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pened to be on the table a roasted capon, the good looks of which so powerfully tempted him, that, after wistfully eyeing it, he was on the point of taking a leg; but suddenly recollecting the rule he had imposed on himself, he left it in the dish, desiring bis servant to let the capon be kept till the next day, when his month would be out.
• Lord Byron pretended, that the reason of his abstaining from meat, and of his taking nourishinent only once in the course of twenty-four hours, was his having experienced, that his mental powers became thereby more alive and powerful; for nothing blunted or rendered them more torpid than substantial food or frequent eating. Though it is an incontrovertible fact, as indeed every one must, more or less, have experienced, that the stomach and digestive organs materially operate on the functions of the mind, this was not the cause of Lord Byron's abstemiousness : the real motive being the fear of becoming corpulent, which haunted him continually, and induced him to adopt measures very injurious to his health. I frequently heard him say, “I especially dread, in this world, two things, to which I have reason to believe I am equally predisposedgrowing fat and growing mad; and it would be difficult for me to decide, were I forced to make a choice, which of these conditions I would choose in preference.” To avoid corpulence, not satisfied with eating so sparingly, and renouncing the use of every kind of food that he deemed nourishing, he had recourse almost daily to strong drastic pills, of which extract of colocynth, gamboge, scammony, &c. were the chief ingredients; and if he observed the slightest increase in the size of his wrists or waist, which he measured with scrupulous exactness every morning, he immediately sought to reduce it by taking a large dose of Epsom salts, besides the usual pills. No petit-maitre could pay more sedulous attention than he did to external appearance, or consult with more complacency the looking-glass. Even when en negligé, he studied the nature of the postures he assumed as attentively as if he had been sitting for his picture ; and so much value did he attach to the whiteness of his hands, that in order not to suffer “ the winds of heaven to visit them too roughly,” he constantly, and even within doors, wore gloves. The lameness, which he had from his birth, was a source of actual misery to him; and it was curious to notice with how much coquetry he endeavoured, by a thousand petty tricks, to conceal from strangers this unfortunate malconformation. If any one fixed a look of curiosity on his foot, he considered it as paramount to a personal insult, and he could not easily forgive it. Sooner than confess, that nature had been guilty of this original defect, be preferred attributing his lameness to the improper treatment of a sprained ankle while he was yet a child; and he even vented himself bitterly against his mother for having neglected to place him under the care of a competent surgeon.
Besides the medicines, I have mentioned he had daily recourse to soda powders or calcined magnesia, in order to neutralize the troublesome acidities, which the immoderate use of Rhenish wines and ardent spirits continually generated in his debilitated stomach. Nothing could be more strange, and at the same time more injurious to health, than the regimen which he had been induced to adopt, and to which, during several years, he unalterably adhered. He rose at half-past ten o'clock, when, by way of breakfast, he took a large basinful of a strong infusion
of green tea, without either sugar or milk ; a drink, that could not but prove exceedingly prejudicial to a constitution so essentially nervous. At half-past eleven he would set out on a two hours' ride ; and on his return his singular and only meal was served up. Having dined, he immediately withdrew to his study, where be remained till dark ; when, more willingly than at any other time, he would indulge in conversation : and afterwards he would play at draughts for a while, or take up some volume on light subjects--such as novels, memoirs, or travels. He had unfortunately contracted the habit of drinking immoderately every evening; and almost at every page he would take a glass of wine, and often of undiluted Hollands, till he felt himself under the full influence of liquor. He would then pace up and down the room till three or four o'clock in the morning ; and these hours, he often confessed, were most propitious to the inspirations of his muse.
This mode of life could not but prove ruinous to his constitution, which, however robust it might originally have been, must necessarily sink under shocks so powerful and so often repeated. The disagreeable symptoms of dyspepsia obliged him to have recourse to the daily use of pharmacy, which, instead of annoying him, seemed to be a business of pleasure, persuaded as he was, that there was no other way of obviating the misfortune of corpulency: but after the evanescent stimulation of alcohol had subsided, hypochondriasis, the inseparable companion of intemperance, plunged him in a condition often bordering on despair.
• From the moment Lord Byron embarked in the Greek cause, his mind seemed so completely absorbed by the subject, that it rendered him deaf to the calls of the muse; at least, he repeatedly assured us, that, since his departure from Genoa, he had not written a single line: and though it appeared from his conversation, that he was arranging in his head the materials of a future canto of Don Juan, he did not feel his poetical vein sufficiently strong to induce him to venture on the undertaking. It was an invariable habit with him to write by fits and starts, when the impetuosity of his Pegasus could no longer be restrained; and he often observed, that the productions of his pen, to which he was most partial, were those which he had composed with the greatest rapidity. If he ever wrote any thing worth perusing, he had done it, he said, spontaneously and at once; and the value of his poems might, according to him, be rated by the facility he had experienced in composing them, his worst productions (his dramatic pieces) being those that had given him most trouble. The Bride of Abydos was composed in less than a week ; the Corsair in the same space of time; and the Lamentation of Tasso, which he wrote at the request of Teresa of Ravenna, was the business only of two nights.
• During his stay at Metaxata, the portion of his time, which was not employed in correspondence with the different chiefs in Greece, and his friends in England, was devoted to reading. Novels, from his earliest youth, were the works in which he delighted most, and they formed almost his sole occupation. So prodigious was the number which he had perused, and so strong was the impression they had left on his memory, that he frequently defied us to mention one, however indifferent, that he had not read, and of which he could not give some account. Sir Walter Scott's were his favourites; and so great was the pleasure he derived from them, so often
had they banished from his mind the sad train of thoughts attendant on despondency, that he professed himself bound to their author by ties of the liveliest gratitude ; and though habitually frugal of praise, he constantly spoke of this distinguished writer in terms of the most lavish admiration. The conversation happening once to fall on modern poets, on being asked his opinion of Sir Walter, he observed : “I have received so many benefits from him as a novelist, that I cannot find it in my heart to criticise him as a poet.” Passing in review the rest of the poets, he gave to each, without exception, a few lashes of that playful, but often caustic satire, which invariably enlivened his conversation, and rendered it so piquant. Southey and Wordsworth served him as targets, against which to vent his bitterest sarcasms. We were not a little surprised to find that he did not spare even
* * * * * It was some time before he would let out what had indisposed him so much against a man, whom he had publicly called his friend; but he spoke at last of a letter, in which this friend had taken the liberty of censuring him rather freely on the immorality of certain passages of Don Juan : a liberty which was deemed highly misplaced, and by a person so excessively touchy as Lord Byron, and whose vanity, vulnerable on all sides, never overlooked the slightest offence, was not to be forgiven. Small reliance, it would appear, is to be placed on the friendship of poets for each other : like coquettes, they look with an evil eye at any one of their craft, who has pretensions to beauty and the slightest incident of displeasure is sufficient to cause them to throw off the mask that concealed their enmity.
Among Lord Byron's books there were very few poetical works; and, what may appear strange, he did not possess a copy of his own. Next to the British poets, those which he read in preference were the Italian-Ariosto and Dante more especially. With respect to the ancient classics, he was too indifferent a scholar to be able to peruse the originals with any degree of pleasure. He was as partial to the French prose writers as he was averse to their poets. He entertained a singular prejudice against every thing that bore the name of this nation; and it may be cited as a proof of the sway, which preconceived opinions exercised over his mind, that not only he would never visit any part of France, but purposely avoided even entering its confines ; and absolute necessity alone could induce him to express himself in the French tongue. Italian was the language he used in conversing with foreigners, and he spoke and wrote it with peculiar purity and elegance. It has been supposed by many, that Lord Byron was familiarly acquainted with German literature ; and critics in Europe have often laid imitation and even plagiarism to his charge ; yet he certainly understood scarcely one word of that language; and the only knowledge he possessed of the productions of the most celebrated German authors, was derived from the very limited translations of their works that have appeared in England.'—pp. 7--13.
Mr. Millingen, so far from finding Lord Byron to be that proud, reserved man, he had been led to expect, discovered in him thé merriest and most open of companions. Indeed, he was unguarded to a fault, for our author refuses to repeat many of the anecdotes which his noble friend had disclosed, so injurious would they prove to living persons. We pass over an account of Lord Byron's arrival
at Missolonghi, and his proceedings there, for the purpose of organizing his brigade, and for establishing concord amongst the Suliots. Mr. Millingen blames, with apparent justice, the improvident conduct of the Greek Committee in London, and particularly for having sent out Parry, of whose character our author does not speak in terms of any great respect. We quote the following anecdotes respecting this person :
• Sometimes, when his vein of humour flowed more copiously than usual, he would play tricks on individuals. Fletcher's boundless credulity afforded him an ever ready fund of amusement, and he one evening planned a farce, which was as well executed and as laughable as any ever exhibited on the stage. Having observed how nervous Parry had been, a few days before, during an earthquake, he felt desirous of renewing the ludicrous sight which the fat horror-struck figure of the major had exhibited on that occasion. He placed therefore fifty of his Suliois in the room above that where Parry slept, and towards midnight ordered them to shake the house, so as to imitate that phenomenon ; he himself at the same time banged the doors, and rushed down stairs, delighted to see the almost distracted engineer inıploring, tremblingly, the mercy of heaven. Parry was altogether a “ curious fish," an excellent mimic; and possessed a fund of quaint expressions, that made up for his deficiency of real wit. He could tell, in his coarse language, a good story, could perform the clown's or Falstaff's part very naturally, rant Richard the Third's or Hamlet's soliloquies in a mocktragic manner, unrivalled by any of the players of Bartholomew fair, and could always engender laughter enough to beguile the length of our rainy evenings. His description of the visit he paid to Bentham; their walk; Bentham's pursuit by a lady, named City-Barge, was highly humonrous, and pleased Lord Byron so much, that he purposed putting it in verse, like that of Gilpin's trip to Edmonton.
• It was soon perceived that the brandy-bottle was Parry's Castalian spring, and that unless he drank deep, his stories became dull. Lord Byron, in consequence, took constant care to keep him in good spirits ; but unfortunately, partly from inclination, and partly to keep him company, he drank himself to the same excess. One evening, by way of driving away the vexation he had experienced during the day, from an alter. cation with some one, whose name I do not now remember, Parry prescribed some punch of his own composition, so agreeable to Lord Byron's palate, that he drank immoderate quantities of it. To remove the burning sensation his lordship, soon after, began to experience, he ordered a bottle of cider; and having drank a glass of it, he said it was “excessively cold and pleasant." Scarcely had he said these words when he fell upon the floor, agitated by violent spasmodic movements of all his limbs. He foamed at the mouth, gnashed his teeth, and rolled his eyes like one in an epilepsy. After remaining about two minutes in this state his senses returned, and the first words he uttered were: "Is not this Sunday ?" On being answered in the affirmative, he said; “ I should have thought it most strange if it were not.”
• Doctor Bruno, his private physician, proposed opening a vein; but finding it impossible to obtain his consent, he applied leeches to the temples, which bled so copiously as almost to bring on syncope. Alarmed to
see the difficulty Dr. Bruno experienced in endeavouring to stop the hemorrhage, Lord Byron sent for me, and I succeeded iu stopping the bleeding by the application of lunar caustic. The acute pain, produced by this slight operation, rendered him more than ever impatient, and made him say, “ In this world there is nothing but pain." '-pp. 116--118.
Having quoted thus much from the work before us respecting Lord Byron, we shall make no apology for concluding our notice of the illustrious poet, with an account by Mr. Millingen, of his last illness and death,—an account which, it will be seen, einbraces some very remarkable particulars.
Riding was the only occupation that procured him any relief; and even this was but momentary. On the 9th of April, prolonging his ride further than usual, he was on his return caught in a shower, and remaining exposed to it for more than an hour, he complained in the evening of shooting pains in his hips and loins; but he found himself, the next morning, sufficiently well to ride out for a short time. On his return, however, he scolded his groom severely, for having placed on the horse the same wet saddle he had used on the preceding day.
Mr. Finlay (then a staunch Odyssean), had been deputed to engage Lord Byron to assist at the congress at Salona. This gentleman and myself called upon him in the evening; when we found him lying on a sofa, complaining of a slight fever and of pains in the articulation. He was at first more gay than usual; but, on a sudden, he became pensive, and after remaining some few minutes in silence, he said that during the whole day he had reflected a great deal on a prediction, which had been made to him, when a boy, by a famed fortune-teller in Scotland. His mother, who firmly believed in cheromancy and astrology, had sent for this person, and desired him to inform her what would be the future destiny of her son. Having examined attentively the palm of his hand, the man looked at him for a while stedfastly, and then with a solemn voice, exclaimed : “ Beware of your thirty-seventh year, my young lord ; beware!"
• He had entered on his thirty-seventh year on the 22d of January: and it was evident from the emotion with which he related this circumstance, that the caution of the palmist had produced a deep impression on his mind, which in many respects was so superstitious, that we thought proper to accuse him of superstition :-“ To say the truth,” answered his lordship, “ 1 find it equally difficult to know what to believe in this world, and what not to believe. There are as many plausible reasons for inducing me to die a bigot, as there have been to make me hitherto live a freethinker. You will, I know, ridicule my belief in lucky and unlucky days; but no consideration can now induce me to undertake any thing either on a Friday or a Sunday. I am positive it would terminate unfortunately. Every one of my misfortunes, and, God knows, I have had my share, have happened to me on one of those days. You will ridicule, also, a belief in incorporeal beings. Without instancing to you the men of profound genius, who have acknowledged their existence, I could give you the details of my friend Shelley's conversations with his familiar. Did he not apprize me, that he had been informed by that familiar that he would end his life by drowning; and did I not, a short time after, perform, on the sea beach, his funeral rites ?" !—pp. 128—130.