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being, the mysteries of the framing of man. They have gone down into those depths which every man may sound for himself, though not for another; and they have made disclosures to the world of what they beheld and knew there-disclosures that have commanded and forced a profound and universal sympathy, by proving that all mankind, the troubled and the untroubled, the lofty and the low, the strongest and the frailest, are linked together by the bonds of a common but inscrutable nature.
Thus, each of these wayward and richly-gifted | spirits has made himself the object of profound interest to the world, and that too during periods of society when ample food was every where spread abroad for the meditations and passions of
with rapturous admiration, sometimes with re-
It might, at first, seem that his undisguised 4
Although of widely dissimilar fortunes and birth, a close resemblance in their passions and their genius may be traced too between Byron and Robert Burns. Their careers were short and glorious, and they both perished in the « rich summer of their life and song, and in all the splendour of a reputation more likely to increase than diminish. One was a peasant, and the other was a peer; but nature is a great leveller, and makes amends for the injuries of fortune by the richness of her benefactions: the genius of Burns raised him to a level with the nobles of the land; by nature, if not by birth, he was the peer of Byron. They both rose by the force of their genius, and both fell by the strength of their pas-hearing of the uninitiated, because it is not unsions; one wrote from a love, and the other from a scorn of mankind; and they both sung of the emotions of their own hearts with a vehemence and an originality which few have equalled, and none surely have surpassed.
The versatility of authors who have been able to draw and support characters as different from each other as from their own, has given to their productions the inexpressible charm of variety, and has often secured them from that neglect which in general attends what is technically called mannerism. But it was reserved for Lord Byron (previous to his Don Juan) to present the same character on the public stage again and again, varied only by the exertious of that powerful genius, which, searching the springs of passion and of feeling in their innermost recesses, knew how to combine their operations, so that the interest was eternally varying, and never abated, although the most important person of the drama retained the same lincaments.
« But that noble tree will never more bear fruit or blossom! It has been cut down in its strength, and the past is all that remains to us of Byron. That voice is silent for ever, which, bursting so often on our ear, was often heard
derstood. A great poet may address the whole world in the language of intensest passion, concerning objects of which rather than speak face to face with any one human being on earth, he would perish in his misery. For it is in solitude that he utters what is to be wafted by all the winds of heaven: there are, during his inspiration, present with him only the shadows of men. He is not daunted, or perplexed, or disturbed, or repelled by real living breathing features. He can updraw just as much of the curtain as he chouses that hangs between his own solitude and the world of life. He there pours his soul out partly to himself alone; partly to the ideal abstractions and impersonated images that float around him at his own conjuration; and partly to human beings like himself, moving in the dark distance of the every-day world. He confesses himself, not before men, but before the spirit of humanity; and he thus fearlessly lays open his heart, assured that nature never prompted unto genius that which will not triumphantly force its wide way into the human heart.
We have admitted that Byron has depicted much of himself in all his heroes; but when we seem to see the poet shadowed out in all those states
it did not diminish their friendship, but, on the contrary, put it to a severe test. Previous to the battle, the prize of which was a kingdom, they had mutually promised that whichever of them was vanquished, the other should endeavour to prevent the forfeiture of his friend's estate. While Clifton was bravely fighting at the head of his troop, he was struck off his horse, which Byron perceiving, he quitted the ranks and ran to the
rdered being which his Childe Harolds, for their extensive manors in Lancashire aud , Conrads, Laras, and Alps, exhibit, we other parts of the kingdom, but for their prowess trom believing that his own mind has in arms. John de Byron attended Edward the rough those states of disorder, in its own ex- first in several warlike expeditions. Two of the - of life. We merely conceive of it as Byrous fell at the battle of Cressy. Another (felt within itself the capacity of such member of the family, Sir John de Byron, reners, and therefore exhibiting itself before dered good service in Bosworth field, to the Earl jessibility. This is not general,—it is rare of Richmond; and contributed, by his valour, reat poets. Neither Homer, nor Shak- to transfer the crown from the head of Richard sor Milton, ever so show themselves in the third to that of Henry the seventh. This aracters which they portray. Their poeti-Sir John was a man of honour, as well as a brave ersonages have no references to themselves; warrior. He was very intimate with his neighvre distinct, independent creatures of their bour Sir Gervase Clifton; and, although Byron -produced in the full freedom of intellec-fought under Henry, and Clifton under Ricliard, *wer. In Byron there does not seem this en of power:—there is little appropriation aracter to events. Character is first, and all. It is dictated, compelled by some force is own mind necessitating him,—and the is obey. His poems, therefore, excepting Juan, are not full and complete naras of some one definite story, containing a itself a picture of human life. They are viy bold, confused, and turbulent exemplifi-relief of his friend, whom he shielded, but who s of certain sweeping energies and irrepassions. They are fragments of a poet's A dream of life. The very personages, viyas they are pictured, are yet felt to be s, and derive their chief power over us their supposed mysterious connexion with poet himself, and, it may be added, with other. The law of his mind was to emdy as peculiar feelings in the forms of other In all his heroes we accordingly recognise, agh with infinite modifications, the same great aracteristics: a high and audacious conception the power of the mind,-an intense sensibiof passion,--an almost boundless capacity of Baltuous emotion,-a boasting admiration of grandeur of disordered power, and, above all, al-felt, blood-felt delight in beauty;-a beau*, ich, in his wild creation, is often scared * from the agitated surface of life by stormpassions, but which, like a bird of calm, is et returning, on its soft, silvery wings, ere Black swell has finally subsided into sunshine
died in his arms. Sir John de Byron kept his word; he interceded with the king: the estate was preserved to the Clifton family, and is now in the possession of a descendant of the gallant Sir Gervase.
In the wars between Charles the first and the parliament, the Byrons adhered to the royal cause. Sir Nicholas Byron, the eldest brother and représentative of the family, was an eminent loyalist, who, having distinguished himself in the wars of the Low Countries, was appointed governor of Chelsea in 1642. He had two sons, who both died without issue; and his younger brother, Sir John, became their heir. This person was made a knight of the Bath at the coronation of James the first. He had eleven sons, most of whom distinguished themselves for their loyalty and gallantry on the side of Charles the first. Seven of these brothers were engaged at the battle of Marston-moor, of whom four fell in defence of the royal cause. Sir John Byron, one of the survivors, was appointed to many important commands, and on the 26th of October, 1643, was created These reflexions naturally precede the sketch Lord Byron, with a collateral remainder to his te are about to attempt of Lord Byron's lite-brothers. On the decline of the king's affairs, rary and private life: indeed they are in a man- he was appointed governor to the Duke of York, at forced upon us by his poetry, by the senti- and, in this office, died without issue, in France, bents of weariness of existence and enmity with in 1652;-upon which his brother Richard, a de world which it so frequently expresses, and celebrated cavalier, became the second Lord singular analogy which such sentiments Byron. He was governor of Appleby Castle, and ld with the real incidents of his life. distinguished himself at Newark. He died in Lord Byron was descended from an illustrious 1697, aged seventy-four, and was succeeded by e of ancestry. From the period of the con-his eldest son William, who married Elizabeth, were distinguished, not merely the daughter of John Viscount Chaworth, of
past his family
the kingdom of Ireland, by whom he had five sons, all of whom died young except William; whose eldest son, William, was born in 1722, and came to the title in 1736.
own rank, his unhappy temper found abundant exercise in continual war with his neighbours and tenants, and sufficient punishment in their hatred. One of his amusements was feeding William, Lord Byron, passed the early part of crickets, which were his only companions. He his life in the navy. In 1763 he was made mas- had made them so tame as to crawl over him; ter of the stag hounds; and in 1765 was sent to and used to whip them with a wisp of straw, if the Tower, and tried before the House of Peers too familiar. In this forlorn condition he linfor killing his relation and neighbour, Mr Cha-gered out a long life, doing all in his power to worth, in a duel.--The following details of this ruin the paternal mansion for that other branch fatal event are peculiarly interesting from subse- of the family to which he was aware it must pass sequent circumstances connected with the sub-at his death, all his own children having descended ject of our sketch. 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, although his career in life was almost an unbroken scene of misfortunes. The hardships he endured while accompanying Commodore Anson in his expedition to the South Seas are well known, from his own highly popu
The old Lord Byron belonged to a club of which Mr Chaworth was also a member. It met at the Star and Garter tavern, Pall Mall, once a month, and was called the Nottinghamshire Club. On the 29th January, 1765, they met at four o'clock to dinner as usual, and every thing went agreeably on, until about seven o'clock, when a dispute arose betwixt Lord Byron and Mr Cha-lar and affecting narrative. His only son, born worth concerning the quantity of game on their estates. The dispute rose to a high pitch, and Mr Chaworth, having paid his share of the bill, retired. Lord Byron followed him out of the room in which they had dined, and, stopping him on the landing of the stairs, called to the waiter to show them into an empty room. They were shown into one, and a single candle being placed on the table, in a few minutes the bell was rung, and Mr Chaworth found mortally wounded. He said that Lord Byron and he entered the room together, Lord Byron leading the way; that his lordship, in walking forward, said something relative to the former dispute, on which he proposed fastening the door; that on 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 lordship, and expressed a 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, though he lived in a state of perfect exile from persons of his
in 1751, who received an excellent education,
In Captain Medwin's « Conversations of Lord Byron,» the following expressions are said to have fallen from his lordship on the subject of his unworthy father:
I lost my father when I was only six years of age. My mother, when she was in a rage
deur of nature around him; the feeling that he was upon hills where
<< Foreign tyrant never trod, But Freedom, with her falchion bright, Swept the stranger from her sight;>> his intercourse with a people whose chief amusements consisted in the recital of heroic tales of other times, feats of strength, and a display of independence, blended with the wild superna
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 Cælebs 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 gui-tural stories peculiar to remote and thinly-peonea, that he wrote for: 1 have the note. He 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 asear; and, not content with one adventure of this Lind, afterwards eloped with Miss Gordon. This marriage was not destined to be a very fortunate une either, and I don't wonder at her differing from Sheridan's widow in the play; they cerLauly could not have claimed the flitch.'»
pled districts;-all these were calculated to foster that poetical feeling innate in his character.
When George was seven years of age, his mother sent him to the grammar-school at Aberdeen, where he remained till his removal to Harrow, with the exception of some intervals of absence, which were deemed requisite for the establishment of his health. His progress beyond that of the general run of his class-fellows was never so remarkable as after those occasional intervals, when, in a few days, he would master exercises which, in the school routine, it had required weeks to accomplish. But when he had overtaken the rest of the class he always relaxed his exertions, and, contenting himself with
any extraordinary effort to place himself at the head of the highest form. It was out of school that he aspired to be the leader of every thing; in all boyish games and amusements he would be first if possible. For this he was eminently calculated; quick, enterprising, and daring, the energy of his mind enabled him to overcome the impediments 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, and managing a horse, or steering and trimming the sails of a boat, constituted his chief delights, and, to the superficial observer, seemed his sole occupations.
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 unnatural desertion of us father, the entire care of his infant years devolved upon his mother, who retired to Aber-being considered a tolerable scholar, never made deen, where she lived in almost perfect seclusion, on the rains of her fortune. Her undivided affection was naturally concentred in her son, who was her darling; and when he only went out for an ordinary walk, she would entreat him, with the tear glistening in her eye, to take care of himself, as she had nothing on earth but Eu to live for; a conduct not at all pleasing to his adventurous spirit; the more especially, as some of his companions, who witnessed the affectionate scene, would laugh and ridicule him about at This excessive maternal indulgence, and the alasence of that salutary discipline and control, so necessary to childhood, doubtless contributed to the formation of the less pleasing features of Lord Byron's character. It must, however, be He was exceedingly brave, and in the juvenile remembered, in Mrs Byron's extenuation, not wars of the school, he generally gained the viconly that the circumstances in which she had tory; upon one occasion a boy pursued by anbeen left with her son were of a very peculiar other took refuge in Mrs Byron's house: the nature, but also that a slight malformation of latter, who had been much abused by the fore of his feet, and great weakness of consti- mer, proceeded to take vengeance on him even on tation, naturally solicited for him in the heart the landing-place of the drawing-room stairs, of a mother a more than ordinary portion of when George interposed in his defence, declaring tenderness. For these latter reasons he was not that nobody should be ill-used while under his set very early to school, but was allowed to ex- roof and protection. Upon this the aggressor pand his lungs, and brace his limbs, upon the dared him to fight, and, although the former mountains of the neighbourhood. This was evi- was by much the stronger of the two, the spirit dently the most judicious method for imparting of young Byron was so determined, that after strength to his bodily frame; and the sequel show- the combat had lasted for nearly two hours, it ed that it was far from the worst for giving was suspended because both the boys were entone and vigour to his mind. The savage gran- tirely exhausted.
A school-fellow of Byron's had a very small Shetland pony which his father had bought him, and one day they went to the banks of the Don to bathe, but having only one 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';
He immediately stopped his companion, who was then riding, and asked him if he remembered the prophecy, saying, that as they were both only sons, and as the pony might be « a mare's ae foal, he would rather ride over first; because he had only a mother to lament him, should the prophecy be fulfilled by the falling of the bridge, whereas the other had both a father and a mother to grieve for him.
It is the custom of the grammar-school at Aberdeen, that the boys of all the five classes of which it is composed should be assembled for prayers in the public school at eight o'clock in the morning; after prayers a censor calls over the names of all, and those who are absent are punished. The first time that Lord Byron had come to school after his accession to his title, the rector had caused his name to be inserted in the censor's book, Georgius Dominus de Byron, instead of Georgius Byron Gordon as formerly. The boys, unaccustomed to this aristocratic sound, set up a loud and involuntary shout, which had such an effect on his sensitive mind that he burst into tears, and would have fled from the school had he not been restrained by the master.
An 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 only ten years of age, to point out that he would be a man who would think, speak, and act for himself; who, whatever might be his sayings or his doings, his vices or his virtues, would not condescend to take them at second hand. This happened on the very day after he had been menaced with being flogged round the school for a fault which he had not committed; and when the question was put to him he replied, it is not my doing; Fortune was to whip me yesterday for what another did, and she has this day made me a lord for what another has ceased to do. I need not thank her in either case, for I have asked nothing at her hands.
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 adorning 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 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 of circumstances so unforeseen and so rapid, would have been hazardous to any boy, but it was doubly so to one of Byron's ardent mind and previous habits. Taken at once from the society of boys in humble life, and placed among youths of his own newly-acquired rank, with means of gratification, which to him must 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 nature.
Though he was lame, says one of his schoolfellows, 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 cricket on the common. He was not remarkable (nor was he ever) for his learning, but he was always a clever, plain-spoken, and undaunted boy. I have seen him fight by the hour like a Trojan, and stand up against the disadvantage of his lameness with all the spirit of an ancient combatant. Don't you remember your battle with Pitt?' (a brewer's son) said I to him in a letter (for I had witnessed it), but it seems that he had forgotten it. You are mistaken, I think,' said he in reply; it must have been with Rice-Pudding Morgan, or Lord Jocelyn, or one of the Douglases, or George Raynsford, or Pryce (with whom I had two conflicts), or with
On the 17th of May, 1798, William, the fifth | Moses Moore (the clod), or with somebody else, Lord Byron, departed this life at Newstead. As the son of this eccentric nobleman had died when
and not with Pitt; for with all the abovenamed and other worthies of the fist had I an