LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Chapter II. 1794-1807.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
‣ Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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Of Eton life at the end of the last and beginning of the present century there is no very exact record. Although the discomforts of Long Chamber, the abuse of the fagging system, and the other various defects of diet, discipline, and accommodation which have so often and so feelingly been described by those who were subjected to them, had not, perhaps, at this period, reached their height, yet the condition of the collegers was certainly not such as Henry VI. intended it to be, and Hodgson, from boyhood until the end of his life, always entertained earnest wishes for its improvement. How these wishes were eventually fulfilled the account of his Provostship will show.

Mr. John Keate, afterwards the renowned Head Master Dr. Keate, was Hodgson’s tutor at Eton, and maintained a cordial friendship with him throughout
his life. When in 1840 it was suggested to Hodgson that he should stand for the Provostship, he refused to do so until he had ascertained that his old friend and tutor had ceased to desire it.

Among his Eton contemporaries were many boys who were subsequently distinguished in Church and State. William Lamb, afterwards the great Lord Melbourne, John Bird Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lancelot Shadwell, the Vice-Chancellor, George Thackeray, Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, Henry Drury, the distinguished Harrow Master, were, by a few years, his seniors at Eton; while among his juniors were Scrope Davies and Charles Skinner Matthews, of both of whom Byron has left an interesting account, John Lonsdale, Bishop of Lichfield, Benjamin Heath Drury, the witty and original Eton Master, and Gally Knight, the antiquary and writer upon art. With all of these Hodgson was more or less intimate in after years; while with Edward Craven Hawtrey, who was several years younger, he subsequently formed a warm friendship which he maintained until the end of his life.

At Eton his love of learning was fully indulged, and he wandered widely over the fields of French and English literature without, in any measure, sacrificing that which, at the period of which we are speaking,
was considered the one essential of an Eton education, classical scholarship, elegant as well as accurate. A manuscript copy of his ‘Ludi Juveniles,’ written in 1798, contains many Greek and Latin verses of a very high order of merit, while the soundness and solidity of his classical knowledge is amply attested by several terse and vigorous Latin essays. In 1799 he was elected to a scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge, where he took the usual degrees, being excluded from public classical competition by the prejudicial restrictions then imposed upon Kingsmen. His own description of his college at this period expresses forcibly how detrimental such restrictions were to the best interests of University education.

Our having all been at the same school certainly deadened emulation by placing us in that rank at Cambridge in which we relatively stood at Eton. Neither had we any public honours to contend for; and ambition thus too often expired in indolence.

The force of this observation is not materially affected by the fact that King’s is pre-eminent among colleges for the number of its distinguished ‘alumni.’ The excellence of the Eton education which all Kingsmen had previously enjoyed was at all times exceptional, and the impossibility of gaining Univer-
sity distinction may have acted as an incentive to increased exertion in the great contest of life, upon those ardent spirits who did not accept the honours which their Alma Mater can bestow as the highest summit of human ambition. One of the necessary evils of the competitive system is undoubtedly to be found in the fact that in many cases it affixes too final and conclusive an estimate of a young man’s powers. If in his own opinion, as well as in that of his contemporaries, a youth of twenty-two or twenty-three leaves college with the brand of a second or third class upon him, there is certainly danger, unless his temperament is unusually sanguine, that he should accept the examiner’s decision as final. It may be argued with undoubted truth that real merit will make its way against all such temporary obstacles; but when we consider the many circumstances which may contribute to unmerited failure—such, for instance, as illness at the times of the examinations, the almost irresistible influences of a fast and noisy college, the want of pecuniary means to complete the full University career, too often necessitating the work of tuition in vacations in order to eke out a scanty income—we cannot but feel the utter unfairness of which many narrow-minded persons are guilty when they accept that certificate as final which in reality
merely announces what a man has done at a certain period of his life, and gives no conclusive clue whatever to what he can do.

One special advantage may, moreover, be mentioned in connection with the absence of competitive examinations. Not being required to be constantly engaged in preparation of a special character, a naturally studious youth had leisure for far more extensive reading than would otherwise have been possible, and perhaps was sufficiently compensated for the loss of University prizes by the acquirement of a wider and more general stock of knowledge.

But notwithstanding the impossibility of public competition, Francis Hodgson’s abilities were not overlooked, and by those of his contemporaries who were most competent to judge he was considered as one of the best classical scholars of his time at Cambridge.

His vacations were spent chiefly at Croydon, and at Lower Moor in Herefordshire, the home of his mother’s kindred, the Cokes; and his home studies, carried on under his father’s supervision, were participated in by a young nobleman, who was destined to attain to the highest eminence. Two of his father’s pupils at this time were sons of a brother-Carthusian the first Lord Liverpool. The eldest of
these brothers, then
Lord Hawkesbury, became afterwards, as second Lord Liverpool, one of the most illustrious Prime Ministers who ever presided over the destinies of this country. With him Mr. Hodgson read, among other subjects, Locke’s two great works on ‘The Conduct of the Understanding’ and ‘The Essay on the Human Understanding;’ and it was, doubtless, during these early holiday readings that Francis Hodgson imbibed that taste for metaphysical studies which subsequently led to his being appointed to the lectureship on metaphysics in his college. With the younger brother1, Cecil Jenkinson, who was a few years his junior, Hodgson formed a warm boyish friendship, and in their studies and amusements they appear to have derived mutual satisfaction from one another’s society. The following are some of the authors which are recorded as having been among those which they read together:—Plato, Demosthenes, Homer, Cicero (with ‘Middleton’s Life’), Sir W. Raleigh’sPersian History,’ Bacon on ‘The Advancement of Learning.’ Lord Liverpool’s views on his son’s education, though full of sound sense and judgment, may, doubtless, be thought peculiar in the present day. But they are interesting as an illustration of the idea of a liberal education entertained by an

1 Afterwards third Lord Liverpool.

intelligent nobleman at the commencement of the present century.


To read Herodotus till Cecil appears tired of it. Then to read Xenophon’sAnabasis,’ and then to read Plato’sPhædo’ and some of his other dialogues. Whenever he has finished these, which will probably be in the course of the year, then to resume Homer, and to read about eight more books, as Mr. Hall says the Westminster scholars always read in the whole twelve books before they come to Christ Church, and never more.


To begin with reading the ‘Third Decad of Livy,’ or some part of Cicero’s works, or to take them occasionally, one after the other. Of Cicero’s works Lord L. doubts whether Cecil had not better read the ‘Quæstiones Academicæ;’ and he is of opinion that he should continue to read one or other of these books till the beginning of the summer, when he may read two of the ‘Satires’ of Juvenal—that is, those translated by Johnson—and one of the best ‘Satires’ of Persius. These will lead him to read with effect Horace’s ‘Epistles and
Satires;’ his understanding will by that time probably be equal fully to comprehend the sense and wit of Horace’s writings, and he will be able to compare the different characters of the three Roman satirists. Lord Liverpool wishes that Cecil’s reading in Latin with
Mr. Hodgson may conclude with a book or two of Tacitus; but this should be his last business. Any intermediate time may be filled up with reading again Virgil’sGeorgics,’ some of Martial’s best ‘Epigrams,’ or a play or two of Terence, or perhaps a book of Claudian.


Cecil has read so many English books that Lord L. is at a loss to recommend what book he should read after he has finished Sir Walter Raleigh’s History. He has lent him Lord Molesworth’s account of ‘The Revolution in Denmark,’ and an old ‘History of the Czar Peter the First.’ Lord Molesworth’s book is an excellent one, and he wishes him to read this soon, because he may then read Vertot’sRevolutions of Sweden,’ which contains a short but excellent account of the history of that country to the death of the first Gustavus, and this book is truly classical. He should then
read the
life of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who, in conjunction with Cardinal Richelieu, broke the power of the House of Austria. He may then read Voltaire’sCharles XII.,’ who destroyed the power of the Swedish monarchy by his mad conceits. This is an amusing book, but not a good one. He may also read Vertot’s ‘Revolution of Portugal,’ which is excellent, and as amusing as any novel that ever was written. Lord Liverpool will send him Cartesa’sHistory of Catharine II.,’ which Lord H.1 commends greatly, and says it contains more information respecting the Russian empire than any book he ever met with. It is singular that Cecil hardly ever reads either any English or French poetry. He has said repeatedly to Lord L. that he ought to read these books and that he is determined to read them, though they give him no great pleasure; and it is observable that after he has begun any book of this kind he generally lays it aside. It would not be right to press him upon this point; he will probably take these sorts of books up, at some future period, when he can relish them; but Lord L. submits to Mr. Hodgson whether, when they are in want of some English book to read together, they

1 Lord Holland (?).

might not read
Milton’sParadise Lost,’ and perhaps Shakespeare’s play of ‘Othello,’ which in point of composition is the most correct of all his plays.


Cecil, while he has been at home during these short holidays, has applied himself to Algebra, and appears to have made some progress in it and begins to find it not difficult. He should be left to proceed in this branch of knowledge as his inclination may direct him.—In the foregoing plan Lord L. has endeavoured to trace his general ideas, as it will be some time now before he returns to Addiscombe. He does not mean, however, that these ideas should be pursued either in contradiction to the judgment of Mr. Hodgson, or to any particular inclinations which Cecil may occasionally disclose. He is certain that the best way of instructing a young man, with a view to eminence, is to suffer him to pursue those studies for which he shows the greatest inclination, and to which his talents are more particularly fitted.

This plan was supplemented by a letter written soon afterwards.

London: January 4, 1800.

Dear Sir,—I have thought much on the paper I gave you respecting the future plan of Cecil’s education. I wrote it in a great hurry, and traced out in general what occurred to me. I wish only that such parts of it may be executed, as may appear to you to be practicable, and may not, from its labour, give any disgust to my son; my great object, however, is that as long as he is under your tuition, he should direct his principal attention to the Greek and Latin languages. His general reading both in English and French has been so very extensive, and so far exceeds what has usually been read by a person of his age, that any further progress therein ought to give way to his improvement in the two learned languages. These he can only learn at present. The former he may resume at any time, and I have no doubt that his natural disposition will incline him to resume it. I have already observed, in the paper I gave you, that as his pursuit in mathematics is a favourite object of his own he should be left to proceed in that at leisure times as his inclination may direct him. I am sorry to give you this trouble, but I have thought it right in this manner freely to explain myself, as you must be sensible how much I have this object at heart,
and how much I am interested in my son’s future welfare. I beg my best compliments to
Mrs. Hodgson, and I am, my dear sir, with great regard,

Your faithful, humble servant,

A boyish letter from the subject of this anxious father’s solicitude to his friend Francis Hodgson, at Cambridge, presents, in its light-hearted simplicity, an amusing contrast.

My dear Frank,—I must make you a great many apologies for not having written before, which I assure you I have not had time to do. We have gone on in the old way since I saw you, and have finished the ‘Life of Agricola’ and the third book of Xenophon’sAnabasis.’ I was glad to hear you were so fortunate as to meet with some of your friends in the stage-coach in which you returned to Cambridge. I hope you do not find the college very empty and dull. I have, since you left Croydon, read that novel you were so much pleased with, ‘Castle St. Donats.’ I like it very much, except the last volume. Is Bacon returned to college? if he is, pray remember me to him. Your father has begun to make preparations for his
departure hence; we next week remove to the dining-room, and prosecute our studies there, as the library is to be totally gutted. Pray write to me soon and let me know how ‘
Josephus’ goes on, which Mr. H. informs me you have begun. I have been but once a-shooting since I saw you; I shot one snipe, the first I ever killed in my life. Have you been after the hounds lately?

I am, dear Frank,
Yours sincerely,
C. Jenkinson.

The departure alluded to in this letter refers to Mr. Hodgson’s removal to Barwick-in-Elmet, near Leeds, a valuable Yorkshire living which Lord Liverpool’s influence had procured for him from the Chancellor. This removal, although it brought with it an increase of fortune, must, for many reasons, have been a source of regret. The neighbourhood of Croydon at this period was by no means devoid of interest. From 1793 to 1802 the vicarage was held by the Rev. John Ireland, afterwards the distinguished Dean of Westminster, and founder of the Greek scholarship at Oxford which bears his name; and his old friend and schoolfellow William Gifford, author of the ‘Baviad’ and ‘Mæviad,’ and editor of the ‘Quarterly
Review,’ was a frequent visitor at the vicarage. Both of these eminent scholars and men of letters were acquainted with Francis Hodgson in his youth and early manhood, and took a kindly and considerate interest in his career.

About the year 1800 Louis Philippe paid a visit to Addiscombe, and young Hodgson had the honour of meeting him—an honour which was renewed under somewhat different circumstances forty years afterwards, at Windsor Castle.

At Cambridge several valuable friendships were added to those already formed at Eton and Croydon. Thomas Denman, the future Chief Justice, and John Herman Merivale, were undergraduates at St. John’s; Robert Bland, editor of the ‘Anthology,’ was at Pembroke; Harry Drury was a fellow of King’s. With all of these Hodgson formed affectionate intimacies, which were only terminated by death. A kind of club was founded for the promotion of good fellowship and sociability; letters were constantly interchanged in prose and verse, on subjects of religion, politics, philosophy, classical and modern literature; and the warmest interest was maintained by these kindred spirits in their mutual advancement and success. About the year 1801 Harry Drury was appointed to a classical mastership at Harrow, and
Hodgson writes to him from
Hawtrey’s 1 rooms at King’s:—

Dear Drury,—I am heartily glad to hear that you have recovered your health so far as to go into school. Bethell2 reports this, and your brother3 tells me you hoped to do so when you last wrote to him. I hope you are now in no danger of a relapse, and have dismissed your glomy ideas as to retaining an enemy within:
Musis amicus tristitiam et metus
Tradas severis in caput hostium
Portare curis.
I promised you last night the conclusion of my long strain of nonsense.

Here follow some half-humorous, half-serious lines on matters of mutual interest, a few of which may be quoted as an amusing comment on public school manners and customs of the period, and as proving the writer’s early desire for their amendment.

Yes, I could wish our rich and noble fools
Restrain’d in vices and curtail’d in dress;
Much could I wish that all our public schools 4
Were better managed or encouraged less.

1 Afterwards Vicar of Broad Chalke, Wilts, and uncle to Provost Hawtrey.

2 Fellow of Eton.

3Benjamin Drury, Master at Eton. 4 Except Harrow, of course.—F. H.

If learning’s stores were open to the mind,
If emulation woke the dormant flame,
If labour nerved us, ere we simply dined,
And weekly washings exercised my dame.
If holy worship claim’d respectful awe,
If good example taught the young to pray,
If Decency did not proceed from Law,
Nor discipline usurp the Sabbath Day.

You shall have no more original farrago for some time. But now you have got into school again, I shall hope to hear oftener from you; perhaps you’ll say you are more engaged, but I know at night you can find time to send me some poetry. I mean to begin the study of history from the Creation—old A. recommends Josephus. Is it not better to read in English what is not well done in Greek or Latin? Prettyman and Prideaux are surely preferable to Josephus and Dio Cassius. Dr. A. has written a plan of study, and says from Lipsius ‘Triennii res est.’ Now two years of my scholarship are over, and I don’t think ten would suffice to get through the doctor’s plan. It was sent from Croydon to a young nobleman here many years ago. He never looked into it, and I must confess it frightens me. Enough of Mr. Erskine’s monosyllable here, you’ll say. Is not Wegotism a good name for that style, which, in-
stead of ‘Ego et mea,’ pesters you with ‘nos nostraque’ when used by only one author? B. is very correct, and as good-natured and stupid as ever. Adieu, and believe me yours sincerely,

F. H.

P.S. Pray send me your translations from Statius. I don’t mind double or even treble letters.

When single letters cost a shilling this was a stronger proof of friendship than it might be considered in the present day.

Having taken his degree, Hodgson obtained a private tutorship to the sons of Lady Ann Lambton, who had been married a second time to Mr. Wyndham. The eldest of these pupils was afterwards created Earl of Durham, and attained considerable eminence as Governor-General of British North America. His sister married Byron’s relative, Major Howard, who fell at Waterloo, and to whom so touching an allusion is made in the Third Canto of ‘Childe Harold.’

This charge continued three years, and Hodgson appears to have felt the restraint extremely irksome, and to have constantly chafed at the drudgery of ‘gerund-grinding,’ although he speaks with gratitude of the kindness and consideration which he experi-
enced. His genial and affectionate nature longed for the society of his friends, and found its chief consolation in constant correspondence. It was about this time that he conceived the idea of writing a translation of ‘
Juvenal,’ and this occupation also afforded considerable relief to a mind which was daily growing more and more melancholy while engaged in the tedious pursuits which were necessarily imposed upon it.

During a vacation spent in Devonshire he paid a visit to his friend’s father, the former head master of Harrow, of whom Byron used to speak as the dear Drury, in contradistinction to his successor, whom he maliciously designated the cheap Butler, but whom he afterwards learned to estimate at his proper value. To Dr. Drury’s kindly appreciation of youthful talent Hodgson bears testimony in a letter written from Exmouth to his friend at Harrow.

I am sitting in a room which looks immediately upon your father’s house. There I have had a look at it. We returned from Cockwood1 yesterday after a very pleasant stay of two days. It was to me quite a delightful break. On the Thursday Sir George Dallas, rather a quiz, but good-humoured and entertaining; Mr. Blencowe, a most clever and gentlemanly old Etonian, who told many good

1 Dr. Drury’s.

stories which are for your future ear; Mr. Hoare, an interesting deaf person (quite unlike the Provost of King’s1), your father and mother, Charles Nicholson, and I were of the party. On Friday morning I got up early and transcribed some parallel passages from
Boileau, and some illustrations from Dio in the library. I have given your father the conclusion of my tenth Satire. He has been of considerable service to me with regard to accuracy in the former parts; and he very kindly took an interest in my notes, referred to Denon, Tacitus, Pausanias, &c. (but you had stolen the Strabo), and threw much light upon Ombites and Tentyrkes and Memnon’s statue. I congratulated him upon your success at Harrow. He said he hoped you would not build, and asked me if I did not think he had built enough for you at Cockwood. Upon the whole I had a most agreeable visit, and before I leave Exmouth shall certainly take advantage of his reinvitation and go and see him again.

This second visit elicited one of those rhyming epistles in which Hodgson and his friends were wont to communicate to one another their current fancies and feelings on subjects of mutual interest, and from

1 Humphrey Sumner.

which a few extracts may be found interesting, not only from their natural ease and freshness but as specimens of a style of correspondence which has now long been obsolete.

The same to the same.
Clifton: Wednesday night.

Dear Drury,—We go to Chepstow to-morrow. On Sunday Mr. Merivale very kindly took us to Fordlands, &c, &c., a beautiful drive, and dined with us at Cockwood, where I slept, and went, next morning, to Bishop’s Teignton, to see my uncle and aunt. On the road I made the following verses for you:—

Alone, on horseback, from the wood of Cock,
To Dawlish town I took my early way,
View’d the mild ocean from the lofty rock,
And felt the cooling breath of pleasant May.
Now every field in smiling green array’d,
Puts forth the promise of the fruitful spring,
The rising hedgerows shoot a deeper shade,
And joyous birds in flowery meadows sing.
I too to friendship raise the glowing strain,
Warn’d by remembrance of my Father’s home,
In careless dreams shake off my servile chain,
And far to Harrow’s verdant upland roam.
Oh soon exulting o’er the much-loved hill,
By Freedom led thy happy friend shall run,
See the proud aspens lift their honours still,
And the vale glittering with the genial sun.
And soon o’er Uxbridge’ rabbit-cover’d moor
Shall stumbling Lightfoot1 show his speckled gray,
We’ll haste delighted to our Osborne’s door,
And spend with him a memorable day.
Haply at times, when eve remits your toil,
We’ll range together o’er the dewy field,
And press with eager step the turfy soil,
On thy light down, O distant Harrow weald.
And then, should Fancy with seductive eye
Onward to Stanmore’s environs allure,
Should Reservoir excite a tender sigh,
This faithful heart shall offer Friendship’s cure.
Back to their cottage shall the brothers go,
And sit conversing o’er the social board,
Share equal portions of imparted woe,
And share the joy poetic dreams afford.
Lower Moor:2 June 2.

Dear Drury,—All intermediate accounts must be deferred till we meet. Suffice it to say now that I have found, as ever from childhood, an affectionate reception here. We leave the place on Saturday, I believe, and before the end of the next week, perhaps, we may meet. But now consider in secret this important question, that you may be able to decide upon your friend’s future prospects in life. Denman has offered me a private tutorship to the son of a Mr. Oswald of Ayrshire, a very rich man,

1 A favourite horse. 2 The Rev. Francis Coke’s.

the boy going to Eton. But I cannot conquer my aversion to private tutorships. The Law all my friends set their faces against. Give me your advice, when we meet.

F. H.

Another letter written in a similar strain of anxious uncertainty concludes with a few somewhat desponding lines in anticipation of the flight of time.

Then age a gloom on all our club shall throw,
And sterner wisdom sit on Denman’s brow;
Vocal no more, shall Bland’s high spirits fall,
And Walford’s treble voice be none at all.
Then Nature’s sons shall learn dishonest art,
And e’en my Merivale be hard of heart.
O long protracted be the fatal day,
That steals, unpitying, all our joys away,
The joke, the gybe, the jeer, that only find
A moment’s meaning in the kindred mind.

John Herman Merivale, alluded to in these lines, fully deserved the implied compliment. A kinder-hearted man, or one more unselfishly interested in his friend’s welfare, never breathed. Hearing that Hodgson was dissatisfied and depressed by his present circumstances, he wrote the following cheerful effusion:—

Dear Hodgson,—In the letter which Bland and I, desultorily as usual, composed at the half-way
house last Saturday I said nothing on the subject of yours which I had just then received—because of course I said not a word to him about it. But your melancholy strains gave me much room for reflection both going and coming; and reflection presented itself in a poetical form. Such as my thoughts were, take them.

Life is not made to flow in smooth delight,
Nor to be lost in unavailing sorrow;
It is a chequer’d scene of dark and light,
The clouds scarce form’d to-day may burst to-morrow.
It is for action given, for mental force,
For deeds of energetic hardihood;
There is no time for wailing and remorse,
There is no room for dreary solitude.
There is no day doth pass but teems with fate,
No fleeting hour but alteration brings;
O’er this our perishable mortal state
Variety for ever waves her wings.
Vain is the lay, tho’ couch’d in sacred writ,
That Israel’s fastidious monarch sung,
Tho’ since usurp’d by many an idle wit,
By many a melancholy sophist’s tongue.
Let not my ‘Narva’1 then of change complain,
A change which governs our sublunar sphere;
Nor waste in fond regret and listless pain
The hours assign’d to generous action here.

1 The name of a book which the friends had lately been reading, and the title of which was transferred as a soubriquet to Hodgson.

The dreams of lawless youth, ’tis true, are fled,
The glass brisk-circling and the jovial song,
The careless heart, the wild fantastic head
That to the early burst of life belong;—
All these are past;—perhaps with them are flown
Some cherished visions yet more closely twined,
Which soon Delusion fondly called her own,
And Fate, unpitying, claims to be resign’d.
Perhaps the parting pang was worse than all
That studious tyrants could invent of pain;
Perhaps—but ah! thy tortured thoughts recall,
Think what remains in life,—awake again!
Has fickle Fancy fled? Yet Friendship lives,
And breathes a balm into the wounded heart.
Firm, faithful Friendship, which survives
The storms of Hate, and never will depart.
Are youth’s chimæras check’d? Ambition glows
With fiercer heat in our maturer age,
Honour is left—the foe to dull repose—
And points a hard, but glorious pilgrimage.
And shall, my ‘Narva,’ such a soul as thine,
So bright with genius, and in vigour warm,
Now, at the very prime of life, decline,
Nor burst again through Fortune’s partial storm?
Perish the thought! for nobler objects made—
Let nobler resolutions fire thy soul;
Call Honour, Virtue, Courage, to thy aid,
And let warm Friendship still inspire the whole.

Did you write the review of Dermody?1 I was de-

1 Thomas Dermody, a young Irish bard, whose principal poems were ‘The Battle of the Bards’ and ‘The Reform.’ The review was by Hodgson.

lighted with it.
Edinburgh critics I have not read; but if they abuse the wretch Heaven have mercy on their black souls, say I. Write to me from the road, and

Believe me
Ever your most affectionate friend,
J. H. Merivale.

The attractions of London life for a young man appear not to have been lost upon Hodgson, from a description written by him a few years later.

It is impossible that anyone, who has not experienced the first captivation of London, for ardent spirits, high health, and lively fancy in youth, should fairly appreciate so dangerous a charm. It is not merely the more refined luxuries of the idle bachelor’s life; not the new sights, nor even the immense superiority of intellectual resources, in which that wondrous city abounds, to a degree that makes the University seem perfectly Bœotian to an incompetent observer; it is not all this together; it is the delightful society of intelligent young men, on whom life has begun to open; and to whose knowledge of the world the school or college attainments of their younger acquaintance seems utter ignorance and stupidity. Alas! that knowledge of the world.


In 1806 he was appointed to a mastership at Eton, which he held for one year, and it was about this time that he first conceived the idea of translating Juvenal. Notwithstanding his innate dislike for teaching, this period of his life appears to have been sufficiently bright and joyous. He was extremely fond of all athletic exercises, for which by a robust and active frame he was eminently fitted, and was an excellent pedestrian. He more than once walked from Cambridge to London in a day, and thought nothing of a walk from London to Eton. He fully appreciated his many delightful friendships, and thoroughly enjoyed his holidays in Yorkshire, in his father’s society, or with his Coke relations in Herefordshire. Of his father he speaks in terms of grateful affection.

I acquired much from his clear command of his own knowledge, and from a kindness of heart which one could not approach without improvement; I truly honour his memory.

His own description of 1806-7, when he was first set free from the restraints necessarily imposed by a private tutorship, is an evidence of the happiness of his life at that time.

How different now the paths of life appear’d,
Girt all the way with banks of varied flowers;
Refresh’d by wit, by gay companions cheer’d,
How lightly flew the perishable hours!
Musing, I sailed down Richmond’s fabled stream;
Musing, I roam’d to Harrow’s verdant height!
The great Aquinian fill’d my glowing dream,
And Fame’s imagined temple rose in sight.

His translation of Juvenal was begun and completed in about a year, during these solitary rambles and in a visit to Yorkshire.

The busy literary life which he was now leading is vividly described by Bland, who was then staying with him at Eton, in a letter* to Denman.

With the very little drop of ink remaining in the horn after the two epic poems, the six periodical papers, besides several epigrams, anagrams, and other things ending in ‘grams,’ and an infinite number of songs, sonnets, rebuses, pasquinades, and some things ‘unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,’ which Hodgson has written since breakfast up to this hour—twelve o’clock (not forgetting construing his boys and answering duns)—with that very little drop of ink remaining, I have to request of you, Denman, to order Merry’s (Meri-

1 Quoted by Sir Joseph Arnould in his Memoir of Lord Denman.

vale’s) rooms to be opened, with sheets aired and a fire, on next Tuesday. . . . Hodgson is writing opposite to me in measured English, and has absolutely distanced me, who write almost in a desultory style.

It was about this time that the Bar was contemplated as a profession, and Denman’s advice was asked on the subject. Denman knew enough of his friend’s character to be convinced that such a friend to the Muses must lay aside all prospect of forensic preferment, and accordingly wrote the following characteristic letter of advice:—

My dear Hodgson,—You are mistaken in supposing that my communication of Mr. Oswald’s proposal proceeded from a despair of your succeeding in the Law; on the contrary, I think that, if all other methods fail, the Law may offer the highest opportunities of honour and emolument to talents such as yours. At the same time, if you ask my frank opinion which course is the most advisable, I cannot hesitate to recommend one trial more, even of the loathsome task of tutorship, before you enter on this hazardous profession. The expense it imposes is enormous, the labour unremitting, the advantages most doubtful and remote. . . .


You mention reviewing as a means of procuring money; indeed it would be totally inconsistent with that complete devotion and abandonment to the Law which could alone give a probability of success. It is the duty of friendship to state these circumstances and offer this counsel, but if your aversion is unconquerable, remember that even the Law may be forced by labor improbus; that Vevers’s 1 chambers are open to receive you, and that it was his most ardent wish to have them occupied by you; that it may be in my power and would be my delight to shorten your trouble and elucidate your views on legal subjects; and that Merry and myself should rejoice to call you fellow-labourer in the same vineyard. Occasions do certainly occur in which general abilities are called into immediate action, and kept in constant employment; if such occurred to you, no doubt your fame and fortunes would be fixed at once; but that ‘if’ is a talisman which hardly any power of magic can command.

This letter seems much more calculated to perplex than enlighten you; it is a picture of my own wavering and unsteady mind (!), which has poured out all its thoughts upon the subject as they arose.

1 Denman’s brother-in-law.

You will be sure that they are dictated by the warmest friendship and attachment, for God knows that (after my domestic feelings) no wish is so near my heart as that of seeing you independent and happy. I repeat the word independent, though it will not meet your ideas of tutorship, for I am sure it is fully as applicable to that position as his who lives on the smiles of attorneys.

Your sincere friend,
Thos. Denman.

The wisdom of this advice was at once recognised by its recipient, who henceforth abandoned all idea of the legal profession. His intense love of literature, and especially of poetry, would have, doubtless, constantly acted as an inducement to seek relief and mental relaxation in fresher fields than those which environ Lincoln’s Inn; and the precarious prospect of advancement which attends even unceasing and undivided industry at the Bar, would have become proportionately smaller to one who looked upon it less as a profession than as a means of subsistence, and of more freely gratifying literary tastes and inclinations.

Denman’s kind and timely counsel determined his future course, and from this year until the end of his
life he devoted his time and thoughts exclusively to religion, education, and literature. He had already for some time been engaged in writing for reviews, a pursuit which he continued unremittingly for the next ten years, and during this period he also published many original poems and translations from the classics. Of the latter the most important was the translation of
Juvenal, which will presently engage our attention, while the number and variety of the former entirely preclude their reproduction in this memoir. Even in the shape of samples or in the more fragmentary form of extracts, they would convey a most inadequate impression of their writer’s power and versatility; and those few verses which are quoted are merely intended to illustrate some passing incident, or to indicate the mental tone at the time of their composition.

The friendships already mentioned or implied in the correspondence were cherished with undiminished warmth, while fresh intimacies were formed of a no less interesting character. One, in particular, will demand a detailed description in several subsequent chapters. It was not later than the following year to that in which he returned to Eton as a master that Hodgson became the honoured friend and associate
of that brilliant but hapless youth of whom one of England’s greatest historians has recorded that he was the most celebrated Englishman of the nineteenth century.