LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Chapter I. 1803-1805.

Vol. I Contents
‣ Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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Rogers at St. James’s Place—His Poetical Contemporaries—His Social Position—His Friends—Reasons for his choice of a Bachelor Life—Gilpin’s Last Letter—R. Bloomfield—Walter Scott—Journey to Scotland—Visit to Wordsworth—Coleridge’s first Impressions of Rogers—Burns’s Grave—Glasgow in 1803—‘Man of Feeling’ Mackenzie—Francis Horner—Mackintosh—Sydney Smith—‘To a Girl Asleep’—Southey’s ‘Madoc’—Scott’s ‘Lay’—The Young Roscius—Rogers and Dr. Burney—Windham—Rogers and T. Moore’s ‘ever-memorable party.’

Samuel Rogers was just forty years old when he finally settled down to bachelor life in his beautiful house in St. James’s Place. He had been born at Stoke Newington in 1763, the third son of his father. His eldest brother, Daniel Rogers, had incurred his father’s severe displeasure by marrying his cousin, and had settled down as a country gentleman. His next elder brother, Thomas Rogers, had died in his twenty-seventh year, and in 1793 his father had followed to the grave. At thirty, therefore, Samuel Rogers had found himself the head of the firm, into which, only nine years before, he had been introduced
as the youngest of five partners. He had an ample income from a well-established business, which every year needed less and less of his attention, and which was now almost entirely left under the able and conscientious management of his partners, especially of his youngest brother,
Henry Rogers. He had been as fortunate in his literary ambition as in his business arrangements. His chief work, ‘The Pleasures of Memory,’ published early in 1792, had been one of the most popular poems of the time. In eleven years the sale had not slackened, and a new edition, of two thousand—the fourteenth—had just been called for. He had obtained universal recognition as a popular poet, and none of his contemporaries, illustrious as some of them afterwards became, had as yet overshadowed his fame. Campbell had published ‘The Pleasures of Hope,’ written in emulation of the success of ‘The Pleasures of Memory,’ had just composed ‘Lochiel’s Warning’ and ‘Hohenlinden,’ and was on his way to London to devote himself to literature as a profession. Southey had written ‘Thalaba,’ but it had been coolly received; Wordsworth, married in the year before, was writing ‘The Prelude,’ but had only actually published the enlarged edition of ‘Lyrical Ballads;’ Coleridge had composed some of his best poems, but was little known; and was earning his living by writing for the Morning Post. Walter Scott had translated ‘Goetz von Berlichingen,’ and issued ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,’ but was not yet known to fame. Tom Moore, then called ‘Anacreon Moore,’ because he had translated Anacreon, was travelling in America, and Byron was a boy at school. Cowper, who had been three years in his
grave, was regarded as the great poet of the evangelical school, while Rogers was the favourite with society.

It is important to understand Rogers’s literary position at this period if we are in the least to comprehend his social success. The mere possession of a beautiful house in St. James’s Place, even the reputation of having made it the most artistically furnished house in London, would not have enabled him to launch on the remarkable career which was now opening before him. There were many richer men than he who entertained everybody and whose splendid parties were the talk of the town. One of these was Miles Peter Andrews, gunpowder manufacturer, popular dramatist, and Conservative member of Parliament, whose confidence Rogers had shared in the Margate season of 1795, who had bought Lord Grenville’s house and filled his rooms with all the fashion of the time. But Andrews was dead and forgotten when Rogers was, as it were, only on the threshold of his fame. His social success was one of quantity—Rogers’s was of quality. You met at Andrews’s receptions everybody who could pretend to be anybody; you met at Rogers’s table the few whose intellectual distinction made them worth meeting. Dr. Burney, writing of Rogers in May, 1804, says, ‘He gives the best dinners to the best company of men of talents and genius I know;’ and Henry Mackenzie, author of ‘The Man of Feeling,’ writing to Rogers after a visit he had paid him in March of the same year, says, in his self-depreciatory way, that though he can ill participate in, he can fully enjoy, ‘the pleasures of that Society, the Literature, the Science, the Taste which it affords,’ when he is ‘allowed to be of that community.’


I find in one of his early diaries a list of friends and acquaintance, made out apparently at the close of the last century or the beginning of this. It contains nearly a hundred names, and among them are the most representative men and women of the time. Statesmen, men of letters, artists, antiquaries and actors, soldiers, sailors and divines, with literary women and women of fashion, make up the catalogue. Some of them were already eminent, others were then unknown, though they are illustrious now, and some then of the first consideration are now almost forgotten. Fox, Fitzpatrick, Erskine, Windham and Sheridan, Horne Tooke, Mackintosh (not yet Sir James), Lord John Townshend, Courtenay, Lord Northwick, William Lamb (afterwards Lord Melbourne) and Lord Henry Petty (afterwards Lord Lansdowne), Lord Cowper, Lord Richard Spencer, Lord Clifden, Lady Cork, the Grevilles, and Sir F. Burdett were among the friends of these early days. One might have met at his house Mrs. Barbauld and Mrs. Inchbald, Mrs. Siddons and Mrs. Piozzi, Mrs. Damer and Mrs. Crewe (afterwards Lady Crewe). Dr. Moore’s celebrated sons, General (not yet Sir) John Moore and Graham Moore, then only a captain waiting the further opportunity of distinguished service, which came in the summer of 1803, were both friends of their father’s friend. Among other names are those of Gifford, Sotheby, Henry Mackenzie, Dr. Aikin, Richard Cumberland, Payne Knight, Porson and Parr, Mitford the historian, Sir Richard Worsley the historian and antiquary, Joseph Windham the antiquary and artist, Sir William Scott (afterwards Lord Stowell); Francis,
Jekyll the wit, Sargent, Sir George Beaumont, Uvedale Price (afterwards Sir Uvedale), George Ellis, whom Scott praises in ‘Marmion;’ Dr. French Lawrence the friend of Burke, Planta the librarian of the British Museum, Ward (afterwards Lord Dudley), Luttrell, Spencer, Lord Boringdon, Tuffin, Weddell, John Allen, and, at the top of all, Richard Sharp. Tierney, William Smith the member for Norwich, Sir Francis Baring, Grattan, Scarlett, Sydney Smith and Robert Smith (Bobus), are not in the list, though at this period they were among his friends. His brother-in-law Sutton Sharpe, with Maltby, T. Campbell, Hoppner, Carr, Combe, Stothard, Flaxman, Faringdon, W. Lisle Bowles, Bloomfield the poet, Lock the owner of Norbury, Opie, Fuseli, Cosway, with many others, are in a list headed ‘Breakfast.’ He seems to have begun his breakfast parties—to which in later days all the world wished to crowd, and even princes asked for invitations—by gathering together a few of his most intimate friends.

Rogers never deliberately planned the kind of life he lived for so many years in St. James’s Place. I have shown, in telling the story of his early life, that it was after a mental struggle he gave up his suburban home and plunged into the life of London. His ideal was a home where he could lead the life of satisfied desires, surrounding himself with some of the choice spirits of his time. He by no means contemplated final settlement as a bachelor, though he had given up the idea of marriage before he finally determined on the house in St. James’s Place. The letters to his friend Richard Sharp show not only that he was susceptible to the
charms of domestic life, but that on more than one occasion he contemplated marriage. Since the ‘
Early Life’ was published, I have learned that he actually made an offer of marriage to Lavinia Banks, the daughter of his old friend Thomas Banks, the eminent sculptor. Miss Banks married the Rev. Edward Forster in 1798 or 1799; and Mrs. Forster lived on some years longer than Rogers himself. An intimate and affectionate friendship was maintained between them to the close of Rogers’s life; and Mrs. Forster made no secret of the fact that she had refused his offer of marriage when they both were young. The date of her union with Mr. Forster harmonises with that of Rogers’s ‘Lines to a Friend on his Marriage,’ and with ‘The Farewell,’ as well as with hints as to mental suffering in some of the family letters. His precarious health, which had driven him to lodgings at Exmouth in the winter of 1799-1800, probably combined with this disappointment in determining him not to marry; and he seems to have come back with the resolve to accept the lot of loneliness. Some of the letters to his sister Sarah in these volumes show a sort of longing for the companionship of a woman, which her close and constant sisterly affection partially satisfied.

There is a glimpse of an earlier friendship, which may have been something more, in one of the last letters Rogers received from his old and venerable friend and correspondent, the Rev. William Gilpin. ‘The Bishop of Lincoln,’ says Gilpin, writing at the end of 1802, ‘has lodgings in Lymington, and has paid me two or three visits. I showed him your account of France, with
which he was much pleased. . . .
Mrs. Pretyman, who was with him, went upstairs to see Mrs. Gilpin, and after she was gone the Bishop told me his wife had been once acquainted with you; but lately you had not seen each other. He said it, however, in a manner which seemed to me to have some mysterious meaning, and I could not help suspecting she was one of those ladies whom you had sprinkled with the dews of Helicon. . . . She is a very pleasing woman, and was once, I dare say, what in my eye would have been handsome. They were both very well acquainted with your poetry; and the Bishop spoke with much animation of your “Memory.”’ Rogers did not reply; and another letter from Gilpin, early in 1803, brought their long and, to Rogers, useful and interesting correspondence to an end. Gilpin closed his long, busy, energetic, and in many senses heroic life in the succeeding spring.

A letter from the poet of ‘The Farmer’s Boy’—the chief poem Robert Bloomfield had then published—shows that he had long known Rogers and received many benefits from him. Bloomfield had just given up his situation in the Seal Office and gone to the neighbourhood of Shooter’s Hill to recover his health and peace of mind. His family, he says, had been dreadful sufferers from small-pox; and he had in consequence felt most forcibly the importance of the Vaccine discovery, and had written a poem of about four hundred lines on the subject, which had pleased Mr. Capel Lofft, and which Dr. Drake had approved. The poem was now to be sent to Rogers and to Dr. Jenner for their judgment on it. Bloomfield adds, ‘I hear that you inquired after
me at
Mr. Stothard’s. Thank you, sir, for this, and every kind remembrance; this sweet kind of friendship springs up like a fountain in a desert; it is inexpressibly gratifying. By the bye, I have [in] a small piece called “Barnham Water,” something on the subject which I should like you to see.’ Bloomfield never fully recovered his health, and some years after this letter was written, Rogers exerted himself to procure a pension for him. He was three years younger than Rogers, and died in 1823.

Two of the most illustrious names in English literature were added to Rogers’s list of personal friends in the year in which he took up his abode in St. James’s Place. In the spring Walter Scott had paid a visit to London, and had been introduced to Rogers, probably by Mackintosh. In the summer Rogers and his sister Sarah set out on a tour to Scotland, his first journey thither since the memorable time when he had made the acquaintance of Adam Smith, Robertson, Blair, Henry Mackenzie, and the Piozzis, in one week in July, 1789.1 A brief diary of this journey shows that they set off by the north road through St. Albans on the 24th of July, and slept the first night at Newport Pagnell. On the way to Northampton they ‘met Dr. Parr riding to a christening,’ and at night ‘slept at Loughborough with the Bishop of Durham.’ Then on through Derby, Ashbourne, Ilam ‘(the meadows the most beautiful,’ he says, ‘I ever remember to have seen’), Dovedale (where were a file of ladies and the Oakover servants junketing), Matlock, Chatsworth (’more elegant than

1 Early Life, pp. 89-95.

beautiful’), Sheffield, Barnsley, and through ‘pleasant country disfigured by commerce and commercial opulence’ to Wakefield and Leeds. Leaving Leeds, they sheltered at Kirkstall Abbey during a storm, and got on in the evening to the Green Dragon at Harrogate. At Harrogate, ‘saw
Bannister in the theatre in “Peeping Tom.” The Green Room was a kitchen.’ In the drawing-room of the Granby at night, ‘heard the Silver Miners’ and met Professor Young of Glasgow, with his wife and daughter, Mr. Milnes Rich, Sir John Nesbit, and Miss Dick. The weather was wet, but there were sunny intervals, and they went up Wensleydale and by Sedbergh to Rydal, and stayed at Ambleside. On the next day, the 8th of August, Rogers writes: ‘Rode to Grasmere Church and returned by Wordsworth’s Cottage; Rydal and Grasmere waters unruffled and bright as silver.’ On the 9th of August ‘drank tea with Wordsworth and Coleridge.’

There is every reason to believe that this was the first time Rogers and his sister had met the Wordsworths and Coleridge, and to one of the party at Grasmere the meeting seems not to have been pleasant. In a letter to Sir George Beaumont, written three days after Rogers’s visit, Coleridge says: ‘On Tuesday evening, Mr. Rogers, the author of “The Pleasures of Memory,” drank tea and spent the evening with us at Grasmere—and this had produced a very unpleasant effect on my spirits.’ 1 He then makes some very

1 Memorials of Coleorton, edited by W. Knight, vol. i. p. 2. Professor Knight omits the name and makes it read ‘Mr. R ——, author of The —— of ——,’ but there is no doubt to whom the reference points, and no reason why it should not be stated.

depreciatory remarks on Rogers, and, with a very near approach to a breach of confidence, proceeds: ‘Forgive me, dear Sir George, but I could not help being pleased that the man disliked you and your Lady, and he lost no time in letting us know it. If I believed it possible that the man liked me, upon my soul I should feel exactly as if I were tarred and feathered.’ This was a hasty judgment, probably due to his being at the time, as he tells Sir George Beaumont, ‘unwell and sadly nervous.’ Coleridge himself revised his early impression, and a few years later we find him expressing his ‘unfeigned regard’ for Rogers. Sir George Beaumont soon after became one of Rogers’s fast friends, while the acquaintance with the Wordsworths, begun on this Tuesday evening at Grasmere, ripened into a close and affectionate intimacy which only death dissolved.

Coleridge’s dislike of Rogers on this first acquaintance probably accounts for the very slight mention of him in Miss Wordsworth’s interesting ‘Journal of a Tour in Scotland.’ Rogers records that on the 13th of August he ‘walked into a grove by the lake side with Wordsworth;’ and on the 14th Wordsworth, leaving his young wife and baby at home, set off with his sister and Coleridge for this Scottish journey. Rogers and his sister went a day or two later and overtook the Wordsworth party at Dumfries. They had been to see Burns’s grave, new only six years before, and with no stone as yet to mark it. They then went to Burns’s house, where the Rogerses met them. They were making the journey in what Dorothy Wordsworth calls a car, though Rogers described it as very much like a cart. Wordsworth and
Coleridge occupied the time in poetical reverie and transcendental talk while Dorothy acted as their manager and guide. All the practical details of the journey fell upon her. She selected the cottages where they could get meals by day and lodging at night, looked after the stabling of the horse, and was responsible for the comfort and welfare of the whole party. Coleridge, as Wordsworth records, was in low spirits and too much in love with his own dejection. Afraid to face the wet weather, Coleridge turned back at the end of August, while Wordsworth and his sister continued their journey. On their way back they met
Scott at Melrose and travelled with him to Jedburgh, where he recited part of ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ then unpublished. Wordsworth in after years confessed to Rogers that he was not greatly struck with the poem, and there are other proofs in these volumes that he was no great admirer of Scott’s poetry. After leaving Dumfries, Rogers and his sister went on to the Clyde. On the 19th they were at Hamilton House, and Rogers notes, not only the Rubens, but a Vandyke of the Earl of Digby, and portraits of the Duke of Hamilton, of his old friend Dr. Moore and of General Moore, painted in Italy. They were at Glasgow on the 20th. Rogers’s account of Glasgow in the summer of 1803 is worth quoting:—

‘Glasgow, a good object, with its cathedral of white stone. The streets very wide and handsome, particularly Argyll street; multitudes walking along the flagged footway, and coming and standing fearlessly in the
midway, not a carriage appearing once in an hour. [Argyll Street] as wide as Cornhill, if not wider, the houses rather low than high, carts very scarce, and barrows not seen at all. Most of the women and girls waiting for their turn at the pumps, which are handsome, and stand beyond the footways. Women also surrounding the milk carts, their earthen and tin vessels supplied from a barrel by means of a plug. Naked feet innumerable among the women and boys. Many barbers’ shops, and at each of their doors suspended a basin of burnished brass; many fruit shops, ice, grapes (hothouse) two shillings a pound; hackney coaches but no stand for them; a recruiting party parading with the bagpipe. Saw no coffee houses except the Tontine. Houses of white stone, and in general very neatly built. The streets opening into Argyll Street short and straight, generally consisting of very handsome private houses, and terminating with a bridge on one hand or a church or a hospital on the other; but these, probably on account of the time of year, had a neglected air. Girls with earrings and gilt combs in their hair, without shoes and stockings. Singular cries, not resembling those of London. Walked through the College and round its garden or meadow. At least equal to second-rate college of our universities. Shops small and poorly furnished. Roofs slated generally.’

The journey was cut short by an accident to Miss Rogers, and they came back through Edinburgh, calling on Henry Mackenzie and visiting Holyrood and Melrose. This renewal of his acquaintance with ‘The Man of
Feeling’ was the beginning of a long correspondence, and led to visits from Mackenzie to
Rogers in London.

It seems to have been Rogers’s habit, when meeting men of genius in the country, to offer them hospitality when they visited London. It is scarcely too much to say that he kept open house for men of letters, and many distinguished writers of the time owed to him their introduction to London society. A large part of the correspondence which has been preserved arose out of such visits, and much of the very high distinction which Rogers’s house attained is due to the kindly mention made of it by men who had themselves helped to render it attractive. It differed in many respects from the houses of mere rich men or men of title who played the patron of poor authors. Rogers entertained them as one of themselves. He was not the patron but the poet. Literary men and artists even at this day feel the difference between visiting one another and visiting people who only want to parade them before their friends. How much greater was the distinction when this century was young!

At this period we begin frequently to meet with Rogers’s name in contemporary memoirs. Francis Horner writes in his diary:—

January 22nd, 1804.—At Sydney Smith’s, the happiest day I remember to have ever spent. Mackintosh, Whishaw, Sharp, Rogers, and three interesting women of unlike character and manners.’

January 25th.—At Rogers’s: Mackintosh, Sharp, Sydney Smith, “Wilkins, &c. Somewhat a melancholy
evening, for it was the last Mackintosh is to spend in London.’

The departure of Mackintosh from London just at this moment, though regarded by Rogers and his friends as a serious blow, probably gave Rogers larger opportunities of entertaining them under his own roof. Mackintosh, as a correspondent of his biographer tells us, had established a kind of society which met once or twice every week at his own house, and once a week at the house of Sydney Smith. The regular members of these small evening parties were Rogers, Horner, Sir James Scarlett, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Colonel Sloper and his daughter (afterwards Mrs. Charles Warren), Richard Sharp, Hoppner, and the two hosts, Mackintosh and Sydney Smith. To these, others were joined as occasional visitors, and on everybody the same happy impression which Horner records, was left.

One of Rogers’s earliest visitors from a distance was Henry Mackenzie, who was in London with an invalid son early in 1804, and who renewed his acquaintance with literary men in London at Rogers’s table. A long correspondence followed, but Mackenzie’s letters, as Rogers used to say, had none of the brilliancy of his published works, but were entirely commonplace.1 Mackenzie’s first letter is one of thanks. He sends a brilliant forgery on Burns, and a fancy drama by a girl of eleven, asks Rogers to correspond with him, and urges him soon to give the world the poem on which he had been some

1 Rogers’s recollection was at fault in saying to Mr. Dyce that the correspondence began after his first visit to Edinburgh. It was, as the letters show, after Mackenzie’s visit to London in 1804.

time employed. This was ‘
Columbus’ which was talked of, and partly shown at Rogers’s parties, for years before it was published. Rogers replied:—

‘In return I have nothing to send you but a stanza or two upon a girl asleep. Do you think they would be of any use to Mr. Thomson? They are quite at his service. Eccole!
Sleep on and dream of Heaven awhile,
Though shut so close thy laughing eyes,
Thy rosy lips still wear a smile,
And move, and breathe delicious sighs.
Ah, now soft blushes tinge her cheeks,
And mantle to her neck of snow;
Ah, now she murmurs, now she speaks,
What most I wish yet fear to know.
Sleep on secure. Above control
Thy thoughts belong to heaven and thee,
And may the secret of thy soul
Still rest within its sanctuary
For ever undisturbed by me.
Columbus returns his best acknowledgments for your obliging inquiries. He has crossed the Atlantic, and will be glad to make the voyage with you whenever you are at leisure. How are your nerves? for the new world is full of “black spirits and white, blue spirits and grey.” I rejoice to hear your son bore the journey so well. The bitter East has at last retired into his cave, and the air here to-day is as mild as in summer. Let us hope he will revive with all nature in that delightful season
When May flowers blow and green is every grove,
And the young linnet sings “I love, I love.”
How charming are those lines of
Tasso,1 here so faintly imitated:—
Odi quello usignuolo,
Che va di ramo in ramo
Cantando Io amo, Io amo.
I wish I had any news to send you. In what a pleasant confusion we are at present! How will it end? The new coalition is now closely cementing and hostilities will recommence immediately if no surrender takes place. Adieu, my dear Sir; I accept very thankfully your friendly offer, though I fear you will find in me an unworthy correspondent. You are now, I picture to myself, revisiting the mild scenes of Roslin and Hawthornden. If you can command there at will such society as you have peopled my dreams with, you are wise indeed in shunning the bustle and impertinence of what is vulgarly called good company.’

Rogers appears to have been in feeble health this summer. Writing to Mackenzie in November, he says:—

‘When yours arrived here I was from home. I returned full of cold and fever, and a thousand fancies which have clung to me ever since, and have rendered me absolutely fit for nothing. But I am now beginning to breathe again, and hope by means of two great doctors, not Galen and Hippocrates, but a horse and a cow, to become a miracle of health and strength. . . . So the star which first discovered itself in your sky is soon to be visible in ours? Mrs. Siddons, from a discreet regard to her amplitude of person, begs leave to

1 Tasso, Aminta, act i. sc. 1.

decline comparison with this actor from Liliput, but we are all on tiptoe and prepared to die in the crowd. . . . There is a
printer, I understand, in our town who is perfectly intoxicated with happiness, and who stops his friends to inquire whether any man was ever so distinguished before. He is at once employed on “Madoc” and on “The Lay of the Last Minstrel,” so we may expect great amusement this winter. . . . S. Smith is now very happy and very busy preparing, as he says, his moral philosophy for the ladies. I met him not long ago in the fields, lost in thought and full of his subject. Roscoe’sLeo X.” is nearly printed, which reminds me of a book I have just read with great delight. Alas! there are not above six copies of it existing, but I will not rest till it is reprinted, I mean Tenhove’s “Memoirs of the House of Medici.” It is, if I may say so, all kernel and no shell, and as interesting as a French Memoir. If histories were written as histories should be, boys and girls would cry to read them.’

Mackenzie replies in the middle of December, and asks for four more lines for the ode on the Sleeping Girl, which Mr. Thomson means to marry to a Welsh air, but wants some other turn of expression than the casse-dent ‘sanctuary.’ He adds:—

‘“Madoc1 is printing here, and so is “The Lay of the Last Minstrel,”2 the author of which is very proud of your attention. . . . Our friend Sydney Smith came

1 Madoc was published in 1805.

2 ‘In the first week in January, 1805, the Lay was published,’ says Lockhart, ‘and its success at once decided that literature should be the main business of Scott’s life.’

off, I understand, with great éclat in his introductory lecture. I think him extremely well qualified to teach the ladies moral philosophy, as he has a very happy knack at delineating the petites morales particularly incumbent on the sex.’ He then asks
Rogers for his opinion of ‘The Young Roscius,’ and says, ‘You see my judgment of him is more than confirmed by your infallible London tribunal.’ Rogers’s reply is full of interest:—

Samuel Rogers to Henry Mackenzie.

‘My dear Sir,—I have at last seen the boy who has enchanted old and young, and till then I had resolved to deny myself the pleasure of writing to you. I will not say I was surprised, for I went with great expectation, but he certainly came up to the idea you had led me so long ago to form of him. Thro’ many passages he hurried without feeling, and his countenance wanted the changes which time only can give it; but he is a prodigy, and, with careful culture, will delight, if he lives, the rising generation. His acting may now be compared to painting in water-colours,—by-and-by it will acquire more force and body. Mrs. Siddons has retired to Hampstead for her health, and, what is odd enough, tho’ she has seen a play, she has not seen him, nor does she disguise her scepticism on the subject. I heard her read the trial scene in “The Merchant of Venice” the other night with great effect.

‘Our public speakers are divided. Mr. Grey can see no merit in him, and Mr. Windham sees but little—while Mr. Pitt has become a playgoer, and Mr. Fox, with whom
I saw him in “
Hamlet,” thought his acting during the play better than Garrick’s. I ought to make many apologies to Mr. Thomson for my unpardonable delay. He wants another stanza. Eccola!

She starts, she trembles, and she weeps!
Her fair hands folded on her breast—
And now, how like a saint she sleeps,
A seraph in the realms of rest!
Sleep on secure! Above controul,
Thy thoughts belong to Heaven and thee,
And may the secret of thy soul
Be held in reverence by me!

‘I will not say I am satisfied, and Mr. T. I am sure will not. However, he will take it, I hope, as a proof of good intention. I have done what I could. I have lately visited other times with Mr. Scott, and have returned with great regret to the present. Mr. Fox expressed a wish to make the same enterprise, and I found him busily engaged yesterday in reading my copy.

‘We have received, as you may have heard, some very interesting letters from Mackintosh. He thirsts for European society like an Arab in the desert, and looks forwards with impatience to the distant day of his return. He gives audiences every day to grotesque figures from strange countries, but such novelties have already ceased to amuse him. Don’t you rejoice in our friend Smith’s success? His lecture on wit yesterday deserved the praise it met with. Let me hope you have weathered the winter well, with all its changes. What a restless life does the quicksilver lead in such a climate as ours! Since you wrote I have
suffered a great loss in
Mr. Townley. You may remember to have seen him lying on a couch among his marbles last spring. A kinder heart and a more elegant mind were never found together. I don’t know how it is, but there is something so soothing and delightful in such a character, when the hey-day and bustle of life is over, that I have almost always, even when a young man, been led to cultivate the friendship of people much older than myself. Pray follow a better example than I have set you, and write soon to say that you intend us a visit this spring. Be assured, my dear sir, that it cannot give greater pleasure to anybody.

‘Yours with very great sincerity,
Saml. Rogers.
‘St. James’s Place, London:
‘March 24th, 1805.’

The only points of interest in Mackenzie’s reply are a short criticism on Betty and a reference to Walter Scott. Of the former he says, ‘One half of his Hamlet was, I think, a wonderful performance, the other half he did not seem quite to understand; the playfulness of melancholy is, indeed, one of those shades of mind which it requires very nice colouring to hit off.’ Of the latter he remarks, ‘Yours and Mr. Fox’s approbation will make one author of my acquaintance, Mr. Walter Scott, very happy. I really think the “Lay” a work of very great genius. Some things discretion might have shortened, and some things good taste might have left out; but there is always an impression and an interest which lays hold on the mind.’

There is a contemporary account of Rogers at this
period which, being written from the point of view of a political opponent, gives striking proof of his personal popularity. He had been for several years a Fellow of the Royal Society—a distinction then more often given that it is now for other than scientific eminence. Soon after he had settled in St. James’s Place he put down his name for admission to the Literary Club, which then met at the Thatched House in St. James’s Street. This club had been founded by
Sir Joshua Reynolds with the help of Johnson, Burke, and Goldsmith, in the year in which Rogers was born (1763). Boswell, who was one of its members, tells us that they met for supper once a week at seven o’clock, but that, after about ten years, instead of supping weekly they dined together once a fortnight during the meeting of Parliament. Malone, writing in October, 1810, said that from its foundation to that time it had had seventy-six members, of whom fifty-five had been authors. Rogers was proposed by Courtenay and seconded by Dr. Burney, but was blackballed. This rebuff to so popular and successful a person was a nine-days’ wonder of literary society at the time. Dr. Burney says that Rogers was rejected on account of his politics, and Rogers himself always believed that he owed his exclusion to Malone. Rogers was little of a politician, though he made no secret of his sympathy with the Whigs. Dr. Burney describes him as not fond of talking politics—meaning, of course, in mixed company—and says patronisingly, ‘He is no Jacobin enragé, though I believe him to be a principled Republican, and therefore in high favour with Mr. Fox and his adherents.’ He adds that Rogers ‘is never
intrusive, and neither shuns nor dislikes a man for being of a different political creed to himself; it is therefore that he and I, however we may dissent upon that point, concur so completely upon almost every other, that we always meet with pleasure. And, in fact, he is much esteemed by many persons belonging to the Government and about the Court.’

There are glimpses of Rogers and his friends in Windham’s Diary. He meets him at Boddington’s on the 31st of May, 1805, together with R. Sharp, Lord H. Petty, Ward, Lady Cockburn, Mrs. Hibbert, and Mrs. Opie. On the 5th of June he meets him with Littleton, W. Spencer, Luttrell, and H. Greville at Hampstead, and he records on the 2nd of August a ‘long talk with Rogers while sheltering ourselves from a shower.’ Joanna Baillie writes about this time, asking Rogers to meet Mrs. Siddons and her daughter, Mr. Sotheby, and Mr. Harness at dinner at six o’clock exactly; ‘the ladies are to come in morning gowns and early, to walk on the heath, perhaps to look after houses; so if you are inclined to walk, come early too, and in your boots or anyhow.’

The first appearance of Rogers’s name in Lord John Russell’sLife of Moore’ is in 1805; and about the same date Moore is mentioned in a letter from Rogers to his sister. Their friendship had been prepared for by Moore’s early admiration for ‘The Pleasures of Memory.’ Moore came to London in 1799, but probably did not meet Rogers till 1805, after returning from his journey to America. Writing to Lady Donegal in that year, Moore tells her he is a little terrified at Rogers’s
account of her multitudinous company-keeping at Tunbridge Wells, and adds, ‘I like Rogers better every time I see him.’ Writing to his mother in November, Moore says, ‘I am just going to dine third to Rogers and
Cumberland. A good poetical step-ladder we make. The former is past forty, and the latter past seventy.’ Moore was then six and twenty, but Rogers survived him. The two poets had probably had a good deal of intercourse during a visit to Tunbridge Wells, which Moore, writing of it thirty years afterwards, describes as having taken place in 1805-6.1 In a letter to his sister Sarah, describing this visit, Rogers speaks of ‘your friend Moore.’ Moore himself records that he talked over the visit thirty years later with Miss Berry, who reminded him of several incidents of the period. The ‘ever memorable party,’ as Moore calls it, consisted, he tells us, of the Dunmores, Lady Donegal and her sisters, the Duchess of St. Albans, Lady Heathcote, Lady Anne Hamilton, with the beautiful Susan Beckford (afterwards Duchess of Hamilton) under her care, Thomas Hope, making assiduous love to Miss Beckford, William Spencer, Rogers, Sir Henry Englefield, &c. The following is Rogers’s contemporary account of this ‘ever memorable party’:—

Samuel Rogers to Sarah Rogers.
‘Tunbridge: 13th Octr. 1805.

‘My dear Sarah,—You will no doubt be surprised to receive another letter from this Castle of Indolence; but

1 It was, in fact, in the early autumn of 1805.

here I have remained (with only two short flights to town) partly from my own dilatory nature, but still more from my companion’s, till I begin to despair of ever moving till Mount Zion and Mount Ephraim are loosened from their foundations. A set of people so warm-hearted, so distinguished for talent and temper, were perhaps never assembled before. Our happiness was the subject of hourly congratulation from each to each, and the unfeigned regret with which we have parted is the best proof of it. This morning, after breakfasting together, we lost the Beckfords, who are gone to Eastbourne, and to-morrow we set off for
Lord Robert Spencer’s. On the way we shall pass a day or two at Brighton, where I hope to see Patty and her nursery, and also the Chinnerys, and we shall at Worthing just look in upon the Jerseys. Perhaps you know that the late Lord J. died here, when we were in the very act of setting off on a party of pleasure. We have had music every evening; your friend Moore and Miss Susan Beckford have charmed us out of ourselves, and our mornings have passed away in curricles and sociables and four. Our morning excursions have generally mustered twenty, and you will smile to hear that I have exhibited daily as a curricle driver. Mr. Jodrell’s barouche was an addition to us for a week, and he seemed a very good-humoured man. Your time has passed much more quietly, and I dare say much more profitably. Pray write to me in St. James’s Place and tell me, my dear Sarah, what you mean to do. It was my intention to visit Wassall,1 and I sent a message by

1 The residence of his brother Daniel.

Tom to know when it would suit best; but I suppose, on account of the Durys, I heard nothing on the subject till long nights and cold weather came to cool my spirit of enterprise; and now, I must own, I could look with more pleasure to it as a dream of the next summer. I have, moreover, a foolish cold which has for some days kept me to a barley-water diet. I rejoice to think that Mr. H. is better. Pray give my best remembrances to one and all, and believe me to be, ever yours,

Saml. Rogers.

‘I hope to be in town by the end of this month at farthest. I have heard nothing for the last three weeks, tho’ I have written to Maria. Poor Lady Buggin1 died here last week, and Mr. Cumberland, at the head of his Corps, escorted her body out of the town. He was here for a week and was very much affected by her death. Miss S. Beckford is a daughter of Fonthill, very beautiful, and a prodigy in every respect. She was surprised to hear that I knew Miss Brettell, whom she knew in Wiltshire. To-morrow the only relic of our party will be T. Hope. We have had a most delightful autumn, and I have spent it very differently from the last—but every dog has his day. Remember, Sarah, I do not allude to that pleasant time we spent together at the first coming of winter. At Woolbeding (Lord Robert Spencer’s) I expect to see Mr. and Mrs. Fox; but I begin amazingly to long for winter quarters. I wish you had

1 Wife of Sir George Buggin, of Cumberland Place. She died on the 29th September, and was buried at St. Dunstan’s-in-the-East by torchlight.

partaken a little of my gaiety here, my dearest Sarah, for I have had more than enough to spare, and none would have contributed or received her share with greater success than yourself. Many, many thanks for your kind letter, which I found lying on my table when I went last to town.’