Графични страници
PDF файл


had been schoolfellows together at the grammar-schule’ (or, as the Aberdonians pronounce it, 'squeel) of New Aberdeen. He did not behave to me quite handsomely in his capacity of editor a few years ago, but he was under no obligation to behave otherwise. The moment was too tempting for many friends and for all enemies. At a time when all my relations (save one) fell from me like leaves from the tree in autumn winds, and few friends became still fewer,--when the whole periodical press (I mean the daily and weekly, not the literary press) was let loose against me in every shape of reproach, with the two strange exceptions (from their usual opposition) of the Courier and the Examiner,'—the paper of which Scott had the direction was neither the last, nor the least vituperative. Two years ago I met him at Venice, when he was bowed in griefs by the loss of his son, and had known, by experience, the bitterness of domestic privation. He was then earnest with me to return to England; and on my telling him, with a smile, that he was once of a different opinion, he replied to me, that he and others had been greatly misled; and that some pains, and rather extraordinary means, had been taken to excite them. Scott is no more, but there are more than one living who were present at this dialogue. He was a man of

very considerable talents, and of great acquirements. He had made his way, as a literary character, with high success, and in a few years. Poor fellow! I recollect his joy at some appointment which he had obtained, or was to obtain, through Sir James Mackintosh, and which prevented the further extension (unless by a rapid run to Rome) of his travels in Italy. I little thought to what it would conduct him. Peace be with him!—and may all such other faults as are inevitable to humanity be as readily forgiven him, as the little injury which he had done to one who respected his talents and regrets his loss.»

In reference to some complaints made by Mr Bowles, in his Pamphlet, of a charge of « hypochondriacismo which he supposed to have been brought against him by his assailant, Mr Gilchrist, the noble writer thus proceeds :

uI cannot conceive a man in perfect health being much affected by such a charge, because his complexion and conduct must amply refute it. But were it true, to what does it amount ?--to an impeachment of a liver complaint. "I will tell it to the world,' exclaimed the learned Smelfungus: 'you had better (said I) tell it to your physician.' There is nothing dishonourable in such a disorder, which is more peculiarly the malady of students. It has been the complaint of the good and the wise and the witty, and even of the gay. Regnard, the author of the last French comedy after Molière, was atrabilarious, and Molière himself saturnine. Dr Johnson, Gray, and Burns, were all more or less affected by it occasionally. It was the prelude to the more awful malady of Collins, Cowper, Swift, and Smart; but it by no means follows that a partial affliction of this disorder is to terminate like theirs. But even were it so,

Nor best, nor wisest, are exempt from thee;
Folly-Folly's only free.


Mendehlson and Bayle were at times so overcome with this depression as to be obliged to recur to seeing 'puppet-shows,' and counting tiles upon the opposite houses,' to divert themselves. Dr Johnson, at times, 'would have given a limb to recover his spirits.'


[ocr errors]




« In page 14 we have a large assertion that the Eloisa alone is sufficient to convict him (Pope) of gross licentiousness. Thus, out it comes at last-Mr B. does accuse Pope of "gross licentiousness,' and grounds the charge upon a Poem. The licentiousness is a “grand peut-être,' according to the turn of the times being :- the grossness I deny. On the contrary, I do believe that such a subject never was, nor ever could be, treated by any poet with so much delicacy mingled with, at the same time, such true and intense passion. Is the “Atys' of Catullus licentious ? No, nor even gross ;


Catu)lus is often a coarse writer. The subject is nearly the same, except that Atys was the suicide of his manhood, and Abelard the victim.

« The licentiousness of the story was not Pope's,-it was a fact. All that it had of gross he has softened; all that it had of indelicate he has purified; all that it had of passionate he has beautified; all that it had of holy he has hallowed. Mr Campbell has admirably marked this in a few words (I quote from memory), in drawing the distinction between Pope and Dryden, and pointing out where Dryden was wanting. 'I fear,' says he, “that had the subject of 'Eloisa' fallen into his (Dryden's) hands, he would have given us but a coarse draft of her passion. Never was the delicacy of Pope so much shown as in this poem. With the facts and the letters of · Eloisa’ he has done what no other mind but that of the best and purest of poets could have accomplished with such materials. Ovid, Sappho in the Ode called hers)—all that we have of ancient, all that we have of modern poetry, sinks into nothing compared with him in this production.

« Let us hear no more of this trash about "licentiousness.' Is not “Anacreon' taught in our schools ?





* and

translated, praised, and edited ? are the English schools or the English women the more corrupt for all this? When you have thrown the ancients into the fire, it will be time to denounce the moderns. Licentiousness !'—there is more real mischief and sapping licentiousness in a single French prose novel, in a Moravian hymn, or a German comedy, than in all the actual poetry that ever was penned or poured forth since the rhapsodies of Orpheus. The sentimental anatomy of Rousseau and Mad. de S. are far more formidable than any quantity of verse. They are so, because they sap the principles by reasoning upon the passions ; whereas poetry is in itself passion, and does not systematize. It assails, but does not argue; it may be wrong, but it does not assume pretensions to optimism.»

Mr Bowles having, in his pamphlet, complained of some anonyinous communication which he had received, Lord Byron thus comments on the circumstance,

« I agree with Mr B. that the intention was to annoy him; but I fear that this was answered by his notice of the reception of the criticism. An anonymous writer has but one means of knowing the effect of his attack. In this he has the superiority over the viper; he knows that his poison has taken effect when he hears the victim cry;—the adder is deaf. The best reply to an anonymous intimation is to take no notice directly nor indirectly. I wish Mr B. could see only one or two of the thousand which I have received in the course of a literary life, which, though begun early, has not yet extended to a third part of his existence as an author. I speak of literary life only; - were I to add personal, I might double the amount of anonymous letters. If he could but see the violence, the threats, the absurdity of the

whole thing, he would laugh, and so should I, and thus be both gainers.

« To keep up the farce, within the last month of this present writing (1821), I have had my life threatened in the same way which menaced Mr B.'s fame, excepting that the anonymous

denunciation was addressed to the Cardinal Legate of Romagna, instead of to **** I append the menace in all its barbaric but literal Italian, that Mr B. may be convinced; and as this is the only “promise to pay' which the Italians ever keep, so my person has been at least as much exposed to a shot in the gloaming' from John Heatherblutter' (see Waverley), as ever Mr B.'s glory was from an editor. I am, nevertheless, on horseback and lonely for some hours (one of them twilight) in the forest daily; and this, because it was my 'custom in the afternoon, and that I believe if the tyrant cannot escape amidst his guards (should it be so written), so the humbler individual would find precautions useless. »

The following just tribute to my Reverend friend's merits as a poet I have peculiar pleasure in extracting.

u Mr Bowles bas no reason to succumb' but to Mr Bowles. As a poet, the author of the Missionary' may compete with the foremost of his cotemporaries. Let it be recollected, that all my previous opinions of Mr Bowles's poetry were written long before the publication of his last and best poem; and that a poet's last poem should be his best, is his bighest praise. But, however, he may duly and honourably rank with his living rivals,» etc. etc. etc.

Among various Addenda for this pamphlet, sent at different times to Mr Murray, I find the following curious passages. « It is worthy of remark that, after all this outcry

« ПредишнаНапред »