LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
[Thomas Love Peacock]
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
Westminster Review  Vol. 12  (January 1825)  269-304.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH



APRIL, 1830.

Art. I.—Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, with Notices of his Life. By Thomas Moore. 2 Vols. 4to. Vol. I. London. 1830. Murray.

THIS first volume takes us at some disadvantage. Respice finem is especially applicable to biography. Much of the pleasure, as well as of the utility, arising from works of this description, consists in the study of character: and in this point of view, the last act of the drama of life often throws light on the first. Few men are so ingenuous as to enable their most intimate friends to discriminate very accurately the artificial from the real in their characters: we mean by the artificial, the assumed semblance, which, on an adequate occasion, would be thrown aside as easily as a mask and domino, as easily as the character of priest was thrown aside in the French Revolution by many of the dignified persons to whom it ceased to bring revenue. Extreme cases of this artificial character are to be found in the stolidity of the elder Brutus, in the madness of Edgar, and the folly of Leon. In a minor degree, this assumption of an unreal exterior exists more or less in all men: few have been so fortunate in this world’s transactions, as never to see an old friend with a new face: it is time alone, (ό παντέλεγχος χρόνος, as Sophocles most happily says,) that shews whether the young popularity-carping senator, is a true Patriot, or a Whig, acting patriotism; whether the young soldier of a republic is, at heart, a Napoleon or a Washington. By the real in character, we mean those qualities, moral and intellectual, which remain unchanged through the entire course of “man’s maturer years;” and which the collision of events, however ad-
270Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
verse, only serves to develope and confirm. For examples of these qualities in their worst and best forms, we need look no further than, on the one hand, to the love of excitement in gamblers and drunkards, whom it conducts to ruin and the grave: and on the other, to the love of country and mankind in the characters of Washington,
Jefferson, Franklin, and their principal coadjutors in the North American Revolution.

Solon bade Croesus look to the end of life, before he could pronounce on individual happiness: it is not less necessary to do so before pronouncing a final judgment on individual character. The principal attraction of this work is the light which it has been expected to throw on the character of Lord Byron. So far, it has, to us at least, thrown little new light upon it, and much of that little by no means calculated to render any essential service to his memory.

Lord Byron was always “himself the great sublime he drew.” Whatever figures filled up the middle and back ground of his pictures, the fore-ground was invariably consecrated to his own. As somebody, on a different occasion, said of Mr. Coleridge, “he made the public his confidant:” but his confidences were only half-confidences, more calculated to stimulate than to satisfy curiosity. He gave full vent to his feelings: but he hinted, rather than communicated, the circumstances of their origin: and he mixed up in his hints shadowy self-accusations of imaginary crimes, on which, of course, the liberal public put the worst possible construction. Indeed, both in his writings and conversation he dealt, in his latter years especially, very largely in mystification; and said many things which have brought his faithful reminiscents into scrapes, by making them report, what others, knowing he could not have believed, think he never could have asserted: which are very different matters. His confidences to Captain Medwin and Mr. Leigh Hunt, were many of them of this mystificatory class. They were of that sort of confidences which are usually reposed in the butt of an Italian opera buffa; where the words “In confidenza” invariably signify, that there is not a word of truth in any thing the party is going to say. Lord Byron was early distinguished by a scrupulous regard to truth: but the attrition of the world blunts the fine edge of veracity, even in the most ingenuous dispositions: and making the most liberal allowance for misapprehension and misrepresentation, we still think it impossible to read Medwin’s and Hunt’s reminiscences, without perceiving that those two worthy gentlemen had been very egregiously mystified. Lord Byron talked to them in the same spirit in which he wrote much of his badinage in Don Juan: such for instance as the passage:
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.271
‘I’ve bribed my grandmother’s review, the British.
I sent it in a letter to the editor,
Who thanked me duly by return of post:
I’m for a handsome article his creditor, &c.’

The editor took this as a serious charge, and most pathetically implored Lord Byron, as a gentleman and a man of honour, to disavow it. He was handsomely laughed at for his pains; for nobody believed the charge, or regarded it as having been seriously made.

Mr. Moore bears testimony to Lord Byron’s disposition in this way. He says of a letter to Mr. Dallas:

‘In addition to the temptation, never easily resisted by him, of displaying his wit at the expense of his character, he was here addressing a person who, though, no doubt, well-meaning, was evidently one of those officious, self-satisfied advisers, whom it was the delight of Lord Byron at all times to astonish and mystify. The tricks which, when a boy, he played upon the Nottingham quack, Lavender, were but the first of a long series with which, through life, he amused himself, at the expense of all the numerous quacks, whom his celebrity and sociability drew around him.”—p. 135.

It must be evident that a person, who would write in this vein, would also talk in it, especially to persons whom he did not much respect. We shall not enter into the casuistry of the question, nor endeavour to decide how far this same weapon of mystification may be justifiably employed, either for the purpose of playing with self-conceited credulity, or for that of parrying or misleading impertinent curiosity. Great men have used it, and great men have justified it:
‘Quantunque il simular sia le più volte
Ripreso, e dia di mala mente indici,
Si trova pur’ in molte cose e molte
Aver fatti evidenti benefici,
E danni, e biasmi, e morti aver già tolte,
Che non conversiam sempre con gli amici,
In questa, assai più oscura, che serena,
Vita mortal, tutta d’invidia piena.’*

For ourselves, we hope we shall never adopt, we certainly shall not justify, the practice. We are for the maxim of the old British bards: “The Truth against the World.” But if there be any one case of human life, in which this practice is justifiable, it is in the case of an individual living out of society, and much talked of in it, and haunted in his retirement by varieties of the small Boswell or eavesdropping genus, who, as a very

* Ariosto: Canto IV.

272Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
little penetration must shew him, would take the first opportunity of selling his confidences to the public, if he should happen to drop any thing for which the prurient appetite of the reading rabble would present a profitable market. Some light will be thrown on this point by
Mr. Hunt’s naïve observation, that the “natural Byron” was never seen but when he was half-tipsy, and that the said Byron was particularly careful not to get tipsy in Mr. Hunt’s company. The “artificial Byron” was all mockery and despair; and allowed himself to be regularly set down, half a dozen times a day, by the repartees of Mr. Hunt, and Mrs. Hunt, and all the little Master Hunts. In short,
“Man but a rush against Othello’s breast,
And he retired.”*

* The following extracts from Mr. Hunt’s publication will substantiate what we have said in the text.

Lord Byron, who was as acute as a woman in those respects, very speedily discerned that he did not stand very high in her (Mrs. Hunt’s) good graces; and accordingly he set her down to a very humble rank in his own. As I oftener went to his part of the house, than he came to mine, he seldom saw her; and when he did, the conversation was awkward on his side, and provokingly self-possessed on her’s. He said to her one day, “What do you think, Mrs. Hunt? Trelawney has been speaking against my morals! What do you think of that?”—“It is the first time,” said Mrs. Hunt, “I ever heard of them.” This, which would have set a man of address upon his wit, completely dashed and reduced him to silence. But her greatest offence was in some thing which I had occasion to tell him. He was very bitter one day upon some friends of mine, criticising even their personal appearance, and that in no good taste. At the same time, he was affecting to be very pleasant and good-humoured, and without any “offence in the world.” All this provoked me to mortify him, and I asked if he knew what Mrs. Hunt had said one day to the Shelleys, of his picture by Harlowe? (It is the fastidious, scornful portrait of him, affectedly looking down.) He said he did not, and was curious to know. An engraving of it, I told him, was shown her, and her opinion asked; upon which she observed, that “it resembled a great school-boy, who had a plain bun given him, instead of a plum-one.” I did not add, that our friends shook with laughter at this idea of the noble original, because it was “so like him.” He looked as black as possible, and never again criticised the personal appearance of those whom I regarded. It was on accounts like these, that he talked of Mrs. Hunt as being “no great things.” Myself, because I did not take all his worldly common-places for granted, nor enter into the merits of his bad jokes on women, he represented as a “proser;” and the children, than whom I will venture to say it was impossible to have quieter or more respectable in the house, or any that came less in his way, he pronounced to be “impracticable.” But that was the reason. I very soon found that it was desirable to keep them out of his way; and although this was done in the easiest and most natural manner, and was altogether such a measure as a person of less jealousy might have regarded as a consideration for his quiet, he resented it, and could not help venting his spleen in talking of them. The worst of it was, that when they did come in his way, they were nothing daunted. They had lived in a natural, not

Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron. 273

We did not review Mr. Hunt’s publication. The Quarterly Review did it ample justice; and though that Review left unsaid some things which we should have said, and said some things

an artificial state of intercourse, and were equally sprightly, respectful, and self-possessed. My eldest boy surprised him with his address, never losing his singleness of manner, nor exhibiting pretensions of which he was too young to know any thing, yet giving him his title at due intervals, and appearing, in fact, as if he had always lived in the world instead of out of it. This put him out of his reckoning. To the second, who was more struck with his reputation, and had a vivacity of temperament that rendered such lessons dangerous, he said, one day, that he must take care how he got notions in his head about truth and sincerity, for they would hinder him getting on in the world. This, doubtless, was rather intended to vent a spleen of his own, than to modify the opinions of the child; but the peril was not the less, and I had warning given me that he could say worse things when I was not present. Thus the children became “impracticable;” and, luckily, they remained so.”—pp. 27, 28.

“It is a credit to my noble acquaintance, that he was by far the pleasantest when he had got wine in his head. The only time I invited myself to dine with him, I told him I did it on that account, and that I meant to push the bottle so, that he should intoxicate me with his good company. He said he would have a set-to; but he never did it. I believe he was afraid. It was a little before he left Italy; and there was a point in contest between us (not regarding myself) which he thought perhaps I should persuade him to give up.

“When in his cups, which was not often, nor immoderately, he was inclined to be tender; but not weakly so, nor lachrymose. I know not how it might have been with every body, but he paid me the compliment of being excited to his very best feelings; and when I rose late to go away, he would hold me down, and say with a look of entreaty, “Not yet.”

“Then it was that I seemed to talk with the proper natural Byron, as he ought to have been; and there was not a sacrifice I could not have made to keep him in that temper, and see his friends love him, as much as the world admired. Next morning it was all gone. His intimacy with the worst part of mankind, had got him again in its chilling crust; and nothing remained, but to despair and joke.”—p. 68.

“With men I have seen him hold the most childish contests for superiority; so childish, that had it been possible for him to divest himself of a sense of his pretensions and public character, they would have exhibited something of the conciliating simplicity of Goldsmith. He would then lay imaginary wagers; and in a style which you would not have looked for in high life, thrust out his chin, and give knowing, self-estimating nods of the head, half-nod and half-shake, such as boys playing at chuck-farthing give when they say, “Come, I tell you what now.” A fat dandy who came upon us at Genoa, and pretended to be younger than he was, and to wear his own hair, discomposed him for the day. He declaimed against him in so deploring a tone, and uttered the word “wig” so often, that my two eldest boys, who were in the next room, were obliged to stifle their laughter.”—p. 77

“The love of money, the pleasure of receiving it, even the gratitude he evinced when it was saved him, had not taught him the only virtue upon which lovers of money usually found their claims to a good construction: he did not like paying a debt, and would undergo pestering and pursuit to avoid it. “But what,” cries the reader, “becomes then of the stories of

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which we certainly should not have said, it would have been actum agere to go again over the same ground. We are not solicitous about the motives which influenced the Quarterly Reviewers. They had an old political enemy at a manifest moral disadvantage. The querulous egotisms, the scaturient vanity bubbling up in every page like the hundred fountains of the river Hoangho, the readiness to violate all the confidences of private life, the intrinsic nothingness of what the writer had it in his power to tell, the shallow mockeries of philosophical thinking, the quaint and silly figures of speech, the out-of-the-way notions of morals and manners, the eternal reference of everything to self, the manifest labour and effort to inflate a mass of insignificancies into the bulk of a quarto, for the sake of the liberal
bookseller, who wanted to append a given number of pages to the name of Lord Byron, the constantly recurring “Io Triumphe” over the excellent hits and clinches of the author and his family, and the obvious malus animus of the entire work; presented so many inviting prominences to the hand of castigation, that the Quarterly could for once come forth on fair ground, and flagellate an opponent without having recourse to its old art of wilful misrepresentation.

Many traces of that spirit of badinage which says things not meant or expected to be believed, and which literal interpretation would turn into something never dreamed of by the writer, occur throughout the letters in this volume. For example, Lord Byron writing from Constantinople, says to his mother:—

H. who will deliver this is bound straight for England: and as he is bursting with his travels, I shall not anticipate his narratives, but merely beg you not to believe one word he says, but reserve your ear for me, if you have any desire to be acquainted with the truth.’

No one, who reads this volume, will suppose this to be anything but jest; but we can easily conceive his reminiscents reporting it thus: “He had a very bad opinion of Mr. Hobhouse’s veracity, and emphatically cautioned me against believing a word he said.”

his making presents of money and manuscripts, and his not caring for the profits of his writings, and his giving 10,000l. to the Greeks!” He did care for the profits of what he wrote, and he reaped a great deal: but as I have observed before, he cared for celebrity still more; and his presents, such as they were, were judiciously made to that end. “Good heavens!” said a fair friend to me the other day, who knew him well, “if he had but fore seen that you would have given the world an account of him! What would he not have done to cut a figure in your eyes!”—pp. 80, 81.—From Lord Byron and some of his Contemporaries, by Leigh Hunt. Colburn, 1828.

Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron. 275

We shall not multiply instances. The volume abounds with them. We believe that Captain Medwin and Mr. Leigh Hunt were both gentlemen to take every thing literally. Lord Byron did not, in truth, admit either of them into his confidence, more than one step further, if even that, than he did the public in general: and their imperfect and flippant communications answered scarcely any purpose but to disappoint expectation.

Curiosity was never more strongly excited, nor disappointment more strongly experienced, than by the memoirs which Lord Byron left of himself, and which Mr. Moore committed to the flames. Mr. Moore calls them “the memoirs or rather memoranda, which it was thought expedient, for various reasons, to sacrifice.” [p. 655.]—These being gone beyond recovery, Mr. Moore remained, with the reputation of being the best-informed person in the kingdom on the subject of the noble poet, of having access to the most ample materials for his biography, and of being the best qualified person to put those materials together.

It turns out, however, most unluckily, that all that is best worth telling is not fit to be told. In the points about which the public were most curious, what was before mystery, is still mystery. It remains, like Bottom’s dream, in the repositories of the incommunicable.

Bottom. The eye of man hath not heard; the ear of man hath not seen; man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.’

‘Masters, I am to discourse wonders: but ask me not what; for if I tell you, I am no true Athenian. I will tell you every thing, right as it fell out.’

Quince. Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

Bottom. Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that the duke hath dined.’

And of matter about as important as the duke’s dinner, is at least one half of this goodly volume composed.

We shall now give an account of this first volume, making such remarks as suggest themselves, and reserving our general observations till the conclusion of the second.

The work begins with an account of Lord Byron’s ancestry.

“In the character of the noble poet,” says Mr. Moore, “the pride of ancestry was undoubtedly one of the most decided features.” His descent is cursorily traced from “Ralph de Burun, whose name ranks high in Dooms-day book, among the tenants of land in Nottinghamshire,” [page 1.] through Sir John Byron the Little, with the Great Beard [page 3.] who, “at the dissolution
276Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
of the monasteries, obtained, by a royal grant, the church and priory of Newstead, with the lands adjoining:”
Sir John Byron, who, in the year 1643, was created by Charles the 1st “Baron Byron of Rochdale in the county of Lancaster,” and is described as having been to the last a most faithful, persevering, and disinterested follower of the king: down to the grandfather, grand uncle and father of the poet: the first Mr., afterwards Admiral Byron, whose shipwreck and sufferings, about the year 1750, awakened, in no small degree, the attention and sympathy of the public: the second, the Lord Byron, who, in the year 1765, stood his trial before the House of Peers for killing in a duel, or rather scuffle, his relation and neighbour, Mr. Chaworth: and the third, Captain Byron, a worthless profligate, who married, first, the divorced wife of Lord Carmarthen, whom he had previously carried off from her husband; and afterwards, on her death, Miss Catharine Gordon, only child and heiress of George Gordon, esq. of Gight. The only offspring of the first marriage was the honourable Augusta Byron, now the wife of Colonel Leigh: the only offspring of the second was the subject of this memoir, who was born in Holles Street, London, on the 22nd of January 1788: by which time his mother, who had been married in 1785, was reduced from competence to a pittance of 150l. per annum; her husband having squandered the whole of her fortune. The lady was no exception to Master Silence’s axiom, that “women are shrews, both short and tall:” on the contrary, she was a virago of the first magnitude. This hopeful pair separated in 1790; and the husband died in 1791. Little Byron was left with his mother, who taught him to rage and storm; and his nurse, who taught him to repeat the psalms, and sang him to sleep with stories and legends. He read the Bible through and through, before he was eight years old. The Old Testament he read as a pleasure, the New as a task.

The malformation of his foot, occasioned by an accident at his birth, was a subject of pain, inconvenience, and mortification to him, from his earliest years.

He began his scholastic education at a cheap day-school in Aberdeen, where he made little progress. In 1796 he was removed by his mother, for the change of air, into the Highlands, where he acquired his first enthusiasm for mountain scenery: and fell in love at eight years old with a “Highland Mary” of his own. On these two points, mountain scenery and precocious love, Mr. Moore philosophizes.

In 1798, by the death of his grand uncle, he succeeded to the title and estates, the latter being much involved, and the former, consequently, a great calamity. He was now placed in
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.277
the hands of a quack, at Nottingham, named
Lavender, who tortured him grievously under pretence of curing his foot, and, during this infliction, he received lessons in Latin from a respectable schoolmaster, Mr. Rogers.

In 1799, he was removed to London, and placed under the medical care of Dr. Baillie, and in the scholastic establishment of Dr. Glennie at Dulwich, where, having been carefully untaught the little he had learned in Scotland, he started afresh and began to make way: but was much impeded by his mother having him too much at home.

In 1800, he had a second boyish passion for his young cousin Miss Parker.

In 1801, he went to Harrow, “as little prepared,” says Dr. Glennie, “as it is natural to suppose from two years of elementary instruction, thwarted by every art that could estrange the mind of youth from preceptor, from school, and from all serious study.”

At Harrow, however, he distinguished himself as an athlete, neglected his school-books, and picked up some general knowledge by reading history, philosophy, and so forth, contrary to the good order and discipline of our public establishments for eradicating the love of letters. He fought his way into the respect of his schoolfellows. A vast deal of childish matter is here narrated, very inficete and unprofitable to peruse.

In 1803, he fell in love with his cousin, Miss Chaworth. As much is supposed to hang upon this unsuccessful attachment, and as the narration will serve as a favourable specimen of the matter and manner of the work, we shall extract the entire passage, in which this event is related:—

‘We come now to an event in his life which, according to his own deliberate persuasion, exercised a lasting and paramount influence over the whole of his subsequent character and career.

‘It was in the year 1803 that his heart, already twice, as we have seen, possessed with the childish notion that it loved, conceived an attachment which,—young as he was even then for such a feeling,—sunk so deep into his mind as to give a colour to all his future life.

‘That unsuccessful loves are generally the most lasting is a truth, however sad, which unluckily did not require this instance to confirm it. To the same cause, I fear, must be traced the perfect innocence and romance which distinguish this very early attachment to Miss Chaworth from the many others that succeeded, without effacing, it in his heart;—making it the only one whose details can be entered into with safety, or whose results, however darkening their influence on himself, can be dwelt upon with a pleasurable interest by others.

‘On leaving Bath, Mrs. Byron took up her abode in lodgings, at Nottingham,—Newstead Abbey being at that time let to Lord Grey de
278Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
Ruthven—and during the Harrow vacation of this year she was joined there by her son. So attached was he to Newstead, that even to be in its neighbourhood was a delight to him; and before he became acquainted with Lord Grey, he used sometimes to sleep for a night at the small house near the gate which is still known by the name of “the Hut”* An intimacy, however, soon sprang up between him and his noble tenant, and an apartment in the Abbey was from thenceforth always at his service. To the family of
Miss Chaworth, who resided at Annesley, in the immediate neighbourhood of Newstead, he had been made known, some time before, in London, and now renewed his acquaintance with them. The young heiress herself combined with the many worldly advantages that encircled her, much personal beauty and a disposition the most amiable and attaching. Though already fully alive to her charms, it was at the period of which we are speaking, that the young poet, who was then in his sixteenth year, while the object of his adoration was about two years older, seems to have drank deepest of that fascination whose effects were to be so lasting—six short summer weeks which he now passed in her company being sufficient to lay the foundation of a feeling for all life.

‘He used at first, though offered a bed at Annesley, to return every night to Newstead to sleep; alleging as a reason, that he was afraid of the family pictures of the Chaworths,—that he fancied “they had taken a grudge to him on account of the duel, and would come down from their frames at night to haunt him.”† At length, one evening, he said gravely to Miss Chaworth and her cousin, “in going home last night I saw a bogle;” which Scotch term being wholly unintelligible to the young ladies, he explained that he had seen a ghost, and would not therefore return to Newstead that evening. From this time, he always slept at Annesley during the remainder of his visit, which was interrupted only by a short excursion to Matlock and Castleton in which he had the happiness of accompanying Miss Chaworth and her party, and of which the following interesting notice appears in one of his memorandum-books:—

‘“When I was fifteen years of age it happened that, in a cavern in Derbyshire, I had to cross in a boat (in which two people only could lie down) a stream which flows under a rock, with the rock so close upon the water as to admit the boat only to be pushed on by a ferryman (a sort of Charon), who wades at the stern, stooping all the time.

* I find this circumstance, of his having occasionally slept at the Hut, though asserted by one of the old servants, much doubted by others.

† It may possibly have been the recollection of these pictures that suggested to him the following lines in the Siege of Corinth:—

‘Like the figures on arras that gloomily glare,
Stirr’d by the breath of the wintery air,
So seen by the dying lamp’s fitful light,
Lifeless, but life-like and awful to sight;
As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down
From the shadowy wall where their images frown,’
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.279
The companion of my transit was
M. A. C., with whom I had been long in love, and never told it, though she had discovered it without.

‘“I recollect my sensations, but cannot describe them, and it is as well. We were a party, a Mr. W. two Miss W.’s, Mr. and Mrs. Cl—ke, Miss R., and my M. A. C. Alas! Why do I say My? Our union would have healed feuds in which blood had been shed by our fathers, it would have joined lands broad and rich, it would have joined at least one heart, and two persons not ill matched in years (she is two years my elder), and—and—and—what has been the result?”

‘In the dances of the evening at Matlock, Miss Chaworth, of course, joined, while her lover sat looking on, solitary and mortified. It is not impossible, indeed, that the dislike that he always expressed for this amusement may have originated in some bitter pang, felt in his youth, on seeing “the lady of his love” led out by others to the gay dance from which he was himself excluded. On the present occasion, the young heiress of Annesley having had for her partner (as often happens at Matlock) some person with whom she was wholly unacquainted; on her resuming her seat, Byron said to her pettishly, “I hope you like your friend.” The words were scarcely out of his lips, when he was accosted by an ungainly-looking Scotch lady, who rather boisterously claimed him as “cousin,” and was putting his pride to the torture with her vulgarity, when he heard the voice of his fair companion retorting archly in his ear, “I hope you like your friend.”

‘His time at Annesley was mostly passed in riding with Miss Chaworth and her cousin—sitting in idle reverie, as was his custom, pulling at his handkerchief, or in firing at a door which opens upon the terrace, and which still, I believe, bears the marks of his shots. But his chief delight was in sitting to hear Miss Chaworth play; and the pretty Welsh air, “Mary Anne” was (partly, of course, on account of the name) his especial favourite. During all this time he had the pain of knowing that the heart of her he loved was occupied by another; that as he himself expressed it,
Her sighs were not for him, to her he was
Even as a brother—but no more.

‘Neither is it, indeed, probable, had even her affections been disengaged, that lord Byron would, at this time, have been selected as the object of them. A seniority of two years gives to a girl, “on the eve of womanhood,” an advance into life, with which the boy keeps no proportionate pace. Miss Chaworth looked upon Byron as a mere schoolboy. He was in his manners, too, at that period, rough and odd, and (as I have heard from more than one quarter) by no means popular among girls of his own age. If at any moment, however, he had flattered himself with the hope of being loved by her, a circumstance mentioned in his “Memoranda,” as one of the most painful of those humiliations to which the defect in his foot had exposed him, must have let the truth in with dreadful certainty upon his heart. He either was told of, or over-heard, Miss Chaworth saying to her maid, “Do you think I could care any thing for that lame boy?”

280 Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.

‘This speech, as he himself described it, was like a shot through his heart. Though late at night when he heard it, he instantly darted out of the house, and scarcely knowing whither he ran, never stopped till he found himself at Newstead.

‘The picture which he has drawn of this youthful love, in one of the most interesting of his poems, “The Dream,” shows how genius and feeling can elevate the realities of life, and give to the commonest events and objects an undying lustre. The old hall at Annesley, under the name of “the antique oratory,” will long call up to fancy, the “maiden and the youth” who once stood in it; while the image of the lover’s steed, though suggested by the unromantic race-ground of Nottingham, will not the less conduce to the general charm of the scene, and shed a portion of that light which only genius could shed over it.

‘He appears already at this boyish age to have been so far a proficient in gallantry as to know the use that may be made of the trophies of former triumphs in achieving new ones; for he used to boast, with much pride, to Miss Chaworth, of a locket which some fair favourite had given him, and which, probably, may have been a present from that pretty cousin, of whom he speaks with such warmth in one of the notices already quoted. He was also, it appears, not a little aware of his own beauty, which, notwithstanding the tendency to corpulence derived from his mother, gave promise at this time, of that peculiar expression into which his features refined and kindled afterwards.

‘With the summer holidays ended this dream of his youth. He saw Miss Chaworth once more in the succeeding year, and took his last farewell of her (as he himself used to relate) on that hill near Annesley,* which, in his poem of “The Dream,” he describes so happily as “crowned with a peculiar diadem.” No one, he declared, could have told how much he felt, for his countenance was calm, and his feelings restrained. “The next time I see you,” said he, in parting with her, “I suppose you will be Mrs. Chaworth,”†—and her answer was, “I hope so.” It was before this interview that he wrote, with a pencil, in a volume of “Madame de Maintenon’s Letters” belonging to her, the following verses, which have never, I believe, before been published:
“Oh Memory, torture me no more,
The present’s all o’ercast;
My hopes of future bliss are o’er,
In mercy veil the past.

* ‘Among the unpublished verses of his in my possession, I find the following fragment written not long after this period:

Hills of Annesley, bleak and barren,
Where my thoughtless childhood stray’d,
How the northern tempests warring,
Howl above thy tufted shade!
Now no more, the hours beguiling,
Former favourite haunts I see;
Now no more my Mary smiling,
Makes ye seem a Heaven to me.’

† The lady’s husband, for some time, took her family name.

Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron. 281
Why bring those images to view,
I henceforth must resign?
Ah! why those happy hours renew,
That never can be mine?
Past pleasure doubles present pain,
To sorrow adds regret,
Regret and hope are both in vain,
I ask but to—forget.”

‘In the following year, 1805, Miss Chaworth was married to his successful rival, Mr. John Musters; and a person who was present when the first intelligence of the event was communicated to him, thus describes the manner in which he received it.—“I was present when he first heard of the marriage. His mother said, ‘Byron, I have some news for you.’—‘Well, what is it?’—‘Take out your handkerchief first, for you will want it.’—‘Nonsense!’—‘Take out your handkerchief, I say.’ He did so, to humour her. ‘Miss Chaworth is married.’ An expression, very peculiar, impossible to describe, passed over his pale face, and he hurried his handkerchief into his pocket, saying, with an affected air of coldness and nonchalance, ‘Is that all?’ ‘Why, I expected you would have been plunged into grief!’—He made no reply, and soon began to talk about something else.”’—pp. 53, 58.

Now that this affair gave a colour to all his future life, we do not in the slightest degree believe. It was his own mind that gave the colour to the affair. It was his disposition to aim always at unattainable things. If he had married this idol, he would very soon have drawn the same conclusion respecting her, which he drew respecting all the objects of his more successful pursuit:
‘’Tis an old lesson; Time approves it true,
And they who know it best deplore it most;
When all is won that all desire to woo,
The paltry prize is hardly worth the cost.”
Childe Harold: C. I. St. 35.
Through life he aimed at what he could not compass. He took the best substitutes which circumstances placed in his way, and consoled himself with a handmaid for the loss of a Helen: the latter being still longed for because she was inaccessible. As a Greek poet says,
Άγ΄ υς ταν βάλανον ταν μεν εχει, ταν δ΄ εραται λαβειν,
Καγω παιδα καλην ταν μεν εχω, ταν δ΄ εραμαι λαβειν.
There is nothing singular in this state of mind, nor even in a man’s deluding himself into the belief, that a single disappointment of this sort has coloured his life. The singularity is, finding another man to believe it.

282 Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.

Apropos of Lord Byron’s reading at Harrow, Mr. Moore has a side cut or two at classical literature [pp. 69, 60], which, when we remember his Epicurean, and certain observations thereon,* makes us think of the fox and the grapes.

In 1805, Lord Byron was removed to Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1806, being on a visit to his mother at Southwell, the lady’s temper exploded on some occasion, and she converted the poker and tongs into the thunderbolts of her wrath. From this Juno Tonans and her missiles he fled to London, and made it his chief care to keep himself out of her reach.

In 1807, he printed a small volume of poems, for private distribution among his friends. This being a very interesting subject, and very safe to dilate upon, occupies a large share of the biographer’s attention. There is a good deal also about his enjoyment of athletic exercises, his ignorance of horses, his fondness for dogs and fire-arms, his belief in second-sight, fetches, and so forth; his horror of growing fat, his sensitiveness on the score of his foot, his multifarious reading, and the delight with which he seasoned his academical studies by a copy of Mother Goose’s Tales, which he bought of a hawker. Res memoranda novis annalibus.

A long list is given of the books which he had read up to that time, November 1807. It is very copious, especially in history. Few young men at College, Mr. Moore thinks, had read so much: we think so too: we may make large deductions from it, and still think so. There is, however, a way of scouting through books, which some people call reading, and we are afraid much of the reading here set down was of that description. “Greek and Latin poets, without number.” We are sceptical on this point at any rate. If he had read and understood—we include understanding in our idea of reading—if he had read and understood as many Greek poets as he could count on his fingers, he never could have fallen into the preposterous blunder which he committed in Don Juan:
‘The European with the Asian shore
Sprinkled with palaces: the ocean stream
Here and there studded with a seventy four, &c.’
Canto V: St: III.

He says in a note on “the ocean stream:”—

‘This expression of Homer has been much criticised. It hardly answers to our Atlantic ideas of the ocean, but is sufficiently applicable to the Hellespont and the Bosphorus, with the Ægean intersected with islands.’

* West. Review, No. XVI.

Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron. 283

Who were the parties that had criticised Homer out of his obvious meaning, we know not: but could it have been necessary to tell a man who had “read Greek poets without number,” that, according to the ideas of the ancients, the Ocean River flowed entirely round the earth, and that the seas were inlets from it? The Shield of Achilles alone would have set this point at rest, without looking to any more recondite sources. The River Ocean surrounded the work immediately within the edge of the shield; and the earth, which it enclosed, was imaged in the interior.
Έν δε τίθει ποταμοιο μεγα σθένος Ώκεανοιο,
Άντυγα παρ πυμάτην σάκεος πύκα ποιητοιο.

‘Hic utique manifestum fit,’ says Heyne, ‘auctorem voluisse orbem terrarum in clypeo esse adumbratum.”

“Much criticised,” indeed! It is impossible that the expression could ever have been criticised at all, except by mere English readers, puzzling themselves over Pope’s translation, or Milton’s passage about Leviathan. But let those who wish to see the matter in broad daylight, read the beginning of the Periegesis of Dionysius.

Ex pede Herculem. A man who could speculate in this strain, after reading Greek and Latin poets without number (unhappily they are too easily numerable) must have read to little good purpose. “The utility of reading,” says Horne Tooke, “depends not on the swallow, but on the digestion.”

Lord Byron had read enough to produce a general effect with a multitude of inaccurate recollections. This is the best sort of reading for those who aim merely at amusing the public: and for the space of his life before us, he aimed at nothing higher.

‘I see,’ he says (October 1810) ‘the Lady of the Lake advertised. Of course, it is in his old ballad style, and pretty. After all, Scott is the best of them. The end of all scribblement is to amuse, and he certainly succeeds there.’—p. 241.

And in the same spirit, Captain Medwin reports him to have said: “The great object is effect, no matter how produced.” His reading, and that of his friend and biographer, are much of a piece in this respect, and remind us of a French treatise on music, which we saw advertised the other day, as containing tout ce qui est nécessaire pour en parler sans l’avoir étudié.

His life, at college, was not different from that of most young gentlemen there.

‘“Since my last,” he says (writing from Trinity College, Cambridge,
284Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
July 5, 1807.) “I have determined to reside another year at Granta, as my rooms, &c. &c. are finished in great style, several old friends come up again, and many new acquaintances made, consequently my inclination leads me forward; and I shall return to college in October, if still alive. My life here has been one continued routine of dissipation—out at different places every day, engaged to more dinners, &c. &c. than my stay would permit me to fulfil. At this moment, I write with a bottle of claret in my head, and tears in my eyes, for I have just parted with my
Cornelian, who spent the evening with me.’— p. 113.

Farther on, he says more seriously (Jan. 21, 1808.)

‘I am a member of the University of Cambridge, where I shall take my degree of A. M. this term: but were reasoning, eloquence, or virtue, the objects of my search, Granta is not their metropolis, nor is the place of her situation an El Dorado, far less an Utopia. The intellects of her children are as stagnant as her Cam, and their pursuits limited to the church, not of Christ, but of the nearest benefice.’—p. 134.

Mr. Moore philosophizes on this passage, and is of opinion that the hatred and contempt which Milton and Gray entertained for Cambridge, and Gibbon and Locke for Oxford, “may well be thought to have had their origin in that antipathy to the trammels of discipline which is not unusually observable among the characteristics of genius;” and goes on discussing “the tendency of genius and taste to rebel against discipline,”
In proper terms, such as men smatter,
When they throw out, and miss the matter:

And here Mr. Moore misses the matter most completely, as, in all cases in which a grain of philosophy is requisite, he makes a point of doing. If the Universities can make nothing of genius, their discipline, if it were good for anything, might make something of mediocrity or of dulness: but their discipline is mere pretence, and is limited to the non-essentials of education: they settle down mediocrity into a quiet hatred of literature, and confirm a questionable dunce into a hopeless, incurable, and self-satisfied blockhead. Milton, Locke, Gibbon, and Gray (and Lord Byron himself), all professedly learned a great deal in spite of all the efforts of their respective universities to prevent them, and when our most illustrious names in poetry, philosophy, and history, are arrayed against the universities, it is, forsooth, according to Mr. Moore, the dislike of genius to discipline, and not the antipathy of intellect, knowledge, reason and truth, to ignorance, avarice, and political servility, in the false assumption of learning and science.

We shall not, however, leave this question to inference. We
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.285
shall show in their own words, why
Milton, Gibbon, and Gray hated and despised their respective universities.

Milton says:—[Animadversions upon the Remonstrant’s defence against Smectymnus.] ‘It had been happy for this land if your priests had been but only wooden. All England knows they have been to this island not wood, but wormwood, that have infected the third part of our waters, like that apostate star in the Revelation, that many souls have died of their bitterness; and if you mean by wooden, illiterate or contemptible, there was no want of that sort among you; and their number increasing daily, as their laziness, their tavern-hunting, their neglect of all sound literature, and their liking of doltish and monastical schoolmen, daily increased. What, should I tell you how the universities, that men look should be fountains of learning and knowledge, have been poisoned and choaked under your governance? And if to be wooden be to be base, where could there be found among all the reformed churches, nay in the church of Rome itself, a baser brood of flattering and time-serving priests? according as God pronounces by Isaiah: the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. As for your young scholars, that petition for bishoprics and deaneries to encourage them in their studies, and that many gentlemen else will not put their sons to learning, away with such young mercenary striplings, and their simoniacal fathers; God has no need of such, they have no part or lot in his vineyard: they may as well sue for nunneries, that they may have some convenient stowage for their withered daughters, because they cannot give them portions answerable to the pride and vanity they have bred them in. This is the root of all our mischief: that which they allege for the encouragement of their studies should be cut away forthwith as the very bait of pride and ambition, the very garbage that draws together all the fowls of prey and ravin in the land, to come and gorge upon the church.’

Gibbon says, in his Memoirs:—

‘To the university of Oxford I acknowledge no obligation, and she will as cheerfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing to disclaim her for a mother. I spent fourteen months at Magdalen College: they proved the fourteen months the most idle and unprofitable of my whole life: the reader will pronounce between the school and the scholar: but I cannot affect to believe that nature had disqualified me for all literary pursuits. The specious and ready excuse of my tender age, imperfect preparation, and hasty departure, may doubtless be alleged; nor do I wish to defraud such excuses of their proper weight. Yet, in my sixteenth year, I was not devoid of capacity or application; even my childish reading had displayed an early, though blind propensity for books, and the shallow flood might have been taught to flow in a deep and a clear stream. In the discipline of a well constituted academy, under the guidance of skilful and vigilant professors, I should gradually have risen from translations to originals, from the Latin to the Greek classics, from dead languages to living science:
286Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
my hours would have been occupied by useful and agreeable studies, the wanderings of fancy would have been restrained, and I should have escaped the temptations of idleness, which finally precipitated my departure from Oxford.

‘Perhaps, in a separate annotation, I may coolly examine the fabulous and real antiquities of our sister universities, a question which has kindled such fierce and foolish disputes among their fanatic sons. In the mean while, it will be acknowledged, that these venerable bodies are sufficiently old to partake of all the prejudices and infirmities of age. The schools of Oxford and Cambridge were founded in a dark age of false and barbarous science; and they are still tainted with the vices of their origin. Their primitive discipline was adapted to the education of priests and monks; and the government still remains in the hands of the clergy, an order of men whose manners are remote from the present world, and whose eyes are dazzled by the light of philosophy.’

Gray says, in a letter to Mr. West:

‘You must know that I do not take degrees, and, after this term, shall have nothing more of college impertinence to undergo, which I trust will be some pleasure to you as it is a great one to me. I have endured lectures daily and hourly since I came last, supported by the hopes of being shortly at full liberty to give myself up to my friends and classical companions, who, poor souls! though I see them fallen into great contempt with most people here, yet I cannot help sticking to them, and out of a spirit of obstinacy (I think) love them the better for it; and, indeed, what can I do else? Must I plunge into metaphysics? Alas! I cannot see in the dark; nature has not furnished me with the optics of a cat. Must I pore upon mathematics? Alas! I cannot see in too much light; I am no eagle. It is very possible that two and two make four, but I would not give four farthings to demonstrate this ever so clearly; and if these be the profits of life, give me the amusements of it. The people I behold all around me, it seems, know all this and more, and yet I do not know one of them who inspires me with any ambition of being like him. Surely it was of this place, now Cambridge, but formerly known by the name of Babylon, that the prophet spoke when he said, “the wild beasts of the desart shall dwell there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls shall build there, and satyrs shall dance there; their forts and towers shall be a den for ever, a joy of wild asses; there shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow; it shall be a court of dragons; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.” You see here is a pretty collection of desolate animals, which is verified in this town to a tittle; and perhaps it may also allude to your habitation, for you know all types may be taken by abundance of handles; however, I defy your owls to match mine.’

Again, to Dr. Wharton:

Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron. 287

‘The spirit of laziness (the spirit of the place) begins to possess even me, who have so long declaimed against it; yet has it not so prevailed, but that I feel that discontent with myself, that ennui, that ever accompanies it in its beginnings. Time will settle my conscience, time will reconcile me to this languid companion: we shall smoke, we shall tipple, we shall doze together: we shall have our little jokes like other people, and we shall have our old stories: brandy will finish what port began: and a month after the time you will see in some corner of a London Evening Post:—“Yesterday died the Rev. John Gray, senior fellow of Clare Hall, a facetious companion, and well respected by all that knew him. His death is supposed to have been occasioned by a fit of apoplexy, being found fallen out of bed with his head in the chamber-pot.’

Again, to Dr. Clarke:

‘I would wish to continue here till Michaelmas; but I fear I must come to town much sooner. Cambridge is a delight of a place, now there is nobody in it. I do believe you would like it, if you knew what it was without inhabitants. It is they, I assure you, that get it an ill name and spoil all. Our friend Dr. —— (one of its nuisances) is not expected here in a hurry. He is gone to his grave with five fine mackarel (large and full of roe) in his belly. He eat them all at one dinner; but his fate was a turbot on Trinity Sunday, of which he left little for the company besides bones. He had not been hearty all the week; but after this sixth fish he never held up his head more, and a violent looseness carried him off. They say he made a very good end.’

These are only specimens. We could easily multiply them: but they are sufficient for the purpose. With respect to Locke, we cannot at present cite any thing in point in his own words, and must content ourselves with a passage from his life by Lord King; which, however, is quite enough to refute Mr. Moore’s proposition:

‘Locke was sent to Westminster School, and from thence to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1651. His friend, Mr. Tyrrell, the grandson of the celebrated Usher, Archbishop of Armagh, relates that Locke, in the earliest period of his residence at Oxford, was distinguished for his talents and learning amongst his fellow-students. That he lost much time at Oxford, is however certain, from his own confession; and if he derived little advantage from the place of his education, it cannot be ascribed to the inaptitude of his mind to make useful acquirements: the fault is to be found in his instructors and in their system. It appears that he would have thought the method of Des Cartes preferable (though no admirer of his philosophy) to that of the established practice, either because the study of that writer gave him the first taste for philosophy, or because he admired the distinctness of this method; or, perhaps, he might consider any alteration to be an improvement, and any change a change for the better.

288 Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.

‘Although he acquired this early reputation at the university, yet he was often heard to express his regret that his father had ever sent him to Oxford; aware, from his own experience, that the method of instruction then pursued was ill calculated to open the understanding or prepare the way for any useful knowledge.’

It is really something un peu fort, even for Mr. Moore, to pretend that these learned and laborious men, all of whom subjected their minds to the severest discipline, disliked their universities only because discipline is distasteful to genius. But the universities are influential, and Mr. Moore must stand well with the influential in all its forms. This will be more and more apparent as we proceed.

In 1807, Lord Byron published his “Hours of Idleness,” and in 1808, the Edinburgh Review attacked it in the spirit of its usual dealings with all authors, young authors especially, who were not within the corrupt circle of its political and literary favouritism. Mr. Moore had been similarly dealt with not long previously: but both Mr. Moore and Lord Byron successively forced themselves into the enchanted circle: the first having introduced himself by proposing to shoot his critic, which proved that he was not only a gentleman but a great poet: the second by laying about him, with the figurative horse-whip of satire, indiscriminately on his reviewer, and on all he had ever praised, which, as the public sided with the young satirist, set his pretensions to genius in an entirely new light. The review having been written without principle, and merely as a piece of catering for idle malignity, “the most gifted of critics” pocketed the invective which consigned him to the Tolbooth, and the three “gifted” parties, of whom one had challenged two, and two had, in critical phraseology, cut up two, (Moore having challenged Jeffrey and Byron, Jeffrey having cut up Moore and Byron, and Byron having cut up Jeffrey and Moore), became three of the best friends in this literary world, to the great advantage of their respective reputations with the enlightened and discerning public. As Mr. Moore is both poet and musician, we recommend this to him as a matchless subject for a catch.

Mr. Moore apologizes, in a very lame and irresolute way, for his friend the critic’s original treatment of his friend the poet. “The knave, sir, is mine honest friend,” says Davy to Justice Shallow, pleading for Vizor of Wincot. We shall pass over this point for the present, because we shall have a better opportunity of noticing the system which the Edinburgh Review adopted in its literary criticisms.

Much information is given respecting the progress of the
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.289
Satire through the press. Lord Byron’s sole standard of judgment of persons was in his own personal feelings of favour and resentment. Mr. Moore euphonises this into “the susceptibility of new impressions and influences which rendered both his judgment and feelings so variable.” It is amusing to see how Lord Carlisle was turned from a Roscommon into a blockhead; Professor Smith, the English Lyrist, from one who discredited even the University, to one who almost redeemed its name: Sir William Gell, from coxcomb to classic, by a single stroke of the pen, because, in his chrysalis state between coxcomb and classic, Lord Byron accidentally became acquainted with him; and so forth. This was pretty much the way in which he formed his opinions through life.

In 1809, he came of age, and took his seat in the House of Lords. There was some delay opposed to him by the necessity of obtaining from Carhais, in Cornwall, the affidavit required in proof of the marriage of Admiral Byron with Miss Trevanion.

‘The affidavits which he here mentions, as expected from Cornwall, were those required in proof of the marriage of Admiral Byron with Miss Trevanion, the solemnization of which having taken place, as it appears, in a private chapel at Carhais, no regular certificate of the ceremony could be produced. The delay in procuring other evidence, coupled with the rather ungracious refusal of Lord Carlisle to afford any explanations respecting his family, interposed those difficulties which he alludes to in the way of his taking his seat. At length, all the necessary proofs having been obtained, he on the 13th of March, presented himself in the House of Lords in a state more lone and unfriendly, perhaps, than any youth of his high station had ever before been reduced to on such an occasion, not having a single individual of his own class either to introduce him as friend or receive him as acquaintance. To chance alone was he even indebted for being accompanied as far as the bar of the House by a very distant relative, who had been, little more than a year before, an utter stranger to him. This relative was Mr. Dallas, and the account which he has given of the whole scene is too striking in all its details, to be related in any other words than his own:

‘“The Satire was published about the middle of March, previous to which he took his seat in the House of Lords, on the 13th of the same month. On that day, passing down St. James’s Street, but with no intention of calling, I saw his chariot at his door, and went in. His countenance, paler than usual, showed that his mind was agitated, and that he was thinking of the nobleman to whom he had once looked for a hand and countenance in his introduction to the House. He said to me—I am glad you happened to come in, I am going to take my seat, perhaps you will go with me.

‘“I expressed my readiness to attend him; while at the time I concealed the shock I felt, on thinking that this young man, who by birth,
290Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.
fortune, and talent, stood high in life, should have lived so unconnected and neglected by persons of his own rank, that there was not a single member of the senate to which he belonged to whom he could or would apply to introduce him in a manner becoming his birth. I saw that he felt the situation, and I fully partook his indignation. * * *

‘“After some talk about the Satire, the last sheets of which were in the press, I accompanied Lord Byron to the House. He was received in one of the anti-chambers by some of the officers in attendance, with whom he settled respecting the fees he had to pay. One of them went to apprize the Lord Chancellor of his being there, and soon returned for him. There were very few persons in the House. Lord Eldon was going through some ordinary business. When Lord Byron entered, I thought he looked still paler than before; and he certainly wore a countenance in which mortification was mingled with, but subdued by, indignation. He passed the woolsack without looking round, and advanced to the table where the proper officer was attending to administer the oaths. When he had gone through them, the Chancellor quitted his seat, and went towards him with a smile, putting out his hand warmly to welcome him; and though I did not catch his words, I saw that he paid him some compliment. This was all thrown away upon Lord Byron, who made a stiff bow, and put the tips of his fingers into the Chancellor’s hand.

* * * * * * *

‘“The Chancellor did not press a welcome so received, but resumed his seat; while Lord Byron carelessly seated himself for a few minutes on one of the empty benches to the left of the throne, usually occupied by the Lords in opposition. When, on his joining me, I expressed what I had felt, he said: ‘if I had shaken hands heartily, he would have set me down for one of his party, but I will have nothing to do with any of them, on either side; I have taken my seat, and now I will go abroad.’ We returned to St. James’s-street, but he did not recover his spirits.”

‘To this account of a ceremonial so trying to the proud spirit engaged in it, and so little likely to abate the bitter feeling of misanthropy now growing upon him, I am enabled to add, from his own report in one of his note-books, the particulars of the short conversation which he held with the Lord Chancellor on the occasion.

‘When I came of age, some delays, on account of some birth and marriage certificates from Cornwall, occasioned me not to take my seat for several weeks. When these were over and I had taken the oaths, the Chancellor apologized to me for the delay, observing that these forms were a part of his duty. I begged him to make no apology, and added (as he certainly had shown no violent hurry), your lordship was exactly like Tom Thumb (which was then being acted) you did your duty, and you did no more.’—pp. 163. 165.

We have extracted this passage because we anticipate occasion to refer to it hereafter.

Shortly after this event, and the publication of his Satire,
Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.291
Lord Byron left England for the Levant. Some of his letters from the East are interesting. Though his judgments of individual men are not worth a rush, his general observations, and especially his local descriptions, are often valuable, and always amusing. His exploit of swimming across the Hellespont is commemorated in many of his letters, and seems to have been, of all his achievements, that which he most rejoiced in.

A gentleman, who is called Mr. Hanson when remittances are received, and Mr. H * * when they are not (from which we are left to infer that Mr. Hanson was an exemplary agent, and Mr. H * * a very so so one), not having sent remittances in proper time and amount, Lord Byron returned home in 1811. In this year he lost his mother and his two friends, Wingfield and Charles Skinner Matthews. Mr. Moore gives some account of this latter gentleman, who, it seems, like his noble friend, had “lost his way in the mazes of scepticism.” This infection, labyrinth, canker, blastment, light that leads astray, cloud, eclipse, &c. &c. &c. so bewilders Mr. Moore with its mere imagination, that he loses his own way irretrievably in a labyrinth of figures. We cannot help him out of it: but requesting him, as Falstaff did Pistol, to deliver himself like a man of this world, we will make a remark or two on the subject that has made “chaos come again” amongst his metaphors.

We find, in the letters of Lord Byron to Mr. Dallas, Mr. Hodgson, and Mr. Gifford, replies to expostulations and arguments which those gentlemen had addressed to him on the subject of his infidelity. Now, if any of these gentlemen, after his death, had lamented his infidelity in writing of him to the public, it would have been consistent with their conduct towards him during his life. But in his letters to Mr. Moore, and in all Mr. Moore’s account of their intercourse, there is not a vestige of any expostulation or argument on the subject addressed to him by Mr. Moore. He therefore comes forward now with a very ill grace, saying that of Lord Byron, after his death, which there is no evidence to shew, and not the least reason to believe, he ever said to him during his life. We think it quite of a piece with Mr. Moore’s general system of acquiescence with the influential in all its forms, to conclude, that having first courted the favour of Lord Byron by silence, at least, on the one hand, he now courts that of the public by talk on the other.

“The staple commodity of the present age in England,” says Lord Byron himself somewhere, “is cant: cant moral, cant religious, cant political; but always cant.” How much of this staple commodity there may be in Mr. Moore’s lamentations, we shall leave our readers to judge.

292 Moore’s Letters and Journals of Byron.

Lord Byron’s letters to Mr. Moore contain not a syllable of replication to any shadow of an expressed solicitude on the subject of his infidelity. It was assuredly very unkind in Mr. Moore not even to offer his hand to extricate him from “the labyrinth in which he was bewildered;” “the eclipse in which he was labouring:” more especially as, from the confidence with which Mr. Moore ascribes error to Lord Byron, he must be himself in the possession of something very nearly approaching the infallibility of the Catholic church. A man cannot say unhesitatingly, that another is grossly wrong, unless in the confidence that he himself is perfectly right. We think it, therefore, a very unfriendly measure on his part to have withheld his “short and easy method” from his deistical friend, while he was yet living and able to profit by it; and now to come forward, shaking his head over him, and pelting his infidel memory with a hailstorm of metaphors, by way of making a good orthodox presentment of himself in the eyes of the religious community. But we do not think that any direct-dealing man, be his religious opinions what they may, can admire the figure which Mr. Moore makes on this occasion.

In all his remarks on this subject, it is most manifest to us that he has no other aim than to say fine and palatable things. To the latter quality let those who relish them speak. To the former we will say a word or two.

“The canker snowed itself in the morn and dew of youth.” What is a canker in the morn, or a canker in the dew? He means, we presume, a canker on the rosebud while the morning dew is upon it. Does the canker-worm begin its operations by showing itself? Does it come with the morning dew? Neither. There is a false metaphor to start with. “The canker showed itself in the morn and dew of youth,” when the effect of such “blastments;”—here the canker-worm is turned into a “blastment,” a blastment coming with morning dew: let Mr. Moore watch his garden twelve months round, and if he find blight or blastment of any description coming with morning dew, let him publish the particulars of what will really be a great phytological and meteorological discovery. Thus is the false metaphor doubly falsified. “When the effect of such blastments is for every reason most fatal, and, in addition to the real misfortune of being an unbeliever at any age, he exhibited the rare and melancholy spectacle of an unbelieving school-boy. The same prematurity of developement, which brought his passions and genius so early into action, enabled him also to anticipate this worst, dreariest result of reason.” We have suddenly lost sight of the canker-worm, and now we find that, according to
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Mr. Moore, error is a result of reason. This is a discovery in logic, worthy of his preceding discoveries in physics.

A little after this we find that “Lord Byron had begun to bewilder himself in the mazes of scepticism,” that is, in other words, had set about leading himself astray: a somewhat Irish process: “his mind disported itself most wantonly on the brink of all that is most solemn and awful;” here he is out of the labyrinth and on the edge of a precipice: but “he never was at any time of his life a confirmed unbeliever.” Why, then, what was he? Mr. Moore does not know. If he was not a confirmed unbeliever, he was to a certain extent a believer; and then the question arises, to what extent? and whether among all the sects into which the Christian world is divided, there was not one which would have received him within its pale?

‘“Infidelity,” says a wiser man than Mr. Moore [Richard Payne Knight, in the preface to the Progress of Civil Society, p. xvii], is a vague term of general accusation, which every hypocrite or fanatic applies to those who appear to be less hypocritical or fanatical than himself. I shall, therefore, take no further notice of it than merely to say, that I have never printed or written any opinion on the subject of Christianity, which I cannot prove to be consistent with the duties of a good subject, a good citizen, and a good man: I might perhaps add, of a good Christian, did I understand the meaning of the term, or know the duties which it implies; but having found, by some little reading and observation, that it has not only had a different signification in every age and country, but in the mouth of almost every individual who has ever used it, I will not pretend to it, till its meaning is so far determined, that I may know whether I can justly pretend to it or not. What is established by law, I respect and obey: but still, as it appears to me to be in many respects extremely different from what was inculcated by the Founder of Christianity and his immediate successors, I am not certain that I can thereby claim the title of a good Christian.”

Mr. Moore wishes to persuade the public that he denies the right of private judgment in respect of religious belief. He seems to think that belief can be enforced, and treats disbelief as an offence. He talks of infidelity as “a dangerous state of freedom from moral responsibility.” We will cite for his instruction, a passage from the writings of one of the most sober-minded, calm-judging men, and one of the greatest benefactors of his species, that the modern world has produced: a religious man too himself: Thomas Jefferson.

On the subject of religion, Jefferson writes to his young friend Peter Carr:—

‘Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the
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first place, divest yourself of all bias in favour of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine, first, the religion of your own country.

* * * * * * *

‘Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that, increases the appetite to deserve it: if that Jesus was also a God, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject any thing, because any other person or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision.’—Jefferson’s Memoirs, vol. ii, pp. 216, 218.

In another place, Jefferson writes to Dr. Rush;—

‘I am averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavoured to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed. It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behoves him too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God and himself.’—Jefferson’s Memoirs, vol. iii, p. 515.

Mr. Moore makes his friend “answerable for the rightness of the decision” and as far as in him lies, “invades the liberty of conscience in others,” and “betrays the common right of independent opinion.”

Of Matthews, Mr. Moore writes thus:—

‘Of this remarkable young man, Charles Skinner Matthews, I have already had occasion to speak, but the high station which he held in Lord Byron’s affection and admiration, may justify a somewhat ampler tribute to his memory. There have seldom, perhaps, started together in life, so many youths of high promise and hope, as were to be found
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among the society of which Lord Byron formed a part at Cambridge. Of some of these, the names have since eminently distinguished themselves in the world, as the mere mention of
Mr. Hobhouse, and Mr. William Bankes, is sufficient to testify; while in the instance of another of this lively circle, Mr. Scrope Davies, the only regret of his friends is, that the social wit of which he is such a master, should, in the memories of his hearers alone, be likely to leave any record of its brilliancy. Among all these young men of learning and talent (including Byron himself, whose genius was, however, as yet, “an undiscovered world,”) the superiority, in almost every department of intellect, seems to have been, by the ready consent of all, awarded to Matthews; a concurrence of homage, which considering the persons from whom it came, gives such a high notion of the powers of his mind at that period, as renders the thought of what he might have been, if spared, a matter of interesting, though vain and mournful speculation. To mere mental pre-eminence, unaccompanied by the kindlier qualities of the heart, such a tribute, however deserved, might not perhaps have been so uncontestedly paid. But young Matthews appears, in spite of some little asperities of temper and manner, which he was already beginning to soften down when snatched away,—to have been one of those rare individuals who, while they command deference, can, at the same time win regard, and who, as it were, relieve the intense feeling of admiration which they excite, by blending it with love.

‘To his religious opinions, and their unfortunate coincidence with those of Lord Byron, I have before adverted. Like his noble friend, ardent in the pursuit of truth, he, like him, had unluckily lost his way in seeking her, “the light that led astray” being by both friends mistaken for hers. That in his scepticism he proceeded any further than Lord Byron, or ever suffered his doubting, but still ingenuous, mind to persuade itself into the “incredible creed” of atheism, is I find, (notwithstanding an assertion in a letter of the noble poet to this effect) disproved by the testimony of those among his relations and friends, who are the most ready to admit, and of course lament, his other heresies; nor should I have felt that I had any right to allude thus to the religious opinions of one, who had never, by promulgating his heterodoxy, brought himself within the jurisdiction of the public, had not the wrong impression, as it appears, given of those opinions, on the authority of lord Byron, rendered it an act of justice to both friends to remove the imputation.’—pp. 277, 279.

This passage contains several points worthy of remark: 1st., the highest possible panegyric on the moral and intellectual excellence of an individual, whose religious opinions were unfortunately like lord Byron’s, though what lord Byron’s opinions were, as we have just seen, Mr. Moore does not know. 2nd, that Mr. Moore himself can most clearly distinguish the light of truth from the light that leads astray, though he had the unkindness never to shew his friend a glimpse of the former, basking
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as he does in its meridian blaze. 3rd, that it is an act of justice to both friends to prove that one had grossly misrepresented the other. 4th, that the friends of
Mr. Matthews, of course, lament his heresies; they lament them as a matter of course.—Why, of course? There is nothing stated respecting them but that they were his friends. They might have agreed or disagreed with him. “Of course”, says Mr. Moore, they disagreed with him. Why of course? we repeat. There can be but one answer: because it is of course that Mr. Moore should say of those he wishes to flatter just what he thinks the majority of his readers would wish to have said.

We next come to the following fantastical speculation about the poems to Thyrza:

‘It was about the time when he was bitterly feeling, and expressing, the blight, which his heart had suffered from a real object of affection, that his poems on the death of an imaginary one, “Thyrza,” were written; nor is it any wonder, when we consider the peculiar circumstances under which these beautiful effusions flowed from his fancy, that of all his strains of pathos, they should be the most touching and most pure. They were, indeed, the essence, the abstract spirit, as it were, of many griefs;—a confluence of sad thoughts from many sources of sorrow, refined and warmed in their passage through his fancy, and forming thus one deep reservoir of mournful feeling. In retracing the happy hours he had known with the friends now lost, all the ardent tenderness of his youth came back upon him.

‘His school-sports with the favourites of his boy-hood, Wingfield and Tattersall—his summer days with Long, and those evenings of music and romance, which he had dreamed away in the society of his adopted brother, Eddlestone—all these recollections of the young and dead now came to mingle themselves in his mind with the image of her who, though living, was, for him, as much lost as they, and diffused that general feeling of sadness through his soul, which found a vent in these poems. No friendship, however warm, could have inspired sorrow so passionate, as no love, however pure, could have kept passion so chastened. It was the blending of the two affections in his memory and imagination, that thus gave birth to an ideal object combining the best features of both, and drew from him these saddest and tenderest of love-poems, in which we find all the depth and intensity of real feeling touched over with such a light as no reality ever wore.”—pp. 302, 303.

This passage presents a curious instance of confusion of imagery:—A blight is felt: a blight is expressed: the heart suffers a blight from an object of affection: the effusions that flow from the fancy become touching and pure strains: these again become an essence, an abstract spirit: these are changed into a confluence of streams from many sources; and these,
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being refined and warmed, form a reservoir. Effusions, strains, essences, confluent streams, are all different and discrepant things; and though streams may fill a reservoir, they cannot form one. And, after all, depth and intensity are touched over with light. No doubt this is all very pretty, and sweetly sentimental.

A little further on in the volume is the following still more fantastical passage:

‘In all such speculations and conjectures as to what might have been, under more favourable circumstances, his character, it is invariably to be borne in mind, that his very defects were among the elements of his greatness, and that it was out of the struggle between the good and evil principles of his nature that his mighty genius drew its strength. A more genial and fostering introduction into life, while it would doubtless have softened and disciplined his mind, might have impaired its vigour; and the same influence that would have diffused smoothness and happiness over his life, might have been fatal to its glory. In a short poem of his,* which appears to have been produced at Athens (as I find it written on a leaf of the original MS. of Childe Harolde, and dated “Athens, 1811”) there are two lines which, though hardly intelligible as connected with the rest of the poem, may, taken separately, be interpreted as implying a sort of prophetic consciousness that it was out of the wreck and ruin of all his hopes the immortality of his name was to arise:
‘Dear object of defeated care,
Though now of love and thee bereft,
To reconcile me with despair,
Thine image and my tears are left.
’Tis said with sorrow Time can cope,
But this I feel can ne’er be true;
For, by the death-blow of my hope,
My memory immortal grew!’—p. 323.

This is really curious. Here is a gentleman dabbling all his life in poetry and criticism, and still incapable of seizing a meaning so obvious, that it is most marvellous how any one could miss it. By the death-blow of my hope—the blow that deprived me of the original of this picture—my memory grew immortal:—my remembrance of her became so strong that it shews not the slightest symptom of decay; now, when after a lapse of time I look at her picture, the painful feelings of memory are as vivid as on the day I lost her. This proves thatTime cannot cope with sorrow.Mr. Moore, however, expounds the passage thus:

By the death-blow of my hope in the loss of this object, I laid the foundation of an immortal memory for myself: of my being

* Written beneath the picture of ——

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immortally remembered. This proves thatTime cannot cope with sorrow.” A most contorted interpretation, and a most exemplary non sequitur.

This specimen of Mr. Moore’s method of understanding his friend’s poetry speaks very ill for the sort of selection he has been likely to make from his remains.

The publication of Childe Harold—the non-publication of Hints from Horace, an imitation of the Art of Poetry—the manner in which Mr. Moore scraped acquaintance with Lord Byron (a phrase which we use designedly, because we find it so felicitously illustrated in this very curious procedure)—the history of Lord Byron’s life at Newstead and in London—the publication of the Giaour, Bride of Abydos, and Corsair—his marriage with Miss Milbanke, the daughter of Sir Ralph Noel Milbanke, on the 2nd of January, 1815—his share in the management of Drury Lane Theatre—his separation from his wife in January, 1816—and his final departure from England on the 25th of April, 1816, are the principal events recorded in the remainder of this volume. No new light, as we have said, is thrown upon anything about which the public curiosity had been strongly excited: but there is a great deal of detail about minute corrections of the press, about alterations and re-alterations in that very important theatrical state-paper, the Address for the opening of Drury Lane Theatre; a great deal of gossip about all sorts of people, much that should not have been published, and more that is not worth publishing; some peeps behind the curtain of the Edinburgh Review, for which the parties principally implicated in that shallow and dishonest publication will scarcely thank the exhibitor; a few things said, and many hinted, about Lord Byron’s amours; a few touches on the politics of Lord Byron and his biographer; and a speculation by Mr. Moore about the usual unhappiness of intellectual persons in marriage.

The gossip about individuals is given with one or two peculiarities worthy of note. An initial is given in one page which sets the reader guessing; a name is given in another which saves him the trouble; or circumstances are so detailed as to point to the name unerringly. In one page we find “Bold W.” going to be thrown out of a window; in another we find a friendly mention of “Bold Webster.” A gentleman who sometimes neglects to send remittances is always Mr. H.: a gentleman who sometimes sends them is always Mr. Hanson. In one place lord Byron sees S * * *’s mistress and her mother in an opposite box at the theatre; and who S * * *’s mistress was is indicated a dozen lines lower:—

‘Went to my box at Covent-Garden to night; and my delicacy
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felt a little shocked at seeing S * * *’s mistress (who, to my certain knowledge, was actually educated from her birth for her profession) sitting with her mother, ‘a three-piled b——d, b——d-major to the army,’ in a private box opposite. I felt rather indignant; but, casting my eyes round the house, in the next box to me, and the next, and the next, were the most distinguished old and young Babylonians of quality—so I burst out a laughing. It was really odd; lady * * divorced—lady * *, and her daughter, lady * *, both divorceable—Mrs. * *, in the next, the like, and still nearer * * * * * *! What an assemblage to me, who know all their histories. It was as if the house had been divided between your public and your understood courtesans; but the intriguantes much outnumbered the regular mercenaries. On the other side were only Pauline and her mother, and, next box to her, three of inferior note. Now, where lay the difference between her and her mamma, and lady * * and daughter? except that the two last may enter Carleton and any other house, and the two first are limited to the opera and b—— house. How I do delight in observing life as it really is!—and myself, after all, the worst of any. But, no matter—I must avoid egotism, which, just now, would be no vanity.’—p. 470.

Now as there were only one mother and daughter opposite, and as they were Pauline and her mother, S * * *’s mistress was Pauline. Who S * * * was, is therefore as clear as if his name had been printed. The volume abounds with these mockeries of reserve.

In other cases, and there is an instance in the last-cited passage, asterisks only are given, which communicate nothing. The following is another instance:—

‘To-morrow there is a party of purple at the ‘blue’ Miss * * *’s. Shall I go? Um!—I don’t much affect your blue-bottles; but one ought to be civil. There will be (‘I guess now,’ as the Americans say), the Staëls and Mackintoshes—good—the * * * s and * * * s—not so good—the * * * s, &c. &c.—good for nothing. Perhaps that blue-winged Kashmirian butterfly of book-learning, lady * * *, will be there. I hope so; it is a pleasure to look upon that most beautiful of faces.’—p. 458.

What can be the possible use of printing such passages? Sometimes we have things in this way:—

‘P. S. Oh! the anecdote! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *.—p. 558.

The extreme folly of such a specimen of publication is really sufficiently ludicrous to amount to an excellent jest. Oh! the anecdote, indeed! This should stand at the head of anecdotes of book-making, if ever Sholto and Reuben Percy take them in hand.

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We shall cite two passages which throw a little light on the politics of Lord Byron, and still more on those of his biographer:—

‘It was at this time that Lord Byron became acquainted (and, I regret to have to add, partly through my means) with Mr. Leigh Hunt, the editor of the well-known weekly journal, the Examiner. This gentleman I had myself formed an acquaintance with in the year 1811, and, in common with a large portion of the public, entertained a sincere admiration of his talents and courage as a journalist. The interest I took in him personally had been recently much increased by the manly spirit which he had displayed throughout a prosecution instituted against himself and his brother, for a libel that had appeared in their paper on the Prince Regent, and in consequence of which they were both sentenced to imprisonment for two years. It will be recollected that there existed among the Whig party, at this period, a strong feeling of indignation at the late defection from themselves and their principles of the illustrious personage, who had been so long looked up to as the friend and patron of both. Being myself, at the time, warmly,—perhaps, intemperately,—under the influence of this feeling, I regarded the fate of Mr. Hunt with more than common interest, and, immediately on my arrival in town, paid him a visit in his prison. On mentioning the circumstance, soon after, to Lord Byron, and describing my surprise at the sort of luxurious comforts with which I had found the wit in the dungeon surrounded,—his trellised flower-garden without, and his books, busts, pictures, and piano-forte within,—the noble poet, whose political views of the case coincided entirely with my own, expressed a strong wish to pay a similar tribute of respect to Mr. Hunt, and accordingly, a day or two after, we proceeded for that purpose to the prison. The introduction which then took place was soon followed by a request from Mr. Hunt that we would dine with him, and the noble poet having good-naturedly accepted the invitation, the Cold Bath Fields prison had, in the month of June, 1813, the honour of receiving Lord Byron, as a guest, within its walls.’—pp. 400, 401.

It was, we believe, in Horsemonger-Lane gaol, and not in that of Cold-Bath-Fields, that Mr. Leigh Hunt was imprisoned. Mr. Moore is too genteel to know one gaol from another. But it appears that Mr. Moore’s patriotic sympathy was aroused on this occasion, not by the specific case of oppression, but by its coincidence with the Prince Regent’s defection from the Whigs. If the Whigs had been in place, Mr. Hunt, as a part of the arrangement, might have been very properly in gaol. If Mr. Moore should say, the Whigs would not have sent him there, let our present Whig attorney-general answer him for us. It is always, quo, non quomodo, with Mr. Moore. His movement to the state prison was not a patriotic, nor a philosophic, nor a philanthropic, movement. It was a Whig movement. He has
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thought proper to apologise for it, and we have translated his apology into plain English.

The second passage is this:

‘On the second of June, in presenting a petition to the House of Lords, he made his third and last appearance as an orator, in that assembly. In his way home from the House that day, he called, I remember, at my lodgings, and found me dressing in a very great hurry for dinner. He was, I recollect, in a state of most humourous exaltation after his display, and, while I hastily went on with my task in the dressing-room, continued to walk up and down the adjoining chamber, spouting forth for me, in a sort of mock-heroic voice, detached sentences of the speech he had just been delivering. “I told them,” he said, “that it was a most flagrant violation of the constitution—that, if such things were permitted, there was an end of English freedom, and that—” “But what was this dreadful grievance?” I asked, interrupting him in his eloquence. “The grievance?” he repeated, pausing as if to consider—“Oh, that I forget.”* It is impossible, of course, to convey an idea of the dramatic humour with which he gave effect to these words, but his look and manner on such occasions were irresistibly comic, and it was, indeed, rather in such turns of fun and oddity than in any more elaborate exhibition of wit that the pleasantry of his conversation existed.’—p. 402.

A man in earnest would not have spoken in parliament about a grievance, without believing that the thing spoken of was a grievance. A man in earnest would not, having spoken of a public grievance in parliament, have afterwards professed to forget what the grievance was. A man, whether in earnest or not himself, would not, in speaking to a man whom he believed to be in earnest, have treated his own advocacy of public grievances as a jest. Lord Byron would not have spoken in this strain to Mr. Shelley. And a man, whose own political opinions were anything but a farce, would not record an anecdote, so discreditable to both parties, as a mere piece of pleasantry, and nothing more.

The only political affairs about which Lord Byron seems to have felt any real and earnest interest, within the period here recorded, were those of Napoleon. He concluded a journal which he had kept for some time, and from which Mr. Moore has given ample extracts, in these words:

April 19th, 1814.—There is ice at both poles, north and south—all extremes are the same—misery belongs to the highest and the lowest only,—to the emperor and the beggar, when unsixpenced and unthroned. There is, to be sure, a damned insipid medium—an equinoctial line—no one knows where, except upon maps and measurement.

* This speech was on presenting a Petition from Major Cartwright.

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‘And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.’

‘I will keep no further journal of that same hesternal torch-light; and, to prevent me from returning, like a dog, to the vomit of memory, I tear out the remaining leaves of this volume, and write in Ipecacuanha,—that the Bourbons are restored!!! Hang up philosophy. To be sure, I have long despised myself and man, but I never spat in the face of my species before—‘O fool! I shall go mad.’—pp. 513, 514.

Lord Byron wished to serve Mr. Coleridge. He persuaded Mr. Murray to publish Christabel. He tried, through Mr. Moore, to persuade Mr. Jeffrey to review it favorably in the Edinburgh Review. But Mr. Jeffrey knew better than to compromise the character of his publication, by giving a true and just account of any literary work, even to please his new friend Lord Byron. This most beautiful little poem was therefore consigned to the hands of that one of Mr. Jeffrey’s coadjutors, who combined the most profound ignorance, and the grossest obtuseness of intellect, with the most rancorous malignity, and the most unblushing literary dishonesty. The Edinburgh Review has furnished many specimens of all these qualities: but in this article on Coleridge’s Christabel, they were all combined in the most striking degree. Every thing was garbled, falsified, distorted, misrepresented. The Review has not destroyed Mr. Coleridge’s poetical fame: that was, and is, beyond its reach: but it destroyed his chance of popularity by extinguishing curiosity towards his poem at the time of its publication, at a time especially, when to have assisted him to that share of public attention which he has always merited as a poet, would, though nothing more than an act of justice, have had the effect of an act of generosity. Of course, neither was to be expected from the Edinburgh Review.

We must say a word or two more about Mr. Moore’s figures. The following is a curious specimen:—

‘There is a healthfulness in the moral feeling so unaffectedly expressed in this letter, which seems to answer for a heart sound at the core, however passion might have scorched it.’—p. 231-2.

What is the relation between scorching and a sound core? Half the metaphor is from a rotten apple, and half from a roasted one.

Mr. Moore never produces a figure that will stand the test of analysis. His figures are all made up of disparates and nonexistences. We do not know in all his writings, a single exception to this rule. The more his images are examined, the more unreal and incoherent they appear. Throughout the pre-
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sent work, he seems often to aim at simplicity: a good aim, but not easily attainable by one who has so long indulged in the rhetoric of false sentiment. He writes figures in spite of himself, and the only result of his endeavour at a simple and natural style is, that, by not fixing his attention on any predominant image, he makes his figurative language more than ever chaotic and caleidoscopical. We will give one example taken at random.

‘When we look back to the unbridled career, of which his marriage was meant to be the goal,—to the rapid and restless course in which his life had run along, like a burning train, through a series of wanderings, adventures, successes, and passions, the fever of all which was still upon him, when, with the same headlong recklessness, he rushed into this marriage—it can but little surprise us, that in the space of one short year, he should not have been able to recover all at once from his bewilderment, or to settle down into that tame level of conduct which the officious spies of his privacy required. As well might it be expected that a steed like his own Mazeppa’s, should stand still, when reined, without chafing or champing the bit.’—p. 649, 650.

What a chaos with horses, goals, fire-trains, fevers, levels, and bewilderments! And this is about the ordinary style of the work.

The volume contains many allusions to persons who have never obtruded themselves on public notice, and whose names and circumstances ought not to have been dragged before the world. It is, on the whole, a production little instructive to the reader, little creditable to the author, little honorable to its subject: a speculation, perhaps a profitable one, on the public appetite for gossip, backed by a systematical deference to every widely-diffused prejudice, and to every doctrine and opinion which the influential classes of readers desire to be popular. And amongst these classes, the influential in the press are by no means forgotten. The “great talents” of Mr. Thomas Barnes, of the Times; the “ingenious and remarkable” Mr. Hogg, of Blackwood’s Magazine; the “most gifted of critics,” Mr. Jeffrey, and so forth, receive, and of course repay, the meed of just and discriminating praise.
Discedo Alcæus puncto illius. Ille meo quis?
Quia, nisi Callimachus?

We shall, for the reasons assigned in the commencement of this article, postpone our observations on the personal character of Lord Byron, and on some other matters, till we have gone through the second volume. Amongst the other matters, we include the whole of his amours, and the illustrations of the
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morality of the higher classes in this country, which his adventures and correspondence afford.

We have given very fair specimens of the matter and manner of the volume before us, and an outline of its contents, with such remarks as were imperiously demanded from us by our sense of the moral duty of exhibiting to our readers the real scope and purpose of a series of shallow sophisms and false assumptions, wrapped up in bundles of metaphors, put forth with a specious semblance of reason and liberality, and directed to the single end of upholding all abuses and delusions by which the aristocracy profit. In the second volume, Mr. Moore will be on more perilous ground. To do justice to his friends who are gone, and to please those among the living, whose favor he most studiously courts in his writings, must be, in the treatment of that period which his second volume will embrace, impossible. He will endeavour to do both, after his fashion; and we think we can pretty accurately anticipate the result.