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TRIUMPH OVER REVIEWERS.
publication long since consigned to oblivion) sought to revenge himself on its master, by attacking his works. The author and the publication Byron deemed too contemptible for any thing but just to mention the cause of the hostility. Determined not to waste his strength on such despicable foes, "he commenced with the Edinburgh Reviewers and the whole host of literati, and in less than a year appeared his Epistle to the Scotch Reviewers and English Bards. The public received it with avidity, and hailed the triumph of the undaunted bard over such a host of enemies. The confusion that ensued was like that occasioned by a cat bouncing in among an assembly of mice; all scampered to their holes and places of refuge, glad to escape with life and limb. Byron felt ashamed of so easy a triumph over such pusillanimous foes, and the magnanimous victor endeavoured to recal the work; but Galignani of Paris had got hold of it, and thought it too good a thing to be lost. It was reprinted, and still remains a lasting memento of Byron's triumph, and of the defeat of his arrogant assailants.
In this affair, no reasonable man could blame . Byron for any thing but for an indiscriminate
attack on unoffending as well as offending persons; but when a man is surrounded and hustled by a mob, he will make use of his legs and arms to extricate himself, without considering whom
REVIEWS AS THEY ARE,
he may annoy: the only question is to get himself clear. The public was pleased to see the reviewers receive a lash from their own whips, and writhe under the tortures they had so often and so wantonly inflicted on others. Byron had got scent that there were but two ways to proceed with those gentry; to throw a sop to the tripleheaded Cerberus that guarded the entrance to their literary pandæmonium, or to fight them manfully at their own weapons, and beat them off their own dunghills. The former he disdained ;- the latter he determined upon. He chuckled at hearing that an author might have his own critique on his own work inserted by these impartial judges of literature, on enclosing them a five or a ten pound note; and that there was no such thing as an independent review. He was indignant at hearing that works were decried without the reviewer having seen more than the title-page, the publisher's or author's name being deemed sufficient for the condemnation, without any reference whatever to the demerits of the performance ; and that any man, who had a spite against an author, might gratify his malice by taking one of these hireling reviewers into his pay; that Kirke White and Keats, and numberless other unfortunate authors, had fallen victims to the wounds inflicted by wanton assassins or hired bravos. When Byron heard all these things, he considered and treated reviewers according to
AND AS THEY OUGHT TO BE,
their merits ; his infliction was strictly justifiable, but it was too indiscriminate : the shot glanced, and struck some harmless persons. Impartial reviews are undoubtedly grand desiderata in literature; but, to be strictly so, they should be under the control of men of honour and feeling, as well as talents; they would then be what they ought to be: conducted as they are at present, they are any thing but what they profess to be.
If this work (the satire) made the author some enemies, it procured him a host of friends. If Bowles, Southey, &c. &c. entertained an implacable spirit of hostility, Jeffrey, Scott, and Moore, soon tendered him the hand of friendship. * The public was unanimously on the side of Byron, and the ensuing publications of “ Childe Harold,” the “ Giaour," the “ Bride of Abydos," the “ Corsair," and “Lara," raised his literary fame above the reach of malignity. Jeffrey, who was responsible for every article contained in the Edinburgh Review, made his peace, by declaring that he was not the author of the critique on the “ Hours of Idleness,"and that he would give up the real name to Byron, if ever he should come to Edinburgh. Byron, from many internal circumstances, concluded it to have been the work of a certain lawyer, to whom he had given some offence in speaking of a lady of his acquaintance. This opinion was confirmed by some aspersions which he threw out against Byron, when his unfortunate matrimonial business came
before the Court of Chancery ; and still more so, by the same person's repeating his unofficial and gratuitous malice some time afterwards, when he came into the neighbourhood of Byron's residence at Coppet. But as this was merely surmise, Byron refrained from mentioning the name. Moore had, perhaps, the greatest reason of any to be displeased, as, besides his being represented as a writer of lewd poems, his duel with Jeffrey is ridiculed, and he was so much hurt at the mention of the leadless pistols, that he actually wrote a challenge to Byron, who was then abroad, and delivered it to one of his friends (Mr. Hanson, we believe). The letter was not forwarded, as Byron's return was expected; and on his arrival, it was put into Moore's hand unopened. Moore's anger had by that time subsided, and he was glad that Byron had not seen the contents, as he wished for his esteem. His hand was tendered and accepted, and the reconciliation was the commencement of a friendship which suffered no diminution through life.
Byron now again sailed prosperously through the sea of life, until his unhappy matrimonial differences again gave his enemies the opportunity of renewing their clamour against him, and numbers of unprejudiced persons, and even several of his most intimate friends, condemned his conduct in severe terms. He was stigmatized as the greatest debauchee and reprobate on earth; and dis
CLAMOUR AGAINST BYRON.
daining to defend himself at the expense of one to whom he was bound by the most endearing ties, he again left England an involuntary exile, as he himself said, to fly from the pelting of the pitiless storm.'
Still, however, his literary fame suffered little or no diminution, as he continued to receive invitations from all quarters, even from Parisian booksellers, to favour them with his publications. The stream of success flowed incessantly, until • Cain' once more drew all his enemies upon him, who, finding him invulnerable with their wits, attached him on the score of his want of inorality. The judgment of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain sanctioned this clamour; the newspapers copied and adopted it, and Byron, conceiving that these spoke the sentiments of the people of England, thought himself hated by them, and for this reason he fancied that he hated them in return; but he fancied it only—every word, every action of his contradicted him in this point; every thing that broke from him, though involuntarily, bespoke his internal reverence for his native country, the land of his fore-fathers, and it was easy to discern that whatever his tongue might utter against her in his pique, was directly opposite to the sentiments of his heart. . Emboldened by the general outcry, the reviewers once more began to renew their insidious attacks, being afraid of venturing upon direct