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A PPEN DIX.
THE soliowing facts and documents, in relation to Lord Byron, lead us to indulge the hope, that, prior to his dissolution, he was actuated by sentiments and dispositions, different from those which are stated at page 122.
The lady of Mr. John Shepherd of Frome, having died some time ago, leaving amongst her papers, a prayer which her husband believed to have been composed on behalf of the noble poet, Mr. Shepherd addressed it to his Lordship, which called forth the reply which is here subjoined.
Frome, Somerset, Nov. 21st, 1821. To the Right Honourable Lord Byron, Pisa. My Lond,-More than two years since, a lovely and beloved wife was taken from me, by lingering disease, after a very short union. She possessed unvarying gentleness and fortitude, and a piety so retiring, as rarely to disclose itself in words, but so influential, as to produce uniform benevolence of conduct. In the last hour of life, after a farewell look on a lately born and only infant, for whom she had evinced inexpressible affection, her last whispers were, “God's happiness | God's happiness!” Since the second anniversary of her decease, I have read some papers which no one had seen during her life, and which contained her most secret thoughts. I am induced to communicate to your Lordship a passage from these papers, which, there is no doubt, refers to yourself; as I have more than once heard the writer mention your agility on the rocks at Hastings:– “O my God, I take encouragement from the assurance of thy word, to pray to Thee in behalf of one for whom I have lately been much interested. May the person to whom I allude, (and who is now, we fear, as much distinguished for his neglect of Thee, as for the transcendent talents Thou hast bestowed on him) be awakened to a sense of his own danger, and led to seek that peace of mind in a proper sense of religion, which he has found this world's enjoyments unable to procure. Do thou grant that his future example may be productive of far more extensive benefit, than his past conduct and writings have been of evil; and may the Sun of Righteousness, which, we trust, will, at some future period, arise upon him, be bright in proportion to the darkness of those clouds which guilt has raised, and soothing in proportion to the keenness of that agony which the punishment of his vices has inflicted on him! May the hope, that
the sincerity of my own efforts for the attainment of holiness, and the approval of my own love to the great Author of religion, will render this prayer, and every other for the welfare of mankind, more efficacious—cheer me in the path of duty; but let me not forget, that, while we are permitted to animate ourselves to exertion, by every innocent motive, these are but the losser streams which may serve to increase the current, but which, deprived of the grand fountain of good, (a deep conviction of inborn sin, and firm belief in the efficacy of Christ's death, for the salvation of those who trust in him, and really seek to serve him) would soon dry up, and leave us as barren of every virtue as before.—Hastings, July 31st, 1814.” There is nothing, my Lord, in this extract, which, in a literary sense, can at all interest you; but it may, perhaps, appear to you worthy of reflection, how deep and expansive a concern for the happiness of others, a Christian faith on awaken in the midst of youth and prosperity.— Here is nothing poetical and splendid, as in the expostulatory homage of M. Delamartine; but here is the sublime, my Lord; for this intercession was offered on your account, to the supreme Source of happiness. It sprang from a faith more confirmed than that of the French poet, and from a charity, which, in combination with faith, showed its power unimpaired amidst the languors and pains of approaching dissolution. I will hope, that a prayer, which, I am sure, was deeply sincere, may not be always unavailing. It would add nothing, my Lord, to the same with which your genius has surrounded you, for an unknown and obscure individual to express his admiration of it. I had rather be numbered with those who wish and pray, that “wisdom from above,” and “peace,” and “joy,” may enter such a mind.
Pisa, Dec. 8th, 1821.
Sin, I have received your letter. I need not say that the extract which it contains has affected me, because it would imply a want of all feeling to have read it with indifference. Though I am not quite sure that it was intended by the writer for me, yet the date, the place where it was written, with some other circumstances, which you mention, render the allusion probable. But, for whomsoever it was meant, I have read it with all the pleasure which can arise from so melancholy a topic. I say, pleasure, because your brief and simple picture of the life and demeanor of the excellent person whom I trust that you will again meet, cannot be contemplated without the adıniration due to her virtues, and her pure and unpretending piety. Her last monents were particularly striking ; and I do not know, that in the course of reading the story of mankind, and still less in my observations upon the existing portion, I ever met with any thing so unostentatiously beautiful. Indisputably, the firm believers in the gospel have a great advantage over all others—for this simple reason, that if true, they will have their reward hereafter; and if there be no hereasier, they can be but with the infidel in his eternal sleep, having had the assistance of an exalted hope through life, without subsequent disappointment, since (at the worst of them) “out of nothing, nothing can arise,” not even sorrow. But a man's creed does not depend upon himself; who can say, I will believe this, that, or the other? and 'east of all that which he least can comprehend? I have, however, observed, that those who have begun with extreme faith, have in the end greatly narrowed it, as Chillingworth, Clark, (who ended as an Arian,) and some others; while on the other hand, nothing is more common, than for the early skeptic to end in a firm belief, like Maupertius and Henry Kirke White. But my business is to acknowledge your letter, and not to make a dissertation. I am obliged to you for your good wishes, and more obliged by the extract from the papers of the beloved object whose qualities you have so well described in a few words. I can assure you, that all the same which ever cheated humanity into higher notions of its own importance, would never weigh on my mind against the pure and pious interest which a virtuous being inay be pleased to take in my welfare. In this point of view, I would not exchange the prayer of the deceased in my behalf, for the united glory of Homer, Caesar, and Napoleon, could such be accumulated upon a living head. Do me the justice to suppose, that “video meliora probogue,” however the “deteriora sequor” may have been applied to my conduct. I have the honour to be your obliged and obedient servant, By RoN.
P. S. I do not know that I am addressing a clergyman; but I presume that you will not be affronted by the mistake (if it is one) on the address of this letter. One who has so well explained, and deeply felt, the doctrines of religion, will excuse the error which led me to believe him its minister.
This letter, every one will admit, exhibits Lord Byron in a much more amiable point of view than the traits of his character sketched by Mr. Dallas, prior to the year 1818. The sol
lowing account of his deatl."zé ser::iments extracted from “Last days of Lord Byron.” A very few days before his Lordship's death, Mr. Parry relates:—“It was seven o'clock in the evening when I saw him, and then I took a chair at his request, and sat down by his bedside, and remained till ten o'clock. He sat up in his bed, and was then calm and collected. He talked with me on a variety of subjects, connected with himself and his family. He spake of death also with great composure, and though he did not believe his end was so very near, there was something about him so serious and so firm, so resigned and composed, so different from any thing I had ever before seen in him, that my mind misgave, and at times foreboded his speedy dissolution. ‘Party,’ he said, when I first went to him, “I have much wished to see you today. I have had most strange feelings, but my head is now better. I have no gloomy thoughts, and no idea but I shall recover. I am persectly collected—I am sure I am in my senses—but a melancholy will creep over me at times.’ The mention of the subject brought the melancholy topics back, and a few exclamations showed what occupied Lord Byron's mind when he was left in silence and solitude. “My wife' my Ada! my country! the situation of this place— my removal impossible, and perhaps death—all combine to make me sad. I am convinced of the happiness of domestic life. No man on earth respects a virtuous woman more than I do: and the prospect of retirement in England, with my wife and Ada, gives me an idea of happiness I have never experienced before. Retirement will be every thing to me, for heretofore to me life has been like the ocean in a storm. You have no conception of the unaccountable thoughts which come into my mind when the fever attacks me.—Eternity and space are before me, but on this subject, thank God, I am happy and at ease. The thought of living eternally, of again reviving, is a great pleasure. Christianity is the purest and most liberal religion in the world, but the numerous teachers who are continually worrying mankind with their denunciations and their doctrines, are the greatest enemies of religion. I have read with more attention than half of them the Book of Christianity, and I admire the liberal and truly charitable principles which Christ has laid down. There are questions connected with this subject which none but Almighty God can solve. Time and space who can conceive 7 None but God—on him Irely.” Who knows but the prayer of the amiable young lady, inserted above, was the mean of leading his Lordship to indulge such sentiments, and of ultimately securing his eternal happiness! “The effectual servent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This consideration should not only excite us to offer up intercessions in behalf of particular individuals, but also to use every prudent and delicate mean—by conversation, epistolary correspondence, or otherwise, to rouse the attention of those, especially in the higher circles of life, who appear unconcerned about “the things which relate to their everlasting peace.” The following lines, written by Lord Byron, are said to have been found in his Rible :
“Within this awful volume lies
With regard to Ruonaparte, we have nothing so satisfactory as in the case of Byron, that might lead us to conclude that his moral and religious senuments were changed for the better. in his solitude at St. Helena, however, it appears that the subject of religion occasionally occupied his attention. The following anecdote,
extracted from Ia Casas' Journal, will show the opinion which he entertained of the morality of the New Testament :— In a conversation on the subject of religion, which he had with his friends at St. Helena, he said, among many other things, “‘How is it possible that conviction can find its way to our hearts, when we hear the absurd language, and witness the acts of iniquity of the greatest number of those whose business it is to preach to us? I am surrounded with priests who preach incessantly that their reign is not of this world, and yet they lay hands upon every thing they can get. The Pope is the head of that religion from heaven, and he thinks only of this world,' &c. The Emperor ended the conversation by desiring my son to bring him the New Testament, and taking it from the beginning, he read as far as the conclusion of the speech of Jesus on the mountain. He expressed himself struck with ine highest admiration at the purity, the sublimity, the beauty of the morality it contained, and we all experienced the same feeling.”