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in the family of book-losers. I may affirm, upon a moderate calcula-
"Come, my best friends, my books, and lead me on:
I own I borrow books with as much facility as I lend. I cannot see a work that interests me on another person's shelf, without a wish to carry it off: but, I repeat, that I have been much more sinned against than sinning in the article of non-return; and am scrupulous in the article of intention. I never had a felonious intent upon a book but once; and then I shall only say, it was under circumstances so peculiar, that I cannot but look upon the conscience that induced me to restore it, as having sacrificed the spirit of its very self to the letter; and I have a grudge against it accordingly. Some people are unwilling to lend their books. I have a special grudge against them, particularly those who accompany ther unwillingness with uneasy professions to the contrary, and smiles like Sir Fretful Plagiary. The friend who helped to spoil my notions of property, or rather to make them too good for the world" as it goes," taught me also to undervalue my squeamishness -in choosing to avail myself of the books of these gentlemen. He showed -me how it was doing good to all parties to put an ordinary face on the matter; though I know his own blushed not a little sometimes in doing it, even when the good to be done was for another. (Dear S. in all thy actions, small as well as great, how sure was the beauty of thy spirit to break forth!) I feel in truth, that even when anger inclines me to exercise this privilege of philosophy, it is more out of revenge than contempt. I fear that in allowing myself to borrow books, I sometimes make extremes meet in a very sinful manner, and do it out of a refined revenge. It is like eating a miser's beef at him.
I yield to none in my love of bookstall urbanities. I have spent as happy moments over the stalls (till the woman looked out) as any literary apprentice boy who ought to be moving onwards. But I confess my weakness in liking to see some of my favourite purchases neatly
bound. The books I like to have about me most are Spenser, Chaucer, the minor poems of Milton, the Arabian Nights, Theocritus, Plato's Republic, and such old good-natured speculations as Plutarch's Morals. For most of these I love a plain good old binding, never mind how old, provided it wears well; but my Arabian Nights may be bound in as fine and flowery a style as possible, and I should like an engraving to every dozen pages. Book-prints of all sorts, bad and good, take with me as much as when I was a child: and I think some books, such as Prior's Poems, ought always to have portraits of the authors. Prior's airy face with his cap on, is like having his company. From early association, no edition of Milton pleases me so much, as that in which there are pictures of the Devil with brute ears, dressed like a Roman General: nor of Bunyan, as the one containing the print of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, with the Devil whispering in Christian's ear, old Pope sitting by the way side, and
With the Pilgrims suffering there."
I delight in the recollection of the puzzle I used to have with the frontispiece of the Tale of a Tub, of my real horror at the sight of that crawling old man representing Avarice, at the beginning of Enfield's Speaker, the Looking Glass, or some such book; and even of the careless school-boy hats, and the prim stomachers and cottage bonnets, of such golden-age antiquities as the Village School. The oldest and most worn-out wood cut, representing King Pepin, Goody Two Shoes, or the grim Soldan, sitting with three staring blots for his eyes and; mouth, his sceptre in one hand, and his other five fingers raised and spread in admiration at the feats of the Gallant London Prentice, cannot raise in me a feeling of ingratitude or disrespect. Cooke's edition of the British Poets and Novelists came out while I was at school: for which reason I never could put up with Suttaby's or Walker's publications, except in the case of such works as the Fairy Tales, which Mr. Cooke did not publish. Besides they are too cramped, thick, and mercenary; and the pictures are all frontispieces. They do not come in at the proper places. It is like having one's pie before dinner. Cooke realized the old woman's beau ideal of a prayer book," A little book, with a great deal of matter, and a large type:"-for the type was really large for so small a volume. Shall I ever forget his Collins and his Gray, books at once so superbly ornamented and so inconceivably cheap? Sixpence could procure much before; but never could it pro-: cure so much as then, or was at once so much respected, and so little cared for. His artist Kirk was the best artist, except Stothard, that ever, designed for periodical works; and I will venture to add (if his name rightly announces his country) the best artist Scotland ever produced, except Wilkie: but he unfortunately had not enough of his country in him to keep him from dying young. His designs for Milton and the Arabian Nights, his female extricated from the water in the Tales of the Genii, and his old hag issuing out of the chest of the Merchant Abadah in the same book, are before me now as vividly as they were then. He possessed elegance and the sense of the beauty in no ordinary degree; though they sometimes played a trick or so of foppery. I shall never forget the gratitude with which. I received an odd number of Akenside, value sixpence, one of the set of that poet, which a boarder distributed among three or four of us," with his mother's compliments." The present might have been more lavish; but I hardly
thought of that. I remember my number. It was the one an which
* I will mention, however, in this place, that an advantage of a very cunning and vindictive nature was taken of Mr. Shelley's known regard for the Bible, to represent him as having one with him at the time he was drowned. Nothing was more probable; and it is true, that he had a book in his pocket, the remains of which, at the request of the author of this article, were buried with him: but it was the volume of Mr. Keats's poems, containing Hyperion, of which he was a great admirer. He borrowed it of me when he went away, and knowing how I valued it also, said that he would not let it quit him till he saw me again.
[To be concluded next week].
REVIEW OF BOOKS.
Don Juan. Cantos VI. VII. VIII.
WE scarcely know of any thing more ludicrous, although of many more amusing, than a contemplation of the manner in which the vagaries of genius tend to the production of grave and fatiguing common
places from a multitude of persons who can neither understand the eccentricity, nor appreciate the source of it. It is unnecessary to remark, that if the Noble Author of Don Juan could possibly have been overwhelmed by this sort of matter, he would by this time have been buried under a heap which, to borrow the hyperbole of the brother of Ophelia, might
"O'ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
There is happily, however, no extinguishment of soul, no annihilation of intellect, to be effected by this process at the present time of day, so that honest dulness may be allowed its unavoidable portion of expletive with great complacency. Nay, if uttered with sincerity, and on a supposition, as Figaro says, that the good people "think that they are thinking," their platitudes are to be endured, like a passing cloud, at which, although it afflicts us with the vapours, it is useless to repine. We are not to expect the bat to track the flash which precedes a thunderclap, or the mole to adjust and ascertain the polarity of light.
But if the numerous class of innocent and well intentioned venters of no-meaning are to be thus tolerated, we are not aware of the existence of any species of literary chivalry, which demands an equal degree of consideration for the rancour of disappointed venality-the affected horror of alarmed and becloaked hypocrisy-the yell of low political hostility, and the artificial hiss of the whole serpentine train of corruption-complicated monsters," who in the variety and nature of their powers, and motives of annoyance, may be figuratively compared to their prototypes in Pandemonium:—
Scorpion, and Asp, and Amphisbæna dire,
Need we say, that nearly all those who affect to sound the tocsin upon every sally of imagination by Lord Byron, may be classed under one or other of the foregoing divisions? The venality that would embrace the profits, while it avoided the responsibility, is known to all men; -the hypocrisy and cant, under the name of equity, that would undermine property, and suffer legitimate fraud to acquire an unprincipled and dangerous controul over the press, have been rendered equally evident. As to low political hostility, is it possible to consider any thing more low, contemptible, abject, rancorous, crawling-and, for the honour of the country, we hope to add silly-than the wretched attack of the Constitutional Society? And as to the anonymous creatures of venom, they abound in every dirty pool, which stagnates and breeds things of slime, under the sun of a corruptive influence. What is the crime of Lord Byron with this crew-the boldness of his occasional scepticism?—Not a jot. His treatment of the "good old King?"-Pish! the mere adoption of a rallying point, to furnish a new experiment upon the card-purses of old women. Mr. Charles Murray's bills run high, and the funds of the Society low. Is it a dangerous portion of license and freedom in Don Juan?-How edifying this objection, considering that the John Bull is under the especial patronage and protection of the Church! What then is the real offence of his Lordship? How ra pidly told! HE, a nobleman, has burst the enthralment of rank and station; nay more, the stronger ligatures of an aristocratical bias, and declared for the Many against the Few. His powerful spirit has embraced the cause of the politically oppressed, and aided to expose and to scourge that great piece of general social treason, the Holy Al
liance. This it is, which has subjected Lord Byron to the enmity and
Having eased our mind by a little general appreciation of the common-place, the cant, and the malignity against Lord Byron, the source of which is so obvious; and protesting against any sort of intention of interfering with the just rights of sound and honest criticism,―to which, whether springing out of differences of taste, feeling, or sincere opinion, he is of course as amenable as the meanest shrub of Parnassus,—we drop at once to a consideration of that poem in particular, the continuation of which has led to the present article.
Of the general characteristics of Don Juan, it would now be almost impertinent to dilate. We shall therefore spare ourselves all expatiation upon its felicitous combination of description, humour, pathos, and keen and pervading satlre; the last of which, after all, we apprehend is what disturbs the moral prudery of the well-dressed mob more than those amatory scenes and glowing descriptions to which the manifestation of the said disturbance is so greatly attributed. The first canto, for instance-Are certain people quite so alarmed at the loves of Don Juan and Donna Julia, as at certain tangential strokes in the delineation of the character of the hero's grave and prudential mother, and transient glances at the infirmities and peccadilloes of good sort of people? The same story told in another manner, they would possibly regard as a moral tale; but this air riant, and disturbance of composed masks and orderly decencies, are unbearable. Circumspection avails nothing in this case, and (contra bonos mores) the "simulars of virtue" are in as much danger as the vicious-a frightful and comprehensive calamity. To be sure, we have heard the objection urged very speciously. We do not like to be eternally put upon the weak or wicked points of our nature; and in poetry particularly, prefer more gentle portraiture," Alice Fell," and the "Thoughts too deep for tears." Without deciding whether some of the latter may not be found even in the stanzas of Don Juan, we utterly protest against this very convenient species of interdiction, which, we maintain, would foster every species of rancorous weed, by the mere absence of annoyance. It would require more time and space than the nature of this publication will allow, to enter into a comparison of the advantages to be derived from the exaltation of conspicuous virtue and the exposure of latent vice; but if both are good, Lord Byron is vindicated; and every body must allow that the latter is the most fruitful field. Sound divines (not being Court Chaplains) take both ways, we believe; an observation that drops from us in the pure spirit of orthodoxy. Again: Lord Byron will take up