LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827

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.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Edition of the Works of Pope, and new Life.—Letter on this subject to Mr. Mathias.—Merits of former editors.—Prefatory remarks by Mr. Roscoe.—Sources from which he derived new information.—Principle adopted by him in suppressing certain pieces.— Original Letters furnished by J. L. Anderdon, Esq.—Controversy with Mr. Bowles.—His “Final Appeal to the Literary Public, &c.” answered by Mr. Roscoe in his “Letter to the Rev. W. Lisle Bowles.”—Review of the new edition in the Quarterly Review.—Mr. Bowles publishes his “Lessons in Criticism to W. Roscoe, Esq.,” &c.—Extract from a Reply prepared, but not published, by Mr. Roscoe.—His comparative estimate of the characters of Pope and Swift.—Mr. Fuseli—first acquaintance with him—letters from him respecting the Milton Gallery—on Mr. Roscoe’s election, &c.—his death—his biography by Mr. Knowles.—Letter to Mr. Knowles.—Correspondence with C. Hughes, Esq., Chargé d’affaires from the United States to Brussels.—Letter to him from Mr. Odevaere, the historical painter, sent to Mr. Roscoe.—Letter to Mr. Hughes.—Decline of Mr. Roscoe’s health.—Letter from him to Sir J. E. Smith.—New edition of “Lorenzo de’ Medici” and “Leo the Tenth.”—Use made by Mr. Roscoe of the notes and illustrations of foreign translators and writers.—Present from the Grand Duke of Tuscany of a new edition of the Poetical Works of Lorenzo.—Letter from Mr. Roscoe in acknowledgment.

In the spring of 1821, a new edition of the Works of Pope having been called for, an application was made on behalf of the London booksellers to Mr. Roscoe, requesting him to assume the editorship of the works. This duty he accepted without hesitation. A warm admiration of that author’s writings, and an opinion which he had long entertained, that his station as a poet and his character as a man had suffered from the unjust attacks of some of his editors, induced him more readily to undertake a task to which, at this advanced period of life, his strength might almost appear to be unequal. But the energy of his mind was still unimpaired, and probably at no other season of his life was he better qualified to do justice to a subject so important and interesting in a literary point of view.

Of his new task he thus speaks in a letter to Mr. Mathias, dated the 2d October, 1822:—“I am sorry to say that I cannot but consider the literature of this country at present as at a very low ebb. Several of its brightest ornaments have gone off in eccentric directions, and what is left
us is chiefly confined to magazines and reviews, which (as the editor of one of them some time since told us) will shortly comprise all the literature of the country. In no instance, perhaps, is this more evident than in the attacks that have been made on the character and writings of
Pope, as well by his two last editors, Warton and Bowles, as by the great herd of modern critics. In order, as far as in my power, to stem this inundation of modern Vandalism, I have undertaken, under the sanction of the London booksellers, to give a new edition of the works of that great man, with a more extensive biographical sketch of his life and character than has hitherto been done, which is intended to be ready for publication in the course of the ensuing spring. In this undertaking I find great pleasure, although it will not be possible to avoid a considerable share of controversy, which, however, I am fully prepared to meet.”

One of the principal objects of the new edition was to give a fuller and more accurate Life of the poet than had yet appeared. Of the various biographical accounts of him, it is not unjust to say that there was no one worthy of the subject. Ruffhead’s consisted of little more than long and tedious criticisms, interspersed with desultory anecdotes. Johnson, with a prejudice which appears in every page, has not only unjustly depreciated the genius but has as-
sailed the moral character of the poet.
Warton, founding his memoir on that of Johnson, though he has given additional interest to the narrative, has done little to raise the subject of his pen to the station he merited. The last editor of the Works of Pope, the Rev. W. L. Bowles, appears to have approached his task with strong feelings of prejudice against the character of Pope, whose reputation has suffered more in his hands than in those of any of his predecessors. The opinions expressed by Mr. Bowles attracted the notice and excited the critical indignation of various persons distinguished in the literary world, and an animated controversy ensued, in which Lord Byron, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Bowles, Mr. Octavius Gilchrist, and the Quarterly Reviewers, took part.

It was at this juncture, while the disputants were still contending for victory, that Mr. Roscoe entered the field. Of the nature of the task he had undertaken, its interest, and its critical dangers, he thus speaks in his preface:—

“It has been so often repeated, that the life of a literary man is unproductive of incident, that we seem disposed to credit it; but although this may soothe the indolence or allay the apprehensions of a biographer, it is by no means borne out by the fact. The professors of literature have always been too ready to pay their homage to the world, and to assent to the idea, that
nothing is deserving of notice but the affairs of states, and the great events and transactions of public life; but it is not for these that we look in the history of a man of genius. We have a different object in view; and his life is as full of interest and information in that after which we enquire, as that of a soldier in his battles, or a politician in his schemes. In human affairs, everything is permanent in proportion as it is connected with intellect; and whilst the common events of life weary by repetition, and the memory of them perishes through neglect, the productions of the mind preserve their lustre, and even shine brighter from age to age. Under such circumstances, nothing that relates to a favourite author, or his writings, can be indifferent to us. Though he be dead, he yet speaketh; his influence is with us and around us; we feel him breathing in his works; and our minds are formed, and our characters modified, by a master spirit that survives alike the attacks of envy and the efforts of time.

“On this account, it is not surprising that a great degree of earnestness has always been displayed, as to the lives and characters of those, who by their writings have attracted a high degree of public approbation; and this earnestness has been manifested in a peculiar manner respecting Pope. In fact, there is scarcely a circumstance or an incident relating to him, from
the time of his birth to that of his death, that has not been the subject of examination and doubt, and frequently of keen and angry controversy. His family origin, his person, his temper and disposition, his talents and acquirements, his sincerity in his friendships, his religious belief and moral conduct; and, above all, the character and merit of his writings, have given rise to disputes which seem rather to increase than diminish with time; and whilst they occupy the public attention in a manner scarcely inferior to the events of the passing day, have occasionally been carried to an extreme of contention and animosity, not exceeded by any of those in which the author himself was in his lifetime engaged.”

The materials for a new biography of Pope were copious, and chiefly to be derived from his own writings, of which none of his former editors had adequately availed themselves. “In adverting,” says Mr. Roscoe in his preface, “to the sources from which we may be supposed to derive information respecting the life and character of an author, we must naturally resort to his own works. Of his abilities and genius these are decisive; of his social and moral character they afford strong indications on which to form a correct opinion. In this point of view the writings of Pope would almost furnish his history. Not only are we continually presented with the pic-
ture of his mind under the different lights and circumstances in which it is placed; not only are we informed of his sentiments and feelings, whenever an opportunity is afforded for the display of them, but almost all the incidents of his life are touched upon in such a manner as to enable us to form to ourselves a complete idea of his genius, temper, and character. It would not, indeed, be too much to assert that this representation of himself in his works was one of the chief objects which he perpetually kept in view.

“It is, therefore, to the writings of Pope, and particularly to his correspondence with his friends, that we are to look, if we wish to become acquainted with the individual in the most important transactions and the most deliberate and serious concerns of his life; at the same time we must not forget to make due allowance for those feelings of partiality and of self-attachment which are inseparable from every human being, and which will not only appear in his writings, but will sometimes give to them a grace and an interest which they could not derive from any other source.

“Another authentic source,” continues Mr. Roscoe, “to which we may resort for information, is found in the letters of many of the contemporaries and friends of Pope, which are inserted, not only in his own works, but in various other collections. It is true this evidence must also
be received with caution, on account of the partiality of friendship; but it must at the same time be acknowledged that this partiality is seldom obtained without being deserved. At all events, the same discretion which ought to be exercised on his own productions, will be applicable also to those of his friends; and it cannot fail to be in the highest degree interesting to examine and compare the sentiments of so many distinguished individuals, who not only acted a conspicuous part, both in the political and literary history of their own times, but are intimately known to posterity; and whose writings, whilst they serve to elucidate the character of their friend, throw no inconsiderable light upon their own.”

In addition to these sources of information, Mr. Roscoe derived much assistance from the “Anecdotes of Pope,” collected by the Rev. Joseph Spence, on the authenticity of which he has expressed a decided opinion. In availing himself of the labours of preceding editors, he has relied principally upon those of Warburton, as having in a great degree received the sanction of the author himself. Of the extensive annotations of Dr. Warton he has preserved the greater part, rejecting such as seemed to have no immediate relation to the writings of Pope. From the notes of Mr. Bowles a more restricted selection was made.


Mr. Roscoe’s own annotations are not extensive. “His own observations,” he says in the preface, “have chiefly been confined to the estimate of the poetical character of the author, and the preliminary notes to the principal poems, in which, as well as in the few remarks on the text, it has been his object rather to correct the errors, and obviate the unfounded censures of former commentators, than to increase the great number of notes by any additions of his own.”

Upon one point, involving a nice exercise of judgment, Mr. Roscoe differs from his two immediate predecessors, who had admitted into the collection of the poet’s works some pieces, which, from a regard to delicacy, if not to decency, would undoubtedly have been better suppressed. The principle upon which he acted on this occasion, is stated in the following passage:—

“In performing the difficult task which has devolved upon the present editor, of determining what pieces ought to be admitted into this edition, as constituting ‘The Works of Pope,’ he has endeavoured to keep in view what he conceives to be the chief duty of an editor, viz. to execute an office which the author can no longer perform for himself, in the same manner as he would have performed it if living; admitting nothing that he would himself have
rejected*, and rejecting nothing that he would have admitted; not, however, disregarding the additional considerations suggested by the change which has taken place (so greatly for the better) in the sentiments and manners of the present times, and by which, it is probable, that the author himself would have been equally influenced. On the whole, he has reason to believe that the differences which would have arisen between the author and himself on this head, would have been trivial, if any; and that the great variation in this respect will appear between the two last editions of
Dr. Warton and Mr. Bowles and the present.”

To the kindness of his friends, and to the liberality of those who possessed such documents, Mr. Roscoe was indebted for many original letters and papers, by which he was enabled to throw considerable light upon many disputed points in the history of Pope’s life. Thus the three letters from the poet to Richardson, preserved in the magnificent autograph collection of J. L. Anderdon, Esq., afforded him the means of clearing the character of Pope from the as-

* Pope himself acted upon this principle with regard to his friend Gay. “Our poor friend’s papers are in my hands; and for as much as is so, I will take care to suppress things unworthy of him.”—Life of Pope, p. 368.

persion of
Warton, that he had acknowledged himself an unbeliever in Christianity.*

When Mr. Roscoe, in the preface to his “Life of Pope,” remarked upon the disputes relating to him, “which seemed rather to increase than diminish with time,” and “to be carried to an extreme of contention and animosity not exceeded by any of those in which the author himself was in his lifetime engaged,” he was probably not fully aware that he was doomed to exhibit, in his own person, a striking proof of the correctness of this observation. A few months after the publication of his work Mr. Bowles again entered the field of controversy, and put forth “A final Appeal to the Literary Public, relative to Pope, in Reply to certain Observations of Mr. Roscoe, in his Edition of that Poet’s Works; to which are added, Some Remarks on Lord Byron’s Conversations, so far as they relate to the same Subject and the Author: in Letters to a Literary Friend.” To this publication Mr. Roscoe was induced to write an answer, under the title of “A Letter to the Rev. W. Lisle Bowles, A. M., Prebendary of Sarum, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and former Editor of Pope’s Works, in ten volumes, in Reply to his ‘Final Appeal to the Literary Public, relative to Pope.’” In the

* Life of Pope, p. 388, &c.

mean time, the
new edition of Pope had been reviewed in the Quarterly Review for October, 1825, in which the labours of Mr. Roscoe were commended, and his observations on Mr. Bowles’s edition approved. These publications produced from Mr. BowlesLessons in Criticism to William Roscoe, Esq., F.R.S., Member of the Della Crusca Society of Florence, F.R.S.L., in Answer to his Letter to Rev. W. L. Bowles, on the Character and Poetry of Pope. With further Lessons in Criticism, to a Quarterly Reviewer.” With this pamphlet the discussion terminated, Mr. Roscoe being of opinion that it had been already carried to a sufficient length, and feeling confident that, so far as regarded both Pope and himself, it might here be safely left to the candid construction of the public. He had, indeed, prepared some observations upon Mr. Bowles’s last publication; but, upon reflection, he resolved not to prolong the dispute.

Of the merits of this controversy, or of the manner in which it was conducted, it is not necessary, in these pages, to enter into any details. It may not, however, be improper to observe, that though not deficient in the warmth which even a literary controversy always inspires, it was the earnest desire of Mr. Roscoe so to conduct the discussion as not to have reason to regret, at any future time, that he had embarked in it. When he found that his feelings were
likely to carry him beyond this boundary, he was silent.

It would be unjust, both to Mr. Bowles and to himself, to omit the following passages, which formed the conclusion of his intended reply:—

“I cannot, however, conclude these observations, which shall terminate my labours on the subject of Pope and his writings, without expressing my sincere regret, if, in the performance of what I conceive to be the indispensable duty of an editor, I have, on any occasion, transgressed the bounds of civility, which I had a right to expect in return, or carried my remarks farther than was necessary for the refutation of error, and the removal of groundless imputations on those who can no longer defend themselves.

“To Mr. Bowles I am personally a stranger, but not so to his poetical works, which have justly entitled him to the appellation I have already given him of ‘a favourite author;’ and which title will be confirmed by his elegant and pathetic lines on Lord Byron, in his last publication. The opinion which I entertain of Mr. Bowles as a critic (with the exception of the various subjects in which we so materially disagree) may appear from my having in my edition of Pope availed myself of many interesting notes with which he has frequently illustrated the works of that author.

“In my present observations I have, as far as
I am aware, removed from myself every aspersion, however trivial, which
Mr. Bowles has endeavoured to cast upon me. If I could have done this without exasperating his feelings in return, I should gladly have avoided such a step; but in literary as in national warfare, the terms offensive and defensive often become synonymous. I shall not, however, like Mr. Bowles, congratulate myself on my ‘triumph;’ but shall leave it to the public, if the public should yet interest themselves in a contest which has subsisted for a century, to decide between us. To Mr. Bowles I need not observe, that more important avocations await us; and that it would be more advisable for each of us rather to attend to the correction of his own errors than to those of the other; by which means, I trust, we may yet meet, divested of malice and all other hostile feelings, in a happier and a better state,—
‘Our tears, our little triumphs o’er,
Our human passions now no more,
Save charity, that glows beyond the tomb.’”

Though written after that period of life which the Psalmist has declared to be the limit of human existence, not even the most critical eye can discover, in the Life of Pope, any failure in the literary powers of the author. In particular, it may be remarked that the same ardour of sentiment on all the great topics of human
interest, which breathes through his other works, is expressed in these pages with all his former earnestness. The following parallel, with which the Life concludes, between the characters and writings of
Pope and of Swift, is not inferior to the best passages in the Life of Lorenzo or of Leo. After noticing Sir Walter Scott’s observations on the same subject, Mr. Roscoe proceeds;—

“But, although this estimate is perfectly correct as far as it extends, it by no means comprises the whole of the subject. Swift, in the prosecution of his views, launched forth into the turbulent ocean of party politics, when, notwithstanding his utmost efforts, he could not reach the desired port; and when he found that further struggles were vain, he turned his powerful talents to degrade and satirise those whom he could not render subservient to his wishes. Pope took a more general and, perhaps, a more enlightened view of human nature. His object was not the approbation of a party, but the admiration of his own and future ages. All his subjects are of universal comprehension and universal interest; and while Swift thought he was ‘engaged in matters of much more momentous importance,’ Pope well knew for what superstructure he was laying the foundation, and disregarded the works of the passing day, in the contemplation of those which were to last
through future times. Nor did he attempt to attain his purpose by the mere powers of eloquence or the blandishments of style. There is scarcely an object connected with the interests or happiness of society that has not been subjected to his inquiries, and illustrated by his genius. When we turn to the perusal of Swift we observe the workings of an original and vigorous mind, expending itself in objects of a temporary or local nature, or in dark and sombre pictures of the different relations of human life, in which we seldom sympathise, and from which we occasionally turn with disgust. Even his wit and his humour are often of so cynical a kind as to prevent our indulging ourselves in them, without something like self-reproach at the nature of our own feelings; whilst the writings of Pope, on the other hand, contain an inexhaustible fund of the most magnanimous and generous sentiments, the love of virtue, the delights of friendship, the value of independence, the indispensable duty of submission to the Divine will, the blessings derived from human society, and various other topics of the highest importance to our welfare, expressed in language which, whilst it convinces the judgment, touches the heart, and whilst it never tires on repetition, is calculated, more, perhaps, than that of any other author, to impress similar ideas and sentiments on the minds of millions yet to come.”


About this period Mr. Roscoe lost one of his oldest friends in Fuseli. Their friendship originated in the year 1779, when, in company with Johnson the bookseller, Fuseli first visited Liverpool, and its strength was preserved by a frequent correspondence, and by the more agreeable mode of personal intercourse during their mutual visits to London and Liverpool. The learning, the wit, and the sensibility of Fuseli won the warm regard of his friend, who never omitted any opportunity of rendering those services to him in his profession, of which he often in early life stood in need. In the management of his affairs, as well as in his speculations as an artist, Fuseli always found a ready and zealous adviser in Mr. Roscoe, and his correspondence teems with expressions of warm acknowledgment for services of this nature. During the preparation of his “Milton Gallery,” he communicated frequently with Mr. Roscoe on the subject, and received much encouragement from him. In a letter on the subject of his proposed exhibition, he says, “My heart longs to communicate its concerns to you; but this moment of uncertainty is not fit for it; only know, the die is cast, and I have taken Christie’s room, formerly the old academy in Pall Mall, to which the largest of my pictures are already conveyed; but I want something more of your assistance, and till then my mouth must be shut. Let me not linger for an
answer.” As his pencil proceeded with its task, he was anxious to have its labours celebrated by the pen of his friend. “You have flattered me by saying that my applause to your ‘Chapter on Art’ was the highest gratification on that point you could have received. I could certainly receive no higher one, than if your muse would dictate to you a few verses on my ‘Milton;’ but like those of ignorance, the expectations of ambition are indefinite; so forgive me the petulant wish.” In another letter he recurs to the same subject. “O when will you come? If ever man had a claim on the exertions of a friend, I have on yours. Has the duchess* or the Palmers† monopolised your powers, and is poor ‘Milton’ to have nothing? Laudari a laudato; but even that praise is not worth having, unless it be founded on facts and truth. I venture to say, you have not seen half of what you now might, and I hope will see. To speak big, my nights are as restless as those of
Themistocles. Though no trophies of a Miltiades perturb me, Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus. Fuimus Troes may, perhaps, be my doom. O say, when will you come to assist your Fuseli.” The wishes of

* The Duchess of Devonshire, to whom Mr. Roscoe inscribed some verses in “The Nurse.”

† The family of Palmer, the actor, for whose benefit Mr. Roscoe wrote an address.

the painter were at length gratified by a copy of verses from the pen of his friend.*

On the failure of his exhibition Fuseli addressed to Mr. Roscoe a letter full of his disappointment. “I shall not condole with you,” says the latter in reply, “on the contents of your letter. That public which can bestow its admiration and its favours upon such productions as daily obtain them, can scarcely be expected to become active patrons of works of real genius. There is, however, no reason for despondency. If your works possess real merit, the neglect of the present day will only enhance that merit in the eyes of posterity. With respect to pecuniary concerns, you must not suppose that I have devoted myself to Mammon without securing some of his services in this world; and therefore, should your occasions require it, the sum you mention shall be forthcoming, at whatever time and in whatever way you think proper. When your exhibition closes, you may send me down your Richard, and some Miltonic pictures, which I will endeavour to sell, as occasion may offer; and in the mean time, I shall have the pleasure of seeing them, instead of interest for my money.”

The talent and the lively temper of Fuseli are displayed in all his letters. The following, written in the year 1797, while he was employed

* See the Appendix to the “Life of Fuseli,” p. 427.

on the “Milton Gallery,” is in answer to an invitation to visit Liverpool:—

“The devil alone, at my back, bestriding the promontory of the fiery flood, can account for my silence. When Mr. Shepherd presented your friendly note, he found me wrestling with him; and I can but just now say that I have, I hope, got the better of him. Some other things have been done, indeed, in the mean time, when I wanted to recover breath, but still I wished not to write, till I could with decision, about him. All this, however, must be the subject of my next.

“I thank you for having made me acquainted with Shepherd. He is a man whom I think of as you do. I got as much of his company here as he thought proper to give me; we ate and drank together, but he went off without an adieu. If he was offended at my manner of pronouncing Greek verse, and confounding omicrons and omegas like Tros and Rutulus, I promise to make amends when we meet again. The infernal storm that inundates the street and bespatters my window whilst I am writing, equal to Dante’s ‘Pioggia maledetta eterna e greve,’ confounding all season, and cloaking the face of day, makes it indeed totally indifferent what month I picked for travel, even to those who have only to please themselves in choosing. My intention was, if I do come, to choose the time
I can best spare—the twilight, the ‘brindle’ part of the year. As I come merely to see the face of my friends, the warm reflection of a genial fire is preferable to the watery, half-strangled beam of this month. But tell me, shall I come? Will it be my advantage to come? I must sacrifice time, and—you know what—what I have not now the spirit to talk about, and must reserve for my next. In a few days, at least in little more than a month, I shall be able to pronounce whether an exhibition will be in my power next year. The pleasure I feel in hearing your assurances of support, through the means of your friend, is not superior to the caution I use, and shall use, in applying for it.”

During Mr. Roscoe’s residence in London, in 1807, many of his evenings were passed with much delight in the society of Fuseli. In a letter congratulating him on his return for Liverpool, the latter anticipates the gratification of this intercourse:—

“I congratulate your town and the country at large on their choice, and the trust they have conferred on you; it is a favourable symptom of recovery from a long lethargy, or rather, a callus in politics and legislation, which hitherto have not left it a doubt, what station was the post of honour.

“That you have accepted of it may surprise those who know you not. You know, that at a
period like this, every man who has courage, energy, and independence, ought to listen to his country’s voice, and direct or invigorate the public mind.

“To me it is an event more immediately grateful; for though I am sensible that your new station, with its duties and attendant connections, must too frequently interfere with our mutual intercourse, yet you will inhabit London during a considerable portion of the year, when it will be in my power repeatedly to bask in the sunshine of your face, and to tell you how much I am your—Fuseli.”

The last visit which Mr. Roscoe made to London, in 1824, afforded him once more the gratification of meeting his friend, whose mental energies had in no degree suffered from the attacks of age. He died in the spring of the following year, after a short illness, attended with little suffering.

A few months before his own death, Mr. Roscoe received from Mr. Knowles, the biographer of Fuseli, a copy of his life; and in the following letter, after acknowledging the pleasure he had derived from the perusal of it, he says, “He was, indeed, a most extraordinary and accomplished person; and notwithstanding his eminence in his profession, it may be doubted whether this was the most interesting or the most valuable of his acquirements.


“As one of the oldest and most intimate of his acquaintances, I hope I may be permitted to say, that, in my opinion, you have given a very full and candid delineation of his character, in which he appears to considerable advantage. It would have given me great pleasure to have contributed some anecdotes and records of conversations between us during his frequent visits to me in Lancashire; but the very serious complaint, with which I have for some years past been visited, has deprived me of the power of accomplishing this purpose, which I greatly regret, as my information would have been chiefly directed to show the extreme humanity of his disposition and the sensibility of his mind,—qualities in which, from his general manner, he might, perhaps, by some persons have been thought wanting.

“I cannot conclude without returning you my best acknowledgments for the favourable light in which you have placed my conduct in the transactions with our late lamented friend, in whose society I have passed so many years of uninterrupted friendship and happiness.”

Amongst the many excellent and intelligent persons whom Mr. Roscoe’s correspondents in America occasionally did him the honour of introducing to his acquaintance, was Christopher Hughes, Esq., Chargé d’Affaires from the United States to the court of Brussels. During the
residence of this gentleman in the Netherlands, many letters passed between them; from one of which (dated the 12th November, 1826,) the following is an extract:—

“A very eminent literary personage of this country, and an old friend of mine (since the negotiations at Ghent in 1814), came to see me a few days ago. He looked over my books, and on seeing your supplemental work on Lorenzo the Magnificent, begged me to lend it to him, to show it to M. Odevaere, the celebrated historical painter of this country, at whose house my friend Mr. Cornellissen was lodging, and who, it appears, was employed in a great composition painting, founded on the conspiracy of the Pazzi and on your history. Of course I was delighted to lend the book for such a purpose, though I value it too much, as a present received from its illustrious author, to lend it on common occasions; but the present one was so completely in accordance with your known devotion to the arts, and, in fact, seemed to present so classic an opportunity of realising one of the noblest objects of your labours, that I felt as if I were serving you, and serving at the same time the republic of taste, in putting the work into the hands of the eminent artist, Odevaere, the spirited and worthy élève of David, who had the courage to pronounce a spirited éloge over the mortal remains of his gifted master, a few
weeks ago, on their translation to the monument, erected here, to the memory of David by his family.

“It seems that I have rendered to M. Odevaere a very great service, when I only hoped to be contributing to his literary enjoyment. He has acknowledged it by sending me the enclosed letter. It should have been sent to you the next day, had not a multitude of occupations prevented it. It would be defrauding you of your legitimate rights and gratifications, if this letter were kept in other hands.

M. Odevaere is a most eminent painter, and is greatly patronised by the royal family here, as he was by Napoleon in Italy. His latest work, ‘The Last Day at Missolonghi,’ has gained him imperishable fame. So, my dear Sir, your enthusiastic friend and admirer is himself entitled to your respect for his own merits in his own beautiful pursuit and profession.”

The following is the letter of M. Odevaere referred to by Mr. Hughes:—


“Je vous remercie beaucoup du livre que vous avez bien voulu m’envoyer par notre ami commun, Mr. Cornellissen; outre que je ne connoissois pas ce dernier ouvrage du célèbre historien Roscoe, j’y ai trouvé à ma grande surprise un des matériaux les plus essentiels pour
le nouveau tableau que je vais commencer (l’assassinat de
Laurent et de Julien de’ Medicis); c’est-à-dire le portrait de mon principal personnage si bien gravé et si ressemblant.

“J’envie, Monsieur, le bonheur que vous avez d’être personellement lié avec Mr. Roscoe; j’ai lu et rélu vingt fois ses très-intéressants ouvrages sur Laurent, et sur son fils Leon X.; et il n’y a peut-être pas d’écrivain avec lequel j’eusse autant aimé d’être en relation qu’avec celui, qui, par un espèce de miracle, puisqu’il n’y est jamais allé, a si bien connu l’Italie, et en a parlé si dignement. Amants, tous deux, de la même maîtresse, nous eussions sans jalousie confondus nos sentimens, et les heures que j’aurois pu passer avec Mr. Roscoe m’auroient paru délicieuses.

“Enthousiasmé comme je l’étois dès les premiers mois de mon arrivée à Florence, je cherchois de tous côtés les moyens de m’instruire à fond sur l’histoire, les arts, et la littérature de cette belle patrie des arts, lorsqu’un ami me prêta la vie de Laurent le Magnifique de Mr. Roscoe. Je dévorai ce livre, et je l’ai relu trois fois de suite.

“Il m’éclaira sur une foule de choses qui me rendirent et le livre et la ville plus intéressants de jour en jour: malheureusement l’ouvrage ne m’appartenant pas, il fallût à mon très-grand regret m’en séparer; mais je n’eus
plus de repos jusqu’à ce que je pus me procurer des exemplaires et du
Leon X. et du Laurent. Il n’existoit à Florence que la contrefaçon de Basle, et pour surcroît de malheur, je ne trouvai qu’un exemplaire de la vie du Péricles Moderne, entièrement gâté par l’humidité. Je le saisis avec avidité, et depuis je l’ai presque appris par cœur.

“Il ne m’appartient pas de louer la forme de cet ouvrage, ayant trop peu de connaissances de la langue Anglaise, mais enfin je l’ai compris, bien compris, d’un bout à l’autre, et je regarde ce livre comme un des beaux monumens dont puissent se glorifier l’Angleterre, et l’Italie. Mr. Roscoe a dignement placé Laurent au rang qu’il doit occuper, et l’a vengé des indignes calomnies dont quelques historiens ont voulu le noircir.

“Je suis donc bien charmé, Monsieur, d’avoir la certitude que vous transmettrez à Mr. Roscoe le tribut d’admiration que je lui ai payé, sans avoir l’honneur de le connôitre personellement, depuis vingt ans; et je me plais à confesser que c’est lui qui m’a inspiré le sujet de la Congiura de’ Pazzi que je vais entreprendre; et que c’est sa narration fidèlement traduite qui servira de notice à mon tableau; heureux si quelque jour il était digne d’être multiplié par le burin, et que je puisse offrir le premier exemplaire de cette estampe à l’historien poëte.


“J’ai beaucoup de graces à rendre aussi, Monsieur, à Mr. Cornellissen, qui m’a procuré l’honneur de vous connôitre, et je vous prie de me permettre de cultiver autant qu’il sera en moi des relations si flatteuses pour moi.

“Monsieur, votre tres-humble serviteur,
J. Odevaere,
“Peintre, ancien pensionnaire de Napoléon à Rome, maintenant attaché a S. M. le Roi des Pays Bas, en qualité de peintre d’histoire.”

“I cannot,” says Mr. Roscoe, in a letter acknowledging the receipt of Mr. Hughes’s letter and its enclosure,—“I cannot dissemble the pleasure I feel in having my writings connected in any degree with works of art, and productions of genius; such a commentary being in my estimation far beyond any thing which the cold commendation of criticism can ever bestow. It is on these occasions, where
“The pen and pencil bear an equal part,
And art reflects its images on art,
that both the one and the other are most highly gratified, and I cannot but consider the work of
M. Odevaere as one of the greatest honours ever done to my history.”

The health of Mr. Roscoe was considerably affected towards the close of the present year
(1825), insomuch that he was frequently prevented from pursuing his usual literary avocations. “Your most kind and welcome letter from Henbury Hill,” he says in a letter to
Sir J. E. Smith, dated 3d September, “should have been sooner acknowledged, had not continual interruptions, combined with a state of unaccountable indolence and debility, prevented me from turning my thoughts to any subjects but such as had irresistible claims on me, and from which I extricated myself the first moment it was in my power. If, in return for the narrative you have so kindly given me of your peregrinations and transactions since you left home, I should furnish you with mine for the same period, they would appear like the track of a snail compared to the flight of an eagle, or the journal of a pedlar to the history of some mighty traveller. You pass from county to county, visit your friends and take up your abode where you please, whilst I remain on the same spot without emigrating even from the blue bed to the brown, and whenever I am disturbed only exclaim, ‘Let me, let me rest!’

“The only object that excited my exertion was the publication of my Monandrian Plants.

“When shall we meet again? For my own part I can only repeat, in my own words, that
Hope strives in vain, through Futurity’s gloom,
To descry one bright moment in seasons to come;
yet I will not despair. In the uncertainty that attends this earthly state, in which we cannot foresee the consequence of placing one leg before another, I would gladly flatter myself that something may occur to draw us together again, and enable us to enjoy each other’s society, if not with all the life and vivacity, with all the warmth and affection we ever experienced; which good wish I hope
Lady Smith will not refuse to share.”

For many years a new edition of his historical works had been contemplated by Mr. Roscoe, but, hitherto, the last impression of the ‘Life of Leo’ remained unexhausted. At length a reprint both of that work and of the ‘Life of Lorenzo’ being called for, he applied himself to this task with much pleasure. His labours, with regard to the latter work, were much lightened by his publication of the ‘Illustrations,’ in which he had entered at large into the various criticisms of the ‘Life’ which had appeared both at home and abroad. It was only necessary, therefore, in the new edition, to refer to that volume, which has thus become an indispensable companion to his historical works. With regard to the ‘Life of Leo X.’ the case was different. No edition of it had appeared in England for many years; and in the mean time translations of it had been published on the Continent, containing many valuable criticisms and illustrations, of which
the author was anxious to avail himself in the new impression of his work. The annotations of
Count Bossi, the Italian translator, and of M. Henke, who edited the German version, contained many important remarks and much valuable information. The examination and selection of these notes occupied considerable time, but Mr. Roscoe conceived himself amply recompensed for his labour by the additional value which they conferred upon his work. Of the importance of these annotations he thus speaks in the preface to the new edition:—.

“The notes and observations by which the before-mentioned translations, and particularly the German and Italian, are accompanied, are the productions of persons who have thought for themselves on the various subjects there discussed, and who have examined as well the general spirit and tendency of the work as the particular facts and circumstances which are there related. On this account, the present history has undergone an ordeal, to which few works of a similar nature have ever been subjected; and as the different annotators have not scrupled to bring forwards their objections on some occasions with the same freedom as they have stated the reasons of their assent on others, the author has found it incumbent on him, in giving the present edition (the last he will probably ever revise), to examine their remarks with diligence and impar-
tiality; and either to admit their validity, or to show the grounds of his adherence to his former opinions. The task he has thus undertaken is not only due to the labours of those who have devoted to the examination of his work so great a portion of their time and attention, but is, indeed, such as he could not in justice to himself avoid. Some of the subjects to which the before-mentioned criticisms relate are, in his estimation, of the first importance to the character and credit of his work; and to have passed over such objections without a reply, would have amounted to no less than a confession of his inability to maintain his statements, or to defend his opinions. He hopes he shall, therefore, stand excused in referring so frequently to the remarks of the different translators of the present work, which he is happy to do, with those feelings which ought always to accompany a debate on literary subjects, and with that satisfaction which must naturally arise from finding that very few instances have occurred in which he has thought it incumbent on him to make any alteration in his narrative.

“In finally submitting this work to the indulgence of the public, in the form in which it is intended it should remain, it has not been thought necessary to republish the preface to the second edition; the only object of which was to vindicate the statements in the first edition, respect-
ing the date of a letter from
Luther to Leo X., against the unfounded objections of the “Edinburgh Review.” As that vindication has not been controverted, and as the evidence, as well external as internal, for the date assigned to the letter, will be found condensed in that part of the present work where the contents of it are noticed, it is presumed that the preface to the second edition may now be dispensed with.”

In the new edition, which comprises the ‘Life of Lorenzo’ in two volumes (instead of three), and that of ‘Leo’ in four (instead of six), a great improvement was effected, by placing the documents contained in the appendix at the close of the particular volume to which they relate. The edition appeared in the early part of the year 1827.

While engaged in preparing his historical works for the press, Mr. Roscoe received from Italy a most gratifying and appropriate present—a new edition of ‘The Poetical Works of Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ in four volumes, super-royal quarto, with annotations by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. A copy of this magnificent work, from the types of Bodoni, splendidly bound in morocco, was transmitted, by the desire of the Grand Duke, to Mr. Roscoe, of whose small collection of books it afterwards formed the most distinguished ornament, and was highly prized by him, not only for the beauty of the volumes, but for the care
and accuracy with which the poems are printed. The work had been contemplated and partly carried into execution by the Grand Duke before his accession, after which event he consigned it to the learning and taste of the Academy della Crusca, of which he was himself a member. No less than thirty-six manuscripts, and twenty-eight printed volumes of the works of
Lorenzo, were consulted by the illustrious editor in the preparation of this edition. A short account of the work was transmitted by Mr. Roscoe to the Royal Society of Literature.

His acknowledgments were expressed to the individual through whose hands he received the volumes in the following terms:—

“Pregiatissimo Signre.

“Con indicibil piacere ho ricevuto per mezzo del Sigr. C. T. Molini di Londra, franco di tutte spese, un bellissimo esemplare delle ‘Opere di Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ in 4 vol., carta reale, stampate in Firenze, accompagnato dalla gentilissima lettera di V. S. Illa, del 7 di Luglio pros. pas. recandomi la gradita notizia che questi pregiatissimi volumi mi sono inviati in dono da parte di sua Altezza Imperiale e Reale il Gran Duca di Toscana—dono ch’ io ho accettato colla più rispettosa gratitudine, come argomento piuttosto della generosità e grandezza d’animo di sua Altezza Imperiale e Reale, che de’ miei deboli
meriti. Ad accrescere il mio piacere per l’onore conferitomi ho poi osservato le opere di questo grand’uomo che è stato, per lungo tempo l’oggetto della mia ammirazione e de’ miei lavori, unite insieme, accresciute da molte pregiatissime aggiunte, ridotte a miglior lezione, e sopratutto corredate da sì luminose e giudiziose annotazione, dalle quali il testo è recato ad una perfezione che non lascia cosa alcuna da desiderare. Piaccia a V. S. Illa, d’esprimere con tutto il rispetto, in mio nome, asua Altezza Imperiale e Reale i miei più vivi ringraziamenti per la bontà colla quale s’ è degnata d’ onorarmi, e di credermi,” &c. &c.