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Seat of my youth!1 thy distant spire
My bosom glows with former fire,—
In mind again a boy.
Thy grove of elms, thy verdant hill,
Each flower a double fragrance flings;
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
My Lycus 2 wherefore dost thou weep?
But, oh, 't will wake again. 3
Think, think, my friend, when next we meet, Our long-wish'd interview, how sweet!
From this my hope of rapture springs; While youthful hearts thus fondly swell, Absence, my friend, can only tell,
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
In one, and one alone deceived,
I turn'd to those my childhood knew,
Twined with my heart's according strings;
Ye few! my soul, my life is yours,
Unfetter'd in its scope;
From smooth deceit and terror sprung,
Fictions and dreams inspire the bard
If laurell'd Fame but dwells with lies,
Whose heart and not whose fancy sings; Simple and young, I dare not feign; Mine be the rude yet heartfelt strain, "Friendship is Love without his wings!" [First published, 1832.]
[The Earl of Clare. - See p. 406.] [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 mistaken, 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,
Thou, who in wisdom placed me here,
To Thee, my God, to Thee I call! Whatever weal or woe betide, By thy command I rise or fall,
In thy protection I confide.
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
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. Long's
Where smiling Youth delights to dwell,
To soothe its wonted heedless flow;
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;
And Mary's given to another;
The aid which once improved their light,
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.]
TO A LADY. 2
On had my fate been join'd with thine,
To thee these early faults I owe,
To thee, the wise and old reproving : They know my sins, but do not know
'T was thine to break the bonds of loving.
For once my soul, like thine, was pure, And all its rising fires could smother; But now thy vows no more endure, Bestow'd by thee upon another.
Perhaps his peace I could destroy,
And spoil the blisses that await him;
Yet let my rival smile in joy,
For thy dear sake I cannot hate him.
Ah! since thy angel form is gone,
My heart no more can rest with any; But what it sought in thee alone,
Attempts, alas! to find in many.
Then fare thee well, deceitful maid!
"T were vain and fruitless to regret thee; Nor Hope, nor Memory yield their aid,
But Pride may teach me to forget thec.
Yet all this giddy waste of years,
This tiresome round of palling pleasures; These varied loves, these matron's fears,
These thoughtless strains to passion's measures
[The two friends were both passionately attached to Harrow; and sometimes made excursions thither together, to revive their school-boy recollections.]
[Mrs. Musters. See anté, p. 384.]
["Our union would have healed feuds in which blood had been shed by our fathers-it would have joined lands broad and rich it would have joined at least one heart, and two persons not ill matched in years (she is two years my elder), and-and-and-what has been the result?" Byron Diary,
["Our meetings," says Lord Byron, in 1922, “were stolen ones, and a gate leading from Mr. Chaworth's grounds to those of my mother was the place of our interviews. But the
I WOULD I WERE A CARELESS CHILD. I WOULD 1 were a careless child,
Still dwelling in my Highland cave, Or roaming through the dusky wild,
Or bounding o'er the dark blue wave; The cumbrous pomp of Saxon 5 pride
Accords not with the freeborn soul, Which loves the mountain's craggy side,
And seeks the rocks where billows roll. Fortune! take back these cultured lands, Take back this name of splendid sound!
I hate the touch of servile hands,
I hate the slaves that cringe around.
Place me along the rocks I love,
Which sound to Ocean's wildest roar;
I ask but this-again to rove
Through scenes my youth hath known before.
Few are my years, and yet 1 feel
The world was ne'er design'd for me: Ah! why do dark'ning shades conceal
The hour when man must cease to be? Once I beheld a splendid dream,
A visionary scene of bliss: Truth wherefore did thy hated beam Awake me to a world like this?
I loved - but those I loved are gone;
When all its former hopes are dead!
Though pleasure stirs the maddening soul, The heart-the heart-is lonely still. 6
ardour was all on my side. I was serious; she was volatile: she liked me as a younger brother, and treated and laughed at me as a boy; she, however, gave me her picture, and that was something to make verses upon. Had I married her, perhaps the whole tenour of my life would have been different."]
Sassenach, or Saxon, a Gaelic word, signifying either Lowland or English.
6 [The imagination all compact," which the greatest poet who ever lived has assigned as the distinguishing badge of his brethren, is in every case a dangerous gift. It exaggerates, indeed, our expectations, and can often bid its possesso: hope, where hope is lost to reason: but the delusive pleasure arising from these visions of imagination resembles that of a child,
WHEN I ROVED A YOUNG HIGHLANDER.
WHEN I roved a young Highlander o'er the dark heath,
Yet it could not be love, for I knew not the name, What passion can dwell in the heart of a child? But still I perceive an emotion the same
As I felt, when a boy, on the crag-cover'd wild : One image alone on my bosom impress'd,
I loved my bleak regions, nor panted for new; And few were my wants, for my wishes were bless'd; And pure were my thoughts, for my soul was with you.
I arose with the dawn; with my dog as my guide,
I breasted the billows of Dee's rushing tide,
For the first of my prayers was a blessing on you.
I left my bleak home, and my visions are gone;
And delight but in days I have witness'd before: Ah! splendour has raised, but embitter'd, my lot; More dear were the scenes which my infancy knew: Though my hopes may have fail'd, yet they are not forgot;
Though cold is my heart, still it lingers with you.
When I see some dark hill point its crest to the sky,
And climb'd thy steep summit, oh Morven of snow !2 When, haply, some light-waving locks I behold, 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. His 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 wings 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.
2 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
That faintly resemble my Mary's in hue,
I think on the long flowing ringlets of gold,
Yet the day may arrive when the mountains once more Shall rise to my sight in their mantles of snow: 7
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
But while these soar above me, unchanged as before,
Will Mary be there to receive me?-ah, no! Adieu, then, ye hills, where my childhood was bred! Thou sweet flowing Dee, to thy waters adieu! No home in the forest shall shelter my head,
Ah! Mary, what home could be mine but with you?
TO GEORGE, EARL DELAWARR. 1
OH! yes, I will own we were dear to each other; The friendships of childhood, though fleeting, are true;
The love which you felt was the love of a brother, Nor less the affection I cherish'd for you.
But Friendship can vary her gentle dominion;
The attachment of years in a moment expires: Like Love, too, she moves on a swift-waving pinion, But glows not, like Love, with unquenchable fires.
Full oft have we wander'd through Ida together,
And blest were the scenes of our youth, I allow : In the spring of our life, how serene is the weather! But winter's rude tempests are gathering now.
No more with affection shall memory blending,
However, dear George, for I still must esteem youThe few whom I love I can never upbraid
The chance which has lost may in future redeem you,
Repentance will cancel the vow you have made.
I will not complain, and though chill'd is affection,
You knew that my soul, that my heart, my existence,
You knew, but away with the vain retrospection !
For the present, we part,—I will hope not for ever;
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.