« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Let this fifth canto meet with due applause,
The sixth shall have a touch of the sublime; Meanwhile, as Homer sometimes sleeps, perhaps You'll pardon to my muse a few short
omission to be replaced. I have read over the poem carefully, and I tell you, it is poetry. The little envious knot of parson-poets may say what they please: time will show that I am not, in this instance, mistaken.”]
(1) Blackwood says, in No. LXV., for June,1822, “These three Cantos (III. IV. V.) are, like all Byron's poems, and, by the way, like every thing in this world, partly good and partly bad. In the particular descriptions they are not so naughty as their predecessors: indeed, his lordship has been so pretty and well-behaved on the present occasion, that we should not be surprised to hear of the work being detected among the thread.cases, flower-pots, and cheap tracts that litter the drawing-room tables of some of the best regulated families. By those, however, who suspect him of a strange design
“ Against the creed and morals of the land,
And trace it in this poem every line," it will be found as bad as ever. He shows his knowledge of the world too openly; and it is no extenuation of this freedom that he does it playfully. Only infants can be shown naked in company; but his lordship pulls the very robe-de-chambre from both men and women, and goes on with his exposure as smirkingly as a barrister cross-questioning a chamber. maid in a case of crim. con. This, as nobody can approve, we must confess is very bad. Still, it is harsh to ascribe to wicked motives what may be owing to the temptations of circumstances, or the headlong impulse of passion. Even the worst habits should be charitably considered, for they are often the result of the slow but irresistible force of nature, over the artificial manners and discipline of society – the flowing stream that wastes away its embankments. Man towards his fellow man should be at least compassionate; for he can be no judge of the instincts and the im. pulses of action, he can only see effects.
“ Tremble, thou wretch,
(1) “ Ordered Fletcher (at four o'clock this afternoon) to copy out seven or eight apophthegms of Bacon, in which I have detected such blunders as a schoolboy might detect, rather than commit. Such are the sages! What must they be, when such as I can stumble on their mistakes or mis-statements ? I will go to bed, for I find that I grow cynical.” -- B. Diary, Jan. 5. 1821.
This was not said by Antigonus, but by a Spartan, previously to the battle of Thermopylæ.
This happened under Augustus Cæsar, and not during the reign of Adrian,
158. Antigonus, when it was told him that the enemy had such volleys of arrows, that they did hide the sun, said, That falls out well, for it is hot weather, and so we shall fight in the shade,
162. There was a philosopher that disputed with Adrian the Emperor, and did it but weakly. One of his friends that stood by, afterwards said unto him, Methinks you were not like yourself last day, in argument with the Emperor : I could have answered better myself. Why, said the philosopher, would you have me contend with him that commands thirty legions ?
164. There was one that found a great mass of money digged under ground in his grandfather's house, and being somewhat doubtful of the case, signified it to the emperor that he had found such treasure. The emperor made a rescript thus : Use it. He writ back again, that the sum was greater than his state or condition could use. The emperor writ a new rescript, thus : Abuse it.
This happened to the father of Herodes Atticus, and the answer was made by the emperor Nerva, who deserved that his name should have been stated by the “greatestwisest - meanest of mankind.” (1)
178. One of the seven was wont to say, that laws were like cobwebs : where the small flies were caught, and the great brake through.
This was said by Anacharsis the Scythian, and not by a Greek.
209. An orator of Athens said to Demosthenes, The Athenians will kill you if they wax mad. Demosthenes replied, And they will kill you, if they be in good sense.
This was not said by Demosthenes, but to Demosthenes by Phocion.
(1) [“ If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind.” — Pope.]
221. There was a philosopher about Tiberius that, looking into the nature of Caius, said of him, That he was mire mingled with blood.
This was not said of Caius (Cali. gula, I presume, is intended by Caius), but of Tiberius himself.
97. There was a king of Hungary This reply was not made by a took a bishop in battle, and kept King of Hungary, but sent by him prisoner; whereupon the pope Richard the first, Cæur de Lion, of writ a monitory to him, for that he England to the Pope, with the had broken the privilege of holy breastplate of the bishop of Beauchurch and taken his son : the king vais. sent an embassage to him, and sent withal the armour wherein the bishop was taken, and this only in writing – Vide num hæc sit vestis filii tui? Know now whether this be thy son's coat?
This did not happen to Demetrius, but to Philip King of Macedon.
267. Demetrius, king of Macedon, had a petition offered him divers times by an old woman, and answered he had no leisure; whereupon the woman said aloud, Why then give over to be king.
Having stated that Bacon was frequently incorrect in his citations from history, I have thought it necessary in what regards so great a name (however trifling), to support the assertion by such facts as more immediately occur to me. They are but trifles, and yet for such trifles a schoolboy would be whipped (if still in the fourth form); and Voltaire for half a dozen similar errors has been treated as a superficial writer, notwithstand. ing the testimony of the learned Warton :-“ Voltaire, a writer of much deeper research than is imagined, and the first who has displayed the liter. ature and customs of the dark ages with any degree of penetration and comprehension.” (1) For another distinguished testimony to Voltaire's merits in literary research, see also Lord Holland's excellent Account of the Life and Writings of Lope de Vega, vol. i. p. 215. edition of 1817. (2)
(1) Dissertation I.
(2) [Till Voltaire appeared, there was no nation more ignorant of its neighbours' literature than the French. He first exposed, and then corrected, this neglect in his countrymen. There is no writer to whom the authors of other nations, especially of England, are so indebted for the extension of their fame in France, and, through France, in Europe. There
Voltaire has even been termed " a shallow fellow," by some of the same school who called Dryden's Ode“ a drunken song;” – a school (as it is called, I presume, from their education being still incomplete) the whole of whose filthy trash of Epics, Excursions, &c. &c. &c. is not worth the two words in Zaïre, “ Vous pleurez,” (1) or a single speech of Tancred :-a school, the apostate lives of whose renegadoes, with their tea-drinking neutrality of morals, and their convenient treachery in politics — in the record of their accumulated pretences to virtue can produce no actions (were all their good deeds drawn up in array) to equal or approach the sole defence of the family of Calas, by that great and unequalled genius the universal Voltaire.
I have ventured to remark on these little inaccuracies of " the greatest genius that England or perhaps any other country ever produced,” (2) merely to show our national injustice in condemning generally, the greatest genius of France for such inadvertencies as these, of which the highest of England has been no less guilty. Query, was Bacon a greater intellect than Newton ?
CAMPBELL. (3) Being in the humour of criticism, I shall proceed, after having ventured upon the slips of Bacon, to touch upon one or two as trifling in the edition is no critic who has employed more time, wit, ingenuity, and diligence in promoting the literary intercourse between country and country, and in celebrating in one language the triumphs of another. Yet, by a strange fatality, he is constantly represented as the enemy of all literature but his own; and Spaniards, Englishmen, and Italians vie with each other in inveighing against his occasional exaggeration of faulty passages; the authors of which, till he pointed out their beauties, were hardly known beyond the country in which their language was spoken. Those who feel such indignation at his misrepresentations and oversights, would find it difficult to produce a critic in any modern language, who, in speaking of foreign literature, is better informed or more candid than Voltaire; and they certainly never would be able to discover one, who to those qualities unites so much sagacity and liveliness. His enemies would fain persuade us that such exuberance of wit implies a want of information; but they only succeed in showing that a want of wit by no means implies an exuberance of information. - LORD HOLLAND.] (1) -" Il est trop vrai que l'honneur me l'ordonne,
Que je vous adorai, que je vous abandonne,
Zaïre, acte iv, sc. ii. (2) Pope, in Spence's Anecdotes, p. 158. Malone's edition,
(3) [“ Read Campbell's Poets. Corrected Tom's slips of the pen. A good work, though - style affected - but his defence of Pope is glorious. To be sure, it is his own cause too, - but no matter, it is very good, and does him great credit,” — B. Diary, Jan. 10. 1821.]