LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[John Gibson Lockhart]
Lord Byron.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine  Vol. 17  No. 97  (February 1825)  131-51.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH





There has been a good deal of writing about Lord Byron since his death in our periodicals; but very little of it much to the purpose. The Quarterly Review has as yet been silent; the Edinburgh Review has contained only one or two insignificant paragraphs. The subject, now at last complete, has hitherto been in the hands of comparatively unauthoritative scribes; and we are constrained to say, that it has not been dealt with in a manner at all likely to increase their authority.

We are sorry to be obliged to notice with particular condemnation the style in which Lord Byron’s character and genius have been handled in the Universal Review. That talented, and on the whole respectable Journal, is said to be chiefly conducted by a person of very considerable rank in our modern letters—a scholar, a poet, and a gentleman: and if this be the fact, (which we certainly by no means take for granted,) the tone and temper in which Lord Byron has been treated by the Journal in question is doubly and trebly to be regretted. Whether the accomplished person we allude to, be, or be not, the Editor of this Review, we are quite sure he is not the author of the article we speak of. He (if it be he) has been seduced into admitting the criticism of some totally inferior mind—some mind either not large enough to regard the greatness of the dead poet’s fame without envy—or small enough to remember, in the pages of Mr Whitaker’s Review, that the proprietor of the Quarterly Review had been also the publisher of that illustrious poet’s most successful performances. The article is a splenetic, a malevolent, and, we fear we must odd, a mean tirade. It must have been written by an unhappy man, and can be read with pleasure by none.

Far more reprehensible, because far more lengthened and elaborate—and despicable to boot, because evidently written by a person, who, with friendship in his mouth, had never felt any real friendship for the departed poet—is the attempt towards a whole-length portraiture of Lord Byron’s character, which appeared some months ago in the London Magazine. The writer of that production must be indeed a miserable. He derives all the vices of Byron—real or supposed—from the fact of his being a Lord. When he is to be commended for anything, “this, in short, is as well as could be expected from a Lord.” What a picture of Grub-street bile! The same tone (here is a compliment!) has, we observe, been taken up by the distinguished author of the Liber Amoris, in a new octavo (chiefly, ut mos est, made up of old materials,) which he has published under the modest title of “The Spirit of the Age!!!” The Hero of Southampton-row is exceedingly bitter with Lord Byron, because he had a pedigree. He cannot away with the patrician soul that breaks out continually even in the most radical ravings of Byron’s muse. It is evident, that if Mr Hazlitt had seen the living Lion down, he would have rejoiced in kicking him: he now does his pleasure with the dead. And it was for this sort of recompence, say rather retribution, that Lord Byron suffered, for a time at least, his noble name to be coupled in the mouths of men, with these abject souls—these paltry and contemptible caitiffs, who, while they would fain have derived some skulking benefit from his name, never regarded either the poet or the man, but with all the rancours of despairing imbecility and plebeian spite.

The truth is, that Byron’s literary success had all along been regarded
132Lord Byron.
with infinite gall by the minor Tories, and that the elevation of his personal manners and feelings had always prevented him from being an object of anything like real attachment among the miserable adherents of that degraded faction to which he sometimes too much lent himself. The feelings of this last class were, of course, kept in check so long as he lived; those of the former rarely durst break silence so long as
Mr John Murray was his publisher in ordinary—and they also have spoken out with wonderfully more courage since there was an end of the lash that played about the pages of Don Juan. There was on either side a great accumulation of spleen and envy lying in wait for a fair opportunity of eruption—and we have seen the eruption at least begin. We can scarcely turn over the pages of any insignificant Magazine or Review without coming in contact with long melancholy diatribes—all of them the grumblings of the same long-pent devil. One proves Byron to have been the most audacious of plagiarists—another is at great pains to shew, that he was not a poet of the truly high order —that he had little “invention”—that his merit lay only in “intensity”—and Heaven knows how much more stuff of the same sort! A third says, he never wrote any good poem after the Corsair. A fourth considers Don Juan as a mere imitation of Faublas. A whole chorus resounds in your ears, that Byron was, at all events, a perfect villain—the lewdest, the basest, the most unprincipled of men—and that, ergo, the subject ought to be dropped!—So far from suffering it to be dropt, however, we now intend, and that for the first time, to take it up.

We certainly cannot reproach ourselves with having, at any period of our career, either neglected or ill-treated the great poet who is now no more. We were, from the beginning, open, sincere, and enthusiastic worshippers of his genius; we spoke out on that score in a way that most of our contemporaries can reflect upon with few feelings of self-gratulation—and we always so spoke out—which certainly cannot be said of any one among them. When he began to entertain the world with his Beppo and Don Juan, on the other hand, we were undoubtedly the first and the most efficient of all that rebuked him for teaching his muse to stoop her wing. We did this so boldly and so well, that we created for ourselves in many quarters a vast deal of ill will on this very account. John Murray, for example, never forgave us, and the whole of the inferior working band of his Quarterly Reviewers have hated us, as in duty bound, from that time, and have shewn their servile hatred in a thousand ways, and by a thousand means, all alike pitiful and servile. We continued to lament the indiscretions of his Don Juan, but we could not be blind to the extraordinary merits of that poem, as it grew up and expanded itself into one of the most remarkable works of English genius; and seeing these, we were quite above keeping our thumb upon the whole affair, merely because there was some difficulty in managing it, after the laudable example of the Edinburgh and Quarterly critics. Finally, since Byron died, various contributors have been allowed to express, in their own several styles, their opinions, about particular points connected with his character and genius, because the notion of unity of mind, in a Journal like this, is a thing quite below our contempt, and because it was wished to make our pages reflect, as to this subject, the feelings and opinions floating about in society in regard to it—with this one proviso only, that we should have nothing to do with the opinions of dulness, or the feelings of envy. And now, all this being done,

* We may hint, in a note, that in order to have great success now-a-days, it seems to be the rule that a literary man should publish with a bookseller attached to the opposite political party—a Tory with a Whig, and vice versa. Mr Murray would not suit even the author of Waverly half so well as Mr Constable; and Lord Byron never throve after he had lost that hold upon Tory applause, or at least forbearance, which his connexion with Mr Murray afforded him. Theodore Hook brings out his Sayings and Doings with the Lord of the White-boy Gazette—and young Russell his anti-liberal Tour in Germany with the Master of Blue and Yellow. It was only an after-thought that prevented us from having Hobhouse’s anti-Medwinian from Albemarle Street direct; and old Butler himself brings out his Book of the Catholic Church there. Southey would have sold an edition more of his Book of the Church, if he had published it with Mr Constable, or even Mr Colburn. This merely en passant—but it is all very true—and we may add, very poor.
Lord Byron.133
we propose to take up the subject as one and complete,—not to exhaust it surely, but to speak out clearly as to some of the most important questions that have been put in agitation. We make no mighty pretensions. A little common sense, common honesty, and common feeling, shall serve our turn.

We shall, like all others who say anything about Lord Byron, begin sans apologie, with his personal character. This is the great object of attack, the constant theme of open vituperation to one set, and the established mark for all the petty but deadly artillery of sneers, shrugs, groans, to another. Two widely different matters, however, are generally, we might say universally, mixed up here—the personal character of the man as proved by his course of life, and his personal character as revealed in, or guessed from, his books. Nothing can be more unfair than the style in which this mixture is made use of. Is there a noble sentiment, a lofty thought, a sublime conception in the book?—Ah! yes, is the answer. But what of that? It is only the roué Byron that speaks! Is a kind, a generous action of the man mentioned? “Yes, yes,” comments the sage, “but only remember the atrocities of Don Juan; depend on it, this, if it be true, must have been a mere freak of caprice, or perhaps a bit of vile hypocrisy.” Salvation is thus shut out at either entrance: The poet damns the man, and the man the poet.

Nobody will suspect us of being so absurd, as to suppose that it is possible for people to draw no inferences as to the character of an author from his book, or to shut entirely out of view, in judging of a book, that which they may happen to know about the man who writes it. The cant of the day supposes such things to be practicable, but they are not; and we have always laughed our loudest at the impudence of those who pretend to be capable of such things, and the idiocy of those who believe in their pretences. But what we complain of and scorn, U the extent to which these matters are carried in the case of this particular individual, as compared with others: the impudence with which things are at once assumed to be facts in regard to the mail’s private history, and the absolute unfairness of never arguing from the writings to the man, but for evil.

Take the man, in the first place, as unconnected, in so far as we can thus consider him, with his works;—and ask, what, after all, are the bad things we know of him? Was he dishonest or dishonourable?—had he ever done anything to forfeit, or even endanger, his rank as a gentleman? Most assuredly no such accusations have ever been maintained against Lord Byron, the private nobleman—although something of the sort may have been insinuated against the author. But he was such a profligate in his morals, that his name cannot be mentioned with anything like tolerance. Was he so indeed? We should like extremely to have the catechizing of the individual man who says so. That he indulged in sensual vices to some extent is certain—and to be regretted and condemned. But was he worse as to those matters than the enormous majority of those who join in the cry of horror upon this occasion? We most assuredly believe exactly the reverse: and we rest our belief upon very plain and intelligible grounds. First, we hold it impossible that the majority of mankind, or that anything beyond a very small minority, are or can be entitled to talk of sensual profligacy as having formed a principal part of the life and character of the man, who, dying at six-and-thirty, bequeathed a collection of works such as Byron’s to the world. 2dly, We hold it impossible that, laying the extent of his intellectual labours out of the question, and looking only to the nature of the intellect which generated, and delighted in generating, such beautiful and noble conceptions as are to be found in almost all Lord Byron’s works—we hold it impossible that very many men can be at once capable of comprehending these conceptions, and entitled to consider sensual profligacy as having formed the principal, or even a principal trait in Lord Byron’s character. 3dly and lastly, We have never been able to hear any one fact established, which could prove Lord Byron to deserve anything like the degree or even the kind of odium which has, in regard to matters of this class, been heaped upon his name. We have no story of base unmanly seduction, or false and villainous intrigue, against him—none whatever. It seems to us quite clear, that, if he had been at all what is called in society
134Lord Byron.
an unprincipled sensualist, there must have been many such stories—many such authentic and authenticated stories. But there are none such—absolutely none. His name has been coupled with the names of three, four, or more women of some rank: but what kind of women?—every one of them, in the first place, about as old as himself in years, and therefore a great deal older in character—every one of them utterly battered in reputation long before he came into contact with them—licentious, unprincipled, characterless women. What father has ever reproached him with the ruin of his daughter?—What husband has denounced him as the destroyer of his peace?

Let us not be mistaken. We are not defending the offences of which Lord Byron unquestionably was guilty: neither are we finding fault with those who, after looking honestly within and around themselves, condemn those offences—no matter how severely. But we are speaking of society in general, as it now exists; and we say that there is vile hypocrisy in the tone in which Lord Byron is talked of there. We say that, although all offences against purity of life are miserable things and condemnable things, the degrees of guilt attached to different offences of this class are quite as widely different as are the degrees of guilt between an assault and a murder; and we confess our belief that no man of Byron’s station and age could have run much risk of gaining a very bad name in society, had a course of life similar (in so far as we know anything of that) to Lord Byron’s been the only thing chargeable against him.

But his conduct in regard to his wife?—ay, there’s the rub. For many years this was the most fruitful theme of unmitigated abuse against Lord Byron—of late we have perceived considerable symptoms of another way of thinking as to this matter gaining ground. The press begins to avow, that there are two ways of telling this story, as well as other stories. In the upper circles of society there never wanted some who on the whole defended the Lord and blamed the Lady; but it is only of late that this line has begun to be taken up by any part of the press—except, indeed, one small part of it, whose general character, and the suspicion, perhaps unjust, of mean private motives, prevented its opinions, as to this particular matter, from having any weight whatever.

We have no sort of doubt, that in this, and in almost all cases of the sort, there must have been blame on both sides. We believe, in the first place, that Lord and Lady Byron were never well suited to each other as to character and temper. We believe that Lady Byron, with many high and estimable qualities, had a cold and obstinate mathematical sort of understanding, than which nothing could be more unlike, or less likely to agree well with, the imaginative, enthusiastic, and capricious temperament of her lord. She, however, was the cooler person of the two, and should not nave married a man whose temper she at least might have known to be so diametrically opposite to her own. Having married him, most surely it was her duty to bear with the consequences of that temperament to a much greater extent than we have any proof, aye, or any notion, of her really having borne with them. No woman of sense should, on any grounds but those of absolute necessity, separate herself from her husband and the father of her child. Now, that there was no reason of this kind for the step which her Ladyship took, is proved by the well-known facts, that she parted from him in London in a most affectionate manner; that even after she had completed her journey to Kirkby-Mallory, she wrote an affectionate, even playfully affectionate, letter to him, inviting him to join her there; and that, immediately after that letter, Lord Byron received a letter from her Ladyship’s father, beginning “My Lord,”* and announcing her Ladyship’s fixed, final, unalterable resolution never to live with Lord Byron as his wife again;—all this, too, be it observed, happened precisely at the moment when Lord Byron s pecuniary affairs were most disagreeably and miserably involved and perplexed—when he was annoyed with executions in his very house—in short, when any flights of mere temper on his part—nay, any offences of any kind, that could be in reason attributed to a state of mind
Medwin, the vulgarian, substitutes “Sir.” Mr Hobhouse has corrected him.
Lord Byron.135
harassed and tormented, and thereby, to a certain extent, rendered reckless,—ought to have been regarded with the highest indulgence, and when any symptom, or anything taken for a symptom, of a wish to shrink from the partaking of his injured fortunes, must have been regarded, above all by a man of his feelings, as the most cruel and unpardonable want of generosity.

But be it so that Lady Byron was more to blame than her Lord in the separation, what can excuse his publishing then, and continuing to publish, writings in which his wife’s character and conduct were placarded for the amusement of the whole world? This, indeed, is no trivial question, nor can we answer it in any quite satisfactory manner—just yet. People, however, will be good enough to recollect, that Lord Byron had at least this much to say for himself, that he was not the first to make his domestic differences a topic of public discussion. On the contrary, from the moment that his separation from Lady Byron was known, he, and he only, was attacked with the most unbounded rancour, not only in almost all circles of society, but in every species of print and pamphlet. He saw himself, ere any fact but the one undisputed and tangible one was or could be known, held up everywhere, and by every art of malice, by the solemn manufacturer of cant, and the light-headed weaver of jeux-d’esprit, by tory and whig, saint and sinner—all alike—as the most infamous of men, because he had parted from his wife.—“Peasants bring forth in safety;” nay, almost any other gentleman in the country might have been involved in a domestic misfortune of this kind, without the least fear of exposure to the millionth part of what he suffered—for suffer he did. He was the most sensitive man alive—witness the keen torture, which, even to his last, could be inflicted on him by a single stupid letter of the Laureate. He was exquisitively sensitive;—and he was attacked and wounded at once by a thousand arrows; and this with the most perfect and most indignant knowledge, that of all who were assailing him not one knew anything about the real facts and merits of the case. Did be right, then, in publishing those squibs and tirades? No, certainly;—it would hare been nobler, better, wiser far, to have utterly scorn-ed the assaults of such enemies, and taken no notice of any kind of them. But because this young hot-blooded, proud Patrician poet did not, amidst the exacerbation of feelings which he could not control, act in precisely the most dignified and wisest of all possible manners of action—are we entitled, is the world at large entitled, to issue a broad sentence of vituperative condemnation? Do we know all that he had suffered?—have we imagination enough to comprehend what he suffered under circumstances such as these?—have we been tried in similar circumstances, whether we could feel the wound unflinchingly, and keep the weapon quiescent in the hand, that trembled with all the excitements of insulted privacy, honour, and faith?

As it is, thus stands the fact. Lady Byron’s friends abused Lord Byron in all societies, and that abuse found its way through a thousand filthy channels to the public. Lord Byron retaliated:—but how? Did he attack his wife’s character?—Did he throw the blame upon her?—No such thing. He at the time merely poured some vials of his wrath on the heads of those whom he believed to have influenced his wife to her own injury, and to the ruin of his peace—and permitted himself, subsequently, to hint in a way, by no means obtrusively intelligible, at some of those in themselves quite innocent little peculiarities of education and temper, by which, as he thought, (and who shall say unjustly?) Lady Byron was prevented from being to him all that he had expected when he made her his wife.

Goethe has said somewhere, that the man of genius who proposes to himself to be happy in this world, must lay down to himself the fixed and unalterable rule, to consider his genius as one thing, and his personal life as another—never to suffer the feelings of the author to interfere with the duties of the man—to forget altogether when his pen is not in his fingers, that it has been, and will again be, in their grasp. This is very well said, but we fear the history of literature will furnish but few examples in which the good old poet’s theory has been reduced to practice—his own case, we believe, approaches as near to an example, as almost any one in recent times. No spectacle, certainly,
136Lord Byron.
can be so noble, as the life of a man of true and lofty genius, regulated throughout upon such a principle. Such, we have every reason to believe, was the case with
Shakespeare—with Spenser—with Milton—and such we know has been, and is the case, with a few others of the world’s greatest names. But how completely the reverse was the fact in regard to Dryden, to Pope, to Addison—how completely the reverse is the fact in regard to the estimable living names of Wordsworth, of Southey—and in regard to almost all the living names that rank under theirs! Lord Byron has himself said many witty things about the absurdities of “an author all over”—and, in his personal conversation, he was almost always the mere man of fashion. But we know enough of his temper and feelings to be perfectly convinced that all this was a matter of elaborate art and study with him—that he was playing a part when he figured as the dandy Lord—that his mind was more continually, restlessly, and intensely occupied with literary matters, and, above all, his own literary reputation, than perhaps ever was the case with any other man of the same sort of rank in the world of letters, but Voltaire. In fact, the very sarcasms Lord Byron has bestowed upon these foibles, are only so many proofs that they lay very near his own heart. There is no trick of self-love more common than that of ridiculing in others the fault which we feel, and which we would fain have others not detect, in ourselves. How often does a sore conscience mask itself in a grin!

How did the English public conduct itself in regard to this most sensitive artist? From the beginning of his true career—it began with Childe Harold—we, in spite of all manner of disclamations and protestations, insisted upon saddling Byron, himself personally, with every attribute, however dark and repulsive, with which he had chosen to invent a certain fictitious personage, the hero of a romance. It is true enough, that the thoughts and feelings embodied in this fictitious personage’s character, as poetized by Lord Byron, must have at some time or other passed through Lord Byron’s own mind, and subsequent events decidedly shewed that many of them had been too much at home there. But the world was hasty, and there-fore unjust. How do we know, that if Harold had been criticised merely as the character of Macbeth or Marmion is criticised, Lord Byron would have continued to paint little else but Childe Harold? How do we know how much our obstinate blending of Harold with Byron, stimulated the proud and indignant Byron to blend himself with Harold? How do we know, that we did not ourselves, by our method of criticizing his work, tempt the poet’s haughty mind to brood exclusively on those very trains of dark and misanthropic thought, which, had we done otherwise, might have given way to everything that was happy and genial? There are horses, to whom no spur equals the stimulus of the bit.

But more—let people consider for a moment what it is that they demand when they insist upon a poet of Byron’s class abstaining altogether from expressing in his works anything of his own feelings in regard to anything that immediately concerns his own history. We tell him in every possible form and shape, that the great and distinguishing merit of his poetry is the intense truth with which that poetry expresses his own personal feelings.—We encourage him in every possible way to dissect his own heart for our entertainment—we tempt him, by every bribe most likely to act powerfully on a young and imaginative man, to plunge into the darkest depths of self-knowledge, to madden his brain with eternal self-scrutinies, to find his pride and his pleasure in what others shrunk from as torture—we tempt him to indulge in these dangerous exercises, until they obviously acquire the power of leading him to the very brink of phrenzy—we tempt him to find, and to see in this perilous vocation, the staple of his existence, the food of his ambition, the very essence of his glory—and the moment that, by habits of our own creating, at least of our own encouraging and confirming, he is carried one single step beyond what we happen to approve of, we turn round with all the bitterness of spleen, and reproach him with the unmanliness of entertaining the public with his feelings in regard to his separation from his wife. This was truly the conduct of a fair and liberal public! To our view of the matter, Lord Byron, treated as he had been, tempted as he had been, and tortured and insulted as he
Lord Byron.137
was at the moment, did no more forfeit his character by writing what he did write upon that unhappy occasion, than another man, under circumstances of the same nature, would have done, by telling something of his mind about it to an intimate friend across the fire. The public had forced him into the habits of familiarity, and they received his confidence with nothing but anger and scorn.

We had written thus far, when a little volume, entitled “Letters on the Character and Genius of Lord Byron,”* was put into our hands. The author is Sir Egerton Brydges, a gentleman whose general character must be tolerably well known among most of our readers. Sir Egerton is now a man advanced in years, and it is not difficult to trace in this book the feelings of one, who does not think himself to have been over well treated in the world. He has unquestionably shewn something very like genius in several of his works—especially in the novel of Clifford—but his range of mind has always been considered as small, and there has undoubtedly been a sad want of power and breadth, either of design or execution, in all his works. His name, however, was respectable, and we think, upon the whole, it will be considerably raised, when the production now before us has attracted general notice—which we perceive it has not yet done—indeed, even we have only heard of it, and seen it, by pure accident. Sir Egerton’s book is altogether deficient in plan and arrangement Tautology and repetition are most wearisomely abundant in it; weak things are said over and over again, and strong thoughts are said weakly. Nevertheless, Sir Egerton appears throughout as a most candid and upright critic of Lord Byron—he aims at truth—he writes in the true spirit of a gentleman—and if in relation to Lord Byron’s poetical works, his own little views and theories are often introduced with no good effect, in relation to the character of the man, he—being entirely above the paltry feelings of envy, malice, and uncharitableness,—speaks throughout, we must say, in a tune of manliness and elevation, calculated to do him the highest honour.

There is nothing here of the feelings of the disappointed author, though we think there is much of the feelings of the high-born gentleman, who supposes himself, we know not how justy, to have met with less success than he was entitled to in the present fashionable society of England. Perhaps some sympathies as to this last matter may have, however unconscious Sir Egerton Brydges might be of it, mainly contributed to his undertaking the work before us. This circumstance by no means detracts from its value, in our eyes, and we certainly appreciate most warmly the zeal with which a neglected veteran has come forward to vindicate the fame of one, whom few in the same situation would have looked upon without feelings much less genial. We shall quote a passage which we think our readers will receive in good part, in place of something much to the some purpose, with which we were about to have pursued our own discussion. We have marked one paragraph in Italics—our readers will easily see why.

“It is well known that the points of attack on Lord Byron have been for some years directed, not against his genius, but against his morals and personal character. An apologist on this head ought to be very explicit, both for Lord Byron’s sake and for his own. Were the reprobation and obloquy with which Lord Byron was pursued, from his entrance at Cambridge till his death, just or unjust? Had he cause for discontent and bitterness, or had he not? The common cry is, that he had not!—that he threw away genius, rank, station, the world’s favour,—nay, the world’s desire to receive him with open arms, in spite of errors and faults,—by defiance, outrage of all decorum, avoidance of society, foul satire, misanthropy, and the indulgence of all violent passions.

“Such, at least, if not the general cry, has been the unqualified clamour of more than half his countrymen! If such charges were true, it would be an odious task to be his apologist, even aided by all his dazzling genius. To me this view of him seems not merely a gross caricature, but a most wicked falsehood. It is not necessary for me to rest my defence on the principle that we ought to limit our consideration to the merits or demerits of an author’s writings, and have no concern

* Letters on the Character and Poetical Genius of Lord Byron, by Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart. &c. &c. &c. London—Langman & Co. P. 457. Post 8vo. 10s. 6d.
138Lord Byron.
with his private and personal character, except so far as it affects his writings; though a great deal might be urged for this principle, especially after an author’s death. It seems to me that Lord Byron’s personal character has been frightfully misrepresented and misunderstood.

“There is in the world, very generally prevalent, a strange perversion of mind and heart, which forgives to young men who have no redeeming virtues or talents, that, as the venial folly of early life, which is branded with infamy in him who has genius and a thousand brilliant qualities of heart, and a thousand brilliant actions, which ought to efface even great irregularities and faults. It would be well, if genius could always bring with it all virtue, wisdom, prudence, complacency, and self-command,—if high sensibility, or susceptibility, was always impressible by good, and never by evil;—but such is not human nature; such is not the state in which Providence has sent us into the world! Lord Byron has been tried by rules not applied to others; not applicable to the qualities of our frail being; and, what is worse still, very often upon assumed and invented facts!

“I will run rapidly over such of the generally-mentioned incidents of his life as I have every reason to believe cannot be contradicted, or, at least, not disproved. I pretend to no personal knowledge, nor to intelligence peculiar to myself.

“It is said that at Cambridge Lord Byron endeavoured to distinguish himself by eccentricities unworthy a man endowed with talents which might command honourable fame. I admit the choice of a bear as his companion, with all its attendant history, to have been a boyish act, which showed both bad taste and want of judgment. I do not doubt that Lord Byron had inherent in him, not only an excess of pride, but a good deal of vanity, which is not always united with it. The truth is, that there was implanted in him that strong love of distinction which is given us for the wisest purposes, as a spur to noble exertions and a career of useful glory! But this fire does not always find vent in its proper direction; accidents sometimes impede it; blights, chills, obstructions, turn it aside; it is then almost sure, if it be strong, to break out in excrescences, funguses, diseases! Lord Byron had been oppressed and disappointed at school; he came to college with a wounded pride, and his manners, and (as I believe) the mortification of a fortune inadequate to his rank, exposed him to a reception there which dwelt upon his haughty and meditative spirit, soured a temper naturally fierce, and drove his active feelings into extravagances in mere despair. This might be regretted; but there was nothing unnatural in it, nothing radically bad, nothing irredeemable, nothing unlike what has happened to thousands who have turned out virtuous and excellent members of society.

“But mark how much of the noble flame of a cultivated, amiable, and splendid mind was working in him, in his better and more congenial hours, even now. At this crisis he wrote those poems which were published under the title of Hours of Idleness.’ And mark, too, how this effort of a grand spirit emerging from a cloud was met!—It was turned into the most offensive mockery and insult!!—The author of that mischievous article has been named to me, but I am not at liberty to repeat it. I do not think it exaggeration to say, that much of the colour of the eccentric port of Lord Byron’s future life is to be attributed to that article. Lord Byron, also, is said in his latter life to have known the author.

Lord Byron now went abroad; but not till he had taken vengeance of his critics, and gained an advantage which must, in some degree, have consoled him; but the wound still rankled:—
hæret lateri lethalis arundo!

“The first two cantos of Childe Harold show that neither his understanding, his feelings, nor his genius, were allowed to sleep on his travels. Eccentricities, as strong as those exhibited at Cambridge, and produced by the same causes, may, perhaps, have been indulged during these wanderings; but it is clear, that they were never suffered to overlay his genius, or break down the energies of his mind or heart. I know not whether, if he did not resist to join in the youthful follies by which the more common beings of his age, and rank, and sphere of life endeavour to render themselves remarkable, the flame which could still burn so brightly in the midst or such an enfeebling and extinguishing atmosphere, did not thus prove its vigour and its virtue more decidedly, than if carefully cultivated, and kept from all perils and counteractions.—It is a sickly flame which never makes the cauldron boil over, and cannot live amid winds and tempests, even at the expense of sometimes taking a wrong and dangerous direction.

“At the age of twenty-four, after three
Lord Byron.139
years of absence,
Lord Byron returned from his first travels. The publication of the first part of Childe Harold, (1812,) brought him into immediate fashion. But this sort of fashion, this quick pass from one extreme to another, is almost as dangerous and oversetting in youth to a sensitive, fiery, and turbid spirit, as neglect and obloquy. It is like one used only to the bracing drink of cold waters suddenly overtaken by strong and inebriating wine! It must be recollected, that though in the democratic temper which prevails in England, Lord Byron’s rank would not by itself procure him proper notice; yet when the whim of fashion fixed its eye on him on other accounts, it was a great aid, and increased fivefold the silly distinction which it confers with such blind adulation on its idols. I will not degrade my pen by attempting to give a picture of the manner in which it acts, or an examination of the little despicable cabals, artifices, intrigues, passions, and insanities, on these puny narrow stages of life, where the actors and actresses have the folly and blindness to call themselves the world, as if these few hundreds of silly people formed the exclusively-important part of mankind!—nay, as if they monopolized title, birth, rank, wealth, polish, talent, and knowledge; and this at a crisis, when the ancient and great nobility keep themselves for the most part aloof;* and when these exclusionalists are principally new titles, East Indians, adventurers, noisy politicians, impudent wits of low origin, vulgar emergers from the city suddenly got rich, contractors, Jews, rhyming orators, and scheming parsons, who have pushed themselves into notice by dint of open purse or brazen face; and who get a little bad gilding, like the gingerbread of a rustic fair, by a few cast duchesses, countesses, &c. who, having come to the end of their own pockets, credits, and characters, are willing to come wherever the doors of large houses can be opened to them, and the costs of expensive entertainments paid!

“Into this new world, besetting to the young, the vain, and the inexperienced, Lord Byron was now plunged. It is true that his family was ancient, and had been highly allied, and might fairly he said to belong to the old nobility;—but I trust it will not be deemed invidious to say frankly, that they were now in their wane: his father had lived in high life; but he died when the son was an infant, leaving the wreck of a spent fortune, and a widow to whose affairs retirement from the world became necessary, and who brought up her son among her own relations in Scotland, till the time when he was sent to Harrow.

“There is nothing more illiberal than a great school on the subject of fortune, manners, and connexions. When these operate to furnish mortification to a proud, sullen spirit, the chances are that it never recovers from its effects. Every one knows that the great passion of boys assembled in large numbers is to mortify each other. I learned many years ago, from good intelligence, that Lord Byron was especially subjected to these effects. I think, therefore, that candour ought to make some allowance, if, under these circumstances, the sudden blaze of fashion that fell on Lord Byron had a sort of undue temporary influence over his strong mind, which it would not otherwise have had.

“I say temporary;—I shall presently show that he emancipated himself from it to a degree and in a manner which has been made an offensive charge against him, but which appears to me a proof of his radical magnanimity and rectitude.

“But in the midst of this burst of fashionable idolatry his enemies and his traducers never left him. Not only were every error and indiscretion of his past life brought forward and made the theme of every tongue, but all were exaggerated; and there were added to them a thousand utter inventions of diabolical malignity. I had forgot to mention the old monk’s skull, found at Newstead, which he had formed into a drinking-cup, when he first quitted Cambridge for the old mansion of his ancestors, and the orgies of which among his companions he made it a part. It must be confessed that it was an unfeeling frolic which it would be vain to excuse, and which, I must frankly own, fills me with a painful shudder that I cannot overcome. I am willing to surrender it to the opprobrium which it deserves. But his calumniators were not content with this; they founded the most revolting perversions on it, which have found their way into the German and other foreign biographies of our poet. It cannot, however, but strike us, that many a youth of rank has been guilty (if a hundred jokes equally objectionable,—yet against whom such acts, if he happened

* Our readers will recollect what was said in our Number for last November, about the fact, that Lord Byron never had access to the real first class of London society. Mr Bowles has quoted the passage we allude to in his late “Final Appeal” upon the Pope Controversy with Roscoe and Byron.
140Lord Byron.
to be stupid, and never to have done a good thing to counterbalance them, were never brought forward as objections to his amiableness or respectability.

“Four eventful years (1812 to 1815) passed in this manner in England. It was on the 2d of January, 1815, that Lord Byron’s marriage took place: a subject on which it is not necessary to my purpose to enter into any details, and which I willingly avoid. All the world knows that it was not happy, and that, whereever the fault lay, it embittered the remainder of his days.

“The charge against Lord Byron is,—not that he fell a victim to excessive temptations, and a combination of circumstances which it required a very rare and extraordinary degree of virtue, wisdom, prudence, and steadiness, to surmount,—but that he abandoned a situation of uncommon advantages, and fell weakly, pusillanimously, and selfishly, when victory would have been easy, and when defeat was ignominious. I have anticipated much of the answer to this charge: I will dwell a little more on it. I do not deny that Lord Byron inherited some very desirable and even enviable privileges in the lot of life which fell to his share. I should falsify my known sentiments if I treated lightly the gift of an ancient English peerage, and a name of honour and venerable antiquity: but without a fortune competent to that rank, it is not ‘a bed of roses;’—nay, it is attended with many and extreme difficulties, and the difficulties are exactly such as a genius and temper like Lord Byron’s were least calculated to meet;—at any rate, least calculated to meet under the peculiar collateral circumstances in which he was placed. His income was very narrow: his Newstead property left him a very small disposable surplus: his Lancashire property was, in its condition, &c. unproductive. A profession,—such as the army,—might have lessened, or almost annihilated, the difficulties of his peculiar position,—but probably his lameness rendered this impossible. He seems to have had a love of independence, which was noble, and, probably, even an intractability; but this temper added to his indisposition to bend and adapt himself to his lot. A dull, or supple, or intriguing man, without a single good quality of head or heart, might have managed it much better. He might have made himself subservient to government, and wormed himself into some lucrative place; or he might have lived meanly, conformed himself stupidly or cringingly to all humours, and been borne onward on the wings of society with little personal expense.

Lord Byron was of another quality and temperament: if the world would not conform to him, still less would he conform to them. He had all the manly baronial pride of his ancestors, though he had not all their wealth, and their means of generosity, hospitality, and patronage: he had the will, alas! without the power.

“With this temper, these feelings, this genius, exposed to a combination of such untoward and trying circumstances, it would indeed have been inimitably praiseworthy if Lord Byron could have been always wise, prudent, calm, correct, pure, virtuous, and unassailable:—if he could have shown all the force and splendour of his mighty poetical energies, without any mixture of their clouds, their baneful lightnings, or their storms:—if he could have preserved all his sensibility to every kind and noble passion, yet have remained placid and unaffected by the attack of any blameable emotion;—that is, it would have been admirable if he had been an angel, and not a man!

“Unhappily, the outrages he received, the gross calumnies which were heaped upon him, even in the time of his highest favour with the public, turned the delights of his very days of triumph to poison, and gave him a sort of moody, fierce, and violent despair, which led him to humours, acts, and words, that mutually aggravated the ill-will and the offences between him and his assailants. There was a during spirit in his temper and his talents, which was always inflamed rather than corrected by opposition.

“In this most unpropitious state of things, everything that went wrong was attributed to Lord Byron; and, when once attributed, was assumed and argued upon as an undeniable fact. Yet, to my mind, it is quite clear,—quite unattended by a particle of doubt,—that, in many things in which he has been the most blamed, he was the absolute victim of misfortunes that unpropitious trains of events (for I do not wish to shift the blame on others) led to explosions and consequent derangements, which no cold prudent pretender to extreme propriety and correctness could have averted, or met in a manner less blameable than that in which Lord Byron met it.

“It is not easy to conceive a character less fitted to conciliate general society by his manners and habits, than that of Lord Byron. It is probable that he could make his address and conversation pleasing to ladies when he chose to please; but to the young dandies of fashion, noble and ignoble, he must have been very repulsive: as long as be continued to be the ton—the lion,—they may have endured him without opening their mouths, be-
Lord Byron.141
cause he had a frown and a lash which they were not willing to encounter; but, when his back was turned, and they thought it safe, I do not doubt that they burst out into full cry! I have heard complaints of his vanity, his peevishness, his desire to monopolize distinction, his dislike of all hobbies but his own. It is not improbable that there may have been some foundation for these complaints: I am sorry for it if there was. I regret such littlenesses. And then another part of the story is probably left untold: we hear nothing of the provocations given him;—sly hints, curve of the lip, side-looks, treacherous smiles, flings at poetry, shrugs at noble authors, slang jokes, idiotic bets, enigmatical appointments, and boasts of being senseless brutes! We do not hear repeated the jest of the glory of the Jew, that buys the ruined peer’s falling castle; the d—d good fellow, that keeps the finest stud and the best hounds in the country out of the snippings and odds and ends of his contract; and the famous good match that the Duke’s daughter is going to make with Dick Wigley, the son of the rich slave-merchant at Liverpool! We do not bear the clever dry jests whispered round the table by Mr ——, eldest son of the new and rich Lord ——, by young Mr ——, only son of Lord ——, the ex-lords A., B., and C., sons of three Irish Union Earls, great borough-holders, and the very grave and sarcastic Lord ——, who believes that he has the monopoly of all the talents and all the political and legislative knowledge of the kingdom, and that a poet and a bellman are only fit to be yoked together!

“Thus, then, was this illustrious and mighty poet driven into exile! Yes, driven! Who would live in a country in which he had been so used, even though it was the land of his nativity, the land of a thousand noble ancestors, the land of freedom, the land where his head had been crowned with laurels,—but where his heart had been tortured, where all hit most generous and most noble thoughts bad been distorted and rendered ugly, and where his slightest errors and indiscretions had been magnified into hideous crimes?”

The following passage may also be worthy our readers’ consideration:—

“If Lord Byron had been the monster which detestable rumour represented him, then there was nothing which his genius had at that time put forth at all adequate to the redemption of his name, and to render the charm of his writings paramount to the disgust which ought to have been raised by his character. The fact is, that his writings were mainly the reflections of his character; and consistency required that they who admired one should admire the other. I suspect, then, that the hatred was sincere; the admiration hollow, feigned, and the mere unexamined echo of a few leading spirits, who gave the tone in fashionable literature. This cause, no doubt, was mingled up with other whimsical ingredients, of which the fume of fashion is engendered;—such as novelty, wonder, applied both to the author and his compositions; and in these latter, a great sprinkling of strange, daring, and licentious faults, which the taste for pungency, indulged by imbecile fashion, mistook for beauties.

Lord Byron had too manly, penetrating, and noble a mind, to be satisfied with a fame, which, however extended, was so hollow, and accompanied by so many frightful and heart-revolting drawbacks. He saw that even in his writings there was a constant disposition to divert the attention from the points where his strength and his merit lay, to throw it where the praise could not be supported, and invidiously to select features that were the ebullitions of those humours, which, though he could not control, he in his hours of more sober thought regretted; and this, too, for the double purpose of connecting them with all his personal errors, and giving exaggerated strength to his indiscretions or his peculiarities. He perhaps knew well, as Johnson said of Milton, ‘what nature had bestowed upon him more bountifully than upon other men:’ he knew, in spite of the occasional frailties of his being, what virtue, what superiority to vulgar goodness, there was in those happier fits of exertion, when the more sublime or more pathetic inspirations of his Muse broke into utterance, and were embodied in his most eloquent and enchanting language! Yet these, he found, were taken as vain words which availed his moral character nothing in the estimation of mankind; while all his ribaldry, all of his lower or more evil nature, were solely taken as part of himself! ‘But what,’ cries the arch-censurer, ‘are all the fine sentiments in the world, if they are not proved by concordant action? The union is, no doubt, desirable and necessary to produce perfection; but is there no virtue in the grand and beautiful speculations of the mind, when they are sincere? We are not mere material beings; nor will the rectitude of our material conduct ennoble us, or render us good, if our minds are low, base, and vicious. On the contrary, there may be mighty and splendid greatness in the mind, even
142Lord Byron.
when our actions are sometimes frail. No one can feel grand, tender, beautiful, and just sentiments, who is not virtuous at the moment of their impression.
The reverse of this, I am aware, must, on the same principle, be true; and for all that are bad in Lord Byron, he must answer. But in this last class many more have been included by a public, not equally nice on other occasions, than strictly and fairly belong to it.

“So far, then, Lord Byron had much stronger reason for his bitterness, his discontent, and his misanthropy, than has been granted to him. It was not all sunshine with him, as has been represented: the situation he is said to have thrown away did not afford so much ground for gratitude, rather than gloom and hatred. He perceived that, while he was treading on flowers, mines of pestilence and destruction were beneath. Doors flew open to him; voices hailed him: but he was of a temperament too ethereal to breathe well in the thick tainted air,—of an ear too nice, to be pleased by the perfidious sounds.

“All these, however, he would probably have continued to endure; and the dominion of his great intellect, the mellowness and sobriety of added years, the calmness which long intercourse with mankind gives to the irritability of the temper and nerves, might gradually have secured to him a sort of fame and estimation less dangerous, and more satisfactory both to his judgment and his pride. All these were irretrievably defeated by a most ill-assorted combination of domestic events. It is absurd to suppose that any human understanding can command all the complicated trains of human affairs, and be answerable for consequences which will befall us in spite of wisdom and virtue. There is sometimes domestic misery where there is no fault.”

The personalities scattered over some of Lord Byron’s writings in relation to some living men of letters, have been quoted and commented on as, scarcely less than his allusions to his own domestic affairs, proving unmanly spite to have formed an essential part of his personal character. Some of these personalities—especially those about Mr Coleridge—cannot be pardoned, upon any grounds. Mr Coleridge is, and always was, incapable of injuring any human being; and he, of all men in the world, is totally above the feelings of literary envy. He always, and in all places, did justice to Byron’s genius; and he had too much good taste, (even if there had been no-thing more in the case,) to make Lord Byron’s personal concerns the subject of his conversation. But might not the character of Coleridge have been much misrepresented to Lord Byron? Might he not have suffered himself to be influenced by that sort of rumour, however absurd, that has always mixed up Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Southey all together, as if they were, both poetically and personally, completely tres juncti in uno? We are afraid that there may have been no want of mean understrappers to poison his lordship’s mind with base lies as to Coleridge; and we are certainly quite unable to believe that Lord Byron is chargeable with much more than being a great deal too rash and hasty of belief as to this matter. What motive could he have for abusing the personal character of a brother poet, for whose poetical fame he himself had perhaps done more than any other contemporary? One of the best-natured and kindest-hearted men in the world, Coleridge, will assuredly suffer those ill-advised sarcasms to make no lasting impression upon his rich and noble mind.

As to Mr Wordsworth, and still more as to Mr Southey, we confess we take quite a different view of the matter. The former, no matter from what causes external to himself, from what long ill-usage received at base hands, and entailing innumerable consequences of real evil—the former illustrious poet is unquestionably much belied if he be not accustomed, on too many occasions, to sneer at, and utterly undervalue, the productions of contemporary genius more fortunate, in the worldly meaning of the word, than his own. We certainly have no sort of doubt that Mr Wordsworth may easily have permitted himself to say things of, even to, Lord Byron, sufficient if not to vindicate and justify, to afford at least no inconsiderable apology for, the few insignificant jokes, which, after all, constitute the sum of Lord Byron’s offences against him. And, by the way, we do not recollect that any of these jokes were levelled against Mr Wordsworth otherwise than in his poetical capacity.

With regard to Mr Southey, the case is quite of another kind. Here there was a real, rooted antipathy. Lord Byron considered the Laureate as a base renegado in politics and religion. Nothing could be more absurd than
Lord Byron.143
that belief—but it was his. He, moreover, believed Mr Southey to be his personal enemy—he believed him to be a man accustomed, in all possible ways, to abuse and vilify him in his conversation and his correspondence. Mr Southey has denied that this was true; but, subsequently to that denial, he has written far more, and far severer things, (in so far as intention goes,) against Lord Byron, than ever Lord Byron wrote against him. He who has dubbed Byron “the chief of the Satanic school,” can have no right now to complain of Byron calling him “Renegado,” and “Turncoat.” They are, at all events, quits. And as little right can he have to find fault with Byron’s too easily taking up malevolent misrepresentations of the tone of his conversation in regard to Lord Byron, who himself has, since Lord Byron’s death, written a violent
diatribe against Lord Byron, merely on the authority of certain passages in Mr Medwin’s book—a book which had not been published for a week, ere every man of sense in England was well satisfied as to the utter worthlessness of its authority, —a book, as to the real character of which, knowing as we all do Mr Southey’s intimate relations with the publisher of the Quarterly Review, we can with difficulty suppose Mr Southey to have been utterly in the dark for many hours after it came into his hands.

As for the squibs, epigrams, &c. about some of his own friends, such as Mr Rogers, Mr Moore, and Mr Hobhouse, that have, although unpublished, been sufficiently heard of in the world—we really cannot pretend to attach any sort of importance to such things. It is certain that these gentlemen were always the firm friends of Lord Byron, and it is certain that his fame is now as dear to them as it ever was. There are moments in which we all crack jokes at the expense of persons for whom we have the sincerest affection; and the only difference is, that we are not all poets and authors like Lord Byron, that our sarcastic words are forgotten, while his litera scripta manet. The story of his having said to his mother, when he and Mr Hobhouse parted company on their travels, that he “was glad to be alone,” amounts to nothing; for who is he, and above all, who is the poet, who does not often feel the departure of his dearest friend as a temporary relief? The man that was composing Childe Harold had other things to entertain him than the conversation of any companion, however pleasant; and we believe there are few pleasanter companions anywhere than Mr Hobhouse. This story, however, has been magnified into a mighty matter by Mr Dallas, whose name has recently been rather wearisomely connected with Lord Byron’s. Injustice to Mr Hobhouse, we shall quote from the Westminster Review a passage upon this matter, which we cannot doubt to have come from Mr H.’s own pen. Mr Alexander Dallas, in talking of the Chancellor’s injunction against the publication of some of Lord Byron’s letters, obtained by Mr Hobhouse acting as Lord Byron’s executor, has said,—

Mr Hobhouse was travelling with Lord Byron during the time when many of these letters were written, and probably he supposes that his lordship may have often mentioned him to his mother. This seems an equally natural supposition with the other; and if it should have entered into Mr Hobhouse’s head, he would, by analogy, be equally ready to swear, not that he supposed he was often mentioned, but that he really was so. And yet, after reading Lord Byron’s letters to his mother, it would never be gathered from them that he had any companion at all in his travels; except, indeed, that Mr Hobhouse’s name is mentioned in an enumeration of his suite; and upon parting with him, Lord Byron expresses his satisfaction at being alone.”

Mr Hobhouse’s comment on this follows.

“Of course such persons as Mr Dallas and his son Alexander could have no notion, but that Mr Hobhouse’s interference to prevent the publication of the correspondence must have been dictated by some interested motive; and hence, the offer to omit any passage in the letter that might be disagreeable to that gentleman. And here we will remark, that it might have been very possible that two young men, neither of them three-and-twenty, travelling together, might occasionally have had such differences as to give rise to uncomfortable feelings, which one of them might communicate when writing to his own mother; but that it is impossible to believe, that after many years of subsequent intercourse, the writer would make a present of such letters for publication, as contained anything to wound the feelings of him with whom he was living on terms of the most unre-
144Lord Byron.
served intimacy. Mr R. C. Dallas, in his letter to
Mrs Leigh, which his son has published, asserted that Mr Hobhouse had endeavoured to stop the forthcoming volume, because he was alarmed and agitated (so he calls it) for himself—and he hints that he had reason for so feeling—as if Lord Byron’s letters might contain disagreeable mention of him; yet it afterwards turned out, upon the confession of Dallas, the son, that Mr Hobhouse is ‘mentioned throughout the whole of the correspondence with great affection.’ Supposing the contrary had been the case, whose character would have suffered? Mr Hobhouse might have been grieved, but it would not have been for himself; the indiscretion of giving (if be did give) such letters to a third person would have rested with Lord Byron; but the infamy of publishing them would have belonged only to the seller of the manuscripts. We will show, in this place, another proof of the sort of moral principle which has presided over the publication in question. It answered the purpose of the editor to deal in the strongest insinuations against Mr Hobhouse; but, unfortunately, his father had, in the course of his correspondence with Lord Byron, mentioned that gentleman in very different terms—what does the honest editor do? he gives only the initial of the name, so that the eulogy, such as it is, may serve for any Mr H**. Mr R. C. Dallas’s words are, ‘I gave Murray your note on M * *, to be placed in the page with Wingfield. He must have been a very extraordinary young man, and I am sincerely sorry for H * *, for whom I have felt an increased regard ever since I heard of his intimacy with my son at Cadiz, and that they were mutually pleased.’ [p. 165.] The H * * stands for Hobhouse, and the M * *, whom R. C. Dallas characterizes here ‘as an extraordinary young man,’ becomes, in the hands of his honest son, ‘an unhappy Atheist,’ [p. 325,] whose name he mentions, in another place, at full length, and characterizes him in such a way as must give the greatest pain to the surviving relations and friends of the deceased. We know of nothing more inexcusable than this conduct. In the blind rage to be avenged of Lord Byron, because he would give no more money or manuscripts to Mr R. C. Dallas, and of his lordship’s executor, because he would not permit his private letters to he published; the father and son not only consign the ‘body, soul, and muse’ of their benefactor to perdition, but extend their malediction to those whom he has recorded as being the objects of his affection and regard.”

Old Mr Dallas appears to have been an inveterate twaddler, and there are even worse things than twaddling alleged against him by Mr Hobhouse, in the article we have been quoting. The worst of these, however, his misstatement as to the amount of his pecuniary obligations to Lord Byron, may perhaps be accounted for in a way much more charitable than has found favour with Mr Hobhouse; and as to the son, (Mr Alexander Dallas,) we assuredly think he has done nothing, but what he supposed his filial duty bound him to, in the whole matter. Angry people will take sneering and perverted views of the subject matter of dispute, without subjecting themselves in the eyes of the disinterested world, to charges so heavy either as Mr Hobhouse has thought fit to bring against Mr A. Dallas, or as Mr A. Dallas has thought fit to bring against Mr Hobhouse. As for the song of which so much has been said, what is it, after all, but a mere joke—

Who are now the people’s men,
My boy Hobbio?
Yourself, and Burdett, Gentlemen,
And Blackguards, Hunt, and Cobbio!

What is this foolery to the jests that passed between Swift and his dearest cronies?

As for Messrs Moore and Rogers, we shall see when they are dead,—and their Medwins, or, better still, their MSS. speak out—whether they have not said and written as many good things at Byron’s expense as ever he did at theirs. Good Heavens! What is it come to—if three distinguished friends, poets and wits by profession, may not exercise occasionally a little of their poetical wit upon each other’s foibles? These men loved and respected each other through life—What more has the world any right to know about the matter?

Some farther light may be thrown upon these matters, and others of a similar nature, by a note to Count Gamba’s Narrative on Lord Byron’s last Journey to Greece,* in which that gentleman comments upon certain passages in the article on Lord Byron’s
* A Narrative of Lord Byron’s Last Journey to Greece. Extracted from the Journal of Count Peter Gamba, who attended his Lordship on that Expedition. London. Murray. 1825.
Lord Byron.145
character, which we hare already alluded to as a disgrace even to the
London Magazine. Count Gamba speaks—

“We were in excellent health and spirits during our whole voyage from Italy to Greece; and for this we were partly indebted to our medical man, and partly to that temperance which was observed by every one on board, except at the beginning of the voyage by the captain of our vessel, who, however, ended by adopting our mode of life. I mention this to contradict an idle story told in a magazine, (the London,) that Lord Byron on this voyage ‘passed the principal part of the day drinking with the captain of the ship.’ Lord Byron, as we all did, passed his time chiefly in reading. He dined alone on deck; and sometimes in the evening he sat down with us to a glass or two, not more, of light Asti wine. He amused himself in jesting occasionally with the captain, whom he ended, however, by inspiring with a love of reading, such as we thought he had never felt before.

“To give some idea of the silly stories that were told to the prejudice of Lord Byron, and which some of his biographers have shewn every inclination to adopt for facts, I will mention, that our young physician confessed, that for the first fifteen days of our voyage he had lived in perpetual terror, having been informed that if he committed the slightest fault, Lord Byron would have him torn to pieces by his dogs, which he kept for that purpose; or would order his Tartar to dash his brains out. This Tartar was Baptista Falsieri the Venetian. In the same manner, the English inhabitants, both civil and military, of Cephalonia, seemed surprised by the kind, affable, open, and humorous disposition of Lord Byron, having formed a preconception of him quite contrary to his real character. The writer in the magazine, who certainly never saw Lord Byron in his life, chooses to insert this fact, and to place the surprise and delight to the account of his Lordship, who, he says, ‘was gratified to a most extravagant pitch.’ And at what?—merely because he was ‘in good odour,’ the writer says, ‘with the authorities of the Island.’ If his Lordship was ‘gratified to a most extravagant pitch,’ he concealed his gratification from me, who was with him almost every hour in the day. Pleased he was at the attentions of the Cephalonian English, as it was his nature to he with the attentions of any persons who seemed to wish him well: the rest is fiction. Perhaps I may be pardoned for alluding to one or two other pretended facts introduced by the same writer, in order to finish the features of the portrait which he has given of Lord Byron. ‘It was dangerous,’ says that writer, ‘for his friends to rise in the world, if they valued his friendship more than their own fame—he hated them.’ This is very easily said, and is with equal difficulty disproved; because the controversialists of both sides may end in saying, ‘in my opinion, he did hate them;’ whilst the other can only reply, ‘in my opinion, he did not.’ In proportion, however, as the charge is so easily made, and with such difficulty refuted, and as it is a most serious imputation, the writer ought to have some very good grounds for his assertion. I would therefore beg to ask him, which of his friends Lord Byron ever was known to hate, because or when ‘they rose in the world?’ Which of his friends, I further ask, was he ever known to hate at all? Those very few individuals who, I have always understood from his Lordship’s own lips, were his friends, I never heard him talk of, except in terms if the most sincere attachment. My own opinion is just the contrary to that if the writer in the magazine. I think he prided himself on the successes if his friends, and cited them as a proof if discernment in the choice if some of his companions. This I know, that of envy he had not the least spark in his whole disposition: he had strong antipathies, certainly, to one or two individuals; but I have always understood from those most likely to know, that he never broke with any of the friends of his youth, and that his earliest attachments were also his last.

“Again, in order to prove the difficulty of living with Lord Byron, it is said, that ‘when Mr Hobhouse and he travelled in Greece together, they were generally a mile asunder.’ I have the best authority for saying, that this is not the fact: that two young men, who were continually together, and slept in the same room for many months, should not always have ridden side by side on their journey is very likely; but when Lord Byron and Mr Hobhouse travelled in Greece, it would have been as little safe as comfortable to be ‘generally a mile asunder;’ and the truth is, they were generally very near each other.

“The writer, wishing to shew how attentive Lord Byron was to his own person, says, ‘And in these exercises so careful was he of his hands (one of those little vanities which beset men,) that he wore gloves even in swimming!” This is certainly not true; and I should say, on the contrary, that he wore gloves (if it be worth while to mention such a circumstance) rather less than most men: I have known him ride without them.

146 Lord Byron.

“I could contradict other assertions of the magazine-writer, which, though trifling in themselves, have served as a foundation for his ‘personal character of Lord Byron;’ but I feel reluctant to enter upon a task, which will doubtless one day or the other be better performed by some fellow-countryman of my illustrious friend. Indeed, I should not have said as much as I have, had I not been informed that the article to which I allude has made some impression upon the English public, having on the first appearance an air of candour and impartiality, as well as of being written after an intimate acquaintance with the great original; whereas, though there is some truth in his statements, it is certain that neither the writer nor his informants were fair judges of the person intended to be pourtrayed.”

We sincerely hope, that the Count Gamba’s expectation of a Life of Lord Byron, written by one of his true and intimate friends, will not long remain unfulfilled. Dallas’s book, utterly feeble and drivelling as it is, contains certainly some very interesting particulars as to his feelings when he was a very young author. The whole getting up of the two first cantos of Childe Harold—the diffidence—the fears —the hopes that alternately depressed and elevated his spirits while the volume was printing, are exhibited, so as to form a picture that all students of literature, at least, will never cease to prize. All the rest of the work is more about old Dallas than young Byron, and is utter trash. Mr Medwin’s book, again, has been dissected by Murray, Hobhouse, &c. in such style, that no man can ever henceforth appeal to it as authority. Nevertheless, there are many things in it also which, from internal evidence, one can scarcely doubt to be true,—and, perhaps, some of the most interesting of these may be confirmed hereafter on authority of another description. Mr Moore, on dit, is preparing Memoirs of Lord Byron. If he merely endeavours to recall to memory those parts of the burnt autobiography, that never, under any circumstances, should have been burnt, and adds anecdotes and recollections of his own occasional companionship with Byron, and letters, nothing can be better. But we certainly protest altogether against Mr Moore as the formal and complete historian of Byron’s life. Mr Hobhouse, by his early intimacy continued uninterrupted to the close, his participation above all in Byron’s early and influential travels; and, we may add, even by his sympathy with Lord Byron’s opinions, however wrong and dangerous, as to political matters, appears to be clearly designated as the man whose duty it is to undertake a work which the world has an unquestionable title to expect from some one. No set of people can differ more widely from Mr Hobhouse’s views as to politics, and perhaps some other matters, than we do, and always have done. But neither can any one, who has read his history of Napoleon’s Hundred Days, doubt his capacity to execute a work on this subject worthy of going down to posterity, in conjunction with Lord Byron’s own immortal works. This will be the true “Illustrations of Childe Harold.” Moore could write a much cleverer, and more sparkling collection of anecdotes than Hobhouse,—but he has, by his Captain Rock, convinced all the world, that he is utterly incapable of taking up a subject essentially serious—and discussing it in a manner at all creditable to himself, and satisfactory to the world. Moreover, Moore is, after all, an Irishman—and it is an Englishman born and bred, who alone can understand thoroughly the feelings and character of this great English poet.

Until some such book as this has been published—and until Lord Byron’s own correspondence has, in part at least, appeared,—it is sufficiently obvious, that common candour and justice demand from the public the suspension of any final striking of a balance, in regard to the good and the evil which were blended in Lord Byron’s character. In the meantime, it is most consolatory to us, and must be so to every mind that is not degraded by bigotry, arrogance, or spleen, to observe, that the last great act of the drama of his life was, whatever may be thought of the former parts of it, throughout characterized by everything that is best, noblest, wisest. Count Gamba’s name comes upon our ears, associated with some very disagreeable recollections; and his book is—as a book—but a poor one. It contains, however, quite enough of facts to satisfy all mankind that Lord Byron in Greece was everything that the friends of freedom, and the friends of genius, could have wished him to be. Placed amidst all the perplexities of most vile and worthless, intriguing factions—at the same time exposed to and harassed by the open violence of
Lord Byron.147
many utterly irreconcilable sets of mere barbarian robbers—the equally barbarous chiefs of whom were pretending to play the parts of gentlemen and generals—and, what was perhaps still more trying, perpetually annoyed, interrupted, and baffled by the ignorance, folly, and obstinate drivelling, of his own coadjutors, such as
Colonel Stanhope and the German Philhellenes—he, and he alone, appears to have sustained throughout the calmness of a philosopher, the integrity of a patriot, and the constancy of a hero. If anything could have done Greece real good, in her own sense of the word, at this crisis, it must have been the prolongation of the life he had devoted to her service. He had brought with him to her shores a name glorious and commanding; but, ere he died, the influence of his tried prudence, magnanimous self-denial, and utter superiority to faction, and all factious views, had elevated him into a position of authority, before which, even the most ambitiously unprincipled of the Greek leaders were beginning to feel the necessity of controlling their passions, and silencing their pretensions. The arrival of part of the loan from England—procured, as it unquestionably had been, chiefly through the influence of his name—was, no doubt, the circumstance that gave such commanding elevation to his personal influence in Greece, during the closing scenes of his career. But nothing except the visible and undoubted excellence of his deportment on occasions the most perplexing—nothing but the moral dignity expressed in every word and action of his while in Greece—nothing but the eminent superiority of personal character, resources, and genius which he had exhibited—could possibly have reconciled the minds of those hostile factious to the notion of investing any Foreigner and Frank with the supreme authority of their executive government. We have no sort of doubt, that if Byron had died three months later, he would have died governor of all the emancipated provinces of Greece. This is a melancholy thought, but it is also a proud one.

As for the ultimate issue of the present conflict—that, even if Byron had lived, and continued to act as gloriously as he bad begun—must still, in our humble opinion, have remained a matter of the extremest doubt. The ques-tion is not—Whether we wish Greece to be free from the Turkish sway? As to this, there is no diversity of feeling among any men of common education, and common feeling in any country of Christendom. The real question is—Whether the Greeks have not chosen to commence their conflict at a most improper and imprudent time? And that question we assuredly cannot have any difficulty about answering. They began their conflict when all Europe was in profound peace; so that they could not have any rational expectation of being supported by any foreign power whatever. This was of itself sufficient idiocy. But more still, they began their conflict ere they had either heads to guide them—hands to fight for them—or money to sustain them. Their chief men are either paltry intriguers from Constantinople, or wild robber captains from their hills. They have no army, and scarcely any prospect of having one, as anybody, that has read M. Gamba’s book, must be convinced. They have no resources worth speaking of, but what they get from abroad—And what permanent or effectual aid can a nation expect from loans such as they have been asking, and in part obtained? There is no real spirit of any kind among them, except only the spirit of hatred to the Turks, and the spirit of vile jealousy, and hatred of each other. They began fifty years too soon. Had they waited, education was beginning to find its way among the more wealthy classes—commerce was beginning to flourish—a national spirit was beginning to be formed—but they started ere any one of the appliances was in a state of efficient preparation. Witness one fact for a thousand. A private English nobleman, without any practice either of arms or politics, was, almost from the moment he appeared amongst them, felt universally to be the only man capable of discharging the highest duties in their state. It is true, that this man was Byron;—but, after all, what would a foreigner like Byron have been in any country really fit and ripe for playing the part that Greece has undertaken? Not nothing surely—but as surely not very much.

The wisdom or folly of the Greek cause, as it is called, has, however, very little to do with our judgment as to Lord Byron’s conduct, after he had
148Lord Byron.
espoused it. That conduct, we repeat, was blamelessly illustrious—it was clear, high, and glorious throughout. The
last poem he wrote was produced upon his birth-day, not many weeks before he died. We consider it as one of the finest and most touching effusions of his noble genius. We think he who reads it, and can ever after bring himself to regard even the worst transgressions that have ever been charged against Lord Byron, with any feelings but those of humble sorrow and manly pity, is not deserving of the name of man. The deep and passionate struggles with the inferior elements of his nature (and ours) which it records—the lofty thirsting after purity—the heroic devotion of a soul half weary of life, because unable to believe in its own powers to live up to what it so intensely felt to be, and so reverentially honoured as, the right—the whole picture of this mighty spirit, often darkened, but never sunk, often erring, but never ceasing to see and to worship the beauty of virtue—the repentance of it, the anguish, the aspiration, almost stifled in despair—the whole of this is such a whole, that we are sure no man can read these solemn verses too often, and we recommend them for repetition, as the best and most conclusive of all possible answers, whenever the name of Byron is insulted by those who permit themselves to forget nothing either in his life or his writings but the good.

’Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move;
Yet though I cannot be beloved,
Still let me love!
My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief,
Are mine alone!
The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze
A funeral pile!
The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of love, I cannot share,
But wear the chain.
But ’tis not thus—and ’tis not here
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now,
Where glory decks the hero’s bier,
Or binds his brow;
The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see!
The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.
Awake! (not Greece—she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home!
Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood! unto thee
Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of beauty be
If thou regret’st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Is here:—up to the field, and give
Away thy breath!
Seek out—less often sought than found,
A soldier’s grave—for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy ground,
And take thy rest.

We believe we said, at the beginning of this paper, that we should speak, in the course of it, of Lord Byron’s genius also, as well as of his personal character. We feel, however, that it would be in vain to enter upon this at any length now; nor are we sure that almost anybody would wish us to do so. He unquestionably has taken his place as a British classic of the first order: Of that there can be no doubt. Individual men, even of great talents, may dispute and cavil under the influence of individual prejudices, either of poetical theory or of personal feeling; but the voice of England, the voice of Europe, has spoken, and has been heard. There is no possibility that any man should, without the highest genius, exert over the mind of his contemporaries that sort of influence which Byron has exerted, without deserving to do so, and without continuing to exert a mighty influence over the mind of all future time. He is, and he always will be, one of
“The dead, but sceptred Sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.——”

Yet he died at seven-and-thirty; and who shall say—nay, who can believe, that the genius of Byron, if his life had been prolonged, might, must not have produced works sufficient to leave even the best of what he has bequeathed us comparatively in the shade?

Lord Byron. 149

He was one of those true masters, whose successive works attested, almost always, progressive power. We cannot but look upon the first two cantos of Childe Harold, in spite of their many exquisite passages, as weak, even boyish, compositions, compared with the third—infinitely more so with the fourth. In that last canto of Harold, so rich with its elaborate pomp of language and versification—so pregnant with passionate thought, with beauty of all sorts, with the exquisite feeling of natural beauty, the beauty of art, the solemnity of earthly ruin and decay—so massively strong, and yet so elastically buoyant throughout;—in the lament of Tasso, which we think is, as a whole, superior to Pope’s best and greatest effort, the Abelard and Eloisa, and indeed to any poem of the same class that the world has seen—in that specimen of intense unaffected pathos, and most graceful versification;—in the splendid narrative of the Corsair and Lara, so easy, so terse, so vigorous in composition, and so abounding in the display of compact and complete imaginative power;—in the pensive elegance of Parasina;—above all, in the colossal, mysterious, heart-rending gloom of Manfred:—in all and in each of these we certainly apprehend that no succeeding age, in which genius is appreciated and honoured, can ever cease to acknowledge and reverence the soul of a poet, and the hand of a master, of the very highest class. The few, the very few, who stand above Byron, must not be classed at all.

In the other serious poems of Lord Byron (which we have not named) the public appears to have decided justly, that he has been less fortunate. The Corsair threw the Giaour and the Bride of Abydos entirely into the shade; and, in spite of many isolated passages, quite equal to any he ever produced, especially in Cain and Sardanapalus, his more formal dramatic poems, have been weighed in the balance against Manfred, and found wanting.

His Beppo is a very clever jeu d’esprit: but Don Juan must not be alluded to so briefly. We have little hesitation in saying, that we regard that work as, upon the whole, the most original, remarkable, and powerful of all the works of Lord Byron’s genius. The exquisite grace of its language and versification (generally speaking, for it is often very careless as to both of these matters), the keen and searching observation—the perfect knowledge of human nature in very many of its weakest, and in very many of its strongest points—the wit—the humour—the really Shakespearean touches of character scattered over every page—these are excellencies which lie sufficiently on the surface of this extraordinary poem. The profound philosophical truth displayed in the conduct of the work—the gradations of the incidents, and the fine developement of the principal character—these are matters demanding more study, and sure, if that study be given, to reward it abundantly.

Nothing can be more true, than that Lord Byron possessed, after all, but a limited knowledge of man and man’s nature. Such is certainly the case; for if it had been otherwise, we must have seen a wider range of characters and sentiments in his works. He knew not, neither does he deal with, the sound, healthy workings of virtuous, innocent, unpolluted natures. No; but he deals with the inmost recesses of the dark heart—he pourtrays the blackest glooms of the most powerful, though the most miserable of passions—he tears the mask from the front of frigid hypocrisy—he lays bare the misery of unsatisfied infidel intellect on the one hand—and the worthless poverty of mere conventional forms of goodness upon the other. In Don Juan, he has shewn himself to be, as a wit and a satirist, quite equal to Le Sage—to Voltaire himself; and he has done so without darkening from our eyes one spark of that nobler and more enthusiastic genius, which nature had never before granted to any man in conjunction with such powers of wit as he possessed. No one can defend the licentiousness of some descriptions in this poem; but the refinement and art of the whole composition are so great, that we really do not entertain any apprehensions of its ever being a favourite book with the sort of readers likely to be essentially injured by those offensive passages,—which, after all, are not very many—not nearly so many, certainly, as those who take their opinions from the reviews must imagine.

We shall take leave to conclude this subject (for the present) with another
150Lord Byron.
quotation from the letters of
Sir Egerton Brydges. In spite of some feebleness of expression, there can be no doubt that this respectable veteran speaks a great deal of very honest, manly truth about Lord Byron.

“Such a perpetual tumult of violent emotions as that in which Lord Byron lived, perhaps contributed to shorten his existence: it was a fever which had a direct tendency to wear him out; and weakened him for the attack of any accidental illness, which thus became irresistible. If there be any one who is not affected and awed by so sudden a dissolution of so many extraordinary endowments; of gifts of nature so very brilliant; of acquisitions so unlikely to recur; of such a fund of images and sentiments; and observations, and reflections, and opinions, so matured, so polished, and so habituated to be ready to pour themselves forth to the world on every occasion; he must be a creature totally insensible, and stupidly indifferent to all those instinctive sympathies which make us regard with affection and pride the intellectual and more dignified part of our being. He who is himself feeble in intellect, is yet commonly conscious of its value; he admires and views with awe the high in talent; he envies, and would desire to possess, what is thus denied to him; he may not adequately admire the brilliancy of the prospect, when the sun lights it up; but he feels a deep chill and loss of pleasure when the sun retires and leaves all before him an indistinct mass of darkness. Lord Byron was often, in truth, a sun that lighted up the landscapes of the earth, and penetrated into the human heart, and surrounded its altar with beams of brightness.

“His death is an awful dispensation of Providence, and humbles the pride of man’s ambition, and of his self-estimation. In the eye of Providence those powers we estimate so loftily must be as nothing, or we cannot persuade ourselves they would be thus suddenly cut off before their time.

“But to our narrow ken, the splendid genius of Lord Byron must still be considered of mighty import. Yet it is the inseparable lot of man, ‘not to know the full value of a treasure till it is taken from us.’ Highly as we admired Lord Byron in his life, we shall admire him, if possible, infinitely more, now that it is gone. Variety will not make amends for intenseness in particular paths: but Lord Byron had both unequalled variety and intenseness in all. He had not only the supremacy of a sublime, sombre, melancholy, mysterious imagination; but he had an inexhaustible fund of wit and humour, and a most precise and minute knowledge of all the details of common life; a familiarity with all its habits and expressions; a lively and perfect insight into all its absurdities; and a talent of exposing them, so practised, so easy, and so happy, that it might be supposed he had never wandered into the visionary, and never occupied himself with anything but the study of man in familiar society. The alternate and opposite ability of throwing off the incumbrance of all degrading circumstances from imagery, which is the characteristic of the higher poetry, and that of bringing forth those very set-offs for the purposes of degradation, seems to require such contrary habits of attention, as well as of temper and feeling, that they have been scarcely ever united in the same person. Nor is it much less extraordinary, that in this, as in his graver imagination, all is faithful to nature: there is no exaggeration; the points selected for his wit and humour are sketched with admirable exactness; nay, the surprising likeness is one of the great attractions of this comic painting.”

* * *

“Wherever Lord Byron has given any images, sentiments, or thoughts, as his own, there is no reason to suspect that he has imputed to them more force than his own mind and bosom bore witness to. If, therefore, there are to be found in his numerous poems frequent passages of noble thoughts, and generous and affecting feelings, they are such as on those occasions must have been the inmates of his own soul and heart. They shew themselves by their freshness and nature never to be put on,—never worn as a dress.

Lord Byron was himself the being of imagination, whose character breaks out in all his writings; his life was that of the wild magical spirit, of which the feelings, the adventures, and the eccentricities, astonish and enchant us in his inventions. The public notoriety of this makes us receive much from him, which in others might be deemed exaggerated and over-wrought. A character and life so singular will always add interest to the writings of the poet. Another mode of life might possibly have produced poetry not less full of power, but it would not hare been the same sort of power:
Lord Byron.151
—it might have had more sobriety and regularity; it would not have had the same raciness, and, probably, not the same originality and force: it would have left all the ground untouched where Lord Byron has shewn most genius and most novelty, and upon which no one is likely to follow him. If he has done wrong, if the evil parts overbalance the rood, so much the worse for the value of his genius. But do they overbalance the good? It is not evil to detect and expose hypocrisy; it is not evil to pierce the disguise of meretricious love; and the picture which renders it ridiculous will avail beyond a thousand thundering sermons!

“But they who are angry with the foulness of the prurient curiosity that detects, would not scruple to be guilty of the crime detected! Such pictures are, indeed, a compound of good and ill: they may corrupt some innocent minds, while they may check in their course of vice others already corrupted. But this is a great set-off to the objections even of some of the least defensible parts of Lord Byron’s works.

“There is a very doubtful good in believing the mass of mankind much more virtuous than they are, and thus increasing the success of hypocrisy and insincerity. If they are represented worse, the falsehood of the representation will recoil upon the author.”

* * *

“There are extremes into which he has been sometimes led by a course of sentiment and thought, and a line of fiction, which, on deep consideration, will not be found to have the tendency, or deserve the character, that superficial readers and critics have assigned to them. One of the grand faults of mankind, which Lord Byron’s temper, the impulses of his heart, and the vigour of his faculties, prompted him to combat and expose, was hypocrisy and false pretension. He saw with indignation the unjust estimate of character the world was accustomed to make, and the flagrant wrong with which it was accustomed to distribute admiration, honours, and rewards. He bent, therefore, the whole force of his mighty faculties, to expose these absurdities in striking colours; to throw a broader light on their real features; and to draw the veil from the cloven foot, and the Satanic qualities which had hitherto been concealed.

“He would plead, that, in detecting vice under the robe of virtue, he was not warring with virtue’s cause, but supporting it; and that the cry of alarm was but the interested and corrupt cry of those, who could not bear that their own cloak of disguise should be torn from them!

“But has he not, in the effort to pull down hypocrisy, set up naked and audacious crime? This is the charge against him; and it is indeed a charge which has sometimes a strong appearance of being well founded. All powers of great energy will occasionally overshoot the mark: the decision must be made according to the predominance of good or evil. We must estimate by the comparative mischief of the character elevated, and the character depressed, by these exhibitions. Now, daring and open crime always brings with it its own antidote; but concealed rottenness works under ground, covered with flowers, and spreads diseases and pestilence, without a suspicion whence the sufferings and the destructions come,—and, therefore, continues to prostrate its victims, unchecked by its success, and uncorrected by time.”

We are very far from wishing it to be supposed that we entirely adopt some of these views of Sir Egerton; but we adopt certainly the general course and tenor of his opinion; and we are quite sure that all he has said is well worthy to be considered, and that very seriously.

“——Look on me!—There is an order
Of mortals on the earth, who do become
Old in their youth, and die ere middle age,
Without the violence of warlike death;
Some perishing of pleasure—some of study—
Some worn with toil—some of mere weariness—
Some of disease—and some insanity
And some of withered, or of broken hearts—
For this last is a malady which slays
More than are numbered in the lists of Fate!
Taking all shapes and bearing many names;—
Look upon me!—for even of all these things
Have I partaken; and of all these things
One were enough: Then wonder not.”—