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The bitterness, the sarcasm with which he speaks of the worldthe contempt and aversion with which he mentions “the sex” too frequently ought to be considered not as the deliberate sentiments of his calm mind, but as the false colour with which, in the writhings of anguish, he seeks to invest the paradise from which he is exiled,—to persuade himself, even more than the world, that his abandonment has been an act of deliberate choice. I can only compare the state of his mind for some time after the separation to what, were the body in question, we should term hysterical-a convulsive laugh, only assumed to prevent tears, and frequently mingling both together. Hence I should say arises that close mingling of the absurd and the sublime which so frequently annoys the reader, even of his greatest works. No passage, perhaps, in any poem, is more full of deep pathos than “the Shipwreck ;" yet, even it is disfigured by the occasional tone of levity.
“They mourned for those who perished in the cutter,
And also for the biscuit-casks and butter." On the other hand, the prevailing deep melancholy of his own mind breaks out in the lightest and gayest passages, and produces some of the most deeply affecting pictures of the desolation of the heart. Do you remember the first canto of Don Juan, where, after satirizing every thing and person within his reach, he breaks out with
“No more, no more! oh, never more on me,
The freshness of the heart can fall like dew,
Extracts emotions beautiful and new,
Think'st thou the honey with those objects grew !
Canst thou be my sole world, my universe ?
Thou canst not be my blessing or my curse;
Insensible, I trust, but none the worse ;
Though Heaven knows how it ever found a lodgment!": "She had a fearful power,' I observed; I have often tried to picture to myself the woman whom Byron could select as a wife.'
*Ah! you would have been surprised indeed had you known her. She was rather pretty, and with some pretensions to Blue-ism, a poor substitute in woman for qualities in which she was utterly deficient,-mind, heart, and soul, *—possessing not one idea of her own; incapable of deviation from the precise line of opinions prescribed as orthodox in her own home ;--never abandoning herself to one generous impulse, or one glow of enthusiasm,-a mere thing of truisms—a being of conventionality. She married him because, although not in the zenith of his fame, he was a Lord, and a Lion-voila tout ! As a natural consequence, the wedded pair had no sentiment in common-no heartunion-and so, when his glowing imagination burst forth in poetic rapture, she called him “Fool" and thought him “mad. man!” Î'heir politics, too, were at variance; she thought it derogatory to her high estate to mingle with her inferiors. He, on the other hand, was, like all true poets, a philanthropist; his enlarged mind led him to consider the whole human race as his brethren, and to be courteous to the poorest and the meanest. All this, as Lady Byron could not understand, she despised, and had not sense to conceal her contempt.'
* We agree with the great father of English poetry, that
· Whoso will tellen a tale after a man,
and therefore Mr. Rushton's words are given here, as elsewhere in the text, without qualification or curtailment. But, in the spirit of candour and truthfulness, we think a note may fairly be devoted to saying that the words in question required perhaps some qualifying amplification, which either the glancing nature of railway chat, or the pardonable warmth of the Page's feelings, while reverting to a master whom he loved, might not very well admit of. Our mention of Sunderland will suggest to those who know any thing of the geography of the contagious countries' (as Mrs. Malaprop hath it), that we were in the close vicinity of the family seat whence poor Byron took his bride one ill-fated morning, and therefore likely to pick up stray crumbs of tradition as to the marriage and the lady, et tout cela. In truth, we have done so, and must admit that the general voice goes in favour of her being neither mindless nor soul-less, but that she was both very accomplished and, generally speaking, good and amiable. The feeling on the part of the surrounding peasantry is understood to have been favourable to a belief of her manners being kindly and popular. “My wife elect,' says Byron himself, 'is perfection. I hear of nothing but her merit and her wonders : she is the paragon of only children, invested with “golden opinions by all sorts of men,” and as full of “most blessed conditions” as Desdemona herself.' Ilere, however, we doubt not, the husband elect was just as far on the other side-the blessed conditions' and 'golden opinions' of this ‘paragon of only daughters' having, we suspect, been rather too much for her self-command. In plain language, she was a spoiled child as well as an only one--clever, and knowing it—very pretty, and ditto-amiable, when she had all her own way, and something the reverse when this was not the case, as sometimes happens, we hear, with the very luckiest of married ladies; she expected Lord Byron to be always as smiling and deferential and self-collected as the common-place droppers-in and hangers-on at Seaham Hall.
* And when it happened thus, no more was done;
He had not left one virtue! No, not one !! There are all manner of stories about his bathings, and wanderings, and swimmings, and pistol-practisings at Seaham, and especially how he told Lady B. in the carriage, on their return from church, that he had married her purely out of revenge, because she had once refused him ; with other choice matters, worth a sponge,'-as Milton says,-and all equally like a whale ! No wonder the marriage turned out such a miserable blank, when it was negotiated in such a lottery-like manner! Two ladies (as is well known) were proposed as fit and proper, while the poet and his friend discussed the matter prudentially over their wine : one was immediately addressed, and said No ;' the other, the pis-aller, was applied to, of course, and unluckily she thought proper to say ‘Yes: a little word, as the tongue is a little member—but sometimes it şlayeth !! The fact is, they were miserably unsuited to each other,-to say nothing of Miss Chaworth and debts and mortgages, and the Bride's Pa, Ma, the Governess, &c., &c. ,&c.
* I need scarcely ask if you blame him for the separation ?'
Oh, no! His passionate attachment to his child precluded that. He would, I am sure, have endured any thing rather than that parting. Doubtless, during his brief probation as a married man, his temper was greatly soured by the daily harass of embarrasments, with which his high spirit ill-fitted him to cope; but what tender, or even honourable wife, would consider that a cause for abandoning a husband. It was painful to witness the agony he endured when he thought of his separation from his daughter : his lip would quiver and his brow contract, like those of a person enduring excessive agony, while, in spite of his pride, tears would roll down his cheek. He could not bear to have such emotion witnessed, and would turn away almost fiercely. It was strange, yet true, that his wife was the only woman who appeared to have no regard for him ; no other could resist his facinating manners; but she could hear him spoken of in terms that any other wife would have resented as a deep insult-and so she was praised by his enemies!
· Calmly she heard each calumny that rose,
That all the world exclaimed “What magnanimity!' · He could not behave ill to any woman.'
'I have heard,' I remarked, 'that even his habits were very peculiar.'
' It was so, certainly. On a wet drizzling day, when every one else was luxuriating at the fire, he would be out all day; and, if it were particularly suitable for exercise, he would be either in his library or "ollicking” on the grass under a tree, in deep thought. Just before he joined the patriots of Greece I left him—a step which I have repented deeply ever since ;-1 never saw my noble master again. Poor fellow! he had been hardly used. Those who ought to have been his dearest friends were his worst enemies, and he had none to whom he could look for comfort. How heartbreaking are all his allusions to that great domestic trial! All others had been comparatively light, or had served to arrouse his powers; but he sank under it.
"All my feelings have been shaken;
Pride, which not a world could bow,
by thee forsaken ;
E'en my soul forsakes me now!" For a while it seemed as if, having nothing to hope-nothing more dreadful to fear, he had become perfectly reckless. But
VOL. I.NO. VIII.
not long did this mood last. He awoke to his better self-to active exertion, not only in his literary career—but as one possessing means and will to be a benefactor to his fellow-man. How liberally, even in his days of poverty, his purse was shared with the unfortunate, many can attest, how he devoted it, and all his energies also, to the welfare of his fellow-men. In the glorious struggle for the liberty of others he lived—for it, he died. It is most interesting to watch the gradual refining of his mind during the latter years of his life; how generously he acknowledged the errors into which his impetuosity had led him in earlier life; how, even to her who had caused him much misery, every word was kind and thoughtful, (to his mother he had ever been so) how careful he was of the welfare (temporal and eternal) of his children ;-how devoted and faithful to her whom he loved, illegally indeed; but, considering national customs, we can scarcely pronounce more than unhappily! Many tell us to walk in the paths of virtue ;-Byron did more-he gave those whom he advised the power of acting up toit.
• If we live to see his character viewed apart from prejudice and party, unsullied by cant and hypocrisy, we shall find that very many of his enemies' accusations consisted of mere random invective and proofless assertion. His faults were those of education and circumstance,-his great and noble qualities were all his own.
"He was a man, take him for all in all,
I was still reflecting on the conversation of my companion, when he interrupted me by bidding me “farewell;' a few minutes more found me at Sunderland, surrounded by loving faces and warm hearts.
· Well, dear M.,' exclaimed my charming young hostess,-in truth, a very paragon of only daughters,- how did you leave all
– ? "Oh, never mind the Deserted Village,' exclaimed another of the group, 'let us think only of “The Traveller”—and then perhaps to-morrow we may have some “Traveller's Tale." ;
But I am only curious to know if her usual good fortune has attended her, or if the new year has turned over a new leaf.'
No, indeed ! it has only turned back to an old page'. * An old page?'
* Even so—not, indeed, a page of poetry—but the Page of a Poet-videlicet Lord Byron's.' And so attentive, so much interested were my listeners while I was reciting my adventure, that I now beg to present it to the reader, hoping that he likewise may feel an interest in this
Page of Truth'
WOOLWICH ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY AND
THREE or four years ago, during a steam-trip to Dublin, we fell in with two young engineer officers as fellow-passengers. They were proceeding to join the staff' of the Irish Trigonometrical Survey ; and, being frank, chatty, and somewhat intelligent, we enjoyed their society. The buoyant spirit of young men, who have just arrived at the conviction that manhood is at last come in earnest, and the playful exuberance of jolly independence of the governor,' which these two specimens of the young soldier displayed, were amusing in the extreme; and their freedom, altogether removed from insolence or offensiveness, interested us much, as well as their anecdotes of and allusions to past days—the days of their cadetship at Woolwich and Chatham.
Our early destiny was the army; and in preparation for it we had been sent to that most horrible of all horrible places for boys with the slightest inclination to study and act as become gentlemen—Sandhurst College. We are happy, however, to say we were withdrawn, and the day on which we took our departure from that Pandemonium is still amongst the happiest of the few happy ones that remain engraven on the heart. With several of the gentlemen-cadets of that time, who have since risen above the unpromising mediocrity which at the best seemed then to be their destiny, we have the pleasure of acquaintance; and with a few of intimate friendship. The army was not the profession of our own choice; yet to a certain extent we have felt an interest in all that relates to military matters, amongst the rest, to the progress of education, both in the ranks and in the commission-roll. It cannot, then, be at all surprising that we should have endeavoured to glean some particulars respecting Woolwich from our temporary acquaintances, the two Royal Engineers.'
They had just completed their professional course at Chatham, under General Pasley and Captain Harness,' which had occupied the twelve months immediately following the completion of their theoretical course at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. In reference to their duties, we alluded
* An Elementary Course of Mathematics, for the use of the Royal Military Academy and for Students in general. By Hunter hristie, M.A., Secretary of the Royal Society, and Professor of Mathematics in the Royal Military Academy. Vol. I., Arithmetic and Algebra. Published by the authority of the Master-General and the Board of Ordnance. Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1845. VOL. 1. —NO. IX.