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abstained from, he would have been found, had a collision taken place between the aristocratic and democratic parties in the state, exerting all his energies in defence of that to which he naturally belonged. His own feeling on these subjects he has explained in the very last canto of Don Juan ; and they are in entire harmony with the opinions which we have seen expressed in his correspondence, at a moment when matters appeared to approach a serious struggle in his native country :“ If we are to fall,” he expressed himself to this purpose, “ let the independent aristocracy and gentry of England suffer by the sword of an arbitrary prince, who has been born and bred a gentleman, and will behead us after the manner of our ancestors; but do not let us suffer ourselves to be massacred by the ignoble swarms of ruffians, who are endeavouring to throttle their way to power.” Accordingly, he expresses in the strongest terms his purpose of resisting to the last extremity the tendency to anarchy, which commercial distress had generated, and disaffection was endeavouring to turn to its own purposes. His poetry expresses similar sentiments.
“ It is not that I adulate the people :
Without me there are Demagogues enough,
And set up in their stead some proper stuff.
Whether they may sow Scepticism to reap Hell,
As is the Christian dogma rather rough,
As much from mobs and kings—from you as me.
I shall offend all parties."
We are not, however, Byron's apologists, for now, alas! he needs none. His excellencies will now be universally acknowledged, and his faults (let us hope and believe) not remembered in his epitaph. It will be recollected what a part he has sustained in British literature since the first appearance of Childe Harold, a space of nearly sixteen years. There has been no reposing under the shade of his laurels, no living upon the resource of past reputation ; none of that coddling and petty precaution, which little authors call “ taking care of their fame." Byron let his fame take care of itself. His foot was always in the arena, his shield hung always in the lists ; and although his own gigantic renown increased the difficulty of the struggle, since he could produce nothing, however great, which exceeded the public estimate of his genius, yet he advanced to the honourable contest again and again and again, and came always off with distinction, almost always with complete triumph. As various in composition as Shakspeare himself, (this will be admitted by all who are acquainted with his Don Juan,) he has embraced every topic of human life, and sounded every string on the divine harp, from its slightest to its most powerful and heart-astounding tones. There is scarce a passion, or a situation, which has escaped his pen; and he might be drawn, like Garrick, between the Weeping and the Laughing Muse, although his most powerful efforts have certainly been dedicated to Melpomene. His genius seemed as prolific as various. The most prodigal use did not exhaust his powers, nay, seemed rather to increase their vigour. Neither Childe Harold, nor any of the most beautiful of Byron's earlier tales, contain more exquisite morsels of poetry than are to be found scattered through the cantos of Don Juan, amidst verses which the author appears to have thrown off with an effort as spontaneous as that of a tree resigning its leaves to the wind.But that noble tree will never more bear fruit or blossom! It has been cut down in its strength, and the past is all that remains to us of Byron. We can scarce reconcile ourselves to the idea-scarce think that the voice is silent for ever, which, bursting so often on our ear, was often heard with rapturous admiration, sometimes with regret, but always with the deepest interest.
With a strong feeling of awful sorrow, we take leave of the subject. Death creeps upon our most serious, as well as upon our most idle, employments ; and it is a reflection solemn and gratifying, that he found our Byron in no moment of levity, but contributing his fortune, and hazarding his life, in behalf of a people only endeared to him by their past glories, and as fellow-creatures suffering under the yoke of a heathen oppressor.
Since this sketch first appeared, the author has had an opportunity of learning, from the very first authority, that the importance of Lord Byron's life to the Greek cause was even greater than he had ventured to suppose it. His whole influence was turned to the best and wisest purposes ; and most singular it was to behold an individual, certainly not remarkable for prudence in his own private affairs, direct with the utmost sagacity the course to be pursued by a great nation, involved in a situation of extraordinary difficulty. It seems as if his keen and hasty temper was tamed by the importance of the task which he had undertaken, as the war-horse, which prances and curvets under a light burden, moves steadily as well as actively under the armed warrior, when he guides it to battle. His advice and control were constantly exerted to
reconcile the independent and jarring chiefs with each other, to induce them to lay aside jealousies, feuds, and the miserable policy of seeking each some individual advantage; and to determine them to employ their united means against the common enemy. It was his constant care to postpone the consideration of disputes upon speculative political maxims, and direct every effort to the recovery of national independence, without which no form of government could be realized.
To the honour of the Greek nation, they repaid with warm gratitude the wise and disinterested zeal with which they beheld him undertake their cause. Had he remained to uphold their banner, it had not, perhaps, been in the present danger of sinking under their own disunion, rather than the force of their barbarous enemies. Greece and the world, however, were to be deprived of this remarkable man. And surely to have fallen in a crusade for freedom and humanity, as in olden times it would have been an atonement for the blackest crimes, may in the present be allowed to expiate greater follies than even exaggerating calumny has propagated against Byron.
When the preceding remarks on Lord Byron's death appeared in the newspapers, they attracted VOL. IV.