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He replied to one of her letters only, but he did
it in such a spirit as would, he feared, not com-
mend itself unreservedly to Lady Caroline. It
was the letter of the good friend the most un-
appetising type of communication possible to be
received by a correspondent who rhapsodised of
passion. Worst of all, he told her that his where-
abouts would for some time be so uncertain that
he had instructed his caretaker to send all his
letters to Mr. John Murray of Albemarle Street,
who would open them all and reply to such as
needed an immediate answer.

Still she showered her letters upon him, and he
was forced to confess that she reached a very
high level as an exponent of the aggrieved, re-
proachful style of composition in the communica-
tion which she sent to him on the publication of
The Giaour. The poem was not dedicated to her
that was her plaint. Surely her friendship for

348 Love Alone Is Lord

him demanded so simple an acknowledgment.
But it was not yet too late : a second edition was,
she understood, likely to be called for, and she
would be satisfied if this supplied an omission
for which, possibly, a printer's carelessness was

Her next letter was in quite another strain.

" I am writing a novel," she wrote, " and though
my name does not appear in the dedication of The
Giaour, you may be sure that I shall take care
that the identity of my Hero will be disclosed on
every page. It will be the portrait of a Monster,
not a Man, and my readers shall know that there
is only one such, thank Heaven, in England!"

She kept her threat, but when her novel of
Glenarvon was published, he was far away from

But even the recollection of her threat did not
mar the feeling of gladness which awoke within
him as his chaise passed through the entrance
gates at Newstead on that bright spring day, and
the vast mass of the old Priory came before his

It was his own. That was his first thought:
it was not one of pride. He was lord of a mag-
nificent ruin. He was returning to a desolated
abbey when his heart was full of longing for a
home. The gladness which had come to him
from driving through the green landscape van-
ished. He had never felt lonelier in all his life
than he did when the great mouldering gable of

Love Alone Is Lord 349

Newstead came before his eyes. He had won for
himself by his genius a position such as had never
before been attained by a writer of his years, his
name was on the lips of every man and woman of
note in the kingdom, and there he was looking
up at the ruin and feeling as if some satirical
demon had summoned him to see a monument
that was standing to his fame an imposing pile
of ruins.

All that he wanted for his own comfort was a
couple of rooms in a cottage, and yet here he was,
doomed to the splendid inconveniences of a glori-
ous memorial of the transitory. It seemed as if
all the ironical demons that have undertaken the
education of man had been planning this master-
piece of construction this entrance of the most
distinguished of living men into his heritage.

The place would have been a silent solitude if it
had not been for the birds which gave the ivy
forest of the front the appearance of being a
living, moving thing. There was not an ivy leaf
that was not in motion with the birds leaving or
returning to their nests. One continuous ripple
of life ran across the ivy one continuous twitter
rippled from the eaves to the basement. No serv-
ants were in sight. Not a human being was to
be seen in the grounds or on the banks of the lake.
Lord Byron's personal servants, who followed him
in a second chaise, had to ring the hall door-bell
before the inheritor could obtain admission to his

35 Love Alone Is Lord

The butler explained that he had not expected
his lordship before the evening. Mr. Vince had
certainly said that it would be evening before
his lordship could arrive.

Happily his lordship was not the ordinary man
who looks for a well-cooked meal to be ready at
whatever hour he may choose to arrive home.
Byron was content with the most meagre fare,
and he would not partake of it for some hours.
He left the grumbling by reason of the missing
meal to be done by the servants who had travelled
with him. And they did it. They had none of
his lordship's foolish notions on the subject of
a reasonable regimen. They never got on friendly
terms with the house staff, beginning as they did,
with empty reproaches, and proceeding to com-
plaints about the beef and the choice of the beer.
But what could be expected, they growled, of a
household where his lordship could be contented
with pickled cabbage and soda-water?

In the afternoon Byron strolled away from the
house to the lake, where his eccentric predecessor
had sailed his model frigates, and brought them
into action against each other with the discharge
of real carronades. He had his pocket full of
scraps of biscuit for the carp; and it amused
him to recognise among the fish some of his old
friends overgrown monsters, tame and impu-
dent, scorning plain biscuit when they could get
fragments of cake.

But when he had amused himself in this way

Love Alone Is Lord 351

for some time, and the carp, finding that they
could get nothing more out of him, had forsaken
his part of the pond they showed, he thought,
as much intelligence as if they were men, he
seated himself on one of the stone steps of the
bank and began to wonder what had brought him
to Newstead this house of loneliness this mag-
nificent dwelling-place that seemed to stand only
to be a constant reminder to him that he had no
home. He had been happy enough going from
house to house during the winter and the spring,
and he knew that he might have continued his
roaming far into the summer if he had made up
his mind that London was to be closed to him.
He remembered that he had been seized by a
sudden longing to be alone a passion for solitude
which occasionally had taken possession of him
since his Harrow days.

It was in the strength of this yearning that he
had come back to Newstead, and he had felt that
he had done well, all the time that he was oc-
cupied in the journey. He had not felt lonely
for a moment. The pageant of early summer
was ever before his eyes. He thought of those
days of the. season as of an exquisite maiden
the maiden of the spring was in the act of looking
with wide blue eyes at all things of the earth,
becoming vaguely conscious of the womanhood
of summer which was beginning to make her
heart beat faster. The passionate heart of sum-
mer had begun to beat in the maiden bosom of

352 Love Alone Is Lord

spring, and she was still rapt in the wonder of the
change. The poet had seen the shy face peeping
out from the buds of the trees, from the blossoms
of the thorn hedgerows he had seen her flying
feet among the primroses, and he had caught a
glimpse of her flying hair when the sunlight had
brought out all the sweet scents of the leafage of
a lane, down which he had driven one warm

The poet knew that this masque of nature
which was played hourly before his eyes, with the
choruses chanted in the woodlands, was the
noblest poem that ever made the world rejoice.
He rejoiced to witness it; it was only when he
had come to the end of his journey that he felt
the loneliness of being alone. He had forgotten
that he himself was a part of the season that
he himself was a part of the pageant that was
being played in nature the pageant which is
Nature herself.

He lay back with his hands clasped beneath
his head, looking up to the sky, and his thoughts
went back to the morning when he had lain down
on the roadside in the dawn, with his eyes turned
to the heaven, and had awakened to look into
the face of Mary Chaworth. It was part of
nature's trickery for making everything dis-
satisfied with loneliness at this season, that he
should think of Mary Chaworth. But he did
not find that his loneliness was dispersed by his
thoughts of her; for his imagination led him to

Love Alone Is Lord 353

paint a picture of Newstead with Mary Chaworth
waiting at the entrance to welcome him on his
return to the place.

That was what Newstead wanted to transform
the dreariness of its ruin into a home. What
fate was it that had prevented his meeting her
until it was too late? Whatever fate it was, he
still felt as he had felt for years, that it was the
most evil accident of his life; he knew that it
had influenced all his life almost every act of
his life.

His affection for Mary Chaworth had long ago
become, he thought, nothing more than a certain
tender memory a gracious, melancholy memory
of youth. But he had never taken his pen in his
hand to put on paper the music that flowed
through his mind, without thinking of her
without feeling that it was she who had first
taught him what it was to be a poet. It was not
until he had looked up to the blue heaven of her
eyes that the knowledge came to him of what
was meant by that unsatisfied feeling of which
he had been so frequently conscious. She had
given him the key that had solved the mystery.

But she had at the same instant unlocked for
him the mystery of love the impulse of the
truest poetry. He had never loved since he had
parted from Mary Chaworth. He felt that he
had worshipped the light that came from the sun
itself, and he could not bow his knee before an
ignis fatuus. To be sure, he had been diverted

354 Love Alone Is Lord

by many a will o' the wisp before Lady Caroline
Lamb came before him, but the prayer of Naaman,
Captain of the host of the King of Syria, was ever
in his heart at such times. The Shrine of Rim-
mon had its meretricious charms for him, but
his heart was ever in the true Temple.

He had seen nothing of Mary during all the
years that had passed; he had had no desire to
see her. He was quite satisfied that his love for
her had become the tender memory that it now
was; a devotional memory, not to be spoken of
to any of his intimates.

He lay there for an hour with his hands clasped
at the back of his head. He watched the sun
creep round the wing of the Abbey so that its
rays struck the flat surface of the lake, quivering
there like golden javelins flung against a target
of bright steel; he watched a hare sitting quite
contentedly among the grasses at the side of the
water, not noticing his presence; he heard the
quick little splash of a fish taking a fly on the sur-
face. The afternoon was warm. There was a
slumberous sound of bees in the air. He fell
asleep without feeling sleepy, just as he had done
on that morning long ago, when he had opened his
eyes and seen the face of Mary Chaworth close to

And now, when he opened his eyes, he found
himself looking into the face of Mary Chaworth,
but it was the face which appears in the phantasm
of a dream the face of Mary Chaworth, but the

Love Alone Is Lord 355

face of a child as well. He quickly raised his
head and straightened himself, gazing at this in-
comprehensible vision. The little girl with the
face and the hair of Mary Chaworth stood there,
only a few yards off, gazing at him with large
eyes of wondering blue.


(* WOU are a miniature," said the poet, in a
I voice so low that she knew it was not
meant to be answered by her. So she still gazed
at him. She was not so lost in wonder as he was.
"You are the fairy spirit of a day of the past
the daintiest dream that ever came out of the
limbo of memory."

For some minutes he failed to realise that he
was fully awake; but suddenly the explanation
came to him with a flash. He was unable to speak
at first, so great was his emotion. He turned
aside his head to recover himself. The little girl
was moving away, slowly, and still keeping her
eyes on him.

"Do not go away without speaking to me," he
said, putting out a hand to her. She stopped,
and after a critical scrutiny of him she went to
him and put her hand in his confidingly.

" My name is Mary Musters Chaworth Musters,"
she said. "It used to be just the same, only
without the other Musters. It was only Mary
Musters Chaworth. When I say it all straight
out now some people fancy that there are two of
me. They laugh at the two Musters. It is not
funny to laugh at things that are n't funny, now


Love Alone Is Lord 357

is it? and I have a doll that undresses and its
name is Princess Charlotte have you ever seen
the Princess Charlotte the real one and I have a
rabbit that jumps and mama is never cross as
papa is. I love my mama and I love my papa
because she told me that I must and so I do
though I really hate him and what's your name
and have you any little girls and do you buy them
dolls naked or with clothes?"

She went on without a stop, pronouncing her
words with the sweetest little lisp, and, of course,
ignoring the the in favour of a d. She called
'without' midout, and 'naked' she pronounced
maked. She was not at all breathless after she
had spoken at such length and on topics covering
such an extent of ground. She stood looking into
his face with serious eyes.

He held her hand in both his own. Her fea-
tures were those of Mary Chaworth as he had
known her: the child had the same frank blue-
grey eyes, the same forehead over which the
ringlets as if yellow silk threads with the light
shining upon them rioted. She was Mary's
child; and even while he gazed at her the grave
expression upon her face passed away in a smile.
That was exactly how Mary Chaworth 's mood had
changed at times he remembered it well.

He could not speak for some time. The flood
of gracious memories that came upon him over-
whelmed him. He could only smooth the little
hand even that, he noticed, was the shape of

358 Love Alone Is Lord

Mary's hand smiling out of the sadness of his

The child did not resent his silence. She looked
at him as if she understood how it was with him
gentleness compassion her face expressed both,
he thought ; she had something of the intuition of
her mother.

"You are Mary Chaworth," he said.

"Mary Musters Chaworth Musters, now," said
the child, taking a long breath and saying the
words in a gasp.

"And do you think we ever met before, my
Mary?" he asked.

She looked at him with a little surprise. It
was clear that she considered that she had a good
memory and was reluctant that it should be
found wanting. She kept her eyes fixed upon his
face for a few moments and then she said, de-
cisively, shaking her head,

" No ; I never saw you in all my life."

"Not in all your life, but don't you think it
possible that you were somewhere as a little
angel's soul, near me long ago before your life
began? That is what I think when I look at you,
sweet Mary."

He saw the puzzled look that came over her
face, and he hastened to reassure her.

"You never heard any one talk greater non-
sense than that, did you, now?" he asked her.

"No; I never did, indeed," she assented
warmly. "All the angels are in heaven."

Love Alone Is Lord 359

"Are they?" he said.

"Yes; and if we are good, very good, mind,
we may go among them when we die," said the
child gravely.

" And do you think that you would like to go
to them, Mary?" he asked.

" I think 't would be drefful! " she replied. " I
should have to leave my mama. I don't want to
go away from my mama to be an angel. But
nurse says that heaven is lovely just as nice as
going to the seaside in summer, and all the sand
is gold, and the sea is silver, and the sea never
goes out so we can paddle all day. Nurse said it
was heavenly at the seaside, and I thought that
the big white birds flying about were the angels,
only they had n't harps. Mama has a harp; it's
big and only a very strong angel could fly about
with it. Have you a harp? "

He shook his head.

"I have what I sometimes call my lyre," said

She lifted up a finger to him.

" You must never say that word, it 's a naughty
one," she whispered. " If you say it you will get
hurt. Tommy, who is in the stables and combs
my pony's tail, came to cook one day and asked
for a bit of raw beef. I was looking over the
stairs and I heard him. His eye was shut dref-
fully, and it looked as if a little mouse was lying
down on it. Cook laughed and so did Becky, and
Deborah and Rawdons, who cleans the boots.

360 Love Alone Is Lord

They all looked at his eye, and everybody wanted
to know how he had got it so drefful, and he said
that he had said that word to Johnson, the coach-
man's son, and he had got him a left 'ander on the
peeper. I asked nurse what a left 'ander was and
what a peeper was and she said it was stable talk
and not fit for young ladies. I 'm a young lady."

" I will never say that word again," said Byron.

"What word?"

" The word that got Tommy a left 'ander on the
peeper. I should n't like such a thing to happen
to me."

" If you are good nothing will happen to you.
You must always do what you are told until you
are grown up."

"And after that?"

"Oh, you may do as you please. Did you do
what you were told when you were a little boy?"

"Not always, I'm afraid. I did not begin to
do it until I was grown up."

"Did you get beaten with a cane or with a
whip?" '

"Sometimes with one, sometimes with the
other whichever was handier at the moment."

" Miss Sims uses a newspaper folded up ; she 's
our governess. Did you ever have a newspaper
used against you?"

" Indeed I have ; scarcely a day passes without
a newspaper beating me, my dear."


"Very hard."

Love Alone Is Lord 361

" It 's all to make you good. I s 'pose you are
very bad."

"What do you think about it yourself, my

"About what?"

" About my badness. Do you think that I am

"You look good; but Miss Sims says that
sometimes the best-looking gentlemen are the
worsest. Papa said Miss Sims was an old maid,
but good enough for teaching brats. Miss Sims
was angry and said that if she was an old maid it
was her own fault. I did n't know that she had
any faults before then. But she cried in the
schoolroom when we were making toffee that
evening. I asked her if she was crying for her
faults, and she stopped crying so that she might
be angry. The toffee got burnt. Do you like

"Not exactly that sort, my dear. But I've
found that always when I had prepared to enjoy
a feast of toffee it tasted burnt the moment it got
near my lips and left a bad taste in my mouth.
I'm not a good toffee maker."

" Did you rub the pan well with butter?"

" Alas ! I 'm afraid that I am one of those people
who try to make toffee on a gridiron."

She was shocked and took a step back from
him in surprise.

"It would all go into the fire all the sugar,"
she cried.

362 Love Alone Is Lord

"And so it did all the sugar went into the
fire," said he.

"Did you cry?" she asked in a low voice.

"I'm afraid that I did through two volumes,"
he replied smiling. "But I 'm merry now since
I met you, my Mary my Mary it makes me
glad even to say your name Mary Mary. I
should be always glad if I could always have your
name on my lips. It is the only name that I ever
knew which leaves a sweet taste in my mouth."

"You may say it all as often as you like"-
she took a long breath " Mary Musters Chaworth
Musters. May be 't is too long for you to learn.
Do you still learn lessons?"

"I do, daily. I am learning one now."

"Where's your book? I have got as far as
' The cow and the cat are fat ' ' The man ran to
the dog ' ' The pig is in its bed. ' ' Suddenly she
looked away from him and cried :

"Oh, here is mama! She is looking for me, I
know. Where is Mr. Vince? I came here with
Mr. Vince."

He glanced round Mary Chaworth the mother
was standing among the trees, with a hand
stretched out to the little girl who was running
toward her, but her eyes were upon Byron.

He got upon his feet and shook back the curls
that had fallen over his forehead. She came to
him smiling, her child dancing round her, holding
her hand ; she was telling her mother of the funny
man who had tried to make toffee on a gridiron.

Love Alone Is Lord 363

Thus it was they met after the lapse of years
both smiling, both silent. The child became
silent too, looking up to her mother and then at

"I did not expect to see you here," she said.
"O Byron, what a long time you were in com-
ing! But I am glad to see you again. Seeing
you looking so young makes me feel young once
more. Oh, the long years! You belong to the
world now, not to Newstead, not to us. But
you have not forgotten that your lips were first
unsealed among us. It was with us that you first
learned the magic with which you have enchained
the world."

"I can never forget it," he said. "I do not
know if the world will remember anything that I
have written as long as I remember the first song
that came to me. It was you who picked up the
chirping sparrow that was thrown out of its nest
on the roadside, Mary. I was thinking of it only
an hour ago."

"It was a forlorn little bird then everyone
thought that it was a sparrow ; but I had a feeling
that it was a nightingale; it has shown itself to
be a nightingale the sweetest that ever sang in
England," she cried. " I have read Childe Harold
not always without tears, Byron. Happiness?
The song of the Eastern nightingale to the rose
is that always a song of happiness? To be
a poet is, I think, to be the interpreter of un-

364 Love Alone Is Lord

" It was from you I got that word ' Interpreter/ '
he said. "That is the one word which I have
always tried to remember. I wished to be an
interpreter between man and man, between man
and nature."

"And that, I told you, is what it is to be a
poet," she said.

" It is it is ; and if I could always remember
that and forget myself I should be a poet," said
he. "But when I read what I have written I
feel humiliated; I feel that I have put myself
into too great prominence. People have read
Childe Harold and believed that I was putting
myself and myself only into the poem."

"They were fools!" she cried. "I read it and
knew that you were not looking at everything that
you described through a single pair of eyes, and
those eyes your own. But the unhappiness the
pedal of unhappiness which you press down now
and again, sending a note that mourns through
stanza after stanza that, I fear, is your own
note the unsatisfied cry of the dreamer of
dreams. But the nobleness of it all the love of
freedom the passionate war-cry in the ears of a
world that loves better to sleep than anything
else that also is yourself, Byron. That is what
I love that trumpet-call of Liberty. I heard
it, my dear Byron, and I thought of the promise
which you made to me in the garden at Annesley
I have never sat on that stone bench without
thinking that I was sitting there that day when

Love Alone Is Lord 365

you promised me that you would ever be on the
side of Freedom that you would ever lift up your
voice in behalf of the oppressed against the op-
pressive. You have kept your word. You have
not forgotten the night when I sang about the
Minstrel Boy to you?"

"Ah, that night that night, Mary!"

"It was a wonderful night. I felt that you
were indeed the minstrel carrying both the harp
and the sword going out into the world no true
poet can face the world unless with a sword in his
hand. He has to strike at all that keeps the
world unbeautiful. You have struck well, my
minstrel, and you will strike more strongly still
when you get to know your own power. You
will "

"Ah, do not let us talk any more about my-
self," said Byron. "I want to hear about you,
yourself. You have been happy? "

"Yes, I have been happy," she said quietly.

" You say that in the tone of a woman who is
reconciled to her unhappiness," said he.

She shook her head.

" I have two children," she said. " They mean
nothing but happiness to me."

After only a short pause she laughed the laugh
of the girl whom he had known at Annesley.

" I think that it is harder for a woman to be
reconciled to her happiness than to her unhappi-
ness," she cried. "There is a hard saying for
you to interpret, Cousin Byron, the interpreter

366 Love Alone Is Lord

between man and man. I wonder if you have
ever thought of woman as needing an interpreter
sometimes always ? "

"Always always," said Byron.

"Always? I think that you are right," said
she musingly. " Up to the present, man knows
very little about woman. That is because she
thinks in one language and talks in another; so
her interpreters are baffled: they know only the
language in which she speaks and thus man gets

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 20 of 28)