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boast. Scott had created the public taste for animated poetry, and Byron, taking advantage of it, soon engrossed the whole field. For a few years it seemed as if the world held only one great poet.
But, present still, though now unseen!
When brightly shines the prosperous day,
To temper the deceitful ray.
In shade and storm the frequent night,
A burning and a shining light! Our harps we left by Babel's streams,
The tyrant's jest, the Gentile’s scorn ; No censer round our altar beams,
And mute are timbrel, trump, and horn. But Thou hast said, The blood of goat,
The flesh of rams, I will not prize ; A contrite heart, a humble thought,
Are mine accepted sacrifice.
[Song from the Pirate.]
While Beauty sleeps!
To prompt a theme
For Beauty's dream,
Through groves of palm
While through the gloom
Comes soft perfume,
O wake and live!
The chivalry of Scott, the philosophy of Words-
Southey, and even the lyrical beauties of Moore From lattice peep,
and Campbell, were for a time eclipsed by this new And list the tale that love is telling! and greater light. The rank, youth, and misfor
tunes of Byron, his exile from England, the mys
tery which he loved to throw around his history LORD BYRON,
and feelings, the apparent depth of bis sufferings Scott retreated from poetry into the wide and and attachments, and his very misanthropy and open field of prose fiction as the genius of Byron scepticism (relieved by bursts of tenderness and began to display its strength and fertility. A new, pity, and by the incidental expression of high and or at least a more finished, nervous, and lofty style holy feelings), formed a combination of personal of poetry was introduced by the noble author, who circumstances in aid of the legitimate effects of his was as much a mannerist as Scott, but of a different passionate and graceful poetry, which is unparalleled school. He excelled in painting the strong and in the history of modern literature. Such a result gloomy passions of our nature, contrasted with is even more wonderful than the laureled honours feminine softness and delicacy. Scott, intent upon awarded to Virgil and Petrarch, if we consider the the development of his plot, and the chivalrous difference between ancient and modern manners, machinery of his Gothic tales, is seldom personally and the temperament of the northern nations compresent to the reader. Byron delighted in self- pared with that of the sunny south.' Has the portraiture, and could stir the depths of the human spell yet broke? Has the glory faded into the heart. His philosophy of life was false and perni- common light of day?' Undoubtedly the later cious; but the splendour of the artist concealed the writings of the noble bard helped to dispel the deformity of his design. Parts were so nobly illusion. To competent observers, these works added finished, that there was enough for admiration to to the impression of Byron's powers as an original rest upon, without analysing the whole. He con- poet, but they tended to exorcise the spirit of ro- || ducted his readers through scenes of surpassing mạnce from his name and history; and what Don beauty and splendour— by haunted streams and Juan failed to effect, was accomplished by the mountains, enriched with the glories of ancient biography of Moore. His poetry, however, must poetry and valour ; but the same dark shadow
was always have a powerful effect on 'minds of poeticali ever by his side-the same scorn and mockery of and warm sensibilities. If it is a ‘rank unveeded human hopes and ambition. The sententious force garden,' it also contains glorious fruits and plants and elevation of his thoughts and language, his of celestial seed. The art of the poet will be a eloquent expression of sentiment, and the mournful study for the ambitious few; his genius will be 8 and solemn melody of his tender and pathetic pas- source of wonder and delight to all who love to consages, seemed, however, to do more than atone for template the workings of human passion, in solitude his want of moral truth and reality. The man and and society, and the rich effects of taste and inthe poet were so intimately blended, and the spec- spiration.
1 tacle presented by both was so touching, mysterious, The incidents of Byron's life may be briefly reand lofty, that Byron concentrated a degree of lated. He was born in Holles Street, London, on interest and anxiety on his successive public ap- the 22d of January 1788, the only son of Captain pearances, which no author ever before was able to l John Byron of the Guards, and Catherine Gordon
of Gight, an Aberdeenshire heiress. The lady's Henry VIII. on Sir John Byron, steward of Manfortune was soon squandered by her profligate hus-chester and Rochdale, who converted the venerable band, and she retired to the city of Aberdeen, to convent into a castellated mansion. The family bring up her son on a reduced income of about £130 was ennobled by Charles I., in consequence of high per annum. The little lame boy, endeared to all in and honourable services rendered to the royal cause spite of his mischief, succeeded his grand-uncle, during the civil war. On succeeding to the title, William Lord Byron, in his eleventh year; and the Byron was put to a private school at Dulwich, and happy mother sold off her effects (which realised from thence he was sent to Harrow. During his just £74, 178. 4d.), and left Aberdeen for Newstead minority, the estate was let to another party, but its Abbey. The seat of the Byrons was a large and youthful lord occasionally visited the seat of his ancient, but dilapidated structure, founded as a ancestors; and whilst there in 1803, he conceived a priory in the twelfth century by Henry II., and passion for a young lady in the neighbourhood, who, situated in the midst of the fertile and interesting under the name of Mary Chaworth, has obtained a district once known as Sherwood Forest. On the poetical immortality. So early as his eighth year, dissolution of the monasteries, it was conferred by Byron fell in love with a simple Scottish maiden,
Newstead Abbey. Mary Duff; and hearing of her marriage, several But a most living landscape, and the wave years afterwards, was, he says, like a thunder-stroke Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men to him. He had also been captivated with a boyish Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke love for his cousin, Margaret Parker, .one of the Arising from such rustic roofs ;-the hill most beautiful of evanescent beings,' who died about Was crowned with a peculiar diadem a year or two afterwards. He was fifteen when he Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, met Mary Chaworth, and conceived an attach Not by the sport of nature, but of man : ment which, young as he was even then for such These two, a maiden and a youth, were there a feeling, sunk so deep into his mind as to give a Gazing—the one on all that was beneath colour to all his future life. The father of the Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her ; lady had been killed in a duel by Lord Byron, the And both were young, and one was beautiful: ecoentric grand-uncle of the poet, and the union of And both were young-yet not alike in youth. the young peer with the heiress of Annesley Hall As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge,
would,' said Byron, 'have healed feuds in which The maid was on the eve of womanhood; blood had been shed by our fathers; it would have
The boy had fewer summers, but his heart joined lands broad and rich; it would have joined at Had fer outgrown his years, and to his eye least one heart, and two persons not ill matched in
There was but one beloved face on earth, Fears (she was two years my elder), and-and
And that was shining on him. and-what has been the result?' Mary Chaworth saw little in the lame boy, and became the betrothed This boyish idolatry nursed the spirit of poetry in of another. They had one parting interview in the Byron's mind. He was recalled, however, from his following year, which, in his poem of the Dream, day-dreams and disappointment, by his removal to Byron has described in the most exquisite colours Trinity college, Cambridge, in October 1805. At Harof descriptive poetry :
row he had been an idle irregular scholar, though
he eagerly devoured all sorts of learning, excepting I saw two beings in the hues of youth
that which was prescribed for him ; and at CamStanding upon a hill; a gentle hill,
bridge he pursued the same desultory course of study. Green and of mild declivity, the last
In 1807 appeared his first volume of poetry, printed As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, at Newark, under the title of Hours of Idleness. Save that there was no sea to lave its base, There were indications of genius in the collection,
but many errors of taste and judgment. The vul- and the successive cantos of 'Don Juan' betrayed nerable points were fiercely assailed, the merits over the downward course of the poet's habits. The wit looked, in a witty critique in the Edinburgh Review and knowledge of that wonderful poem—its passion, (understood to be written by Lord Brougham), and variety, and originality — were now debased with the young poet replied by his vigorous satire, Eng- inferior matter; and the world saw with rejoicing lish Burds and Scotch Reviewers, which disarmed, the poet break away from his Circean enchantments, if it did not discomfit, his opponent. While his and enter upon a new and nobler field of exertion. name was thus rising in renown, Byron left England He had sympathised deeply with the Italian Carfor a course of foreign travel, and in two years bonari in their efforts for freedom, but a still more visited the classic shores of the Mediterranean, and interesting country and people claimed his support. resided some time in Greece and Turkey. In the His youthful travels and poetical enthusiasm still spring of 1812 appeared the two first cantos of endeared the blue Olympus' to his recollection, and Childe Harold, the fruit of his foreign wanderings, in the summer of 1823 he set sail for Greece, to aid in and his splendidly enriched and matured poetical the struggle for its independence. His arrangements taste. I awoke one morning,' he said, “and found were made with judgment, as well as generosity. myself famous.' A rapid succession of eastern tales Byron knew mankind well, and his plans for the followed—the Giaour and the Bride of Abydos in recovery and regeneration of Greece evinced a spirit 1813; the Corsair and Lara in 1814. In the Childe, of patriotic freedom and warm sympathy with the he had shown his mastery over the complicated oppressed, happily tempered with practical wisdom Spenserian stanza: in these he adopted the heroic and discretion. He arrived, after some danger and couplet, and the lighter verse of Scott, with equal delay, at Missolonghi, in Western Greece, on the freedom and success. No poet had ever more com- 4th of January 1824. All was discord and confusion mand of the stores of the English language. At -a military mob and contending chiefs turbulence, this auspicious and exultant period, Byron was the rapacity, and fraud. In three months he had done idol of the gay circles of London. He indulged in much, by his influence and money, to compose diffeall their pleasures and excesses--studying by fits rences, repress cruelty, and introduce order. His and starts at midnight, to maintain the splendour fluctuating and uncertain health, however, gave of his reputation. Satiety and disgust succeeded way under so severe a discipline. On the 9th of to this round of heartless pleasures, and in a better April he was overtaken by a heavy shower whilst mood, though without any fixed attachment, he taking his daily ride, and an attack of fever and proposed and was accepted in marriage by a northern rheumatism followed. Prompt and copious bleeding heiress, Miss Milbanke, daughter of Sir Ralph Mil-. might have subdued the inflammation, but to this banke, a baronet in the county of Durham. The remedy Byron was strongly opposed. It was at union cast a shade on his hitherto bright career. length resorted to after seven days of increasing A twelvemonth's extravagance, embarrassments, fever, but the disease was then too powerful for and misunderstandings, dissolved the union, and remedy. The patient sank into a state of lethargy, the lady retired to the country seat of her parents and, though conscious of approaching death, could from the discord and perplexity of her own home. only mutter some indistinct expressions about his She refused, like the wife of Milton, to return, and wife, his sister, and child. He lay insensible for the world of England seemed to applaud her reso- twenty-four hours, and, opening his eyes for a lution. One child (now the Countess of Lovelace) moment, shut them for ever, and expired on the was the fruit of this unhappy marriage. Before evening of the 19th of April 1824. The people of the separation took place, Byron's muse, which had Greece publicly mourned for the irreparable loss been lulled or deadened by the comparative calm they had sustained, and the sentiment of grief was of domestic life, was stimulated to activity by his soon conveyed to the poet's native country, where deepening misfortunes, and he produced the Siege his name was still a talisman, and his early death of Corinth and Parisina. Miserable, reckless, yet was felt by all as a personal calamity. The body conscious of his own newly - awakened strength, of Byron was brought to England, and after lying Byron left England
in state in London, was interred in the family vault Once more upon the waters, yet once more !
in the village church of Hucknall, near Newstead.
Byron has been sometimes compared with Burns. and visiting France and Brussels, pursued his course Death and genius have levelled mere external disalong the Rhine to Geneva. Here, in six months, tinctions, and the peer and peasant stand on the he had composed the third canto of Childe Harold,' same elevation, to meet the gaze and scrutiny of and the Prisoner of Chillon. Ilis mental energy posterity. Both wrote directly from strong personal gathered force from the loneliness of his situation, feelings and impulses; both were the slaves of irreand his disgust with his native country. The scenery gular, uncontrolled passion, and the prey of disapof Switzerland and Italy next breathed its inspi- pointed hopes and constitutional melancholy; and ration: Manfred and the Lament of Tasso were both died, after a life of extraordinary intellectual produced in 1817. In the following year, whilst activity and excitement, at the same early age. We residing chiefly at Venice, and making one memorallow for the errors of Burns's position, and Byron's able visit to Rome, he completed Childe Harold,' demands a not less tender and candid construction. and threw off his light humorous poem of Beppo, Neglected in his youth-thwarted in his first love the first fruits of the more easy and genial manners -left without control or domestic influence when of the continent on his excitable temperament. his passions were strongestAt Venice, and afterwards at Ravenna, Byron resided till 1821, writing various works— Mazeppa,
Lord of himself, that heritage of wothe first five cantos of Don Juan, and his dramas intoxicated with early success and the incense of of Marino, Faliero, Sardanapalus, the Two Foscuri, almost universal admiration, his irregularities must Werner, Cain, the Deformed Transformed, &c. The be regarded more with pity than reprehension. year 1822 he passed chiefly at Pisa, continuing ‘Don After his unhappy marriage, the picture is clouded! Juan,' which ultimately extended to fifteen cantos. with darker shadows. The wild license of his conWe have not touched on his private history or in- tinental life it would be impossible to justify. His dulgences. His genius had begun to pale its fire:' excesses became habitual, and impaired both his his dramas were stiff, declamatory, and undramatic; l genius and his strength. He struggled on with
untamed pride and trembling susceptibility, but he Hers is the loveliness in death,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,
The farewell beam of Feeling past away! To Lite a
Spark of that fame-perchance of heavenly birthsou
Which gleams—but warms no more its cherished
earth! The ‘Prisoner of Chillon' is also natural and affecting: the story is painful and hopeless, but it is told with inimitable tenderness and simplicity. The reality of the scenes in ‘Don Juan' must strike every reader. Byron, it is well known, took pains to collect his materials. His account of the shipwreck is drawn from narratives of actual occurrences, and his Grecian pictures, feasts, dresses, and holiday pastimes, are literal transcripts from life. Coleridge thought the character of Lambro, and especially the description of his return, the finest of all Byron's efforts: it is more dramatic and life-like than any other of his numerous paintings. Haidee is also the most captivating of all his heroines. His Gulnares and Medoras, his corsairs and dark mysterious personages
Linked with one virtue and a thousand crimes
are monstrosities in nature, and do not possess one stosu
tithe of the interest or permanent poetical beauty that centres in the lonely residence in the Cyclades. The English descriptions in Juan are also far infe
rior. There is a palpable falling off in poetical Lord Byron's Tomb.
power, and the peculiar prejudices and forced illThe genius of Byron was as versatile as it was natured satire of the poet are brought prominently energetic. Childe Harold' and 'Don Juan' are per- forward. Yet even here we have occasionally a haps the greatest poetical works of this century, and flash of the early light that 'led astray.' The in the noble poet's tales and minor poems there is sketch of Aurora Raby is graceful and interesting a grace, an interest, and romantic picturesqueness, compared with Haidee, it is something like Fieldthat render them peculiarly fascinating to youthful ing's Amelia coming after Sophia Western), and readers. The Giaour' has passages of still higher Newstead Abbey is described with a clearness and description and feeling-particularly that fine burst beauty not unworthy the author of 'Childe Harold.' on modern Greece contrasted with its ancient glory, The Epicurean philosophy of the Childe is visible and the exquisitely pathetic and beautiful compari- in every page of Don Juan,' but it is no longer grave, son of the same country to the human frame bereft dignified, and misanthropical : it is mixed up with of life :
wit, humour, the keenest penetration, and the most
astonishing variety of expression, from colloquial [Picture of Modern Greece.]
carelessness and ease, to the highest and deepest He who hath bent him o'er the dead,
tones of the lyre. The poet has the power of MeEre the first day of death is fled
phistophiles over the scenes and passions of human The first dark day of nothingness,
life and society-disclosing their secret workings, The last of danger and distress
and stripping them of all conventional allurements Before decay's effacing fingers
and disguises. Unfortunately, his knowledge is more Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,
of evil than of good. The distinctions between virAnd marked the mild angelic air,
tue and vice had been broken down or obscured in The rapture of repose that's there
his own mind, and they are undistinguishable in 'Don The fixed yet tender traits that streak
Juan.' Early sensuality had tainted his whole nature. The languor of the placid cheek
He portrays generous emotions and moral feelings And—but for that sad shrouded eye,
—distress, suffering, and pathos—and then dashes That fires not-wins not—weeps not-now
them with burlesque humour, wild profanity, and And but for that chill changeless brow,
unseasonable merriment. In ‘Childe Harold' we have Whose touch thrills with mortality,
none of this moral anatomy, or its accompanying And curdles to the gazer's heart,
licentiousness ; but there is abundance of scorn and As if to him it could impart
defiance of the ordinary pursuits and ambition of The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon
mankind. The fairest portions of the earth are Yes--but for these and these alone
traversed in a spirit of bitterness and desolation by Some moments-ay-one treacherous hour, one satiated with pleasure, contemning society, the He still might doubt the tyrant's power,
victim of a dreary and hopeless scepticism. Such a So fair--so calm-so softly sealed
character would have been repulsive if the poem The first-last look-by death revealed !
had not been adorned with the graces of animated Such is the aspect of this shore;
description and original and striking sentiment. The 'Tis Greece--but living Greece no more!
poet's sketches of Spanish and Grecian scenery, and So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
his glimpses of the life and manners of the classic We start-for soul is wanting there.
mountaineers, are as true as were ever transferred
to canvass ; and the meditations of the Pilgrim on Look on its broken arch, its ruined wall, the particular events which adorned or cursed the Its chambers desolate, and portals foul : soil he trod, are marked with fervour and sublimity. Yes, this was once ambition's airy hall, Thus, on the field of Albuera, he conjures up an im The dome of thought, the palace of the soul ; age of war, one of the noblest creations in poetry : Behold through each lack-lustre eyeless hole,
The gay recess of wisdom and of wit, [Image of War.]
And passion's host, that never brooked control :
Can all saint, sage, or sophist ever writ,
Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son !
With brain-born dreams of evil all their own. Death rides upon the sulphury Siroc,
Pursue what chance or fate proclaimeth best ; Red Battle stamps his foot, and nations feel the shock. Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron :
There no forced banquet claims the sated guest, Lo! where the giant on the mountain stands,
But silence spreads the couch of ever-welcome rest. His blood-red tresses deepening in the sun, With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands,
Yet if, as holiest men hare deemed, there be And eye that scorcheth all it glares upon.
A land of souls beyond that sable shore, Restless it rolls, now fixed, and now anon
To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee
And sophists, madly vain of dubious lore,
With those who made our mortal labours light ! To shed before his shrine the blood he deems most To hear each voice we feared to hear no more! sweet.
Behold each mighty shade revealed to sight,
The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the In surveying the ruins of Athens, the spirit of
right! Byron soars to its loftiest flight, picturing its fallen glories, and indulging in the most touching and The third canto of Childe Harold' is more deeply magnificent strain of his sceptical philosophy : imbued with a love of nature than any of his pre
vious productions. A new power had been imparted [Ancient Greece.)
to him on the shores of the Leman lake.' He had
just escaped from the strife of London and his own Ancient of days ! august Athena! where,
domestic unhappiness, and his conversations with Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul ? Shelley might also have turned him more strongly Gone-glimmering through the dream of things to this pure poetical source. An evening scene by that were :
the side of the lake is thus exquisitely described :First in the race that led to Glory's goal, They won, and passed away—is this the whole ? It is the hush of night ; and all between A schoolboy's tale, the wonder of an hour !
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear, The warrior's weapon, and the sophist's stole,
Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seenAre sought in vain, and o’er each mouldering tower,
Sare darkened Jura, whose capped heights appear Dim with the mist of years, gray flits the shade of Precipitously steep; and drawing near, power.
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore,
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood : on the ear Son of the morning, rise ! approach you here !
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more ;
There seems a floating whisper on the hillPoor child of Doubt and Death, whose hope is built But that is fancy, for the star-light dews on reeds.
All silently their tears of love instil, Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse Is't not enough, unhappy thing! to know
Deep into nature's breast the spirit of her hues. Thou art ? Is this a boon so kindly given,
A forcible contrast to this still scene is then given That being, thou wouldst be again, and go, in a brief description of the same landscape during Thou know'st not, reck'st not, to what region, so a thunder storm :On earth no more, but mingled with the skies? Still wilt thou dream on future joy and wo?
The sky is changed !—and such a change! Oh night, Regard and weigh yon dust before it flies :
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong, That little urn saith more than thousand homilies. Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light Or burst the vanished hero's lofty mound :
Of a dark eye in woman! Far along Far on the solitary shore he sleeps :
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among, He fell, and falling, nations mourned around ;
Leaps the live thunder ! not from one lone cloud, But now not one of saddening thousands weeps,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue, Nor warlike worshipper his vigil keeps
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud, Where demi-gods appeared, as records tell.
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud! Remove yon skull from out the scattered heaps : And this is in the night : most glorious night! Is that a temple where a god may dwell?
Thou wert not sent for slumber 1 let me be Why, even the worm at last disdains her shattered A sharer in thy fierce and far delightcell.
A portion of the tempest and of thee !