LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XVI. 1819
Grímur Jónsson Thorkelín to William Roscoe, [1819?]

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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“Praise from thy pen ’tis mine with pride to boast,
He best can give it who deserves the most.”

“Honourable, indeed, is that approbation which is bestowed by those who have themselves been the constant objects of universal applause. Accordingly, I esteem the encomium you confer upon me in your letter of March 4th, received through the hands of your excellent nephew, my intimate friend Mr. Daulby, as a distinction of the highest and most illustrious kind. After saying thus much, I must tell you that I have read over and over the works of you, with which you honoured me, at the same time with infinite delight and great benefit to myself. I should have regretted to leave this world without their perusal. Your divine writings reflect high honour upon our times; they are neither an idle show
of science, nor vain ornaments to libraries. They are, on the contrary, necessary parts to the order of things, which were wanted to the glory of England; you have instructed the public, and strengthened the state. And if you did not join profound humility with profound learning, you would permit me to prefer your writings above all shields fallen from heaven, and other gages of greatness, and eternity of empires. I have had many occasions to observe the power, the dignity, the majesty—and I will add, too, the divine efficacy of history; but I never met with so strong an instance of it as in your ‘
Lives of Lorenzo de’ Medicis’ and ‘Leo the Tenth;’ for every line is calculated to make men wise, and their hearts good. You have showed Virtue in all her beauty, and Vice in all her deformity; and so I join my prayers with yours, in the words of Persius:—
‘Alme pater divû! sævos punire tyrannos,
Haud alia ratione velis, cum dira libido
Moveret ingenium, ferventi tincta veneno,
Virtutem videant, intabescantque relicta.’

“I trust and hope Mr. Daulby will have the goodness to be faithful interpreter to my sincere love and profound respect for you. He is now leaving this country; and, of course, he has lodged a needle in my heart which pricks it with incessant desire to see him return soon again. Our mutual adieu will render my desire still keener. I envy his friends (endowed with every
genuine virtue of old England) the happiness of receiving Mr. Daulby in their bosoms. However, I shall never cease to wish every one of you Heaven’s best blessings, uninterrupted health, and sufficient means of doing good to mankind.

“As to the rest—as you, dear Sir! has begun to love me, I beseech you, remember me constantly; and when you sacrifice to Love and Charity, allow me some little share of the excess and overflowing of your goodness. May I be so happy as to see you here? Be sure Danemark will receive you gratefully, with open arms, as the man of truth and her best defensor against her ferocious enemies, Canning and Co., in the fatal year 1807. In the mean time, be pleased to accept, with your congenial goodness, some trifling specimens of my studies. Your good nature will so much the more readily grant my presumption a pardon, as it confessedly does not deserve it. I have the honour to remain for ever, with faithful attachment, and profound esteem and respect,” &c.