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verses of school-boys. As he advanced in youth too, that ardor of passion, and that keenness, intensity, and accuracy of feeling, which marked the whole of his brilliant but brief career, and which, prejudice apart, delight every body so much in his writings, begau to develop themselves. Boys of ardent passions, and who have at the same time the means of gratifying those passions, are under no circumstances over and above regular; and the situation in which they are perhaps least so is a public school, where numbers of their fellows of the same unthinking age, having the same means, and possessing nearly the same babits, are perpetually goading
The enemies of Byron have never ventured to hint that he was in his boyhood more wild than his fellows; all that they ever have laid to his charge is, that in his freaks there was a little more origiuality; and if this be a stain, it is one which his memory can well bear.
From Harrow he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge ; and as he was now considerably older than when he had taken his own way of studying his lessons in Scotland, he seems again to have given offence to the more intolerant part of the doctors, by selecting his own courses of study, as well as his own modes of pursuing them. Those established formulæ of drudging, which lead us regularly, when the number of steps have been taken, to academic honors, as the progress of an algebraic equation leads to the final result, had no attraction for him. The poets were his favorites, and with equal merit, those which brought their descriptions nearest to bis own times had the preference. When, however, it suited his purpose, he showed that he had a far more vivid perception of the real, the spiritual and immortal beauties of classic lore, as well as far more intense and congenial feelings toward the people to whon the world is first and chiefly indebted for that lore, than those who can find music in every syllable, and song in every concatenation of sounds; and who are so intent upon the body of this being of delight, that the spirit but too frequently escapes
their notice. By this time his observation of the errors and absurdities of many of the usual systems pursued by men, and the inefficiency of the common means adopted for their removal, induced him to turn satirist; and the bolt of his first effort fell upon the deans and doctors of Cambridge with a severity and a truth, which there is too much reason to believe has obtained for him their implacable enmity, and still continues to make them groan in anguish and growl for revenge:
When about nineteen years of age, Lord Byron bade adieu to the deans and doctors of the Cam, and took up his residence at the family seat, where, among other and different pursuits, he
arranged and had printed at Newark, a small collection of his poems, under the whimsical title of “ Hours of Idleness.' The apology urged for the appearance of this little volume, was the usual one of the “advice of friends ;" and though it has never been stated who those friends were, it is probable that his noble, and as himself says, volunteer guardian was one of them, as the publication is dedicated to him; a circumstance which the noble bard seems afterwards to have regretted. This volume is, as has been said, not very remarkable for its power; but still, although he had published nothing more, it would have ranked him in the catalogue, and high in the catalogue, of those lost literati, who would have been men of genius had it not been for the weight of the coronet. Unpretending however, as was this little volume, and obscure as was the press from which it issued, it appears to have been in a great measure the means of letting his lordship know the vast extent of his powers, and prompting him to the profitable and vigorous use of them, at so early a period of his life. This was effected too, in a way which would have for ever silenced one of a less daring and undaunted mind.
The Edinburgh Review, then in all the life and greenness of youth, and evincing none of those symptoms of mutability, dotage, and decay which it was afterwards destined to exhibit, had, by one of the most bold and daring evolutions which ever was played off on the literary world, taken the top seat upon the bench of criticism by storm, and was condemning by wholesale; while authors of all classes and all descriptions, except the chosen few who composed or were known to its coterie, carried their wares to market with fear and trembling. This Review, which had generally been more anxious to find a victim which it could immolate, than an idol whom it could worship, pounced upon the little volume of the minor Lord, with a fury almost unknown, or at any rate seldom evinced even by itself. Genius, learning, spirit, every thing good, was denied him, and the fact of his having ventured to set forth a book, in however humble and unpretending a manner, was held up as the very acme of impudence and effrontery. The critic had his day; and the worshippers at the counter of Messrs. Archibald Constable and Company were chuckling and saying to each other, “Well, we have done for this same George Gordon, Lord Byron, a minor. He won't tell us any thing more about his · Hours of Idleness.' We have given him work for .twelve months at the least, in repenting of what he has already done." Such were the exultations, as stated by one who heard them at the time; but they were not without an admixture of fear. They had succeeded in convincing at least themselves that Lord Byron had no talent and no taste for poetry; but if they had heard of him at all, VOL. XXIV. Pam. NO. XLVII.
they must have heard that he was a youth of great spirit; and hence, though they might reckon themselves quite safe from the racing of Pegasus, there might still be some danger of that which drives forward his wingless namesake upon earth : they were not over fond of the whip; and though one of their number had recently come scratch-free out of a duel, in consequence of a stipuJated charging with paper bullets, it was by no means clear that Byron, gratuitously and wantonly as he had been attacked, would be so tender of the critical flesh.
But the bard took his own way of avenging himself, and in vindicating himself inflicted more heavy and humiliating chastisement upon the critics, than if he had horsewhipped them all, or shot half their number. That pen, with which he had been but dallying in his “Hours of Idleness," he sharpened for business to its keenest point; and in brief space appeared “ English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” in which by the power and polish of his verses, he not only established his own claim to all those excellences of which the critics had noted him destitute; but covered them with ridicule and confusion, which they have never been able to shake off. Nor was this all; for amid the chastisement of his unprovoked personal enemies, there was formed a general attack upon the faults and a general scorn of the meannesses of human nature, which would liave done credit to a writer of matured experience and confirmed reputation. It is true, that in this satire he attacked some whom he afterwards found did not deserve it; but it is equally true that he attacked more upon whom it was well bestowed, both at the time and since; and there is not, in the whole annals of satirical writing, any instance of a satire written by so young a man, which is so perfect in its forin and so correct in its application.
Lord Byron, so far from making any boast of this great and happy effort, afterwards suppressed it; and up to the time of majority he continued to prosecute his fancies alternately at Newstead and in the metropolis. At the former place he spent much of his time alone, or at least in the society, or rather under the care, of a great Newfoundland dog, to which he paid great attention while alive, and raised a monument when dead. The story of the skull which, about this time, he had mounted as a drinking-cup, is wellknown, and has been cited by the suffering enemies of the bard as a proof of early misanthropy. But real misanthropy consists in bad deeds done to the living, and not in fitting up skulls and framing inscriptions; and the man who
says that he loves a dog better than he loves a human being, has seldom been known to refuse an act of kindness to the latter. A man of songs is, especially in the ardour of youth, a man of loves, and Byron was not the man to be
behind his neighbours in this way; but though he had his flames in abundance, and showed them off, through that course of amatory verse, which most, if not all, poets have to encounter, his inroads upon peace of families have never been told. It is true that one lady, and she too a married lady, wrote several copies of cooing verses and a novel, not by any means of the purest description, scolding because he would not meet, with that ardour which she wished, advances which appear to have been originally and chiefly, if not wholly, upon her part. During the whole of this period of his life,-a period which, under his circumstances, was exposed to peculiar dangers and temptations,—there is nothing which appears to bring him out from the usual character of young noblemen, unless it be higher mental endowments, and a more dignified use of them; and much as he has been blamed by wholesale and in the abstract, none of his calumniators (for in the absence of individual proofs of what they say, that must be their name,) have been able to adduce the requisite tale of well-authenticated particulars. Many instances of kindness and generosity on the part of Byron are known, and could be recorded, were they at all necessary for the establishing of his character ; but as he never was obtrusive with the tale of his good deeds when in life, it would be a most gratuitous attempt to patch that which needs no patching, to revert to them now that he lives only in his writings, and in the remembrance of those who never, for one moment, doubted his worth. If, at this period of his history, or indeed at any period of it, Lord Byron could have deigned to join any party, or take up the opinions of any coterie, he would at once have been lauded as its proudest boast and its greatest ornament; but Lord Byron lived and meditated for more countries than one, and for more ages than the present. Had he at any time promised to spare the sins of other men, the guardians of the public morals would have willingly
any license to increase his own; but he was resolved to expose the cant and imposition with which he every where met, and like every other man who has attempted this, a clamour, intolerant in proportion as it was without just foundation, was every where raised against him, not only by those who were already wincing under the exposure, but also by those who dreaded that their own turn might be the next.
When the term of his minority had expired, he resolved to improve his knowledge of the earth and of mankind, by travelling abroad; and as the state of the middle and western parts of Europe was such that he could not conscientiously examine them, and as the information which these countries were calculated to afford, was not exactly that which suited the high and poetic turn of his mind, his thoughts were directed to the classic land of the east, to that land
and that people which, to the shame of christian states, amid all their missions of
peace and crusades of war, had been allowed to remain under the usurped and grinding dominion of the slaves of Mahomet. Selecting as his companion John Cam Hobhouse, Esquire, whose love of liberty and literature seemed soinewhat congenial with his own, although their
different order, he sailed from Falmouth for Lisbon, and having landed there, he first examined all that was worthy of remark in that neighbourhood, and then proceeded, by the southern provinces of Spain, for the Mediterranean, where he landed first on the wild mountains of Albania, whose bold scenery and bolder inhabitants appear to have made a deep and permanent impression upon his mind. Having traversed the classic land of Greece, in almost every direction, and studied its scenery with the eye of a poet and a painter, and its people with the head of a sage and the heart of a patriot,-a patriot of more noble kind than those breakers of public-room or senatorial repose, who yelp like curs till once they get their bone, and then sneak away into a corner, where they can gnaw it in silence and secrecy,-he returned to England, better furnished in all the substantial fruits of travelling than perhaps any other man who ever returned to the shores of the same or any other country.
Fools who knew not Byron, and knaves who had no wish that he should be known, have been at some pains to prevent the world from knowing him, --have been labouring to circulate an impression that, previous to his leaving England, he was soured by disappointment, and sick of the human race; but no calumny was ever more utterly without foundation: for, apart from the personal knowledge of every one who had access to him and when there was any valid reason for it, that access was far from difficult, and apart too from the glowing and glorious descriptions which he is ever and anon giving of nature, there is enough in those works to show that man was the chief object of his study, and the improvement of the condition of man his fondest wish. Some men go abroad to study ruins, others to see fashions, a third class to know something about languages, a fourth to have an apology for becoming authors, and a fifth that they may be enabled to say they have not been always at home; but Byron's thirst for knowledge, and his zeal and success in the acquisition of it were universal. No man had every scene of the countries over which he passed, and the history of every action of which it had been the theatre, so completely and so forcibly in his mind; no man made, in so short a time, so rapid and so accurate progress in the acquisition of so many and so varied languages; and no man knew so well, or described so truly the national differences in costume, in form, in manners, in government, or in happiness and enjoyment.