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shall not suffer to transpire, and which he used to defend, by saying that the parties joked in the same manner
“ Now this is worshipful society.” Our author ventures to think that Lord Byron failed in the drama. His Lordship had a shrewd suspicion of it himself. Speaking one day of a manuscript tragedy of mine, which in our dearth of books he had asked to read, he said he thought it the next best thing I had written, to the “ Story of Rimini.” I said, I wished I could think any thing favourable of it, even by courtesy; but I could not. I was quite sure that I had no faculty for the drama. He reflected upon this; and observed, in an under-tone between question and no-question, “Perhaps I have not succeeded in the drama myself." I took advantage of the ambiguity of the tone, to make an answer. Had a stranger been present, he might have thought his remark a challenge to be candid, and looked upon my silence as not paying it sufficient honour. I should have thought so once myself; but the time for that delusion was past. Lord Byron was always adting, even when he capriciously spoke the truth. He had hampered himself with sophistications, till he could not break through them; and would have resented the attempt to extricate him, as an assumption of superiority.
At p. 145, vol. ii. is the extraordinary picture I have alluded to respecting an alleged quarrel of mine with Lord Byron. Our author relates it in the following easy and assured style:
“At Pisa," quoth he," an unfortunate difference took place between Lord Byron and Mr. Leigh Hunt, of which the following particulars have been derived from one of the parties concerned. Parisina' was considered by Lord Byron as the best of all his minor poems; in fact, it was the only one he ever could be induced to speak of in company, and when he did so, it was in language
that silenced all contradiction: it was so,and it must be so, seemed to be the sovereign pleasure of him whose word no man dared to doubt, who wished to retain any particle of his favour. Mr. Snelgrove, lieutenant of l’Eclair, was at Leghorn, and of course a fre
quent attendant at Pisa at the time that Mr. Leigh Hunt was the constant companion of his Lordship. He noticed him on every occasion, and made him at last so far forget himself, that he considered he had power and ability to criticise the works of his great benefactor. He presumed to censure Parisina;' and Mr. Dodd, the Deputy Consul (formerly clerk to Captain Rowley) traced to the pen of Leigh Hunt some criticisms that had appeared in the Livourna Gazette and Lucca newspaper. Mr. Hunt ought to have been aware how jealous an author is of the darling offspring of his muse, and he ought to have spared the feelings, or, if he pleases, the weaknesses of his friend and benefactor. But wits, like game cocks, never spare each other. From this time, our informant states, that Lord Byron never saw or spoke to Mr. Leigh Hunt, or any of his connexions.”
It is worth while to take this grave falsehood to pieces for the sake of the grave truths with which every particle of it can be set aside.
"At Pisa an unfortunate difference took place between Lord Byron and Mr. Leigh Hunt.”
There was no difference.
“ The following particulars have been derived from one of the parties concerned.”
There was no party concerned, except in the inven-) tion of the story. Who that was, I cannot say.
“Parisina was considered by Lord Byron as the best of all his minor poems; in fact, it was the only one that he could ever be induced to speak of in company.
By no means. His companions have heard him speak of the others hundreds of times.
“And when he did so, it was in language that silenced all contradiction: it was so,-and it must be so, seemed to be the sovereign pleasure of him whose word no man dared to doubt, who wished to retain any particle of his favours.”
A pretty notion of the tenure by which his friendship was to be held! And a still prettier specimen of the sort of company
that affected to be with him on this occasion!
“ Mr. Snelgrove, Lieutenant of l’Eclair, was at Leghorn, and of course a frequent attendant at Pisa, at the
time that Mr. Leigh Hunt was the constant companion of his Lordship.”
Why “ of course?” Were all the visiters at Leghorn duiquitous of necessity? Or did every man who happened to visit Leghorn at that time, become, as a matter of course, qualified to know every thing respecting Lord Byron and his friends! If it is meant to be said, that the story comes from this Mr. Snelgrove, it is here returned to him, “neat as imported."
“He (Lord Byron) noticed him (videlicet, myself) on every occasion, and made him at last so far forget himself, that he considered he had power and ability to criticise the works of his great benefactor!”
The awful darings and benefactions" I leave in the reader's hands: but, whatever might have been my 66
power and ability,” another thing was wanting to the criticism; to wit, inclination. I am not accustomed to speak ill of the writings of any body in conversation, and certainly said nothing of them in the instance alluded to.
“ He presumed to censure “Parisina," and Mr. Dodd, the Deputy Consul (formerly clerk to Captain Rowley) traced to the pen of Leigh Hunt some criticisms that had appeared in the Livourna Gazette and Lucca newspaper.
I never before heard of Mr. Snelgrove the Lieutenant, or Mr. Dodd the former clerk; nor did I ever write any thing about “ Parisina,” nor any thing in a foreign paper, nor could any criticisms of mine be traced to the “Livourna" or Lucca papers, which Lord Byron himself was not before acquainted with in print. What is remarkable is, that to the best of my recollection I never even read Parisina, nor is this the only one of his Lordship's works, of which I can say as much, acquainted as I am with the others. I never valued any of his minor poems, with the exception of some of the lyrics, and perhaps “Lara," which I recollect thinking the best of his narratives; and I mention this, because I have also a recollection, that he agreed with me in that opi
nion; though it may have been expressed before the appearance of “ Parisina."
Whether he liked “Parisina,” as they say he did, I cannot tell; nor is it of any conse
quence. He would have thought it of little consequence himself, knowing his own versatility that way, and what contradictory opinions he would utter both of himself and others, a hundred times in a week. But to proceed.
“Mr. Hunt,” quoth our patron of the “ Life and Times," " ought to have been aware, how jealous an author is of the darling offspring of his muse, and he ought to have spared the feelings, or, if he pleases, the weaknesses, of his friend and benefactor. But wits, like game cocks, never spare each other. From this time, our informant states, that Lord Byron never saw or spoke to Mr. Leigh Hunt, or any of his connexions!” " Ex uno,” as the Captain says,
66 disce omnes. Perhaps, after all, there are no such persons as Mr. Snelgrove and Mr. Dodd, (Blackwood, the pious dog, makes nothing of inventing a few Lieutenants;) or they may be very respectable people, and know no more of the story than I did a year and a half ago, when I met with the - Life and Times” by chance. I certainly should" not have taken the trouble of contradicting it but for the present work. Our biographer may have cut it out with his scissors from some other fictitious narrative, together with the opinions he seems to give upon it; for he is as wonderful an author in his way as Lord Byron, being a great many other writers besides himself.
Idle as this story is, it may have been made use of, for aught I know, to render Lord Byron uneasy in my society. To be sure, he never hinted to me a syllable of any thing of the sort. He knew, if he did, that he should get at the truth, as far as I was concerned. But it is not impossible, that, notwithstanding what he knew of me, his own habit of speaking against his friends might have rendered him doubtful
whether circumstances had not provoked me to do as much for him. At all events, being vicious on that score, he was naturally suspicious; and if I took advantage of his weaknesses, others were not so scrupulous. People came to him from as many quarters as there are foolish and envious persons, to try and break up our connexion; and they would not stick at a trifle to effect their purpose.
It would be loss of time, on almost every other sub
ject, to go on contradicting the heap of absurdities that our compiler has gathered together. But the minutest details respecting Lord Byron have not yet lost their interest with the public: it is useful to show how many falsehoods have been told them; and in contradicting this one publication I contradict twenty others, the scandalous ones included.
Our author has no sooner done with this story, than, as if drunk with credulity, and resolved to keep it up to the last syllable, he goes on compiling and believing at a most glorious rate. There is a favourite passage the Calvinist hymn-books, which tells the ungodly to stand upon no ceremony in becoming proselytes, not to be ashamed of any contradiction the most barefaced, or to think of waiting to change a rag of their rascality.
« Come wretched, come ragged, come filthy, come bare ; ?
You can't come too filthy; come just as you are.” Just in the same manner our compiler, scissors in hand, calls the gossips and the anonymous writers about him, proposing not even to cast away their rags when they come, but to turn them to account, and preserve every particle of them for their mutual honour and profit;
“ Come writers on Byron, come liars, come fools ;
You can't come too lying :-come, lend us your tools." The account that follows at p. 146, of Lord Byron's. residence at Pisa, was probably some direct invention, made for a magazine at the time, and duly served up hot to the public, after which our author has it cold for his collation.
“ Lord Byron, while at Pisa, resided near the Leaning Tower, at Signora Dominesia's, a lady who keeps several small houses,” &c.
Particular rogue! Lord Byron, while at Pisa, lived in the Casa Lanfranchi, a palace in the High Street of that city, called the Lung'Arno. I am not sure whether he might not have put up at some lodging-house for a night
6. With the Grand Duke Lord Byron was intimate.” He never exchanged a word with him. He told me