Byron eBook

John Nichol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about Byron.

and Coleridge, a baby,—­

  To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear.

The lines ridiculing the encounter between Jeffrey and Moore, are a fair specimen of the accuracy with which the author had caught the ring of Pope’s antithesis:—­

  The surly Tolbooth scarcely kept her place. 
  The Tolbooth felt—­for marble sometimes can,
  On such occasions, feel as much as man—­
  The Tolbooth felt defrauded of her charms,
  If Jeffrey died, except within her arms.

Meanwhile Byron had again retired to Newstead, where he invited some choice spirits to hold a few weeks of farewell revel.  Matthews, one of these, gives an account of the place, and the time they spent there—­entering the mansion between a bear and a wolf, amid a salvo of pistol-shots; sitting up to all hours, talking politics, philosophy, poetry; hearing stories of the dead lords, and the ghost of the Black Brother; drinking their wine out of the skull cup which the owner had made out of the cranium of some old monk dug up in the garden; breakfasting at two, then reading, fencing, riding, cricketing, sailing on the lake, and playing with the bear or teasing the wolf.  The party broke up without having made themselves responsible for any of the orgies of which Childe Harold raves, and which Dallas in good earnest accepts as veracious, when the poet and his friend Hobhouse started for Falmouth, on their way “outre mer.”



There is no romance of Munchausen or Dumas more marvellous than the adventures attributed to Lord Byron abroad.  Attached to his first expedition are a series of narratives, by professing eye-witnesses, of his intrigues, encounters, acts of diablerie and of munificence, in particular of his roaming about the isles of Greece and taking possession of one of them, which have all the same relation to reality as the Arabian Nights to the actual reign of Haroun Al Raschid.[1]

    [Footnote 1:  Those who wish to read them are referred to the three
    large volumes—­published in 1825, by Mr. Iley, Portman Street—­of
    anonymous authorship.]

Byron had far more than an average share of the emigre spirit, the counterpoise in the English race of their otherwise arrogant isolation.  He held with Wilhelm Meister—­

  To give space for wandering is it,
  That the earth was made so wide.

and wrote to his mother from Athens:  “I am so convinced of the advantages of looking at mankind, instead of reading about them, and the bitter effects of staying at home with all the narrow prejudices of an islander, that I think there should be a law amongst us to send our young men abroad for a term, among the few allies our wars have left us.”

On June 11th, having borrowed money at heavy interest, and stored his mind with information about Persia and India, the contemplated but unattained goal of his travels, he left London, accompanied by his friend Hobhouse, Fletcher his valet, Joe Murray his old butler, and Robert Rushton the son of one of his tenants, supposed to be represented by the Page in Childe Harold.  The two latter, the one on account of his age, the other from his health breaking down, he sent back to England from Gibraltar.

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Byron from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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