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I hare a pleasure ia serriiig you.
You are obliging and kind.
freely. Without ceremony. 1 lore you with all my
heart. And 1 the same. Honour me with your
commands. Have you any commands
for me? Command your servant. I wait your commands. You do me great honour. Not so much ceremony, I
Present my respects to the gentleman, or his lordsbip.
Assure him of my remembrance.
Assure him of my friendship.
I will not fail to tell him of It
My compliments to her
ladyship. Gobefore.aud I will follow
I well know my duty.
Would you have me then be guilty of an incivility? I go before to obey you.
To comply with your command.
I do not like so much ceremony.
I am not at all ceremoni-
To ojjirm, deny, consent.
It U true, it is very true.
Yes, by my faith.
Yes, 1 swear it to you. I swear to you as an honest man.
I swear to you on my honour.
I can assure you of it.
I would lay what bet yon ptease on this.
You jest by chance?
Do you speak seriously?
There is nothing of this.
It pleases me much.
1 agree with you.
I give my assent.
I do not oppose this.
I will not.
I object to this.
My Dear Roberts,
As a believer in the church of England—to say nothing of the State—I have been an occasional reader and great admirer of, though not a subscriber to, your Review, which is rather expensive. But 1 do not know that any part of its contents ever gave me much surprise till the eleventh article of your twenty-seventh number made its appearance. You have there most vigorously refuted a calumnious accusation of bribery and corruption, the credence of which in the public mind might not only have damaged your reputation as a clergyman2 and an editor, but, what would have been still worse, have injured the circulation of your journal; which, I regret to hear, is not so extensive as the " purity " (as you well observe) " of Its, Ac. &c." and the present taste for propriety, would induce us to expect. The charge itself is of a solemn nature, and, although in verse, is couched in terms of such circumstantial gravity, as to induce a belief little short of that generally accorded to the thirty-nine articles, to which you so frankly subscribed on taking your degrees. It is a charge the most revolting to the heart of man from Its frequent occurrence; to the mind of a statesman, from its occasional truth; and to the soul of an editor, from its moral impossibility. You are charged then in the last line of one octave stanza, and the whole eight lines of the next, viz. 209th and 210th of the first canto of that " pestilent poem" Don Juan, with receiving, and still more foolishly acknowledging the receipt of, certain monies, to eulogise the unknown author, who by this account must be known to you, if to nobody else. An Impeachment of this nature so seriously made, there is but one way of refuting; and It is my firm persuasion, that whether you did or did not (and / believe that you did not) receive the said monies, of which I wish that be had specified the sum, you arc quite right In denying all knowledge of the transaction. If charges of this nefarious description are to go forth, sanctioned by all the solemnity of circumstance, and guaranteed by the veracity of verse (as Counsellor Phillips3 would say), what is to become of readers hitherto Implicitly confident In the not less veracious prose of our critical journals ? what is to become of the reviews? And, if the reviews fail, what Is to become of the editors? It is common cause, and you have done well to sound the alarm. I myself, in my humble sphere, will be one of your echoes. In the words of the tragedian, Liston, "I love a row," and you seem justly determined to make one.
It is barely possible, certainly improbable, that the writer might have been in jest; but this only aggravates his crime. A joke, the proverb says, " breaks no bones ;" but it may break a bookseller, or ft may be the cause of bones being broken. The jest is but a bad one at the best for the author, and might have been a still worse one for you. If your copious contradiction did not certify to all whom it may concern your own indignant innocence, and the immaculate purity of the British Review. 1 do not doubt your word, my dear Roberts; yet I cannot help wishing that, in a case of such vital importance, it bad assumed the more substantial shape
1 ["Bologna, A as. 2.1. 1810. 1 tend ymi a letter to Roberts, signed • Wurtley Cltitterbuck,* which you may publish in what form you pirate, in answer to hit article. I hart.- l:nil mam proof* of mn'» nlr-urdity, but he beats nil in folly. Why, [he wolf in beep's clothing has tumbled into the Tery trap ■ " — Lord < ■ i to Mr. Jsfstrn/y.]
4 | Mr. Robert* I* not, as Lord Byron wnw to have supposed, a clergyman, but s barrister at Uw. In I "UK, hi- et.tahlu.hi.-d a paper called " The
of an affidavit sworn before the Lord Mayor Atkins, who readily receives any deposition ; and doubtless would have brought it in some way as evidence of the designs of the Reformers to set fire to London, at the same time that be himself meditates the same good office towards the river Thames.
I am sure, my dear Roberts, that you will take these observations of mine In good part: they arc written in a spirit of friendship not less pure than your own editorial Integrity. I have always admired you; and, not knowing any shape which friendship and admiration can assume more agreeable and useful than that of good advice, I shall continue my lucubrations, mixed with here and there a monitory hiot as to what I conceive to be the line you should pursue, in case you should ever again be assailed with bribes, or accused of taking them. By the way, you don't say much about the poeca, except that It is " flagitious.'* This Is a pity —you should have cut it up; because, to say the truth. In not doing so, you somewhat assist any notions which the malignant might entertain on the score of the anonymous asseveration which has made you so angry.
You say no bookseller14 was willing to take upon himself the publication, though most of them disgrace themselves by selling ft." Now, my dear friend, though we all know th-a: those fellows will do any thing for money, methinks the disgrace is more with the purchasers: and some such, doubtless, there are; for there can be no very extensive selling < as you will perceive by that of the British Review) without buying. You then add, M What can the critic say ? - I aa sure I don't know; at present be says very little, and that not much to the purpose. Then comes " Tor praixe as far as regards the poetry, many passages might be exhibited: for condemnation, as far as regards the morality, alL" Now. my dear good Mr. Roberts, 1 feel for you, and for your reputation : my heart bleeds for both ; and I do ask you, whether or not such language does not come positively under tha description of " the puff collusive," for which see Sheridaa* farce of" The Critic," (by the way, a little than your own farce under the same title,) of scene second, act the first.
The poem is, it seems, sold as the work of Lord Byrne: but you feel yourself" at liberty to suppose it not Lord B "i composition." Why did you ever suppose that ft was? I approve of your Indignation — I applaud it — I feel as aagrr as you can; but perhaps your virtuous wrath carries yon i little too far, when you say that" no misdemeanour, not eves that of sending into the world obscene and blaspbescov poetry, the product of studious lewdness and labourec Impiety, appears to you In so detestable a light as the acceptance of a present by the editor of a review, as the condition of praising an author." The devil it does o*t: — Think a little. This is being critical overmuch. In pa*-' of Gentile benevolence* or Christian charity, ft were rarr-r less criminal to praise for a bribe, than to abuse a friLowcreature for nothing ; and as to the assertion of the ctHnp*.-utive innocence of blasphemy and obscenity, coo fronted ajfeft an editor's " acceptance of a present," I shall merely observr. that as an Editor you say very well, but, as a Christian drtrje I would not recommend you to transpose this sentence isfc= a sermon.
And yet you say, " the miserable man (for miserable he is. as having a soul of which be cannot get rid)" — But here J 1 must pause again, and inquire what fs the meaning of thn parenthesis? We have heard of " little soul," or of " Ksoul at all," but never till now of *' the misery of turrine a soul of which we cannot get rid;" a misery under » hick T*k are possibly no great sufferer, having got rid apparrtiti; a some of the intellectual part of your own when you pecaethis pretty piece of eloquence.
But to continue. You call upon Lord Byron, always supposing bim not the author, to disclaim " with all gentlemanly haste," Sec. Sec. I am told that Lord B. is in a foreign country, some thousand miles off it may be; so that it will be difficult for him to hurry to your wishes. In the meantime, perhaps you yourself have set an example of more haste than gentility; but " the more haste the worse speed.'*
Let us now look at the charge itself, my dear Roberts, which appears to me to be in some degree not quite explicitly worded:
"I bribed my Grandmother's Review, the British."
I recollect hearing, soon after the publication, this subject discussed at the tea-table of Mr. Sotheby the poet, who expressed himself, I remember, a good deal surprised that you had never reviewed his epic poem of" Saul," nor any of his six tragedies ; of which, in one instance, the bad taste of the pit, and, in all the rest, the barbarous repugnance of the principal actors, prevented the performance. Mrs. and the Misses S. being in a corner of the room, perusing the proof thects of Mr. S.'s poems In Italy, or On Italy, as he says, ( 1 wish, by the by, Mrs. S. would make the tea a little stronger,) the male part of the conversazione were at liberty to make a few observations on the poem and passage in question; and there was a difference of opinion. Some thought the allusion was to the " British Critic 1; '* others, that by the expression, "My Grandmother's Review," it was Intimated that " my grandmother" was not the reader of the review, but actually the writer . thereby insinuating, my dear Roberts, that you were an old woman; because, as people often say, " Jeffrey's Review," "GUTord's Review," In lieu of Edinburgh and Quarterly: so " my Grandmother's Review" and Roberts's might be almost synonymous. Now, whatever colour this insinuation might derive from the circumstance of your wearing a gown, as well as from your time of life, your general style, and various passages of your writings,— I will take upon myself to exculpate you from alt suspicion of the kind, and assert, without calling Mrs. Roberts in testimony, that If ever you should be chosen Pope, you will pass through all [ the previous ceremonies with as much credit as any pontiff since the parturition of Joan. It is very unfair to judge of sex from writings, particularly from those of the British Review. We are all liable to be deceived; and it is an indisputable fact, that many of the best articles in your journal, which were attributed to a veteran female, were actually written by you yourself; and yet to this day there are people who could never find out the difference. But let us return to the more immediate question.
I agree with you, that it is impossible Lord Byron should be the author, not only because, as a British peer and a British poet, it would bo impracticable for him to have recourse to such facetious fiction, but for some other reasons which you have omitted to state. In the first place, his Lordship has no grandmother. Now, the author—and we may believe him in this —doth expressly state that the *' British" is his " Grandmother's Review;" and if, as I think I have distinctly proved, this was not a mere figurative allusion to your supposed intellectual age and sex, my dear friend, it follows, whether you be she or no, that there is such an elderly lady still extant. And I can the more readily credit this, having a sexagenary auntof myown, who perused you constantly, till unfortunately falling asleep over the leading article of your last number, her spectacles fell off and were broken against the fender, after a faithful service of fifteen years, and she has never been able to fit her eyes since; so that I have been forced to read you aloud to hor; and this is in fact the way In which I bocarae acquainted with the subject of my present letter, and thus determined to become your public correspondent.
In the next place, Lord B.'s destiny seems in some sort like that of Hercules of old, who became the author of all
l *' 1 Whether It be the British Critic, or the British Review, against which the noiile lord prefers to grave a charge, or rather so facetious an l are at a Low to determine. The tatter liu (taught it worth
unappropriated prodigies. Lord B. has been supposed the author of the " Vampire," of a " Pilgrimage to Jerusalem," "To the Dead Sea," of " Death upon the Pale Horse," of odes to " La Valette," to " Saint Helena," to the " Land of the Gaul," and to a sucking child. Now, he turned out to have written none of these things. Besides, you say, he knows in what a spirit of, &c. you criticise: — Are you sure he' knows all this? that be has read you like my poor dear aunt? They tell me he is a queer sort of a man; and I would not be too sure, if I were you, either of what he has read or of what he has written. 1 thought his style had been the serious and terrible. As to his sending you money, this is the first time that over I heard of his paying his reviewers in that coin,- 1 thought it was rather in their own, to judge from some of his earlier productions. Besides, though he may not be profuse in his expenditure, I should conjecture that his reviewer's bill is not so long as his tailor's.
Shall I give you what I think a prudent opinion? I don't mean to Insinuate, God forbid 1 but If, by any accident, there should have been such a correspondence between you and the unknown author, whoever he may be, send him back his money: I dare say he will be very glad to have it again; it can't be much, considering the value of the article and the circulation of the journal; and you are too modest to rate your praise beyond its real worth—Don't be angry,— I know you won't,—at this appraisement of your powers of eulogy; for on the other hand, my dear friend, depend upon it your abuse is worth, not its own weight,—that's a feather, —but your weight in gold. So don't spare it: IT he has bargained for that, give it handsomely, and depend upon your doing him a friendly office.
But I only speak in case of possibility; for, as I said before, I cannot believe, in the first Instance, that you would receive a bribe to praise any person whatever; and still less can I believe that your praise could ever produce such an offer. You arc a good creature, my dear Roberts, and a clever fellow ; else I could almost suspect that you had fallen into the very trap set for you in verse by this anonymous wag, who will certainly be but too happy to ice you saving him the trouble of making you ridiculous. The fact is, that the solemnity of your eleventh article does make you look a little more absurd than you ever yet looked, in all probability, and at the same time does no good; for if any body believed before in the octave stanzas, they will believe still, and you will find it not less difficult to prove your negative, than the learned Partridge found it to demonstrate his not being dead, to the satisfaction of the readers of almanacs.
What the motives of this writer may have been for (as you magnificently translate his quizzing you) " stating, with the particularity which belongs to fact, the forgery of a groundless fiction," (do pray, my dear R., talk a little less "In King Cambyses' vein,") 1 cannot pretend to say; perhaps to laugh at you. but that is no reason for your benevolently making all the world laugh also. I approve of your being angry; I tell you I am angry too; but you should not have shown it so outrageously. Your solemn " if somebody personating the Editor of the, Sec. See. has received from Lord B.,or from any other person," reminds me of Charley Incledon's usual exordium when people came into the tavern to hear him sing without paying their share of the reckoning—" if a maun, or ony maun, or any other maun," See &c.; you have both the same rcduudant eloquence. But why should you think any body would personate you? Nobody would dream of such a prank who ever read your compositions, and perhaps not many who have heard your conversation. But I have been inoculated with a little of your prolixity. The fact is, my dear Roberts, that somebody has tried to make a fool of you, and what he did not succeed in doing, you have done for him and for yourself.
With regard to the poem itself, or the author, whom I cannot find out, (can you ?} I have nothing to say; my business
iti while, In a public paper, to mnkr a terious reply. As we are not so : *liall Mug— *