« ForrigeFortsett »
turning himself round from this act, he perceived after the most brutal conduct on his part, and the his lordship with his sword half drawn, or nearly greatest misery and kecuest remorse on hers, was so: on which, knowing his man, he instantly drew dissolved in two years by her sinking to the bis own, and made a thrust at him, which he grave, the victim of a broken heart. About three thought had wounded or killed him; that then, years subsequently, Captain Byron sought to perceiving his lordshipshorten his sword to return recruit his fortune by matrimony, and having the thrust, he thought to have parried it with his made a conquest of Miss Catherine Gordon, an left hand ; that he felt the sword enter his body aberdeenshire heiress (lineally descended from and go deep through his back; that he struggled, the Earl of Iluntley and the Princess Jane, daughand being the stronger man, disarned his lord- ter of James Il of Scotland), he united himself to ship, and expressed some concern, as under the her, ran through her property in a few years, apprehension of having mortally wounded him; and, leaving her and her only child, the subject that Lord Byron replied by saying something to of this memoir, fled to France to avoid his crethe like effect, adding at the same time, that he ditors, and died at Valenciennes, in 1791. hoped « he would now allow him to be as brave In Captain Medwin's « Conversations of Lord a man as any in the kingdom.»
Byron,» the following expressions are said to have For this offence he was unanimously convicted fallen from his lordship on the subject of his of manslaughter, but, on being brought up for unprincipled father :judgment, pleaded his privilege as a peer, and
« I lost my father when I was only six years was, in consequence, discharged. After this affair of age. My mother, when she was in a rage he was abandoned by his relations, and retired with me (and I gave her cause enough), used to to Newstead Abbey; where, while he lived in a say,
a Byron all state of exile from persons of his own rank, his over; you are as bad as your father! It was very unhappy temper found abundant exercise in con- different from Mrs Malaprop's saying, “Ah! good tinual war with his neighbours and tenants, and dear Mr Malaprop! I never loved him till he was sufficient punishment in their hatred. One of dead.' But, in fact, my father was, in his youth, his amusements was feeding crickets, which he any thing but a • Calebs in search of a wife.' Ile rendered so tame as to crawl over him, and would have made a bad hero for Hanvah More. used to whip them with a wisp of straw when He ran out three fortunes, and married or ran too familiar. In this forlorn condition he lin- away with three women; and once wanted a guigered out a long life, doing all in his power to
nea, that he wrote for: I have the note. ruin the paternal mansion for that other branch seemed born for his own ruin, and that of the of the family to which he was aware it
He began by seducing Lady Carmarat his death, all his own children having descended then, and spent for her four thousand pounds abefore him to the grave.
year; and, not content with one adventure of John, the next brother to William, and born this kind, afterwards eloped with Miss Gordon. in the year after him, that is in 1723, was of a This marriage was not destined to be a very forvery different disposition, but his career in life tupate one either, and I don't wonder at her was almost an unbroken series of misfortunes. differing from Sheridan's widow in the play; The hardships he endured while accompanying they certainly could not have claimed “the flitch.'» Commodore Auson in his expedition to the South George Byron Gordon (for so he was called on Seas are well known, from his own highly popu- account of the neglect his father's family had lar and affecting narrative. His only son, born shown to his mother ) was born at Dover, on the in 1951, who received an excellent education, 22d of January, 1588. On the Night of his and held a commission in the guards, was so tather, the entire care of his infaut years dedissipated that he was known by the name of volved upon his mother, who retired to Aberdeen, « mad Jack Byron. He was one of the hand where she lived in almost perfect seclusion, ou soinest men of his time; but his character was so the remains of her fortune. Her undivided afnotorious that his father was obliged to desert fection was naturally centred in her son : if he him, and his company was shunned by the better only went out for the purpose of walking she part of society. In his ewenty-seventh year he se would entreat him, with the tear glistening duced the Marchioness of Carmarthen, who had in her eye, to take care of himself, as she been but a few years married to a husband, with had nothing on earth but him to live for;». whom she lived in the greatest happiness until the conduct not at all pleasing to his adventurous spirit, commencement of this unfortunate convexion, the more especially as such of his companions, After a fruitless attempt at reclaiming his lady, the as witnessed these affectionate scenes, were wout marquis obtained a divorce; and a marriage was to laugh at and ridicule him about them. ller brought about between her and her seducer, which, excessive maternal indulgence, and the absence of
that salatary discipline and control so necessary to stitated his chief delight, and, to the superficial childhood, doubtless contributed to the formation observer, seemed his sole occupation. of the less pleasing features of Lord Byron's cha- He was exceedingly brave, and in the javenile racter. It must, however, be remembered in Mrs By- wars of the school, he generally gained the vicron's extenuation, not only that the circumstances tory. Upon one occasion, a boy pursued by anin which she had been left with her son were of a other took refuge in Mrs Byron's house: the very peculiar nature, but also that a slight mal- latter youth, who had been much abused by the formation of one of his feet, and great weakness former, proceeded to take vengeance on him on of constitution, paturally obtained for him in the the landing-place of the drawing-room stairs, heart of a mother a more than ordinary portion when George interposed in his defence, declaring of tenderness. For these latter reasons he was that nobody should be ill-used while under his not sent very early to school, but was allowed to roof and protection. C'pon this the aggressor expand his lungs, and brace his limbs, upon the dared him to fight, and, although the former Deighbouring mountains. This was evidently was by much the stronger of the two, the spirit
the most judicious method of imparting strength of young Byron was so determined, that after to bis bodily frame; and the sequel showed that the combat had lasted nearly two hours, it was it was not the worst for giving tone and vigour suspended only in consequence of their comto his mind. The savage grandeur of nature plete exhaustion. | arond him; the feeling that he was upon hills A school-fellow of Byron's had a very small where
Shetland pony, which bis father had bought for
him: they went one day to the banks of the Don Foreigo tyrant never trod, But Freedom, with her faulchion bright,
to bathe, but, having only the pony, they were Swept ebe stranger from her sight;
obliged to follow the good old practice called
in Scotland « ride and tie., When they came to his intercourse with a people whose chief amuse the bridge over that dark romantic stream, Byron ment consisted in the recital of heroic tales of bethought him of the prophecy which he has other times, feats of strength, and a display of quoted in Don Juan : independence, blended with the wild supernatural fictions peculiar to remote and thinly-peo
Brir of Balgounie, black's your wa';
Wi a wife's ae son and a mear's ae foal, pled districts, were admirably calculated to foster Doun ye shall fa. that poetical feeling innate in his character.
When George was seven years of age, his mo- He immediately stopped his companion, who was ther sent him to the grammar-school at Aber- riding, and asked him if he remembered the deen, where he remained till his removal to prophecy, saying, that as they were both only Harrow, with the exception of some intervals of sons, and as the pony might be « a mare's ae foal,absence, which were deemed requisite for the he would ride over first, because he had only a preservation of his health. His progress beyond mother to lament him, should the prophecy be that of the general run of his class-fellows was fulfilled by the falling of the bridge; wheras the never so remarkable as after those occasional in- other had both a father and a mother. tervals of recreation, when, in a few days he It is the custom of the grammar-school at Aberwould master exercises which, in the ordinary deen, that the boys of all the five classes of school routine, it had required weeks to accom- which it is composed should be assembled for plish. Bat when he had over taken the rest of prayers in the public school at eight o'clock in the class, be always relaxed his exertions, and, the morning; after prayers, a ceusor calls over contenting himself with being considered a to- the names, and those who are absent are punlerable scholar, never made any extraordinary ished. The first time that Lord Byron had come effort to place hinself at the head of the highest to school after his accession to his title, the rector form. It was only out of school that he aspired bad caused his name to be inserted in the censor's to be the leader of every thing; in all boyish book, Georgius Dominus de Byron, instead of games and amusements he would be first if pos- Georgius Byron Gordon as formerly. The boys, sible. For this he was eminently calculated; unaccustomed to this aristocratic sound, set up a quick, enterprising, and daring, the energy of loud and involuntary shout, which had such an his mind enabled him to overcome the impedi-effect on his sensitie mind that he burst into ments which nature had thrown in his way. Even tears, and would have fled from the school had at that early period (from eight to ten years of he not been restrained by the master. age), all his sports were of a manly character; The answer which Lord Byron made to a fellow fishing, shooting, swimming, managing a horse, scholar, who questioned him as to the cause of or steering and trimming the sails of a boat, con- the honorary addition of « Dominus de Byron
to his name, served at that time, when he was cricket on the common. He was not remarkable only ten years of age, to point out that he would |(nor was he ever) for his learning, but he was be a man who would speak and act for himself | always a clever, plain-spoken, and undaunted -- who, whatever might be his vices or bis virtues, boy. I have seen him fight by the hour like a would not condescend to receive them at second- Trojan, and stand up against the disadvantage hand. It took place the very day after he had of his lameness with all the spirit of an ancient been menaced with flogging round the school combatant. * Don't you remember your battle tor a fault which he had not committed. When with Pitt?' (a brewer's son), said I to him in a the question was put to him, he replied, “ It is letter (for I had witnessed it), but it seems that not my doing; Fortune was to whip me yesterday he had forgotten it. You are mistaken, I think,' for what another did, and she has this day made said he in reply; it must have been with Riceme a lord for what another has ceased to do. 1 Pudding Morgan, or Lord Jocelyn, or one of the need not thank her in either case, for I have Douglasses, or George Raynsford, or Pryce (with asked nothing at her hands. »
whom I had two contlicts), or with Moses Moore On the 19th of May, 1798, William, the fifth (the clod), or with somebody else, and not with Lord Byron, departed this life at Newstead. The Pitt; for with all the above-vamed and other
of this eccentric nobleman died when worthies of the fist had 1 an interchange of black George was five years old, and as the descent eyes and bloody poses, at various and suudry both of the titles and estates was to heirs-male, periods ; however it may have happened for all the latter, of course, succeeded his great-uncle. that.'» Upon this change of fortune Lord Byron, now
The annexed anecdotes are characteristic. ten years of age, was removed from the imme- The boys at Harrow had mutinied, and in diate care of his mother, and placed as a ward their wisdom resolved to set fire to the scene of under the guardianship of the Earl of Carlisle, all their ills and troubles the school-room. whose father had married Isabella, the sister of Byron, however, was against the motion, and the preceding Lord Byron. In one or two points by pointing out to the young rebels the names of of character this great-aunt resembled the bard: their fathers on the walls, he prevented the inshe also wrote beautiful poetry, and after adorn- tended contlagration. His lordshippiqued himself ing the gay and fashionable world for many not a little upon this early specimen of his power years, she left it without any apparent cause and over the passions of his school-fellows. with perfect indifference, and in a great measure Byron long retained a friendship for several secluded herself from society.
of his Harrow school-comrades. Lorid Clare was The young nobleman's guardian decided that one of his constant correspondents; and Scroope he should receive the usual education given to Davies was also one of his chief companions beEngland's titled sons, and that he should in the fore his lordship went to the continent. The first instance be sent to the public school at latter gentleman and Byron ouce lost all their Harrow. He was accordingly placed there under money at « chicken hazarı,» in one of the hells the tuition of the Rev. Dr Drury, to whom he of St. James's, and the next morning Davies sent has testified his gratitude in a note to the fourth for Byron's pistols to shoot himself with. Byron canto of Childe Harold, in a manner which does sent a note refusing to give them, on the ground equal honour to the tutor and the pupil. A that they would be forfeited as a deodand, and change of scene and circumstances so rapid, this comic excuse had the desired effect. would have been hazardous to any boy, but Byron, whilst living at Newstead during the it was doubly so to one of Byron's ardent mind Harrow vacation, saw and became enamoured of and previous habits. Taken at once from the Miss Chaworth, the Mary of his poetry, and the society of boys in ordinary life, and placed maiden of his beautiful « Dream.» Miss Cha. among youths of his own newly-acquired rank, worth was older than his lordship by a few years, with means of gratification which to him must was light and volatile, and though, no doubt, have appeared considerable, it is by no means highly Hattered by his attachment, treated our surprising that he should have been betrayed poet less as an ardent lover than as a you er into every sort of extravagance: vone of them brother. She was punctual to their assignations, appear, however, to have been of a very culpable which took place at a gate dividing the grounds
of the Byrons from the Chaworths, and received Though he was lame, » says one of his school. all his letters; but her answers, it is said, were fellows, « he was a great lover of sports, and written with more of the caution of coquetry preferred hockey to Horace, relinquished even than the romance of a love's young dream.» She, Helicon for 'duck-puddle,' and gave up the best however, gave him her piciure, but her hand poet that ever wrote hard Latin for a game of wits reserved for another
: It was somewhat remarkable that Lord Byron foundland dog, to try whose sagacity and fidelity
and Miss Chaworth should both have been under be used to let himself fall out of the boat, as if | the guardianship of Mr White. This gentleman by accident, when the dog would seize him, and
particularly wished that his wards should be drag him ashore. On losing this dog, in the | anited in marriage ; bat Miss C., as young ladies autumn of 1808, he caused a mnopument to be generally do in such circumstances, differed from erected, with an inscription commemorative of hins, and was resolved to please herself in the its attachment. (See page 532.) choice of a husband. The celebrated Mr M., com- The following descriptions of Newstead will be monly known by the name of Jack M., was at found interesting: this time quite the rage, and Miss C. was not • This abbey was founded in the year 1170, by subtle enough to conceal the penchant she had Henry II, as a priory of Black Canons, and dedi. for him: it was in vain that Mr W. took her cated to the Virgin Mary. It continued in the from one watering-place to another; still the family of the Byrons until the time of our lorer, like an evil spirit, followed; and at last, poet, who sold it first to Mr Clanghton for the being somehow more persuasive than the child sum of 140,000l., and on that gentleman's not of song," he carried off the lady, to the great grief being able to fulfil the agreement, and paying of Lord Byron. The marriage, however, was 20,000l, of a forfeit, it was afterwards sold to pot a happy one, the parties soon separated; another person, and most of the money vested in and Mrs M. afterwards proposed an interview trustees for the jointure of the Hon. Mrs Byron. with her former lover, which, by the advice of The greater part of the edifice still remains. The his sister, he declined.
present possessor, Major Wildman, is, with geFrom Harrow Lord Byron was removed to nuine taste, repairing this beautiful specimen of Trioity College, Cambridge: there, however, he Gothic architecture. The late Lord Byron repairdid not mend his manners, nor hold the sages of ed a considerable part of it; but, forgetting the antiquity in higher esteem than when under the roof, he turned his attention to the inside, and command of his reverend tutor at Harrow. He the consequence was that, in a few years, the was above studying the poets, and held the rules rain penetrating to the apartments, soon destroyof the Stagyrite in as little esteem as in after life ed all those elegant devices which his lordship he did the - invariable principles of the Rev. contrived. Lord Byron's own study was a neat Mr Bowles. Reading after the fashion of the stu- little apartment, decorated with some good classic dious men of Cam was to him a bore, and he busts, a select collection of books, an antique held a senior wrangler in the greatest contempt. cross, a sword in a gilt case, and, at the end of Persons of real genius are seldom candidates for the room, two finely polished skulls on a pair of college prizes, and Byron left them to those plod- light fancy stands. In the garden, likewise, ding characters who, perhaps, deserve them, as there was a great number of these skulls, taken the guerdon of the unceasing labour necessary to from the burial-ground of the abbey, and piled overcome the all but invincible dulness of their up together; but they were afterwards recomintellects. Instead of reading what tutors pleased, mitted to the earth. A writer, who visited it Byron read what pleased himself, and wrote soon after Lord Byron had sold it, says: « In one what could not fail to displease those connected corner of the servant's hall lay a stone coffin, in with the university. He did not admire their which were fencing-gloves and foils, and on the system of education, and they, as is the case with walls of the ample but cheerless kitchen was most scholars, could admire no other. He took to painted in large letters, “Waste not-- want not., quizzing them, and, as no one likes to be laughed During the minority of Lord Byron, the abbey at, doctors frowned, fellows fumed, and Byron was in the possession of Lord G---, his hounds, at the
age of nineteen left college without a de- and divers colonies of jackdaws, swallows, and gree.
starlings. The internal traces of this Goth were Among other means which he adopted to show swept away; but without, all appeared as rude his contempt for academical honours, he kept a and anreciaimed as he could have left it. With young bear in his room for some time, which he the exception of the dog's tomb, a conspicuous told all his friends was in training for a fellow- and elegant object, I do not recollect the slightship!
est trace of culture or improvement. The late When Lord Byron bade adieu to the university, Jord, a stern and desperate character, who is never he took up his residence at Newstead Abbey, meutioned by the neighbouring peasants without where his pursuits were principally those of a significant shake of the head, might have reamusemeat. Among others he was extremely fond turned and recognized every thing about him, of the water. In his aquatic exercises he had except, perhaps, an additional crop of weeds. seldom any other companion than a large New- There still slept that old pond, into which he is
said to have hurled his lady in one of his fits of the place, I looked in vain for some indication fury, whence she was rescued by the gardener, a of the Abbey. Nothing is seen but a thick courageous blade, who was his lord's master, and plantation of young larch and firs, bordering the chastised him for his barbarity. There still, at road, until you arrive at the Hul, a small publicthe end of the garden, in a grove of oak, two house by the way-side. Nearly opposite to this towering satyrs, he with his goat and club, and, is a plain white gate, without lodges, opening Mrs Satyr with her chubby cloven-footed brat, into the park; before stands a fine, spreading oak, placed on pedestals at the intersections of the one of the few remaining trees of Sherwood fonarrow and gloomy pathways, struck for a mo- rest, the famous haunt of Tobin Hood and his ment with their grim visages, and silent shaxcy associates, which once covered all this part of forms, the fear into your bosom which is felt by the county, and whose centre was about the dothe neighbouring peasantry at' th'oud laird's main of Newstead. To this oak, the only one of devils. I have frequently askerl the country any size on the estate, Byron was very partial. It people near Newstead, what sort of a man his is pretty well known that his great-uncle (to whom lordship (our Lord Byron) was. The impression he succeeded) cut down almost all the valuable of his eccentric but energetic character was evi- timber, so that when Byron came into possession dent in the reply, · He's the devil of a fellow of the estate, and indeed the whole time he had for comical fancies. Ile flogs th’oud laird to no- it, it presented a very bare and desolate appearthing; but he's a hearty good tellow for all ance. The soil is very poor, and fit only for that.'»
the growth of larch and firs; and of these upWalpole, who had visited Newstead, gives, in wards of „00 acres have been planted. Byron his usual bilter, sarcastic manner, the following could not afford the first outlay which was neaccount of it:
cessary in order ultimately to increase its worth, « As I returned i saw Newstead and Althorp; so that, as long as he held it, the rental did not I like both. The former is the very abbey. The exceed 1,300l. a-year. From the gate to the Abgreat east window of the church remains, and bey is a mile. The carriage-road runs straight connects with the house; the ball entire, the for about 300 yards through the plantations, when refectory entire, the cloister untouched, with the it takes a sudden turn to the right; and on reancient cistern of the convent, and their arms turning to the left, a beautiful and extensive view on it: it has a private chapel quite perfect. The over the valley and distant hills is opened, with park, which is still charming, has not been so the turrets of the Abbey rising anong the dark much unprofaned. The present lord has lost trees beneath. To the right of the Abbey is large sums, and paid part in old oaks, five thou- perceived a tower on a hill, in the midst of a sand powds worth of which have been cut near grove of firs. From this part the road winds the house. En revanche, he has built two baby gently to the left, till it reaches the Abbey, which forts, to pay his country in castles for damage is approached on the north side : it lies in a val. done to the navy, and planted a handful of Scotch ley, very low, sheltered to the north and west firs, thai look like plougliboys dressed in old fa- by rising ground, and to the south enjoying a mily liveries for a public day. In the ball is a five prospect over an undulating vale. A more very good collection of pictures, all animals. The secluded spot could hardly have been chosen for refectory, now the great drawing-room, is full of the pious purposes to which it was devoted. Byrons : the vaulted roof remaining, but the win- the north and east is a garden walled in : and to dows have new dresses making for them by a Ve- the west the upper lake. On the west side the netian tailor.
mansion is without any enclosure or garden-drive, The following detailed description of Byron's and can therefore be approached by any person paternal abode is extracted from « A Visit to passing through the park. In this open space Newstead Abbey, in 1828,» in the London Lite-is the ancient fountain or cistern of the convent, rary Gazette:
covered with grotesque carvings, and having wa« It was on the noon of a cold, bleak day in ter still running into a basin. The old church February, that I set out to visit the memorable window, which, in an architectural point of view, Abbey of Newstead, once the property and abode is most deserving of observation, is nearly entire, of the immortal Byron. The gloomy state of tbe and adjoins the north-west corner of the Abbey. weather, and the dreary aspect of the surround- Through the iron gate which opens into the garing country, produced impressions more appro- den under the arch, is seen the dog's tomb : it is priate to the view of such a spot than the cheerful on the north side, upon a raised ground, and surseason and scenery of summer. The estate lies, rounded by steps. The verses inscribed on one on the left hand side of the high north road, eight side of the pedestal are well known; but the lines miles beyond Nottingham; but, as I approached preceding them are not so—they run thus :