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Volumes of description could not give you so vivid a feeling of the characteristic features of the valley of the Rhine as these lines And thus through the Alps, “The palaces of Nature," Byron advanced into Italy, the land of ancient art, heroic deeds, and elysian nature. At Geneva he fell in with Shelley for the first time, and henceforth these two great poets became friends. At Diodati, on the lake of Geneva, he spent the autumn, then advanced to Italy, and took up his abode in Venice, where, in the palace Mocenigo, on the Canal Grande, he lived till December, 1819, i.e. about three years. His next remove was to Ravenna, where he had splendid apartments in the Guiccioli palace. In the autumn of 1821 he quitted Ravenna, having resided there not two years, and took up his residence at Pisa, in the Lanfranchi palace on the Arno, which he describes as large enough for a garrison. In the autumn of 1822 he quitted Pisa for Genoa, having resided at Pisa a year. At Genoa he inhabited the villa Saluzzo at Albaro, one of the suburbs of that city, where he continued to live till the July of 1823, not quite a year, when he set sail for Greece, where in a few months his existence terminated.
Of Lord Byron's abodes and modes of life we have some graphic glimpses in Moore's life, in Shelley's and Captain Medwin's notices. Everywhere he remained true to his schoolboy habits of riding on horseback, swimming, firing with pistols ; to his love of bull and Newfoundland dogs. Moore describes his house in Venice as a damp-looking mansion, on a dismal canal. “As we groped our way after him," he says, “through the dark hall, he cried out, Keep clear of the dog ;' and before we had proceeded many paces farther, Take care, or that monkey will fly at you,' a curious proof of his fidelity to all the tastes of his youth, and of the sort of menagerie which visitors at Newstead had to encounter in their progress through his hall.” Soon after he adds, “The door burst open, and at once we entered an apartment not only spacious and elegant, but wearing an aspect of comfort and habitableness which, to a traveller's eye, is as welcome as rare.” Captain Medwin somewhere mentions meeting Lord Byron, travelling from one of his places of abode to another, with a train of carriages, monkeys, and whiskered servants, a strange procession ; and Shelley, visiting him at Ravenna, says, “Lord Byron has here splendid apartments in the palace of his mistress's husband, who is one of the richest men in Italy. There are two monkeys, five cats, eight dogs, and ten horses, all of whom, except the horses, walk about the house like the masters of it. Tita, the Venetian, is here, and operates as my valet-a fine fellow, with a prodigious black beard, who has stabbed two or three people, and is the most good-natured fellow I ever saw.”
Of his house at Pisa, Byron himself says :-“I have got here a famous old feudal palazzo, on the Arno, large enough for a garrison, with dungeons below and cells in the walls ; and so full of ghosts, that the learned Fletcher, my valet, has begged leave to change his room, and then refused to occupy his ncr room, because there were more ghosts there than in the other. It is quite true that there are most extraordinary noises, as in all old buildings, which have terrified the servants so as to incommode me extremely. There is one place where people were evidently walled up; for there is but one possible passage, broken through the wall, and then meant to be closed again upon the inmate. The house once belonged to the Lanfranchi family, the same mentioned by Ugolina in his dream, as his persecutor with Sismondi, and has had a fierce owner or two in its time.”
The mode of spending his time appears by all accounts to have been pretty much the same everywhere. Rising about one o'clock at noon, taking a hasty breakfast, often standing. “At three or four," says the Guiccioli, “at Ravenna and Pisa, those who used to ride out with him agreed to call, and after a game at billiards they mounted and rode out." At the two latter places his resort was generally the forests adjoining the towns. At Ravenna, that forest rendered so famous by Danté and Boccaccio, especially for the story of the spectre huntsman in the Decamerone ; and at Pisa the old pine forest stretching down to the sea. Latterly he used to proceed to the outside of the city, to avoid the staring of the people, especially English people; then mounted his horse, and rode on at a great rate. In the forest they used to fire with pistols at a mark. The forest rides of Byron near Pisa and Ravenna will always be scenes visited with deep interest by Englishmen, and Shelley's description of themselves, the two great poets, in Julian and Maddalo, as they rode
“ Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow
of Adria towards Venice, a bare strand
is one of everlasting value. Returning to dinner at six or seven, he conversed with his friends till midnight, and then sat down to write.
Thus we have traced this great and singular man from the mountains of the Scottish Highlands, where he roamed as a boy, from land to land, till he stood as a liberator on the shores of Greece, and was seen for a few months riding forth with his long train of Suliote guards, and then was at once lost to Greece and the world. In no short life was there ever more to applaud and to condemn, to wonder at and to deplore. From those hereditary and other causes which we have already noticed, the temperament of Byron was passionate to excess; but this extreme sensibility, which was the food and foundation of his splendid genius, was at the same time the torture of his existence. Misunderstood where he ought to have been soothed with the deepest tenderness, attacked by the public where he should have been most closely sympathised with, he went forth, as it were, reckless of peace or of character. A series of adulterous connexions darkened his glorious reputation, and served to justify in the eyes of the public the accusations brought against him. But spite of the censures of the world, and reproaches of his own conscience, the powers of his genius continually grew, till they even forced into the silence of astonishment the most heartless of his detractors. To say nothing of those grand and sombre metaphysical dramas, Manfred, Cain, and the rest, which he wrote in Italy, the poem alone of Childe Harold, ever ascending in magnificent strength, richness, and beauty, as it advanced, was sufficient to give him an immortality second to no other. The wide and superb field of its action, that of all the finest countries of Europe ; the great events, those of the most stirring and momentous age of the whole world; and the illustrious names which it wove into its living mass; the glorious remains of art, and the still more glorious features of nature in Italy and Greece ;-all combined to render Childe Harold the great poem of his own and the favourite of every after age. Totally different as he was under different impressions, Childe Harold had the transcendent advantage of being the product of that mood which was inspired only by the contemplation of every object calculated to draw him away from the seductions of society, and the lower tones of his mind ;—the mood inspired by the most august objects of heaven and of earth,—the midnight skies, the Alpine mountains, the sublimities of mighty rivers and oceans, the basking beauties of southern nature, and the crumbling but unrivalled works of man. Filled with all these images of nobility and greatness, he gave them back to his page with a tone so philosophically profound, with a music so thrilling, with a dignity so graceful and yet so tender, that nothing in poetry can be conceived more fascinating and perfect. Every thought is so clearly and fully developed, every image is so substantial and so strongly defined, and the very scepticism which here and there betrays itself comes forth so accompanied by a pensive, earnest, and intense longing after life, that it resembles the melancholy tone which pervades the book of Job, and some of the prophets, more than that of any other human, much less modern, composition. We may safely assert that there are a hundred combining causes, in the subjects and the spirit of Childe Harold, to render it to every future age the most lovely and endearing gift from this. Don Juan, the reflex of Byron's ordinary, as this was of his solitary and higher life,-his life alone with Nature and with God,has its wonderful and inimitable passages ; but Childe Harold is one woven mass of beauty and intellectual gold from end to end.
In judging the errors of Lord Byron, there is one consideration calculated to disarm severity perhaps more than all others. The excesses in which he had indulged were made by Providence the means of the severest punishment that could befal him. The cause of Greece aroused his spirit, at that period of life when life should have been in its prime, and a new scene of most glorious ambition was opened to him,—that of adding to the unrivalled renown of the poet the still more grateful renown of becoming the saviour of a country and a people, whom the triumphs of ancient art, science, liberty, and literature, had made as it were kindred to the whole world. This august prospect was unveiled to him, and he rushed forward to secure it; but his constitution, sapped by vicious indulgence, gave way ;-the brilliant promise of new and loftiest glories was snatched from him ;-he sunk and perished. Reflecting on this -the hardest moralist could not desire a sadder retribution; and they who love rather to seek in the corrupt mass of humanity for the original germs of the divine nature, will turn with Thomas Moore to the fair side, and acquiesce most cordially in the concluding words of his biography. “It would not be in the power, indeed, of the most poetical friend to allege anything more convincingly favourable of his character than is contained in the few simple facts, that, through life, with all his faults, he never lost a friend ; that those about him in his youth, whether as companions, teachers, or servants, remained attached to him to the last; that the woman to whom he gave the love of his maturer years idolizes his name; and that, with a single unhappy exception, scarce an instance is to be found of any one once brought, however briefly, into relations of amity with him that did not feel towards him a kind regard in life and retain a fondness for his memory.”
In his last moments his heart fondly turned to his wife and child ; and he commissioned his old servant, Fletcher, to deliver to them messages of an affection which then rose sublimely above all the resentments of earth.
WHEN a youth, with a voracious appetite for books, an old lady, who
“ Describe the Borough-though our idle tribe