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erroneous or untrue; but an anonymous author has no right to be believed in preference to one who speaks in his own name: there is nothing to show that Mr. Hobhouse might not have been as mistaken about a date or an epigram as Mr. Medwin; and when we find him giving us his own version of a fact, and Mr. Medwin asserting that Lord Byron gave him another, the only impression left upon the mind of any body who knew his Lordship is, that the fault most probably lay in the loose cor-) ners of the noble Poet's vivacity. Such is the impression made upon the author of an unpublished Letter to Mr. Hobhouse, which has been shown me in print; and he had a right to it. The Reviewer, to my knowledge, is mistaken upon some points, as well person views. The assumption, that nobody can know any thing about Lord Byron but two or three persons who were conversant with him for a certain space of time, and whom he spoke of with as little ceremony, and would hardly treat with more confidence than he did a hundred others, is ludicrous; and can only end, as the criticism has done, in doing no good either to him or them.
The Life and Times is a curiosity, if it were only for the title. But in contradicting its heap of absurdities, some more truths will come out for the reader's entertainment. The title-page is worth repeating, as a fullblown specimen of this sort of flourishing.
“ The LIFE, WRITINGS, OPINIONS, and TIMES of the RIGHT HON. GEORGE GORDON NOEL BYRON, LORD BYRON; including in its most extensive biography, anecdotes and memoirs of the lives of the most eminent and eccentric, public and noble characters and courtiers of the present polished and enlightened Age and Court of His Majesty King George the Fourth. In the course of the biography are also separately given copious recollections of the lately destroyed MS., originally intended for posthumous publication, and entitled, Memoirs of My Own Life and Times. By the Right Hon. Lord Byron.
“ CREDE BYRON.” Motto of the Byron Family
"I have, in this rough work, shaped out a man
With amplest entertainment: my free drift
By an English Gentleman in the Greek Military Service, and Comrade of his Lordship. Compiled from documents, and from long personal acquaintance. In Three Volumes. Volume I. London: Matthew Iley, Somerset-street, Portman-square. MDCCCxxv.
There may be, it seems, enthusiasm in every thing, even in book-making. Here is a volume of sound in the very types. They are proportioned to the impression intended to be made on the sensorium. We have the LIFE, WRITINGS, OPINIONS, and TIMES of LORD BYRON very large: then, after a proper crowd of polite capitals, comes the “AGE AND COURT OF HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE THE FOURTH,” with its greatness reasonably diminished; then “Copious Recollections of the lately destroyed MS., originally intended for posthumous publication,” very nice and particular; then a flourish of trumpets again in the size of the “RIGHT HON. LORD BYRON," a title to admiration which cannot be too often repeated; after which, we have the Family Motto, asking and receiving trust; then the Motto from Shakspeare, really good; and the procession is closed by the Author in person, who in modest capitals announces himself as an English Gentleman, a comrade of his Lordship, who has judiciously entered into the Greek military service, and, of course, does not like to be known. It would have hurt the feelings of the Sultan; whom he is doubtless intimate with, his Lordship once having spoken with that personage. The writer concludes with informing us, if we choose to overhear him (for his types on this occasion amount to a whisper,) that all this world of information is “compiled from authentic documents, and from long personal acquaintance;" and our gratitude is consummated by the information, that we have three volumes of it; a whole paradise of knowledge.
In a preface full of mistakes, and containing a remarkable mixture of credulity and puffing, the author dis
cusses the right of Lord Byron's connexions to suppress his memoirs; which right he denies. He says that his Lordship was public property; that the work was bequeathed by him to posterity; and that no consideration for individuals ought to have withheld it. Nobody will agree with this, except persons eager at all hazards to gratify their curiosity, and there is one hazard which would stop even them;-viz. the mention of themselves. The present times have remarkably exemplified the old remark, that there are none so furious at being spoken ill of, as those who delight to hear scandal of others. The question respecting the publication of Lord Byron's autobiography is, not whether posterity, that is, our chil- ! dren's children, might not have a right to it, if it could be recovered, which it probably will; but whether the curiosity of his contemporaries had a right to be gratified at the hazard of wounding the feelings and risking the peace and reputation of the living; all this, too, on the ipse dixit of a man of violent impulses, who had a false opinion of human nature, and little cared what feelings he wounded, where his own mortification, or wit, or love of display, was concerned. In the course of time, when the author becomes better known, and a calmer estimate can be formed both of his merits and mistakes,
such a book with no hurt at all to the feelings of living persons, and perhaps no injustice to those who are dead. Their knowledge of the writer would qualify what he said of them; and on intimate acquaintance with himself, beyond what he intended (for such is the inevitable betrayal of all autobiographies,) might repay the world for any injustice hazarded on that
1 score. They would have the benefit accruing from the anatomy of an extraordinary individual. For I hold it to be certain, that an exposition of the real feelings and opinions of any body superior to the ordinary run of mankind, would serve to strike out new lights for the conduct and improvement of the human race, even, perhaps, from what were considered his errors.
The errors of one generation may turn out to be the virtues of another; just as the virtue of one (religious intolerance for example) may turn out to be an error. I should like to know every particle of the lives of Plato and Socrates, of
Brutus and of Cæsar and Marcus Aurelius, of Dante and Ariosto, of such men as Mazarin and De Retz, of Henry the Fourth, of Chaucer, Shakspeare, and Milton, of Pope and Swift; and the more particularly, the more they differed in their conduct from the times they lived in. It is said, that great men resemble little men in their passions; but perhaps they are not so much mistaken as little men in the nature of them, and in the greater or less quantity of judgment with which they are treated by society; and, at all events, we are more likely to be told something by the passions that accompany the study of a man's self, than by those of ignorance and imitation.
6. The subject of these Memoirs,” says our author of the “Life and Times," “ was descended from a family, which was renowned from the period of the Conquest; several illustrious persons having figured in the history of England under the name of Buron, Biron, or Byron, which they assumed indiscriminately.'
This reminds me of the disputes respecting Lord Byron's pronunciation of his name; some maintaining that he called it Byron, with a short y, others Byron with a long one. The truth is, he pronounced it both ways, but in general the former. Captain Medwin says, that in speaking of Lady Byron, he pronounced it “ Byrn;" but this is a mistake. The Captain's ear might not have discerned the second vowel, but it was discernible to others. “Byrn" is Byron, pronounced shortly, with the northern burr. But he called himself Byron sometimes; and the Italians always called him so; at least, as nearly as they could. They made it Bairon, as I have noticed in Madame Guiccioli. Lord Byron was proud of his name, and he had reason to be so. He was also not unwilling to be reminded of his namesake in Shakspeare, and used to mention with pleasure the quotation attributed to Mr. Bowles:
“ Biron they call him; but a merrier man
Within the limits of becoming mirth,
While his apt tongue, conceit's expositor,” &c. I quote from memory, and cannot go on; but the passage was not applicable.
pplicable. Lord Byron was sometimes
witty in conversation, often merry, oftener common-place. Conversation, as I have said more than once, was by no means his talent; and none would have thought it so, who had been used to better.
Our author gives us to understand, that Lord Byron did not succeed so well in making love, as ladies succeeded in making love to him. This is true; for reasons which have been explained. But they do not apply to his early love for his cousin Miss Chaworth, which was that of an imaginative boy taking a boyish impulse for a serious passion, and fancying himself bound to be silent, and sorrowing. He would have been in love with any other girl that happened to be near him, and have lost her by the same mistake. It was the Author's first error,-a mistake out of book. But he imagined the passion, or has since shown that he could imagine it, beautifully, (see his poem of the “ Dream;”) and if the lady had been kind, she might probably have warmed his heart into real love, and saved him (as he suspected she might) many a cruel mistake afterwards. As to his literature being in the way, our author is sadly out in his ponderings on that matter:
" It is a weakness," (he tells us,) "peculiar to the geniuses of imagination, both male and female, to fancy that they must be themselves the objects of that passion which they so fervently describe, whatever may be their personal defects. Literary persons are, however, from their yery pursuits, the least qualified to shine in the courts of love. One captain in the Guards will do more execution in an hour with his small shot (small talk,) than all the literati of the Chapter Coffee House can effect with their critical great guns in twelve months. Sappho was reduced to take a flying leap to get rid of her disappointed passion. Pope was jeered at by Lady Mary Wortley Montague, and fascinating Jack Musters was too much for poor Lord Byron. De gustibus nil disputandum. In fact, a wise man in love becomes a mere fool; and a Cymon becomes intelligent in the presence of his beloved Iphigène.
What sort of lovers the Literati of the “Chapter. Coffee House" may be, it is impossible to say; but that their literature (if worth any thing) is no obstruction to