Thomas Love Peacock.

Calidore & miscellanea [by] T. Love Peacock. Ed. by Richard Garnett online

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CONTENTS.

Page.

Introduction 7

Recollections of Thomas Love Peacock. By

Sir Edward Strachey, Bart. ... 15

Some Recollections of Childhood ... 24

Calidore : A Fragment of an Unfinished

Romance 32

The Four Ages of Poetry 48

Horae Dramaticae I. — III. .... 71

The Last Day of Windsor Forest . . .143

Index of First Lines of Lyrics in the Nine

Volumes i55




INTRODUCTION.

RATHER up the fragments that remain"
is a precept whose application may be
easily overstrained in the case of the
literary remnants of a favourite author. A much
smaller fraction than half is, in such instances,
usually better than the whole. Peacock's editor
and publisher, however, have agreed, and it is
hoped that the body of his readers will not dissent,
that the complete edition of his novels, which has
now run its course, might be fitly supplemented by
an appendix of minor writings, hitherto uncollected
or not easily accessible. Such a decision is espe-
cially justifiable in the case of a writer whose
slightest production bears the stamp of originality,
and this is pre-eminently the case with Peacock,
whose manner of presenting even a familiar idea is
always distinctively his own. When his robust
independence is associated with a congenial sub-
ject, the effect is very agreeable, — it is like being
made thoroughly at home by one who is thoroughly
at home himself. Peacock seldom responded to
the mere call of a publisher or editor, for such a
call was seldom addressed to him. He was neither



8 Introduction.

popular enough nor needy enough to be frequently
diverted from his own bent, and thus exempt from
taskwork, he could always be fresh and vigorous.
His reputation, it may be hoped, will not suffer
from any of the pieces comprised in the present
volume, some of which contribute new colour and
substance to the biographical outline of the author,
while others are essential to the full exhibition of
his character as a man of letters.

The first of these, however, is not from Peacock's
own pen. It is a paper of reminiscence, for which
the Editor is indebted to the unsolicited kindness
of Sir Edward Strachey, Bart., who, sixty years ago,
saw something and heard more of the Peacock of
the India House. The elder Strachey, known to
the readers of Carlyle as the subject of one of his
ineffaceable etchings of men of marked person-
ality, has a place in history as one of the ablest
home servants of the East India Company, who,
but for some impatience of the official harness,
might probably have risen to the highest place.
He was on cordial terms with his colleague. Pea-
cock, and his son's reminiscences, as gracefully
written as they were gracefully tendered, contribute
something not only to their avowed purpose, but
to the record of the great City house from which
India was so long governed, which has not yet
found an historian.

"Some Recollections of Childhood," on the
other hand, are Peacock's own. They appeared
in Fenthys Miscellany^ and were reprinted as



Introduction. 9

part of a short-lived series, entitled "Tales from
Bentley." They exhibit the writer in a very
amiable point of view, and afford an excellent
illustration of the interest with which apparent
trifles may be invested by one himself interested in
them. In literature, as in painting, Millet's canon
holds, that the chief thing to be considered is
not so much the importance of the object as the
genuineness of the artist's impulse. It is worthy
of remark that a picture, entitled " Recollections
of Childhood," was contributed by Peacock's old
associate, Jefferson Hogg, to Bulwer's Monthly
Chronicle, but only appeared there in part, for the
same reason as that which abbreviated the ballad
on the wise men of Gotham. " It was either too
good or not good enough for the public taste,"
says Hogg, with an evident inclination to the
former hypothesis.

"Calidore," a fragment of an unfinished romance,
is the only absolute novelty from Peacock's pen in
this volume. Several commencements of intended
fictions exist in Peacock's papers; but, though
written with as much care and finish as though
they had received the author's last corrections for
the press, they have in no other instance proceeded
far enough to justify publication. They all belong
to the latter portion of the author's life, with the
exception of " Calidore," which was in all proba-
bility commenced shortly after the publication of
" Melincourt." Like that work, it is an attempt to
construct an elaborate fiction upon a basis only



10 httroduction.

adequate to support a short story. If it had been
compressed within the dimensions of Paul Heyse's
" Centaur," a tale founded upon a similar idea, it
might have been a considerable success, for it
wants neither wit, humour, nor spirit; and the
dialogue is more terse and pointed than usual.
But the difficulty of working the conception out
is tacitly admitted by the great hiatus in the MS.
The Welsh adventures of the hero are suddenly
dropped, and without so much as a rough draft to
show how he got there, he is transferred to London,
where a chapter, penned with as much elaboration
as this singularly careful writer ever gave to any-
thing, conducts to nothing at all. All the rest is
boundless conjecture, chimcBra bombinans in vacuo.
What was written, however, excepting a small
portion which has become obscure from the
accidental imperfection of the MS., seems well
worthy of preservation. It is highly characteristic
of the author's enthusiasm for the past, and of the
alliance which he would fain have effected between
the classical spirit and the genius of romantic
medisevalism, while interesting analogies may be
traced between it and a more celebrated work in-
spired by a similar order of ideas, Heine's " Gods
in Exile." The picture of the habits of Welsh
parsons, utterly inapplicable at the present day, is
probably derived from Peacock's acquaintance
with the clergyman whom he describes in a letter
as "a little, dumpy, drunken, mountain goat."
Peacock's " Four Ages of Poetry " has long ago



Tntrodtiction. 1 1

soared into immortality in the eagle grasp of the
rejoinder which it provoked from Shelley, even
though Shelley's specific references to it have been
omitted. It is sufficiently manifest that if the
author could have obtained an audience as a poet
he would not have sought one as a critic, and the
epithets whimsical and splenetic, may not seem
quite inappropriate. On the other hand, the
analysis of the birth, growth, and decay of poetry
is both just and sagacious, so long as it is limited
to a particular school or country, and it is under-
stood that upon a comprehensive view these
phenomena will ever be found simultaneous, like
birth and death in the human race, or incandes-
cence and extinction in the sidereal universe. It
should further be remarked that the apparently
illiberal treatment of the Lake Poets is far from
expressing the writer's real sentiments. He de-
lighted to gird at Wordsworth, Coleridge, and
Southey, but he also delighted to quote them. In
" Gryll Grange " he eulogises their absolute truth
to Nature, and of Wordsworth he says, in an essay
reprinted in this volume, " He has deep thought,
graceful imaginings, great pathos, and little passion."
— a judgment which, save that it ignores the in-
estimable service performed by the regeneration
of poetic diction, may satisfy any but an ultra-
Wordsworthian,

In " Horae Dramaticae," Peacock appears at his
best as a critic. The themes are worth the labour,
admitting of the eliciting of positive results, and



1 2 Introduction.

the reader lays the essays down with a conscious-
ness of distinct intellectual gain. Three ancient
dramas, one corrupt, one grievously mutilated, one
merely fragmentary, have been restored as perfectly
as circumstances permitted, a substantial conquest
from " the realm of Chaos and old Night."

" The Last Day of Windsor Forest " forms a
fitting conclusion to Peacock's writings, an old
man's reminiscence of an episode memorable in
the history of a place where much of his life had
been passed, and which, after his favourite river,
he loved better than any spot in the world. It
is also in all probability his last composition.
Written, as would seem, for Fraser's Magazine, it
was never sent there, and was first published by the
present writer in the National Review for August
1887.

Several others of Peacock's miscellaneous
articles would have borne reprinting, had the
dimensions of this volume allowed, and two, which
ought to be included in any future edition of his
writings pretending to completeness, are sufficiently
remarkable to demand a brief notice here. The
review of Moore's " Epicurean " in the Westminster
Review iox Oq.\.o\)QX 1827, is really memorable. Pea-
cock was not in general a very formidable assailant
of the men or opinions he disliked, but was for once
so thoroughly exasperated by Moore's caricature of
his favourite philosophy, " drawing a portrait of
everything that an eminent Epicurean was not, and
presenting it to us as a fair specimen of what he



Introduction. 1 3

was," and so well qualified by his own peculiar
range of knowledge to effect and enjoy the exposure
of Moore's misapprehensions as well as his misre-
presentations, that he has for once achieved a
criticism which may fairly be termed annihilating.
He cannot, indeed, distil the corrosive acid of
Carlyle, or unchain the overwhelming torrent of
Macaulay ; his indictment is cumulative ; he re-
turns to the charge again and again ; and, if some-
what tardy in producing the desired effect, leaves
his opponent at last riddled through and through
with' sarcasms. The following may serve as an
example. Moore says :

Among solitary columns and sphinxes, already half sunk
from sight, Time seemed to stand waiting, till all that now
flourished around should fall beneath his desolating hand
like the rest.

Peacock comments : —

The sands of the Libyan desert gaining on Memphis like
a sea is an impressive though not original image, but the
picture is altogether spoiled by the figure of Time standing
waiting. Has Mr Moore forgotten that time and tide wait
neither for men nor sands ? The very essence of the idea of
Time is steady, incessant, interminable progression. If he
has any business in the place, it is as an agent, himself silently
impelling the progress of desolation, not waiting till the sands
have done their work, in order to begin his. And as Mem-
phis was still a flourishing city at least four centuries later
than our very curious specimen of an Epicurean, Time must
have stood waiting for no inconsiderable portion of himself.

This may be a convenient place for recording
that Peacock was the writer of two letters, signed



14 Introduction.

"Phihtmos," in the Times of November 3 and
November 7, 1838, on the unsuccessful attempt
of the Sejnira7jiis in the previous July to steam
against the monsoon from Bombay to Suez, which
prove that any opposition on his part to the Red
Sea route for the Indian mails was by no means
due to any doubt of its practicability for steam-
ships. There are probably other unacknowledged
communications of his on the same subject.




RECOLLECTIONS

OF

THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK.

By Sir Edward Strachey, Bart.




fN the Examiner's Office at the India House
in Leadenhall Street, were drafted the
despatches of the Court of Directors of
the East India Company relating to the adminis-
tration of Justice, Revenue, and Public Works in
India. In 1819 this Office was reorganised, with
a view to its greater efficiency, and three new men
—Edward Strachey (my father), James Mill, and
Thomas Love Peacock were introduced with the
title of " Assistants," to be employed in writing the
despatches in the above-mentioned departments
respectively. They were thus brought into a
familiar intercourse, which, between my father and
Peacock, became a lasting friendship. My personal
recollections of Peacock do not go further back
than about 1827, but they were aftenvards supple-
mented by those of my mother, and of my cousin,
the late Mrs Phillipps, known as Miss Kirkpatrick
to all readers of Thomas Carlyle's hfe. I remember



1 6 Recollections of

Peacock in my father's room in the India House,
and when he occasionally came to dine and sleep
at our house at Shooter's Hill, as a kindly, genial,
laughter-loving man, rather fond of good eating
and drinking, or at least of talking as if he were so,
for I remember no other actual proof of this than
his saying, when asked if he would have some
cherry pie, "That is one of my heresies," meaning
that he ate it, though he knew it to be unwhole-
some ; and it is possible that my recollections may
be largely coloured by my familiarity with his
descriptions of eating and drinking in the hospit-
able houses in his several novels. On the other
hand, he practised as a young man, what his hero,
Mr Forester in "Melincourt," preached, and gave up
sugar as a protest against negro slavery. This my
mother told me, my father having, I suppose, heard
it from Peacock himself. She also told me that my
father and one or two other friends were spending
Saturday and Sunday with Peacock at his cottage
when his little daughter died in 1826. The child
was thought to be getting better, and Peacock
went out in high spirits for a walk with his friends.
When they carne back he was told that the child
was dead. His grief was great, and he said to my
father that there were times when the world could
not be made fun of. I remember my father bring-
ing back one day the lines beginning " Long night
succeeds thy little day," of which Peacock had
just given him a copy, and which were put on the
child's gravestone, as told by his grand-daughter.



Thomas Love Peacock. 17

James Mill, like Peacock, had his country walks
with his friends. Mrs Phillipps says, " James Mill
ordered one fine Sunday a beef-steak for dinner,
taking his ease at his inn, though not quite a Fal-
staff. The followers objected to the beef-steak
because it was very tough, and not otherwise
pleasant food. Mill said it was tender and good,
etc., because it was so and so, and therefore must
be tender." Peacock said, " Yes ; but, as usual,
all the reason is on your side, and all the proof on
mine." And again — Coulson, Editor of the Globe
and Traveller, said to Peacock, " When I know
Mill well, shall I like him — will he like what I like
and hate what I hate ? " " No," says Peacock,
" he will hate what you hate, and hate everything
you like." But this was too severe. For Coulson,
a friend of Charles Buller and of Frederick Maurice,
as well as of Peacock, could hardly have formed
the friendship which Professor Bain tells us existed
between him and Mill, on a common hatred only.
Mill was always kind to me when I saw him in my
fath-er's room, yet the impression left on my mind
at the end of sixty years — an impression no doubt
made by what I was told as well as by what I saw
and heard — is a contrast to Peacock's place in
my memory as a warm-hearted, genial man, indul-
gent to himself, but not less indulgent to others.
It was from an unwillingness to show hospitality to
Mill that Peacock refrained from publishing the
volume of "Paper Money Lyrics," single pieces of
which, by degrees, appeared in the Globe, and else-

B



1 8 Recollections of

where, but of which I remember the MS. copy long
before. Though his humourous dishke of paper
money and poUtical economists appears in his
earUer novels, it was no doubt much intensified
by his intercourse with Mill. He one day came
to my father's room, and said, with mock indigna-
tion, " I will never dine with Mill again, for he
asks me to meet only political economists. I dined
with him last night, when he had Mushet and
MacCulloch, and after dinner, Mushet took a
paper out of his pocket, and began to read : ' In
the infancy of society, when Government was in-
vented to save a percentage — say, of 3^ per cent.'
— on which he was stopped by MacCulloch with,
' I will say no such thing,' meaning that this was
not the proper percentage." Two or three years
later, the story was told in " Crotchet Castle " in
the way the reader knows. Peacock was pleased
when he was told that a boy's simplicity had
vainly tried to make out which of his characters
represented his own opinions, saying : " That is
just as it should be." But my father told me he
thought that Peacock really considered the state of
society when men wore armour and had no paper
money, was better than our own. But he used to
quote, with approval, the classical saying that the
world was flebile litdibriian, and he probably cared
less for the relative merits of different periods
of history, than for the suitableness of each for
sujjplying the materials for fun and laughter. He
satirised the vices and follies of men as a fun-loving



Thomas Love Peacock. 19

caricaturist more than as a Juvenal or a Butler,
though the sterner mood is not always absent ; and
his caricatures of Shelley, Byron, Southey, Words-
worth, Coleridge, and the editors of the Quarterly
and Edinburgh Reviews provoke our laughter by
the ridiculous want of resemblance to their originals.
He scoffed impartially at the two great party
Reviews, and once he said to my father, as they
passed a man with a package of Edinburgh Reviews^
" There goes a lot of lies and bad grammar," with
as much pleasure as if he had been the editor of
the Legitimate Review, to whom he has introduced
us in " Melincourt."

Peacock loved Latin and Greek, Italian and
French literature, as well as that of England.
There is a story of his familiarity with French, and
his ready wit (reminding us of a somewhat simi-
lar story of Sheridan), how he recited, in discus-
sing with a Frenchman the tragic dignity of Racine,
several lines, beginning with " Madame preparez
votre mouchoir;" and the unsuspecting hearer
could only reply — "Ah, sir, you have taken the
very worst verses in all Racine." In his " Mis-
fortunes of Elphin," he gave the Welsh legends
with careful accuracy. I heard him say that he
had great difficulty in getting at the true story of
Taliesin's birth, as more than one learned authority
had concealed his own ignorance on the matter by
saying that the story was too long to be told then ;
and he was proud of the fact that Welsh archaeo-
logists treated his book as a serious and valuable



20 Recollections of

addition to Welsh history. His familiar love of
Latin and Greek is known to all his readers. Many
a scholar must have found a new pleasure in his
out-of-the-way quotations and allusions, and in the
skilful humour of his Greek etymologies of English
names, and especially for those of the three philo-
sophers in " Headlong Hall," than which nothing
could be happier. Like other men who have never
been at Oxford or Cambridge, he would speak dis-
paragingly of the learning of those Universities, and
avowed his opinion of the superiority of the Germans
in classical studies. But though he recommended
me a German commentary on Greek metres as
better than those of any English critic, he put
Maltby's Lexicon as one of the three Greek
Lexicons which, he told my father, were indis-
pensable for me, the other two being Hedericus
and Scapula, and he finally himself selected for
me a copy of the London edition of Scapula,
edited in 1820 by the English scholars Bailey
and Major. It was pardonable if there was a
little mixture of vanity in Peacock's assertion
that the Dionysiaca of Nonnus was the finest poem
in the world after the Iliad, since very i^tw but
himself had the knowledge of the former which
could qualify them for deciding or discussing the
question on its merits. The highly-polished verse
of the Panopolitan poet would have greater charms
for a man of Peacock's generation than for our own,
and the two specimens which he gives as mottoes
to chapters viii. and x. of the " Misfortunes of



Thomas Love Peacock. 2 1

Elphin " can hardly be praised too much for their
grace and beauty. I may be forgiven if, in my
eightieth year, I look back to the day when Peacock
sent, through my father, the verses which make me
fond of these mottoes,* to the schoolboy in whose
studies he took so kind an interest.

Peacock's literary style was elaborately polished,
and he disliked writing letters, lest he should fall
into any fault in hasty composition. His official
despatches were described by my father as " neat
and exact, characteristic of the man." Whether
" the Chairs " in Leadenhall Street or the Board
of Control found any wit or humour in them I
know not : but I recall Peacock's account of his
having gone one day to see a director of the Com-
pany sell tea. He found the great merchant prince
sitting at a table in a room, round which were a
number of tea brokers in a state of fury, each
brandishing a huge ledger, and occasionally shout-
ing out, " A halfpenny." The monopoly of tea, of

* AXXd TeoiS TToKa.iJ.rjcn iJ.axrilJ-ova dvpaov dtipwf,
AlOepos d^ia pe^ov' eVei A(6s diJ.(ipoTos avXij
06 ae irovuv dtrdvevde dede^erai' ovde aoi ^QpaL
M^TTO) ae6\evaavTi Tri'Xaj ireTciawcnv 'OXv/jlttov.

Grasp the bold thyrsus ; seek the field's array ;
And do things worthy of ethereal day :
Not without toil to earthborn man befalls
To tread the floors of Jove's immortal halls :
Never to him, who not by deeds has striven,
Will the bright Hours roll back the gates of heaven.
Iris to Bacchus, in the \ith Book of the

DiONYSIACA OF NONNUS.



22 Recollectio7is of

which the lowest price was eight shilHngs a pound,
gave the East India Company a revenue sufificient
to pay the whole of the home expenses of the Com-
pany, including the interest on their stock, and also
to pay a like sum into the British treasury.

If, in conclusion, I may supplement these im-
perfect memories and family traditions from the
sources of Peacock's books and the memoirs of
his grand-daughter, I should say that he was a
kind-hearted, genial, friendly man, who loved to
share his enjoyment of life with all around him ;
and he was self-indulgent without being selfish.
His ideals of life were noble and generous, and in
" Melincourt " they temper with seriousness, even
sadness, the boyish love of fun and caricature which
never fail him. And if we see in " The Misfortunes
of Elphin " and " Crotchet Castle " increased in-
tellectual power accompanied by a more worldly
tone of thought, the natural consequence of pros-
perous enjoyment of life as he found it, it is pleasant
to recognise signs in " Gryll Grange," the child of
his old age, a softer and better morality than that
which characterises the two last-named books.

I have written down these reminiscences of
Thomas Love Peacock honestly : but I do not ask
the reader to accept them as absolutely true. A
good memory implies a sufficient activity of imagi-
nation to form our original impressions of a person
or an event into a distinct picture. And then we
keep that picture clear and living in our mind's
eye by retouching it from time to time by what we



Thomas Love Peacock. 23

suppose to be memory, but which is often, in great
part at least, imagination. And so, year after year,
we recollect our last recollections, and not the
original thing itself, or even its first image. The
process is unconscious, but we occasionally discover
its reality when we come across some contemporary
or otherwise independent record, and find how
much is different from our own. The proper title
of a biography, whether of oneself or of another, will
probably always be " Dichtung und Wahrheit," if
we translate it " Truth and Fiction," and not
necessarily " Poetry and Truth."

Edward Strachey.




RECOLLECTIONS OF
CHILDHOOD.

By the Author of " Headlong Hall."



The Abbey House.




PASSED many of my early days in a


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