[ocr errors]

Byron to publish this last poem; but he was or causes, however, are uplo this moment involved unwilling. He would not be convinced of the in mystery, though, as might be expecteil, a wongreat merit of the « Childe,» and as some personderful sensation was excited at the tine, and every had seen it before Mr Dallas, and expressed dis- description of contradictory rumour was in active approbation, Byron was by no means sure of its circulation. kind reception by the world. In a short time Byron was first introduced to Miss Millbank at afterwards, however, he agreed to its publication, Lady --'s. In going upstairs he stumbled, and and requested Mr Dallas not to deal with Caw. remarked to Moore, who accompanied him, that thorn, but to offer it to Miller of Albemarle Street: it was a bad omen. On entering the room, he he wished a fashionable publisher. Miller declined perceived a lady more simply dressed than the it, chietly on account of the strictures it contained, rest sitting on a sofa. lle asked Moore if she was on Lord Elgin, whose publisher he was. Longman a humble companion to any of the ladies. The had refused to publish the « Satire,» and Byron latter replied, She is a great heiress; you'd would not suffer any of his works to come from better marry her, and repair the old place at that house. The work was therefore carried to Newstead.» Mr Murray, who had expressed a desire to publish The following anecdotes on the subject of his for Lord Byron, and regretted that Mr Dallas had marriage are given from Lord Byron's Conversanot taken the « English Bards and Scotch Rc- tions, in his own words: viewers» to him; but this was after its success. « There was something piquant, and what we

Byron became acquainted with Mr llogo, the term pretty, in Miss Villbank; her features were Ettrick Shepherd, at the Lakes. Hogg was stand- small and feminine, thougli not regular; she had ing at the inn door of Ambleside, when a strapping the fairest skin imaginable; her figure was peryoung man came out of the house, and taking off fect for her height, and there was a simplicity, a his hat, held out his hand to him. The Shepherd retired modesty about her, which was very chadid not know him, and appearing at a loss, the racteristic, and formed a happy contrast to the other relieved him by saying, “ Mr Hoge, hope cold artificial formality and studied stiffness you will excuse me; my name is Byron, and ! which is called fashion: she interested me excannot help thinhing that we ought to hold our- ceedingly. It is unnecessary to detail the proselves acquainted.» The poets accordingly sbook gress of our acquaintance: 1 became dail bands, and, while they continued at the Lakes, attached to her, and it ended in my making her were on the most intimate terms, drinking deeply a proposal that was rejected; her refusal was together, and laughing at their brother barils. couched in terms that could not oftend me. On Byron's leaving the Lakes, he sent Hogg a was besides persuaded that in declining my offer letter quizzing the Lakists, which the shepherd she was governed by the influence of her mother; was so mischievous as to show to them.

and was the more confirmed in this opinion by On the 2d of January, 1815, Lord Byron mar- her reviving our correspondence herself twelve ried, at Seaham, in the county of Durham, Ame' mionths after. The tepor of her letter was, that Isabella, only daughter of Sir Ralph Millbank, although she could not love me, she desired ny (since Noel), Bart. To this lady he had made a friendship. Friendship is a dangerous word for proposal twelve months before, but was rejected: young ladies; it is love full-fledged, and waiting well would it have been for their mutual hap- for a tine day to tly. piness had that rejection been repeated. After I was not so young when iny father died, their marriage, Lord and Lady Byron took a but that I perfectly remember bim, and had very house in London, gave splendid dinner-parties, carly a horror of matrimony, from the sight of and launched into every sort of fashionable ex. domestic broils: this feeling came over me very travagance. This could not last long; the portion strongly at my wedding something whispered

which his lordship received with Miss Millbauk me that I was sealing my own death-warrant. ! (ten thousand pounds) soon melted away; and, at am a great believer in presentiments: Socrates'

length, an execution was actually levied on the demon was not a fiction; Monk Lewis had his furniture of his residence. It was then agreed monitor; and Napoleon many warnings. At the

tha: Lady Byron, who, on the roth of December, last moment I would have retreated if I could ! | 1815, had presented her lord with a daughter, have done so; 1 cailed to mind a friend of mine,

should pay a visit to her father till the storm was ' who had married a young, beautiful, and rich blown over, and some arrangements had been girl, and yet was miserable; he had strongly made with their creditors. From that visit she'urged me against puting my neck in the same never returned, and a separation ensuell, for which yoke: and, to show you how firmly I was revarious reasons have been assigned; the real cause solved to attend to his advice, I berted llay fifty



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

uineas to one that I should always remain single. hampered with a law-suit, which has cost me · Sur years afterwards, I sent him the money. The 14,000l., and is not yet tinished. day before I proposed to Lady Byron, I had no • I heard afterwards that Mrs Charlment had idea of doing so.

been the means of poisoning Lady Noel's mind I « It had been predicted by Mrs Williams, that against me; that she had employed herself and twenty-seven was to be a dangerous age for me; others in watching me in London, and had rethe fortune-telling witch was right; it was des- ported having traced me into a house in Portuned to prove so. I shall never forget the ad land-Place. There was one act unworthy of of January! Lady Byron (Byrn, he pronounced any one but such a confidante; I allude to the it) was the only unconcerned person present; breaking open my writing-desk : a book was

Lady Noel, her mother, cried; I trembled like a found in it that did not do much credit to my I leat, made the wrong responses, and, after the taste in literature, and some letters from a marceremony, called her Miss Millbank.

ried woman with whom I had been intimate There is a singular history attached to the before my marriage. The use that was made of ring; the very day the match was concluded, a the latter was most unjustifiable, whatever may | ning of muy mother's that had been lost was dug be thought of the breach of confidence that led

up by the gardener at Newstead. I thought it to their discovery. Lady Byron sent them to the was sent on purpose for the wedding; but my husband of the lady, who had the good sense to Bother's marriage had not been a fortunate one, take no notice of their contents. The gravest and this ring was doomed to be the seal of an accusation that has been made against me is that unhappier union still.

of having intrigued with Mrs Mardyn in my own | Sher the ordeal was over, we set off for a house, introduced her to my own table, etc.;

country-seat of Sir Ralph's, and I was surprised there never was a more untounded calumny. I at the arrangements for the journey, and some- Being on the Committee of Drury-Lane Theatre, what out of humour to find a lady's maid stack I have no doubt that several actresses called on between me and my bride. It was rather too me; but as to Mrs Miardyn, who was a beautiful early to assume the husband, so I was forced to woman, and might have been a dangerous visisabmit, but it was not with a very good grace. tress, I was scarcely acquainted (to speak) with

• I have been accused of saying, on getting her. I might even make a more serious charge 1 into the carriage, that I had married Lady Byron against than employing spies to watch sus. out of spite, and because she had refused me pected amours. I had been shut up in a dark twice. Though I was for a moment vexed at her street in London writing • The Siege of Corinth,' prudery, or whatever it may be called, if I had and had refused myself to every one till it was made so uncavalier, pot to say brutal, a speech, finished. I was surprised one day by a doctor

I am convinced Lady Byron would instantly and a lawyer almost forcing themselves at the I have left the carriage to me and the maid (I mean same time into my room; I did not know till

the lady's); she had spirit enough to have done ' afterwards the real object of their visit. I | 0, and would properly have resented the affrout. thought their questions singular, frivolous, and

Our honey-moon was not all sunshine, it somewhat importunate, it not impertinent; bat had its clouds; and Hobbouse has some letters what should I have thought it I had known that which would serve to explain the rise and fall in they were sent to provide proofs of my insanity? the barometer; but it was never down at zero. I have no doubt that my answers to these emis

• A curious thing happened to me shortly saries' interrogations were not very rational or after the honey-moon, which was very awkward consistent, for my imagination was heated by at the time, but has since amused me much. In other things; but Dr Baillie could not conscienso happened that three married women were on tiously make me out a certificate for Bedlain, | a wedding visit to my wife (and in the same room and perhaps the lawyer gave a more favourable at the same time), whom I had known to be all report to his employers. The doctor said afterbirds of the same nest. Fancy the scene of con- wards he had been told that I always looked ; fusion that ensued !

down when Lady Byron bent her eyes on me, • The world says I married Miss Millhank for and exhibited other symptoms equally intallible, her fortune, because she was a great heiress. All particularly those that marked the late king's I base ever received, or am likely to receive case so strongly. I do not, however, tax Lady

and that has been twice paid back too), was Byron with this transaction: probably she was | 10,000l. My own income at this period was not privy to it; she was the tool of others. Her small and somewhat bespoke. Newstead was a mother always detested me : she had not even very unprofitable estate, and brought me in a the decency to conceal it in her own house. ! bare vool. a year; the Lancasbire property w..) Dining one day at Sir Ralph's (who was a good

[ocr errors]

sort of mau, and of whom you may forin some time. As it is, I shall never forgive myself for idea, when I tell you that a leg of mutton was having done so, though I am told that the estate always served at liis table, that he might cut the would not now bring half as much as I got for it: ! same joke upon it), I broke a tooth, and was in this does not at all reconcile me to having parted great pain, which I could not avoid showing. It with the old Abbey. I did not make up my will do you gooil,' said Lady Noel; “I am glad of mind to this step but from the last necessity; I it! I gave licr a look!

had my wife's portion to repay, and was deterLady Byron had good ideas, but could never mined to add 10,000l. more of my own to it, express them; wrote poetry too, but it was only which I did : I always hated being in delt, and good by accident; her letters were always enig- do not owe a guinea. The moment I had put matical, often unintelligible. She was easily my affairs in train, and in little more than made the clupe of the designing, for she thought eighteen months after my marriage, I left Engher knowledge of mankind intallible. She had land, an involuntary exile, intending it should got some foolish idea of Madame de Stael's into be for ever. » her head, that a person may be better known We shall here avail ourselves of some obserin the first hour than in ten years. She had the vations by a powerful and elegant critic,' whose habit of drawing people's characters after she opinions on the personal character of Lord Byron, lud seen them once or twice. She wrote pages as well as on the merits of his poems, are, from on pages about my character, but it was as unlike their originality, caudour, and discrimination, as possible. She was governed by what she l of considerable weight. called fixed rules and principles, squared mathe

The charge against Lord Byron, » says this matically. She would bave made an excellent writer, « 16, not that he tell a victim io exwrangler at Cambridge. It must be confessed, cessive remptations, and a combination of cir- i however, that she gave no proof of her boaster cumstances, which it required a rare and extraconsistency; first she refused me, then she ac

ordinary degree of virtue, wisdom, prudence, cepted me, then she separated herself from me

and steadiness to surmount; but that he abanso much for consistency. I need not tell you of doned a situation of uncommon advantages, and the obloquy and opprobrium that were cast upon fell weakly, pusillanimously, and selfishly, when my name when our separation was made public. victory would have been easy, and when deleitt Lönce made a list from the journals of the day was ignominious. In reply to this charge, I do of the different worthies, ancient and modern, not deny that Lord Byron inherited some very ! to whom I was compared : I remember a lew,- desirable, and even enviable privileges, in the lot Nero, Apicius, Epicurus, Caligula, Heliogabalus, of life which fell to liis share. I should falsity llenry the Lighth, and lastly, the ---- -. All my my own sentiments if I treated lightly the gift former friends, even my cousin George Byron, of an ancient English peerage, and a name of who had been brought up with me, and whom i bonour and venerable antiquily; but without a loved as a brother, took my wite's part: he fol- fortune competent to that rank, it is not a bed lowed the stream when it was strongest against of roses, nay, it is attended with many and erme, and can never expect any thing fronu me;

treme difficulties, and the difficulties are exactly he shall never touch a -ixpence of mine. I was such as a genius and temper like Loril Byron's looked upon as the worst of husbands, the most were least calenlated to meet--at any rate, least abandoned and wicked of men; and my wife as calculated to meet under the peculiar collateral a suttering angel, an incarnation of all the vir- circumstances in which he was placed. His intues and perfections of the sex. I was alused in come was very narrow; his New stead property the public prints, made the common talk of pri- left him a very small disposabıle surplus; his vate companies, hissed as I went to the llouse of Lancashire property was, in its condition, etc. Lords, insulted in the streets, afraid to go to the unproductive. A profession, such as the army, theatre, whence the unfortunate Mrs Mardyn might have lessened, or almost annihilated the had been driven with insult. The Examiner was ditficulties of his peculiar position ; but probably the only paper that dared say a word in my his lameness rendered this impossible. Tie seems defence, and Lady Jersey the person in the to have had a We of independence, which was i fashionable world that did not look upon me as a noble, and probably even an intractability; but

this temper added to his indisposition to bend « In addition to all these wortifications, my and adapie himself to his lot. A dull, or supple, affairs were irretrievably involved, and almost or intriguing man, without a single good quality so as to make me what they wished.

of bead or heart, might have managed it much pelled to part with Newstead, which I never could have ventured to sell in my mother's lite

Sir Egerton Bridges, Bari,

monster. »

[ocr errors]

better; he might have made himself subservient versation pleasing to ladies when he chose to to government, and wormed himself into some please; but, tothe young dandies of fashion, noble lacrative place; or he might have lived meanly, and ignoble, he must have been very repulsive : conformed himself stupidly or cringingly to all as long as he continued to be the ton,- the lion, bumours, and been borne onward on the wings | -- they may have endured him without opening of society with little personal expense.

their mouths, because he had a frown and a lash • Lord Byron was of another quality and tem- which they were not willing to encounter ; but perament. If the world would not conform to when his back was turned, and they thought it him, still less would be conform to the world. He safe, I do not doubt that they burst out into full bad all the maply, baronial pride of his ances- cry! I have heard complaints of his vanity, his tors, though he had not all their wealth, and peevishness, bis desire to monopolize distinction, their means of generosity, hospitality, and pa- his dislike of all hobbies but his own. It is not tronage. He had the will, alas! without the improbable that there may have been some founpower.

dation for these complaints : I am sorry for it if With this temper, these feelings, this genius, there was ; I regret such littlenesses. And then í exposed to a combination of such untoward and another part of the story is probably left untold :

trying circumstances, it would indeed have been we hear nothing of the provocations given him ; inimitably praiseworthy if Lord Byron could-sly hints, curve of the lip, side looks, treachehave been always wise, prudent, calm, correct, rous smiles, flings at poetry, shrugs at noble aupure, virtuous, and unassailable :--if he could thors, slang jokes, idiotic bets, enigmatical apbave shown all the force and splendour of his pointments, and boasts of being senseless brutes ! mighty poetical energies, without any mixture We do not hear repeated the jest of the glory of of their clouds, their baneful lightnings, or their the Jew, that buys the ruined peer's falling castle; storms: - if he could have preserved all his sensi- the d-d good fellow, that keeps the finest stud bility to every kind and noble passion, yet have and the best hounds in the country out of the remained placid, and unaffected by the attack of snippings and odds and ends of his contract; and any blameable emotion ;- that is, it would have the famous good match that the duke's daughter been admirable if he had been an angel, and not is going to make with Dick Wigly, the son of the a man!

rich slave-merchant at Liverpool! We do not • Cnhappily, the outrages he received, the hear the clever dry jests whispered round the gross calumnies which were beaped upon him, table by Mr ---, eldest son of the new and rich even in the time of his highest favour with the Lord --, by young Mr--,only son of Loril-, public, turned the delights of his very days of the ex-lords A., B., and C., sons of the three Irish triumph to poison, and gave him a sort of moody, I'nion earls, great borough-holders, and the very fierce, and violent despair, which led to humours, grave and sarcastic Lord --, who believes that acts, and words, that mutually acgravated the ill he has the monopoly of all the talents and all the will and the offences between him and his assail- political and legislative knowledge of the kingants. There was a daring spirit in his temper dom, and that a poet and a bellman are only fit and his talents, which was always inflamed rather to be yoked together. than corrected by opposition.

• Thus, then, was this illustrious and mighty • In this most unpropitious state of things, poet driven into exile! Yes, driven! Who would every thing that went wrong was attributed to live in a country in which he had been so used, Lord Byron, and, when once attributed, was as- even though it was the land of his nativity, the samed and argued upon as an undeniable fact. land of a thousand noble ancestors, the land of Set, to my mind, it is quite clear, -quite unat- freedom, the land where his head had been tended by a particle of doubt, that in many crowned with laurels, – but where his heart had things in which he has been the most blamed, be been tortured; where all his most generous and was the absolute victim of misfortune ; that un- most noble thoughts had been distoi ted and renpropitious trains of events (for I do not wish to dered ugly, and where his slightest errors and shift the blame on others) led to explosions and indiscretions had been magnified into hideous consequent derangements, which no cold, prudent crimes ?». pretender to extreme propriety and correctness Lord Byron's own opinions on the connubial could have averted or met in a manner less state are thus related by Captain Parry: blameable than that in which Lord Byron met it. « There are, » said his lordship, « so many un.

• It is not easy to conceive a character less definable, and nameless, and not-to-be named fitted to conciliate general society by his manners causes of dislike, aversion, and disgust, in the maand habits than that of Lord Byron. It is pro-trimonial state, that it is always impossible for bable that he could make his address and con- the public, or ihe best friends of the parties, to

It was an

judge between man and wife. Theirs is a relation | dictated by my own feelings, and Lady Byron about which nobody but themselves can form a was quite the creature of rules. She was not correct idea, or have any right to speak. As long permitted either to ride, or run, or walk, but as as neither party commits gross injustice towards the physician prescribed. She was not suffered the other; as long as neither the woman nor the to go out when I wished to go: and then the old man is guilty of any offence which is injurious to house was a mere ghost-house; I dreamed of the community; as long as the husband provides ghosts, and thought of them waking. for his offspring, and secures the public against existence I could not support." Here Lord Byron the dangers arising from their neglected educa- | broke off abruptly, saying, “ I hate to speak of tion, or from the charge of supporting them; by my family affairs; though I have been compelled what right does it censure him for ceasing to to talk nonsense concerning them to some of my dwell under the same roof with a woman, who butterfly visitors, glad on any terms to get rid is to him, because he knows her, while others do of their importunities. I long to be again on the not, an object of loathing? Can any thing be mountains. I am fond of solitude, and should more monstrous than for the public voice to com- never talk nonsense if I always found plain men pel individuals who dislike each other to con

to talk to. » tinue their cohabitation ? This is at least the In the spring of 1816, Lord Byron quitted effect of its interfering with a relationship, of England, to return to it no more. le crossed which it has no possible means of judging. It over to France, through which he passed rapidly does not indeed drag a man to a woman's bed to Brussels, taking in his way a survey of the field by physical force, but it does exert a moral force of Waterloo. He then proceeded to Coblenti, continually and effectively to accomplish the and up the Rhine to Basle. He passed the summer same purpose. Nobody can escape this force but I on the banks of the lake of Ceneva. With what those who are too high, or those who are too low, enthusiasm he enjoyed its scenery, his own for public opinion to reach ; or those hypocrites poetry soon exhibited to the world. The third who are, before others, the loudest in their ap- canto of Childe Harold, Manfred, and the Priprobation of the empty and unmeaning forms of soner of Chillon were composed at the Campagno society, that they may securely indulge all their Diodati, at Coligny, a mile from Geneva. propensities in secret. I have suffered amazingly The anecdotes that follow are given as his from this interference; for though I set it at de- lordship related them to Captain Medwin : fiance, I was veither too high nor too low to be Switzerland is a country I have been satisfied reached by it, and I was not hypocrite enough with seeing once; Turkey I could live in for ever. to guard myself from its consequences.

I never forget my predilections. I was in a What do they say of my family affairs in wretched state of health, and worse spirits, when England, Parry? My story, I suppose, like other I was at Geneva; but quiet and the lake, physiminor events, interested the people for a day, cians better than F'olidori, soon set me up. and was then forgotten? » I replied, no; never led so moral a life as during my residence thought, owing to the very great interest the pub- in that country; but I gained po credit by it. lic took in him, it was still remembered and where there is a mortification, there ought to be talked about. I mentioned that it was generally reward. On the contrary, there is no story so supposed a difference of religious sentiments be- absurd that they did not invent at my cost. tween him and Lady Byron had caused the pub- was watched by glasses on the opposite side of lic breach. No, Parry, » was the reply; « Lady the lake, and by glasses too that must have had Byron has a liberal mind, particularly as to very distorted optics. I was waylaid in my evenreligious opinions; and I wish, when I married ing drives-1 was accused of corrupting all the her, that I had possessed the same command over grisettes in the rue Basse. I believe that they myself that I now do. Had I possessed a little more looked upon me as a man-monster worse than the wisdom, and more forbearance, we might have piqueur, » been happy. I wished, when I was first married, « 1 knew very few of the Genevese. Bentsh to have remained in the country, particularly till was very civil to me; and I have a great respect my pecuniary embarrassments were over. I knew for Sismondi. I was forced to return the civilithe society of London ; 1 knew the characters of ties of one of their professors by asking him, and many of those who are called ladies, with whom an old gentleman, a friend of Gray's, to dine Lady Byron would necessarily have to associate, with me. I had gone out to sail early in the and I dreaded her contact with them. But I have morning, and the wind prevented me from retoo much of my mother about me to be dictated turning in time for dinner. I understand that I to : I like freedom from constraint; I hate arti- offended them mortally. Polidori did the hoficial regulations : my conduct has always been nours.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« 前へ次へ »