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which, he would, as a monitor, have been | in Portugal. I have indeed known few a traitor in the camp of discipline. The persons more alive to the charms of simIrishman's defiant question, "Have ye got ple music; and have not unfrequently a government? Then I'm agin it," illustrates Byron's attitude of ingrained contumacy against all authority. Sallies of flightiness and fits of moodiness showed, even then, such oscillations of character as mark the lack of steadying ballast; and he illustrated that maxim of his own which made his life a moral zigzag, pronouncing that
Surely they're sincerest, Who're strongly acted on by what is nearest. Thus he was like a gun on a hair-trig. ger, quick to detonate, and shooting true to its line of inclination at the moment, but without aim, and which might hit vacuity, or bring down a bird, or maim a friend.
My informant, who had further occasions of noting Byron's plunge into fame -shooting to Parnassian heights as suddenly and easily as to the bottom of his favorite pool in the Cam-laid most stress on the dangerous stimulus which it gave to this gustiness of nature. It besotted him, especially with the fumes of female adulation; and you might see a shoal of high-bred beauties for a few seasons elbowing each other at Lady Melbourne's or Lady Jersey's receptions for a place within earshot of his finely modulated tones. It seems to me that his sketch of Juan's personnel reflects a somewhat idealized self, and that, especially in the lines,
The Devil hath not, in all his quiver's choice, An arrow for the heart like a sweet voice, the poet is not unconscious of his own triumphs in that kind. The student of his poems will, I think, if he attends to the point, conclude that this fine natural organ had but little ear to guide it, and that music proper was to Byron not indeed wholly a blank, but a medium to which he was largely neutral. Moore records evenings at Mr. D. Kinnaird's in 1814, "where music followed by its accustomed sequel of supper, etc.- kept us together usually till rather a late hour. Besides," he says, "those songs of mine which he has himself somewhere recorded as his favorites, there was also one to a Portuguese air... which seemed especially to please him; the national character of the music, and the recurrence of the words 'Sunny Mountains,' bringing back freshly to his memory the impressions of all he had seen
• Don Juan, xv. st. 12 foll. ; see also 82-4.
seen tears in his eyes while listening to the Irish melodies." Thus Moore piles up facts which go to disprove his theory. For is it not plain that the words, reminiscences, and sentiments were what drew the tears of Byron, and that the music was at best but a secondary vehicle? Thus, "I loathe an opera more than Dennis did,"* is probably a genuine confession; and indeed at an opera in Venice to which Byron took Moore, the former's share in the evening's amusement lay, so far as recorded, in scraps of gossip about celebrities or notorieties, alike before and behind the curtain, retailed apparently while the music was proceeding. Medora's guitar and Lady Adeline's harp are of course mere stage-properties. On the contrary, in his vein of quizzical humor, nothing comes more readily to hand for a butt or foil of his satire than music, musicians, singers, and critics of the art. Thus, Orpheus, we know from Ovid and Lemprière, Led all wild beasts but women by the ear,t and all will remember the count in "Beppo." There is a passage which looks like an exception in the Hebrew Melody beginning, "The harp the monarch-minstrel swept;" but on examination it turns out to be a mere expansion, with poetic license, of a passage in Burnet's "History of Music." How different this from the melodious sensitiveness of his crony and fellow-minstrel Moore! In short, into the spells of solemn pathos which the genius of Byron casts upon us music hardly enters. The greatest master of emotional poetry for three centuries, he but slenderly recognizes this most copious and natural of all the stimulants of emotion. The extent to which this negative characteristic has been skipped by his biographers and critics has led me thus far to diverge upon the subject from the theme to which I return.
In illustration of the persistency with which Byron was dogged by female devotees and dosed with feminine flattery, my friend recounted how two fair pilgrims found their way once to Newstead in his absence. With that intrepid curiosity which ladies evince on such adventures of interest, and with that love of relic-hunting which seems the proper pendant to such
Hints from Horace.
See the passage quoted in the notes to Murray's fullest edition.
curiosity, they examined his personal quarters, handled his boxing-gloves and foils, but found nothing which they could with decency appropriate, until a rough-coated dog, a successor to the buried and lamented " Boatswain," entered the room. The dog could tell no tales; the servant, duly bribed, might be relied on to tell none. So in despair of a token from the poet's own at that time luxuriant curls, they took a vicarious sample from the animal; and, submitting him to the shears, bore away each her trophy, remarking that "Byron may have patted his favorite on the very spot, you know, where those hairs grew." Possibly the servant blabbed, later and long after, of this canine "Rape of the Lock." More probably the ladies - just as there are sorrows too great for utterance found their triumph too great for silence, and boasted of their spoil to admiring friends.
Of the enormous mischief done to Byron's character by this sickly sentimental atmosphere of adulation my friend entertained a profound impression, and was disposed to ascribe more lasting ill-effects to it, through that feminine element in Byron's own character which led his friend Lord Broughton to extenuate his vagaries as those of "a favorite and sometimes froward sister." Byron's conduct to a woman seemed governed (excepting always his own sister) with some degree of reverence for principle.
And the same cause, female adulation, which would have unsteadied most men at his age, and for the greater part of his career unhinged the moral balance, provoked still further the wild caprices of his nature, as though to show his votaries that their idol could match them at their wildest flight. Flashes as from a female soul, brilliant, excitable, and impetuous, form for page after page of his letters and diaristic fragments, the staple of his self-delineation.
You might find in them all the traits of a coquette; sometimes pert, vain, touchy, and flippant, sometimes defiant, irascible, and vindictive. There lie on the surface these distinctly feminine attributes, as in his talk there lurked all the apparatus of luring smiles and ensnaring tones, the plausible innuendo, the dexterous équi voque, the audacious topsy-turveying of morality, the saucy snap-shot taken at another's folly, in order to escape, as it were, from his own in the smoke. And while parading his volatility, he united it to a masculine intensity and a virile hardihood of self-will, which makes him seem the
hermaphrodite of genius. Like most women, it was more easy for him to be generous than just. Truth would be distorted or inverted to bolster up some view snatched up from the inconstancy of the moment; and facts be forgotten or discolored as pique or passion swayed. Moore, who keeps all the brightest hues of the biographer's palette for him, declares that he never could keep a secret, and that none who valued confidential dealing would ever place one in his keeping. His very courage seems at least as much feminine as masculine, was reinforced or paralyzed by nervous excitement, and would "come and go" like a lady's complexion. In short, the "treble-clef" contains the dominant note of his character, although with a swelling undertone of bass. My friend's opinion might have condensed itself in two quotations, varium et mutabile semper, and capricieuse comme une jolie femme. Byron had indeed caught this from his mother, as naturally as most daughters might. She was, it seems, shallow and gusty, while he rolls "a bay of breakers;" and to him might have been used by a friend Brutus's apology to Cassius:
When you are over hasty with your Brutus, He'll think your mother chides, and leave you
Probably no man has ever suffered more from unhappy domestic antecedents. The son of a mother with whom he shared a temperament which made them mutually insupportable to each other, the son of a father whose early death was the best boon he could have conferred on his infant heir, Byron had no kin on either side to fill the void which nature abhors, and which an especially emotional nature like his craves to have filled. While from earlier ancestry a tangle of embarrassment was demised to him, and his noble guardian showed him the cold shoulder of distasteful superciliousness, he had "a heart which, though faulty, was feeling," and sensitively susceptible of all the mischief which this array of mischances could produce. With manifold charms of person, voice, and manner, and with features which flashed a mobile mirror of emotion and intellect, he was dashed and marred by one malformation, which, while it mortified vanity, undermined physical health. Too conscious of his besetting corpulent tendencies these again being due to a maternal source. - he would persecute his constitution, and exacerbate the pungency of his caprices, by extreme
dietary treatment, by fits of self-starvation | leaf seemed turning which promised to and unwholesome counter-agents to the efface the older pages. Therefore to do dreaded obesity. By means of tobacco him justice is most difficult. If his illchewing, green-tea drinking, breaking a deserts were great, his final promise was long fast on biscuits and soda-water, by greater. Contemporary censure, the full an outbreak on potatoes, fish-stale fish, severity of which he had certainly proone biographer states-and vinegar, he voked, became suddenly the verdict of carried on an unnatural self-coercion, a posterity. That verdict somewhat reflects struggle between vanity and avoirdupois. the bias of his own nature - is generous The loss of a stone of flesh-weight glad- rather than just; or rather, perhaps, gendened him more than all the sold copies erosity is justice towards such a brief, of the "Corsair." It was Adonis-but erratic, and brilliant paradox of life. CritAdonis boiteux-pitted against Sir John icism turns to sympathy, and those who Falstaff, in the same capricious personal- thought harshly become those who feel ity; and even if he for a while conquered tenderly. The world which had for some the "flesh" he retained the "frailties." years regarded him as a scamp shaken off, The consequences were stomach in rebel- felt suddenly the pang of bereavement for lion, liver stagnating, and temper ever at a lost genius. It reviled an egotist, it full-cock of rebellious versatility, while mourned a hero. his minor habits were to the last degree vagrant and non-domestic. What a subject for matrimony-this risky mass of conflicting eccentricities!
But is there no "fly in the ointment" of heroism at this last departure of Childe Harold upon Hellenic pilgrimage? Yes, there was another side to it, or something else inside. If he warmly embraced a cause, he coldly deserted a woman, who for his sake had eaten the bitter bread of domestic dishonor. Was he stirred by compunction for the outrage and the shame? or was he merely throwing away this latest feminine toy as he had thrown away so many before? It seems impossible now to pronounce. There are, as we shall further see, glimpses of a changed and bettered mind in his last year. Drawn
I have said you might compile a coquette complete from those curly shavings which his character throws off in letters and diary. But there was, after all, something solid and noble below. He died at six and-thirty, just as he seemed to have shed off the shavings, and to be showing a firmer plank and closer grain of character, something better than a great genius spoilt. And indeed it is equally possible to compile an opposite portrait out of his literary remains; one exhibiting depth of affection, to a large enterprise of unselfishness, he romantic sympathy with all that is grandest may have reflected: "To prosecute it, in nature, generosity in aiding the weak continuing this tie, degrading in itself, is and distressed, a profound and melancholy impossible." But it had the evil air of sense of the vanity of human life, together forsaking one who had staked her all and with spasmodic flashes of a deep religious lost her best on him and for him. Such sentiment. But apart from the interest is the Nemesis of lawless passion. Peniof these two opposite sides of the human medal there came the romantic shock which arrested public judgment upon his character, by early death in an unselfish cause. Just as he seemed to have at last cast anchor in a motive which might concentrate energy, subdue emotion to effort, the imaginative to the practical, and correct eccentricity by self-devotion, the cable snapped and he drifted away into the dark. Somewhat like a knight-errant, with foot in stirrup and hand on lance, whom the trumpet-call has roused from dalliance and illicit orgies at last; on the very eve of an enterprise, the heroism of which might have redeemed the egotism of a life misspent, Lord Byron passed away. Awhile the idol, and anon the outcast, of the highest social circle in England, he closed the blotted record of what was hardly more than youth, at the moment when a
tence, even if sincere, can scarce ever seem disinterested. The impression left on competent witnesses was that he wearied of La Guiccioli and deserted her. She was not likely to submit without remonstrance, and he replied by putting the Ionian Sea between them. Thus our knight-errant, with whatever genuine zeal against giant and dragon, rides with a bend sinister on his shield and makes a convenience of his own enthusiasm. No doubt he longs to set Hellas free, but he longs equally to be free himself, and so, in the words of an old song, "he loves and he rides away."
That there was some marked change in the attitude of Byron's mind on moral and religious subjects in the last few months of his life, rests primarily on the evidence of his servant Fletcher, who is not rated highly in point of intelligence. But the
fact, if fact it were, would not need a high | testable.
You see, dear Mr. H., that Mr. Hobhouse and a certain set imagine that it might be said by his enemies, and those who have no religion at all, that he [Byron] had turned Methodist, if it was said that he paid latterly more attention to his religious duties than formerly. But let them say what they will, it must be the first of consolations to us that he did so. I am convinced of it from Fletcher's assertions, and a letter from a Dr. Kennedy in Cephalonia to Fletcher since the death. I shall ever bless that man for his endeavors to work upon his mind.†
It thus appears that Mrs. Leigh had seen a letter of "a Dr. Kennedy" to Fletcher which gave her confirmatory evidence of the fact on which she dwells. It is thus no mere surmise snatched from below stairs to comfort bereavement above. This Dr. Kennedy is a well-known person, and occurs in "Moore's Life" (vi., pp. 86, foll.) as holding with Byron at Cephalonia, within the last six months of the latter's earthly career, some "curious conversations, now published." They confirm the view that the religious framework of Byron's mind, long a thing of broken outlines and shifting shadows, was now shaping itself with something like definiteness, that faith was feeling for the helm of conscience. Moore represents Dr. Kennedy as an earnest believer, who sought to establish others in the great charter of faith and love, by which, although perhaps narrowly interpreting some of its clauses, he had himself been enfranchised. That
Byron and he held high converse on much that lies in the Bible between God and man, not once but often, and not through the change-loving caprice of a satiated sceptic, but of set purpose, seems incon
See an essay on the "Byron Ladies" by the pres ent writer, republished lately from the National Review in "Why we Suffer' and Other Essays." London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1889.
†The passage is from the last of a series of letters, or extracts, twenty-four in number, published by Mr. J. C. Jeaffreson in the Athenæum of September 19, 1885. It is dated July 29, 1824, and had previously appeared in the "Memoir of the Rev. F. Hodgson," vol. ii., p. 149.
That Byron expressly disclaimed infidel tenets and denial of the Scriptures or deliberate maintenance of a disbelieving attitude, is expressly affirmed by Dr. Kennedy. On Byron's side a remarkable practical confirmation is to be gathered from a letter of his to the doctor within a few weeks of his death, where he says: "Besides the tracts, etc., which you have sent for distribution, one of the English artificers (hight Brownbill, a tinman) left to my charge a number of Greek Testaments, which I will endeavor to distribute properly. . . . I am trying to reconcile the clergy to their distribution." Here we have the reputed infidel and undoubted whilom libertine engaged, on his own showing, in work resembling that of the S. P. C. K., or the Bible Society; and that not only for Dr. Kennedy, whom he had reasons to respect, but for Brownbill," artificer" and "tinman," of whom in the same letter he goes on to speak in somewhat disparaging terms, and mildly quizzes for running away from an unreal danger.* It could then have been on no to do startling things, that he accepted this personal grounds, such as often led Byron mission-work, as we should now call it, from the tinman. And the only alternative is that it must have sprung from respect for the work itself. He was further, we may infer, even risking some offence for the sake of it, to the national clergy, whom, circumstanced as he then was, it was his obvious policy to conciliate. We realize in this fact his own saying, " Truth is stranger than fiction," and the proverb its author. It seems to confirm some comes to us stamped with the example of process, however imperfect as yet, of an inward change. Dr. Kennedy was probably the first layman he had met whose earnest life expressed the truth within him. That expression had its natural effect, and the blasé poet-rake, who would have been sparing of any professions for fear of having them contrasted with his life, takes yet to action, and distributes not only dollars and cartridges, the sinews of war and the munitions thereof, but tracts and Greek Testaments. How easy it would have been for him to plead his position and responsibilities, and his necessity of that most potent of national elements, the keeping the entente cordiale intact with Greek clergy, and to have pitched the tracts, etc., into the Suliotes' camp-fire! Kennedy had appealed to the nobler self within him-author as he was of "Cain,"
• Vol. vi., p. 172-3.
"The Vision of Judgment" and "Don the following touching anecdote to Mr. Juan " and the inference suggested E. D. Barff, son of the senior partner in surely is that it was not irresponsive, and the firm of Messrs. Barff and Hancock, that "Augusta " was entitled to her crumb bankers, of Zante, well known from the of comfort. I think that due weight has many letters of Byron to him in the last not been given to these facts by biog- volume of Moore's life. Mr. Barff, junior, raphers, and that an immortal memory has also enabled me now to publish the claims to have them placed without exag- probably actual last letter, undoubtedly geration in the scale. the latest extant, of the poet, his father's sometime client.
One cannot help some touch of amused indignation at the qualms of "Mr. Hobhouse and a certain set," which somewhat suggest the sympathies of the mob at the gallows for the malefactor who "dies game," that is, brazens out impenitent infamy with hardihood to the last. It is, however, chiefly worth noting that Mr. Hobhouse is not cited as doubting the fact, only as wishing the mention of it suppressed in the interest, as he conceived, of his late friend's character- -a wish and a view which pertinently illustrate the moral standards of good society in 1824.
Among some Turkish prisoners whom the Greeks, unable to deny Lord Byron anything, had placed at his disposal, was a Turkish maiden of thirteen or thereabouts. She was the daughter of a pasha, or some Turk of rank and influence, and had been placed by Byron in the family of Mr. Barff, in Zante, and under his protection. The Turks discovered her retreat, and sent a frigate shortly after Byron's death, to request her friendly surrender. Mr. Barff was sorely puzzled how to act; regarding Byron's request as a trust imposed upon him, and knowing that the latter's wish had been to provide for her in England through his sister's care. He at last referred the matter to the girl's own decision, who evinced the greatest distress at the news of her benefactor's death, and said, bursting into tears, "If he had been alive, I would have gone with him and his anywhere. But he is dead, and his friends know nothing of me. I will go back to my father;" and returned accordingly. The winning confidence with which Byron at this period inspired all who approached him cannot be more effectively illustrated than by this willingness of the Turkish girl to become in effect Ba-lute trust in his sincerity-a step so rean orphan and an exile through her absovolting to all the traditional prejudices, especially in 1824, of the Moslem against the "Giaour."
And after all, there seems no antecedent
Persecuted sages teach the schools
Great Socrates? and thou, diviner still,
Where at the words "Diviner still," the poet adds a note: "As it is necessary in these times to avoid ambiguity, I say that I mean by Diviner still,' CHRIST. If ever God was man, or man God, he was both." A man who can thus feel and admire even by fits and snatches, a great ideal, has not lost the susceptibility of faith, however widely his life may have recoiled from the practice of its principles.
In the last chapter of his career no woman appears in contact with him, save the mere girl protégées, of whom anon. His is the part of Achilles with that of Briseis omitted. I am indebted here for
Another somewhat similar case, for, on comparing the notices it seems impossible to be the same, is mentioned by Byron in his February letters to Mr. Mayer and Mr. Murray, and in that of March 4th to Dr. Kennedy (pp. 162, 168, 173), but not in any to Mr. Barff. The Turkish girl, therein named "Hatô or Hatagée," is a child of nine years, who has a mother, then a refugee with Mr. Millingen (a name which occurs often in the record of Byron's last days); but this girl is herself, at the time, under the care of Dr. Kennedy and his wife. Mother and child are the last remnants of a family ruined in the revolutionary war, and without natural protectors; for Byron expressly says all the child's brothers had been killed.