WHEN Sir Walter Scott ceased to write Metrical Romances, he said it was because Byron had beaten him.
Byron struggled to live on 130 pounds a year, in Newstead Abbey, near Nottingham, there lived a queer, half-mad, old grand-uncle, who had earned for himself the name of "the wicked lord.
Katharine, who had risen in some confusion, could not help smiling at the thought that her mother found it perfectly natural and desirable that her daughter should be reading Byron
in the dining-room late at night alone with a strange young man.
People said that he resembled Byron
--at least that his head was Byronic; but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron
, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.
I had always had a deep and reverent compassion for the sufferings of the "prisoner of Chillon," whose story Byron
had told in such moving verse; so I took the steamer and made pilgrimage to the dungeons of the Castle of Chillon, to see the place where poor Bonnivard endured his dreary captivity three hundred years ago.
In this church, also, is a monument to the doge Foscari, whose name a once resident of Venice, Lord Byron
, has made permanently famous.
Shelley was once a private person whose name had no more universal meaning than my own, and so were Byron
and Cromwell and Shakespeare; yet now their names are facts as stubborn as the Rocky Mountains, or the National Gallery, or the circulation of the blood.
For the matter of that he wanted me to read Cowper, from whom no one could get anything but good, and he wanted me to read Byron
, from whom I could then have got no harm; we get harm from the evil we understand.
Their conversation the preceding evening did not disincline him to seek her again; and they walked together some time, talking as before of Mr Scott and Lord Byron
, and still as unable as before, and as unable as any other two readers, to think exactly alike of the merits of either, till something occasioned an almost general change amongst their party, and instead of Captain Benwick, she had Captain Harville by her side.
It is true that, under existing conditions, a few men who have had private means of their own, such as Byron, Shelley, Browning, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, and others, have been able to realise their personality more or less completely.
Byron was never able to give us what he might have given us.
I am a good swimmer (though without pretending to rival Byron
or Edgar Poe, who were masters of the art), and in that plunge I did not lose my presence of mind.