페이지 이미지

I have no doubt that my answers to these emissaries' interrogations were not very rational or consistent, for my imagination was heated by other things. But Dr. Bailey could not conscientiously make me out a certificate for Bedlam ; and perhaps the Lawyer gave a more favourable report to his employers. The Doctor said afterwards, he had been told that I always looked down when Lady Byron bent her eyes on me, and exhibited other symptoms equally infallible,' particularly those that marked the late King's case so strongly. I do not, however, tax Lady Byron with this transaction; probably she was not privy to it. She was the tool of others. Her mother always detested me; she had not even the decency to conceal it in her own house. Dining one day at Sir Ralph's, (who was a good sort of man, and of whom you may form some idea, when I tell you that a leg of mutton was always served at his table, that he might cut the same joke upon it,) I broke a tooth, and was in great pain, which I could not avoid showing. It will do you good,' said Lady Noel; 'I am glad of it! I gave her a look !

“You ask if Lady Byron were ever in love with me I have answered that question already-NQ!! was the fashion when she first came out : I had the character of being a great rake, and was a great dandy-both of which young ladies like. She raarried me from vanity and the hope of reforming and fixing me. She was a spoiled child, and naturallye of a jealous disposition ; and this was increased by khe infernal machinations of those in her confidence. $

“ She was easily made the dupe of the desig for she thought her knowledge of mankind infalli 5

she had got some foolish idea of Madame de Stael's into her head, that a person may be better known in the first hour than in ten years. She had the habit of drawing people's characters after she had seen them once or twice. She wrote pages on pages about my character, but it was as unlike as possible. * “ Lady Byron had good ideas, but could never express them ; wrote poetry too, but it was only good by accident. Her letters were always enigmatical, often unintelligible. She was governed by what she called fixed rules and principles, squared mathematically.* She would have made an excellent wrangler at Cambridge. It must be confessed, however, that she gave no proof of her boasted consistency. First, she refused me, then she accepted me, then she separated herself from me :-so much for consistency. I need not tell you of the obloquy and opprobium that were cast upon my name when our separation was made public. I once made a list from the Journals of the day, of the different worthies, ancient and modern, to whom I was compared. I remember a few : Nero, Apicius, Epicurus, Caligula, Heliogabalus, Henry the Eighth, and lastly the

- All my former friends, even my cousin, George Byron, who had been brought up with me, and whom I loved as a brother, took my wife's part. He followed the stream when it was strongest against me, and can never expect any thing from me: he shall never touch a sixpence of mine. I was looked upon as the worst of husbands, the most abandoned and wicked of men, and my wife as a suffering angel-an incar* " I think that Dante's more abstruse ecstatics “Meant to personify the mathematics."

Don Juan, Canto III. Stanza 11.

nation of all the virtues and perfections of the sex. I was abused in the public prints, made the common talk of private companies, hissed as I went to the House of Lords, insulted in the streets, afraid to go to the theatre, whence the unfortunate Mrs. Mardyn had been driven with insult. The Examiner was the only paper that dared say a word in my defence, and Lady Jersey the only person in the fashionable world that did not look upon me as a monster.

“I once addressed some lines to her that made her my friend ever after. The subject of them was suggested by her being excluded from a certain cabinet of the beauties of the day. I have the lines somewhere, and will show them to you.

“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 I never could have ventured to sell in my mother's life-time. As it is, I shall never forgive myself for having done so ; though I am told that the estate would not now bring 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. I had my wife's portion to repay, and was determined to add 10,0001. 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 mar

* The regard which he entertained for it is proved by the passage in Don Juan, Canto XIII. Stanza 55, beginning thus :

“ To Norman Abbey whirld the noble pair," &c.

riage, I left England, an involuntary exile, intending it should be for ever."*

Speaking of the multitude of strangers, whose visits of curiosity or impertinence, he was harassed by for some years after he came abroad, particularly at Venice, he said :

" Who would wish to make a show-bear of himself, and dance to any tune any fool likes to play? Madame de Stael said, I think of Goethe, that people who did not wish to be judged by what they said, did not deserve that the world should trouble itself about what they thought. She had herself a most unconscionable insatiability of talking and shining. If she had talked less, it would have given her time to have written more, and would have been better. For my part, it is indifferent to me what the world says or thinks of me. Let them know me in my books. My conversation is never brilliant.

“ Americans are the only people to whom I never refused to show myself. The Yankees are great friends of mine. I wish to be well thought of on the other side of the Atlantic; not that I am better appreciated there, than on this ; perhaps worse. Some American Reviewer has been persevering in his

* His feelings may be conceived by the two following pass sages:

“ I can't but say it is an awkward sight,
“ To see one's native land receding through
« The growing waters—it unman's one quite."

: Don Juan, Canto II. Stanza 12:
* Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again,
? With nought of hope left."

Childe Harold, Canto III. Stanza 16:

abuse and personality, but he should have minded his ledger; he never excited my spleen.* I was confirmed in my resolution of shutting my door against all the travelling English, by the impertinence of an anonymous scribbler, who said he might have known me, but would not.”

I interrupted him by telling him he need not have been so angry on that occasion,—that it was an authoress who had been guilty of that remark. "I don't wonder,” added I, " that a spinster should have avoided associating with so dangerous an acquaintance as you had the character of being at Venice.”

6 Well, I did not know that these Sketches of Italy' were the production of a woman; but whether it was a Mr., Mrs., or Miss, the remark was equally uncalled for. To be sure, the life I led at Venice was not the most saintlike in the world.”

“ Yes,” said I, “ if you were to be canonized, it must be as San Ciappelletto."

6 Not so bad as that either,” said he, somewhat seriously.

6 Venice," resumed he, “is a melancholy place to reside in :-to see a city die daily as she does, is a sad contemplation. I sought to distract my mind from a sense of her desolation, and my own solitude, by plunging into a vortex that was any thing but

*The taste and critical acumen of the American magazine, will appear from the following extract:

66 The verses (it is of the Prisoner of Chillón' that it speaks) are in the eight syllable measure, and occasionally display some pretty poetry; at all events, there is little in them to offend.

« We do not find any passage of sufficient beauty or originality to warrant extract.”

Am. Critical Review, 1817.

« 이전계속 »