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The Life of Lord Byron by John Galt

Part 3 out of 6

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The environs of the Piraeus were indeed, at that time, well
calculated to inspire those mournful reflections with which the poet
introduces the Infidel's impassioned tale. The solitude, the relics,
the decay, and sad uses to which the pirate and the slave-dealer had
put the shores and waters so honoured by freedom, rendered a visit to
the Piraeus something near in feeling to a pilgrimage.

Such is the aspect of this shore,
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more!
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath;
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb,
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hov'ring round decay,
The farewell beam of feeling past away.
Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherish'd earth.

At that time Lord Byron, if he did pity the condition of the Greeks,
evinced very little confidence in the resurrection of the nation,
even although symptoms of change and reanimation were here and there
perceptible, and could not have escaped his observation. Greece had
indeed been so long ruined, that even her desolation was then in a
state of decay. The new cycle in her fortunes had certainly not
commenced, but it was manifest, by many a sign, that the course of
the old was concluding, and that the whole country felt the assuring
auguries of undivulged renovation. The influence of that period did
not, however, penetrate the bosom of the poet; and when he first
quitted Athens, assuredly he cared as little about the destinies of
the Greeks, as he did for those of the Portuguese and Spaniards, when
he arrived at Gibraltar.

About three weeks or a month after he had left Athens, I went by a
circuitous route to Smyrna, where I found him waiting with Mr
Hobhouse, to proceed with the Salsette frigate, then ordered to
Constantinople, to bring away Mr Adair, the ambassador. He had, in
the meantime, visited Ephesus, and acquired some knowledge of the
environs of Smyrna; but he appeared to have been less interested by
what he had seen there than by the adventures of his Albanian tour.
Perhaps I did him injustice, but I thought he was also, in that short
space, something changed, and not with improvement. Towards Mr
Hobhouse, he seemed less cordial, and was altogether, I should say,
having no better phrase to express what I would describe, more of a
Captain Grand than improved in his manners, and more disposed to hold
his own opinion than I had ever before observed in him. I was
particularly struck with this at dinner, on the day after my arrival.
We dined together with a large party at the consul's, and he seemed
inclined to exact a deference to his dogmas, that was more lordly
than philosophical. One of the naval officers present, I think the
captain of the Salsette, felt, as well as others, this overweening,
and announced a contrary opinion on some question connected with the
politics of the late Mr Pitt with so much firm good sense, that Lord
Byron was perceptibly rebuked by it, and became reserved, as if he
deemed that sullenness enhanced dignity. I never in the whole course
of my acquaintance saw him kithe so unfavourably as he did on that
occasion. In the course of the evening, however, he condescended to
thaw, and before the party broke up, his austerity began to leaf, and
hide its thorns under the influence of a relenting temperament. It
was, however, too evident--at least it was so to me--that without
intending wrong, or any offence, the unchecked humour of his temper
was, by its caprices, calculated to prevent him from ever gaining
that regard to which his talents and freer moods, independently of
his rank, ought to have entitled him. Such men become objects of
solicitude, but never of esteem.

I was also on this occasion struck with another new phase in his
character; he seemed to be actuated by no purpose--he spoke no more
of passing "beyond Aurora and the Ganges," but seemed disposed to let
the current of chances carry him as it might. If he had any specific
object in view, it was something that made him hesitate between going
home and returning to Athens when he should have reached
Constantinople, now become the ultimate goal of his intended travels.
To what cause this sudden and singular change, both in demeanour and
design, was owing, I was on the point of saying, it would be
fruitless to conjecture; but a letter to his mother, written a few
days before my arrival at Smyrna, throws some light on the sources of
his unsatisfied state. He appears by it to have been disappointed of
letters and remittances from his agent, and says:

"When I arrive at Constantinople, I shall determine 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."

Here is sufficient evidence that the cause of the undetermined state
of his mind, which struck me so forcibly, was owing to the
incertitude of his affairs at home; and it is easy to conceive that
the false dignity he assumed, and which seemed so like arrogance, was
the natural effect of the anxiety and embarrassment he suffered, and
of the apprehension of a person of his rank being, on account of his
remittances, exposed to require assistance among strangers. But as
the scope of my task relates more to the history of his mind, than of
his private affairs, I shall resume the narrative of his travels, in
which the curiosity of the reader ought to be more legitimately


Smyrna--The Sport of the Djerid--Journey to Ephesus--The dead City--
The desolate Country--The Ruins and Obliteration of the Temple--The
slight Impression of all on Byron

The passage in the Pylades from Athens to Smyrna was performed
without accident or adventure.

At Smyrna Lord Byron remained several days, and saw for the first
time the Turkish pastime of the Djerid, a species of tournament to
which he more than once alludes. I shall therefore describe the

The Musselim or Governor, with the chief agas of the city, mounted on
horses superbly caparisoned, and attended by slaves, meet, commonly
on Sunday morning, on their playground. Each of the riders is
furnished with one or two djerids, straight white sticks, a little
thinner than an umbrella-stick, less at one end than at the other and
about an ell in length, together with a thin cane crooked at the
head. The horsemen, perhaps a hundred in number, gallop about in as
narrow a space as possible, throwing the djerids at each other and
shouting. Each man then selects an opponent who has darted his
djerid or is for the moment without a weapon, and rushes furiously
towards him, screaming "Olloh! Olloh!" The other flies, looking
behind him, and the instant the dart is launched stoops downwards as
low as possible, or wields his horse with inconceivable rapidity, and
picking up a djerid with his cane, or taking one from a running
slave, pursues in his turn the enemy, who wheels on the instant he
darts his weapon. The greatest dexterity is requisite in these mimic
battles to avoid the concurrence of the "javelin-darting crowd," and
to escape the random blows of the flying djerids.

Byron, having satisfied his curiosity with Smyrna, which is so like
every other Turkish town as to excite but little interest, set out
with Mr Hobhouse on the 13th of March, for Ephesus. As I soon after
passed along the same road, I shall here describe what I met with
myself in the course of the journey, it being probable that the
incidents were in few respects different from those which they

On ascending the heights after leaving Smyrna, the road was
remarkable in being formed of the broken relics of ancient edifices
partly macadamised. On the brow of the hill I met a numerous caravan
of camels coming from the interior of Asia. These ships of the
desert, variously loaded, were moving slowly to their port, and it
seemed to me as I rode past them, that the composed docile look of
the animals possessed a sort of domesticated grace which lessened the
effect of their deformity.

A caravan, owing to the oriental dresses of the passengers and
attendants, with the numerous grotesque circumstances which it
presents to the stranger, affords an amusing spectacle. On the back
of one camel three or four children were squabbling in a basket; in
another cooking utensils were clattering; and from a crib on a third
a young camel looked forth inquiringly on the world: a long
desultory train of foot-passengers and cattle brought up the rear.

On reaching the summit of the hills behind Smyrna the road lies
through fields and cotton-grounds, well cultivated and interspersed
with country houses. After an easy ride of three or four hours I
passed through the ruins of a considerable Turkish town, containing
four or five mosques, one of them, a handsome building, still entire;
about twenty houses or so might be described as tenantable, but only
a place of sepulchres could be more awful: it had been depopulated
by the plague--all was silent, and the streets were matted with thick
grass. In passing through an open space, which reminded me of a
market-place, I heard the cuckoo with an indescribable sensation of
pleasure mingled with solemnity. The sudden presence of a raven at a
bridal banquet could scarcely have been a greater phantasma.

Proceeding briskly from this forsaken and dead city, I arrived in the
course of about half an hour at a coffee-house on the banks of a
small stream, where I partook of some refreshment in the shade of
three or four trees, on which several storks were conjugally building
their nests. While resting there, I became interested in their work,
and observed, that when any of their acquaintances happened to fly
past with a stick, they chattered a sort of How-d'ye-do to one
another. This civility was so uniformly and reciprocally performed,
that the politeness of the stork may be regarded as even less
disputable than its piety.

The road from that coffee-house lies for a mile or two along the side
of a marshy lake, the environs of which are equally dreary and
barren; an extensive plain succeeds, on which I noticed several
broken columns of marble, and the evident traces of an ancient
causeway, which apparently led through the water. Near the extremity
of the lake was another small coffee-house, with a burial-ground and
a mosque near it; and about four or five miles beyond I passed a
spot, to which several Turks brought a coffinless corpse, and laid it
on the grass while they silently dug a grave to receive it.

The road then ascended the hills on the south side of the plain, of
which the marshy lake was the centre, and passed through a tract of
country calculated to inspire only apprehension and melancholy. Not
a habitation nor vestige of living man was in sight, but several
cemeteries, with their dull funereal cypresses and tombstones served
to show that the country had once been inhabited.

Just as the earliest stars began to twinkle I arrived at a third
coffee-house on the roadside, with a little mosque before it, a
spreading beech tree for travellers to recline under in the spring,
and a rude shed for them in showers or the more intense sunshine of
summer. Here I rested for the night, and in the morning at daybreak
resumed my journey.

After a short ride I reached the borders of the plain of Ephesus,
across which I passed along a road rudely constructed, and raised
above the marsh, consisting of broken pillars, entablatures, and
inscriptions, at the end of which two other paths diverge; one
strikes off to the left, and leads over the Cayster by a bridge above
the castle of Aiasaluk--the other, leading to the right, or west,
goes directly to Scala Nuova, the ancient Neapolis. By the latter
Byron and his friend proceeded towards the ferry, which they crossed,
and where they found the river about the size of the Cam at
Cambridge, but more rapid and deeper. They then rode up the south
bank, and about three o'clock in the afternoon arrived at Aiasaluk,
the miserable village which now represents the city of Ephesus.

Having put up their beds in a mean khan, the only one in the town,
they partook of some cold provisions which they had brought with them
on a stone seat by the side of a fountain, on an open green near to a
mosque, shaded with tall cypresses. During their repast a young Turk
approached the fountain, and after washing his feet and hands,
mounted a flat stone, placed evidently for the purpose on the top of
the wall surrounding the mosque, and devoutly said his prayers,
totally regardless of their appearance and operations.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in exploring the ruins of
Aiasaluk, and next morning they proceeded to examine those of the
castle, and the mouldering magnificence of Ephesus. The remains of
the celebrated temple of Diana, one of the wonders of the ancient
world, could not be satisfactorily traced; fragments of walls and
arches, which had been plated with marble, were all they could
discover, with many broken columns that had once been mighty in their
altitude and strength: several fragments were fifteen feet long, and
of enormous circumference. Such is the condition of that superb
edifice, which was, in its glory, four hundred and twenty feet long
by two hundred and twenty feet broad, and adorned with more than a
hundred and twenty columns sixty feet high.

When the travellers had satisfied their curiosity, if that can be
called satisfaction which found no entire form, but saw only the
rubbish of desolation and the fragments of destruction, they returned
to Smyrna.

The investigation of the ruins of Ephesus was doubtless interesting
at the time, but the visit produced no such impression on the mind of
Byron as might have been expected. He never directly refers to it in
his works: indeed, after Athens, the relics of Ephesus are things
but of small import, especially to an imagination which, like that of
the poet, required the action of living characters to awaken its
dormant sympathies.


Embarks for Constantinople--Touches at Tenedos--Visits Alexandria--
Trees--The Trojan Plain--Swims the Hellespont--Arrival at

On the 11th of April Lord Byron embarked at Smyrna, in the Salsette
frigate for Constantinople. The wind was fair during the night, and
at half past six next morning, the ship was off the Sygean
promontory, the north end of the ancient Lesbos or Mitylene. Having
passed the headland, north of the little town of Baba, she came in
sight of Tenedos, where she anchored, and the poet went on shore to
view the island.

The port was full of small craft, which in their voyage to the
Archipelago had put in to wait for a change of wind, and a crowd of
Turks belonging to these vessels were lounging about on the shore.
The town was then in ruins, having been burned to the ground by a
Russian squadron in the year 1807.

Next morning, Byron, with a party of officers, left the ship to visit
the ruins of Alexandria Troas, and landed at an open port, about six
or seven miles to the south of where the Salsette was at anchor. The
spot near to where they disembarked was marked by several large
cannon-balls of granite; for the ruins of Alexandria have long
supplied the fortresses of the Dardanelles with these gigantic

They rambled some time through the shaggy woods, with which the
country is covered, and the first vestiges of antiquity which
attracted their attention were two large granite sarcophagi; a little
beyond they found two or three fragments of granite pillars, one of
them about twenty-five feet in length, and at least five in diameter.
Near these they saw arches of brick-work, and on the east of them
those magnificent remains, to which early travellers have given the
name of the palace of Priam, but which are, in fact, the ruins of
ancient baths. An earthquake in the course of the preceding winter
had thrown down large portions of them, and the internal divisions of
the edifice were, in consequence, choked with huge masses of mural
wrecks and marbles.

The visitors entered the interior through a gap, and found themselves
in the midst of enormous ruins, enclosed on two sides by walls,
raised on arches, and by piles of ponderous fragments. The fallen
blocks were of vast dimensions, and showed that no cement had been
used in the construction--an evidence of their great antiquity. In
the midst of this crushed magnificence stood several lofty portals
and arches, pedestals of gigantic columns and broken steps and marble
cornices, heaped in desolate confusion.

From these baths the distance to the sea is between two and three
miles--a gentle declivity covered with low woods, and partially
interspersed with spots of cultivated ground. On this slope the
ancient city of Alexandria Troas was built. On the north-west, part
of the walls, to the extent of a mile, may yet be traced; the remains
of a theatre are also still to be seen on the side of the hill
fronting the sea, commanding a view of Tenedos, Lemnos, and the whole
expanse of the AEgean.

Having been conducted by the guide, whom they had brought with them
from Tenedos, to the principal antiquities of Alexandria Troas, the
visitors returned to the frigate, which immediately after got under
way. On the 14th of April she came to anchor about a mile and a half
from Cape Janissary, the Sygean promontory, where she remained about
a fortnight; during which ample opportunity was afforded to inspect
the plain of Troy, that scene of heroism, which, for three thousand
years, has attracted the attention and interested the feelings and
fancy of the civilized world.

Whether Lord Byron entertained any doubt of Homer's Troy ever having
existed, is not very clear. It is probable, from the little he says
on the subject, that he took no interest in the question. For
although no traveller could enter with more sensibility into the
local associations of celebrated places, he yet never seemed to care
much about the visible features of antiquity, and was always more
inclined to indulge in reflections than to puzzle his learning with
dates or dimensions. His ruminations on the Troad, in Don Juan,
afford an instance of this, and are conceived in the very spirit of
Childe Harold.

And so great names are nothing more than nominal,
And love of glory's but an airy lust,
Too often in its fury overcoming all
Who would, as 'twere, identify their dust
From out the wide destruction which, entombing all,
Leaves nothing till the coming of the just,
Save change. I've stood upon Achilles' tomb,
And heard Troy doubted--time will doubt of Rome.

The very generations of the dead
Are swept away, and tomb inherits tomb,
Until the memory of an age is fled,
And buried, sinks beneath its offspring's doom.
Where are the epitaphs our fathers read,
Save a few glean'd from the sepulchral gloom,
Which once named myriads, nameless, lie beneath,
And lose their own in universal death?

No task of curiosity can indeed be less satisfactory that the
examination of the sites of ancient cities; for the guides, not
content with leading the traveller to the spot, often attempt to
mislead his imagination, by directing his attention to circumstances
which they suppose to be evidence that verifies their traditions.
Thus, on the Trojan plain, several objects are still shown which are
described as the self-same mentioned in the Iliad. The wild fig-
trees, and the tomb of Ilus, are yet there--if the guides may be
credited. But they were seen with incredulous eyes by the poet; even
the tomb of Achilles appears to have been regarded by him with equal
scepticism; still his description of the scene around is striking,
and tinted with some of his happiest touches.

There on the green and village-cotted hill is
Flanked by the Hellespont, and by the sea,
Entomb'd the bravest of the brave, Achilles--
They say so. Bryant says the contrary.
And farther downward tall and towering still is
The tumulus, of whom Heaven knows it may be,
Patroclus, Ajax, or Protesilaus,--
All heroes, who, if living still, would slay us.

High barrows without marble or a name,
A vast untill'd and mountain-skirted plain,
And Ida in the distance still the same,
And old Scamander, if 'tis he, remain;
The situation seems still form'd for fame,
A hundred thousand men might fight again
With ease. But where I sought for Ilion's walls
The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawls.

Troops of untended horses; here and there
Some little hamlets, with new names uncouth,
Some shepherds unlike Paris, led to stare
A moment at the European youth,
Whom to the spot their schoolboy feelings bear;
A Turk with beads in hand and pipe in mouth,
Extremely taken with his own religion,
Are what I found there, but the devil a Phrygian.

It was during the time that the Salsette lay off Cape Janissary that
Lord Byron first undertook to swim across the Hellespont. Having
crossed from the castle of Chanak-Kalessi, in a boat manned by four
Turks, he landed at five o'clock in the evening half a mile above the
castle of Chelit-Bauri, where, with an officer of the frigate who
accompanied him, they began their enterprise, emulous of the renown
of Leander. At first they swam obliquely upwards, rather towards
Nagara Point than the Dardanelles, but notwithstanding their skill
and efforts they made little progress. Finding it useless to
struggle with {156} the current, they then turned and went with the
stream, still however endeavouring to cross. It was not until they
had been half an hour in the water, and found themselves in the
middle of the strait, about a mile and a half below the castles, that
they consented to be taken into the boat, which had followed them.
By that time the coldness of the water had so benumbed their limbs
that they were unable to stand, and were otherwise much exhausted.
The second attempt was made on the 3rd of May, when the weather was
warmer. They entered the water at the distance of a mile and a-half
above Chelit-Bauri, near a point of land on the western bank of the
Bay of Maito, and swam against the stream as before, but not for so
long a time. In less than half an hour they came floating down the
current close to the ship, which was then anchored at the
Dardanelles, and in passing her steered for the bay behind the
castle, which they soon succeeded in reaching, and landed about a
mile and a-half below the ship. Lord Byron has recorded that he
found the current very strong and the water cold; that some large
fish passed him in the middle of the channel, and though a little
chilled he was not fatigued, and performed the feat without much
difficulty, but not with impunity, for by the verses in which he
commemorated the exploit it appears he incurred the ague.


If in the month of dark December
Leander who was nightly wont
(What maid will not the tale remember)
To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont,

If when the wintry tempest roar'd
He sped to Hero nothing loath,
And thus of old thy current pour'd,
Fair Venus! how I pity both.

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
And think I've done a feat to-day.

But since he crossed the rapid tide,
According to the doubtful story,
To woo, and--Lord knows what beside,
And swam for love as I for glory,

'Twere hard to say who fared the best;
Sad mortals thus the gods still plague you;
He lost his labour, I my jest--
For he was drown'd, and I've the ague.

"The whole distance," says his Lordship, "from the place whence we
started to our landing on the other side, including the length we
were carried by the current, was computed by those on board the
frigate at upwards of four English miles, though the actual breadth
is barely one. The rapidity of the current is such that no boat can
row directly across, and it may in some measure be estimated from the
circumstance of the whole distance being accomplished by one of the
parties in an hour and five, and by the other (Byron) in an hour and
ten minutes. The water was extremely cold from the melting of the
mountain snows. About three weeks before, in April, we had made an
attempt; but having ridden all the way from the Troad the same
morning, and the water being of an icy chilliness, we found it
necessary to postpone the completion till the frigate anchored below
the castles, when we swam the straits as just stated, entering a
considerable way above the European, and landing below the Asiatic
fort. Chevallier says that a young Jew swam the same distance for
his mistress; and Oliver mentions it having been done by a
Neapolitan; but our consul (at the Dardanelles), Tarragona,
remembered neither of these circumstances, and tried to dissuade us
from the attempt. A number of the Salsette's crew were known to have
accomplished a greater distance and the only thing that surprised me
was, that as doubts had been entertained of the truth of Leander's
story, no traveller had ever endeavoured to ascertain its

While the Salsette lay off the Dardanelles, Lord Byron saw the body
of a man who had been executed by being cast into the sea, floating
on the stream, moving to and fro with the tumbling of the water,
which gave to his arms the effect of scaring away several sea-fowl
that were hovering to devour. This incident he has strikingly
depicted in The Bride of Abydos.

The sea-birds shriek above the prey
O'er which their hungry beaks delay,
As shaken on his restless pillow,
His head heaves with the heaving billow;
That hand whose motion is not life,
Yet feebly seems to menace strife,
Flung by the tossing tide on high,
Then levell'd with the wave--
What reeks it tho' that corse shall lie
Within a living grave.
The bird that tears that prostrate form
Hath only robb'd the meaner worm.
The only heart, the only eye,
That bled or wept to see him die,
Had seen those scatter'd limbs composed,
And mourned above his turban stone;
That heart hath burst--that eye was closed--
Yea--closed before his own.

Between the Dardanelles and Constantinople no other adventure was
undertaken or befel the poet. On the 13th of May, the frigate came
to anchor at sunset, near the headland to the west of the Seraglio
Point; and when the night closed in, the silence and the darkness
were so complete "that we might have believed ourselves," says Mr
Hobhouse, "moored in the lonely cove of some desert island, and not
at the foot of a city which, from its vast extent and countless
population, is fondly imagined by its present masters to be worthy to
be called 'The Refuge of the World.'"


Constantinople--Description--The Dogs and the Dead--Landed at
Tophana--The Masterless Dogs--The Slave Market--The Seraglio--The
Defects in the Description

The spot where the frigate came to anchor affords but an imperfect
view of the Ottoman capital. A few tall white minarets, and the
domes of the great mosques only are in sight, interspersed with trees
and mean masses of domestic buildings. In the distance, inland on
the left, the redoubted Castle of the Seven Towers is seen rising
above the gloomy walls; and, unlike every other European city, a
profound silence prevails over all. This remarkable characteristic
of Constantinople is owing to the very few wheel-carriages employed
in the city. In other respects the view around is lively, and in
fine weather quickened with innumerable objects in motion. In the
calmest days the rippling in the flow of the Bosphorus is like the
running of a river. In the fifth canto of Don Juan, Lord Byron has
seized the principal features, and delineated them with sparkling

The European with the Asian shore,
Sprinkled with palaces, the ocean stream
Here and there studded with a seventy-four,
Sophia's cupola with golden gleam;
The cypress groves; Olympus high and hoar;
The twelve isles, and the more than I could dream,
Far less describe, present the very view
Which charm'd the charming Mary Montague.

In the morning, when his Lordship left the ship, the wind blew
strongly from the north-east, and the rushing current of the
Bosphorus dashed with great violence against the rocky projections of
the shore, as the captain's boat was rowed against the stream.

The wind swept down the Euxine, and the wave
Broke foaming o'er the blue Symplegades.
'Tis a grand sight, from off the giant's grave,
To watch the progress of those rolling seas
Between the Bosphorus, as they lash and lave
Europe and Asia, you being quite at ease.

"The sensations produced by the state of the weather, and leaving a
comfortable cabin, were," says Mr Hobhouse, "in unison with the
impressions which we felt, when, passing under the palace of the
sultans, and gazing at the gloomy cypresses, which rise above the
walls, we saw two dogs gnawing a dead body." The description in The
Siege of Corinth of the dogs devouring the dead, owes its origin to
this incident of the dogs and the body under the walls of the

And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall,
Hold o'er the dead their carnival.
Gorging and growling o'er carcase and limb,
They were too busy to bark at him.
From a Tartar's scull they had stripp'd the flesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh,
And their white tusks crunched on the whiter scull,
As it slipp'd through their jaws when their edge grew dull.
As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed.
So well had they broken a lingering fast,
With those who had fallen for that night's repast.
And Alp knew by the turbans that rolled on the sand,
The foremost of these were the best of his band.
Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear,
And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair,
All the rest was shaven and bare.
The scalps were in the wild dogs' maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw.
But close by the shore on the edge of the gulf,
There sat a vulture flapping a wolf,
Who had stolen from the hills but kept away,
Scared by the dogs from the human prey;
But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Pick'd by the birds on the sands of the bay.

This hideous picture is a striking instance of the uses to which
imaginative power may turn the slightest hint, and of horror
augmented till it reach that extreme point at which the ridiculous
commences. The whole compass of English poetry affords no parallel
to this passage. It even exceeds the celebrated catalogue of
dreadful things on the sacramental table in Tam O' Shanter. It is
true, that the revolting circumstances described by Byron are less
sublime in their associations than those of Burns, being mere visible
images, unconnected with ideas of guilt, and unlike

The knife a father's throat had mangled,
Which his ain son of life bereft:
The gray hairs yet stuck to the heft.

Nor is there in the vivid group of the vulture flapping the wolf, any
accessory to rouse stronger emotions, than those which are associated
with the sight of energy and courage, while the covert insinuation,
that the bird is actuated by some instigation of retribution in
pursuing the wolf for having run away with the bone, approaches the
very point and line where the horrible merges in the ludicrous. The
whole passage is fearfully distinct, and though in its circumstances,
as the poet himself says, "sickening," is yet an amazing display of
poetical power and high invention.

The frigate sent the travellers on shore at Tophana, from which the
road ascends to Pera. Near this landing-place is a large fountain,
and around it a public stand of horses ready saddled, attended by
boys. On some of these Lord Byron and his friend, with the officers
who had accompanied them, mounted and rode up the steep hill, to the
principal Frank Hotel, in Pera, where they intended to lodge. In the
course of the ride their attention was attracted to the prodigious
number of masterless dogs which lounge and lurk about the corners of
the streets; a nuisance both dangerous and disagreeable, but which
the Turks not only tolerate but protect. It is no uncommon thing to
see a litter of puppies with their mother nestled in a mat placed on
purpose for them in a nook by some charitable Mussulman of the
neighbourhood; for notwithstanding their merciless military
practices, the Turks are pitiful-hearted Titans to dumb animals and
slaves. Constantinople has, however, been so often and so well
described, that it is unnecessary to notice its different objects of
curiosity here, except in so far as they have been contributory to
the stores of the poet.

The slave market was of course not unvisited, but the description in
Don Juan is more indebted to the author's fancy, than any of those
other bright reflections of realities to which I have hitherto
directed the attention of the reader. The market now-a-days is in
truth very uninteresting; few slaves are ever to be seen in it, and
the place itself has an odious resemblance to Smithfield. I imagine,
therefore, that the trade in slaves is chiefly managed by private
bargaining. When there, I saw only two men for sale, whites, who
appeared very little concerned about their destination, certainly not
more than English rustics offering themselves for hire to the farmers
at a fair or market. Doubtless, there was a time when the slave
market of Constantinople presented a different spectacle, but the
trade itself has undergone a change--the Christians are now
interdicted from purchasing slaves. The luxury of the guilt is
reserved for the exclusive enjoyment of the Turks. Still, as a
description of things which may have been, Byron's market is probable
and curious.

A crowd of shivering slaves of every nation
And age and sex were in the market ranged,
Each busy with the merchant in his station.
Poor creatures, their good looks were sadly changed.

All save the blacks seem'd jaded with vexation,
From friends, and home, and freedom far estranged.
The negroes more philosophy displayed,
Used to it no doubt, as eels are to be flayed.

Like a backgammon board, the place was dotted
With whites and blacks in groups, on show for sale,
Though rather more irregularly spotted;
Some bought the jet, while others chose the pale.

No lady e'er is ogled by a lover,
Horse by a black-leg, broadcloth by a tailor,
Fee by a counsel, felon by a jailer,

As is a slave by his intended bidder.
'Tis pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures,
And all are to be sold, if you consider
Their passions, and are dext'rous, some by features
Are bought up, others by a warlike leader;
Some by a place, as tend their years or natures;
The most by ready cash, but all have prices,
From crowns to kicks, according to their vices.

The account of the interior of the seraglio in Don Juan is also only
probably correct, and may have been drawn in several particulars from
an inspection of some of the palaces, but the descriptions of the
imperial harem are entirely fanciful. I am persuaded, by different
circumstances, that Byron could not have been in those sacred
chambers of any of the seraglios. At the time I was in
Constantinople, only one of the imperial residences was accessible to
strangers, and it was unfurnished. The great seraglio was not
accessible beyond the courts, except in those apartments where the
Sultan receives his officers and visitors of state. Indeed, the
whole account of the customs and usages of the interior of the
seraglio, as described in Don Juan, can only be regarded as
inventions; and though the descriptions abound in picturesque beauty,
they have not that air of truth and fact about them which render the
pictures of Byron so generally valuable, independent of their
poetical excellence. In those he has given of the apartments of the
men, the liveliness and fidelity of his pencil cannot be denied; but
the Arabian tales and Vathek seem to have had more influence on his
fancy in describing the imperial harem, than a knowledge of actual
things and appearances. Not that the latter are inferior to the
former in beauty, or are without images and lineaments of graphic
distinctness, but they want that air of reality which constitutes the
singular excellence of his scenes drawn from nature; and there is a
vagueness in them which has the effect of making them obscure, and
even fantastical. Indeed, except when he paints from actual models,
from living persons and existing things, his superiority, at least
his originality, is not so obvious; and thus it happens, that his
gorgeous description of the sultan's seraglio is like a versified
passage of an Arabian tale, while the imagery of Childe Harold's
visit to Ali Pasha has all the freshness and life of an actual scene.
The following is, indeed, more like an imitation of Vathek, than
anything that has been seen, or is in existence. I quote it for the
contrast it affords to the visit referred to, and in illustration of
the distinction which should be made between beauties derived from
actual scenes and adventures, and compilations from memory and
imagination, which are supposed to display so much more of creative

And thus they parted, each by separate doors,
Raba led Juan onward, room by room,
Through glittering galleries and o'er marble floors,
Till a gigantic portal through the gloom
Haughty and huge along the distance towers,
And wafted far arose a rich perfume,
It seem'd as though they came upon a shrine,
For all was vast, still, fragrant, and divine.

The giant door was broad and bright and high,
Of gilded bronze, and carved in curious guise;
Warriors thereon were battling furiously;
Here stalks the victor, there the vanquish'd lies;
There captives led in triumph droop the eye,
And in perspective many a squadron flies.
It seems the work of times before the line
Of Rome transplanted fell with Constantine.

This massy portal stood at the wide close
Of a huge hall, and on its either side
Two little dwarfs, the least you could suppose,
Were sate, like ugly imps, as if allied
In mockery to the enormous gate which rose
O'er them in almost pyramidic pride.


Dispute with the Ambassador--Reflections on Byron's Pride of Rank--
Abandons his Oriental Travels--Re-embarks in the "Salsette"--The
Dagger Scene--Zea--Returns to Athens--Tour in the Morea--Dangerous
Illness--Return to Athens--The Adventure on which "The Giaour" is

Although Lord Byron remained two months in Constantinople, and
visited every object of interest and curiosity within and around it,
he yet brought away with him fewer poetical impressions than from any
other part of the Ottoman dominions; at least he has made less use in
his works of what he saw and learned there, than of the materials he
collected in other places.

From whatever cause it arose, the self-abstraction which I had
noticed at Smyrna, was remarked about him while he was in the
capital, and the same jealousy of his rank was so nervously awake,
that it led him to attempt an obtrusion on the ambassadorial
etiquettes--which he probably regretted.

It has grown into a custom, at Constantinople, when the foreign
ministers are admitted to audiences of ceremony with the Sultan, to
allow the subjects and travellers of their respective nations to
accompany them, both to swell the pomp of the spectacle, and to
gratify their curiosity. Mr Adair, our ambassador, for whom the
Salsette had been sent, had his audience of leave appointed soon
after Lord Byron's arrival, and his Lordship was particularly anxious
to occupy a station of distinction in the procession. The pretension
was ridiculous in itself, and showed less acquaintance with courtly
ceremonies than might have been expected in a person of his rank and
intelligence. Mr Adair assured him that he could obtain no
particular place; that in the arrangements for the ceremonial, only
the persons connected with the embassy could be considered, and that
the Turks neither acknowledged the precedence, nor could be requested
to consider the distinctions of our nobility. Byron, however, still
persisted, and the minister was obliged to refer him on the subject
to the Austrian Internuncio, a high authority in questions of
etiquette, whose opinion was decidedly against the pretension.

The pride of rank was indeed one of the greatest weaknesses of Lord
Byron, and everything, even of the most accidental kind, which seemed
to come between the wind and his nobility, was repelled on the spot.
I recollect having some debate with him once respecting a pique of
etiquette, which happened between him and Sir William Drummond,
somewhere in Portugal or Spain. Sir William was at the time an
ambassador (not, however, I believe, in the country where the
incident occurred), and was on the point of taking precedence in
passing from one room to another, when Byron stepped in before him.
The action was undoubtedly rude on the part of his Lordship, even
though Sir William had presumed too far on his riband: to me it
seemed also wrong; for, by the custom of all nations from time
immemorial, ambassadors have been allowed their official rank in
passing through foreign countries, while peers in the same
circumstances claim no rank at all; even in our own colonies it has
been doubted if they may take precedence of the legislative
counsellors. But the rights of rank are best determined by the
heralds, and I have only to remark, that it is almost inconceivable
that such things should have so morbidly affected the sensibility of
Lord Byron; yet they certainly did so, and even to a ridiculous
degree. On one occasion, when he lodged in St James's Street, I
recollect him rating the footman for using a double knock in
accidental thoughtlessness.

These little infirmities are, however, at most only calculated to
excite a smile; there is no turpitude in them, and they merit notice
but as indications of the humour of character. It was his Lordship's
foible to overrate his rank, to grudge his deformity beyond reason,
and to exaggerate the condition of his family and circumstances. But
the alloy of such small vanities, his caprice and feline temper, were
as vapour compared with the mass of rich and rare ore which
constituted the orb and nucleus of his brilliancy.

He had not been long in Constantinople, when a change came over his
intentions; the journey to Persia was abandoned, and the dreams of
India were dissolved. The particular causes which produced this
change are not very apparent--but Mr Hobhouse was at the same time
directed to return home, and perhaps that circumstance had some
influence on his decision, which he communicated to his mother,
informing her, that he should probably return to Greece. As in that
letter he alludes to his embarrassment on account of remittances, it
is probable that the neglect of his agent, with respect to them, was
the main cause which induced him to determine on going no farther.

Accordingly, on the 14th of July, he embarked with Mr Hobhouse and
the ambassador on board the Salsette. It was in the course of the
passage to the island of Zea, where he was put on shore, that one of
the most emphatic incidents of his life occurred; an incident which
throws a remarkable gleam into the springs and intricacies of his
character--more, perhaps, than anything which has yet been mentioned.

One day, as he was walking the quarter-deck, he lifted an ataghan (it
might be one of the midshipmen's weapons), and unsheathing it, said,
contemplating the blade, "I should like to know how a person feels
after committing murder." By those who have inquiringly noticed the
extraordinary cast of his metaphysical associations, this dagger-
scene must be regarded as both impressive and solemn; although the
wish to know how a man felt after committing murder does not imply
any desire to perpetrate the crime. The feeling might be appreciated
by experiencing any actual degree of guilt; for it is not the deed--
the sentiment which follows it makes the horror. But it is doing
injustice to suppose the expression of such a wish dictated by
desire. Lord Byron has been heard to express, in the eccentricity of
conversation, wishes for a more intense knowledge of remorse than
murder itself could give. There is, however, a wide and wild
difference between the curiosity that prompts the wish to know the
exactitude of any feeling or idea, and the direful passions that
instigate to guilty gratifications.

Being landed, according to his request, with his valet, two
Albanians, and a Tartar, on the shore of Zea, it may be easily
conceived that he saw the ship depart with a feeling before unfelt.
It was the first time he was left companionless, and the scene around
was calculated to nourish stern fancies, even though there was not
much of suffering to be withstood.

The landing-place in the port of Zea, I recollect distinctly. The
port itself is a small land-locked gulf, or, as the Scottish
Highlander would call it, a loch. The banks are rocky and
forbidding; the hills, which rise to the altitude of mountains, have,
in a long course of ages, been always inhabited by a civilized
people. Their precipitous sides are formed into innumerable
artificial terraces, the aspect of which, austere, ruinous, and
ancient, produces on the mind of the stranger a sense of the presence
of a greater antiquity than the sight of monuments of mere labour and
art. The town stands high upon the mountain, I counted on the lower
side of the road which leads to it forty-nine of those terraces at
one place under me, and on the opposite hills, in several places,
upwards of sixty. Whether Lord Byron ascended to the town is
doubtful. I have never heard him mention that he had; and I am
inclined to think that he proceeded at once to Athens by one of the
boats which frequent the harbour.

At Athens he met an old fellow-collegian, the Marquis of Sligo, with
whom he soon after travelled as far as Corinth; the Marquis turning
off there for Tripolizza, while Byron went forward to Patras, where
he had some needful business to transact with the consul. He then
made the tour of the Morea, in the course of which he visited the
Vizier Velhi Pasha, by whom he was treated, as every other English
traveller of the time was, with great distinction and hospitality.

Having occasion to go back to Patras, he was seized by the local
fever there, and reduced to death's door. On his recovery he
returned to Athens, where he found the Marquis, with Lady Hester
Stanhope, and Mr Bruce, afterward so celebrated for his adventures in
assisting the escape of the French General Lavalette. He took
possession of the apartments which I had occupied in the monastery,
and made them his home during the remainder of his residence in
Greece; but when I returned to Athens, in October, he was not there
himself. I found, however, his valet, Fletcher, in possession.

There is no very clear account of the manner in which Lord Byron
employed himself after his return to Athens; but various intimations
in his correspondence show that during the winter his pen was not
idle. It would, however, be to neglect an important occurrence, not
to notice that during the time when he was at Athens alone, the
incident which he afterwards embodied in the impassioned fragments of
The Giaour came to pass; and to apprise the reader that the story is
founded on an adventure which happened to himself--he was, in fact,
the cause of the girl being condemned, and ordered to be sewn up in a
sack and thrown into the sea.

One day, as he was returning from bathing in the Piraeus, he met the
procession going down to the shore to execute the sentence which the
Waywode had pronounced on the girl; and learning the object of the
ceremony, and who was the victim, he immediately interfered with
great resolution; for, on observing some hesitation on the part of
the leader of the escort to return with him to the Governor's house,
he drew a pistol and threatened to shoot him on the spot. The man
then turned about, and accompanied him back, when, partly by bribery
and entreaty, he succeeded in obtaining a pardon for her, on
condition that she was sent immediately out of the city. Byron
conveyed her to the monastery, and on the same night sent her off to
Thebes, where she found a safe asylum.

With this affair, I may close his adventures in Greece; for, although
he remained several months subsequent at Athens, he was in a great
measure stationary. His health, which was never robust, was impaired
by the effects of the fever, which lingered about him; perhaps, too,
by the humiliating anxiety he suffered on account of the uncertainty
in his remittances. But however this may have been, it was fortunate
for his fame that he returned to England at the period he did, for
the climate of the Mediterranean was detrimental to his constitution.
The heat oppressed him so much as to be positive suffering, and
scarcely had he reached Malta on his way home, when he was visited
again with a tertian ague.


Arrival in London--Mr Dallas's Patronage--Arranges for the
Publication of "Childe Harold"--The Death of Mrs Byron--His Sorrow--
His Affair with Mr Moore--Their Meeting at Mr Rogers's House, and

Lord Byron arrived in London about the middle of July, 1811, having
been absent a few days more than two years. The embarrassed
condition in which he found his affairs sufficiently explains the
dejection and uneasiness with which he was afflicted during the
latter part of his residence in Greece; and yet it was not such as
ought to have affected him so deeply, nor have I ever been able to
comprehend wherefore so much stress has been laid on his supposed
friendlessness. In respect both to it and to his ravelled fortune, a
great deal too much has been too often said; and the manliness of his
character has suffered by the puling.

His correspondence shows that he had several friends to whom he was
much attached, and his disposition justifies the belief that, had he
not been well persuaded the attachment was reciprocal, he would not
have remained on terms of intimacy with them. And though for his
rank not rich, he was still able to maintain all its suitable
exhibition. The world could never regard as an object of compassion
or of sympathy an English noble, whose income was enough to support
his dignity among his peers, and whose poverty, however grievous to
his pride, caused only the privation of extravagance. But it cannot
be controverted, that there was an innate predilection in the mind of
Lord Byron to mystify everything about himself: he was actuated by a
passion to excite attention, and, like every other passion, it was
often indulged at the expense of propriety. He had the infirmity of
speaking, though vaguely, and in obscure hints and allusions, more of
his personal concerns than is commonly deemed consistent with a
correct estimate of the interest which mankind take in the cares of
one another. But he lived to feel and to rue the consequences: to
repent he could not, for the cause was in the very element of his
nature. It was a blemish as incurable as the deformity of his foot.

On his arrival in London, his relation, Mr Dallas, called on him, and
in the course of their first brief conversation his Lordship
mentioned that he had written a paraphrase of Horace's Art of Poetry,
but said nothing then of Childe Harold, a circumstance which leads me
to suspect that he offered him the slighter work first, to enjoy his
surprise afterward at the greater. If so, the result answered the
intent. Mr Dallas carried home with him the paraphrase of Horace,
with which he was grievously disappointed; so much so, that on
meeting his Lordship again in the morning, and being reluctant to
speak of it as he really thought, he only expressed some surprise
that his noble friend should have produced nothing else during his
long absence.

I can easily conceive the emphatic indifference, if my conjecture be
well founded, with which Lord Byron must have said to him, "I have
occasionally written short poems, besides a great many stanzas in
Spenser's measure, relative to the countries I have visited: they
are not worth troubling you with, but you shall have them all with
you, if you like."

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage was accordingly placed in his hands; Mr
Dallas took it home, and was not slow in discovering its beauties,
for in the course of the same evening he despatched a note to his
Lordship, as fair a specimen of the style of an elderly patronising
gentleman as can well be imagined: "You have written," said he, "one
of the most delightful poems I ever read. If I wrote this in
flattery, I should deserve your contempt rather than your friendship.
I have been so fascinated with Childe Harold, that I have not been
able to lay it down; I would almost pledge my life on its advancing
the reputation of your poetical powers, and on its gaining you great
honour and regard, if you will do me the credit and favour of
attending to my suggestions."

For some reason or another, Lord Byron, however, felt or feigned
great reluctance to publish Childe Harold. Possibly his repugnance
was dictated by diffidence, not with respect to its merits, but from
a consciousness that the hero of the poem exhibited traits and
resemblances of himself. It would indeed be injustice to his
judgment and taste, to suppose he was not sensible of the superiority
of the terse and energetic poetry which brightens and burns in every
stanza of the Pilgrimage, compared with the loose and sprawling
lines, and dull rhythm, of the paraphrase. It is true that he
alleged it had been condemned by a good critic--the only one who had
previously seen it--probably Mr Hobhouse, who was with him during the
time he was writing it; but still I cannot conceive he was so blind
to excellence, as to prefer in sincerity the other composition, which
was only an imitation. But the arguments of Mr Dallas prevailed and
in due season Childe Harold was prepared for the press.

In the meantime, while busily engaged in his literary projects with
Mr Dallas, and in law affairs with his agent, he was suddenly
summoned to Newstead by the state of his mother's health: before he
had reached the Abbey she had breathed her last. The event deeply
affected him; he had not seen her since his return, and a
presentiment possessed her when they parted, that she was never to
see him again.

Notwithstanding her violent temper and other unseemly conduct, her
affection for him had been so fond and dear, that he undoubtedly
returned it with unaffected sincerity; and from many casual and
incidental expressions which I have heard him employ concerning her,
I am persuaded that his filial love was not at any time even of an
ordinary kind. During her life he might feel uneasy respecting her,
apprehensive on account of her ungovernable passions and
indiscretions, but the manner in which he lamented her death, clearly
proves that the integrity of his affection had never been impaired.

On the night after his arrival at the Abbey, the waiting-woman of Mrs
Byron, in passing the door of the room where the corpse lay, heard
the sound of some one sighing heavily within, and on entering found
his Lordship sitting in the dark beside the bed. She remonstrated
with him for so giving way to grief, when he burst into tears, and
exclaimed, "I had but one friend in the world, and she is gone." Of
the fervency of his sorrow I do therefore think there can be no
doubt; the very endeavour which he made to conceal it by
indifference, was a proof of its depth and anguish, though he
hazarded the strictures of the world by the indecorum of his conduct
on the occasion of the funeral. Having declined to follow the
remains himself, he stood looking from the hall door at the
procession, till the whole had moved away; and then, turning to one
of the servants, the only person left, he desired him to fetch the
sparring-gloves, and proceeded with him to his usual exercise. But
the scene was impressive, and spoke eloquently of a grieved heart; he
sparred in silence all the time, and the servant thought that he hit
harder than was his habit: at last he suddenly flung away the gloves
and retired to his own room.

As soon as the funeral was over the publication of Childe Harold was
resumed, but it went slowly through the press. In the meantime, an
incident occurred to him which deserves to be noted--because it is
one of the most remarkable in his life, and has given rise to
consequences affecting his fame--with advantage.

In English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, he had alluded, with provoking
pleasantry, to a meeting which had taken place at Chalk Farm some
years before, between Mr Jeffrey, the Edinburgh reviewer, and Mr
Moore, without recollecting, indeed without having heard, that Mr
Moore had explained, through the newspapers, what was alleged to have
been ridiculous in the affair. This revival of the subject,
especially as it called in question the truth of Mr Moore's
statement, obliged that gentleman to demand an explanation; but Lord
Byron, being abroad, did not receive this letter, and of course knew
not of its contents, so that, on his return, Mr Moore was induced to
address his Lordship again. The correspondence which ensued is
honourable to the spirit and feelings of both.

Mr Moore, after referring to his first letter, restated the nature of
the insult which the passage in the note to the poem was calculated
to convey, adding, "It is now useless to speak of the steps with
which it was my intention to follow up that letter, the time which
has elapsed since then, though it has done away neither the injury
nor the feeling of it, has, in many respects, materially altered my
situation, and the only object I have now in writing to your
Lordship, is to preserve some consistency with that former letter,
and to prove to you that the injured feeling still exists, however
circumstances may compel me to be deaf to its dictates at present.
When I say 'injured feeling,' let me assure your Lordship that there
is not a single vindictive sentiment in my mind towards you; I mean
but to express that uneasiness under what I consider to be a charge
of falsehood, which must haunt a man of any feeling to his grave,
unless the insult be retracted, or atoned for, and which, if I did
not feel, I should indeed deserve far worse than your Lordship's
satire could inflict upon me." And he concluded by saying, that so
far from being influenced by any angry or resentful feeling, it would
give him sincere pleasure if, by any satisfactory explanation, his
Lordship would enable him to seek the honour of being ranked among
his acquaintance.

The answer of Lord Byron was diplomatic but manly. He declared that
he never received Mr Moore's letter, and assured him that in whatever
part of the world it had reached him, he would have deemed it his
duty to return and answer it in person; that he knew nothing of the
advertisement to which Mr Moore had alluded, and consequently could
not have had the slightest idea of "giving the lie" to an address
which he had never seen. "When I put my name to the production,"
said his Lordship, "which has occasioned this correspondence, I
became responsible to all whom it might concern, to explain where it
requires explanation, and where insufficiently or too sufficiently
explicit, at all events to satisfy; my situation leaves me no choice;
it rests with the injured and the angry to obtain reparation in their
own way. With regard to the passage in question, YOU were certainly
NOT the person towards whom I felt personally hostile: on the
contrary, my whole thoughts were engrossed by one whom I had reason
to consider as my worst literary enemy, nor could I foresee that his
former antagonist was about to become his champion. You do not
specify what you would wish to have done. I can neither retract nor
apologize for a charge of falsehood which I never advanced."

In reply, Mr Moore commenced by acknowledging that his Lordship's
letter was upon the whole as satisfactory as he could expect; and
after alluding to specific circumstances in the case, concluded thus:
"As your Lordship does not show any wish to proceed beyond the rigid
formulary of explanation, it is not for me to make any farther
advances. We Irishmen, in business of this kind, seldom know any
medium between decided hostility and decided friendship. But as any
approaches towards the latter alternative must now depend entirely on
your Lordship, I have only to repeat that I am satisfied with your
letter." Here the correspondence would probably, with most people,
have been closed, but Lord Byron's sensibility was interested, and
would not let it rest. Accordingly, on the following day, he
rejoined: "Soon after my return to England, my friend Mr Hodgson
apprised me that a letter for me was in his possession; but a
domestic event hurrying me from London immediately after, the letter,
which may most probably be your own, is still unopened in his
keeping. If, on examination of the address, the similarity of the
handwriting should lead to such a conclusion, it shall be opened in
your presence, for the satisfaction of all parties. Mr H. is at
present out of town; on Friday I shall see him, and request him to
forward it to my address. With regard to the latter part of both
your letters, until the principal point was discussed between us, I
felt myself at a loss in what manner to reply. Was I to anticipate
friendship from one who conceived me to have charged him with
falsehood? were not advances under such circumstances to be
misconstrued, not perhaps by the person to whom they were addressed,
but by others? In my case such a step was impracticable. If you,
who conceived yourself to be the offended person, are satisfied that
you had no cause for offence, it will not be difficult to convince me
of it. My situation, as I have before stated, leaves me no choice.
I should have felt proud of your acquaintance had it commenced under
other circumstances, but it must rest with you to determine how far
it may proceed after so AUSPICIOUS a beginning."

Mr Moore acknowledges that he was somewhat piqued at the manner in
which his efforts towards a more friendly understanding were
received, and hastened to close the correspondence by a short note,
saying that his Lordship had made him feel the imprudence he was
guilty of in wandering from the point immediately in discussion
between them. This drew immediately from Lord Byron the following
frank and openhearted reply:

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

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

The result was a dinner at the house of Mr Rogers, the amiable and
celebrated author of The Pleasures of Memory, and the only guest
besides the two adversaries was Mr Campbell, author of The Pleasures
of Hope: a poetical group of four not easily to be matched, among
contemporaries in any age or country.

The meeting could not but be interesting, and Mr Moore has described
the effect it had on himself with a felicitous warmth, which showed
how much he enjoyed the party, and was pleased with the friendship
that ensued.

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


The Libel in "The Scourge"--The general Impression of his Character--
Improvement in his Manners, as his Merit was acknowledgement by the
Public--His Address in Management--His first Speech in Parliament--
The Publication of "Childe Harold"--Its Reception and Effect

During the first winter after Lord Byron had returned to England, I
was frequently with him. Childe Harold was not then published; and
although the impression of his satire, English Bards and Scotch
Reviewers, was still strong upon the public, he could not well be
said to have been then a celebrated character. At that time the
strongest feeling by which he appeared to be actuated was indignation
against a writer in a scurrilous publication, called The Scourge; in
which he was not only treated with unjustifiable malignity, but
charged with being, as he told me himself, the illegitimate son of a
murderer. I had not read the work; but the writer who could make
such an absurd accusation, must have been strangely ignorant of the
very circumstances from which he derived the materials of his own
libel. When Lord Byron mentioned the subject to me, and that he was
consulting Sir Vickery Gibbs, with the intention of prosecuting the
publisher and the author, I advised him, as well as I could, to
desist, simply because the allegation referred to well-known
occurrences. His grand-uncle's duel with Mr. Chaworth, and the order
of the House of Peers to produce evidence of his grandfather's
marriage with Miss Trevannion; the facts of which being matter of
history and public record, superseded the necessity of any

Knowing how deeply this affair agitated him at that time, I was not
surprised at the sequestration in which he held himself--and which
made those who were not acquainted with his shy and mystical nature,
apply to him the description of his own Lara:

The chief of Lara is return'd again,

And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main?--
Left by his sire too young such loss to know,
Lord of himself; that heritage of woe.
In him, inexplicably mix'd, appear'd
Much to be loved and hated, sought and fear'd,
Opinion varying o'er his hidden lot,
In praise or railing ne'er his name forgot.
His silence form'd a theme for others' prate;
They guess'd, they gazed, they fain would know his fate,
What had he been? what was he, thus unknown,
Who walk'd their world, his lineage only known?
A hater of his kind? yet some would say,
With them he could seem gay amid the gay;
But own'd that smile, if oft observed and near
Waned in its mirth and wither'd to a sneer;
That smile might reach his lip, but pass'd not by;
None e'er could trace its laughter to his eye:
Yet there was softness, too, in his regard,
At times a heart is not by nature hard.
But once perceived, his spirit seem'd to hide
Such weakness as unworthy of its pride,
And stretch'd itself as scorning to redeem
One doubt from others' half-withheld esteem;
In self-inflicted penance of a breast
Which tenderness might once have wrung from rest,
In vigilance of grief that would compel
The soul to hate for having loved too well.
There was in him a vital scorn of all,
As if the worst had fall'n which could befall.
He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
An erring spirit from another hurl'd;
A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped
By choice the perils he by chance escaped.

Such was Byron to common observance on his return. I recollect one
night meeting him at the Opera. Seeing me with a gentleman whom he
did not know, and to whom he was unknown, he addressed me in Italian,
and we continued to converse for some time in that language. My
friend, who in the meanwhile had been observing him with curiosity,
conceiving him to be a foreigner, inquired in the course of the
evening who he was, remarking that he had never seen a man with such
a Cain-like mark on the forehead before, alluding to that singular
scowl which struck me so forcibly when I first saw him, and which
appears to have made a stronger impression upon me than it did upon
many others. I never, in fact, could overcome entirely the prejudice
of the first impression, although I ought to have been gratified by
the friendship and confidence with which he always appeared disposed
to treat me. When Childe Harold was printed, he sent me a quarto
copy before the publication; a favour and distinction I have always
prized; and the copy which he gave me of The Bride of Abydos was one
he had prepared for a new edition, and which contains, in his own
writing, these six lines in no other copy:

Bless'd--as the Muezzin's strain from Mecca's wall
To pilgrims pure and prostrate at his call,
Soft--as the melody of youthful days
That steals the trembling tear of speechless praise,
Sweet--as his native song to exile's ears
Shall sound each tone thy long-loved voice endears.

He had not, it is true, at the period of which I am speaking,
gathered much of his fame; but the gale was rising--and though the
vessel was evidently yielding to the breeze, she was neither crank
nor unsteady. On the contrary, the more he became an object of
public interest, the less did he indulge his capricious humour.
About the time when The Bride of Abydos was published, he appeared
disposed to settle into a consistent character--especially after the
first sale of Newstead. Before that particular event, he was often
so disturbed in his mind, that he could not conceal his unhappiness,
and frequently spoke of leaving England for ever.

Although few men were more under the impulses of passion than Lord
Byron, there was yet a curious kind of management about him which
showed that he was well aware how much of the world's favour was to
be won by it. Long before Childe Harold appeared, it was generally
known that he had a poem in the press, and various surmises to
stimulate curiosity were circulated concerning it: I do not say that
these were by his orders, or under his directions, but on one
occasion I did fancy that I could discern a touch of his own hand in
a paragraph in the Morning Post, in which he was mentioned as having
returned from an excursion into the interior of Africa; and when I
alluded to it, my suspicion was confirmed by his embarrassment.

I mention this incident not in the spirit of detraction; for in the
paragraph there was nothing of puff, though certainly something of
oddity--but as a tint of character, indicative of the appetite for
distinction by which, about this period, he became so powerfully
incited, that at last it grew into a diseased crave, and to such a
degree, that were the figure allowable, it might be said, the mouth
being incapable of supplying adequate means to appease it--every pore
became another mouth greedy of nourishment. I am, however, hastening
on too fast. Lord Byron was, at that time, far indeed from being
ruled by any such inordinate passion; the fears, the timidity, and
bashfulness of young desire still clung to him, and he was throbbing
with doubt if he should be found worthy of the high prize for which
he was about to offer himself a candidate. The course he adopted on
the occasion, whether dictated by management, or the effect of
accident, was, however, well calculated to attract attention to his
debut as a public man.

When Childe Harold was ready for publication, he determined to make
his first appearance as an orator in the House of Lords: the
occasion was judiciously chosen, being a debate on the Nottingham
frame-breaking bill; a subject on which it was natural to suppose he
possessed some local knowledge that might bear upon a question
directed so exclusively against transactions in his own county. He
prepared himself as the best orators do in their first essays, not
only by composing, but writing down, the whole of his speech
beforehand. The reception he met with was flattering; he was
complimented warmly by some of the speakers on his own side; but it
must be confessed that his debut was more showy than promising. It
lacked weight in metal, as was observed at the time, and the mode of
delivery was more like a schoolboy's recital than a masculine grapple
with an argument. It was, moreover, full of rhetorical
exaggerations, and disfigured with conceits. Still it scintillated
with talent, and justified the opinion that he was an extraordinary
young man, probably destined to distinction, though he might not be a

Mr Dallas gives a lively account of his elation on the occasion.
"When he left the great chamber," says that gentleman, "I went and
met him in the passage; he was glowing with success, and much
agitated. I had an umbrella in my right hand, not expecting that he
would put out his hand to me; in my haste to take it when offered, I
had advanced my left hand: 'What!' said he, 'give your friend your
left hand upon such an occasion?' I showed the cause, and
immediately changing the umbrella to the other, I gave him my right
hand, which he shook and pressed warmly. He was greatly elated, and
repeated some of the compliments which had been paid him, and
mentioned one or two of the peers who had desired to be introduced to
him. He concluded by saying, that he had, by his speech, given me
the best advertisement for Childe Harold's Pilgrimage."

It is upon this latter circumstance, that I have ventured to state my
suspicion, that there was a degree of worldly management in making
his first appearance in the House of Lords, so immediately preceding
the publication of his poem. The speech was, indeed, a splendid
advertisement, but the greater and brighter merits of the poem soon
proved that it was not requisite, for the speech made no impression,
but the poem was at once hailed with delight and admiration. It
filled a vacancy in the public mind, which the excitement and
inflation arising from the mighty events of the age, had created.
The world, in its condition and circumstances, was prepared to
receive a work, so original, vigorous, and beautiful; and the
reception was such that there was no undue extravagance in the noble
author saying in his memorandum, "I awoke one morning and found
myself famous."

But he was not to be allowed to revel in such triumphant success with
impunity. If the great spirits of the time were smitten with
astonishment at the splendour of the rising fire, the imps and elves
of malignity and malice fluttered their bat-wings in all directions.
Those whom the poet had afflicted in his satire, and who had remained
quietly crouching with lacerated shoulders in the hope that their
flagellation would be forgotten, and that the avenging demon who had
so punished their imbecility would pass away, were terrified from
their obscurity. They came like moths to the candle, and sarcasms in
the satire which had long been unheeded, in the belief that they
would soon be forgotten, were felt to have been barbed with
irremediable venom, when they beheld the avenger

Towering in his pride of place.


Sketches of Character--His Friendly Dispositions--Introduce Prince K-
-to him--Our last Interview--His continued Kindness towards me--
Instance of it to one of my Friends.

For some time after the publication of Childe Harold, the noble
author appeared to more advantage than I ever afterwards saw him. He
was soothed by success; and the universal applause which attended his
poem seemed to make him think more kindly of the world, of which he
has too often complained, while it would be difficult to discover, in
his career and fortunes, that he had ever received any cause from it
to justify his complaint.

At no time, I imagine, could it be said that Lord Byron was one of
those men who interest themselves in the concerns of others. He had
always too much to do with his own thoughts about himself, to afford
time for the consideration of aught that was lower in his affections.
But still he had many amiable fits, and at the particular period to
which I allude, he evinced a constancy in the disposition to oblige,
which proved how little self-control was wanting to have made him as
pleasant as he was uniformly interesting. I felt this towards myself
in a matter which had certainly the grace of condescension in it, at
the expense of some trouble to him. I then lived at the corner of
Bridge Street, Westminster, and in going to the House of Lords he
frequently stopped to inquire if I wanted a frank. His conversation,
at the same time, was of a milder vein, and with the single exception
of one day, while dining together at the St Alban's, it was light and
playful, as if gaiety had become its habitude.

Perhaps I regarded him too curiously, and more than once it struck me
that he thought so. For at times, when he was in his comfortless
moods, he has talked of his affairs and perplexities as if I had been
much more acquainted with them than I had any opportunity of being.
But he was a subject for study, such as is rarely met with--at least,
he was so to me; for his weaknesses were as interesting as his
talents, and he often indulged in expressions which would have been
blemishes in the reflections of other men, but which in him often
proved the germs of philosophical imaginings. He was the least
qualified for any sort of business of all men I have ever known; so
skinless in sensibility as respected himself, and so distrustful in
his universal apprehensions of human nature, as respected others. It
was, indeed, a wild, though a beautiful, error of nature, to endow a
spirit with such discerning faculties, and yet render it unfit to
deal with mankind. But these reflections belong more properly to a
general estimate of his character, than to the immediate purpose
before me, which was principally to describe the happy effects which
the splendid reception of Childe Harold had on his feelings; effects
which, however, did not last long. He was gratified to the fullness
of his hopes; but the adulation was enjoyed to excess, and his
infirmities were aggravated by the surfeit. I did not, however, see
the progress of the change, as in the course of the summer I went to
Scotland, and soon after again abroad. But on my return, in the
following spring, it was very obvious.

I found him, in one respect, greatly improved; there was more of a
formed character about him; he was evidently, at the first glance,
more mannered, or endeavouring to be so, and easier with the
proprieties of his rank; but he had risen in his own estimation above
the honours so willingly paid to his genius, and was again longing
for additional renown. Not content with being acknowledged as the
first poet of the age, and a respectable orator in the House of
Lords, he was aspiring to the eclat of a man of gallantry; so that
many of the most ungracious peculiarities of his temper, though
brought under better discipline, were again in full activity.

Considering how much he was then caressed, I ought to have been proud
of the warmth with which he received me. I did not, however, so
often see him as in the previous year; for I was then on the eve of
my marriage, and I should not so soon, after my return to London,
have probably renewed my visits, but a foreign nobleman of the
highest rank, who had done me the honour to treat me as a friend,
came at that juncture to this country, and knowing I had been
acquainted with Lord Byron, he requested me to introduce him to his
Lordship. This rendered a visit preliminary to the introduction
necessary; and so long as my distinguished friend remained in town,
we again often met. But after he left the country my visits became
few and far between; owing to nothing but that change in a man's
pursuits and associates which is one among some of the evils of
matrimony. It is somewhat remarkable, that of the last visit I ever
paid him, he has made rather a particular memorandum. I remember
well, that it was in many respects an occasion not to be at once
forgotten; for, among other things, after lighter topics, he
explained to me a variety of tribulations in his affairs, and I urged
him, in consequence, to marry, with the frankness which his
confidence encouraged; subjoining certain items of other good advice
concerning a liaison which he was supposed to have formed, and which
Mr Moore does not appear to have known, though it was much talked of
at the time.

During that visit the youthful peculiarities of his temper and
character showed all their original blemish. But, as usual, when
such was the case, he was often more interesting than when in his
discreeter moods. He gave me the copy of The Bride of Abydos, with a
very kind inscription on it, which I have already mentioned; but
still there was an impression on my mind that led me to believe he
could not have been very well pleased with some parts of my
counselling. This, however, appears not to have been the case; on
the contrary, the tone of his record breathes something of kindness;
and long after I received different reasons to believe his
recollection of me was warm and friendly.

When he had retired to Genoa, I gave a gentleman a letter to him,
partly that I might hear something of his real way of life, and
partly in the hope of gratifying my friend by the sight of one of
whom he had heard so much. The reception from his Lordship was
flattering to me; and, as the account of it contains what I think a
characteristic picture, the reader will, I doubt not, be pleased to
see so much of it as may be made public without violating the decorum
which should always be observed in describing the incidents of
private intercourse, when the consent of all parties cannot be
obtained to the publication.

Edinburgh, June 3, 1830.

"DEAR GALT,--Though I shall always retain a lively general
recollection of my agreeable interview with Lord Byron, at Genoa, in
May, 1823, so long a time has since elapsed that much of the aroma of
the pleasure has evaporated, and I can but recall generalities. At
that time there was an impression in Genoa that he was averse to
receive visits from Englishmen, and I was indeed advised not to think
of calling on him, as I might run the risk of meeting with a savage
reception. However, I resolved to send your note, and to the
surprise of every one the messenger brought a most polite answer, in
which, after expressing the satisfaction of hearing of his old friend
and fellow-traveller, he added that he would do himself the honour of
calling on me the next day, which he accordingly did; but owing to
the officious blundering of an Italian waiter, who mentioned I was at
dinner, his Lordship sent up his card with his compliments that he
would not deranger the party. I was determined, however, that he
should not escape me in this way, and drove out to his residence next
morning, when, upon his English valet taking up my name, I was
immediately admitted.

"As every one forms a picture to himself of remarkable characters, I
had depicted his Lordship in my mind as a tall, sombre, Childe Harold
personage, tinctured somewhat with aristocratic hauteur. You may
therefore guess my surprise when the door opened, and I saw leaning
upon the lock, a light animated figure, rather petite than otherwise,
dressed in a nankeen hussar-braided jacket, trousers of the same
material, with a white waistcoat; his countenance pale but the
complexion clear and healthful, with the hair coming down in little
curls on each side of his fine forehead.

"He came towards me with an easy cheerfulness of manner, and after
some preliminary inquiries concerning yourself, we entered into a
conversation which lasted two hours, in the course of which I felt
myself perfectly at ease, from his Lordship's natural and simple
manners; indeed, so much so, that, forgetting all my anticipations, I
found myself conversing with him with as fluent an intercourse of
mind as I ever experienced, even with yourself.

"It is impossible for me at present to overtake a detail of what
passed, but as it produced a kind of scene, I may mention one

"Having remarked that in a long course of desultory reading, I had
read most of what had been said by English travellers concerning
Italy; yet, on coming to it I found there was no country of which I
had less accurate notions: that among other things I was much struck
with the harshness of the language. He seemed to jerk at this, and
immediately observed, that perhaps in going rapidly through the
country, I might not have had many opportunities of hearing it
politely spoken. 'Now,' said he, 'there are supposed to be nineteen
dialects of the Italian language, and I shall let you hear a lady
speak the principal of them, who is considered to do it very well.'
I pricked up my ears at hearing this, as I considered it would afford
me an opportunity of seeing the far-famed Countess Guiccioli. His
Lordship immediately rose and left the apartment, returning in the
course of a minute or two leading in the lady, and while arranging
chairs for the trio, he said to me, 'I shall make her speak each of
the principal dialects, but you are not to mind how I pronounce, for
I do not speak Italian well.' After the scene had been performed he
resumed to me, 'Now what do you think?' To which I answered, that my
opinion still remained unaltered. He seemed at this to fall into a
little revery, and then said, abruptly, 'Why 'tis very odd, Moore
thought the same.' 'Does your Lordship mean Tom Moore?' 'Yes.'
'Ah, then, my Lord, I shall adhere with more pertinacity to my
opinion, when I hear that a man of his exquisite taste in poetry and
harmony was also of that opinion.'

"You will be asking what I thought of the lady; I had certainly heard
much of her high personal attractions, but all I can say is, that in
my eyes her graces did not rank above mediocrity. They were youth,
plumpness, and good-nature."


A Miff with Lord Byron--Remarkable Coincidences--Plagiarisms of his

There is a curious note in the memoranda which Lord Byron kept in the
year 1813, that I should not pass unnoticed, because it refers to
myself, and moreover is characteristic of the excoriated sensibility
with which his Lordship felt everything that touched or affected him
or his.

When I had read The Bride of Abydos, I wrote to him my opinion of it,
and mentioned that there was a remarkable coincidence in the story,
with a matter in which I had been interested. I have no copy of the
letter, and I forget the expressions employed, but Lord Byron seemed
to think they implied that he had taken the story from something of

The note is:

"Galt says there is a coincidence between the first part of The Bride
and some story of his, whether published or not, I know not, never
having seen it. He is almost the last person on whom any one would
commit literary larceny, and I am not conscious of any witting thefts
on any of the genus. As to originality, all pretensions are
ludicrous; there is nothing new under the sun."

It is sufficiently clear that he was offended with what I had said,
and was somewhat excited. I have not been able at present to find
his answer to my letter, but it would appear by the subjoined that he
had written to me something which led me to imagine he was offended
at my observations, and that I had in consequence deprecated his

"Dec. 11, 1813.

"MY DEAR GALT,--There was no offence--there COULD be none. I thought
it by no means impossible that we might have hit on something
similar, particularly as you are a dramatist, and was anxious to
assure you of the truth, viz. that I had not wittingly seized upon
plot, sentiment, or incident; and I am very glad that I have not in
any respect trenched upon your subjects. Something still more
singular is, that the FIRST part, where you have found a coincidence
in some events within your observations on LIFE, was DRAWN from
OBSERVATION of mine also, and I meant to have gone on with the story,
but on SECOND thoughts, I thought myself TWO CENTURIES at least too
late for the subject; which, though admitting of very powerful
feeling and description, yet is not adapted for this age, at least
this country. Though the finest works of the Greeks, one of
Schiller's and Alfieri's, in modern times, besides several of our OLD
(and best) dramatists, have been grounded on incidents of a similar
cast, I therefore altered it as you perceive, and in so doing have
weakened the whole, by interrupting the train of thought; and in
composition I do not think SECOND thoughts are the best, though
SECOND expressions may improve the first ideas.

"I do not know how other men feel towards those they have met abroad,
but to me there seems a kind of tie established between all who have
met together in a foreign country, as if we had met in a state of
pre-existence, and were talking over a life that has ceased; but I
always look forward to renewing my travels; and though YOU, I think,
are now stationary, if I can at all forward your pursuits THERE as
well as here, I shall be truly glad in the opportunity. Ever yours
very sincerely,


"P.S. I believe I leave town for a day or two on Monday, but after
that I am always at home, and happy to see you till half-past two."

This letter was dated on Saturday, the 11th of December, 1813. On
Sunday, the 12th, he made the following other note in his memorandum

"By Galt's answer, I find it is some story in REAL life, and not any
work with which my late composition coincides. It is still more
singular, for mine is drawn from EXISTENCE also."

The most amusing part of this little fracas is the denial of his
Lordship, as to pilfering the thoughts and fancies of others; for it
so happens, that the first passage of The Bride of Abydos, the poem
in question, is almost a literal and unacknowledged translation from
Goethe, which was pointed out in some of the periodicals soon after
the work was published.

Then, as to his not thieving from me or mine, I believe the fact to
be as he has stated; but there are singular circumstances connected
with some of his other productions, of which the account is at least

On leaving England I began to write a poem in the Spenserian measure.
It was called The Unknown, and was intended to describe, in narrating
the voyages and adventures of a pilgrim, who had embarked for the
Holy Land, the scenes I expected to visit. I was occasionally
engaged in this composition during the passage with Lord Byron from
Gibraltar to Malta, and he knew what I was about. In stating this, I
beg to be distinctly understood, as in no way whatever intending to
insinuate that this work had any influence on the composition of
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, which Lord Byron began to write in
Albania; but it must be considered as something extraordinary, that
the two works should have been so similar in plan, and in the
structure of the verse. His Lordship never saw my attempt that I
know of, nor did I his poem until it was printed. It is needless to
add, that beyond the plan and verse there was no other similarity
between the two works; I wish there had been.

His Lordship has published a poem, called The Curse of Minerva, the
subject of which is the vengeance of the goddess on Lord Elgin for
the rape of the Parthenon. It has so happened that I wrote at Athens
a burlesque poem on nearly the same subject (mine relates to the
vengeance of all the gods) which I called The Atheniad; the
manuscript was sent to his Lordship in Asia Minor, and returned to me
through Mr Hobhouse. His Curse of Minerva, I saw for the first time
in 1828, in Galignani's edition of his works.

In The Giaour, which he published a short time before The Bride of
Abydos, he has this passage, descriptive of the anxiety with which
the mother of Hassan looks out for the arrival of her son:

The browsing camels' bells are tinkling--
His mother look'd from her lattice high;
She saw the dews of eve besprinkling
The parterre green beneath her eye:
She saw the planets faintly twinkling--
'Tis twilight--sure his train is nigh.
She could not rest in the garden bower,
But gazed through the grate of his steepest tower:
Why comes he not--and his steeds are fleet--
Nor shrink they from the summer heat?
Why sends not the bridegroom his promised gift;
Is his heart more cold or his barb less swift?

His Lordship was well read in the Bible, and the book of Judges,
chap. 5, and verse 28, has the following passage:--

"The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the
lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming; why tarry the wheels
of his chariot?"

It was, indeed, an early trick of his Lordship to filch good things.
In the lamentation for Kirke White, in which he compares him to an
eagle wounded by an arrow feathered from his own wing, he says,

So the struck eagle, stretch'd upon the plain,
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
View'd his own feather on the fatal dart
And winged the shaft that quivered in his heart.

The ancients have certainly stolen the best ideas of the moderns;
this very thought may be found in the works of that ancient-modern,

That eagle's fate and mine are one,
Which on the shaft that made him die,
Espied a feather of his own
Wherewith he wont to soar on high.

His Lordship disdained to commit any larceny on me; and no doubt the
following passage from The Giaour is perfectly original:

It is as if the dead could feel
The icy worm around them steal;
And shudder as the reptiles creep
To revel o'er their rotting sleep,
Without the power to scare away
The cold consumers of their clay.

I do not claim any paternity in these lines: but not the most
judicious action of all my youth was to publish certain dramatic
sketches, and his Lordship had the printed book in his possession
long before The Giaour was published, and may have read the following
passage in a dream, which was intended to be very hideous:

Then did I hear around
The churme and chirruping of busy reptiles
At hideous banquet on the royal dead:--
Full soon methought the loathsome epicures
Came thick on me, and underneath my shroud
I felt the many-foot and beetle creep,
And on my breast the cold worm coil and crawl.

However, I have said quite enough on this subject, both as respects
myself and his seeming plagiarisms, which might be multiplied to
legions. Such occasional accidental imitations are not things of
much importance. All poets, and authors in general, avail themselves
of their reading and knowledge to enhance the interest of their
works. It can only be considered as one of Lord Byron's spurts of
spleen, that he felt so much about a "coincidence," which ought not
to have disturbed him; but it may be thought by the notice taken of
it, that it disturbs myself more than it really does; and that it
would have been enough to have merely said--Perhaps, when some friend
is hereafter doing as indulgently for me, the same kind of task that
I have undertaken for Byron, there may be found among my memoranda
notes as little flattering to his Lordship, as those in his
concerning me. I hope, however, that friend will have more respect
for my memory than to imitate the taste of Mr Moore.


Lord Byron in 1813--The Lady's Tragedy--Miss Milbanke--Growing
Uneasiness of Lord Byron's Mind--The Friar's Ghost--The Marriage--A
Member of the Drury Lane Committee--Embarrassed Affairs--The

The year 1813 was perhaps the period of all Lord Byron's life in
which he was seen to most advantage. The fame of Childe Harold was
then in its brightest noon; and in that year he produced The Giaour
and The Bride of Abydos--compositions not only of equal power, but
even tinted with superior beauties. He was himself soothed by the
full enjoyment of his political rank and station; and though his
manners and character had not exactly answered to the stern and
stately imaginations which had been formed of his dispositions and
appearance, still he was acknowledged to be no common man, and his
company in consequence was eagerly courted.

It forms no part of the plan of this work to repeat the gossip and
tattle of private society, but occurrences happened to Lord Byron
which engaged both, and some of them cannot well be passed over
unnoticed. One of these took place during the spring of this year,
and having been a subject of newspaper remark, it may with less
impropriety be mentioned than others which were more indecorously
made the topics of general discussion. The incident alluded to was
an extravagant scene enacted by a lady of high rank, at a rout given
by Lady Heathcote; in which, in revenge, as it was reported, for
having been rejected by Lord Byron, she made a suicidal attempt with
an instrument, which scarcely penetrated, if it could even inflict
any permanent mark on, the skin.

The insane attachment of this eccentric lady to his Lordship was well
known; insane is the only epithet that can be applied to the actions
of a married woman, who, in the disguise of her page, flung herself
to a man, who, as she told a friend of mine, was ashamed to be in
love with her because she was not beautiful--an expression at once
curious and just, evincing a shrewd perception of the springs of his
Lordship's conduct, and the acuteness blended with frenzy and talent
which distinguished herself. Lord Byron unquestionably at that time
cared little for her. In showing me her picture, some two or three
days after the affair, and laughing at the absurdity of it, he
bestowed on her the endearing diminutive of vixen, with a hard-
hearted adjective that I judiciously omit.

The immediate cause of this tragical flourish was never very well
understood; but in the course of the evening she had made several
attempts to fasten on his Lordship, and was shunned: certain it is,
she had not, like Burke in the House of Commons, premeditatedly
brought a dagger in her reticule, on purpose for the scene; but,
seeing herself an object of scorn, she seized the first weapon she
could find--some said a pair of scissors--others, more scandalously,
broken jelly-glass, and attempted an incision of the jugular, to the
consternation of all the dowagers, and the pathetic admiration of
every Miss who witnessed or heard of the rapture.

Lord Byron at the time was in another room, talking with Prince K--,
when Lord P-- came, with a face full of consternation, and told them
what had happened. The cruel poet, instead of being agitated by the
tidings, or standing in the smallest degree in need of a smelling-
bottle, knitted his scowl, and said, with a contemptuous
indifference, "It is only a trick." All things considered, he was
perhaps not uncharitable; and a man of less vanity would have felt
pretty much as his Lordship appeared to do on the occasion. The
whole affair was eminently ridiculous; and what increased the
absurdity was a letter she addressed to a friend of mine on the
subject, and which he thought too good to be reserved only for his
own particular study.

It was in this year that Lord Byron first proposed for Miss Milbanke;
having been urged by several of his friends to marry, that lady was
specially recommended to him for a wife. It has been alleged, that
he deeply resented her rejection of his proposal; and I doubt not, in
the first instance, his vanity may have been a little piqued; but as
he cherished no very animated attachment to her, and moreover, as she
enjoyed no celebrity in public opinion to make the rejection
important, the resentment was not, I am persuaded, either of an
intense or vindictive kind. On the contrary, he has borne testimony
to the respect in which he held her character and accomplishments;
and an incidental remark in his journal, "I shall be in love with her
again, if I don't take care," is proof enough that his anger was not
of a very fierce or long-lived kind.

The account ascribed to him of his introduction to Miss Milbanke, and
the history of their attachment, ought not to be omitted, because it
serves to illustrate, in some degree, the state of his feelings
towards her, and is so probable, that I doubt not it is in the main

"The first time of my seeing Miss Milbanke was at Lady ***'s. It was
a fatal day; and I remember, that in going upstairs I stumbled, and
remarked to Moore, who accompanied me, that it was a bad omen. I
ought to have taken the warning. On entering the room, I observed a
young lady more simply dressed than the rest of the assembly sitting
alone upon a sofa. I took her for a female companion, and asked if I
was right in my conjecture. 'She is a great heiress,' said he, in a
whisper, that became lower as he proceeded, 'you had better marry
her, and repair the old place, Newstead.'

"There was something piquant, and what we term pretty, in Miss
Milbanke. Her features were small and feminine, though not regular.
She had the fairest skin imaginable. Her figure was perfect for her
height, and there was a simplicity, a retired modesty about her,
which was very characteristic, and formed a happy contrast to the
cold artificial formality and studied stiffness which is called
fashion. She interested me exceedingly. I became daily more
attached to her, and it ended in my making her a proposal, that was
rejected. Her refusal was couched in terms which could not offend
me. I was, besides, persuaded, that in declining my offer, she was
governed by the influence of her mother; and was the more confirmed
in my opinion, by her reviving our correspondence herself twelve
months after. The tenour of her letter was, that, although she could
not love me, she desired my friendship. Friendship is a dangerous
word for young ladies; it is love full-fledged, and waiting for a
fine day to fly."

But Lord Byron possessed this sort of irrepressible predilections--
was so much the agent of impulses, that he could not keep long in
unison with the world, or in harmony with his friends. Without
malice, or the instigation of any ill spirit, he was continually
provoking malignity and revenge. His verses on the Princess
Charlotte weeping, and his other merciless satire on her father,
begot him no friends, and armed the hatred of his enemies. There
was, indeed, something like ingratitude in the attack on the Regent,
for his Royal Highness had been particularly civil; had intimated a
wish to have him introduced to him; and Byron, fond of the
distinction, spoke of it with a sense of gratification. These
instances, as well as others, of gratuitous spleen, only justified
the misrepresentations which had been insinuated against himself, and
what was humour in his nature, was ascribed to vice in his

Before the year was at an end, his popularity was evidently beginning
to wane: of this he was conscious himself, and braved the frequent
attacks on his character and genius with an affectation of
indifference, under which those who had at all observed the singular
associations of his recollections and ideas, must have discerned the
symptoms of a strange disease. He was tainted with a Herodian malady
of the mind: his thoughts were often hateful to himself; but there
was an ecstasy in the conception, as if delight could be mingled with
horror. I think, however, he struggled to master the fatality, and
that his resolution to marry was dictated by an honourable desire to
give hostages to society, against the wild wilfulness of his

It is a curious and a mystical fact, that at the period to which I am
alluding, and a very short time, only a little month, before he

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