Page images
PDF
[ocr errors]

BYRON'S WORKS.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

FARE THEE TOLL. *

"Alas I they hare been friends in youth;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain:
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain;

» • * • •

But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining—
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder.
Shall wholly do awav, I ween.
The marks of that wnich once hath been."

Coleridge'* Christabcl.

Fa Tie thee well! and if for ever,

Still for ever, fare thee well:
Even though unforgiving, never

'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

Would that breast were bared before thee
Where thy head so oft hath lain,

While that placid sleep came o'er thee
Which thou ne'er canst know again:

Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show!

Then thou wouldst at last discover
'T was not well to spurn it so.

Though the world for this commend thee —

Though it smile upon the blow,
Even its praises must offend thee,

Founded on another's woe:

Though my many faults defaced me,

Could no other arm be found,
Than the one which once embraced me,

To inflict a cureless wound?

1 [The Hebrew Melodies, though obviously inferior to Lord Byron's other works, display a skill in versification and a mastery in diction, which would have raised an inferior artist to the very summit of distinction. — Jeffrey.]

2 [It was about the middle of April that his two celebrated copies of verses, "Faro thee well," and "A Sketch," made their appearance in the newspapers; and while the latter poem was generally, and, it must be owned, justly condemned, as a sort of literary assault on an obscure female, whose situation ought to have placed her as much beneath his satire, as the undignified mode of his attack certainly raised her above it, with regard to the other poem, opinions were a good deal more divided. To many it appeareti a strain of true conjugal tenderness, — a kind of appeal which no woman with a heart could resist; while, by others, on the contrary, It was considered to be a mere showy effusion of sentiment, as difficult for real feeling to have produced as it was easy for faacy and

, art, and altogether unworthy of the deep interests Involved in

Yet, oh yet, thyself deceive not;

Love may sink by slow decay,
But by sudden wrench, believe not

Hearts can thus be torn away:

Still thine own its life retaineth—

Still must mine, though bleeding, beat;

And the undying thought which paint th
Is — that we no more may meet.

These are words of deeper sorrow

Than the wail above the dead;
Both shall live, but every morrow

Wake us from a widow'd bed.

And when thou would solace gather,
When our child's first accents flow.

Wilt thou teach her to say " Father!"
Though his care she must forego?

When her little hands shall press thee,

When her lip to thine is press'd,
Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee.

Think of him thy love had bless'd!

Should her lineaments resemble
Those thou never more may'st see,

Then thy heart will softly tremble
With a pulse yet true to me.

All my faults perchance thou kuowest,
All my madness none can know;

All my hopes, where'er thou goest.
Wither, yet with thee they go.

Every feeling hath been shaken;

Pride, which not a world could bow,
Bows to thee — by thee forsaken,

Even my soul forsakes me now:

the subject. To this latter opinion I confess ray own to hare, at first, strongly inclined ; and suspicious as I could not betp thinking the sentiment that could, at such a moment, indulge In such verses, the taste that prompted or sanctioned their publication appeared to me even still more questionable. Ob reading, however, his own account of all the drrumstanrrs hi the Memoranda, 1 found that on both points I bad, tn common with a large portion of the public, done him injmice. He there described, and in a manner whose sinceritr there was no doubting, the swell of tender recollections under the influence of which, as he sat one night musing in bU study, these stanzas were produced, — the tears, as he said, faUtasr fast over the paper as he wrote them. Neither did It appear, from that account, to have been from any wish or intention of his own, but through the injudicious leal of a friend whom he had suffered to take a copy, that the verse* met the pur-bc eye. — Moore. The appearance of the MS. confirms thss account of the circumstances under which It was written. It is blotted all over with the marks of tears ]

But 'tii done—all words are idle —

Words from me are vainer still, But the thoughts we cannot bridle

Force their way without the will.

Fare thee well!—thus disunited,

Torn from every nearer tic,
Sear'd in heart, and lone, and blighted,

More than this I scarce can die.

March 17,1815.

A SKETCH. >

"Honest — honest Iago!
If that thou be'it a devil, I cannot kill thee."

Shakspeare.

Boas In the garret, in the kitchen bred,
Promoted thence to deck her mistress' head;
Next—for some gracious service unexpress'd,
And torn its wages only to be guess'd—
Raised from the toilette to the table, — where
Her wondering betters wait behind her chair.
With eye unmoved, and forehead unabash'd,

I She dines from off the plate she lately wash'd.
Quick with the tale, and ready with the lie —
Tor genial confidante, and general spy—

1 Who could, ye gods I her next employment guess —
An only infant's earliest governess!
She taught the child to read, and taught so well,
That she herself, by teaching, learn'd to spell.
An adept next in penmanship she grows,
As many a nameless slander deftly shows:
What she had made the pupil of her art,
Xone know—but that high Soul secured the ■heart,
And panted for the truth it could not hear,
With longing breast and undeluded ear.
Futt'd was perversion by that youthful mind,
Which Flattery fool'd not — Baseness could not blind,

J Deceit Infect not—near Contagion soil—
indulgence weaken — nor Example spoil—
Xor master'd Science tempt her to look down

| On humbler talents with a pitying frown—

! Xor Genius swell—nor Beauty render vain—
Xor Envy ruffle to retaliate pain —
Xor Fortune change—Pride raise—nor Passion bow,
Xor Virtue teach austerity — till now.

| Serenely purest of her sex that live,
But wanting one sweet weakness — to forgive,

] Too shock'd at faults her soul can never know,
She deems that all could be like her below:

1 Foe to all vice, yet hardly Virtue's friend. For Virtue pardons those she would amend.

j Bn*. to the theme:—now laid aside too long,
The baleful burthen of this honest song —
Though all her former functions are no more,
She rules the circle which she served before.

I If mothers — none know why — before her quake;
If daughters dread her for the mothers' sake;
If early habits—those false links, which bind
At times the loftiest to the meanest mind—

1 1 f" I send Tou my but night's dream, and request to have tftv antes struck off, for private distribution. I wish Mr. CiaVd u, look at them. They are from life." — Lord .Byron \ ss Mr. Hurray. March 30, 1816.]

* f la irvt draught — " weltering." — " I doubt about • wel■ We say • weltering in blood;' but do not they also

Have given her power too deeply to instil

The angry essence of her deadly will;

If like a snake she steal within your walk.

Till the black slime betray her as she crawls j

If like a viper to the heart she wind,

And leave the venom there she did not find;

What marvel that this hag of hatred works

Eternal evil latent as she lurks,

To make a Pandemonium where she dwells,

And reign the Hecate of domestic hells?

Skill'd by a touch to deepen scandal's tints

With all the kind mendacity of hints, [smiles—

While mingling truth with falsehood—sneers with

A thread of candour with a web of wiles;

A plain blunt show of briefly-spoken seeming,

To hide her bloodless heart's soul-harden'd scheming;

A lip of lies—a face form'd to conceal;

And, without feeling, mock at all who feel:

With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown;

A cheek of parchment—and an eye of stone.

Mark, how the channels of her yellow blood

Ooze to her skin, and stagnate there to mud,

Cased like the centipede in saffron mail,

Or darker greenness of the scorpion's scale—

(For drawn from reptiles only may we trace

Congenial colours in that soul or face) —

Look on her features! and behold her mind

As in a mirror of itself defined:

Look on the picture 1 deem it not o'ercharged —

There is no trait which might not be enlarged:

Yet true to " Nature's journeymen," who made

This monster when their mistress left off trade —

This female dog-star of her little sky,

Where all beneath her influence droop or die.

Oh! wretch without a tear—without a thought.
Save joy above the ruin thou hast wrought—
The time shall come, nor long remote, when thou
Shalt feel far more than thou infiictest now;
Feel for thy vile self-loving self in vain.
And turn thee howling in unpitied pain.
May the strong curse of crush'd affections light
Back on thy bosom with reflected blight I
And make thee in thy leprosy of mind
As loathsome to thyself as to mankind!
Till all thy self-thoughts curdle into hate,
Black—as thy will for others would create:
Till thy hard heart be calcined into dust,
And thy soul welter in its hideous crust.
Oh, may thy grave be sleepless as the bed.
The widow'd couch of Are, that thou hast spread!
Then, when thou fain wouldst weary Heaven with
prayer,

Look on thine earthly victims—and despair!
Down to the dust! — and, as thou rott'st away,
Even worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay.
But for the love I bore, and still must bear,
To her thy malice from all ties would tear—
Thy name—thy human name—to every eye
The climax of all scorn should hang on high,
Exalted o'er thy less abhorr'd compeers—
And festering* in the infamy of years.

March 29. 1816.

use 1 weltering In the wind,' 'weltering on a gibbet?' I have no dictionary, so look. In the mean time, f have put 1 festering;' which, perhaps, in any case Is the best word of the two. Shakspeare has it often, and I do not think It too strong for the figure in this thing. Quick ! quick I quick I quick!' — Lord Byron to Mr. Murray. April 2.] Hh 3

STANZAS TO AUGUSTA. I When all around grew drear and dark,

And reason half withheld her ray — And hope but shed a dying spark

Which more misled my lonely way;

In that deep midnight of the mind,

And that internal strife of heart. When dreading to be deem'd too kiud,

The weak despair—the cold depart;

When fortune changed—and love fled far.
And hatred's shafts flew thick and fast,

Thou wert the solitary star

Which rose and set not to the last.

Oh 1 blest be thine unbroken light!

That watch'd me as a seraph's eye, And stood between me and the night,

For ever shining sweetly nigh.

And when the cloud upon us came,
Which strove to blacken o'er thy ray—

Then purer spread its gentle flame,
And dash'd the darkness all away.

Still may thy spirit dwell on mine,
And teach it what to brave or brook—

There's more in one soft word of thine
Than in the world's defied rebuke.

Thou stood'st, as stands a lovely tree,
That still unbroke, though gently bent,

Still waves with fond fidelity
Its boughs above a monument.

The winds might rend — the skies might pour,
But there thou wert—and still wouldst be

Devoted in the stormiest hour

To shed thy weeping leaves o'er me.

But thou and thine shall know no blight,

Whatever fate on me may fall; For heaven in sunshine will requite

The kind—and thee the most of all.

Then let the ties of baffled love
Be broken — thine will never break;

Thy heart can feel—but will not move;
Thy soul, though soft, will never shake.

And these, when all was lost beside,

Were found and still are flx'd in thee; —

And bearing still a breast so tried,
Earth is no desert—ev'n to me.

STANZAS TO AUGUSTA * Though the day of my destiny's over, And the star of my fate hath declined, s

< [The Poet'i sister, the Honourable Mrs. Leigh. — These stanzas—the parting tribute to her, whose unshaken tenderness had been the author's sole consolation during the crisis or domestic misery — were, we believe, the last verses written by Lord Byron in England. In a note to Mr. Rogers, dated April 16th, he says. — " My sister is now with me, and leaves town to-morrow: we shall not meet again for some time at all events,— if ever! and, under these circumstances, 1 trust to stand excused to you and Mr. Sheridan, for being unable to wait upon him this evening." On the 25th, the Poet took a last leave of his native country.]

* [These beautiful verses, so expressive of the writer's wounded feelings at the moment, were written in July, at the Campagne Diodatt, near Geneva, and transmitted to England for publication, with some other pieces. "Be careful, he

Thy soft heart refused to discover
The faults which so many could find;

Though thy soul with my grief was acqi
It shrunk not to share it with me,

And the love which my spirit hath painted
It never hath found but in thee.

Then when nature around me is smiling,

The last smile which answers to mine, I do not believe It beguiling,

Because it reminds me of thine; And when winds are at war with the

As the breasts I believed in with rr If their billows excite an emotion,

It is that they bear mc from thee.

Though the rock of my last hope is shiver'd.

And its fragments are sunk in the wave. Though I feel that my soul is deliver'd

To pain—it shall not be its slave. There is many a pang to pursue me:

They may crush, but they shall not contemn — They may torture, but shall not subdue me —

'Tis of thee that I think—not of them.'

Though human, thou didst not deceive me,

Though woman, thou didst not forsake. Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me,

Though slandcr'd, thou never couldst shake. Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me.

Though parted, it was not to fly,
Though watchful, 'twas not to defame mc.

Nor, mute, that the world might belie.»

Yet I blame not the world, nor despise it.

Nor the war of the many with one; If mj soul was not fitted to prize it,

'T was folly not sooner to shun: And if dearly that error hath cost me,

And more than I once could foresee, I have found that, whatever it lost me,

It could not deprive me of thee.

From the wreck of the past, which hath perish'd.

Thus much I at least may recall,
It hath taught me that what I most cherish d

Deserved to be dearest of all:
In the desert a fountain is springing,

In the wide waste there still is a tree,
And a bird in the solitude singing,

Which speaks to my spirit of thee.

July U. ISIS.

EPISTLE TO AUGUSTA.*
Mr sister ! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine;
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:

says, " in printing the stanzas
my destiny's,' &c, which I think well of as ac

3 [" Though the days of my glory are over.

And the sun of my fame hath declined." — MS.j

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Go where I will, to me thou art the same —
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny, —
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.

The first were nothing — had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him onr grandsire's1 fate of yore, —
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.

If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils, overlook'd or unforeseen,
I have sustain'd my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine ; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.

Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward,
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marr'd
The gift,—a fate, or will, that walk'd astray;
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.

Kingdoms and empires in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have roll'd
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something—I know not what—does still uphold
A spirit of slight patience ;—not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.

Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
"Within me,—or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,—
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.

I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood ; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I sec
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.

tent home at the time for publication, in case Mrs. Leigh should sanction it. "There is," he says, " amongst the manuscripts an Epistle to my Sister, on which I should wish her opinion to be consulted before publication ; if she objects, of course omit it." On the 5th of October lie writes, — "My sister has decided on the omission of the lines. Upon this point, ber option will be followed. As 1 have no copv ,f them, I request that you will preserve one for me in MS."; for I never can remember a line of that nor any other composition of mine. God help me! if I proceed in this scribbling, I shall have frittered away my mind before I am thirty ; but poetry is at times a real relief to me. To-morrow 1 am for Italy." The Epistle was first given to the world in 1830.]

'[Admiral Byron was remarkable for never making a voyage without a tempest. He was known to the sailors by the facetious name of " Foul-weather Jack."

Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation ;— to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.

Oh that thou wert but with me ! — but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret;
There may be others which I less may show j —
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feci an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my altcr'd eye.

I did remind thee of our own dear Lake, -
By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make,
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
Resign'd for ever, or divided far.

The world is all before me ; I but ask
Of Nature that with which she will comply —
It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky.
To see her gentle nice without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister—till I look again on thee.

I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not; — for at length I sec
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
The earliest—even the only paths for me —
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept;
7 bad not suffer'd, and thou hadst not wept

With false Ambition what had I to do?
Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make — a name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over—I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.

And for the future, this world's future may
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outlived myself by many a day;
Having survived so many things that were;

11 But, though it were tempest-toss'd. Still his bark could not be lost." He returned safely from the wreck of the Wager (in Anson's voyage), and circumnavigated the world, many years after, as commander of a similar expedition.]

3 The Lake of Newstead Abbey. [Thus described in Don Juan: —

"Before the mansion lay a lucid lake,

Broad as transparent, deep, and freshly fed

By a river, which its soften d way did take
In currents through the calmer water spread

Around: the wild fowl nestled In the I rake
And sedges, brooding in their liquid bed;

The woods sloped downwards to its brink, and stood

With their green faces fix'd upon the Hood." ]

My years have been no slumber, but the prey Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share Of life which might have fill'd a century, Before its fourth in time had pass'd me by.

And for the remnant which may be to come I am content; and for the past I feel Not thankless,—for within the crowded sum Of struggles, happiness at times would steal, And for the present, I would not benumb My feelings further. —Nor shall I conceal That with all this I stOl can look around, And worship Nature with a thought profound.

For thee, my own sweet sister, In thy heart I know myself secure, as thou in mine; We were and are—I am, even as thou art— Beings who ne'er each other can resign; It is the same, together or apart, From life's commencement to its slow decline We are entwined — let death come slow or fast, The tie which bound the first endures the last!

LINES

ON HEARING THAT LADT BYRON WAS ILL. 1

And thou wert sad—yet I was not with thee;

And thou wert sick, and yet I was not near; Methought that joy and health alone could be

Where I was not—and pain and sorrow here! And is it thus ? —it is as I foretold,

And shall be more so; for the mind recoils Upon itself, and the wreck'd heart lies cold.

While heaviness collects the shatter'd spoils. It is not in the storm nor in the strife

We feel benumb'd, and wish to be no more,

But in the after-silence on the shore, When all Is lost, except a little life.

I am too well avenged !—but 'twas my right;

Whate'er my sins might be, thou wert not sent
To be the Nemesis who should requite—

Nor did Heaven choose so near an instrument.
Mercy is for the merciful! — if thou
Hast been of such, 't Till be accorded now.

1 [These verses were written Immediately after the failure of the negotiation for a reconciliation before Lord Byron left Switzerland for Italy, but were not intended for the public

S'e: aa, however, they have recently found their way into rculation, we include them in this collection.] 4 [" Lord Byron had at least this much to say for himself, that he was not tho first to make his domestic differences a topic of public discussion. On the contrary, he saw himself, ere any fact but the one undisguised and tangible one was, or could be known, held up everywhere, and by every art of malice, as the most Infamous of men, — because he had parted from his wife. He was exquisftively sensitive: he was wounded at once by a thousand arrows; and ail this with the most perfect and indignant knowledge, that of all who were assailing bim not one knew anything of the real merits of the case. Did he right, then,in publishing those squibs and tirades? No, certainly: it would have been nobler, better, wiser far, to have utterly scorned the assaults of such enemies, and taken no notice, of any kind, of them. But, because this young, hot-blooded, proud, patrician poet did not, amidst the exacerbation of feelings which he could not control, act in precisely the most dignified and wisest of all possible manners of action, ■— are we entitled, is the world at large entitled, to issue a broad sentence of vituperative condemnation? Do we know all that he had suffered ? — hare ice Imagination enough to comprehend what he suffered, under circumstances such as these i — have we been tried In similar circumstances, whether we could feel the wound unflinchingly, and keep the weapon quiescent in the hand that trembled with all the excitements of insulted privacy, honour, and faith? Let people consider for a moment what It is that they demand when they insist upon a poet of Byron's class

Thy nights are banish'd from the realms of sleep !—
Yes I they may flatter thee, but thou shalt feel
A hollow agony which will not heal,

For thou art pillbw'd on a curse too deep;

Thou hast sown in my sorrow, and must reap
The bitter harvest in a woe as real!

I have had many foes, but none like thee;
For 'gainst the rest myself I could defend.
And be avenged, or turn them into friend;

But thou in safe implacability

Hadst nought to dread — in thy own weakness shielded,

And in my love, which hath but too much yielded.

And spared, for thy sake, some I should not spare; And thus upon the world— trust in thy truth, And the wild fame of my ungovem'd youth—

On things that were not, and on things that areEven upon such a basis hast thou built A monument, whose cement hath been guilt 1

The moral Clytemnestra of thy lord,

And hew'd down, with an unsuspected sword. Fame, peace, and hope—and all the better life

Which, but for this cold treason of thy heart. Might still have risen from out the grave of strife,

And found a nobler duty than to part. But of thy virtues didst thou make a vice.

Trafficking with them in a purpose cold.

For present anger, and for future gold—
And buying other's grief at any price.
And thus once enter'd into crooked ways,
The early truth, which was thy proper praise,
Did not still walk beside thee—but at times
And with a breast unknowing its own crimes,
Deceit, averments Incompatible,
Equivocations, and the thoughts which dwell

In Janus-spirits—the significant eye
Which learns to lie with silence—the pretext
Of prudence, with advantages annex'd —
The acquiescence in all things which tend,
No matter how, to the desired end —

All found a place in thy philosophy.
The means were worthy, and the end is won —
I would not do by thee as thou hast done! <

September, IsiC

abstaining altogether from expressing In his works anytfcltt of his own feelings In regard to anything; tbax immediately concerns his own history. We tell him in every possible ton and shape, that the great and distinguishing merit of his

foetry is the Intense truth with which that poetry expresses is own personal feelings. We encourage Dim in every Risible way to dissect his own heart for our entertainment — we tempt him by every bribe most likely to act powerfullv (■o a young and imaginative man, to plunge into the dartest depths of self-knowledge; to madden his brain with eternal self-scrutinies, to find his pride and his pleasure la what others shrink from as torture — we tempt him to indulge u these dangerous exercises, until they obviously acquire the

Eower of leading him to the very Drink of frensy — we tempt tm to find, and to see In this perilous vocation, the of his existence, the food of his ambition, the very essence of his glory, — and the moment that, by habits of our on creating, at least of our own encouraging and confirming. b< n carried one single step beyond what we happen to approv t we turn round with all the bitterness of spleen, and rrpro* a him with the unmanlincss of. entertaining the public with :j> feelings in regard to his separation from his wile. This nt truly the conduct of a fair and liberal public I To our rttm of the matter. Lord Byron, treated as he had been, tetnptffl as he had been, and tortured and insulted as he was it the moment, did no more forfeit his character by writing: »t.«: he did write upon that unhappy occasion, than another rnj-.. under circumstances of the same nature, would have dooe, by telling something of his mind about It to an uuimitr friend across the fire. The public had forced hint into the habits of familiarity, and they received his confidence wa» nothing but anger and scorn. — Lockhabt.j

« PreviousContinue »