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by the name of Babylon, that the prophet admiration of the one than by a desire to spoke when he said, "The wild beasts of the spite and depreciate the other. deserts shall dwell there, and their houses Nor is it genius only that thus rebels shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls against the discipline of the schools. Even shall build there, and satyrs shall dance there,' the tamer quality of Taste, which it is the &c. &c. The bitter recollections which Gib- professed object of classical studies to culbon retained of Oxford, his own pen has re- tivate, is sometimes found to turn restive corded; and the cool contempt bywhich Locke under the pedantic manège to which it is avenged himself on the bigotry of the same seat subjected. It was not till released from the of learning is even still more memorable.' duty of reading Virgil as a task, that Gray
In poets such distasteful recollections of could feel himself capable of enjoying the their collegiate life may well be thought to beauties of that poet ; and Lord Byron was, have their origin in that antipathy to the to the last, unable to vanquish a similar pretrammels of discipline, which is not unusually possession, with which the same sort of observable among
the characteristics of ge- school association had inoculated him, against nius, and which might be regarded, indeed, as
Horace. a sort of instinct, implanted in it for its own
“ Though Time hath taught preservation, if there be any truth in the My mind to meditate what then it learn'd, opinion that a course of learned education Yet such the fix'd inveteracy wrought is hurtful to the freshness and elasticity of
By the impatience of my early thought, the imaginative faculty. A right reverend
That, with the freshness wearing out before
My mind could relish what it might have sought, writer, but little to be suspected of any If free to choose, I cannot now restore desire to depreciate academical studies, not Its health; but what it then detested, still abhor. only puts the question, “Whether the usual forms of learning be not rather injurious to
“ Then farewell, Horace ; whom I hated so,
Not for thy faults, but mine ; it is a curse the true poet, than really assisting to him ?”
To understand, not feel thy lyric flow, but appears strongly disposed to answer it
To comprehend, but never love thy verse." in the affirmative, - giving, as an instance,
Childe Harold, Canto IV. in favour of this conclusion, the classic Addison, who," as appears,” he says, “from To the list of eminent poets, who have some original efforts in the sublime, allego- thus left on record their dislike and disaprical way, had no want of natural talents for proval of the English system of education, the greater poetry, - which yet were so are to be added the distinguished names restrained and disabled by his constant and of Cowley, Addison, and Cowper ; while, superstitious study of the old classics, that among the cases which, like those of Milton he was, in fact, but a very ordinary poet." and Dryden, practically demonstrate the sort
It was, no doubt, under some such im- of inverse ratio that may exist between pression of the malign influence of a col college honours and genius, must not be legiate atmosphere upon genius, that Milton, forgotten those of Swift
, Goldsmith, and in speaking of Cambridge, gave vent to the Churchill
, to every one of whom some mark exclamation, that it was a place quite in- of incompetency was affixed by the respective compatible with the votaries of Phæbus," universities, whose annals they adorn. When, and that Lord Byron, versifying a thought of in addition, too, to this rather ample catalogue his own, in the letter to Mr. Dallas just given, of poets, whom the universities have sent declares,
forth either disloyal or dishonoured, we come “ Her Helicon is duller than her Cam.”
to number over such names as those of
Shakspeare and of Pope, followed by Gay, The poet Dryden, too, who, like Milton, Thomson, Burns, Chatterton, &c., all of had incurred some mark of disgrace at whom have attained their respective stations Cambridge, seems to have entertained but of eminence, without instruction or sanction little more veneration for his Alma Mater ; from any college whatever, it forms altogether, and the verses in which he has praised it must be owned, a large portion of the Oxford at the expense of his own university 3 | poetical world, that must be subducted from were, it is probable, dictated much less by the sphere of that nursing influence which
LETTER 22 TO MR. HENRY DRURY.
the universities are supposed to exercise physician having taken his sixteenth fee, and over the genius of the country. I
I his prescription, I could not quit this earth The following letters, written at this time, without leaving a memento of my constant contain some particulars which will not be attachment to Butler in gratitude for his found uninteresting.
manifold good offices.”
“ I meant to have been down in July ; but thinking my appearance, immediately after
the publication, would be construed into an “ Dorant's Hotel, Jan. 13. 1808.
insult, I directed my steps elsewhere. “ My dear Sir,
Besides, I heard that some of the boys had Through the stupidity of my servants, got hold of my Libellus, contrary to my or the porter of the house, in not showing
wishes certainly, for I never transmitted a you up stairs (where I should have joined
single copy till October, when I gave one to you directly), prevented me the pleasure of
a boy, since gone, after repeated importunities. seeing you yesterday, I hoped to meet you You will, I trust, pardon this egotism. As you at some public place in the evening. How- had touched on the subject I thought some ever, my stars decreed otherwise, as they explanation necessary. 'Defence I shall not generally do, when I have any favour to re
attempt, ' Hic murus aheneus esto, nil conquest of them. I think you would have scire sibi' — and so on' (as Lord Baltimore been surprised at my figure, for, since our
said on his trial for a rape) — I have been so last meeting, I am reduced four stone in long at Trinity as to forget the conclusion of weight. I then weighed fourteen stone
the line ; but though I cannot finish my seven pound, and now only ten stone and a half. I have disposed of my superfluities by believe me, gratefully and affectionately, &c.
quotation, I will my letter, and entreat you to means of hard exercise and abstinence.
" P. S. I will not lay a tax on your time “ Should your Harrow engagements allow vou to visit town between this and February, Butler said to Tatersall (when I had written
by requiring an answer, lest you say, as Î shall be most happy to see you in Albemarle his reverence an impudent epistle on the Street. If I am not so fortunate, I shall expression before mentioned), viz. that I endeavour to join you for an afternoon at
wanted to draw him into a correspondence.”” Harrow, though, I fear, your cellar will by no means contribute to my cure. worthy preceptor, Dr. B., our encounter would by no means prevent the mutual en
“ Dorant's Hotel, Albemarle Street, Feb. 11. 1808. dearments he and I were wont to lavish on My dear Harness, each other. We have only spoken once “ As I had no opportunity of returning since my departure from Harrow in 1805, my verbal thanks, I trust you will accept my and then he politely told Tatersall I was not written acknowledgments for the complia proper associate for his pupils. This was ment you were pleased to pay some prolong before my strictures in verse ; but, in duction of my unlucky muse last November, plain prose, had I been some years older, I - I am induced to do this not less from the should have held my tongue on his per- pleasure I feel in the praise of an old schoolfections. But, being laid on my back, when fellow, than from justice to you, for I had that schoolboy thing was written-or rather heard the story with some slight variations. dictated expecting to rise no more, my Indeed, when we met this morning, Wing
As for my
TO MR. HARNESS.
i [“No system of national education ever was, or will whom a more meritorious or worse-paid class of men be, planned with reference to minds such as Mr. Moore cannot be named), and to pamper sell-complacency, peseems not merely chiefly, but exclusively, to be thinking tulance, and the silly ambition of knowing a little of of in this diatribe. The grand object is to prepare men every thing, in a rising generation, already more than for the discharge of those duties which society has a enough tinged with such phantasies." — Quarterly right to demand from its members; and, original genius Review, 1831. being so rare as hitherto it always has been, the functions
“ The only bald part of this Biography is that which which cannot be discharged in the absence of that extra
relates to Byron's college life; nor can we approve of ordinary gift are not entitled to be mainly, or even di
its spirit. Mr. Moore is too well acquainted with literary rectly, considered. We are very far from maintaining that the established system ought not to be considerably history, to fall into any blunders of commission ; but he modified: the classical literature of antiquity is no longer
has fallen, - not perhaps unpurposely- into not a few of entitled to hold the exclusive place which belonged to it
omission, and strives, most ineffectually, to make us be
lieve, that because Byron did no good at Cambridge, no in the age of our scholastic and academical foundations ; but it is not by such unguarded attacks as this, that the
other young poet of a high order could do any, - and
that the Genius Loci is adverse to all inspiration." course of rational improvement is at all likely to be for
Blackwood, 1830.] warded. They can serve no better purpose than to irritate or discourage the existing race of teachers (than ? (See Works, p. 383. ]
EDINBURGH REVIEW ON
- ITS EFFECT. —
AND BRIGHTON. - PUGILISM. RESI-
SUPPOSED RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN
TO MR. BECHER.
field had not undeceived me; but he will tell you that I displayed no resentment in mentioning what I had heard, though I was not
CHAPTER VII. sorry to discover the truth. Perhaps you hardly recollect, some years ago, a short,
1808. though, for the time, a warm friendship between us. Why it was not of longer duration I know not. I have still a gift of yours in
HOURS OF IDLENESS. my possession, that must always prevent me
DISSIPATIONS OF LONDON, CAMBRIDGE, from forgetting it. I also remember being favoured with the perusal of many of your compositions, and several other circumstances very pleasant in their day, which I
BOATSWAIN'S will not force upon your memory, but entreat you to believe me, with much regret at their short continuance, and a hope they are not
LORD BYRON'S MAJORITY. “ Yours very sincerely, &c.
“ Byron.” In the spring of this year (1808) ap
peared the memorable critique upon the I have already mentioned the early friend- * Hours of Idleness” in the Edinburgh ship that subsisted between this gentleman Review. That he had some notice of what and Lord Byron, as well as the coolness was to be expected from that quarter, appears that succeeded it
. The following 'extract by the following letter to his friend, Mr. from a letter with which Mr. Harness fa- Becher. voured me, in placing at my disposal those of his noble correspondent, will explain the circumstances that led, at this time, to their
“Dorant's Hotel, Feb. 26. 1808. reconcilement; and the candid tribute, in the concluding sentences, to Lord Byron,
‘My dear Becher,
“ Now for Apollo. I am happy that will be found not less honourable to the reverend writer himself than to his friend.
you still retain your predilection, and that “A coolness afterwards arose, which I am of so much importance that a most violent
the public allow me some share of praise. Byron alludes to in the first of the accompanying letters, and we never spoke during of the Edinburgh Review. This I had from
attack is preparing for me in the next number the last year of his remaining at school, the authority of a friend who has seen the nor till after the publication of his · Hours of Idleness,
You Lord Byron was then at Cam- know the system of the Edinburgh gentle
manuscript of the critique. bridge ; I, in one of the upper forms, at Harrow. In an English theme I happened
men is universal attack. They praise none ; to quote from the volume, and mention it praise from them. It is, however, something
and neither the public nor the author expects with praise. It was reported to Byron that I had, on the contrary, spoken slightingly of
to be noticed, as they profess to pass judghis work and of himself, for the
ment only on works requiring the public purpose
attention. You will see this when it comes conciliating the favour of Dr. Butler, the master, who had been severely satirised in merciful description ; but I am aware of it
out;- it is, I understand, of the most unone of the poems. Wingfield, who was af, and hope you will not be hurt by its seterwards Lord Powerscourt, a mutual friend
verity. of Byron and myself, disabused him of the error into which he had been led, and this with them, and to prepare her mind for the
“ Tell Mrs. Byron not to be out of humour was the occasion of the first letter of the greatest hostility on their part. It will do no collection. Our intimacy was renewed, and continued from that time till his going injury whatever
, and I trust her mind will abroad. Whatever faults Lord Byron might indiscriminate abuse, and they never praise
They defeat their object by have had towards others, to myself he was always uniformly affectionate. I have many
except the partisans of Lord Holland and
Co. slights and neglects towards him to reproach Southey, Moore, Lauderdale, Strangford,
It is nothing to be abused when myself with ; but I cannot call to mind a a single instance of caprice or unkindness, in
and Payne Knight, share the same fate. the whole course of our friendship, to allege must be suppressed during this edition.
“I am sorry—but ‘Childish Recollections' against him.”
have altered, at your suggestion, the ob
norious allusions in the sixth stanza of my traceable as it is through every page of this last ode.
volume, is yet but faintly done justice to, “And now, my dear Becher, I must re- even by himself ;-his whole youth being, from turn my best acknowledgments for the in- earliest childhood, a series of the most pasterest you have taken in me and my poetical sionate attachments, of those overflowings bantlings, and I shall ever be proud to show of the soul, both in friendship and love, which how much I esteem the advice and the ad- are still more rarely responded to than felt, viser. Believe me most truly,” &c.
and which, when checked or sent back upon Soon after this letter appeared the dreaded the heart, are sure to turn into bitterness. article, — an article which, if not “ witty We have seen also, in some of his early in itself,” deserved eminently the credit of unpublished poems, how apparent, even causing “wit in others.”. Seldom, indeed, through the doubts that already clouded has it fallen to the lot of the justest criticism them, are those feelings of piety which a to attain celebrity such as injustice has pro- soul like his could not but possess, and cured for this ; nor as long as the short, but which, when afterwards diverted out of their glorious race of Byron's genius is remembered, legitimate channel, found a vent in the poetcan the critic, whoever he may be, that so ical worship of nature, and in that shadowy unintentionally ministered to its first start, be substitute for religion which superstition forgotten.
offers. When, in addition, too, to these It is but justice, however, to remark,- traits of early character, we find scattered without at the same time intending any ex- through his youthful poems such anticipacuse for the contemptuous tone of criticism tions of the glory that awaited him,- such, assumed by the reviewer, — that the early alternately, proud and saddened glimpses verses of Lord Byron, however distinguished into the future, as if he already felt the eleby tenderness and grace, give but little pro- ments of something great within him, but mise of those dazzling miracles of poesy with doubted whether his destiny would allow which he afterwards astonished and enchanted him to bring it forth, - it is not wonderful the world ; and that, if his youthful verses that, with the whole of his career present
1 now have a peculiar charm in our eyes, it is to our imaginations, we should see a lustre because we read them, as it were, by the round these first puerile attempts not really light of his subsequent glory.
their own, but shed back upon them from There is, indeed, one point of view, in the bright eminence which he afterwards atwhich these productions are deeply and in- tained ; and that, in our indignation against trinsically interesting. As faithful reflec- the fastidious blindness of the critic, we tions of his character at that period of life, should forget that he had not then the aid they enable us to judge of what he was in of this reflected charm, with which the sub his yet unadulterated state, — before dis- sequent achievements of the poet now irappointment had begun to embitter his radiate all that bears his name.i ardent spirit, or the stirring up of the en- The effect this criticism produced upon ergies of his nature had brought into activity him can only be conceived by those who, also its defects. Tracing him thus through besides having an adequate notion of what these natural effusions of his young genius, most poets would feel under such an attack, we find him pictured exactly such, in all can understand all that there was in the the features of his character, as every anec- temper and disposition of Lord Byron to dote of his boyish days proves him really to make him feel it with tenfold more acuteness have been, proud, daring, and passionate, than others. We have seen with what fe
– resentful of slight or injustice, but still verish anxiety he awaited the verdicts of all more so in the cause of others than in his the minor Reviews, and, from his sensibility own ; and yet, with all this vehemence, docile to the praise of the meanest of these cenand placable, at the least touch of a hand sors, may guess how painfully he must bave authorised by love to guide him. The writhed under the sneers of the highest. affectionateness, indeed, of his disposition | A friend, who found him in the first moments
[" This is admirable, - all but the last sentence in on the subject, and contrives to drop no hint of what which we see the hand of a man of finest feelings and every human being selt at the time to be the simple truth genius trying in vain to wash the greasy face of a stupid of the whole matter - to wit, that out of the thousand slanderer, more hopelessly black than an Ethiop's skin." and one volumes of indifferent verse, which happened -WILSON.
to be printed in the year of grace, 1807, only one bore “Mr. Moore 'walks delicately,' like Agag, when the a noble name on the title-page ; and the opportunity of course of his narrative brings him to the truculent cri. insulting a lord, under pretext of admonishing a poettique on these boyish essays, which appeared in the aster, was too tempting to be resisted, in a particular Edinburgh Review. Himself a distinguished victim and quarter, at that particular time." – Quarterly Reriet, prop of that journal, he writes elegantly and eloquently | 1831.]
of excitement after reading the article, in- bullets of the brain' have only taught me to quired anxiously whether he had just re- stand fire ; and, as I have been lucky enough ceived a challenge, - not knowing how upon the whole, my repose and appetite are else to account for the fierce defiance of his not discomposed. Pratt, the gleaner, author, looks. It would, indeed, be difficult for poet, &c. &c., addressed a long rhyming sculptor or painter to imagine a subject of epistle to me on the subject, by way of conmore fearful beauty than the fine counte- solation ; but it was not well done, so I do nance of the young poet must have exhi- not send it, though the name of the man bited in the collected energy of that crisis. might make it go down. The E. R', have His pride had been wounded to the quick, not performed their task well; at least the and his ambition humbled ;- but this feeling literati tell me this ; and I think I could of humiliation lasted but for a moment. write a more sarcastic critique on myself The very reaction of his spirit against ag- than any yet published. For instance, ingression roused him to a full consciousness stead of the remark, -ill-natured enough, of his own powers !; and the pain and the but not keen,-about Macpherson, I (quoad shame of the injury were forgotten in the reviewers) could have said, “Alas, this proud certainty of revenge.
imitation only proves the assertion of Dr. Among the less sentimental effects of this Johnson, that many men, women, and chilReview upon his mind, he used to mention dren, could write such poetry as Ossian's.' that, on the day he read it, he drank three “I am thin and in exercise. During the bottles of claret to his own share after spring or summer I trust we shall meet. I dinner ; – that nothing, however, relieved hear Lord Ruthyn leaves Newstead in April. him till he had given vent to his indignation As soon as he quits it for ever, I wish much in rhyme, and that “after the first twenty you would take a ride over, survey the lines, he felt himself considerably better.” mansion, and give me your candid opinion His chief care, indeed, afterwards, was ami- on the most advisable mode of proceeding ably devoted, - as we have seen it was, in with regard to the house. Entre
I am like manner, before the criticism, — to allay- cursedly dipped ; my debts, every thing ining, as far as he could, the sensitiveness of clusive, will be nine or ten thousand before his mother ; who, not having the same I am twenty-one. But I have reason to motive or power to summon up a spirit of think my property will turn out better than resistance, was, of course, more helplessly general expectation may conceive. Of Newalive to this attack upon his fame, and felt stead I have little hope or care ; but Hanson, it far more than, after the first burst of in- | my agent, intimated my Lancashire property dignation, he did himself. But the state of was worth three Newsteads. I believe we his mind upon the subject will be best under- have it hollow; though the defendants are stood from the following letter.
protracting the surrender, if possible, till
after my majority, for the purpose of forming LETTER 25.
some arrangement with me, thinking I shall “ Dorant's, March 28. 1808. probably prefer a sum in hand to a reversion. “ I have lately received a copy of the new Newstead I may sell ;—perhaps I will not, edition from Ridge, and it is high time for —though of that more anon.
I will come me to return my best thanks to you for the down in May or June. trouble you have taken in the superintend
“ Yours most truly,” &c. ence. This I do most sincerely, and only regret that Ridge has not seconded
The sort of life which he led at this period could wish,—at least, in the bindings, paper, between the dissipations of London and of &c., of the copy he sent to me. Perhaps Cambridge, without a home to welcome, or those for the public may be more respectable even the roof of a single relative to receive in such articles.
him, was but little calculated to render him You have seen the Edinburgh Review, of satisfied either with himself or the world. course. I regret that Mrs. Byron is so much Unrestricted as he was by deference to any annoyed. For my own part, these 'paper will but his own, even the pleasures to
TO MR. BECHER.
you as I
* "'Tis a quality very observable in human nature, that any opposition which does not entirely discourage and intimidate us, has rather a contrary effect, and inspires us with a more than ordinary grandeur and magnanimity. In collecting our force to overcome the opposition, we invigorate the soul, and give it an elevation with which otherwise it would never have been acquainted.”. HUME, Treatise of Human Nature.
2 (“ Dr. Johnson's reply to the friend who asked him
if any man living could have written such a book is well known : Yes, Sir; many men, many women, and many children.' I inquired of him myself if this story was authentic, and he said it was." - Mrs. Piozzi, Johnson. iana, p. 84.]
3 “The colour of our whole life is generally such as the three or four first years in which we are our own masters make it." -CowPER.