LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
‣ Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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In the autumn of 1815 Hodgson was ordained to the curacy of Bradden in Northamptonshire, where he took pupils. In less than a year from his ordination, through the influence of his kinsman D’Ewes Coke of Brookhill in Derbyshire, he was presented to the living of Bakewell by the Duke of Rutland, who answered his letter of thanks as follows:—

Brighton: July 18, 1816.

Sir,—I can assure you that it was wholly unnecessary for you to take the trouble of making a formal acknowledgment of the trifling service which it has been in my power lately to render you; and indeed I have my reward in the conviction which I feel,
that in being the cause of your promotion to the vicarage of Bakewell, I am doing an essential benefit to the interest of religion by placing so excellent an incumbent in a living where such a character is highly desirable.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient and humble servant,

Hodgson’s ministry at Bakewell—the metropolis of the Peak, as it has been appropriately designated—lasted for upwards of twenty years, and is still remembered with fondness by several surviving parishioners. Many and lasting were the benefits which by his tact and energy he conferred upon the parish and its neighbourhood.

The first year and a half of the new incumbency was entirely absorbed in clerical duties; but poetical reveries soon returned, and fancy found a congenial sphere of labour in the romantic scenery of the Peak.

In the spring of 1818 a poem entitled the ‘Friends’ was published by John Murray and favourably noticed by the reviews.

Besides the delineation of a friendship pure and unalloyed by selfish ambitions, this poem contains
many very beautiful descriptive passages. Some of the most remarkable features in the scenery of Derbyshire, of Devonshire, and of Wales are portrayed with picturesque simplicity, and the mutual interests of the friends are made the occasion for introducing comments upon literature and science.

Among those who pronounced favourable opinions on the ‘Friends’ were Byron and Gifford, the latter of whom liked it better than any other of Hodgson’s compositions.

Later in this year (1818) appeared another poem, entitled ‘Childe Harold’s Monitor, or Lines occasioned by the last Canto of Childe Harold, including Hints to other Contemporaries.’ This satire is declared by the ‘Monthly’ to display much spirit, sound sense, and judicious criticism. Its general drift and purpose are explained to be an endeavour to counteract the existing tendency to conceits and extravagances, and to induce a closer adherence to classic models.

In the notes particular attention is called to some of the more recent defects of style noticeable in Lord Byron’s latest poems, while due honour is paid to several passages of especial power and beauty. The Monitor’s jealous regard for the poetic fame of his friend led him to reprove unsparingly the imperfections of the period by which he fancied that even
Byron, whom he elsewhere denominates the first of living minstrels, had been infected.

Although Harold (he writes) has ever been a chartered libertine of language, yet his former Spenserian vagaries and obsolete quaintnesses were occasional and venial indeed compared to his later and more systematic violation of the true tone of poetic diction, to his rambling metaphysical sentences of broken prose, borrowed from some of the most worthless of his contemporaries. . . . That magnificent and sublime poetical abstraction, the third canto of ‘Childe Harold,’ is throughout disfigured by these newly adopted affectations; ‘Manfred’ absolutely teems with them; and even the ‘Lament of Tasso,’ of the correct, the classical Tasso, breathes too much of this sort of rambling, familiar, prosaic versification; which if it is not an exhalation from the Limbo of Vanity, ought, assuredly, to be wafted thither from our purified atmosphere. . . . There are few things more mortifying to a sincere lover of poetry than the overclouding of a splendid passage by some sudden shade of vicious metre or defective language. That Harold’s occasional images, even in his idlest moments, are as brilliant as ever, nobody can deny; but long indulgence and the unaccountable imita-
tion of inferior writers (like the bird who spoils his own natural melody by catching the discordant notes of his neighbours) have, assuredly, deteriorated his style to a most lamentable degree. Thus the far-famed description of Beauty pleading for Peace in the arms of War, in the first book of ‘
Lucretius,’ is imitated by Harold in his fourth canto; and, in the midst of some very fine writing, we are frozen and burnt at once with the Italian conceit of an ‘urn’ showering out kisses, ‘lava kisses,’ upon the unfortunate homicide in question. Concerning ‘Beppo’ the less that is said the better.

As specimens of Harold’s purer style, his Monitor quotes with cordial admiration the sublime verses on Rome and her vanished greatness, and the beautiful picture of the Apollo Belvedere in the fourth canto of the ‘Pilgrimage,’ the former being considered his chef-d’œuvre. When referring to his earlier poems, Hodgson thus notices the lines on Newstead quoted in a former chapter:—
Not this thy note in youth’s aspiring day,
When holy Newstead claim’d thy filial lay;
And through her venerable turrets heard
A musical, a melancholy bird,
A nightingale o£ sadness breathed the strain,
For days of glory ne’er to dawn again.
Chap. viii. p. 198.
A fitting tribute is also paid to the grandeur of the descriptions of the ocean, about which there is declared to be a freshness, a life, a tumult, a majesty that could only be inspired by the deepest admiration of the sea and all its glories.

On the recklessness of speculation and the want of moral tone and purpose noticeable in so many contemporary writings, and tending to inspire a contempt for all obligations which must be unfavourable to morality and happiness, Hodgson comments with a severity which might with advantage be applied to more modern productions. The recollection, he writes, of everyone will suggest an ample quantity of plays, poems, and novels to justify this strain of satire; and again: ‘If besides the foreign stock of irreligious energy, selfish sensibility, and adorned licentiousness imported into our literature in the most popular works alluded to above, disgracefully imitated by many of our own authors, we take into consideration the influence of scientific and philosophical writings (falsely so called) which have so frequently been debased into vehicles of immoral poison, it will be difficult to estimate the degree of mischief done to society by the extrava-
gant and guilty compositions of that exotic genius which, in these later days, has been transfused into England. While every age and class, and particularly the young of both sexes, have been taught by the former publications to sympathise with the misfortunes of courageous scoundrels and interesting adulteresses; in the latter, the pert sciolist and the soidisant philosopher have imbibed little messes of scepticism, exactly cooked to the capacity of their digestion; and the exploded arguments of earlier infidels have been presented to the ignorant anew, under the unsuspected shape of lectures or of essays. The well-earned praise, so universally bestowed upon the popular writings here alluded to, is of itself a reason for plainly pointing out their great and pervading defect. If they might not have been written in the best days of heathen morality, it is only because they have derived an unacknowledged improvement from that Christianity, which, with an equal want of candour, wisdom, and piety, they studiously endeavour to exclude from their ample extent. Considered merely as pictures of life, drawn in the present century, and in the most favoured part of the world, they must, with all their merits, be pronounced imperfect pictures; for (thank God) our country is not that region of professed impiety which
these entertaining and clever productions would seem to imply. Should any readers be startled at this charge against a favourite author, let them consider whether a studiously attempted exclusion of all religious motives, feelings, and principles from a vast variety of characters, does not justify what has here been hazarded on the subject. It is, however, with sincere satisfaction observed that in the last of these works there are indications of a maturer and happier reflection.’

Some subsequent lines on Pope elicit the following remarks from the ‘Literary Journal’ in its review of ‘Childe Harold’s Monitor’:—‘No passage in the little work before us has struck us as more strongly marked with that nervous poetry, and varied, correct, and bold and tuneful versification, which characterises this poem than the one in which the author attempts to rescue Pope from the incessant sneers with which the reputation of that great writer is at present assailed. Our poet, in this place, as in many others, works like a master. He has felt that, as the “sound should be an echo to the sense,” so, as a more general rule, the thoughts, the versification, the feeling, the style, and the imagery should have an aggregate correspondence with the subject. He has felt that to vindicate in verse the verse of Pope it was proper that the critic
should show even himself to be a poet worthy of the task upon his hands, and also that he should artfully win upon us, in behalf of his favourite, by bringing him and his manner to our recollection.’

Soon after the publication of these poems, Byron wrote two letters from Ravenna, which not only evince the continued cordiality of his friendship, but afford a pleasing proof of the kindliness with which he received adverse criticism from a friend, and of that quieter and more chastened spirit which appears to have influenced the last few years of his existence upon earth.

Ravenna: 10bre 22, 1820.

My dear Hodgson,—My sister tells me that you desire to hear from me. I have not written to you since I left England, nearly five years ago. I have no excuse for this silence except laziness, which is none. Where I am my date will tell you; what I have been doing would but little interest you, as it regards another country and another people, and would be almost speaking another language, for my own is not quite so familiar to me as it used to be.

We have here the sepulchre of Dante and the forest of Dryden and Boccaccio, all in very poetical
preservation. I ride and write, and have here some Italian friends and connections of both sexes, horses and dogs, and the usual means and appliances of life, which passes chequered as usual (and with all) with good and evil. Few English pass by this place, and none remain, which renders it a much more eligible residence for a man who would rather see them in England than out of it; they are best at home; for out of it they but raise the prices of the necessaries and vices of other countries, and carry little back to their own, except such things as you have lately seen and heard of in the
Queen’s trial.

Your friend Denman is making a figure. I am glad of it; he had all the auguries of a superior man about him before I left the country. Hobhouse is a Radical, and is doing great things in that somewhat violent line of politics. His intellect will bear him out; but, though I do not disapprove of his cause, I by no means envy him his company. Our friend Scrope is dished, diddled, and done up; what he is our mutual friends have written to me somewhat more coldly than I think our former connections with him warrant: but where he is I know not, for neither they nor he have informed me. Remember me to Harry
Drury. He wrote to me a year ago to subscribe to the Harrow New School erection; but my name has not now value enough to be placed among my old schoolfellows, and as to the trifle which can come from a solitary subscriber, that is not worth mentioning. Some zealous politicians wrote to me to come over to the Queen’s trial; it was a business with which I should have been sorry to have had anything to do; in which they who voted her guilty cut but a dirty figure. . . . Such a coroner’s inquest upon criminal conversation has nothing very alluring in it, and I was obliged to her for personal civilities (when in England), and would therefore rather avoid sitting in judgment upon her, either for guilt or innocence, as it is an ungracious office.

Murray sent me your ‘Friends,’ which I thought very good and classical. The scoundrels of scribblers are trying to run down Pope, but I hope in vain. It is my intention to take up the cudgels in that controversy, and to do my best to keep the Swan of Thames in his true place. This comes of Southey and Wordsworth and such renegado rascals with their systems. I hope you will not be silent; it is the common concern of all men of common sense, imagination, and a musical ear.
I have already written somewhat thereto and shall do more, and will not strike soft blows in a battle. You will have seen that the ‘
Quarterly’ has had the sense and spirit to support Pope in an article upon Bowles; it is a good beginning. I do not know the author of that article, but I suspect Israeli, 1 an indefatigable and an able writer. What are you about—poetry? I direct to Bakewell, but I do not know for certain. To save you a double letter, I close this with the present sheet.

Yours ever,
Ravenna: May 12, 1821.

Dear Hodgson,—At length your two poems have been sent. I have read them over (with the notes) with great pleasure. I receive your compliments kindly and your censures temperately, which I suppose is all that can be expected among poets. Your poem is, however, excellent, and if not popular only proves that there is a fortune in fame as in everything else in this world. Much, too, depends upon a publisher, and much upon luck; and the number of writers is such, that as the mind of a reader can only contain a certain quantum of

1 Isaac D’Israeli, father of the present Premier.

poetry and poets’ glories, he is sometimes saturated, and allows many good dishes to go away untouched (as happens at great dinners), and this not from fastidiousness but fulness.

You will have seen from my pamphlet on Bowles that our opinions are not very different. Indeed, my modesty would naturally look at least bashfully on being termed the ‘first of living minstrels’ (by a brother of the art) if both our estimates of ‘living minstrels’ in general did not leaven the praise to a sober compliment. It is something like the priority in a retreat. There is but one of your ‘tests’ which is not infallible: Translation. There are three or four French translations, and several German and Italian which I have seen. Moore wrote to me from Paris months ago that ‘the French had caught the contagion of Byronism to the highest pitch,’ and has written since to say that nothing was ever like their ‘entusymusy’ (you remember Braham) on the subject, even through the ‘slaver of a prose translation:’ these are his words. The Paris translation is also very inferior to the Geneva one, which is really fair, although in prose also. So you see that your test of ‘translateable or not’ is not so sound as could be wished. It is no pleasure, however, you may suppose, to be
criticised through such a translation, or indeed through any. I give up ‘
Beppo,’ though you know that it is no more than an imitation of Pulci and of a style common and esteemed in Italy. I have just published a drama, which is at least good English, I presume, for Gifford lays great stress on the purity of its diction.

I have been latterly employed a good deal more on politics than on anything else, for the Neapolitan treachery and desertion have spoilt all our hopes here, as well as our preparations. The whole country was ready. Of course I should not have sate still with my hands in my breeches’ pockets. In fact they were full; that is to say, the hands. I cannot explain further now, for obvious reasons, as all letters of all people are opened. Some day or other we may have a talk over that and other matters. In the meantime there did not want a great deal of my having to finish like Lara.

Are you doing nothing? I have scribbled a good deal in the early part of last year, most of which scrawls will now be published, and part is, I believe, actually printed. Do you mean to sit still about Pope? If you do, it will be the first time. I have got such a headache from a cold and swelled face, that I must take a gallop into the forest and
jumble it into torpor. My horses are waiting. So good-bye to you.

Yours ever,
Two hours after the Ave Maria, the Italian
date of twilight.

Dear Hodgson,—I have taken my canter, and am better of my headache. I have also dined, and turned over your notes. In answer to your note of page 90 I must remark from Aristotle and Rymer, that the hero of tragedy and (I add meo pericolo) a tragic poem must be guilty, to excite ‘terror and pity’, the end of tragic poetry. But hear not me, but my betters. ‘The pity which the poet is to labour for is for the criminal. The terror is likewise in the punishment of the said criminal, who, if he be represented too great an offender, will not be pitied; if altogether innocent his punishment will be unjust.’ 1 In the Greek Tragedy innocence is unhappy often, and the offender escapes. I must also ask you is Achilles a good character? or is even Æneas anything but a successful runaway? It is for Turnus men feel and not for the Trojan. Who is the hero of ‘Paradise Lost’? Why Satan,—and

1 Dryden’s Life, Johnson’s Lives, page 203, &c.

Macbeth, and Richard, and Othello, Pierre, and Lothario, and Zanga? If you talk so I shall ‘cut you up like a gourd,’ as the Mamelukes say. But never mind, go on with it.

In a letter to Drury, Hodgson writes:—

I have lately heard from Byron. He wrote in the best manner of old, a letter equally good-humoured and clever. How exquisitely amusing is part of his letter about poor Bowles! Yet in many parts of the real argument Bowles, I think, has decidedly the best.

In this celebrated letter of Byron on the ‘Pope and Bowles Controversy,’ an opinion is expressed on the merits of the school of poetry to which Hodgson belonged, which may not be considered inappropriate to the present chapter.

The disciples of Pope were Johnson, Goldsmith, Rogers, Campbell, Crabbe, Gifford, etc., to whom may be added Heber, Bland, Hodgson, Merivale, and others, who have not had their full fame because the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, and because there is a fortune in fame as in all other things. . . . I will
conclude with two quotations, both intended for some of my old classical friends, who have still enough of Cambridge about them to think themselves honoured by having had
John Dryden as a predecessor in their college, and to recollect that their earliest English poetical pleasures were drawn from ‘the little nightingale of Twickenham.’ The first is from the notes of the poem of the ‘Friends.’ ‘It is only within the last twenty or thirty years that those notable discoveries in criticism have been made which have taught our recent versifiers to undervalue this energetic, melodious, and moral poet. The consequences of this want of due esteem for a writer whom the good sense of our predecessors had raised to his proper station have been numerous and degrading enough. This is not the place to enter into the subject, even as far as it affects our poetical numbers alone, and there is matter of more importance which requires present reflection.’ 1

These sentiments Byron himself endorses with his customary emphasis in a letter to Murray quoted by Moore:—

1 This note is on the following line:—
‘And Dulness thrives, for Pope is now no more.’


I have read Hodgson’sFriends.’ He is right in defending Pope against the bastard pelicans of the poetical winter day, who add insult to their parricide by sucking the blood of the parent of English real poetry—poetry without fault—and then spurning the bosom which fed them!

Hodgson writes again in a similar strain in a note to another poem entitled ‘Sæculo Mastix,’ and published a year later than the ‘Friends’:—

The irreconcilable enmity of all dullards, past, present, and to come, against the brilliant wit of Pope is the true secret of the impotent attacks upon that unassailable reputation. ‘The strong antipathy of good to bad’ did not more distinctly separate his higher qualities from the mean-spirited and dishonourable than his rapid and bright imagination opposed him to the slow, the heavy, and the stupid. They howled at his light, as a dog howls at the moon; and (as suggested by Warburton) gave equal evidence to its lustre.

Sæculo Mastix;’ or, ‘The Lash of the Age we Live in,’ was a severe but temperate satire on the many and various vices which disgraced the first decade of the present century. Its object was the reformation of Religion, Literature, and Society by
exposing in their true colours the most notorious defects of each; and its design includes many wise suggestions, some of which have long since been adopted. Among those which have received more recent recognition may be mentioned a proposal to convene a general convocation of the clergy for the settlement of more important subjects of current discussion, after the manner of the modern Church Congress. To such assemblies a very common objection is anticipated. ‘Oh! you would open the door to all sorts of disputes,’ To this objection
Hodgson sensibly replies: ‘Unfortunately the door is opened already; and it is to settle such disputes for ever, within the pale of the Establishment, that the measure seems advisable. Will it be denied that the present Articles of the Church of England are interpreted in a diametrically opposite sense by numbers of her own members? Is it not possible, by revision, most patient and most cautious, and by adaptation of these Elizabethan sentences to the present frame and character of the English language, to prevent the possibility of subscription by any Jesuitical interpreters; and to brand with everlasting infamy those who dare to preach against the doctrines of the Church into which they have solemnly entered?’ ‘Aye, but the Doctrines themselves.’ ‘Well, let them be examined
by the most competent judges; let the history of the Reformation be thoroughly canvassed; and let the reference to the whole contexture and spirit of the New Testament be full and frequent. The result no real lover of the Church of England can anticipate with any other feelings than those of hope and humble exaltation. Meanwhile,
“Mussat Doctrina,” Fidesque
Vera timet.’

The concluding sentence of the notes strikes the key-note of the poem in the expression of an earnest wish that, while innovation on the one hand may cease to be mistaken for amendment, on the other no obstinate adherence to every outward feature of old institutions may retard their restoration to their real design and character.

Soon after Byron’s first letter to Hodgson from Ravenna, Mrs. Leigh writes from London:—

St. James’s Palace: February 7, 1821.

Dear Mr. Hodgson,—I have received the book through Murray, a short time after the arrival of your kind letter. Whenever I have had anything to forward Mr. Murray has been my resource, and I suppose there can be no objection to my sending it through him, not saying from whom I received it,
as I have often those sorts of commissions. I have sent to ask him if he knows of any early opportunity, and pray never suppose that apology is needful, for making me either of use or comfort, if that is possible. I do not know a word as to
B.’s probabilities of remaining or not at Ravenna. He has not lately said anything to me of his intentions on those subjects, but I recommend you to direct your letter to him there paste restante, or I will enclose it in one of mine if you please. Many thanks, dear Mr. H., for your kindness in giving me such early information of the pleasing contents of your despatch from B. I wish he communicated more frequently with one who is so truly his friend, but I look upon his doing so now as a good symptom among some others which I have lately remarked. Whether it amounts to more than being in good humour I cannot determine; but I am (luckily for myself) of a hoping disposition, and I trust it is. not presumptuous to do so in this instance.

I am so hurried for post, having been interrupted, that I can only say, truly yours,

A. L.

In 1816, soon after Hodgson’s appointment to the vicarage of Bakewell, Byron had written to Moore
(with whom Hodgson had already a slight acquaintance) in a vein of mingled cordiality and banter, which was not uncommon to him.

I hear that Hodgson is your neighbour, having a living in Derbyshire. You will find him an excellent-hearted fellow, as well as one of the cleverest; a little, perhaps, too much japanned by preferment in the Church and the tuition of youth, as well as inoculated with the disease of domestic felicity, besides being over-run with fine feelings about woman and constancy (that small change of love, which people exact so rigidly, receive in such counterfeit coin, and repay in baser metal); but otherwise, a very worthy man, who has lately got a pretty wife, and (I suppose) a child by this time. Pray remember me to him, and say that I know not which to envy most—his neighbourhood, him, or you.

The result of this communication was a correspondence between Moore and Hodgson, carried on in a desultory manner for some years, of which some remaining letters may be found interesting. The first two refer to the publication of ‘Lalla Rookh.’

Ashbourne: March 6, 1817.

My dear Sir,—I received your letter yesterday evening on my return from town, where I have been for these ten days past, giving myself up ‘à tous les diables’ of Paternoster Row. I corrected a proof sheet before I left town, so you may imagine the nervousness of my situation, as they say I must be out early in May. Do pray to your friends the Muses for my safe deliverance. Nothing could give me greater pleasure than the visit you propose, but every moment here will be occupied till our departure, which must be on Tuesday next. I am desired, however, by my friend, Mr. John Cooper (with whom we are housed at present), to say that it will make him most happy to see you here to a dinner and a bed on Monday next, and I most anxiously hope you will accept of his invitation, as it is the only chance I shall have of seeing you for Heaven knows how long. Pray come, and come early that we may have a walk and talk together. I have had four or five letters from Lord Byron within these two months past. He is now at Venice, and speaks much and warmly in his letters about you.

Hornsey: June 12, 1817.

My dear Sir,—Your letter has given me very great pleasure, both from the welcome things it contains about my book and the proof it affords that you are not angry with me for my seeming neglect of the first with which you favoured me. But I was really so hard run as I approached the goal (having gone to press with about a fourth of the book unwritten) that I had not a minute to give for love or money, and was obliged to trust to the good nature of my friends for forgiveness of the numberless omissions I was guilty of.

It indeed delights me to find that you are pleased with the Poems. Praise from you is fame, and I feel it accordingly. You will be glad too, I am sure, to hear that I sell well, which is, after all, the great test of success. No matter how good the blood is, if it doesn’t circulate, it’s all over with the patient. But I am revising now for a third edition!

Our friend Byron’sManfred’ will be out in a few days. It is wilder than his wildest. ‘Enter Seven Spirits.’ A friend of mine supplied their names, ‘Rum, Brandy, Hollands,’ &c., &c. Glorious things in it though, as there needs must in
whatever he writes. What do you think of the following quiet image for one of your sermons?—
The sea of Hell,
. . . which beats upon a living shore,
Heap’d with the damn’d like pebbles.

He does not seem now to think of coming home. Has he written to you?

We are romancing about a trip to Derbyshire in the autumn. If we realise it, how happy shall I be to bring Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Hodgson acquainted!

Ever yours very sincerely,
Thomas Moore.

The following characteristic fragment was written after a visit to Stoke,1 near Bakewell, where Mrs. Robert Arkwright (née Fanny Kemble) was then living. Hodgson had translated the ‘Meeting of the Ships’ into Latin verse:—

How admirably you have Romanised my ‘Ships’! I assure you it gives the verses a consequence in my eyes they never wore before. A thousand thanks to Mrs. Hodgson for the pretty air, which brought the pianoforte at Stoke (with her stealing

1 A house most picturesquely situated among the Derbyshire hills.

out of the corner to play it) vividly before my eyes. I wish I had such neighbours to sing to. I have not sung to such an audience as I had at Stoke (even taking into account two or three duchesses, etc. that lent me their ears after I left you) ever since we parted.

Hodgson’s copious powers of conversation and his genial, courteous manners made him a general favourite in society, and he was frequently an honoured guest at Chatsworth, with whose princely owner he maintained a cordial friendship for upwards of thirty years. Mrs. Arkwright amusingly describes his popularity in a letter to his wife written about this time.

My dear Mrs. Hodgson,—I send you the cake I promised and a brace of partridges, which I hope will prove better than the unfortunate moor game. We dined at Chatsworth yesterday, and I heard of nothing from all the party severally but Mr. Hodgson. The cutting of his hair had not deprived him of the power of his mind. They were all delighted with him, as I knew they would be; and the duke told me he regretted having lost a great deal of his conversation, but that the ladies had torn him from him, and he cannot hear unless one
is close to him.1 He said they one and all beset him, and never lost sight of him again for a moment. But when we meet I will tell you all. In great haste,

Believe me yours very truly,
F. Arkwright.

Among Hodgson’s neighbours and correspondents at this period was James Montgomery, the Moravian poet of Sheffield, whose labours in the cause of freedom, and the grace and sweetness of whose lyrical compositions, deserved a more general recognition than they received from his contemporaries. His verses the ‘Grave,’ beginning with those touching lines, which are probably far better known than their author—
There is a calm for those who weep,
A rest for weary pilgrims found;
They softly lie and sweetly sleep
Low in the ground—
are perhaps more often quoted than any other of his productions. But in the ‘
Wanderer of Switzerland,’ the ‘World before the Flood,’ and many shorter pieces, there are many passages which, while they

1 The late Duke of Devonshire was distressingly afflicted with deafness.

breathe a spirit of fervent piety, are not wanting in poetical fire, and are sufficient to rescue their writer from oblivion. When Hodgson became acquainted with him Montgomery was editing the ‘
Sheffield Iris,’ a paper which strenuously advocated all measures conducive to the amelioration of the condition of the poorer classes, and he had twice been imprisoned for publications which in those days of restricted thought and narrow-minded prejudice were summarily adjudged to be libellous. Hodgson was not slow to perceive the rare merit of a poetical genius which had received such scanty appreciation from more common minds; and his well-timed sympathy was warmly welcomed by the sensitive and earnestly pious disposition of his brother-bard. An ode on the restoration of Greek independence, that soul-stirring cause in which Byron was so soon destined to lose his life, was sent by Hodgson as a contribution to the ‘Iris,’ and elicited the following letter from Montgomery:—

Sheffield: April 16, 1822.

Rev. and dear Sir,—I did not acknowledge the kindness of your former letter, enclosing the spirited ode to ‘the glorious Greeks,’ because I would not unnecessarily trouble you, and I hoped that some opportunity might fall in my way of personally
expressing my sense of the obligation. At the concert—where I had the pleasure to meet you—this was upon my mind; and if my face could speak, I am sure your eye would have heard it say ‘thank you,’ though in the hurry of that strange evening, when, under considerable bodily indisposition, both intellect and senses were bewildered with the enchantment of
Catalani’s song, the words which I meant to utter before we parted never reached my tongue, and you were vanished before I discovered, as usual, that with the best intentions in the world I do everything either in the worst manner or not at all. Your second letter, accompanying another patriotic ode—for patriotic it is from a scholar, the country of whose heart is Greece; Greece in her glory, and Greece fallen, and above all Greece about to rise again with the spirit that animated her of old—your second letter, I say, accompanying that ode, and manifesting equal friendliness towards one whom you only know in his most advantageous disguise, that of an author, requires an explicit expression of gratitude, and this should have been offered by the return of your messenger, had I been at home when your favour arrived. I take, therefore, the earliest opportunity after my return from Liverpool, where I was last
week, to say that I am deeply your debtor for the spontaneous and unmerited cordiality of your invitation to better acquaintance. Should any occasion lead me into your neighbourhood, I shall be happy to call and acknowledge personally the feelings which such kindness could not fail to awaken in one who is tremblingly sensitive to ‘every touch of joy or woe,’ but who is exceedingly—nervously—miserably, I may say—shy and fearful to meet countenances which he does not see every day—even those of old friends and near relatives. But I must not tell you all my folly and weakness at once; you will soon see me through and through, for I am as transparent and as frail too as a bubble, and if I am but touched unexpectedly I break. I know you will forgive me if I say, in the ode which I have sent, that I shrink from the sentiment so boldly and poetically expressed in the third stanza. The lines perhaps are the best in the whole piece, but yet I wish you to alter them for reasons which I need not explain—indeed which I cannot explain, except by saying that the unqualified presumption that all who die in a good and glorious cause are raised to ‘eternal heaven’ may be very much misunderstood. The doctrine would be literally orthodox on the side of
the Turks; but I fear that it might be dangerous to affirm (though only under poetical license) the same on the part of Christians, who may certainly be heroes and martyrs in the cause of their country, but who are not therefore, without some higher preparation of heart, made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. The frankness with which I mention this will prove that if you honour me with your friendship and confidence, I shall not abuse it by meanness or insincerity. Will you then have the goodness to reconsider this stanza; and if you adopt fame or glory, etc. for heaven, I doubt not you may support the verse with equal dignity, and give no offence to timid consciences like mine; and I am neither afraid nor ashamed to confess that in things relating to eternity and the issues of human life in reference to an immortal state hereafter, my conscience is timid. Should you adopt this recommendation, I shall with pleasure adorn a column of the ‘Iris’ with your splendid lines. Meanwhile I am, with great respect and esteem,

Your obliged friend and servant,
J. Montgomery.

Among other subjects of mutual interest a curious comparison was made by Montgomery between the
mental calibre of the Athenian people in the days of
Pericles, and that of the peasantry who inhabit the ancient district of the great county of York, still known as Hallamshire. Hodgson, whose knowledge of north countrymen was considerably increased by subsequent experience, had, at this time, a strong and very natural prejudice in favour of the Athenians—a prejudice met by Montgomery with arguments which do equal credit to his benevolence and his patriotism. Whether his opinions are justified by general observation must be left to the decision of the reader.

Reverend and dear Sir,—If the will were always to be taken for the deed, I believe I should be set down for the best correspondent in the world, but if the will must be judged by the deed, assuredly I should pass for the worst; and yet in neither case would my friends do justice to themselves or me, for in the first they would have nothing to forgive, and in the second would forgive nothing. I cannot stay to explain the ambiguity of this introduction, for I must proceed at once to state the case of debtor and creditor, as it stands in my mind, between you and me, on the subject of a very kind and valuable letter, received from you in February last. I wished—for Fortunatus himself was not a heartier wisher than I am, only not having his cap
I cannot have my desire without a further effort—I wished to answer that letter immediately, and I thought that I could thus have answered effectually your very powerful objections against some hazardous assertions of mine on the comparative state of intelligence between the ancient people of Athens and the men of Hallamshire in the present day. But at the very time, I was suddenly called upon to prepare, at a few days’ notice, an opening lecture for our Institution. This, of course, occupied my time intensely during the interval, and was no small performance, for it took upwards of two hours in the delivery, and yet comprehended only half the subject which I had meditated, and sketched out in the rough draft. No sooner was this task completed, than I was required by the Leeds Institution to furnish a paper which I had long promised. Accordingly I set to work, and produced an essay nearly as long as my Sheffield lecture. Your idle fellows work hardest when they are put to it, as cowards fight most fiercely when there is no escape. Idleness is my constitutional and, by long indulgence, my habitual infirmity also; so that I always toil like a galley-slave, or sleep like an Indian when there is neither battle nor chace to rouse him into activity. When I had achieved this second Hercu-
lean feat for a pigmy mind, I really was so tired that I determined to lie down and rest a while, let who would disturb me with claims or duties unfulfilled. Since then I have been continually, and sometimes overwhelmingly, exercised with other engagements, not directly literary, but such as have required study and personal exertion, till both thought and feeling, strength and courage, have seemed to fail, and I have been ready to renounce everything beyond the more ordinary drudgery of newspaper editing. This is an honest confession of the employment of my time since the receipt of your letter, except that I have omitted to inform you that the said letter has lain on my desk or been within reach of my hand all the while, and I have often as resolutely purposed to answer it forthwith, as I have impotently wished that I had answered it. This morning, having a few minutes thrown upon my hands, which I was grievously tempted to throw away after millions of their predecessors, in doing next to nothing—for nothing itself I cannot do with all my powers of indolence—your letter suddenly cried out from under the litter of papers that covered it, and demanded justice; its voice, which had often been raised in vain on like occasions, was not to be resisted, and I in-
stantly complied; the more readily, I must acknowledge, because I had long ago abandoned the first idea of formally replying to your objections, and vindicating my sentiments. With the same freedom, therefore, as the former were offered by you, I will make such remarks as occur in noticing them here. I must, however, state, that a few days after the receipt of your favour, I sent a verbal acknowledgment of it by
Dr. Knight, who incidentally told me that he expected to see you soon, and it was with the less uneasiness of conscience that I deferred a written reply till a more convenient opportunity. Dr. Knight perhaps forgot to deliver my message, and I never inquired after the fate of it. I only mention the circumstance to show that not from the remotest deficiency either of respect or gratitude have I remained so long, and perhaps so unpardonably, under the suspicion of both, unless you have exercised the charity of hoping the best when only the worst appeared. Better late than never, you may yet be kind enough to think.

You are aware, and I pretend not to conceal it, that in the argument which I held on the occasion alluded to I was taking the part of an advocate, whose duty it was to show to the utmost advantage
the cause of his clients without the wilful violation of truth or justice. The merits and claims of the Hallamshire people I therefore advanced as boldly as I durst, while those of the ancients were only contingently introduced; and though they were acknowledged to be transcendent, their superiority was lowered as much as appeared to me consistent with fact, if not with the general favourable prejudice, which all who are acquainted with Greek and Roman history, but especially the learned, feel. In the latter class, of course, I include you; and, though you may deem it miserable logic, I am disposed to contend that you, with an intimate acquaintance and enthusiastic admiration of the reliques of classic literature, have a bias on that side of the question which disqualifies you from being a perfectly impartial judge, especially when I consider that you are comparatively a stranger to the state of intelligence among a population such as that in this neighbourhood. For more than thirty years I have had opportunities of observing the indications of this with no ordinary advantage, both under political and religious excitement. You will acknowledge that into whatever extravagances weak men may be deluded on either religion or politics, no two topics are calculated so
suddenly and so greatly to awaken and exercise the faculties of persons not early or severely disciplined by a college education. The occupations of many of our artisans are favourable to thought, and the bodily exercise of these is not such as to enervate those who use it. Now, I have witnessed, formerly in political and latterly in religious assemblies, nearly similar effects of popular eloquence on the minds of all gradations of our artisans as you refer to in the case of the Athenians under Pericles. It is not so uncommon a thing as mere scholars imagine, for men in middling and humble life to enjoy and to understand intellectual displays far above their own power of imitating, particularly when they come in the captivating form of eloquence, with all its adventitious accompaniments at once speaking to the eye, and the ear, and the mind. Pure English is intelligible among all the peasantry from Berwick to Penzance, though not one in ten could speak a sentence in it. This is a fact almost entirely overlooked by authors and play-writers, who imagine that they must address the vulgar in the vulgar tongue. In like manner, the meaning of the finest argument may be perfectly comprehended by ordinary minds accustomed to thinking
for themselves in however humble a way; and the most elegant diction will yield genuine delight to a popular audience of whom few, perhaps, could express themselves grammatically. Nay, persons of very mean capacity can frequently distinguish in common discourse between a good pronunciation, that is habitual to the speaker, and an affected one in a half-learned coxcomb; and they will instinctively prefer the former. There appears, therefore, nothing very extraordinary in an Athenian audience hanging with rapture on the tongue of a splendid and energetic orator, especially when we consider the corrupt and servile character of that ‘fierce democratic’ (notwithstanding their passion for glory), who of all the people of antiquity, except, perhaps, the later Romans, were the readiest dupes and sycophants to any who could pay the price of enslaving them. The bulk of the actual population were literally slaves, and the rest were virtually so, in the best days of Greece. The vulgar also were held in avowed contempt by the learned, which makes little in favour of popular intelligence.

My own firm opinion is that among the ‘thinking part,’ and it is now no small one, of the people in this country, especially among religious persons,
there is more practical and influential knowledge than could be possessed by any heathen populace. This might require a great deal of illustration (not by argument so much as facts) to convince one who has not been long and intimately conversant with this numerous and increasing proportion of our countrymen. This I have been, and this, it is no disparagement to you as a minister in the Church to say, you have not. You know these people only by report and by books. Through such media they cannot be well known. I have never pretended to compare those who are or have been great in Hallamshire with the truly great and glorious names of antiquity. I have only ventured the opinion that the middling and lower classes here are, on the average, quite equal in intelligence to the corresponding ranks in Greece and Rome, and, so far as they can be put in competition, I believe history will bear me out. I am compelled to break off here.

Believe me truly and ever your obliged friend and servant,

J. Montgomery.

P.S.—With respect to Greek Tragedy, I think that the best parts of Shakespeare would surely be
as good a test, both of taste and moral feeling, in an audience, as those of
Sophocles; and, from my recollection, the gallery critics of Sheffield were wont to applaud most what was best. No objection to the irregularity of Shakespeare’s drama will invalidate this. Even you would not argue that because French audiences can bear cold declamation in an artificial tone for hours together, that they are therefore more virtuous and intelligent than Englishmen who can appreciate the exquisite nature and pathos of their own old writers, when brought home to them by the consummate acting of John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons.

I don’t expect that you will be at the trouble of answering this rhapsody; it will be quite enough if you read and forgive it.