LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Uvedale Price to Samuel Rogers, 26 December 1824

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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‘Foxley: Dec. 26, 1824.

‘You are always a long time in answering; but always make ample amends for the delay, and I am almost afraid of saying how much pleasure I received from your last letter, for fear you should think delay a necessary ingredient and be confirmed in your bad habit. As for confidence, you contrive to make it—according to the most hackneyed of quotations—“more honoured in the breach than the observance”; this is the second breach, and I hardly know by which of the two I have been most honoured. I began to repent having sent you such a long dissertation on accent, quantity, &c., but am now quite cock-a-hoop.

‘. . . It gives me great pleasure to hear that at your last visit to Dropmore you found Lord Grenville in good spirits. They so generally rise and fall with good and bad health that I hope his is gradually and steadily improving. I am not a little pleased to find that he was occupied with my last letter on the subject that so much occupies me, as you know to your cost; in one of his which I had received not long before, he had expressed his doubts on various points, and I thought the best way
of answering was by a sort of epitome, stating my leading positions and arguments, but, as I told him, without meaning to draw him into any further correspondence. This was very discreetly and properly said, but, I must own, not without a secret longing for its continuation.

‘The account you give of Lord Ashburnham is very pleasing and satisfactory. He always writes gaily and very agreeably; his frame of mind is naturally a cheerful one, and, as far as I have observed, he is not at all apt to see things en noir; but he left England with great reluctance under depressing circumstances and with the care of a large family and suite during a long journey. This must have been a weight on his spirits; it is now removed, and he can fully enjoy those interesting objects for which he has that keen relish and true feeling which is so often affected. I remember when I was at Florence (I dare say Lord Fitzwilliam would remember it, though it is not very far from sixty years since we were there) a young handsome French colonel, Français jusqu’à la moelle des os, arriving in his regimentals from Corsica. He did us English the honour of noticing us, and one day, when several of us were together in the Tribune, he advanced towards us with a true French air: “Messieurs,” said he, “je suis en extase! des bustes, des tableaux, des statues!” he never looked at any of them for two minutes together, or at anything but himself in the glass.

Lord Aberdeen’s journey must be a very melancholy one; and with little hope, I should fear, of his daughter’s recovery. The consumptive taint from the first Lady Aberdeen seems to have been uncommonly deep and virulent. I shall never forget my having seen, some
Lord Aberdeen's Family397
twenty or thirty years ago, a number of children coming out of a house in Grosvenor Square. I was so struck with their beauty that, when they had passed by me, I went up to the Porter, who, with the door half open, was following them with his eyes, and asked him whose children they were. “Lord Aberdeen’s,” he answered, “and there is not a finer family in all Britain.” I soon afterwards became acquainted with Lord Aberdeen, and soon very intimate; was continually at the Priory and saw these beautiful and amiable children growing up in all their loveliness, but mixed with the colour of youth and beauty was that of disease, with the “terrific glory” of
Homer’s Sirius—
Λαμπρότατος μεν οδʹ εστι, κακον δέ τε σημα τέτυκται,
Καί τε ϕέρει πολλον πυρετον δειλοιοι βροτοισιν.

‘This πυρετον, this inward feverish heat, slowly undermined their constitutions; they dropped off one after another, and of all that sportive group of cherubs that I had gazed at with such delight in their infancy, not one remains.

‘This is a melancholy subject, and I must go to another: poor Lady Oxford. I had heard with great concern of her dangerous illness, but hoped she might get through it, and was much, very much grieved to hear that it had ended fatally. I had, as you know, lived a great deal with her from the time she came into this country, immediately after her marriage, but for some years past, since she went abroad, had scarcely had any correspondence or intercourse with her, till I met her in town last spring. I then saw her twice, and both times
she seemed so overjoyed to see an old friend, and expressed her joy so naturally and cordially, that I felt no less overjoyed at seeing her after so long an absence. She talked, with great satisfaction, of our meeting for a longer time this next spring, little thinking of an eternal separation. There could not, in all respects, be a more ill-matched pair than herself and
Lord Oxford, or a stronger instance of the cruel sports of Venus, or, rather, of Hymen—

‘cui placet impares
Formas atque animos sub juga ahenea
Sævo mittere cum joco.

‘It has been said that she was, in some measure, forced into the match; had she been united to a man whom she had loved, esteemed, and respected, she herself might have been generally respected and esteemed as well as loved; but in her situation, to keep clear of all misconduct required a strong mind or a cold heart; perhaps both, and she had neither. Her failings were in no small degree the effect of circumstances; her amiable qualities all her own. There was something about her in spite of her errors remarkably attaching, and that something was not merely her beauty; “kindness has resistless charms,” and she was full of affectionate kindness to those she loved whether as friends or as lovers. As a friend, I always found her the same; never at all changeful or capricious; as I am not a very rigid moralist and am extremely open to kindness,
‘I could have better spared a better woman.

Sir Thomas Lawrence’s discourse I have not seen,
but shall send for it immediately. As you have a protégé in the same line, by your account a very interesting person, and with every sort of claim to your protection and best offices, I shall never say a word more to you of mine, who, instead of having six children, is still a bachelor.

‘With all our best regards, believe me ever most truly yours,

U. Price.

‘A few words in the cover about Valpy. As you do not give any direct opinion respecting the degree in which I am engaged to him, I conclude that you judge the case to be a doubtful one. Such, too, is my opinion; so I think it both safest and best to decide in his favour. This I am the more inclined to do from having lately heard some circumstances which shew that he is not likely to take any slight or disappointment with the gentlest patience, and he would, perhaps, be a not less formidable enemy than Bloomfield, and much more sure to become one. Were I completely disengaged I should, from your report, prefer Mr. Taylor. As the matter stands, I must try and manage Valpy as well as I can. Your method is to return upon your printer sheet after sheet, at his own cost, not yours, till justice is done you—all very natural if he commits mistakes; but I should understand from your account, that if he sends you a proof sheet correctly printed from your MS., and that you should have any of what you call your whims and fancies and should make alterations in it, he is obliged to make them on a fresh proof; and that if in that again
you should make more, he is to go on da capo till you are satisfied, and write the decisive word Press; and all this without any charge for the extra labour. Is this, or whatever may be agreed upon, merely verbal, or is anything put down in writing? I have always found a proof sheet a great suggester of alterations, and the man who printed my first essay told me that
Burke—whose printer he had been—used to say that he could never judge at all of his own works while they were in manuscript. Valpy, I should think, would not readily agree to the conditions your printer seems to have agreed to, nor to any out of his usual routine; and I should make a bad fight. When Mawman reprinted my “Essays,” he shared in the expenses and the profits, employing his own printer. If he should have no objection to doing the same, and to employing Valpy, he would have to deal with him in all that concerns the charges, and would have an interest in keeping him within due bounds. I am afraid, however, he would have very little regard for my whims and fancies, and would think it quite proper that those who have them should pay for them. I am not a little puzzled with all these pros and cons.

Quid faciam præscribe.’