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EDINBURGH REVIEW ON
AND BRIGHTON. PUGILISM. RESI-
TO MR. BECHER.
field had not undeceived me; but he will tell you that I displayed no resentment in mentioning what I had heard, though I was not
CHAPTER VII. sorry to discover the truth. Perhaps you hardly recollect, some years ago, a short,
1808. though, for the time, a warm friendship between us. Why it was not of longer duration I know not. I have still a gift of yours in
HOURS OF IDLENESS."my possession, that must always prevent me
DISSIPATIONS OF LONDON, CAMBRIDGE, from forgetting it. I also remember being favoured with the perusal of many of your compositions, and several other circumstances very pleasant in their day, which I
BYRON, — BOATSWAIN'S will not force upon your memory, but entreat you to believe me, with much regret at their short continuance, and a hope they are not
LORD BYRON'S MAJORITY. “ Yours very sincerely, &c.
“Byron.” In the spring of this year (1808) ap
peared the memorable critique upon the I have already mentioned the early friend
Hours of Idleness in the Edinburgh ship that subsisted between this gentleman Review. That he had some notice of what and Lord Byron, as well as the coolness
was to be expected from that quarter, appears that succeeded it. The following 'extract by the following letter to his friend, Mr. from a letter with which Mr. Harness fa- Becher. voured me, in placing at my disposal those of his noble correspondent, will explain the circumstances that led, at this time, to their
“ Dorant's Hotel, Feb. 26. 1808. reconcilement; and the candid tribute, in the concluding sentences, to Lord Byron,
“My dear Becher, will be found not less honourable to the re
Now for Apollo. I am happy that verend writer himself than to his friend.
you still retain your predilection, and that “A coolness afterwards arose, which
the public allow me some share of praise. Byron alludes to in the first of the accom
I am of so much importance that a most violent panying letters, and we never spoke during of the Edinburgh Review. This I had from
attack is preparing for me in the next number the last year of his remaining at school, the authority of a friend who has seen the nor till after the publication of his · Hours of Idleness. Lord Byron was then at Cam- proof and manuscript of the critique. You bridge ; I, in one of the upper forms, at
know the system of the Edinburgh gentleHarrow. In an English theme I happened and neither the public nor the author expects
men is universal attack. They praise none; to quote from the volume, and mention it praise from them. It is, however, something with praise. It was reported to Byron that I had, on the contrary, spoken slightingly of
to be noticed, as they profess to pass judghis work and of himself," for the
ment only on works requiring the public
purpose of conciliating the favour of Dr. Butler, the attention. You will see this when it comes
- it is, I understand, of the most unmaster, who had been severely satirised in merciful description ; but I am aware of it, one of the poems. Wingfield, who was af, and hope you will not be hurt by its seterwards Lord Powerscourt, a mutual friend
verity. of Byron and myself, disabused him of the error into which he had been led, and this with them, and to prepare her mind for the
"Tell Mrs. Byron not to be out of humour was the occasion of the first letter of the greatest hostility on their part. It will do no collection. Our intimacy was renewed, injury whatever, and I trust her mind will and continued from that time till his going not be ruffled. They defeat their object by abroad. Whatever faults Lord Byron might indiscriminate abuse, and they never praise have had towards others, to myself he was always uniformly affectionate. I have many Co.
except the partisans of Lord Holland and slights and neglects towards him to reproach Southey, Moore, Lauderdale, Strangford,
It is nothing to be abused when myself with ; but I cannot call to mind a a single instance of caprice or unkindness, in
and Payne Knight, share the same fate. the whole course of our friendship, to allege
“I am sorry — but ‘Childish Recollections' against him."
must be suppressed during this edition. I have altered, at your suggestion, the ob
noxious allusions in the sixth stanza of my traceable as it is through every page of this last ode.
volume, is yet but faintly done justice to, And now, my dear Becher, I must re- even by himself ;- his whole youth being, from turn my best acknowledgments for the in- earliest childhood, a series of the most pasterest you have taken in me and my poetical sionate attachments, — of those overflowings bantlings, and I shall ever be proud to show of the soul, both in friendship and love, which how much I esteem the advice and the ad- are still more rarely responded to than felt, viser. Believe me most truly,” &c.
and which, when checked or sent back upon Soon after this letter appeared the dreaded the heart, are sure to turn into bitterness. article, — an article which, if not “ witty We have seen also, in some of his early in itself,” deserved eminently the credit of unpublished poems, how apparent, even causing “wit in others.” Seldom, indeed, through the doubts that already clouded has it fallen to the lot of the justest criticism them, are those feelings of piety which a to attain celebrity such as injustice has pro- soul like his could not but possess, and cured for this ; nor as long as the short, but which, when afterwards diverted out of their glorious race of Byron's genius is remembered, legitimate channel, found a vent in the poetcan the critic, whoever he may be, that so ical worship of nature, and in that shadowy unintentionally ministered to its first start, be substitute for religion which superstition forgotten.
offers. When, in addition, too, to these It is but justice, however, to remark,- traits of early character, we find scattered without at the same time intending any ex- through his youthful poems such anticipacuse for the contemptuous tone of criticism tions of the glory that awaited him, — such, assumed by the reviewer, – that the early alternately, proud and saddened glimpses verses of Lord Byron, however distinguished into the future, as if he already felt the eleby tenderness and grace, give but little pro- ments of something great within him, but mise of those dazzling miracles of poesy with doubted whether his destiny would allow which he afterwards astonished and enchanted him to bring it forth, - it is not wonderful the world ; and that, if his youthful verses that, with the whole of his career present now have a peculiar charm in our eyes, it is to our imaginations, we should see a lustre because we read them, as it were, by the round these first puerile attempts not really light of his subsequent glory.
their own, but shed back upon them from There is, indeed, one point of view, in the bright eminence which he afterwards atwhich these productions are deeply and in- tained ; and that, in our indignation against trinsically interesting. As faithful reflec- the fastidious blindness of the critic, we tions of his character at that period of life, should forget that he had not then the aid they enable us to judge of what he was in of this reflected charm, with which the subhis yet unadulterated state, — before dis- sequent achievements of the poet now irappointment had begun to embitter his radiate all that bears his name. ardent spirit, or the stirring up of the en- The effect this criticism produced upon ergies of his nature had brought into activity him can only be conceived by those who, also its defects. Tracing him thus through | besides having an adequate notion of what these natural effusions of his young genius, most poets would feel under such an attack, we find him pictured exactly such, in all can understand all that there was in the the features of his character, as every anec- temper and disposition of Lord Byron to dote of his boyish days proves him really to make him feel it with tenfold more acuteness have been, proud, daring, and passionate, than others. We have seen with what fe– resentful of slight or injustice, but still verish anxiety he awaited the verdicts of all more so in the cause of others than in his the minor Reviews, and, from his sensibility own ; and yet, with all this vehemence, docile to the praise of the meanest of these cenand placable, at the least touch of a hand sors, may guess how painfully he must have authorised by love to guide him. The writhed under the sneers of the highest. affectionateness, indeed, of his disposition | A friend, who found him in the first moments
"[" This is admirable, - all but the last sentence in on the subject, and contrives to drop no hint of what which we see the hand of a man of finest feelings and every human being felt at the time to be the simple truth genius trying in vain to wash the greasy face of a stupid of the whole matter - to wit, that out of the thousand slanderer, more hopelessly black than an Ethiop's skin." and one volumes of indifferent verse, which happened -WILSON
to be printed in the year of grace, 1807, only one bore "Mr. Moore 'walks delicately,' like Agag, when the a noble name on the title-page ; and the opportunity of course of his narrative brings him to the truculent cri. insulting a lord, under pretext of admonishing a poettique on these boyish essays, which appeared in the aster, was too tempting to be resisted, in a particular Edinburgh Review. Himself a distinguished victim and quarter, at that particular time." - Quarterly Rericu, prop of that journal, he writes elegantly and eloquently 131.]
of excitement after reading the article, in- bullets of the brain' have only taught me to quired anxiously whether he had just re- stand fire ; and, as I have been lucky enough ceived a challenge, — not knowing how upon the whole, my repose and appetite are else to account for the fierce defiance of his not discomposed. Pratt, the gleaner, author, looks. It would, indeed, be difficult for poet, &c. &c., addressed a long rhyming sculptor or painter to imagine a subject of epistle to me on the subject, by way of conmore fearful beauty than the fine counte- solation ; but it was not well done, so I do nance of the young poet must have exhi- not send it, though the name of the man bited in the collected energy of that crisis. might make it go down. The E. R'. have His pride had been wounded to the quick, not performed their task well ; at least the and his ambition humbled ;— but this feeling literati tell me this ; and I think I could of humiliation lasted but for a moment. write a more sarcastic critique on myself The very reaction of his spirit against ag- than any yet published. For instance, ingression roused him to a full consciousness stead of the remark, - ill-natured enough, of his own powers '; and the pain and the but not keen,about Macpherson, I (quoad shame of the injury were forgotten in the reviewers) could have said, “Alas, this proud certainty of revenge.
imitation only proves the assertion of Dr. Among the less sentimental effects of this Johnson, that many men, women, and chilReview upon his mind, he used to mention dren, could write such poetry as Ossian's.'? that, on the day he read it, he drank three “I am thin and in exercise. During the bottles of claret to his own share after spring or summer I trust we shall meet. I dinner ; - that nothing, however, relieved hear Lord Ruthyn leaves Newstead in April. him till he had given vent to his indignation As soon as he quits it for ever, I wish much in rhyme, and that “after the first twenty you would take a ride over, survey, the lines, he felt himself considerably better.” mansion, and give me your candid opinion His chief care, indeed, afterwards, was ami- on the most advisable mode of proceeding ably devoted, — as we have seen it was, in with regard to the house. Entre nous, I am like manner, before the criticism, --to allay- cursedly dipped ; my debts, every thing ining, as far as he could, the sensitiveness of clusive, will be nine or ten thousand before his mother, who, not having the same I am twenty-one. But I have reason to motive or power to summon up a spirit of think my property will turn out better than resistance, was, of course, more helplessly general expectation may conceive. Of Newalive to this attack upon his fame, and felt stead I have little hope or care ; but Hanson, it far more than, after the first burst of in- my agent, intimated my Lancashire property dignation, he did himself. But the state of was worth three Newsteads. I believe we his mind upon the subject will be best under- have it hollow; though the defendants are stood from the following letter.
protracting the surrender, if possible, till after my majority, for the purpose of forming
some arrangement with me, thinking I shall “ Dorant's, March 28. 1808. probably prefer a sum in hand to a reversion. “ I have lately received a copy of the new Newstead I may sell ;—perhaps I will not, edition from Ridge, and it is high time for —though of that more anon.
I will come me to return my best thanks to you for the down in May or June. trouble you have taken in the superintend
“ Yours most truly,” &c. ence. This I do most sincerely, and only regret that Ridge has not seconded you as I The sort of life which he led at this period could wish,—at least, in the bindings, paper, between the dissipations of London and of &c., of the copy he sent to me. Perhaps Cambridge, without a home to welcome, or those for the public may be more respectable even the roof of a single relative to receive in such articles.
him, was but little calculated to render him You have seen the Edinburgh Review, of satisfied either with himself or the world. course. I regret that Mrs. Byron is so much Unrestricted as he was by deference to any annoyed. For my own part, these 'paper will but his owns, even the pleasures to
TO MR, BECHER.
1 - Tis a quality very observable in human nature, that any opposition which does not entirely discourage and intimnidate us, has rather a contrary effect, and inspires us with a more than ordinary grandeur and magnanimity. In collecting our force to overcome the opposition, we invigorate the soul, and give it an elevation with which otherwise it would never have been acquainted.” HOME, Treatise of Human Nature.
* [“ Dr. Johnson's reply to the friend who asked him
if any man living could have written such a book is well known : 'Yes, Sir; many men, many women, and many children.' I inquired of him myself if this story was authentic, and he said it was.” – Mrs. Piozzi, Johnsoniana, p. 84.]
3 · The colour of our whole life is generally such as the three or four first years in which we are our own masters make it."-Cow PER.
which he was naturally most inclined pre- P**, who was at Brighton at the time, and maturely palled upon him, for want of those had some suspicion of the real nature of the best zests of all enjoyment, rarity and re- relationship, said one day to the poet's comstraint. I have already quoted, from one of panion, " What a pretty horse that is you his note-books, a passage descriptive of his are riding!”—“Yes,"answered the pretended feelings on first going to Cambridge, in which cavalier, " it was gave me by my brother !" he says that
one of the deadliest and Beattie tells us, of his ideal poet,heaviest feelings of his life was to feel that
“ The exploits of strength, dexterity, or speed, he was no longer a boy.”—“From that
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring." moment (he adds) I began to grow old in my own esteem, and in my esteem age is not But far different were the tastes of the real estimable. I took my gradations in the vices poet, Byron; and among the least romantic, with great promptitude, but they were not perhaps, of the exercises in which he took to my taste; for my early passions, though delight was that of boxing or sparring. This violent in the extreme, were concentrated, taste it was that, at a very early period, and hated division or spreading abroad. í brought him acquainted with the distinguished could have left or lost the whole world with, professor of that art, Mr. Jackson, for whom or for, that which I loved ; but, though my he continued through life to entertain the temperament was naturally burning, I could sincerest regard, one of his latest works connot share in the common-place libertinism of taining a most cordial tribute not only to the place and time without disgust. And the professional but social qualities of this yet this very disgust, and my heart thrown sole prop and ornament of pugilism. During back upon itself, threw me into excesses
stay. at Brighton this year, Jackson was perhaps more fatal than those from which I one of his most constant visiters,—the exshrunk, as fixing upon one (at a time) the pense of the professor's chaise thither and passions which spread amongst many would back being always defrayed by his noble have hurt only myself.”
patron. He also honoured with his notice, Though, from the causes here alleged, the at this time, D'Egville, the ballet-master, irregularities he, at this period, gave way to
and Grimaldi; to the latter of whom he were of a nature far less gross and miscel- sent, as I understand, on one of his benefit laneous than those, perhaps, of any of his nights a present of five guineas. associates, yet, partly from the vehemence Having been favoured by Mr. Jackson which this concentration caused, and, still with copies of the few notes and letters, more, from that strange pride in his own which he has preserved out of the many aderrors, which led him always to bring them dressed to him by Lord Byron, I shall here forth in the most conspicuous light, it so lay before the reader one or two, which bear happened that one single indiscretion, in his the date of the present year, and which, hands, was made to go farther, if I may so though referring to matters of no interest in express it, than a thousand 'in those of themselves, give, perhaps, a better notion of others. An instance of this, that occurred the actual life and habits of the young poet, about the time of which we are speaking, at this time, than could be afforded by the was, I am inclined to think, the sole found most elaborate and, in other respects, imation of the mysterious allusions just cited. portant correspondence. They will show, at An amour (if it may be dignified with such least, how very little akin to romance were a name) of that sort of casual description the early pursuits and associates of the author which less attachable natures would have of Childe Harold, and, combined with what forgotten, and more prudent ones at least we know of the still less romantic youth of concealed, was by him converted, at this Shakspeare, prove how unhurt the vital period, and with circumstances of most un principle of genius can preserve itself even in necessary display, into a connection of some atmospheres apparently the most ungenial continuance, — the object of it not only and noxious to it. becoming domesticated with him in lodgings at Brompton, but accompanied him afterwards, disguised in boy's clothes, to Brighton.
“N, A., Notts. September 18. 1808. He introduced this young person, who used
“ Dear Jack, to ride about with him in her male attire, “I wish you would inform me what as his younger brother ; and the late Lady has been done by Jekyll, at No. 40. Sloane
TO MR. JACKSON,
1 " I refer to my old friend and corporeal pastor and master, John Jackson, Esq., Professor of Pugilism, who I trust still retains the strength and symmetry of his
model of a form, together with his good humour and athletic, as well as mental, accomplishments."- Note or Don Juan, Canto XI. st. 19.
Square, concerning the pony I returned as The dress alluded to here was, no doubt, unsound.
wanted for a private play, which he, at this * I have also to request you will call on time, got up at Newstead, and of which Louch at Brompton, and inquire what the there are some further particulars in the andevil he meant by sending such an insolent nexed letter to Mr. Becher. letter to me at Brighton ; and at the same time tell him I by no means can comply with
TO MR. BECHBR. the charge he has made for things pretended
** Newstead Abbey, Notts. Sept. 14. 1808. to be damaged.
“My dear Becher, “ Ambrose behaved most scandalously “I am much obliged to you for your about the pony. You may tell Jekyll if he
inquiries, and shall profit by them accorddoes not refund the money, I shall put
ingly. I am going to get up a play here; affair into my lawyer's hands. Five and the hall will constitute a most admirable twenty guineas is a sound price for a pony, theatre. I have settled the dram. pers., and and by — if it costs me five hundred can do without ladies, as I have some young pounds, I will make an example of Mr.Jekyll, friends who will make tolerable substitutes and that immediately, unless the cash is re
for females, and we only want three male turned.
characters, beside Mr. Hobhouse and myself, “ Believe me, dear Jack,” &c.
for the play we have fixed on, which will be
the Revenge. Pray direct Nicholson the carLETTER 27. TO MR. JACKSON.
penter to come over to me immediately, and
inform me what day you will dine and pass "N. A., Notts. October 4. 1808. * You will make as good a bargain as
the night here. "Believe me," &c. possible with this Master Jekyll, if he is not
It was in the autumn of this year, as the a gentleman. If he is a gentleman, inform
letters I have just given indicate, that he, for me, for I shall take very different steps. If he is not, you must get what you can of the Newstead Abbey. Having received the
the first time, took up his residence at money, for I have too much business on hand at present to commence an action. hands of its late occupant, Lord Grey de
place in a most ruinous condition from the Besides, Ambrose is the man who ought to refund, - but I have done with him. You
Ruthyn, he proceeded immediately to repair
and fit up some of the apartments, so as to can settle with L. out of the balance, and
render them — more with a view to his dispose of the bidets, &c. as you best can. - I should be very glad to see you here ; comfortably habitable. In one of his letters
mother's accommodation than his ownbut the house is filled with workmen, and undergoing a thorough repair. I hope, how
to Mrs. Byron, published by Mr. Dallas, he
thus explains his views and intentions on ever, to be more fortunate before many months have elapsed.
this subject, “ If you see Bold Webster, remember me
LETTER 30. to him, and tell him I have to regret Sydney, TO THE HONOURABLE I MRS. BYRON. who has perished, I fear, in my rabbit warren,
" Newstead Abbey, Notts. October 7. 1808. for we have seen nothing of him for the last fortnight.
“ Dear Madam, “ Adieu. - Believe me,” &c.
“ I have no beds for the H**s or any body else at present. The H * s sleep at
Mansfield. I do not know that I resemble LETTER 28.
Jean Jacques Rousseau. I have no ambition “N. A., Notts. December 12. 1808. to be like so illustrious a madman - but this “ My dear Jack,
I know, that I shall live in my own manner, * You will get the greyhound from the and as much alone as possible. When my owner at any price, and as many more of the rooms are ready I shall be glad to see you : same breed (male or female) as you can collect. at present it would be improper, and uncom
“ Tell D'Egville his dress shall be returned fortable to both parties. You can hardly -I am obliged to him for the pattern. I object to my rendering my mansion habitable, am sorry you should have so much trouble, notwithstanding my departure for Persia in but I was not aware of the difficulty of pro- March (or May at farthest), since you will curing the animals in question. I shall have be tenant till my return ; and in case of any finished part of my mansion in a few weeks, accident (for I have already arranged my will and, if you can pay me a visit at Christmas, I shall be very glad to see you.
1 Thus addressed always by Lord Byron, but without “ Believe me,” &c.
any right to the distinction.
TO MR. JACKSON.