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that thou hast trod-upon every threshold that received theeupon every roof that covered thee-upon the least trifle that ever caught thy passing glance that ever touched thy handthat ever drew a word from thy hallowed lip, or a line from thy glorious pen! How eagerly do we snatch at the least infinitesimal scrap of dress or morsel of ornament which even for a passing day had once its“ pride of place' upon the person
of the ' Immortal !' not to speak of a hair of his sacred head which would be priceless! True, like the gathering of autographs and the ransacking out of rare books, the search for these little relics of the mighty great is often a mere craze for bargains out of the great Curiosity-shop' of antiquity, wholly abstracted from, and independent of, deep and genuine reverence for genius! How many an autograph collector knows little, and cares less, about the real excellence or worth of the being whose handwriting he would yet buy, beg, borrow, or steal (content with knowing him esteemed great by others !), and as many a 'rare-book-hunter' expends his sole raptures upon the title-page—the cuts—the printer's name—and (chief glory of all the date!
But all the fussing, and petty impertinence, and virtu-hunting of these petty and fussing people, will never throw contempt upon the least wreck of the handwriting of real genius, or on the most talented and time-stained remains of its printed monuments. They, and all we can trace back to the mighty source, (even to the dust from its feet, could the grains be gathered and identified,) are dear for ever to the true worshippers of the truly glorious! They may be profaned by the hypocrisy and affectation of some, and desecrated by the cold levity and heartlessness of others; but they are religiously hallowed and precious to the eye and the heart of the genuine believer!
So, when we enter the last sitting-apartment of the inspired ploughman, of him
• Who walked in glory, and in joy,
It is an addition to the sacredness of our reverence to know (or, at least, to believe) that every article that little room contains, even to the veriest trifle, remains just as his dear hand placed or left it—as his eye last gazed or glanced upon it, the very instant before the one dropped in eternal helplessness, and the other darkened with an eternal film!
So, when we gaze upon the faded old green coat, the napless hat, the humble unadorned walking-stick, which consecrate the poor peg upon which they hang at Abbotsford they awaken deeper feelings, perhaps, than all the beauty of its grounds,
though Scott walked in them, or all the classic elegance of its interior, though Scott designed ! And so,~ But, just heavens !' exclaims the reader, (not to speak it profanely,) 'to what and whither is all this interminable prologue tending?—what has all this to do with your railway sketch, or adventure, or with
the man who has seen Virgil ? To which we answer, in the words of him, the greater than Virgil', of whom chiefly we are going to speak,
-Stern critic, say not so
Patience, and you shall learn!' and whether you belong to the generation with whom he was nearly all in all, who bought his portraits as well as his poems, and tried hard not only to write as sublimely as the last
*To wrapping themselves in Harold's inky cloak,
To teach the world how Harold did not write ;' but stuck themselves duly before their mirrors to study an imitation of the former, and practised hard at the curl of the lip,—the scowl of the brow,—the 'fine frenzy' of the eye,and the picturesque turn-down of the shirt collar !—whether you belong to that generation, or to the present cooler race, whose critical pastors and masters take infinite pains to teach them that the God of their former idolatry, like Nebuchadnezzar's image, has a good deal of brass, iron, and clay, as well as gold, in his composition—in fact, that Byron is no longer Byron, although five editions of his works have sold for one of those of any other modern poet,—we say, gentle reader, that, to which ever generation you belong, we still hope to draw your pleased attention fairly to our Page of Truth.'
It was one of the very brightest and coldest of winter's mornings, January 1, 1844, that I left the railway station at York, bent on paying a Christmas visit to friends at Sunderland. We passed station after station without a word being spoken by any of my fellow-travellers, and I, whose fate it had usually been, in the course of my extended wanderings, to meet with pleasant travelling companions, began to consider myself a very ill-used individual, and to fear my fortune was about to turn. But, after a time, another
entered the carriage, and by an indescribable air and manner, although, perhaps, not of the most refined description, convinced me that he was of a very different class from the other occupants of the vehicle—that (in other words) I had stumbled on a character.'
Seeing that I was without a protector, he was polite enough to look after my luggage when we reached Southchurch, and thus, the ice being broken, we fell (as John Bunyan savs) into discourse.
***There is one of our modern patent philanthropists,” he observed, directing my attention to a young man who was assiduously distributing tracts to the wind and the passers-by, with equal improvement, no doubt, to both. I wonder what are his principles of action. Pray, Sir, will you inform me on what grounds you object to wine?
The cadaverous visage of the advocate for temperance was now turned towards us, and he began a spirited-I beg his pardon-an animated discussion, in which, however, my more happy-looking compagnon-du-royage had manifestly the advantage.
I assure you, Sir, that keeping to the pure element, water, may be almost said to be a-a-a any-goat* to all the evils of life. Ah, you are very facetious, very, Sir,' he continued, when he observed the burst of irrepressible laughter which this speech had produced; ‘but we will allow you to laugh.'
To be sure you will! It has been the privilege of wisdom, from time immemorial, to laugh at folly. For my part, I take wine-ay, and ale too, not to do me good (as you call it), but, honestly, because I like it. I quite agree with my old master's opinion:
“Few things surpass old wine and they may preach
Who please—the more.--because they preach in vain." Oh! exclaimed I, delighted at the thought of being the travelling companion of one who had known our great poet,'were you indeed, and indeed an attendant of Lord Byron, and will
talk to me of him ?' With pleasure ! he replied. Few knew Lord Byron's character better than myself, and I am very sure that all who really understood it must remember his name with pride and pleasure : I have reason to add to these feelings the deepest gratitude for unceasing kindness. I was the son of a farmer on his estate, and from childhood was the object of his generosity ; I used frequently to accompany him in his rambles, and fishing and shooting expeditions. More than once, indeed, was I saved from drowning by that superb dog, Boatswain, whom he has immortalized by the epitaph concluding,
"To mark a friend's remains these stones arise ; After the denouement of his unfortunate marriage, I again went abroad with him ;t our route was across the Alps to
I never knew but one--and here he lies !"
uery, ANTIDOTE ?--Printer's Devil. t'On a scrap of paper, in his handwriting, dated April 14, 1816, I find the following list of his attendants, with an annexed outline of his projected tour :
Servants ;-Berger, a Swiss, William Fletcher, and Robert Rushton.-Joha Switzerland, thence to Italy and Greece ; but, at my mother's request, I returned home before he died. Oh, that he had lived but a few years longer, to prove his personal character as great as his intellectual superiority! Oh, that he had lived to see his actions portrayed by the pen of truth instead of the barb of malice !
. There were unquestionably,' I replied, 'some evil traits in his character, but I cannot help considering him as one "more sinned against than sinning.”
Indeed, it was so ! Never has the world presented a stronger illustration of the words “No prophet hath honour," &c. He was of a proud and most sensitive temper-a warm, generous heart, open as day to melting charity, and a mind that required more than ordinary soothing and caressing. His friends those whom he loved, and who loved him-could lead him whither they would ; their influence over him was literally unbounded; and he was singularly tenacious in all his attachments, as well as generously
forgiving to his enemies. He had a great and noble mind, formed by nature to be an example as well as a wonder to the age-but, mingled with his good qualities, he had also the weaknesses inseparably attached to them. Unfortunately for his country, most unfortunately for himself, his domestic position was through life calculated to foster his weaknesses into vices,--to suppress his good principles and feelings until, when they did, in spite of every restraint, burst forth, they resembled the fitful blaze of lightning or volcanic fire, rather than the steady, warm, and fructifying light of the sun. It was only during a very few years before the close of his brief career that Byron was really himself-that his heart, purified by a deep and genuine, although unhappy love, for one well worthy to inspire it his mind elevated by the exercise of one of the noblest sentiments the human heart can feel-sympathy with the oppressed,-it was only then that he appeared as he was, or that the world began to understand his character, or to know the injustice that had been done him.'
Certainly, that is true,' I remarked; ' but you must not forget that it required more discernment than the million possess to discern his real excellence, veiled as it was from ordinary sight, not merely by the malice of others, but by his own studious
William Polidori, M.D. -Switzerland, Flanders, Italy, and (perhaps) France. The two English servants, it will be observed, were the same . Yeoman' and ' Page' who had set out with him on his youthful travels in 1809, and now, for the second and last time, taking leave of his native land on the 25th of April, he sailed for Ostend." MOORE's Life of Byron.
efforts to hide every feeling or emotion that would have done him credit.'
* True, he had seen so much of cant and hypocrisy,-he had observed so much baseness under the veil of religion and morality,—that he fell into the error of imagining them to be inseparable,—and, although his ardent and highly imaginative temperament, aided by great temptations, led him into many errors, so great was his abhorrence of cant, that he took no trouble either to conceal his real errors, or to contradict false aspersions. I will give you one anecdote of his early days, which he himself related with great gusto,-merely as a specimen of “his tutors, confessor, and mother.”
‘One of the objects of his youthful aversion was an old chaplain, who was a perpetual spy on his actions, and who stood in high favour with Mrs. Byron, from the tales he carried to her of his Lordship. On one occasion the old fellow laid information that he had detected Lord Byron kissing one of the maids. When called to account the young delinquent did not deny the imputation, and after exhausting herself and every English epithet of abuse at once, “exit Mrs. Byron in a rage.
His Lordship then turned round and informed the reverend intermeddler that he would be revenged on him in due time. He was not a man to break his word; as friend or foe, he was equally sincere, and he tracked the tale-bearer until he convicted him of a much less pardonable transgression. For a long time afterwards, when and wherever he might meet him, he chanted in audible tones, "From (every parson knows what) and all other deadly sins, good Lord, deliver us!” Can you wonder that such incidents as this and similar were well calculated to give him an intense horror of cant in all its forms,—that it was almost gratifying to him to read the abuse showered on him, and then rejoice in the inward conviction that he was not that which he seemed ?
‘But, injudiciously as his mother treated him—unjust as were the censures of the world—his ruin did not seem to be accomplished until the agency of Lady Byron came into action. I may perhaps be wrong in supposing it, but I cannot but think his disagreement with his wife gave the final blow to his happiness, and undermined all his determinations to reform.'
It was a fatal connexion,' observed “the Page” mournfully, 'a dreadful trial to himself, although perhaps a blessing to the world. Had he married Miss Chaworth, or had he been the happy husband of any other woman, the world would probably have lost some of his greatest works; but our own benefit should not make us forgetful of his anguished heart—his fevered brain.