Frank Frankfort Moore.

Love alone is lord online

. (page 9 of 28)
Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 9 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


cause I bear the same name as the man who "



Love Alone Is Lord H7

"Oh, no, no; that is nothing; but surely
oh, surely you know that I that I

Her voice faltered; her lips began to tremble
as do the lips of an infant when on the brink of
tears. She turned away her head, but not be-
fore* she had given him one piteous glance.

"What should I know?" he said, with some
measure of impatience. " I only know one thing,
and that is enough for me ; it is enough for both
of us, Mary; I love you you love me that is
one thing, not two things; we love there is
nothing else in the world or the heaven, for us."

"There is something else for me," she said
mournfully. Then she made an effort, she lifted
her head up boldly, saying in a voice which was
perfectly under command :

"Cousin Byron, you should have known I
thought that you knew that I am not free; I
have promised to love someone whom I met last
year I am to marry him in the spring."

He did not give any violent start when she had
spoken. He looked at her as if he had not heard
a word that she had said, or as if he were trying,
but failing, to grasp the meaning of her words.
Then he became deathly pale. In her firmness
of the moment she was able to watch him. He
caught her eyes for an instant, and then he turned
on his saddle and looked out over the wide
stretch of country that lay beneath him "the
living landscape and the wave of woods." He
continued gazing out over the shallow valley in



148 Love Alone Is Lord

silence for a long time, as if they had ridden to
the Knoll solely to enjoy the prospect.

Mary Chaworth had become fully composed
since she had made her confession to him. When
she spoke to him there was no tremor in her voice.

" Dear Cousin Byron," she said, "we have been
two good comrades, you and I. We have been
as much together as if we were brother and sister.
Surely you will not be the one to let our happy
friendship our affectionate friendship be shat-
tered because in a moment of excitement of
thoughtlessness you fancied that that some-
thing else was possible some other affection
perhaps a less enduring affection, Byron."

He wheeled round upon her in his saddle.

"You are to marry another man, and yet you
dare not deny that I am the man whom you love,"
he said.

Her self-possession vanished in a moment.

" Spare me, Byron ; oh, spare me ; do not be so
cruel so unjust," she said.

" One of us has been cruel unjust ; I ask you,
have I been that one, Mary ? "

"I was to blame I was to blame, I admit it,
but "

"Tell me if you dare that you do not love
me."

She looked away from him. He saw the at-
tempt that she was making to compose herself once
more. Every moment that she spent over the
effort was a moment of triumph to him. But so



Love Alone Is Lord 149

long a space passed before she succeeded, he
ceased to pity himself, and began to pity her.

"My poor Mary!" he said; but before he had
quite uttered the words, she was facing him.

"You insult me," she cried. "Pity? Did I
ask you for your pity? What right have you to
pity me? Why should you pity me? Pity your-
self, if you wish, for it is you who have need of
it you who have misunderstood the interest
which I took in you the affection which I freely
gave you because I saw that you stood in need of
it, on account of your temperament on account
of your unhappy surroundings you mistook that
for for something quite different. Oh, just
think of everything that has happened from the
standpoint of someone of experience of the world.
I do not mean to be cruel when I say what you
know to be the truth, that if any of our friends
were to hear of this of my trying to talk to you
so seriously, they would laugh, thinking of you only
as a schoolboy but they would laugh at me more
heartily still. Oh, yes, they would be convulsed,
but then, they would shake their heads and say
that at my age I should have known better than
to talk to you as if you were a man. Oh, Byron,
do not be angry with me for speaking such cruel
words to you. I speak them because I am so
fond of you, and I know that you will be less un-
happy, detesting me for speaking them than you
would be in cherishing a hopeless hopeless
delusion."



150 Love Alone Is Lord

He had not taken his eyes off her face all the
time that she was speaking. But his expression
was never the same from one sentence to another.
Her words seemed to be as breaths of air, and his
features as the surface of water on which they
were playing on a day of varying lights and
shadows. His lips quivered at moments, his
forehead became lined, he flushed crimson, he
paled, he shivered, he became livid, his eyes
flashed and flamed, and then became dull and
hard. Within a few minutes he underwent all
the emotions that a man may experience in a
lifetime. His temperament was that of an
^Eolian harp that is affected by every breath
sensitive, high-strung and his features responded
to every beat of his heart. She felt, watching his
ever-changing face, as if she were listening to a
subtle musical piece modulating emotionally from
key to key.

The result of the effort which she made was to
leave her palpitating, and to leave him smiling,
as though he had become a man of the world
within the space of her speech.

"Poor Mary!" he said, with that shivering
smile upon his face. "Poor Mary! I see the
truth now ; I see the effort that you have made on
my behalf and on your own. I see now that
your anxiety for my going away is due to your
mistrust of yourself. You know that I love you,
and that you love me. You dare not trust me
any longer near you. You think that, separated,



Love Alone Is Lord 151

I shall forgive, and you will forget. I tell you
that you are too late you are too late your
own true heart tells you that you are too late."

"Look there," she cried, pointing with her
riding whip down among the woods. "Look
there! That is the man whom I am going to
marry in six months. That is the man, and he
is coming here to meet me."

She spoke eagerly; the words seemed to flash
from her. Her face, pallid and anxious at first,
became rosy and rigid. She was looking at the
advancing figure on horseback, and her eyes were
those of the commander of a troop of soldiers
watching the movements of an enemy. She
gazed down from the hill crowned with the trees.
Her lips were parted; she was breathing quickly
audibly. Suddenly, she cast a glance behind
her, just as the soldier might, with a view to dis-
cover a tract of retreat only for a moment, how-
ever ; the next moment she had risen in her saddle,
and was waving her riding gauntlets high in the
air, crying aloud in the shrill notes of one who
wishes one's voice to travel far, the huntsman
halloo when the object of the chase is run to
earth. Three times she sent that note ringing
through the still air.

The man on the horse, riding up the gentle de-
clivity from the woods, waved his hunting crop
and returned the halloo!

Byron sat motionless on his horse. He was not
part of the picture.



CHAPTER XII

IT was under the white blossoms of a great thorn
one morning in the following April that he
read his letter, not for the first time. The
shadow of the autumn, and the gloom of the win-
ter had passed over the land. People had been
talking everywhere of the approaching terror
Bonaparte. The victory of Trafalgar had been
the one brilliant spot on the edge of the darkness,
but out of the smoke and din of the battle the
grim spectre which had been hovering over Europe
like the phantom of Pestilence in a picture,
emerged, blackened by the fire of Nelson's guns,
but still in the eyes of England the incarnation
of Evil, and potent for mischief.

The woodland spaces over which Byron had
looked from the Knoll had shrivelled from russet
brown to gold, and later on had become sparsely
black, massive trunks flinging forth frantic arms
on every side, from which thousands of thread-
like twigs etched the dull skies. Then there was
a long snow, making the world a wonder to all
who looked out upon it, and before it had wholly
melted, the delicate green buds began to unfold
themselves cautiously and coyly until the daffo-
dils of March had drunk deep draughts of sunshine.

152



Love Alone Is Lord 153

Then, with ceaseless songs from bower and break
a cascade of mingling melodies, flinging its
pellucid streams to every breeze that blew the
emerald spring lay upon the land.

And now Byron, who had dreamed his dream
with- the autumn landscape before his eyes and
the autumn atmosphere clinging with cold mist
fingers about his heart, was sitting beneath the
genial snow of the hawthorn reading his letter.

It was not a farewell letter by any means. It
looked forward, as well as back.

"You will be at Newstead in a year or two,
and we shall be at Annesley and Colwick, so that
we shall be within reach of each other's hands at
all times. Dear, dear cousin, you know that I
shall ever look forward to see you, to meet your
hand, and, in holding it, to hold once more to my
life at least one week of my past, which was made
sweet with your friendship. Surely there is no-
thing so well worth the cherishing as friendship
such friendship as ours I was going to add was,
but now I write is such friendship as ours is
yes, and ever shall remain, dear, dear Byron. We
shall cherish this feeling between us, and I cannot
doubt that we shall find it the sweetest part of
our lives.

" Only one more word to my dear Byron ; and
this is to urge him to refrain from saying in too
great haste what is a sorrow and what is a joy
what is a good thing to happen to us in our life,



154 Love Alone Is Lord

and what is an evil thing. I am not very old,
but I have lived long enough to be made aware of
this something that happens to us we may be
disposed at the time to think the greatest mis-
fortune that could possibly overtake us, and to
despair of life altogether on account of it; but
before a year has passed sometimes before even
a month I have found out that it was not a
a misfortune, but a blessing. And the same
thing has happened when I was overjoyed at
what I believed to be one of Fortune's good turns
on my behalf. A day was often enough to change
all my ideas on that particular point. Who are
we that would presume to say that we know
better than Heaven what things are for our good?

" That is all ; only let me implore of you to let
your great consolation be (next to Heaven) in all
moments of grief and disappointment, Poetry.
Do not cut yourself off from that which will help
you to bear manfully with the worst that life may
have in store for you, and to help others in the
world, who may read what you have written, to
bear their burdens with bravery. I have a right
to say this to you, have I not? Being, as you
once said I was, your poetic godmother, I con-
sider it my duty to keep your feet from straying
into other ways. You are a poet I am as certain
of that as one can be of anything in this world.
And, remember, that to be a poet is to be the
greatest of all God's creatures.

" I do not say farewell, dear Byron, but good-



Love Alone Is Lord 155

bye in its full meaning God be with you, my
dear cousin, and with me. If God be with you,
and also with me, then, indeed, shall we not be
always together?

"MARY."

" A poet the greatest of all God's creatures
perhaps the greatest; certainly the most miser-
able," said Byron, still looking at the letter which
lay on his knees, where he sat. The sunlight
breaking through the hawthorn blossoms, made
a pattern on the paper of alternate light and
shade. He saw that, and, seeing it with the eyes
of a poet, he said :

" That is my life a page of brilliant light and
sombre shadows. . . . After all, the design is
traced, not by the splashes of sunshine, but by the
shadows. That is what makes life interesting
yes, to the people who look on. . . . That is
what it is to be a poet to live for those who look
on. That is what I shall live for from to-day
for the lookers-on. I would have lived for her
only caring for no one else thinking only of
what I could do for her, separated from the world
that I hate; but now I shall live for what the
world can give me. I do not know what it can
give me, but I know what it cannot give me."

This genius, with the feelings of a man, was be-
ginning to be conscious of the dictation of another
force within him, namely, experience, whose
function it is to play the part of the worldly



156 Love Alone Is Lord

director of genius; genius is its own spiritual
director. A genius without experience of life is
like a boat without a rudder. A genius with ex-
perience of life and the feelings of a man is a boat
with a rudder and a steersman who is drunk half
his time, and spends the other half getting off the
rocks on which he has run his craft.

And all the while the world looks on, and talks
of ballast and quicksands and the need of a com-
pass and of laying out a course with parallel rulers
on the chart.

Byron stared down upon the paper on his
knees; and as he stared it became, not a paper
through which Mary Chaworth was speaking to
him with the voice of an angel, it became a war-
rant to him to taste of the world, and to tell the
world what it tasted like ; it became a passport to
the Pit, only written with a quill plucked from an
angel's wing; it became material for crumpling
into wads for closing the ears of conscience.

Looking out where the boughs of his hawthorn
canopy opened toward the Italian garden, he saw
a figure smiling into his face. He was startled
for a moment, but before he had risen and taken
a step toward the jester, he knew what it was
the marble figure of a satyr leering toward him
out of the curve of an arch of clambering roses,
only the roses were not yet.

He laughed, saying:

" Brother my elder brother, you are in search
of me, and you have found me. I am ready



Love Alone Is Lord 157

quite ready. We shall go off together, you and
I, for a day in the woods, and I shall grow so like
you that the fairies will take us for twins. You
shall teach me all your knowledge that par-
ticular knowledge which makes you smile the
smile of a Scotch professor of humanities. Per-
haps, in time, I shall acquire that very smile.
All that is demanded of a man in order to acquire
it is that he should become a beast, and that is no
inordinate demand to put upon even the best of
us."

The boy with the large eyes of the dreamer of
dreams, and the Apollo curls of bright chestnut
clustering and curving over his forehead as the
ripples of a fast-flowing stream wimple over a
smooth pebble in their path, looked like a young
god facing the satyr; but even as he spoke his
lips took something of the lewd, leering curve of
the brute lips before him.

And then a loud laugh came from the stone
monster, startling the young god, for it was just
the laugh that might be expected to come from
that wrinkled face, bearded and horned like a
he-goat, and with the ears of the wild asses that
do quench their thirst otherwhere than at the
water-brooks.

Another outburst of laughter hoarser, and
with a horrid modulation into a falsetto, came
from the creature, and while Byron still remained
startled, Vince showed himself from behind the
stone pedestal.



158 Love Alone Is Lord

Byron laughed, but not until the other was
silent.

" By my faith, Vince, you play the part of Pan
to the life," he said.

"Your lordship flatters his most servile ser-
vant," said the man. " I saw you staring at our
worshipful brother here, and I thought that I
could give him a soul."

" You are the man who would make the god in
your own image," said Byron. "And, lo, the
god that you made turned out a devil when you
had made him."

"Ay, but this poor devil was only a lord," said
Vince.

"He and I have something in common look
at his feet," said Byron. "I '11 swear that if he
were to walk it would be with my limp. But if I
resemble him at the feet, you resemble him about
the head; you have the ear and the leer and the
jeer of the satyr, Mr. Vince."

" And I find the three very human in combina-
tion, my Lord Byron," said Vince. "A very
pleasing trio, like that delightful one in Don Juan,
invented by Mozart, the master of melodies,
human and divine. But the truth is that his late
lordship, my father and your father's uncle,
found this particular piece of scuplture among the
ruins of a portion of the old Priory of Newstead
though what part it played in the ecclesiastical
economy of the religious house it is difficult to
say."



Love Alone Is Lord 159

"Look at his horns and his feet," said Byron.
" Do not they hint at an important personage in
religious history?"

" No one could doubt it ; but do you fancy that
they needed to import a stone devil into a com-
munity of men religious men, too? Don't you
think that the nearest lay brother would be able
to play the part well enough for them?"

"Why lay brother?" said Byron.

"Why lay, indeed!" laughed Vince. "Men are
men, whether capped, cowled, or coroneted.
When coroneted they usually rise to the dignity
of devils. Anyhow, his lordship found the figure,
and had it carried here with a view of frightening
trespassers off the grounds. It served its purpose
admirably. So soon as it became known that his
lordship had found it more economical to keep a
devil than a dog, he had all the park to himself,
and then, of course, the story got about that he
had sold himself to the evil one. Such a story!
We have heard of fathers selling their offspring,
but never of the offspring seeking to dispose of
himself to his parent."

"It may get about, if they notice the resem-
blance between our feet, that I cultivated my
style from this model!"

"That depends on your morals; there were
poachers who averred that they had come upon
his late lordship in the park, and that he had
pointed ears and a cloven hoof. His lordship
was delighted to attain to such a distinction."



160 Love Alone Is Lord

" 'T is a pity we could not hear if the demon
felt equally flattered by the resemblance."

" He would have a right to be flattered did it
reach his pointed ears that he was ever taken for
you. I wonder where you got that Antinous
head that you wear. Had the Admiral a curly
head? I have only seen his portrait with a wig.
Your own dad was as impudent as Apollo, with-
out his curls or accomplishments. I ask your
pardon. I apologise for Apollo. I recollect that
you only agreed to come here on condition that
I refrained from affronting your memories."

"You would do well to remember that, Mr.
Vince. I made you understand that no word of
affront respecting my father or mother must pass
your lips."

"Have not I been careful hitherto? In spite
of an almost irresistible temptation, have I yet
done worse than to compare Mad Jack to the
god Apollo? And yet, the opportunity was
afforded me of comparing him to Marsyas the
satyr, who was more impudent even than Apollo,
only he went too far one day, and by the Lord
Harry, I marvel that it never occurred to an in-
ventive sculptor of the Doric province to make a
figure with the head of Apollo and the feet of a
Pan? Psha! Of course, you know that I am not
so brutal and so idiotic to boot don't think that
I aim at a, cheap pun as to suggest even in a far-
off way, that you your feet are like men's feet
with a difference of about an eighth of an inch



Love Alone Is Lord 161

they in no way resemble the hoof of a Pan. No,
I flatter myself that I am apt, whatever else I
may be. But do you not think that Apollo, with
the ear of a wild ass, and the foot of a goat

"I believe that if the devil became a sculptor
that would be his first work."

" It would be a masterpiece, beyond doubt.
But he never works in marble; he finds that
human clay is a much more plastic medium."

" Only it does n't last so long. What about
our ride?"

Vince looked at his watch critically. He
seemed to be making a brief mental calculation,
and then he said :

" I have ordered the horses for eleven o'clock
that is, ten minutes from now. You will draw
on boots you have just time."

He went into Vince 's cottage within the
grounds of Newstead, where he had been staying
for some days. Lord Grey de Ruthen, the tenant
in Chancery of Newstead Abbey, had, on return-
ing to England and learning that the young Lord
Byron had made an unannounced attempt to
enter the mansion, sent him a courteous message
to inform him that instructions had been given
to the servants to place at the disposal of his
lordship a set of rooms, and he trusted his
lordship would honour his humble tenant by
making use of them freely and at his pleasure.
This courteous expression of paradox Byron
acknowledged from his rooms at Trinity College,



1 62 Love Alone Is Lord

Cambridge, thanking Lord Grey de Ruthen for
his gracious message, and expressing the hope
that during the summer he would be permitted
to trespass on his lordship's hospitality for a
night or two.

Meantime, however, Vince, the man whose hos-
pitality Byron had once had an opportunity of
measuring for an hour or two, had come in con-
tact with him again, and had offered him an
apology for his too great freedom of speech upon
the previous occasion that they had met, and
Byron, accepting his apology, had been curiously
attracted to him once again. The sardonic
humour, the mordant cynicism of the man,
found an echo in Byron's mood at that time ; for
he differed from most sensitive young men only
in being able to make a brilliant response to a
rebuff. While others are compelled to be content
to feel chastely severe upon a world that holds
someone vulgar enough to hurt their sense of
their own dignity, Byron soon found himself with
a lash of scorpions in his hand, which he wielded
upon the world in general and upon certain of its
writhing inhabitants in particular. He emulated,
and not without success, the achievement of his
master, Apollo, upon the satyr, Marsyas, which
had been appreciatively mentioned by Vince,
and in the course of a year or two a good many
Marsyasses who had offended him were crawling
about with raw flesh.

He found in Vince a congenial companion upon



Love Alone Is Lord 163

occasions for some weeks before going to Cam-
bridge, and when, the following Easter, he paid
a visit to his mother at Southwell, and had his
customary quarrel with her, it was not to the
mansion at Newstead he fled, but to Vince's
cottage; and there he had remained a week
previous to receiving Mary Chaworth's letter,
which he read beneath the snowy boughs of the
hawthorn.

In ten minutes the horses had been brought
round to the carriage drive, where it was met by
the carefully masked winding track leading to the
cottage.

"What direction to-day?" asked Byron, when
they had mounted.

" I hear that Gorleston banks are a sight with
primroses," said Vince. "We have not yet been
there, and a primrose bank is nearly as untrust-
worthy as one whose basis is guineas of the same
colour."

"Good!" cried Byron. "We shall become in-
nocent Wordsworthians for the day. Heavens!
Vince, can you tolerate his puerilities?"

" I am easily tolerant when I see another man
making himself ridiculous, ' ' said Vince. " Words-
worth always seems to me to be like a child play-
ing with a plaster lamb in the open air. He
thinks that, because he takes you with him into
the open air, you will accept his Noah's ark as
real."

"And Coleridge picks up his toy donkey and



1 64 Love Alone Is Lord

its foal and fancies that you will back them for
the laureate stakes," said Byron. "By the god
Phcebus, Vince, there is more poetry in this than
in all Wordsworth!"

He put his horse at a low bank porcupined by
a hedge of straight privet, and went over it and
into the spacious meadow beyond. He had gal-
loped half a mile across the turf before he drew
rein, allowing Vince to come up to him.

" That is the ideal way of going through with an
argument," said Vince. "You announce your
proposition and then gallop off before one can
point out its fallacy to you. Could anything be
more ridiculous than to draw a comparison be-
tween the innocent iambics of the poet and the
galloping anapests of a young Arab steed?"

"Nothing indeed," said Byron. "The one
warms up your blood; the other leaves you cold
and unmoved. Hush, what metre is that those
church bells are ringing? can you hear them?"

They pulled up their horses on the rising
ground, and listened. A lark sprang up from the
grass close to them, and soared aloft, singing in
ecstasy, and then a second arose from where the



Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 9 of 28)