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poesy ; but Nature seems to set herself against pluLETTER LXXXIX.
ralities in fame. He had prepared himself for this
debate,-as most of the best orators have done, in 8, St James's-street, Feb. 25th, 1812.
their first essays,—not only by composing, but writing MY LORD,
down, the whole of his speech beforehand. . The re“ With my best thanks, I have the honour to reception he met with was flattering ; some of the noble turn the Notts. letter to your lordship. I have read speakers on his own side complimented him very it with attention, but do not think I shall venture to warmly; and that he was himself highly pleased with avail myself of its contents, as my view of the ques- his success appears from the annexed account of tion differs in some measure from Mr Coldham's. I Mr Dallas, which gives a lively notion of his boyish hope I do not wrong him, but his objections to the elation on the occasion. bill appear to me to be founded on certain appre- “ When he left the great chamber, I went and met hensions that he and his coadjutors might be mis- him in the passage ; he was glowing with success, taken for the original advisers' (to quote him) of the and much agitated. I had an umbrella in my right measure. For my own part, I consider the manu- hand, not expecting that he would put out his hand facturers as a much-injured body of men, sacrificed to me ;-in my haste to take it when offered, I had to the views of certain individuals who have enriched advanced my left hand—'What,' said he, 'give your themselves by those practices which have deprived friend your left hand upon such an occasion ?' I the frame-workers of employment. For instance;- showed the cause, and immediately changing the by the adoption of a certain kind of frame, one man umbrella to the other hand, I gave him my right performs the work of seven-six are thus thrown out hand, which he shook and pressed warmly. He was of business. But it is to be observed that the work greatly elated, and repeated some of the compliments thus done is far inferior in quality, hardly marketable which had been paid him, and mentioned one or two at home, and hurried over with a view to exportation. of the peers who had desired to be introduced to him. Surely, my lord, however we may rejoice in any He concluded with saying, that he had, by his speech, improvement in the arts which may be beneficial to given me the best advertisement for Childe Harold's mankind, we must not allow mankind to be sacrificed
Pilgrimage." to improvements in mechanism. The maintenance
The speech itself, as given by Mr Dallas from the and well-doing of the industrious poor is an object of noble speaker's own manuscript, is pointed and greater consequence to the community than the envigorous ; and the same sort of interest that is felt richment of a few monopolists by any improvement in reading the poetry of a Burke, may be gratified, in the implements of trade, which deprives the work- perhaps, by a few specimens of the oratory of a Byron. man of his bread, and renders the labourer unworthy In the very opening of his speech he thus introduces of his hire.' My own motive for opposing the bill is himself by the melancholy avowal, that in that founded on its palpable injustice, and its certain assembly of his brother nobles he stood almost a inefficacy. I have seen the state of these miserable stranger. men, and it is a disgrace to a civilized country. Their
“ As a person in some degree connected with the excesses may be condemned, but cannot be subject suffering county, though a stranger not only to this of wonder. The effect of the present bill would be to
House in general, but to almost every individual drive them into actual rebellion. The few words I whose attention Í presume to solicit, I must claim shall venture to offer on Thursday will be founded
some portion of your lordships' indulgence." upon these opinions, formed from my own observa
The following extracts comprise, I think, the pastions on the spot. By previous inquiry, I am convinced
sages of most spirit. these men would have been restored to employment, 6 When we are told that these men are leagued and the county to tranquillity. It is, perhaps, not together, not only for the destruction of their own yet too late, and is surely worth the trial. It can comfort, but of their very means of subsistence, can never be too late to employ force in such circum
we forget that it is the bitter policy, the destructive stances. I believe your lordship does not coincide warfare, of the last eighteen years which has destroyed with me entirely on this subject, and most cheerfully their comfort, your comfort, all men's comfort ?—that and sincerely shall I submit to your superior judgment policy which, originating with great statesmen now and experience, and take some other line of argument
no more,' has survived the dead to become a curse against the bill, or be silent altogether, should you
on the living, unto the third and fourth generation ! deem it more advisable. Condemning, as every one
These men never destroyed their looms till they were inust condemn, the conduct of these wretches, I become useless, worse than useless; till they were believe in the existence of grievances which call become actual impediments to their exertions in obrather for pity than punishment. I have the honour taining their daily bread. Can you then wonder that, to be, with great respect, my lord,
in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted “ Your lordship's
fraud, and imputed felony, are found in a station not “Most obedient and obliged servant, far beneath that of your lordships, the lowest, though
once most useful portion of the people, should forget “P. S.-I am a little apprehensive that your lord- their duty in their distresses ; and become only 'less ship will think me too lenient towards these men,
guilty than one of their representatives ? But while and half a framebreaker myself.”
the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law,
new capital punishments must be devised, new snares It would have been, no doubt, the ambition of Lord of death must be spread for the wretched mechanic Byron to acquire distinction as well in oratory as in who is famished into guilt. These men were willing
TO MR HODGSON.
to dig, but the spade was in other hands: they were English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.' He told me not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve that he did not care about poetry (or about mine-at them. Their own means of subsistence were cut off ; | least, any but that poem of mine), but he was sure, all other employments pre-occupied ; and their ex- from that and other symptoms, I should make an cesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can orator, if I would but take to speaking and grow a hardly be the subject of surprise.
parliament man. He never ceased harping upon this “ I have traversed the seat of war in the peninsula; to me to the last; and I remember my old tutor, Dr I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces Drury, had the same notion when I was a boy; but of Turkey; but never, under the most despotic of it never was my turn of inclination to try. I spoke infidel governments, did I behold such squalid wretch- once or twice, as all young peers do, as a kind of inedness as I have seen since my return, in the very troduction into public life ; but dissipation, shyness, heart of a Christian country. And what are your haughty and reserved opinions, together with the remedies ? After months of inaction, and months of short time I lived in England after my majority (only action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth about five years in all), prevented me from resuming the grand specific, the never-failing nostrum of all the experiment. As far as it went, it was not disstate-physicians, from the days of Draco to the couraging, particularly my first speech (I spoke three present time. After feeling the pulse and shaking or four times in all), but just after it, my poem of the head over the patient, prescribing the usual Childe Harold was published, and nobody ever course of warm water and bleeding—the warm water thought about my prose afterwards, nor indeed did of your mawkish police, and the lancets of your I; it became to me a secondary and neglected obmilitary—these convulsions must terminate in death, ject, though I sometimes wonder to myself if I should the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all have succeeded.” political Sangrados. Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the bill, are
His immediate impressions with respect to the sucthere not capital punishments sufficient on your cess of his first speech may be collected from a letter statutes ? Is there not blood enough upon your penal addressed soon after to Mr Hodgson. code, that more must be poured forth to ascend to heaven and testify against you ? How will you carry
LETTER XC. this bill into effect? Can you commit a.whole county to their own prisons ? Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like scarecrows ? or
«8, St James's street, March 5th, 1812. will you proceed (as you must, to bring this measure 6 MY DEAR HODGSON, into effect), by decimation ; place the country under We Te are not answerable for reports of speeches in martial law; depopulate and lay waste all around the papers; they are always given incorrectly, and on you, and restore Sherwood Forest as an acceptable this occasion more so than usual, from the debate in gift to the crown in its former condition of a royal
the Commons on the same night. The Morning Post chase and an asylum for outlaws ? Are these the should have said eighteen years. However, you will remedies for a starving and desperate populace ? find the speech, as spoken, in the Parliamentary ReWill the famished wretch who has braved your gister, when it comes out. Lords Holland and Grenbayonets be appalled by your gibbets ? When death
ville, particularly the latter, paid me some high comis a relief, and the only relief it appears that you will pliments in the course of their speeches, as you may afford him, will he be dragooned into tranquillity ? have seen in the papers, and Lords Eldon and HarWill that which could not be effected by your grena- rowby answered me. I have had many marvellous diers be accomplished by your executioners? If you eulogies repeated to me since, in person and by proceed by the forms of law, where is your evidence?
proxy, from divers persons ministerial-yea, minisThose who refused to impeach their accomplices, terial !—as well as oppositionists; of them I shall only when transportation only was the punishment, will
mention Sir F. Burdett. He says it is the best hardly be tempted to witness against them when death speech by a lord since the Lord knows when, prois the penalty. With all due deference to the noble
bably from a fellow-feeling in the sentiments. Lord lords opposite, I think a little investigation, some H. tells me I shall beat them all if I persevere, and previous inquiry, would induce even them to change Lord G. remarked that the construction of some of their purpose. That most favourite state measure, so my periods are very like Burke's !! And so much marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances,
for vanity. I spoke very violent sentences with a sort temporizing, would not be without its advantage in of modest impudence, abused every thing and every this
. When a proposal is made to emancipate or body, and put the Lord Chancellor very much out of relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years, you humour; and if I may believe what I hear, have not temporize and tamper with the minds of men; but a lost any character by the experiment. As to my dedeath-bill must be passed off-hand, without a thought
livery, loud and fluent enough, perhaps a little theaof the consequences.”
trical. I could not recognise myself or any one else In reference to his own parliamentary displays, in the newspapers. and to this maiden speech in particular, I find the “My poesy comes out on Saturday. Hobhouse is following remarks in one of his Journals.
here; I shall tell him to write. My stone is gone
for “ Sheridan's liking for me (whether he was not the present, but I fear is part of my habit. We all mystifying me, I do not know, but Lady Caroline
talk of a visit to Cambridge. Lamb and others told me that he said the same both
66 Yours ever, before and after he knew me) was founded upon
Of the same date as the above is the following theatre of the world, had created in all minds, and letter to Lord Holland, accompanying a copy of his in every walk of intellect, a taste for strong excitenew publication, and written in a tone that cannot fail ment, which the stimulants supplied from ordinary to give a high idea of his good feeling and candour. sources were insufficient to gratify ;-that a tame
deference to established authorities had fallen into LETTER XCI.
disrepute, no less in literaturo than in politics, and
that the poet who should breathe into his songs the * St James's-street, March 5th, 1812.
fierce and passionate spirit of the age, and assert, MY LORD,
untrammelled and unawed, the high dominion of “ May I request your lordship to accept a copy of genius, would be the most sure of an audience toned the thing which accompanies this note? You have in sympathy with his strains. already so fully proved the truth of the first line of
It is true that, to the licence on religious subjects, Pope's couplet,
which revelled through the first acts of that tremendous Forgiveness to the injured doth belong,
drama, a disposition of an opposite tendency had,
for some time, succeeded. Against the wit of the that I long for an opportunity to give the lie to the scoffer not only piety, but a better taste, revolted; verse that follows. If I were not perfectly convinced and had Lord Byron, in touching on such themes in that any thing I may have formerly uttered in the Childe Harold, adopted a tone of levity or derision boyish rashness of my misplaced resentment had (such as, unluckily, he sometimes afterwards demade as little impression as it deserved to make, I scended to), not all the originality and beauty of his should hardly have the confidence-perhaps your work would have secured for it a prompt or unconJordship may give it a stronger and more appropriate tested triumph. As it was, however, the few dashes appellation—to send you a quarto of the same scrib- of scepticism with which he darkened his strain, far bler. But your lordship, I am sorry to observe to from checking his popularity, were among those attracday, is troubled with the gout: if my book can pro- tions which, as I have said, independent of all the dace a laugh against itself or the author, it will be of charms of the poetry, accelerated and heightened its some service. If it can set you to sleep, the benefit
The religious feeling that has sprung up will be yet greater; and as some facetious personage through Europe since the French revolution like observed half a century ago, that 'poetry is a mere the political principles that have emerged out of the drug,' I offer you mine as a humble assistant to the
same event--in rejecting all the licentiousness of that • eau médecinale.' I trust you will forgive this and period, have preserved much of its spirit of freedom and all my other buffooneries, and believe me to be, with inquiry ; and among the best fruits of this enlarged great respect, Your lordship’s
and enlightened piety, is the liberty which it disposes Obliged and sincere servant,
men to accord to the opinions, and even heresies, of “ BYRON.”
others. To persons thus sincerely, and at the same It was within two days after his speech in the like that of Byron, labouring in the eclipse of scep
time tolerantly, devout, the spectacle of a great mind, House of Lords, that Childe Harold appeared ;*—and ticism, could
not be otherwise than an object of deep the impression it produced upon the public was as instantaneous as it has proved deep and lasting. The and solemn interest. If they had already known
what it was to doubt themselves, they would enter permanence of such success genius alone could secure, but to its instant and enthusiastic burst, other into his fate with mournful sympathy ; while, if safe
besides the merit of the work, concurred. causes,
in the tranquil haven of faith, they would look with
Besides, There are those who trace in the peculiar cha- pity on one who was still a wanderer. racter of Lord Byron's genius strong features of erring and dark as might be his views at that mo relationship to the times in which he lived; who ment, there were circumstances in his character and think that the great events which marked the close fate that gave a hope of better thoughts yet dawning
upon him. From his temperament and youth, there of the last century, by giving a new impulse to men's
could be little fear that he was yet hardened in his minds, by habituating them to the daring and the
heresies, and as, for a heart wounded like his, there free, and allowing full vent to “the flash and outbreak of fiery spirits," had led naturally to the pro
was, they knew, but one true suurce of consolation, duction of such a poet as Byron; and that he was,
so it was hoped that the love of truth, so apparent in in short, as much the child and representative of the all he wrote, would one day enable him to find it. Revolution, in poesy, as another great man of the
Another, and not the least of those causes which age, Napoleon, was in statesmanship and warfare. concurred with the intrinsic claims of his genius to Without going the full length of this notion, it will
, give an impulse to the tide of success that now flowed at least, be conceded, that the free loose which had upon him, was, unquestionably, the peculiarity of been given to all the passions and energies of the his personal history and character. There had been, human mind, in the great struggle of that period, in his very first introduction of himself to the public,
a sufficient portion of singularity to excite strong together with the constant spectacle of such astounding vicissitudes as were passing almost daily on the talent, in his high station, are heralded into life by
attention and interest. While all other youths of * To his sister, Mrs Leigh, one of the first presentation the applauses and anticipations of a host of friends, copies was sent, with the following inscription in it:- young Byron stood forth alone, unannounced by either
* To Augusta, my dearest sister, and my best friend, who praise or promise,—the representative of an ancient is presented by her father's son, and most affectionate house, whose name, long lost in the gloomy solitudes brother,
of Newstead, seemed to have just awakened from
the sleep of half a century in his person. The cir- It was also natural that, in that circle, the admiracumstances that in succession followed,--the prompt tion of the new poet should be, at least, quickened vigour of his reprisals upon the assailants of his by the consideration that he had sprung up among fame,-his disappearance after this achievement themselves, and that their order had, at length, from the scene of his triumph, without deigning even produced a man of genius, by whom the arrears of to wait for the laurels which he had earned, and his contribution, long due from them to the treasury departure on a far pilgrimage, whose limits he left to of English literature, would be at once fully and chance and fancy,—all these successive incidents had splendidly discharged. thrown an air of adventure round the character of Altogether, taking into consideration the various the young poet, which prepared his readers to meet points I have here enumerated, it may be asserted, half-way the impressions of his genius. Instead of that never did there exist before, and, it is most finding him, on a nearer view, fall short of their ima- probable, never will exist again, a combination of ginations, the new features of his disposition now such vast mental power and surpassing genius, with disclosed to them far outwent, in peculiarity and so many other of those advantages and attractions, interest, whatever they might have preconceived; by which the world is in general dazzled and captiwhile the curiosity and sympathy awakened by what vated. The effect was accordingly electric ;-his he suffered to transpire of his history were still more fame had not to wait for any of the ordinary gradaheightened by the mystery of his allusions to much tions, but seemed to spring up, like the palace of a that yet remained untold. The late losses by death fairy tale, in a night. As he himself briefly described which he had sustained, and mourned, it was mani- it in his Memoranda,_“I awoke one morning, and fest, so deeply, gave a reality to the notion formed of found myself famous.” The first edition of his work him by his admirers which seemed to authorise them was disposed of instantly ; and, as the echoes of its in imagining still more; and what has been said of reputation multiplied on all sides, “ Childe Harold” the poet Young, that he found out the art of “ mak- and “ Lord Byron” became the theme of every ing the public a party to his private sorrows,” may tongue. At his door, most of the leading names of be, with infinitely more force and truth, applied to the day presented themselves,—some of them per
sons whom he had much wronged in his Satire, but On that circle of society with whom he came im- who now forgot their resentment in generous admimediately in contact, these personal influences acted ration. From morning till night the most flattering with increased force, from being assisted by others, testimonies of his success crowded his table,—from which, to female imaginations especially, would have
grave tributes of the statesman and the philosopresented a sufficiency of attraction, even without pher down to (what flattered him still more) the rothe great qualities joined with them. His youth, mantic billet of some incognita, or the pressing note the noble beauty of his countenance, and its constant
of invitation from some fair leader of fashion; and, play of lights and shadows,--the gentleness of his in place of the desert which London had been to voice and manner to women, and his occasional him but a few weeks before, he now not only saw haughtiness to men,—the alleged singularities of his the whole splendid interior of High Life thrown mode of life, which kept curiosity alive and inquisi-open to receive him, but found himself, among its tive,—all these lesser traits and habitudes concurred illustrious crowds, the most distinguished object. towards the quick spread of his fame; nor can it be The copyright of the Poem, which was purchased denied that, among many purer sources of interest in by Mr Murray for £600, he presented, in the most
his Poem, the allusions which he makes to instances delicate and unostentatious manner, to Mr Dallas,* of “ successful passion” in his career * were not saying, at the same time, that he “ never would rewithout their influence on the fancies of that sex, ceive money for his writings ;”—a resolution, the whose weakness it is to be most easily won by those mixed result of generosity and pride, which he afterwho come recommended by the greatest number of wards wisely abandoned, though borne out by the triumphs over others.
example of Swiftt and Voltaire, the latter of whom That his rank was also to be numbered among gave away most of his copyrights to Prault and these extrinsic advantages appears to have been, other booksellers, and received books, not money, partly, perhaps, from a feeling of modesty at the for those he disposed of otherwise. To his young time,-his own persuasion. " I may place a great friend, Mr Harness, it had been his intention, at deal of it,” said he to Mr Dallas, “ to my being a first, to dedicate the work, but, on further considelord.” It might be supposed that it is only on a ration, he relinquished his design ; and in a letter to rank inferior to his own such a charm could operate; that gentleman (which, with some others, is unforbut this very speech is, in itself, a proof, that in no tunately lost) alleged, as his reason for this change, class whatever is the advantage of being noble more
the prejudice which, he foresaw, some parts of the felt and appreciated than among nobles themselves. poem would raise against himself
, and his fear lest,
by any possibility, a share of the odium might so * Little knew she, that seeming marble heart, Now mask'd in silence, or withheld by pride,
* « After speaking to him of the sale, and settling the Was not unskilful in the spoiler's art,
new edition, I said, 'How can I possibly think of this rapid And spread its snares licentious far and wide.
sale, and the profits likely to ensue, without recollectingChilde Harold, Canto II.
• What ?'—' Think what sum your work may produce.' 'I We have here another instance of his propensity to self- shall be rejoiced, and wish it doubled and trebled; but do misrepresentation. However great might have been the not talk to me of money. I never will receive money for irregularities of his college life, such phrases as the “art of my writings.'»-Dallas's Recollections. the spoiler » and « spreading snares” were in nowise ap- # In a letter to Pulteney, 12th May, 1735, Swift says, “I
never got a farthing for any thing I writ, except once.”
plicable to them,
far extend itself to his friend, as to injure bim in the done by a man of honour towards conciliation ;-if profession to which he was about to devote himself. not, he must satisfy Colonel G. in the manner most
Not long after the publication of Childe Harold, conducive to his farther wishes." the noble author paid me a visit, one morning, and, putting a letter into my hands, which he had just In the morning I received the letter, in its new received, requested that I would undertake to form, from Mr Leckie, with the annexed note. manage for him whatever proceedings it might render necessary. This letter, I found, had been delivered
MY DEAR SIR, to him by Mr Leckie (a gentleman well known by a work on Sicilian affairs), and came from a once ac
“ I found my friend very ill in bed; he has, howtive and popular member of the fashionable world, tions proposed. Perhaps you may wish to see me in
ever, managed to copy the inclosed, with the alteraColonel Greville,- its purport being to require of his lordship, as author of “English Bards, &c. "
the morning; I shall therefore be glad to see you any such reparation as it was in his power to make for tiine till twelve o'clock. If you rather wish me to call the injury which, as Colonel Greville conceived, cer
on you, tell me, and I shall obey your summons.
“Yours, very truly, tain passages in that satire, reflecting upon his conduct, as manager of the Argyle Institution, were
“G. T. LECKIE.” calculated to inflict upon his character. In the appeal of the gallant colonel, there were some expres- With such facilities towards pacification, it is sions of rather an angry cast, which Lord Byron, almost needless to add that there was but little delay though fully conscious of the length to which he in settling the matter amicably. himself had gone, was but little inclined to brook, While upon this subject, I shall avail myself of the and, on my returning the letter into his hands, he opportunity which it affords of extracting an amusing said, “ To such a letter as that there can be but one account given by Lord Byron himself of some affairs sort of answer.” He agreed, however, to trust the of this description, in which he was, at different times, matter entirely to my discretion, and I had, shortly employed as mediator. after, an interview with the friend of Colonel “I have been called in as mediator, or second, at Greville. By this gentleman, who was then an least twenty times, in violent quarrels, and have utter stranger to me, I was received with much always contrived to settle the business without comcourtesy, and with every disposition to bring the promising the honour of the parties, or leading them affair intrusted to us to an amicable issue. On my to mortal consequences, and this too sometimes in premising that the tone of his friend's letter stood in very difficult and delicate circumstances, and having the way of negotiation, and that some obnoxious ex- to deal with very hot and haughty spirits,–Irishmen, pressions which it contained must be removed before gamesters, guardsmen, captains, and cornets of horse, I could proceed a single step towards explanation, he and the like. This was, of course, in my youth, when most readily consented to remove this obstacle. At I lived in hot-headed company. I have had to carry his request I drew a pen across the parts I con-challenges from gentlemen to noblemen, from capsidered objectionable, and he undertook to send mo tains to captains, from lawyers to counsellors, and the letter, re-written, next morning. In the mean once from a clergyman to an officer in the life-guards; time I received from Lord Byron the following paper but I found the latter by far the most difficult, for my guidance. “ With regard to the passage on Mr Way's loss,
The bloody duel without blows, no unfair play was hinted at, as may be seen by referring to the book; and it is expressly added that the business being about a woman: I must add too, the managers were ignorant of that transaction. As that I never saw a woman behave so ill, like a coldto the prevalence of play at the Argyle, it cannot be blooded, heartless b— as she was,-but very hand. denied that there were billiards and dice ;-Lord B. some, for all that. A certain Susan C** was she has been a witness to the use of both at the Argyle called. I never saw her but once; and that was to Rooms. These, it is presumed, come under the de- induce her but to say two words (which in no degree nomination of play. If play be allowed, the Presi- compromised herself), and which would have had the dent of the Institution can hardly complain of being effect of saving a priest or a lieutenant of cavalry. termed the “ Arbiter of play,'-or what becomes of She would not say them, and neither N** or myself his authority ?
(the son of Sir E. N**, and a friend to one of the “Lord B. has no personal animosity to Colonel parties) could prevail upon her to say them, thongh Greville. A public institution, to which he himself both of us used to deal in some sort with womankind. was a subscriber, he considered himself to have a
At last I managed to quiet the combatants without right to notice publicly. Of that institution, Colonel her talisman, and, I believe, to her great disappoint. Greville was the avowed director; it is too late to ment: she was the damnedest b that I ever saw, enter into the discussion of its merits or demerits. and I have seen a great many. Though my clergyman
“ Lord B. must leave the discussion of the repa- was sure to lose either his life or his living, he was as ration for the real or supposed injury, to Colonel G.'s warlike as the Bishop of Beauvais, and would hardly friend and Mr Moore, the friend of Lord B.-begging be pacified; but then he was in love, and that is a them to recollect that, while they consider Co- martial passion.” lonel G.'s honour, Lord B. must also maintain his However disagreeable it was to find the conse
If the business can be settled amicably, quences of his Satire thus rising up against him in a Lord B. will do as much as can and ought to be hostile shape, he was far more embarrassed in those