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When his burden down he laid,
"What's this?" cried Michael; "why, 't is not a ghost?"
"I know it," quoth the incubus; "but he
I saw a taper, far below me, wink,
And Michael rose ere he could get a word
Of all his founder'd verses under way, And cried, "For God's sake, stop, my friend! 't were Non Di, non homires—you know the rest."2
A general bustle spread throughout the throng,
When upon service; and the generation
Of ghosts had heard too much in life, not long
[what ! 3
The tumult grew; an universal cough
Convulsed the skies, as during a debate, When Castlereagh has been up long enough (Before he was first minister of state,
I mean -- the slaves hear now); some cried " Off, off!"
The varlet was not an ill-favour'd knave;
Then Michael blew his trump, and still'd the noise
Lift up their lungs when fairly overcrow'd; And now the bard could plead his own bad cause, With all the attitudes of self-applause.
He said (I only give the heads) — he said,
He meant no harm in scribbling; 't was his way Upon all topics; 't was, besides, his bread,
Of which he butter'd both sides; 't would delay Too long the assembly (he was pleased to dread),
And take up rather more time than a day, To name his works- he would but cite a few"Wat Tyler"-" Rhymes on Blenheim"-" Waterloo."
He had written praises of a regicide;
He had written praises of all kings whatever; He had written for republics far and wide, And then against them bitterer than ever;
What? What? I'm told that you 're a limb
What, Whitbread, is it true what people say?
Yes, yes, you eat calf's head, you eat calf's head!'"]
4 [Henry James Pye, the predecessor of Mr. Southey in the poet-laureateship, died in 1813. He was the author of many works, besides his official Odes, among others "Alfred," an epic poem- all of which have been long since defunct. Pye was a man of good family in Berkshire, sat some time in parliament, and was eminently respectable in every thing but his poetry.]
1 See "Life of Henry Kirke White."
2 ["Lift up your heads, ye Gates; and ye everlasting Portals, Be ye lift up! For lo! a glorified Monarch approacheth,
One who in righteousness reign'd, and religiously govern'd his people.
Thee, too, Father Chaucer! I saw, and delighted to see thee-
Alfonso, speaking of the Ptolomean system, said, that "had he been consulted at the creation of the world, he would have spared the Maker some absurdities."
See Aubrey's account of the apparition which disappeared "with a curious perfume and a most melodious twang; see the " Antiquary." vol. i. p. 225.-["As the vision shut his volume, a strain of delightful music seemed to fill the apartment."-"The usual time," says Grose, "at which ghosts make their appearance is midnight, and seldom before it is dark; though some audacious spirits have been said to appear even by day-light; but of this there are few instances, and those mostly ghosts who had been laid, and whose terms of confinement were expired. I cannot learn that ghosts * Cook. tlande'.
Like king Alfonso. 3 When I thus see double, I save the Deity some worlds of trouble."
He ceased, and drew forth an MS.; and no
Those grand heroics acted as a spell;
The angels stopp'd their ears and plied their pinions; The devils ran howling, deafen'd, down to hell;
The ghosts fled, gibbering, for their own domi(For 't is not yet decided where they dwell, [nions— And I leave every man to his opinions); Michael took refuge in his trump-but, lo! His teeth were set on edge, he could not blow!
Saint Peter, who has hitherto been known
For an impetuous saint, upraised his keys, And at the fifth line knock'd the poet down; 5 Who fell like Phaeton, but more at ease, Into his lake, for there he did not drown;
A different web being by the Destinies Woven for the Laureate's final wreath, whene'er Reform shall happen either here or there.
He first sank to the bottom-like his works,
But soon rose to the surface-like himself; For all corrupted things are buoy'd like corks, 6
By their own rottenness, light as an elf, Or wisp that flits o'er a morass: he lurks,
It may be, still, like dull books on a shelf,
In his own den, to scrawl some "Life" or "Vision,"7 As Welborn says" the devil turn'd precisian."
carry tapers in their hands, as they are sometimes depicted. Dragging chains is not the fashion of English ghosts; chains and black vestments being chiefly the accoutrements of foreign spectres seen in arbitrary governments; dead or alive. English spirits are free. During the narration of its business, a gost must by no means be interrupted by questions of any kind: na tio being completed, it vanishes away, frequently in a flash of light; in which case, some ghosts have been so considerate as to desire the party to whom they appeared to shut their eyes:-sometimes its departure is attended with most delightful music."]
5 ["When I beheld them meet, the desire of my soul o'ercame me;
A drowned body lies at the bottom till rotten; it then floats, as most people know.
7 [Southey's Vision of Judgment appears to us to be an illjudged, and not a well-executed work. It certainly has added nothing to the reputation of its author in any respect. The nobleness of his motive does not atone for the indiscretion of putting it into so reprehensible a form. Milton's example will, perhaps, be pleaded in his vindication; but Milton alone has ever founded a fiction on the basis of revelation, without degrading his subject. He alone has succeeded in carrying his readers into the spiritual world. No other attempt of the kind has ever appeared that can be read without a constant feeling of something like burlesque, and a wish that the Tartarus and Elysium of the idolatrous Greeks should still be the hell and the heaven of poetry. A smile at the puerilities, and
As for the rest, to come to the conclusion
Of this true dream, the telescope is gone Which kept my optics free from all delusion, And show'd me what I in my turn have shown;
a laugh at the absurdity of the poet, might then be enjoyed by the reader, without an apprehension that he was guilty of profanity in giving it. Milton has been blamed by the most judicious critics, and his warmest admirers, for expressing the counsels of Eternal Wisdom, and the decrees of Almighty Power, by words assigned to the Deity. It offends against poetical propriety and poetical probability. It is impossible to deceive ourselves into a momentary and poetical belief that words proceeded from the Holy Spirit, except on the warrant of inspiration itself. It is here only that Milton fails, and here Milton sometimes shocks. The language and conduct ascribed by Milton to his inferior spirits, accord so well with our conceptions and belief respecting their nature and existence, that in many places we forget that they are, in any respect, the creatures of imagination. The blasphemies of Milton's devils offend not a pious ear, because they are devils who utter them. Nor are we displeased with the poet's presumption in feigning language for heavenly spirits, because it is a language that lifts the soul to heaven; and we more than believe, we know and feel, that, whatever may be the nature of the language of angels, the language of the poet truly interprets their sentiments. The words are hunian; but the truths they express, and the doctrines they teach, are divine. Nothing of the same kind can be said of any other fable, serious or ludicrous, pious or profane, that has yet been written in any age or language. Blackwood, 1822.]
[The "Vision of Judgment" appeared, as has been already said, in "The Liberal"-a Journal which, consisting chiefly of pieces by the late Mr. Hazlitt and Mr. Leigh Hunt, was not saved from ruin by a few contributions, some of the highest merit, by Lord Byron. In his work, entitled " Lord Byron and his Contemporaries," Mr. Hunt assaulted the dead poet, with reference to this unhappy Journal; and his charges were thus taken to pieces at the time in the Quarterly Review:
"Mr. Hunt describes himself as pressed by Lord Byron into the undertaking of that hapless magazine: Lord Byron, on the contrary, represents himself as urged to the service by the Messrs. Hunt themselves." e. g.
"Genoa, Oct. 9th, 1822.-I am afraid the Journal is a bad business, and won't do, but in it I am sacrificing myself for others. I can have no advantage in it. I believe the brothers Hunts to be honest men; I am sure that they are poor ones; they have not a Nap. They pressed me to engage in this work, and in an evil hour I consented; still I shall not repent if I can do them the least service. I have done all I can for Leigh Hunt since he came here, but it is almost useless: his wife is ill; his six children not very tractable; and in affairs of this world he himself is a perfect child. The death of Shelley left them totally aground; and I could not see them in such a state without using the common feelings of humanity, and what means were in my power to set them afloat again.'
"Again-Mr. Hunt represents Lord Byron as dropping his connection with The Liberal,' partly because his friends at home (Messrs. Moore, Hobhouse, Murray, &c.) told him it was a discreditable one, and partly because the business did not turn out lucrative.
"It is a mistake to suppose, that he was not mainly influenced by the expectation of profit. He expected very large returns from The Liberal.' Readers in these days need not be told, that periodical works which have a large sale are a mine of wealth: Lord Byron had calculated that matter well.' Lord Byron and his Contemporaries, p. 50.
"The failure of the large profits-the non-appearance of the golden visions he had looked for, of the Edinburgh or Quarterly returns of the solid and splendid proofs of this new country, which he should conquer in the regions of notoriety, to the dazzling of all men's eyes and his own this it was this was the bitter disappointment which made him determine to give way.' — Ibid. p. 51.
"Now let us hear Lord Byron himself:
"Genoa, 9bre 18th, 1822. They will, of course, attribute motives of all kinds; but I shall not abandon a man like Hunt because he is unfortunate. Why, I could have no pecuniary motives, and, least of all, in connection with Hunt.'
Genoa. 10bre 25th, 1822. Now do you see what you and your friends do by your injudicious rudeness? actually cement a sort of connection which you strove to prevert, and which, had the Hunts prospered, would not, in all probability, have continued. As it is, I will not quit them in their adversity, though it should cost me character, fame, money, and the usual et cetera. My original motives I already explained; (in the letter which you thought proper to
All I saw farther, in the last confusion,
And when the tumult dwindled to a calm,
I left him practising the hundredth psalm. I
show ;) they are the true ones, and I abide by them, as I tell you, and I told Leigh Hunt, when he questioned ine on the subject of that letter. He was violently hurt, and never will forgive me at the bottom; but I cannot help that. I never meant to make a parade of it; but if he chose to question me, I could only answer the plain truth; and I confess, I did not see any thing in the letter to hurt him, unless I said he was a bore," which I don't remember. Had th's Journal gone on well, and I could have aided to make it better for them, I should then have left them after a safe pilotage off a lee shore to make a prosperous voyage by themselves. As it is, I can't, and would not if I could, leave them among the breakers. As to any community of feeling, thought, or opinion, between Leigh Hunt and me, there is little or none. We meet rarely, hardly ever; but I think him a good-principled and able man, and must do as I would be done by."
The Reviewer proceeds to comment on Mr. Hunt's general abuse of Lord Byron's manners, habits, and conversation:
"The witness is, in our opinion, disqualified to give evidence upon any such subjects: his book proves him to be equally ignorant of what manners are, and incompetent to judge what manners ought to be: his elaborate portraiture of his own habits is from beginning to end a very caricature of absurdity; and the man who wrote this book, studiously cast, as the whole language of it is, in a free-and-easy, conversational tone, has no more right to decide about the conversation of such a man as Lord Byron, than has a pert apprentice to pronounce er cathedra — from his one-shilling gallery, to wit -on the dialogue of a polite comedy. We can easily believe, that Lord Byron never talked his best when this was his Companion. We can also believe, that Lord Byron's serious conversation, even in its lowest tone, was often unintelligible to Mr. Leigh Hunt. We are morally certain, that in such company Lord Byron talked, very often indeed, for the mere purpose of amusing himself at the expense of his ignorant, fantastic, lack-a-daisical guest; that he considered the Magnus Apollo of Paradise Row as a precious butt. and acted accordingly. We therefore consider Mr. Hunt's evidence as absolutely inadmissible, on strong preliminary grounds. But what are we to say to it, when we find it, as we do, totally and diametrically at variance both with the substance and complexion of Lord Byron's epistolary correspondence; and with the oral testimonies of men whose talents, originally superior beyond all possibility of measurement to Mr. Hunt's, have been matured and perfected by study, both of books and men, such as Mr. Hunt never even dreamed of; who had the advantage of meeting Lord Byron on terms of perfect equality to all intents and purposes; and who, qualified, as they probably were, above any of their contemporaries, to appreciate Lord Byron, whether as a poet, or as a man of high rank and pre-eminent fame, mingling in the world in society such as he ought never to have sunk below, all with one voice pronounce an opinion exactly and in every par ticular, as well as looking to things b: badly and to the general effect, the reverse of that which this unworthy and ungrateful dependant has thought himself justified in promulgating, on the plea of a penury which no Lord Byron survives to relieve? It is too bad, that he who has, in his own personal conduct, as well as in his writings, so much to answer for who abused great opportunities and great talents so lamentablywho sinned so deeply, both against the society to which he belonged and the literature in which his name will ever hold a splendid place it is really too bad, that Lord Byron, in addition to the grave condemnation of men able to appreciate both his merits and his demerits, and well disposed to think more in sorrow than in anger of the worst errors that existed along with so much that was excellent and noble - it is by much too bad, that this great man's glorious though melancholy memory
Must also bear the vile attacks Of ragged curs and vulgar hacks' whom he fed ;-that his bones must be scraped up from their bed of repose to be at once grinned and howled over by creatures who, even in the least hyena-like of their moods, can touch nothing that mankind would wish to respect without polluting it.'
Mr. Moore's Verses on Mr. Hunt's work must not be omitted here:
Next week will be published (as Lives' are the rage) The whole Reminiscences, wondrous and strange, Of a small puppy-dog that lived once in the cage Of the late noble lion at Exeter 'Change. "Though the dog is a dog of the kind they call sad,' 'T is a puppy that much to good breeding pretends:
The Age of Bronze:
OR, CARMEN SECULARE ET ANNUS HAUD MIRABILIS.1
"Impar Congressus Achilli.”
THE "good old times" all times when old are
Are gone; the present might be if they would ;
To those who play their "tricks before high heaven."
All is exploded—be it good or bad.
Of eloquence between, which flow'd all free,
And few dogs have such opportunities had
Of knowing how lions behave — among friends. "How that animal eats, how he moves, how he drinks, Is all noted down by this Boswell so small; And 't is plain, from each sentence, the puppy-dog thinks That the lion was no such great things after all.
"Though he roar'd pretty well-this the puppy allows —
It was all, he says, borrow'd all second-hand roar ; And he vastly prefers his own little bow-wows
To the loftiest war-note the lion could pour.
"'T is, indeed, as good fun as a Cynic could ask,
To see how this cockney-bred setter of rabbits Takes gravely the lord of the forest to task, And judges of lions by puppy-dog habits.
"Nay, fed as he was (and this makes it a dark case) With sops every day from the lion's own pan, He lifts up his leg at the noble beast's carcass, And does all a dog, so diminutive, can.
"However, the book 's a good book, being rich in
Examples and warnings to lions high-bred, How they suffer small mongrelly curs in their kitchen, Who'll feed on them living, and foul them when dead."]
1 [This poem was written by Lord Byron at Genoa, in the early part of the year 1823; and published in London, by Mr. John Hunt. Its authenticity was much disputed at the time.]
Though Alexander's urn a show be grown,
He" wept for worlds to conquer !" he who ne'er
But where is he, the modern, mightier far,
Is this the man who scourged or feasted kings?
Behold the scales in which his fortune hangs,
Now slave of all could tease or irritate-
How few could feel for what he had to bear!
Though, save the few fond friends and imaged face
How, if that soaring spirit still retain
A conscious twilight of his blazing reign,
6 [The circumstances under which Mr. O'Meara's dismissal from his Majesty's service took place will suffice to show how little "the stiff surgeon" meríted the applause of Lord Byron. In a letter to the Admiralty Board by Mr. O'M., dated Oct. 23. 1818, there occurred the following paragraph: "In the third interview which Sir Hudson Lowe had with Napoleon Buonaparte, in May, 1816, he proposed to the latter to send me away, and to replace me by Mr. Baxter, who had been several years surgeon in the Corsican Rangers. Failing in this attempt, he adopted the resolution of manifesting great confidence in me, by loading me with civilities, inviting me constantly to dine with him, conversing for hours together with me alone, both in his own house and grounds, and at Longwood, either in my own room, or under the trees and elsewhere. On some of these occasions he made to me observations upon the benefit which would result to Europe from the death of Napoleon Buonaparte; of which event he spoke in a manner which, considering his situation and mine, was peculiarly distressing to me." The Secretary to the Admiralty was instructed to answer in these terms: "It is impossible to doubt the meaning which this passage was intended to convey; and my Lords can as little doubt that the insinuation is a calumnious falsehood: but if it were true, and if so horrible a suggestion were made to you, directly or indirectly, it was your bounden duty not to have lost a moment in communicating it to the Admiral on the spot, or to the
That name shall hallow the ignoble shore,
The rocky isle that holds or held his dust
In Rome's Pantheon or Gaul's mimic dome.
To form, like Guesclin's 8 dust, her talisman.
His name shall beat the alarm, like Ziska's drum. 9
Oh heaven! of which he was in power a feature;
Secretary of State, or to their Lordships. An overture so monstrous in itself, and so deeply involving, not merely the personal character of the governor, but the honour of the nation, and the important interest committed to his charge, should not have been reserved in your own breast for wo years, to be produced at last, not (as it would appear) from a sense of public duty, but in furtherance of your own personal hostility against the governor. Either the charge is in the last degree false and calumnious, or you can have no possible excuse for having hitherto suppressed it. In either case, and without adverting to the general tenour of your conduct, as stated in your letter, my Lords consider you to be an improper person to continue in his Majesty's service; and they have directed your name to be erased from the list of naval surgeons accordingly." O'Meara died in 1836.]
7 [Buonaparte died the 5th of May, 1821.]
8 [Guesclin, constable of France, died in the midst of his triumphs, before Châteauneuf de Randon, in 1380. The English garrison, which had conditioned to surrender at a certain time, marched out the day after his death; and the commander respectfully laid the keys of the fortress on the bier, so that it might appear to have surrendered to his ashes.]
[John Ziska-a distinguished leader of the Hussites. It is recorded of him, that, in dying, he ordered his skin to be made the covering of a drum. The Bohemians hold his memory in superstitious veneration.]
10 [At the battle of the pyramids, in July, 1798, Buonaparte said," Soldiers! from the summit of yonder pyramids forty ages behold you."]