« PreviousContinue »
Every feeling hath been shaken ;
Pride, which not a world could bow,
Even my soul forsakes me now.
Words from we are vainer still;
Force their way without the will.-
Torn from every nearer tie,
More than this I scarce can die.
Just at this period a crazy novel, called Glenarvon,' made its appearance. It was supposed to be written by a lady of quality, a near relation of Lord Byron's, and to whom it was said he had in his boyhood been tenderly attached. She was, however, now a married woman-we had nearly said an old married woman—and ought to have known better than to publish, even though she had been so silly as to write, such a book as · Glenarvon. It is such puerile and frantic trash that it effectually baffles criticism. The hero is a sort of maudlin compound of genius, sensibility, and villainy. He deserves sometimes to be hanged, and sometimes only to be sent to the treadmill; while all the rest of the characters should be consigned to clean straw and dark cells. Never before “Glenarvon' was any book at once so bad and so dull. It is not because it is understood to be the authoress's intention to describe Lord Byron in the person of her hero, and between whom there is not the slightest resemblance, that we notice it; we can make all proper allowances for a lady's painting ;' but we rescue it for a moment from the oblivion into which it has so deservedly fallen, for the purpose of extracting from it some of Lord Byrou's youthful poetry. Whatever has proceeded from such a pen must be interesting; and, but for this consideration, these vers de societé would not, perhaps, be worth transcribing :
To the dir of Ils ne sont plus.'
Smooth and untroubled, through the flowery vale.
Here 'twas, at eve, near yonder tree reposing,
One still too dear first breathed his vows to thee : • Wear this,' he cried, his guileful love disclosing,
* Near to thy heart, in memory of me.' Love-cherished gift! the rose he gave is faded ;
Love's blighted flower can never bloom again!
Weep, if thy tears can wash away the stain !
Vows full of love, of innocence, and truth!
Call back the dream that blest thy early youth !
Bright, mild, and clear, thy gentle waters flow;
O’er thy soft waves the balmy zephyrs blow.
Nature in charms, to thee can make it fair :
I must not-dare not-look on thee :
It seeks, it hopes, for no relief.
'Tis sweeter far to die for thee.
None shall undo what I have done :
Yet even thy love I would resign
There are some other verses in the novel, but they are not by Lord Byron.
Lord Byron's separation from his wife made him resolve again to go abroad, and he put this resolution into practice towards the close of the year 1816. Immediately before bis departure he wrote the following little song to his friend Moore:
My boat is on the shore,
And my bark is on the sea;
Here's a double health to thee!
Here's a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those who hate;
Here's a heart for every fate.
Though the ocean roar around me,
Yet it still shall bear me on ;
It hath springs that may be won.
Were't the last drop in the well,
As I gasped upon the brink,
'Tis to thee that I would drink.
In that water, as this wine,
The libation I would pour
And a health to thee, Tom Moore !
LORD BYRON's quitting England excited a very considerable sensation; and perhaps the world, as it is called, never felt, if indeed it cau feel, a more general and sincere regret than was experienced at the cause of his self-banishment. To his intimate friends it was a source of great grief. His manners, although somewhat singular, were so delightful and fascinating as to excite an affectionate solicitude for him: not even the abstracted and melancholy moods in which he would indulge occasionally, and which gave an air of repulsiveness to his demeanour, could efface the impressions which, in more cheerful times, he never failed to make upon his associates.
Perhaps no man--certainly no poet-ever enjoyed so large a share of public as well as private estimation ; and perhaps none ever so well deserved both. His powers of conversation were of the first order, and astonished and pleased not less by their brilliancy than by their rarity. His features were admirably adapted to give force to his eloquent discourse: they were not such as could be called, by painters, strictly handsome, but they were highly pleasing, and his countenance seemed to be the faithful index of the varied feelings and passions which occupied his mind. The following quotation from a very judicious and elegant article in the Quarterly Review' is at once so happily expressed, and so true a description of Lord Byron's face and manner, that we shall be pardoned for inserting it :
• The predominating expression of his countenance was that of deep and habitual thought, which gave way to the most rapid play of features when he engaged in interesting discussion; so that a brother poet compared them to the sculpture of a beautiful alabaster vase, only seen to perfection when lighted up from within. The Aashes of mirth, gaiety, indignation, or satirical dislike, which frequently animated Lord Byron's countenance, might, during an evening's conversation, be mistaken by a stranger for the habitual expression, so easily and so happily was it formed for them all; but those who had an opportunity of studying his features for a length of time, and upon various occasions, both of rest and emotion, will agree with us that their proper language was that of melancholy. Sometimes shades of this gloom interrupted even his gayest and most happy moments, and the follow
ing verses are said to have dropped from his pen to excuse a transient expression of melancholy which overclouded the general gaiety.
“ When, from the heart where Sorrow sits,
Her dusky shadow mounts too high,
And clouds the brow, or fills the eye-
My thoughts their dungeon know too well;
And bleed within their silent cell.”
• It was impossible to behold this interesting countenance, expressive of a dejection belonging neither to the rauk, the age, nor the success of this young nobleman, without feeling an indefipable curiosity to ascertain whether it had a deeper cause than habit or constitutional temperament.'
The circumstances of the domestic disagreement which terminated in so harsh and unexpected a manner contributed not a little to draw the public attention to the subject, and it was very much the fashion to pity Lord Byron and to blame his lady, when the publication of the third canto of Childe Harold' confirmed the existing prejudice in his favour, while it added highly to his poetical reputation.
On a former occasion we have seen that Lord Byron disavowed the imputation of being himself the character he described in the hero of his poem. He did so either very seriously, or with an air of seriousDess so well affected that no one who read it could doubt his being in earnest, and that he had even been pained in the supposition which had got abroad. In the publication which he now submitted to the world he at once identifies himself with his hero, and teaches us to consider Lord Byron and Childe Harold as one and the same. first stanzas he speaks in his own person, and most unequivocally, by addressing bis infant daughter:
In the very
Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child !
Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart?
And then we parted,—not as now we part,
Awaking with a start,
The winds list up their voices : I depart,