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reproach, we do not see any good reason why he should not be plainly told so by the general voice of his countrymen. It would not be an easy matter to persuade any Man, who has any knowledge of the nature of Woman, that a female such as Lord Byron has himself described his wife to be, would rashly, or hastily, or lightly, separate herself, from the love with which she had once been inspired for such a man as he is, or was. Had he not heapert insult upon insult, and scorn upon scorn - had he not forced the iron of his contempt into her very soul — there is no woman of delicacy and vir. tue, as he admitted Lady Byron to be, who would not have hoped all things and suffered all things from one, her love of whom must have been inwoven with so many exalting elements of delicious pride, and more de. licious humility. To offend the love of such a woman was wrong — but it might be forgiven; to desert her was unmanly - but he might have returned, and wiped for ever from her eyes the tears of her desertion; but to injure, and to desert, and then to turn back and wound her widowed privacy with unhallowed strains of cold blooded mockery - was brutally, fiendishly, inexpiably mean. For impurities there might be some possibility of pardon, were they supposed to spring only from the reckless buoyancy of young blood and fiery passions ; - for impiety there might at least be pity, were it visible that the misery of the impious soul equalled its darkness; - but for offences such as this, which cannot proceed either from the madness of sudden impulse, or the bewildered agonies of doubt – but which speak the wilful and determined spite of an unrepenting, unsoftened, smiling, sarcastic, joyous sinner – there can be neither pity nor pardon. Our knowledge that it is committed by one of the most powerful intellects our island ever has produced, lends intensity a thousand fold to the bitterness of our indignation. Every high thought that was ever kindled in our breasts by the muse of Byron - every pure and lofty feeling that ever responded from within us to the sweep of his ma. jestic inspirations - every remembered moment of admiration and enthusiasm, is up in arms against him. We look back with a mixture of wrath and scorn to the delight with which we suffered ourselves to be filled by one who, all the while he was furnishing us with delight, must, we cannot doubt it, have been mocking us with a cruel mockery- less cruel only, because less peculiar, than that with which he has now turned him from the lurking-place of his selfish and polluted exile, to pour the pitiful chalice of his contumely on the surrendered devotion of a virgin-bosom, and the holy hopes of the mother of his child. It is indeed a sad and an humiliating thing to know, that in the same year there proceeded from the same pen two productions, in all things so different, as the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold and this loathsome Don Juan.
“ We have mentioned one, and, all will admit, the worst instance of the private malignity which has been embodied in so many passages of Don Juan; and we are quite sure, the lofty-minded and virtuous men whom Lord Byron has debased himself by insulting, will close the volume which contains their own injuries, with no feelings save those of pity for Him that has inflicted them, and for Her who partakes so largely in the same injuries." -[Aug. 1819.]' VOL. XV.
The “ REMARKS UPON AN ARTICLE IN BLACKwood's MAGAZINE," - which Lord Byron wrote on perusing the above-quoted passages, and which were printed at the time, but on consideration suppressed,
- are now, for the first time, published in the present volume.
See p. 55. post.
As a pleasing relief, in the midst of these prose criticisms, we present an extract from “ Common Sense, A Poem,” published in 1819, by a gentleman, we are informed, of eminent respectability, the Rev. Mr. Terrot, of Cambridge.
“ Alas, for Byron! - Satire's self must own
His song has something of a lofty tone:
Let us indulge our readers, before we return to the realms of prose, with another wreath from the myrtles of Parnassus, - i. e. with an extract from an “ Expostulatory Epistle to Lord Byron”.
By Cottle - not he whom the Alfred made famous;
* See Vol. VII, antè, p. 249.
“ Is there a man, how fallen! still to fall!
The “ Testimonies” hitherto quoted refer to the earlier most of them to the first two Cantos of Don Juan. We now pass to critical observations on the Poem as a whole; some introduced in periodical works of the time, others from separate tracts. Let us begin with the more measured language of Blackwood, in 1825 — when Lord Byron was no
XX. BLACKWOOD, - iterum. “ We shall, like all others who say any thing about Lord Byron, begin, sans apologie, with his personal character. This is the great object of attack, the constant theme of open vituperation to one set, and the esta blished mark for all the petty but deadly artillery of sneers, shrugs, groans, to another. Two widely different matters, however, are generally, we might say universally, mixed up here - the personal character of the man, as proved by his course of life, and his personal character as revealed in, or guessed from, his books. Nothing can be more unfair than the style in
which this mixture is made use of. Is there a noble sentiment, a lofty thought, a sublime conception, in the book?—Ah! yes,' is the answer. “But what of that? It is only the roué Byron that speaks!' Is a kind, a gene. rous action of the man mentioned ? • Yes, yes,' comments the sage, but only remember the atrocities of Don Juan; depend on it, this, if it be true, must have been a mere freak of caprice, or perhaps a bit of vile hypocrisy.' Salvation is thus shut out at either entrance: the poet damns the man, and the man the poet.
“ Nobody will suspect us of being so absurd, as to suppose that it is possible for people to draw no inferences as to the character of an author from his book, or to shut entirely out of view, in judging of a book, that which they may happen to know about the man who writes it. The cant of the day supposes such things to be practicable, but they are not. But what we complain of, and scorn, is the extent to which they are carried in the case of this particular individual, as compared with others; the impudence with which things are at once assumed to be facts in regard to his private history, and the absolute unfairness of never arguing from his writings to him - but for evil.
“ Take the man, in the first place, as unconnected, in so far as we can thus consider him, with his works; - and ask, what, after all, are the bad things we know of him? Was he dishonest or dishonourable ? — had he ever done any thing to forfeit, or even endanger, his rank as a gentleman ? Most assuredly no such accusations have ever been maintained against Lord Byron, the private nobleman although something of the sort may have been insinuated against the author. ‘But, he was such a profligate in his morals, that his name cannot be mentioned with any thing like tolerance.' Was he so, indeed? We should like extremely to have the catechising of the individual man who says so. That he indulged in sensual vices to some extent is certain - and to be regretted and condemned. But, was he worse, as to such matters, than the enormous majority of those who join in the cry of horror upon this occasion ? We most assuredly believe exactly the re. verse; and we rest our belief upon very plain and intelligible grounds. First, we hold it impossible that the majority of mankind, or that any thing beyond a very small minority, are or can be entitled to talk of sensual pro. Aigacy as having formed a part of the life and character of the man who, dying at six-and-thirty, bequeathed a collection of works such as Byron's to the world. Secondly, we hold it impossible that, laying the extent of his intellectual labours out of the question, and looking only to the nature of the intellect which generated, and delighted in generating, such beautiful and noble conceptions as are to be found in almost all Lord Byron's works - we hold it impossible that very many men can be at once capable of comprehending these conceptions, and entitled to consider sensual profligacy as having formed the principal, or even a principal, trait in Lord Byron's character. Thirdly, and lastly, We have never been able to hear any one fact established, which could prove Lord Byron to deserve any thing like the degree or even kind of odium which has, in regard to matters of this class, been heaped upon his name. We have no story of base unmanly seduction, or false and villanous intrigue, against him
none whatever. It seems to us quite clear, that, if he had been at all what is called in society an unprincipled sensualist, there must have been many such stories -- authentic and authenticated. But there are none such absolutely none. His name has been coupled with the names of three, four, or more women of some rank: but what kind of women ? - every one of them, in the first place, about as old as himself in years, and there. fore a great deal older in character - every one of them utterly battered in reputation long before he came into contact with them — licentious, unprincipled, characterless women. What father has ever reproached him with the ruin of his daughter? What husband has denounced him as the destroyer of his peace ?
“ Let us not be mistaken. We are not defending the offences of which Lord Byron unquestionably was guilty: neither are we finding fault with those who, after looking honestly within and around themselves, condemn those offences — no matter how severely. But we are speaking of society in general, as it now exists; and we say that there is vile hypocrisy in the tone in which Lord Byron is talked of there. We say that, although all offences against purity of life are miserable things and condemnable things, the degrees of guilt attached to different offences of this class are as widely different as are the degrees of guilt between an assault and a murder; and we confess our belief, that no man of Byron's station and age could have run much risk in gaining a very bad name in society, had a course of life similar (in so far as we know any thing of that) to Lord Byron's been the only thing chargeable against him.
“ The last poem he wrote * was produced upon his birth-day, not many weeks before he died. We consider it as one of the finest and most touching effusions of his noble genius. We think he who reads it, and can ever after bring himself to regard even the worst transgressions that have been charged against Lord Byron with any feelings but those of humble sorrow and manly pity, is not deserving of the name of man. The deep and passionate struggles with the inferior elements of his nature (and ours) which it records — the lofty thirsting after purity - the heroic devotion of a soul half weary of life, because unable to helieve in its own powers to live up to what it so intensely felt to be, and so reverentially honoured as, the right - the whole picture of this mighty spirit, often darkened, but never sunk, often erring, but never ceasing to see and to worship the beauty of virtue – the repentance of it, the anguish, the aspiration, almost stifled in despair - the whole of this is such a whole, that we are sure no man can read these solemn verses too often, and we recommend them for repetition, as the best and most conclusive of all pos. sible answers, whenever the name of Byron is insulted by those who per. mit themselves to forget nothing, either in his life or his writings, but the
* See antè, Vol. XIV, p. 358.