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LETTER FROM CHARLES SKINNER

came it there ?” and his concluding remark with castellated buildings, the chief of which on the whole poem is as follows :

stands on an eminence at the further ex“ The greater part of this Satire I most tremity of it. Fancy all this surrounded sincerely wish had never been written ; not

with bleak and barren hills, with scarce a only on account of the injustice of much of tree to be seen for miles, except a solitary the critical and some of the personal part of clump or two, and you will have some idea it, but the tone and temper are such as I of Newstead. For the late Lord being at cannot approve.

“ BYRON.

enmity with his son, to whom the estate was

secured by entail, resolved, out of spite to “ Diodata, Geneva, July 14. 1816."

the same, that the estate should descend to While engaged in preparing his new edition him in as miserable a plight as he could for the press, he was also gaily dispensing possibly reduce it to ; for which cause, he the hospitalities of Newstead to a party of took no care of the mansion, and fell to young college friends, whom, with the pro- lopping of every tree he could lay his hands spect of so long an absence from England, he on, so furiously, that he reduced immense had assembled round him at the Abbey, for

tracts of woodland country to the desolate a sort of festive farewell. The following state I have just described. However, his letter from one of the party, Charles Skinner

son died before him, so that all his rage was

thrown away, Matthews, though containing much less of the noble host himself than we could have

“ So much for the place, concerning which wished, yet, as a picture, taken freshly and I have thrown together these few particulars, at the moment, of a scene so pregnant with meaning my account to be, like the place character, will, I have little doubt, be highly itself, without any order or connection. But acceptable to the reader.

if the place itself appear rather strange to you, the ways of the inhabitants will not

appear much less so. Ascend, then, with MATTHEWS, ESQ. TO MISS I. M. me the hall steps, that I may introduce you “London, May 22. 1809.

to my Lord and his visitants. But have a My dear

care how you proceed; be mindful to go " I must begin with giving you a few there in broad daylight, and with your eyes particulars of the singular place which I have about you. For, should you make any lately quitted.

blunder,-should you go to the right of the Newstead Abbey is situate 136 miles hall steps, you are laid hold of by a bear ; from London,- four on this side Mansfield. and should you go to the left, your case is It is so fine a piece of antiquity, that I still worse, for you run full against a wolf! should think there must be a description, and, — Nor, when you have attained the door, is perhaps, a picture of it in Grose. The an- your danger over ; for the hall being decayed, cestors of its present owner came into pos- and therefore standing in need of repair, a session of it at the time of the dissolution of bevy of inmates are very probably banging the monasteries, but the building itself is at one end of it with their pistols ; so that of a much earlier date. Though sadly fallen if you enter without giving loud notice of to decay, it is still completely an abbey, and your approach, you have only escaped the most part of it is still standing in the same wolf and the bear to expire by the pistolstate as when it was first built. There are shots of the merry monks of Newstead. two tiers of cloisters, with a variety of cells “ Our party consisted of Lord Byron and and rooms about them, which, though not four others, and was, now and then, increased inhabited, nor in an inhabitable state, might by the presence of a neighbouring parson. easily be made so; and many of the original | As for our way of living, the order of the rooms, amongst which is a fine stone hall

, day was generally this :- for breakfast we are still in use. Of the abbey church only had no set hour, but each suited his own one end remains ; and the old kitchen, with convenience,-every thing remaining on the a long range of apartments, is reduced to a table till the whole party had done, though heap of rubbish. Leading from the abbey to had one wished to breakfast at the early the modern part of the habitation is a noble hour of ten, one would have been rather room seventy feet in length, and twenty-three lucky to find any of the servants up. Our in breadth ; but every part of the house disa average hour of rising was one. I, who plays neglect and decay, save those which generally got up between eleven and twelve, the present Lord has lately fitted up. was always, -even when an invalid, - the

“ The house and gardens are entirely sur first of the party, and was esteemed a prodigy rounded by a wall with battlements. In of early rising. It was frequently past two front is a large lake, bordered here and there before the breakfast party broke up. Then,

ET. 21.

FAREWELL FESTIVAL AT NEWSTEAD.

83

for the amusements of the morning, there leave of London (whither he had returned) was reading, fencing, single-stick, or shuttle- on the Ilth of June, and, in about a fortcock, in the great room; practising with night after, sailed for Lisbon. pistols in the hall; walking-riding --cricket Great as was the advance which his powers — sailing on the lake, playing with the bear, had made, under the influence of that reor teasing the wolf. Between seven and sentment from which he now drew his inspireight we dined ; and our evening lasted ation, they were yet, even in his Satire, at from that time till one, two, or three in the an immeasurable distance from the point to morning. The evening diversions may be which they afterwards so triumphantly rose. easily conceived.

It is, indeed, remarkable that, essentially as “ I must not omit the custom of handing his genius seemed connected with, and, as it round, after dinner, on the removal of the were, springing out of his character, the decloth, a human skull filled with burgundy. velopment of the one should so long have After revelling on choice viands, and the preceded the full maturity of the resources finest wines of France, we adjourned to tea, of the other. By her very early and rapid where we amused ourselves with reading, or expansion of his sensibilities, Nature had improving conversation,— each, according to given him notice of what she destined him his fancy,—and, after sandwiches, &c. re- for, long before he understood the call ; and tired to rest. A set of monkish dresses, those materials of poetry with which his which had been provided, with all the proper own fervid temperament abounded were but apparatus of crosses, beads, tonsures, &c. by slow degrees, and after much self-medioften gave a variety to our appearance, and tation, revealed to him. In his Satire, though to our pursuits.

vigorous, there is but little foretaste of the “ You may easily imagine how chagrined wonders that followed it. His spirit was I was at being ill nearly the first half of the stirred, but he had not yet looked down into time I was there. But I was led into a very its depths, nor does even his bitterness taste different reflection from that of Dr. Swift, of the bottom of the heart, like those sarwho left Pope's house without ceremony, casms which he afterwards flung in the face and afterwards informed him, by letter, that of mankind. Still less had the other countit was impossible for two sick friends to live less feelings and passions, with which his together; for I found my shivering and soul had been long labouring, found an organ invalid frame so perpetually annoyed by the worthy of them ;—the gloom, the grandeur, thoughtless and tumultuous health of every the tenderness of his nature, all were left one about me, that I heartily wished every without a voice, till his mighty genius, at soul in the house to be as ill as myself. last, awakened in its strength. 2

“ The journey back I performed on foot, In stooping, as he did, to write after estogether with another of the guests.' We tablished models, as well in the Satire as in walked about twenty-five miles a day; but his still earlier poems, he showed how little were a week on the road, from being de- he had yet explored his own original retained by the rain.

sources, or found out those distinctive marks “ So here I close my account of an expe- by which he was to be known through all dition which has somewhat extended my times. But, bold and energetic as was his knowledge of this country. And where do general character, he was, in a remarkable you think I am going next? To Con- degree, diffident in his intellectual powers. stantinople ! - at least, such an excursion The consciousness of what he could achieve has been proposed to me. Lord B. and was but by degrees forced upon him, and another friend of mine are going thither next the discovery of so rich a mine of genius in month, and have asked me to join the party; his soul came with no less surprise on himself but it seems to be but a wild scheme, and than on the world. It was from the same requires twice thinking upon.

slowness of self-appreciation that, afterwards, Addio, my dear I., yours very affection in the full flow of his fame, he long doubted, ately,

as we shall see, his own aptitude for works “C. S. Matthews." of wit and humour, till the happy ex

periment of “ Beppo” at once dissipated this Having put the finishing hand to his new distrust, and opened a new region of triumph edition, he, without waiting for the fresh to his versatile and boundless powers. honours that were in store for him, took But, however far short of himself his first

! (Mr. Hobhouse)

(Even in its ablest passages, this poem exhibits more of passionate malice than of intellectual strength. Its diction is often pointed and energetic enough, but shows

few, if any, traces of refined art, and, we venture to say, none of the curiosa felicitas of genius. We should rather characterise it as a smart lampoon than as a vigorous satire." - Quart. Rev. 1831.)

Still let me love !"

writings must be considered, there is in his on his own side, to form strong attachments, Satire a liveliness of thought, and still more and a yearning desire after affection in rea vigour and courage, which, concurring with turn, were the feeling and the want that the justice of his cause and the sympathies formed the dream and torment of his exof the public on his side, could not fail to istence. We have seen with what passionate attach instant celebrity to his name. Not- enthusiasm he threw himself into his boyish withstanding, too, the general boldness and friendships. The all-absorbing and unsucrecklessness of his tone, there were occa- cessful love that followed was, if I may so sionally mingled with this defiance some say, the agony, without being the death, of allusions to his own fate and character, this unsated desire, which lived on through whose affecting earnestness seemed to answer his life, and filled his poetry with the very for their truth, and which were of a nature soul of tenderness, lent the colouring of its strongly to awaken curiosity as well as in- light to even those unworthy ties which terest. One or two of these passages, as vanity or passion led him afterwards to form, illustrative of the state of his mind at this and was the last aspiration of his fervid period, I shall here extract. The loose and spirit in those stanzas written but a few unfenced state in which his youth was left to months before his death : grow wild upon the world is thus touchingly + 'Tis time this heart should be unmoved, alluded to:

Since others it has ceased to move ;

Yet, though I cannot be beloved, “ Ev'n I, least thinking of a thoughtless throng,

Just skill'd to know the right and choose the wrong, It is much, I own, to be questioned, Freed at that age when Reason's shield is lost

whether, even under the most favourable To fight my course through Passion's countless host, Whom every path of Pleasure's flowery way

circumstances, a disposition such as I have Has lured in turn, and all have led astrayi

here described could have escaped ultimate Ev'n I must raise my voice, ev'n I must feel

disappointment, or found any where a restingSuch scenes, such men destroy the public weal : place for its imaginings and desires. But, in Although some kind, censorious friend will say, the case of Lord Byron, disappointment met • What art thou better, meddling fool?, than they ?'

him on the very threshold of life. His mother, And every brother Rake will smile to see That miracle, a Moralist, in me."

to whom his affections first, naturally with

ardour, turned, either repelled them rudely, But the passage in which, hastily thrown

or capriciously trifled with them. In speakoff as it is, we find the strongest traces of ing of his early days to a friend at Genoa, a that wounded feeling, which bleeds, as it short time before his departure for Greece, were, through all his subsequent writings, is he traced the first feelings of pain and huthe following:

miliation he had ever known to the coldness

with which his mother had received his ca“ The time hath been, when no harsh sound would fall From lips that now may seem imbued with gall,

resses in infancy, and the frequent taunts on Nor fools nor follies tempt me to despise

his personal deformity with which she had The meanest thing that crawl'd beneath my eyes.

wounded him. But now so callous grown, so changed from youth,"&c. The sympathy of a sister's love, of all the

Some of the causes that worked this influences on the mind of a youth the most change in his character have been intimated softening, was also, in his early days, denied in the course of the preceding pages. That

to him, — his sister Augusta and he having there was

no tinge of bitterness in his seen but little of each other while young. natural disposition, we have abundant tes

A vent through the calm channel of domestic timony, besides his own, to prove. Though,

affections might have brought down the high as a child, occasionally passionate and head- current of his feelings to a level nearer strong, his docility and kindness towards that of the world he had to traverse, and those who were themselves kind, is acknow- thus saved them from the tumultuous rapids ledged by all ; and “playful” and “affections and falls to which this early elevation, in ate those who knew him in his childhood convey had no other resource but in those boyish are invariably the epithets by which their after-course, exposed them. In the

dearth of all home-endearments, his heart their impression of his character. Of all the qualities, indeed, of his nature, when these were interrupted by his removal

friendships which he formed at school ; and affectionateness seems to have been the most ardent and most deep. A disposition, to Cambridge, he was again thrown back,

isolated, on his own restless desires. Then

followed his ill-fated attachment to Miss already referred, he says, on this passage — " Yea, and a

Chaworth, to which, more than to any other pretty dance they have led me."

cause, he himself attributed the desolating 9" Fool then, and but little wiser now."

change then wrought in his disposition.

1 In the MS. remarks on his Satire, to which I have

ET. 21.

DEPARTURE FROM ENGLAND.

85

"I doubt sometimes (he says, in his

" THE FAREWELL-TO A LADY. 2 * Detached Thoughts,') whether, after all, a " When man, expellid from Eden's bowers, quiet and unagitated life would have suited

A moment linger'd near the gate, me ; yet I sometimes long for it. My earliest

Each scene recall'd the vanish'd hours,

And bade him curse his future fate. dreams (as most boys' dreams are) were martial : but a little later they were all for “But wandering on through distant climes, love and retirement, till the hopeless attach

He learnt to bear his load of grief;

Just gave a sigh to other times, ment to Mary Chaworth began and con

And found in busier scenes relief. tinued (though sedulously concealed) very

“ Thus, lady9, must it be with me, early in my teens; and so upwards for a time.

And I must view thy charms no more ! This threw me out again alone on a wide,

For, whilst I linger near to thee, wide sea. In the year 1804 I recollect

I sigh for all I knew before," &c. &c. meeting my sister at General Harcourt's, in Portland Place. I was then one thing, and The other poem is, throughout, full of as she had always till then found me. When tenderness; but I shall give only what apwe met again in 1805 (she told me since) pear to me the most striking stanzas. that my temper and disposition were so

“ STANZAS TO completely altered, that I was hardly to be

.. ON LEAVING

ENGLAND. / recognised. I was not then sensible of the change ; but I can believe it, and account

"'Tis done -- and shivering in the gale

The bark unfurls her snowy sail ; for it."

And whistling o'er the bending mast,
I have already described his parting with

Loud sings on high the fresh'ning blast;
Miss Chaworth previously to her marriage. And I must from this land be gone,
Once again, after that event, he saw her, Because I cannot love but one.
and for the last time, — being invited by

“ As some lone bird, without a mate, Mr. Chaworth to dine at Annesley not long

My weary heart is desolate; before his departure from England. The

I look around, and cannot trace few years that had elapsed since their last One friendly smile or welcome face, meeting had made a considerable change in And ev'n in crowds am still alone,

Because I cannot love but one. the appearance and manners of the young poet. The fat, unformed schoolboy was now “ And I will cross the whitening foam, a slender and graceful young man. Those

And I will seek a foreign home; emotions and passions which at first heighten,

Till I forget a false fair face,

I ne'er shall find a resting-place ; and then destroy, beauty, had as yet produced

My own dark thoughts I cannot shun, only their favourable effects on his features;

But ever love, and love but one. and, though with but little aid from the example of refined society, his manners had

" I go--but wheresoe'er I flee

There's not an eye will weep for me; subsided into that tone of gentleness and

There's not a kind congenial heart, self-possession which more than any thing Where I can claim the meanest part; marks the well-bred gentleman. Once only Nor thou, who hast my hopes undone, was the latter of these qualities put to the Wilt sigh, although I love but one. trial, when the little daughter of his fair

“ To think of every early scene, hostess was brought into the room. At the

Of what we are, and what we've been, sight of the child he started involuntarily,-it Would whelm some softer hearts with woe was with the utmost difficulty he could But mine, alas ! has stood the blow; conceal his emotion; and to the sensations Yet still beats on as it begun, of that moment we are indebted for those

And never truly loves but one. touching stanzas, “Well — thou art happy," “ And who that dear loved one may be &c. ', which appeared afterwards in a Mis. Is not for vulgar eyes to see, cellany published by one of his friends, and

And why that early love was crost,

Thou know'st the best, I feel the most; are now to be found in the general collection

But few that dwell beneath the sun of his works. Under the influence of the

Have loved so long, and loved but one. same despondent passion, he wrote two

“ I've tried another's fetters, too, other poems at this period, from which, as

With charms, perchance, as fair to view; they exist only in the Miscellany I have just

And I would fain bave loved as well, alluded to, and that collection has for some

But some unconquerable spell time been out of print, a few stanzas may, Forbade my bleeding breast to own not improperly, be extracted here.

A kindred care for aught but one. 1 Dated, in his original copy, Nov. 2. 1808.

land in the spring." The date subjoined is December 2.

1808. • Entitled, in his original manuscript, “ To Mrs. Musters, on being asked my reason for quitting Eng

3 In his first copy,

Thus, Mary."

“ 'Twould soothe to take one lingering view, one at least ten years older than the age at And bless thee in my last adieu ;

which they were written, - I don't mean for Yet wish I not those eyes to weep For him that wanders o'er the deep ;

their solidity, but their experience. The His home, his hope, his youth, are gone,

two first Cantos of Childe Harold were Yet still he loves, and loves but one." I

completed at twenty-two; and they are

written as if by a man older than I shall While thus, in all the relations of the

probably ever be." heart, his thirst after affection was thwarted,

Though the allusions in the first sentence in another instinct of his nature, not less of this extract have reference to a much strong - the desire of eminence and dis- earlier period, they afford an opportunity of tinction he was, in an equal degree, remarking, that however dissipated may have checked in his aspirings, and mortified. The been the life which he led during the two or inadequacy of his means to his station was

three years previous to his departure on his early a source of embarrassment and humili- travels

, yet the notion caught up by many, ation to him; and those high, patrician from his own allusions, in Childe Harold, to notions of birth in which he indulged but irregularities and orgies of which Newstead made the disparity between his fortune had been the scene, is, like most other imand his rank the more galling Ambition, putations against him, founded on his own however, soon whispered to him that there testimony, greatly exaggerated. He describes, were other and nobler ways to distinction. it is well known, the home of his poetical The eminence which talent builds for itself

representative as a monastic dome, conmight, one day, he proudly felt, be his own ; demned to uses vile,” and then adds, – nor was it too sanguine to hope that, under the favour accorded usually to youth, he

" Where Superstition once had made her den,

Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile." might with impunity venture on his first steps to fame. But here, as in every other Mr. Dallas, too, giving in to the same strain object of his heart, disappointment and mor- of exaggeration, says, in speaking of the tification awaited him. Instead of ex- poet's preparations for his departure, “alperiencing the ordinary forbearance, if not in- ready satiated with pleasure, and disgusted dulgence, with which young aspirants for fame with those companions who have no other are received by their critics, he found himself resource, he had resolved on mastering instantly the victim of such unmeasured his appetites ;-he broke up his harems," i severity as is not often dealt out even to The truth, however, is, that the narrowness veteran offenders in literature ; and, with a of Lord Byron's means would alone have heart fresh from the trials of disappointed prevented such oriental luxuries. The mode love, saw those resources and consolations of his life at Newstead was simple and unexwhich he had sought in the exercise of his pensive. His companions, though not averse intellectual strength also invaded.

to convivial indulgences, were of habits and While thus prematurely broken into the tastes too intellectual for mere vulgar depains of life, a no less darkening effect was bauchery; and, with respect to the alleged produced upon him by too early an initiation " harems,” it appears certain that one or two into its pleasures. That charm with which suspected “subintroductæ" (as the ancient the fancy of youth invests an untried world monks of the abbey would have styled them), was, in his case, soon dissipated. His and those, too, among the ordinary menials passions had, at the very onset of their of the establishment, were all that even career, forestalled the future ; and the blank scandal itself could ever fix upon to warrant void that followed was by himself considered such an assumption. as one of the causes of that melancholy, That gaming was among his follies at this which now settled so deeply into his cha- period he himself tells us in the journal I

have just cited : "My passions” (he says, in his ‘ Detached “ I have a notion (he says) that gamblers Thoughts) were developed very early – are as happy as many people, being always so early that few would believe me if I were excited. Women, wine, fame, the table, to state the period and the facts which ac- even ambition, sate now and then ; but every companied it. Perhaps this was one of the turn of the card and cast of the dice keeps reasons which caused the anticipated melan- the gamester alive : besides, one can game choly of my thoughts, - having anticipated ten times longer than one can do any thing life. My earlier poems are the thoughts of else. I was very fond of it when young,

racter.

! Thus corrected by himself in a copy of the Miscellany now in my possession; - the two last lines being, ori. ginally, as follows:

" Though wheresoe'er my bark may run,

I love but thee, I love but one." ? (Opposite this passage of the Journal, Sir Walter

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