LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Byron and his Friends
Family History
Shelley at Eton
Taste for the Gothic
Shelley’s Juvenilia
Queen Mab
Shelley at Oxford
First Marriage
Death of Harriet
Chancery Suit
Switzerland: 1814
Alastor; Geneva: 1816
Byron and Claire
At Marlow: 1817
Italy: 1818
Naples, Rome: 1819
The Cenci
Florence: 1819
Vol I Appendix
Vol II Front Matter
Pisa: 1820
Poets and Poetry
Pisa: 1821
Shelley and Keats
Williams, Hunt, Byron
Shelley and Byron
Poetry and Politics
‣ Byron and his Friends
The Pisan Circle
Casa Magni
Death of Shelley
Lerici: 1822
Burial in Rome
Character of Shelley
Vol II Appendix
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Hellas, which had been written during the autumn, and sent to England to be printed, I did not see till some months after; but we often discussed the Greek revolution, and he was enthusiastic in his aspirations for her liberty. He would not believe but that the picture drawn by Mr. Hope in his Anastasius, of the modern Greeks, was an overcharged one; though he admitted that a long course of political slavery under their Mahomedan masters, had so demoralised and bastardised the nation, that important changes must be undergone before it could be regenerated; but of this he entertained no fears. The opening Chorus of Hellas is taken from the “Principe Costante” of Calderon, as Shelley pointed out to me; and the drama an imitation of the Persians of Æschylus. It is, as Shelley says himself, “full of lyrical poetry,” and I
might add, the most beautiful. The Chorusses are wonderfully imaginative, and melodious in their versification, and splendidly exemplify his peculiarity of style. Whether
Byron’sIsles of Greece” suggested the closing Chorus, I know not. The adoption of the same metre might have been a coincidence.
A brighter Hellas rears its mountains,
From waves serener far;
A new Peneus rolls its fountains
Against the morning-star,
Where fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep
Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep.
A loftier Argo cleaves the main,
Fraught with a later prize,
Another Orpheus sings again,
And loves, and weeps, and dies.
A new Ulysses bears once more
Calypso, for his native shore.
Another Athens shall arise,
And to remoter time,
Bequeath, like sunset to the skies,
The splendour of its prime;
And leave, if nought so bright may live,
All Earth can take, or Heaven can give.
Saturn and Love their long repose
Shall burst more bright and good
Than all who fell—than One who rose,
Than many unsubdued.
Not gold nor blood their altar dowers,
But votive tears and symbol flowers.

What is this glorious hymn but another “Isles of Greece?” indeed it yields in nothing to Byron’s strain; and the prophecy is such as poets love to dwell upon, and Shelley most of all,—the regeneration of mankind, though clouded with the melancholy foreboding of the horrors that the struggle must cost. It is impossible to tell how much this drama, and the enthusiasm of Shelley, influenced the determination of Byron to devote his energies to the sacred cause. If he was to have died young, he could not have died at a better moment for his fame. Nothing, however, in 1821 and the beginning of 1822, was further from my thoughts, than that he would have taken any part in the struggle. He out-anastasiused Anastasius in his view of the Greek character. He used to
say, “that the Greeks were so fallen, that it would be a vain attempt to raise them. One might as well hope to re-animate a corpse.” Words that had no sincerity in them, for perhaps at that very time, he had decided in his own mind to join their cause, which, if he thought so desperate and unworthy, he would never have done, nor have embarked in it so large a portion of his fortune; not that he risked indeed the money, for it was raised on the security of the Greek Loan, (friend
Hobhouse satisfying him of the validity of the security,) and was in fact repaid before his death. In Byron, were, as I have said, two natures,—the man and the poet were different entities. This incongruity between his poetical sentiments and his prose ones, was very remarkable. In the case of the Greeks, the former prevailed. Shelley used to say that “on this subject, or any other, it was not easy to see his mind through the mists he delighted to throw around it.” No one mystified so much,—indeed it was impossible to know when
he was in jest or in earnest. If he mystified Shelley, no wonder that he should often have mystified me in our daily and nightly conversations; though, singularly enough, almost every word in them has been repeated in
Moore’s Life, taken from Byron’s Autobiography, pretended to be burnt, and of which autobiography, Washington Irving writing to me, says, “Whilst reading your Conversations, (he, as well as half-a-dozen others, had perused them,) I thought, page after page, that I was reading Byron’s MSS.” But if he mystified me and Shelley, he still more mystified his biographer; as instances of which I shall give three or four proofs out of three or four hundred I could cite. “His lordship told me,” Moore says in his preface, “that he meant to leave his will in my hands, and that there would be in it a bequest of ten thousand pounds to Madame G——, (Guiccioli).” (He mentioned this circumstance also to Lady Blessington.) “When the news of his death reached me, I took it for granted that this will
would be found among his sealed papers, he had left me; but there was no such instrument.” Now he had never intended to leave his will with Mr. Moore, nor to make any such bequest, any more than he meant (as he told me) to leave his daughters joint heiresses; for
Ada he disinherited in favour of his sister, and to Allegra he left five thousand pounds, saddled with a proviso, that it should be cancelled if she married a foreigner. The next instance I shall adduce of mystification, is the passage in his journal (alias autobiography,) where he wishes to have it believed that the Corsair and himself were one and the same personage, saying,—“Who knows what I was doing in the East?” &c. The third is his mystification respecting his contemporaries, Rogers, Campbell, and Moore, and the high place he allots them in the literary world. As over-politeness is rudeness, so over-flattery is dispraise, and over-disparagement of self, excess of vanity. Shelley was always indignant at the high rank he assigned to Camp-
bell and Rogers; a rank he has put on record by a diagram or triangular gradus ad Parnassum; and again in another place, where after
Walter Scott, he says, “I should place Rogers next in the list. I value more the man as the last of the best school—Moore and Campbell both third,” &c. &c. Elsewhere, it is true, when in the quizzing vein, he in speaking of Lord Thurlow, (the best translator by the way of Anacreon we ever had,) says,—
They tell me Phœbus gave his crown,
Some years before his death, to Rogers.
And see the anecdote in the stage coach, about
Lary and Jacky, and
Pretty Miss Jaqueline,
With her nose aquiline.

The same sarcasms he threw out here and there respecting Campbell, an offence which he, one of the irritabile genus, could never forgive. He had a high opinion of his own merits, (no wonder) and a few years before
his death, told a friend of mine that he had never read any of
Shelley’s works. This gentleman, a great Liberal, and an Italian, paid Campbell a visit at his request, and instead of discussing the prospects and hopes of Italy, he could talk of nothing but Pereto’s translation of “The Pleasures of Hope—a work that fell dead from the press, not from the badness of the translation, but because the original was little to the taste of the Italians. But to return to Rogers. In the Conversations of Lord Byron, I have given one between Shelley and Byron, on the subject of Pleasures of Mummery, and their author, “The Nestor of Little Poets,”—“The dead Mr. Samuel Rogers and where he calls him “a spoiled child, waspish,” &c.; and mentions his suppression of some complimentary lines on his Separation, and which have since appeared; and says that “Rogers was very much offended at its being said that his Pleasures, &c., were to be found shining in green and gold morocco bindings, in
most parlour windows, and on the book-shelves of all young ladies.” In that dialogue he throws off the mask, and shows his real opinion of the head and heart of “The Beau, Bard, and Banker;” whose dinners and coteries had begun to fade from his memory by time and distance, and the improbability of his ever again participating in them. In this Conversation are to be found the elements of the
Swift-like verses, which he had written, as appears by the date, in 1818,—one of the most stinging and personal little satires ever penned,—and which verses, on the occasion of Rogers’ visit to him at Pisa, he placed under the cushion of the sofa where he intended to seat, and did seat him, and during the colloquy, enjoyed the secret pleasure of seeing “The Banker-Bard” repose in unconscious security on his own literary rocket, which Byron well knew would one day explode. I did not lay the match to it, but as this lampoon has already appeared in a magazine of much circulation, and is not contained among Mr. Murray’s
edition of Lord Byron’s works, I shall here give it entire, premising that Shelley was well acquainted with it.

In Question and Answer.

Nose and chin would shame a knocker,
Wrinkles that would puzzle Cocker,
Mouth which marks the envious scorner,
With a scorpion at the corner,
Turning its quick tail to sting you,
In the place that most may wring you.
Eyes of lead-like hue, and gummy,
Carcase picked up from some mummy,
Bowels—but they were forgotten,
Save the liver, and that’s rotten,
Skin all sallow, flesh all sodden,
From the Devil would frighten God in.
Is’t a corpse set up for show,
Galvanized at times to go?
With the scripture in connection,
New proof of the resurrection.
Vampire! ghost! or goat, what is it?
I would walk ten miles to miss it.
Many passengers arrest one,
To demand the same free question.
Shorter my reply, and franker,—
That’s the Bard, the Beau, the Banker,
Yet if you should bring about,
Just to turn him inside out,
Satan’s self would seem less sooty—
And his present aspect—Beauty.
Mark that (as he masks the bilious
Air, so very supercilious)
Chastened brow, and mock humility,
Almost sickened to servility;
Hear his tone (which is to talking
That which creeping is to walking,
Now on all fours, now on tiptoe;)
Hear the tales he lends his lip to;
Little hints of heavy scandals—
Every friend in turn he handles;
All which women, or which men do,
Glides forth in an inuendo,
Clothed in odds and ends of humour,
From devices down to dresses,
Woman’s frailties—man excesses.
All which life presents of evil,
Make for him a constant revel.
You’re his foe for that he fears you,
And in absence blasts and sears you.
You’re his friend—for that he hates you,
First caresses and then baits you,
Darting on the opportunity
When to do it with impunity;
You are neither—then he’ll flatter
Till he finds some trait for satire;
Hunts your weak point out, then shows it,
Where it injures to disclose it,
In the mode that’s most invidious,
Adding every trait that’s hideous—
From the bile, whose blackening river
Rushes through his Stygian liver.
Then he thinks himself a lover—
Why, I really can’t discover;
In his mind, age, face or figure;
Viper-broth might give him vigour.
Let him keep the cauldron steady,
He the venom has already;
For his faults—he has but one,
’Tis but envy when ’tis done—
He but pays the pain he suffers,
Clipping like a pair of snuffers,
Lights which ought to burn the brighter
For this temporary blighter.
He’s the cancer of his species,
And will eat himself to pieces—
Plague personified, and famine,
Devil—whose sole delight is damning.
For his merits, would yon know ’em—
Once he wrote a pretty poem.

But as a pendant to these verses, there is on record a still racier piece of humour, displayed on the occasion of Rogers’ visit to Lord Byron at Pisa, in which he returned the compliment of “he baits you,” by baiting him. The anecdote has gone the round of the newspapers, and is too well known to require repetition. Tiger, Byron’s bull-dog, plays a great part in it, and the monkey.

So much for his intimate friend No. 1.

I will add to this Swift-like effusion, a string of epigrams, the paternity of which I leave to be guessed.

Εις χαρματα πης Μνημοσυνς.
Χαρματα μνημοσυνης, μη ψευδη μου λεγε, Μουσα,
Αλγεα του μνημη, του μελος αλγος εχει.
In gaudia memoriæ.
Gaudia! num memor es? die, mendax Musa, dolores,
Hunc meminisse, librum, me meminisse dolet.
On the Pleasures of Memory.
Pleasures of Memory, say you? pains were better,—
The book were then entitled to the letter.
He to his “pleasures” is a living lie!
Such all will find book, man, and memory.
Come! no more rhymes,—it is a passing-bell!
The memory of the book itself is Hell.
On some otherPleasures.”
Talking of pleasures, there are those of Hope,—
I want a pendant! where’s the microscope?
On Rogers’ “Italy.”
Rogers and Turner! what is this I see?
A poet’s prose, and painter’s poetry.
Three thousand to the painter! thou didst well
To buy the drawings, for at least they sell.
I hear the children cry, “Dear mamma, look!
Was ever such a pretty picture-book?”
Rogers’s is a new way of illustration!
The drawings are the only inspiration!
’Tis said, Claude gave his figures in—so we
May say of Rogers and his Italy.
What impudence to call it his, we see
The engravings only make the poetry.
Stick to your couplets, Rogers, dear! for those
Did sell at least; but who would buy spoilt prose?
For such a tittle-bat of rhyme,
Sam is the fittest protonyme.
All men but Stoddart would have been perplext
To illustrate so very dull a text.
Cut out the text, and leave the drawings, we
May then admit that this is Italy.
Sure ’twas a pity that they have not been
Divorced, as Lara was from Jacqueline.
I like your book, and shall be less perplext
To tell you why, when you’ve expunged the text.

Campbell, (who laughed at the idea of Shelley’s being a poet, and said of the Prometheus Unbound, “Who would bind it?”) Byron Bardolphed in “the Erkle’s vein,” though occasionally he gives him here and there a sly rap on the knuckles. To wit, “read Campbell’s Poets, marked errors of Tom the Author,” &c., and “Gertrude has no more locality with Pennsylvania than Peumanraaur. It is particularly full of grossly false scenery, as all Americans declare, though they praise parts of the poem,” &c.; and “the vulgar eye will rest more upon the splendour of
the uniform than the quality of the troops;” “He has spoiled his best things by over-polish;” and one day, when the “
Hohenlinden” was cited, agreed with Shelley, that the alteration of a “soldier’s sepulchre” to “cemetery,” was a bull, for that cemetery meant many graves, not one. Campbell, “the second of the sons of light,” knew well what Byron really thought of him, and his works, and after the noble poet’s death, took strong part against him, as proved by Lady Byron’s letter, beginning, “My dear Mr. Campbell,” and the Correspondence; but Campbell lies in Westminster Abbey, where, doubtless, his rival, Rogers, will have a niche by his side. Where lies Byron? in some obscure churchyard, the name of which I have forgotten!

No. 3, brings us to Mr. Historian-general Moore. What Byron’s early opinion of Moore was, may be judged by the “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” where he says, “Let Moore he lewd;” since altered to, “Let Moore still sigh,” &c. High rank as he assigns him
in his scale of “Gods,” I never heard him quote or mention with praise any one of his poems. Of the
Loves of the Angels, he says,—“I leave others to circumcise these Angels with their bonnes fortunes, to the drawing-room and clerical standard.” Leigh Hunt says,—“Byron had a poor notion of his serious poetry in general. He did not think there was much truth about that, either of style or sentiment.” Lord Byron calls Moore “a tuft-hunter and a smell-feast,” and said,—“You should have seen how distressed he looked one day at Venice, because the dinner did not suit him;” an anecdote reminding me of the cloud that came over Moore’s countenance at Versailles, where we dined with Kenney in 1822 or 23. “Do but give Tom a good dinner and a lord,” observed Byron, emphatically, “and he is at the top of his happiness, for Tommy loves a lord.” Mr. Moore in his Life of Byron, expunges any hits at himself, but rakes together every piece of fulsome compliment he could collect. Aware that Moore
was to be his biographer, he knew well how to mystify him; in fact, his letters are a tissue of mystification, and Moore keeps it up to the public by sowing his pages thick as the fields of air, with stars; “such stars indicating jokes on
Rogers, Campbell, Cam Hobhouse, &c.” The affectionate friendship that Moore entertained for Byron, was shewn on the occasion of the parting dinner given to him (Moore,) on the occasion of his quitting Paris, when he refused to reply to Sir Godfrey Webster’s invitation to give his noble friend as a toast, not wishing that any other should that day share in his divinity; and I have it from good authority, that after Byron’s death, he flitted about London like an antiquated Cupid new fledged, being hardly able to conceal his delight at the idea of the thousands that event would bring into his pocket. His correspondence with Leigh Hunt was a pretty piece of duplicity; but Hunt was then joint editor of the Examiner! As Moore sketches the character of several of Lord Byron’s dead friends,
Shelley, I may be excused for doing the same service to a living one; and speaking of Shelley, considering the great obligations the biographer was under to Mrs. Shelley, he could not do less than endeavour to modify the opinions to her husband’s disparagement, which he was always inculcating to his noble correspondent. Byron’s frequent vindication of Shelley from his attacks, shews what they must have been. Moore, however, does not seem to appreciate very highly Shelley’s poetry, which he calls “a rich and glittering labyrinth;” and gives him credit only for “an exuberant fancy,” which he says, “was the medium through which he saw all things, his facts as well as his theories; and that not only the greater part of his poetry, but the political and philosophical speculations in which he indulged, were all distilled through the same over-fining and unrealising alembic.”

Having disposed of this kleeblat (trefoil) of poets, as the Germans say, I take another leaf
out of
Byron’s and Shelley’s books of life, and read there a person named “Hobhouse.” I name him thus familiarly, not because I was particularly recommended* to his kind offices by the first of these poets, but because it would make a confusion in styling him now Mr. Hobhouse, and now Sir John Cam Hobhouse. To what services his father owed the title I shall not stop to enquire, but, à la Moore, give a sketch of him for the benefit of some future historian. I am particularly called upon to perform this office for the rejected of Westminster, from knowing that he was Shelley’s inveterate enemy, never ceasing to poison Lord Byron’s ear against him, and after his death,—proving that the venom-bag had not been quite squeezed dry by writing,—“Why recal the memory of his vices? Who

* The letter above referred to has been lithographed and published. Hobhouse, under one of his aliases, calls it a certificate from a cast-off servant! This introduction I shewed to a particular friend of “the kicked out,” (quere how the charlatan ever got seated?) and who said,—“You don’t mean to call on Sancho, do you?” What is left to a man bespattered with mud, but to throw it back? How much more applicable is the name now! does not his government of India forcibly remind us of the Island of Baratoria?

ever heard the tale of his first wife, the beautiful victim of his lust and infidelity, without execrating the author of her sorrows?” Hobhouse deprecates what he calls “trading in the biography of those who are not dead;” but surely it is more manly than accusing one who is no longer able to defend himself, of being an assassin!

Lord Byron and Hobhouse were chums at Harrow, and college friends, and he belonged to the Order of the Scull, founded at Newstead, when, with Parson Andrews, Scroope Davis, Capt. Hay, and “beasts after their kind,”
Wassail nights
Renewed those riotous delights,
Wherewith the children of despair
Lull the lone heart, and banish care.
But he is now a reformed character; he no longer frequents hells, and gets into drunken broils; he has given God the devil’s leavings.

He says of Don Juan,—“We have too much regard for the morality of our readers to quote it, but we refer those who dare venture on the experiment,” &c. &c.


They afterwards travelled together, till they separated from incompatibility of temper, and as travelling companions, none could have been less suited to each other than an imaginative, fiery spirit like Byron’s, and a cold, selfish, mathematical unoriginal, like Hobhouse.

It is not wonderful, therefore, “boring” Byron as he did, “with his learned localities, and his pedantry,”* that it was a relief to both when they finally separated in Greece; and, as Byron says, “they were always best apart,”—a strange remark to make of so dear a friend. What sort of a travelling companion he was likely to have proved, might have suggested itself to Byron by what occurred between “Hobhouse and Matthews, who were the greatest friends possible, and agreed, for a whim, to walk together from Cambridge to town. They quarrelled on the way, and actually walked half the journey, occasionally passing and repassing, without speaking. When Matthews got to Highgate, he had spent

* In another place, Byron says, Forsyth, and parts of Hobhouse, are all the truth or sense upon Italy.

all the money he had but three-pence-halfpenny, and determined to spend that, also, in a pint of beer, which he was drinking before a public-house when Hobhouse passed for the last time on the route.” Byron again says, “Hobhouse is my best friend, the most lively, most entertaining of companions, and a fine fellow to boot! He has begun a poem that promises well!—wish he would go on with it! waxed sleepy!” No wonder. Again,—“Hobhouse told me an odd report, that I am the actual
Corsair, and that part of my Travels are supposed to be past in piracy. Now, people sometimes hit upon the truth, but never the whole truth. He don’t know what I was about the year after he left the Levant, nor does any one,” &c. &c.

Byron says of Hobhouse, another mystification,—that he had an excellent heart, “fainted at the report of Byron’s death in Greece.” Whereas, what sort of a heart he had, may be judged of by the account Byron gives of “his writing Elegies upon the name of his dear friend Long, which was susceptible of a pun, as Long, Short,”
&c. &c. “But,” adds Byron, “three years after, he had ample reason to repent it, when our mutual friend, and his particular friend,” (whom he now disowns,) “
Charles Matthews, was drowned also; but I did not pay him back in puns and epigrams, for I valued Matthews too much myself to do so.”

Hobhouse, too, would be a poet in his own, and the world’s despite, and Byron made many a joke on the volume of poems Hobhouse published at Cambridge, which Byron aptly styled a Miss-sell-any—for it fell dead from the press. Whether it was owing to envy or jealousy of Byron, or an innate obtuseness of intellect, his would-be rival was so blind to the merits of Childe Harold, that Byron, when enraged at his cant about Cain, told me and Shelley he had shown Hobhouse the MS., and the Hints from Horace,* and that he slily advised him to publish only the last. A singular confirmation of this

* “Get from Hobhouse, and send me a proof of my Hints from Horace. It has now the ‘nonum prematur in annum’ complete for its production, being written at Athens in 1811.” See Moore’s Life.

fact is to be found in the following passage of
Moore’s Life:—“The MS. of the two cantos of Childe Harold had, previously to their being placed in the hands of Mr. Dallas, been submitted by the noble author to the perusal of some friend, the first and only one, it appears, who had at that time seen them.” And here I will pause a moment to inquire whether any one who knows the communicativeness of Lord Byron’s nature,—his utter inability to keep his own secrets—not to speak of those of others—can for a moment believe that he could have been composing these two Cantos during his travels with Hobhouse, without his having seen them, or at least the greater part of them? Hobhouse denies that he ever, excepting a few fragments, saw them until they were printed. Credat Judæus Abellu* non ego. But even that admission, or Lord Byron spoke falsely, suffices; for Moore, quoting from Dallas, makes Lord Byron say, “They had been read but by one person, who

* I suggest this emendation—or rather, perhaps, Abelli, (subaudi historiam.) The story of Cain and Abel!

had found very little to commend, and much to condemn.” Hobhouse, by way of another disproof, says, “that he had left Lord Byron before he had finished the two cantos.” Whereas an inscription on the MS. has been preserved, and in his lordship’s handwriting; viz.:—“Byron, Joannina, in Albania, begun October 31st, 1809; concluded canto II. Smyrna, March 28th, 1810.” Hobhouse was with his lordship long after the latter date! Here he did not “lie under a mistake.” At all events, I leave it to Hobhouse, who is such a stickler for the noble poet’s veracity, to reconcile the discrepancy.

Moore goes on to say, that who this fastidious critic, (evidently alluding to Hobhouse,) was, Mr. Dallas has not mentioned; but the sweeping line of censure in which be conveyed his remarks, was such, as at any period of life, would have disconcerted Byron’s judgment. In fact, it did so disconcert his judgment, that had it not been for Mr. Dallas, the world probably never would have seen the Childe Harold. “In which case,” adds Moore, “it is more than pro-
bable that he would have been lost as a great poet to the world.” Might it not have been a knowledge that this secret was in the hands of Mr. Dallas, that induced the executor of Lord Byron to prohibit the publication of Lord Byron’s Letters in England—(talk of the liberty of the press, indeed! Save the mark, he is a Liberal!) under the hope that a piece of information so fatal to him in his trade of reviewer, would not go forth? Mr. Dallas, however, notwithstanding this crying injustice, suppressed the name of the sage critic,—a stretch of generosity ill merited, but which, if the fact had been so established, that he could not venture to deny it, would have stamped him as one of the most dull, as he is one of the most waspish and foul-mouthed of human beings. What sort of thing the
Horatian paraphrase was, we may judge from the specimen Mr. Moore has given of this satire, which would have been, at that time, a death-blow to Lord Byron’s reputation, the apparent object of his dear friend’s advice. The recorded opinion of Hobhouse about Cain
that it was a work Byron would not have written in the days of
Pope, Churchill, and Dryden, and his reprobation of Don Juan,* confirm our belief as to the parentage of this the first of his critical brats. But of all satires, the most cutting was Byron’s dedication of the fourth canto of Childe Harold to Hobhouse, who had wished to persuade him that the two first were worthless. What Byron really thought of Hobhouse’s head and heart, that gentleman is so well aware, that the name of Byron is poison to his ears,—wormwood to his lips. Had Moore not asterized, and eunuchized his pages so barbarously, what revelations we should have had of the harmony in which Byron and Hobhouse lived during their travels—of their bickerings and jealousies! Not one reminiscence did Hobhouse supply to the Life of Byron—not one letter; and Mr. Moore thought it necessary to offer his thanks for his own letters, and the per-

* “Your squad are quite wrong about the Juans.” See Moore’s Life.

mission to publish them, to this dog-in-the-manger of an executor.

But the subject still holds out attractions. Byron used to say that it was fortunate for men, alluding to Hobhouse, to have undergone imprisonment, (none ever more justly deserved it than this vile libeller,) for it puffed them into a false popularity. Of H——, meaning Hobhouse, Shelley says, “I have a very slight opinion.” There is a confidential note of Lord Byron’s in existence, a most interesting curiosity, in which his lordship recommended “certain folks not to trouble themselves by making vain efforts to appear in the alien character of men of honour.” The occasion of this flattering and friendly epistle was the Pasquinade à la Junius,* (Junius never suppressed any thing he wrote,) in which Hobhouse boasted that three hundred Muciuses had sworn to murder Canning. I might give his reply, that complimentary billet, in which he calls Hobhouse “a liar and a scoun-

* “Hobhouse is foaming into a reformer,” says Byron, in, one of his letters. See Moore’s Life of Byron.

drel, who only wanted courage to be an assassin.” It is a curious document for Hobhouse’s future biographers; nor must we omit giving a prominent place to that
other pamphlet of his,—his “Hundred Days,” in which he strongly urges the making terms with that military despot, and man of unexampled treachery and bad faith, Napoleon. Oh, wonderful statesman! “Fit member,”* as Sacco says of Calcagno, “for an administration.”

But if he be a miserable politician, what shall I say of him as an author? No worse specimens of style or taste are to be found than in his works, passim. Well might Shelley class him with Eustace and Co., and say, alluding to his Nibbi-stolen notes on the fourth canto of Childe Harold, “the object of which was not to illus-

* The editor of Byron says that the late Lord Kinnaird was received in Paris in 1814, but he had himself presented to Napoleon, and intrigued with that faction, in spite of the Duke’s remonstrance, until the restored government ordered him out of the French territory. Quere, whether, friend Hobhouse was one of the intriguers?

trate the poem, but to parade his own learning.” “They will tell all the show-knowledge about it, (Rome,) the common stuff of the earth!” In his articles, which are numerous, (he has been an indefatigable reviewer, dividing his favours with the most scurrilous ultra-Tory, and the most violent ultra-radical of the periodicals,—les extremes se touchent,) he stands quite alone,—shines in unblushing effrontery of assertion and blackguardism of language. In order to serve his purpose, he, at times, condescends to pick up gossip from servants. How much to be depended upon such gossip is, I need not say; but in one instance, I know it to be a gross fabrication. “
Hobhouse is known of old as a heavy hand,” writes Hazlitt, who knew him well; “he comes down with his ponderous sledge-hammer contradictions, as though he were forging a thunderbolt, and, with all his din and smithery, fuss and fury, only displaces a comma, or corrects a date. The date and the comma are alike unimportant; not so the critic; whatever he does must be great, and while
he thinks the circle around him are astonished at his hard hitting, they only wonder at his want of breath and temper.” In a Cheltenham paper of an old date, I met the other day with an epitaph for Sir John Cam Hobhouse, Bart.—I now give him his full title. There is more truth in it than such memorials usually contain, and it may serve for his monument in Westminster Abbey, where he will, of course, lie side by side with his friend

“Here lies a wrangler, but no orator; a demagogue, but no patriot; a minister, but no statesman; a pedant, but no scholar; a versifier, but no poet; a lampooner, but no satirist. On his escutcheon, where the bloody hand was conspicuous, might be appropriately inscribed,
Οσμη βροτειων αιματω υι προσγελα.*

* Allusive to the fearless speech he made in favour of military flogging. The version of the line is,—“The steam of human gore makes me grin with a foretaste of delight;” or by one of Æschylus’s bold figures,—“grins at me.”


Fortunate it is for Byron that he had Shelley for a friend and fosterer of his genius. How much does not the world owe to the noble poet’s emancipation from the fetters of a Hobhouse!—a release from the leaden mantle of his paralyzing dulness!

I might swell out this part of my memorials with very many anecdotes of Shelley and Lord Byron, as contained in The Conversations, but as they are well known to the public through Mr. Colburn’s numerous editions, I shall not here repeat them. These “Conversations” were taken literally from my journal, and only occupied three weeks in putting together. This unpretending work was pounced upon as a sparrow by a hawk, by Mr. Hobhouse, who thought Lord Byron had descended to him as executor, and deemed it unpardonable that any one but himself should presume to know anything about the noble lord.

On the appearance of Mr. Hobhouse’s two articles in Blackwood and the Westminster Re-
view, which I received abroad, I was so indignant at their infamous and unjustifiable attacks, that my first impulse was to demand of him satisfaction, and had intended going home for that purpose; but at this moment I fell in with
Hazlitt. This happened at Vevay. He told me that, in his opinion, my proposed way of settling literary disputes was a bad one, and requested to see the reviews, and my MS. journal. Having convinced him from the perusal of the latter, that every word in the Conversations had been copied from my daily notes, I next proceeded to show him that Hobhouse’s allegations were for the most part so many intentional falsehoods, and, at his advice, wrote a pamphlet, which, when finished, I handed to the great prose writer, who was so kind as to correct it, and add thereto many passages, one of which was,—the style indeed is unmistakable, that beginning, “Hobhouse is known of old as a heavy hand,” &c. Hazlitt, I think, took it home with him to Colburn, with instructions immediately to pub-
lish it. That gentleman kept it for several months, and then, at my desire, withdrew it. Hobhouse says I suppressed it. Suppression means something published—and no one understands the sense of the word better than Hobhouse—for he acted thus with his
lampoon on Canning. Not only was this pamphlet never published, but never shown, with my consent, to a single individual. One reason for my withholding it from the world was, that although in more than thirty instances it contained evidence of malignant and intentional lying on the part of the said Hobhouse, there still remained several mystifications irreconcilable, but with Lord Byron’s since-proved habit of drawing the long bow. Another reason was, that I considered it a matter of perfect indifference to me whether aught contained in the Conversations was true or false—sufficient for me that it came from Lord Byron himself. Not one tittle have I altered, or ever intend to blot out of “The Conversations,”—not even the imaginary duel Lord Byron says
he fought with Hobhouse,—the erroneous detail of the
Cecil and Stackpole affair,—Miss Lee’s suicide, and some other figments. Whether, also, Murray was justly or unjustly attacked, can be nothing to me. That bibliopole I had never seen, and had not the slightest cause of difference with him, and it is monstrous to suppose that I could be malignant enough to invent these things against him. I had been passing many years in another hemisphere, and knew very little of the literature, and less of the literary men of the day. One blunder I made is certainly ludicrous, and excites a smile at my expense. I allude to the Old Bailey, instead of the, “Vieux Bailli.” Hobhouse, who is better read in the French and other revolutions than myself, found great delight in exposing this error, but forgot that it furnishes indisputable proof of the authenticity of the Conversations. Hobhouse says, “that there is not a single word or opinion put into the mouth of Lord Byron which had not been printed in some one or other of the pamphlets or prefaces!
—that there is not a single anecdote that has not been for years current among the fashionable and literary gossip of the metropolis! and which the martial author has collated with the proverbial accuracy of a deaf chamber-maid!” What fools the public must have been to put £3000 in Mr. Colburn’s pocket for such an “olla podrida!” But if it be crambe repitita, what then must
Mr. Moore’s Life be? Why it must be thrice-laid sour-crout, seeing that ninety-nine out of a hundred of the anecdotes and statements contained in his volumes were first promulgated through me. Enough! I dismiss the subject for ever; only adding, that the Memoir on Shelley, appended to a note in the Conversations, though substantially correct in facts, contains several inaccuracies as to dates, which will be found here emendated.”