LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter V. 1795
William Roscoe to Thomas James Mathias, [1796?]

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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Mr. Roscoe takes the liberty of presenting his sincere acknowledgments to the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ for the great pleasure and information he has derived from his very original, learned, and entertaining work; and is happy, at the same time, in an opportunity of expressing his grateful sense of the honour done him, in the very favourable notice taken in that poem of the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici;’ and which is the more estimable, inasmuch as the author of the ‘Pursuits of Liter-

“I must add one piece of information that will make you smile. ‘The vine-covered hills and gay valleys of France,’ and its sister, ‘Unfold Father Time,’ I ventured to show to the severe censor above alluded to, a day or two ago, who not only passes with unwonted toleration over ‘a few occasional sentiments of that tendency in the historian of a republic,’ but condescends to read these with delight, making every decent allowance for the poetical privilege.”

ature’ has so fully evinced, to every unprejudiced reader, his own thorough acquaintance with the various subjects which Mr. Roscoe has there had occasion to discuss.

“As Mr. Roscoe has just observed that a new and complete edition of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ with corrections and improvements, is now in the press, he thinks it incumbent on him to point out some inaccuracies respecting himself, which would have been of no moment, had not the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ placed him before the public in so favourable a light. After having mentioned these particulars, he submits it to the author’s judgment, whether they are sufficiently important to merit correction in the edition now proposed.

“In the first place, Mr. Roscoe begs leave to assure the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ that he is not the author of the letter published under the name of ‘Jasper Wilson,’ nor had any connection whatever with the writing or publication of that work. At the same time, he wishes it to be understood, that he makes this avowal only for the sake of truth, and not from the apprehension of any imputation which might arise from his being considered as the author of that performance, which he conceives to be not only strictly constitutional, but as deserving, in a high degree, the serious attention of every real friend to his country.


Mr. Roscoe also begs leave to notice another inaccuracy in the third part of the ‘Pursuits of Literature;’ viz. that the materials for the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ were collected abroad by a commercial man in the intervals of his employment. If this, indeed, were the fact, Mr. Roscoe would think, with the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ that it would by no means detract either from his book or himself, but this not being the case, Mr. Roscoe thinks it incumbent on him to notice it. The truth is, that Mr. Clarke, the gentleman referred to, (and who, to an intimate acquaintance with most of the European tongues, unites a thorough knowledge of the ancient languages,) was absent from home for upwards of seven years, in Italy, and other parts of the Continent; first, on account of his health, and afterwards for the same object that forms the title of the excellent poem before referred to, without any other business whatever. Mr. Roscoe observed, soon after the publication of the ‘Life of Lorenzo,’ a paragraph in one of the public papers, stating, that the book was written by a Liverpool merchant, with materials collected by an outrider, or to that effect. He did not think it worth his while to contradict the report of the day, though it was erroneous both as to him and his friend: but the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ will reach posterity; and, as Mr. Roscoe now hopes, through the partiality of the
author, to ‘pursue the triumph and partake the gale,’ he is unwilling, so far as depends on himself, to give permanency to error.

Mr. Roscoe would not think that he acted on this occasion with that candour, which he hopes it will always be his endeavour to maintain, did he not, in expressing his admiration of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ avow a difference of opinion with respect to some of the political subjects there discussed; consequently, with respect to the strictures on some distinguished characters, whose merits seem to have been measured by a political rather than by a literary standard. ‘Politics,’ as the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ observes, ‘are temporary, but wit is eternal;’ but if these be the perishable parts of his work, they are the only parts that will perish. It would, however, be unpardonable in Mr. Roscoe to object to that freedom of opinion which the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ has in so handsome a manner conceded to himself; nor does he conceive that the difference, to which he has ventured to allude, is a difference in principles. The sound learning, and extensive acquaintance, of the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ both with modern and ancient history, are an ample pledge that he could not for a moment entertain sentiments adverse to the rational liberty, improvement, and happiness of mankind; even if this
were not sufficiently evinced, as it certainly is, by numerous passages in his work. Of the best mode of obtaining these advantages, thinking men may be allowed to doubt, and good men may chance to differ—happy, indeed, if they would recollect, that, of all the calamities that can befall a nation, a spirit of mutual jealousy and vindictive resentment is the worst. Mr. Roscoe respectfully takes his leave of the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ with assuring him, in his own emphatic words, expressed in his last note, ‘That the most ardent wish of his heart is a secure peace after a war for ever to be deplored, bloody, fatal, and expensive, beyond example.’ And though Mr. Roscoe cannot join in the opinion that this war was inevitable, he hopes, that his wishes for the termination of it, and for the future union, tranquillity, and prosperity of this country, will not on that account be considered as less sincere.”