George Gordon, Lord Byron

GEORGE GORDON, the only son of Captain John Byron, by his second wife, Miss Gordon, of Gight, and grandson of the celebrated Admiral Byron, was born in Holies Street, London, on the 22d of January, 1788. His ancestry, of which he is said to have been more proud than of having been the author of Childe Harold and Manfred, was composed of persons of distinction, but possessing much of that daring recklessness of character which so early displayed itself in the subject of our memoir. His great uncle, Lord William, to whom he succeeded, was tried for killing his relation, Mr. Chaworth, in a duel; and his father, who had caused his first wife to die of a broken heart, after having seduced her, when Marchioness of Carmarthen, became the husband of our poet's mother, as he openly avowed, for her fortune alone; after the dissipation of which, he separated from her, and died at Valenciennes, in 1791. At this time, young Byron resided, with his mother, at Aberdeen, where in November, 1792, he was sent to a day school; but, according to his own account, 'learned little there, except to repeat by rote the first lesson of monosyllables.' After remaining a year in this school, he was placed with a clergyman, named Ross, under whom, he says, he made astonishing progress; and observes, that the moment he could read, his grand passion was history. His next tutor was named Paterson; with him, he adds, began Latin in Ruddiman's grammar, and continued till I went to the grammar-school, where I threaded all the classes to the fourth, when I was recalled to England by the demise of my uncle.

The anecdotes which are told of him at this time, display his temper in an unfavorable light, both in his infancy and boyhood. Mr. Moore relates, that whilst yet in petticoats, being angrily reprimanded by his nurse for having soiled or torn a new frock, in which he had just been dressed, he got into one of his 'silent rages' (as he himself has described them), seized the frock with both his hands, rent it from top to bottom, and stood, in sullen stillness, setting his censurer and her wrath at defiance. The same authority tells us, that once, in returning home from school at Aberdeen,

Byron fell in with a boy who had, on some former occasion, insulted him, but had then got off unpunished; little Byron, however, at the time, promising to pay him off' whenever they should meet again. Accordingly, on this second encounter, though there were some other boys to take his opponent's part, he succeeded in inflicting upon him a hearty beating. On his return home, breathless, the servant inquired what he had been about, and was answered by him, with a mixture of rage and humor, that he had been paying a debt, by beating a boy according to promise; for that he was a Byron and would not belie his motto. Other anecdotes are told of him, which show him to have been passionate and resentful to that degree, as to leave it doubtful whether the description of him as 'a malignant imp' is not more applicable to his early years, than that of a lively, warmhearted, and high-spirited boy.' Before closing our account of his infancy, we should not omit to state that he suffered much from the malformation of one of his feet, which gave him much pain and mortification throughout his life. Even when a child, an allusion to this infirmity so provoked him, that he once struck at a person who remarked it, with a little whip which he held in his hand, exclaiming impatiently, as his eyes flashed fire, Dinka speak of it! ' He himself says, in some memoranda of his early days, that he never felt greater horror and humiliation than when his mother, in one of her fits of passion, called him a ' lame brat:' and it is certain, that he always felt it as a sort of ignominy, notwithstanding Mr. Moore's assertion that in afterlife, 'he could sometimes talk indifferently, and even jestingly, of this lameness.' His attachment to Mary Duff commenced when he was only eight years of age; but, though, eight years afterwards, the account of her marriage with another, 'nearly threw him into convulsions,' and for a while embittered his existence, it was, he adds, the recollection, not the attachment, which afterwards recurred to me so forcibly.' This affection, however, was not without its influence upon his mind, and probably tended to increase that love of contemplation and solitude, which he is said to have sometimes carried to a dangerous excess among the mountainous scenery of the highlands.

In 1798, he prepared to quit Scotland for Newstead, in consequence of his accession to his family title, of which, perhaps, he was not a little proud; for his mother having said to him, some time in the previous year, whilst perusing a newspaper, that she hoped to have the pleasure of some time or other reading his speeches in the house of commons; he replied, I hope not; if you read any speeches of mine, it will be in the house Of lords.' On his arrival at Newstead, he continued his studies under Mr. Rogers, a schoolmaster in the neighborhood, and was also attended by a quack of the name of Lavender, who had undertaken to cure the defect in his foot. Of this man he had a great abhorrence, and took every opportunity of ridiculing him; and, about the same time, the first symptom of his predilection for rhyming showed itself in four lines of doggerel, respecting an old woman who had given him some offense. In 1799, he was removed to London; and at the suggestion of his guardian, the Earl of Carlisle, placed under the care of Dr. Baillie, who also attended him on his subsequent removal to the school of Dr. Glennie, at Dulwich, where he appears to have gained the esteem both of his master and 'schoolfellows. His reading in history and poetry, says Dr. Glennie, was far beyond the usual standard of his age; and he showed an intimate accquaintance with the historical parts of Holy Scriptures ' an assertion which serves to confirm the subsequent declaration of Byron himself, that he was a great reader and admirer of the Old Testament, and had read it through and through before he was eight years old. ' The progress he was rapidly making under Dr. Glennie was, unfortunately, interrupted by the foolish indulgence of his mother, who took him home so frequently, and behaved with so much violence when remonstrated with on the subject, that lord Carlisle determined upon removing his ward to Harrow, whither he was sent in his fourteenth year.

In 1800, he had, as he expresses himself, made his first dash into poetry; the ebullition,' lie adds of a passion for my first cousin, Margaret Parker, one of the most beautiful of evanescent beings.' This was succeeded by his attachment for Miss Mary Chaworth, whom he used to meet during the Harrow vacations; she was two years older than himself, and does not appear to have given sufficient encouragement to his addresses, to warrant his declaration that she jilted him:' especially as she was, at the time of their first acquaintance, engaged to Mr. Musters, whom she subsequently married. There is no doubt, however, that his affection for the lady (who is now dead) was sincere, and that the loss of her had an embittering influence upon his future life. A person, who was present when Miss Chaworth's marriage was first announced to him, has thus described the scene that occurred Byron, I have some news for you,' said his mother. Well, what is it?" Take out our handkerchief first, you will want. it.' Nonsense!' '" Take out your handkerchief, I say.' He did so, to humor her. Miss Chaworth is married.' An expression very peculiar, impossible to describe, passed over his pale face, and he hurried his handkerchief into his pocket; saying with an affected air of coldness and nonchalance, Is that all?' Why, I expected,' said his mother, you would have been plunged into grief.' He made no reply, and soon began to talk about something else.

This took place in 1805, the year of his leaving Harrow, which he quitted with the character of a plain-spoken, clever and undaunted, but idle boy. His master, Dr. Drury, for whom he always entertained respect and affection, spoke of him as one who might be led by a silken string to a point, rather than by a cable;' and being asked his opinion of his pupil, after some continuance at Harrow, by lord Carlisle, he replied, that he had talents which would add lustre to his rank.' Though generally, however, reputed to be too indolent to excel in school, it seems that he collected a vast fund of information, which was little suspected by those who saw him only when idle, in mischief, or at play. The truth is,' he says, that I read eating, read in bed, read when no one else read, and had read all sorts of reading since I was five years old, though I never met with a review till I was in my nineteenth year.' He was not, at first, liked by his schoolfellows; but with some of them he ultimately formed friendships, to which he always reverted with a melancholy delight, broken, as most of them were, by his own waywardness, or the peculiar circumstances which attended his subsequent career.

His intrepidity was shown in several pugilistic combats, many of which he undertook in the defense and protection of other boys. One of his schoolfellows says, that he has seen him fight by the hour like a Trojan, and stand up, against the disadvantages of his lameness, with all the spirit of an ancient combatant. On the same person's reminding him of his battle with Pitt, he replied, You are mistaken, I think; it must have been with Rice-pudding Morgan, or Lord Jocelyn, or one of the Douglases, or George Raynsford, or Pryce (with whom I had two conflicts), or with Moses Moore (the clod), or with somebody else, and not with Pitt; for with all the above-named, and other worthies of the fist, had I an interchange of black eyes and bloody noses, at various and sundry periods. However, it may have happened, for all that.' He also told Captain Medwin, in allusion to two of his actions at Harrow, that he fought Lord Calthorpe for writing D - d atheist' under his name; and prevented the school-room from being burnt, during a rebellion, by pointing out to the boys the names of their fathers and grandfathers on the walls.

In 1805, he was entered of Trinity College, Cambridge, which he describes as a new and heavy-hearted scene to him; ' adding, it was one of the deadliest and heaviest feelings of his life, to feel that he was no longer a boy. His chief ambition seems to have been to attain the reputation of a rake and a spendthrift; and his principal fear, lest he should become too fat, to prevent which, he took as much violent exercise as his naturally delicate constitution would allow. Among other of his eccentricities, for which he was more remarkable than his profligacy, though he seemed to take a pride in exaggerating the latter, it is said that he kept a bear, with the intention, as he observed, of training it up for a degree. The time not passed by him at the university, he at first spent with his mother, at Southwell, but her violent temper, which his own was not calculated to appease, soon led to their separation; and he afterwards resided in London, Little Hampton, Harrowgate, and other places of fashionable resort. At this period, he is said to have been remarkably bashful, though he subsequently so far overcame his shyness, as to take a prominent part in some private theatricals at Southwell. In November, 1807, his Hours of Idleness was printed at Newark; and, in the following year, appeared the memorable criticism upon them in The Edinburgh Review, which was decidedly unjust, though few, perhaps, will agree with the subject of our memoir, that these poems were as good as any he ever produced. The impression which the criticism above-mentioned made upon our poet, is described, by one who witnessed his fierce looks of defiance, during a first perusal of it, as fearful and sublime. Among the less sentimental effects of this review upon his mind, says Mr. Moore, he used to mention that, on the day he read it, he drank three bottles of claret to his own share after dinner; that nothing, however, relieved him till he had given vent to his indignation in rhyme and that after the first twenty lines, he felt himself considerably better.' During the progress of the satire, he passed his time alternately at Newstead, London, and Brighton, where he took lessons in boxing, and appeared in public with a mistress who accompanied him, dressed in boy's clothes, and whom he introduced as his young brother.

On coming of age, in 1809, he apprised Lord Carlisle of his wish to take his seat in the house of peers; and to the formal reply of the earl, and his refusal to afford any information respecting the marriage of our poet's grandfather, is owing the bitterness with which he attacked the former in his English Bards. He at length took his seat on the 13th of March, and went down to the house for that purpose, accompanied only by Mr. Dallas, whom he had accidentally met. He was received,' says that gentleman, in one of the ante-chambers, by some of the officers in attendance, with whom he settled respecting the fees he had to pay: one of them went to apprise the lord-chancellor of his being there, and soon returned for him. There were very few persons in the house. Lord Eldon was going through some ordinary business. When Lord Byron entered, I thought he looked still paler than before; and he certainly wore a countenance in which mortification was mingled with, but subdued by, indignation. He passed the woolsack without looking round, and advanced to the table, where the proper officer was attending to administer the oaths. When he had gone through them, the chancellor quitted his seat, and went towards him with a smile, putting out his hand warmly to welcome him and, though I did not catch his words, I saw that he paid him some compliment. This was all thrown away upon Lord Byron, who made a stiff bow, and put the tips of his fingers into Lord Eldon's hand.

The Chancellor did not press a welcome so received, but resumed his seat; while Lord Byron carelessly seated himself, for a few minutes, on one of the empty benches to the left of the throne, usually occupied by the lords in opposition. When, on his joining me, I expressed what I had felt, he said, "If I had shaken hands heartily, he would have set me down for one of his party; but I will have nothing to do with any of them, on either side: I have taken my seat, and now I will go abroad." We returned to St. James' Street, but he did not recover his spirits,' Another account states that he offended the chancellor by replying to him, when he apologized for requiring the evidence of Admiral Byron's marriage, as being a part of his duty: Your lordship was exactly like Tom Thumb; you did your duty, and nothing more.'

Shortly after he had taken his seat, his satire was published anonymously, of which, though the success, at the time, highly gratified him, he, some years afterwards, wrote, Nothing but the consideration of its being the property of another, prevents me from consigning this miserable record of misplaced and indiscriminate anger to the flames.' Before a second edition was published, he left England, accompanied by Mr. Hobhouse, under the influence of those melancholy feelings, which he has described in the early part of the first canto of Childe Harold, in which poem a pretty accurate account of his travels is given, during his two years' residence abroad. Almost every event he met with, he has made subservient to his muse, particularly the incident on which is founded his Giaour, and it was during this tour that he swam from Sestos to Abydos.

In July, 1811, he returned to England, and being visited by Mr. Dallas, put into his hands a Paraphrase of Horace's Art of Poetry, expressing a wish that it should be printed under the latter's superintendence; but he mentioned nothing of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, until Mr. Dallas expressed his surprise that he should have written so little during his absence. He then told his friend that he had occasionally written short poems, besides a great many stanzas in Spenser's measure, relative to the countries he had visited; and, at the same time, handed them to Mr. Dallas, observing, that they were not worth troubling him with. This gentleman had no sooner perused the poem, than he endeavored to persuade the author of its superiority, in every respect, to the Paraphrase of Horace; but it was not until after much real or affected reluctance, that he consented to the publication of Childe Harold, in preference to that of the former. He had scarcely made up his mind on the subject, before he was called to Newstead, by the illness of his mother, who, however, died a short time before his arrival, on the 1st of August. He is said to have been sincerely affected at her loss; and, on being found sitting near the corpse of his mother, by Mrs. Byron's waiting-woman, he, in answer to her remonstrance with him for so giving way to grief, exclaimed, bursting into tears, I had but one friend in the world, and she is gone ' His subsequent conduct, however, had an eccentricity about it, which brought the sincerity of his grief into question On the morning of the funeral,' says Mr. Moore, having declined following the remains himself, he stood looking, from the abbey door, at the procession, till the whole had moved off; then turning to young Rushton, who was the only person left besides himself, he desired him to fetch the sparring gloves, and proceeded to his usual exercise with the boy. He was silent and abstracted all the time; and, as if from an effort to get the better of his feelings, threw more violence, Rushton thought, in his blows than was his habit; but, at last, - the struggle seeming too much for him, - he flung away the gloves, and retired to his room.'

A few months after the death of his mother, a correspondence took place between himself and Mr. Moore, the poet, of whose duel with Mr. Jeffrey, Byron had given a ludicrous, but untrue, account in his English Bards. After several letters of an explanatory, rather than hostile, nature, had passed on both sides, and in which each exhibited a manly and forbearing spirit, they became mutual friends, and remained so ever afterwards. On the 27th of February, 1812, Lord Byron made his first speech in the house of lords, on the subject of the Nottingham Framebreaking Bill, and appears to have pleased both himself and his hearers. Mr. Dallas, who met him coming out of the house, says, that he was greatly elated; and, after repeating some of the compliments which had been paid him, concluded by saying, that he had, by his speech, given the best advertisement for Childe Harold's Pilgrimage,' which was two days afterwards published. The effect upon the public, as his biographer observes, was electric; as he has himself said, in his memoranda, he awoke one morning, and found himself famous.' The first edition of his work was disposed of instantly; Childe Harold,' and Lord Byron,' were the theme of every tongue; the most eminent literati of the day, including many whom he had attacked in his satire, left their names at his door; upon his table lay the epistolary tribute of the statesman and philosopher, the billet of some incognita, or the pressing note of some fair leader of fashion; and, in fine, he found himself among the illustrious crowds of high life, the most distinguished object.' The sum of L600 which he received for the copyright of the poem, he presented to Mr. Dallas; observing, he would never receive money for his writings; ' a resolution which he subsequently abandoned. Among other results of the fame he had acquired by his Childe Harold, was his introduction to the prince regent, which took place at a ball, at the request of his royal highness, whose conversation so fascinated the poet, that had it not been, says Mr. Dallas, for an accidental deferring of the next levee, he bade fair to become a visitor at Carlton House, if not a complete courtier.

In the spring of 1813, he published, anonymously, his poem on waltzing; and as it was not received with the applause he anticipated, did not avow himself to be its author. In the same year, appeared The Giaour, and The Bride of Abydos; the former of which reached a fifth edition in four months. Mr. Murray offered him a thousand guineas for the copyright of the two poems, but he still refused to derive any pecuniary benefit from his writings. In 1814, his Corsair was published; the copyright of which he presented to Mr. Dallas. Fourteen thousand copies of the poem were sold in one day; but the popularity which this and his other works had procured for him, began to be lessened by his verses to the Princess Charlotte, and by a certain peculiarity of conduct which was looked upon as more indecorous than eccentric. Under these circumstances, he was persuaded to marry, and, in consequence, proposed to Miss Milbanke, the daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke but was at first met with a polite refusal. He was however, not so much mortified as not to make her a second offer, though he says, in his memoranda, that a friend strongly advised him against doing so; observing that Miss Milbanke had, at present, no fortune, and that his embarrassed affairs would not allow him to marry without one; that she was, moreover, a learned lady, which would not at all suit him.' He then agreed that his friend should write a proposal for him to another lady, and a refusal being the consequence, he said, 'you see, after all, Miss Milbanke is to be the person: I will write to her: which he accordingly did, and was accepted. His marriage took place at Seaham, on the 2d of January, 1815; a day to which he seems to have always reverted with a shudder, and on which he, in reality, perhaps, experienced those emotions so touchingly described in his beautiful poem of The Dream. Superstition had, no doubt, some influence over his mind on the occasion; for, in addition to the circumstances hereafter related in his own words, he fancied, a short time previous to his marriage, that he had seen, at Newstead, the ghost of the monk which was supposed to haunt the abbey, and to appear when misfortune impended over the mansion, - a legend which he was versified in the sixteenth canto of Don Juan. His own memoranda relative to his union form an interesting prelude to its unhappy consequences. 'It had been predicted by Mrs. Williams,' says he 'that twenty seven was to be the dangerous age for me. The fortune-telling which was right: it was destined to prove so. I shall never forget the 2d of January. 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 Milbanke. The re 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 still. After the ordeal was over, we set off for a country seat of Sir Ralph's; and I was surprised at the arrangements for the journey, and somewhat out of humor to find a 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 the prophecy, 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 insult. Our honeymoon was not all sunshine; it had its clouds; and Hobhouse has some letters which would serve to explain the rise and fall in the barometer; but it was never down at zero.'

About ten months after his marriage, the birth of his daughter took place; an event that was, in a few weeks, followed by a total separation of the parents. So many various reasons have been assigned for this step, by the friends of either party, and so much more than has yet come to light, has been insinuated by Lady Byron herself, that the real cause of their continued disunion still remains a mystery. Our poet has avowed, both in his conversation and correspondence, that, during his residence with his wife, he had nothing to complain of; and it was only when he found her unwilling to resume her connection with him that he gave vent to that bitterness of spirit with which he alludes to her in some of his poems. Mr. Moore speaks with all evident bias in favor of the subject of his biography; but whatever inferences may be drawn from the sacrifice of the papers relating to this affair, at the request of Lady Byron's family, - and the previous request of the lady herself to her husband, that he would not publish them, on his sending them to her for perusal, which she declined, - it is clear, from the facts that have as yet been made public, that the conduct of Lord Byron was at least as culpable, as that of his wife appears, in the absence of further explanation, to have been extraordinary. Many excuses, however, are to be made for the subject of our memoir, who was most unwarrantably calumniated on the occasion, and publicly taxed with crimes, of which conjugal infidelity was not the least, though, perhaps, at the time of its imputation, the most unjustifiable. The ostensible cause of their separation was the involvement of his lordship's affairs, and his connexion with the managing committee of Drury Lane, which led him into a course of life unsuitable to the domestic habits of Lady Byron. 'My income, at this period,' says his own account of the affair, '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 £10,000 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 arangements had been made with my creditors.'

The lady, however, expressed her determination never to return to him, in a letter which had been preceded by one, beginning, as he ludicrously says, 'dear duck!"You asked me,' he says in a communication to Captain Medwin, 'if no cause was assigned for this sudden resolution? - if I formed no conjecture about the cause? I will tell you: I have prejudices about women; I do not like to see them eat. Rousseau makes Julie un peu gourmande; but that is not at all according to my taste. I do not like to be interrupted when I am writing. Lady Byron did not attend to these whims of mine. The only harsh thing I ever remember saying to her was, one evening, shortly before our parting. I was standing before the fire, ruminating upon the embarrassment of my affairs, and other annoyances, when Lady Byron came up to me, and said, " Byron, am I in your way? " to which I replied, " D-bly " I was sorry, and reproached myself for the expression; but it escaped me unconsciously, involuntarily: I hardly knew what I said.'

His lordship's next poems were, Lara, The Siege of Corinth, and Parisina; the two last of which appeared in February, 1816; and, in the following April, he again left England, having previously published The Sketch, and his celebrated Fare-thee-well. He set out upon his travels in no very dejected state of mind, which may be accounted for by an observation in one of his letters, that agitation or contest of any kind gave a rebound to his spirits, and set him up for the time.' After reaching France, he crossed the field of Waterloo, and proceeded by the Rhine, to Switzerland, where he became acquainted with Shelley; and, whilst at Geneva, began the composition of a poem founded on his recent separation; but hearing that his wife was ill, he threw the manuscript into the fire. From Switzerland he proceeded to Italy, where he resided principally at Venice, and transmitted thence to London his third and fourth cantos of Childe Harold, the Prisoner of Chillon, and other poems, Manfred, and The Lament of Tasso. He also wrote, in that city, his Ode to Venice, and Beppo, which he is said to have finished at a sitting. His mode of living is accurately described in his own letters from Italy, which show him to have been equally candid and shameless in the confession of his amours. The first connexion he formed was with the wife of a linen-draper, in whose house he lodged; and highly censurable, says Mr. Moore, as was his course of life, while under the roof of this woman, 'it was venial, in comparison with the strange, head-long career of license, to which he subsequently so unrestrainedly and defyingly abandoned himself.' It will be unnecessary, after this admission from his most partial biographer, to say more than, that, after a gross and de grading course of libertinism, his desires were contracted into a passion for the Countess Guiccioli; with whom he first became acquainted in the April of 1819, and, in a few months, he became her acknowledged paramour. In the same year he was visited, at Venice, by Mr. Moore, to whom he made a present of the memoirs, which have been before alluded to. He brought them in, says Mr. Moore, one day, in a white leather bag, and holding it up, said, look here; this would be worth something to Murray, though you, I dare say, would not give sixpence for What is it?' - ‘ My life and adventures: - it is not a thing, that can be published during my life-time, but you may have it, if you like, - there, do whatever you please with it.' In giving the bag, continues Mr. Moore, he added, you may show it to any of our friends you think worthy of it.'

The Countess Guiccioli having gone back to Ravenna, at her husband's desire, lord Byron was about to return to England, when a letter from his inamorata changed his mind, and he resumed his connexion with her, on her separation from her husband, which took place, on an understanding that she should in future reside with her father, Count Gamba. She accordingly, in July 1820, removed from Ravenna to the count's villa, a distance of about fifteen miles from the city, where our poet now took up his abode, visiting Madam Guiccioli once or twice in a month. After he had been about a twelvemonth at Ravenna, the state of the country began to render it unsafe for him to remain there any longer; and the Gambas (the father and brother of the Countess Guiccioli) having been exiled, he was induced to remove with them to Pisa, in the autumn of 1821. It appears, that he was himself suspected of having secretly joined the Carbonari; but, though such was the fact, and he had received warnings to discontinue his forest rides, he, as he observes, was not to be bullied,' and did not quit Ravenna till he had shown the authorites he was not afraid of remaining. His poetical productions, within the three last years, were, Mazeppa, his tragedies of Marino Faliero, the Two Foscari, and Sardanapalus, The Prophecy of Dante, Cain, and several cantos of Don Juan, the sixteenth canto of which he completed at Pisa. At this place he also wrote Werner, The Deformed Transformed, Heaven and Earth, and the celebrated Vision of Judgment; the two last of which appeared in The Liberal, the joint production of himself, Mr. Shelley, and Mr. Leigh Hunt, who had joined his lordship at Pisa. Of this periodical it is unnecessary to say more, in this, place, than that it failed after the fourth number, and gave rise to a prosecution against the publisher, on account of The Vision of Judgment.

An affray with some soldiers of Pisa, who, for some reason or other, had attempted to arrest our poet, and some other Englishmen, induced him to remove, with the Gambas, to Leghorn, and, subsequently, to Geneva, where he took up his residence, in September, 1822. The fervor of his attachment had now, probably, declined towards the Countess Guiccioli; and, anxious for more stirring scenes than those in which he had hitherto mixed, he engaged in a correspondence with the leaders of the insurrection in Greece, which ended in his departure for that country, in the summer of 1823. He has been censured by some for quitting Italy without having made a provision for his mistress, but it seems that she had refused to accept of any upon what terms they parted is doubtful; for according to Mr. Galt, a friend of his was told, by the lady herself, that she had not come to hate lord Byron, but she feared more than loved him.' Her brother, however, Count Gamba, accompanied his lordship to Cephalonia, where he equipped forty Suliotes to assist in the defense of Missolonghi, and undertook to provide a loan of L12,000 for the equipment of a fleet against the Turks.

In the beginning of January 1824, he entered Missolonghi, where the inhabitants, who hailed his coming as that of a Messiah, received him with enthusiastic demonstrations of respect and applause. He began by attempting to induce the Greeks to a more civilized system of warfare than had been lately carried on; and, with this view, he not only personally rescued a Turk from some Greek sailors, on the very day of his landing, but released several prisoners in the town, and sent them back to Prevesa, in the hope that it would beget a similar mode of treatment towards the captives in the hands of the Turks. He then formed a brigade of Stiliotes, five hundred of whom he took into his pay; and 'burning,' says Colonel Stanhope, with military ardor and chivalry, prepared to lead them to Lepanto.' The insubordination, however, among the troops, and the differences that hourly arose amid the half-famished and ill-accoutred garrison, rendered this step impracticable, and threw him into a state of feverish irritation, that destroyed his self-possession at a time when it was most necessary to the cause he was struggling to serve. An attack of epilepsy was the con sequence of this state of mind, and on his recovery, he was strongly urged to remove, for a while, from the marshy and deleterious air of Missolonghi. This he indignantly refused to do; I will remain here,' he said, to Captain Parry, until Greece is secure against the Turks, or till she has fallen under their power. All my income shall be spent in her service; but, unless driven by some great necessity, I will not touch a farthing of the sum intended for my sister's children. When Greece is secure against external enemies, I will leave the Greeks to settle their government as they like. One service more, and an eminent service it will be, I think I may perform for them. You Parry, shall have a schooner built for me, or I will buy a vessel; the Greeks shall invest me With the character of their ambassador, or agent: I will go to the United States, and procure that free and enlightened government to set the example of recognizing the federation of Greece as an independent state. This done, England must follow the example, and Greece will then enter into all her rights as a member of the great commonwealth of Christian Europe.'

This was the last ebullition of a mind which was now tottering to its final decadence; though it occasionally broke out in those meteor-like flashes, which had belonged to its early vigor. On the 12th of April, a fever, of whose premonitory symptoms he had not been sufficiently heedful, confined him to his bed, and his physician, Dr. Bruno, proposed bleeding him, as the only means of saving his life. This, however, he repeatedly refused; declaring, that he had only a common cold, and that he would not permit the doctor to bleed him for the mere purpose of getting the reputation of curing his disease. At length, on the 14th, after some controversy among the physicians, who now all saw the necessity of bleeding, he consented to the operation; and also on the 16th, saying as he stretched out his arm, I fear they know nothing about my disorder; but, here, take my arm, and do whatever you like.' On the 17th, his countenance changed, and he became slightly delirious; he complained that the want of sleep would drive him mad; and,' he exclaimed to his valet, Fletcher, I would ten times sooner shoot myself than be mad; for I am not afraid of dying - I am more fit to die than people imagine.' It was not, however, till the 18th, that he began to think himself in danger, when he called Fletcher to his bed-side, and bid him receive his last instructions. 'Shall I fetch pen, ink, and paper? ' said the valet, as he approached; Oh, my God! no; ' was his reply; you will lose too much time, and I have it not to spare.' He then exclaimed, Oh! my poor dear child! - my dear Ada could I have but seen her give her my blessing.' And, after muttering something unintelligibly, he suddenly raised his voice, and said, 'Fletcher, now, if you do not execute every order which I have given you, I will torment you here after, if possible.' The valet replying that he had not understood one word of what his lordship had been saying, Oh, my God?' he exclaimed, then all is lost, for it is now too late, and all is over: yet, as you say, God's will, not mine, be done - but, I will try to my wife! my child! my sister! - you know all - you must say all - you know my wishes.' Here his words became unintelligible. Stimulants were now, in direct opposition to the opinion of Dr. Bruno, administered to him, after taking which, he said, must sleep now,' and never spoke again. For twenty four hours he lay in a state of lethargy, with the rattles occasionally in his throat; and at six o'clock in the evening of the 19th, an exclamation of Fletcher, who saw him open and then shut his eyes, without moving hand or foot, announced that his master was no more.

The death of lord Byron created a mournful sensation in all parts of the civilized world; his failings were forgotten in his recent struggles for the delivery of Greece, and one universal sound of admiration and regret was echoed throughout Europe. The authorities of Missolonghi paid every token of respect to his memory that reverence could suggest, and before his remains were deposited in their final resting place, some of the most celebrated men of the present century had, in, glowing terms, expressed their sense of his merits. His body after having been brought to England, and refused interment in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, was conveyed to Hucknell church, near Newstead, in conformity to a wish of the poet, that his dust might be mingled with his mother's. As the procession passed through the streets of London, a sailor was observed walking, uncovered, near the hearse, and on being asked what he was doing there, replied, that he had served lord Byron in the Levant, and had come to pay his last respects to his remains; a simple but emphatic testimony,' observes Mr. Galt, to the sincerity of that regard which his lordship often inspired, and which, with more steadiness, he might always have commanded.'

The character of lord Byron has, of late years, been so frequently and elaborately discussed, that a lengthened dissertation upon it, in this place would be equally tedious and superfluous. Its best development is furnished by his memoirs, and having read these, we may, without fear of controversy, come to the conclusion, that in regard to his relation to society he was neither a great nor a good man. Had he been desirous of becoming so, it was not impossible for him to have succeeded; the path of rectitude was not a greater mystery to him than to other men; and the metaphysical subtlety that has been employed to prove him the possessor of high and virtuous principles, only shows how far he has diverged from the track to which his panegyrists would wish to restore him. It has been said, that he was not driven to profligacy by inclination, but was goaded into it by the world's attributing to him vices of which he was not guilty, but which he in consequence, out of scorn and defiance, chose to commit. I took,' he himself says, my gradation in the vices with great promptitude, but they were not to my taste; I could not be a libertine without disgust; and yet this very disgust, and my heart thrown back upon itself, threw me into excesses, perhaps, more fatal than those from which I shrank.' This is a metaphysical apology, calculated, perhaps, to mystify the judgment, and cajole the sympathies, of a portion of mankind, towards him by whom it is put forth; but, surely, it is nothing more than the reckless avowal of a perverted and a depraved mind, too indolent, too weak, or too proud, to adopt any other mode of blunting the sting of one vice, than by plunging into another still more odious. We confess we are not among those who see in the circumstances of his lordship's life sufficient reason for that waywardness of mind and conduct, of which his poetical and moral character form so singular a combination; and from which, after all, he only averts our contempt, by investing it with an aspect that disdains our pity. Lord Byron is not the only sensitive young man who has entered upon life with blighted hopes, but it is doubtful whether the remembrance .of them would be accepted as an apology for a similar career to that of his lordship, even though the sufferer possessed not the faculty of venting his anguish in verse, the opportunity of drowning it in dissipation, or the means and leisure of softening it by travel and amusement.

The subject of our memoir, however, was not without redeeming qualities: he was brave, generous and benevolent; but he was also passionate, disingenuous, and resentful; and more ready to inflict a wound, than to submit to one himself. He was sensitive to a painful degree, both in his sentiments, and his feelings; but, though he writhed under an attack upon either, his pride hindered him from showing what he suffered, even when such emotions proceeded from impulses the most honorable to human nature. He certainly took pleasure in showing the dark side of his character to the world; for those who were admitted to an unreserved intimacy with him, give indubitable testimony of his possessing, in a very eminent degree, all the social and companionable qualities, a heart exquisitely alive to the kindness of others towards himself, and a hand unhesitatingly prompt in complying with the supplications of distress. There is, indeed, no reason to doubt his own allegation (for falsehood was not one of his characteristics) when he says, If salvation is to be bought by charity, I have given more to my fellow-creatures in this life, than I now possess. I never in my life, gave a mistress so much as I have some times given a poor honest man in distress.' Captain Medwin describes him as the best of masters, and as being perfectly adored by his servants, to whose families and children he also extended an affectionate kindness. His habits, in the latter part of his life, were regular and temperate, even to ascetic abstinence he seldom ate meat or drank wine, living chiefly upon biscuits, coffee, eggs, fish, vegetables, and soda water, of which he has been known to drink fifteen bottles in a night. Riding, swimming, and pistol-shooting, were his favorite amusements; and one of three things which he used to pride himself upon, was his ability to snuff out a candle with a bullet, at twenty yards distance , - the other two were, his feat of swimming across the Hellespont, and being the author of a poem (The Corsair), of which fourteen thousand copies were sold in one day. He had a great partiality for children; and, besides the affection he always manifested for his child Ada, he is said to have felt severely the loss of a natural daughter, born in 1817, and who died at five years of age. Prejudice, affectation, and 'vanity, displayed themselves in many parts of his conduct; he would talk of avoiding Shakespeare, lest he should be thought to owe him any thing; and delighted in the addition of Noel to his name, because, as he said, Bonaparte and he were the only public persons whose initials were the same; peculiarities which induced Mr. Hazlitt to call him a sublime coxcomb.' His pride of birth we have before alluded to: it would probably have been somewhat diminished, had he been aware of the singular fact of a baton sinister being in the escutcheon of his family. Though he professed to despise the opinion of the world, no man was a greater slave to it, in some respects, than himself. Speaking of duelling, he would say, we must act according to usages; any man will, and must fight, when necessary - even without a motive.' He was himself concerned in many duels, as second, but only in two as principal; one was with Mr. Hobhouse, before he became intimate with him. Of his person he was particularly vain, and it was certainly of superior order; he was about five feet eight and a half inches in height, with a high forehead, adorned with fine, curling chesnut hair; teeth, says an Italian authoress, which resemble pearls; hands as beautiful as if they had been the works of art eyes of the azure color of the heavens; cheeks delicately tinged with the hue of the pale rose; and withal, a countenance, in which the expression of an extraordinary mind was fascinatingly conspicuous.

The religious sentiments of Lord Byron appear to have been much misrepresented: I am no bigot to infidelity,' he says, in one of his letters, and did not expect that, because I doubted the immortality of man, I should be charged with denying the existence of a God.' Mr. Moore having suspected that Mr. Shelley swayed his lordship's opinions, the latter writes, pray, assure Mr. Moore that I have not the smallest influence over lori Byron in this particular; if I had, I certainly should employ it to eradicate from his great mind the delusions of Christianity, which, in spite of his reason, seem perpetually to recur, and to lay in ambush for the hours of sickness and distress.' It is doubtful, however, though he educated his natural daughter in the Catholic faith, and he himself observed some of its ceremonies, whether he was a believer in the tenets of Christianity. He perceived and needed the consolation to be derived from a sincere adoption of its creed, but his intellectual pride would not suffer him to prostrate his reason at the humiliating shrine of faith.

The following anecdotes are interesting, and, upon the whole, favorable illustrations of the paradoxical character of lord Byron: - A young lady of talent being reduced to great hardships on account of her family, came to the resolution of calling on lord Byron, at his apartments in the Albany, for the purpose of soliciting his subscription to a volume of poems. Having no knowledge of him, except from his works, she entered his room with diffidence, but soon found courage to state her request, which she did with simplicity and delicacy. He listened with attention, and, when she had done speaking, began to converse with her in so gentle and fascinating a manner, that she hardly perceived he had been writing, until he put a slip of paper into her hand, saying it was his subscription; but,' added he, we are both young, and the world is very censorious; and so, if I were to take any active part in procuring subscribers to your poems, I fear it would do you harm rather than good.' The young lady, on looking at the paper, found it a check for £50. During his residence at Venice, the house of a shoemaker, who had a large family, being destroyed by fire, lord Byron ordered a new habitation to be built at his own expense, and presented the tradesman with a sum equal in value to the whole of his loss. Whilst at Metaxata, in the island of Cephalonia, hearing of several persons having been buried under an embankment which had fallen in, he immediately hastened to the spot, accompanied by his physician. After some of their companions had been extricated, the laborers becoming alarmed for themselves, refused to dig further, when he himself seized a spade, and, by his exertions, assisted by the peasantry, succeeded in saving two more persons from certain death. One of his household having subjected him to much perplexity by his amorous propensities, he hit upon the following means for curing them: A young Suliote of the guard being dressed up like a woman ' was instructed to attract the notice of the gay Lothario, who, taking the bait, was conducted by the supposed female to one of lord Byron's apartments, where he was almost terrified out of his senses by the sudden appearance of an enraged husband, provided for the occasion. The following anecdote shows how jealous he was of title: - an Italian apothecary having sent him, one day, a packet of medicines addressed to Monsieur Byron, he indignantly sent the physic back to learn better manners. His coat of arms was, according to Leigh Hunt, suspended over the foot of his bed; and even when a schoolboy at Dulwich, so little disguised were his high notions of rank, that his companions used to call him the Old English Baron. When residing at Mitylene, he portioned eight young girls very liberally, and even danced with them at their marriage feast; he gave a cow to one man, horses to another, and silk to several girls who lived by weaving. He also bought a new boat for a fisherman who had lost his own in a gale; and he often gave Greek Testaments to the poor children. At Ravenna, he was so much beloved by the poor people, that his influence over them was dreaded by the government and, indeed, wherever he resided, his generosity and benevolence appear to have been eminently conspicuous.

Of the merits so universally acknowledged of lord Byron, as a poet, little need be said; in originality of conception, depth and vigor of thought, boldness of imagination, and power of expression, he is unrivaled. His most sublime performances are Manfred, Childe Harold, Heaven and Earth, and Cain; the first of these pieces has been highly commended by Goethe, who pronounces some parts of it superior to some of the productions of Shakespeare. His great and favorable art lies in his portraiture of the human character, thrown back upon itself by satiety, conscious of its own wreck, yet disdaining penitence for the vices it acknowledges, unable to find relief in itself, and scorning to derive consolation from others. In this respect, he surpasses Milton, who has only depicted the horrors of remorse; a far less difficult task. Satan has an end in view, to which he is driven by despair and hate: Manfred has none, yet, in the stern apathy of his soul, he appears to us more terribly sublime even than Lucifer himself. Don Juan is lord Byron's most remarkable production; and contains some of his finest and most common-place passages, and shows a command of language and versatility of style that have never been equaled. The tendency, however, of this and some other of his poems, cannot be too explicitly condemned. In Don Juan, sensuality has one of its most powerful and accomplished advocates; the sting by which it is followed he calls the misfortune of nature, instead of the consequence of vice; and, thus, instead of exalting our notions of virtue, makes us regard the exercise of it as a melancholy and irksome duty.