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after the most brutal conduct on his part, and the greatest misery and keenest remorse on hers, was dissolved in two years by her sinking to the grave, the victim of a broken heart. About three years subsequently, Captain Byron sought to recruit his fortune by matrimony, and having made a conquest of Miss Catherine Gordon, an Aberdeenshire heiress (lineally descended from the Earl of Huntley and the Princess Jane, daugh
turning himself round from this act, he perceived his lordship with his sword half drawn, or nearly so: on which, knowing his man, he instantly drew his own, and made a thrust at him, which he thought had wounded or killed him; that then, perceiving his lordship shorten his sword to return the thrust, he thought to have parried it with his left hand; that he felt the sword enter his body and go deep through his back; that he struggled, and being the stronger man, disarmed his lord-ter of James II of Scotland), he united himself to ship, and expressed some concern, as under the apprehension of having mortally wounded him; that Lord Byron replied by saying something to the like effect, adding at the same time, that he hoped « he would now allow him to be as brave a man as any in the kingdom.»
For this offence he was unanimously convicted of manslaughter, but, on being brought up for judgment, pleaded his privilege as a peer, and was, in consequence, discharged. After this affair he was abandoned by his relations, and retired to Newstead Abbey; where, while he lived in a state of exile from persons of his own rank, his unhappy temper found abundant exercise in continual war with his neighbours and tenants, and One of sufficient punishment in their hatred. his amusements was feeding crickets, which he rendered so tame as to crawl over him, and used to whip them with a wisp of straw when too familiar. In this forlorn condition he lingered out a long life, doing all in his power to ruin the paternal mansion for that other branch of the family to which he was aware it must pass at his death, all his own children having descended before him to the grave.
John, the next brother to William, and born in the year after him, that is in 1723, was of a very different disposition, but his career in life was almost an unbroken series of misfortunes. The hardships he endured while accompanying Commodore Auson in his expedition to the South Seas are well known, from his own highly popular and affecting narrative. His only son, born in 1751, who received an excellent education, and held a commission in the guards, was so dissipated that he was known by the name of mad Jack Byron." He was one of the handsomest men of his time; but his character was so notorious that his father was obliged to desert him, and his company was shunned by the better part of society. In his twenty-seventh year he seduced the Marchioness of Carmarthen, who had been but a few years married to a husband, with whom she lived in the greatest happiness until the commencement of this unfortunate connexion. After a fruitless attempt at reclaiming his lady, the marquis obtained a divorce; and a marriage was brought about between her and her seducer, which,
her, ran through her property in a few years, and, leaving her and her only child, the subject of this memoir, fled to France to avoid his creditors, and died at Valenciennes, in 1791.
In Captain Medwin's « Conversations of Lord Byron," the following expressions are said to have fallen from his lordship on the subject of his unprincipled father :
I lost my father when I was only six years of age. My mother, when she was in a rage with me (and I gave her cause enough), used to say, 'Ah! you little dog, you are a Byron all over; you are as bad as your father! It was very different from Mrs Malaprop's saying, 'Ah! good dear Mr Malaprop! I never loved him till he was dead.' But, in fact, my father was, in his youth, any thing but a Calebs in search of a wife.' He would have made a bad hero for Hannah More. He ran out three fortunes, and married or ran away with three women; and once wanted a guinea, that he wrote for: I have the note. seemed born for his own ruin, and that of the other sex. He began by seducing Lady Carmarthen, and spent for her four thousand pounds ayear; and, not content with one adventure of this kind, afterwards eloped with Miss Gordon. This marriage was not destined to be a very fortunate one either, and I don't wonder at her differing from Sheridan's widow in the play; they certainly could not have claimed 'the flitch.'»
George Byron Gordon (for so he was called on account of the neglect his father's family had shown to his mother) was born at Dover, on the 22d of January, 1788. On the flight of his father, the entire care of his infant years devolved upon his mother, who retired to Aberdeen, where she lived in almost perfect seclusion, on Her undivided afthe remains of her fortune. fection was naturally centred in her son: if he only went out for the purpose of walking she would entreat him, with the tear glistening she in her eye, to take care of himself, as had nothing on earth but him to live for;»-a conduct not at all pleasing to his adventurous spirit, the more especially as such of his companions, as witnessed these affectionate scenes, were wout to laugh at and ridicule him about them. Her excessive maternal indulgence, and the absence of
stituted his chief delight, and, to the superficial observer, seemed his sole occupation.
that salutary discipline and control so necessary to childhood, doubtless contributed to the formation of the less pleasing features of Lord Byron's chaHe was exceedingly brave, and in the juvenile racter. It must, however, be remembered in Mrs By-wars of the school, he generally gained the vicron's extenuation, not only that the circumstances tory. Upon one occasion, a boy pursued by anin which she had been left with her son were of a other took refuge in Mrs Byron's house: the very peculiar nature, but also that a slight mal- latter youth, who had been much abused by the formation of one of his feet, and great weakness former, proceeded to take vengeance on him on of constitution, naturally obtained for him in the the landing-place of the drawing-room stairs, heart of a mother a more than ordinary portion when George interposed in his defence, declaring of tenderness. For these latter reasons he was that nobody should be ill-used while under his not sent very early to school, but was allowed to roof and protection. Upon this the aggressor expand his lungs, and brace his limbs, upon the dared him to fight, and, although the former neighbouring mountains. This was evidently was by much the stronger of the two, the spirit the most judicious method of imparting strength of young Byron was so determined, that after to his bodily frame; and the sequel showed that the combat had lasted nearly two hours, it was it was not the worst for giving tone and vigour suspended only in consequence of their comto his mind. The savage grandeur of nature plete exhaustion. around him; the feeling that he was upon hills where
Foreign tyrant never trod,
But Freedom, with her faulchion bright,
his intercourse with a people whose chief amuse-
A school-fellow of Byron's had a very small Shetland pony, which his father had bought for him: they went one day to the banks of the Don to bathe, but, having only the pony, they were obliged to follow the good old practice called in Scotland ride and tie. When they came to the bridge over that dark romantic stream, Byron bethought him of the prophecy which he has quoted in Don Juan:
Brig of Balgounie, black's your wa';
When George was seven years of age, his mo- He immediately stopped his companion, who was ther sent him to the grammar-school at Aber-riding, and asked him if he remembered the deen, where he remained till his removal to prophecy, saying, that as they were both only Harrow, with the exception of some intervals of sons, and as the pony might be a mare's ae foal,» absence, which were deemed requisite for the he would ride over first, because he had only a preservation of his health. His progress beyond mother to lament him, should the prophecy be that of the general run of his class-fellows was fulfilled by the falling of the bridge; wheras the never so remarkable as after those occasional in- other had both a father and a mother. tervals of recreation, when, in a few days he It is the custom of the grammar-school at Aberwould master exercises which, in the ordinary deen, that the boys of all the five classes of school routine, it had required weeks to accom- which it is composed should be assembled for plish. But when he had overtaken the rest of prayers in the public school at eight o'clock in the class, he always relaxed his exertions, and, the morning; after prayers, a censor calls over contenting himself with being considered a to- the names, and those who are absent are punlerable scholar, never made any extraordinary ished. The first time that Lord Byron had come effort to place himself at the head of the highest to school after his accession to his title, the rector form. It was only out of school that he aspired had caused his name to be inserted in the censor's to be the leader of every thing; in all boyish book, Georgius Dominus de Byron, instead of games and amusements he would be first if pos- Georgius Byron Gordon as formerly. The boys, sible. For this he was eminently calculated; unaccustomed to this aristocratic sound, set up a quick, enterprising, and daring, the energy of loud and involuntary shout, which had such an his mind enabled him to overcome the impedi-effect on his sensitive mind that he burst into ments which nature had thrown in his way. Even at that early period (from eight to ten years of age), all his sports were of a manly character; fishing, shooting, swimming, managing a horse, or steering and trimming the sails of a boat, con
tears, and would have fled from the school had he not been restrained by the master.
The answer which Lord Byron made to a fellow scholar, who questioned him as to the cause of the honorary addition of « Dominus de Byron »
to his name, served at that time, when he was cricket on the common. He was not remarkable only ten years of age, to point out that he would |(nor was he ever) for his learning, but he was be a man who would speak and act for himself always a clever, plain-spoken, and undaunted -who, whatever might be his vices or his virtues, boy. I have seen him fight by the hour like a would not condescend to receive them at second-Trojan, and stand up against the disadvantage hand. It took place the very day after he had of his lameness with all the spirit of an ancient been menaced with a flogging round the school combatant. Don't you remember your battle for a fault which he had not committed. When with Pitt?' (a brewer's son), said I to him in a the question was put to him, he replied, « It is | letter (for I had witnessed it), but it seems that not my doing; Fortune was to whip me yesterday he had forgotten it. You are mistaken, I think,' for what another did, and she has this day made said he in reply; it must have been with Riceme a lord for what another has ceased to do. 1 Pudding Morgan, or Lord Jocelyn, or one of the need not thank her in either case, for I have Douglasses, or George Raynsford, or Pryce (with asked nothing at her hands.» whom I had two conflicts), or with Moses Moore (the clod), or with somebody else, and not with Pitt; for with all the above-named and other worthies of the fist had I au interchange of black | eyes and bloody noses, at various and sundry periods; however it may have happened for all that.'»
The annexed anecdotes are characteristic.
On the 17th of May, 1798, William, the fifth Lord Byron, departed this life at Newstead. The son of this eccentric nobleman died when George was five years old, and as the descent both of the titles and estates was to heirs-male, the latter, of course, succeeded his great-uncle. Upon this change of fortune Lord Byron, now ten years of age, was removed from the immediate care of his mother, and placed as a ward under the guardianship of the Earl of Carlisle, whose father had married Isabella, the sister of the preceding Lord Byron. In one or two points of character this great-aunt resembled the bard: she also wrote beautiful poetry, and after adorn-tended conflagration. His lordship piqued himself ing the gay and fashionable world for many years, she left it without any apparent cause and with perfect indifference, and in a great measure secluded herself from society.
The boys at Harrow had mutinied, and in their wisdom resolved to set fire to the scene of all their ills and troubles the school-room. Byron, however, was against the motion, and by pointing out to the young rebels the names of their fathers on the walls, he prevented the in
not a little upon this early specimen of his power over the passions of his school-fellows.
Byron long retained a friendship for several of his Harrow school-comrades. Lord Clare was one of his constant correspondents; and Scroope Davies was also one of his chief companions before his lordship went to the continent. The latter gentleman and Byron once lost all their money at « chicken hazard," in one of the hells of St. James's, and the next morning Davies sent for Byron's pistols to shoot himself with. Byron sent a note refusing to give them, on the ground that they would be forfeited as a deodand, and this comic excuse had the desired effect.
The young nobleman's guardian decided that he should receive the usual education given to England's titled sons, and that he should in the first instance be sent to the public school at Harrow. He was accordingly placed there under the tuition of the Rev. Dr Drury, to whom he has testified his gratitude in a note to the fourth canto of Childe Harold, in a manner which does equal honour to the tutor and the pupil. A change of scene and circumstances so rapid, would have been hazardous to any boy, but Byron, whilst living at Newstead during the it was doubly so to one of Byron's ardent mind Harrow vacation, saw and became enamoured of and previous habits. Taken at once from the Miss Chaworth, the Mary of his poetry, and the society of boys in ordinary life, and placed maiden of his beautiful « Dream.» Miss Chaamong youths of his own newly-acquired rank, | worth was older than his lordship by a few years, with means of gratification which to him must was light and volatile, and though, no doubt, have appeared considerable, it is by no means surprising that he should have been betrayed into every sort of extravagance: none of them appear, however, to have been of a very culpable
highly flattered by his attachment, treated our poet less as an ardent lover than as a younger brother. She was punctual to their assignations, which took place at a gate dividing the grounds of the Byrons from the Chaworths, and received | « Though he was lame,» says one of his school-all his letters; but her answers, it is said, were fellows, he was a great lover of sports, and preferred hockey to Horace, relinquished even Helicon for ‘duck-puddle,' and gave up the best poet that ever wrote hard Latin for a game of
written with more of the caution of coquetry than the romance of « love's young dream.» She, however, gave him her picture, but her hand was reserved for another.
The following descriptions of Newstead will be found interesting:
It was somewhat remarkable that Lord Byron foundland dog, to try whose sagacity and fidelity and Miss Chaworth should both have been under he used to let himself fall out of the boat, as if the guardianship of Mr White. This gentleman by accident, when the dog would seize him, and | particularly wished that his wards should be drag him ashore. On losing this dog, in the | united in marriage; but Miss C., as young ladies autumn of 1808, he caused a monument to be generally do in such circumstances, differed from erected, with an inscription commemorative of him, and was resolved to please herself in the its attachment. (See page 532.) choice of a husband. The celebrated Mr M., commonly known by the name of Jack M., was at this time quite the rage, and Miss C. was not subtle enough to conceal the penchant she had for him: it was in vain that Mr W. took her from one watering-place to another; still the lover, like an evil spirit, followed; and at last, being somehow more persuasive than the « child of song, he carried off the lady, to the great grief of Lord Byron. The marriage, however, was not a happy one, the parties soon separated; and Mrs M. afterwards proposed an interview with her former lover, which, by the advice of his sister, he declined.
This abbey was founded in the year 1170, by Henry II, as a priory of Black Canons, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It continued in the family of the Byrons until the time of our poet, who sold it first to Mr Claughton for the sum of 140,000l., and on that gentleman's not being able to fulfil the agreement, and paying 20,000l. of a forfeit, it was afterwards sold to another person, and most of the money vested in trustees for the jointure of the Hon. Mrs Byron. The greater part of the edifice still remains. The present possessor, Major Wildman, is, with genuine taste, repairing this beautiful specimen of Gothic architecture. The late Lord Byron repaired a considerable part of it; but, forgetting the roof, he turned his attention to the inside, and the consequence was that, in a few years, the rain penetrating to the apartments, soon destroyed all those elegant devices which his lordship contrived. Lord Byron's own study was a neat little apartment, decorated with some good classic busts, a select collection of books, an antique cross, a sword in a gilt case, and, at the end of the room, two finely polished skulls on a pair of
From Harrow Lord Byron was removed to Trinity College, Cambridge: there, however, he did not mend his manners, nor hold the sages of antiquity in higher esteem than when under the command of his reverend tutor at Harrow. He was above studying the poets, and held the rules of the Stagyrite in as little esteem as in after life he did the invariable principles of the Rev. Mr Bowles. Reading after the fashion of the studious men of Cam was to him a bore, and he held a senior wrangler in the greatest contempt. Persons of real genius are seldom candidates for college prizes, and Byron left them to those plod-light fancy stands. In the garden, likewise, ding characters who, perhaps, deserve them, as the guerdon of the unceasing labour necessary to overcome the all but invincible dulness of their intellects. Instead of reading what tutors pleased, Byron read what pleased himself, and wrote what could not fail to displease those connected with the university. He did not admire their system of education, and they, as is the case with most scholars, could admire no other. He took to quizzing them, and, as no one likes to be laughed at, doctors frowned, fellows fumed, and Byron at the age of nineteen left college without a de
there was a great number of these skulls, taken from the burial-ground of the abbey, and piled up together; but they were afterwards recommitted to the earth. A writer, who visited it soon after Lord Byron had sold it, says: « In one corner of the servant's hall lay a stone coffin, in which were fencing-gloves and foils, and on the walls of the ample but cheerless kitchen was painted in large letters, Waste not-want not., During the minority of Lord Byron, the abbey was in the possession of Lord G-, his hounds, and divers colonies of jackdaws, swallows, and starlings. The internal traces of this Goth were swept away; but without, all appeared as rude and unreclaimed as he could have left it. With the exception of the dog's tomb, a conspicuous and elegant object, I do not recollect the slightest trace of culture or improvement. The late When Lord Byron bade adieu to the university, lord, a stern and desperate character, who is never he took up his residence at Newstead Abbey, mentioned by the neighbouring peasants without where his pursuits were principally those of a significant shake of the head, might have reamusement. Among others he was extremely fond turned and recognized every thing about him, of the water. In his aquatic exercises he had except, perhaps, an additional crop of weeds. seldom any other companion than a large New-There still slept that old pond, into which he is
Among other means which he adopted to show his contempt for academical honours, he kept a young bear in his room for some time, which he | told all his friends was in training for a fellowship!
said to have hurled his lady in one of his fits of fury, whence she was rescued by the gardener, a courageous blade, who was his lord's master, and chastised him for his barbarity. There still, at the end of the garden, in a grove of oak, two towering satyrs, he with his goat and club, and Mrs Satyr with her chubby cloven-footed brat, placed on pedestals at the intersections of the narrow and gloomy pathways, struck for a moment with their grim visages, and silent shaggy forms, the fear into your bosom which is felt by the neighbouring peasantry at th'oud laird's devils.' I have frequently asked the country people near Newstead, what sort of a man his lordship (our Lord Byron) was. The impression of his eccentric but energetic character was evident in the reply, He's the devil of a fellow for comical fancies. He flogs th'oud laird to nothing; but he's a hearty good fellow for all that.'
Walpole, who had visited Newstead, gives, in his usual bitter, sarcastic manner, the following account of it:
the place, I looked in vain for some indication of the Abbey. Nothing is seen but a thick plantation of young larch and firs, bordering the road, until you arrive at the Hut, a small publichouse by the way-side. Nearly opposite to this is a plain white gate, without lodges, opening into the park; before stands a fine, spreading oak, one of the few remaining trees of Sherwood forest, the famous haunt of Robin Hood and his associates, which once covered all this part of the county, and whose centre was about the domain of Newstead. To this oak, the only one of any size on the estate, Byron was very partial. It is pretty well known that his great-uncle (to whom he succeeded) cut down almost all the valuable timber, so that when Byron came into possession of the estate, and indeed the whole time he had it, it presented a very bare and desolate appearance. The soil is very poor, aud fit only for the growth of larch and firs; and of these upwards of 700 acres have been planted. Byron could not afford the first outlay which was necessary in order ultimately to increase its worth, « As I returned I saw Newstead and Althorp; so that, as long as he held it, the rental did not I like both. The former is the very abbey. The exceed 1,300l. a-year. From the gate to the Abgreat east window of the church remains, and bey is a mile. The carriage-road runs straight connects with the house; the hall entire, the for about 300 yards through the plantations, when refectory entire, the cloister untouched, with the it takes a sudden turn to the right; and on reancient cistern of the convent, and their arms turning to the left, a beautiful and extensive view on it: it has a private chapel quite perfect. The over the valley and distant hills is opened, with park, which is still charming, has not been so the turrets of the Abbey rising among the dark much unprofaned. The present lord has lost trees beneath. To the right of the Abbey is large sums, and paid part in old oaks, five thou-perceived a tower on a hill, in the midst of a sand pounds worth of which have been cut near grove of firs. From this part the road winds En revanche, he has built two baby gently to the left, till it reaches the Abbey, which forts, to pay his country in castles for damage is approached on the north side it lies in a valdone to the navy, and planted a handful of Scotch ley, very low, sheltered to the north and west firs, that look like plougliboys dressed in old fa- by rising ground, and to the south enjoying a mily liveries for a public day. In the hall is a fine prospect over an undulating vale. A more very good collection of pictures, all animals. The secluded spot could hardly have been chosen for refectory, now the great drawing-room, is full of the pious purposes to which it was devoted. To Byrons the vaulted roof remaining, but the win- the north and east is a garden walled in and to dows have new dresses making for them by a Ve- the west the upper lake. On the west side the netian tailor.» mansion is without any enclosure or garden-drive, and can therefore be approached by any person passing through the park. In this open space is the ancient fountain or cistern of the convent, covered with grotesque carvings, and having water still running into a basin. The old church window, which, in an architectural point of view, is most deserving of observation, is nearly entire, and adjoins the north-west corner of the Abbey.
The following detailed description of Byron's paternal abode is extracted from A Visit to Newstead Abbey, in 1828,» in the London Literary Gazette:
It was on the noon of a cold, bleak day in February, that I set out to visit the memorable Abbey of Newstead, once the property and abode of the immortal Byron. The gloomy state of the weather, and the dreary aspect of the surround-Through the iron gate which opens into the garing country, produced impressions more appropriate to the view of such a spot than the cheerful season and scenery of summer. The estate lies on the left hand side of the high north road, eight miles beyond Nottingham; but, as I approached
den under the arch, is seen the dog's tomb : it is on the north side, upon a raised ground, and surrounded by steps. The verses inscribed on one side of the pedestal are well known; but the lines preceding them are not so-they run thus: