LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1812

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
‣ Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
326 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

Among those acts of generosity and friendship by which every year of Lord Byron’s life was signalized, there is none, perhaps, that, for its own peculiar seasonableness and delicacy, as well as for the perfect worthiness of the person who was the object of it, deserves more honourable mention than that which I am now about to record, and which took place nearly at the period of which I am speaking. The friend, whose good fortune it was to inspire the feeling thus testified, was Mr. Hodgson, the gentleman to whom so many of the preceding letters are addressed; and as it would be unjust to rob him of the grace and honour of being, himself, the testimony of obligations so signal, I shall here lay before my readers an extract from the letter with which, in reference to a passage in one of his noble friend’s Journals, he has favoured me.

“I feel it incumbent upon me to explain the circumstances to which this passage alludes, however private their nature. They are, indeed, calculated to do honour to the memory of my lamented friend. Having become involved, unfortunately, in difficulties and embarrassments, I received from Lord Byron (besides former pecuniary obligations) assistance, at the time in question, to the amount of a thousand pounds. Aid of such magnitude was equally unsolicited and unexpected on my part; but it was the long-cherished, though secret, purpose of my friend to afford that aid; and he only waited for the period when he thought it would be of most service. His own words were, on the occasion of conferring this overwhelming favour, ‘I always intended to do it.’”

During all this time, and through the months of January and February, his Poem of “Childe Harold” was in its progress through the press; and to the changes and additions which he made in the course of printing, some of the most beautiful passages of the work owe their existence. On comparing, indeed, his rough draft of the two Cantos with the finished form in which they exist at present, we are made sensible of the power which the man of genius possesses, not only of surpassing others, but of improving on himself. Originally, the “little Page” and “Yeoman” of the Childe were introduced to the reader’s notice in the following tame stanzas, by expanding the substance of which into their present light, lyric shape, it is almost needless to remark how much the poet has gained in variety and dramatic effect:—

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 327
“And of his train there was a henchman page,
A peasant boy, who served his master well;
And often would his pranksome prate engage
Childe Burun’s* ear, when his proud heart did swell
With sullen thoughts that he disdain’d to tell.
Then would he smile on him, and Alwin† smiled,
When aught that from his young lips archly fell
The gloomy film from Harold’s eye beguiled.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Him and one yeoman only did he take
To travel eastward to a far countrie;
And, though the boy was to leave the lake,
On whose fair banks he grew from infancy,
Eftsoons his little heart beat merrily,
With hope of foreign nations to behold,
And many things right marvellous to see,
Of which our vaunting, travellers oft have told,
From Mandeville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‡

In place of that mournful song “to Ines,” in the First Canto, which contains some of the dreariest touches of sadness that even his pen ever let fall, he had, in the original construction of the Poem, been so little fastidious as to content himself with such ordinary singsong as the following:—

“Oh never tell again to me
Of Northern climes and British ladies,
It has not been your lot to see,
Like me, the lovely girl of Cadiz.
Although her eye be not of blue,
Nor fair her locks, like English lasses,” &c. &c.

There were also, originally, several stanzas full of direct personality, and some that degenerated into a style still more familiar and ludicrous than that of the description of a London Sunday, which still disfigures the

* If there could be any doubt as to his intention of delineating himself in his hero, this adoption of the old Norman name of his family, which he seems to have at first contemplated, would be sufficient to remove it.

† In the MS. the names “Robin” and “Rupert” had been successively inserted here and scratched out again.

‡ Here the manuscript is illegible.

328 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
Poem. In thus mixing up the light with the solemn, it was the intention of the poet to imitate
Ariosto. But it is far easier to rise, with grace, from the level of a strain generally familiar, into an occasional short burst of pathos or splendour, than to interrupt thus a prolonged tone of solemnity by any descent into the ludicrous or burlesque*. In the former case, the transition may have the effect of softening or elevating, while, in the latter, it almost invariably shocks;—for the same reason, perhaps, that a trait of pathos or high feeling in comedy, has a peculiar charm, while the intrusion of comic scenes into tragedy, however sanctioned among us by habit and authority, rarely fails to offend. The noble poet was, himself, convinced of the failure of the experiment, and in none of the succeeding Cantos of Childe Harold repeated it.

Of the satiric parts, some verses on the well-known traveller, Sir John Carr, may supply us with, at least, a harmless specimen:—

“Ye, who would more of Spain and Spaniards know,
Sights, saints, antiques, arts, anecdotes, and war,
Go, hie ye hence to Paternoster-row,—
Are they not written in the boke of Carr?
Green Erin’s Knight, and Europe’s wandering star!
Then listen, readers, to the Man of ink,
Hear what he did, and sought, and wrote a afar,
All these are coop’d within one Quarto’s brink,
This borrow, steal (don’t buy), and tell us what you think.”

Among those passages which, in the course of revisal, he introduced, like pieces of “rich inlay,” into the Poem, was that fine stanza—
“Yet if, as holiest men have deem’d, there be
A land of souls beyond that sable shore,” &c.
through which lines though, it must be confessed, a tone of scepticism breathes, (as well as in those tender verses,
“Yes,—I will dream that we may meet again),”
it is a scepticism whose sadness calls far more for pity than blame; there

* Among the acknowledged blemishes of Milton’s great Poem is his abrupt transition, in this manner, into an imitation of Ariosto’s style, in the “Paradise of Fools.”

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 329
being discoverable, even through very doubts, an innate warmth of piety, which they had been able obscure, but not to chill. To use the words of the poet himself, in a note which it was once his intention to affix to these stanzas, “Let it be remembered that the spirit they breathe is desponding, not sneering scepticism,”—a distinction never to be lost sight of; as, however hopeless may be the conversion of the scoffing infidel, he who feels pain doubting has still alive within him the seeds of belief.

At the same time with Childe Harold, he had three other works in the press,—his “Hints from Horace,” “The Curse of Minerva,” and a fifth edition of “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.” The note upon the latter Poem, which had been the lucky origin of our acquaintance, was withdrawn in this edition, and a few words of explanation, which he had the kindness to submit to my perusal, substituted in its place.

In the month of January, the whole of the Two Cantos being printed off, some of the poet’s friends, and, among others, Mr. Rogers and myself, were so far favoured as to be indulged with a perusal of the sheets. In adverting to this period in his “Memoranda,” Lord Byron, I remember, mentioned,—as one the ill omens which preceded the publication of the Poem,—that some of the literary friends to whom it was shown expressed doubts of its success, and that one among them had told him “it was too good for the age.” Whoever may have pronounced this opinion,—and I have some suspicion that I am, myself, the guilty person,—the age has, it must be owned, most triumphantly refuted the calumny upon its taste which the remark implied.

It was in the hands of Mr. Rogers I first saw the sheets of the Poem, and glanced hastily over a few of the stanzas which he pointed out to me as beautiful. Having occasion, the same morning, to write a note to Lord Byron, I expressed strongly the admiration which this foretaste of his work, had excited in me; and the following is,—as far as relates to literary matters,—the answer I received from him.

330 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
“January 29th, 1812.

“I wish very much I could have seen you; I am in a state of ludicrous tribulation.

* * * * * *

“Why do you say that I dislike your poesy? I have expressed no such opinion, either in print or elsewhere. In scribbling, myself, it was necessary for me to find fault, and I fixed upon the trite charge of immorality, because I could discover no other, and was so perfectly qualified, in the innocence of my heart, to ‘pluck that mote from my neighbour’s eye.’

“I feel very, very much obliged by your approbation; but, at this moment, praise, even your praise, passes by me like ‘the idle wind.’ I meant and mean to send you a copy the moment of publication; but now, I can think of nothing but damned deceitful,—delightful woman, as Mr. Liston says in the Knight of Snowdon.

“Believe me, my dear Moore,
“ever yours, most affectionately,

The passages, here omitted, contain rather too amusing an account of a disturbance that had just occurred in the establishment at Newstead, in consequence of the detected misconduct of one of the maid-servants, who had been supposed to stand too high in the favour of her master, and, by the airs of authority which she thereupon assumed, had disposed all the rest of the household to regard her with no very charitable eyes. The chief actors in the strife were this Sultana and young Rushton; and the first point in dispute that came to Lord Byron’s knowledge (though circumstances far from creditable to the damsel, afterwards transpired) was, whether Rushton was bound to carry letters to “the Hut” at the bidding of this female. To an episode of such a
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 331
nature I should not have thought of alluding, were it not for the two rather curious letters that follow, which show how gravely and coolly the young lord could arbitrate on such an occasion, and with what considerate leaning towards the servant whose fidelity he had proved, in preference to any new liking or fancy, by which it might be suspected he was actuated towards the other.

“8, St. James’s-street, Jan. 21st, 1812.

“Though I have no objection to your refusal to carry letters to Mealey’s, you will take care that the letters are taken by Spero at the proper time. I have also to observe, that Susan is to be treated with civility, and not insulted by any person over whom I have the smallest control, or, indeed, by any one whatever, while I have the power to protect her. I am truly sorry to have any subject of complaint against you; I have too good an opinion of you to think I shall have occasion to repeat it, after the care I have taken of you, and my favourable intentions in your behalf. I see no occasion for any communication whatever between you and the women, and wish you to occupy yourself in preparing for the situation in which you will be placed. If a common sense of decency cannot prevent you from conducting yourself towards them with rudeness, I should at least hope that your own interest, and regard for a master who has never treated you with unkindness, will have some weight.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S.—I wish you to attend to your arithmetic, to occupy yourself in surveying, measuring, and making yourself acquainted with every particular relative to the land of Newstead, and you will write to me one letter every week, that I may know how you go on.”

332 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
“8, St. James’s-street, January 25th, 1812.

“Your refusal to carry the letter was not a subject of remonstrance; it was not a part of your business; but the language you used to the girl was (as she stated it) highly improper.

“You say that you also have something to complain of; then state it to me immediately; it would be very unfair, and very contrary to my disposition, not to hear both aides of the question.

“If any thing has passed between you before or since my last visit to Newstead, do not be afraid to mention it. I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would. Whatever it is, you shall be forgiven. I have not been without some suspicions on the subject, and am certain that, at your time of life, the blame could not attach to you. You will not consult any one as to your answer, but write to me immediately. I shall be more ready to hear what you have to advance, as I do not remember ever to have heard a word from you before against any human being, which convinces me you would not maliciously assert an untruth. There is not any one who can do the least injury to you while you conduct yourself properly. I shall expect your answer immediately.

“Yours, &c.

It was after writing these letters that he came to the knowledge of some improper levities on the part of the girl, in consequence of which he dismissed her and another female servant from Newstead; and how strongly he allowed this discovery to affect his mind, will be seen in a subsequent letter to Mr. Hodgson.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 333
“8, St. James’s-street, February 16th, 1812.

“I send you a proof. Last week I was very ill and confined to bed with stone in the kidney, but I am now quite recovered. If the stone had got into my heart instead of my kidneys, it would have been all the better. The women are gone to their relatives, after many attempts to explain what was already too clear. However, I have quite recovered that also, and only wonder at my folly in excepting my own strumpets from the general corruption,—albeit a two months’ weakness is better than ten years. I have one request to make, which is, never mention a woman again in any letter to me, or even allude to the existence of the sex. I won’t even read a word of the feminine gender;—it must all be ‘propria quæ maribus.’

“In the spring of 1813 I shall leave England for ever. Every thing in my affairs tends to this, and my inclinations and health do not discourage it. Neither my habits nor constitution are improved by your customs or your climate. I shall find employment in making myself a good oriental scholar. I shall retain a mansion in one of the fairest islands, and retrace, at intervals, the most interesting portions of the East. In the mean time, I am adjusting my concerns, which will (when arranged) leave me with wealth sufficient even for home, but enough for a principality in Turkey. At present they are involved, but I hope, by taking some necessary but unpleasant steps, to clear every thing. Hobhouse is expected daily in London; we shall be very glad to see him; and, perhaps, you will come up and ‘drink deep ere he depart,’ if not, ‘Mahomet must go to the mountain;’—but Cambridge will bring sad recollections to him, and worse to me, though for very different reasons. I believe the only human being that ever loved me in truth and entirely was of, or belonging to, Cambridge, and, in that, no change can now take place. There is one consolation in death—where he sets his
334 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
seal, the impression can neither be melted or broken, but endureth for ever.

“Yours always,

Among those lesser memorials of his good-nature and mindfulness, which, while they are precious to those who possess them, are not unworthy of admiration from others, may be reckoned such letters as the following, to a youth at Eton, recommending another, who was about to be entered at that school, to his care.

“8, St. James’s-street, February 12th, 1812.

“You have probably long ago forgotten the writer of these lines, who would, perhaps, be unable to recognise yourself, from the difference which must naturally have taken place in your stature and appearance since he saw you last. I have been rambling through Portugal, Spain, Greece, &c. &c. for some years, and have found so many changes on my return, that it would be very unfair not to expect that you should have had your share of alteration and improvement with the rest. I write to request a favour of you: a little boy of eleven years, the son of Mr. * *, my particular friend, is about to become an Etonian, and I should esteem any act of protection or kindness to him as an obligation to myself; let me beg of you then to take some little notice of him at first, till he is able to shift for himself.

“I was happy to hear a very favourable account of you from a schoolfellow a few weeks ago, and should be glad to learn that your family are as well as I wish them to be. I presume you are in the upper school;—as an Etonian, you will look down upon a Harrow man; but I never, even in my boyish days, disputed your superiority, which I once
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 335
experienced in a cricket match, where I had the honour of making one of eleven, who were beaten to their hearts’ content by your college in one innings.

“Believe me to be, with great truth, &c. &c.

On the 27th of February, a day or two before the appearance of Childe Harold, he made the first trial of his eloquence in the House of Lords; and it was on this occasion he had the good fortune to become acquainted with Lord Holland,—an acquaintance no less honourable than gratifying to both, as having originated in feelings the most generous, perhaps, of our nature, a ready forgiveness of injuries, on the one aide, and a frank and unqualified atonement for them, on the other. The subject of debate was the Nottingham Frame-breaking Bill, and, Lord Byron having mentioned to Mr. Rogers his intention to take a part in the discussion, a communication was, by the intervention of that gentleman, opened between the noble poet and Lord Holland, who, with his usual courtesy, professed himself ready to afford all the information and advice in his power. The following letters, however, will best explain their first advances towards acquaintance.

“February 4th, 1812.

“With my best acknowledgments to Lord Holland, I have to offer my perfect concurrence in the propriety of the question previously to be put to ministers. If their answer is in the negative, I shall, with his lordship’s approbation, give notice of a motion for a Committee of Inquiry. I would also gladly avail myself of his most able advice, and any information or documents with which he might be pleased to intrust me, to bear me out in the statement of facts it may be necessary to submit to the House.

336 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

“From all that fell under my own observation during my Christmas visit to Newstead, I feel convinced that, if conciliatory measures are not very soon adopted, the most unhappy consequences may be apprehended. Nightly outrage and daily depredation are already at their height, and not only the masters of frames, who are obnoxious on account of their occupation, but persons in no degree connected with the malcontents or their oppressors, are liable to insult and pillage.

“I am very much obliged to you for the trouble you have taken on my account, and beg you to believe me ever your obliged and sincere, &c.

“8, St. James’s-street, February 25th, 1812.

“With my best thanks, I have the honour to return the Notts. letter to your lordship. I have read it with attention, but do not think I shall venture to avail myself of its contents, as my view of the question differs in some measure from Mr. Coldham’s. I hope I do not wrong him, but his objections to the bill appear to me to be founded on certain apprehensions that he and his coadjutors might be mistaken for the ‘original advisers’ (to quote him) of the measure. For my own part, I consider the manufacturers as a much injured body of men, sacrificed to the views of certain individuals who have enriched themselves by those practices which have deprived the frame-workers of employment. For instance;—by the adoption of a certain kind of frame, one man performs the work of seven—six are thus thrown out of business. But it is to be observed that the work thus done is far inferior in quality, hardly marketable at home, and hurried over with a view to exportation. Surely, my lord, however we may rejoice in any improvement in the arts which may be beneficial to mankind, we must not allow mankind to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism. The maintenance and well-doing of the industrious poor is an object of greater consequence to the community than the enrichment of a few monopolists by any im-
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 337
provement in the implements of trade, which deprives the workman of his bread, and renders the labourer ‘unworthy of his hire.’ My own motive for opposing the bill is founded on its palpable injustice, and its certain inefficacy. I have seen the state of these miserable men, and it is a disgrace to a civilized country. Their excesses may be condemned, but cannot be subject of wonder. The effect of the present bill would be to drive them into actual rebellion. The few words I shall venture to offer on Thursday will be founded upon these opinions formed from my own observations on the spot. By previous inquiry, I am convinced these men would have been restored to employment and the county to tranquillity. It is, perhaps, not yet too late, and is surely worth the trial. It can never be too late to employ force in such circumstances. I believe your lordship does not coincide with me entirely on this subject, and most cheerfully and sincerely shall I submit to your superior judgment and experience, and take some other line of argument against the bill, or be silent altogether, should you deem it more advisable. Condemning, as every one must condemn the conduct of these wretches, I believe in the existence of grievances which call rather for pity than punishment. I have the honour to be, with great respect, my lord,

“Your lordship’s
“most obedient and obliged servant,

“P.S. I am a little apprehensive that your lordship will think me too lenient towards these men, and half a framebreaker myself.

It would have been, no doubt, the ambition of Lord Byron to acquire distinction as well in oratory as in poesy; but Nature seems to set herself against pluralities in fame. He had prepared himself for this debate,—as most of the best orators have done, in their first essays,—not only by composing, but writing down, the whole of his speech beforehand. The reception he met with was flattering; some of the noble speakers on his own side complimented him very warmly; and that he was himself highly pleased with his success appears from the annexed account of Mr. Dallas, which gives a lively notion of his boyish elation on the occasion.

338 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

“When he left the great chamber, I went and met him in the passage; he was glowing with success, and much agitated. I had an umbrella in my right hand, not expecting that he would put out his hand to me;—in my haste to take it when offered, I had advanced my left hand—‘What,’ said he, ‘give your friend your left hand upon such an occasion?’ I showed the cause, and immediately changing the umbrella to the other hand, I gave him my right hand, which he shook and pressed warmly. He was greatly elated, and repeated some of the compliments which had been paid him, and mentioned one or two of the peers who had desired to be introduced to him. He concluded with saying, that he had, by his speech, given me the best advertisement for Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.”

The speech itself, as given by Mr. Dallas from the noble speaker’s own manuscript, is pointed and vigorous; and the same sort of interest that is felt in reading the poetry of a Burke, may be gratified, perhaps, by a few specimens of the oratory of a Byron. In the very opening of his speech he thus introduces himself by the melancholy avowal, that in that assembly of his brother nobles he stood almost a stranger.

“As a person in some degree connected with the suffering county, though a stranger not only to this House in general, but to almost every individual whose attention I presume to solicit, I must claim some portion of your lordships’ indulgence.”

The following extracts comprise, I think, the passages of most spirit.

“When we are told that these men are leagued together, not only for the destruction of their own comfort, but of their very means of subsistence, can we forget that it is the bitter policy, the destructive warfare, of the last eighteen years which has destroyed their comfort, your comfort, all men’s comfort;—that policy which, originating with ‘great statesmen now no more,’ has survived the dead to become a curse on the living, unto the third and fourth generation! These men never destroyed their looms till they were become useless, worse than useless; till they were become actual impediments to their exertions in obtaining their daily bread. Can you then wonder that, in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted fraud, and imputed felony, are found in a station not far beneath that of your lordships, the lowest, though once most
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 339
useful portion of the people, should forget their duty in their distresses, and become only less guilty than one of their representatives? But while the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of death must be spread for the wretched mechanic who is famished into guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands: they were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them. Their own means of subsistence were cut off; all other employments pre-occupied; and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be the subject of surprise.

* * * * * *

“I have traversed the seat of war in the peninsula; I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey; but never, under the most despotic of infidel governments, did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return, in the very heart of a Christian country. And what are your remedies? After months of inaction, and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the grand specific, the never-failing nostrum of all state-physicians, from the days of Draco to the present time. After feeling the pulse and shaking the head over the patient, prescribing the usual course of warm water and bleeding—the warm water of your mawkish police, and the lancets of your military—these convulsions must terminate in death, the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all political Sangrados. Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient on your statutes? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code, that more must be poured forth to ascend to heaven and testify against you? How will you carry this bill into effect? Can you commit a whole county to their own prisons? Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like scarecrows? or will you proceed (as you must, to bring this measure into effect,) by decimation; place the country under martial law; depopulate and lay waste all around you, and restore Sherwood Forest as an acceptable gift to the crown in its former condition of a royal chase and an asylum for outlaws? Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your bayonets be appalled by
340 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the only relief it appears that you will afford him, will he be dragooned into tranquillity? Will that which could not be effected by your grenadiers be accomplished by your executioners? If you proceed by the forms of law, where is your evidence? Those who refused to impeach their accomplices, when transportation only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them when death is the penalty. With all due deference to the noble lords opposite, I think a little investigation, some previous inquiry, would induce even them to change their purpose. That most favourite state measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances, temporizing, would not be without its advantage in this. When a proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years, you temporize and tamper with the minds of men; but a death-bill must be passed off hand, without a thought of the consequences.”

In reference to his own parliamentary displays, and to this maiden speech in particular, I find the following remarks in one of his Journals.

Sheridan’s liking for me (whether he was not mystifying me, I do not know, but Lady Caroline Lamb and others told me that he said the same both before and after he knew me) was founded upon ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.’ He told me that he did not care about poetry (or about mine—at least, any but that poem of mine), but he was sure, from that and other symptoms, I should make an orator, if I would but take to speaking and grow a parliament man. He never ceased harping upon this to me to the last; and I remember my old tutor, Dr. Drury, had the same notion when I was a boy; but it never was my turn of inclination to try. I spoke once or twice, as all young peers do, as a kind of introduction into public life; but dissipation, shyness, haughty and reserved opinions, together with the short time I lived in England after my majority (only about five years in all), prevented me from resuming the experiment. As far as it went, it was not discouraging, particularly my first speech (I spoke three or four times in all), but just after it, my poem of Childe Harold was published, and nobody ever thought about my prose afterwards, nor indeed did I; it became to me a secondary and neglected object, though I sometimes wonder to myself if I should have succeeded.”

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 341

His immediate impressions with respect to the success of his first speech may be collected from a letter addressed soon after to Mr. Hodgson.

“8, St. James’s-street, March 5th, 1812.

We are not answerable for reports of speeches in the papers, they are always given incorrectly, and on this occasion more so than usual, from the debate in the Commons on the same night. The Morning Post should have said eighteen years. However, you will find the speech, as spoken, in the Parliamentary Register, when it comes out. Lords Holland and Grenville, particularly the latter, paid me some high compliments in the course of their speeches as you may have seen in the papers, and Lords Eldon and Harrowby answered me. I have had many marvellous eulogies repeated to me since, in person and by proxy, from divers persons ministerial—yea, ministerial!—as well as oppositionists; of them I shall only mention Sir F. Burdett. He says it is the best speech by a lord since the ‘Lord knows when,’ probably from a fellow-feeling in the sentiments. Lord H. tells me I shall beat them all if I persevere, and Lord G. remarked that the construction of some of my periods are very like Burke’s!! And so much for vanity. I spoke very violent sentences with a sort of modest impudence, abused every thing and every body, and put the Lord Chancellor very much out of humour; and if I may believe what I hear, have not lost any character by the experiment. As to my delivery, loud and fluent enough, perhaps a little theatrical. I could not recognise myself or any one else in the newspapers. * * *

“My poesy comes out on Saturday. Hobbouse is here; I shall tell him to write. My stone is gone for the present, but I fear is part of my habit. We all talk of a visit to Cambridge.

“Yours ever,
342 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

Of the same date as the above is the following letter to Lord Holland, accompanying a copy of his new publication, and written in a tone that cannot fail to give a high idea of his good feeling and candour.

“St. James’s-street, March 5th, 1812.

“May I request your lordship to accept a copy of the thing which accompanies this note? You have already so fully proved the truth of the first line of Pope’s couplet,

‘Forgiveness to the injured doth belong,’

that I long for an opportunity to give the lie to the verse that follows. If I were not perfectly convinced that any thing I may have formerly uttered in the boyish rashness of my misplaced resentment had made as little impression as it deserved to make, I should hardly have the confidence—perhaps your lordship may give it a stronger and more appropriate appellation—to send you a quarto of the same scribbler. But your lordship, I am sorry to observe to-day, is troubled with the gout: if my book can produce a laugh against itself or the author, it will be of some service. If it can set you to sleep, the benefit will be yet greater; and as some facetious personage observed half a century ago, that ‘poetry is a mere drug,’ I offer you mine as a humble assistant to the ‘eau médecinale.’ I trust you will forgive this and all my other buffooneries, and believe me to be, with great respect.

“Your lordship’s
“obliged and sincere servant,
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 343

It was within two days after his speech in the House of Lords, that Childe Harold appeared*;—and the impression which it produced upon the public was as instantaneous as it has proved deep and lasting. The permanence of such success genius alone could secure, but to its instant and enthusiastic burst, other causes, besides the merit of the work, concurred.

There are those who trace in the peculiar character of Lord Byron’s genius strong features of relationship to the times in which he lived; who think that the great events which marked the close of the last century, by giving a new impulse to men’s minds, by habituating them to the daring and the free, and allowing full vent to “the flash and outbreak of fiery spirits,” had led naturally to the production of such a poet as Byron; and that he was, in short, as much the child and representative of the Revolution, in poesy, as another great man of the age, Napoleon, was in statesmanship and warfare. Without going the full length of this notion, it will, at least, be conceded, that the free loose which had been given to all the passions and energies of the human mind, in the great struggle of that period, together with the constant spectacle of such astounding vicissitudes as were passing, almost daily, on the theatre of the world, had created, in all minds, and in every walk of intellect, a taste for strong excitement, which the stimulants supplied from ordinary sources were insufficient to gratify;—that a tame deference to established authorities had fallen into disrepute, no less in literature than in politics, and that the poet who should breathe into his songs the fierce and passionate spirit of the age, and assert, untrammeled and unawed, the high dominion of genius, would be the most sure of an audience toned in sympathy with his strains.

It is true that, to the licence on religious subjects, which revelled through the first acts of that tremendous drama, a disposition of an

* To his sister, Mrs. Leigh, one of the first presentation copies was sent, with the following inscription in it:—

“To Augusta, my dearest sister, and my best friend, who has ever loved me much better than I deserved, this volume is presented by her father’s son, and most affectionate brother, “B.”

344 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
opposite tendency had, for some time, succeeded. Against the wit of the scoffer not only piety, but a better taste, revolted; and had Lord Byron, in touching on such themes in
Childe Harold, adopted a tone of levity or derision (such as, unluckily, he sometimes afterwards descended to), not all the originality and beauty of his work would have secured for it a prompt or uncontested triumph. As it was, however, the few dashes of scepticism with which he darkened his strain, far from checking his popularity, were among those attractions which, as I have said, independent of all the charms of the poetry, accelerated and heightened its success. The religious feeling that has sprung up through Europe since the French revolution—like the political principles that have emerged out of the same event—in rejecting all the licentiousness of that period, have preserved much of its spirit of freedom and inquiry; and, among the best fruits of this enlarged and enlightened piety is the liberty which it disposes men to accord to the opinions, and even heresies, of others. To persons thus sincerely, and, at the same time, tolerantly, devout, the spectacle of a great mind, like that of Byron, labouring in the eclipse of scepticism, could not be otherwise than an object of deep and solemn interest. If they had already known what it was to doubt, themselves, they would enter into his fate with mournful sympathy; while, if safe in the tranquil haven of faith, they would look with pity on one who was still a wanderer. Besides, erring and dark as might be his views at that moment, there were circumstances in his character and fate that gave a hope of better thoughts yet dawning upon him. From his temperament and youth, there could be little fear that he was yet hardened in his heresies, and as, for a heart wounded like his, there was, they knew, but one true source of consolation, so it was hoped that the love of truth, so apparent in all he wrote, would, one day, enable him to find it.

Another, and not the least of those causes which concurred with the intrinsic claims of his genius to give an impulse to the tide of success that now flowed upon him, was, unquestionably, the peculiarity of his personal history and character. There had been, in his very first introduction of himself to the public, a sufficient portion of singularity to excite strong attention and interest. While all other youths of
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 345
talent, in his high station, are heralded into life by the applauses and anticipations of a host of friends, young Byron stood forth alone, unannounced by either praise or promise,—the representative of an ancient house, whose name, long lost in the gloomy solitudes of Newstead, seemed to have just awakened from the sleep of half a century in his person. The circumstances that, in succession, followed,—the prompt vigour of his reprisals upon the assailants of his fame,—his disappearance, after this achievement, from the scene of his triumph, without deigning even to wait for the laurels which he had earned, and his departure on a far pilgrimage, whose limits he left to chance and fancy,—all these successive incidents had thrown an air of adventure round the character of the young poet, which prepared his readers to meet half-way the impressions of his genius. Instead of finding him, on a nearer view, fall short of their imaginations, the new features of his disposition now disclosed to them far outwent, in peculiarity and interest, whatever they might have preconceived; while the curiosity and sympathy awakened by what he suffered to transpire of his history were still more heightened by the mystery of his allusions to much that yet remained untold. The late losses, by death, which he had sustained, and mourned, it was manifest, so deeply, gave a reality to the notion formed of him by his admirers which seemed to authorise them in imagining still more; and what has been said of the poet Young, that he found out the art of “making the public a party to his private sorrows,” may be, with infinitely more force and truth, applied to Lord Byron.

On that circle of society with whom he came immediately in contact, these personal influences acted with increased force from being assisted by others, which, to female imaginations especially, would have presented a sufficiency of attraction, even without the great qualities joined with them. His youth,—the noble beauty of his countenance, and its constant play of lights and shadows,—the gentleness of his voice and manner to women, and his occasional haughtiness to men,—the alleged singularities of his mode of life, which kept curiosity alive and inquisitive,—all these lesser traits and habitudes concurred towards the quick spread of his fame; nor can it be denied that, among many purer
346 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
sources of interest in his Poem, the allusions which he makes to instances of “successful passion” in his career* were not without their influence on the fancies of that sex, whose weakness it is to be most easily won by those who come recommended by the greatest number of triumphs over others.

That his rank was also to be numbered among these extrinsic advantages appears to have been,—partly, perhaps, from a feeling of modesty at the time,—his own persuasion. “I may place a great deal of it,” said he to Mr. Dallas, “to my being a lord.” It might be supposed that it is only on a rank inferior to his own such a charm could operate; but this very speech is, in itself, a proof, that in no class whatever is the advantage of being noble more felt and appreciated than among nobles themselves. It was, also, natural that, in that circle, the admiration of the new poet should be, at least, quickened by the consideration that he had sprung up among themselves, and that their order had, at length, produced a man of genius, by whom the arrears of contribution, long due from them to the treasury of English literature, would be at once fully and splendidly discharged.

Altogether, taking into consideration the various points I have here enumerated, it may be asserted, that never did there exist before, and, it is most probable, never will exist again, a combination of such vast mental power and surpassing genius, with so many other of those advantages and attractions, by which the world is, in general, dazzled and captivated. The effect was, accordingly, electric;—his fame had not to wait for any of the ordinary gradations, but seemed to spring up, like the palace of a fairy tale, in a night. As he himself briefly described it in

* Little knew she, that seeming marble heart,
Now mask’d in silence, or withheld by pride,
Was not unskilful in the spoiler’s art,
And spread its snares licentious far and wide.”

We have here another instance of his propensity to self-misrepresentation. However great might have been the irregularities of his college life, such phrases as the “art of the spoiler” and “spreading snares” were in nowise applicable to them.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 347
Memoranda,—“I awoke one morning and found myself famous.” The first edition of his work was disposed of instantly; and, as the echoes of its reputation multiplied on all sides, “Childe Harold” and “Lord Byron” became the theme of every tongue. At his door, most of the leading names of the day presented themselves,—some of them persons whom he had much wronged in his Satire, but who now forgot their resentment in generous admiration. From morning till night the most flattering testimonies of his success crowded his table,—from the grave tributes of the statesman and the philosopher down to (what flattered him still more) the romantic billet of some incognita, or the pressing note of invitation from some fair leader of fashion; and, in place of the desert which London had been to him but a few weeks before, he now not only saw the whole splendid interior of High Life thrown open to receive him, but found himself, among its illustrious crowds, the most distinguished object.

The copyright of the Poem, which was purchased by Mr. Murray for 600l., he presented, in the most delicate and unostentatious manner, to Mr. Dallas, saying, at the same time, that he “never would receive money for his writings;”—a resolution, the mixed result of generosity and pride, which he afterwards wisely abandoned, though borne out by the example of Swift† and Voltaire, the latter of whom gave most of his copyrights to Prault and other booksellers, and received books, not money, for those he disposed of otherwise. To his young friend, Mr. Harness, it had been his intention, at first, to dedicate the work, but, on further consideration, he relinquished his design; and in a letter to that gentleman (which, with some others, is unfortunately lost) alleged, as his reason for this change, the prejudice which, he foresaw, some parts of the poem would raise against himself, and his fear lest, by any pos-

* “After speaking to him of the sale, and settling the new edition, I said, ‘How can I possibly think of this rapid sale, and the profits likely to ensue, without recollecting—’ ‘What?’—‘Think what sum your work may produce.’ ‘I shall be rejoiced, and wish it doubled and trebled; but do not talk to me of money. I never will receive money for my writings.’”—Dallas’s Recollections.

† In a letter to Pulteney, 12th May, 1735, Swift says “I never got a farthing for any thing I writ, except once.”

348 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

sibility, a share of the odium might so far extend itself to his friend, as to injure him in the profession to which he was about to devote himself.

Not long after the publication of Childe Harold, the noble author paid me a visit, one morning, and, putting a letter into my hands, which he had just received, requested that I would undertake to manage for him whatever proceedings it might render necessary. This letter, I found, had been delivered to him by Mr. Leckie (a gentleman well known by a work on Sicilian affairs), and came from a once active and popular member of the fashionable world, Colonel Greville,—its purport being to require of his lordship, as author of “English Bards, &c.” such reparation as it was in his power to make for the injury which, as Colonel Greville conceived, certain passages in that satire, reflecting upon his conduct, as manager of the Argyle Institution, were calculated to inflict upon his character. In the appeal of the gallant colonel, there were some expressions of rather an angry cast, which Lord Byron, though fully conscious of the length to which he himself had gone, was but little inclined to brook, and, on my returning the letter into his hands, he said, “To such a letter as that there can be but one sort of answer.” He agreed, however, to trust the matter entirely to my discretion, and I had, shortly after, an interview with the friend of Colonel Greville. By this gentleman, who was then an utter stranger to me, I was received with much courtesy, and with every disposition to bring the affair intrusted to us to an amicable issue. On my premising that the tone of his friend’s letter stood in the way of negotiation, and that some obnoxious expressions which it contained must be removed before I could proceed a single step towards explanation, he most readily consented to remove this obstacle. At his request I drew a pen across the parts I considered objectionable, and he undertook to send me the letter, re-written, next morning. In the mean time I received from Lord Byron the following paper for my guidance.

“With regard to the passage on Mr. Way’s loss, no unfair play was hinted at, as may be seen by referring to the book; and it is expressly added that the managers were ignorant of that transaction. As to the prevalence of play at the Argyle, it cannot be denied that
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 349
there were billiards and dice;—Lord B. has been a witness to the use of both at the Argyle Rooms. These, it is presumed, come under the denomination of play. If play be allowed, the President of the Institution can hardly complain of being termed the ‘Arbiter of Play,’—or what becomes of his authority?

“Lord B. has no personal animosity to Colonel Greville. A public institution, to which he, himself, was a subscriber, he considered himself to have a right to notice publicly. Of that institution, Colonel Greville was the avowed director;—it is too late to enter into the discussion of its merits or demerits.

“Lord B. must leave the discussion of the reparation, for the real or supposed injury, to Colonel G.’s friend and Mr. Moore, the friend of Lord B.—begging them to recollect that, while they consider Colonel G.’s honour, Lord B. must also maintain his own. If the business can be settled amicably, Lord B. will do as much as can and ought to be done by a man of honour towards conciliation;—if not, he must satisfy Colonel G. in the manner most conducive to his further wishes.”

In the morning I received the letter, in its new form, from Mr. Leckie, with the annexed note.


“I found my friend very ill in bed; he has, however, managed to copy the inclosed, with the alterations proposed. Perhaps you may wish to see me in the morning; I shall therefore be glad to see you any time till twelve o’clock. If you rather wish me to call on you, tell me, and I shall obey your summons.

“Yours, very truly,
G. T. Leckie.”

With such facilities towards pacification, it is almost needless to add that there was but little delay in settling the matter amicably.

While upon this subject, I shall avail myself of the opportunity which it affords of extracting an amusing account given by Lord Byron
350 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
himself of some affairs of this description, in which he was, at different times, employed as mediator.

“I have been called in as mediator, or second, at least twenty times, in violent quarrels, and have always contrived to settle the business without compromising the honour of the parties, or leading them to mortal consequences, and this too sometimes in very difficult and delicate circumstances, and having to deal with very hot and haughty spirits,—Irishmen, gamesters, guardsmen, captains, and cornets of horse, and the like. This was, of course, in my youth, when I lived in hot-headed company. I have had to carry challenges from gentlemen to noblemen, from captains to captains, from lawyers to counsellors, and once from a clergyman to an officer in the life-guards; but I found the latter by far the most difficult,
‘to compose
The bloody duel without blows,’
the business being about a woman; I must add too, that I never saw a woman behave so ill, like a cold-blooded, heartless b— as she was,—but very handsome, for all that. A certain Susan C * * was she called. I never saw her but once; and that was to induce her but to say two words (which in no degree compromised herself), and which would have had the effect of saving a priest or a lieutenant of cavalry. She would not say them, and neither
N * * or myself (the son of Sir E. N * *, and a friend to one of the parties) could prevail upon her to say them, though both of us used to deal in some sort with womankind. At last I managed to quiet the combatants without her talisman, and, I believe, to her great disappointment; she was the damnedest b— that I ever saw, and I have seen a great many. Though my clergyman was sure to lose either his life or his living, he was as warlike as the Bishop of Beauvais, and would hardly be pacified; but then he was in love, and that is a martial passion.”

However disagreeable it was to find the consequences of his Satire thus rising up against him in a hostile shape, he was far more embarrassed in those cases where the retribution took a friendly form. Being now daily in the habit of meeting and receiving kindnesses from persons who,
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 351
either in themselves, or through their relatives, had been wounded by his pen, he felt every fresh instance of courtesy from such quarters to be (as he sometimes, in the strong language of scripture, expressed it) like “heaping coals of fire upon his head.” He was, indeed, in a remarkable degree, sensitive to the kindness or displeasure of those he lived with; and had he passed a life subject to the immediate influence of society, it may be doubted whether he ever would have ventured upon those unbridled bursts of energy, in which he, at once, demonstrated and abused his power. At the period when he ran riot in his Satire, society had not yet caught him within its pale; and in the time of his
Cains and Don Juans, he had again broken loose from it. Hence, his instinct towards a life of solitude and independence, as the true element of his strength. In his own domain of imagination he could defy the whole world; while, in real life, a frown or smile could rule him. The facility with which he sacrificed his first volume, at the mere suggestion of his friend, Mr. Becher, is a strong proof of this pliableness; and in the instance of Childe Harold, such influence had the opinions of Mr. Gifford and Mr. Dallas on his mind, that he not only shrunk from his original design of identifying himself with his hero, but surrendered to them one of his most favourite stanzas, whose heterodoxy they had objected to; nor is it too much, perhaps, to conclude, that had a more extended force of such influence then acted upon him, he would have consented to omit the sceptical parts of his poem altogether. Certain it is that, during the remainder of his stay in England, no such doctrines were ever again obtruded on his readers; and in all those beautiful creations of his fancy, with which he brightened that whole period. keeping the public eye in one prolonged gaze of admiration, both the bitterness and the licence of his impetuous spirit were kept effectually under control. The world, indeed, had yet to witness what he was capable of, when emancipated from this restraint. For, graceful and powerful as were his flights while society had still a hold of him, it was not till let loose from the leash that he rose into the true region of his strength; and though almost in proportion to that strength was, too frequently, his abuse of it, yet so magnificent are the very excesses of such energy, that it is impossible, even while we condemn, not to admire.

352 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

The occasion by which I have been led into these remarks,—namely, his sensitiveness on the subject of his Satire,—is one of those instances that show how easily his gigantic spirit could be, if not held down, at least entangled, by the small ties of society. The aggression of which he had been guilty was not only past, but, by many of those most injured, forgiven; and yet,—highly, it must be allowed, to the credit of his social feelings,—the idea of living familiarly and friendly with persons, respecting whose character or talents there were such opinions of his on record, became, at length, insupportable to him; and, though far advanced in a fifth edition of “English Bards, &c.” he came to the resolution of suppressing the Satire altogether; and orders were sent to Cawthorn, the publisher, to commit the whole impression to the flames. At the same time, and from similar motives,—aided, I rather think, by a friendly remonstrance from Lord Elgin, or some of his connexions,—the “Curse of Minerva,” a poem levelled against that nobleman, and already in progress towards publication, was also sacrificed; while the “Hints from Horace,” though containing far less personal satire than either of the others, shared their fate.

To exemplify what I have said of his extreme sensibility to the passing sunshine or clouds of the society in which he lived, I need but cite the following notes, addressed by him to his friend Mr. William Bankes, under the apprehension that this gentleman was, for some reason or other, displeased with him.

“April 20th. 1812.

“I feel rather hurt (not savagely) at the speech you made to me last night, and my hope is, that it was only one of your profane jests. I should be very sorry that any part of my behaviour should give you cause to suppose that I think higher of myself, or otherwise of you, than I have always done. I can assure you that I am as much the humblest of your servants as at Trin. Coll.; and if I have not been at home when
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 353
you favoured me with a call, the loss was more mine than yours. In the bustle of buzzing parties, there is, there can be, no rational conversation; but when I can enjoy it, there is nobody’s I can prefer to your own.

“Believe me ever faithfully
“and most affectionately yours,

“My eagerness to come to an explanation has, I trust, convinced you that whatever my unlucky manner might inadvertently be, the change was as unintentional as (if intended) it would have been ungrateful. I really was not aware that, while we were together, I had evinced such caprices; that we were not so much in each other’s company as I could have wished, I well know, but I think so acute an observer as yourself must have perceived enough to explain this, without supposing any slight to one in whose society I have pride and pleasure. Recollect that I do not allude here to ‘extended’ or ‘extending’ acquaintances, but to circumstances you will understand, I think, on a little reflection.

“And now, my dear Bankes, do not distress me by supposing that I can think of you, or you of me, otherwise than I trust we have long thought. You told me not long ago that my temper was improved, and I should be sorry that opinion should be revoked. Believe me, your friendship is of more account to me than all those absurd vanities in which, I fear, you conceive me to take too much interest. I have never disputed your superiority, or doubted (seriously) your good will, and no one shall ever ‘make mischief between us’ without the sincere regret on the part of your ever affectionate, &c.

“P.S. I shall see you, I hope, at Lady Jersey’s. Hobhouse goes also.”

In the month of April he was again tempted to try his success in the House of Lords, and, on the motion of Lord Donoughmore for
354 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
taking into consideration the claims of the Irish catholics, delivered his sentiments strongly in favour of the proposition. His display, on this occasion, seems to have been less promising than in his first essay. His delivery was thought mouthing and theatrical, being infected, I take for granted (having never heard him speak in Parliament), with the same chanting tone that disfigured his recitation of poetry,—a tone contracted at most of the public schools, but more particularly, perhaps, at Harrow, and encroaching just enough on the boundaries of song to offend those ears most by which song is best enjoyed and understood.

On the subject of the negotiations for a change of ministry which took place during this session, I find the following anecdotes recorded in his note-book.

“At the opposition meeting of the Peers, in 1812, at Lord Grenville’s, when Lord Grey and he read to us the correspondence upon Moira’s negotiation, I sate next to the present Duke of Grafton, and said, ‘What is to be done next?’—‘Wake the Duke of Norfolk’ (who was snoring away near us), replied he: ‘I don’t think the negotiators have left any thing else for us to do this turn.’

“In the debate, or rather discussion, afterwards in the House of Lords upon that very question, I sate immediately behind Lord Moira, who was extremely annoyed at Grey’s speech upon the subject; and, while Grey was speaking, turned round to me repeatedly, and asked me whether I agreed with him. It was an awkward question to me, who had not heard both sides. Moira kept repeating to me, ‘It was not so, it was so and so,’ &c. I did not know very well what to think, but I sympathised with the acuteness of his feelings upon the subject.”

The subject of the catholic claims was, it is well known, brought forward a second time this session by Lord Wellesley, whose motion for a future consideration of the question was carried by a majority of one. In reference to this division, another rather amusing anecdote is thus related.

Lord * * affects an imitation of two very different Chancellors, Thurlow and Loughborough, and can indulge in an oath now and then. On one of the debates on the catholic question, when we were either equal or within one (I forget which), I had been sent for in great haste
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 355
to a ball, which I quitted, I confess, somewhat reluctantly, to emancipate five millions of people. I came in late, and did not go immediately into the body of the House, but stood just behind the woolsack. * * turned round, and, catching my eye, immediately said to a peer (who had come to him for a few minutes on the woolsack, as is the custom of his friends), ‘Damn them’ they’ll have it now—by G—d! the vote that is just come in will give it them.”

During all this time, the impression which he had produced in society, both as a poet and a man, went on daily increasing; and the facility with which he gave himself up to the current of fashionable life, and mingled in all the gay scenes through which it led, showed that the novelty, at least, of this mode of existence had charms for him, however he might estimate its pleasures. That sort of vanity which is almost inseparable from genius, and which consists in an extreme sensitiveness on the subject of self, Lord Byron, I need not say, possessed in no ordinary decree; and never was there a career in which this sensibility to the opinions of others was exposed to more constant and various excitement than that on which he was now entered. I find in a note of my own to him, written at this period, some jesting allusions to the “circle of star-gazers” whom I had left around him at some party on the preceding night;—and such, in fact, was the flattering ordeal he had to undergo wherever he went. On these occasions,—particularly before the range of his acquaintance had become sufficiently extended to set him wholly at his ease,—his air and port were those of one whose better thoughts were elsewhere, and who looked with melancholy abstraction on the gay crowd around him. This deportment, so rare in such scenes, and so accordant with the romantic notions entertained of him, was the result partly of shyness, and partly, perhaps, of that love of effect and impression to which the poetical character of his mind naturally led. Nothing, indeed, could be more amusing and delightful than the contrast which his manner afterwards, when we were alone, presented to his proud reserve in the brilliant circle we had just left. It was like the bursting gaiety of a boy let loose from school, and seemed as if there was no extent of fun or tricks of which he was not capable. Finding him invariably thus
356 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
lively when we were together, I often rallied him on the gloomy tone of his poetry, as assumed; but his constant answer was (and I soon ceased to doubt of its truth), that, though thus merry and full of laughter with those he liked, he was, at heart, one of the most melancholy wretches in existence.

Among the numerous notes which I received from him at this time,—some of them relating to our joint engagements in society, and others to matters now better forgotten,—I shall select a few that (as showing his haunts and habits) may not, perhaps, be uninteresting.

“March 25th, 1812.

“Know all men by these presents, that you, Thomas Moore, stand indicted—no—invited, by special and particular solicitation, to Lady C. L * *’s to-morrow even, at half-past nine o’clock, where you will meet with a civil reception and decent entertainment. Pray, come—I was so examined after you this morning, that I entreat you to answer in person.

“Believe me, &c.”
“Friday, noon.

“I should have answered your note yesterday, but I hoped to have seen you this morning. I must consult with you about the day we dine with Sir Francis. I suppose we shall meet at Lady Spencer’s to-night. I did not know that you were at Miss Berry’s the other night, or I should have certainly gone there.

“As usual, I am in all sorts of scrapes, though none, at present, of a martial description. Believe me, &c.’

“May 8th, 1812.

“I am too proud of being your friend to care with whom I am linked in your estimation, and, God knows, I want friends more at this time than at any other. I am ‘taking care of myself’ to no great purpose. If you knew my situation in every point of view, you would excuse apparent and unintentional neglect. * * * * * * * *
I shall leave town, I think; but do not you leave it without seeing me.
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 357
I wish you, from my soul, every happiness you can wish yourself; and I think you have taken the road to secure it. Peace be with you! I fear she has abandoned me. Ever, &c.”

“May 20th, 1812.

“On Monday, after sitting up all night, I saw Bellingham launched into eternity, and at three the same day I saw * * * launched into the country. * * * *

“I believe, in the beginning of June, I shall be down for a few days in Notts. If so, I shall beat you up ’en passant’ with Hobhouse, who is endeavouring, like you and every body else, to keep me out of scrapes.

“I meant to have written you a long letter, but I find I cannot. If any thing remarkable occurs, you will hear it from me—if good; if bad, there are plenty to tell it. In the mean time, do you be happy.

“Ever yours, &c.

“P.S. My best wishes and respects to Mrs. * *;—she is beautiful. I may say so even to you, for I never was more struck with a countenance.”

Among the tributes to his fame, this spring, it should have been mentioned that, at some evening party, he had the honour of being

* He had taken a window opposite for the purpose, and was accompanied on the occasion by his old schoolfellows, Mr. Bailey and Mr. John Madocks. They went together from some assembly, and, on their arriving at the spot, about three o’clock in the morning, not finding the house that was to receive them open, Mr. Madocks undertook to rouse the inmates, while Lord Byron and Mr. Bailey sauntered, arm and arm, up the street. During this interval, rather a painful scene occurred. Seeing an unfortunate woman lying on the steps of a door, Lord Byron, with some expression of compassion, offered her a few shillings; but, instead of accepting them, she violently pushed away his hand, and, starting up with a yell of laughter, began to mimic the lameness of his gait. He did not utter a ward, but “I could feel,” said Mr. Bailey, “his arm trembling within mine, as we left her.”

I may take this opportunity of mentioning another anecdote connected with his lameness. In coming out, one night, from a ball, with Mr. Rogers, as they were on their way to their carriage, one of the link-boys ran on before Lord Byron, crying “This way, my lord.” “He seems to know you,” said Mr. Rogers. “Know me!” answered Lord Byron, with some degree of bitterness in his tone—“every one knows me,—I am deformed.”

358 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
presented, at that royal personage’s own desire, to the
Prince Regent. “The Regent,” says Mr. Dallas, “expressed his admiration of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and continued a conversation, which so fascinated the poet, that, had it not been for an accidental deferring of the next levee, he bade fair to become a visitor at Carlton House, if not a complete courtier.”

After this wise prognostic, the writer adds,—“I called on him on the morning for which the levee had been appointed, and found him in a full-dress court suit of clothes, with his fine black hair in powder, which by no means suited his countenance. I was surprised, as he had not told me that he should go to court; and it seemed to me as if he thought it necessary to apologize for his intention, by his observing that he could not in decency but do it, as the Regent had done him the honour to say that he hoped to see him soon at Carlton House.”

In the two letters that follow we find his own account of the introduction.

“June 25th, 1812.

“I must appear very ungrateful, and have, indeed, been very negligent, but till last night I was not apprized of Lady Holland’s restoration, and I shall call to-morrow to have the satisfaction, I trust, of hearing that she is well.—I hope that neither politics nor gout have assailed your lordship since I last saw you, and that you also are ‘as well as could be expected.’

“The other night, at a ball, I was presented by order to our gracious Regent, who honoured me with some conversation, and professed a predilection for poetry.—I confess it was a most unexpected honour, and I thought of poor B—s’s adventure, with some apprehensions of a similar blunder. I have now great hope, in the event of Mr. Pye’s decease, of ‘warbling truth at court,’ like Mr. Mallet of indifferent memory.—Consider, 100 marks a year! besides the wine and the disgrace; but then
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 359
remorse would make me drown myself in my own butt before the year’s end, or the finishing of my first dithyrambic.—So that, after all, I shall not meditate our laureate’s death by pen or poison.

“Will you present my best respects to Lady Holland, and believe me hers and yours very sincerely.”

The second letter, entering much more fully into the particulars of this interview with Royalty, was in answer, it will be perceived, to some inquiries which Sir Walter Scott (then Mr. Scott) had addressed to him on the subject; and the whole account reflects even still more honour the Sovereign himself than on the two poets.

“St. James’s-street, July 6th, 1812.

“I have just been honoured with your letter.—I feel sorry that you should have thought it worth while to notice the ‘evil works of my nonage,’ as the thing is suppressed voluntarily, and your explanation is too kind not to give me pain. The Satire was written when I was very young and very angry, and fully bent on displaying my wrath and my wit, and now I am haunted by the ghosts of my wholesale assertions. I cannot sufficiently thank you for your praise; and now, waving myself, let me talk to you of the Prince Regent. He ordered me to be presented to him at a ball; and after some sayings peculiarly pleasing from royal lips, as to my own attempts, he talked to me of you and your immortalities: he preferred you to every bard past and present, and asked which of your works pleased me most. It was a difficult question. I answered, I thought the ‘Lay.’ He said his own opinion was nearly similar. In speaking of the others. I told him that I thought you more particularly the poet of Princes, as they never appeared more fascinating than in ‘Marmion’ and the ‘Lady of the Lake.’ ‘He was pleased to coincide, and to dwell on the description of your Jameses as no less royal than poetical. He spoke alternately of Homer and yourself, and seemed
360 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
well acquainted with both; so that (with the exception of the Turks and your humble servant) you were in very good company. I defy
Murray to have exaggerated his royal highness’s opinion of your powers, nor can I pretend to enumerate all he said on the subject; but it may give you pleasure to hear that it was conveyed in language which would only suffer by my attempting to transcribe it, and with a tone and taste which gave me a very high idea of his abilities and accomplishments, which I had hitherto considered as confined to manners, certainly superior to those of any living gentleman.

“This interview was accidental. I never went to the levee; for having seen the courts of Mussulman and Catholic sovereigns, my curiosity was sufficiently allayed; and my politics being as perverse as my rhymes, I had, in fact, ‘no business there.’ To be thus praised by your Sovereign must be gratifying to you; and if that gratification is not alloyed by the communication being made through me, the bearer of it will consider himself very fortunately and sincerely

“Your obliged and obedient servant,

“P.S. Excuse this scrawl, scratched in a great hurry and just after a journey.”

During the summer of this year he paid visits to some of his noble friends, and, among others, to the Earl of Jersey and the Marquis of Lansdowne. “In 1812,” he says, “at Middleton (Lord Jersey’s), amongst a goodly company of lords, ladies, and wits, &c., there was * * *†

Erskine, too! Erskine was there; good, but intolerable. He jested, he talked, he did every thing admirably, but then he would be applauded for the same thing twice over. He would read his own verses, his own paragraph, and tell his own story, again and again; and then ‘the Trial by Jury!!!’ I almost wished it abolished, for I sate next him at dinner. As I had read his published speeches, there was no occasion to repeat them to me.

C * * (the fox-hunter), nicknamed ‘Cheek C * *’, and I sweated the claret, being the only two who did so. C * *, who loves his bottle,

† A review, somewhat too critical, of some of the guests is here omitted.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 361
and had no notion of meeting with a ‘bon-vivant’ in a scribbler*, in making my eulogy to somebody one evening, summed it up in—‘By G—d, he drinks like a man!’

“Nobody drank, however, but C * * and I. To be sure, there was little occasion, for we swept off what was on the table (a most splendid board, as may be supposed, at Jersey’s) very sufficiently. However, we carried our liquor discreetly, like the Baron of Bradwardine.”

In the month of August this year, on the completion of the new Theatre Royal, Drury-lane, the Committee of Management, desirous of procuring an Address for the opening of the theatre, took the rather novel mode of inviting, by an advertisement in the newspapers, the competition of all the poets of the day towards this object. Though the contributions that ensued were sufficiently numerous, it did not appear to the Committee that there was any one among the number worthy of selection. In this difficulty, it occurred to Lord Byron, whose popularity would give additional vogue to the solemnity of their opening, and to whose transcendant claims, as a poet, it was taken for granted (though without sufficient allowance, as it proved, for the irritability of the brotherhood), even the rejected candidates themselves would bow without a murmur. The first result of this application to the noble poet will be learned from what follows.

“Cheltenham, September 10th, 1812.

“The lines which I sketched off on your hint are still, or rather were, in an unfinished state, for I have just committed them to a flame more decisive than that of Drury. Under all the circumstances, I should

* For the first day or two, at Middleton, he did not join his noble host’s party till after dinner, but took his scanty repast of biscuits and soda water in his own room. Being told by somebody that the gentleman above-mentioned had pronounced such habits to be “effeminate,”

362 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
hardly wish a contest with Philo-drama—Philo-Drury—Asbestos,
H * *, and all the anonymes and synonymes of the Committee candidates. Seriously, I think you have a chance of something much better; for prologuizing is not my forte, and, at all events, either my pride or my modesty won’t let me incur the hazard of having my rhymes buried in next month’s Magazine, under ‘Essays on the Murder of Mr. Perceval,’ and ‘Cures for the Bite of a Mad Dog,’ as poor Goldsmith complained of the fate of far superior performances.

“I am still sufficiently interested to wish to know the successful candidate; and, amongst so many, I have no doubt some will be excellent, particularly in an age when writing verse is the easiest of all attainments.

“I cannot answer your intelligence with the ‘like comfort,’ unless, as you are deeply theatrical, you may wish to hear of Mr. * *, whose acting is, I fear, utterly inadequate to the London engagement into which the managers of Covent-garden have lately entered. His figure is fat, his features flat, his voice unmanageable, his action ungraceful, and, as Diggory says, ‘I defy him to extort that d—d muffin face of his into madness.’ I was very sorry to see him in the character of the ‘Elephant on the slack rope;’ for, when I last saw him, I was in raptures with his performance. But then I was sixteen,—an age to which all London then condescended to subside. After all, much better judges have admired, and may again; but I venture to ‘prognosticate a prophecy’ (see the Courier) that he will not succeed.

“So, poor dear Rogers has stuck fast on ‘the brow of the mighty Helvellyn’—I hope not for ever. My best respects to Lady H.—her departure, with that of my other friends, was a sad event for me, now reduced to a state of the most cynical solitude. ‘By the waters of Cheltenham I sat down and drank, when I remembered thee, oh Georgiana Cottage! As for our harps, we hanged them up upon the willows that grew thereby. Then they said, Sing us a song of Drury-lane,’ &c.—but I am dumb and dreary as the Israelites. The waters

he resolved to show the “fox-hunter” that he could be, on occasion, as good a bon-vivant as himself, and, by his prowess at the claret next day, after dinner, drew forth from Mr. C * * the eulogium here recorded.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 363
have disordered me to my heart’s content,—you were right, as you always are.

“Believe me ever your obliged
“and affectionate servant,

The request of the Committee for his aid having been, still more urgently, repeated, he, at length, notwithstanding the difficulty and invidiousness of the task, from his strong wish to oblige Lord Holland, consented to undertake it; and the following series of quick succeeding notes and letters, which he addressed, during the completion of the Address, to his noble friend, will, by the literary reader, at least, be thought well worth perusal,—as affording a proof (in conjunction with others, of still more interest, yet to be cited) of the pains he, at this time, took in improving and polishing his first conceptions, and the importance he wisely attached to a judicious choice of epithets as a means of enriching both the music and meaning of his verse. They also show, what, as an illustration of his character, is even still more valuable,—the exceeding pliancy and good humour with which he could yield to friendly suggestions and criticisms; nor can it be questioned, I think, but that the docility thus invariably exhibited by him, on points where most poets are found to be tenacious and irritable, was a quality natural to his disposition, and which might have been turned to account in far more important matters, had he been fortunate enough to meet with persons capable of understanding and guiding him.

“September 22d, 1812.

“In a day or two I will send you something which you will still have the liberty to reject if you dislike it. I should like to have had more time, but will do my best,—but too happy if I can oblige you, though I may offend 100 scribblers and the discerning public.

“Ever yours.
364 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

“Keep my name a secret; or I shall be beset by all the rejected, and, perhaps, damned by a party.”

“Cheltenham, September 23d, 1812.

“Ecco!—I have marked some passages with double readings—choose between them—cut—add—reject—or destroy—do with them as you will—I leave it to you and the Committee—you cannot say so called ‘a non committendo.’ What will they do (and I do) with the hundred and one rejected Troubadours? ‘With trumpets, yea, and with shawms,’ will you be assailed in the most diabolical doggerel. I wish my name not to transpire till the day is decided. I shall not be in town, so it won’t much matter; but let us have a good deliverer. I think Elliston should be the man, or Pope; not Raymond, I implore you, by the love of Rhythmus!

The passages marked thus == ==, above and below, are for you to choose between epithets, and such like poetical furniture. Pray, write me a line, and believe me ever, &c.

“My best remembrances to Lady H. Will you be good enough to decide between the various readings marked, and erase the other; or our deliverer may be as puzzled as a commentator, and belike repeat both. If these versicles won’t do, I will hammer out some more endecasyllables.

“P.S. Tell Lady H. I have had sad work to keep out the Phœnix—I mean the Fire-Office of that name. It has insured the theatre, and why not the Address?”

“September 24th.

“I send a recast of the four first lines of the concluding paragraph.
“This greeting o’er, the ancient rule obey’d,
The drama’s homage by her Herald paid,
Receive our welcome too, whose every tone
Springs from our hearts, and fain would win your own.
The curtain rises, &c. &c.
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 365
And do forgive all this trouble. See what it is to have to do even with the genteelest of us. Ever, &c

“Cheltenham, Sept. 25th, 1812.

“Still ‘more matter for a May morning.’ Having patched the middle and end of the Address, I send one more couplet for a part of the beginning, which, if not too turgid, you will have the goodness to add. After that flagrant image of the Thames (I hope no unlucky wag will say I have set it on fire, though Dryden, in his ‘Annus Mirabilis,’ and Churchill, in his ‘Times,’ did it before me), I mean to insert this:
As flashing far the new Volcano shone
And swept the skies with { meteors | lightnings } not their own,
While thousands throng’d around the burning dome, &c. &c.
I think ‘thousands’ less flat than ‘crowds collected’—but don’t let me plunge into the bathos, or rise into
Nat. Lee’s Bedlam metaphors. By the by, the best view of the said fire (which I myself saw from a housetop in Covent-garden) was at Westminster Bridge, from the reflection on the Thames.

“Perhaps the present couplet had better come in after ‘trembled for their homes,’ the two lines after;—as otherwise the image certainly sinks, and it will run just as well.

“The lines themselves, perhaps, may be better thus—(‘choose,’ or ‘refuse’—but please yourself, and don’t mind ‘Sir Fretful’)—
“As flash’d the volumed blaze, and { sadly | ghastly } shone
The skies with lightnings awful as their own.
The last runs smoothest and, I think, best; but you know better than best. ‘Lurid’ is also a less indistinct epithet than ‘livid wave,’ and, if you think so, a dash of the pen will do.

366 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

“I expected one line this morning; In the mean time, I shall remodel and condense, and, if I do not hear from you, shall send another copy.

“I am ever, &c.”
“September 26th, 1812.

“You will think there is no end to my villanous emendations. The fifth and sixth lines I think to alter thus:
“Ye who beheld—oh sight admired and mourn’d,
Whose radiance mock’d the ruin it adorn’d;
because ‘night’ is repeated the next line but one; and, as it now stands, the conclusion of the paragraph, ‘worthy him (
Shakspeare) and you,’ appears to apply the ‘you’ to those only who were out of bed and in Covent-garden market on the night of conflagration, instead of the audience or the discerning public at large, all of whom are intended to be comprised in that comprehensive and, I hope, comprehensible pronoun.

“By the by, one of my corrections in the fair copy sent yesterday has dived into the bathos some sixty fathom—
“When Garrick died, and Brinsley ceased to write.
Ceasing to live is a much more serious concern, and ought not to be first; therefore I will let the old couplet stand, with its half rhymes ‘sought’ and ‘wrote*.’ Second thoughts in every thing are best, but, in rhyme, third and fourth don’t come amiss. I am very anxious on this business, and I do hope that the very trouble I occasion you will plead its own

* “Such are the names that here your plaudits sought,
When Garrick acted, and when Brinsley wrote.”

At present, the couplet stands thus:—

“Dear are the days that made our annals bright,
Ere Garrick fled, or Brinsley ceased to write.”

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 367
excuse, and that it will tend to show my endeavour to make the most of the time allotted. I wish I had known it months ago, for in that case I had not left one line standing on another. I always scrawl in this way, and smooth as much as I can, but never sufficiently; and, latterly, I can weave a nine-line stanza faster than a couplet, for which measure I have not the cunning. When I began ‘
Childe Harold,’ I had never tried Spenser’s measure, and now I cannot scribble in any other.

“After all. my dear lord, if you can get a decent Address elsewhere, don’t hesitate to put this aside. Why did you not trust your own Muse? I am very sure she would have been triumphant, and saved the Committee their trouble—‘’tis a joyful one’ to me, but I fear I shall not satisfy even myself. After the account you sent me, ’tis no compliment to say, you would have beaten your candidates; but I mean that, in that case, there would have been no occasion for their being beaten at all.

“There are but two decent prologues in our tongue—Pope’s to Cato—Johnson’s to Drury-lane. These, with the epilogue to the ‘Distrest Mother,’ and, I think, one of Goldsmith’s, and a prologue of old Colman’s to Beaumont and Fletcher’s Philaster, are the best things of the kind we have.

“P.S. I am diluted to the throat with medicine for the stone; and Boisragon wants me to try a warm climate for the winter—but I won’t.”

“September 27th, 1812.

“I have just received your very kind letter, and hope you have met with a second copy corrected and addressed to Holland house, with some omissions and this new couplet,
“As glared each rising flash*, and ghastly shone
The skies with lightnings awful as their own.

* At present, “As glared the volumed blaze.”

368 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
As to remarks, I can only say I will alter and acquiesce in any thing. With regard to the part which
Whitbread wishes to omit, I believe the Address will go off quicker without it, though, like the agility of the Hottentot, at the expense of its vigour. I leave to your choice entirely the different specimens of stucco-work; and a brick of your own will also much improve my Babylonish turret. I should like Elliston to have it, with your leave. ‘Adorn’ and ‘mourn’ are lawful rhymes in Pope’s Death of the unfortunate LadyGray has ‘forlorn’ and ‘mourn’—and ‘torn’ and ‘mourn’ are in Smollet’s famous Tears of Scotland.

“As there will probably be an outcry amongst the rejected, I hope the Committee will testify (if it be needful) that I sent in nothing to the congress whatever, with or without a name, as your lordship well knows. All I have to do with it is with and through you; and though I, of course, wish to satisfy the audience, I do assure you my first object is to comply with your request, and in so doing to show the sense I have of the many obligations you have conferred upon me.

“Yours ever,
“September 27th, 1812.

“I believe this is the third scrawl since yesterday—all about epithets. I think the epithet ‘intellectual’ won’t convey the meaning I intend; and, though I hate compounds, for the present I will try (col’ permesso) the word ‘genius-gifted patriarchs of our line*’ instead. Johnson has ‘many-coloured life,’ a compound—but they are always best avoided. However, it is the only one in ninety lines, but will be happy to give way to a better. I am ashamed to intrude any more remembrances on Lady H., or letters upon you; but you are, fortunately for me, gifted with patience already too often tried by

“Your, &c. &c.”

* This, as finally altered, is

“Immortal names, embazon’d on our line”

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 369
“September 28th, 1812.

Will this do better? the metaphor is more complete.
“Till slowly ebb’d the { lava of the | spent volcanic } wave,
And blackening ashes mark’d the Muse’s grave.
If not, we will say ‘burning’ wave, and instead of ‘burning clime,’ in the line some couplets back, have ‘glowing.’

“Is Whitbread determined to castrate all my cavalry lines*? I don’t see why t’other house should be spared; besides, it is the public, who ought to know better; and you recollect Johnson’s was against similar buffooneries of Rich’s—but, certes, I am not Johnson.

“Instead of ‘effects,’ say ‘labours’—‘degenerate’ will do, will it? Mr. Betty is no longer a babe, therefore the line cannot be personal.

* The lines he here alludes to, and which, in spite of all his efforts to retain them, were omitted by the Committee, ran thus:

Nay, lower still, the Drama yet deplores
That late she deign’d to crawl upon all-fours.
When Richard roars in Bosworth for a horse,
If you command, the steed must come in course.
If you decree, the Stage must condescend
To soothe the sickly taste we dare not mend.
Blame not our judgment should we acquiesce,
And gratify you more by showing less.
Oh, since your Fiat stamps the Drama’s laws,
Forbear to mock us with misplaced applause;
That public praise be ne’er again disgraced,
From { brutes to man recall | babes and brutes redeem } a nation’s taste;
Then pride shall doubly nerve the actors’ powers,
When Reason’s voice is echoed back by ours.”

The last couplet but one was again altered in a subsequent copy thus:—

The past reproach let present scenes refute,
Nor shift from man to babe, from babe to brute.

370 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

“Will this do?
“Till ebb’d the lava of { the burning | that molten } wave
with ‘glowing dome,’ in case you prefer ‘burning’ added to this ‘wave’ metaphorical. The word ‘fiery pillar’ was suggested by the ‘pillar of fire’ in the book of Exodus, which went before the Israelites through the Red Sea. I once thought of saying ‘like Israel’s pillar,’ and making it a simile, but I did not know,—the great temptation was leaving the epithet ‘fiery’ for the supplementary wave. I want to work up that passage, as it is the only new ground us prologuizers can go upon—
“This is the place where, if a poet
Shined in description, he might show it.”
If I part with the possibility of a future conflagration, we lessen the compliment to
Shakspeare. However, we will e’en mend it thus:
“Yes, it shall be—the magic of that name,
That scorns the scythe of Time, the torch of Flame,
On the same spot, &c. &c.
There—the deuce is in it, if that is not an improvement to
Whitbread’s content. Recollect, it is the ‘name,’ and not the ‘magic,’ that has a noble contempt for those same weapons. If it were the ‘magic,’ my metaphor would be somewhat of the maddest—so the ‘name’ is the antecedent. But, my dear lord, your patience is not quite so immortal—therefore, with many and sincere thanks, I am

“Yours ever most affectionately.

“P.S. I foresee there will be charges of partiality in the papers; but you know I sent in no Address; and glad both you and I must be that I did not, for, in that case, their plea had been plausible. I doubt the Pit will be testy; but conscious innocence (a novel and pleasing sensation) makes me bold.”

* The form of this couplet, as printed, is as follows:—

“Till blackening ashes and the lonely wall
Usurp’d the Muse’s realm, and mark’d her fall.”

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 371
Sept. 28.

“I have altered the middle couplet, so as I hope partly to do away with W.’s objection. I do think, in the present state of the stage, it had been unpardonable to pass over the horses and Miss Mudie, &c. As Betty is no longer a boy, how can this be applied to him? He is now to be judged as a man. If he acts still like a boy, the public will but be more ashamed of their blunder. I have, you see, now taken it for granted that these things are reformed. I confess, I wish that part of the Address to stand; but if W. is inexorable, e’en let it go. I have also new cast the lines and softened the hint of future combustion*, and sent them off this morning. Will you have the goodness to add, or insert, the approved alterations as they arrive? They ‘come like shadows, so depart;’ occupy me, and, I fear, disturb you.

“Do not let Mr. W. put his Address into Elliston’s hands till you have settled on these alterations. E. will think it too long:—much depends on the speaking. I fear it will not bear much curtailing, without chasms in the sense.

“It is certainly too long in the reading; but if Elliston exerts himself, such a favourite with the public will not be thought tedious. I should think it so, if he were not to speak it.

“Yours ever, &c.

“P.S. On looking again, I doubt my idea of having obviated W.’s objection. To the other House, allusion is a ‘non sequitur’—but I wish to plead for this part, because the thing really is not to be passed over. Many after-pieces at the Lyceum by the same company have already attacked this ‘Augean Stable’—and Johnson, in his prologue against ‘Lunn’ (the harlequin manager, Rich),—‘Hunt,’—‘Mahomet,’ &c. is surely a fair precedent.”

* It had been, originally,

Though other piles may sink in future flame,
On the same spot,” &c. &c.

372 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
“September 29th, 1812.

Shakspeare certainly ceased to reign in one of his kingdoms, as George III. did in America and George IV. may in Ireland*. Now, we have nothing to do out of our own realms, and when the monarchy was gone, his majesty had but a barren sceptre. I have cut away, you will see, and altered, but make it what you please; only I do implore, for my own gratification, one lash on those accursed quadrupeds—‘a long shot, Sir Lucius, if you love me.’ I have altered ‘wave,’ &c. and the ‘fire,’ and so forth, for the timid.

“Let me hear from you when convenient, and believe me, &c.

“P.S. Do let that stand, and cut out elsewhere. I shall choke, if we must overlook their d—d menagerie.”

“September 30th, 1819.

“I send you the most I can make of it; for I am not so well as I was, and find I ‘pall in resolution.’

“I wish much to see you, and will be at Tetbury by twelve on Saturday; and from thence I go on to Lord Jersey’s. It is impossible not to allude to the degraded state of the Stage, but I have lightened it, and endeavoured to obviate your other objections. There is a new couplet for Sheridan, allusive to his Monody. All the alterations I have marked thus |,— as you will see by comparison with the other copy. I have cudgelled my brains with the greatest willingness, and only wish I had more time to have done better.

“You will find a sort of clap-trap laudatory couplet inserted for the quiet of the Committee, and I have added, towards the end, the couplet you were pleased to like. The whole Address is seventy-three lines, still

* Some objection, it appears from this, had been made to the passage, “and Shakspeare ceased to reign.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 373
perhaps too long; and, if shortened, you will save time, but, I fear, a little of what I meant for sense also.

“With myriads of thanks, I am ever, &c.

“My sixteenth edition of respects to Lady H.—How she must laugh at all this!

“I wish Murray, my publisher, to print off some copies as soon as your lordship returns to town—it will ensure correctness in the papers afterwards.”

“Far be from him that hour which asks in vain
Tears such as flow for Garrick in his strain;
Far be that hour that vainly asks in turn
Such verse for him as { crown’d his | wept o’er } Garrick’s urn.
“Sept. 30, 1812.

“Will you choose between these added to the lines on Sheridan*? I think they will wind up the panegyric, and agree with the train of thought preceding them.

“Now, one word as to the Committee—how could they resolve on a rough copy of an Address never sent in, unless you had been good enough to retain in memory, or on paper, the thing they have been good enough to adopt? By the by, the circumstances of the ease should make the Committee less ‘avidus gloriæ,’ for all praise of them would look plaguy suspicious. If necessary to be stated at all, the simple facts bear them out. They surely had a right to act as they pleased. My sole object is one which, I trust, my whole conduct has shown; viz. that I did nothing insidious—sent in no Address whatever—but, when applied to, did my best for them and myself; but above all, that there was no undue partiality, which will be what the rejected will endeavour to make out.

* These added lines, as may be seen by reference to the printed Address, were not retained.

374 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
Fortunately—most fortunately—I sent in no lines on the occasion. For I am sure that had they, in that case, been preferred, it would have been asserted that I was known, and owed the preference to private friendship. This is what we shall probably have to encounter, but, if once spoken and approved, we sha’n’t be much embarrassed by their brilliant conjectures, and, as to criticism, an old author, like an old bull, grows cooler (or ought) at every baiting.

“The only thing would be to avoid a party on the night of delivery—afterwards, the more the better, and the whole transaction inevitably tends to a good deal of discussion. Murray tells me there are myriads of ironical Addresses ready—some, in imitation of what is called my style. If they are as good as the Probationary Odes, or Hawkins’s Pipe of Tobacco, it will not be bad fun for the imitated. “Ever, &c.”

“October 2, 1812.

“A copy of this still altered is sent by the post, but this will arrive first. It must be ‘humbler’—‘yet aspiring’ does away the modesty, and, after all, truth is truth. Besides, there is a puff direct altered, to please your plaguy renters.

“I shall be at Tetbury by 12 or 1—but send this for you to ponder over. There are several little things marked thus / altered for your perusal. I have dismounted the cavalry, and, I hope, arranged to your general satisfaction. “Ever, &c.

“At Tetbury by noon.—I hope, after it is sent, there will be no more elisions. It is not now so long—78 lines—two less than allotted. I will alter all Committee objections, but I hope you won’t permit Elliston to have any voice whatever,—except in speaking it.”

The time comprised in this series of letters to Lord Holland,—which, as being exclusively on one subject, I have thought it right to give without interruption,—Lord Byron passed, for the most part, at Cheltenham; and during the same period the following letters to other correspondents were written.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 375
“High-street, Cheltenham, Sept. 5th, 1812.

“Pray have the goodness to send those despatches, and a No. of the Edinburgh Review with the rest. I hope you have written to Mr. Thompson, thanked him in my name for his present, and told him that I shall be truly happy to comply with his request.—How do you go on? and when is the graven image, ‘with bays and wicked rhyme upon’t,’ to grace, or disgrace, some of our tardy editions?

“Send me ‘Rokeby.’ Who the devil is he?—no matter, he has good connexions, and will be well introduced. I thank you for your inquiries: I am so, so, but my thermometer is sadly below the poetical point. What will you give me or mine for a poem of six Cantos (when completeno rhyme, no recompense), as like the last two as I can make them? I have some ideas that one day may be imbodied, and till winter I shall have much leisure.

“P.S. My last question is in the true style of Grub-street; but, like Jeremy Diddler, I only ‘ask for information.’—Send me Adair on Diet and Regimen, just republished by Ridgway.”

“Cheltenham, Sept. 14, 1812.

“The parcels contained some letters and verses, all (but one) anonymous and complimentary, and very anxious for my conversion from certain infidelities into which my good-natured correspondents conceive me to have fallen. The books were presents of a convertible kind. Also, ‘Christian Knowledge’ and the ‘Bioscope,’ a religious Dial of Life explained;—and to the author of the former (Cadell, publisher), I beg you will forward my best thanks for his letter, his present, and, above all, his good intentions. The ‘Bioscope’ contained a MS. copy of very excellent verses, from whom I know not, but evidently the composition of some one in the habit of writing, and of writing well. I do not know
376 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
if he be the author of the ‘Bioscope’ which accompanied them; but whoever he is, if you can discover him, thank him from me most heartily. The other letters were from ladies, who are welcome to convert me when they please; and if I can discover them, and they be young, as they say they are, I could convince them perhaps of my devotion. I had also a letter from Mr. Walpole on matters of this world,—which I have answered.

“So you are Lucien’s publisher? I am promised an interview with him, and think I shall ask you for a letter of introduction, as ‘the gods have made him poetical.’ From whom could it come with a better grace than from his publisher and mine? Is it not somewhat treasonable in you to have to do with a relative of the ‘direful foe,’ as the Morning Post calls his brother?

“But my book on ‘Diet and Regimen,’ where is it? I thirst for Scott’s Rokeby; let me have your first-begotten copy. The Anti-jacobin Review is all very well, and not a bit worse than the Quarterly, and at least less harmless. By the by, have you secured my books? I want all the Reviews, at least the critiques, quarterly, monthly, &c. Portuguese and English, extracted, and bound up in one volume for my old age; and pray, sort my Romaic books, and get the volumes lent to Mr. Hobhouse—he has had them now a long time. If any thing occurs, you will favour me with a line, and in winter we shall be nearer neighbours.

“P.S. I was applied to, to write the Address for Drury-lane, but the moment I heard of the contest, I gave up the idea of contending against all Grub-street, and threw a few thoughts on the subject into the fire. I did this out of respect to you, being sure you would have turned off any of your authors who had entered the lists with such scurvy competitors. To triumph would have been no glory; and to have been defeated—’sdeath!—I would have choked myself, like Otway, with a quartern loaf; so, remember I had, and have, nothing to do with it, upon my honour!

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 377
“Cheltenham, September 28th, 1812.

“When you point out to one how people can be intimate at the distance of some seventy leagues, I will plead guilty to your charge, and accept your farewell, but not wittingly, till you give me some better reason than my silence, which merely proceeded from a notion founded on your own declaration of old, that you hated writing and receiving letters. Besides, how was I to find out a man of many residences? If I had addressed you now, it had been to your borough, where I must have conjectured you were amongst your constituents. So now, in despite of Mr. N. and Lady W., you shall be as ‘much better’ as the Hexham post-office will allow me to make you. I do assure you I am much indebted to you for thinking of me at all, and can’t spare you even from amongst the superabundance of friends with whom you suppose me surrounded.

“You heard that Newstead* is sold—the sum £140,000; sixty to remain in mortgage on the estate for three years, paying interest, of course. Rochdale is also likely to do well—so my worldly matters are mending. I have been here some time drinking the waters, simply because there are waters to drink, and they are very medicinal, and sufficiently disgusting. In a few days I set out for Lord Jersey’s, but return here, where I am quite alone, go out very little, and enjoy in its fullest extent the ’dolce far niente.’ What you are about, I cannot guess, even from your date;—not dauncing to the sound of the gitourney in the Halls of the Lowthers? one of whom is here, ill, poor thing, with a

* “Early in the autumn of 1812,” says Mr. Dallas, “he told me that he was urged by his man of business, and that Newstead must be sold.” It was accordingly brought to the hammer at Garraway’s, but not, at that time, sold, only £90,000 being offered for it. The private sale to which he alludes in this letter took place soon after,—Mr. Claughton, the agent for Mr. Leigh, being the purchaser. It was never, however, for reasons which we shall see, completed.

378 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
phthisic. I heard that you passed through here (at the sordid inn where I first alighted), the very day before I arrived in these parts. We had a very pleasant set here; at first the
Jerseys, Melbournes, Cowpers, and Hollands, but all gone; and the only persons I know are the Rawdons and Oxfords, with some later acquaintances of less brilliant descent.

“But I do not trouble them much; and as for your rooms and your assemblies, ‘they are not dreamed of in our philosophy!!’—Did you read of a sad accident in the Wye t’ other day? a dozen drowned, and Mr. Rossoe, a corpulent gentleman, preserved by a boat-hook or an eel-spear, begged, when be heard his wife was saved—no—lost—to be thrown in again!!—as if he could not have thrown himself in, had he wished it; but this passes for a trait of sensibility. What strange beings men are, in and out of the Wye!

“I have to ask you a thousand pardons for not fulfilling some orders before I left town; but if you knew all the cursed entanglements I had to wade through, it would be unnecessary to beg your forgiveness.—When will Parliament (the new one) meet?—in sixty days, on account of Ireland, I presume; the Irish election will demand a longer period for completion than the constitutional allotment. Yours, of course, is safe, and all your side of the question. Salamanca is the ministerial watchword, and all will go well with you. I hope you will speak more frequently, I am sure at least you ought, and it will be expected. I see Portman means to stand again. Good night.

“Ever yours most affectionately,
“Cheltenham, Sept. 27, 1812.

“I sent in no Address whatever to the Committee; but out of nearly one hundred (this is confidential), none have been deemed worth acceptance; and in consequence of their subsequent application to me, I

* A mode of signature he frequently adopted at this time.

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 379
have written a prologue, which has been received, and will be spoken. The MS. is now in the hands of
Lord Holland.

“I write this merely to say, that (however it is received by the audience) you will publish it in the next edition of Childe Harold; and I only beg you at present to keep my name secret till you hear further from me, and as soon as possible I wish you to have a correct copy, to do with as you think proper.

“P.S. I should wish a few copies printed off before, that the newspaper copies may be correct after the delivery.

“Cheltenham, Oct. 12, 1812.

“I have a very strong objection to the engraving of the portrait*, and request that it may, on no account, be prefixed; but let all the proofs be burnt, and the plate broken. I will be at the expense which has been incurred; it is but fair that I should, since I cannot permit the publication. I beg, as a particular favour, that you will lose no time in having this done, for which I have reasons that I will state when I see you. Forgive all the trouble I have occasioned you.

“I have received no account of the reception of the Address, but see it is vituperated in the papers, which does not much embarrass an old author. I leave it to your own judgment to add it, or not, to your next edition when required. Pray comply strictly with my wishes as to the engraving, and believe me, &c.

“P.S. Favour me with an answer, as I shall not be easy till I hear that the proofs, &c. are destroyed. I hear that the Satirist has reviewed Childe Harold, in what manner I need not ask; but I wish to know if the old personalities are revived? I have a better reason for

* A miniature by Sanders. Besides this miniature, Sanders hod also painted a full length of his lordship, from which the portrait prefixed to this work is engraved. In reference to the latter picture, Lord Byron says, in a note to Mr. Rogers, “If you think the picture you saw at Murray’s worth your acceptance, it is yours; and you may put a glove or masque on it, if you like.”

380 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
asking this than any that merely concerns myself; but in publications of that kind, others, particularly female names, are sometimes introduced.”

“Cheltenham, Oct. 14, 1812.

“I perceive that the papers, yea, even Perry’s, are somewhat ruffled at the injudicious preference of the Committee. My friend Perry has, indeed, ‘et tu Brute’-d me rather scurvily, for which I will send him, for the M. C., the next epigram I scribble, as a token of my full forgiveness.

“Do the Committee mean to enter into no explanation of their proceedings? You must see there is a leaning towards a charge of partiality. You will, at least, acquit me of any great anxiety to push myself before so many elder and better anonymous, to whom the 20 guineas (which I take to be about two thousand pounds Bank currency) and the honour would have been equally welcome. ‘Honour,’ I see, ‘hath no skill in paragraph-writing.’

“I wish to know how it went off at the second reading, and whether any one has had the grace to give it a glance of approbation. I have seen no paper but Perry’s, and two Sunday ones. Perry is severe, and the others silent. If, however, you and your Committee are not now dissatisfied with your own judgments, I shall not much embarrass myself about the brilliant remarks of the journals. My own opinion upon it is what it always was, perhaps pretty near that of the public.

“Believe me, my dear lord, &c. &c.

“P.S. My best respects to Lady H., whose smiles will be very consolatory, even at this distance.”

A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 381
“Cheltenham, Oct. 18th, 1812.

Will you have the goodness to get this Parody of a peculiar kind* (for all the first lines are Busby’s entire) inserted in several of the papers (correctly—and copied correctly; my hand is difficult)—particularly the Morning Chronicle? Tell Mr. Perry I forgive him all he has said, and may say against my address, but he will allow me to deal with the doctor—(audi alteram partem)—and not betray me. I cannot think what has befallen Mr. Perry, for of yore we were very good friends, but no matter, only get this inserted.

“I have a poem on Waltzing for you, of which I make you a present; but it must be anonymous. It is in the old style of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.

“P.S. With the next edition of Childe Harold you may print the first fifty or a hundred opening lines of the ‘Curse of Minerva’ down to the couplet beginning
“Mortal (’twas thus she spoke, &c.
Of course, the moment the Satire begins, there you will stop, and the opening is the best part.”

* Among the Addresses sent in to the Drury-lane Committee was one by Dr. Busby, entitled a Monologue, of which the Parody was enclosed in this letter. A short specimen of this trifle will be sufficient. The four first lines of the Doctor’s Address are as follows:—
“When energizing objects men pursue,
What are the prodigies they cannot do?
A magic Edifice you here survey,
Shot from the ruins of the other day!”
Which verses are thus ridiculed, unnecessarily, in the Parody:—

“‘When energizing objects men pursue,
The Lord knows what is writ by Lord knows who.
‘A modest Monologue you here survey,’
Hiss’d from the theatre the ‘other day.’”

382 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
Oct. 19, 1812.

“Many thanks, but I must pay the damage, and will thank you to tell me the amount for the engraving. I think the ‘Rejected Addresses’ by far the best thing of the kind since the Rolliad, and wish you had published them. Tell the author ‘I forgive him, were he twenty times over a satirist;’ and think his imitations not at all inferior to the famous ones of Hawkins Browne. He must be a man of very lively wit, and less scurrilous than wits often are: altogether, I very much admire the performance, and wish it all success. The Satirist has taken a new tone, as you will see: we have now, I think, finished with Childe Harold’s critics. I have in hand a Satire on Waltzing, which you must publish anonymously; it is not long, not quite two hundred lines, but will make a very small boarded pamphlet. In a few days you shall have it.

“P.S. The editor of the Satirist ought to be thanked for his revocation; it is done handsomely, after five years’ warfare.”

“Oct. 23, 1812.

“Thanks, as usual. You go on boldly; but have a care of glutting the public, who have by this time had enough of Childe Harold. ‘Waltzing’ shall be prepared. It is rather above two hundred lines, with an introductory Letter to the Publisher. I think of publishing, with Childe Harold, the opening lines of the ‘Curse of Minerva,’ as far as the first speech of Pallas,—because some of the readers like that part better than any I have ever written, and as it contains nothing to affect the subject of the subsequent portion, it will find a place as a Descriptive Fragment.

“The plate is broken? between ourselves, it was unlike the picture;
A. D. 1812. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 383
and besides, upon the whole, the frontispiece of an author’s visage is but a paltry exhibition. At all events, this would have been no recommendation to the book. I am sure
Sanders would not have survived the engraving. By the by, the picture may remain with you or him (which you please), till my return. The one of two remaining copies is at your service till I can give you a better; the other must be burned peremptorily. Again, do not forget that I have an account with you, and that this is included. I give you too much trouble to allow you to incur expense also.

“You best know how far this ‘Address riot’ will affect the future sale of Childe Harold. I like the volume of ‘Rejected Addresses’ better and better. The other parody which Perry has received is mine also (I believe). It is Dr. Busby’s speech versified. You are removing to Albemarle-street, I find, and I rejoice that we shall be nearer neighbours. I am going to Lord Oxford’s, but letters here will be forwarded. When at leisure, all communications from you will be willingly received by the humblest of your scribes. Did Mr. Ward write the review of Horne Tooke’s Life in the Quarterly? it is excellent.”

“Cheltenham, November 22, 1812.

“On my return here from Lord Oxford’s, I found your obliging note, and will thank you to retain the letters, and any other subsequent ones to the same address, till I arrive in town to claim them, which will probably be in a few days. I have in charge a curious and very long MS. poem, written by Lord Brooke (the friend of Sir Philip Sidney), which I wish to submit to the inspection of Mr. Gifford, with the following queries;—first, whether it has ever been published, and, secondly (if not), whether it is worth publication? It is from Lord Oxford’s library, and must have escaped or been overlooked amongst the MSS. of the Harleian Miscellany. The writing is Lord Brooke’s, except a different hand towards the close. It is very long, and in the six-line stanza. It is not for me to hazard an opinion upon its merits; but I would take the liberty, if not too troublesome, to submit it to Mr.
384 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.
Gifford’s judgment, which, from his excellent edition of
Massinger, I should conceive to be as decisive on the writings of that age as on those of our own.

“Now for a less agreeable and important topic.—How came Mr. Mac-Somebody, without consulting you or me, to prefix the Address to his volume* of ‘Dejected Addresses?’ Is not this somewhat larcenous? I think the ceremony of leave might have been asked, though I have no objection to the thing itself; and leave the ‘hundred and eleven’ to tire themselves with ‘base comparisons.’ I should think the ingenuous public tolerably sick of the subject, and, except the Parodies, I have not interfered, nor shall; indeed I did not know that Dr. Busby had published his Apologetical Letter and Postscript, or I should have recalled them. But I confess I looked upon his conduct in a different light before its appearance. I see some mountebank has taken Alderman Birch’s name to vituperate Dr. Busby; he had much better have pilfered his pastry, which I should imagine the more valuable ingredient—at least for a puff.—Pray secure me a copy of Woodfall’s new Junius, and believe me, &c.”

“December 26.

“The multitude of your recommendations has already superseded my humble endeavours to be of use to you, and, indeed, most of my principal friends are returned. Leake from Joannina, Canning and Adair from the city of the Faithful, and at Smyrna no letter is necessary, as the consuls are always willing to do every thing for personages of respectability. I have sent you three, one to Gibraltar, which, though of no great necessity, will, perhaps, put you on a more intimate footing with a very pleasant family there. You will very soon find out that a man of

* “The Genuine Rejected Addresses, presented to the Committee of Management for Drury-lane Theatre; preceded by that written by Lord Byron and adopted by the Committee:”—published by B. M’Millan.

A. D. 1813. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 385
any consequence has very little occasion for any letters but to ministers and bankers, and of them you have already plenty, I will be sworn.

“It is by no means improbable that I shall go in the spring, and if you will fix any place of rendezvous about August, I will write or join you.—When in Albania, I wish you would inquire after Dervise Tahiri and Vascillie (or Basil), and make my respects to the viziers, both there and in the Morea. If you mention my name to Suleyman of Thebes, I think it will not hurt you; if I had my dragoman, or wrote Turkish, I could have given you letters of real service; but to the English they are hardly requisite, and the Greeks themselves can be of little advantage. Liston you know already, and I do not, as he was not then minister. Mind you visit Ephesus and the Troad, and let me hear from you when you please. I believe G. Forresti is now at Yanina, but if not, whoever is there will be too happy to assist you. Be particular about firmauns; never allow yourself to be bullied, for you are better protected in Turkey than any where; trust not the Greeks; and take some knick-nackeries for presents—watches, pistols, &c. &c. to the Beys and Pachas. If you find one Demetrius, at Athens or elsewhere, I can recommend him as a good dragoman. I hope to join you, however; but you will find swarms of English now in the Levant.

“Believe me, &c.”