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The Life of Lord Byron by John Galt

Part 4 out of 6

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successfully solicited the hand of Miss Milbanke, being at Newstead,
he fancied that he saw the ghost of the monk which is supposed to
haunt the abbey, and to make its ominous appearance when misfortune
or death impends over the master of the mansion.--The story of the
apparition in the sixteenth canto of Don Juan is derived from this
family legend, and Norman Abbey, in the thirteenth of the same poem,
is a rich and elaborate description of Newstead.

After his proposal to Miss Milbanke had been accepted, a considerable
time, nearly three months, elapsed before the marriage was completed,
in consequence of the embarrassed condition in which, when the
necessary settlements were to be made, he found his affairs. This
state of things, with the previous unhappy controversy with himself,
and anger at the world, was ill-calculated to gladden his nuptials:
but, besides these real evils, his mind was awed with gloomy
presentiments, a shadow of some advancing misfortune darkened his
spirit, and the ceremony was performed with sacrificial feelings, and
those dark and chilling circumstances, which he has so touchingly
described in The Dream:--

I saw him stand
Before an altar with a gentle bride;
Her face was fair, but was not that which made
The starlight of his boyhood:--as he stood
Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came
The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock
That in the antique oratory shook
His bosom in its solitude; and then--
As in that hour--a moment o'er his face
The tablet of unutterable thoughts
Was traced--and then it faded as it came,
And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke
The faltering vows, but heard not his own words,
And all things reeled around him: he could see
Not that which was, nor that which should have been--
But the old mansion and the accustom'd hall,
And the remembered chambers, and the place,
The day, the hour, the sunshine and the shade,
All things pertaining to that place and hour.
And her, who was his destiny, came back,
And thrust themselves between him and the light.

This is very affectingly described; and his prose description bears
testimony to its correctness. "It had been predicted by Mrs Williams
that twenty-seven was to be a dangerous age for me. The fortune-
telling witch was right; it was destined to prove so. I shall never
forget the 2nd of January, 1815, Lady Byron was the only unconcerned
person present; Lady Noel, her mother, cried; I trembled like a leaf,
made the wrong responses, and after the ceremony called her Miss

"There is a singular history attached to the ring. The very day the
match was concluded a ring of my mother's, that had been lost, was
dug up by the gardener at Newstead. I thought it was sent on purpose
for the wedding; but my mother's marriage had not been a fortunate
one, and this ring was doomed to be the seal of an unhappier union

"After the ordeal was over, we set off for a country-scat of Sir
Ralph's (Lady B.'s father), and I was surprised at the arrangements
for the journey, and somewhat out of humour, to find the lady's maid
stuck between me and my bride. It was rather too early to assume the
husband; so I was forced to submit, but it was not with a very good
grace. I have been accused of saying, on getting into the carriage,
that I had married Lady Byron out of spite, and because she had
refused me twice. Though I was for a moment vexed at her prudery, or
whatever you may choose to call it, if I had made so uncavalier, not
to say brutal, a speech, I am convinced Lady Byron would instantly
have left the carriage to me and the maid. She had spirit enough to
have done so, and would properly have resented the affront. Our
honeymoon was not all sunshine; it had its clouds.

"I was not so young when my father died, but that I perfectly
remember him, and had a very early horror of matrimony from the sight
of domestic broils: this feeling came over me very strongly at my
wedding. Something whispered me that I was sealing my own death-
warrant. I am a great believer in presentiments: Socrates's demon
was not a fiction; Monk Lewis had his monitor, and Napoleon many
warnings. At the last moment I would have retreated, could I have
done so; I called to mind a friend of mine, who had married a young,
beautiful, and rich girl, and yet was miserable; he had strongly
urged me against putting my neck in the same yoke."

For some time after the marriage things went on in the usual
matrimonial routine, until he was chosen into the managing committee
of Drury Lane; an office in which, had he possessed the slightest
degree of talent for business, he might have done much good. It was
justly expected that the illiterate presumption which had so long
deterred poetical genius from approaching the stage, would have
shrunk abashed from before him; but he either felt not the importance
of the duty he had been called to perform, or, what is more probable,
yielding to the allurements of the moment, forgot that duty, in the
amusement which he derived from the talents and peculiarities of the
players. No situation could be more unfit for a man of his
temperament, than one which exposed him to form intimacies with
persons whose profession, almost necessarily, leads them to
undervalue the domestic virtues.

It is said, that the course of life into which he was drawn after he
joined the managing committee of Drury Lane was not in unison with
the methodical habits of Lady Byron. But independently of outdoor
causes of connubial discontent and incompatibility of temper, their
domestic affairs were falling into confusion.

"My income at this period," says Lord Byron, "was small, and somewhat
bespoken. We had a house in town, gave dinner-parties, had separate
carriages, and launched into every sort of extravagance. This could
not last long; my wife's ten thousand pounds soon melted away. I was
beset by duns, and at length an execution was levied, and the
bailiffs put in possession of the very beds we had to sleep on. This
was no very agreeable state of affairs, no very pleasant scene for
Lady Byron to witness; and it was agreed she should pay her father a
visit till the storm had blown over, and some arrangement had been
made with my creditors." From this visit her Ladyship never
returned; a separation took place; but too much has been said to the
world respecting it, and I have no taste for the subject. Whatever
was the immediate cause, the event itself was not of so rare a kind
as to deserve that the attention of the public should be indelicately
courted to it.

Beyond all question, however, Lord Byron's notions of connubial
obligations were rather philosophical. "There are," said he to
Captain Parry, "so many undefinable and nameless, and not to be
named, causes of dislike, aversion, and disgust in the matrimonial
state, that it is always impossible for the public, or the friends of
the parties, to judge between man and wife. Theirs is a relation
about which nobody but themselves can form a correct idea, or have
any right to speak. As long as neither party commits gross injustice
towards the other; as long as neither the woman nor the man is guilty
of any offence which is injurious to the community; as long as the
husband provides for his offspring, and secures the public against
the dangers arising from their neglected education, or from the
charge of supporting them; by what right does it censure him for
ceasing to dwell under the same roof with a woman, who is to him,
because he knows her, while others do not, an object of loathing?
Can anything be more monstrous, than for the public voice to compel
individuals who dislike each other to continue their cohabitation?
This is at least the effect of its interfering with a relationship,
of which it has no possible means of judging. It does not indeed
drag a man to a woman's bed by physical force, but it does exert a
moral force continually and effectively to accomplish the same
purpose. Nobody can escape this force, but those who are too high or
those who are too low for public opinion to reach; or those
hypocrites who are, before others, the loudest in their approbation
of the empty and unmeaning forms of society, that they may securely
indulge all their propensities in secret."

In the course of the conversation, in which he is represented to have
stated these opinions, he added what I have pleasure in quoting,
because the sentiments are generous in respect to his wife, and
strikingly characteristic of himself:--

"Lady Byron has a liberal mind, particularly as to religious
opinions: and I wish when I married her that I had possessed the
same command over myself that I now do. Had I possessed a little
more wisdom and more forbearance, we might have been happy. I
wished, when I was just married to have remained in the country,
particularly till my pecuniary embarrassments were over. I knew the
society of London; I knew the characters of many who are called
ladies, with whom Lady Byron would necessarily have to associate, and
I dreaded her contact with them. But I have too much of my mother
about me to be dictated to; I like freedom from constraint; I hate
artificial regulations: my conduct has always been dictated by my
own feelings, and Lady Byron was quite the creature of rules. She
was not permitted either to ride, or run, or walk, but as the
physician prescribed. She was not suffered to go out when I wished
to go: and then the old house was a mere ghost-house, I dreamed of
ghosts and thought of them waking. It was an existence I could not
support." Here Lord Byron broke off abruptly, saying, "I hate to
speak of my family affairs, though I have been compelled to talk
nonsense concerning them to some of my butterfly visitors, glad on
any terms to get rid of their importunities. I long to be again on
the mountains. I am fond of solitude, and should never talk
nonsense, if I always found plain men to talk to."


Reflections on his domestic Verses--Consideration of his Works--"The
Corsair"--Probabilities of the Character and Incidents of the Story--
On the Difference between poetical Invention and moral Experience:
illustrated by the Difference between the Genius of Shakespeare and
that of Byron

The task just concluded may disappoint the expectations of some of my
readers, but I would rather have said less than so much, could so
little have been allowed; for I have never been able to reconcile to
my notions of propriety, the exposure of domestic concerns which the
world has no right claim to know, and can only urge the plea of
curiosity for desiring to see explained. The scope of my undertaking
comprehends only the public and intellectual character of Lord Byron;
every word that I have found it necessary to say respecting his
private affairs has been set down with reluctance; nor should I have
touched so freely on his failings, but that the consequences have
deeply influenced his poetical conceptions.

There is, however, one point connected with his conjugal differences
which cannot be overlooked, nor noticed without animadversion. He
was too active himself in bespeaking the public sympathy against his
lady. It is true that but for that error the world might never have
seen the verses written by him on the occasion; and perhaps it was
the friends who were about him at the time who ought chiefly to be
blamed for having given them circulation: but in saying this, I am
departing from the rule I had prescribed to myself, while I ought
only to have remarked that the compositions alluded to, both the
Fare-thee-well and the Anathema on Mrs Charlemont, are splendid
corroborations of the metaphysical fact which it is the main object
of this work to illustrate, namely, that Byron was only original and
truly great when he wrote from the dictates of his own breast, and
described from the suggestions of things he had seen. When his
imagination found not in his subject uses for the materials of his
experience, and opportunities to embody them, it seemed to be no
longer the same high and mysterious faculty that so ruled the tides
of the feelings of others. He then appeared a more ordinary poet----
a skilful verse-maker. The necromancy which held the reader
spellbound became ineffectual; and the charm and the glory which
interested so intensely, and shone so radiantly on his configurations
from realities, all failed and faded; for his genius dealt not with
airy fancies, but had its power and dominion amid the living and the
local of the actual world.

I shall now return to the consideration of his works, and the first
in order is The Corsair, published in 1814. He seems to have been
perfectly sensible that this beautiful composition was in his best
peculiar manner. It is indeed a pirate's isle, peopled with his own

It has been alleged that Lord Byron was indebted to Sir Walter
Scott's poem of Rokeby for the leading incidents of The Corsair, but
the resemblance is not to me very obvious: besides, the whole style
of the poem is so strikingly in his own manner, that even had he
borrowed the plan, it was only as a thread to string his own original
conceptions upon; the beauty and brilliancy of them could not be
borrowed, and are not imitations.

There were two islands in the Archipelago, when Lord Byron was in
Greece, considered as the chief haunts of the pirates, Stampalia, and
a long narrow island between Cape Colonna and Zea. Jura also was a
little tainted in its reputation. I think, however, from the
description, that the pirate's isle of The Corsair is the island off
Cape Colonna. It is a rude, rocky mass. I know not to what
particular Coron, if there be more than one, the poet alludes; for
the Coron of the Morea is neighbour to, if not in, the Mainote
territory, a tract of country which never submitted to the Turks, and
was exempted from the jurisdiction of Mussulman officers by the
payment of an annual tribute. The Mainotes themselves are all
pirates and robbers. If it be in that Coron that Byron has placed
Seyd the pasha, it must be attributed to inadvertency. His Lordship
was never there, nor in any part of Maina; nor does he describe the
place, a circumstance which of itself goes far to prove the
inadvertency. It is, however, only in making it the seat of a
Turkish pasha that any error has been committed. In working out the
incidents of the poem where descriptions of scenery are given, they
relate chiefly to Athens and its neighbourhood. In themselves these
descriptions are executed with an exquisite felicity; but they are
brought in without any obvious reason wherefore. In fact, they
appear to have been written independently of the poem, and are
patched on "shreds of purple" which could have been spared.

The character of Conrad the Corsair may be described as a combination
of the warrior of Albania and a naval officer--Childe Harold mingled
with the hero of The Giaour.

A man of loneliness and mystery,
Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh;
Robust, but not Herculean, to the sight,
No giant frame sets forth his common height;
Yet in the whole, who paused to look again
Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men:
They gaze and marvel how, and still confess
That thus it is, but why they cannot guess.
Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale,
The sable curls in wild profusion veil.
And oft perforce his rising lip reveals
The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce conceals:
Though smooth his voice, and calm his general mien,
Still seems there something he would not have seen.
His features' deepening lines and varying hue
At times attracted, yet perplex'd the view,
As if within that murkiness of mind
Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined:
Such might he be that none could truly tell,
Too close inquiry his stern glance could quell.
There breathed but few whose aspect could defy
The full encounter of his searching eye;
He had the skill, when cunning gaze to seek
To probe his heart and watch his changing cheek,
At once the observer's purpose to espy,
And on himself roll back his scrutiny,
Lest he to Conrad rather should betray
Some secret thought, than drag that chief's to day.

There was a laughing devil in his sneer
That raised emotions both of rage and fear;
And where his frown of hatred darkly fell
Hope withering fled, and mercy sigh'd, farewell.

It will be allowed that, in this portrait, some of the darker
features and harsher lineaments of Byron himself are very evident,
but with a more fixed sternness than belonged to him; for it was only
by fits that he could put on such severity. Conrad is, however, a
higher creation than any which he had previously described. Instead
of the listlessness of Childe Harold, he is active and enterprising;
such as the noble pilgrim would have been, but for the satiety which
had relaxed his energies. There is also about him a solemnity
different from the animation of the Giaour--a penitential despair
arising from a cause undisclosed. The Giaour, though wounded and
fettered, and laid in a dungeon, would not have felt as Conrad is
supposed to feel in that situation. The following bold and terrific
verses, descriptive of the maelstrom agitations of remorse, could not
have been appropriately applied to the despair of grief, the
predominant source of emotion in The Giaour.

There is a war, a chaos of the mind
When all its elements convulsed combined,
Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force,
And gnashing with impenitent remorse.
That juggling fiend who never spake before,
But cries, "I warn'd thee," when the deed is o'er;
Vain voice, the spirit burning, but unbent,
May writhe, rebel--the weak alone repent.

The character of Conrad is undoubtedly finely imagined; as the
painters would say, it is in the highest style of art, and brought
out with sublime effect; but still it is only another phase of the
same portentous meteor, that was nebulous in Childe Harold, and fiery
in The Giaour. To the safe and shop-resorting inhabitants of
Christendom, The Corsair seems to present many improbabilities;
nevertheless, it is true to nature, and in every part of the Levant
the traveller meets with individuals whose air and physiognomy remind
him of Conrad. The incidents of the story, also, so wild and
extravagant to the snug and legal notions of England, are not more in
keeping with the character, than they are in accordance with fact and
reality. The poet suffers immeasurable injustice, when it is
attempted to determine the probability of the wild scenes and wilder
adventurers of his tales, by the circumstances and characters of the
law-regulated system of our diurnal affairs. Probability is a
standard formed by experience, and it is not surprising that the
anchorets of libraries should object to the improbability of The
Corsair, and yet acknowledge the poetical power displayed in the
composition; for it is a work which could only have been written by
one who had himself seen or heard on the spot of transactions similar
to those he has described. No course of reading could have supplied
materials for a narration so faithfully descriptive of the accidents
to which an AEgean pirate is exposed as The Corsair. Had Lord Byron
never been out of England, the production of a work so appropriate in
reflection, so wild in spirit, and so bold in invention, as in that
case it would have been, would have entitled him to the highest
honours of original conception, or been rejected as extravagant;
considered as the result of things seen, and of probabilities
suggested, by transactions not uncommon in the region where his
genius gathered the ingredients of its sorceries, more than the half
of its merits disappear, while the other half brighten with the
lustre of truth.

The manners, the actions, and the incidents were new to the English
mind; but to the inhabitant of the Levant they have long been
familiar, and the traveller who visits that region will hesitate to
admit that Lord Byron possessed those creative powers, and that
discernment of dark bosoms for which he is so much celebrated;
because he will see there how little of invention was necessary to
form such heroes as Conrad, and how much the actual traffic of life
and trade is constantly stimulating enterprise and bravery. But let
it not, therefore, be supposed, that I would undervalue either the
genius of the poet, or the merits of the poem, in saying so, for I do
think a higher faculty has been exerted in The Corsair than in Childe
Harold. In the latter, only actual things are described, freshly and
vigorously as they were seen, and feelings expressed eloquently as
they were felt; but in the former, the talent of combination has been
splendidly employed. The one is a view from nature, the other is a
composition both from nature and from history.

Lara, which appeared soon after The Corsair, is an evident supplement
to it; the description of the hero corresponds in person and
character with Conrad; so that the remarks made on The Corsair apply,
in all respects, to Lara. The poem itself is perhaps, in elegance,
superior; but the descriptions are not so vivid, simply because they
are more indebted to imagination. There is one of them, however, in
which the lake and abbey of Newstead are dimly shadowed, equal in
sweetness and solemnity to anything the poet has ever written.

It was the night, and Lara's glassy stream
The stars are studding each with imaged beam:
So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray,
And yet they glide, like happiness, away;
Reflecting far and fairy-like from high
The immortal lights that live along the sky;
Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree,
And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee:
Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove,
And innocence would offer to her love;
These deck the shore, the waves their channel make
In windings bright and mazy, like the snake.
All was so still, so soft in earth and air,
You scarce would start to meet a spirit there,
Secure that naught of evil could delight
To walk in such a scene, in such a night!
It was a moment only for the good:
So Lara deemed: nor longer there he stood;
But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate:
Such scene his soul no more could contemplate:
Such scene reminded him of other days,
Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze;
Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now--
No, no! the storm may beat upon his brow
Unfelt, unsparing; but a night like this,
A night of beauty, mock'd such breast as his.

He turn'd within his solitary hall,
And his high shadow shot along the wall:
There were the painted forms of other times--
'Twas all they left of virtues or of crimes,
Save vague tradition; and the gloomy vaults
That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults,
And half a column of the pompous page,
That speeds the spacious tale from age to age;
Where history's pen its praise or blame supplies
And lies like truth, and still most truly lies;
He wand'ring mused, and as the moonbeam shone
Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone,
And the high-fretted roof and saints that there
O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer;
Reflected in fantastic figures grew
Like life, but not like mortal life to view;
His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom,
And the wide waving of his shaken plume
Glanced like a spectre's attributes, and gave
His aspect all that terror gives the grave.

That Byron wrote best when he wrote of himself and of his own, has
probably been already made sufficiently apparent. In this respect he
stands alone and apart from all other poets, and there will be
occasion to show, that this peculiarity extended much farther over
all his works, than merely to those which may be said to have
required him to be thus personal. The great distinction, indeed, of
his merit consists in that singularity. Shakspeare, in drawing the
materials of his dramas from tales and history has, with wonderful
art, given from his own invention and imagination the fittest and
most appropriate sentiments and language; and admiration at the
perfection with which he has accomplished this, can never be
exhausted. The difference between Byron and Shakspeare consists in
the curious accident, if it may be so called, by which the former was
placed in circumstances which taught him to feel in himself the very
sentiments that he has ascribed to his characters. Shakspeare
created the feelings of his, and with such excellence, that they are
not only probable to the situations, but give to the personifications
the individuality of living persons. Byron's are scarcely less so;
but with him there was no invention, only experience, and when he
attempts to express more than he has himself known, he is always
comparatively feeble.


Byron determines to reside abroad--Visits the Plain of Waterloo--
State of his Feelings

From different incidental expressions in his correspondence it is
sufficiently evident that Byron, before his marriage, intended to
reside abroad. In his letter to me of the 11th December, 1813, he
distinctly states this intention, and intimates that he then thought
of establishing his home in Greece. It is not therefore surprising
that, after his separation from Lady Byron, he should have determined
to carry this intention into effect; for at that period, besides the
calumny heaped upon him from all quarters, the embarrassment of his
affairs, and the retaliatory satire, all tended to force him into
exile; he had no longer any particular tie to bind him to England.

On the 25th of April, 1816, he sailed for Ostend, and resumed the
composition of Childe Harold, it may be said, from the moment of his
embarkation. In it, however, there is no longer the fiction of an
imaginary character stalking like a shadow amid his descriptions and
reflections----he comes more decidedly forwards as the hero in his
own person.

In passing to Brussels he visited the field of Waterloo, and the
slight sketch which he has given in the poem of that eventful
conflict is still the finest which has yet been written on the

But the note of his visit to the field is of more importance to my
present purpose, inasmuch as it tends to illustrate the querulous
state of his own mind at the time.

"I went on horseback twice over the field, comparing it with my
recollection of similar scenes. As a plain, Waterloo seems marked
out for the scene of some great action, though this may be mere
imagination. I have viewed with attention those of Platea, Troy,
Mantinea, Leuctra, Chaevronae, and Marathon, and the field round Mont
St Jean and Hugoumont appears to want little but a better cause and
that indefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws
around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of
these, except perhaps the last-mentioned."

The expression "a better cause," could only have been engendered in
mere waywardness; but throughout his reflections at this period a
peevish ill-will towards England is often manifested, as if he sought
to attract attention by exasperating the national pride; that pride
which he secretly flattered himself was to be augmented by his own

I cannot, in tracing his travels through the third canto, test the
accuracy of his descriptions as in the former two; but as they are
all drawn from actual views they have the same vivid individuality
impressed upon them. Nothing can be more simple and affecting than
the following picture, nor less likely to be an imaginary scene:

By Coblentz, on a rise of gentle ground,
There is a small and simple pyramid,
Crowning the summit of the verdant mound;
Beneath its base are heroes' ashes hid,
Our enemies. And let not that forbid
Honour to Marceau, o'er whose early tomb
Tears, big tears, rush'd from the rough soldier's lid,
Lamenting and yet envying such a doom,
Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume.

Perhaps few passages of descriptive poetry excel that in which
reference is made to the column of Avenches, the ancient Aventicum.
It combines with an image distinct and picturesque, poetical
associations full of the grave and moral breathings of olden forms
and hoary antiquity.

By a lone wall, a lonelier column rears
A gray and grief-worn aspect of old days:
'Tis the last remnant of the wreck of years,
And looks as with the wild-bewilder'd gaze
Of one to stone converted by amaze,
Yet still with consciousness; and there it stands,
Making a marvel that it not decays,
When the coeval pride of human hands,
Levell'd Aventicum, hath strew'd her subject lands.

But the most remarkable quality in the third canto is the deep, low
bass of thought which runs through several passages, and which gives
to it, when considered with reference to the circumstances under
which it was written, the serious character of documentary evidence
as to the remorseful condition of the poet's mind. It would be,
after what has already been pointed out in brighter incidents,
affectation not to say, that these sad bursts of feeling and wild
paroxysms, bear strong indications of having been suggested by the
wreck of his domestic happiness, and dictated by contrition for the
part he had himself taken in the ruin. The following reflections on
the unguarded hour, are full of pathos and solemnity, amounting
almost to the deep and dreadful harmony of Manfred:

To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind;
All are not fit with them to stir and toil,
Nor is it discontent to keep the mind
Deep in its fountain, lest it overboil
In the hot throng, where we become the spoil
Of our infection, till too late and long
We may deplore and struggle with the coil,
In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong
'Midst a contentious world, striving where none are strong.

There, in a moment, we may plunge our years
In fatal penitence, and in the blight
Of our own soul, turn all our blood to tears,
And colour things to come with hues of night;
The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
To those who walk in darkness: on the sea,
The boldest steer but where their ports invite;
But there are wanderers o'er eternity,
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor'd ne'er shall be.

These sentiments are conceived in the mood of an awed spirit; they
breathe of sorrow and penitence. Of the weariness of satiety the
pilgrim no more complains; he is no longer despondent from
exhaustion, and the lost appetite of passion, but from the weight of
a burden which he cannot lay down; and he clings to visible objects,
as if from their nature he could extract a moral strength.

I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me,
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities tortures: I can see
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Class'd among creatures, where the soul can flee,
And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.

These dim revelations of black and lowering thought are overshadowed
with a darker hue than sorrow alone could have cast. A consciousness
of sinful blame is evident amid them; and though the fantasies that
loom through the mystery, are not so hideous as the guilty reveries
in the weird caldron of Manfred's conscience, still they have an
awful resemblance to them. They are phantoms of the same murky
element, and, being more akin to fortitude than despair, prophesy not
of hereafter, but oracularly confess suffering.

Manfred himself hath given vent to no finer horror than the oracle
that speaks in this magnificent stanza:

I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flatter'd its rank breath, nor bow'd
To its idolatries a patient knee--
Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles--nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo;--in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not of their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

There are times in life when all men feel their sympathies extinct,
and Lord Byron was evidently in that condition, when he penned these
remarkable lines; but independently of their striking beauty, the
scenery in which they were conceived deserves to be considered with
reference to the sentiment that pervades them. For it was amid the
same obscure ravines, pine-tufted precipices and falling waters of
the Alps, that he afterward placed the outcast Manfred--an additional
corroboration of the justness of the remarks which I ventured to
offer, in adverting to his ruminations in contemplating, while yet a
boy, the Malvern hills, as if they were the scenes of his impassioned
childhood. In "the palaces of nature," he first felt the
consciousness of having done some wrong, and when he would infuse
into another, albeit in a wilder degree, the feelings he had himself
felt, he recalled the images which had ministered to the cogitations
of his own contrition. But I shall have occasion to speak more of
this, when I come to consider the nature of the guilt and misery of

That Manfred is the greatest of Byron's works will probably not be
disputed. It has more than the fatal mysticism of Macbeth, with the
satanic grandeur of the Paradise Lost, and the hero is placed in
circumstances, and amid scenes, which accord with the stupendous
features of his preternatural character. How then, it may be asked,
does this moral phantom, that has never been, bear any resemblance to
the poet himself? Must not, in this instance, the hypothesis which
assigns to Byron's heroes his own sentiments and feelings be
abandoned? I think not. In noticing the deep and solemn reflections
with which he was affected in ascending the Rhine, and which he has
embodied in the third canto of Childe Harold, I have already pointed
out a similarity in the tenour of the thoughts to those of Manfred,
as well as the striking acknowledgment of the "filed" mind. There
is, moreover, in the drama, the same distaste of the world which
Byron himself expressed when cogitating on the desolation of his
hearth, and the same contempt of the insufficiency of his genius and
renown to mitigate contrition--all in strange harmony with the same
magnificent objects of sight. Is not the opening soliloquy of
Manfred the very echo of the reflections on the Rhine?

My slumbers--if I slumber--are not sleep,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not; in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within--and yet I live and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing man.

But the following is more impressive: it is the very phrase he would
himself have employed to have spoken of the consequences of his fatal

My in juries came down on those who lov'd me,
On those whom I best lov'd; I never quell'd
An enemy, save in my just defence--
But my embrace was fatal.

He had not, indeed, been engaged in any duel of which the issue was
mortal; but he had been so far engaged with more than one, that he
could easily conceive what it would have been to have quelled an
enemy in just defence. But unless the reader can himself discern, by
his sympathies, that there is the resemblance I contend for, it is of
no use to multiply instances. I shall, therefore, give but one other
extract, which breathes the predominant spirit of all Byron 's works-
-that sad translation of the preacher's "vanity of vanities; all is

Look on me! there is an order
Of mortals on the earth, who do become
Old in their youth and die ere middle age,
Without the violence of warlike death;
Some perishing of pleasure--some of study--
Some worn with toil--some of mere weariness--
Some of disease--and some insanity--
And some of wither'd or of broken hearts;
For this last is a malady which slays
More than are number'd in the lists of Fate;
Taking all shapes, and bearing many names.
Look upon me! for even of all these things
Have I partaken--and of all these things
One were enough; then wonder not that I
Am what I am, but that I ever was,
Or, having been, that I am still on earth.


Byron's Residence in Switzerland--Excursion to the Glaciers--
"Manfred" founded on a magical Sacrifice, not on Guilt--Similarity
between Sentiments given to Manfred and those expressed by Lord Byron
in his own Person

The account given by Captain Medwin of the manner in which Lord Byron
spent his time in Switzerland, has the raciness of his Lordship's own
quaintness, somewhat diluted. The reality of the conversations I
have heard questioned, but they relate in some instances to matters
not generally known, to the truth of several of which I can myself
bear witness; moreover they have much of the poet's peculiar modes of
thinking about them, though weakened in effect by the reporter. No
man can give a just representation of another who is not capable of
putting himself into the character of his original, and of thinking
with his power and intelligence. Still there are occasional touches
of merit in the feeble outlines of Captain Medwin, and with this
conviction it would be negligence not to avail myself of them.

"Switzerland," said his Lordship, "is a country I have been satisfied
with seeing once; Turkey I could live in for ever. I never forget my
predilections: I was in a wretched state of health and worse spirits
when I was at Geneva; but quiet and the lake, better physicians than
Polidori, soon set me up. I never led so moral a life as during my
residence in that country; but I gained no credit by it. Where there
is mortification there ought to be reward. On the contrary, there is
no story so absurd that they did not invent at my cost. I was
watched by glasses on the opposite side of the lake, and by glasses,
too, that must have had very distorted optics; I was waylaid in my
evening drives. I believe they looked upon me as a man-monster.

"I knew very few of the Genevese. Hentsh was very civil to me, and I
have a great respect for Sismondi. I was forced to return the
civilities of one of their professors by asking him and an old
gentleman, a friend of Gray's, to dine with me I had gone out to sail
early in the morning, and the wind prevented me from returning in
time for dinner. I understand that I offended them mortally.

"Among our countrymen I made no new acquaintances; Shelley, Monk
Lewis, and Hobhouse were almost the only English people I saw. No
wonder; I showed a distaste for society at that time, and went little
among the Genevese; besides, I could not speak French. When I went
the tour of the lake with Shelley and Hobhouse, the boat was nearly
wrecked near the very spot where St Preux and Julia were in danger of
being drowned. It would have been classical to have been lost there,
but not agreeable."

The third canto of Childe Harold, Manfred, and The Prisoner of
Chillon are the fruits of his travels up the Rhine and of his sojourn
in Switzerland. Of the first it is unnecessary to say more; but the
following extract from the poet's travelling memorandum-book, has
been supposed to contain the germ of the tragedy

"September 22, 18 16.--Left Thun in a boat, which carried us the
length of the lake in three hours. The lake small, but the banks
fine; rocks down to the water's edge: landed at Newhouse; passed
Interlachen; entered upon a range of scenes beyond all description or
previous conception; passed a rock bearing an inscription; two
brothers, one murdered the other; just the place for it. After a
variety of windings, came to an enormous rock; arrived at the foot of
the mountain (the Jungfrau) glaciers; torrents, one of these nine
hundred feet, visible descent; lodge at the curate's; set out to see
the valley; heard an avalanche fall like thunder; glaciers; enormous
storm comes on thunder and lightning and hail, all in perfection and
beautiful. The torrent is in shape, curving over the rock, like the
tail of the white horse streaming in the wind, just as might be
conceived would be that of the pale horse on which Death is mounted
in the Apocalypse: it is neither mist nor water, but a something
between both; its immense height gives a wave, a curve, a spreading
here, a condensation there, wonderful, indescribable

"September 23.--Ascent of the Wingren, the dent d'argent shining like
truth on one side, on the other the clouds rose from the opposite
valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the
ocean of hell during a spring-tide. It was white and sulphury, and
immeasurably deep in appearance; the side we ascended was of course
not of so precipitous a nature; but on arriving at the summit, we
looked down on the other side upon a boiling sea of cloud dashing
against the crag on which we stood. Arrived at the Greenderwold,
mounted and rode to the higher glacier, twilight, but distinct, very
fine; glacier like a frozen hurricane; starlight beautiful; the whole
of the day was fine, and, in point of weather, as the day in which
Paradise was made. Passed whole woods of withered pines, all
withered, trunks stripped and lifeless, done by a single winter."

Undoubtedly in these brief and abrupt but masterly touches, hints for
the scenery of Manfred may be discerned, but I can perceive nothing
in them which bears the least likelihood to their having influenced
the conception of that sublime work.

There has always been from the first publication of Manfred, a
strange misapprehension with respect to it in the public mind. The
whole poem has been misunderstood, and the odious supposition that
ascribes the fearful mystery and remorse of a hero to a foul passion
for his sister, is probably one of those coarse imaginations which
have grown out of the calumnies and accusations heaped upon the
author. How can it have happened that none of the critics have
noticed that the story is derived from the human sacrifices supposed
to have been in use among the students of the black art?

Manfred is represented as being actuated by an insatiable curiosity--
a passion to know the forbidden secrets of the world. The scene
opens with him at his midnight studies--his lamp is almost burned
out--and he has been searching for knowledge and has not found it,
but only that

Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth,
The tree of knowledge is not that of life.
Philosophy and science and the springs
Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world
I have essayed, and in my mind there is,
A power to make these subject to itself.

He is engaged in calling spirits; and, as the incantation proceeds,
they obey his bidding, and ask him what he wants; he replies,


Of what--of whom--and why?


Of that which is within me; read it there----
Ye know it, and I cannot utter it.


We can but give thee that which we possess;--
Ask of us subjects, sovereignty, the power
O'er earth, the whole or portion, or a sign
Which shall control the elements, whereof
We are the dominators. Each and all--
These shall be thine.


Oblivion, self oblivion--
Can ye not wring from out the hidden realms
Ye offer so profusely, what I ask?


It is not in our essence, in our skill,
But--thou may'st die.


Will death bestow it on me?


We are immortal, and do not forget;
We are eternal, and to us the past
Is as the future, present. Art thou answer'd?


Ye mock me, but the power which brought ye here
Hath made you mine. Slaves! scoff not at my will;
The mind, the spirit, the Promethean spark,
The lightning of my being is as bright,
Pervading and far darting as your own,
And shall not yield to yours though coop'd in clay.
Answer, or I will teach you what I am.


We answer as we answer'd. Our reply
Is even in thine own words.


Why say ye so?


If, as thou say'st, thine essence be as ours,
We have replied in telling thee the thing
Mortals call death hath naught to do with us.


I then have call'd you from your realms in vain.

This impressive and original scene prepares the reader to wonder why
it is that Manfred is so desirous to drink of Lethe. He has acquired
dominion over spirits, and he finds, in the possession of the power,
that knowledge has only brought him sorrow. They tell him he is
immortal, and what he suffers is as inextinguishable as his own
being: why should he desire forgetfulness?--Has he not committed a
great secret sin? What is it?--He alludes to his sister, and in his
subsequent interview with the witch we gather a dreadful meaning
concerning her fate. Her blood has been shed, not by his hand nor in
punishment, but in the shadow and occultations of some unutterable
crime and mystery.

She was like me in lineaments; her eyes,
Her hair, her features, all to the very tone
Even of her voice, they said were like to mine,
But soften'd all and temper'd into beauty.
She had the same lone thoughts and wanderings,
The quest of hidden knowledge, and a mind
To comprehend the universe; nor these
Alone, but with them gentler powers than mine,
Pity, and smiles, and tears, which I had not;
And tenderness--but that I had for her;
Humility, and that I never had:
Her faults were mine--her virtues were her own;
I lov'd her and--destroy'd her--


With thy hand?


Not with my hand, but heart, which broke her heart.
It gaz'd on mine, and withered. I have shed
Blood, but not hers, and yet her blood was shed;--
I saw, and could not stanch it.

There is in this little scene, perhaps, the deepest pathos ever
expressed; but it is not of its beauty that I am treating; my object
in noticing it here is, that it may be considered in connection with
that where Manfred appears with his insatiate thirst of knowledge,
and manacled with guilt. It indicates that his sister, Astarte, had
been self-sacrificed in the pursuit of their magical knowledge.
Human sacrifices were supposed to be among the initiate propitiations
of the demons that have their purposes in magic--as well as compacts
signed with the blood of the self-sold. There was also a dark
Egyptian art, of which the knowledge and the efficacy could only be
obtained by the novitiate's procuring a voluntary victim--the dearest
object to himself and to whom he also was the dearest; {241} and the
primary spring of Byron's tragedy lies, I conceive, in a sacrifice of
that kind having been performed, without obtaining that happiness
which the votary expected would be found in the knowledge and power
purchased at such a price. His sister was sacrificed in vain. The
manner of the sacrifice is not divulged, but it is darkly intimated
to have been done amid the perturbations of something horrible.

Night after night for years
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower
Without a witness.--I have been within it--
So have we all been ofttimes; but from it,
Or its contents, it were impossible
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
His studies tend to.--To be sure there is
One chamber where none enter--. . .
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower:
How occupied--we know not--but with him,
The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings--her--whom of all earthly things
That liv'd, the only thing he seem'd to love.

With admirable taste, and its thrilling augmentation of the horror,
the poet leaves the deed which was done in that unapproachable
chamber undivulged, while we are darkly taught, that within it lie
the relics or the ashes of the "one without a tomb."


State of Byron in Switzerland--He goes to Venice--The fourth Canto of
"Childe Harold"--Rumination on his own Condition--Beppo--Lament of
Tasso--Curious Example of Byron's metaphysical Love

The situation of Lord Byron in Switzerland was comfortless. He found
that "the montain palaces of Nature" afforded no asylum to a haunted
heart; he was ill at ease with himself, even dissatisfied that the
world had not done him enough of wrong to justify his misanthropy.

Some expectation that his lady would repent of her part in the
separation probably induced him to linger in the vicinity of Geneva,
the thoroughfare of the travelling English, whom he affected to shun.
If it were so, he was disappointed, and, his hopes being frustrated,
he broke up the establishment he had formed there and crossed the
Alps. After visiting some of the celebrated scenes and places in the
north of Italy he passed on to Venice, where he domiciled himself for
a time.

During his residence at Venice Lord Byron avoided as much as possible
any intercourse with his countrymen. This was perhaps in some degree
necessary, and it was natural in the state of his mind. He had
become an object of great public interest by his talents; the stories
connected with his domestic troubles had also increased his
notoriety, and in such circumstances he could not but shrink from the
inquisition of mere curiosity. But there was an insolence in the
tone with which he declares his "utter abhorrence of any contact with
the travelling English," that can neither be commended for its
spirit, nor palliated by any treatment he had suffered. Like
Coriolanus he may have banished his country, but he had not, like the
Roman, received provocation: on the contrary, he had been the
aggressor in the feuds with his literary adversaries; and there was a
serious accusation against his morals, or at least his manners, in
the circumstances under which Lady Byron withdrew from his house. It
was, however, his misfortune throughout life to form a wrong estimate
of himself in everything save in his poetical powers.

A life in Venice is more monotonous than in any other great city; but
a man of genius carries with him everywhere a charm, which secures to
him both variety and enjoyment. Lord Byron had scarcely taken up his
abode in Venice, when he began the fourth canto of Childe Harold,
which he published early in the following year, and dedicated to his
indefatigable friend Mr Hobhouse by an epistle dated on the
anniversary of his marriage, "the most unfortunate day," as he says,
"of his past existence."

In this canto he has indulged his excursive moralizing beyond even
the wide licence he took in the three preceding parts; but it bears
the impression of more reading and observation. Though not superior
in poetical energy, it is yet a higher work than any of them, and
something of a more resolved and masculine spirit pervades the
reflections, and endows, as it were, with thought and enthusiasm the
aspect of the things described. Of the merits of the descriptions,
as of real things, I am not qualified to judge: the transcripts from
the tablets of the author's bosom he has himself assured us are

"With regard to the conduct of the last canto, there will be found
less of the pilgrim than in any of the preceding, and that little
slightly, if at all, separated from the author speaking in his own
person. The fact is, that I had become weary of drawing a line,
which every one seemed determined not to perceive: like the Chinese,
in Goldsmith's Citizen of the World, whom nobody would believe to be
a Chinese, it was in vain that I asserted and imagined that I had
drawn a distinction between the author and the pilgrim; and the very
anxiety to preserve this difference, and the disappointment at
finding it unavailing, so far crushed my efforts in the composition,
that I determined to abandon it altogether--and have done so."

This confession, though it may not have been wanted, gives a pathetic
emphasis to those passages in which the poet speaks of his own
feelings. That his mind was jarred, and out of joint, there is too
much reason to believe; but he had in some measure overcome the
misery that clung to him during the dismal time of his sojourn in
Switzerland, and the following passage, though breathing the sweet
and melancholy spirit of dejection, possesses a more generous vein of
nationality than is often met with in his works, even when the same
proud sentiment might have been more fitly expressed:

I've taught me other tongues--and in strange eyes
Have made me not a stranger; to the mind
Which is itself, no changes bring surprise,
Nor is it harsh to make or hard to find
A country with--aye, or without mankind.
Yet was I born where men are proud to be,
Not without cause; and should I leave behind
Th' inviolate island of the sage and free,
And seek me out a home by a remoter sea?

Perhaps I lov'd it well, and should I lay
My ashes in a soil which is not mine,
My spirit shall resume it--if we may,
Unbodied, choose a sanctuary. I twine
My hopes of being remember'd in my line,
With my land's language; if too fond and far
These aspirations in their hope incline--
If my fame should be as my fortunes are,
Of hasty growth and blight, and dull oblivion bar

My name from out the temple where the dead
Are honour'd by the nations--let it be,
And light the laurels on a loftier head,
And be the Spartan's epitaph on me:
"Sparta had many a worthier son than he";
Meantime I seek no sympathies, nor need;
The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree
I planted--they have torn me--and I bleed:
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.

It will strike the reader as remarkable, that although the poet, in
the course of this canto, takes occasion to allude to Dante and
Tasso, in whose destinies there was a shadowy likeness of his own,
the rumination is mingled with less of himself than might have been
expected, especially when it is considered how much it was a habit
with him, to make his own feelings the basis and substratum of the
sentiments he ascribed to others. It has also more than once
surprised me that he has so seldom alluded to Alfieri, whom of all
poets, both in character and conduct, he most resembled; with this
difference, however, that Alfieri was possessed of affections equally
intense and durable, whereas the caprice of Byron made him uncertain
in his partialities, or what was the same in effect, made his friends
set less value on them than perhaps they were entitled to.

Before Childe Harold was finished, an incident occurred which
suggested to Byron a poem of a very different kind to any he had yet
attempted:--without vouching for the exact truth of the anecdote, I
have been told, that he one day received by the mail a copy of
Whistlecraft's prospectus and specimen of an intended national work;
and, moved by its playfulness, immediately after reading it, began
Beppo, which he finished at a sitting. The facility with which he
composed renders the story not improbable; but, singular as it may
seem, the poem itself has the facetious flavour in it of his gaiety,
stronger than even his grave works have of his frowardness, commonly
believed to have been--I think, unjustly--the predominant mood of his

The Ode to Venice is also to be numbered among his compositions in
that city; a spirited and indignant effusion, full of his peculiar
lurid fire, and rich in a variety of impressive and original images.
But there is a still finer poem which belongs to this period of his
history, though written, I believe, before he reached Venice--The
Lament of Tasso: and I am led to notice it the more particularly, as
one of its noblest passages affords an illustration of the opinion
which I have early maintained--that Lord Byron's extraordinary
pretensions to the influence of love was but a metaphysical
conception of the passion.

It is no marvel--from my very birth
My soul was drunk with love, which did pervade
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth;
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lovely flowers,
And rocks whereby they grew, a paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade
Of waving trees, and dream'd uncounted hours.

It has been remarked by an anonymous author of Memoirs of Lord Byron,
a work written with considerable talent and acumen, that "this is so
far from being in character, that it is the very reverse; for whether
Tasso was in his senses or not, if his love was sincere, he would
have made the object of his affection the sole theme of his
meditation, instead of generalising his passion, and talking about
the original sympathies of his nature." In truth, no poet has better
described love than Byron has his own peculiar passion.

His love was passion's essence--as a tree
On fire by lightning; with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted; for to be
Thus enamour'd were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,
But of ideal beauty, which became
In him existence, and o'erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distemper'd though it seems.

In tracing the course of Lord Byron's career, I have not deemed it at
all necessary to advert to the instances of his generosity, or to
conduct less pleasant to record. Enough has appeared to show that he
was neither deficient in warmth of heart nor in less amiable
feelings; but, upon the whole, it is not probable that either in his
charities or his pleasures he was greatly different from other young
men, though he undoubtedly had a wayward delight in magnifying his
excesses, not in what was to his credit, like most men, but in what
was calculated to do him no honour. More notoriety has been given to
an instance of lavish liberality at Venice, than the case deserved,
though it was unquestionably prompted by a charitable impulse. The
house of a shoemaker, near his Lordship's residence, in St Samuel,
was burned to the ground, with all it contained, by which the
proprietor was reduced to indigence. Byron not only caused a new but
a superior house to be erected, and also presented the sufferer with
a sum of money equal in value to the whole of his stock in trade and
furniture. I should endanger my reputation for impartiality if I did
not, as a fair set-off to this, also mention that it is said he
bought for five hundred crowns a baker's wife. There might be
charity in this, too.


Removes to Ravenna--The Countess Guiccioli

Although Lord Byron resided between two and three years at Venice, he
was never much attached to it. "To see a city die daily, as she
does," said he, "is a sad contemplation. I sought to distract my
mind from a sense of her desolation and my own solitude, by plunging
into a vortex that was anything but pleasure. When one gets into a
mill-stream, it is difficult to swim against it, and keep out of the
wheels." He became tired and disgusted with the life he led at
Venice, and was glad to turn his back on it. About the close of the
year 1819 he accordingly removed to Ravenna; but before I proceed to
speak of the works which he composed at Ravenna, it is necessary to
explain some particulars respecting a personal affair, the influence
of which on at least one of his productions is as striking as any of
the many instances already described upon others. I allude to the
intimacy which he formed with the young Countess Guiccioli.

This lady, at the age of sixteen, was married to the Count, one of
the richest noblemen in Romagna, but far advanced in life. "From the
first," said Lord Byron, in his account of her, "they had separate
apartments, and she always called him, Sir! What could be expected
from such a preposterous connection. For some time she was an
Angiolina and he a Marino Faliero, a good old man; but young Italian
women are not satisfied with good old men, and the venerable Count
did not object to her availing herself of the privileges of her
country in selecting a cicisbeo; an Italian would have made it quite
agreeable: indeed, for some time he winked at our intimacy, but at
length made an exception against me, as a foreigner, a heretic, an
Englishman, and, what was worse than all, a Liberal.

"He insisted--Teresa was as obstinate--her family took her part.
Catholics cannot get divorces; but to the scandal of all Romagna, the
matter was at last referred to the Pope, who ordered her a separate
maintenance on condition that she should reside under her father's
roof. All this was not agreeable, and at length I was forced to
smuggle her out of Ravenna, having discovered a plot laid with the
sanction of the legate, for shutting her up in a convent for life."

The Countess Guiccioli was at this time about twenty, but she
appeared younger; her complexion was fair, with large, dark,
languishing eyes; and her auburn hair fell in great profusion of
natural ringlets over her shapely shoulders. Her features were not
so regular as in their expression pleasing, and there was an amiable
gentleness in her voice which was peculiarly interesting. Leigh
Hunt's account of her is not essentially dissimilar from any other
that I have either heard of or met with. He differs, however, in one
respect, from every other, in saying that her hair was YELLOW; but
considering the curiosity which this young lady has excited, perhaps
it may be as well to transcribe his description at length, especially
as he appears to have taken some pains on it, and more particularly
as her destiny seems at present to promise that the interest for her
is likely to be revived by another unhappy English connection.

"Her appearance," says Mr Hunt, "might have reminded an English
spectator of Chaucer's heroine:

Yclothed was she, fresh for to devise,
Her yellow hair was braided in a tress
Behind her back, a yarde long I guess,
And in the garden (as the same uprist)
She walketh up and down, where as her list.

And then, as Dryden has it:

At every turn she made a little stand,
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand.

Madame Guiccioli, who was at that time about twenty, was handsome and
lady-like, with an agreeable manner, and a voice not partaking too
much of the Italian fervour to be gentle. She had just enough of it
to give her speaking a grace--none of her graces appeared entirely
free from art; nor, on the other hand, did they betray enough of it
to give you an ill opinion of her sincerity and good-humour . . . Her
hair was what the poet has described, or rather BLOND, with an
inclination to yellow; a very fair and delicate yellow, at all
events, and within the limits of the poetical. She had regular
features of the order properly called handsome, in distinction to
prettiness or piquancy; being well proportioned to one another,
large, rather than otherwise, but without coarseness, and more
harmonious than interesting. Her nose was the handsomest of the kind
I ever saw; and I have known her both smile very sweetly, and look
intelligently, when Lord Byron has said something kind to her. I
should not say, however, that she was a very intelligent person.
Both her wisdom and her want of wisdom were on the side of her
feelings, in which there was doubtless mingled a good deal of the
self-love natural to a flattered beauty. . . . In a word, Madame
Guiccioli was a kind of buxom parlour-boarder, compressing herself
artificially into dignity and elegance, and fancying she walked, in
the eyes of the whole world, a heroine by the side of a poet. When I
saw her at Monte Nero, near Leghorn, she was in a state of excitement
and exultation, and had really something of this look. At that time,
also, she looked no older than she was; in which respect, a rapid and
very singular change took place, to the surprise of everybody. In
the course of a few months she seemed to have lived as many years."

This is not very perspicuous portraiture, nor does it show that Mr
Hunt was a very discerning observer of character. Lord Byron himself
is represented to have said, that extraordinary pains were taken with
her education: "Her conversation is lively without being frivolous;
without being learned, she has read all the best authors of her own
and the French language. She often conceals what she knows, from the
fear of being thought to know too much; possibly because she knows I
am not fond of blues. To use an expression of Jeffrey's, 'If she has
blue stockings, she contrives that her petticoats shall hide them.'"

Lord Byron was at one time much attached to her; nor could it be
doubted that their affection was reciprocal; but in both, their union
outlived their affection, for before his departure to Greece his
attachment had perished, and he left her, as it is said,
notwithstanding the rank and opulence she had forsaken on his
account, without any provision. He had promised, it was reported, to
settle two thousand pounds on her, but he forgot the intention, or
died before it was carried into effect. {255} On her part, the
estrangement was of a different and curious kind--she had not come to
hate him, but she told a lady, the friend of a mutual acquaintance of
Lord Byron and mine, that she feared more than loved him.


Residence in Ravenna--The Carbonari--Byron's Part in their Plot--The
Murder of the military Commandant--The poetical Use of the Incident--
"Marino Faliero"--Reflections--"The Prophecy of Dante"

Lord Byron has said himself, that except Greece, he was never so
attached to any place in his life as to Ravenna. The peasantry he
thought the best people in the world, and their women the most
beautiful. "Those at Tivoli and Frescati," said he, "are mere
Sabines, coarse creatures, compared to the Romagnese. You may talk
of your English women; and it is true, that out of one hundred
Italian and English you will find thirty of the latter handsome; but
then there will be one Italian on the other side of the scale, who
will more than balance the deficit in numbers--one who, like the
Florence Venus, has no rival, and can have none in the North. I
found also at Ravenna much education and liberality of thinking among
the higher classes. The climate is delightful. I was not broken in
upon by society. Ravenna lies out of the way of travellers. I was
never tired of my rides in the pine forest: it breathes of the
Decameron; it is poetical ground. Francesca lived and Dante was
exiled and died at Ravenna. There is something inspiring in such an

"The people liked me as much as they hated the government. It is not
a little to say, I was popular with all the leaders of the
constitutional party. They knew that I came from a land of liberty,
and wished well to their cause. I would have espoused it, too, and
assisted them to shake off their fetters. They knew my character,
for I had been living two years at Venice, where many of the
Ravennese have houses. I did not, however, take part in their
intrigues, nor join in their political coteries; but I had a magazine
of one hundred stand of arms in the house, when everything was ripe
for revolt----a curse on Carignan's imbecility! I could have
pardoned him that, too, if he had not impeached his partisans.

"The proscription was immense in Romagna, and embraced many of the
first nobles: almost all my friends, among the rest the Gambas (the
father and brother of the Countess Guiccioli), who took no part in
the affair, were included in it. They were exiled, and their
possessions confiscated. They knew that this must eventually drive
me out of the country. I did not follow them immediately: I was not
to be bullied--I had myself fallen under the eye of the government.
If they could have got sufficient proof they would have arrested me."

The latter part of this declaration bears, in my opinion, indubitable
marks of being genuine. It has that magnifying mysticism about it
which more than any other quality characterized Lord Byron's
intimations concerning himself and his own affairs; but it is a
little clearer than I should have expected in the acknowledgment of
the part he was preparing to take in the insurrection. He does not
seem HERE to be sensible, that in confessing so much, he has
justified the jealousy with which he was regarded.

"Shortly after the plot was discovered," he proceeds to say, "I
received several anonymous letters, advising me to discontinue my
forest rides; but I entertained no apprehensions of treachery, and
was more on horseback than ever. I never stir out without being well
armed, nor sleep without pistols. They knew that I never missed my
aim; perhaps this saved me."

An event occurred at this time at Ravenna that made a deep impression
on Lord Byron. The commandant of the place, who, though suspected of
being secretly a Carbonaro, was too powerful a man to be arrested,
was assassinated opposite to his residence. The measures adopted to
screen the murderer proved, in the opinion of his Lordship, that the
assassination had taken place by order of the police, and that the
spot where it was perpetrated had been selected by choice. Byron at
the moment had his foot in the stirrup, and his horse started at the
report of the shot. On looking round he saw a man throw down a
carbine and run away, and another stretched on the pavement near him.
On hastening to the spot, he found it was the commandant; a crowd
collected, but no one offered any assistance. His Lordship directed
his servant to lift the bleeding body into the palace--he assisted
himself in the act, though it was represented to him that he might
incur the displeasure of the government--and the gentleman was
already dead. His adjutant followed the body into the house. "I
remember," says his Lordship, "his lamentation over him--'Poor devil
he would not have harmed a dog.'"

It was from the murder of this commandant that the poet sketched the
scene of the assassination in the fifth canto of Don Juan.

The other evening ('twas on Friday last),
This is a fact, and no poetic fable--
Just as my great coat was about me cast,
My hat and gloves still lying on the table,
I heard a shot--'twas eight o'clock scarce past,
And running out as fast as I was able,
I found the military commandant
Stretch'd in the street, and able scarce to pant.

Poor fellow! for some reason, surely bad,
They had him slain with five slugs, and left him there
To perish on the pavement: so I had
Him borne into the house, and up the stair;
The man was gone: in some Italian quarrel
Kill'd by five bullets from an old gun-barrel.

The scars of his old wounds were near his new,
Those honourable scars which bought him fame,
And horrid was the contrast to the view--
But let me quit the theme, as such things claim
Perhaps ev'n more attention than is due
From me: I gazed (as oft I've gazed the same)
To try if I could wrench aught out of death
Which should confirm, or shake, or make a faith.

Whether Marino Faliero was written at Ravenna or completed there, I
have not ascertained, but it was planned at Venice, and as far back
as 1817. I believe this is considered about the most ordinary
performance of all Lord Byron's works; but if it is considered with
reference to the time in which it was written, it will probably be
found to contain many great and impressive passages. Has not the
latter part of the second scene in the first act reference to the
condition of Venice when his Lordship was there? And is not the
description which Israel Bertuccio gives of the conspirators
applicable to, as it was probably derived from, the Carbonari, with
whom there is reason to say Byron was himself disposed to take a

Know, then, that there are met and sworn in secret
A band of brethren, valiant hearts and true;
Men who have proved all fortunes, and have long
Grieved over that of Venice, and have right
To do so; having served her in all climes,
And having rescued her from foreign foes,
Would do the same for those within her walls.
They are not numerous, nor yet too few
For their great purpose; they have arms, and means,
And hearts, and hopes, and faith, and patient courage.

This drama, to be properly appreciated, both in its taste and feeling
should be considered as addressed to the Italians of the epoch at
which it was written. Had it been written in the Italian instead of
the English language, and could have come out in any city of Italy,
the effect would have been prodigious. It is, indeed, a work not to
be estimated by the delineations of character nor the force of
passion expressed in it, but altogether by the apt and searching
sarcasm of the political allusions. Viewed with reference to the
time and place in which it was composed, it would probably deserve to
be ranked as a high and bold effort: simply as a drama, it may not
be entitled to rank above tragedies of the second or third class.
But I mean not to set my opinion of this work against that of the
public, the English public; all I contend for is, that it possesses
many passages of uncommon beauty, and that its chief tragic merit
consists in its political indignation; but above all, that is another
and a strong proof too, of what I have been endeavouring to show,
that the power of the poet consisted in giving vent to his own
feelings, and not, like his great brethren, or even his less, in the
invention of situations or of appropriate sentiments. It is,
perhaps, as it stands, not fit to succeed in representation; but it
is so rich in matter that it would not be a difficult task to make
out of little more than the third part a tragedy which would not
dishonour the English stage.

I have never been able to understand why it has been so often
supposed that Lord Byron was actuated in the composition of his
different works by any other motive than enjoyment: perhaps no poet
had ever less of an ulterior purpose in his mind during the fits of
inspiration (for the epithet may be applied correctly to him and to
the moods in which he was accustomed to write) than this singular and
impassioned man. Those who imagine that he had any intention to
impair the reverence due to religion, or to weaken the hinges of
moral action, give him credit for far more design and prospective
purpose than he possessed. They could have known nothing of the man,
the main defect of whose character, in relation to everything, was in
having too little of the element or principle of purpose. He was a
thing of impulses, and to judge of what he either said or did, as the
results of predetermination, was not only to do the harshest
injustice, but to show a total ignorance of his character. His whole
fault, the darkest course of those flights and deviations from
propriety which have drawn upon him the severest animadversion, lay
in the unbridled state of his impulses. He felt, but never reasoned.
I am led to make these observations by noticing the ungracious, or,
more justly, the illiberal spirit in which The Prophecy of Dante,
which was published with the Marino Faliero, has been treated by the
anonymous author of Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Lord Byron.

Of The Prophecy of Dante I am no particular admirer. It contains,
unquestionably, stanzas of resounding energy, but the general verse
of the poem is as harsh and abrupt as the clink and clang of the
cymbal; moreover, even for a prophecy, it is too obscure, and though
it possesses abstractedly too many fine thoughts, and too much of the
combustion of heroic passion to be regarded as a failure, yet it will
never be popular. It is a quarry, however, of very precious poetical

It was written at Ravenna, and at the suggestion of the Guiccioli, to
whom it is dedicated in a sonnet, prettily but inharmoniously turned.
Like all his other best performances, this rugged but masterly
composition draws its highest interest from himself and his own
feelings, and can only be rightly appreciated by observing how fitly
many of the bitter breathings of Dante apply to his own exiled and
outcast condition. For, however much he was himself the author of
his own banishment, he felt when he wrote these haughty verses that
he had been sometimes shunned.


The Tragedy of "Sardanapalus" considered, with Reference to Lord
Byron's own Circumstances--"Cain"

Among the mental enjoyments which endeared Ravenna to Lord Byron, the
composition of Sardanapalus may be reckoned the chief. It seems to
have been conceived in a happier mood than any of all his other
works; for, even while it inculcates the dangers of voluptuous
indulgence, it breathes the very essence of benevolence and
philosophy. Pleasure takes so much of the character of virtue in it,
that but for the moral taught by the consequences, enjoyment might be
mistaken for duty. I have never been able to satisfy myself in what
the resemblance consists, but from the first reading it has always
appeared to me that there was some elegant similarity between the
characters of Sardanapalus and Hamlet, and my inclination has
sometimes led me to imagine that the former was the nobler conception
of the two.

The Assyrian monarch, like the Prince of Denmark, is highly endowed,
capable of the greatest undertakings; he is yet softened by a
philosophic indolence of nature that makes him undervalue the
enterprises of ambition, and all those objects in the attainment of
which so much of glory is supposed to consist. They are both alike
incapable of rousing themselves from the fond reveries of moral
theory, even when the strongest motives are presented to them.
Hamlet hesitates to act, though his father's spirit hath come from
death to incite him; and Sardanapalus derides the achievements that
had raised his ancestors to an equality with the gods.

Thou wouldst have me go
Forth as a conqueror.--By all the stars
Which the Chaldeans read! the restless slaves
Deserve that I should curse them with their wishes
And lead them forth to glory.


The ungrateful and ungracious slaves! they murmur
Because I have not shed their blood, nor led them
To dry into the deserts' dust by myriads,
Or whiten with their bones the banks of Ganges,
Nor decimated them with savage laws,
Nor sweated them to build up pyramids
Or Babylonian walls.

The nothingness of kingly greatness and national pride were never
before so finely contemned as by the voluptuous Assyrian, and were
the scorn not mitigated by the skilful intermixture of mercifulness
and philanthropy, the character would not be endurable. But when the
same voice which pronounced contempt on the toils of honour says,

For me if I can make my subjects feel
The weight of human misery less,

it is impossible to repress the liking which the humane spirit of
that thought is calculated to inspire. Nor is there any want of
dignity in Sardanapalus, even when lolling softest in his luxury.

Must I consume my life--this little life--
In guarding against all may make it less!
It is not worth so much--It were to die
Before my hour to live in dread of death. . . .
Till now no drop of an Assyrian vein
Hath flow'd for me, nor hath the smallest coin
Of Nineveh's vast treasure e'er been lavish'd
On objects which could cost her sons a tear.
If then they hate me 'tis because I hate not,
If they rebel 'tis because I oppress not.

This is imagined in the true tone of Epicurean virtue, and it rises
to magnanimity when he adds in compassionate scorn,

Oh, men! ye must be ruled with scythes, not sceptres,
And mow'd down like the grass, else all we reap
Is rank abundance and a rotten harvest
Of discontents infecting the fair soil,
Making a desert of fertility.

But the graciousness in the conception of the character of
Sardanapalus, is not to be found only in these sentiments of his
meditations, but in all and every situation in which the character is
placed. When Salamenes bids him not sheath his sword--

'Tis the sole sceptre left you now with safety,

the king replies--

"A heavy one;" and subjoins, as if to conceal his distaste for war,
by ascribing a dislike to the sword itself,

The hilt, too, hurts my hand.

It may be asked why I dwell so particularly on the character of
Sardanapalus. It is admitted that he is the most heroic of
voluptuaries, the most philosophical of the licentious. The first he
is undoubtedly, but he is not licentious; and in omitting to make him
so, the poet has prevented his readers from disliking his character
upon principle. It was a skilful stroke of art to do this; had it
been otherwise, and had there been no affection shown for the Ionian
slave, Sardanapalus would have engaged no sympathy. It is not,
however, with respect to the ability with which the character has
been imagined, nor to the poetry with which it is invested, that I
have so particularly made it a subject of criticism; it was to point
out how much in it Lord Byron has interwoven of his own best nature.

At the time when he was occupied with this great work, he was
confessedly in the enjoyment of the happiest portion of his life.
The Guiccioli was to him a Myrrha, but the Carbonari were around, and
in the controversy, in which Sardanapalus is engaged, between the
obligations of his royalty and his inclinations for pleasure, we have
a vivid insight of the cogitation of the poet, whether to take a part
in the hazardous activity which they were preparing, or to remain in
the seclusion and festal repose of which he was then in possession.
The Assyrian is as much Lord Byron as Childe Harold was, and bears
his lineaments in as clear a likeness, as a voluptuary unsated could
do those of the emaciated victim of satiety. Over the whole drama,
and especially in some of the speeches of Sardanapalus, a great deal
of fine but irrelevant poetry and moral reflection has been profusely
spread; but were the piece adapted to the stage, these portions would
of course be omitted, and the character denuded of them would then
more fully justify the idea which I have formed of it, than it may
perhaps to many readers do at present, hidden as it is, both in shape
and contour, under an excess of ornament.

That the character of Myrrha was also drawn from life, and that the
Guiccioli was the model, I have no doubt. She had, when most
enchanted by her passion for Byron--at the very time when the drama
was written--many sources of regret; and he was too keen an observer,
and of too jealous a nature, not to have marked every shade of change
in her appearance, and her every moment of melancholy reminiscence;
so that, even though she might never have given expression to her
sentiments, still such was her situation, that it could not but
furnish him with fit suggestions from which to fill up the moral
being of the Ionian slave. Were the character of Myrrha scanned with
this reference, while nothing could be discovered to detract from the
value of the composition, a great deal would be found to lessen the
merit of the poet's invention. He had with him the very being in
person whom he has depicted in the drama, of dispositions and
endowments greatly similar, and in circumstances in which she could
not but feel as Myrrha is supposed to have felt--and it must be
admitted, that he has applied the good fortune of that incident to a
beautiful purpose.

This, however, is not all that the tragedy possesses of the author.
The character of Zarina is, perhaps, even still more strikingly drawn
from life. There are many touches in the scene with her which he
could not have imagined, without thinking of his own domestic
disasters. The first sentiment she utters is truly conceived in the
very frame and temper in which Byron must have wished his lady to
think of himself, and he could not embody it without feeling THAT--

How many a year has pass'd,
Though we are still so young, since we have met
Which I have borne in widowhood of heart.

The following delicate expression has reference to his having left
his daughter with her mother, and unfolds more of his secret feelings
on the subject than anything he has expressed more ostentatiously

I wish'd to thank you, that you have not divided
My heart from all that's left it now to love.

And what Sardanapalus says of his children is not less applicable to
Byron, and is true:

Deem not
I have not done you justice: rather make them
Resemble your own line, than their own sire;
I trust them with you--to you.

And when Zarina says,

They ne'er
Shall know from me aught but what may honour
Their father's memory,

he puts in her mouth only a sentiment which he knew, if his wife
never expressed to him, she profoundly acknowledged in resolution to
herself. The whole of this scene is full of the most penetrating
pathos; and did the drama not contain, in every page, indubitable
evidence to me, that he has shadowed out in it himself his wife, and
his mistress, this little interview would prove a vast deal in
confirmation of the opinion so often expressed, that where his genius
was most in its element, it was when it dealt with his own
sensibilities and circumstances. It is impossible to read the
following speech, without a conviction that it was written at Lady

My gentle, wrong'd Zarina!
I am the very slave of circumstance
And impulse--borne away with every breath!
Misplaced upon the throne--misplaced in life.
I know not what I could have been, but feel
I am not what I should be--let it end.
But take this with thee: if I was not form'd
To prize a love like thine--a mind like thine--
Nor dote even on thy beauty--as I've doted
On lesser charms, for no cause save that such
Devotion was a duty, and I hated
All that look'd like a chain for me or others
(This even rebellion must avouch); yet hear
These words, perhaps among my last--that none
E'er valued more thy virtues, though he knew not
To profit by them.

At Ravenna Cain was also written; a dramatic poem, in some degree,
chiefly in its boldness, resembling the ancient mysteries of the
monasteries before the secular stage was established. This
performance, in point of conception, is of a sublime order. The
object of the poem is to illustrate the energy and the art of Lucifer
in accomplishing the ruin of the first-born. By an unfair
misconception, the arguments of Lucifer have been represented as the
sentiments of the author upon some imaginary warranty derived from
the exaggerated freedom of his life; and yet the moral tendency of
the reflections are framed in a mood of reverence as awful towards
Omnipotence as the austere divinity of Milton. It would be
presumption in me, however, to undertake the defence of any question
in theology; but I have not been sensible to the imputed impiety,
while I have felt in many passages influences that have their being
amid the shadows and twilights of "old religion";

"Stupendous spirits
That mock the pride of man, and people space
With life and mystical predominance."

The morning hymns and worship with which the mystery opens are grave,
solemn, and scriptural, and the dialogue which follows with Cain is
no less so: his opinion of the tree of life is, I believe, orthodox;
but it is daringly expressed: indeed, all the sentiments ascribed to
Cain are but the questions of the sceptics. His description of the
approach of Lucifer would have shone in the Paradise Lost.

A shape like to the angels,
Yet of a sterner and a sadder aspect,
Of spiritual essence. Why do I quake?
Why should I fear him more than other spirits
Whom I see daily wave their fiery swords
Before the gates round which I linger oft
In twilight's hour, to catch a glimpse of those
Gardens which are my just inheritance,
Ere the night closes o'er the inhibited walls,
And the immortal trees which overtop
The cherubim-defended battlements?
I shrink not from these, the fire-arm'd angels;
Why should I quail from him who now approaches?
Yet he seems mightier far than them, nor less
Beauteous; and yet not all as beautiful
As he hath been, or might be: sorrow seems
Half of his immortality.

There is something spiritually fine in this conception of the terror
or presentiment of coming evil. The poet rises to the sublime in
making Lucifer first inspire Cain with the knowledge of his
immortality--a portion of truth which hath the efficacy of falsehood
upon the victim; for Cain, feeling himself already unhappy, knowing
that his being cannot be abridged, has the less scruple to desire to
be as Lucifer, "mighty." The whole speech of Lucifer, beginning,

Souls who dare use their immortality,

is truly satanic; a daring and dreadful description given by
everlasting despair of the Deity.

But, notwithstanding its manifold immeasurable imaginations, Cain is
only a polemical controversy, the doctrines of which might have been
better discussed in the pulpit of a college chapel. As a poem it is
greatly unequal; many passages consist of mere metaphysical
disquisition, but there are others of wonderful scope and energy. It
is a thing of doubts and dreams and reveries--dim and beautiful, yet
withal full of terrors. The understanding finds nothing tangible;
but amid dread and solemnity, sees only a shapen darkness with
eloquent gestures. It is an argument invested with the language of
oracles and omens, conceived in some religious trance, and addressed
to spirits.


Removal to Pisa--The Lanfranchi Palace--Affair with the Guard at
Pisa--Removal to Monte Nero--Junction with Mr Hunt--Mr Shelley's

The unhappy distrusts and political jealousies of the times obliged
Lord Byron, with the Gambas, the family of the Guiccioli, to remove
from Ravenna to Pisa. In this compulsion he had no cause to
complain; a foreigner meddling with the politics of the country in
which he was only accidentally resident, could expect no deferential
consideration from the government. It has nothing to do with the
question whether his Lordship was right or wrong in his principles.
The government was in the possession of the power, and in self-
defence he could expect no other course towards him than what he did
experience. He was admonished to retreat: he did so. Could he have
done otherwise, he would not. He would have used the Austrian
authority as ill as he was made to feel it did him.

In the autumn of 1821, Lord Byron removed from Ravenna to Pisa, where
he hired the Lanfranchi palace for a year--one of those massy marble
piles which appear

"So old, as if they had for ever stood--
So strong, as if they would for ever stand!"

Both in aspect and character it was interesting to the boding fancies
of the noble tenant. It is said to have been constructed from a
design of Michael Angelo; and in the grandeur of its features
exhibits a bold and colossal style not unworthy of his genius.

The Lanfranchi family, in the time of Dante, were distinguished in
the factions of those days, and one of them has received his meed of
immortality from the poet, as the persecutor of Ugolino. They are
now extinct, and their traditionary reputation is illustrated by the
popular belief in the neighbourhood, that their ghosts are restless,
and still haunt their former gloomy and gigantic habitation.

The building was too vast for the establishment of Lord Byron, and he
occupied only the first floor.

The life he led at this period was dull and unvaried. Billiards,
conversations, reading, and occasionally writing, constituted the
regular business of the day. In the cool of the afternoon, he
sometimes went out in his carriage, oftener on horseback, and
generally amused himself with pistol practice at a five-paul piece.
He dined at half an hour after sunset, and then drove to Count
Gamba's, where he passed several hours with the Countess Guiccioli,
who at that time still resided with her father. On his return he
read or wrote till the night was far spent, or rather till the
morning was come again, sipping at intervals spirits diluted with
water, as medicine to counteract some nephritic disorder to which he
considered himself liable.

Notwithstanding the tranquillity of this course of life, he was
accidentally engaged in a transaction which threatened unpleasant
consequences, and had a material effect on his comfort. On the 21st
of March, 1822, as he was returning from his usual ride, in company
with several of his friends, a hussar officer, at full speed, dashed
through the party, and violently jostled one of them. Lord Byron,
with his characteristic impetuosity, instantly pushed forwards, and
the rest followed, and overtook the hussar. His Lordship inquired
what he meant by the insult; but for answer, received the grossest
abuse: on which he and one of his companions gave their cards, and
passed on. The officer followed, hallooing, and threatening with his
hand on his sabre. They were now near the Paggia gate. During this
altercation, a common artilleryman interfered, and called out to the
hussar, "Why don't you arrest them?--command us to arrest them."
Upon which the officer gave the word to the guard at the gate. His
Lordship, hearing the order, spurred his horse, and one of his party
doing the same, they succeeded in forcing their way through the
soldiers, while the gate was closed on the rest of the party, with
whom an outrageous scuffle ensued.

Lord Byron, on reaching his palace, gave directions to inform the
police, and, not seeing his companions coming up, rode back towards
the gate. On his way the hussar met him, and said, "Are you
satisfied?"--"No: tell me your name!"--"Serjeant-major Masi." One
of his Lordship's servants, who at this moment joined them, seized
the hussar's horse by the bridle, but his master commanded him to let
it go. The hussar then spurred his horse through the crowd, which by
this time had collected in front of the Lanfranchi palace, and in the
attempt was wounded by a pitchfork. Several of the servants were
arrested, and imprisoned: and, during the investigation of the
affair before the police, Lord Byron's house was surrounded by the
dragoons belonging to Serjeant-major Masi's troop, who threatened to
force the doors. The result upon these particulars was not just; all
Lord Byron's Italian servants were banished from Pisa; and with them
the father and brother of the Guiccioli, who had no concern whatever
in the affair. Lord Byron himself was also advised to quit the town,
and, as the Countess accompanied her father, he soon after joined
them at Leghorn, and passed six weeks at Monte Nero, a country house
in the vicinity of that city.

It was during his Lordship's residence at Monte Nero, that an event
took place--his junction with Mr Leigh Hunt--which had some effect
both on his literary and his moral reputation. Previous to his
departure from England, there had been some intercourse between them-
-Byron had been introduced by Moore to Hunt, when the latter was
suffering imprisonment for the indiscretion of his pen, and by his
civility had encouraged him, perhaps, into some degree of
forgetfulness as to their respective situations in society.--Mr Hunt
at no period of their acquaintance appears to have been sufficiently
sensible that a man of positive rank has it always in his power,
without giving anything like such a degree of offence as may be
resented otherwise than by estrangement, to inflict mortification,
and, in consequence, presumed too much to an equality with his
Lordship--at least this is the impression his conduct made upon me,
from the familiarity of his dedicatory epistle prefixed to Rimini to
their riding out at Pisa together dressed alike--"We had blue frock-
coats, white waistcoats and trousers, and velvet caps, a la Raphael,
and cut a gallant figure." I do not discover on the part of Lord
Byron, that his Lordship ever forgot his rank; nor was he a personage
likely to do so; in saying, therefore, that Mr Hunt presumed upon his
condescension, I judge entirely by his own statement of facts. I am
not undertaking a defence of his lordship, for the manner in which he
acted towards Mr Hunt, because it appears to me to have been, in many
respects, mean; but I do think there was an original error, a
misconception of himself on the part of Mr Hunt, that drew down about
him a degree of humiliation that he might, by more self-respect, have
avoided. However, I shall endeavour to give as correct a summary of
the whole affair as the materials before me will justify.

The occasion of Hunt's removal to Italy will be best explained by
quoting the letter from his friend Shelley, by which he was induced
to take that obviously imprudent step.

"Pisa, Aug. 26, 1821.

"MY DEAREST FRIEND,--Since I last wrote to you, I have been on a
visit to Lord Byron at Ravenna. The result of this visit was a
determination on his part to come and live at Pisa, and I have taken
the finest palace on the Lung' Arno for him. But the material part
of my visit consists in a message which he desires me to give you,
and which I think ought to add to your determination--for such a one
I hope you have formed--of restoring your shattered health and
spirits by a migration to these 'regions mild, of calm and serene

"He proposes that you should come, and go shares with him and me in a
periodical work to be conducted here, in which each of the
contracting parties should publish all their original compositions,
and share the profits. He proposed it to Moore, but for some reason
it was never brought to bear. There can be no doubt that the profits
of any scheme in which you and Lord Byron engage must, for various
yet co-operating reasons, be very great. As to myself, I am, for the
present, only a sort of link between you and him, until you can know
each other, and effectuate the arrangement; since (to intrust you
with a secret, which for your sake I withhold from Lord Byron)
nothing would induce me to share in the profits, and still less in
the borrowed splendour of such a partnership. You and he, in
different manners, would be equal, and would bring in a different

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