LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Bryan Waller Procter, “For St. Cecilia’s Day,” 1818

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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“I send you some lines on a subject which, after Dryden’s ‘sounding line,’ it may perhaps be deemed presumption to touch. It is, generally speaking, but an indifferent production, which requires explanatory notes. I will hazard one, however, for the benefit of the ‘country gentlemen’ who read your paper, and beg them to observe that by the ‘Master Spirits’ of the time, I mean to allude to the following poets. I will name them in the Order in which they occur in the poem, viz., Byron, Moore, Campbell, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Scott, and the author of the poem entitled ‘Paris in 1815’ * * * *

Look down, look down, Cecilia!
Where’er thou dwellest—haply seated high
On some bright planet, or erratic star,
(That casts its light irregular)
Sending to darken’d globes unwonted day,
And touching distant spheres with harmony—
Oh, fair and sweet Cecilia!
Now, from thine orb where music takes its birth
And all concenter’d is the world of sound,
Albeit at times there streams around
Soft notes, or bursts of mirth,
(Gladdening the melancholy minds of earth)
Look down and bless this day!

* This assertion may be hazarded with some degree of safety. X. X. X.

Not, as in old times, would I celebrate
Thy powers upon the heart by sound alone;
But class thee with the Muse who lived of yore
(Oh! who could then thy power disown!)
Upon that far and sacred shore,
Where still Parnassus shrouds
His white head in Olympian clouds,
Soaring sublime, and holier from his lonely state.
Greece! Land of my idolatry!
Not all deserted are thy slopes of green;
Altho’ the dull Turk passes by,
Mocking thy beauties with his heavy eye;
And tho’ the Greek no more be seen
Before thy marble altars kneeling,
Where once Apollo from his shrine
Spoke those oracles divine,
Joy, grief, success, or death, to man revealing;
Yet one high Pilgrim on thy green hath trod,
The native of a distant land,
Feeling and breathing all the god—
Within the pure Castalian stream
Fearless he dipp’d his hand,
And carried to a grateful lip,
The water bards alone may sip,
And madden not:—and then Parnassus thee,
And thee soft flowing Castaly,
(Worth both to deck his theme)
And many a long forgotten name
Defrauded of its fame.
He gather’d as he roam’d along,
And weaved the whole within his lofty song.
That song shall live for ever—Oh! and thou,
Cecilia, when thou strik’st the string
May haply deign to sing,
Blending Athenian fame with Harold’s woe;
Thus shall sweet Poesy (a nymph divine)
Mix her wild numbers with thy strain,
And from her prolific brain
Shall pour those high impassion’d words of fire,
Subduing thee to aid her mighty line,
And join thy witching skill to soften or inspire.
Hark! on the wings a note hath gone,
As sad as youthful mother ever sung,
When she in grief hath hung
Over her child, abandon’d and alone—
And now the tones increase
Like Eastern music floating on the air;
And sounds of death seem jarring there,
Wails and low choking tones—then all is peace:
And oh! the mingling of those chords between—
Words such as poets chant are given,
Embodying thoughts that spring like name to heaven.
Still is the bard unseen—
Yet fancy decks him out with laurels green
And Grecian garments as of old;
For lost Leander’s fate he told,
And all his song was of that land,
Sunk beneath a Moslem hand;
Its sea of blue that softly smiles
Clasping the Ægæan’s countless isles;
Its pillars—tombs—its temples—towers,
And oh! its once resistless powers
Fall’n, fall’n, and in decay;
And all its spirit pass’d away.
But now comes one whose blither measure
Tells of love and pleasure,
Crown’d with a rich fantastic wreath,
Whence Asian odours breathe:
Like Anacreon’s self advancing,
See he flings his eyes around,
Bacchantes to his music dancing
By the airy numbers bound.
Now o’er the angry waters of the West
A soft voice, peaceful as the halcyon dove,
Breathes a strain of love;
And as it sounds, the charm’d waves sink to rest:
Beautiful Gertrude! hath thy poet died?
He who from Susquehanna’s side
Drew the sweet tale which all the world admire—
Ah! where is now his buried lyre?
Why is the voice that told of hope to men
Silent? or hath it lost its fire?
Cecilia! bid him touch his lyre again.
There like a hermit, in his mountain home,
One philosophic bard is kneeling—
Along the glittering heaven his glances roam,
And o’er the forest depths and grassy vales
To Skiddaw’s mighty race allied,
(Around whose head the screaming eagle sails,
And builds his lair within their hearts in pride,)
And with the slopes that grace Helvellyn’s side
In deep and speechless feeling
He seems to commune, there, as if alone.
His spirit from that lonely place had caught
The truths which Nature has so long and vainly taught.
And him beside is Roderick’s poet seen
Crown’d with laureate branches green:
And he a wondrous man, who gave away
His prime of life to metaphysic lore,
And the fair promise of his younger day
Abandon’d—for his song is heard no more—
And silent too one poet passes by,
The “bard of ladye love and chivalry,”
The golden violet twines his brow,
But his Northern harp is muffled now;
And if across the wires by chance be flings
His hand—his hand is cold, or mute the strings.
But who is he on whose dark front sublime
Genius hath stamp’d her characters of fire?
Oh! with a mighty hand he sweeps the lyre,
And as the numbers rise on high,
Hark! from a neighbouring clime,
As if to drown his harmony,
Crouching rebellion sends an angry cry—
The strain is changed—and grief usurps the song
Where triumph and prophetic sounds before
Were heard—and anguish deep and suffer’d long
By her who on a foreign shore
Did cast her sorrows in a nation’s arms,
That hushed her dark alarms,
And with a soft and pitying eye
Looked down on her adversity.
Her grief was told in many a lofty line:
But, “Paris,” wherefore stays thy poet now?
Half of the tale remains, and on his brow
The single laurel waits its partner wreath divine.
* * * * * *
Oh! ye master spirits of my time,
Forgive, forgive, that I have dared to talk
Of ye, and in your temple walk,
And trifle with your names or themes sublime.
I am a wanderer on the sacred hill,
And round the humbler slopes at times do stray,
And listen to—Oh! far away—
The music of your own Castalian rill.
If that I counsel yet to speak again,
And yield yourselves to that so holy rage
That doth the poet’s soul engage,
’Tis that ye may not pass those hours in vain
From whence (else haply doomed to harm)
Ye can draw such a charm.
Oh! never let those thoughts and pictured things
(Whether of grief or mirth),
And those remote, mysterious ponderings
Die shapeless at their very hour of birth:
It is the penalty of mighty minds,
(And well may it be borne for fame)
That future ages always have a claim
Upon the poet’s and the patriot’s soul;
And this they whisper on the passing winds
That voiceless by the dull, and poor in spirit roll.
Have I forgot thee, then, sweet maid,
Whom minstrels court and covet for their own?
Thee, to whose slightest tone
My heart its secret vows hath purely paid.
As to thine image on its starry throne—
Like the divinest gifts of poesy,
Are thine—and oh! thy small and fainting notes
(Whether by nightingales, on summer eves
Utter’d from amongst the leaves,
Or from the young larks’ shrill yet silver throats,)
Have powers as great—and as resistless ties
As deeper harmonies—
Throughout the realm one magic sway prevails,
And equal is thy low or loftiest sound.
Whenever it assails,
Obedient to its touch the fine-strung nerves resound.
Farewell! thou sweet Cecilia! yet I may,
On some far-future day,
Again implore thy soft, thy witching aid
(If of the poet’s idlesse then afraid),
And ask thee once again
To leave celestial joys awhile,
And shame the indolence of gifted men
With thy inspiring voice and half reproving smile.