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he could see very well, that I had more value for lords than I supposed.
In the correspondence at the end of the present memoir, the reader will find some letters addressed to me at this period by Lord Byron. He was a warm politician, and thought himself earnest in the cause of liberty. His failure in the House of Lords is well known. He was very candid about it; said he was much frightened, and should never be able to do any thing that way. Lords of all parties came about him, and consoled him; he particularly mentioned Lord Sidmouth, as being unaffectedly kind. When I left prison, I was too ill to return his visits. He pressed me very much to go to the theatre with him; but illness, and the dread of committing my critical independence, alike prevented me. His Lordship was one of a management that governed Drurylane Theatre at that time, and that made a sad business of their direction, as amateur-managers have always done. He got nothing by it but petty vexations, and a good deal of scandal.
I was then living at Paddington. I had a study looking over the fields towards Westbourne Green; which I mention, because, besides the pleasure I took in it after my prison, and the gratitude I owe to a fair cousin, who saved me from being burnt there one fine morning, I received visits in it from two persons of a remarkable discrepancy of character-Lord Byron and Mr. Wordsworth. Of Mr. Wordsworth I will speak hereafter. Lord Byron, I thought, took a pleasure in my room, as contrasted with the splendour of his great house. He had too much reason to do so. His domestic troubles were just about to become public. His appearance at that time was the finest I ever saw it, a great deal finer than it was afterwards, when he was abroad. He was fatter than before his marriage, but only just enough so to complete the manliness of his person; and the turn of his head and countenance had a spirit and elevation in it, which though not unmixed with disquiet, gave him altogether a nobler look, than I ever knew him to have, before or since. His dress, which was black, with white trowsers, and which he wore buttoned close over the body, completed the succinctness and gentlemanliness of his
appearance. I remember one day, as he stood look
ing out of the window, he resembled in a lively manner the portrait of him by Phillips, by far the best that has appeared; I mean the best of him at his best time of life, and the most like him in features as well as expression. He sat one morning so long, that Lady Byron sent up twice to let him know she was waiting. Her Ladyship used to go on in the carriage to Henderson's Nursery Ground, to get flowers. I had not the honour of knowing her, nor ever saw her but once, when I caught a glimpse of her at the door. I thought she had a pretty carnest look, with her “pippin” face; an epithet by which she playfully designated herself.
The first visit I paid Lord Byron was just after their separation. The public, who took part with the lady, as they ought to do, (women in their relations with the other sex being under the most unhandsome disadvantages) had, nevertheless, no idea of the troubles which her husband was suffering at that time. He was very ill, his face jaundiced with bile; the renouncement of his society by Lady Byron had disconcerted him extremely, and was, I believe, utterly unlooked for; then the journals and their attacks upon him, were felt severely; and to crown all, he had an execution in his house. struck with the real trouble he manifested, compared with what the public thought of it. The adherence of his old friends was also touching. I saw Mr. Hobhouse and Mr. Scrope Davies (college friends of his) almost every time I called. Mr. Rogers was regular in his daily visits; and Lord Holland, he said, was very kind to him. Finally, he took the blame of the quarrel to himself; and he enlisted my self-love so far on the side of Lady Byron, as to tell me that she liked my poem, and had compared his temper to that of Giovanni, my heroine's consort. In all this I beheld only a generous nature, subject perhaps to ebullitions of ill temper, but candid, sensitive, extremely to be pitied, and if a woman knew how, or was permitted by others to love him, extremely to be loved.
What made me come the more warmly to this conclusion, was a letter which he showed me, written by Lady Byron after her departure from the house, and when she was on her way to the relations, who persuaded her not to return. It was signed with the epithet abovementioned; and was written in a spirit of good-humour,
and even fondness, which though containing nothing but what a wife ought to write, and is the better for writing, was, I thought, almost too good to show. But the case was extreme: and the compliment to me, in showing it, appeared the greater. I was not aware at that time, that with a singular incontinence, towards which it was lucky for a great many people that his friends were as singularly considerate, his Lordship was in the habit of making a confidant of every body he came nigh.
I will now tell the reader, very candidly, what I think of the whole of that matter. Every body knows, in the present beautiful state of the relations between the sexes, what is meant by marriages of convenience. They generally turn out to be as inconvenient, as persons, who are said to have arrived at
of discretion, are apt to be indiscreet. Lord Byron's was a marriage of convenience, certainly at least on his own part. The lady, I have no doubt, would never have heard of it under that title. He married for money, but of course he wooed with his genius; and the Lady persuaded herself that she liked him, partly because he had a genius, and partly because it is natural to love those who take pains to please us. Furthermore, the poet was piqued to obtain his mistress, because she had a reputation for being delicate in such matters; and the lady was piqued to become a wife, not because she did not know the gentleman previously to marriage, but because she did, and hoped that her love, and her sincerity, and her cleverness, would enable her to reform him. The experiment was dangerous, and did not succeed. Another couple might have sat still, and sacrificed their comfort to the vanity of appearing comfortable. Lord Byron had too much self-will for this, and his lady too much sincerity, -perhaps too much alarm and resentment. The excess of his moods, which out of the spleen, and even self-reproach of the moment, he indulged in perhaps beyond what he really felt, were so terrifying to a young and mortified woman, that she began to doubt whether he was in possession of his senses. She took measures, which exceedingly mortified him, for solving this doubt; and though they were on good terms when she left an uneasy house to visit her friends in the country, and Lady Byron might, I have no doubt, have been persuaded by him to return, had there been as much love, or even address, on his side, as there was a wish to believe in his merits on hers, it is no wonder that others, whom she had known and loved so much longer, and who felt no interest in being blind to his defects, should persuade her to stay away. The “ Farewell,”
, that he wrote, and that set so many tender-hearted white handkerchiefs in motion, only resulted from his poetical power of assuming an imaginary position, and taking pity on himself in the shape of another man. He had no love for the object of it, or he would never have written upon her in so different a style afterwards. Indeed, I do not believe that he ever had the good-fortune of knowing what real love is,-meaning by love the desire that is ennobled by sentiment, and that seeks the good and exaltation of the person beloved. He could write a passage now and then, which showed that he was not incapable of it; but the passion on which he delights to dwell is either that of boys and girls, extremely prone and boarding-school; or of heroines, who take a delight in sacrificing themselves to wilful gentlemen.
I thought differently on this business at the time, though rather to the exculpation of the gentleman, than blame of the lady. My present conclusions were confirmed during my visit to Italy. There is no doubt, that Lord Byron felt the scandal of the separation severely. It is likely, also, that he began to long for his wife's adherence the more, when he saw that she would not return. Perhaps he liked her the better. At all events, she piqued his will, which was his tender side; the circles were loud in his condemnation; and he was in perplexity about his child; in whom, as his only representative, and the descendant of two ancient families, he took great pride to the last. But his feelings, whatever they were, did not hinder him from wreaking his resentment in a manner which every one of his friends lamented; nor from availing himself, at a future day, of those rights of matrimonial property, which the gallant and chivalrous justice of the stronger sex has decreed to itself, as a consolation for not being able to make the lady comfortable.
From the time of my taking leave of Lord Byron in
England, to the moment of our meeting in Italy, I scarcely heard of him, and never from him. He had become not very fond of his reforming acquaintances. Shelley he knew, and lived a good deal with, in Switzerland; and he was intimate again with him in Italy; yet, in the list of the only persons whom, on some occasion or other, he mentioned publicly as having seen in that country, Mr. Shelley's name was omitted. I was therefore surprised, when I received the letter from my friend, which the reader will find in the Correspondence at the end of this memoir, and which contained a proposal from my former acquaintance, inviting me to go over, and set up a work with him. Mr. Shelley himself had repeatedly invited me abroad; and I had as repeatedly declined going, for the reason stated in my account of him. That reason was done away by the nature of this new proposal. I was ill; it was thought by many I could not live; my wife was very ill too; my family was numerous; and it was agreed by my partner in the Examiner, that while a struggle was made in England to reanimate that paper, injured by the peace, and by a variety of other circumstances, a simultaneous endeavour should be made in Italy to secure new aid to our diminished fortunes, and new friends to the cause of "liberty. My family, therefore, packed up their books, and prepared to go by sea.
Of my voyage I will give an account hereafter. My business at present is to speak of Lord Byron, to whose Italian residence I therefore hasten. In the harbour of Leghorn I found Mr. Trelawney. He was standing with his knight-errant aspect, dark, handsome, and mustachio'd, in Lord Byron's boat, the Bolivar, of which he had taken charge for his Lordship. In a day or two I went to see the noble Bard, who was in what the Italians call villeggiatura at Monto-Nero; that is to say, enjoying a country-house for the season. I there met with a singular adventure, which seemed to make me free of Italy and stilettos, before I had well set foot in the country. The day was very hot; the road to Monte-Nero was very hot, through dusty suburbs; and when I got there, I found the hottest-looking house I
Not content with having a red wash over it, the red was the most unseasonable of all reds, a salmon