LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[John Gibson Lockhart]
Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Byron.
 (Edinburgh:  William Wright,  1821)
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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Some of Bull’s friends advised him to take gentle methods with the
young Lord; but John naturally loved rough play.—

It is impossible to express the surprise of Lord Strutt upon the
receipt of this Letter.




The following Letter is the First of a Series, to be continued occasionally. The Second Letter is addressed to Mr. Thomas Campbell. The Third to His Majesty the King. And the Fourth is also to Lord Byron.


&.c &c.

My Lord,

In a very late publication you remark, almost with the air of a discoverer, that “in fact, the great primum mobile of the present age is cant;” and then you proceed in prose, much better than, I honestly tell you, I ever thought you could have written, to illustrate this position by sundry very excellent detections of the cant of the Bowleses. Your Lordship is very right in what you say about cant, but if it really was your object to prove that it is the primum mobile in the literature of our day, why, in the world, did you take the Bowleses for your illustration? If the literature of the present age
could find a convenient organ by which to address itself to the Bowleses, its language would be τιε μοι χαι ύμιν; The fact is, that cant is the primum mobile; but the Bowleses are not among the mota over which this momentum exerts any extraordinary influence. Not even cant can set them a rolling up the hill: others are more fortunate. The true question is, whether, even in regard to these cant will not in the end prove to be a sorry primum mobile of the Sisyphon school after all? And it is in this view of the subject that I feel induced to trouble your Lordship with a few plain observations upon cant, or, as I shall call it, for the sake of sweet variety, my Lord, humbug.

I say that I shall call it so for the sake of sweet variety: chiefly so, certainly; and yet, I think, the word is per se the better and more expressive word of the two. I have my reasons for thinking so, and I shall give you them by-and-bye. But, in the mean time, I have no hesitation in avowing my suspicion that, “in fact,” the two words are not at all synonyms. I think I can see an essential difference between the thing cant and the thing humbug; but it may be
but a delusion of mine after all. I do think, however, and that is enough for our present purpose, that Cant is the more solemn, grave, steady variety; Humbug the more airy. Cant is the high German Doctor, (no allusion to the great
Immanuel Kant of Kœnigsberg) who carries the whole thing through with the same imperturbable face of stupid hypocrisy. Humbug, again, I recognise in the Merry Andrew, who grins at his elbow, and only now and then condescends to ape the gravity of your true cant. Cant eats more than humbug; humbug drinks more than cant: cant is soured through and through; humbug is a jolly devil at heart. But why use many words when a single example will make the matter as clear as moonshine? Leaving periphrasis to the Cantabs, I am of opinion, once for all, that such a man as Mr. Wilberforce is a living type of cant. Your Lordship will easily understand my meaning when I say that Lord Byron answers more exactly to my idea of the man of humbug.

Do not imagine, however, that I have either cant or humbug enough about me to attempt persuading people that you are
nothing but humbug, as
Mr. Wilberforce is nothing but cant. That would not go down either with the public or with you, or with myself: while the truth will make itself to be swallowed, if not to be relished, by all the three. But, before proceeding to the general subject, perhaps the better way may be to begin with a short sketch of what I conceive to be the true opinion entertained concerning my Lord Byron by himself, and by all other people of sense and discrimination.

I think then, in the first place, that nobody dreams of disputing your Lordship’s claims to be considered as a great and masterly poet. Few even of the most abject disciples of Humbug go so far as to hint any doubts as to that matter. There are, indeed, two or three that do and have done so; but every body laughs at them. There is, for example, a most lumbering Goth in the Literary Gazette, who has been trying to prove that you are the most extensive and the most impudent of plagiarists. In order to establish this, he proves against your Lordship about the five-hundredth part of what might be proved by any man
of the smallest learning against any one poet born since the death of
Homer; and of what any man of sense living in Homer’s time (if indeed there ever was any such person as Homer) could, I doubt not, have proved with equal success against old Homer himself. Two things, however, there are, which this Theban has proved in a most satisfactory manner indeed: and these are his own base ignorance, and his still baser envy. It is clear that your adversary has never read almost any poetry at all; for he blames your Lordship most bitterly for copying things from Scott, Wordsworth, and so forth, which any boarding-school miss that has read the Elegant Extracts could have told him had been copied by them from the English poets of the two preceding centuries—which any Eton lad, again, could have traced to Greek and Latin—and any puppy that has spent a year beyond the Alps would have taken a pleasure in showing him, over and over again, embalmed in that beautiful dialect, of whose beauty no English writer (since Gray) appears to have had the real feeling but yourself. I say nothing of the absurdity of
the whole idea. There was a man, as you know, (though our Goth does not,) who tried to persuade the world that
Sterne had stolen all his wit from Burton. One thousand and one attempts have been made of the same kind long ago, and forgotten; and here is one more which will be forgotten in due time, that is to say, in another week. So much for his ignorance: his envy, it is more difficult to understand. Your Lordship writes for the Literary World, and he writes for the Literary Gazette; and both of you are accepted. What would the man have? Is he not satisfied with his elevation? Is he already like the Macedonian, sighing for new conquests? Oh! most insatiable and irrational of appetites, thy name is ambition!

And yet this is not the only person who has questioned, in one way or in another, your Lordship’s title to be considered as a great and original poet. There are the Lakers, my Lord; aye, the whole school of Glaramara and Skiddaw and Dunmailraise, who have the vanity to be in the habit of undervaluing your poetical talents. Mr. Southey thinks you would never have
thought of going over the sea had it not been for his
Thalaba; Mr. Wordsworth is humbly of opinion that no man in the world ever thought a tree beautiful, or a mountain grand, till he announced his own wonderful perceptions. Mr. Charles Lambe thinks you would never have written Beppo had he not joked, nor Lara had he not sighed. Mr. Lloyd half suspects your Lordship has read his Nugæ Canoræ: now all these fancies are alike ridiculous, and you are well entitled to laugh as much as you please at them, and those who hold them. But there is one Laker who praises your Lordship,—and why? Because your Lordship praised him. This is Coleridge, who, on the strength of a little compliment in one of your bad notes, (for your notes are all bad,) ventured at last to open to the gaze of day the long secluded loveliness of Christabelle,—and with what effect his bookseller doth know. Poor Coleridge, however, although his pamphlet would not sell, still gloated over the puff, and he gave your Lordship, in return, a great many very reasonable good puffs in prose, both rhymed and un-rhymed, of the merits of
which your Lordship has not, I am very sorry to observe, expressed any thing like a decent sense. You may do very well to quiz Wordsworth for his vanity, and Southey for his pompousness; but what right have you to say any thing about Mr. Coleridge’s drinking? Really, my Lord, I have no scruple in saying, that I look upon that line of yours—“Coleridge is drunk,” &c. as quite personal—shamefully personal. As Coleridge never saw
Don Juan, or if he did, forgot the whole affair next morning, it is nothing in regard to him; but what can be expected from his friends? Has not any one of them (if he has any) a perfect right, after reading that line, to print and publish, if he pleases, all that all the world has heard about your Lordship’s own life and conversation? And if any one of them should do so, what would you, my Lord Byron, think of it? It is easy for you to say that you despise abuse. But this would not be abuse,—it would merely be justice. It would amount to nothing more than a detection of the operation of your Lordship’s primum mobile, which, to do your Lordship justice, is not, I believe, hum-
bug, however near it may come, in one sense, to cant.

By the Lakers, then, take them as a body, —(Wordsworth, perhaps, would suggest “take them as a soul,”)—you are abused: but I pray you not to be overmuch cast down. Let not your heart be discomfited within you, neither let it be afraid. In the Lakers’ house of scorn there are many mansions; and your Lordship can scarcely need to be informed, that you inhabit but one of them. “In fact,” to use your Lordship’s happy anti-humbug phrase, the Lakers are not understood to be much in the habit of giving good—very good words—to any one beyond their own sweet circle. Read their notes. I know this is asking a considerable favour; yet, if it were but for the sake of humbug, do read them. You will then perceive, as all that have read them already have done,—that “in fact” the Lakers would fain have us believe there are no poets in the world but themselves,—or, at least, that they (again taking them as a body) are a first without a second. Find me out, if you can, one simple, downright, direct, honest, word of commendation be-
stowed by any one of all these poets (true or soi-disants) upon any one contemporary poet who never drank tea infused with the water of Winander-mere, “mine own sweet lake.” They have all lived with
Scott, for example, and they must all know what Scott is; yet where in any of all their books do we find one single sentence of just tribute to the most original (I am sure you won’t quarrel with that epithet) if not the most exquisite genius of our age? No such thing: where can you see them—any one of them—quoting him, as they, one and all, do, usque ad nauseam, each other? No, no; you will not find Wordsworth quoting Scott, (no, not although Scott—good easy man, has often quoted Wordsworth,)—nor will you find the Poet Laureate quoting Scott, (no, not even although but for him he never would have been Poet Laureate,)—nor will you find Charles Lambe quoting Scott, (although the verses of that respectable clerk in the India House stand in about the same relation to the verses of the Northern Minstrel, in which the bleatings of a real yearling might have done to the neighings of the war-horse of Charlemagne:) nor will you
find even the
Lloyds themselves doing any such thing—for even the Lloyds are Lakers—and, as such, intolerant vanity sits, and must ever sit, like some enormous nightmare, on their bosoms. This letter is written on the anti-humbug principle: so why should the truth be concealed? The truth very shortly and very simply is, that these gentlemen have been making such a noise in their own ears, with their own penny trumpets, that they have heard little or nothing of the music over which all the world beyond Glaramara has been hanging enamoured. Ask a Laker, in private, what he thinks of Scott. I bet you Marmion to the Excursion—nay, I bet you the Antiquary—the answer will be—“Oh, very well! very well indeed! My friend, Mr. Scott,—I beg his pardon, I mean Sir Walter, is a very pleasant, and, upon my honour, I tell ye the truth, a very clever gentleman. But, as for poetry, imagination, nature,” (oh, that you could hear the Glaramara method of pronouncing such words as these!) “why I need not say what I think: for that you know is not the part of a friend.” A pause would ensue, and then the magnanimous
Laker would, without doubt, vouchsafe to read you a little bit from some MS. of his own, which he or his wife would tell you, with a knowing look, had lain in his desk ever since the era of the French revolution.

Now, this is very well in its way: and yet it is nothing to their treatment of you. In their talk, as I hear, they affect, my Lord, (for observe it is all humbug,) to consider you as a person of very ordinary talents indeed, and withal, a great reprobate; which last, if it be so, is a thing they are no judges of, and have nothing whatever to do with. In all their books and pamphlets, however, you will seek in vain for even the most distant allusion to your name: and yet, in the said books and pamphlets, they are by no means shy of quotation or of alluding to names. Their principal favourites “in fact,” (I mean in the way of allusion and quotation,) are very obscure fifth-rate persons,—Withers, for example, and other forgotten poetasters,—the whole of whose works are not worth five couplets of any one of your Lordship’s poems. In quoting from and praising such people as these, they do not injure their own cast (for
I think the forgotten dead and the neglected living may not unfairly be considered as of the same cast:) but one word of praise bestowed on you, whom the world has praised, would be a sort of acknowledgement that the world has some perceptions, and would therefore infer not a slight sarcasm against themselves. This is so plain, that there is no need for enlarging upon it; and nothing can be more manifest than that these people have acted amiss towards you.

And yet, admitting all these things, I am of opinion that you have acted still more amiss towards them. The world has neglected them, my Lord, and, if they be a little more sore and thin-skinned than is usual among men of any sense, the treatment they have met with ought really to be accepted as affording some excuse for their frailties. You and I may have a right to laugh at them in private: but what right had the Jeffreys et hoc genus omne to laugh at them in public? There can be no question the lines have not fallen to the Lakers in pleasant places. I, for my part, don’t care a farthing about being laughed at, and nobody will dispute your Lordship’s right
to say, in the words of the adage, “Homme qui rit n’est pas dangereux.” But how could poor
Wordsworth say so? and observe, I don’t use the word poor as a mere Homeric epithet,—for “in fact” the laughter of the Jeffreys kept Wordsworth poor, miserably poor for twenty years, and poor he would have continued on to this blessed day, “dwelling retired in his simplicity,” but for my good Lord of Lonsdale, and the tax-collectorship, from which the great Laker has derived the name by which he is now best known all over the Glaramara region, I mean, that of the stamp-master; and, if he be as harsh a tax-gatherer as he is a critic, certes! the great William Wordsworth must be a great bore, and curses not loud but deep must be daily echoed by
“All that ancient brotherhood of hills!”

But to return to your Lordship, (not that I am done with the stamp-master,)—all the world then agree with yourself in thinking you a great poet,—those only excepted whom the most egregious vanity bath hoodwinked, doth hoodwink, and ever will hoodwink,—and in calling you so, except those
whom the most egregious envy prompts to speak the thing that is not, and the thing that they think not. And a great poet you unquestionably are; not near so great a poet as
Milton or Spenser; but a much greater poet (and it is mere humbug to say you yourself don’t think so) than Alexander Pope. You see I don’t make the least allusion to Shakspeare, and I am sure, were you in my place, you would never dream of doing so any more than myself. It would be just as ridiculous to compare Milton to Shakspeare, as it would be to compare Pope to Shakspeare; and these the positive and the superlative being alike out of the question, what use would there be in lugging in you,—the comparative? Shakspeare stands by himself. He is not one of our race. You, Milton, and Pope, are all very clever men,—but there is not the least semblance of any thing superhuman about any one of you. But what, in the name of wonder, do you mean by this attempt of yours to persuade us that there is no difference of ranks among poets, except what depends on the difference of execution? This is not the point at all, my Lord, and
you very well know it is not. The thing does not depend upon the nature of the execution, but on the order of the conceptions of the man. Shakspeare himself, in spite of all
Schlegel’s humbug, does not at all exceed all other men’s excellence in the execution of his tragedies; and Martial does excel all other men in the execution of his epigrams. Tom Moore executes a song as well as Robert Burns—perhaps better,—but who, except a miss dying over her harpsichord, with an ensign at her back, ever dreamt of considering Tom Moore as great a poet as Burns. The “fact is,” that Tom Moore, and Martial, and Pope, (I beg his pardon, however, for putting him alongside of Mr. Moore,) are not poets of the highest cast, because they have not conceptions of the highest cast,—and that Burns and Byron are, because they have. This, therefore, is a piece of utter humbug on your part: and I give you no credit for it, because it is a piece of humbug that every body will see through, just as well as myself. You might just as well have tried to persuade us that Gerard Douw was as great a painter as Titian or Salvator Rosa, because
he painted Dutch doctors examining urinals better than either of them could have done. “Est modus in rebus,” my Lord; “there is reason in roasting of eggs;” and, even in humbugging, “sunt certi denique fines.” Could not you have uttered the plain truth about the
Reverend Mr. Bowles—viz. that he is no more a poet than he is the Emperor of China,—without plaguing the poor man with all that stuff about Pope, not one of whose satires Mr. Bowles ever did or ever can understand,—and whom Mr. Bowles had just as much right to edit as you, Lord Byron, would have to edit Prideaux’s Connections, or Jeremy Taylor’sHoly Living and Dying.”

Mr. Bowles is no poet: in that, I take it, we are agreed. But he is a clergyman, and a most respectable clergyman, and so, in your letter to Mr. John Murray, you are pleased to say you consider him: and if so, permit me to ask you, what right had you to bring up against him an old story of a youthful prank, which is only so much the worse, because you have not told it at full length, and which, mark that, my Lord, you, according to your account, learned in
the confidence of a private conversation? You say that if Bowles had a right to allude to a scandalous story about
Pope and Martha Blount, you also had a right to allude to a scandalous story about the Reverend Mr. Bowles, when he was a young man at college. It appears to me, that no one can be taken in by this piece of your Lordship’s humbug, any more than by the specimen of it I have already commented on. Where did Mr. Bowles learn the story about Pope? In the MS. letters in the British Museum. Is this the same thing with hearing a story of a living gentleman told by a friend of that gentleman over a bottle of claret? No, no; it is as different a thing as possible; and its effects are as different as possible, or, what is here the same thing, may be so. What harm can either Pope’s feelings or Miss Blount’s feelings receive from any story told about them a hundred years after they have been laid in their graves? Neither of them left any children,—even Mr. Bowles does not hint that they did,—therefore what is the harm that can possibly come to any one human being from the telling of the story? But how different is the case in re-
gard to Mr. Bowles? He is alive,—though not merry, preaching excellent sermons every Sunday, and printing abominable pamphlets every year. You know very well that neither I, nor any man of common judgement, could think the worse, either of Mr. Pope or Mr. Bowles, for a hundred such stories;—but do you think there are no respectable old and young ladies in Mr. Bowles’s congregation, who may entertain, and who ought to entertain, very different views as to such matters, from such people as you and me? and can you really justify yourself to your own mind, when you think for a moment on the pain that idle and unwarrantable allusion of your’s may have occasioned to these worthy people, and through them, and on their account, if not on his own, to this excellent divine? I cannot think of this part of your Lordship’s conduct, without being quite shocked. I think it is even more abominable than your hits about poor
Sam Coleridge’s opium, and that for three sufficient reasons: First, because Coleridge won’t care about your attacking his opium; whereas Mr. Bowles must and will care about your raking up his youthful levities:
Secondly, because you might possibly have thought to do Coleridge good by making him diminish his dose; whereas, according to your own statement, Mr. Bowles has long since given up all frolics of the sort to which you allude: Thirdly, and lastly, and chiefly, because Coleridge is naturally as clever a man as your Lordship, and if he chose to give up his opium for a week, and to set about it in good earnest, (witness his “
fire, sword, and famine,”) could avenge himself abundantly, and give you, or any wicked wit in Europe, a thrashing to your heart’s content; whereas, the worthy Mr. Bowles is a man quite unable to write any thing, that either your Lordship or any man alive could care a farthing for, and can do nothing but sit, at home in his vicarage, moping and sighing, not even venturing to take his usual hand at whist with the good spinsters over the way, lest they should have heard of Lord Byron’s “awful pamphlet,” and
“Turn cold regards upon the reverend man.”
“In fact” your conduct, in this particular, can only be explained in two ways, neither
of them much to your honour. Either you have less imagination than I gave you credit for, and (being, of course, quite incapable of having your own feelings wounded by any allusions or stories of this kind) do not imagine it possible than any other person can be differently constituted; that is to say, you can imagine a Corsair or a Juan, but you cannot imagine a timid, decent, worthy, stupid, pious clergyman of the Church of England; or you have more wickedness than I suspected you of having, and knowing very well that such an allusion to such a story would give exquisite torture to Mr. Bowles, wrote and published the paragraph, for the express purpose of inflicting on him (who had done you no evil) that unjust and unnecessary pain. I am sorry for you if the first of these be the true explanation; doubly, trebly sorry, if the second be so. A man’s eyes may become stronger than they have been: a man’s imagination more extensive, but one might as well attempt to
“Create a soul beneath the ribs of death,”
as to give him a heart who, at your Lord-
ship’s time of life, has none. That is a lesson which no man can teach. For once believe what I say. I assure you this is not humbug.

After all, however, I spoke foolishly when I said there were but two possible keys to the mystery. There is a third, forgive me for not thinking of it sooner, which, if all some people say be true, may not improbably turn out to be the right one;—that is, the whole affair may be a fiction. You may never have dined in company with any friend of Mr. Bowles’s, in the way you describe; you may never have heard any scandalous story about Mr. Bowles from any man breathing; and, you may have written the whole paragraph merely as a piece of humbug. I hope this is the true explanation; for humbug is indeed a pestilence very widely spread, and you are sadly infected with it,—but it is not an incurable disease; and I flatter myself, a little touch of my probe may not be the most unlikely thing in the world to give you as well as some other of my patients, “the turn,” who shall, in due time, engage my affectionate attentions, for I cannot be ad-
ministering to every body at the same moment.

But enough of Bowles. I say he is no poet, and you are a great poet; and I go on with the entity, leaving the non-entity to those who do love it. You are a great poet, but even with your poetry you mix too much of that at present very saleable article against which I am now bestirring myself. The whole of your misanthropy, for example, is humbug. You do not hate men, “no, nor woman neither,” but you thought it would be a fine, interesting thing for a handsome young Lord to depict himself as a dark-souled, melancholy, morbid being, and you have done so, it must be admitted, with exceeding cleverness. In spite of all your pranks, (Beppo, &c. Don Juan included,) every boarding-school in the empire still contains many devout believers in the amazing misery of the black-haired, high-browed, blue-eyed, bare-throated, Lord Byron. How melancholy you look in the prints! Oh! yes, this is the true cast of face. Now, tell me, Mrs. Goddard, now tell me, Miss Price, now tell me, dear Harriet Smith, and dear, dear Mrs. Elton, do
tell me, is not this just the very look, that one would have fancied for Childe Harold? Oh! what eyes and eyebrows! Oh! what a chin!—well, after all, who knows what may have happened. One can never know the truth of such stories. Perhaps her
Ladyship was in the wrong after all.—I am sure if I had married such a man, I would have borne with all his little eccentricities—a man so evidently unhappy.—Poor Lord Byron! who can say how much he may have been to be pitied? I am sure I would; I bear with all Mr. E.’s eccentricities, and I am sure any woman of real sense would have done so to Lord Byron’s: poor Lord Byron!—well, say what they will, I shall always pity him;—do you remember these dear lines of his—
“It is that settled ceaseless gloom,
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore,
That will not look beyond the tomb,
But cannot hope for rest before.”
—Oh! beautiful! and how beautifully you repeat them! You always repeat Lord Byron’s fine passages so beautifully. What
think you of that other we were talking of on Saturday evening at Miss Bates’s?
——“Nay, smile not at my sullen brow,
Alas! I cannot smile again.”
I forget the rest;—but nobody has such a memory as Mrs. E. Don’t you think, Captain Brown has a look of Lord Byron?

How you laugh in your sleeve when you imagine to yourself (which you have done any one half-hour these seven years) such beautiful scenes as these:—they are the triumphs of humbug: but you are not a Bowles: you ought to be (as you might well afford to be) ashamed of them. You ought to put a stop to them, if you are able; and the only plan I can point out is, that of making a vow and sticking to it, as I have done, and ever, I hope, shall do, of never writing a line more except upon the anti-humbug principle. You say you admire Pope, and I believe you: well, in this respect, I should really be at a loss to suggest a better model; do you also, my Lord, “stoop to truth, and [de-]moralize your song.” Stick to Don Juan: it is the only sincere thing you have ever written;
and it will live many years after all your humbug
Harolds have ceased to be, in your own words,
“A school-girl’s tale-the wonder of an hour.”

Perhaps you will stare at this last piece of my advice: but, nevertheless, upon my honour, it is as sincere as possible. I consider Don Juan as out of all sight the best of your works; it is by far the most spirited, the most straight-forward, the most interesting, and the most poetical; and every body thinks as I do of it, although they have not the heart to say so. Old Gifford’s brow relaxed as he gloated over it; Mr. Croker chuckled; Dr. Whitaker smirked; Mr. Milman sighed; Mr. Coleridge (I mean not the madman, but the madman’s idiot nephew) took it to his bed with him. The whole band of the Quarterly were delighted; each man in his own penetralia, (I except, indeed, Mr. Southey, who read the beginning very placidly, but threw the Don behind the fire when he came to the cut at himself, in the parody on the ten commandments); but who should dare to say a word about such a thing in the Quarterly? Poor Mr. Shel-
ley cannot publish a
wicked poem which nobody ever read, or was likely to read, but the whole band were up in arms against him: one throwing in his face his having set fire to a rotten tree when he was a boy at Eton; and another, turning over the leaves of his own travelling memorandum book to discover the very date at which Mr. Shelley wrote himself “Αθεος” in a Swiss album; and the whole of these precious materials handed forthwith to———I know whom. But not so with the noble Don. Every body poring over the wicked, smiling face of Don Juan,—pirated duo-decimo competing it all over the island with furtive quarto; but the devil a word of warning in the high-spirited, most ethical, most impartial Quarterly Review. No; never a word—because—because—the wicked book contained one line ending with
—“My grand-dad’s narrative.”
—and its publisher was—no it was not—
Mr. John Murray.

Firstly. They would not speak of it at all, because it would never have done to speak of it without abusing you; and that was
the “vetitum nefas,” through which it is only real sons of the “Japeti genus” (like me) that dare run. Secondly, They could not speak of it without praising it, and that would have been doing something against themselves—it would have amounted to little less than coming in as accessories to the crime of lese majesté against the
liege Lord of the Quarterly Reviewers, and of all other reviewers who print their Reviews—Humbug.—But even this is nothing to the story that is told (God knows with what truth!) of Blackwood—I mean the man Blackwood, not the thing Blackwood,—the bibliopole, not the magazine. This worthy bibliopole, it is said, actually refused to have Don Juan seen in his shop; “procul, procul, esto profane,” was the language of the indignant Master William Blackwood to the intrusive Don Juan. Now, had Lord Byron, (forgive the supposition,) had Lord Byron sent Don Juan, with five hundred thousand million times more of the devil about him than he really has exhibited, to that well-known character Christopher North, Esq. with a request to have the Don inserted in his Magazine,—lives there
that being with wit enough to keep him from putrefying, who doubts the great Kit would have smiled a sweet smile, and desired the right honourable guest to ascend into the most honourable place of his upper chamber of immortality? This is clear enough; and then came the redoubted Magazine itself,—(why, by the way, have you delayed so long publishing that
letter upon it which many have seen, and of which all have heard?)—what could it do? could it refuse to row in the wake of the admiral? could the clay rebel against, the potter? No, no; a set of obsequious moralists meet in a tavern, and after being thoroughly maddened with tobacco smoke and whiskey punch, they cry out—“Well, then, so be it; have at Don Juan.” Upon a table all round in a roar of blasphemy, and by men hot from ——’s, and breathing nothing but pollution, furious paragraph after furious paragraph is written against a book of which the whole knot would have been happy to club their brains to write one stanza,—a book which they had all got by heart ere they set about reviewing it, and which thousands will get by heart after
all the reviews they ever wrote shall have stink into the “melodious wave” of the same Lake, where now slumber gently side by side, the fallen and fettered angel of the “
Isle of Palms,” and the thrice rueful ghost of the late “much and justly regretted” Dr. Peter Morris.

From the pure “Quarterly,” and its disowned, if not discarded, Cloaca, the leap is not “Wilsonian” to the “Edinburgh.” Don Juan was not reviewed there neither; but Little’s poems were; “aye, there’s the rub.” It was very right to rebuke Tom Moore for his filth; but what was his filth to the filth of Don Juan? Why, not much more than his poetry was (and is) to the poetry of Don Juan. This, indeed, was straining at the shrimp, and swallowing the lobster: and what was the reason for it? Your Lordship knows very well it is to be found in a certain wicked page of a certain wicked little book of yours called “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,”—the suppression of which, by the way, is another egregious piece of humbug on the part of your Lordship. Had you never written that little book, (I wish you would write a better
on the same subject—now that you are a man)—
Mr. Francis Jeffrey, that grave doctor of morality, would have flourished his thong and laid on with all his might, and Don Juan would have scratched his back, for be would have thought a flea had skipped within his linens. The thong was not flourished, the healing stripe was withheld, and the Don slumbered undisturbed. The Review, however, has really ventured to allude to him since; yes, in an article on some verses of Mr. Procter, commonly called (Euphoniæ causâ) by the romantic and soul-melting name of Barry Cornwall, among many other excellent things there is a timely and confortable remark that the style of the said Mr. Procter does not bear so much resemblance to that of Don Juan as it does to that of Parasina. It would have been just as proper to inform the world that the parlour in which Mr. Procter writes (I have no doubt it is very neatly papered and contains some good prints) does not bear so much resemblance to Westminster Abbey as it does to the Parthenon of Athens: or that Mr. Procter himself, (if he were turned into stone and stuck up upon a pe-
destal) would bear more resemblance to the Antinous than to the Farnese Hercules; or that Mr. Francis Jeffrey, were he to go upon the stage, would do better in the part of Jack the Giant-killer than in that of the Giant.

Enough, however, for the present, of these gentlemen: for their hour is not yet come, and I meant no more than to give them a jog in passing. For the most part, I believe you were treated much in the same style by the other Reviewers. Many, indeed, took some notice of the Don: and among the rest “my grandmother” was not silent. The good woman could have pardoned your obscenity. I have even my suspicions that she would have overlooked your blasphemy; but she could not away—no, not for her life—with your abominable insinuation, that you had tipped her a bribe. She could, in her own pure conscience, despise it, but she could not permit the thing to remain uncontradicted, for fear of the effect it might produce on her “friends and the public.” Now, the old dame’s friends, if she had any, could not possibly know any thing of Don Juan; and the public
had never heard of her till you mentioned her, which I must own you did in a somewhat unfilial fashion. For shame, young man; I wonder you were not afraid of a prosecution. What would you have said had my grandmother decked herself in her Sunday attire, and taken her staff in her hand (
Shakspeare says, “there is no staff more reverend than one tipped with horn”) and so gone up to the Mansion House with a proper formal affidavit? What a condition would this have reduced you to? Could you ever have held up your head after it? What would the world have said? I will tell you, if you can’t guess. The world would have looked on smiling, and said, “Lord, what a pother! Cant versus Humbug! When will people learn sense enough to keep their differences to themselves?” But, in sadness, I think your behaviour, in this particular, was rather cruel. It is well known you broke my grandmother’s old heart by your wicked joke. She never was herself again from that moment. She mumbled something about green fields, and chewed the sheet—and I felt her and she was cold—cold downwards—and poor old
granny gave up the ghost—and “dust to dust” was the word.

But now she is gone, I am not without hopes you may begin to remember her good advices, and perhaps, “take a thought and mend.” If Barry Cornwall were in your place, I am sure he would feel very tender-hearted. He would weep, as Speed expresses himself, “like a young wench that has buried her grandam.”

I will not insult Don Juan by saying that its style is not like that of Signior Penseroso di Cornuaglia; in truth, I think the great charm of its style is, that it is not much like the style of any other poem in the world. It is utter humbug to say, that it is borrowed from the style of the Italian weavers of merry rima ottava; their merriment is nothing, because they have nothing but their merriment; yours is every thing, because it is delightfully intermingled with and contrasted by all manner of serious things—murder and lust included. It is also mere humbug to accuse you of having plagiarized it from Mr. Frere’s pretty and graceful little Whistlecrafts. The measure to be sure is the same, but then the mea-
sure is as old as the hills. But the spirit of the two poets is as different as can be. Mr. Frere writes elegantly, playfully, very like a gentleman, and a scholar, and a respectable man, and his poems never sold, nor ever will sell. Your Don Juan again, is written strongly, lasciviously, fiercely, laughingly—every body sees in a moment, that nobody could have written it but a man of the first order both in genius and in dissipation;—a real master of all his tools—a profligate, pernicious, irresistible, charming Devil—and, accordingly, the Don sells, and will sell to the end of time, whether our good friend
Mr. John Murray honours it with his imprimatur or doth not so honour it. I will mention a book, however, from which I do think you have taken a great many hints—nay, a great many pretty full sketches for your Juan. It is one which (with a few more) one never sees mentioned in reviews, because it is a book written on the anti-humbug principle. It is—you know it excellently well—it is no other than Faublas, a book which contains as much good fun as Gil Blas, or Moliere—as much good luscious description as the
Heloise; as much fancy and imagination as all the Comedies in the English language put together—and less humbug than any one given romance that has been written since Don Quixote—a book which is to be found on the tables of Roués, and in the desks of divines and under the pillows of spinsters—a book, in a word, which is read universally—I wish I could add,—in the original. Your fine Spanish lady, with her black hair lying on the pillow, and the curly-headed little Juan couched under the coverlid,—she is taken—every inch of her—from the Marquise de B——; your Greek girl (sweet creature!) is La petite Contese, but she is the better, because of her wanting even the semblance of being married. You have also taken some warm touches from Peregrine Proteus, and if you read Peregrine over again you will find there is still more well worth the taking.

But all this has nothing to do with the charming style of Don Juan, which is entirely and inimitably your own—the sweet, fiery, rapid, easy—beautifully easy, anti-humbug style of Don Juan. Ten stanzas of it are worth all your Manfred—and yet
your Manfred is a noble poem too in its way; and
Meinherr von Goëthe has exhibited no more palpable symptom of dotage than in his attempt to persuade his “lesende publicum” that you stole it from his Faustus; for it is, as I have said, a noble and an original poem, and not in the least like either Don Juan or Faust, and quite inferior to both of them. I had really no idea what a very clever fellow you were till I read Don Juan. In my humble opinion, there is very little in the literature of the present day that will really stand the test of half a century, except the Scotch novels of Sir Walter Scott and Don Juan. They will do so because they are written with perfect facility and nature—because their materials are all drawn from nature—in other words, because they are neither made up of cant, like Wordsworth and Shelley, nor of humbug like Childe Harold and the City of the Plague, nor of Brunswick Mum, like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, nor of milk and water like Mr. Barry Cornwall.

The truth is, that the Baron and the Baronet stand quite by themselves: all the rest of the literati are little better than ca-
naille compared to you. You are good friends, I am told, and I have no doubt you will continue so to the end of the chapter;—first, because you never can be rivals; and, secondly, because if you were rivals to-morrow, you are both men of the world and men of sense. Your ages are very different; yet, talking of you as authors go, you may both be said to be still young men. Some years ago there was a good deal of humbug about the Baronet’s productions, and now I see scarcely a trace of it; and a few years hence, I don’t know what should prevent you from exhibiting a reformation quite as complete. If you mean to do so, it must be by adhering to the key of
Don Juan; and, if he means not to relapse, his plan is to stick to the key of Guy Mannering. Take my advice, both of you, and “know when you are well.” Sir Walter has Scotland all to himself; and as for exhausting that or any other field of true nature—he and you are both quite aware that it is humbug to speak of it. War, love, life, death, mirth, sorrow, imagination, observation—who beyond the calibre of “my grandmother” ever
thought or spoke of exhausting these things? And as for rivals in his field—who are they I pray you, or who are they ever likely to be?
Mr. James Hogg, who represents haughty kings as stupid lairds, and lairds as drunken ploughmen, and ladies like haycock-wenches,—who turns Dundee into a highland sergeant—and highland sergeants into covenanters. No, no, Blackwood’s Brownie will never do, nor Mr. Allan Cuningham, whose mouth is so full of butter that it has no room for bread. These are both of them clever fellows, indeed, and either of them worth all the Clares that ever trod upon hobnails: but Scottish poetry numbers just three true geniuses, (and it is enough in all conscience,) and their names are Dunbar, Burns, Scott,—and they are all of them enemies to humbug, at least I would have said so without hesitation, but for the sickening remembrance of the Ayrshire Ploughman’s Sentimental Letters, which, upon my honour, I think are as nauseous as any thing even in Southey’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo, or your own imitations of Ossian, or in Macpherson himself. As for “Marriage,” that is indeed
a much superior book to any that Hogg or Cuningham, or any of that sort will ever write—but then who does not remember the
History of Triermaine? Is Mr. Brougham the only person that is to be pardoned for confessing his “Marriage” a little too late?—Scotland, therefore, is and will remain Sir Walter’s. And what, you will say, is mine? I will tell you, Lord Byron: England is yours, if you choose to make it so.—I do not, speak of the England of days past, or of the England of days to come, but of the England of the day that now is, with which, if you be not contented, you are about as difficult to please as a Buonaparte. There is nobody but yourself who has any chance of conveying to posterity a true idea of the spirit of England in the days of his Majesty George IV. Mr. Wordsworth may write fifty years about his “dalesmen;” if he paints them truly, it is very well; if untruly, it is no matter: but you know what neither Mr. Wordsworth nor any Cumberland stamp-master ever can know. You know the society of England,—you know what English gentlemen are made of, and you very well know what English ladies are made of; and, I promise you, that
knowledge is a much more precious thing, whatever you at present may think or say, than any notion you or any other Englishman ever can acquire either of Italians, or Spaniards, or Greeks. Do you really suppose, for a moment, (laying aside humbug) that you know any thing at all about either Venice or Ravenna worthy of being compared either as to extent or as to accuracy with what you know of London?—I mean of the true London, for as to the London east of Temple Bar, God knows there are enough of rhymsters, and prosers too, (whereof more anon,) who know, or ought to know, more about it than you ever can know, or ought to know; for no gentleman ought to know more of the polite Cockneys than may be learnt from reading one number of the
Examiner, nor more of the unpolite Cockneys than may be picked up from one evening of Mr. Mathews’s “At Home.”

I believe the thing will bear looking into, that nothing worth much has ever been done either in literature, or in any of the sister arts, except by taking things as they are, or representing them as they are. Compare Homer’s description of the old
savage heroes with the descriptions of the same heroes even in
Æschylus—far more with those in Sophocles, or Euripides, or Virgil, or any of all his imitators. Compare Tacitus, or Petronius, or Juvenal, with Seneca or Lucan. Compare Aristophanes with Xenophon. Compare Lucian, or Swift, or Montaigne, or Le Sage, or Cervantes, with any of their contemporaries—except the last of them, by the way, for he was the contemporary of Shakspeare, and died (odd enough!) on the same day with him, and I doubt if two such fine fellows ever died on the same day before or since. Compare Boccaccio’s novels with Petrarch’s sonnets. Compare Goëthe’s life of himself with his Sorrows of Werter. Compare Horace with Ovid, or with any body but Pope. Compare Hogarth with Sir Joshua, or Wilkie with Fuseli, or Baillie Jarvie with the goblin-groom, or Flittertigibbet, or Mrs. Mucklebacket, junior, with Mrs. Mucklebacket, senior,—or Lord Byron in the letter on the Reverend William Lisle Bowles with Lord Byron on the field of Talavera, (where your English heart burned within you, although you had humbug enough to
deny it.) Compare Lord Byron when he is describing a beautiful woman, or when he is quizzing
Southey or Sotheby with Lord Byron when he is puffing old Samuel Rogers, the banker, and pretending (what vile humbug!) to class him among the great poets of England, who has only written a very, very few lukewarm verses in his day; albeit it may be most true that he hath given a great many piping hot dinners—or still worse, perhaps, with the same Lord Byron, when he is writing down Wordsworth an ass, who, (with all his foibles,) he well knows, has put more genius (now and then) into ten lines, than all the poetical bankers in Christendom will ever be able to comprehend—and this for no earthly reason, except that he, (Lord Byron,) and the stamp-master did not take kindly to each other when they met, and that he, (Lord Byron,) knows the stamp-master is wrapped round in vanity, fold above fold, like one of Belzoni’s mummies, and that the least touch of sarcasm from one who really can be sarcastic, will probably put the stamp-master’s swaddling-bands into such a flutter, that he, the stamp-master, shan’t be able to com-
pose himself for a single “Mood of my mind” during the rest of the season. Wherever you find them in short, compare reality with vision, sincerity with insincerity, honesty with humbug,—and there you will see what I mean when I advise you to continue the
Don—on, through all his cantos, (observe I don’t mean to continue it as wickedly as it is begun, but as sincerely)—to bring the Don forthwith into England—to put him to school at Harrow, and to college at Cambridge,—to lodge him at the Clarendon, and make him see the world,—as you yourself have seen it,—and describe it as Sir Walter Scott has described Captain Clutterbuck.

I know very well what a great many very knowing people, very shrewd people, very superior, very deep-thinking “earnest” people will say, when they read what I have just written. They will say, “Here now is a fellow that thinks himself a judge of literature, and yet, it is evident, he has only an eye and a relish for one particular species of literary excellence. He enjoys what is coarse, comic, obvious to every capacity,—but he has neither heart nor soul for the
grand, the sublime, the pathetic, the truly imaginative.” You will say no such thing: you have discovered, many pages ago, that I am up to trap: and you know quite well that nobody can enjoy in a rational manner any one species of literary excellence, without being able to enjoy many kinds of it. But fine words are the very essence of humbug; and men-tailors and women-tailors are made to be taken in by them. None of these worthy people have ever read Longinus, but you and I have; and we know full well that what he considers as the true point of ambition in writing, his famous “ύψος” has nothing whatever to do with what “the fine spirits of the earth” talk about under the fine names of “the sublime,” and so forth. The sublime of
Longinus means nothing whatever but the “energetic.” Does any man, not an illustrissimus, imagine that Longinus would ever have quoted Sappho’s very strongly and voluptuously written love-song as a specimen of what the Alisons call the sublime? There is not a single shred of the true sublime either in Southey, or his imitator Milman, or in Mrs. Radcliffe, or her very poor
Maturin. There is a great deal of it in the life of Benvenuto Cellini. There is sublimity in Burke’s political pamphlets, but not a whit in his Essay on the Sublime. Wherever energetic thoughts are expressed in energetic language, there I see the sublime: and there I am sure you see it. Mr. Wordsworth, no doubt, thinks the Excursion is very sublime. Now, I could point out about half a dozen pages in it that are so, and about two hundred pages that are no more sublime than so many bedaubed paper-kites, flying over the steeple (if steeple there be) of Grassmere church. The most sublime things in all Mr. Wordsworth’s writings are, perhaps, those passages in prose, (I mean in prose which he himself acknowledges to be prose,) in which he acknowledges his feelings of wrath and scorn for the Reviewers; and, by the way, I did great injustice to the Laureate, when I charged him with the want of sublimity. His vanity is at all times quite sublime, and the best proof of this is, that it makes every one split their sides with laughing. What call be more sublime than his “exegi monumentum” at the close of all his great, lumber-
ing, unreadable botheration about
Brazil? What, under heaven, is more sublime than his grave, serious, downright panegyric upon himself for his “introduction” (as he complacently enough calls it) of hexameter verse into English literature?
——“I first adventure; follow me who list.”
I myself intend to follow him: I intend to tip him a score or two of as good hexameters as ever he filled with the blended sublimities of vanity and blasphemy ere I have done with him. They will say, here’s a man talking of vanity, and calling his own pamphlets sublime in the same breath. (By they, in that sentence, I mean what Southey calls “the Duncery,” a numerous and very fine body of men, among whom Southey himself sometimes serves as a volunteer, and in which, moreover, he greatly distinguishes—at all the costs usual with volunteers.) But I don’t mind all this—no, not the balancing of a single spondee. My pamphlet speaks the truth, and therefore my pamphlet is sublime; just as Mr. Southey rises to the sublime, when he says plump out, in plain English, that he thinks himself the greatest
genius that has arisen in Europe these two thousand years,—an opinion, indeed, which would be quite just, were Mr. Southey what he considers himself; for it is quite evident that he thinks himself Milton, and
Thucidides, and Clarendon, and Dryden, and Jeffrey, and Plato, and Tom Moore, and Burke, all in one. Were that the case, Mr. Southey himself would be sublime; at present, I see little sublimity about him, except what lies in the energetic, magnanimous, heroic, magnificence of his vanity. Horace said of himself he had erected a monument “ære perennius:” the Laureate has at least the credit of having reared one of the genuine metal itself. Heavens! what a rumpus! why does not the King knight the Laureate?

But all this is mere parenthesis. I had a great many things to say to you, and I must not be kept from saying them by Mr. Southey. One of the things I was most anxious to say was, that I wished very much (after you have finished Don Juan) you would really in good earnest turn your mind to the drama. I don’t think much of your Faliero. It is a failure. But your other
works convince me that you might write both tragedies and comedies of the very highest merit, if you chose. You ought to choose it; because you may depend upon it these are, after all, the true forms for a man that understands human nature on both sides as you do, and is able, as you are, to express in capital English whatever you do understand. You should undoubtedly become a great dramatist, and so should
Sir Walter, and I think, whatever you say, you must both have a strong hankering after the stage; although either of you, as the stage now stands, would have done very foolishly to begin the career with the stage. I say it would have been a very foolish thing to do so; and one excellent reason for what I say is, that there is no money (worth speaking of) to be had at present by writing for the stage. Now, Sir Walter has made a fortune by his books, and you will do so in good season too; and nothing can be more proper, because, if you did not, your booksellers would sell your books just as dear as they do, and pocket double as much as they do; whereas, all the world knows they have pocketed,
and are pocketing, by both of you, quite as much as is at all good for them.

Before you begin, therefore, you and the Baronet should lay your heads together to have the law of dramatic literary property altered, which there is no question could easily be accomplished between you: for every body likes and admires Sir Walter, and every body dreads and admires you; and nobody in parliament would venture to oppose a scheme, which should he known to have originated with “the illustrious twain.” You should lay your heads together on this matter, “like two girls both sewing of one flower upon one sampler,” and I am sure Canning and Plunkett, and Peel, and the Speaker, and Dicky Martin, (the only men of letters in the House of Commons,) and Grenville, and Holland, and Wellesley, (the only men of letters in the House of Lords,) would lend you all the assistance in their power. If the law of dramatic property were put on a proper footing, you and Sir Walter would write English and Scotch tragedies and comedies—and Theodore Hook and I would take pains upon our farces—and then who should
dare to speak of the theatre being an unfashionable place? Theatres would not be made to yield to routs and conversaziones then, because all the world knows that both finery and flirtation can be displayed to as much advantage in a well-cushioned box as any where else; and
Lady Castlereagh, and Lady Salisbury, and Lady Stafford, and so forth, would go into the thing with a good grace, and the Countess San Antonio, and Mrs. Thompson, and all the so-so set, would he fain to follow their example, if once it were given; and the second Mrs. Wood would be as sure a card as the first Mrs. Wood, and all the citizens, “after their kind,” would be forthcoming on the evening of the third day of the dramatic re-creation,—and the King (God bless him!) would not go once in the twelvemonth, with all his stars and trumpets, as if Serigapatam were to be taken—and nobody would stay away but Haynes, and Knowles, and Barry Cornwall, “as melancholy as a gib cat;”—and well he might, because such things as “the Mirandola” (for every thing is the with the Cockneys and the Lakers) would have no more chance
of being red-lettered into notoriety in those days, than they have of being red-lettered into fame now. It absolutely makes one sick to think of the English stage that used to be such a fine masculine place, and of its being reduced to the exhibition of such smooth-chinned heroes as these cockney Italians!—and the worst of it is, that the actors have really so much merit, that they almost can make even such creatures as these appear tolerable; the more is the shame or the pity that they are willing or obliged to take trouble about them.
Macready now, for example, is neither a Kemble nor a Kean, but he is a clever spirited fellow, with thews and sinews to his legs, and I don’t know, any good reason why he should be seen strutting up and down, torturing soul and twisting body, to make something out of nothing, when we have three or four good tragedians already in actu, as the schoolmen say, and at least two more in potentia, meaning Sir Walter and yourself.

This, I assure you, will be much better than writing certain letters, which, although you say they “never can be published,”
most, undoubtedly will, one day or other, be published, and have been written, one and all of them, for the express purpose of being published,—and which, if all tales be true, will do no great good when they are published, either to your reputation, if you be alive, or to the feelings of your friends, if you be dead. And, since I have mentioned your friends, I shall also take the liberty to say, that I think this would be much more creditable than abusing some of them,—your wife, for example, in the manner in which you have been doing. For myself, God knows, I am one of the last people in the world that would wish to set the example of interfering improperly in the private, and more particularly in the domestic affairs of any man. But, if I were to permit myself to hazard an opinion on a matter, with which, I confess, I have so very little to do, I should certainly say that I think it quite possible you were in the right in the quarrel with
Lady Byron,—nay, that I think the odds are very decidedly in favour of your having been so; and that was the opinion, I remember it very well, of by far the shrewdest person of my
acquaintance, (I need not say woman,) at the time when the story happened. But this is nothing. The world had nothing whatever to do with a quarrel between you and Lady Byron, and you were the last man that should have set about persuading the world that the world had or could have any thing to do with such a quarrel. What does a respectable English nobleman or gentleman commonly do, when his wife and he become so disagreeable to each other, that they must separate? Why did you not ask of yourself that plain question, the morning you found you and Lady Byron could not get on together any longer? I wish you had done so, and acted upon it, from my soul: for I think the whole of what you did on that unhappy occasion, was in the very worst possible taste, and that it is a great shame you have never been told so in print—I mean in a plain, sensible, anti-humbug manner, from that day to this. What did the world care whether you quarrelled with your wife or not? At least, what business had you to suppose that the world cared a single farthing about any such affair? It is surely a very good thing to be
a clever poet; but it is a much more essential thing to be a gentleman; and why, then, did you, who are both a gentleman and a nobleman, act upon this the most delicate occasion, in all probability, your life was ever to present, as if you had been neither a nobleman nor a gentleman, but some mere overweeningly conceited poet? To quarrel with your wife over night, and communicate all your quarrel to the public the next morning, in a sentimental copy of
verses! To affect utter broken-heartedness, and yet be snatching the happy occasion to make another good bargain with Mr. John Murray! To solicit the compassion of your private friends for a most lugubrious calamity, and to solicit the consolation of the public, in the shape of five shillings sterling per head,—or perhaps, I should rather say, per bottom! To pretend dismay and despair, and get up for the nonce a dear pamphlet!—O, my Lord, I have heard of mean fellows making money of their wives, (more particularly in the army of a certain noble duke,) but I never heard even of a commissary seeking to make money of his wife in a meaner manner than
this of yours! and then consider, for a moment, what beastliness it was of you to introduce her Ladyship in
Don Juan,—indeed, if I be not much mistaken, you have said things in that part of the poem, for which, were I her brother, I should be very well entitled to pull your nose,—which (don’t alarm yourself) I have not, at present, the smallest inclination or intention to do.—Just suppose, for a moment, that any other peer of the realm (bar Irish) had behaved himself as you have done, and I fear are still doing, what a letter you would have written about him! Would even Billy Bowles have had reason to envy such a person!

This is a part of your humbug, however, on the success of which I can by no means congratulate you. Your verses read very well the day they were published; but people soon began to reflect, that when a man is really afflicted by a domestic calamity, it is by no means natural for him to make the public his confidant. Nobody believed but that (for all your Werterian lamentations over the loss of your domestic happiness) you might have made up the quarrel
had you chose; for nobody doubts that a very extraordinary man must have extraordinary power, if he pleases, over a very ordinary woman. Every body whispered “humbug,” when you talked about your heart being broken, just as they did when you talked about the extreme ugliness of the poor
governess,—whom nobody had ever pretended to think ugly, and whom I, for one, and your Lordship for another, always thought (sub rosâ) a very comely and kissable sort of person,—or, as they did when you published that very pathetic stanza of your’s, beginning,
Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart.”

The object of that stanza was, of course, to humbug women and children into an idea that you were very much distressed with being separated from the sweet little Ada!—But men knew, even then, that you might have rocked her cradle to pieces had you had a mind,—and we all know now that you have been enjoying yourself very heartily for four or five years among ladies and misses of quite another kind, without ever disturbing either your dinner or your nap,
by any thoughts either about the
Right Hon. Lady Byron, or the now (I am happy to inform you) very healthy, plump, and chubby-cheeked Hon. Miss Ada Byron. This is a long letter, but when one writes to a friend abroad, a short one is mere humbug.

John Bull.

Printed by William Wright, Fleet-Street.