LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
John Galt
Galt’s Life of Lord Byron.
New Monthly Magazine  Vol. 27  (October 1830)  386-87.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH


New Monthly Magazine.

October 1, 1830.


To the Editor of the New Monthly Magazine.

Sir;—It has been a rule with me not to notice, publicly, either favourable, ignorant, or malicious criticism, but only when error has been pointed out, to make the necessary corrections. On the present occasion I am induced to deviate from this rule, out of personal consideration for Mr. Hobhouse, the Member for Westminster, and the friend of Lord Byron, and accordingly I request a place in your journal for the following remark.

John Galt, Life of Lord Byron

Mr. Hobhouse has informed me that I have done him wrong in conjecturing that he was probably the critic who opposed the first publication of Childe Harold. (See Life, p. 161.) The conjecture was founded in believing him to have been in the entire confidence of his Lordship. Lord Byron told me himself at Athens that he had not then shown the manuscript to any person. Mr. Hobhouse says that he had left Lord Byron before be had finished the two cantos, and, excepting a few fragments, he had never seen them until they were printed. An inscription on the manuscript has been preserved, and in his Lordship’s handwriting, viz. “Byron, Joannina, in Albania, begun October 31, 1809, concluded Canto II., Smyrna, March 28, 1810. Byron.” Mr. Hobhouse was with his Lordship long after the latter date.

John Galt, Life of Lord Byron

At page 212, I have quoted from Medwin that Mr. Hobhouse was with Lord Byron and Shelley in a boat, &c. It seems Mr. Hobhouse was not there; his name, therefore, should have been omitted by Captain Medwin. At page 211, I have stated what I think of Captain Medwin’s work, and in my preface have alluded to a suppressed pamphlet which was not seen by me until after my opinion had been printed.

Mr. Hobhouse says that the verses which have always been considered as the last Lord Byron ever wrote, were not so, and that my version of them is not correct in nine different words. To this I can only answer that they were copied from a printed copy, having no other, (I believe the Parisian edition of Byron’s works,) and that I still cannot say what corrections should be made. If Mr. Hobhouse be engaged on any illustration of Byron, he will, of course, mention what edition should be preferred.

I take leave on the present occasion to say that, having long considered Lord Byron as a public man, in writing his life, it seemed to me that I should confine myself to what had been already given to the world concerning him, authenticated with so much of what I knew myself to be correct, as would enable me to furnish the grounds on which I formed my notion of his Lordship’s character. By adhering to this principle nothing improper could be done to his memory.

A public character, like public events, can never be justly described by contemporaries. The only course that contemporaries can fairly pursue—and I have endeavoured to do so—is to add their personal knowledge to that of others. From the materials thus accumulated, posterity alone can be able to construct the proper work. It was no part of my plan to controvert the statement of others, but only to take such of them as were either generally admitted, or were not satisfactorily disproved. I am, &c.

John Galt.
Sept. 22, 1830.
Galt’s Life of Lord Byron. 539

N.B. Since the foregoing was sent to the printer’s, it has been suggested to me that I am not the only one who has done Mr. Hobhouse the injustice to suppose that he was the critic who condemned Childe Harold, and the following words have been laid before me as old as 1826. “‘Critics,’ says Lord Byron, ‘are all ready made;’ and how early Mr. Hobhouse was qualified for the trade, will appear from his having advised Lord Byron not to publish Childe Harold.”

I cannot find a better place than the present to express my regret at a paper on the subject of Lord Byron, signed T. Sheldrake, having disfigured the last Number of the New Monthly. I never allow papers to be sent to the printer without my sanction, nor did I see this article in manuscript. In the most sincere and positive terms I acquit the Proprietor of the New Monthly, and all persons connected with it, of having intended to bring out this offensive production without my knowledge. None of us could have any possible motive to wish for its appearance—but quite the contrary. It got to the press by a mere unfortunate accident. In consequence of a change that lately took place in the Sub-editorship, a transference of the manuscript papers took place, and in that transference this paper, which I had never seen, was accidentally misplaced from among the papers which I had not inspected to those which I had inspected and approved of. I left town for a few days at the end of last month, confidently believing that the printer had no papers in his hand but those which, according to custom, had my sanction for publication. What was my horror when, on my return, I discovered in our September Number this puff of an instrument-maker, aggravated by a foul and false attack on the memory of my beloved and respected friend, the late Dr. Glennie of Dulwich. The friends of Dr. Glennie would degrade themselves if they condescended to answer this calumny any farther than by explaining the accident to which it owes its getting int any decent publication. I knew Dr. Glennie long and well, and like all who knew him, (it was a wide circle) can feel only contempt and abhorrence towards his traducer. Even to those who knew not Dr. Glennie, this paper must betray itself by its contents, as the manifest effort of a malignant and impudent man wishing to force himself into notice and business. He has had the audacity to send a postscript, desiring that he may not be confounded with some who bear the same name of Sheldrake. I scarcely think that Sheldrake, the really well-known instrument-maker, has any wish to be confounded with this brother of his, Timothy, the calumniator of Dr. Glennie; but at all events I have no wish that the calumniator should be mistaken for a contributor to any work edited by T. Campbell.