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Byron has often laughed at some repartie or joke against himself, and, after a few minutes' reflection, got angry at it, but was always soon appeased by a civil apology, though it was clear that he disliked anything like ridicule, as do most people who are addicted to play it off on others; and he certainly delighted in quizzing and ridiculing his associates. The translation of his works into different languages, however it might have flattered his amour propre as an author, never failed to enrage him, from the injustice he considered all iranslations rendered to his works. I have seen him furious at some passages in the French translation, which he pointed out as proof of the impossibility of the translators understanding the original, and he exclaimed, “Il traditore! Ni traditore!” (instead of a trad uttore,) vowing vengeance against the unhappy traducers as he called them. He declared that every translation he had seen of his poems had so destroyed the sense, that he could not understand how the French and Italians could admire his works, as they professed to do. It proved, he said, at how low an ebb modern poetry must be in both countries. French poetry he detested, and continually ridiculed: he said it was discordant to his ears.
Of his own works, with some exceptions, he always spoke in derision, saying he could write much better, but that he wrote to suit the false taste of the day. and that if now and then a gleam of true feeling or poetry was visible in his productions, it was sure to be followed by the ridicule he could not suppress, Byron was not sincere in this, and it was only said to excite surprise, and show his soperiority over the rest of the world. It was this same desire of astonishing that led him to depreciate Shakspeare, which I have frequently heard him do, though from various of his reflections in conversation, and the general turn of his mind, I am convinced that he had not only deeply read, but deeply felt the beauties of our immortal poet.
I do not recollect ever having met Byron that he did not, in some way or other, introduce the subject of Lady Byron. The impression left on my mind was, that she continually occupied his thoughts, and that he most anxiously desired a reconciliation with her. He declared that his marriage was free froin every interested motive, and if not founded on love, as love is generally viewed, a wild, engrossing and ungovernable passion, there was quite sufficient liking in it to have ensured happiness had his temper been better. He said that Lady Byron's appearance had pleased him from the first moment, and had always continued to please him, and that, had his pecuniary affairs been in a less ruinous state, his temper would not have been excited, as it daily, hourly was, during the brief period of their union, by the demands of insolent creditors whom he was unable to satisfy, and who drove him nearly out of his senses, until he lost all command of himself, and so forfeited Lady Byron's affection. 'I must admit that I could not have left a very agreeable impression on her mind. With my irascible temper, worked upon by the constant attacks of duns, no wonder that I became gloomy. violent, and, I fear, often personally uncivil, if no worse, and so disgusted her; though, had she really loved me, she would have borne with my infirmities, and made allowance for my provocations. I have written to her repeatedly, and am still in the habit of writing long letters to her, many of which I have sent, but without ever receiving an answer, and others that I did not send, because I despaired of their doing any good. I will show you some of them, as they may serve to throw a light on my feelings. The next day Byron sent me the letter, addressed to Lady Byron, which has already appeared in · Moore's Life.' He never could divest himself of the idea that she took a deep interest in bim: he said that their child must always be a bond of union between them, whatever lapse of years or distance might separate them; and this idea seemed to comfort him. And yet, notwithstanding the bond of union a child was supposed to form between the parents, he did not hesitate to state, to the gentlemen of our party, his more than indifference towards the mother of his illegitimate daughter. By. ron's mental courage was much stronger in his study than in society. In moments of inspiration, with his pen in his hand, he would have dared public opin. ion, and laughed to scorn the criticisms of all the literati, but with refleciion came doubts and misgivings; and though in general he was tenacious in not changing what he had once written, this tenacity proceeded more from the fear
of being thought to want mental courage, than from the existence of the quality itself. This operated also on his actions as well as his writings; he was the creature of impulse ; never reflected on the possible or probable results of his conduct, until that conduct had drawn down censure and calumny on him, when - he shrunk with dismay, frightened at the sounds himself had made.
This sensitiveness was visible on all occasions, and extended to all his relations with others; did his friends or associates become the objects of public attack, be shrunk from the association, or at least from any public display of it, disclaimed the existence of any particular intimacy, though in secret he felt good will to the persons. I have witnessed many examples of this, and became convinced that his friendship was much more likely to be retained by those who stood well in the world's opinion, than by those who had even undeservedly forfeited it. I once made an observation to him on this point, which was elicted by something he had said of persons with whom I knew he had once been on terms of intimacy, and which he wished to disclaim ; his reply was, . What the deuce good can I do them against public opinion? I shall only injure myself and do them no service.' I ventured to tell him, that this was precisely the system of the English whom he decried; and that self-respect, if no better feeling operated, ought to make us support in adversity those whom we had led to believe we felt interested in. He blushed, and allowed I was right; · Though (added he) you are singular in both senses of the word, in your opinion, as I have had proofs ; for at the moment when I was assailed by all the vituperation of the press in England at the separation, a friend of mine, who had written a complimentary passage to me, either by way of dedication or episode (I forget which he said), suppressed it on finding public opinion running hard against me; he will probably produce it if he finds the quicksilver of the barometer of my reputation mounis to beau fire; while it remains, as at present, at variable, it will never see the light, save and except I die in Greece, with a sort of demi-poetic and demi-heroic renommée attached to my memory.
The master was the officer who had charge of the watch to which : was stationed; he was a very rough sailor, who had been brought up in the merchant service, not much of a gentleman in his appearance, very good-tempered, and very fond of grog. He always quarrelled with the boatswain, and declared that the service was going to the devil, now that warrant officers put on white shirts, and wore frills to them. But the boatswain did not care for him ; he knew his duty, he did his duty, and if the captain was satisfied, he said that the whole ship's company might grumble. As for the master, he said, the man was very well, but having been brought up in a collier, he could not be expected to be very refined ; in fact, he observed, pulling up his shirt collar-it was impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The master was very kind to me, and used to send me down to my ham. mock before my watch was half over. Until that time, I walked the deck with O'Brien, who was a very pleasant companion, and taught me everything that he could connected with my profession. One night, when we had the middle watch, I told him I should like very much if he would give me the history of his life. “That I will, my honey,' re.
* Continued from p. 165.
plied he, all that I can remember of it, though I have no doubt but that I've forgotten the best part of it. It's now within five minutes of two bells, so we'll heave the log and mark the board, and then I'll spin you a yarn, which will keep both of us from going to sleep.' O'Brien reported the rate of sailing to the master, marked it down on the log. board, and then returned.
* So now, my boy, I'll come to an anchor on the topsail halyard rack, and you may squeeze your thread-paper little carcase under my lee, and then I'll tell you all about it. First and foremost, you must know that I am descended from the great O'Brien Borru, who was a king in his time, as the great Fingal was before him. Of course you've beard of Fingal.
I can't say that I ever did,' replied I.
Never heard of Fingal !-murder! Where must you have been all your life! Well, then, to give you some notion of Fingal, I will first tell you how Fingal bothered the great Scotch giant, and then I'll go on with my own story. Fingal, you must know, was a giant himself, and no fool of one, and any one that affronted him was as sure of a bating, as I am to keep the middle watch to-night. But there was a giant in Scotland as tall as the main-mast, more or less, as we say when we a'n't quite sure, as it saves telling more lies than there's occasion for. Well, this Scotch giant heard of Fingal, and how he had beaten every body, and he said, “Who is this Fingal ? By Jasus," says he in Scotch, “I'll just walk over and see what he's made of.” So he walked across the Irish Channel, and landed within half a mile of Belfast, but whether he was out of his depth or not I can't tell, although I suspect that he was not dry footed. When Fingal heard that this great chap was coming over, he was in a devil of a fright, for they told him that the Scotchman was taller by a few feet or so. Giants, you know, measure by feet, and don't bother themselves about the inches, as we little devils are obliged to do. So Fingal kept a sharp look out for the Scotchman, and one fine morning there hc was sure enough, coming up the hill to Fingal's house. If Fingal was afraid before, he had more reason to be afraid when he saw the fellow, for he looked for all the world like the monument upon a voyage of discovery. So Fingal ran into his house, and called to his wife Shaya, “My vourneen," says he, “ be quick now; there's that big bully of a Scotchman coming up the hill. Kiver me up with the blankets, and if he asks who is in bed, tell him it's the child.” So Fingal laid down on the bed, and his wife had just time to cover him up when in comes the Scotchman, and though he stooped low, he hit his head against the portal. “Where's that baste Fingal ?” says he, rubbing his forehead ; " show him to me, that I may give him a baling.” “Whist, whist !”cries Shaya, “ you'll wake the babby, and then him that you talk of bating will be the death of you, if he comes in.” “Is that the babby?” cried the Scotchman with surprise, looking at the great carcase muffled up in the blankets. “ Sure it is," replied Shaya, “and Fingal's babby too ; so don't you wake him, or Fingal will twist your neck in a minute." "By the cross of St. Andrew," replied the giant, “then it's time for me to be off; for if that's his babby, I'll be but a mouthful to the fellow himself. Good morning to yc." So the Scotch giant ran out of the house, and never stopped to eat or drink until he got back to his own hills, foreby he was nearly drowned in having mistaken his passage across the Channel in his great hurry. Then Fingal got up and laughed, as well he inight, at his own 'cuteness; and so ends my story about Fingal And now I'll begin about myself. As I said before, I am descended fron the great O'Brien, who was a king in his time, but that time's past. I suppose as the world turns round, my children's children's posterity may be kings again, although there seems but little chance of it just now; but there's ups and downs on a grand scale, as well as in a man's own history, and the wheel of fortune keeps turning for the comfort of those who are at the lowest spoke, as I may be just now. To cut the story a little shorter, I skip down to my great-grand-father, who lived like a real gentleman, as he was, upon his ten thousand a-year. At last he died, and eight thousand of the ten was buried with him. My grandfather followed his father all in good course of time, and only left my father about one hundred acres of bog to keep up the dignity of the family. I am the youngest of ten, and devil a copper have I but my pay, or am I likely to have. You may talk about descent, but a more descending family than mine was never in existence, for here am I with twenty-five pounds a-year, and a half-pay of “ nothing a day, and find myself," when my great ancestor did just what he pleased with all Ireland, and every body in it. But this is all nothing, except to prove satisfactorily that I am not worth a skillagalee, and the reason which induced me to condescend to serve his majesty. Father M'Grath, the priest, who lived with my father, taught me the elements, as they call them. I thought I had enough of the elements, then, but I've seen a deal more of them since. “ Teague,” says my father to me one day,
what do you mane to do?” “To get my dinner, sure," replied I, for I was not a little hungry. “And so you shall to-day, my vourneen," replied my father, “but in future you must do something to get your own dinner : there's not praties enow for the whole of ve. Will you go to the say?" "I'll just step down and look at it,” says I, for we lived but sixteen Irish miles from the coast; so when I had finished my meal, which did not take long, for want of ammunition, I trotted down to the Cove to see what a ship might be like, and I happened upon a large one sure enough, for there lay a three-decker with an admiral's flag at the fore. “May be you'll be so civil as to tell me what ship that is," said I to a sailor on the pier. “It's the Queen Charlotte," replied he," of one hundred and twenty guns." Now when I looked at her size, and compared her with all the little smacks and hoys lying about her, I very naturally asked how old she was; he replied, that she was. no more than three years old. “But three years old," thought I to myself; “it's a fine vessel you'll be when you'll come of age, if you grow at that rate ; you'll be as tall as the top of Bencrow (that's a mountain we have in our parts.)” You see, Peter, I was a fool at that time, just as you are now ; but by-and-bye, when you've had as many thrashings, you may chance to be as clever. I went back to my father, and told him all I had seen, and he replied, that if I liked it I might be a midshipman on board of her, with nine hundred men under my cominand. He forgot to say how many I should have over me, but I found that out afterwards. I agreed, and my father ordered his pony and went to the lord lieutenant, for he had interest enough for that. The lord lieutenant spoke to the admiral, who was staying at the palace, and I was ordered on board as midshipman. My father fitted me out pretty handsomely, telling all the tradesmen that their bills should be paid with my first prize money, and thus by promises and blarney he got credit for all I wanted. At last all was ready; Father M'Grath gave me his blessing, and told me that if I died like an O'Brien, he would say a power of masses for the good of my soul. “ May you never have the trouble, sir," said I. "Och, trouble ! a pleasure, my dear boy," replied lie, for he was a very polite man : so off I went with my big chest, not quite so full as it ought to have been, for my mother cribbed one half of my stock for my brothers and sisters. “I hope to be back again soon, father," said I, as I took my leave. “I hope not, my dear bov,'' replied he; “a'n't you provided for, and what more would ye have ?” So after a deal of bother I was fairly on board, and I parted company with my chest, for I stayed on deck, and that went down below. I stared about with all my eyes for some time, when who should be coming off but the capriain, and the officers were ordered on deck to receive him. I wanted to have a quiet survey of him, so I took up my station on one of the guns, that I might examine him at my leisure. The boatswain whistled, the marines presented arms, and the officers all took off their hats as the captain came on the deck, and then the guard was dismissed, and they all walked about the deck as before, but I found it very pleasant to be astride on the gun, so I remained where I was " What do you mane by that, you big young scoundrel ?” says he, when he saw me. “It's nothing at all I mane," replied I; “ but what do you mane by calling an O'Brien a scoundrel?” “Who is he?" said the captain to the first lieutenant. “Mr. O'Brien, who joined the ship about an hour since." " Don't you know better than to sit upon a gun?” said the captain. “To be sure I do," replied I, “when there's any thing better to sit upon." "He knows no better, sir," observed the first lieutenant. “ Then he must be taught," replied the captain. “Mr. O'Brien, since you have perched yourself upon that gun to please yourself, you will now continue there for two hours to please me. Do you understand, sir ! you'll ride on that gun for two hours. “I understand, sir," replied I; “ but I'm afraid that he won't move without spurs, although there's plenty of metal in him.” The captain turned away and laughed as he went into his cabin, and all the officers laughed, and I laughed too, for I perceived no great hardship in sitting down an hour or two, any more than I do now. Well, I soon found that, like a young bear, all my troubles were to come. The first month was nothing but fighting and squabbling with my messmates; they called me a raw Irishman,