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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/360

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318
ENGLISH BARDS, AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS.

Lo! wreaths of yew, not laurel, bind thy brow,
Thy Muse a Sprite, Apollo's sexton thou!
Whether on ancient tombs thou tak'st thy stand,
By gibb'ring spectres hailed, thy kindred band;270
Or tracest chaste descriptions on thy page,

To please the females of our modest age;

    of Wonder." Romantic Tales, in four volumes, appeared in 1808. Of his other works, The Captive, A Monodrama, was played in 1803; the Bravo of Venice, A Translation from the German, in 1804; and Timour the Tartar in 1811. His Journal of a West Indian Proprietor was not published till 1834. He sat as M.P. for Hindon (1796-1802).

    He had been a favourite in society before Byron appeared on the scene, but there is no record of any intimacy or acquaintance before 1813. When Byron was living at Geneva, Lewis visited the Maison Diodati in August, 1816, on which occasion he "translated to him Goethe's Faust by word of mouth," and drew up a codicil to his will, witnessed by Byron, Shelley, and Polidori, which contained certain humane provisions for the well-being of the negroes on his Jamaica estates. He also visited him at La Mira in August, 1817. Byron wrote of him after his death: "He was a good man, and a clever one, but he was a bore, a damned bore—one may say. But I liked him."

    To judge from his letters to his mother and other evidence (Scott's testimony, for instance), he was a kindly, well-intentioned man, but lacking in humour. When his father condemned the indecency of the Monk, he assured him "that he had not the slightest idea that what he was then writing could injure the principles of any human being." "He was," said Byron, "too great a bore to lie," and the plea is evidently offered in good faith. As a writer, he is memorable chiefly for his sponsorship of German literature. Scott said of him that he had the finest ear for rhythm he ever met with—finer than Byron's; and Coleridge, in a letter to Wordsworth, Jan., 1798 (Letters of S. T. C. (1895), i. 237), and again in Table Talk for March 20, 1834, commends his verses. Certainly his ballad of "Crazy Jane," once so famous that ladies took to wearing "Crazy Jane" hats, is of the nature of poetry. (See Life, 349, 362, 491, etc.; Life and Correspondence of M. G. Lewis (1839), i- 158, etc.; Life of Scott, by J. G. Lockhart (1842), pp. 80-83, 94.)]