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Title: English Lands Letters and Kings: The Later Georges to Victoria
Author: Mitchell, Donald Grant
Language: English
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THE LATER GEORGES TO VICTORIA***


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ENGLISH LANDS LETTERS AND KINGS

The Later Georges to Victoria


      *      *      *      *      *      *

ENGLISH LANDS LETTERS AND KINGS

_By Donald G. Mitchell_

  I. From Celt to Tudor
 II. From Elizabeth to Anne
III. Queen Anne and the Georges
 IV. The Later Georges to Victoria

_Each 1 vol., 12mo, cloth, gilt top, $1.50_

AMERICAN LANDS AND LETTERS

From the Mayflower to Rip Van Winkle

_1 vol., square 12mo, Illustrated, $2.50_

      *      *      *      *      *      *


ENGLISH LANDS LETTERS AND KINGS

The Later Georges to Victoria

by

DONALD G. MITCHELL

[Illustration]



New York
Charles Scribner’S Sons
MDCCCXCVII

Copyright, 1897, by
Charles Scribner’S Sons

Trow Directory
Printing and Bookbinding Company
New York



_FORECAST._


The printers ask if there is to be prefatory matter.

There shall be no excuses, nor any defensive explanations: and I shall
only give here such forecast of this little book as may serve as a
reminder, and appetizer, for the kindly acquaintances I meet once more;
and further serve as an illustrative _menu_, for the benefit of those
newer and more critical friends who browse tentatively at the tables of
the booksellers.

This volume--the fourth in its series of English Lands and Letters--opens
upon that always delightful country of hills and waters, which is known as
the Lake District of England;--where we found Wordsworth, stalking over
the fells--and where we now find the maker of those heavy poems of
_Thalaba_ and _Madoc_, and of the charming little biography of Nelson.
There, too, we find that strange creature, De Quincey, full of a tumult of
thoughts and language--out of which comes ever and anon some penetrating
utterance, whose barb of words fixes it in the mind, and makes it rankle.
Professor Wilson is his fellow, among the hills by Elleray--as strenuous,
and weightier with his great bulk of Scottish manhood; the _Isle of Palms_
is forgotten; but not “Christopher in his Shooting Jacket”--stained, and
bespattered with Highland libations.

A Londoner we encounter--Crabb Robinson, full of gossip and
conventionalities; and also that cautious, yet sometimes impassioned
Scottish bard who sang of _Hohenlinden_, and of _Gertrude of Wyoming_.
Next, we have asked readers to share our regalement, in wandering along
the Tweed banks, and in rekindling the memories of the verse, the home,
and the chivalric stories of the benign master of Abbotsford, for
whom--whatever newer literary fashions may now claim allegiance and
whatever historic _quid-nuncs_ may say in derogation--I think there are
great multitudes who will keep a warm place in their hearts and easily
pardon a kindred warmth in our words.

After Dryburgh, and its pall, we have in these pages found our way to
Edinboro’, and have sketched the beginners, and the beginnings of that
great northern quarterly, which so long dominated the realm of British
book-craft, and which rallied to its ranks such men as Jeffrey and the
witty Sydney Smith, and Mackintosh and the pervasive and petulant
Brougham--full of power and of pyrotechnics. These great names and their
quarterly organ call up comparison with that other, southern and
distinctive Quarterly of Albemarle Street, which was dressed for literary
battle by writers like Gifford, Croker, Southey, and Lockhart.

The Prince Regent puts in an appearance in startling waistcoats and
finery--vibrating between Windsor and London; so does the bluff
Sailor-King William IV. Next, Walter Savage Landor leads the drifting
paragraphs of our story--a great, strong man; master of classicism, and
master of language; now tender, and now virulent; never quite master of
himself.

Of Leigh Hunt, and of his graceful, light-weighted, gossipy literary
utterance, there is indulgent mention, with some delightful passages of
verse foregathered from his many books. Of Thomas Moore, too, there is
respectful and grateful--if not over-exultant--talk; yet in these swift
days there be few who are tempted to tarry long in the “rosy bowers by
Bendemeer.”

From Moore and the brilliant fopperies of “The First Gentleman of Europe,”
we slip to the disorderly, but pungent and vivid essays of Hazlitt--to the
orderly and stately historic labors of Hallam, closing up our chapter with
the gay company who used to frequent the brilliant salon of the Lady
Blessington--first in Seamore Place, and later at Gore House. There we
find Bulwer, Disraeli (in his flamboyant youth-time), the elegant Count
d’Orsay, and others of that train-band.

Following quickly upon these, we have asked our readers to fare with us
along the old and vivid memories of Newstead Abbey--to track the
master-poet of his time, through his early days of romance and
marriage--through his journeyings athwart Europe, from the orange groves
of Lisbon to the olives of Thessaly--from his friendship with Shelley, and
life at Meillerie with its loud joys and stains--through his wild revels
of Venice--his masterly verse-making--his quietudes of Ravenna (where the
Guiccioli shone)--through his passionate zeal for Greece, and his last
days at Missolonghi, with one brief glimpse of his final resting-place,
beside his passionate Gordon mother, under the grim, old tower of
Hucknall-Torkard. So long indeed do we dwell upon this Byronic episode, as
to make of it the virtual _pièce de résistance_ in the literary _menu_ of
these pages.

After the brusque and noisy King William there trails royally into view
that Sovereign Victoria, over whose blanched head--in these very June days
in which I write--the bells are all ringing a joyous Jubilee for her
sixtieth year of reign. But to our eye, and to these pages, she comes as a
girl in her teens--modest, yet resolute and calm; and among her advisers
we see the suave and courtly Melbourne; and among those who make
parliamentary battle, in the Queen’s young years, that famed historian
who has pictured the lives of her kinsfolk--William and Mary--in a way
which will make them familiar in the ages to come.

We have a glimpse, too, of the jolly Captain Marryat cracking his
for’castle jokes, and of the somewhat tedious, though kindly, G. P. R.
James, lifting his chivalric notes about men-at-arms and knightly
adventures--a belated hunter in the fields of ancient feudal gramarye.

And with this pennant of the old times of tourney flung to the sharp winds
of these days, and shivering in the rude blasts--where anarchic threats
lurk and murmur--we close our preface, and bid our readers all welcome to
the spread of--what our old friend Dugald Dalgetty would call--the
_Vivers_.

                                                                 D. G. M.

EDGEWOOD, June 24, 1897.



_CONTENTS._


                                                    PAGE

                      CHAPTER I.

    THE LAKE COUNTRY,                                  2

    ROBERT SOUTHEY,                                    5

    HIS EARLY LIFE,                                   11

    GRETA HALL,                                       15

    THE DOCTOR AND LAST SHADOWS,                      20

    CRABB ROBINSON,                                   24

    THOMAS DE QUINCEY,                                28

    MARRIAGE AND OTHER FLIGHTS,                       34

                      CHAPTER II.

    CHRISTOPHER NORTH,                                40

    WILSON IN SCOTLAND,                               45

    THOMAS CAMPBELL,                                  52

    A MINSTREL OF THE BORDER,                         59

    THE WAVERLEY DISPENSATION,                        65

    GLINTS OF ROYALTY,                                77

                     CHAPTER III.

    A START IN LIFE,                                  83

    HENRY BROUGHAM,                                   87

    FRANCIS JEFFREY,                                  92

    SYDNEY SMITH,                                     96

    A HIGHLANDER,                                    103

    REST AT CANNES,                                  107

                      CHAPTER IV.

    GIFFORD AND HIS QUARTERLY,                       113

    A PRINCE REGENT,                                 118

    A SCHOLAR AND POET,                              125

    LANDOR IN ITALY,                                 132

    LANDOR’S DOMESTICITIES,                          136

    FINAL EXILE AND DEATH,                           138

    PROSE OF LEIGH HUNT,                             142

    HUNT’S VERSE,                                    147

    AN IRISH POET,                                   152

    LALLA ROOKH,                                     157

                      CHAPTER V.

    THE “FIRST GENTLEMAN,”                           165

    HAZLITT AND HALLAM,                              168

    QUEEN OF A SALON,                                173

    YOUNG BULWER AND DISRAELI,                       178

    THE POET OF NEWSTEAD,                            187

    EARLY VERSE AND MARRIAGE,                        193

                      CHAPTER VI.

    LORD BYRON A HUSBAND,                            201

    A STAY IN LONDON,                                206

    EXILE,                                           212

    SHELLEY AND GODWIN,                              216

    BYRON IN ITALY,                                  223

    SHELLEY AGAIN,                                   225

    JOHN KEATS,                                      229

    BURIED IN ROME,                                  233

    PISA AND DON JUAN,                               237

    MISSOLONGHI,                                     241

                     CHAPTER VII.

    KING WILLIAM’S TIME,                             252

    HER MAJESTY VICTORIA,                            255

    MACAULAY,                                        259

    IN POLITICS AND VERSE,                           265

    PARLIAMENTARIAN AND HISTORIAN,                   270

    SOME TORY CRITICS,                               277

    TWO GONE-BY STORY TELLERS,                       281



_ENGLISH LANDS, LETTERS, & KINGS._



CHAPTER I.


The reader will, perhaps, remember that we brought our last year’s ramble
amongst British Lands and Letters to an end--in the charming Lake District
of England. There, we found Coleridge, before he was yet besotted by his
opium-hunger; there, too, we had Church-interview with the stately,
silver-haired poet of Rydal Mount--making ready for his last Excursion
into the deepest of Nature’s mysteries.

The reader will recall, further, how this poet and seer, signalized some
of the later years of his life by indignant protests against the
schemes--which were then afoot--for pushing railways among the rural
serenities of Westmoreland.


_The Lake Country._

It is no wonder; for those Lake counties are very beautiful,--as if, some
day, all the tamer features of English landscape had been sifted out, and
the residue of picturesqueness and salient objects of flood and mountain
had been bunched together in those twin regions of the Derwent and of
Windermere. Every American traveller is familiar, of course, with the
charming glimpses of Lake Saltonstall from the Shore-line high-road
between New York and Boston; let them imagine these multiplied by a score,
at frequently recurring intervals of walk or drive; not bald duplications;
for sometimes the waters have longer stretch, and the hills have higher
reach, and fields have richer culture and more abounding verdure;
moreover, occasional gray church towers lift above the trees, and specks
of villages whiten spots in the valleys; and the smoothest and hardest of
roads run along the margin of the lakes; and masses of ivy cover walls,
and go rioting all over the fronts of wayside inns. Then, mountains as
high as Graylock, in Berkshire, pile suddenly out of the quieter
undulations of surface, with high-lying ponds in their gulches; there are
deep swales of heather, and bald rocks, and gray stone cairns that mark
the site of ancient Cumbrian battles.

No wonder that a man loving nature and loving solitude, as Wordsworth did
love them, should have demurred to the project of railways, and have
shuddered--as does Ruskin now--at the whistling of the demon of
civilization among those hills. But it has come there, notwithstanding,
and come to stay; and from the station beyond Bowness, upon the
charmingest bit of Windermere, there lies now only an early morning’s walk
to the old home of Wordsworth at Rydal. Immediately thereabout, it is
true, the levels are a little more puzzling to the engineers, so that the
thirteen miles of charming country road which stretch thence--twirling
hither and yon, and up and down--in a northwesterly direction to the town
of Keswick and the Derwent valley, remain now in very much the same
condition as when I walked over them, in leisurely way, fifty odd years
ago this coming spring. The road in passing out from Rydal village goes
near the cottage where poor Hartley Coleridge lived, and earlier, that
strange creature De Quincey (of whom we shall have presently more to say);
it skirts the very margin of Grasmere Lake; this latter being at your
left, while upon the right you can almost see among the near hills the
famous “Wishing Gate;” farther on is Grasmere village, and Grasmere
church-yard--in a corner of which is the grave of the old poet, and a
modest stone at its head on which is graven only the name, William
Wordsworth,--as if anything more were needed! A mile or two beyond, one
passes the “Swan Inn,” and would like to lodge there, and maybe clamber up
Helvellyn, which here shows its great hulk on the right--no miniature
mountain, but one which would hold its own (3,000 feet) among the lesser
ones which shoulder up the horizon at “Crawford’s,” in the White
Mountains.

Twirling and winding along the flank of Helvellyn, the road comes
presently upon the long Dunmail Rise, where a Cumbrian battle was fought,
and where, some six hundred feet above the level of Rydal water, one
plunges into mountain savagery. All the while Helvellyn is rising like a
giant on the right, and on the left is the lake of Thirlmere, with its
shores of precipice. An hour more of easy walking brings one to another
crest of hill from which the slope is northward and westward, and from
this point you catch sight of the great mass of Skiddaw; while a little
hitherward is the white speckle of Keswick town; and stretching away from
it to your left lies all the valley of Derwent Water--with a cleft in the
hills at its head, down which the brooklet of Lodore comes--“splashing and
flashing.”


_Robert Southey._

I have taken the reader upon this stroll through a bit of the Lake country
of England that we might find the poet Dr. Southey[1] in his old home at
Keswick. It is not properly in the town, but just across the Greta River,
which runs southward of the town. There, the modest but good-sized house
has been standing for these many years upon a grassy knoll, in its little
patch of quiet lawn, with scattered show of trees--but never so many as to
forbid full view up the long stretch of Derwent Water. His own hexameters
shall tell us something of this view:

          “I stood at the window beholding
    Mountain and lake and vale; the valley disrobed of its verdure;
    Derwent, retaining yet from eve a glassy reflection
    Where his expanded breast, then still and smooth as a mirror,
    Under the woods reposed; the hills that calm and majestic
    Lifted their heads into the silent sky, from far Glaramara,
    Bleacrag, and Maidenmawr to Grisedal and westernmost Wython,
    Dark and distinct they rose. The clouds had gathered above them
    High in the middle air, huge purple pillowy masses,
    While in the West beyond was the last pale tint of the twilight,
    Green as the stream in the glen, whose pure and chrysolite waters
    Flow o’er a schistous bed.”

This may be very true picturing; but it has not the abounding flow of an
absorbing rural enthusiasm; there is too sharp a search in it for the
assonance, the spondees and the alliteration--to say nothing of the
mineralogy. Indeed, though Southey loved those country ways and heights,
of which I have given you a glimpse, and loved his daily walks round about
Keswick and the Derwent, and loved the bracing air of the mountains--I
think he loved these things as the feeders and comforters of his physical
rather than of his spiritual nature. We rarely happen, in his verse, upon
such transcripts of out-of-door scenes as are inthralling, and captivate
our finer senses; nor does he make the boughs and blossoms tell such
stories as filtered through the wood-craft of Chaucer.

Notwithstanding this, it is to that home of Southey, in the beautiful Lake
country, that we must go for our most satisfying knowledge of the man. He
was so wedded to it; he so loved the murmur of the Greta; so loved his
walks; so loved the country freedom; so loved his workaday clothes and cap
and his old shoes;[2] so loved his books--double-deep in his library, and
running over into hall and parlor and corridors; loved, too, the
children’s voices that were around him there--not his own only, but those
always next, and almost his own--those of the young Coleridges. These were
stranded there, with their mother (sister of Mrs. Southey), owing to the
rueful neglect of their father--the bard and metaphysician. I do not think
this neglect was due wholly to indifference. Coleridge sidled away from
his wife and left her at Keswick in that old home of his own,--where he
knew care was good--afraid to encounter her clear, honest,
discerning--though unsympathetic--eyes, while he was putting all resources
and all subterfuges to the feeding of that opiate craze which had fastened
its wolfish fangs upon his very soul.

And Southey had most tender and beautiful care for those half-discarded
children of the “Ancient Mariner.” He writes in this playful vein to young
Hartley (then aged eleven), who is away on a short visit:

    “Mr. Jackson has bought a cow, but he has had no calf since you left
    him. Edith [his own daughter] grows like a young giantess, and has
    a disposition to bite her arm, which you know is a very foolish
    trick. Your [puppy] friend Dapper, who is, I believe, your God-dog,
    is in good health, though he grows every summer graver than the
    last. I am desired to send you as much love as can be enclosed in a
    letter. I hope it will not be charged double on that account at the
    post-office. But there is Mrs. Wilson’s love, Mr. Jackson’s, your
    Aunt Southey’s, your Aunt Lovell’s and Edith’s; with a _purr_ from
    Bona Marietta [the cat], an open-mouthed kiss from Herbert [the
    baby], and three wags of the tail from Dapper. I trust they will all
    arrive safe. Yr. dutiful uncle.”

And the same playful humor, and disposition to evoke open-eyed wonderment,
runs up and down the lines of that old story of Bishop Hatto and the rats;
and that other smart slap at the barbarities of war--which young people
know, or ought to know, as the “Battle of Blenheim”--wherein old Kaspar
says,--

                “it was a shocking sight
      After the field was won;
    For many thousand bodies here
      Lay rotting in the sun.
    But things like that, you know, must be,
    After a famous Victory.

    Great praise the Duke of Marlboro’ won
      And our good Prince Eugene;
    ‘Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!’
      Said little Wilhelmine.
    ‘Nay--nay--my little girl,’ quoth he,
    ‘It was a famous Victory.’”

Almost everybody has encountered these Southeyan verses, and that other,
about Mary the “Maid of the Inn,” in some one or other of the many
“collections” of drifting poetry. There are very few, too, who have not,
some day, read that most engaging little biography of Admiral Nelson,
which tells, in most straightforward and simple and natural way, the
romantic story of a life full of heroism, and scored with stains. I do not
know, but--with most people--a surer and more lasting memory of Southey
would be cherished by reason of those unpretending writings already named,
and by knowledge of his quiet, orderly, idyllic home-life among the Lakes
of Cumberland--tenderly and wisely provident of the mixed household
committed to his care--than by the more ambitious things he did, or by the
louder life he lived in the controversialism and politics of the day.


_His Early Life._

To judge him more nearly we must give a slight trace of his history. Born
down in Bristol (in whose neighborhood we found, you will remember,
Chatterton, Mistress More, Coleridge, and others)--he was the son of a
broken down linen-draper, who could help him little; but a great aunt--a
starched woman of the Betsey Trotwood stamp--could and did befriend him,
until it came to her knowledge, on a sudden, that he was plotting
emigration to the Susquehanna, and plotting marriage with a dowerless girl
of Bristol; then she dropped him, and the guardian aunt appears nevermore.

An uncle, however, who is a chaplain in the British service, helps him to
Oxford--would have had him take orders--in which case we should have had,
of a certainty, some day, Bishop Southey; and probably a very good one.
But he has some scruples about the Creed, being over-weighted, perhaps, by
intercourse with young Coleridge on the side of Unitarianism: “Every atom
of grass,” he says, “is worth all the Fathers.”[3] He, however,
accompanies the uncle to Portugal; dreams dreams and has poetic visions
there in the orange-groves of Cintra; projects, too, a History of
Portugal--which project unfortunately never comes to fulfilment. He falls
in with the United States Minister, General Humphreys, who brings to his
notice Dwight’s “Conquest of Canaan,” which Southey is good enough to
think “has some merit.”

Thereafter he comes back to his young wife; is much in London and
thereabout; coming to know Charles Lamb, Rogers, and Moore, with other
such. He is described at that day as tall--a most presentable man--with
dark hair and eyes, wonderful arched brows; “head of a poet,” Byron said;
looking up and off, with proud foretaste of the victories he will win; he
has, too, very early, made bold literary thrust at that old story of Joan
of Arc: a good topic, of large human interest, but not over successfully
dealt with by him. After this came that extraordinary poem of _Thalaba_,
the first of a triad of poems which excited great literary wonderment (the
others being the _Curse of Kehama_ and _Madoc_). They are rarely heard of
now and scarcely known. Beyond that fragment from _Kehama_, beginning

    “They sin who tell us Love can die,”

hardly a page from either has drifted from the high sea of letters into
those sheltered bays where the makers of anthologies ply their trade. Yet
no weak man could have written either one of these almost forgotten poems
of Southey; recondite learning makes its pulse felt in them; bright
fancies blaze almost blindingly here and there; old myths of Arabia and
Welsh fables are galvanized and brought to life, and set off with special
knowledge and cumbrous aids of stilted and redundant prosody; but all is
utterly remote from human sympathies, and all as cold--however it may
attract by its glitter--as the dead hand

    “Shrivelled, and dry, and black,”

which holds the magic taper in the Dom Daniel cavern of _Thalaba_.

A fourth long poem--written much later in life--_Roderick the Goth_, has a
more substantial basis of human story, and so makes larger appeal to
popular interest; but it had never a marked success.

Meantime, Southey has not kept closely by London; there have been
peregrinations, and huntings for a home--for children and books must have
a settlement. Through friends of influence he had come to a fairly good
political appointment in Ireland, but has no love for the bulls and
blunderbusses which adorn life there; nor will he tutor his patron’s
boys--which also comes into the scale of his duties--so gives up that
chance of a livelihood. There is, too, a new trip to Portugal with his
wife; and a new reverent and dreamy listening to the rustle of the shining
leaves of the orange-trees of Cintra. I do not think those murmurous tales
of the trees of Portugal, burdened with old monastic flavors, ever went
out of his ears wholly till he died. But finally the poet does come to
settlement, somewhere about 1803--in that Keswick home, where we found him
at the opening of our chapter.


_Greta Hall._

Coleridge is for awhile a fellow-tenant with him there, then blunders away
to Grasmere--to London, to Highgate, and into that over-strained,
disorderly life of which we know so much and yet not enough. But Southey
does not lack self-possession, or lack poise: he has not indeed so much
brain to keep on balance; but he thinks excellently well of his own parts;
he is disgusted when people look up to him after his Irish
appointment--“as if,” he said, “the author of _Joan of Arc_, and of
_Thalaba_, were made a great man by scribing for the Chancellor of the
Exchequer.”

Yet for that poem of _Thalaba_, in a twelve-month after issue, he had only
received as his share of profits a matter of £3 15s. Indeed, Southey would
have fared hardly money-wise in those times, if he had not won the favor
of a great many good and highly placed friends; and it was only four years
after his establishment at Keswick, when these friends succeeded in
securing to him an annual Government pension of £200. Landor had possibly
aided him before this time; he certainly had admired greatly his poems and
given praise that would have been worth more, if he had not spoiled it by
rating Southey as a poet so much above Byron, Scott, and Coleridge.[4]

In addition to these aids the _Quarterly Review_ was set afoot in those
days in London--of which sturdy defender of Church and State, Southey soon
became a virtual pensioner. Moreover, with his tastes, small moneys went a
long way; he was methodical to the last degree; he loved his old coats and
habits; he loved his marches and countermarches among the hills that
flank Skiddaw better than he loved horses, or dogs, or guns; a quiet
evening in his library with his books, was always more relished than ever
so good a place at Drury Lane. New friends and old brighten that
retirement for him. He has his vacation runs to Edinboro’--to London--to
Bristol; the children are growing (though there is death of one little
one--away from home); the books are piling up in his halls in bigger and
always broader ranks. He writes of Brazil, of Spanish matters, of new
poetry, of Nelson, of Society--showing touches of his early radicalism,
and of a Utopian humor, which age and the heavy harness of conventionalism
he has learned to wear, do not wholly destroy. He writes of Wesley and of
the Church--settled in those maturer years into a comfortable
routine-ordered Churchism, which does not let too airy a conscience prick
him into unrest. A good, safe monarchist, too, who comes presently, and
rightly enough--through a suggestion of George IV., then Regent in place
of crazy George III.[5]--by his position as Poet Laureate; and in that
capacity writes a few dismally stiff odes, which are his worst work. Even
Wordsworth, who walks over those Cumberland hills with reverence, and with
a pious fondness traces the “star-shaped shadows on the naked
stones”--cannot warm to Southey’s new gush over royalty in his New Year’s
Odes. Coleridge chafes; and Landor, we may be sure, sniffs, and swears,
with a great roar of voice, at what looks so like to sycophancy.

To this time belongs that ode whose vengeful lines, after the fall of
Napoleon, whip round the Emperor’s misdeeds in a fury of Tory Anglicanism,
and call on France to avenge her wrongs:--

        “By the lives which he hath shed,
        By the ruin he hath spread,
    By the prayers which rise for curses on his head--
        Redeem, O France, thine ancient fame!
        Revenge thy sufferings and thy shame!
    Open thine eyes! Too long hast thou been blind!
    Take vengeance for thyself and for mankind!”

This seems to me only the outcry of a tempestuous British scold; and yet a
late eulogist has the effrontery to name it in connection with the great
prayerful burst of Milton upon the massacre of the Waldenses:--

    “Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints whose bones
    Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold.”

No, no; Southey was no Milton--does not reach to the height of an echo of
Milton.

Yet he was a rare and accomplished man of books--of books rather than
genius, I think. An excellent type of the very clever and well-trained
professional writer, working honestly and steadily in the service to which
he has put himself. Very politic, too, in his personal relations. Even
Carlyle--for a wonder--speaks of him without lacerating him.

In a certain sense he was not insincere; yet he had none of that
out-spoken exuberant sincerity which breaks forth in declaratory speech,
before the public time-pieces have told us how to pitch our voices.
Landor had this: so had Coleridge. Southey never would have run away from
his wife--never; he might dislike her; but Society’s great harness (if
nothing more) would hold him in check; there were conditions under which
Coleridge might and did. Southey would never over-drink or over-tipple;
there were conditions (not rare) under which Coleridge might and did. Yet,
for all this, I can imagine a something finer in the poet of the _Ancient
Mariner_--that felt moral chafings far more cruelly; and for real poetic
unction you might put _Thalaba_, and _Kehama_, and _Madoc_ all in one
scale, and only _Christabel_ in the other--and the Southey poems would be
bounced out of sight. But how many poets of the century can put a touch to
verse like the touch in _Christabel_?


_The Doctor and Last Shadows._

I cannot forbear allusion to that curious book--little read now--which was
published by Southey anonymously, called _The Doctor_:[6] a book showing
vast accumulation of out-of-the-way bits of learning--full of quips, and
conceits, and oddities; there are traces of Sterne in it and of Rabelais;
but there is little trenchant humor of its own. It is a literary jungle;
and all its wit sparkles like marsh fire-flies that lead no whither. You
may wonder at its erudition; wonder at its spurts of meditative wisdom;
wonder at its touches of scholastic cleverness, and its want of any
effective coherence, but you wonder more at its waste of power. Yet he had
great pride in this book; believed it would be read admiringly long after
him; enjoyed vastly a boyish dalliance--if not a lying by-play--with the
secret of its authorship; but he was, I think, greatly aggrieved by its
want of the brilliant success he had hoped for.

But sorrows of a more grievous sort were dawning on him. On the very year
before the publication of the first volumes of _The Doctor_, he writes to
his old friend, Bedford: “I have been parted from my wife by something
worse than death. Forty years she has been the life of my life; and I have
left her this day in a lunatic asylum.”

But she comes back within a year--quiet, but all beclouded; looking
vacantly upon the faces of the household, saddened, and much thinned now.
For the oldest boy Herbert is dead years since; and the daughter, Isabel,
“the most radiant creature (he says) that I ever beheld, or shall
behold”--dead too; his favorite niece, Sara Coleridge, married and gone;
his daughter Edith, married and gone; and now that other Edith--his
wife--looking with an idle stare around the almost empty house. It was at
this juncture, when all but courage seemed taken from him, that Sir Robert
Peel wrote, offering the poet a Baronetcy; but he was beyond taking heart
from any such toy as this. He must have felt a grim complacency--now that
his hair was white and his shoulders bowed by weight of years and toil,
and his home so nearly desolate--in refusing the empty bauble which
Royalty offered, and in staying--plain Robert Southey.

Presently thereafter his wife died; and he, whose life had been such a
domestic one, strayed round the house purposeless, like a wheel spinning
blindly--off from its axle. Friends, however, took him away with them to
Paris; among these friends--that always buoyant and companionable Crabb
Robinson, whose diary is so rich in reminiscences of the literary men of
these times. Southey’s son Cuthbert went with him, and the poet made a
good mock of enjoying the new scenes; plotted great work again--did labor
heartily on his return, and two years thereafter committed the
indiscretion of marrying again: the loneliness at Keswick was so great.
The new mistress he had long known and esteemed; and she (Miss Caroline
Bowles) was an excellent, kindly, judicious woman--although a poetess.

But it was never a festive house again. All the high lights in that home
picture which was set between Skiddaw and the Derwent-water were blurred.
Wordsworth, striding across the hills by Dunmail Rise, on one of his rare
visits, reports that Southey is all distraught; can talk of nothing but
his books; and presently--counting only by months--it appears that he will
not even talk of these--will talk of nothing. His handwriting, which had
been neat--of which he had been proud--went all awry in a great scrawl
obliquely athwart the page. For a year or two he is in this lost trail;
mumbling, but not talking; seeing things--yet as one who sees not;
clinging to those loved books of his--fondling them; passing up and down
the library to find this or the other volume that had been carefully
cherished--taking them from their shelves; putting his lips to them--then
replacing them;--a year or more of this automatic life--the light in him
all quenched.

He died in 1843, and was buried in the pretty church-yard of Crosthwaite,
a short mile away from his old home. Within the church is a beautiful
recumbent figure of the poet, which every traveller should see.


_Crabb Robinson._

I had occasion to name Crabb Robinson[7] as one of the party accompanying
Southey on his last visit to the Continent. Robinson was a man whom it is
well to know something of, by reason of his Boswellian _Reminiscences_,
and because--though of comparatively humble origin--he grew to be an
excellent type of the well-bred, well-read club-man of his day--knowing
everybody who was worth knowing, from Mrs. Siddons to Walter Scott, and
talking about everybody who was worth talking of, from Louis Phillippe to
Mrs. Barbauld.

He was quick, of keen perception--always making the most of his
opportunities; had fair schooling; gets launched somehow upon an
attorney’s career, to which he never took with great enthusiasm. He was an
apt French scholar--passed four or five years, too, studying in Germany;
his assurance and intelligence, aptitude, and good-nature bringing him to
know almost everybody of consequence. He is familiar with Madame de
Staël--hob-nobs with many of the great German writers of the early part of
this century--is for a time correspondent of the _Times_ from the Baltic
and Stockholm; and from Spain also, in the days when Bonaparte is raging
over the Continent. He returns to London, revives old acquaintances, and
makes new ones; knows Landor and Dyer and Campbell; is hail fellow--as
would seem--with Wordsworth, Southey, Moore, and Lady Blessington; falls
into some helpful legacies; keeps lazily by his legal practice; husbands
his resources, but never marries; pounces upon every new lion of the day;
hears Coleridge lecture; hears Hazlitt lecture; hears Erskine plead, and
goes to play whist and drink punch with the Lambs. He was full of
anecdote, and could talk by the hour. Rogers once said to his guests who
were prompt at breakfast: “If you’ve anything to say, you’d better say it;
Crabb Robinson is coming.” He talked on all subjects with average
acuteness, and more than average command of language, and little graceful
subtleties of social speech--but with no special or penetrative analysis
of his subject-matter. The very type of a current, popular, well-received
man of the town--good at cards--good at a club dinner--good at
supper--good in travel--good for a picnic--good for a lady’s tea-fight.

He must have written reams on reams of letters. The big books of his
_Diary and Reminiscences_[8] which I commend to you for their amusing and
most entertaining gossip, contained only a most inconsiderable part of his
written leavings.

He took admirable care of himself; did not permit exposure to draughts--to
indigestions, or to bad company of any sort. Withal he was charitable--was
particular and fastidious; always knew the best rulings of society about
ceremony, and always obeyed; never wore a dress-coat counter to good form.
He was an excellent listener--especially to people of title; was a
judicious flatterer--a good friend and a good fellow; dining out five days
in the week, and living thus till ninety: and if he had lived till now, I
think he would have died--dining out.

Mr. Robinson was not very strong in literary criticism. I quote a bit from
his _Diary_, that will show, perhaps as well as any, his method and range.
It is dated _June 6, 1812_:

    “Sent _Peter Bell_ to Chas. Lamb. To my surprise, he does not like
    it. He complains of the slowness of the narrative--as if that were
    not the _art_ of the poet. He says Wordsworth has great thoughts,
    but has left them out here. [And then continues in his own person.]
    In the perplexity arising from the diverse judgments of those to
    whom I am accustomed to look up, I have no resource but in the
    determination to disregard all opinions, and trust to the simple
    impression made on my own mind. When Lady Mackintosh was once
    stating to Coleridge her disregard of the beauties of nature, which
    men commonly affect to admire, he said his friend Wordsworth had
    described her feeling, and quoted three lines from ‘_Peter Bell_:’

        ‘A primrose by a river brim
        ‘A yellow primrose was to him,
        ‘And it was nothing more.’

    “‘Yes,’ said Lady Mackintosh--‘that is precisely my case.’”


_Thomas De Quincey._

On the same page of that _Diary_--where I go to verify this quotation--is
this entry:

    “At four o’clock dined in the [Temple] Hall with De Quincey,[9] who
    was very civil to me, and cordially invited me to visit his cottage
    in Cumberland. Like myself, he is an enthusiast for Wordsworth. His
    person is small, his complexion fair, and his air and manner are
    those of a sickly and enfeebled man.”[10]

Some twenty-seven years before the date of this encounter, the sickly
looking man was born near to Manchester, his father being a well-to-do
merchant there--whose affairs took him often to Portugal and Madeira, and
whose invalidism kept him there so much that the son scarce knew
him;--remembers only how his father came home one day to his great country
house--pale, and propped up with pillows in the back of his carriage--came
to die. His mother, left with wealth enough for herself and children, was
of a stern Calvinistic sort; which fact gives a streak of unpleasant color
here and there to the son’s reminiscences. He is presently at odds with
her about the Bath school--where he is taught--she having moved into
Somersetshire, whereabout she knows Mistress Hannah More; the boy comes to
know this lady too, with much reverence. The son is at odds with his
mother again about Eton (where, though never a scholar, he has glimpses of
George III.--gets a little grunted talk even, from the old king)--and is
again at odds with the mother about the Manchester Grammar School: so much
at odds here, that he takes the bit fairly in his mouth, and runs away
with _Euripides_ in his pocket. Then he goes wandering in
Wales--gypsy-like--and from there strikes across country blindly to
London, where he becomes gypsy indeed. He bargains with Jews to advance
money on his expectations: and with this money for “sinker,” he sounds a
depth of sin and misery which we may guess at, by what we know, but which
in their fulness, even his galloping pen never told. Into some of those
depths his friends traced him, and patched up a truce, which landed him in
Oxford.

Quiet and studious here at first--he is represented as a rare talker, a
little given to wine--writing admiring letters to Wordsworth and others,
who were his gods in those days; falling somehow into taste for that drug
which for so many years held him in its grip, body and soul. The Oxford
career being finished after a sort, there are saunterings through London
streets again--evenings with the Lambs, with Godwin, and excursions to
Somersetshire and the Lake country, where he encounters and gives nearer
worship to the poetic gods of his idolatry. Always shy, but earnest; most
interesting to strangers--with his pale face, high brow and lightning
glances; talking too with a winning flow and an exuberance of epithet that
somewhiles amounts to brilliancy: no wonder he was tenderly entreated by
good Miss Wordsworth; no wonder the poet of the “Doe of Rylstone” enjoyed
the titillation of such fresh, bright praises!

So De Quincey at twenty-four became householder near to Grasmere--in the
cottage I spoke of in the opening of the chapter--once occupied by
Wordsworth, and later by Hartley Coleridge. There, on that pretty shelf of
the hills--scarce lifted above Rydal-water, he gathers his books--studies
the mountains--provokes the gossip of all the pretty Dalesmen’s
daughters--lives there a bachelor, eight years or more--ranging round and
round in bright autumnal days with the sturdy John Wilson (of the _Noctes
Ambrosianæ_)--cultivating intimacy with poor crazy Lloyd (who lived
nearby)--studying all anomalous characters with curious intensity, and
finding anomalies where others found none. Meantime and through all, his
sensibilities are kept wrought to fever heat by the opiate drinks--always
flanking him at his table; and he, so dreadfully wonted to those devilish
drafts, that--on some occasions--he actually consumes within the
twenty-four hours the equivalent of seven full wine-glasses of laudanum!
No wonder the quiet Dales-people looked dubiously at the light burning in
those cottage windows far into the gray of morning, and counted the
pale-faced, big-headed man for something uncanny.

In these days comes about that strange episode of his mad attachment to
the little elfin child--Catharine Wordsworth--of whom the poet-father
wrote:--

                              “Solitude to her
    Was blithe society, who filled the air
    With gladness and involuntary songs.
    Light were her sallies, as the tripping fawn’s,
    Forth startled from the form where she lay couched;
    Unthought of, unexpected, as the stir
    Of the soft breeze ruffling the meadow flowers.”

Yet De Quincey, arrogantly interpreting the deep-seated affections of that
father’s heart, says, “She was no favorite with Wordsworth;” but he
“himself was blindly, doatingly, fascinated” by this child of three. And
of her death, before she is four, when De Quincey is on a visit in London,
he says, with crazy exaggeration:

    “Never, perhaps, from the foundations of those mighty hills was
    there so fierce a convulsion of grief as mastered my faculties on
    receiving that heart-shattering news.… I had always viewed her as an
    impersonation of the dawn and the spirit of infancy.… I returned
    hastily to Grasmere; stretched myself every night, for more than two
    months running, upon her grave; in fact often passed the night upon
    her grave … in mere intensity of sick, frantic yearning after
    neighborhood to the darling of my heart.”[11]

This is a type of his ways of feeling, and of his living, and of his
speech--tending easily to all manner of extravagance: black and white are
too tame for his nerve-exaltation; if a friend looks sharply, “his eye
glares;” if disturbed, he has a “tumult of the brain;” if he doubles his
fist, his gestures are the wildest; and a well-built son and daughter of a
neighbor Dalesman are the images of “Coriolanus and Valeria.”


_Marriage and other Flights._

At thirty-one, or thereabout, De Quincey married the honest daughter of an
honest yeoman of the neighborhood. She was sensible (except her marriage
invalidate the term), was kindly, was long-suffering, and yet was very
human. I suspect the interior of that cottage was not always like the
islands of the blessed. Mr. Froude would perhaps have enjoyed lifting the
roof from such a house. Many children were born to that strangely coupled
pair,--some of them still living and most worthy.

It happens by and by to this impractical man, from whose disorderly and
always open hand inherited moneys have slipped away; it happens--I
say--that he must earn his bread by his own toil; so he projects great
works of philosophy, of political economy, which are to revolutionize
opinions; but they topple over into opium dreams before they are realized.
He tries editing a county paper, but it is nought. At last he utilizes
even his vices, and a chapter of the _Confessions of an Opium Eater_, in
the _London Magazine_, draws swift attention to one whose language is as
vivid as a flame; and he lays bare, without qualm, his own quivering
sensibilities. This spurt of work, or some new craze, takes him to London,
away from his family. And so on a sudden, that idyl of life among the
Lakes becomes for many years a tattered and blurred page to him. He is
once more a denizen of the great city, living a shy, hermit existence
there; long time in a dim back-room of the publisher Bohn’s, in Bedford
Street, near to Covent Garden. He sees Proctor and Hazlitt odd-whiles, and
Hood, and still more of the Lambs; but he is peevish and distant, and
finds largest company in the jug of laudanum which brings swift succeeding
dreams and stupefaction.

We will have a taste of some of his wild writing of those days. He is
speaking of a dream.

    “The dream commenced with a music of preparation and of awakening
    suspense; a music like the opening of the Coronation Anthem, and
    which, like that, gave the feeling of a vast march; of infinite
    cavalcades filing off, and the tread of innumerable armies. The
    morning was come of a mighty day, a day of crisis and of final hope
    for human nature, then suffering some mysterious eclipse, and
    laboring in some dread extremity. Somewhere, I knew not
    where--somehow, I knew not how--by some beings, I knew not whom--a
    battle, a strife, an agony was conducting, was evolving like a great
    drama or a piece of music.… I had the power, and yet had not the
    power to decide it … for the weight of twenty Atlantes was upon me
    as the oppression of inexpiable guilt. Deeper than ever plummet
    sounded, I lay inactive. Then, like a chorus, the passion deepened;
    there came sudden alarms, hurrying to and fro, trepidations of
    innumerable fugitives, I know not whether from the good cause or the
    bad; darkness and lights; tempest and human faces; and at last, with
    the sense that all was lost, female forms, and the features that
    were worth all the world to me, and but a moment allowed--and
    clasped hands and heart-breaking partings, and then everlasting
    farewells! and with a sigh such as the caves of hell sighed when the
    incestuous mother uttered the abhorred name of Death, the sound was
    reverberated--everlasting farewells! and again, and yet again
    reverberated--everlasting farewells!”

Some years later he drifts again to Grasmere, but only to pluck up root
and branch that home with wife and children,--so wonted now to the
pleasant sounds and sights of the Lake waters and the mountains--and to
transport them to Edinboro’, where, through Professor Wilson, he has
promise of work which had begun to fail him in London.

There,--though he has the introduction which a place at the tavern table
of Father Ambrose gives--he is a lonely man; pacing solitary, sometimes in
the shadow of the Castle Rock, sometimes in the shadow of the old houses
of the Canongate; always preoccupied, close-lipped, brooding, and never
without that wretched opium-comforter at his home. It was in _Blackwood_
(1827) he first published the well known essay on “Murder as a Fine
Art,”--perhaps the best known of all he wrote; there, too, he committed to
paper, in the stress of his necessities, those sketchy _Reminiscences_ of
his Lake life; loose, disjointed, ill-considered, often sent to press
without any revision and full of strange coined words. I note at random,
such as _novel-ish erector_ (for builder), _lambencies_, _apricating_,
_aculeated_; using words not rarely, etymologically, and for some
recondite sense attaching. Worse than this, there is dreary tittle-tattle
and a pulling away of decent domestic drapery from the lives of those he
had professed to love and honor; tedious expatiation, too, upon the
scandal-mongering of servant-maids, with illustrations by page on page;
and yet, for the matter of gossip, he is himself as fertile as a
seamstress or a monthly nurse, and as overflowing and brazen as any
newspaper you may name.

But here and there, even amid his dreariest pages, you see,
quivering--some gleams of his old strange power--a thrust of keen thought
that bewilders you by its penetration--a glowing fancy that translates one
to wondrous heights of poetic vision; and oftener yet, and over and over,
shows that mastery of the finesse of language by which he commands the
most attenuated reaches of his thought, and whips them into place with a
snap and a sting.

Yet, when all is said, I think we must count the best that he wrote only
amongst the curiosities of literature, rather than with the manna that
fell for fainting souls in the wilderness.

De Quincey died in Edinburgh, in 1859, aged seventy-four.



CHAPTER II.


In our last chapter we took a breezy morning walk amid the Lake scenery of
England--more particularly that portion of it which lies between the old
homes of Wordsworth and of Southey; we found it a thirteen-mile stretch of
road, coiling along narrow meadows and over gray heights--beside mountains
and mountain tarns--with Helvellyn lifting mid-way and Skiddaw towering at
the end. We had our talk of Dr. Southey--so brave at his work--so generous
in his home charities--so stiff in his Churchism and latter-day
Toryism--with a very keen eye for beauty; yet writing poems--stately and
masterful--which long ago went to the top-shelves, and stay there.

We had our rough and ready interviews with that first of “War
Correspondents”--Henry Crabb Robinson--who knew all the prominent men of
this epoch, and has given us such entertaining chit-chat about them, as we
all listen to, and straightway forget. Afterwards we had a look at that
strange, intellectual, disorderly creature De Quincey--he living a long
while in the Lake Country--and in his more inspired moments seeming to
carry us by his swift words, into that mystical region lying beyond the
borders of what we know and see. He swayed men; but he rarely taught them,
or fed them.


_Christopher North._

We still linger about those charmingest of country places; and by a wooden
gateway--adjoining the approach to Windermere Hotel--upon the “Elleray
woods,” amid which lived--eighty years ago--that stalwart friend of De
Quincey’s, whose acquaintance he made among the Lakes, and who, like
himself, was a devoted admirer of Wordsworth. Indeed, I think it was at
the home of the latter that De Quincey first encountered the tall, lusty
John Wilson--brimful of enthusiasm and all country ardors; brimful, too,
of gush, and all poetic undulations of speech. He[12] was a native of
Paisley--his father having been a rich manufacturer there--and had come to
spend his abundant enthusiasms and his equally abundant moneys between
Wordsworth and the mountains and Windermere. He has his fleet of yachts
and barges upon the lake; he knows every pool where any trout lurk--every
height that gives far-off views. He is a pugilist, a swimmer, an
oarsman--making the hills echo with his jollity, and dashing off through
the springy heather with that slight, seemingly frail De Quincey in his
wake--who only reaches to his shoulder, but who is all compact of nerve
and muscle. For Greek they are fairly mated, both by love and learning;
and they can and do chant together the choral songs of heathen tragedies.

This yellow-haired, blue-eyed giant, John Wilson--not so well-known now
as he was sixty years ago--we collegians greatly admired in that far-off
day. He had written the _Isle of Palms_, and was responsible for much of
the wit and dash and merriment which sparkled over the early pages of
_Blackwood’s Magazine_--in the chapters of the _Noctes Ambrosianæ_ and in
many a paper besides:--he had his first university training at Glasgow;
had a brief love-episode there also, which makes a prettily coy appearance
on the pleasant pages of the biography of Wilson which a daughter (Mrs.
Gordon) has compiled. After Glasgow came Oxford; and a characteristic bit
of his later writing, which I cite, will show you how Oxford impressed
him:--

    “Having bidden farewell to our sweet native Scotland, and kissed ere
    we parted, the grass and the flowers with a show of filial
    tears--having bidden farewell to all her glens, now a-glimmer in the
    blended light of imagination and memory, with their cairns and
    kirks, their low-chimneyed huts, and their high-turreted halls,
    their free-flowing rivers, and lochs dashing like seas--we were all
    at once buried not in the Cimmerian gloom, but the Cerulean glitter
    of Oxford’s Ancient Academic groves. The genius of the place fell
    upon us. Yes! we hear now, in the renewed delight of the awe of our
    youthful spirit, the pealing organ in that Chapel called the
    Beautiful; we see the Saints on the stained windows; at the Altar
    the picture of One up Calvary meekly ascending. It seemed then that
    our hearts had no need even of the kindness of kindred--of the
    country where we were born, and that had received the continued
    blessings of our enlarging love! Yet away went, even then,
    sometimes, our thoughts to Scotland, like carrier-pigeons wafting
    love messages beneath their unwearied wings.”[13]

We should count this, and justly, rather over-fine writing nowadays. Yet
it is throughout stamped with the peculiarities of Christopher North; he
cannot help his delightfully wanton play with language and sentiment; and
into whatever sea of topics he plunged--early or late in life--he always
came up glittering with the beads and sparkles of a highly charged
rhetoric. Close after Oxford comes that idyllic life[14] in Windermere to
which I have referred. Four or more years pass there; his trees grow
there; his new roads--hewn through the forests--wind there; he plots a new
house there; he climbs the mountains; he is busy with his boats. Somewhat
later he marries; he does not lose his old love for the poets of the Greek
anthology; he has children born to him; he breeds game fowls, and looks
after them as closely as a New England farmer’s wife after her poultry;
but with him poetry and poultry go together. There are old diaries of
his--into which his daughter gives us a peep--that show such entries as
this:--“The small Paisley hen set herself 6th of July, with no fewer than
nine eggs;” and again--“Red pullet in Josie’s barn was set with eight eggs
on Thursday;” and square against such memoranda, and in script as careful,
will appear some bit of verse like this:--

    “Oh, fairy child! what can I wish for thee?
    Like a perennial flowret may’st thou be,
    That spends its life in beauty and in bliss;
    Soft on thee fall the breath of time,
    And still retain in heavenly clime
    The bloom that charms in this.”

He wrote, too, while living there above Windermere, his poem of the _Isle
of Palms_; having a fair success in the early quarter of this century, but
which was quickly put out of sight and hearing by the brisker, martial
music of Scott, and by the later and more vigorous and resonant verse of
Byron.

Indeed, Wilson’s poetry was not such as we would have looked for from one
who was a “varra bad un to lick” at a wrestling bout, and who made the
splinters fly when his bludgeon went thwacking into a page of
controversial prose. His verse is tender; it is graceful; it is delicate;
it is full of languors too; and it is tiresome--a gentle girlish treble of
sound it has, that you can hardly associate with this brawny mass of
manhood.


_Wilson in Scotland._

But all that delightful life amidst the woods of Elleray--with its
game-cocks, and boats, and mountain rambles, and shouted chorus of
Prometheus--comes to a sharp end. The inherited fortune of the poet, by
some criminal carelessness or knavery of a relative, goes in a day; and
our fine stalwart wrestler must go to Edinboro’ to wrestle with the fates.
There he coquets for a time with law; but presently falls into pleasant
affiliation with old Mr. Blackwood (who was a remarkable man in his way)
in the conduct of his magazine. And then came the trumpet blasts of
mingled wit, bravado, and tenderness, which broke into those pages, and
which made young college men in England or Scotland or America, fling up
their hats for Christopher North. Not altogether a safe guide, I think, as
a rhetorician; too much bounce in him; too little self-restraint; too much
of glitter and iridescence; but, on the other hand--bating some
blackguardism--he is brimful of life and heartiness and merriment--lighted
up with scholarly hues of color.

There was associated with Wilson in those days, in work upon _Blackwood_,
a young man--whom we may possibly not have occasion to speak of again,
and yet who is worthy of mention. I mean J. G. Lockhart,[15] who
afterwards became son-in-law and the biographer of Walter Scott--a slight
young fellow in that day, very erect and prim; wearing his hat well
forward on his heavy brows, and so shading a face that was thin, clean
cut, handsome, and which had almost the darkness of a Spaniard’s. He put
his rapier-like thrusts into a good many papers which the two wrought at
together. All his life he loved literary digs with his stiletto--which was
very sharp--and when he left Edinboro’ to edit the _Quarterly Review_ in
London (as he did in after days) he took his stiletto with him. There are
scenes in that unevenly written Lockhart story of _Adam Blair_--hardly
known now--which for thrilling passion, blazing out of clear sufficiencies
of occasion, would compare well with kindred scenes of Scott’s own, and
which score deeper colorings of human woe and loves and remorse than
belong to most modern stories; not lighted, indeed, with humor; not
entertaining with anecdote; not embroidered with archæologic knowledge;
not rattling with coruscating social fireworks, but--subtle, psychologic,
touching the very marrow of our common manhood with a pen both sharp and
fine. We remember him, however, most gratefully as the charming biographer
of Scott, and as the accomplished translator of certain Spanish ballads
into which he has put--under flowing English verse--all the clashing of
Cordovan castanets, and all the jingle of the war stirrups of the Moors.

We return now to Professor Wilson and propose to tell you how he came by
that title. It was after only a few years of work in connection with
_Blackwood_ that the Chair of Moral Philosophy in Edinboro’
University--which had been held by Dugald Stewart, and later by Dr. Thomas
Brown--fell vacant; and at once the name of Wilson was pressed by his
friends for the position. It was not a little odd that a man best known by
two delicate poems, and by a bold swashbuckler sort of magazine writing
should be put forward--in such a staid city as Edinboro’, and against
such a candidate as Sir William Hamilton--for a Chair which had been held
by Dugald Stewart! But he _was_ so put forward, and successfully; Walter
Scott and the Government coming to his aid. Upon this, he went resolutely
to study in the new line marked out for him; his rods and guns were, for
the time, hung upon the wall; his wrestling frolics and bouts at
quarter-staff, and suppers at the Ambrose tavern, were laid under
limitations. He put a conscience and a pertinacity into his labor that
he had never put to any intellectual work before.[16] But there were
very many people in Edinboro’ who had been aggrieved by the
appointment--largely, too, among those from whom his pupils would come.
There was, naturally, great anxiety among his friends respecting the
opening of the first session. An eye-witness says:--

    “I went prepared to join in a cabal which was formed to put him
    down. The lecture-room was crowded to the ceiling. Such a collection
    of hard-browed, scowling Scotsmen, muttering over their knob-sticks,
    I never saw. The Professor entered with a bold step, amid profound
    silence. Every one expected some deprecatory, or propitiatory
    introduction of himself and his subject, upon which the mass was to
    decide against him, reason or no reason; but he began with a voice
    of thunder right into the matter of his lecture, kept
    up--unflinchingly and unhesitatingly, without a pause--a flow of
    rhetoric such as Dugald Stewart or Dr. Brown, his predecessors,
    never delivered in the same place. Not a word--not a murmur escaped
    his captivated audience; and at the end they gave him a right-down
    unanimous burst of applause.”[17]

From that time forth, for thirty years or more, John Wilson held the
place, and won a popularity with his annual relays of pupils that was
unexampled and unshaken. Better lectures in his province may very possibly
have been written by others elsewhere--more close, more compact, more
thoroughly thought out, more methodic. His were not patterned after Reid
and Stewart; indeed, not patterned at all; not wrought into a burnished
system, with the pivots and cranks of the old school-men all in their
places. But they made up a series--continuous, and lapping each into each,
by easy confluence of topic--of discourses on moral duties and on moral
relations, with full and brilliant illustrative talk--sometimes in his
heated moments taking on the gush and exuberance of a poem; other times
bristling with reminiscences; yet full of suggestiveness, and telling as
much, I think, on the minds of his eager and receptive students as if the
rhetorical brilliancies had all been plucked away, and some master of a
duller craft had reduced his words to a stiff, logical paradigm.

From this time forward Professor Wilson lived a quiet, domestic, yet fully
occupied life. He wrote enormously for the magazine with which his name
had become identified; there is scarce a break in his thirty years’
teachings in the university; there are sometimes brief interludes of
travel; journeys to London; flights to the Highlands; there are breaks in
his domestic circle, breaks in the larger circle of his friends; there are
twinges of the gout and there come wrinkles of age; but he is braver to
resist than most; and for years on years everybody knew that great gaunt
figure, with blue eyes and hair flying wild, striding along Edinboro’
streets.

His poems have indeed almost gone down under the literary horizon of
to-day; but one who has known _Blackwood_ of old, can hardly wander
anywhere amongst the Highlands of Scotland without pleasant recollections
of Christopher North and of the musical bravuras of his speech.


_Thomas Campbell._

Another Scotsman, who is worthy of our attention for a little time, is one
of a different order; he is stiff, he is prim, he is almost priggish; he
is so in his young days and he keeps so to the very last.

A verse or two from one of the little poems he wrote will bring him to
your memory:

    “On Linden when the sun was low,
    All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,
    And dark as winter was the flow,
    Of Iser, rolling rapidly.”

And again:

    “Then shook the hills with thunder riven,
    Then rushed the steed to battle driven,
    And louder than the bolts of heaven,
    Far flashed the red artillery.”

If Thomas Campbell[18] had never written anything more than that page-long
story of the “Battle of Hohenlinden,” his name would have gone into all
the anthologies, and his verse into all those school-books where boys for
seventy years now have pounded at his martial metre in furies of
declamation. And yet this bit of martial verse, so full of the breath of
battle, was, at the date of its writing, rejected by the editor of a small
provincial journal in Scotland--as not coming up to the true poetic
standard![19]

I have spoken of Campbell as a Scotsman; though after only a short stay in
Scotland--following his university career at Glasgow--and a starveling
tour upon the Continent (out of which flashed “Hohenlinden”)--he went to
London; and there or thereabout spent the greater part of the residue of a
long life. He had affiliations of a certain sort with America, out of
which may possibly have grown his _Gertrude of Wyoming_; his father was
for much time a merchant in Falmouth, Virginia, about 1770; being however
a strong loyalist, he returned in 1776. A brother and an uncle of the poet
became established in this country, and an American Campbell of this stock
was connected by marriage with the family of Patrick Henry.

The first _coup_ by which Campbell won his literary spurs, was a bright,
polished poem--with its couplets all in martinet-like order--called the
_Pleasures of Hope_. We all know it, if for nothing more, by reason of
the sympathetic allusion to the woes of Poland:

    “Ah, bloodiest picture in the book of time!
    Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;
    Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
    Strength in her arms nor mercy in her woe!
    Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
    Closed her bright eye and curbed her high career,
    Hope for a season bade the world farewell,
    And freedom shrieked as Kosciusko fell!”

Even at so late a date as the death of Campbell (1844), when they buried
him in Westminster Abbey, close upon the tomb of Sheridan, some grateful
Pole secured a handful of earth from the grave of Kosciusko to throw upon
the coffin of the poet.

But in addition to its glow of liberalism, this first poem of Campbell
was, measured by all the old canons of verse, thoroughly artistic. Its
pauses, its rhymes, its longs and shorts were of the best prize order;
even its errors in matters of fact have an academic tinge--as, for
instance,--

    “On Erie’s banks, where tigers steal along!”

The truth is, Mr. Campbell was never strong in his natural history; he
does not scruple to put flamingoes and palm trees into the valley of
Wyoming. Another reason why the first poem of Campbell’s, written when he
was only twenty-one, came to such success, was the comparatively clear
field it had. The date of publication was at the end of the century. Byron
was in his boyhood; Scott had not published his _Lay of the Last Minstrel_
(1805); Southey had printed only his _Joan of Arc_ (1796), which few
people read; the same may be said of Landor’s _Gebir_, (1797); Cowper was
an old story; Rogers’s _Pleasures of Memory_ (1792), and Moore’s
translation of _Anacreon_ (1799-1800), were the more current things with
which people who loved fresh poetry could regale themselves. The _Lyrical
Ballads_ of Wordsworth and Coleridge had indeed been printed, perhaps a
year or two before, down in Bristol; but scarce any one read _these_; few
bought them;[20] and yet--in that copy of the _Lyrical Ballads_ was lying
_perdu_--almost unknown and uncared for--the “Rime of the Ancient
Mariner.”

_Gertrude of Wyoming_, a poem, written at Sydenham, near London, about
1807, and which, sixty years ago, every good American who was collecting
books thought it necessary to place upon his shelves, I rarely find there
now. It has not the rhetorical elaboration of Campbell’s first poem; never
won its success; there are bits of war in it, and of massacre, that are
gorgeously encrimsoned, and which are laced through and through with
sounds of fife and warwhoop; but the landscape is a disorderly
exaggeration (I have already hinted at its palm trees) and its love-tale
has only the ardors of a stage scene in it; we know where the tragedy is
coming in, and gather up our wraps so as to be ready when the curtain
falls.

He was a born actor--in need (for his best work) of the foot-lights, the
on-lookers, the trombone, the bass-drum. He never glided into victories of
the pen by natural inevitable movement of brain or heart; he stopped
always and everywhere to consider his _pose_.

There is little of interest in Campbell’s personal history; he married a
cousin; lived, as I said, mostly in London, or its immediate
neighborhood. He had two sons--one dying young, and the other of weak
mind--lingering many years--a great grief and source of anxiety to his
father, who had the reputation of being exacting and stern in his family.
He edited for a long time the _New Monthly Magazine_, and wrote much for
it, but is represented to have been, in its conduct, careless,
hypercritical, and dilatory. He lectured, too, before the Royal Institute
on poetry; read oratorically and showily--his subject matter being
semi-philosophical, with a great air of learning and academically dry;
there was excellent system in his discourses, and careful thinking on
themes remote from most people’s thought. He wrote some historical works
which are not printed nowadays; his life of Mrs. Siddons is bad; his life
of Petrarch is but little better; some poems he published late in life are
quite unworthy of him and are never read. Nevertheless, this prim,
captious gentleman wrote many things which have the ring of truest poetry
and which will be dear to the heart of England as long as English ships
sail forth to battle.


_A Minstrel of the Border._

Yet another Scotsman whose name will not be forgotten--whether British
ships go to battle, or idle at the docks--is Walter Scott.[21] I scarce
know how to begin to speak of him. We all know him so well--thanks to the
biography of his son-in-law, Lockhart, which is almost Boswellian in its
minuteness, and has dignity besides. We know--as we know about a
neighbor’s child--of his first struggles with illness, wrapped in a fresh
sheepskin, upon the heathery hills by Smailholme Tower; we know of the
strong, alert boyhood that succeeded; he following, with a firm seat and
free rein--amongst other game--the old wives’ tales and border ballads
which, thrumming in his receptive ears, put the Edinboro law studies into
large confusion. Swift after this comes the hurry-scurry of a boyish
love-chase--beginning in Grey Friar’s church-yard; she, however, who
sprung the race--presently doubles upon him, and is seen no more; and he
goes lumbering forward to another fate. It was close upon these
experiences that some friends of his printed privately his ballad of
_William and Helen_, founded on the German Lenore:--

    “Tramp, tramp! along the land they rode!
      Splash, splash! along the sea!
    The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
      The flashing pebbles flee!”

And the spirit and dash of those four lines were quickly recognized as
marking a new power in Scotch letters; and an echo of them, or of their
spirit, in some shape or other, may be found, I think, in all his
succeeding poems and in all the tumults and struggles of his life. The
elder Scott does not like this philandering with rhyme; it will spoil the
law, and a solid profession, he thinks; and true enough it does. For the
_Border Minstrelsy_ comes spinning its delightfully musical and tender
stories shortly after Lenore; and a little later appears his first long
poem--the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_--which waked all Scotland and England
to the melody of the new master. He was thirty-four then; ripening later
than Campbell, who at twenty-one had published his _Pleasures of Hope_.
There was no kinship in the methods of the two poets; Campbell all
precision, and nice balance, delicate adjustment of language--stepping
from point to point in his progress with all grammatic precautions and
with well-poised poetic steps and demi-volts, as studied as a dancing
master’s; while Scott dashed to his purpose with a seeming abandonment of
care, and a swift pace that made the “pebbles fly.” Just as unlike, too,
was this racing freedom of Scott’s--which dragged the mists away from the
Highlands, and splashed his colors of gray, and of the purple of blooming
heather over the moors--from that other strain of verse, with its
introspections and deeper folded charms, which in the hands of Wordsworth
was beginning to declare itself humbly and coyly, but as yet with only the
rarest applause. I cannot make this distinction clearer than by quoting a
little landscape picture--let us say from _Marmion_--and contrasting with
it another from Wordsworth, which was composed six years or more before
_Marmion_ was published. First, then, from Scott--and nothing prettier
and quieter of rural sort belongs to him,--

    “November’s sky is chill and drear,
    November’s leaf is red and sear;
    Late gazing down the steepy linn
    That hems our little garden in.”

(I may remark, in passing, that this is an actual description of Scott’s
home surroundings at Ashestiel.)

    “Low in its dark and narrow glen
    You scarce the rivulet might ken,
    So thick the tangled greenwood grew,
    So feeble trilled the streamlet through;
    Now, murmuring hoarse, and frequent seen
    Through brush and briar, no longer green,
    An angry brook it sweeps the glade,
    Breaks over rock and wild cascade,
    And foaming brown with double speed
    Marries its waters to the Tweed.”

There it is--a completed picture; do what you will with it! Reading it, is
like a swift, glad stepping along the borders of the brook.

Now listen for a little to Wordsworth; it is a scrap from Tintern
Abbey:--

            “Once again I see
    These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
    Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms,
    Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
    Sent up in silence, from among the trees!
    With some uncertain notice, as might seem
    Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
    Or of some hermit’s cave, where by his fire
    The hermit sits alone.”

(Here is more than the tangible picture; the smoke wreaths have put unseen
dwellers there); and again:--

    “O Sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,
    How often has my spirit turned to thee!

                    I have learned
    To look on Nature, not as in the hour
    Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
    The still, sad music of humanity!
    Nor harsh, nor grating, though of ample power
    To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
    A presence that disturbs me with the joy
    Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns
    And the round ocean and the living air
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of men
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
    A lover of the meadows and the woods
    And mountains.”

This will emphasize the distinction, to which I would call attention, in
the treatment of landscape by the two poets: Wordsworth putting _his_ all
on a simmer with humanities and far-reaching meditative hopes and
languors; and Scott throwing windows wide open to the sky, and saying
only--look--and be glad!

In those days Wordsworth had one reader where Scott had a hundred; and the
one reader was apologetic and shy, and the hundred were loud and gushing.
I think the number of their respective readers is more evenly balanced
nowadays; and it is the readers of Scott who are beginning to be
apologetic. Indeed I have a half consciousness of putting myself on this
page in that category:--As if the Homeric toss and life and play, and
large sweep of rivers, and of battalions and winnowed love-notes, and
clang of trumpets, and moaning of the sea, which rise and fall in the
pages of the _Minstrel_ and of _Marmion_--needed apology! Apology or no, I
think Scott’s poems will be read for a good many years to come. The guide
books and Highland travellers--and high-thoughted travellers--will keep
them alive--if the critics do not; and I think you will find no better
fore-reading for a trip along the Tweed or through the Trosachs than
_Marmion_, and the _Lady of the Lake_.


_The Waverley Dispensation._

Meantime, our author has married--a marriage, Goldwin Smith says, of
“intellectual disparagement”; which I suppose means that Mrs. Scott was
not learned and bookish--as she certainly was not; but she was honest,
true-hearted, and domestic. Mr. Redding profanely says that she was used
to plead, “Walter, my dear, you must write a new book, for I want another
silk dress.” I think this is apocryphal; and there is good reason to
believe that she gave a little hearty home huzza at each one of Mr.
Scott’s quick succeeding triumphs.

Our author has also changed his home; first from the pretty little village
of Lasswade, which is down by Dalkeith, to Ashestiel by the Yarrow; and
thence again to a farm-house, near to that unfortunate pile of Abbotsford,
which stands on the Tweed bank, shadowed by the trees he planted, and
shadowed yet more heavily by the story of his misfortunes. I notice a
disposition in some recent writers to disparage this notable country home
as pseudo-Gothic and flimsy. This gives a false impression of a structure
which, though it lack that singleness of expression and subordination of
details which satisfy a professional critic, does yet embody in a
singularly interesting way, and with solid construction, all the
aspirations, tastes, clannish vanities and archæologic whims of the great
novelist. The castellated tower is there to carry the Scottish standard,
and the cloister to keep alive reverent memory of old religious houses;
and the miniature Court gate, with its warder’s horn; and the Oriole
windows, whose details are, maybe, snatched from Kenilworth; the mass,
too, is impressive and smacks all over of Scott’s personality and of the
traditions he cherished.

I am tempted to introduce here some notes of a visit made to this locality
very many years ago. I had set off on a foot-pilgrimage from the old
border town of Berwick-on-Tweed; had kept close along the banks of the
river, seeing men drawing nets for salmon, whose silvery scales flashed in
the morning sun. All around swept those charming fields of Tweed-side,
green with the richest June growth; here and there were shepherds at their
sheep washing; old Norham Castle presently lifted its gray buttresses into
view; then came the long Coldstream bridge, with its arches shimmering in
the flood below; and after this the palace of the Duke of Roxburgh. In
thus following up leisurely the Tweed banks from Berwick, I had slept the
first night at Kelso; had studied the great fine bit of ruin which is
there, and had caught glimpses of Teviot-dale and of the Eildon Hills; had
wandered out of my way for a sight of Smailholme tower, and of Sandy
Knowe--both associated with Scott’s childhood; I passed Dryburgh, where he
lies buried, and at last on an evening of early June, 1845, a stout
oarsman ferried me across the Tweed and landed me in Melrose.

I slept at the George Inn--dreaming (as many a young wayfarer in those
lands has since done), of Ivanhoe and Rebecca, and border wars and _Old
Mortality_. Next morning, after a breakfast upon trout taken from some
near stream (very likely the Yarrow or the Gala-water), I strolled two
miles or so along the road which followed the Tweed bank upon the southern
side, and by a green foot-gate entered the Abbotsford grounds. The forest
trees--not over high at that time--were those which the master had
planted. From his favorite outdoor seat, sheltered by a thicket of
arbor-vitæ, could be caught a glimpse of the rippled surface of the Tweed
and of the turrets of the house.

It was all very quiet--quiet in the wood-walks; quiet as you approached
the court-yard; the master dead; the family gone; I think there was a yelp
from some young hound in an out-building, and a twitter from some birds I
did not know; there was the unceasing murmur of the river. Besides these
sounds, the silence was unbroken; and when I rang the bell at the entrance
door, the jangle of it was very startling; startling a little terrier,
too, whose quick, sharp bark rang noisily through the outer court.

Only an old house-keeper was in charge, who had fallen into that dreadful
parrot-like way of telling visitors what things were best worth
seeing--which frets one terribly. What should you or I care (fresh from
_Guy Mannering_ or _Kenilworth_) whether a bit of carving came from
Jedburgh or Kelso? or about the jets in the chandelier, or the way in
which a Russian Grand Duke wrote his name in the visitors’ book?

But when we catch sight of the desk at which the master wrote, or of the
chair in which he sat, and of his shoes and coat and cane--looking as if
they might have been worn yesterday--these seem to bring us nearer to the
man who has written so much to cheer and to charm the world. There was,
too, a little box in the corridor, simple and iron-bound, with the line
written below it, “Post will close at two.” It was as if we had heard the
master of the house say it. Perhaps the notice was in his handwriting (he
had been active there in 1831-2--just thirteen years before)--perhaps not;
but--somehow--more than the library, or the portrait bust, or the chatter
of the well-meaning house-keeper, it brought back the halting old
gentleman in his shooting-coat, and with ivory-headed cane--hobbling with
a vigorous step along the corridor, to post in that iron-bound box a
packet--maybe a chapter of _Woodstock_.

I have spoken of the vacant house--family gone: The young Sir Walter
Scott, of the British army, and heir to the estate--was at that date
(1845) absent in the Indies; and only two years thereafter died at sea on
his voyage home. Charles Scott, the only brother of the younger Sir
Walter, died in 1841.[22] Miss Anne Scott, the only unmarried daughter of
the author of _Waverley_, died--worn-out with tenderest care of mother and
father, and broken-hearted--in 1833. Her only sister, Mrs. (Sophia Scott)
Lockhart, died in 1837. Her oldest son--John Hugh, familiarly known as
“Hugh Little John”--the crippled boy, for whom had been written the _Tales
of a Grandfather_, and the darling of the two households upon
Tweed-side--died in 1831. I cannot forbear quoting here a charming little
memorial of him, which, within the present year, has appeared in Mr.
Lang’s _Life of Lockhart_.

    “A figure as of one of Charles Lamb’s dream-children haunts the
    little beck at Chiefswood, and on that haugh at Abbotsford, where
    Lockhart read the manuscript of the _Fortunes of Nigel_, fancy may
    see ‘Hugh Little John,’ ‘throwing stones into the burn,’ for so he
    called the Tweed. While children study the _Tales of a Grandfather_,
    he does not want friends in this world to remember and envy the boy
    who had Sir Walter to tell him stories.”--P. 75, vol. ii.

A younger son of Lockhart, Walter Scott by name, became, at the death of
the younger Walter Scott, inheritor of all equities in the landed estate
upon Tweed-side, and the proper Laird of Abbotsford. His story is a short
and a sad one; he was utterly unworthy, and died almost unbefriended at
Versailles in January, 1853.

His father, J. G. Lockhart, acknowledging a picture of this son, under
date of 1843, in a letter addressed to his daughter Charlotte--(later
Mrs. Hope-Scott,[23] and mother of the present proprietress of
Abbotsford), writes with a grief he could not cover:--

    “I am not sorry to have it by me, though it breaks my heart to
    recall the date. It is of the sweet, innocent, happy boy, home for
    Sunday from Cowies [his school].… Oh, God! how soon that day became
    clouded, and how dark its early close! Well, I suppose there is
    another world; if not, sure this is a blunder.”

I have not spoken--because there seemed no need to speak--of the way in
which those marvellous romantic fictions of Sir Walter came pouring from
the pen, under a cloud of mystery, and of how the great burden of his
business embarrassments--due largely to the recklessness of his jolly,
easy-going friends, the Ballantynes--overwhelmed him at last. Indeed, in
all I have ventured to say of Scott, I have a feeling of its
impertinence--as if I were telling you about your next-door neighbor: we
all know that swift, brilliant, clouded career so well! But are those
novels of his to live, and to delight coming generations, as they have the
past? I do not know what the very latest critics may have to say; but, for
my own part, I have strong belief that a century or two more will be sure
to pass over before people of discernment, and large humanities, and of
literary appreciation, will cease to read and to enjoy such stories as
that of the _Talisman of Kenilworth_ and of _Old Mortality_. I know ’tis
objected, and with much reason, that he wrote hastily, carelessly--that
his stories are in fact (what Carlyle called them) extemporaneous stories.
Yet, if they had been written under other conditions, could we have
counted upon the heat and the glow which gives them illumination?

No, no--we do not go to him for word-craft; men of shorter imaginative
range, and whose judgments wait on conventional rule, must guide us in
such direction, and pose as our modellers of style. Goldsmith and Swift
both may train in that company. But this master we are now considering
wrote so swiftly and dashed so strongly into the current of what he had to
say, that he was indifferent to methods and words, except what went to
engage the reader and keep him always cognizant of his purpose. But do you
say that this is the best aim of all writing? Most surely it is wise for a
writer to hold attention by what arts he can: failing of this, he fails of
the best half of his intent; but if he gains this by simple means, by
directness, by limpid language, and no more of it than the thought calls
for, and by such rhythmic and beguiling use of it as tempts the reader to
follow, he is a safer exemplar than one who by force of genius can
accomplish his aims by loose expressions and redundance of words.

Next it is objected to these old favorites of ours, that they are not
clever in the exhibit and explication of mental processes, and their
analysis of motives is incomplete. Well, I suppose this to be true; and
that he did, to a certain extent (as Carlyle used to allege grumblingly),
work from the outside-in. He did live in times when men fell
straightforwardly in love, without counting the palpitations of the heart;
and when heroes struck honest blows without reckoning in advance upon the
probable contractile power of their biceps muscles. Again, it is said that
his history often lacks precision and sureness of statement. Well, the
dates are certainly sometimes twisted a few years out of their proper
lines and seasons; but it is certain, also, that he does give the
atmosphere and the coloring of historic periods in a completer and more
satisfying way than many much carefuller chroniclers, and his portraits of
great historic personages are by common consent--even of the critics--more
full of the life of their subjects, and of a realistic exhibit of their
controlling characteristics, than those of the historians proper. Nothing
can be more sure than that Scott was not a man of great critical learning;
nothing is more sure than that he was frequently at fault in minor
details; but who will gainsay the fact that he was among the most charming
and beneficent of story-tellers?

There may be households which will rule him out as old fashioned and
stumbling, and wordy, and long; but I know of one, at least, where he will
hold his place, as among the most delightful of visitors--and where on
winter nights he will continue to bring with him (as he has brought so
many times already) the royal figure of the Queen Elizabeth--shining in
her jewels, or sulking in her coquetries; and Dandie Dinmont, with his
pow-wow of Pepper and Mustard; and King Jamie, with Steenie and jingling
Geordie; and the patient, prudent, excellent Jeanie Deans; and the weak,
old, amiable mistress of Tillietudlem; and Rebecca, and the Lady in the
Green Mantle, and Dominie Sampson, and Peter Peebles, and Di Vernon, and
all the rest!


_Glints of Royalty._

They tell us Scott loved kings: why not? Romanticism was his nurse, from
the days when he kicked up his baby heels under the shadows of Smailholme
Tower, and Feudalism was his foster-parent. Always he loved banners and
pageantry, and always the glitter and pomp which give their under or over
tones to his pages of balladry. And if he stood in awe of titles and of
rank, and felt the cockles of his heart warming in contact with these,
’twas not by reason of a vulgar tuft-hunting spirit, nor was it due to the
crass toadyism which seeks reflected benefit; but it grew, I think, out of
sheer mental allegiance to feudal splendors and traditions.

Whether Scott ever personally encountered the old king, George III., may
be doubtful; but I recall in some of his easy, family letters (perhaps to
his eldest boy Walter), most respectful and kindly allusions to the august
master of the royal Windsor household--who ordered his home affairs so
wisely--keeping “good hours;” while, amid the turbulences and unrest which
belonged to the American and French Revolutions--succeeding each other in
portentous sequence--he was waning toward that period of woful mental
imbecility which beset him at last, and which clouded an earlier
chapter[24] of our record. The Prince Regent--afterward George IV.--was
always well disposed toward Scott; had read the _Minstrel_, and _Marmion_,
with the greatest gratification (he did sometimes read), and told Lord
Byron as much; even comparing the Scot with Homer--which was as near to
classicism as the Prince often ran. But Byron, in his _English Bards_,
etc., published in his earlier days, had made his little satiric dab at
the _Minstrel_--finding a lively hope in its being _the Last_!

Murray, however, in the good Christian spirit which sometimes overtakes
publishers, stanched these wounds, and brought the poets to bask together
in the smiles of royalty. The first Baronetcy the Prince bestowed--after
coming to Kingship--was that which made the author of Waverley Sir Walter;
the poet had witnessed and reported the scenes at the Coronation of 1820
in London; and on the King’s gala visit to Edinboro’--when all the heights
about the gray old city boomed with welcoming cannon, and all the streets
and all the water-ways were a-flutter with tartans and noisy with
bagpipes--it was Sir Walter who virtually marshalled the hosts, and gave
chieftain-like greeting to the Prince. Scott’s management of the whole
stupendous paraphernalia--the banquets, the processions, the receptions,
the decorations (of all which the charming water-colors of Turner are in
evidence)--gave wonderful impressions of the masterful resources and
dominating tact of the man; now clinking glasses (of Glenlivet) with the
mellow King (counting sixty years in that day); now humoring into quietude
the jealousies of Highland chieftains; again threading Canongate at
nightfall and afoot--from end to end--to observe if all welcoming
bannerols and legends are in place; again welcoming to his home, in the
heat of ceremonial occupation, the white-haired and trembling poet Crabbe;
anon, stealing away to his Castle Street chamber for a new chapter in the
_Peveril of the Peak_ (then upon the anvil), and in the heat, and fury,
and absorption of the whole gala business breaking out of line with a
bowed head and aching heart, to follow his best friend, William Erskine
(Lord Kinnedder),[25] out by Queensferry to his burial.

It was only eight years thereafter, when this poet manager of the great
Scotch jubilee--who seemed good for the work of a score of years--sailed,
by royal permission (an act redeeming and glorifying royalty) upon a
Government ship--seeking shores and skies which would put new vigor (if it
might be) into a constitution broken by toil, and into hopes that had been
blighted by blow on blow of sorrow.

Never was a royal favor more worthily bespoken; never one more vainly
bestowed. ’Twas too late. No human eye--once so capable of seeing--ever
opened for a first look so wearily upon the blue of the
Mediterranean--upon the marvellous fringed shores of lower Italy--upon
Rome, Florence, and the snowy Swiss portals of the Simplon.

Royalty (in person of William IV., then on the throne) asked kindly after
the sick magician--who was established presently on a sick bed in London;
while the cabmen on street corners near by talked low of the “great mon”
who lay there a-dying. A little show of recovery gave power to reach
home--Abbotsford and Tweed-side--once more. There was no hope; but it took
time for the great strength in him to waste.

Withal there was a fine glint of royalty at the end. “Be virtuous, my
dear,” he said to Lockhart; “be a good man.” And that utterance--the
summing up of forty years of brilliant accomplishment, and of baffled
ambitions--emphasized by the trembling voice of a dying man--will dwell
longer in human memories, and more worthily, than the empty baronial pile
we call Abbotsford, past which the scurrying waters of the Tweed ripple
and murmur--as they did on the day Sir Walter was born, and on the day he
was buried at Dryburgh.



CHAPTER III.


Our last chapter was opened by a rather full sketch of Professor Wilson,
and a briefer one of Thomas Campbell--who though of higher repute as a
poet, was a far less interesting man. We then entered upon what may have
seemed a very inadequate account of the great author of Waverley--because
I presumed upon the reader’s full and ready knowledge; and because the
Minstrel’s grand stride over all the Scottish country that is worth the
seeing, and over all that domain in English Lands and Letters, which he
made his own, has been noted by scores of tourists, and by scores of
admiring commentators. You may believe me in saying--that his story was
not scrimped for lack of love; indeed, it would have been easy to riot in
talk about the lively drum-beat of his poems, or the livelier and more
engaging charms of his prose Romance--through two chapters or through ten.
But we must get on; there is a long road before us yet.


_A Start in Life._

It was somewhere about the year 1798, that a sharp-faced, youngish
Englishman--who had been curate of a small country parish down in
Wiltshire--drove, upon a pleasant June day, on a coach-top, into the old
city of Edinboro’. This clergyman had a young lad seated beside him, whom
he was tutoring; and this tutoring business enabled the curate to take a
respectable house in the city. And by reason of the respectable house, and
his own pleasant humor and intelligence, he came after a year or two to
know a great many of the better folk in Edinboro’, and was invited to
preach an occasional sermon at a small Episcopal chapel in his
neighborhood. But all the good people he met did not prevent his being
a-hungered after a young person whom he had left in the south of England.
So he took a vacation presently and fetched her back, a bride, to the
Scottish capital--having (as he said) thrown all his fortune in her lap.
This fortune was of maternal inheritance, and consisted of six well-worn
silver teaspoons. There was excellent society in Edinboro’ in that day,
among the ornaments of which was Henry Mackenzie,[26] a stately
gentleman--a sort of dean of the literary coteries, and the author of
books which it is well to know by name--_The Man of Feeling_ and _Julia de
Roubigné_--written with great painstaking and most exalted sentiment,
and--what we count now--much dreariness. Then there was a Rev. Archibald
Alison--he too an Episcopal clergyman, though Scotch to the backbone--and
the author of an ingenious, but not very pregnant book, still to be found
in old-fashioned libraries, labelled, _Alison on Taste_. Dugald Stewart
was then active, and did on one or two occasions bring his honored
presence to the little chapel to hear the preaching of the young English
curate I spoke of. And this young curate, poor as he is and with a young
wife, has an itch for getting into print; and does after a little time
(the actual date being 1800) publish a booklet, which you will hardly find
now, entitled _Six Sermons preached at Charlotte Chapel, Edinboro, by Rev.
Sydney Smith_.[27] But it was not so much these sermons, as his wit and
brightness and great range of information, which brought him into easy
intimacy with the most promising young men of the city. Walter Scott he
may have encountered odd whiles, though the novelist was in those days
bent on his hunt after Border Minstrelsy, and would have been shy of the
rampant liberalism ingrained with Smith.

But the curate did meet often, and most intimately, a certain prim,
delicate, short-statured, black-eyed, smug, ambitious, precocious young
advocate named Francis Jeffrey; and it was in a chamber of this latter--up
three pair of stairs in Buccleugh Place--that Sydney Smith, on a certain
occasion, proposed to the host and two or three other friends there
present, the establishment of a literary journal to be published
quarterly; and out of that proposition grew straightway that famous
_Edinburgh Review_ which in its covers of buff and blue has thrived for
over ninety years now--throwing its hot shot into all opposing camps of
politics or of letters. I have designated two of the arch plotters, Sydney
Smith and Jeffrey. Francis Horner[28] was another who was in at the start;
he, too, a young Scotch lawyer, who went to London on the very year of the
establishment of the journal, but writing for its early issues, well and
abundantly. Most people know him now only by the beautiful statue of him
by Chantrey, which stands in Westminster Abbey; it has a noble head, full
of intellect--full of integrity. Sydney Smith said the Ten Commandments
were writ all over his face. Yet the marble shows a tenderness of soul not
common to those who, like him, had made a profession of politics, and
entered upon a parliamentary career. But the career was short; he died in
1817--not yet forty--leaving a reputation that was spotless; had he lived,
he would have come, without a doubt, to the leadership of liberal opinion
in England. The mourning for him was something extraordinary in its reach,
and its sincerity; a remarkable man--whose politics never up-rooted his
affections, and whose study of the laws of trade did not spoil his temper,
or make him abusive. His example, and his repeated advices, in connection
with the early history of the _Review_, were always against the
personalities and ugly satire which were strong features of it in the
first years, and which had their source--very largely--in the influences
and pertinacity of another member of the _Review_ Syndicate; I mean Henry
Brougham.


_Henry Brougham._

This was another young lawyer--of Scottish birth, but of Cumberland stock;
ambitious like Jeffrey and equally clever, though in a different line; he
was ungainly and lank of limb; with a dogmatic and presuming manner, and a
noticeably aggressive nose which became afterward the handle (and a very
good handle it made) for those illustrative caricatures of Mr. Punch,
which lasted for a generation. Brougham[29] was always a debater from his
boy-days--and not a little of a bully and outlaw; precocious too--a
capital Latinist--writing a paper on Optics at eighteen, which found
publishment in the Philosophical Transactions; member of the Speculative
Society where Jeffrey and Mackintosh, and Alison were wont to go, and
where his disputatious spirit ran riot. He didn’t love to agree with
anybody; one of those men it would seem who hardly wished his dinner to
agree with him.

Yet Brougham was one of the master spirits in this new enterprise, and
became a great historic personage. His reputation was indeed rather
political and forensic, than literary, and in his writings he inclined to
scientific discussion. He had, however, a streak of purely literary
ambition, and wrote a novel at one period of his life--after he had
reached maturity--which he called a philosophic Romance.[30] Indeed this
bantling was so swaddled, in philosophic wrappings that it could have
made no noise. Very few knew of it; fewer still ever read it. He said, “It
had not enough of indecency and blasphemy in it to make it popular” (it
was written when Byron was in high repute). But the few who did read it
thought there were other reasons for its want of success.

He drifted quickly away from Edinboro’, though long keeping up his
connection with the _Review_; became famous as an advocate--notably in
connection with Queen Caroline’s trial; went into Parliament; was
eventually Lord High Chancellor, and won a place in the Peerage. He was
associated intimately, too, with great beneficent schemes--such as the
suppression of the slave trade, the establishment of the London
University, the founding of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful
Knowledge, and the urgence of the great Reform measures of 1832. Yet in
all these, he arrogated more than his share of the honor, wearying his
associates by incessant bickering and scolding, picking flaws in
everything not entirely his own; jealous, suspicious, conceited to the
last degree; never generous in praise of one living beside him; an
enormous worker, with sinews of iron, and on occasions (which are of
record) speaking and wrangling in the House of Commons until two of the
morning, and then going home--not to sleep--but to write a thirty-page
article for the _Edinburgh Review_. Such men make a place for themselves,
and keep it. He was an acrid debater, but a most thorough one--holding all
aspects of a case in view; never getting muddled; ready with facts; ready
with fallacies (if needed); ready for all and any interruptions; setting
them on fire by the stress of his argumentation--like carbons in an
electric circuit; ready with storms of irony and running into rough-edged
sarcasm with singular ease and sharpest appetite.

On a May evening of 1845 the present writer had the pleasure of watching
him for an hour or more in the House of Lords. He was lank, as I have
said; awkward, nervous, restless; twisting the great seals at his
watch-chain; intent upon everything; now and then sniffing the air, like a
terrier that has lost the scent; presenting a petition, in the course of
the session, in favor of some Newfoundland clients who were anxious for
more direct postal communication--who objected that their mails were sent
in a roundabout way _via_ Halifax. Whereupon Lord Stanley (afterward Earl
Derby), then Secretary for the Colonies, rose in explanation, “regretting
that his Lordship had not communicated with the Colonial Office, which had
considered the question raised; there was no communication by land; the
harbor was often closed by ice; therefore present methods were followed,”
etc. All of which was set forth with most charming grace and suavity; but
Lord Stanley was no sooner ended than the irascible Scotch peer, nettled,
as would seem, by the very graciousness of the explanation, was upon his
feet in an instant, with a sharp “M’ Lards,” that promised fun; and
thereafter came a fusillade of keenest, ironical speech--thanking the
honorable Secretary for “the vera impartant information, that as St.
John’s was upon an island, there could be no communication by land; and
perhaps his learned _Lardship_ supposes, with an acumen commensurate with
his _great_ geographic knowledge, that the sending of the mails by the way
of Halifax will have a tendency to _thaw_ the ice in the Harbor of St.
John’s,” and so on, for a ten minute’s storm of satiric and witty banter.
And then--an awkward plunge backward into his seat--a new, nervous
twirling of his watch-seals, a curious smile of self-approval, followed by
a lapse into the old nervous unrest.

There was no serenity in Brougham--no repose--scarce any dignity. His
petulance and angry sarcasm and frequent ill-nature made him a much hated
man in his latter days, and involved him in abusive tirades, which people
were slow to forgive.


_Francis Jeffrey._

As for Mr. Jeffrey, his associate on the _Review_, and for many years its
responsible editor, he was a very different man--of easy address,
courteous, gentlemanly--quite a master of deportment. Yet it was he who
ripped open with his critical knife Southey’s _Thalaba_ and the early
poems of Wordsworth. But even his victims forgot his severities in his
pleasantly magnetic presence and under the caressing suavities of his
manner. He was brisk, _débonnaire_, cheery--a famous talker; not given to
anecdotes or storytelling, but bubbling over with engaging book-lore and
poetic hypotheses, and eager to put them into those beautiful shapes of
language which came--as easily as water flows--to his pen or to his
tongue. He said harsh things, not for love of harsh things; but because
what provoked them grated on his tastes, or his sense of what was due to
Belles Lettres. One did not--after conversing with him--recall great
special aptness of remark or of epithet, so much as the charmingly even
flow of apposite and illustrative language--void of all extravagances and
of all wickednesses, too. Lord Cockburn says of his conversation:--

    “The listeners’ pleasure was enhanced by the personal littleness of
    the speaker. A large man [Jeffrey was very small] could scarcely
    have thrown off Jeffrey’s conversational flowers without exposing
    himself to ridicule. But the liveliness of the deep thoughts and the
    flow of bright expressions that animated his talk, seemed so natural
    and appropriate to the figure that uttered them, that they were
    heard with something of the delight with which the slenderness of
    the trembling throat and the quivering of the wings make us enjoy
    the strength and clearness of the notes of a little bird.”[31]

The first Mrs. Jeffrey dying early in life, he married for second wife a
very charming American lady, Miss Wilkes;[32] having found
time--notwithstanding his engrossment with the _Review_--for an American
journey, at the end of which he carried home his bride. Some of his
letters to his wife’s kindred in America are very delightful--setting
forth the new scenes to which the young wife had been transported. He knew
just what to say and what not to say, to make his pictures perfect. The
trees, the church-towers, the mists, the mosses on walls, the gray
heather--all come into them, under a touch that is as light as a feather,
and as sharp as a diamond.

His honors in his profession of advocate grew, and he came by courtesy to
the title of Lord Jeffrey--(not to be confounded with that other murderous
Lord Jeffreys, who was judicial hangman for James II.). He is in
Parliament too; never an orator properly; but what he says, always clean
cut, sensible, picturesque, flowing smoothly--but rather over the surface
of things than into their depths. Accomplished is the word to apply to
him; accomplished largely and variously, and with all his accomplishments
perfectly in hand.

Those two hundred papers which he wrote in the _Edinburgh Review_ are of
the widest range--charmingly and piquantly written. Yet they do not hold
place among great and popular essays; not with Macaulay, or Mackintosh, or
Carlyle, or even Hazlitt. He was French in his literary aptitudes and
qualities; never heavy; touching things, as we have said, with a feather’s
point, yet touching them none the less surely.

Could he have written a book to live? His friends all thought it, and
urged him thereto. He thought not. There would be great toil, he said,
and mortification at the end; so he lies buried, where we leave him, under
a great tumulus of most happy _Review_ writing.


_Sydney Smith._

I return now to the clever English curate who was the first to propose the
establishment of that great Northern _Review_, out of which Lord Jeffrey
grew. Smith had written very much and well, and had cracked his jokes in a
way to be heard by all the good people of Edinboro’. But he was poor, and
his wife poor; he had his fortune to make; and plainly was not making it
there, tutoring his one pupil. So, in 1804, he struck out for London, to
carve his way to fortune. He knew few there; but his clever papers in the
_Review_ gave him introduction to Whig circles, and a social plant, which
he never forfeited. Lord and Lady Holland greatly befriended him; and he
early came to a place at the hospitable board of that famous Holland
House--of whose green quietudes we have had glimpses, in connection with
Addison, and in connection with Charles Fox--and whose mistress in the
days we are now upon, showed immense liking for the brilliant and witty
parson.

All this while, the Rev. Sydney was seeking preaching chances; but was
eyed doubtfully by those who had pulpits in their gift. He was too
independent--too witty--too radical--too hateful of religious
conventionalisms--too _Edinburgh Reviewish_. Neither was he a great
orator; rather scornful of explosive clap-trap or of noisy pulpit
rhetoric; yet he had a resonant voice--earnest in every note and trill;
often sparkling to his points in piquant, conversational way, but wanting
quick-witted ones for their reception and comprehension. He lacked too, in
a measure--what is another great resource for a preacher--the unction
which comes of deep, sustained, devotional feeling, and a conviction of
the unmatchable importance and efficacy of sacerdotal influences. I think
there was no time in his life when he would not rather beguile a wayward
soul by giving him a good, bright witticism to digest than by exhibit of
the terrors of the Law. His Gospel--by preference--was an intellectual
gospel; yet not one that reposed on creeds and formulas. His heart was
large, and his tolerance full. He was a proud Churchman indeed, and loved
to score dissenters; but delighted in the crack of his witticisms, more
than he mourned over their apostasy. Among the “evening meetings” that he
knew very much of, and specially relished, were those at his own little
homestead, with closed blinds, and a few friends, and hot-water,
and--lemons!

I do not at all mean to imply that he had habits of dissipation, or was
ever guilty of vulgar excesses. Of all such he had a wholesome horror; but
along with it, he had a strong and abiding fondness for what he counted
the good things of life, and the bright things, and the play of wit, and
the encounter of scholarly weapons.

One beautiful priestly quality, however, always shone in him: that was his
kindliness for the poor and feeble--his sympathy with them--his working
for their benefit; and though he trusted little in appeals to the mere
emotional nature, yet in his charity sermons he drew such vivid pictures
of the suffering poor folk who had come under his eye, as to put half his
auditors in tears.

His preaching in London at this early period was for the most part at an
out-of-the-way chapel, in connection with a Foundling Hospital; but he
gave a series of Philosophic Lectures at the Royal Institution--never
reckoned by himself with his good work--which were besieged by people who
came to enjoy his witty sayings. In a few years, however, he secured a
valuable church gift in Yorkshire, where he built a rectory--the ugliest
and “honest-est house” in the county--and entertained London and Scottish
friends there, and grew to enjoy--much as he could--the trees, flowers,
and lawns which he planted, and with which he coquetted, though only in a
half-hearted way. His supreme love was for cities and crowds; he counting
the country at its best only a kind of “healthy grave”; flowers, turf,
birds are very well in their way, he says, but not worth an hour of the
rational conversation only to be had where a million are gathered in one
spot.[33]

And he does at last come to the million--getting, after his Whig friends
came into power, and after the Reform revolution was over, the royal
appointment to a canonry in connection with St. Paul’s Cathedral.[34]

He also has the gift of a new country “living” in Somersetshire, where he
passes his later summer in another delightfully equipped home; and between
these two church holdings, and certain legacies conveniently falling due,
he has a large income at command, and enjoys it, and makes the poor of his
parishes enjoy it too.

He has taken a lusty hand in that passage of the Reform bill (1832), and
while its success seemed still to be threatened by the sullen opposition
of the House of Lords, he made that famous witty comparison in which he
likened the popular interest in Reform to a great storm and tide which had
set in from the Atlantic, and the opposition of the Lords, to the efforts
of Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, and--

    “who was seen at the door of her house with mops and pattens,
    trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously
    pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs.
    Partington’s spirit was up. But I need not tell you the contest was
    unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent
    at a slop or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with a
    tempest.”

And this happy and droll comparison was met with a great roar of laughter
and of applause that ran all over England. The same tactics of witty
ridicule belonged also to his attacks upon Tractarianism and Puseyism,
which made stir in his latter days. Indeed, his bump of veneration was
very small; and his drollery creeps into his letters as into his speech.
He writes of a visit to Edinboro’:

    “My old friends were glad to see me; some were turned Methodists,
    some had lost their teeth, some had grown very fat, some were dying,
    and, alas! many were dead. But the world is a coarse enough place;
    so I talked away, comforted some, praised others, kissed some old
    ladies, and passed a very riotous week.”[35]

He writes to Moore, the poet:

    “DEAR MOORE: I have a breakfast of philosophers at ten, punctually,
    to-morrow--‘muffins and metaphysics, crumpets and contradiction.’
    Will you come?”

When Mrs. Smith is ailing at her new home in Somersetshire he says:

    “Mrs. S---- has eight distinct illnesses, and I have nine. We take
    something every hour, and pass the mixture between us.”

One part of his suffering comes of hay fever, as to which he says:

    “Light, dust, contradiction--the sight of a dissenter--anything sets
    me sneezing; and if I begin sneezing at twelve, I don’t leave off
    till two, and am heard distinctly in Taunton (when the wind sets
    that way), a distance of six miles.”

This does not show quite so large a reserve and continence of speech as we
naturally look for in the clerical profession; but this, and other such
do, I think, set the Rev. Sydney Smith before us, with his witty
proclivities, and his unreserve, and his spirit of frolic, as no citations
from his moral and intellectual philosophy could ever do. And I easily
figure to myself this portly, well-preserved gentleman of St. Paul’s,
fighting the weaknesses of the gout with a gold-headed cane, and picking
his way of an afternoon along the pavements of Piccadilly, with eye as
bright as a bird’s, and beak as sharp as a bird’s--regaling himself with
the thought of the dinner for which he is booked, and of the brilliant
talkers he is to encounter, with the old parry and thrust, at Rogers’s
rooms, or under the noble ceiling of Holland House.


_A Highlander._

Another writer--whose sympathies from the beginning were with the
Liberalism of the _Edinburgh Review_ (though not a contributor till some
years after its establishment) was Sir James Mackintosh.[36] A Highlander
by birth--he was at Aberdeen University--afterwards in Edinboro’, where he
studied medicine, and getting his Doctorate, set up in London--eking out a
support, which his medical practice did not bring, by writing for the
papers.

This was at the date when the recent French Revolution and its issues were
at the top of all men’s thoughts; and when Burke had just set up his
glittering bulwark of eloquence and of sentiment in his famous
“Reflections”; and our young Doctor (Mackintosh)--full of a bumptious
Whiggism, undertook a reply to the great statesman--a reply so shrewd, so
well-seasoned, so sound--that it brought to the young Scotchman (scarce
twenty-five in those days) a fame he never outlived. It secured him the
acquaintance of Fox and Sheridan, and the friendship of Burke, who in his
latter days invited the young pamphleteer, who had so strongly, yet
respectfully, antagonized his views, to pass a Christmas with him at his
home of Beaconsfield. Of course, such a success broke up the doctoring
business, and launched Mackintosh upon a new career. He devoted himself to
politics; was some time an accredited lecturer upon the law of nations;
was knighted presently and sent to Bombay on civil service. His friends
hoped he might find financial equipment there, but this hope was vain;
red-tape was an abomination to him always; cash-book and ledger
represented unknown quantities; he knew no difference between a shilling
and a pound, till he came to spend them. He was in straits all his life.

His friendship for Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, and Brougham was maintained by
correspondence, and on his return from India he became an occasional
contributor to the great Scotch _Review_ on various subjects.

His range of acquirements was most wide--too wide and too unceasing for
the persistency which goes with great single achievements. His histories
are fragments. His speeches are misplaced treatises; his treatises are
epitomes of didactic systems. When we weigh his known worth, his keenness
of intellect, his sound judgment, his wealth of language, his love for
thoroughness--which led him to remotest sources of information--his
amazing power in colloquial discourse, we are astonished at the little
store of good things he has left. There was a lack in him, indeed, of the
salient and electrical wit of Sydney Smith; a lack of the easy and
graceful volubility of Jeffrey; lack of the abounding and illuminating
rhetoric of Macaulay; but a greater lack was of that dogged, persistent
working habit which gave to Brougham his triumphs.

Yet Mackintosh was always plotting great literary designs; but his
fastidious taste, and his critical hunger for all certainties, kept him
forever in the search of new material and appliances. He was dilatory to
the last degree; his caution always multiplied delays; no general was ever
so watchful of his commissariat--none ever so unready for a “Forward,
march!” Among his forecasts was that of a great history of England. Madame
de Staël urged her friend to take possession of her villa on Lake Geneva
and, like Gibbon, write his way there to a great fame. He did for awhile
set himself resolutely to a beginning at the country home of Weedon Lodge
in Buckinghamshire--accumulated piles of fortifying MSS. and private
records; but for outcome we have only that clumsy torso which outlines the
Revolution of 1688.[37]

His plans wanted a hundred working years, instead of the thirty which are
only allotted to men. What Jeffrey left behind him marks, I think, the
full limit of his powers; the same is true of Brougham, and true probably
of Macaulay; and I think no tension and no incentive would have wrought
upon Sydney Smith to work greater and brighter things than he did
accomplish. A bishopric would only have set his gibes into coruscation at
greater tables, and perhaps given larger system to his charities. But
Mackintosh never worked up to the full level of his best power and large
learning, except in moments of conversational exaltation.


_Rest at Cannes._

Before closing our chapter we take one more swift glimpse at that
arch-plotter for Whiggism--in the early days of the _Edinburgh
Review_--whom we left fidgetting in the House of Lords, on a May evening
of 1845. He had a longer life by far than most of those who conspired for
the maintenance of the great blue and buff forerunner of British critical
journals. He was only twenty-three when he put his shoulder to the
quarterly revolutions of the _Edinburgh_--youngest of all the immediate
founders;[38] and he outlived them all and outvoiced them all in the
hurly-burly of the world.

He survived Macaulay too--an early contributor of whom we shall have more
to say--and though he was past eighty at the death of the historian, he
was alert still, and his brain vagrantly active; but the days of his early
glory and fame--when the young blusterer bolstered up Reform, and slew the
giants of musty privilege and sent “the schoolmaster abroad,” and
antagonized slavery, were gone;[39] so, too, were those palmy times when
he made the courts at Westminster ring with his championship of that poor
Queen (who, whatever her demerits--and they were many--was certainly
abominably maltreated by a husband far worse than she); times when the
populace who espoused her cause shouted bravos to Harry Brougham--times
when he was the best known and most admired man in England; all these, and
his chancellorship, and his wordy triumphs in the House of Lords, were far
behind him, and the inevitable loss of place and power fretted him
grievously. He quarrelled with old coadjutors; in Parliament he shifted
from bench to bench; in the weakness of age, he truckled to power; he
exasperated his friends, and for years together--his scoldings, his
tergiversations, and his plaid trousers made a mine of mockery for Mr.
Punch. As early as 1835-40, Lord Brougham had purchased an estate in the
south of France, in a beautiful nook of that mountain shore which sweeps
eastward from the neighborhood of Marseilles--along the Mediterranean,
and which so many travellers now know by the delights of the Cornice Road
and Monaco, and Mentone, and San Remo. The little fishing village where
years ago Lord Brougham set up his Villa of Louise Eléonore (after a
darling and lost child) is now a suburb of the fashionable resort of
Cannes. At his home there, amongst the olives, the oleanders and the
orange-trees, the disappointed and petulant ex-chancellor passed most of
the later years of his life.

Friends dropping in upon him--much doubting of their reception--found him
as the humors changed, peevish with strong regrets and recriminations, or
placid under the weight of his years, and perhaps narcotized by the
marvellous beauty of the scenes around him.

He was over ninety at his death in 1868. To the very last, a man not to be
reckoned on: some days as calm as the sea that rippled under his window;
other days full of his old unrest and petulancies. There are such men in
all times and in all societies--sagacious, fussy, vain, indefatigable,
immensely serviceable, cantankerous; we _can’t_ get on without them; we
are for ever wishing that we could.

       *       *       *       *       *

In our next chapter we shall come upon a critic, who was a famous
editor--adroit, strong, waspish, bookish, and ignoble. We shall encounter
a king, too--of whom we have thus far only had glimpses--who was
jolly--excellently limbed and conditioned physically--a man “of an
infinite jest,” too, and yet as arrant a dastard--by all old-fashioned
moral measures of character--as Falstaff himself. Again we shall follow
traces of a great poet--but never a favorite one--who has left markings of
his career, strong and deep; a man who had a Greek’s delight in things of
beauty, and a Greek’s subtlety of touch; but one can fancy a faun’s ears
showing their tips upon his massive head, and (without fancy) grow
conscious of a heathenism clouding his great culture. Other two poets of
lighter mould we shall meet;--more gracious, lighter pinioned--prettily
flitting--iridescent--grace and sparkle in their utterances, but leaving
no strong markings “upon the sands of time.”



CHAPTER IV.


We have wandered much in our two last chapters beyond what may be reckoned
strictly English lands, into that pleasant region lying between the Tweed
and the Firth of Forth; and it was north of the heights of Lammermuir and
of the Pentland Hills, and in that delightful old city which is dominated
by the lesser heights of the Salisbury crags, the Castle Rock, and Calton
Hill, that we found the builders of that great _Review_, which in its
livery of buff and blue still carries its original name. I traced the
several careers of Sydney Smith, Lord Brougham, and Judge Jeffrey; the
first of these, from a humble village curacy, coming to be one of the most
respected literary men of England, and an important official of St. Paul’s
Cathedral; if his wit had been less lively he might have risen to a
bishopric. Brougham was, first, essayist, then advocate, then
Parliamentary orator, then Reformer, then Lord High Chancellor--purging
the courts of much legal trumpery--always a scold and quarreller, and
gaining in the first year of William IV. his barony of Brougham and Vaux:
hence the little squib of verse, which will help to keep his exact title
in mind:

    “Why is Lord Brougham like a sweeping man
      That close by the pavement walks?
    Because when he’s done all the sweep that he can
      He takes up his _Broom_ and _Valks_!”

As for Jeffrey, he became by his resolute industry and his literary graces
and aptitudes one of the most admired and honored critics of Great
Britain.


_Gifford and His Quarterly._

Our start-point to-day is on the Thames--in that devouring city of London,
which very early in the century was laying its tentacles of growth on all
the greenness that lay between Blackwall and Bayswater, and which--athwart
the Thames shores--strode blightingly from Clapham to Hackney.

It was, I believe, in the year 1809 that Mr. John Murray, the great
publisher of London--stirred, perhaps, by some incentive talk of Walter
Scott, or of other good Tory penmen, and emulous of the success which had
attended Jeffrey’s _Review_ in the north, established a rival one--called
simply _The Quarterly_--intended to represent the Tory interests as
unflinchingly and aggressively as the _Edinburgh_ had done Whig interests.
The first editor was a William Gifford[40] (a name worth remembering among
those of British critics), who was born in Devonshire. He was the son of a
dissolute house-painter, and went to sea in his young days, but was
afterwards apprenticed to a shoemaker. Some piquant rhymes he made in
those days attracting the attention of benevolent gentlemen, he was put in
the way of schooling, and at Oxford, where he studied. It was while there
he meditated, and perhaps executed, some of those clever translations from
Persius and Juvenal, which he published somewhat later. He edited Ben
Jonson’s works in a clumsy and disputatious way, and in some of his
earlier, crude, satirical rhymes (_Baviad_) paid his respects to Madame
Thrale in this fashion:

    “See Thrale’s gay widow with a satchel roam,
    And bring in pomp laborious nothings home.”

Again he pounces upon the biographer of Dr. Johnson thus-wise:

    “Boswell, aping with preposterous pride,
    Johnson’s worst frailties, rolls from side to side,
    His heavy head from hour to hour erects,
    Affects the fool, and is what he affects.”

These lines afford a very good measure of his poetic grace and aptitude;
but they give only a remote idea of his wonderful capacity for abusing
people who did not think as he thought. He had a genius in this direction,
which could not have discredited an editorial room in New York--or
elsewhere. Walter Scott--a warm political friend--speaks of him as “a
little man, dumpled up together, and so ill-made as to seem almost
deformed;” and I think that kindly gentleman was disposed to attribute
much of the critic’s rancor to his invalidism; but if we measure his
printed bile in this way, there must be credited him not only his usual
rheumatic twinges, but a pretty constant dyspepsia, if not a chronic
neuralgia. Of a certainty he was a most malignant type of British party
critics; and it is curious how the savors of its first bitterness do still
linger about the pages of the _Quarterly Review_.

John Wilson Croker[41] will be best known to our readers as the editor of
that edition of Boswell’s “Johnson,” to which I have alluded. Within the
last ten years, however, his memoirs and correspondence, in two bulky
volumes, have excited a certain languid interest, and given entertainment
to those who are curious in respect to the political wire-pullings of the
early part of this century in London. He was an ardent co-worker with
Gifford in the early history of the _Quarterly Review_. He loved a lord
every whit as well as Gifford, and by dint of a gentlemanly manner and
gentlemanly associations was not limited to the “back-stairs way” of Mr.
Gifford in courting those in authority. His correspondence with dukes and
earls--to all of whom he is a “dear Croker”--abound; and his account of
interviews with the Prince Regent, and of dinners at the Pavilion in
Brighton, are quite Boswellian in their particularity and in their
atmosphere of worship. There is also long account in the book to which I
have called attention, of a private discourse by George IV., of which Mr.
Croker was sole auditor; and it is hard to determine whether Croker is
more elated by having the discourse to record, or Mr. Jennings by having
such a record to edit.


_A Prince Regent._

This royal mention brings us once more, for a little space, to our
background of kings. Of the old monarch, George III., we have had frequent
and full glimpses. We wish to know something now of that new prince (whom
we saw in our Scott chapter), but who in 1810, when his father’s faculties
failed altogether, became Regent; and we wish to learn what qualities are
in him and under what training they developed.

The old father had a substructure of good, hard sense that showed itself
through all his obstinacies; for instance, when Dr. Markham, who was
appointed tutor to his two oldest sons--Prince of Wales and Duke of
York--asked how he should treat them, the old king said: “Treat them? Why,
to be sure, as you would any gentleman’s sons! If they need the birch,
give them the birch, as you would have done at Westminster.” But when they
had advanced a bit, and a certain Dr. Arnold (a later tutor) undertook the
same regimen, the two princes put their forces together and gave the
doctor such a drubbing that he never tried birch again. But it was always
a very close life the princes led in their young days; the old king was
very rigorous in respect of hours and being out at night. By reason of
which George IV. looked sharply after his opportunities, when they did
come, and made up for that early cloisterhood by a large laxity of
regimen.[42] Indeed, he opened upon a very glittering career of
dissipations--the old father groaning and grumbling and squabbling against
it vainly.

It was somewhere about 1788 or 1789, just when the French Revolution was
beginning to throw its bloody foam over the tops of the Bastille, that
temporary insanity in the old King George III. did for a very brief space
bring the Prince into consequence as Regent. Of the happening of this, and
of the gloom in the palace, there is story in the diary of Madame
D’Arblay,[43] who was herself in attendance upon the Queen. If, indeed,
George III. had stayed mad from that date, and the Prince--then in his
fullest vigor, and a great friend of Fox and other Liberal leaders--had
come to the full and uninterrupted responsibility of the Regency, his
career might have been very different. But the old king rallied, and for
twenty years thereafter put his obstinacies and Tory caution in the way of
the Prince, who, with no political royalties to engage him, and no
important official duties (though he tried hard to secure military
command), ran riot in the old way. He lavishes money on Carlton House;
builds a palace for Mrs. Fitzherbert; coquets with Lady Jersey; affects
the fine gentleman. No man in London was prouder of his walk, his cane,
his club nonchalance, his taste in meats, his knowledge of wines, ragoûts,
indelicate songs, and arts of the toilette. Withal, he is well-made, tall,
of most graceful address, a capital story-teller, too; an indefatigable
diner-out; a very fashion-plate in dress--corsetted, puffed out in the
chest like a pouter pigeon; all the while running vigorously and
scandalously in debt, while the father is setting himself squarely
against any further parliamentary grant in his favor. There are,
however--or will be--relentings in the old King’s mind, if “Wales” will
promise to settle down in life and marry his cousin, Caroline of
Brunswick--if, indeed, he be not already married to Mrs. Fitzherbert,
which some avow and some deny. It does not appear that the Prince is very
positive in his declarations on this point--yes or no. So he filially
yields and accedes to a marriage, which by the conditions of the bargain
is to bring him £70,000 to pay his debts withal. She is twenty-seven--a
good-looking, spirited Brunswicker woman, who sets herself to speaking
English--nips in the bud some love-passages she has at home, and comes
over to conquer the Prince’s affections--which she finds it a very hard
thing to do. He is polite, however; is agreeably disposed to the marriage
scheme, which finds exploitation with a great flourish of trumpets in the
Chapel Royal of St. James. The old King is delighted with his niece; the
old Queen is a little cool, knowing that the Prince does not care a penny
for the bride, and believing that she ought to have found that out.

She does find it out, however, in good time; and finds out about Mrs.
Fitzherbert and her fine house; and does give her Prince some very severe
curtain lectures--beginning early in that branch of wifely duty. The
Prince takes it in dudgeon; and the dudgeon grows bigger and bigger on
both sides (as such things will); finally, a year or more later--after the
birth of her daughter, the Princess Charlotte--proposals for separation
are passed between them (with a great flourish of diplomacy and golden
sticks), and accepted with exceeding cordiality on both sides.

Thereafter, the Prince becomes again a man about town--very much about
town indeed. Everybody in London knows his great bulk, his fine
waistcoats, his horses, his hats and his wonderful bows, which are made
with a grace that seems in itself to confer knighthood. For very many
years his domestic life,--what little there was of it,--passed without
weighty distractions. His Regency when established (1811) was held through
a very important period of British history; those great waves of
Continental war which ended in Waterloo belonged to it; so did the
American war of 1812; so did grave disaffection and discontent at home. He
did not quarrel with his cabinets, or impede their action; he learned how
to yield, and how to conciliate. Were it only for this, ’tis hardly fair
to count him a mere posture-master and a dandy.

He loved, too, and always respected his old mother, the Queen of George
III.;[44] loved too,--in a way--and more than any other creature in the
world except himself, that darling daughter of his, the Princess
Charlotte, who at seventeen became the bride of Leopold, afterward King of
Belgium,--she surviving the marriage only a year. Her memory is kept alive
by the gorgeous marble cenotaph you will see in St. George’s Chapel,
Windsor.

It was only when George IV. actually ascended the throne in 1820 that his
separated wife put in a disturbing appearance again; she had been living
very independently for some years on the Continent; and it occurred to
her--now that George was actually King--that it would be a good thing, and
not impinge on the old domestic frigidities, to share in some of the
drawing-room splendors and royalties of the British capital. To George IV.
it seemed very awkward; so it did to his cabinet. Hence came about those
measures for a divorce, and the famous trial of Queen Caroline, in which
Brougham won oratorical fame by his brilliant plea for the Queen. This was
so far successful as to make the ministerial divorce scheme a failure; but
the poor Queen came out of the trial very much bedraggled; whether her
Continental life had indeed its criminalities or not, we shall never
positively know. Surely no poor creature was ever more sinned against than
she, in being wheedled into a match with such an unregenerate partaker in
all deviltries as George IV. But she was not of the order of women out of
which are made martyrs for conscience’s sake. It was in the year 1821 that
death came to her relief, and her shroud at last whitened a memory that
had stains.


_A Scholar and Poet._

We freshen the air now with quite another presence. Yet I am to speak of a
man whose life was full of tumult, and whose work was full of learning and
power--sometimes touched with infinite delicacy.

He was born four years after Sydney Smith and Walter Scott--both of whom
he survived many years; indeed he lacked only eleven years of completing a
century when he died in Florence, where most of his active--or rather
inactive--life was passed. I allude to the poet and essayist, Walter
Savage Landor.[45] He is not what is called a favorite author; he never
was; he never will be. In fact, he had such scorn of popular applause,
that if it had ever happened to him in moments of dalliance with the
Muses, and of frolic with rhythmic language, to set such music afloat as
the world would have repeated and loved to repeat, I think he would have
torn the music out in disdain for the approval of a multitude. Hear what
he says, in one of his later poetic utterances:--

    “Never was I impatient to receive
    What _any_ man could give me. When a friend
    Gave me my due, I took it, and no more,
    Serenely glad, because that friend was pleased.
    I seek not many; many seek not me.
    If there are few now seated at my board,
    I pull no children’s hair because they munch
    Gilt gingerbread, the figured and the sweet,
    Or wallow in the innocence of whey;
    Give _me_ wild boar, the buck’s broad haunch give _me_,
    And wine that time has mellowed, even as time
    Mellows the warrior hermit in his cell.”[46]

Such verse does not invite a large following, nor did the man. Pugnacious,
tyrannic, loud-mouthed, setting the world’s and the Church’s rubrics at
defiance; yet weighing language to the last jot and tittle of its
significance, and--odd-whiles--putting little tendernesses of thought and
far-reaching poetic aspirations into such cinctures of polished verse--so
jewelled, so compact, so classic, so fine--that their music will last and
be admired as long, I think, as English speech lasts. Apart from all this
man wrote, there is a strange, half-tragic interest in his life, which
will warrant me in telling you more of him than I have told of many whose
books are more prized by you.

He was the son of a Dr. Landor, of Warwick, in middle England, who by
reason of two adroit marriages was a man of fortune, and so secured
eventually a very full purse to the poet, who if he had depended only on
the sale of his literary wares, would have starved. Language was always
young Landor’s hobby; and he came, by dint of good schooling, to such
dexterity in the use of Latin, as to write it in verse or prose with
nearly the same ease as English. He loved out-of-door pursuits in boyhood
and all his life; was greatly accomplished, his biographer says, in
fishing--especially with a cast-net; and of the prey that sometimes came
into such net there is this frolicsome record:

    “In youth ’twas there I used to scare
    A whirring bird, or scampering hare,
    And leave my book within a nook
    Where alders lean above the brook,
    To walk beyond the third mill-pond
    And meet a maiden fair and fond
    Expecting me beneath a tree
    Of shade for two, but not for three.
    Ah, my old Yew, far out of view,
    Why must I bid you both adieu?”[47]

At Oxford he was a marked man for his cleverness and for his audacities;
these last brought him to grief there, and going home upon his
rustication, he quarrelled with his father. Thereafter we find him in
London, where he publishes his first little booklet of poems (1795); only
twenty then; counted a fierce radical; detesting old George III. with his
whole heart; admiring the rebel George Washington and declaring it; loving
the French, too, with their liberty and fraternity song, until it was
silenced by the cannonading of Napoleon; thenceforward, he counts that
people a nation of “monkeys, fit only to be chained.”

But Landor never loved London. We find him presently wandering by the
shores of Wales, and among its mountains. Doubtless he takes his cast-net
with him; the names of Ianthé and Ioné decorate occasional verses; a
certain Rose Aylmer he encounters, too, who loans him a book (by Clara
Reeve), from a sketch in which he takes hint for his wild, weird poem of
_Gebir_, his first long poem--known to very few--perhaps not worth the
knowing. It is blind in its drift; war and pomp and passion in it--ending
with a poisoned cup; and contrasting with these, such rural beatitudes as
may be conjured under Afric skies, with tender love-breezes, ending in
other beatitudes in coral palaces beneath the sea. This, at any rate, is
the phantasmic outline which a reading leaves upon my own memory. Perhaps
another reader may be happier.

That shadowy Rose Aylmer, through whom the suggestion for the poem came,
was the real daughter of Lord Aylmer, of the near Welsh country; what
Landor’s intimacy with her may have been, in its promise or its reach, we
do not know; but we do know that when she died, somewhat later and in a
far country, the poet gave her name embalmment in those wonderful little
verses, which poor Charles Lamb, it is said, in his later days, would
repeat over and over and over, never tiring of the melody and the pathos.
Here they are:--

    “Ah, what avails the sceptred race,
      Ah, what the form divine!
    What--every virtue, every grace!
      Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
    Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
      May weep, but never see,
    A night of memories and of sighs
      I consecrate to thee!”

Meantime, growing into a tempestuous love for the wild Welsh country, he
bargains for a great estate, far up in a valley which opens down upon the
larger valley in which lies Abergavenny; and being rich now by reason of
his father’s death, parts with his beautiful ancestral properties in the
Warwickshire region, lavishing a large portion of the sales-money upon the
savagery of the new estate in Wales. He plants, he builds, he plays the
monarch in those solitudes. He marries, too, while this mountain passion
is on him, a young girl of French or Swiss extraction--led like a lamb
into the lion’s grasp. But the first Welsh quarrel of this
poet-monarch--who was severely classic, and who fed himself all his life
through on the thunder-bolts of Jupiter--was with his neighbors; next with
his workmen; then with his tenants; then the magistrates; last with
everybody; and in a passion of disgust, he throws down his walls, turns
astray his cattle, lets loose his mountain tarns, and leaving behind him
the weltering wreck of his half-built home, goes over with his wife to
Jersey, off the coast of Normandy. There she, poor, tired, frighted,
worried bird--maybe with a little of the falcon in her--would stay; _he_
would not. So he dashes on incontinently--deserting her, and planting
himself in mid-France at the old city of Tours, where he devotes himself
to study.

This first family tiff, however, gets its healing, and--his wife joining
him--they go to Como, where Southey (1817) paid them a visit; this poet
had been one of the first and few admirers of _Gebir_, which fact softened
the way to very much of mutual and somewhat over-strained praises between
these two.[48] From Como Landor went to Pisa--afterward to Florence, his
home thenceforth for very many years; first in the town proper and then in
a villa at Fiesole from which is seen that wondrous view--none can forget
who have beheld it--of the valley, which seems a plain--of the nestling
city, with its great Brunelleschi dome, its arrow-straight belfry of
Giotto, its quaint tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, its cypress sentinels on
the Boboli heights, its River Arno shining and winding, and stealing away
seaward from the amphitheatre of hills--on whose slopes are dotted white
convents, sleeping in the sun, and villas peeping out from their cloakings
of verdure, and the gray shimmer of olive orchards.


_Landor in Italy._

It was in Florence that Landor wrote the greater part of those _Imaginary
Conversations_ which have given him his chief fame; but which, very
possibly, may be outlived in the popular mind by the wonderful finish and
the Saxon force which belong to many of his verselets.

The conversations are just what their name implies--the talk of learned,
or distinguished men, on such topics as they were supposed to be most
familiar with; all _imagined_, and set forth by the brain of Landor, who
took a strange delight in thus playing with the souls of other men and
making them the puppets of his will. One meets in his pages Roger Ascham
and Lady Jane Grey, Milton and Andrew Marvel, and Achilles and Helena;
then we are transported from Mount Ida to the scene of a homely colloquy
between Washington and Franklin--about monarchy and Republicanism. Again
we have Leofric and Godiva telling their old story with a touching
dramatic interest; and can listen--if we will--to long and dullish dispute
between Dr. Johnson and Horne Tooke, about Language and its Laws; from
this--in which Landor was always much interested--we slip to the
Philo-Russianism of a talk between Peter the Great and Alexis. There are
seven great volumes of it all--which must belong to all considerable
libraries, private or other, and which are apt to keep very fresh and
uncut. Of course there is no logical continuity--no full exposition of a
creed, or a faith, or a philosophy. It is a great, wide, eloquent, homely
jumble; one bounces from rock to rock, or from puddle to puddle (for there
are puddles) at the will of this great giant driver of the chariot of
imaginary talk.[49] There are beauties of expression that fascinate one;
there are sentences so big with meaning as to bring you to sudden pause;
there are wearisome chapters about the balance of French verselets, in
which he sets up the poor Abbé Delille on rhetorical stilts--only to pelt
him down; there are page-long blotches of crude humor, and irrelevant
muddy tales, that you wish were out. As sample of his manner, I give one
or two passages at random. Speaking of Boileau, he says:--

    “In Boileau there is really more of diffuseness than of brevity [he
    loves thus to slap a popular belief straight in the face]; few
    observe this, because [Boileau] abounds in short sentences; and few
    are aware that sentences may be very short, and the writer very
    prolix; as half a dozen stones rising out of a brook give the
    passenger more trouble than a plank across it.” [He abounds in
    short, pert similes of this sort which seem almost to carry an
    argument in them.]

    [Again] “Caligula spoke justly and admirably when he compared the
    sentences of Seneca _to sand without lime_.”

    [And once more] “He must be a bad writer, or, however, a very
    indifferent one, to whom there are no inequalities. The plants of
    such table-land are diminutive and never worth gathering.… The
    vigorous mind has mountains to climb and valleys to repose in. Is
    there any sea without its shoal? On that which the poet navigates,
    he rises intrepidly as the waves riot around him, and sits
    composedly as they subside.…”

    “Level the Alps one with another, and where is their sublimity?
    Raise up the Vale of Tempe to the downs above, and where are those
    sylvan creeks and harbors in which the imagination watches while the
    soul reposes, those recesses in which the gods partook of the
    weaknesses of mortals, and mortals the enjoyments of the gods.”

The great learning of Landor and his vast information, taken in connection
with his habits of self-indulgence (often of indolence), assure us that he
must have had the rare talent, and the valuable one, of riddling
books--that is, of skimming over them--with such wonderfully quick
exercise of wit and judgment as to segregate the valuable from the
valueless parts. ’Tis not a bad quality; nor is it necessarily (as many
suppose) attended by superficiality. The superficial man does indeed skim
things; but he pounces as squarely and surely upon the bad as upon the
good; he works by mechanical process and progression--here a sentence and
there a sentence; but the man who can race through a book well (as did Dr.
Johnson and Landor), carries to the work--in his own genius for
observation and quick discernment--a chemical mordant that bites and shows
warning effervescence, and a signal to stay, only where there is something
strong to bite.


_Landor’s Domesticities._

Meanwhile, we have a sorry story to tell of Landor’s home belongings.
There is a storm brewing in that beautiful villa of Fiesole. Children have
been born to the house, and he pets them, fondles them--seems to love them
absorbingly. Little notelets which pass when they are away, at Naples, at
Rome, are full of pleasantest paternal banter and yearning. But those
children have run wild and are as vagrant as the winds.

The home compass has no fixed bearings and points all awry--the mother,
never having sympathy with the work which had tasked Landor in those
latter years, has, too, her own outside vanities and a persistent
petulance, which breaks out into rasping speech when Jupiter flings his
thunder-bolts. So Landor, in a strong rage of determination, breaks away:
turns his back on wife and children--providing for them, however,
generously--and goes to live again at Bath, in England.

For twenty-three years he stays there, away from his family (remembering,
perhaps, in self-exculpating way, how Shakespeare had once done much the
same), rambling over his old haunts, writing new verse, revamping old
books, petting his Pomeranian dog, entertaining admiring guests, fuming
and raving when crossed. He was more dangerously loud, too, than of old;
and at last is driven away, to escape punishment for some scathing libels
into which a storm of what he counted righteous rage has betrayed him. It
must have been a pitiful thing to see this old, white-haired man--past
eighty now--homeless, as good as childless, skulking, as it were, in
London, just before sailing for the Continent,--appearing suddenly at
Forster’s house, seated upon his bed there, with Dickens in presence,
mumbling about Latin poetry and its flavors!

He finds his way to Genoa, then to Florence, then to the Fiesole Villa
once more; but it would seem as if there were no glad greetings on either
side; and in a few days estrangement comes again, and he returns to
Florence. Twice or thrice more those visits to Fiesole are repeated, in
the vague hope, it would seem, floating in the old man’s mind, that by
some miracle of heaven, aspects would change there--or perhaps in him--and
black grow white, and gloom sail away under some new blessed gale from
Araby. But it does never come; nor ever the muddied waters of that home
upon the Florentine hills flow pure and bright again.


_Final Exile and Death._

He goes back--eighty-five now--toothless, and trembling under weight of
years and wranglings, to the Via Nunziatina, in Florence; he has no means
now--having despoiled himself for the benefit of those living at his
Villa of Fiesole, who will not live with him, or he with them; he is
largely dependent upon a brother in England. He passes a summer, in these
times, with the American sculptor Story. He receives occasional wandering
friends; has a new pet of a dog to fondle.

There is always a trail of worshipping women and poetasters about him to
the very last; but the bad odor of his Bath troubles has followed him;
Normanby, the British Minister, will give him no recognition; but there is
no bending, no flinching in this great, astute, imperious, headstrong,
ill-balanced creature. Indeed, he carries now under his shock of white
hair, and in his tottering figure, a stock of that coarse virility which
has distinguished him always--which for so many has its charm, and which
it is hard to reconcile with the tender things of which he was
capable;--for instance, that interview of Agamemnon and Iphigenia--so
cunningly, delicately, and so feelingly told--as if the story were all his
own, and had no Greek root--other than what found hold in the greensward
of English Warwickshire. And I close our talk of Landor, by citing this:
Iphigenia has heard her doom (you know the story); she must die by the
hands of the priest--or, the ships, on which her father’s hopes and his
fortunes rest, cannot sail. Yet, she pleads;--there may have been mistakes
in interpreting the cruel oracle,--there may be hope still,--

    “The Father placed his cheek upon her head
    And tears dropt down it; but, the king of men
    Replied not: Then the maiden spoke once more,--
    ‘O, Father, says’t thou nothing? Hear’st thou not
    _Me_, whom thou ever hast, until this hour,
    Listened to--fondly; and awakened me
    To hear my voice amid the voice of birds
    When it was inarticulate as theirs,
    And the down deadened it within the nest.’
    He moved her gently from him, silent still:
    And this, and this alone, brought tears from her
    Although she saw fate nearer: then, with sighs,--
    ‘I thought to have laid down my hair before
    Benignant Artemis, and not have dimmed
    Her polisht altar with my virgin blood;
    I thought to have selected the white flowers
    To please the Nymphs, and to have asked of each
    By name, and with no sorrowful regret,
    Whether, since both my parents willed the change,
    I might at Hymen’s feet bend my clipt brow,
    And--(after those who mind us girls the most)
    Adore our own Athena, that she would
    Regard me mildly with her azure eyes;
    But--Father! to see you no more, and see
    Your love, O Father! go, ere I am gone.’
    Gently he moved her off, and drew her back,
    Bending his lofty head far over hers,
    And the dark depths of nature heaved and burst:
    He turned away: not far, but silent still:
    She now first shuddered; for in him--so nigh,
    So long a silence seemed the approach of death
    And like it. Once again, she raised her voice,--
    ‘O Father! if the ships are now detained
    And all your vows move not the Gods above
    When the knife strikes me, there will be one prayer
    The less to them; and, purer can there be
    Any, or more fervent, than the daughter’s prayer
    For her dear father’s safety and success?’
    A groan that shook him, shook not his Resolve.
    An aged man now entered, and without
    One word, stept slowly on, and took the wrist
    Of the pale maiden. She looked up and saw
    The fillet of the priest, and calm cold eyes:
    Then turned she, where her parent stood and cried,--
    ‘O, Father! grieve no more! the ships can sail!’”

When we think of Landor, let us forget his wrangles--forget his wild
impetuosities--forget his coarsenesses, and his sad, lonely death;
and--instead--keep in mind, if we can, that sweet picture I have given
you.


_Prose of Leigh Hunt._

It was some two years before George IV. came to the Regency, and at nearly
the same date with the establishment of Murray’s _Quarterly_, that Mr.
Leigh Hunt,[50] in company with his brother John Hunt, set up a paper
called the _Examiner_--associated in later days with the strong names of
Fonblanque and Forster. This paper was of a stiffly Whiggish and radical
sort, and very out-spoken--so that when George IV., as Regent, seemed to
turn his back on old Whig friends, and show favors to the Tories (as he
did), Mr. Leigh Hunt wrote such sneering and abusive articles about the
Regent that he was prosecuted, fined, and clapped into prison, where he
stayed two years. They were lucky two years for him--making reputation for
his paper and for himself; his friends and family dressed up his prison
room with flowers (he loved overmuch little luxuries of that sort);
Byron, Moore, Godwin, and the rest all came to see him; and there he
caught the first faint breezes of that popular applause which blew upon
him in a desultory and rather languid way for a good many years
afterward--not wholly forsaking him when he had grown white-haired, and
had brought his delicate, fine, but somewhat feeble pen into the modern
courts of criticism.

I do not suppose that anybody in our day goes into raptures over the
writings of Leigh Hunt; nevertheless, we must bring him upon our
record--all the more since there was American blood in him. His father,
Isaac Hunt, was born in the Barbadoes, and studied in Philadelphia; in the
latter city, Dr. Franklin and Tom Paine used to be visitors at his
grandfather’s house. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Hunt’s father,
who--notwithstanding his Philadelphia wife--was a bitter loyalist, went to
England--his departure very much quickened by some threats of punishing
his aggressive Toryism. He appears in England as a clergyman--ultimately
wedded to Unitarian doctrines; finding his way sometimes to the studio of
Benjamin West--talking over Pennsylvania affairs with that famous artist,
and encountering there, as it chanced, John Trumbull, a student in
painting--who in after years bequeathed an art-gallery to Yale College. It
happens, too, that this Colonel Trumbull, in 1812, when the American war
was in progress, was suspected as a spy, and escaped grief mainly by the
intervention of Isaac Hunt.

The young Hunt began early to write--finding his way into journalism of
all sorts; his name associated sooner or later with _The News_, and
dramatic critiques; with the _Examiner_, the _Reflector_, the _Indicator_,
the _Companion_, and the _Liberal_--for which latter he dragged his family
down into Italy at the instance of Byron or Shelley, or both. That
_Liberal_ was intended to astonish people and make the welkin ring; but
the Italian muddle was a bad one, the _Liberal_ going under, and an ugly
quarrel setting in; Hunt revenging himself afterward by writing _Lord
Byron and his Contemporaries_,--a book he ultimately regretted: he was
never strong enough to make his bitterness respected. Honeyed words became
him better; and these he dealt out--wave upon wave--on all sorts of
unimportant themes. Thus, he writes upon “Sticks”; and again upon
“Maid-servants”; again on “Bees and Butterflies” (which is indeed very
pretty); and again “Upon getting up of a cold morning”--in which he
compassionates those who are haled out of their beds by “harpy-footed
furies”--discourses on his own experience and sees his own breath rolling
forth like smoke from a chimney, and the windows frosted over.

    “Then the servant comes in: ‘It is very cold this morning, is it
    not?’ ‘Very cold, sir.’ ‘Very cold, indeed, isn’t it?’ ‘Very cold,
    indeed, sir.’ ‘More than usually so, isn’t it, even for this
    weather?’ ‘Why, sir, I think it _is_, sir.’… And then the hot water
    comes: ‘And is it quite hot? And isn’t it too hot?’ And what ‘an
    unnecessary and villainous custom this is of shaving.’”

Whereupon he glides off, in words that flow as easily as water from a
roof--into a disquisition upon flowing beards--instancing Cardinal Bembo
and Michelangelo, Plato and the Turks. Listen again to what he has to say
in his _Indicator_ upon “A Coach”:--

    “It is full of cushions and comfort; elegantly colored inside and
    out; rich yet neat; light and rapid, yet substantial. The horses
    seem proud to draw it. The fat and fair-wigged coachman lends his
    sounding lash, his arm only in action, and that but little; his body
    well set with its own weight. The footman, in the pride of his
    nonchalance, holding by the straps behind, and glancing down
    sideways betwixt his cocked hat and neckcloth, standing swinging
    from East to West upon his springy toes. The horses rush along
    amidst their glancing harness. Spotted dogs leap about them, barking
    with a princely superfluity of noise. The hammer cloth trembles
    through all its fringe. The paint flashes in the sun.”

Nothing can be finer--if one likes that sort of fineness. We follow such a
writer with no sense of his having addressed our intellectual nature, but
rather with a sense of pleasurable regalement to our nostrils by some high
wordy perfume.

Hawthorne, in _Our Old Home_, I think, tells us that even to extreme age,
the boyishness of the man’s nature shone through and made Hunt’s speech
like the chirp of a bird; he never tired of gathering his pretty roses of
words. It is hard to think of such a man doing serious service in the role
of radical journalist--as if he _could_ speak dangerous things! And yet,
who can tell? They say Robespierre delighted in satin facings to his
coat, and was never without his _boutonnière_.

We all know the figure of Harold Skimpole, in Dickens’s _Bleak House_,
with traits so true to Leigh Hunt’s, that the latter’s friends held up a
warning finger, and said: “For shame!” to the novelist. Indeed, I think
Dickens felt relentings in his later years, and would have retouched the
portrait; but a man who paints with flesh and blood pigments cannot
retouch.

Certain it is that the household of Hunt was of a ram-shackle sort, and he
and his always very much out at ends. Even Carlyle, who was a neighbor at
Chelsea, was taken aback at the easy way in which Hunt confronted the
butcher-and-baker side of life; and the kindly Mrs. Carlyle drops a
half-querulous mention of her shortened larder and the periodic borrowings
of the excellent Mrs. Hunt.


_Hunt’s Verse._

But over all this we stretch a veil now, woven out of the little poems
that he has left. He wrote no great poems, to be sure; for here, as in
his prose, he is earnestly bent on carving little baskets out of
cherry-stones--little figures on cherry-stones--dainty hieroglyphics, but
always on cherry-stones!

His “Rimini,” embodying that old Dantesque story about Giovanni and Paolo
and Francesca, is his longest poem. There are exceedingly pretty and
delicate passages in it; I quote one or two:

    “For leafy was the road with tall array
    On either side of mulberry and bay,
    And distant snatches of blue hills between;
    And there the alder was, with its bright green,
    And the broad chestnut, and the poplar’s shoot
    That, like a feather, waves from head to foot;
    With ever and anon majestic pines;
    And still, from tree to tree, the early vines
    Hung, garlanding the way in amber lines.
    …
    And then perhaps you entered upon shades,
    Pillowed with dells and uplands ’twixt the glades
    Through which the distant palace, now and then,
    Looked forth with many windowed ken--
    A land of trees which, reaching round about,
    In shady blessing stretched their old arms out
    With spots of sunny opening, and with nooks
    To lie and read in--sloping into brooks,
    Where at her drink you started the slim deer,
    Retreating lightly with a lovely fear.
    And all about the birds kept leafy house,
    And sung and sparkled in and out the boughs,
    And all about a lovely sky of blue
    Clearly was felt, or down the leaves laughed through.”

And so on--executed with ever so much of delicacy--but not a sign or a
symbol of the grave and melancholy tone which should equip, even to the
utmost hem of its descriptive passages, that tragic story of Dante.

Those deft, little feathery touches--about deer, and birds, and leafy
houses, are not scored with the seriousness which in every line and pause
should be married with the intensity of the story. The painting of Mr.
Watts, of the dead Francesca--ghastly though it be--has more in it to
float one out into the awful current of Dante’s story than a world of the
happy wordy meshes of Mr. Hunt. A greater master would have brought in,
maybe, all those natural beauties of the landscape--the woods, the
fountains, the clear heaven--but they would all have been toned down to
the low, tragic movement, which threatens, and creeps on and on, and which
dims even the blue sky with forecast of its controlling gloom.

There is no such inaptness or inadequacy where Leigh Hunt writes of
crickets and grasshoppers and musical boxes. In his version of the old
classic story of “Hero and Leander,” however, the impertinence (if I may
be pardoned the language) of his dainty wordy dexterities is even more
strikingly apparent. _His_ Hero, waiting for her Leander, beside the
Hellespont,

    “Tries some work, forgets it, and thinks on,
    Wishing with perfect love the time were gone,
    And lost to the green trees with their sweet singers,
    Taps on the casement-ledge with idle fingers.”

No--this is not a Greek maiden listening for the surge of the water before
the stalwart swimmer of Abydos; it is a London girl, whom the poet has
seen in a second-story back window, meditating what color she shall put to
the trimming of her Sunday gown!

Far better and more beautiful is this fathoming of the very souls of the
flowers:

          “We are the sweet Flowers,
          Born of sunny showers,
    Think, whene’er you see us, what our beauty saith:
          Utterance mute and bright,
          Of some unknown delight,
    We feel the air with pleasure, by our simple breath;
          All who see us, love us;
          We befit all places;
    Unto sorrow we give smiles; and unto graces, graces.

          “Mark our ways--how noiseless
          All, and sweetly voiceless,
    Though the March winds pipe to make our passage clear;
          Not a whisper tells
          Where our small seed dwells,
    Nor is known the moment green, when our tips appear.
          We tread the earth in silence,
          In silence build our bowers,
    And leaf by leaf in silence show, ’till we laugh atop, sweet Flowers!

    …

          “Who shall say that flowers
          Dress not Heaven’s own bowers?
    Who its love, without them, can fancy--or sweet floor?
          Who shall even dare
          To say we sprang not there,
    And came not down that Love might bring one piece of heav’n the more?
          Oh, pray believe that angels
          From those blue Dominions
    Brought us in their white laps down, ’twixt their golden pinions.”

No poet of this--or many a generation past--has said a sweeter or more
haunting word for the flowers.

We will not forget the “Abou-ben-Adhem;” nor shall its commonness forbid
our setting this charmingly treated Oriental fable, at the end of our
mention of Hunt--a memorial banderole of verse:--

    “Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw within the moonlight in his room,
    Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,
    An Angel, writing in a book of gold.
    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold;
    And to the presence in the room, he said,--
    ‘What writest thou?’ The Vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord
    Answered, ‘The names of those who love the Lord.’
    ‘And is mine one?’ said Abou. ‘Nay, not so;’
    Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerly still; and said, ‘I pray thee, then,
    Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.’
    The Angel wrote and vanished. The next night
    It came again, with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
    And lo!--Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!”


_An Irish Poet._

Among those who paid their visits of condolence to Leigh Hunt in the days
of his prisonhood, was Moore[51] the author of _Lalla Rookh_ and of _The
Loves of the Angels_. He was not used to paying visits in such quarters,
for he had an instinctive dislike for all uncanny things and disagreeable
places; nor was he ever a great friend of Hunt; but he must have had a
good deal of sympathy with him in that attack upon the Prince Regent which
brought about Hunt’s conviction. Moore, too, had his gibes at the
Prince--thinking that great gentleman had been altogether too neglectful
of the dignities of his high estate; but he was very careful that his
gibes should be so modulated as not to put their author in danger.

_Lalla Rookh_ may be little read nowadays; but not many years have passed
since this poem and others of the author’s used to get into the finest of
bindings, and have great currency for bridal and birthday gifts. Indeed,
there is a witching melody in Moore’s Eastern tales, and a delightful
shimmer and glitter of language, which none but the most cunning of our
present craft-masters in verse could reach.

Moore was born in Dublin, his father having kept a wine-shop there; and
his mother (he tells us) was always anxious about the quality of his
companions, and eager to build up his social standing--an anxiety which
was grafted upon the poet himself, and which made him one of the wariest,
and most coy and successful of society-seekers--all his life.

He was at the Dublin University--took easily to languages, and began
spinning off some of _Anacreon’s_ numbers into graceful English, even
before he went up to London--on his old mother’s savings--to study law at
the Temple. He was charmingly presentable in those days; very small, to be
sure, but natty, courteous, with a pretty modesty, and a voice that
bubbled over into music whenever he recited one of his engaging snatches
of melody. He has letters to Lords, too, and the most winning of tender
speeches and smiles for great ladies. He comes to an early interview with
the Prince of Wales--who rather likes the graceful Irish singer, and
flatters him by accepting the dedication of _Anacreon_ with smiles of
condescension--which Mr. Moore perhaps counted too largely upon. Never
had a young literary fellow of humble birth a better launch upon London
society. His Lords’ letters, and his pretty conciliatory ways, get him a
place of value (when scarce twenty-four) in Bermuda. But he is not the man
to lose his hold on London; so he goes over seas only to put a deputy in
place, and then, with a swift run through our Atlantic cities, is back
again. It is rather interesting to read now what the young poet says of us
in those green days:--In Philadelphia, it appears, the people quite ran
after him:

    “I was much caressed while there.… and two or three little poems, of
    a very flattering kind, some of their choicest men addressed to me.”
    [And again.] “Philadelphia is the only place in America which can
    boast any literary society.” [Boston people, I believe, never
    admired Moore overmuch.]

Here again is a bit from his diary at Ballston--which was the Saratoga of
that day:--

    “There were about four hundred people--all stowed in a miserable
    boarding-house. They were astonished at our asking for basons and
    towels in our rooms; and thought we might condescend to come down to
    the Public Wash, with the other gentlemen, in the morning.”

Poor, dainty, Moore! But he is all right when he comes back to London, and
gives himself to old occupations of drawing-room service, and to the
coining of new, and certainly very sweet and tender, Irish melodies. He
loved to be tapped on the shoulder by great Dowagers, sparkling in
diamonds, and to be entreated--“Now, dear Mr. Moore, _do_ sing us one more
song.”

And it was pretty sure to come: he delighted in giving his very feeling
and musical voice range over the heads of fine-feathered women. The
peacock’s plumes, the shiver of the crystal, the glitter of Babylon,
always charmed him.

Nor was it all only tinkling sound that he gave back. For proof I cite one
or two bits:--

    “Then I sing the wild song, ’twas once such a pleasure to hear,
    When our voices commingling breathed, like one, on the ear;
    And, as Echo far off thro’ the vale, my sad orison rolls,
    I think, O my love! ’tis thy voice from the Kingdom of Souls
    Faintly answering still the notes that once were so dear.”

And again:--

    “Dear Harp of my Country! farewell to thy numbers,
      This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine.
    Go sleep, with the Sunshine of Fame on thy slumbers,
      Till touched by some hand less unworthy than mine.

    “If the pulse of the patriot, soldier, or lover
      Have throbbed at our lay, ’tis thy glory alone;
    I was _but_ as the wind, passing heedlessly over,
      And all the wild sweetness I wak’d was thy own.”

This is better than dynamite to stir Ireland’s best pulses, even now.


_Lalla Rookh._

Mr. Moore had his little country vacations--among them, that notable stay
up in the lovely county of Derbyshire, near to Ashbourne and Dovedale, and
the old fishing grounds of Walton and of Cotton--where he wrote the larger
part of his first considerable poem, _Lalla Rookh_--which had amazing
success, and brought to its author the sum of £3,000. But I do not think
that what inspiration is in it came to him from the hollows or the heights
of Derbyshire; I should rather trace its pretty Oriental confusion of
sound and scenes to the jingle of London chandeliers. Yet the web, the
gossamer, the veils and the flying feet do not seem to touch ground
anywhere in England, but shift and change and grow out of his Eastern
readings and dreams.

Moore married at thirty-two--after he was known for the Irish melodies,
but before the publication of _Lalla Rookh_; and in his _Letters and
Diary_ (if you read them--though they make an enormous mass to read, and
frighten most people away by their bulk), you will come upon very
frequent, and very tender mention of “Dear Bessie”--the wife. It is true,
there were rumors that he wofully neglected her, but hardly well founded.
Doubtless there was many a day and many a week when she was guarding the
cottage and the children at Sloperton; and he bowing and pirouetting his
way amongst the trailing robes of their ladyships who loved music and
literature in London; but how should he refuse the invitations of his
Lordship this or that? Or how should she--who has no robes that will stand
alone--bring her pretty home gowns into that blazon of the salons? Always,
too (if his letters may be trusted), he is eager to make his escape
between whiles--wearied of this _tintamarre_--and to rush away to his
cottage at Sloperton[52] for a little slippered ease, and a romp with the
children. Poor children--they all drop away, one by one--two only reaching
maturity--then dying. The pathetic stories of the sickening, the danger
and the hush, come poignantly into his Diary, and it does seem that the
winning clatter of the world gets a hold upon his wrenched heart
over-quickly again. But what right have you or I to judge in such matters?

There are chirrupy little men--and women, too,--on whom grief does not
seem to take a hard grip; all the better for them! Moore, I think, was
such a one, and was braced up always and everywhere by his own healthy
pulses, and, perhaps, by a sense of his own sufficiency. His vanities are
not only elastic, but--by his own bland and child-like admissions--they
seem sometimes almost monumental. He writes in his _Diary_, “Shiel
(that’s an Irish friend) says I am the first poet of the day, and join the
beauty of the Bird-of-Paradise’s plumes to the strength of the eagle’s
wing.” Fancy a man copying that sort of thing into his own _Diary_, and
regaling himself with it!

Yet he is full of good feeling--does not cherish resentments--lets who
will pat him on the shoulder (though he prefers a lord’s pat). Then he
forgives injuries or slights grandly; was once so out with Jeffrey that a
duel nearly came of it; but afterward was his hail-fellow and good friend
for years. Sometimes he shows a magnanimous strain--far more than his
artificialities of make-up would seem to promise. Thus, being at issue
with the publisher, John Murray (a long-dated difference), he determines
on good advisement to be away with it; and so goes smack into the den of
the great publisher and gives him his hand: such action balances a great
deal of namby-pambyism.

But what surprises more than all about Moore, is the very great reputation
that he had in his day. We, in these latter times, have come to reckon him
(rather rashly, perhaps) only an arch gossipper of letters--a butterfly of
those metropolitan gardens--easy, affable, witty, full of smiles, full of
good feeling, full of pretty little rhythmical utterances--singing songs
as easy as a sky-lark (and leaving the sky thereafter as empty); planting
nothing that lifts great growth, or tells larger tale than lies in his own
lively tintinnabulation of words.

Yet Byron said of him: “There is nothing Moore may not do, if he sets
about it.” Sydney Smith called him “A gentleman of small stature, but full
of genius, and a steady friend of all that is honorable.” Leigh Hunt says:
“I never received a visit from him, but I felt as if I had been talking
with Prior or Sir Charles Sedley.” It is certain that he must have been a
most charming companion. Walter Scott says: “It would be a delightful
addition to life if Thomas Moore had a cottage within two miles of me.”
Indeed, he was always quick to scent anything that might amuse, and to
store it up. His diaries overflow with these bright specks and bits of
talk, which may kindle a laugh, but do not nestle in the memory.

But considered as a poet whose longish work ought to live and charm the
coming generations, his reputation certainly does not hold to the old
illuminated heights. Poems of half a century ago, which _Lalla Rookh_
easily outshone, have now put the pretty orientalisms into shade. Nor can
we understand how so many did, and do, put such twain of verse-makers as
Byron and Moore into one leash, as if they were fellows in power. In the
comparison the author of the _Loves of the Angels_ seems to me only a
little important-looking, kindly pug--nicely combed, with ribbons about
the neck--in an embroidered blanket, with jingling bells at its corners;
and Byron--beside him--a lithe, supple leopard, with a tread that
threatens and a dangerous glitter in the eye. Milk diet might sate that
other; but this one, if occasion served, would lap blood.

In the pages that follow we shall, among others, more or less notable,
encounter again that lithe leopard in some of his wanton leaps--into
verse, into marriage, into exile, and into the pit of death at
Missolonghi.



CHAPTER V.


We opened our budget in the last chapter with the _Quarterly Review_,
which was just getting upon its legs through the smart, keen, and hard
writing of Mr. William Gifford. It throve afterward under the coddling of
the most literary of the Tory gentlemen in London, and its title has
always been associated with the names of John Wilson Croker, of Dr.
Southey, and of Mr. Lockhart. It is a journal, too, which has always been
tied by golden bonds to the worship of tradition and of vested privilege,
and which has always been ready with its petulant, impatient bark of
detraction at reform or reformers, or at any books which may have had a
scent of Liberalism. Leigh Hunt, of course, came in for periodic
scathings--some of them deserved; some not deserved. Indeed, I am
half-disposed to repent what may have seemed a too flippant mention of
this very graceful poet and essayist. Of a surety, there is an abounding
affluence of easy language--gushing and disporting over his pages--which
lures one into reading and into dreamy acquiescence; but read as much as
we may, and as long as we will, we shall go away from the reading with a
certain annoyance that there is so little to keep out of it all--so little
that sticks to the ribs and helps.

As for the poet Moore, of whom also we may have spoken in terms which may
seem of too great disparagement to those who have loved to linger in his

                              “Vale of Cashmere
      With its roses, the brightest that earth ever gave.
    Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear
      As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave,”

no matter what may become of these brilliant orientalisms, or of his life
of Byron, or of his diaries, and his “Two-penny Post Bag,” it is certain
that his name will be gratefully kept alive by his sparkling, patriotic,
and most musical Irish melodies; and under that sufficient monument we
leave him.

As for Landor--surely the pages in which we dealt with him were not too
long: a strange, strong bit of manhood--as of one fed on collops of bear’s
meat; a big animal nature, yet wonderfully transfused by a vivid
intellectuality--fine and high--that pierced weighty subjects to their
core; and yet--and yet, singing such heart-shivering tributes as that to
Rose Aylmer: coarse as the bumpkins on the sheep wolds of Lincoln, and yet
with as fine subtleties in him as belonged to the young Greeks who
clustered about the writer of the _Œdipus Tyrannus_.


_The “First Gentleman.”_

King George IV. was an older man than any of those we have commented on;
indeed, he was a prematurely old man at sixty-five--feeling the shivers
and the stings of his wild life: I suppose no one ever felt the approaches
of age more mortifyingly. He had counted so much on being the fine
gentleman to the last--such a height, such a carriage, such a grace! It
was a dark day for him when his mirror showed wrinkles that his cosmetics
would not cover, and a stoop in the shoulders which his tailors could not
bolster out of sight. Indeed, in his later years he shrunk from exposure
of his infirmities, and kept his gouty step out of reach of the curious,
down at Windsor, where he built a cottage in a wood; and arranged his
drives through the Park so that those who had admired this Apollo at his
best should never know of his shakiness. Thither went his conclave of
political advisers--sometimes Canning, the wonderful orator--sometimes the
Duke of Wellington, with the honors of Waterloo upon him--sometimes young
Sir Robert Peel, just beginning to make his influence felt; oftener yet,
Charles Greville, whose memoirs are full of piquant details about the
royal household--not forgetting that army of tailors and hair-dressers who
did their best to assuage the misery and gratify the vanities of the gouty
king. And when he died--which he hated exceedingly to do--in 1830, there
came to light such a multitude of waistcoats, breeches, canes,
snuff-boxes, knee-buckles, whips, and wigs, as I suppose were never
heaped before around any man’s remains. The first gentleman in Europe
could not, after all, carry these things with him. His brother, William
IV., who succeeded him, was a bluff old Admiral--with not so high a sense
of the proprieties of life as George; but honester even in his badnesses
(which were very many) and, with all his coarseness and vulgarity,
carrying a brusque, sailor-like frankness that half redeemed his
peccadilloes. In those stormy times which belonged to the passage of the
Reform Bill of 1832, he showed nerve and pluck, and if he split the air
pretty often with his oaths, he never offended by a wearying
dilettanteism, or by foppery. In the year 1837 he died; and then and there
began--within the memory of a good many of us old stagers--that reign of
his young niece Victoria, daughter of his brother, the Duke of Kent (who
had died seventeen years before)--which reign still continues, and is
still resplendent with the virtues of the Sovereign and the well-being of
her people.

Under these several royal hands, the traditional helpfulness to men of
letters had declared itself in pensions and civil appointments; Southey
had come to his laureateship, and his additional pension; we found the
venerable Wordsworth making a London pilgrimage for a “kissing of hands,”
and the honor of a royal stipend; Walter Scott had received his baronetcy
at the hands of George IV., and that dilettante sovereign would have taken
Byron (whom we shall presently encounter) patronizingly by the hand,
except the fiery poet--scenting slights everywhere--had flamed up in that
spirit of proud defiance, which afterward declared itself with a fury of
denunciation in the _Irish Avatar_ (1821).


_Hazlitt and Hallam._

Another noticeable author of this period, whose cynicism kept him very
much by himself, was William Hazlitt;[53] he was the son of a clergyman
and very precocious--hearing Coleridge preach in his father’s pulpit at
Wem in Shropshire, and feeling his ambition stirred by the notice of that
poet, who was attracted by the shrewd speech and great forehead of the
boy. Young Hazlitt drifts away from such early influences to Paris and to
painting--he thinking to master that art. But in this he does nothing
satisfying; he next appears in London, to carve a way to fame with his
pen. He is an acute observer; he is proud; he is awkward; he is shy.
Charles Lamb and sister greatly befriend him and take to him; and he, with
his hate of conventionalisms, loves those Lamb chambers and the whist
parties, where he can go, in whatever slouch costume he may choose; poor
Mary Lamb, too, perceiving that he has a husband-ish hankering after a
certain female friend of hers--blows hot and cold upon it, in her quaint
little notelets, with a delighted and an undisguised sense of being a
party to their little game. It ended in a marriage at last; not without
its domestic infelicities; but these would be too long, and too dreary for
the telling. Mr. Hazlitt wrote upon a vast variety of topics--upon art,
and the drama, upon economic questions, upon politics--as wide in his
range as Leigh Hunt; and though he was far more trenchant, more shrewd,
more disputatious, more thoughtful, he did lack Hunt’s easy pliancy and
grace of touch. Though a wide reader and acute observer, Hazlitt does not
contend or criticise by conventional rules; his law of measurement is not
by old syntactic, grammatic, or dialectic practices; there’s no imposing
display of critical implements (by which some operators dazzle us), but he
cuts--quick and sharp--to the point at issue. We never forget his
strenuous, high-colored personality, and the seething of his
prejudices--whether his talk is of Napoleon (in which he is not reverent
of average British opinion), or of Sir Joshua Reynolds, or of Burke’s
brilliant oratorical apostrophes. But with fullest recognition of his
acuteness, and independence, there remains a disposition (bred by his
obstinacies and shortcomings) to take his conclusions _cum grano salis_.
He never quite disabuses our mind of the belief that he is a paid
advocate; he never conquers by calm; and, upon the whole, impresses one as
a man who found little worth the living for in this world, and counted
upon very little in any other.

The historian, Henry Hallam,[54] on the other hand, who was another
notable literary character of this epoch, was full of all serenities of
character--even under the weight of such private griefs as were appalling.
He was studious, honest, staid--with a great respect for decorum; he would
have gravitated socially--as he did--rather to Holland House than to the
chambers where Lamb presided over the punch-bowl. In describing the man
one describes his histories; slow, calm, steady even to prosiness, yet
full; not entertaining in a gossipy sense; not brilliant; scarce ever
eloquent. If he is in doubt upon a point he tells you so; if there has
been limitation to his research, there is no concealment of it; I think,
upon the whole, the honestest of all English historians. In his search for
truth, neither party, nor tradition, nor religious scruples make him
waver. None can make their historic journey through the Middle Ages
without taking into account the authorities he has brought to notice, and
the path that he has scored.

And yet there is no atmosphere along that path as he traces it. People and
towns and towers and monarchs pile along it, clearly defined, but in dead
shapes. He had not the art--perhaps he would have disdained the art--to
touch all these with picturesque color, and to make that page of the
world’s history glow and palpitate with life.

Among those great griefs which weighed upon the historian, and to which
allusion has been made, I name that one only with which you are perhaps
familiar--I mean the sudden death of his son Arthur, a youth of rare
accomplishments--counted by many of more brilliant promise than any young
Englishman of his time--yet snatched from life, upon a day of summer’s
travel, as by a thunderbolt. He lies buried in Clevedon Church, which
overhangs the waters of Bristol Channel; and his monument is Tennyson’s
wonderful memorial poem.

I will not quote from it; but cite only the lines “out of which” (says Dr.
John Brown), “as out of the well of the living waters of Love, flows
forth all _In Memoriam_.”

    “Break--break--break
      At the foot of thy crags, O sea:
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
      Will never come back to me.
    And the stately ships go on
      To their haven under the hill;
    But O, for the touch of a vanished hand
      And the sound of a voice that is still.”

I have purposely set before you two strongly contrasted types of English
literary life in that day--in William Hazlitt and Henry Hallam--the first
representing very nearly what we would call the Bohemian element--ready
to-day for an article in the _Edinburgh Review_, and to-morrow for a gibe
in the _Examiner_, or a piece of diablerie in the _London Magazine_;
Hallam, on the other hand, representing the sober and orderly traditions,
colored by the life and work of such men as Hume, Roscoe, and Gibbon.


_Queen of a Salon._

Another group of literary people, of a very varied sort, we should have
found in the salons of my Lady Blessington,[55] who used to hold court on
the Thames--now by Piccadilly, and again at Gore House--in the early part
of this century. She was herself a writer; nor is her personal history
without its significance, as an outgrowth of times when George IV. was
setting the pace for those ambitious of social distinction.

She was the quick-witted daughter of an Irish country gentleman of the
Lucius O’Trigger sort--nicknamed Beau Power. He loved a whip and fast
horses--also dogs, powder, and blare. He wore white-topped boots, with
showy frills and ruffles; he drank hard, swore harder--wasted his fortune,
abused his wife, but was “very fine” to the end. He was as cruel as he was
fine; shot a peasant once, in cold blood, and dragged him home after his
saddle beast. He worried his daughter, Marguerite (Lady Blessington), into
marrying, at fifteen, a man whom she detested. It gave relief, however,
from paternal protection, until the husband proved worse than the father,
and separation ensued--made good (after some years of tumultuous, uneasy
life) by the violent and providential death of the recreant husband.
Shortly after, she married Lord Blessington, a rich Irish nobleman, very
much blasé, seven years her senior, but kind and always generous with her.
Then came travel in a princely way over the Continent, with long stays in
pleasant places, and such lavish spendings as put palaces at their
disposal--of all which a readable and gossipy record is given in her
_Idler in Italy_ and _Idler in France_--books well known, in their day, in
America. Of course she encountered in these ramblings Landor, Shelley,
Byron, and all notable Englishmen, and when she returned to London it was
to establish that brilliant little court already spoken of. She was
admirably fitted for sovereign of such a court; she was witty, ready,
well-instructed; was beautiful, too, and knew every art of the
toilet.[56]

More than this, she was mistress of all the pretty and delicate arts of
conciliation; had amazing aptitude for accommodating herself to different
visitors--flattering men without letting them know they were
flattered--softening difficulties, bringing enemies together, magnetizing
the most obstinate and uncivil into acquiescence with her rules of
procedure. Withal she had in large development those Irish traits of
generosity and cheer, with a natural, winning way, which she studied to
make more and more taking. One of those women who, with wit, prettiness,
and grace, count it the largest, as it is (to them) the most agreeable
duty of life, to be forever making social conquests, and forever reaping
the applause of drawing-rooms. And if we add to the smiles and the witty
banter and the persuasive tones of our lady, the silken hangings, the
velvet carpets, the mirrors multiplying inviting alcoves, with paintings
by Cattermole or Stothard, and marbles, maybe by Chantrey or Westmacott,
and music in its set time by the best of London masters, and cooking in
its season as fine as the music,--and we shall be at no loss to measure
the attractions of Gore House, and to judge of the literary and social
aspects which blazed there on the foggy banks of the Thames. No wonder
that old Samuel Rogers, prince of epicures, should love to carry his
pinched face and his shrunk shanks into such sunny latitudes. Moore, too,
taking his mincing steps into those regions, would find banquets to remind
him of the Bowers of Bendemeer. Possibly, too, the Rev. Sydney Smith,
without the fear of Lady Holland in his heart or eyes, may have pocketed
his dignity as Canon of St. Paul’s and gone thither to taste the delights
of the table or of the talk. Even Hallam, or Southey (on his rare visits
to town), may have gone there. Lady Blessington was always keenly awake
for such arrivals. Even Brougham used to take sometimes his clumsy
presence to her brilliant home; and so, on occasion, did that younger
politician, and accomplished gentleman, Sir Robert Peel. Procter--better
known as Barry Cornwall--the song-writer, was sure to know his way to
those doors and to be welcomed; and Leigh Hunt was always eager to play
off his fine speeches amid such surroundings of wine and music.

The Comte d’Orsay, artist and man of letters, who married (1827) a
daughter of Lord Blessington (step-daughter of the Countess), was a
standing ornament of the house; and rivalling him in their cravats and
other millinery were two young men who had long careers before them. These
were Benjamin Disraeli and Edward Lytton Bulwer.


_Young Bulwer and Disraeli._

It was some years before the passage of the Reform bill, and before the
death of George IV., that Bulwer[57] blazed out in _Pelham_ (1828), _The
Disowned_, and _Devereux_, making conquest of the novel-reading town, at a
time when _Quentin Durward_ (1823) was not an old book, and _Woodstock_
(1826) still fresh. And if Pelhamism had its speedy subsidence, the same
writer put such captivating historic garniture and literary graces about
the Italian studies of _Rienzi_, and of the _Last Days of Pompeii_, as
carry them now into most libraries, and insure an interested
reading--notwithstanding a strong sensuous taint and sentimental
extravagances.

He had scholarship; he had indefatigable industry; he had abounding
literary ambitions and enthusiasms, but he had no humor; I am afraid he
had not a very sensitive conscience; and he had no such pervading
refinement of literary taste as to make his work serve as the exemplar for
other and honester workers.

Benjamin Disraeli[58] in those days overmatched him in cravats and in
waistcoats, and was the veriest fop of all fop-land. No more beautiful
accessory could be imagined to the drawing-room receptions over which Lady
Blessington presided, and of which the ineffable Comte d’Orsay was a
shining and a fixed light, than this young Hebraic scion of a great Judean
house--whose curls were of the color of a raven’s wing, and whose satin
trumpery was ravishing!

And yet--this young foppish Disraeli, within fifty years, held the
destinies of Great Britain in his hand, and had endowed the Queen with the
grandest title she had ever worn--that of Empress of India. Still further,
in virtue of his old friendship for his fellow fop Bulwer, he sends the
son of that novelist (in the person of the second Lord Lytton) to preside
over a nation numbering two hundred millions of souls. Whoever can
accomplish these ends with such a people as that of Great Britain must
needs have something in him beyond mere fitness for the pretty salons of
my Lady Blessington.

And what was it? Whatever you may count it, there is surely warrant for
telling you something of his history and his antecedents: Three or more
centuries ago--at the very least--a certain Jew of Cordova, in Spain,
driven out by the terrors of the Inquisition, went to Venice--established
himself there in merchandise, and his family throve there for two hundred
years. A century and a half ago,--when the fortunes of Venice were plainly
on the wane--the head of this Jewish family--Benjamin Disraeli
(grandfather of the one of whom we speak) migrated to England. This first
English Benjamin met with success on the Exchange of London, and owing to
the influences of his wife (who hated all Jewry) he discarded his
religious connection with Hebraism, went to the town of Enfield, a little
north of London--with a good fortune, and lived there the life of a
retired country gentleman. He had a son Isaac, who devoted himself to the
study of literature, and showed early strong bookish proclivities--very
much to the grief of his father, who had a shrewd contempt for all such
follies. Yet the son Isaac persisted, and did little else through a long
life, save to prosecute inquiries about the struggles of authors and the
lives of authors and the work of authors--all ending in that agglomeration
which we know as the _Curiosities of Literature_--a book which sixty years
since used to be reckoned a necessary part of all well-equipped
libraries; but which--to tell truth--has very little value; being without
any method, without fulness, and without much accuracy. It is very rare
that so poor a book gets so good a name, and wears it so long.

Oddly enough, this father, who had devoted a life to the mere gossip of
literature, as it were, warns his son Benjamin against literary pursuits
(he wrote three or four novels indeed,[59] but they are never heard of),
and the son studied mostly under private tutors; there is no full or
trustworthy private biography of him: but we know that in the years
1826-1827--only a short time before the Lady Blessington coterie was in
its best feather--he wrote a novel called _Vivian Grey_,--the author being
then under twenty-two--which for a time divided attention with _Pelham_.
In club circles it made even more talk. It is full of pictures of people
of the day; Brougham and Wilson Croker, and Southey, and George Canning,
and Mrs. Coutts and Lady Melbourne (Caroline Lamb), all figure in it. He
never gave over, indeed, putting portraits in his books--as Goldwin Smith
can tell us. The larger Reviews were coy of praise and coy of
condemnation: indeed ’twas hard to say which way it pointed--socially or
politically; but, for the scandal-mongers, there was in it very appetizing
meat. He became a lion of the salons; and he enjoyed the lionhood vastly.
Chalon[60] painted him in that day--a very Adonis--gorgeous in velvet coat
and in ruffled shirt.

But he grew tired of England and made his trip of travel; it followed by
nearly a score of years after that of Childe Harold, and was doubtless
largely stimulated by it; three years he was gone--wandering over all the
East, as well as Europe. He came back with an epic (published 1834),
believing that it was to fill men’s minds, and to conquer a place for him
among the great poets of the century. In this he was dismally mistaken; so
he broke his lyre, and that was virtually the last of his poesy. There
came, however, out of these journeyings, besides the poem, the stories of
_Contarini Fleming_, of _The Young Duke_, and _The Wondrous Tale of
Alroy_. These kept his fame alive, but seemed after all only the work of a
man playing with literature, rather than of one in earnest.

With ambition well sharpened now, by what he counted neglect, he turned to
politics; as the son of a country gentleman of easy fortune, it was not
difficult to make place for himself. Yet, with all the traditions of a
country gentleman about him, in his first moves he was not inclined to
Toryism; indeed, he startled friends by his radicalism--was inclined to
shake hands at the outset with the arch-agitator O’Connell; but not
identifying himself closely with either party; and so, to the last it
happened that his sympathies were halved in most extraordinary way; he had
the concurrence of the most staid, Toryish, and conservative of country
voters; and no man could, like himself, bring all the jingoes of England
howling at his back. Indeed, nothing is more remarkable in his career than
his shrewd adaptation of policy to meet existing, or approaching tides of
feeling; he does not avow great convictions of duty, and stand by them;
but he toys with convictions; studies the weakness, as he does the power,
of those with him or against him; shifts his ground accordingly; rarely
lacking poise, and the attitude of seeming steadfastness; whipping with
his scourge of a tongue the little lapses of his adversaries till they
shrill all over the kingdom; and putting his own triumphs--great or
small--into such scenic combination, with such beat of drum, and blare of
trumpet, as to make all England break out into bravos.[61] There was not
that literary quality in his books, either early or late, which will give
to them, I think, a very long life; but there was in the man a quality of
shrewdness and of power which will be long remembered--perhaps not always
to his honor.

I do not yield to any in admiration for the noble and philanthropic
qualities which belong to the venerable, retired statesman of Hawarden;
yet I cannot help thinking that if such a firm and audacious executive
hand as belonged to Lord Beaconsfield, had--in the season of General
Gordon’s stress at Khartoum--controlled the fleets and armies of Great
Britain, there would have been quite other outcome to the sad imbroglio in
the Soudan. When war is afoot, the apostles of peace are the poorest of
directors.

I go back for a moment to that Blessington Salon--in order to close her
story. There was a narrowed income--a failure of her jointure--a
shortening of her book sales; but, notwithstanding, there was a long
struggle to keep that brilliant little court alive. One grows to like so
much the music and the fêtes and the glitter of the chandeliers, and the
unction of flattering voices! But at last the ruin came; on a sudden the
sheriffs were there; and clerks with their inventories in place of the
“Tokens” and “annuals”--with their gorgeous engravings by Finden &
Heath--which the Mistress had exploited; and she hurried off--after the
elegant D’Orsay--to Paris, hoping to rehabilitate herself, on the Champs
Elysées, under the wing of Louis Napoleon, just elected President. I
chanced to see her in her coupé there, on a bright afternoon early in
1849--with elegant silken wraps about her and a shimmer of the old kindly
smile upon her shrunken face--dashing out to the Bois; but within three
months there was another sharp change; she--dead, and her pretty
_decolleté_ court at an end forever.


_The Poet of Newstead._

The reminiscences and conversations of Lord Byron, which we have at the
hands of Lady Blessington, belong to a time, of course, much earlier than
her series of London triumphs, and date with her journeys in Italy. A
score of years at least before ever the chandeliers of her Irish ladyship
were lighted in Gore House, Byron[62] had gone sailing away from England
under a storm of wrath; and he never came back again. Indeed it is not a
little extraordinary that one of the most typical of English poets,
should--like Landor, with whom he had many traits in common--have passed
so little of his active life on English ground. Like Landor, he loved
England most when England was most behind him. Like Landor, he was gifted
with such rare powers as belonged to few Englishmen of that generation. In
Landor these powers, so far as they expressed themselves in literary form,
were kept in check by the iron rulings of a scrupulous and exacting
craftsmanship; while in Byron they broke all trammels, whether of
craftsmanship or reason, and glowed and blazed the more by reason of their
audacities. Both were prone to great tempests of wrath which gave to both
furious joys, and, I think, as furious regrets.

Byron came by his wrathfulness in good hereditary fashion--as we shall
find if we look back only a little way into the records of that Newstead
family. Newstead Abbey (more properly Priory, the archæologists tell us)
is the name of that great English home--half a ruin--associated with the
early years of the poet, but never for much time or in any true sense a
home of his own. It is some ten miles north of Nottingham, in an
interesting country, where lay the old Sherwood Forest, with its
traditions of Robin Hood; there is a lichened Gothic front which explains
the Abbey name; there are great rambling corridors and halls; there is a
velvety lawn, with the monument to “Boatswain,” the poet’s dog; but one
who goes there--with however much of Byronic reading in his or her
mind--will not, I think, warm toward the locality; and the curious
foot-traveller will incline to trudge away in a hunt for Annesley, and the
“Antique Oratory.”

Well, in that ancient home, toward the end of the last century, there
lived, very much by himself, an old Lord Byron, who some thirty years
before, in a fit of wild rage, had killed a neighbor and kinsman of the
name of Chaworth; there was indeed a little show of a duel about the
murder--which was done in a London tavern, and by candle-light. His
peerage, however, only saved this “wicked lord,” as he was called, from
prison; and at Newstead his life smouldered out in 1798, under clouds of
hate, and of distrust. His son was dead before him; so was his grandson,
the last heir in direct line; but he had a younger brother, John, who was
a great seaman--who published accounts of his voyages,[63] which seem
always to have been stormy, and which lend, maybe, some realistic touches
to the shipwreck scenes in “Don Juan.” A son of this voyager was the
father of the poet, and was reputed to be as full of wrath and turbulence
as his uncle who killed the Chaworth; and his life was as thick with
disaster as that of the unlucky voyager. His first marriage was a runaway
one with a titled lady, whose heart he broke, and who died leaving that
lone daughter who became the most worthy Lady Augusta Leigh. For second
wife he married Miss Gordon, a Scotch heiress, the mother of the poet,
whose fortune he squandered, and whose heart also he would have broken--if
it had been of a breaking quality. With such foregoers of his own name,
one might look for bad blood in the boy; nor was his mother saint-like;
she had her storms of wrath; and from the beginning, I think, gave her boy
only cruel milk to drink.

His extreme boyhood was passed near to Aberdeen, with the Highlands not
far off. How much those scenes impressed him, we do not know; but that
some trace was left may be found in verses written near his death:--

    “He who first met the Highland’s swelling blue
    Will love each peak that shows a kindred hue;
    Hail in each crag a friend’s familiar face
    And clasp the mountain in his mind’s embrace.”

When the boy was ten, the wicked lord who had killed the Chaworth died;
and the Newstead inheritance fell to the young poet. We can imagine with
what touch of the pride that shivers through so many of his poems, this
lad--just lame enough to make him curse that unlucky fate--paced first
down the hall at Newstead--thenceforth master there--a Peer of England.

But the estate was left in sorry condition; the mother could not hold it
as a residence; so they went to Nottingham--whereabout the boy seems to
have had his first schooling. Not long afterward we find him at Harrow,
not far out of London, where he makes one or two of the few friendships
which abide; there, too, he gives first evidence of his power over
language.

It is at about this epoch, also, that on his visits to Nottingham--which
is not far from the Chaworth home of Annesley--comes about the spinning of
those little webs of romance which are twisted afterward into the
beautiful Chaworth “Dream.” It is an old story to tell, yet how
everlastingly fresh it keeps!

    “The maid was on the eve of womanhood;
    The boy had fewer summers, but his heart
    Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye
    There was but one beloved face on earth,
    And that was shining on him; he had looked
    Upon it till it could not pass away;
    He had no breath, nor being, but in hers,
    She was his voice … upon a tone,
    A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow,
    And his cheek change tempestuously--his heart
    Unknowing of its cause of agony.”

As a matter of fact, Miss Chaworth was two years older, and far more
mature than he; she was gentle too, and possessed of a lady-like calm,
which tortured him--since he could not break it down. Indeed, through all
the time when he was sighing, she was looking over his head at Mr.
Musters--who was bluff and hearty, and who rode to the hounds, and was an
excellent type of the rollicking, self-satisfied, and beef-eating English
squire--whom she married.


_Early Verse and Marriage._

After this episode came Cambridge, and those _Hours of Idleness_ which
broke out into verse, and caught the scathing lash of Henry Brougham--then
a young, but well-known, advocate, who was conspiring with Sydney Smith
and Jeffrey (as I have told you) to renovate the world through the pages
of the _Edinburgh Review_.

But this lashing brought a stinging reply; and the clever, shrewd, witty
couplets of Byron’s satire upon the Scottish Reviewers (1809), convinced
all scholarly readers that a new and very piquant pen had come to the
making of English verse. Nor were Byron’s sentimentalisms of that day all
so crude and ill-shapen as Brougham would have led the public to suppose.
I quote a fragment from a little poem under date of 1808--he just twenty:

    “The dew of the morning
      Sunk chill on my brow
    It felt like the warning
      Of what I feel now,
    Thy vows are all broken
      And light is thy fame;
    I hear thy name spoken,
      And share in its shame.

    “They name thee before me,
      A knell to mine ear;
    A shudder comes o’er me--
      Why wert thou so dear?
    They know not I knew thee,
      Who knew thee too well;
    Long, long shall I rue thee
      Too deeply to tell.”

Naturally enough, our poet is beaming with the success of his satire,
which is widely read, and which has made him foes of the first rank; but
what cares he for this? He goes down with a company of fellow roisterers,
and makes the old walls of Newstead ring with the noisy celebration of his
twenty-first birthday; and on the trail of that country revel, and with
the sharp, ringing couplets of his “English Bards” crackling on the public
ear, he breaks away for his first joyous experience of Continental travel.
This takes him through Spain and to the Hellespont and among the isles of
Greece--seeing visions there and dreaming dreams, all which are braided
into that tissue of golden verse we know as the first two cantos of
_Childe Harold_.

On his return, and while as yet this poem of travel is on the eve of
publication, he prepares himself for a new _coup_ in Parliament--being not
without his oratorical ambitions. It was in February of 1812 that he made
his maiden speech in the House of Lords--carefully worded, calm, not
without quiet elegancies of diction--but not meeting such reception as his
extravagant expectation demanded; whatever he does, he wishes met with a
tempest of approval; a dignified welcome, to his fiery nature, seems cold.

But the publication of _Childe Harold_, only a short time later, brings
compensating torrents of praise. His satire had piqued attention without
altogether satisfying it; there was little academic merit in it--none of
the art which made _Absalom and Achitophel_ glow, or which gleamed upon
the sword-thrusts of the _Dunciad_; but its stabs were business-like; its
couplets terse, slashing, and full of truculent, scorching _vires iræ_.
This other verse, however, of _Childe Harold_--which took one upon the
dance of waves and under the swoop of towering canvass to the groves of
“Cintra’s glorious Eden,” and among those Spanish vales where Dark
Guadiana “rolls his power along;” and thence on, by proud Seville, and
fair Cadiz, to those shores of the Egean, where

    “Still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields,--”[64]

was of quite another order. There is in it, moreover, the haunting
personality of the proud, broken-spirited wanderer, who tells the tale and
wraps himself in the veil of mysterious and piquant sorrows: Withal there
is such dash and spirit, such mastery of language, such marvellous
descriptive power, such subtle pauses and breaks, carrying echoes beyond
the letter--as laid hold on men and women--specially on women--in a way
that was new and strange. And this bright meteor had flashed athwart a sky
where such stars as Southey, and Scott, and Rogers, and the almost
forgotten Crabbe, and Coleridge, and Wordsworth had been beaming for many
a day. Was it strange that the doors of London should be flung wide open
to this fresh, brilliant singer who had blazed such a path through Spain
and Greece, and who wore a coronet upon his forehead?

He was young, too, and handsome as the morning; and must be mated--as all
the old dowagers declared. So said his friends--his sister chiefest among
them; and the good Lady Melbourne (mother-in-law of Lady Caroline
Lamb)--not without discreet family reasons of her own--fixed upon her
charming niece, Miss Milbanke, as the one with whom the new poet should be
coupled, to make his way through the wildernesses before him. And there
were other approvals; even Tom Moore--who, of all men, knew his habits
best--saying a reluctant “Yes”--after much hesitation. And so, through a
process of coy propositions and counter-propositions, the marriage was
arranged at last, and came about down at Seaham House (near
Stockton-on-Tees), the country home of the father, Sir Ralph Milbanke.

    “Her face was fair, but was not that which made
    The starlight of his boyhood; as he stood
    Even at the altar, o’er his brow there came
    The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock
    That in the Antique Oratory shook
    His bosom in its solitude; and then--
    As in that hour--a moment o’er his face
    The tablet of unutterable thoughts
    Was traced; and then it faded as it came,
    And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke
    The fitting vows, but heard not his own words,
    And all things reeled around him.”[65]

Yet the service went on to its conclusion; and the music pealed, and the
welcoming shouts broke upon the air, and the adieux were spoken; and
together, they two drove away--into the darkness.



CHAPTER VI.


Our last chapter brought us into the presence of that vivacious specimen
of royalty, George IV., who “shuffled off this mortal coil” in the year
1830, and was succeeded by that rough-edged, seafaring brother of his,
William IV. This admiral-king was not brilliant; but we found
brilliancy--of a sort--in the acute and disputatious essayist, William
Hazlitt; yet he was far less companionable than acute, and contrasted most
unfavorably with that serene and most worthy gentleman, Hallam, the
historian. We next encountered the accomplished and showy Lady
Blessington--the type of many a one who throve in those days, and who had
caught somewhat of the glitter that radiated from the royal trappings of
George the Fourth. We saw Bulwer, among others, in her salon; and we
lingered longer over the wonderful career of that Disraeli, who died as
Lord Beaconsfield--the most widely known man in Great Britain.

We then passed to a consideration of that other wonderful adventurer--yet
the inheritor of an English peerage--who had made his futile beginning in
politics, and a larger beginning in poetry. To his career, which was left
half-finished, we now recur.


_Lord Byron a Husband._

As we left him--you will remember--there was a jangle of marriage-bells;
and a wearisome jangle it proved. Indeed Byron’s marriage-bells were so
preposterously out of tune, and lent their discord in such disturbing
manner to the whole current of his life, that it may be worth our while to
examine briefly the conditions under which the discord began. It is
certain that all the gossips of London had been making prey of this match
of the poetic hero of the hour for much time before its consummation.

Was he seeking a fortune? Not the least in the world; for though the
burden of debt upon his estates was pressing him sorely, and his
extravagances were reckless, yet large sums accruing from his
swift-written tales of the “Corsair,” “Lara,” and “Bride of Abydos” were
left untouched, or lavishly bestowed upon old or new friends; his
liberality in those days was most exceptional; nor does it appear that he
had any very definite notion of the pecuniary aid which his bride might
bring to him. She had, indeed, in her own right, what was a small sum
measured by their standards of living; and her expectancies, that might
have justified the title of heiress (which he sometimes gives to her in
his journal), were then quite remote.

As for social position, there could be by such marriage no gain to him,
for whom already the doors of England were flung wide open. Did he
seek the reposeful dignity of a home? There may have been such fancies
drifting by starts through his mind; but what crude fancies they must
have been with a man who had scarcely lived at peace with his own
mother, and whose only notion of enjoyment in the house of his ancestors
was in the transport to Newstead of a roistering company of boon
companions--followed by such boisterous revels there, and such unearthly
din and ghostly frolics, as astounded the neighborhood!

The truth is, he marched into that noose of matrimony as he would have
ordered a new suit from his tailor. When this whim had first seized him,
he had written off formal proposals to Miss Milbanke--whom he knew at that
time only slightly; and she, with very proper prudence, was non-committal
in her reply--though suggesting friendly correspondence. In his journal of
a little later date we have this entry:

    “November 30, 1813 [some fourteen months before the marriage].
    Yesterday a very pretty letter from Annabella [the full name was
    Anna Isabella], which I answered. What an odd situation and
    friendship is ours! Without one spark of love on either side. She is
    a very superior woman, and very little spoiled … a girl of twenty,
    an only child and a _savante_, who has always had her own way.”

This evidently does not promise a very ardent correspondence. Nay, it is
quite possible that the quiet reserve he encounters here, does offer a
refreshing contrast to the heated gush of which he is the subject in that
Babel of London; maybe, too, there is something in the reserve and the
assured dignity which reminds him of that earlier idol of his
worship--Miss Chaworth of Annesley.

However, three months after this last allusion to Miss Milbanke, we have
another entry in his journal, running thus:

    “January 16, 1814. A wife would be my salvation. I am getting rather
    into an admiration for C----, youngest sister of F----. [This is not
    Miss Milbanke--observe.] That she won’t love me is very probable,
    nor shall I love her. The business would probably be arranged
    between the papa and me.”

Perhaps it was in allusion to this new caprice that he writes to Moore, a
few months later:

    “Had Lady ---- appeared to wish it, or even not to oppose it, I
    would have gone on, and very possibly married, with the same
    indifference which has frozen over the Black Sea of almost all my
    passions.… Obstacles the slightest even, stop me.” (_Moore’s Byron_,
    p. 255.)

And it is in face of some such obstacle, lifting suddenly, that he flashes
up, and over, into new proposals to Miss Milbanke; these are quietly
accepted--very likely to his wonderment; for he says, in a quick ensuing
letter to Moore:

    “I certainly did not dream that she was attached to me, which it
    seems she has been for some time. I also thought her of a very cold
    disposition, in which I was also mistaken; it is a long story, and I
    won’t trouble you with it. As to her virtues, and so on, you will
    hear enough of them (for she is a kind of _pattern_ in the north)
    without my running into a display on the subject.”

A little over two months after the date of this they were married, and he
writes to Murray in the same week:

    “The marriage took place on the 2d inst., so pray make haste and
    congratulate away.” [And to Moore, a few days later.] “I was married
    this day week. The parson has pronounced it; Perry has announced it,
    and the _Morning Post_, also, under head of ‘Lord Byron’s
    marriage’--as if it were a fabrication and the puff direct of a new
    stay-maker.”

A month and a half later, in another Moore letter, alluding to the death
of the Duke of Dorset (an old friend of his), he says:

    “There was a time in my life when this event would have broken my
    heart; and all I can say for it now is--that it isn’t worth
    breaking.”

Two more citations, and I shall have done with this extraordinary record.
In March, 1815 (the marriage having occurred in January), he writes to
Moore from the house of his father-in-law, Sir Ralph Milbanke--a little
northward of the Tees, in County Durham:

    “I am in such a state of sameness and stagnation, and so totally
    occupied in consuming the fruits, and sauntering, and playing dull
    games at cards, and yawning, and trying to read old _Annual
    Registers_ and the daily papers, and gathering shells on the shore,
    and watching the growth of stunted gooseberries in the garden, that
    I have neither time nor sense to say more than yours ever--B.”


_A Stay in London._

On leaving the country for a new residence in London, his growing cheer
and spirits are very manifest:

    “I have been very comfortable here. Bell is in health, and unvaried
    good humor. But we are all in the agonies of packing.… I suppose by
    this hour to-morrow I shall be stuck in the chariot with my chin
    upon a band-box. I have prepared, however, another carriage for the
    abigail, and all the trumpery which our wives drag along with them.”

Well, there follows a year or more of this coupled life--with what
clashings we can imagine. Old Ralph Milbanke is not there to drawl through
his after-dinner stories, and to intrude his restraining presence. The
poet finds things to watch about the clubs and the theatres--quite other
than the stunted gooseberries that grew in his father-in-law’s garden.
Nothing is more sure than that the wilful audacities, and selfishness, and
temper of the poet, put my lady’s repose and dignities and perfection to
an awful strain. Nor is it to be wondered at, if the mad and wild
indiscretions of the husband should have provoked some quiet and galling
counter indiscretions on the part of her ladyship.

It is alleged, for instance, that on an early occasion--and at the
suggestion of a lady companion of the august mistress--there was an
inspection of my lord’s private papers, and a sending home to their
writers of certain highly perfumed notelets found therein; and we can
readily believe that when this instance of wifely zeal came to his
lordship’s knowledge he broke into a strain of remark which was _not_
precisely that of the “Hebrew Melodies.” Doubtless he carries away from
such encounter a great reserve of bottled wrath--not so much against her
ladyship personally, as against the stolid proprieties, the unbending
scruples, the lady-like austerities, and the cool, elegant
dowager-dignities she represents. Fancy a man who has put such soul as he
has, and such strength and hope and pride as he has, into those swift
poems, which have taken his heart’s blood to their making--fancy him,
asked by the woman who has set out to widen his hopes and life by all the
helps of wifehood, “_When--pray--he means to give up those versifying
habits of his?_” No, I do not believe he resented this in language. I
don’t believe he argued the point; I don’t believe he made defence of
versifying habits; but I imagine that he regarded her with a dazed look,
and an eye that saw more than it seemed to see--an eye that discerned
broad shallows in her, where he had hoped for pellucid depths. I think he
felt then--if never before--a premonition that their roads would not lie
long together. And yet it gave him a shock--not altogether a pleasant one,
we may be sure--when Sir Ralph, the father-in-law, to whose house she had
gone on a visit, wrote him politely to the effect that--“she would never
come back.” Such things cannot be pleasant; at least, I should judge not.

And so, she thinks something more of marriage than as some highly reckoned
conventionality--under whose cover bickerings may go on and spend their
force, and the decent twin masks be always worn. And in him, we can
imagine lingering traces of a love for the feminine features in her--for
the grace, the dignity, the sweet face, the modesties--but all closed over
and buckled up, and stanched by the everlasting and all encompassing
buckram that laces her in, and that has so little of the compensating
instinctive softness and yieldingness which might hold him in leash and
win him back. The woman who cannot--on occasions--put a weakness into her
forgiveness, can never put a vital strength into her persuasion.

But they part, and part forever; the only wonder is they had not parted
before; and still another wonder is, that there should have been zealous
hunt for outside causes when so many are staringly apparent within the
walls of home. I do not believe that Byron would have lived at peace with
one woman in a thousand; I do not believe that Lady Byron would have lived
at peace with one man in a hundred. The computation is largely in her
favor; although it does not imply necessity for his condemnation as an
utter brute. Even as he sails away from England--from which he is hunted
with hue and cry, and to whose shores he is never again to return--he
drops a farewell to her with such touches of feeling in it, that one
wonders--and future readers always will wonder--with what emotions the
mother and his child may have read it:

    “Fare thee well and if for ever,[66]
      Still for ever--fare thee well!
    Even tho’ unforgiving--never
      ’Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.
    …
    Love may sink by slow decay
      But, by sudden wrench, believe not
    Hearts can thus be torn away.
      And when thou would’st solace gather,
    When our child’s first accents flow,
      Wilt thou teach her to say ‘Father’
    Though his care she must forego?
      When her little hands shall press thee,
    When her lip to thine is prest,
      Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee;
    Think of him thy love has blessed.
      Should her lineaments resemble
    Those thou never more may’st see,
      Then thy heart will softly tremble
    With a pulse yet true to me;
      All my faults perchance thou knowest,
    All my madness none can know,
      All my hopes where’er thou goest
    Wither--yet, with thee they go.
    Every feeling hath been shaken;
      Pride which not a world could bow,
    Bows to thee--by thee forsaken,
      Even my soul forsakes me now.
    But ’tis done, all words are idle;
      Words from _me_ are vainer still;
    But the thoughts we cannot bridle
      Force their way, without the will.
    Fare thee well! thus disunited,
      Torn from every nearer tie,
    Seared in heart and lone, and blighted--
      More than this, I scarce can die.”

I should have felt warranted in giving some intelligible account of the
poet’s infelicities at home were it only to lead up to this exhibit of
his wondrous literary skill; but I find still stronger reasons in the fact
that the hue and cry which followed upon his separation from his wife
seemed to exalt the man to an insolent bravado, and a challenge of all
restraint--under which his genius flamed up with new power, and with a
blighting splendor.


_Exile._

It was on the 25th of April, 1816 (he being then in his twenty-eighth
year), that he bade England adieu forever, and among the tenderest of his
leave-takings was that from his sister, who had vainly sought to make
smooth the difficulties in his home, and who (until Lady Byron had fallen
into the blindness of dotage) retained her utmost respect. I cannot
forbear quoting two verses from a poem addressed to this devoted sister:

    “Though the rock of my last hope is shivered
      And its fragments are sunk in the wave,
    Though I feel that my soul is delivered
      To pain--it shall _not_ be its slave;
    There is many a pang to pursue me;
      They may crush--but they shall not contemn,
    They may torture, but shall not subdue me,
      ’Tis of _thee_ that I think--not of them.

    “From the wreck of the past, which hath perished,
      Thus much I at least may recall,
    It hath taught me that what I most cherished
      Deserved to be dearest of all;
    In the desert a fountain is springing,
      In the wide waste, there still is a tree,
    And a bird in the solitude singing
      Which speaks to my spirit of _thee_.”

Never was a man pelted away from his native shores with more anathemas;
never one in whose favor so few appealing voices were heard. It was not so
much a memory of his satirical thrusts, as a jealousy begotten by his late
extraordinary successes, which had alienated nearly the whole literary
fraternity. Only Rogers, Moore, and Scott were among the better known ones
who had forgiven his petulant verse, and were openly apologetic and
friendly; while such kind wishers as Lady Holland and Lady Jersey were
half afraid to make a show of their sympathies. Creditors, too, of that
burdened estate of his, had pushed their executions one upon another--in
those days when his torments were most galling--into what was yet called
with poor significance his home; only his title of peer, Moore tells us,
at one date saved him from prison.

Yet when he lands in Belgium, he travels--true to his old
recklessness--like a prince; with body servants and physician, and a
lumbering family coach, with its showy trappings. Waterloo was fresh then,
and the wreck and the blood, and the glory of it were all scored upon his
brain, and shortly afterward by his fiery hand upon the poem we know so
well, and which will carry that streaming war pennon in the face of other
generations than ours. Then came the Rhine, with its castles and
traditions, glittering afresh in the fresh stories that he wove; and after
these his settlement for a while upon the borders of Lake Geneva--where,
in some one of these talks of ours we found the studious Gibbon, under his
acacia-trees, and where Rousseau left his footprints--never to be
effaced--at Clarens and Meillerie. One would suppose that literature could
do no more with such outlooks on lake and mountain, as seem to mock at
language.

And yet the wonderful touch of Byron has kindled new interest in scenes on
which the glowing periods of Rousseau had been lavished. Even the
guide-books can none of them complete their record of the region without
stealing descriptive gems from his verse; and his story of the _Prisoner
of Chillon_ will always--for you and for me--lurk in the shadows that lie
under those white castle walls, and in the murmur of the waters that ebb
and flow--gently as the poem--all round about their foundations. I may
mention that at the date of the Swiss visit, and under the influences and
active co-operation of Madame de Staël--then a middle-aged and invalid
lady residing at her country seat of Coppet, on the borders of Geneva
Lake--Byron did make overtures for a reconciliation with his wife. They
proved utterly without avail, even if they were not treated with scorn.
And it is worthy of special note that while up to this date all mention of
Lady Byron by the poet had been respectful, if not relenting and
conciliatory--thereafter the vials of his wrath were opened, and his
despairing scorn knew no bounds. Thus, in the “Incantation”--thrust into
that uncanny work of _Manfred_--with which he was then at labor--he says:

    “Though thou seest me not pass by,
    Thou shalt feel me with thine eye,
    As a thing that, though unseen,
    Must be near thee, and hath been;
    And when, in that secret dread,
    Thou hast turned around thy head,
    Thou shalt marvel I am not
    As thy shadow on the spot;
    And the power which thou dost feel
    Shall be what thou must conceal.”


_Shelley and Godwin._

Another episode of Byron’s Swiss life was his encounter there, for the
first time, with the poet Shelley.[67] He, too, was under ban, for reasons
that I must briefly make known. Like his brother poet, Shelley was born to
a prospective inheritance of title and of wealth. His father was a
baronet, shrewd and calculating, and living by the harshest and baldest
of old conventionalisms; this father had given a warm, brooding care to
the estate left him by Sir Bysshe Shelley (the grandfather of the poet),
who had an American bringing up--if not an American birth--in the town of
Newark,[68] N. J. The boy poet had the advantages of a place at
Eton[69]--not altogether a favorite there, it would seem; “passionate in
his resistance to an injury, passionate in his love.” He carried thence to
Oxford a figure and a beauty of countenance that were almost effeminate;
and yet he had a capacity for doubts and negations that was wondrously
masculine. His scholarship was keen, but not tractable; he takes a wide
range outside the established order of studies; he is a great and
unstinted admirer of the French philosophers, and makes such audacious
free-thinking challenge to the church dignitaries of Oxford that he is
expelled--like something venomous. His father, too, gives him the cold
shoulder at this crisis, and he drifts to London. There he contrives
interviews with his sisters, who are in school at Clapham; and is decoyed
into a marriage--before he is twenty--with a somewhat pretty and over-bold
daughter of a coffee-house keeper, who has acted as a go-between in
communications with his sisters. The prudent, conventional father is now
down upon him with a vengeance.

But the boy has pluck under that handsome face of his. He sets out, with
his wife--after sundry wanderings--to redeem Ireland; but they who are
used to blunderbusses, undervalue Shelley’s fine periods, and his fine
face. He is some time in Wales, too (the mountains there fastening on his
thought and cropping out in after poems); he is in Edinboro’, in York, in
Keswick--making his obeisance to the great Southey (but coming to
over-hate of him in after years). Meantime he has children. Sometimes
money comes from the yielding father--sometimes none; he is abstemious;
bread and water mostly his diet; his home is without order or thrift or
invitingness--the lapses of the hoydenish girl-wife stinging him over and
over and through and through.

But Shelley has read Godwin’s _Political Justice_--one of those many fine
schemes for the world’s renovation, by tearing out and burning up most of
the old furniture, which make their appearance periodically--and in virtue
of his admiration of Godwin, Shelley counts him among the demi-gods of the
heaven which he has conjured up. In reality Godwin[70] was an oldish,
rather clumsy, but astute and clever dissenting minister, who had left
preaching, and had not only written _Political Justice_, but novels--among
them one called _Caleb Williams_; by which you will know him better--if
you know him at all. This gave him great reputation in its time. There
were critics who ranked him with, or above, Scott--even in fiction. This
may tempt you to read _Caleb Williams_;[71] and if you read it--you will
not forget it. It pinches the memory like a vice; much reading of it
might, I should think, engender, in one of vivid imagination, such
nightmare stories as “_Called Back_” or “_A Dark Day_.”

But Mr. Godwin had a daughter, Mary (whose mother was that Mary
Wollstonecraft, promoted now to a place amongst famous women), and our
Shelley going to see Godwin, saw also the daughter Mary--many times over;
and these two--having misty and mystic visions of a new order of
ethics--ran away together.

It must be said, however, to the credit of Shelley (if credit be the word
to use), that when this first wife killed herself--as she did some
eighteen months afterward[72] (whether from grief or other cause is
doubtful)--he married Miss Godwin; and it was during the summer preceding
this second marriage that Byron (1816) encountered Shelley on the shores
of Lake Leman. Shelley had already written that wild screed of _Queen Mab_
(privately printed, 1813), giving poetic emphasis to the scepticism of his
Oxford days. He had published that dreamy poem of _Alastor_--himself its
poet hero, as indeed he was in a large sense of every considerable poem he
wrote. I cite a fragment of it, that you may see what waking and beguiling
voice belonged to the young bard, who posed there on the Geneva lake
beside the more masculine Byron. He has taken us into forest depths:

                “One vast mass
    Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
    A narrow vale embosoms.
                The pyramids
    Of the tall cedar, overarching, frame
    Most solemn domes within; and far below,
    Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
    The ash and the acacia floating, hang
    Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents clothed
    In rainbow and in fire, the parasites
    Starred with ten thousand blossoms flowed around
    The gray trunks; and as gamesome infants’ eyes,
    With gentle meanings and most innocent wiles
    Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love,
    These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs.
                … the woven leaves
    Make net-work of the dark blue lights of day
    And the night’s noontide clearness, mutable
    As shapes in the weird clouds.
                One darkest glen
    Sends from its woods of musk-rose twined with jasmine
    A soul-dissolving odor, to invite
    To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell
    Silence and twilight here, twin sisters, keep
    Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades
    Like vaporous shapes half seen.”

And such mysteries and vaporous shapes run through all his poetic world.
He wanders, with that rarely fine gift of rhythmic speech, as wide away
from the compact sordid world--upon which Byron always sets foot with a
ringing tread--as ever Spenser in his chase of rainbow creations. Yet
there were penetrative sinuous influences about that young poet--defiant
of law and wrapt in his pursuit of mysteries--which may well have given
foreign touches of color to Byron’s _Manfred_ or to his _Prometheus_. At
any rate, these two souls lay quietly for a time, warped together--like
two vessels windbound under mountain shelter.


_Byron in Italy._

Byron next goes southward, to riotous life in Venice; where--whether in
tradesmen’s houses or in palaces upon the Grand Canal, or in country
villas upon the Euganean hills--he defies priests and traditions, and
order, and law, and decency.

To this period belongs, probably, the conception, if not the execution, of
many of those dramas[73]--as non-playable as ever those of
Tennyson--unequal, too, but with passages scattered here and there of
great beauty; masterly aggregation of words smoking with passion, and full
of such bullet-like force of expression as only he could command; but
there is no adequate blending of parts to make either stately or
well-harmonized march of events toward large and definite issues.

Out of the Venetian welter came, too, the fourth canto of _Childe Harold_
and the opening parts of _Don Juan_. The mocking, rollicking, marvellous
_Vision of Judgment_, whose daring license staggered even Murray and
Moore, and which scarified poor Southey, belongs to a later phase of his
Italian career. It is angry and bitter--and has an impish laughter in
it--of a sort which our friend Robert Ingersoll might write, if his genius
ran to poetry. _Cain_ had been of a bolder tone--perhaps loftier; with
much of the argument that Milton puts into the mouth of Satan, amplified
and rounded, and the whole illuminated by passages of wonderful poetic
beauty.

His scepticism, if not so out-spoken and full of plump negatives as that
of Shelley, is far more mocking and bitter. If Shelley was rich in
negations--so far as relates to orthodox belief--he was also rich in dim,
shadowy conceptions of a mysterious eternal region, with faith and love
reigning in it--toward which in his highest range of poetic effusion he
makes approaches with an awed and a tremulous step. But with Byron--even
where his words carry full theistic beliefs--the awe and the tremulous
approaches are wanting.


_Shelley Again._

Shelley went back from Switzerland to a home for a year or more, beyond
Windsor, near to Bisham--amid some of the loveliest country that borders
upon the Thames. Here he wrote that strange poem of _Laon and Cythna_ (or
_Revolt of Islam_, as it was called on its re-issue), which, so far as one
can gather meaning from its redundant and cumulated billows of rich,
poetic language, tells how a nation was kindled to freedom by the
strenuous outcry of some young poet-prophet--how he seems to win, and his
enemies become like smoking flax--how the dreadful fates that beset us,
and crowd all worldly courses from their best outcome, did at last trample
him down; not him only, but the one dearest to him--who is a willing
victim--and bears him off into the shades of night. Throughout, Laon the
Victim is the poet’s very self; and the very self appears again--with what
seems to the cautious, world-wise reader a curious indiscretion--in the
pretty jumping metre of “Rosalind and Helen”:--

    “Joyous he was; and hope and peace
    On all who heard him did abide,
    Raining like dew from his sweet talk,
    As where the evening star may walk
    Along the brink of the gloomy seas,
    Liquid mists of splendid quiver.
    His very gestures touched to tears
    The unpersuaded tyrant, never
    So moved before.…
    Men wondered, and some sneered, to see
    One sow what he could never reap;
    For he is rich, they said, and young,
    And might drink from the depths of luxury.
    If he seeks Fame, Fame never crowned
    The champion of a trampled creed;
    If he seeks Power, Power is enthroned
    ’Mid ancient rights and wrongs, to feed
    Which hungry wolves with praise and spoil,
    Those who would sit near Power must toil.”

It was in 1818, four years before his death, that Shelley sailed away from
English shores forever. There was not much to hold him there; those
children of the Westbrook mother he cannot know or guide.[74] The
Chancellor of England has decided that question against him; and Law,
which he has defied, has wrought him this great pain; nay, he has wild,
imaginary fears, too, that some Lord Chancellor, weaving toils in that web
of orderly British custom, may put bonds on these other and younger
children of the Godwin blood. Nor is it strange that a world of more
reasonable motives should urge this subtle poet--whose head is carried of
purpose, and by love, among the clouds--to turn his back on that grimy,
matter-of-fact England, and set his face toward those southern regions
where Art makes daily food, and where he may trail his robes without the
chafings of law or custom. But do not let me convey the impression that
Shelley then or ever lived day by day wantonly lawless, or doing violence
to old-fashioned proprieties; drunkenness was always a stranger to him, to
that new household--into which he had been grafted by Godwinian ethics--he
is normally true; he would, if it were possible, bring into the lap of
his charities those other estrays from whom the law divides him; his
generosities are of the noblest and fullest; he even entertains at one
time the singular caprice of “taking orders,” as if the author of _Queen
Mab_ could hold a vicarage! It opens, he said, so many ways of doing
kindly things, of making hearts joyful; and--for doctrine, one can always
preach Charity! With rare exceptions, it is only in his mental attitudes
and forays that he oversteps the metes and bounds of the every-day
moralities around him. Few poets, even of that time, can or do so measure
him as to enjoy him or to give him joy. Leigh Hunt is gracious and kindly;
but there are no winged sandals on his feet which can carry him into
regions where Shelley walks. Southey is stark unbeliever in the mystic
fields where Shelley grazes. Wordsworth is conquered by the Art, but has
melancholy doubts of the soul that seems caught and hindered in the meshes
of its own craftsmanship. Landor, of a certainty, has detected with his
keen insight the high faculties that run rampant under the mazes of the
new poet’s language; but Landor, too, is in exile--driven hither and
thither by the same lack of steady home affinities which has overset and
embroiled the domesticities of the younger poet.


_John Keats._

Yet another singer of these days, in most earnest sympathy with the
singing moods of Shelley--for whom I can have only a word now, was John
Keats;[75] born within the limits of London smoke, and less than
three-quarters of a mile from London Bridge--knowing in his boy days only
the humblest, work-a-day ranges of life; getting some good Latinity and
other schooling out of a Mr. Clarke (of the Cowden Clarke family)--reading
Virgil with him, but no Greek. And yet the lad, who never read Homer save
in Chapman, when he comes to write, as he does in extreme youth, crowds
his wonderful lines with the delicate trills and warblings which might
have broken out straight from Helicon--with a susurrus from the Bees of
Hymettus. This makes a good argument--so far as it reaches--in disproof
of the averments of those who believe that, for conquest of Attic
felicities of expression, the Greek vocables must needs be torn forth root
by root, and stretched to dry upon our skulls.

He published _Endymion_ in the very year when Shelley set off on his final
voyagings--a gushing, wavy, wandering poem, intermeshed with flowers and
greenery (which he lavishes), and with fairy golden things in it and
careering butterflies; with some bony under-structure of Greek
fable--loose and vague--and serving only as the caulking pins to hold
together the rich, sensuous sway, and the temper and roll of his language.

I must snatch one little bit from that book of _Endymion_, were it only to
show you what music was breaking out in unexpected quarters from that
fact-ridden England, within sound of the murmurs of the Thames, when
Shelley was sailing away:--

            “On every morrow are we wreathing
    A flowery band to bind us to the earth
    Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
    Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
    Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
    Made for our searching; yes, in spite of all,
    Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
    From our dark spirits. Such--the sun, the moon,
    Trees--old and young, sprouting a shady boon
    For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
    With the green world they live in; and clear rills
    That for themselves a cooling covert make
    ’Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake
    Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms;
    And such, too, is the grandeur of the dooms
    We have imagined for the mighty dead;
    All lovely tales that we have heard or read.”

I might cite page on page from Keats, and yet hold your attention; there
is something so beguiling in his witching words; and his pictures are
finished--with only one or two or three dashes of his pencil. Thus we come
upon--

    “Swelling downs, where sweet air stirs
    Blue harebells lightly, and where prickly furze
    Buds lavish gold.”

And again our ear is caught with--

    “Rustle of the reapéd corn,
    And sweet birds antheming the morn.”

Well, this young master of song goes to Italy, too--not driven, like
Byron, by hue and cry, or like Shelley, restless for change (from
Chancellor’s courts) and for wider horizons--but running from the disease
which has firm grip upon him, and which some three years after Shelley’s
going kills the poet of the _Endymion_ at Rome. His ashes lie in the
Protestant burial-ground there--under the shadow of the pyramid of Caius
Cestius. Every literary traveller goes to see the grave, and to spell out
the words he wanted inscribed there:

    “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

Upon that death, Shelley, then living in Pisa, blazed out in the
_Adonais_--the poem making, with the _Lycidas_ of Milton, and the _In
Memoriam_ of Tennyson, a triplet of laurel garlands, whose leaves will
never fade. Yet those of Shelley have a cold rustle in them--shine as they
may:--

      “Oh, weep for Adonais--he is dead!
      Wake, melancholy mother, wake and weep!
    Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed
      Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep
      Like his--a mute and uncomplaining sleep.
    For he is gone where all things wise and fair
      Descend. Oh, dream not that the amorous deep
    Will yet restore him to the vital air;
    Death feeds on his mute voice and laughs at our despair.

      “Oh, weep for Adonais! The quick dreams,
      The passion-winged ministers of thought
    Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams
      Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught
      The Love which was its music, wander not--
    Wander no more from kindling brain to brain,
      But droop there whence they sprung; and mourn their lot
    Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain,
    They ne’er will gather strength, or find a home again.”

The weak place in this impassioned commemorative poem lies in its waste of
fire upon the heads of those British critics, who--as flimsy, pathetic
legends used to run--slew the poet by their savagery. Keats did not range
among giants; but he was far too strong a man to die of the gibes of the
_Quarterly_, or the jeers of _Blackwood_. Not this; but all along,
throughout his weary life--even amid the high airs of Hampstead, where
nightingales sang--he sang, too,--

    “I have been half in love with easeful Death,
      Called him soft names in many a muséd rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath.”[76]


_Buried in Rome._

Keats died in 1821. In that year Shelley was living between Lirici, on the
gulf of Spezia, and Pisa. While in this latter city, he was planted for a
time at the old Lanfranchi palace, where in the following season very much
at the instance and urgence of Shelley, Leigh Hunt came with his six
riotous young children, and sometimes made a din--that was new to Byron
and most worrisome--in the court of the Lanfranchi house. Out of this Hunt
fraternizing and co-working (forecast by the kindly Shelley) was to be
built up the success of that famous “Liberal” Journal, dear to the hearts
of Shelley and Hunt, of which I have already spoken, and which had
disastrous failure; out of this aggregation of disorderly poetic elements
grew also the squabbles that gave such harsh color to the _Reminiscences_
of Leigh Hunt.[77]

But other and graver disaster was impending. Shelley loved the sea, and
carried with him to the water the same reckless daring which he put into
his verse. Upon a summer day of July, 1822, he went with a friend and one
boatman for a sail upon the bay of Spezia, not heeding some cautions that
had been dropped by old seamen, who had seen portents of a storm; and his
boat sailed away into the covert of the clouds. Next day there were no
tidings, nor the next, nor the next. Finally wreck and bodies came to the
shore.

Trelawney, Byron’s friend, tells a grim story of it all--how the dismal
truth was carried to the widowed wife, how the body of the drowned poet
was burned upon the shore, with heathen libations of oil and wine; how
Byron and Hunt both were present at the weird funeral--the blue
Mediterranean lapping peacefully upon the beach and the black smoke
lifting in great clouds from the pyre and throwing lurid shadows over the
silent company. The burial--such as there was of it--took place in that
same Protestant graveyard at Rome--just out of the Porta San Paolo--where
we were just now witnesses at the burial of Keats.

Shelley made many friendships, and lasting ones. He was wonderfully
generous; he visited the sick; he helped the needy; putting himself often
into grievous straits for means to give quickly. As he was fine of figure
and of feature, so his voice was fine, delicate, penetrative, yet in
moments of great excitement rising to a shrillness that spoiled melody and
rasped the ear; so his finer generosities and kindnesses sometimes passed
into a rasping indifference or even cruelty toward those nearest him, he
feeling that first Westbrook _mesalliance_, on occasions, like a
torture--specially when the presence of the tyrannic, coarse, aggravating
sister-in-law was like a poisonous irritant; he--under the teachings of a
conscientious father, in his young days--was scarce more than half
responsible for his wry life; running to badnesses--on occasions--under
good impulses; perhaps marrying that first wife because she wanted to
marry him; and quitting her--well--because “she didn’t care.”
Intellectually, as well as morally, he was pagan; seeing things in their
simplest aspects, and so dealing with them; intense, passionate, borne
away in tempests of quick decision, whose grounds he cannot fathom; always
beating his wings against the cagements that hem us in; eager to look into
those depths where light is blinding and will not let us look; seeming at
times to measure by some sudden reach of soul what is immeasurable; but
under the vain uplifts, always reverent, with a dim hope shining fitfully;
contemptuous of harassing creeds or any jugglery of forms--of whatever
splendid fashionings of mere material, whether robes or rites--and
yearning to solve by some strong, swift flight of imagination what is
insoluble. There are many reverent steps that go to that little Protestant
cemetery--an English greenery upon the borders of the Roman
Campagna--where the ashes of Shelley rest and where myrtles grow. And from
its neighborhood, between Mount Aventine and the Janiculan heights, one
may see reaches of the gleaming Tiber, and the great dome of St. Peter’s
lifting against the northern sky, like another tomb, its cross almost
hidden in the gray distance.


_Pisa and Don Juan._

No such friendship as that whose gleams have shot athwart these latter
pages could have been kindled by Byron. No “Adonais” could have been writ
for him; he could have melted into no “Adonais” for another; old pirate
blood, seething in him, forbade. No wonder he chafed at Hunt’s squalling
children in the Lanfranchi palace; _that_ literary partnership finds quick
dissolution. He sees on rare occasions an old English friend--he, who has
so few! Yet he is in no mood to make new friends. The lambent flames of
the Guiccioli romance hover and play about him, making the only
counterfeit of a real home which he has ever known. The proud,
independent, audacious, lawless living that has been his so long, whether
the early charms lie in it or no--he still clings by. His pen has its old
force, and the words spin from it in fiery lines; but to pluck the flowers
worth the seeking, which he plants in them now, one must go over quaking
bogs, and through ways of foulness.

The _Childe Harold_ has been brought to its conclusion long before; its
cantos, here and there splendidly ablaze with Nature--its storms, its
shadows, its serenities; and the sentiment--now morbid, now jubilant--is
always his own, though it beguiles with honeyed sounds, or stabs like a
knife.

There have been a multitude of lesser poems, and of dramas which have had
their inception and their finish on that wild Continental
holiday--beginning on _Lac Leman_ and ending at Pisa and Genoa; but his
real selfhood--whether of mind or passion--seems to me to come out plainer
and sharper in the _Don Juan_ than elsewhere. There may not be lifts in
it, which rise to the romantic levels of the “Pilgrimage;” there may be
lack of those interpolated bits of passion, of gloom, of melancholy, which
break into the earlier poem. But there is the blaze and crackle of his own
mad march of flame; the soot, the cinders, the heat, the wide-spread
ashes, and unrest of those fires which burned in him from the beginning
were there, and devastated all the virginal purities of his youth (if
indeed there were any!) and welded his satanic and his poetic qualities
into that seamy, shining, wonderful residue of dirty scoriæ, and of
brilliant phosphorescence, which we call _Don Juan_. From a mere literary
point of view there are trails of doggerel in it, which the poet was too
indolent to mend, and too proud to exclude. Nor can it ever be done; a
revised Byron would be not only a Byron emasculated, but decapitated and
devastated. ’Twould lack the links that tie it to the humanities which
coil and writhe tortuously all up and down his pages. His faults of
prosody, or of ethics, or of facts--his welter, at intervals, through a
barren splendor of words--are all typical of that fierce, proud,
ungovernable, unconventional nature. This leopard will and should carry
all his spots. We cannot shrive the man; no chanters or churches can do
this; he disdains to be shriven at human hands, or, it would seem, any
other hands. The impact of that strong, vigorous nature--through his
poems--brings, to the average reader, a sense of force, of brilliancy, of
personality, of humanity (if gone astray), which exhilarates, which dashes
away a thousand wordy memories of wordy verses, and puts in their place
palpitating phrases that throb with life. An infinite capability for
eloquent verse; an infinite capability for badnesses! We cannot root out
the satanry from the man, or his books, any more than we can root out
Lucifer from Milton’s Eden. But we can lament both, and, if need be, fight
them.

Whether closer British influence (which usually smote upon him, like sleet
on glass)--even of that “Ancient Oratory” of Annesley--would have served
to whiten his tracks, who shall say? Long ago he had gone out from them,
and from parish church and sermon; his hymns were the _Ranz des Vaches_ on
the heights of the _Dent de Jaman_, and the preachments he heard were the
mellowed tones of convent bells--filtering through forest boughs--maybe
upon the ear of some hapless Allegra, scathed by birth-marks of a sin that
is not her own--conning her beads, and listening and praying!


_Missolonghi._

It was in 1823, when he was living in Genoa--whither he had gone from Pisa
(and before this, Ravenna)--that his sympathies were awakened in behalf of
the Greeks, who since 1820 had been in revolt against their Turkish
taskmasters. He had been already enrolled with those Carbonari--the
forerunners of the Mazzinis and the Garibaldis--who had labored in vain
for the independence and unity of Italy; and in many a burst of his
impassioned song he had showered welcoming praises upon a Greece that
should be free, and with equal passion attuned his verse to the
lament--that

    “Freedom found no champion and no child
      Such as Columbia saw arise when she
    Sprung forth a Pallas, armed and undefiled.”

How much all this was real and how much only the romanticism of the poet,
was now to be proven. And it was certainly with a business-like air that
he cut short his little _agaceries_ with the Lady Blessington, and
pleasant dalliance with the Guiccioli, for a rallying of all his
forces--moneyed or other--in the service of that cause for which the brave
Marco Bozzaris had fallen, fighting, only three months before. It was in
July that he embarked at Genoa for Greece--in a brig which he had
chartered, and which took guns and ammunition and $40,000 of his own
procurement, with a retinue of attendants--including his trusty
Fletcher--besides his friends Trelawney and the Count Gamba. They skirted
the west coast of Italy, catching sight of Elba--then famous for its
Napoleonic associations--and of Stromboli, whose lurid blaze, reflected
upon the sea, startled the admiring poet to a hinted promise--that those
fires should upon some near day reek on the pages of a Fifth Canto of
_Childe Harold_.

Mediterranean ships were slow sailers in those days, and it was not until
August that they arrived and disembarked at Cephalonia--an island near to
the outlet of the Gulf of Corinth, and lying due east from the Straits of
Messina. There was a boisterous welcome to the generous and eloquent peer
of England; but it was a welcome that showed factional discords. Only
across a mile or two of water lay the Isle of Ithaca, full of vague,
Homeric traditions, which under other conditions he would have been
delighted to follow up; but the torturing perplexities about the
distribution of moneys or ammunition, the jealousies of quarrelsome
chieftains, the ugly watch over drafts and bills of exchange, and the
griping exactions of local money-changers, made all Homeric fancies or
memories drift away with the scuds of wind that blew athwart the Ionian
seas.

He battled bravely with the cumulating difficulties--sometimes maddened to
regret--other times lifted to enthusiasm by the cordial greeting of such a
chieftain as Mavrocordatos, or the street cheers of a band of Suliotes.
So months passed, until he embarked again, in equipage of his own, with
his own fittings, for Missolonghi, where final measures were to be taken.
Meantime he is paying for his ships, paying for his Suliotes, paying for
delays, and beset by rival chieftains for his interest, or his stimulating
presence, or his more stimulating moneys. On this new but short sea
venture he barely escapes capture by a Turkish frigate--is badly piloted
among the rocky islets which stud the shores; suffers grievous
exposure--coming at last, wearied and weakened, to a new harborage, where
welcomes are vociferous, but still wofully discordant. He labors wearily
to smooth the troubled waters, his old, splendid allegiance to a free and
united Greece suffering grievous quakes, and doubts; and when after months
of alternating turbulence and rest there seems promise of positive action,
he is smitten by the fever of those low coasts--aggravated by his always
wanton exposures. The attack is as sudden as a shot from a gun--under
which he staggers and falls, writhing with pain, and I know not what
convulsional agonies.

There is undertaken an Italian regimen of cupping and leeching about the
brow and temples, from which the bleeding is obstinate, and again and
again renewed. But he rallies; attendants are assiduous in their care.
Within a day or two he has recovered much of the old _vires vitæ_, when on
a sudden there is an alarm; a band of mutinous Suliotes, arms in hand,
break into his lordship’s apartments, madly urging some trumpery claim for
back-pay. Whereupon Byron--showing the old savagery of his
ancestors--leaps from his bed, seizes whatever weapon is at hand, and
gory--with his bandaged head still trickling blood--he confronts the
mutineers; his strength for the moment is all his own again, and they are
cowered into submission, their yataghans clinking as they drop to the
tiled flooring of his room.

’Twas a scene for Benjamin West to have painted in the spirit of Death on
the Pale Horse, or for some later artist--loving bloody “impressions.”
However, peace is established. Quiet reigns once more (we count by days
only, now). There is a goodly scheme for attack upon the fortress which
guards the Gulf of Lepanto (Corinth); the time is set; the guards are
ready; the Suliotes are under bidding; the chieftains are (for once)
agreed, when, on the 18th, he falters, sinks, murmurs some last
words--“Ada--daughter--love--Augusta--” barely caught; doubtfully caught;
but it is all--and the poet of _Childe Harold_ is gone, and that
turbulent, brilliant career hushed in night.

It was on April 19, 1824, that he died. His body was taken home for
burial. I said _home_; ’twere better to have said to England, to the
family vault, in which his mother had been laid; and at a later day, his
daughter, Ada, was buried there beside him, in the old Hucknall-Torkard
church. The building is heavy and bald, without the winning
picturesqueness that belongs to so many old country churches of Yorkshire.
The beatitudes that are intoned under its timbered arch are not born of
any rural beatitudes in the surroundings. The town is small, straggly,
bricky,[78] and neither church nor hamlet nor neighbors’ houses are
suffused with those softened tints which verdure, and nice keeping, and
mellow sunshine give to so many villages of southern England.
Hucknall-Torkard is half way between Nottingham and Newstead, and lies
upon that northern road which pushes past Annesley into the region of
woods and parks where Sherwood forest once flung its shadows along the
aisles in which the bugle notes of master Robin Hood woke the echoes.

But Hucknall-Torkard church is bald and tame. Mr. Winter, in his pleasant
descriptive sketch,[79] does indeed give a certain glow to the “grim”
tower, and many a delightful touch to the gray surroundings; but even he
would inhibit the pressure of the noisy market-folk against the
church-yard walls, and their rollicking guffaw. And yet, somehow, the
memory of Byron does not seem to me to mate well with either home or
church quietudes, and their serenities. Is it not proper and fitting after
all that the clangor of a rebellious and fitful world should voice itself
near such a grave? Old mossy and ivied towers in which church bells are
a-chime, and near trees where rooks are cawing with home-sounds, do not
marry happily with our memories of Byron.

Best of all if he had been given burial where his heart lies, in that
Ætolian country, upon some shaggy fore-land from which could have been
seen--one way, Ithaca and the Ionian seas, and to the southward, across
the Straits of Lepanto, the woody depths of the Morea, far as Arcadia.

But there is no mending the matter now; he lies beside his harsh Gordon
mother in the middle of the flat country of stockings, lace curtains, and
collieries.

Another poet, William Lisle Bowles, in a quaint sonnet has versed this
Gordon mother’s imaginary welcome to her dead son:--

                “Could that mother speak,
    In thrilling, but with hollow accent weak,
    She thus might give the welcome of the dead:
    ‘Here rest, my son, with me; the dream is fled;
    The motley mask, and the great stir is o’er.
    Welcome to me, and to this silent bed,
    Where deep forgetfulness succeeds the roar
    Of life, and fretting passions waste the heart no more!’”



CHAPTER VII.


For many a page now we have spoken intermittently of that extraordinary
man and poet--full of power and full of passion, both uncontrolled--whose
surroundings we found in that pleasantly undulating Nottingham country
where Newstead Abbey piled above its lawn and its silent tarns--half a
ruin, and half a home.[80] Nor did Byron ever know a home which showed no
ruin--nor ever know a ruin, into which his verse did not nestle as into a
home.

We traced him from the keeping of that passionate mother--who smote him
through and through with her own wrathful spirit--to the days when he
uttered the “Idle” songs--coined in the courts of Cambridge--and to those
quick succeeding days, when his mad verse maddened English bards and
Scotch reviewers. Then came the passages of love--with Mary Chaworth,
which was real and vain; with a Milbanke, which was a mockery and ended in
worse than mockery; all these experiences whetting the edge of that sword
of song with which he carved a road of romance for thousands of after
journeymen to travel, through the old Iberian Peninsula, and the vales of
Thessaly. Then there was the turning away, in rage, from the shores of
England, the episode with the Shelley household on the borders of Lake
Leman, with its record of “crag-splitting” storms and sunny siestas; and
such enduring memorials as the ghastly _Frankenstein_ of Mrs. Shelley, the
Third Canto of _Childe Harold_, and the child-name of--Allegra.

Next came Venice, where the waves lapped murmurously upon the door-steps
of the palaces which “Mi-lord” made noisy with his audacious revelry. To
this succeeded the long stay at Ravenna, with its pacifying and
lingering, reposeful reach of an attachment, which was beautiful in its
sincerity, but as lawless as his life. After Ravenna came Pisa with its
Hunt-Lanfranchi coruscations of spleen, and its weird interlude of the
burning of the body of his poor friend Shelley upon the Mediterranean
shores. Song, and drama, and tender verselets, and bagnio-tainted pictures
of Don Juan, gleamed with fervid intensity through the interstices of this
Italian life; but they all came to a sudden stay when he sailed for
Greece, and with a generosity as strong as his wilder passions, flung away
his fortune and his life in that vortex of Suliote strifes and deadly
miasmas, which was centred amid the swamplands of Missolonghi.

The Cretans of to-day (1897), and the men of Thessaly, and of the Morea,
and Albanians all, may find a lift of their ambitions and a spur to their
courage in Byron’s sacrifice to their old struggle for liberty, and in his
magnificent outburst of patriotic song. So, too, those who love real
poetry will never cease to admire his subtle turns of thought, and his
superb command of all the resources of language. But the households are
few in which his name will be revered as an apostle of those cheering
altitudes of thought which encourage high endeavor, or of those tenderer
humanities which spur to kindly deeds, and give their glow to the
atmosphere of homes.


_King William’s Time._

The last figure that we dealt with among England’s kings was that bluff,
vulgar-toned sailor, William IV., whom even the street-folk criticise,
because he spat from his carriage window when driving on some State
ceremonial.[81] Nor was this the worst of his coarsenesses; he swore--with
great ease and pungency. He forgot his dignity; he insulted his ministers;
he gave to Queen Adelaide, who survived him many years as dowager, many
most uncomfortable half-hours; and if he read the new sea-stories of
Captain Marryat--though he read very little--I suspect he loved more the
spicier condiments of _Peregrine Pickle_ and of _Tom Jones_.

Yet during the period of his short reign--scarce seven years--events
happened--some through his slow helpfulness, and none suffering grievously
from his obstructiveness--which gave new and brighter color to the
political development and to the literary growth of England. There was,
for instance, the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832 (of which I have
already spoken, in connection with Sydney Smith)--not indeed accomplishing
all its friends had hoped; not inaugurating a political millennium; not
doing away with the harsh frictions of state-craft; no reforms ever do or
can; but broadening the outlook and range of all publicists, and stirring
quiet thinkers into aggressive and kindling and hopeful speech. Very
shortly after this followed the establishment of that old society for the
“Diffusion of Useful Knowledge” which came soon to the out-put--under the
editorship of Charles Knight--of the _Penny Cyclopædia_ and the _Penny
Magazine_.[82]

I recall distinctly the delight with which--as boys--we lingered over the
pictured pages of that magazine--the great forerunner of all of our
illustrated monthlies.

To the same period belong those _Tracts for the Times_, in which John
Keble, the honored author of the _Christian Year_, came to new notice,
while his associates, Dr. Pusey and Cardinal Newman, gave utterance to
speech which is not without reverberating echoes, even now. Nor was it
long after this date that British journalism received a great lift, and a
great broadening of its forces, by a reduction of the stamp-tax--largely
due to the efforts of Bulwer Lytton--whereby British newspapers increased
their circulation, within two years, by 20,000,000 annually.[83]

All these things had come about in the reign of William IV.; but to none
of them had he given any enthusiastic approval, or any such urgence of
attention as would have dislocated a single one of his royal dinners.

In 1837 he died--not very largely sighed over; least of all by that
sister-in-law, the Duchess of Kent, whom he had hated for her starched
proprieties, whom he had insulted again and again, and who now, in her
palace of Kensington, prepared her daughter Victoria for her entrance upon
the sovereignty.


_Her Majesty Victoria._

The girl was only eighteen--well taught, discreet, and modest. Greville
tells us that she was consumed with blushes when her uncles of Sussex and
of Cumberland came, with the royal council, to kneel before her, and to
kiss her hand in token of the new allegiance.

The old king had died at two o’clock of the morning; and by eleven o’clock
on the same day the duties of royalty had begun for the young queen, in
receiving the great officers of state. Among the others she meets on that
first regal day in Kensington Palace, are Lansdowne, the fidgety Lord
Brougham, the courtly Sir Robert Peel, and the spare, trim-looking old
Duke of Wellington, who is charmed by her gracious manner, and by her
self-control and dignity. He said he could not have been more proud of
her if she had been his own daughter.

Nearer to the young queen than all these--by old ties of friendship, that
always remained unshaken--was the suave and accomplished Lord
Melbourne--First Minister--who has prepared the queen’s little speech for
her, which she reads with charming self-possession; to him, too, she looks
for approval and instruction in all her progress through the new
ceremonials of Court, and the ordering of a royal household. And Melbourne
is admirably suited to that task; he was not a great statesman; was never
an orator, but possessed of all the arts of conciliation--adroit and full
of tact, yet kindly, sympathetic, and winning. Not by any means a man
beyond reproach in his private life, but bringing to those new offices of
political guardianship to the young queen only the soundest good-sense and
the wisest of advice--thus inspiring in her a trust that was never
forfeited.

Indeed, it was under Melbourne’s encouragements, and his stimulative
commendation (if stimulus were needed), that the young princess formed
shortly after that marriage relation which proved altogether a happy
one--giving to England and to the world shining proof that righteous
domesticities were not altogether clean gone from royal houses. And if the
good motherly rulings have not had their best issues with some of the male
members of the family, can we not match these wry tendencies with those
fastening upon the boys of well-ordered households all around us? It is
not in royal circles only that his satanic majesty makes friends of nice
boys, when the girls escape him--or seem to!

Well, I have gone back to that old palace of Kensington, which still, with
its mossy brick walls, in the west of London, baffles the years, and the
fogs--the same palace where we went to find William III. dying, and the
gracious Queen Anne too; and where now the Marquis of Lorne and the
Princess Louise have their home. I have taken you again there to see how
the young Victoria bore herself at the news of her accession--with the
great councillors of the kingdom about her--not alone because those whom
we shall bring to the front, in this closing chapter, have wrought during
her reign; but because, furthermore, she with her household have been
encouragers and patrons of both letters and of art in many most helpful
ways; and yet, again, because this queen, who has within this twelve-month
(1897) made her new speech to Parliament--sixty years after that first
little speech at Kensington--is herself, in virtue of certain modest
book-making, to be enrolled with all courtesy in the Guild of Letters. And
though the high-stepping critics may be inclined to question the literary
judgment or the scrupulous finish of her book-work, we cannot, I think,
deny to it a thoroughly humane tone, and a tender realism. We greet her
not only by reason of her queenship proper, but for that larger
sovereignty of womanhood and of motherhood which she has always dignified
and adorned.

I once caught such glimpse of her--as strangers may--in the flush of her
early wedded life; not beautiful surely, but comely, kindly, and radiant,
in the enjoyment of--what is so rare with sovereigns--a happy home-life;
and again I came upon other sight of her eight years later, when the
prince was a rollicking boy, and the princess a blooming maiden; these
and lesser rosy-cheeked ones were taking the air on the terrace at
Windsor, almost in the shadow of the great keep, which has frowned there
since the days of Edward III.


_Macaulay._

In the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign--when Sir Robert Peel was
winning his way to the proud position he later held--when American and
English politicians were getting into the toils of the “Maine Boundary”
dispute (afterward settled by Ashburton and Webster), and when the
Countess of Blessington was making “Gore House” lively with her little
suppers, and the banker Rogers entertaining all _beaux esprits_ at his
home near the Green Park, there may have been found as guest at one of the
banker’s famous breakfasts--somewhere we will say in the year 1838--a man,
well-preserved, still under forty--with a shaggy brow, with clothes very
likely ill-adjusted and ill-fitting, and with gloves which are never
buttoned--who has just come back from India, where he has held lucrative
official position. He is cogitating, it is said, a history of England,
and his talk has a fulness and richness that seem inexhaustible.

You know to whom I must refer--Thomas Babington Macaulay[84]--not a new
man at Rogers’s table, not a new man to bookish people; for he had won his
honors in literature, especially by a first paper on Milton, published in
the year 1825 in the _Edinburgh Review_. This bore a new stamp and had
qualities that could not be overlooked. There are scores of us who read
that paper for the first time in the impressionable days of youth, who are
carried back now by the mere mention of it to the times of the old Puritan
poet.

    “We can almost fancy that we are visiting him in his small lodging;
    that we see him sitting at the old organ beneath the faded green
    hangings; that we can catch the quick twinkle of his eyes, rolling
    in vain to find the day; that we are reading in the lines of his
    noble countenance the proud and mournful history of his glory and
    his affliction!”

Macaulay came of good old Scotch stock--his forefathers counting up
patriarchal families in Coll and Inverary; but his father, Zachary
Macaulay, well known for his anti-slavery action and influence, and for
his association with Wilberforce, married an English Quaker girl from
Bristol--said to have been a _protégée_ of our old friend, Mistress Hannah
More. Of this marriage was born, in 1800, at the charming country house of
an aunt, named Babington, in the pleasant county of Leicestershire, the
future historian.

The father’s first London home was near by Lombard Street, where he
managed an African agency under the firm name of Macaulay & Babington; and
the baby Macaulay used to be wheeled into an open square near by, for the
enjoyment of such winter’s sunshine as fell there at far-away intervals.
His boyish memories, however, belonged to a later home at Clapham, then a
suburban village. There, was his first schooling, and there he budded
out--to the wonderment of all his father’s guests--into young poems and
the drollest of precocious talk. His pleasant biographer (Trevelyan) tells
of a visit the bright boy made at Strawberry Hill--Walpole’s old
showplace. There was a spilling of hot drink of some sort, during the
visitation, which came near to scalding the lad; and when the sympathizing
hostess asked after his suffering: “Thank you, madam,” said he, “the agony
is abated!” The story is delightfully credible; and so are other pleasant
ones of his reciting some of his doggerel verses to Hannah More and
getting a gracious and approving nod of her gray curls and of her mob-cap.

At Cambridge, where he went at the usual student age, he studied what he
would, and discarded what he would--as he did all through his life. For
mathematics he had a distinguished repugnance, then and always; and if
brought to task by them in those student days--trying hard to twist their
certainties into probabilities, and so make them subject to that world of
“ifs and buts” which he loved to start buzzing about the ears of those who
loved the exact sciences better than he. He missed thus some of the
University honors, it is true; yet, up and down in those Cambridge
coteries he was a man looked for, and listened to, eagerly and bravely
applauded. Certain scholastic honors, too, he did reap, in spite of his
lunges outside the traces; there was a medal for his poem of _Pompeii_;
and a Fellowship, at last, which gave him a needed, though small
income--his father’s Afric business having proved a failure, and no home
moneys coming to him thereafter.

The first writings of Macaulay which had public issue were printed in
_Knight’s Quarterly Magazine_--among them were criticisms on Italian
writers, a remarkable imaginary conversation between “Cowley and Milton,”
and the glittering, jingling battle verses about the War of the League and
stout “Henry of Navarre”--full to the brim of that rush and martial
splendor which he loved all his life, and which he brought in later years
to his famous re-heralding of the _Lays of Ancient Rome_. A few lines are
cited:--

    “The King is come to marshal us, in all his armor drest;
    And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant crest.
    He looked upon his people, and a tear was in his eye;
    He looked upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and high.
    Right graciously he smiled on us, as rolled from wing to wing
    Down all our line a deafening shout, ‘God save our Lord the King!’
    And if my standard bearer fall, as fall full well he may,
    For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody fray;
    Press where ye see my white plume shine, amidst the ranks of war,
    And be your oriflamme to-day the helmet of Navarre!”

On the year after this “Battle of Ivry” had sparkled into print appeared
the paper on Milton, to which I have alluded, and which straightway set
London doors open to the freshly fledged student-at-law. Crabb Robinson,
in his diary of those days, speaks patronizingly of a “young gentleman of
six or seven and twenty, who has emerged upon the dinner-giving public,”
and is astounding old habitués by his fulness and brilliancy of talk. He
had not, to be sure, those lighter and sportive graces of conversation
which floated shortly thereafter out from the open windows of Gore House,
and had burgeoned under the beaming smiles of Lady Blessington. But he
came to be a table match for Sydney Smith, and was honored by the
invitations of Lady Holland,[85] who allowed no new find of so brilliant
feather to escape her.


_In Politics and Verse._

Macaulay’s alliance with the Scottish Reviewers, and his known liberalism,
make him a pet of the great Whigs; and through Lansdowne, with a helping
hand from Melbourne, he found his way into Parliament: there were those
who prophesied his failure in that field; I think Brougham in those days,
with not a little of jealousy in his make up, was disposed to count him a
mere essayist. But his speeches in favor of the Reform bill belied all
such auguries. Sir Robert Peel declared them to be wonderful in their
grasp and eloquence; they certainly had great weight in furthering reform;
and his parliamentary work won presently for him the offer from Government
of a place in India. No Oriental glamour allured him, but the new position
was worth £10,000 per annum. He counted upon saving the half of this, and
returning after five years with a moderate fortune. He did better,
however--shortening his period of exile by nearly a twelve-month, and
bringing back £30,000.

His sister (who later became Lady Trevelyan) went with him as the mistress
of his Calcutta household; and his affectionate and most tender relations
with this, as well as with his younger sister, are beautifully set forth
in the charming biography by his nephew, Otto Trevelyan. It is a biography
that everybody should read; and none can read it, I am sure, without
coming to a kindlier estimate of its subject. The home-letters with which
it abounds run over with affectionate playfulness. We are brought to no
ugly _post mortem_ in the book, and no opening of old sores. It is modest,
courteous, discreet, and full.

Macaulay did monumental work in India upon the Penal Code. He also kept up
there his voracious habits of reading and study. Listen for a moment to
his story of this:

    “During the last thirteen months I have read Eschylus, twice;
    Sophocles, twice; Euripides, once; Pindar, twice; Callimachus,
    Apollonius Rhodius, Theocritus, twice; Herodotus, Thucydides,
    almost all of Xenophon’s works, almost all of Plato, Aristotle’s
    _Politics_, and a good deal of his _Organon_; the whole of
    Plutarch’s Lives; half of Lucian; two or three books of Athenæus;
    Plautus, twice; Terence, twice; Lucretius, twice; Catullus,
    Propertius, Lucan, Statius, Silius Italicus, Livy, Velleius
    Paterculus, Sallust, Cæsar, and lastly, Cicero.”

This is his classical list. Of his modern reading he does not tell; yet he
was plotting the _History of England_, and the bouncing balladry of the
_Lays of Rome_ was even then taking shape in the intervals of his study.

His father died while Macaulay was upon his voyage home from India--a
father wholly unlike the son, in his rigidities and his Calvinistic
asperities; but always venerated by him, and in the latter years of the
old gentleman’s life treated with a noble and beautiful generosity.

A short visit to Italy was made after the return from India; and it was in
Rome itself that he put some of the last touches to the Lays--staying the
work until he could confirm by personal observation the relative sites of
the bridge across the Tiber and the home of Horatius upon the Palatine.

You remember the words perhaps; if not, ’twere well you should,--

    “Alone stood brave Horatius,
      But constant still in mind;
    Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
      And the broad flood behind.
    ‘Down with him!’ cried false Sextus,
      With a smile on his pale face.
    ‘Now yield thee,’ cried Lars Porsena,
      ‘Now yield thee to our grace!’

    Round turned he, as not deigning
      Those craven ranks to see;
    Nought spake he to Lars Porsena,
      To Sextus nought spake he!
    But he saw on Palatinus
      The white porch of his home;
    And he spake to the noble river
      That rolls by the towers of Rome.

    ‘Oh, Tiber, father Tiber!
      To whom the Romans pray,
    A Roman’s life, a Roman’s arms,
      Take thou in charge this day!’
    So he spake, and speaking sheathed
      The good sword by his side,
    And, with his harness on his back,
      Plunged headlong in the tide.”

This does not sound like those verses of Shelley, which we lately
encountered. Those went through the empyrean of song like Aurora’s
chariot of the morning, with cherubs, and garlands, and flashing torches.
This, in the comparison, is like some well-appointed dump-cart, with
sleek, well-groomed Percheron horses--up to their work, and accomplishing
what they are set to do absolutely well.

It was not until 1842, a year or two after the Italian visit, that
Macaulay ventured to publish that solitary book of his verse; he very much
doubted the wisdom of putting his literary reputation in peril by such
overture in rhyme. It extorted, however, extravagant praise from that
muscular critic Christopher North; while the fastidious Hunt writes to him
(begging a little money--as was his wont), and regretting that the book
did not show more of the poetic aroma which breathes from the _Faerie
Queene_. But say what we may of its lack--there is no weakly maundering;
it is the work of a man full-grown, with all his wits active, and his
vision clear, and who loved plain sirloins better than the fricandeaux and
ragoûts of the artists.

There is also a scholarly handling, with high, historic air blowing
through--as if he liked his Homer better than his Spenser; his prosody is
up to the rules; the longs and shorts are split to a hair’s
breadth--jingling and merry where the sense calls for it; and sober and
resonant where meaning is weighty; flashing, too, where need is--with
sword play and spear-heads that glitter and waver over marching men; but
nowhere--I think it must be said--the tremulous poetic _susurrus_, that
falters, and touches, and detains by its mystic sounds--tempting one into
dim border-lands where higher and more inspired singers find their way.
Christabel is not of his school, nor the star-shaped shadow of
Wordsworth’s Daisy.


_Parliamentarian and Historian._

Meantime occasional papers from Macaulay’s hand found their way into the
pages of the great Northern _Review_--but by no means so many as the Whig
managers could have wished; he had himself grown to think lightly of such
work; the History was calling for his best powers, and there were
parliamentary duties devolving upon him as member for Edinboro’.

I remember catching sight of him somewhere between 1844 and 1846--in his
place in the House of Commons, and of listening to his brilliant
castigation of Sir Robert Peel, in the matter, I think, of the Maynooth
grant. He was well toward fifty then, but sturdy--with the firm tread of a
man who could do his three or four leagues of walking--if need were;
beetle-browed; his clothes ill-adjusted; his neck bundled in a big
swathing of cravat. There was silence when he rose; there was nothing
orator-like in his bearing; rather awkward in his pose; having scorn, too,
as would seem, for any of the graces of elocution. But he was clear,
emphatic, direct, with a great swift river of words all bearing toward
definite aim. Tory critics used to say he wrote his speeches and committed
them to memory. There was no need for that. Words tripped to his tongue as
easily as to his pen. But there were no delicate modulations of voice; no
art of pantomime; no conscious or unconscious assumption of graceful
attitudes; and when subject-matter enfevered and kindled him--as it did
on that occasion--there was the hurry and the over-strained voice of
extreme earnestness.

It was not very long after this that he met with a notable repulse from
his old political supporters in Edinboro’ that touched him grievously. But
there were certain arts of the politician he could not, and would not
learn; he could not truckle; he could not hobnob with clients who made
vulgar claims upon him. He could not make domiciliary visits, to kiss the
babies--whether of patrons, or of editors; he could not listen to twaddle
from visiting committees, without breaking into a righteous wrath that
hurt his chances. Edinboro’, afterward, however, cleared the record, by
giving him before his death a triumphant return to Parliament.

Meantime that wonderful History had been written, and its roll of
magniloquent periods made echo in every quarter of the literary world. Its
success was phenomenal. After the issue of its second couplet of volumes
the publishers sent to the author a check for £20,000 on account. Such
checks passing between publisher and author were then uncommon;
and--without straining a point--I think I may say they are now. With its
Macaulay endorsement, it makes a unique autograph, now in the possession
of the Messrs. Longmans--but destined to find place eventually among the
manuscript treasures of the British Museum.

The great history is a partisan history, but it is the work of a bold and
out-spoken and manly partisan. The colors that he uses are intense and
glaring; but they are blended in the making of his great panorama of King
William’s times, with a marvellous art. We are told that he was an
advocate and not a philosopher; that he was a rhetorician and not a poet.
We may grant all this, and we may grant more--and yet I think we shall
continue to cherish his work. Men of greater critical acumen and nicer
exploration may sap the grounds of some of his judgments; cooler writers,
and those of more self-restraint, may draw the fires by which his
indignations are kindled; but it will be very long before the world will
cease to find high intellectual refreshment in the crackle of his
epigrams, in his artful deployment of testimony, in his picturesque array
of great historic characters and in the roll of his sonorous periods.

Yet he is the wrong man to copy; his exaltations make an unsafe model. He
exaggerates--but he knows how to exaggerate. He paints a truth in colors
that flow all round the truth, and enlarge it. Such outreach of rhetoric
wants corresponding capacity of brain, and pen-strokes that never swerve
or tremble. Smallish men should beware how they copy methods which want
fulness of power and the besom of enthusiasm to fill out their compass.
Homer can make all his sea-waves iridescent and multitudinous--all his
women high-bosomed or blue-eyed--and all his mountains sweep the skies:
but _we_ should be modest and simple.

It was not until Macaulay had done his last work upon the book (still
incomplete) which he counted his monument, that he moved away from his
bachelor quarters in the Albany (Piccadilly) and established himself at
Holly Lodge, which, under the new name (he gave it) of Oirlie Lodge, may
be found upon a winding lane in that labyrinth of city roads that lies
between Kensington Gardens and Holland House. There was a bit of green
lawn attached, which he came to love in those last days of his; though he
had been without strong rural proclivities. Like Gibbon, he never hunted,
never fished, rarely rode. But now and then--among the thorn-trees
reddening into bloom and the rhododendrons bursting their buds, the May
mornings were “delicious” to him. He enjoyed, too, overmuch, the modest
hospitalities he could show in a home of his own. There are joyfully
turned notes--in his journal or in his familiar letters--of “a goose for
Michaelmas,” and of “a chine and oysters for Christmas eve,” and
“excellent audit ale” on Lord Mayor’s day. There, too, at Holly Lodge,
comes to him in August, 1857, when he was very sad about India (as all the
world were), an offer of a peerage. He accepts it, as he had accepted all
the good things of life--cheerily and squarely, and was thenceforward
Baron Macaulay of Rothley. He appears from time to time on the benches of
the Upper House, but never spoke there. His speaking days were over. A
little unwonted fluttering of the heart warned him that the end was not
far off.

A visit to the English lakes and to Scotland in 1859 did not--as was
hoped--give him access of strength. He was much disturbed, too (at this
crisis), by the prospect of a long separation from his sister, Lady
Trevelyan--whose husband had just now been appointed Governor of Madras.
“This prolonged parting,” he says, “this slow sipping of the vinegar and
the gall is terrible!” And the parting came earlier than he thought, and
easier; for on a day of December in the same year he died in his library
chair. His nephew and biographer had left him in the morning--sitting with
his head bent forward on his chest--an attitude not unusual for him--in a
languid and drowsy reverie. In the evening, a little before seven, Lady
Trevelyan was summoned, and the biographer says:--“As we drove up to the
porch of my uncle’s house, the maids ran crying into the darkness to meet
us; and we knew that all was over.”

He was not an old man--only fifty-nine. The stone which marks his grave in
Westminster Abbey is very near to the statue of Addison.

In estimating our indebtedness to Macaulay as a historian--where his fame
and execution were largest--we must remember that his method of close
detail forbade wide outlook or grasp of long periods of time. If he had
extended the same microscopic examination and dramatic exhibit of
important personages to those succeeding reigns, which he originally
intended to cover--coming down to the days of William IV.--he would have
required fifty volumes; and if he had attempted, in the same spirit, a
reach like that of Green or Hume, his rhetorical periods must have
overflowed more than two hundred bulky quartos! No ordinary man could read
such; and--thank Heaven!--no extraordinary man could write so many.


_Some Tory Critics._

Among those who sought with a delightsome pertinacity for flaws in the
historic work of Macaulay, in his own time, was John Wilson Croker, to
whom I have already alluded.[86] He was an older man than the historian;
Irish by birth, handsome, well-allied by marriage, plausible, fawning on
the great (who were of _his_ party) wearing easily and boastfully his
familiarity with Wellington, Lansdowne and Cumberland, airing daintily his
literary qualities at the tables of Holland or Peel; proud of his place in
Parliament, where he loved to show a satiric grace of speech, and the
curled lips of one used to more elegant encounters. In short, he was the
very man to light up the blazing contempt of such another as Macaulay;
more than all since Croker was identified with the worst form of Toryism,
and the other always his political antagonist.

Such being the _animus_ of the parties, one can imagine the delight of
Croker in detecting a blunder of Macaulay, and the delight of Macaulay
when he was able to pounce upon the blunders in Croker’s edition of
_Boswell’s Johnson_. This was on many counts an excellent work and--with
its emendations--holds its ground now; but I think the slaps, and the
scourgings, and the derisive mockery which the critic dealt out to the
self-poised and elegant Croker have made a highly appetizing _sauce
piquante_ for the book these many a year. For my own part, I never enjoy
it half so much as when I think of Macaulay’s rod of discipline “starting
the dust out of the varlet’s [editor’s] jacket.”

It is not a question if Croker deserved this excoriation; we are so taken
up with the dexterity and effectiveness with which the critical professor
uses the surgeon’s knife, that we watch the operation, and the exceeding
grace and ease with which he lays bare nerve after nerve, without once
inquiring if the patient is really in need of such heroic treatment.

The Croker Papers[87]--two ponderous volumes of letters and diary which
have been published in these latter years--have good bits in them; but
they are rare bits, to be dredged for out from quagmires of rubbish. The
papers are interesting, furthermore, as showing how a cleverish man, with
considerable gifts of presence and of brain, with his re-actionary Toryism
dominant, and made a fetich of, can still keep a good digestion and go in
a respectable fashion through a long life--backwards, instead of “face to
the front.”

In this connection it is difficult to keep out of mind that other Toryish
administrator of the _Quarterly_ bombardments of reform and of
Liberalists--I mean Lockhart (to whom reference has already been made in
the present volume), and who, with all of Croker’s personal gifts, added
to these a still larger scorn than that of his elder associate in the
Quarterly conclaves, for those whose social disabilities disqualified them
for breathing the rarefied air which circulated about Albemarle Street and
the courts of Mr. Murray. Even Mr. Lang in his apologetic but very
interesting story of Lockhart’s life,[88] cannot forbear quiet
reprehensive allusions to that critic’s odious way of making caustic
allusion to “the social rank” of political opponents; although much of
this he avers “is said in wrath.” Yet it is an unworthy wrath, always and
everywhere, which runs in those directions. Lockhart, though an acute
critic, and a very clever translator, was a supreme worshipper of
“conditions,” rather than of qualities. He never forgave Americans for
being Americans, and never preter-mitted his wrathy exposition of their
‘low-lived antecedents’ socially. The baronetcy of his father-in-law, Sir
Walter Scott, was I think, a perpetual and beneficent regalement to him.


_Two Gone-by Story Tellers._

Must it be said that the jolly story-teller of the sea and of the
sea-ports, who wrote for our uncles and aunts, and elder brothers, the
brisk, rollicking tales about _Midshipman Easy_, and _Japhet in Search of
a Father_, is indeed gone by?

His name was Frederick Marryat,[89] the son of a well-to-do London
gentleman, who had served the little Borough of Sandwich as member of
Parliament (and was also author of some verses and political tractates),
but who did not wean his boy from an inborn love of the sea. To gratify
this love the boy had sundry adventurous escapades; but when arrived at
the mature age of fourteen, he entered as midshipman in the Royal
Navy--his first service, and a very active one, being with that brave and
belligerent Lord Cochrane, who later won renown on the west coast of South
America. Adventures of most hazardous and romantic qualities were not
wanting under such an officer, all of which were stored in the retentive
memory of the enthusiastic and observant midshipman, and thereafter, for
years succeeding, were strewn with a free hand over his tales of the sea.
These break a good many of the rules of rhetoric--and so do sailors; they
have to do with the breakage of nearly all the commandments--and so do
sailors. But they are breezy; they are always pushing forward; spars and
sails are all ship-shape; and so are the sailors’ oaths, and the rattle of
the chain-cables, and the slatting of the gaskets, and the smell of the
stews from the cook’s galley.

There is also a liberal and _quasi_ democratic coloring of the links and
interludes of his novels. The trials of _Peter Simple_ grow largely out of
the cruel action of the British laws of primogeniture; nor does the jolly
midshipman--grandson, or nephew--forego his satiric raps at my lord
“Privilege.” Yet Marryat shows no special admiration for such evolutions
of the democratic problem as he encounters in America.[90]

Upon the whole, one finds no large or fine literary quality in his books;
but the _fun_ in them is positive, and catching--as our aunts and uncles
used to find it; but it is the fun of the tap-room, and of the for’castle,
rather than of the salon, or the library. For all this, scores and scores
of excellent old people were shaking their sides--in the early part of
this century--over the pages of Captain Marryat--in the days when other
readers with sighs were bemoaning the loss of the “Great Magician’s” power
in the dreary story of _Count Robert of Paris_, or kindling into a new
worship as they followed Ainsworth’s[91] vivid narrative of Dick Turpin’s
daring gallop from London to York.

A nearer name to us, and one perhaps more familiar, is that of G. P. R.
James,[92] an excellent, industrious man, who drove his trade of
novel-making--as our engineers drive wells--with steam, and pistons, and
borings, and everlasting clatter.

Yet,--is this sharp, irreverent mention, wholly fair to the old gentleman,
upon whose confections, and pastries, so many of us have feasted in times
past? What a delight it was--not only for youngsters, but for white-haired
judges, and country lawyers--to listen for the jingle of the spurs, when
one of Mr. James’s swarthy knights--“with a grace induced by habits of
martial exercise”--came dashing into old country quietudes, with his visor
up; or, perhaps in “a Genoa bonnet of black velvet, round which his rich
chestnut hair coiled in profusion”--making the welkin ring with his--“How
now, Sir Villain!”

I caught sight of this great necromancer of “miniver furs,” and
mantua-making chivalry--in youngish days, in the city of New York--where
he was making a little over-ocean escape from the multitudinous work that
flowed from him at home; a well-preserved man, of scarce fifty years,
stout, erect, gray-haired, and with countenance blooming with mild uses of
mild English ale--kindly, unctuous--showing no signs of deep
thoughtfulness or of harassing toil. I looked him over, in boyish way, for
traces of the court splendors I had gazed upon, under his ministrations,
but saw none; nor anything of the “manly beauty of features, rendered
scarcely less by a deep scar upon the forehead,”--nor “of the gray cloth
doublets slashed with purple;” a stanch, honest, amiable, well-dressed
Englishman--that was all.

And yet, what delights he had conjured for us! Shall we be ashamed to name
them, or to confess it all? Shall the modern show of new flowerets of
fiction, and of lilies--forced to the front in January--make us forget
utterly the old cinnamon roses, and the homely but fragrant pinks, which
once regaled and delighted us, in the April and May of our age?

What incomparable siestas those were, when, from between half-closed
eyelids, we watched for the advent of the two horsemen--one in corselet of
shining silver, inlaid with gold, and the other with hauberk of bright
steel rings--slowly riding down the distant declivity, under the rays of a
warm, red sunset! Then, there were abundance of gray castle-walls--ever so
high, the ivy hanging deliciously about them; and there were clanging
chains of draw-bridges, that rattled when a good knight galloped over; and
there were stalwart gypsies lying under hedges, with charmingest of little
ones with flaxen hair (who are not gypsies at all, but only stolen); and
there is clash of arms; and there are bad men, who get punched with spear
heads--which is good for them; and there are jolly old burghers who drink
beer, and “troll songs”; and assassins who lurk in the shadows of long
corridors--where the moonbeams shine upon their daggers; and there are
dark-haired young women, who look out of casements and kiss their hands
and wave white kerchiefs,--and somebody sees it in the convenient edge of
the wood, and salutes in return, and steals away; and the assassin
escapes, and the gypsies are captured in the bush, and some bad king is
killed, and an old parchment is found, and the stars come out, and the
rivulet murmurs, and the good knight comes back; and the dark tresses are
at the casement, and she smiles, and the marriage bells ring, and they are
happy. And the school bell (for supper) rings, and we are happy!

       *       *       *       *       *

As I close this book with these last shadowy glimpses of story-tellers,
who have told their pleasant tales, and have lived out their time, and
gone to rest, I see lifting over that fair British horizon, where Victoria
shows her queenly presence--the modest Mr. Pickwick, with his gaiters and
bland expanse of figure; Thackeray, too, with his stalwart form and
spectacled eyes is peering out searchingly upon all he encounters; the
refined face of Ruskin is also in evidence, and his easy magniloquence is
covering one phase of British art with new robes. A woman’s Dantesque
profile shows the striking qualities which are fairly mated by the
striking passages in _Adam Bede_ and _Daniel Deronda_; one catches sight,
too, of the shaggy, keen visage of the quarrel-loving Carlyle, and of
those great twin-brethren of poesy--Browning and Tennyson--the Angelo and
the Raphael of latter images in verse. Surely these make up a wonderful
grouping of names--not unworthy of comparison with those others whom we
found many generations ago, grouped around another great queen of England,
who blazed in her royal court, and flaunted her silken robes, and--is
gone.



FOOTNOTES


[1] Robert Southey, b. 1774; d. 1843. _Joan of Arc_ (pub.) 1796;
_Thalaba_, 1801; _A Vision of Judgment_, 1821; _Life of Nelson_, 1813;
_The Doctor_, 1834-47. _Life and Correspondence_, edited by Rev. Chas.
Cuthbert Southey, 1849-50.

[2] In a letter to his friend Bedford (he being then aged fifty) he
writes: “I have taken again to my old coat and old shoes; dine at the
reasonable hour of four; enjoy, as I used to do, the wholesome indulgence
of a nap after dinner,” etc.

[3] Letter to Bedford, under date of December, 1793.--_Life and
Correspondence_, p. 69.

[4] In the _Imaginary Conversation_ between Southey and Porson, Landor
makes Porson say: “It is pleasant to find two poets [Southey and
Wordsworth] living as brothers, and particularly when the palm lies
between them, with hardly a third in sight.”

Lamb, too, in a letter to Mr. Coleridge (p. 194, Moxon edition of 1832,
London), says: “On the whole, I expect Southey one day to rival Milton; I
already deem him equal to Cowper, and superior to all living poets
besides.” This is _apropos_ of _Joan of Arc_, which had then recently
appeared. He begins his letter: “With _Joan of Arc_ I have been delighted,
amazed; I had not presumed to expect anything of such excellence from
Southey.”

[5] George IV. was appointed Regent in the year 1811, the old king, George
III., being then plainly so far bereft of his senses as to incapacitate
him even for intelligent clerical service. He died, as we shall find
later, in the year 1820, when the Regent succeeded, and reigned for ten
years.

The _Croker Papers_ (1884), recently published, make mention of Mr.
Croker’s intervention in the matter of the bestowal of the Laureate-ship
upon Southey. Croker was an old friend of Southey, and a trusted
go-between in all literary service for the royal household.

[6] The sixth and seventh volumes appeared after the poet’s death, in
1847.

[7] Henry Crabb Robinson, b. 1775; d. 1867. _Diary, Reminiscences_, etc.
(ed. by Sadler), 1869.

[8] Best edition is that of Macmillan, London, 1869.

[9] Thomas De Quincey, b. 1785; d. 1859. _Confessions of an English Opium
Eater_, 1821. Complete edition of works, 1852-55. _Life and Writings_: H.
A. Page, 2 vols. London, 1877.

[10] The entry is of 1812, p. 391, chap. xv. Macmillan’s edition. London,
1869.

[11] Page 215; vol. ii., _Reminiscences_. Boston Edition.

[12] John Wilson, b. 1785; d. 1854; better known as Christopher North, his
pseudonym in _Blackwood_. _The Isle of Palms_, 1811; _The City of the
Plague_, 1816; _Recreations of Christopher North_, 1842. In 1851 a
civil-list pension of £300 was conferred upon him. His younger brother
James Wilson was a well-known naturalist, and author of _The Rod and the
Gun_.

[13] “Old North and Young North.” _Blackwood_, June, 1828.

[14] Dorothy Wordsworth, under date of 1809, writes to her friend, Lady
Beaumont--“Surely I have spoken to you of Mr. Wilson, a young man of some
fortune, who has built a house in a very fine situation not far from
Bowness.… He has from boyhood been a passionate admirer of my brother’s
writings. [And again.] We all, including Mr. De Quincey and Coleridge,
have been to pay the Bachelor (Wilson) a visit, and we enjoyed ourselves
very much in a pleasant mixture of merriment, and thoughtful discourse.…
He is now twenty-three years of age.”--Coleorton _Letters_, vol. ii, p.
91.

[15] John Gibson Lockhart, b. 1794; d. 1854. Connected with _Blackwood_,
1818; _Adam Blair_, 1822; with _Quarterly Review_, 1826-53; _Ancient
Spanish Ballads_, 1823; _Memoirs of Walter Scott_, 1836-38. Recent _Life
of Lockhart_, by Andrew Lang. 2 vols., 8vo. Nimmo, London.

[16] Mrs. Gordon says, quoting from her mother’s record: Mr. Wilson is as
busy studying as possible; indeed, he has little time before him for his
great task; he says it will take one month at least to make out a
catalogue of the books he has to read and consult. I am perfectly appalled
when I go into the dining-room and see all the folios, quartos, and
duodecimos, with which it is literally filled; and the poor culprit
himself sitting in the midst, with a beard as long and red as an ancient
carrot; for he has not shaved for a fortnight. P. 215, _Memoir of John
Wilson_. We are sorry to see that Mr. Lang, in his recent _Life of
Lockhart_ (1897), pp. 135-6-7-8, has put some disturbing cross-coloring
(perhaps justly) upon the pleasant portrait which Mrs. Gordon has drawn of
Christopher North.

[17] Mrs. Gordon’s _Memoir of John Wilson_, p. 222. The statement is
credited to the author of _The Two Cosmos_. Middleton, New York, 1863.

[18] Thomas Campbell, b. 1777; d. 1844. _The Pleasures of Hope_, 1799;
_Gertrude of Wyoming_, 1809; _Life of Petrarch_, 1841; Dr. Beattie’s
_Life_, 1850.

[19] _Maclise Portrait Gallery_, London, 1883 (which cites in
confirmation, _Notes and Queries_, December 13, 1862).

[20] De Quincey says that he was the only man in all Europe who quoted
Wordsworth as early as 1802. Yet, _per contra_, the _Lyrical Ballads_ had
warm praises from Jeffrey (in _Monthly Review_) and from Southey (in
_Critical_)--showing that the finer ears had caught the new notes from
Helicon.

[21] Walter Scott, b. 1771; d. 1832; _Lay of Last Minstrel_, 1805;
_Marmion_, 1808; _Lady of the Lake_, 1810; _Waverley_, 1814; _Woodstock_,
1826; _Life of Napoleon_, 1827; _Life_, by Lockhart, 1832-37.

[22] He was clerk in Her Majesty’s Foreign Office in London. Carlyle says
in a letter (of date of 1842), “I have the liveliest impression of that
good honest Scotch face and character, though never in contact with the
young man but once.”--Lang’s _Lockhart_, p. 232, vol. ii.

[23] For those readers who have a failing for genealogic quests, I give a
_résumé_ of the Scott family history and succession of heirs to
Abbotsford. The earlier items are from Scott’s black-letter Bible.

  Walter Scott, Senior, m. 1758 = Anne Rutherford.
                                |
                   +------------+
                   |
            Walter Scott, Bart.,
            b. 1771; d. 1832; m. 1797 = Margaret Charlotte
            one of twelve children,   |   Carpenter, of French
            of whom five              |   blood and birth.
            reached maturity.         |
                                      |
          +-----------------+---------+--------+-------------+
          |                 |                  |             |
  Charlotte Sophia,     Walter, Br. Army,   Anne, bapt.  Charles,
  bapt. 1799; d.        bapt. 1801; m.      1803; d.     bapt. 1805; d.
  1837; m. 1820         1825, Miss Jobson;  unmarried    unmarried 1841.
  = J. G. Lockhart.     d. s. p. 1847.      1833.
          |
     +----+----------------+---------------------+
     |                     |                     |
  John Hugh,          Walter Scott,        Charlotte, b. 1828; d. 1858
  b. 1821; d.         b. 1826; d.          m. 1847, J. R. Hope,
  1831.               unmarried            later Hope Scott.
                      1853.                      |
                                                 |
                +--------------------------------+
                |
        Mary Monica, b. 1852; now Mrs. Maxwell Scott,
        of Abbotsford.

[24] Chapter IV. _Queen Anne and the Georges._

[25] Lockhart’s _Life of Scott_, chapter viii., pp. 126-27, vol. iii.,
Paris edition.

[26] Henry Mackenzie, b. 1745; d. 1831. _Man of Feeling_, 1771; _The
Lounger_, 1785.

[27] Rev. Sydney Smith, b. 1771; d. 1845. _Memoir_ by Lady Holland.

[28] Francis Horner, b. 1778; d. 1817. _Memoirs and Correspondence_, 1843.

[29] Henry Brougham (Lord Brougham and Vaux), b. 1778; d. 1868. _Collected
Speeches_, 1838. _Historic Sketches, etc._, 1839-43. Autobiography (edited
by a brother), published in 1871.

[30] _Albert Lunel; or The Château of Languedoc._ Lowndes (Bohn) says--“3
vols. post 8vo, 1844. This novel was suppressed on the eve of publication,
and it is said not above five copies of the original edition are extant.”
The _Maclise Portrait Gallery_ speaks of an issue in 1872.

[31] _Life and Correspondence of Lord Jeffrey_, by Lord Cockburn, p. 283,
vol. i., Harper’s edition.

[32] A grandniece of the great marplot John Wilkes of George III.’s time,
and a near connection (if I am not mistaken) of Captain Wilkes of the
South Sea Expedition and of the Mason and Slidell seizure.

[33] Cited from recollection; but very close to his own utterance, in a
letter to a friend.

[34] This was arranged through Lord Grey, in exchange for a place in
Bristol Cathedral, which had been bestowed by his Tory friend Lyndhurst.
To the same friend he was indebted for his living at Combe Fleurey.

[35] _Life and Times of Rev. Sydney Smith_, by STUART J. REID, p. 226,
1885.

[36] James Mackintosh, b. 1765; d. 1832; _Vindiciæ Gallicæ_ (reply to
Burke), 1791; _Memoirs_, by his son, 1835.

[37] _History of the Revolution in England in 1688, Comprising a View of
the Reign of James II. from his Accession to the Enterprise [sic] of the
Prince of Orange_, London, 1834.

[38] Smith, Jeffrey, Brown, Horner, and Brougham. Stephens: _Hours in a
Library_, iii., 140.

The “Brown” alluded to as one of the founders, was Dr. Thomas Brown, a
distinguished physician and psychologist (b. 1778; d. 1820), who after
issue of third number of the _Review_, had differences with Jeffrey
(virtual editor) which led him to withdraw his support. _Life_, by Welsh,
p. 79 _et seq._

[39] I cannot forbear giving--though only in a note--one burst of his
fervid oratory, when his powers were at their best:

“It was the boast of Augustus--it formed part of the glare in which the
perfidies of his earlier years were lost--that he found Rome of brick, and
left it of marble--a praise not unworthy of a great prince, and to which
the present reign [George IV.] has its claim also. But how much nobler
will be our Sovereign’s boast, when he shall have it to say, that he found
law dear and left it cheap; found it a sealed book, and left it a living
letter; found it the patrimony of the rich, left it the inheritance of the
poor; found it the two-edged sword of craft and oppression, left it the
staff of honesty and the shield of innocence.” Speech, on _Present State
of the Law_, February 7, 1828.

[40] William Gifford, b. 1757; d. 1826. I give the birth-date named by
himself in his autobiography, though the new _National Dictionary of
Biography_ gives date of 1756. Gifford--though not always the best
authority--ought to have known the year when he was born.

Ed. _Quarterly Review_, 1809-1824; _Juvenal_, 1802; _Ben Jonson_, 1816.

Some interesting matter concerning the early life of Gifford may be found
in Memoirs of _John Murray_, vol. 1, pp. 127 _et seq._

[41] John Wilson Croker, b. 1780; d. 1857, wrote voluminously for the
_Quarterly Review_; _Life of Johnson_ (ed.), 1831; his _Memoirs_ and
_Correspondence_, 1885.

[42] Very much piquant talk about George IV. and his friends may be found
in the _Journal of Mary Frampion from 1779 until 1846_. London: Sampson
Low & Co., 1885.

[43] _English Lands and Letters_, vol. iii., pp. 168-70.

[44] Queen Charlotte, d. 1818.

[45] W. S. Landor, b. 1775; d. 1864. _Gebir_, 1798; _Imaginary
Conversations_, 1824; Foster’s _Life_, 1869.

[46] P. 465. _Last Fruit from an Old Tree._

[47] Colvin cites this from unpublished verses.

[48] In his _Last Fruits from an Old Tree_, p. 334, Moxon Edition, Landor
writes: “Southey could grasp great subjects and master them; Coleridge
never attempted them; Wordsworth attempted it and failed.” This is
strongly _ex parte_!

[49] I would strongly urge, however, the reading and purchase, if may be,
of Colvin’s charming little _Golden Treasury_ collection from Landor.

[50] Leigh Hunt, b. 1784; d. 1859. _Francesca da Rimini_, 1816;
_Recollections of Byron_, 1828; _The Indicator_, 1819-21; _Autobiography_,
1850.

[51] Thomas Moore, b. 1779; d. 1852. _Lalla Rookh_, 1817. _Life of Byron_,
1830. _Alciphron_, 1839.

[52] Sloperton was near the centre of Wiltshire, a little way northward
from the old market-town of Devizes. Mr. William Winter, in his _Gray Days
and Gold_, has given a very charming account of this home of Moore’s and
of its neighborhood--so full of English atmosphere, and of the graces and
benignities of the Irish poet, as to make me think regretfully of my tamer
mention.

[53] William Hazlitt, b. 1778; d. 1830. _Characters of Shakespeare_, 1817;
_Table Talk_, 1821; _Liber Amoris_, 1823; _Life of Napoleon_, 1828; _Life_
(by Grandson), 1867; a later book of memoirs, _Four Generations of a
Literary Family_, appeared 1897. (It gave nothing essentially new, and was
quickly withdrawn from sale.)

[54] Henry Hallam, b. 1777; d. 1859. _Middle Ages_, 1818. _Literature of
Europe_, 1837-39. Sketch of _Life_, by Dean Milman in _Transactions of
Royal Society_, vol. x.

[55] Marguerite Power (Countess of Blessington), b. 1789; d. 1849; m.
Captain Farmer, 1804; m. Earl of Blessington, 1817. 1822-1829, travelling
on Continent. _Idler in Italy_, 1839-40 (first novel, about 1833).
_Conversations with Lord Byron_, 1834. Her special _reign_ in London, 1831
to 1848.

[56] There is a very interesting, but by no means flattered, account of
Lady Blessington and of her dinners and receptions in Greville’s _Journal
of the Reign of Queen Victoria_, chapter iv., p. 167, vol. i.

[57] Edward L. Bulwer (Lord Lytton), b. 1803; d. 1873; _Pelham_, 1828;
_Rienzi_, 1835; _Caxton Novels_, 1849-53; _Richelieu_, 1839; his
_Biography_ (never fully completed) has been written by his son, the
second Lord Lytton. It is doubtful, however, if its developments, and
inevitable counter-developments, have brought any access of honor to the
elder Bulwer.

[58] Benjamin Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield), b. 1804; d. 1881. _Vivian
Grey_, 1826-27; _Contarini Fleming_, 1832; _Coningsby_, 1844; _Lothair_,
1870. Was Premier, 1867, 1874-80. Created Earl of Beaconsfield, 1876.

[59] _Vaurien_, 1797; _Flim-Flams_, 1805; _Despotism_, or _Fall of the
Jesuits_, 1811.

[60] A. E. Chalon, an artist much in vogue in the days of “Tokens,”--who
also painted Lady Blessington,--but of no lasting reputation.

[61] In illustration of his comparatively humble position early, Greville
in his later _Journal_, Chapter XXIV., speaks of Disraeli’s once proposing
to Moxon, the publisher, to take him (Disraeli) into partnership; Greville
says Moxon told him this.

[62] George Noel Gordon (Lord Byron), b. (London) 1788; d. (Greece) 1824.
_Hours of Idleness_, 1807; _English Bards, etc._, 1809; _Childe Harold_ (2
cantos), 1812; _Don Juan_, 1819-24; Moore’s _Life_, 1830; Trelawney,
_Recollections, etc._, 1858. The first volume (Macmillan, 1897) has
appeared of a new edition of Byron’s works, with voluminous notes (in
over-fine print) by William Ernest Henley. The editorial stand-point may
be judged by this averment from the preface,--“the sole English poet bred
since Milton to live a master-influence in the world at large.”

Another full edition of works, with editing by Earl of Lovelace (grandson
of Byron), is announced as shortly to appear from the press of Murray in
London, and of Scribners in New York.

[63] Byron’s _Narrative_, published in the first volume of _Hawkesworth’s
Collection_. Hon. John Byron, Admiral, etc., was at one time Governor of
Newfoundland; b. 1723; d. 1786.

[64] The short line is not enough. We must give the burden of that
apostrophe to the land of Hellas, though only in a note:

    “Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields;
      Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smiled,
    And still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields.
      There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds,
    The free-born wanderer of the mountain air;
      Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,
    Still in his beams Mendeli’s marbles glare,
      Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but Nature still is fair.”

[65] I cite that part of the “Dream” which, though written much time
after, was declared by the poet, and by both friends and foes, to
represent faithfully his attitude--both moral and physical--on the
occasion of his marriage.

[66] This poem appeared about the middle of April, 1816. The final break
in his relations with Lady Byron had occurred, probably, in early February
of the same year. On December 10, 1815, his daughter Ada was born; and on
April 25th, next ensuing, he sailed away from England forever. Byron
insisted that the poem (“Fare thee well”), though written in sincerity,
was published against his inclinations, through the over-zeal of a
friend.--_Moore’s Life_, p. 526, vol. i.

[67] Percy Bysshe Shelley, b. 1792; d. (by drowning in Gulf of Spezia)
1822. _Queen Mab_, pub. 1821 (but privately printed 1813); _Alastor_,
1816; _Laon and Cythna_ (afterward _Revolt of Islam_), 1818; _Adonais_,
1821. _Life_, by Mrs. Shelley, 1845; Hogg’s _Life_, 1858; Rossetti’s,
1870. Besides which there is biographic material, more or less full, by
Forman, Trelawny, McCarthy, Leigh Hunt, Garnett, and Jeaffreson (_Real
Shelley_). _Life_, in _English Men of Letters_, by the late John Addington
Symonds; and in 1886, Professor Dowden’s work.

[68] Rossetti, in _Ency. Britannica_, says, “in Christ Church, Newark”--as
to which item (repeated by Dowden) there has been some American
wonderment!

[69] July, 1804, to July, 1810; _Athenæum_, No. 3,006, June, 1885.

[70] William Godwin, b. 1756; d. 1836. _Political Justice_, 1793; _Caleb
Williams_, 1794. William Austen (author of _Peter Rugg_), in his _Letters
from London_, 1802-3, describes a visit to Godwin at his
cottage--Somerston; notices a portrait of “Mary” (Mrs. Shelley) hanging
over the mantel.

[71] Miss Martineau (p. 304, vol. ii., _Autobiography_) says that Godwin
told her he wrote the first half of _Caleb Williams_ in three months, and
then stopped for six--finishing it in three more. “This pause,” she says,
“in the middle of a work so intense, seems to me a remarkable incident.”

[72] Separation took place about the middle of June, 1814; she destroyed
herself, November 10, 1816. At one time there had been ugly rumors that
she was untrue to him; and there is some reason to believe that Shelley
once entertained this belief, but there is no adequate testimony to that
end; Godwin’s _dixit_ should not count for very much. Dowden leaves the
matter in doubt.

[73] I am reminded that Macready’s impersonation of Werner was a noted and
successful one. _Sardanapalus_ and the _Two Foscari_ enlisted also the
fervor of this actor’s dramatic indorsement. But these all--needed a
Macready.

[74] Very full account of the Chancery proceedings in respect to children
of Shelley may be found in Professor Dowden’s biography. By this it would
appear that by decision of Lord Eldon (July 25, 1818) Shelley was allowed
to see his children twelve times a year--if in the presence of their
regularly appointed guardians (Dr. and Mrs. Hume).

[75] John Keats, b. 1795; d. 1821. First “collected” _Poems_, 1817;
_Endymion_, 1818; second volume of collected _Poems_, 1820; _Life and
Letters_--Lord Houghton (Milnes), 1848.

[76] “Ode to a Nightingale,” vi.

[77] In letter 573, to Murray (Halleck Col., date of Genoa, November,
1822), Byron says: “I see somebody represents the Hunts and Mrs. Shelley
as living in my house; it is a falsehood.… I do not see them twice a
month.”

[78] Professor Hoppin, in his honest and entertaining _Old England_,
speaks of it (p. 258) as “a dull, dirty village,” and--of the church--as
“most forlorn.”

[79] _Gray Days and Gold_; chapter viii. Macmillan, 1896.

[80] This relates, of course, to the condition of the Abbey in the days of
Byron’s childhood. Colonel Wildman, a distinguished officer in the
Peninsular War, who succeeded to the ownership (by purchase) about 1817,
expended very large sums upon such judicious improvements as took away its
old look of desolation.

[81] _Croker Papers_, chapter xviii. Closing of Session of 1833. Croker
would have spoken more gently of him in those latter days, when the king
turned his back on Reformers.

[82] The _Penny Magazine_ appeared first in 1832; the _Cyclopædia_ in the
following year.

[83] The reduction of tax from 4_d._ to 1_d._ took place in 1836.

[84] Thomas Babington Macaulay, b. 1800; d. 1859. _History of England_,
1848-55-61. _Lays of Ancient Rome_, 1842. His _Essays_ (published in
America), 1840. Complete _Works_, London, 8 vols., 1866. _Life_, by
Trevelyan, 1876.

[85] Greville (_Journal of Queen Victoria’s Time_, vol. i., p. 369) speaks
of a dinner at Lady Holland’s--Macaulay being present--when her ladyship,
growing tired of the eloquence of Speakers of the House of Commons and
Fathers of the Church, said: “Well, Mr. Macaulay, can you tell us anything
of dolls--when first named or used?” Macaulay was ready on the
instant--dilated upon Roman dolls and others--citing Persius, “_Veneri
donato a virgine puppæ_.”

[86] See p. 116, _Ante_.

[87] _Memoirs and Correspondence_, 1885.

[88] Lang’s _Lockhart_, p. 42, vol. ii.

[89] Frederick Marryat, b. 1792; d. 1848; R. N., 1806; Commander, 1815;
resigned, 1830. _Frank Mildmay_, 1829; _Midshipman Easy_, 1836; _Peter
Simple_, 1837; _Jacob Faithful_, 1838; _Life_, by his daughter, Florence,
1872.

[90] _Diary in America_, by Captain F. Marryat, 1839.

[91] William Harrison Ainsworth, b 1805; d. 1882. _Rookwood_,
1834--chiefly notable for its wonderful description of Dick Turpin’s
ride--upon Black Bess--from London to York. _Tower of London_, 1840.

[92] G. P. R. James, b. 1801; d. 1860. _Richelieu_ (first novel), 1829;
_Darnley_, 1830; _One in a Thousand_, 1835; _Attila_, 1837. His books
count far above a hundred in number: Lowndes (Bohn) gives over seventy
titles of novels alone. What he might have done, with a modern type-writer
at command, it is painful to imagine.



INDEX.


  Abbotsford, 66;
    the author’s visit to, 67 _et seq._; 81.

  “Abou-ben-Adhem,” 152.

  “Adam Bede,” 287.

  “Adonais,” 232.

  Ainsworth, W. H., 283.

  “Alastor,” 221.

  Alison, Rev. Archibald, 84.

  “Anacreon,” Moore’s, 154.

  “Ancient Mariner, Rime of the,” 56.

  Arnold, Dr., his experience with the young princes, 118.

  Aylmer, Rose, 129.


  “Battle of Blenheim, The,” 9.

  “Battle of Hohenlinden,” Campbell’s, 53.

  “Battle of Ivry, The,” 264.

  Beaconsfield, Lord. _See_ Disraeli.

  _Blackwood’s Magazine_, 42; 46; 52.

  Blessington, Lady, 174 _et seq._;
    her many fascinations, 176;
    her downfall, 186; 242; 259; 264.

  “Border Minstrelsy,” Scott’s, 60.

  Boswell, Gifford’s satire on, 115.

  Bowles, Caroline, 23.

  Bowles, William Lisle, 248.

  Brougham, Henry, 87;
    his connection with the _Edinburgh Review_, 88;
    becomes Lord Chancellor, 89;
    his manner in Parliament, 90;
    his fervid oratory, 108, note;
    his many quarrels, 109;
    his death, 110; 113;
    his famous defence of Queen Caroline, 124; 177;
    his criticism of Byron, 193; 255; 265.

  Brown, Dr. Thomas, his connection with the _Edinburgh Review_, 107, note.

  Browning, Robert, 288.

  Bulwer-Lytton, Edward L., 178; 254.

  Byron, Lord, 56;
    his satire on Scott, 78;
    Leigh Hunt’s quarrel with, 144;
    his opinion of Moore, 161;
    compared with Moore, 162;
    his break with George IV., 168;
    leaves England, 188;
    his family history, 190;
    his boyhood, 191;
    his controversy with Brougham, 193;
    his unfortunate marriage, 201 _et seq._;
    in London, 206;
    separates from his wife, 209;
    leaves England, 212;
    his foreign tour, 214;
    meets Shelley, 216;
    Shelley’s influence on, 222;
    in Italy, 223;
    his scepticism, 224;
    at Shelley’s funeral, 235;
    his character, 239, 240;
    sails for Greece, 242;
    his death, 246; 249.


  “Caleb Williams,” 219.

  Campbell, Thomas, his primness, 52;
    his first poem, 54;
    his clear field in 1799, 56;
    his work in prose and poetry, 58;
    compared with Scott, 61; 82.

  Canning, George, 166.

  Carlyle, Thomas, his mildness towards Southey, 19;
    his criticism of Scott’s work, 75; 288.

  Caroline, Queen, marries the Prince, 121;
    separates from her husband, 122;
    her trial, 124.

  Chalon, A. E., 183.

  Charlotte, Princess, 122.

  Chaworth, Mary, Byron’s poem to, 193; 250.

  “Childe Harold,” 195; 238.

  Cochrane, Lord, 282.

  Cockburn, Lord, his account of Jeffrey, 93.

  Coleridge, Hartley, his home, 4;
    Southey’s letter to, 8.

  Coleridge, S. T., his separation from his wife, 8;
    his intercourse with Southey, 11;
    with Southey at Greta Hall, 15;
    chafes at Southey’s odes, 18;
    compared with Southey, 20; 56.

  “Confessions of an Opium Eater, The,” 34.

  Croker, John Wilson, 116;
    his criticism of Macaulay, 277.

  “Croker Papers, The,” 18, note; 279.


  “Daniel Deronda,” 287.

  De Quincey, Thomas, his home, 4;
    Robinson’s description of, 28;
    his early years, 29;
    settles near Grasmere, 31;
    his affection for Catharine Wordsworth, 32;
    his marriage, 34;
    his laudanum drinking, 35;
    his “Reminiscences,” 37;
    last years and death of, 38, 40;
    his assertion as to the appreciation of Wordsworth in 1802, 56, note.

  Derwent Water, 2; 5; 6.

  “Devereux,” 178.

  Dickens, Charles, his caricature of Leigh Hunt, 147.

  “Disowned, The,” 178.

  Disraeli, Benjamin, his foppishness, 179;
    his antecedents, 180 _et seq._;
    his literary work, 182 _et seq._;
    his ability as Lord Beaconsfield, 186; 201.

  “Doctor, The,” Southey’s, 20.

  “Don Juan,” 224, 239.

  D’Orsay, Comte, 178, 180, 186.

  Dwight, Timothy, 12.


  _Edinburgh Review_, founded by Smith and Jeffrey, 86.

  “Endymion,” 230.

  Erskine, William, 80.

  _Examiner, The_, 142.


  “First Gentleman of Europe, The,” 165.

  Fitzherbert, Mrs., 120 _et seq._

  Fox, Charles, 96.

  _Francesca da Rimini_, Leigh Hunt’s, 148.

  “Frankenstein,” 250.

  Franklin, Benjamin, 143.


  Gamba, Count, 242.

  “Gebir,” Landor’s, 129.

  George III., loses his reason, 17, note;
    Scott’s allusions to, 77; 118.

  George IV., appointed Regent, 17;
    his friendliness toward Sir Walter Scott, 78;
    his later laxity, 119;
    his unfortunate situation, 120;
    ascends the throne, 123;
    last days of, 165.

  “Gertrude of Wyoming,” 54; 57.

  Gifford, William, 114 _et seq._; 163.

  Godwin, Mary, elopes with Shelley, 220.

  Godwin, William, 219.

  Gordon, General, 186.

  Gore House, 177.

  Grasmere, 4.

  Greta Hall, 15.

  Greville, Charles, 166.


  Hallam, Arthur, Tennyson’s lament for, 173.

  Hallam, Henry, his serenity, 171;
    contrasted with Hazlitt, 172, 173; 177.

  Hawthorne, Nathaniel, his account of Leigh Hunt, 146.

  Hazlitt, William, his cynicism, 168;
    his friendship with the Lambs, 169;
    his strenuous personality, 170.

  Helvellyn, Mt., 4, 5.

  Holland, Lady, 96; 213; 264.

  Holland, Lord, 96.

  Horner, Francis, 86.

  “Hours of Idleness,” 193.

  Hucknall-Torkard, 247.

  Humphreys, David, 12.

  Hunt, Isaac, 143.

  Hunt, John, 142.

  Hunt, Leigh, imprisonment of, 142;
    his American blood, 143;
    his first writings, 144;
    his pretty phrases, 145;
    his easy methods of living, 147;
    his poetry, 148 _et seq._;
    his opinion of Moore, 161; 163;
    compared with Hazlitt, 170;
    compared with Shelley, 228;
    his friendship for Shelley, 234;
    at Shelley’s funeral, 235; 269.


  “Idler in Italy, The,” Lady Blessington’s, 175.

  “Imaginary Conversations,” Landor’s, 16, note; 132.

  Ingersoll, Robert, 224.

  “In Memoriam,” 173; 232.

  “Irish Avatar, The,” Byron’s, 168.

  “Isle of Palms, The,” John Wilson’s, 42, 45.


  James, G. P. R., 283.

  “Japhet in Search of a Father,” 281.

  Jeffrey, Francis, his association with Sydney Smith, 85, 86;
    his criticism of Southey and Wordsworth, 92;
    marries Miss Wilkes, 94;
    becomes Lord Jeffrey, 95; 113.

  Jersey, Lady, 213.

  “_Julia de Roubigné_,” Mackenzie’s, 84.


  Keats, John, his school days, 229;
    publishes “Endymion,” 230;
    goes to Italy, 231;
    his death, 232, 233.

  Keble, John, 254.

  “Kehama, The Curse of,” Southey’s, 13.

  “Kenilworth,” 73.

  Keswick, 3; 8.

  Knight, Charles, 253.

  _Knight’s Quarterly Magazine_, 263.


  “Lady of the Lake, The,” 65.

  Lake Country, The, 1 _et seq._

  “Lalla Rookh,” 153;
    great success of, 157.

  Lamb, Charles, 12;
    his opinion of Southey, 16, note;
    his friendship with Hazlitt, 169.

  Lamb, Mary, 169.

  Landor, Walter Savage, 16; 18; 20; 56;
    his lack of popularity, 125 _et seq._;
    his fondness for the country, 127, 128;
    his “Gebir,” 129;
    goes abroad, 131;
    in Italy, 132 _et seq._;
    his genius for skimming, 135;
    his domestic troubles, 136, 137;
    his old age and death, 139;
    strange contrasts in, 165;
    compared with Byron, 188; 228.

  Lang, Andrew, 71; 280.

  Lansdowne, Lord, 255; 265.

  “Laon and Cythna,” 225.

  “Last Days of Pompeii, The,” 179.

  “Lay of the Last Minstrel, The,” 60;
    Byron’s satire on, 78.

  “Lays of Ancient Rome,” 263.

  Lockhart, J. G., his work on the _Quarterly Review_, 47;
    quotation from Lang’s “Life” of, 71;
    Scott’s dying words to, 81; 280.

  “Lycidas,” 232.

  Lytton, Lord, 180. _See also_ Bulwer-Lytton.


  Macaulay, Thomas Babington, his ancestry, 260;
    at the university, 262;
    his first writings, 263;
    supports the Reform Bill, 265;
    finishes his “Lays of Ancient Rome,” 267;
    in Parliament, 270;
    his great History, 272;
    elevated to the peerage, 275;
    his death, 276.

  Macaulay, Zachary, 261.

  Mackenzie, Henry, 84.

  Mackintosh, Sir James, his political career, 104;
    failure of his literary plans, 105 _et seq._

  “Man of Feeling, The,” Mackenzie’s, 84.

  “Manfred,” 215.

  Markham, Dr., 118.

  “Marmion,” 61.

  Marryat, Frederick, goes to sea, 281;
    his books, 282.

  Mavrocordatos, 243.

  Melbourne, Lord, 256; 265.

  “Midshipman Easy,” 281.

  Milbanke, Miss, 203, 204; 250.

  Milbanke, Sir Ralph, 206.

  Moore, Thomas, 56; 101;
    his acquaintance with Leigh Hunt, 153;
    his success in society, 154;
    his impressions of America, 155;
    his domestic relations, 158;
    his great reputation, 160;
    his melodious songs, 164; 177.

  More, Mrs. Hannah, 29, 261.

  “Murder as a Fine Art,” appears in _Blackwood’s_, 37.

  Murray, John, 78;
    starts _The Quarterly_, 114; 160; 205.


  _New Monthly Magazine, The_, 58.

  Newman, Cardinal, 254.

  Newspapers, marvellous increase in circulation of, from 1836 to
    1838, 254.

  Newstead Abbey, 189.

  “_Noctes Ambrosianæ_,” 31; 42.

  “North, Christopher,” 40 _et seq._, 269.


  O’Connell, Daniel, 184.

  “Old Mortality,” 73.


  Paine, Thomas, 143.

  Peel, Sir Robert, 166; 255; 259; 265; 271.

  “Pelham,” 178.

  _Penny Cyclopædia, The_, 253.

  _Penny Magazine, The_, 253.

  “Peter Bell,” Lamb’s and Robinson’s opinions of, 27.

  “Peter Simple,” 282.

  “Pleasures of Hope, The,” 54.

  “Political Justice,” 219.

  Pusey, Dr., 254.


  _Quarterly, The_, founding of, 114.

  _Quarterly Review, The_, 16.

  “Queen Mab,” 221.


  Reform Bill, The, 100; 253.

  “Revolt of Islam, The,” 225.

  “Rienzi,” 179.

  Robinson, Henry Crabb, his friendship with Southey, 23, 24;
    his “Diary and Reminiscences,” 26; 264.

  “Roderick the Goth,” Southey’s, 14.

  Rogers, Samuel, 177.

  Ruskin, John, 287.

  Rydal, 3.


  Scott, Anne, death of, 70.

  Scott, Charles, death of, 70.

  Scott, Sir Walter, 47;
    his boyhood, 59;
    his first poems appear, 60;
    compared with Campbell, 61;
    his marriage, 65;
    genealogy of, 72, note;
    the charm of his stories, 73 _et seq._;
    his love of pageantry, 77;
    his management of the Edinboro’ reception to the King, 79;
    his visit to the Mediterranean, 80;
    his death, 81; 82;
    his opinion of Gifford, 116;
    his admiration for Moore, 161; 168.

  Shelley, Percy Bysshe, his early life, 216;
    his marriage and unhappiness, 218;
    elopes with Mary Godwin, 220;
    meets Byron, 221;
    his influence on Byron, 222;
    his scepticism, 224, 228;
    his death and pagan burial, 235;
    his character, 236.

  Smith, Goldwin, 65; 183.

  Smith, Sydney, settles in Edinboro’, 84;
    assists in founding _The Edinburgh Review_, 86;
    goes to London, 96;
    his ministerial career, 97 _et seq._;
    his famous “Dame Partington” simile, 100;
    his wit, 102;
    his praise of Moore, 161; 177; 264.

  Southey, Robert, 5 _et seq._;
    his early life, 11 _et seq._;
    settles at Keswick, 14;
    appointed Poet Laureate, 18;
    compared with Coleridge, 20;
    refuses a baronetcy, 22;
    death of, 24; 56;
    meets Landor at Como, 131; 168; 177;
    Shelley’s acquaintance with, 218;
    Byron’s satire on, 224; 228.

  Staël, Madame de, 106; 215.

  Stamp Tax, The, effect of its reduction on the newspapers, 254.

  Stanley, Lord, 91.

  Stewart, Dugald, 48; 84.

  Story, W. W., Landor’s connection with, 139.

  Strawberry Hill, 261.

  Swan Inn, The, 4.


  “Talisman, The,” 73.

  Tennyson, Lord, his grief at the death of Arthur Hallam, 172;
    his dramas, 223; 288.

  Thackeray, W. M., 287.

  “Thalaba,” 13;
    profits on, 15.

  Thrale, Madame, 115.

  “Tintern Abbey,” Wordsworth’s, 62.

  Trelawney, E. J., 235; 242.

  Trumbull, John, 144.


  Victoria, Queen, beginning of her reign, 167;
    her accession, 255;
    her marriage, 257; 287.

  “Vision of Judgment, A,” 224.

  “Vivian Grey,” 182.


  Wellington, Duke of, 166; 255.

  West, Benjamin, 144; 245.

  Wilkes, John, 94, note.

  William IV., 81;
    his nerve and pluck, 167;
    his lack of ceremony, 252;
    some events of his time, 253, 254.

  “William and Helen,” Scott’s, 60.

  Wilson, James, 41, note.

  Wilson, John, 31; 36;
    his character, 40, 41;
    his writings in _Blackwood’s_, 42, 46;
    his diaries, 44;
    becomes a professor, 48;
    his success, 50; 82.

  Windermere, 2 _et seq._

  “Wishing Gate, The,” 4.

  Wollstonecraft, Mary, 220.

  Wordsworth, Catharine, 32.

  Wordsworth, Dorothy, 43, note.

  Wordsworth, William, his opposition to railways, 3;
    his grave, 4;
    his attitude toward Southey’s odes, 18;
    his account of Southey’s last years, 23; 30; 31; 32; 56;
    his unlikeness to Scott, 61 _et seq._; 168; 228.





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