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If I mayjudge by the statements of the few friends with precisely that importance which a Wbig rote who gathered round me, the outcry of the period possesses in these Tory days, and with such personal to which I allude was beyond all precedent, all acquaintance with the leaders in both houses as the parallel, even in those cases where political motives society in which I lived sanctioned, but without have sharpened slander and doubled enmity. I claim or expectation of any thing like friendship was advised not to go to the theatres, lest I should from any one, except a few young men of my own be hissed, nor to my duty in parliament, lest 1 age and standing, and a few others more advanced should be insulted by the way; even on the day of | in life, which last it had been my forlune to serve my departure, my most intimate friend told me af- in circumstances of difficulty. This was, in fact, terwards, that he was under apprehensions of vio- to stand alone: and I recollect, some time after, lence from the people who might be assembled at Madame de Staël said to me in Switzerland, “You the door of the carriage. However, I was not should not have warred with the world-it will not deterred by these counsels from seeing Kean in his do-it is too strong always for any individual: 1 best characters, nor from voting according to my myself once tried it in early life, but it will not do." principles; and with regard to the third and last ' perfectly acquiesce in the truth of this remark; apprehensions of my friends, I could not share but the world had done me the honour to begin the in them, not being made acqainted with their ex- war; and, assuredly, if peace is only to be obtained tent till some time after I had crossed the Channel. by courting and paying tribute to it, I am not quaEven if I had been so, I am not of a nature to be lified to obtain its countenance. I thought, in the much affected by men's anger, though I may feel words of Campbell, hurt by their aversion. Against all individual out
“Then wed thee to an exiled lot, rage, I could protect or redress myself; and against
And if the world hath loved thee not, that of a crowd, I should probably have been en
Ils absence may be borne." abled to defend myself, with the assistance of others, I recollect, however, that, having been much as has been done on similar occasions.
hurt by Romilly's conduct (he having a general reI retired from the country, perceiving that I was tainer for me, had acted as adviser to the adversary, the object of general obloquy; I did not indeed alleging, on being reminded of his retainer, that imagine, like Jean Jacques Rousseau, that all man- he had forgotten it, as his clerk had so many), I obkind was in a conspiracy against me, though I had served that some of those who were now eagerly perhaps as good grounds for a such a chimera as laying the axe to my roof-tree, might see their own ever he had: but I perceived that I had to a great shaken, and feel a portion of what they had inextent become personally obnoxious in England, flicted. His fell, and crushed him. perhaps through my own fault, but the fact was in- Jhave heard of, and believe, that there are human disputable; the public in general would hardly beings so constituted as to be insensible to injuries; have been so much excited against a more popular but I believe that the best mode to avoid taking character, without at least an accusation or a charge vengeance is to get out of the way of temptation. of some kind actually expressed or substantiated, I hope that I may never have the opportunity, for for I can hardly conceive that the common and every. I am not quite sure that I could resist it, having day occurrence of a separation between man and wife derived from my mother something of the "percould in itself produce so great a ferment. Ishall fervidum ingenium Scotorum.” I have not say nothing of the usual complaints of being “pre- sought, and shall not seek it, and perhaps it may judged," "condemned unheard,” “unfairness," never come in my path. I do not in this allude to "partiality,” and so forth, the usual changes rung the party, who might be right or wrong; but to by parties who have had, or are to have, a trial; but many who made her cause the pretext of their own I was a little surprised to find myself condemned bitterness. She, indeed, must have long arenged without being favoured with the act of accusation, me in her own feelings, for whatever her reasons and to perceive in the absence of this portentous may have been (and she never adduced them, to charge or charges, whatever it or they were to be, me at least), she probably neither contemplated that every possible or impossible crime was ru- nor conceived to what she became the means of moured to supply its place, and taken for granted. conducting the father of her child, and the husband This could only occur in the case of a person very of her choice. much disliked, and I knew no remedy, having al- So much for “the general voice of his countryready used to their extent whatever little powers I men:”I will now speak of some in particular. might possess of pleasing in society. I had no In the beginning of the year 1817, an article apparty in fashion, though I was afterwards told that peared in the Quarterly Reviewo, written, I believe. there was one-but it was not of my formation, nor by Walter Scott,(1) doing great honour to him, and did I then know of its existence-none in literalure; and in politics I had voted with the Whigs, (1) See Quarterly Review, vol. XVI, p. 172.-E.
no disgrace to me, though both portically and per- Rome merely to show that the sentiment which I sonall; more than sufficiently favourable to the have described was not contined to the English in work and the author of whom it treated. It was England, and as forming part of my answer to the written at a time when a selfish man would not, reproach cast upon what has been called my “selfand a timid one dared not have said a word in fa- ish exile," and my “voluntary exile.” “Volunvour of either; it was written by one 10 whom tary” it has been; for who would dwell among a temporary public opinion had elevated me to people entertaining strong hostility against him? the rank of a rival—a proud distinction, and How far it has been “selfish” has been already unmerited; but which has not prevented me explained. from feeling as a friend, nor him from more than I have now arrived at a passage describing me as corresponding to that sentiment. The article having vented my spleen against the lofty-minded in question was written upon the Third Canto and virtuous men,” men“whose virtues few indeed of Childe Harold; and after many observa- can equal!” meaning, I humbly presume, the nolions, which it would as ill become me lo repeat torious triumvirate known by the name of “Lake as to forget, concluded with “ a hope that I might Poets” in their aggregate capacity, and by Southey, yer return to England.” How this expression was Wordsworth, and Coleridge, when taken singly.
received in England itself I am not acquainted, bul I wish to say a word or two upon the virtue of one it gave great offence at Rome to the respectable of those persons, public and private, for reasons len or twenty thousand English travellers then and which will soon appear. there assembled. I did not visit Piome lill some When I left England in April, 1816, ill in mind, time after, so that I had no opportunity of knowing in body, and in circumstances, I look up my resithe fact; but I was informed, long afterwards, that dence at Coligny, by the lake of Geneva. The sole the greatest indignation had been manifested in companion of my journey was a young physician, (1)
the enlightened Anglo-circle of that year, which who had to make his way in the world, and, having happened 10 comprise within il--amidst a consi-ceen very lilile of it, was naturally and laudably derable leaven of Welbeck Street and Devonshire desirous of seeing more society than suited my Place, broken loose lipon their travels-several present babits or my past experience. I therefore reallı well-born and well-bred families, who did presented him to those gentlemen of Geneva for not the less participate in the feeling of the hour. whom I had letters of introduction; and having **Why should he return to England ?" was the ge- thus seen him in a situation to make his own way,
neral exclamation. I answer why? It is a ques- retired for my own part entirely from society, with tion I have occasionally asked myself, and I never the exception of one English family, living at about yel could give it a satisfactory reply. I had then a quarter of a mile's distance from Diodali, and no thoughts of returning, and if I have any now, with the further exception of some occasional inthey are of business, and not of pleasure. Amidst tercourse with Coppet, at the wish of Madame de the lies that have been dashed lo pieces, there are Staël. The English family lo which I allude conlinks yet entire, though the chain itself be broken. sisted of two ladies, a gentleman, and his son, a
There are duties, and connections, which may one boy of a year old.(2) day require my presence—and I am a father. I One of “these lofty-minded and virtuous have still some friends whom I wish to meet again, men,”in the words of the Edinburgh Magazine, and it may be, an enemy. These things, and those made, I understand, about this time, or soon after, minuter delails of business, which lime accumu a tour in Switzerland. On his return to England, lates during absence, in every man's affairs and pro- he circulaied—and for any thing I know, invented perty, may, and probably will, recall me to Eng -a report, that the gentleman to whom I have alland; but I shall return with the same feelings luded and myself were living in promiscuous inwith which I left it, in respect to itself, though al- tercourse with two sisters, “having formed a league tered with regard to individuals, as I have been of incest” (I quote the words as they were stated 10 more or less informed of their conduct since my me), and indulged himselfon the natural comments departure ; for it was only a considerable time after upon such a conjunction, which are said to have it that I was made acquainted with the real facts been repeated publicly, with great complacency, by and full extent of some of their proceedings and another of that poetical fraternity, of whom I shall language. My friends, like other friends, from say only, that even had the story been true, he conciliatory motives, withheld from me much that should not have repeated it, as far as it regarded
they could, and some things which they should myself, except in sorrow. The tale itself requires have unfolded; however, that which is deferred is not lost-but it has been no fault of mine that it
(1) Dr. Polidori-author of the Vampire.-E. has been deferred at all.
(2) Mr. and Mrs. Shelley, Miss Clermont, and Master Shelley. I have alluded to what is said to have passed at -E
but a world in answer the ladies were not sisters, he and his sect are remembered, I shall be proud nor in any degree connected, except by the second to be “forgot.” That he is not conlent with his marriage of their respective parents, a widower success as a poet may reasonably be believed-be with a widow, both being the offspring of former has been the nine-pin of reviews; the Edinburgh marriages; neither of them were, in 1816, nine-knocked him down, and the Quarterly sel bim up; teen years old. “Promiscuous intercourse” could the government found liim useful in the periodical hardly have disgusted the great patron of pantiso- line, and made a point of recommending his works cracy, (does Mr. Southey remember such a sıheme?) to purchasers, so that he is occasionally bought (I but there was none.
mean his books, as well as the author), and may be How far this man, who, as author of Wat Tyler, found on the same shelf, if not upon the table, of has been proclaimed by the Lord Chancellor guilly most of the gentlemen employed in the different of a treasonable and blasphemous libel, and de- offices. With regard to his private virtues, I know nounced in the House of Commons, by the upright nothing-of his principles, I have heard enough. and able member for Norwich, as a "rancorous As far as traving been, to the best of my power, renegado," be fit for sitting as a judge upon others, benevolent to others, I do not fear the comparison; let others judge. He has said, that for this expres- and for the errors of the passions, was Mr. Southey sion “he brands William Smith on the forehead always so tranquil and stainless ? Did he nerer as a calumniator,” and that “the mark will out-covet his neighbour's wife? Did he never calumlast his epitaph." How long William Smith's niate his neighbour's wife's daughter, the offspring epitaph will last, and in what words it will be of her he coveted? So much for the apostle of wrillen, I know not; but William Smith's words pantisocracy. form the epitaph itself of Robert Soulhey. He has Ofthe"lofty-minded, virtuous” Wordsworth, one written Wat Tyler, and taken the office of poet anecdote will suffice to speak his sincerity. In a laureate—he has, in the Life of Henry Kirke White, conversation with Mr.--upon poetry, he condenominated reviewing “the ungentle craft," and cluded with, “After all, I would not give five shilhas become a reviewer-he was one of the projec-lings for all that Southey has ever written.” Pertors of a scheme, called “pantisocracy,” for having haps this calculation mighl rasher show his esteem all things, including women, in common, (query, for five shillings than his low estimate of Dr. Soucommon women ?) and he sets up as a moralist-he they; but considering that when he was in his need, denounced the battle of Blenheim and he praised the and Southey had a shilling, Wordsworth is said to batile of Waterloo-he loved Mary Wollstoncraft, have had generally sixpence out ofit, it has an awkand he tried to blast the character of her daughter ward sound in the way of valuation. This anec(one of the young females mentioned)—he wrote dote was told me by persons who, ifquoted by name, Treason, and serves the king-he was the butt of the would prove that its genealogy is poetica) as well Antijacobin, and he is the prop of the Quarterly as true. I can give my authority for ibis; and am Review ; licking the hands ihal smote him, eating ready to adduce it also for Mr. Souther's circulation the bread of his enemies, and internally writhing of the falsehood before mentioned. beneath his own contempt,- he would fain conceal,
Of Coleridge, I shall say nothing-why, he may under anonymous bluster, and a vain endeavour to
divine. (1) obtain the esteem of others, after having for ever
I have said more of these people than I intended lost his own, his-leprous sense of his own degra- in this place, being somewhatstirred by the remarks dation. What is there in such a man to “envy?” which induced me to commence upon the topic. I Who ever envied the envious? Is it his birth, his see nothing in these men as poels, or as indiviname, his fame, or his virtues, that I am to “envy?' duals—little in their talents, and less in their chaI was born of the aristocracy, which he abhorred; racters, to prevent honest men from expressing for and am sprung, by my mother, from the kings who them considerable contempt, in prose or rhyme, as preceded those whom he has hired himself to sing. it may happen. Mr. Southey has the Quarterly It cannut, then, be his birth. As a poet, I have, for his field of rejoinder, and Mr. Wordsworth bis for the past eight years, had nothing to apprehend postscripts to Lyrical Ballads, where the two great from a competition; and for the future, “that life instances of the sublime are taken from himself and to come in every poet's creed,” it is open to all. Milton. “Over her own sweet voice the stockdove I will only remind Mr. Southey, in the words broods;" that is to say, she has the pleasure of lisof a crilic, who, if still living, would have an- tening to herself, in common with Mr. Wordsworth vihilated Southey's literary existence now and upon most of his public appearances. “What hereafter, as the sworn foe of charlatans and divinity doth hedge” these persons, that we should impostors, from Macpherson downwards, that respect them? Is it Apollo ? Are they not of those *.liose dreams were Settle's once and Ogilby's;” and, for my own part, I assure him, that whenever (1) See Moore's Life of Byron.-E.
who called Dryden's Ode“ a drunken song ?” who that of all Europe for nearly a century. The great! have discovered that Gray's Elegy is full of faults cause of the present deplorable state of English (see Coleridge's Life, vol.i. note, for Wordsworth's poetry is to be attributed to that absurd and syskindness in pointing this ont to him), and have tematic depreciation of Pope, in which, for the last published what is allowed to be the very worst few years, there has been a kind of epidemical conprose that ever was written, to prove that Pope was currence. Men of the most opposite opinions have no poet, and that William Wordsworth is? united upon this topic. Warlon and Churchill
In other points, are they respectable, or res- began it, having borrowed the hint probably from pected? Is it on the open avowal of apostasy, on the heroes of the Dunciad, and their own internal the patronage of government, that their claim is conviction that their proper reputation can be as founded? Who is there who esleems those parri- nothing till the most perfect and harmonious of cides of their own principles? They are, in fact, poets—he who, having no fault, has had REASON well aware that the reward of their change has been made his reproach—was reduced to what they conany thing but honour. The times have preserved ceived to be his level; but even they dared not a respect for political consistency, and, even though degrade him below Dryden. Goldsmith, and Rochangeable, honour the unchanged. Look at gers, and Campbell, his most successful disciples; Moore: it will be long ere Southey meets with and Hayley, who, however feeble, has left one
such a triumph in London as Moore met with in poem “That will not be willingly let die” (the Dublin, even if the government subscribe for it, Triumphs of Temper), kept up the reputation of and set the money down lo secret service. It was that pure and perfect style; and Crabbe, the first not less to the man than to the port, to the tempted of living poets, has almost equalled the master. but unshaken patriot, to the not opulent but in- Then came Darwin, who was put down by a single corruptible fellow-citizen, that the warm-hearted poem in the Antijacobin ; (2) and the Cruscans, Irish paid the proudest of tributes. Mr. Southey from Merry to Jerningham, who were annihilated may applaud himself to the world, but he has his (if Nothing can be said to be annihilated) by Gifown hearliest contempt; and the fury with which ford, the last of the wholesome satirists. he foams against all who stand in the phalanx which A! the same time Mr. Southey was favouring the he forsook, is, as William Smith described it,“ the public wi!h Wat Tyler and Joan of Arc, to the rancour of the renegado," the bad language of the great glory of the drama and epos. I beg parprostitute who slands at the corner of the street, don : Wat Tyler, with Peler Bell, was still in
and showers her slang upon all, except those who MS., and it was not till after Mr. Southey had may have bestowed upon her her“ little shilling.' received his Malmsey butt, and Mr. Words
Hence his quarterly overflowings, political and worth(3) became qualified to gauge it, that the revoliterary, in what he has himself termed “the un-lutionary tragedy came before the public and the gentle craft," and his especial wrath against Mr. Court of Chancery. Wordsworth was peddling Leigh Hunt, notwithstanding that Hunt has done his lyrical ballads, and brooding a preface, to be more for Wordsworih's reputation, as a poet (such succeeded in due course by a postscript; both as it is), than all the Lakers could in their inter- couched in such prose as must give peculiar dechange of self-praises for the last twenty-live years. light to those who have read the prefaces of Pope
And here I wish to say a few words on the pre- and Dryden-scarcely less celebrated for the sent state of English poetry. That this is the age beauty of their prose, than for the charms of their
of the decline of English poetry will be doubled by verse. Wordsworth is the reverse of Molière's few who have calmly considered the subject. That gentleman, who had been "talking prose all his there are men of genius among the present poets life without knowing it;" for he thinks that he has
makes little against the fact, because it has been been all his life writing both prose and verse, and well said, that“next to him who forms the taste of neither of what he conceives to be such can be prohis country, the greatest fenius is he who corrupts | perly said to be either one or the other. Mr. Cole
it.” No one has over denied genius to Marino, (1) ridge, the future vates, poet and seer of the who corrupted not merely the taste of Italy, but Morning Post (an honour also claimed by Mr. Fitz
(1) “Tassoni was almost the only Italian poel of the era in present piece is not of your common epic poems, which come which he flourished, who withstood the general corruption of Sror the press like paper kites in summer; there are none of your taste introduced by Marino and his followers, and by the imiTurnuses or Didos in il; it is an historical description of nalated imilators' of Lope de Vega; and he opened a new path, in lure. I only beg you 'll endeavour to make your souls in unison which a crowd of pretenders have vainly endeavoured to follow will mine, and hear with the same enthusiasm with which I him." Foscolo.-E.
have wrillen." Would not this have made a proper proem to (2) The Loves of the Triangies, the joint production of Messrs the Excursion, and the poet and his pedlar? It would have Canning and Frere.-E.
answered perfectly for that purpose, had it not unsortunately (3) "Goldsmith has anticipated the definition of the Lake been wrillen in good English. poetry, as far as such things can be defined. "Gentlemen, the
gerald, of the Rejected Addresses, who ultimate sucli gibberish, written in all metres and in no ly prophesied the downfall of Bonaparte, to which language. Hunt. who had powers to have made he himself mainly contributed, hy giving him the the Story of Rimini as perfect as a fable of Drynickname of " the Corsican," was then employed sien, has thought fit to sacrifice his genius and his in predicating the damnation of Mr. Pill, and the taste to some unintelligibile notions of Wordsworth, desolation of England, in the two very best copies which I def; him to explain.' Moore has-- Bui of verses he ever wrote: 10 wit, the infernal eclogue why continue?-All, with the exception of Crabbe, of Fire, Famine, and Slaughter, and the ode to Rogers, and Campbell, who may be considered as the departing Year.
having laken their station, will, by the blessing of These three personages. Southey, Wordsworth, God, survive their own reputation, without atand Coleridye, had all of them a very natural laining any very extraordinary period of longevity antipathy to Pope; and I respect them for it, of course there must be a still further exception as the only original feeling or principle which in favour of those who, having never obtained an they have contrived to preserve. But they have reputation at all, unless it be anong provincial libeen joined in it by those why have joined them terali, and their own families, have none to lose, in nothing else : by the Edinburgh Reviewers, by and of Moore, who, as the Burns of Ireland, posthe whole heterogeneous mass of living Englis! sesses a fame which cannot be lost. poets, excepting Crabbe, Rogers, Gifford, and The greater part of the poets mentioned, however, Campbell
, who, both by precept and practice, have have been able to gather together a few followers proved their adherence; and by me, who have a paper of the Connoisseur says, that "it is obshamefully deviated in practice, but haveever loved served by the French, that a cal, a priest, and an and honoured Pope's poetry with my whole soul, old woman, are sufficient to constitute a religious and hope to do so till my dying day. I would sect in England." The same number of animals, rather see all I have ever written lining the same with some difference in kind, will suffice for a trunk in which I actually read the eleventh book poetical one. If we lake Sir George Beaumont inof a modern epic poem(1) at Malta, in 1811 (I opened stead of the priest, and Mr. Wordsworth for the old it to take out a change after the paroxysm of a ter- woman, we shall nearly complete the quota relian, in the absence of my servant, and found it quired; but I fear that Mr. Southey will bui indiflined with the nanie of the maker, Eyre, Cockspur ferently represent the cat, having shown himself Street, and with the epic poetry alluded 10), ihan but too distinctly to be of a species to which that sacrifice what I firmly believe in as the Christianity
noble crealure is peculiarly hostile. of English poetry, the poetry of Pope.
Nevertheless, I will not go so far as Wordsworth
in his posteript, who pretends that no great poet But the Edinburgh Reviewers, and the Lakers, and Hụnt and his school, and every body else with ever had immediate fame; which, being intertheir school, and even Moore without a school, and preted, means that William Wordsworth is not dilettanti lecturers at institutions, and elderly gen-Me desirable. This assertion is as false as it is
quite so much read by his conlemporaries as mighi tlemen who translate and imitate, and young ladies who listen and repeat, baronets who draw indiffe - foolish. Homer's glory depended upon his present rent frontispieces for bad poets, and noblemen who popularity: he recited, -and, without the strongest let them dine with them in the country, the small impression of the moment, wl:o would have gotten body of the wits and the great body of the blues,
the Iliad by heart, and given it to tradition? Enhave latterly united in a depreciation, of which their Eschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Sappho, Anacreon,
nius, Terence, Plautus, Lucretius. Horace, Virgil, fathers would have been as much ashamed as their Theocritus, all the great poets of antiquity, were children will be. In the mean time, what have we the delight of their contemporaries. The very exgot instead? The Lake school, which begun with istence of a poet, previous to the invention of an epic poem, " written in six weeks" (so Joan of Arc proclaimed herself), and finished with a bal- and how often has it impaired his future fame?
printing, depended upon his present popularity lad composed in twenty years, as Peter Bell's creator takes care to inform the few who will inquire.
Hardly ever. History informs us, that the best
have come down to us. What have we gol instead ? A deluge of Himsy and
The reason is evident; unintelligible romances, imitated from Scoti and
the most popular found the greatest number of myself, who have both made the best of our bad transcribers for their Mss., and that the taste materials and erroneous system. What have we
of their contemporaries was corrupt can hardly got instead? Madoc, which is neither an epic nor
be avouched by the moderns, the mightiest of any thing else; Thalaba, Kehama, Gebir, and whom hut barely approached them. Dante, pe
trarch, Ariosto, and Tasso, were all the darhng
of the contemporary reader. Dante's poem was (1) Sir James Bland Burgess's Richard I.
celebrated long before his death; and not long