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never having heard a word from home, I knew not who was dead or who was living, or where to go next, or even how to pay the coach
I recollected a linen-draper's shop, not far from thence, which our family had used : I therefore drove there next, and, making myself known, they paid the coachman. I then inquired after our family, and was told my sister had married Lord Carlisle, and was at that time in Soho Square. I immediately walked to the house, and knocked at the door; but the porter not liking my figure, which was half French, half Spanish, with the addition of a large pair of boots covered with dirt, he was going to shut the door in any face; but I prevailed with him to let me come in.
I need not acquaint my readers with what surprise and joy my sister received me. She immediately furnished me with money sufficient to appear like the rest of my countrymen : till that time I could not be properly said to have finished all the extraordinary scenes which a series of unfortunate adventures bad kept me in for the space of five years and upwards.'
The sister of whom he speaks was Isabella Countess of Carlisle-a lady who was distinguished more for that eccentricity of manners which seems to have run in the family than for her poetical talent, of which she was somewhat proud. She wrote the Answer to Mrs. Greville's ingenious Prayer for Indifference,' which is published along with that poem in some of the collections : she is said also to have been the author of some clever letters on the Education of Daughters. The present Earl of Carlisle is the son of this lady, the author of some tragedies which are sufficiently bad; but not so bad as to justify his noble relative, and the subject of our work, in putting his kinsman and guardian among such company as occupy the following lines in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers :'
• Let Stott, Carlisle, Matilda, and the rest
Of Grub Street and of Grosvenor Place the best-
Or Common Sense assert her rights again.' To return, however, to Commodore Byron--the perils which he had passed, great as they were, could not turn him from the profession of his choice. He continued in the service, and was promoted to the rank of captain. In the year 1758 the command of a small squadron was given to him, and he sailed for North America with the rank of Commodore of the British Ships off Louisbourg. He was employed to destroy the fortifications of that place, and to remove the stores to Halifax, which commission he executed.
In 1764, when the project of ascertaining whiether there actually existed a southern continent became popular, Commodore Byron was thought the person best qualified to conduct an expedition for that purpose. He bent his course towards the coast where he had suffered so much before, and there had a friendly interview with some of the gigantic people who iuhabit it. He afterwards took possession of the largest of Falkland's Islands; and having satisfactorily fulfilled his mission, and circumnavigated the globe, he returned home.
He was afterwards promoted to the rank of admiral, and employed in the American war; but such was the singular fatality which attended him, that the weather always prevented his bringing the enemy to an engagement. His talents and his courage were beyond al! question ; but his ill luck was so constant and so notorious, that the nickname of · Foul-weather Jack' was bestowed on him throughoutthe fleet. It was for this reason that the sailors in general were unwilling to sail with him; and notwithstanding his kindness to all their wants and interests, which engaged their affection and respect for hini, they had so strong a superstition that foul weather must attend him wherever he went, thal they would scarcely ever willingly enter his ships.
It was not, however, in his professional career that he was ouly unhappy : his domestic connexions were productive of the grealest affliction to him. One of his daughters married William, the fifth Lord Byron, whose fatal duel with Mr. Chaworth we have already mentioned, and by whom she was treated with the greatest brutality. They had no children, and it was in failure of their issue that the late Lord Byron succeeded to the title.
The admiral's eldest son was another source of misery to his father, and, indeed, to every one with whom he was in any degree connected. He was born in the year 1751; and after having passed through Westminster school, where he was educated, with the reputation of having excellent parts, but very little disposition to cultivate them, his father bought him a commission in the Guards. He devoted himself to that irregularity and debauchery, which was even then more common among young men of fashion than it is at the present day. He was shunned by all sober men, feared even by his associates, and of course loved by all the ladies of high rank and light character in town.
le seems, indeed, to have been eminently qualified to catch the hearls of
the fair, for he was handsome, brave, and a libertine. Without one atom of feeling or principle, he pursued his amours for the two-fold purpose of satisfying his passions and supplying his purse. It was not the beauty of bis fair innamorate that contented him, but he levied pecuniary contributions on them also; and thus made his intrigues of the back stairs supply the frequent draughts which the gaming-table made on his finances. Husbands in high life have in general so much regard for their own throats, and such laudably phi. losophical notions respecting their wives' chastity, that they wink at 'chartered libertines' like Jack Byron. They knew that he would be quite as ready to fight them as to lie with their wives; and being unquestionably very valiant, but not less discreet, they thought fit to suffer bim to hold on in his career unchecked. In the mean time, however, it was ruin to a young man to associate with him; and po women but those whose reputations were already beyond suspicion could suffer even his acqaaintance with impunity.
His amour with the ill-fated Lady Carmarthen excited a great share of the public attention, and so much indignation against him, that instead of being feared by one description of persons, and reprobated by others, he became universally hated and despised. The poor lady, who paid the penalty of her crime by a broken heart and early death, coinman'ed the sympathy of every feeling mind, notwithstanding the folly and the fault she had committed.
Lady Carmarthen was the only daughter of the Earl of Holdernesse, and was married at the age of nineteen to the Marquis of Carmarthen, afterwards Duke of Leeds, he being then only two-and-twenty years old. It appears that the marriage was one purely of affection; the equality of age and rank gave every promise of future happiness, and for some years after their union this promise was fulfilled.
They had three children between November, 1773, when they were married, and 1778, when Lady Carmarthen unfortunately became acquainted with Captain Byron. Up to the latter period there can be no doubt that the affection of Lord and Lady Carmarthen was entirely reciprocal. Her ladyship, indeed, gave one proof of it on her own part, which is calculated to cause still greater pity for the suffering which her guilty yielding to her seducer afterwards brought upon her. The Marquis was seized with a violent fever, in consequence of which his life was in imminent danger. Her ladyship, during the whole of his illness, never left his belside; to her unremitting assiduity he was indebted for the preservation of his life, and her own was placed in great peril in consequence of the fatigue she had undergone. This instance of her affeetion, while it increased bis lordship’s regard for her, induced him to be very reluctant in believing the reports which her subsequent misconduct gave rise to; and it was not until he received absolute conviction of her guilt and his ows dishonour that he resorted to the only means that were left him of wiping off the stain.
If it did not invariably happen in affairs of this description that the husband is the last person to hear of the injury which has been done him, we should wonder that the Marquis of Carmartheo could have remained ignorant of a fact which not only every servant in his own house knew, but which was the town-talk. Captain Byron was in the habit of going to the house of the marquis whenever the latter happened to be out of town. He does not seein to have taken the most common precautions against a discovery. The servants found him, on one occasion, fast asleep in her ladyship’s chamber; and on anotber he walked down stairs whistling a tune after he had passed the night in the same place, Her ladyship was in the habit of writing frequently to her paramour; and it was by means of one of these billets that her intrigue was dise covered. The servant who was intrusted with the delivery of it did as all servants do by all the letters that fall into their hands; that is to say, he read it; and, being seized with a sudden fit of virtue, he told the housekeeper, an old servant of Lady Holdernesse's, who thought she should best consult the honour of the family by disclosing the affair to her former mistress. Lady Holdernesse was a person of such strict propriety and inflexible principle, that she was hardly disposed to conceal the affair from the Marquis of Carmarthen; believing, perhaps, also, that, after the length to which affairs had gone, it would be impossible to reclaim her daughter from the fatal passion which had taken possession of her. The old lady bad, however, an interview with Lady Carmarthen, in which her own maternal feelings and her daughter's apparent repentance, and assurances that she would renounce Captain Byron for ever, so far prevailed on her, that she consented the matter should be bushed up. The servant wbo had made the discovery was bribed to silence, and for a short time it seemed that the danger was over.
Some of the Marquis of Carmarthen's friends, however, now thought ii necessary to represent to him that his lady's conduct was the theme of the scandalous world, and prevailed upon bim to have her movements watched. Her imprudence soon furuished them with unequivocal proofs of her guilt. Her paramour was absent from London, eld, having occasion for a supply of money, he wrote to the marchioness, requesting her to send him as much as she could. She who bad loved him too well to hesitate at the surrender of her honour and her character, did not pause upon the application, but immediately sept him bank-notes to the amount of one hundred pounds, and with them a letter in which she begged him to come to her. She expressed n this letter the most boundless love for him, and informed him that, the marquis being out of town, they could again enjoy each other's society witbout the fear of detection. This letter never reached its destination, beinz intercepted by the agents of the marquis. Captain Byron came to town full of wonder at receiving no answer to his very urgent application; and the eclaircissement which took place on his seeing her ladyship of course convinced them that their connexion was no longer a secret. They learnt that the servants had been examined ; and Lady Carmarthen immediately left her own house, and went to that of Admiral Byron. A suit for a divorce was then commenced by the marquis, lo which no defence was offered on the part of his lady; and senteuce was pronounced of a separation between them, a mensa et thoro.
Lord and Lady Hoidernesse and the old admiral exerted themselves to bring about a marriage between the guilty parties, as the only means of repairing the lady's character: in this they succeeded, but her happiness was blighted for ever. Her new husband was brutal and unpriscipled; his passion for her, which was never, perhaps, very ardent, had now entirely subsided; and after lingering out two years of aninterrupted misery, during which she bore bim a daughter, the wretched lady died of remorse, and the incurable pains of a broken heart,
Captain Byron was married a second time, to Miss Gordon, of Gight, in 1785. This lady was of one of the most ancient families in Scotland, and possessed in her own right of a very considerable estale in Aberdeenshire. She, however, experienced the fate of every one who came in contact with Captain Byron : he dissipated the whole of her property, and, soon after the birth of his only son, the late Lord Byron, he totally abandoned her: he went to live at Valenciennes, where death put an end to his powers of doing mischief in 1791. He was one of those beings who seem to possess the active principles of evil alone, and who are permitted to exist for no other purpose, as far as human knowledge can penetrate, but to work out the punishment of others. The death of the fifth Lord Byron's eldest son having taken place in the same year as the late Lord Byron was boru, the latter became on his father's death the heir apparent to the honours and estates of the family, which were limited on the heirs male.