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Having passed through his schoolboy days, he was very soon initiated into a rather rigid régime in his father's banking-house. In after life, when he became the Mæcenas of art and letters, he was sometimes charged, and we think usually very unjustly, with saying very severe things, and in this way a remark he made to Madame de Stael about the poet Campbell has often been alleged as an illustration of an unkind nature. Madame de Stael said to him, "How sorry I am for Campbell; his poverty so unsettles his mind that he cannot write." And Rogers replied, "Why does he not take the situation of a clerk? he could then compose verses during his leisure hours." Sir James Macintosh and Madame de Stael both thought this most cruel, and took him to task for it. Rogers vindicated himself, and said, there was both kindness and truth in what he had said, for, he continued, "when literature is the sole business of life it becomes a drudgery; when we are able to resort to it only at certain hours it is a charming relaxation. In my earlier years I was a banker's clerk, obliged to be at the desk every day from ten till five o'clock, and I never shall forget the delight with which on returning home I used to read and write during the evening." But when some one in Campbell's hearing was sharply talking about the spiteful things which Rogers had said, Campbell said, "Borrow five hundred pounds of him, and he will never say a word against you till you want to repay him." It was well known that Campbell had borrowed five hundred pounds of him, but, in the course of a short time, he returned it, disappointed in the intention with which he borrowed it, and the speedy return seems rather to have grieved Rogers, as he said, "I knew that he was every day pressed for small sums."
The present writer had the honour to receive, on the strength of a letter of introduction, much kindness from the host of No. 22, St. James's Place; he was several times at the house and knew the celebrated dining-room well; there, when he knew that room first, hung the famous "Ecce Homo" of Guido, which now so conspicuously adorns our National Gallery. It is, perhaps, with a not merely egotistic pleasure that the writer remembers how the poet received, and read, and criticised some of his first productions; and when, a few years afterwards, those pieces which he had so kindly approved were published, he not only permitted their dedication to himself, but, as the dedication says, he "condescended to encourage" the author, and the volume became thus the tribute of gratitude as well as homage. This is written in no vanity, but as a modest rejoinder to some remarks which have appeared lately, affirming that the great poet never knew the luxury of doing good; the writer was then only a poor, and utterly unknown youth, but, when the note of introduction had been handed in, Mr. Rogers himself came out into the hall and pulled the writer into the dining-room; and this was the first of several kindly receptions. The poet was a man of wealth, but his wealth bore no proportion to his generosity; it is now understood that he gave away, in helpful benevolence and noble generosity, to artists and authors, and all whom he
could succour or serve, about a fifth of his income. A well-known writer says, "He had the kindest heart and the unkindest tongue I ever knew;" the kind heart is very distinctly realised to the present writer, but we never knew an accent of unkindness from the tongue.
From the banker's clerk, on the death of his father, Rogers became the chief partner in the bank, and soon glided into the patron and lover of letters. The words in which he alludes to himself are very tender and true.
"Nature denied him much,
But gave him at his birth what most he values;
The poem with which the name of Rogers is usually associated, "The Pleasures of Memory," and several other pieces, had been published in early life; but those of which he thought most highly himself, and which will give the greatest emphasis to his memory, were written in St.
James's Place the " Voyage of Columbus,"
"Human Life," and "Italy," as also many others. "Human Life" was, we believe, considered by himself as his best work, and most readers will probably coincide with this opinion; it contains passages of what may be truly termed ineffable beauty, couplets of calm but elevated wisdom; it is human life, indeed, from a Twickenham point of view, but it is human life. Rogers had not a flowing or a fluent pen, every syllable was studied and moulded on the principles of an exquisite taste; he had no motives for haste, and the care with which he polished his expressions often exIt is posed him to the jokes of his friends. remarkable that although a wit, and often a rather severe cynic, this never appears in his verse, not even in a subject which we might suppose would have furnished many occasions for such scintillations as "Human Life;" some of the passages are characterised not less by their strength than by their beauty-for instance, the following on the insensible changes of life are surely very mpressive :
"No eye observes the growth or the decay.
There is very little in the poetry of Samuel Rogers in unison with the critical, analytical, and introspective spirit of our times, and it is especially an's g which proves its sweetness as life adv-k," a walk hought becomes more quiet and melingly comme lines have often been quotednotice in the ac
"When by a good man's grave I muse alone,
"Italy" was another poem produced in No. 22. This has, perhaps, been most frequently quoted, and it abounds in passages of strength and nervous vigour, in expression and energy of graphic description beyond either of the poet's works; its brief prose essays also are perfect models of purity and elegance in composition. He visited Italy several times. We are very familiar with most of the scenes, spots, and places he made the subjects of his meditative verse fifty years since; we have travelled through them all with his most delightful poem in our hand, and thought how different the Italy which Rogers knew and described from that which the traveller visits now.
And it surely may be spoken of as a kind of poetical justice that the poet who had sung so sweetly the Pleasures of Memory" should, in the order of Providence, be permitted to see so lengthened a period of age, and to renew memories which must have been to him for the most part pleasant. He was born in 1763; he died in 1855. It was an extraordinary prolongation of human life, and the things and persons he saw are most noteworthy. He was eleven years old when the American Revolution began, and he used to say how he then received a lesson, which he never forgot, when his father, who was Member of Parliament for Coventry, one night, after family worship, closed the Bible, and explained to the children the cause of the rebellion, telling them that our nation was in the wrong, and that it was not right to wish that the Americans should be conquered. "I remember," he used to say, "one of the heads of the rebels at Temple Bara black, shapeless lump." He used to tell how, walking one day from his father's bank, he saw a crowd of people streaming into a chapel in the City Road. "I followed them," he said, "and saw laid out upon a table the dead body of a clergyman in full canonicals. It was the corpse of John Wesley, and the crowd moved slowly and silently round and round the table to take a last look at that most venerable man." He used to tell how he and his friend and schoolfellow, William Maltby, had a strong desire to see Dr. Johnson, and they went to the doctor's door. But just as they were about to lift the knocker, frightened at their own temerity, they ran away. Many years after Rogers mentioned this to Boswell, who said, What a pity you did not go in, he would have received you with all kindness." He used to tell, also, how he knew an aged boatman, who, when a lad, had often assisted his father in rowing a certain Mr. Alexander Pope up and down the River Thames. When he was a very young man he went to Scotland-and how remarkable it seems to the present writer that he should have walked and talked with one who had breakfasted with Adam Smith, and had been acquainted with Robertson the historian, and Henry Mackenzie ;—and he used to speak of
one very memorable Sunday he passed in Edinburgh, when, after breakfasting with Robertson, he heard him preach in the forenoon, Blair in the afternoon, took coffee with the Piozzis, and supped. with Adam Smith. He used to say, "To any one who has reached a very advanced age, a walk through the streets of London is like a walk through a cemetery. How many houses do I pass, now inhabited by strangers, in which I used to spend such happy hours with those who have long been dead and gone!" And whom did he not know-with whom had he not kept company -receiving at his own house or visiting at their own, on terms of easy and equal rank, or friendship?-princes of the royal family, the most illustrious peers, the most distinguished men of letters! He was often a visitor at Oatlands, the house of the Duke and Duchess of York. It was upon the occasion of one of these visits, when Monk Lewis was another of the guests, that, after the Duchess had been speaking to Lewis, his eyes filled with tears. "We asked," said Rogers, "what was the matter." Oh," said Lewis, "the Duchess spoke so very kindly to me!" And oneof them replied-and we have little doubt it was Rogers My dear fellow, pray don't cry, I dare say she didn't mean it." In Holland House Rogers was almost as much the master of the mansion as the noble host and hostess. There, still, the visitor is shown the room which is called "Rogers's room;" in the Dutch garden there is a summerhouse, still called "Rogers's seat," with the inscription over it from the pen of the elegant scholar and master of the mansion.
"Here Rogers sat, and here for ever dwell
With me those pleasures that he sings so well."
Whom had he not known, of all the men or women of the age of whom we desire to know something? He had seen Garrick act; he was familiar with Mrs. Siddons; he was a visitor, by invitation, for some time to William Beckford at Fonthill during its period of refined magnificence, and heard him read passages from manuscripts which have never seen the light. He was present on the second day of the trial of Warren Hastingsin Westminster Hall, and heard Sheridan during that great oration, when, says Rogers, "you might have heard a pin drop, so great was the attention." He knew Parr well, and he used to boast that when Porson dined with him he was always able to keep him within bounds. He was on intimateterms with Talleyrand; he had dined and danced with the Princess of Wales, afterwards the unhappy Queen Caroline; he had been the intimatefriend of those two celebrated women, Jane, the Duchess of Gordon, and Georgiana, the beautifuli Duchess of Devonshire. In his father's house he had known the very eminent Dr. Price—indeed he was the pastor of the family, and Rogers speaks. in distinguished terms of his perfection as a preacher, and the gentlemanly bearing which constituted him a welcome guest in the most distinguished homes of the Whig aristocracy. He had known John Wilkes very well; he had seen Lord North, and although he had never seen Tom
Warton and Gibbon and Horace Walpole and Burns and Cowper, "it is truly provoking," he says, "that I might have seen them all." There must have been in this man some amazing fascination which made him the welcome guest of persons so varied and so eminent; and it is somewhat singular that the reminiscences of this interesting man have not been gathered into some comprehensive and adequate memoir.
The celebrated house never had a mistress. Rogers never married; he had a calm, tender, and generous heart, but which was, perhaps, incapable of passion. The nearest approach he ever made to marriage was but remote. To his more familiar friends he would sometimes tell the story of his admiration and, perhaps, love for a beautiful girl, the charm of London society, when he was young; to his latest day he thought her the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. But his words to her never passed beyond admiration, although he so constantly sought her society. One evening, after a ball, she said, "I go to Worthing to-morrow; are you coming there?" He did not go. Some months afterwards, at Ranelagh, his attention was drawn to a large party which had just entered, in the centre of which was a lady leaning on the arm of her husband; and stepping forward, he found the lady was his earliest and latest love. She merely said, "You never came to Worthing!"
In 1850, upon the death of Wordsworth, Prince Albert wrote to him, by desire of the Queen,
offering to him the post of Poet-Laureate, but he declined the office, partly on account of his age, saying he was only the shadow of his former self; and further alleging that, as he had no need of money, it would be wrong to divert the income from a channel in which it might be more useful.
His remains rest with his brother Henry and his beloved sister Sarah, in the vault in Hornsey Church. He gave very particular directions that he should not be buried in Westminster Abbey; he praised Pope's refusal to be buried there, and, whenever the subject was mentioned, said to his nephew, "Remember, Sam, I am not to be buried in Westminster Abbey."
The portrait which illustrates this paper is one of the most favourable; it was taken in the poet's prime of life by Sir Thomas Lawrence, to whom he had often lent a benevolent and helpful handas to how many besides. The story is well known of his saving the dead body of Sheridan from arrest, and paying a claim by the side of his coffin; and few men who have filled so great a place in the world of fashionable society more truly deserves the commendation that he visited the poor "in their affliction, and kept himself unspotted from the world."
Space forbids us to say more, but we have surely said sufficient to show that one of the most interesting houses in London is 22, St. James's Place.