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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I passed from my lodgings daily through Lincoln’s Inn. And when I did so, sometimes stopped at the Chancery Court, where Lord Eldon sat, working a loose tooth in the front of his jaw with his finger and thumb, as if to beguile the time the counsel expended in making law-victims of the future from the examples of the past. Loyola and Lord Eldon were ever connected in my mind. His words were no index of his real feelings. He had a sterile soul for all things earthly but money, doubts, and the art of drawing briefs. I wondered how Romilly could argue so long about nothing, as he often did in that court. I remember, too, that Eldon used to steal into the George Coffee-house at the top of the Hay market, to get a pint of wine, Lady Eldon not permitting him to enjoy it in peace at home. I once saw a letter from Herbert Croft, who wrote the Life of Young, for Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, in which Croft, who expected much from Lord Thurloe only to be disappointed, called him (Croft) “a d—— fool for quitting the bar for the church,” on which Scott (afterwards Lord Eldon) said to Croft, “by Jove! I shall soon follow your example, if not to take orders, at least to be a country counsel in some corner of my native county.”
Happy would this have been for many persons, had it taken place.

“You will do wrong,” said Croft “your perseverance will secure your success.”

This was said in 1781, and twenty years after Scott’s plodding and tenacity of purpose, not unassisted by his pliancy before those who had the power to give the good things he desired, he had become Lord Chancellor. His mind was narrow, a dozen miles seemed to his scope the dimensions of a world. I used to fancy that in no possible position of humanity could life be so effectively wasted as in the verbiage and idle forms of Chancery proceedings in those times. Such a court disgraced civilization. The solicitor said to an incipient clerk, “you young scoundrel—you who would fain be a pupil in Chancery practise, and to write four words in a line!—let me never see that again, sir, two words and a comma, sir, no more. I shall be ruined. You do not understand equity.”

So ran the jest, no jest to hundreds of aching hearts for centuries past.

I was not so much struck with Sir Samuel Romilly’s suicide as with Whitbread’s. In Romilly’s manner there was, at times, an indescribable something that, to my view, seemed to indicate a melancholy temperament. Whitbread exhibited, on the other hand, a boldness and strength of nerve which did not belong to the former. I once had a letter from the latter which showed great strength of intellect and high personal courage, which I have mislaid. I knew it was the last I could imagine an individual of a depressed habit of mind could have written. After all, these unhappy lapses of reason
baffle conjecture in considering the constitution of our fellow men.

I began to study German at this time, assisted essentially by a native of Suabia who had married a cousin of my own. I do not like the German, far preferring languages which are based on the old Latin. I have well nigh forgotten it after forty years’ neglect. I put the “Lyre and Sword,” of Körner, into English verse, and Mullner’sGuilt.” I did not publish the “Sword Song” until nine years afterwards. Some shorter pieces of Körner, I printed in Perry’sMorning Chronicle;” others subsequently in the “Literary Gazette,” and the “London Weekly Review.” Teutonic metaphysics were never to my taste. The love of singularity, and the bewilderment of the mind to no satisfactory end, belong too much to the German school. Regardless of honest demonstration, ingenious, but indefinite, every writer has his bubble, reflecting rainbow hues, insubstantial as thin air. Upon this he disserts as if it were a granite structure, composite in order, with a dome that aspires to the clouds.

Schiller’sRobbers,” I had read in my youth. I loved the character of the poet, and perhaps that had something to do with my partiality for him as a writer. Göthe was never a favourite—but how should a foreigner judge of either correctly when so much of the impression produced by poetry must depend upon terms to which every nation annexes peculiar ideas, and on associations which belong alone to the native in every land. That Göthe is the first of the German writers of imagination we must believe, because his countrymen, the only true judges, proclaim him to be so.


In the midst of these studies I found an aunt, who had been some time resident in Stockholm, where she became acquainted with Madame de Stael, had arrived in England. She came with the lioness of the day for a fellow passenger. Madame de Stael lived in Argyle Street, nearly opposite the residence of Lord Aberdeen, and had been several months in London.

Lord Boringdon told me at Saltram that he had met the celebrated lady in town, and inviting her to his Devonshire residence, she begged to look at her tablets, and then expressed her regret that she was engaged until the end of April, nearly four months to come, and could not before that accept his lordship’s invitation. I went to Argyle Street in company with my aunt, and, on entering the drawing-room, saw there a single lady, young in years; I felt disappointed, supposing Madame de Stael was not in town. My aunt introduced me to Mademoiselle de Stael, a gentle, pleasing young creature, perhaps twenty years old, dressed in white, a good figure with a pallid complexion, slightly marked with the small pox. She became afterwards Duchess de Broglie, and died the mother, I believe, of several children. After a little conversation, and my aunt stating my desire to become acquainted with her mother, Mademoiselle de Stael replied, she was exceedingly sorry, but that Madame was not yet out of her room. She told me that it was her mother’s practice to write in the mornings in bed, where she was left undisturbed, but that she made her toilet, and was always down a little after two o’clock. It was not then one, and we had gone at that hour in the hope of finding the lady alone. I promised to call again, and to rely on the kindness of
Mademoiselle de Stael for my introduction. We then took our leave. When I called, and was introduced, I was disappointed in the appearance of this celebrated woman, so dissonant was it with the impersonation in my mind. There are few, in such cases, who will not anticipate in some shape the object of their curiosity. Madame de Stael’s known remark, that she would willingly exchange her literary reputation for personal beauty, was truly feminine—the sacrifice of her fine intellect and deserved reputation only to be what thousands of her sex are in every nation for a score of years out of threescore and ten. Those who appreciated her showy conversation, which was voluble and antithetic, soon disregarded her want of beauty. Yet, she was not ugly, but simply uninteresting and ordinary in feature, somewhat heavy and rather full, than spare in person. A woman of the world, she could adapt herself to the company in which accident placed her. Her mind, one of great strength, made her fond of the society of the male sex, their conversation being less frivolous than that of her own. She spoke lucidly as one accustomed to colloquise, and was best seen in a small circle, where her good sayings secured attention, and she saw them comprehended. She was herself fond of a large company, perhaps on the ground that an actor loves to see a full house.
Beckford speaking of her to me, insinuated that her breath was not the breeze of Hybla. I never perceived it. Though she continually attempted to display herself, she concealed the effort by the ease and apparent artlessness with which she regulated her conduct, but she affected pithy sayings. I remember asking her what she thought of
the Germans. She replied in some respects they were mystics, fond of the extravagant, because their rulers left them little else with which they could freely deal. They were not exact reasoners, but that was an inconvenience under their circumstances, which political amelioration would remove. They were baptized in theories, but might yet shame the logical English, who spoke continually of
Locke and reason, and followed custom. “You do not take the trouble to test the soundness of your customs. The Germans are only at liberty to dream, but not act on their dreams, as you act on your customs.”

De Stael’s drawing-room was a daily levee. All the world went to see her, and she to see all the world. If she had some little vanity, she had a just claim to be excused that fault. It would be difficult to find any female writer since, to approach her in ability. She thus gained a precedence she never used ungracefully. Her critical remarks on Teutonic literature, her extensive acquirements and reading, and the aim she had in her writings of fiction, always elevated, and never downward or mean in tendency, showing the worthiest aspirations, made me, as I still am, one of the admirers of that renowned lady.

Hewson Clarke, of Emanuel, Cambridge, I also met at a friend’s house, just after I had been introduced to De Stael. He had begun his literary career with “The Saunterer,” and another little work called “The Art of Pleasing.” He afterwards edited the “Satirist,” a publication attacking private character, report connecting him with Manners, whom I have before mentioned as editing a paper full of slanders.
Clarke had attacked
Byron, I found, subsequently, for the latter alludes to him as one who—
Devotes to scandal his congenial mind,
Himself—a living libel on mankind.

I believe it was Upcot, of the London Institution, first introduced him to me. He was an acute clever youth, who had some years before been patronized by the benevolent Mr. Burdon of Welbeck Street, and sent to Cambridge. Mr. Burdon afterwards befriended several young men who exhibited talent, as I have recorded of Graham. Clarke’s career he knew to his disappointment, but he died before Graham fell lower than Clarke. The latter was ruined at college, as Graham had been, getting into dissipated habits there, until he ceased to follow his studies, and his patron withdrew his countenance from him. When I met him first at dinner, I thought him a pleasant fellow. He asked me to dine with him soon afterwards in Essex Street. I then knew nothing of his previous life. He was composing a “History of the War.” We sat down eight or ten, two or three incipient Cambridge clergy being of the number. We had a friendly welcome, and pleasant conversation. The dessert, however, had not been many minutes on the table, before we heard female voices at the door of the dining-room, disputing about a right of entrance. Our host evidently disturbed, begged to be excused for a moment, went out, and all was hushed. Then returning he resumed his seat. The conversation turned upon literature, Cambridge, and the Roman classics. Horace and his amatory odes came upon
the carpet. Some of the party maintained that his love strains were too artificial, and not the language of the heart, but that of a man of the world. One quoting from the nineteenth ode, the words—
Mater sæva Cupidinum
Thebanque jubet me Semeles puer,
upon his lips, when the door of the room flew open, and there entered two females evidently not of the outrageously virtuous, one nearly six feet high, dressed in habiliments not much superior to those of domestic servants. The second was not more than half the stature of her who preceded. The company was dumb. Here were Glyceras indeed! The gentlemen of the shovel hats, in their attempts at maintaining due gravity of countenance, overdid it, and between the dignity of the cloth, and the risible predicament of Clarke, were in a state of amusing suspension, now eyeing the intruders slily, and then our confused host. This unexpected exhibition of his select acquaintance could not fail to wound his good taste, saying nothing of his morals. How he managed to obtain a withdrawal of the intruders I scarcely know. He was not at his ease afterwards. I saw him but once after this affair. His career was not much prolonged, death closed the scene in which the actor possessing abilities of no mean order, attracted that attention to them which their owner did not merit as a man.

I was induced to enter upon the editorship of the ‘Dramatic Review’for a short period, but resigned it to undertake a statistical work on Ireland. The last was unexpectedly given up, because no one could be
obtained who would be answerable for the illustrated portions, and was, at the same time, to be relied upon as to punctuality.
Wakefield’s quartos on Ireland had displeased many of the landowners there. His, in fact, was a work on political economy, rather than topography; too faithful to truth for the great men of the sister island.* It was with extreme reluctance I resigned the undertaking, after much time had been wasted upon it. No one would believe, in the present day, the difficulty of securing assistants on whom reliance could be placed, being yourself at a far distance, and punctuality imperiously necessary. I had one coadjutor in the literary part, who was invaluable, the son of a Scotch professor. It was, after all, fortunate the undertaking did not commence, for this gentleman fell into a decline and died within a year afterwards, so that I should have had the whole weight of responsibility upon myself, unable from absence in Ireland, to obtain another assistant. Temper, patience, and the capacity of supporting bodily fatigue were absolutely needful in a coadjutor.

There used to be many agreeable literary meetings in London at the houses of professional persons. Sir John Leicester gave pleasant conversational parties. Mr. Soane used to receive parties at his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and Mr. Britton, who was then labouring at his cathedral antiquities, gave breakfast parties. The booksellers, too, kept up their old customs,

* The title of this work on Ireland, was “Illustrations of Ireland, or a Topographical, Antiquarian, and Philosophical Survey of that island, comprising views of all its superficial features, and its geology, mineralogy, botany, manufactories, ecclesiastical establishments, history, mines, &c., &c.”

I mean the respectable houses. All this is long changed. I remember
Godwin at some of these parties, Archdeacon Nares, Bone, the enamel painter, some distinguished artists. There was then much sociality and little jealousy among literary men. At this period, I wrote for some works long since descended to the tomb of the Capulets or to be found only on the shelves of old libraries. In fifty cases in which I wrote, I should not now identify twenty of my own. The Rejected Theatre, published by Colburn, I remember appearing if I recollect rightly, in 1814. It consisted of the theatrical pieces which had been rejected by the managers of the theatres. This publication placed the managers in a better light than was expected. There was one piece called “The Prophetess,” which had some droll passages. Upon the Trojan shore, Eneas was heard to exclaim:
Purge pure the commonwealth
The selfish foul which deadens every heart
The mercenary crave.
One critic asserted that ‘foul’ should be read ‘fowl.’ Another that it should be ‘fishy fowl,’ or else ‘fishes foul.’ The people used to the ‘ungentle trade’ of criticism, full of the milk of human kindness, as they always are, and not an able critic to ten good authors, declared it was beyond their comprehension, and was probably ‘a mistake of the press.’
Leigh Hunt’sFeast of the Poets” appeared about the same time. Southey, too, hatched a batch of super-royal odes that would have done his own hexameters, and those of Longfellow, in later times, to “eternal smash,’ as the country-
men of the last would phrase it. The Lethean influence of the Laureatship, upon the political genius, was again and again displayed by Southey.
Shadwell, Tate, Eusden, Cibber, and Pye, were outshone by the Pantistocratist of the Lakes. I once parodied Pye’s Court odes, but Southey’s were beyond jocular or serious imitation. A master of the ceremonies in poetry, is like a dancing master cutting capers in irons. I published the “Two Muses” of Klopstock in the ‘Morning Chronicle.’ Madame de Stael having brought that poem into notice, and there was at that time a great fancy for German imaginative writing, which, heaven be praised, did not last. In works of sound learning, where perseverance and patience are required, we should do well to imitate the scholars of that country, who in this respect are unsurpassed. The misfortune is that sound works of science and learning will not, as formerly, return a bookseller in the present day a circulation sufficiently large to meet the outlay in paper. So much for the advance of the masses in what is sterling.

I set off from town to sell a small freehold of my own in one of the Midland counties, cutting off the entail. Reaching Oxford on the Saturday night, I was told I could not proceed, that the vice-chancellor had resolved to prevent any coach starting on a Sunday, but that I had a chance if the mail was not full. There was no room. I breakfasted early, determined the chancellor should not detain me for the good of the Angel Inn. I directed my portmanteau to follow me by the next night’s mail, and walked over to Blenheim. I spent best part of the day alone in those palatial
grounds. Say what modern critics may of
Vanburgh, he was able to produce an effect our modern builders cannot surpass, with all their frippery and skill at imitation.

Say what they will too of Vanburgh, his designs were his own. I will defy any one to deny that Blenheim is not a striking and noble structure, if to a certain extent it produces an impression of too great massiveness. It stamps the mind with the semblance, if not the reality of grandeur. Here I scrawled outlines of some of the park scenery, for which nature has done so little, and art so much. I dreamed of Fair Rosamond, and the tale cherished from the hearts “love of eld,” I afterwards betook myself to the road for Chipping Norton, which I reached hungry and tired, but so much pleased that I determined to walk the rest of the way. I proceeded to Broadway the next day, through Moreton in the Marsh, about twenty-one miles. Then burst from that eminence upon my delighted vision, the rich vale of Evesham, which I had never beheld before, with much of Worcestershire, like a map beneath me. I was enchanted, I forgot, though hungry, to order anything to eat, until the demand was made if I did not require it. I determined to remain all night with that verdant scene before me. By and by it was lit up with a brilliant moon. I thought I should never tire of it—O for those feelings once more! The next morning I walked to Evesham, explored what I supposed the battle-field; I conjured up, in fancy, the spectre of Simon de Montfort; thought of his troublous times contrasted with my own; thanked Heaven that I had
been educated and thus was enabled to add the interest of historic deeds to the topography where I stood invoking the spirits of the past. Then it was the land began to show a symptom of the liberty not fully understood for ages afterwards—
Upon the surface of Time’s fleeting river
Its wrinkled image lies as then it lay.
Immoveably unquiet, and for ever
It trembles, but it cannot pass away.
applied to European freedom, as here its memory was applied to a battle-field of English freedom. Here where reposed peace and beauty, then ruled the barbarism and tyranny of the mediaeval ages—the worst tyranny, that of dominant ecclesiastical superstition, which, unlike the battle-field calls no heroic principle into play, and is animated only by the baser passions, the slave of cowardice and cruelty, a living lie to its professions, a monster in disguise. Grateful I felt that I lived in the nineteenth century—that learning, arts and commerce lived too, and that the corpses of our “old nobility “were more usefully employed aiding the corn to ripen on the battle-fields of our civil history, in the shape of bone manure, stopping a bunghole as loam, or helping the chymist to some of the gasses required for his experiments, in fertilizing their lands.

From Evesham on to Pershore, and from thence to Upton on Severn, I completed twenty-three miles more. I explored some of the old churches on my route. When I see a church tower, I quickly ascertain its date by the appearance. If erected and bedizened under the superintendance of some Jimcrack architect, and “Simon
Smears and Daniel Daub, churchwardens,” as I tell by a glance, I pass it by. The architecture neither of the old nor new style—by “new “I mean the new-old deforming so many of our streets in London, and by old, I intend the old-new which cannot be designated in language. The genuine old church in the country is always worthy of a visit. It is in itself a memorial, not of one generation but of many. It is a record of times forgotten, but for its venerable walls, and of humanities, of which fancy depicting the forms and features living flesh and blood cannot correct them. I visited Glocester, Worcester, and Malvern, and was struck at the latter place with what little moment appeared to myself, the previous existence of my family for ages in that district—no more than mine to them.

The marriage of the Avon and Severn at Tewkesbury—the Shakspeare Avon, I saw for the first time with due reverence. There are sensations at such moments which can only be felt. I explored the battle-field where Queen Margaret and her son were so unfortunate. The spot is still called the “Bloody mead,” for there the combat raged fiercely. I spent a day or two pleasantly, with an old friend, who afterwards became the medical attendant of Christophe, the Emperor of Haiti. I made an acquaintance with an officer of the New South Wales Corps, who was in the country, and present when Admiral Bligh, (Bounty Bligh), was selected to play the same game there as governor, which he had played on shipboard. He who could not govern his crew correctly and honourably under the articles of war, was ill-chosen to deal with a colony. He had slunk away under a featherbed, from which he was taken,
poltroon as he showed himself, as soon as he became bereft of power.
Dr. Lang, a Scotchman, who was in the colony, became his apologist many years afterwards, and proved nothing in his case. There was only the alternative of a mutiny or the governor’s removal.

The peace, and the departure of the Emperor Napoleon for Elba, caused great rejoicings, which I returned from the country time enough to see, together with the royal visitors. I fancied there was something Calmuckish in the countenance of Alexander of Russia, a well grown man, whose sire is pretended to have been a Romanoff in place of a Soltikoff, Catherine not having murdered her husband until after Paul, Alexander’s father, was born. He was affable, easy, and good humoured—made a demi-god of by the papers and public here, his previous conduct and cunning being forgotten. The law, therefore, proclaimed him as in England, the son of the assassinated husband, for the law delights in fictions. The King of Prussia was as milk and water as his courtiers and his enemies could have desired. The present King of Belgium, an aide-de-camp of one of the princes, lodged in Mary-la-bonne Street, au deuxième. It was amusing to witness the activity of these princes and the Duke of Wellington in their movements, and the incapacity of George IV. to keep up with them, already grown unwieldy and bloated, for he was generally left behind in the royal excursions, being too bulky and Falstaff-like to move about as they did. The adulation shown to the strangers was mean indeed. When a humour takes in London, it is always ridden to death.

The sovereigns reviewed the Scotch Greys in Hyde Park. In the following year twice I saw the regi-
ment in France, after the battle of Waterloo, the mere wreck of what it had been previously. At the rejoicings for the peace, I stood without the iron pallisades of Buckingham Old House. It was a childish affair there. But the illumination of the streets was really fine. Every window was lit up, and the blaze of light, from so great a mass of buildings, was thrown grandly upon the heavens. The park of St. James was prettily arranged with lamps in the trees, like another Vauxhall. A wooden bridge with a sort of tower over the canal in St. James’s Park, was illuminated too brightly. The edifice took fire, and the tower was consumed. One or two persons were killed. A mock naval engagement on the Serpentine river in Hyde Park, was also presented on the occasion. Boats rigged as vessels of war were engaged in petty combat, and one or two filled with combustibles were set on fire in order to act as fireships. First a couple of frigates engaged. Then the battle of the Nile was imitated. Later at night the fireworks commenced. I was as close to them as any one could well be placed. There was a painted castle externally made of cloth. This mock fort gave out a pretended cannonade amid the smoke of which, the scene shifting changed the whole into a brilliant temple with transparent paintings to represent a temple of Peace, quite in a theatrical way. This elicited shouts of admiration from the people.

The newspapers made merry with these proceedings, of which the Prince Regent was said to have been the designer. They were worthy of the Prince’s taste, extravagant and puerile, as it was. One of the papers said that two watermen, each with a line-of-battle ship
on his head proceeding up Constitution Hill, to the Serpentine, had been met by their reporter that morning. Another stated that a corps of Laplanders, not to exceed three feet six in height, had been reviewed for the purpose of sending them to man the Prince Regent’s fleet in Hyde Park, but that they were declared to be eleven inches five lines too tall.

I took lodgings at Woolwich, after these doings, to enjoy the society of some military friends. I watched the processes and experiments going on in that fine establishment, and studied superficially some little of the arts of fortification and gunnery. Peace had not yet made much difference in the business carried on there by the artillery, the practice of which I watched with great interest, as I had before done at Plymouth, during the war. The intermittent fever raged much there at the time. It is a curious fact, that having made an addition to the Warren as they called it, by taking in some land from the marshes, the convict labourers were attacked with fever, two or three in the day, and sent on board the hospital ship. It happened they had been all working in or near the newly enclosed spot. The proof firing of the great guns was ordered by accident to take place there. From that time there were no more fever attacks. Twenty or thirty discharges in the day, appeared sufficient to disperse the miasma. I thought this a singular circumstance from its apparent explanation, that a stagnant state of the air as generally found near the surface of the earth in such cases, might be rendered salubrious on forcing it into motion by concussion or some similar means. At that time, the complaints of
the fever were continual on both sides of the Thames, and most in the garrison of Tilbury, the prevention was a glass of gin taken fasting every morning.

Going up to town to see an officer who had got into pecuniary difficulties, I found him in a lock-up house, where he was under the guardianship of a son of the renowned Mendoza, and there I saw the elder Mendoza, the king of fisticuffs in the East, while the other kings were showing off at the West End. He seemed a quiet unassuming man, and spoke of his battle with Humphries in a modest way. His arm was powerful, but his personal appearance was by no means that of a man of extraordinary strength, such, for example, as the display made by the frame of a Cornish or Devonshire wrestler, I am inclined to think his fine eye and superior science, did more than his muscular strength. His son was powerful with the right arm, and could put out a candle by striking the air with his fist, without bringing the joints nearer than an inch or two of the flame. The father was a remarkably self-possessed mild man, and had made a great name all over the country, among the patrons of the ring, and similar low pursuits, among a people that boasted of superior morality and refinement.

I had called upon Dr. Wolcot (Peter Pindar), soon after my first arrival in town, but had comparatively seen little of him. I now spent half a day in the week with him. Blind Lord Coventry was among his visitors—two blind men together, and one or two other persons whom I cannot recollect. I have a perfect remembrance of some I met there at this time. Five years later. I found him little altered. His stories were
told as racily as ever, though he must then have been seventy-seven years old. Upon mentioning my grandfather, whom he had professionally attended, thirty-four years antecedently, he recalled him at once, by describing the place where he lived, and the mention of a brook which ran near the house. When he wished to recal any thing to mind, as the name of a person or a place, Wolcot would begin to repeat the alphabet till he came to the first letter of the word he sought. Thus forming a species of artificial clue. He told me the date, it was many years before I was born. I mentioned that my mother had informed me that when he came to her father’s house to see his patient he would go into the kitchen, and cook his own beefsteak, if too late for dinner, “because country servants never knew how to do a steak as it should be done.” He said this was true, that he never eat a beefsteak properly done in the West of England in his life. Events long past would then seem to come rapidly into his mind. He would ask for people who were dust before I saw the light, though I had had hearsay knowledge of them. He was a man of great acuteness, in fact, the most shrewd I ever knew. He soon penetrated into character. Thus, in regard to his judgment on the fine arts, and his opinion of artists and their labours in his day, time has confirmed all he said of their works. He used to deal mercilessly with the coxcombry of the Royal Academy of Painting. That so keen a satirist as himself should have many enemies was natural, especially as his exposure of the foibles of
George III., had made him be set down for a Jacobin, which he was not. Chatham and George II. were his themes.


When an old lady asked him if he did not think he was a very bad subject of our most pious king George, he replied,

“I do not know anything about that, Madam, but I do know that the king has been a devilish good subject for me.”

Wolcot lodged in a house now built in among streets near Euston Square, but in his time standing alone in a gardener’s ground, called “Montgomery’s Nursery.” Beyond its enclosure were the open fields. The poet loved the smell of flowers, and the fresh air of the place. No one can imagine either flowers or fresh air on that spot now. I never pass the house, but I stop and look at it. The front is unchanged, though completely built in. I cannot but think of the many pleasant hours I passed there. George Hanger used to drop in there occasionally when I first came to town. He died in 1824, an eccentric, genuine in his oddities, but he had no taste for the fine arts like Wolcot. Both were humorists, but of a different character. He would not be called Lord Coleraine when the title ultimately came to him, “plain George Hanger, Sir, if you please.” He used to go and smoke a pipe occasionally at the Sols’ Arms, in Tottenham Court Road, and might be seen in Pall Mall riding his grey pony without a servant; then dismounting at a bookseller’s shop, he would get a boy to hold his horse, and sit upon the counter for an hour, talking to Burdett, Bosville, or Major James, who used to haunt that shop, Budd and Calkin’s then or afterwards. He was a very rough subject, but honest to the backbone, and plain speaking. He carried a short, thick shillelagh, and now and then took his quid. A
favourite of the
Prince of Wales, he administered a well-merited reproof to the Prince, and the Duke of York, one day at Carlton House, for their grossness of language. His name became no longer on the list of guests there. Upon this, as often related by others, he advertised himself as a coal merchant. Meeting the Prince one day on horseback afterwards, the former addressed him:

“Well, George, how go coals now?”

“Black as ever, please your Royal Highness.”

There were several young artists whom I used to meet at Wolcot’s. There was also a man somewhat notorious at that time, Colonel Thornton, of Thornville Royal, and Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Wolcot did not like him, but having spent several days at his place in Yorkshire, he felt bound to be civil towards him. He was a sporting man of large fortune, and employed a parson to write a sporting book from a few notes of his own, and more of the writers, all passing for the genuine sporting tour of Colonel Thornton. Mean in character, and transcending Mendez Pinto in his mistakes about truth, he was, besides, a man of more conversation about nothing, with less mental integrity, than I ever met with. He was diverting from his outrageous untruths, though they were not deceptions, for nobody believed them. He used to send an insignificant present of game to the Doctor, when he happened to be in town, and say he would come and take a chop with him. When the game was delivered, the porter, Thornton’s own servant, would ask for the porterage, which he took home to his master. Thornton paid himself that way, for the carriage of all his game to town,
by presenting a little of the worst here and there. He had estates in Devonshire, as well as Yorkshire. One day, I found the Doctor in a great passion.

“What do you think, Redding? Thornton has sent some game, and he will dine with me to-day. His servant has asked for the porterage again. Pray ring the bell.”

I did as I was requested, and the Doctor’s servant, Mary, came up. Wolcot kept two servants, Mary, and “Nance,” as he styled the second.

“He is the greatest miser and liar alive,” said Wolcot. “He has asked some friends to dinner to-day in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. He repents it, has put them off, and comes to me, that he may say he was not able to be at home.”

Mary, the Doctor’s servant, came into the room.

“Mary, did you or Nance pay Colonel Thornton’s servant anything for the carriage of the game to-day?”

“Yes, Sir, two-and-sixpence.”

“Why, Mary, that is nearly as much as it’s worth!”

“Not much short of it, Sir, I believe,” said Mary, who disliked both master and servant.

“What was it?”

“Two partridges and a rabbit.”

“A shilling a-piece for the carriage of the partridges, and sixpence for the rabbit—the last may cost the powder and shot, say one charge. Thornton has calculated that to a nicety.”

Mary had orders in future not to take in the Colonel’s presents of game; but that was no offence to him, who was not apt to be discomposed when he played off his shallow tricks, and missed his mark.
The man who fought the men in buckram, would have been tame in
Thornton’s hands, who had none of the humour of the Windsor knight to disguise or atone for the magnitude of the sin—if it be a sin to tell falsehoods so monstrous, no one can by any possibility be deceived by them; a Jesuit would pronounce them harmless on that account. Thornton told me he had bought Chambord, the celebrated French estate.

“Vast property, you know?”

“I know of it by hearsay, and its noble domain. I never saw it.”

“Well, Sir, I am a French peer; holding that estate gives me the peerage.”

“Are you naturalised?”

“O, that is of no consequence, the possession of the estate does all that.”

“You must buy it through trustees then, Colonel.”

“Not at all—it gives the dukedom—it rides over all such trivial matters as you speak of.”

“That is new to me—it gives you a title, of course, in that case?”

“Yes, I am a prince in the right of the holding—I am, by ——.”

He told me he had a collection of game pieces by Rubens in his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and requested me to call and see them—he had the best the artist ever painted.

“You haven’t one, and you know it, Thornton—you think they are so,” said Wolcot.

I had half a mind to call and see them, but Wolcot advised me not to do so, and assured me it would be throwing away time, besides, he was no desirable ac-
quaintance for any man who respected himself. He is as great a coward as he is a falsifier.

I did not call; for an incident of a distressing nature intervened, and through my agency relieved the Doctor of his society. One Sunday evening, passing by the Doctor’s accidentally, I went in to ask how he did. I found the Doctor, Thornton, and a lady about twenty-four or five in the room. They had dined with Wolcot, and the lady was introduced as a Miss Dormer, a near relation of Thornton. The wine was upon the table. Soon after I had taken my seat, the lady left the room. There was something about her which bore a resemblance to a young lady whom I had seen before. I could not conjecture her presence there by any possibility, and thought no more of it. She did not return, and in an hour Mary came in to tell the Colonel Miss Dormer had her things on, and was waiting for him. All were surprised, as Thornton was fond of conversation, and it was plain went away against his wish. Miss Dormer did not return to say good-night to the host.

When they were gone, I asked the Doctor if he knew who Miss Dormer was, and whether that was her real name. He replied, that being blind, he was wholly in the hands of other people, but that “Thornton had stated that she was a relation of his, who desired much to see me.” I assured him he had been imposed upon; that her name was Harriet D——; seven or eight years before, she had sat by me at my father’s table; that she knew me well enough, but that, as I could not dream of her being the same to whom I thought she bore a resemblance, I had
doubted if my conjecture was correct. I now believed it was so.

“The scoundrel has been playing me more of his tricks—he said she was one of his nieces,” observed Wolcot.

The servant reported that Miss Dormer gave, as a reason for going away, that she was not well. The mystery was cleared up. I make no allusion to her family. There were several brothers and sisters. I believe they fell into distressed circumstances. The Colonel had an estate in Devonshire, and in that county he most probably met with her. The circumstance gave me great pain. When she came to us it was with other girls, whose friends were known to my family, she was at a boarding-school, fifty miles from the residence of her parents in Devonshire. Thornton must have been approaching seventy years of age, an ill-looking man in person.

I have heard he declared that, once, when hunting, he fell with his head on the edge of a scythe, which cut it in two, and the halves fell over his shoulders like a couple of epaulets. And what next, Colonel?

“Why, the huntsman came up, and, in a quarter of a second clapped the halves together before the blood was chilled; it all depended upon the nick of time; anybody might then do it with the same success.”

He made his wife ride a race at York, and got horsewhipped by her antagonist, which he deserved. He then, being a magistrate, applied for a criminal information. It was refused him, and he was told by the judges to go to the Common Law Courts for redress. He died in France, where, I have heard, he lied ex-
travagantly in articulo mortis—but enough of such a subject.

When Mrs. Boscawen of Richmond died, the widow of the celebrated Admiral, whom she survived forty-five years, her body was brought from thence to Tregothnan for interment, and a vault was opened which had been shut for many years, another having been made in a different place for the existing family. I descended to look at Admiral Boscawen’s coffin, and those of his ancestry, one of whom, I believe the second Lord Falmouth, must have approached Daniel Lambert in size. On this lay a coffin of a strange form, from a small hole or crack in which a most offensive effluvia had issued. It was the coffin of a son of Admiral Boscawen, who was drowned while swimming. Mentioning this to Wolcot, he said: “Yes, I knew that young man; he was drowned at Port Royal, Jamaica. We brought his body to England with us, after the death of Governor Trelawney, more than forty years ago.” This was a singular concatenation of circumstances.

Wolcot told me he was promised the Secretaryship to the island of Jamaica, if he would go out with the Governor, and it should fall vacant. It did fall vacant, but in lieu of it, the Governor put him off with a living, called Vera, I believe, worth £800 a-year. He was dissatisfied. It would subject him to the charge of hypocrisy. Such was not a failing in his natural character, but without it he would have been destitute. He came home, was ordained both deacon and priest by the Bishop of London, returned to Jamaica, and officiated for a short time. He was an excellent
reader, and an emphatic speaker. The appointment, he declared, sat so ill upon him he could bear it no longer, and he resigned the living. There was a house recently standing on the island in which he is said to have resided, and in which, singular enough,
Smollett is said for a short time to have taken up his abode. Wolcot came home with the lady of the Governor. A serious attachment took place, and, at last, their marriage was fixed upon, when Lady Trelawney died.

There were stories of his own and others about his residence in Jamaica, most of which I forget. He said he was once officiating in the church in a surplice too straight and long for him. An earthquake shook the edifice; the congregation ran out as fast as possible. He could not get quit of the surplice to run after them. The more he tried, the worse it was. He contrived, in the midst of all, to grapple his terrified clerk, and to hold him fast, telling him, as he shook with fear, that he should die with him if he did not help it off. The man lent his assistance, and they got clear. The church did not fall, “but by that time,” said Wolcot, “we had the race all to ourselves.”

Miss Anne Trelawney, the Governor’s sister, was very credulous. She died in the island. Wolcot, on her asking the news one morning, told her that a cherub had been caught up in the Blue Mountains, and brought into the town.

“What did they do with it, my dear doctor?”

“Put it in a cage with a parrot.”

“And what then, doctor?”

“In the morning the parrot had pecked out both its eyes.”


“You don’t say so!”

This lady had many natural good qualities. On her death, the doctor wrote an elegy upon her called “The Nymph of Tauris.” It appeared in the Annual Register, for 1773. It was evidently suggested by Collins’ Oriental Eclogues.

Wolcot lived at a house on the green at Truro after his return, and practised professionally. He was an able and benevolent physician; but he got into disgrace with the faculty around, because, in fevers, he permitted his patients to drink as much cold water as they pleased. The faculty complained of his being likely to kill his patients by this irregular treatment. He got into disrepute, too, with the apothecaries; for, to their great dismay he analyzed the medicines they put into his prescriptions, whenever he suspected they were not as genuine as they should be. Hence neither physician nor apothecary had much affection for him. One of the latter, of close pecuniary habits, was so abusive that Wolcot wrote verses in the way of an epistle, in which he recommended the apothecary-surgeon, to buy up the cast-off gloves at the Assembly Rooms on which to spread his blisters, and not to be too economical with his patients in bleeding, as he kept pigs, and blood was good diet. Mrs. Polwhele, the mother of the author of that name, being ill, complained to Wolcot of the crumbs getting under her as she lay in bed, saying it put her in mind of the Pilgrims and the Peas, when going to the Holy Land. She related the tale, and Wolcot made out of the story that of the “Pilgrims and the Peas,” which has long been so popular.

“Physic,” he said to me one day, “is half of it
humbug—at best a very uncertain affair. People’s pockets are often picked by it. I could not, in many idle cases, go away after a visit without leaving a prescription. I took care to leave what would do no harm. A physician can do little more than watch nature, and, if he sees her inclined to go right, give her a shove on the back.” This was rough, shrewd, sound sense.

Wolcot’s luxuries were verse, painting, and music. He was a good performer on the violin and piano. All his drawings that I ever saw were freely executed. He was plain and frugal in his living. “Take care of your stomach,” he observed to me; “one dish will do for any man; take plain food; keep yourself from damp. I keep a fire every day throughout the year. I must have dry air. I wear a flannel shirt—it is needful, and I take a little brandy or rum. Fire, flannel and brandy are required in our climate.”

I used to visit, when a youth, at a gentleman’s seat called Croftwest, where the Doctor had left many reminiscences, having quitted the neighbourhood the best part of twenty years before. It was the residence of a Mr. Mitchel, a good-natured, hospitable little man, fond of hunting, who died at an advanced age. He was indisposed, and the usual surgeon-apothecary was called in. The physician was seldom the first medical adviser in the West in those days—the surgeon-apothecary preceded him. There was but one in the town for a long time, when the people said the profession was neutralized by a second practitioner, that the first had gone out of practice, and the second had not yet come in. The surgeon-apothecary, therefore, had the killing
and curing all his own way.
Wolcot, who had removed to a neighbouring town, was sent for in a hurry.

“I went,” said he, “and found Mitchel very low and ill. As you know, he was naturally of a tough constitution. For some time, I was puzzled to know what was the matter with him. It struck me, at last, that he might have taken something which had driven in a species of eruption which he always had on one arm. ‘Tom,’ said I, ‘let me see your arm;’ and, showing it to me, I perceived at once that the eruption, constitutional with him, had been driven in by the blockhead, whom he had employed, and who, besides, had kept him miserably low in diet. I rang the bell for Mrs. Mitchel. ‘What had you for dinner to-day—any thing well seasoned?’

“’Why, yes, Doctor, there was a highly seasoned beefsteak pie sent away untouched. Mr. Mitchel was to eat nothing seasoned.’

“’You will kill Tom. Let the cloth be laid again; bring up the pie. We’ll cut it open, put a bottle of good Madeira by it, and let him eat and drink as much as he likes.’ The patient was ready enough to sit down to it, and by this plan, in a day or two, I got the eruption out again, and Tom got as well as he ever was in his life without physic.”

There was much hospitality exercised at Croftwest, as I experienced in my boyhood. In Wolcot’s time, among the company, was a lady named Spencer, of a brilliant complexion, but her eyes were very indifferent. She had made a practice of teazing Wolcot wherever she saw him, to write verses upon her, a request he disliked. She renewed the request over the dessert.
Wolcot took out a pencil, scrawled these lines, and handed them to her.
O sweet Nancy Spencer those beautiful eyes
Were made for the downfall of man,
At the sight of their fire, thy true lover fries
And whizzes like fish in a pan:
O gemini father! how nature would quake
Were you gifted with every perfection,
I tremble to think what a havock you’d make,
Were you blest with my air and complexion.
The lady never pardoned the lines, nor spoke afterwards to their author. ‘His filthy complexion, too, only think what an insult,’ so she told her friends. Wolcot’s was a good lasting mahogany colour. He observed, that she had been so importunate for lines upon herself that nothing but such as would affront her, would have answered the purpose of saving himself from her importunate vanity, light praise never would have answered the end.

There was a vulgar man, too, who from being the manager of a borough in the west, got at last into parliament, and was suddenly elevated to the companionship of peers and esquires, who a little time before paid him no regard. He fitted up a house handsomely, and the great people of his vicinity were ready enough, as usual, to visit, and sneer at him afterwards. Grand preparations were made on one occasion for a dinner, to which the upstart had invited several noblemen and others of his vicinity, and was vain enough to boast about it. The M.P. had a near relative in a condition scarcely above that of a laundress. Wolcot imitating the brother’s hand, wrote her an
invitation to dine with his company the same day, and to come in her best dress. The vulgar woman decked herself out accordingly in finery, some of which was two score years behind the fashion. Just as the guests were rising in the drawing-room to go to the dinner-table the lady made her appearance in her grotesque finery, part of which was borrowed for the occasion. The confusion, on the part of her brother, may be conceived, and the amusement of the guests. The stolidity of the lady who had received the invitation, was ludicrous. She took her place at the table, and assumed what she deemed a fashionable air for the occasion.

While thus resident at Truro, it was that Wolcot met with Opie in a hamlet, a few miles in the country. The Doctor assured me it was wholly untrue that he was struck with anything the youth had attempted in the way of art, such as a farm-yard and a lady’s cat. There were such attempts, but they were without the mark of anything like genius, or even the objects they purported to represent. He said what struck him first in Opie was the invincible desire to master the art, shewn with an earnestness he could never have expected from one so situated. The boy’s parents, too, discouraged the lad. Wolcot loved everything like genius, and took Opie to Truro, gave him careful instructions, and his merit soon became apparent. Nothing could be more kind and considerate than Wolcot’s treatment of the artist. When he became able to paint a portrait, Wolcot gave him letters to some gentlemen of the county, to aid him in a tour for portrait painting, stipulating that he had a right to be a parlour guest.


“I want to polish him, he is an unlicked cub yet, I want to make him learn to respect himself. Therefore, wherever he has visited, he has been treated as a gentleman,” thus Wolcot wrote to a friend. He was uniformly so treated except in one instance, that of a clergyman who could not tolerate an affront to his own apostolic dignity by suffering a son of genius to sit at the same board with him, though nobles did. Although unpolished, Opie exhibited no coarse vulgarity. He first painted heads at five shillings, and then raised his price to ten and sixpence. After his first expedition, he brought back twenty guineas, clear of all expenses, so wonderful a sum in his unaccustomed eyes, that he first flung the money on the doctor’s table in a sort of rapture, and then sweeping the coin all off upon the carpet, rolled himself over it exclaiming, “Here I be rolling in gold.” His early works exhibited little judgment, but were remarkable for great boldness and truth of colour. His drawing was poor, and deficient in that delicacy which is so desirable in art. “He plaistered on his colours,” said Wolcot, “but few could plaister like him.” Except Reynolds, he had no living superior in colouring, among the artists of his time, it was magical. Of his subsequent style and tact little was traceable during his early career in Wolcot’s house in the west. The doctor’s lessons were generally given in crayons. “No better representation of earth can be given than with the earth itself,” was one of his remarks. Scenes about Fowey and Plymouth executed by himself hung in his sitting-room.

Wolcot lashed some of the corporation of the town for their bad management of civic affairs. They
revenged themselves by putting a parish apprentice upon his establishment. He appealed in vain to the sessions against the order. This was only appealing to Paul against Peter. He then removed his furniture to Helston, for he would not be beaten, and sent them a billet—


“Your blunderbuss has missed fire.

John Wolcot.”

I expressed my surprise his satire did not get him into serious scrapes. He replied that he got into one, and only one of any moment, and that was with General Macarmick, an old friend. “Something I said more severe than just, led to a retort, I was yet more caustic. A challenge came to me to meet on the Green at six in the morning. There were to be no seconds, it was to be a desperate affair. My window, as you may remember, knowing the house, looked over the Green. I got up at day dawn, and was dressing; the morning was chill, and I saw Macarmick walking up and down near the water. The time fixed had not yet arrived. He had a brace of pistols in his hand, altogether a sight not calculated to add to a man’s personal courage in a cold morning. My anger had been but momentary, and I began to think it would be great folly for two old friends to pop away each other’s lives. I rang for my servant, ordered a fire to be instantly made, and breakfast and toast to be got ready. It yet wanted something of the time, and when the hour was up, I opened the door that looked upon the green, crossed it
with the aspect of a lion, and went up to Macarmick. He did not utter a syllable.

“Good morning, general.”

The general bowed stiffly.

“This is too chilly a morning for fighting.”

“That is the alternative, sir, in case I have no other satisfaction.”

“What you soldiers call an apology, I suppose? My dear general I would rather make twenty, when I was so much in the wrong as I was last night. I will apologise, but on one condition alone.”

“I cannot talk of conditions,” said the general gravely, but evidently with less stiffness than before.

“Why then I will consider the conditions accepted. They are that you will come in and take a hearty breakfast with me—it is ready. I own myself exceedingly sorry if I hurt your feelings yesterday. I did not intend it, and no one was privy to our difference.”

He gave me his hand, and we settled the rest of our difference over tea and toast. The pistols that cold morning looked uncomfortable enough. We were going to fight about nothing of moment. How many duels might have ended with as little mischief, if one side or the other had the courage to do as I did on that occasion.

I visited Catalani in town, and found her always the same elegant and amiable creature, with the same sweet simple smile, and modest manners. She stood, and I believe still stands, unrivalled in her profession. As an actress, she was in no way remarkable; yet she looked so attractive on the boards, that the audience forgave any little fault of action, and then her transcendant voice!
Besides, a
Siddons on the opera boards would be out of all keeping. A female hero breathing the notes of a Cæsarian speech out of her chest, with compressing hands, whatever may be the skill of the artiste’s execution, is no appeal to the reason for its resemblance to the original. There is, after all, something exceedingly effeminate about the opera, and all opera dilitanti.

At this time, John and Leigh Hunt were imprisoned for a libel on George IV. Lord Ellenborough, on the trial, after showing a spirit of political animosity, which ill became a judge, sentenced one brother to be imprisoned in Surrey, and the other in Middlesex. This was considered an oversight, or a kindness in a judge remarkable for the absence of both. York, or Dorchester was expected. In order to suit political enmities, particularly those towards the press, the judges declared that all jails were the king’s—pitiful quibblers!—therefore, it was perfectly consistent with justice, that a man might be sent to Berwick for imprisonment, who had committed an offence in Cornwall, though he could not be tried out of his own county! Any inconsistency to suit a purpose. Why but to screen the subject’s natural rights, were not London prisoners sent to Berwick or Cornwall for trial. I remember paying Leigh Hunt a visit in Horsemonger Lane Jail, a miserable low site. I missed Byron and Moore, by only about half-an-hour, on the same errand. Horace Smith, and Shelley used to be visitors there, and many others of Hunt’s friends. He was composing “Rimini,” a copy of which he gave me, and which I still possess.

His apartment, on the ground floor, was cheerful for
such a place, but that only means a sort of lacquered gloom after all. I thought of his health, which seemed by no means strong. I am certain, if the place was not unwholesome, it lay close upon the verge of insalubrity.
Hunt bore his confinement cheerfully, but he must have had unpleasant moments. He was naturally lively, and in those days, I never knew a more entertaining companion. For such an one to be alone for weary, dreary hours, it must have been punishment enough, even to satisfy an Ellenborough or a Jeffries.

When he resided in the New Road, I spent many an evening with him, pleasant, informing, and varied by conversation on subjects that chance brought up, or association introduced stealthily. I visited him in the Vale of Health at Hampstead, where there was always a heartiness that tempted confidence, and with much imaginativeness, much skimming of literature, and a light culling of its wild flowers, criticism without envy, and opinions free of insincerity. Leigh Hunt yet survives, or I might be tempted to proceed to many details, which would infringe the rule I have made for myself in the mention of but few who are still spared from a day of our literature, the similar of which is hardly likely soon, if ever, to recur again.

Death has closed the career of his brother John, than whom I never knew one of a more noble cast of mind. Philosophic, patient, just, a deep thinker, unobtrusive, sincere, John Hunt, in my view, stood the foremost of any character I have encountered. I used often to visit him at Maida Hill, and at Brompton, moved by his solid, yet attractive conversation, his just views of things, stripping them of everything extraneous, and
coming at once to the main fact. He suffered no consideration but the plain truth to enter into a discussion, throwing policy to the winds, and, while allowing for collateral circumstances, and their interventions, keeping the argument to its just limit. He was ever far in advance of time.

He was imprisoned in Cold Bath Fields, where I sometimes beguiled an hour with him at chess. He had a lofty and comfortable, though small apartment, at the top of the prison, where the air was excellent. Townsend, one of the Bow Street officers, was the governor of the prison, and an excellent governor he made, not the worse for considering the character of his prisoners in relation to their offences. The surgeon, too, was a well-informed man. John Hunt had the privilege of walking for a couple of hours daily in the governor’s garden, a kindness for which he was alone indebted to the governor himself. I forgot the name of the surgeon, but well remember that he stated some curious facts in relation to prison statistics, which were quite new to me. The prisoners for felony were seldom seen.

When I entered, a turnkey accompanied me to the bottom of the first stone staircase, unlocked the door, let me in, locked it and retired. I then mounted a flight or two of granite steps, passing the closed doors of a number of cells, and found my friend “at home.” Mrs. Hunt was with her husband much in the day time. I never, I must repeat it, met a more even temper than his, more equitable views, or a more manly spirit.

I had been indebted to John Hunt for an introduction to Mr. West, president of the academy of painting,
then living in Newman Street. They were relations. Mr. West was a man of few words, grave, and I imagine, not possessed of much acquired information beyond his art. I remember there were numerous sketches in his gallery, but that of “Death on the Pale Horse,” struck me most as a composition. It was indeed of a high character.

John Hunt would have been ruled by abstract truths, if the world would have allowed him, and have regulated his actions by them. These, after all, are the truths of the nobler spirits among mankind, not to be realized, but to remain the points of an aspiration, not experienced by common souls. Man’s approximation to them is small in the course of ages, but he does approximate. Some tremulous about the present, fear, that like Basle clocks, we shall be set too fast, if we move but the fraction of a small measure forward.

I remember an instance of John Hunt’s high spirit relating to the Examiner paper, forming a curious contrast to later times in similar dealings. John Kemble had given the Examiner a free admission for two persons to the boxes. Leigh Hunt was the best dramatic critic of the day. He found it right to censure Kemble for his performance of some part, I forget in what piece, and Kemble remarked, that after sending such admissions, he should not have expected to be handled so severely. John Hunt at once enclosed to Kemble the admissions to which he had alluded, and stated, that in future the admission of the theatrical critic should be paid for, and charged to the weekly expenses of the paper; it ought to have been so before,
in future, the paper should be placed upon the footing of perfect independence. The ‘
Times’ alone came with clean hands out of a recent display of the late venal system of newspaper free admissions.

Such was the spirit of honest journalism in those manly times with the press. John Hunt read much in prison, but told me time passed as quickly in reflection, and in examining questions, which, seeming at first to be obscure or perplexed, he endeavoured to render clear by meditation upon them. He died, I believe, in Somersetshire, where he retired to enjoy that peace, upon which the urban part of the ant-hill world set so little value. When I crossed the channel a little time after the battle of Waterloo, I promised John Hunt to send him some communications for his paper, under the condition of secresy, and I kept my promise.