Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/571

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

was Sunday, April 14, and it is to be noted that the Ode from the French ("We do not curse thee, Waterloo") had been published in the Morning Chronicle on March 15, and that on the preceding Sunday, April 7, the brilliant but unpatriotic apostrophe to the Star of the Legion of Honour had appeared in the Examiner. "We notice it [this strain of his Lordship's harp]," writes the editor, "because we think it would not be doing justice to the merits of such political tenets, if they were not coupled with their corresponding practice in regard to moral and domestic obligations. There is generally a due proportion kept in 'the music of men's lives.' ... Of many of the facts of this distressing case we are not ignorant; but God knows they are not for a newspaper. Fortunately they fall within very general knowledge, in London at least; if they had not they would never have found their way to us. But there is a respect due to certain wrongs and sufferings that would be outraged by uncovering them." It was all very mysterious, very terrible; but what wonder that the laureate of the ex-emperor, the contemner of the Bourbons, the pænist of the "star of the brave," "the rainbow of the free," should make good his political heresy by personal depravity—by unmanly vice, unmanly whining, unmanly vituperation?

Wordsworth, to whom Scott forwarded the Champion of April 14, "outdid" the journalist in virtuous fury: "Let me say only one word of Lord B. The man is insane. The verses on his private affairs excite in me less indignation than pity. The latter copy is the Billingsgate of Bedlam.... You yourself seem to labour under some delusion as to the merits of Lord B.'s poetry, and treat the wretched verses, the Fare Well, with far too much respect. They are disgusting in sentiment, and in execution contemptible. 'Though my many faults deface me,' etc. Can worse doggerel than such a stanza be written? One verse is commendable: 'All my madness none can know.'" The criticism, as criticism, confutes itself, and is worth quoting solely because it displays the feeling of a sane and honourable man towards a member of the "opposition," who had tripped and fallen, and now lay within reach of his lash (see Life of William Wordsworth, 1889, ii. 267, etc.).