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REVIEW.-Moore's Life of Byron.
or to the cause of good morals, which our situation as independent Journalists calls upon us to defend, if we did not enter an indignant protest against such a publication. If the work had horne the title of a "History of the Intrigues of a Man of Fashion," the antidote would have been conveyed with the poison, and we should have been forewarned of the character of the volume. If we blush to see a nobleman want manners, if we lament that absence of all moral taste and
gentlemanly feeling, which could make his adulteries the perpetual theme of his private correspondence, what shall we say of him, to whom the office of biographer was entrusted, obtruding the degrading register into print, and giving a permanent record to letters which should have been committed to the flames. Where was charity and delicacy, when this offence to his memory was perpetrated? And where was the least respect for the feelings of the living, when the envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, directed against his contemporaries, have been given to the world. In a letter to Mr. Murray, Lord Byron, speaking of the publication of his letters, to be collected from a lady whose name is not given, says, “sinking, of course, the names, and all such circumstances as might hurt living feelings, or those of survivors!" It is only justice to Lord Byron to give this extract; a caution which, if it have been in any degree observed by Mr. Moore, would lead to an inference, respecting the matter which has been suppressed, most horrible to think of.
indeed to have made a selection, that would have placed him in a very high rank of our epistolary literature. As it is, his letters are disfigured by the sins of bad taste and worse morality; of enmities that never sleep; and a selfishness that cannot emerge from its own eternal wailings. If we lose ourselves for a moment in the admiration of his fine talents, or of some generous impulse that fits across his habitual maltemperament, he speedily recalls us to the conviction, that if the distinctions of right and wrong were not confounded in his mind, they were in his practice; and that the homage he occasionally paid to virtue, was not the result of any principle on which it could be said to depend. He would have erected a false standard of judgment in morals, and have the action rated by the man, and not the man by the action; and he has missed the most glorious opportunity which was ever placed by God within the human grasp of uniting the nobility of birth, and the splendour of talents, with a love of virtue and the practice of holiness; of combining, in one and the same person, the highest natural advantages, and the most splendid of intellectual gifts; of realizing the angel's beauty and the seraph's song. But it is passed, and we must deal with the melancholy record before us as we can; and if we appear to be insensible to the many fine thoughts and feelings with which this volume abounds, it is, that however beautiful in themselves, they are too often in direct opposition to man's true happiness, and his immortal hopes; at variance with that wisdom, without which the poet, in his highest flights, is but in the regions of clouds and darkness, denser than the world from which he has escaped.
It was during Byron's residence at Geneva that his third canto of Childe Harold was written, and it bears the deep impressions which that wild and romantic country had traced on his mind and memory. It was in Italy, however, that Lord Byron gave a looser rein to his passions; and we leave Mr. Moore to be his own apologist, for the publication of letters in which his friend's gallantries are recorded by his own hand.
"It must have been observed, in my ac count of Lord Byron's life previous to his marriage, that, without leaving altogether
REVIEW.-Moore's Life of Byron.
unnoticed (what, indeed, was too notorious to be so evaded) certain affairs of gallantry in which he had the reputation of being engaged, I have thought it right, besides refraining from such details in my narrative, to suppress also whatever passages in his journals and letters might be supposed to bear too personally or particularly on the same delicate topics. Incomplete as the strange history of his mind and heart must, in one of its most interesting chapters, be left by these omissions, still a deference to that peculiar sense of decorum in this country, which marks the mention of such frailties as hardly a less crime than the commission of them, and, still more, the regard due to the feelings of the living, who ought not rashly to be made to suffer for the errors of the dead, have combined to render the sacrifice, however much it may be regretted,
"We have now, however, shifted the scene to a region where less caution is requisite; where, from the different standard applied to female morals in these respects, if the wrong itself be not lessened by this diminution of the consciousness of it, less scruple may be, at least, felt towards persons so circumstanced; and whatever delicacy we may think right to exercise in speaking of their frailties, must be with reference rather to our views and usages than theirs."
We will give one specimen of Mr. Moore's regard to the feelings of the living. In a letter to Mr. Murray, dated Jan. 2, 1817, Lord Byron says, "On this day two years I married: -Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."" And again, speaking of his excitement during the writing of Childe Harold, "I should many a good day have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law; and even then, if I could have been certain to haunt her."
The following passage of a letter to Mr. Murray was said, by Mr. Gifford, to contain more good sense, feeling, and judgment, than any other he ever read, or Lord Byron wrote:
"With regard to poetry in general, I am convinced, the more I think of it, that he and all of us- -Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Moore, Campbell, I,-are all in the wrong, one as much as another; that we are upon a wrong revolutionary poetical system, or systems, not worth a damn in itself, and from which none but Rogers and Crabbe are free; and that the present and next generations will finally be of this opinion. I am the more confirmed in this, by having lately gone over some of our classics, partiPope, whom I tried in this way :-I
took Moore's poems, and my own and some others, and went over them side by side with Pope's, and I was really astonished (I ought not to have been so) and mortified at the ineffable distance, in point of sense, learning, effect, and even imagination, passion, and invention, between the little Queen Anne's mau and us of the Lower Empire. Depend upon it, it is all Horace then, and Claudian now, among us; and if I had to begin again, I would mould myself accordingly. Crabbe's the man, but he has got a coarse and impracticable subject; and is retired upon half pay, and has done enough, unless he were to do as he did formerly."
In speaking of Don Juan, Mr. Moore uses the following language, and it is, upon the whole, a faithful description of that monument of misapplied talent. The phrase "in many respects" occurs twice, and serves to soften down the darker shadowing which truth would have laid on the picture.
"It was at this time, as we shall see by the letters I am about to produce, and as the features indeed of the progeny itself would but too plainly indicate, that he conceived, and wrote some part of his poem of "Don Juan ;" and never did pages more faithfully, and, in many respects, lamentably reflect every variety of feeling, and whim, and passion, that, like the rack of autumn, swept across the author's mind in writing them. Nothing less, indeed, than that singular combination of attributes, which existed and were in full activity in his mind at this moment, could have suggested, or been capable of the execution of such a work. The cool shrewdness of age, with the vivacity and glowing temperament of youth-the wit of a Voltaire, with the sensibility of a Rousseau-the minute, practical knowledge, of the man of society, with the abstract and self-contemplative spirit of the poet-a susceptibility of all that is grandest and most affecting in human virtue, with a deep withering experience of all that is most fatal to it-the two extremes, in short, of man's mixed and inconsistent nature-now rankly smelling of earth, now breathing of heaven, --such was the strange assemblage of contrary elements, all meeting together in the same mind, and all brought to bear, in turn, upon the same task, from which alone could have sprung this extraordinary poem-the most powerful, and, in many respects, painful display of the versatility of genius, that has ever been left for succeeding ages to wonder at and deplore."
The account of the visit paid to Lord Byron by Mr. Moore, is not the least entertaining portion of the volume.
1831.] REVIEW.-A Clergyman's Address to his Parishioners, &c. 67
Would that there were more of such matter.
Lord Byron's intercourse with Mr. Shelley, Mr. Hunt, &c. has been amply detailed in the volume which the latter gentleman gave to the world soon after Lord Byron's death; an injury which has been amply revenged by the publication of Lord Byron's letters. "Amicitia nisi inter bonos esse non potest," says Cicero, and we see no reason to doubt the truth of this assertion in any of the friendships of this nobleman there was connection, but no union.
It is consolatory to reflect, that the brightest epoch of Lord Byron's life was the last. It is impossible to peruse the memoir of his disinterested services in the cause of Greece without the liveliest sympathy. Something perhaps of that love of excitement by which his life was governed, may have had a share in his efforts in that quarter; but there was a consistency in his conduct, which leaves no doubt of his sincerity, and to this cause he devoted the best energies of his heart, his fortune, and his life. It is in reading this record of his services, that we feel the deepest regret for the narrative that precedes it. It is now, we find, what great and good things he might have effected for himself, his country, and the world, had he been restrained by the early guidance of moral discipline, and been persuaded of the high purposes for which his stupendous talents were bestowed. But we must not be betrayed, by our admiration of the heroic qualities displayed by him. on this new theatre of action, into an amnesty with unrepented sin. We admire his undaunted courage, his generous devotion, his disinterested ainbition. We cannot read of his personal sacrifices for the cause of liberty, without the respect that is due to all he did and all he suffered; but there is a hand-writing against him, which the moralist cannot blot out-it is, unhappily, stamped on the pages of his immortal works; and it would be revived, if even it could have been forgotten in the pages through which we have toiled, with the mingled feelings of admiration, and pity, and disgust.
But we must conclude. The more we read of this extraordinary man, whether in the history of his habits, his recorded conversations, his opinions and connexions, or in the ponderous
collection of his letters now before us, the stronger is our conviction, that he was wholly destitute of any settled principle of virtuous feeling, or of love for his fellow-creatures. Like Sterne, he had sentiment at his fingers' ends, but he had nothing of the reality in his heart. He was the Timon of his country, and his day; but he outdid the Grecian misanthrope, by adding a legacy of posthumous venom to the poison he had circulated in his life. Though dead, he is made by his Biographer the agent of deeper mischief, and an unholy gain is attempted to be made of a correspondence which ought never to have seen the light. It is to the honour of Mr. Hobhouse that he has withheld the letters addressed to him. He has shewn himself worthy of the eulogy bestowed on his friendship by Lord Byron, in the dedication of his finest poem; and he has increased his title to the respect of the good, by the suppression of every thing that could add to the obloquy which this and similar publications have heaped upon the tomb of his friend. In this delinquency he has had no share.
We will not apply to the editor of this volume the strong language of Johnson on the conduct of Mallet, in the publication of the works of Bolingbroke. We are quite sure that it is a production on which Mr. Moore will never look with pleasure, and which we suspect its publisher does not now view with much complacency.
An useful volume might be written on literary ethics, for the guidance and direction of authors, editors, and publishers. There is a cold and calculating spirit, tainting the literature of the present day, and debasing all that is noble in the exertions of intellect. A vile huckstering feeling is abroad, overlaying much that is generous and highminded; the puniest appetite is more consulted than the cultivation of the understanding; and the Temple of Learning, like the Temple of the Jews, is profaned by the seat of the mean and the mercenary, who, dead to glory, only burn for gold.
A Friendly Address to his Parishioners, and the honest English Labourer, in this Christian Country, by a Clergyman and Magistrate of the County of Wills, on Land lords and Clergy, and scandalous False
hoods respecting them in the present day. Half sheet 8vo.
A Voice of the People. By One of Yourselves.
A Word of Caution and of Comfort to the Middle and Lower Classes of Society: being a Pastor's Advice to his Flock in a Time of Trouble.
THESE, and several other circulars, addressed to the labouring poor, have been written by well-intentioned Clergymen, with the Christian purpose of allaying the passions, and undeceiving the understandings, of a misled population. The first is a calm and eloquent appeal from the pen of the Rev. Wm. Lisle Bowles.
We trust that such addresses, when simple in their diction, and unincumbered with a perplexity of argument, may in some degree answer the benevolent purpose of the writers. But there is great cause to apprehend that upon the populace, as a body, little impression can be made, except by alarms respecting their interests. We shall therefore state the political measures taken by two Clergymen, to impede the progress of mischief and dissent, which measures have proved most efficient. Itinerant preachers had
1. Designs for Farm Buildings. By P. F. Robinson, Architect, F.S.A. 56 plates,
2. Village Architecture. By the Same. 40
plates, 4to. Carpenter and Son.
The first six numbers of this work were noticed in vol. xcvi. p. ii. 253. As the latter part of the work relates more particularly to "Village Architecture," Mr. Robinson has designated it by that name, and it may be purchased separately; but the plates of both parts being numbered continuously 1 to 96, the work ought not to be separated into two portions. Indeed, it is altogether so useful and elegant, that we trust it will easily meet with purchasers in its complete form.
Our former notice applied to the "Farm Buildings." The second part of the work is more interesting. The designs consist of the Village Inn, School-house, Almshouses, Market-house and Shambles, the Pump, Butcher's Shop, Work-house, Parsonage, Swiss Dairy-room, Town-hall and Market-house, Entrance to Church-yard, Village Church, and Village Street. The last plate combines in one group several of the designs which compose the present work, and forms a Village Street of ancient architecture, of the most picturesque description.
held field meetings. "Well, well,” said one parson A. "it may make you more sober." It was immediately circulated through the parish, that the parson would cause their masters to dock their allowance of beer, and that they must hereafter drink water. No more was heard of the field-preaching. A second Clergyman, B. had a large common in his parish. Some officious Evangelicals proposed the erection of a house upon it, for prayer-meetings. Two or three days afterwards it was circulated all over the parish," that if a piece of the common was taken off for that purpose, others would follow the precedent, and the common be ultimately lost." The innovation fell to the ground. The same Clergyman (A.) is now circulating among his parishioners, that if they engage in the present riots they will, if unsuccessful, be either hanged or transported; or, if excited to a civil war, be obliged to go for soldiers. It is not that motives of higher moral elevation might not be suggested, but people who have not the innocence of the dove, must be counteracted by the wisdom of the serpent.
Mr. Robinson's work is well calculated to embody, as it were, the excellent observations on Village Architecture to be found in Sir U. Price's work, on which so much depends the beauty of our country, and indeed, it may be added, the comfort and happiness of our labourers; for every thing that attaches the poor to their dwellings, and causes them to take a laudable pride in them, must have a beneficial effect, in a national point of view. By attending to Mr. Robinson's suggestions, instead of de
Mr. Robinson is so well known by his "Rural Architecture," his "Remarks on Mickleham Church" (which he so judiciously repaired), and other works, that it is only necessary to add, that this work is well calculated to increase his justly deserved celebrity.
Portrait of the Duke of Wellington.Moon, Boys, and Graves. In this noble picture Sir Thomas Lawrence has represented the great British General, seated, in the most animated manner, on his charger Copenhagen, and in the costume which he wore at the field of Waterloo. It is admirably engraved in the line manner by W. Bromley, Associate Engraver R. A. in the large size of 2 feet by 17 inches. This magnificent print is destined to command more than a passing popularity; from its large proportions, and masterly execution, it must always rank among the first class of English portraits; and among the noblest resemblances, if not the very best, of the hero of Waterloo.
Lord Byron, at the Age of Nineteen. Moon, Boys, and Graves. From a painting by G. Sanders, in the possession of John Cam Hobhouse, esq. M.P.-This print is admirably engraved by Mr. W. Finden, and is both published separately and forms the frontispiece to the second volume of Moore's life of Byron (reviewed in pp. 64-67. Lord Byron is standing on the sea-shore, leaning on a rock, in a position to show his graceful features and form to the best advantage; he is accompanied by a sailor, waiting with a boat to take his Lordship to a vessel in the distance. It is a pleasing subject, and well managed. Size 10 inches by 8.
Richard Cœur de Lion and Saladin, at the Battle of Ascalon. Moon, Boys, and Graves. -This is an engraving from the picture by A. Cooper, R.A. in the possession of James Morison, Esq. M.P. The print is well aquatinted by W. Giller, and measures 17 inches by 18.-Mr. Cooper has done ample justice to his subject. From his celebrity as a painter of equestrian combats, it was agreeable to his taste, and he has contrived to throw a majesty and a confidence in the figure of Richard, which is well suited to our national hero whose very name in the East, after so many centuries, is still remembered as an object of terror-the best
proof of the vastness of the reputation of the Hero of the Cross.
The Pointer. Moon, Boys, and Graves. Painted by Martin Theodore Ward, and engraved by Mr. John Scott.-This print is worthy of the painter and engraver, high as each of them stands in the true representation of animals. The late lamented engraver, Mr. Scott, having left the plate unfinished, it has been completed with much ability by Mr. John Webb. The print is 16 inches by 13.
Panorama of Quebec.-Mr. Burford has lately opened a Panorama of Quebec. The capital of our Canadian possessions is worthy of being known to the British public. The view is taken from the Heights of Abraham, very near the spot where the gallant General Wolfe fell, after having achieved one of the most arduous exploits that the whole history of modern warfare presents. Very little of the town is visible, its low situation rendering it impossible to introduce it without sacrificing other and more important points. There is, however, a magnificent view of the bold and romantic land which surrounds it, intersected by the gigantic river St. Lawrence, and the sinuous St. Charles; and the point at which the Montmorency falls into the basin of Quebec is clearly indicated. For pictorial effect no panorama we remember exceeds this of Quebec, and the manner of its execution is highly creditable to the artist,
Nine numbers have been imported from Paris of a little work, entitled "The English School," consisting of a series of the most approved productions of Painting and Sculpture, by British Artists, from Hogarth's days to the present time. The plates are very well engraved in outline, upon steel, by Parisian artists; and they are selected by Mr. G. Hamilton, who has accompanied them by descriptive explanatory notices, both in English and French. From the neatness of the plates, the terseness of the descriptions, and the cheapness of the work, it is well calculated to spread a knowledge of the merits of English art on the Continent. It will, doubtless, have a very extended circulation. Each number has six plates, for the small price of 1s. 6d.Reynolds, West, Lawrence, Wilkie, Peters, Fuseli, Flaxman, Chantrey, &c. are drawn upon to furnish materials for this work, and their exquisite productions are pleasingly brought to our recollection by these minute copies. The plates, however, are not equal in merit. Wilkie's Blind Fidler and Rent-day, and Stothard's Pilgrimage to Canterbury, each a difficult subject, are well copied; whilst the Portraits of George IV. and of John Kemble are failures.
Nos. 7, 8, and 9, of "The English