LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Vol. III Contents
‣ Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
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A publisher, Mr. Cochrane, then resident in Waterloo Place, spoke to me upon the subject of a new work, to be called ‘The Metropolitan.’ Would I undertake it and obtain Campbell as the editor? It was not possible to pay him as he had been paid before; he should have a moiety of the sum, and only send in a few verses when he pleased. The terms were agreed to; and we started a work which gave good promise of success. Moore, who would not touch the ‘New Monthly’ from its original sin, at once consented to contribute; and Montgomery, of Sheffield, to give his lectures. Montgomery was a most amiable man, with no very fixed principles of a political nature. Several old literary friends joined us, and Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, and Delta, of ‘Blackwood’s Magazine;’ in other words, the lamented Mr. Moir, of Musselburgh. I had made a notice of his little ‘History of Medicine,’ with which he was much pleased.

Musselburgh, July 5th,

“I herewith send you three poetical tales, that you may select from those the one that seems most adapted for insertion in the ‘Metropolitan.’

“Not having the honor of a personal acquaintance with Mr. Campbell (being, unfortunately, unable to meet him the last time he dined with Professor Wilson), I have thought it best to present these tales through you, having been informed through Mr. —— that you wished me to send something for the ‘Metropolitan.’ Having received the first numbers, with the compliments of the editor, may I request the favor of your receiving my best thanks for the same, and also for the very kind and flattering notice of my ‘Ancient History of Medicine.’

“Should none of the tales sent appear quite adapted for the ‘Metropolitan,’ I beg that no use of them be made from personal consideration to me; but let them be returned, and I will shortly endeavour to do something else, and, if possible, better. They form part of a series, which some time ago I had arranged for separate publication, but have since deferred the idea. With best wishes for the success of the ‘Metropolitan,’ which has set out with such fair performance and promise,

“Believe me, most truly yours,
David M. Moir.”

The poems of Mr. Moir—it is wonderful—have not been collected. He was a delightful poet. While the works of some second-rate trans-Atlantic poets are reprinted here, because the copyright costs nothing, it is
to be regretted that those of better writers should be passed over. Messrs.
Blackwood, I presume, possess most of Mr. Moir’s productions.

Mr. S. D. Broughton, of the 2nd Life-guards, to which he was the surgeon, contributed excellent scientific articles to the new work. He was the last man in the regiment who had been at Waterloo. He divested his style of all abstruseness, in order to adapt his papers for general perusal. An injury to his ancle caused him to consult his professional friends, who agreed in the necessity of an amputation. He was of their opinion; but had such a presentiment he should not live, that he drove to Kensall Green to fix on the spot where he should lie. He underwent the operation and died, as he foretold he should do.

We carried on the ‘Metropolitan’ for nearly two years. Captain Marryat, who had written for it, purchased the copyright of Mr. Valpy, to whom it fell in consequence of the bookseller’s failure, at a time it promised exceedingly well. Both Campbell and myself left the publication together, and here our literary labours terminated, having lasted twelve years, during which we had never a dissonant word, and I believe, with a mutual regard for each other which never abated. I can answer for myself.

Not long before this, I published, but almost immediately recalled, a small volume, entitled ‘Gabrielle,’ a tale. It also contained some of the pieces that had appeared in the ‘New Monthly’ and in ‘Blackwood.’ I inscribed it to Campbell. I recalled the work, which was well received, on account of a dispute about some passages. Not two hundred got abroad; the rest I still have by me.
I was not satisfied, from
Horace Smith, urging me to alter some passages, and owing to my freedom with the rhymes. I began to do so; but the result was, that I never republished it, although it has lain by me ready for many years. Campbell, in one of his impulses, said he would notice it. I remarked, that inscribed to himself, I thought it would look odd. He then wrote the following, which will exhibit how little he thought of the effect likely to be produced by anything he did, considering our relationship in duty. I retain it in his own hand-writing, having intercepted it at the printers:—

“This poem is dedicated to the author of this journal, as a memorial of an uninterrupted intercourse of friendship during many years of literary co-operation. The editor is, therefore, as palpably incapacitated by his relation to Mr. Redding from pretending to speak of his poems with impartiality, as if Mr. R. were his own brother; but he conceives he should be untrue to the best feelings of a man, if he abstained from thanking his esteemed co-editor for this testimony of his personal regard, or if he were unwilling to testify that, in no relations of life, or business of literature, has he met with more undeviating honour and principle, more equal temper, more useful knowledge, and more effective assistance, than he found as editor of the ‘New Monthly’ from the author of these poems.”

Though such a testimony from such a poet was valuable, I feared it would be liable to misconstruction in print, in a work in which we were mutually concerned.

I had sent an early copy to Rogers. Pringle was on his way from the poet of memory one morning, and bought me a message as follows:—


“Pray make my warmest acknowledgments to Mr. Redding for the honour he has done me. I am reading his poems with exceeding pleasure. They are full of fancy and feeling, and written with great elegance. I am particularly struck with ‘The Voiceless City.’

This reference is to some verses originally in the ‘New Monthly,’ vol. 16, p. 404, entitled ‘The City of the Dead.’ I had changed the title in the volume.

Rogers’ praise is worth having,” said Pringle; “I can only say that, judging from the three or four pieces which I am ashamed to say are all I have yet perused, I sincerely concur in his opinion.” Professor Wilson noticed it in ‘Blackwood.’

Lord Holland wrote me, acknowledging the pleasure he received at the perusal of the volume; and, subsequently, I had the expression of satisfaction with them from the author of ‘Vathek.’

Then, why stop the publication to this hour? The truth is, there were points purely relative to taste in composition, which, on being pointed out and reasoned upon, I determined to change. The cost of the little volume had not been enormous. Year after year passed away; I went on altering a line now and then, and neglected making other changes, until I found more leisure to complete them. By the time this was done, it seemed to me that the taste for poetry in the style I should alone think of writing, had passed away from the land. I did not desire to be more than a humble follower of that school which has given marks of endurance, and would fain rather not appear at all, than aid the downward march of the hour, in that tone which depresses in place of elevating the objects of our mental
desires. The poems will now probably never see the light with my corrections—no matter, it will be soon a thing as indifferent to me that they ever existed, as my own existence will be to the world.

It is painful to know how often the press is debased—how mean are the acts by which the noblest of instruments is polluted in making it a medium of public deception. Nor is avarice the only cause of its misuse. Those who have conducted publications of some moment well know how many there are in society who seek to enlist its aid for the gratification of malice, the depreciation of talent, and the arts of unfair dealing. From the crier of his false wares by the itinerant pedlar; and from the dealer in publications, to the politician in office, there is one continual war waged against truth by the spirit of self-interest. Many busy hours have been interrupted by those who sought interviews for purposes of the most selfish nature, and I have had it hinted too clearly to be mistaken, that my censure of such a thing—say a picture of a brother artist—would be gratefully acknowledged. I have had the abuse of a cotemporary poured into my. ears for a design it was imagined I did not perceive, and I have then asked openly, “What cause of hatred have you against this individual that you want to poison my mind regarding him?” I was, thank God, proof against the rascality continually exhibited of rendering periodical literature a vehicle for my own advantage by accepting books from publishers to be praised before the public, and thus eking out a sale of bad or good works, and laying the trader under obligations, for which you contemplated a return at another time. I once determined, to receive no requests, but by
note. I made no custom of the society that I knew was interested in using me as its instrument. I evaded invitations to evening parties, and going into company in which persons were to be met who were difficult to refuse. Public dinners and revels do not consort with the pursuits of honest literature. I do not believe a minister of state, though he has a wider field of view, expatiating among the magnates in statutes, if not in virtues; I do not think a minister of state sees more of the latent meanness and hypocrisy of human nature than the editor of one of our larger publications did in the time gone by. Literary men may have no peculiar saintship of which to boast, beyond their neighbours; but if they have not some scintillation of virtue left—some troublesome scanty remnants of integrity—they fulfil an office for which they are unfit. I would appeal to honest literary men for the correctness of the statement. In the present day, the noli me tangere system covers a multitude of sins. The most vicious, it has been thought, may use the press with unwashed hands, as if honesty were not as necessary in authorship as in a banking-house. This is one cause in those who know the press by experience qualifying much of its utility.

I have mentioned Thomas Pringle before. He was the son of a Scotch agriculturist, who early in life became known to Sir Walter Scott by a poem, called ‘Scenes of Teviotdale.’ After starting ‘Blackwood’s Magazine,’ he had a dispute with Blackwood and separated from the editorship. He soon afterwards emigrated to the Cape, and settled with his aged father at Albany. His lameness—for he was obliged to use crutches—rendered him unfit for a farmer’s life, and he went to Cape
Town, having letters from Sir Walter Scott to
Lord Charles Somerset. He sent articles home for the ‘New Monthly,’ and published a volume of sweet poetry, called ‘The Ephemerides,’ and another, entitled ‘African Sketches.’ In 1834, I found him in lodgings in Bryanstone Street, rapidly sinking from a broken blood-vessel. He had taken a passage to the Cape in order to be off before the cold weather set in, thinking the climate might restore him. The Captain declared he should sail in a week. Pringle had paid his passage-money, and had been kept six or seven weeks waiting when I saw him. He had hoped to be in a warm latitude before the winter. Thus cheated, and the cold setting in, he became worse and expired December 5th. I shook hands with him—death on his countenance. He expired with that moral courage which belongs to a virtuous life. He was a man of simple mind and manners, for whom I had a strong regard. His abilities were of no mean order. His last letter came to me at Bath, just before his death.

6, Portman Street, Portman Sq.

“Dear Mr. Redding,—I have been very ill since June last, in consequence of the rupture of a blood-vessel in the lungs. I am now on the point of flying to South Africa to escape the deadly influence of our moist English climate, and in the hope of recovering a sound state of health. It is not probable—be my days few or many—that I shall ever return. I have had enough of the bustle and fagg of life; and, if I have only the humblest competency, I shall sit down content in that fine climate, under my own vine and fig-tree, without
troubling myself further about the affairs of the great world. If you are in town, pray come and see me.

“Is the paragraph true in the papers which says Campbell is gone to Algiers? If so, I must provide myself with a speaking trumpet to roar into his lug from the Cape of Storms,

“Yours very truly,
Thomas Pringle.”

Sir William Ouseley I used to meet often, he was one of those literary men who are at times so absorbed in the object of his pursuit as to lose sight of other things altogether. His knowledge in Oriental literature as to extent compared to some distinguished scholars, I am unable to state with accuracy. His Oriental collections were the work of the last century, began about 1798. I doubt whether he was so well known here by his elucidations of Oriental subjects as on the continent. His ‘Oriental Geography of Ebn Hankal’ appeared in 1800. The tales of ‘Bakhtyar’ and the ‘Ten Virgins’ followed. He was a member of a number of learned societies, a profound Persian scholar, and would have largely contributed to increase our knowledge of the historians of that country, but for want of public encouragement. These are not now likely ever to appear in an English dress, as the taste for Eastern learning, in all its branches, has since Sir William’s death rapidly declined. It is only through societies upon the plan of the Camden and others, that any of the works of the Orientalists—or, indeed, any similar subjects from other sources—-can again be expected to appear in an English garb, so little is the public interest felt in
learned topics. We had many agreeable interviews; and I listened with pleasure to the instructive observations of so remarkable a scholar.

The scheme of a literary club had been promulgated by Campbell, without any definite arrangement for carrying it out. It began by the meeting of a few friends at his house of an evening, when the matter was talked over, but for some time without any result. At length a committee was appointed, Mr. J. D. Moore, a gentleman of the medical profession, acting as secretary. Subsequently the meetings took place at the British Coffee House. Still no definite plan was arranged. Campbell wished me as a member to take the arrangements in hand, and push it forward. There were lectures to be given, conversaziones to be held, in fact, it was to be a unique literary establishment. I consented, unused as I was to similar undertakings, for it was easy to see that the poet, as usual, would soon slacken in attention. He had no idea of the details, nor had I, for he began to think only of the lectures. The weight of the whole fell upon myself, until I had received a good sum of money, when the committee, formed as before, saw the thing would succeed, and it became a fact. It was agreed to take the house in Waterloo Place, which the Athenæum Club had just vacated, and here the number of additional members became so great that there were ample funds. The arrangements required attention. I soon saw what was necessary to be done, but I regretted to observe that literary objects began to be lost sight of, and that the whole would degenerate into a London West End Club. At the end of the year I gave an account of my
stewardship, of the expenditure of some thousands of pounds, and of the complete formation. I then resigned all connection with the arrangements. The club voted me its thanks, and the freedom of the institution without the annual payment. One captious opponent alone to the vote appearing, I preferred to be independent and to pay my annual quota. I was a member only to the end of 1833; for quitting London early the following year, I knew little of its proceedings afterwards, but by hearsay. Its name was changed, and it afterwards became the Clarence. I know not the precise year of its dissolution after it was thus reformed and newly named.

There were many pleasant individuals in the Literary Union. Some entertainments were given there to distinguished individuals, not only of rank, but of literary or political renown. The committee consisted of Prince Cimitelli, Viscount Torrington, Sir F. Freeling, Sir G. Ducket, Sir G. T. Staunton, Sir G. Ouseley, Messrs. Campbell, Mackinnon, I. L. Goldsmid, Lockhart, Martin, Watson, Smirnove, Wade, Ayrton, Lardner, Barnes, Henderson, Pickersgill and Webster. There were a great number of literary men belonging to it, and many who were lovers of literature. Such as that gallant old soldier, Sir John Elley of the Blues, also General Hardwick, Sir E. Codrington, Lord A. Fitzclarence, and others. Augustus William Schlegel, Sir Walter Scott, Professor Wilson, Cuvier, Goristiza, A. Montemont, Baron Bulow, and several of the foreign Ambassadors, were also honorary members. Mackworth Praed, Campbell, Sir John Elley, and one or two more used to cause me a great waste of time. I had as much of the weight of the ‘Metropolitan’ on my hands as I had before of the “New Monthly,” but here the small print matter was far less complicated. The Literary Union was on my hands at the same moment. Idlers used to come in of a morning and occupy my time by conversation, so that I found I had difficulty in proceeding, having to double application in my task.

Mrs. Siddons died about this period. I used to meet her occasionally at Campbell’s. On the stage, I have said before, nothing could surpass her in power, in majesty, in the divinity that hedges a queen. In private society, the heroine fell into the woman. We do not like to have our idealities spoiled in this way. Neither the Queen of Sheba, nor Semiramis, nor she who’s dalliance lost the Roman a world, could rank higher than the royalty of Mrs. Siddons when she trod the stage, but I became an iconoclast when I met her in the drawing-room. My idol was shattered, the glorious illusion departed, and I wondered how I had ever been so deceived. Again, when the woman was no longer before me, when pale death had made her the partner of his bed of dust, when she could no more deteriorate to the visual sense and put on ordinary womanhood, the transcendent merit of her image on the stage, the sovereign of tragedy, came back again above womanhood, above that cold obstruction which is the lot of mortality. She became again radiant in her remembered glory as I first beheld her; with the keen perception and ardent gaze of astonished youth, the magic of memory heightening her dignity and exalting every hue, not of her own person and dress alone, but of all the accessories that surrounded her, to which she seemed to lend grace
and grandeur. Wonderful that quality of the human mind which thus recalls and heightens objects beyond their pristine freshness, as time expands the gulph between.

Select dinners were given at the club, by those who left a certain notice. One of these was to Prince Czartoryski, who made some difficulty at first in joining, fearing it would have a political construction. I was deputed to call upon the heir of the great line of Jagellon, in Holles Street, and succeeded in removing his apprehensions on this point. The prince came attended by the poet Niemcevitz, who shared the dungeon in St. Petersburgh with Kosciusko, a venerable noble old man. Achille Murat, the eldest son of the ex-King of Naples, was of the party. He died not long afterwards. He resembled his mother Caroline Bonaparte, more than his father, being delicate in person rather than robust, and like his father, he did not seem to be endowed with any extraordinary degree of intellectual power.

Viscount Torrington, when Captain Byng, married first into a family, the hospitalities of which I had often shared at Plymouth. We used to speak of that family frequently, and recall things that had passed away many years before. A party was made up of eight or ten, and we had voted Lord Torrington in the chair. He had not been noticed near the club for some little time, but we thought nothing of that, and Captain C—— wrote to Yotes Court in consequence, giving him notice that he was nominated chairman for that day at a select party. To our surprise he wrote me, perhaps the last letter he ever did write, on which account I give it.

Yotes C. May 29.
“My dear Sir,

“Captain C. wrote me to come. down to some dinner and preside. God knows, if able, I should be delighted. Are you aware that I have been confined to my room some weeks, and mostly to my bed. I have gone through two severe operations, and have had a narrow escape for my life. Though now I am getting better, still my wounds are open, and I dare not allow them to heal yet, and I am so weak I can hardly walk across the room. I fear I am doomed not to see London for months, I write from my pillow. I hope you will make this known to our friends—that is I beg you to explain my situation to our friends.

“Most faithfully yours,
C. Redding, Esq.”

Our dinner was scarcely placed on the table before the gallant admiral was no more. He married, for his first wife, Miss Langmead of Plymouth. Her brothers, John and William, resided one in the town, and the other at his seat a few miles off, opulent and much respected. I had partaken repasts at Mr. William Langmead’s, and suppers after the fortnightly balls, visited by the principal people of the town in right hospitable times. It is melancholy to look back on the dead “who while they lived seemed nothing, yet when dead every man speaks of them what they please; and afterwards they are as if they had not been.”

There was Sir Robert Wilson, Meyrick the antiquary, Pierce Mahony, Lawrence of the general post office, Daniel
Maurice O’Connell, Godfrey Higgins, Jabez Henry, Barry O’Meara, Crofton Croker, Captains Glascock, Toker and Oldrey, R.N., Dr. James Johnson, Captain Doran, Samuel Beazley, who have all passed away. Charles Mackenzie, Thomas Holmes, Poole of Paul Pry celebrity, Bach the German Jurisconsult, an excellent friendly hearted man, George Webster, and others of the old circle still survive—but this kind of enumeration is idle work. There was White, too, who died recently, having been for many years secretary for Trinidad. He was a well informed man, and had been appointed consul at one of the Russian ports. He had been intimate with some of the leading Poles in England, and this had been communicated by spies from our side of the water. When White had been at a considerable expense for his outfit and reached his post, he had a spy placed upon him by the government of the Emperor Nicolas, in the person of a Russian nobleman, who became his double everywhere. He was obliged to return home, and the Russian mouchard wanted to get into White’s carriage with him, but the latter thrust him back by force of arm. He told me this himself. He then obtained his appointment at Trinidad. He was a clever, spirited, and considerate public servant.

Some of Campbell’s forgetfulnesses were curious, showing how much he acted on momentary impulse. He wrote to a friend in the summer of 1831. “I am not afraid of civil war now, O’Connell has been put down.” In November, I had been down at St. Leonard’s where the poet was staying, and I told him I had found a fling at the great Irishman in our dramatic article. A fit of sensitiveness came upon him, for I
had not been forty-eight hours back in town before he wrote:

“My dear Redding,

“I pray you to strike out any sentence about O’Connell in our theatrical article. You must not hit my friend Dan. You shall have my poem positively on Friday. I have done ninety lines, and shall have nine more to-morrow. I entreat you to see that the printing is correct, for I fear I can have no proof, though try if it be possible. You will not fail to come on Sunday. I wish you would ask Mr. C—— if I can get a dozen copies of my poems down. Perhaps you would have the kindness to bring them.

“Yours very truly,
T. Campbell.”

Now this was nothing more than the result of O’Connell’s having joined the Literary Union. Meeting the poet, O’Connell won him over by his open manner. All fear of “civil war” was driven off by Dan’s civil manners.

Meeting Maurice O’Connell at dinner two or three weeks before his decease, I put the question to him, revived by the newspapers at that moment, as to whether his father had not in his presence, some years before, told me at his own dinner table, that Mr. Disraeli had made overtures to be admitted to be one of his supporters, it was surmised with a view to get into parliament, and that his father said it was true, but he would not have him. Maurice O’Connell could not recollect the time of his father’s stating it to myself
personally at his own table, but he assured me it was perfectly true. My motive was merely to convince a party of his error, who would not credit the fact that Mr. Disraeli had belonged to every political party.

Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, I did not know in his own country. He was an extraordinary instance of the triumph of natural genius over obstacles. Tens of thousands have had more advantages. What is called so falsely “education,” in other words “reading and writing,” has been dispersed far and wide to the indigent in early youth, yet not one man equal to Hogg has appeared from the classes thus endowed, that were to produce a race according to some, to add to England’s literary renown all over the world! Hogg could scarcely read a letter at twenty years of age, yet at twenty-four he began to compose verses, those of Burns not letting him sleep. There is Clare, that beautiful poet of nature. Education given to the humble or the rich did not make the men, who surmounting all obstacles have become intellectually noted. Yet this was, and is expected by silly people. I speak not against education, for I believe in its utility, but against the vulgar idea of the vulgar minded in every rank of life, that reading and writing is alone wanting to give us a race of great men. Nature keeps their fabrication to herself, and will continue to do so as long as the world lasts. To myself Hogg conveyed the idea of one born in a higher grade of life. That which most betrayed his early position and habits was that his bearing, in any novelty of position, made him show not awkwardness, but apprehension. In London he was bewildered. He would sit and drink
as Scotchmen do when in company within doors, full of confidence and somewhat of conceit, but things were so new and overwhelming to him in the metropolis, out of doors, that he would not venture to cross a street without holding by the arm of another. Even the frail arm of
Murray, the bookseller, was a tower of strength to him, and yet he was a hardy man.

He complained to me that Wilson made a show of him in ‘Blackwood.’ This was coquetry, he did not really dislike it; he was eager for notoriety. I told him that but for Wilson, we Southerns should scarcely have known anything about him.

“Aye, but Wilson is too bad, for he makes me say things I could not dream of uttering.”

Hogg was a much quieter man than Wilson made him out, and was reported to say things he was too well informed to utter. His writings are eminently Scotch, and were not adapted to make a sensation in this country. I confess in all I ever saw of Hogg, which was not much, I was greatly prepossessed in favour of his abilities. While he was in town, it was proposed to give him a dinner on the anniversary of the birth-day of Burns. I was named a steward with Lockhart and several friends. Campbell was nominated also, but he was in the country. On repairing to the Freemason’s Tavern to make preparatory arrangements for a meeting of the stewards to provide the dinner, we found that the whole had been clandestinely done. The tickets were twenty-two shillings. One of the stewards, who went with me, was equally surprized at this intelligence, and we neither of us attended. Sir John Malcolm was in the chair. I had a note of excuse from
Campbell, which, as I did not attend, I sent to the chairman for the purpose of its being read. Sir John declined doing so, saying he was in the hands of the stewards, but what stewards were his instructors we could never learn. I wrote to Sir John, who exonerated himself by a note, explaining the matter as far as he was concerned. Two or three out of the eight or ten stewards nominated, had secretly settled all, binding Sir John to their toasts, not having communicated with any others. Nor was this all, the dinner was paltry—the affair looked like a job—there was not enough food for the guests present, four shillings a head would have amply covered it. I sent an
account of the whole disgraceful affair to the “Athenæum,” which had shrewdly enquired what was the reason myself and others were absent from the lenten affair. It had good ground for the question, but surmise would not prove the facts of a disgraceful character connected with that affair. Hogg was never in London afterwards.