Dr. John Morillo Jan. 22- Feb. 26, 2002
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George Gordon, Lord Byron
1) Byron's Journal: Thursday, 26th November 1813
I have been thinking lately a good deal of Mary Duff. How very
odd that I should have been so utterly, devotedly fond of that girl, at an age
when I could neither feel passion, nor know the meaning of the word. And the
effect! My mother used always to rally me about this childish amour; and, at
last, many years after, when I was sixteen, she told me one day, "Oh‑
Byron, I have had a letter from Edinburgh, from Miss Abercromby: and your old
sweetheart Mary Duff is married to a Mr. Coe." And what was my answer? I
really cannot explain or account for my feelings at that moment; but they
nearly threw me into convulsions, and alarmed my mother so much, that after I
grew better, she generally avoided the subject‑to me‑and contented
herself with telling it to all her acquaintance. Now, what could this be? I had
never seen her since her mother's faux pas at
How the deuce did all this occur so early? where could it originate? I certainly had no sexual ideas for years afterwards; and yet my misery, my love for that girl were so violent, that I sometimes doubt if I have ever been really attached since. Be that as it may, hearing of her marriage several years after was like a thunder‑stroke‑it nearly choked me‑to the horror of my mother and the astonishment and almost incredulity of every body. And it is a phenomenon in my existence (for I was not eight years old) which has puzzled, and will puzzle me to the latest hour of it; and lately, I know not why, the recollection (not the attachment) has recurred as forcibly as ever. I wonder if she can have the least remembrance of it or me? or remember her pitying sister Helen for not having an admirer too? How very pretty is the perfect image of her in my memory‑her brown, dark hair, and hazel eyes; her very dress! I should be quite grieved to see her now; the reality, however beautiful, would destroy, or at least confuse, the features of the lovely Peri which then existed in her, and still lives in my imagination, at the distance of more than sixteen years. I am now twenty‑five and odd months . . . .
I think my mother told the circumstances (on my hearing of her marriage) to the Parkynses, and certainly to the Pigot family, and probably mentioned it in her answer to Miss A[bercromby], who was well acquainted with my childish penchant, and had sent the news on purpose for me,‑‑‑and thanks to her!
Next to the beginning, the conclusion has often occupied my reflections, in the way of investigation. That the facts are thus, others know as well as 1, and my memory yet tells me ~ so, in more than a whisper. But, the more I reflect, the more I am bewildered to assign any cause for this precocity of affection.
(note: Mary Duff married Robert
Cockburn, a wine merchant of
Source: Leslie A. Marchand, ed. Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982) 88-90.
2) Manfred: A Dramatic Poem 1816
Philosophy and science, and the springs
Of Wonder, and the wisdom of the World,
I have essayed, and in my mind there is
A power to make these subject to itself—
But they avail not
Power, passions—all I see in other beings,
Have been to me as rain unto the sands,
Since that all nameless hour. (I.i.13-17;22-4)
The Seven Spirits
What would’st thou with us, Son of mortals—say?
Of what—of whom—and
Of that which is within me; read it there—
Ye know it—and cannot utter it.
Can ye not wring from out the hidden realms
Ye offer so profusely—what I ask? (I.i.32-41;145-7)
Away, away! there's blood upon the brim . . .
I say t'is blood--my blood! the pure warm stream
Which ran in the veins of my fathers, and in ours
When we were in our youth, and had one heart,
And loved each other as we should not love
I approach the core of my heart's grief
In Fantasy, Imagination, all
The affluence of my soul--which one day was
A Croesus in creation--I plunged deep,
But, like an ebbing wave, it dashed me back
Into the gulf of my unfathomed thought.
I plunged amidst Mankind--Forgetfulness
I sought in all, save where 'tis to be found--
And that I have to learn--
Old man! there is no power in holy men,
Nor charm in prayer, nor purifying form
Of penitence, nor outward look, nor fast,
Nor agony--nor, greater than all these,
The innate tortures of that deep Despair,
Which is Remorse without the fear of Hell,
But all in all sufficient to itself
Would make a hell of Heaven--