1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Isaac D'Israeli

William Jerdan, in Men I have Known (1866) 179-80.



His tastes were refined. Not only did the amenities of society and literature seem to be parts of his nature, but the Arts, in all their branches, laid their treasures before a studious and cultivated mind, when they were submitted to his examination. Of them he was an excellent judge and accomplished critic. The circle among whom I chiefly met him consisted of the Nares, Douce, and other Men I have Known, some of whose characteristic traits I have through the medium of "The Leisure Hour" endeavoured to trace.

D'Israeli knew nothing of the "Calamities of Authors," except in recording them, and, happily for those who enjoyed the gratification of his company, was a very graceful illustration of the "Literary Character," and abounding in "Curiosities of Literature," so as to render his contributions to the social talk at once truly interesting and instructive. It might be that his tone was pinched in accord with the less demonstrative sphere to which I have alluded; but in more convivial parties he was ready to enter jocularly into the spirit of the scene. At such entertainments as genial authors marked with a white stone, under the hospitable roof of John Murray, their renowned publisher, he could shine with no eclipsed lustre, always in appropriate keeping, listened to with attention and heard with satisfaction. Dare I venture to allude to one festive occasion, where book-collectors held a symposium, and he, the most temperate of the set; where Kemble, Maurice, Parsons, &c. toasted Gutenberg and Faust, Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde out of Shakespeare's mulberry-tree bowl. It was a merry bit of social and literary life, consistent with the common usages of the period, but far removed from the excesses which too frequently disfigured them.