Lady Nel Byron.

Lines written in 1852.

[Now that the most contradictory qualities are simultaneously ascribed to Lady Noel Byron—
that she was mad, and invented false and wicked accusations in her madness, and that she was so
coldly rational that her poetic husband could not live with her ; that her distempered mind brooded
over her wrongs till she believed in her own delusions, and that she had no wrongs, and was of a most
calm, calculating, severe disposition ; that she was garrulous, and addicted to mysterious reticence
—it may be interesting to read the impression produced by her character on one who was intimate
with her for many years. The lines are given as written down at the time.]
And as she spoke, it seemed as though I stood1
Upon the summit of some holy hill,2
In the calm brightness of an autumn eve,3
Serene and cloudless, glowing, yet still clear ;”4
While at its base, life, seen as from a height5
Joyous and sad, lone hut and busy crowds,6
And devious streams that tend one knows not where,7
Till far away the great sea makes all plain8
Bounding the whole, lay spread before our view.9
And all alike, both near and far was thus10
Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seen” *11
In the still radiance of the light she sheds ;12
For she has reached that higher truth which shows13
What here seems intricate and dark and dim,14
Which reconciles the lesser truths which oft15
Half seen below, appear to jar and strive.16
That even balance of her mind was wrought17
Not idly deeming man more wise than God,18
Striving the nature given us to improve19
By pruning and by lopping it away,20
But by so using all His many gifts21
Proportionate, that heaven-born trinity,22
Imagination, feeling, reason, all23
For which He here made her responsible,24
That none were stunted, or did dwarf the rest,25
But ripened into one harmonious whole.26
And she has kept her heart bright, that her God27
Might therein look, and be reflected straight ;28
And thus ’twas light, pure from the heaven above,29
Which so interpreted the earth tor us.30
* Lady Byron had quoted this line and another from her husband’s poetry in the course of the day.