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Come, Idler, set that cup aside,
And tune the flute for me
Then there ! 't is done. Now, prithee, play Some in their graves laid quietly—
Pour toujours, ma Zelie."
Sweet air-sweet flower!-sweet social And here am I-I live and breathe,
Dear friends!-young, happy heart!
Some, far away in other lands-
And yet I love to linger here
To inhale this od'rous breath-
A VISIT TO NEWSTEAD IN 1828.
estate, and does not afford even one bed. Before the gate stands a fine, spreading oak, one of the few remaining trees of Sherwood forest, the fanious haunt of Robin Hood and his associates, which once covered all this part of the county, and whose centre was about the domain of New stead. To this oak, the only one of any size on the estate, Byron was very partial. It is pretty well knowɑ that his great uncle (to whom he suc ceeded) cut down almost all the valuable timber, partly to pay gan bling debts, and partly for pure michief's sake, to injure the property which he knew would pass into ano ther branch of the family, all o whom, in consequence of his having killed Mr. Chaworth, had forsaken him. So that when Byron came into possession of the estate, and indeed the whole time he had it, it present ed a very bare and desolate appearance. Unluckily he had not fortune enough to do what has since bee done on such an enlarged scale, and with so much taste, by the present owner, Lieut. Colonel Wildman, and which alone can render the property intrinsically valuable. The soil s very poor, and fit only for the growth of larch and firs; and of these up wards of 700 acres have been plant ed. Byron could not afford the first outlay which was necessary in order ultimately to increase its worth, so
closure or garden drive, and can therefore be approached by any person passing through the park. In this open space is the ancient fountain or cistern of the convent, covered with grotesque carvings, and having water still running into a basin. The old church window, which, in an architectural point of view, is most deserving of observation, is nearly entire, and adjoins the northwest corner of the Abbey. About the mysterious sound produced at certain times by the wind on this arch (as mentioned in the thirteenth canto of Don Juan, the whole of which description relates to Newstead,) I could obtain no information. Through the iron gate which opens into the garden under the arch, is seen the dog's tomb: it is on the north side, upon a raised ground, and surrounded by steps. The verses inscribed on one side of the pedestal are well known, being pub-. lished with his poems; but the lines preceding them are not so-they run thus:
that as long as he held it its rental did not exceed £1300 a year. From the gate to the Abbey is a mile. The carriage-road runs straight for about 300 yards through the plantations, when it takes a sudden turn to the right; and on returning to the left, a beautiful and extensive view over the valley and distant hills is opened, with the turrets of the Abbey rising among the dark trees beneath. The effect at this spot is admirably managed, and fully compensates for all the disappointment at not seeing it sooner. To the right of the Abbey is perceived a tower on a hill, the midst of a grove of firs. From this part the road winds gently to the left, till it reaches the Abbey. About half a mile from the high road is another gate, with a wall running east and west. Here the plantation ceases, and the trees, from this forward, are arranged in small circular patches here and there, as if to cover the nakedness of the land. The Abbey is approached on the north side: it lies in a valley, very low, sheltered to the north and west by rising ground; and to the south, which is now to be considered the front, enjoying a fine prospect over an undulating vale. It can only be called open, properly, to the south-west, as the land on all the other sides is more or less elevated. A more secluded spot could hardly have been chosen for the pious purposes to which it was devoted. To the north and east is a garden walled in; and to the west the upper lake, into which Byron's uncle one day threw his wife; and on the borders of which are seen the baby forts mentioned by Horace Walpole in one of his letters describing a visit to Newstead. It was here that Byron amused himself with his boat and his dogs, the qualities of one of which he has immortalized in his verses. Of the external appear ance of the building, a much better idea may, of course, be formed from a glance at a drawing than from pages of description. On the west side the mansion is without any en
42 Atheneum, VOL. 9, 2d series.
Near this spot
Are deposited the remains of one
And all the virtues of man without his vices.
praise, which would be unmeaning flattery
If inscribed over human ashes,
Who was born in Newfoundland, May 1803, And died at Newstead, November 18th, 1808.
The whole edifice is a quadrangle, enclosing a court, with a reservoir and jet-d'eau in the middle, and the cloister, still entire, running round the four sides. At this time the ground was covered with deep snow. The south, now, as I have said, the principal front, looks over a pleasure garden to a small lake, which has been opened from the upper one since Byron's time. There were before two lakes, one on the west, which is the principal, and another supplied by a stream from it, at a considerable distance lower down to the south-east. The entrance-door is on the west, in a small vestibule, and has nothing remarkable in it.
On entering, I came into a large stone hall, and turning to the left, went through it to a smaller, beyond which is the staircase. The whole
of this part has been almost entirely rebuilt by Col. Wildman: indeed, during Byron's occupation, the only habitable rooms were some small ones in the south-east angle. Over the cloister, on the four sides of the building, runs the gallery, from which doors open into various apartments, now fitted up with taste and elegance for the accommodation of a family, but then empty, and fast going to decay. In one of the galleries hang two oil paintings of dogs, as large as life one a red wolf-dog, and the other a black Newfoundland with white legs-the celebrated Boatswain. These are the dogs that used to drag him out of the lake, into which he would purposely fall to try their fidelity. They both died at Newstead. Of the latter, Byron felt the loss as of a dear friend. These are almost the only paintings of Byron's that remain at the Abbey. From the gallery I entered the refectory, now the grand drawing-room -an apartment of great dimensions, facing south, with a fine vaulted roof and polished oak floor, and splendidly furnished in the modern style. The walls are covered with fulllength portraits of the old school. As this room has been made fit for use entirely since the days of Byron, there are not those associations connected with it which are to be found in many of the other, though of inferior appearance. Two objects there are, however, which demand observation. The first that caught my attention was the portrait of Byron, by Phillips, over the fire-place, upon which I gazed with strong feelings: it is certainly the handsomest and most pleasing likeness of him I have seen. The other is a thing about which every body has heard, and of which few have any just idea. In a cabinet at the end of the room, carefully preserved and concealed in a sliding case, is kept the celebrated
skull cup, upon which are inscribed those splendid verses:
"Start not, nor deem my spirit filed," &c.
People often suppose, from the name, that the cup retains all the terrific appearances of a death's head, and imagine that they could
"Behold through each lack-lustre, eyeless hole, The gay recess of wisdom and of wit:” not at all-there is nothing whatever startling in it; nothing can be cleaner and less offensive-in fact, nobody would know, were he not told, that it was not a common bone bowl. It is made of the crown of the head cat straight off, so that all the disgusting portion of a skull is avoided; is well polished; its edge is bound by a broad rim of silver; and it is set in a neat stand of the same metal, which serves as a handle, and upon the four sides of which, and not on the skull itself, the verses are engraved. It is, in short, in appearance, a very handsome utensil, and one from which the most fastidious person might (in my opinion) drink without scruple. It was always produced after dinner when Byron had company at the Abbey, and a bottle of claret poured into it. It was wrought by a man at Nottingham, who was severely reproved by a worthy di vine not far from Newstead for this profanation of the dead. The reply of the workman, that he should be happy to make a similar one out of his head after death, upon being equally well paid for the trouble, so alarmed the reverend gentleman, that he was taken seriously ill, and confined for a considerable time to his house. An elegant round library table is the only article of fur niture in this room that belonged to Byron, and this he constantly used. It may here be observed as a matter of course, and a thing applicable to the other rooms as well as to this, that the windows of the Abbey origi nally looked into the cloister or quadrangle, and that the present ones are of modern date. With this exception, and not taking into consi
deration the destruction of the church and other buildings belonging to the Abbey, it does not appear that the structure has undergone material changes in its external form or internal arrangement. Beyond the refectory, on the same floor, is Byron's study, now used as a temporary dining-room, the entire furniture of which is the same that was used by him it is all very plain-indeed ordinary. A good painting of a battle, over the sideboard, was also his. This apartment, perhaps beyond all others, deserves the attention of the pilgrim to Newstead, as more intimately connected with the poetical existence of Byron. It was here that he prepared for the press those first effusions of his genius, which were published at Newark under the title of Hours of Idleness. It was here that he meditated, planned, and for the most part wrote, that splendid relort to the severe critique they had called down, which placed him at once among the first poets, and stamped him as the keenest satirist of the day. And it was here that his tender and beautiful verses to Mary Chaworth (afterwards and now Mrs. Musters,) and many of those sweet pieces found among his miscellaneous poems, were composed. Then a place of deep and abstracted thought-now of merriment and rejoicing but the memory of Byron flings over it a charm which attracts more strongly than the most sumptuous banquet. From the study I passed through several other rooms, fitted in the modern style as sitting and bed-rooms for the use of a family of rank all extremely neat and tasteful, and kept in beautiful order : but having been in his time totally unhabitable, in no way remarkable as concerns the noble poet. His bed-room is small, and still remains in the same state as when he occupied it. It contains little worthy of notice besides the bed, which is of common size, with gilt posts, surmounted by coronets. Over the fire-place is a picture of Murray the old family servant (now dead,) who
accompanied Byron to Gibraltar when he first went abroad. A picture of Henry VIII., and another portrait in this room, complete the enumeration of all the furniture or paintings of Byron's remaining at the Abbey. In some of are very curiously carved mantlepieces with grotesque figures, evidently of old date. In a corner of one of the galleries there still remained the fencing foils, gloves, masks, and single sticks, he used in his youth. A certain honourable M. P., who was once as able a combatant in blows as he has since proved in words, might perchance recognise these implements of war, having received from them raps as severe, perhaps, as any he has had within the walls of St. Stephen's. In a corner of the cloister lies a stone coffin (which may also be remembered by another gentleman, Mr. S D
−), taken from the burial-ground of the Abbey. The ground floor contains some spacious halls, and divers apartments for domestic offices
many in a state unfit for occupation, and filled with repairing materials. There is a neat little private chapel in the cloister, where service. is performed on Sundays. Byron's sole recreation here was his boat and dogs, and boxing and fencing for exercise, and to prevent a tendency to obesity-which he dreaded. His constant employment was writing; for which he used to set up as late as two or three o'clock in the morning. His life here was an entire seclusion, devoted to poetry.
The present servants' hall was then the dining-room; it is a large cold place, paved with stone: but was one of the few rooms impervious to the weather. Byron first sold the estate to Mr. Claughton, for the sum, as I am informed by the then bailiff to it, of 135,000l.; and upon the agreement not being completed, Mr. C. paid forfeit of 25,000l.;-but I do not vouch for the accuracy of this statement. It was then sold to Lieut. Col. Wildman for 95,000l.— much more than itsfintrinsic value.
Notwithstanding all that has been done, a large sum of money would be required to complete the repairs. During the last five years of Byron's minority, the Abbey was tenanted by Lord De Ruthven for 100l. a year, for the purposes of sporting. Besides the principal entrance from the high road, the Abbey may be approached by a bridle road through the park from Papplewick, the nearest village to it and from Annesley, a village two miles to the west. For a pretty landscape, the way by Papplewick is best: but for effect, that by Annesley is decidedly to be preferred. By the former you pass through a newly planted avenue to the Abbey, having on the left the lower and middle lakes, and see the turrets long before you arrive. Whereas coming from Annesley, nothing is seen till you are at the top of a hill close to the Abbey, when the south front of it bursts suddenly on the sight, frowning in gloomy grandeur from below. It was from this quarter that I first saw it; and, putting aside all association of ideas, I thought a more mournful, dreary-looking place never was beheld. In winter especially, nothing
can be more desolate: the bleak country around, the thinness of the population, and the miserable villages,-all impress one with feelings of melancholy. For an abbey, this is so much the better: it would require but little to put it into a state which would realize all our ideas of monastic seclusion. Even now, a warm imagination, more especially on a dismal day, and when no company is there, can easily conjure up the persons and habits of its former tenants, and fancy centuries long
gone by restored to the earth. With the addition of the simple manuers of old, the illusion might be com plete: but, alas! in this, morally more than physically, how is the abode of sanctity changed! This pile, once the secluded haunt of those who had retired from the world and devoted themselves to God, and here
IT T is a circumstance, even in a philosophical point of view, by no means undeserving of attention, that at no time has any of the nations, now professing the Mahommedan
"Sought a refuge from the worldly shocks
Which stir and sting the soul with hope, that
wooes, then mocks,"
is now the resort of dandy valets and and its follies, where the corruption forward grooms-the seat of fashion of manners of the nineteenth century taints every nobler feeling of the heart, and cold formality takes the place of cordial benevolence. From
the total absence of all accommoda.
tion in the neighbouring villages, it is very inconvenient for any one not having an invitation to the Abbey to visit Newstead; and but few people unacquainted with the possessor have visited the place, nor is there much encouragement for them to do so.
I can easily conceive the annoy ance to which the possessor must be subjected by the obtrusive enthusi asm of the admirers of Byron, and make every allowance for the reluc tance manifested to have the place shewn; but surely he might have expected, when he purchased the es tate, that, in addition to the numbers who would continue to visit the Abbey as a specimen of architecture, thousands would be attracted thither
by the fame of the poet, and would consider it more as a relic bequeaththan the property of a private indi ed to the admiration of posterity,
THE EASTERN STORY-TELLERS.
faith, possessed a drama. The an cient courts of Memphis, Jerusalem, and Susa; the modern of Bagdad, Cairo, Cordova, and Ispahan, though, in every other branch of luxury and