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INTRODUCTION TO THE DREAM.
"THE Dream"-called in the first draught "The Destiny"-was composed at Diodati in July, 1816, and reflects the train of thought engendered by the recent quarrel with Lady Byron. The misery of his marriage led him to revert to his early passion for Miss Chaworth, whose union had proved no happier than his own, and, amid many tears, he traced their respective fates in verse which is the rarest combination of historical simplicity with poetic beauty. The attachment to Miss Chaworth began in his childhood, and reached its height in his sixteenth year, when he spent the summer holidays of 1803 at Nottingham, and was a constant guest at Annesley Hall. She was two years his senior at a period when the difference made her a woman, and left him a boy. He had nothing beyond his rank to compensate for the disadvantagehis genius was not so much as in the bud, his beauty undeveloped, his manners rough, and his temper ungovernable. The succeeding year he bade her farewell on the hill which is celebrated in "The Dream." "The next time I see you," he said, "I suppose you will be Mrs. Chaworth,"→ for her husband originally took her name, and she answered "I hope so." She naturally numbered Lord Byron's attachment among the fickle ebullitions of juvenile susceptibility, and would have treated it with coldness, even if her heart had not been already won. In 1805 she was united to Mr. Musters, a gentleman of a noble appearance, and of an ancient family. There was no sympathy between their characters, and his conduct to her was reported to be harsh and capricious. He never relished Lord Byron's allusions to her, and after the publication of "The Dream" he cut down the celebrated "diadem of trees" which grew on his estate. His beautiful and accomplished bride became the victim of her cares, and she sunk into lunacy. In 1832 she closed her tragic life by a mournful death. A party of Nottingham rioters sacked Colwick Hall, and she and her daughter took refuge in the shrubbery, where her constitution received a fatal shock from the combined effects of cold and terror. Lord Byron always kept the conviction that the lady of Annesley would have averted his destiny. In 1822 having called her in his Diary "my M. A. C.," he suddenly exclaims, "Alas! why do I say мY? Our union would have healed feuds in which blood had been shed by our fathers, it would have joined lands broad and rich, it would have joined
at least one heart, and two persons not ill-matched in years, and—and— and-what has been the result?" The consideration of his character leads us to think that the result would not have been widely different if he had prospered in his suit; and the romance that must always linger round the name of Miss Chaworth is probably none the less that it comes to us invested with the hues of imagination instead of the light of experience.
"Successful love may sate itself away;
The wretched are the faithful; 'tis their fate
As rapid rivers into ocean pour;
But ours is fathomless, and hath no shore."
So wrote the poet in the name of Tasso, with his own unrequited attachment for Miss Chaworth in his mind. That she was worthy of the lasting passion she raised, that he loved her with a deeper fervour than was ever excited by any future favourite, may be readily admitted; but had his love been successful it would have sated itself away, and the woman who could permanently have fixed his affections might have aspired to chain the winds.
OUR life is twofold: Sleep hath its own world,
And dreams in their development have breath,
They pass like spirits of the past,-they speak
They make us what we were not-what they will,
I saw two beings in the hues of youth