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FROM 'THE MONKS AND THE GIANTS.'
And certainly they say, for fine behaving
They looked a manly, generous generation;
Beards, shoulders, eyebrows, broad, and square, and thick,
The ladies looked of an heroic race
At first a general likeness struck your eye,
Large eyes, with ample eyebrows arched and high;
Sir Gawain may be painted in a word-
His courteous manners stand upon record,
On every point, in earnest or in jest,
His memory was the magazine and hoard,
He served his friend, but watched his opportunity.
Meanwhile the solemn mountains that surrounded
When the first peal burst forth at break of day:
Yet) Cader-Gibbrish from his cloudy throne
Those giant-mountains inwardly were moved,
Hearing a clatter which they disapproved,
They ran straight forward to besiege the place
Like house-dogs howling at a dinner-bell.
As Bees, that when the skies are calm and fair,
Launch forth colonial settlers in the air,
Round, round, and round about, they whiz, they fly, With eager worry whirling here and there,
They know not whence, nor whither, where, nor why, In utter hurry-scurry, going, coming,
Maddening the summer air with ceaseless humming;
Till the strong Frying-pan's energic jangle
E'en so the Monks, as wild as sparks of fire,
[BORN Jan. 22, 1788. Educated at Harrow, and Trinity College, Cambridge. Published Hours of Idleness in 1807. A review of this book in the Edinburgh provoked the Satire English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, which was published in March 1809. After this date Byron travelled in Spain, Greece and Turkey for two years. On his return he published the two first Cantos of Childe Harold in 1812. During the years 1813-1815 he wrote The Giaour, Bride of Abydos, Corsair, Lara, Hebrew Melodies, Siege of Corinth, Parisina. The two last were published in the spring of 1816 shortly after Byron's separation from the wife whom he had married on Jan. 2, 1815. This year, 1816, was the most important epoch in his life. He left England never to return; settled first at Geneva, where he made the acquaintance of Shelley, composed the Third Canto of Childe Harold, Prisoner of Chillon, and Prometheus, and began Manfred. In 1817 he removed to Venice, finished Manfred, wrote the Lament of Tasso, the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, and Beppo. In the years 1818 and 1819, still residing at Venice, he produced the Ode on Venice, Mazeppa, and the first four Cantos of Don Juan. In 1820 and 1821, while living at Ravenna, he wrote the Prophecy of Dante, Marino Faliero, Sardanapalus, The Two Foscari, Cain, Heaven and Earth, and A Vision of Judg ment. Part of the two next years was spent at Pisa in close intimacy with Shelley. Werner, The Deformed Transformed, The Island, and the remaining Cantos of Don Juan, on which Byron had been from time to time at work during his Ravenna residence, were completed. On July 13, 1823, Byron sailed from Genoa for Greece, in order to take active part in the liberation of that country from Turkish rule. He died of fever at Missolonghi on the 19th of April, 1824, at the age of thirty-six years and three months.]
The first thing that strikes a student of Byron's collected works is the quantity of poetry produced by him in a short lifetime. The second is the variety of forms attempted—the scope and range of intellectual power displayed. The third is the inequality of the
performance, due apparently in certain cases to haste of composition, in others to imperfect sympathy with the subjects treated, or again to some contemptuous compliance with a fashion which the author only tolerated.
Byron's character is stamped upon his work in a remarkable degree; and his character was powerfully biassed by external circumstance. The critic cannot therefore neglect his biography. In early childhood he was left to the sole care of a violent and injudicious mother. Impressed with the importance of the title to which he succeeded at the age of ten, he yet had neither friends nor connections of his own rank, and but slender means for sustaining its dignity. Handsome, active, and ambitious, he was debarred from engaging in field-sports by the malformation of his ankle. Thus, from the first, he lived under conditions eminently unfavourable for the growth of an equable temperament or for the acquisition of just views about society. His mental powers were acute and vigorous; his emotions sincere and direct; the impressions made upon his sensitive nature by the persons with whom he came in contact were vivid and indelible. Yet his judgment of the world was prematurely warped, while his naturally earnest feelings were overlaid with affectations and prejudices which he never succeeded in shaking off. He was constitutionally shy, uncertain in society, preferring the solitude of hills and woods and water, to the men and women whom he learned to misconceive and misinterpret. Though he strove to conceal this shyness beneath an assumption of off-handed ease, his manners to the last were awkward. It was his misfortune to be well-born but ill-bred, combining the pride of a peer with the self-consciousness of a parvenu. He rarely suffered his true opinions and emotions to be visible. What he proffered his acquaintance in their stead was stamped with artificiality. Trelawny thought that Byron was what London in the days of the Prince Regent made him. But we must go further back, and recognise that from his boyhood he began to construct and wear a masquerade costume that could not be abandoned. When Shelley discerned the 'canker of aristocracy' and 'perverse ideas' in one whom he admired but never made his friend; when Goethe complained of his 'Empeiria' or taint of worldliness, they laid their fingers on this radical blot. The ostentation which repels us in Byron's correspondence and in the records left of him by his associates, the swaggering tone that spoils so much of his best work and makes it impossible to love