LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[John Cam Hobhouse]
[Review of Dallas and Medwin on Byron].
Westminster Review  Vol. 3  (January 1825)  1-35.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH



JANUARY, 1825.

Art. I. Recollections of the Life of Lard Byron, from the year 1808, to the end of 1814; Exhibiting his early Character and Opinion; detailing the Progress of his Literary Career, and including various unpublished Passages of his Works. Taken from Authentic Documents in the possession of the Author; by the late R. C. Dallas, Esq. to which is prefixed An Account of the Circumstances leading to the Suppression of Lord Byron’s Correspondence with the Author, and his Letters to his Mother, lately announced for publication. London. Printed for Charles Knight, Pall Mall East.

Journal of the Conversations of Lard Byron, Noted during a Residence with his Lordship at Pisa, in the years 1821 and 1822. By Thomas Medwin, Esq. of the 24th Light Dragoons, Author of ‘Ahasuerus the Wanderer.’ London. Colburn. 1824.

J. G. Lockhart, “Lord Byron”

As far as the title-page is concerned, the work of Mr. R. C. Dallas is a regular catch-penny publication. It is any thing but what it pretends to be; it does not “exhibit the early character and opinions” of lord Byron; it does not “detail the progress of his literary career;” it does “include various unpublished passages of his works,” but they are passages which lord Byron had condemned as not worth publishing; and as to “the account of the circumstances leading to the suppression of lord Byron’s correspondence,” it is not an account of those circumstances, but is a very impertinent and confused mis-statement of a transaction in which the public are in no ways interested, and to which we should pay no attention were it not a public duty to expose conduct such as that of the author of the mis-representation.

We do not intend to permit the notice of this trumpery volume, to draw us into a general comment on the character of the extraordinary person whom it was meant to defame.
2Dallas’s Recollections,
We would not willingly connect such a discussion with a work so utterly worthless as the one before us; and taking care to see “execution done” on
Mr. R. C. Dallas, and his son Alexander, we shall not introduce any more facts respecting lord Byron than may be just sufficient to portray, in their proper colours, the author and editor of these Recollections. Since Orrery wrote his defamatory life of Swift, and since Mr. Wyndham published Doddington’s diary, in order to expose the author of that strange record of venality, we are not aware that the friends or family of any writer have deliberately set down to diminish his fame and tarnish his character. Such, however, has been the case in the work before us. We do not mean to say that such was the first object in view by the author or authors of this volume. No; their first object was the laudable motive of putting money into their purses; for it appears upon their own showing, that Mr. R. C. Dallas, having made as much money as he could out of lord Byron in his life time, resolved to pick up a decent livelihood (either in his own person or that of his son) out of his friend’s remains when dead. Mr. R. C. Dallas, had, it seems, some how or the other, got into his possession some letters addressed by lord Byron to his mother; he had, also, some letters addressed by lord Byron to himself. Of these letters (connected by notes and observations) he formed a sort of memoir of the life of lord Byron, which he kept by him for some time, intending to sell it in his own life time, if he should survive lord Byron, or leave it as a legacy to his family should he die before his lordship. But it appears that Mr. R. C. Dallas could not wait for his money so long as was requisite, and that in the year 1819 he became a little impatient to touch something in his life time: accordingly, in an evil hour, he writes a long long letter to lord Byron, containing a debtor and creditor account between R. C. Dallas and his lordship; by which, when duly balanced, it appeared that said lord Byron was still considerably in arrears of friendship and obligation to said R. C. Dallas, and ought to acquit himself by a remittance of materials (such is Mr. R. C. Dallas’s own word, in his own letter, as will be seen by and by) to his creditor Mr. R. C. Dallas. Lord Byron, however, seems to have entertained very different notions as to the nature of the account between the parties; he sent no materials; and Mr. R. C. Dallas could have no profitable dealings with the booksellers just at that moment; but he consoled himself with the notion, that his manuscript would be worth something at some time or other, and that either alive or dead, lord Byron would still be forced to furnish some hundreds of pounds to him or his heirs,
and Medwin’s Conversations.3
and thus balance the long outstanding account between them.
The death of lord Byron, of course, seemed at once to promise this settlement: no sooner had he heard it, than he set about copying the manuscripts; he wrote to Messrs. Galignani at Paris, to know whether they would “enter into the speculation” of publishing some very interesting manuscripts of lord Byron; he set off for London; he sold the volume to a London: bookseller, and “he returned without loss of time to France.” His worthy son has told us all this himself, at pages 94 and 96 of his volume, and has actually printed the letter his father wrote to Messrs. Galignani, to show, we suppose, how laudably alert Mr. R. C. Dallas evinced himself to be on this interesting opportunity of securing his lawful property. The booksellers, also, performed their part; they announced the “Private Correspondence” of lord Byron for sale; and, as it also appears by this volume, were so active as to be prepared to bring their goods to market before lord Byron’s funeral. Nay, more, that they might do complete justice to Mr. R. C. Dallas’s property they contrived to announce it for publication on the very day that the remains of lord Byron were carried through the streets of London, on their way to the family vault in Nottinghamshire.

Certainly, no scheme, short of arresting the body itself, could seem better imagined for discharging lord Byron’s debts to Mr. R. C. Dallas. But it unfortunately happened, that this speculation, as the author very properly calls it, was not so agreeable to Mrs. Leigh, lord Byron’s sister, nor to lord Byron’s executors, as it had been to Messrs. Galignani of Paris, and Knight of London. They thought differently of the publication of private letters; and Mrs. Leigh desired Mr. Hobhouse one of the executors, to write to Mr. R. C. Dallas to say, that she should think the publication, in question “quite unpardonable,” at least for the present, and unless after a previous inspection by his lordship’s family. Unfortunately for Mr. Dallas, it appears, according to this volume, that Mr. Hobhouse did not in this letter, state that he was lord Byron’s executor; but merely appealed to Mr. R. C. Dallas’s “honour and feeling,” wishing probably to try that topic first; and thinking it more respectful to do so, than to threaten the author with legal interference at once. Mr. Dallas was resolved upon getting his money, and wrote a very angry letter, not to Mr. Hobhouse but to Mrs. Leigh (which, his prudent son has also printed), containing menaces not unkilfully calculated to intimidate that lady, especially considering that she must have been at that moment peculiarly disposed to receive any unpleasant impressions—her brother’s corpse lying yet unburied. For an author
4Dallas’s Recollections,
and seller of Remains the time was not ill chosen—by a gentleman and a man, another moment, to say nothing of another style, might perhaps have been selected. But no time was to be lost; the book must be out on the 12th of July, and out it would have been had not the executors procured an injunction against it on the 7th of the same month, and thus very seriously damaged, if not ruined, Mr. R. C. Dallas’s “speculation.” All this we collect from the volume itself, which, it should be now told, is made up in such a way as to avoid the Chancery veto, and contains probably only Mr. R. C. Dallas’s portion of that work with which he originally intended to favour the public; for of lord Byron’s composition there is little or nothing, except a speech in parliament printed long ago, and except some scraps of rejected poetry, which Mr. R. C. Dallas thinks himself justified in publishing now, though he takes great credit for having persuaded lord Byron to suppress them before.
Ninety-seven pages of the volume are taken up with a statement of the proceedings in Chancery, which were so fatal to the “speculation.” In this statement, which is written by Mr. Alexander Dallas, the son of Mr. R. C. Dallas, who died before the volume could be published, it may easily be supposed that all imaginable hard things are said of those who spoiled the speculation. The executors, and lord Byron’s sister, are spoken of in terms which, if noticed, would certainly very much increase those “expenses” of which the Rev. Alexander Dallas so piteously complains; for we doubt if any jury would hesitate to return a verdict of libel and slander against many passages which we could point out in the preliminary statement. It is probable that the animosity against lord Byron’s sister and executors, has contributed, in some degree, though not altogether, to the general complexion of the Recollections themselves, which, as we have before stated, must be ranked amongst the very few specimens to be found of downright defamatory memoirs. The greater part of the Recollections, indeed, consists of very tiresome homilies and fragments from the pen of the author of Aubry, not from that of the author of Childe Harold; but wherever mention is made of lord Byron, it is to deplore the ruin of his original disposition, the perversion of his genius, and the wickedness of his associates. Of course, therefore, the credit to be attached to these Recollections must depend, not upon the literary skill with which they may be composed (which we could settle at once by the quotation of any passage at random), but upon the character of the author or authors. We think we can decide this question, having had recourse to the best sources of information, and having been favoured with the
and Medwin’s Conversations.5
sight of certain documents which, without any comments, will speak for themselves.

As to the qualification of this connexion of the Byron family, and friend of lord Byron, for writing a biography of the poet, some opinion may be formed by the fact, that Mr. R. C. Dallas opens his Recollections by a passage which contains two errors. He says, “The former, whose name was John, died at Valenciennes not long after the birth of his son, which took place at Dover.” Lord Byron’s father did not die till three years and a half after the birth of his son, which did not take place at Dover, but in Holles-street, at London. The Rev. Alexander Dallas is equally well informed when he says, in page 92, speaking of the Byrons, that they are “a very ancient and honourable family, which was afterwards ennobled by James 1st.” The peerage was given to the family, not by James 1st, but Charles 1st.

These mis-statements, however, are immaterial, in comparison with that made by the Rev. Alexander Dallas, in page 91 of his attack on the executors, in which we find these words:—

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

‘For many years of his life lord Byron never saw Mrs. Leigh, and would have no communication with her; he was averse to the society of the sex, and thought lightly of family ties. This separation continued from his boyhood up to the year 1812: during the latter part of which period, Mr. Dallas continually, but fruitlessly, endeavoured to induce lord Byron to take notice of Mrs. Leigh.’

We have nothing to do with the amiable motive of this assertion. To injure the character of lord Byron, to distress Mrs. Leigh, and to show the obligations of his lordship to Mr. Dallas; all these objects are quite worthy of the “speculation;” but we fearlessly answer—the statement is untrue.

Lord Byron was taken into Scotland by his mother and father, and Mrs. Leigh was left in England with her grandmother, to whom her father had consigned her on condition that she should provide for her. They were thus separated from 1789 until lord Byron came to England; when thy met as often as possible, although it was not easy to bring them together, as Mrs. Byron, the mother of lord Byron, had quarrelled with lady Holdernesse. For the intercourse which did take place, the brother and sister were indebted to the kind offices of lord Carlisle.

In page 17 of the Recollections, we find Mr. Dallas (the father) saying—

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

‘He declaimed against the ties of consanguinity, and abjured even the society of his sister, from which he entirely withdrew himself until after the publication of Childe Harold, when at length he yielded to
6Dallas’s Recollections,
my persuasions, and made advances towards a friendly intercourse with her.’

That lord Byron might have dropt an unguarded opinion as to relationship in general is possible, though such an error is nothing in comparison with the atrocity of coolly recording that opinion as if it had been an habitual sentiment, which we say it was not. We say that it is untrue that lord Byron declaimed against the ties of consanguinity. It is untrue that he entirely withdrew from the company of his sister during the period alluded to. It is untrue that he “made advances” to a friendly intercourse with her only after the publication of Childe Harold, and only at the persuasion of Mr. R. C. Dallas. Mrs. Leigh corresponded with lord Byron at the very time mentioned, and saw in lord Carlisle’s house in the spring of 1809; after which he went abroad, and did not return until July 1811.

We speak from the same authority, when we say that what is said of lord Carlisle, though there was, as all the world knows, a difference between his lordship and lord Byron, is also at variance with the facts.

Having thus noticed and shown the value of the assertion by which the two Dallases have attempted to wound the feelings of lord Byron’s sister, we shall now do the same by an assault which he reverend gentleman, the son, has made upon Mr. Hobhouse—lord Byron’s friend. Alexander Dallas says, page 34, 35.

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

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, he equally ready to swear, not that he supposed he was often mentioned, but that 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.

Now for the fact—When captain (the present lord) Byron had an interview with Mr. Hobhouse on the subject of these memoirs, of which interview Mr. Alexander Dallas gives a garbled account, his lordship stated to Mr. Hobhouse that he had seen the volume, and that there was only one passage which could possibly be disagreeable to Mr. H., and that even that passage, taken in connexion with what followed, could not leave any unpleasant impression. His lordship then repeated the passage to Mr. Hobhouse, and we can state that the reverend editor has men-
and Medwin’s Conversations.7
tioned the portion which might be likely to hurt Mr. Hobhouse’s feelings, but has honestly omitted to state the explanatory addition with which lord Byron concluded his remark to his mother “that he was not sorry to be alone.”

But we have it in our power to show, in a more conclusive way, the degree of faith to be attached to Mr. A. Dallas’s statement. When the lord chancellor had confirmed that part of the vice-chancellor’s injunction which referred to lord Byron’s letters to Mr. Dallas, Mr. Alexander Dallas resolved to make another trial to obtain the consent of the executors to the publication of the volume, and he accordingly wrote a letter to Mr. Hobhouse, a copy of which is lying before us; and which, for a reason that will be obvious on perusal, was the only one of the letters that passed between the parties on this occasion that Mr. Dallas has not thought proper to publish. We give it entire, and we print in capital letters that part of it which we wish the reader to contrast with the before-quoted statement made by Mr. A. Dallas relative to lord Byron’s notice of Mr. Hobhouse in his letters.

Wooburn, near Beaconsfield, Bucks, 24 Aug. 1824.

Sir;—I have just read the opinion which the lord chancellor has expressed relating to the publication of the letters of lord Byron. He holds that those to my father cannot be published without the consent of the executors, while, respecting those to his mother, he has reserved his opinion until Saturday; at the same time, what he has already said upon that point makes it more than probable that the injunction will be dissolved as far as relates to them; and he has thrown out a hint which suggests, that the substance and matter of the letters to my father may be published as information, without inserting the letters themselves. As there is time between this and the lord chancellor’s final judgment on Saturday, I think it right to renew the negotiation which had commenced through the medium of my friend lord Byron upon the subject, and which was only interrupted in consequence of Mr. Hanson’s wishing for delay. By lord Byron you have been informed of the nature of the work as it had been prepared for present publication: he read the book, and from his personal knowledge of the parties mentioned in it, was well able to judge of the effect every part would have upon them; he stated to you, if I mistake not, that in his opinion the work contained nothing that could harm any one, and that it was calculated to raise lord Byron in the estimation of the world; his opinion is amply corroborated by the testimony given in the affidavits in the cause. If the executors withdraw their opposition to the publication, I am ready
8Dallas’s Recollections,
to pledge myself that the work shall be printed exactly as he read it; and that an advertisement or notice shall be prefixed to the title-page, stating that it was published by the consent of the executors. I remember that lord Byron remarked upon two passages in letters from the late lord which he thought you might dislike. I think that when taken in connexion with the many times which he mentions you throughout the whole of his correspondence with great affection, that they would hardly occupy your mind a moment; but as they were the only passages upon which lord Byron remarked at all in the work as it stands, I will readily agree to expunge them altogether, that it may remain as he thought it could not be disapproved of. I have no objection to submit the work to the inspection of a third person.
Dr. Lushington has been named by yourself, and though I have not the least personal knowledge of that gentleman, I should be very ready to omit any passage of the letters to which he, on your part, might object.

“Should this arrangement not be made, I have no doubt that my father will act upon the chancellor’s suggestion, and speedily publish a memoir of lord Byron, taken from the documents he has in his hands, and introducing, at the same time, such parts of the former manuscripts to which allusion has been made in the course of the proceedings, as he may think proper. At the same time, I confess that it would give me so much pain to see such a work published, that it would be proportionably gratifying if it could be superseded by the proposed arrangement. I shall be under the necessity of immediately writing to my father (who is in Paris not yet able to travel) upon the subject of the chancellor’s opinion, and it would very much forward the arrangement I propose, if, at the same time,! were enabled to mention the result of this letter, I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

Alexander R. C. Dallas.
J. C. Hobhouse, Esq. M. P.
6, Albany, Piccadilly.

Such was Mr. Alexander Dallas’s letter to Mr. Hobhouse; and that he should, after writing such a letter, make a statement which he knew the production of that letter could positively contradict, is an instance of confidence in the forbearance of others such as we never have happened before to witness. We beg the reader to compare the words in italics from Mr. Dallas’s statement with the words in capitals from Mr. Dallas’s letter—and then to ask himself whether he thinks lord Byron’s
and Medwin’s Conversations.9
reputation, or that of his relations and friends, has much to suffer or fear from such a censor as the Reverend Alexander Dallas. In the Statement, he tells the world that Mr. Hobhouse is mentioned in lord Byron’s letters in the enumeration of his suite; and, in a remark, that lord Byron was satisfied at being alone. In the letter, he tells Mr. Hobhouse, that “he (Mr. Hobhouse) is mentioned throughout the whole of the correspondence with great affection.”*

* 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 any thing to wound the feelings of him with whom he was living on terms of the most unreserved 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 he 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 characterises 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 characterises 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
10 Dallas’s Recollections,

To such an appeal of mingled cajolery and menacing, no answer was, of course, given—but the precious document was preserved amongst the executor’s papers, and has served to display the true character of one of the parties to the composition of the volume now under our notice. Before we part with the reverend gentleman, we would remark upon the trait of sincerity with which he concludes his letter—he expresses the pain which the publication of his father’s original memoirs would give him; and yet, when he has it in his absolute power, after his father’s death, to do what he will, he not only publishes that, or a most injurious portion of that, which he states would give so much pain—but he adds statements of his own, ten thousand times more offensive, and calculated (if they were not all unfounded) not only to injure the memory of the dead, but to wound the feelings of the living.

We now come to the reverend gentleman’s father, and as the death of lord Byron did not prevent that person from writing what we know to be unfounded of his lordship, we shall not refrain, because he also is dead, from saying what we know to be founded of Mr. R. C. Dallas. In performing this task we are, most luckily, furnished with a list of Mr. Dallas’s pretensions, by Mr. Dallas himself, in the shape of a letter written by that person to lord Byron in 1819, of which the Reverend Alexander Dallas has thought fit to publish a considerable portion. To this letter, or list of Mr. R. C. Dallas’s brilliant virtues, and benefits conferred upon lord Byron, we shall oppose an answer from a person, whom neither Mr. R. C. Dallas nor his reverend son had ever dreamt could appear against them again in this world—that person is lord Byron himself. For it so happens, that although his lordship did not reply to the said letter by writing to the author, yet he did transmit that epistle, with sundry notes of his own upon it, to one of his correspondents in England. The letter itself, with lord Byron’s notes, is now lying before us, and we shall proceed at once to cite the passages which lord Byron has commented upon, all of which, with one exception, to he noticed hereafter, have before been given to the public.

Mr. Dallas’s letter says;

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

“I take it for granted, that when you excluded me from your friendship, you also banished me from your thoughts, and forgot
executor, because he would not permit his private letters to be 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.
and Medwin’s Conversations.11
the occurrences of our intimacy. I will, therefore, bring one circumstance to your recollection, as it is introductory to the subject of this letter. One day when I called upon you at your apartments in Albany, you took up a book in which you had been writing, and having read a few short passages, you said that you intended to fill it with the characters of those then around you, and with present anecdotes, to be published in the succeeding century, and not before; and you enjoyed, by anticipation, the effect that would he produced on the fifth and sixth generations of those to whom you should give niches in your posthumous volume. I have often thought of this fancy of yours, and imagined the wits, the belles, and the beaux, the dupes of one sex, and the artful and frail ones of the other, figuring, at the beginning of the 20th century, in the actual costume of the 19th. I remember well that, after one or two sketches, you concluded with, “This morning
Mr. Dallas was here, &c.;” you went no further—but the smile with which you shut the book gave me to understand, that the colours you had used for my portrait were not of a dismal hue, &c.”

To which lord Byron appends this note.

I recollect nothing of all thisbut suppose that he alludes to a journal which I kept for six months, in 1813 and 14, and afterwards gave to Moore, who, I believe, still has it. ”

Thus, it appears, that lord Byron recollected nothing of all this—which, however, under the hands of Mr. Alexander Dallas, has grown into a more considerable event than when described by his father. Mr. R. C. Dallas only says, “I will, therefore, bring one circumstance to your recollection, as it is introductory to the subject of this letter—one day when I called upon you at your apartments in Albany.” But Mr. Alexander Dallas says, in page iv of his preliminary statement, “Mr. Dallas had many times heard him read portions of a book in which his lordship inserted his opinion of the persons with whom he lived.”

So that we find the “one circumstance” and the “one day” swollen into “many times.” Doubtless one is as true as the ether; for we have the authority of the other party for saying that lord Byron did not plead guilty to the circumstance, such as it was represented by his volunteer correspondent.

We will now proceed to another passage of this very ingenious letter.—

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

“It is true that I benefitted not inconsiderably by some of your works; but it was not in the power of money to satisfy or repay me. I felt the pecuniary benefit as I ought. The six or seven
12Dallas’s Recollections,
hundred pounds paid by the purchaser of Childe Harold for the copyright was, in my mind, nothing in comparison with the honour that was due to me for discerning the genius that lay buried in the Pilgrimage, and in exciting you to the publication of it, in spite of the damp which had been thrown upon it in the course of its composition, and in spite of your own reluctance and almost determination to suppress it.”

Across this passage lord Byron has written as follows.


Two Hundred Pounds before I was twenty years old.

Copyright of Childe Harold, £.600.

Copyright of Corsair, £.500.

And £.50 for his Nephew on entering the army; in all £.1350, and not 6 or 700 as the worthy accountant reckons.

Thus it appears that the pecuniary assistance afforded to Mr. R. C. Dallas, and for which his posthumous volume shows him to have been so grateful, was not confined to the purchase money for his lordship’s works; but that the honourable biographer borrowed £.200 of his young acquaintance before he was “twenty years of age!!” it is, indeed, much to be lamented by the Dallas family, that his lordship should have ever fallen into these evil courses which, it seems, made him forget the lessons of prudence and propriety, and the examples of decent sober life, which Mr. R. C. Dallas took care to bring before his pupil before he was twenty years of age.

But to go on:—Mr. R. C. Dallas’s letter continues, just after the former passage, in this strain. He says that these “six or seven hundred pounds” were “nothing in comparison with the kindness that was due to me for the part I took in keeping back your Hints from Horace, and the new edition of the Satire.”

Lord Byron here makes the following note:

This is not true—the publication of Childe Harold was urged, but not the suppression of the satire. What took place was in 1812, to gratify Rogers,who asked me on account of Lord Holland.”

So much for Mr. R. C. Dallas’s mode of acquitting his pecuniary obligation towards lord Byron. He, first of all, calls the debt 6 or £.700; it turn out to be £.1350. He then says that this sum is nothing in comparison with the kindness due to him for the part he took in keeping back the Hints from Horace. This assertion lord Byron states is not true. We
and Medwin’s Conversations.13
may add, on our parts, that had it been true, the kindness would have been cancelled by the fact that Mr. R. C. Dallas has actually now published part of that which he says he had prevailed on lord Byron to suppress. The honesty and decency of this latter part of the transaction are quite in unison with the truth and delicacy, and, indeed, the wisdom of the “new way to pay old debts” adopted by Mr. R. C. Dallas. We must also be permitted to add, that lord Byron has exactly, and in one word, told the truth, as to the share which Mr. R. C. Dallas had in the publication of
Childe Harold; and that Mr. R. C. Dallas has not told the truth. For he would first make lord Byron believe, and now he would make the world believe, that he was the sole encourager and cause of Childe Harold being given to the world. He did “urge” it when lord Byron had some doubts about it, but that he was the only person to urge it, is not true. We speak from personal knowledge of the facts.

Mr. R. C. Dallas, however, still urges upon lord Byron his merits, quite “impayables” it appears, in saving him from himself. He says,

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

“My head is full of you, and whether you allow me the merit or not, my heart tells me that I was chiefly instrumental, by my conduct in 1812, in saving you from perpetuating the enmity of the world, or rather, in forcing you against your will into its admiration and love; and that I afterwards considerably retarded your rapid retrograde motion from the enviable station which genius merits.”

Across these passages, opposite the words “saving you from perpetuating the enmity,” lord Byron has put “the Devil you did?” and over the words “rapid retrograde motion” lord Byron has written “when did this happen? and how?”

If any comment can be considered necessary in addition to these few words of lord Byron, we would just remark as a slight inconsistency in the character and pretensions of Mr. R. C. Dallas, that whereas he in this letter gives himself so much praise, and would wipe off an obligation of £.1350 because he persuaded lord Byron against his will to publish Childe Harold—yet it seems that according to his worthy son, “one of the last charges which he gave me upon his death-bed, but a few days before he died, and with the full anticipation of his end, was, not to let this work go forth to the world without stating his sincere feeling of sorrow that ever he had been instrumental in bringing forward Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage to the public; since the publication of it had produced such disastrous effects to one, whom he had loved so affectionately.”—See page 341 of the Recollections.

14 Dallas’s Recollections,

According to Mr. R. C. Dallas’s letter, these disastrous effects had been produced when he wrote that letter in 1819, and yet at that time Mr. Dallas made a merit with his lordship for having been the man-midwife of this very poem.

Again: the other conspicuous merit of Mr. R. C. Dallas, according to himself, was his saving lord Byron from “perpetuating the enmity of the world,” by causing him to suppress his Hints from Horace, and the new edition of his Satire. Yet it appears that, according to the same Mr. R. C. Dallas, those very persons from whose perpetual enmity he saved lord Byron, were the individuals whose wicked society and influence he suffered to efface all those habits of faith, both spiritual and pecuniary, which had been instilled into the mind of his lordship by Mr. R. C. Dallas before the age of twenty.

We have now to mention that, Mr. R. C. Dallas after the words which conclude his letter, as given by his son, namely, these words: “but my present anxiety is, to see you restored to your station in this world, after trials that should induce you to look seriously into futurity.”—after these words, we find in the original letter the following—

“I have now done for the present; what say you, will you embrace my proposal? will you add any fresh materials which may justify or conciliate? and will you join zealously in the execution of my meditated design. I will now only add, that I am confident it wants but an effort of wisdom on your part, and a cordial co-operation, to effect all that one friend could wish for another. Adieu:—even though you should despise this attempt, I will not think so ill of you as to imagine that my letter, failing in its object, will have any other effect upon you, than that of making you sorry for your conduct towards me; and while I live you shall have the prayers of

R. C. Dallas.

“My address is—Monsieur Dallas, Ste. Ardresse près de Havre, Seine Inferieure, France.

“P.S. On a reperusal of this letter, I found my mind inclining to revolt at one or two passages. The expressing a consciousness of merit of any kind, almost, if not altogether, destroys its value. No man is more sensible of this than I am; it is, besides an insufferable weakness, one that I despise too much to be guilty of myself; but there are circumstances, which not only palliate, but call upon men to show that, however they may pass it over, they are not ignorant of then due. I will let my letter go, for I am certain that I have not written for the purpose of hurting your feelings: that my only
and Medwin’s Conversations.15
aim is what I have expressed. Short of that, I look for nothing further between us. Were that to be accomplished, your regard would accompany me for the remainder of my life and outlive me. If you are silent, and resolved in your indifference to the best objects of life, I may again be sorry, but I shall only be where I was. R. C. D.”

It is quite clear from this conclusion to R. C. D’s letter, in what way he intended lord Byron should look “seriously into futurity;” he at once asks lord Byron, having before mentioned his intended public account of his lordship’s pursuits, together. with a letter to lady Byron, “will you add any fresh materials which may justify or conciliate?” It was quite indifferent what sort of share lord Byron took in the intended publication—he might either conciliate his wife, or justify his conduct towards her; provided only he appeared in print in company with R. C. Dallas. This will be seen by every body, and it was seen by lord Byron, who, to the end of the said letter, appended what follows in verse and prose.

Here lies R. C. Dallas,
Who wanted money and had some malice,
If instead of a cottage he had lived in a palace
We should have had none of these sallies.

The upshot of this letter appears to be, to obtain my sanction to the publication of a volume about Mr. Dallas and myself, which I shall not allow. The letter has remained and will remain unanswered. I never injured Mr. R. C. Dallas, but did him all the good I could, and I am quite unconscious and ignorant of what he means by reproaching me with ungenerous treatment; the facts will speak for themselves to those who know them—the proof is easy.

Such were lord Byron’s observations upon Mr. R. C. Dallas’s letter and his own conduct; and yet mark the proceedings of this aged novel-writer! He knew, as well as lord Byron, that he had received nothing but favours from his lordship; yet he deliberately sits down to write this absurd and impertinent letter; he takes a copy of it; intending, as it has turned out, if lord Byron’s contempt should induce him not to answer it, to quote his letter, and state that silence as something like an acquiescence in its contents; and, he accordingly not only does embody a part of the said letter in his intended memoirs, but actually introduces it into an affidavit in Chancery, as a proof
16Dallas’s Recollections,
that lord Byron was cognizant, and, by implication, did not disapprove, of Mr. Dallas’s biographical enterprise. Yet here we have lord Byron’s own decision on this subject, which exactly tallies with that of his lordship’s executors; for he says, as before quoted—“The upshot of this letter appears to be, to obtain my sanction to the publication of a volume about Mr. Dallas and myself, which I shall not allow.” Will any body, after reading this, believe, that lord Byron gave his letters to his mother to Mr. Dallas, to be published? When he here says, that he will not give his sanction to the publication of that identical posthumous volume, which Mr. Dallas told him was then “made up,” and which, or a great part of which, was the one afterwards stopped by his lordship’s executors.

Little did Mr. R. C. Dallas, or his reverend son, think, that this letter, with their injured benefactor’s simple and unanswerable commentary, would rise up in judgment against them. They publish, therefore, just so much of it as they think may serve their object; they go so far as to introduce it into a Chancery affidavit; but here is the original to confound their purpose, and to show forth a portrait of ingratitude, such as has seldom, if ever, been presented to the world.

Who that reads Mr. R. C. Dallas’s letter to lord Byron, but would think that his lordship had been guilty of some atrocious offence towards Mr. Dallas. But we ask—what was the offence? None—none whatever—we speak from a perfect knowledge of the intercourse between the parties, and defy the whole world to disprove the truth of lord Byron’s averment, when he says, as above quoted—“I never injured Mr. R. C. Dallas; but did him all the good I could, and I am quite unconscious and ignorant of what he means by reproaching me with ungenerous treatment.” We repeat, lord Byron was never guilty of any offence towards Mr. Dallas, on the contrary, he “did him all the good he could;” yet see how his generous kindness has been rewarded—by a defamatory biography, drawn up by the very object of his benefaction—in which himself and his nearest relations, and his dearest friends, are held up to public detestation; and that, too, under the pretext of serving the cause of religion and morality. We think ourselves fortunate in having it in our power to display these persons in their proper colours, and we congratulate all those Englishmen, who feel a pride in the genius of Byron, that the first formal attack that has been made upon his fame and character, has proceeded from antagonists, who, in attempting to ruin his reputation, have only shown themselves to have been tarnished with vices, perhaps the most degrading, and in many points of view, the most pernicious of
and Medwin’s Conversations.17
any that afflict the human race. It is an old observation, but cannot be too often repeated, that in proportion as we hold sacred all the duties enforced by sincere religious conviction, sound morality, and a real attachment to the just laws by which society is held together and made happy, so we are in the same degree indignant at those who would make a trade of their pretensions to the exclusive possession of moral and political integrity.
These persons, whose work, or rather, whose conduct we are reviewing, have tried all the common topics by which they think they may enlist the sympathy of their readers in their favour, to the prejudice of their illustrious benefactor. They have bandied about the clap-trap terms of atheism, scepticism, irreligion, immorality, &c. but the good sense, nay more, the generosity, the humanity, and the true Christian spirit of their fellow-countrymen, will reject such an unworthy fellowship. They may weep over the failings of Byron; but they will cast from them, with scorn and reprobation, detractors, whose censure bears on the face of it, the unquestionable marks of envy, malice, and. all uncharitableness. Can anything be more unpardonable, anything more unfair, for instance, than for the editor of this volume (the clergyman) to take for granted, that the Conversations of Medwin are authentic, though he himself has given an example of two gross mis-statements in them, which would alone throw a doubt over their authenticity; and upon that supposition to charge lord Byron with being sunk to the lowest depths of degradation? What are we to say to this person who, at the same time that he assumes the general truth of the Conversations, makes an exception against that part of them, which represents lord Byron’s dislike of the anti-religious opinions of Mr. Shelley? We ask again, what are we to say to the clergyman, who in referring to the dying declaration of lord Byron, when he said, “I am not afraid of dying—I am more fit to die than people think,” comments upon it in these words:—

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

‘So also that solitary reference to a preparation for death, when death stood visibly by his bedside ready to receive him, which is related by his servant, and upon, which I have known a charitable hope to be hung, amounts to just as much—an assertion”—p. 336.

Whether this passage is intended to throw a doubt over the statement altogether, or to do away with “the charitable hope” entertained by others, we defy all our, readers to produce a similar instance of malevolent bigotry. This is betraying the “odium theologicum” with a vengeance. The Reverend editor will believe anything bad of his father’s benefactor—he
18Dallas’s Recollections,
will not believe anything good of him. When adverting to some mis-statements contained in the
Conversations, he does not throw a doubt over the correctness or character of the reporter: he does just say “if they be true,” but he continues to argue as if they were true, and he adduces those mis-statements as a proof that lord Byron had, amongst other lamentable changes, experienced also a loss of memory; and in another place, [p. 333] he supports his charge against lord Byron’s character, by saying, “witness the fact of his being capable of detailing such a course of life in familiar conversation to me, almost a stranger.” It is not a fact, and Mr. A. Dallas might have known it was not a fact, but it answered his purpose to assume it as a fact, and to bring it forward as a witness to the truth of his slander—Dallas as an accuser, supported by Medwin as a witness! Need the friends of lord Byron fear that the reputation of this illustrious man should suffer by such an attack?

We have as yet only noticed that part of the editor Dallas’s charge against lord Byron, which he seems to have made by virtue of his clerical functions; namely, against his lordship’s imputed irreligion: but he is not contented with asserting that lord Byron had lost all spiritual virtues, this he thinks might injure him only with one class of readers, he proceeds therefore to do his utmost to ruin lord Byron with all the remaining portion of society, by declaring roundly that his lordship had “consented to forego his title, to be called a man of honour and a gentleman” [p. 334]. This is said by the “man of honour,” whose duplicity we have already exposed, by the contrast of his own counter-statements! This is said by the “gentleman” who does all but accuse the sister of his father’s benefactor of swearing falsely, and adds other cruel insinuations against that lady and other persons, which he knows he may utter with impunity. If any of our readers should refer to the worthless book we are reviewing, they will perceive that this imputation against lord Byron is, as well as the others before noticed, founded on the assumption that Medwin’s Conversations were really uttered by lord Byron, and uttered “without any injunctions to secrecy;” although, as we before observed, no man of the slightest decency, honour, or regard for the common rules even of controversy, would have been bold enough, not to say base enough, to take the authenticity of those Conversations at once for granted, and that too in spite of inherent evidence, noticed by the writer himself, of their want of truth.

We have to apologize to our readers for attracting their attention to the publication of Mr. Dallas and his son, whom we have dealt with rather as unworthy men, than as wretched authors.
and Medwin’s Conversations.19
As, however, some persons may be curious to know what qualifications, what knowledge of the writings of
lord Byron, Mr. Dallas the elder could boast of, when he sat down to develop the character, and appreciate the genius of this great poet, we will turn to page 34 of the Recollections, where we find it written,

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

“It is not difficult to observe he workings of lord Byron’s mind, in another alteration which he made (in his English Bards, &c.). In the part where he speaks of Bowles, he makes a reference to Pope’s deformity of person. The passage was originally printed in the country thus;”

Then follow the lines.

‘He afterwards altered the whole of this passage except the two first lines, and in its place appeared the following—

After giving the lines, Mr. Dallas adds

“I have very little doubt that the alteration of the whole of this passage was occasioned by the reference to Pope’s personal deformity, which lord Byron had made in it.”

And then Mr. Dallas goes on to remark very sagely upon lord Byron’s susceptibility upon the subject of personal deformity, concluding thus:

R. C. Dallas, Recollections of Byron

‘This temporary cessation of a very acute susceptibility is a phenomenon of the human mind, for which it is difficult to account unless perhaps it be, that the thoughts are sometimes carried into a train, where, though they cross these tender cords, the mind is so occupied as not to leave room for the jealous feeling which they would otherwise excite. Thus, lord Byron, in the ardour of composition, had not time to admit the ideas which, in a less-excited, moment, would rapidly have risen in connexion with the thought of Pope’s deformity of person; and the greater vanity of talent superseded the lesser vanity of person, and produced the same effect of deadening his susceptibility, in the conversation to which I allude”—p. 38.

If the author of “Aubrey” had but read, or had not forgotten lord Byron’s preface to the second edition of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, he would have spared us all this fine writing, for that preface explains that “phenomenon of the human mind, for which it is difficult to account,” and which this poor writer has accounted for so profoundly. That preface tells us, “In the first edition of this satire, published anonymously fourteen lines on the subject of Bowles’s Pope, were written and inserted at the request of an ingenious friend of mine, who has now in the press a volume of poetry. In the present edition they are erased and some of my own substituted in their stead; my only reason for this being—that which I conceive would
20Dallas’s Recollections,
operate with any other person in the same manner—a determination not to publish with my name, any production which was not entirely and exclusively my own composition”—p. vi.

After the above specimen of the fitness of Mr. R. C. Dallas for doing what the editor, in the title-page of the Recollections, calls “detailing the progress of lord Byron’s literary career,” we ask, do our readers wish to hear any more of this metaphysical expounder of the phenomena of the human mind? We believe not: and we fancy that this single instance of ignorance and absurdity will show his character as an author to be exactly on a par with his credit as a man.

Leigh Hunt, Byron & his Contemporaries

On Mr. Medwin’s work we shall content ourselves with making just such a comment as may satisfy the world that we were not speaking at random when we expressed our disbelief in the authenticity of the Conversations which Mr. Alexander Dallas has made the basis of his charge against his father’s benefactor. We flatter ourselves we shall “do the state some service” in showing how worthy a coadjutor this Mr. Alexander Dallas has called to his aid, for the purpose of blackening the character of lord Byron. This service we shall perform by simply contrasting what we know, and what we pledge ourselves to the public we know, to be facts, with the assertions contained in the Conversations.

As Mr. Medwin has been a dragoon, and as, moreover, he has recently sent a letter to England of a very warlike complexion, we suppose we must content ourselves with saying that he has misheard, not misrepresented, lord Byron. Certain however, it is, that the Conversations, such as they now appear, never could have been uttered by his lordship; who, amongst his other noble qualities, was distinguished for a scrupulous regard, even in trifles, to truth.

To begin then with the beginning—

Mr. Medwin’s Title-page.
The Fact.
‘Conversations of Lord Byron, noted during a residence with his lordship at Pisa, in the years 1821, and 1822.’ Mr. Medwin never resided with lord Byron at Pisa, or any where else. He came to Pisa, in November, 1821; he left Pisa in March, 1822; he returned to Pisa the 18th of August, 1822, and left that place on the 28th of August. During these periods he occasionally dined and rode out with his lordship.
and Medwin’s Conversations. 21
Mr. Medwin makes Lord Byron
The Fact.
‘I knew very few of the Genevese. Hentsch was very civil to me; and I have a great respect for Sismondi. I was forced to return the civilities of one of their professors, by asking him, and an old gentleman, a friend of Gray’s, to dine with me. I had gone out to sail early in the morning, and the wind prevented me from returning in time for dinner. I understand that I offended them mortally’—p. 15. The invitation to the Genevese professor did not come from lord Byron; it was an imprudent liberty taken by his domestic physician, and lord Byron was not detained from the dinner-table by the wind. He staid away on purpose, saying to the doctor, “as you asked these guests yourself, you may entertain them yourself.”
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron
‘What is become of my boatmen and boat? I suppose she was rotten; she was never worth much. When I went the tour of the lake in her with Shelley and Hobhouse she was nearly wrecked, &c.’—pp. 15, 16.

Lord Byron had no boatmen. Mr. Hobhouse did not arrive at Diodati until after the tour alluded to.
Mr. Medwin in his own person
‘He always has pistols in his holster, and eight or ten pair, by the first makers in London, carried by his courier’—p. 17.

The first part of the statement is true—the second untrue—a courier carry eight or ten pair of pistols!! This courier did occasionally carry one pair of pistols.
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron
‘I have been concerned,’ said he, ‘in many duels, as second; but only in two as principal; one was with Hobhouse, before I became intimate with him’—p. 18.

Lord Byron was never concerned in a duel in his life, either as second or principal. He was once rather near fighting a duel—and that was with an officer of the staff of general Oakes, at Malta.
Mr. Medwin makes Lord Byron
‘His description of the Georgione, in the Manfrini palace, at

Lord Byron could not mean represent the countess Guiccioli by
22 Dallas’s Recollections,
The Fact.
Venice, is meant for the Countess’—p. 24. his description of the female in the celebrated picture by Giorgione—for he had never seer the countess when he wrote the description. It may be a well to mention that the picture contains more than one portrait, which the Conversation-writer does not seem to have known, as also that the description is meant for the female portrait itself.
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
‘“We will put out of the question,” said he “cavalier serventecism”’—p. 28.

A long speech on the subject of madame Guiccioli, and on the politics of Ravenna, is put into lord Byron’s mouth, the authenticity of which may be judged of by the following lists of misstatements, which lord Byron never could have made.
‘He was sixty, and she sixteen’—p. 30. The countess Guiccioli was in her twentieth year.
‘From the first they had separate apartments, and she always used to call him, Sir’—p. 30. They had not separate apartments, and she never called her husband, Sir, but Alexander, his christian name.
‘All this was not agreeable, and at length I was forced to smuggle her out of Ravenna’—p. 42. This is not the case; the countess openly followed her father, count Gamba, fifteen days after his banishment, to Florence.
Lord Byron speaks in Mr. Medwin’s book.
‘But to return to the Guiccioli.—The old count did not object to her availing herself of the privileges of the country; an Italian would have reconciled him: indeed, for some time he winked at our intimacy, but at length made an exception against me as a foreigner, a heretic, an Englishman, and what was worse than all, a liberal’—pp. 31, 32.

The count Guiccioli was strongly and notoriously attached to the liberals himself.
and Medwin’s Conversations. 23
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
The Fact.
‘Shortly after the plot was discovered, I received several anonymous letters, advising me to discontinue my forest rides’—p. 37. Lord Byron did not. receive any anonymous letter on this occasion; a placard was posted on the walls near his house, in which he was mentioned as protector of the Carbonari.
‘I had a magazine of 100 stand of arms in the house’—p. 36. Lord Byron had five or six carbines or muskets, and five or six pair of pistols, ready for his travelling service.
‘They were exiled, and their possessions confiscated’—p. 37. The writer speaks of the counts Gamba—their possessions were not confiscated.
‘If they could have got sufficient proof they would have arrested me; but no one betrayed me’—p. 38. The papal government never evinced such an intention. Cardinal Consalvi was always extremely well-disposed towards lord Byron.
‘An event occurred at this time, at Ravenna, that made a deep impression on me. I alluded to it in Don Juan. The military commandant of the place, who, though suspected of being secretly a carbonaro, was too powerful a man to be arrested, was assassinated opposite to my palace: a spot, perhaps, selected by choice for the commission of the crime. The measures which were adopted to screen the murderer, proved the assassination to have taken place by order of the police.’
‘I had my foot in the stirrup at my usual hour of exercise, when my horse started at the report. of a gun—on looking up, I perceived a man throw down a carbine, and run away at full speed, and another stretched upon the pavement a few yards from me.’
It did not occur at this time; it happened five months before.

He was a persecutor of the carbonari, and it was suspected that he was killed by a carbonaro.

The commandant was at the head of the police, and directed the police against the Carbonari.
The whole of what is put into lord Byron’s mouth, as to lord Byron, is a romance—the truth is as follows:
It was eight o’clock in the evening—lord Byron was going into his bed-room to change his neck-cloth, in order to walk to an evening conversazione, accompanied by his servant, Battista Faisieri. He heard a musket shot, and he sent Battista to inquire the cause.
24 Dallas’s Recollections,
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
The Fact.
Battista went, and reported that the commandant had been killed at a little distance from the house. Lord Byron then went into the street himself, and ordered the wounded man to be carried into his house. Accordingly, Battista carried him on his shoulders, and laid him on the bed of lord Byron’s valet. No one was seen to run away, but Battista found a carbine, yet warm, on the ground. Lord Byron detailed the circumstances, at the time, in a letter to his friends in England; and since the appearance of the pretended Conversations, those who were present at the scene have been questioned, and have furnished the above facts. It may be mentioned also, that in Don Juan the time of this accident is mentioned as being “eight” in the evening.
‘“I am sorry,” said he, “not to have a copy of my memoirs to shew you—I gave them to Moore, or rather to Moore’s little boy, at Venice. I remember saying, here are 2000l. for you, my young friend”’—p. 40. Mr. Moore had no little boy with him at Venice. Lord Byron never said, here are 20001. for you my young friend—he never did fix any price which his MSS. might be likely to procure.
Mr. Moore did make an observation to lord Byron upon receiving the Memoirs, which gave rise to the story that has accordingly been made part of the Conversations.
After such a mis-statement of lord Byron’s words on the delivery of the MSS. to Mr Moore’s little boy, to quote any other part of the fabrication respecting these Memoirs would give it unmerited importance.
‘After the ordeal was over, we set off for a country seat of Sir Ralph’s; and I was surprised at the arrangements for the journey, somewhat out of humour to There was nobody in the carriage that conveyed lord and lady Byron from Seaham to Hannaby, on the day of their marriage, besides his lordship and his wife.
and Medwin’s Conversations. 25
The Fact.
find a lady’s maid stuck between me and my bride. It was rather too early to assume the husband; so I was forced to submit, but it was not with a very good grace’—pp. 47, 48.
Lord Byron in Mr. Medwin’s
‘We had a house in town, gave dinner-parties, had separate carriages, and launched into every sort of extravagance. This could not last long. My wife’s 10,000l. soon melted away,’ &c.—pp. 49, 50.

Lord and lady Byron did not give dinner-parties; they had not separate carriages; they did not launch out into any extravagance.
The whole of lady Byron’s fortune was put into settlement, and could not be melted away.
‘Imagine my astonishment to receive, immediately on her arrival in London, a few lines from her father, of a very dry and unaffectionate nature, beginning, “Sir,” and ending with saying, that his daughter should never see me again’—p. 51. It was not on lady Byron’s arrival in London that Sir R. Noel wrote the letter to lord Byron. It was on lady Byron’s arrival at Kirby-Mallory in Leicestershire, that her father wrote to lord Byron. Sir Ralph’s letter was a long letter, not a few lines, and it began, “My Lord,” not “Sir.” It was dated Feb. 2, 1816.
‘All my former friends, even my cousin, George Byron, who had been brought up with me, and whim I loved as a brother, took my wife’s part. He followed the stream when it was the strongest against me, and can never expect any thing from me. He shall never touch a sixpence of mine’—pp. 61, 62. The will, in which Captain George Byron was not bequeathed any of his cousin’s property, was made in July 1815, long before the separation of lord and lady Byron.
‘I had been shut up in a dark street in London, writing (I think he said) the Siege of Corinth’—p. 55. At the time here alluded to, lord Byron lived at No. 13, Piccadilly, looking into the Green Park. The conversation writer calls this a dark street.
Mr. Medwin makes Lord Byron
‘I was abused in the public

Lord Byron was never hissed as
26 Dallas’s Recollections,
The Fact.
prints; made the common talk of private companies; hissed as I went to the House of Lords; insulted in the streets,” &c.—p. 62. he went to the House of Lords; nor insulted in the streets.
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
‘The Examiner was the only paper that dared say a word in my defence.’
The Examiner was not the only paper that defended lord Byron. The Morning Chronicle was a zealous advocate of his lordship; and Mr. Perry, the editor, had a personal altercation with Sir R. Noel on the subject.
‘I had my wife’s portion to repay, and I was determined to add 10,0001. more of my own to it, which I did’—p. 64. This is altogether contrary to the fact, as those witnessed the deed of separation between lord and lady Byron can testify.
‘I lost my father when I was only six years of age’—p. 72. Lord Byron was born in January 1788, and his father died in August 1791; so that lord Byron was only three years old when his father died.
‘It was very different from Mrs. Malaprop’s saying, “Ah, good dear Mr. Malaprop, I never loved him till he was dead’—p. 73. Mrs. Malaprop’s words are very different; and lord Byron was singularly accurate as well as apposite in his quotations. The pretended conversation makes him neither one nor the other.
‘He ran out three fortunes, and married or ran away with three women’—p. 74. Lord Byron’s father did not run out three fortunes, nor marry or run away with three women.
‘My love for it (Scotland) however was at one time much shaken by the critique in the Edinburgh Review on the Hours of Idleness, and I transferred a portion of my dislike to the country.’
Mr. Medwin adds this note.—’He wrote about this time the Curse of Minerva, in which he seems very closely to have followed Churchill’—pp. 77, 78.
The review on the Hours of Idleness appeared in 1808-9. The Curse of Minerva was written and printed in 1812. The occasion of the poem was, the mutilation of the Parthenon, which lord Byron had himself seen, and which, but not a dislike to Scotland, gave birth to the Curse of Minerva.
and Medwin’s Conversations. 27
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
The Fact.
‘I afterwards established at the Abbey a new order. The members consisted of twelve, and I elected myself grand master, or abbot of the shill, a grand heraldic title. A set of black gowns, mine distinguished from the rest, was ordered, and from time to time when a particular hard day was expected, a chapter was held; the crane was filled with claret, and in imitation of the Goths of old, passed about to the gods of the consistory, whilst many a prime joke was cut at its expense’—pp. 88, 89. This story was told in a magazine or newspaper of the day on some slight foundation—but the details here put into lord Byron’s mouth are all untrue. Lord Byron did not establish the order, or ever call himself abbot of the skull—they were not twelve or indeed any regularly-named members of any order—some dresses were sent from a masquerade warehouse, but not black—no chapter was held or talked of—the dresses were never put on more than once or twice—and many a prime joke was not cut at the expense of the skull.
Those who knew lord Byron will detect at once the vulgarisms of the pretended conversation. The story as dressed up for sale is a fiction.
‘An order was issued at Zanina by its sanguinary Rajah, that,’ &c. —p. 119. A long circumstantial story is here told by the pretended lord Byron, which is detected at once by one word. The real lord Byron could never have talked of the Rajah of Zanina (Joannina). In Hindostan a Rajah is a prince in European Turkey a rayah is tributary subject. Those, indeed, acquainted with lord Byron’s style of conversation, would, without this silly blunder, detect the imposition at once.
‘When I was at Athens, there was an edict in force similar to that of Ali’s, except that the mode of punishment was different, it was necessary, therefore, that all love affairs should be carried on with the greatest privacy. I was very fond at that time of a Turkish girl—ay, fond of her as I have been of few women’—pp. 121, 122. This story immediately follows the other, and is got up with similar accuracy; no other contradiction is necessary than to mention, that the girl whose life lord Byron saved at Athens, was no an object of his lordship’s attachment-but of that of his lordship’s Turkish servant.
28 Dallas’s Recollections,
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
The Fact.
‘The severest fever I ever had was at Patras; I had left Fletcher at Constantinople, convalescent, but unable to move through weakness,’ &c. Lord Byron left Fletcher at Athens, and not at Constantinople.
‘My real Vampyre I gave at the end of Mazeppa, something in the same way that I told it one night at Diodati, when Monk Lewis and Shelley and his wife were present. The latter sketched on that occasion the outline of her Pygmalion story, the modern Prometheus’—p. 149. The conversation said to have been held at Diodati is fictitious.—With the exception of Mr. Lewis, no one told a tale, and Mrs. Shelley never saw the late Mr. Lewis in her life. The Preface to Frankenstein shows that that story was invented before lord Byron’s and Mr. Shelley’s tour on the Lake, and Mr. Lewis did not arrive at Diodati till some time after.
‘The Italians think the dropping of oil very unlucky. Pietro (count Gamba) dropt some the night before his exile, and that of his family, from Ravenna’—p. 152. Peter count Gamba did no such thing.
‘I will give you a specimen of some epigrams I am in the habit of sending Hobhouse, to whom I wrote on my first wedding-day,’ &c.—p. 155.
‘He [Mr. Hobhouse] was present at my marriage’—p. 416.
Mr. Hobhouse was with lord Byron on his wedding-day: his lordship could not write to him on that day. This fiction is the more unlucky, as the Conversation-writer afterwards mentions, that Mr. Hobhouse was with lord Byron on the day alluded to.
‘And another on his sending me the congratulations of the season, which ended in some foolish way like this:

‘“You may wish me returns of the season,
Let us prithee have none of the day.”’
p. 156.
Mr. Hobhouse never wrote any such letter, nor lord Byron any such answer.
‘I might have claimed all the fortune for my life, if I had chosen to have done so, but have agreed to leave the division of it to lord Lord Byron could not have claimed all lord Wentworth’s fortune for his life, at lady Noel’s death. He had before, at his se-
and Medwin’s Conversations. 29
The Fact.
Dacre and sir Francis Burdett”—p, 162. paration from lady Byron, agreed to a division of it. What was referred to sir F. Burdett and lord Dacre, was, how the property should be divided.
Mr. Medwin in his own person.
‘I afterwards had reason to think that the ode was lord Byron’s; that he was piqued at none of his own being mentioned, and after he had praised the verses so highly, could not own them’*—pp. 167, 168.

* ‘I am corroborated in this opinion lately by a lady, whose brother received them many years ago from lord Byron in his own hand-writing.
The truth has been already discovered respecting this ode on the death of sir John Moore, and those who knew lord Byron will appreciate the vulgar speculation as to the reason of his concealing his being the author of the poem.
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron
Murray published a letter I wrote to him from Venice, which might have seemed an idle display of vanity; but the object of my writing it was, to contradict what Turner had asserted, about the impossibility of crossing the Hellespont from the Abydos to the Sestos side, in consequence of the tide. One is as easy as the other; we did both’—pp. 168, 169.

Lord Byron did not do both, he only swam from the Sestos to the Abydos side.
‘We were to have undertaken this feat some time before) but put it off in consequence of the coldness of the water’—p. 170. Lord Byron and Mr. Ekenhead did undertake this feat some time before—they did not “put it off” in consequence of the coldness of the water—they gave it up in consequence of the coldness of the water, when about half over the strait.
If the Conversation-writer had read the note to lord Byron’s lines written to commemorate this exploit, he would not have frame this conversation in this way.
30 Dallas’s Recollections,
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
The Fact.
‘I remember being at Brighton many years ago, and having great difficulty in making the land—the wind blowing off the shore, and the tide setting out; crowds of people were collected on the beach to see us. Mr. —— (I think he said Hobhouse) was with me; “and,” he added, “I had great difficulty in saving him”’—pp. 170, 171. In 1808, lord Byron was swimming with the Hon. Mr. Lincoln Stanhope. Both of them were very nearly drowned; but lord Byron did not touch Mr. Stanhope; he very judiciously kept aloof, but cried out to him to keep up his spirits. The by-standers sent in some boatmen with ropes tied round them, who at last dragged lord Byron and his friend from the surf, and saved their lives.
Mr. Medwin says, in his own
“I cannot resist presenting the public with a drinking song, composed one morning, or, perhaps, evening, after one of our dinners.

“Fill the goblet again, for I never before
“Felt the glow—that now gladdens my heart to its core.”
pp. 193, 194.

It will hardly be believed, but it is true, that this drinking song, which the writer cannot resist “presenting the public with,” as being written by lord Byron one morning, or perhaps one evening, (conscientious alternative) after one of our dinners at Pisa, was presented to the public just as far back as 1809. The song is printed in a volume of miscellanies, edited by Mr. Hobhouse, to which lord Byron was a contributor, under the signature L. B. If this be not sufficient to stamp the true character of these Conversations, perhaps the next specimen may; it is, if possible, more astonishing.
‘“The leprosy of lust, I discover, too, is not mine. Thou tremblest—’tis with age, then”—which I am accused of borrowing from Otway, was taken from the Old Bailey proceedings. Some judge observed to the witness, “Thou tremblest;” “’Tis with cold, then,” was the reply.’—p. 209. Who does not know that this famous speech, which the Conversation-writer made his lord Byron say, was made in the Old Bailey—was uttered by the Mayor of Paris, on his way to the scaffold? That the real lord Byron should make so ludicrous a blunder is morally impossible.
‘“My differences with Murray are not over. When he purchased “Cain,” the two “Foscari,” and Mr. Murray has already shown that lord Byron could not have made this statement. For that Capt. Medwin did not witness the deed alluded to, and that the deed, when inspected, was found to con-
and Medwin’s Conversations. 31
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
The Fact.
‘“Sardanapalus,” he sent me a deed which you may remember witnessing. Well, after its return to England, it was discovered that it contained a clause which had been introduced without my knowledge, a clause by which I bound myself to offer Mr. Murray all my future compositions”’—p. 258. tain no such condition as that mentioned by the Conversation-writer. The publisher was more sagacious than the writer, and would not insert the passage in italics which contained a statement so easily contradicted, but he gave them to Mr. Murray on that gentleman’s application, and it is to him that the public are indebted for the detection of this fabrication.
‘My second canto of “Childe Harold” was then just published’—p. 323. The framer of the Conversations does not seem to have recollected that the first and second canto of “Childe Harold” were published together, and never appeared separately.
Mr. Medwin says, in his own
‘“Her brother accompanied him to Greece, and his remains to England.”’

Count Peter Gamba did not accompany lord Byron’s remains to England.
‘It required all lord Byron’s interest with the British envoy, as well as his own guarantee, to protect the Gambas at Genoa. But his own house ceased at length to be an asylum for them; and they were banished the Sardinian states, a month before he sailed for Leghorn’—p. 361. The Counts Gamba were never banished from the Sardinian states.
Mr. Medwin’s Lord Byron.
“I have received, said he, from my sister, a lock of Napoleon’s hair, which is of a beautiful black”—p. 361.

The lock of hair sent by Mrs. Leigh was just eight hairs, half an inch long, and all the hairs were either white or of a grisly gray.
Mr. Medwin in his own person,
‘During the time that the examination was taking place before the police, lord Byron’s house was be-

Lord Byron’s house at Pisa, on the occasion alluded to, was not beset by dragoons, nor by any sol-
32 Dallas’s Recollections,
The Fact.
set by the dragoons belonging to Signor Major Mazi’s troop, who were on the point of forcing open the doors, but they were too well guarded within to dread the attack.’ diers or police-men, and no attempt was made to force his doors.
Lord Byron, however, took his ride, as usual, two days after—p. 381. Lord Byron went out riding one day—not two days after.
‘An order was issued for them to leave the Tuscan states in four days; and on their embarkation for Genoa’—p. 382. The counts Gamba did “not embark for Genoa,” they rode to Lucca. This opportunity may be taken of stating, that count Peter Gamba, who is now in London, denies the accuracy of the statements respecting his family; and declares that lord Byron could not have uttered the conversation imputed to him on that subject.
Mr. Medwin puts in Lord Byron’s mouth,
‘“Since I have been abroad I have received many civilities from the Americans. Amongst the rest, I was acquainted with a captain of one of their frigates, lying in the Leghorn Roads, and used occasionally to dine on board the ship”’—p. 406.
Lord Byron did not “dine occasionally” on board any American ship at Leghorn—he breakfasted once on board the Constitution frigate.
‘“Since you left us,” said lord Byron, “I have seen Hobhouse for a few days,”’ &c.—p. 415.

Mr. Medwin speaking in his own
person, says,
‘“On the 28th of August I parted from lord Byron with in-
It is impossible that lord Byron should have told capt. Medwin that he had seen Mr. Hobhouse at the time alluded to; that is to say, in August. 1822. Mr. Hobhouse did not arrive at Pisa nor see lord Byron until the 15th of September, 1822, after which time capt. Medwin, according to his own statement, never saw lord Byron, for he arrived at Pisa on the 18th of August, and left it on the 28th of that month; and when Mr. Hobhouse arrived at Pisa, captain Medwin was gone. It will be in vain to say that there has been a
and Medwin’s Conversations. 33
Capt. Medwin’s Lord Byron,
The Fact.
creased regret and a sadness that looked like presentiment.”’—p. 422. slip of the pen or the press, and that for the 28th of August, should be read the 28th of September, for lord Byron quitted Pisa on the 22nd or 23rd of that month, the day after Mr. Hobhouse. So that the whole of this conversation must be a pure fiction, and must have been invented for the sake of making it appear that lord Byron was in the habit of talking confidentially with Mr. Medwin respecting his private friendships.

It has been contrived, even in the Appendix, to preserve the character of the work itself; for, in making an attempt to correct a statement in the Funeral Oration on lord Byron, the editor has shown an ignorance equal to that of the author of the Conversations. The Oration says of lord Byron—“Born in the great capital of England.” To which remark this note is appended, at p. 536 of the volume—“This translation is by a Greek at Missolonghi, from the original modern Greek gazette. No alterations have been made though a few suggest themselves, one of which is, that lord Byron was not born in London.”

Lord Byron was born in London, in Holles-street, as we have already stated.

Descending from the author to the editor, and from the editor to the publisher of this volume, we feel inclined to remonstrate with the latter respectable personage for not contriving to make a book (an art in which he ought to be an adept) without taking an entire article from the third number of our Review, equivalent in length to one-fourth of the whole Conversations. A little more invention on the part of the Conversation-seller, and a little more liberality on that of the Conversation buyer, would have rendered such an expedient unnecessary; and as we like to choose our own company, we really must protest against being forced to hunt in couples with Mr. Colburn’s authors. We trust that this is the last time we shall have to complain of such a disagreeable connexion.

In concluding our comments on the pseudo-biographers of lord Byron, we must confess that we have been obliged to adopt a mode and style of criticism extremely uncongenial to our inclinations, as well as foreign to the purpose of that species of publication which we have undertaken to conduct. It is our
34Dallas’s Recollections,
business to review the works and public conduct of our contemporaries, not to enter into investigations which require a reference to their domestic history. But when an author garbles a series of letters, or becomes in any way an inventor, rather than a narrator, of biography, he is to be dealt with rather as an informer than as a writer. This can be done only by the production of such documents as he may have suppressed, or by the citation of such facts as ought to be contrasted with his fictions. There is no other corrective for spurious biography, and if those who can, and who alone can, destroy the credibility of that pernicious species of imposture, refrain from so necessary an exposure, the character of celebrated men, as well as the happiness of their associates, will henceforth he at the mercy of any pretended historian of their private life; and the justice of the living will no longer extend its protection to the memory of the dead.

Just as we write the concluding line of this article, appears Mr. Southey’s furious epistle, which we are sorry for—because it so happens that we have been in the habit of thinking the laureate not utterly destitute of all the qualities which are requisite for civil and social life. But what excuse can we make for this letter? We have before said, that nothing can be more unpardonable than the taking Medwin’s Conversations for authentic, merely for the sake of founding on them a charge against lord Byron; with this feeling (in which we are sure every impartial man in the kingdom will sympathize with us) we need not say what we think of Mr. Southey’s conduct on this occasion. That Mr. Southey might fairly refute assertions put into the mouth of lord Byron we do not deny; but that he should make that denial the pretext for a formal and most unmeasured invective against his deceased antagonist, was not to be expected, except from a person, in whose breast the jealousy of a rival, and the rancour of a renegade, had silenced every humane and generous feeling. We did not suspect that, in spirit, Southey would ever shew himself of the hare species,
“Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard;”
and with this specimen of posthumous animosity, we will contrast the conduct and sentiments of lord Byron himself, as displayed in a circumstance with which we are personally acquainted. When lord Byron transmitted his first manuscript of
Don Juan to England, it was found that it opened with a long dedication in XII stanzas, to Bob Southey, in which the laureate was handled with no little severity. His lordship’s correspondent recommended the omission of the dedication, upon grounds which his lordship did not perhaps think were tenable; but he did consent to leave out the stanzas, when he altered his mind
and Medwin’s Conversations.35
as to putting his name to the poem, and he wrote the following direction opposite to the lines to be erased:—

As the poem is to be published anonymously, omit the dedication. I wont attack the dog in the dark; such things are for scoundrels and renegadoes like himself.

Lord Byron thought himself deeply injured by Mr. Southey, and he had otherwise an antipathy for the laureate, which he took no pains to conceal; but he stilt thought, it seems, that all modes of attack were not allowable even against this object of his aversion. In this particular Mr. Southey has certainly shown himself much less scrupulous than his lordship, and, unless we think much better of the laureate than he deserves, the time will come when he will he heartily ashamed of this pitiful insult over the ashes of the illustrious dead.