« ForrigeFortsett »
cations of certain sweeping energies and irre- the Low Countries, was appointed governor of sistible passions; they are fragments of a poet's Chelsea, in 1642. He had two sons, who both dark dream of life. The very personages, vi- died without issue ; and his younger brother, Sir vidly as they are pictured, are yet felt to be John, became heir. This person was made a fictitious, and derive their chief power over us knight of the bath at the coronation of Jamies from their supposed connexion with the poet the first. He had eleven sons, most of whom himself, and, it may be, with each other. The distinguished themselves by their loyalty and law of his mind was to embody his peculiar gallantry on the side of Charles the first. Seven feelings under the forms of other men. lo all of these brothers were engaged at the batle of his heroes we recognise, though with infinite Marston-moor, and four fell in defence of the modifications, the same great characteristics : a royal cause. Sir John Byron, one of the survilofty-conception of the power of mind, --an vors, was appointed to several important comintense sensibility of passion,
,-an almost bound- mands, and on the 26th of October, 1643, was less capacity of tumultuous emotion,-a boast created Lord Byron, with a collateral remainder ing admiration of the grandeur of disordered to his brothers. On the decline of the king's power, and, above all, a soul-felt delight in affairs, he was appointed governor to the Duke of beauty.
York, and, while holding this office, died without These reflections naturally precede a sketch of issue, in France, in 1652 ; upon which his broLord Byron's literary and private life: they are ther Richard, a celebrated cavalier, became the in a manner forced upon us by his poetry, and by second Lord Byron. He was governor of Appleby the sentiments of weariness of existence and en- Castle, and distinguished himself at Newark. He mity with the world which it so frequently ex- died in 1697, aged seventy-four, and was succeeded presses.
by his eldest son William, who married Elizabeth, Lord Byron was descended from an illustrious the daughter of John Viscount Chaworth, of the line of ancestry. From the period of the Con- kingdom of Ireland, by whom he had five sons, quest, his family were not more distinguished for all of whom died young except William, whose their extensive manors in Lancashire and other eldest son, William, was born in 1722, and came parts of the kingdom, than for their prowess in to the title iu 1736. arms. John de Byron attended Edward the first William, Lord Byron, passed the early part of in several warlike expeditions. Two of the his life in the navy. In 1763 he was made masByrons fell at the battle of Cressy. Another ter of the stag-hounds; and in 1765 was sent to member of the family, Sir John de Byron, ren- the Tower, and tried before the House of Peers dered good service in Bosworth field, to the Earl for killing his relation and neighbour, Mr Chaof Richmoud, and contributed by his valour to worth, in a duel. — The following details of this transfer the crown from the head of Richard the fatal event are peculiarly interesting from subsethird to that of Henry the seventh. Sir John quent circumstances connected with the subject of was a man of honour, as well as a brave warrior. our sketch. He was very intimate with his neighbour Sir William Lord Byron belonged to a club of Gervase Clifton ; and, although Byron fought which Mr Chaworth was also a member. It under Henry, and Clifton under Richard, it did met at the Star and Garter tavern, l'all Mall, not diminish their friendship, though it put it to and was called the Nottinghamshire Club. On the a severe test. Previous to the battle, they had 29th January, 1765, they assembled, at four mutually promised that whichever should be van-o'clock, to dinner as usual, and every thing went quished, the other should endeavour to prevent the on agreeably, until about seven o'clock, when an forfeiture of his friend's estate. While Clifton was angry dispute arising betwixt Lord Byron and bravely fighting at the head of his troop, he was Mr Chaworth concerning the quantity of game struck off his horse : Byron perceiving the acci- on their estates, the latter gentleman paid his dent, quitted the ranks and ran to the relief of share of the bi!l, and retired. Lord Byron folhis friend, who died in his arms. Sir John de lowed him out of the room, and, stopping him Byron kept his word; he interceded with the on the landing of the stairs, called to the waiter king; and the estate, preserved to the Clifton to show them into an empty room. They were family, is now in the possession of a descendant shown into one, and a single candle placed on of Sir Gervase.
the table : in a few minutes the bell was rung, In the wars between Charles the first and the and Mr Chaworth found mortally wounded. He parliament, the Byrons adhered to the royal cause. said that Lord Byron and he entered the room Sir Nicholas Byron, the eldest brother and repre- together ; that his lordship, in walking forward, sentative of the family, was an eminent loyalist, said something relative to the former dispute, on who, having distinguished himself in the wars of which he proposed fastening ihe door ; that on
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 keenest remorse on hers, was 0 : on which, knowing his man, he instantly drew dissolved in two years by her sinking to the his 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 Huntley and the Princess Jane, daughand being the stronger man, disarmed his lord- ter of James II 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 lu 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 :judginent, 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, “Ah! you little dog, you are 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 toual 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 ' Cælebs in search of a wife. He rendered so tame as to crawl over him, and would have made a bad hero for Hannah 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. He 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 must pass other sex. 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 tuvate 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 Anson 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 1751, who received an excellent education, 22d of January, 1788. On the flight of his and held a commission in the guards, was so father, the entire care of his infant 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, on somest 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 twenty-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;» --a whom she lived in the greatest happiness until the conduct not at all pleasing to his adventurous spirit, commencement of this unfortunate connexion. the more especially as such of his companions, After a fruitless attempt at reclaiming his lady, the as witnessed these affectionate scenes, were wont inarquis obtained a divorce; and a marriage was to laugh at and ridicule him about them. Her brought about between her and her seducer, which, excessive maternal indulgence, and the absence of that salutary 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 juvenile 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, naturally 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. Upon this the aggressor expand his lungs, and brace his limbs, upon the dared him to fight, and, although the former neighbouring 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 his 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. around him; the feeling that he was upon hills A school-fellow of Byron's had a very small where
Shetland pony, which his father had bought for
him: they went one day to the banks of the Don Foreign tyrant never trod, But Freedom, with her faulchion bricht,
to bathe, but, having only the pony, they were Swept the 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 sapernatural fictions peculiar to remote and thinly-peo
Brig 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. But when he had overtaken the rest of prayers in the public school at eight o'clock in the class, he always relaxed his exertions, and, the morning; after prayers, a censor 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 himself 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 had 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 lond and involuntary shout, which had such an his mind enabled him to overcome the impedi- effect on his sensiti re mind that he burst into ments which pature 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 his 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 a 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 ; Foriune was to whip me yesterday he had forgotten it. “You are mistaken, I thiuk,' 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 bas ceased to do. 1 Pudding Morgan, or Lord Jocelyn, or one of the need not tbank her in either case, for I have Douglasses, or George Raynsford, or Pryce (with asked nothing at her hands »
whom I had two conflicts), or with Moses Moore On the 17th 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-uamed 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 noses, at various and sundry 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 Byrou, 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 Farl 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 couflagration. His lordship piqued 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. Lord 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 once lost all their Harrow. He was accordingly placed there under money at « chicken hazard,» in one of the hells the tuition of the Rev. Dr Drury, to whom he of St. James's, and the next morning Davies sens 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 hovour 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 bave 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 Chaamong 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 flattered by his attachment, treated our surprising that he should have been betrayed poet less as an ardent lover than as a younger into every sort of extravagance: none 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 nature.
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 picture, but her hand poet that ever wrote hard Latin for a game of was 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 he 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 hiin ashore. On losing this dog, in the united in marriage ; but Miss C., as young ladies autumn of 1808, he caused a inonument to be generally do in such circumstances, differed from erected, with an inscription commemorative of I bám, and was resolved to please berself 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 1970, 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 Claughton for the being somehow more persuasive than the « child sum of 140,000l., and on that gentleman's not
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 not 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 Trinity College, Cambridge: there, however, he Gothic architecture. The late Lord Byron repairdid not mend his inanners, 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 ke did the a 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 himn 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
starlings. The internal traces of this Goth were Among other means which he adopted to show swept away; but without, all appeared as rude bis contein pt for academical honours, he kept a and unreciaimed as he could have left it. With Foung bear in his rooni 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 slight
est trace of culture or improvement. The late When Lord Byron bade adieu to the university, lord, a stern and desperate character, who is never he took up his residence at Newstead Abbey, mentioned by the neighbouring peasants without where his pursuits were principally those of a significant shake of the head, might have reamusement. Among others he was extremely fond turned and recognized every thing about him,
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
of the water.