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Martin the regicide, all shuffled together in his writing-desk. One of his consolations appears to be a Latin note from a work of a Mr. Landor, the author of " Gebir,” whose friendship for Robert Southey will, it seems, “ be an honour to him when the ephemeral disputes and ephemeral reputations of the day are forgotten.” I for one neither envy him “ the friendship,” nor the glory in reversion which is to accrue from it, like Mr. Thelusson's fortune in the third and fourth generation. This friendship will probably be as memorable as his own epics, which (as I quoted to him ten or twelve years ago in “ English Bards") Porson said “would be remembered when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, and not till then.” For the present, I leave him.
MR. SOUTHEY'S REPLY.
SIR,--Having seen in the newspapers a note relating to myself, extracted from a recent publication of Lord Byron's, I request permission to reply through the medium of your Journal.
I come at once to his Lordship’s charge against me, blowing away the abuse with which it is frothed, and evaporating a strong acid in which it is suspended. The residuum then appears to be, that “ Mr. Southey, on his return from Switzerland (in 1817), scattered abroad calumnies, knowing them to be such, against Lord Byron and others.” To this. I reply with a direct and positive denial. .
If I had been told in that country that Lord Byron had turned Turk, or Monk of La Trappe -that he had furnished a haram, or endowed an hospital, I might have thought the account, whichever it had been, possible, and repeated it accordingly; passing it, as it had been taken, in the small change of conversation, for no more than what it was worth. In this manner: I might have spoken of him, as of Baron Gerambe, the Green Man, the Indian Jugglers, or any other figurante of the time being. There was no reason for any particular delicacy on my part in speaking of his Lordship; and, indeed, I should have thought any thing which might be reported of him, would have injured his character as little as the story which so greatly annoyed Lord Keeper Guildford, that he had ridden a rhinoceros. He may ride a rhinoceros : and though every body would stare, no one would wonder. But making no inquiry concerning him when I was abroad, because I felt no curiosity, I heard nothing, and had nothing to repeat. When I spoke of wonders to my friends and acquaintance on my return, it was of the flying-tree at Alpuacht, and the eleven thousand virgins at Cologne-not of Lord Byron. I sought for no staler subject than St. Ursula.
Once, and only once, in connexion with Switzerland, I have alluded to his Lordship; and as the
passage was curtailed in the press, I take this opportunity of restoring it." In the Quarterly Review, speaking incidentally of the Jungfrau, I said, “it was the scene where Lord Byron's Manfred met the devil and bullied him-though the devil must have won his cause before any tribunal in this world, or the next, if he had not pleaded more feebly for himself, than his advocate, in a cause of canonization, ever pleaded for him.”
With regard to the “ others,” whom his Lordship accuses me of calumniating, I suppose he alludes to a party of his friends, whose names I found written in the Album at Mont-Auvert, with an avowal of Atheism annexed in Greek, and an indignant comment in the same language underneath it. Those names, with that avowal and the comment, I transcribed in my note-book, and spoke of the circumstance on my return. If I had published it, the gentleman in question would not have thought himself slandered, by having that recorded of him which he has so often recorded of himself.
The many opprobrious appellations which Lord Byron has bestowed upon me, I leave as I find them, with the praises which he has bestowed upon himself.
How easily is a noble spirit discern'd
But I am accustomed to such things; and, so far from irritating me are the enemies who use such
weapons, that, when I hear of their attacks, it is some satisfaction to think they have thus employed the malignity which must have been employed somewhere, and could not have been directed against any person whom it could possibly molest or injure less. The viper, however venomous in purpose, is harmless in effect while it is biting at the file. It is seldom, indeed, that I waste a word, or a thought, upon those who are perpetually assailing me. But abhorring, as I do, the personalities which disgrace our current literature, and averse from controversy as I am, both by principle and inclination, I make no profession of non-resistance. When the offence and the offender are such as to call for the whip and the branding-iron, it has been both seen and felt that I can inflict them.
Lord Byron's present exacerbation is evidently produced by an infliction of this kind--not by hearsay reports of my conversation four years ago, transmitted him from England. The cause may be found in certain remarks upon the Satanic School of poetry, contained in my preface to the Vision of Judgment. Well would it be for Lord Byron if he could look back upon any of his writings with as much satisfaction as I shall always do upon what is there said of that flagitious school. Many persons, and parents especially, have expressed their gratitude to me for having applied the branding-iron where it was so richly deserved. The Edinburgh Reviewer, indeed, with that honourable feeling by
which his criticisms are so peculiarly distinguished, suppressing the remarks themselves, has imputed them wholly to envy on my part. I give him, in this instance, full credit for sincerity : I believe he was equally incapable of comprehending a worthier motive, or of inventing a worse; and as I have never condescended to expose, in any instance, his pitiful malevolence, I thank him for having in this stript it bare himself, and exhibited it in its bald, naked, and undisguised deformity.
Lord Byron, like his encomiast, has not ventured to bring the matter of those animadversions into view. He conceals the fact, that they are directed against the authors of blasphemous and lascivious books; against men who, not content with indulging their own vices, labour to make others the slaves of sensuality like themselves—against public panders, who, mingling impiety with lewdness, seek at once to destroy the cement of social order, and to carry profanation and pollution into private families, and into the hearts of individuals.
His Lordship has thought it not unbecoming in him to call me a scribbler of all work. Let the word scribbler pass; it is not an appellation which will stick, like that of the Satanic School. But if a scribbler, how am I one of all work? I will tell Lord Byron what I have not scribbled-what kind of work I have not done. I have never published libels upon my friends and acquaintance, expressed my sorrow for those libels, and called them in dur