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beauty of the expression of his fea- his nose. No men are more given to tures, the magnificent height of his ring the changes upon gratification of forehead, or the singularity of his all the sensual kinds than the English, dress, could ever pass him in the street especially the English on the contiwithout feeling that he was passing no nent,—the English, who in speech are common person. Lord Byron has the most modest people of the unibeen frequently recollected when his verse, and who, if you might trust portraits have been shown-Ah! (the their shy and reserved manner, think spectator has exclaimed, on either of nothing but decorum. Lord Byron picture or engraving being seen,) I met did no more in this respect than althat person in such or such a place, at most every other Lord or Esquire of such or such a time.
degree has done, and is doing, if he His lameness, a slight mal-formation dare, at this moment, whether in Lonof the foot, did not in the least impede don, Paris, Naples, Vienna, or elsehis activity ; it may perhaps account where, with this difference-Lord Byin some measure for his passion for ron was a man of strong powers of riding, sailing, and swimming. He intellect and active imagination ; he nearly divided his time between these drew conclusions and took lessons three exercises : he rode from four to from what he saw. Lord Byron too eight hours every day when he was was a man capable of intense passion, not engaged in boating or swimming which every one who pursues
gra: And in these exercises, so careful was tification of his appetite is not; consehe of his hands (one of these little quently he went to work with a headvanities which sometimes beset men) long, reckless spirit, probably derived that he wore gloves even in swin- exquisite enjoyment, quickly exhaustming.
ed himself, and was then left stranded He indulged in another practice in satiety. which is not considered in England There was scarcely a passion which genteel, that is to say, it is not just he had not tried, even that of avarice. now a fashion with the upper classes Before he left Italy he alarmed all his in this country-he chewed tobacco to friends by becoming penurious-ab
solutely miserly, after the fashion of At times, too, he was excessively the Elwes and other great misers on given to drinking ; but this is not so record. The pleasures of avarice are
In his passage from Ge- dwelt on with evident satisfaction in noa to Cephalonia, he spent the prin- one of the late cantos of Don Juancipal part of the time in drinking with pleasures which were no fictions of the Captain of the vessel. He could the poet's brain, but which he had bear an immense quantity of liquor enjoyed and was revelling in at that without intoxication, and was by no moment; of course he indulged to exmeans particular either in the nature cess, grew tired, and turned to someor in the order of the fluids he imbib- thing else. ed. He was by no means a drinker The passion which last animated constantly, or, in other words, a him was that which is said to be the drunkard, and could indeed be as ab- last infirmity of noble minds—ambistemious as any body; but when his tion. There can be little doubt that passion blew that way he drank, as he he had grown weary of being known did every thing else, to excess. only as a writer; he determined to
This was indeed the spirit of his distinguish himself by action. Many life-a round of passion, indulgence, other motives, however, went to make and satiety.
He had tried, as most up the bundle which took him to the men do who have the power, every succour of the Greeks. Italy was species of gratification, however sen- waning in favour, he was beginning to sual. Let no rich young man here grow weary of the society of the lady, who is not living under the surveil- to whom, after the manners of Italy lance of his relations or in the fear of he had been attached, and unfortuthe public, let no such person turn up nately her passion outlived his : even
in Greece she would gladly have broadest and lowest description, like, joined him; but his Lordship had I cannot help saying again. like alchanged. Then, again, Greece was a most all his class-all of them that do land of adventure, bustle, struggle, not live in the fear of God, or of the sensation, and excitement, where the public. His grossness had the advaninhabitants have beautiful forms, and tage of a fertile fancy, and such subdress in romantic habits, and dwell in jects were the ready source of a petty the most picturesque country of the kind of excitement; the forbidden world ; and Lord Byron, as he said words, the forbidden topics, the conhimself, had “ an oriental twist in his cealed actions of our nature, and the imagination.” He knew that the secret vices of society, stimulated his Greeks looked up to him as, what he imagination, and stimulants he loved, really was, one of their greatest regen- and may be said at times to have erators; he was aware that his money wanted. He certainly did permit his and rank, would give him unlimited fancy to feed on this dunghill garpower, influence, and respect; all of bage; now and then, indeed, even which he dearly loved. Then again, here he scratched up a pearl, but so if any man ever sympathized deeply dirty a pearl, few would be at the with bravery suffering in a generous pains of washing it for all its price. cause, it was Lord Byron; and when
His letters are charming; he never he was roused, in moments of excite- wrote them with the idea of 6 The ment, this sympathy was a violently Letters of the Right Hon. Lord Bypropelling and a very virtuous motive. ron, in 6 vols. 12mo.” before his eyes,
, These and other secondary
as unfortunately our great men must siderations led him to Greece, to sa- now almost necessarily do. The pubcrifice much of his personal comforts, lic are so fond of this kind of reading, much of his property, his health, and and so justly too, that there is great his life.
reason to fear that it will consume No two men were ever more unlike what it feeds on. Few things are so than Lord Byron excited and Lord charming as to see a great man withByron in the ordinary state of calm. out all the paraphernalia of his greatHis friends about him used to call it in- ness, without his being armed cap-aspiration; and when men of their stamp pie for public contest, when every talk about inspiration, there must no point is guarded, and every motion common change take place. When studied: when a man of reputation preexcited, his sentiments were noble, his sents himself to the notice of the world, ideas grand or beautiful, his language he must pretend to know every thing, rich and enthusiastic, his views ele- or he will have credit for nothing-he vated, and all his feelings of that dis- must assume the air of infallibility, or interested and martyr-like cast which the meanest creature that can read marks the great mind. When in the will discover that he is full of error; usual dull mood in which almost eve- he must be supposed to have examinry body wearies their friends nine ed the subject in all its bearings, he hours out of the ten, his ideas were must have consulted every authority, gross, his language coarse, his senti- he must know what every body has ments not mean certainly, but of a said or thought previously on the matlow and sensual kind ; his mood ter, and he must anticipate what they sneering and satirical, unless in a very can possibly say or think in future, or good humour, which indeed, he often, he will be voted a shallow writer, I may say generally, was. This is, without information, who has produchowever, the wrong side of the picture ed a work of no value. Then as to in Lord Byron-he may be said here style, it must be the abstract of lanto be taken at the worst. Without guage-it must be impersonal-uninbeing what I have called excited, his dividual—and just such as a literary conversation was often very delightful, machine which had the power of though almost always polluted by grinding thoughts might be supposed grossness-grossness of the very to utter. In short, the writer is every moment afraid of either committing and in his writings dull, or totally deshimself or his friends; he is on his titute of all powers of production. He good behaviour; and natural free- was very good-natured ; and when dom, grace, and truth, are out of the asked to write a song, or a copy of question. The writer for the public verses in an album, or an inscription, is as much unlike the real man as the for so poets are plagued, he would traveller in a stage coach or as the generally attempt to comply, but he guest at a public ball or dinner is like seldom succeeded in doing any thing; the lively, careless, rattling, witty, and when he did, he generally gave good-natured, fanciful, pleasant crea- birth to such Grub-street doggerel as ture, at his or her fire-side, among old his friends were ashamed of, and, it is friends, who know too much of the to be hoped, charitably put into the whole life and character to be alarmed fire. When, on the contrary, in a at any little sally, and who are satisfied state of enthusiasm, he wrote with with such knowledge as their friend great facility, and corrected very litpossesses, without requiring that he ile. He used to boast of an indiffershould know every thing. Lord By- ence about his writings which he did ron's letters are the models of a spe- not feel, and would remark with pleacies of composition which should be sure that he never saw them in print, written without an eye to any models. and never met with any body that did His fancy kindled on paper ; he touch- not know more about them than himes no subject in a common every-day self. way; the reader smiles all through,
He left very little behind him. Of and loves the writer at the end; longs late he had been too much occupied for his society, and admires his happy with the Greeks to write, and, indeed, genius and his amiable disposition. had turned his attention very much to Lord Byron's letters are like what his action, as has been observed. Don conversation was- but better- he had Juan he certainly intended to continue; more undisturbed leisure to let his fan- and, I believe, that the real reason for cy ripen in; he could point his wit his holding so many conferences with with more security, and his irrita- Dr. Kennedy in Cephalonia was, that ble temper met with no opposition on he might master the slang of a relipaper.
gious sect, in order to hit off the chaLord Byron was not ill-tempered racter with more veri-similitude. nor quarrelsome, but still he was very His religious principles were by no difficult to live with ; he was capri- means fixed; habitually, like most of cious, full of humours, apt to be of- his class, he was an unbeliever ; at fended, and wilful. When Mr. Hob- times, however, he relapsed into Chrishouse and he travelled in Greece to- tianity, and, in his interviews with Dr. gether, they were generally a mile Kennedy, maintained the part of a asunder, and though some of his Unitarian. Like all men whose imafriends lived with him off and on a long ginations are much stronger than the time, (Trelawney, for instance,) it was reasoning power--the guiding and denot without serious trials of temper, termining faculty – he was in danger patience, and affection. He could of falling into fanaticism, and some of make a great point often about the his friends who knew him well used least and most trifling thing imagina- to predict that he would die a Methoble, and adhere to his purpose with a dist; a consummation by no means pertinacity truly remarkable, and al- impossible. most unaccountable. A love of victory From the same cause, the preponmight sometimes account for little dis- derance of the imagination, there putes and petty triumphs, otherwise might have been some ground for the inexplicable, and always unworthy of fear which beset his later moments his great genius; but, as I have said, that he should go mad. The immedihe was only a great genius now and ate cause of this fear was, the deep then, when excited; when not so, he impression which the fate of Swift had was sometimes little in his conduct, made upon him. He read the life of
Swift during the whole of his voyage tions relating to publicity, he was to Greece, and the melancholy termi- completely wrong. He saw nothing nation of the Dean's life haunted his but a few immediate effects, which apimagination.
peared to him pernicious or the conStrong, overruling, and irregular as trary, and he set himself against or in was Lord Byron's imagination--a rich behalf of the press accordingly. Lord vice which inspired him with his poe- Byron complaining of the licentioustry, and which is too surely but the ness of the press may sound rather sindisease of a great mind-strong as was gular, and yet such are necessarily the this imagination-sensitive and sus- inconsistencies of men who suffer ceptible as it was to all external influ- themselves to be guided by highence, yet Lord Byron's reasoning fa- sounding words and vague generaliculties were by no means of a low or- ties, and who expect to understand the der ; but they had never been culti- art of government and the important vated, and, without cultivation, whe- interests of society by instinct. In ther by spontaneous exertion, or un- spite, however, of Lord Byron, the der the guidance of discipline, to ex- press was established in Greece, and pect a man to be a good reasoner, maintained free and unshackled, by even on the common affairs of life, is one of the greatest benefactors that to expect a crop where the seed has country has as yet known from Engnot been sown, or where the weeds land, the Hon. Colonel Leicester have been suffered to choke the corn. Stanhope, who, by his activity, his Lord Byron was shrewd, formed fre- energy, courage, but, above all
, by his quently judicious conclusions, and, enlightened knowledge of the princithough he did not reason with any ac- ples of legislation and civilization, curacy or certainty, very often hit succeeded in carrying into effect all upon the right. He had occasional his measures, as agent of the Greek glimpses, and deep ones too, into the committee, and who, by spreading nature of the institutions of society useful information, and, above all, by and the foundations of morals, and, by the establishment of the press in all his experience of the passions of men, the principal points of reunion in speculated ably upon human life; yet Greece, has advanced that country in withal he was any-thing but logical civilization many years, how many we or scientific
dare not say. Before the establishUncertain and wavering, he never ment of the press, the Greeks were knew himself whether he was right or working out their regeneration in vawrong, and was always obliged to rious parts of Greece, but not as a write and feel for the moment on the whole--without unity of design, or supposition that his opinion was the unity of interest,-each centre was igtrue one. He used to declare that he norant of the operations of all the other had no fixed principles; which means centres, except by accidental commuthat he knew nothing scientifically: in nication; and communication, from the politics, for instance, he was a lover nature of the country and from the of liberty, from prejudice, habit, or circumstances in which it was placed, from some vague notion that it was was rare and hazardous. The press generous to be so; but in what liber- has greatly assisted to establish one ty really consists-how it operates for feeling throughout the country; not the advantages of mankind-how it is merely is information passed from one to be obtained, secured, regulated, he quarter to another by its means, but was as ignorant as a child.
an interchange of sentiments takes While he was in Greece, almost place, and a sympathy is created, adevery elementary question of govern- vice and encouragement reciprocated, ment was necessarily to be discussed ; enthusiasm kept alive, and useful prinsuch was the crisis of Greek affairs- ciples disseminated through the whole about all of which he showed himself commonwealth. Not only will the perfectly ignorant. In the case of the press thus accelerate the liberation of press, for instance, and in all ques- Greece, but will also, when that libera
tion is effected, prevent the separa- struggle of oppressed men for freedom tion and dissolution of the country in- are very different things; and Lord to petty kingdoms and governments, Byron felt a military ardour in Greece which was the bane of ancient Greece. which he was too wise a man ever to It is becoming to the body politic what have felt under other circumstances. the nerves are to the body physical, He was at ne time, in Greece, absoand will bind a set of disjected mem- lutely soldier-mad; he had a helmet bers into one corresponding and sensi- made, and other armour in which to tive frame. As a proof of Lord By- lead the Suliotes to the storming of Leron's uncertainty and unfixedness, he panto, and thought of nothing but of at one moment gave a very handsome guns and blunderbusses. It is very donation of (501.) to one paper, the natural to suppose that a man of an Greek Chronicle, the most indepen- enthusiastic turn, tired of every day dent of them all, and promised to assist enjoyments, in succouring the Greeks, in its compilation. His friend and would look to the bustle, the advensecretary, too, with his approbation, ture, the moving accidents by flood established a polyglot newspaper, the and field, as sources of great enjoyGreek Telegraph, with his counte- ment : but allowing for the romantic nance and support. The want of any character of guerilla warfare in Greece, fixed principles and opinions on these for the excessively unromantic nature of important subjects galled him exces- projects for establishing schools and sively, and he could never discuss printing-presses in safe places, where them without passion. About this the Turks never or very seldom reach; same press, schools, societies for mu- allowing for these, yet they were not tual instruction, and all other institu- the causes of his Lordship’s hostility to tions for the purpose of educating and these pcaceful but important instruadvancing the Greeks in civilization, ments in propagating happiness : he he would express himself with scorn was ignorant of the science of civilizaand disgust. He would put it on the tion, and he was jealous of those who ground that the present was not the both knew it and practised it, and contime for these things; that the Greeks sequently were doing more good than must conquer first, and then set about himself, and began to be more thought learning-an opinion which no one about too, in spite of bis Lordship's could seriously entertain who knew as money, which in Greece is certainly he well did the real situation of the very little short of being all-powerful. Greeks, who are only now and then The Greeks, it is true, had a kind of visited by the Turks, descending at veneration for Lord Byron, on account particular seasons in shoals, like her- of his having sung the praises of rings, and like them too to be netted, Greece; but the thing which caused knocked on the head and left to die in his arrival to make so great a sensaheaps till the whole country-side is tion there was the report that he was glutted with their carcases. The ap- immensely rich, and had brought à titude of the Greeks is as great as their ship full of sallars (as they call dollars) leisure; and if even the men were ac- to pay off all their arrears.
So that as tively engaged for the most part of soon at it was understood he had their time, which they are not, surely arrived, the Greek fleet was presently no exertion of benevolence could be at- set in motion to the port where he was tended with more advantage than in- stationed; was very soon in a state of structing the children at home. This, the most pressing distress, and nothing to be sure, is a quaker kind of war. could relieve it but a loan of four thoufare, and little likely to please a poet; sand pounds from his Lordship, which though it must be confessed, that in re- loan was eventually obtained (though spect to the pomp and circumstance of with a small difficulty), and then the war, and all the sad delusions of mili- Greek fleet sailed away, and left his tary glory, no man could have more Lordship’s person to be nearly taken sane notions than Lord Byron. Mer- by the Turks in crossing to Missoloncenary warfare and the life-and-death ghi, as another vessel which contained