1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Silk Buckingham

Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, in "Four Months in Europe" New-York Literary Gazette and American Athenaeum 2 (2 September 1826) 303.



I now became intimate with James S. Buckingham, Esq. an accomplished scholar, and gentleman, who, perhaps, has seen more of the world and suffered more from its villainy than any other man in England. Though he never enjoyed a collegiate education, yet many a loiterer by Cam or Isis, might blush at his superior attainments. French, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, and Hindostanee, are as familiar to him as his mother tongue. He has travelled over Europe — resided for some time in Norfolk, Virginia, — explored the ruins of the Holy Land — crossed the Red Sea, and the deserts of Arabia, and dwelt for years, under the burning climate of India. In his wanderings he was stripped naked by the wild Arabs, and saved from destruction, after the most poignant sufferings, only by the humane attentions of that excellent woman, lady Hester Stanhope. In brief, he endured trials and afflictions innumerable in his arduous journeyings; and when, after encountering every evil, which human nature could support, he commenced the publication of his interesting travels, a man, rich, and therefore an "honourable" man, by the name of Bancks, started up and announced Mr. B. as a plagiarist of his own unpublished and unread travels in the Holy Land! This absurd charge was conveyed, in the grossest terms of insult, not only through newspapers to the public, but expatiated upon, and aggravated in that periodical volume of calumnies — the Quarterly Review. About the same time, the East India Company — a nest of hornets — a band of tyrants, each of whom is worse than Timor Beg ever was fancying that Mr. B. who was then the editor of the Calcutta Journal, exposed their exactions and honours, rather too independently, ordered their Governor General to banish him from the country. This was immediately done, and Mr. Buckingham, then worth 40,000, was compelled to sacrifice the whole for less than 16,000; which reduced amount was scarcely sufficient to support the suits he was obliged to institute against his numerous enemies; so that the issue of all his toils and labours, was a complete triumph of his character, and a complete loss of his fortune.