« ПредишнаНапред »
THE SATURDAY REVIEW. There is little reason to doubt of this work having been written by the widow of the Marquis de Boissy, far better known as the COUNTESS GUICCIOLI. There are, we believe, no grounds for thinking the authorship a secret, nor, although there is no direct evidence of the fact, do we think that our supposition will prove unfounded. The readers of it are carried backward and forward, from religion to the world, from mirth to melancholy, from society to solitude, from home scenes to foreign scenes. The authoress is justly indignant at the reiterated attempts made in Byron's lifetime and since, by English and foreign writers,- by some who knew him a little, and by many who did not know him at all, to represent him as an awful and anomalous being, of mystery all compact. If we had been asked, before this work came into our hands what we regarded as Byron's capital error throughout life, we should have replied, "affecting to be what he was not;" and this opinion is strengthened by the Marquise de Boissy's account of him. We find in him the seed of many virtues, but the harvest of many vices. At school, he was the generous protector of the weak; in early manhood, and throughout his life, he was deeply attached to his friends; his sympathies with the oppressed of the earth ended only with his days,—and nothing in his life was so creditable or hopeful as were the closing scenes of it at Missolonghi. The chapter of the work which will doubtless attract the most general attention, is that in which Byron's marriage is recorded and commented upon. This, besides the ordinary danger of interfering between man and wife, is obviously a very delicate topic for the noble authoress. The Marchioness de Boissy's volumes are never so agrecable as when Byron himself is called into court to give evidence on points connected with his own life. He may not be an unbiassed witness, but he is a communicative and instructive one. Struck in early days with the interesting and graphic character of Gibbon's journal, he began to keep a diary of his studies, thoughts, and all that he did or heard. Byron, though probably, like Walpole, aware that a letter by him addressed to one would be read by many, is the easier of the two in his language, and from his position in the world at home, and his yet more intimate acquaintance with foreign life and manners, was master of epistolary wealth in a degree far beyond the secluded Cowper. The authoress has wisely allowed Byron to speak for himself in his letters, and the extracts from his correspondence are no less judiciously supported by biographical or characteristic passages from his poems. The junction of his letters and journals with his verse, is auxiliary to a just apprehension of the writer of both. The juxtaposition of so many witnesses has this value; it enables us to collect into one focus the opinions of many, and thus to obtain a tolerably clear view of a not very consistent character. The Marchioness's chapters abound with an cdotes of the extraordinary effect produced by Byron's poetry upon the young and susceptible of both sexes. The scenes be described, the romance with which he clothed his characters, the ferveney of his nature-worship, the occasional freedom of his opinions, were lures and charms of irresistible might.
THE ATHENÆUM. No greater proof could be given of the renewed interest which is being felt with respect to Byron, his life, his character, and his works, than this publication sent forth to gratify the awakened European curiosity. Successive editions of Byron's works-editions for luxurious libraries, and editions even for Loudon boys who have but sixpence to spend, and leisure to read on a London dour-step,-prove the hold the poet has taken on the national heart. This production, by Byron's particular friend, the Countess Guiccioli, is the work so long announced and eagerly exp-cted. · It is the genuine and authentic work of the celebrated Countess, widow of the Marquis de Boissy. In its puges she once appears in full, in reference to a remark by Byroll, that if he could have married the Countess Guiccioli, he might have secured the happiness he had missed in this world, and was never likely to regain. The love passages between Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb are told at some length. He who died at Missolonghi, in 1821, when lit le more than thirty six years of age, making the usually glad Easter a season of mourning and sorrow to all Greece, may have left-did, in fact, Icaveman inheritance of some painful memories to his country, but therewith an increase of riches to her literature, which should make of all Englishman bis grateful heirs for ever.