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THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE FIRST EDITION. 1
[January, 1830.) In presenting these Volumes to the public of this work, and which will be found equal, I should have felt, I own, considerable diffi- if not superior, in point of vigour, variety, dence, from a sincere distrust in my own and liveliness, to any that have yet adorned powers of doing justice to such a task, were this branch of our literature, I not well convinced that there is in the What has been said of Petrarch, that “his subject itself, and in the rich variety of correspondence and verses together afford materials here brought to illustrate it, a de- the progressive interest of a narrative in gree of attraction and interest which it would which the poet is always identified with the be difficult, even for hands the most unskilful, man,” will be found applicable, in a far greater to extinguish. However lamentable were the degree, to Lord Byron, in whom the literary circumstances under which Lord Byron be- and the personal character were so closely came estranged from his country, to his long interwoven, that to have left his works withabsence from England, during the most bril- out the instructive commentary which his liant period of his powers, we are indebted | Life and Correspondence afford, would have for all those interesting Letters which com- been equally an injustice both to himself pose the greater part of the Second Volume and to the world. 2
“ These letters cannot be perused without producing [The original edition was in two volumes, 4to.]
an enlarged estimation of the deceased poet's talents and : [" These Letters are among the best in our language. accomplishments. They render it hardly doubtful that They are less affected than those of Pope and Walpole ; had his life been prolonged, he would have taken his they have more matter in them than those of Cowper. | place in the very first rank of our prose literature also. Knowing that many of them were not written merely for Here are numberless brief and rapid specimens of narrathe gentleman to whom they were directed, but were tive, serious and comic, distinguished by a masterly comgeneral epistles meant to be read by a large circle, we bination of simplicity, energy, and grace, -of critical expected to find them clever and spirited, but deficient disquisition, at once ingenious and profound, -- of satire in ease. We have been agreeably disappointed ; and we both stern and playful, not surpassed in modern days; must confess, that if the epistolary style of Lord Byron and, above all, here are transcripts of mental emotion in was artificial, it was a rare and admirable instance of that all possible varieties, worthy of him who was equally at highest art, which cannot be distinguished from nature."
home in the darkest passion of Harold, and the airiest - Edinburgh Rev. 1831.
levity of Beppo.” - Quart. Rev. 1830.]
(December, 1830.] The favourable reception which I ventured Sanguinely as I as led to augur of the to anticipate for the First Volume of this reception of our First Volume, of the sucWork has been, to the full extent of my ex
cess of that which we now present to the pectations, realised ; and I may without public I am disposed to feel even still more scruple thus advert to the success it has met confident. Though self-banished from Engwith, being well aware that to the interest land, it was plain that to England alone Lord of the subject and the materials, not to any Byron continued to look, throughout the remerit of the editor, such a result is to be at- mainder of his days, not only as the natural tributed. Among the less agreeable, though theatre of his literary fame, but as the trinot least valid, proofs of this success may be bunal to which all his thoughts, feelings, vircounted the attacks which, from more than tues, and frailties were to be referred ; and one quarter, the Volume has provoked ; – the exclamation of Alexander, “Oh, Atheattacks angry enough, it must be confessed, nians, how much it costs me to obtain your but, from their very anger, impotent, and, as praises ! ” might have been, with equal truth, containing nothing whatever in the shape addressed by the noble exile to his countryeither of argument or fact, not entitled, I To keep the minds of the English may be pardoned for saying, to the slightest public for ever occupied about him, — if not notice.
with his merits, with his faults ; if not in apOf a very different description, both as plauding, in blaming him, — was, day and regards the respectability of the source from night, the constant ambition of his soul ; and whence it comes, and the mysterious interest in the correspondence he so regularly maininvolved in its contents, is a document which tained with his publisher, one of the chief made its appearance soon after the former mediums through which this object was to Volume', and which I have annexed, with be effected lay. Mr. Murray's house being out a single line of comment, to the present ; then, as now, the resort of most of those - contenting myself, on this painful subject, literary men who are, at the same time, men with entreating the reader's attention to some of the world, his Lordship knew that whatever extracts, as beautiful as they are, to my mind, particulars he might wish to make public conconvincing, from an unpublished pamphlet cerning himself would, if transmitted to that of Lord Byron, which will be found in the quarter, be sure to circulate from thence following pages.
throughout society. It was on this presumption that he but rarely, as we shall find him
more than once stating, corresponded with i It is almost unnecessary to apprise the reader that the
any others of his friends at home ; and to paragraph at p. 416. beginning “ How groundless," &c. was written before the appearance of this extraordinary the mere accident of my having been, myself,
away from England, at the time, was I in? [See p. 661. and also Works, p.801.)
debted for the numerous and no less inte
resting letters with which, during the same did me the favour of addressing to me soon period, he honoured me, and which now en- after his Lordship's deaths :—“When Lord rich this volume,
Byron went to Greece, he gave me orders to In these two sets of correspondence (given advance money to Madame Guiccioli ; but as they are here, with as little suppression that lady would never consent to receive any. as a regard to private feelings and to certain His Lordship had also told me that he meant other considerations warrants) will be found to leave his will in my hands, and that there a complete history, from the pen of the poet would be a bequest in it of 10,0001.to Madame himself
, of the course of his life and thoughts, Guiccioli. He mentioned this circumstance during this most energetic period of his whole also to Lord Blessington. When the melancareer ; — presenting altogether so wide a choly news of his death reached me, I took canvass of animated and, often, unconscious for granted that this will would be found self-portraiture, as even the communicative among the sealed papers he had left with spirit of genius has seldom, if ever, before me ; but there was no such instrument. I bestowed on the world.
immediately then wrote to MadameGuiccioli, Some insinuations, calling into question enquiring if she knew any thing concerning the disinterestedness of the lady whose fate it, and mentioning, at the same time, what was connected with that of Lord Byron his Lordship had said as to the legacy. To during his latter years, having been brought this the lady replied, that he had frequently forward, or rather revived, in a late work, spoken to her on the same subject, but that entitled “Galt's Life of Byron,”. - a work she had always cut the conversation short, wholly unworthy of the respectable name it as it was a topic she by no means liked to bears ', - I may be allowed to adduce here hear him speak upon. In addition, she exa testimony on this subject, which has been pressed a wish that no such will as I had omitted in its proper place 2, but which will mentioned would be found ; as her circumbe more than sufficient to set the idle calumny stances were already sufficiently independent, at rest. The circumstance here alluded to and the world might put a wrong construcmay be most clearly, perhaps, communicated tion on her attachment, should it appear to my readers through the medium of the that her fortunes were, in any degree, betfollowing extract from a letter, which Mr. tered by it.” + Barry (the friend and banker of Lord Byron)
"I"On his departure for Greece, Lord Byron left her, as it is said, notwithstanding the rank and opulence she had forsaken on his account, without any provision : he had promised to settle two thousand pounds on her, but he forgot the intention, or died before it was carried into effect.” – Galt, p. 228.]
? In p. 419., however, the reader will find it alluded to, and in terms such as conduct so disinterested deserves.
3 June 12. 1828.
4 ["I happen to know that Lord Byron offered to give the Guiccioli a sum of money outright, or to leave it to her by will. I also happen to know that the lady would not hear of any such present or provision ; for I have a letter in which Lord Byron extols her disinterestedness."
LIFE OF LORD BYRON.
THE BYRON FAMILY. NEWSTEAD. -BIRTH OF THE POET. LONDON.
It has been said of Lord Byron, that “ he was tisfaction, those mail-covered barons”
who proudly to battle
Led their vassals from Europe to Palestine's plain.'
* Near Askalon's towers John of Horiston slumbers; truth. In the character of the noble Poet,
Unnerved is the hand of his minstrel by death.' the pride of ancestry was undoubtedly one As there is no record, however, as far as I of the most decided features, and, as far as can discover, of any of his ancestors having antiquity alone gives lustre to descent, he had been engaged in the Holy Wars, it is possible every reason to boast of the claims of his race. that he may have had no other authority for In Doomsday-book, the name of Ralph de this notion than the tradition which he found Burun ranks high among the tenants of land connected with certain strange groups of in Nottinghamshire ; and in the succeeding heads, which are represented on the old reigns, under the title of Lords of Horestan panel-work, in some of the chambers at Castle', we find his descendants holding Newstead. In one of these groups, consisting considerable possessions in Derbyshire ; to of three heads, strongly carved and projecting which, afterwards, in the time of Edward I., from the panel, the centre figure evidently were added the lands of Rochdale in Lan- represents a Saracen or Mod cashire. So extensive, indeed, in those early European female on one side of him, and a times
, was the landed wealth of the family, Christian soldier on the other. In a second that the partition of their property, in group, which is in one of the bedrooms, the Nottinghamshire alone, has been sufficient female occupies the centre, while on each to establish some of the first families of the side is the head of a Saracen, with the eyes county.
fixed earnestly upon her. Of the exact Its antiquity, however, was not the only meaning of these figures there is nothing distinction by which the name of Byron came certain known; but the tradition is, I recommended to its inheritor ; those personal understand, that they refer to some lovemerits and accomplishments, which form adventure, in which one of those crusaders, the best ornament of a genealogy, seem to
of whom the young poet speaks, was enhave been displayed in no ordinary degree gaged. ? by some of his ancestors. In one of his own Of the more certain, or, at least, better carly poems, alluding to the achievements of known exploits of the family, it is sufficient, his
he commemorates, with much sa- perhaps, to say, that, at the siege of Calais
" In the park of Horseley," says Thoroton, in his History of Nottinghamshire, “there was a castle, some of the ruins whereof are yet visible, called Horestan Castle, which was the chief mansion of his (Ralph de Burun's) successors."
? [" The first is, perhaps, an ecclesiastical allegory, de scriptive of the Saracen and the Christian warrior contending for the liberation of the church; the other may have been the old favourite ecclesiastical story of Susannah and the elders." - GALT.]