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it not Lord B.'s composition." Why did you ever suppose that it was? I approve of your indignationI applaud it— I feel as angry as you can ; but perhaps your virtuous wrath carries you a little too far, when you say that “no misdemeanour, not even that of sending into the world obscene and blasphemous poetry, the product of studious lewdness and laboured 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 n't!- Think a little. This is being critical overmuch. In point of Gentile benevolence or Christian charity, it were surely less criminal to praise for a bribe, than to abuse a fellow-creature for nothing; and as to the assertion of the comparative innocence of blasphemy and obscenity, confronted with an editor's “ acceptance of a present," I shall merely observe, that as an Editor you say very well, but, as a Christian divine, I would not recommend you to transpose this sentence into
And yet you say,
“ the miserable man (for miserable he is, as having a soul of which he cannot get rid)” — But here I must pause again, and enquire what is the meaning of this parenthesis? We have heard of people of " little soul,” or of “no soul at all,” but never till now of “the misery of having a soul of which we cannot get rid;" a misery under which you are possibly no great sufferer, having got rid apparently of some of the intellectual part
your own when you penned this pretty piece of eloquence.
But to continue. You call upon Lord Byron, always supposing him not the author, to disclaim “ with all gentlemanly haste," &c. &c. 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 mean time, 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 sheets of Mr. S.'s poems in Italy, or on Italy, as he says, (I 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
(1) [" Whether it be the British Critic, or the British Review, against which the noble lord prefers so grave a charge, or rather so facetious an
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," “ Gifford's Review,” in lieu of Edinburgh and Quarterly ; so “my Grandmother's Review” and Roberts's might be also 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 all 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
accusation, we are at a loss to determine. The latter has thought it worth its while, in a public paper, to make a serious reply. As we are not so seriously inclined, we shall leave our share of this accusation to its fate.” - Brit. Critic.] VOL. XV.
peer and a British poet, it would be impracticable for him to have recourse to such facetious fiction, but for some other reasons which you have omitted to
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 aunt of my own, 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
aloud to lier; and this is in fact the way in which I became 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 unappropriated prodigies. Lord B. has been supposed the author of the “ Vampire," of
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 he 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. I thought his style had been the serious and terrible. As to his sending you money, this is the first time that ever I heard of his paying his reviewers in that coin ; I 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 ! 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: if 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