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world had utterly condemned the school of poetry and criticism in question, and he thought the world quite right in this decision. Upon what principle, then, are we to account for his taking any part in their magazine project? We really do not see how it is possible to doubt that he did so purely and entirely from the charitable feelings to which he himself distinctly ascribes his unhappy acquiescence in an impracticable scheme. He thought, no doubt, that his own compositions would be easily distinguished from those of Messrs. Hunt and Co.; and that, therefore, he might benefit these needy people without materially injuring his own reputation. Humble as was his estimate of the talents of all his coadjutors, except Mr. Shelley, he had not foreseen that, instead of his genius floating their dulness, an exactly opposite consequence would attend that unnatural coalition. In spite of some of the ablest pieces that ever came from Lord Byron's pen,-in spite of the magnificent poetry of Heaven and Earth,--the eternal laws of gravitation held their course: Messrs. Hunt, Hazlitt, and Co. furnished the principal part of the cargo; and the Liberal sunk to the bottom of the waters of oblivion almost as rapidly as the Table-Talk, or the Foliage, or the Endymion. It may be worth while
to illustrate a little more copiously what we have said of Lord Byron's critical tenets : by doing so, we certainly think we shall throw much light on the nature of Mr. Leigh Hunt's quarrel with him, and the consequent outrage on his
memory, perpetrated in the elaborate volume now before us.
Ravenna, Jan. 4, 1821.--I see by the papers of Galignani, that there is a new tragedy of great expectation, by Barry Cornwall. Of what I have read of his works, I liked the Dramatic Sketches, but thought his Sicilian Story and Marcian Colonna, in rhyme, quite spoilt by I know not what affectation of Wordsworth, and Hunt, and Moore, and myself, all mixed up into a kind of chaos. I think him rery likely to produce a good tragedy if he keep to a natural style, and not play tricks to form harlequinades for an audience. As he (Barry Cornwall is not his true name) was a schoolfellow of mine, I take more than common interest in his success,' &c., &c.— Byron's MSS.
• Ravenna, Sept. 12, 1821.-Barry Cornwall will do better by and by, I dare say, if he don't get spoiled by green tea and the praises of Pentonville and Paradise-row. The pity of these men is, that they never lived in high life nor in solitude ; there is no medium for the knowledge of the busy or the still world. If admitted into high life for a season, it is merely as spectators—they form no part of the mechanism thereof. Now, Moore and I, the one by circumstances, the other by birth, happened to be free of the corporation, and to have entered into its pulses and passions, “ quarum partes fuimus.”Both of us have learned by this much that nothing else could have taught us.'-Ibid.
The following is from a letter to Lord Byron's bookseller, dated Ravenna, Sept. 24th, 1891:
• You shall not send me any modern or (as they are calied) new publications whatsoever, save and excepting any writing, prose or verse, of (or reasonably presumed to be of) Walter Scott, Crabbe, Moore, Campbell, Rogers, Gifford, Joanna Baillie, Irving (the American), Hogg, Wilson (Isle of Palms man), or any especial single work of fancy which is thought to be of considerable merit. Voyages and travels, provided they are neither in Greece, Spain, Asia Minor, Albania, nor Italy, will be welcome. No other English works whatsoever.'
The following are incidental notices which we have taken almost at hazard, from the same correspondence :
• Ravenna, Sept. 11th, 1820.—Oh, if ever I do come amongst you again, I will give you such a Baviad and Mæviad, not as good as the last, but even better merited. There never was such a set as your ragamuffins, (I mean not yours only, but everybody's.) What with the Cockneys, and the Lakers, and the followers of Scott, and Moore, and Byron, you are on the very uttermost decline and degradation of literature. I can't think of it without all the remorse of a murderer. I wish Johnson were alive again to crush them.'
Sept. 15th, 1817.-I have read Lallah Rookh, but not with sufficient attention yet.
I am very glad to hear of its popularity; for Moore is a very noble fellow in all respects, and will enjoy it without any of the bad feelings which success, good or evil, sometimes engenders in the men of rhyme. Of the poem itself, I will tell you my opinion when I have mastered it: I say of the poem, for I don't like the prose at all at all; and in the meantime, the “ Fireworshippers” is the best, and the “ Veiled Prophet” the worst of the volume.
With regard to poetry in general, I am convinced, the more I think of it, that he and all others—Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Moore, Campbell, I, are all in the wrong, one as much as another ; that we are upon a wrong, revolutionary, poetical system (or systems), not worth a d-n in itself, and from which none but Rogers and Crabbe are free, and that the present and next generation will finally be of this opinion. I am the more confirmed in this, by having lately gone over some of our classics, particularly Pope, whom I tried in this way: I took Moore's poems, and my own, and some others, and went over them side by side with Pope's, and I was really astonished (I ought not to have been so) and mortified at the ineffable distance, in point of sense, learning, effect, and even imagination, passion, and invention, between the little Queen Anne's man, and us of the lower empire. Depend upon it, it is all Horace then, and Claudian now, among us; and if I had to begin again, I would mould myself accordingly. Crabbe's the man, but he has got a coarse and impracticable subject; and Rogers, the grandfather of living poetry, is retired upon half-pay, since pretty Miss Jacqueline, with her nose acquiline, and has done enough, unless he were to do as he had done formerly.'
Non noster hic sermo—such were the opinions of Lord Byron on English literature, perhaps the only subject on which it was essential that he should have agreed with Mr. Leigh Hunt before he entered on the joint speculation of a literary journal with that gentleman—with Mr. Leigh Hunt, author of Rimini, who, throughout all his works, treats the great names of our time with contempt,---who, even in this quarto, talks of Lord Byron bimself as a mere imitator in poetry,—and who considers Mr. Leigh Hunt, Mr. John Keats, and so forth, as the only true and permanent lights of the age. Such were their literary differences; and we venture to add that the points of discrepancy between the two men, as to literature, were less numerous and of less importance than in regard to almost any other subject whatever—except only (and with sorrow do we mark the exception) the highest subject of all, namely, religion.
As to politics, the haughty heir of all the Byrons, and the Jupiter Tonans of the round window in the Examiner office had not, and never could have had, anything in common beyond a few words, to which the man of genius and the paragraph-monger attached totally opposite meanings. Even as to the more solemn subject of religion, we ought to take shame to ourselves for even for a moment considering Lord Byron and Mr. Leigh Hunt as brother infidels. The dark doubts which disturbed to its depths the noble intellect of the one had little, indeed, in common with the coxcombical phantasies which floated and float on the surface of the other's shallowness. Humility,--a most absurd delusion of humility, be it allowed, made the one majestic creature unhappy: the most ludicrous conceit, grafted on the most deplorable incapacity, has filled the paltry mind of the gentleman-of the-press now before us, with a chaos of crude, pert dogmas, which defy all analysis, and which it is just possible to pity more than despise.
• I am no bigot to infidelity,' said Byron in a letter to the late Mr. Gifford, and did not expect that, because I doubted the immortality of man, I should be charged with denying the existence of a God. It was the comparative insignificance of ourselves and our world, when placed in comparison with the mighty whole, of which it is an atom, that first led me to imagine that our pretensions to immortality might be overrated.'
Let us hear his lordship’s contemporary.
• He (Lord Byron) was a Christian by education; he was an infidel by reading. He was a Christian by habit; he was no Christian upon reflection. I use the word here in its ordinary acceptation, and not in its really Christian and philosophical sense, as a believer in The Endeavour and The Universality, which are the consummation of Christianity... Bigoted christians, of all sects, take liberties enough, God knows !
They are much profaner than any devout deist ever thinks of being.' -Hunt, p. 125.
Such is uniformly the tone of this would-be devout Deist, this most profound Universalist.
• Ye men of deep researches, say whence springs
A match for nothing-but the Deity! Between the hypochondriac reveries of a poet, and the smug petulancies of this cockney, there is, we take it, about as wide an interval as from the voluptuousness of a Sardanapalus to the geniality of a monkey; an illustration which we also beg leave to apply (where, indeed, it is all but literally in point) to the feelings of these two persons, on certain moral questions, to which we wish it had been possible for us to make no allusions.
We shall touch as briefly as possible on this disgusting topic. It is a miserable truth, that at the time when Mr. Leigh Hunt went to eat, drink, and sleep at Lord Byron's cost, and under Lord Byron's roof at Pisa, Lord Byron entertained an Italian gentleman's wife, as his mistress, under that roof. Let us hear what his contemporary has to say as to his own conduct in carrying his own wife to partake, under that same roof, of Lord Byron's bounty.
'I was not prepared to find the father and brother (of Lord Byron's mistress) living in the same house ; but taking the national manners into consideration, and differing very considerably with the notions entertained respecting the intercourse of the sexes in more countries than one, I was prepared to treat with respect what I conceived to be founded in serious feelings, and saw even in that arrangement something which, though it startled my English habits at first, seemed to be a still further warrant of innocence of intention, and erception to general rules.'--Hunt, p. 22.
• He (Lord Byron) had been told, what was very true, that Mrs. Hunt, though living in all respects after the fashion of an English wife, was any thing but illiberal with regard to others.'— Ibid. p. 26.
This is enough : we shall be more merciful to this unfortunate lady, than her auto-biographical husband has been.
We should, indeed, have reason to blush, could we think for a moment of entering into the details given by Mr. Leigh Hunt, concerning the manners, habits, and conversation of Lord Byron. The witness is, in our opinion, disqualified to give evidence upon any such subjects; his book proves him to be equally ignorant of what manners are, and incompetent to judge what manners ought to be: his elaborate portraiture of his own habits is from beginning to end a very caricatura of absurdity; and the man who wrote this book, studiously cast, as the whole language of it is,
in a free-and-easy, conversational tone, has no more right to decide about the conversation of such a man as Lord Byron, than has a pert apprentice to pronounce ex cathedrá—from his one shilling gallery, to wit-on the dialogue of a polite comedy. We can easily believe, that Lord Byron never talked his best when this was his Companion. We can also believe that Lord Byron's serious conversation, even in its lowest tone, was often unintelligible to Mr. Leigh Hunt. We are morally certain, that in such company Lord Byron talked, very often indeed, for the mere purpose of amusing himself at the expense of his ignorant, phantastic, lack-a-daisical guest; that he considered the Magnus Apollo of Paradise Row as a precious butt, and acted accordingly. We therefore consider Mr. Hunt's evidence as absolutely inadmissible, on strong preliminary grounds. But what are we to say to it, when we find it, as we do, totally and diametrically at variance both with the substance and complexion of Lord Byron's epistolary correspondence; and with the oral testimonies of men whose talents, originally superior beyond all possibility of measurement to Mr. Hunt's, have been matured and perfected by study, both of books and men, such as Mr. Hunt never even dreamed of; who had the advantage of meeting Lord Byron on terms of perfect equality to all intents and purposes; and who, qualified as they probably were, above any of their contemporaries, to appreciate Lord Byron, whether as a poet, or as a man of high rank and pre-eminent fame, mingling with the world in society such as he ought never to have sunk below, all with one voice pronounce an opinion exactly and in every particular, as well as looking to things broadly and to the general effect, the reverse of that which this unworthy and ungrateful dependent has thought himself justified in promulgating, on the plea of a penury which no Lord Byron survives to relieve. It is too bad, that he who has, in his own personal conduct, as well as in his writings, so much to answer forwho abused great opportunities and great talents so lamentably— who sinned so deeply, both against the society to which he belonged and the literature in which his name will ever hold a splendid place—it is really too bad, that Lord Byron, in addition to the grave condemnation of men able to appreciate both his merits and his demerits, and well disposed to think more in sorrow than in anger
of the worst errors that existed along with so much that was excellent and noble—it is by much too bad, that this great man's glorious though melancholy memory
* Must also bear the vile attacks
Of ragged curs and vulgar hacks' whom he fed ;--that his bones must be scraped up from their bed of repose to be at once grinned and howled over by creatures