmitted genius, but 
not virtue, spai'kled for a moment and went out like 
a star, — and v/ith him the title became extinct." 
To this Lord Byron answers in the following 
letter: — 



Letter 20. TO MR. DALLAS. 

« Dorant's Hotel, Albemarle Street, Jan. 20. 1 SOS. 
" Sir, 

" Your letter was not received till this morning, 
I presume from being addressed to me in Notts., 
where I have not resided since last June, and as the 
date is the 6th, you will excuse the delay of my 

" If the little volume you mention has given plea- 
sure to the author of Fercival and Aubrey, I am 
sufficiently repaid by his praise. Though our pe- 
riodical censors have been uncommonly lenient, 1 
confess a tribute from a man of acknowledged genius 
is still more flattering. But I am afraid I should 
forfeit all claim to candour, if I did not decline such 
praise as I do not deserve ; and this is, I am sorry 
to say, the case in the present instance. 

" My compositions speak for themselves, and must 
stand or fall by their own worth or demerit : thus far 
I feel highly gratified by your favourable opinion. 
But my pretensions to virtue are unluckily so few, 
that though I should be happy to merit, I cannot 
accept, your applause in that respect. One passage 
in your letter struck me forcibly: you mention the 
two Lords Lyttleton in a manner they respectively 
deserve, and will be surprised to hear the person 
who is now addressing you has been frequently 
compared to the latter. I know I am injuring myself 
in your esteem by this avowal, but the circumstance 
was so remarkable from your observation, that I 
cannot help relating the fact. The events of my 
short life have been of so singular a nature, that, 

192 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

though the pride commonly called honour has, and 
1 trust ever will, prevent me from disgracing my 
name by a mean or cowardly action, I have been 
already held up as the votary of licentiousness, and 
the disciple of infidelity. How far justice may have 
dictated this accusation, I cannot pretend to say; but, 
like the gentleman to whom my religious friends, in 
the warmth of their charity, have already devoted 
me, I am made worse than 1 really am. However, 
to quit myself (the worst theme I could pitch upon), 
and return to my poems, I cannot sufficiently express 
my thanks, and I hope I shall some day have an 
opportunity of rendering them in person. A second 
edition is now in the press, with some additions and 
considerable omissions ; you will allow me to present 
you with a copy. The Critical, Monthly, and Anti- 
Jacobin Reviews have been ver}^ indulgent ; but the 
Eclectic has pronounced a furious Philippic, not 
against the book but the author, where you will find 
all I have mentioned asserted by a reverend divine 
who wrote the critique. 

Your name and connection with our family have 
been long known to me, and I hope your person will 
be not less so : you will find me an excellent com- 
pound of a ' Brainless ' and a ' Stanhope.' * I am 
afraid you will hardly be able to read this, for my 
hand is almost as bad as my character ; but you will 
find me, as legibly as possible, 

" Your obliged and obedient servant, 

" Byron." 

* Characters in the novel called Peraval. 


There is here, evident! 3^ a degree of pride in being 
thought to resemble the wicked Lord Ly ttleton ; and, 
lest his known irregularities should not bear him out 
in the pretension, he refers mysteriously, as was his 
habit, to certain untold events of his life, to warrant 
the pai-allel.* Mr. Dallas, who seems to have been 
but little prepared for such a reception of his com- 
pliments, escapes out of the difficulty by transferring 
to the young lord's " candour " the praise he had so 
thanklessly bestowed on his morals in general ; 
adding, that from the design Lord Byron had ex- 
pressed in his preface of resigning the service of the 
Muses for a different vocation, he had " conceived 
him bent on pursuits which lead to the character of 
a legislator and statesman ; — had imagined him at 
one of the universities, training himself to habits 
of reasoning and eloquence, and storing up a large 
fimd of history and law." It is in reply to this letter 
that the exposition of the noble poet's opinions, to 
which I have above alluded, is contained. 

Letter 21. TO MR. DALLAS. 

" Dorant's, January 21. 1808. 

" Sir, 

" Whenever leisure and inclination permit me 

the pleasure of a visit, I shall feel truly gratified in 

a personal acquaintance with one whose mind has 

been long known to me in his writings. 

• This appeal to the imagination of his correspondent was 
not altogether without effect. — "I considered," says Mn 
Dallas, " these letters, thovgh evidently groiintled on some oc- 
currences in the still earlier part of Ms life, rather n'ijeux d' esprit 
than as a true portrait." 

VOL. I. O 

191' NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

" You are so far correct in your conjecture, that I 
am a member of the University of Cambridge, where 
I shall take my degree of A. M. this term ; but 
were reasoning, eloquence, or virtue, the objects of 
my search, Granta is not their metropolis, nor is the 
place of her situation an ' El Dorado,' far less an 
Utopia. The intellects of her children are as stag- 
nant as her Cam, and their pursuits limited to the 
church — not of Christ, but of the nearest benefice. 

" As to my reading, I believe I may aver, without 
hyperbole, it has been tolerably extensive in the 
historical ; so that few nations exist, or have ex- 
isted, with whose records I am not in some degree 
acquainted, from Herodotus down to Gibbon. Of 
the classics, I know about as much as most school- 
boys after a discipline of thirteen years ; of the law 
of the land as much as enables me to keep ' within 
the statute ' — to use the poacher's vocabulary. I did 
study the ' Spirit of Laws ' and the Law of Nations ; 
but when I saw the latter violated every month, I 
gave up my attempts at so useless an accomplish- 
ment ; — of geography, I have seen more land on 
maps than I should wish to traverse on foot ; — of 
mathematics, enough to give me the headach 
without clearing the part affected ; — of philosophy, 
astronomy, and metaphysics, more than I can com- 
prehend * ; and of common sense so little, that I 

* He appears to have had in his memory Voltaire's lively 
account of Zadig's learning : " 11 savait de la metaphysiqiie 
ce qu'on en a su dans tous les ages, — c'est a dire, fort peu tie 
chose," &c. 


mean to leave a Byronian prize at each of our ' Al- 
mae Matres ' for the first discovery, — though I rather 
fear that of the longitude will precede iU 

" I once thought myself a philosopher, and talked 
nonsense with great decorum : I defied pain, and 
preached up equanimity. For some time this did 
very well, for no one was in pain for me but my 
friends, and none lost their patience but my hearers. 
At last, a fall from my horse convinced me bodily 
suffering was an evil ; and the worst of an argument 
overset my maxims and my temper at the same 
moment : so I quitted Zeno for Aristippus, and con- 
ceive that pleasure constitutes the to vcaXov. I hold 
virtue, in general, or the virtues severally, to be 
only in the disposition, each a feeling, not a prin- 
ciple.* I believe truth the prime attribute of the 
Deity, and death an eternal sleep, at least of the 
body. You have here a brief compendium of the 
sentiments of the wicked George Lord Byron ; and, 
till I get a new suit, you will perceive 1 am badly 
clothed. I remain," &c. 

Though such was, doubtless, the general cast of his 
opinions at this time, it must be recollected, before 
we attach any particular importance to the details of 
his creed, that, in addition to the temptation, never 
easily resisted by him, of displaying his wit at the 
expense of his character, he was here addressing 

* The doctrine of Ilume, who resolves all virtue into senti- 
ment. — See his " Enquiry concerning the Principles of 

o 2 

196 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

a person who, though, no doubt, well meaning, was 
evidently one of those officious, self-satisfied advisers, 
whom it was the delight of Lord Byron at all times 
to astonish and inystify. The tricks which, v/hen 
a boy, he played upon the Nottingham quack, La- 
vender, were but the first of a long series with which, 
through life, he amused himself, at the expense of 
all the numerous quacks whom his celebrity and 
sociability drew around him. 

The terms in which he speaks of the university 
in this letter agree in spirit with many passages both 
in the " Hours of Idleness," and his early Satire, and 
}>rove that, while Harrow was remembered by him 
with more affection, perhaps, than respect, Cambridge 
had not been able to inspire him with either. This 
feeling of distaste to his " nui'sing mother" he enter- 
tained in common with some of the most illustrious 
names of English literature. So great was Milton's 
hatred to Cambridge, that he had even conceived, 
says Warton, a dislike to the face of the country, — 
to the fields in its neighbourhood. The poet Gray 
thus speaks of the same university : — " Surely, it 
was of this place, now Cambridge, but formerly 
known by the name of Babylon, that the prophet 
spoke when he said, ' The wild beasts of the deserts 
shall dwell there, and their houses shall be full of 
doleful creatures, and owls shall build there, and 
satyrs shall dance there,' " Sec. Sec. The bitter re- 
collections which Gibbon retained of Oxford, his 
o\vn pen has recorded ; and the cool contempt by 
which Locke avenged himself on the bigotry of 


the same seat of learning is even still more me- 

In poets, such distasteful recollections of their 
collegiate life may well be thought to have their 
origin in that antipathy to the trammels of discipline, 
Avhich is not unusually observable among the cha- 
racteristics of genius, and which might be regarded, 
indeed, as a sort of instinct, implanted in it for its 
own preservation, if there be any truth in the opinion 
that a course of learned education is hurtful to the 
freshness and elasticity of the imaginative faculty. 
A right reverend writer f , but little to be suspected 
of any desire to depreciate academical studies, not 
only puts the question, " Whether the usual forms 
of learning be not rather injurious to the true poet, 
than really assisting to him ? " but appears strongly 
disposed to answer it in the affirmative, — giving, as 
an instance, in favour of this conclusion, the classic 
Addison, who, " as appears," he says, " from some 
original efforts in the sublime, allegorical way, had 
no want of natural talents for the gi-eater poetry, — 
which yet were so restrained and disabled by his 
constant and superstitious study of the old classics, 
that he was, in fact, but a very ordinary poet." 

It was, no doubt, under some such impression of 
the malign influence of a collegiate atmosphere upon 
genius, that Milton, in speaking of Cambridge, gave 

* See bis Lutter to Anthony Collins, 1703-4, where he 
speaks of " those sliarp ht-ads, which were for damning his 
book, because of its discouraging the staple conmiodity of iLe 
place, which in his time was called hogs' shearing." 

t Il-.nd, " Discourses on Poetical Imitation." 

O 3 


vent to the exclamation, that it was " a place quite 
incompatible with the votaries of Phoebus," and that 
Lord Byron, versifying a thought of his own, in the 
letter to Mr. Dallas just given, declares, 

" Her Helicon is duller than her Cam." 

The poet Dryden, too, who, like Milton, had in- 
curred some mark of disgrace at Cambridge, seems 
to have entertained but little more veneration for his 
Alma Mater ; and the verses in which he has praised 
Oxford at the expense of his own university * were, 
it is probable, dictated much less by admiration of 
the one than by a desire to spite and depreciate the 

Nor is it genius only that thus rebels against the 
discipline of the schools. Even the tamer quality 
of Taste, which it is the professed object of classi- 
cal studies to cultivate, is sometimes found to turn 
restive under the pedantic manege to which it is 
subjected. It was not till released from the duty of 
reading Virgil as a task, that Gray could feel him- 
self capable of enjoying the beauties of that poet ; 
and Lord Byron was, to the last, unable to van- 
quish a similar prepossession, with which the same 
sort of school association had inoculated him, against 

" Though Time hath taught 

My mind to meditate what then it learn'd, 
Yet such the fix'd inveteracy wrought 
By the impatience of my early thought, 
That, with the freshness wearing out before 
My mind could relish what it might have sought, 
If free to choose, I cannot now restore 
Its health ; but what it then detested, still abhor. 

* Prologue to the University of Oxford. 



" Then farewell, Horace ; whom I hated so, 
Not for thy faults, but mine ; it is a curse 
To understand, not feel thy lyric flow. 
To comprehend, but never love thy verse." 

Childe Hauold, canto IV. 

To the list of eminent poets, who have thus left 
on record their disUke and disapproval of the En- 
glish system of education, are to be added, the dis- 
tinguished names of Cowley, Addison, and Cowper; 
while, among the cases which, like those of Milton 
and Dryden, practically demonstrate the sort of in- 
verse ratio that may exist between college honours 
and genius, must not be forgotten those of Swift, 
Goldsmith, and Churchill, to every one of whom 
some mark of incompetency was affixed by the re- 
spective universities, whose annals they adorn. 
When, in addition, too, to this rather ample catalogue 
of poets, whom the universities have sent forth 
either disloyal or dishonoured, we come to number 
over such names as those of Shakspeare and of 
Pope, followed by Gay, Thomson, Burns, Chatter- 
ton, <!v:c., all of whom have attained their respective 
stations of eminence, without instruction or sanction 
from any college whatever, it forms altogether, it 
must be owned, a large portion of the poetical 
world, that must be subducted from the sphere of 
that nursing influence which the universities are sup- 
posed to exercise over the genius of the country. 

The following letters, written at this time, con- 
tain some particulars which will not be found unin- 


o 4 


Lktter 22. TO MR. HENRY DRURY. 

" Doiant's Hotel, Jan. l?j. 180S. 
" My dear Sir, 

" Though the stupidity of my servants, or the 
porter of the house, in not sliowing you up stnirs 
(where I should have joined you directly), prevent- 
ed me the pleasure of seeing you yesterday, I hoped 
to meet you at some public place in the evening. 
However, my stars decreed otherwise, as they gen- 
erally do, when I have any favour to request of 
them. I think you would have been surprised at 
my figure, for, since our last meeting, I am reduced 
four stone in weight. I then weighed fourteen 
stone seven pound, and now only toi stone a?id a 
half. I have disposed of my sitperjluities by means 
of hard exercise and abstinence. 

" Should your Harrow engagements allow you to 
visit town between this and February, I shall be 
most happy to see you in Albemarle Street. If I am 
not so fortunate, I shall endeavour to join you for 
an afternoon at Harrow, though, I fear, your cellar 
will by no means contribute to my cure. As for my 
worthy preceptor, Dr. B., our encounter would by 
no means prevent the mutual endearments he and I 
were wont to lavish on each other. We have only 
spoken once since my departure from Harrow in 
1805, and then he politely told Tatersall I was not a 
proper associate for his pupils. This was long before 
my strictures in verse ; but, in plain prose, had I been 
some years older, I should have held my tongue on 
his perfections. But, being laid on my back, when 
that schoolboy thing was written — or rather die- 


tated — expecting to rise no more, my physician 
having taken liis sixteenth fee, and I his prescrip- 
tion, I could not quit this earth without leaving a 
memento of my constant attachment to Butler in 
gratitude for his manifold good offices. 

" I meant to have been down in July ; but think- 
ing my appearance, immediately after the publi- 
cation, would be construed into an insult, I directed 
my steps elsewhere. Besides, I heard that some of 
the boys had got hold of my Libellus, contrary to 
my wishes certainly, for I never transmitted a single 
copy till October, when I gave one to a boy, since 
gone, after repeated importunities. You will, I 
trust, pardon this egotism. As you had touched on 
the subject I thought some explanation necessary. 
Defence I shall not attempt, ' Hie murus aheneus 
esto, nil conscire sibi ' — and ' so on ' (as Lord Bal- 
timore said on his trial for a rape) — I have been so 
long at Trinity as to forget the conclusion of the 
line ; but though I cannot finish my quotation, I 
will my letter, and entreat you to believe me, grate- 
fully and alfectionately, dc. 

" P. S. I will not lay a tax on your time by re- 
quiring an answer, lest you say, as Butler said to 
Tatersall (when 1 had written his reverence an im- 
pudent epistle on the expression before mentioned), 
viz. 'that I wanted to draw him into a correspond- 

202 KOTICES OF THE 1808. 

Letter 23. TO MR. HARNESS. 

" Dorant's Hotel, Albemarle Street, Feb. 11. 1808. 
" My dear Harness, 

"As I had no opportunity of returning my 
verbal thanks, 1 trust you will accept my written 
acknowledgments for the compliment you were 
pleased to pay some production of my unlucky muse 
last November, — I am induced to do this not less 
from the pleasure I feel in the praise of an old 
schoolfellow, than from justice to you, for I had 
heard the story with some slight variations. Indeed, 
when we met this morning, Wingfield had not un- 
deceived me, but he will tell you that I displayed 
no resentment in mentioning what I had heard, 
though I was not sorry to discover the truth. Per- 
haps you hardly recollect, some years ago, a short, 
though, for the time, a warm friendship between us? 
Why it was not of longer duration, I know not. I 
have still a gift of yours in my possession, that must 
always prevent me from forgetting it. I also re- 
member being favoured with the perusal of many of 
your compositions, and several other circumstances 
very pleasant in their day, which I will not force 
upon your memory, but entreat you to believe me, 
with much regret at their short continuance, and a 
hope they are not irrevocable, yours very sin- 
cerely, &c. 

" BYnoN." 

I have already mentioned the early friendship that 
subsisted between this gentleman and Lord Byron, 
as well as the coolness that succeeded it. The fol- 


lowing extract from a letter with which IMr. Harness 
fiivoured me, in placing at my disposal those of his 
noble correspondent, will explain the circumstances 
that led, at this time, to their reconcilement ; and the 
candid tribute, in the concluding sentences, to Lord 
Byron, will be found not less honourable to the reve- 
rend writer himself than to his friend. 

" A coolness afterwards arose, which Byron alludes 
to in the first of the accompanjang letters, and we 
never spoke during the last year of his remaining at 
school, nor till after the publication of his ' Hours of 
Idleness.' Lord Byron was then at Cambridge ; I, 
in one of the upper forms, at Harrow. In an En- 
glish theme I happened to quote from the volume, 
and mention it with praise. It was reported to 
Byron that I had, on the contrary, spoken slightingly 
of his work and of himself, for the purpose of con- 
ciliating the favour of Dr. Butler, the master, who 
had been severely satirised in one of the poems. 
Wingfield, who was afterwards Lord Powerscourt, 
a mutual friend of Byron and myself, disabused him 
of the error into which he had been led, and this was 
the occasion of the first letter of the collection. Our 
conversation was renewed and continued from that 
time till his going abroad. Whatever faults Lord 
Byron might have had towards others, to myself he 
was always uniformly affectionate. I have many 
sliglits and neglects towards him to reproach myself 
with ; but I cannot call to mind a single instance of 
caprice or unkindness, in the whole course of our 
intimacy, to allege against him." 

In the spring of this year (1808) appeared the me- 

204) NOTICES OF THE 180S. 

morable critique upon the " Hours of Idleness "in the 
Edinburgh Review. That he had some notice of 
what was to be expected from that quarter, appears 
by the following letter to his friend, Mr. Becher. 

Letteii 24. TO MR. BECHER. 

" Doiant's Hotel, Feb. 26. 1803. 

" My dear Becher, 

" Now for Apollo. I am happy that you still 
retain your predilection, and that the public allow 
me some share of praise. I am of so much import- 
ance, that a most violent attack is preparing for me 
in the next number of the Edinburgh Review. This 
I had from the authority of a friend who has seen the 
proof and manuscript of the critique. You know the 
system of the Edinburgh gentlemen is universal 
attack. They praise none ; and neither the public 
nor the author expects praise from them. It is, how- 
ever, something to be noticed, as they profess to 
pass judgment only on works requiring the public 
attention. You will see this when it comes out ; — 
it is, I understand, of the most unmerciful descrip- 
tion ; but I am aware of it, and hope you will not be 
hurt by its severity. 

" Tell Mrs. Byron not to be out of humour with 
them, and to prepare her mind for the greatest hos- 
tility on their part. It will do no injury whatever, 
and I trust her mind will not be ruffled. They de- 
feat their object by indiscriminate abuse, and they 
never praise except the partisans of Lord Holland 
and Co. It is nothing to be abused when Southey, 


Moore, Lauderdale, Strangford, and Payne Knight, 
share the same fate. 

"I am sorry — but ' Childish Recollections' must 
be suppressed during this edition. I have altered, 
at your suggestion, the obnoxious allusio7is in the 
sixth stanza of my last ode. 

•' And now, my dear Becher, I must return my best 
acknowledgments for the interest you have taken in 
me and my poetical bantlings, and I shall ever be 
proud to show how much I esteem the advice and 
the adviser. Believe me, most truly," &c. 

Soon after this letter appeared the dreaded article, 
— an article which, if not " witty in itself," deserved 
eminently the credit of causing "wit in others." Sel- 
dom, indeed, has it ftillen to the lot of the justest 
criticism to attain celebrity such as injustice has pro- 
cured for this ; nor as long as the short, but glorious 
race of Byron's genius is remembered, can the critic, 
whoever he may be, that so unintentionally minis- 
tered to its first start, be forgotten. 

It is but justice, however, to remark, — without at 
the same time intending any excuse for the contemp- 
tuous tone of criticism assumed by the reviewer, — 
that the early verses of Lord Byron, however distin- 
guished by tenderness and grace, give but little pro- 
mise of those dazzling miracles of poesy with which 
he afterwards astonished and enchanted the v/orld ; 
and that, if his youthful verses now have a peculiar 
charm in our eyes, it is because we read them, as it 
were, by the light of his subsequent glory. 

There is, indeed, one point of view, in which these 

206 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

productions are deeply and intrinsically interesting. 
As faithful reflections of his character at that period 
of life, they enable us to judge of what he was in his 
yet unadulterated state, — before disappointment had 
begun to embitter his ardent spirit, or the stirring 
up of the energies of his nature had brought into 
activity also its defects. Tracing him thus through 
these natural effusions of his young genius, we find 
him pictured exactly such, in all the features of his 
character, as every anecdote of his boyish days 
proves him really to have been, proud, daring, and 
passionate, — resentful of slight or injustice, but still 
more so in the cause of others than in his own ; and 
yet, with all this vehemence, docile and placable, at 
the least touch of a hand authorised by love to 
guide him. The affectionateness, indeed, of his dis- 
position, traceable as it is through every page of this 
volume, is yet but faintly done justice to, even by 
himself; — his whole youth being, from earliest child- 
hood, a series of the most passionate attachments, 
— of those overflowings of the soul, both in friendship 
and love, which are still more rarely responded to 
than felt, and which, when checked or sent back 
upon the heart, are sure to turn into bitterness. 

We have seen also, in some of his early unpub- 
lished poems, how apparent, even through the doubts 
that already clouded them, are those feelings of piety 
which a soul like his could not but possess, and which, 
when afterwards diverted out of their legitimate 
channel, found a vent in the poetical worship of na- 
ture, and in that shadowy substitute for religion which 
superstition offers. When, in addition, too, to these 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYKON. 207 

traits of early character, we find scattered through 
his youthful poems such anticipations of the glory 
that awaited him, — such, alternately, proud and 
saddened glimpses into the future, as if he already 
felt the elements of something great within him, but 
doubted whether his destiny would allow him to bring 
it forth, — it is not wonderful that, with the whole of 
his career present to our imaginations, we should see 
a lustre round these first puerile attempts not really 
their own, but shed back upon them from the bright 
eminence which he afterwards attained ; and that, in 
our indignation against the fastidious blindness of the 
critic, we should forget that he had not then the aid 
of this reflected charm, with which the subsequent 
achievements of the poet now irradiate all that bears 
his name. 

The effect this criticism produced upon him can 
only be conceived by those who, besides having an 
adequate notion of what most poets would feel under 
such an attack, can understand all that there was in 
the temper and disposition of Lord Byron to make 
him feel it with tenfold more acuteness than others. 
We have seen with what feverish anxiety he awaited 
the verdicts of all the minor Reviews, and, from his 
sensibility to the praise of the meanest of these cen- 
sors, may guess how painfully he must have writhed 
under the sneers of the highest. A friend, who found 
him in the first moments of excitement after reading 
the article, enquired anxiously whether he had just 
received a challenge ? — not knowing how else to ac- 
count for the fierce defiance of his looks. It would, 
indeed, be difficult for sculptor or painter to imagine 

»208 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

a subject of more fearful beauty than the fine counte- 
nance of the young poet must have exhibited in the 
collected energy of that crisis. His pride had been 
wounded to the quick, and his ambition humbled ; — 
but this feeling of humiliation lasted but for a mo- 
ment. The very re-action of his spirit against ag- 
trression roused him to a full consciousness of his 
own powers * ; and the pain and the shame of the 
injury were forgotten in the proud certainty of 

Among- the less sentimental effects of this review 
upon his mind, he used to mention that, on the day 
he read it, he drank three bottles of claret to his own 
share after dinner ; — that nothing, however, relieved 
him till he had given vent to his indignation in rhyme, 
and that " after the first twenty lines, he felt himseU 
considerably better." His chief care, indeed, after- 
wards, was amiably devoted, — as we have seen it 
was, in like manner, before the criticism, — to allay- 
inff, as far as he could, the sensitiveness of his 
mother ; who, not having the same motive or power 
to summon up a spirit of resistance, was, of course, 
more lielplessly alive to this attack upon his fame, and 
felt it fin- more than, after the first burst of indig- 

* " 'Tis a quality very obsei-vable in human nature, that 
any opposition wliich does not entirely discourage and intimi- 
date us, has rather a contrary cfTect, and inspires us with a 
more than ordinary grandeur and magnanimity. In collect- 
ing our force to overcome the opposition, we invigorate the 
soul, and give it an elevation witli which otherwise it would 
never liave been acquainted." — Hume, Treatise of Human 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 209 

nation, he did himself. But the state of his mind 
upon the subject will be best understood from the 
following letter. 

Letter 25. TO MR. BE CHER. 

« Dorant's, March 28. 1808. 

" I have lately received a copy of the new edition 
from Ridge, and it is high time forme to return my 
best thanks to you for the trouble you have taken in 
the superintendence. This I do most sincerely, and 
only regret that Ridge has not seconded you as I 
could wish, — at least, in the bindings, paper, &c., of 
the copy he sent to me. Perhaps those for the pub- 
lic may be more respectable in such articles. 

You have seen the Edinburgh Review, of course. 
I regret that Mrs. Byron is so much annoyed. For 
my own part, these ' paper bullets of the brain ' 
have only taught me to stand fire ; and, as I have 
been lucky enough upon the whole, my repose and 
appetite are not discomposed. Pratt, the gleaner, 
author, poet, &c. &c., addressed a long rhyming 
epistle to me on the subject, by way of consolation ; 
but it Avas not well done, so I do not send it, though 
the name of the man might make it go down. The 
E. Rs. have not performed their task well ; at least 
the literati tell me this ; and I think / could write a 
more sarcastic critique on myself than any yet pub- 
lished. For instance, instead of the remark, — ill- 
natured enough, but not keen, — about Macpherson, 
1 (quoad reviewers) could have said, ' Alas, this 
imitation only proves the assertion of Dr. Johnson, 

VOL. I. p 


that many men, women, and children, could write 
sucli poetry as Ossian's.' 

" I am thin and in exercise. During tlie spring or 
simimer I trust we shall meet. 1 hear Lord Ruthyn 
leaves Newstead in April. As soon as he quits it 
for ever, I wish much you would take a ride over, 
survey the mansion, and give me your candid opinion 
on the most advisable mode of proceeding with re- 
gard to the house. Entre nous, I am cursedly dipped ; 
my debts, every thing inclusive, will be nine or ten 
thousand before I am twenty-one. But I have rea- 
son to think my property will turn out better than 
general expectation may conceive. Of Newstead I 
have little hope or care ; but Hanson, my agent, in- 
timated my Lancashire property was worth three 
Newsteads. I believe we have it hollow ; though 
the defendants are protracting the surrender, if 
possible, till after my majority, for the purpose of 
forming some arrangement with me, thinking I shall 
probably prefer a sum in hand to a reversion. 
Newstead I may sell ; — perhaps I will not, — 
though of that more anon. I will come down in 
May or June. 

" Yours most truly," &c. 

The sort of life which he led at this period between 
the dissipations of London and of Cambridge, with- 
out a home to welcome, or even the roof of a single 
relative to receive him, was but little calculated to 
render him satisfied either with himself or the world. 
Unrestricted as he was by deference to any will but liis 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYRO>r. 211 

own *, even the pleasures to which he was naturally 
most mclined prematurely palled upon him, for want 
of those best zests of all enjoyment, rarity and 
restraint. I have already quoted, from one of his 
note-books: a passage descriptive of his feelings on 
first going to Cambridge, in which he says that " one 
of the deadliest and heaviest feelings of his life was 
to feel that he was no longer a boy." — " From that 
moment (he adds) I began to grow old in my own 
esteem, and in my esteem age is not estimable. I 
took my gradations in the vices with great prompti- 
tude, but they were not to my taste ; for my early 
passions, though violent in the. extreme, were con- 
centrated, and hated division or spreading abroad. 
I could have left or lost the whole world with, or 
for, that which I loved ; but, though my tempera- 
ment was naturally burning, I could not share in the 
common-place libertinism of the place and time 
without disgust. And yet this very disgust, and 
my heart thrown back upon itself, threw me into 
excesses perhaps more fatal than those from which 
I shrunk, as fixing upon one (at a time) the passions 
which spread amongst many would have hurt only 

Though, from the causes here alleged, the irregu- 
larities he, at this period, gave way to were of a 
nature far less gross and miscellaneous than those, 
perhaps, of any of his associates, yet, partly from the 
vehemence which this concentration caused, and, 

* " The colour of our whole life is gcnprally such as the 
three or four first years in which we are our own masters 
make it." — Cowfek. 

p 2 

212 XOTICES OF THK 1808. 

Still more, from that strange pride in his o\vn errors, 
which led him always to bring them forth in the 
most conspicuous light, it so happened that one 
single indiscretion, in his hands, was made to go 
farther, if I may so express it, than a thousand in 
those of others. An instance of this, that occurred 
about the time of which we are speaking, was, I am 
inclined to think, the sole foundation of the mys- 
terious allusions just cited. An amour (if it may 
be dignified with such a name) of that sort of casual 
description which less attachable natures would have 
forgotten, and more prudent ones at least concealed, 
was by him converted, at this period, and with cir- 
cumstances of most unnecessary display, into a con- 
nection of some continuance, — the object of it not 
only becoming domesticated with him in lodgings at 
Brompton, but accompanied him afterwards, dis- 
guised in boy's clothes, to Brighton. He introduced 
this young person, who used to ride about with him 
in her male attire, as his younger brother ; and the 
late Lady P**, who was at Brighton at the time, 
and had some suspicion of the real nature of the 
relationship, said one day to the poet's companion, 
" What a pretty horse that is you are riding!" — 
" Yes," answered the pretended cavalier, " it was 
gave me by my brother ! " 

Beattie tells us, of his ideal poet, — 

*' The exploits of strength, dexterity, or speed, 
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring." 

But far different were the tastes of the real poet, 
Byron ; and among the least romantic, perhaps, of 
the exercises in which he took delisrht was that of 


boxing or sparring. This taste it was that, at a very 
early period, brought him acquainted with the dis- 
tinguished professor of that art, Mr. Jackson, for 
whom he continued through life to entertain the 
sincerest regard, one of his latest works containing a 
most cordial tribute not only to the professional, but 
social qualities of this sole prop and ornament of 
pugilism. * During his stay at Brighton this year, 
Jackson was one of his most constant visiters, — the 
expense of the professor's chaise thither and back 
being always defrayed by his noble patron. He 
also honoured with his notice, at this time, D'Egville, 
the ballet-master, and Grimaldi; to the latter of whom 
he sent, as I understand, on one of his benefit nights, 
a present of five guineas. 

Having been favoured by Mr. Jackson with copies 
of the few notes and letters, which he has preserved 
out of the many addressed to him by Lord Byron, I 
shall here lay before the reader one or two, which 
bear the date of the present year, and which, though 
referring to matters of no interest in themselves, 
give, perhaps, a better notion of the actual life and 
habits of the young poet, at this time, than could be 
afforded by the most elaborate and, in other respects, 
important correspondence. They will show, at least, 
how very little akin to romance Mere the early 
pursuits and associates of the author of Childe 

* " I refer to my old friend and corporeal pastor and 
master, John Jackson, Esq., Professor of Pugilism, who I trust 
still retains tlie strength and symmetry of his model of a form, 
together with his goodhinnour and athletic, as well as mental, 
accomplishments." — Note on Don Juan, Canto II, 

214? NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

Harold, and, combined with what we know of tlie 
still less romantic youth of Shakspeare, prove how 
unhurt the vital principle of genius can preserve 
itself even in atmospheres apparently the most 
ungenial and noxious to it. 

Letter 26. TO 3IR. JACKSON. 

" N. A., Notts. September 18. 1808. 

" Dear Jack, 

" I wish you would inform me what has been 
done by Jekyll, at No. 4:0. Sloane Square, concerning 
the pony I returned as unsound. 

" I have also to request you will call on Louch at 
Brompton, and enquire what the devil he meant by 
sending such an insolent letter to me at Brighton ; 
and at the same time tell him I by no means can 
comply with the charge he has made for things 
pretended to be damaged. 

" Ambrose behaved most scandalously about the 
pony. You may tell Jekyll if he does not refund 
the money, I shall put the aifair into my lawyer's 
hands. Five and twenty guineas is a sound price 
for a pony, and by , if it costs me five hun- 
dred pounds, I will make an example of Mr. Jekyll, 
and that immediately, unless the cash is returned. 
" Believe me, dear Jack," &c. 

Letter 27. TO MR. JACKSON. 

" N. A., Notts. October 4. ISOS. 

" You will make as good a bargain as possible 
with this Master Jekyll, if he is not a gentleman. 
If he is a gentlemaii, inform me, for I shall take very 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 215 

different steps. If he is not, j^ou must get what you 
can of the money, for I have too much business on 
Imnd at present to commence an action. Besides, 
Ambrose is the man who ought to refund, — but I 
have done with him. You can settle with L. out of 
the balance, and dispose of the bidets, &c. as 3'ou 
best can. 

" I should be very glad to see you here ; but the 
house is filled with workmen, and undergoing a 
thorough repair. I hope, however, to be more for- 
tunate before many months have elapsed. 

" If you see Bold Webster, remember me to him, 
and tell him I have to regret Sydney, who has 
perished, I fear, in my rabbit warren, for we have 
seen nothing of him for the last fortnight. 

" Adieu. — Believe me," &:c. 

Letter, 28, TO MR. JACKSON. 

« N. A., Notts. December 12. 180R. 
" My dear Jack, 

" You will get the greyhound from the owner 
at any price, and as many more of the same breed 
(male or female) as you can collect. 

" Tell D'Egville his dress shall be returned — I 
am obliged to him for the pattern. I am sorry you 
should have so much trouble, but I was not aware of 
the difficulty of procuring the animals in question. 
I shall have finished part of my mansion in a few 
weeks, and, if you can pay me a visit at Christmas, 
I shall be very glad to see you. 

" Believe me," &c. 
p 4. 

216 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

The dress alluded to here was, no doubt, wanted 
ibr a private play, which he, at tliis time, got up at 
Newstead, and of which there are some further par- 
ticulars in the annexed letter to Mr. Becher. 

Letter 29. TO MR. BECHER. 

« Newstead Abbey, Notts. Sept. 14. 1808. 
" My dear Becher, 

" I am much obliged to you for your enquiries, 
and shall profit by them accordingly. I am going 
to get up a play here ; the hall will constitute a 
most admirable theatre. I have settled the dram, 
pers., and can do without ladies, as I have some 
young friends who will make tolerable substitutes 
for females, and we only want three male characters, 
beside Mr. Hobhouse and myself, for the play we 
have fixed on, which will be the Revenge. Pray 
direct Nicholson the carpenter to come over to me 
immediately, and inform me what day you will dine 
and pass the night here. 

" Believe me," <S:c. 

It was in the autumn of this year, as the letters I 
have just given indicate, that he, for the first time, 
took up his residence at Newstead Abbey. Having 
received the place in a most ruinous condition from 
the hands of its late occupant. Lord Grey deRuthyn, 
he proceeded immediately to repair and fit up some 
of the apartments, so as to render them — more 
with a view to his mother's accommodation than his 
own — comfortably habitable. In one of his letters 


to Mrs. Byron, published by Mr. Dallas, he thus 
explains his views and intentions on this subject. 

Letter 30. 


" Newstead Abbey, Notts. October 7. 1S08. 

" Dear Madam, 

" I have no beds for the H * * s or any body 
else at present. The H * * s sleep at Mansfield. 
I do not know, that I resemble Jean Jacques Rous- 
seau. I have no ambition to be like so illustrious a 
madman — but this I know, that I shall live in my 
own manner, and as much alone as possible. 
When my rooms are ready I shall be glad to see 
you : at present it would be improper and uncom- 
fortable to both parties. You can hardly object to 
my rendering my mansion habitable, notwithstand- 
ing my departure for Persia in March (or May at 
farthest), since you will be tenant till my return ; 
and in case of any accident (for I have already 
arranged my will to be drawn up the moment I am 
twenty-one), I have taken care you shall have the 
house and manor for life, besides a sufficient income. 
So you see my improvements are not entirely self- 
ish. As I have a friend here, we will go to the In- 
firmary Ball on the 12th ; we will drink tea with Mrs. 
Byron at eight o'clock, and expect to see you at the 
ball. If that lady will allow us a couple of rooms to 
dress in, we shall be highly obliged : — if we are at 

* Thus addressed always by Lord Byron, but without any 
right to the distinction. 


the ball by ten or eleven it will be time enough, and 
we shall return to Newstead about three or four. 

" Believe me yours very truly, 

" Byrox." 

The idea, entertained by Mrs. Byron, of a resem- 
blance between her son and Rousseau was founded 
chiefly, we may suppose, on those habits of solitari- 
ness, in which he had even already shown a disposi- 
tion to follow that self-contemplative philosopher, 
and which, manifesting themselves thus early, gain- 
ed strength as he advanced in life. In one of his 
Journals, to which I frequently have occasion to re- 
fer*, he thus, in questioning the justice of this com- 
parison between himself and Rousseau, gives, — as 
usual, vividly, — some touches of his own disposition 
and habitudes : — 

" iNIy mother, before I was twenty, would have it 
that I was like Rousseau, and Madame de Stael 
used to say so too in 1813, and the Edinburgh Re- 
view has something of the sort in its critique on the 
fourth Canto of Childe Harold. I can't see any 
point of resemblance : — he wrote prose, I verse : 
he was of the people; I of the aristocracy f : he 
was a philosopher ; I am none : he published his 
first work at forty ; I mine at eighteen : his first es- 

* The Journal entitled by himself " Detached Thoughts." 

f Few philosophers, however, have been so indulgent to 

the pride of birth as Rousseau. — " S'il est un orgueil par- 

donnablo (he says) apres cclui qui se tire du merite personnel, 

c'est celui qui se tire de la naissancc." — Confess. 

1808. LIFE OF LOUD BYRON. 219 

say brought him universal applause ; mine the con- 
trary : he married his housekeeper ; I could not 
keep house with my wife : he thought all the world 
in a plot against him ; my little world seems to 
think me in a plot against it, if I may judge by their 
abuse in print and coterie : he liked botany ; I like 
flowers, herbs, and trees, but know nothing of their 
pedigrees : he wrote music ; I limit my knowledge 
of it to what I catch by ear — I never could learn any 
thing by study, not even a language — it was all by 
rote, and ear, and memory : he had a had memory ; I 
had, at least, an excellent one (ask Hodgson the poet 
— a good judge, for he has an astonishing one) : he 
wrote with hesitation and care ; I with rapidity, and 
rarely with pains : he could never ride, nor swim, 
nor ' was cunning of fence ; ' / am an excellent 
swimmer, a decent, though not at all a dashing, rider, 
(having staved in a rib at eighteen, in the course of 
scampering), and was sufficient of fence, particularly 
of the Highland broadsword, — not a bad boxer, 
when I could keep my temper, which was difficult, 
but which I strove to do ever since I knocked dov>'n 
Mr. Purling, and put his knee-pan out (with the 
gloves on), in Angelo's and Jackson's rooms in 1S06, 
during the sparring, — and I was, besides, a very 
fair cricketer, — one of the Harrow eleven, when we 
played against Eton in 1805. Besides, Rousseau's 
way of life, his country, his manners, his whole cha- 
racter, were so very different, that I am at a loss to 
conceive how such a comparison could have arisen, 
as it has done three several times, and all in rather 
a remarkable manner. I forgot to say that he was 



also short-siglited, and that hitherto my eyes have 
been the contrary, to such a degree that, in the 
largest theatre of Bologna, I distinguished and read 
some busts and inscriptions, painted near the stage, 
from a box so distant and so darkhj lighted, that 
none of the company (composed of young and very 
bright-eyed people, some of them in the same 
box,) could make out a letter, and thought it was 
a trick, though I had never been in that theatre 

" Altogether, I think myself justified in thinking 
the comparison not well founded. I don't say this 
out of pique, for Rousseau was a great man ; and 
the thing, if true, were flattering enough ; — but I 
have no idea of being pleased with the chimera." 

In another letter to his mother, dated some weeks 
after the preceding one, he explains further his plans 
both with respect to Newstead and his projected 

Letter 31. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Newstead Abbey, November 2. 180S. 
" Dear Mother, 

" If you please, we will forget the things you 

mention. I have no desire to remember them. 

When my rooms are finished, I shall be happy to see 

you ; as I tell but the truth, you will not suspect me 

of evasion. I am furnishing the house more for you 

than myself, and I shall establish you in it before I 

sail for India, which I expect to do in March, if 

nothing particularly obstructive occurs. I am now 

fitting up the green drawing-room; the red for a 

1808. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 221 

bed-room, and the rooms over as sleeping-rooms. 
They will be soon completed ; — at least I hope so. 

" I wish you would enquire of Major Watson (who 
is an old Indian) what things will be necessary to 
provide for my voyage. I have already procured a 
friend to write to the Arabic Professor at Cambridge, 
for some information I am anxious to procure. I 
can easily get letters from government to the am- 
bassadors, consuls, &c., and also to the governors at 
Calcutta and Madras. I shall place my property 
and my will in the hands of trustees till my return, 
and I mean to appoint you one. From H * * I have 
heard nothing — when I do, you shall have the par- 

" After all, you must own my project is not a bad 
one. If I do not travel now, I never shall, and all 
men should one day or other. I have at present no 
connections to keep me at home ; no wife, or unpro- 
vided sisters, brothers, &c. I shall take care of you, 
and when I return I may possibly become a politi- 
cian. A few years" knowledge of other countries 
than our own will not incapacitate me for that part. 
If we see no nation but our own, we do not givo 
mankind a fair chance : — it is from experience, not 
books, we ought to judge of them. There is nothing 
like inspection, and trusting to our own senses. 

" Yours," See. 

In the November of this year he lost his favourite 
dog. Boatswain, — the poor animal having been seized 
with a fit of madness, at the commencement of which 
so little aware was Lord Byron of the nature of the 

222 NOTICES OF THE 1808. 

malady, that he more than once, with his bare hand, 
wiped away the slaver from the dog's lips during the 
paroxysms. In a letter to his friend, Mr. Hodgson*, 
he thus announces this event: — " Boatswain is dead I 
— he expired in a state of madness on the 18th, 
after suffering much, yet retaining all the gentleness 
of his nature to the last, never attempting to do the 
least injury to any one near him. I have now lost 
every thing except old Murray." 

The monument raised by him to this dog, — the 
most memorable tribute of the kind, since the Dog's 
Grave, of old, at Salamis, — is still a conspicuous orna- 
ment of the gardens of Newstead. The misanthropic 
verses engraved upon it may be found among his 
poems, and the following is the inscription by which 
they are introduced : — 

" Near this spot 

Are deposited the Remains of one 

Wiio possessed Beauty without Vanity, 

Strength without Insolence, 

Courage without Ferocity, 

And all the Virtues of IWan without his Vices. 

Tliis Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery 

If inscribed over human ashes, 

Is but a just tribute to the jVIemory of 

Boatswain, a Dog, 

"VVho was born at Newfoundland, May, 1803, 

And died at Newstead Abbey, November 18. 1808." 

* This gentleman, who took orders in the year 1SI4, is the 
author of a spirited translation of Juvenal, and of other works 
of distinguished merit. He was long in correspondence with 
I/ord Byron, and to him I am indebted for some interesting 
letters of liis noble friend, which will be given in the course of 
the following pages. 


The poet, Pope, when about the same age as the 
writer of this inscription, passed a similar eulogy on 
his dog *, at the expense of human nature ; adding, 
that " Histories are more full of examples of the 
fidelity of dogs than of friends." In a still sadder and 
bitterer spirit, Lord Byron writes of his favourite, 

" To mark a friend's remains those stones arise ; 
I never knew but one, and here he lies." f 

Melancholy, indeed, seems to have been gaining 
fast upon his mind at this period. In another letter 

* He had also, at one time, as appears from an anecdote 
preserved by Spence, some thoughts of burying this dog in his 
garden, and placing a monument over him, with the inscription, 
" Oh, rare Bounce ! " 

In speaking of the members of Rousseau's domestic 
establishment, Hume says, " She (Ther^se) governs him as 
absolutely as a nurse does a child. In her absence, his dog 
lias acquired that ascendant. His affection for that creature is 
beyond all expression or conception." — Private Correspondence. 
See an instance which he gives of this dog's influence over the 
philosopher, p. 143. 

In Burns's elegy on the death of his favourite Mailie, we 
find the friendship even of a sheep set on a level with that 
of man : — 

" Wi' kindly bleat, when she did spy him, 
She ran wi' speed : 
A friend mair faithful ne'er came nigh him. 
Than Mailie dead." 

In speaking of the favourite dogs of great poets, we must 
not forget Cowper's little spaniel " Beau ; " nor will posterity 
fail to add to the list the name of Sir Walter Scott's " Maida." 

•|- In the epitaph, as first printed in liis friend's IMiscellany, 
this line runs thus ; — 

" I knew but one unchanged — and here he lies," 

^24f NOTICES OF THE 180S. 

to Mr. Hodgson, he says, — " You know laughing 
is the sign of a rational animal — so says Dr. Smol- 
let. I think so too, but unluckily my spirits don't 
always keep pace with my opinions." 

Old Murray, the servant whom he mentions, in a 
preceding extract, as the only faithful follower now 
remaining to him, had long been in the service of 
the former lord, and was regarded by the young poet 
with a fondness of affection which it has seldom been 
the lot of age and dependence to inspire. " 1 have 
more than once," says a gentleman who was at this 
time a constant visiter at Newstead, " seen Lord 
Byron at the dinner-table fill out a tumbler of INIa- 
deira, and hand it over his shoulder to Joe 3Iurray, 
who stood behind his chair, saying, with a cordiality 
that brightened his whole countenance, ' Here, my 
old fellow.'" 

The unconcern with which he could sometimes 
allude to the defect in his foot is manifest from an- 
other passage in one of these letters to Mr. Hodgson. 
That gentleman having said jestingly that some of 
the verses in the " Hours of Idleness " were calcu- 
lated to make schoolboys rebellious, Lord Byron 
answers — " If my songs have produced the glorious 
eff'ects you mention, I shall be a complete Tyrtaeus ; 
— though I am sorry to say I resemble that in- 
teresting harper more in his person than in his 
poesy." Sometimes, too, even an allusion to this 
infirmity by others, when he could perceive that it 
was not offensively intended, was borne by him with the 
most perfect good humour. " I was once present," 
says the frienol I have just mentioned, " in a large 


and mixed company, when a vulgar person asked him 
aloud — ' Pray, my Lord, how is that foot of yours?' 
— ' Thank you, sir,' answered Lord Byron, with 
the utmost mildness — ' much the same as usual.'" 

The following extract, relating to a reverend friend 
of his Lordship, is from another of his letters to Mr. 
Hodgson, this year : — 

" A i'ew weeks ago I wrote to * * * , to request 
he would receive the son of a citizen of London, 
well known to me, as a pupil ; the family having 
been particularly pohte during the short time I was 
with them induced me to this application. Now, 
mark what follows, as somebody sublimely salth. 
On this day arrives an epistle signed * * *, containing 
not the smallest reference to tuition or intuition, but 
a yjetition for Robert Gregson, of pugilistic notoriety, 
now in bondage for certain paltry pounds sterling, 
and liable to take up his everlasting abode in Banco 
Regis, Had the letter been from any of my la?/ ac- 
quaintance, or, in short, from any person but the 
gentleman whose signature it bears, I should have 
marvelled not. If * * * is serious, I congratulate 
pugilism on the acquisition of such a patron, and 
shall be most happy to advance any sum necessary 
for the liberation of the captive Gregson. But I 
certainly hope to be certified from you, or some 
respectable housekeeper, of the fact, before I write 
to * * * on the subject. When I say the fact, I 
mean of the letter being written by * * *, not having 
any doubt as to the authenticity of the statement. 
The letter is now before me, and I keep it for your 

VOL. I. Q 


His time at Newsteacl during this autumn was 
principally occupied in enlarging and preparing his 
Satire for the press ; and with the view, perhaps, of 
mellowing his own judgment of its merits, by keep- 
ing it some time before his eyes in a printed form *, 
he had proofs taken off from the manuscript by his 
former publisher at Newark. It is somewhat remark- 
able, that, excited as he was by the attack of the 
reviewers, and possessing, at all times, such rapid 
powers of composition, he should have allowed so 
long an interval to elapse between the aggression and 
the revenge. But the importance of his next move 
in literature seems to have been fully appreciated by 
him. He saw that his chances of future eminence 
now depended upon the effort he was about to make, 
and therefore deliberately collected all his energies 
for the spring. Among the preparatives by which 
he disciplined his talent to the task was a deep 
study of the writings of Pope ; and I have no doubt 
that from this period may be dated the enthusiastic 
admiration which he ever after cherished for this 
great poet, — an admiration which at last extin- 
guished in him, after one or two trials, all hope of 
pre-eminence in the same track, and drove him 
thenceforth to seek renown in fields more open to 

The misanthropic mood of mind into wiiich he 
had fallen at this time, from disappointed affections 

* We are told that Wielaiid used to have his works printed 
thus for the purpose of correction, and said that he found 
great advantage in it. The practice is, it appears, not unusual 
in Germany. 

1809. lAh'E OF LORD BVROX. 227 

and thwarted hopes, made the office of satirist but 
too congenial and welcome to his spirit. Yet it is 
evident that this bitterness existed far more in his 
fancy than his heart ; and that the sort of relief he 
now found in making war upon the world arose 
mucli less from the indiscriminate wounds he dealt 
around, than from the new sense of power he became 
conscious of in dealing them, and by which he more 
than recovered his former station in his own esteem. 
In truth, the versatility and ease with which, as shall 
presently be shown, he could, on the briefest con- 
sideration, shift from praise to censure, and, some- 
times, almost as rapidly, from censure to praise, 
shows how fanciful and transient were the impres- 
sions under which he, in many instances, pronounced 
his judgments ; and though it may in some degree 
deduct from the weight of his eulogy, absolves him 
also from any great depth of malice in his Satire. 

Ilis coming of age, in 1809, was celebrated at 
Newstead by such festivities as his narrow means 
and society could furnish. Besides the ritual roast- 
ing of an ox, there was a ball, it seems, given on 
the occasion, — of which the only particular I could 
collect, from the old domestic who mentioned it, 
was, that JNIr. Hanson, the agent of her lord, was 
among the dancers. Of Lord Byron's own method 
of commemorating the day, I find the following 
curious record in a letter written from Genoa in 
1822 : — " Did I ever tell you tliat the day I came 
of age I dined on eggs and bacon and a bottle of 
ale ? — For once in a way they are my favourite 
dish and drinkable; but as neither of them agree 

Q 2 


with me, I never use them but on great jubilees, — 
once in four or five years or so." The pecuniary 
supplies necessary towards his outset, at this epoch, 
were procured from money-lenders at an enormously 
usurious interest, the payment of which for a long 
time continued to be a burden to him. 

It was not till the beginning of this year that he 
took his Satire, — in a state ready, as he thought, 
for publication, — to London. Before, however, he 
had put the 'svork to press, new food was unluckily 
furnished to his spleen by the neglect with wliich 
he conceived himself to have been treated by his 
guardian, Lord Carlisle. The relations between this 
nobleman and his ward had, at no time, been of 
such a nature as to afford opportunities for the cul- 
tivation of much friendliness on either side; and to 
the temper and influence of ^Irs. Byron must mainly 
be attributed the blame of widening, if not of pro- 
ducing, this estrangement between them. The 
coldness with which Lord Carlisle had received the 
dedication of the young poet's first volume was, as 
we have seen from one of the letters of the latter, 
felt by him most deeply. He, however, allowed 
himself to be so far governed by prudential con- 
siderations as not only to stifle this displeasure, but 
even to introduce into his Satire, as originally in- 
tended for the press, the following compliment to 
his guardian : — 

" On one alone Apollo dtigns to smile, 

And crowns a new Roscommon in Carlisle." 

The crown, however, thus generously awarded, 
did not long remain where it had been placed. In 


the interval between the inditing of this couplet and 
the delivery of the manuscript to the press, Lord 
Byron, under the impression that it was customar}'' 
for a young peer, on first taking his seat, to have 
some friend to introduce him, wrote to remind Lord 
Carlisle that he should be of age at the commence- 
ment of the session. Listead, however, of the sort 
of answer which he expected, a mere formal, and, 
as it appeared to him, cold reply, acquainting him 
with the technical mode of proceeding on such occa- 
sions, was all that, in return to this application, he 
received. Disposed as he had been, by preceding 
circumstances, to suspect his noble guardian of no 
very friendly inclinations towards him, this back- 
wardness in proposing to introduce him to the 
House (a ceremony, however, as it appears, by no 
means necessary or even usual) was sufficient to 
rouse in his sensitive mind a strong feeling of resent- 
ment. The indignation, thus excited, found a vent, 
but too temptingly, at hand; — the laudatory couplet 
I have just cited was instantly expunged, and his 
Satire went forth charged with those vituperative 
verses against Lord Carlisle, of which, gratifying as 
they must have been to his revenge at the moment, 
he, not long after, with the placabiUty so inherent 
in his generous nature, repented.* 

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

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

Childe Harold, canto iiv 
Q 3 

230 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

During the progress of his poem througli the 
press, he increased its length by more than a hun- 
dred hnes ; and made several alterations, one or two 
of which may be mentioned, as illustrative of that 
prompt susceptibility of new impressions and influ- 
ences which rendered both his judgment and feel- 
ings so variable. In the Satire, as it originally stood, 
was the following couplet : — 

" Though printers condescend the press to soil 
With odes by Smythe, and epic songs by Hoyle." 

Of the injustice of these lines (unjust, it is but fair 
to say, to both the writers mentioned,) he, on the 
brink of publication, repented; and, — as far, at 
least, as regarded one of the intended victims, — 
adopted a tone directly opposite in his printed Sa- 
tire, where the name of Professor Smythe is men- 
tioned honourably, as it deserved, in conjunction with 
that of Mr. Hodgson, one of the poet's most valued 
friends : — 

" Oh dark asylum of a Vandal race ! 

At once the boast of learning and disgrace ; 

So sunk in dulness, and so lost in shame, 

That Smythe and Hodgson scarce redeem thy fame." 

In another instance we find him " changing his 
hand " with equal facility and suddenness. The ori- 
ginal manuscript of the Satire contained this line, — 

" I leave topography to coxcomb Gell ; " 

but having, while the work was printing, become 
acquainted with Sir William Gell, he, without diffi- 
culty, by the change of a single epithet, converted 
satire into eulogy, and the line now descends to 
posterity thus : — 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 231 

" I leave topograpliy to classic Gell." * 

Among the passages added to the poem during 
its progress through the press were those lines de- 
nouncing the licentiousness of the Opera. " Then 
let Ausonia," &c. which the young satirist wrote one 
night, after returning, brimful of morality, from the 
Opera, and sent them early next morning to Mr. 
Dallas for insertion. The just and animated tribute 
to Mr. Crabbe was also among the after-thoughts 
with which his poem was adorned ; nor can we doubt 
that both this, and the equally merited eulogy on 
Mr. Kogers, were the disinterested and deliberate 
result of the young poet's judgment, as he had never 
at that period seen either of these distinguished 
persons, and the opinion he then expressed of their 
genius remained unchanged through life. With 

* In tlie fifth edition of the Satire (suppressed by him in 
1812) he again changed his mind respecting this gentleman, 
and altered the line to 

*' I leave topography to rapid Gell ; " 
explaining his reasons for the change in the following note: — 
" ' Rapid,' indeed ; — he topographised and typographised 
King Priam's dominions in three days. I called him ' classic' 
before I saw^ the Troad, but since have learned better than to 
tack to his name what don't belong to it." 

He is not, however, the only satirist who has been thus 
capricious and changeable in his judgments. The variations 
of this nature in Pope's Dunciad are well known ; and the 
Al)be Cotin, it is said, owed the " painful pre-eminence " of 
his station in Boileau's Satires to the unlucky convenience of 
his name as a rhyme. Of the generous change from censure 
to praise, the poet Dante had already set an example ; having, 
in liis " Convito," lauded some of those persons whom, in his 
Cominedia, he had most severely lashed. 

CI 4< 

232 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

the author of tlie Pleasures of Memory he after- 
^yards became intimate, but with him, whom he had 
so well designated as " Nature's sternest painter, yet 
the best," he was never lucky enough to form any 
acquaintance ; — though, as my venerated friend and 
neighbour, Mr. Crabbe himself, tells me, they were 
once, without being aware of it, in the same inn 
together for a day or two, and must have frequently 
met, as they went in and out of the house, during 
the time. 

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

Among the passing events from which he now 


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

Letter 32. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" 8. St. James's Street, March 6. 1809. 
" Dear Mother, 

" My last letter was written under great depres- 
sion of spirits from poor Falkland's death, who has 
left without a shilling four children and his wife. I 
have been endeavouring to assist them, which, God 
knows, I cannot do as I could wish, from my own 

'234- NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

embarrassments and the many claims upon me from 
ether quarters. 

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

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

" Believe me, &c. 

" P. S. — You shall have a mortgage on one of the 

The affidavits which he here mentions, as expected 
from Cornwall, were those required in proof of the 


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

" The Satire was published about the middle of 
March, previous to which lie took his seat in the 
House of Lords, on the 13th of tlie same month. 
On that day, passing down St. James's Street, but 
with no intention of calling, I saw his chariot at his 
door, and went in. His countenance, paler than 
usual, showed that his mind was agitated, and that 
he was thinking of the nobleman to whom he had 
once looked for a hand and countenance in liis 



introduction to the House. He said to me — 'I am 
glad you happened to come in ; I am going to take 
my seat, perhaps you will go with me.' I expressed 
my readiness to attend him; while, at the same time, 
I concealed the shock I felt on thinking that this 
young man, who, by birth, fortune, and talent, stood 
high in life, should have lived so miconnected and 
neglected by persons of his own rank, that there 
was not a single member of the senate to which he 
belonged, to whom he could or would apply to 
introduce him in a manner becoming his birth. I 
saw that he felt the situation, and I fully partook 
his indignation. 

" After some talk about the Satire, the last sheets 
of which were in the press, I accompanied Lord 
Byron to the House. He was received in one of 
the ante-chambers by some of the officers in attend- 
ance, with whom he settled respecting the fees he 
liad to pay. One of them went to apprise the Lord 
Chancellor of his being there, and soon returned for 
him. There were very few persons in the House. 
Lord Eldon was going through some ordinary busi- 
ness. When Lord Byron entered, I thought he 
looked still paler than before ; and he certainly wore 
a countenance in which mortification was mingled 
with, but subdued by, indignation. He passed the 
woolsack without looking round, and advanced to 
the table where the proper officer was attending to 
administer the oaths. When he had s:one throu<rh 
them, the Chancellor quitted his seat, and went 
towards him with a smile, putting out bis hand 
warmly to welcome him ; and, though I did not 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 237 

catch his words, I saw that he paid him some com- 
pliment. This was all thrown away upon Lord 
Byron, who made a stiff bow, and put the tips of his 
fingers into the Chancellor's hand. The Chancellor 
did not press a welcome so received, but resumed 
his seat; while Lord Byron carelessly seated himself 
for a few minutes on one of the empty benches to the 
left of the throne, usually occupied by the lords in 
opposition. When, on his joining me, I expressed 
what I had felt, he said — ' If I had shaken hands 
heartily, he would have set me down for one of 
his party — but I will have nothing to do with any 
of them, on either side ; 1 have taken my seat, and 
now I will go abroad.' We returned to St. James's 
Street, but he did not recover his spirits." 

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

" When I came of age, some delays, on account 
of some birth and marriage certificates from Corn- 
wall, occasioned me not to take my seat for several 
weeks. When these were over, and I had taken the 
oaths, the Chancellor apologised to me for the delay, 
observing 'that these forms were a part of his r7M/_y.' 
I begged him to make no apology, and added (as he 
certainly had shown no violent hurry), ' Your Lord- 
ship was exactly like Tom Thumb' (which was then 
being acted) — ' you did your (hihj, and you did no 

2i3S KOTICES OF THE 1809, 

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

Letter 33. TO MR. HARNESS. 

" 8. St. James's Street, March 18. 1809. 

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

" I send down to you by this post a certain Satire 
lately published, and in return for the three and six- 
pence expenditure upon it, only beg that if you 
should guess the author, you will keep his name 
secret ; at least for the present. London is full of 
the Duke's business. The Commons have been at 
it these last three nights, and are not yet come to a 
decision. I do not know if the affair will be brought 
before our House, unless in the shape of an impeach- 
ment. If it makes its appearance in a debatable 
form, I believe I shall be tempted to say something 
on the subject. — I am glad to hear you like Cam- 
bridge : firstly, because, to know that you are happy 
is pleasant to one who wishes you all possible sub- 
lunary enjoyment: and, secondly, I admire the mo- 
rality of the sentiment. Alma 3Iater was to me 
injusta noverca ; and the old beldam only gave me 
my M. A. degree because she could not avoid it. * — 

* In another letter to Mr. Harness, dated Februarj-, 1809, 
he says, " I do not know how you and Ahna Mater agree. I 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRO.V. 239 

You know what a farce a noble Cantab, must per- 

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

was hut an untoward cliild myself, and I believe the good lady 
and lier brat were e((ually rejoiced when I was weaned ; and 
if I obtained her l)cne'liction at parting, it was ^t hn^i, 

240 NOTICES OB' THE 1809. 

passions. But all this will be dull enough for you, 
and so good night, and to end my chapter, or rather 
my homily, believe me, my dear H., yours most 

In this romantic design of collecting together the 
portraits of his school friends, we see the natural 
working of an ardent and disappointed heart, which, 
as the future began to darken upon it, clung with 
fondness to the recollections of the past; and, in 
despair of finding new and true friends, saw no 
hapjjiness but in preserving all it could of the old. 
But even here, his sensibility had to encounter one 
of those freezing checks, to which feelings, so much 
above the ordinary temperature of the world, are 
but too constantly exposed ; — it being from one of 
the very friends thus fondly valued by him, that he 
experienced, on leaving England, that mark of neglect 
of which he so indignantly complains in a note on the 
second Canto of Childe Harold, — contrasting v.ith 
this conduct the fidelity and devotedness he had just 
found in his Turkish servant, Dervish. Mr. Dallas, 
who witnessed the immediate effect of this slight 
upon him, thus describes his emotion : — 

" I found him bursting with indignation. ' Will 
you believe it?' said he, 'I have just met * * *, and 
asked him to come and sit an hour with me : he ex- 
cused himself; and what do you think was his ex- 
cuse ? He was engaged with his mother and some 
ladies to go shopping ! And he knows I set out to- 
morrow, to be absent for years, perhaps never to 
return I — Friendship ! I do not believe I shall 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. !24'1 

leave behind me, yourself and family excepted, and 
perhaps my mother, a single being who will care what 
becomes of me. '" 

From his expressions in a letter to Mrs. Byron, 
already cited, that he must " do something in the 
House soon," as well as from a more definite inti- 
mation of the same intention to Mr. Harness, it would 
appear that he had, at this time, serious thoughts of 
at once entering on the high political path which his 
station as an hereditary legislator opened to him. 
But, whatever may have been the first movements of 
his ambition in this direction, they were soon relin- 
quished. Had he been connected with any distin- 
guished political families, his love of eminence, 
seconded by such example and sympathy, would have 
impelled him, no doubt, to seek renown in the fields 
of party warfare where it might have been his fate 
to afford a signal instance of that transmuting process 
by which, as Pope says, the corruption of a poet 
sometimes leads to the generation of a statesman. 
Luckily, however, for the world (though whether 
luckily for himself may be questioned), the brighter 
empire of poesy was destined to claim him all its 
own. The loneliness, indeed, of his position in so- 
ciety at this period, left destitute, as he was, of all 
those sanctions and sympathies, by which youth at 
its first start is usually surrounded, was, of itself, 
enough to discourage him from embavkiiig in a pur- 
suit, where it is chiefly on such extrinsic advantages 
that any chance of success must depend. So far 
from taking an active part in the proceedings of his 
noble brethren, he appears to have regarded even 

VOL. I. K 

2-l'2 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

the ceremony of his attendance among them as irk- 
some and mortifying ; and in a few days after his 
admission to his seat, he withdrew himself in dis- 
gust to the seclusion of liis own Abbey, there to 
brood over the bitterness of premature experience, 
or meditate, in the scenes and adventures of other 
lands, a freer outlet for his impatient spirit than it 
could command at home. 

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

'' You are already (he says) pretty generally known 
to be the author. So Cawthorn tells me, and a 
proof occurred to myself at Hatchard's, the Queen's 
bookseller. On enquiring for the Satire, he told me 
that he had sold a great many, and had none leit, 
and was going to send for more, which I afterwards 
found he did. I asked who was the author? He 
said it was believed to be Lord Byron's. Did he. 
believe it ? Yes he did. On asking the ground of 
his belief, he told me that a lady of distinction 
had, without hesitation, asked for it as Lord Byron's 
Satire. He likewise informed me that he had en- 
quired of Mr. GifFord, who frequents his shop, if it 



was vours. Mr. Gifford denied any knowledge of the 
author, but spoke very highly of it, and said a copy 
had been sent to him. Hatchard assured me that 
all who came to his reading-room admired it. Caw- 
thorn tells me it is universally well spoken of, not 
only among his own customers, but generally at all 
the booksellers. I heard it highly praised at my 
own publisher's, where I have lately called several 
times. At Phillips's it was read aloud by Pratt to 
a circle of literary guests, who were unanimous in 
their applause : — The Anti-jacobin, as well as the 
Gentleman s Magazine, has already blown the trump 
of fame for you. We shall see it in the other Re- 
views next month, and probably in some severely 
handled, according to the connection of the pro- 
prietors and editors with those whom it lashes." 

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

• The poem, in the first edition, began at the line, 
" Time was cie yet, in these degenerate days." 
U 2 


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

But, whatever may have been the faults or indis- 
cretions of this Satire, there are few who would now 
sit in judgment upon it so severely as did the author 
himself, on reading it over nine years after, when he 
had quitted England, never to return. The copy 
■which he then perused is now in possession of Mr. 
Murray, and the remarks which he has scribbled over 
its pages are well w-orth transcribing. On the first 
leaf we find — 

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

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON% 245 

" Nothing but the consideration of its being the 
property of another prevents me from consigning 
this miserable record of misplaced anger and indis- 
criminate acrimony to the flames. B." 

0])posite the passage, 

" to be misled 
By Jeffrey's heart, or Lamb's Boeotian head," 

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

Sometimes, however, he shows a disposition to 
stand by his original decisions. Thus, on the passage 
relating to a writer of certain obscure Epics (v. 793.), 
he says, — " All right ;" adding, of the same person, 
" I saw some letters of this fellow to an unfortunate 
poetess, whose productions (which the poor woman 
by no means thought vainly of) he attacked so rouglily 
and bitterly, that I could hardly regret assailing him; 
— even were it unjust, which it is not ; for, verily, 
he is an ass." On the strong lines, too (v, 953.), upon 
Clarke (a writer in a magazine called the Satirist), 

R 3 

246 NOTICES OF THE 180!>. 

he remarks, — " Right enough, — tliis was well de- 
served, and well laid on." 

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

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

" Pretty Miss Jacqueline 
Had a nose aquiline ; 
And would assert rude 
Things of Miss Gertrude ; 
AVhile Mr. Marmion 
Led a great aniiy on. 
Making Kehama look 
Like a fierce Mamaluke." 

Opposite the paragraph in praise of Mr. Crabbe 

he has written, " I consider Crabbe and Coleridge 

as the first of these times in point of power and 

fienius." On his own line, in a subsequent paragraph, 

* Lacly Byron, then Miss Milbank. 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 24'7 

" And glory, like the phcenix mkl her fires," he says, 
comically, "The devil take that phoenix — how 
came it there?" and his concluding remark on the 
whole poem is as follows : — 

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

" Diodata, Geneva, July 14. 1816. " 

While engaged in preparing his new edition for 
the press, he was also gaily dispensing the hospitali- 
ties of Newstead to a party of young college friends, 
whom, with the prospect of so long an absence from 
England, he had assembled round him at the Abbey, 
for a sort of festive farewell. The following letter 
from one of the party, Charles Skinner Matthews, 
though containing much less of the noble host him- 
self than we could have wished, yet, as a picture, 
taken freshly and at the moment, of a scene so preg- 
nant with character, will, I have little doubt, be 
highly acceptable to the reader. 


" London, M;iy 22. ISOy. 

" My dear , 

" I must begin with giving you a few particu- 
lars of the singular place which I have lately quitted. 
" Newstead Abbey is situate 136 miles from Lon- 
don, — four on this side Mansfield. It is so fine a 

24-S NOTICES OF THE ]809. 

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

" The house and gardens are entirely surrounded 
by a wall with battlements. Li front is a large lake, 
bordered here and there with castellated buildings, 
the chief of which stands on an eminence at the 
further extremity of it. Fancy all this surrounded 
with bleak and barren hills, with scarce a tree to be 
seen for miles, except a solitary clump or tw^o, and 
3'ou will have some idea of Nev/stead. For the late 
Lord being at enmity with his son, to whom the 
estate was secured by entail, resolved, out of spite 
to the same, that the estate should descend to him 


in as miserable a plight as he could possibly reduce 
it to ; for which cause, he took no care of the man- 
sion, and fell to lopping of every tree he could lay 
his hands on, so furiously, that he reduced immense 
tracts of woodland country to the desolate state I 
have just described. However, his son died before 
him, so that all his rage was thrown away. 

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

" Our party consisted of Lord Byron and four 
others, and was, now and then, increased by the 
presence of a neighbouring parson. As for our way 

250 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

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

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

" You may easily imagine how chagrined I was at 

1S09. LIFE OF LORD ByRON*. 251 

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

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

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

" Addio, my dear I., yours very affectionately, 

" C. S. Matthews." 

Having put the finishing hand to his new edition, 
he, without waiting for the fresh honours that were 
in store for him, took leave of London (whither he 
had returned) on the 1 1 th of June, and, in about a 
fortnight after, sailed for Lisbon. 

Great as was the advance which his powers had 

v.ol NOTicKS OK t;;e 1809. 

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

In stooping, as he did, to write after established 
models, as well in the Satire as in his still earlier 
poems, he showed how little he had yet explored his 
own original resources, or found out those distinctive 
marks by which he was to be known through all 
times. But, bold and energetic as v/as his general 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 253 

character, he was, in a remarkable degree, diffident 
in his intellectual powers. The consciousness of 
what he could achieve was but by degrees forced 
upon him, and the discovery of so rich a mine of 
genius in his soul came with no less surprise on 
himself than on the world. It was from the same 
slowness of self-appreciation that, afterwards, in the 
full flow of his fame, he long doubted, as we shall 
see, his own aptitude for works of wit and humour, 
— till the happy experiment of " Beppo " at once 
dissipated this distrust, and opened a new region of 
triumph to his versatile and boundless powers. 

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

" Ev'n I, least thinking of a thoughtless tlirong, 

Just skill'd to know the right and choose tlic wrong, 

Freed at that age when Reason's shield is lost 

To fight my course through Passion's countless host, 


Whom every path of Pleasure's flowery wav 
Has lured in turn, and all have led astray * — 
Ev'n I must raise my voice, ev'n I must feel 
Such scenes, such men destroy the public weal : 
Although some kind, censorious friend will say, 
' What art thou better, meddling fool f, than they?' 
And every brother Rake will smile to see 
Tliat miracle, a Moralist, in me." 

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

" The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall 
From lips that now may seem imbued with gall, 
Nor fools nor foUies tempt me to despise 
The meanest thing that crawl'd beneath my eyes. 
But now so callous grown, so changed from youth," &c. 

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

Of all the qualities, indeed, of his nature, affec- 

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

f " Fool then, and but little wiser now." — MS. ibid. 

1809. LIFE OF LOUD BYRON. 255 

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

" 'Tis time this heart should be unmoved, 
Since otlicrs it has ceased to move ; 
Yet, though I cannot be beloved, 
Still let me love ! " 

It is much, I own, to be questioned, whether, even 
under the most favourable circumstances, a dis- 
position such as I have here described could have 
escaped ultimate disappointment, or found any 
where a resting-place for its imaginings and desires. 
But, in the case of Lord Byron, disappointment met 
him on the very threshold of life. His mother, to 
whom his affections first, naturally with ardour, 
turned, either repelled them rudely, or capriciously 
trifled wjth them. In speaking of his early days to 
a friend at Genoa, a short time before his departure 
ior Greece, he traced the first feelings of pain and 

253 NOTICES OF THE i8oa 

humiliation he had ever known to the coldness with 
which his mother had received his caresses in in- 
fancy, and the frequent taunts on his personal 
deformity with which she had wounded him. 

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

" I doubt sometimes (he says, in his ' Detached 
Thoughts,') v/hether, after all, a quiet and un- 
agitated life would have suited me ; yet I sometimes 
long for it. My earliest dreams (as most boys' 
dreams are) were martial ; but a little later they 
were all for love and retirement, till the hopeles-- 
attachment to M * * * C * * * began and continuea 
(though sedulously concealed) very early in my 
teens; and so upwards for a time. This threw me 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 257 

out again ' alone on a wide, wide sea.' In the year 
1804 I recollect meeting my sister at General Har- 
court's, in Portland Place. I was then one thing, and 
as she had always till then found me. When we 
met again in 1805 (she told me since) that my tem- 
per and disposition were so completely altered, 
that I was hardly to be recognised. I was not then 
sensible of the change ; but I can believe it, and 
account for it." 

I have already described his parting with Miss 
Chaworth previously to her marriage. Once again, 
after that event, he saw her, and for the last time, 
— being invited by Mr. Chaworth to dine at An- 
nesley not long before his departure from England. 
The few years that had elapsed since their last meet- 
ing had made a considerable change in the appear- 
ance and manners of the young poet. The fat, 
unformed schoolboy was now a slender and graceful 
young man. Those emotions and passions which 
at first heighten, and then destroy, beauty, had 
as yet produced only their favourable effects on his 
features ; and, though with but little aid from the 
example of refined society, his manners had sub- 
sided into that tone of gentleness and self-possession 
which more than any thing marks the well-bred gen- 
tleman. Once only was the latter of these qualities 
put to the trial, when the little daughter of his fair 
hostess was brought into the room. At the sight of 
the child he started involuntarily, — it was with the 
utmost difficulty he could conceal his emotion ; and 
to the sensations of that moment we are indebted 
for those touching stanzas, " Well — thou art happy," 

VOL. I. s 


Sec.*, which appeared afterwards in a Miscellany 
published by one of his friends, and are now to be 
found in the general collection of his works. Under 
the influence of the same despondent passion, he 
wrote two other poems at this period, from which, 
as they exist only in the Miscellany I have just 
alluded to, and that collection has for some time 
been out of print, a few stanzas may, not improperly, 
be extracted here. 


" When man, expeU'd from Eden's bowers, 
A moment linger'd near the gate, 
Each scene recall'd the vanish 'd liours. 
And bade him curse his future fate. 

'• But wandering on through distant climes, 
He learnt to beaj- liis load of grief ; 
Just gave a sigli to other times, 
And found in busier scenes relief. 

" Thus, lady |, must it be with me, 

And I must view thy charms no more ! 
For, whilst I linger near to thee, 

I sigh for all I knew before," &c. &c. 

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

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

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

I 111 his first copy, " Thus, Mary/' 

1S09. LIFE OF LORD BYHON. . 259 


" 'Tis done — and shivering in the gale 
The bark unfurls her snowy sail ; 
And whistling o'er the bending mast, 
Loud sings on high the fresh'ning blast; 
And I must from this land be gone, 
Because I cannot love but one, 

" As some lone bird, without a mate. 
My weary heart is desolate ; 
I look around, and cannot trace 
One friendly smile or welcome face. 
And ev'n in crowds am still alone. 
Because I cannot love but one. 

" And I will cross the whitening foam, 
And I will seek a foreign home ; 
Till I forget a false fair face, 
I ne'er shall find a resting-place ; 
My own dark thoughts I cannot shun. 
But ever love, and love but one. 

" I go — but wheresoe'er I flee 

There's not an eye will weep for me ; 
There's not a kind congenial heart, 
Where I can claim the meanest part ; 
Nor thou, who hast my hopes undone, 
Wilt sigh, although I love but one. 

" To think of every early scene. 

Of what we are, and what we've been, 
Would whelm some softer liearts with woe — 
But mine, alas ! has stood the blow ; 
Yet still beats on as it begun. 
And never truly loves but one. 

s 2 

260 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

" And who that dear loved one may be 
Is not for vulgar eyes to see, 
And why that early love was crost, 
Thou know'st the best, I feel the most ; 
But few that dwell beneath the sun 
Have loved so long, and loved but one, 

" I've tried another's fetters, too, 

With charms, perchance, as fair to view ; 
And I would fain have loved as well. 
But some unconquerable spell 
Forbade my bleeding breast to own 
A kindred care for aught but one. 

" ' Twould soothe to take one lingering view, 
And bless thee in my last adieu ; 
Yet wish I not those eyes to weep 
For him that wanders o'er the deep ; 
His home, his hope, his youth, are gone, 
Yet still he loves, and loves but one." * 

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

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

" Though wheresoe'er my bark may run, 
I love but thee, I love but one." 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 261 

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

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

" My passions" (he says, in his ' Detached 
Thoughts ') " were developed very early — so early 
that iew would believe me if I were to state the 
period and the facts which accompanied it. Per- 
haps this was one of the reasons which caused the 
anticipated melancholy of my thoughts, — having 

s 3 

262 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

anticipated life. My earlier poems are the thoughts 
of one at least ten years older than the age at which 
they were written, — I don't mean for their solidity, 
but their experience. The two first Cantos of Childe 
Harold were completed at twenty-two ; and they 
are written as if by a man older than I shall probably 
ever be." 

Though the allusions in the first sentence of this 
extract have reference to a much earlier period, 
they afford an opportunity of remarking, that how- 
ever dissipated may have been the life which he led 
during the two or three years previous to his de- 
parture on his travels, yet the notion caught up by 
many, from his own allusions, in Childe Harold, to 
irregularities and orgie-s af which Newstead had 
been the scene, iz, like most other imputations 
against him, founded on his own testimony, greatly 
exaggerated. He describes, it is well known, the 
home of his poetical representative as a " monastic 
dome, condemned to uses vile," and then adds, — 

" Where Superstition once had made her den. 

Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile." 

Mr. Dallas, too, giving in to the same strain of 
exaggeration, says, in speaking of the poet's prepar- 
ations for his departure, " already satiated with 
pleasure, and disgusted with those companions who 
have no other resource, he had resolved on master- 
ing his appetites; — he broke up hisharams." The 
truth, however, is, that the narrowness of Lord 
Byron's means would alone have prevented such 
oriental luxuries. The mode of his life at Newstead 
was simple and unexpensive. His companions, though 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 263 

not averse to convivial indulgences, were of habits 
and tastes too intellectual for mere vulgar de- 
bauchery ; and, with respect to the alleged " ha- 
rams," it appears certain that one or two suspected 
" subintroductce " (as the ancient monks of the 
abbey would have styled them), and those, too, 
among the ordinary menials of the establishment, 
were all that even scandal itself could ever fix upon 
to warrant such an assumption. 

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

" I have a notion (he says) that gamblers are as 
happy as many people, being always excited. Wo- 
men, wine, fame, the table, — even ambition, sale 
now and then ; but every turn of the card and cast 
of the dice keeps the gamester alive: besides, one 
can game ten times longer than one can do any 
thing else. I was very fond of it when young, that 
is to say, of hazard, for I hate all card games, — 
even faro. When macco (or whatever they spell it) 
was introduced, I gave up the whole thing, for I 
loved and missed the rattle and dash of the box and 
dice, and the glorious uncertainty, not only of good 
luck or bad luck, but of any luck at all, as one had 
sometimes to throw often to decide at all. I have 
thrown as many as fourteen mains running, and 
carried off all the cash upon the table occasionally ; 
but I had no coolness, or judgment, or calculation. 
It was the delight of the thing that pleased me. Upon 
the whole, I left off in time, without being much a 
winner or loser. Since one-and-twenty years of age 

s 4 



I played but little, and then never above a hundred, 
or two, or three." 

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


" Twelve o'clock, Friday night. 
" My dear Bankes, 

" I have just received your note ; believe me I 
regret most sincerely that I was not fortunate 
enough to see it before, as I need not repeat to you 
that your conversation for half an hour would have 
been much more agreeable to me than gambling or 
drinking, or any other fashionable mode of passing 

an evening abroad or at home I really am very 

sorry that I went out previous to the arrival of your 
despatch : in future pray let me hear from you 
before six, and whatever my engagements may be, 

I will always postpone them Believe me, with 

that deference which I have always from my child- 
hood paid to your talents, and with somewhat a 
better opinion of your heart than I have hitherto 

" Yours ever," &c. 

Among the causes — if not rather among the re- 
sults — of that disposition to melancholy, which, 
after all, perhaps, naturally belonged to his tempera- 
ment, must not be forgotten those sceptical views of 
religion, which clouded, as has been shown, his boyish 
thoughts, and, at the time of which I am speaking, 
gathered still more darkly over his mind. In general 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 265 

we find the young too ardently occupied with the 
enjoyments which this life gives or promises to afford 
either leisure or inclination for much enquiry into 
the mysteries of the next. But with him it was 
unluckily otherwise ; and to have, at once, antici- 
pated the worst experience both of the voluptuary 
and the reasoner, — to have reached, as he sup- 
posed, the boundary of this world's pleasures, and 
see nothing but " clouds and darkness" beyond, was 
the doom, the anomalous doom, which a nature, pre- 
mature in all its passions and powers, inflicted on 
Lord Byron. 

When Pope, at the age of five-and-twenty, com- 
plained of being weary of the world, he was told by 
Swift that he " had not yet acted or suffered enough 
in the world to have become weary of it *." But 
far different was the youth of Pope and of Byron ; 
— what the former but anticipated in thought, the 
latter had drunk deep of in reality ; — at an age when 
the one was but looking forth on the sea of life, the 
other had plunged in, and tried its depths. Swift 
himself, in whom early disappointments and wrongs 
had opened a vein of bitterness that never again 
closed, affords a far closer parallel to the fate of our 
noble poetf , as well in the untimeliness of the trials 

* 1 give the words as Johnson has reported them ; — in 
Swift's own letter they are, if I recollect rlglit, rather 

f There is, at least, one striking point of similarity between 
tlieir characters in the disposition which Johnson has thus 
attributed to Swift : — " The suspicions of Swift's irreligion," 
he says, " proceeded, in a great ineasurc, from his dread of 
hypocrisy ; instead of wishing to seem better, he delighted in 
scemin" worse then he wets." 

266 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

he had been doomed to encounter, as in the traces 
of their liavoc which they left in his character. 

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

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

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

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON-. 267 

finite pilgrimage ; and never was there a change 
wrought in disposition and character to which Shak- 
speare's fancy of" sweet bells jangled out of tune" 
more truly applied. The unwillingness of Lord Car- 
lisle to countenance him, and his humiliating posi- 
tion in consequence, completed the full measure of 
that mortification towards which so many other 
causes had concurred. Baffled, as he had been, in 
his own ardent pursuit of affection and friendship, 
his sole revenge and consolation lay in doubting that 
any such feelings really existed. The various crosses 
he had met with, in themselves sufficiently irritating 
and wounding, were rendered still more so by the 
high, impatient temper with which he encountered 
them. What others would have bowed to, as mis- 
fortunes, his proud spirit rose against, as wrongs ; 
and the vehemence of this re-action produced, at 
once, a revolution throughout his whole character *, 
in which, as in revolutions of the political world, all 
that was bad and irregular in his nature burst forth 
with all that was most energetic and grand. The 
very virtues and excellencies of his disposition 
ministered to the violence of this change. The 
same ardour that had burned through his friendships 
and loves now fed the fierce explosions of his indig- 

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



nation and scorn. His natural vivacity and humour 
but lent a fresher flow to his bitterness *, till he, at 
last, revelled in it as an indulgence ; and that hatred 
of hypocrisy, which had hitherto only shown itself 
in a too shadowy colouring of his own youthful frail- 
ties, now hurried him, from his horror of all false 
pretensions to virtue, into the still more dangerous 
boast and ostentation of vice. 

The following letter to his mother, written a few 
daj'^s before he sailed, gives some particulars respect- 
ing the persons who composed his suit. Robert 
Rushton, whom he mentions so feelingly in the post- 
script, was the boy introduced, as his page, in the 
first Canto of Childe Harold. 


" Falmouth, June 22. 1809. 
"Dear Mother, 

" I am about to sail in a few days ; probably be- 
fore this reaches you. Fletcher begged so hard, 
that I have continued him in my service. If he 
does not behave well abroad, I will send him back 
in a transport. I have a German servant, (who has 
been with Mr. Wilbraham in Persia before, and was 
strongly recommended to me by Dr. Butler, of Har- 
row,) Robert and William ; they constitute my 
whole suite. I have letters in plenty: — you shall 
hear from me at the different ports I touch upon ; 
but you must not be alarmed if my letters miscarry. 

* " It was bitterness that they mistook for frolic." — John- 
son's account of himself at the university, in Boswell, 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 269 

The Continent is in a fine state — an insurrection has 
broken out at Paris, and the Austrians are beating 
Buonaparte — the Tyrolese have risen. 

" There is a picture of me in oil, to be sent down 
to Newstead soon. — I wish the Miss P * * s had 
something better to do than carry my miniatures to 
Nottingham to copy. Now they have done it, you 
may ask them to copy the others, which are greater 
favourites than my own. As to money matters, I 
am ruined — at least till Rochdale is sold ; and if 
that does not turn out well, I shall enter into the 
Austrian or Russian service — perhaps the Turkish, 
if 1 like their manners. The world is all before me, 
and I leave England without regret, and without a 
wish to revisit any thing it contains, except yourself, 
and your present residence. 

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

To those who have in their remembrance his poet- 
ical description of the state of mind in which he now 
took leave of England, the gaiety and levity of the 
letters I am about to give will appear, it is not im- 
probable, strange and startling. But, in a tempera- 
ment like that of Lord Byron, such bursts of vivacity 
on the surface are by no means incompatible with a 

270 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

wounded spirit underneath* ; and the hght, laughing 
tone that pervades these letters but makes the feeling 
of" solitariness that breaks out in them the more strik- 
ing and affecting. 

Letter 35. TO MR. HENRY DRURY. 

« Falmouth, June 25. 1809. 

My dear Drury, 

" We sail to-morrow in the Lisbon packet, 
having been detained till now by the lack of wind, 
and other necessaries. These being at last procured, 
by this time to-morrow evening we shall be embark- 
ed on the «?ide ^•orld of ^'aters, I'or all the ?;orld like 
Robinson Crusoe. The Malta vessel not sailing for 
some weeks, we have determined to go by way of 
Lisbon, and, as my servants term it, to see ' that 
there Portingale' — thence to Cadiz and Gibraltar, 
and so on our old route to Malta and Constantinople, 
if so be that Captain Kidd, our gallant commander, 
imderstands plain sailing and Mercator, and takes us 
on our voyage all according to the chart. 

" Will you tell Dr. Butler f that I have taken the 

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

f The reconciliation which took place between him and 
Dr. Butler, before his departure, is one of those instances of 
placability and pliableness with which his life abounded. 
We have seen, too, from the manner in which he mentions the 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 271 

treasure of a servant, Friese, the native of Prussia 
Proper, into my service from his recommendation. 
He has been ail among tlie Worshippers of Fire in 
Persia, and has seen Persepolis and all that. 

" H * * has made woundy preparations for a book 
on his return; 100 pens, two gallons of japan ink, 
and several volumes of best blank, is no bad provi- 
sion for a discerning public. I have laid down my 

circumstance in one of his note-books, that the reconcilement 
was of that generously retrospective kind, in which not only 
the feeling of hostility is renounced in future, but a strong 
regret expressed that it had been ever entertained. 

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

" If once my Muse a harsher portrait drew, 

"Warm with her wrongs, and deem'd the likeness true. 
By cooler judgment taught, her fault she owns, — 
With noble minds a fault, confess'd, atones." 

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

" Another fills his magisterial chair ; 
Reluctant Ida owns a stranger's care ; 
Oh may like honours crown his future name, ■— 
If such liis virtues, such sliall be his fame." 

272 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

pen, but have promised to contribute a chapter on 
the state of morals, &c. &c. 

" The cock is crowing, 
I must be going, 
And can no more." 

Ghost of Gaffer Thumb. 

" Adieu. — Believe me," &c. &c. 

Letter 36. TO MR. HODGSON. 

" Falmouth, June 25. 1809. 
" My dear Hodgson, 

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

" We are going to Lisbon first, because the Malta 
packet has sailed, d'ye see ? — from Lisbon to Gibral- 
tar, Malta, Constantinople, and ' all that,' as Orator 
Henley said, when he put the Church, and ' all that,' 
in danger. 

"This town of Falmouth, as you will partly 
conjecture, is no great ways from the sea. It is 
defended on the sea-side by tway castles, St. Maws 
and Pendennis, extremely well calculated for annoy- 
ing every body except an enemy. St. Maws is garri- 
soned by an able-l3odied person of fourscore, a 
widower. He has the whole command and sole 
management of six most unmanageable pieces of 
ordnance, admirably adapted for the destruction of 

1809. LIFE OP LORD BYRON. 273 

Pendennis, a like tower of strength on the opposite 
side of the Channel. We have seen St. Maws, but 
Pendennis they will not let us behold, save at a dis- 
tance, because Hobhouse and I are suspected oi' 
having already taken St. Maws by a coup de main. 

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

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

" Yours," &c. 

In this letter the following lively verses were en- 
closed : — 

" Falmouth Roads, June 30. 1809. 
" Huzza ! Hodgson, we are going, 
Our embargo's off" at last ; 
Favourable breezes blowing 

Bend the canvass o'er the mast. 

From aloft the signal 's streaming, 

Hark ! the farewell gun is fired. 

Women screeching, tars blaspheming, 

Tell us that our time's expired, 

VOL. I. T 

27-1 NOTICES OF THK 1809. 

Here 's a rascal, 
Come to task all, 
Prying from the Custom-house ; 
Trunks unpacking, 
Cases cracking, 
Not a corner for a mouse 
' Scapes unsearch'd amid the racket, 
Ere we sail on board the Packet. 

" Xow our boatmen quit their mooring 
And all hands must ply the oar ; 
Baggage from the quay is lowering, 

We're impatient — push from shore. 
♦ Have a care ! that case holds liquor — 

Stop the boat — I'm sick — oh Lord ! ' 
' Sick, ma'am, damme, you '11 be sicker 
Ere you 've been an hour on board.' 
Thus are screaming 
Men and women, 
Gemmen, ladies, servants, Jacks ; 
Here entangling. 
All are wrangling. 
Stuck together close as wax. — 
Such the general noise and racket, 
Ere we reach the Lisbon Packet. 

" Now we've reach'd her, lo ! the captain. 
Gallant Kidd, commands the crew ; 
Passengers their berths are clapt in. 

Some to grumble, some to spew, 
' Hey day ! call you that a cabin ? 

Why 'tis hardly three feet square ; 
Not enough to stow Queen Mab in — . 
Who the deuce can harbour there?' 
' Who, sir ? plenty — 
Nobles twenty 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYUON. 275 

Did at once my vessel fill' — 
' Did they ? Jesus, 
How you squeeze us ! 
Would to God they did so still : 
Then I'd scape the heat and racket, 
Of the good ship, Lisbon Packet.' 

" Fletcher ! Murray ! Bob ! where are you ? 
Stretch'd along the deck like logs — 
Bear a hand, you jolly tar, you ! 

Here's a rope's end for the dogs. 
H * * muttering fearful curses, 

As the hatchway down he rolls ; 
Now his breakfast, now his verses. 
Vomits fortli — and damns our souls. 
' Here's a stanza 
On Braganza — 
Help !' — 'A couplet ? * — ' No, a cup 
Of warm water.' — 
' What's the matter ? ' 
' Zounds! my liver's coming up; 
I shall not survive the racket 
Of this brutal Lisbon Packet.' 

" Now at length we're off for Turkey, 

Lord knows when we sliall come back ! 
Breezes foul and tempests murky 

May unship us in a crack. 
But, since life at most a jest is, 

As philosophers allow. 
Still to laugh by far the best is, 
Then laugh on — as I do now. 
Laugh at all things, 
Great and small things 
Sick or well, at sea or shore ; 
While we're quaffing. 
Let's have laughing — 
Who tlie (k'vil cares for more ? — 
T 2 



Some good wine ! and who would lack it, 
Ev'n on board the Libbon Packet ? 

«' Byiion." 

On the second of July the packet sailed from Fal- 
mouth, and, aftei' a favourable passage of four days 
and a half, the voyagers reached Lisbon, and took 
up their abode in that city.* 

The following letters, from Lord Byron to his 
friend Mr. Hodgson, though written in his most 
light and schoolboy strain, will give some idea of 
the first impressions that his residence in Lisbon 
made upon him. Such letters, too, contrasted with 
the noble stanzas on Portugal in " Childe Harold," 
will show how various were the moods of his versa- 

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


tile mind, and what different aspects it could take 
when in repose or on the wing. 

Letters?. TO MR. HODGSON. 

" Lisbon, July 1 6. 1 809. 

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

" I am very happy here, because I loves oranges, 
and talk bad Latin to the monks, who understand it, 
as it is like their own, — and I goes into society 
(with my pocket-pistols), and I swims in the Tagus 
all across at once, and I rides on an ass or a mule, 
and swears Portuguese, and have got a diarrhoea and 
bites from the musquitoes. But what of that? 
Comfort must not be expected by folks that go a 

" When the Portuguese are pertinacious, I say, 
* Carracho I' — the great oath of the grandees, that 
very well supplies the place of 'Damme,' — and, 
when dissatisfied with my neighbour, I pronounce 
him ' Ambra di merdo. ' With these two phrases, 
and a third, ' Avra bouro,' which signifieth ' Get an 
ass,' I am universally understood to be a person of 
degree and a master of languages. How merrily 
we lives that travellers be ! — if we had food and 
raiment. But in sober sadness, any thing is better 



than England, and I am infinitely amused with my 
pilgrimage as far as it has gone. 

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

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

Letter 38. TO MR. HODGSON. 

« Gibraltar, Augusts. 1S09. 

" I have just arrived at this place after a journey 
through Portugal, and a part of Spain, of nearly 500 
miles. We left Lisbon and travelled on horseback * 
to Seville and Cadiz, and thence in the Hyperion 
frigate to Gibraltar. The horses are excellent — 
we rode seventy miles a day. Eggs and wine, and 
hard beds, are all the accommodation we found, and, 
in such torrid weather, quite enough. My health is 
better than in England. 

" Seville is a fine town, and the Sierra Morena, 


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


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

" You will not expect a long letter after my riding 
so far ' on hollow pampered jades of Asia.' Talking 
of Asia puts me in mind of Africa, which is within 
five miles of my present residence. 1 am going 
over before I go on to Constantinople. 

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

" I have seen Sir John Carr at Seville and Cadiz, 
and, like Swift's barber, have been down on my 
knees to beg he would not put me into black and 
white. Pray remember me to the Drurj^s and the 
Davies, and all of that stamp who are yet ex- 

7 4' 

280 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

tant. * Send me a letter and news to Malta. My next 
epistle shall be from Mount Caucasus or Mount 
Sion. I shall return to Spain before I see England, 
for I am enamoured of the country. Adieu, and 
believe me," &c. 

In a letter to Mrs. Byron, dated a few days later, 
from Gibraltar, he recapitulates the same account of 
his progress, only dwelling rather more diffusely on 
some of the details. Thus, of Cintra and Mafra : — 
" To make amends for thisf, the village of Cintra, 
about fifteen miles from the capital, is, perhaps in 
every respect, the most delightful in Europe ; it 
contains beauties of every description, natural and 
artificial. Palaces and gardens rising in the midst 
of rocks, cataracts, and precipices ; convents on 
stupendous heights — a distant view of the sea and 
the Tagus ; and, besides (though that is a secondary 
consideration), is remarkable as the scene of Sir H. 
D.'s Convention. -^ It unites in itself all the wild- 

* " This sort of passage," says Mr. Hodgson, in a note on 
his copy of this letter, " constantly occurs in his correspond- 
ence. Nor was his interest confined to mere remembrances 
and enquiries after health. Were it possible to state all he has 
done for numerous friends, he would appear amiable indeed. 
For myself, I am bound to acknowledge, in the fullest and 
warmest manner, his most generous and well-timed aid ; and, 
were my poor friend Bland alive, he would as gladly bear 
the like testimony ; — though 1 have most reason, of all men, 
to do so." 

t The filthiness of Lisbon and its inhabitants. 

I Colonel Napier, in a note in his able History of the 
Peninsular War, notices the mistake into which Lord Byron 

1809. LIFE OF LOUD BYRON. 281 

ness of the western highlands, with the verdure of 
the south of France. Near this place, about ten 
miles to the right, is the palace of Mafra, the boast 
of Portugal, as it might be of any other country, in 
point of magnificence without elegance. There is 
a convent annexed ; the monks, who possess large 
revenues, are courteous enough, and understand 
Latin, so that we had a long conversation : they 
have a large library, and asked me if the English 
had any books in their country?" 

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

" We lodged in the house of two Spanish unmar- 
ried ladies, who possess six houses in Seville, and 
gave me a curious specimen of Spanish manners. 
They are women of character, and the eldest a fine 
woman, the youngest pretty, but not so good a figure 
as Donna Josepha. The freedom of manner, which 
is general here, astonished me not a little ; and in 
the course of further observation, I find that re- 
serve is not the characteristic of the Spanish belles, 
who are, in general, very handsome, with large black 
eyes, and very fine forms. The eldest honoured 
your iiniooriliy son with very particular attention, 
embracing him with great tenderness at parting (I 
was there but three days), after cutting off a lock of 

and others were led on this subject ; — the signature of the 
Convention, as v/ell as all tlie other proceedings connected 
with it, having taken place at a distance of thirty miles from 

282 KOTICES OF THE 1809. 

Ins hair, and presenting him with one of her own, 
about three feet in length, which I send, and beg 
you will retain till my return. Her last words were, 
' Adios, tu hermoso ! me gusto mucho.' — 'Adieu, 
you pretty fellow ! you please me much.' She 
offered me a share of her apartment, which my 
virtue induced me to decline ; she laughed, and said 
I had some English " amante " (lover), and added 
that she was going to be married to an officer in the 
Spanish army." 

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

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

"^ The night before I left it, I sat in the box at 
the opera, with admiral * * * 's family, an aged wife 
and a fine daughter, Sennorita * * *. The girl is 
very pretty, in the Spanish style ; in my opinion, by 
no means inferior to the English in charms, and cer- 
tainly superior in fascination. Long, black hair, 
dark languishing eyes, clear olive complexions, and 
forms more graceful in motion than can be conceived 
by an Englishman used to the drowsy listless air of 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 283 

liis countrywomen, added to the most becoming 
dress, and, at the same time, the most decent in the 
world, render a Spanish beauty irresistible. 

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

To these adventures, or rather glimpses of adven- 
tures, which he met with in his hasty passage 
through Spain, he adverted, I recollect, briefly, in 
the early part of his " Memoranda ;"' and it was the 
younger, I think, of his fair hostesses at Seville, 
whom he there described himself as making earnest 

28-1 xVOTICES OF THE 1809. 

love to, with the help of a dictionary. " For some 
lime," he said, " I went on prosperously both as a 
linguist and a lover *, till at length, the lady took a 
t'ancy to a ring which I wore, and set her heart on 
my giving it to her, as a pledge of my sincerity. 
This, however, could not be; — anything but the ring, 
I declared, was at her service, and much more 
than its value, — but the ring itself I had made a 
vow never to give away." The young Spaniard 
grew angry as the contention went on, and it was 
not long before the lover became angry also ; till, at 
length, the affair ended by their separating unsuc- 
cessful on both sides. " Soon after this, " said he, 
'^ I sailed for Malta, and there parted with both my 
heart and ring." 

In the letter from Gibraltar, just cited, he adds 
— "I am going over to Africa to-morrow ; it is only 
six miles from this fortress. My next stage is Cag- 
liari in Sardinia, where I shall be presented to his 
majesty. I have a most superb uniform as a court- 
dress, indispensable in travelling." His plan of visit- 
ing Africa was, however, relinquished. After a 
short stay at Gibraltar, during which he dined one 
day with Lady Westmoreland, and another with 
General Castanos, he, on the 19th of August, took 
his departure for Malta, in the packet, having first 
sent Joe Murray and young Rushton back to Eng- 

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

" 'Tis pleasing to be school'd in a strange tongue 
By female lips and eyes — that is, I mean, 
When both the teacher and the taught are young, 

As was the case, at least, where I have been," &c. Sec, 


land, — the latter being unable, from ill health, to 
accompany him any further. " Pray," he says to 
his mother, " show the lad every kindness, as he is 
my great favourite." * 

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

Letter 39. TO MR. RUSH TON. 

" Gibraltar, August 15. 1809. 
« Mr. Rushton, 

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

" Byron." 

* The postscript to this letter is as follows : — 
" P. S. So Lord G. is married to a rustic ! Well done ! If 
I wed, I will bring you home a sultana, with half a dozen 
cities for a dowry, and reconcile you to an Ottoman daughter- 
in-law with a bushel of pearls, not larger than ostrich eggs, or 
smaller than walnuts." 

286 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

It was the fate of Lord Byron, throughout life, to 
meet, wherever he went, with persons who, by some 
tinge of the extraordinary in their own fates or cha- 
racters, were prepared to enter, at once, into full 
sympathy with his ; and to this attraction, by which 
he drew towards him all strange and eccentric spirits, 
he owed some of the most agreeable connections of 
his life, as well as some of the most troublesome. Of 
the former description was an intimacy which he 
now cultivated during his short sojourn at Malta. 
The lady with whom he formed this acquaintance was 
the same addressed by him under the name of 
" Florence " in Childe Harold ; and in a letter to his 
mother from Malta, he thus describes her in prose: 
— " This letter is committed to the charge of a very 
extraordinary woman, whom you have doubtless 
heard of, Mrs. S * S *, of whose escape the Marquis 
de Salvo published a narrative a few years ago. She 
has since been shipwrecked, and her life has been 
from its commencement so fertile in remarkable inci- 
dents that in a romance they would appear improbable. 
She was born at Constantinople, where her father, 
Baron H *, was Austrian ambassador ; married un- 
happily, yet has never been impeached in point of 
character ; excited the vengeance of Buonaparte by 
a part in some conspiracy ; several times risked her 
life ; and is not yet twenty-five. She is here on her 
way to England, to join her husband, being obliged 
to leave Trieste, where she was paying a visit to her 
mother, by the approach of the French, and embarks 
soon in a ship of war. Since my arrival here. I 
have had scarcely any other companion. I have 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 287 

found her very pretty, very accomplished, and 
extremely eccentric. Buonaparte is even now so 
incensed against her, tiiat her life would be in 
some danger if she were taken prisoner a seconU 
time. " 

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

" Sweet Florence ! could another ever share 

This wayward, loveless heart, it would be thine : 
But, check'd by every tie, I may not dare 
To cast a worthless offering at thy shrine. 

Nor ask so dear a breast to feel one pang for mine. 

" Thus Harold deem'd as on that lady's eye 

He look'd, and met its beam without a thought, 
Save admiration, glancing harmless by," &c. &c. 

In one so imaginative as Lord Byron, who, while 
he infused so much of his life into his poetry, min- 
gled also not a little of poetry with his life, it is dif- 
ficult, in unravelling the texture of his feelings, to 
distinguish at all times between the fancifid and the 
real. His description here, for instance, of the un- 
moved and " loveless heart," with which he contem- 
l^lated even the charms of this attractive person, is 
wholly at variance, not only with the anecdote from 
his "Memoranda" which I have recalled, but with 
the statements in many of his subsequent letters, 
and, above all, with one of the most graceful of his 
lesser poems, purporting to be addressed to this 


same lady during a thunder-storm, on his road to 
Zitza. * 

Notwithstanding, however, these counter evi- 
dences, I am much disposed to believe that the repre- 
sentation of the state of heart in the foregoing 
extract from Childe Harold may be regarded as the 
true one ; and that the notion of his being in love 
was but a dream that sprung up afterwards, when the 
image of the fair Florence had become idealised in 
his fancy, and every remembrance of their pleasant 
hours among " Calypso's isles" came invested by his 
imagination with the warm aspect of love. It will 
be recollected that to the chilled and sated feelings 
which early indulgence, and almost as early disen- 
chantment, had left beliind, he attributes in these 
verses the calm and passionless regard, with which 
even attractions like those of Florence were viewed 

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

" And since I now remember thee 
In darkness and in dread, 
As in those hours of revelry, 
Which mirth and music sped ; 

" Do thou, amidst the fair white walls. 
If Cadiz yet be free, 
At times, from out her latticed haUs, 
Look o'er the dark blue sea ; 

" Then think upon Calypso's isles, 
Endear'd by days gone by ; 
To others give a thousand smiles, 
To me a single sigh," &c. &c. 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYKOX. 289 

by him. Tliat such was actually his distaste, at this 
period, to all real objects of love or passion (however 
his fancy could call up creatures of its own to wor- 
ship) there is every reason to believe ; and the 
same morbid indifference to those pleasures he had 
once so ardently pursued still continued to be pro- 
fessed by him on his return to England. No ancho- 
ret, indeed, could claim for himself much more apa- 
thy towards all such allurements than he did at that 
period. But to be thus saved from temptation was a 
dear-bought safety, and, at the age of three-and- 
twenty, satiety and disgust are but melancholy sub- 
stitutes for virtue. 

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

The route which Lord Byron now took through 
Albania, as well as those subsequent journeys 
through other parts of Turkey, which he performed 
in company with his friend Mr. Hobhouse, may be 
traced, by such as are desirous of details on the 
subject, in the account which the latter gentleman 
has given of his travels ; an account which, interest- 
ing from its own excellence in every merit that 
should adorn such a work, becomes still more so 
from the feeling that Lord Iiyron is, as it were, pre- 
sent through its pages, and that we there follow his 

VOL. I. u 

290 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

first youthful footsteps into the land with whose 
name he has intertwined his own for ever. As I 
am enabled, however, by the letters of the noble 
poet to his mother, as well as by others, still more 
curious, which are now, for the first time, published, 
to give his own rapid and lively sketches of his wan- 
derings, I shall content myself, after this general 
reference to the volume of Mr. Hobhouse, with such 
occasional extracts from its pages as may throw light 
upon the letters of his friend. 

Letter 40. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Prevesa, November 12. 1809. 
"• My dear Mother, 

" I have now been some time in Turkey : this 
place is on the coast, but I have traversed the in- 
terior of the province of Albania on a visit to the 
Pacha. I left Malta in the Spider, a brig of war, 
on the 21st of September, and arrived in eight days 
at Prevesa. I thence have been about 150 miles, as 
far as Tepaleen, his Highness's country palace, where 
I stayed three days. The name of the Pacha is Ali, 
and he is considered a man of the first abilities : he 
governs the whole of Albania (the ancient Illyricum), 
Epirus, and part of Macedonia. His son, Vely Pacha, 
to whom he has given me letters, governs the ^Morea, 
and has great influence in Egypt; in short, he is one 
of the most powerful men in the Ottoman empire. 
When I reached Yanina, the capital, after a journey 
of three days over the mountains, through a country 
of the most picturesque beauty, I found that Ali 
Pacha was with his army in Illyricum, besieging 

1809. LIFE OF LOKD EYROK. 291 

Ibrahim Paclia In the castle of Berat. He 
heard that an Englishman of rank was in his do- 
minions, and had left orders in Yanina witli the 
commandant to provide a house, and supply me 
with every kind of necessary gratis ; and, though I 
have been allowed to make presents to the slaves, 
S:c., I have not been permitted to pay for a single 
article of household consumption. 

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

* Tlie following is ]Mr. Hobliouse's less embellished desci;;)- 
tion of this scene ; — " The court at Tepellene, which was 
enclosed on two sides by the i)alace, and on the other two 
sides by a high wall, presented us, at our first entrance, with a 
siglit something like wiiat we might have, perliaps, beheld 
some hundred years ago in the castle-yard of a great feudal 
lord. Soldiers, with their arms piled against the wall near 
them, were assembled in different parts of the square : some of 
them pacing slowly backwards and forwards, and others sitting 
on the ground in groups. Several horses, completely capa- 
risoned, were leading about, whilst others were neigliing under 
the hands of the grooms. In the part farthest from the 
dwelling, preparations were making for the feast of the night; 
and several kids and sheep were being dressed by cooks who 

U 2 

292 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

leen at five in the afternoon, as the sun was going 
down. It brought to my mind (with some change 

were themselves half armed. Every thing wore a most martial 
look, though not exactly in the style of the head-quarters of a 
Christian general ; for many of the soldiers were in the most 
common dress, without shoes, and having more wildness in 
their air and manner than the Albanians we had before seen." 
On comparing this description, which is itself sufficiently 
striking, with those which Lord Byron has given of the same 
scene, both in the letter to his mother, and in the second 
Canto of Cliilde Harold, we gain some insight into the process 
by which imagination elevates, without falsifying, reality, and 
facts become brightened and refined into poetry. Ascending 
from the representation drawn faithfully on the spot by the 
traveller, to the more fanciful arrangement of the same mate- 
rials in the letter of the poet, we at length, by one step more, 
arrive at that consummate, idealised picture, tlie result of both 
memory and invention combined, which in the following 
splendid stanzas is presented to us : — 

" Amidst no common pomp the despot sate, 
While busy preparations shook the court. 
Slaves, eunuchs, soldiers, guests, and santons wait ; 
Within, a palace, and without, a fort : 

Here men of every clime appear to make resort. 

" Richly caparison'd, a ready row 

Of armed horse, and many a warlike store, 
Circled the wide-extending court below ; 
Above, strange groups adorn'd the corridore ; 
And oft-times through the area's echoing door 
Some high-capp'd Tartar spurr'd his steed away : 
The Turk, the Greek, the Albanian, and the Moor, 
Here mingled in their many-hued array. 

While the deep war-drum's sound announced the close of day. 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 293 

of dress, however) Scott's description of Branksome 
Castle in his IjCfi/, and the feudal system. The 
Albanians, in their dresses, (the most magnificent 
in the world, consisting of a long tvhite hilt, gold- 
worked cloak, crimson velvet gold-laced jacket and 
waistcoat, silver mounted pistols and daggers,) the 
Tartars with their high caps, the Turks in their vast 
pelisses and turbans, the soldiers and black slaves 
with the horses, the former in groups in an immense 
large open gallery in front of the palace, the latter 
placed in a kind of cloister below it, two hundred 
steeds ready caparisoned to move in a momentj 

" The wild Albanian, kirtled to his knee, 
With shawl-girt head and ornamented gun, 
And gold-embroider'd garments, fair to see ; 
The crimson-scarfed men of Macedon j 
The Delhi, with his cap of terror on, 
And crooked glaive ; the lively, supple Greek ; 
And swarthy Nubia's mutilated son ; 
The bearded Turk that rarely deigns to speak, 

jMaster of all around — too potent to be meek, 

" Are mix'd, conspicuous : some recline in groups, 
Scanning the motley scene that varies round ; 
There some grave Moslem to devotion stoops. 
And some that smoke, and some that play, are found ; 
Here the Albanian proudly treads the ground ; 
Half whispering there the Greek is heard to prate ; 
Hark ! from the mosque the nightly solemn sound. 
The Muezzin's call doth shake the minaret, 
There is no god but God! — to prayer — lo ! God is 
great ! ' " 

Childe Harold, Canto II. 

u 3 

294- NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

couriers entering or passing out witli despatches, 
the kettle-drums beating, boys calling the hour 
from the minaret of the mosque, altogether, with 
the singular appearance of the building itself, formed 
a new and delightful spectacle to a stranger. I 
was conducted to a very handsome apartment, and 
my health enquired after by the vizier's secretary, 
' a-la-mode Turque ! ' 

" The next day I was introduced to Ali Pacha. I 
was dressed in a full suit of staff uniform, with a very 
magnificent sabre, Sec. The vizier received me 
in a large room paved with marble ; a fountain was 
playing in the centre; the apartment was surrounded 
by scarlet ottomans. He received me standing, a 
wonderful compliment from a Mussulman, and made 
me sit down on his right hand. I have a Greek 
interpreter for general use, but a physician of All's, 
named Femlario, who understands Latin, acted for 
me on this occasion. His first question was, why, 
at so early an age, I left my country ? — (the Turks 
have no idea of travelling for amusement.) He then 
said, the English minister, Captain Leake, had told 
him I was of a great family, and desired his respects 
to my mother; which I now, in the name of Ali 
Pacha, present to you. He said he was certain I 
was a man of birth, because I had small ears, curling 
hair, and little white hands *, and expressed himself 
pleased with my appearance and garb. He told me 

* In the shape of the hands, as a mark of high birth. Lord 
Byron himself had as implicit faith as the Pacha : see his note 
on the line, " Tliough on more tlwrovgk-bred or fairer fingers," 
in Don Juan. 

1809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 235 

to consider him as a flither whilst I was in Turkey, 
and said he looked on me as his son. Indeed, he 
treated me like a child, sending me almonds and 
sugared sherbet, fruit and sweetmeats, twenty times 
a day. He begged me to visit him often, and at 
night, when he was at leisure. I then, after coffee 
and pipes, retired for the first time. I saw him thrice 
afterwards. It is singular, that the Turks, who have 
no hereditary dignities, and few great families, ex- 
cept the Sultans, pay so much respect to birth ; for 
I found my pedigree more regarded than my title. * 

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

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

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

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

u 4. 

296 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

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

" Fletcher's next epistle will be full of marvels: we 

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

1809. LIFE OF LORD KYRON, 297 

were one night lost for nine hours in the mountains 
in a thunder-storm *, and since nearly wrecked. In 

* In die route from loannina to Zitza, Mr. Hobhouse and 
the secretary of Ali, accompanied by one of the servants, had 
rode on before the rest of the party, and an-ived at the village 
just as the evening set in. After describing the sort of hovel 
in which they were to take up their quarters for the night, 
Mr. Hobhouse thus continues : — " Vasilly was despatched 
into the village to procure eggs and fowls, that would be 
ready, as we thought, by the arrival of the second party. But 
an hour passed away and no one appeared. It was seven 
o'clock, and the storm liad increased to a fury I had never 
before, and, indeed, have never since, seen equalled. The 
roof of our hovel shook under the clatterinsr torrents and susts 
of wind. The tluuider roared, as it seemed, without any in- 
tennission ; for the echoes of one peal had not ceased to roll 
in the mountains, before another tremendous crash burst over 
our heads ; whilst the plains and the distant hills (visible 
through the cracks of the cabin) appeared in a perpetual blaze. 
The tempest was altogether terrific, and worthy of the Grecian 
Jove ; and the peasants, no less religious than their ancestors, 
confessed their alarm. The women wept, and the men, calling 
on the name of God, crossed themselves at every repeated 

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

" A little after midnight, a man, panting and pale, and 

298 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

both cases Fletcher was sorely bewildered, from 
apprehensions of famine and banditti in the first, and 
drowning in the second instance. His eyes were a 
little hurt by the lightning, or crying (I don't know 

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

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

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

1809. I>IFE OF LOUD BYnON'. 299 

vvliicii), but are now recovered. When you write, 
address to me at Mr. Strane's, English consul, 
Patras, Morea. 

" I could tell you I know not how many incidents 
that I think would amuse you, but they crowd on 
my mind as much as they would swell my paper, 
and I can neither arrange them in the one, nor put 
them down on the other except in the greatest con- 
fusion. I like the Albanians much ; they are not 
all Turks ; some tribes are Christians. But their 
religion makes little difference in their manner or 
conduct. They are esteemed the best troops in the 
Turkish service. I lived on my route, two days at 
once, and three days again in a barrack at Salora, 
and never found soldiers so tolerable, though I have 
been in the garrisons of Gibraltar and Malta, and 
seen Spanish, French, Sicilian, and British troops in 
abundance. I have had nothing stolen, and was 
always welcome to their provision and milk. Not a 
week ago an Albanian chief, (every village has its 
chief, who is called Primate,) after helping us out 
of the Turkish galley in her distress, feeding us, and 
lodging my suite, consisting of Fletcher, a Greek, 
two Athenians, a Greek priest, and my companion, 
Mr. Hobhouse, refused any compensation but a 
written paper stating that I was well received ; 
and when I pressed him to accept a few sequins, 
' No,' he replied ; ' I wish you to love me, not to 
pay me.' These are his words. 

" It is astonishing how far money goes in this coun- 
try. While I was in the capital I had nothing to 
pay by the vizier's order ; but since, though I have 

300 NOTICES OF THE 1809. 

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

" Byron." 

^809. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 301 

About the middle of November, the young tra- 
veller took his departure from Prevesa (the place 
where the foregoing letter was written), and pro- 
ceeded, attended by his guard of fifty Albanians *, 
through Acarnania and ^^tolia, towards the Morea. 

" And therefore did he take a trusty band 
To traverse Acarnania's forest wide, 
In war well season'd, and with labours tann'd, 
Till he did greet white Aclielous' tide, 

And from his further bank iEtolia's wolds espied." 

Childe Harold, Canto II. 

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

" In the evening the gates were secured, and pre- 
parations were made for feeding our Albanians. A 
goat was killed and roasted whole, and four fires 
were kindled in the yard, round which the soldiers 
seated themselves in parties. After eating and 
drinking, the greater part of them assembled round 
the largest of the fires, and whilst ourselves and the 
elders of the party were seated on the ground, danced 
round the blaze to their own songs, in the manner 

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



before described, but with an astonishing energy. 
All their songs were relations of some robbing ex- 
ploits. One of them, which detained them more 
than an hour, began thus : — ' When we set out from 
Parga tliere were sixty of us : ' — then came the 
burden of the verse, 

" ' Rubbers all at Parga ! 
Robbers all at Parga ! 

" ' KXecpTeis ttots TJapya ! 
I \erpTeis ■wore Tiapya. \ ' 

And as they roared out this stave they whirled 
round the fire, dropped and rebounded from their 
knees, and again whirled round as the chorus was 
again repeated. The rippling of the waves upon 
the pebbly margin where we were seated filled up 
the pauses of the song with a milder and not more 
monotonous music. The night was very dark, but 
by the flashes of the fires we caught a glimpse of the 
woods, the rocks, and the lake, which, together v/ith 
the wild appearance of the dancers, presented us 
with a scene that v,-ould have made a fine picture in 
the hands of such an artist as the author of the 
Mysteries of Udolpho." 

Having traversed Acarnania, the travellers passed 
to the i^tolian side of the Achelous, and on the 21st 
of November reached Missolonghi. And here, it 
is impossible not to pause, and send a mournful 
thought forward to the visit which, fifteen years after, 
he paid to this same spot, when, in the full meri- 
dian both of his age and fame, he came to lay down 
his life as the champion of that land, through which 
he now wandered a stripling and a stranger. Could 

]809. LIFK OF LORD BYRON. 003 

some spirit have here revealed to him the events 
of that interval, — have shown him, on the one 
side, the triumphs that awaited him, the power his 
varied genius would acquire over all hearts, alike to 
elevate or depress, to darken or illuminate them, 
— and then place, on the other side, all the penalties 
of this gift, the waste and wear of the heart through 
the imagination, the havoc of that perpetual fire 
within, which, while it dazzles others, consumes the 
possessor, — the invidiousness of such an elevation 
in the eyes of mankind, and the revenge they take 
on him who compels them to look up to it, — ivould 
he, it may be asked, have welcomed glory on such 
conditions ? would he not rather have felt that the 
purchase was too costly, and that such warfare with 
an ungrateful world, while living, would be ill re- 
compensed even by the immortality it might award 
him afterwards ? 

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

* " Oh, thou Parnassus ! whom 1 now survey, 
Not in the frenzy of a dreamer's eye, 

304 NOTICES OF T!IK 1S09. 

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

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

To a traveller in Greece, there are few things 
more remarkable than the diminutive extent of 
those countries, which have filled such a wide space 
in fame. " A man might very easily," says Mr. 

Not in the fabled landscape of a lay, 

But soaring snow-clad throngh thy native sky, 

In the wild pomp of mountain majesty ! " 

Ckilde Haroi-d, Canto I. 


Hobhouse, " at a moderate pace ride from Llvadia 
to Thebes and back again between breakfast and 
dinner ; and the tour of all Boeotia might certainly be 
made in two days without baggage." Having visited, 
within a very short space of time, the fountains of 
Memory and Oblivion at Livadia, and the haunts of 
the Ismenian Apollo at Thebes, the travellers at 
length turned towards Athens, the city of their 
dreams, and, after crossing Mount Cithaeron, arrived 
in sight of the ruins of Phyle, on the evening of 
Christmas-day, 1809. 

Though the poet has left, in his own verses, an 
ever-during testimony of the enthusiasm with which 
he now contemplated the scenes around him, it is 
not difficult to conceive that, to superficial observers, 
Lord Byron at Athens might have appeared an un- 
touched spectator of much that throws ordinary 
travellers into, at least, verbal raptures. For pre- 
tenders of every sort, whether in taste or morals, 
he entertained, at all times, the most profound con- 
tempt ; and if, frequently, his real feelings of ad- 
miration disguised themselves under an affected 
tone of indifference and mockery, it was out of 
pure hostility to the cant of those, who, he well 
knew, praised without any feeling at all. It must be 
owned, too, that while he thus justly despised the 
raptures of the common herd of travellers, there 
were some pursuits, even of the intelligent and 
tasteful, in which he took but very little interest. 
With the antiquarian and connoisseur his sympa- 
thies were few and feeble : — "I am not a collector," 
he says, in one of his notes on Childe Harold, " nor 

VOL. I. X 


an admirer of collections." For antiquities, indeed, 
unassociated with high names and deeds, he had 
no value whatever ; and of works of art he was con- 
tent to admire the general effect, without professing, 
or aiming at, any knowledge of the details. It was 
to nature, in her lonely scenes of grandeur and 
beauty, or as at Athens, shining, unchanged, 
among the ruins of glory and of art, that the true 
fervid homage of his whole soul was paid. In the 
few notices of his travels, appended to Childe 
Harold, we find the sites and scenery of the different 
places he visited far more fondly dwelt upon than 
their classic or historical associations. To the valley 
of Zitza he reverts, both in prose and verse, with a 
much warmer recollection than to Delphi or the 
Troad ; and the plain of Athens itself is chiefly 
praised by him as " a more glorious prospect than 
even Cintra or Istambol." Where, indeed, could 
Nature assert such claims to his worship as in scenes 
like these, where he beheld her blooming, in inde- 
structible beauty, amid the wreck of all that man 
deems most worthy of duration ? " Human institu- 
tions," says Harris, " perish, but Nature is perma- 
nent : " — or, as Lord Byron has amplified this 
thought * in one of his most splendid passages : — 

* The passage of Harris, indeed, contains the pith of the 
whole stanza : — " Notwithstanding the various fortune of 
Athens, as a city, Attica is still famous for olives, and Slount 
Hymettus for honey. Human institutions perish, but Nature 

is permanent." — Philolog. Inquiries I recollect having once 

pointed out this coincidence to Lord Byron, but he assured 
me that he had never even seen this work of Harris. 

1810. X.IFE OF LORD BYRON. 307 

" Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild ; 
Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields, 
Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smiled, 
And still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields; 
There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds, 
The free-born wanderer of thy mountain-air ; 
Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds, 
Still in his beam Mendeli's marbles glare ; 

Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but Nature still is fair." 

Childe Harold, Canto II. 

At Athens, on this his first visit, he made a stay of 
between two and three months, not a day of which 
he let pass without employing some of its hours in 
visiting the grand monuments of ancient genius 
around him, and calling up the spirit of other times 
among their ruins. He made frequently, too, ex- 
cursions to different parts of Attica ; and it was in 
one of his visits to Cape Colonna, at this time, that 
he was near being seized by a party of Mainotes, 
who were lying hid in the caves under the cliff of 
Minerva Sunias. These pirates, it appears, were 
only deterred from attacking him (as a Greek, who 
was then their prisoner, informed him afterwards) 
by a supposition that the two Albanians, whom they 
saw attending him, were but part of a complete 
guard he had at hand. 

In addition to all the magic of its names and scenes, 
the city of Minerva possessed another sort of attrac- 
tion for the poet, to which, wherever he went, his 
heart, or rather imagination, was but too sensible. 
His pretty song, " Maid of Athens, ere we part," is 
said to have been addressed to the eldest daughter of 
the Greek lady at whose house he lodged ; and that 

X 2 


the fair Athenian, when he composed these verses, 
may have been the tenant, for the time being, of his 
fancy, is highly possible. Theodora Macri, his hostess, 
was the widow of the late English vice-consul, and 
derived a livelihood from letting, chiefly to English 
travellers, the apartments which Lord Byron and 
his friend now occupied, and of which the latter 
gentleman gives us the following description ; — 
" Our lodgings consisted of a sitting-room and two 
bed-rooms, opening into a court-yard where there 
were five or six lemon-trees, from which, during our 
residence in the place, was plucked the fruit that 
seasoned the pilaf, and other national dishes served 
up at our frugal table." 

The fame of an illustrious poet is not confined to 
his own person and writings, but imparts a share of 
its splendour to whatever has been, even remotely, 
connected with him ; and not only ennobles the 
objects of his friendships, his loves, and even his 
likings, but on every spot where he has sojourned 
through life, leaves traces of its light that do not 
easily pass away. Little did the Maid of Athens, 
while listening innocently to the compliments of 
the young Englishman, foresee that a day would 
come when he should make her name and home 
so celebrated that travellers, on their return from 
Greece, would find few things more interesting to 
their hearers than such details of herself and her 
family as the following : — 

" Our servant, who had gone before to procure 
accommodation, met us at the gate and conducted 
us to Theodora Macri, the Consulina's, where we at 


present live. Tliis lady is the widow of the consul, 
and has three lovely daughters ; the eldest celebrated 
for her beauty, and said to be the subject of those 
stanzas by Lord Byron, — 

" ' Maid of Athens, ere we part, 

Give, oh, give me back my heart ! ' &c. 

" At Orchomenus, where stood the Temple of the 
Graces, I was tempted to exclaim, ' Whither have 
the Graces fled ? ' — Little did I expect to find 
them here. Yet here comes one of them with 
golden cups and coffee, and another with a book. 
The book is a register of names, some of which are 
far sounded by the voice of fame. Among them is 
Lord Byron's, connected with some lines which I 
shall send you : — 

" ' Fair Albion, smiling, sees her son depart, 
To trace the birth and nursery of art ; 
Noble his object, glorious is his aim, 
He comes to Athens, and he — writes his name.' 

" The counterpoise by Lord BjTon : — 

" ' This modest bard, like many a bard unknown, 
Rhymes on our names, but wisely hides his own ; 
But yet whoe'er he be, to say no worse, 
His name would bring more credit than his verse.' 

" The mention of the three Athenian Graces will, 
I can foresee, rouse your curiosity, and fire your 
imagination ; and I may despair of your farther at- 
tention till I attempt to give you some description 
of them. Their apartment is immediately opposite 
to ours, and if you could see them, as we do now, 
through the gently waving aromatic plants before 

X 3 

310 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

our window, you would leave your heart in 

" Theresa, the Maid of Athens, Catinco, and 
I^Iariana, are of middle stature. On the crown of 
the head of each is a red Albanian skull-cap, with a 
blue tassel spread out and fastened down like a star. 
Near the edge or bottom of the skull-cap is a hand- 
kerchief of various colours bound round their temples. 
The youngest wears her hair loose, falling on her 
shoulders, — the hair behind descending down the 
back nearly to the waist, and, as usual, mixed with 
silk. The two eldest generally have their hair 
bound, and fastened under the handkerchief. Their 
upper robe is a pelisse edged with fur, hanging loose 
down to the ankles ; below is a handkerchief of 
muslin covering the bosom, and terminating at the 
waist, which is short ; under that, a gown of striped 
silk or muslin, with a gore round the swell of the 
loins, falling in front in graceful negligence; — white 
stockings and yellow slippers complete their attire. 
The two eldest have black, or dark hair and eyes ; 
their visage oval, and complexion somewhat pale, 
with teeth of dazzling whiteness. Their cheeks are 
rounded, and noses straight, rather inclined to aqui- 
line. The youngest, Mariana, is very fair, her face 
not so finely rounded, but has a gayer expression than 
her sisters', whose countenances, except when the 
conversation has something of mirth in it, may be 
said to be rather pensive. Their persons are elegant, 
and their manners pleasing and lady-like, such as 
would be fascinating in any country. They possess 
very considerable powers of conversation, and their 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 511 

minds seem to be more instructed than those of the 
Greek women in general. With such attractions it 
would, indeed, be remarkable, if they did not meet 
with great attentions from the travellers who occa- 
sionally are resident in Athens. They sit in the 
eastern style, a little reclined, with their limbs ga- 
thered under them on the divan, and without shoes. 
Their employments are the needle, tambouring, and 

" I have said that I saw these Grecian beauties 
through the waving aromatic plants before their 
window. This, perhaps, has raised your imagin- 
ation somewhat too high, in regard to their condi- 
tion. You may have supposed their dwelling to 
have every attribute of eastern luxury. The golden 
cups, too, may have thrown a little witchery over 
your excited fancy. Confess, do you not imagine 
that the doors 

" * Self-open'd into halls, where, who can tell 
What elegance and grandeur wide expand, 
The pride of Turkey and of Persia's land ; 
Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread. 
And couches stretch'd around in seemly band, 
And endless pillows rise to prop the head, 
So that each spacious room was one full swelling bed ? ' 

" You will shortly perceive the propriety of my 
delaying, till now, to inform you that the aromatic 
plants which I have mentioned are neither more nor 
less than a few geraniums and Grecian balms, and 
that the room in which the ladies sit is quite unfur- 
nished, the walls neither painted nor decorated by 
' cunning hand.' Then, what would have become 

X 4. 

312 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

of the Graces had I told you sooner that a single 
room is all they have, save a little closet and a kit- 
chen ? You see how careful I have been to make 
the first impression good ; not that they do not merit 
every praise, but that it is in man's august and ele- 
vated nature to think a little slightingly of m.erit, 
and even of beauty, if not supported by some worldly 
show. Now, I shall communicate to you a secret, 
but in the lowest whisper. 

" These ladies, since the death of the consul, their 
father, depend on strangers living in their spare room 
and closet, — which we now occupy. But, though 
so poor, their virtue shines as conspicuously as their 

" Not all the wealth of the East, or the compli- 
mentary lays even of the first of England's poets, 
could render them so truly worthy of love and ad- 
miration. " * 

Ten weeks had flown rapidly away, when the un- 
expected offer of a passage in an English sloop of 
war to Smyrna induced the travellers to make im- 
mediate preparations for departure, and, on the 5th 
of March, they reluctantly took leave of Athens. 
"Passing," says Mr. Hobhouse, " through the gate 
leading to the Piraeus, we struck into the olive-wood 
on the road going to Salamis, galloping at a quick 
pace, in order to rid ourselves, by hurry, of the pain of 
parting." He adds, " We could not refrain from look- 
ing back, as we passed rapidly to the shore, and 
we continued to direct our eyes towards the spot, 
where we had caught the last glimpse of the The- 

* Travels in Italy, Greece, &c., by H. \V. Williams, Esq. 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 313 

seum and the ruins of the Parthenon through the 
vistas in the woods, for many minutes after the city 
and the Acropohs had been totally hidden from our 

At Smyrna Lord Byron took up his residence in 
the house of the consul-general, and remained there, 
with the exception of two or three days employed in a 
visit to the ruins of Ephesus, till the 11th of April. 
It was during this time, as appears from a memoran- 
dum of his own, that the two first Cantos of Childe 
Harold, which he had begun five months before at 
loannina, were completed. The memorandum al- 
luded to, which I find prefixed to his original manu- 
script of the poem, is as follows : — 

" Byron, loannina in Albania. 
Begun October 31st, 1809; 
Concluded Canto 2d, Smyrna, 
March 28th. 1810. 

" Byron." 

From Smyrna the only letter, at all interesting, 
which 1 am enabled to present to the reader, is the 

following : — 

Letter 41. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Smyrna, March 19. 1810, 
" Dear Mother, 

" I cannot write you a long letter; but as I know 
you will not be sorry to receive any intelligence of 
my movements, pray accept what I can give. I have 
traversed the greatest part of Greece, besides Epirus, 
&c. &c., resided ten weeks at Athens, and am now 
on the Asiatic side on mj^ way to Constantinople. 

314- NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

I have just retui'ned from viewing the ruins of Ephe- 
sus, a day's journej' from Smyrna. I joresume you 
have received a long letter I wrote from Albania, 
with an account of my reception by the Pacha of 
the province. 

" When I arrive at Constantinople, I shall deter- 
mine whether to proceed into Persia or return, which 
latter I do not wish, if I can avoid it. But I have 
no intelligence from Mr. H * *, and but one letter 
from yourself. I shall stand in need of remittances 
whether I proceed or return. I have written to him 
repeatedly, that he may not plead ignorance of my 
situation for neglect. I can give you no account of 
any thing, for I have not time or opportunity, the 
frigate sailing immediately. Indeed the further I 
go the more my laziness increases, and my aversion 
to letter-writing becomes more confirmed. I have 
written to no one but to yourself and INIr. H * *, 
and these are communications of business and duty 
rather than of inclination. 

" F * * is very much disgusted with his fatigues, 
though he has undergone nothing that I have not 
shared. He is a poor creature; indeed English 
servants are detestable travellers. I have, besides 
him, two Albanian soldiers and a Greek interpreter ; 
all excellent in their way. Greece, particularly in 
the vicinity of Athens, is delightful, — cloudless 
skies and lovely landscapes. But I must reserve all 
account of my adventures till we meet. I keep no 
journal, but my friend H. writes incessantly. Pray 
take care of ^lurray and Robert, and tell the boy it 
is the most fortunate thing for him that he did not 


accompany me to Turkey. Consider this as merely 
a notice of my safety, and believe me, yours, &c. &c. 

" Byron." 

On the 1 1th of April he left Smyrna in the Salsette 
frigate, which had been ordered to Constantinople, for 
the purpose of conveying the ambassador, Mr. Adair, 
to England, and, after an exploratory visit to the 
ruins of Troas, arrived, at the beginning of the fol- 
lowing month, in the Dardanelles. — While the frigate 
was at anchor in these straits, the following letters to 
his friends Mr.Drury and Mr. Hodgson were written. 

Letter 42. TO MR. HENRY DRURY. 

" Salsette frigate, May 3. 1810. 
" My dear Drury, 

" When I left England, nearly a year ago, you 
requested me to write to you — I will do so. I have 
crossed Portugal, traversed the south of Spain, 
visited Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, and thence passed 
into Turkey, where I am still wandering. 1 first 
landed in Albania, the ancient Epirus, where we 
penetrated as far as Mount Tomarit — excellently 
treated by the chief Ali Pacha, — and, after journey- 
ing through Illyria, Chaonia, &c., crossed the Gulf 
of Actium, with a guard of fifty Albanians, and 
passed the Achelous in our route through Acarnania 
and ^tolia. We stopped a short time in the Morea, 
crossed the Gulf of Lepanto, and landed at the foot 
of Parnassus; — saw all that Delphi retains, and so 
on to Thebes and Athens, at which last we remained 
ten weeks. 



"His Majesty's ship, Pylades, brought us to 
Smyrna ; but not before we had topographised 
Attica, including, of course, Marathon and the 
Sunian promontory. From Smyrna to the Troad 
(which we visited when at anchor, for a fortnight, 
off the tomb of Antilochus) was our next stage ; and 
now we are in the Dardanelles, waiting for a wind 
to proceed to Constantinople. 

" This morning I sivam from Sestos to Ahydos. 
The immediate distance is not above a mile, but the 
current renders it hazardous ; — so much so that I 
doubt whether Leander's conjugal affection must not 
have been a little chilled in his passage to Paradise. 
I attempted it a week ago, and failed, — owing to 
the north wind, and the wonderful rapidity of the 
tide, — though I have been from my childliood a 
strong swimmer. But, this morning being calmer, I 
succeeded, and crossed the 'broad Hellespont' in an 
hour and ten minutes. 

" Well, my dear sir, I have left my home, and 
seen part of Africa and Asia, and a tolerable portion 
of Europe. I have been with generals and admirals, 
princes and pashas, governors and ungovernables, — 
but I have not time or paper to expatiate. I wish 
to let you know that I live with a friendly remem- 
brance of you, and a hope to meet you again ; and if 
I do this as shortly as possible, attribute it to anything 
but forgetfulness. 

" Greece, ancient and modern, you know too well 
to require description. Albania, indeed, I have seen 
more of than any Englishman (except a Mr. Leake), 
for it is a country rarely visited, from the savage 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 317 

character of the natives, though abounding in more 
natural beauties than the classical regions of Greece, 
— which, however, are still eminently beautiful, par- 
ticularly Delphi and Cape Coionna in Attica. Yet 
these are nothing to parts of Illyria and Epirus, 
where places without a name, and rivers not laid 
down in maps, may, one day, when more known, be 
justly esteemed superior subjects, for the pencil and 
the pen, to the dry ditch of the Ilissus and the bogs 
of BoEotia. 

" The Troad is a fine field for conjecture and 
snipe-ehooting, and a good sportsman and an inge- 
nious scholar may exercise their feet and faculties 
to great advantage upon the spot; — or, if they 
prefer riding, lose their way (as I did) in a cursed 
quagmire of the Scamander, who wriggles about as 
if the Dardan virgins still offered their wonted 
tribute. The only vestige of Troy, or her destroyers, 
are the barrows supposed to contain the carcasses 
of Achilles, Antilochus, Ajax, &c.; — but Mount Ida 
is still in high feather, though the shepherds are 
now-a-days not much like Ganymede. But why 
should I say more of these things? are they not 
written in the Boke of Gell? and has not H. got a 
journal? I keep none, as I have renounced scribbling. 

" I see not much difference between ourselves and 
the Turks, save that we have * *, and they have 
none — that they have long dresses, and we short, 
and that we talk much, and they little. They are 
sensible people. Ali Pacha told me he was sure 1 
was a man of rank, because I had small ears and 
hands, and curling hair. I'y the by, I speak the 

318 NOTICES o? THE 1810. 

Romaic, or modern Greek, tolerably. It does not 
differ from the ancient dialects so much as you would 
conceive : but the pronunciation is diametrically 
opposite. Of verse, except in rhyme, they liave no 

" I like the Greeks, who are plausible rascals, — 
with all the Turkish vices, without their courage. 
However, some are brave, and all are beautiful, very 
much resembling the busts of Alcibiades : — the 
women not quite so handsome. I can swear in 
Turkish ; but, except one horrible oath, and ' pimp,' 
and ' bread, ' and ' water, ' I have got no great 
vocabulary in that language. They are extremely 
polite to strangers of any rank, properly protected ; 
and as I have two servants and two soldiers, we get 
on with great eclat. We have been occasionally in 
danger of thieves, and once of shipwreck, — but 
always escaped. 

" Of Spain I sent some account to our Hodgson, 
but have subsequently written to no one, save notes 
to relations and lawyers, to keep them out of my 
premises. I mean to give up all connection, on my 
return, with many of my best friends — as I supposed 
them — and to snarl all my life. But I hope to have 
one good-humoured laugh with you, and to embrace 
Dwyer, and pledge Hodgson, before 1 commence 

" Tell Dr. Butler I am now writing with the 
gold pen he gave me before I left England, which is 
the reason my scrawl is more unintelligible tlian 
usual. I have been at Athens and seen plenty of 
these reeds for scribbling, some of which he refused 

1810. LIFE Oe LORD BYRON. 319 

to bestow upon me, because topographic Gell had 
brought them from Attica. But I will not describe, 
— no — you must be satisfied with simple detail till 
my return, and then we will unfold the flood-gates 
of colloquy. I am in a thirty-six gun frigate, going 
up to fetch Bob Adair from Constantinople, who will 
have the honour to carry this letter. 

" And so H.'s boke is out*, with some sentimental 
sing-song of my own to fill up, — and how does it 
take, eh? and where the devil is the second edition 
of my Satire, with additions ? and my name on the 
title page ? and more lines tagged to the end, with 
a new exordium and what not, hot from my anvil 
before I cleared the Channel ? The Mediterranean 
and the Atlantic roll between me and criticism ; and 
the thunders of the Hyperborean Review are deaf- 
ened by the roar of the Hellespont. 

" Remember me to Claridge, if not translated to 
college, and present to Hodgson assurances of my 
high consideration. Now, you will ask, what shall I 
do next? and I answer, I do not know. I may 
return in a few months, but I have intents and 
projects after visiting Constantinople. — Hobhouse, 
however, will probably be back in September. 

" On the 2d of July we have left Albion one 
year — ' oblitus meorum obliviscendus et illis.' I 
was sick of my own country, and not much prepos- 
sessed in favour of any other ; but I ' drag on' ' my 
chain' without ' lengthening it at each remove.' I 
am like the Jolly Miller, caring for nobody, and not 

* The Misccllanv, to which I have more than once referred. 

320 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

cared for. All countries are much the same in my 
eyes. I smoke, and stare at mountains, and twirl my 
mustachios very independently. I miss no comforts, 
and the musquitoes that rack the morbid frame of H. 
have, luckily for me, little effect on mine, because I 
live more temjjerately. 

" I omitted Ephesus in my catalogue, which I 
visited during my sojourn at Smyrna ; but the 
Temple has almost perished, and St. Paul need 
not trouble himself to epistolise the present bi'ood 
of Ephesians, who have converted a large church 
built entirely of marble into a mosque, and I don't 
know that the edifice looks the worse for it. 

" My paper is full, and my ink ebbing — good 
afternoon ! If you address to me at Malta, the 
letter will be forwarded wherever I may be. H. 
greets you ; he pines for his poetry, — at least, 
some tidings of it. I almost forgot to tell you 
that I am dying for love of three Greek girls at 
Athens, sisters. I lived in the same house. Teresa, 
Mariana, and Katinka*, are the names of these 
divinities, — all of them under fifteen. Your tuttuvo- 

" Byron." 

* He has adopted this name in his description of the Seragh'o 
in Don Juan, Canto VI. It was, if I recollect right, in 
making love to one of these girls that he had recourse to an 
act of courtship often practised in that country, — namely, 
giving himself a wound across the breast with his dagger. 
The young Athenian, by his own account, looked on very 
coolly during the operation, considering it a fit tribute to her 
beauty, but in no degree moved to gratitude. 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON'. 321 

Leiteu'1'^. to MR. HODGSON. 

•' Salsette frigate, in the Dardanelles, off Abydos, 
May 5. 1810. 

" I am on my way to Constantinople, after a 
tour through Greece, Epirus, &c., and part of Asia 
Minor, some particulars of which I have just com- 
municated to our friend and host, H. Drury. With 
these, then, I shall not trouble you ; but as you 
will perhaps be pleased to hear tliat I am well, &c., 
I take the opportunity of our ambassador's return to 
forward the few lines I have time to despatch. We 
have undergone some inconveniences, and incurred 
partial perils, but no events worthy of communica- 
tion, unless you will deem it one that two days ago 
I swam from Sestos to Abydos. This, with a few 
alarms from robbers, and some danger of shipwreck 
in a Turkish galliot six months ago, a visit to a 
Pacha, a passion for a married woman at Malta, a 
challenge to an officer, an attachment to three Greek 
girls at Athens, with a great deal of buffoonery and 
fine prospects, form all that has distinguished my 
progress since my departure from Spain. 

" H. rhymes and journalises ; I stare and do no- 
thing — unless smoking can be deemed an active 
amusement. The Turks take too much care of their 
women to permit them to be scrutinised ; but I have 
lived a good deal with the Greeks, whose modern 
dialect I can converse in enough for my purposes. 
With the Turks I have also some male acquaintances 
— female society is out of the question. I have 
been very well treated by the Pachas and Governors, 
and have no complaint to make of any kind. Hob- 

VOL. I. y 

322 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

house will one day inform you of all our adventures, 
— were I to attempt the recital, neither my paper nor 
7/our patience would hold out during the operation. 

" Nobody, save yourself, has written to me since 
I left England ; but indeed I did not request it. I 
except my relations, who write quite as often as 
I wish. Of Hobhouse's volume I know nothing, 
except that it is out ; and of my second edition I do 
not even know that, and certainly do not, at this 
distance, interest myself in the matter. I hope 
you and Bland roll down the stream of sale with 

" Of my return I cannot positively speak, but think 
it probable Hobhouse will precede me in that re- 
spect. We have been very nearly one year abroad. 
I should wish to gaze away another, at least, in these 
ever-green climates ; but I fear business, law busi- 
ness, the worst of employments, will recall me pre- 
vious to that period, if not very quickly. If so, 
you shall have due notice. 

'' I hope you will find me an altered personage, — 
I do not mean in body, but in manner, for I begin to 
find out that nothing but virtue will do in this d — d 
world. I am tolerably sick of vice, which I have 
tried in its agreeable varieties, and mean, on my 
return, to cut all my dissolute acquaintance, leave 
off wine and carnal company, and betake myself to 
politics and decorum. I am very serious and cynical, 
and a good deal disposed to moralise ; but fortun- 
ately for you the coming homily is cut off by de- 
fault of pen and defection of paper. 

" Good morrow I If you write, address to me at 


Malta, whence your letters will be forwarded. You 
need not remember me to any body, but believe me 
yours with all faith, 

" Byron." 

From Constantinople, where he arrived on the 
14th of May, he addressed four or five letters to Mrs. 
Byron, in almost every one of which his achievement 
m swimming across the Hellespont is commemorated. 
The exceeding pride, indeed, which he took in this 
classic feat (the particulars of which he has himself 
abundantly detailed) may be cited among the in- 
stances of that boyishness of character, which he car- 
ried with him so remarkably into his maturer years, 
and which, while it puzzled distant observers of his 
conduct, was not among the least amusing or attach- 
ing of his peculiarities to those who knew him inti- 
mately. So late as eleven years from this period, 
when some sceptical traveller ventured to question, 
after all, the practicability of Leander's exploit, 
Lord Byron, with that jealousy on the subject of 
his own personal prowess which he retained from 
boyhood, entered again, with fresh zeal, into the 
discussion, and brought forward two or three other 
instances of his own feats in swimming *, to cor- 
roborate tlie statement originally made by him. 

* Among others, he mentions his passage of the Tagus in 
1809, which is thus described by Mr. Hobhouse : — " My 
companion had before made a more perilous, but less cele- 
brated, passage; for I recollect that, when we were in Por- 
tugal, he swam from old Lisbon to Belein Castle, and having 
to contend with a tide and counter current, the wind blowing 

Y 2 

324' NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

In one of these letters to his mother from Con- 
stantinople, dated May 24'th, after referring, as usual, 
to his notable exploit, " in humble imitation of Lean- 
der, of amorous memory, though," he adds, " I had 
no Hero to receive me on the other side of the 
Hellespont," he continues thus : — 

" When our ambassador takes his leave I shall 
accompany him to see the sultan, and afterwards pro- 
bably return to Greece. I have heard nothing of 
Mr. Hanson but one remittance, without any letter 
from that legal gentleman. If you have occasion 
for any pecuniary supply, pray use my funds as far 
as they go without reserve ; and, lest this should not 
be enough, in my next to Mr. Hanson I will direct 
him to advance any sum you may want, leaving it to 
your discretion how much, in the present state of 
my affairs, you may think proper to require. I have 
already seen the most interesting parts of Turkey in 
Europe and Asia Minor, but shall not proceed fur- 
ther till I hear from England : in the mean time I 
shall expect occasional supplies, according to cir- 
cumstances ; and shall pass my summer amongst 
my friends, the Greeks of the Morea." 

freshly, was but little less than two hours in crossing the river." 
In swimming from Sestos to Abydos, he was one hour and 
ten minutes in the water. 

In the year 1808, he had been nearly drowned, while 
swimming at Brighton with Mr. L. Stanhope. His friend 
Mr. Hobhouse, and otlier bystanders, sent in some boatmen, 
with ropes tied round them, who at last succeeded in dragging 
JiOrd Byron and Mr. Stanhope from the surf and thus saved 
tlieir lives. 

1810. LIFE OF LOUD BYRON. 325 

He then adds, with his usual kind soHcitude about 
his favourite servants : — 

" Pray take care of my boy Robert, and the old 
man Murray. It is fortunate they returne|l ; neither 
the youth of the one, nor the age of the other, would 
have suited the changes of climate, and fatigue of 

Letter 44. TO MR. HENRY DRURY. 

" Constantinople, June 17. 1810. 

" Though I wrote to you so recently, I break in 
upon you again to congratulate you on a child being 
born, as a letter from Hodgson apprizes me of that 
event, in which I rejoice. 

" I am just come from an expedition through the 
Bosphorus to the Black Sea and the Cyanean Sym- 
plegades, up which last I scrambled with as great 
risk as ever the Argonauts escaped in their hoy. 
You remember the beginning of the nurse's dole in 
the Medea, of which I beg you to take the following 
translation, done on the summit : — 

" Oh how I wish that an embargo 

Had kept in port the good ship Argo ! 

Who, still unlaunch'd from Grecian docks. 

Had never passed the Azure rocks ; 

But now I fear her trip will be a 

Damn'd business for my Miss Medea, &c. &c., 

as it very nearly was to me ; — for, had not this sub- 
lime passage been in my head, I should never have 
dreamed of ascending the said rocks, and bruising 
my carcass in honour of the ancients. 

" I have now sat on the Cyaneans, swam from Ses- 

Y 3 



tos to Abydos (as I trumpeted in my last), and, after 
passing through the Morea again, shall set sail for 
Santo Maura, and toss myself from the Leucadian 
promontory ; — surviving which operation, I shall 
probably join you in England. H., who will deliver 
this, is bound straight for these parts ; and, as he is 
bursting with his travels, I shall not anticipate his 
narratives, but merely beg you not to believe one 
word he says, but reserve your ear for me, if you 
have any desire to be acquainted with the truth. 

" I am bound for Athens once more, and thence 
to the Morea ; but my stay depends so much on my 
caprice, that I can say nothing of its probable dura- 
tion. I have been out a year already, and may stay 
another ; but I am quicksilver, and say nothing posi- 
tively. We are all very much occupied doing no- 
thing, at present. We have seen every thing but the 
mosques, which we are to view with a firman on 
Tuesday next. But of these and other sundries let 
H. relate with this proviso, that /am to be referred 
to for authenticity ; and I beg leave to contradict all 
those things whereon he lays particular stress. But, 
if he soars at any time into wit, I give you leave to 
applaud, because that is necessarily stolen from his 
fellow-pilgrim. Tell Davies that H. has made ex- 
cellent use of his best jokes in many of his Majesty's 
ships of war ; but add, also, that I always took care 
to restore them to the right owner ; in consequence 
of which he (Davies) is no less famous by water than 
by land, and reigns unrivalled in the cabin as in the 
' Cocoa Tree.' 

" And Hodgson has been publishing more poesy 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 327 

— I wish he would send me his ' Sir Edgar,' and 
' Bland's Anthology,' to Malta, where they will be 
forwarded. In my last, which I hope you received, 
I gave an outline of the ground we have covered. 
If you have not been overtaken by this despatch, 
H.'s tongue is at your service. Remember me to 
Dwyer, who owes me eleven guineas. Tell him to 
put them in my banker's hands at Gibraltar or Con- 
stantinople. I believe he paid them once, but that 
goes for nothing, as it was an annuity. 

" I wish you would write. I have heard from 
Hodgson frequently. Malta is my post-office. I 
mean to be with you by next Montem. You re- 
member the last, — I hope for such another ; but 
after having swam across the ' broad Hellespont,' I 
disdain Datchett. * Good afternoon ! I am yours, 
very sincerely, 

" Byron." 

About ten days after the date of this letter, we find 
another addressed to Mrs. Byron, which — with much 
that is merely a repetition of what he had detailed in 
former communications — contains also a good deal 
worthy of being extracted. 

* Alluding to his having swum across the Thames with 
Mr. H. Drury, after the Montem, to see how many times 
they could perform the passage backwards and forwards 
without touching land. In this trial (which took place at 
night, after supper, when both were heated with drinking,) 
Lord Byron was the conqueror. 

y 4> 



Letter 45. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Dear Mother, 

"Mr. Hobhouse, who will forward or deliver this 
and is on his return to England, can inform you of 
our different movements, but I am very uncertain as 
to my own return. He will probably be down in 
Notts, some time or other ; but Fletcher, whom I 
send back as an incumbrance (English servants are 
sad travellers), will supply his place in the interim, 
and describe our travels, which have been tolerably 

" I remember Mahmout Pacha, the grandson of 
Ali Pacha, at Yanina, (a little fellow of ten years of 
age, with large black eyes, which our ladies would 
purchase at any price, and those regular features 
which distinguish the Turks,) asked me how I came 
to travel so young, without anybody to take care of 
me. This question was put by the little man with 
all the gravity of threescore. I cannot now write 
copiously ; I have only time to tell you that I have 
passed many a fatiguing, but never a tedious moment ; 
and all that I am afraid of is that I shall contract 
a gipsylike wandering disposition, which will make 
home tiresome to me : this, I am told, is very common 
with men in the habit of peregrination, and, indeed, 
I feel it so. On the third of May I swam from Sestos 
to Ahijdos. You know the story of Leander, but I 
had no Hero to receive me at landing. 

" I have been in all the principal mosques by the 
virtue of a firman : this is a favour rarely permitted 
to infidels, but the ambassador's departure obtained 
it for us. I have been up the Bosphorus into the 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 329 

Black Sea, round the walls of the city, and, indeed, 
I know more of it by sight than I do of London. I 
hope to amuse you some winter's evening with the 
details, but at present you must excuse me ; — I am 
not able to write long letters in June. I return to 
spend my summer in Greece. 

" F. is a poor creature, and requires comforts that 
I can dispense with. He is very sick of his travels, 
but you must not believe his account of the country. 
He sighs for ale, and idleness, and a wife, and the 
devil knows what besides. I have not been disap- 
pointed or disgusted. I have lived with the highest 
and the lowest. I have been for days in a Pacha's 
palace, and have passed many a night in a cowhouse, 
and I find the people inoffensive and kind. I have 
also passed some time with the principal Greeks in 
the Morea and Livadia, and, though inferior to the 
Turks, they are better than the Spaniards, who, in 
their turn, excel the Portuguese. Of Constantinople 
you will find many descriptions in different travels ; 
but Lady Wortley errs strangely when she says, ' St. 
Paul's would cut a strange figure by St. Sophia's.' 
I have been in both, surveyed them inside and out 
attentively. St. Sophia's is undoubtedly the most 
interesting from its immense antiquit)', and the cir- 
cumstance of all the Greek emperors, from Justinian, 
having been crowned there, and several murdered at 
the altar, besides the Turkish sultans who attend it 
regularly. But it is inferior in beauty and size to 
some of the mosques, particularly ' Soleyman,' Sec, 
and not to be mentioned in the same page with St. 
Paul's (I speak like a Cockney). However, I prefer 



the Gothic cathedral of Seville to St. Paul's, St. 
Sophia's, and any religious building I have ever 

" The walls of the Seraglio are like the walls of 
Newstead gardens, only higher, and much in the 
same order ; but the ride by the walls of the city, 
on the land side, is beautiful. Imagine four miles 
of immense triple battlements, covered with ivy, 
surmounted with 218 towers, and, on the other side 
of the road, Turkish burying-grounds (the loveliest 
spots on earth), full of enormous cypresses. I have 
seen the ruins of Athens, of Ephesus, and Delphi. 
I have traversed great part of Turkey, and many 
other parts of Europe, and some of Asia ; but I 
never beheld a work of nature or art which yielded 
an impression like the prospect on each side from 
the Seven Towers to the end of the Golden Horn. 

" Now for England. I am glad to hear of the pro- 
gress of ' English Bards,' &c. ; — of course, you 
observed I have made great additions to the new 
edition. Have you received my picture from San- 
ders, Vigo Lane, London ? It was finished and paid 
for long before I left England : pray, send for it. 
You seem to be a mighty reader of magazines : 
where do you pick up all this intelligence, quota- 
tions, &c. &c. ? Though I was happy to obtain my 
seat without the assistance of Lord Carlisle, I had 
no measures to keep with a man who declined 
interfering as my relation on that occasion, and I 
have done with him, though I regret distressing 
Mrs. Leigh, poor thing ! — I hope she is happy. 

" It is my opinion tlaat Mr. B * * ought to marry 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 331 

Miss R * *. Our first duty is not to do evil ; but, 
alas ! that is impossible : our next is to repair it, if 
in our power. The girl is his equal : if she were 
his inferior, a sum of money and provision for the 
child would be some, though a poor, compensation : 
as it is, he should marry her. I will have no gay 
deceivers on my estate, and I shall not allow my 
tenants a privilege I do not permit myself — that of 
debauching each other's daughters. God knows, I 
have been guilty of many excesses ; but, as I have 
laid down a resolution to reform, and lately kept it, 
I expect this Lothario to follow the example, and 
begin by restoring this girl to society, or, by the 
beard of my father ! he shall hear of it. Pray take 
some notice of Robert, who will miss his master : 
poor boy, he was very unwilling to return. I trust 
you are well and happy. It will be a pleasure to 
hear from you. Believe me yours very sincerely, 

" Byron. 

" P. S.— How is Joe Murray ? 

" P. S. — I open my letter again to tell you that 
Fletcher having petitioned to accompany me into the 
Morea, I have taken him with me, contrary to the 
intention expressed in my letter." 

Tlie reader has not, I trust, passed carelessly over 
the latter part of this letter. There is a healthful- 
ness in the moral feeling so unaffectedly expressed 
in it, which seems to answer for a heart sound at 
the core, however passion might have scorched it. 
Some years after, when he had become more con- 
firmed in that artificial tone of banter, in which it 

332 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

was, unluckily, his habit to speak of his own good 
feehngs, as well as those of others, however capable 
he might still have been of the same amiable senti- 
ments, I question much whether the perverse fear 
of being thought desirous to pass for moral would 
not have prevented him from thus naturally and ho- 
nestly avowing them. 

The following extract from a communication ad- 
dressed to a distinguished monthly work, by a tra- 
veller who, at this period, happened to meet with 
Lord Byron at Constantinople, bears sufficiently the 
features of authenticity to be presented, without 
hesitation, to my readers. 

" We were interrupted in our debate by the en- 
trance of a stranger, whom, on the first glance, I 
guessed to be an Englishman, but lately arrived at 
Constantinople. He wore a scarlet coat, richly 
embroidered with gold, in the style of an English 
aide-de-camp's dress uniform, with two heavy epau- 
lettes. His countenance announced him to be about 
the age of two-and-twenty. His features were 
remarkably delicate, and would have given him a 
feminine appearance, but for the manly expression 
of his fine blue eyes. On entering the inner shop, 
he took off his feathered cocked-hat, and showed a 
head of curly auburn hair, which improved in no 
small degree the uncommon beauty of his face. The 
impression which his whole appearance made upon 
my mind was such, that it has ever since remained 
deeply engraven on it ; and although fifteen years 
have since gone by, the lapse of time has not in the 
slightest degree impaired the freshness of the recol- 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 333 

lection. He was attended by a Janissary attached 
to the English embassy, and by a person who pro- 
fessionally acted as a Cicerone to strangers. These 
circumstances, together with a very visible lameness 
in one of his legs, convinced me at once he was Lord 
Byron. I had already heard of his Lordship, and of 
his late arrival in the Salsette frigate, which had 
come up from the Smyrna station, to fetch away Mr. 
Adair, our ambassador to the Porte. Lord Byron 
had been previously ti-avelling in Epirus and Asia 
Minor, with his friend Mr. Hobhouse, and had 
become a great amateur of smoking : he was con- 
ducted to this shop for the purpose of purchasing a 
few pipes. The indifferent Italian, in which lan- 
guage he spoke to his Cicerone, and the latter's still 
more imperfect Turkish, made it difficult for the 
shopkeeper to understand their wishes, and as this 
seemed to vex the stranger, I addressed him in 
English, offering to interpret for him. When his 
Lordship thus discovered me to be an Englishman, 
he shook me cordially by the hand, and assured me, 
with some warmth in his manner, that he always felt 
great pleasure when he met with a countryman 
abroad. His purchase and my bargain being com- 
pleted, we walked out together, and rambled about 
the streets, in several of which I had the pleasure of 
directing his attention to some of the most remark- 
able curiosities in Constantinople. The peculiar 
circumstances under which our acquaintance took 
place, established between us, in one day, a certain 
degree of intimacy, which two or three years' fre- 
(juenting each other's company in England would 

334) NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

most likely not have accomplished. I frequently 
addressed him by his name, but he did not think of 
enquiring how I came to learn it, nor of asking mine. 
His Lordship had not yet laid the foundation of that 
literary renown which he afterwards acquired ; on 
the contrary, he was only known as the author of his 
Hours of Idleness ; and the severity with which the 
Edinburgh Reviewers had criticised that production 
■was still fresh in every English reader's recollection. 
I could not, therefore, be supposed to seek his 
acquaintance from any of those motives of vanity 
which have actuated so many others since : but it 
was natural that, after our accidental rencontre, and 
all that passed between us on that occasion, I should, 
on meeting him in the course of the same week at 
dinner at the English ambassador's, have requested 
one of the secretaries, who was intimately acquainted 
with him, to introduce me to him in regular form. 
His Lordship testified his perfect recollection of me, 
but in the coldest manner, and immediately after 
turned his back on me. This unceremonious pro- 
ceeding, forming a striking contrast with previous 
occurrences, had something so strange in it, that I 
was at a loss how to account for it, and felt at the 
same time much disposed to entertain a less favour- 
able opinion of his Lordship than his apparent frank- 
ness had inspired me with at our first meeting. It 
was not, therefore, without surprise, that, some days 
after, I saw him in the streets, coming up to me with 
a smile of good nature in his countenance. He 
accosted me in a familiar manner, and, offering me 
his hand, said, — 'I am an enemy to English eti- 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 335 

quette, especially out of England ; and I always 
make my own acquaintance without waiting for the 
formality of an introduction. If you have nothing to 
do, and are disclosed for another ramble, I shall be 
glad of your company.' There was that irresistible 
attraction in his manner, of which those who have 
had the good fortune to be admitted into his intimacy 
can alone have felt the power in his moments of 
good humour ; and I readily accepted his proposal. 
We visited again more of the most remarkable 
curiosities of the capital, a description of which 
would here be but a repetition of what a hundred 
travellers have already detailed with the utmost 
minuteness and accuracy ; but his Lordship expressed 
much disappointment at their want of interest. He 
praised the picturesque beauties of the town itself, 
and its surrounding scenery ; and seemed of opinion 
that nothing else was worth looking at. He spoke 
of the Turks in a manner which might have given 
reason to suppose that he had made a long residence 
among them, and closed his observations with these 
words : — ' The Greeks will, sooner or later, rise 
against them ; but if they do not make haste, I hope 
Buonaparte will come, and drive the useless rascals 
away. * 

During his stay at Constantinople, the English 
minister, Mr. Adair, being indisposed the greater 
part of the time, had but few opportunities of seeing 
him. He, however, pressed him, with much hospi- 
tality, to accept a lodging at the English palace, 

* New Monthly Magazine. 


which Lord Byron, preferring the freedom of his 
homely inn, declined. At the audience granted to 
the ambassador, on his taking leave, by the Sultan, 
the noble poet attended in the train of Mr. Adair, 
— having shown an anxiety as to the place he was 
to hold in the procession, not a little characteristic 
of his jealous pride of rank. In vain had the minis- 
ter assured him that no particular station could be 
allotted to him ; — that the Turks, in their ar- 
rangements for the ceremonial, considered only the 
persons connected with the embassy, and neither at- 
tended to, nor acknowledged, the precedence which 
our forms assign to nobility. Seeing the young 
peer still unconvinced by these representations, 
Mr. Adair was, at length, obliged to refer him to 
an authority, considered infallible on such points of 
etiquette, the old Austrian Internuncio; — on con- 
sulting whom, and finding his opinions agree fully 
with those of the English minister. Lord Byron de- 
clared himself perfectly satisfied. 

On the 14th of July his fellow-traveller and him- 
self took their departure from Constantinople on board 
the Salsette frigate, — Mr. Hobhouse with the in- 
tention of accompanying the ambassador to England, 
and Lord Byron with the resolution of visiting his 
beloved Greece again. To Mr. Adair he appeared, 
at this time, (and I find that Mr. Bruce, who met him 
afterwards at Athens, conceived the same impression 
of him,) to be labouring under great dejection of 
spirits. One circumstance related to me, as having 
occurred in the course of the passage, is not a little 
striking. Perceiving, as he walked the deck, a small 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYROX. 337 

yataghan, or Turkish dagger, on one of the benches, 
he took it up, unsheathed it, and, having stood for a 
few moments contemplating the bhide, was heard to 
say, in an under voice, " I should like to know how a 
person feels after committing a murder ! " In this 
startling speech we may detect, I think, the germ of 
his future Giaours and Laras. This intense ivish to 
explore the dark workings of the passions was what, 
with the aid of imagination, at length generated the 
power ; and that faculty which entitled him afterwards 
to be so truly styled " the searcher of dark bosoms," 
may be traced to, perhaps, its earliest stirrings in the 
sort of feeling that produced these words. 

On their approaching the island of Zea, he ex- 
pressed a wish to be put on shore. Accordingly, 
having taken leave of his companions, he was landed 
upon this small island, with two Albanians, a Tartar, 
and one English servant ; and in one of his manu- 
scripts he has himself described the proud, solitary 
feeling with which he stood to see the ship sail 
swiftly away — leaving him there, in a land of stran- 
gers alone. 

A few days after, he addressed the following let- 
ters to Mrs. Byron from Athens. 

Letter 46. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Athens, July 25. 1810. 

«' Dear Mother, 

" I have arrived here in four days from Constan- 
tinople, which is considered as singularly quick, 
particularly for the season of the year. You northern 
gentry can have no conception of a Greek summer; 
VOL. I z 

338 KOTICES OF THE 1810. 

which, however, is a perfect frost compared with 
Malta and Gibraltar, where I reposed myself in the 
shade last year, after a gentle gallop of four hundred 
miles, without intermission, through Portugal and 
Spain. You see, by my date, that I am at Athens 
again, a place which I think I prefer, upon the whole, 
to any I have seen. 

" My next movement is to-morrow into the Mo- 
rea, where I shall probably remain a month or two, 
and then return to winter here, if I do not change 
my plans, which, however, are very variable, as you 
may suppose ; but none of them verge to England. 

" The Marquis of Sligo, my old fellow-collegian, 
IS here, and wishes to accompany me into the INIorea. 
We shall go together for that purpose. Lord S. will 
afterwards pursue his way to the capital ; and Lord 
B., having seen all the wonders in that quarter, will 
let you know what he does next, of which at present 
he is not quite certain. Malta is my perpetual post- 
office, from which my letters are forwarded to all 
parts of the habitable globe : —by the by, I have now 
been in Asia, Africa, and the east of Europe, and, 
indeed, made the most of my time, without hurrying 
over the most interesting scenes of the ancient world. 
F * *, after having been toasted, and roasted, and 
baked, and grilled, and eaten by all sorts of creeping 
things, begins to philosophise, is grown a refined as 
well as a resigned character, and promises at his re- 
turn to become an ornament to his own parish, and a 
very prominent person in the future family pedigree 
of the F * * s, who I take to be Goths by their 
accomplishments, Greeks by their acuteness, and 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 339 

ancient Saxons by their appetite. He (F * *) begs 
leave to send half-a-dozen sighs to Sally his spouse, 
and wonders (though I do not) that his ill written 
and worse spelt letters have never come to hand ; as 
for that matter, there is no great loss in either of our 
letters, saving and except that 1 wish you to know 
we are well, and warm enough at this present writ- 
ing, God knows. You must not expect long letters 
at present, for they are written with the sweat of 
my brow, I assure you. It is rather singular that Mr. 
H * * has not written a syllable since my departure. 
Your letters I have mostly received as well as 
others ; from which I conjecture that the man of 
law is either angry or busy. 

" I trust you like Newstead, and agree with your 
neighbours ; but you know you are a vixen — is not 
that a dutiful appellation ? Pray, take care of my 
books and several boxes of papers in the hands of 
Joseph ; and pray leave me a few bottles of cham- 
pagne to drink, for I am very thirsty ; — but I do 
not insist on the last article, without you like it. I 
suppose you have your house full of silly women, 
prating scandalous things. Have you ever received 
my picture in oil from Sanders, London ? It has 
been paid for these sixteen months : why do you not 
get it ? My suite, consisting of two Turks, two 
Greeks, a Lutheran, and the nondescript, Fletcher, 
are making so much noise, that I am glad to sign 

" Yours, &c. &c. Byron." 

2 2 



A day or two after the date of this, he left Athens 
in company with the Marquis of SHgo. Having 
travelled together as far as Corinth, they from thence 
branched off in different directions, — Lord Sligo to 
pay a visit to the capital of the Morea, and Lord 
Byron to proceed to Patras, where he had some 
business, as will be seen by the following letter, with 
the English consul, Mr. Strane : — 

Letter 47. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Patras, July SO. 1810. 

" Dear Madam, 

" In four days from Constantinople, with a 
favourable wind, I arrived in the frigate at the 
island of Ceos, from whence I took a boat to Athens, 
where I met my friend the Marquis of Sligo, who 
expressed a wish to proceed with me as far as 
Corinth. At Corinth we separated, he for Tripo- 
litza, I for Patras, where I had some business with 
the consul, Mr. Strane, in whose house I now write. 
He has rendered me every service in his power 
since I quitted Malta on my way to Constantinople, 
whence 1 have written to you twice or thrice. In a 
few days I visit the Pacha at Tripolitza, make the 
tour of the Morea, and return again to Athens, 
which at present is my head-quarters. The heat is 
at present intense. In England, if it reaches 9S°, 
you are all on fire : the other day, in travelling 
between Athens and Megara, the thermometer was 
at 125° 1 I ! Yet I feel no inconvenience; of course 
I am much bronzed, but I live temperately, and 
never enjoyed better health. 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 311 

" Before I left Constantinople, I saw the Sultan 
(with Mr. Adair), and the interior of the mosques, 
things which rarely happen to travellers. Mr. Hob- 
house is gone to England : I am in no hurry to 
return, but have no particular communications for 
your country, except my surprise at Mr. H * * 's 
silence, and my desire that he will remit regularly. 
I suppose some arrangement has been made with 
regard to Wymondham and Rochdale. Malta is my 
post-office, or to Mr. Strane, consul-general, Patras, 
Morea. You complain of my silence — I have 
written twenty or thirty times within the last year : 
never less than twice a month, and often more. If 
my letters do not arrive, you nmst not conclude that 
we are eaten, or that there is a war, or a pestilence, or 
famine : neither must you credit silly reports, which 
I dare say you have in Notts., as usual. I am very 
well, and neither more nor less happy than I usually 
am ; except that I am very glad to be once more 
alone, for I was sick of my comjianion, — not that he 
was a bad one, but because my nature leads me to 
solitude, and that every day adds to this disposition. 
If I chose, here are many men who would wish to 
join me — one wants me to go to Egypt, another to 
Asia, of which I have seen enough. The greater 
part of Greece is already my own, so that I shall 
only go over my old ground, and look upon my old 
seas and mountains, the only acquaintances I ever 
found improve upon me. 

" I have a tolerable suite, a Tartar, two Albanians, 
an interpreter, besides Fletcher; but in this country 
these are easily maintained. Adair received me 

z 3 

542 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

wonderfully well, and indeed I have no complaints 
against any one. Hospitality here is necessary, for 
inns are not. I have lived in the houses of Greeks, 
Turks, Italians, and English — to-day in a palace, 
to-morrow in a cowhouse ; this day with a Pacha, the 
next with a shepherd. I shall continue to write 
briefly, but frequently, and am glad to hear from 
you ; but you fill your letters with things from the 
papers, as if English papers were not found all over 
the world. I have at this moment a dozen before 
me. Pray take care of rny books, and believe me, 
my dear mother, yours," &c. 

The greater part of the two following months he 
appears to have occupied in making a tour of the 
Morea * ; and the very distinguished reception he 
met with from Veley Pacha, the son of Ali, is men- 
tioned with much pride, in more than one of his 

On his return from this tour to Patras, he was 
seized with a fit of illness, the particulars of which 
are mentioned in the following letter to Mr. Hodgson ; 
and they are, in many respects, so similar to those of 
the last fatal malady, with which, fourteen years 
afterwards, he was attacked, in nearly the same spot, 

* In a note upon the Advertisement prefixed to his Siege 
of Corinth, he says, — " I visited all three ( Tripoli tza, Napoli, 
and Argos,) in 1810-11, and in the course of journeying 
through the country, from my first arrival in 1809, crossed 
the Isthmus eight times in my way from Attica to the Morea, 
over the mountains, or in the other direction, when passing 
from the Gulf of Athens to that of Lepanto." 


that, livelily as the account is written, it is difficult to 
read it without melancholy : ■. — 

Letter 48. TO MR. HODGSON. 

" Patras, Morea, October 3. 1810. 

" As I have just escaped from a physician and 
a fever, which confined me five days to bed, you 
won't expect much 'allegrezza' in the ensuing letter. 
In this place there is an indigenous distemper, which, 
when the wind blows from the Gulf of Corinth (as 
it does five months out of six), attacks great and 
small, and makes woful work with visiters. Here 
be also two physicians, one of whom trusts to his 
genius (never having studied) — the other to a cam- 
paign of eighteen months against the sick of Otranto, 
which he made in his youth with great effect. 

" When I was seized with my disorder, I protested 
against both these assassins ; — but what can a 
helpless, feverish, toast-and-watered poor wretch 
do? In spite of my teeth and tongue, the English 
consul, my Tartar, Albanians, dragoman, forced a 
physician upon me, and in three days vomited and 
glystered me to the last gasp. In this state I made 
my epitaph — take it : — 

" Youth, Nature, and relenting Jove, 
To keep my lamp in strongly strove ; 
I3ut Romanelli was so stout, 
He beat all three — and bleiu it out. 

But Nature and Jove, being piqued at my doubts, 
did, in fact, at last, beat Romanelli, and here I am, 
well but weakly, at your service. 

z 4 

344) NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

" Since I left Constantinople, I have made a tour 
of the Morea, and visited Veley Pacha, who paid me 
great honours, and gave me a pretty stallion. H. is 
doubtless in England before even the date of this 
letter:— hebearsadespatchfromme to your hardship. 
He writes to nie from Malta, and requests my journal, 
if I keep one. I have none, or he should have it ; 
but I have replied in a consolatory and exhortatory 
epistle, praying him to abate three and sixpence in 
the price of his next boke. seeing that half-a-guinea 
is a price not to be given for any thing save an opera 

" As for England, it is long since I have heard 
from it. Every one at all connected with my con- 
cerns is asleep, and you are my only correspondent, 
agents excepted. I have really no friends in the 
world ; though all my old school companions are 
gone forth into that Avorld, and walk about there in 
monstrous disguises, in the garb of guardsmen, 
lawyers, parsons, fine gentlemen, and such other 
masquerade dresses. So, I here shake hands and 
cut with all these busy people, none of whom write 
to me. Indeed I ask it not ; — and here I am, a poor 
traveller and heathenish philosopher, who hath per- 
ambulated the greatest part of the Levant, and seen 
a great quantity of very improvable land and sea, 
and, after all, am no better than when I set out — 
Lord help me ! 

" I have been out fifteen months this very day, and 
I believe my concerns will draw me to England soon ; 
but of this I will apprise you regularly from Malta. 
On all points Hobhouse will inform you, if you are 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYKON. 345 

curious as to our adventures. I have seen some old 
English papers up to the 15th of May. I see the 
' Lady of the Lake' advertised. Of course it is in 
his old ballad style, and pretty. After all, Scott is 
the best of them. The end of all scribblement is to 
amuse, and he certainly succeeds there. I long to 
read his new romance. 

" And how does ' Sir Edgar?' and your friend 
Bland ? I suppose you are involved in some literary 
squabble. The only way is to despise all brothers of 
the quill. I suppose you won't allow me to be an 
author, but I contemn you all, you dogs ! — I do. 

" You don't know D s, do you? He had a 

farce ready for the stage before I left England, and 
asked me for a prologue, which I promised, but 
sailed in such a hurry, I never penned a couplet. I 
am afraid to ask after his drama, for fear it should 
be damned — Lord forgive me for using such a word ! 
but the pit, Sir, you know the pit — they will do 
those things in spite of merit. I remember this 
farce from a curious circumstance. When Drury 
Lane was burnt to the ground, by which accident 
Sheridan and his son lost the few remaining shillings 

they were worth, what doth my friend D do ? 

Why, before the fire was out, he writes a note to 
Tom Sheridan, the manager of this combustible 
concern, to enquire whether this farce was not con- 
verted into fuel, with about two thousand other 
unactable manuscripts, which of course were in great 
peril, if not actually consumed. Now was not this 
characteristic? — the ruling passions of Pope are 
nothing to it. Whilst the poor distracted manager 



was bewailing the loss of a building only worth 
300,000/., together with some twenty thousand 
pounds of rags and tinsel in the tiring rooms, Blue- 
beard's elephants, and all that — in comes a note 
from a scorching author, requiring at his hands two 
acts and odd scenes of a farce ! ! 

" Dear H., remind Drury that I am his well- 
wisher, and let Scrope Davies be well affected 
towards me. I look forward to meeting you at 
Newstead, and renewing our old champagne evenings 
with all the glee of anticipation. I have written by 
every opportunity, and expect responses as regular 
as those of the liturgy, and somewhat longer. As 
it is impossible for a man in his senses to hope for 
happy days, let us at least look forward to merry 
ones, which come nearest to the other in appear- 
ance, if not in reality ; and in such expectations I 
remain," &c. 

He was a good deal weakened and thinned by his 
illness at Patras, and, on his return to Athens, stand- 
ing one day before a looking-glass, he said to Lord 
Sligo — " How pale I look ! — I should like, I think, 
to die of a consumption." — "Wliy of a consumption?" 
asked his friend. " Because then (he answered) 
the women would all say, ' See that poor Byron — 
how interesting he looks in dying ! ' " In this anec- 
dote, — which, slight as it is, the relater remembered, 
as a proof of the poet's consciousness of his own 
beauty, — may be traced also the habitual reference 
of his imagination to that sex, which, however he 


afFected to despise it, influenced, more or less, the 
flow and colour of all his thoughts. 

He spoke often of his mother to Lord Sligo, and 
with a feeling that seemed little short of aversion. 
" Some time or other," he said, " I will tell you why I 
feel thus towards her." — A few days after, when 
they were bathing together in the Gulf of Lepanto, 
he referred to this promise, and, pointing to his 
naked leg and foot, exclaimed — " Look there ! — it 
is to her false delicacy at my birth I owe that de- 
formity ; and yet, as long as I can remember, she 
has never ceased to taunt and reproach me with it. 
Even a few days before we parted, for the last time, 
on my leaving England, she, in one of her fits of 
passion, uttered an imprecation upon me, praying that 
I might prove as ill formed in mind as I am in 
body ! " His look and manner, in relating this fright- 
ful circumstance, can be conceived only by those 
who have ever seen him in a similar state of excite- 

The little value he had for those relics of ancient 
art, in pursuit of which he saw all his classic fellow- 
travellers so ardent, was, like every thing he ever 
thought or felt, unreservedly avowed by him. Lord 
Sligo having it in contemplation to expend some 
money in digging for antiquities, Lord Byron, in 
offering to act as his agent, and to see the money, 
at least, honestly applied, said — " You may safely 
trust me — I am no dilettante. Your connoisseurs 
are all thieves ; but I care too little for these things 
ever to steal them." 

The system of thinning himself, which he had 

348 NOTICES OF THE 1810. 

begun before he left England, was continued still 
more rigidly abroad. While at Athens, he took the 
hot bath for this purpose, three times a week, — his 
usual drink being vinegar and water, and his food 
seldom more than a little rice. 

Among the persons, besides Lord Sligo, whom he 
saw most of at this time, were Lady Hester Stan- 
hope and Mr. Bruce. One of the first objects, 
indeed, that met the eyes of these two distinguished 
travellers, on their approaching the coast of Attica, 
was Lord Byron, disporting in his favourite element 
under the rocks of Cape Colonna. They were after- 
wards made acquainted with each other by Lord 
Sligo ; and it was in the course, I believe, of their 
first interview, at his table, that Lady Hester, with 
that lively eloquence for which she is so remarkable, 
took the poet briskly to task for the depreciating 
opinion, which, as she understood, he entertained of 
all female intellect. Being but little inclined, were 
he even able, to sustain such a heresy, against one 
who was in her own person such an irresistible 
refutation of it. Lord Byron had no other refuge from 
the fair orator's arguments than in assent and 
silence ; and this well-bred deference being, in a 
sensible woman's eyes, equivalent to concession, they 
became, from thenceforward, most cordial friends. 
In recalling some recollections of this period in his 
" Memoranda," after relating the circumstance of 
his being caught bathing by an English party at 
Sunium, he added, " This was the beginning of the 
most delightful acquaintance which I formed in 
Greece." He then went on to assure Mr. Bruce, 

1810. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 349 

if ever those pages should meet liis eyes, that the 
days they had passed together at Athens were 
remembered by him witli pleasure. 

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 
be called by that name, — of which I have already 
mentioned two or three instances in his younger days, 
and in which the pride of being a protector, and the 
pleasure of exciting gratitude, seem to have consti- 
tuted 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 per- 
manent, 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 Fran- 
ciscan convent, and, in the intervals of his tours, em- 
ployed hmself 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. J 811." 

From the few remaining letters addressed to his 
mother, I shall content myself with selecting the two 
following : — 

Letter 49. TO MRS. BYROK 

" Athens, January 14. 1811. 

" My dear Madam, 

" 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. 1 believe I have mentioned to you 
more than once that I swam (in imitation of Leander, 
though without his lady) across the Hellespont, from 
Sestos to Abydos. Of this, and all other particulars, 
F., whom I have sent home with papers, &c., will 
apprise you. 1 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 lan- 
guage, rendered him, like all other English servants. 

1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 351 

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 oi 
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 f / / &c., which as- 
sailed 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 Janissar}', 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 remit- 
tances. 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 us, 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. &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 stayed^ 
smoked in 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 author- 
ship ; 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 publish- 
ing, they may serve to prolong my memory Avhen 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 dis- 
ease 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 

1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 353 

Letter 50. TO MRS. BYRON. 

« Athens, February 28. 1811. 

" Dear Madam, 

" 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 fur- 
ther 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 
be 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 ample wealth in the East, such is 
the difference in the value of money and the abun- 
dance of 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, Byron. 

" P. S. — I shall most likely see you in the course 
of the summer, but, of course, at such a distance, 1 
cannot specify any particular month." 

VOL. I. A A 

354 NOTICES OF THE 1811. 

The voyage to Egypt, which he appears from this 
letter to have contemplated, was, probably for want 
of the expected 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. 

Letter 51. TO MR. HODGSON. 

" Volage frigate, at sea, June 29. 1811. 
" In a week, with a fair wind, we shall be at 
Portsmouth, and on the 2d of July, I shall have com- 
pleted (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 impa- 
tient to see, simply because I am tired of a long 

" 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. 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 

1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 355 

East, where I can at least have cloudless skies and 
a cessation from unpertinence. 

" I trust to meet, or see you, in town, or at New- 
stead, whenever you can make it convenient — I sup- 
pose 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 Dicky 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 for 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 Castilian 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 I shall be happy to 
see you. I shall be in town about the 8th, at 
Dorant's Hotel, in Albemarle Street, and proceed 

A A 2 



in a few days to Notts., and thence to Rochdale 
on business. 

" I am, here and there, yours," &c. 

Letter 52. TO MRS. BYRON. 

" Volage frigate, at sea, June 25. 1811. 
" Dear Mother, 

'' This letter, which will be forwarded on our 
arrival at Portsmouth, probably about the 4th of 
Jul}', is begun about twenty-three days after our 
departure from INIalta. 1 have just been two j'ears 
(to a day, on the 2d of July) absent from England, 
and I return to it with much the same feelings Avhich 
prevailed on my departure, viz. indifference ; but 
within that apathy I certainly do not comprise your- 
self, as I will prove by every means in my po\ver. 
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 visiter. 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 v/ill so 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 lite like our 
neighbours; indeed, by H.'s last advices, I have 
some apprehension 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 visiters ; 
but if I am, you must receive them, for I am deter- 
mined to have nobody breaking in upon my retire- 
ment : 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 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 dairy-maid, 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 dismem- 
bering Mr. B.'s kingdom, and erecting part of it into 
a principality for field-marshal Fletcher I I hope 
you govern my little empire and its sad load of 
national debt with a wary hand. To drop my me- 
taphor, I beg leave to subscribe myself yours, &c. 

358 NOTICES OF THE 1811. 

" 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 for- 
ward 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." 

Letter 53. TO MR. HENRY DRURY, 

" Volage frigate, ofF Ushant, July 17. 1811. 
" My dear Drury, 

" 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 tedi- 
ous 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 Lanes, and sell collieries, and back to London 
and pay debts, — for it seems I shall neither have 
coals nor comfort till I go down to Rochdale in 

" I have brought home some marbles for Hob- 
house; — for myself, four ancient Athenian skulls*, 
dug out of sarcophagi — a phial of Attic hemlock f 

* Given afterwards to Sir Walter Scott. 

f At present in the possession of Mr. Murray. 

1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 359 

— four live tortoises — a greyhound (died on the 
passage) — two live Greek servants, one an Athe- 
nian, 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 Chrissae of a book of geogra- 
phy ! — but this I only call plagiarism, as it was 
done within an hour's ride of Delphi." 


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