LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Passages of a Working Life during Half a Century
Chapter X

Contents Vol. I
Prelude 1
Prelude 2
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
‣ Chapter X
Contents Vol. II
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Note to Chapter XV
Contents Vol. III
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Note to Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Note to Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Note to Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Index of Persons
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IT was with no common pleasure that I opened a letter from Mr. Macaulay—a few lines to say that he was ready to resume his contributions to “The Quarterly Magazine.” He enclosed two Manuscripts. These scarcely filled two sheets of paper, but they were as precious as fine gold. Well do I remember the delight with which I read with a friend in London, and afterwards heard read by Mr. Moultrie at Windsor in a way in which few could read, the “Songs of the Huguenots.” These are almost as well known as Campbell’sMariners of England” and “The Battle of the Baltic.” The “Montcontour” is reprinted in Macaulay’s “Miscellaneous Works”—the “Ivry” was republished by himself with “Lays of Ancient Rome.” But they ought never to have been separated. There is a dramatic unity in the two poems which makes each more valuable. The song of lamentation should be read before the song of triumph.
“Oh! weep for Montcontour. Oh! weep for the hour
When the children of darkness and evil had power;
When the horsemen of Valois triumphantly trod
On the bosoms that bled for their rights and their God.”

After that dirge how more gladly sounds the hymn of thanksgiving:
Now glory to the Lord of Hosts, from whom all glories are!
And glory to our Sovereign liege, King Henry of Navarre!
Now let there be the merry sound of music and of dance,
Through thy corn-fields green and sunny vines, Oh pleasant land of France!
And thou, Rochelle, our own Rochelle, proud city of the waters,
Again let rapture light the eyes of all thy mourning daughters.
As thou wert constant in our ills, he joyous in our joy,
For cold and stiff and still are they who wrought thy walls annoy.
Hurrah! hurrah! a single field hath turned the chance of war.
Hurrah! hurrah! for Ivry, and Henry of Navarre.”

In a few months came another pair of lyrics, which no change in the fashion of literature can ever consign to oblivion—“Songs of the Civil War.” These, again, ought to be read together. “The Cavaliers’ March to London” has not been reprinted by the author, nor in his “Miscellaneous Works.” It is perhaps inferior to the other Ballads, but there is in it a thorough appreciation of the men who raised the Standard at Nottingham:
“To horse! to horse! brave Cavaliers!
To horse for Church and Crown!
Strike, strike your tents! snatch up your spears!
And ho for London town!
The imperial harlot, doom’d a prey
To our avenging fires,
Sends up the voice of her dismay!
From all her hundred spires.”
This is the belief of the proud and confident Royalists, who were as ready for battle as for wassail.
“And as with nod and laugh ye sip
The goblet’s rich carnation,
Whose bursting bubbles seem to tip
The wink of invitation;
Drink to those names,—those glorious names,—
Those names no time shall sever,—
Drink, in a draught as deep as Thames,
Our Church and King for ever!”
How doubly solemn comes afterwards the slow movement of the Puritan song:
“Oh! wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the North,
With your hands and your feet and your raiment all red?
And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout?
And whence be the grapes of the wine-press which ye tread?”

The return of Macaulay was the herald of “the most high and palmy state” of the Magazine, when its first fruits were succeeded by a rich harvest. Macaulay was now unquestionably its leading spirit. In the third number, in addition to his “Songs of the Huguenots,” we have “Scenes from Athenian Revels” and “Dante.” Rarely does the Essayist give an anecdote from personal recollection; but he gives one of Mr. Brougham: “I have heard the most eloquent statesman of the age remark, that, next to Demosthenes, Dante is the writer who ought to be most attentively studied by every man who desires to attain oratorical eminence.” There is no mistaking the allusion. I have heard the same opinion given by the great master of his art on more than one occasion. In the fourth number we have, as well as “Songs of the Civil War,” the criticism on “Petrarch,” and the “Great Law-Suit between the Parishes of St. Dennis and St. George in the Water.” This is something more than an imitation of Swift. Those who venerate, and most justly, the memory of Burke, will not be displeased to see him in a caricature portrait as effective as that of Gilray:

“There was an honest Irishman, a great favourite
among them [the Vestry of St. George in the Water], who used to entertain them with raree-shows, and to exhibit a magic-lantern to children on winter evenings. He had gone quite mad upon this subject [the refractory conduct of the tenants of Sir Lewis, the Lord of the Manor of St. Dennis]. Sometimes he would call out in the middle of the street—‘Take care of that corner, neighbours: for the love of Heaven, keep clear of that post; there is a patent steel-trap concealed thereabouts.’ Sometimes he would be disturbed by frightful dreams; then he would get up at dead of night, open his window, and cry ‘fire,’ till the parish was roused, and the engines sent for. The pulpit of the parish of St. George seemed likely to fall; I believe that the only reason was, that the parson had grown too fat and heavy; but nothing would persuade this honest man but that it was a scheme of the people of St. Dennis’s, and that they had sawed through the pillars in order to break the rector’s neck. Once he went about with a knife in his pocket, and told all the persons whom he met, that it had been sharpened by the knife-grinder of the next parish to cut their throats. These extravagances had a great effect on the people, and the more so because they were espoused by the Squire Guelf s steward, who was the most influential person in the parish. He was a very fair-spoken man, very attentive to the main chance, and the idol of the old women, because he never played at skittles or danced with the girls; and indeed never took any recreation but that of drinking on Saturday nights with his friend Harry, the Scotch pedlar. His supporters called him Sweet William; his enemies the Bottomless Pit.”


The fifth, number gave us “The Athenian Orators;” and a paper which, to my mind, if it wants something of the force of the great article on Milton in the “Edinburgh Review,” has a quiet beauty which is even superior. The “Gentleman of the Middle Temple,” who relates a “Conversation between Mr. Abraham Cowley and Mr. John Milton, touching the great Civil War,” tells us how, in the warm and beautiful spring of 1665, “two men of pregnant parts and great reputation” dined with him at his lodging in the Temple. It was proposed, after they had sate at table, talking “freely of many men and things, as well ancient as modern, with much civility.” that they should sail for an hour on the river. “The wind was pleasant; the evening fine; the sky, the earth, and the water beautiful to look upon. But Mr. Cowley and I held our peace, and said nothing of the gay sights around us, lest we should too feelingly remind Mr. Milton of his calamity; whereof, however, he needed no monitor: for soon he said sadly, ‘Ah, Mr. Cowley, you are a happy man. What would I now give but for one more look at the sun, and the waters, and the gardens of this fair city!’

“‘I know not,’ said Mr. Cowley, ‘whether we ought not rather to envy you for that which makes you to envy others: and that specially in this place, where all eyes which are not closed in blindness ought to become fountains of tears. What can we look upon which is not a memorial of change and sorrow, of fair things vanished, and evil things done?’ . . . . ‘Sir, by your favour,’said Mr. Milton, ‘though, from many circumstances, both of body and of fortune, I might plead fairer excuse for
despondency than yourself, I yet look not so sadly either on the past or on the future. That a deluge hath passed over this our nation, I deny not. But I hold it not to be such a deluge as that of which you speak; but rather a blessed flood like those of the Nile, which in its overflow doth indeed wash away ancient landmarks, and confound boundaries, and sweep away dwellings, yea, doth give birth to many foul and dangerous reptiles. Yet hence is the fulness of the granary, the beauty of the garden, the nurture of all living things.’”

The men of opposite opinions argue with temper, though each holds his own. It was not to be expected that Macaulay would hesitate to make Milton more eloquent than Cowley.

“‘When will rulers learn, that where liberty is not, security and order can never be. We talk of absolute power, but all power hath limits, which, if not fixed by the moderation of the governors, will be fixed by the force of the governed. Sovereigns may send their opposers to dungeons; they may clear out a senate-house with soldiers; they may enlist armies of spies; they may hang scores of the disaffected at every cross-road: but what power shall stand in that frightful time when rebellion hath become a less evil than endurance? Who shall dissolve that terrible tribunal, which, in the hearts of the oppressed, denounces against the oppressor the doom of its wild justice? Who shall repeal the law of self-defence? What arms or discipline shall resist the strength of famine and despair? How often were the ancient Caesars dragged from their golden palaces, stripped of their purple robes, mangled, stoned, defiled with filth, pierced with hooks, hurled
into the Tiber! How often have the Eastern sultans perished by the sabres of their own Janissaries, or the bow-strings of their own mutes! For no power which is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them. Small, therefore, is the wisdom of those who would fly to servitude, as if it were a refuge from commotion; for anarchy is the sure consequence of tyranny. That governments may be safe, nations must be free. Their passions must have an outlet provided, lest they make one.’”

Macaulay, in the height of his fame, looked back upon the Conversation between Cowley and Milton with a just pride. And yet it would seem that he could scarcely have felt, when he thus concluded his article on “The Athenian Orators,” that there was something in these Magazine papers of a Cambridge under-graduate which “the world would not willingly let die.”

“A magazine is certainly a delightful invention for a very idle or very busy man. He is not compelled to complete his plan or to adhere to his subject. He may ramble as far as he is inclined, and stop as soon as he is tired. No one takes the trouble to recollect his contradictory opinions or his unredeemed pledges. He may be as superficial, as inconsistent, and as careless as he chooses. Magazines resemble those angels, who, according to the pretty Rabbinical tradition, are generated every morning by the brook which rolls over the flowers of Paradise,—whose life is a song,—who warble till sunset, and then sink back without regret into nothingness. Such spirits have nothing to do with the detecting spear of Ithuriel or the victorious sword of Michael. It is enough for them to please, and be forgotten.”

After the return of Mr. Macaulay, the Quarterly
Magazine went on flourishingly to the completion of the fifth number. The “
Troubadour” of Mr. Praed vied with the “Tryamour” of Mr. Moultrie. Mr. Henry Coleridge produced admirable historical articles on “Mirabeau” and the “Long Parliament.” Mr. Malden wrote papers as entertaining as they were learned on “Lucian’s True History,” and the “Literary History of the Provencals.” In the fourth number appeared “The Bœotian Order of Architecture”—an article upon which I must somewhat dilate, for the purpose of referring to a most extraordinary attempt to restrain the liberty of opinion in matters of taste. The case of “Soane versus Knight,” recorded in the King’s Bench Term Reports, remains as a warning to over-sensitive artists not to sally forth with the heavy ordnance of Law to do battle against the “light artillery” of Criticism.

The Bœotian, or Sixth Order,” professed to be an analytical account of a work on the principles of Architecture, almost unknown in this country. This production of the great Vander von Bluggen set forth canons of Art which had not been lost upon a few modern architects, and which were illustrated in their practice. Mr. Soane, although his name was not mentioned in the article, thought fit, in 1827, to bring an action against me for the libellous matter contained in the publication of 1824. The cause was tried in the Court of King’s Bench on the 12th of June, 1827. The array of counsel for the plaintiff was most formidable—Mr. Gurney, Mr. Brougham, and two juniors. The defendant was fortunate in having retained Mr. Scarlett and Mr. Hill. When Mr. Gurney solemnly read some of the axioms of Vander von Bluggen, contending that they were doubtless intended
to apply to Mr. Soane, there was a titter throughout the court. I was sitting near Mr. Brougham (to whom I had been introduced in the previous November), and looking at me with a face of imperturbable gravity, he whispered, “Oh! you wicked fellow.” I had taken some pains in getting up what may be termed the literature of such actions. The sort of essay which was embodied in the brief of “The Defendant’s Case” is before me. I scarcely need say that Mr. Scarlett interpreted the matter to the jury in a very different form, though much of the substance of his speech was the same as my brief. There was not the least hesitation in the verdict being for the defendant. As this is a question which will never cease to interest Englishmen as long as they enjoy a free press, I may be excused in presenting a short summary of the principles upon which the action for the alleged libel was successfully defended.

The freedom and even licence of criticism, as applied to literature, is too firmly established as a principle to require any vindication. It cannot be doubted that the liberty which is claimed by and permitted to public writers, of commenting without reserve upon the writings of others, has had a most salutary influence upon the morals, the learning, the taste, and the intellectual progress, of this and of every other country. The only limit which is prescribed for the regulation of this freedom is, that the critic should avoid every occasion of personal slander, and that his opinions should be grounded solely upon the merits or demerits of the work that he reviews, without any admixture of private malignity. It has been received as a just principle of such writing, and that principle has been admitted
to be legal by the courts, that the adoption of a vein of satire and ridicule, provided that ridicule be still limited to a man’s works, and does not apply to his moral character, is essential in some cases for the advancement of the cause of truth.

The powers of ridicule in criticism are peculiarly applicable in matters of taste; the false principles of which are not so easily demonstrable by reason and argument, as by those lighter attacks which place an absurdity in a strong and prominent point of view, and deprive it of the force of example and the authority of fashion. Without multiplying instances of the efficacy of this salutary ridicule, it may be sufficient to observe, that knight-errantry was banished from Europe by the Don Quixote of Cervantes,—that the monstrous lies of voyagers, and the absurd speculations of philosophy, were put to shame by Gulliver’s Travels,—that Swift was equally successful in exposing and guarding the public against the absurd pretensions of astrology in Partridge, and the furious ravings of hypercriticism in Dennis,—that a host of immoral and stupid writers were swept away by the Dunciad;—and, to approach nearer our own times, that the false glitter of the Delia Cruscan school of poetry was stript of its pretensions by Mr. Gifford in his “Baviad and Meviad,” and that the philosophical affectation of Darwin was laughed out of reputation by the “Loves of the Triangles” of Mr. Canning. Against all and each of these productions, which are acknowledged to have had a most beneficial influence upon the taste of the periods in which they were produced, ridicule was the sole weapon employed for the correction of daring absurdity or inordinate pretension.


There was no ease in the books of a nature similar to the action of Mr. Soane. Indeed, with the exception of a cause tried before Lord Kenyon, in which the same plaintiff complained of the severity of criticism in a poem called “The Modern Goth,” and complained in vain, no artist of any denomination whatever had sought to establish his reputation by legal proceedings against critical animadversion. That artists had abundant provocation to such legal remedy, if legal remedy could be given them, must be obvious to the most superficial observer of our periodical literature. The painters of portraits, for instance, are peculiarly dependent upon the good opinion of the public, yet what painter of portraits ever thought of coming to a court of justice, for having it affirmed of him that his likenesses were inaccurate, his attitudes vulgar, or his colours jaundiced? The reason of this forbearance is perfectly obvious; for every professor of art must feel that he owes much more to criticism than he can lose by it; and the proper use to make of those animadversions is to improve his own productions.

Criticisms upon architecture have ever been as contemporaneous with the works of art, as criticisms upon literature or upon historic performances. Sir Christopher Wren was attacked with great severity for some supposed incongruities in his churches in London. The records of his feelings are to be found in his posthumous journals. The “Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers” is well known for its classical wit and its caustic severity. Mr. Thomas Hope published a criticism on the works of James Wyatt which actually prevented that eminent architect being employed in the erection of Downing College.
Dr. Milner published a book on the same artist, whose very title, “
On the Spoliation of Churches,” might be construed to be libellous. And lastly, not to descend to meaner instances, the Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy—the plaintiff in the present action—delivered a series of lectures to the students, severely criticising the works of contemporary architects, particularly those of Mr. Smirke. It is impossible to open a periodical publication which treats of matters of art, without perceiving that the utmost freedom of discussion is assumed upon subjects on which the public taste can only be formed by repeated examination and comparison.

In the fifth number of the “Quarterly Magazine” there appeared a miscellaneous paper entitled “The Anniversary.” It was a vehicle for the introduction of a considerable variety of stray contributions. My article had little of originality in its conception; for Blackwood had published something similar, occupying a whole number of his Miscellany. I could scarcely have dreamt that, eight and twenty years afterwards, this piece of merriment would have been received au pied de la lettre; that in a Memoir of Macaulay—“with some account of his early and unknown writings”—so charming a simplicity would have been manifested by this “shilling” biographer, as to demand from him an elaborate abridgment of the narrative of what he terms “a jollification amongst the young contributors” to “Knight’s Quarterly Magazine.” He has, however, a saving clause which may cover a little of his greenery—“The whole affair may have been heightened by the pen of the reporter.”

When the fifth number of the Magazine was
published in July, 1824, I had become acquainted with
Mr. De Quincey; and he had contributed a paper translated, as he purported, from the German of Laun, called “The Incognito.” It was a very lively and pleasant paper; but as to the strict fidelity of the translation I might have had considerable doubts. He could not go about this sort of work without improving all he touched. In November he was engaged upon a translation of “Walladmor,” which some Curll of Germany advertised as the translation of a suppressed work of Sir Walter Scott. Messrs. Taylor and Hessey put the German hoax into the hands of De Quincey to be re-translated. I saw him groaning over his uncongenial labour, by which he eventually got very little. It was projected to appear in three volumes. He despairingly wrote to me, “after weeding out the forests of rubbish, I believe it will make only one decent volume.” At that time he was direly beset with visitations more terrible than the normal poverty of authors. A little before I knew him he had come one morning to my friend Hill, wet and shivering, having slept under a hayrick in the Hampstead fields. I have a letter from him of this period, in which he says, “anxiety, long-continued with me—of late years in consequence of my opium-shattering—seizes on some frail part about the stomach, and produces a specific complaint, which very soon abolishes all power of thinking at all.” In “The Anniversary” I thus introduced De Quincey: “A short spare figure, with an expression in his eye that at once indicated the strength of the man of genius and the weakness of the valetudinarian, advanced with a slow pace of diffidence towards us, and thus addressed us:—‘I fear, sir, that I am an intruder both upon
your interesting conversation and your purposed enjoyments. I was looking round, sir, for my worthy friend, Mr. Paterson Aymer. By his cordial invitation I have been tempted from my solitude, to join a company that I cannot but feel desirous of knowing, though I fear much the weight, the heavy and unutterable weight, of depression that bears me down, will render me an unfit partaker of your intellectual pleasures. Oh, sir, even now do I feel the gnawings of that poison with which I have drugged my veins. Fly the cursed spell, if you would continue to know peace of mind and body. But you will excuse me talking of myself.’ We all looked at each other with surprise. ‘Can it be!’ was on every tongue. ‘May I venture to ask, sir, whom I have the honour of seeing amongst us? Though Mr. Paterson Aymer be not yet arrived, his friends are ours.’ ‘My name, sir, is——; but you have heard of me as a too-celebrated Opium-Eater.’ We all involuntarily bowed; and in two minutes Haller and our illustrious friend were deep in a discussion on political economy, while Murray and Tristram appealed to him, in the intervals of the debate, upon their contrary views of the knowledge of Greek in Europe at the time of

The Macaulay biographer receives this as a curious anecdote of De Quincey, which “indicates that he was fast changing into that little dried-up, parchment-hided man that he became years afterwards.” This it is, to make a book without the least knowledge of the men and things of which it treats. “Dried-up! parchment-hided!” “Oh, for one hour of Dundee!” One hour of De Quincey—better, three hours from nine till midnight—for a rapt
listener to be “under the wand of a magician”—spell-bound by his wonderful affluence of talk, such as that of the fairy whose lips dropped rubies and diamonds. Many a night have I, with my wife by my side, sat listening to the equable flow of his discourse, both of us utterly forgetting the usual regularity of our habits, and hearing the drowsy watchman’s “past one o’clock” (for the old watchman then walked his round) before we parted. There was another newly acquired intimate of that time—
Barry St. Leger—who also had contributed to the “Quarterly Magazine.” Our friendship was of the warmest nature during the remainder of his too short life. The wit-combats between him and De Quincey were most amusing. Never were two men greater contrasts in their intellectual characters. The one passionately rhetorical—the other calmly logical,—the one making a fierce onslaught upon his apparently unwatchful opponent,—the other with a slight turn of his wrist striking the sword out of his adversary’s hand, leaving him defenceless. In the ordinary intercourse of society, St. Leger was self-possessed, perfectly at his ease, ready for every emergency, a man of the world, yet with a heart for friendship as warm as that of a schoolboy. De Quincey, vast as were his acquirements, intuitive as was his appreciation of character and the motives of human actions, unembarrassed as was his demeanour, pleasant and even mirthful his table-talk, was as helpless in every position of responsibility, as when he nightly paced “stony-hearted Oxford Street” looking for the lost one. He was constantly beset by idle fears and vain imaginings. His sensitiveness was so extreme, in combination with the
almost ultra-courtesy of a gentleman, that he hesitated to trouble a servant with any personal requests without a long prefatory apology. My family were in the country in the summer of 1825, when he was staying at my house in Pall Mall East. A friend or two had met him at dinner, and I had walked part of the way home with one of them. When I returned, I tapped at his chamber-door to bid him good night. He was sitting at the open window, habited as a prize-fighter when he enters the ring. “You will take cold,” I exclaimed. “Where is your shirt?” “I have not a shirt—my shirts are unwashed.” “But why not tell the servant to send them to the laundress?” “Ah! how could I presume to do that in
Mrs. Knight’s absence?”

One more illustration of the eccentricity of De Quincey. I had been to Windsor. On my return I was told that Mr. De Quincey had taken his box away, leaving word that he was gone home. I knew that he was waiting for a remittance from his mother, which would satisfy some clamorous creditors and enable him to rejoin his family at Grasmere. Two or three days after, I heard that he was still in town. I obtained a clue to his hiding place, and found him in a miserable lodging on the Surrey side of Waterloo bridge. He had received a large draft on a London banker at twenty-one days’ sight. He summoned courage to go to Lombard Street, and was astonished to learn that he could not obtain the amount till the draft became due. A man of less sensitive feelings would have returned to Pall Mall East, and have there waited securely and comfortably till I came. How to frame his apology to our trusty domestic was the diffi-
culty that sent him into the den where I found him. He produced the draft to me from out of his Bible, which he thought was the best hiding-place. “Come to me to-morrow morning, and I will give you the cash.” “What? how? Can such a thing be possible? Can the amount be got before the draft is due?” “Never fear—come you—and then get home as fast as you can.”

The prospects of the Magazine after the publication of the fifth number were not disheartening. The contributions of Mr. Macaulay, which came to me early, appeared almost sufficient in themselves to bear up the Miscellany, even if the temporary defection of one of its most important and earliest contributors were to continue. The article on “Mitford’s History of Greece” by the future orator and historian, clearly indicates the bent of his studies:

“All wise statesmen have agreed to consider the prosperity or adversity of nations as made up of the happiness or misery of individuals, and to reject as chimerical all notions of a public interest of the community, distinct from the interest of the component parts. It is therefore strange that those whose office it is to supply statesmen with examples and warnings, should omit, as too mean for the dignity of history, circumstances which exert the most extensive influence on the state of society. In general, the undercurrent of human life flows steadily on, unruffled by the storms which agitate the surface. The happiness of the many commonly depends on causes independent of victories and defeats, of revolutions or restorations,—causes which can be regulated by no laws, and which are recorded in no archives. These causes are the things which
it is of main importance to us to know, not how the Lacedaemonian phalanx was broken at Leuctra—not whether
Alexander died of poison or by disease. History, without these, is a shell without a kernel; and such is almost all the history which is extant in the world. Paltry skirmishes and plots are reported with absurd and useless minuteness: but improvements the most essential to the comfort of human life extend themselves over the world, and introduce themselves into every cottage, before any annalist can condescend, from the dignity of writing about generals and ambassadors, to take the least notice of them.”

Perhaps my readers, who may have become somewhat wearied with the eternal reproduction of the famous “New Zealander,” may not turn away from the original sketch of that personage:—

“The dervise, in the Arabian tale, did not hesitate to abandon to his comrade the camels with their load of jewels and gold, while he retained the casket of that mysterious juice which enabled him to behold at one glance all the hidden riches of the universe. Surely it is no exaggeration to say, that no external advantage is to be compared with that purification of the intellectual eye which gives us to contemplate the infinite wealth of the mental world, all the hoarded treasures of its primeval dynasties, all the shapeless ore of its yet unexplored mines. This is the gift of Athens to man. Her freedom and her power have for more than twenty centuries been annihilated; her people have degenerated into timid slaves; her language into a barbarous jargon; her temples have been given up to the successive depredations of Romans, Turks, and Scotchmen; but her intellectual
empire is imperishable. And, when those who have rivalled her greatness shall have shared her fate; when civilization and knowledge shall have fixed their abode in distant continents; when the sceptre shall have passed away from England; when, perhaps, travellers from distant regions shall in vain labour to decipher on some mouldering pedestal the name of our proudest chief; shall hear savage hymns chaunted to some misshapen idol over the ruined dome of her proudest temple; and shall see a single naked fisherman wash his nets in the river of the ten thousand masts,—her influence and her glory will still survive,—fresh in eternal youth, exempt from mutability and decay, immortal as the intellectual principle from which they derived their origin, and over which they exercise their control.”

Mr. Macaulay contributed also to the sixth number “A Prophetic Account of a Grand National Poem, to be entitled ‘The Wellingtoniad,’and to be published A.D. 2824.” It purports to be written by Richard Quongti, “lineally descended from Quongti, the famous Chinese-liberal.” The humour is admirable. But in the introductory account of Quongti, would the author of this clever jeu d’esprit have postponed for a thousand years, had he happily been now living, such a consummation as that alluded to in noticing Quongti’s travels “to the United States of America”? “That tremendous war, which will be fatal to American liberty, will, at that time, be raging through the whole federation. At New York the travellers will hear of the final defeat and death of the illustrious champion of freedom, Jonathan Higginbottom, and of the elevation of Ebenezer Hogsflesh to the perpetual Presidency!”


At the beginning of October I went to Cambridge with Mr. Hill. We arrived on a day of jubilation, for Mr. Macaulay and Mr. Malden had each gained a Trinity fellowship. There was a happy dinner in Mr. Malden’s rooms. But a cloud had come over the bright prospects of the “Quarterly Magazine.” Two of its first supporters were holding back their contributions. “Some trick not worth an egg”—some misunderstanding about the future editorship—had produced a coldness in those with whom I had been most intimate. I was weary and heartsick. I was worn out with anxiety at the dangerous illness of my father. Cares of business were pressing upon me heavily. I had engaged in large undertakings which demanded my constant attention in London, and I had a divided duty at Windsor. The Magazine was a loss and a trouble. With the sixth number I determined to announce that its career was ended.

I had spent a night at my father’s bed-side. The crisis was fast approaching. My wife had been too ill, in Pall Mall East, to take her willing part in this sad office—but, at all risks, she came in time for the end. As the November sun was rising brightly above the trees of the Long Walk, I poured out to her my thoughts in a letter which is before me: “All here is full of pleasing but melancholy associations. How alive the mind is at such seasons. If I look out upon the garden and orchard, the history of almost every tree that he planted, and the recollection of our walks beneath them from my boyhood, force themselves upon me. I feel that I could never be entirely happy in any other place.” The future of my London life loomed dark and
dangerous. My mind rested upon the contented past that had not known many fears.
“Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Che la diritta via era smarrita.”
“In the midway of this our mortal life
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray,
Gone from the path direct.”

Reserving for the next epoch of my “Working Life” the recital of some of its passages in my vocation of a London publisher from 1823 to 1826, I have here to complete my notice of the close of “The Quarterly Magazine.” A glance at the short life of a second series, and at a small experiment upon the public taste which was attempted by me, in conjunction with Mr. Praed and Mr. St. Leger, will be briefly given in the present volume.

The “advertisement” in the concluding Number, wherein I announced the discontinuance of a work which, “as it proceeded, had acquired a considerable distinction amongst the discerning and the intelligent,” was certain to give offence. I was unwilling to offend; but I was sorely wounded. I wrote—“The publisher has lately had to choose between surrendering that responsibility which his duties to society have compelled him to retain, and which has in many cases prevented this work offending those whose esteem is most to be desired, or losing much of the assistance which has given to the ‘Quarterly Magazine’ a peculiar and original character. He could not hesitate in his choice. He would not commit his own opinions to an inexperienced and
incautious dictation; and he prefers the discontinuance of the work to conducting it with diminished talent.”

This led to a controversy. An article appeared in “The Cambridge Chronicle,” written by Mr. Praed. It was more temperate than I had anticipated. He described the Magazine as having been intended originally to assume something of a more classical tone than its periodical contemporaries. He spoke of the publisher as an honest and liberal man, but expressed a somewhat disparaging opinion of his competence to retain the direction of the Magazine permanently and exclusively. I replied in the same newspaper. There was a correspondence between Mr. Praed and myself,—formal and reserved on either side. Willingly would I forget the whole affair, did I not feel it my duty and pleasure to record that, within two months, Mr. Praed spontaneously called upon me, held out once more the hand of friendship, and never afterwards lost an opportunity of testifying his goodwill towards me. He took no part in the continuation of the “Quarterly Magazine.” In the editorship of its one number, published in the autumn of 1825, Mr. Malden assisted. In its general tone it was much more sober—and of course less interesting—than its predecessor. It might have made its way; for one of the great wholesale houses in Paternoster Row proposed to take a share in it, after its first appearance. The Panic came, and disposed of this and of many other schemes.

Mr. Derwent Coleridge had returned to assist in rearing our callow Phœnix. His paper on “The Chevalier Bayard” is curious, as showing how the romantic, in the mind of a man of real talent,
may gradually slide into the practical. It thus opens:

“‘When men change swords for ledgers’—we think they do exceeding well. The thirst for gold is at least as respectable as the thirst for blood; and though the language and sentiments of the counting-house be not quite so poetical as those of the field, yet we think the latter ill purchased at the price which has been paid for them, by cutting off heads, and hewing off arms and legs.”

In the same spirit—whilst, at the same time, the author does full justice to the character of Bayard—we have this bit of vigorous truth:—

“When we read of a stout and well-fed nobleman, cased in all the iron he could support, and mounted on a great horse, as it was emphatically termed; when we read of a baron, thus fortified, sallying forth from his castle for forty days, and pouncing on a rabble of half-armed and half-starved foot soldiers, like Don Quixote on the flock of sheep, with an excellent chance besides of having his life spared, should the worst come to the worst, for the sake of his ransom,—shall we be ravished from ourselves by any enthusiastic sympathy with such heroism, or compare for a moment the courage here exhibited, with that of a modern officer at the head of his troop? For the tournay, nothing could be more safe, gothic, and absurd; nor can we understand with what colour of reason the chroniclers attribute to a young champion any extraordinary valour for engaging in such conflicts, though with the prowest knight in Christentie, when the utmost risk he runs is that of being jerked off his horse, somewhat more rudely indeed than one falls in a
riding-school, but with little more danger indeed, either to limb or life, than a country gentleman incurs three times a week in a fox chase. Yet many of them seem to record the feats of the tournay with a yet fonder admiration than those of actual war.”

Of the liberal but essentially religious spirit in which theological questions were approached by young men of Cambridge, before the days of Pusey and Arnold, of high-church and broad-church, we may judge from a passage in a learned and impartial review of the newly discovered work of Milton, “On Christian Doctrine”:—

“We have heard it lamented by some that this volume should be drawn from its obscurity, as they imagine its heterodox and strange opinions may hurt the character of Milton, or tend to injure the cause of religion by depriving some tenets of the assistance to be given them by the example of the great Christian poet. We cannot enter into these fears or scruples. No man’s character is injured by holding conscientiously any opinion, or by supporting it by the fair and lawful weapons of argument and erudition. He who pretends to opinions in which he does not believe, or promulgates his own doctrines by objectionable means, suffers indeed in character; but these are charges from which the fame of Milton is free. As for the other objection, that the cause of some of the most vital tenets of Christianity may suffer by the arguments, or the example, of our author, that is a base and unworthy dread. The cause of truth cannot be injured by any argument, or shaken by the defection of men, no matter how endowed with the gifts of genius or the acquisitions of learning.”


De Quincey had written to me in December, 1824, in the belief that, as he expressed it, “many of your friends will rally about you, and urge you to some new undertaking of the same kind. If that should happen I beg to say, that you may count upon me, as one of your men, for any extent of labour, to the best of my power, which you may choose to command.” He wrote a translation of “The Love Charm” of Tieck, with a notice of the author. This is not reprinted in his collected works, though perhaps it is the most interesting of his translations from the German. In this spring and summer of 1825, De Quincey and I were in intimate companionship. It was a pleasant time of intellectual intercourse for me. My father, a little before his last illness, had far advanced in building a cottage, by the side of his own, for my family to occupy. That hope of his heart to have us near him was not fulfilled. But in that summer we spent much of our time there. Mr. Praed and Mr. Moultrie were living at Eton as private tutors. They had taken a great liking to my friend Mr. Tarver, and were most assiduous in promoting his interests, as French master at the college. In his society, after he came to reside at Windsor when the war was at an end, I had found a clever and accomplished companion, who had the peculiar advantage of knowing intimately both the French and English languages, and was familiar with the literature of both countries. He was born and bred up in France,—but was of English parents. Mr. Malden came to visit me for a week or two. There was a re-union in which all unpleasantnesses were forgotten. When I went to London, I was associated with Hill, and St. Leger, and De Quincey, who each
thoroughly relished the conversation of the others. De Quincey, as I have incidentally mentioned, went away home in the summer of 1825. We were all truly sorry to part with this valued friend, whose eccentricities made him even more dear to us—whose helplessness under the direst pressure of want of means, brought no feeling of contempt, for his abilities and learning commanded our reverence. We scarcely knew then what he had to endure during his London sojourn. We may now judge of his miseries from a letter which he wrote to
Professor Wilson in February, 1825:—

“At this time calamity presses upon me with a heavy hand. . . . . At this moment I have not a place to hide my head in.” (Mrs. Gordon’sChristopher North,’ vol. ii. p. 79.) He left London in the summer, exulting in the prospect of freedom from debt, and from the necessity that had pressed upon him “to maintain the war with the wretched business of hack author, with all its degradations.” (Ibid.) I occasionally had a warm-hearted letter from him; but our correspondence, after a year or two, had ceased. I was delighted at its renewal in July 1829, when he wrote me the most pressing invitation from Mrs. De Quincey and himself, to come, with my wife and children, to visit them. He had quitted his home at the Lakes in 1827, to remain in Edinburgh for two years, writing, but separated for the greater part of the time from his family. Wonderfully characteristic are some passages of this letter: “Well, by good management and better luck, I contrived early in this present year to silence mes Anglois (as the French do, or did, use to entitle creditors). This
odious race of people were silenced, I say, or nearly so: no insolent dun has raised his disgusting voice against me since Candlemas 1829; they now speak softly, and as if butter would not melt in their mouths; and I have so well planted my fire-engines, for extinguishing this horrid description of nuisance, that if by chance any one should smoulder a little too much (flame out, none durst for shame), him I shall souse and drench forthwith into quietness.” Whilst “this great operation” was in progress he had been negotiating for the purchase of a “rich farm-house, flowing with milk and honey, with mighty barns and spacious pastures,” in the vicinity of his cottage at Grasmere. “‘Purchasing,’ you say, ‘what the devil?’ Don’t swear, my dear friend; you know there is such a thing as buying a thing and yet not paying for it, or, at least, paying only the annual interest. Well, that is what I do, can do, and will do. For hear, finally, that the thing is done.” To this farm of Rydal Hay, from which he had written to me, were we to be welcomed. Mighty was the temptation, but mightier the difficulty in the days before railways. “And now, my friend, think what a glorious El Dorado of milk and butter and cream cheeses, and all other dairy products, supposing that you like those things, I can offer you morning, noon, and night. You may absolutely bathe in new milk, or even in cream; and you shall bathe, if you like it. I know that you care not much about luxuries for the dinner table; else, though our luxuries are few and simple, I could offer you some temptations: mountain lamb equal to Welsh; char famous to the antipodes; trout and pike from the very lake within twenty-five feet of our door; bread, such as you have never pre-
sumed to dream of, made of our own wheat, not doctored and separated by the usual miller’s process into fine insipid flour, and coarse, that is, merely dirty-looking white, but all ground down together—which is the sole receipt (experto crede) for having rich, lustrous, red-brown, ambrosial bread; new potatoes, of celestial earthiness and raciness, which, with us, last to October; and, finally, milk, milk, milk—cream, cream, cream (hear it, thou benighted Londoner!) in which you must and shall bathe.”

In the spring of 1826, St. Leger and I,—at a time when there was little prospect of publishing books with any success,—thought that a smart weekly sheet might have some hold upon the London public, who were sick of all money questions, and wanted something like fun in that gloomy season of commercial ruin. We went to Eton to consult Praed. He entered most warmly and kindly into the project. We settled that “The Brazen Head” should be its title; and that “The Friar” and “The Head” should discourse upon human affairs, chiefly under the management of our brilliant associate. For ourselves, we had a supplementary machinery, that of “Harlequin,” whose laughing face had been too long hidden by a wretched black mask, and who had been too long doomed to perpetual silence,—a woeful contrast to the overflowing wit of his dear Italian days. We had four weeks of this pleasantry; and, what was not an advantage, we had nearly all the amusement to ourselves; for the number of our purchasers was not “Legion.” Yet in the “Brazen Head” there are poems of Praed—(unknown, from the scarcity of these sixty-four pages, to the Americans who have printed three editions of his poems)—which
are every way worthy of that genius which his countrymen will he soon permitted more fairly to appreciate in an edition of all his poetical pieces, issued by an English publisher. There is one poem purporting to be a chaunt of The Head while the Friar falls asleep, which exhibits the remarkable power of blending earnestness with levity, philosophy with jest, so peculiarly characteristic of Praed’s happiest vein:

“I think, whatever mortals crave,
With impotent endeavour,
A wreath,—a rank,—a throne,—a grave,—
The world goes round for ever;
I think that life is not too long,
And therefore I determine
That many people read a song,
Who will not read a sermon.
“I think you’ve look’d through many hearts,
And mused on many actions,
And studied man’s component parts,
And nature’s compound fractions;
I think you’ve picked up truth by bits
From foreigner and neighbour,
I think the world has lost its wits,
And you have lost your labour.
“I think the studies of the wise,
The hero’s noisy quarrel,
The majesty of woman’s eyes,
The poet’s cherish’d laurel;
And all that makes us lean or fat,
And all that charms or troubles,—
This bubble is more bright than that,
But still they all are bubbles.
“I think the thing you call Renown,
The unsubstantial vapour
For which the soldier burns a town,
The sonnetteer a taper,
Is like the mist which, as he flies,
The horseman leaves behind him;
He cannot mark its wreaths arise,
Or, if he does, they blind him.
‘I think one nod of mistress Chance
Makes creditors of debtors,
And shifts the funeral for the dance,
The sceptre for the fetters;
I think that Fortune’s favour’d guest
May live to gnaw the platters;
And he that wears the purple vest
May wear the rags and tatters.
“I think the Tories love to buy
‘Your Lordships’ and ‘Your Graces,’
By loathing common honesty,
And lauding common-places;
I think that some are very wise,
And some are very funny,
And some grow rich by telling lies,
And some by telling money.
“I think the Whigs are wicked knaves,
And very like the Tories,
Who doubt that Britain rules the waves.
And ask the price of glories;
I think that many fret and fume
At what their friends are planning,
As much as Mr. Canning.
“I think that friars and their hoods,
Their doctrines and their maggots,
Have lighted up too many feuds,
And far too many faggots;
I think while zealots fast and frown,
And fight for two or seven,
That there are fifty roads to town,
And rather more to Heaven.
“I think that, thanks to Paget’s lance,
And thanks to Chester’s learning,
The hearts that burned for fame in France,
At home are safe from burning;
I think the Pope is on his back,
And, though ’tis fun to shake him,
I think the Devil not so black
As many people make him.
“I think that Love is like a play
Where tears and smiles are blended,
Or like a faithless April day,
Whose shine with shower is ended;
Like Colnbrook pavement, rather rough,
Like trade exposed to losses,
And like a Highland plaid, all stuff,
And very full of crosses.
“I think the world, though dark it be,
Has aye one rapturous pleasure,
Conceal’d in life’s monotony,
For those who seek the treasure;
One planet in a starless night,—
One blossom on a briar,—
One friend not quite a hypocrite,—
One woman not a liar!
“I think poor beggars court St. Giles,
Rich beggars court St. Stephen;
And Death looks down with nods and smiles,
And makes the odds all even;
I think some die upon the field,
And some upon the billow,
And some are laid beneath a shield,
And some beneath a willow.
“I think that very few have sigh’d,
When Fate at last has found them,
Though bitter foes were by their side,
And barren moss around them;
I think that some have died of drought,
And some have died of drinking;—
I think that nought is worth a thought,
And I’m a fool for thinking!”

“I think” my readers wilt not complain of the length of this reprint. I could not select stanzas
without injury to the unity of thought. The poem, after having been published six-and-thirty years, is far less known than was
Macaulay’s famous “Election Ballad” of 1827, before the “Quarterly Review” disentombed it from the columns of “The Times.”

I must hold my hand. I must look forward to my proper work of sober narrative in the next stage of life’s journey—to trace the progress of education—the growth of popular literature. The following lines from the “Arlechino Parlante” of “The Brazen Head”—the Harlequin “who everything changes”—verses which St. Leger and I produced in happy association, are suggestive of the opening, in a new condition of society, for labours that might be useful to my fellow-men:
“I have whistled up sprites to bestow my new lights
On all that is ancient, exclusive, and dark;—
I have spread around knowledge—I build London College—
I have steam on the Thames, I have gas in the Park.
No longer a minister frowns and looks sinister,
When philosophy mingles with maxims of state;
Economical squires deride their grand-sires,
And reasoning citizens lead the debate.”