LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[Thomas Barnes?]
[Robert Southey and Lord Byron].
The Times  No. 12,523  (14 December 1824)
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

The Times.

Number 12,523. LONDON, TUESDAY,  DECEMBER  15,  1824. Price 7d.

The death of Lord Byron , whatever may have been the faults of the man, created an almost unprecedented expression of sorrow and regret in the public mind, both here and abroad. People of all parties, in religion and politics, participated in the feeling. We were, perhaps, as slightly affected by the contagious sorrow as any, being no great admirers of his eccentricities; and we were therefore but the better qualified to observe the intensity and generality of the sentiment in the rest of the world. We remarked farther also, that at the period when the interest respecting his Lordship was at its height, people would incessantly turn their thoughts towards his literary enemy, and exclaim, “How grating this must be to Southey! His death, he must be but too sensible, would occasion no such public emotion! Is his hatred extinguished with the life of him who was the object of it? or does it survive the grave? We hear nothing of Southey now! He is silent! Is he afraid to let his barking be heard amidst the softer accents of sorrow? or does he really grieve for one to whom he may have given some needless pain, and whom he could not reform?” Mr. Southey answers these questions himself, by a letter which we have extracted from an evening paper, bearing his own signature. He waits—we should say dexterously waits—till the public grief has in some degree expended itself; and then rushes on the memory of his hated antagonist, with a fury unrestrained by the sense of decency, and uncontrolled by the dread of chastisement.

Robert Southey, Mr. Southey and Lord Byron
Editor of the Courier, “Byron and his Admirers”

Mr. Southey has had, he says, “transmitted to him by a friend, some extracts from Medwin’s Conversations of Lord Byron,” and in these he has found a false statement against himself, the nature of which will be best seen by Mr. Southey’s letter. We are far from defending either the general morals of Lord Byron, or advocating his particular claim to veracity. Neither can we believe Mr. Southey, when he says that he was totally indifferent to his Lordship’s praise or censure: for if he had not actually been stung to madness by the latter, could he, when writing of one but recently snatched away by a premature death, have composed a sentence so brutally coarse as the following?—“Here I dismiss the subject: it might have been thought that Lord Byron had obtained the last degree of disgrace when his head was set up for a sign at one of those preparatory schools for the brothel and the gallows, where obscenity, sedition, and blasphemy, are retailed in drams to the vulgar.” Is this the language of a rational or a decent man? Surely the author, however now inflamed by hatred, or raving with malignant jealousy, must,—if he shall ever hereafter come to have one calm moment, when the name or person of Byron crosses his mind,—must, we say, blush that he has so written respecting him.