The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/Childish Recollections
"I cannot but remember such things were,
And were most dear to me."
["That were most precious to me."—Macbeth, act iv. sc. 3, line 321.]
When slow Disease, with all her host of Pains,
Chills the warm tide, which flows along the veins;
When Health, affrighted, spreads her rosy wing,
And flies with every changing gale of spring;
Not to the aching frame alone confin'd,
Unyielding pangs assail the drooping mind:
What grisly forms, the spectre-train of woe,
Bid shuddering Nature shrink beneath the blow,
With Resignation wage relentless strife,
While Hope retires appall'd, and clings to life.10
Yet less the pang when, through the tedious hour,
Remembrance sheds around her genial power,
Calls back the vanish'd days to rapture given,
When Love was bliss, and Beauty form'd our heaven;
Or, dear to youth, pourtrays each childish scene,
Those fairy bowers, where all in turn have been.
As when, through clouds that pour the summer storm,
The orb of day unveils his distant form,
Gilds with faint beams the crystal dews of rain
And dimly twinkles o'er the watery plain;20
Thus, while the future dark and cheerless gleams,
The Sun of Memory, glowing through my dreams,
Though sunk the radiance of his former blaze,
To scenes far distant points his paler rays,
Still rules my senses with unbounded sway,
The past confounding with the present day.
Oft does my heart indulge the rising thought,
Which still recurs, unlook'd for and unsought;
My soul to Fancy's fond suggestion yields,
And roams romantic o'er her airy fields.30
Scenes of my youth, develop'd, crowd to view,
To which I long have bade a last adieu!
Seats of delight, inspiring youthful themes;
Friends lost to me, for aye, except in dreams;
Some, who in marble prematurely sleep,
Whose forms I now remember, but to weep;
Some, who yet urge the same scholastic course
Of early science, future fame the source;
Who, still contending in the studious race,
In quick rotation, fill the senior place!40
These, with a thousand visions, now unite,
To dazzle, though they please, my aching sight.
Ida! blest spot, where Science holds her reign,
How joyous, once, I join'd thy youthful train!
Bright, in idea, gleams thy lofty spire,
Again, I mingle with thy playful quire;
Our tricks of mischief, every childish game,
Unchang'd by time or distance, seem the same;
Through winding paths, along the glade I trace
The social smile of every welcome face;50
My wonted haunts, my scenes of joy or woe,
Each early boyish friend, or youthful foe,
Our feuds dissolv'd, but not my friendship past,—
I bless the former, and forgive the last.
Hours of my youth! when, nurtur'd in my breast,
To Love a stranger, Friendship made me blest,—
Friendship, the dear peculiar bond of youth,
When every artless bosom throbs with truth;
Untaught by worldly wisdom how to feign,
And check each impulse with prudential rein;60
When, all we feel, our honest souls disclose,
In love to friends, in open hate to foes;
No varnish'd tales the lips of youth repeat,
No dear-bought knowledge purchased by deceit;
Hypocrisy, the gift of lengthen'd years,
Matured by age, the garb of Prudence wears:
When, now, the Boy is ripen'd into Man,
His careful Sire chalks forth some wary plan;
Instructs his Son from Candour's path to shrink,
Smoothly to speak, and cautiously to think;70
Still to assent, and never to deny—
A patron's praise can well reward the lie:
And who, when Fortune's warning voice is heard,
Would lose his opening prospects for a word?
Although, against that word, his heart rebel,
And Truth, indignant, all his bosom swell.
Away with themes like this! not mine the task,
From flattering friends to tear the hateful mask;
Let keener bards delight in Satire's sting,
My Fancy soars not on Detraction's wing:80
Once, and but once, she aim'd a deadly blow,
To hurl Defiance on a secret Foe;
But when that foe, from feeling or from shame,
The cause unknown, yet still to me the same,
Warn'd by some friendly hint, perchance, retir'd,
With this submission all her rage expired.
From dreaded pangs that feeble Foe to save,
She hush'd her young resentment, and forgave.
Or, if my Muse a Pedant's portrait drew,
Pomposus' virtues are but known to few:90
I never fear'd the young usurper's nod,
And he who wields must, sometimes, feel the rod.
If since on Granta's failings, known to all
Who share the converse of a college hall,
She sometimes trifled in a lighter strain,
'Tis past, and thus she will not sin again;
Soon must her early song for ever cease,
And, all may rail, when I shall rest in peace.
Here, first remember'd be the joyous band,
Who hail'd me chief, obedient to command;100
Who join'd with me, in every boyish sport,
Their first adviser, and their last resort;
Nor shrunk beneath the upstart pedant's frown,
Or all the sable glories of his gown;
Who, thus, transplanted from his father's school,
Unfit to govern, ignorant of rule—
Succeeded him, whom all unite to praise,
The dear preceptor of my early days,
Probus, the pride of science, and the boast—
To Ida now, alas! for ever lost!110
With him, for years, we search'd the classic page,
And fear'd the Master, though we lov'd the Sage:
Retir'd at last, his small yet peaceful seat
From learning's labour is the blest retreat.
Pomposus fills his magisterial chair;
Pomposus governs,—but, my Muse, forbear:
Contempt, in silence, be the pedant's lot,
His name and precepts be alike forgot;
No more his mention shall my verse degrade,—
To him my tribute is already paid.120
High, through those elms with hoary branches crown'd
Fair Ida's bower adorns the landscape round;
There Science, from her favour'd seat, surveys
The vale where rural Nature claims her praise;
To her awhile resigns her youthful train,
Who move in joy, and dance along the plain;
In scatter'd groups, each favour'd haunt pursue,
Repeat old pastimes, and discover new;
Flush'd with his rays, beneath the noontide Sun,
In rival bands, between the wickets run,130
Drive o'er the sward the ball with active force,
Or chase with nimble feet its rapid course.
But these with slower steps direct their way,
Where Brent's cool waves in limpid currents stray,
While yonder few search out some green retreat,
And arbours shade them from the summer heat:
Others, again, a pert and lively crew.
Some rough and thoughtless stranger plac'd in view,
With frolic quaint their antic jests expose,
And tease the grumbling rustic as he goes;140
Nor rest with this, but many a passing fray
Tradition treasures for a future day:
"'Twas here the gather'd swains for vengeance fought,
And here we earn'd the conquest dearly bought;
Here have we fled before superior might,
And here renew'd the wild tumultuous fight."
While thus our souls with early passions swell,
In lingering tones resounds the distant bell;
Th' allotted hour of daily sport is o'er,
And Learning beckons from her temple's door.150
No splendid tablets grace her simple hall,
But ruder records fill the dusky wall:
There, deeply carv'd, behold! each Tyro's name
Secures its owner's academic fame;
Here mingling view the names of Sire and Son,
The one long grav'd, the other just begun:
These shall survive alike when Son and Sire,
Beneath one common stroke of fate expire;
Perhaps, their last memorial these alone,
Denied, in death, a monumental stone,160
Whilst to the gale in mournful cadence wave
The sighing weeds, that hide their nameless grave.
And, here, my name, and many an early friend's,
Along the wall in lengthen'd line extends.
Though, still, our deeds amuse the youthful race,
Who tread our steps, and fill our former place,
Who young obeyed their lords in silent awe,
Whose nod commanded, and whose voice was law;
And now, in turn, possess the reins of power,
To rule, the little Tyrants of an hour;170
Though sometimes, with the Tales of ancient day,
They pass the dreary Winter's eve away;
"And, thus, our former rulers stemm'd the tide,
And, thus, they dealt the combat, side by side;
Just in this place, the mouldering walls they scaled,
Nor bolts, nor bars, against their strength avail'd;
Here Probus came, the rising fray to quell,
And, here, he falter'd forth his last farewell;
And, here, one night abroad they dared to roam,
While bold Pomposus bravely staid at home;"180
While thus they speak, the hour must soon arrive,
When names of these, like ours, alone survive:
Yet a few years, one general wreck will whelm
The faint remembrance of our fairy realm.
Dear honest race! though now we meet no more,
One last long look on what we were before—
Our first kind greetings, and our last adieu—
Drew tears from eyes unus'd to weep with you.
Through splendid circles, Fashion's gaudy world,
Where Folly's glaring standard waves unfurl'd,190
I plung'd to drown in noise my fond regret,
And all I sought or hop'd was to forget:
Vain wish! if, chance, some well-remember'd face,
Some old companion of my early race,
Advanc'd to claim his friend with honest joy,
My eyes, my heart, proclaim'd me still a boy;
The glittering scene, the fluttering groups around,
Were quite forgotten when my friend was found;
The smiles of Beauty, (for, alas! I've known
What 'tis to bend before Love's mighty throne;)200
The smiles of Beauty, though those smiles were dear,
Could hardly charm me, when that friend was near:
My thoughts bewilder'd in the fond surprise,
The woods of Ida danc'd before my eyes;
I saw the sprightly wand'rers pour along,
I saw, and join'd again the joyous throng;
Panting, again I trac'd her lofty grove,
And Friendship's feelings triumph'd over Love.
Yet, why should I alone with such delight
Retrace the circuit of my former flight?210
Is there no cause beyond the common claim,
Endear'd to all in childhood's very name?
Ah! sure some stronger impulse vibrates here,
Which whispers friendship will be doubly dear
To one, who thus for kindred hearts must roam,
And seek abroad, the love denied at home.
Those hearts, dear Ida, have I found in thee,
A home, a world, a paradise to me.
Stern Death forbade my orphan youth to share
The tender guidance of a Father's care;220
Can Rank, or e'en a Guardian's name supply
The love, which glistens in a Father's eye?
For this, can Wealth, or Title's sound atone,
Made, by a Parent's early loss, my own?
What Brother springs a Brother's love to seek?
What Sister's gentle kiss has prest my cheek?
For me, how dull the vacant moments rise,
To no fond bosom link'd by kindred ties!
Oft, in the progress of some fleeting dream,
Fraternal smiles, collected round me seem;230
While still the visions to my heart are prest,
The voice of Love will murmur in my rest:
I hear—I wake—and in the sound rejoice!
I hear again,—but, ah! no Brother's voice.
A Hermit, 'midst of crowds, I fain must stray
Alone, though thousand pilgrims fill the way;
While these a thousand kindred wreaths entwine,
I cannot call one single blossom mine:
What then remains? in solitude to groan,
To mix in friendship, or to sigh alone?240
Thus, must I cling to some endearing hand,
And none more dear, than Ida's social band.
Alonzo! best and dearest of my friends,
Thy name ennobles him, who thus commends:
From this fond tribute thou canst gain no praise;
The praise is his, who now that tribute pays.
Oh! in the promise of thy early youth,
If Hope anticipate the words of Truth!
Some loftier bard shall sing thy glorious name,
To build his own, upon thy deathless fame:250
Friend of my heart, and foremost of the list
Of those with whom I lived supremely blest;
Oft have we drain'd the font of ancient lore,
Though drinking deeply, thirsting still the more;
Yet, when Confinement's lingering hour was done,
Our sports, our studies, and our souls were one:
Together we impell'd the flying ball,
Together waited in our tutor's hall;
Together join'd in cricket's manly toil,
Or shar'd the produce of the river's spoil;260
Or plunging from the green declining shore,
Our pliant limbs the buoyant billows bore:
In every element, unchang'd, the same,
All, all that brothers should be, but the name.
Nor, yet, are you forgot, my jocund Boy!
Davus, the harbinger of childish joy;
For ever foremost in the ranks of fun,
The laughing herald of the harmless pun;
Yet, with a breast of such materials made,
Anxious to please, of pleasing half afraid;270
Candid and liberal, with a heart of steel
In Danger's path, though not untaught to feel.
Still, I remember, in the factious strife,
The rustic's musket aim'd against my life:
High pois'd in air the massy weapon hung,
A cry of horror burst from every tongue:
Whilst I, in combat with another foe,
Fought on, unconscious of th' impending blow;
Your arm, brave Boy, arrested his career—
Forward you sprung, insensible to fear;280
Disarm'd, and baffled by your conquering hand,
The grovelling Savage roll'd upon the sand:
An act like this, can simple thanks repay?
Or all the labours of a grateful lay?
Oh no! whene'er my breast forgets the deed,
That instant, Davus, it deserves to bleed.
Lycus! on me thy claims are justly great:
Thy milder virtues could my Muse relate,
To thee, alone, unrivall'd, would belong
The feeble efforts of my lengthen'd song.290
Well canst thou boast, to lead in senates fit,
A Spartan firmness, with Athenian wit:
Though yet, in embryo, these perfections shine,
Lycus! thy father's fame will soon be thine.
Where Learning nurtures the superior mind,
What may we hope, from genius thus refin'd;
When Time, at length, matures thy growing years,
How wilt thou tower, above thy fellow peers!
Prudence and sense, a spirit bold and free,
With Honour's soul, united beam in thee.300
Shall fair Euryalus, pass by unsung?
From ancient lineage, not unworthy, sprung:
What, though one sad dissension bade us part,
That name is yet embalm'd within my heart,
Yet, at the mention, does that heart rebound,
And palpitate, responsive to the sound;
Envy dissolved our ties, and not our will:
We once were friends,—I'll think, we are so still.
A form unmatch'd in Nature's partial mould,
A heart untainted, we, in thee, behold:310
Yet, not the Senate's thunder thou shalt wield,
Nor seek for glory, in the tented field:
To minds of ruder texture, these be given—
Thy soul shall nearer soar its native heaven.
Haply, in polish'd courts might be thy seat,
But, that thy tongue could never forge deceit:
The courtier's supple bow, and sneering smile,
The flow of compliment, the slippery wile,
Would make that breast, with indignation, burn
And, all the glittering snares, to tempt thee, spurn.320
Domestic happiness will stamp thy fate;
Sacred to love, unclouded e'er by hate;
The world admire thee, and thy friends adore;—
Ambition's slave, alone, would toil for more.
Now last, but nearest, of the social band,
See honest, open, generous Cleon stand;
With scarce one speck, to cloud the pleasing scene,
No vice degrades that purest soul serene.
On the same day, our studious race begun,
On the same day, our studious race was run;330
Thus, side by side, we pass'd our first career,
Thus, side by side, we strove for many a year;
At last, concluded our scholastic life,
We neither conquer'd in the classic strife:
As Speakers, each supports an equal name,
And crowds allow to both a partial fame;
To soothe a youthful Rival's early pride,
Though Cleon's candour would the palm divide,
Yet Candour's self compels me now to own,
Justice awards it to my Friend alone.340
Oh! Friends regretted, Scenes for ever dear,
Remembrance hails you with her warmest tear!
Drooping, she bends o'er pensive Fancy's urn,
To trace the hours, which never can return;
Yet, with the retrospection loves to dwell,
And soothe the sorrows of her last farewell!
Yet greets the triumph of my boyish mind,
As infant laurels round my head were twin'd;
When Probus' praise repaid my lyric song,
Or plac'd me higher in the studious throng;350
Or when my first harangue receiv'd applause,
His sage instruction the primeval cause,
What gratitude, to him, my soul possest,
While hope of dawning honours fill'd my breast!
For all my humble fame, to him alone,
The praise is due, who made that fame my own.
Oh! could I soar above these feeble lays,
These young effusions of my early days,
To him my Muse her noblest strain would give,
The song might perish, but the theme might live.360
Yet, why for him the needless verse essay?
His honour'd name requires no vain display:
By every son of grateful Ida blest,
It finds an echo in each youthful breast;
A fame beyond the glories of the proud,
Or all the plaudits of the venal crowd.
Ida! not yet exhausted is the theme,
Nor clos'd the progress of my youthful dream.
How many a friend deserves the grateful strain!
What scenes of childhood still unsung remain!370
Yet let me hush this echo of the past,
This parting song, the dearest and the last;
And brood in secret o'er those hours of joy,
To me a silent and a sweet employ,
While, future hope and fear alike unknown,
I think with pleasure on the past alone;
Yes, to the past alone, my heart confine,
And chase the phantom of what once was mine.
Ida! still o'er thy hills in joy preside,
And proudly steer through Time's eventful tide:380
Still may thy blooming Sons thy name revere,
Smile in thy bower, but quit thee with a tear;—
That tear, perhaps, the fondest which will flow,
O'er their last scene of happiness below:
Tell me, ye hoary few, who glide along,
The feeble Veterans of some former throng,
Whose friends, like Autumn leaves by tempests whirl'd,
Are swept for ever from this busy world;
Revolve the fleeting moments of your youth,
While Care has yet withheld her venom'd tooth;390
Say, if Remembrance days like these endears,
Beyond the rapture of succeeding years?
Say, can Ambition's fever'd dream bestow
So sweet a balm to soothe your hours of woe?
Can Treasures hoarded for some thankless Son,
Can Royal Smiles, or Wreaths by slaughter won,
Can Stars or Ermine, Man's maturer Toys,
(For glittering baubles are not left to Boys,)
Recall one scene so much belov'd to view,
As those where Youth her garland twin'd for you?400
Ah, no! amid the gloomy calm of age
You turn with faltering hand life's varied page,
Peruse the record of your days on earth,
Unsullied only where it marks your birth;
Still, lingering, pause above each chequer'd leaf,
And blot with Tears the sable lines of Grief;
Where Passion o'er the theme her mantle threw,
Or weeping Virtue sigh'd a faint adieu;
But bless the scroll which fairer words adorn,
Trac'd by the rosy finger of the Morn;410
When Friendship bow'd before the shrine of truth,
And Love, without his pinion, smil'd on Youth.
- [The words, "that schoolboy thing," etc. (see letter to H. Drury, Jan. 8, 1808), evidently apply, not as Moore intimates, to this period, but to the lines "On a Change of Masters," etc., July, 1805 (see letter to W. Bankes, March 6, 1807).]
- [The motto was prefixed in Hours of Idleness.]
Hence! thou unvarying song, of varied loves,
Which youth commends, maturer age reproves;
Which every rhyming bard repeats by rote,
By thousands echo'd to the self-same note!
Tir'd of the dull , unceasing, copious strain,
My soul is panting to be free again.
Farewell! ye nymphs, propitious to my verse,
Some other Damon, will your charms rehearse;
Some other paint his pangs, in hope of bliss,
Or dwell in rapture on your nectar'd kiss.
Those beauties, grateful to my ardent sight,
No more entrance my senses in delight;
Those bosoms, form'd of animated snow,
Alike are tasteless and unfeeling now.
These to some happier lover, I resign;
The memory of those joys alone is mine.
Censure no more shall brand my humble name,
The child of passion and the fool of fame.
Weary of love, of life, devour'd with spleen,
I rest a perfect Timon, not nineteen;
World! I renounce thee! all my hope's o'ercast!
One sigh I give thee, but that sigh's the last.
Friends, foes, and females, now alike, adieu!
Would I could add remembrance of you, too!
Yet though the future, dark and cheerless gleams,
The curse of memory, hovering in my dreams,
Depicts with glowing pencil all those years,
Ere yet, my cup, empoison'd, flow'd with tears,
Still rules my senses with tyrannic sway,
The past confounding with the present day.
Alas! in vain I check the maddening thought;
It still recurs, unlook'd for and unsought:
My soul to Fancy's, etc., etc., as at line 29.—
[P. on V. Occasions, p. 109, sq.]
- [Lines 43-98 were added in Hours of Idleness.]
- [Newton Hanson relates that on one occasion he accompanied his father to Harrow on Speech Day to see his brother Hargreaves Hanson and Byron. "On our arrival at Harrow, we set out in search of Hargreaves and Byron, but the latter was not at his tutor's. Three or four lads, hearing my father's inquiries, set off at full speed to find him. They soon discovered him, and, laughing most heartily, called out, 'Hallo, Byron! here's a gentleman wants you.' And what do you think? He had got on Drury's hat. I can still remember the arch cock of Byron's eye at the hat and then at my father, and the fun and merriment it caused him and all of us whilst, during the day, he was perambulating the highways and byeways of Ida with the hat on. 'Harrow Speech Day and the Governor's Hat' was one of the standing rallying-points for Lord Byron ever after."]
- Cunning with age.—[MS. Newstead.]
- [Dr. Butler, then Head-master of Harrow. Had Byron published another edition of these poems, it was his intention to replace these four lines by the four which follow:—
"If once my muse a harsher portrait drew,
Warm with her wrongs, and deem'd the likeness true,
By cooler judgment taught, her fault she owns,—
With noble minds a fault confess'd, atones."—[MS. M.]
See also allusion in letter to Mr. Henry Drury, June 25, 1809.—Moore's Note.]
- [On the retirement of Dr. Drury, three candidates for the vacant chair presented themselves—Messrs. Drury, Evans, and Butler. On the first movement to which this contest gave rise in the school, young Wildman was at the head of the party for Mark Drury, while Byron held himself aloof from any. Anxious, however, to have him as an ally, one of the Drury faction said to Wildman, "Byron, I know, will not join, because he does not choose to act second to any one, but, by giving up the leadership to him, you may at once secure him." This Wildman did, and Byron took the command.—Life, p. 29.]
- Nor shrunk before.—[Hours of Idleness.]
Careless to soothe the pedant's furious frown,
Scarcely respecting his majestic gown;
By which, in vain, he gain'd a borrow'd grace,
Adding new terror to his sneering face.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- Dr. Drury. This most able and excellent man retired from his situation in March, 1805, after having resided thirty-five years at Harrow; the last twenty as head-master; an office he held with equal honour to himself and advantage to the very extensive school over which he presided. Panegyric would here be superfluous: it would be useless to enumerate qualifications which were never doubted. A considerable contest took place between three rival candidates for his vacant chair: of this I can only say—
Si mea cum vestris valuissent volta, Pelasgi!
Non foret ambiguus tanti certaminis hæres.
[Byron's letters from Harrow contain the same high praise of Dr. Drury. In one, of November 2, 1804, he says, "There is so much of the gentleman, so much mildness, and nothing of pedantry in his character, that I cannot help liking him, and will remember his instructions with gratitude as long as I live." A week after, he adds, "I revere Dr. Drury. I dread offending him; not, however, through fear, but the respect I bear him makes me unhappy when I am under his displeasure." Dr. Drury has related the secret of the influence he obtained: the glance which told him that the lad was "a wild mountain colt," told him also that he could be "led with a silken string."]
With him for years I search'd the classic page,
Culling the treasures of the lette'd sage.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
Contempt, in silence, be the pedant's lot.
Soon shall his shallow precepts be forgot;
No more his mention shall my pen degrade—
My tribute to his name's already paid.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
Another variant for a new edition ran—
Another fills his magisterial chair;
Reluctant Ida owns a stranger's care;
Oh! may like honours crown his future name:
If such his virtues, such shall be his fame.—[MS. M.]
- This alludes to a character printed in a former private edition [P. on V. Occasions] for the perusal of some friends, which, with many other pieces, is withheld from the present volume. To draw the attention of the public to insignificance would be deservedly reprobated; and another reason, though not of equal consequence, may be given in the following couplet:—
"Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a Butterfly upon a wheel?"
Prologue to the Satires: Pope.
[Hours of Idleness, p. 154, note.] [(See the lines "On a Change of Masters at a Great Public School," ante, p. 16.)
The following lines, attached to the Newstead MS. draft of "Childish Recollections," are aimed at Pomposus:—
"Just half a Pedagogue, and half a Fop,
Not formed to grace the pulpit, but the Shop;
The Counter, not the Desk, should be his place,
Who deals out precepts, as if dealing Lace;
Servile in mind, from Elevation proud,
In argument, less sensible than loud,
Through half the continent, the Coxcomb's been,
And stuns you with the Wonders he has seen:
'How in Pompeii's vault he found the page,
Of some long lost, and long lamented Sage,
And doubtless he the Letters would have trac'd,
Had they not been by age and dust effac'd;'
This single specimen will serve to shew,
The weighty lessons of this reverend Beau,
Bombast in vain would want of Genius cloke,
For feeble fires evaporate in smoke;
A Boy, o'er Boys he holds a trembling reign,
More fit than they to seek some School again."]
- [Lines 121-243 were added in Hours of Idleness.]
- [During a rebellion at Harrow, the poet prevented the school-room from being burnt down, by pointing out to the boys the names of their fathers and grandfathers on the walls.—Medwin's Conversations (1824), p. 85.]
- [Byron elsewhere thus describes his usual course of life while at Harrow: "always cricketing, rebelling, rowing, and in all manner of mischiefs." One day he tore down the gratings from the window of the hall; and when asked by Dr. Butler his reason for the outrage, coolly answered, "because they darkened the room."—Life, p. 29.]
- "Lord Clare." [Annotated copy of P. on V. Occasions in the British Museum.] [Lines 243-264, as the note in Byron's handwriting explains, were originally intended to apply to Lord Clare. In Hours of Idleness "Joannes" became "Alonzo," and the same lines were employed to celebrate the memory of his friend the Hon. John Wingfield, of the Coldstream Guards, brother to Richard, fourth Viscount Powerscourt. He died at Coimbra in 1811, in his twentieth year. Byron at one time gave him the preference over all other friends.]
- Joannes! best and dearest of my friends.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
Could aught inspire me with poetic fire.
For thee, alone, I'd strike the hallow'd lyre;
But, to some abler hand, the task I wave,
Whose strains immortal may outlive the grave.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- Our lusty limbs.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
—— the buoyant waters bore.—[Hours of Idleness.]
- [The Rev. John Cecil Tattersall, B.A., of Christ Church, Oxford, who died December 8, 1812, at Hall's Place, Kent, aged twenty-three.]
- [The "factious strife" was brought on by the breaking up of school, and the dismissal of some volunteers from drill, both happening at the same hour. The butt-end of a musket was aimed at Byron's head, and would have felled him to the ground, but for the interposition of Tattersall.—Life, p. 25.]
Thus did you save that life I scarcely prize—
A life unworthy such a sacrifice.
Oh! when my breast forgets the gen'rous deed.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- [John Fitzgibbon, second Earl of Clare (1792-1851), afterwards Governor of Bombay, of whom Byron said, in 1822, "I have always loved him better than any male thing in the world."—"I never," was his language in 1821, "hear the word 'Clare' without a beating of the heart even now; and I write it with the feelings of 1803-4-5, ad infinitum." A remonstrance which Lord Clare addressed to him at school, was found among his papers (as were most of the notes of his early favourites), and on the back of it was an endorsement which is a fresh testimony of his affection:—"This and another letter were written at Harrow, by my then and, I hope, ever beloved friend, Lord Clare, when we were both schoolboys; and sent to my study in consequence of some childish misunderstanding,—the only one which ever arose between us. It was of short duration, and I retain this note solely for the purpose of submitting it to his perusal, that we may smile over the recollection of the insignificance of our first and last quarrel." See, also, Byron's account of his accidental meeting with Lord Clare in Italy in 1821, as recorded in Detached Thoughts, Nov. 5, 1821; in letters to Moore, March 1 and June 8, 1822; and Mme. Guiccioli's description of his emotion on seeing Clare (My Recollections of Lord Byron, ed. 1869, p. 156).]
For ever to possess a friend in thee,
Was bliss unhop'd, though not unsought by me;
Thy softer soul was formed for love alone,
To ruder passions and to hate unknown;
Thy mind, in union with thy beauteous form,
Was gentle, but unfit to stem the storm;
That face, an index of celestial worth,
Proclaim'd a heart abstracted from the earth.
Oft, when depress'd with sad, foreboding gloom,
I sat reclin'd upon our favourite tomb,
I've seen those sympathetic eyes o'erflow
With kind compassion for thy comrade's woe;
Or, when less mournful subjects formed our themes,
We tried a thousand fond romantic schemes,
Oft hast thou sworn, in friendship's soothing tone,
Whatever wish was mine, must be thine own.
The next can boast to lead in senates fit,
A Spartan firmness, with Athenian wit;
Tho' yet, in embryo, these perfections shine,
Clarus! thy father's fame will soon be thine.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- [John Fitzgibbon, first Earl of Clare (1749-1802), became Attorney-General and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. In the latter years of the independent Irish Parliament, he took an active part in politics in opposition to Grattan and the national party, and was distinguished as a powerful, if bitter, speaker. He was made Earl of Clare in 1795.]
- [George John, fifth Earl of Delawarr.—"I am happy enough, and comfortable here," says Byron, in a letter from Harrow of Oct. 25, 1804. "My friends are not numerous, but select. Among the principal, I rank Lord Delawarr, who is very amiable, and my particular friend."—"Nov. 2, 1804. Lord Delawarr is considerably younger than me, but the most good-tempered, amiable, clever fellow in the universe. To all which he adds the quality (a good one in the eyes of women) of being remarkably handsome. Delawarr and myself are, in a manner, connected; for one of my forefathers, in Charles I.'s time, married into their family." The allusion in the text to their subsequent quarrel, receives further light from a letter which the poet addressed to Lord Clare under date, February 6, 1807. (See, too, lines "To George, Earl Delawarr," p. 126.) The first Lord Byron was twice married. His first wife was Cecilie, widow of Sir Francis Bindlose, and daughter of Thomas, third Lord Delawarr. He died childless, and was succeeded by his brother Richard, the poet's ancestor. His younger brother, Sir Robert Byron, married Lucy, another daughter of the third Lord Delawarr.]
- Where is the restless fool, would wish for more?—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- [Edward Noel Long, who was drowned by the foundering of a transport on the voyage to Lisbon with his regiment, in 1809. (See lines "To Edward Noel Long, Esq.," post, p. 184.)]
- This alludes to the public speeches delivered at the school where the author was educated.
As speakers, each supports a rival name,
Though neither seeks to damn the other's fame,
Pomposus sits, unequal to decide,
With youthful candour, we the palm divide.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
Yet in the retrospection finds relief,
And revels in the luxury of grief.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
- ["My qualities were much more oratorical than poetical, and Dr. Drury, my grand patron, had a great notion that I should turn out an orator from my fluency, my turbulence, my voice, my copiousness of declamation, and my action. I remember that my first declamation astonished Dr. Drury into some unwonted (for he was economical of such) and sudden compliments, before the declaimers at our first rehearsal."—Byron Diary. "I certainly was much pleased with Lord Byron's attitude, gesture, and delivery, as well as with his composition. To my surprise, he suddenly diverged from the written composition, with a boldness and rapidity sufficient to alarm me, lest he should fail in memory as to the conclusion. I questioned him, why he had altered his declamation? He declared he had made no alteration, and did not know, in speaking, that he had deviated from it one letter. I believed him, and from a knowledge of his temperament, am convinced that he was hurried on to expressions and colourings more striking than what his pen had expressed."—Dr. Drury, Life, p. 20.]
When, yet a novice in the mimic art,
I feign'd the transports of a vengeful heart;
When, as the Royal Slave, I trod the stage,
To vent in Zanga, more than mortal rage;
The praise of Probus, made me feel more proud,
Than all the plaudits of the list'ning crowd.
Ah! vain endeavour in this childish strain
To soothe the woes of which I thus complain!
What can avail this fruitless loss of time,
To measure sorrow, in a jingling rhyme!
No social solace from a friend, is near,
And heartless strangers drop no feeling tear,
I seek not joy in Woman's sparkling eye,
The smiles of Beauty cannot check the sigh.
Adieu, thou world! thy pleasure's still a dream,
Thy virtue, but a visionary theme;
Thy years of vice, on years of folly roll,
Till grinning death assigns the destin'd goal,
Where all are hastening to the dread abode,
To meet the judgment of a righteous God;
Mix'd in the concourse of a thoughtless throng,
A mourner, midst of mirth, I glide along;
A wretched, isolated, gloomy thing,
Curst by reflection's deep corroding sting;
But not that mental sting, which stabs within,
The dark avenger of unpunished sin;
The silent shaft, which goads the guilty wretch
Extended on a rack's untiring stretch:
Conscience that sting, that shaft to him supplies—
His mind the rack, from which he ne'er can rise.
For me, whate'er my folly, or my fear,
One cheerful comfort still is cherish'd here.
No dread internal, haunts my hours of rest,
No dreams of injured innocence infest;
Of hope, of peace, of almost all bereft,
Conscience, my last but welcome guest, is left.
Slander's empoison'd breath, may blast my name,
Envy delights to blight the buds of fame:
Deceit may chill the current of my blood,
And freeze affection's warm impassion'd flood;
Presaging horror, darken every sense,
Even here will conscience be my best defence;
My bosom feeds no "worm which ne'er can die:"
Not crimes I mourn, but happiness gone by.
Thus crawling on with many a reptile vile,
My heart is bitter, though my cheek may smile;
No more with former bliss, my heart is glad;
Hope yields to anguish and my soul is sad;
From fond regret, no future joy can save;
Remembrance slumbers only in the grave.
[P. on V. Occasions.]
- The song might perish, but the theme must live.—[Hours of Idleness.]
- —— his venom'd tooth.—[Hours of Idleness.]
- "L'Amitié est l'Amour sans ailes," is a French proverb. [See the lines so entitled, p. 220.]