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general good, the stalking-horse by which the publicare so often blinded, is the ostensible object,-private interest the real one; and thus reviews are frequently made the vehicle of all that is illiberaland ungenerous, merely to gratify private malice.
To return, however, to Lord Byron. So far from making any boast of this great and happy effort, which caused the northern stars to hide their diminished heads,» he afterwards suppressed it, and up to the time of his majority continued to prosecute his fancies alternately at Newstead and in the metropolis. At the former place he spent much of his time alone
« And bade his busy fancy range.”
At the expiration of his minority he resolved to improve his knowledge of the earth and mankind, by visiting foreign countries, and as the state of the middle and western parts of Europe prevented his conscientiously examining them, his thoughts were directed to the classic land of the east, to that Greece, the mother and nurse of those great spirits of antiquity, whose sacred forms still seem to haunt the olive groves of the Academus, or to linger by the classic streams of the Ilissus or the Cephissus; to that Greece which is now living' Greece again.
: « 'T is Greece, but living Greece no more.»—Byron.
He chose for his companion John Cam Hobhouse, Esquire, a gentleman distinguished for his love of liberty and literature, but more distinguished by the friendship of such a mind as Byron's. He embarked at Falmouth for Lisbon, and, after a short stay at the latter place, he proceeded by the southern provinces of Spain for the Mediterranean, where he landed first on the wild mountains of Albania, whose bold scenery and bolder inhabitants were every way calculated to make a deep and permanent impression on a spirit so deeply imbued with the love of freedom and poesy.
a I could pity the man,” said Sterne, « who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and say that all was barren.» Of that route I cannot speak from experience, but it cannot be denied that some of our modern tourists display no ordinary powers in casting a deadening and sombre hue over the fairest scenes in the world, and in rendering our journey with them, through regions embellished with the sweetest charms of poesy, and ennobled with the proudest events in history, a heavy and fatiguing pilgrimage. But the beauties of nature, and the stimulus of travel were not lost
soul stituted as Byron's; and, to borrow the words of an elegant writer, «he returned to England better furnished in all the substantial fruits of travelling, than perhaps
returned to the shores of the same or any other country.»
It was in the year 1811 his lordship returned to his native land, and within the space of twelve months after, the first and second cantos of «Childe Harold's Pilgrimage » made their appearance-a poem
which at once established his fame as the first poet of the age, and ensured the attention of the public to every subsequent production from the same master-hand. In the course of 1813, Lord Byron published three other poems, full of the essence and soul of poetry, and of which, as well as of the whole of his works, we shall presently offer some detailed remarks.
On the 2d of January, 1815, Lord Byron led to the altar Miss Anne Isabella Milbanke, only child of Sir Ralph Milbanke (since Noel), Baronet, of the county
of Durham. This union, so suitable in rank, fortune, and the superior mental endowments of the respective parties, was unfortunately severed after the birth of a daughter. The cause of this separation is still, as far as regards the public, enveloped in doubt and mystery, and I should consider it a sort of sacrilege to make a preface to the works of the regretted bard a vehicle for the scandalous, and since disproved, stories' to his prejudice; though I may hereafter offer some general, remarks on the subject. Yet, alas! on whichever side the fatal cause that produced such bitter fruit might be surmised, all retrospection is now unavailing.
' The scandal-loving part of the public was for a long time sated
.The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
Wails manhood in glory!
Waft the leaves that are searest,
When blighting was nearest!
Like, the dew on the mountain,
Like the foam on the river-
He is gone, and for ever!»
Yes! that being of such glorious capabilities; he who threw his keen and terribly scrutinizing glances over the Creator's most majestic works, and held a communion with nature, to which scarcely another creature
with such a garbage;" and, consequently, by the great mass of the envious, ignorant, and unthinking, Byron was for a while looked upon as a sort of demon :-he was indeed a demon, for
He ruled, like a wizard, the world of the heart,
has been admitted; who bent his giant energy to endow us with a knowledge of our real selves ; whose searching keenness of satire penetrated into the terra incognita of self-love; whose versatility of talent and unrestricted vigour on every topic intimated universal power,—that brightest ornament of England's poetical literature, and finest genius of the age,
« He is gone, and for ever!»
A great deal, and a great deal too much, has been published on the private affairs of Lord Byron, because almost all before the public on that subject amounts to little more than the base speculations of lucre, of those who live upon athe lie' of the day,» or who, influenced by envy, hatred, or malice, and every species of uncharitableness, are glad to dip their grey-goose quills in gall to propagate every evil report against that master
· The perfect indifference with which his lordship regarded the lie of the day, as it respected himself, may be gathered from what he is stated to have said to Captain Medwin, as given by that gentleman in his « Conversations of Lord Byron.» «When an eminent bookseller of Paris was about to publish a new edition of my works, he applied to Moore to furnish him with some anecdotes of me; and it was suggested that we should get up a series of the most unaccountable and improbable adventures, to gull the Parisian and travelling world with : but I thought afterwards that he had quite enough of the fabulous at command without our inventing any thing new, which indeed would have required ingenuity.”