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confided to him for publication by Lord Byron. We are now informed that the omitted fragments consisted chiefly of satirical portraits of living persons, and it must, therefore, be at once admitted that in consigning them to the flames, Mr. Moore exercised a sound as well as an honourable discretion. If we may be allowed to judge from the journals before us, we should strongly suspect that the manuscript contained also some unreserved confessions of the errors of the noble author, during the early part of his short and passionate career. If so, it cannot be doubted that, in pronouncing a similar sentence of condemnation upon such passages, Mr. Moore has evinced that good sense and right feeling, which we have often bad occasion to admire in his own celebrated productions.
With every respect for that gentleinan, it becomes our duty, however, to observe that it is, to say the least of it, doubtful, whether he has not, even yet, used the pruning knife rather too sparingly with regard to the original materials which were subjected to his revision. Let any person who reads this volume, ask himself, on perusing the last of its pages, whether it is a work which, so far as it goes, tends to exalt the character of Lord Byron. For ourselves, we must avow that we have risen from it with impressions unfavourable to the memory of that ill-fated nobleman, such as we had never entertained before. We had, of course, with the million, read and heard of statements and rumours affecting his moral reputation. But looking to the quarters whence they chiefly came, we were but little disposed to form a fixed opinion on the subject; and that opinion, feeble and wavering as it was, had almost faded away through the mere influence of time. The living fame of the bard was, by its steady brilliancy, gaining every day upon the transgressions of the man, and drawing more closely round them the curtains of oblivion. Thus the eccentricities and vices of Burns are already nearly forgotten by his contemporaries, and are very little known amongst the generations who are beginning to be acquainted with his poetry.
It is, perhaps, to be regretted that passages have been allowed to remain in this volume, which, sanctioned as they are by the authority of Mr. Moore, appear calculated only to immortalize a great portion of the scandal which has hitherto floated only upon the tongues of the malevolent. At the same time, we are ready to admit that the retention of matter of this description affords a signal proof of the independent and historical spirit which the Biographer has brought to the execution of his task.
In a literary point of view, the volume before us is perhaps the best specimen of memoir writing, which has been ever produced in our language. It has all the advantages of great variety, not only as to subject, but as to style. In the latter respect we may observe a striking difference between the composition of Lord Byron's letters and that of his journals. In the former, he does not hesitate
to take any expression that happens to occur to a highly excited fancy. He often uses phrases which are usually found only in the dictionary of the pugilists, or borrowed from the coteries of Harrow or Cambridge, of scarcely superior elegance. Sometimes he tries his hand at invention, and strikes out an expression not ill-suited to his purpose. In the journals his diction is more careless. In neither the letters nor the journals, do we observe any promise of that excellence, attributed by Mr. Moore to the epistles which are to compose the second volume. .
The narrative portion of the present work, which belongs to the Biographer, might easily be comprised in a small duodecimo. It is framed in a style almost the reverse of that which disfigured the “ Life of Sheridan.” It is distinguished by a total freedom from affectation and metaphor, and flows onward in its even course arrayed only in a charming simplicity. Several of the letters have been already published. But many are also now presented to the reader for the first time. In the journals also, as well as in Mr. Moore's narrative, there is a sufficiency of novelty to prevent the mind from being wearied with the persusal, although the whole volume occupies nearly seven hundred pages.
Those who are acquainted with Lord Byron only through the niedium of his poetry, will hardly believe, though there can be no doubt of the fact, that he was prouder of his ancestry than of his fame as an author. His pride was not unfounded, as there are few families in England which can shew a line of more ancient and more honourable descent than that to which he belonged. His immediate progenitors, however, appear to have been not very prudent in their financial affairs. His father, Captain Byron, was a mere spendthrift, as well as a most dissolute personage. He prevailed on Lady Carmarthen to elope with him to the continent, and married her after her former husband had obtained a divorce. The Honourable Augusta Byron, now the wife of Colonel Leigh, was the only issue of that union. Her mother having died in 1784, Captain Byron, in the following year, married an heiress,-Miss Catherine Gordon, of Gight, in Scotland, and in a very short time he contrived to dissipate almost the whole of her fortune. · A sojourn upon the continent was the consequence. Soon after their return to England, viz. 22d January, 1788, her only son was born in Holles-street, London. In reference to the accident of his having been an only child, Lord, Byron, in one of his journals, mentions the following curious coincidences: “I have been thinking,” he says, “ of an odd circumstance.. My daughter, my wife, my half-sister, my mother, my sister's mother, my natural daughter, and myself, are, or were, all only children. "My sister's mother (Lady Conyers) had only my halfsister by thať (her second) marriage (herself, too, an only child), and my father had only me, an only child, by his second marriage with my mother, an only child too, Such a complication of only
children, all tending to one family, is singular enough, and looks like fatality almost.”
The conduct of Captain Byron rendered a separation inevitable; young Byron, however, remained with his mother, and lived for several years at Aberdeen, under her care. It sufficiently appears that her example was not much calculated to improve his natural disposition, which, even at a very early age, was quite unmanageable. When reprimanded by his nurse, he sometimes rent his frock from top to bottom, in one of what he afterwards called his “ silent rages.” In this he only imitated his mother, who is represented to have frequently performed a similar operation upon her caps and gowns. Indeed the account given of this lady in every part of this work, and apparently upon the best authority, reminds us of the furies of ancient times. Under the tutelage of such a woman, we can scarcely wonder at the untameable sort of disposition which formed the principal element of evil in the character of Lord Byron. She did not even hesitate, in moments of irritation, to reproach him with the deformity of one of his feet, which was twisted out of its natural position at the time of his birth—an accident attributed by Lord Byron to a false sense of delicacy on the part of his mother.
Notwithstanding this rebelliousness of temper, there was from his earliest age a trait in young Byron's character which ran through it to the last, and which rendered him sometimes a very tractable, if not even an amiable person, in the hands of any body who knew how to win his good opinion, and had gained an influence over him. Such in his childhood was his nurse, Mary Gray; and we shall have occasion to remark, in the course of his life, that he was particularly attached to the system of “favouritism." It is a singular fact, that through the attentions of his nurse, who was a woman of great piety, he attained a far earlier and more intimate acquaintance with the sacred writings, than falls to the lot of most young people. It is perhaps more singular still, that at the most depraved period of his after-years, when, if not a theoretical, he was decidedly a practical atheist, and scorned the notion of any kind of religion, and of futurity,—he still retained all his early fondness for the Old Testament.
At the age of five years, young Byron was sent to a day school at Aberdeen, where the enormous sum of five shillings per quarter was paid for his education. He was subsequently transferred to an establishment of a higher order, where his chief ambition was to distinguish bimself as a good boxer. He next fretted at home under the care of a Scotch tutor, the learned son of a shoemaker, from whose superintendence he was recalled to England, in his tenth year, by the demise of his uncle, to whose title and possessions, such as these were, he then became entitled to succeed.
was blishment intself as Scotch ta teore
During young Byron's residence in Scotland, an attack of scarlet fever rendered it necessary for his mother to take him, for change of air, to the Highlands, to whose romantic scenery, he often reverts in his writings. It has been sometimes thought that this visit to the mountains and lakes of the north sowed the germ of poesy in his youthful mind. Mr. Moore combats this opinion, in a little digression, which is prettily written ; and in which his own experience enables him to shew, that such impressions of natural scenery as young Byron then received, might perhaps be justly considered as among the purest aliments of his genius, when it was subsequently awakened,—but not the sources of its inspiration. Such impressions received in childhood must be classed, he thinks, 'with the various other remembrances which that period leaves behind-of its innocence, its sports, its first hopes, and affections—all of them reminiscences which the poet afterwards converts to his use, but which no more make the poet, than-to apply an illustration of Byron's own—the honey can be said to make the bee that treasures it.'
It was, we suppose, in one of his mountain rambles, that our hero, at the early age of eight years, fell“ in love” with Mary Duff. This incident is dwelt upon with serious recollection in one of his jouruals, and in terms which leave little doubt that his affections were really engaged at that period. Mr. Moore reminds us, that Dante was but nine years old, when he saw and loved Beatrice; and that Canova well remembered having been in love, when but five years old. Alfieri, who is also said to have been a precocious, lover, looked upon such premature susceptibility to be an infallible sign of a soul framed for the fine arts. An instance of a similar description has fallen within our own observation ; in which all the pure effects of that passion were more apparent than in any affair of the heart which it has ever fallen to our lot to witness. The greater number of our readers will perhaps be inclined to laugh both at the instances mentioned by Mr. Moore, and at our testimony in favour of their probability; so we shall quit the land of romance, and attend young Byron on his first journey to Newstead, of which he and his mother went to take possession upon the death of his uncle. · The character of the old gentleman had already surrounded that ancient monastery with imaginary horrors. He had killed his neighbour, Mr. Chaworth, in an affray, and frightened his wife away from him. In his latter years he lived in complete seclusion from the world,-his only companions being a colony of crickets which he had reared, an old man servant, and his cook, who, perhaps, for sufficient reasons, was dignified in the neighbourhood with the title of Lady Betty. He had endeavoured to strip his heir of the family estate of Rochdale, in Lancashire, by a sale, which, however, was subsequently invalidated; and the grounds and mansion at Newstead, were found by their new possessor in a
state of the most lamentable decay. This possession took place in the summer of 1798. Mr. Moore preserves an anecdote connected with it which we must not pass over.
• They had already arrived at the Newstead toll-bar, and saw the woods of the Abbey stretching out to receive them, when Mrs. Byron, affecting to be ignorant of the place, asked the woman of the toll-house—to whom that seat belonged ? She was told that the owner of it, Lord Byron, had been some months dead. “And who is the next heir ? " asked the proud and happy mother. “ They say," answered the woman, “it is a little boy who lives at Aberdeen.”_" And this is he, bless him!” exclaimed the nurse, no longer able to contain herself, and turning to kiss with delight the young lord who was seated on her lap.'—p. 25.
In the following remarks, we may trace some of the circumstances which shed a baneful influence upon the life of Lord Byron.
Even under the most favourable circumstances, such an early elevation to rank would be but too likely to have a dangerous influence on the character; and the guidance under which young Byron entered upon his new station was, of all others, the least likely to lead him safely through its perils and temptations. His mother, without judgment or self-command, alternately spoiled him by indulgence, and irritated, or—what was still worse,-amused him by her violence. That strong sense of the ridiculous, for which he was afterwards so remarkable, and which showed itself thus early, got the better even of his fear of her; and when Mrs. Byron, who was a short and corpulent person, and rolled considerably in her gait, would, in a rage, endeavour to catch him, for the purpose of inflicting punishment, the young urchin, proud of being able to outstrip her, notwithstanding his lameness, would run round the room, laughing like a little Puck, and mocking at all her menaces. In the few anecdotes of his early life which he related in his “ Memoranda,” though the name of his mother was never mentioned but with respect, it was not difficult to perceive that the recollections she had left behind—at least, those that had made the deepest impression—were of a painful nature. One of the most striking passages, indeed, in the few pages of that Memoir which related to his early days, was where, in speaking of his own sensitiveness on the subject of his deformed foot, he described the feeling of horror and humiliation that came over him, when his mother, in one of her fits of passion, called him, “ a lame brat." As all that he had felt strongly through life was, in some shape or other, reproduced in his poetry, it was not likely that an expression such as this should fail of being recorded. Accordingly we find, in the opening of his drama, “ The Deformed Transformed,"
O“ Bertha. Out, hunchback !
Arnold. I was born so, mother !"! It may be questioned, indeed, whether that whole drama was not indebted for its origin to this single recollection.
• While such was the character of the person under whose immediate eye his youth was passed, the counteraction which a kind and watchful guardian might have opposed to such example and influence was almost wholly