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.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

Just after the Hogg dinner, I was riding over Hampstead Heath with a friend. On the summit of the hill, upon the London side, stands a tree with a seat around it. Upon this seat stood, at that moment, the apostle of the unknown tongues, Irving, the Scotch preacher. He was at that time a lion of the hour. This Scotch Huntingdon made the town crazy by denunciations and prophetic out-pourings. His lank black locks and his style of countenance were enough to make religion seem anything but agreeable. The unknown tongues were the rage then, as table-rapping is now. Irving gave the idea of John Knox. His countenance would have suited an inquisitor, or one of those middle-age gentry, who burned and executed all who would not choose that others should believe for them. Tall, gaunt, and striking, his discourses borrowed much from his personal appearance and vehemence of diction. He had stout Presbyterian notions. What he said, when analized, came to nothing; he had no grasp of mind. A considerable crowd was around him, silent and attentive. We stopped to listen. I almost fancied one of the old scenes of the Scotch covenanters was come back, as his
sooty curls quivered under his polemic thunderings. My friend’s wife and another lady were sitting in a carriage listening most attentively when we came up. His horse, at the moment, chose to recognize his acquaintances in the carriage, just after we arrived, by a most sonorous neigh, drowning the minister’s voice and producing the most ludicrous effect. We instantly rode away, and I never saw any more of this wild seven-day wonder afterwards. The Caledonian attitudinising prophet soon went out of fashion with the fickle public, the novelty being over. Anything will go down that perplexes. Take as of yore, the proof of the Spanish priest, who declared in demonstration that the Virgin Mary was pregnant twenty months—“Hic mensus sextus est illi.” Where there are six, there must be five; six and five are eleven; where there are eleven, there must be nine; now eleven and nine are twenty. Religion is only acceptable where it is mysterious and unintelligible. His printed matter was miserable, irrational stuff. The spirits that effect good among mankind, it appears to me, must be more ethereally touched—more mentally expanded. A man like Irving was never wrong, as he would have it. Such a divine carries infallibility with him. “You have given me a wrong name, for the prayers for the sick, it is James,” said the parson to his clerk; “I’m certain I’m right, Sir; is it not the wrong person that is sick? That’s not my fault.” Such was the logic of Irving. It belonged to the certain ages, when logicians ranked so high in syllogism. “Chicken broth is a true substance, but chicken broth is immediately operative, therefore substance is immediately operative.”


Sir James Mackintosh died before Campbell and myself quitted the ‘Metropolitan,’ just at this time. He shone best, I thought, in expounding certain principles of morals or politics. He was eloquent, logical, and his stores of information great; but I doubt whether anything he did equalled his capabilities. His conversation was striking. His ‘Vindicæ Gallicæ’ remains his best work. He exhibited nothing original. As a scholar, Dr. Parr doubted, whether Jamie was up to a verb in μι. He never got well over the tergiversation he showed when Burke became the tempter of his political integrity. He was a complete master of the products of other thinkers, and applied those admirably to his own purposes. Campbell put together a Memoir of Sir James for the ‘Metropolitan;’ but in it, he skipped Sir James’s tergiversation. It was neither a lucid nor satisfactory article. Mackintosh’s relics rest under the shade of a large yew, in Hampstead church-yard, where ever terminate those wanderings of metaphysicians, in regard to which the longest existences had found themselves as distant as ever from a conclusion.

Thomas Barnes, of the “Times” paper, used to be one of our club; but his visits were scarce from his avocations. I first knew him when he wrote political characters for “The Examiner,” then in the hands of Mr. J. Hunt. He was nominated on the committee of the “Literary Union.” He pleaded inability to attend his duty but rarely, from the pressure of his calling. “I beg,” he wrote me, “in any case to express my sincere thanks for the very handsome offer you have communicated. I wish I was as conscious of deserving it, as I am of appreciating its worth.” There was my old friend,
too, James Murray, of the “Times,” who was more active than Barnes. We contrived to dine together once or twice a week; but his hurry to his duties at night was always a drawback. A noted writer in the “Times “in those days, was
Captain Stirling. I do not recollect where I first knew him, nor who introduced me. He did not belong to our society. I was indebted to his son for an introduction to Mrs. Austen, who translated many foreign articles for us.

Mr. Fearn, who had some novel ideas respecting the reception of objects in the censorium through the eye, and about an investigation of its figure, came to me to explain his views, which he deemed of moment to science; and I made an acquaintance, which lasted till his death. The Royal Society of London thought them worthy of notice, as did Sir Anthony Carlisle. I could not well comprehend all his views; but he appeared an ingenious, scientific man. Sir D. Brewster slighted the idea, because, perhaps, it did not emanate from the “modern Athens,” where only as some philosophers think, all science in these islands must have originated. Something like rational reputation and courtesy were due to an ingenious man elsewhere, if in convincing him, or the world, that he was mistaken. I had a great esteem for Mr. Fearn.

Perhaps the following epistle from the renowned scribe of the “masses,” as it is the custom to call them, is not the most unamusing of epistles. The language of the streets and alleys had not then been so much blended with the more popular literature of the day, as it is at present, or Pierce Egan would have ranked higher. The Cicero of the masses, I presume self-educated,
was at that time, the laureate of the dissipated vulgar of the town, as well as their dramatic scribe. He had heard of the “
Metropolitan “being about to appear, and he wrote:

April 12.

“It being a matter of business, I trust that no apology will be deemed necessary for what might otherwise be termed an abrupt introduction of myself to your notice; at the same time I am anxious to escape any thing like the censure of rudeness on my part; but, in consequence of your advertisement respecting the publication of a new Magazine on the 2nd of May, I have taken the liberty of offering my humble services as a contributor towards its novelty.

“The title, Sir, permit me to observe, is good, which is half the battle won; but, nevertheless, the ‘Metropolitan’ will have his work to do in this age, or rather, ‘march of intellect;’ and high, thorough-bred cattle will be wanted on the prolific road of literature to get over the ground with celebrity, amidst a host of competitors and ill-natured and persecuting oppositions to the end of the chapter. Yet, under the guidance of a skilful charioteer, who can mount the box like a whip of the first quality, and use the lash with judgment, who can also handle the ribbons well, keep the literary tits to their work, make them all pull together, and always be on the right side of the road, afraid of nothing on the turf or turnpike, but giving the ‘go-by’ like nothing else but a good one, upsets in a great measure will be prevented—the journey not only rendered complete
and certain, but amusing, valuable, and attractive into the bargain; and, as the immortal
Shakspeare has it, ‘think of that Master Brooke,’ giving a character to the ‘Metropolitan’ for always booking well both inside and outside passengers—a consummation devoutly to be wished.

“The ‘Metropolitan’ will have a fine and fertile field for his feather; and now and then the graver might be employed on rich ideas, giving to ‘airy nothings a local habitation and a name,’ with great effect—to catch the manners as they rise, morning, noon, and night! But, Sir, ‘be not classical over-much!’ Let the quill of the ‘Metropolitan’ be exercised to please all classes of society—the lower—the ‘middling,’ if you like the term better—as well as the upper stories of the domus—i.e., let no article be ‘caviare’ to the million! Common sense against the field. Be at all, aye, all times hand and glove with Sterne as to sentiment; also as inquisitive upon all subjects as ‘Paul Pry,’ to hold the mirror up to life and nature; but, believe, Mr. ‘Metropolitan,’ of the ghosts of Tom and Jerry; thanks to the new police, they have been laid for some time past; watching and larking are likewise at an end; and the ‘peep-o’-day boys’ have long since gone to roost!

“Of all things, Sir, (but, if I dare not take the liberty to advise, I only mean to hint) let not the ‘Metropolitan’ frighten his readers with ponderous Greek quotations (both Porson and Dr. Parr having retired to the tombs of their ancestors); neither let him put the blush upon them with numerous Latin sentences; and, likewise, teach him to steer clear of interlarding his paragraphs with French words. But, if it
must be so—if it should seem good that the ‘Metropolitan’ is anxious to show the finished scholar—let him also write with it the good-natured gentleman, by being communicative with his patrons, giving them a free translation of all the learned passages he may think proper to quote; and not leave them in the dark to mourn over their ignorance and their neglect of education.

“I flatter myself, Sir, that your good sense, kindness, and ‘encouragement to literature,’ will pardon the above ideas hastily put together; but my intercourse with the world for the last twenty years, and also with the press, has taught me to know that a man may be the refined, stately critic in his closet, and as erudite in his language as a Johnson, or a Horne Tooke, over his pen and ink; but in his intercourse with those creatures who ‘strut and fret’ their hours in the public walks of society, respecting a knowledge of men and manners, I have too often found them as ‘flat as a pan-cake’ as to description, or little better than a mere learned idiot. However, I trust I shall see the ‘Metropolitan’ prove himself entitled to the character of a well-bred gentleman, conversant upon all subjects that can elevate him in the minds of all classes of readers.

“Being tolerably well acquainted with metropolitan scenes and public characters, I feel quite satisfied a variety of subjects might be ‘hit off’ to please and interest the public in general. Mistake me not, Sir, I do not mean in the ‘slang’ style; no, no: there are actors to be found who can throw off the character by the dress; or, as the late facetious Peter Pindar has well observed:
A picture that is called light!
Psha! monstrous—a perfect fright!
No—let some darkness be display’d
And learn to balance well with shade!
I repeat that some amusing articles might be produced under the signatures of the ‘Exile in the Metropolis,’ ‘Strolls after Dark,’ ‘A Peep-o’-Day Boy,’ or ‘Paul Pry’s Adventures,’ &c. &c. But I will be candid, Sir, to save time; it would not suit my purpose to send articles upon chance. I flatter myself my experience and success with John Bull and his numerous family, places me far above that situation.

“But, Sir, if you should entertain a second thought on what I have hastily written to you, as to an engagement for eight, twelve, or sixteen pages, monthly, more or less, a line addressed as under will meet with due attention; but, whether or not, I wish the ‘Metropolitan’ may become a fixed star in the literary hemisphere; and its brilliancy of talent, and excellence of taste, be acknowledged to remain as such by the greatest of all patrons—the patronage of the public. I have the honor to remain,

“Your humble servant,
Pierce Egan.”

The news of Sir Walter Scott’s death came painfully upon my ear. It was nine years since I had seen him. He had gone through town to Scotland, and the result was not unexpected. I had very scanty knowledge of him. He was in London, I think, but twice after my return from the continent. There was nothing about him to strike a stranger at first; and he spoke
somewhat in the English northern dialect, rather than the Scotch. His features were eminently Scotch, and common-place, except his forehead, which was high. On the whole, they left little impression of intellectual power. Compared with
Canning or Roscoe, his presence was greatly to his disadvantage. He left in the well-built upper part of his person much of the impress of weight and thought, while his slight lameness made his lower limbs appear proportionably feeble. He had not what in England would be called the air of a gentleman, but much that characterised the natives of his own land. His physiognomy, as a whole, bore no mark of the powerful intellect he possessed; his eyes, grey and small, were covered by bushy brows; his hair grey. He was tall—much above the middle height—I should say six feet, or within an inch of it. His countenance greatly improved in expression when he spoke; but his aspect in general appeared to be grave and thoughtful. His manners were wholly unaffected.

Called a poet by many, his fame rests upon his prose works, and mainly upon his fictions—not that his tales in verse are not delightful. He loved verse, and began his career with it; but poetry is something more than story-telling, however spirited the recital of an event may be. It must be pervaded by a peculiar emanation from the heart—nature’s own sparing endowment. It is not a confluence of rhyme, which so many imagine to be poetry, which will endure. Scott, in his works of fiction, displayed wonderful skill and resources; while no one understood better how to turn the public to a thrifty advantage. He knew the value of his mystery after he published “Waverley,” and made an excellent
use of it. The world regards its own momentary gratification alone. It will elevate or depress its idols with the same indifference. It ever keeps to the mode. It is organized without a heart, and, therefore, for a writer to feel gratitude to the world is a needless matter. The glory of “Waverley” made way for the other works, well worthy of their author; and a few that were the reverse. “Waverley” afforded delight to thousands while its author lived, and will delight the unborn millions in their turn, who will not peruse his works because they came out as a mystery, but from their instinctive merit and the pleasure they impart. Scott’s prodigious memory and long study of antiquities were great aids. When the story was historical, the names of his heroes, and the bearing of the whole work were familiar, that is, he had not to invent them; much wear and tear of mind this way were spared. Then he had at hand the traditions of his countrymen in relation to barbarous scenes and times, poor among the poorest as they were, some only freebooters. He embellished all. He clothed the semi-barbarous robber in purple, and made heroes of miserable banditti, and even tinselled with ancestral renown the highwayman and cattle-stealer. His exaggerations in this respect were grateful to his countrymen. He raised Scotch pride, not on the ground of the acknowledged industry, economy, and improved condition of their country, so visible in these advanced times, but he made it great by misrepresentation, of which no one knew the fallacy better than himself. He thus tickled the pride of the Scotchman, not with what was his due alone, but with the reflection that he was descended from border rogues, magnified into heroes,
whose originals, perhaps, died on a gibbet upon British ground for their exploits, or became the merited victims of justice in the metropolis of their own land. Though Scott’s prejudices ran counter to advancing civilization and to freedom—though he barbacued Covenanters with a zeal becoming
Laud of high church renown, under the Stuarts, whom he revered—and though he extolled the meanest agents of the lowest despotisms, while the name of Argyle was politically repulsive to him—he painted his scenes so well, so freshly, with so much of nature’s truth, so much above all rivalry, that he commanded and merited the admiration he received, even from those conscious of his misrepresentations. He covered the hollow and unsubstantial with gold; he invested the deformed and barbarous in light so dazzling, that they were unobserved; he clothed with beauty scenes of the most ordinary character, and polished the ruffian lord of feudal days with the manners that grace, and the courage which elevates only the refined. He magnified and exalted all. He never revelled in the degrading scenes of vicious and low life, travelling downwards, to render them objects of vulgar admiration. How many proselytes he added to Jacobite notions none can tell; but, if not many, now the Stuart race is gone by for ever, he wonderfully strengthened the patience of those yet within its pale by confirming their political faith. Nor is it impossible that his works have aided those who are now exalting the barbarian glories of the middle ages in creed and the arts. The works of so potent an enchanter operate long and in many directions.

The death of this great writer came upon the world like
an electric shock. His name had been so long on every tongue, he had touched the chords of every human feeling so often, that it seemed as if a fibre of the heart had snapped asunder.

How singular that so powerful a mind should have possessed so little philosophy. Speaking of him and his love of ancestral honours, Wilson told me “they were a passion with Scott.” His desire to be the “founder of a family was unconquerable.” He had again and again been astonished at Scott’s weakness in this respect—it was beyond credibility—it was “an infatuation he, Wilson, could not comprehend.”

Where is that infatuation—that ambition—now?—the object of the long toils and the resolute labour of his hard-earned acres? His progeny gone a few years after his own death! Verily, “the spirits of the good do sit in the clouds” and mock man and his monuments, and man will not look up at them and take the lesson of his own nothingness.

I lodged at Hampstead at this time; not far off lived Dr. Evans, who had a fine educational establishment there in the house occupied by Lord North, during the American war; he afterwards, I believe, went to Australia. Campbell, who had spent a day with me and remained over night, disappeared suddenly in the morning. He had agreed to examine the boys in Greek. Thinking he had gone over to Evans to breakfast, I crossed the Heath; but the poet was not there. The time for the exhibition drew near. A considerable company had assembled on the lawn, which is retired. Lord North boasted to some of his friends one day, that he was as secluded there as if he were twenty miles from
town, asserting that there was nothing to break the illusion, when, at the same moment, a Jew with the well-known grunt of “clo’, clo’” passed, and turned the laugh against him. There was a summer house in the garden, where the coachman cut the throat of the cook, for which he was hung on the branches of an old elm, still standing without the garden, by the road-side. Awnings and tables had been placed on the ground, under the trees, the day being fine. I was strolling among the flower-beds and talking, while expressing my wonder what had become of Campbell, when I heard his voice, “
Redding, I want you.” Turning round, I saw him with a lady on his arm, and a strange gentleman. It was the Countess Guiccioli and her brother, Count Gamba. He had began to recollect that he had a duty to perform to our host; and he, therefore, handed over the lady to my care. She soon complained of the chillness of the atmosphere. I proposed going into the house, which we did, taking possession of a parlour which overlooked the lawn, where we remained until the examinations were over.

When the company adjourned to partake of a collation, we joined the rest, and I marked curious glances cast upon the Countess by the ladies present. It was highly amusing. No one but Campbell would have thought of introducing the lady where the company young and old was so heterogeneous. He had promised in his customary impulsive way to take her to the school exhibition, never for a moment imagining that some strait-laced people might look curiously at the lady, and that daughters might put curious questions to mammas about the stranger. She, too, had visited Lady Bless-
ington, where no English lady could go who had the slightest regard for her own reputation. The Countess was unconscious of all this, and she might have ascribed the too curious stare of some present, simply to curiosity.

The Guiccioli was then in full womanhood, about twenty-eight years old; she might have been a year older; but she looked about that age. She was a blonde, with pleasing features and golden hair. She seemed to be sedate, rather than animated, in disposition. Her face was too full to be called handsome, in an artistic view. She was about the middle height of woman, thickly made, not at all what would be called “fat,” but stout. She spoke English like a native; appeared conversant with our authors, and as well acquainted with the prominent topics of the passing hour, as if she had been an Englishwoman. In fact, she owned to reading the newspaper every day, and that attentively. She might well have been taken for a provincial native of England. She was, certainly, a superior woman in general acquirements, to the majority of her sex. Byron had, no doubt, taken great pains in teaching her his native tongue, and instructing her in the character of our best known writers, at least sufficiently so to enable her to speak of her acquaintance with them. No one broke in upon us for the best part of two hours, and the Countess showed no loss of conversational topics, speaking correctly and deliberately. In fact, I was agreeably disappointed in my pre-conceived idea of her manners and person. The former were those of a lady who had been accustomed to society, in the enlarged sense, polished and easy. In Count Gamba, I found a plain, well-behaved foreign gentleman, and no more.


Campbell never told me that the Countess was in London: and, when he made the appointment with the lady, he had come out to Hampstead, wholly forgetting it, until he rose in the morning; he then hastened back to town to fetch her.

The “Metropolitan” was now resigned to Captain Marryat, who had purchased it. The Captain imagined he could compass everything with it, full of the idea that a good novel-writer must be an accomplished man for such a purpose. He had a great deal of that ambition which Sidney Smith ascribed to Lord John Russell, when he said that Lord John Russell would take the command of the Channel fleet, if it were offered to him. He had, it is true, seen much of the world, knew a little of a good many things, and was versatile. The characters in his writings were excellent, though his works had no plot. We had some hard words about certain remarks of mine on a translation of Juvenal, of which he affected to be a judge, but of which he knew really no more than of Timbuctoo. He was of an overbearing, selfish temper, unjust where his ambition or interest interfered, and did not always go to work straightforward. I once promised to visit him at Langham. I did not go down, for there was ever to me something distasteful about him; it was impossible to be cordial.

London Bridge was constructing at this time. The local manager of the works for Mr. Rennie was named Knight, a clever, diligent young man, cut off by fever just after he had completed his labours. I descended into the coffer-dams, forty feet below the level of the river, into its very bed, where many antiquities were found.
The foundation is laid substantial enough to last thousands of years. The water pressure on the dams at high tide was immense. It is the best built of all the bridges. How little the public conceive of the principles and details of such scientific labours. The masses are soon to be brought to contemplate and comprehend everything, according to some dreamy people. This is contrary to nature and to experience. The depths of science to the end of time can only be fathomed by a scanty few. New railroads, more rapid than the present, electric telegraphs still more convenient, will only be understood by the masses as now in their universal language: “what per cent will they return?” With the multitude, God will ever temper the comprehension to the circumstances. I became an adept in pile-driving and coffer-dam making, in balancing arches, and striking curves, at least, theoretically. “We are going to place some of the largest granite stones, ever lifted so high in modern times, at each end of the bridge, to show the public how engineers can play with such heavy masses.” “The public will not notice them, Mr. Knight,” I replied; “of the hundred thousand that will pass the bridge every day, not more than a dozen will remark them at all. The surrounding objects are, also, upon a large comparative scale. A line-of-battle-ship looks small on the ocean. They will look at the vessels on the river, or upon the ground, thinking of the price of stocks, whether tallow is plenty, cotton up, or ‘rice riz,’ as
Horace Smith has it.”

“Why then I will pay a couple of men to stand and look at them, and the people will look too.”

“Yes, Knight, they will stand and look too, and
seeing nothing unusual, go on again—it is the way of the multitude. Thousands never saw the solitary tree that stood in St. Paul’s churchyard.”

“We must not be put out of conceit—we hope to surprize the public—it is likely enough, perhaps, to be as you say.”

Poor fellow, called off from his duties, zealously and efficiently performed, when about satisfactorily to repay his toils. “You will be surprised to learn that the last key stone of the last arch will be closed on the nineteenth instant, by the new Lord Mayor, Alderman Thompson, on which occasion there will be a little ceremony.” Such was his last note to me with an invitation. I feel proud to recal a name otherwise forgotten, of a practical son of science, who was the active superintendent of that noble erection.

A friend who differed from myself in politics, finding I was idle, asked me to assist him in organizing a daily evening paper, with the ultimate view of his being the editor. My task lasted but a few weeks, and he edited it, I cannot say for how long a period, before it changed hands. One morning my friend came to me and said:

“There is to be an outbreak of the working classes to-night all over London. Government has received certain intelligence of it. The guards have ball cartridge served out, and are kept in the barracks ready to be called upon.”

“Nonsense,” I replied, “London will never rest quieter than it will to-night. Some story of that long eared Alderman Atkins again, I suppose.” This sapient person had once alarmed the ministry with the account of a plot to burn London.


“It is no joke,” he replied, “I am come from the Home Office. Peel was there; he and all are full of it. You must not let what I tell you transpire.”

“Certainly not—but I will lay down my life the tale is false.”

“How can you assert that?”

“My dear fellow, I am just come out of a large printer’s office where I went to rectify a mistake in a proof which I recollected I had forgotten when I sent it back. That office is full of men, silent and busy. Now printers are reported to be among the most active on all tumultuous occasions. If such a rising were contemplated, there would not be half the complement of men at work. Printers are paid at bookwork by the quantity they complete, and if they absent themselves from their labour, it is at their own cost. A restlessness would be visible among those who chanced to be at work. Conspirators are always feverish just before the moment of action. The printer’s work requires quite sufficient attention to prevent the mind from wandering, and if bent on mischief to-day, as a body, it is impossible they could be in a state of tranquillity, such as I have witnessed.”

“There may be something in that, it is true—I confess I doubted the news, but the facts are as I have stated. I wish I could discover the truth.”

On this I returned to the city, having an excuse for calling at two other establishments, I found nothing but business going forward, and not the slightest symptoms of what I was certain would show itself, if any mischief were contemplated. The Home Office had been hoaxed,
and the workmen calumniated. I went back to my friend and told him he might go and say to
Sir Robert Peel that I would wager my life against such an outbreak, and state my reasons. He did so; nothing occurred. The want of moral courage in the ministers, the lack of a proper mode of ascertaining facts, and trusting to every fool’s tale astonished me. Sir Robert Peel was too honourable to imitate the spy system of Lords Sidmouth and Castlereagh, and he was in consequence without any criterion for forming a correct judgment on the occasion. Yet he had better means of forming a judgment, even upon my plan of a ministry, of seeing for themselves. The public never became aware of this incident.

When the Whigs came into office, an ex-chancellor, now alive, accepted the chief baronship of Lord Brougham, who succeeded him. With the predetermined resolution to accept, he waited upon the Duke of Wellington to ask if he would advise with him whether he might consistently accept the offer. The duke, who saw through the affair in a moment, replied, some said to the noble lord personally, but others said afterwards, to one of his friends, “His” or “your lordship’s is the only political character in England that can afford to do such a thing.”*

A moment of idleness occurred, I was jaded with work, and went off into North Wales. I wished to form

* There was circulated at this time among the “wits,” a parody upon one of Moore’s Songs at which the Duke of Wellington chuckled immoderately—it would be cruel to repeat it here, for it was gall upon the ex-chancellor.

an idea of the mountain scenery there, and forget town for a moment. I travelled by Shrewsbury to Llangollen and Corwen, Bala, and Dolgelly. I scaled Cader Idris twice, once alone without a guide, directly up from Dolgelly, until arrested by the precipices near the summit. These I followed along the base, and reached a number of basaltic columns, passing what appeared a volcanic crater. After long toil, I attained the summit, where I found Pugh the guide, who would hardly credit what I had done. He told me no ascent had been made that way before. That the distances were very deceptive, and that a gentleman who had gone out by himself had been a night and two days there, and was nearly lost. I imagine he was one not accustomed to such scenes. I had a compass in my pocket by which I took all the bearings from where I set out. This would have been Greek to Pugh. The next day but one, a very esteemed friend and two ladies joined me at Dolgelly, and I ascended the mountain again with them. The view from the summit was exceedingly fine, over crag and purple-heathed mountain, with a noble expanse of sea. The day after I left my friends, I rose at 4 a.m., posted to Beddgelert through the pass of Aberglasslyn, twenty-seven miles. I then took a guide for Snowden, and walked between three and four miles to the foot of the mountain, ascended to the summit, three miles more, mounting among crags and frightful precipices, the “nightcap” off, (so they call the clouds in which the summit is generally concealed) this was fortunate. The scene was transcendently fine. The Wicklow mountains in Ireland were distinctly visible, and the Isle of Man, Anglesey, a map under the feet,
with its blue stripe of the Menai and the sea beyond. Snowden is a sublime mass of upheaved crags, as if shattered by earthquakes into its present form, and here and there are seen, surrounded by precipices, blue tarns, the mouths, thousands of ages ago, of so many active little volcanoes. The staff or pole placed by the engineers for the ordnance map, remained on the summit connecting the angles with Ireland. I descended rapidly, and returned to Beddgelert again on foot, by the same route I had gone over in the morning. I took a one horse car directly on my arrival, and reached the Anglesey Hotel, Caernarvon, a little after eight in the evening. There on the edge of the sea, though the weather was temperate, I felt exceedingly warm after the air of the mountain. I did not eat an ounce, though I had tasted nothing for so many hours. I slept little from the sensation of heat, but was able to get up at six the next day and explore the castle. The octagon room is really noble, but what a mere closet is the birth-place of
Edward II.! The statue of Edward I. after the storms of six hundred years, though it has lost its features, carries still about it a species of majesty, perhaps more from association with the past than the present reality. I returned to town by Bangor, viewing the Menai bridge in my way.

The Welsh are a primitive, hospitable, ignorant people. Very fine things are to be seen in the principality, but, as Peter Pindar said of the Hoe at Plymouth, the “comeatability” of the place destroys its beauty. It is too near home. I have found scenes in Wales, Cumberland, Derby, and the south-west of England, though not really in magnitude equal to those
I have seen abroad, yet the last standing mountains among mountains or rising from elevated vallies, and not being seen from the base to the summit, differ but little in appearance, especially as mountain lands deceive the eyes so much in regard to distance.
Professor Wilson once asked me, “Did you ever see anything so beautiful as a Welsh valley? We have higher mountains in Scotland, fine scenery about the more beautiful English lakes, though the mountains are not quite as high as in Wales, but neither the north of England nor Scotland, no nor all Switzerland, can exhibit anything so tranquil, romantic, snug and beautiful as a Welsh valley. There is nothing like it I fully believe in the world.” Wilson agreed with me, that of these, Dolgelly was one of the sweetest.

On returning to town, and speaking of the foregoing scenery to one of the school of Charles Lamb, his indifference to nature recalled that of his master. The map of Lamb’s world, and that of his followers, extended from Hampstead to Camberwell, and from Brentford to Bow. They had heard, it was true, of other countries beyond those limits, which were the sojourn of the Troglodites whose heads grow beneath their shoulders, for all they knew or cared about them. Porter was their nectar; the tavern board or the book-cleared table in chambers, the fresh lobster, and the toasted cheese at supper, a little discourse on their own theories, amid the incense of the Indian weed, and they were in their element. Lamb had not seen the “wide” world. He cherished his circumscription, and he was right if he liked it best. He was a kind relative, a good but peculiar man. Like kings fond of low company, he had
no sympathetic rejoicings with wild wanderers. He was an original, radically of the city in his habits as well as literature. The Thames was his lake, not Balan or Derwentwater; the oozy beds of the coal lighters on the fragrant borders of their opaque waters bathed his spirit. He loved the place of his nativity, and the streets and dwellings that he had known so long. The dinginess of Fleet Street and the Temple was his precious verde antique. All this was natural, nor am I aware that he ever upbraided or envied those who expatiated more at large. His ‘sect’ died with him.

I found Campbell busy on the “Life of Mrs. Siddons” when I came back from Wales. His materials were scanty. It was the last year I saw the traces of the man as I knew him at first, not greatly altered—but altered he was in some degree. He had been changing from the time he left his residence in Upper Seymour Street. He had no companion at home, and going out into company, became more and more uncomfortable, appearing still desirous to brave all, and be as usual. Once or twice he said to me, “Why can’t we be as we once were—why should things pass away so rapidly, and for ever?”

In faith he was unsettled, I have known few more so. I took leave of him and went down to Lancing with my papers. There I put together my “Book on Wines,” the result of much labour. While there, too, I witnessed the effect of agrarian revenge, in outrages committed at that time too frequently. Five noble stacks of corn and hay were blazing together. The salt in the hay gave the glowing fire a singular appearance in a deep blue colour. The whole occurred
not a stone-throw from where I lodged. The portion of the summer I passed there in my laborious tranquillity, I look back upon with regretful recollections.

On my return to town, I found Campbell had only got through one volume of his labour. He had great difficulty in obtaining materials for his second, which proceeded slowly. We often met at dinner. I had got the start of him. My book was out and was exceedingly well received, considering its heavy price. A second edition followed. Then a third of five thousand copies, spiritedly got up by Mr. Bohn in a reduced size with additions. About the same time I brought up to a late date an edition of “Russell’s History of Modern Europe.”

Professor Wilson being in town, he dined with me. Campbell was to meet him. We waited some time for the poet who did not appear. I had a fear, from having been a little unwell, that the renowned Christopher might tempt me to take more wine than I ought to do, under the circumstances. Edinburgh in those days scorned thin potations. I knew when “the steam was up,” I should not be able to calculate odds, and that Wilson and myself being only two in number were not likely to part without the chance of a head-ache, for one of us at least. My indisposition seemed to vanish as we proceeded. Wilson took port with his dinner, a custom peculiar to himself. I took white wine, and but little. Still fearing Wilson’s fame with the whiskey people of the north, among whom he once told me he could manage a bottle at a sitting, and had seen a Highlander take two, I thought I would not take more wine, but have some rum punch made without
brandy, of which I was least afraid, calculating that Wilson would not touch that, and keep to wine. We should not then pass the bottle regularly. I was deceived. Wilson tasted my beverage, and thought it excellent. He joined me at once, and then I thought of the “whistle” of
Burns. “Well, I will not mind it; I scarcely feel my indisposition, I must go on as if I had not been unwell at all,” I said to myself. The “Noctes Ambrosianæ” had alarmed me. The Edinburgh Symposia in Blackwood’s pages were formidable things. Even Sir Walter himself only took wine in the way of an amuzette, rather to cool than stimulate a stomach accustomed to corn alcohol of fifty-four degrees proof.

“There is excellent whiskey at hand—I never take it,” I observed.

“That’s all well in Edinburgh, I shall take your beverage here.”

Wilson became as lively and entertaining as the very Noctes themselves. He filled his glass from the bowl, and kept me at the same pace. I felt my courage rise, as a sailor once told me his did in action, for there was no back-door to run out at. There was no one to “divert the fire” as military men say. I must fill glass and glass—so be it. I still felt coming across my mind to scare me, the words Christopher put into Hogg’s mouth, “Gie me the real Glenlivet—such as Awmrose aye has in the hoose, and I weel believe that I could make drinkable toddy out o’ sea water. The human mind never tires of Glenlivet, any mair than of caller air. If a body could just find out the exact proper porportion o’ quantity that ought to be drank every day,
an keep to that, I verily trow that he might leeve for ever, without dying at a’, and that doctors and kirkyards would go out o’ fashion.”

Aye, “that exact proper proportion.” The “Right and wrong Club” of the shepherd to wit; where the stalwart Edinburghians drank themselves into fevers!

“This is good,” said Wilson, “and not very strong—how smooth it drinks.”

“Do you wish a little more spirit added?” I queried most insincerely.

“O, no, it is excellent.”

He became yet more pleasant but desultory—when was he otherwise? As usual there was a wild earnestness about him that I don’t recollect ever seeing about any other man. He never set about a thing with only half a heart. His copious conversation never missed being amusing, and in his whims that way he was no respecter of persons or things. Sometimes when you imagined he was going into the depth of the argument, he flew away from it or stifled it in a jest. He surprised me by a request, which from some of the less noted literary heroes of the north, I should not have been surprised to receive. I regret to say that I have too often found it a besetting sin of Scotchmen that they express sentiments to the public, both in speaking and writing to which their real opinions are diametrically opposed. Campbell, in his better days, scorned this line of conduct; but, I fear, showed some instances of it in the later years of his life, though in trivial things. Wilson was a great sinner in this respect. I believe he was in his heart a thorough going liberal, yet
his sentiments in “
Blackwood” are well known. On this occasion he pulled from his pocket a little volume of poems inscribed to Lord Brougham, called “The Village Curate.”

“What do you want me to do with this?”

“It is an excellent little thing just make a mention of it for me in some work with which you are connected. It deserves a good notice. It is excellent, you will think so. It touches times.”

“With all my heart; but why do you not give it a lift in ‘Blackwood?’”

“No, that will hardly do—I dare not; read it, you will see why.”

“But you are all powerful there.”

“It would not suit their politics—‘Blackwood’ would fall into hysterics.”

I did what he wished, and keep the book in his remembrance, for though I heard from him, I never saw him afterwards.

Campbell just then made his appearance. We were filling our glasses from the last drop of the bowl. The poet made an excuse about detention, and I ordered the bowl to be replenished, thinking Campbell would join us; but he would have brandy and water, Wilson trying to persuade him the punch was nectar. Wilson and myself, therefore, had the second bowl to ourselves. He declared it excellent, while my courage on the strength of the first braved all apprehension about the second. It is the most unlucky thing that men in advancing towards ebriety imbibe fresh confidence, while the wanderer near the verge of the precipice,
draws back in place of walking over.
Wolcot well says of punch, it—
Smiles in his face as though it meant him bliss,
Then like an alligator drags him in.

Wilson now became more entertaining as Campbell, talking of the Poles, became more vituperative of Nicolas of Russia. Wilson, in badinage, took the emperor’s part, and ran on at a great rate. Campbell, who was in earnest, seemed vexed at Wilson’s playing upon the Poles, in his accustomed fashion. The former declared that the Polish children had been moved to the distant military colonies of Russia, torn away from their families to stock the new establishments, to be heard of by their friends no more. That the ties of nature were nothing in the sight of the Russian despot.

“My dear Campbell,” said Wilson, “depend upon it all that is an error. The Slavonic is a very difficult language. Mistranslation of the newspapers, no doubt—all a blunder. Some cockney translator who was half drunk when he turned the account into English. It is my firm belief that in place of young Poles, we should read young, pigs.”

“It is no jest,” returned the poet of Hope, “only fancy such an atrocity taking place here. What I have stated is a fact. I heard it just now at the Polish Committee.”

“All partizans of the Poles there you know. They were not children but young pigs. The Slavonic may be translated either pigs or children, both are young,
a little carelessness, I dare say. Translations from these out of the way languages are often erroneous.”

“There is no error: those Russians are terrible barbarians.”

“It is all a mistranslation, depend upon it.”

Campbell was silent not seeming to admit a jest in the affair. He would not laugh at what he thought a serious thing, nor take open offence at Wilson’s jesting with him. He did not feel much at ease, sipping his brandy and water awkwardly, and appearing as if he wished himself away; while Wilson, whom the punch seemed to have excited, every now and then reverted to Poland in a jocular manner. Campbell did hot repeat his glass, but rose and wished us good-night. The renowned Christopher and myself were now far in our second bowl. I did not feel myself at all affected, while Wilson less accustomed, perhaps, to that beverage than one manufactured with whiskey, was evidently exhilarated. I find that sometimes neither wine nor spirits will exhilarate me, and only a severe headache has been the consequence of exceeding but a moderate allowance, while at another time a very little, comparatively, will easily affect me. We were drawing near the bottom of the second bowl, chatting on all sorts of subjects, when a mutual friend made his appearance. On this I proposed coffee, ordering it at once. Soon afterwards we parted. Mr. W——, who had just come in, agreeing to walk with Wilson to the Union Hotel. The latter was evidently much exhilarated. I was bold, and insisted on a stirrup-glass at parting.

Nothing will convince me that the Professor of Moral
Hogg, Lockhart, and with Scott himself, were not sufferers from the mode in which they lived. Company and good fellowship, whisky toddy night after night, could not but affect men of studious pursuits in the end. Hogg confessed having drunk himself this way into a fever, though he had been bred in a hardy manner. The Scotch drink harder than the English or Irish. In England I have observed sturdy Scotchmen fall into an atrophy in a manner unaccountable, who were never observed to be inebriated. The truth was, that day after day they touched the verge of inebriety with their potent corn-spirit, and thus descended to the grave with that apparent sobriety which people quote to characterize their morality. A few years ago the spirit consumption of all kinds was for Scotland, more than that for England or Ireland per head. Hardy as Hogg had been bred, he died at sixty-three, Scott at sixty-one, Wilson at sixty-eight, the latter a long while before his departure, greatly changed in appearance. Scott’s death may have been hastened by his labours it is true, but both he and Wilson were men of much corporal strength.

Wilson’s cheerful constitution and spirit, boisterous, overflowing at times to wildness, and leaping all bounds, are depicted in the very style and lack-principle of the “Noctes.” He would say and publish things regarding his best friends which were personal and annoying. They would write and remonstrate, often out of temper, and he would laugh at them, and explain it away in his peculiar mode. As to offending him by retorting it was impossible. He would have his sport though it were horse-play to others. 1 heard of many doings in
Edinburgh, where Englishmen fancy all is morality and decorum, because the exterior is well kept, which would startle the Southrons.
Campbell who would let no one abuse the Scotch Athens, but himself, used to confess the care with which all sorts of sins there were kept out of sight of the world, and “was it not right it should be so!”

“Yes,” I would reply, “did it not raise a false opinion of your virtues; let us have the truth where we can.”

Thomas Pringle had a stock of narratives of the doings of the Edinburgh folks, which he would sometimes relate, unconsciously showing how far profession and practice were apart in the capital of the Land o’ Cakes, which would fain be deemed that of transcendental propriety. I remember one scene he described where Wilson, Lockhart, and a number of wild men were met, and something being said about christening, Wilson proposed to christen a cat instanter, and went through the entire ceremony, as I presume in the Scotch mode, with a spirit of parody of the most comic kind, nothing being too extravagant, or too whimsical for him to undertake. Attractive you scarcely knew why, rich in knowledge, derived from the world as well as books, diffuse, inaccurate, by throwing his whole soul into his outpourings, his conversation became irresistably captivating. He toyed with his pen rather than wrote in seriousness, so that at times it seemed doubtful whether he was in earnest about anything, until what he wrote was reperused. He would not have succeeded at the bar, to which he had once thought of going; he was too eccentric. The
tautology and technicality of the law would have been his stumbling block. He was as he was to be, an original from nature’s own hand, full of fancy, feeling, eloquence, and a power of expression great but irregular. I believe he was not one of very fixed principles, literary or political, from his advocating any side of a question to suit the occasion. A delightful companion, he would sometimes offend by his vivacious hits, declare all he had said a joke, and ask his butt to dinner the next day. We were never near enough to be on a footing of great familiarity, as it was I ever found him most friendly, and I never judged men’s hearts by their political creed. His manners were easy, but his air was not gentlemanly. With his tall athletic form, his lower limbs were more than usually developed, and muscular. His features were not patrician, nor striking, except the chin, the rest was common. The whole countenance singular and intellectual, not on the whole handsome, the entire expression speaking something of his natural wildness, and fitful studiousness, his frolic and sobriety, as it varied in conversation. He was candour itself in all he said, wholly divested of pretension, delightfully unaffected. In his moments of hilarity, a dissertation on boxing, a point of metaphysics, a bit of classical criticism, and a poetical sentiment would follow each other linked in a singular connection. Yet it was often provoking to find, in the midst of a conversation on a subject highly interesting, dazzling with poetical glory, and rich in illustration, the whole suddenly broken off by the intervention of a comparative triviality, flinging you at once from the Line to the Arctic. His mind was rude with nature’s lore. He was never tired of the
country. Talking to him about residing there, he told me he was forced to leave his place at Ellery. The truth was, Wilson could not live without society, and all his guests and projects for rural enjoyment were expensive: yet he had originally inherited a fortune adequate to any reasonable purpose. Wilson seemed to me at fifty, what I was at twenty-five, but then his age came too rapidly upon him.

Lockhart, too, has passed off the stage of existence. He had many sins heaped upon his shoulders which I believe he did not deserve. Differing in politics, they were never, of course, subjects of our conversation, but in everything that took place, during an intercourse of some years, I had no complaint to make of his want of courtesy or kindness. He was fond of mischief when a young man, and no one liked better a little mystification, but he was in full manhood when I knew him. He was of a retiring, reserved habit, and by many not understood, called ill-natured, sarcastic, and I know not what besides. I can only speak of men as I have found them, and with me he was always pleasant and gentlemanly. On setting out in life with Wilson by his side, whose irregularities were always marked by some countervailing amends, Lockhart had not the same makeweights. The devilries of “the professor,” as I called him, “of mental philosophy,” were many of them shared by Lockhart. I knew the last only in London, where he did not mingle largely in society, even among his own political class. Then his appearance and carriage, though intellectual and gentlemanly, had nothing winning about them. Pale of complexion, saturnine, with jet black hair, and deep dark eyes, thin
lips, and an outline of face somewhat attenuated, a cold expression, and retiring manner in company, except upon rare occasions, these gave a peculiarity to his character, which bespoke nothing of the talents he undoubtedly possessed. He had no warmth of soul in his address. An habitual cast, as of pensiveness, appeared continually over him, taken by some for mental abstraction, than which nothing could be more erroneous. As editor of the “
Quarterly,” he never had fair play. There were several shackles over Lockhart in his editorship, regarding some of which he did not hesitate to express his feeling to his friends.