Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

66

Dogherty to please him, but the match went good Lort''Good Lort deliver us !' (Lort off. It was of course to have been a private was his christian name.) As he was very fight, in a private room.

free in his speculations upon all kinds of “ On one occasion, being too late to go subjects, although by no means either dishome and dress, he was equipped by a friend solute or intemperate in his conduct, and (Mr. Baillie, I believe,) in a magnificently as I was no less independent, our converfashionable and somewhat exaggerated shirt sation and correspondence used to alarm our and neckcloth. He proceeded to the Opera, friend Hobhouse to a considerable degree. and took his station in Fops' Alley. During You must be almost tired of my packets, the interval between the opera and the ballet, which will have cost a mint of postage. an acquaintance took his station by him and Salute Gifford and all my friends. saluted him : 'Come round,' said Matthews,

Yours, &c.” come round.'—Why should I come round ?' said the other ; ‘you have only to turn your Mr. Matthews commenced, Lord Byron had

As already, before his acquaintance with head — I am close by you.'. • That is exactly what I cannot do," said Matthews ; begun to bewilder himself in the mazes of * don't you see the state I am in ?" pointing scepticism, it would be unjust to impute to to his buckram shirt collar and inflexible this gentleman any further share in the cravat, and there he stood with his head formation of his noble friend's opinions than always in the same perpendicular position what arose from the natural influence of exduring the whole spectacle.

ample and sympathy ; – an influence which, “ One evening, after dining together, as we

as it was felt perhaps equally on both sides, were going to the Opera, I happened to

rendered the contagion of their doctrines, in have a spare Opera ticket (as subscriber to

a great measure, reciprocal. In addition, a box), and presented it to Matthews. Now, too, to this community of sentiment on such sir,' said he to Hobhouse afterwards, this i subjects, they were both, in no ordinary call courteous in the Abbot -- another man degree, possessed by that dangerous spirit of would never have thought that I might do ridicule, whose impulses even the pious better with half a guinea than throw it to

cannot always restrain, and which draws the a door-keeper ; — but here is a man not

mind on, by a sort of irresistible fascination, only asks me to dinner, but gives me a ticket

to disport itself most wantonly on the brink for the theatre.' These were only his od- of all that is most solemn and awful. It is dities, for no man was more liberal, or more

not wonderful, therefore, that, in such honourable in all his doings and dealings, should have been, at least, accelerated in

society, the opinions of the noble poet than Matthews. He gave Hobhouse and

that direction to which their bias already before we set out for Constantinople, a most splendid entertainment, to which we

leaned ; and though he cannot be said to

have become thus confirmed in these did ample justice. One of his fancies was dining at all sorts of out-of-the-way places of his life, was he a confirmed unbeliever, —

doctrines, -as neither now, nor at any time Somebody popped upon him in I know not what coffee-house in the Strand -and what he had undoubtedly learned to feel less do you think was the attraction ? Why, uneasy under his scepticism, and even to that he paid a shilling (I think) to dine with mingle somewhat of boast and of levity with his hat on. This he called his hat house,' of his correspondence with Mr. Dallas, we

his expression of it. At the very first onset and used to boast of the comfort of being find him proclaiming his sentiments on all covered at meal-times.

When Sir Henry Smith was expelled such subjects with a flippancy and confidence from Cambridge for a row with a tradesman far different from the tone in which he had named · Hiron, Matthews solaced himself fervid sadness, as of a heart loth to part

first ventured on his doubts, — from that with shouting under Hiron's windows every with its illusions, which breathes through evening,

every line of those prayers, that, but a year "Ah me! what perils do environ

before, his

pen

had traced.

Here again, however, we should recollect, “ He was also of that band of profane there must be a considerable share of allowscoffers who, under the auspices of * ance for his usual tendency to make the used to rouse Lort Mansel (late Bishop of most and the worst of his own obliquities. Bristol) from his slumbers in the lodge of There occurs, indeed, in his first letter to Trinity ; and when he appeared at the Mr. Dallas, an instance of this strange amwindow foaming with wrath, and crying out, bition,- the very reverse, it must be allowed, 'I know you, gentlemen, I know you !' were of hypocrisy,— which led him to court, rather wont to reply, We beseech thee to hear us, than avoid, the reputation of profligacy, and

me,

The man who meddles with hor Hiron.'

[blocks in formation]

LETTER 20.

TO MR. DALLAS.

to put, at all times, the worst face on his commonly called honour has, and I trust ever own character and conduct. His new cor- will, prevent me from disgracing my name by respondent having, in introducing himself to a mean or cowardly action, I have been his acquaintance, passed some compliments already held up as the votary of licentiouson the tone of moral and charitable feeling ness, and the disciple of infidelity. How which breathed through one of his poems, far justice may have dictated this accusation, had added, that it “ brought to his mind I cannot pretend to say ; but, like the genanother noble author, who was not only a tleman to whom my religious friends, in the fine poet, orator, and historian, but one of warmth of their charity, have already devoted the closest reasoners we have on the truth of me, I am made worse than I really am. that religion of which forgiveness is a promi- However, to quit myself (the worst theme nent principle, the great and good Lord I could pitch upon), and return to my Lyttleton, whose fame will never die. His poems, I cannot sufficiently express my son,” adds Mr. Dallas, “to whom he had thanks, and I hope I shall some day have an transmitted genius, but not virtue, sparkled opportunity of rendering them in person. A for a moment and went out like a star, second edition is now in the press, with and with him the title became extinct." To some additions and considerable omissions ; this Lord Byron answers in the following you will allow me to present you with a letter :

copy. The Critical, Monthly, and AntiJacobin Reviews have been very indulgent ;

but the Eclectic has pronounced a furious “ Dorant's Hotel, Albemarle Street, Jan. 20. 1808. Philippic, not against the book but the author, Sir,

where you will find all I have mentioned Your letter was not received till this asserted by a reverend divine who wrote the morning, I presume from being addressed to critique. me in Notts., where I have not resided since

Your name and connection with our last June; and as the date is the 6th, you will

family have been long known to me, and I excuse the delay of my answer.

hope your person will be not less so : you “ If the little volume you mention has

will find me an excellent compound of a given pleasure to the author of Percival and

Brainless' and a‘ Stanhope.''

I am afraid Aubrey, I am sufficiently repaid by his praise. you will hardly be able to read this, for my Though our periodical censors have been

hand is almost as bad as my character ; but uncommonly lenient, I confess a tribute from you will find me, as legibly as possible, a man of acknowledged genius is still more

“ Your obliged and obedient servant, flattering. But I am afraid I should forfeit

“ Byron.” all claim to candour, if I did not decline such praise as I do not deserve ; and this is, I There is here, evidently, a degree of pride am sorry to say, the case in the present in being thought to resemble the wicked instance.

Lord Lyttleton ; and, lest his known irre“ My compositions speak for themselves, gularities should not bear him out in the and must stand or fall by their own worth pretension, he refers mysteriously, as was or demerit : thus far I feel highly gratified by his habit, to certam untold events of his life, your favourable opinion. But my pretensions to warrant the parallel. Mr. Dallas, who to virtue are unluckily so few, that though I seems to have been but little prepared for should be happy to merit, I cannot accept, such a reception of his compliments, escapes your applause in that respect. One passage out of the difficulty by transferring to the in your letter struck me forcibly: you young lord's “ candour” the praise he had so mention the two Lords Lyttleton" in the thanklessly bestowed on his morals in genemanner they respectively deserve, and will ral; adding, that from the design Lord Byron be surprised to hear the person who is now had expressed in his preface of resigning the addressing you has been frequently compared service of the Muses for a different vocation, to the latter. I know I am injuring myself he had “ conceived him bent on pursuits in your esteem by this avowal, but the cir- which lead to the character of a legislator cumstance was so remarkable from your and statesman ;— had imagined him at one observation, that I cannot help relating the of the universities, training himself to habits fact. The events of my short life have been of reasoning and eloquence, and storing up a of so singular a nature, that, though the pride large fund of history and law.” It is in reply

Characters in the novel called Percival. * This appeal to the imagination of his correspondent was not altogether without effect. — "I considered,"

says Mr.Dallas," these letters, though evidently grounded on some occurrences in the still earlier part of his life, rather as jeux d'esprit than as a true portrait."

LETTER 21.

TO MR. DALLAS.

“ Sir,

to this letter that the exposition of the noble at the same moment : so I quitted Zeno for poet's opinions, to which I have above Aristippus, and conceive that pleasure conalluded, is contained.

stitutes the to kalov. (In morality, I prefer Confucius to the Ten Commandments, and

Socrates to St. Paul, though the two latter "Dorant's, January 21. 1808. agree in their opinion of marriage. In re

ligion, I favour the Catholic emancipation, “Whenever leisure and inclination per- but do not acknowledge the Pope ; and I mit me the pleasure of a visit, I shall feel truly have refused to take the sacrament, because gratified in a personal acquaintance with one I do not think eating bread or drinking wine whose mind has been long known to me in from the hand of an earthly vicar will make his writings.

me an inheritor of heaven.] I hold virtue, “You are so far correct in your conjecture, in general, or the virtues severally, to be only that I am a member of the University of in the disposition, each a feeling, not a prinCambridge, where I shall take my degree ciple.? I believe truth the prime attribute of A. M. this term ; but were reasoning, of the Deity, and death an eternal sleep, at eloquence, or virtue, the objects of my search, least of the body. You have here a brief Granta is not their metropolis, nor is the compendium of the sentiments of the wicked place of her situation an • El Dorado, far George Lord Byron ; and, till I get a new less an Utopia. The intellects of her children suit, you will perceive I am badly clothed. are as stagnant as her Cam, and their pursuits

I remain," &c. limited to the church - not of Christ, but of the nearest benefice.

Though such was, doubtless, the general “ As to my reading, I believe I may aver, cast of his opinions at this time, it must be without hyperbole, it has been tolerably recollected, before we attach any particular extensive in the historical department ; so importance to the details of his creed, that, that few nations exist, or have existed, with in addition to the temptation, never easily whose records I am not in some degree ac- resisted by him, of displaying his wit at the quainted, from Herodotus down to Gibbon. expense of his character, he was here adOf the classics, I know about as much as dressing a person who, though, no doubt, most school-boys after a discipline of thirteenwell meaning, was evidently one of those years ; of the law of the land as much as officious, self-satisfied advisers, whom it was enables me to keep within the statute'— to the delight of Lord Byron at all times to use the poacher’s vocabulary. I did study astonish and mystify. The tricks which, the Spirit of Laws' and the Law of when a boy, he played upon the Nottingham Nations ; but when I saw the latter violated quack, Lavender, were but the first of a long every month, I gave up my attempts at so series with which, through life, he amused useless an accomplishment :-of geography, himself, at the expense of all the numerous I have seen more land on maps than I should quacks whom his celebrity and sociability wish to traverse on foot ;-of mathematics, drew around him. enough to give me the headach without The terms in which he speaks of the clearing the part affected ;-of philosophy, university in this letter agree in spirit with astronomy, and metaphysics, more than I can many passages both in the “ Hours of comprehend!; and of common sense so little, Idleness,” and his early Satire, and prove that I mean to leave a Byronian prize at that, while Harrow was remembered by him each of our • Almæ Matres' for the first with more affection, perhaps, than respect, discovery,—though I rather fear that of the Cambridge had not been able to inspire him longitude will precede it.

with either. This feeling of distaste to his " I once thought myself a philosopher, and “nursing mother” he entertained in common talked nonsense with great decorum : I defied with some of the most illustrious names of pain, and preached up equanimity. For some English literature. So great was Milton's time this did very well, for no one was in hatred to Cambridge, that he had even conpain for me but my friends, and none lost ceived, says Warton, a dislike to the face of their patience but my hearers. At last, a the country, - to the fields in its neighbourfall from my horse convinced me bodily hood. The poet Gray thus speaks of the suffering was an evil ; and the worst of an same university : Surely, it was of this argument overset my maxims and my temper place, now Cambridge, but formerly known

[ocr errors]

I He appears to have had in his memory « Voltaire's lively account of Zadig's learning : "Il savait de la métaphysique ce qu'on cn a su dans tous les âges, - c'est à dire, fort peu de chose," &c.

2 The doctrine of Hume, who resolves all virtue into sentiment. - See his “ Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals."

[blocks in formation]

by the name of Babylon, that the prophet admiration of the one than by a desire to spoke when he said, " The wild beasts of the spite and depreciate the other. deserts shall dwell there, and their houses Nor is it genius only that thus rebels shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls against the discipline of the schools. Even shall build there, and satyrs shall dance there,” the tamer quality of Taste, which it is the &c. &c. The bitter recollections which Gib- professed object of classical studies to culbon retained of Oxford, his own pen has re- tivate, is sometimes found to turn restive corded;

and the cool contempt bywhich Locke under the pedantic manège to which it is avenged himself on the bigotry of the same seat subjected. It was not till released from the of learning is even still more memorable.' duty of reading Virgil as a task, that Gray

In poets such distasteful recollections of could feel himself capable of enjoying the their collegiate life may well be thought to beauties of that poet ; and Lord Byron was, have their origin in that antipathy to the to the last, unable to vanquish a similar pretrammels of discipline, which is not unusually possession, with which the same sort of observable among the characteristics of ge- school association had inoculated him, against nius, and which might be regarded, indeed, as

Horace. a sort of instinct, implanted in it for its own

“Though Time hath taught preservation, if there be any truth in the My mind to meditate what then it learn'd, opinion that a course of learned education Yet such the fix'd inveteracy wrought is hurtful to the freshness and elasticity of

By the impatience of my early thought,

That, with the freshness wearing out before the imaginative faculty. A right reverend writer ?, but little to be suspected of any

My mind could relish what it might have sought,

If free to choose, I cannot now restore desire to depreciate academical studies, not Its health; but what it then detested, still abhor. only puts the question, “Whether the usual forms of learning be not rather injurious to

“ Then farewell, Horace ; whom I hated so,

Not for thy faults, but mine; it is a curse the true poet, than really assisting to him?"

To understand, not feel thy lyric flow, but appears strongly disposed to answer it To comprehend, but never love thy verse." in the affirmative, - giving, as an instance,

Childe Harold, Canto IV. in favour of this conclusion, the classic Addison, who, “as appears,” he says, “ from To the list of eminent poets, who have some original efforts in the sublime, allego- thus left on record their dislike and disaprical way, had no want of natural talents for proval of the English system of education, the greater poetry, - which yet were so are to be added the distinguished names restrained and disabled by his constant and of Cowley, Addison, and Cowper ; while, superstitious study of the old classics, that among the cases which, like those of Milton he was, in fact, but a very ordinary poet." and Dryden, practically demonstrate the sort

It was, no doubt, under some such im- of inverse ratio that may exist between pression of the malign influence of a col- college honours and genius, must not be legiate atmosphere upon genius, that Milton, forgotten those of Swift, Goldsmith, and in speaking of Cambridge, gave vent to the Churchill, to every one of whom some mark exclamation, that it was a place quite in- of incompetency was affixed by the respective compatible with the votaries of Phæbus," universities, whose annals they adorn. When, and that Lord Byron, versifying a thought of in addition, too, to this rather ample catalogue bis own, in the leiter to Mr. Dallas just given, of poets, whom the universities have sent declares,

forth either disloyal or dishonoured, we come “ Her Helicon is duller than her Cam.”

to number over such names as those of

Shakspeare and of Pope, followed by Gay, The poet Dryden, too, who, like Milton, Thomson, Burns, Chatterton, &c., all of had incurred some mark of disgrace at whom have attained their respective stations Cambridge, seems to have entertained but of eminence, without instruction or sanction little more veneration for his Alma Mater ; from any college whatever, it forms altogether, and the verses in which he has praised it must be owned, a large portion of the Oxford at the expense of his own university s poetical world, that must be subducted from were, it is probable, dictated much less by the sphere of that nursing influence which

I See his Letter to Anthony Collins, 1703-4, where he speaks of "those sharp heads, which were for damning his book, because of its discouraging the staple commodity of the place, which in his time was called hogs' shcaring."

Hurd, “ Discourses on Poetical Imitation."

3 [“ Oxford to him a dearer name shall be

Than his own mother-university :
Thebes did his green, unknowing youth engage;
He chooses Athens in his riper age.

Dryden's Prologue to the University of Oxford.)

F

LETTER 22. TO MR. HENRY DRURY.

the universities are supposed to exercise physician having taken his sixteenth fee, and over the genius of the country.'

I his prescription, I could not quit this earth The following letters, written at this time, without leaving a memento of my constant contain some particulars which will not be attachment to Butler in gratitude for his found uninteresting.

manifold good offices. 2

“ I meant to have been down in July ; but thinking my appearance, immediately after

the publication, would be construed into an “ Dorant's Hotel, Jan. 13. 1808.

insult, I directed my steps elsewhere. “ My dear Sir,

Besides, I heard that some of the boys had Through the stupidity of my servants, got hold of my Libellus, contrary to my or the porter of the house, in not showing wishes certainly, for I never transmitted a you up stairs (where I should have joined single copy till October, when I gave one to you directly), prevented me the pleasure of a boy, since gone, after repeated importunities. seeing you yesterday, I hoped to meet you You will, I trust, pardon this egotism. As you at some public place in the evening. How

had touched on the subject I thought some ever, my stars decreed otherwise, as they explanation necessary. Defence I shall not generally do, when I have any favour to re

attempt, ` Hic murus aheneus esto, nil conquest of them. I think you would have scire sibi' — and so on' (as Lord Baltimore been surprised at my figure, for, since our

said on his trial for a rape) — I have been so last meeting, I am reduced four stone in long at Trinity as to forget the conclusion of weight. I then weighed fourteen stone the line ; but though cannot finish my seven pound, and now only ten stone and a half. I have disposed of my superfluities by believe me, gratefully and affectionately, &c.

quotation, I will my letter, and entreat you to means of hard exercise and abstinence.

“ P. S. I will not lay a tax on your time “ Should your Harrow engagements allow by requiring an answer, lest you say, as you to visit town between this and February, Butler said to Tatersall (when I had written Î shall be most happy to see you in Albemarle his reverence an impudent epistle on the Street. If I am not so fortunate, I shall expression before mentioned), viz. that I endeavour to join you for an afternoon at

wanted to draw him into a correspondence."" Harrow, though, I fear, your cellar will by no means contribute to my cure. As for my

TO MR. HARNESS. worthy preceptor, Dr. B., our encounter would by no means prevent the mutual en- “Dorant's Hotel, Albemarle Street, Feb. 11. 1808. dearments he and I were wont to lavish on “My dear Harness, each other. We have only spoken once “ As I had no opportunity of returning since my departure from_Harrow in 1805, my verbal thanks, I trust you will accept my and then he politely told Tatersall I was not written acknowledgments for the complia proper associate for his pupils,

This was

ment you were pleased to pay some prolong before my strictures in verse ; but, in duction of my unlucky muse last November, plain prose, had I been some years older, I - I am induced to do this not less from the should have held my tongue on his per- pleasure I feel in the praise of an old schoolfections. But, being laid on my back, when fellow, than from justice to you, for I had that schoolboy thing was written-or rather heard the story with some slight variations, dictated — expecting to rise no more, my | Indeed, when we met this morning, Wing

LETTER 23.

i(“No system of national education ever was, or will whom a more meritorious or worse-paid class of men be, planned with reference to minds such as Mr. Moore cannot be named), and to pamper self-complacency, peseems not merely chiefly, but exclusively, to be thinking tulance, and the silly ambition of knowing a little of of in this diatribe. The grand object is to prepare men every thing, in a rising generation, already more than for the discharge of those duties which society has a enough tinged with such phantasies." — Quarterly right to demand from its members; and, original genius Review, 1831. being so rare as hitherto it always has been, the functions

“ The only bald part of this Biography is that which which cannot be discharged in the absence of that extra

relates to Byron's college life; nor can we approve of ordinary gift are not entitled to be mainly, or even directly, considered. We are very far from maintaining history, to fall into any blunders of commission ; but he

its spirit. Mr. Moore is too well acquainted with literary that the established system ought not to be considerably modified: the classical literature of antiquity is no longer

nas fallen, – not perhaps unpurposely, into not a few of entitled to hold the exclusive place which belonged to it

omission, and strives, most ineffectually, to make us bein the age of our scholastic and academical foundations ;

lieve, that because Byron did no good at Cambridge, no but it is not by such unguarded attacks as this, that the

other young poet of a high order could do any, - and

that the Genius Loci is adverse to all inspiration.". course of rational improvement is at all likely to be for

Blackwood, 1830.) warded. They can serve no better purpose than to irri. tate or discourage the existing race of teachers (than 2 [See Works, p. 383.]

« AnteriorContinuar »