Play Coquette: Laura and Gail Chronicles, Book 3
He was married on 2 January , from Sir Ralph Milbanke's house. He sent the fifty pounds to Mr. Hay the same day, without waiting till he was asked for the money. Swift says, 'No wise man ever married'; but, for a fool, I think it is the most ambrosial of all possible future states. The honeymoon was spent at Sir Ralph Milbanke's house; after that, the young couple went to their house in Piccadilly.
But here the worries of housekeeping overtook them. Creditors only rest quietly whilst nothing at all is given them, for then they are in despair; but partial payment rouses them to fury. Then, when her husband was at his unhappiest, and only saved from imprisonment through being a peer of the realm, Lady Byron left London under cover of a visit to her father. Their farewell parting was, conventionally speaking, quite affectionate, and they agreed to meet in a month's time.
During her journey, Lady Byron wrote quite a tender letter to her husband; then, one morning, Lord Byron learnt from his father-in-law, Sir Ralph Milbanke, that he must not expect ever to see his wife and his daughter again. What was the reason for this sudden separation, which, in spite of all Byron's protests, ended in a divorce?
The poet put it down to the influence of an old governess of Lady Byron, Mrs. Clermont, against whom he launched that terrible satire entitled "A Sketch," and this epigram and apostrophe from the the Moor to Iago:. If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee.
With eye unmoved, and forehead unabash'd, She dines from off the plate she lately wash'd. Immediately a tremendous clamour arose in the papers and in society against the poet who, by force of genius, had already overcome those of his opposers who might be termed the first coalition against him. It is ever the case with men in high places who are before the eye of the public: tempests arise unexpectedly, the existence of which is not suspected by the victim till they burst over his head. They may be compared with waterspouts, and they pour down on the poet, be he a Schiller or a Dante, an Ovid or a Byron, utterly overwhelming him, rending his heart and body, tearing down his fame, overturning his reputation, uprooting his honour.
These storms come from the enmities, hatred and jealousies roused by his genius; they are the hyenas that dog his steps through the darkness, who dare not attack him while he can stand firm and upright, but which spring on him directly he totters, and devour him as soon as he falls. Byron realised he would have to give way before his enemies; so he left England, meaning to rally his forces amidst the undisturbing surroundings of foreign lands, for [Pg 29] some means of revenging himself upon them.
He left England on 25 April He departed, and his saddest regrets were for the wife who had exiled him, and for the daughter whom he had hardly seen, and whom he was never to look upon again. Still for ever, fare thee well: Even though unforgiving, never 'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel. Would that breast were bared before thee Where thy head so oft hath lain, While that placid sleep came o'er thee Which thou ne'er canst know again:. Both shall live, but every morrow Wake us from a widow'd bed. And when thou wouldst solace gather, When our child's first accents flow, Wilt thou teach her to say 'Father!
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When her little hands shall press thee, When her lip to thine is press'd, Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee, Think of him thy love had bless'd! Should her lineaments resemble Those thou never more may'st see, Then thy heart will softly tremble With a pulse yet true to me. Ada, sole daughter of my house and heart? When last I saw thy young blue eyes they smiled, And then we parted,—not as now we part, [Pg 30] But with a hope. To aid thy mind's development, to watch Thy dawn of little joys, to sit and see Almost thy very growth, to view thee catch Knowledge of objects,—wonders yet to thee!
To hold thee lightly on a gentle knee, And print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss,— This, it should seem, was not reserved for me; Yet this was in my nature: as it is, I know not what is there, yet something like to this. Yet, though dull Hate as duty should be taught, I know that thou wilt love me; though my name Should be shut from thee, as a spell still fraught With desolation, and a broken claim: Though the grave closed between us,—'twere the same, I know that thou wilt love me; though to drain My blood from out thy being were an aim, And an attainment,—all would be in vain,— Still thou wouldst love me, still that more than life retain.
The child of love, though born in bitterness, And nurtured in convulsion. Of thy sire These were the elements, and thine no less. As yet such are around thee, but thy fire Shall be more temper'd, and thy hope far higher. Sweet be thy cradled slumbers! O'er the sea And from the mountains where I now respire, Fain would I waft such blessing upon thee, As, with a sigh, I deem thou might'st have been to me. I would not mind being unhappy [Pg 31] if I were Lady Byron, to have inspired such lines as those in my husband's brain!
Byron was not in such a hurry to travel far afield this time; perhaps he only wanted to stretch the double cord that bound him to England, and not to snap it altogether. He landed in Belgium, visited the field of Waterloo, still wet with the blood of three nations; sailed down the Rhine and settled for a time on the borders of the Lake of Geneva. At Diodati, Byron renewed his swimming feat of Abydos by crossing the Lake of Geneva where it is four leagues wide.
Goethe in a German journal laid claim to the original idea of Manfred , as though Manfred did not descend as directly from Satan as Faust had from Polichinelle! O thou poor rich man! Byron left for Italy in the month of October, stopping first at Milan to visit the Ambrosian Library.
His next halt was at Verona, where he saw the tomb of Juliet; and, finally, he took up his residence in Venice, where his name became a household word. Venice had never possessed any horses except the four bronze ones which had figured for twelve years on top of Carrousel's triumphal arch. But Byron never walked, and he was therefore the first person whose living horses clattered in the Square of Saint Mark, on the quai des Esclavons and on the banks of the Brenta.
It was in Venice that the real romance of his life began. Here he had three love affairs, each in a different rank of Venetian society: with Marguerite, Marianne and It is curious to think that this lady, even at this day, thirty-three years after the time of which I am writing, is still a fascinating woman. I made her acquaintance in Rome when she was in the full bloom of her beauty, when she was almost as wonderful to listen to as to look at, to hear as to see.
She lived solely upon the memories of the great poet whom she had loved. It seemed as though the years of their love constituted the one bright spot in her life, and in looking back the obscurity that formed the rest of her life was ignored by her. But if I began to speak of her, I should have to reveal her name; I should have to speak of the walks we had together by moonlight in the Forum and the Coliseum; I should have to repeat what she told me among the shadows of those great ruins, when she never spoke but of the illustrious dead, who had trodden with her the same stones that we were treading and had sat by her side in the same places where we rested.
Why were you unfaithful to the poet's memory, when your memories of him had gone on increasing in strength, aided by his death, until you had magnified your love into a god? Why was not the honour of having been Byron's mistress quite sufficient, instead of taking any title that a husband, no matter how distinguished he might be, could give you?
It is true that Byron, with all his fancies and eccentricities and passions, cannot have been a very pleasant lover. But she should have been faithless to him when he was alive, and not after he was dead. We will not say any more, madam; we will think, instead, of the poems Byron wrote at Venice. When Naples rebelled in and , Byron wrote to the Neapolitan Government and offered his purse and his sword. So, when reaction set in, and Ferdinand returned a second time from Sicily, and the lists of proscribed persons were published throughout Italy, it was feared Byron's name might be of the number of exiles.
Then it happened that the poor people of Ravenna drew up a petition to the cardinal praying he might be allowed to stay among them.
This man who boldly and openly offered the Neapolitans a thousand louis was a never failing source of helpfulness to the poor of Venice and its surrounding countryside; no poor man ever held out a hand towards him and drew it back empty, even if Byron himself were in the greatest straits, and more than once he had to borrow in order to give. He knew this but too well when he said, "Those who have persecuted me so long and so cruelly will triumph, and justice will only be done to me when this hand is as cold as their hearts. In , Byron left Venice, in whose streets no one had ever seen him on foot; the Brenta, upon whose banks no one had ever seen him take a walk; the Square of St.
Mark, whose beauties he had never contemplated except from a [Pg 34] window, for fear of revealing to the beauties of Venice the slight deformity of his leg, which not even the width of his trousers could disguise.
From Venice he went to Pisa. There the news of two fresh troubles awaited him: the death of his natural daughter by an English woman, and the death of his friend Shelley, who was drowned during a sailing trip from Livorno to Lerici. He sent his daughter's body to England for burial. To save the body of his friend Shelley from the attentions Italian priests would no doubt have given it, he determined to have it burnt after the custom of the ancients.
Trelawney, the bold pirate, was present, and relates the strange funeral rites, as he relates his lion hunt or his fight with the Malay prince.
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He was a companion worthy of the noble poet, and was himself a poet; his book is full of marvellous descriptions, all the more wonderful because they are always true, although sounding incredible. The flames, fanned by the wind from the sea, took a thousand fantastic shapes.dybejipuve.tk
The weather was very fine; the lazy waves from the Mediterranean gently kissed the shore, the sands were golden yellow and contrasted sharply with the deep blue of the sky; the mountains lifted their snowy crests up into the clouds, and the flames from the pyre steadily burnt higher and higher into the air. From Pisa Byron went to Genoa. It was in this city—once the Queen of the Mediterranean—that he conceived the idea of going to Greece, to do for that "Niobe of the Nations," as he called her, the same offices Naples had not thought fit to accept when offered to her.
So far, Byron had devoted himself mainly to individuals; now he intended to devote himself to a people. In the month of April he entered into communication with the Greek Committee, and towards the end of July he left Italy. His reputation had increased extraordinarily, [Pg 35] not only in Italy, France and Germany, but in England too. An insurrection had broken out in Scotland in the county where his mother's property was situated.
The rebels had to cross Lady Byron's estates to reach their destination, but on the confines of the property they paused and decided to cross in single file, so as only to tread down a narrow path in the crops. They did not take the same precaution on other estates, which they completely devastated. But he had a presentiment that he had left his native land for ever; and Lady Blessington told me herself that, when she met Byron at Genoa, the day before he was to set sail, he said to her—.
Something here and he laid his hand on his heart tells me that we are meeting for the last time; I am going to Greece, and shall never return from it. Towards the end of December Byron landed in Morea, and, a few days later, he made his way into the town, in spite of the Turkish flotilla that was besieging Missolonghi. He was greeted with enthusiastic shouts by the people, who led him in triumph to the house they had got ready for him. Neither of these hopes was to be granted him.
He was seized by a violent attack [Pg 36] of fever on 15 February , which ran its course rapidly, caused him much suffering and weakened him greatly. But as soon as he was sufficiently recovered he resumed the daily rides on horseback which were his greatest recreation. On 9 April he got very wet when out riding, and although he changed everything on his return home, he felt ill, for he had been more than two hours in his wet clothes.
During the night there was a slight return of the fever, although he slept well; but about eleven o'clock on the morning of the 10th he complained of a violent pain in the head and of suffering in his arms and legs; nevertheless, he managed to mount his horse in the afternoon. His old servant, Fletcher, from whose account we shall now borrow the final details, waited for his return. And indeed it was plain to see next morning that Byron's indisposition had become more serious: he had been feverish all night, and seemed very depressed.