tion is effected, prevent the separa- struggle of oppressed men for freedom tion and dissolution of the country in- are very different things; and Lord to petty kingdoms and governments, Byron felt a military ardour in Greece which was the bane of ancient Greece. which he was too wise a inan ever to It is becoming to the body politic what have felt under other circumstances. the nerves are to the body physical, He was at one time, in Greece, absoand will bind a set of disjected mem- lutely soldier-mad; he had a helmet bers into one corresponding and sensi. made, and other armour in which to tive frame. As a proof of Lord By- lead the Suliotes to the storming of Leron's uncertainty and unfixedness, he panto, and thought of nothing but of at one moment gave a very handsome guns and blunderbusses. It is very donation of (501.) to one paper, the natural to suppose that a man of an Greek Chronicle, the most indepen- enthusiastic turn, tired of every-day dent of them all, and promised to assist enjoyments, in succouring the Greeks, in its compilation. His friend and would look to the bustle, the advensecretary, 100, with his approbation, ture, the moving accidents by flood established a polyglot newspaper, the and field, as sources of great enjoyGreek Telegraph, with his counte- ment : but allowing for the romantic nance and support. The want of any character of guerilla warfare in Greece, fixed principles and opinions on these for the excessively unromantic nature of important subjects galled him exces- projects for establishing schools and sively, and he could never discuss printing-presses in safe places, where them without passion. About this the Turks never or very seldom reach; same press, schools, societies for mu- allowing for these, yet they were not tual instruction, and all other institu- the causes of his Lordship's hostility to tions for the purpose of educating and these pcaceful but important instruadvancing the Greeks in civilization, ments' in propagating happiness : he he would express himself with scorn was ignorant of the science of civilizaand disgust. He would put it on the tion, and he was jealous of those who ground that the present was not the both knew it and practised it, and contime for these things ; that the Greeks sequently were doing more good than must conquer first, and then set about himself, and began to be more thought learning-an opinion which no one about too, in spite of his Lordship's could seriously entertain who knew as money, which in Greece is certainly he well did the real situation of the very little short of being all-powerful.

Greeks, who are only now and then The Greeks, it is true, had a kind of | visited by the Turks, descending at veneration for Lord Byron, on account

particular seasons in shoals, like her- of his having sung the praises of rings, and like them too to be netted, Greece; but the thing which caused knocked on the head and left to die in his arrival to make so great a sensaheaps till the whole country-side is tion there was the report that he was glutted with their carcases. The ap- immensely rich, and had brought a titude of the Greeks is as great as their ship full of sallars (as they call dollars) leisure, and if even the men were ac to pay off all their arrears. So that as tively engaged for the most part of soon at it was understood he had their time, which they are not, surely arrived, the Greek fleet was presently no exertion of benevolence could be at- set in motion to the port where he was tended with more advantage than in- stationed; was very soon in a state of structing the children at home. This, the most pressing distress, and nothing to be sure, is a quaker kind of war- could relieve it but a loan of four thoufare, and little likely to please a poet; sand pounds from his Lordship, which though it must be confessed, that in re- loan was eventually obtained (though spect to the pomp and circumstance of with a small difficulty), and then the war, and all the sad delusions of mili- Greek fleet sailed away, and left his ary glory, no man could have more Lordship’s person to be nearly taken ane notions than Lord Byron. Mer- 'by the Turks in crossing to Missolonenary warfare and the life-and-death ghi, as another vessel which contained

[ocr errors]

his suite and his stores actually was himself had been guilty of all sorts of captured, though afterwards released. crimes against society, and who made It was this money too which charmed a point of dividing his time between the Prince Mavrocordato, who did not cursing and blessing, murdering and sail away with his fleet, but stayed be- saving, robbing and giving, hating and hind, thinking more was to be obtain- loving, just as the wind of his humoor ed, as more indeed was, and the whole blew. This penchant for outlaws and consumed nobody knows how. How- pirates might naturally enough flow ever, the sums procured from his Lord- from his own character, and ibe cirship were by no means so large as has cumstances of his life, without there bebeen supposed ; five thousand pounds ing the slightest resemblance between would probably cover the whole, and the poet and the Corsair. He had a that chiefly by way of loan, which has, kind and generous heart, and gloried I hear, been repaid since his death. in a splendid piece of benevolence; The truth is, that the only good Lord that is to say, the dearest exercise of Byron did, or probably ever could power to him was in unexpectedly have done to Greece was, that his pre- changing the state of another from misence conferred an eclat on the cause sery to happiness: he sympathized all over Europe, and disposed the peo- deeply with the joy he was the creator ple of England to join in the loan. of. But he was in a great error with The lenders were dazzled, by his co- respect to the merit of such actions, operation with the Greeks, into an and in a greater still respecting the reidea of the security of their money, ward which he thought awaited him. which they ought to have been assured He imagined that he was laying up a of on much better grounds; but it re- great capital at compound interest

, quires some time and labour to learn He reckoned upon a large return of the real state of a country, while it was gratitude and devotion, and was not pleasant gossip to talk of Lord Byron content with the instant recompense in Greece. The fact is, that if any of which charity receives. They who the foreign loans are worth a farthing understand the principles of human it is that to the Greeks, who are decid action know that it is foolish in a beneedly more under the controul of E1- factor to look further than the pleasure ropean public opinion than any other of consciousness and sympathy, and nation in the world; about their ca- that if he does, he is a creditor, and not pability to pay no one can doubt, a donor, and must be content to be viek. and their honesty is secured by their ed as creditors are always viewed by interest.

their debtors, with distrust and upeas. Lord Byron was noted for a kind of ness. On this inistake were founded poetical misanthropy, but it existed most of his charges against human namuch more in the imagination of the ture; but his feelings, true to nature, public than in reality. He was fond and not obeying the false direction of of society, very good-natured when not his prejudices and erroneous opinions

, irritated, and, so far from being gloo- still made him love his kind with an army, was, on the contrary, of a cheerful dour which removed him as far as poso jesting temperament, and fond of wit- sible from misanthropy. It is very renessing even low buffoonery; such as markable that all your misanthropists setting a couple of vulgar fellows to as painted by the poets are the very quarrel, making them drunk, or dispos- best men in the world—to be sure

, ing them in any other way to show they do not go much into company, their folly. In his writings he certain- but they are always on the watch to do ly dwelt with pleasure on a character benevolent actions in secret, and no dis which had somehow or other laid hold tress is ever suffered to remain long urof his fancy, and consequently under relieved in the neighbourhood of a haver this character he has appeared to the of his fellow men. Another cause of public : viz. that of a proud and scorn- Lord Byron's misanthropical tura of ful being, who pretended to be dis writing was his high respect for bin gusted with bis species, because he self. He had a vast reverence for his

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

owo person, and all he did and thought mourned : this is touching; and a man of doing, inculcated into him, as into who wishes to attract attention cannot other lords, by mothers, governors, do better, if he be handsome and geq. grooms, and nurse-maids. When he teel, than look woeful and affect taciobserved another man neglecting his turnity. Lord Byron was well aware wants for the sake of some petty grati- of all this, and chose, for the purpose fication of his own, it appeared to him of exciting sympathy in his readers, to very base in the individual, and a gene- represent himself in the masquerade ral charge against all mankind-he dress of Childe Harold. One day was positively filled with indignation. when Fletcher, lis valet, was cheapenHe mentions somewhere in his works ing some monkeys, which he thought with becoming scorn, that one of his exorbitantly dear, and refused to purrelatives accompanied a female friend chase without abatement, his master to a milliner's, in preference to coming said to him, “Buy them, buy them, to take leave of him when he was going Fletcher, I like them better than men; abroad. The fact is, no one ever they amuse and never plague me." In loved his fellow man more than Lord the same spirit is his epitaph on his Byron; he stood in continual need of Newfoundland dog, a spirit partly ashis sympathy, his respect, his affec- fected and partly genuine. The genution, his attentions, and he was propor- ine part he would certainly never have tionably disgusted and depressed when retained, if he had reflected a little they were found wanting ; this was more upon the nature of bis own feelfoolish enough, but he was not much ings, and the motives which actuate of a reasoner on these points,-be was men in every the least action of their a poet. In his latter quality, it was lives. Boys enter upon the world his business to foster all these discon- stuffed with school-boy notions which tented feelings, for the public like in their tutors think it necessary to fill poetry nothing better than scorn, con- them with, about generosity, disintertempt, derision, indignation; and es. estedness, liberty, honour, and patriotpecially a kind of fierce mockery which ism; and when in life they find nobodistinguishes the transition from a dis- dy acting upon these, and that they turbed state of the imagination to luna. never did and never can, they are discy: Consequently, finding this mood gusted, and consider themselves entitake with the public, when he sat down tled to despise mankind, because they to write he began by lashing himself are under a delusion with respect to up into this state, bis first business be- themselves and every body else. Some ing, like Jove, to compel all the black of them, if men of genius, turn poets clouds together he could lay his hands and misanthropists; some sink into on. Besides, there is much that is mere sensualists; and some, convinced roipantic and interesting in a moody of the hollowness of the things they and mysterious Beltenebros; it is not have been taught to declaim about, unevery body that can be saled with the wisely conclude that no better system most exquisite joys of society; a man of morality is to be had, that there is to have had his appetite so palled must nothing real but place, power, and prohave had huge success, he must bave fit, and become the willing instruments been a man of consideration in the of the oppressors of mankind. The eyes of the beautiful and the rich. To fault lies in EDUCATION, and if there is scorn implies that you are very much any good to be done in the world that better than those you scorn ; that you is the end to begin at. are very good, or very great, or very

Much of Lord Byron's poetry took wise, and that others are the direct its peculiar hue from the circumstances contrary. To despise is another mark of his lise,-such as biş travels in of superiority. To be sad and silent Greece, which formed a most iniporare proofs that much sensation, perhaps tant epoch in the history of his mind. of ihe inost impassioned kind, has The “ oriental twist in his imaginas Leen experienced, is departed, and is tion," was thence derived; his scene.

S3 ATHENEUM VOL. 2. 2d serics..

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

ry, his imagery, his costume, and many and sentiments to them, and hold in-
of the materials of his stories, and a tercourse with them of a very refined
great deal of the character of his per- and beautiful description. When he
sonages.- That country was the stimu- travelled, he communed with the hills,
lant which excited bis greatest powers; and the valleys, and the ocean. Cer-
and much of the form in which they tainly he did not travel for fashion's
showed themselves is to be attributed sake, nor would be follow in the wake
to it. His great susceptibility to ex- of the berd of voyagers. As much as
ternal impressions, his intense sympa- he had been about the Mediterranean,
thy with the appearances of nature, he had never visited Vesuvius or Ætna,
which distinguished hiny, were the because all the world bad; and when
fruits either of original conformation, any of the well-known European vol.
or a much earlier stage of his experi- canic mountains were mentioned he
ence; but it was in Greece, the most would talk of the Indes, which he
beautiful and picturesque of countries, used to express himself as most anx-
that he came to the full enjoyment of ious to visit. In going to Greece the
himself. Certainly no poet either be- last time, he went out of his way to
fore or since so completely identified see Stromboli ; and when it happened
himself with nature, and gave to it all that there was no eruption during
the animation and the intellection of a the night his vessel lay off there, he
human being. Benjamin Constant, cursed and swore bitterly for no short
in his work on Religion, lately publish- time.
ed in Paris, quotes this passage from In travelling, he was an odd mir-
the Island, and appends to it the obser- ture of indolence and capricious actir.
vation which I shall copy at the end. ity; it was scarcely possible to get
How often we forget all time, when lone

him away from a place under sis Admiring pature's universal trope,

months, and very difficult to keep him Her woods, her wilds, her waters, the intense longer. In the Westminster Review, Reply of hers to our intelligence !

there is an interesting paper

formed Live not the stars and mountains ! Are the waves out of his letters, and out of Fletcher's Without a spirit? Are the drooping caves

account of his last illness, wbich though Without a feeling in their silent tears? No--no-lhey woo and clasp us to their spheres,

written with fairness, has unhappily Dissolve ihis clog and clod of clay before

the usual fault of going upon stilts. Its hour, and merge our soul in the great shore. All Lord Byron's movements are atStrip off this fond and false identity!

tributed to some high motive or other

, Who thinks of self when gazing on the sea ?

or sonie deep deliberation, when bis

friends well know that he went just as On this fine passage Benjamin Con- the wind did or did not blow. Among 'stant observes : « On nous assure que a deal more of bamboozlement about certains hommes accusent Lord Byron Lord Byron going to Greece or staying d'athéisme et d'impiété. Il y a plus here or there, very sage reasons are de religion dans ces douze vers que given for his remaining in Cephalonia dans les ecrits passés, presents, et so long. The fact is, he had got set futurs, de tous ces denonciateurs mis down there, and he was too idle to be ensemble.” Such is the Frenchman's removed; first, he was not to be got notion of religion ; if it be correct, our out of the vessel in which he had sailed, poets must be as of old our priests in which he dawdled for six weeks again, and clergymen be dismissed for after his arrival, when the charter of want of imagination. Lord Byron had his vessel expired and he was compellnot the dramatic “talent, that is, he ed to change his quarters ;=he then could not discriminate human charac- took up his residence in the little vilters and assume them; but he seems lage of Metaxata, where again he was to have had this dramatic talent as ap- not to be moved to Missolonghi

, whi

: plied, not to human beings, but to ther he had declared his resolution of natural objects, in the greatest perfec- proceeding: ship after ship tion. He could nicely discern their for him by Mavrocordato, and messen distinctive differences, adapt words ger upon inessenger; he promised and

The Island.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

was sent

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

promised, until at length, either worn with indeed an intense parental feelout by importunity, or weary of his ing; his wife I do not believe he ever abode, he hired a couple of vessels cared much for, and probably he mar(refusing the Greek ships) and crossed. ried her from mercenary motives.

It is said that his intention was not I shall not attempt any summing up to remain in Greece,- that he deter- of the desultory observations which I mined to return after his attack of epi- bave thrown together, in the hope of lepsy. Probably it was only his re- superseding the cant and trash that has moval into some better climate that and will be said and sung about the was intended. Certainly a more mi- character of this great man. All that serable and unhealthy bog than Misso. it is necessary to add by way of conJonghi is not to be found out of the clusion, may be condensed into a very fens of Holland, or the Isle of Ely. few words. Lord Byron was a Lord He either felt or affected to feel a pre- of very powerful intellect and strong sentiment that he should die in Greece, passions ; these are almost sufficient and when his return was spoken of, data for a moral geometer to construct considered it as out of the question, the whole figure; at least, add the folpredicting that the Turks, the Greeks, lowing sentence, and sufficient is givor the Malaria, would effectually put en : whether by early romantic expean end to any designs he might have rience, or by a natural extreme sensiof returning. At the moment of his tiveness to external impressions, it was seizure with the epileptic fits prior to of all his intellectual faculties the imahis last illness, he was jesting with gination which was chiefly developed. Parry, an engineer sent out by the Putting them together, we may conGreek committee, who, by dint of being clude, as was the fact, that he was irrihis butt, had got great power over him, table, capricious, at times even childand indeed, became every thing to ish, wilful, dissipated, infidel, sensual ; him. Besides this man, there was with little of that knowledge which is Fletcher, who had lived with him got at school, and much of that acquirtwenty years, and who was originally ed afterwards : he was capable of ena shoemaker, whom his Lordship had thusiasm; and though intensely selpicked up in the village where he lived, fish, that is, enjoying his own sensaat Newstead, and who, after attending tions, he was able to make great sacrihim in some of his rural adventures, fices, or, in other words, he had a taste became attached to his service : be for the higher kinds of selfishness, i. e. had also a faithful Italian servant, Bat. the most useful and valuable kinds; he tista; a Greek secretary; and Count was generous, fearless, open, veracious, Gamba seems to have acted the part of and a cordial lover of society and of his Italian secretary. Lord Byron conviviality; he was ardent in his spoke French very imperfectly, and friendships, but inconstant ; and, howItalian not correctly, and it was with ever generally fond of his friends, more the greatest difficulty that he could be apt to be heartily weary of them than prevailed upon to bake attempts in a people usually are. foreign language. Ile would get any No more epithets need be heaped body about him to interpret for him, together; all that men have in general, though he might know the language lie had in more than ordinary force; better than bis interpreter.

some of the qualities which men rarely When dying, he did not know his have he possessed to a splendid degree situation till a very slıort time before of perfection. he fell into the profound lethargy from Such is the PERSONAL character of be'never awoke; and after he knew Lord Byron, as I have been able to his danger, he could never speak intel. draw it from having had access to peligibly, but muttered his indistinct di- culiar sources of information, and from rections in three languages. He seems being placed in a situation best calcuto have spoken of his wife and his lated, as I think, to form an impartial daughter-chiefly of the latter; to this opinion.

RY. child he was very strongly attached,

[ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »