Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

favorite dog, and he caused a monument to be erected, commemorative of his attachment, with an inscription, which will be found among the select poems.

At an early age, his lordship was placed under the guardianship of Mr. White, an eminent solicitor, who, by a singular coincidence of circumstances, had likewise become the guardian of the accomplished Miss Chaworth, whose father had formerly fallen a victim to the resentment of a near relative of his lordship.

Notwithstanding the family feud, their guardian wished that Lord Byron should be united to this lady; and it is believed that the inclinations of his lordship were not at variance with the intentions of his guardian. The lady, however, either from family circumstances, or early formed attachment to J. Musters, Esq., then honored for his fashionable notoriety with the more familiar appellation of "the gay Jack Musters," was far from being a willing ward. His lordship's pride would not permit him to woo a reluctant fair one, in propria persona, yet he frequently expressed the warmth of his feelings in his invocation to the Muses.

Mr. Musters was a pretty constant attendant upon Miss Chaworth ; for the purpose of avoiding him, Mr. White, his two sisters, Lord Byron, and the unwilling fair, hastened in rapid succession from one watering place to another, while he followed in pursuit.

It was, however, useless contending with destiny. It was his lordship's fate not to be united with that of Miss Chaworth, notwithstanding the ardency of his attachment, and the influence of their guardian.

The anguish produced on his lordship's mind by unrequited love and disappointed ambition, may be more easily conceived than described ; fits of gloominess and gaiety, desperation and dissipation, alternately prevailed, until the Muses, the invariable confidants of intense passion, gently soothed the irritation of his heart, by presenting to his warm imagination a bright perspective of poetical honors and perennial triumphs. He soon afterwards published his Minor Poems. This last and long cherished hope seemed blasted for ever, and under the extreme anguish of his feelings, he could no longer look for consolation to literary glory. This drove him to the verge of madness - his mind and conduct were entirely metamorphosed; naturally mirthful, he became suddenly melancholy; he despised, shunned, and hated every one; his present sulky disposition was converted into the gall of misanthropy; and the conflicting passions, which, like vultures, preyed upon the tenderest fibres of his heart, goaded him to a determination to quit the scenes where associations and circumstances only failed to awaken recollections which tortured his soul.

On arriving at maturity, Lord Byron took a long leave of his native country, with the intention of making a tour in foreign lands; but as the ordinary course of travelling through Europe was impeded by the war which existed between England and France, he embarked from Falmouth for Lisbon. In 1809 he passed through Portugal and Spain, touched at Malta and Sicily, and proceeded to the Morea and Constantinople; during a part of which tour he was accompanied by Mr. John Cam Hobhouse.

While the Salsette frigate, in which Lord Byron was a passenger to Constantinople, lay in the Dardanelles, a discussion arose among some of the officers, respecting the practicability of swimming across the Hellespont - Lord Byron and Lieutenant Ekenhead determined upon making the trial; and they accordingly performed this enterprise on the 3d of May, 1810.

After an absence of nearly three years, Lord Byron revisited his native shores, and shortly afterwards produced “Childe Harold,” the plan of which was laid in Albania, and prosecuted at Athens, where it received some of its finest touches and most splendid ornaments. His lordship published, in rapid succession, the Poems, entitled the “Giaour," the “Bride of Abydos," and the “Corsair," the spirit and brilliancy of which are unequalled.

On the 2d of January, 1815, Lord Byron married at Seaham, in the county of Durham, the only daughter of Sir Ralph Noel Milbanke, Baronet; and, towards the close of the same year, his lady brought him a daughter, for whom he always manifested the strongest affection. In a few

66

[ocr errors]

weeks, however, after that event, a separation took place, for which various causes have been stated, and soon afterwards Lord Byron left the kingdom with the resolution never to return.

He crossed over to France, through which he passed rapidly to Brussels, taking in his way a survey of the field of Waterloo. He proceeded to Coblentz, and thence up the Rhine as far as Basle. After visiting some of the most remarkable scenes in Switzerland, he proceeded to the north of Italy. He took up his abode for some time at Venice, where he was joined by Mr. Hobhouse, who accompanied him on an excursion to Rome.

His lordship remained for some time at Pisa, and during his stay in Italy, he wrote a number of poetical productions, including “Don Juan,” Beppo,” Mazeppa,” and three or four tragedies.

He was particularly attached to Greece, and devoted himself to the redemption of that lovely and classic land from the bondage of the infidel, which had so long enthralled it. His cheerful influence reconciled the Greek chiefs, and banished discord from among them. He contributed largely from his private fortune to their wants; and his presence on these shores drew the attention of all Europe to the strife of the Christians against the Infidel crescent, and made the very Divan tremble.

The names of her modern heroes, by whose intrepidity the Turkish bands have been so often scattered, would have been joined with the patriots of Platea and Thermopylæ, and, consecrated by the genius of Lord Byron, have gone down in kindred memory to succeeding days, but, unfortunately for Greece, their champion perished in the prime of youth, and in the middle of his exertions in her cause. This melancholy event took place at Missolonghi, on the 19th of April, 1824. On the 9th of that month, his lordship, who had been living very low, exposed himself to a very violent rain ; the consequence of which was a severe cold, and he was immediately confined to his bed. His last words, before delirium had seized his powerful mind, were,

" I wish it to be known that my last thoughts were given to my wife, my child, and my sister.”

Thus died Lord Byron, at the early age of thirty-seven, leaving behind him a name second only to that of the renowned emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and a memory which the sublime effusions of his muse will endear to all posterity.

His body was conveyed to England, and buried in the next vault to his mother, at the village of Hucknall.

Besides his only legitimate child, he left another daughter in Italy, to whom he bequeathed £ 5000, on condition that she should not marry an Englishman.

The Greeks have requested and obtained the heart of Lord Byron, which they intend placing in a mausoleum, in the country for whose liberation it last beat.

Some time previous to his decease, Lord Byron wrote his own memoirs, which he presented to Mr. Moore; and Mr. Murray purchased the MS. for £ 2000, with an understanding that it should not be published until the death of the noble poet: he has since given it up, and at the wish of some of Lord Byron's relatives, it is said to have been destroyed.

The death of Lord Byron was an event little expected. It fell on the public ear like a shock of deep private misfortune. He has sunk to rest in the prime of his days, and in the zenith of his fame; he has left the world when his services could ill be spared ; and we may add, with the greatest truth, when they cannot be supplied.

« AnteriorContinuar »