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[The Earl of Clare.
See p. 406.]
3 [The young poet had recently received from Lord Clare, an epistle containing this passage:-"I think by your last letter that you are very much piqued with most of your friends; and, if I am not much inistaken, a little so with me. In one part you say, there is little or no doubt a few years, or months, will render us as politely indifferent to each other, as if we had never passed a portion of our time together:' indeed, Byron, you wrong me; and I have no doubt at least I hope -you wrong yourself."]
4 [It is difficult to conjecture for what reason, but these stanzas were not included in the publication of 1807; though few will hesitate to place them higher than any thing given in that volume. "Written when the author was not nineteen years of age, this remarkable poem shows," says Moore, "how
early the struggle between natural piety and doubt began in his mind." In reading the celebrated critique of the Edinburgh Review on the Hours of Idleness," the fact that the volume did not include this poem, ought to be kept in mind. 5 [The poet appears to have had in his mind one of Mr. Southey's juvenile pieces, beginning, —
"Go, thou, unto the house of prayer, I to the woodlands will repair." See also Childe Harold, canto iii. st. 91. — "Not vainly did the early Persian make His altar the high places and the peak Of earth-o'ergazing mountains, and thus take A fit and unwall'd temple, there to seek The Spirit, in whose honour shrines are weak Uprear'd of human hands," &c.]
Thou, who in wisdom placed me here,
To Thee, my God, to Thee I call!
If, when this dust to dust's restored, My soul shall float on airy wing, How shall thy glorious name adored Inspire her feeble voice to sing!
But, if this fleeting spirit share
With clay the grave's eternal bed, While life yet throbs, I raise my prayer, Though doom'd no more to quit the dead.
To Thee I breathe my humble strain, Grateful for all thy mercies past, And hope, my God, to thee again This erring life may fly at last.
December 29. 1806. [First published, 1830.]
TO EDWARD NOEL LONG, ESQ.1
Come rolling fresh on Fancy's eye;
Which spreads the sign of future peace,
In Granta's vale, the pedant's lore;
Yes, I will hope that Time's broad wing Will shed around some dews of spring: But if his scythe must sweep the flowers Which bloom among the fairy bowers,
[This young gentleman, who was with Lord Byron both at Harrow and Cambridge, afterwards entered the Guards, and served with distinction in the expedition to Copenhagen. He was drowned early in 1809, when on his way to join the army in the Peninsula; the transport in which he sailed being run foul of in the night by another of the convoy.
Where smiling Youth delights to dwell,
To soothe its wonted heedless flow; Still, still despise the censor stern,
But ne'er forget another's woe. Yes, as you knew me in the days O'er which Remembrance yet delays, Still may I rove, untutor'd, wild, And even in age at heart a child.
Though now on airy visions borne,
To you my soul is still the same. Oft has it been my fate to mourn,
And all my former joys are tame. But, hence! ye hours of sable hue!
Your frowns are gone, my sorrows o'er : By every bliss my childhood knew,
I'll think upon your shade no more. Thus, when the whirlwind's rage is past,
And caves their sullen roar enclose, We heed no more the wintry blast, When lull'd by zephyr to repose.
Full often has my infant Muse
Attuned to love her languid lyre; But now without a theme to choose,
The strains in stolen sighs expire. My youthful nymphs, alas! are flown; E- is a wife, and C- — a mother, And Carolina sighs alone,
And Mary's given to another; And Cora's eye, which roll'd on me,
Can now no more my love recall: In truth, dear LONG, 't was time to flee;
For Cora's eye will shine on all. And though the sun, with genial rays, His beams alike to all displays, And every lady's eye's a sun, These last should be confined to one. The soul's meridian don't become her, Whose sun displays a general summer! Thus faint is every former flame, And passion's self is now a name. As, when the ebbing flames are low,
The aid which once improved their light, And bade them burn with fiercer glow,
Now quenches all their sparks in night; Thus has it been with passion's fires,
As many a boy and girl remembers, While all the force of love expires,
Extinguish'd with the dying embers.
But now, dear LONG, 't is midnight's noon, And clouds obscure the watery moon, Whose beauties I shall not rehearse, Described in every stripling's verse;
father," says Lord Byron, “wrote to me to write his son's epitaph. I promised - but I had not the heart to complete it. He was such a good, amiable being as rarely remains long in this world; with talent and accomplishments, too, to make him the more regretted." Byron Diary, 1821.]
How dull! to hear the voice of those
Whom rank or chance, whom wealth or power, Have made, though neither friends nor foes, Associates of the festive hour. Give me again a faithful few,
In years and feelings still the same, And I will fly the midnight crew, Where boist'rous joy is but a name.
And woman, lovely woman! thou,
When e'en thy smiles begin to pall!
This busy scene of splendid woe, To make that calm contentment mine, Which virtue knows, or seems to know.
Fain would I fly the haunts of men —
Whose gloom may suit a darken'd mind. Oh! that to me the wings were given
Which bear the turtle to her nest! Then would I cleave the vault of heaven, To flee away, and be at rest.
WHEN I ROVED A YOUNG HIGHLANDER. WHEN I roved a young Highlander o'er the dark heath,
And climb'd thy steep summit, oh Morven of snow !? To gaze on the torrent that thunder'd beneath,
Or the mist of the tempest that gather'd below, 3 Untutor'd by science, a stranger to fear,
And rude as the rocks where my infancy grew, No feeling, save one, to my bosom was dear;
Need I say, my sweet Mary +, 'twas center'd in you?
whose notice is attracted by a fragment of glass to which a sun-beam has given momentary splendour. He hastens to the spot with breathless impatience, and finds the object of his curiosity and expectation is equally vulgar and worthless. Such is the man of quick and exalted powers of imagination. Ilis fancy over-estimates the object of his wishes, and pleasure, fame, distinction, are alternately pursued, attained, and despised when in his power. Like the enchanted fruit in the palace of a sorcerer, the objects of his admiration lose their attraction and value as soon as they are grasped by the adventurer's hand, and all that remains is regret for the time lost in the chase, and astonishment at the hallucination under which it was undertaken. The disproportion between hope and possession, which is felt by all men, is thus doubled to those whom nature has endowed with the power of gilding a distant prospect by the rays of imagination. These reflections, though trite and obvious, are in a manner forced from us by the poetry of Lord Byron, by the sentiments of weariness of life and enmity with the world which they so frequently express and by the singular analogy which such sentiments hold with well-known incidents of his life.-SIR W. SCOTT.]
1" And I said, Ch! that I had wines like a dove; for then would I fly away, and be at rest.”—Psalm lv. 6. This verse also constitutes a part of the most beautiful anthem in our language.
Morven, a lofty mountain in Aberdeenshire. "Gormal of snow," is an expression frequently to be found in Ossian.
3 This will not appear extraordinary to those who have been accustomed to the mountains. It is by no means uncommon, on attaining the top of Ben-e-vis, Ben-y-bourd, &c. to perceive, between the summit and the valley, clouds pouring down rain, and occasionally accompanied by lightning, while the spectator literally looks down upon the storm, perfectly secure from its effects.
[In Lord Byron's Diary for 1813, he says, "I have been thinking lately a good deal of Mary Duff. How very odd that I should have been so utterly, devotedly fond of that girl, at
an age when I could neither feel passion, nor know the meaning of the word. And the effect! My mother used always to rally me about this childish amour; and, at last, many years after, when I was sixteen, she told me one day; Oh, Byron, I have had a letter from Edinburgh, from Miss Abercromby, and your old sweetheart, Mary Duff, is married to a Mr. Cockburn.' [Robert Cockburn, Esq. of Edinburgh.] And what was my answer? I really cannot explain or account for my feelings at that moment; but they nearly threw me into convulsions to the horror of my mother, and the astonishment of every body. And it is a phenomenon in my existence (for I was not eight years old), which has puzzled, and will puzzle me to the latest hour of it."— Again, in January, 1815, a few days after his marriage, in a letter to his friend Captain Hay, the poet thus speaks of his childish attachment: -"Pray tell me more or as much as you like, of your cousin Mary. I believe I told you our story some years ago. I was twentyseven a few days ago, and I have never seen her since we were children, and young children too; but I never forget her, nor ever can. You will oblige me with presenting her with my best respects, and all good wishes. It may seem ridiculous but it is at any rate, I hope, not offensive to her nor hers in me to pretend to recollect anything about her, at so early a period of both our lives, almost, if not quite, in our nurseries; but it was a pleasant dream, which she must pardon me for remembering. Is she pretty still? I have the most perfect idea of her person, as a child; but Time, I suppose, has played the devil with us both."]
5" Breasting the lofty surge."-SHAKSPEARE.
The Dee is a beautiful river, which rises near Mar Lodge, and falls into the sea at New Aberdeen.
6 Colbleen is a mountain near the verge of the Highlands, not far from the ruins of Dee Castle.
7 [In the spring of 1807, on recovering from a severe illness, Lord Byron had projected a visit to Scotland. The plan was not put into execution; but he thus adverts to it, in a letter dated in August, and addressed to his fair correspondent of
Southwell" On Sunday I set off for the Highlands. A friend of mine accompanies me in my carriage to Edinburgh. There we shall leave it, and proceed in a tandem through the western parts to Inverary, where we shall purchase shelties, to enable us to view places inaccessible to vehicular conveyances. On the coast we shall hire a vessel, and visit the most remarkable of the Hebrides, and, if we have time and favourable weather, mean to sail as far as Iceland, only three hundred miles from the northern extremity of Caledonia, to peep at Hecla. I mean to collect all the Erse traditions, poems, &c.