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them," said he. "Real wisdom is to be found in
not seeking to learn too much."

"Then I am a fool, for I want to know every-
thing," she said.

" That was the mistake that Mother Eve made,
and we are all suffering for it to-day," said he.

"I suppose so," she said. "No one will per-
suade me that marriage was instituted until the
expulsion from Eden."

"That is not orthodoxy," said he, "and I will
not be a party to anything that is not orthodox
in the presence of the children."



256 Love Alone Is Lord

" Then I shall send them away while I tell you
why I believe that marriage was a part of the
curse," she said pathetically.

" They shall remain if only to prove to me that
it was part of the general blessing and not of the
general curse," said he. "I will not have the
vagaries of a will o' the wisp inculcated upon
them."

"I like to hear you call me Will o' the Wisp,"
she said. " What name shall I call you, Byron
you see, I have called you Byron ; I hate to think
of you as ' my lord. ' I think of you as my brother
no, my sister, rather, my elder sister who knows
so many things that I do not know and who sym-
pathises with my ignorance, but refuses to en-
lighten it. What shall I call you, Byron?"

"Call me your child," he said. "You cannot
give me a name that I honour more highly."

" I will call you my Childe my Childe Harold,"
she said. "You know I have somehow come to
think of Childe Harold as my own."

"He is," said Byron, with his hand on the
golden head of the little boy, who was sitting on
his stool looking with all a child's deep seriousness
to each of his elders in turn as they spoke, trying
to make sense out of what they said, and being
puzzled.

"It, we are talking of it, not he," she said.
" Funny, is it not, that the poem has a soul and
is immortal, though the author is not according
to the author."



Love Alone Is Lord 257

" I would not advise you to believe in that au-
thor," said Byron.

She jumped up in a passion the children
had seen her in that way before: they did not
mind.

"In whom, then, am I to believe?" she cried.
" Tell me that, you who have given to me a poem
that has changed all my life." She threw herself
on her knees beside him he was sitting on a low
stool on a level with the children. " Byron," she
said, tenderly, " you do not know what your poem
is to me; and I thought that I was approaching
you through it. Do not bid me now go in search
of another Byron. I cannot do it I swear to you
that I cannot do it. I have found you. I must
believe in you. You cannot be so inhuman as to
cast me out from your presence believing in no
one believing in nothing."

He could not doubt that she spoke under the
impulse of a very strong feeling. She was un-
doubtedly an emotional creature a poet of a
kind passionate, undisciplined. He was touched
by her appeal to him, and for the first time he had
a sense of some responsibility. He had written a
poem the tendency of which was to inculcate
doubt. He had displaced that faith which meant
tranquillity of mind, and he was responsible for
the disorder which had followed.

He was touched by the passionate appeal which
she made to him, and he was conscious of a mo-
ment's remorse. He felt that he had done her an



258 Love Alone Is Lord

injustice in speaking lightly. He had had no
notion that she could be so serious.

"I am not a fitting guide for such as you," he
said. " I never set myself out to be a guide."

"But you are mine," she cried. "You have
made yourself my guide, whether to happiness or to
misery I do not care which. My soul is in your
keeping. I am the daughter of your genius. It
is too late now for you to think of disowning me."

"It is the last thing that I should think of,"
said he. " But the truth is that I feel that I have
no right who am I that I should venture to talk
of owning or disowning?"

"A great poet is one who greatly ventures,"
she said. "I tell you, my dear Childe Harold,
that I have drawn very near to you in reading
your poem, and now I feel that my life is in your
keeping the influence of your presence near me
is the most potent that I ever knew; and I feel
that you, too, can gain something that may be
of value to you some time, by being near me.
Byron, it was written in the book of fate that we
were to come together. What you think, that I
think. I am a woman and you are a man, and
there never was a man in the world who would
not at some time have given all the world to have
a woman near him. Swear to me that when you
need me you will not refrain from bidding me
come to your side. I will come, Byron; you
know that I will come you know that nothing
will hold me back nothing that other women



Love Alone Is Lord 259

hold dear husband, children, my good name.
You will be my friend. I ask you now if you will
be my friend."

"You may trust me," he said. "I think that
I am beginning to understand what 't is to be a
woman."

He put out his hand to her. She took it and
pressed it to her side. He saw that tears were in
her eyes.

In another instant she had sprung to her feet.

" Will o' the Wisp Will o' the Wisp that is
what you called me, and that is what 't is to be a
woman," she cried, dancing down the room wav-
ing the ends of the long sash that she wore; it
was of golden yellow riband, and the ends of it
fluttered around her like flame. " I am Will o'
the Wisp follow me, follow me, follow me."

This was something that the children could
understand this whirling dance with flying ri-
bands and waving hands; there was something
intelligible in all this; very different from that
strange, low- voiced conversation with an occa-
sional clasping of the hands, and then that tear-
ful tirade of reproach which had puzzled them.
They were on their feet in a moment, flying down
the room after her, shrilling her cry, "Will o'
the Wisp Will o' the Wisp," and trying to catch
an end of the primrose-flamed sash that she held
almost as high as her shoulders, shivering like the
pennon of a white-sailed sloop in the wind made
by her flight.



260 Love Alone Is Lord

Byron watched this charming child's play from
where he sat on the floor; and then, after some
graceful flittering between chairs and round tables,
she fluttered up to him, waving the riband in his
face and then, allowing it to encircle his neck,
tripping round him and leaning very close to him
for the purpose, she contrived to include him in
the game, much to the delight of the children.
Of course, it was inevitable that he should have
his hands on her waist that his arm should be
about her in his attempts to disentangle himself
that was a natural part of the game, and no more
to be avoided than the clasping of a partner at the
proper moment in the minuet.

But it set the man's blood in motion and red-
dened his pale face.

It was capital exercise, though it did not make
him laugh quite as heartily as it did the children.
They thought for a moment that he was dis-
pleased, and they paused.

"Mama, mama, Byr'n's huffed look at his
face he's ready to kvy," said the little boy.
" Don't kvy, Byr'n, 't is all play ; mama won't
hurt 'oo. Oh, mama, give him a kiss before he
gets cross."

She fell down on her knees laughing breath-
less from her rushing about.

" It is part of the play," said Byron, putting his
arm about her and kissing her twice three times.

She made no attempt to resist she only
laughed in the delightfully innocent way of a



Love Alone Is Lord 261

child at play. That was how she contrived that
the kiss should be brought into the game, as if
it were no more than the formal clasp in the sur-
render figure in the minuet.

Byron laughed, too, after a breathless moment,
and the children clapped their hands. The boy
was exuberant with the delight of seeing the
realisation of his prediction.

" He is dood now, quite dood so such a dood
boy; he is no more koss no more huffed," he
cried.

They wanted their mother to resume the game
of Will-o'-the-Wisp after the interlude, but she
shook her head.

"That is the end of the game, my darlings,"
she said.

"Every game ends mid a kiss, I s'pose," said
the boy, pouting, when she refused to yield to his
entreaties.

"Yes," she said; "that is the end of every
comedy in life."

"And everything after that is tragedy," said
Byron.

It had all been quite delightful, Byron reflected
when he found himself alone that night he had
been dining with the Jerseys, but it was not of
that entertainment, but of the one which had
taken place earlier in the day, that he was think-
ing. It had all been quite delightful so delight-
ful that he made up his mind that he would not



262 Love Alone Is Lord

pay another visit to Melbourne House for a long
time perhaps for ever. She seemed to him the
most fascinating the most tempting creature
that he had ever met.

But what was she? How was such a thing to
be defined? He came to the conclusion that she
was not susceptible of definition. She was an
April day. Who could define an April day?
Flashes of sunshine sweeping across meadows of
wild flowers, followed by a whirling shower, but
the shower only served to brighten the pink and
blue and saffron enamels that were set in the
emerald of the field; and then a sudden gloom,
that makes mute the melodies of the hedgerow;
but out of the gloom came a flash of lightning
dazzling; and then the suggestion of a rainbow
the arch of one of the bridges that span the tu-
multuous torrent that is called Eternity. Who
could define the revelation of God to the sons of
men in an April day?

Or a sonata the first movement dainty, ca-
pricious, with here and there a passage of infinite
tenderness and feeling; a second movement hav-
ing for its theme a mingling of passions sugges-
tions of vague, unexplored depths of thought
longings dreamings a whisper of hope. A
third movement of butterfly joyousness the
dance of fireflies the flying feet of fairies on a
night that is flooded with starlight, and every
star singing its song into the listening ear of
night.



Love Alone Is Lord 263

Oh, this poet had no trouble in finding images
of her at that hour. His imagination ran riot
when he thought of this woman who was so
strange a mingling of stimulating elements. He
thought of her as being everything save only a
woman. It was only when he had imagined her
as being everything else that it suddenly occurred
to him that she was a woman; and it was when
he thought of her as being a woman that he made
up his mind to keep away from her.

He would never see her again. He felt that it
would be madness to see her again. Of course it
would give him a pang ; it would be an agony to
sever from his life this sweet flowering thing that
had wound its tender tendrils about his life, but
the image that was in his mind was of a white,
clinging convolvulus about a pillar the severance
must take place before the tendrils found that
they were grasping marble and the flowers had
begun to wither. Even though he would have to
go back to his wanderings to effect his purpose,
he would save her from being blighted by associa-
tion with him.

He was very resolute on this point, and he went
to bed feeling stronger for his resolution.

He went to her the next day.

" I knew that you would come," she cried. She
was alone, and the poet thought how aptly he had
thought of her as a convolvulus. She wore an-
other frock of white muslin, soft and clinging,
with a delicate perfume of early summer hovering



264 Love Alone Is Lord

about her sometimes close to her, sometimes at
a distance. "I knew that you would come, my
Childe Harold, and now I see you at last at
last."

"How did you know? I did not know that I
should come. I made up my mind not to come,"
said he.

"What! But you promised. I had not a mo-
ment's doubt. I told you how it was with me.
You could not have been so cruel as to stay away."

"Cruel only to be kind. Alas! I am not
strong enough to stay away."

"You were not weak enough, you mean. It
would have shown an unworthy weakness if you
had not come. How would I have taken it? I
tell you that I would have taken it as a grave
affront, and I should have been right, too, for
would you not have suggested thereby that I was
weak? You would have been mistaken you are
mistaken if you do not think of me as being strong.
You have yet to know me, Byron. You have yet
to learn that I am not as other women. Vanity?
I have not the vanity that carries on so many
women to their doom. I detest flattery that is
not like other women, is it? I like you to be near
me because you are unlike other men. You have
never flattered me, and you do not look to me
for that flattery which every other woman has
flung at you. I have seen them fling their flat
tery in your face you were bespattered by it;
but I knew that you would wash off its marks



Love Alone Is Lord 265

with a single dip of your sponge. Did you expect
flattery? Did you get flattery ?"

"Mad, bad, and dangerous to know truth,
my Will o' the Wisp," said he.

" That was not flattery, at any rate, and I wrote
it, and told you that I wrote it," she cried. "I
take back no word. You were all that I wrote
when I wrote it; but I have changed you, and
you know it. Are you the same as you were ten
days ago, Byron tell me that?"

"I don't think that I am quite the same," he
replied, after a pause. He found himself unable
to answer her at once. Her question had startled
him. Was it possible that he had changed since
that night when he had first seen her?

" My poor boy," she said, laying both her hands
upon one of his, "I know what your life has been.
'Mad bad,' does not that describe it? You
knew nothing of what it was to have a home. The
place which you inherited was just the opposite
to what a home should be. Since you became a
man you have never known what it is to have a
woman for your friend. I have begun to teach
you that, and yet, when you have had a single
glimpse of the delight of such a friendship in the
centre of a home that meant to have upon you
the sweet influence that you have missed all your
life, you tell me that you are sorry you have
come hither to-day. Well, if you are sorry if
you are wilful enough to desire to go back to
your old lonely life, among the flatterers whom



266 Love Alone Is Lord

you despise, the women who look on you and
you know it only as the lion of the hour whose
presence at their routs they use as a bait to at-
tract shoals of silly fish if you prefer all this to
to what I can offer you, then go!"

She had risen from her seat with a fine expres-
sion of scorn on her face, and pointed to the door.

He caught her other hand, and, throwing him-
self on his knees beside her, covered it with kisses.

She looked down at him. The mask of scorn
had slipped from her face, and it now wore a look
of exquisite tenderness. She laid her hand on his
head and smoothed it for some moments; then
she gently put back the curls from his forehead
and, stooping down, kissed him there, not pas-
sionately, but with all the gentleness of a sister.



CHAPTER VIII

EVERYONE in the town except the young
woman's husband seemed to have some-
thing to say regarding the poet's attachment to
Lady Caroline Lamb, the wife of the Honourable
William Lamb, son of Lord Melbourne, and mem-
ber of Parliament for Westminster. In a week
or two it was the subject of gossip, then it was
regarded as a scandal, and then it entered into
the regions of romance and was accepted as an
incident affecting only the poet and the lady, and
perhaps, in a distant and immaterial way, the
lady's husband.

Byron was seen with her every day. The lady,
after a week or two, seemed to think more of being
seen with him than of being with him. She made
people understand with practical clearness that if
they were anxious to add to the interest of their
social functions by the presence of the author of
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage they should invite
Lady Caroline Lamb as well. Some of them had
a distinct objection to the lady, not that they
believed any of the whispers which had rustled
round society respecting her the very breath
that comes from a whisper is sometimes enough
to cause a film to overspread the silver surface of

267



268 Love Alone Is Lord

a woman's reputation but simply because Lady
Caroline was too uncertain in her ways to be
altogether a pleasant guest. It was her temper
rather than her temperament that made people
uneasy until they had seen her safe in her carriage
again after an entertainment.

She soon let it be understood that she was
aware of the fact that her social value had in-
creased by the attachment of friendship which
had come into existence between the great poet
and herself. And it was undoubtedly a fact. She
answered his invitations for him. And it soon
became known that she had improved his man-
ners. He had been accustomed to neglect the
punctilio of society, accepting invitations and not
acting up to his acceptances, or arriving an hour
or two late for a dinner which he had promised to
attend. But quickly all this was changed. Peo-
ple said that if Lady Caroline had been his own
wife she could not have amended his manners more
effectively than she did; and this was probably
true. She took care that he came to the places
where he was due and that he came in proper
time, for she brought him with herself. Hostesses
praised her, and so did their other guests, who in
the old days had been forced to eat cold soup and
cremated chickens owing to the thoughtlessness
of the dilatory Lord Byron.

Soon the discovery was made that the poet and
the lady made a most picturesque pair, and the
picture possessed the merit of traditional accur-



Love Alone Is Lord 269

acy, so to speak. The fact was recalled by the
more erudite of their acquaintances that the
friendship of a poet for a lady who was not his
wife constituted a biographical incident that
could not be overlooked in any memoir of the
former ; and they affirmed that of this fact no one
was more fully aware than Lady Caroline Lamb.

"Laura," whispered Madame de Stael to Lord
Holland, as Lady Caroline passed them by with
a smile, with Byron on her arm one evening at
Lady Jersey's. "Laura! She is playing Laura
to his Petrarch and so she is a copy of Laura
done by a schoolgirl with a pencil on a slate."

Lord Holland laughed.

"I wonder who will come with the sponge to
wipe her out," said he.

"We shall see," said Madame. "English so-
ciety contains plenty of sponges, and a slate
pencil does not bite so deep as Mr. Finden's
graver."

"Beatrice! she is playing the part of Beatrice
to Byron's Dante," was the comment of another
sapient observer this time it was the beautiful
Lady Oxford, who it was known had ambitions
herself in the direction of the poet, whom she
approached through the agency of her child, the
lovely lolanthe.

"A Beatrice a Beatrice cut out of tissue-
paper with a blunt scissors," asserted her con-
fidante.

The erudition of the circle was not equal to a



270 Love Alone Is Lord

greater strain than the recalling of the cases of
Laura and Petrarch and Beatrice and Dante ; and
they knew that the historical researches of Lady
Caroline did not go beyond their own. She did
not need to go any further than these cases. She
was quite satisfied to be recorded by all bio-
graphers of the author of Childe Harold's Pil-
grimage as his Laura or his Beatrice, and when
she found that her poet suffered himself to be led
by her whithersoever she desired to lead him, her
ambition was satisfied, for she was convinced that
the world was talking with bated breath of the
influence which she had upon him she could hear
them wondering what his next poem would be
like would it reflect very plainly the result of
the meeting of their minds? That was how she
put it: the meeting of their minds. She had
hungered for literary distinction. Now she was
about to obtain it. Whatever his new poem
would be she was convinced that critics, without
being more sapient than critics usually are, would
say that the influence of Lady Caroline Lamb was
apparent in many of its greatest passages.

In any case she made up her mind that he
would dedicate the poem to her, and she knew
that the dedication of a poem lives as long as the
poem itself. This fact, she knew, makes it worth
any young woman's while to go to a certain
amount of trouble in order to have the work of
a greater poet dedicated to herself. When the
means which she adopts for the effecting of her



Love Alone Is Lord 271

object are such as enable her to partake of a great
deal of innocent enjoyment and to have a con-
siderable share in the honour done to the poet in
his lifetime, the burden of sharing the immortal-
ity of his work is not one that is grievous to be
borne.

This is what a good many people remarked in
the course of their discussions, with the usual
smiles and knowing headshakings, of the poet and
his friendship. They suggested that the friend-
ship was a very delightful one for the lady, and
they were right. There were others who said
that it was a very delightful one for the poet, and
these were also right. The emotions of the lady's
husband were regarded as negligible. Now and
again there came a report that he had remon-
strated with her; but as it was generally known
that all his married life, from the moment that he
had left the altar with her by his side, after en-
deavouring to soothe the prelate whom she had
grossly affronted, was one continual remonstrance,
it was not supposed that the detail which touched
upon Lord Byron was one of any importance.
She still lived with him and the Melbournes at
Melbourne House, and Byron visited her almost
every day and extended his friendship to all the
members of her family.

He felt every day that the prospect which she
had held out to him had been realised. He was
participating for the first time in his life in the
happiness of a home. If Lady Caroline was a



272 Love Alone Is Lord

sister to him, Lady Melbourne was much more of
a mother than his own mother had ever been.
She was even more of a mother to him than the
younger lady was a sister, and this was probably
why, after their delightful friendship had con-
tinued for several months, she ventured to point
out to him the possibility of ill-natured persons
gossiping on this sacred subject, to the detriment
of himself and of her family. She said nothing
about the detriment to Lady Caroline, knowing
as she did, that an extra word or two of gossip
could matter little to her.

"My dear Byron," she said one day when she
was alone with him. "I have been thinking a
good deal about you and your visits to us, and I
feel that I should tell you that the result of my
consideration of the matter is to make me feel
that we have been extremely selfish in regard to
you. It has been so agreeable to all of us to have
your society that we have shut our eyes to the
possibilities of harm coming of your visits."

"Harm?" he cried. "Dear Lady Melbourne,
you do not think of shutting me out from the only
good influence that has ever come into my life."

"Good influence? That is just the question
which disturbs me," said Lady Melbourne. "Can
that influence be accounted as good which per-
mits a man of genius to fritter away his days
in idleness ? Will posterity hold us guiltless when
it is known that we admitted you to this house
day after day to no purpose, to spend your time



Love Alone Is Lord 273

in a boudoir chattering about nothing that is of
the least consequence in the world playing
games with the children "

"The children I believe that they have
changed my nature they have done more for
me than all the divines, than all the philo-
sophers -

"That is all very well; but it is necessary for
you to show to the world how greatly you have
profited by their influence."

"Oh, the world! I can afford to despise the
world."

" You cannot afford to despise yourself, Byron ;
and if the influence of the children of this house-
hold has been exercised in a right direction you
will soon be despising yourself. Hours of Idleness
that was the name of your early poems, but
those meant hours of work. Your real profitless
hours of idleness only began when you became
intimate with us in this house. Dear Byron, I
am much older than you, and I have had experi-
ence of the world and of all the most notable men
and women of our time, and I give you the result
of my life when I tell you, in all kindness and with
all feelings of true affection, that you were never


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