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that the union should be put an end to. As to what a man says on his death-bed, we are first to be certain that he did say it; and next, we are to think what induces him to say it, and whether it is as likely to be his strength as his weakness. Besides, at that affecting moment, a man may feel a tenderness towards all whom he is going to leave, especially those with whom he has been conversant. The writer of the “Life and Times" says, that Lord Byron in his last moments was frequently bursting forth into most affectionate exclamations of “My dear wife! my dear child!” Fletcher, in his narrative, says nothing of the epithet bestowed on the former; and this good-humoured domestic was as believable, I dare say, as any man, when he was not taking himself for a Leporello. I would not be thought to speak lightly of such an occasion, or to speak of it without necessity-quite the reverse. The fact is, that all questions connected with love and marriage are of far deeper concernment, and will one day be thought so, than to suffer any person who has been deeply struck with them, to pass over their consideration at any time, out of fear of being mistaken by the vulgar.
A great many stories are related of Lord Byron in the “Life and Times,” for which there is no authority; and unluckily, when a reader meets with such as he knows to be untrue, all the rest go for nothing. In the following account for instance of Madame Guiccioli and her family, there is scarcely a word of truth.
66 The Countess of G has occasioned some noise both in Italy and England; all the romantic tales of his Lordship taking her out of a convent are fictions; she is no subject for a nunnery. Her father is at the head of an ancient Roman family much reduced in its fortunes; he let out his palace for their support, and Lord Byron by chance occupied it when his daughter was given in marriage to Count G-, an officer poor in every thing but titles. Lord B made the bride a liberal present of jewels, and in a short time he became the locum tenens of the bridegroom. An amicable arrangement was made; the Count set off to join the army at Naples, newly caparisoned, and the Countess remained under the roof of the noble Lord, where her father acts as regulator of the
household. She is a lovely woman, not more than twenty-two years of age, of a gay, volatile disposition; rides like an Amazon, and fishes, hunts, and shoots with his Lordship. Nature appears to have formed them for each other. She is beloved by all the domestics, and is friendly to every one that wants her aid. She speaks English with propriety, and possesses many accomplishments.”
The author here quoted by our friend of the “ Life and Times,” proceeds to give a marvellous account of a sail from Venice to Ithaca, and of the Countess's pursuit of her noble lover in a small boat, in which, with no other
company than a boy, she was tossed about for three days and two nights!
Such are the fictions received into a work professing to be a “full, true, and particular account.” It is added in a note, that “Count Gwas actually with Lord Byron when he died, and was one of the committee of four persons appointed by Maurocordato to take care of his property.” Here Count Pietro Gamba, the brother of the lady, is confounded with the Cavaliere Guiccioli her husband. Count Gamba the father was not of a Roman, but a Ravenna family. For the liberal present or any other present, of jewels, made by Lord Byron to the bride,-credat Christianus,--for nothing but Christian charity can do it; and as to the lady's accomplish(ments, male as well as female,-hunting, and shooting, and speaking English,--the writer might as well have said, that the boarding-school young ladies in England all go out hunting every morning, and speak Latin to . the whippers-in.
But intelligent men, in the very act of discrediting fictions respecting Lord Byron, have shown a tendency to blow up every little spark of their own fancy into a flame and a lustre. M. Beyle, the author of some works justly esteemed, a very sprightly and sometimes no unprofound writer, has given an excellent sketch of Lord Byron, painted from the life, in the midst of which he introduces the following grotesque:
“He can speak the ancient Greek, the modern Greek, and the Arabian." Of “the Arabian” he did not know, a syllable: at least, if he did, I think I should have heard of it during my intercourse with him. Besides, where
was he to pick it up? Probably he knew a few words of the Maltese jargon. Modern Greek he knew more of and might have spoken a little, when he was in Greece,-about as much, perhaps, as ordinary travellers in Italy speak Italian. With the ancient language he was so little conversant, that I doubt whether he could read “ Anacreon” without the help of a dictionary. He had lost it, after he left Harrow, as I think he somewhere confesses. Hewas far from familiar even with any of the Latin writers. It might be said of him with regard to the dead languages, as it was of Shakspeare (and he would have forgiven the truth for the sake of the comparison) that he had “ little Latin, and less Greek.” I have little of them myself, having suffered them to slip from me in like manner; but what I do know, I think I know better than he did; and this is saying nothing either to his advantage or mine. I mention this, lest the reader, from what I have said of his want of learning, should receive an undue impression in favour of my own, or think I intended it. Lord Byron, to the best of my recollection, never quoted an ancient author to me but once; which, by-the-way, reminds me of a curious evidence of the childish temper in which he used to indulge himself, to a degree hardly credible. I told him one day, that his majordomo, Lega, had been quoting Latin to me.
He said, with all the look of a little boy who has missed a piece of flattery or plum-pudding, “ Did he? He never quoted Latin to me. "baby Byron," as his sister called him. His mistakes in quantity,--such as his calling redivivus redivivuswere less evidences perhaps of his want of scholarship, where the word was as common in poetry. Our villanous way of reading Latin and Greek verses, with a contempt of short and long that would have made an ancient split his sides, excuses mistakes of this kind, even in a lover of Horace, not very learned. In short, it would be difficult, in these days of quotations and indexes, to pronounce whether a man was real scholar or not, unless one has lived with him. Mr. Hobhouse, who writes himself A.M., and loaded his mercurial friend with whole bales of comment, once contended with me, that the aceent upon the word Rimini ought
to be upon the second syllable, instead of the first; Ta comfortable piece of information to give a man, who had just been using the word in public the other way! I had not however been so foolish as to subject myself to the chance of these good-natured suggestions. I had made surety doubly sure by consulting Lucan, and to him I referred my critic, who was convinced and happy.*
Our author writes like a man of sense on the mistakes committed by Mr. Bowles during the Pope controversy; but with all due deference to the genius of Mr. Campbell, who, though something better than a critic, has written a volume of criticism full
of beauties, t-and of Lord Byron, who, though an extraordinary person, was no critic at all,—the only paper that went to the heart of that subject was written by Mr. Hazlitt, in “ The London Magazine.” All the others, like the person disputing about the cameleon, were at once right and wrong. Lord Byron thought, or pretended to think, that people meant to say Pope was no poet; and in justly vindicating him from that charge, real or supposed, he lost sight of the limits between one kind of poetry and another. Mr. Bowles, on the other hand, in trying to make out that the two kinds had nothing in common, confounded materials with the use of them; and forgot the very soul of poetry he was contending for, in subjecting it to every image it took up. According to him, Nature did not include Art; and a great poet could not handle his stick or his gloves with impunity. But see all this question admirably disentangled, and wound up, in the article by Mr. Hazlitt. As to Pope's moral character, Mr. Bowles was ridiculous, and something worse. He there sadly forgot both his nature and his art: and only ended with proving himself as inferior to Pope in a social light, notwithstanding his ethics, as he is to him in the amount of his poetry, notwithstanding his poetics.
It is unnecessary to contradict the numberless idle tales which our author proceeds to relate respecting Lord Byron's adventures. Some of the scenes in which they * " Vicinumque minax invadit Ariminum, ut ignes
Solis Lucifero fugiebant astra relicto."--Pharsalia, lib. i.
are laid, his Lordship never beheld; and such of the adventures as have a foundation in truth, are mixed up
with the most ridiculous fables. Every thing which happens to have come under my own knowledge, is sure to be thus falsified. I do not believe that the compiler wished to say any thing untrue; but he takes care to doubt only what tells against his hero, and swallows implicitly every thing else. On both accounts he is repeatedly committing himself. His scepticism is as warm as his credulity, and gets him into as great mistakes. For instance, from denying that the following verses were sent to Lady Byron (which I believe as little as he does, he proceeds to abuse what he would otherwise have admired, and discovers that the verses themselves were not written by Lord Byron, which they certainly were. His Lordship repeated them to me himself.
“The reader," says “ The Life and Times," " will recollect, that the marriage of Lord and Lady Byron took place on the 2d of January, 1815, and, if we may believe the Literary Gazette,' his Lordship, on the 2d of January, 1821, sent Lady Byron the following epigram:
" This day of all hath surely done
Its worst to me and you;'
« The reader," continues our biographer, "may choose whether he will believe that Lord Byron could be guilty of so cruel and unmanly an insult, or that some drivelling 'scribbler has attempted to palm his own Grub-street wit
upon the proprietor of • The Literary Gazette,' as a genuine effusion of the noble Bard. Lord Byron once patronized, but ever afterwards turned his back upon *The Literary Gazette,' which may account for its en- ! mity."
Now the epigram is not Grub-street wit, and as the reader has seen, was really the production of the “noble Bard.” The worst that can be said of it, is the evidence it affords of the way in which he was accustomed to indulge his petulance on a subject he had better have let alone, and his carelessness in setting it get abroad. I remember jokes of his upon others, which I certainly