Imágenes de página

and the support of nobles, merchants, and ecclesiastics, elicited a blaze which was indeed of unparalleled splendour for a moment, and declined under a succeeding tyranny and barbarism, fatal to a continuation of the race of great artists antecedently produced—I refer, as before, to Italy between 1452 and 1530.

With these plain facts before us, it is surprising that any should be found who censure the conduct of Government, in purchasing Mr. Angerstein's collection; it is rather censurable for not having made similar purchases before. Many cannot see how high art will benefit a community, who can expend thousands in the most groveling objects. Where understanding is not given by nature, it is useless to endeavour to produce an impression by argument. Such, it is to be hoped, are but few, obscure in society, shallow in intellect, gross in feeling, and narrow in influence. By ourselves the event is hailed with unmingled satisfaction; we look upon it as the harbinger of greater things, that will confer additional glory upon this country,—to whose real glory he must be fallen low indeed who is indifferent,—and raise a mighty superstructure of national celebrity which the lapses and changes of time can never deteriorate. In spite of the reserved manners of the members of some modern governments—of their pretended indifference to praise or dispraise, or their coy reception of popular commendation,—it is in reality with the better portion of them a secret source of pleasure—a sensation of delight which they know how to value highly, and which is the most honourable and the proudest testimony they can receive for the fulfilment of their duties. In the present instance, Ministers have acted, we are sure, in union with public opinion, in the proper sense of the term, and have felt gratified in having so acted—the beneficial results will by and by manifest themselves. L.


'scaped from his cottage threshold see how wild

The village boy alon<> the pasture hies,

With every smell and sound, and sight beguiled,

That round the prospect meets his wondermg eyes';

Now stooping, eager for the cowslip peeps

As though he 'd get them all—now tired of these

Across the flaggy brooks he eager leaps,

For some new toy his happy rapture sees;

Now tearing 'mid the bushes on his knees

Or woodland banks for blue-bell flowers he creeps;

And now while looking up among the trees

He spies a nest, then down he throws his flowers,

And up he climbs with new-fed ecstasies,

The happiest object in the summer hours.


When thou shalt see my friend again,

And hear the voice 1 cannot hear,
And when that smile, so sweet and bright,

Once more thy favour'd soul shall cheer—

Then ask her what, for one she loved

Most dearly, would her wishes be?
And, when her lips hare breath'd them forth,

Say, "These, and more, 1 bring to thee."

And tell her how 1 strove to check
The envious thought which sometimes came,

To think thine eye should see her thus,
Thine ear should hear her name my name.

Ask her if ever thought of me

Hath come, o'ershaded by a fear, Lest present things and passing joys

Should nuke her memory less dear.

And if it hath—'thou know'st me well,

I say not, chide her for that thought; But tell her all thou canst of me,

And charge her that she wrong me not.

And if she ask thee, what report

Thou bringjst of these my passing hours,—

Tell her I never look'd to fmd

The path of life bestrew'd with flowers.

Yet say in duty's path, though rough,

Is sweetness. She hath found it true; And tell her more and more my heart

Admits, believes, and feels it too.

Nor let her fear a boastful thought
With thoughts like this is close entwined;

She knows the heart may acquiesce
When "practice grovels far behind."

More would 1 say—of hopes to meet

Some distant day on earth again, To number up our blessings past,

And count the joys that still remain;

And more—of hopes yet brighter—hopes

That when the work of life is done, Our differing paths, diverging wide,

At last may meet, may blend in one.

But thou may'st tell her all thy heart,—

And I may cease my own to tell; Go then, with blessings on thy path,

To her I love—go,—fare thee well! E.T. CONvERSATIONS OF LORD BYRON.*

This work possesses three sources of attraction, either of them sufficient to insure a general circulation. First, it concerns Lord Byron, the minutest details of whose "whereabouts" are anxiously sought after by every body; secondly, the book is discursive and full of anecdotes, and its pages teem with all the great names of the age: and last, though not least, it spares neither friend nor foe. When first we heard the promise of such a publication, we were a little startled. We were somewhat acquainted with the style and matter of Lord Byron's familiar conversations! We knew that he was noble, and had been habituated by his caste to idle gossiping about persons; we knew that his feelings were quick and susceptible, and therefore that he was likely to be unguarded in speech; we knew too that he was prone to change his " favour" according to the accidental light in which he regarded an o"bject at the moment, and therefore might be tempted to say things of his best friends, that he would be sorry to have repeated, much less "set down in print" against them. Different from Dr. Johnson, he courted not extensive circles of admiring auditors; he spoke not "per far effetlo,"—his colloquy was not an harangue, in which the thought was as "apprite" as the language. Dr. Johnson's discourses to the club, and at the tea-table of Mrs. 1'iozzi, were a sort of publication: and Bqswell in printing them gave them but a second edition. But Lord Byron's conversations, the conversations of a man whose whole life was but one " laissez dlkr," who spoke as he wrote, and who sought in society nothing beyond its own intrinsic enjoyments !t how could this be done without high treason to friendship, without scandalizing all the subjects of his casual remarks? As far, however, as Lord Byron is concerned, we are, on perusal, satisfied that the author has acquitted himself with tolerable felicity, and we are persuaded he may sleep in peace without any fear of a visitation from his Lordship's offended ghost. The noble poet was too frank and facile in his literary intercourse with the world, was too apt to display the weaknesses, no less than the strength of his mind, with an almost cynical indifference to his reader, to care much about this species of exposure ; and though there are many details more especially of matters of opinion, which we are persuaded he uttered more out of wantonness than that he even at the time thought as he spoke,—details which he would have been sorry to pass current as the expression of his real sentiments; yet, as far as he was himself concerned, we have no doubt he would have been more grateful than displeased at the publication. If credit may be given to this journal, Lord Byron was most desirous for the posthumous printing of his memoirs; and he seems, indeed, to have intrusted them to Mr. Moore, as a safeguard against that very accident into which the high-wrought notions of delicacy of the trustee, and his deference to relations and friends, eventually betrayed them. Lord Byron seems to have been aware of the prudery of his own immediate connexions, and in the way in which he bestowed the MS. to have consulted at once his generous disposition towards a friend, and his desire of security against mutilation

* Journal of the Conversations of Lord Byron: noted during a residence with his Lordship at Pisa, in the years 1821 and 1822. By Thomas Mediein, Esq. 4to. f See Journal, p. 50.

or suppression. On this subject, the Journal makes Lord Byron speak as follows:—

"I am sorry not to have a copy of my Memoirs to show yon. I gave them to Moore, or rather to^Moore's little boy." •

"I remember saying, ' Here are 2000/. for you, my young friend.' I made one reservation m the gift,—that they were not to be published till after my death.

"£ nave not the least objection to their being circulated; in fact they havs been read by some of mine, and several of Moore's friends and acquaintances; among others, they were lent to Lady Burghersh. On returning the MS. her Ladyship told Moore that she had transcribed the whole work. This was un peufort, and he suggested the propriety of her destroying the copy. She did so, by putting it into the fire m his presence. Ever since this happened, Douglas Kinnaird has been recommending me to resume possession of the MS., thinking to frighten me by saying that a spurious or a real copy, surreptitiously obtained, may go forth to the world. 1 am quite indifferent about the world knowing all that they contain. There are very few licentious adventures of my own, or scandalous anecdotes that will affect others, in the book. It is taken up from my earliest recollections, almost from childhood, —very incoherent, written in a very loose and familiar style. The second

rart will prove a good lesson to young men; for it treats of the irregular life led atone period, and the fatal consequences of dissipation. There are few parts that may not, and none that will not, be read by women."

'In this particular, Lord Byron's fate has been singular; and a super* stitious person might be startled at the coincidence of so many causes all tending to hide the secret of his character from the public. That scandal and envy should have been at work with such a man is not very extraordinary; but the burning his Memoirs and the subsequent injunction on the publication of his Letters to his Mother, seem as if something more than mere chance had operated to preserve unconfuted the calumnies of the day for the benefit of future biographers. Of these letters we were fortunate enough to obtain a glimpse; and never, we will venture to say, was more innocent, and at the same time more valuable matter so withheld from the world. It is but an act of cold justice to Lord Byron's memory, to state that they appear the reflections of as generous a mind as ever committed its expression to paper. The traces of his temperament, and of his false position in society, are indeed there: but the sentiments are lofty and enthusiastic; and every line betrays the warmest sympathy with human suffering, and a scornful indignation at mean and disgraceful vice.

To the sacrificed Memoirs and the incarcerated Letters, the present Journal is a sort of supplement; and it is avowedly published as an attempt to supply some portion of the information, of which the public have been, as Mr. Medwin thinks, so injuriously deprived. Indeed, both from the matter, and the sostenuto style of some of the passages, we have been almost tempted to think them a leaf rescued from the flames. All men, however, are apt to speak much of themselves; and great men often do this well: it is not, therefore, very unlikely that Lord Byron's conversations might frequently be mere fragments of his written life, at least as far as concerns the sequence of thoughts; and we

* Moore's son was not with trim in Italy; there is consequently some trifling inaccuracy in this. It is, nevertheless true, as we happen to know, that this was the turn which Lord B. gave to Ms present, in order to make it more acceptable to his friend. Rev.

are convinced that upon some points the most material facts are thus preserved for the benefit of society. Of this description is his account of his own connexion with Lady Byron, their loves, marriage, and separation.

His account of his situation immediately before his leaving England is sufficiently melancholy: he closes it by saying,—

"In addition to all these mortifications, my affairs were irretrievably involved, and almost so as to make me what they wished. I was compelled to part with Newstead, which 1 never could have ventured to sell in my mother's life-time. As it is, 1 shall never forgive myself for having done so j though I am told that the estate would not now brmg half as much as I got for it. This does not at.all reconcile me to having parted with the old abbey. I did not make up my mind to this step, but from the last necessity. J had my wife's portion to repay, and was determined to add 10,000/. more of my own to it; which I did. I always hated being in debt, and do not owe a guinea. The moment I had put my affairs in train, and in little more than eighteen months after my marriage, 1 left England, an involuntary exile, intending it should be for ever."

From the darker part of this great man's autobiography we turn with very different and pleasant sensations to the history of his boyish days.

"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 fatherl': It was very different from Mrs. Malaprop's saying, 'Ah! good dear Mr. Malaprop, 1 never loved him till he was dead.' But, in fact, my father was, in his youth, any thing but a 'Coelebs in search of a wife.' He would have maae 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; 1 have the note. He seemed born for his own rum, and that of the other sex. He began by seducing Lady Carmarthen, and spent for her 4000/. ayear; and not content with one adventure of this kind, afterwards eloped with Miss Gordon. His 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.

"The phrenologists tell me that other lines besides that of thought, (the middle of three horizontal lines on his forehead, on which he prided himself,) are strongly developed in the hinder part of my cranium; particularly that called philoprogemtiveness. I suppose, too, the pugnacious bump might be found somewhere, because my uncle had it.

"You have heard the unfortunate story of his duel with his relation and neighbour. After that melancholy event, he shut himself up at Newstead, and was in the habit of feeding crickets, which were his only companions. He had made them so tame as to crawl over him, and used to whip them with a wisp of straw, if too familiar. When he died, tradition says that they left the house in a body. I suppose I derive my superstition from this branch of the family; but though I attend to none of these new-fangled theories, I am inclined to think that there is more in a chart of the skull than the Edinburgh Reviewers suppose. However that may be, I was a wayward youth, and gave my mother a world of trouble,—as 1 fear Ada will her's, for I am told she is a little termagant. I had an ancestor too that expired laughing, (I suppose that my good spirits came from him,) and two whose affection was such for each other, that they died almost at the same moment. There seems to have been a flaw in my escutcheon there, or that loving couple have monopolized all the connubial bliss of the family.

"I passed my boyhood at Marlodge near Aberdeen, occasionally visiting the Highlands; and long retained an affection for Scotland;—that, I suppose,

« AnteriorContinuar »