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Quarterly Review" have been ascribed to me (those on “ Keates's Poems," for example) which I have heartily condemned, both for their spirit and manner. But, for the one in question, its composition would be creditable to the most distinguished writer; nor is there any thing either in the opinions expressed, or in the manner of expressing them, which a man of just and honorable principles would have hesitated to advance. I would not have written that part of it which alludes to Mr. Shelley, because, having met him on familiar terms, and parted with him in kindness, a feeling of which Lord Byron had no conception would have withheld me from animadverting in that manner upon his conduct. In other respects, the paper contains nothing that I would not have avowed if I had written, or subscribed, as entirely assenting to, and approving, it.
• It is not true that Shelley ever inquired of me whether I was the author of that paper, which, purporting, as it did, to be written by an Etonian of his own standing, he very well kuew I was not. But in this part of Lord Byron's statement there may be some mistake, mingled with a great deal of malignant falsehood. Mr. Shelley addressed a letter to me from Pisa, asking if I were the author of a criticism in the “Quarterly Review" upon his “ Revolt of Islam;" not exactly in Lord Byron's plıcase, taxing me with it, for he declared his own belief that I was not; but added, that he was induced to ask the question by the positive declaration of some friends in Eugland that the article was mine. Denying, in my reply, that either he or any other person was entitled to propose such a question upon such grounds, I nevertheless assured him that I had not written the paper, and that I had never, in any of my writings, alluded to him in any way.
Now for the assertion that I had the audacity to admit having treasured up some of Shelley's opinions, when he resided at Keswick, and having made notes of them at the time. What truth is mixed up with the slander of this statement I shall immediately explain; premising only, that as the opinion there implied, concerning the practice of noting down familiar conversation, is not applicable to me, I transfer it to Captain Medwin, for his own especial use.
• Mr. Shelley .having, in the letter alluded to, thought proper to make some remarks upon my opinions, I took occasiou, in reply, lo comment upon his, and to ask him (as the tree is known by its fruits) whether he had found them conducive to his own happiness, and the happiness of those with whom he had been most nearly connected.
This produced a second letter from him, written in a tone partly of justification, partly of attack. I replied to this also—not by any such absurd admission as Lord Byron has stated, but by recapitulating to him, as a practical illustration of his principles, the leading circumstances of bis own life, from the commencement of his career at University College. The earlier facts I stated upon his own authority, as I had heard them from bis own lips : the latter were of public notoriety. There the correspondence ended. On his part it had been conducted with the courtesy which was natural to him-on mine, in the spirit of one who was earnestly admonishing a fellow-creature.
• This is the correspondence upon which Lord Byron's misrepresentation has been constructed. It is all that ever passed between us, except a note from Shelley, some years before, accompanying a copy of his "Alastor," and one of mine in acknowledgment of it. I have preserved bis letter, together with copies of my own; and, if I had as little consideration for the feelings of the living as Captain Medwin has displayed, it is not any tenderness towards the dead* that would withhold me now from publishing them.
• It is not likely that Shelley should have communicated my part of this correspondence to Lord Byron, even if he did his own. Bearing testimony, as his heart did, to the truth of my statements in every point, and impossible as it was to escape from the conclusion which was there brought home, I do not think he would have dared produce it. How much, or how little, of the truth was known to his lordship, or with which of the party at Pisa the insolent and calumnious misrepresentation conveyed in his lordship's words originated, is of little consequence.
• In the preface to his “ Monody on Keates," Shelley, as I have been iaformed, asserts that I was the author of the criticism in the “ Quarterly Review” upon that young man's poems, and that his death was occasioned by it. There was a degree of meanness in this, (especially considering the temper and tenor of vur correspondence,) which I was not then prepared to expect from Shelley; for, that he believed me to be the author of that paper, I certainly do not believe. He was once, for a short time, my neighbour. I met him upon terms, not of friendship, indeed, but certainly of mutual good will. I admired his talents; thought that he would outgrow his errors (perilous as they were); and trusted that, mean time, a kind and generous heart would resist the effect of fatal opinions, which he had taken up in ignorance and boyhood. Herein I was mistaken ; but, when I ceased to regard him with hope, he became to me an object for sorrow and awful commiseration, not of any injurious or unkind feeling; and, when I expressed myself with just severity concerning him, it was in direct communication to himself.'
• The charge of scattering dark and devilish insinuations is one which, if Lord Byrou were living, I would throw back in his teeth. Me he had assailed without the slightest provocation, and with that unmanliness, too, which was peculiar to him; and in this course he might have gone on without giving me the slightest uneasiness, or calling forth one animadversion in reply. When I came forward to attack bis lordship, it was upon public, not upon private, grounds. He is pleased, however, to suppose that he had “mortally offended” Mr. Wordsworth and myself many years ago, by a letter which he had written to the Ettrick Shepherd. “ Certain it is," he says,
" that I did not spare the Lakists in it; and he told me he could not resist the temptation, and had shown it to the fraternity. It was too tempting; and, as I could never keep a secret of ny own (as you know), much less that of other people, I could not blame him. I remember saying, among other things, that the Lake Poets were such fools as not to fish in their own waters. But this was the least offensive part of the epistle." No such epistle was ever shown either to Mr. Wordsworth or to me; but I remember and this passage brings it to my recollection) to have heard that Lord Byron had spoken of us, in a letter to Hogg, with some contempt, as fellows who could neither vie with him fur skill in angling nor for prowess in swimming. Nothing more than this came to my hearing; and I must have been more sensitive than his lordship himself could I have been offended by it. Lord Byron must have known that I had the flocci of his eulogium to balance the nauci of his scoru; and that the one would have nihili-pili-fied the other, even if I had not well understood the worthlessness of both.
• It was because Lord Byron had brought a stigma upon English literature that I accused him; because he had perverted great talents to the worst purposes ; because he had set up for pander-general to the youth of Great Britain as long as his writings should endure; because he had committed a high crime and misdemeanour against society, by sending forth a work, in which mockery was mingled with horrors, filth with impiety, profligacy with seditiou and slander. For these offences I came forward to arraign him. The accusation was not made darkly-it was not insinuated, nor was it advanced under the cover of a review. I attacked bim openly in my own name; and only not by his, because he had not then publicly avowed the flagitious production, by which he will be remembered for lasting infamy. He replied in a manner altogether worthy of himself and his cause. Contention with a generous and honorable opponent leads naturally to esteem, and probably to friendship; but, next to such an antagonist, an enemy like Lord Byron is to be desired; one who, by his conduct in the contest, divests himself of every claim to respect; one whose baseness is such as to sanctify the vindictive feeling that it provokes, and upon whom the act of taking vengeance is that of administering justice. I answered him as he deserved to be answered; and the etfect which that answer produced upon his lordship has been described by his faithful chronicler, Captain Medwin. This is the real history of what the purveyors of scandal for the public are pleased sometimes to announce in their advertisements as “ Byrou’s controversy with Southey." What there was dark and devilish in it belongs to his lordship; and, had I been compelled to resume it during his life, he who played the monster in literature, and aimed his blows at women, should have been treated accordingly. “The Republican Trio," says Lord Byron, " when they began to publish in common, were to have had a cominunity of all things like the ancient Britons—to have lived in a state of nature like savages—and peopled some island of the blest with children in common, like - A very pretty Arcadian notion !" I may be excused for wishing that Lord Byron had published this himself; but, though he is responsible for the atrocious falsehood, he is not for its posthumous publication. I shall only observe, therefore, that the slander is as worthy of his lordship as the scheme itself would have beeu; nor would I have condescended to notice it even thus, were it not to show how little this calumniator knew concerning the objects of bis uneasy and restless hatred. Mr. Wordsworth and I were strangers to each other, even by name, when he represents us as engaged in a Satanic confederacy; and we never published any thing in
• Here I dismiss the subject. It might have been thought that Lord Byron had attained the last degree of disgrace when his head was set up for a sign at one of those preparatory schools for the brothel and the gallows, where obscenity, sedition, and blasphemy, are retailed in drams for the vulgar. There remained one further shame; there remained this exposure of his private conversations, which has compelled his lordship’s friends, in their own defence, to compare his oral declarations with his written words, and thereby demonstrate that he was as regardless of truth as he was incapable of sustaining those feelings suited to his birth, station, and high endowments, which sometimes came across his better mind. • Keswick, Dec. 8, 1824.'
• ROBEKT SOUTHEY.
We now return to the tragedy of Sardanapalus,' the next in order to · Marino Faliero,' froin which we have been compelled to digress.
It is founded upon the relations of Diodorus Siculus, and other historians, of the death of Sardanapalus, the last of the Assyrian kings.
The commencement of the drama is placed at the time when Beleses, high-priest of Baal and governor of Babylonia, and Arbaces, governor of Media, have matured their conspiracy for seizing on the palace, and erecting a new dynasty on the ruins of the line of Niinrod. The king's brother-in-law, the brave and virtuous Salamenes, is introduced lamenting over his sovereign's blindness and degradation, and at the same time expressing his conviction that, under that sloth and folly, qualities are conccaled which might have made him, and yet may make him, safe and illustrious.
He is interrupted by the king, who enters effeminately dressed, attended by a train of women and young slaves, whom he dismisses, with the exception of Myrrha, a Greek girl, the King's favorite, till the hour of a banquet appointed in a summer-house on the Euphrates.* Myrrha, loo, retires abashed at the stern reprooss of Salamenes, who proceeds to school his monarch, in language full of weight and gravity, for his sloth and neglect of his own renown; and is answered by Sardanapalus, sometimes with the irritability of one little used to advice; sometimes in a strain of witty sophistry expressive of his contempt for the popular voice, which only clamoured because his reign was loo peaceful; and, at length, when he has worked bimself by degrees into indignation against his nation's ingratitude, with the vaunt that, if roused, he had that in him which would make them regret the days of his inoffensive luxury.
Salamenes, who appears (by what meaus is not explained) to bave procured intelligence of the designs of the conspirators, at length departs (having obtained the royal signet and sanction to act as he thinks proper) to arrest Arbaces and Beleses.
We hardly know why Lord Byron, who has not in other respects showu z slavish deference to Diodorus Sicu!us, should thus follow him in the manifest geographical blunder of placing Nineveh on the Euphrates instead of the Tigris, in opposition not only to the uniform tradition of the east, but to the express assertions of Herodotus, Pliny, and Ptolen.y.