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quest of me. You shall have my opinion. But, if you make use of it, at all, make use of it, as my opinion. Call it mine: Give it in my own words. I would have nobody misled in this way. If I puff myself at all, as I have, twice, over my own signature, I choose to do it openly-I choose to do it, like a man.-I do not mean to say that I never did it secretly-because I have, in three or four cases, given myself a bit of a blow-up -though never a downright puff. What I have said of myself, secretly or otherwise, at any time, has not on ly been the truth-but, in every case, it has been bitter enough, I flatter myself, to pass for the truth.-Give my own words, therefore. Let people know that, what you say is my criticism on myself. You may laugh at me-so may everybody else. You may call me crazy-foolish-whatever you please. I will have my own way. I have already spoken of my amiable temper. Why should I care about what people think? I am right, I believe. Believing this, I am quite as comfortable, you know, if wrong, as I should be, if I were right. (See my preface to the BATTLE OF NIAGARA.) "Those who know anything at all of me, know me to be honest, or indifferent honest,' as my friend, Hamlet of Denmark, says; honest, as the world goes. They value what I say of others: why not value what I say of myself? If I be not honest, if my judgment be not sound, my opinion of others can be of no value." If I be honest-if my judgment be sound, my opinion of myself as a matter of curiosity a thing to laugh at-should be of great value. Do I not know my self better than anybody else?-Besides in the whole history of the world, we have not, I verily believe, the true opinion of any one man about himself, or his own works. Wherefore, as a matter of curiosity, such an opinion would be valuable, though the work, or the man, were of no value-the criticism, foolish-the critic, a fool, (I would say ass; but I wish to lay no traps, for those who pronounce boldly.) Cicero, Horace, Gibbon, Rousseau, Richard Cumberland-forty others do you believe that any one of them, ever spoke what he thought of himself-even while pretending so to speak?
"The world-or, more properly
speaking,' the people thereof (I pity them for it; and, some leisure afternoon,' shall take them in hand,)—they have taken up a ridiculous notion, that, for a fellow to say the truth of himself, besides being very dangerous, very foolish, and very affronting, is vanity unspeakable. They will read a criticism about A. B. or the works of A. B., praise it-adopt it-call it very true'-perhaps very severewhen that identical criticism, if they should ever come to know, that it was written by A. B. himself-or by one of his cronies-or by anybody else, with his knowledge-would be made use of immediately to prove the self-conceit of A. B.-his outrageous-unspeakable vanity.-Absurd.-As if the truth were not always the truth, no matter who speaks it. As if truth were not valuable for itself, alone. As if sound criticism were not as good from the mouth of one, as from the mouth of another. Only suppose, now, that, after a time, the most abusive criti cism that ever appeared about Byron, should prove to be the writing of Byron himself. How vain-how foolish he would seem to the eyes of the world!-Verily, verily that same Rochefoucault was right. It is our own vanity, which makes the vanity of others, insupportable.-We should pity the conceited man else; only smile; never be angry with him, if it were not for this, our own conceit.
"In a word, Sir, the question should be, when we hear an opinion-Is this opinion true-sound.-It should never be, By whom was this opinion uttered?
"Let us doubt, if you please, the word of a stranger, whom we do not know to be honest; whose judgment we do not know to be sound, whether he speak of himself, or another-his own works, or another's. Nay-let us watch him yet more closely, when he is talking of himself, than when he is talking of another. That is our duty-that is common prudence-wisdom. But-But-having proved his honesty; having proved his judgment
let us hear what he says, patiently; with good humour, if nothing more, while he is talking upon that subject, which he must understand better than he can possibly understand any other
if not better, than it is possible for anybody else to understand it-namely-his own labours-himself.
"I have, as you may have inferred perhaps I love modesty a very exalted opinion of myself; not so much though, for what I have done, as for what, in my opinion, I have the power to do, if God will spare me a few years longer continue to overlook my follies-and give me fair play among the creatures of this world. I love to talk of myself. So did Cæsar-so did Buonaparte-so does everybody though few have the courage for it. But I shall be brief.
"In the first place, then, I would merely observe, that, in almost everything, which I have written, whether in prose, or verse, are passages-parts -of which any author would have reason, I think, to be proud-if they were his own passages-parts of which any author, I hope, would have the decency, to be ashamed-no matter whose they were-his, or another's. -As for myself, I confess (that) I am heartily ashamed of almost everything (that) I have written-grieved-sore when I consider how much more worthily I might have done it; how much better I could now do it: yet proud-very proud of it, nevertheless, when I consider how few could have done it, so well, in the same little time; without education, aid, or help, of any sort;-under such continual discouragement. With two or three late exceptions, all that I have written, has been dashed off, with a rapidity which has no parallel in the history of litera
"To begin, therefore. 1. CRITICISM, ESSAYS, POETRY, ETC. in the PORTI co. (See WATKINS, p. 193.) The criticism, which I furnished for this work, year after year, was altogether above the common level of such writing. That upon the works of Byron -though too poetical, too fine-got up rather to show myself, than himis the best, beyond all comparison, that I have yet come across. I began my career in the literary world by reviewing others-in a frolic. I had never published anything, but four or five pages of pretty decent poetry; never written a syllable of criticism before-never read, I am sure, half so much as I undertook to write. I began with Byron.-(It was immediately after his Third Canto of Childe Harold appeared.)-I took him up; read him through every page-every line
of all his works: and reviewed all of them, in less than four days. But so little notion had I then of the quantity, or the value of what I had written, that I gave the article away, as I would a letter-and supposed (that) it would all appear in the following number of the PORTICO.-Judge of my surprise, when I found that I had written a small book-which came out, month after month, and excited extraordinary interest over America. I look upon that series of criticism, now, with astonishment. I wonder that I have improved so little. I can write much better now, to be sure; express the same idea, in fifty different ways-each better than I could then have expressed it. But, in truth, I do not perceive that my thoughts are much better now, or much bolder, than they were then.
"These papers excited, as I have said before, great attention. They obtained for me, in fact, an immediate engagement, which enabled me to support myself during my studies for the bar for I had failed as a
merchant' -so called, in America (a sort of wholesale haberdasher); was wretchedly poor; and, of course, with my temper, about as proud, if I can depend upon what I hear, as Lucifer himself. It may be very true, for I had observed, long before my failure, that a poor man-a wretched manhas never any sort of credit for his humility or condescension.-So-I undertook to reserve mine for the day when I should be rich, and happy.It has not yet come; but when it has, I promise you to be as humble, goodnatured, and polite, as the best of them. The lawyers had given me prodigious trouble: So by way of revenge, I became a lawyer, myself.I succeeded-I am satisfied-for the present, I mean.
"The ESSAYS were poor stuff— except one about WAR, Duelling, ETC. (a clever piece of work): and one about FREE AGENCY (written for a club, one very hot afternoon, of summer), which, I say now, after having read volumes and volumes upon the subject, since it was written, though it is badly arranged-not carefully expressed-and was thrown off like a letter-is not only original, but an extraordinary, conclusive, unanswerable demonstration. It embraces all that
can be said on the subject, either way; with little or nothing, I believe, that was ever said before.
"The POETRY, taken together, is poor stuff; but, nevertheless, much above the dead level of magazine poetry, with passages of extraordinary power and beauty.
"2. KEEP COOL. A novel in two volumes; a paltry, contemptible affair: my second offering to the public, my first, in the shape of a book. It was written chiefly for the discouragement of duelling-about which, as I was eternally in hot water, I began to entertain certain very tender, seasonable, talkative scruples of conscience. The hero is insulted, he fights, under what anybody would call a justification-kills the insulter --and is never happy for an hour, afterwards. The idea was good; parts of the book, as they stand, are worth preserving-the whole worth going over with.-Perhaps I may take it up again, some day or other; but I cannot bear to think of it, now. I reviewed myself openly in the preface to this novel as author-a little time before Fadladeen was made use of, in Lalla Rookh-for a similar purpose. Much to the credit of my country, KEEP COOL is forgotten: or, where it is known at all, is looked upon as a disgrace to her literature-perhaps to myself. I am glad of it.
"BATTLE OF NIAGARA--GOLDAN MISCELLANEOUS POETRY-OTHO. Works abounding throughout, in absurdity, intemperance, affectation, extravagance-with continual, but involuntary imitation: yet, nevertheless, containing, altogether, more sincere poetry, more exalted, original, pure, bold poetry, than all the works, of all the other authors, that have ever appeared in America. A volume could be collected out of the whole, which would contain as much great poetry, as any single volume of this age. A few passages are equal to any poetry, that ever was written-to my knowledge. Cry out, if you will say what you will. What I speak is the truth-It is my honest opinion. Judge you of my judgment in this case, by my judgment in other cases.-Of OTHо, which is now a bad poem, with a few great, and a few beautiful passages in it: a multitude of errors, little, and big-many thoughts, which, if they should be worthily developed, were enough to reform the tragedy spirit of
the age of this, I could make a superb drama. I shall try it, some leisure week. In the preface to ОTHо published (long before Lord Byron thought of giving battle) on account of the unities, I took up their defence; encountered your English Goliah, Johnson: overthrew him- I love modesty: but I love truth better'overthrew him, and his great argument, as it appears in the preface of Shakspeare. I shall do this, after a more knightly fashion, one of these days.
"OTHо was written a long time before Mr Procter's MIRANDOLA came out, in his country. It was even published, before. I mention this, because MIRANDOLA is full of surprising resemblances to OтHO.-Parts of the plot; much of the sentiment; a situation or two; and, in one case, the very words are the same. As an American, I would carefully avoid imitation. It is the besetting sin of my countrymen. As an American, too, I should be charged with stealing from the author of Mirandola, when he would never be suspected of having stolen from OтHO.
"NIAGARA was, originally, the work of a few days, in the heat of summer. As it now stands-in the last edition -I consider it as the labour of less than a month; because, in about five or six weeks altogether, I wrote both NIAGARA and GOLDAN, beside some other poems-or poetry-and Отно. I do not mean five or six consecutive weeks; but five or six weeks, in amount, allowing, of course, for sleep, meals, etc. etc. Byron makes a fuss about having done his British Bards in less than a twelvemonth; a poem which has no poetry at all in it-of his own.
"GOLDAN. This poem was the labour, when first ready for publication, of less than forty-eight hours. Altogether, as it now stands, I regard it as the labour of about a week or ten days. The poetry of Mrs Hemans-(of which a word or two here, in self-defence)appeared in this country a long time after mine appeared, in America.Between 'OTHO, NIAGARA, GOLDAN -and her SIEGE OF VALENCIA,' i find a multitude of brief, startling resemblances, not only of thought, but of expression-which, after a while, but for what I now say, might subject me, though they never should, her, to the charge of plagiarism.-So too, in the second part of CRESCENTIUS, by
is no longer a child, articulate with inspiration; but a woman playing a part. "So with Barry Cornwall, whose exquisite sense of colour, flavour, shape, and odour, in poetry is quite Shakspearean-at least, in the sweet and affectionate passages of his poetry-if not in those of a more sublime or desperate countenance-(when he handles the thunder and lightning of his Jupiter,-with chicken-skin gloves.) These people, of course, could never be charged with borrowing from a North American savage-though he might be charged with stealing from them.
Mrs H. from page 26 to 82-there is a long passage (not one of her fine passages, neither-far from it)-so like parts of GOLDAN, that if her poem had not been published a long while-nearly two years after mine, I would not permit Goldan to go through another edition. Both writers, I should mention, are describing a similar character, in the same kind of verse; it is that of a minstrel boy, labouring under a mysterious derangement (if I do not forget) who goes about, over the earth-troubling the air-the human heart-every solitude-every place everybody with half-spontaneoushalf-involuntary music.-I do not well remember now, wherein the resemblance lay: I may be mistaken, perhaps, in the identity of character but I remember well, that I was afraid for Goldan, until I found out when hers appeared. (I took a note of the pages at the time.)
"It would be ridiculous enough to charge Mrs H. with imitating; or Barry Cornwall-otherwise Procter, with pilfering from-a Transatlantic barbarian, a self-educated, wild poet from beyond seas, who hates all the heathen mythology-as he does birch, kites, marbles, etc. etc., the entertainments of his boyhood.
"The woman is full of poetry. So is the man-brimful of that miraculous, deep, sure instinct, which-nay, the least portion of which, is a longing after immortality. The light within her, is that, which no woman ever had before. Others have had more eloquence; more dramatic power; a more manly temper; but no woman had ever so much true poetry in her heart, as Felicia Heraans.—(I cannot bear to call such a woman-so gifted -Mistress Hemans.) Look at her VOICE OF SPRING. There is not such another poem in the world. It is a lump of pure gold.
"Her poetry, however-that which I call her poetry-the tender, profound, pure, and spiritual part of it-is only to be met with in her smaller pieces. -When she prepares herself more seriously for the communication of her power, she is no longer the same creature. The woman passes away-the priestess appears. That clear transparency of look, through which, every pulsation of her heart-every change of her thought, would be seen, were she less upon her guard-is gone. She VOL. XVII.
"The preface to OTHо, wherein the great argument of Dr Johnson is refuted, I wrote one morning, as I would a letter, in the study of Mr Pierpont, (a clergyman, author of a poem, called Airs of Palestine.')—He knows all this to be true.
"As another example of the rapidity, with which I did business, all unused' as I was to that of reviewing, I would observe, that, being much pressed, one day, I read a long poem through, ('The Village,') and wrote a review of it, which afterwards came out in the Portico, while the editor was writing an epistle to some friend.
"The ESSAYS, CRITICISMS, etc. etc. which appeared in the TELEGRAPH, would amount, I daresay, to a large quarto; and were much above the general run of newspaper stuff. I cannot well say more of them, except in three cases;-in the first of which, I called Andrew Jackson, the general, to account, for his outrageous insolence to a senator of the United States :-in the second, I established (no other word will answer my purpose,) I established a doctrine, among the great lawyers of the country; which doctrine, if it ever come to issue in the Supreme Court of the United States, will shake the confederacy to her foundations. I showed, perfectly to my own satisfaction, that all the Banks of all the States were unconstitutional. In the third, I reviewed a celebrated opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, on the great national bankrupt law: showed-not only to my own satisfaction, but, I flatter myself, to that of all the other bankrupts of North America, that he was wrong
mistaken absolutely-from beginning to end. So he was. I was right. He is convinced of it, now. The leading courts of the country-nay, the Supreme Court itself, with a part of
its dependencies, in effect-have adopted my views of that opinion. These papers were always knocked off at a heat-in the course of a few hours; never corrected-never copied. But, hastily written as they were presumptuous and foolish-nay, desperate as they were thought, when they appeared, by the mob of lawyers, I have lived long enough already to hear the opinions-arguments-ay, in one case, the very language-therein used -adopted and quoted by certain of the great law authorities of the country. The Supreme Court of the United States have grown sorry for that opinion-ashamed of the judgment which followed-and are now seeking to evade the consequences of both.
"There were also, a multitude of papers upon the FINE ARTS, for which I have done more, in America, than all the rest of her native writers.
"INDEX TO NILES' REGISTER. The most laborious work of the kind, perhaps, in the world. It was done by me. Niles, to be sure, added a parcel of references to vols. XI. XII.; and re-arranged one or two of the articles: But, as a work, it is mine. He showed his notion of its value, by giving me nearly three times as much as he promised, for it. He was a very laborious man; but he had abandoned the work in despair, after a short experiment. So had one other person.
"HISTORY of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. By Paul ALLEN,-(See ALLEN, vol. XVI. page 30s.) The part which I furnished for this work; about one-fourth, I believe, as it is published; with about as much more, that was not published-having overstepped our contract-written more than was required-I wrote and copied, in less than six weeks-(that is -wrote it over twice)-besides reading several histories of the country and a prodigious pile of revolutionary manuscript-in the same time. It was printed shamefully; but in general (my part of it, I mean) was well written. Some of the finest passages, however, were made nonsense of, by the carelessness of my associate (Dr Watkins), whose boy sometimes read the proofs.
"My modesty-such as it is; and, if I do not greatly misunderstand my self, it is like that of Cobbett-or that of Dr Mitchell, the great man, who published a Chronological Table of re
markable Events in his own Life-my modesty-such as it is, will not permit me to say anything more of myself under this head.
"My other essays-in other journals-were not worth a curse. I should except one, however, about Counsellor Phillips, and his oratory, wherein I did his business, I flatter myself, in America: and, perhaps, one more, wherein I showed, conclusively, that Mr Taylor's book about Sir Philip Francis proved nothing at all: that all his facts were perfectly reconcilable to either hypothesis-(to the identity or non-identity' of Sir P. F. and Junius.) It appeared in the JOURNAL OF THE TIMES; was most atrociously printed. -I was the first who undertook Mr T.-I stood alone, for a long time.
"As for LOGAN, SEVENTY-SIX, RANDOLPH, and WILL ADAMS, I have no sort of objection to say what I think of them, also.—No matter whose they are-mine or another's.-It is all the same to me. I shall neither acknowledge, nor deny them. I did not, when I was threatened with assassinationchallenged-lied about-posted: and I will not, if I die for it-until I think proper. They lay them to the door of another man ; a young friend of mine. -William B. Walter, the poet. Poor fellow !-he was innocent of them. He never saw a line of either-never heard of either-till it was printed, or printing. The stories about him-so far as these books are concerned-almost originated with me. Carey, the publisher of Logan, told me, soon after it appeared in Philadelphia, that poor Walter was charged with it.-A long time afterwards, when it suited my purpose, I spoke of the report (adding a few queries, and facts) to the unprincipled, shameless vagabond-orin other words, which I take to be more insupportable, and quite equivalent-I did all this, to the editor of what is called the CoLUMBIAN OBSERVER, Philadelphia.He published my communication; but left out, until I made him put it in, a paragraph, upon which the whole character of the paper depended. All that I said was true-scrupulously true. The correction followed, within three or four days. Hence the ridiculous notion that prevails, about Walter's having been guilty of these books.
"The editor of the UNITED STATES LITERARY GAZETTE, Theophilus Parsons, by name, has thought proper to