Sidor som bilder

at a masquerade); at Nottingham in 1803; and at Southwell, in a house called Burgage Manor, in 1804. Byron visited Newstead in 1803, then occupied by Lord Grey de Ruthin, who set apart a room for his use. He was often at Annesley Hall, the seat of his distant cousins, the Chaworths. Mary Anne Chaworth was fifth in descent from Viscount Chaworth, and her grandfather was brother to the William Chaworth killed by the fifth Lord Byron. A superstitious fancy (duly turned to account in the "Siege of Corinth," xxi.) that the family portraits would descend from their frames to haunt the duellist's heir, made him refuse to sleep there; till a "bogle" seen on the road to Newstead - or some less fanciful motive induced him to stay for the night. He had fallen desperately in love with Mary Anne Chaworth, two years his senior, who naturally declined to take him seriously. A year later Miss Pigot describes him as a "fat bashful boy." In 1804 he found Miss Chaworth engaged to John Musters. The marriage took place in 1805. Moore gives a report, probably inaccurate, of Byron's agitation on hearing of the wedding. He dined with her and her husband in 1808, and was much affected by seeing her infant daughter. Poems addressed to her appeared in "Hours of Idleness" and Hobhouse's "Miscellany." He told Medwin (p. 65) that he had found in her "all that his youthful fancy could paint of beautiful." Mrs. Musters's marriage was unhappy; she was separated from her husband; her mind became affected, and she died in 1832, from a shock caused by riots at Nottingham. This passion seems to have left the most permanent traces on Byron's life; though it was a year later (if his account is accurate) that the news of Mary Duff's marriage nearly caused convulsions.

In October 1805, Byron entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a nobleman. A youth of "tumultuous passions," in the phrase of his college tutor, he was exposed to the temptations of his

rank, yet hardly within the sphere of its legitimate ambition. He rode, shot with a pistol, and boxed. He made a friend of the famous pugilist, Jackson, paid for postchaises to bring "dear Jack" to visit him at Brighton, invited him to Newstead, and gave him commissions about dogs and horses. He was greatest at swimming. The pool below the sluice at Grantchester is still called by his name. Leigh Hunt first saw him (Hunt, Byron, &c. p. 1.) swimming a match in the Thames under Jackson's supervision, and in August 1807, he boasts to Miss Pigot of a three-mile swim through Blackfriars and Westminster bridges. He travelled to vari ous resorts with a carriage, a pair of horses, a groom and valet, besides a bulldog and a Newfoundland. In 1806 his mother ended a quarrel by throwing a poker and tongs at his head She followed him to his lodgings ir London, whither he retreated, and there another engagement resulted in the defeat of the enemy his mother. Or

a visit to Harrogate in the same summe with his friend Pigot he was shy, quiet avoided drinking, and was polite t Professor Hailstone, of Trinity. Or some of his rambles he was accompanie by a girl in boy's clothes, whom h introduced as his younger brother. H tells Miss Pigot that he has playe hazard for two nights till four in th morning; and in a later diary (Moore chap. viii.) says that he loved gambling but left off in time, and played little afte he was of age. It is not surprising t find him confessing in 1808 (Letter 25 that he is "cursedly dipped," and wi owe £9000 or £10,000 on coming < The college authorities naturall looked askance at him; and Byro symbolised his opinion of dons b bringing up a bear to college, an declaring that the animal should s for a fellowship.


Byron formed friendships and ha pursuits of a more intellectual kin He seems to have resided at Cambridg for the Michaelmas term 1805, and th Lent and Easter terms 1806; 1

was then absent for nearly a year, and returned to keep (probably) the Easter term of 1807, the following October and Lent terms, and perhaps the Easter term of 1808, taking his M.A. degree on 4 July 1808.1 In the first period of residence, though sulky and solitary, he became the admiring friend of W. J. Barkes, was intimate with Edward Noel Long, and protected a chorister. named Eddlestone. His friendship with this youth, he tells Miss Pigot (July 1807), is to eclipse all the classical precedents, and Byron means to get a partnership for his friend, or to take him as a permanent companion. Eddlestone died of consumption in 1811, and Byron it then reclaimed from Miss Pigot a escornelian which he had originally Is received from Eddlestone, and handed on to her. References to this friendship are in the "Hours of Idleness," and 5 probably in the "Cornelian Heart" (dated March 1812). Long entered the army, and was drowned in a transport in 1809, to Byron's profound affliction. He became intimate with two fellows of King's-Henry Drury and Francis Hodgson, afterwards provost of Eton. 1 Byron showed his friendship for HodgSon by a present of £1000 in 1813, when Hodgson was in embarrassment and Byron not over-rich. In his later residence a closer "coterie " was formed by Byron, Hobhouse, Davies, and C.S. Matthews. John Cam Hobhouse, afterwards Lord Broughton, was his friend through life. Scrope Berdmore Davies, a man of wit and taste, delighted Byron by his "dashing vivacity," and lent him £4800, the repayment of which was celebrated by a drinking bout at the Cocoa on 27 March 1814. Hodgson reports that when Byron exclaimed melodramatically, "I shall go mad," Davies used to suggest "silly" as a probable emendation. Matthews was regarded as the most promising of the friends. Byron described his audacity, his swimming and boxing, and conversational powers in a letter to Murray (20 Nov. 1820), and

Information kindly given by Cambridge au


[ocr errors]

tells Dallas that he was a "most decided" and outspoken "atheist."

Among these friends Byron varied the pursuit of pleasure by literary efforts. He boasts in a juvenile letter that he has often been compared to "the wicked" Lord Lyttelton, and has already been held up as "the votary of licentiousness and the disciple of infidelity." A list (dated 30 Nov. 1807) shows that he had read or looked through many historical books and novels "by the thousand." His memory was remarkable. Scott, however, found that in 1815 his reading did "not appear to have been extensive, either in history or poetry"; and the list does not imply that he had strayed beyond the highways of literature.

At Southwell, in September 1806, he took the principal part (Penruddock, an "amiable misanthrope") in an amateur performance of Cumberland's "Wheel of Fortune," and "spun a prologue" in a postchaise. About the same time he confessed to Miss Pigot, who had been reading Burns to him, that he too was a poet, and wrote down the lines "In thee I fondly hope to clasp." In November 1806 Ridge, a Newark bookseller, had privately printed for him a small volume of poems, entitled "Fugitive Pieces." His friend, Mr. Becher, a Southwell clergyman, remonstrated against the license of one poem. Byron immediately destroyed the whole impression (except one copy in Becher's hands and one sent to young Pigot, then studying medicine at Edinburgh). A hundred copies, omitting the offensive verses, and with some additions, under the title "Poems on Various Occasions," were distributed in January 1807. Favourable notices came to the author from Bankes, Henry Mackenzie ("The Man of Feeling"), and Lord Woodhouselee. In the summer of 1807 Byron published a collection called "Hours of Idleness, a series of Poems, original and translated, by George Gordon, Lord Byron, a minor," from which twenty of the privately printed

poems were omitted and others added. It was praised in the Critical Review of September 1807, and abused in the first number of the Satirist. A new edition, with some additions and without the prefaces, appeared in March 1808. In January 1808 the famous criticism came out in the Edinburgh (Byron speaks of this as about to appear in a letter dated 26 Feb. 1808). The critique has been attributed both to Brougham and Jeffrey. Jeffrey seems to have denied the authorship, and the ponderous legal facetiousness is certainly not unlike Brougham, whom Byron came to regard as the author. The severity was natural enough. Scott, indeed, says that he remonstrated with Jeffrey, thinking that the poems contained 'some passages of noble promise." But the want of critical acumen is less obvious than the needless cruelty of the wound inflicted upon a boy's harmless vanity., Byron was deeply stung. He often boasted afterwards that he instantly drank three bottles of claret and began a reply. He had already in his desk, on 26 Oct. 1807, 380 lines of his satire, besides 214 pages of a novel, 560 lines in blank verse of a poem on Bosworth Field, and other pieces. He now carefully polished his satire, and had it put in type by Ridge.

On leaving Cambridge he had settled at Newstead, given up in ruinous condition by Lord Grey in the previous April, where he had a few rooms made habitable, and celebrated his coming of age by some meagre approach to the usual festivities. A favourable decision in the courts had given him hopes of Rochdale, and made him, he says, £60,000 richer. The suit, however, dragged on through his life. Meanwhile he had to raise money to make repairs and maintain his establishment at Newstead, with which he declares his resolution never to part (Letter of 6 March 1809). The same letter announces the death of his friend Lord

[ocr errors]

See account of these editions in appendix to English translation of Elz's Byron (1872), P. 446.

Falkland in a duel. In spite of his own difficulties Byron tried to help the widow, stood godfather to her infant and left a £500 note for his godchild in a breakfast cup. In a letter from Mrs Byron' this is apparently mentioned a a loan to Lady Falkland. On 13 March he took his seat in the House of Lords Lord Carlisle had acknowledged th receipt of "Hours of Idleness," th second edition of which had been dedi cated to him, in a "tolerably handsom letter," but would take no trouble abou introducing his ward. Byron wa accompanied to the house by no on but Dallas, a small author, whose siste was the wife of Byron's uncle, Georg Anson, and who had recently sough his acquaintance. Byron felt his isola tion, and sulkily put aside a greetin from the chancellor (Eldon). He erase a compliment to Carlisle and substi tuted a bitter attack in his satire whic was now going through the press unde Dallas's superintendence. Englis Bards and Scotch Reviewers" appeare in the middle of March, and at onc made its mark. He prepared a secon edition at the end of April with add: tions and a swaggering prose postscrip announcing his departure from Englan and declaring that his motive was no fear of his ims' antipathies. Th satire is vigorously written and mor carefully polished than Byron's late efforts; but has not the bitterness, th keenness, or the fine workmanship ( Pope. The retort upon his reviewe is only part of a long tirade upon th other poets of the day. In 1816 Byro made some annotations on the poem Geneva, admitting the injustice of mar lines. A third and fourth edition aj peared in 1810 and 1811; in the la year he prepared a fifth for the pres He suppressed it, as many of his adve saries were now on friendly terms wit him, and destroyed all but one cop from which later editions have bee printed. He told Murray (23 Oc 1817) that he would never consent 1 its republication.

Athenæum, 6 Sept. 1884.

[ocr errors]

Byron had for some time contemplated making his "grand tour." In the autumn of 1808 he got up a play at Newstead; he buried his Newfoundland, Boatswain, who died of madness 18 Nov. 1808, under a monument with a misanthropical inscription; and in the Le following spring entertained his college friends. C. S. Matthews describes their amusements in a letter published by Moore. They dressed themselves in theatrical costumes of monks (with a recollection, perhaps, of Medmenham), and drank burgundy out of a human skull found near the abbey, which Byron had fashioned into a cup with an appropriate inscription. (Such revelries suggested extravagant rumours of reckless orgies and "harems" in the abbey. Moore assures us that the life there was in reality "simple and inexpensive," and the scandal of limited application.

Byron took leave of England by some verses to Mrs. Musters about his blighted affections, and sailed from Falmouth in the Lisbon packet on 2 July 1809. Hobhouse accompanied him, and he took three servants, Fletcher (who followed him to the last), Rushton, and Joe Murray. From Lisbon he rode across Spain to Seville and Cadiz, and thence sailed to Gibraltar in the Hyperion frigate in the beginning of August. He sent home Murray and Rushton with instructions for the proper education of the latter at his own expense. He sailed in the packet for Malta on 19 Aug. 1809, in company with Galt, who afterwards wrote his life, and who was rather amused by the affectations of the youthful peer. At Malta he fell in with a Mrs. Spencer Smith with a romantic history,1 to whom he addressed the verses "To ve Florence," 'stanzas composed during a thunderstorm," and a passage in "Childe Harold" (ii. st. 30-3), explaining that his heart was now past the power of loving. From Malta he reached Prevesa in the Spider, brig of



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

See Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Abrantes (1834), XV. I-74.

war, on 19 Sept. 1809. He thence visited Ali Pasha at Tepelen, and was nearly lost in a Turkish man-of-war on his return. In November he travelled to Missolonghi (21 Nov.) through Acarnania with a guard of Albanians. He stayed a fortnight at Patras, and thence left for Athens. He reached Athens on Christmas eve and lodged with Theodora Macri, widow of the English vice-consul, who had three lovely daughters. The eldest, Theresa, celebrated by Byron as the Maid of Athens, became Mrs. Black. He sailed from Athens for Smyrna in the Pylades, sloop of war, on 5 March 1810; visited Ephesus; and on 11 April sailed in the Salsette frigate for Constantinople, and visited the Troad. On 3 May he repeated Leander's feat of swimming from Sestos to Abydos. In February 1821 he wrote a long letter to Murray, defending his statements against some criticisms in W. Turner's "Tour in the Levant" (see Appendix to Moore).

Byron reached Constantinople on 14 May, and sailed in the Salsette on 14 July. Hobhouse returned to England, while Byron landed at Zea, with Fletcher, two Albanians, and a Tartar, and returned to Athens. Here he professed to have met with the adventure turned to account in the "Giaour" about saving a girl from being drowned in a sack. A letter from Lord Sligo, who was then at Athens, to Byron, proves that some such report was current at Athens a day or two later, and may possibly have had some foundation. Hobhouse 2 says that Byron's Turkish servant was the lover of the girl. He made a tour in the Morea, had a dangerous fever at Patras (which left a liability to malaria), and returned to Athens, where he passed the winter of 1810-11 in the Capuchin convent. Here he met Lady Hester Stanhope, and formed one of his strong attach

She fell into poverty, and an appeal for her support was made in the Times on 23 March 1872. She died in October 1875 (Times, 21, 25, 27 Oct. 1875).

Westminster Review, January 1825.

[ocr errors]

ments to a youth called Nicolo Giraud. To this lad he gave a sum of money on parting, and left him £700 in a will of August 1811. From Athens Byron went to Malta, and sailed from thence for England in the Volage frigate on 3 June 1811. He reached Portsmouth at the beginning of July, and was met by Dallas at Reddish's Hotel, St. James Street, on 15 July, 1811.

Byron returned to isolation and vexation. He had told his mother that, if compelled to part with Newstead, he should retire to the East. To Hodgson he wrote while at sea that he was returning embarrassed, unsocial, "without a hope and almost without a desire." His financial difficulties are shown by a series of letters published in the Athenæum.1 The court of chancery had allowed him £500 a year at Cambridge, to which his mother had added as much, besides incurring a debt of £1000 on his behalf. He is reduced to his last guinea in December 1807, has obtained loans from Jews, and expects to end by suicide or the marriage of a "golden dolly." His mother was put to the greatest difficulties during his travels, and he seems to have been careless in providing for her wants. The bailiffs were at Newstead in February 1810; a sale was threatened in June. Byron writes from Athens in November refus

ing to sell Newstead. While returning to England he proposed to join the army, and had to borrow money to pay for his journey to London. News of his mother's illness came to him in London, and before he could reach her she died (1 Aug. 1811) of a "fit of rage caused by reading the upholsterer's bills." The loss affected him deeply, and he was found sobbing by her remains over the loss of his one friend in the world. The deaths of his school friend Wingfield (14 May 1811), of C. S. Matthews, and of Eddlestone were nearly simultaneous blows, and he tells Miss Pigot that the last death "made the sixth, within four months, of friends and relatives lost between May and the end of 30 Aug. and 6 Sept. 1884.

August." In February 1812 he mentions Eddlestone to Hodgson as the "only human being that ever loved him in truth and entirely." He adds that where death has set his scal the impression can never be broken. The phrase recurs in the most impressive of the poems to Thyrza, dated in the same month. The coincidence seems to confirm Moore's statement that Thyrza was no more than an impersonation of Byron's melancholy caused by many losses. An apostrophe to a "loved and lovely one" at the end of the second canto of "Childe Harold" (st. 95, 96) belongs to the same series. Attempts to identify Thyrza have failed. Byron spoke to Trelawny of a passion for a cousin who was in a decline when he left England, and whom Trelawny identifies with Thyrza. No one seems to answer to the description. It may be added that he speaks of a "violent, though pure love and passion" which absorbed him while at Cambridge, and writes to Dallas (11 Oct. 1811) of a loss about this time which would have profoundly moved him but that he "has supped full of horrors," and that Dallas understands him as referring to some one who might have made him happy as a wife. Byron had sufficient elasticity of spirit for a defiance of the world, and a vanity keen enough to make a boastful exhibition of premature cynicism and a blighted heart.

At the end of October 1811 he took lodgings in St. James Street. He had shown to Dallas upon his return to England the first two cantos of "Childe Harold" and "Hints from Horace," a tame paraphrase of the "Ars Poetica." According to Dallas, he preferred the last, and was unwilling to publish the "Childe." Cawthorn, who had published the "English Bards," &c., accepted the "Hints" (which did not appear till after Byron's death), but the publication was delayed, apparently for want of a good classical reviser. The Longmans had refused the "English Bards," which attacked their friends, and Byron told Dallas to offer

« FöregåendeFortsätt »