LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 6 December 1817

Chapter I: 1813
Chapter II: 1814
Chapter III: 1815
Chapter IV: 1816
Chapter V: 1817
Chapter VI: 1818
Chapter VII: 1819
Chapter VIII: 1820
Chapter IX: 1821
Chapter X: 1822
Chapter XI: 1824-33
Chapter XII: 1833-35
Chapter XIII: 1806-40
Chapter XIV: Appendix
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Produced by CATH
Dec. 6, 1817.

I returned the beginning of this week from a very agreeable visit to Sir J. Mackintosh, with whom I passed the best part of three days. He was in good spirits, and has lost none of his powers of conversation, but his health is variable, and he has passed a very indifferent summer, by which the progress of his work has been a great deal retarded. He showed me many curious historical documents, which throw light on the transactions of the present reign.

I spoke in my last letter of Lord Byron’s singular testimony in favour of Pope. In one of his late letters from Venice, speaking of “Lalla Rookh,” and of Moore’s poetical style, he says: “Scott, Moore, Wordsworth,
Southey, Campbell, and I are all of us wrong, and have gone upon a revolutionary poetical system or systems not worth a damn. I have no doubt that posterity, and perhaps the present generation, will finally be of this opinion. I am the more convinced of this, from having lately read several books of the writers just mentioned, side by side with some of our great classics, especially Pope; and I am astonished and mortified at the ineffable distance between the little man of Queen Anne’s reign and us of the lower empire, not only in sense, harmony, and general effect, but in imagination, passion, and even in invention. Depend on it, it was all Horace then, and is all Claudian now.”

I should have been better pleased with this opinion had it been more temperately expressed. I do not quote the letter, but write from recollection, though sure of most of the expressions.

I have received some of Horner’s papers, which appear to me to be very interesting, especially those relating to his early studies. I am to read some of the principal passages to the Abercrombys and Mallet, who will assist me with judgment as to what ought finally to be done.1