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translation, it is the least literal of any we know. He fails, as has been well said, from his attempts to grind the fruges Cleantheas into vers de société. And Sir William himself owns that “his object was rather to express his author's meaning clearly, than to translate his words, or to copy his manner servilely. “I have generally followed the outline, but seldom ventured to employ the colouring of Persius.” The merit of the work is to be found in its colouring, its spirit, its poetic feeling, and “a polish that,” Gifford says, “ was seldom attained.” His information to her Ladyship also, that Mr. Pope's Homer has more of the spirit of Homer than all the other translations put together, is scarcely less fortunate ; nor do we very well know what he means by the other translations, unless he alludes to Chapman and Cowper, who both of them were better scholars than Pope, and have given better examples of the Homeric style and feeling.
“Of the wits about town, I think that George Colman was one of the most agreeable. He was toujours prét, and after two or three glasses of Champagne, the quicksilver of his wit mounted to beau fire. Colman has a good deal of tact; he feels that convivial hours were meant for enjoyment, and understands society so well, that he never obtrudes any private feeling except hilarity into it; his jokes are all good, and readable, and flow without effort, like the champagne which gives them birth, sparkle after sparkle, and brilliant to the last. Then one is sure of Colman, which is a great comfort; for, to be made to cry, when one had made up one's mind to laugh, is a triste affair. I remember that this was the great drawback on Sheridan; a little wine made him melancholy; and his melancholy was contagious; for who could bear to see the wizard who could at will command smiles and tears, yield to the latter, without sharing them, though one wished that the exhibition had been less public. Poor Sherry what a noble mind was in him, overthrown by poverty; and to see the men with whom he had passed his life, the dark souls whom his genius illumined, rollingin wealth,the Sybarites whose slumbers a crushed rose-leaf would have disturbed, leaving him to die on the pallet of poverty, his last moments disturbed by the myrmidons of the law. I have seen poor Sheridan weep, and good cause had he, placed by his transcendant talents in an elevated sphere, without the means of supporting the necessary appearance; to how many humiliations must his fine mind have submitted, ere he had arrived at the state in which I knew him, of reckless jokes to pacify creditors of a morning, and alternate smiles and tears of an evening, round the boards where ostentatious dullness called in his aid, to give a zest to the wine that often maddened him, but could not thaw the frozen current of their blood. Moore's Monody on Sheridan was a fine burst of generous indignation, and is one of the most powerful of his compositions.”
We have now our old friend Mr. Galt once more on the tapis : Lord Blessington had got acquainted with him, in one of his mercantile speculations, (perhaps Mr. G. offered him a share in the Elgin marbles) and told Lord Byron much good of him.
“I am pleased at finding him as amiable a man as his recent works prove him to be a clever and intelligent author. When I knew Galt years ago, I was not in a frame of mind to form an impartial opinion of him; his mildness and equanimity struck me even then; but to say the truth, his manner had not deference enough for my aristocratic taste, and, finding I could not awe him into respect sufficiently profound for my sublime self, either as a peer or an author, I felt a little grudge towards him that has never worn off. There is a quaint humour and observance of character in his novels that interest me very much; and when he chooses to be pathetic he fools one to his bent, for I assure you ‘The Entail” beguiled me of some portion of watery humours, yelept tears, albeit unused to the melting mood. What I particularly admire in Galt's works is, that with a perfect knowledge of human nature, and its frailties and legerdemain tricks, he shews a tenderness of heart which convinces one that his is in the right place, and he has a sly caustic humour that is very amusing. All that Lord Blessington has been telling me of Galt, has made me reflect on the striking difference between his nature and yours. . I had an excellent opportunity of judging of Galt, being shut up on board ship with him for some days, and though I saw he was mild, equal, and sensible, I took no pains to cultivate his acquaintance, further than I should with any common-place person, which he was not; and Lord Blessington in London, with a numerous acquaintance, and all appliances to boot for choosing and selecting, has found so much to like in Galt, malgre the difference of their politics, that this liking has grown into friendship.” “I never spent, he said, an hour with Moore, without being ready to apply to him the expression attributed to Aristophanes : “You have spoken roses.’ His thoughts and expressions have all the beauty of those flowers, but the piquancy of his wit, and the readiness of his repartee prevent one's ear being cloyed by too much sweets, and one cannot “die of a rose in aromatic pain!' Though he does speak roses, there is such an endless variety in his conversation. Moore is the only poet I know whose conversation equals his writings. He comes into society with a mind as fresh and fragrant as if he had not expended such a multiplicity of thoughts upon paper, and leaves behind him an impression that he possesses an inexhaustible mine, equally brilliant as the specimens he has given us. No one writes songs like Moore. Sentiment and imagination are joined to the most harmonious versification, and I know no greater treat than to hear him sing his own compositions. The powerful expression he gives to them, and the pathos of the tones of his voice, tend to produce an effect on my feelings that no other songs or singer ever could.”
To part of this eulogy we cordially agree; and it is only with sorrow and reluctance that we withhold our general assent to the praises which (like a mantle) should cover and adorn Mr. Moore's whole character, as a poet and a citizen ; but when we consider the whole tenour of his writings, the spirit in which they are executed, and the ends to which they lead, we are naturally obliged to subscribe to the melancholy truths that are pronounced, in the words of a writer whose talent and principles we honour, though we are ignorant of his name. “He is one who, with talents which opened to him every field of honourable ambition, every source of literary fame and profit, found it most congenial to his taste, or thought it most conducive to his interest, to dabble in impurity and mischief. To prompt or palliate voluptuous passions, to fan the discontent of a people at all times difficult to govern, has been his chief occupation in story and in song. Loose or turbulent characters supplied the matter which he loved to picture forth; and the biography of Sheridan, of Byron, and of Fitzgerald, shews the grounds of his selection, and, moreover, the advantage of obtaining it. Of the latter, if report says true, the family rue the hour in which they trusted to Mr. Moore the records relating to one of whom the well-judging friends must have wished the political history at least to perish with him.*”
My Lord, like Master Stephen, is again talking of his gentlemanlike melancholies.
“One of the few persons in London whose society served to correct my misanthropy was Lord Holland. There is more benignity, and a greater share of the milk of human kindness in his nature, than in that of any man whom I know. Then there is such a charm in his manner, his mind is so highly cultivated, his conversation is agreeable, and his temper so equal and bland, that he never fails to send away his guests content with themselves, and delighted with him. ... I never heard a difference of opinion about Lord Holland, and I am sure no one could know him without liking him. Lord Erskine, in talking to me of Lord Holland, observed that it was his
extreme good nature that alone prevented him taking as high a political position as his talents entitled him to fill.”
Every one, who is not himself unknown, is acquainted with Lord Byron's
...See Review of the Life and Character of Lord Byron in the British Critic, April 1831, v. Pref. of the Editor, p. 5.
antipathy to our honoured Laureate of the Lakes; and of the not very justifiable means which he ever and anon took to show it.
“There are some,” he tells Lady Blessington, “that I dislike so cordially, that I am aware of my incompetency to give an impartial opinion of their writings. Southey, par exemple, is one of these. When travelling in Italy, he was reported to me to have circulated some reports so much to my disadvantage, and still more to two ladies of my acquaintance, all of which were brought to my ears, that I have vowed eternal vengeance against him, and all who uphold him, which vengeance has been poured forth in vials of wrath in the shape of epigrams and lampoons, some of which you shall see. At Pisa, a friend told me that Walter Savage Landor had declared he either would not, or could not read my works. I asked my officious friend if he was sure which it was that Landor said, as the would not was offensive, and the could not was highly so. After some reflection, he of course, en amie, chose the most disagreeable signification, and I marked down Landor in the tablet of memory as a person to whom a coup de pat must be given in o forthcoming work, though he is a man whose brilliant talents and profound erudition I cannot help admiring, as much as I respect his character—various proofs of the generosity, manliness, and independence of which has reached me. So you see I can render justice to a man who says he could not read my works.”
We must pass over much interesting chat between the pair in their morning equitations; about the Patronesses of Almack, and the ladies admitted and excluded, and those who had lost their caste, and those still protected from'disgrace by their husband's good nature, or blindness, and of Lord Byron's assuring my Lady that it is his respect for morals that makes him so indignant against its vile substitute, cant, and many delicate allusions to errors and passions, and guilty imprudences; while my Lady makes many wise observations, like Minerva to the youthful Telemachus, and now and then favours him with an off-hand epigram, (Lord Blessington, it appears, riding behind, out of hearing distance); and we pull up, as we approach his observations on his literary friends.
Byron says he never got into conversation with them, as they wanted more praise than he was willing to give.
“Now Scott, though a giant in literature, is unlike literary men; he neither expects compliments, nor pays them in conversation. There is a sincerity and simplicity in his character and manner that stamp any commendation of his as truth, and any praise one might offer him would fall short of his deserts, so that there is no géne in his society. There is nothing in him that gives the impression I have so often formed of others, who seemed to say, “I praise you, that you may do the same by me.”
“Moore is a delightful companion; gay without being boisterous, witty without effort, concise without coarseness, and sentimental without being lacrymose. He reminds one of the fairy, who, whenever she spoke, let diamonds fall from her lips. My téte-à-téte suppers with Moore are among the most agreeable impressions I retain of the hours passed in London. They are the redeeming lights in the gloomy picture, that seem
“Like angel visits, few and far between.”
Tor the great defect in my friend Tom is a sort of fidgetty unsettledness, that prevents his giving himself up, con amore, to any one friend, because he is apt to think he might be more happy with another. He has the organ of locomotiveness largely developed, as a phrenologist would say, and would like to be in three places instead of one. He must be delightful in a lonely house, at a safe distance from any other, where one could have him really to one's self, and enjoy his conversation without the perpetual fear that he is expected at Lady This or Lady That's, or the being reminded that he promised to look in at Lansdowne House or Grosvenor Square. The wonder is not that he is recherché, but that he wastes himself on those who can so little appreciate him, though they value the éclat his reputation gives to their stupid soirées. I have known a club man live on a bon mot of Moore's for a week; and I even offered
* This line so often quoted from Campbell's Pleasures of Memory, was adopted by him from that beautiful poem, “Blair's Grave.”
a wager of a considerable sum that the reciter was guiltless of understanding its point, but could get no one to accept my bet !
Byron talked of Campbell the Poet, and said that he was a warmhearted and honest man, praised his works, and quoted some passages from the Pleasures of Hope, which he said was a poem full of beauty.
“I differ however (said Byron) with my friend Campbell on some points. Do you remember the passage,
But mark the wretch, whose wanderings never knew
This (he said) was so far a true picture, those who once erred being supposed to err always, a charitable but foolish supposition that the English are prone to act upon. Campbell's Lochiel, and Mariners of England, are admirable spirit-stirring productions; his Gertrude of Wyoming is beautiful, and some of the Episodes in the Pleasures of Hope, pleased me so much, that I know them by heart. The “Pleasures of Memory' is a very beautiful poem, harmonious, finished, and chaste; it contains not a single meretricious ornament. If Rogers has not fixed himself in the higher fields of Parnassus, he, at least, cultivated a very pretty flower garden as its base. Having compared Rogers's poem to a flower garden, continued Byron, to what shall I compare Moore's? to the Valley of Diamonds, where all is brilliant and attractive; but where one is so dazzled by the sparkling on every side, that one knows not where to fix each gem, beautiful in itself, but overpowering to the eye from their quantity; or to descend to a mere homely comparison, though really so brilliant a subject hardly admits of any thing homely, Moore's poems, with the exception of the Melodies, resemble the fields in Italy, covered by such myriads of fire-flies shining on glittering sand, that if one attempts to seize one, another still more brilliant attracts, and one is bewildered from too much brightness. I remember reading somewhere a concetto, of designating different living poets, by the cups Apollo gives them to drink out of. Wordsworth is made to drink from a wooden bowl, and my melancholy self from a skull chased with gold. Now I would add the following cups. To Moore, imagine a cup formed like the Lotus flower, and set in brilliants. To Crabbe a scooped pumpkin. To Rogers an antique vase, formed of agate. To Colman, a Champagne glass:—as descriptive of their different styles. I dare say none of them would be satisfied with the appropriation; but who ever is satisfied with anything in the shape of criticism? and least of
all, Poets.” We are very near drawing to a conclusion of our illustrious Poet's and Peeress's interesting equestrian dialogues, consisting of criticism, and egotism, and sentimentalism on his side ; of truism and blueism on hers. Byron told her, that Montaigne was one of the French writers that amused him the most, as, independently of the quaintness with which he made his observations, a perusal of his works were like a repetition at school; they rubbed up the reader's classical knowledge. He added, that Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy was also excellent, from the quantity of desultory information it contained, and was a mine of knowledge that, though much worked, was inexhaustible. I told him that he seemed to think more highly of Montaigne than did some of his own countrymen ; for when Card. de Perron called les Essais de Montaigne la brevière des honnètes gens, that the Bishop of Avranches “les disait, celui des honnètes paresseux, et des ignorans qui veulent s'informer de quelque teinture des lettres.” Byron said that the critique was severe but just, for that Montaigne was the greatest plagiarist that ever existed, and certainly had turned his reading to the most account.* Lord Byron then goes on to speak of Dr. Richardson's travels in the Mediterranean (he went with Lord
* If the reader would wish to see a critical opinion of Montaigne's writings, a little more philosophical and profound than that in the text above, let him refer to Professor Stewart's immortal dissertation prefixed to the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia.
Belmore), in much higher terms than we think they can lay claim to : and he then laments that there are so few clever men like Dr. Richardson, of Rathbone Place, either in the Church or Physic. The medical men who fell in his Lordship's way were so deficient in ability, that had the science been eighty times more simplified than it is, they had not intelligence to comprehend it : and that there are very few divines who had talent to keep the soul in good health. As they fail, Lord Byron takes it under his own care, and knowing that solitude and retirement have always been considered as most beneficial to the wounded spirit, and likely to promote reflection and repentance, he recommends it; but then,' says his Lordship, “I do not mean the solitude of a country neighbourhood, where people pass their time à dire, a redire, a medire. No! I mean a regular retirement—with a woman one loves / 1 / " We have seen the habitations of many such persons in the neighbourhood of London, distinguished by the white muslin curtains, and double coach doors, and have occasionally beheld the Aspasias at the windows; but we did not before know that they were the abodes of Philosophers in search of wisdom and virtue.
The rides, and dialogues, and remarks are now fast on their wane; most of the noble author's friends have passed in review and been dismissed, and all he has now to inform her Ladyship is, that he, while in London, was so overpowered by the dulness of the haut ton, that he used to take shelter in the enjoyments of the Cider Cellar; and that he dined at Tom Cribb's, which he infinitely preferred to Holland House and my Lady. Madame de Stael, he says, was the only person he ever knew who was not overcome by London society; but this was owing to her state of excitement, and self complacency; and the mystifications of the dandies, and exaggerated compliments paid to her; and her being constantly occupied by herself.4 They then get back again to the old and favourite subject of erring ladies, and the unkindness of society to them. Lord Byron hopes that Don Juan will do a great deal of good in England, by correcting false notions, and destroying cant. Lady Blessington says, that he thought very deeply on religion; and as they now begin to quote Scripture, and make applications, we think it would be as well to leave them ; for Lord Blessington is riding up abreast, and the little Hunts are calling out for their dinner, and the Guiccioli is getting a little jealous, and brother Gamba is looking moody, fierce, and sanguinary; and the lady is off to New Burlington-street to sell the result of her Conversations to Mr. Colburn for Three Hundred Pounds !
oRIGIN of THE TERM ROUND HEAD.
Mr. URBAN, Perhaps it is not very generally known with whom the term
“ Roundhead,” so much used during the great rebellion, originated; and
therefore, under this impression, I forward you the following extract from Rushworth :
“David Hide, a Reformado in the late army against the Scotch, and now appointed to go on some command into Ireland, began to bustle, and said he would cut the throat of those Roundheaded dogs that brawled against Bishops (which passionate term of his, as far as I could ever learn, was the first minuting of the term or
* M. de Stael had a party to dine with her one day in London, when Sir James and Lady—entered the drawing-room, the lady dressed in a green gown, a shawl of the same hue, and a red turban. M. de Stael marched up in her eager manner and exclaimed“Ahl mon Dieu ! Miladi, comme vous ressemblez à un perroquet.” The poor lady looked confounded. The company tried in vain to repress their smiles, but all felt that the soubriquet betrayed a total want of tact in the “Corinne.” GENT. MAG. Wol. I. 4 F