LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Chapter III. 1834-1837.

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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Public Affairs in 1834—Deaths of Coleridge and Lamb—Moore’s Diary—Crabb Robinson and Wordsworth at Rogers’s—Last Letter to R. Sharp—R. Sharp’s Death—Wordsworth upon him—Rogers to his Sister—Wordsworth’s Letters—Ticknor’s Diary—Rogers’s Reputation for Cynicism—Rogers and Campbell—Rogers and Turner—Rogers’s Bitter Sayings—Jokes of his Friends against him—The Quarterly Review on his Appearance—Letter of the Duchess of Sutherland—Wordsworth—Rogers at Broadstairs—Crabb Robinson’s Diary—Moore’s Diary—Washington Irving—Wordsworth’s Letter—Sir H. Taylor—Moore’s Diary again—Rogers at Broadstairs and Paris—Mrs. Butler’s Recollections—Crabb Robinson’s—Moore’s—A Whig Conclave at Bowood—Haydon.

I have not thought it necessary to re-tell the familiar story of the political events to which the letters of Richard Sharp and of Rogers in the previous chapter refer. The brief episode of Lord Grey’s retirement from office in July 1834; of the hasty summoning of Sir Robert Peel from Rome; of the Duke of Wellington filling five Cabinet offices for a time, so that a contemporary satirist said ‘the Cabinet Council sits in the Duke’s Head and the Ministers are all of one mind’; the general election; the debates which turned, as Miss Martineau says, chiefly on the anecdotage of the crisis; the defeats of the Ministry; the refusal of Lord Grey to return to office and the reconstruction of a Whig Administration under Lord
Melbourne, covered a period of nine agitating months. In the literary world, too, some stirring events had happened. Coleridge died at Highgate in July, 1834; and Charles Lamb followed at the close of the year. Richard Sharp, whose long, valuable and most interesting life was drawing rapidly to its close, was spending the winter at Torquay, and Rogers and his other friends in London were in great anxiety about him. Meanwhile Moore’s Diary is full as ever of the small social events it was his pleasure to put on record, and we constantly meet with Rogers in the amusing society in which Moore spent his time during his visits to London.

February 20th, 1835.—Wrote my letters at Brooks’s, and from thence to Rogers’s: a good speculation, as it turned out. His servant, on opening the door, asked eagerly, “Are you come to dine here, Sir? Mr. Wordsworth is coming.” Found that Rogers, though engaged out himself, had asked Wordsworth and his wife, who are just arrived in town, to dinner. Mrs. Wordsworth was not well enough to come, but Rogers, W., and myself sat down to dinner at half-past five, and our host, having done the honours of the table to us till near seven o’clock, went off to his other engagement and left us tête-à-tête.

February 24th.—Dinner at Rogers’s: company, Sydney Smith, Eastlake the painter, and another artist whose name I cannot now recall. Eastlake told of a dinner given to Thorwaldsen the sculptor, at Rome, Wilkie presiding in the chair, and making a very eloquent speech on the occasion, which it seems he is very
capable of, though so tiresomely slow of words in society. In speaking of Thorwaldsen, he described him as “coming from the North to warm the marbles of the South with his genius”; and this poetical flight being very much applauded, Thorwaldsen, who sat next to Eastlake, begged he would interpret it to him. “He speaks of you,” said Eastlake, “as a great artist ‘chi è venuto dal settentrione per riscaldar i marmi.’” “Riscaldar i marmi!’ exclaimed Thorwaldsen, puzzled at the metaphor, “che vuol dire?” “Col suo genio,” continued Eastlake, which at once solved the difficulty and very much to the great sculptor’s satisfaction. “Ah, sì,” he replied.
Canova said of the numerous portraits painted of himself that they were all different; and the reason was that each artist mixed up, unconsciously, something of his own features with the resemblance. On Eastlake’s mentioning this to Thorwaldsen, the latter said this was particularly the case with the heads done by Canova, as they were all like his own—“fin’ ai cavalli.”’

Another day Moore is at Holland House, and stories are told of Rogers’s good and kind qualities; on the 28th of February he breakfasts at Rogers’s ‘to meet the new poet, Mr. Taylor, the author of “Van Artevelde.”’ On that occasion the visitors at Rogers’s table, besides the new poet and Moore, were Sydney Smith and Southey, ‘Van Artevelde, a tall handsome young fellow,’ and the conversation may be described as authors’ shop. It was chiefly about the profits publishers make out of authors. On the next day he writes—

March 1st, 1835.—Wretchedly wet day. . . . Dined
Rogers’s to meet Barnes; an entirely clandestine dinner. None of our Whig friends in the secret; and R. had been a good deal puzzled as to who he should ask to meet him. Tried Lord Lyndhurst, with whom Barnes is intimate, and he would have come had he not been engaged. Could then think of none but Turner the painter; and he, Barnes, and myself formed the whole of the guests. . . . Had some talk with Turner in the evening. Mentioned to him my having sometimes thought of calling in the aid of the pencil in commemorating by some work or other the neighbourhood in which I have now so long resided . . . [but] he interrupted me by exclaiming, “But Ireland, Mr. Moore, Ireland! There’s the region connected with your name. Why not illustrate the whole life? I have often longed to go to that country; but am, I confess, afraid to venture myself there. Under the wing of Thomas Moore, however, I should be safe.”’

Crabb Robinson writes in his Diary

March 3rd, 1835.—Mr. Rogers also called; he invited me to dine with the Wordsworths at his house to-day. I then walked with the Wordsworths to Pickersgill, who is painting a small likeness of the poet for Dora. We sat there for a couple of hours, enlivening by chat the dulness of sitting for a portrait. At six o’clock I returned to the West, and dined at Rogers’s with Mr. and Mrs. Wordsworth. The very rooms would have made the visit interesting without the sight of any person. The pictures and marbles are delightful. Everywhere the most perfect taste imaginable.’


Moore writes of an earlier dinner at which Wordsworth was present—

March 30th.—The day I met Wordsworth at dinner at Rogers’s the last time I was in town, he asked us all in the evening to write something in a little album of his daughter’s, and Wilkie drew a slight sketch in it. One of the things Luttrell wrote was the following epitaph on a man who was run over by an omnibus—

‘Killed by an omnibus—why not?
So quick a death a boon is.
Let not his friends lament his lot,
Mors omnibus communis.’

Rogers’s last letter to Richard Sharp is full of the talk of the time.

Samuel Rogers to Richard Sharp.

‘My dear Friend,—I need not say how much your letter has afflicted me. Have you written to Clark? Surely you should tell him how you are. I look with impatience to your coming in April. Wordsworth and Southey are still here; S. having paid his daughter a visit, and W. projecting one to Cambridge.

‘Have you read Van Artevelde? If not, pray do. I like Taylor much. The W.’s are staying in his house.

‘Did you read a sketch of the Duke in “The Morning Chronicle,” January 22nd? It will remind you of Macaulay.

‘I passed a week with Lord Grey at Woburn before he came to town. Last night I sat an hour with him and then went across B[erkeley] Square to Lady
Brougham’s, where I found B[rougham] encircled with ex-Ministers—the Duke of Richmond, Lansdowne, Melbourne, &c. Peel evidently wants an excuse to go out, and taunts them to give it him—but they wisely determine to let him bring on his measures. Londonderry’s appointment has already damaged him.

‘The Duke of Somerset called upon me to-day and I want much to see him and talk to him about you. I have seen Lord Sinclair and Courtney. Do you know the Newarks? Lord Grey says B. told him last year he was worth 25,000l. My monthly numbers I know little about. It is a scheme of Moxon’s.1 Your volume circulates fast, as it ought. Babbage’s parties are becoming blue with Lady Morgan, Miss Jane Porter, &c. Lady Fanny Harley is about to marry a son of the Archbishop of York.

‘Pray remember me to your ladies: I hardly know how to be sorry for anybody who has such a singing-bird in his cage.

‘Yours ever,
S. Rogers.
‘St. James’s Place: 19th March, 1835.’

A few days after the receipt of this letter Richard Sharp set out on his journey homeward, but never reached London. He became rapidly worse, and died at Dorchester on the 30th of March. He was only four years older than Rogers, and the friendship between them had been close and unbroken for more than forty years.

1 This edition was published by Moxon in 1835. It was advertised as ‘illustrated by 128 vignettes from designs by Stothard and Turner.’ There were ten monthly parts at four shillings each.

It is unfortunate that so few memorials remain of this remarkable person. The fact that he was spoken of by his contemporaries as ‘Conversation’ Sharp, marks the chief source of the impression he made upon them. But he was a great deal more than the best talker of his time. He was a man of large and varied reading, of deep philosophic insight, and of great practical knowledge of public affairs. Statesmen took counsel with him, authors and others eagerly sought his advice, and the most distinguished persons were proud to regard him as a friend. He had written but little, and everybody regretted that he had not written much. His little volume of ‘
Letters and Essays,’ published in 1834, became widely popular among cultivated people, and caused much regret that he had not exercised his great powers on some themes of permanent interest. There was a pathos in the concluding words of his preface to this, his only book. Speaking of the letters, he said, ‘Being, of course, in the possession of his friends, they might (however insignif1cant) appear hereafter, when he could no longer correct them; and the dates of some will show that he had no time to lose. Vesper . . . admonuit.’ The words had not been written a year when the evening warning was fulfilled.

William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers.

‘My dear Rogers,—The papers record the death of your, and let me add my, long-known and long-valued friend Richard Sharp. Sincerely do I condole with you, and with his nearest connections upon thia loss. How a thought of the presence of living friends brightens
particular spots, and what a shade falls over them when those friends have passed away! This I have felt strongly in the course of the last twelve months, in respect to London, vast as the place is. And even in regard to the Lakes, it makes me melancholy to think that Sharp will visit them no more. If you be in communication with Mrs. Sharp and
Miss Kinnaird, pray assure them that Mrs. W. and I sympathize sincerely with them in their bereavement.

‘The papers also tell us that you have suffered a serious loss of property by a robbery committed in your house—the offender one of your own servants. Was it the footman? I remember being a good deal startled by your telling me that that servant took the liberty of being absent as much as four hours at a time. I made some observation upon what you said, but not in such strong terms as would have been used had I not been in the habit of placing reliance upon your discretion. You expressed dissatisfaction and talked of dismissing him. After all, this may not be the man. Have any valuable pieces of virtù been taken? If not I shall be glad, and also to hear both that the value of the property, viz., 2,000l., has been exaggerated, and part of it, at least, recovered.1

1 In the Times of the 2nd of April, 1835, is the following account of this robbery:—‘On Tuesday last [31st March] several friends of Mr. Rogers were invited to partake of a breakfast, and a quantity of plate, which had not recently been used was desired to be got ready on the occasion. Just before the arrival of the company, the footman, Thomas Sims, left the house. Not being in attendance, and the plate not being ready, his absence excited suspicion, which was further corroborated by the keys of the plate-chests being removed from their usual place. After the lapse of a few hours Mr. Rogers sent for Plank, the officer,


‘Pray write to us at your early convenience. The great public unsettling with which we are threatened unsettles my little plans also, causing me to doubt whether I shall return to London or not. Whatever may be shaken or altered, be you assured of my unchangeable attachment, and that I am, and ever shall be,

‘Firmly yours,
Wm. Wordsworth.
Trinity Lodge: 5th April [1835].

‘Kindest regards from Mrs. W. and myself to your sister.’

Rogers gives an account of himself this spring in a letter to his sister, written before the robbery or the fatal turn of his friend Sharp’s illness.

Samuel Rogers to Sarah Rogers.
‘18th March, 1835.

‘My dear Sarah,—. . . I went to Woburn on Sunday and left it on Friday. I found Lord Grey, Lord

when it was advised that the plate-chests should be broken open, which was done with great difficulty. The result fully confirmed the suspicions of Mr. Rogers of the dishonesty of his servant, who, it appears, has robbed him of a large quantity of plate. Amongst the articles stolen are four double dishes, chased, which cost, it is said, upwards of 1,000l., upwards of a hundred pieces of plate belonging to the dinner and tea-service, a massy silver tea-kettle; two splendid silver-gilt vases and spoons which were presented to the author of Italy by a member of the Royal Family, now no more; besides a number of other valuable articles. The offender, who is about twenty-five years of age, and a native of Minstead, in the New Forest, Hampshire, had been in the service of Mr. Rogers for the last seven years; and so high was the opinion entertained of him by his master, that he was entrusted with the whole of the valuable property contained in the house, and to prevent the possibility of temptation, large wages were given him. There can be no doubt that a considerable portion of the property has been gone for some time.’

Melbourne, Duchess of Sutherland, and a very large family party, among others a relation of ours, who contrived to come to me when I was alone and to say, “You have forgot me;” Sam Johnes’s only child, now married to a son of Sir John Shelley, a very lively and pleasing girl, for she cannot be much above twenty, and I took much to her. She and her husband sing delightfully together. How glad we are that the weather continues so mild for you. Poor Sharp! I have a sad letter from him, and the ladies at Torquay are much alarmed for him. Mr. Towgood goes out every day as usual, and Patty is pretty well, though she has her bad days. You say you wish to know something of politics. I went for three minutes to Lady Brougham’s party last night, and found B. encircled with ex-Ministers, and in high spirits, having just spoken well on the Poor Law Bill, as you will see—not that I exchanged a word or a look with him. Peel evidently wishes himself out, and taunts the Opposition to turn him out by some leading motion, but it is wisely determined to give him no excuse and to let him bring his measures on. Lord Londonderry’s appointment has already damaged the Government very much in the country. Adieu, my dear Sarah. My kind love to Patty. Perhaps, if the mild weather continues, you will stay a little longer. Mrs. Lockhart says she watches your windows. Babbage had a very blue party last Saturday. Lady Morgan, Miss Jane Porter, &c., &c.

‘Ever yours,
S. B.

‘So Lady Fanny Harley is going to be married to a
son of the Archbishop of York’s—in the army I believe. Bickersteth, I hear, has dined at the Archbishop’s—Query, as her papa? What will become of poor Jane? Millingen, I hear, has left Marseilles for Aix, on account of the cholera, I suppose. Mr. Boddington is very unwell, according to Webster. . . . Whether W. speaks through his fears or his wishes I don’t know, but W. thinks him in danger. I am sorry to say that I must part with Thomas. He is always out, sometimes for three or four hours, and sometimes comes home in liquor. Reece and Kay both think he will never mend while he is here. I suppose his great leisure while I was away has been his ruin. I have not yet spoken to him on the subject; and I put it off from day to day. It is a great trouble to me, as I had looked to him as a successor to R., if any change had required it. I find he is married and has a child. His wife lives in Chelsea, and is a very decent person.’

Early in May the Wordsworths were again at home, and two letters to Rogers tell of the troubles that met them there.

William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers.

‘My dear Rogers,—I enclose a line barely to say that after a journey of three days, having slept at Birmingham and Manchester, we reached this place in good health. My poor sister is rather better; but every day and hour add to our anxiety for the removal of my daughter to London for medical advice.

‘I hope when we return we shall find you in London.
It grieved me to come away without seeing you again. My son
William is now with us, and looking better than I have seen him do for some years. He bears his disappointment in being still without a better provision as well as could be expected. You would be pleased to see how sensible he is of your affectionate kindness towards him, and happy am I to see he is not unworthy of it. He is a great comfort to us all in our distress. Poor Mrs. Southey appears to be but little, if at all, improved. Your portrait is much liked in this house—I own, elegant as it is, I could have wished for something with more strength. Love from everyone here to yourself and sister,

‘And believe [me], my dear Friend,
‘Most faithfully yours,
Wm. Wordsworth.
‘4th May, 1835: Rydal Mount.’
William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers.
‘Rydal Mount: Thursday [27th June, 1835].

‘My dear Rogers,—I write merely to announce that one of the many anxieties with which this house has been afflicted is over. Miss Hutchinson, after an illness of five weeks, expired on Tuesday evening. After the fever was subdued she suffered no acute pain, and passed away as gently as her dearest friends could wish. She will be deeply lamented by many out of her own family.

‘According to your request I did not write after the melancholy tidings of your last; nor need you write now. We have in this house more before us, which
must be passed through shortly, and much that may. Pray for us—my poor wife bears up wonderfully.

‘Be assured, my dear Friend, that in pleasure and pain, in joy and sorrow, you are often and often in my thoughts. Present our united love to your sister.

‘Affectionately yours,
Wm. Wordsworth.’

Some contemporary glimpses of Rogers in the succeeding month are given by an eminent American author, who, like all his literary countrymen, regarded Rogers and his house as among the objects of their transatlantic pilgrimage.

Mr. Ticknor writes—

July 5, 1835.—The dinner at Rogers’s was truly agreeable; nobody present but Mr. Kenney, author of the farce “Raising the Wind.” The house, as everybody knows, opens on the Park, near the old Mall, which was the fashionable walk in Pope’s time, and the place from which the beaux were to see the lock of Belinda’s hair when it should be changed into a constellation; his garden gate opening immediately upon the green grass, and his library and dining room windows commanding a prospect of the whole of the Park and of all the gay life that is still seen there.

‘Everything within the house is as beautiful, and in as good taste, as the prospect abroad. The rooms are fine and appropriate and the walls covered with beautiful pictures . . . each of the principal masters being well represented. The library is the same, all recherché and
yet all in perfectly good taste.
Mr. Rogers’s conversation was in keeping with his establishment, full of the past, anecdotes, facts, recollections in abundance—and yet quite familiar with what is now passing and doing in the world. All he says is marked by the good taste he shows in his works, and the perfected good sense which he has been almost a century in acquiring.1

Monday, July 13, 1835.—We all breakfasted—including Nannie—with the excellent and kind old Mr. Rogers, nobody being present except Campbell the poet, who returned two or three days ago from his Algerine expedition, of which, of course, he is now full. I need not say that the two hours we then passed were extremely agreeable. The vast amount of Mr. Rogers’s recollections, extending back through the best society for sixty years; his exquisite taste, expressed alike in his conversation, his books, his furniture and his pictures; his excellent common sense and sound judgment; and his sincere, gentle kindness, coming quietly, as it does, from the venerableness of his age, render him one of the most delightful men a stranger can see in London. He went over his whole house with us, showed us his pictures, curiosities, correspondence with distinguished men, &c., &c., and made the visit seem extremely short.

Campbell was pleasant, a little over nice both in his manner and choice of words and subjects, witty even, sometimes; but though full of fresh knowledge from Africa, by no means so interesting as Rogers.’ Ticknor’s biographer adds to this record a note, written by Mr. Ticknor on another occasion, in which he says,

1Ticknor’s Life , vol. i., p. 406.

‘From what I have heard since, I suppose Rogers is not always so kind and charitable as I found him both today and whenever I saw him afterwards.’

This note of Ticknor’s calls for some remark. He had spoken of Rogers as he found him, and then discovered that Rogers had a reputation which was not in harmony with his experience of him. Rogers had cultivated the habit of making caustic remarks till it had become a second nature. Sir Henry Taylor tells us1 that his wit was in higher repute than any in his time except that of Sydney Smith, but while Sydney’s was genial and good-humoured, that of Rogers was sarcastic and bitter. Rogers knew this and sometimes apologised for it. ‘They tell me I say ill-natured things,’ he observed to Sir Henry Taylor in his slow, quiet, deliberate way. ‘I have a very weak voice; if I did not say ill-natured things no one would hear what I said.’ There is profound truth in the observation. It is not needful to assume that he had deliberately adopted this principle, and persistently acted on it; he had simply discovered that acid remarks were listened to and remembered when jokes were unnoticed or forgotten. When men came away after an evening with Sydney Smith they only remembered how greatly they had enjoyed themselves and how infinitely amusing he was; after contact with Rogers one or two sharp sayings were deeply implanted in their memories, very often, indeed, to rankle there. This is the sufficient explanation of the different statements that are made about him. He had no tolerance for vulgarity or pre-

1Autobiography, vol. i., p. 321.

tence, and vulgar and pretentious people who forced themselves upon him often went away with a wound. Others treasured up their recollections of discomfiture, and visited them on his memory after he was dead.
Mr. Hayward assures us that there was something irresistibly comic rather than annoying or repulsive in the pertinacity and ingenuity with which he indulged his caustic humour; and this was no doubt the case when one was auditor and spectator of it and not its subject. It is astonishing how few, even of sensible and cultivated men, have the magnanimity to enjoy, without resenting, a laugh against themselves. Rogers’s wit, however, was not that which merely raised a laugh, as Sydney Smith’s was; it sometimes left a sore. It was, as Mr. Hayward calls it,’ habitual severity of comment’; and at one time in his life, Mr. Hayward tells us, it had become so formidable that ‘his guests might be seen manœuvring which should leave the room last, so as not to undergo the apprehended ordeal; and it was said of him, with more wit than truth, that he made his way in the world, as Hannibal made his across the Alps—with vinegar.’

One of the most common stories, still quoted by his detractors, is that of an observation he made to Madame de Staël about Campbell in Campbell’s early days—‘How sorry I am for Campbell,’ said Madame de Staël to Rogers; ‘his poverty so unsettles his mind that he cannot write.’ Rogers replied, ‘Why doesn’t he take a situation as a clerk, he could then compose verses during his leisure hours.’ She thought the remark cruel, and it is constantly paraded as a proof of Rogers’s coldness of heart. But the course he recommended for
another was just what Rogers had taken himself. In his own youth he was a banker’s clerk, busy every day in his father’s bank from ten to five, and writing his verses at home at night. This is how ‘
The Pleasures of Memory’ was written. What Campbell himself thought of Rogers’s hardness, and how contrary his experience of him was, the letters in a former chapter show. When somebody remarked, in Campbell’s hearing, that Rogers said spiteful things, ‘Borrow five hundred pounds of him,’ replied Campbell, ‘and he will never say a word against you till you want to repay him.’ Campbell, as we have seen, did borrow five hundred pounds of him and repaid it, and Rogers’s comment was that when Campbell brought back the money and insisted on repaying it, ‘I knew that he was every day pressed for small sums.’ Rogers said bitter things in society; in private he was always saying kind things and doing generous things. Moore illustrates this contrast by a remark in his Diary in 1832. Rogers and he walked home together one evening from a dinner at Lord Essex’s; and, says Moore, ‘the difference there is between him thus tête-à-tête and when in Society was never more striking; he both amused himself and me, and laughed at something I said like a boy.’

Turner’s biographer tells us that Turner and Rogers got on very well together, though Rogers did not spare him. He was one day admiring a beautiful table in Turner’s room. It was wonderful, he said; ‘but,’ he added, ‘how much more wonderful it would be to see any of his friends sitting round it.’ He was one of Turner’s earliest admirers. ‘Ah,’ he would say, looking through
his telescoped hand, ‘there’s a beautiful thing, and the figures too—one of them with his hand on the horse’s tail, not that I can make them out though.’
Landseer heard that he had expressed his admiration for the picture of a Newfoundland dog, called ‘Portrait of a Distinguished Member of the Royal Humane Society,’ and he expressed to Rogers his gratification. ‘Yes,’ said Rogers, ‘I thought the ring of the dog’s collar well painted.’ He was one day looking at the early pages of a presentation copy of a new book. ‘Is that the contents you are looking at?’ asked the author, who had just given it to him. ‘No, the discontents,’ answered Rogers, pointing to the list of subscribers. He was hardest, perhaps, on men who flattered him in order that they might pose in society as his friends. One of these persisted in trying to walk home with him one night from an evening party. Rogers had already put his arm into that of Mr. Hayward, whom he wished to accompany him, and the sycophant made the excuse for joining them that he did not like walking alone. ‘I should have thought, sir,’ said Rogers, ‘that no one was so well satisfied with your company as yourself.’ It is easy to imagine that when such a person committed to some bulky volume or some magazine his Recollections of the circles into which he had forced himself, he would declare that in all his long life and with all his ample means, Rogers never said a kind word nor did a generous deed.

His cynical sayings represented only his passing thought, not his deliberate convictions. He always regretted, as I have already said, that he had never married, and regarded married life as the best and fittest
for both men and women. Yet he used to say that it mattered little whom a man married, for he was sure to find the next morning that he had married somebody else. When a man he disliked was wedded to a pretty woman, he said, ‘Now we shall have our revenge on him.’ He spoke severely of another friend’s marriage, and somebody answered, ‘But all his friends are pleased.’ ‘Fortunate man,’ replied Rogers; ‘his friends are pleased and his enemies delighted.’ A member of Parliament had been stopped in Italy by brigands, but was released, and Rogers used to say he owed his escape to his wife. ‘They wanted to carry off P—— to the mountains, but she flung her arms round his neck, and rather than take her with them they let him go.’ One day
Lady Davy, with whom Mr. Hayward says he was unceasingly at war, exclaimed across the dinner table, ‘Mr. Rogers, I am sure you are talking about me.’ ‘Lady Davy,’ answered Rogers, ‘I pass my life in defending you.’ Moore used to tell a story1 of his visit to Sloperton, where Moore’s dining-room was hung round with engraved portraits of Lord Grey, Lord John Russell, Lord Lansdowne, and others. ‘Why, you have all your patrons here.’ A good-natured man, said Moore in telling the story, would have said friends. Rogers’s

1 In a letter published in the eighth volume of Moore’s Life , he tells Rogers (p. 279), ‘I did not think you would have seen my late Epistle, the channel through which it appeared lying so much out of your way, your “solar track.” Did you at all remember the circumstance in which it originated? It was your saying to me, the last time you were at Sloperton, on seeing the prints we have hung round our dining-room, ‘Why, you have all your patrons here.” The twelve first lines were written the day after that visit, and never thought of again till very lately, when I added the remainder.’ (April 18, 1839.)

friends amply repaid him for his cynical remarks on them. There were constant jokes at his appearance—his countenance always being singularly pale, and in more advanced years cadaverous and wrinkled. One day, when he had been visiting the catacombs with a party of friends, Rogers emerged last. ‘Good-bye, Rogers,’ said
Lord Dudley, shaking his hand, and everybody understood the joke. Sydney Smith jocosely advised him, in having his portrait taken, to be drawn saying his prayers with his face in his hands. Lord Alvanley asked him why, as he could afford it, he did not set up his hearse, and the story used to be told that, on hailing a cab in St. Paul’s Churchyard, the affrighted cabman had exclaimed, ‘No, not you,’ and had taken him for a ghost. Another story was that Rogers, telling Ward that a watering-place to which he had gone was so full that he could not find a bed, Ward replied, ‘Dear me, was there no room in the churchyard?’

These jokes, which might be multiplied indefinitely, were taken by Rogers in good part. He sometimes repeated them to his friends with evident enjoyment. One example of his way of meeting them when they amounted to deliberate rudeness, is narrated in the most interesting and admirable ‘Reminiscences of Samuel Rogers,’ in ‘The Quarterly Review’ for October 1888, to which I have already referred. ‘On one occasion the writer was present when an instance occurred of that rudeness of attack which we just now hoped was obsolete. A small party were at table, Mr. Rogers and others present, including a gentleman well known for an inexcusable coarseness and freedom of speech, which eventually caused him to
be shunned in society. It was in the middle of dinner, when a tremendous knock at the front door was heard. “What’s that?” said the host, starting. The gentleman in question looked straight at Mr. Rogers. “It’s the devil come to carry off you.” Everyone was silent, the host looked all consternation, one lady half rose from her seat; when the small, distinct voice was heard, and in the blandest tones—“Perhaps he may have the discrimination” (the word of five syllables being pronounced with special clearness, and with a slightly nasal pause on the fourth syllable) “to prefer another member of the company.” In a moment of such embarrassment it was difficult to know what to do or say without adding to the embarrassment of the host, but the attack could not be left unnoticed; Mr. Rogers said the right thing and yet kept his place as a gentleman. The retort, unlike the attack, was not personal; but it satisfied the guests, it was understood by all, the lady subsided, the host raised a slight laugh, and the thing passed off.’ He treated with similar coolness and self-control the attacks which were made upon him in the press. During
Theodore Hook’s editorship of the Tory weekly paper ‘John Bull,’ Rogers was the object of a long series of personal attacks. Theodore Hook, with the ‘loud voice, blazing red face, and staring black eyes,’ of which Fanny Kemble speaks, was not more the antithesis of Rogers in personal appearance than he was in mind and in manners. His mode of attack on Rogers was to father upon him many of his vulgar jokes and far-fetched, and sometimes indecent puns. I have before me a huge mass of statements about Rogers, taken from the paper he edited. They consist
of puns, rhymes, sometimes short letters, attributed to Rogers, now with his full name, then with his initials, and then again in the indirect and round-about way such writers affect. Some of these things got considerable currency, a few of them are still told as his, but it is needless to say that they are all inventions intended to wound him. Most of them are vulgar, some are utterly pointless, and all are poor. I have looked through them in vain for anything worth quoting. The best of them is a quiz on the never-failing subject of his personal appearance, which got considerable popularity at the time, and, I am told by an octogenarian friend, who repeated the stanzas to me from memory, that sixty years ago they created considerable amusement among his friends. The lines appeared in ‘John Bull’ on the 7th of March, 1824, under the heading—

Human Life.
Cries Sam, ‘All Human Life is frail,
E’en mine may not endure;
Then, lest it suddenly should fail,
I’ll hasten to insure.’
At Morgan’s office1 Sam arrived,
Beckoning without his host;
‘Avaunt!’ the frightened Morgan cried,
‘I can’t insure a ghost.’
‘Zounds! ’tis my poem, not my face;
Here, list while I recite it.’
Said Morgan, ‘Seek some other place,
I cannot underwrite it.’

1 The Equitable Insurance Office in Blackfriars. William Morgan, nephew of Dr. Price and a friend of Rogers, was actuary of the Equitable, which attained a very high position under his management.


Theodore Hook ceased to edit ‘John Bull’ in 1830; and the long series of puns attributed to Rogers and of rhymed attacks upon him ceased. They were renewed in the ‘Chit-Chat’ of ‘The Metropolitan’ in 1835; but Campbell, who was then editing it, expressed his great annoyance and regret, and there was an end of them so far as that magazine was concerned.

In the ‘Reminiscences of Samuel Rogers,’ in ‘The Quarterly Review,’ already quoted, the writer, who had known Rogers intimately in his old age, puts on record some personal recollections of him. ‘It is the more desirable,’ says the Reviewer, ‘to record these recollections from the fact that exaggerated ideas as to the asperity of his tongue, and vulgar ones, even, as to his personal appearance, have obtained a credence which can only be refuted by personal testimony.’ The Reviewer’s personal testimony on the first of these points is that Rogers’s tongue was ‘an incisive organ, never allowed to grow blunt or rusty, but kept bright and well pointed for needful occasions—moreover, always polite and always distinct, which immensely increased its effect; but, what has been forgotten by his detractors, it was strictly used for defence, never for provocation, and for defence of others quite as much as of himself. Although, therefore, within these limits no one could better say a bitterer thing, yet, all will admit that he never said a vulgar or a rude one; or that that small and distinct voice ever failed to be lifted up in praise of merit or defence of the injured.’ On the second point, that of personal appearance, the Reviewer is equally emphatic. Quoting from a recent work in which an obscure enemy
of Rogers has said that he was ‘as repellent in countenance as he was shrivelled in heart and contracted in mind,’ ‘that he was like a death’s head, and that he frightened people by his ugliness,’ the Reviewer calls it ‘scurrilous trash which one is almost ashamed to repeat,’ and adds, ‘Mr. Rogers had no pretension to good looks; he was very pale and very bald; but, as may be seen in the engraving from
Sir Thomas Lawrence’s life-size drawing, which forms the frontispiece to his poems (edition 1845), he was gentle and intelligent-looking. He looked, in short, what he was: a benevolent man and a thorough gentleman. In these respects he was not unlike Mr. Wilberforce, whose actual plainness was far greater, and increased by considerable deformity of person, but whose social and mental rank could never be mistaken.’

Three letters, two in answer to welcome epistles from him, and one by him to his sister Sarah, give a view of him in his social relations which supplies the natural and sufficient antidote to much depreciation.

The Dowager Duchess of Sutherland to Samuel Rogers.
‘Dunrobin: 2nd August [1835],

‘You see what you have brought upon yourself, my dear Mr. Rogers, by a letter so acceptable as that I received two days ago, and the contents of which reassured me as to your recovery, though I had not seen the alarming part of the notices so ably collected by our friend in St. Paul’s, and which play with the feelings of the reader by the sudden changes and reverses they exhibit, and end by so useful a caution against ginger beer.
I wish to hear from some authority besides his own that
Mr. Grenville is again well.

‘I see we quite agree about young Canning. They are both very amiable people, and were proceeding with zeal on the most tiresome tour you can conceive, of twenty miles a-day, towards the North Sea, when some letters of business induced him to turn towards the south. Since the meeting of the council of Trent, I have continued in my usual society, which I like much, and in the mornings I am occupied much to my satisfaction. My buildings go on well. That here will be indebted entirely to Mr. Westmacott for turning out as it does. My larger work of a church also owes much to his good taste, and will be very handsome. It is to be restored in as far as possible to what it was when built by Saint Bar in 1100. The then Earl of Caithness attacked and “herried” it, took St. Bar, made him into soup, boiled and eat him at his Castle of Girnigo; for many years afterwards it was frequently attacked and destroyed by the same family, but is now in a way completely to recover. I have remarked to its clergyman, that though the new Earl of Caithness is living quietly at Edinburgh and does not come here, still, from the uncertain state of things, he must not be too sure of not being “grillé,” which I trust will keep him in a good and quiet frame of mind.

‘I think the Duke of Somerset’s domestic happiness is likely to be very much improved by the new step he has taken,1 though I do not know the lady, and I hear he has behaved very handsomely to his daughters in making

1 The Duke of Somerset had married, on the 28th of July, his second wife. He had been a widower for rather more than eight years.

them (and himself) independent; cela vaut mieux que de garder son argent et de payer de sa personne.

‘I ought not to bore you with all my nonsense, but your letter, and the gratitude I feel for it, made it irresistible. I hear that Lord Dunmore has had some attack, but I cannot learn any particulars; if true, it is much to be regretted. I can only hear of him here by those who talk of his purchase of what is called the Long Island, which is said to be a very good one, though one should not in one’s ignorance have supposed it to be so.

‘What weather! It is now better. I see the D. of Rutland has been nearly drowned—I hate those yachts.

‘Dear Mr. Rogers,
‘Most truly yours,
‘E. G. S.’
William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers.
‘Lowther Castle: 28th Sept. [1835].

‘I have long owed you an acknowledgment, my dear Friend, for an affectionate letter, which was very welcome, distressed as we were, had been, and alas! still are.

‘It is a week since I came to this hospitable mansion, which I leave to-day. The country is most beautiful, the leaves in many places changed to the exact point of autumnal splendour and variety. During my walks I missed you much, and also our friend Sir George. Lady Frederick is not here, she comes at the end of the week. Lord Lonsdale had a sharp attack of indisposition when he first came, but he threw it off in two or three days, and, to the great joy of his friends, is as active and well
as ever.
Lady Lonsdale also, one of the best of women, is quite well. Lady Ann and Miss Thompson are both here; so is Mrs. O’Callaghan.

‘You will be desirous, I am sure, to learn how our invalids are. My dear sister, in bodily health, is decidedly better, though quite unable to stand. Her mind, however, is, I grieve to say, much shattered. The change showed itself upon the death of dear Miss Hutchinson, but probably was preparing before. Her case at present is very strange; her judgment, her memory, and all her faculties are perfect as ever, with the exception of what relates to her own illness and passing occurrences. If I ask her opinion upon any point of literature, she answers with all her former acuteness; if I read Milton, or any favourite author, and pause, she goes on with the passage from memory, but she forgets instantly the circumstances of the day. Considering that she is not sixty-four years of age, I cannot but hope that her mind may be restored, if her bodily health should go on improving.

‘My daughter is a good deal better, but very far from being strong and well. Lady Lonsdale is in the room and begs to be remembered to you.

‘When shall we meet again? You know well how much I delight in your conversation and what a value I set upon your friendship. I am not likely to be soon in London, but when will you come again northwards?

Miss Kinnaird, I am told, is about to be married to L. Drummond,1 of calculating celebrity. Is he an amiable

1 Lieutenant Drummond was the inventor of the lime-light, first called the ‘Drummond light,’ and of a heliostat. He was engaged on

man? I should like to know, for she is a great favourite with me and mine.

Miss Rogers, I hope, is well. My poor body is always getting into some scrape or other. Last year it was my foot, now it is my right arm which I have sprained so violently that I can scarcely guide my pen, and I much fear you will not think my letter worth the trouble of deciphering.

Southey, from whom I heard this morning, is upon the point of finishing his first volume of Cowper. His edition will have 101 original letters of the poet. Pray write at your early convenience, as I wish to know how you are and where spending the summer.

‘Most affectionately yours,
‘W. Wordsworth.’
Samuel Rogers to Sarah Rogers.
[Broadstairs: 30th Sept., 1835.]

‘My dear Sarah,—Many thanks for your kind letter. I was in the very act of writing to you when it arrived. Henry Sharpe I met, half way in my walk to St. Peter’s, between five and six o’clock. He was on the stage box and I was on foot. But he and Sam called in the evening, and I was glad to receive his account and your own.

the Ordnance Survey from 1823 to 1830. In 1831 he was made head of the Boundary Commission under the Reform Act, and his biographer, Mr. E. Barry O’Brien, thinks it was in connection with his services on this commission that Wordsworth speaks of him as ‘of calculating celebrity.’ From 1835 to 1840 he was Irish Secretary, and in a reply to the Tipperary magistrates reminded them, in words which have become historical, that ‘Property has its duties as well as its rights.’ His Irish administration was regarded as, up to that time, the most successful in the history of Ireland.

Maltby left us yesterday, and as he went to call upon you to-day, you will probably, if he sees you, hear more than I can tell you. As I could not take leave of Patty, I wrote to her some days ago, and my letter, I suppose, followed her to Brighton. I slept, coming down, at Rochester and Canterbury, and found when I arrived that I could not have been taken in before the Tuesday, Lord Shaftesbury having vacated the rooms on that day. So I lost only three days. Mr. Talbot and his boy have the next room, and Mrs. Enderby and her twenty girls the next house. The girls sleep on mattresses on the floor and are seldom seen, never I think by me but when a puppet show was exhibited on the grass plot for the amusement of Master Talbot, an exhibition of which the twenty orphans partook, crowding their windows. When they walk I don’t know. My eyes are tolerably well and the inflammation is nearly gone, scarcely perceptible. Once or twice I have been waked by a great smarting and great discharge from the tear vessel, such as I had some years ago, but that I believe to arise from a humour in the lid, not in the eye. In all other respects I never was better, and I wish you could say the same, my dear Sarah. Our weather has been beautiful, and I reproach myself all day, and all night too, the full moon is so glorious, for not enjoying it as I ought to do. One event at Broadstairs I had forgot, and must leave to M. to do justice to—Miss Hale is married. He has never caught a glimpse of her, though she lives at St. Peter’s, but he never passed her door without silently pointing to it and then turning away. Sam and his family I have generally seen every day. They are for ever on the
sands, collecting shells and weeds, and he and she are very active, having been up the Lighthouse and up the Windmill, and filling their sketch books with sails and steamers. To-day they have promised to eat goose with me. You will have the traveller, and hear much of Venice and Florence, I hope, and perhaps give some instructions about the house. I am very sorry for you, as nothing is so harassing as doubt and perplexity when even time, the great settler in most matters, can render you no service. Pray give my love to all under your roof, and believe me to be, my dear Sarah,

‘Yours very affectionately,
‘S. R.

‘How long I shall stay I cannot say, perhaps till Wednesday, and then, perhaps, return by Tunbridge. Maltby has become more abstracted than ever. He saw nothing without, as you say. You would think the only child in the world was Master Talbot, whom he met on the stairs and admired over much. T. himself, whenever he comes in, exchanges his coat for a dressing-gown ten times a-day, and drinks wine and brandy all day long. No wonder the two ladies left him. He has been here about six weeks, having left Hastings, as the Nurse told me, in April. The parlour is as full of toys as a toy shop, and the boy utterly spoilt. Lady Ashburnham is at Ramsgate.’

The Commission for examining and reporting on the plans offered in the competition for the building of the new Houses of Parliament was nominated in the course of the summer, and Rogers was appointed one of the
Commissioners. His colleages in the Commission were
Mr. C. H. Tracy, Sir E. Cust, Mr. T. Liddell, and Mr. George Vyvyan. It was one of the few public duties placed on him, and was discharged with much satisfaction.

Crabb Robinson writes—

‘Nov. 29th, 1835.—I breakfasted with Mr. Rogers, tête-à-tête, staying with him from ten till one o’clock. A very agreeable morning, and I left him with feelings of enhanced respect. There was very little of that severity of remark for which he is reproached. Candour and good sense marked all he said. He talked about Wordsworth, Byron, and Goethe. He seemed sufficiently prepossessed in favour of Goethe, and I have lent him Mrs. Austin’s book. Of Lord Byron he spoke freely, especially of his sensitiveness as to what was said of him. He spoke very highly of Wordsworth, but with qualifications which would not satisfy Wordsworth’s admirers. He thinks he is likely now to be over-lauded, as he was before to be under-rated. I was least prepared for his affirming that Wordsworth is a careless versifier. He thinks his blank verse better than his rhymes. On moral subjects and religion Rogers showed much seriousness. He spoke of the much greater distinctness with which he could recollect his faults than his kind actions: “Every man has his kind moments; of course, I, as well as others—and it is distressing I cannot recollect them.” “A Pharisee would,” I replied, “and surely it is better not.” Rogers produced a small volume which he praised greatly—“Clio on Taste, by J. Usher.”’


Early in 1836 Moore was again in London and in his Diary there are some very pleasant accounts of literary mornings or evenings with Rogers

February 24th.—Called upon Rogers and stayed some time with him: most agreeable and cordial. Told me some amusing things, one of which was Theodore Hook’s saying to some man with whom a bibliopolist dined the other day, and got extremely drunk, “Why, you appear to me to have emptied your wine-cellar into your book-seller.”

‘28th.—Went to Rogers’s, and while there, Lord and Lady Seymour called, she looking in great beauty. . . .

‘29th.—Breakfasted with Rogers to meet Taylor and young Villiers. Conversation on various topics. Referred to Shakespeare’s Sonnets for one that Taylor had, on some former occasion, praised to Rogers. It begins, “That time of year thou may’st in me behold,” and is full of sweet thought and language throughout. The first four lines are exquisite—
‘That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold:
Bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
A good deal of conversation about
Southey, who is a great friend of Taylor’s.’

There is a letter of this date from Washington Irving introducing the author of ‘Alnwick Castle,’ ‘Marco Bozzaris,’ some spirited lines ‘On the Death of Drake,’
and other poems. The letter has a further interest of its own—

Washington Irving to Samuel Rogers.
‘New York: 3rd Feb., 1836.

‘My dear Sir,—You will receive herewith a small volume containing poems by Mr. Fitz Greene Halleck, an American author, whose name is probably already known to you, and some of whose writings you may have seen in collections of American poetry published in England. I send the volume to you at the request of the author, in testimony of that admiration of your poetry, and high esteem for your private worth, which he feels in common with his countrymen.

‘Mr. H. has published in this volume merely a selection from his various poems which have appeared from time to time in our periodical works. He might have extended the selection with advantage, as he has omitted several of great merit, possessing much terseness of language and epigrammatic point; but which he may have thought too local, temporary, and satirical in their nature for republication. Some of them lashed the follies of the day and of his countrymen with much spirit and wit, but without harshness, and produced a great sensation at the time.

‘The specimens he has furnished, however, will be sufficient to give you an idea of his talents, and as I think, to satisfy you that the reputation he enjoys among his countrymen is not unmerited.

‘I am building a little cottage on the banks of the
Hudson, and hope, in the course of the spring, to have, for the first time in my life, a roof of my own over my head. It stands in the midst of the “fairy haunts of long lost hours,” in a neighbourhood endeared to me by boyish recollections, and commands one of our magnificent river prospects. I only wish I could have you there as a guest, and shew my sense of that kind and long-continued hospitality enjoyed in your classic little mansion in St. James’s Place.

‘Ever, my dear Sir,
‘Most truly and affectionately your friend,
Washington Irving.’

The next is from a more familiar hand.

William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers.
‘Rydal Mount [18th Feb., 1836.]

‘Many and sincere thanks, my dear Friend, for your grand present of Watkins’s Gray, which reached me a few days ago. I have already skimmed the second volume, which was new to me; and I hope for much pleasure and profit from the perusal of most of it at leisure. This last word, by the by, reminds me of a reference I found to Oldham, for the words—
‘I have not yet leisure to be good.

‘You recollect that long ago I said to you I was sure the line would be found somewhere, and if I am not mistaken you told me, some time after, you had met with it in Owen Feltham’s prose. Is this so?


‘I shall greatly value these two superb volumes, and more for your sake than for their own, and I hope that they of my family into whose hands they may pass will also prize them as a memorial of our friendship.

‘I have not forgotten that I am in your debt for a letter received many months ago, and for which you would have been thanked long since if I could have added anything respecting myself or family which it would have gratified you to learn. We struggle on, bearing up under our trials and afflictions as well as with God’s help we can. My daughter is something better, though not able to exert herself, but for my poor sister, though her bodily health is better upon the whole, this blessing is more than counterbalanced by a disorder of the mind, obviously proceeding from some inflammatory action upon the brain. Mrs. W. continues pretty well.

‘Last summer I saw a good deal of our excellent friends both at Lowther and Whitehaven. Lady Frederick was there, and you were often talked about. At Whitehaven I had frequent walks upon the cliffs, which were not unproductive of poetic suggestions, I do not presume to say inspirations. Possibly, and even probably, T may visit London before the spring is over; if so, how happy shall I be to renew my conversations and walks with you. These are (truly may I say it) among the principal attractions London has for me. With kindest remembrances to yourself and sister, in which my own poor dear sister is still able to join with us all, I remain, my dear Friend,

‘Faithfully yours,
W. Wordsworth.

‘P.S. Be so good as to say to Moxon that I wish him to present you, as from me, a couple of copies of my verses upon Lamb—one for your sister. I should have expressed this wish to himself upon the slip on the other side had there been room.’

Wordsworth carried out the intention of visiting London in the spring or summer, and Sir Henry Taylor has a little story to tell about it. Speaking in a letter to Miss Fenwick of a breakfast to Wordsworth, he says: ‘I committed the mistake of asking Rogers, which made two suns in one system, Edward Villiers said; or, as Lister amended it, a sun and a moon, which was bad, for Rogers’s position does not admit of people treating him as a listener, and as he cannot keep pace with Wordsworth, he must necessarily break a party into two conversations.’ 1

A little later in the year he says, in a letter to Miss Fenwick: ‘By way of variety I dined yesterday téte-à-téte with old Rogers, and he was very agreeable. I dare say there is no man living who has seen so much of so many eminent men as he has, touching as he does all circles—philosophic, literary, political, naval and military, and artistical. I suppose there is hardly any hero or man of genius of our times, from Nelson and Crabbe downwards, who has not dined at Rogers’s table; and he can tell something worth hearing of them all, and can tell it in the most agreeable manner.’ 2

This was in the summer. Moore makes some almost similar remarks a few months earlier.

1 Correspondence of Sir H. Taylor, p. 72. 2 Ibid., p. 76.


April 6th, 1836.—Dined at Miss Rogers’s, R. and I and Sydney going there together: company, the Hollands, the Langdales, Lady Davy, Surgeon Travers, and Rogers’s nephew. Sydney highly amusing in the evening. His description of the dining process, by which people in London extract all they can from new literary lions, was irresistibly comic. “Here’s a new man of genius arrived: put on the stewpan; fry away; we’ll soon get it all out of him.” On this and one or two other topics he set off in a style that kept us all in roars of laughter.

April 13th.—Breakfast at Brooks’s, and from thence to Rogers’s, where I found (as one is sure always to find the best things going) Lord Jeffrey, whom I had not seen for a length of time, and was most glad to find so well and prosperous, with the honours of his new judgeship fresh about him. They say there cannot be a better or more satisfactory judge, which I rejoice at exceedingly, not only for his sake, but as an answer to your dull prosemen who conceit that none but themselves are fit for grave occupations, and look down upon men of lively fancy as little better than (what the lawyers used to call) “diverting vagabonds.” Jeffrey’s wife and daughter were also of the party, as well as old Whishaw, who mentioned an amusing instance of Dr. Parr’s stilted phraseology. In addressing a well-known lawyer (whose name I now forget), after some great forensic display he had made, Parr said, “Sir, you are incapable of doing justice to your own argument; you weaken it by diffusion and perplex it by reiteration.” Jeffrey, in allusion to my healthy looks, said I was the only “vernal thing” he had yet seen.


April 14th, 1836.—Dinner with Rogers, none but ourselves. Opera, the “Gazza Ladra,” perfect in every way; with four such singers as Grisi, Lablache, Tamburini, and Rubini all doing their best, it could not be otherwise. By the omission of the part of Pippo, the piece was in some degree estropié, but altogether the effect was delicious. Very pretty dancing afterwards by Grisi’s sister—her first appearance.

April 16th.—. . . . To dinner at Lord Essex’s; company: Rogers (who took me), Luttrell, Byng, Rich, and one or two more, whom I forget. Conversation agreeable, particularly Lord Essex’s stories about the Prince and old Travis.

April 19th.—. . . Went from Rogers’s to Devonshire House; a large assembly, where I met a number of old acquaintances. . . . As I was coming away from Devonshire House, there was that gay “young gentleman about town,” Rogers, just arrived, having got rid of his own party, and still so “up to everything,” as to think it worth his while to come out at this late hour (between twelve and one o’clock) to attend a ducal assembly! Long may he be able and willing to do so, say I.’

In the late summer Rogers writes to his sister, who was travelling on the Continent with their niece Mary—

Samuel Rogers to Sarah Rogers.
‘Broadstairs: Sept. 28 [1836].

‘My dear Sarah,—Your kind letter of the 19th found me here as you guessed, for here I arrived ten days ago. Your former from Pau found me in the act of setting
out, and I answered it to Marseilles, while the carriage stood at the door, on the 17th. That night I slept at Rochester and the next at Canterbury, where I spent an hour in the evening with
Lady Byron, whom I had not seen for twenty-two years. Here I found Maltby, who had answered my proposal with an equivocal letter and who still hesitates, excusing himself on account of his health. So I shall say no more to him on the subject. To tell you the truth, the prospect of going and returning alone dispirits me, together with the chance of passing a very short time with you two in Paris so late in the year. I wrote last week to propose it to William Sharpe, but he was engaged to some friends near Havre. So I am in a thousand minds and at a loss what to do. I hope and trust you will go to Genoa, as you can never have a better opportunity, that is, if the cholera is gone, of which I have heard only that it has been subsiding of late in Italy—but at Marseilles you can surely learn. Here is Miss Stephens’s brother with his family, and at Ramsgate I met on the pier Mrs. Scott, the Miss Biggs who is married, with another daughter. They are at a boarding house, and inquired much about you two. I am delighted to think you have had so prosperous a journey—you say nothing about health, so I hope you are both well. To-day we have been to some races near Margate. At Ramsgate I met with Mr. Webb, my fellow-traveller in 1802. He is returning to Paris, and if I go it will most probably be with him, but pray don’t alter your plans for me, as our stay at Paris would at all events be so short in the cold season. Mr. Robinson is in this neighbourhood on a visit, and one morning breakfasts with us, talking of
Wordsworth and Goethe. The weather here has been fine; and the moon, at the full for the three last nights, has given us recollections of the Mediterranean—I say us, but my companion seldom looks out after dark, and almost always withdraws to his room at nine; to-night, having a cold, he went at seven. His protégée is here, boarding in the house; she came, and will of course return, with him. Mr. Coope and his family were here and are just gone. Poor Malibran. She died, you know, at Manchester in her twenty-seventh year. Pray give my love to Mary, and believe me

‘Yours ever,
S. Rogers.’

He overcame his hesitation and went to Paris, where he met his sister and his niece on their return, and came home with them at the end of November. ‘I had a delightful ride with my uncle to Rochester,’ says his niece, though all the way from Paris the weather was dismal with unceasing rain. Moore had been in London in his absence, and records that Rogers wrote to reproach him for not taking up his quarters at St. James’s Place. ‘Why did not you, the other day, come at once to my house and ask for a bed there. Have I not told you to do so again and again, you varlet you?’

Fanny Kemble’s (Mrs. Butler’s) stories of Rogers appear to belong to this period. She writes—

‘The occasion of my becoming acquainted with my admirable and very kind friend, the Rev. Sydney Smith, was a dinner at Mr. Rogers’s to which I had been asked
to meet
Lord and Lady Holland, by special desire, as I was afterwards informed, of the latter, who, during dinner, drank out of her neighbour (Sydney Smith’s) glass, and otherwise behaved herself with the fantastic despotic impropriety in which she frequently indulged, and which might have been tolerated in a spoilt beauty of eighteen, but was hardly becoming in a woman of her age and “personal appearance.” When first I came out on the stage, my father and mother, who occasionally went to Holland House, received an invitation to dine there, which included me; after some discussion, which I did not then understand, it was deemed expedient to decline the invitation for me, and I neither knew the grounds of my parent’s decision, nor of how brilliant and delightful a society it had then closed the door to me. On my return to England after my marriage, Lady Holland’s curiosity revived with regard to me, and she desired Rogers to ask me to meet her at dinner, which I did; and the impression she made upon me was so disagreeable that for a time it involved every member of that dinner-party in a halo of undistinguishing dislike in my mind. . . . Altogether the evening was unsuccessful, if its purpose had been an acquaintance between Lady Holland and myself. . . . She complained to Charles Greville that I would not let her become acquainted with me, and twice after our first unavailing meeting at Rogers’s made him ask me to meet her again, each time, however, with no happier result.

‘The first time, after making herself generally obnoxious at dinner, she at length provoked Rogers, who, the conversation having fallen upon the subject of
beautiful hair, and
Lady Holland saying, “Why, Rogers, only a few years ago I had such a head of hair that I could hide myself in it, and I’ve lost it all,” merely answered, “What a pity!”—but with such a look and tone that an exultant giggle ran round the table at her expense. . . . Rogers’s keen-eyed wit seemed to cut his lips as he uttered it; Sydney Smith’s was without sting or edge or venomous point of malice, and his genial humour was really the overflowing of a kindly heart.

Rogers’s helpful benevolence and noble generosity to poor artists, poor authors, and all distressed whom he could serve or succour was unbounded; he certainly had the kindest heart and the unkindest tongue of any one I ever knew. His benefits remind me of a comical story my dear friend Harness once told me of a poor woman at whose lamentations over her various hardships one of his curates was remonstrating. “Oh come, come now, my good woman, you must allow that Providence has been, on the whole, very good to you.” “So He ‘ave, sir, so He ‘ave mostly. I don’t deny it; but I sometimes think He ‘ave taken it out in corns.” I think Rogers took out his benevolence, in some directions, in the corns he inflicted, or at any rate trod upon, in others.

Mr. Rogers’s inveterate tongue-gall was like an irresistible impulse, and he certainly bestowed it occasionally, without the least provocation, upon persons whom he professed to like. He was habitually kind to me, and declared he was fond of me. One evening (just after the publication of my stupid drama, “The Star of Seville”), he met me with a malignant grin, and the exclamation, “Ah, I’ve just been reading your play. So
nice! young poetry!”—with a diabolical dig of emphasis on the “young.” “Now, Mr. Rogers,” said I, “what did I do to deserve that you should say that to me?” I do not know whether this appeal disarmed him, but his only answer was to take me affectionately by the chin, much as if he had been my father. When I told my
sister of this, she, who was a thousand times quicker witted than I, said, “Why didn’t you tell him that young poetry was better than old?”

‘Walking one day in the Green Park, I met Mr. Rogers and Wordsworth, who took me between them, and I continued my walk in great glory and exultation of spirit, listening to Rogers and hearing Wordsworth—the gentle rill of the one speech broken into by sudden loud splashes of the other; when Rogers, who had vainly been trying to tell some anecdote, pathetically exclaimed, “He won’t let me tell my story!” I immediately stopped, and so did Wordsworth, and during this halt Rogers finished his recital. Presently afterwards, Wordsworth having left us, Rogers told me that he (Mr. Wordsworth), in a visit he had been lately paying at Althorp, was found daily in the magnificent library, but never without a volume of his own poetry in his hand. Years after this, when I used to go and sit with Mr. Rogers, I never asked him what I should read to him without his putting into my hands his own poems, which always lay by him on his table.

‘A comical instance of the rivalry of wits (surely as keen as that of beauties), occurred one day when Mr. Rogers had been calling on me, and speaking of that universal social favourite, Lady Morley, he said, “There
is but one voice against her in all England, and that is her own.” (A musical voice was the only charm wanting to Lady Morley’s delightful conversation.) I was enchanted with this pretty epigram, so unlike in its tone to Mr. Rogers’s usual friendly comments; and very soon after he left me,
Sydney Smith coming in, I told him how clever and how pleasant a remark the “departed” poet (Sydney Smith often spoke of Rogers as dead on account of his cadaverous complexion) had made on Lady Morley’s voice. “He never said it,” exclaimed my second illustrious visitor. “But he did, Mr. Smith, to me, in this room, not half an hour ago.” “He never made it; it isn’t his; it isn’t a bit like him.” To all of which I could only repeat that, nevertheless, he had said it, and that, whether he made it or not, it was extremely well made. Presently Sydney Smith went away. I was living in Upper Grosvenor Street, close to Park Lane; and he in Green Street, in the near neighbourhood. But I believe he must have run from my house to his own, so short was the interval of time before I received the following note, “Dans toute l’Angleterre iln’y a qu’une voix contre moi, et c’est la mienne.” Then followed the signature of a French lady of the eighteenth century, and these words: “What a dear, innocent, confiding, credulous creature you are! and how you do love Rogers.—Sydney Smith.”’

Crabb Robinson says:—

February 23rd, 1837.—An agreeable day. I breakfasted with Samuel Rogers. We had a long and interesting chat about Landor, Wordsworth, Southey, &c. Rogers is
a good teller of anecdotes! He spoke with great affection of
Mrs. Barbauld. Of Southey’s genius and moral virtues he spoke with respect; but Southey is anti-popular—not a friend to the improvement of the people. We talked of slander and the truth blended with it. A friend repeated to Rogers a saying by Wilkes: “Give me a grain of truth, and I will mix it up with a great mass of falsehood, so that no chemist shall ever be able to separate them.” Talking of composition, he showed me a note to his “Italy,” which he says took him a fortnight to write. It consists of a very few lines. Wordsworth has amplified the idea of this note in his poem on the picture of Miss Quillinan by Stone. Rogers says, and I think truly, that the prose is better than the poem. The thought intended to be expressed is, that the picture is the substance, and the beholders are the shadows.’

Moore was in London, as usual, in the spring, and there are some points of interest in his Diary.

April 7th, 1837.—Went to Brooks’s, where Rogers came to look for me. Offered to dine with him to-day, which he most heartily agreed to. . . . Rogers very agreeable. Mentioned the Duke of Wellington saying to some enthusiastic woman, who was talking in raptures about the glories of a victory, “I should so like to witness a victory!” &c., &c. “My dear madam, a victory is the greatest tragedy in the world except one,—and that is a defeat.”

April 24th.—Dined at Lord Grey’s; company, besides their own family: the Hollands, Rogers, Lord Duncannon,
Ellice. The day very agreeable. In the evening came some of the Carlisles, and the Duke of Sutherland, with his engaging Duchess, who combines the thoroughly feminine woman with the air of the “high-born ladye” in a most remarkable and pleasing manner.

‘29th.—After breakfasting at Rogers’s, went to Maclise’s and gave him a long sitting; ditto to Moore at his house in Holland Street. Was obliged to be dressed and ready at half-past four to accompany Rogers to the Academy in order to have a view of the exhibition before dinner. The whole thing, exhibition, dinner, and company, a spectacle well worth being present at. Was sorry to see that the Duke of Wellington entirely forgets me, though to be sure so many years have passed since I dined at his table in Dublin, when he was secretary there, that it is by no means to be wondered at. We have been thrown together once or twice in society of late years, and then, from the few words that passed between us, I was in hopes that he remembered me; but from the manner in which he received me to-day, when Rogers, after shaking hands with him himself, made a sort of half presentation of me to him, I am pretty sure he has no recollection of me whatever. Got seated near Jones, the artist, who, in talking of Turner’s forthcoming designs from “The Epicurean,” mentioned his having “attempted” some subjects from it himself, and his being curious to see whether Turner had fixed upon the same.’

Crabb Robinson writes—


August 17th, 1837.—I breakfasted with Rogers this morning; Empson went with me. Wordsworth there. A very interesting chat with him about his poetry. He repeated emphatically what he had said to me before, that he did not expect or desire from posterity any other fame than that which would be given him for the way in which his poems exhibit man in his essentially human character and relations—as child, parent, husband—the qualities which are common to all men as opposed to those which distinguish one man from another. His Sonnets are not, therefore, the work that he esteems the most. Empson and I had spoken of the Sonnets as our favourites; he said, “You are both wrong.” Rogers, however, attacked the form of the Sonnet with exaggeration, that he might be less offensive. I regret my inability to record more of Wordsworth’s conversation. Empson related that Jeffrey had lately told him that so many people had thought highly of Wordsworth, that he resolved to reperuse his poems, and see if he had anything to retract. Empson, I believe, did not end his anecdote; he had before said to me that Jeffrey, having done so, found nothing to retract, except, perhaps, a contemptuous and flippant phrase or two. Empson says he believed Jeffrey’s distaste for Wordsworth to be honest—mere uncongeniality of mind. Talfourd, who is now going to pay Jeffrey a visit, says the same. Jeffrey does acknowledge that he was wrong in his treatment of Lamb.’

In the same month there are further records by Moore of talks with Rogers and his friends. One day
Moore meets at his house at breakfast a celebrated Frenchman and a Polish refugee,
Count Krasinski. Wordsworth is there at dinner, full of his Continental tour. Moore tells him of a young man who had seen him in Italy and boasted of it, and Moore says, ‘The sublime Laker replied, “Oh, Virgilium tantum vidi,” but, immediately conscious of the assumption, turned it off with a laugh.’ On another day Wordsworth, Landseer, and Henry Taylor are at Rogers’s with Moore, and the conversation turns on Campbell’s poetry,’ which they are all much disposed to carp at and depreciate, especially Wordsworth.’ Moore remarks that some of Campbell’s odes bid fair for immortality, ‘on which,’ says he, ‘they all began to pick holes in some of the most beautiful of these things—
‘Every sod beneath their feet
Shall be a soldier’s sepulchre.
‘A sod being a sepulchre.’ ‘This,’ intercalates Moore, ‘perhaps, is open to objection.’ ‘The meteor flag of England braving the battle and the breeze’ was another of the things objected to, and Henry Taylor remarked that, ‘the coming events cast their shadows before’ was borrowed. Speaking of letter-writing, Taylor mentioned
Southey’s industry, and Wordsworth said he had such a horror of having his letters preserved, that in order to guard against it he made them as bad and dull as possible. This is a matter in which posterity takes leave to differ entirely from Wordsworth. Moore says that on another day Rogers read over to him some last verses of his own and showed great sensibility in doing so. ‘Part
of the feeling in them consists in sadly anticipating all that youth has before it in life, of wrong as well as of suffering, of wrong that will be regretted in after years.’ In the autumn there was what the papers called a Whig conclave at Bowood, and Rogers and his
sister, as well as Sydney Smith, were of it. It was a gathering for amusement and relaxation, and not for business. Moore, who reports no political talk, puts on record another trait of Rogers’s character.

October 18th, 1837.—Joined Rogers and Sydney in a walk before breakfast. . . . After breakfast, set off to return home and Rogers accompanied me. Nothing could be more agreeable and amiable than he was. In talking of his age (he is now some months turned seventy-five—[this should be seventy-four]) he said, “If I was asked what ailment I have I really could not say that I have any”; and yet, so delicate was his health up to the age of between thirty and forty, that it was difficult to keep him alive. We walked up and down between Sandy Lane Gate and the Calne Road three or four times, I still turning back with him and he then retreading his steps with me. In the course of our walk he said, “You know Mrs. Moore is my almoner.” I anticipated what was coming, and both for Bessy’s sake and the poor peoples’ rejoiced in my heart. He then took out of his pocket five sovereigns and gave them to me for the poor of Bromham.

‘One of my embarrassments, indeed, during his visit has been the fear lest Bessy should thank him for the five pounds I brought her in his name, for the same
purpose, two or three years since. But I had taken the opportunity of warning her against doing so, saying that it would look like asking for more. I now told him the circumstance of my having imposed upon her, as just stated, not saying, however, that it was in his name I had done so. I need not say how great was Bessy’s pleasure on my producing this new fund for her old women.’

Poor Haydon has left it on record, that on the fourth of November in this year he met Rogers in the Park and told him he had just been to the Duke of Sutherland’s to see Delaroche’s picture of Strafford. Haydon did not like it. It was too French, he said, and the basis of all French art he declared to be the theatre and the lay figure. Rogers touched him on the side and said, ‘Give us something better of the same sort—you could.’ It is needless to say that Haydon went home consoled, as Rogers, who always had a tender feeling for artists in misfortune, probably intended that he should.