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he poured out during the short remainder of his career ; but, whilst admitting the splendour, the versatility, the profundity, of his genius, I cannot but think that it might have been better directed. Such powers are given to so few, that the possessor ought to prove a certain blessing to his species—the clever, the dazzling, the perplexing, however wonderful, do not constitute all we have a right to expect from God's nobility.
Lord Byron, at first, as he had done with respect to his writings, refused to benefit by his wife's fortune, but did not persevere in the resolution. He had been on the eve of selling Newstead, and had received forfeiture from the proposed purchaser ; but he had not effected the sale at his departure. He took a different course from his first voyage; travelling through Flanders, and up the Rhine, he chose Switzerland as his first resting-place. With his usual felicity, he made his journeyings among the Alps subservient to his muse, and he here collected the machinery and scenery of his sublime dramatic poem of “Manfred," the hero of the piece he had not to travel far in search of. Byron is so essentially a painter from realities, that this conscience-stricken metaphysician would almost lead us to attach consequence to horrid tales that were in circulation relative to a part of his sojourn in Greece; but no,with all his errors, he was an Englishman, and I will not think them even possible.
In Switzerland he renewed his intimacy with Madame de Staël, who was more kind to him than she had been in London. The author of "Delphine "rand “ Corinne” was too well versed in the theory, if not the practice of love, to be deceived by Byron's pretences to the passion. “She attacked me furiously last night," said he; “she said I had no right to make love--that I had
* barbarously—that I had no feeling, and was totally insensible to la belle passion, and had been all my life.” This might be sharp, but it was nevertheless true. But now, in her own territory of Copet, and the poet being in a sort of banishment, she was not only a hospitable hostess, but a friend. He became acquainted with Shelley at Geneva, and notwithstanding the difference of their genius, formed something like a friendship for him. Shelley was of a knightly family, had great talents, and was sceptical and peculiar in his opinions. This all “jumped with Byron's humour," but, to judge from his letters, they were never very intimate friends. Shelley's genius was of too delicate and fanciful a nature to consort completely with the bold, dashing, eccentric spirit of Byron-as I before said, in Shelley all was imagination, as in Byron all was real. As an excuse for this, the latter was accustomed to say: “There should always be some foundation of fact for the most airy fabric, and pure invention is
but the talent of a liar.” Whilst here he wrote “Lines on hearing Lady Byron was ill,” which are much more cruel than even the celebrated “ Farewell,” and began “Manfred."
In October he left Switzerland for Italy, a country in which he seened more at home than in any other, and shortly took up a kind of settled residence at Venice. He entered upon his initiation in Italian manners by falling in love with Marianna, the wife of the person in whose house he lodged. He wrote to Rogers “that Venice was a famous place for women,” which, indeed, he seemed to think, for his dissipations were such as to bring him down to a serious illness. But the inexhaustible stores of his mind were never left to rust—the third canto of “Childe Harold” was finished, “Manfred” had a third act added, a fourth canto of “Childe Harold” was begun, and “Beppo" was written. After producing “Mazeppa,” his genius took its most eccentric, and, perhaps, most surprising flight, and he began “Don Juan.” Of this astonishing production it is difficult to speak,—its elements are soextraordinary, so diversified, and yet each so perfect in its way—the sublime, the ridiculous, the pathetic, the humorous, the sarcastic, the benevolent, the moral, and the obscene, seem to chase each other along every line, "with artless heed and giddy cunning,” till the brain of the reader becomes bewildered in the pursuit. And yet, every friend to the poet, every friend to morality, must wish that “Don Juan" had never been written—the greater the genius displayed, the more insidious the danger.
Another amour soon engaged him. He accidentally met with a low-born woman, the wife of a miller, with whom he became infatuated. This was one of his magnificent Juno-like charmers, and the contests between her and her rival seem to have amused him highly : what the reader of his life must think on seeing the English Peer of the highest genius so amused is another thing. All this time his pen was as active as ever, and though he affected to hate the very name of England, no event happened there without engaging his attention so far as to set it to work; his letters contradict themselves in this respect. Poor Southey seems to have ever remained a favourite butt; the “Vision of Judgment” was severe, but was almost warranted by the absurdity of the Laureate's original.
In 1820, he had the good fortune to become acquainted with the Countess Guiccioli, the wife of an elderly nobleman, and the daughter of a Count Gamba. I say good fortune, as this connection, in a great degree, weaned him from the course of low libertinism into which he had fallen. The husband became jealous, the young wife extravagantly in love with her celebrated foreign lover, and her family slightly anxious about their honour. But matters were managed as they do these things in Italy; all parties, at length, seemed tolerably satisfied, except the poor husband, who was compelled to pay his wife a certain income, although deprived of her, and quite conscious that she and the noble poet were happy in their loves. A great deal more has been said about Byron's attachment to this lady than I think it deserves. With the true “Don Juan” spirit, when he was struck with her beauty, difficulties only enhanced the pleasure of the pursuit ; but when those difficulties were overcome, his conduct, his letters, and his associations prove that his love was no more, or at most little more, than one of the hundred evanescent flames that had been kindled in bis inflammable breast. He had been rather cooler in his pursuit of pleasure, and the countess, as a lady, associated rather more with his mental occupations and gentlemanly feelings than the low women with whom he had of late been connected. But that was all. He appears, after the first, to be always ready to leave her, and it is her attachment to him that produces the appearance of constancy on his part. He was anxious to get an eminent portrait-painter over-but it was to paint two portraits ; not only that of the fair, beautiful, lady-like countess, but that of his vixen love, the magni. ficent Italian, the miller's wife. As the melancholy close approaches, there is no mention of this lady, and if it be true that the ruling passion is strong in death, the evidence is conclusivefor, in no account is there any proof of her having engaged one of his last thoughts; the names of his sister and his daughter were murmured from his dying lips, but not that of the devoted Guiccioli. Madame de Staël was right; Byron had never an idea of pure exalted love. Of all his multifarious heroines, there is not one to excite the sympathies of a well-directed mind. Haidée has been pronounced innocent, but it is the innocence of ignorance, and, from the finding of the half-naked boy to the last scene of her episode, it is nothing but animal passion.
About this period occurred one of those abortive attempts which the Italians occasionally make to regain their liberty ; attempts so ill planned and feebly carried out, that they only serve to rivet their chains the tighter. In fact, since Italy became a nation of artists, it has ceased to be a nation of freemen; and such will be the case with all countries ; when wealth and luxury lead to undue encouragement of the arts, the manly virtues, in every empire, have speedily died away. Very wrongly as well as imprudently, Lord Byron took not only an interest, but a part in this ill-concerted rising. However strong his sympathies may be with what he considers a suffering people, a man allowed to live in a foreign country can never be justified in interfering in its revolutions. Byron managed to keep out of the hands of the Austrians, but when, as Madame Guiccioli said, “the Italians had proved themselves only fit to compose operas,” his lady-love and her father and brother were forced to leave Ravenna. Byron was induced to follow them very unwillingly. Before quitting a place to which he had become attached, he sent for Shelley, who obeyed the voice of friendship. They then went together, and resided near each other at Genoa. Here he was joined, I believe on invitation, by Leigh Hunt and his family, to whom he had been introduced by Moore, when Hunt was suffering under royal persecution. This was an association that could not lead to good. Hunt had made himself a name by his talents, and was, perhaps justly, vain of it. Byron had very far superior talents, and was, at the same time, nobly born and aristocratically bred—the habits, the prejudices, the very abilities of the two men clashed when they came in contact, and neither of them gained honour by the association. Byron disappointed the hopes of a man struggling with an adverse world, and Hunt, by the publication of a book on the subject, proved himself ungrateful for what benefits he had received. In conjunction with Hunt's brother, John, they started a periodical, called the “ Liberal ;” but it came to nothing. Byron was not the man to work in partnership with anybody.
While residing here, the melancholy death of Shelley took place, a circumstance as worldly-wide known as the genius of the man. Much as I admire his writings, I have not space to comment upon them or him : a few garbled remarks would be unworthy of the subject.
I have not judged it necessary to mention Lord Byron's works regularly as they came out, because the very naming of them must lead to a notice of their merits, and that would fill a volume, whereas my task is bounded to a few pages. But if we look at the list of his writings and contemplate their bulk, and then reflect that they were all written in eighteen years, between eighteen and thirty-six, we are almost as much astonished at their number as their brilliancy. I am led to make this remark by the prodigality with which he seems to have poured out one great production after another, while resident in Italy. Neither dissipation, love, conspiracy, friendships nor enmities, seem to have checked the stream, but rather to have increased its abundance.
He had sold Newstead, and the death of Lady Noel added considerably to his income, which was now ample. I will not venture upon any discussion of her ladyship’s conduct in the unfortunate separation ; but, if we considor Byron's writings on the occasion, and bis frequent coarse verbal and written allusions to the mother of his wife and that lady's resentment, which carried her so far as to leave instructions in her will, that Lord Byron's daughter was not to be allowed to see her father's portrait for many years—we are brought to the conviction that there was more petty spite than dignified anger on both sides.
But now a fresh and a concluding change came over his dream of a life. Deeply imbued with a love of classic literature, admiring Greece as a country which he had traversed with the eye and feelings of a poet, he forgot, in his enthusiasm, that there was not a man in Greece able to write a line of that which had created his love, or one inspired by the smallest spark of that worship of liberty which had created an Epaminondas or led to the selfsacrifice of a Leonidas, and he plunged headlong into a visionary scheme for the rescuing of Greece from the hands of the Turk. His residence in Greece, and his poetry connected with it, had rendered him familiar to the Greeks; their hopes magnified the extent of his wealth, and they hailed the promise of his coming among them as an omen of certain success. The Greek committee for promoting the insurrection, established in London, too, forgetting it was a very different thing to make a poetical Corsair attack upon the Pasha Seyd, and to restore liberty to a country that had been enslaved four hundred years, appointed him to a high command, which no circumstance of his antecedent life could have led them to think he was qualified for. A Washington would not have bestowed attention upon the splendid helmets with the Byron crest, or have wasted his time in pistol-practice ; he would have known that his own personal achievements could be of but little importance in a great national revolution. Beyond furnishing money, and making his sojourn with one or another of the various parties into which this émeute was divided a subject of constant quarrel and intrigue, I cannot see any effects produced by Byron's going into Greece. Of all the plots the world has produced, and some of them have been extraordinary in their ill-construction, this was one of the worst digested, and most confusedly carried out. That bane of all man's great projects, self-interest, prevailed even more strongly than it usually does in such cases; and, from his supposed inexhaustible wealth, Lord Byron was the bone all contended for.
What may have been his ambitious anticipations in going to Greece no one can say, though most may divine ; but he soon found that his calculations were wrong; the people he had to deal with were quite untractable, and he said in bitterness, " I was a fool to come here ;" they only wanted his money. As, however, he had embarked in the cause, he knew he was too conspicuous in the eyes of that world which it had been his object to defy, to retreat without disgrace, and he was about to command an attack upon Lepauto, when he was overtaken by disease and death. The