’Nobody will suspect us of being so absurd as to suppose that it is possible for people to draw no inferences as to the character of an author from his book, or to shut entirely out of view, in judging of a book, that which they may happen to know about the man who writes it. The cant of the day supposes such things to be practicable; but they are not. But what we complain of and scorn is the extent to which they are carried in the case of this particular individual, as compared with others; the impudence with which things are at once assumed to be facts in regard to his private history; and the absolute unfairness of never arguing from his writings to him, but for evil.
’Take the man, in the first place, as unconnected, in so far as we can thus consider him, with his works; and ask, What, after all, are the bad things we know of him? Was he dishonest or dishonourable? had he ever done anything to forfeit, or even endanger, his rank as a gentleman? Most assuredly, no such accusations have ever been maintained against Lord Byron the private nobleman, although something of the sort may have been insinuated against the author. “But he was such a profligate in his morals, that his name cannot be mentioned with anything like tolerance.” Was he so, indeed? We should like extremely to have the catechising of the individual man who says so. That he indulged in sensual vices, to some extent, is certain, and to be regretted and condemned. But was he worse, as to such matters, than the enormous majority of those who join in the cry of horror upon this occasion? We most assuredly believe exactly the reverse; and we rest our belief upon very plain and intelligible grounds. First, we hold it impossible that the majority of mankind, or that anything beyond a very small minority, are or can be entitled to talk of sensual profligacy as having formed a part of the life and character of the man, who, dying at six and thirty, bequeathed a collection of works such as Byron’s to the world. Secondly, we hold it impossible, that laying the extent of his intellectual labours out of the question, and looking only to the nature of the intellect which generated, and delighted in generating, such beautiful and noble conceptions as are to be found in almost all Lord Byron’s works,—we hold it impossible that very many men can be at once capable of comprehending these conceptions, and entitled to consider sensual profligacy as having formed the principal, or even a principal, trait in Lord Byron’s character. Thirdly, and lastly, we have never been able to hear any one fact established which could prove Lord Byron to deserve anything like the degree or even kind of odium which has, in regard to matters of this class, been heaped upon his name. We have no story of base unmanly seduction, or false and villainous intrigue, against him,—none whatever. It seems to us quite clear, that, if he had been at all what is called in society an unprincipled