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of talent, but there were evident symptoms of a germ of melancholy and abstraction, which, as one of his school-fellows once observed to us, threatened to « grow with his growth, and strengthen with his strength, » till it settled with age into a moroseness of temper, which says « Man delights not me, nor woman either; » unfortunately a fatal event has since served to develope that principle, which the learning, philanthropy, and good breeding of his Lordship had hitherto triumphed over.
His Lordship received the first rudiments of education at the celebrated seminary of Harrow, from whence he was subsequently removed to Cambridge, where his early turn for poetical composition, and the desire to know what the mighty dead had done in various ages and in various tongues, inspired his Lordship with a classical taste and a desire for the study of modern languages ; and though critics may not deem himn a profound, the severest will allow him to be an elegant, scholar.
At the age of twenty, his Lordship essayed his unfledged pinions in a volume of Juvenile Poems, which, without being excellent, gave an earnest of excellence, too subtile indeed to be felt or appreciated by the frigid sensorium of a northern critic, who attacked these light productions with a virulence and malignity, of which even the warmest admirers of the Edinburgh Review have been ashamed. As a criticism, it was undeserving of notice, but ac
cording to their leading principle, the Edinburgh: Reviewers merely took the work as a text on which to 'expatiate, and to serve as a medium for developing their own particular opinions ; Lord Byron found his critics travelling out of she record, to heap upon him gratuitous insults; and he replied in a satirical poem under the title of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. His adversaries had made use of the tomahawk to destroy the poet, whose counter attack displayed the keenness of the small sword, a gentlemanly weapon which the vulgar critics knew not how to wield. The wounds were mortal; the triumpbof genius over the « wordcatchers who lived on syllables » was complele ; and since that period the northern, eritics « surly and proud » have not dared' to spit their venom at our noble author.
From these proofs of his Lordship's talents, the public looked with anxious solicitude to his majority, hoping to see him a shining member of the senate. In this they were disappointed ; his Lordship showed no relish for the jarring elements of debate, where truth and patriotism are so often sacrificed to the predetermination of party; and where talent is so often prostituted merely to secure the triumph of faction. These scenes could have but little relish for the man, whose pen was guided by the inspiration of his soul. His mind was strongly marked by the sentiment of the poet whom he bas sometimes imitated and occasionally sur
passed, and who has a couplet to this purport :
My soul detests him as the gates of Hell,
Who one thing thinks, and will another tell. Consequently the house of Peers did not present any charms to his Lordship, who, soon after attaining his majority, set out on his travels. He visited Spain and Portugal; and from thence proceeded to the classic shores of Greece, where every step aweke the vivid recollections of a highly cultivated and poetic mind. In his lone musings he retraced the scenes which the Father of verse describes with a fidelity that is easily perceptible even after the lapse of ages, and the great moral and physical revolutions which Greece has undergone. His soul burned to partake in the scenes which had fired his youthful brain, and which the localities recalled at every moment.—But one part only was left him for imitation ; Museus had related in glowing strains the loves of Hero and Leander, and our poet, a modern Leander, resolved, like his prototype, to swim across the Hellespont from Abydos to Sestos, which he effected ; alas ! no Hero was there to light him to her bower ; but the imagination of the poet supplied the deficiency.
It was in Greece that his Lordship, as we understand, formed the plan of his principal poems, and where he wrote a
of that which fixed his fame as one of the first original poets of the age : after nearly three years absence, our noble Author returned to his native
land, and gave to the public Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, a romaunt. Walter Scott bad at that moment attained the supremacy of poetic talent, and the affected nursery versification of Wordsworth, with the wild pretended imitations of the ancients, by Southey, had found admirers, the one for its trite simplicity, and the other for its undoubted claim to worship, as being unlike any thing « in the heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. » The appearance of Childe Harold made Walter Scott tremble on his throne ; he saw the sceptre ready to pass from his hands into those of his noble rival; while the ephemeral brood of poetasters felt the presence of the master, and slunk into their native insignificance. For many years the versifiers, scribbling invitá Minervá, had felt the impossibility of writing any thing like a regular poem by classical rules ; many of them even were so ignorant, that they were not aware of the existence of
and the others affected to disdain what they could not reach. Lord Byron himself became slightly tinged with the infection, and he sometimes forgot his Horace, to follow those whom he was born to surpass. But, upon the whole, Childe Harold displayed such unequivocal proofs of true poetic genius and a highly cultivated mind; it so far surpassed all recent attempts of the same nature, that the literary part of the public willingly pardoned a few eccentricities, and the world in general hailed
I than any
it with a rapture which would not suffer the mutterings of criticism to be heard. Every succeeding literary effusion of his Lordship has met with increased applause.
The Giaour, the Bride of Abydos, the Corsair, Lara, Hebrew Melodies, Manfred, etc., followed Childe Harold in rapid succession, and disclosed the vast poetical powers of his Lordship. Where all is excellent, it is difficult to distinguish; each poem has its peculiar merit, but perhaps the Corsair is more thoroughly inbued with the mental character of its author
other ; none ever yet read it without feeling regret at its abrupt conclusion. Some superficial readers have expressed surprise at the success of some of his poems, because the characters are often far from amiable. Had these persons been able to descend into their own hearts, and analyse their own feelings, their wonder would have ceased. Our noble author generally draws from nature, and his descriptions touch a sympathetic cord in the human heart, which vibrates « we know not why, and care not wherefore. » Lord Byron is essentially a nalural poet, and he writes only in the moments of inspiration ; this gives him an incalculable advantage over those, whom the auri sacra fames goad on to write, no matter how, so that they can fill a volume and put a few thousands in their pockets. Lord Byron is animated by a nobler principle ; he makes a present of his works to his friends, a mode of