Part 5 out of 6
nears the shore. Shall he reach it? Never!
* * * * *
IMAGINARY CONVERSATION, BETWEEN MR. WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR AND THE
EDITOR OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE.
To Christopher North, Esq.
SIR,--Mr. Walter Savage Landor has become a contributor to _Blackwood's
Magazine_! I stared at the announcement, and it will presently be
seen why. There is nothing extraordinary in the apparition of another
and another of this garrulous sexagenarian's "Imaginary Conversations."
They come like shadows, so depart.
"The thing, we know, is neither new nor rare,
But wonder how the devil it got there."
Many of your readers, ignorant or forgetful, may have asked,
"Who is Mr. Landor? We have never heard of any remarkable person of
that name, or bearing a similar one, except the two brothers Lander,
the explorers of the Niger." Mr. Walter Savage would answer,
"Not to know me argues yourself unknown." He was very angry with
Lord Byron for designating him as _a_ Mr. Landor. He thought it
should have been _the_. You ought to have forewarned such readers
that _the_ Mr. Landor, now _your_ Walter Savage, is the learned
author of an epic poem called _Gebir_, composed originally in
Egyptian hieroglyphics, then translated by him into Latin, and
thence done into English blank verse by the same hand. It is a work
of rare occurrence even in the English character, and is said to be
deeply abstruse. Some extracts from it have been buried in, or have
helped to bury, critical reviews. A copy of the Anglo-Gebir is,
however, extant in the British Museum, and is said to have so
puzzled the few philologists who have examined it, that they have
declared none but a sphinx, and that an Egyptian one, could unriddle
it. I would suggest that some Maga of the gypsies should be called
in to interpret. Our vagrant fortune-tellers are reputed to be of
Egyptian origin, and to hold converse among themselves in a very
strange and curious oriental tongue called _Gibberish_, which word,
no doubt, is a derivative from Gebir. Of the existence of the
mysterious epic, the public were made aware many years ago by the
first publication of Mr. Leigh Hunt's _Feast of the Poets_, where it
was mentioned in a note as a thing containing one good passage about
a shell, while in the text the author of _Gebir_ was called a gander,
and Mr. Southey rallied by Apollo for his simplicity in proposing
that the company should drink the gabbler's health. That pleasantry
has disappeared from Mr. Hunt's poem, though Mr. Landor has by no
means left off gabbling. Mr. Hunt is a kindly-natured man as well as
a wit, and no doubt perceived that he had been more prophetic than
he intended--Mr. Landor having, in addition to verses uncounted
unless on his own fingers, favoured the world with five thick octavo
volumes of dialogues. From the four first I have culled a few
specimens; the fifth I have not read. It is rumoured that a sixth is
in the press, with a dedication in the _issimo_ style, to Lord John
Russell, Mr. Landor's lantern having at last enabled him to detect
one honest man in the Imperial Parliament. Lord John, it seems, in
the House of Commons lately quoted something from him about a
Chinese mandarin's opinion of the English; and Mr. Landor is so
delighted that he intends to take the Russells under his protection
for ever, and not only them, but every thing within the range of
their interests. Not a cast horse, attached to a Woburn sand-cart,
shall henceforth crawl towards Bedford and Tavistock Squares, but
the grateful Walter shall swear he is a Bucephalus. You, Mr. North,
have placed the cart before the horse, in allowing Mr. Landor's
dialogue between Porson and Southey precedence of the following
between Mr. Landor and yourself.
You may object that it is a feigned colloquy, in which an
unauthorized use is made of your name. True; but all Mr. Landor's
colloquies are likewise feigned; and none is more fictitious than
one that has appeared in your pages, wherein Southey's name is used
in a manner not only unauthorized, but at which he would have
You and I must differ more widely in our notions of fair play than I
hope and believe we do, if you refuse to one whose purpose is
neither unjust nor ungenerous, as much license in your columns as
you have accorded to Mr. Landor, when it was his whim, without the
smallest provocation, to throw obloquy on the venerated author of
I am, Sir, your faithful servant,
* * * * *
_Landor_.--Good-morning, Mr. North, I hope you are well.
_North_.--I thank you, sir.--Be seated.
_Landor_.--I have called to enquire whether you have considered my
proposal, and are willing to accept my aid.
_North_.--I am almost afraid to trust you, sir. You treat the
Muses like nine-pins. Neither gods nor men find favour in your sight.
If Homer and Virgil crossed your path, you would throw stones at them.
_Landor_.--The poems attributed to Homer, were probably, in part at
least, translations. He is a better poet than Hesiod, who has, indeed,
but little merit! Virgil has no originality. His epic poem is a
mere echo of the Iliad, softened down in tone for the polite ears of
Augustus and his courtiers. Virgil is inferior to Tasso. Tasso's
characters are more vivid and distinct than Virgil's, and greatly
more interesting. Virgil wants genius. Mezentius is the most
heroical and pious of all the characters in the Aeneid. The Aeneid, I
affirm, is the most misshapen of epics, an epic of episodes. There
are a few good passages in it. I must repeat one for the sake of
proposing an improvement.
"Quinetiam _hyberno_ moliris sidere classem,
Et mediis properas aquilonibus ire per altum ...
Crudelis! quod si non arva aliena domosque
Ignotas peteres, et Troja antiqua maneret,
Troja per _undosum_ peteretur classibus aequor?"
If _hybernum_ were substituted for _undosum_, how incomparably more
beautiful would the sentence be for this energetic repetition? 
_North_.--I admire your modesty, Mr. Landor, in quoting Virgil
only to improve him; but your alteration is not an improvement. Dido,
having just complained of her lover for putting out to sea under a
wintry star, would have uttered but a graceless iteration had she in
the same breath added--if Troy yet stood, must even Troy be sought
through a wintry sea? _Undosum_ is the right epithet; it paints to
the eye the danger of the voyage, and adds force to her complaint.
_Landor_. Pshaw! You Scotchmen are no scholars. Let me proceed.
Virgil has no nature. And, by the way, his translator Dryden, too,
is greatly overrated.
_Landor_.--Glorious fiddlestick! It is insufferable that a rhymer
should be called glorious, whose only claim to notice is a clever
_North_.--A drinking song?
_Landor_. Yes, the thing termed an Ode for St. Cecilia's Day.
_North_.--Hegh, sir, indeed! Well, let us go on with the Ancients,
and dispatch them first. To revert to the Greeks, from whom Virgil's
imitation of the Iliad drew us aside, favour me with your opinion of
[Footnote 48: See Mr. Landor's "Imaginary Conversations."--Vol. i. p.
44, and ii. p. 322, note.]
[Footnote 50: Vol. i p. 269, 270.]
[Footnote 51: Vol. i. p. 300.]
_Landor_.--Plato is disingenuous and malicious. I fancy I have
detected him in more than one dark passage, a dagger in his hand and
a bitter sneer on his countenance. He stole (from the Eyptian
priests and other sources) every idea his voluminous books convey.
 Plato was a thief.
_North_.--"Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief."
_Landor_.--Do you mean to insinuate that my dialogues are stolen
_North_.--Certainly not, Mr. Landor; there is not the remotest
resemblance between them. Lucian and Christopher North are your
models. What do you think of Aristotle?
_Landor_.--In Plato we find only arbours and grottoes, with moss
and shell work all misplaced. Aristotle has built a solider edifice,
but has built it across the road. We must throw it down again.
_North_.--So much for philosophy. What have you to say to Xenophon
as an historian?
_Landor_.--He is not inelegant, but he is unimpassioned and
affected;  and he has not even preserved the coarse features of
nations and of ages in his Cyropaedia.
_North_.--The dunce! But what of the Anabasis?
_Landor_.--You may set Xenophon down as a writer of graceful
_Landor_.--If I blame Herodotus, whom can I commend? His view of
history was nevertheless like that of the Asiatics, and there can be
little to instruct and please us in the actions and speeches of
_North_.--Which of the Greek tragedians do you patronise?
_Landor_.--Aeschylus is not altogether unworthy of his reputation;
he is sometimes grand, but oftener flighty and obscure.
_North_.--What say you of Sophocles?
_Landor_.--He is not so good as his master, though the Athenians
thought otherwise. He is, however, occasionally sublime.
_North_.--What of Euripides? 
_Landor_.--He came further down into common life than Sophocles,
and he further down than Aeschylus: one would have expected the
reverse. Euripides has but little dramatic power. His dialogue is
sometimes dull and heavy; the construction of his fable infirm and
inartificial, and if in the chorus he assumes another form, and
becomes a more elevated poet, he is still at a loss to make it serve
the interests of the piece. He appears to have written principally
for the purpose of inculcating political and moral axioms. The dogmas,
like _valets de place_, serve any master, and run to any quarter.
Even when new, they are nevertheless miserably flat and idle.
_North_.--Aristophanes ridiculed him.
_Landor_.--Yes, Aristophanes had, however, but little true wit. 
_North_.--That was lucky for Euripides.
_Landor_.-A more skilful archer would have pierced him through
bone and marrow, and saved him from the dogs of Archelaus.
_North_.--That story is probably an allegory, signifying that
Euripides was after all worried out of life by the curs of criticism
in his old age.
_Landor_.--As our Keats was in his youth, eh, Mr. North? A worse
fate than that of Aeschylus, who had his skull cracked by a tortoise
dropt by an eagle that mistook his bald head for a stone.
_North_.--Another fable of his inventive countrymen. He died of
brain-fever, followed by paralysis, the effect of drunkenness. He
was a jolly old toper: I am sorry for him. You just now said that
Aristophanes wanted wit. What foolish fellows then the Athenians
must have been, in the very meridian of their literature, to be so
delighted with what they mistook for wit as to decree him a crown
of olive! He has been styled the Prince of Old Comedy too. How do you
[Footnote 52: Vol. ii. p. 298.]
[Footnote 53: Vol. iii p. 514.]
[Footnote 54: Vol. iv. p 80.]
[Footnote 55: Vol. i. p. 233.]
[Footnote 56: Vol. ii. p. 331.]
[Footnote 57: Vol. iii. p. 35.]
[Footnote 58: Vol. ii. p. 332.]
[Footnote 59: Vol. i. pp. 299, 298, 297.]
[Footnote 60: Vol. i. p. 298.]
[Footnote 61: Vol. ii. p. 12.]
_Landor_.--We have not much of him, unless in Terence.  The
characters on which Menander raised his glory were trivial and
[Footnote 62: Vol. ii. p. 5. At p. 6th, Mr. Landor produces some verses
of his own "in the manner of Menander," fathers them on Andrew Marvel,
and makes Milton praise them!]
_North_.--Now that you have demolished the Greeks, let us go back
to Rome, and have another touch at the Latins. From Menander to
Terence is an easy jump. How do you esteem Terence?
_Landor_.--Every one knows that he is rather an expert translator
from the Greek than an original writer. There is more pith in Plautus.
_North_.--You like Plautus, then, and endure Terence?
_Landor_.--I tolerate both as men of some talents; but comedy is,
at the best, only a low style of literature; and the production of
such trifling stuff is work for the minor geniuses. I have never
composed a comedy.
_North_.--I see: farewell to the sock, then. Is Horace worth his
_Landor_.--There must be some salt in Horace, or he would not have
kept so well.  He was a shrewd observer and an easy versifier; but,
like all the pusillanimous, he was malignant.
[Footnote 63: Vol. ii. p. 249.]
_Landor_.--He was, like our own Bacon, hard-hearted and
hypocritical,  as to his literary merits, Caligula, the excellent
emperor and critic, (who made sundry efforts to extirpate the writings
of Homer and Virgil,)  spoke justly and admirably when he compared the
sentences of Seneca to lime without sand.
[Footnote 64: Vol. iv. p. 31.]
[Footnote 65: Vol. i. p. 274.]
_North_.--Perhaps, after all, you prefer the moderns?
_Landor_.--I have not said that.
_North_.--You think well of Spenser?
_Landor_.--As I do of opium: he sends me to bed .
Thee, gentle Spenser fondly led,
But me he mostly sent to bed.--LANDOR. ]
_North_.--You concede the greatness of Milton?
_Landor_.--Yes, when he is great; but his Satan is often a thing
to be thrown out of the way among the rods and fools' caps of the
[Footnote 67: Vol. i. p. 301.]
He has sometimes written very contemptibly; his lines on Hobbes,
the carrier, for example, and his versions of Psalms.  Milton was
never so great a regicide as when he smote King David.
[Footnote 68: Blackwood.]
_North_.--You like, at least, his hatred of kings?
_Landor_.--That is somewhat after my own heart, I own; but he does
not go far enough in his hatred of them.
_Landor_.--I despise and abominate them. How many of them, do you
think, could name their real fathers? 
[Footnote 69: Vol. i. p. 61.]
_North_.--But, surely, Charles was a martyr?
_Landor_.--If so, what were those who sold  him?
[Footnote 70: Vol. iv. p. 283.]
Ha, ha, ha! You a Scotchman, too! However, Charles was not a martyr.
He was justly punished. To a consistent republican, the diadem
should designate the victim: all who wear it, all who offer it, all
who bow to it, should perish. Rewards should be offered for the
heads of those monsters, as for the wolves, the kites, and the vipers.
A true republican can hold no milder doctrine of polity, than that
all nations, all cities, all communities, should enter into one
great hunt, like that of the ancient Scythians at the approach of
winter, and should follow up the kingly power unrelentingly to its
perdition.  True republicans can see no reason why they should
not send an executioner to release a king from the prison-house of
his crimes,  with his family to attend him.
[Footnote 71: Vol. iv. 507.]
[Footnote 72: Vol. i. p. 73.]
In my Dialogues, I have put such sentiments into the mouth of
Diogenes, that cynic of sterling stamp, and of Aeschines, that
incorruptible orator, as suitable to the maxims of their government. 
To my readers, I leave the application of them to nearer interests.
[Footnote 73: Mr. Landor, with whom the Cynic is a singular favourite,
says, p. 461, vol. iii., that Diogenes was not expelled from Sinope
for having counterfeited money; that he only marked false men.
Aeschines was accused of having been bribed by Philip of Macedon.]
_North_.--But you would not yourself, in your individual character,
and in deliberate earnestness, apply them to modern times and
_Landor_.--Why not? Look at my Dialogue with De Lille.  What
have I said of Louis the Fourteenth, the great exemplar of kingship,
and of the treatment that he ought to have received from the English?
Deprived of all he had acquired by his treachery and violence,
unless the nation that brought him upon his knees had permitted two
traitors, Harley and St. John, to second the views of a weak woman,
and to obstruct those of policy and of England, he had been carted
to condign punishment in the _Place de Greve_ or at Tyburn. _Such
examples are much wanted, and, as they can rarely be given, should
never be omitted_.
[Footnote 74: Vol. i.]
[Footnote 75: Vol. i. p. 281.--Landor.]
_North_.--The Sans-culottes and Poissardes of the last French
revolution but three, would have raised you by acclamation to the
dignity of Decollator of the royal family of France for that brave
sentiment. But you were not at Paris, I suppose, during the reign of
the guillotine, Mr. Landor?
_Landor_.--I was not, Mr. North. But as to the king whose plethory
was cured by that sharp remedy, he, Louis the Sixteenth, was only
dragged to a fate which, if he had not experienced it, he would be
acknowledged to have deserved. 
[Footnote 76: Vol. ii. p. 267. This truculent sentiment the Dialogist
imputes to a Spanish liberal. He cannot fairly complain that it is here
restored to its owner. It is exactly in accordance with the sentence
quoted above in italics--a judgment pronounced by Mr. Landor in person.
--Vol. i. p. 281. It also conforms to his philosophy of regicide, as
expounded in various parts of his writings. In his preface to the first
volume of his Imaginary Conversations, he claims exemption, though
somewhat sarcastically, from responsibility for the notions expressed
by his interlocutors. An author, in a style which has all the freedom of
the dramatic form, without its restraints, should especially abstain
from making his work the vehicle of crotchets, prejudices, and
passions peculiar to himself, or unworthy of the characters speaking.
"This form of composition," Mr. Landor says, "among other advantages,
is recommended by the protection it gives from the hostility all
novelty (unless it be vicious) excites." Prudent consideration, but
_North_.--I believe one Englishman, a martyr to liberty, has said
something like that before.
_North_.--The butcher Ings.
_Landor_.--Ah, I was not aware of it! Ings was a fine fellow.
_North_.--Your republic will never do here, Mr. Landor.
_Landor_.--I shall believe that a king is better than a republic
when I find that a single tooth in a head is better than a set. 
[Footnote 77: Vol. ii. p. 31.]
_North_.--It would be as good logic in a monarchy-man to say,
"I shall believe that a republic is better than a king when I am
convinced that six noses on a face would be better than one."
_Landor_.--In this age of the march of intellect, when a pillar of
fire is guiding us out of the wilderness of error, you Tories lag
behind, and are lost in darkness, Mr. North. Only the first person
in the kingdom should be unenlightened and void, as only the first
page in a book should be a blank one. It is when it is torn out that
we come at once to the letters. 
[Footnote 78: Vol. iv. p. 405.]
_North_.--Well, now that you have torn out the first page of the
Court Guide, we come to the Peers, I suppose.
_Landor_.--The peerage is the park-paling of despotism, arranged
to keep in creatures tame and wild for luxury and diversion, and to
keep out the people. Kings are to peerages what poles are to
rope-dancers, enabling then to play their tricks with greater
confidence and security above the heads of the people. The wisest
and the most independent of the English Parliaments declared the
thing useless.  Peers are usually persons of pride without dignity,
of lofty pretensions with low propensities. They invariably bear
towards one another a constrained familiarity or frigid courtesy,
while to their huntsmen and their prickers, their chaplains and
their cooks, (or indeed any other man's,) they display unequivocal
signs of ingenuous cordiality.
[Footnote 79: Vol. iv. p. 400.]
How many do you imagine of our nobility are not bastards or sons of
[Footnote 80: Vol. iv. p. 273.]
_North_.--You have now settled the Peers. The Baronets come next in
_Landor_.--Baronets are prouder than any thing we see on this side
of the Dardanelles, excepting the proctors of universities, and the
vergers of cathedrals; and their pride is kept in eternal agitation,
both from what is above them and what is below. Gentlemen of any
standing (like Walter Savage Landor, of Warwick Castle, and Lantony
Abbey in Wales,) are apt to investigate their claims a little too
minutely, and nobility has neither bench nor joint-stool for them in
the vestibule. During the whole course of your life, have you ever
seen one among this, our King James's breed of curs, that either did
not curl himself up and lie snug and warm in the lowest company, 
or slaver and whimper in fretful quest of the highest.
[Footnote 81: Vol. iv. p. 400.]
_North_.--But you allow the English people to be a great people.
_Landor_.--I allow them to be a nation of great fools. 
In England, if you write dwarf on the back of a giant, he will go
for a dwarf.
[Footnote 82: Vol. iii. p. 135.]
_North_.--I perceive; some wag has been chalking your back in that
fashion. Why don't you label your breast with the word giant?
Perhaps you would then pass for one.
_Landor_.--I have so labelled it, but in vain.
_North_.--Yet we have seen some great men, besides yourself,
Mr. Landor, in our own day. Some great military commanders, for
example; and, as a particular instance, Wellington.
_Landor_.--It cannot be dissembled that all the victories of the
English, in the last fifty years, have been gained by the high
courage and steady discipline of the soldier,  and the most
remarkable where the prudence and skill of the commander were
[Footnote 83: Vol. ii. p 214.]
_North_.--Ay, that was a terrible mistake at Waterloo. Yet you
will allow Wellington to have been something of a general, if not in
India, at least in Spain.
_Landor_.--Suppose him, or any distinguished general of the English,
to have been placed where Murillo was placed in America, Mina in
Spain; then inform me what would have been your hopes? 
The illustrious Mina,  of all the generals who have appeared in our
age, has displayed the greatest genius, and the greatest constancy.
That exalted personage, the admiration of Europe, accomplished the
most arduous and memorable work that any one mortal ever brought to
[Footnote 84: Vol. ii. p. 214.]
[Footnote 85: Vol. ii. p. 3. Ded. "to Mina."--Wilson.]
_North_.--We have had some distinguished statesmen at the helm in
our time, Mr. Landor.
_Landor_.--Your pilot that weathered the storm. Ha, ha! He was the
most insidious republican that England ever produced.
_North_.--You should like him if he was a Republican.
_Landor_.--But he was a debaser of the people as well as of the
peerage. By the most wasteful prodigality both in finance and war,
he was enabled to distribute more wealth among his friends and
partisans than has been squandered by the uncontrolled profusion of
French monarchs from the first Louis to the last.  Yet he was
more short-sighted than the meanest insect that can see an inch
before it. You should have added those equally enlightened and
prudent leaders of our Parliament, Lord Castlereagh and his
successors. Pitt, indeed! whose requisites for a successful minister
were three--to speak like an honest man, to act like a scoundrel,
and to be indifferent which he is called. But you have forgotten my
dialogue between him and that wretched fellow Canning. 
I have there given Pitt his quietus. As to Castlereagh and Canning,
I have crushed them to powder, spit upon them, kneaded them into
dough again; and pulverized them once more. Canning is the man who
deserted his party, supplanted his patrons, and abandoned every
principle he protested he would uphold.  Castlereagh is the
statesman who was found richer one day, by a million of zecchins,
than he was the day before, and this from having signed a treaty!
The only life he ever personally aimed at was the vilest in existence,
and none complains that he succeeded in his attempt.  I forgot:
he aimed at another so like it, (you remember his duel with Canning,)
that it is a pity it did not form a part of it.
[Footnote 86: Vol. ii. p. 240, 241, 242.]
[Footnote 87: Vol. iii. p. 66.]
[Footnote 88: Vol. iii. p. 134.]
[Footnote 89: Vol. iii. p. 172, and that there should be no mistake as
to the person indicated, Lord Castlereagh is again accused by name
at p. 187. The same charge occurs also in the dialogue between
Aristotle and Calisthenes! p 334, 335, 336; where Prince Metternich,
(Metanyctius,) the briber, is himself represented as a traitor to
his country. Aristotle is the teller of this cock-and-bull story!]
_North_.--Horrible! most horrible!
_Landor_.--Hear Epicurus and Leontion and Ternissa discuss the
merits of Castlereagh and Canning.
_North_.--Epicurus! What, the philosopher who flourished some
centuries before the Christian era?
_Landor_.--The same. He flourishes still for my purposes.
_North_.--And who are Leontion and Ternissa?
_Landor_.--Two of his female pupils.
_North_.--Oh, two of his misses! And how come they and their master,
who lived above 2000 years before the birth of Canning and
Castlereagh, to know any thing about them?
_Landor_.--I do not stand at trifles of congruity. Canning is the
very man who has taken especial care that no strong box among us
shall be without a chink at the bottom; the very man who asked and
received a gratuity (you remember the Lisbon job)  from the colleague
he had betrayed, belied, and thrown a stone at, for having proved
him in the great market-place a betrayer and a liar. Epicurus describes
Canning as a fugitive slave, a writer of epigrams on walls, and of songs
on the grease of platters, who attempted to cut the throat of a fellow
in the same household,  who was soon afterward more successful in doing
[Footnote 90: Vol. iv. p. 194.]
[Footnote 91: Vol. iv. p. 194.]
_North_.--Horrible, most horrible mockery! But even that is not new.
It is but Byron's brutal scoff repeated--"Carotid-artery-cutting
_Landor_.--You Tories affect to be so squeamish. Epicurus goes on
to show Canning's ignorance of English.
_North_.--Epicurus! Why not William Cobbett?
_Landor_.--The Athenian philosopher introduces the trial of George
the Fourth's wife, and describes her as a drunken old woman, the
companion of soldiers and sailors, and lower and viler men. One
whose eyes, as much as can be seen of them, are streaky fat floating
in semi-liquid rheum.
_North_.--And this is the language of Epicurus to his female pupils!
He was ever such a beast.
_Landor_.--You are delicate. He goes on to allude to Canning's
having called her the _pride, the life, the ornament of society_,
(you know he did so call her in the House of Commons, according to
the newspaper reports; it is true he was speaking of what she had
been many years previously; before her departure from England.) 
Epicurus says triumphantly that the words, if used at all, should
have been placed thus--_the ornament, pride, and life_; for hardly a
Boeotian bullock-driver would have wedged in _life_ between _pride_
[Footnote 92: Vol. iv. p. 194, 195.--Pericles and Sophocles also
prattle about Queen Caroline! vol. 2, p. 106, 107.--In another place
the judgment and style of Johnson being under sentence, the Doctor's
judgment is "alike in all things," that is, "unsound and incorrect;"
and as to style, "a sentence of Johnson is like a pair of breeches,
an article of dress, divided into two parts, equal in length, breadth,
and substance, with a protuberance before and behind." The _contour_
of Mr. Landor's figure can hardly be so graceful as that of the
Pythian Apollo, if his dress-breeches are made in this fashion, and
"his Florentine tailor never fails to fit him."--See vol. i. p. 296,
and p. 185, note.]
_North_.--What dignified and important criticism! and how
appropriate from the lips of Epicurus! But why were you, Mr. Landor,
so rancorous against that miserable Queen Caroline? You have half
choked Sir Robert Wilson, one of her champions, and the marshal of
her coffin's royal progress through London, with a reeking panegyric
in your dedication to him  of a volume of your Talks.
[Footnote 93: Vol. iii.]
_Landor_.--I mistook Wilson for an uncompromising Radical. As to
his and Canning's nobled Queen, I confess I owed her a grudge for
disrespect to me at Como long before.
_North_.--How? Were you personally acquainted with her?
_Landor_.--Not at all: She was not aware that there was such a man
as Walter Savage Landor upon earth, or she would have taken care
that I should not be stopt by her porter at the lodge-gate, when I
took a fancy to pry into the beauties of her pleasure-ground.
_North_.--Then her disrespect to you was not only by deputy, but
even without her cognisance?
_North_.--And that was the offence for which you assailed her with
such a violent invective after her death?
_Landor_.--Oh no! it might possibly have sharpened it a little;
but I felt it my duty, as a censor of morals, to mark my reprobation
of her having grown fat and wrinkled in her old age. It was
necessary for me to correct the flattering picture drawn of her by
that caitiff Canning. You know the contempt of Demosthenes for
_Landor_.--Yes, in my dialogue between him and Eubulides, he
delineates Canning as a clumsy and vulgar man.
_North_.--Every one knows that he was a man of remarkably fine
person and pleasing manners.
_Landor_.--Never mind that--A vulgar and clumsy man, a
market-place demagogue, lifted on a honey-barrel by grocers and
slave-merchants, with a dense crowd around him, who listen in
rapture because his jargon is unintelligible.  Demosthenes, you
know, was a Liverpool electioneering agent, so he knew all about
Canning and his tricks, and his abstraction of L.14,000 sterling
from the public treasury to defray the expenses of his shameful
flight to Lesbos, that is Lisbon.
[Footnote 94: Vol. i. p. 245.]
[Footnote 95: Vol. i. p. 247. This charge against Canning is
repeated at Vol. iii. p. 186, 187, and again at Vol. iv. p. 193.]
_North_.--Has England produced no honest men of eminence,
_Landor_.--Very few; I can, however, name two--Archbishop Boulter
and Philip Savage.  I am not certain that I should ever have thought
of recording their merits, if their connexion with my own family had
not often reminded me of them; we do not always bear in mind very
retentively what is due to others, unless there is something at home
to stimulate the recollection. Boulter, Primate of Ireland, saved
that kingdom from pestilence and famine in 1729 by supplying the
poor with bread, medicines, attendance, and every possible comfort
and accommodation. Again, in 1740 and 1741, no fewer than 250,000
persons were fed, twice a-day, principally at his expense. Boulter
was certainly the most disinterested, the most humane, the most
beneficent, and after this it is little to say, the most enlightened
and learned man that ever guided the counsels of a kingdom.
Mr. Philip Savage, Chancellor of the Exchequer, married his wife's
sister, of his own name, but very distantly related. This minister
was so irreproachable, that even Swift could find no fault with him.
 He kept a groom in livery, and two saddle-horses.
[Footnote 96: Also Vol. iii. p. 92.]
[Footnote 97: Vol. iii. p. 91, 92, note.]
_North_.--Is it possible? And these great men were of your family,
_Landor_.--I have told you so, sir--Philip was one of my Savage
ancestors,  and he and Boulter married sisters, who were also Savages.
[Footnote 98: Vol. iii. p. 92, note.]
_North_.--You have lived a good while in Italy? You like the
Italians, I believe?
_Landor_.--I despise and abominate the Italians; and I have taken
some pains to show it in various ways. During my long residence at
Florence I was the only Englishman there, I believe, who never went
to court, leaving it to my hatter, who was a very honest man, and my
breeches-maker, who never failed to fit me.  The Italians were
always--far exceeding all other nations--parsimonious and avaricious,
the Tuscans beyond all other Italians, the Florentines beyond all other
[Footnote 99: Vol. i. p. 185.]
[Footnote 100: Vol. i. p. 219.]
_North_.--But even Saul was softened by music: surely that of
Italy must have sometimes soothed you?
_Landor_.--_Opera_ was, among the Romans, _labour_, as _operae
pretium_, &c. It now signifies the most contemptible of performances,
the vilest office of the feet and tongue. 
[Footnote 101: Vol. i. p. 212.]
_North_.--But the sculptors, the painters, the architects of Italy?
You smile disdainfully, Mr. Landor!
_Landor_.--I do; their sculpture and painting have been employed
on most ignoble objects--on scourgers and hangmen, on beggarly
enthusiasts and base impostors. Look at the two masterpieces of the
pencil; the Transfiguration of Raphael, and the St. Jerome of
Correggio;  can any thing be more incongruous, any thing more
contrary to truth and history?
[Footnote 102: Vol. i. p. 109, note.]
_North_.--There have been able Italian writers both in verse and
_Landor_.--In verse not many, in prose hardly any.
_Landor_.--He is entertaining.
_Landor_.--A coarse comedian. 
[Footnote 103: Vol. ii. p. 252.]
_North_.--You honour Ariosto?
_Landor_.--I do not. Ariosto is a plagiary, the most so of all
poets.  Ariosto is negligent; his plan inartificial, defective, bad.
[Footnote 104: Vol. i. p. 290.]
_North_.--You protect Tasso?
_Landor_.--I do, especially against his French detractors.
_North_.--But you esteem the French?
_Landor_.--I despise and abominate the French.
_North_.--And their literature!
_Landor_.--And their literature. As to their poets, bad as Ariosto
is, divide the Orlando into three parts, and take the worst of them,
and although it may contain a large portion of extremely vile poetry,
it will contain more of good than the whole French language. 
[Footnote 105: Vol. i. p. 290.]
_North_.--Is Boileau so very contemptible?
_Landor_.--Beneath contempt. He is a grub. 
[Footnote 106: See Mr. Landor's Polite Conversation with De Lille,
Vol. i. and Note at the end, p. 309, 310.]
_Landor_.--Diffuse, feeble, and, like Boileau, meanly thievish.
The most admired verse of Racine is stolen,  so is almost every other
that is of any value.
[Footnote 107: Vol. i. p. 293, 294.]
_North_.--But Voltaire, Mr. Landor?
_Landor_.--Voltaire, sir, was a man of abilities, and author of
many passable epigrams, besides those which are contained in his
tragedies and heroics,  though, like Parisian lackeys, they are
usually the smartest when out of place. I tell you I detest and
abominate every thing French. 
[Footnote 108: Vol. i. p. 254.]
[Footnote 109: We, however, find Mr. Landor giving the French credit
for their proceedings in one remarkable instance, and it is so
seldom that we catch him in good-humour with any thing, that we will
not miss an opportunity of exhibiting him in an amiable light. This
champion of the liberties of the world, who has cracked his lungs in
endeavouring, on the shores of Italy, to echo the lament of Byron
over Greece, and who denounced the powers of Europe for suffering
the Duke d'Angouleme to assist his cousin Ferdinand in retaking the
Trocadero, yet approves of French proceedings in Spain on a previous
occasion. Admiring reader! you shall hear Sir Oracle himself again:--
"The laws and institutions introduced by the French into Spain were
excellent, and the _king_" (Joseph Bonaparte!) "was liberal, affable,
sensible, and humane." Poor Trelawney, the friend of Byron, is made
to talk thus! Both Trelawney and Odysseus the noble Greek, to whom
he addresses himself, were more likely to participate in the
"indignation of a high-minded Spaniard," so vividly expressed by a
high-minded Englishman in the following sonnet:--
"We can endure that he should waste our lands,
Despoil our temples, and, by sword and flame,
Return us to the dust from which we came;
Such food a tyrant's appetite demands:
And we can brook the thought, that by his hands
Spain may be overpower'd, and he possess,
For his delight, a solemn wilderness,
Where all the brave lie dead. But, when of bands
That he will break for us he dares to speak,
Of benefits, and of a future day
When our enlighten'd minds shall bless his sway--
Then the strain'd heart of fortitude proves weak;
Our groans, our blushes, our pale cheeks declare
That he has power to inflict what we lack strength to bear."]
_North_.--Well, Mr. Landor, we have rambled over much ground; we
have journeyed from Dan to Beersheba, and found all barren. Let us
_Landor_.--Before we do so, let me observe, that among several
noted Italians whom you have not glanced at, there is one whom I
revere--Alfieri. He was the greatest man of his time in Europe,
though not acknowleged or known to be so;  and he well knew his
station as a writer and as a man. Had he found in the world five equal
to himself, he would have walked out of it not to be jostled. 
[Footnote 110: Vol. ii. p. 241.]
[Footnote 111: Vol. ii. p. 258.]
_North_.--He would have been sillier, then, than the flatulent
frog in the fable. Yet Alfieri's was, indeed, no ordinary mind, and
he would have been a greater poet than he was, had he been a better
man. I admire his Bruto Primo as much as you do, and I am glad to
hear you give your suffrage so heartily in favour of any one.
_Landor_.--Sir, I admire the man as much as I do the poet. It is
not every one who can measure his height; I can.
_North_.--Pop! there you go! you have got out of the bottle again,
and are swelling and vapouring up to the clouds. Do lower yourself
to my humble stature, (I am six feet four in my slippers.) Alfieri
reminds me of Byron. What of him?
_Landor_.--A sweeper of the Haram.  A sweeper of the Haram is
equally in false costume whether assuming the wreath of Musaeus or
wearing the bonnet of a captain of Suliotes. _I_ ought to have been
chosen a leader of the Greeks. I would have led them against the
turbaned Turk to victory, armed not with muskets or swords but with
bows and arrows, and mailed not in steel cuirasses or chain armour
but in cork caps and cork shirts. Nothing is so cool to the head as
cork, and by the use of cork armour the soldier who cannot swim has
all the advantage of him who can. At the head of my swimming archers
I would have astonished the admirers of Leander and Byron in the
Dardanelles, and I would have proved myself a Duck worth two of the
gallant English admiral who tried in vain to force that passage. The
Sultan should have beheld us in Stamboul, and we would have
fluttered his dovecote within the Capi---
[Footnote 112: Vol. i. p. 301.--Vol. ii. p. 222, 223.]
_North_.--I will not tempt you further. Let us proceed to business.
To what am I indebted for the honour of this visit, Mr. Landor?
_Landor_.--I sent you the manuscript of a new Imaginary
Conversation between Porsou and Southey.
_North_.--A sort of abnegation of your former one. For what
purpose did you send it to me?
_Landor_.--For your perusal. Have you read it?
_North_.--I have, and I do not find it altogether new.
_North_.--I have seen some part of it in print before.
_North_.--In a production of your own.
_North_.--In a rhymed lampoon printed in London in 1836. It is
called "A Satire on Satirists, and Admonition to Detractors." Do you
know such a thing?
_Landor_.--(_Aside_. Unlucky! some good-natured friend has sent
him that suppressed pamphlet.) Yes, Mr. North; a poetical manifesto
of mine with that title was printed but not published.
_North_.--No, only privately distributed among friends. It
contained some reflections on Wordsworth.
_North_.--Why did you suppress it?
_Landor_.--Because I was ashamed of it. Byron and others had
anticipated me. I had produced nothing either new or true to damage
_North_.--Yet you have now, in this article that you offer me,
reproduced the same stale gibes.
_Landor_.--But I have kept them in salt for six years: they will
now have more flavour. I have added some spice, too.
_North_.--Which you found wrapt up in old leaves of the _Edinburgh
_Landor_.--Not the whole of it; a part was given to me by
acquaintances of the poet.
_North_.--Eavesdroppers about Rydal Mount and Trinity Lodge. It was
hardly worth your acceptance.
_Landor_.--Then you refuse my article.
_North_.--It is a rare article, Mr. Landor--a brave caricature of
many persons and things; but, before I consent to frame it in ebony,
we must come to some understanding about other parts of the
suppressed pamphlet. Here it is. I find that in this atrabilarious
effusion you have treated ourselves very scurvily. At page 9 I see,
"Sooner shall Tuscan Vallambrosa lack wood,
Than Britain, Grub street, Billingsgate, and _Blackwood_."
Then there is a note at page 10: "Who can account for the eulogies of
_Blackwood_ on Sotheby's Homer as compared with Pope's and Cowper's?
Eulogy is not reported to be the side he _lies_ upon, in general."
On the same page, and the next, you say of Us, high Churchmen and
"Beneath the battlements of Holyrood
There never squatted a more sordid brood
Than that which now, across the clotted perch,
Crookens the claw and screams for Court and Church."
Then again at page 12,
"Look behind you, look!
There issues from the Treasury, dull and dry as
The leaves in winter, Gifford and Matthias.
Brighter and braver Peter Pindar started,
And ranged around him all the lighter-hearted,
When Peter Pindar sank into decline,
Up from his hole sprang Peter Porcupine"
All which is nothing to Us, but what does it lead to?
"Him W ... son follow'd"--
Why those dots, Mr. Landor?
"Him W ... son follow'd, of congenial quill,
As near the dirt and no less prone to ill.
Walcot, of English heart, had English pen,
Buffoon he might be, but for hire was none;
Nor plumed and mounted in Professor's chair
Offer'd to grin for wages at a fair."
The rest is too foul-mouthed for repetition. You are a man of nasty
ideas, Mr. Landor. You append a note, in which, without any
authority but common rumour, you exhibit the learned Professor as an
important contributor to Blackwood, especially in those graces of
delicate wit so attractive to his subcribers. You declare, too, that
we fight under cover, and only for spite and pay; that honester and
wiser satirists were brave, that--
"Their courteous soldiership, outshining ours,
Mounted the engine and took aim from towers;"
"From putrid ditches we more safely fight,
And push our zig-zag parallels by night."
Again, at page 19--
"The Gentleman's, the Lady's we have seen,
Now blusters forth the Blackguard's Magazine;
And (Heaven from joint-stock companies protect us!)
Dustman and nightman issue their prospectus."
_Landor (who has sate listening, with a broad grin, while Mr. North
was getting rather red in the face_.)--Really, Mr. North,
considering that you have followed the trade of a currier for the
last thirty years, you are remarkably sensitive to any little
experiment on your own skin. Put what has my unpublished satire to
do with our present affair?
_North_.--The answer to that question I will borrow from the
satire itself, as you choose to term your scurrilous lampoon. Our
present affair, then, is to consider whether Walter Savage Landor,
Imaginary Conversation writer, in rushlight emulation of the
wax-candles that illumine our Noctes, shall be raised, as he aspires,
to the dignity of Fellow of the _Blackwood_ Society. In the
note at page 13 of the said lampoon, you state that "Lord Byron
declared that no gentleman could write in _Blackwood_;" and
you ask, "Has this assertion been ever disproved by experiment?" Now,
Mr. Landor, as you have thus adopted and often re-echoed Lord Byron's
opinion, that _no gentleman could write in Blackwood_, and yet wish
to enrol yourself among our writers, what is the inference?
_Landor_. That I confess myself no gentleman, _you_ would infer.
_I_ make no such confession. I would disprove Byron's assertion,
by making the experiment.
_North_. You do us too much honour. Yet reflect, Mr. Landor. After
the character you have given us, would you verily seek to be of our
fraternity? You who have denounced us so grandiloquently--you who
claim credit for lofty and disinterested principles of action?
Recollect that you have represented us as the worthy men who have
turned into ridicule Lamb, Keats, Hazlitt, Coleridge--(diverse
metals curiously graduated!)--all in short, who, recently dead, are
now dividing among them the admiration of their country. Whatever
could lessen their estimation; whatever could injure their fortune;
whatever could make their poverty more bitter; whatever could tend
to cast down their aspirations after fame; whatever had a tendency
to drive them to the grave which now has opened to them, was
incessantly brought into action against them by _us_ zealots for
religion and laws. A more deliberate, a more torturing murder, never
was committed, than the murder of Keats. The chief perpetrator of
his murder knew beforehand that he could not be hanged for it. These
are your words, Mr. Landor.
_Landor_.--I do not deny them.
_North_.--And in regard to the taste of the common public for
Blackwood's Cordials, you have said that, to those who are
habituated to the gin-shop, the dram is sustenance, and they feel
themselves both uncomfortable and empty without the hot excitement.
_Blackwood's_ is really a gin-palace. _Landor_.--All this I have
both said and printed, and the last sentence you have just read from
my satire is preceded by one that you have not read. An exposure of
the impudence and falsehood of _Blackwood's Magazine_ is not likely
to injure its character, _or diminish the number of its subscribers_;
and in this sentence you have the secret of my desire to become a
contributor to _Blackwood_. I want a popular vehicle to convey my
censures to the world, especially on Wordsworth. I do not pretend to
have any love for you and your brotherhood, Mr. North. But I dislike
you less than I do Wordsworth; and I frankly own to you, that the
fame of that man is a perpetual blister to my self-love.
_North_.--Your habitual contemplation of his merits has confused
you into a notion that they are your own, and you think him an
usurper of the laurel crown that is yours by the divine right of
genius. What an unhappy monomania! Still, your application for
redress to us is unaccountable. You should know that we Black
Foresters, lawless as you may suppose us, are Wordsworth's liegemen.
He is our intellectual Chief. We call him the General! We are ever
busy in promoting his fame.
_Landor_.--You are always blowing hot and cold on it, and have
done so for years past. One month you place him among the stars, the
next as low as the daisies.
_North_.--And rightly too; for both are the better for his presence.
_Landor_.--But you alternately worship and insult him, as some
people do their wooden idols.
_North_.--If you must learn the truth, then, he has been to us, in
one sense, nothing better than an unfeeling wooden idol. Some of us
have been provoked by his indifference to our powers of annoyance,
and his ingratitude in not repaying eulogy in kind. We have among
ourselves a gander or two, (no offence, Mr. Landor,) that,
forgetting they are webfooted, pretend to a perch on the tall
bay-tree of Apollo, and, though heavy of wing, are angry with
Wordsworth for not encouraging their awkward flights. They, like you,
accuse him of jealousy, forsooth! That is the reason that they are
now gabbling at his knees, now hissing at his heels. Moreover, our
caprices are not unuseful to our interests. We alternately pique and
soothe readers by them, and so keep our customers. As day is
partitioned between light and darkness, so has the public taste as
to Wordsworth been divided between his reverers and the followers of
the Jeffrey heresy. After a lengthened winter, Wordsworth's glory is
now in the long summer days; all good judgments that lay torpid have
been awakened, and the light prevails against the darkness. But as
bats and owls, the haters of light, are ever most restless in the
season when nights are shortest, so are purblind egotists most
uneasy when their dusky range is contracted by the near approach and
sustained ascendancy of genius. We now put up a screen for the
weak-sighted, now withdraw it from stronger eyes; thus we plague and
please all parties.
_Landor_.--Except Wordsworth, whose eyelids are too tender to
endure his own lustre reflected and doubled on the focus of your
burnished brass. He dreads the fate of Milton, "blasted with excess
_North_. Thank you, sir; that is an ingenious way of accounting for
Wordsworth's neglect of our luminous pages. Yet it rather sounds
like irony, coming from Mr. Walter Savage Landor to the editor of
"The (Not Gentleman's) Magazine."
_Landor_.--Pshaw! still harping on my Satire.
_North_.--In that Satire you have charged Wordsworth with having
talked of Southey's poetry as not worth five shillings a ream. So
long as you refrained from _publishing_ this invidious imputation,
even those few among Wordsworth's friends who knew that you had
_printed_ it, (Southey himself among the number,) might think it
discreet to leave the calumny unregarded. But I observe that you
have renewed it, in a somewhat aggravated form, in the Article that
you now wish me to publish. You here allege that Wordsworth
represented Southey as an author, _all_ whose poetry was not worth
five shillings. You and I both know that Wordsworth would not deign
to notice such an accusation. Through good and evil report, the
brave man persevered in his ascent to the mountain-top, without ever
even turning round to look upon the rabble that was hooting him from
its base; and he is not likely now to heed such a charge as this.
But his friends may now ask, on what authority it is published? Was
it to you, Mr. Walter Landor, whom Southey (in his strange affection
for the name of Wat) had honoured with so much kindness--to you
whose "matin chirpings" he had so generously encouraged, (as he did
John Jones's "mellower song,")--was it to you that Wordsworth
delivered so injurious a judgment on the works of your patron? If so,
what was your reply? 
"I lagg'd; he (Southey) call'd me; urgent to prolong
My matin chirpings into mellower song."--LANDON. ]
_Landor_.--Whether it was expressed to myself or not, is of little
consequence; it has been studiously repeated, and even printed by
others as well as by me.
_Landor_.--That, too, is of no importance to the fact.
_North_.--I am thoroughly convinced that it is no fact, and that
Wordsworth never uttered any thing like such an opinion in the sense
that you report it. He and Southey have been constant neighbours and
intimate friends for forty years; there has never been the slightest
interruption to their friendship. Every one that knows Wordsworth is
aware of his frank and fearless openness in conversation. He has
been beset for the last half century, not only by genuine admirers,
but by the curious and idle of all ranks and of many nations,
and sometimes by envious and designing listeners, who have
misrepresented and distorted his casual expressions. Instances of
negligent and infelicitous composition are numerous in Southey, as
in most voluminous authors. Suppose some particular passage of this
kind to have been under discussion, and Mr. Wordsworth to have
exclaimed, "I would not give five shillings a ream for such poetry
as that." Southey himself would only smile, (he had probably heard
Wordsworth express himself to the same effect a hundred times); but
some insidious hearer catches at the phrase, and reports it as
Wordsworth's sweeping denunciation of all the poetry that his friend
has ever written, in defiance of all the evidence to the contrary to
be met with, not only in Wordsworth's every-day conversation, but in
his published works. There is no man for whose genius Mr. Wordsworth
has more steadily or consistently testified his admiration than for
Southey's; there is none for whom, and for whose character, he has
evinced more affection and respect. You and I, who have both read
his works, and walked and talked with the Old Man of the Mountain,
know that perfectly well. You have perhaps been under his roof, at
Rydal Mount? I have; and over his dining-room fireplace I observed,
as hundreds of his visitors must have done, five portraits--Chaucer's,
Bacon's, Spenser's, Shakspeare's, and Milton's, in one line. On the
same line is a bust on the right of these, and a portrait on the left;
and there are no other ornaments on that wall of the apartment. That
bust and that portrait are both of Southey, the man whom you pretend
he has so undervalued! By the bye, no one has been more ardent in
praise of Wordsworth than yourself.
_Landor_.--You allude to the first dialogue between Southey and
Porson, in Vol. i. of my _Imaginary Conversations_.
_North_.--Not to that only, though in that dialogue there are
sentiments much at variance with those which you would now give out
as Porson's. For example, remember what Porson there says of the
_Landor_.--The most fervid expression in commendation of it is
printed as Porson's improperly, as the whole context shows. It
should have been Southey's.
_North_.--So, I perceive, you say in this new dialogue; and such a
mode of attempting to turn your back on yourself, to borrow a phrase
from your friend Lord Castlereagh's rhetoric, will be pronounced,
even by those who do not care a bawbee about the debate, as not only
ludicrous, but pitiably shabby. Keep your seat, Mr. Landor, and keep
your temper for once in your life. Let us examine into this
pretended mistake in your former dialogue about _Laodamia_. Well, as
you are up, do me the favour, sir, to mount the ladder, and take
down from yon top shelf the first volume of your _Conversations_. Up
in the corner, on the left hand, next the ceiling. You see I have
given you a high place.
_Landor_.--Here is the book, Mr. North; it is covered with dust
_North_.--The fate of classics, Mr. Landor. They are above the
reach of the housemaid, except when she brings the Turk's Head to
bear upon them. Now, let us turn to the list of _errata_ in this
first volume. We are directed to turn to page 52, line 4, and for
_sugar-bakers_, read _sugar-bakers' wives_. I turn to the page,
and find the error corrected by yourself; as are all the press
errors in these volumes, which were presented by you to a friend. I
bought the whole set for an old song at a sale. You see that the
omitted word _wives_ is carefully supplied by yourself, in your own
handwriting, Mr. Landor. On the same page, only five lines below
this correction, is the identical passage that you would now
transfer from Porson to Southey. Why did you not affix Porson's name
to the passage then, when you were so vigilantly perfecting the very
page? Why does no such correction appear even in the printed list of
_errata_? Let us read the passage. "A current of rich and bright
thoughts runs throughout the poem.  Pindar himself would not, on that
subject, have braced one into more nerve and freshness, nor
Euripides have inspired into it more tenderness and passion."
[Footnote 114: Vol. i. p. 52.]
_Landor_.--Mr. North, I repeat that that sentence should have been
printed as Southey's, not Porson's.
_North_.--Yet it is quite consistent with a preceding sentence
which you can by no ingenuity of after-thought withdraw from Porson;
for the whole context forbids the possibility of its transition.
What does Porson there testify of the _Laodamia_? That it is
"_a composition such as Sophocles might have exulted to own_!"--and
a part of one of its stanzas "_might have been heard with shouts of
rapture in the Elysium the poet describes_." 
[Footnote 115: Vol. i. p. 51. Few persons will think that Mr. Landor's
drift, which is obvious enough, could be favoured if these passages
could be _all_ shuffled over to Mr. Southey. It would be unwise and
inconsistent in Mr. Landor of all men to intimate that Southey's
judgment in poetry was inferior to Porson's; for Southey has been so
singular as to laud some of Mr. Landor's, and Mr. Landor has been so
grateful as to proclaim Southey the sole critic of modern times who
has shown "a delicate perception in poetry." It is rash, too, in him
to insinuate that Southey's opinion could be influenced by his
friendship; for he, the most amiable of men, was nevertheless a
friend of Mr. Lander also. But the only object of this argument is
to show how mal-adroitly Mr. Landor plays at thimblerig. He lets us
see him shift the pea. As for the praise and censure contained in
his dialogues, we have no doubt that any one concerned willingly
makes him a present of both. It is but returning bad money to
Diogenes. It is all Mr. Landor's; and, lest there should be any
doubt about the matter, he has taken care to tell us that he has not
inserted in his dialogues a single sentence written by, or recorded
of, the persons who are supposed to hold them.--See Vol. i. p. 96,
end of note.]
These expressions are at least as fervid as those which you would
reclaim from Porson, now that, like a pettifogging practitioner, you
want to retain him as counsel against the most illustrious of
Southey's friends--the individual of whom in this same dialogue you
cause Southey to ask, "What man ever existed who spent a more retired,
a more inoffensive, a more virtuous life, than Wordsworth, or who
has adorned it with nobler studies?"--and what does Porson answer?
"I believe so; I have always heard it; and _those who attack
him with virulence or with levity are men of no morality and no
reflection_."  Thus you print Wordsworth's praise in rubric,
and fix it on the walls, and then knock your head against them. You
must have a hard skull, Mr. Landor.
[Footnote 116: Vol. i. p. 40.]
_Landor_.--Be civil, Mr. North, or I will brain you.
_North_.--Pooh, pooh, man! all your Welsh puddles, which you call
pools, wouldn't hold my brains. To return to your proffered article,
there is one very ingenious illustration in it. "Diamonds sparkle
the most brilliantly on heads stricken by the palsy."
_Landor_.--Yes; I flatter myself that I have there struck out a
new and beautiful, though somewhat melancholy thought.
_North_.--New! My good man, it isn't yours; you have purloined
_North_.--From the very poet you would disparage--Wordsworth.
"Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
From the palsy-shaken head."
Those lines have been in print above twenty years.
_Landor_.--An untoward coincidence of idea between us.
_North_.--Both original, no doubt; only, as Puff says in the
_Critic_, one of you thought of it the first, that's all. But how
busy would Wordsworth be, and how we should laugh at him for his
pains, if he were to set about reclaiming the thousands of ideas
that have been pilfered from him, and have been made the staple of
volumes of poems, sermons, and philosophical treatises without end!
He makes no stir about such larcenies. And what a coil have you made
about that eternal sea-shell, which you say he stole from you, and
which, we know, is the true and trivial cause of your hostility
_Landor_.--Surely I am an ill-used man, Mr. North. My poetry, if
not worth five shillings, nor thanks, nor acknowledgment, was yet
worth borrowing and putting on. I, the author of _Gebir_, Mr. North,
--do you mark me?
_North_.--Yes; the author of Gebir and Gebirus; think of that, St.
Crispin and Crispanus!
"Sing me the fates of Gebir, and the Nymph
Who challenged Tamar to a wrestling match,
And on the issue pledged her precious shell.
Above her knees she drew the robe succinct;
Above her breast, and just below her arms.
'She, rushing at him, closed, and floor'd him flat.
And carried off the prize, a bleating sheep;
The sheep she carried easy as a cloak,
And left the loser blubbering from his fall,
And for his vanish'd mutton. Nymph divine!
I cannot wait describing how she came;
My glance first lighted on her nimble feet;
Her feet resembled those long shells explored
By him who, to befriend his steed's dim sight,
Would blow the pungent powder in his eye.'" 
Is that receipt for horse eye-powder to be found in White's Farriery,
[Footnote 117: The lines within inverted commas, are Mr. Landor's,
_Landor_.--Perhaps not, Mr. North. Will you cease your fooling,
and allow me to proceed? "I," the author of _Gebir_, "never lamented
when I believed it lost." The MS. was mislaid at my grandmother's,
and lay undiscovered for four years. "I saw it neglected; and never
complained. Southey and Forster have since given it a place whence
men of lower stature are in vain on tiptoe to take it down. It would
have been honester and more decorous if the writer of certain verses
had mentioned from what bar he took his wine."  Now keep your ears
open, Mr. North; I will read my verses first, and then Wordsworth's.
Here they are. I always carry a copy of them both in my pocket. Listen!
[Footnote 118: Mr. Landor's printed complaint, _verbatim_, from his
"Satire on Satirists."]
_North_.--List, oh list! I am all attention, Mr. Landor.
"But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
Within, and they that lustre have imbibed
In the sun's palace-porch, where, when unyoked,
His chariot-wheel stands midway in the wave."
"Shake one, and it awakens--then apply
Its polish'd lip to your attentive ear,
And it remembers its august abodes,
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there."
These are lines for you, sir! They are mine. What do you think of
_North_.--I think very well of them; they remind one of
Coleridge's "Eolian Harp." They are very pretty lines, Mr. Landor. I
have written some worse myself.
_Landor_--So has Wordsworth. Attend to the echo in the _Excursion_.
"I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipp'd shell,
To which, in silence hush'd, his very soul
Listen'd intensely, and his countenance soon
Brighten'd with joy; for, murmuring from within,
Were heard sonorous cadences, whereby,
To his belief, the monitor express'd
Mysterious union with its native sea."
_North_.--There is certainly much resemblance between the two
passages; and, so far as you have recited Wordsworth's, his is not
superior to yours; which very likely, too, suggested it; though that
is by no means a sure deduction, for the thought itself is as common
as the sea-shell you describe, and, in all probability, at least as
old as the Deluge.
_Landor_.--"_It is but justice to add, that this passage has been
the most admired of any in Mr. Wordsworth's great poem_." 
[Footnote 119: From Mr. Landor, _verbatim_.]
_North_.--Hout, tout, man! The author of the _Excursion_ could
afford to spare you a thousand finer passages, and he would seem
none the poorer. As to the imputed plagiarism, Wordsworth would no
doubt have avowed it had he been conscious that it was one, and that
you could attach so much importance to the honour of having reminded
him of a secret in conchology, known to every old nurse in the
country, as well as to every boy or girl that ever found a shell on
the shore, or was tall enough to reach one off a cottage parlour
mantelpiece; but which he could apply to a sublime and reverent
purpose, never dreamed of by them or you. It is in the application
of the familiar image, that we recognise the master-hand of the
poet. He does not stop when he has described the toy, and the
effect of air within it. The lute in Hamlet's hands is not more
philosophically dealt with. There is a pearl within Wordsworth's
shell, which is not to be found in your's, Mr. Landor. He goes on:--
"Even such a shell the universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it cloth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things--
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power,
And central peace subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation."
These are the lines of a poet, who not only stoops to pick up a
shell now and then, as he saunters along the sea-shore, but who is
accustomed to climb to the promontory above, and to look upon the
ocean of things:--
"From those imaginative heights that yield
Far-stretching views into eternity."
Do not look so fierce again, Mr. Landor. You who are so censorious of
self-complacency in others, and indeed of all other people's faults,
real or imagined, should endure to have your vanity rebuked.
_Landor_.--I have no vanity. I am too proud to be vain.
_North_.--Proud of what?
_Landor_.--Of something beyond the comprehension of a Scotchman,
Mr. North--proud of my genius.
_North_.--Are you so very great a genius, Mr. Landor?
_Landor_.--I am. _Almighty Homer is twice far above Troy and her
towers, Olympus and Jupiter. First, when Priam bends before Achilles,
and a second time, when the shade of Agamemnon speaks among the dead.
That awful spectre, called up by genius in after-time, shook the
Athenian stage. That scene was ever before me; father and daughter
were ever in my sight; I felt their looks, their words, and again I
gave them form and utterance; and, with proud humility, I say it_--
"I am tragedian in this scene alone.
Station the Greek and Briton side by side
And if derision be deserved--deride."
_Surely there can be no fairer method of overturning an offensive
reputation, from which the scaffolding is not yet taken down, than
by placing against it the best passages, and most nearly parallel,
in the subject, from AEschylus and Sophocles. To this labour the
whole body of the Scotch critics and poets are invited, and, moreover,
to add the ornaments of translation_. 
[Footnote 120: This strange rhapsody is verily Mr. Landor's. It is
extracted from his "Satire on the Satirists."]
_North_.--So you are not only a match for AEschylus and Sophocles,
but on a par with "almighty Homer when he is far above Olympus and
Jove." Oh! ho! ho! As you have long since recorded that modest
opinion of yourself in print, and not been lodged in Bedlam for it,
I will not now take upon myself to send for a straight-waistcoat.
_Landor_.--Is this the treatment I receive fron the Editor of
_Blackwood's Magazine_, in return for my condescension in offering
him my assistance? Give me back my manuscript, sir. I was indeed a
fool to come hither. I see how it is. You Scotchmen are all alike.
We consider no part of God's creation so cringing, so insatiable, so
ungrateful as the Scotch: nevertheless, we see them hang together by
the claws, like bats; and they bite and scratch you to the bone if
you attempt to put an Englishman in the midst of them.  But you
shall answer for this usage, Mr. North: you shall suffer for it.
These two fingers have more power than all your malice, sir, even if
you had the two Houses of Parliament to back you. A pen! You shall
live for it. 
[Footnote 121: Imaginary Conversations, vol. iv, p. 283.]
[Footnote 122: Ibid. vol. i. p. 126.]
_North_.--Fair and softly, Mr. Landor; I have not rejected your
article yet. I am going to be generous. Notwithstanding all your
abuse of Blackwood and his countrymen, I consent to exhibit you to
the world as a Contributor to _Blackwood's Magazine_, and, in the
teeth of all your recorded admiration of Wordsworth, I will allow
you to prove yourself towards him a more formidable critic than
Wakley, and a candidate for immortality with Lauder. Do you rue?
_Landor_.--Not at all. I have past the Rubicon.
_North_.--Is that a pun? It is worthy of Plato. Mr. Landor, you
have been a friend of Wordsworth. But, as _he_ says--
"What is friendship? Do not trust her,
Nor the vows which she has made;
Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
From the palsy-shaken head."
_Landor_.--I have never professed friendship for him.
_North_.--You have professed something more, then. Let me read a
short poem to you, or at least a portion of it. It is an "Ode to
That other men should work for me
In the rich mines of poesy,
Pleases me better than the toil
Of smoothing, under harden'd hand,
With attic emery and oil,
The shining point for wisdom's wand,
Like those THOU temperest 'mid the rills
Descending from thy native hills.
He who would build his fame up high,
The rule and plummet must apply,
Nor say--I'll do what I have plann'd,
Before he try if loam or sand
Be still remaining in the place
Delved for each polish'd pillar's base.
_With skilful eye and fit device_
THOU _raisest every edifice_:
Whether in shelter'd vale it stand,
Or overlook the Dardan strand,
Amid those cypresses that mourn
Laodamia's love forlorn."
Four of the brightest intellects that ever adorned any age or country.
are then named, and a fifth who, though not equal to the least of
them, is not unworthy of their company; and what follows?
"I wish them every joy above
That highly blessed spirits prove,
Save one, and that too shall be theirs,
But after many rolling years,
WHEN 'MID THEIR LIGHT THY LIGHT APPEARS."
Here are Chaucer, Shakspeare, Milton, Spenser, Dryden too, all in
bliss above, yet not to be perfectly blest till the arrival of
Wordsworth among them! Who wrote that, Mr. Landor? 
[Footnote 123: Whom Mr. L., who is the most capricious as well as the
most arrogant of censors, sometimes takes into favour.]
_Landor_.--I did, Mr. North.
_North_.--Sir, I accept your article. It shall be published in
_Blackwood's Magazine_. Good-morning, sir.
_Landor_.--Good-day, sir. Let me request your particular attention
to the correction of the press. (_Landor retires_.)
_North_.--He is gone! Incomparable Savage! I cannot more
effectually retaliate upon him for all his invectives against us
than by admitting his gossiping trash into the Magazine. No part of
the dialogue will be mistaken for Southey's; nor even for Porson's
inspirations from the brandy-bottle.
All the honour due to the author will be exclusively Mr. Walter
Savage Landor's; and, as it is certainly "not worth five shillings,"
no one will think it "worth borrowing or putting on."
* * * * *
THE BURIAL MARCH OF DUNDEE.
Sound the fife, and raise the slogan--let the pibroch shake the air
With its wild triumphal music, worthy of the freight we bear;
Let the ancient hills of Scotland hear once more the battle song
Swell within their glens and valleys as the clansmen march along.
Never, from the field of combat, never from the deadly fray,
Was a nobler trophy carried than we bring with us to-day:
Never, since the valiant Douglas in his dauntless bosom bore
Good King Robert's heart--the priceless--to our dear Redeemer's shore!
Lo! we bring with us the hero--Lo! we bring the conquering Graeme,
Crown'd as best beseems a victor from the altar of his fame;
Fresh and bleeding from the battle whence his spirit took its flight
Midst the crashing charge of squadrons, and the thunder of the fight!
Strike, I say, the notes of triumph, as we march o'er moor and lea,
Is there any here will venture to bewail our dead Dundee?
Let the widows of the traitors weep until their eyes are dim;
Wail ye may indeed for Scotland--let none dare to mourn for him!
See, above his glorious body lies the royal banner's fold--
See, his valiant blood is mingled with its crimson and its gold--
See how calm he looks and stately, like a warrior on his shield,
Waiting till the flush of morning breaks upon the battle field.
See--O never more, my comrades! shall we see that falcon eye
Kindle with its inward lightning, as the hour of fight drew nigh;
Never shall we hear the voice that, clearer than the trumpet's call,
Bade us strike for King and Country, bade us win the field or fall!
On the heights of Killiecrankie yester-morn our army lay:
Slowly rose the mist in columns from the river's broken way,
Hoarsely roar'd the swollen torrent, and the pass was wrapp'd in gloom
When the clansmen rose together from their lair among the broom.
Then we belted on our tartans, and our bonnets down we drew,
And we felt our broadswords' edges, and we proved them to be true,
And we pray'd the prayer of soldiers, and we cried the gathering cry,
And we clasp'd the hands of kinsmen, and we swore to do or die!
Then our leader rode before us on his war-horse black as night--
Well the Cameronian rebels knew that charger in the fight!--
And a cry of exultation from the bearded warriors rose,
For we loved the house of Claver'se, and we thought of good Montrose.
But he raised his hand for silence--"Soldiers, I have sworn a vow;
Ere the evening star shall glisten on Schehallion's lofty brow,
Either we shall rest in triumph, or another of the Graemes
Shall have died in battle harness for his country and King James!
Think upon the Royal Martyr--think of what his race endure--
Think on him whom butchers murder'd on the field of Magus Muir;--
By his sacred blood I charge ye--by the ruin'd hearth and shrine--
By the blighted hopes of Scotland--by your injuries and mine--
Strike this day as if the anvil lay beneath your blows the while,
Be they Covenanting traitors, or the brood of false Argyle!
Strike! and drive the trembling rebels backwards o'er the stormy Forth;
Let them tell their pale Convention how they fared within the North.
Let them tell that Highland honour is not to be bought nor sold,
That we scorn their Prince's anger, as we loathe his foreign gold.
Strike! and when the fight is over, if ye look in vain for me,
Where the dead are lying thickest, search for him who was Dundee!"
Loudly then the hills re-echo'd with our answer to his call,
But a deeper echo sounded in the bosoms of us all.
For the lands of wide Breadalbane, not a man who heard him speak
Would that day have left the battle. Burning eye and flushing cheek
Told the clansmen's fierce emotion, and they harder drew their breath,
For their souls were strong within them, stronger than the grasp of
Soon we heard a challenge-trumpet sounding in the pass below,
And the distant tramp of horses, and the voices of the foe;
Down we crouch'd amid the bracken, till the Lowland ranks drew near,
Panting like the hounds in summer when they scent the stately deer.
From the dark defile emerging, next we saw the squadrons come,
Leslie's foot and Leven's troopers marching to the tuck of drum;
Through the scatter'd wood of birches, o'er the broken ground and heath,
Wound the long battalion slowly till they gain'd the field beneath,
Then we bounded from our covert.--Judge how look'd the Saxons then,
When they saw the rugged mountain start to life with armed men!
Like a tempest down the ridges swept the hurricane of steel,
Rose the slogan of Macdonald--flash'd the broadsword of Lochiel!
Vainly sped the withering volley 'mongst the foremost of our band,
On we pour'd until we met them, foot to foot, and hand to hand.
Horse and man went down like drift-wood, when the floods are black at
And their carcasses are whirling in the Garry's deepest pool.
Horse and man went down before us--living foe there tarried none
On the field of Killiecrankie, when that stubborn fight was done!
And the evening star was shining on Schehallion's distant head,
When we wiped our bloody broadswords and return'd to count the dead.
There we found him, gash'd and gory, stretch'd upon the cumber'd plain,
As he told us where to seek him, in the thickest of the slain.
And a smile was on his visage, for within his dying ear
Peal'd the joyful note of triumph and the clansmen's clamorous cheer;
So, amidst the battle's thunder, shot, and steel, and scorching flame,
In the glory of his manhood pass'd the spirit of the Graeme!
Open wide the vaults of Athol, where the bones of heroes rest--
Open wide the hallow'd portals to receive another guest!
Last of Scots, and last of freemen--last of all that dauntless race,
Who would rather die unsullied than outlive the land's disgrace!
O thou lion-hearted warrior! reck not of the after-time,
Honour may be deem'd dishonour, loyalty be called a crime.
Sleep in peace with kindred ashes of the noble and the true,
Hands that never fail'd their country, hearts that never baseness knew.
Sleep, and till the latest trumpet wakes the dead from earth and sea,
Scotland shall not boast a braver chieftain than our own Dundee!
* * * * *
LORD ELLENBOROUGH AND THE WHIGS.
The period of a single year but just elapsed has exhibited in the
neighbourhood of the Indus events of the most memorable and
momentous kind. Disasters the most disgraceful have been
endured--victories the most brilliant have been achieved. The policy
and the fortunes of a mighty empire under one governor, have been
wholly reversed under another. Safety and security have been
substituted for danger and dismay--a strong and dignified peace for
a weak and aggressive war. These changes have been coincident with a
great revolution in domestic politics. Under Whig auspices those
evils had arisen which their successors have now redressed. Under
the administration of Whigs, that flood of calamity was opened up
which has been arrested without their aid; but which could not have
continued its threatened course without the most perilous
consequences to the country, and the heaviest burden of responsibility
on the authors of the mischief.
In such circumstances it might have been expected--if manly courage
or common decency were to be looked for in such a quarter--that on
these Eastern questions the Whig party should this session have
followed one or other of two courses: either that they should have
taken a bold line of opposition, and vindicated their own Indian
policy, while they attacked that of their successors: or that they
should have preserved a prudent silence on subjects where they could
say nothing in their own praise, and have only lifted up their voice
to join the general acclamations of the country for successes in
which, though not achieved by themselves, they had the best reason
to rejoice, as shielding them from the ignominy and punishment which,
in an opposite event, would have been poured out by public
indignation on the heads of the original wrongdoers.
A strong or an honest party would have chosen one or other of these
lines. But the Whigs are neither strong nor honest; and they have
accordingly, in the late Indian discussions in Parlament, pursued a
course of policy in which it is difficult to say whether feebleness
or fraud be the more conspicuous. They have not ventured to
vindicate their own conduct in invading the Affghan country: they
have not dared to dispute the wisdom of their successors in retiring
from it, when the object of a just retribution was accomplished. But
while driven from these points--while forced to acknowledge the
ability and judgment with which the present Governor-General has
applied the forces of the empire to retrieve our honour and
reputation in the East--while unable to point to a single practical
measure as either improperly taken, or improperly omitted by him,
the Whigs could not refrain, on some pretext or other, from marring
the general joy by the discordant hissings of an impotent envy.
Experiencing in an unparalleled degree both the indulgence of a
generous nation, who are willing to forget the past in the enjoyment
of the present, and the forbearance of high-minded opponents, who
could easily have triumphed in the exposure of their disastrous
blunders, the Whigs have made a characteristic return, by
rancorously assailing the man whom the public views as its benefactor,
with captious criticisms on the terms of a proclamation, or
hypocritical objections to the transmission of a trophy. With that
cunning which the faction have often shown in the use of apparent
opportunities, they gained the reluctant concurrence of a few upright
men, of whose peculiar scruples they contrived to avail themselves,
but with an ignorance of the true English character, for which they
are equally distinguished, they overshot the mark, and stand
convicted of a design to make a verbal misconstruction the pretence
for persecuting an absent man, and to convert honest prejudices into
an unconscious instrument of oppression. They have thus earned a
large allowance of general contempt, and they have nowhere, perhaps,
excited a stronger feeling of disgust than in the minds of those who
thought themselves compelled, by a rigid conscience, to give a
seeming concurrence to their proceedings.
In judging of the conduct and position of Lord Ellenborough, it were
gross ingratitude and injustice to forget the nature of the
calamities with which India was assailed and threatened at the
commencement of his goverment. In the second week of March 1842, the
overland mail from the East conveyed intelligence to our shores which
struck the nation to the very heart, and spread one universal
feeling of grief and dismay, approaching for a time as near to a
feeling of despondency as English breasts can be taught to know. Let
us describe the effect in the words of an impartial observer writing
at the time:--
"No such disastrous news has for many years reached this country as
that which has arrived from India. 'The progress of our arms' was
carried merrily on, till our flag was set beside that of our puppet,
Shah Soojah, in Cabul; but there the progress has abruptly
terminated in the total engulfing of 'our arms.' Yes, Sir William
Macnaghten had just written home to declare our supremacy established,
when all Cabul rose beneath his feet. Sir Alex. Burnes was the first
swallowed in the earthquake of arms; next Sir William himself,
governor of Bombay, and representative of the power of England in
North-Western India, was destroyed, and his mutilated remains were
made the object of ignominious ribaldry; and at length, if very
general rumour is to be believed, the English army of occupation has
been literally expunged. Corunna, Walcheren, all the reverses that
have chequered our military career, baffle the memory to find a
parallel to the utter defeat which, in the eyes of the barbarians of
the Indian frontier, has crushed our power."--_Spectator_, p. 242.
These were the feelings that possessed this country, and which wrung,
even from the Whigs, with every wish to palliate them, an
acknowledgment of the heavy disasters which had befallen us. Pressed
with the weight of these convictions, Mr. Macaulay, in a debate on
the Income-tax, in April 1842, after _cannily_ disclaiming any
responsibility for the Affghan invasion, as having been effected
before he joined the Government, was driven to deplore these
military reverses as the greatest disaster that had ever befallen us:
and added, somewhat incongruously:--
"He did not anticipate, if we acted with vigour, the least danger to
our empire; though it must always be remembered that a great
Mahometan success could not but fall like a spark upon tinder, and
act on the freemasonry of Islamism from Morocco to Coromandel."
What, then, must have been the feeling in India, in the very focus of
this calamitous visitation? Lord Auckland's despatches, now made
public, will tell us what _he_ felt. That he contemplated from the
first the total and instant evacuation of Affghanistan, without
attempting a blow for the vindication of our honour, or the release
of the prisoners, is past all dispute, from documents under his own
hand. Whether he is to be blamed for this resolution, or for the
state of matters which rendered it necessary, is not here the
question. But the fact is remarkable, as throwing further light on
the effrontery of the Whigs. Lord Palmerston, in last August,
twitted the Ministry with Lord Ellenborough's supposed intention to
retire from beyond the Indus, and congratulated the country on the
frustration of that intention, as having saved us "from the eternal
disgrace." He was answered by the Prime Minister at the time in
terms that might have been a warning, and that are now no longer a
"The noble lord presumed much on my forbearance, in what he said with
respect to the Affghan war: and I will not be betrayed by any
language of his to forget what I owe to the public service in
replying to him. It is easy to say, why don't you move troops to
Candahar; and why don't you move troops somewhere else? The noble
lord finds no difficulty in this; but does he recollect that 26,000
camels, carrying the baggage of the troops in Affghanistan, were
sacrificed before they reached it? The noble lord says, 'Who
contemplated the abandonment of Affghanistan?' _I could tell the
noble lord_. Beware, I say; let the noble lord beware of
indiscriminate reflections upon those in office."
It is now known "_who_ contemplated the abandonment of Affghanistan,"
without a struggle to punish the perfidy of the Affghans, to avenge
the insults to our honour, or to redress the wrongs of our countrymen.
Lord Auckland resolved on this course, without even an aspiration
after any thing better than a safe retreat. Nor is such a resolution
to be wondered at when the state of our military preparations is
considered. A letter from Sir Jasper Nicolls, of 24th January 1842,
to the statements in which we see no contradiction in the _Blue Book_,
exhibits at once the condition of our resources, and the feelings of
the head of the Indian army.
"After I had dispatched my letter to your Lordship in Council, I
received the note, of which I transmit a copy herewith, from the
Adjutant-General, and I had a second discussion with Mr. Clerk on the
subject of holding our ground at Jellalabad against any Affghan
power or force, in view to retrieving our position at Cabul, by
advancing upon it, at the fit season, simultaneously from Candahar
to Jellalabad. Having thus regained our position, and the influence
which such proof of power must give, not only in Affghanistan but
amongst all the neighbouring states, we should withdraw with dignity
and undiminished honour. Admitting the undeniable force of this
argument, I am greatly inclined to doubt that we have at present
either army or funds sufficient to renew this contest. Money may,
perhaps, be attainable, but soldiers are not, without leaving India
bare. Shortly before I left Calcutta, there were at least 33,000 men
in our pay in Affghanistan and Scinde, including Shah Soojah's troops,
but not the rabble attached to his person. How insufficient that
number has been to awe the barbarous and at first disunited tribes
of Affghanistan and Scinde, our numerous conflicts, our late reverses,
and our heavy losses fully prove. I admit that a blind confidence in
persons around the late envoy--a total want of forethought and
foresight on his part--unaccountable indecision at first,
followed by cessions which, day by day, rendered our force more
helpless--inactivity, perhaps, on some occasions--have led to these
reverses; but we must not overlook the effects of climate, the
difficulty of communication, the distance from our frontier, and the
fanatical zeal of our opponents. No doubt your lordship can cause an
army to force its way to Cabul, if you think our name and
predominance in India cannot otherwise be supported; but our means
are utterly insufficient to insure our dominion over that country.
If this be granted, the questions for your lordship's decision
are--whether we shall retake Cabul, to assert our paramount power;
and whether, if we subsequently retire, our subjects and neighbours
will not attribute our withdrawal even then, to conscious inability
to hold the country."
In the same spirit the Commander-in-chief, in the beginning of
February transmitted to General Pollock, with the acquiescence of
lord Auckland, to whom he communicated his letter, the following
explanation of the views of Government:--
"You may deem it perfectly certain that Government will not do more
than detach this brigade, and this in view to support Major-General
Sale, either at Jellalabad for a few weeks, or to aid his retreat;
very probably also to strengthen the Sikhs at Peshawar for some time.
It is not intended to collect a force for the reconquest of Cabul.
You will convey the preceding paragraph, if you safely can, to the
Such being the desponding views of the authorities stationed on the
spot, what must have been the anxiety of the new Governor-General on
his arrival in India, when this scene of disaster suddenly opened
upon him with a succession of still further calamities in its train?
We cannot better describe his position than in the words of Sir
Robert Peel, in his speech on the Whig motion for censure--
"The moment he set foot in Madras, what intelligence met him!--the
day he arrived at Benares, what a succession of events took place,
calculated to disturb the firmest mind, and to infuse apprehensions
into the breast of the boldest man! It has been said the cry in
England was, 'What next?' That was a question which Lord
Ellenborough had to put to himself for four or five days after his
arrival. He lands at Madras on the 15th of February, presuming at
the time that his predecessor had secured the admirable position so
frequently spoken of in Affghanistan. He lands at Madras, after a
four months' voyage, in necessary ignorance of all that had occurred
in that interval of time, and to his astonishment he hears of the
insurrection at Cabul. He receives tidings that Sir William
Macnaghten and Sir Alexander Burnes, the envoy and representative of
the British Government, had been murdered; that the city was in a
state of insurrection, and that doubts were entertained as to the
security of the British army. What next? He arrives at Calcutta, and
there hears of the orders of his predecessor to hasten the
evacuation of Affghanistan, for the noble reason of inflicting as
little discredit as possible upon the British powers. He repairs to
Benares, and there he hears the tremendous news that not only you
had lost power in Affghanistan, but that you had so depressed the
spirits and shaken the confidence of the native army, that General
Pollock gives this melancholy account in a letter to Captain M'Gregor:
--'It must no doubt appear to you and Sale most extraordinary, that,
with the force I have here, I do not at once move on; God knows it
has been my anxious wish to do so, but I have been helpless. I came
on ahead to Peshawar to arrange for an advance, but was saluted with
a report of 1900 sick, and a bad feeling among the Sepoys. I visited
the hospitals, and endeavoured to encourage by talking to them, but
they had no heart. On the 1st instant the feeling on the part of the
Sepoys broke out, and I had the mortification of knowing that the
Hindoos of four out of five native corps refused to advance. I
immediately took measures to sift the evil, and gradually reaction
has taken place, in the belief that I will wait for the
reinforcements. This has caused me the utmost anxiety on your account;
your situation is never out of my thoughts; but having told you what
I have, you and Sale will at once see that necessity has kept me here.
I verily believe, if I were to attempt to move on now without the
reinforcement, that the four regiments implicated would, as far as
the Hindoos are concerned, stand fast. The case, therefore, now
stands thus--whether I am to attempt, with my present materials, to
advance, and risk the appearance of disaffection or cowardice, which
in such a case could not again be got over, or wait the arrival of a
reinforcement, which will make all sure--this is the real state of
the case. If I attempted now, I might risk you altogether; but if
you can hold out, the reinforcements would make your relief as
certain as any earthly thing can be.' What next? On the 17th of April,
Lord Ellenborough hears of the failure of General England to force
the Kojuck Pass. On the 19th of April he hears that Ghuznee has