Life of Lord Byron, Vol. 3

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"JOURNAL, 1814.

"February 18.

"Better than a month since I last journalised:--most of it out of London and at Notts., but a busy one and a pleasant, at least three weeks of it. On my return, I find all the newspapers in hysterics[1], and town in an uproar, on the avowal and republication of two stanzas on Princess Charlotte's weeping at Regency's speech to Lauderdale in 1812. They are daily at it still;--some of the abuse good, all of it hearty. They talk of a motion in our House upon it--be it so.

"Got up--redde the Morning Post, containing the battle of Buonaparte, the destruction of the Custom-house, and a paragraph on me as long as my pedigree, and vituperative, as usual.

"Hobhouse is returned to England. He is my best friend, the most lively, and a man of the most sterling talents extant.

"'The Corsair' has been conceived, written, published, &c. since I last took up this journal. They tell me it has great success;--it was written _con amore_, and much from _existence_. Murray is satisfied with its progress; and if the public are equally so with the perusal, there's an end of the matter.

[Footnote 1: Immediately on the appearance of The Corsair, (with those obnoxious verses, "Weep, daughter of a royal line," appended to it,) a series of attacks, not confined to Lord Byron himself, but aimed also at all those who had lately become his friends, was commenced in the Courier and Morning Post, and carried on through the greater part of the months of February and March. The point selected by these writers, as a ground of censure on the poet, was one which _now_, perhaps, even themselves would agree to class among his claims to praise,--namely, the atonement which he had endeavoured to make for the youthful violence of his Satire by a measure of justice, amiable even in its overflowings, to every one whom he conceived he had wronged.

Notwithstanding the careless tone in which, here and elsewhere, he speaks of these assaults, it is evident that they annoyed him;--an effect which, in reading them over now, we should be apt to wonder they could produce, did we not recollect the property which Dryden attributes to "small wits," in common with certain other small animals:--

"We scarce could know they live, but that they _bite_."

The following is a specimen of the terms in which these party scribes could then speak of one of the masters of English song:--"They might have slept in oblivion with Lord Carlisle's Dramas and Lord Byron's Poems."--"Some certainly extol Lord Byron's Poem much, but most of the best judges place his Lordship rather low in the list of our minor poets."]

"Nine o'clock.

"Been to Hanson's on business. Saw Rogers, and had a note from Lady Melbourne, who says, it is said I am 'much out of spirits.' I wonder if I really am or not? I have certainly enough of 'that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart,' and it is better they should believe it to be the result of these attacks than of the real cause; but--ay, ay, always _but_, to the end of the chapter.

"Hobhouse has told me ten thousand anecdotes of Napoleon, all good and true. My friend H. is the most entertaining of companions, and a fine fellow to boot.

"Redde a little--wrote notes and letters, and am alone, which Locke says, is bad company. 'Be not solitary, be not idle.'--Um!--the idleness is troublesome; but I can't see so much to regret in the solitude. The more I see of men, the less I like them. If I could but say so of women too, all would be well. Why can't I? I am now six-and-twenty; my passions have had enough to cool them; my affections more than enough to wither them,--and yet--and yet--always _yet_ and _but_--'Excellent well, you are a fishmonger--get thee to a nunnery.'--'They fool me to the top of my bent.'


"Began a letter, which I threw into the fire. Redde--but to little purpose. Did not visit Hobhouse, as I promised and ought. No matter, the loss is mine. Smoked cigars.

"Napoleon!--this week will decide his fate. All seems against him; but I believe and hope he will win--at least, beat back the invaders. What right have we to prescribe sovereigns to France? Oh for a Republic! 'Brutus, thou sleepest.' Hobhouse abounds in continental anecdotes of this extraordinary man; all in favour of his intellect and courage, but against his _bonhommie_. No wonder;--how should he, who knows mankind well, do other than despise and abhor them?

"The greater the equality, the more impartially evil is distributed, and becomes lighter by the division among so many--therefore, a Republic!

"More notes from Mad. de * * unanswered--and so they shall remain. I admire her abilities, but really her society is overwhelming--an avalanche that buries one in glittering nonsense--all snow and sophistry.

"Shall I go to Mackintosh's on Tuesday? um!--I did not go to Marquis Lansdowne's, nor to Miss Berry's, though both are pleasant. So is Sir James's,--but I don't know--I believe one is not the better for parties; at least, unless some _regnante_ is there.

"I wonder how the deuce any body could make such a world; for what purpose dandies, for instance, were ordained--and kings--and fellows of colleges--and women of 'a certain age'--and many men of any age--and myself, most of all!

"'Divesne prisco et natus ab Inacho,
Nil interest, an pauper, et infimâ
De gente, sub dio moreris,
Victima nil miserantis Orci.
* * * * *
Omnes eodem cogimur.'

"Is there any thing beyond?--_who_ knows? _He_ that can't tell. Who tells that there _is_? He who don't know. And when shall he know? perhaps, when he don't expect, and generally when he don't wish it. In this last respect, however, all are not alike: it depends a good deal upon education,--something upon nerves and habits--but most upon digestion.

"Saturday, Feb. 19.

"Just returned from seeing Kean in Richard. By Jove, he is a soul! Life--nature--truth without exaggeration or diminution. Kemble's Hamlet is perfect;--but Hamlet is not Nature. Richard is a man; and Kean is Richard. Now to my own concerns.

"Went to Waite's. Teeth all right and white; but he says that I grind them in my sleep and chip the edges. That same sleep is no friend of mine, though I court him sometimes for half the twenty-four.

"February 20.

"Got up and tore out two leaves of this Journal--I don't know why. Hodgson just called and gone. He has much _bonhommie_ with his other good qualities, and more talent than he has yet had credit for beyond his circle.

"An invitation to dine at Holland House to meet Kean. He is worth meeting; and I hope, by getting into good society, he will be prevented from falling like Cooke. He is greater now on the stage, and off he should never be less. There is a stupid and under-rating criticism upon him in one of the newspapers. I thought that, last night, though great, he rather under-acted more than the first time. This may be the effect of these cavils; but I hope he has more sense than to mind them. He cannot expect to maintain his present eminence, or to advance still higher, without the envy of his green-room fellows, and the nibbling of their admirers. But, if he don't beat them all, why then--merit hath no purchase in 'these coster-monger days.'

"I wish that I had a talent for the drama; I would write a tragedy _now_. But no,--it is gone. Hodgson talks of one,--he will do it well;--and I think M--e should try. He has wonderful powers, and much variety; besides, he has lived and felt. To write so as to bring home to the heart, the heart must have been tried,--but, perhaps, ceased to be so. While you are under the influence of passions, you only feel, but cannot describe them,--any more than, when in action, you could turn round and tell the story to your next neighbour! When all is over,--all, all, and irrevocable,--trust to memory--she is then but too faithful.

"Went out, and answered some letters, yawned now and then, and redde the Robbers. Fine,--but Fiesco is better; and Alfieri and Monti's Aristodemo _best_. They are more equal than the Tedeschi dramatists.

"Answered--or, rather acknowledged--the receipt of young Reynolds's Poem, Safie. The lad is clever, but much of his thoughts are borrowed,--_whence_, the Reviewers may find out. I hate discouraging a young one; and I think,--though wild and more oriental than he would be, had he seen the scenes where he has placed his tale,--that he has much talent, and, certainly, fire enough.

"Received a very singular epistle; and the mode of its conveyance, through Lord H.'s hands, as curious as the letter itself. But it was gratifying and pretty.

"Sunday, February 27.

"Here I am, alone, instead of dining at Lord H.'s, where I was asked,--but not inclined to go anywhere. Hobhouse says I am growing a _loup garou_,--a solitary hobgoblin. True;--'I am myself alone.' The last week has been passed in reading--seeing plays--now and then visiters--sometimes yawning and sometimes sighing, but no writing,--save of letters. If I could always read, I should never feel the want of society. Do I regret it?--um!--'Man delights not me,' and only one woman--at a time.

"There is something to me very softening in the presence of a woman,--some strange influence, even if one is not in love with them,--which I cannot at all account for, having no very high opinion of the sex. But yet,--I always feel in better humour with myself and every thing else, if there is a woman within ken. Even Mrs. Mule[2], my fire-lighter,--the most ancient and withered of her kind,--and (except to myself) not the best-tempered--always makes me laugh,--no difficult task when I am 'i' the vein.'

"Heigho! I would I were in mine island!--I am not well; and yet I look in good health. At times, I fear, 'I am not in my perfect mind;'--and yet my heart and head have stood many a crash, and what should ail them now? They prey upon themselves, and I am sick--sick--'Prithee, undo this button--why should a cat, a rat, a dog have life--and _thou_ no life at all?' Six-and-twenty years, as they call them, why, I might and should have been a Pasha by this time. 'I 'gin to be a weary of the sun.'

"Buonaparte is not yet beaten; but has rebutted Blucher, and repiqued Swartzenburg. This it is to have a head. If he again wins, 'Væ victis!'

[Footnote 2: This ancient housemaid, of whose gaunt and witch-like appearance it would be impossible to convey any idea but by the pencil, furnished one among the numerous instances of Lord Byron's proneness to attach himself to any thing, however homely, that had once enlisted his good nature in its behalf, and become associated with his thoughts. He first found this old woman at his lodgings in Bennet Street, where, for a whole season, she was the perpetual scarecrow of his visiters. When, next year, he took chambers in Albany, one of the great advantages which his friends looked to in the change was, that they should get rid of this phantom. But, no,--there she was again--he had actually brought her with him from Bennet Street. The following year saw him married, and, with a regular establishment of servants, in Piccadilly; and here,--as Mrs. Mule had not made her appearance to any of the visiters,--it was concluded, rashly, that the witch had vanished. One of those friends, however, who had most fondly indulged in this persuasion, happening to call one day when all the male part of the establishment were abroad, saw, to his dismay, the door opened by the same grim personage, improved considerably in point of habiliments since he last saw her, and keeping pace with the increased scale of her master's household, as a new peruke, and other symptoms of promotion, testified. When asked "how he came to carry this old woman about with him from place to place," Lord Byron's only answer was, "The poor old devil was so kind to me."]

"Sunday, March 6.

"On Tuesday last dined with Rogers,--Madame de Staël, Mackintosh, Sheridan, Erskine, and Payne Knight, Lady Donegall and Miss R. there. Sheridan told a very good story of himself and Madame de Recamier's handkerchief; Erskine a few stories of himself only. _She_ is going to write a big book about England, she says;--I believe her. Asked by her how I liked Miss * *'s thing, called * *, and answered (very sincerely) that I thought it very bad for _her_, and worse than any of the others. Afterwards thought it possible Lady Donegall, being Irish, might be a patroness of * *, and was rather sorry for my opinion, as I hate putting people into fusses, either with themselves or their favourites; it looks as if one did it on purpose. The party went off very well, and the fish was very much to my gusto. But we got up too soon after the women; and Mrs. Corinne always lingers so long after dinner that we wish her in--the drawing-room.

"To-day C. called, and while sitting here, in came Merivale. During our colloquy, C.(ignorant that M. was the writer) abused the 'mawkishness of the Quarterly Review of Grimm's Correspondence.' I (knowing the secret) changed the conversation as soon as I could; and C. went away, quite convinced of having made the most favourable impression on his new acquaintance. Merivale is luckily a very good-natured fellow, or, God he knows what might have been engendered from such a malaprop. I did not look at him while this was going on, but I felt like a coal--for I like Merivale, as well as the article in question.

"Asked to Lady Keith's to-morrow evening--I think I will go; but it is the first party invitation I have accepted this 'season,' as the learned Fletcher called it, when that youngest brat of Lady * *'s cut my eye and cheek open with a misdirected pebble--'Never mind, my Lord, the scar will be gone before the _season_;' as if one's eye was of no importance in the mean time.

"Lord Erskine called, and gave me his famous pamphlet, with a marginal note and corrections in his handwriting. Sent it to be bound superbly, and shall treasure it.

"Sent my fine print of Napoleon to be framed. It _is_ framed; and the Emperor becomes his robes as if he had been hatched in them.

"March 7.

"Rose at seven--ready by half-past eight--went to Mr. Hanson's, Berkeley Square--went to church with his eldest daughter, Mary Anne (a good girl), and gave her away to the Earl of Portsmouth. Saw her fairly a countess--congratulated the family and groom (bride)--drank a bumper of wine (wholesome sherris) to their felicity, and all that--and came home. Asked to stay to dinner, but could not. At three sat to Phillips for faces. Called on Lady M.--I like her so well, that I always stay too long. (Mem. to mend of that.)

"Passed the evening with Hobhouse, who has begun a poem, which promises highly;--wish he would go on with it. Heard some curious extracts from a life of Morosini, the blundering Venetian, who blew up the Acropolis at Athens with a bomb, and be d----d to him! Waxed sleepy--just come home--must go to bed, and am engaged to meet Sheridan to-morrow at Rogers's.

"Queer ceremony that same of marriage--saw many abroad, Greek and Catholic--one, at _home_, many years ago. There be some strange phrases in the prologue (the exhortation), which made me turn away, not to laugh in the face of the surpliceman. Made one blunder, when I joined the hands of the happy--rammed their left hands, by mistake, into one another. Corrected it--bustled back to the altar-rail, and said 'Amen.' Portsmouth responded as if he had got the whole by heart; and, if any thing, was rather before the priest. It is now midnight, and * * *.

"March 10. Thor's Day.

"On Tuesday dined with Rogers,--Mackintosh, Sheridan, Sharpe,--much talk, and good,--all, except my own little prattlement. Much of old times--Horne Tooke--the Trials--evidence of Sheridan, and anecdotes of those times, when _I_, alas! was an infant. If I had been a man, I would have made an English Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

"Set down Sheridan at Brookes's,--where, by the by, he could not have well set down himself, as he and I were the only drinkers. Sherry means to stand for Westminster, as Cochrane (the stock-jobbing hoaxer) must vacate. Brougham is a candidate. I fear for poor dear Sherry. Both have talents of the highest order, but the youngster has _yet_ a character. We shall see, if he lives to Sherry's age, how he will pass over the redhot ploughshares of public life. I don't know why, but I hate to see the _old_ ones lose; particularly Sheridan, notwithstanding all his _méchanceté_.

"Received many, and the kindest, thanks from Lady Portsmouth, _père_ and _mère_, for my match-making. I don't regret it, as she looks the countess well, and is a very good girl. It is odd how well she carries her new honours. She looks a different woman, and high-bred, too. I had no idea that I could make so good a peeress.

"Went to the play with Hobhouse. Mrs. Jordan superlative in Hoyden, and Jones well enough in Foppington. _What plays!_ what wit!--helas! Congreve and Vanbrugh are your only comedy. Our society is too insipid now for the like copy. Would _not_ go to Lady Keith's. Hobhouse thought it odd. I wonder _he_ should like parties. If one is in love, and wants to break a commandment and covet any thing that is there, they do very well. But to go out amongst the mere herd, without a motive, pleasure, or pursuit--'sdeath! 'I'll none of it.' He told me an odd report,--that _I_ am the actual Conrad, the veritable Corsair, and that part of my travels are supposed to have passed in privacy. Um!--people sometimes hit near the truth; but never the whole truth. H. don't know what I was about the year after he left the Levant; nor does any one--nor--nor--nor--however, it is a lie--but, 'I doubt the equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth!'

"I shall have letters of importance to-morrow. Which, * *, * *, or * *? heigho!--* * is in my heart, * * in my head, * * in my eye, and the _single_ one, Heaven knows where. All write, and will be answered. 'Since I have crept in favour with myself, I must maintain it;' but _I_ never 'mistook my person,' though I think others have.

"* * called to-day in great despair about his mistress, who has taken a freak of * * *. He began a letter to her, but was obliged to stop short--I finished it for him, and he copied and sent it. If he holds out, and keeps to my instructions of affected indifference, she will lower her colours. If she don't, he will, at least, get rid of her, and she don't seem much worth keeping. But the poor lad is in love--if that is the case, she will win. When they once discover their power, _finita e la musica_.

"Sleepy, and must go to bed.

"Tuesday, March 15.

"Dined yesterday with R., Mackintosh, and Sharpe. Sheridan could not come. Sharpe told several very amusing anecdotes of Henderson, the actor. Stayed till late, and came home, having drank so much _tea_, that I did not get to sleep till six this morning. R. says I am to be in _this_ Quarterly--cut up, I presume, as they 'hate us youth.' _N'importe_. As Sharpe was passing by the doors of some debating society (the Westminster Forum), in his way to dinner, he saw rubricked on the walls _Scott_'s name and _mine_--'Which the best poet?' being the question of the evening; and I suppose all the Templars and _would bes_ took our rhymes in vain, in the course of the controversy. Which had the greater show of hands, I neither know nor care; but I feel the coupling of the names as a compliment,--though I think Scott deserves better company.

"W.W. called--Lord Erskine, Lord Holland, &c. &c. Wrote to * * the Corsair report. She says she don't wonder, since 'Conrad is so _like_.' It is odd that one, who knows me so thoroughly, should tell me this to my face. However, if she don't know, nobody can.

"Mackintosh is, it seems, the writer of the defensive letter in the Morning Chronicle. If so, it is very kind, and more than I did for myself.

"Told Murray to secure for me Bandello's Italian Novels at the sale to-morrow. To me they will be _nuts_. Redde a satire on myself, called 'Anti-Byron,' and told Murray to publish it if he liked. The object of the author is to prove me an atheist and a systematic conspirator against law and government. Some of the verse is good; the prose I don't quite understand. He asserts that my 'deleterious works' have had 'an effect upon civil society, which requires,' &c. &c. &c. and his own poetry. It is a lengthy poem, and a long preface, with a harmonious title-page. Like the fly in the fable, I seem to have got upon a wheel which makes much dust; but, unlike the said fly, I do not take it all for my own raising.

"A letter from _Bella_, which I answered. I shall be in love with her again, if I don't take care.

"I shall begin a more regular system of reading soon.

"Thursday, March 17.

"I have been sparring with Jackson for exercise this morning; and mean to continue and renew my acquaintance with the muffles. My chest, and arms, and wind are in very good plight, and I am not in flesh. I used to be a hard hitter, and my arms are very long for my height (5 feet 8-1/2 inches). At any rate, exercise is good, and this the severest of all; fencing and the broad-sword never fatigued me half so much.

"Redde the 'Quarrels of Authors' (another sort of _sparring_)--a new work, by that most entertaining and researching writer, Israeli. They seem to be an irritable set, and I wish myself well out of it. 'I'll not march through Coventry with them, that's flat.' What the devil had I to do with scribbling? It is too late to enquire, and all regret is useless. But, an' it were to do again,--I should write again, I suppose. Such is human nature, at least my share of it;--though I shall think better of myself, if I have sense to stop now. If I have a wife, and that wife has a son--by any body--I will bring up mine heir in the most anti-poetical way--make him a lawyer, or a pirate, or--any thing. But, if he writes too, I shall be sure he is none of mine, and cut him off with a Bank token. Must write a letter--three o'clock.

"Sunday, March 20.

"I intended to go to Lady Hardwicke's, but won't. I always begin the day with a bias towards going to parties; but, as the evening advances, my stimulus fails, and I hardly ever go out--and, when I do, always regret it. This might have been a pleasant one;--at least, the hostess is a very superior woman. Lady Lansdowne's to morrow--Lady Heathcote's Wednesday. Um!--I must spur myself into going to some of them, or it will look like rudeness, and it is better to do as other people do--confound them!

"Redde Machiavel, parts of Chardin, and Sismondi, and Bandello--by starts. Redde the Edinburgh, 44, just come out. In the beginning of the article on 'Edgeworth's Patronage,' I have gotten a high compliment, I perceive. Whether this is creditable to me, I know not; but it does honour to the editor, because he once abused me. Many a man will retract praise; none but a high-spirited mind will revoke its censure, or _can_ praise the man it has once attacked. I have often, since my return to England, heard Jeffrey most highly commended by those who know him for things independent of his talents. I admire him for _this_--not because he has _praised me_, (I have been so praised elsewhere and abused, alternately, that mere habit has rendered me as indifferent to both as a man at twenty-six can be to any thing,) but because he is, perhaps, the _only man_ who, under the relations in which he and I stand, or stood, with regard to each other, would have had the liberality to act thus; none but a great soul dared hazard it. The height on which he stands has not made him giddy:--a little scribbler would have gone on cavilling to the end of the chapter. As to the justice of his panegyric, that is matter of taste. There are plenty to question it, and glad, too, of the opportunity.

"Lord Erskine called to-day. He means to carry down his reflections on the war--or rather wars--to the present day. I trust that he will. Must send to Mr. Murray to get the binding of my copy of his pamphlet finished, as Lord E. has promised me to correct it, and add some marginal notes to it. Any thing in his handwriting will be a treasure, which will gather compound interest from years. Erskine has high expectations of Mackintosh's promised History. Undoubtedly it must be a classic, when finished.

"Sparred with Jackson again yesterday morning, and shall to-morrow. I feel all the better for it, in spirits, though my arms and shoulders are very stiff from it. Mem. to attend the pugilistic dinner:--Marquess Huntley is in the chair.

"Lord Erskine thinks that ministers must be in peril of going out. So much the better for him. To me it is the same who are in or out;--we want something more than a change of ministers, and some day we will have it.

"I remember[3], in riding from Chrisso to Castri (Delphos), along the sides of Parnassus, I saw six eagles in the air. It is uncommon to see so many together; and it was the number--not the species, which is common enough--that excited my attention.

"The last bird I ever fired at was an _eaglet_, on the shore of the Gulf of Lepanto, near Vostitza. It was only wounded, and I tried to save it, the eye was so bright; but it pined, and died in a few days; and I never did since, and never will, attempt the death of another bird. I wonder what put these two things into my head just now? I have been reading Sismondi, and there is nothing there that could induce the recollection.

"I am mightily taken with Braccio di Montone, Giovanni Galeazzo, and Eccelino. But the last is _not_ Bracciaferro (of the same name), Count of Ravenna, whose history I want to trace. There is a fine engraving in Lavater, from a picture by Fuseli, of _that_ Ezzelin, over the body of Meduna, punished by him for a _hitch_ in her constancy during his absence in the Crusades. He was right--but I want to know the story.

[Footnote 3: Part of this passage has been already extracted, but I have allowed it to remain here in its original position, on account of the singularly sudden manner in which it is introduced.]

"Tuesday, March 22.

"Last night, _party_ at Lansdowne House. To-night, _party_ at Lady Charlotte Greville's--deplorable waste of time, and something of temper. Nothing imparted--nothing acquired--talking without ideas:--if any thing like _thought_ in my mind, it was not on the subjects on which we were gabbling. Heigho!--and in this way half London pass what is called life. To-morrow there is Lady Heathcote's--shall I go? yes--to punish myself for not having a pursuit.

"Let me see--what did I see? The only person who much struck me was Lady S* *d's eldest daughter, Lady C.L. They say she is _not_ pretty. I don't know--every thing is pretty that pleases; but there is an air of _soul_ about her--and her colour changes--and there is that shyness of the antelope (which I delight in) in her manner so much, that I observed her more than I did any other woman in the rooms, and only looked at any thing else when I thought she might perceive and feel embarrassed by my scrutiny. After all, there may be something of association in this. She is a friend of Augusta's, and whatever she loves I can't help liking.

"Her mother, the Marchioness, talked to me a little; and I was twenty times on the point of asking her to introduce me to _sa fille_, but I stopped short. This comes of that affray with the Carlisles.

"Earl Grey told me laughingly of a paragraph in the last _Moniteur_, which has stated, among other symptoms of rebellion, some particulars of the _sensation_ occasioned in all our government gazettes by the 'tear' lines,--_only_ amplifying, in its re-statement, an epigram (by the by, no epigram except in the _Greek_ acceptation of the word) into a _roman_. I wonder the Couriers, &c. &c., have not translated that part of the Moniteur, with additional comments.

"The Princess of Wales has requested Fuseli to paint from 'The Corsair,'--leaving to him the choice of any passage for the subject: so Mr. Locke tells me. Tired, jaded, selfish, and supine--must go to bed.

"_Roman_, at least _Romance_, means a song sometimes, as in the Spanish. I suppose this is the Moniteur's meaning, unless he has confused it with 'The Corsair.'

"Albany, March 28.

"This night got into my new apartments, rented of Lord Althorpe, on a lease of seven years. Spacious, and room for my books and sabres. _In_ the _house_, too, another advantage. The last few days, or whole week, have been very abstemious, regular in exercise, and yet very _un_well.

"Yesterday, dined _tête-à-tête_ at the Cocoa with Scrope Davies--sat from six till midnight--drank between us one bottle of champagne and six of claret, neither of which wines ever affect me. Offered to take Scrope home in my carriage; but he was tipsy and pious, and I was obliged to leave him on his knees praying to I know not what purpose or pagod. No headach, nor sickness, that night nor to-day. Got up, if any thing, earlier than usual--sparred with Jackson _ad sudorem_, and have been much better in health than for many days. I have heard nothing more from Scrope. Yesterday paid him four thousand eight hundred pounds, a debt of some standing, and which I wished to have paid before. My mind is much relieved by the removal of that _debit_.

"Augusta wants me to make it up with Carlisle. I have refused _every_ body else, but I can't deny her any thing;--so I must e'en do it, though I had as lief 'drink up Eisel--eat a crocodile.' Let me see--Ward, the Hollands, the Lambs, Rogers, &c. &c.--every body, more or less, have been trying for the last two years to accommodate this _couplet_ quarrel to no purpose. I shall laugh if Augusta succeeds.

"Redde a little of many things--shall get in all my books to-morrow. Luckily this room will hold them--with 'ample room and verge, &c. the characters of hell to trace.' I must set about some employment soon; my heart begins to eat _itself_ again.

"April 8.

"Out of town six days. On my return, find my poor little pagod, Napoleon, pushed off his pedestal;--the thieves are in Paris. It is his own fault. Like Milo, he would rend the oak[4]; but it closed again, wedged his hands, and now the beasts--lion, bear, down to the dirtiest jackall--may all tear him. That Muscovite winter _wedged_ his arms;--ever since, he has fought with his feet and teeth. The last may still leave their marks; and 'I guess now' (as the Yankees say) that he will yet play them a pass. He is in their rear--between them and their homes. Query--will they ever reach them?

[Footnote 4: He adopted this thought afterwards in his Ode to Napoleon, as well as most of the historical examples in the following paragraph.]

"Saturday, April 9. 1814.

"I mark this day!

"Napoleon Buonaparte has abdicated the throne of the world. 'Excellent well.' Methinks Sylla did better; for he revenged and resigned in the height of his sway, red with the slaughter of his foes--the finest instance of glorious contempt of the rascals upon record. Dioclesian did well too--Amurath not amiss, had he become aught except a dervise--Charles the Fifth but so so--but Napoleon, worst of all. What! wait till they were in his capital, and then talk of his readiness to give up what is already gone!! 'What whining monk art thou--what holy cheat?' 'Sdeath!--Dionysius at Corinth was yet a king to this. The 'Isle of Elba' to retire to!--Well--if it had been Caprea, I should have marvelled less. 'I see men's minds are but a parcel of their fortunes.' I am utterly bewildered and confounded.

"I don't know--but I think _I_, even _I_ (an insect compared with this creature), have set my life on casts not a millionth part of this man's. But, after all, a crown may be not worth dying for. Yet, to outlive _Lodi_ for this!!! Oh that Juvenal or Johnson could rise from the dead! 'Expende--quot libras in duce summo invenies?' I knew they were light in the balance of mortality; but I thought their living dust weighed more _carats_. Alas! this imperial diamond hath a flaw in it, and is now hardly fit to stick in a glazier's pencil:--the pen of the historian won't rate it worth a ducat.

"Psha! 'something too much of this.' But I won't give him up even now; though all his admirers have, 'like the thanes, fallen from him.'

"April 10.

"I do not know that I am happiest when alone; but this I am sure of, that I never am long in the society even of _her_ I love, (God knows too well, and the devil probably too,) without a yearning for the company of my lamp and my utterly confused and tumbled-over library.[5] Even in the day, I send away my carriage oftener than I use or abuse it. _Per esempio_,--I have not stirred out of these rooms for these four days past: but I have sparred for exercise (windows open) with Jackson an hour daily, to attenuate and keep up the ethereal part of me. The more violent the fatigue, the better my spirits for the rest of the day; and then, my evenings have that calm nothingness of languor, which I most delight in. To-day I have boxed one hour--written an ode to Napoleon Buonaparte--copied it--eaten six biscuits--drunk four bottles of soda water--redde away the rest of my time--besides giving poor * * a world of advice about this mistress of his, who is plaguing him into a phthisic and intolerable tediousness. I am a pretty fellow truly to lecture about 'the sect.' No matter, my counsels are all thrown away.

[Footnote 5: "As much company," says Pope, "as I have kept, and as much as I love it, I love reading better, and would rather be employed in reading than in the most agreeable conversation."]

"April 19. 1814.

"There is ice at both poles, north and south--all extremes are the same--misery belongs to the highest and the lowest only,--to the emperor and the beggar, when unsixpenced and unthroned. There is, to be sure, a damned insipid medium--an equinoctial line--no one knows where, except upon maps and measurement.

"'And all our _yesterdays_ have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.'

I will keep no further journal of that same hesternal torch-light; and, to prevent me from returning, like a dog, to the vomit of memory, I tear out the remaining leaves of this volume, and write, in _Ipecacuanha_,--'that the Bourbons are restored!!!'--'Hang up philosophy.' To be sure, I have long despised myself and man, but I never spat in the face of my species before--'O fool! I shall go mad.'"

* * * * *

The perusal of this singular Journal having made the reader acquainted with the chief occurrences that marked the present period of his history--the publication of The Corsair, the attacks upon him in the newspapers, &c.--there only remains for me to add his correspondence at the same period, by which the moods and movements of his mind, during these events, will be still further illustrated.

* * * * *


"Sunday, Jan. 2. 1814.

"Excuse this dirty paper--it is the _pen_ultimate half-sheet of a
quire. Thanks for your book and the Ln. Chron., which I return. The
Corsair is copied, and now at Lord Holland's; but I wish Mr.
Gifford to have it to-night.

"Mr. Dallas is very _perverse_; so that I have offended both him
and you, when I really meaned to do good, at least to one, and
certainly not to annoy either.[6] But I shall manage him, I
hope.--I am pretty confident of the _Tale_ itself; but one cannot
be sure. If I get it from Lord Holland, it shall be sent.

"Yours," &c.

[Footnote 6: He had made a present of the copyright of "The Corsair" to Mr. Dallas, who thus describes the manner in which the gift was bestowed:--"On the 28th of December, I called in the morning on Lord Byron, whom I found composing 'The Corsair.' He had been working upon it but a few days, and he read me the portion he had written. After some observations, he said, 'I have a great mind--I will.' He then added that he should finish it soon, and asked me to accept of the copyright. I was much surprised. He had, before he was aware of the value of his works, declared that he never would take money for them, and that I should have the whole advantage of all he wrote. This declaration became morally void when the question was about thousands, instead of a few hundreds; and I perfectly agree with the admired and admirable author of Waverley, that 'the wise and good accept not gifts which are made in heat of blood, and which may be after repented of.'--I felt this on the sale of 'Childe Harold,' and observed it to him. The copyright of 'The Giaour' and 'The Bride of Abydos' remained undisposed of, though the poems were selling rapidly, nor had I the slightest notion that he would ever again give me a copyright. But as he continued in the resolution of not appropriating the sale of his works to his own use, I did not scruple to accept that of 'The Corsair,' and I thanked him. He asked me to call and hear the portions read as he wrote them. I went every morning, and was astonished at the rapidity of his composition. He gave me the poem complete on New-year's day, 1814, saying, that my acceptance of it gave him great pleasure, and that I was fully at liberty to publish it with any bookseller I pleased, independent of the profit."

Out of this last-mentioned permission arose the momentary embarrassment between the noble poet and his publisher, to which the above notes allude.]

* * * * *


["Jan. 1814.]

"I will answer your letter this evening; in the mean time, it may
be sufficient to say, that there was no intention on my part to
annoy you, but merely to _serve_ Dallas, and also to rescue myself
from a possible imputation that _I_ had other objects than fame in
writing so frequently. Whenever I avail myself of any profit
arising from my pen, depend upon it, it is not for my own
convenience; at least it never has been so, and I hope never will.

"P.S. I shall answer this evening, and will set all right about
Dallas. I thank you for your expressions of personal regard, which
I can assure you I do not lightly value."

* * * * *


"January 6. 1814.

"I have got a devil of a long story in the press, entitled 'The
Corsair,' in the regular heroic measure. It is a pirate's isle,
peopled with my own creatures, and you may easily suppose they do a
world of mischief through the three cantos. Now for your
dedication--if you will accept it. This is positively my last
experiment on public _literary_ opinion, till I turn my thirtieth
year,--if so be I flourish until that downhill period. I have a
confidence for you--a perplexing one to me, and, just at present,
in a state of abeyance in itself.

"However, we shall see. In the mean time, you may amuse yourself
with my suspense, and put all the justices of peace in requisition,
in case I come into your county with 'hackbut bent.'

"Seriously, whether I am to hear from her or him, it is a _pause_,
which I shall fill up with as few thoughts of my own as I can
borrow from other people. Any thing is better than stagnation; and
now, in the interregnum of my autumn and a strange summer
adventure, which I don't like to think of, (I don't mean * *'s,
however, which is laughable only,) the antithetical state of my
lucubrations makes me alive, and Macbeth can 'sleep no more:'--he
was lucky in getting rid of the drowsy sensation of waking again.

"Pray write to me. I must send you a copy of the letter of
dedication. When do you come out? I am sure we don't _clash_ this
time, for I am all at sea, and in action,--and a wife, and a
mistress, &c.

"Thomas, thou art a happy fellow; but if you wish us to be so, you
must come up to town, as you did last year: and we shall have a
world to say, and to see, and to hear. Let me hear from you.

"P.S. Of course you will keep my secret, and don't even talk in
your sleep of it. Happen what may, your dedication is ensured,
being already written; and I shall copy it out fair to-night, in
case business or amusement--_Amant alterna Camænæ_."

* * * * *


"Jan. 7. 1814.

"You don't like the dedication--very well; there is another: but
you will send the other to Mr. Moore, that he may know I _had_
written it. I send also mottoes for the cantos. I think you will
allow that an elephant may be more sagacious, but cannot be more

"Yours, BN.

"The _name_ is again altered to _Medora_"[7]

[Footnote 7: It had been at first Genevra,--not Francesca, as Mr. Dallas asserts.]

* * * * *


"January 8. 1814.

"As it would not be fair to press you into a dedication, without
previous notice, I send you _two_, and I will tell you _why two_.
The first, Mr. M., who sometimes takes upon him the critic (and I
bear it from _astonishment_), says, may do you _harm_--God
forbid!--this alone makes me listen to him. The fact is, he is a
damned Tory, and has, I dare swear, something of _self_, which I
cannot divine, at the bottom of his objection, as it is the
allusion to Ireland to which he objects. But he be d----d--though a
good fellow enough (your sinner would not be worth a d----n).

"Take your choice;--no one, save he and Mr. Dallas, has seen
either, and D. is quite on my side, and for the first.[8] If I can
but testify to you and the world how truly I admire and esteem you,
I shall be quite satisfied. As to prose, I don't know Addison's
from Johnson's; but I will try to mend my cacology. Pray perpend,
pronounce, and don't be offended with either.

"My last epistle would probably put you in a fidget. But the devil,
who _ought_ to be civil on such occasions, proved so, and took my
letter to the right place.

"Is it not odd?--the very fate I said she had escaped from * *, she
has now undergone from the worthy * *. Like Mr. Fitzgerald, shall I
not lay claim to the character of 'Vates?'--as he did in the
Morning Herald for prophesying the fall of Buonaparte,--who, by
the by, I don't think is yet fallen. I wish he would rally and
route your legitimate sovereigns, having a mortal hate to all royal
entails.--But I am scrawling a treatise. Good night. Ever," &c.

[Footnote 8: The first was, of course, the one that I preferred. The other ran as follows:--

"January 7. 1814.

"My dear Moore,

"I had written to you a long letter of dedication, which I
suppress, because, though it contained something relating to you
which every one had been glad to hear, yet there was too much about
politics, and poesy, and all things whatsoever, ending with that
topic on which most men are fluent, and none very amusing--_one's
self_. It might have been re-written--but to what purpose? My
praise could add nothing to your well-earned and firmly-established
fame; and with my most hearty admiration of your talents, and
delight in your conversation, you are already acquainted. In
availing myself of your friendly permission to inscribe this poem
to you, I can only wish the offering were as worthy your acceptance
as your regard is dear to,

"Yours, most affectionately and faithfully,

"BYRON." ]

* * * * *


"January 11. 1814.

"Correct this proof by Mr. Gifford's (and from the MSS.),
particularly as to the _pointing_. I have added a section for
_Gulnare_, to fill up the parting, and dismiss her more
ceremoniously. If Mr. Gifford or you dislike, 'tis but a _sponge_
and another midnight better employed than in yawning over Miss * *;
who, by the by, may soon return the compliment.

"Wednesday or Thursday.

"P.S. I have redde * *. It is full of praises of Lord
Ellenborough!!! (from which I infer near and dear relations at the
bar), and * * * *.

"I do not love Madame de Staël; but, depend upon it, she beats all
your natives hollow as an authoress, in my opinion; and I would not
say this if I could help it.

"P.S. Pray report my best acknowledgments to Mr. Gifford in any
words that may best express how truly his kindness obliges me. I
won't bore him with _lip_ thanks or _notes_."

* * * * *


"January 13. 1814.

"I have but a moment to write, but all is as it should be. I have
said really far short of my opinion, but if you think enough, I am
content. Will you return the proof by the post, as I leave town on
Sunday, and have no other corrected copy. I put 'servant,' as being
less familiar before the public; because I don't like presuming
upon our friendship to infringe upon forms. As to the other _word_,
you may be sure it is one I cannot hear or repeat too often.

"I write in an agony of haste and confusion.--Perdonate."

* * * * *


"January 15. 1814.

"Before any proof goes to Mr. Gifford, it may be as well to revise
this, where there are _words omitted_, faults committed, and the
devil knows what. As to the dedication, I cut out the parenthesis
of _Mr._[9], but not another word shall move unless for a better.
Mr. Moore has seen, and decidedly preferred the part your Tory bile
sickens at. If every syllable were a rattle-snake, or every letter
a pestilence, they should not be expunged. Let those who cannot
swallow chew the expressions on Ireland; or should even Mr. Croker
array himself in all his terrors them, I care for none of you,
except Gifford; and he won't abuse me, except I deserve it--which
will at least reconcile me to his justice. As to the poems in
Hobhouse's volume, the translation from the Romaic is well enough;
but the best of the other volume (of _mine_, I mean) have been
already printed. But do as you please--only, as I shall be absent
when you come out, _do_, _pray_, let Mr. _Dallas_ and _you_ have a
care of the _press_. Yours," &c.

[Footnote 9: He had at first, after the words "Scott alone," inserted, in a parenthesis,--"He will excuse the _Mr._----'we do not say _Mr._ Cæsar.'"]

* * * * *


["1814. January 16.]

"I do believe that the devil never created or perverted such a
fiend as the fool of a printer.[10] I am obliged to enclose you,
_luckily_ for me, this _second_ proof, _corrected_, because there
is an ingenuity in his blunders peculiar to himself. Let the press
be guided by the present sheet. Yours, &c.

"_Burn the other_.

"Correct _this also_ by the other in some things which I may have
forgotten. There is one mistake he made, which, if it had stood, I
would most certainly have broken his neck."

[Footnote 10: The amusing rages into which he was thrown by the printer were vented not only in these notes, but frequently on the proof-sheets themselves. Thus, a passage in the dedication having been printed "the first of her bands in estimation," he writes in the margin, "bards, not bands--was there ever such a stupid misprint?" and, in correcting a line that had been curtailed of its due number of syllables, he says, "Do _not_ omit words--it is quite enough to alter or mis-spell them."]

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, January 22. 1814.

"You will be glad to hear of my safe arrival here. The time of my
return will depend upon the weather, which is so impracticable,
that this letter has to advance through more snows than ever
opposed the Emperor's retreat. The roads are impassable, and return
impossible for the present; which I do not regret, as I am much at
my ease, and _six-and-twenty_ complete this day--a very pretty age,
if it would always last. Our coals are excellent, our fire-places
large, my cellar full, and my head empty; and I have not yet
recovered my joy at leaving London. If any unexpected turn occurred
with my purchasers, I believe I should hardly quit the place at
all; but shut my door, and let my beard grow.

"I forgot to mention (and I hope it is unnecessary) that the lines
beginning--_Remember him_, &c. must _not_ appear with _The
Corsair_. You may slip them in with the smaller pieces newly
annexed to _Childe Harold_; but on no account permit them to be
appended to The Corsair. Have the goodness to recollect this

"The books I have brought with me are a great consolation for the
confinement, and I bought more as we came along. In short, I never
consult the thermometer, and shall not put up prayers for a _thaw_,
unless I thought it would sweep away the rascally invaders of
France. Was ever such a thing as Blucher's proclamation?

"Just before I left town, Kemble paid me the compliment of desiring
me to write a _tragedy_; I wish I could, but I find my scribbling
mood subsiding--not before it was time; but it is lucky to check it
at all. If I lengthen my letter, you will think it is coming on
again; so, good-by. Yours alway,


"P.S. If you hear any news of battle or retreat on the part of the
Allies (as they call them), pray send it. He has my best wishes to
manure the fields of France with an _invading_ army. I hate
invaders of all countries, and have no patience with the cowardly
cry of exultation over him, at whose name you all turned whiter
than the snow to which you are indebted for your triumphs.

"I open my letter to thank you for yours just received. The 'Lines
to a Lady Weeping' must go with The Corsair. I care nothing for
consequence, on this point. My politics are to me like a young
mistress to an old man--the worse they grow, the fonder I become of
them. As Mr. Gilford likes the 'Portuguese Translation[11],' pray
insert it as an addition to The Corsair.

"In all points of difference between Mr. Gifford and Mr. Dallas,
let the first keep his place; and in all points of difference
between Mr. Gifford and Mr. Anybody-else, I shall abide by the
former; if I am wrong, I can't help it. But I would rather not be
right with any other person. So there is an end of that matter.
After all the trouble he has taken about me and mine, I should be
very ungrateful to feel or act otherwise. Besides, in point of
judgment, he is not to be lowered by a comparison. In _politics_,
he may be right too; but that with me is a _feeling_, and I can't
_torify_ my nature."

[Footnote 11: His translation of the pretty Portuguese song, "Tu mi chamas." He was tempted to try another version of this ingenious thought, which is, perhaps, still more happy, and has never, I believe, appeared in print.

"You call me still your _life_--ah! change the word--
Life is as transient as th' inconstant's sigh;
Say rather I'm your _soul_, more just that name,
For, like the soul, my love can never die." ]

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, February 4. 1814.

"I need not say that your obliging letter was very welcome, and not
the less so for being unexpected.

"It doubtless gratifies me much that our _finale_ has pleased, and
that the curtain drops gracefully.[12] _You_ deserve it should, for
your promptitude and good nature in arranging immediately with Mr.
Dallas; and I can assure you that I esteem your entering so warmly
into the subject, and writing to me so soon upon it, as a personal
obligation. We shall now part, I hope, satisfied with each other. I
_was_ and am quite in earnest in my prefatory promise not to
intrude any more; and this not from any affectation, but a thorough
conviction that it is the best policy, and is at least respectful
to my readers, as it shows that I would not willingly run the risk
of forfeiting their favour in future. Besides, I have other views
and objects, and think that I shall keep this resolution; for,
since I left London, though shut up, _snow_-bound, _thaw_-bound,
and tempted with all kinds of paper, the dirtiest of ink, and the
bluntest of pens, I have not even been haunted by a wish to put
them to their combined uses, except in letters of business. My
rhyming propensity is quite gone, and I feel much as I did at
Patras on recovering from my fever--weak, but in health, and only
afraid of a relapse. I do most fervently hope I never shall.

"I see by the Morning Chronicle there hath been discussion in the
_Courier_; and I read in the Morning Post a wrathful letter about
Mr. Moore, in which some Protestant Reader has made a sad confusion
about _India_ and Ireland.

"You are to do as you please about the smaller poems; but I think
removing them _now_ from The Corsair looks like _fear_; and if so,
you must allow me not to be pleased. I should also suppose that,
after the _fuss_ of these newspaper esquires, they would materially
assist the circulation of The Corsair; an object I should imagine
at _present_ of more importance to _yourself_ than Childe Harold's
seventh appearance. Do as you like; but don't allow the withdrawing
that _poem_ to draw any imputation of _dismay_ upon me.

"Pray make my respects to Mr. Ward, whose praise I value most
highly, as you well know; it is in the approbation of such men that
fame becomes worth having. To Mr. Gifford I am always grateful,
and surely not less so now than ever. And so good night to my

"I have been sauntering and dozing here very quietly, and not
unhappily. You will be happy to hear that I have completely
established my title-deeds as marketable, and that the purchaser
has succumbed to the terms, and fulfils them, or is to fulfil them
forthwith. He is now here, and we go on very amicably
together,--one in each _wing_ of the Abbey. We set off on Sunday--I
for town, he for Cheshire.

"Mrs. Leigh is with me--much pleased with the place, and less so
with me for parting with it, to which not even the price can
reconcile her. Your parcel has not yet arrived--at least the
_Mags_. &c.; but I have received Childe Harold and The Corsair.

"I believe both are very correctly printed, which is a great

"I thank you for wishing me in town; but I think one's success is
most felt at a distance, and I enjoy my solitary self-importance in
an agreeable sulky way of my own, upon the strength of your
letter--for which I once more thank you, and am, very truly, &c.

"P.S. Don't you think Buonaparte's next _publication_ will be
rather expensive to the Allies? Perry's Paris letter of yesterday
looks very reviving. What a Hydra and Briareus it is! I wish they
would pacify: there is no end to this campaigning."

[Footnote 12: It will be recollected that he had announced The Corsair as "the last production with which he should trespass on public patience for some years."]

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, February 5. 1814.

"I quite forgot, in my answer of yesterday, to mention that I have
no means of ascertaining whether the Newark _Pirate_ has been doing
what you say.[13] If so, he is a rascal, and a _shabby_ rascal too;
and if his offence is punishable by law or pugilism, he shall be
fined or buffeted. Do you try and discover, and I will make some
enquiry here. Perhaps some _other_ in town may have gone on
printing, and used the same deception.

"The _fac-simile_ is omitted in Childe Harold, which is very
awkward, as there is a _note_ expressly on the subject. Pray
_replace_ it as _usual_.

"On second and third thoughts, the withdrawing the small poems from
The Corsair (even to add to Childe Harold) looks like shrinking and
shuffling after the fuss made upon one of them by the Tories. Pray
replace them in The Corsair's appendix. I am sorry that Childe
Harold requires some and such abetments to make him move off; but,
if you remember, I told you his popularity would not be permanent.
It is very lucky for the author that he had made up his mind to a
temporary reputation in time. The truth is, I do not think that any
of the present day (and least of all, one who has not consulted the
flattering side of human nature,) have much to hope from posterity;
and you may think it affectation very probably, but, to me, my
present and past success has appeared very singular, since it was
in the teeth of so many prejudices. I almost think people like to
be contradicted. If Childe Harold flags, it will hardly be worth
while to go on with the engravings: but do as you please; I have
done with the whole concern; and the enclosed lines, written years
ago, and copied from my skull-cap, are among the last with which
you will be troubled. If you like, add them to Childe Harold, if
only for the sake of another outcry. You received so long an answer
yesterday, that I will not intrude on you further than to repeat

"Yours, &c.

"P.S. Of course, in reprinting (if you have occasion), you will
take great care to be correct. The present editions seem very much
so, except in the last note of Childe Harold, where the word
_responsible_ occurs twice nearly together; correct the second into

[Footnote 13: Reprinting the "Hours of Idleness."]

* * * * *


"Newark, February 6. 1814.

"I am thus far on my way to town. Master Ridge[14] I have seen, and
he owns to having _reprinted_ some _sheets_, to make up a few
complete remaining copies! I have now given him fair warning, and
if he plays such tricks again, I must either get an injunction, or
call for an account of profits (as I never have parted with the
copyright), or, in short, any thing vexatious, to repay him in his
own way. If the weather does not relapse, I hope to be in town in a
day or two. Yours," &c.

[Footnote 14: The printer at Newark.]

* * * * *


"February 7. 1814.

"I see all the papers in a sad commotion with those eight lines;
and the Morning Post, in particular, has found out that I am a sort
of Richard III.--deformed in mind and _body_. The _last_ piece of
information is not very new to a man who passed five years at a
public school.

"I am very sorry you cut out those lines for Childe Harold. Pray
re-insert them in their old place in 'The Corsair.'"

* * * * *


"February 28. 1814.

"There is a youngster, and a clever one, named Reynolds, who has
just published a poem called 'Safie,' published by Cawthorne. He is
in the most natural and fearful apprehension of the Reviewers; and
as you and I both know by experience the effect of such things upon
a _young_ mind, I wish you would take his production into
dissection, and do it _gently_. _I_ cannot, because it is inscribed
to me; but I assure you this is not my motive for wishing him to be
tenderly entreated, but because I know the misery at his time of
life, of untoward remarks upon first appearance.

"Now for _self_. Pray thank your _cousin_--it is just as it should
be, to my liking, and probably _more_ than will suit any one
else's. I hope and trust that you are well and well doing. Peace be
with you. Ever yours, my dear friend."

* * * * *


"February 10. 1814.

"I arrived in town late yesterday evening, having been absent three
weeks, which I passed in Notts. quietly and pleasantly. You can
have no conception of the uproar the eight lines on the little
Royalty's weeping in 1812 (now republished) have occasioned. The R
* *, who had always thought them _yours_, chose--God knows why--on
discovering them to be mine, to be _affected_ 'in sorrow rather
than anger.' The Morning Post, Sun, Herald, Courier, have all been
in hysterics ever since. M. is in a fright, and wanted to shuffle;
and the abuse against me in all directions is vehement, unceasing,
loud--some of it good, and all of it hearty. I feel a little
compunctious as to the R * *'s _regret_;--'would he had been only
angry! but I fear him not.'

"Some of these same assailments you have probably seen. My person
(which is excellent for 'the nonce') has been denounced in verses,
the more like the subject, inasmuch as they halt exceedingly. Then,
in another, I am an _atheist_, a _rebel_, and, at last, the _devil_
(_boiteux_, I presume). My demonism seems to be a female's
conjecture; if so, perhaps, I could convince her that I am but a
mere mortal,--if a queen of the Amazons may be believed, who says
[Greek: ariston chôlos oiphei]. I quote from memory, so my Greek is
probably deficient; but the passage is _meant_ to mean * *.

"Seriously, I am in, what the learned call, a dilemma, and the
vulgar, a scrape; and my friends desire me not to be in a passion;
and, like Sir Fretful, I assure them that I am 'quite calm,'--but
I am nevertheless in a fury.

"Since I wrote thus far, a friend has come in, and we have been
talking and buffooning till I have quite lost the thread of my
thoughts; and, as I won't send them unstrung to you, good morning,

"Believe me ever, &c.

"P.S. Murray, during my absence, _omitted_ the Tears in several of
the copies. I have made him replace them, and am very wroth with
his qualms,--'as the wine is poured out, let it be drunk to the

* * * * *


"February 10. 1814.

"I am much better, and indeed quite well, this morning. I have
received _two_, but I presume there are more of the _Ana_,
subsequently, and also something previous, to which the Morning
Chronicle replied. You also mentioned a parody on the _Skull_. I
wish to see them all, because there may be things that require
notice either by pen or person.

"Yours, &c.

"You need not trouble yourself to answer this; but send me the
things when you get them."

* * * * *


"February 12. 1814.

"If you have copies of the 'Intercepted Letters,' Lady Holland
would be glad of a volume; and when you have served others, have
the goodness to think of your humble servant.

"You have played the devil by that injudicious _suppression_, which
you did totally without my consent. Some of the papers have exactly
said what might be expected. Now I _do_ not, and _will_ not be
supposed to shrink, although myself and every thing belonging to me
were to perish with my memory. Yours, &c. BN.

"P.S. Pray attend to what I stated yesterday on _technical_

* * * * *


"Monday, February 14. 1814.

"Before I left town yesterday, I wrote you a note, which I presume
you received. I have heard so many different accounts of _your_
proceedings, or rather of those of others towards _you_, in
consequence of the publication of these everlasting lines, that I
am anxious to hear from yourself the real state of the case.
Whatever responsibility, obloquy, or effect is to arise from the
publication, should surely _not_ fall upon you in any degree; and I
can have no objection to your stating, as distinctly and publicly
as you please, _your_ unwillingness to publish them, and my own
obstinacy upon the subject. Take any course you please to vindicate
_yourself_, but leave me to fight my own way; and, as I before
said, do not _compromise_ me by any thing which may look like
_shrinking_ on my part; as for your own, make the best of it.
Yours, BN."

* * * * *


"February 16. 1814.

"My dear Rogers,

"I wrote to Lord Holland briefly, but I hope distinctly, on the
subject which has lately occupied much of my conversation with him
and you.[15] As things now stand, upon that topic my determination
must be unalterable.

"I declare to you most sincerely that there is no human being on
whose regard and esteem I set a higher value than on Lord
Holland's; and, as far as concerns himself, I would concede even to
humiliation, without any view to the future, and solely from my
sense of his conduct as to the past. For the rest, I conceive that
I have already done all in my power by the suppression.[16] If that
is not enough, they must act as they please; but I will not 'teach
my tongue a most inherent baseness,' come what may. You will
probably be at the Marquis Lansdowne's to-night. I am asked, but I
am not sure that I shall be able to go. Hobhouse will be there. I
think, if you knew him well, you would like him.

"Believe me always yours very affectionately,


[Footnote 15: Relative to a proposed reconciliation between Lord Carlisle and himself.]

[Footnote 16: Of the Satire.]

* * * * *


"February 16. 1814.

"If Lord Holland is satisfied, as far as regards himself and Lady
Hd., and as this letter expresses him to be, it is enough.

"As for any impression the public may receive from the revival of
the lines on Lord Carlisle, let them keep it,--the more favourable
for him, and the worse for me,--better for all.

"All the sayings and doings in the world shall not make me utter
another word of conciliation to any thing that breathes. I shall
bear what I can, and what I cannot I shall resist. The worst they
could do would be to exclude me from society. I have never courted
it, nor, I may add, in the general sense of the word, enjoyed
it--and 'there is a world elsewhere!'

"Any thing remarkably injurious, I have the same means of repaying
as other men, with such interest as circumstances may annex to it.

"Nothing but the necessity of adhering to regimen prevents me from
dining with you to-morrow.

"I am yours most truly,


* * * * *


"February 16. 1814.

"You may be assured that the only prickles that sting from the
Royal hedgehog are those which possess a torpedo property, and may
benumb some of my friends. _I_ am quite silent, and 'hush'd in grim
repose.' The frequency of the assaults has weakened their
effects,--if ever they had any;--and, if they had had much, I
should hardly have held my tongue, or withheld my fingers. It is
something quite new to attack a man for abandoning his resentments.
I have heard that previous praise and subsequent vituperation were
rather ungrateful, but I did not know that it was wrong to
endeavour to do justice to those who did not wait till I had made
some amends for former and boyish prejudices, but received me into
their friendship, when I might still have been their enemy.

"You perceive justly that I must _intentionally_ have made my
fortune like Sir Francis Wronghead. It were better if there were
more merit in my independence, but it really is something nowadays
to be independent at all, and the _less_ temptation to be
otherwise, the more uncommon the case, in these times of
paradoxical servility. I believe that most of our hates and likings
have been hitherto nearly the same; but from henceforth they must,
of necessity, be one and indivisible,--and now for it! I am for any
weapon,--the pen, till one can find something sharper, will do for
a beginning.

"You can have no conception of the ludicrous solemnity with which
these two stanzas have been treated. The Morning Post gave notice
of an intended motion in the House of my brethren on the subject,
and God he knows what proceedings besides;--and all this, as
Bedreddin in the 'Nights' says, 'for making a cream tart without
pepper.' This last piece of intelligence is, I presume, too
laughable to be true; and the destruction of the Custom-house
appears to have, in some degree, interfered with mine; added to
which, the last battle of Buonaparte has usurped the column
hitherto devoted to my bulletin.

"I send you from this day's Morning Post the best which have
hitherto appeared on this 'impudent doggerel,' as the Courier calls
it. There was another about my _diet_, when a boy--not at all
bad--some time ago; but the rest are but indifferent.

"I shall think about your _oratorical_ hint[17];--but I have never
set much upon 'that cast,' and am grown as tired as Solomon of
every thing, and of myself more than any thing. This is being what
the learned call philosophical, and the vulgar lack-a-daisical. I
am, however, always glad of a blessing[18]; pray, repeat yours
soon,--at least your letter, and I shall think the benediction

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 17: I had endeavoured to persuade him to take a part in parliamentary affairs, and to exercise his talent for oratory more frequently.]

[Footnote 18: In concluding my letter, having said "God bless you!" I added--"that is, if you have no objection."]

* * * * *


"February 17. 1814.

"The Courier of this evening accuses me of having 'received and
pocketed' large sums for my works. I have never yet received, nor
wish to receive, a farthing for any. Mr. Murray offered a thousand
for The Giaour and Bride of Abydos, which I said was too much, and
that if he could afford it at the end of six months, I would then
direct how it might be disposed of; but neither then, nor at any
other period, have I ever availed myself of the profits on my own
account. For the republication of the Satire I refused four
hundred guineas; and for the previous editions I never asked nor
received a _sous_, nor for any writing whatever. I do not wish you
to do any thing disagreeable to yourself; there never was nor shall
be any conditions nor stipulations with regard to any accommodation
that I could afford you; and, on your part, I can see nothing
derogatory in receiving the copyright. It was only assistance
afforded to a worthy man, by one not quite so worthy.

"Mr. Murray is going to contradict this [19]; but your name will
not be mentioned: for your own part, you are a free agent, and are
to do as you please. I only hope that now, as always, you will
think that I wish to take no unfair advantage of the accidental
opportunity which circumstances permitted me of being of use to
you. Ever," &c.

[Footnote 19: The statement of the Courier, &c.]

* * * * *

In consequence of this letter, Mr. Dallas addressed an explanation to one of the newspapers, of which the following is a part;--the remainder being occupied with a rather clumsily managed defence of his noble benefactor on the subject of the Stanzas.



"I have seen the paragraph in an evening paper, in which Lord Byron
is _accused_ of 'receiving and pocketing' large sums for his works.
I believe no one who knows him has the slightest suspicion of this
kind; but the assertion being public, I think it a justice I owe
to Lord Byron to contradict it publicly. I address this letter to
you for that purpose, and I am happy that it gives me an
opportunity at this moment to make some observations which I have
for several days been anxious to do publicly, but from which I have
been restrained by an apprehension that I should be suspected of
being prompted by his Lordship.

"I take upon me to affirm, that Lord Byron never received a
shilling for any of his works. To my certain knowledge, the profits
of the Satire were left entirely to the publisher of it. The gift
of the copyright of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage I have already
publicly acknowledged in the dedication of the new edition of my
novels; and I now add my acknowledgment for that of The Corsair,
not only for the profitable part of it, but for the delicate and
delightful manner of bestowing it while yet unpublished. With
respect to his two other poems, The Giaour and The Bride of Abydos,
Mr. Murray, the publisher of them, can truly attest that no part of
the sale of them has ever touched his hands, or been disposed of
for his use. Having said thus much as to facts, I cannot but
express my surprise that it should ever be deemed a matter of
reproach that he should appropriate the pecuniary returns of his
works. Neither rank nor fortune seems to me to place any man above
this; for what difference does it make in honour and noble
feelings, whether a copyright be bestowed, or its value employed,
in beneficent purposes? I differ with my Lord Byron on this subject
as well as some others; and he has constantly, both by word and
action, shown his aversion to receiving money for his productions."

* * * * *


"February 26. 1814.

"Dallas had, perhaps, have better kept silence;--but that was _his_
concern, and, as his facts are correct, and his motive not
dishonourable to himself, I wished him well through it. As for his
interpretations of the lines, he and any one else may interpret
them as they please. I have and shall adhere to my taciturnity,
unless something very particular occurs to render this impossible.
Do _not you_ say a word. If any one is to speak, it is the person
principally concerned. The most amusing thing is, that every one
(to me) attributes the abuse to the _man they personally most
dislike!_--some say C * * r, some C * * e, others F * * d, &c. &c.
&c. I do not know, and have no clue but conjecture. If discovered,
and he turns out a hireling, he must be left to his wages; if a
cavalier, he must 'wink, and hold out his iron.'

"I had some thoughts of putting the question to C * * r, but H.,
who, I am sure, would not dissuade me if it were right, advised me
by all means _not_;--'that I had no right to take it upon
suspicion,' &c. &c. Whether H. is correct I am not aware, but he
believes himself so, and says there can be but one opinion on that
subject. This I am, at least, sure of, that he would never prevent
me from doing what he deemed the duty of a _preux_ chevalier. In
such cases--at least, in this country--we must act according to
usages. In considering this instance, I dismiss my own personal
feelings. Any man will and must fight, when necessary,--even
without a motive. _Here_, I should take it up really without much
resentment; for, unless a woman one likes is in the way, it is some
years since I felt a _long_ anger. But, undoubtedly, could I, or
may I, trace it to a man of station, I should and shall do what is

"* * was angerly, but tried to conceal it. _You_ are not called
upon to avow the 'Twopenny,' and would only gratify them by so
doing. Do you not see the great object of all these fooleries is to
set him, and you, and me, and all persons whatsoever, by the
ears?--more especially those who are on good terms,--and nearly
succeeded. Lord H. wished me to _concede_ to Lord Carlisle--concede
to the devil!--to a man who used me ill? I told him, in answer,
that I would neither concede, nor recede on the subject, but be
silent altogether; unless any thing more could be said about Lady
H. and himself, who had been since my very good friends;--and there
it ended. This was no time for concessions to Lord C.

"I have been interrupted, but shall write again soon. Believe me
ever, my dear Moore," &c.

* * * * *

Another of his friends having expressed, soon after, some intention of volunteering publicly in his defence, he lost no time in repressing him by the following sensible letter:--

LETTER 169. TO W * * W * *, ESQ.

"February 28. 1814.

"My dear W.,

"I have but a few moments to write to you. _Silence_ is the only
answer to the things you mention; nor should I regard that man as
my friend who said a word more on the subject. I care little for
attacks, but I will not submit to _defences_; and I do hope and
trust that _you_ have never entertained a serious thought of
engaging in so foolish a controversy. Dallas's letter was, to his
credit, merely as to facts which he had a right to state; _I_
neither have nor shall take the least _public_ notice, nor permit
any one else to do so. If I discover the writer, then I may act in
a different manner; but it will not be in writing.

"An expression in your letter has induced me to write this to you,
to entreat you not to interfere in any way in such a business,--it
is now nearly over, and depend upon it _they_ are much more
chagrined by my silence than they could be by the best defence in
the world. I do not know any thing that would vex me more than any
further reply to these things.

"Ever yours, in haste,


* * * * *


"March 3. 1814.

"My dear Friend,

"I have a great mind to tell you that I _am_ 'uncomfortable,' if
only to make you come to town; where no one ever more delighted in
seeing you, nor is there any one to whom I would sooner turn for
consolation in my most vapourish moments. The truth is, I have 'no
lack of argument' to ponder upon of the most gloomy description,
but this arises from _other_ causes. Some day or other, when we are
_veterans_, I may tell you a tale of present and past times; and it
is not from want of confidence that I do not now,--but--but--always
a _but_ to the end of the chapter.

"There is nothing, however, upon the _spot_ either to love or
hate;--but I certainly have subjects for both at no very great
distance, and am besides embarrassed between _three_ whom I know,
and one (whose name, at least,) I do not know. All this would be
very well if I had no heart; but, unluckily, I have found that
there is such a thing still about me, though in no very good
repair, and, also, that it has a habit of attaching itself to _one_
whether I will or no. 'Divide et impera,' I begin to think, will
only do for politics.

"If I discover the 'toad' as you call him, I shall 'tread,'--and
put spikes in my shoes to do it more effectually. The effect of all
these fine things I do not enquire much nor perceive. I believe * *
felt them more than either of us. People are civil enough, and I
have had no dearth of invitations,--none of which, however, I have
accepted. I went out very little last year, and mean to go about
still less. I have no passion for circles, and have long regretted
that I ever gave way to what is called a town life;--which, of all
the lives I ever saw (and they are nearly as many as Plutarch's),
seems to me to leave the least for the past and future.

"How proceeds the poem? Do not neglect it, and I have no fears. I
need not say to you that your fame is dear to me,--I really might
say _dearer_ than my own; for I have lately begun to think my
things have been strangely over-rated; and, at any rate, whether or
not, I have done with them for ever. I may say to you what I would
not say to every body, that the last two were written, The Bride in
four, and The Corsair in ten days[20],--which I take to be a most
humiliating confession, as it proves my own want of judgment in
publishing, and the public's in reading things, which cannot have
stamina for permanent attention. 'So much for Buckingham.'

"I have no dread of your being too hasty, and I have still less of
your failing. But I think a _year_ a very fair allotment of time to
a composition which is not to be Epic; and even Horace's 'Nonum
prematur' must have been intended for the Millennium, or some
longer-lived generation than ours. I wonder how much we should have
had of _him_, had he observed his own doctrines to the letter.
Peace be with you! Remember that I am always and most truly yours,

"P.S. I never heard the 'report' you mention, nor, I dare say, many
others. But, in course, you, as well as others, have 'damned
good-natured friends,' who do their duty in the usual way. One
thing will make you laugh. * * * *"

[Footnote 20: In asserting that he devoted but four days to the composition of The Bride, he must be understood to refer only to the first sketch of that poem,--the successive additions by which it was increased to its present length having occupied, as we have seen, a much longer period. The Corsair, on the contrary, was, from beginning to end, struck off at a heat--there being but little alteration or addition afterwards,--and the rapidity with which it was produced (being at the rate of nearly two hundred lines a day) would be altogether incredible, had we not his own, as well as his publisher's, testimony to the fact. Such an achievement,--taking into account the surpassing beauty of the work,--is, perhaps, wholly without a parallel in the history of Genius, and shows that 'écrire _par passion_,' as Rousseau expresses it, may be sometimes a shorter road to perfection than any that Art has ever struck out.]

* * * * *


"March 12. 1814.

"Guess darkly, and you will seldom err. At present, I shall say no
more, and, perhaps--but no matter. I hope we shall some day meet,
and whatever years may precede or succeed it, I shall mark it with
the 'white stone' in my calendar. I am not sure that I shall not
soon be in your neighbourhood again. If so, and I am alone (as will
probably be the case), I shall invade and carry you off, and
endeavour to atone for sorry fare by a sincere welcome. I don't
know the person absent (barring 'the sect') I should be so glad to
see again.

"I have nothing of the sort you mention but _the lines_ (the
Weepers), if you like to have them in the Bag. I wish to give them
all possible circulation. The _Vault_ reflection is downright
actionable, and to print it would be peril to the publisher; but I
think the Tears have a natural right to be bagged, and the editor
(whoever he may be) might supply a facetious note or not, as he

"I cannot conceive how the _Vault_[21] has got about,--but so it
is. It is too _farouche_; but, truth to say, my satires are not
very playful. I have the plan of an epistle in my head, _at_ him
and _to_ him; and, if they are not a little quieter, I shall embody
it. I should say little or nothing of _myself_. As to mirth and
ridicule, that is out of my way; but I have a tolerable fund of
sternness and contempt, and, with Juvenal before me, I shall
perhaps read him a lecture he has not lately heard in the C----t.
From particular circumstances, which came to my knowledge almost by
accident, I could 'tell him what he is--I know him well.'

"I meant, my dear M., to write to you a long letter, but I am
hurried, and time clips my inclination down to yours, &c.

"P.S. _Think again_ before you _shelf_ your poem. There is a
youngster, (older than me, by the by, but a younger poet,) Mr. G.
Knight, with a vol. of Eastern Tales, written since his
return,--for he has been in the countries. He sent to me last
summer, and I advised him to write one in _each measure_, without
any intention, at that time, of doing the same thing. Since that,
from a habit of writing in a fever, I have anticipated him in the
variety of measures, but quite unintentionally. Of the stories, I
know nothing, not having seen them[22]; but he has some lady in a
sack, too, like The Giaour:--he told me at the time.

"The best way to make the public 'forget' me is to remind them of
yourself. You cannot suppose that _I_ would ask you or advise you
to publish, if I thought you would _fail_. I really have _no_
literary envy; and I do not believe a friend's success ever sat
nearer another than yours do to my best wishes. It is for _elderly
gentlemen_ to 'bear no brother near,' and cannot become our disease
for more years than we may perhaps number. I wish you to be out
before Eastern subjects are again before the public."

[Footnote 21: Those bitter and powerful lines which he wrote on the opening of the vault that contained the remains of Henry VIII. and Charles I.]

[Footnote 22: He was not yet aware, it appears, that the anonymous manuscript sent to him by his publisher was from the pen of Mr. Knight.]

* * * * *


"March 12. 1814.

"I have not time to read the whole MS. [23], but what I have seen
seems very well written (both _prose_ and _verse_), and, though I
am and can be no judge (at least a fair one on this subject),
containing nothing which you _ought_ to hesitate publishing upon
_my_ account. If the author is not Dr. _Busby_ himself, I think it
a pity, on his _own_ account, that he should dedicate it to his
subscribers; nor can I perceive what Dr. Busby has to do with the
matter except as a translator of Lucretius, for whose doctrines he
is surely not responsible. I tell you openly, and really most
sincerely, that, if published at all, there is no earthly reason
why you should _not_; on the contrary, I should receive it as the
greatest compliment _you_ could pay to your good opinion of my
candour, to print and circulate that or any other work, attacking
me in a manly manner, and without any malicious intention, from
which, as far as I have seen, I must exonerate this writer.

"He is wrong in one thing--_I_ am no _atheist_; but if he thinks I
have published principles tending to such opinions, he has a
perfect right to controvert them. Pray publish it; I shall never
forgive myself if I think that I have prevented you.

"Make my compliments to the author, and tell him I wish him
success: his verse is very deserving of it; and I shall be the last
person to suspect his motives. Yours, &c.

"P.S. If _you_ do not publish it, some one else will. You cannot
suppose me so narrow-minded as to shrink from discussion. I repeat
once for all, that I think it a good poem (as far as I have redde);
and that is the only point _you_ should consider. How odd that
eight lines should have given birth, I really think, to _eight
thousand_, including _all_ that has been said, and will be on the

[Footnote 23: The manuscript of a long grave satire, entitled "Anti-Byron," which had been sent to Mr. Murray, and by him forwarded to Lord Byron, with a _request_--not meant, I believe, seriously--that he would give his opinion as to the propriety of publishing it.]

* * * * *


"April 9. 1814.

"All these news are very fine; but nevertheless I want my books, if
you can find, or cause them to be found for me,--if only to lend
them to Napoleon, in "the Island of Elba," during his retirement. I
also (if convenient, and you have no party with you,) should be
glad to speak with you, for a few minutes, this evening, as I have
had a letter from Mr. Moore, and wish to ask you, as the best
judge, of the best time for him to publish the work he has
composed. I need not say, that I have his success much at heart;
not only because he is my friend, but something much better--a man
of great talent, of which he is less sensible than I believe any
even of his enemies. If you can so far oblige me as to step down,
do so; and if you are otherwise occupied, say nothing about it. I
shall find you at home in the course of next week.

"P.S. I see Sotheby's Tragedies advertised. The Death of Darnley is
a famous subject--one of the best, I should think, for the drama.
Pray let me have a copy when ready.

"Mrs. Leigh was very much pleased with her books, and desired me to
thank you; she means, I believe, to write to you her

* * * * *


"2. Albany, April 9. 1814.

"Viscount Althorp is about to be married, and I have gotten his
spacious bachelor apartments in Albany, to which you will, I hope,
address a speedy answer to this mine epistle.

"I am but just returned to town, from which you may infer that I
have been out of it; and I have been boxing, for exercise, with
Jackson for this last month daily. I have also been drinking, and,
on one occasion, with three other friends at the Cocoa Tree, from
six till four, yea, unto five in the matin. We clareted and
champagned till two--then supped, and finished with a kind of
regency punch composed of madeira, brandy, and _green_ tea, no
_real_ water being admitted therein. There was a night for you!
without once quitting the table, except to ambulate home, which I
did alone, and in utter contempt of a hackney-coach and my own
_vis_, both of which were deemed necessary for our conveyance. And
so,--I am very well, and they say it will hurt my constitution.

"I have also, more or less, been breaking a few of the favourite
commandments; but I mean to pull up and marry, if any one will have
me. In the mean time, the other day I nearly killed myself with a
collar of brawn, which I swallowed for supper, and _in_digested for
I don't know how long: but that is by the by. All this gourmandise
was in honour of Lent; for I am forbidden meat all the rest of the
year, but it is strictly enjoined me during your solemn fast. I
have been, and am, in very tolerable love; but of that hereafter as
it may be.

"My dear Moore, say what you will in your preface; and quiz any
thing or any body,--me if you like it. Oons! dost thou think me of
the _old_, or rather _elderly_, school? If one can't jest with
one's friends, with whom can we be facetious? You have nothing to
fear from * *, whom I have not seen, being out of town when he
called. He will be very correct, smooth, and all that, but I doubt
whether there will be any 'grace beyond the reach of art;'--and,
whether there is or not, how long will you be so d----d modest? As
for Jeffrey, it is a very handsome thing of him to speak well of an
old antagonist,--and what a mean mind dared not do. Any one will
revoke praise; but--were it not partly my own case--I should say
that very few have strength of mind to unsay their censure, or
follow it up with praise of other things.

"What think you of the review of _Levis_? It beats the Bag and my
hand-grenade hollow, as an invective, and hath thrown the Court
into hysterics, as I hear from very good authority. Have you heard
from * * *?

"No more rhyme for--or rather, _from_--me. I have taken my leave of
that stage, and henceforth will mountebank it no longer. I have had
my day, and there's an end. The utmost I expect, or even wish, is
to have it said in the Biographia Britannica, that I might perhaps
have been a poet, had I gone on and amended. My great comfort is,
that the temporary celebrity I have wrung from the world has been
in the very teeth of all opinions and prejudices. I have flattered
no ruling powers; I have never concealed a single thought that
tempted me. They can't say I have truckled to the times, nor to
popular topics, (as Johnson, or somebody, said of Cleveland,) and
whatever I have gained has been at the expenditure of as much
_personal_ favour as possible; for I do believe never was a bard
more unpopular, _quoad homo_, than myself. And now I have
done;--'ludite nunc alios.' Every body may be d----d, as they seem
fond of it, and resolve to stickle lustily for endless brimstone.

"Oh--by the by, I had nearly forgot. There is a long poem, an
'Anti-Byron,' coming out, to prove that I have formed a conspiracy
to overthrow, by _rhyme_, all religion and government, and have
already made great progress! It is not very scurrilous, but serious
and ethereal. I never felt myself important, till I saw and heard
of my being such a little Voltaire as to induce such a production.
Murray would not publish it, for which he was a fool, and so I told
him; but some one else will, doubtless. 'Something too much of

"Your French scheme is good, but let it be _Italian_; all the
Angles will be at Paris. Let it be Rome, Milan, Naples, Florence,
Turin, Venice, or Switzerland, and 'egad!' (as Bayes saith,) I will
connubiate and join you; and we will write a new 'Inferno' in our
Paradise. Pray think of this--and I will really buy a wife and a
ring, and say the ceremony, and settle near you in a summer-house
upon the Arno, or the Po, or the Adriatic.

"Ah! my poor little pagod, Napoleon, has walked off his pedestal.
He has abdicated, they say. This would draw molten brass from the
eyes of Zatanai. What! 'kiss the ground before young Malcolm's
feet, and then be baited by the rabble's curse!' I cannot bear
such a crouching catastrophe. I must stick to Sylla, for my modern
favourites don't do,--their resignations are of a different kind.
All health and prosperity, my dear Moore. Excuse this lengthy
letter. Ever, &c.

"P.S. The Quarterly quotes you frequently in an article on America;
and every body I know asks perpetually after you and yours. When
will you answer them in person?"

* * * * *

He did not long persevere in his resolution against writing, as will be seen from the following notes to his publisher.


"April 10. 1814.

"I have written an Ode on the fall of Napoleon, which, if you like,
I will copy out, and make you a present of. Mr. Merivale has seen
part of it, and likes it. You may show it to Mr. Gifford, and print
it, or not, as you please--it is of no consequence. It contains
nothing in _his_ favour, and no allusion whatever to our own
government or the Bourbons. Yours, &c.

"P.S. It is in the measure of my stanzas at the end of Childe
Harold, which were much liked, beginning 'And thou art dead,' &c.
&c. There are ten stanzas of it--ninety lines in all."

* * * * *


"April 11. 1814.

"I enclose you a letter_et_ from Mrs. Leigh.

"It will be best _not_ to put my name to our _Ode_; but you may
_say_ as openly as you like that it is mine, and I can inscribe it
to Mr. Hobhouse, from the _author_, which will mark it
sufficiently. After the resolution of not publishing, though it is
a thing of little length and less consequence, it will be better
altogether that it is anonymous; but we will incorporate it in the
first _tome_ of ours that you find time or the wish to publish.
Yours alway, B.

"P.S. I hope you got a note of alterations, sent this matin?

"P.S. Oh my books! my books! will you never find my books?

"Alter '_potent_ spell' to '_quickening_ spell:' the first (as
Polonius says) 'is a vile phrase,' and means nothing, besides being
common-place and _Rosa-Matilda-ish_."

* * * * *


"April 12. 1814.

"I send you a few notes and trifling alterations, and an additional
motto from Gibbon, which you will find _singularly appropriate_. A
'Good-natured Friend' tells me there is a most scurrilous attack on
_us_ in the Anti-jacobin Review, which you have _not_ sent. Send
it, as I am in that state of languor which will derive benefit from
getting into a passion. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"Albany, April 20. 1814.

"I _am_ very glad to hear that you are to be transient from
Mayfield so very soon, and was taken in by the first part of your
letter.[24] Indeed, for aught I know, you may be treating me, as
Slipslop says, with 'ironing' even now. I shall say nothing of the
_shock_, which had nothing of _humeur_ in it; as I am apt to take
even a critic, and still more a friend, at his word, and never to
doubt that I have been writing cursed nonsense, if they say so.
There was a mental reservation in my pact with the public[25], in
behalf of _anonymes_; and, even had there not, the provocation was
such as to make it physically impossible to pass over this damnable
epoch of triumphant tameness. 'Tis a cursed business; and, after
all, I shall think higher of rhyme and reason, and very humbly of
your heroic people, till--Elba becomes a volcano, and sends him
out again. I can't think it all over yet.

"My departure for the Continent depends, in some measure, on the
_in_continent. I have two country invitations at home, and don't
know what to say or do. In the mean time, I have bought a macaw and
a parrot, and have got up my books; and I box and fence daily, and
go out very little.

"At this present writing, Louis the Gouty is wheeling in triumph
into Piccadilly, in all the pomp and rabblement of royalty. I had
an offer of seats to see them pass; but, as I have seen a Sultan
going to mosque, and been at _his_ reception of an ambassador, the
most Christian King 'hath no attractions for me:'--though in some
coming year of the Hegira, I should not dislike to see the place
where he _had_ reigned, shortly after the second revolution, and a
happy sovereignty of two months, the last six weeks being civil

"Pray write, and deem me ever," &c.

[Footnote 24: I had begun my letter in the following manner:--"Have you seen the 'Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte?'--I suspect it to be either F----g----d's or Rosa Matilda's. Those rapid and masterly portraits of all the tyrants that preceded Napoleon have a vigour in them which would incline me to say that Rosa Matilda is the person--but then, on the other hand, that powerful grasp of history," &c. &c. After a little more of this mock parallel, the letter went on thus:--"I should like to know what _you_ think of the matter?--Some friends of mine here _will_ insist that it is the work of the author of Childe Harold,--but then they are not so well read in F----g----d and Rosa Matilda as I am; and, besides, they seem to forget that _you_ promised, about a month or two ago, not to write any more for years. Seriously," &c. &c.

I quote this foolish banter merely to show how safely, even on his most sensitive points, one might venture to jest with him.]

[Footnote 25: We find D'Argenson thus encouraging Voltaire to break a similar vow:--"Continue to write without fear for five-and-twenty years longer, but write poetry, notwithstanding your oath in the preface to Newton."]

* * * * *


"April 21. 1814.

"Many thanks with the letters which I return. You know I am a
jacobin, and could not wear white, nor see the installation of
Louis the Gouty.

"This is sad news, and very hard upon the sufferers at any, but
more at _such_ a time--I mean the Bayonne sortie.

"You should urge Moore to come _out_.

"P.S. I want _Moreri_ to purchase for good and all. I have a Bayle,
but want Moreri too.

"P.S. Perry hath a piece of compliment to-day; but I think the
_name_ might have been as well omitted. No matter; they can but
throw the old story of inconsistency in my teeth--let them,--I
mean, as to not publishing. However, _now_ I will keep my word.
Nothing but the occasion, which was _physically_ irresistible, made
me swerve; and I thought an _anonyme_ within my _pact_ with the
public. It is the only thing I have or shall set about."

* * * * *


"April 25. 1814.

"Let Mr. Gifford have the letter and return it at his leisure. I
would have offered it, had I thought that he liked things of the

"Do you want the last page _immediately_! I have doubts about the
lines being worth printing; at any rate, I must see them again and
alter some passages, before they go forth in any shape into the
_ocean_ of circulation;--a very conceited phrase, by the by: well
then--_channel_ of publication will do.

"'I am not i' the vein,' or I could knock off a stanza or three for
the Ode, that might answer the purpose better.[26] At all events, I
_must_ see the lines again _first_, as there be two I have altered
in my mind's manuscript already. Has any one seen or judged of
them? that is the criterion by which I will abide--only give me a
_fair_ report, and 'nothing extenuate,' as I will in that case do
something else.

"Ever," &c.

"I want _Moreri_, and an _Athenæus_."

[Footnote 26: Mr. Murray had requested of him to make some additions to the Ode, so as to save the stamp duty imposed upon publications not exceeding a single sheet; and he afterwards added, in successive editions, five or six stanzas, the original number being but eleven. There were also three more stanzas, which he never printed, but which, for the just tribute they contain to Washington, are worthy of being preserved:--

"There was a day--there was an hour,
While earth was Gaul's--Gaul thine--
When that immeasurable power
Unsated to resign
Had been an act of purer fame
Than gathers round Marengo's name
And gilded thy decline,
Through the long twilight of all time,
Despite some passing clouds of crime.

"But thou, forsooth, must be a king,
And don the purple vest,
As if that foolish robe could wring
Remembrance from thy breast.
Where is that faded garment? where
The gewgaws thou wert fond to wear,
The star--the string--the crest?
Vain froward child of empire! say,
Are all thy playthings snatch'd away?

"Where may the wearied eye repose
When gazing on the great;
Where neither guilty glory glows,
Nor despicable state?
Yes--one--the first--the last--the best--
The Cincinnatus of the West,
Whom envy dared not hate,
Bequeathed the name of Washington,
To make man blush there was but One!" ]

* * * * *


"April 26. 1814.

"I have been thinking that it might be as well to publish no more
of the Ode separately, but incorporate it with any of the other
things, and include the smaller poem too (in that case)--which I
must previously correct, nevertheless. I can't, for the head of me,
add a line worth scribbling; my 'vein' is quite gone, and my
present occupations are of the gymnastic order--boxing and
fencing--and my principal conversation is with my macaw and Bayle.
I want my Moreri, and I want Athenæus.

"P.S. I hope you sent back that poetical packet to the address
which I forwarded to you on Sunday: if not, pray do; or I shall
have the author screaming after his Epic."

* * * * *


"April 26. 1814.

"I have no guess at your author,--but it is a noble poem[27], and
worth a thousand odes of anybody's. I suppose I may keep this
copy;--after reading it, I really regret having written my own. I
say this very sincerely, albeit unused to think humbly of myself.

"I don't like the additional stanzas at _all_, and they had better
be left out. The fact is, I can't do any thing I am asked to do,
however gladly I _would_; and at the end of a week my interest in a
composition goes off. This will account to you for my doing no
better for your 'Stamp Duty' postscript.

"The S.R. is very civil--but what do they mean by Childe Harold
resembling Marmion? and the next two, Giaour and Bride, _not_
resembling Scott? I certainly never intended to copy him; but, if
there be any copyism, it must be in the two poems, where the same
versification is adopted. However, they exempt The Corsair from all
resemblance to any thing, though I rather wonder at his escape.

"If ever I did any thing original, it was in Childe Harold, which
_I_ prefer to the other things always, after the first week.
Yesterday I re-read English Bards;--bating the _malice_, it is the

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 27: A Poem by Mr. Stratford Canning, full of spirit and power, entitled "Buonaparte." In a subsequent note to Mr. Murray, Lord Byron says,--"I do not think less highly of 'Buonaparte' for knowing the author. I was aware that he was a man of talent, but did not suspect him of possessing _all_ the _family_ talents in such perfection."]

* * * * *

A resolution was, about this time, adopted by him, which, however strange and precipitate it appeared, a knowledge of the previous state of his mind may enable us to account for satisfactorily. He had now, for two years, been drawing upon the admiration of the public with a rapidity and success which seemed to defy exhaustion,--having crowded, indeed, into that brief interval the materials of a long life of fame. But admiration is a sort of impost from which most minds are but too willing to relieve themselves. The eye grows weary of looking up to the same object of wonder, and begins to exchange, at last, the delight of observing its elevation for the less generous pleasure of watching and speculating on its fall. The reputation of Lord Byron had already begun to experience some of these consequences of its own prolonged and constantly renewed splendour. Even among that host of admirers who would have been the last to find fault, there were some not unwilling to repose from praise; while they, who had been from the first reluctant eulogists, took advantage of these apparent symptoms of satiety to indulge in blame.[28]

The loud outcry raised, at the beginning of the present year, by his verses to the Princess Charlotte, had afforded a vent for much of this reserved venom; and the tone of disparagement in which some of his assailants now affected to speak of his poetry was, however absurd and contemptible in itself, precisely that sort of attack which was the most calculated to wound his, at once, proud and diffident spirit. As long as they confined themselves to blackening his moral and social character, so far from offending, their libels rather fell in with his own shadowy style of self-portraiture, and gratified the strange inverted ambition that possessed him. But the slighting opinion which they ventured to express of his genius,--seconded as it was by that inward dissatisfaction with his own powers, which they whose standard of excellence is highest are always the surest to feel,--mortified and disturbed him; and, being the first sounds of ill augury that had come across his triumphal career, startled him, as we have seen, into serious doubts of its continuance.

Had he been occupying himself, at the time, with any new task, that confidence in his own energies, which he never truly felt but while in the actual exercise of them, would have enabled him to forget these humiliations of the moment in the glow and excitement of anticipated success. But he had just pledged himself to the world to take a long farewell of poesy,--had sealed up that only fountain from which his heart ever drew refreshment or strength,--and thus was left, idly and helplessly, to brood over the daily taunts of his enemies, without the power of avenging himself when they insulted his person, and but too much disposed to agree with them when they made light of his genius. "I am afraid, (he says, in noticing these attacks in one of his letters,) what you call _trash_ is plaguily to the purpose, and very good sense into the bargain; and, to tell the truth, for some little time past, I have been myself much of the same opinion."

In this sensitive state of mind,--which he but ill disguised or relieved by an exterior of gay defiance or philosophic contempt,--we can hardly feel surprised that he should have, all at once, come to the resolution, not only of persevering in his determination to write no more in future, but of purchasing back the whole of his past copyrights, and suppressing every page and line he had ever written. On his first mention of this design, Mr. Murray naturally doubted as to its seriousness; but the arrival of the following letter, enclosing a draft for the amount of the copyrights, put his intentions beyond question.

[Footnote 28: It was the fear of this sort of back-water current to which so rapid a flow of fame seemed liable, that led some even of his warmest admirers, ignorant as they were yet of the boundlessness of his resources, to tremble a little at the frequency of his appearances before the public. In one of my own letters to him, I find this apprehension thus expressed:--"If you did not write so well,--as the Royal wit observed,--I should say you write too much; at least, too much in the same strain. The Pythagoreans, you know, were of opinion that the reason why we do not hear or heed the music of the heavenly bodies is that they are always sounding in our ears; and I fear that even the influence of _your_ song may be diminished by falling upon the world's dull ear too constantly."

The opinion, however, which a great writer of our day (himself one of the few to whom his remark replies) had the generosity, as well as sagacity, to pronounce on this point, at a time when Lord Byron was indulging in the fullest lavishment of his powers, must be regarded, after all, as the most judicious and wise:--"But they cater ill for the public," says Sir Walter Scott, "and give indifferent advice to the poet, supposing him possessed of the highest qualities of his art, who do not advise him to labour while the laurel around his brows yet retains its freshness. Sketches from Lord Byron are more valuable than finished pictures from others; nor are we at all sure that any labour which he might bestow in revisal would not rather efface than refine those outlines of striking and powerful originality which they exhibit when flung rough from the hand of a master."--_Biographical Memoirs_, by SIR W. SCOTT.]

* * * * *


"2. Albany, April 29. 1814.

"Dear Sir,

"I enclose a draft for the money; when paid, send the copyright. I
release you from the thousand pounds agreed on for The Giaour and
Bride, and there's an end.

"If any accident occurs to me, you may do then as you please; but,
with the exception of two copies of each for _yourself_ only, I
expect and request that the advertisements be withdrawn, and the
remaining copies of _all_ destroyed; and any expense so incurred I
will be glad to defray.

"For all this, it might be as well to assign some reason. I have
none to give, except my own caprice, and I do not consider the
circumstances of consequence enough to require explanation.

"In course, I need hardly assure you that they never shall be
published with my consent, directly, or indirectly, by any other
person whatsoever,--that I am perfectly satisfied, and have every
reason so to be, with your conduct in all transactions between us
as publisher and author.

"It will give me great pleasure to preserve your acquaintance, and
to consider you as my friend. Believe me very truly, and for much

"Your obliged and very obedient servant,


"P.S. I do not think that I have overdrawn at Hammersley's; but if
_that_ be the case, I can draw for the superflux on Hoare's. The
draft is 5_l._ short, but that I will make up. On payment--_not_
before--return the copyright papers."

* * * * *

In such a conjuncture, an appeal to his good nature and considerateness was, as Mr. Murray well judged, his best resource; and the following prompt reply, will show how easily, and at once, it succeeded.


"May 1. 1814.

"Dear Sir,

"If your present note is serious, and it really would be
inconvenient, there is an end of the matter; tear my draft, and go
on as usual: in that case, we will recur to our former basis. That
_I_ was perfectly _serious_, in wishing to suppress all future
publication, is true; but certainly not to interfere with the
convenience of others, and more particularly your own. Some day, I
will tell you the reason of this apparently strange resolution. At
present, it may be enough to say that I recall it at your
suggestion; and as it appears to have annoyed you, I lose no time
in saying so.

"Yours truly,


* * * * *

During my stay in town this year, we were almost daily together; and it is in no spirit of flattery to the dead I say, that the more intimately I became acquainted with his disposition and character, the more warmly I felt disposed to take an interest in every thing that concerned him. Not that, in the opportunities thus afforded me of observing more closely his defects, I did not discover much to lament, and not a little to condemn. But there was still, in the neighbourhood of even his worst faults, some atoning good quality, which was always sure, if brought kindly and with management into play, to neutralise their ill effects. The very frankness, indeed, with which he avowed his errors seemed to imply a confidence in his own power of redeeming them,--a consciousness that he could afford to be sincere. There was also, in such entire unreserve, a pledge that nothing worse remained behind; and the same quality that laid open the blemishes of his nature gave security for its honesty. "The cleanness and purity of one's mind," says Pope, "is never better proved than in discovering its own faults, at first view; as when a stream shows the dirt at its bottom, it shows also the transparency of the water."

The theatre was, at this time, his favourite place of resort. We have seen how enthusiastically he expresses himself on the subject of Mr. Kean's acting, and it was frequently my good fortune, during this season, to share in his enjoyment of it,--the orchestra being, more than once, the place where, for a nearer view of the actor's countenance, we took our station. For Kean's benefit, on the 25th of May, a large party had been made by Lady J * *, to which we both belonged; but Lord Byron having also taken a box for the occasion, so anxious was he to enjoy the representation uninterrupted, that, by rather an unsocial arrangement, only himself and I occupied his box during the play, while every other in the house was crowded almost to suffocation; nor did we join the remainder of our friends till supper. Between the two parties, however, Mr. Kean had no reason to complain of a want of homage to his talents; as Lord J * *, on that occasion, presented him with a hundred pound share in the theatre; while Lord Byron sent him, next day, the sum of fifty guineas[29]; and, not long after, on seeing him act some of his favourite parts, made him presents of a handsome snuff-box and a costly Turkish sword.

Such effect had the passionate energy of Kean's acting on his mind, that, once, in seeing him play Sir Giles Overreach, he was so affected as to be seized with a sort of convulsive fit; and we shall find him, some years after, in Italy, when the representation of Alfieri's tragedy of Mirra had agitated him in the same violent manner, comparing the two instances as the only ones in his life when "any thing under reality" had been able to move him so powerfully.

The following are a few of the notes which I received from him during this visit to town.

[Footnote 29: To such lengths did he, at this time, carry his enthusiasm for Kean, that when Miss O'Neil soon after appeared, and, by her matchless representation of feminine tenderness, attracted all eyes and hearts, he was not only a little jealous of her reputation, as interfering with that of his favourite, but, in order to guard himself against the risk of becoming a convert, refused to go to see her act. I endeavoured sometimes to persuade him into witnessing, at least, one of her performances; but his answer was, (punning upon Shakspeare's word, "unanealed,") "No--I'm resolved to continue _un-Oneiled_."

To the great queen of all actresses, however, it will be seen, by the following extract from one of his journals, he rendered due justice:--

"Of actors, Cooke was the most natural, Kemble the most supernatural,--Kean the medium between the two. But Mrs. Siddons was worth them all put together."--_Detached Thoughts_.]

* * * * *


"May 4. 1814.

"Last night we supp'd at R----fe's board, &c.[30]

"I wish people would not shirk their _dinners_--ought it not to
have been a dinner?[31]--and that d----d anchovy sandwich!

"That plaguy voice of yours made me sentimental, and almost fall in
love with a girl who was recommending herself, during your song, by
_hating_ music. But the song is past, and my passion can wait, till
the _pucelle_ is more harmonious.

"Do you go to Lady Jersey's to-night? It is a large party, and you
won't be bored into 'softening rocks,' and all that. Othello is
to-morrow and Saturday too. Which day shall we go? when shall I see
you? If you call, let it be after three, and as near four as you

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 30: An epigram here followed, which, as founded on a scriptural allusion, I thought it better to omit.]

[Footnote 31: We had been invited by Lord R. to dine _after_ the play,--an arrangement which, from its novelty, delighted Lord Byron exceedingly. The dinner, however, afterwards dwindled into a mere supper, and this change was long a subject of jocular resentment with him.]

* * * * *


"May 4. 1814.

"Dear Tom,

"Thou hast asked me for a song, and I enclose you an experiment,
which has cost me something more than trouble, and is, therefore,
less likely to be worth your taking any in your proposed
setting.[32] Now, if it be so, throw it into the fire without

"Ever yours,


"I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name,
There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame;
But the tear which now burns on my cheek may impart
The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.

"Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace
Were those hours--can their joy or their bitterness cease?
We repent--we abjure--we will break from our chain--
We will part,--we will fly to--unite it again!

"Oh! thine be the gladness, and mine be the guilt!
Forgive me, adored one!--forsake, if thou wilt;--
But the heart which is thine shall expire undebased,
And _man_ shall not break it--whatever _thou_ mayst.

"And stern to the haughty, but humble to thee,
This soul, in its bitterest blackness, shall be;
And our days seem as swift, and our moments more sweet,
With thee by my side, than with worlds at our feet.

"One sigh of thy sorrow, one look of thy love,
Shall turn me or fix, shall reward or reprove;
And the heartless may wonder at all I resign--
Thy lip shall reply, not to them, but to _mine_."

[Footnote 32: I had begged of him to write something for me to set to music.]

* * * * *


"Will you and Rogers come to my box at Covent, then? I shall be
there, and none else--or I won't be there, if you _twain_ would
like to go without me. You will not get so good a place hustling
among the publican _boxers_, with damnable apprentices (six feet
high) on a back row. Will you both oblige me and come,--or one--or
neither--or, what you will?

"P.S. An' you will, I will call for you at half-past six, or any
time of your own dial."

* * * * *


"I have gotten a box for Othello to-night, and send the ticket for
your friends the R----fes. I seriously recommend to you to
recommend to them to go for half an hour, if only to see the third
act--they will not easily have another opportunity. We--at least,
I--cannot be there, so there will be no one in their way. Will you
give or send it to them? it will come with a better grace from you
than me.

"I am in no good plight, but will dine at * *'s with you, if I can.
There is music and Covent-g.

"Will you go, at all events, to my box there afterwards, to see a
_début_ of a young 16[33] in the 'Child of Nature?'"

[Footnote 33: Miss Foote's first appearance, which we witnessed together.]

* * * * *


"Sunday matin.

"Was not Iago perfection? particularly the last look. I was _close_
to him (in the orchestra), and never saw an English countenance
half so expressive.

"I am acquainted with no _im_material sensuality so delightful as
good acting; and, as it is fitting there should be good plays, now
and then, besides Shakspeare's, I wish you or Campbell would write
one:--the rest of 'us youth' have not heart enough.

"You were cut up in the Champion--is it not so? this day so am
I--even to _shocking_ the editor. The critic writes well; and as,
at present, poesy is not my passion predominant, and my snake of
Aaron has swallowed up all the other serpents, I don't feel
fractious. I send you the paper, which I mean to take in for the
future. We go to M.'s together. Perhaps I shall see you before, but
don't let me _bore_ you, now nor ever.

"Ever, as now, truly and affectionately," &c.

* * * * *


"May 5. 1814.

"Do you go to the Lady Cahir's this even? If you do--and whenever
we are bound to the same follies--let us embark in the same 'Shippe
of Fooles.' I have been up till five, and up at nine; and feel
heavy with only winking for the last three or four nights.

"I lost my party and place at supper trying to keep out of the way
of * * * *. I would have gone away altogether, but that would have
appeared a worse affectation than t'other. You are of course
engaged to dinner, or we may go quietly together to my box at
Covent Garden, and afterwards to this assemblage. Why did you go
away so soon?

"Ever, &c.

"P.S. _Ought not_ R * * * fe's supper to have been a dinner?
Jackson is here, and I must fatigue myself into spirits."

* * * * *


"May 18. 1814.

"Thanks--and punctuality. _What_ has passed at * * * *s House? I
suppose that _I_ am to know, and 'pars fui' of the conference. I
regret that your * * * *s will detain you so late, but I suppose
you will be at Lady Jersey's. I am going earlier with Hobhouse. You
recollect that to-morrow we sup and see Kean.

"P.S. _Two_ to-morrow is the hour of pugilism."

* * * * *

The supper, to which he here looks forward, took place at Watier's, of which club he had lately become a member; and, as it may convey some idea of his irregular mode of diet, and thus account, in part, for the frequent derangement of his health, I shall here attempt, from recollection, a description of his supper on this occasion. We were to have been joined by Lord R * *, who however did not arrive, and the party accordingly consisted but of ourselves. Having taken upon me to order the repast, and knowing that Lord Byron, for the last two days, had done nothing towards sustenance, beyond eating a few biscuits and (to appease appetite) chewing mastic, I desired that we should have a good supply of, at least, two kinds of fish. My companion, however, confined himself to lobsters, and of these finished two or three, to his own share,--interposing, sometimes, a small liqueur-glass of strong white brandy, sometimes a tumbler of very hot water, and then pure brandy again, to the amount of near half a dozen small glasses of the latter, without which, alternately with the hot water, he appeared to think the lobster could not be digested. After this, we had claret, of which having despatched two bottles between us, at about four o'clock in the morning we parted.

As Pope has thought his "delicious lobster-nights" worth commemorating, these particulars of one in which Lord Byron was concerned may also have some interest.

Among other nights of the same description which I had the happiness of passing with him, I remember once, in returning home from some assembly at rather a late hour, we saw lights in the windows of his old haunt Stevens's, in Bond Street, and agreed to stop there and sup. On entering, we found an old friend of his, Sir G * * W* *, who joined our party, and the lobsters and brandy and water being put in requisition, it was (as usual on such occasions) broad daylight before we separated.

* * * * *


"May 23. 1814.

"I must send you the Java government gazette of July 3d, 1813, just
sent to me by Murray. Only think of _our_ (for it is you and I)
setting paper warriors in array in the Indian seas. Does not this
sound like fame--something almost like _posterity_? It is something
to have scribblers squabbling about us 5000 miles off, while we are
agreeing so well at home. Bring it with you in your pocket;--it
will make you laugh, as it hath me. Ever yours,


"P.S. Oh the anecdote!"

* * * * *

To the circumstance mentioned in this letter he recurs more than once in the Journals which he kept abroad; as thus, in a passage of his "Detached Thoughts,"--where it will be perceived that, by a trifling lapse of memory, he represents himself as having produced this gazette, for the first time, on our way to dinner.

"In the year 1814, as Moore and I were going to dine with Lord Grey in Portman Square, I pulled out a 'Java Gazette' (which Murray had sent to me), in which there was a controversy on our respective merits as poets. It was amusing enough that we should be proceeding peaceably to the same table while they were squabbling about us in the Indian seas (to be sure the paper was dated six months before), and filling columns with Batavian criticism. But this is fame, I presume."

The following poem, written about this time, and, apparently, for the purpose of being recited at the Caledonian Meeting, I insert principally on account of the warm feeling which it breathes towards Scotland and her sons:--

"Who hath not glow'd above the page where Fame
Hath fix'd high Caledon's unconquer'd name;
The mountain-land which spurn'd the Roman chain,
And baffled back the fiery-crested Dane,
Whose bright claymore and hardihood of hand
No foe could tame--no tyrant could command.

"That race is gone--but still their children breathe,
And glory crowns them with redoubled wreath:
O'er Gael and Saxon mingling banners shine,
And, England! add their stubborn strength to thine.
The blood which flow'd with Wallace flows as free,
But now 'tis only shed for fame and thee!
Oh! pass not by the Northern veteran's claim,
But give support--the world hath given him fame!

"The humbler ranks, the lowly brave, who bled
While cheerly following where the mighty led--
Who sleep beneath the undistinguish'd sod
Where happier comrades in their triumph trod,
To us bequeath--'tis all their fate allows--
The sireless offspring and the lonely spouse:
She on high Albyn's dusky hills may raise
The tearful eye in melancholy gaze,
Or view, while shadowy auguries disclose
The Highland seer's anticipated woes,
The bleeding phantom of each martial form
Dim in the cloud, or darkling in the storm;
While sad, she chants the solitary song,
The soft lament for him who tarries long--
For him, whose distant relics vainly crave
The coronach's wild requiem to the brave!

"'Tis Heaven--not man--must charm away the woe
Which bursts when Nature's feelings newly flow;
Yet tenderness and time may rob the tear
Of half its bitterness for one so dear:
A nation's gratitude perchance may spread
A thornless pillow for the widow'd head;
May lighten well her heart's maternal care,
And wean from penury the soldier's heir."

* * * * *


"May 31. 1814.

"As I shall probably not see you here to-day, I write to request
that, if not inconvenient to yourself, you will stay in town till
_Sunday_; if not to gratify me, yet to please a great many others,
who will be very sorry to lose you. As for myself, I can only
repeat that I wish you would either remain a long time with us, or
not come at all; for these _snatches_ of society make the
subsequent separations bitterer than ever.

"I believe you think that I have not been quite fair with that
Alpha and Omega of beauty, &c. with whom you would willingly have
united me. But if you consider what her sister said on the subject,
you will less wonder that my pride should have taken the alarm;
particularly as nothing but the every-day flirtation of every-day
people ever occurred between your heroine and myself. Had Lady * *
appeared to wish it--or even not to oppose it--I would have gone
on, and very possibly married (that is, _if_ the other had been
equally accordant) with the same indifference which has frozen over
the 'Black Sea' of almost all my passions. It is that very
indifference which makes me so uncertain and apparently capricious.
It is not eagerness of new pursuits, but that nothing impresses me
sufficiently to _fix_; neither do I feel disgusted, but simply
indifferent to almost all excitements. The proof of this is, that
obstacles, the slightest even, _stop_ me. This can hardly be
_timidity_, for I have done some impudent things too, in my time;
and in almost all cases, opposition is a stimulus. In mine, it is
not; if a straw were in my way, I could not stoop to pick it up.

"I have sent this long tirade, because I would not have you suppose
that I have been _trifling_ designedly with you or others. If you
think so, in the name of St. Hubert (the patron of antlers and
hunters) let me be married out of hand--I don't care to whom, so it
amuses any body else, and don't interfere with me much in the
daytime. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"June 14. 1814.

"I _could_ be very sentimental now, but I won't. The truth is, that
I have been all my life trying to harden my heart, and have not yet
quite succeeded--though there are great hopes--and you do not know
how it sunk with your departure. What adds to my regret is having
seen so little of you during your stay in this crowded desert,
where one ought to be able to bear thirst like a camel,--the
springs are so few, and most of them so muddy.

"The newspapers will tell you all that is to be told of emperors,
&c.[34] They have dined, and supped, and shown their flat faces in
all thoroughfares, and several saloons. Their uniforms are very
becoming, but rather short in the skirts; and their conversation
is a catechism, for which and the answers I refer you to those who
have heard it.

"I think of leaving town for Newstead soon. If so, I shall not be
remote from your recess, and (unless Mrs. M. detains you at home
over the caudle-cup and a new cradle,) we will meet. You shall come
to me, or I to you, as you like it;--but _meet_ we will. An
invitation from Aston has reached me, but I do not think I shall
go. I have also heard of * * *--I should like to see her again, for
I have not met her for years; and though 'the light that ne'er can
shine again' is set, I do not know that 'one dear smile like those
of old' might not make me for a moment forget the 'dulness' of
'life's stream.'

"I am going to R * *'s to-night--to one of those suppers which
'_ought_ to be dinners.' I have hardly seen her, and never _him_,
since you set out. I told you, you were the last link of that
chain. As for * *, we have not syllabled one another's names since.
The post will not permit me to continue my scrawl. More anon.

"Ever, dear Moore, &c.

"P.S. Keep the Journal[35]; I care not what becomes of it; and if
it has amused you I am glad that I kept it. 'Lara' is finished, and
I am copying him for my third vol., now collecting;--but _no
separate_ publication."

[Footnote 34: In a few days after this, he sent me a long rhyming epistle full of jokes and pleasantries upon every thing and every one around him, of which the following are the only parts producible:--

'What say _I_?'--not a syllable further in prose;
I'm your man 'of all measures,' dear Tom,--so, here goes!
Here goes, for a swim on the stream of old Time,
On those buoyant supporters the bladders of rhyme.
If our weight breaks them down, and we sink in the flood,
We are smother'd, at least, in respectable mud,
Where the divers of bathos lie drown'd in a heap,
And S * * 's last paean has pillow'd his sleep;--
That 'felo de se' who, half drunk with his malmsey,
Walk'd out of his depth and was lost in a calm sea,
Singing 'Glory to God' in a spick-and-span stanza,
The like (since Tom Sternhold was choked) never man saw.

"The papers have told you, no doubt, of the fusses,
The fêtes, and the gapings to get at these Russes,--
Of his Majesty's suite, up from coachman to Hetman,--
And what dignity decks the flat face of the great man.
I saw him, last week, at two balls and a party,--
For a prince, his demeanour was rather too hearty.
You know, _we_ are used to quite different graces,
* * * * *
The Czar's look, I own, was much brighter and brisker,
But then he is sadly deficient in whisker;
And wore but a starless blue coat, and in kersey-
mere breeches whisk'd round in a waltz with the J * *,
Who, lovely as ever, seem'd just as delighted
With majesty's presence as those she invited." ]

[Footnote 35: The Journal from which I have given extracts in the preceding pages.]

* * * * *


"June 14. 1814.

"I return your packet of this morning. Have you heard that Bertrand
has returned to Paris with the account of Napoleon's having lost
his senses? It is a _report_; but, if true, I must, like Mr.
Fitzgerald and Jeremiah (of lamentable memory), lay claim to
prophecy; that is to say, of saying, that he _ought_ to go out of
his senses, in the penultimate stanza of a certain Ode,--the which,
having been pronounced _nonsense_ by several profound critics, has
a still further pretension, by its unintelligibility, to
inspiration. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"June 19. 1814.

"I am always obliged to trouble you with my awkwardnesses, and now
I have a fresh one. Mr. W.[36] called on me several times, and I
have missed the honour of making his acquaintance, which I regret,
but which _you_, who know my desultory and uncertain habits, will
not wonder at, and will, I am sure, attribute to any thing but a
wish to offend a person who has shown me much kindness, and
possesses character and talents entitled to general respect. My
mornings are late, and passed in fencing and boxing, and a variety
of most unpoetical exercises, very wholesome, &c., but would be
very disagreeable to my friends, whom I am obliged to exclude
during their operation. I never go out till the evening, and I
have not been fortunate enough to meet Mr. W. at Lord Lansdowne's
or Lord Jersey's, where I had hoped to pay him my respects.

"I would have written to him, but a few words from you will go
further than all the apologetical sesquipedalities I could muster
on the occasion. It is only to say that, without intending it, I
contrive to behave very ill to every body, and am very sorry for

"Ever, dear R.," &c.

[Footnote 36: Mr. Wrangham.]

* * * * *

The following undated notes to Mr. Rogers must have been written about the same time:--


"Your non-attendance at Corinne's is very _à propos_, as I was on
the eve of sending you an excuse. I do not feel well enough to go
there this evening, and have been obliged to despatch an apology. I
believe I need not add one for not accepting Mr. Sheridan's
invitation on Wednesday, which I fancy both you and I understood in
the same sense:--with him the saying of Mirabeau, that '_words_ are
_things_,' is not to be taken literally.

"Ever," &c.

"I will call for you at a quarter before _seven_, if that will suit
you. I return you Sir Proteus[37], and shall merely add in return,
as Johnson said of, and to, somebody or other, 'Are we alive after
all this censure?'

"Believe me," &c.

[Footnote 37: A satirical pamphlet, in which all the writers of the day were attacked.]


"Sheridan was yesterday, at first, too sober to remember your
invitation, but in the dregs of the third bottle he fished up his
memory. The Staël out-talked Whitbread, was _ironed_ by Sheridan,
confounded Sir Humphry, and utterly perplexed your slave. The rest
(great names in the red book, nevertheless,) were mere segments of
the circle. Ma'mselle danced a Russ saraband with great vigour,
grace, and expression.

"Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"June 21. 1814.

"I suppose 'Lara' is gone to the devil,--which is no great matter,
only let me know, that I may be saved the trouble of copying the
rest, and put the first part into the fire. I really have no
anxiety about it, and shall not be sorry to be saved the copying,
which goes on very slowly, and may prove to you that you may _speak
out_--or I should be less sluggish. Yours," &c.

* * * * *


"June 27. 1814.

"You could not have made me a more acceptable present than
Jacqueline,--she is all grace, and softness, and poetry; there is
so much of the last, that we do not feel the want of story, which
is simple, yet _enough_. I wonder that you do not oftener unbend to
more of the same kind. I have some sympathy with the _softer_
affections, though very little in _my_ way, and no one can depict
them so truly and successfully as yourself. I have half a mind to
pay you in kind, or rather _un_kind, for I have just 'supped full
of horror' in two cantos of darkness and dismay.

"Do you go to Lord Essex's to-night? if so, will you let me call
for you at your own hour? I dined with Holland-house yesterday at
Lord Cowper's; my Lady very gracious, which she can be more than
any one when she likes. I was not sorry to see them again, for I
can't forget that they have been very kind to me. Ever yours most


"P.S. Is there any chance or possibility of making it up with Lord
Carlisle, as I feel disposed to do any thing reasonable or
unreasonable to effect it? I would before, but for the 'Courier,'
and the possible misconstructions at such a time. Perpend,

* * * * *

On my return to London, for a short time, at the beginning of July, I found his poem of 'Lara,' which he had begun at the latter end of May, in the hands of the printer, and nearly ready for publication. He had, before I left town, repeated to me, as we were on our way to some evening party, the first one hundred and twenty lines of the poem, which he had written the day before,--at the same time giving me a general sketch of the characters and the story.

His short notes to Mr. Murray, during the printing of this work, are of the same impatient and whimsical character as those, of which I have already given specimens, in my account of his preceding publications: but, as matter of more interest now presses upon us, I shall forbear from transcribing them at length. In one of them he says, "I have just corrected some of the most horrible blunders that ever crept into a proof:"--in another, "I hope the next proof will be better; this was one which would have consoled Job, if it had been of his 'enemy's book:'" --a third contains only the following words: "Dear sir, you demanded more _battle_--there it is.

"Yours," &c.

The two letters that immediately follow were addressed to me, at this time, in town.


"July 8. 1814.

"I returned to town last night, and had some hopes of seeing you
to-day, and would have called,--but I have been (though in
exceeding distempered good health) a little head-achy with free
living, as it is called, and am now at the freezing point of
returning soberness. Of course, I should be sorry that our parallel
lines did not deviate into intersection before you return to the
country,--after that same nonsuit[38], whereof the papers have
told us,--but, as you must be much occupied, I won't be affronted,
should your time and business militate against our meeting.

"Rogers and I have almost coalesced into a joint invasion of the
public. Whether it will take place or not, I do not yet know, and I
am afraid Jacqueline (which is very beautiful) will be in bad
company.[39] But in this case, the lady will not be the sufferer.

"I am going to the sea, and then to Scotland; and I have been doing
nothing,--that is, no good,--and am very truly," &c.

[Footnote 38: He alludes to an action for piracy brought by Mr. Power (the publisher of my musical works), to the trial of which I had been summoned as a witness.]

[Footnote 39: Lord Byron afterwards proposed that I should make a third in this publication; but the honour was a perilous one, and I begged leave to decline it.]

* * * * *


"I suppose, by your non-appearance, that the phil_a_sophy of my
note, and the previous silence of the writer, have put or kept you
in _humeur_. Never mind--it is hardly worth while.

"This day have I received information from my man of law of the
_non_--and never likely to be--performance of purchase by Mr.
Claughton, of _im_pecuniary memory. He don't know what to do, or when
to pay; and so all my hopes and worldly projects and prospects are
gone to the devil. He (the purchaser, and the devil too, for aught
I care,) and I, and my legal advisers, are to meet to-morrow, the
said purchaser having first taken special care to enquire 'whether
I would meet him with temper?'--Certainly. The question is this--I
shall either have the estate back, which is as good as ruin, or I
shall go on with him dawdling, which is rather worse. I have
brought my pigs to a Mussulman market. If I had but a wife now, and
children, of whose paternity I entertained doubts, I should be
happy, or rather fortunate, as Candide or Scarmentado. In the mean
time, if you don't come and see me, I shall think that Sam.'s bank
is broke too; and that you, having assets there, are despairing of
more than a piastre in the pound for your dividend. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"July 11. 1814.

"You shall have one of the pictures. I wish you to send the proof
of 'Lara' to Mr. Moore, 33. Bury Street, _to-night_, as he leaves
town to-morrow, and wishes to see it before he goes[40]; and I am
also willing to have the benefit of his remarks. Yours," &c.

[Footnote 40: In a note which I wrote to him, before starting, next day, I find the following:--"I got Lara at three o'clock this morning--read him before I slept, and was enraptured. I take the proofs with me."]

* * * * *


"July 18. 1814.

"I think _you_ will be satisfied even to _repletion_ with our
northern friends[41], and I won't deprive you longer of what I
think will give you pleasure; for my own part, my modesty, or my
vanity, must be silent.

"P.S. If you could spare it for an hour in the evening, I wish you
to send it up to Mrs. Leigh, your neighbour, at the London Hotel,
Albemarle Street."

[Footnote 41: He here refers to an article in the number of the Edinburgh Review, just then published (No. 45.), on The Corsair and Bride of Abydos.]

* * * * *


"July 23. 1814.

"I am sorry to say that the print[42] is by no means approved of by
those who have seen it, who are pretty conversant with the
original, as well as the picture from whence it is taken. I rather
suspect that it is from the _copy_ and not the _exhibited_
portrait, and in this dilemma would recommend a suspension, if not
an abandonment, of the _prefixion_ to the volumes which you purpose
inflicting upon the public.

"With regard to _Lara_, don't be in any hurry. I have not yet made
up my mind on the subject, nor know what to think or do till I hear
from you; and Mr. Moore appeared to me in a similar state of
indetermination. I do not know that it may not be better to
_reserve_ it for the _entire_ publication you proposed, and not
adventure in hardy singleness, or even backed by the fairy
Jacqueline. I have been seized with all kinds of doubts, &c. &c.
since I left London.

"Pray let me hear from you, and believe me," &c.

[Footnote 42: An engraving by Agar from Phillips's portrait of him.]

* * * * *


"July 24. 1814.

"The minority must, in this case, carry it, so pray let it be so,
for I don't care sixpence for any of the opinions you mention, on
such a subject: and P * * must be a dunce to agree with them. For
my own part, I have no objection at all; but Mrs. Leigh and my
cousin must be better judges of the likeness than others; and they
hate it; and so I won't have it at all.

"Mr. Hobhouse is right as for his conclusion: but I deny the
premises. The name only is Spanish[43]; the country is not Spain,
but the Morea.

"Waverley is the best and most interesting novel I have redde
since--I don't know when. I like it as much as I hate * *, and * *,
and * *, and all the feminine trash of the last four months.
Besides, it is all easy to me, I have been in Scotland so much
(though then young enough too), and feel at home with the people,
Lowland and Gael.

"A note will correct what Mr. Hobhouse thinks an error (about the
feudal system in Spain);--it is _not_ Spain. If he puts a few words
of prose any where, it will set all right.

"I have been ordered to town to vote. I shall disobey. There is no
good in so much prating, since 'certain issues strokes should
arbitrate.' If you have any thing to say, let me hear from you.

"Yours," &c.

[Footnote 43: Alluding to Lara.]

* * * * *


"August 3. 1814.

"It is certainly a little extraordinary that you have not sent the
Edinburgh Review, as I requested, and hoped it would not require a
note a day to remind you. I see _advertisements_ of Lara and
Jacqueline; pray, _why?_ when I requested you to postpone
publication till my return to town.

"I have a most amusing epistle from the Ettrick bard--Hogg; in
which, speaking of his bookseller, whom he denominates the
'shabbiest' of the _trade_ for not 'lifting his bills,' he adds, in
so many words, 'G----d d----n him and them both.' This is a pretty
prelude to asking you to adopt him (the said Hogg); but this he
wishes; and if you please, you and I will talk it over. He has a
poem ready for the press (and your _bills_ too, if '_lift_able'),
and bestows some benedictions on Mr. Moore for his abduction of
Lara from the forthcoming Miscellany.[44]

"P.S. Sincerely, I think Mr. Hogg would suit you very well; and
surely he is a man of great powers, and deserving of encouragement.
I must knock out a Tale for him, and you should at all events
consider before you reject his suit. Scott is gone to the Orkneys
in a gale of wind; and Hogg says that, during the said gale, 'he
is sure that Scott is not quite at his ease, to say the best of
it.' Ah! I wish these home-keeping bards could taste a
Mediterranean white squall, or 'the Gut' in a gale of wind, or even
the 'Bay of Biscay' with no wind at all."

[Footnote 44: Mr. Hogg had been led to hope that he should be permitted to insert this poem in a Miscellany which he had at this time some thoughts of publishing; and whatever advice I may have given against such a mode of disposing of the work arose certainly not from any ill will to this ingenious and remarkable man, but from a consideration of what I thought most advantageous to the fame of Lord Byron.]

* * * * *


"Hastings, August 3. 1814.

"By the time this reaches your dwelling, I shall (God wot) be in
town again probably. I have been here renewing my acquaintance with
my old friend Ocean; and I find his bosom as pleasant a pillow for
an hour in the morning as his daughters of Paphos could be in the
twilight. I have been swimming and eating turbot, and smuggling
neat brandies and silk handkerchiefs,--and listening to my friend
Hodgson's raptures about a pretty wife-elect of his,--and walking
on cliffs, and tumbling down hills, and making the most of the
'dolce far-niente' for the last fortnight. I met a son of Lord
Erskine's, who says he has been married a year, and is the
'happiest of men;' and I have met the aforesaid H., who is also the
'happiest of men;' so, it is worth while being here, if only to
witness the superlative felicity of these foxes, who have cut off
their tails, and would persuade the rest to part with their brushes
to keep them in countenance.

"It rejoiceth me that you like 'Lara.' Jeffrey is out with his 45th
Number, which I suppose you have got. He is only too kind to me, in
my share of it, and I begin to fancy myself a golden pheasant, upon
the strength of the plumage wherewith he hath bedecked me. But
then, 'surgit amari,' &c.--the gentlemen of the Champion, and
Perry, have got hold (I know not how) of the condolatory address to
Lady J. on the picture-abduction by our R * * *, and have published
them--with my name, too, smack--without even asking leave, or
enquiring whether or no! D----n their impudence, and d----n every
thing. It has put me out of patience, and so, I shall say no more
about it.

"You shall have Lara and Jacque (both with some additions) when
out; but I am still demurring and delaying, and in a fuss, and so
is R. in his way.

"Newstead is to be mine again. Claughton forfeits twenty-five
thousand pounds; but that don't prevent me from being very prettily
ruined. I mean to bury myself there--and let my beard grow--and
hate you all.

"Oh! I have had the most amusing letter from Hogg, the Ettrick
minstrel and shepherd. He wants me to recommend him to Murray; and,
speaking of his present bookseller, whose 'bills' are never
'lifted,' he adds, _totidem verbis_, 'God d----n him and them
both.' I laughed, and so would you too, at the way in which this
execration is introduced. The said Hogg is a strange being, but of
great, though uncouth, powers. I think very highly of him, as a
poet; but he, and half of these Scotch and Lake troubadours, are
spoilt by living in little circles and petty societies. London and
the world is the only place to take the conceit out of a man--in
the milling phrase. Scott, he says, is gone to the Orkneys in a
gale of wind;--during which wind, he affirms, the said Scott, 'he
is sure, is not at his ease,--to say the best of it.' Lord, Lord,
if these homekeeping minstrels had crossed your Atlantic or my
Mediterranean, and tasted a little open boating in a white
squall--or a gale in 'the Gut'--or the 'Bay of Biscay,' with no
gale at all--how it would enliven and introduce them to a few of
the sensations!--to say nothing of an illicit amour or two upon
shore, in the way of essay upon the Passions, beginning with simple
adultery, and compounding it as they went along.

"I have forwarded your letter to Murray,--by the way, you had
addressed it to Miller. Pray write to me, and say what art thou
doing? 'Not finished!'--Oons! how is this?--these 'flaws and
starts' must be 'authorised by your grandam,' and are unbecoming of
any other author. I was sorry to hear of your discrepancy with the
* *s, or rather your abjuration of agreement. I don't want to be
impertinent, or buffoon on a serious subject, and am therefore at a
loss what to say.

"I hope nothing will induce you to abate from the proper price of
your poem, as long as there is a prospect of getting it. For my own
part, I have _seriously_ and _not whiningly_, (for that is not my
way--at least, it used not to be,) neither hopes, nor prospects,
and scarcely even wishes. I am, in some respects, happy, but not in
a manner that can or ought to last,--but enough of that. The worst
of it is, I feel quite enervated and indifferent. I really do not
know, if Jupiter were to offer me my choice of the contents of his
benevolent cask, what I would pick out of it. If I was born, as the
nurses say, with a 'silver spoon in my mouth,' it has stuck in my
throat, and spoiled my palate, so that nothing put into it is
swallowed with much relish,--unless it be cayenne. However, I have
grievances enough to occupy me that way too;--but for fear of
adding to yours by this pestilent long diatribe, I postpone the
reading of them, _sine die_.

"Ever, dear M., yours, &c.

"P.S. Don't forget my godson. You could not have fixed on a fitter
porter for his sins than me, being used to carry double without

* * * * *


"August 4. 1814.

"Not having received the slightest answer to my last three letters,
nor the book (the last number of the Edinburgh Review) which they
requested, I presume that you were the unfortunate person who
perished in the pagoda on Monday last, and address this rather to
your executors than yourself, regretting that you should have had
the ill luck to be the sole victim on that joyous occasion.

"I beg leave, then, to inform these gentlemen (whoever they may be)
that I am a little surprised at the previous neglect of the
deceased, and also at observing an advertisement of an approaching
publication on Saturday next, against the which I protested, and do
protest for the present.

"Yours (or theirs), &c.


* * * * *


"August 5. 1814.

"The Edinburgh Review is arrived--thanks. I enclose Mr. Hobhouse's
letter, from which you will perceive the work you have made.
However, I have done: you must send my rhymes to the devil your own
way. It seems, also, that the 'faithful and spirited likeness' is
another of your publications. I wish you joy of it; but it is no
likeness--that is the point. Seriously, if I have delayed your
journey to Scotland, I am sorry that you carried your complaisance
so far; particularly as upon trifles you have a more summary
method;--witness the grammar of Hobhouse's 'bit of prose,' which
has put him and me into a fever.

"Hogg must translate his own words: '_lifting_' is a quotation from
his letter, together with 'God d----n,' &c., which I suppose
requires no translation.

"I was unaware of the contents of Mr. Moore's letter; I think your
offer very handsome, but of that you and he must judge. If he can
get more, you won't wonder that he should accept it.

"Out with Lara, since it must be. The tome looks pretty enough--on
the outside, I shall be in town next week, and in the mean time
wish you a pleasant journey.

"Yours," &c.

* * * * *


"August 12. 1814.

"I was _not_ alone, nor will be while I can help it. Newstead is
not yet decided. Claughton is to make a grand effort by Saturday
week to complete,--if not, he must give up twenty-five thousand
pounds and the estate, with expenses, &c. &c. If I resume the
Abbacy, you shall have due notice, and a cell set apart for your
reception, with a pious welcome. Rogers I have not seen, but Larry
and Jacky came out a few days ago. Of their effect I know nothing.

"There is something very amusing in _your_ being an Edinburgh
Reviewer. You know, I suppose, that T * * is none of the placidest,
and may possibly enact some tragedy on being told that he is only a
fool. If, now, Jeffery were to be slain on account of an article of
yours, there would be a fine conclusion. For my part, as Mrs.
Winifred Jenkins says, 'he has done the handsome thing by me,'
particularly in his last number; so, he is the best of men and the
ablest of critics, and I won't have him killed,--though I dare say
many wish he were, for being so good-humoured.

"Before I left Hastings I got in a passion with an ink bottle,
which I flung out of the window one night with a vengeance;--and
what then? Why, next morning I was horrified by seeing that it had
struck, and split upon, the petticoat of Euterpe's graven image in
the garden, and grimed her as if it were on purpose[45]. Only think
of my distress,--and the epigrams that might be engendered on the
Muse and her misadventure.

"I had an adventure almost as ridiculous, at some private
theatricals near Cambridge--though of a different
description--since I saw you last. I quarrelled with a man in the
dark for asking me who I was (insolently enough to be sure), and
followed him into the green-room (a _stable_) in a rage, amongst a
set of people I never saw before. He turned out to be a low
comedian, engaged to act with the amateurs, and to be a
civil-spoken man enough, when he found out that nothing very
pleasant was to be got by rudeness. But you would have been amused
with the row, and the dialogue, and the dress--or rather the
undress--of the party, where I had introduced myself in a devil of
a hurry, and the astonishment that ensued. I had gone out of the
theatre, for coolness, into the garden;--there I had tumbled over
some dogs, and, coming away from them in very ill humour,
encountered the man in a worse, which produced all this confusion.

"Well--and why don't you 'launch?'--Now is your time. The people
are tolerably tired with me, and not very much enamoured of * *,
who has just spawned a quarto of metaphysical blank verse, which is
nevertheless only a part of a poem.

"Murray talks of divorcing Larry and Jacky--a bad sign for the
authors, who, I suppose, will be divorced too, and throw the blame
upon one another. Seriously, I don't care a cigar about it, and I
don't see why Sam should.

"Let me hear from and of you and my godson. If a daughter, the
name will do quite as well.

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 45: His servant had brought him up a large jar of ink, into which, not supposing it to be full, he had thrust his pen down to the very bottom. Enraged, on finding it come out all smeared with ink, he flung the bottle out of the window into the garden, where it lighted, as here described, upon one of eight leaden Muses, that had been imported, some time before, from Holland,--the ninth having been, by some accident, left behind.]

* * * * *


"August 13. 1814.

"I wrote yesterday to Mayfield, and have just now enfranked your
letter to mamma. My stay in town is so uncertain (not later than
next week) that your packets for the north may not reach me; and as
I know not exactly where I am going--however, _Newstead_ is my most
probable destination, and if you send your despatches before
Tuesday, I can forward them to our new ally. But, after that day,
you had better not trust to their arrival in time.

"* * has been exiled from Paris, _on dit_, for saying the Bourbons
were old women. The Bourbons might have been content, I think, with
returning the compliment.

"I told you all about Jacky and Larry yesterday;--they are to be
separated,--at least, so says the grand M., and I know no more of
the matter. Jeffrey has done me more than 'justice;' but as to
tragedy--um!--I have no time for fiction at present. A man cannot
paint a storm with the vessel under bare poles on a lee-shore. When
I get to land, I will try what is to be done, and, if I founder,
there be plenty of mine elders and betters to console Melpomene.

"When at Newstead, you must come over, if only for a day--should
Mrs. M. be _exigeante_ of your presence. The place is worth seeing,
as a ruin, and I can assure you there _was_ some fun there, even
in my time; but that is past. The ghosts [46], however, and the
gothics, and the waters, and the desolation, make it very lively

"Ever, dear Tom, yours," &c.

[Footnote 46: It was, if I mistake not, during his recent visit to Newstead, that he himself actually fancied he saw the ghost of the Black Friar, which was supposed to have haunted the Abbey from the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, and which he thus describes, from the recollection perhaps of his own fantasy, in Don Juan:--

"It was no mouse, but, lo! a monk, array'd
In cowl and beads and dusky garb, appear'd,
Now in the moonlight, and now lapsed in shade,
With steps that trod as heavy, yet unheard:
His garments only a slight murmur made:
He moved as shadowy as the sisters weird,
But slowly; and as he pass'd Juan by,
Glanced, without pausing, on him a bright eye."

It is said, that the Newstead ghost appeared, also, to Lord Byron's cousin, Miss Fanny Parkins, and that she made a sketch of him from memory.]

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, Septembers. 1814.

"I am obliged by what you have sent, but would rather not see any
thing of the kind[47]; we have had enough of these things already,
good and bad, and next month you need not trouble yourself to
collect even the _higher_ generation--on my account. It gives me
much pleasure to hear of Mr. Hobhouse's and Mr. Merivale's good
entreatment by the journals you mention.

"I still think Mr. Hogg and yourself might make out an alliance.
_Dodsley's_ was, I believe, the last decent thing of the kind, and
_his_ had great success in its day, and lasted several years; but
then he had the double advantage of editing and publishing. The
Spleen, and several of _Gray's_ odes, much of _Shenstone_, and many
others of good repute, made their first appearance in his
collection. Now, with the support of Scott, Wordsworth, Southey,
&c., I see little reason why you should not do as well; and, if
once fairly established, you would have assistance from the
youngsters, I dare say. Stratford Canning (whose 'Buonaparte' is
excellent), and many others, and Moore, and Hobhouse, and I, would
try a fall now and then (if permitted), and you might coax
Campbell, too, into it. By the by, _he_ has an unpublished (though
printed) poem on a scene in Germany, (Bavaria, I think,) which I
saw last year, that is perfectly magnificent, and equal to himself.
I wonder he don't publish it.

"Oh!--do you recollect S * *, the engraver's, mad letter about not
engraving Phillips's picture of Lord _Foley_? (as he blundered it;)
well, I have traced it, I think. It seems, by the papers, a
preacher of Johanna Southcote's is named _Foley_; and I can no way
account for the said S * *'s confusion of words and ideas, but by
that of his head's running on Johanna and her apostles. It was a
mercy he did not say Lord _Tozer_. You know, of course, that S * *
is a believer in this new (old) virgin of spiritual impregnation.

"I long to know what she will produce[48]; her being with child at
sixty-five is indeed a miracle, but her getting any one to beget
it, a greater.

"If you were not going to Paris or Scotland, I could send you some
game: if you remain, let me know.

"P.S. A word or two of 'Lara,' which your enclosure brings before
me. It is of no great promise separately; but, as connected with
the other tales, it will do very well for the volumes you mean to
publish. I would recommend this arrangement--Childe Harold, the
smaller Poems, Giaour, Bride, Corsair, Lara; the last completes the
series, and its very likeness renders it necessary to the others.
Cawthorne writes that they are publishing _English Bards in
Ireland:_ pray enquire into this; because _it must_ be stopped."

[Footnote 47: The reviews and magazines of the month.]

[Footnote 48: The following characteristic note, in reference to this passage, appears, in Mr. Gifford's hand-writing, on the copy of the above letter:--"It is a pity that Lord B. was ignorant of Jonson. The old poet has a Satire on the Court Pucelle that would have supplied him with some pleasantry on Johanna's pregnancy."]

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, September 7. 1814.

"I should think Mr. Hogg, for his own sake as well as yours, would
be 'critical' as Iago himself in his editorial capacity; and that
such a publication would answer his purpose, and yours too, with
tolerable management. You should, however, have a good number to
start with--I mean, _good_ in quality; in these days, there can be
little fear of not coming up to the mark in quantity. There must be
many 'fine things' in Wordsworth; but I should think it difficult
to make _six_ quartos (the amount of the whole) all fine,
particularly the pedler's portion of the poem; but there can be no
doubt of his powers to do almost any thing.

"I _am_ 'very idle.' I have read the few books I had with me, and
been forced to fish, for lack of argument. I have caught a great
many perch and some carp, which is a comfort, as one would not lose
one's labour willingly.

"Pray, who corrects the press of your volumes? I hope 'The Corsair'
is printed from the copy I corrected, with the additional lines in
the first Canto, and some _notes_ from Sismondi and Lavater, which
I gave you to add thereto. The arrangement is very well.

"My cursed people have not sent my papers since Sunday, and I have
lost Johanna's divorce from Jupiter. Who hath gotten her with
prophet? Is it Sharpe, and how? * * * I should like to buy one of
her seals: if salvation can be had at half-a-guinea a head, the
landlord of the Crown and Anchor should be ashamed of himself for
charging double for tickets to a mere terrestrial banquet. I am
afraid, seriously, that these matters will lend a sad handle to
your profane scoffers, and give a loose to much damnable laughter.

"I have not seen Hunt's Sonnets nor Descent of Liberty: he has
chosen a pretty place wherein to compose the last. Let me hear from
you before you embark. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, September 15. 1814.

"This is the fourth letter I have begun to you within the month.
Whether I shall finish or not, or burn it like the rest, I know
not. When we meet, I will explain _why_ I have not written--_why_ I
have not asked you here, as I wished--with a great many other
_whys_ and wherefores, which will keep cold. In short, you must
excuse all my seeming omissions and commissions, and grant me more
_re_mission than St. Athanasius will to yourself, if you lop off a
single shred of mystery from his pious puzzle. It is my creed (and
it may be St. Athanasius's too) that your article on T * * will get
somebody killed, and _that_, on the _Saints_, get him d----d
afterwards, which will be quite enow for one number. Oons, Tom! you
must not meddle just now with the incomprehensible; for if Johanna
Southcote turns out to be * * *

"Now for a little egotism. My affairs stand thus. To-morrow, I
shall know whether a circumstance of importance enough to change
many of my plans will occur or not. If it does not, I am off for
Italy next month, and London, in the mean time, next week. I have
got back Newstead and twenty-five thousand pounds (out of
twenty-eight paid already),--as a 'sacrifice,' the late purchaser
calls it, and he may choose his own name. I have paid some of my
debts, and contracted others; but I have a few thousand pounds,
which I can't spend after my own heart in this climate, and so, I
shall go back to the south. Hobhouse, I think and hope, will go
with me; but, whether he will or not, I shall. I want to see
Venice, and the Alps, and Parmesan cheeses, and look at the coast
of Greece, or rather Epirus, from Italy, as I once did--or fancied
I did--that of Italy, when off Corfu. All this, however, depends
upon an event, which may, or may not, happen. Whether it will, I
shall know probably to-morrow, and, if it does, I can't well go
abroad at present.

"Pray pardon this parenthetical scrawl. You shall hear from me
again soon;--I don't call this an answer. Ever most
affectionately," &c.

The "circumstance of importance," to which he alludes in this
letter, was his second proposal for Miss Milbanke, of which he was
now waiting the result. His own account, in his Memoranda, of the
circumstances that led to this step is, in substance, as far as I
can trust my recollection, as follows. A person, who had for some
time stood high in his affection and confidence, observing how
cheerless and unsettled was the state both of his mind and
prospects, advised him strenuously to marry; and, after much
discussion, he consented. The next point for consideration was--who
was to be the object of his choice; and while his friend mentioned
one lady, he himself named Miss Milbanke. To this, however, his
adviser strongly objected,--remarking to him, that Miss Milbanke
had at present no fortune, and that his embarrassed affairs would
not allow him to marry without one; that she was, moreover, a
learned lady, which would not at all suit him. In consequence of
these representations, he agreed that his friend should write a
proposal for him to the other lady named, which was accordingly
done;--and an answer, containing a refusal, arrived as they were,
one morning, sitting together. "You see," said Lord Byron, "that,
after all, Miss Milbanke is to be the person;--I will write to
her." He accordingly wrote on the moment, and, as soon as he had
finished, his friend, remonstrating still strongly against his
choice, took up the letter,--but, on reading it over, observed,
"Well, really, this is a very pretty letter;--it is a pity it
should not go. I never read a prettier one."--"Then it _shall_ go,"
said Lord Byron; and in so saying, sealed and sent off, on the
instant, this fiat of his fate.

* * * * *


"Nd., September 15. 1814.

"I have written to you one letter to-night, but must send you this
much more, as I have not franked my number, to say that I rejoice
in my god-daughter, and will send her a coral and bells, which I
hope she will accept, the moment I get back to London.

"My head is at this moment in a state of confusion, from various
causes, which I can neither describe nor explain--but let that
pass. My employments have been very rural--fishing, shooting,
bathing, and boating. Books I have but few here, and those I have
read ten times over, till sick of them. So, I have taken to
breaking soda-water bottles with my pistols, and jumping into the
water, and rowing over it, and firing at the fowls of the air. But
why should I 'monster my nothings' to you, who are well employed,
and happily too, I should hope? For my part, I am happy, too, in my
way--but, as usual, have contrived to get into three or four
perplexities, which I do not see my way through. But a few days,
perhaps a day, will determine one of them.

"You do not say a word to me of your poem. I wish I could see or
hear it. I neither could, nor would, do it or its author any harm.
I believe I told you of Larry and Jacquy. A friend of mine was
reading--at least a friend of his was reading--said Larry and
Jacquy in a Brighton coach. A passenger took up the book and
queried as to the author. The proprietor said 'there were
_two_'--to which the answer of the unknown was, 'Ay, ay--a joint
concern, I suppose, _summot_ like Sternhold and Hopkins.'

"Is not this excellent? I would not have missed the 'vile
comparison' to have 'scaped being one of the 'Arcades ambo et
cantare pares.' Good night. Again yours."

* * * * *


"Newstead Abbey, Sept. 20. 1814.

"Here's to her who long
Hath waked the poet's sigh!
The girl who gave to song
What gold could never buy.

--My dear Moore, I am going to be married--that is, I am
accepted[49], and one usually hopes the rest will follow. My
mother of the Gracchi (that _are_ to be) _you_ think too
strait-laced for me, although the paragon of only children, and
invested with 'golden opinions of all sorts of men,' and full of
'most blest conditions' as Desdemona herself. Miss Milbanke is the
lady, and I have her father's invitation to proceed there in my
elect capacity,--which, however, I cannot do till I have settled
some business in London and got a blue coat.

"She is said to be an heiress, but of that I really know nothing
certainly, and shall not enquire. But I do know, that she has
talents and excellent qualities; and you will not deny her
judgment, after having refused six suitors and taken me.

"Now, if you have any thing to say against this, pray do; my mind's
made up, positively fixed, determined, and therefore I will listen
to reason, because now it can do no harm. Things may occur to break
it off, but I will hope not. In the mean time, I tell you (a
_secret_, by the by,--at least, till I know she wishes it to be
public,) that I have proposed and am accepted. You need not be in a
hurry to wish me joy, for one mayn't be married for months. I am
going to town to-morrow; but expect to be here, on my way there,
within a fortnight.

"If this had not happened, I should have gone to Italy. In my way
down, perhaps, you will meet me at Nottingham, and come over with
me here. I need not say that nothing will give me greater pleasure.
I must, of course, reform thoroughly; and, seriously, if I can
contribute to her happiness, I shall secure my own. She is so good
a person, that--that--in short, I wish I was a better. Ever," &c.

[Footnote 49: On the day of the arrival of the lady's answer, he was sitting at dinner, when his gardener came in and presented him with his mother's wedding ring, which she had lost many years before, and which the gardener had just found in digging up the mould under her window. Almost at the same moment, the letter from Miss Milbanke arrived; and Lord Byron exclaimed, "If it contains a consent, I will be married with this very ring." It did contain a very flattering acceptance of his proposal, and a duplicate of the letter had been sent to London, in case this should have missed him.--_Memoranda_.]

* * * * *


"Albany, October 5. 1814.

"Dear Lady * *,

"Your recollection and invitation do me great honour; but I am
going to be 'married, and can't come.' My intended is two hundred
miles off, and the moment my business here is arranged, I must set
out in a great hurry to be happy. Miss Milbanke is the good-natured
person who has undertaken me, and, of course, I am very much in
love, and as silly as all single gentlemen must be in that
sentimental situation. I have been accepted these three weeks; but
when the event will take place, I don't exactly know. It depends
partly upon lawyers, who are never in a hurry. One can be sure of
nothing; but, at present, there appears no other interruption to
this intention, which seems as mutual as possible, and now no
secret, though I did not tell first,--and all our relatives are
congratulating away to right and left in the most fatiguing manner.

"You perhaps know the lady. She is niece to Lady Melbourne, and
cousin to Lady Cowper and others of your acquaintance, and has no
fault, except being a great deal too good for me, and that _I_
must pardon, if nobody else should. It might have been _two_ years
ago, and, if it had, would have saved me a world of trouble. She
has employed the interval in refusing about half a dozen of my
particular friends, (as she did me once, by the way,) and has taken
me at last, for which I am very much obliged to her. I wish it was
well over, for I do hate bustle, and there is no marrying without
some;--and then, I must not marry in a black coat, they tell me,
and I can't bear a blue one.

"Pray forgive me for scribbling all this nonsense. You know I must
be serious all the rest of my life, and this is a parting piece of
buffoonery, which I write with tears in my eyes, expecting to be
agitated. Believe me most seriously and sincerely your obliged
servant, BYRON.

"P.S. My best rems. to Lord * * on his return."

* * * * *


"October 7. 1814.

"Notwithstanding the contradictory paragraph in the Morning
Chronicle, which must have been sent by * *, or perhaps--I know not
why I should suspect Claughton of such a thing, and yet I partly
do, because it might interrupt his renewal of purchase, if so
disposed; in short it matters not, but we are all in the road to
matrimony--lawyers settling, relations congratulating, my intended
as kind as heart could wish, and every one, whose opinion I value,
very glad of it. All her relatives, and all mine too, seem equally

"Perry was very sorry, and has _re_-contradicted, as you will
perceive by this day's paper. It was, to be sure, a devil of an
insertion, since the first paragraph came from Sir Ralph's own
County Journal, and this in the teeth of it would appear to him and
his as _my_ denial. But I have written to do away that, enclosing
Perry's letter, which was very polite and kind.

"Nobody hates bustle so much as I do; but there seems a fatality
over every scene of my drama, always a row of some sort or other.
No matter--Fortune is my best friend; and as I acknowledge my
obligations to her, I hope she will treat me better than she
treated the Athenian, who took some merit to _himself_ on some
occasion, but (after that) took no more towns. In fact, _she_, that
exquisite goddess, has hitherto carried me through every thing, and
will I hope, now; since I own it will be all _her_ doing.

"Well, now, for thee. Your article on * * is perfection itself. You
must not leave off reviewing. By Jove, I believe you can do any
thing. There is wit, and taste, and learning, and good humour
(though not a whit less severe for that), in every line of that

"Next to _your_ being an E. Reviewer, _my_ being of the same
kidney, and Jeffrey's being such a friend to both, are amongst the
events which I conceive were not calculated upon in Mr.--what's his
name?'s--'Essay on Probabilities.'

"But, Tom, I say--Oons! Scott menaces the 'Lord of the Isles." Do
you mean to compete? or lay by, till this wave has broke upon the
_shelves_? (of booksellers, not rocks--a _broken_ metaphor, by the
way.) You _ought_ to be afraid of nobody; but your modesty is
really as provoking and unnecessary as a * *'s. I am very merry,
and have just been writing some elegiac stanzas on the death of Sir
P. Parker. He was my first cousin, but never met since boyhood. Our
relations desired me, and I have scribbled and given it to Perry,
who will chronicle it to-morrow. I am as sorry for him as one could
be for one I never saw since I was a child; but should not have
wept melodiously, except 'at the request of friends.'

"I hope to get out of town and be married, but I shall take
Newstead in my way; and you must meet me at Nottingham and
accompany me to mine Abbey. I will tell you the day when I know it.

"Ever," &c.

"P.S. By the way my wife elect is perfection, and I hear of nothing
but her merits and her wonders, and that she is 'very pretty.' Her
expectations, I am told, are great; but _what_, I have not asked. I
have not seen her these ten months."

* * * * *


"October 14. 1814.

"An' there were any thing in marriage that would make a difference
between my friends and me, particularly in your case, I would 'none
on't.' My agent sets off for Durham next week, and I shall follow
him, taking Newstead and you in my way. I certainly did not address
Miss Milbanke with these views, but it is likely she may prove a
considerable _parti_. All her father can give, or leave her, he
will; and from her childless uncle, Lord Wentworth, whose barony,
it is supposed, will devolve on Ly. Milbanke (her sister), she has
expectations. But these will depend upon his own disposition, which
seems very partial towards her. She is an only child, and Sir R.'s
estates, though dipped by electioneering, are considerable. Part of
them are settled on her; but whether _that_ will be _dowered_ now,
I do not know,--though, from what has been intimated to me, it
probably will. The lawyers are to settle this among them, and I am
getting my property into matrimonial array, and myself ready for
the journey to Seaham, which I must make in a week or ten days.

"I certainly did not dream that she was attached to me, which it
seems she has been for some time. I also thought her of a very cold
disposition, in which I was also mistaken--it is a long story, and
I won't trouble you with it. As to her virtues, &c. &c. you will
hear enough of them (for she is a kind of _pattern_ in the north),
without my running into a display on the subject. It is well that
_one_ of us is of such fame, since there is sad deficit in the
_morale_ of that article upon my part,--all owing to my 'bitch of a
star,' as Captain Tranchemont says of his planet.

"Don't think you have not said enough of me in your article on T *
*; what more could or need be said?

"Your long-delayed and expected work--I suppose you will take
fright at 'The Lord of the Isles' and Scott now. You must do as you
like,--I have said my say. You ought to fear comparison with none,
and any one would stare, who heard you were so tremulous,--though,
after all, I believe it is the surest sign of talent. Good morning.
I hope we shall meet soon, but I will write again, and perhaps you
will meet me at Nottingham. Pray say so.

"P.S. If this union is productive, you shall name the first

* * * * *


"October 18. 1814.

"My dear Drury,

"Many thanks for your hitherto unacknowledged 'Anecdotes.' Now for
one of mine--I am going to be married, and have been engaged this
month. It is a long story, and, therefore, I won't tell it,--an old
and (though I did not know it till lately) a _mutual_ attachment.
The very sad life I have led since I was your pupil must partly
account for the offs and _ons_ in this now to be arranged business.
We are only waiting for the lawyers and settlements, &c.; and next
week, or the week after, I shall go down to Seaham in the new
character of a regular suitor for a wife of mine own.

"I hope Hodgson is in a fair way on the same voyage--I saw him and
his idol at Hastings. I wish he would be married at the same
time,--I should like to make a party,--like people electrified in a
row, by (or rather through) the same chain, holding one another's
hands, and all feeling the shock at once. I have not yet apprised
him of this. He makes such a serious matter of all these things,
and is so 'melancholy and gentlemanlike,' that it is quite
overcoming to us choice spirits.

"They say one shouldn't be married in a black coat. I won't have a
blue one,--that's flat. I hate it.

"Yours," &c.

* * * * *


"October 22. 1814.

"My dear Cowell,

"Many and sincere thanks for your kind letter--the bet, or rather
forfeit, was one hundred to Hawke, and fifty to Hay (nothing to
Kelly), for a guinea received from each of the two former.[50] I
shall feel much obliged by your setting me right if I am incorrect
in this statement in any way, and have reasons for wishing you to
recollect as much as possible of what passed, and state it to
Hodgson. My reason is this: some time ago Mr. * * * required a bet
of me which I never made, and of course refused to pay, and have
heard no more of it; to prevent similar mistakes is my object in
wishing you to remember well what passed, and to put Hodgson in
possession of your memory on the subject.

"I hope to see you soon in my way through Cambridge. Remember me to
H., and believe me ever and truly," &c.

[Footnote 50: He had agreed to forfeit these sums to the persons mentioned, should he ever marry.]

* * * * *

Soon after the date of this letter, Lord Byron had to pay a visit to Cambridge for the purpose of voting for Mr. Clarke, who had been started by Trinity College as one of the candidates for Sir Busick Harwood's Professorship. On this occasion, a circumstance occurred which could not but be gratifying to him. As he was delivering in his vote to the Vice-Chancellor, in the Senate House, the under-graduates in the gallery ventured to testify their admiration of him by a general murmur of applause and stamping of the feet. For this breach of order, the gallery was immediately cleared by order of the Vice-Chancellor.

At the beginning of the month of December, being called up to town by business, I had opportunities, from being a good deal in my noble friend's society, of observing the state of his mind and feelings, under the prospect of the important change he was now about to undergo; and it was with pain I found that those sanguine hopes[51] with which I had sometimes looked forward to the happy influence of marriage, in winning him over to the brighter and better side of life, were, by a view of all the circumstances of his present destiny, considerably diminished; while, at the same time, not a few doubts and misgivings, which had never before so strongly occurred to me, with regard to his own fitness, under any circumstances, for the matrimonial tie, filled me altogether with a degree of foreboding anxiety as to his fate, which the unfortunate events that followed but too fully justified.

The truth is, I fear, that rarely, if ever, have men of the higher order of genius shown themselves fitted for the calm affections and comforts that form the cement of domestic life. "One misfortune (says Pope) of extraordinary geniuses is, that their very friends are more apt to admire than love them." To this remark there have, no doubt, been exceptions,--and I should pronounce Lord Byron, from my own experience, to be one of them,--but it would not be difficult, perhaps, to show, from the very nature and pursuits of genius, that such must generally be the lot of all pre-eminently gifted with it; and that the same qualities which enable them to command admiration are also those that too often incapacitate them from conciliating love.

The very habits, indeed, of abstraction and self-study to which the occupations of men of genius lead, are, in themselves, necessarily, of an unsocial and detaching tendency, and require a large portion of indulgence from others not to be set down as unamiable. One of the chief sources, too, of sympathy and society between ordinary mortals being their dependence on each other's intellectual resources, the operation of this social principle must naturally be weakest in those whose own mental stores are most abundant and self-sufficing, and who, rich in such materials for thinking within themselves, are rendered so far independent of any aid from others. It was this solitary luxury (which Plato called "banqueting his own thoughts") that led Pope, as well as Lord Byron, to prefer the silence and seclusion of his library to the most agreeable conversation.--And not only too, is the necessity of commerce with other minds less felt by such persons, but, from that fastidiousness which the opulence of their own resources generates, the society of those less gifted than themselves becomes often a restraint and burden, to which not all the charms of friendship, or even love, can reconcile them. "Nothing is so tiresome (says the poet of Vaucluse, in assigning a reason for not living with some of his dearest friends) as to converse with persons who have not the same information as one's self."

But it is the cultivation and exercise of the imaginative faculty that, more than any thing, tends to wean the man of genius from actual life, and, by substituting the sensibilities of the imagination for those of the heart, to render, at last, the medium through which he feels no less unreal than that through which he thinks. Those images of ideal good and beauty that surround him in his musings soon accustom him to consider all that is beneath this high standard unworthy of his care; till, at length, the heart becoming chilled as the fancy warms, it too often happens that, in proportion as he has refined and elevated his theory of all the social affections, he has unfitted himself for the practice of them.[52] Hence so frequently it arises that, in persons of this temperament, we see some bright but artificial idol of the brain usurp the place of all real and natural objects of tenderness. The poet Dante, a wanderer away from wife and children, passed the whole of a restless and detached life in nursing his immortal dream of Beatrice; while Petrarch, who would not suffer his only daughter to reside beneath his roof, expended thirty-two years of poetry and passion on an idealised love.

It is, indeed, in the very nature and essence of genius to be for ever occupied intensely with Self, as the great centre and source of its strength. Like the sister Rachel, in Dante, sitting all day before her mirror,

"mai non si smaga
Del suo ammiraglio, e siede tutto giorno."

To this power of self-concentration, by which alone all the other powers of genius are made available, there is, of course, no such disturbing and fatal enemy as those sympathies and affections that draw the mind out actively towards others[53]; and, accordingly, it will be found that, among those who have felt within themselves a call to immortality, the greater number have, by a sort of instinct, kept aloof from such ties, and, instead of the softer duties and rewards of being amiable, reserved themselves for the high, hazardous chances of being great. In looking back through the lives of the most illustrious poets,--the class of intellect in which the characteristic features of genius are, perhaps, most strongly marked,--we shall find that, with scarcely one exception, from Homer down to Lord Byron, they have been, in their several degrees, restless and solitary spirits, with minds wrapped up, like silk-worms, in their own tasks, either strangers, or rebels to domestic ties, and bearing about with them a deposit for posterity in their souls, to the jealous watching and enriching of which almost all other thoughts and considerations have been sacrificed.

"To follow poetry as one ought (says the authority[54] I have already quoted), one must forget father and mother and cleave to it alone." In these few words is pointed out the sole path that leads genius to greatness. On such terms alone are the high places of fame to be won;--nothing less than the sacrifice of the entire man can achieve them. However delightful, therefore, may be the spectacle of a man of genius tamed and domesticated in society, taking docilely upon him the yoke of the social ties, and enlightening without disturbing the sphere in which he moves, we must nevertheless, in the midst of our admiration, bear in mind that it is not thus smoothly or amiably immortality has been ever struggled for, or won. The poet thus circumstanced may be popular, may be loved; for the happiness of himself and those linked with him he is in the right road,--but not for greatness. The marks by which Fame has always separated her great martyrs from the rest of mankind are not upon him, and the crown cannot be his. He may dazzle, may captivate the circle, and even the times in which he lives, but he is not for hereafter.

To the general description here given of that high class of human intelligences to which he belonged, the character of Lord Byron was, in many respects, a signal exception. Born with strong affections and ardent passions, the world had, from first to last, too firm a hold on his sympathies to let imagination altogether usurp the place of reality, either in his feelings, or in the objects of them. His life, indeed, was one continued struggle between that instinct of genius, which was for ever drawing him back into the lonely laboratory of Self, and those impulses of passion, ambition, and vanity, which again hurried him off into the crowd, and entangled him in its interests; and though it may be granted that he would have been more purely and abstractedly the _poet_, had he been less thoroughly, in all his pursuits and propensities, the _man_, yet from this very mixture and alloy has it arisen that his pages bear so deeply the stamp of real life, and that in the works of no poet, with the exception of Shakspeare, can every various mood of the mind--whether solemn or gay, whether inclined to the ludicrous or the sublime, whether seeking to divert itself with the follies of society or panting after the grandeur of solitary nature--find so readily a strain of sentiment in accordance with its every passing tone.

But while the naturally warm cast of his affections and temperament gave thus a substance and truth to his social feelings which those of too many of his fellow votaries of Genius have wanted, it was not to be expected that an imagination of such range and power should have been so early developed and unrestrainedly indulged without producing, at last, some of those effects upon the heart which have invariably been found attendant on such a predominance of this faculty. It must have been observed, indeed, that the period when his natural affections flourished most healthily was before he had yet arrived at the full consciousness of his genius,--before Imagination had yet accustomed him to those glowing pictures, after gazing upon which all else appeared cold and colourless. From the moment of this initiation into the wonders of his own mind, a distaste for the realities of life began to grow upon him. Not even that intense craving after affection, which nature had implanted in him, could keep his ardour still alive in a pursuit whose results fell so short of his "imaginings;" and though, from time to time, the combined warmth of his fancy and temperament was able to call up a feeling which to his eyes wore the semblance of love, it may be questioned whether his heart had ever much share in such passions, or whether, after his first launch into the boundless sea of imagination, he could ever have been brought back and fixed by any lasting attachment. Actual objects there were, in but too great number, who, as long as the illusion continued, kindled up his thoughts and were the themes of his song. But they were, after all, little more than mere dreams of the hour;--the qualities with which he invested them were almost all ideal, nor could have stood the test of a month's, or even week's, cohabitation. It was but the reflection of his own bright conceptions that he saw in each new object; and while persuading himself that they furnished the models of his heroines, he was, on the contrary, but fancying that he beheld his heroines in them.

There needs no stronger proof of the predominance of imagination in these attachments than his own serious avowal, in the Journal already given, that often, when in the company of the woman he most loved, he found himself secretly wishing for the solitude of his own study. It was _there_, indeed,--in the silence and abstraction of that study,--that the chief scene of his mistress's empire and glory lay. It was there that, unchecked by reality, and without any fear of the disenchantments of truth, he could view her through the medium of his own fervid fancy, enamour himself of an idol of his own creating, and out of a brief delirium of a few days or weeks, send forth a dream of beauty and passion through all ages.

While such appears to have been the imaginative character of his loves, (of all, except the one that lived unquenched through all,) his friendships, though, of course, far less subject to the influence of fancy, could not fail to exhibit also some features characteristic of the peculiar mind in which they sprung. It was a usual saying of his own, and will be found repeated in some of his letters, that he had "no genius for friendship," and that whatever capacity he might once have possessed for that sentiment had vanished with his youth. If in saying thus he shaped his notions of friendship according to the romantic standard of his boyhood, the fact must be admitted: but as far as the assertion was meant to imply that he had become incapable of a warm, manly, and lasting friendship, such a charge against himself was unjust, and I am not the only living testimony of its injustice.

To a certain degree, however, even in his friendships, the effects of a too vivid imagination, in disqualifying the mind for the cold contact of reality, were visible. We are told that Petrarch (who, in this respect, as in most others, may be regarded as a genuine representative of the poetic character,) abstained purposely from a too frequent intercourse with his nearest friends, lest, from the sensitiveness he was so aware of in himself, there should occur any thing that might chill his regard for them [55]; and though Lord Byron was of a nature too full of social and kindly impulses ever to think of such a precaution, it is a fact confirmatory, at least, of the principle on which his brother poet, Petrarch, acted, that the friends, whether of his youth or manhood, of whom he had seen least, through life, were those of whom he always thought and spoke with the most warmth and fondness. Being brought less often to the touchstone of familiar intercourse, they stood naturally a better chance of being adopted as the favourites of his imagination, and of sharing, in consequence, a portion of that bright colouring reserved for all that gave it interest and pleasure. Next to the dead, therefore, whose hold upon his fancy had been placed beyond all risk of severance, those friends whom he but saw occasionally, and by such favourable glimpses as only renewed the first kindly impression they had made, were the surest to live unchangingly, and without shadow, in his memory.

To this same cause, there is little doubt, his love for his sister owed much of its devotedness and fervour. In a mind sensitive and versatile as his, long habits of family intercourse might have estranged, or at least dulled, his natural affection for her;--but their separation, during youth, left this feeling fresh and untried.[56] His very inexperience in such ties made the smile of a sister no less a novelty than a charm to him; and before the first gloss of this newly awakened sentiment had time to wear off, they were again separated, and for ever.

If the portrait which I have here attempted of the general character of those gifted with high genius be allowed to bear, in any of its features, a resemblance to the originals, it can no longer, I think, be matter of question whether a class so set apart from the track of ordinary life, so removed, by their very elevation, out of the influences of our common atmosphere, are at all likely to furnish tractable subjects for that most trying of all social experiments, matrimony. In reviewing the great names of philosophy and science, we shall find that all who have most distinguished themselves in those walks have, at least, virtually admitted their own unfitness for the marriage tie by remaining in celibacy;--Newton, Gassendi, Galileo, Descartes, Bayle, Locke, Leibnitz, Boyle, Hume, and a long list of other illustrious sages, having all led single lives.[57]

The poetic race, it is true, from the greater susceptibility of their imaginations, have more frequently fallen into the ever ready snare. But the fate of the poets in matrimony has but justified the caution of the philosophers. While the latter have given warning to genius by keeping free of the yoke, the others have still more effectually done so by their misery under it;--the annals of this sensitive race having, at all times, abounded with proofs, that genius ranks but low among the elements of social happiness,--that, in general, the brighter the gift, the more disturbing its influence, and that in married life particularly, its effects have been too often like that of the "Wormwood Star," whose light filled the waters on which it fell with bitterness.

Besides the causes already enumerated as leading naturally to such a result, from the peculiarities by which, in most instances, these great labourers in the field of thought are characterised, there is also much, no doubt, to be attributed to an unluckiness in the choice of helpmates,--dictated, as that choice frequently must be, by an imagination accustomed to deceive itself. But from whatever causes it may have arisen, the coincidence is no less striking than saddening, that, on the list of married poets who have been unhappy in their homes, there should already be found four such illustrious names as Dante, Milton[58], Shakspeare[59], and Dryden; and that we should now have to add, as a partner in their destiny, a name worthy of being placed beside the greatest of them,--Lord Byron.

I have already mentioned my having been called up to town in the December of this year. The opportunities I had of seeing Lord Byron during my stay were frequent; and, among them, not the least memorable or agreeable were those evenings we passed together at the house of his banker, Mr. Douglas Kinnaird, where music,--followed by its accustomed sequel of supper, brandy and water, and not a little laughter,--kept us together, usually, till rather a late hour. Besides those songs of mine which he has himself somewhere recorded as his favourites, there was also one to a Portuguese air, "The song of war shall echo through our mountains," which seemed especially to please him;--the national character of the music, and the recurrence of the words "sunny mountains," bringing back freshly to his memory the impressions of all he had seen in Portugal. I have, indeed, known few persons more alive to the charms of simple music; and not unfrequently have seen the tears in his eyes while listening to the Irish Melodies. Among those that thus affected him was one beginning "When first I met thee warm and young," the words of which, besides the obvious feeling which they express, were intended also to admit of a political application. He, however, discarded the latter sense wholly from his mind, and gave himself up to the more natural sentiment of the song with evident emotion.

On one or two of these evenings, his favourite actor, Mr. Kean, was of the party; and on another occasion, we had at dinner his early instructor in pugilism, Mr. Jackson, in conversing with whom, all his boyish tastes seemed to revive;--and it was not a little amusing to observe how perfectly familiar with the annals of "The Ring[60]," and with all the most recondite phraseology of "the Fancy," was the sublime poet of Childe Harold.

The following note is the only one, of those I received from him at this time, worth transcribing:--

"December 14. 1814.

"My dearest Tom,

"I will send the pattern to-morrow, and since you don't go to our
friend ('of the _keeping_ part of the town') this evening, I shall
e'en sulk at home over a solitary potation. My self-opinion rises
much by your eulogy of my social qualities. As my friend Scrope is
pleased to say, I believe I am very well for a 'holiday drinker.'
Where the devil are you? With Woolridge[61], I conjecture--for
which you deserve another abscess. Hoping that the American war
will last for many years, and that all the prizes may be registered
at Bermoothes, believe me, &c.

"P.S. I have just been composing an epistle to the Archbishop for
an especial licence. Oons! it looks serious. Murray is impatient to
see you, and would call, if you will give him audience. Your new
coat!--I wonder you like the colour, and don't go about, like
Dives, in purple."

[Footnote 51: I had frequently, both in earnest and in jest, expressed these hopes to him; and, in one of my letters, after touching upon some matters relative to my own little domestic circle, I added, "This will all be unintelligible to you; though I sometimes cannot help thinking it within the range of possibility, that even _you_, volcano as you are, may, one day, cool down into something of the same _habitable_ state. Indeed, when one thinks of lava having been converted into buttons for Isaac Hawkins Browne, there is no saying what such fiery things may be brought to at last."]

[Footnote 52: Of the lamentable contrast between sentiments and conduct, which this transfer of the seat of sensibility from the heart to the fancy produces, the annals of literary men afford unluckily too many examples. Alfieri, though he could write a sonnet full of tenderness to his mother, never saw her (says Mr. W. Rose) but once after their early separation, though he frequently passed within a few miles of her residence. The poet Young, with all his parade of domestic sorrows, was, it appears, a neglectful husband and harsh father; and Sterne (to use the words employed by Lord Byron) preferred "whining over a dead ass to relieving a living mother."]

[Footnote 53: It is the opinion of Diderot, in his Treatise on Acting, that not only in the art of which he treats, but in all those which are called imitative, the possession of real sensibility is a bar to eminence;--sensibility being, according to his view, "le caractere de la bonté de l'ame et de la médiocrité du génie."]

[Footnote 54: Pope.]

[Footnote 55: See Foscolo's Essay on Petrarch. On the same principle, Orrery says, in speaking of Swift, "I am persuaded that his distance from his English friends proved a strong incitement to their mutual affection."]

[Footnote 56: That he was himself fully aware of this appears from a passage in one of his letters already given:--"My sister is in town, which is a great comfort; for, never having been much together, we are naturally more attached to each other."]

[Footnote 57: Wife and children, Bacon tells us in one of his Essays, are "impediments to great enterprises;" and adds, "Certainly, the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men." See, with reference to this subject, chapter xviii. of Mr. D'Israeli's work on "The Literary Character."]

[Footnote 58: Milton's first wife, it is well known, ran away from him, within a month after their marriage, disgusted, says Phillips, "with his spare diet and hard study;" and it is difficult to conceive a more melancholy picture of domestic life than is disclosed in his nuncupative will, one of the witnesses to which deposes to having heard the great poet himself complain, that his children "were careless of him, being blind, and made nothing of deserting him."]

[Footnote 59: By whatever austerity of temper or habits the poets Dante and Milton may have drawn upon themselves such a fate, it might be expected that, at least, the "gentle Shakspeare" would have stood exempt from the common calamity of his brethren. But, among the very few facts of his life that have been transmitted to us, there is none more clearly proved than the unhappiness of his marriage. The dates of the birth of his children, compared with that of his removal from Stratford,--the total omission of his wife's name in the first draft of his will, and the bitter sarcasm of the bequest by which he remembers her afterwards,--all prove beyond a doubt both his separation from the lady early in life, and his unfriendly feeling towards her at the close of it.

In endeavouring to argue against the conclusion naturally to be deduced from this will, Boswell, with a strange ignorance of human nature, remarks:--"If he had taken offence at any part of his wife's conduct, I cannot believe that he would have taken this petty mode of expressing it."]

[Footnote 60: In a small book which I have in my possession, containing a sort of chronological History of the Ring, I find the name of Lord Byron, more than once, recorded among the "backers."]

[Footnote 61: Dr. Woolriche, an old and valued friend of mine, to whose skill, on the occasion here alluded to, I was indebted for my life.]

* * * * *


"December 31, 1814.

"A thousand thanks for Gibbon: all the additions are very great

"At last I must be _most_ peremptory with you about the _print_
from Phillips's picture: it is pronounced on all hands the most
stupid and disagreeable possible: so do, pray, have a new
engraving, and let me see it first; there really must be no more
from the same plate. I don't much care, myself; but every one I
honour torments me to death about it, and abuses it to a degree
beyond repeating. Now, don't answer with excuses; but, for my sake,
have it destroyed: I never shall have peace till it is. I write in
the greatest haste.

"P.S. I have written this most illegibly; but it is to beg you to
destroy the print, and have another 'by particular desire.' It must
be d----d bad, to be sure, since every body says so but the
original; and he don't know what to say. But do _do_ it: that is,
burn the plate, and employ a new _etcher_ from the other picture.
This is stupid and sulky."

* * * * *

On his arrival in town, he had, upon enquiring into the state of his affairs, found them in so utterly embarrassed a condition as to fill him with some alarm, and even to suggest to his mind the prudence of deferring his marriage. The die was, however, cast, and he had now no alternative but to proceed. Accordingly, at the end of December, accompanied by his friend Mr. Hobhouse, he set out for Seaham, the seat of Sir Ralph Milbanke, the lady's father, in the county of Durham, and on the 2d of January, 1815, was married.

"I saw him stand
Before an altar with a gentle bride;
Her face was fair, but was not that which made
The Starlight of his Boyhood;--as he stood
Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came
The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock
That in the antique Oratory shook
His bosom in its solitude; and then--
As in that hour--a moment o'er his face,
The tablet of unutterable thoughts
Was traced,--and then it faded as it came,
And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke
The fitting vows, but heard not his own words,
And all things reel'd around him; he could see
Not that which was, nor that which should have been--
But the old mansion, and the accustom'd hall,
And the remember'd chambers, and the place,
The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade,
All things pertaining to that place and hour,
And her, who was his destiny, came back,
And thrust themselves between him and the light:--
What business had they there at such a time?"[62]

This touching picture agrees so closely in many of its circumstances, with his own prose account of the wedding in his Memoranda, that I feel justified in introducing it, historically, here. In that Memoir, he described himself as waking, on the morning of his marriage, with the most melancholy reflections, on seeing his wedding-suit spread out before him. In the same mood, he wandered about the grounds alone, till he was summoned for the ceremony, and joined, for the first time on that day, his bride and her family. He knelt down, he repeated the words after the clergyman; but a mist was before his eyes,--his thoughts were elsewhere; and he was but awakened by the congratulations of the bystanders, to find that he was--married.

The same morning, the wedded pair left Seaham for Halnaby, another seat of Sir Ralph Milbanke, in the same county. When about to depart, Lord Byron said to the bride, "Miss Milbanke, are you ready?"--a mistake which the lady's confidential attendant pronounced to be a "bad omen."

It is right to add, that I quote these slight details from memory, and am alone answerable for any inaccuracy there may be found in them.

[Footnote 62: The Dream.]

* * * * *


"Kirkby, January 6. 1815.

"The marriage took place on the 2d instant: so pray make haste and
congratulate away.

"Thanks for the Edinburgh Review and the abolition of the print.
Let the next be from the _other_ of Phillips--I mean (_not_ the
Albanian, but) the original one in the exhibition; the last was
from the copy. I should wish my sister and Lady Byron to decide
upon the next, as they found fault with the last. _I_ have no
opinion of my own upon the subject.

"Mr. Kinnaird will, I dare say, have the goodness to furnish copies
of the Melodies[63], if you state my wish upon the subject. You may
have them, if you think them worth inserting. The volumes in their
collected state must be inscribed to Mr. Hobhouse, but I have not
yet mustered the expressions of my inscription; but will supply
them in time.

With many thanks for your good wishes, which have all been
realised, I remain, very truly, yours,


[Footnote 63: The Hebrew Melodies which he had employed himself in writing, during his recent stay in London.]

* * * * *


"Halnaby, Darlington, January 10, 1815.

"I was married this day week. The parson has pronounced it--Perry
has announced it--and the Morning Post, also, under the head of
'Lord Byron's Marriage'--as if it were a fabrication, or the
puff-direct of a new stay-maker.

"Now for thine affairs. I have redde thee upon the Fathers, and it
is excellent well. Positively, you must not leave off reviewing.
You shine in it--you kill in it; and this article has been taken
for Sydney Smith's (as I heard in town), which proves not only your
proficiency in parsonology, but that you have all the airs of a
veteran critic at your first onset. So, prithee, go on and prosper.

"Scott's 'Lord of the Isles' is out--'the mail-coach copy' I have,
by special licence, of Murray.

"Now is _your_ time;--you will come upon them newly and freshly. It
is impossible to read what you have lately done (verse or prose)
without seeing that you have trained on tenfold. * * has
floundered; * * has foundered. _I_ have tried the rascals (i.e. the
public) with my Harrys and Larrys, Pilgrims and Pirates. Nobody but
S * * * *y has done any thing worth a slice of bookseller's
pudding; and _he_ has not luck enough to be found out in doing a
good thing. Now, Tom, is thy time--'Oh joyful day!--I would not
take a knighthood for thy fortune. Let me hear from you soon, and
believe me ever, &c.

"P.S. Lady Byron is vastly well. How are Mrs. Moore and Joe
Atkinson's 'Graces?' We must present our women to one another."

* * * * *


"January 19. 1815.

"Egad! I don't think he is 'down;' and my prophecy--like most
auguries, sacred and profane--is not annulled, but inverted.

"To your question about the 'dog'[64]--Umph!--my 'mother,' I won't
say any thing against--that is, about her: but how long a
'mistress' or friend may recollect paramours or competitors (lust
and thirst being the two great and only bonds between the amatory
or the amicable) I can't say,--or, rather, you know, as well as I
could tell you. But as for canine recollections, as far as I could
judge by a cur of mine own, (always bating Boatswain, the dearest
and, alas! the maddest of dogs,) I had one (half a _wolf_ by the
she side) that doted on me at ten years old, and very nearly ate me
at twenty. When I thought he was going to enact Argus, he bit away
the backside of my breeches, and never would consent to any kind of
recognition, in despite of all kinds of bones which I offered him.
So, let Southey blush and Homer too, as far as I can decide upon
quadruped memories.

"I humbly take it, the mother knows the son that pays her
jointure--a mistress her mate, till he * * and refuses salary--a
friend his fellow, till he loses cash and character--and a dog his
master, till he changes him.

"So, you want to know about milady and me? But let me not, as
Roderick Random says, 'profane the chaste mysteries of
Hymen'[65]--damn the word, I had nearly spelt it with a small _h_.
I like Bell as well as you do (or did, you villain!) Bessy--and
that is (or was) saying a great deal.

"Address your next to Seaham, Stockton-on-Tees, where we are going
on Saturday (a bore, by the way,) to see father-in-law, Sir Jacob,
and my lady's lady-mother. Write--and write more at length--both to
the public and yours ever most affectionately,


[Footnote 64: I had just been reading Mr. Southey's fine poem of "Roderick;" and with reference to an incident in it, had put the following question to Lord Byron:--"I should like to know from you, who are one of the philocynic sect, whether it is probable, that any dog (out of a melodrame) could recognise a master, whom neither his own mother or mistress was able to find out. I don't care about Ulysses's dog, &c.--all I want is to know from _you_ (who are renowned as 'friend of the dog, companion of the bear') whether such a thing is probable."]

[Footnote 65: The letter H. is blotted in the MS.]

* * * * *


"Seaham, Stockton-on-Tees, February 2. 1815.

"I have heard from London that you have left Chatsworth and all the
women full of 'entusymusy'[66] about you, personally and
poetically; and, in particular, that 'When first I met thee' has
been quite overwhelming in its effect. I told you it was one of the
best things you ever wrote, though that dog Power wanted you to
omit part of it. They are all regretting your absence at
Chatsworth, according to my informant--'all the ladies quite,' &c.
&c. &c. Stap my vitals!

"Well, now you have got home again--which I dare say is as
agreeable as a 'draught of cool small beer to the scorched palate
of a waking sot'--now you have got home again, I say, probably I
shall hear from you. Since I wrote last, I have been transferred to
my father-in-law's, with my lady and my lady's maid, &c. &c. &c.
and the treacle-moon is over, and I am awake, and find myself
married. My spouse and I agree to--and in--admiration. Swift says
'no _wise_ man ever married;' but, for a fool, I think it the most
ambrosial of all possible future states. I still think one ought to
marry upon _lease_; but am very sure I should renew mine at the
expiration, though next term were for ninety and nine years.

"I wish you would respond, for I am here 'oblitusque meorum
obliviscendus et illis.' Pray tell me what is going on in the way
of intriguery, and how the w----s and rogues of the upper Beggar's
Opera go on--or rather go off--in or after marriage; or who are
going to break any particular commandment. Upon this dreary coast,
we have nothing but county meetings and shipwrecks; and I have this
day dined upon fish, which probably dined upon the crews of several
colliers lost in the late gales. But I saw the sea once more in all
the glories of surf and foam,--almost equal to the Bay of Biscay,
and the interesting white squalls and short seas of Archipelago

"My papa, Sir Ralpho, hath recently made a speech at a Durham
tax-meeting; and not only at Durham, but here, several times since,
after dinner. He is now, I believe, speaking it to himself (I left
him in the middle) over various decanters, which can neither
interrupt him nor fall asleep,--as might possibly have been the
case with some of his audience. Ever thine, B.

"I must go to tea--damn tea. I wish it was Kinnaird's brandy, and
with you to lecture me about it."

[Footnote 66: It was thus that, according to his account, a certain celebrated singer and actor used frequently to pronounce the word "enthusiasm."]

* * * * *


"Seaham, Stockton-upon-Tees, February 2. 1815.

"You will oblige me very much by making an occasional enquiry at
Albany, at my chambers, whether my books, &c. are kept in tolerable
order, and how far my old woman[67] continues in health and
industry as keeper of my old den. Your parcels have been duly
received and perused; but I had hoped to receive 'Guy Mannering'
before this time. I won't intrude further for the present on your
avocations, professional or pleasurable, but am, as usual,

"Very truly," &c.

[Footnote 67: Mrs. Mule.]

* * * * *


"February 4. 1815.

"I enclose you half a letter from * *, which will explain
itself--at least the latter part--the former refers to private
business of mine own. If Jeffrey will take such an article, and you
will undertake the revision, or, indeed, any portion of the article
itself, (for unless _you do_, by Phoebus, I will have nothing to do
with it,) we can cook up, between us three, as pretty a dish of
sour-crout as ever tipped over the tongue of a bookmaker.

"You can, at any rate, try Jeffrey's inclination. Your late
proposal from him made me hint this to * *, who is a much better
proser and scholar than I am, and a very superior man indeed.
Excuse haste--answer this. Ever yours most,


"P.S. All is well at home. I wrote to you yesterday."

* * * * *


"February 10. 1815.

"My dear Tom,

"Jeffrey has been so very kind about me and my damnable works, that
I would not be indirect or equivocal with him, even for a friend.
So, it may be as well to tell him that it is not mine; but that if
I did not firmly and truly believe it to be much better than I
could offer, I would never have troubled him or you about it. You
can judge between you how far it is admissible, and reject it, if
not of the right sort. For my own part, I have no interest in the
article one way or the other, further than to oblige * *; and
should the composition be a good one, it can hurt neither
party,--nor, indeed, any one, saving and excepting Mr. * * * *.

"Curse catch me if I know what H * * means or meaned about the
demonstrative pronoun[68], but I admire your fear of being
inoculated with the same. Have you never found out that you have a
particular style of your own, which is as distinct from all other
people, as Hafiz of Shiraz from Hafiz of the Morning Post?

"So you allowed B * * and such like to hum and haw you, or, rather,
Lady J * * out of her compliment, and _me_ out of mine.[69]
Sun-burn me, but this was pitiful-hearted. However, I will tell her
all about it when I see her.

"Bell desires me to say all kinds of civilities, and assure you of
her recognition and high consideration. I will tell you of our
movements south, which may be in about three weeks from this
present writing. By the way, don't engage yourself in any
travelling expedition, as I have a plan of travel into Italy, which
we will discuss. And then, think of the poesy wherewithal we should
overflow, from Venice to Vesuvius, to say nothing of Greece,
through all which--God willing--we might perambulate in one twelve
months. If I take my wife, you can take yours; and if I leave mine,
you may do the same. 'Mind you stand by me in either case, Brother

"And believe me inveterately yours,


[Footnote 68: Some remark which he told me had been made with respect to the frequent use of the demonstrative pronoun both by himself and by Sir W. Scott.]

[Footnote 69: Verses to Lady J * * (containing an allusion to Lord Byron), which I had written, while at Chatsworth, but consigned afterwards to the flames.]

* * * * *


"February 22. 1815.

"Yesterday I sent off the packet and letter to Edinburgh. It
consisted of forty-one pages, so that I have not added a line; but
in my letter, I mentioned what passed between you and me in autumn,
as my inducement for presuming to trouble him either with my own or
* *'s lucubrations. I am any thing but sure that it will do; but I
have told J. that if there is any decent raw material in it, he may
cut it into what shape he pleases, and warp it to his liking.

"So you _won't_ go abroad, then, with _me_,--but alone. I fully
purpose starting much about the time you mention, and alone, too.

"I hope J. won't think me very impudent in sending * * only: there
was not room for a syllable. I have avowed * * as the author, and
said that you thought or said, when I met you last, that he (J.)
would not be angry at the coalition, (though, alas! we have not
coalesced,) and so, if I have got into a scrape, I must get out of
it--Heaven knows how.

"Your Anacreon[70] is come, and with it I sealed (its first
impression) the packet and epistle to our patron.

"Curse the Melodies and the Tribes, to boot,[71] Braham is to
assist--or hath assisted--but will do no more good than a second
physician. I merely interfered to oblige a whim of K.'s, and all I
have got by it was 'a speech' and a receipt for stewed oysters.

"'Not meet'--pray don't say so. We must meet somewhere or somehow.
Newstead is out of the question, being nearly sold again, or, if
not, it is uninhabitable for my spouse. Pray write again. I will

"P.S. Pray when do you come out? ever, or never? I hope I have made
no blunder; but I certainly think you said to me, (after W * * th,
whom I first pondered upon, was given up,) that * * and I might
attempt * * * *. His length alone prevented me from trying my part,
though I should have been less severe upon the Reviewée.

"Your seal is the best and prettiest of my set, and I thank you
very much therefor. I have just been--or rather, ought to be--very
much shocked by the death of the Duke of Dorset. We were at school
together, and there I was passionately attached to him. Since, we
have never met--but once, I think, since 1805--and it would be a
paltry affectation to pretend that I had any feeling for him worth
the name. But there was a time in my life when this event would
have broken my heart; and all I can say for it now is that--it is
not worth breaking.

"Adieu--it is all a farce."

[Footnote 70: A seal, with the head of Anacreon, which I had given him.]

[Footnote 71: I had taken the liberty of laughing a little at the manner in which some of his Hebrew Melodies had been set to music.]

* * * * *


"March 2. 1815.

"My dear Thom,

"Jeffrey has sent me the most friendly of all possible letters, and
has accepted * *'s article. He says he has long liked not only, &c.
&c. but my 'character.' This must be _your_ doing, you dog--ar'nt
you ashamed of yourself, knowing me so well? This is what one gets
for having you for a father confessor.

"I feel merry enough to send you a sad song.[72] You once asked me
for some words which you would set. Now you may set or not, as you
like,--but there they are, in a legible hand[73], and not in mine,
but of my own scribbling; so you may say of them what you please.
Why don't you write to me? I shall make you 'a speech'[74] if you
don't respond quickly.

"I am in such a state of sameness and stagnation, and so totally
occupied in consuming the fruits--and sauntering--and playing dull
games at cards--and yawning--and trying to read old Annual
Registers and the daily papers--and gathering shells on the
shore--and watching the growth of stunted gooseberry bushes in the
garden--that I have neither time nor sense to say more than yours
ever, B.

"P.S. I open my letter again to put a question to you. What would
Lady C----k, or any other fashionable Pidcock, give to collect you
and Jeffrey and me to _one_ party? I have been answering his
letter, which suggested this dainty query. I can't help laughing at
the thoughts of your face and mine; and our anxiety to keep the
Aristarch in good humour during the _early_ part of a compotation,
till we got drunk enough to make him 'a speech.' I think the critic
would have much the best of us--of one, at least--for I don't think
diffidence (I mean social) is a disease of yours."

[Footnote 72: The verses enclosed were those melancholy ones, now printed in his works, "There's not a joy the world can give like those it takes away."]

[Footnote 73: The MS. was in the handwriting of Lady Byron.]

[Footnote 74: These allusions to "a speech" are connected with a little incident, not worth mentioning, which had amused us both when I was in town. He was rather fond (and had been always so, as may be seen in his early letters,) of thus harping on some conventional phrase or joke.]

* * * * *


"March 8. 1815.

"An event--the death of poor Dorset--and the recollection of what I
once felt, and ought to have felt now, but could not--set me
pondering, and finally into the train of thought which you have in
your hands. I am very glad you like them, for I flatter myself they
will pass as an imitation of your style. If I could imitate it
well, I should have no great ambition of originality--I wish I
could make you exclaim with Dennis, 'That's my thunder, by G----d!'
I wrote them with a view to your setting them, and as a present to
Power, if he would accept the words, and _you_ did not think
yourself degraded, for once in a way, by marrying them to music.

"Sun-burn N * *!--why do you always twit me with his vile Ebrew
nasalities? Have I not told you it was all K.'s doing, and my own
exquisite facility of temper? But thou wilt be a wag, Thomas; and
see what you get for it. Now for my revenge.

"Depend--and perpend--upon it that your opinion of * *'s poem will
travel through one or other of the quintuple correspondents, till
it reaches the ear, and the liver of the author.[75] Your
adventure, however, is truly laughable--but how could you be such
a potatoe? You 'a brother' (of the quill) too, 'near the throne,'
to confide to a man's _own publisher_ (who has 'bought,' or rather
sold, 'golden opinions' about him) such a damnatory parenthesis!
'Between you and me,' quotha--it reminds me of a passage in the
Heir at Law--'Tête-a-tête with Lady Duberly, I
suppose.'--'No--tête-a-tête with _five hundred people_;' and your
confidential communication will doubtless be in circulation to that
amount, in a short time, with several additions, and in several
letters, all signed L.H.R.O.B., &c. &c. &c.

"We leave this place to-morrow, and shall stop on our way to town
(in the interval of taking a house there) at Col. Leigh's, near
Newmarket, where any epistle of yours will find its welcome way.

"I have been very comfortable here,--listening to that d----d
monologue, which elderly gentlemen call conversation, and in which
my pious father-in-law repeats himself every evening--save one,
when he played upon the fiddle. However, they have been very kind
and hospitable, and I like them and the place vastly, and I hope
they will live many happy months. Bell is in health, and unvaried
good-humour and behaviour. But we are all in the agonies of
packing and parting; and I suppose by this time to-morrow I shall
be stuck in the chariot with my chin upon a band-box. I have
prepared, however, another carriage for the abigail, and all the
trumpery which our wives drag along with them.

"Ever thine, most affectionately,


[Footnote 75: He here alludes to a circumstance which I had communicated to him in a preceding letter. In writing to one of the numerous partners of a well-known publishing establishment (with which I have since been lucky enough to form a more intimate connection), I had said confidentially (as I thought), in reference to a poem that had just appeared,--"Between you and me, I do not much admire Mr. * *'s poem." The letter being chiefly upon business, was answered through the regular business channel, and, to my dismay, concluded with the following words:--"_We_ are very sorry that you do not approve of Mr. * *'s new poem, and are your obedient, &c. &c. L.H.R.O., &c. &c."]

* * * * *


"March 17. 1815.

"I meaned to write to you before on the subject of your loss[76];
but the recollection of the uselessness and worthlessness of any
observations on such events prevented me. I shall only now add,
that I rejoice to see you bear it so well, and that I trust time
will enable Mrs. M. to sustain it better. Every thing should be
done to divert and occupy her with other thoughts and cares, and I
am sure that all that can be done will.

"Now to your letter. Napoleon--but the papers will have told you
all. I quite think with you upon the subject, and for my _real_
thoughts this time last year, I would refer you to the last pages
of the Journal I gave you. I can forgive the rogue for utterly
falsifying every line of mine Ode--which I take to be the last and
uttermost stretch of human magnanimity. Do you remember the story
of a certain Abbé, who wrote a treatise on the Swedish
Constitution, and proved it indissoluble and eternal? Just as he
had corrected the last sheet, news came that Gustavus III. had
destroyed this immortal government. 'Sir,' quoth the Abbé, 'the
King of Sweden may overthrow the _constitution_, but not _my
book_!!' I think _of_ the Abbé, but not _with_ him.

"Making every allowance for talent and most consummate daring,
there is, after all, a good deal in luck or destiny. He might have
been stopped by our frigates--or wrecked in the Gulf of Lyons,
which is particularly tempestuous--or--a thousand things. But he is
certainly Fortune's favourite, and

Once fairly set out on his party of pleasure,
Taking towns at his liking and crowns at his leisure,
From Elba to Lyons and Paris he goes,
Making _balls for_ the ladies, and _bows_ to his foes.

You must have seen the account of his driving into the middle of
the royal army, and the immediate effect of his pretty speeches.
And now if he don't drub the allies, there is 'no purchase in
money.' If he can take France by himself, the devil's in 't if he
don't repulse the invaders, when backed by those celebrated
sworders--those boys of the blade, the Imperial Guard, and the old
and new army. It is impossible not to be dazzled and overwhelmed by
his character and career. Nothing ever so disappointed me as his
abdication, and nothing could have reconciled me to him but some
such revival as his recent exploit; though no one could anticipate
such a complete and brilliant renovation.

"To your question, I can only answer that there have been some
symptoms which look a little gestatory. It is a subject upon which
I am not particularly anxious, except that I think it would please
her uncle, Lord Wentworth, and her father and mother. The former
(Lord W.) is now in town, and in very indifferent health. You,
perhaps, know that his property, amounting to seven or eight
thousand a year, will eventually devolve upon Bell. But the old
gentleman has been so very kind to her and me, that I hardly know
how to wish him in heaven, if he can be comfortable on earth. Her
father is still in the country.

"We mean to metropolise to-morrow, and you will address your next
to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon's house there, she
being in France.

"I don't care what Power says to secure the property of the Song,
so that it is _not_ complimentary to me, nor any thing about
'condescending' or '_noble_ author'--both 'vile phrases,' as
Polonius says.

"Pray, let me hear from you, and when you mean to be in town. Your
continental scheme is impracticable for the present. I have to
thank you for a longer letter than usual, which I hope will induce
you to tax my gratitude still further in the same way.

"You never told me about 'Longman' and 'next winter,' and I am
_not_ a 'mile-stone.'"[77]

[Footnote 76: The death of his infant god-daughter, Olivia Byron Moore.]

[Footnote 77: I had accused him of having entirely forgot that, in a preceding letter, I had informed him of my intention to publish with the Messrs. Longman in the ensuing winter, and added that, in giving him this information, I found I had been--to use an elegant Irish metaphor--"whistling jigs to a mile-stone."]

* * * * *


"Piccadilly, March 31. 1815.

"Dear Sir,

"It will give me great pleasure to comply with your request, though
I hope there is still taste enough left amongst us to render it
almost unnecessary, sordid and interested as, it must be admitted,
many of 'the trade' are, where circumstances give them an
advantage. I trust you do not permit yourself to be depressed by
the temporary partiality of what is called 'the public' for the
favourites of the moment; all experience is against the permanency
of such impressions. You must have lived to see many of these pass
away, and will survive many more--I mean personally, for
_poetically_, I would not insult you by a comparison.

"If I may be permitted, I would suggest that there never was such
an opening for tragedy. In Kean, there is an actor worthy of
expressing the thoughts of the characters which you have every
power of embodying; and I cannot but regret that the part of
Ordonio was disposed of before his appearance at Drury Lane. We
have had nothing to be mentioned in the same breath with 'Remorse'
for very many years; and I should think that the reception of that
play was sufficient to encourage the highest hopes of author and
audience. It is to be hoped that you are proceeding in a career
which could not but be successful. With my best respects to Mr.
Bowles, I have the honour to be

"Your obliged and very obedient servant,


"P.S. You mention my 'Satire,' lampoon, or whatever you or others
please to call it. I can only say, that it was written when I was
very young and very angry, and has been a thorn in my side ever
since; more particularly as almost all the persons animadverted
upon became subsequently my acquaintances, and some of them my
friends, which is 'heaping fire upon an enemy's head,' and
forgiving me too readily to permit me to forgive myself. The part
applied to you is pert, and petulant, and shallow enough; but,
although I have long done every thing in my power to suppress the
circulation of the whole thing, I shall always regret the
wantonness or generality of many of its attempted attacks."

* * * * *

It was in the course of this spring that Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott became, for the first time, personally acquainted with each other. Mr. Murray, having been previously on a visit to the latter gentleman, had been intrusted by him with a superb Turkish dagger as a present to Lord Byron; and the noble poet, on their meeting this year in London,--the only time when these two great men had ever an opportunity of enjoying each other's society,--presented to Sir Walter, in return, a vase containing some human bones that had been dug up from under a part of the old walls of Athens. The reader, however, will be much better pleased to have these particulars in the words of Sir Walter Scott himself, who, with that good-nature which renders him no less amiable than he is admirable, has found time, in the midst of all his marvellous labours for the world, to favour me with the following interesting communication:[78]--

"My first acquaintance with Byron began in a manner rather doubtful. I was so far from having any thing to do with the offensive criticism in the Edinburgh, that I remember remonstrating against it with our friend, the editor, because I thought the 'Hours of Idleness' treated with undue severity. They were written, like all juvenile poetry, rather from the recollection of what had pleased the author in others than what had been suggested by his own imagination; but, nevertheless, I thought they contained some passages of noble promise. I was so much impressed with this, that I had thoughts of writing to the author; but some exaggerated reports concerning his peculiarities, and a natural unwillingness to intrude an opinion which was uncalled for, induced me to relinquish the idea.

"When Byron wrote his famous Satire, I had my share of flagellation among my betters. My crime was having written a poem (Marmion, I think) for a thousand pounds; which was no otherwise true than that I sold the copy-right for that sum. Now, not to mention that an author can hardly be censured for accepting such a sum as the booksellers are willing to give him, especially as the gentlemen of the trade made no complaints of their bargain, I thought the interference with my private affairs was rather beyond the limits of literary satire. On the other hand, Lord Byron paid me, in several passages, so much more praise than I deserved, that I must have been more irritable than I have ever felt upon such subjects, not to sit down contented, and think no more about the matter.

"I was very much struck, with all the rest of the world, at the vigour and force of imagination displayed in the first Cantos of Childe Harold, and the other splendid productions which Lord Byron flung from him to the public with a promptitude that savoured of profusion. My own popularity, as a poet, was then on the wane, and I was unaffectedly pleased to see an author of so much power and energy taking the field. Mr. John Murray happened to be in Scotland that season, and as I mentioned to him the pleasure I should have in making Lord Byron's acquaintance, he had the kindness to mention my wish to his Lordship, which led to some correspondence.

"It was in the spring of 1815 that, chancing to be in London, I had the advantage of a personal introduction to Lord Byron. Report had prepared me to meet a man of peculiar habits and a quick temper, and I had some doubts whether we were likely to suit each other in society. I was most agreeably disappointed in this respect. I found Lord Byron in the highest degree courteous, and even kind. We met, for an hour or two almost daily, in Mr. Murray's drawing-room, and found a great deal to say to each other. We also met frequently in parties and evening society, so that for about two months I had the advantage of a considerable intimacy with this distinguished individual. Our sentiments agreed a good deal, except upon the subjects of religion and politics, upon neither of which I was inclined to believe that Lord Byron entertained very fixed opinions. I remember saying to him, that I really thought, that if he lived a few years he would alter his sentiments. He answered, rather sharply, 'I suppose you are one of those who prophesy I will turn Methodist.' I replied, 'No--I don't expect your conversion to be of such an ordinary kind. I would rather look to see you retreat upon the Catholic faith, and distinguish yourself by the austerity of your penances. The species of religion to which you must, or may, one day attach yourself must exercise a strong power on the imagination.' He smiled gravely, and seemed to allow I might be right.

"On politics, he used sometimes to express a high strain of what is now called Liberalism; but it appeared to me that the pleasure it afforded him as a vehicle of displaying his wit and satire against individuals in office was at the bottom of this habit of thinking, rather than any real conviction of the political principles on which he talked. He was certainly proud of his rank and ancient family, and, in that respect, as much an aristocrat as was consistent with good sense and good breeding. Some disgusts, how adopted I know not, seemed to me to have given this peculiar and, as it appeared to me, contradictory cast of mind: but, at heart, I would have termed Byron a patrician on principle.

"Lord Byron's reading did not seem to me to have been very extensive either in poetry or history. Having the advantage of him in that respect, and possessing a good competent share of such reading as is little read, I was sometimes able to put under his eye objects which had for him the interest of novelty. I remember particularly repeating to him the fine poem of Hardyknute, an imitation of the old Scottish Ballad, with which he was so much affected, that some one who was in the same apartment asked me what I could possibly have been telling Byron by which he was so much agitated.

I saw Byron, for the last time, in 1815, after I returned from France. He dined, or lunched, with me at Long's in Bond Street. I never saw him so full of gaiety and good-humour, to which the presence of Mr. Mathews, the comedian, added not a little. Poor Terry was also present. After one of the gayest parties I ever was present at, my fellow-traveller, Mr. Scott, of Gala, and I set off for Scotland, and I never saw Lord Byron again. Several letters passed between us--one perhaps every half year. Like the old heroes in Homer, we exchanged gifts:--I gave Byron a beautiful dagger mounted with gold, which had been the property of the redoubted Elfi Bey. But I was to play the part of Diomed, in the Iliad, for Byron sent me, some time after, a large sepulchral vase of silver. It was full of dead men's bones, and had inscriptions on two sides of the base. One ran thus:--'The bones contained in this urn were found in certain ancient sepulchres within the land walls of Athens, in the month of February, 1811.' The other face bears the lines of Juvenal:

"Expende--quot libras in duce summo invenies.
--Mors sola fatetur quantula hominum corpuscula."
Juv. x.

To these I have added a third inscription, in these words--'The gift of Lord Byron to Walter Scott.'[79] There was a letter with this vase more valuable to me than the gift itself, from the kindness with which the donor expressed himself towards me. I left it naturally in the urn with the bones,--but it is now missing. As the theft was not of a nature to be practised by a mere domestic, I am compelled to suspect the inhospitality of some individual of higher station,--most gratuitously exercised certainly, since, after what I have here said, no one will probably choose to boast of possessing this literary curiosity.

"We had a good deal of laughing, I remember, on what the public might be supposed to think, or say, concerning the gloomy and ominous nature of our mutual gifts.

"I think I can add little more to my recollections of Byron. He was often melancholy,--almost gloomy. When I observed him in this humour, I used either to wait till it went off of its own accord, or till some natural and easy mode occurred of leading him into conversation, when the shadows almost always left his countenance, like the mist rising from a landscape. In conversation he was very animated.

"I met with him very frequently in society; our mutual acquaintances doing me the honour to think that he liked to meet with me. Some very agreeable parties I can recollect,--particularly one at Sir George Beaumont's, where the amiable landlord had assembled some persons distinguished for talent. Of these I need only mention the late Sir Humphry Davy, whose talents for literature were as remarkable as his empire over science. Mr. Richard Sharpe and Mr. Rogers were also present.

"I think I also remarked in Byron's temper starts of suspicion, when he seemed to pause and consider whether there had not been a secret, and perhaps offensive, meaning in something casually said to him. In this case, I also judged it best to let his mind, like a troubled spring, work itself clear, which it did in a minute or two. I was considerably older, you will recollect, than my noble friend, and had no reason to fear his misconstruing my sentiments towards him, nor had I ever the slightest reason to doubt that they were kindly returned on his part. If I had occasion to be mortified by the display of genius which threw into the shade such pretensions as I was then supposed to possess, I might console myself that, in my own case, the materials of mental happiness had been mingled in a greater proportion.

"I rummage my brains in vain for what often rushes into my head unbidden,--little traits and sayings which recall his looks, manner, tone, and gestures; and I have always continued to think that a crisis of life was arrived in which a new career of fame was opened to him, and that had he been permitted to start upon it, he would have obliterated the memory of such parts of his life as friends would wish to forget."

[Footnote 78: A few passages at the beginning of these recollections have been omitted, as containing particulars relative to Lord Byron's mother, which have already been mentioned in the early part of this work. Among these, however, there is one anecdote, the repetition of which will be easily pardoned, on account of the infinitely greater interest as well as authenticity imparted to its details by coming from such an eye-witness as Sir Walter Scott:--"I remember," he says, "having seen Lord Byron's mother before she was married, and a certain coincidence rendered the circumstance rather remarkable. It was during Mrs. Siddons's first or second visit to Edinburgh, when the music of that wonderful actress's voice, looks, manner, and person, produced the strongest effect which could possibly be exerted by a human being upon her fellow-creatures. Nothing of the kind that I ever witnessed approached it by a hundred degrees. The high state of excitation was aided by the difficulties of obtaining entrance and the exhausting length of time that the audience were contented to wait until the piece commenced. When the curtain fell, a large proportion of the ladies were generally in hysterics.

"I remember Miss Gordon of Ghight, in particular, harrowing the house by the desperate and wild way in which she shrieked out Mrs. Siddons's exclamation, in the character of Isabella, 'Oh my Byron! Oh my Byron!' A well-known medical gentleman, the benevolent Dr. Alexander Wood, tendered his assistance; but the thick-pressed audience could not for a long time make way for the doctor to approach his patient, or the patient the physician. The remarkable circumstance was, that the lady had not then seen Captain Byron, who, like Sir Toby, made her conclude with 'Oh!' as she had begun with it."]

[Footnote 79: Mr. Murray had, at the time of giving the vase, suggested to Lord Byron, that it would increase the value of the gift to add some such inscription; but the feeling of the noble poet on this subject will be understood from the following answer which he returned:--

"April 9. 1815.

"Thanks for the books. I have great objection to your proposition
about inscribing the vase,--which is, that it would appear
_ostentatious_ on my part; and of course I must send it as it is,
without any alteration.

"Yours," &c. ]

* * * * *


"April 23. 1815.

"Lord Wentworth died last week. The bulk of his property (from
seven to eight thousand per ann.) is entailed on Lady Milbanke and
Lady Byron. The first is gone to take possession in Leicestershire,
and attend the funeral, &c. this day.

"I have mentioned the facts of the settlement of Lord W.'s
property, because the newspapers, with their usual accuracy, have
been making all kinds of blunders in their statement. His will is
just as expected--the principal part settled on Lady Milbanke (now
Noel) and Bell, and a separate estate left for sale to pay debts
(which are not great) and legacies to his natural son and daughter.

Mrs. * *'s tragedy was last night damned. They may bring it on
again, and probably will; but damned it was,--not a word of the
last act audible. I went (_malgré_ that I ought to have stayed at
home in sackcloth for unc., but I could not resist the _first_
night of any thing) to a private and quiet nook of my private box,
and witnessed the whole process. The first three acts, with
transient gushes of applause, oozed patiently but heavily on. I
must say it was badly acted, particularly by * *, who was groaned
upon in the third act,--something about 'horror--such a horror' was
the cause. Well, the fourth act became as muddy and turbid as need
be; but the fifth--what Garrick used to call (like a fool) the
_concoction_ of a play--the fifth act stuck fast at the King's
prayer. You know he says, 'he never went to bed without saying
them, and did not like to omit them now.' But he was no sooner upon
his knees, than the audience got upon their legs--the damnable
pit--and roared, and groaned, and hissed, and whistled. Well, that
was choked a little; but the ruffian-scene--the penitent
peasantry--and killing the Bishop and Princes--oh, it was all over.
The curtain fell upon unheard actors, and the announcement
attempted by Kean for Monday was equally ineffectual. Mrs. Bartley
was so frightened, that, though the people were tolerably quiet,
the epilogue was quite inaudible to half the house. In short,--you
know all. I clapped till my hands were skinless, and so did Sir
James Mackintosh, who was with me in the box. All the world were in
the house, from the Jerseys, Greys, &c. &c. downwards. But it would
not do. It is, after all, not an _acting_ play; good language, but
no power. * * * Women (saving Joanna Baillie) cannot write tragedy:
they have not seen enough nor felt enough of life for it. I think
Semiramis or Catherine II. might have written (could they have been
unqueened) a rare play.

"It is, however, a good warning not to risk or write tragedies. I
never had much bent that way; but if I had, this would have cured

"Ever, carissime Thom.,

"Thine, B."

* * * * *


"May 21. 1815.

"You must have thought it very odd, not to say ungrateful, that I
made no mention of the drawings[80], &c. when I had the pleasure of
seeing you this morning. The fact is, that till this moment I had
not seen them, nor heard of their arrival: they were carried up
into the library, where I have not been till just now, and no
intimation given to me of their coming. The present is so very
magnificent, that--in short, I leave Lady Byron to thank you for it
herself, and merely send this to apologise for a piece of apparent
and unintentional neglect on my own part. Yours," &c.

[Footnote 80: Mr. Murray had presented Lady Byron with twelve drawings, by Stothard, from Lord Byron's Poems.]

* * * * *


"13. Piccadilly Terrace, June 12. 1815.

"I have nothing to offer in behalf of my late silence, except the
most inveterate and ineffable laziness; but I am too supine to
invent a lie, or I _certainly_ should, being ashamed of the truth.
K * *, I hope, has appeased your magnanimous indignation at his
blunders. I wished and wish you were in the Committee, with all my
heart.[82] It seems so hopeless a business, that the company of a
friend would be quite consoling,--but more of this when we meet.
In the mean time, you are entreated to prevail upon Mrs. Esterre to
engage herself. I believe she has been written to, but your
influence, in person or proxy, would probably go further than our
proposals. What they are, I know not; all _my_ new function
consists in listening to the despair of Cavendish Bradshaw, the
hopes of Kinnaird, the wishes of Lord Essex, the complaints of
Whitbread, and the calculations of Peter Moore,--all of which, and
whom, seem totally at variance. C. Bradshaw wants to light the
theatre with _gas_, which may, perhaps (if the vulgar be believed),
poison half the audience, and all the _dramatis personæ_. Essex has
endeavoured to persuade K * * not to get drunk, the consequence of
which is, that he has never been sober since. Kinnaird, with equal
success, would have convinced Raymond, that he, the said Raymond,
had too much salary. Whitbread wants us to assess the pit another
sixpence,--a d----d insidious proposition,--which will end in an
O.P. combustion. To crown all, R * *, the auctioneer, has the
impudence to be displeased, because he has no dividend. The villain
is a proprietor of shares, and a long lunged orator in the
meetings. I hear he has prophesied our incapacity,--'a foregone
conclusion,' whereof I hope to give him signal proofs before we
are done.

"Will you give us an opera? No, I'll be sworn; but I wish you

"To go on with the poetical world, Walter Scott has gone back to
Scotland. Murray, the bookseller, has been cruelly cudgelled of
misbegotten knaves, 'in Kendal green,' at Newington Butts, in his
way home from a purlieu dinner,--and robbed--would you believe
it?--of three or four bonds of forty pound a piece, and a seal-ring
of his grandfather's, worth a million! This is his version,--but
others opine that D'Israeli, with whom he dined, knocked him down
with his last publication, 'The Quarrels of Authors,' in a dispute
about copyright. Be that as it may, the newspapers have teemed with
his 'injuria formæ,' and he has been embrocated, and invisible to
all but the apothecary ever since.

"Lady B. is better than three months advanced in her progress
towards maternity, and, we hope, likely to go well through with it.
We have been very little out this season, as I wish to keep her
quiet in her present situation. Her father and mother have changed
their names to Noel, in compliance with Lord Wentworth's will, and
in complaisance to the property bequeathed by him.

"I hear that you have been gloriously received by the Irish,--and
so you ought. But don't let them kill you with claret and kindness
at the national dinner in your honour, which, I hear and hope, is
in contemplation. If you will tell me the day, I'll get drunk
myself on this side of the water, and waft you an applauding hiccup
over the Channel.

"Of politics, we have nothing but the yell for war; and C * * h is
preparing his head for the pike, on which we shall see it carried
before he has done. The loan has made every body sulky. I hear
often from Paris, but in direct contradiction to the home
statements of our hirelings. Of domestic doings, there has been
nothing since Lady D * *. Not a divorce stirring,--but a good many
in embryo, in the shape of marriages.

"I enclose you an epistle received this morning from I know not
whom; but I think it will amuse you. The writer must be a rare

"P.S. A gentleman named D'Alton (not your Dalton) has sent me a
National Poem called 'Dermid.' The same cause which prevented my
writing to you operated against my wish to write to him an epistle
of thanks. If you see him, will you make all kinds of fine speeches
for me, and tell him that I am the laziest and most ungrateful of

"A word more;--don't let Sir John Stevenson (as an evidence on
trials for copy-right, &c.) talk about the price of your next poem,
or they will come upon you for the _property tax_ for it. I am
serious, and have just heard a long story of the rascally tax-men
making Scott pay for his. So, take care. Three hundred is a devil
of a deduction out of three thousand."

[Footnote 81: This and the following letter were addressed to me in Ireland, whither I had gone about the middle of the preceding month.]

[Footnote 82: He had lately become one of the members of the Sub-Committee, (consisting, besides himself, of the persons mentioned in this letter,) who had taken upon themselves the management of Drury Lane Theatre; and it had been his wish, on the first construction of the Committee, that I should be one of his colleagues. To some mistake in the mode of conveying this proposal to me, he alludes in the preceding sentence.]

[Footnote 83: The following is the enclosure here referred to:--

"Darlington, June 3. 1815.

"My Lord,

"I have lately purchased a set of your works, and am quite vexed
that you have not cancelled the Ode to Buonaparte. It certainly was
prematurely written, without thought or reflection. Providence has
now brought him to reign over millions again, while the same
Providence keeps as it were in a garrison another potentate, who,
in the language of Mr. Burke, 'he hurled from his throne.' See if
you cannot make amends for your folly, and consider that, in almost
every respect, human nature is the same, in every clime and in
every period, and don't act the part of a _foolish boy_.--Let not
Englishmen talk of the stretch of tyrants, while the torrents of
blood shed in the East Indies cry aloud to Heaven for retaliation.
Learn, good sir, not to cast the first stone. I remain your
Lordship's servant,

"J. R * *." ]

* * * * *


"July 7. 1815.

"'Grata superveniet,' &c. &c. I had written to you again, but burnt
the letter, because I began to think you seriously hurt at my
indolence, and did not know how the buffoonery it contained might
be taken. In the mean time, I have yours, and all is well.

"I had given over all hopes of yours. By-the-by, my 'grata
superveniet' should be in the present tense; for I perceive it
looks now as if it applied to this present scrawl reaching you,
whereas it is to the receipt of thy Kilkenny epistle that I have
tacked that venerable sentiment.

"Poor Whitbread died yesterday morning,--a sudden and severe loss.
His health had been wavering, but so fatal an attack was not
apprehended. He dropped down, and I believe never spoke
afterwards. I perceive Perry attributes his death to Drury Lane,--a
consolatory encouragement to the new Committee. I have no doubt
that * *, who is of a plethoric habit, will be bled immediately;
and as I have, since my marriage, lost much of my paleness,
and--'horresco referens' (for I hate even _moderate_ fat)--that
happy slenderness, to which, when I first knew you, I had attained,
I by no means sit easy under this dispensation of the Morning
Chronicle. Every one must regret the loss of Whitbread; he was
surely a great and very good man.

"Paris is taken for the second time. I presume it, for the future,
will have an anniversary capture. In the late battles, like all the
world, I have lost a connection,--poor Frederick Howard, the best
of his race. I had little intercourse, of late years, with his
family, but I never saw or heard but good of him. Hobhouse's
brother is killed. In short, the havoc has not left a family out of
its tender mercies.

"Every hope of a republic is over, and we must go on under the old
system. But I am sick at heart of politics and slaughters; and the
luck which Providence is pleased to lavish on Lord Castlereagh is
only a proof of the little value the gods set upon prosperity, when
they permit such * * * s as he and that drunken corporal, old
Blucher, to bully their betters. From this, however, Wellington
should be excepted. He is a man,--and the Scipio of our Hannibal.
However, he may thank the Russian frosts, which destroyed the
_real élite_ of the French army, for the successes of Waterloo.

"La! Moore--how you blasphemes about 'Parnassus' and 'Moses!' I am
ashamed for you. Won't you do any thing for the drama? We beseech
an Opera. Kinnaird's blunder was partly mine. I wanted you of all
things in the Committee, and so did he. But we are now glad you
were wiser; for it is, I doubt, a bitter business.

"When shall we see you in England? Sir Ralph Noel (_late_
Milbanke--he don't promise to be _late_ Noel in a hurry), finding
that one man can't inhabit two houses, has given his place in the
north to me for a habitation; and there Lady B. threatens to be
brought to bed in November. Sir R. and my Lady Mother are to
quarter at Kirby--Lord Wentworth's that was. Perhaps you and Mrs.
Moore will pay us a visit at Seaham in the course of the autumn. If
so, you and I (_without_ our _wives_) will take a lark to Edinburgh
and embrace Jeffrey. It is not much above one hundred miles from
us. But all this, and other high matters, we will discuss at
meeting, which I hope will be on your return. We don't leave town
till August.

"Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"Sept. 15. 1815. Piccadilly Terrace.

"Dear Sir,

"'Ivan' is accepted, and will be put in progress on Kean's arrival.

"The theatrical gentlemen have a confident hope of its success. I
know not that any alterations for the stage will be necessary; if
any, they will be trifling, and you shall be duly apprised. I would
suggest that you should not attend any except the latter
rehearsals--the managers have requested me to state this to you.
You can see them, viz. Dibdin and Rae, whenever you please, and I
will do any thing you wish to be done on your suggestion, in the
mean time.

"Mrs. Mardyn is not yet out, and nothing can be determined till she
has made her appearance--I mean as to her capacity for the part you
mention, which I take it for granted is not in Ivan--as I think
Ivan may be performed very well without her. But of that hereafter.
Ever yours, very truly,


"P.S. You will be glad to hear that the season has begun uncommonly
well--great and constant houses--the performers in much harmony
with the Committee and one another, and as much good-humour as can
be preserved in such complicated and extensive interests as the
Drury Lane proprietary."

* * * * *


"September 25. 1815.

"Dear Sir,

"I think it would be advisable for you to see the acting managers
when convenient, as there must be points on which you will want to
confer; the objection I stated was merely on the part of the
performers, and is _general_ and not _particular_ to this instance.
I thought it as well to mention it at once--and some of the
rehearsals you will doubtless see, notwithstanding.

"Rae, I rather think, has his eye on Naritzin for himself. He is a
more popular performer than Bartley, and certainly the cast will be
stronger with him in it; besides, he is one of the managers, and
will feel doubly interested if he can act in both capacities. Mrs.
Bartley will be Petrowna;--as to the Empress, I know not what to
say or think. The truth is, we are not amply furnished with tragic
women; but make the best of those we have,--you can take your
choice of them. We have all great hopes of the success--on which,
setting aside other considerations, we are particularly anxious, as
being the first tragedy to be brought out since the old Committee.

"By the way--I have a charge against you. As the great Mr. Dennis
roared out on a similar occasion--'By G----d, _that_ is _my_
thunder!' so do I exclaim, '_This_ is _my_ lightning!' I allude to
a speech of Ivan's, in the scene with Petrowna and the Empress,
where the thought and almost expression are similar to Conrad's in
the 3d Canto of 'The Corsair.' I, however, do not say this to
accuse you, but to exempt myself from suspicion[84], as there is a
priority of six months' publication, on my part, between the
appearance of that composition and of your tragedies.

"George Lambe meant to have written to you. If you don't like to
confer with the managers at present, I will attend to your
wishes--so state them. Yours very truly, BYRON."

[Footnote 84: Notwithstanding this precaution of the poet, the coincidence in question was, but a few years after, triumphantly cited in support of the sweeping charge of plagiarism brought against him by some scribblers. The following are Mr. Sotheby's lines:--

"And I have leapt
In transport from my flinty couch, to welcome
The thunder as it burst upon my roof,
And beckon'd to the lightning, as it flash'd
And sparkled on these fetters."

I have since been informed by Mr. Sotheby that, though not published, these lines had been written long before the appearance of Lord Byron's poem.]

* * * * *


"13. Terrace, Piccadilly, September 25. 1815.

"Dear Sir,

"I am sorry you should feel uneasy at what has by no means troubled
me.[85] If your editor, his correspondents, and readers, are
amused, I have no objection to be the theme of all the ballads he
can find room for,--provided his lucubrations are confined to _me_

"It is a long time since things of this kind have ceased to 'fright
me from my propriety;' nor do I know any similar attack which would
induce me to turn again,--unless it involved those connected with
me, whose qualities, I hope, are such as to exempt them in the eyes
of those who bear no good-will to myself. In such a case, supposing
it to occur--to _reverse_ the saying of Dr. Johnson,--'what the law
could not do for me, I would do for myself,' be the consequences
what they might.

"I return you, with many thanks, Colman and the letters. The poems,
I hope, you intended me to keep;--at least, I shall do so, till I
hear the contrary. Very truly yours."

[Footnote 85: Mr. Taylor having inserted in the Sun newspaper (of which he was then chief proprietor) a sonnet to Lord Byron, in return for a present which his Lordship had sent him of a handsomely bound copy of all his works, there appeared in the same journal, on the following day (from the pen of some person who had acquired a control over the paper), a parody upon this sonnet, containing some disrespectful allusion to Lady Byron; and it is to this circumstance, which Mr. Taylor had written to explain, that the above letter, so creditable to the feelings of the noble husband, refers.]

* * * * *


"Sept. 25. 1815.

"Will you publish the Drury Lane 'Magpie?' or, what is more, will
you give fifty, or even forty, pounds for the copyright of the
said? I have undertaken to ask you this question on behalf of the
translator, and wish you would. We can't get so much for him by ten
pounds from any body else, and I, knowing your magnificence, would
be glad of an answer. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"September 27. 1815.

"That's right and splendid, and becoming a publisher of high
degree. Mr. Concanen (the translator) will be delighted, and pay
his washerwoman; and, in reward for your bountiful behaviour in
this instance, I won't ask you to publish any more for Drury Lane,
or any lane whatever, again. You will have no tragedy or any thing
else from me, I assure you, and may think yourself lucky in having
got rid of me, for good and all, without more damage. But I'll tell
you what we will do for you,--act Sotheby's Ivan, which will
succeed; and then your present and next impression of the dramas of
that dramatic gentleman will be expedited to your heart's content;
and if there is any thing very good, you shall have the refusal;
but you sha'n't have any more requests.

"Sotheby has got a thought, and almost the words, from the third
Canto of The Corsair, which, you know, was published six months
before his tragedy. It is from the storm in Conrad's cell. I have
written to Mr. Sotheby to claim it; and, as Dennis roared out of
the pit, 'By G----d, _that's my_ thunder!' so do I, and will I,
exclaim, 'By G----d that's _my lightning_!' that electrical fluid
being, in fact, the subject of the said passage.

"You will have a print of Fanny Kelly, in the Maid, to prefix,
which is honestly worth twice the money you have given for the MS.
Pray what did you do with the note I gave you about Mungo Park?

"Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"13. Terrace, Piccadilly, October 28. 1815.

"You are, it seems, in England again, as I am to hear from every
body but yourself; and I suppose you punctilious, because I did
not answer your last Irish letter. When did you leave the 'swate
country?' Never mind, I forgive you;--a strong proof of--I know not
what--to give the lie to--

'He never pardons who hath done the wrong.'

"You have written to * *. You have also written to Perry, who
intimates hope of an Opera from you. Coleridge has promised a
Tragedy. Now, if you keep Perry's word, and Coleridge keeps his
own, Drury Lane will be set up; and, sooth to say, it is in
grievous want of such a lift. We began at speed, and are blown
already. When I say 'we,' I mean Kinnaird, who is the 'all in all
sufficient,' and can count, which none of the rest of the Committee

"It is really very good fun, as far as the daily and nightly stir
of these strutters and fretters go; and, if the concern could be
brought to pay a shilling in the pound, would do much credit to the
management. Mr. ---- has an accepted tragedy * * * * *, whose first
scene is in his sleep (I don't mean the author's). It was forwarded
to us as a prodigious favourite of Kean's; but the said Kean, upon
interrogation, denies his eulogy, and protests against his part.
How it will end, I know not.

"I say so much about the theatre, because there is nothing else
alive in London at this season. All the world are out of it, except
us, who remain to lie in,--in December, or perhaps earlier. Lady B.
is very ponderous and prosperous, apparently, and I wish it well

"There is a play before me from a personage who signs himself
'Hibernicus.' The hero is Malachi, the Irishman and king; and the
villain and usurper, Turgesius, the Dane. The conclusion is fine.
Turgesius is chained by the leg (_vide_ stage direction) to a
pillar on the stage; and King Malachi makes him a speech, not
unlike Lord Castlereagh's about the balance of power and the
lawfulness of legitimacy, which puts Turgesius into a frenzy--as
Castlereagh's would, if his audience was chained by the leg. He
draws a dagger and rushes at the orator; but, finding himself at
the end of his tether, he sticks it into his own carcass, and dies,
saying, he has fulfilled a prophecy.

"Now, this is _serious downright matter of fact_, and the gravest
part of a tragedy which is not intended for burlesque. I tell it
you for the honour of Ireland. The writer hopes it will be
represented:--but what is Hope? nothing but the paint on the face
of Existence; the least touch of Truth rubs it off, and then we see
what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of. I am not sure
that I have not said this last superfine reflection before. But
never mind;--it will do for the tragedy of Turgesius, to which I
can append it.

"Well, but how dost thou do? thou bard not of a thousand but three
thousand! I wish your friend, Sir John Piano-forte, had kept that
to himself, and not made it public at the trial of the song-seller
in Dublin. I tell you why: it is a liberal thing for Longman to do,
and honourable for you to obtain; but it will set all the 'hungry
and dinnerless, lank-jawed judges' upon the fortunate author. But
they be d----d!--the 'Jeffrey and the Moore together are confident
against the world in ink!' By the way, if poor C * * e--who is a
man of wonderful talent, and in distress[86], and about to publish
two vols. of Poesy and Biography, and who has been worse used by
the critics than ever we were--will you, if he comes out, promise
me to review him favourably in the E.R.? Praise him I think you
must, but you will also praise him _well_,--of all things the most
difficult. It will be the making of him.

"This must be a secret between you and me, as Jeffrey might not
like such a project;--nor, indeed, might C. himself like it. But I
do think he only wants a pioneer and a sparkle or two to explode
most gloriously. Ever yours most affectionately, B.

"P.S. This is a sad scribbler's letter; but the next shall be 'more
of this world.'"

[Footnote 86: It is but justice both to "him that gave and him that took" to mention that the noble poet, at this time, with a delicacy which enhanced the kindness, advanced to the eminent person here spoken of, on the credit of some work he was about to produce, one hundred pounds.]

* * * * *

As, after this letter, there occur but few allusions to his connection with the Drury Lane Management, I shall here avail myself of the opportunity to give some extracts from his "Detached Thoughts," containing recollections of his short acquaintance with the interior of the theatre.

"When I belonged to the Drury Lane Committee, and was one of the Sub-Committee of Management, the number of _plays_ upon the shelves were about _five_ hundred. Conceiving that amongst these there must be _some_ of merit, in person and by proxy I caused an investigation. I do not think that of those which I saw there was one which could be conscientiously tolerated. There never were such things as most of them! Mathurin was very kindly recommended to me by Walter Scott, to whom I had recourse, firstly, in the hope that he would do something for us himself; and, secondly, in my despair, that he would point out to us any young (or old) writer of promise. Mathurin sent his Bertram and a letter _without_ his address, so that at first I could give him no answer. When I at last hit upon his residence, I sent him a favourable answer and something more substantial. His play succeeded; but I was at that time absent from England.

"I tried Coleridge too; but he had nothing feasible in hand at the time. Mr. Sotheby obligingly offered _all_ his tragedies, and I pledged myself, and notwithstanding many squabbles with my Committed Brethren, did get 'Ivan' accepted, read, and the parts distributed. But, lo! in the very heart of the matter, upon some _tepid_ness on the part of Kean, or warmth on that of the author, Sotheby withdrew his play. Sir J.B. Burgess did also present four tragedies and a farce, and I moved green-room and Sub-Committee, but they would not.

"Then the scenes I had to go through!--the authors, and the authoresses, and the milliners, and the wild Irishmen,--the people from Brighton, from Blackwall; from Chatham, from Cheltenham, from Dublin, from Dundee,--who came in upon me! to all of whom it was proper to give a civil answer, and a hearing, and a reading. Mrs. * * * *'s father, an Irish dancing-master of sixty years, calling upon me to request to play Archer, dressed in silk stockings on a frosty morning to show his legs (which were certainly good and Irish for his age, and had been still better,)--Miss Emma Somebody, with a play entitled 'The Bandit of Bohemia,' or some such title or production,--Mr. O'Higgins, then resident at Richmond, with an Irish tragedy, in which the unities could not fail to be observed, for the protagonist was chained by the leg to a pillar during the chief part of the performance. He was a wild man, of a salvage appearance, and the difficulty of _not_ laughing at him was only to be got over by reflecting upon the probable consequences of such cachinnation.

"As I am really a civil and polite person, and _do_ hate giving pain when it can be avoided, I sent them up to Douglas Kinnaird,--who is a man of business, and sufficiently ready with a negative,--and left them to settle with him; and as the beginning of next year I went abroad, I have since been little aware of the progress of the theatres.

"Players are said to be an impracticable people. They are so; but I managed to steer clear of any disputes with them, and excepting one debate[87] with the elder Byrne about Miss Smith's _pas de_--(something--I forget the technicals,)--I do not remember any litigation of my own. I used to protect Miss Smith, because she was like Lady Jane Harley in the face, and likenesses go a great way with me. Indeed, in general, I left such things to my more bustling colleagues, who used to reprove me seriously for not being able to take such things in hand without buffooning with the histrions, or throwing things into confusion by treating light matters with levity.

"Then the Committee!--then the Sub-Committee!--we were but few, but never agreed. There was Peter Moore who contradicted Kinnaird, and Kinnaird who contradicted every body: then our two managers, Rae and Dibdin; and our secretary, Ward! and yet we were all very zealous and in earnest to do good and so forth. * * * * furnished us with prologues to our revived old English plays; but was not pleased with me for complimenting him as 'the Upton' of our theatre (Mr. Upton is or was the poet who writes the songs for Astley's), and almost gave up prologuing in consequence.

"In the pantomime of 1815-16 there was a representation of the masquerade of 1814 given by 'us youth' of Watier's Club to Wellington and Co. Douglas Kinnaird and one or two others, with myself, put on masks, and went on the stage with the [Greek: hoi polloi], to see the effect of a theatre from the stage:--it is very grand. Douglas danced among the figuranti too, and they were puzzled to find out who we were, as being more than their number. It was odd enough that Douglas Kinnaird and I should have been both at the _real_ masquerade, and afterwards in the mimic one of the same, on the stage of Drury Lane theatre."

[Footnote 87: A correspondent of one of the monthly Miscellanies gives the following account of this incident:--

"During Lord Byron's administration, a ballet was invented by the elder Byrne, in which Miss Smith (since Mrs. Oscar Byrne) had a _pas seul_. This the lady wished to remove to a later period in the ballet. The ballet-master refused, and the lady swore she would not dance it at all. The music incidental to the dance began to play, and the lady walked off the stage. Both parties flounced into the green-room to lay the case before Lord Byron, who happened to be the only person in that apartment. The noble committee-man made an award in favour of Miss Smith, and both complainants rushed angrily out of the room at the instant of my entering it. 'If you had come a minute sooner,' said Lord Byron, 'you would have heard a curious matter decided on by me: a question of dancing!--by me,' added he, looking down at the lame limb, 'whom Nature from my birth has prohibited from taking a single step.' His countenance fell after he had uttered this, as if he had said too much; and for a moment there was an embarrassing silence on both sides."]

* * * * *


"Terrace, Piccadilly, October 31. 1815.

"I have not been able to ascertain precisely the time of duration
of the stock market; but I believe it is a good time for selling
out, and I hope so. First, because I shall see you; and, next,
because I shall receive certain monies on behalf of Lady B., the
which will materially conduce to my comfort,--I wanting (as the
duns say) 'to make up a sum.'

"Yesterday, I dined out with a large-ish party, where were Sheridan
and Colman, Harry Harris of C. G, and his brother, Sir Gilbert
Heathcote, Ds. Kinnaird, and others, of note and notoriety. Like
other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then
argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then
altogethery, then inarticulate, and then drunk. When we had reached
the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down
again without stumbling; and to crown all, Kinnaird and I had to
conduct Sheridan down a d----d corkscrew staircase, which had
certainly been constructed before the discovery of fermented
liquors, and to which no legs, however crooked, could possibly
accommodate themselves. We deposited him safe at home, where his
man, evidently used to the business, waited to receive him in the

"Both he and Colman were, as usual, very good; but I carried away
much wine, and the wine had previously carried away my memory; so
that all was hiccup and happiness for the last hour or so, and I am
not impregnated with any of the conversation. Perhaps you heard of
a late answer of Sheridan to the watchman who found him bereft of
that 'divine particle of air,' called reason, * * *. He, the
watchman, who found Sherry in the street, fuddled and bewildered,
and almost insensible. 'Who are _you_, sir? '--no answer. 'What's
your name?'--a hiccup. 'What's your name?'--Answer, in a slow,
deliberate and impassive tone--'Wilberforce!!!' Is not that Sherry
all over?--and, to my mind, excellent. Poor fellow, _his_ very
dregs are better than the 'first sprightly runnings' of others.

"My paper is full, and I have a grievous headach.

"P.S. Lady B. is in full progress. Next month will bring to light
(with the aid of 'Juno Lucina, _fer opem_,' or rather _opes_, for
the last are most wanted,) the tenth wonder of the world--Gil Blas
being the eighth, and he (my son's father) the ninth."

* * * * *


"November 4. 1815.

"Had you not bewildered my head with the 'stocks,' your letter
would have been answered directly. Hadn't I to go to the city? and
hadn't I to remember what to ask when I got there? and hadn't I
forgotten it?

"I should be undoubtedly delighted to see you; but I don't like to
urge against your reasons my own inclinations. Come you must soon,
for stay you _won't_. I know you of old;--you have been too much
leavened with London to keep long out of it.

"Lewis is going to Jamaica to suck his sugar canes. He sails in two
days; I enclose you his farewell note. I saw him last night at
D.L.T. for the last time previous to his voyage. Poor fellow! he is
really a good man--an excellent man--he left me his walking-stick
and a pot of preserved ginger. I shall never eat the last without
tears in my eyes, it is so _hot_. We have had a devil of a row
among our ballerinas. Miss Smith has been wronged about a hornpipe.
The Committee have interfered; but Byrne, the d----d ballet master,
won't budge a step, _I_ am furious, so is George Lamb. Kinnaird is
very glad, because--he don't know why; and I am very sorry, for the
same reason. To-day I dine with Kd.--we are to have Sheridan and
Colman again; and to-morrow, once more, at Sir Gilbert Heathcote's.

"Leigh Hunt has written a _real good_ and _very original Poem_,
which I think will be a great hit. You can have no notion how very
well it is written, nor should I, had I not redde it. As to us,
Tom--eh, when art thou out? If you think the verses worth it, I
would rather they were embalmed in the Irish Melodies, than
scattered abroad in a separate song--much rather. But when are thy
great things out? I mean the Po of Pos--thy Shah Nameh. It is very
kind in Jeffrey to like the Hebrew Melodies. Some of the fellows
here preferred Sternhold and Hopkins, and said so;--'the fiend
receive their souls therefor!'

"I must go and dress for dinner. Poor, dear Murat, what an end! You
know, I suppose, that his white plume used to be a rallying point
in battle, like Henry IV.'s. He refused a confessor and a bandage;
so would neither suffer his soul or body to be bandaged. You shall
have more to-morrow or next day.

"Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"November 4. 1815.

"When you have been enabled to form an opinion on Mr. Coleridge's
MS.[88] you will oblige me by returning it, as, in fact, I have no
authority to let it out of my hands. I think most highly of it, and
feel anxious that you should be the publisher; but if you are not,
I do not despair of finding those who will.

"I have written to Mr. Leigh Hunt, stating your willingness to
treat with him, which, when I saw you, I understood you to be.
Terms and time, I leave to his pleasure and your discernment; but
this I will say, that I think it the _safest_ thing you ever
engaged in. I speak to you as a man of business; were I to talk to
you as a reader or a critic, I should say it was a very wonderful
and beautiful performance, with just enough of fault to make its
beauties more remarked and remarkable.

"And now to the last--my own, which I feel ashamed of after the
others:--publish or not as you like, I don't care _one damn_. If
_you_ don't, no one else shall, and I never thought or dreamed of
it, except as one in the collection. If it is worth being in the
fourth volume, put it there and nowhere else; and if not, put it in
the fire. Yours, N."

[Footnote 88: A tragedy entitled, I think, Zopolia.]

* * * * *

Those embarrassments which, from a review of his affairs previous to the marriage, he had clearly foreseen would, before long, overtake him, were not slow in realising his worst omens. The increased expenses induced by his new mode of life, with but very little increase of means to meet them,--the long arrears of early pecuniary obligations, as well as the claims which had been, gradually, since then, accumulating, all pressed upon him now with collected force, and reduced him to some of the worst humiliations of poverty. He had been even driven, by the necessity of encountering such demands, to the trying expedient of parting with his books,--which circumstance coming to Mr. Murray's ears, that gentleman instantly forwarded to him 1500_l._, with an assurance that another sum of the same amount should be at his service in a few weeks, and that if such assistance should not be sufficient, Mr. Murray was most ready to dispose of the copyrights of all his past works for his use.

This very liberal offer Lord Byron acknowledged in the following letter:--


"November 14. 1815.

"I return you your bills not accepted, but certainly not
_unhonoured_. Your present offer is a favour which I would accept
from you, if I accepted such from any man. Had such been my
intention, I can assure you I would have asked you fairly, and as
freely as you would give; and I cannot say more of my confidence or
your conduct.

"The circumstances which induce me to part with my books, though
sufficiently, are not _immediately_, pressing. I have made up my
mind to them, and there's an end.

"Had I been disposed to trespass on your kindness in this way, it
would have been before now; but I am not sorry to have an
opportunity of declining it, as it sets my opinion of you, and
indeed of human nature, in a different light from that in which I
have been accustomed to consider it.

"Believe me very truly," &c.

* * * * *


"December 25. 1815.

"I send some lines, written some time ago, and intended as an
opening to 'The Siege of Corinth.' I had forgotten them, and am not
sure that they had not better be left out now:--on that, you and
your Synod can determine. Yours," &c.

* * * * *

The following are the lines alluded to in this note. They are written in the loosest form of that rambling style of metre which his admiration of Mr. Coleridge's "Christabel" led him, at this time, to adopt; and he judged rightly, perhaps, in omitting them as the opening of his poem. They are, however, too full of spirit and character to be lost. Though breathing the thick atmosphere of Piccadilly when he wrote them, it is plain that his fancy was far away, among the sunny hills and vales of Greece; and their contrast with the tame life he was leading at the moment, but gave to his recollections a fresher spring and force.

"In the year since Jesus died for men,
Eighteen hundred years and ten,
We were a gallant company,
Riding o'er land, and sailing o'er sea.
Oh! but we went merrily!
We forded the river, and clomb the high hill,
Never our steeds for a day stood still;
Whether we lay in the cave or the shed,
Our sleep fell soft on the hardest bed;
Whether we couch'd in our rough capote,
On the rougher plank of our gliding boat,
Or stretch'd on the beach, or our saddles spread
As a pillow beneath the resting head,
Fresh we woke upon the morrow:
All our thoughts and words had scope,
We had health, and we had hope,
Toil and travel, but no sorrow.
We were of all tongues and creeds;--
Some were those who counted beads,
Some of mosque, and some of church,
And some, or I mis-say, of neither;
Yet through the wide world might ye search
Nor find a mother crew nor blither.

"But some are dead, and some are gone,
And some are scatter'd and alone,
And some are rebels on the hills[89]
That look along Epirus' valleys
Where Freedom still at moments rallies,
And pays in blood Oppression's ills:
And some are in a far countree,
And some all restlessly at home;
But never more, oh! never, we
Shall meet to revel and to roam.
But those hardy days flew cheerily;
And when they now fall drearily,
My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main
And bear my spirit back again
Over the earth, and through the air,
A wild bird, and a wanderer.
'Tis this that ever wakes my strain,
And oft, too oft, implores again
The few who may endure my lay,
To follow me so far away.

"Stranger--wilt thou follow now,
And sit with me on Acro-Corinth's brow?"

[Footnote 89: "The last tidings recently heard of Dervish (one of the Arnaouts who followed me) state him to be in revolt upon the mountains, at the head of some of the bands common in that country in times of trouble."]

* * * * *


"January 5. 1816.

"I hope Mrs. M. is quite re-established. The little girl was born
on the 10th of December last; her name is Augusta _Ada_ (the second
a very antique family name,--I believe not used since the reign of
King John). She was, and is, very flourishing and fat, and reckoned
very large for her days--squalls and sucks incessantly. Are you
answered? Her mother is doing very well, and up again.

"I have now been married a year on the second of this
month--heigh-ho! I have seen nobody lately much worth noting,
except S * * and another general of the Gauls, once or twice at
dinners out of doors. S * * is a fine, foreign, villanous-looking,
intelligent, and very agreeable man; his compatriot is more of the
_petit-maître_, and younger, but I should think not at all of the
same intellectual calibre with the Corsican--which S * *, you know,
is, and a cousin of Napoleon's.

"Are you never to be expected in town again? To be sure, there is
no one here of the 1500 fillers of hot-rooms, called the
fashionable world. My approaching papa-ship detained us for advice,
&c. &c. though I would as soon be here as any where else on this
side of the Straits of Gibraltar.

"I would gladly--or, rather, sorrowfully--comply with your request
of a dirge for the poor girl you mention.[90] But how can I write
on one I have never seen or known? Besides, you will do it much
better yourself. I could not write upon any thing, without some
personal experience and foundation; far less on a theme so
peculiar. Now, you have both in this case; and, if you had neither,
you have more imagination, and would never fail.

"This is but a dull scrawl, and I am but a dull fellow. Just at
present, I am absorbed in 500 contradictory contemplations, though
with but one object in view--which will probably end in nothing, as
most things we wish do. But never mind,--as somebody says, 'for the
blue sky bends over all.' I only could be glad, if it bent over me
where it is a little bluer; like the 'skyish top of blue Olympus,'
which, by the way, looked very white when I last saw it.

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 90: I had mentioned to him, as a subject worthy of his best powers of pathos, a melancholy event which had just occurred in my neighbourhood, and to which I have myself made allusion in one of the Sacred Melodies--"Weep not for her."]

* * * * *

On reading over the foregoing letter, I was much struck by the tone of melancholy that pervaded it; and well knowing it to be the habit of the writer's mind to seek relief, when under the pressure of any disquiet or disgust, in that sense of freedom which told him that there were homes for him elsewhere, I could perceive, I thought, in his recollections of the "blue Olympus," some return of the restless and roving spirit, which unhappiness or impatience always called up in his mind. I had, indeed, at the time when he sent me those melancholy verses, "There's not a joy this world can give," &c. felt some vague apprehensions as to the mood into which his spirits then seemed to be sinking, and, in acknowledging the receipt of the verses, thus tried to banter him out of it:--"But why thus on your stool of melancholy again, Master Stephen?--This will never do--it plays the deuce with all the matter-of-fact duties of life, and you must bid adieu to it. Youth is the only time when one can be melancholy with impunity. As life itself grows sad and serious we have nothing for it but--to be as much as possible the contrary."

My absence from London during the whole of this year had deprived me of all opportunities of judging for myself how far the appearances of his domestic state gave promise of happiness; nor had any rumours reached me which at all inclined me to suspect that the course of his married life hitherto exhibited less smoothness than such unions,--on the surface, at least,--generally wear. The strong and affectionate terms in which, soon after the marriage, he had, in some of the letters I have given, declared his own happiness--a declaration which his known frankness left me no room to question--had, in no small degree, tended to still those apprehensions which my first view of the lot he had chosen for himself awakened. I could not, however, but observe that these indications of a contented heart soon ceased. His mention of the partner of his home became more rare and formal, and there was observable, I thought, through some of his letters a feeling of unquiet and weariness that brought back all those gloomy anticipations with which I had, from the first, regarded his fate. This last letter of his, in particular, struck me as full of sad omen, and, in the course of my answer, I thus noticed to him the impression it had made on me:--"And so you are a whole year married!--

'It was last year I vow'd to thee
That fond impossibility.'

Do you know, my dear B., there was a something in your last letter--a sort of unquiet mystery, as well as a want of your usual elasticity of spirits--which has hung upon my mind unpleasantly ever since. I long to be near you, that I might know how you really look and feel; for these letters tell nothing, and one word, _a quattr'occhi_, is worth whole reams of correspondence. But only _do_ tell me you are happier than that letter has led me to fear, and I shall be satisfied."

* * * * *

It was in a few weeks after this latter communication between us that Lady Byron adopted the resolution of parting from him. She had left London about the middle of January, on a visit to her father's house, in Leicestershire, and Lord Byron was, in a short time after, to follow her. They had parted in the utmost kindness,--she wrote him a letter, full of playfulness and affection, on the road, and, immediately on her arrival at Kirkby Mallory, her father wrote to acquaint Lord Byron that she would return to him no more. At the time when he had to stand this unexpected shock, his pecuniary embarrassments, which had been fast gathering around him during the whole of the last year (there having been no less than eight or nine executions in his house within that period), had arrived at their utmost; and at a moment when, to use his own strong expressions, he was "standing alone on his hearth, with his household gods shivered around him," he was also doomed to receive the startling intelligence that the wife who had just parted with him in kindness, had parted with him--for ever.

About this time the following note was written:--


"February 8. 1816.

"Do not mistake me--I really returned your book for the reason
assigned, and no other. It is too good for so careless a fellow. I
have parted with all my own books, and positively won't deprive you
of so valuable 'a drop of that immortal man.'

"I shall be very glad to see you, if you like to call, though I am
at present contending with 'the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune,' some of which have struck at me from a quarter whence I
did not indeed expect them--But, no matter, 'there is a world
elsewhere,' and I will cut my way through this as I can.

"If you write to Moore, will you tell him that I shall answer his
letter the moment I can muster time and spirits? Ever yours,


* * * * *

The rumours of the separation did not reach me till more than a week afterwards, when I immediately wrote to him thus:--"I am most anxious to hear from you, though I doubt whether I ought to mention the subject on which I am so anxious. If, however, what I heard last night, in a letter from town, be true, you will know immediately what I allude to, and just communicate as much or as little upon the subject as you think proper;--only _something_ I should like to know, as soon as possible, from yourself, in order to set my mind at rest with respect to the truth or falsehood of the report." The following is his answer:--


"February 29. 1816.

"I have not answered your letter for a time; and, at present, the
reply to part of it might extend to such a length, that I shall
delay it till it can be made in person, and then I will shorten it
as much as I can.

"In the mean time, I am at war 'with all the world and his wife;'
or rather, 'all the world and _my_ wife' are at war with me, and
have not yet crushed me,--whatever they _may_ do. I don't know that
in the course of a hair-breadth existence I was ever, at home or
abroad, in a situation so completely uprooting of present pleasure,
or rational hope for the future, as this same. I say this, because
I think so, and feel it. But I shall not sink under it the more for
that mode of considering the question--I have made up my mind.

"By the way, however, you must not believe all you hear on the
subject; and don't attempt to defend me. If you succeeded in that,
it would be a mortal, or an immortal, offence--who can bear
refutation? I have but a very short answer for those whom it
concerns; and all the activity of myself and some vigorous friends
have not yet fixed on any tangible ground or personage, on which or
with whom I can discuss matters, in a summary way, with a fair
pretext;--though I nearly had _nailed one_ yesterday, but he evaded
by--what was judged by others--a satisfactory explanation. I speak
of _circulators_--against whom I have no enmity, though I must act
according to the common code of usage, when I hit upon those of the
serious order.

"Now for other matters--poesy, for instance. Leigh Hunt's poem is a
devilish good one--quaint, here and there, but with the substratum
of originality, and with poetry about it, that will stand the test.
I do not say this because he has inscribed it to me, which I am
sorry for, as I should otherwise have begged you to review it in
the Edinburgh.[91] It is really deserving of much praise, and a
favourable critique in the E.R. would but do it justice, and set it
up before the public eye where it ought to be.

"How are you? and where? I have not the most distant idea what I am
going to do myself, or with myself--or where--or what. I had, a few
weeks ago, some things to say that would have made you laugh; but
they tell me now that I must not laugh, and so I have been very
serious--and am.

"I have not been very well--with a _liver_ complaint--but am much
better within the last fortnight, though still under Iatrical
advice. I have latterly seen a little of * * * *

"I must go and dress to dine. My little girl is in the country,
and, they tell me, is a very fine child, and now nearly three
months old. Lady Noel (my mother-in-law, or, rather, _at_ law) is
at present overlooking it. Her daughter (Miss Milbanke that was)
is, I believe, in London with her father. A Mrs. C. (now a kind of
housekeeper and spy of Lady N.'s) who, in her better days, was a
washerwoman, is supposed to be--by the learned--very much the
occult cause of our late domestic discrepancies.

"In all this business, I am the sorriest for Sir Ralph. He and I
are equally punished, though _magis pares quam similes_ in our
affliction. Yet it is hard for both to suffer for the fault of one,
and so it is--I shall be separated from my wife; he will retain

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 91: My reply to this part of his letter was, I find, as follows:--"With respect to Hunt's poem, though it is, I own, full of beauties, and though I like himself sincerely, I really could not undertake to praise it _seriously_. There is so much of the _quizzible_ in all he writes, that I never can put on the proper pathetic face in reading him."]

* * * * *

In my reply to this letter, written a few days after, there is a passage which (though containing an opinion it might have been more prudent, perhaps, to conceal,) I feel myself called upon to extract on account of the singularly generous avowal,--honourable alike to both the parties in this unhappy affair,--which it was the means of drawing from Lord Byron. The following are my words:--"I am much in the same state as yourself with respect to the subject of your letter, my mind being so full of things which I don't know how to write about, that _I_ too must defer the greater part of them till we meet in May, when I shall put you fairly on your trial for all crimes and misdemeanors. In the mean time, you will not be at a loss for judges, nor executioners either, if they could have their will. The world, in their generous ardour to take what they call the weaker side, soon contrive to make it most formidably the strongest. Most sincerely do I grieve at what has happened. It has upset all my wishes and theories as to the influence of marriage on your life; for, instead of bringing you, as I expected, into something like a regular orbit, it has only cast you off again into infinite space, and left you, I fear, in a far worse state than it found you. As to defending you, the only person with whom I have yet attempted this task is myself; and, considering the little I know upon the subject, (or rather, perhaps, _owing_ to this cause,) I have hitherto done it with very tolerable success. After all, your _choice_ was the misfortune. I never liked,--but I'm here wandering into the [Greek: aporrêta], and so must change the subject for a far pleasanter one, your last new poems, which," &c. &c.

The return of post brought me the following answer, which, while it raises our admiration of the generous candour of the writer, but adds to the sadness and strangeness of the whole transaction.

* * * * *


"March 8. 1816.

"I rejoice in your promotion as Chairman and Charitable Steward,
&c. &c. These be dignities which await only the virtuous. But then,
recollect you are _six_ and _thirty_, (I speak this enviously--not
of your age, but the 'honour--love--obedience--troops of friends,'
which accompany it,) and I have eight years good to run before I
arrive at such hoary perfection; by which time,--if I _am_ at
all[92],--it will probably be in a state of grace or progressing

"I must set you right in one point, however. The fault was
_not_--no, nor even the misfortune--in my 'choice' (unless in
_choosing at all_)--for I do not believe--and I must say it, in the
very dregs of all this bitter business--that there ever was a
better, or even a brighter, a kinder, or a more amiable and
agreeable being than Lady B. I never had, nor can have, any
reproach to make her, while with me. Where there is blame, it
belongs to myself, and, if I cannot redeem, I must bear it.

"Her nearest relatives are a * * * *--my circumstances have been
and are in a state of great confusion--my health has been a _good_
deal disordered, and my mind ill at ease for a considerable period.
Such are the causes (I do not name them as excuses) which have
frequently driven me into excess, and disqualified my temper for
comfort. Something also may be attributed to the strange and
desultory habits which, becoming my own master at an early age, and
scrambling about, over and through the world, may have induced. I
still, however, think that, if I had had a fair chance, by being
placed in even a tolerable situation, I might have gone on fairly.
But that seems hopeless,--and there is nothing more to be said. At
present--except my health, which is better (it is odd, but
agitation or contest of any kind gives a rebound to my spirits and
sets me up for the time)--I have to battle with all kinds of
unpleasantnesses, including private and pecuniary difficulties, &c.

"I believe I may have said this before to you, but I risk repeating
it. It is nothing to bear the _privations_ of adversity, or, more
properly, ill fortune; but my pride recoils from its _indignities_.
However, I have no quarrel with that same pride, which will, I
think, buckler me through every thing. If my heart could have been
broken, it would have been so years ago, and by events more
afflicting than these.

"I agree with you (to turn from this topic to our shop) that I
have written too much. The last things were, however, published
very reluctantly by me, and for reasons I will explain when we
meet. I know not why I have dwelt so much on the same scenes,
except that I find them fading, or _confusing_ (if such a word may
be) in my memory, in the midst of present turbulence and pressure,
and I felt anxious to stamp before the die was worn out. I now
break it. With those countries, and events connected with them, all
my really poetical feelings begin and end. Were I to try, I could
make nothing of any other subject, and that I have apparently
exhausted. 'Wo to him,' says Voltaire, 'who says all he could say
on any subject.' There are some on which, perhaps, I could have
said still more: but I leave them all, and too soon.

"Do you remember the lines I sent you early last year, which you
still have? I don't wish (like Mr. Fitzgerald, in the Morning Post)
to claim the character of 'Vates' in all its translations, but were
they not a little prophetic? I mean those beginning, 'There's not a
joy the world can,' &c. &c., on which I rather pique myself as
being the truest, though the most melancholy, I ever wrote.

"What a scrawl have I sent you! You say nothing of yourself, except
that you are a Lancasterian churchwarden, and an encourager of
mendicants. When are you out? and how is your family? My child is
very well and flourishing, I hear; but I must see also. I feel no
disposition to resign it to the contagion of its grandmother's
society, though I am unwilling to take it from the mother. It is
weaned, however, and something about it must be decided. Ever," &c.

[Footnote 92: This sad doubt,--"if I _am_ at all,"--becomes no less singular than sad when we recollect that six and thirty was actually the age when he ceased to "be," and at a moment, too, when (as even the least friendly to him allow) he was in that state of "progressing merits" which he here jestingly anticipates.]

* * * * *

Having already gone so far in laying open to my readers some of the sentiments which I entertained, respecting Lord Byron's marriage, at a time when, little foreseeing that I should ever become his biographer, I was, of course, uninfluenced by the peculiar bias supposed to belong to that task, it may still further, perhaps, be permitted me to extract from my reply to the foregoing letter some sentences of explanation which its contents seemed to me to require.

"I had certainly no right to say any thing about the unluckiness of your choice, though I rejoice now that I did, as it has drawn from you a tribute which, however unaccountable and mysterious it renders the whole affair, is highly honourable to both parties. What I meant in hinting a doubt with respect to the object of your selection did not imply the least impeachment of that perfect amiableness which the world, I find, by common consent, allows to her. I only feared that she might have been too perfect--too _precisely_ excellent--too matter-of-fact a paragon for you to coalesce with comfortably; and that a person whose perfection hung in more easy folds about her, whose brightness was softened down by some of 'those fair defects which best conciliate love,' would, by appealing more dependently to your protection, have stood a much better chance with your good nature. All these suppositions, however, I have been led into by my intense anxiety to acquit you of any thing like a capricious abandonment of such a woman[93]; and, totally in the dark as I am with respect to all but the fact of your separation, you cannot conceive the solicitude, the fearful solicitude, with which I look forward to a history of the transaction from your own lips when we meet,--a history in which I am sure of, at least, _one_ virtue--manly candour."

[Footnote 93: It will be perceived from this that I was as yet unacquainted with the true circumstances of the transaction.]

* * * * *

With respect to the causes that may be supposed to have led to this separation, it seems needless, with the characters of both parties before our eyes, to go in quest of any very remote or mysterious reasons to account for it. I have already, in some observations on the general character of men of genius, endeavoured to point out those peculiarities, both in disposition and habitudes, by which, in the far greater number of instances, they have been found unfitted for domestic happiness. Of these defects, (which are, as it were, the shadow that genius casts, and too generally, it is to be feared, in proportion to its stature,) Lord Byron could not, of course, fail to have inherited his share, in common with all the painfully-gifted class to which he belonged. How thoroughly, with respect to one attribute of this temperament which he possessed,--one, that "sicklies o'er" the face of happiness itself,--he was understood by the person most interested in observing him, will appear from the following anecdote, as related by himself.[94]

"People have wondered at the melancholy which runs through my writings. Others have wondered at my personal gaiety. But I recollect once, after an hour in which I had been sincerely and particularly gay and rather brilliant, in company, my wife replying to me when I said (upon her remarking my high spirits), 'And yet, Bell, I have been called and miscalled melancholy--you must have seen how falsely, frequently?'--'No, Byron,' she answered, 'it is not so: at heart you are the most melancholy of mankind; and often when apparently gayest.'"

To these faults and sources of faults inherent, in his own sensitive nature, he added also many of those which a long indulgence of self-will generates,--the least compatible, of all others, (if not softened down, as they were in him, by good nature,) with that system of mutual concession and sacrifice by which the balance of domestic peace is maintained. When we look back, indeed, to the unbridled career, of which this marriage was meant to be the goal,--to the rapid and restless course in which his life had run along, like a burning train, through a series of wanderings, adventures, successes, and passions, the fever of all which was still upon him, when, with the same headlong recklessness, he rushed into this marriage,--it can but little surprise us that, in the space of one short year, he should not have been able to recover all at once from his bewilderment, or to settle down into that tame level of conduct which the close observers of his every action required. As well might it be expected that a steed like his own Mazeppa's,

"Wild as the wild deer and untaught,
With spur and bridle undefiled--
'Twas but a day he had been caught,"

should stand still, when reined, without chafing or champing the bit.

Even had the new condition of life into which he passed been one of prosperity and smoothness, some time, as well as tolerance, must still have been allowed for the subsiding of so excited a spirit into rest. But, on the contrary, his marriage (from the reputation, no doubt, of the lady, as an heiress,) was, at once, a signal for all the arrears and claims of a long-accumulating state of embarrassment to explode upon him;--his door was almost daily beset by duns, and his house nine times during that year in possession of bailiffs[95]; while, in addition to these anxieties and--what he felt still more--indignities of poverty, he had also the pain of fancying, whether rightly or wrongly, that the eyes of enemies and spies were upon him, even under his own roof, and that his every hasty word and look were interpreted in the most perverting light.

As, from the state of their means, his lady and he saw but little society, his only relief from the thoughts which a life of such embarrassment brought with it was in those avocations which his duty, as a member of the Drury Lane Committee, imposed upon him. And here,--in this most unlucky connection with the theatre,--one of the fatalities of his short year of trial, as husband, lay. From the reputation which he had previously acquired for gallantries, and the sort of reckless and boyish levity to which--often in very "bitterness of soul"--he gave way, it was not difficult to bring suspicion upon some of those acquaintances which his frequent intercourse with the green-room induced him to form, or even (as, in one instance, was the case,) to connect with his name injuriously that of a person to whom he had scarcely ever addressed a single word.

Notwithstanding, however, this ill-starred concurrence of circumstances, which might have palliated any excesses either of temper or conduct into which they drove him, it was, after all, I am persuaded, to no such serious causes that the unfortunate alienation, which so soon ended in disunion, is to be traced. "In all the marriages I have ever seen," says Steele, "most of which have been unhappy ones, the great cause of evil has proceeded from slight occasions;" and to this remark, I think, the marriage under our consideration would not be found, upon enquiry, to be an exception. Lord Byron himself, indeed, when at Cephalonia, a short time before his death, seems to have expressed, in a few words, the whole pith of the mystery. An English gentleman with whom he was conversing on the subject of Lady Byron, having ventured to enumerate to him the various causes he had heard alleged for the separation, the noble poet, who had seemed much amused with their absurdity and falsehood, said, after listening to them all,--"The causes, my dear sir, were too simple to be easily found out."

In truth, the circumstances, so unexampled, that attended their separation,--the last words of the parting wife to the husband being those of the most playful affection, while the language of the deserted husband towards the wife was in a strain, as the world knows, of tenderest eulogy,--are in themselves a sufficient proof that, at the time of their parting, there could have been no very deep sense of injury on either side. It was not till afterwards that, in both bosoms, the repulsive force came into operation,--when, to the party which had taken the first decisive step in the strife, it became naturally a point of pride to persevere in it with dignity, and this unbendingness provoked, as naturally, in the haughty spirit of the other, a strong feeling of resentment which overflowed, at last, in acrimony and scorn. If there be any truth, however, in the principle, that they "never pardon who have done the wrong," Lord Byron, who was, to the last, disposed to reconciliation, proved so far, at least, his conscience to have been unhaunted by any very disturbing consciousness of aggression.

But though it would have been difficult, perhaps, for the victims of this strife, themselves, to have pointed out any single, or definite, cause for their disunion,--beyond that general incompatibility which is the canker of all such marriages,--the public, which seldom allows itself to be at a fault on these occasions, was, as usual, ready with an ample supply of reasons for the breach,--all tending to blacken the already darkly painted character of the poet, and representing him, in short, as a finished monster of cruelty and depravity. The reputation of the object of his choice for every possible virtue, (a reputation which had been, I doubt not, one of his own chief incentives to the marriage, from the vanity, reprobate as he knew he was deemed, of being able to win such a paragon,) was now turned against him by his assailants, not only in the way of contrast with his own character, but as if the excellences of the wife were proof positive of every enormity they chose to charge upon the husband.

Meanwhile, the unmoved silence of the lady herself, (from motives, it is but fair to suppose, of generosity and delicacy,) under the repeated demands made for a specification of her charges against him, left to malice and imagination the fullest range for their combined industry. It was accordingly stated, and almost universally believed, that the noble lord's second proposal to Miss Milbanke had been but with a view to revenge himself for the slight inflicted by her refusal of the first, and that he himself had confessed so much to her on their way from church. At the time when, as the reader has seen from his own honey-moon letters, he was, with all the good will in the world, imagining himself into happiness, and even boasting, in the pride of his fancy, that if marriage were to be upon _lease_, he would gladly renew his own for a term of ninety-nine years,--at this very time, according to these veracious chroniclers, he was employed in darkly following up the aforesaid scheme of revenge, and tormenting his lady by all sorts of unmanly cruelties,--such as firing off pistols, to frighten her as she lay in bed[96], and other such freaks.

To the falsehoods concerning his green-room intimacies, and particularly with respect to one beautiful actress, with whom, in reality, he had hardly ever exchanged a single word, I have already adverted; and the extreme confidence with which this tale was circulated and believed affords no unfair specimen of the sort of evidence with which the public, in all such fits of moral wrath, is satisfied. It is, at the same time, very far from my intention to allege that, in the course of the noble poet's intercourse with the theatre, he was not sometimes led into a line of acquaintance and converse, unbefitting, if not dangerous to, the steadiness of married life. But the imputations against him on this head were (as far as affected his conjugal character) not the less unfounded,--as the sole case in which he afforded any thing like _real_ grounds for such an accusation did not take place till _after_ the period of the separation.

Not content with such ordinary and tangible charges, the tongue of rumour was emboldened to proceed still further; and, presuming upon the mysterious silence maintained by one of the parties, ventured to throw out dark hints and vague insinuations, of which the fancy of every hearer was left to fill up the outline as he pleased. In consequence of all this exaggeration, such an outcry was now raised against Lord Byron as, in no case of private life, perhaps, was ever before witnessed; nor had the whole amount of fame which he had gathered, in the course of the last four years, much exceeded in proportion the reproach and obloquy that were now, within the space of a few weeks, showered upon him. In addition to the many who, no doubt, conscientiously believed and reprobated what they had but too much right, whether viewing him as poet or man of fashion, to consider credible excesses, there were also actively on the alert that large class of persons who seem to hold violence against the vices of others to be equivalent to virtue in themselves, together with all those natural haters of success who, having long sickened under the splendour of the _poet_, were now enabled, in the guise of champions for innocence, to wreak their spite on the _man_. In every various form of paragraph, pamphlet, and caricature, both his character and person were held up to odium[97];--hardly a voice was raised, or at least listened to, in his behalf; and though a few faithful friends remained unshaken by his side, the utter hopelessness of stemming the torrent was felt as well by them as by himself, and, after an effort or two to gain a fair hearing, they submitted in silence. Among the few attempts made by himself towards confuting his calumniators was an appeal (such as the following short letter contains) to some of those persons with whom he had been in the habit of living familiarly.

[Footnote 94: MS.--"Detached Thoughts."]

[Footnote 95: An anecdote connected with one of these occasions is thus related in the Journal just referred to:--

"When the bailiff (for I have seen most kinds of life) came upon me in 1815 to seize my chattels, (being a peer of parliament, my person was beyond him,) being curious (as is my habit), I first asked him "what extents elsewhere he had for government?" upon which he showed me one upon _one house only_ for _seventy thousand pounds_! Next I asked him if he had nothing for Sheridan? "Oh--Sheridan!" said he; "ay, I have this" (pulling out a pocket-book, &c.); "but, my Lord, I have been in Sheridan's house a twelvemonth at a time--a civil gentleman--knows how to deal with _us_," &c. &c. &c. Our own business was then discussed, which was none of the easiest for me at that time. But the man was civil, and (what I valued more) communicative. I had met many of his brethren, years before, in affairs of my friends, (commoners, that is,) but this was the first (or second) on my own account.--A civil man; fee'd accordingly; probably he anticipated as much."]

[Footnote 96: For this story, however, there was so far a foundation that the practice to which he had accustomed himself from boyhood, of having loaded pistols always near him at night, was considered so strange a propensity as to be included in that list of symptoms (sixteen, I believe, in number,) which were submitted to medical opinion, in proof of his insanity. Another symptom was the emotion, almost to hysterics, which he had exhibited on seeing Kean act Sir Giles Overreach. But the most plausible of all the grounds, as he himself used to allow, on which these articles of impeachment against his sanity were drawn up, was an act of violence committed by him on a favourite old watch that had been his companion from boyhood, and had gone with him to Greece. In a fit of vexation and rage, brought on by some of those humiliating embarrassments to which he was now almost daily a prey, he furiously dashed this watch upon the hearth, and ground it to pieces among the ashes with the poker.]

[Footnote 97: Of the abuse lavished upon him, the following extract from a poem, published at this time, will give some idea:--

"From native England, that endured too long
The ceaseless burden of his impious song;
His mad career of crimes and follies run,
And grey in vice, when life was scarce begun;
He goes, in foreign lands prepared to find
A life more suited to his guilty mind;
Where other climes new pleasures may supply
For that pall'd taste, and that unhallow'd eye;--
Wisely he seeks some yet untrodden shore,
For those who know him less may prize him more."

In a rhyming pamphlet, too, entitled "A Poetical Epistle from Delia, addressed to Lord Byron," the writer thus charitably expresses herself:--

"Hopeless of peace below, and, shuddering thought!
Far from that Heav'n, denied, if never sought,
Thy light a beacon--a reproach thy name--
Thy memory "damn'd to everlasting fame,"
Shunn'd by the wise, admired by fools alone--
The good shall mourn thee--and the Muse disown." ]

* * * * *


"March 25. 1816.

"You are one of the few persons with whom I have lived in what is
called intimacy, and have heard me at times conversing on the
untoward topic of my recent family disquietudes. Will you have the
goodness to say to me at once, whether you ever heard me speak of
her with disrespect, with unkindness, or defending myself at _her_
expense by any serious imputation of any description against
_her_? Did you never hear me say 'that when there was a right or a
wrong, she had the _right_?'--The reason I put these questions to
you or others of my friends is, because I am said, by her and hers,
to have resorted to such means of exculpation.

"Ever very truly yours,


* * * * *

In those Memoirs (or, more properly, Memoranda,) of the noble poet, which it was thought expedient, for various reasons, to sacrifice, he gave a detailed account of all the circumstances connected with his marriage, from the first proposal to the lady till his own departure, after the breach, from England. In truth, though the title of "Memoirs," which he himself sometimes gave to that manuscript, conveys the idea of a complete and regular piece of biography, it was to this particular portion of his life that the work was principally devoted; while the anecdotes, having reference to other parts of his career, not only occupied a very disproportionate space in its pages, but were most of them such as are found repeated in the various Journals and other MSS. he left behind. The chief charm, indeed, of that narrative, was the melancholy playfulness--melancholy, from the wounded feeling so visible through its pleasantry--with which events unimportant and persons uninteresting, in almost every respect but their connection with such a man's destiny, were detailed and described in it. Frank, as usual, throughout, in his avowal of his own errors, and generously just towards her who was his fellow-sufferer in the strife, the impression his recital left on the minds of all who perused it was, to say the least, favourable to him;--though, upon the whole, leading to a persuasion, which I have already intimated to be my own, that, neither in kind nor degree, did the causes of disunion between the parties much differ from those that loosen the links of most such marriages.

With respect to the details themselves, though all important in his own eyes at the time, as being connected with the subject that superseded most others in his thoughts, the interest they would possess for others, now that their first zest as a subject of scandal is gone by, and the greater number of the persons to whom they relate forgotten, would be too slight to justify me in entering upon them more particularly, or running the risk of any offence that might be inflicted by their disclosure. As far as the character of the illustrious subject of these pages is concerned, I feel that Time and Justice are doing far more in its favour than could be effected by any such gossiping details. During the lifetime of a man of genius, the world is but too much inclined to judge of him rather by what he wants than by what he possesses, and even where conscious, as in the present case, that his defects are among the sources of his greatness, to require of him unreasonably the one without the other. If Pope had not been splenetic and irritable, we should have wanted his Satires; and an impetuous temperament, and passions untamed, were indispensable to the conformation of a poet like Byron. It is by posterity only that full justice is rendered to those who have paid such hard penalties to reach it. The dross that had once hung about the ore drops away, and the infirmities, and even miseries, of genius are forgotten in its greatness. Who now asks whether Dante was right or wrong in his matrimonial differences? or by how many of those whose fancies dwell fondly on his Beatrice is even the name of his Gemma Donati remembered?

Already, short as has been the interval since Lord Byron's death, the charitable influence of time in softening, if not rescinding, the harsh judgments of the world against genius is visible. The utter unreasonableness of trying such a character by ordinary standards, or of expecting to find the materials of order and happiness in a bosom constantly heaving forth from its depths such "lava floods," is--now that big spirit has passed from among us--felt and acknowledged. In reviewing the circumstances of his marriage, a more even scale of justice is held; and while every tribute of sympathy and commiseration is accorded to her, who, unluckily for her own peace, became involved in such a destiny,--who, with virtues and attainments that would have made the home of a more ordinary man happy, undertook, in evil hour, to "turn and wind a fiery Pegasus," and but failed where it may be doubted whether even the fittest for such a task would have succeeded,--full allowance is, at the same time, made for the great martyr of genius himself, whom so many other causes, beside that restless fire within him, concurred to unsettle in mind and (as he himself feelingly expresses it) "disqualify for comfort;"--whose doom it was to be either thus or less great, and whom to have tamed might have been to extinguish; there never, perhaps, having existed an individual to whom, whether as author or man, the following line was more applicable:--

"Si non errâsset, fecerat ille minus."[98]

While these events were going on,--events, of which his memory and heart bore painfully the traces through the remainder of his short life,--some occurrences took place, connected with his literary history, to which it is a relief to divert the attention of the reader from the distressing subject that has now so long detained us.

The letter that follows was in answer to one received from Mr. Murray, in which that gentleman had enclosed him a draft for a thousand guineas for the copyright of his two poems, The Siege of Corinth and Parisina:--

* * * * *


"January 3. 1816.

"Your offer is _liberal_ in the extreme, (you see I use the word
_to_ you and _of_ you, though I would not consent to your using it
of yourself to Mr. * * * *,) and much more than the two poems can
possibly be worth; but I cannot accept it, nor will not. You are
most welcome to them as additions to the collected volumes, without
any demand or expectation on my part whatever. But I cannot consent
to their separate publication. I do not like to risk any fame
(whether merited or not), which I have been favoured with, upon
compositions which I do not feel to be at all equal to my own
notions of what they should be, (and as I flatter myself some _have
been_, here and there,) though they may do very well as things
without pretension, to add to the publication with the lighter

"I am very glad that the handwriting was a favourable omen of the
_morale_ of the piece: but you must not trust to that, for my
copyist would write out any thing I desired in all the ignorance of
innocence--I hope, however, in this instance, with no great peril
to either.

"P.S. I have enclosed your draft _torn_, for fear of accidents by
the way--I wish you would not throw temptation in mine. It is not
from a disdain of the universal idol, nor from a present
superfluity of his treasures, I can assure you, that I refuse to
worship him; but what is right is right, and must not yield to

[Footnote 98: Had he not _erred_, he had far less achieved.]

* * * * *

Notwithstanding the ruinous state of his pecuniary affairs, the resolution which the poet had formed not to avail himself of the profits of his works still continued to be held sacred by him; and the sum thus offered for the copyright of The Siege of Corinth and Parisina was, as we see, refused and left untouched in the publisher's hands. It happened that, at this time, a well-known and eminent writer on political science had been, by some misfortune, reduced to pecuniary embarrassment; and the circumstance having become known to Mr. Rogers and Sir James Mackintosh, it occurred to them that a part of the sum thus unappropriated by Lord Byron could not be better bestowed than in relieving the necessities of this gentleman. The suggestion was no sooner conveyed to the noble poet than he proceeded to act upon it; and the following letter to Mr. Rogers refers to his intentions:--


"February 20. 1816.

"I wrote to you hastily this morning by Murray, to say that I was
glad to do as Mackintosh and you suggested about Mr. * *. It occurs
to me now, that as I have never seen Mr. * * but once, and
consequently have no claim to his acquaintance, that you or Sir J.
had better arrange it with him in such a manner as may be least
offensive to his feelings, and so as not to have the appearance of
officiousness nor obtrusion on my part. I hope you will be able to
do this, as I should be very sorry to do any thing by him that may
be deemed indelicate. The sum Murray offered and offers was and is
one thousand and fifty pounds:--this I refused before, because I
thought it more than the two things were worth to Murray, and from
other objections, which are of no consequence. I have, however,
closed with M., in consequence of Sir J.'s and your suggestion, and
propose the sum of six hundred pounds to be transferred to Mr. * *
in such a manner as may seem best to your friend,--the remainder I
think of for other purposes.

"As Murray has offered the money down for the copyrights, it may be
done directly. I am ready to sign and seal immediately, and
perhaps it had better not be delayed. I shall feel very glad if it
can be of any use to * *; only don't let him be plagued, nor think
himself obliged and all that, which makes people hate one another,
&c. Yours, very truly,


* * * * *

In his mention here of other "purposes," he refers to an intention which he had of dividing the residue of the sum between two other gentlemen of literary Celebrity, equally in want of such aid, Mr. Maturin and Mr. * *. The whole design, however, though entered into with the utmost sincerity on the part of the noble poet, ultimately failed. Mr. Murray, who was well acquainted with the straits to which Lord Byron himself had been reduced, and foresaw that a time might come when even money thus gained would be welcome to him, on learning the uses to which the sum was to be applied, demurred in advancing it,--alleging that, though bound not only by his word but his will to pay the amount to Lord Byron, he did not conceive himself called upon to part with it to others. How earnestly the noble poet himself, though with executions, at the time, impending over his head, endeavoured to urge the point, will appear from the following letter:--


"February 22. 1815.

"When the sum offered by you, and even _pressed_ by you, was
declined, it was with reference to a separate publication, as you
know and I know. That it was large, I admitted and admit; and
_that_ made part of my consideration in refusing it, till I knew
better what you were likely to make of it. With regard to what is
past, or is to pass, about Mr. M * *, the case is in no respect
different from the transfer of former copyrights to Mr. Dallas. Had
I taken you at your word, that is, taken your money, I might have
used it as I pleased; and it could be in no respect different to
you whether I paid it to a w----, or a hospital, or assisted a man
of talent in distress. The truth of the matter seems this: you
offered more than the poems are worth. I _said_ so, and I _think_
so; but you know, or at least ought to know, your own business
best; and when you recollect what passed between you and me upon
pecuniary subjects before this occurred, you will acquit me of any
wish to take advantage of your imprudence.

"The things in question shall not be published at all, and there is
an end of the matter.

"Yours," &c.

* * * * *

The letter that follows will give some idea of those embarrassments in his own affairs, under the pressure of which he could be thus considerate of the wants of others.


"March 6. 1816.

"I sent to you to-day for this reason--the books you purchased are
again seized, and, as matters stand, had much better be sold at
once by public auction.[99] I wish to see you to return your bill
for them, which, thank God, is neither due nor paid. _That_ part,
as far as _you_ are concerned, being settled, (which it can be, and
shall be, when I see you to-morrow,) I have no further delicacy
about the matter. This is about the tenth execution in as many
months; so I am pretty well hardened; but it is fit I should pay
the forfeit of my forefathers' extravagance and my own; and
whatever my faults may be, I suppose they will be pretty well
expiated in time--or eternity. Ever, &c.

"P.S. I need hardly say that I knew nothing till this _day_ of the
new _seizure_. I had released them from former ones, and thought,
when you took them, that they were yours.

"You shall have your bill again to-morrow."

[Footnote 99: The sale of these books took place the following month, and they were described in the catalogue as the property of "a Nobleman about to leave England on a tour."

From a note to Mr. Murray, it would appear that he had been first announced as going to the Morea.

"I hope that the catalogue of the books, &c., has not been published without my seeing it. I must reserve several, and many ought not to be printed. The advertisement is a very bad one. I am not going to the Morea; and if I was, you might as well advertise a man in Russia _as going to Yorkshire_.--Ever," &c.

Together with the books was sold an article of furniture, which is now in the possession of Mr. Murray, namely, "a large screen covered with portraits of actors, pugilists, representations of boxing-matches," &c.]

* * * * *

During the month of January and part of February, his poems of The Siege of Corinth and Parisina were in the hands of the printers, and about the end of the latter month made their appearance. The following letters are the only ones I find connected with their publication.


"February 3. 1816.

"I sent for 'Marmion,' which I return, because it occurred to me,
there might be a resemblance between part of 'Parisina' and a
similar scene in Canto 2d of 'Marmion.' I fear there is, though I
never thought of it before, and could hardly wish to imitate that
which is inimitable. I wish you would ask Mr. Gifford whether I
ought to say any thing upon it;--I had completed the story on the
passage from Gibbon, which indeed leads to a like scene naturally,
without a thought of the kind: but it comes upon me not very

"There are a few words and phrases I want to alter in the MS., and
should like to do it before you print, and will return it in an

"Yours ever."

* * * * *


"February 20. 1816.

"To return to our business--your epistles are vastly agreeable.
With regard to the observations on carelessness, &c. I think, with
all humility, that the gentle reader has considered a rather
uncommon, and designedly irregular, versification for haste and
negligence. The measure is not that of any of the other poems,
which (I believe) were allowed to be tolerably correct, according
to Byshe and the fingers--or ears--by which bards write, and
readers reckon. Great part of 'The Siege' is in (I think) what the
learned call Anapests, (though I am not sure, being heinously
forgetful of my metres and my 'Gradus',) and many of the lines
intentionally longer or shorter than its rhyming companion; and
rhyme also occurring at greater or less intervals of caprice or

"I mean not to say that this is right or good, but merely that I
could have been smoother, had it appeared to me of advantage; and
that I was not otherwise without being aware of the deviation,
though I now feel sorry for it, as I would undoubtedly rather
please than not. My wish has been to try at something different
from my former efforts; as I endeavoured to make them differ from
each other. The versification of 'The Corsair' is not that of
'Lara;' nor 'The Giaour' that of 'The Bride;' Childe Harold is
again varied from these; and I strove to vary the last somewhat
from _all_ of the others.

"Excuse all this d----d nonsense and egotism. The fact is, that I
am rather trying to think on the subject of this note, than really
thinking on it.--I did not know you had called: you are always
admitted and welcome when you choose.

"Yours, &c. &c.

"P.S. You need not be in any apprehension or grief on my account:
were I to be beaten down by the world and its inheritors, I should
have succumbed to many things, years ago. You must not mistake my
_not_ bullying for dejection; nor imagine that because I feel, I am
to faint:--but enough for the present.

"I am sorry for Sotheby's row. What the devil is it about? I
thought it all settled; and if I can do any thing about him or Ivan
still, I am ready and willing. I do not think it proper for me just
now to be much behind the scenes, but I will see the committee and
move upon it, if Sotheby likes.

"If you see Mr. Sotheby, will you tell him that I wrote to Mr.
Coleridge, on getting Mr. Sotheby's note, and have, I hope, done
what Mr. S. wished on that subject?"

* * * * *

It was about the middle of April that his two celebrated copies of verses, "Fare thee well," and "A Sketch," made their appearance in the newspapers:--and while the latter poem was generally and, it must be owned, justly condemned, as a sort of literary assault on an obscure female, whose situation ought to have placed her as much _beneath_ his satire as the undignified mode of his attack certainly raised her _above_ it, with regard to the other poem, opinions were a good deal more divided. To many it appeared a strain of true conjugal tenderness, a kind of appeal, which no woman with a heart could resist: while by others, on the contrary, it was considered to be a mere showy effusion of sentiment, as difficult for real feeling to have produced as it was easy for fancy and art, and altogether unworthy of the deep interests involved in the subject. To this latter opinion, I confess my own to have, at first, strongly inclined; and suspicious as I could not help regarding the sentiment that could, at such a moment, indulge in such verses, the taste that prompted or sanctioned their publication appeared to me even still more questionable. On reading, however, his own account of all the circumstances in the Memoranda, I found that on both points I had, in common with a large portion of the public, done him injustice. He there described, and in a manner whose sincerity there was no doubting, the swell of tender recollections under the influence of which, as he sat one night musing in his study, these stanzas were produced,--the tears, as he said, falling fast over the paper as he wrote them. Neither, from that account, did it appear to have been from any wish or intention of his own, but through the injudicious zeal of a friend whom he had suffered to take a copy, that the verses met the public eye.

The appearance of these poems gave additional violence to the angry and inquisitorial feeling now abroad against him; and the title under which both pieces were immediately announced by various publishers, as "Poems by Lord Byron on his domestic Circumstances," carried with it a sufficient exposure of the utter unfitness of such themes for rhyme. It is, indeed, only in those emotions and passions, of which imagination forms a predominant ingredient,--such as love, in its first dreams, before reality has come to embody or dispel them, or sorrow, in its wane, when beginning to pass away from the heart into the fancy,--that poetry ought ever to be employed as an interpreter of feeling. For the expression of all those immediate affections and disquietudes that have their root in the actual realities of life, the art of the poet, from the very circumstance of its being an art, as well as from the coloured form in which it is accustomed to transmit impressions, cannot be otherwise than a medium as false as it is feeble.

To so very low an ebb had the industry of his assailants now succeeded in reducing his private character, that it required no small degree of courage, even among that class who are supposed to be the most tolerant of domestic irregularities, to invite him into their society. One distinguished lady of fashion, however, ventured so far as, on the eve of his departure from England, to make a party for him expressly; and nothing short, perhaps, of that high station in society which a life as blameless as it is brilliant has secured to her, could have placed beyond all reach of misrepresentation, at that moment, such a compliment to one marked with the world's censure so deeply. At this assembly of Lady J * *'s he made his last appearance, publicly, in England; and the amusing account given of some of the company in his Memoranda,--of the various and characteristic ways in which the temperature of their manner towards him was affected by the cloud under which he now appeared,--was one of the passages of that Memoir it would have been most desirable, perhaps, to have preserved; though, from being a gallery of sketches, all personal and many satirical, but a small portion of it, if any, could have been presented to the public till a time when the originals had long left the scene, and any interest they might once have excited was gone with themselves. Besides the noble hostess herself, whose kindness to him, on this occasion, he never forgot, there was also one other person (then Miss M * *, now Lady K * *,) whose frank and fearless cordiality to him on that evening he most gratefully commemorated,--adding, in acknowledgment of a still more generous service, "She is a high-minded woman, and showed me more friendship than I deserved from her. I heard also of her having defended me in a large company, which _at that time_ required more courage and firmness than most women possess."

* * * * *

As we are now approaching so near the close of his London life, I shall here throw together the few remaining recollections of that period with which the gleanings of his Memorandum-book, so often referred to, furnish me.

"I liked the Dandies; they were always very civil to _me_, though in general they disliked literary people, and persecuted and mystified Madame de Staël, Lewis, * * * *, and the like, damnably. They persuaded Madame de Staël that A * * had a hundred thousand a year, &c. &c., till she praised him to his _face_ for his _beauty_! and made a set at him for * *, and a hundred fooleries besides. The truth is, that, though I gave up the business early, I had a tinge of dandyism[100] in my minority, and probably retained enough of it to conciliate the great ones at five-and-twenty. I had gamed, and drank, and taken my degrees in most dissipations, and having no pedantry, and not being overbearing, we ran quietly together. I knew them all more or less, and they made me a member of Watier's (a superb club at that time), being, I take it, the only literary man (except _two others_, both men of the world, Moore and Spenser,) in it. Our masquerade[101] was a grand one; so was the dandy-ball too, at the Argyle, but _that_ (the latter) was given by the four chiefs, B., M., A., and P., if I err not.

"I was a member of the Alfred, too, being elected while in Greece. It was pleasant; a little too sober and literary, and bored with * * and Sir Francis D'Ivernois; but one met Peel, and Ward, and Valentia, and many other pleasant or known people; and it was, upon the whole, a decent resource in a rainy day, in a dearth of parties, or parliament, or in an empty season.

"I belonged, or belong, to the following clubs or societies:--to the Alfred; to the Cocoa Tree; to Watier's; to the Union; to Racket's (at Brighton); to the Pugilistic; to the Owls, or "Fly-by-night;" to the _Cambridge_ Whig Club; to the Harrow Club, Cambridge; and to one or two private clubs; to the Hampden (political) Club; and to the Italian Carbonari, &c. &c., 'though last, _not least_.' I got into all these, and never stood for any other--at least to my own knowledge. I declined being proposed to several others, though pressed to stand candidate."

* * * *

"When I met H * * L * *, the gaoler, at Lord Holland's, before he sailed for St. Helena, the discourse turned upon the battle of Waterloo. I asked him whether the dispositions of Napoleon were those of a great general? He answered, disparagingly, 'that they were very simple.' I had always thought that a degree of simplicity was an ingredient of greatness."

* * * *

"I was much struck with the simplicity of Grattan's manners in private life; they were odd, but they were natural. Curran used to take him off, bowing to the very ground, and 'thanking God that he had no peculiarities of gesture or appearance,' in a way irresistibly ludicrous; and * * used to call him a 'Sentimental Harlequin.'"

* * * *

"Curran! Curran's the man who struck me most[102]. Such imagination! there never was any thing like it that ever I saw or heard of. His _published_ life--his published speeches, give you _no_ idea of the man--none at all. He was a _machine_ of imagination, as some one said that Piron was an epigrammatic machine.

"I did not see a great deal of Curran--only in 1813; but I met him at home (for he used to call on me), and in society, at Mackintosh's, Holland House, &c. &c. and he was wonderful even to me, who had seen many remarkable men of the time."

* * * *

"* * * (commonly called _long_ * * *, a very clever man, but odd) complained of our friend Scrope B. Davies, in riding, that he had a _stitch_ in his side. 'I don't wonder at it,' said Scrope, 'for you ride _like a tailor_.' Whoever had seen * * * on horseback, with his very tall figure on a small nag, would not deny the justice of the repartee."

* * * *

"When B * * was obliged (by that affair of poor M * *, who thence acquired the name of 'Dick the Dandy-killer'--it was about money, and debt, and all that) to retire to France, he knew no French, and having obtained a grammar for the purpose of study, our friend Scrope Davies was asked what progress Brummell had made in French; he responded, 'that Brummell had been stopped, like Buonaparte in Russia, by the Elements.'

"I have put this pun into Beppo, which is 'a fair exchange and no robbery; for Scrope made his fortune at several dinners (as he owned himself) by repeating occasionally, as his own, some of the buffooneries with which I had encountered him in the morning."

* * * *

"* * * is a good man, rhymes well (if not wisely), but is a bore. He seizes you by the button. One night of a rout, at Mrs. Hope's, he had fastened upon me, notwithstanding my symptoms of manifest distress, (for I was in love, and had just nicked a minute when neither mothers, nor husbands, nor rivals, nor gossips, were near my then idol, who was beautiful as the statues of the gallery where we stood at the time,)--* * *, I say, had seized upon me by the button and the heart-strings, and spared neither. W. Spencer, who likes fun, and don't dislike mischief, saw my case, and coming up to us both, took me by the hand, and pathetically bade me farewell; 'for,' said he, 'I see it is all over with you.' * * * then went away. _Sic me servavit Apollo._"

* * * *

"I remember seeing Blucher in the London assemblies, and never saw any thing of his age less venerable. With the voice and manners of a recruiting sergeant, he pretended to the honours of a hero,--just as if a stone could be worshipped because a man had stumbled over it."

[Footnote 100: Petrarch was, it appears, also in his youth, a Dandy. "Recollect," he says, in a letter to his brother, "the time, when we wore white habits, on which the least spot, or a plait ill placed, would have been a subject of grief; when our shoes were so tight we suffered martyrdom," &c.]

[Footnote 101: To this masquerade he went in the habit of a Caloyer, or Eastern monk,--a dress particularly well calculated to set off the beauty of his fine countenance, which was accordingly, that night, the subject of general admiration.]

[Footnote 102: In his Memoranda there were equally enthusiastic praises of Curran. "The riches," said he, "of his Irish imagination were exhaustless. I have heard that man speak more poetry than I have ever seen written,--though I saw him seldom and but occasionally. I saw him presented to Madame de Staël at Mackintosh's;--it was the grand confluence between the Rhone and the Saone, and they were both so d----d ugly, that I could not help wondering how the best intellects of France and Ireland could have taken up respectively such residences."

In another part, however, he was somewhat more fair to Madame de Staël's personal appearance:--"Her figure was not bad; her legs tolerable; her arms good. Altogether, I can conceive her having been a desirable woman, allowing a little imagination for her soul, and so forth. She would have made a great man."]

* * * * *

We now approach the close of this eventful period of his history. In a note to Mr. Rogers, written a short time before his departure for Ostend[103], he says,--"My sister is now with me, and leaves town to-morrow: we shall not meet again for some time, at all events--if ever; and, under these circumstances, I trust to stand excused to you and Mr. Sheridan for being unable to wait upon him this evening."

This was his last interview with his sister,--almost the only person from whom he now parted with regret; it being, as he said, doubtful _which_ had given him most pain, the enemies who attacked or the friends who condoled with him. Those beautiful and most tender verses, "Though the day of my destiny's over," were now his parting tribute to her[104] who, through all this bitter trial, had been his sole consolation; and, though known to most readers, so expressive are they of his wounded feelings at this crisis, that there are few, I think, who will object to seeing some stanzas of them here.

"Though the rock of my last hope is shiver'd,
And its fragments are sunk in the wave,
Though I feel that my soul is deliver'd
To pain--it shall not be its slave.
There is many a pang to pursue me:
They may crush, but they shall not contemn--
They may torture, but shall not subdue me--
'Tis of _thee_ that I think--not of them.

"Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
Though woman, thou didst not forsake,
Though lov'd, thou forborest to grieve me,
Though slander'd, thou never couldst shake,
Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me,
Though parted, it was not to fly,
Though watchful, 'twas not to defame me,
Nor mute, that the world might belie.

"From the wreck of the past, which hath perish'd,
Thus much I at least may recall,
It hath taught me that what I most cherish'd
Deserved to be dearest of all:
In the desert a fountain is springing,
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
And a bird in the solitude singing,
Which speaks to my spirit of _thee_.

On a scrap of paper, in his handwriting, dated April 14. 1816, I find the following list of his attendants, with an annexed outline of his projected tour:--"_Servants_, ---- Berger, a Swiss, William Fletcher, and Robert Rushton.--John William Polidori, M.D.--Switzerland, Flanders, Italy, and (perhaps) France." The two English servants, it will be observed, were the same "yeoman" and "page" who had set out with him on his youthful travels in 1809; and now,--for the second and last time taking leave of his country,--on the 25th of April he sailed for Ostend.

The circumstances under which Lord Byron now took leave of England were such as, in the case of any ordinary person, could not be considered otherwise than disastrous and humiliating. He had, in the course of one short year, gone through every variety of domestic misery;--had seen his hearth eight or nine times profaned by the visitations of the law, and been only saved from a prison by the privileges of his rank. He had alienated, as far as they had ever been his, the affections of his wife; and now, rejected by her, and condemned by the world, was betaking himself to an exile which had not even the dignity of appearing voluntary, as the excommunicating voice of society seemed to leave him no other resource. Had he been of that class of unfeeling and self-satisfied natures from whose hard surface the reproaches of others fall pointless, he might have found in insensibility a sure refuge against reproach; but, on the contrary, the same sensitiveness that kept him so awake to the applauses of mankind, rendered him, in a still more intense degree, alive to their censure. Even the strange, perverse pleasure which he felt in painting himself unamiably to the world did not prevent him from being both startled and pained when the world took him at his word; and, like a child in a mask before a looking-glass, the dark semblance which he had, half in sport, put on, when reflected back upon him from the mirror of public opinion, shocked even himself.

Thus surrounded by vexations, and thus deeply feeling them, it is not too much to say, that any other spirit but his own would have sunk under the struggle, and lost, perhaps irrecoverably, that level of self-esteem which alone affords a stand against the shocks of fortune. But in him,--furnished as was his mind with reserves of strength, waiting to be called out,--the very intensity of the pressure brought relief by the proportionate re-action which it produced. Had his transgressions and frailties been visited with no more than their due portion of punishment, there can be little doubt that a very different result would have ensued. Not only would such an excitement have been insufficient to waken up the new energies still dormant in him, but that consciousness of his own errors, which was for ever livelily present in his mind, would, under such circumstances, have been left, undisturbed by any unjust provocation, to work its usual softening and, perhaps, humbling influences on his spirit. But,--luckily, as it proved, for the further triumphs of his genius,--no such moderation was exercised. The storm of invective raised around him, so utterly out of proportion with his offences, and the base calumnies that were every where heaped upon his name, left to his wounded pride no other resource than in the same summoning up of strength, the same instinct of resistance to injustice, which had first forced out the energies of his youthful genius, and was now destined to give a still bolder and loftier range to its powers.

It was, indeed, not without truth, said of him by Goethe, that he was inspired by the Genius of Pain; for, from the first to the last of his agitated career, every fresh recruitment of his faculties was imbibed from that bitter source. His chief incentive, when a boy, to distinction was, as we have seen, that mark of deformity on his person, by an acute sense of which he was first stung into the ambition of being great.[105] As, with an evident reference to his own fate, he himself describes the feeling,--

"Deformity is daring.
It is its essence to o'ertake mankind
By heart and soul, and make itself the equal,--
Ay, the superior of the rest. There is
A spur in its halt movements, to become
All that the others cannot, in such things
As still are free to both, to compensate
For stepdame Nature's avarice at first."[106]

Then came the disappointment of his youthful passion,--the lassitude and remorse of premature excess,--the lone friendlessness of his entrance into life, and the ruthless assault upon his first literary efforts,--all links in that chain of trials, errors, and sufferings, by which his great mind was gradually and painfully drawn out;--all bearing their respective shares in accomplishing that destiny which seems to have decreed that the triumphal march of his genius should be over the waste and ruins of his heart. He appeared, indeed, himself to have had an instinctive consciousness that it was out of such ordeals his strength and glory were to arise, as his whole life was passed in courting agitation and difficulties; and whenever the scenes around him were too tame to furnish such excitement, he flew to fancy or memory for "thorns" whereon to "lean his breast."

But the greatest of his trials, as well as triumphs, was yet to come. The last stage of this painful, though glorious, course, in which fresh power was, at every step, wrung from out his soul, was that at which we are now arrived, his marriage and its results,--without which, dear as was the price paid by him in peace and character, his career would have been incomplete, and the world still left in ignorance of the full compass of his genius. It is, indeed, worthy of remark, that it was not till his domestic circumstances began to darken around him that his fancy, which had long been idle, again rose upon the wing,--both The Siege of Corinth and Parisina having been produced but a short time before the separation. How conscious he was, too, that the turmoil which followed was the true element of his restless spirit, may be collected from several passages of his letters at that period, in one of which he even mentions that his health had become all the better for the conflict:--"It is odd," he says, "but agitation or contest of any kind gives a rebound to my spirits, and sets me up for the time."

This buoyancy it was,--this irrepressible spring of mind,--that now enabled him to bear up not only against the assaults of others, but, what was still more difficult, against his own thoughts and feelings. The muster of all his mental resources to which, in self-defence, he had been driven, but opened to him the yet undreamed extent and capacity of his powers, and inspired him with a proud confidence that he should yet shine down these calumnious mists, convert censure to wonder, and compel even those who could not approve to admire.

The route which he now took, through Flanders and by the Rhine, is best traced in his own matchless verses, which leave a portion of their glory on all that they touch, and lend to scenes, already clothed with immortality by nature and by history, the no less durable associations of undying song. On his leaving Brussels, an incident occurred which would be hardly worth relating, were it not for the proof it affords of the malicious assiduity with which every thing to his disadvantage was now caught up and circulated in England. Mr. Pryce Gordon, a gentleman, who appears to have seen a good deal of him during his short stay at Brussels, thus relates the anecdote:--

"Lord Byron travelled in a huge coach, copied from the celebrated one of Napoleon, taken at Genappe, with additions. Besides a _lit de repos_, it contained a library, a plate-chest, and every apparatus for dining in it. It was not, however, found sufficiently capacious for his baggage and suite; and he purchased a calèche at Brussels for his servants. It broke down going to Waterloo, and I advised him to return it, as it seemed to be a crazy machine; but as he had made a deposit of forty Napoleons (certainly double its value), the honest Fleming would not consent to restore the cash, or take back his packing case, except under a forfeiture of thirty Napoleons. As his Lordship was to set out the following day, he begged me to make the best arrangement I could in the affair. He had no sooner taken his departure, than the worthy _sellier_ inserted a paragraph in 'The Brussels Oracle,' stating 'that the noble _milor Anglais_ had absconded with his calèche, value 1800 francs!'"

In the Courier of May 13., the Brussels account of this transaction is thus copied:--

"The following is an extract from the Dutch Mail, dated Brussels, May 8th,:--In the Journal de Belgique, of this date, is a petition from a coachmaker at Brussels to the president of the Tribunal de Premier Instance, stating that he has sold to Lord Byron a carriage, &c. for 1882 francs, of which he has received 847 francs, but that his Lordship, who is going away the same day, refuses to pay him the remaining 1035 francs; he begs permission to seize the carriage, &c. This being granted, he put it into the hands of a proper officer, who went to signify the above to Lord Byron, and was informed by the landlord of the hotel that his Lordship was gone without having given him any thing to pay the debt, on which the officer seized a chaise belonging to his Lordship as security for the amount."

It was not till the beginning of the following month that a contradiction of this falsehood, stating the real circumstances of the case, as above related, was communicated to the Morning Chronicle, in a letter from Brussels, signed "Pryce L. Gordon."

Another anecdote, of far more interest, has been furnished from the same respectable source. It appears that the two first stanzas of the verses relating to Waterloo, "Stop, for thy tread is on an empire's dust[107]," were written at Brussels, after a visit to that memorable field, and transcribed by Lord Byron, next morning, in an album belonging to the lady of the gentleman who communicates the anecdote.

"A few weeks after he had written them (says the relater), the well-known artist, R.R. Reinagle, a friend of mine, arrived in Brussels, when I invited him to dine with me and showed him the lines, requesting him to embellish them with an appropriate vignette to the following passage:--

"'Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew,
Then tore, with bloody beak, the fatal plain;
Pierced with the shafts of banded nations through,
Ambition's life, and labours, all were vain--
He wears the shatter'd links of the world's broken chain.'

Mr. Reinagle sketched with a pencil a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with his talons.

"I had occasion to write to his Lordship, and mentioned having got this clever artist to draw a vignette to his beautiful lines, and the liberty he had taken by altering the action of the eagle. In reply to this, he wrote to me,--'Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am; eagles, and all birds of prey, attack with their talons, and not with their beaks, and I have altered the line thus:--

"'Then tore, with bloody talon, the rent plain.'

This is, I think, a better line, besides its poetical justice.' I need hardly add, when I communicated this flattering compliment to the painter, that he was highly gratified."

From Brussels the noble traveller pursued his course along the Rhine,--a line of road which he has strewed over with all the riches of poesy; and, arriving at Geneva, took up his abode at the well-known hotel, Sécheron. After a stay of a few weeks at this place, he removed to a villa, in the neighbourhood, called Diodati, very beautifully situated on the high banks of the Lake, where he established his residence for the remainder of the summer.

I shall now give the few letters in my possession written by him at this time, and then subjoin to them such anecdotes as I have been able to collect relative to the same period.

[Footnote 103: Dated April 16.]

[Footnote 104: It will be seen, from a subsequent letter, that the first stanza of that most cordial of Farewells, "My boat is on the shore," was also written at this time.]

[Footnote 105: In one of his letters to Mr. Hunt, he declares it to be his own opinion that "an addiction to poetry is very generally the result of 'an uneasy mind in an uneasy body;' disease or deformity," he adds, "have been the attendants of many of our best. Collins mad--Chatterton, _I_ think, mad--Cowper mad--Pope crooked--Milton blind," &c. &c.]

[Footnote 106: The Deformed Transformed.]

[Footnote 107: Childe Harold, Canto iii. stanza 17.]

* * * * *


"Ouchy, near Lausanne, June 27. 1816.

"I am thus far (kept by stress of weather) on my way back to
Diodati (near Geneva) from a voyage in my boat round the Lake; and
I enclose you a sprig of _Gibbons acacia_ and some rose-leaves from
his garden, which, with part of his house, I have just seen. You
will find honourable mention, in his Life, made of this 'acacia,'
when he walked out on the night of concluding his history. The
garden and _summer-house_, where he composed, are neglected, and
the last utterly decayed; but they still show it as his 'cabinet,'
and seem perfectly aware of his memory.

"My route, through Flanders, and by the Rhine, to Switzerland, was
all I expected, and more.

"I have traversed all Rousseau's ground with the Heloise before me,
and am struck to a degree that I cannot express with the force and
accuracy of his descriptions and the beauty of their reality.
Meillerie, Clarens, and Vevay, and the Château de Chillon, are
places of which I shall say little, because all I could say must
fall short of the impressions they stamp.

"Three days ago, we were most nearly wrecked in a squall off
Meillerie, and driven to shore. I ran no risk, being so near the
rocks, and a good swimmer; but our party were wet, and incommoded a
good deal. The wind was strong enough to blow down some trees, as
we found at landing: however, all is righted and right, and we are
thus far on our return.

"Dr. Polidori is not here, but at Diodati, left behind in hospital
with a sprained ankle, which he acquired in tumbling from a
wall--he can't jump.

"I shall be glad to hear you are well, and have received for me
certain helms and swords, sent from Waterloo, which I rode over
with pain and pleasure.

"I have finished a third canto of Childe Harold (consisting of one
hundred and seventeen stanzas), longer than either of the two
former, and in some parts, it may be, better; but of course on that
I cannot determine. I shall send it by the first safe-looking
opportunity. Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"Diodati, near Geneva, July 22. 1816.

"I wrote to you a few weeks ago, and Dr. Polidori received your
letter; but the packet has not made its appearance, nor the
epistle, of which you gave notice therein. I enclose you an
advertisement[108], which was copied by Dr. Polidori, and which
appears to be about the most impudent imposition that ever issued
from Grub Street. I need hardly say that I know nothing of all this
trash, nor whence it may spring,--'Odes to St. Helena,'--'Farewells
to England,' &c. &c.--and if it can be disavowed, or is worth
disavowing, you have full authority to do so. I never wrote, nor
conceived, a line on any thing of the kind, any more than of two
other things with which I was saddled--something about 'Gaul,' and
another about 'Mrs. La Valette;' and as to the 'Lily of France,' I
should as soon think of celebrating a turnip. 'On the Morning of my
Daughter's Birth,' I had other things to think of than verses; and
should never have dreamed of such an invention, till Mr. Johnston
and his pamphlet's advertisement broke in upon me with a new light
on the crafts and subtleties of the demon of printing,--or rather

"I did hope that some succeeding lie would have superseded the
thousand and one which were accumulated during last winter. I can
forgive whatever may be said of or against me, but not what they
make me say or sing for myself. It is enough to answer for what I
have written; but it were too much for Job himself to bear what one
has not. I suspect that when the Arab Patriarch wished that his
'enemy had written a book,' he did not anticipate his own name on
the title-page. I feel quite as much bored with this foolery as it
deserves, and more than I should be if I had not a headach.

"Of Glenarvon, Madame de Staël told me (ten days ago, at Copet)
marvellous and grievous things; but I have seen nothing of it but
the motto, which promises amiably 'for us and for our tragedy.' If
such be the posy, what should the ring be? 'a name to all
succeeding[109],' &c. The generous moment selected for the
publication is probably its kindest accompaniment, and--truth to
say--the time _was_ well chosen. I have not even a guess at the
contents, except from the very vague accounts I have heard.

"I ought to be ashamed of the egotism of this letter. It is not my
fault altogether, and I shall be but too happy to drop the subject
when others will allow me.

"I am in tolerable plight, and in my last letter told you what I
had done in the way of all rhyme. I trust that you prosper, and
that your authors are in good condition. I should suppose your stud
has received some increase by what I hear. Bertram must be a good
horse; does he run next meeting? I hope you will beat the Row.
Yours alway," &c.

[Footnote 108: The following was the advertisement enclosed:--

"Neatly printed and hot-pressed, 2s. 6d.

"Lord Byron's Farewell to England, with Three other Poems--Ode to
St. Helena, to My Daughter on her Birthday, and To the Lily of

"Printed by J. Johnston, Cheapside, 335.; Oxford, 9.

"The above beautiful Poems will be read with the most lively
interest, as it is probable they will be the last of the author's
that will appear in England." ]

[Footnote 109: The motto is--

He left a name to all succeeding times,
Link'd with one virtue and a thousand crimes." ]

* * * * *


"Diodati, near Geneva, July 29. 1816.

"Do you recollect a book, Mathieson's Letters, which you lent me,
which I have still, and yet hope to return to your library? Well, I
have encountered at Copet and elsewhere Gray's correspondent, that
same Bonstetten, to whom I lent the translation of his
correspondent's epistles, for a few days; but all he could remember
of Gray amounts to little, except that he was the most 'melancholy
and gentlemanlike' of all possible poets. Bonstetten himself is a
fine and very lively old man, and much esteemed by his compatriots;
he is also a _littérateur_ of good repute, and all his friends have
a mania of addressing to him volumes of letters--Mathieson, Muller
the historian, &c.&c. He is a good deal at Copet, where I have met
him a few times. All there are well, except Rocca, who, I am sorry
to say, looks in a very bad state of health. Schlegel is in high
force, and Madame as brilliant as ever.

"I came here by the Netherlands and the Rhine route, and Basle,
Berne, Moral, and Lausanne. I have circumnavigated the Lake, and go
to Chamouni with the first fair weather; but really we have had
lately such stupid mists, fogs, and perpetual density, that one
would think Castlereagh had the Foreign Affairs of the kingdom of
Heaven also on his hands. I need say nothing to you of these parts,
you having traversed them already. I do not think of Italy before
September. I have read Glenarvon, and have also seen Ben.
Constant's Adolphe, and his preface, denying the real people. It is
a work which leaves an unpleasant impression, but very consistent
with the consequences of not being in love, which is, perhaps, as
disagreeable as any thing, except being so. I doubt, however,
whether all such _liens_ (as he calls them) terminate so wretchedly
as his hero and heroine's.

"There is a third Canto (a longer than either of the former) of
Childe Harold finished, and some smaller things,--among them a
story on the Château de Chillon; I only wait a good opportunity to
transmit them to the grand Murray, who, I hope, flourishes. Where
is Moore? Why is he not out? My love to him, and my perfect
consideration and remembrances to all, particularly to Lord and
Lady Holland, and to your Duchess of Somerset.

"Ever, &c.

"P.S. I send you a _fac-simile_, a note of Bonstetten's, thinking
you might like to see the hand of Gray's correspondent."

* * * * *


"Diodati, Sept. 29. 1816.

"I am very much flattered by Mr. Gifford's good opinion of the
MSS., and shall be still more so if it answers your expectations
and justifies his kindness. I liked it myself, but that must go for
nothing. The feelings with which most of it was written need not be
envied me. With regard to the price, _I_ fixed _none_, but left it
to Mr. Kinnaird, Mr. Shelley, and yourself, to arrange. Of course,
they would do their best; and as to yourself, I knew you would make
no difficulties. But I agree with Mr. Kinnaird perfectly, that the
concluding _five hundred_ should be only _conditional_; and for my
own sake, I wish it to be added, only in case of your selling a
certain number, _that number_ to be fixed by _yourself_. I hope
this is fair. In every thing of this kind there must be risk; and
till that be past, in one way or the other, I would not willingly
add to it, particularly in times like the present. And pray always
recollect that nothing could mortify me more--no failure on my own
part--than having made you lose by any purchase from me.

"The Monody[110] was written by request of Mr. Kinnaird for the
theatre. I did as well as I could; but where I have not my choice
I pretend to answer for nothing. Mr. Hobhouse and myself are just
returned from a journey of lakes and mountains. We have been to the
Grindelwald, and the Jungfrau, and stood on the summit of the
Wengen Alp; and seen torrents of nine hundred feet in fall, and
glaciers of all dimensions: we have heard shepherds' pipes, and
avalanches, and looked on the clouds foaming up from the valleys
below us, like the spray of the ocean of hell. Chamouni, and that
which it inherits, we saw a month ago: but though Mont Blanc is
higher, it is not equal in wildness to the Jungfrau, the Eighers,
the Shreckhorn, and the Rose Glaciers.

"We set off for Italy next week. The road is within this month
infested with bandits, but we must take our chance and such
precautions as are requisite.

"Ever, &c.

"P.S. My best remembrances to Mr. Gifford. Pray say all that can be
said from me to him.

"I am sorry that Mr. Maturin did not like Phillips's picture. I
thought it was reckoned a good one. If he had made the speech on
the original, perhaps he would have been more readily forgiven by
the proprietor and the painter of the portrait * * *."

[Footnote 110: A Monody on the death of Sheridan, which was spoken at Drury Lane theatre.]

* * * * *


"Diodati, Sept. 30. 1816.

"I answered your obliging letters yesterday: to-day the Monody
arrived with its _title_-page, which is, I presume, a separate
publication. 'The request of a friend:'--

'Obliged by hunger and request of friends.'

I will request you to expunge that same, unless you please to add,
'by a person of quality,' or 'of wit and honour about town.' Merely
say, 'written to be spoken at Drury Lane.' To-morrow I dine at
Copet. Saturday I strike tents for Italy. This evening, on the lake
in my boat with Mr. Hobhouse, the pole which sustains the mainsail
slipped in tacking, and struck me so violently on one of my legs
(the _worst_, luckily) as to make me do a foolish thing, viz. to
_faint_--a downright swoon; the thing must have jarred some nerve
or other, for the bone is not injured, and hardly painful (it is
six hours since), and cost Mr. Hobhouse some apprehension and much
sprinkling of water to recover me. The sensation was a very odd
one: I never had but two such before, once from a cut on the head
from a stone, several years ago, and once (long ago also) in
falling into a great wreath of snow;--a sort of grey giddiness
first, then nothingness, and a total loss of memory on beginning to
recover. The last part is not disagreeable, if one did not find it

"You want the original MSS. Mr. Davies has the first fair copy in
my own hand, and I have the rough composition here, and will send
or save it for you, since you wish it.

"With regard to your new literary project, if any thing falls in
the way which will, to the best of my judgment, suit you, I will
send you what I can. At present I must lay by a little, having
pretty well exhausted myself in what I have sent you. Italy or
Dalmatia and another summer may, or may not, set me off again. I
have no plans, and am nearly as indifferent what may come as where
I go. I shall take Felicia Heman's Restoration, &c. with me; it is
a good poem--very.

"Pray repeat my best thanks and remembrances to Mr. Gifford for all
his trouble and good nature towards me.

"Do not fancy me laid up, from the beginning of this scrawl. I tell
you the accident for want of better to say; but it is over, and I
am only wondering what the deuce was the matter with me.

"I have lately been over all the Bernese Alps and their lakes. I
think many of the scenes (some of which were not those usually
frequented by the English) finer than Chamouni, which I visited
some time before. I have been to Clarens again, and crossed the
mountains behind it: of this tour I kept a short journal for my
sister, which I sent yesterday in three letters. It is not all for
perusal; but if you like to hear about the romantic part, she will,
I dare say, show you what touches upon the rocks, &c.

"Christabel--I won't have any one sneer at Christabel: it is a fine
wild poem.

"Madame de Staël wishes to see the Antiquary, and I am going to
take it to her to-morrow. She has made Copet as agreeable as
society and talent can make any place on earth. Yours ever,


* * * * *

From the Journal mentioned in the foregoing letter, I am enabled to give the following extracts:--


"September 18. 1816.

"Yesterday, September 17th, I set out with Mr. Hobhouse on an excursion of some days to the mountains.

"September 17.

"Rose at five; left Diodati about seven, in one of the country carriages (a char-à-banc), our servants on horseback. Weather very fine; the lake calm and clear; Mont Blanc and the Aiguille of Argentières both very distinct; the borders of the lake beautiful. Reached Lausanne before sunset; stopped and slept at ----. Went to bed at nine: slept till five o'clock.

"September 18.

"Called by my courier; got up. Hobhouse walked on before. A mile from Lausanne, the road overflowed by the lake; got on horseback and rode till within a mile of Vevay. The colt young, but went very well. Overtook Hobhouse, and resumed the carriage, which is an open one. Stopped at Vevay two hours (the second time I had visited it); walked to the church; view from the churchyard superb; within it General Ludlow (the regicide's) monument--black marble--long inscription--Latin, but simple; he was an exile two-and-thirty-years--one of King Charles's judges. Near him Broughton (who read King Charles's sentence to Charles Stuart) is buried, with a queer and rather canting, but still a republican, inscription. Ludlow's house shown; it retains still its inscription--'Omne solum forti patria.' Walked down to the Lake side; servants, carriage, saddle-horses--all set off and left us _plantés là_, by some mistake, and we walked on after them towards Clarens: Hobhouse ran on before, and overtook them at last. Arrived the second time (first time was by water) at Clarens. Went to Chillon through scenery worthy of I know not whom; went over the Castle of Chillon again. On our return met an English party in a carriage; a lady in it fast asleep--fast asleep in the most anti-narcotic spot in the world--excellent! I remember, at Chamouni, in the very eyes of Mont Blanc, hearing another woman, English also, exclaim to her party, 'Did you ever see any thing more _rural_?'--as if it was Highgate, or Hampstead, or Brompton, or Hayes,--'Rural!' quotha.--Rocks, pines, torrents, glaciers, clouds, and summits of eternal snow far above them--and 'rural!'

"After a slight and short dinner we visited the Chateau de Clarens; an English woman has rented it recently (it was not let when I saw it first); the roses are gone with their summer; the family out, but the servants desired us to walk over the interior of the mansion. Saw on the table of the saloon Blair's Sermons and somebody else's (I forget who's) sermons, and a set of noisy children. Saw all worth seeing, and then descended to the 'Bosquet de Julie,' &c. &c.; our guide full of Rousseau, whom he is eternally confounding with St. Preux, and mixing the man and the book. Went again as far as Chillon to revisit the little torrent from the hill behind it. Sunset reflected in the lake. Have to get up at five to-morrow to cross the mountains on horseback; carriage to be sent round; lodged at my old cottage--hospitable and comfortable; tired with a longish ride on the colt, and the subsequent jolting of the char-à-banc, and my scramble in the hot sun.

"Mem. The corporal who showed the wonders of Chillon was as drunk as Blucher, and (to my mind) as great a man; he was deaf also, and thinking every one else so, roared out the legends of the castle so fearfully that H. got out of humour. However, we saw things from the gallows to the dungeons (the _potence_ and the _cachots_), and returned to Clarens with more freedom than belonged to the fifteenth century.

"September 19.

"Rose at five. Crossed the mountains to Montbovon on horseback, and on mules, and, by dint of scrambling, on foot also; the whole route beautiful as a dream, and now to me almost as indistinct. I am so tired;--for though healthy, I have not the strength I possessed but a few years ago. At Montbovon we breakfasted; afterwards, on a steep ascent dismounted; tumbled down; cut a finger open; the baggage also got loose and fell down a ravine, till stopped by a large tree; recovered baggage; horse tired and drooping; mounted mule. At the approach of the summit of Dent Jument[111] dismounted again with Hobhouse and all the party. Arrived at a lake in the very bosom of the mountains; left our quadrupeds with a shepherd, and ascended farther; came to some snow in patches, upon which my forehead's perspiration fell like rain, making the same dints as in a sieve; the chill of the wind and the snow turned me giddy, but I scrambled on and upwards. Hobhouse went to the highest pinnacle; I did not, but paused within a few yards (at an opening of the cliff). In coming down, the guide tumbled three times; I fell a laughing, and tumbled too--the descent luckily soft, though steep and slippery: Hobhouse also fell, but nobody hurt. The whole of the mountains superb. A shepherd on a very steep and high cliff playing upon his _pipe_; very different from _Arcadia_, where I saw the pastors with a long musket instead of a crook, and pistols in their girdles. Our Swiss shepherd's pipe was sweet, and his tune agreeable. I saw a cow strayed; am told that they often break their necks on and over the crags. Descended to Montbovon; pretty scraggy village, with a wild river and a wooden bridge. Hobhouse went to fish--caught one. Our carriage not come; our horses, mules, &c. knocked up; ourselves fatigued; but so much the better--I shall sleep.

"The view from the highest points of to-day's journey comprised on one side the greatest part of Lake Leman; on the other, the valleys and mountain of the Canton of Fribourg, and an immense plain, with the lakes of Neuchâtel and Morat, and all which the borders of the Lake of Geneva inherit; we had both sides of the Jura before us in one point of view, with Alps in plenty. In passing a ravine, the guide recommended strenuously a quickening of pace, as the stones fall with great rapidity and occasional damage; the advice is excellent, but, like most good advice, impracticable, the road being so rough that neither mules, nor mankind, nor horses, can make any violent progress. Passed without fractures or menace thereof.

"The music of the cow's bells (for their wealth, like the patriarchs', is cattle) in the pastures, which reach to a height far above any mountains in Britain, and the shepherds shouting to us from crag to crag, and playing on their reeds where the steeps appeared almost inaccessible, with the surrounding scenery, realised all that I have ever heard or imagined of a pastoral existence:--much more so than Greece or Asia Minor, for there we are a little too much of the sabre and musket order, and if there is a crook in one hand, you are sure to see a gun in the other:--but this was pure and unmixed--solitary, savage, and patriarchal. As we went, they played the 'Rans des Vaches' and other airs, by way of farewell. I have lately repeopled my mind with nature.

[Footnote 111: Dent de Jaman.]

"September 20.

Up at six; off at eight. The whole of this day's journey at an average of between from 2700 to 3000 feet above the level of the sea. This valley, the longest, narrowest, and considered the finest of the Alps, little traversed by travellers. Saw the bridge of La Roche. The bed of the river very low and deep, between immense rocks, and rapid as anger;--a man and mule said to have tumbled over without damage. The people looked free, and happy, and _rich_ (which last implies neither of the former); the cows superb; a bull nearly leapt into the char-à-banc--'agreeable companion in a post-chaise;' goats and sheep very thriving. A mountain with enormous glaciers to the right--the Klitzgerberg; further on, the Hockthorn--nice names--so soft!--_Stockhorn_, I believe, very lofty and scraggy, patched with snow only; no glaciers on it, but some good epaulettes of clouds.

"Passed the boundaries, out of Vaud and into Berne canton; French exchanged for bad German; the district famous for cheese, liberty, property, and no taxes. Hobhouse went to fish--caught none. Strolled to the river; saw boy and kid; kid followed him like a dog; kid could not get over a fence, and bleated piteously; tried myself to help kid, but nearly overset both self and kid into the river. Arrived here about six in the evening. Nine o'clock--going to bed; not tired to day, but hope to sleep, nevertheless.

"September 21.

"Off early. The valley of Simmenthal as before. Entrance to the plain of Thoun very narrow; high rocks, wooded to the top; river; new mountains, with fine glaciers. Lake of Thoun; extensive plain with a girdle of Alps. Walked down to the Chateau de Schadau; view along the lake; crossed the river in a boat rowed by women. Thoun a very pretty town. The whole day's journey Alpine and proud.

"September 22.

"Left Thoun in a boat, which carried us the length of the lake in three hours. The lake small; but the banks fine. Rocks down to the water's edge. Landed at Newhause; passed Interlachen; entered upon a range of scenes beyond all description or previous conception. Passed a rock; inscription--two brothers--one murdered the other; just the place for it. After a variety of windings came to an enormous rock. Arrived at the foot of the mountain (the Jungfrau, that is, the Maiden); glaciers; torrents; one of these torrents _nine hundred feet_ in height of visible descent. Lodged at the curate's. Set out to see the valley; heard an avalanche fall, like thunder; glaciers enormous; storm came on, thunder, lightning, hail; all in perfection, and beautiful. I was on horseback; guide wanted to carry my cane; I was going to give it him, when I recollected that it was a sword-stick, and I thought the lightning might be attracted towards him; kept it myself; a good deal encumbered with it, as it was too heavy for a whip, and the horse was stupid, and stood with every other peal. Got in, not very wet, the cloak being stanch. Hobhouse wet through; Hobhouse took refuge in cottage; sent man, umbrella, and cloak (from the curate's when I arrived) after him. Swiss curate's house very good indeed--much better than most English vicarages. It is immediately opposite the torrent I spoke of. The torrent is in shape curving over the rock, like the _tail_ of a white horse streaming in the wind, such as it might be conceived would be that of the 'pale horse' on which Death is mounted in the Apocalypse.[112] It is neither mist nor water, but a something between both; its immense height (nine hundred feet) gives it a wave or curve, a spreading here or condensation there, wonderful and indescribable. I think, upon the whole, that this day has been better than any of this present excursion.

[Footnote 112: It is interesting to observe the use to which he afterwards converted these hasty memorandums in his sublime drama of Manfred.

"It is not noon--the sunbow's rays still arch
The torrent with the many hues of heaven,
And roll the sheeted silver's waving column
O'er the crag's headlong perpendicular,
And fling its lines of foaming light along,
_And to and fro, like the pale coursers tail,
The Giant steed, to be bestrode by Death
As told in the Apocalypse._" ]

"September 23.

"Before ascending the mountain, went to the torrent (seven in the morning) again; the sun upon it, forming a _rainbow_ of the lower part of all colours, but principally purple and gold; the bow moving as you move; I never saw any thing like this; it is only in the sunshine. Ascended the Wengen mountain; at noon reached a valley on the summit; left the horses, took off my coat, and went to the summit, seven thousand feet (English feet) above the level of the _sea_, and about five thousand above the valley we left in the morning. On one side, our view comprised the Jungfrau, with all her glaciers; then the Dent d'Argent, shining like truth; then the Little Giant (the Kleine Eigher); and the Great Giant (the Grosse Eigher), and last, not least, the Wetterhorn. The height of Jungfrau is 13,000 feet above the sea, 11,000 above the valley; she is the highest of this range. Heard the avalanches falling every five minutes nearly. From whence we stood, on the Wengen Alp, we had all these in view on one side; on the other, the clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the ocean of hell, during a spring tide--it was white, and sulphury, and immeasurably deep in appearance.[113] The side we ascended was (of course) not of so precipitous a nature; but on arriving at the summit, we looked down upon the other side upon a boiling sea of cloud, dashing against the crags on which we stood (these crags on one side quite perpendicular). Stayed a quarter of an hour; begun to descend; quite clear from cloud on that side of the mountain. In passing the masses of snow, I made a snowball and pelted Hobhouse with it.

"Got down to our horses again; ate something; remounted; heard the avalanches still; came to a morass; Hobhouse dismounted to get over well; I tried to pass my horse over; the horse sunk up to the chin, and of course he and I were in the mud together; bemired, but not hurt; laughed, and rode on. Arrived at the Grindelwald; dined; mounted again, and rode to the higher glacier--like _a frozen hurricane_.[114] Starlight, beautiful, but a devil of a path! Never mind, got safe in; a little lightning; but the whole of the day as fine in point of weather as the day on which Paradise was made. Passed _whole woods of withered pines, all withered_; trunks stripped and barkless, branches lifeless; done by a single winter[115],--their appearance reminded me of me and my family.

[Footnote 113:

"Ye _avalanches_, whom a breath draws down
In mountainous o'erwhelming, come and crush me!
_I hear ye momently above, beneath,
Crash with a frequent conflict._ * * *
The mists boil up around the glaciers; _clouds
Rise curling_ fast beneath me, white and sulphury,
_Like foam from the roused ocean of deep hell!_"

[Footnote 114:

"O'er the savage sea,
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
We skim its rugged breakers, which put on
The aspect of a tumbling _tempest_'s foam,
_Frozen in a moment._"

[Footnote 115:

"Like these _blasted pines,
Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless._"

"September 24.

"Set off at seven; up at five. Passed the black glacier, the mountain Wetterhorn on the right; crossed the Scheideck mountain; came to the _Rose_ glacier, said to be the largest and finest in Switzerland, _I_ think the Bossons glacier at Chamouni as fine; Hobhouse does not. Came to the Reichenbach waterfall, two hundred feet high; halted to rest the horses. Arrived in the valley of Overland; rain came on; drenched a little; only four hours' rain, however, in eight days. Came to the lake of Brientz, then to the town of Brientz; changed. In the evening, four Swiss peasant girls of Oberhasli came and sang the airs of their country; two of the voices beautiful--the tunes also: so wild and original, and at the same time of great sweetness. The singing is over; but below stairs I hear the notes of a fiddle, which bode no good to my night's rest; I shall go down and see the dancing.

"September 25.

"The whole town of Brientz were apparently gathered together in the rooms below; pretty music and excellent waltzing; none but peasants; the dancing much better than in England; the English can't waltz, never could, never will. One man with his pipe in his mouth, but danced as well as the others; some other dances in pairs and in fours, and very good. I went to bed, but the revelry continued below late and early. Brientz but a village. Rose early. Embarked on the lake of Brientz, rowed by the women in a long boat; presently we put to shore, and another woman jumped in. It seems it is the custom here for the boats to be _manned_ by _women_: for of five men and three women in our bark, all the women took an oar, and but one man.

"Got to Interlachen in three hours; pretty lake; not so large as that of Thoun. Dined at Interlachen. Girl gave me some flowers, and made me a speech in German, of which I know nothing; I do not know whether the speech was pretty, but as the woman was, I hope so. Re-embarked on the lake of Thoun; fell asleep part of the way; sent our horses round; found people on the shore, blowing up a rock with gunpowder; they blew it up near our boat, only telling us a minute before;--mere stupidity, but they might have broken our noddles. Got to Thoun in the evening; the weather has been tolerable the whole day. But as the wild part of our tour is finished, it don't matter to us; in all the desirable part, we have been most lucky in warmth and clearness of atmosphere.

"September 26.

"Being out of the mountains, my journal must be as flat as my journey. From Thoun to Berne, good road, hedges, villages, industry, property, and all sorts of tokens of insipid civilisation. From Berne to Fribourg; different canton; Catholics; passed a field of battle; Swiss beat the French in one of the late wars against the French republic. Bought a dog. The greater part of this tour has been on horseback, on foot, and on mule.

"September 28.

"Saw the tree planted in honour of the battle of Morat; three hundred and forty years old; a good deal decayed. Left Fribourg, but first saw the cathedral; high tower. Overtook the baggage of the nuns of La Trappe, who are removing to Normandy; afterwards a coach, with a quantity of nuns in it. Proceeded along the banks of the lake of Neuchâtel; very pleasing and soft, but not so mountainous--at least, the Jura, not appearing so, after the Bernese Alps. Reached Yverdun in the dusk; a long line of large trees on the border of the lake; fine and sombre; the auberge nearly full--a German princess and suite; got rooms.

"September 29.

"Passed through a fine and flourishing country, but not mountainous. In the evening reached Aubonne (the entrance and bridge something like that of Durham), which commands by far the fairest view of the Lake of Geneva; twilight; the moon on the lake; a grove on the height, and of very noble trees. Here Tavernier (the eastern traveller) bought (or built) the château, because the site resembled and equalled that of _Erivan_, a frontier city of Persia; here he finished his voyages, and I this little excursion,--for I am within a few hours of Diodati, and have little more to see, and no more to say."

With the following melancholy passage this Journal concludes:--

"In the weather for this tour (of 13 days), I have been very fortunate--fortunate in a companion (Mr. H.)--fortunate in our prospects, and exempt from even the little petty accidents and delays which often render journeys in a less wild country disappointing. I was disposed to be pleased. I am a lover of nature and an admirer of beauty. I can bear fatigue and welcome privation, and have seen some of the noblest views in the world. But in all this--the recollection of bitterness, and more especially of recent and more home desolation, which must accompany me through life, have preyed upon me here; and neither the music of the shepherd, the crashing of the avalanche, nor the torrent, the mountain, the glacier, the forest, nor the cloud, have for one moment lightened the weight upon my heart, nor enabled me to lose my own wretched identity in the majesty, and the power, and the glory, around, above, and beneath me."

* * * * *

Among the inmates at Sécheron, on his arrival at Geneva, Lord Byron had found Mr. and Mrs. Shelley, and a female relative of the latter, who had about a fortnight before taken up their residence at this hotel. It was the first time that Lord Byron and Mr. Shelley ever met; though, long before, when the latter was quite a youth,--being the younger of the two by four or five years,--he had sent to the noble poet a copy of his Queen Mab, accompanied by a letter, in which, after detailing at full length all the accusations he had heard brought against his character, he added, that, should these charges not have been true, it would make him happy to be honoured with his acquaintance. The book alone, it appears, reached its destination,--the letter having miscarried,--and Lord Byron was known to have expressed warm admiration of the opening lines of the poem.

There was, therefore, on their present meeting at Geneva, no want of disposition towards acquaintance on either side, and an intimacy almost immediately sprung up between them. Among the tastes common to both, that for boating was not the least strong; and in this beautiful region they had more than ordinary temptations to indulge in it. Every evening, during their residence under the same roof at Sécheron, they embarked, accompanied by the ladies and Polidori, on the Lake; and to the feelings and fancies inspired by these excursions, which were not unfrequently prolonged into the hours of moonlight, we are indebted for some of those enchanting stanzas[116] in which the poet has given way to his passionate love of Nature so fervidly.

"There breathes a living fragrance from the shore
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drips the light drop of the suspended oar.
* * * * *
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy,--for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away."

A person who was of these parties has thus described to me one of their evenings:--"When the _bise_ or north-east wind blows, the waters of the Lake are driven towards the town, and with the stream of the Rhone, which sets strongly in the same direction, combine to make a very rapid current towards the harbour. Carelessly, one evening, we had yielded to its course, till we found ourselves almost driven on the piles; and it required all our rowers' strength to master the tide. The waves were high and inspiriting--we were all animated by our contest with the elements. 'I will sing you an Albanian song,' cried Lord Byron; 'now, be sentimental and give me all your attention.' It was a strange, wild howl that he gave forth; but such as, he declared, was an exact imitation of the savage Albanian mode,--laughing, the while, at our disappointment, who had expected a wild Eastern melody."

Sometimes the party landed, for a walk upon the shore, and, on such occasions, Lord Byron would loiter behind the rest, lazily trailing his sword-stick along, and moulding, as he went, his thronging thoughts into shape. Often too, when in the boat, he would lean abstractedly over the side, and surrender himself up, in silence, to the same absorbing task.

The conversation of Mr. Shelley, from the extent of his poetic reading, and the strange, mystic speculations into which his system of philosophy led him, was of a nature strongly to arrest and interest the attention of Lord Byron, and to turn him away from worldly associations and topics into more abstract and untrodden ways of thought. As far as contrast, indeed, is an enlivening ingredient of such intercourse, it would be difficult to find two persons more formed to whet each other's faculties by discussion, as on few points of common interest between them did their opinions agree; and that this difference had its root deep in the conformation of their respective minds needs but a glance through the rich, glittering labyrinth of Mr. Shelley's pages to assure us.

In Lord Byron, the real was never forgotten in the fanciful. However Imagination had placed her whole realm at his disposal, he was no less a man of this world than a ruler of hers; and, accordingly, through the airiest and most subtile creations of his brain still the life-blood of truth and reality circulates. With Shelley it was far otherwise;--his fancy (and he had sufficient for a whole generation of poets) was the medium through which he saw all things, his facts as well as his theories; and not only the greater part of his poetry, but the political and philosophical speculations in which he indulged, were all distilled through the same over-refining and unrealising alembic. Having started as a teacher and reformer of the world, at an age when he could know nothing of the world but from fancy, the persecution he met with on the threshold of this boyish enterprise but confirmed him in his first paradoxical views of human ills and their remedies; and, instead of waiting to take lessons of authority and experience, he, with a courage, admirable had it been but wisely directed, made war upon both. From this sort of self-willed start in the world, an impulse was at once given to his opinions and powers directly contrary, it would seem, to their natural bias, and from which his life was too short to allow him time to recover. With a mind, by nature, fervidly pious, he yet refused to acknowledge a Supreme Providence, and substituted some airy abstraction of "Universal Love" in its place. An aristocrat by birth and, as I understand, also in appearance and manners, he was yet a leveller in politics, and to such an Utopian extent as to be, seriously, the advocate of a community of property. With a delicacy and even romance of sentiment, which lends such grace to some of his lesser poems, he could notwithstanding contemplate a change in the relations of the sexes, which would have led to results fully as gross as his arguments for it were fastidious and refined; and though benevolent and generous to an extent that seemed to exclude all idea of selfishness, he yet scrupled not, in the pride of system, to disturb wantonly the faith of his fellowmen, and, without substituting any equivalent good in its place, to rob the wretched of a hope, which, even if false, would be worth all this world's best truths.

Upon no point were the opposite tendencies of the two friends,--to long-established opinions and matter of fact on one side, and to all that was most innovating and visionary on the other,--more observable than in their notions on philosophical subjects; Lord Byron being, with the great bulk of mankind, a believer in the existence of Matter and Evil, while Shelley so far refined upon the theory of Berkeley as not only to resolve the whole of Creation into spirit, but to add also to this immaterial system some pervading principle, some abstract non-entity of Love and Beauty, of which--as a substitute, at least, for Deity--the philosophic bishop had never dreamed. On such subjects, and on poetry, their conversation generally turned; and, as might be expected, from Lord Byron's facility in receiving new impressions, the opinions of his companion were not altogether without some influence on his mind. Here and there, among those fine bursts of passion and description that abound in the third Canto of Childe Harold, may be discovered traces of that mysticism of meaning,--that sublimity, losing itself in its own vagueness,--which so much characterised the writings of his extraordinary friend; and in one of the notes we find Shelley's favourite Pantheism of Love thus glanced at:--"But this is not all: the feeling with which all around Clarens and the opposite rocks of Meillerie is invested, is of a still higher and more comprehensive order than the mere sympathy with individual passion; it is a sense of the existence of love in its most extended and sublime capacity, and of our own participation of its good and of its glory: it is the great principle of the universe, which is there more condensed, but not less manifested; and of which, though knowing ourselves a part, we lose our individuality, and mingle in the beauty of the whole."

Another proof of the ductility with which he fell into his new friend's tastes and predilections, appears in the tinge, if not something deeper, of the manner and cast of thinking of Mr. Wordsworth, which is traceable through so many of his most beautiful stanzas. Being naturally, from his love of the abstract and imaginative, an admirer of the great poet of the Lakes, Mr. Shelley omitted no opportunity of bringing the beauties of his favourite writer under the notice of Lord Byron; and it is not surprising that, once persuaded into a fair perusal, the mind of the noble poet should--in spite of some personal and political prejudices which unluckily survived this short access of admiration--not only feel the influence but, in some degree, even reflect the hues of one of the very few real and original poets that this age (fertile as it is in rhymers _quales ego et Cluvienus_) has had the glory of producing.

When Polidori was of their party, (which, till he found attractions elsewhere, was generally the case,) their more elevated subjects of conversation were almost always put to flight by the strange sallies of this eccentric young man, whose vanity made him a constant butt for Lord Byron's sarcasm and merriment. The son of a highly respectable Italian gentleman, who was in early life, I understand, the secretary of Alfieri, Polidori seems to have possessed both talents and dispositions which, had he lived, might have rendered him a useful member of his profession and of society. At the time, however, of which we are speaking, his ambition of distinction far outwent both his powers and opportunities of attaining it. His mind, accordingly, between ardour and weakness, was kept in a constant hectic of vanity, and he seems to have alternately provoked and amused his noble employer, leaving him seldom any escape from anger but in laughter. Among other pretensions, he had set his heart upon shining as an author, and one evening at Mr. Shelley's, producing a tragedy of his own writing, insisted that they should undergo the operation of hearing it. To lighten the infliction, Lord Byron took upon himself the task of reader; and the whole scene, from the description I have heard of it, must have been not a little trying to gravity. In spite of the jealous watch kept upon every countenance by the author, it was impossible to withstand the smile lurking in the eye of the reader, whose only resource against the outbreak of his own laughter lay in lauding, from time to time, most vehemently, the sublimity of the verses;--particularly some that began "'Tis thus the goîter'd idiot of the Alps,'--and then adding, at the close of every such eulogy, "I assure you when I was in the Drury Lane Committee, much worse things were offered to us."

After passing a fortnight under the same roof with Lord Byron at Sécheron, Mr. and Mrs. Shelley removed to a small house on the Mont-Blanc side of the Lake, within about ten minutes' walk of the villa which their noble friend had taken, upon the high banks, called Belle Rive, that rose immediately behind them. During the fortnight that Lord Byron outstaid them at Sécheron, though the weather had changed and was become windy and cloudy, he every evening crossed the Lake, with Polidori, to visit them; and "as he returned again (says my informant) over the darkened waters, the wind, from far across, bore us his voice singing your Tyrolese Song of Liberty, which I then first heard, and which is to me inextricably linked with his remembrance."

In the mean time, Polidori had become jealous of the growing intimacy of his noble patron with Shelley; and the plan which he now understood them to have formed of making a tour of the Lake without him completed his mortification. In the soreness of his feelings on this subject he indulged in some intemperate remonstrances, which Lord Byron indignantly resented; and the usual bounds of courtesy being passed on both sides, the dismissal of Polidori appeared, even to himself, inevitable. With this prospect, which he considered nothing less than ruin, before his eyes, the poor young man was, it seems, on the point of committing that fatal act which, two or three years afterwards, he actually did perpetrate. Retiring to his own room, he had already drawn forth the poison from his medicine chest, and was pausing to consider whether he should write a letter before he took it, when Lord Byron (without, however, the least suspicion of his intention) tapped at the door and entered, with his hand held forth in sign of reconciliation. The sudden revulsion was too much for poor Polidori, who burst into tears; and, in relating all the circumstances of the occurrence afterwards, he declared that nothing could exceed the gentle kindness of Lord Byron in soothing his mind and restoring him to composure.

Soon after this the noble poet removed to Diodati. He had, on his first coming to Geneva, with the good-natured view of introducing Polidori into company, gone to several Genevese parties; but, this task performed, he retired altogether from society till late in the summer, when, as we have seen, he visited Copet. His means were at this time very limited; and though he lived by no means parsimoniously, all unnecessary expenses were avoided in his establishment. The young physician had been, at first, a source of much expense to him, being in the habit of hiring a carriage, at a louis a day (Lord Byron not then keeping horses), to take him to his evening parties; and it was some time before his noble patron had the courage to put this luxury down.

The liberty, indeed, which this young person allowed himself was, on one occasion, the means of bringing an imputation upon the poet's hospitality and good breeding, which, like every thing else, true or false, tending to cast a shade upon his character, was for some time circulated with the most industrious zeal. Without any authority from the noble owner of the mansion, he took upon himself to invite some Genevese gentlemen (M. Pictet, and, I believe, M. Bonstetten) to dine at Diodati; and the punishment which Lord Byron thought it right to inflict upon him for such freedom was, "as he had invited the guests, to leave him also to entertain them." This step, though merely a consequence of the physician's indiscretion, it was not difficult, of course, to convert into a serious charge of caprice and rudeness against the host himself.

By such repeated instances of thoughtlessness (to use no harsher term), it is not wonderful that Lord Byron should at last be driven into a feeling of distaste towards his medical companion, of whom he one day remarked, that "he was exactly the kind of person to whom, if he fell overboard, one would hold out a straw, to know if the adage be true that drowning men catch at straws."

A few more anecdotes of this young man, while in the service of Lord Byron, may, as throwing light upon the character of the latter, be not inappropriately introduced. While the whole party were, one day, out boating, Polidori, by some accident, in rowing, struck Lord Byron violently on the knee-pan with his oar; and the latter, without speaking, turned his face away to hide the pain. After a moment he said, "Be so kind, Polidori, another time, to take more care, for you hurt me very much."--"I am glad of it," answered the other; "I am glad to see you can suffer pain." In a calm suppressed tone, Lord Byron replied, "Let me advise you, Polidori, when you, another time, hurt any one, not to express your satisfaction. People don't like to be told that those who give them pain are glad of it; and they cannot always command their anger. It was with some difficulty that I refrained from throwing you into the water; and, but for Mrs. Shelley's presence, I should probably have done some such rash thing." This was said without ill temper, and the cloud soon passed away.

Another time, when the lady just mentioned was, after a shower of rain, walking up the hill to Diodati, Lord Byron, who saw her from his balcony where he was standing with Polidori, said to the latter, "Now, you who wish to be gallant ought to jump down this small height, and offer your arm." Polidori chose the easiest part of the declivity, and leaped;--but the ground being wet, his foot slipped, and he sprained his ankle.[117] Lord Byron instantly helped to carry him in and procure cold water for the foot; and, after he was laid on the sofa, perceiving that he was uneasy, went up stairs himself (an exertion which his lameness made painful and disagreeable) to fetch a pillow for him. "Well, I did not believe you had so much feeling," was Polidori's gracious remark, which, it may be supposed, not a little clouded the noble poet's brow.

A dialogue which Lord Byron himself used to mention as having taken place between them during their journey on the Rhine, is amusingly characteristic of both the persons concerned. "After all," said the physician, "what is there you can do that I cannot?"--"Why, since you force me to say," answered the other, "I think there are three things I can do which you cannot." Polidori defied him to name them. "I can," said Lord Byron, "swim across that river--I can snuff out that candle with a pistol-shot at the distance of twenty paces--and I have written a poem[118] of which 14,000 copies were sold in one day."

The jealous pique of the Doctor against Shelley was constantly breaking out; and on the occasion of some victory which the latter had gained over him in a sailing-match, he took it into his head that his antagonist had treated him with contempt; and went so far, in consequence, notwithstanding Shelley's known sentiments against duelling, as to proffer him a sort of challenge, at which Shelley, as might be expected, only laughed. Lord Byron, however, fearing that the vivacious physician might still further take advantage of this peculiarity of his friend, said to him, "Recollect, that though Shelley has some scruples about duelling, _I_ have none; and shall be, at all times, ready to take his place."

At Diodati, his life was passed in the same regular round of habits and occupations into which, when left to himself, he always naturally fell; a late breakfast, then a visit to the Shelleys' cottage and an excursion on the Lake;--at five, dinner[119] (when he usually preferred being alone), and then, if the weather permitted, an excursion again. He and Shelley had joined in purchasing a boat, for which they gave twenty-five _louis_,--a small sailing vessel, fitted to stand the usual squalls of the climate, and, at that time, the only keeled boat on the Lake. When the weather did not allow of their excursions after dinner,--an occurrence not unfrequent during this very wet summer,--the inmates of the cottage passed their evenings at Diodati, and, when the rain rendered it inconvenient for them to return home, remained there to sleep. "We often," says one, who was not the least ornamental of the party, "sat up in conversation till the morning light. There was never any lack of subjects, and, grave or gay, we were always interested."

During a week of rain at this time, having amused themselves with reading German ghost-stories, they agreed, at last, to write something in imitation of them. "You and I," said Lord Byron to Mrs. Shelley, "will publish ours together." He then began his tale of the Vampire; and, having the whole arranged in his head, repeated to them a sketch of the story[120] one evening,--but, from the narrative being in prose, made but little progress in filling up his outline. The most memorable result, indeed, of their story-telling compact, was Mrs. Shelley's wild and powerful romance of Frankenstein,--one of those original conceptions that take hold of the public mind at once, and for ever.

Towards the latter end of June, as we have seen in one of the preceding letters, Lord Byron, accompanied by his friend Shelley, made a tour in his boat round the Lake, and visited, "with the Heloise before him," all those scenes around Meillerie and Clarens, which have become consecrated for ever by ideal passion, and by that power which Genius alone possesses, of giving such life to its dreams as to make them seem realities. In the squall off Meillerie, which he mentions, their danger was considerable[121]. In the expectation, every moment, of being obliged to swim for his life, Lord Byron had already thrown off his coat, and, as Shelley was no swimmer, insisted upon endeavouring, by some means, to save him. This offer, however, Shelley positively refused; and seating himself quietly upon a locker, and grasping the rings at each end firmly in his hands, declared his determination to go down in that position, without a struggle.[122]

Subjoined to that interesting little work, the "Six Weeks' Tour," there is a letter by Shelley himself, giving an account of this excursion round the Lake, and written with all the enthusiasm such scenes should inspire. In describing a beautiful child they saw at the village of Nerni, he says, "My companion gave him a piece of money, which he took without speaking, with a sweet smile of easy thankfulness, and then with an unembarrassed air turned to his play." There were, indeed, few things Lord Byron more delighted in than to watch beautiful children at play;--"many a lovely Swiss child (says a person who saw him daily at this time) received crowns from him as the reward of their grace and sweetness."

Speaking of their lodgings at Nerni, which were gloomy and dirty, Mr. Shelley says, "On returning to our inn, we found that the servant had arranged our rooms, and deprived them of the greater portion of their former disconsolate appearance. They reminded my companion of Greece:--it was five years, he said, since he had slept in such beds."

Luckily for Shelley's full enjoyment of these scenes, he had never before happened to read the Heloise; and though his companion had long been familiar with that romance, the sight of the region itself, the "birth-place of deep Love," every spot of which seemed instinct with the passion of the story, gave to the whole a fresh and actual existence in his mind. Both were under the spell of the Genius of the place,--both full of emotion; and as they walked silently through the vineyards that were once the "bosquet de Julie," Lord Byron suddenly exclaimed, "Thank God, Polidori is not here."

That the glowing stanzas suggested to him by this scene were written upon the spot itself appears almost certain, from the letter addressed to Mr. Murray on his way back to Diodati, in which he announces the third Canto as complete, and consisting of 117 stanzas. At Ouchy, near Lausanne,--the place from which that letter is dated--he and his friend were detained two days, in a small inn, by the weather: and it was there, in that short interval, that he wrote his "Prisoner of Chillon," adding one more deathless association to the already immortalised localities of the Lake.

On his return from this excursion to Diodati, an occasion was afforded for the gratification of his jesting propensities by the avowal of the young physician that--he had fallen in love. On the evening of this tender confession they both appeared at Shelley's cottage--Lord Byron, in the highest and most boyish spirits, rubbing his hands as he walked about the room, and in that utter incapacity of retention which was one of his foibles, making jesting allusions to the secret he had just heard. The brow of the Doctor darkened as this pleasantry went on, and, at last, he angrily accused Lord Byron of hardness of heart. "I never," said he, "met with a person so unfeeling." This sally, though the poet had evidently brought it upon himself, annoyed him most deeply. "Call _me_ cold-hearted--_me_ insensible!" he exclaimed, with manifest emotion--"as well might you say that glass is not brittle, which has been cast down a precipice, and lies dashed to pieces at the foot!"

In the month of July he paid a visit to Copet, and was received by the distinguished hostess with a cordiality the more sensibly felt by him as, from his personal unpopularity at this time, he had hardly ventured to count upon it.[123] In her usual frank style, she took him to task upon his matrimonial conduct--but in a way that won upon his mind, and disposed him to yield to her suggestions. He must endeavour, she told him, to bring about a reconciliation with his wife, and must submit to contend no longer with the opinion of the world. In vain did he quote her own motto to Delphine, "Un homme peut braver, une femme doit se succomber aux opinions du monde;"--her reply was, that all this might be very well to say, but that, in real life, the duty and necessity of yielding belonged also to the man. Her eloquence, in short, so far succeeded, that he was prevailed upon to write a letter to a friend in England, declaring himself still willing to be reconciled to Lady Byron,--a concession not a little startling to those who had so often, lately, heard him declare that, "having done all in his power to persuade Lady Byron to return, and with this view put off as long as he could signing the deed of separation, that step being once taken, they were now divided for ever."

Of the particulars of this brief negotiation that ensued upon Madame de Staël's suggestion, I have no very accurate remembrance; but there can be little doubt that its failure, after the violence he had done his own pride in the overture, was what first infused any mixture of resentment or bitterness into the feelings hitherto entertained by him throughout these painful differences. He had, indeed, since his arrival in Geneva, invariably spoken of his lady with kindness and regret, imputing the course she had taken, in leaving him, not to herself but others, and assigning whatever little share of blame he would allow her to bear in the transaction to the simple and, doubtless, true cause--her not at all understanding him. "I have no doubt," he would sometimes say, "that she really did believe me to be mad."

Another resolution connected with his matrimonial affairs, in which he often, at this time, professed his fixed intention to persevere, was that of never allowing himself to touch any part of his wife's fortune. Such a sacrifice, there is no doubt, would have been, in his situation, delicate and manly; but though the natural bent of his disposition led him to _make_ the resolution, he wanted,--what few, perhaps, could have attained,--the fortitude to _keep_ it.

The effects of the late struggle on his mind, in stirring up all its resources and energies, was visible in the great activity of his genius during the whole of this period, and the rich variety, both in character and colouring, of the works with which it teemed. Besides the third Canto of Childe Harold and the Prisoner of Chillon, he produced also his two poems, "Darkness" and "The Dream," the latter of which cost him many a tear in writing,--being, indeed, the most mournful, as well as picturesque, "story of a wandering life" that ever came from the pen and heart of man. Those verses, too, entitled "The Incantation," which he introduced afterwards, without any connection with the subject, into Manfred, were also (at least, the less bitter portion of them) the production of this period; and as they were written soon after the last fruitless attempt at reconciliation, it is needless to say who was in his thoughts while he penned some of the opening stanzas.

"Though thy slumber must be deep,
Yet thy spirit shall not sleep;
There are shades which will not vanish,
There are thoughts thou canst not banish;
By a power to thee unknown,
Thou canst never be alone;
Thou art wrapt as with a shroud,
Thou art gather'd in a cloud;
And for ever shalt thou dwell
In the spirit of this spell.

"Though thou see'st me not pass by,
Thou shalt feel me with thine eye,
As a thing that, though unseen,
Must be near thee, and hath been;
And when, in that secret dread,
Thou hast turn'd around thy head,
Thou shalt marvel I am not
As thy shadow on the spot,
And the power which thou dost feel
Shall be what thou must conceal."

Besides the unfinished "Vampire," he began also, at this time, another romance in prose, founded upon the story of the Marriage of Belphegor, and intended to shadow out his own matrimonial fate. The wife of this satanic personage he described much in the same spirit that pervades his delineation of Donna Inez in the first Canto of Don Juan. While engaged, however, in writing this story, he heard from England that Lady Byron was ill, and, his heart softening at the intelligence, he threw the manuscript into the fire. So constantly were the good and evil principles of his nature conflicting for mastery over him.[124]

The two following Poems, so different from each other in their character,--the first prying with an awful scepticism into the darkness of another world, and the second breathing all that is most natural and tender in the affections of this,--were also written at this time, and have never before been published.

[Footnote 116: Childe Harold, Canto iii.]

[Footnote 117: To this lameness of Polidori, one of the preceding letters of Lord Byron alludes.]

[Footnote 118: The Corsair.]

[Footnote 119: His system of diet here was regulated by an abstinence almost incredible. A thin slice of bread, with tea, at breakfast--a light, vegetable dinner, with a bottle or two of Seltzer water, tinged with vin de Grave, and in the evening, a cup of green tea, without milk or sugar, formed the whole of his sustenance. The pangs of hunger he appeased by privately chewing tobacco and smoking cigars.]

[Footnote 120: From his remembrance of this sketch, Polidori afterwards vamped up his strange novel of the Vampire, which, under the supposition of its being Lord Byron's, was received with such enthusiasm in France. It would, indeed, not a little deduct from our value of foreign fame, if what some French writers have asserted be true, that the appearance of this extravagant novel among our neighbours first attracted their attention to the genius of Byron.]

[Footnote 121: "The wind (says Lord Byron's fellow-voyager) gradually increased in violence until it blew tremendously; and, as it came from the remotest extremity of the Lake, produced waves of a frightful height, and covered the whole surface with a chaos of foam. One of our boatmen, who was a dreadfully stupid fellow, persisted in holding the sail at a time when the boat was on the point of being driven under water by the hurricane. On discovering this error, he let it entirely go, and the boat for a moment refused to obey the helm; in addition, the rudder was so broken as to render the management of it very difficult; one wave fell in, and then another."]

[Footnote 122: "I felt, in this near prospect of death (says Mr. Shelley), a mixture of sensations, among which terror entered, though but subordinately. My feelings would have been less painful had I been alone; but I knew that my companion would have attempted to save me, and I was overcome with humiliation, when I thought that his life might have been risked to preserve mine. When we arrived at St. Gingoux, the inhabitants, who stood on the shore, unaccustomed to see a vessel as frail as ours, and fearing to venture at all on such a sea, exchanged looks of wonder and congratulation with our boatmen, who, as well as ourselves, were well pleased to set foot on shore."]

[Footnote 123: In the account of this visit to Copet in his Memoranda, he spoke in high terms of the daughter of his hostess, the present Duchess de Broglie, and, in noticing how much she appeared to be attached to her husband, remarked that "Nothing was more pleasing than to see the developement of the domestic affections in a very young woman." Of Madame de Staël, in that Memoir, he spoke thus:--"Madame de Staël was a good woman at heart and the cleverest at bottom, but spoilt by a wish to be--she knew not what. In her own house she was amiable; in any other person's, you wished her gone, and in her own again."]

[Footnote 124: Upon the same occasion, indeed, he wrote some verses in a spirit not quite so generous, of which a few of the opening lines is all I shall give:--

"And thou wert sad--yet I was not with thee!
And thou wert sick--and yet I was not near.
Methought that Joy and Health alone could be
Where I was _not_, and pain and sorrow here.
And is it thus?--it is as I foretold,
And shall be more so:--" &c. &c. ]

* * * * *


"Could I remount the river of my years
To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,
I would not trace again the stream of hours
Between their outworn banks of wither'd flowers,
But bid it flow as now--until it glides
Into the number of the nameless tides. * * *
What is this Death?--a quiet of the heart?
The whole of that of which we are a part?
For Life is but a vision--what I see
Of all which lives alone is life to me,
And being so--the absent are the dead,
Who haunt us from tranquillity, and spread
A dreary shroud around us, and invest
With sad remembrances our hours of rest.
"The absent are the dead--for they are cold,
And ne'er can be what once we did behold;
And they are changed, and cheerless,--or if yet
The unforgotten do not all forget,
Since thus divided--equal must it be
If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea;
It may be both--but one day end it must
In the dark union of insensate dust.
"The under-earth inhabitants--are they
But mingled millions decomposed to clay?
The ashes of a thousand ages spread
Wherever man has trodden or shall tread?
Or do they in their silent cities dwell
Each in his incommunicative cell?
Or have they their own language? and a sense
Of breathless being?--darken'd and intense
As midnight in her solitude?--Oh Earth!
Where are the past?--and wherefore had they birth?
The dead are thy inheritors--and we
But bubbles on thy surface; and the key
Of thy profundity is in the grave,
The ebon portal of thy peopled cave,
Where I would walk in spirit, and behold
Our elements resolved to things untold,
And fathom hidden wonders, and explore
The essence of great bosoms now no more." * *

* * * * *


"My sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same--
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny,--
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.

"The first were nothing--had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him our grandsire's[125] fate of yore,--
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.

"If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils, overlook'd or unforeseen,
I have sustain'd my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe,

"Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marr'd
The gift,--a fate, or will that walk'd astray;
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.

"Kingdoms and empires in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have roll'd
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something--I know not what--does still uphold
A spirit of slight patience; not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.

"Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me,--or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,--
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.

"I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love--but none like thee.

"Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation;--to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.

"Oh that thou wert but with me!--but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret;
There may be others which I less may show;--
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my alter'd eye.

"I did remind thee of our own dear lake[126],
By the old hall which may be mine no more.
Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make
Ere _that_ or _thou_ can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
Resign'd for ever, or divided far.

"The world is all before me; I but ask
Of nature that with which she will comply--
It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister--till I look again on thee.

"I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not;--for at length I see
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
The earliest--even the only paths for me--
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept;
_I_ had not suffer'd, and _thou_ hadst not wept.

"With false ambition what had I to do?
Little with love, and least of all with fame;
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make--a name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over--I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.

"And for the future, this world's future may
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outlived myself by many a day;
Having survived so many things that were;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
Of life which might have fill'd a century,
Before its fourth in time had pass'd me by.

"And for the remnant which may be to come
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless,--for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb
My feelings farther.--Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around
And worship Nature with a thought profound.

"For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine:
We were and are--I am, even as thou art--
Beings who ne'er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From life's commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined--let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last!"

[Footnote 125: "Admiral Byron was remarkable for never making a voyage without a tempest. He was known to the sailors by the facetious name of 'Foul-weather Jack.'

"But, though it were tempest-tost,
Still his bark could not be lost.

He returned safely from the wreck of the Wager (in Anson's Voyage), and subsequently circumnavigated the world, many years after, as commander of a similar expedition."]

[Footnote 126: The lake of Newstead Abbey.]

* * * * *

In the month of August, Mr. M.G. Lewis arrived to pass some time with him; and he was soon after visited by Mr. Richard Sharpe, of whom he makes such honourable mention in the Journal already given, and with whom, as I have heard this gentleman say, it now gave him evident pleasure to converse about their common friends in England. Among those who appeared to have left the strongest impressions of interest and admiration on his mind was (as easily will be believed by all who know this distinguished person) Sir James Mackintosh.

Soon after the arrival of his friends, Mr. Hobhouse and Mr. S. Davies, he set out, as we have seen, with the former on a tour through the Bernese Alps,--after accomplishing which journey, about the beginning of October he took his departure, accompanied by the same gentleman, for Italy.

The first letter of the following series was, it will be seen, written a few days before he left Diodati.


"Diodati, Oct. 5. 1816.

"Save me a copy of 'Buck's Richard III.' republished by Longman;
but do not send out more books, I have too many.

"The 'Monody' is in too many paragraphs, which makes it
unintelligible to me; if any one else understands it in the present
form, they are wiser; however, as it cannot be rectified till my
return, and has been already published, even publish it on in the
collection--it will fill up the place of the omitted epistle.

"Strike out 'by request of a friend,' which is sad trash, and must
have been done to make it ridiculous.

"Be careful in the printing the stanzas beginning,

"'Though the day of my destiny,' &c.

which I think well of as a composition.

"'The Antiquary' is not the best of the three, but much above all
the last twenty years, saving its elder brothers. Holcroft's
Memoirs are valuable as showing strength of endurance in the man,
which is worth more than all the talent in the world.

"And so you have been publishing 'Margaret of Anjou' and an
Assyrian tale, and refusing W.W.'s Waterloo, and the 'Hue and Cry.'
I know not which most to admire, your rejections or acceptances. I
believe that _prose_ is, after all, the most reputable, for certes,
if one could foresee--but I won't go on--that is with this
sentence; but poetry is, I fear, incurable. God help me! if I
proceed in this scribbling, I shall have frittered away my mind
before I am thirty, but it is at times a real relief to me. For the
present--good evening."

* * * * *


"Martigny, October 9. 1816.

"Thus far on my way to Italy. We have just passed the 'Fisse-Vache'
(one of the first torrents in Switzerland) in time to view the iris
which the sun flings along it before noon.

"I have written to you twice lately. Mr. Davies, I hear, is
arrived. He brings the original MS. which you wished to see.
Recollect that the printing is to be from that which Mr. Shelley
brought; and recollect, also, that the concluding stanzas of Childe
Harold (those to my _daughter_) which I had not made up my mind
whether to publish or not when they were _first_ written (as you
will see marked on the margin of the first copy), I had (and have)
fully determined to publish with the rest of the Canto, as in the
copy which you received by Mr. Shelley, before I sent it to

"Our weather is very fine, which is more than the summer has
been.--At Milan I shall expect to hear from you. Address either to
Milan, _poste restante_, or by way of Geneva, to the care of Monsr.
Hentsch, Banquier. I write these few lines in case my other letter
should not reach you: I trust one of them will.

"P.S. My best respects and regards to Mr. Gifford. Will you tell
him it may perhaps be as well to put a short note to that part
relating to _Clarens_, merely to say, that of course the
description does not refer to that particular spot so much as to
the command of scenery round it? I do not know that this is
necessary, and leave it to Mr. G.'s choice, as my editor,--if he
will allow me to call him so at this distance."

* * * * *


"Milan, October 15. 1816.

"I hear that Mr. Davies has arrived in England,--but that of some
letters, &c., committed to his care by Mr. H., only _half_ have
been delivered. This intelligence naturally makes me feel a little
anxious for mine, and amongst them for the MS., which I wished to
have compared with the one sent by me through the hands of Mr.
Shelley. I trust that _it_ has arrived safely,--and indeed not less
so, that some little crystals, &c., from Mont Blanc, for my
daughter and my nieces, have reached their address. Pray have the
goodness to ascertain from Mr. Davies that no accident (by
custom-house or loss) has befallen them, and satisfy me on this
point at your earliest convenience.

"If I recollect rightly, you told me that Mr. Gifford had kindly
undertaken to correct the press (at my request) during my
absence--at least I hope so. It will add to my many obligations to
that gentleman.

"I wrote to you, on my way here, a short note, dated Martigny. Mr.
Hobhouse and myself arrived here a few days ago, by the Simplon
and Lago Maggiore route. Of course we visited the Borromean
Islands, which are fine, but too artificial. The Simplon is
magnificent in its nature and its art,--both God and man have done
wonders,--to say nothing of the devil who must certainly have had a
hand (or a hoof) in some of the rocks and ravines through and over
which the works are carried.

"Milan is striking--the cathedral superb. The city altogether
reminds me of Seville, but a little inferior. We had heard divers
bruits, and took precautions on the road, near the frontier,
against some 'many worthy fellows (i.e. felons) that were out,' and
had ransacked some preceding travellers, a few weeks ago, near
Sesto,--or _C_esto, I forget which,--of cash and raiment, besides
putting them in bodily fear, and lodging about twenty slugs in the
retreating part of a courier belonging to Mr. Hope. But we were not
molested, and I do not think in any danger, except of making
mistakes in the way of cocking and priming whenever we saw an old
house, or an ill-looking thicket, and now and then suspecting the
'true men,' who have very much the appearance of the thieves of
other countries. What the thieves may look like, I know not, nor
desire to know, for it seems they come upon you in bodies of thirty
('in buckram and Kendal green') at a time, so that voyagers have no
great chance. It is something like poor dear Turkey in that
respect, but not so good, for there you can have as great a body of
rogues to match the regular banditti; but here the gens d'armes are
said to be no great things, and as for one's own people, one can't
carry them about like Robinson Crusoe with a gun on each shoulder.

"I have been to the Ambrosian library--it is a fine
collection--full of MSS. edited and unedited. I enclose you a list
of the former recently published: these are matters for your
literati. For me, in my simple way, I have been most delighted with
a correspondence of letters, all original and amatory, between
_Lucretia Borgia_ and _Cardinal Bembo_, preserved there. I have
pored over them and a lock of her hair, the prettiest and fairest
imaginable--I never saw fairer--and shall go repeatedly to read the
epistles over and over; and if I can obtain some of the hair by
fair means, I shall try. I have already persuaded the librarian to
promise me copies of the letters, and I hope he will not disappoint
me. They are short, but very simple, sweet, and to the purpose;
there are some copies of verses in Spanish also by her; the tress
of her hair is long, and, as I said before, beautiful. The Brera
gallery of paintings has some fine pictures, but nothing of a
collection. Of painting I know nothing; but I like a Guercino--a
picture of Abraham putting away Hagar and Ishmael--which seems to
me natural and goodly. The Flemish school, such as I saw it in
Flanders, I utterly detested, despised, and abhorred; it might be
painting, but it was not nature; the Italian is pleasing, and their
_ideal_ very noble.

"The Italians I have encountered here are very intelligent and
agreeable. In a few days I am to meet Monti. By the way, I have
just heard an anecdote of Beccaria, who published such admirable
things against the punishment of death. As soon as his book was
out, his servant (having read it, I presume) stole his watch; and
his master, while correcting the press of a second edition, did all
he could to have him hanged by way of advertisement.

"I forgot to mention the triumphal arch begun by Napoleon, as a
gate to this city. It is unfinished, but the part completed worthy
of another age and the same country. The society here is very oddly
carried on,--at the theatre, and the theatre only,--which answers
to our opera. People meet there as at a rout, but in very small
circles. From Milan I shall go to Venice. If you write, write to
Geneva, as before--the letter will be forwarded.

"Yours ever."

* * * * *


"Milan, November 1. 1816.

"I have recently written to you rather frequently but without any
late answer. Mr. Hobhouse and myself set out for Venice in a few
days; but you had better still address to me at Mr. Hentsch's,
Banquier, Geneva; he will forward your letters.

"I do not know whether I mentioned to you some time ago, that I had
parted with the Dr. Polidori a few weeks previous to my leaving
Diodati. I know no great harm of him; but he had an alacrity of
getting into scrapes, and was too young and heedless; and having
enough to attend to in my own concerns, and without time to become
his tutor, I thought it much better to give him his congé. He
arrived at Milan some weeks before Mr. Hobhouse and myself. About a
week ago, in consequence of a quarrel at the theatre with an
Austrian officer, in which he was exceedingly in the wrong, he has
contrived to get sent out of the territory, and is gone to
Florence. I was not present, the pit having been the scene of
altercation; but on being sent for from the Cavalier Breme's box,
where I was quietly staring at the ballet, I found the man of
medicine begirt with grenadiers, arrested by the guard, conveyed
into the guard-room, where there was much swearing in several
languages. They were going to keep him there for the night; but on
my giving my name, and answering for his apparition next morning,
he was permitted egress. Next day he had an order from the
government to be gone in twenty-four hours, and accordingly gone he
is, some days ago. We did what we could for him, but to no purpose;
and indeed he brought it upon himself, as far as I could learn, for
I was not present at the squabble itself. I believe this is the
real state of his case; and I tell it you because I believe things
sometimes reach you in England in a false or exaggerated form. We
found Milan very polite and hospitable[127], and have the same
hopes of Verona and Venice. I have filled my paper.

"Ever yours," &c.

[Footnote 127: With Milan, however, or its society, the noble traveller was far from being pleased, and in his Memoranda, I recollect, he described his stay there to be "like a ship under quarantine." Among other persons whom he met in the society of that place was M. Beyle, the ingenious author of "L'Histoire de la Peinture en Italie," who thus describes the impression their first interview left upon him:--

"Ce fut pendant l'automne de 1816, que je le rencontrai au théâtre de la _Scala_, à Milan, dans la loge de M. Louis de Brême. Je fus frappé des yeux de Lord Byron au moment où il écoutait un sestetto d'un opéra de Mayer intitulé Elena. Je n'ai vu de ma vie, rien de plus beau ni de plus expressif. Encore aujourd'hui, si je viens à penser à l'expression qu'un grand peintre devrait donner an génie, cette tête sublime reparaît tout-à-coup devant moi. J'eus un instant d'enthousiasme, et oubliant la juste répugnance que tout homme un peu fier doit avoir à se faire présenter à un pair d'Angleterre, je priai M. de Brême de m'introduire à Lord Byron, je me trouvai le lendemain à dîner chez M. de Brême, avec lui, et le celèbre Monti, l'immortel auteur de la _Basvigliana_. On parla poésie, on en vint à demander quels étaient les douze plus beaux vers faits depuis un siècle, en Français, en Italien, en Anglais. Les Italiens présens s'accordèrent à designer les douze premiers vers de la _Mascheroniana_ de Monti, comme ce que l'on avait fait de plus beau dans leur langue, depuis cent ans. _Monti_ voulut bien nous les réciter. Je regardai Lord Byron, il fut ravi. La nuance de hauteur, ou plutôt l'air d'un homme _qui se trouve avoir à repousser une importunité_, qui déparait un peu sa belle figure, disparut tout-à-coup pour faire à l'expression du bonheur. Le premier chant de la _Mascheroniana_, que Monti récita presque en entier, vaincu par les acclamations des auditeurs, causa la plus vive sensation à l'auteur de Childe Harold. Je n'oublierai jamais l'expression divine de ses traits; c'était l'air serein de la puissance et du génie, et suivant moi, Lord Byron n'avait, en ce moment, aucune affectation à se reprocher."]

* * * * *


"Verona, November 6. 1816.

"My dear Moore,

"Your letter, written before my departure from England, and
addressed to me in London, only reached me recently. Since that
period, I have been over a portion of that part of Europe which I
had not already seen. About a month since, I crossed the Alps from
Switzerland to Milan, which I left a few days ago, and am thus far
on my way to Venice, where I shall probably winter. Yesterday I was
on the shores of the Benacus, with his _fluctibus et fremitu_.
Catullus's Sirmium has still its name and site, and is remembered
for his sake: but the very heavy autumnal rains and mists prevented
our quitting our route, (that is, Hobhouse and myself, who are at
present voyaging together,) as it was better not to see it at all
than to a great disadvantage.

"I found on the Benacus the same tradition of a city, still visible
in calm weather below the waters, which you have preserved of Lough
Neagh, 'When the clear, cold eve's declining.' I do not know that
it is authorised by records; but they tell you such a story, and
say that the city was swallowed up by an earthquake. We moved
to-day over the frontier to Verona, by a road suspected of
thieves,--'the wise _convey_ it call,'--but without molestation. I
shall remain here a day or two to gape at the usual
marvels,--amphitheatre, paintings, and all that time-tax of
travel,--though Catullus, Claudian, and Shakspeare have done more
for Verona than it ever did for itself. They still pretend to
show, I believe, the 'tomb of all the Capulets'--we shall see.

"Among many things at Milan, one pleased me particularly, viz. the
correspondence (in the prettiest love-letters in the world) of
Lucretia Borgia with Cardinal Bembo, (who, _you say_, made a very
good cardinal,) and a lock of her hair, and some Spanish verses of
hers,--the lock very fair and beautiful. I took one single hair of
it as a relic, and wished sorely to get a copy of one or two of the
letters; but it is prohibited: _that_ I don't mind; but it was
impracticable; and so I only got some of them by heart. They are
kept in the Ambrosian Library, which I often visited to look them
over--to the scandal of the librarian, who wanted to enlighten me
with sundry valuable MSS., classical, philosophical, and pious. But
I stick to the Pope's daughter, and wish myself a cardinal.

"I have seen the finest parts of Switzerland, the Rhine, the Rhone,
and the Swiss and Italian lakes; for the beauties of which, I refer
you to the Guidebook. The north of Italy is tolerably free from the
English; but the south swarms with them, I am told. Madame de Staël
I saw frequently at Copet, which she renders remarkably pleasant.
She has been particularly kind to me. I was for some months her
neighbour, in a country house called Diodati, which I had on the
Lake of Geneva. My plans are very uncertain; but it is probable
that you will see me in England in the spring. I have some business
there. If you write to me, will you address to the care of Mons.
Hentsch, Banquier, Geneva, who receives and forwards my letters.
Remember me to Rogers, who wrote to me lately, with a short account
of your poem, which, I trust, is near the light. He speaks of it
most highly.

"My health is very endurable, except that I am subject to casual
giddiness and faintness, which is so like a fine lady, that I am
rather ashamed of the disorder. When I sailed, I had a physician
with me, whom, after some months of patience, I found it expedient
to part with, before I left Geneva some time. On arriving at Milan,
I found this gentleman in very good society, where he prospered for
some weeks: but, at length, at the theatre he quarrelled with an
Austrian officer, and was sent out by the government in twenty-four
hours. I was not present at his squabble; but, on hearing that he
was put under arrest, I went and got him out of his confinement,
but could not prevent his being sent off, which, indeed, he partly
deserved, being quite in the wrong, and having begun a row for
row's sake. I had preceded the Austrian government some weeks
myself, in giving him his congé from Geneva. He is not a bad
fellow, but very young and hot-headed, and more likely to incur
diseases than to cure them. Hobhouse and myself found it useless to
intercede for him. This happened some time before we left Milan. He
is gone to Florence.

"At Milan I saw, and was visited by, Monti, the most celebrated of
the living Italian poets. He seems near sixty; in face he is like
the late Cooke the actor. His frequent changes in politics have
made him very unpopular as a man. I saw many more of their
literati; but none whose names are well known in England, except
Acerbi. I lived much with the Italians, particularly with the
Marquis of Breme's family, who are very able and intelligent men,
especially the Abate. There was a famous improvvisatore who held
forth while I was there. His fluency astonished me; but, although I
understand Italian, and speak it (with more readiness than
accuracy), I could only carry off a few very common-place
mythological images, and one line about Artemisia, and another
about Algiers, with sixty words of an entire tragedy about Etocles
and Polynices. Some of the Italians liked him--others called his
performance 'seccatura' (a devilish good word, by the way)--and all
Milan was in controversy about him.

"The state of morals in these parts is in some sort lax. A mother
and son were pointed out at the theatre, as being pronounced by the
Milanese world to be of the Theban dynasty--but this was all. The
narrator (one of the first men in Milan) seemed to be not
sufficiently scandalised by the taste or the tie. All society in
Milan is carried on at the opera: they have private boxes, where
they play at cards, or talk, or any thing else; but (except at the
Cassino) there are no open houses, or balls, &c. &c.

"The peasant girls have all very fine dark eyes, and many of them
are beautiful. There are also two dead bodies in fine
preservation--one Saint Carlo Boromeo, at Milan; the other not a
saint, but a chief, named Visconti, at Monza--both of which
appeared very agreeable. In one of the Boromean isles (the Isola
bella), there is a large laurel--the largest known--on which
Buonaparte, staying there just before the battle of Marengo, carved
with his knife the word 'Battaglia.' I saw the letters, now half
worn out and partly erased.

"Excuse this tedious letter. To be tiresome is the privilege of old
age and absence: I avail myself of the latter, and the former I
have anticipated. If I do not speak to you of my own affairs, it is
not from want of confidence, but to spare you and myself. My day is
over--what then?--I have had it. To be sure, I have shortened it;
and if I had done as much by this letter, it would have been as
well. But you will forgive that, if not the other faults of

"Yours ever and most affectionately,


"P.S. November 7. 1816.

"I have been over Verona. The amphitheatre is wonderful--beats even
Greece. Of the truth of Juliet's story they seem tenacious to a
degree, insisting on the fact--giving a date (1303), and showing a
tomb. It is a plain, open, and partly decayed sarcophagus, with
withered leaves in it, in a wild and desolate conventual garden,
once a cemetery, now ruined to the very graves. The situation
struck me as very appropriate to the legend, being blighted as
their love. I have brought away a few pieces of the granite, to
give to my daughter and my nieces. Of the other marvels of this
city, paintings, antiquities, &c., excepting the tombs of the
Scaliger princes, I have no pretensions to judge. The gothic
monuments of the Scaligers pleased me, but 'a poor virtuoso am I,'
and ever yours."

* * * * *

It must have been observed, in my account of Lord Byron's life previous to his marriage, that, without leaving altogether unnoticed (what, indeed, was too notorious to be so evaded) certain affairs of gallantry in which he had the reputation of being engaged, I have thought it right, besides refraining from such details in my narrative, to suppress also whatever passages in his Journals and Letters might be supposed to bear too personally or particularly on the same delicate topics. Incomplete as the strange history of his mind and heart must, in one of its most interesting chapters, be left by these omissions, still a deference to that peculiar sense of decorum in this country, which marks the mention of such frailties as hardly a less crime than the commission of them, and, still more, the regard due to the feelings of the living, who ought not rashly to be made to suffer for the errors of the dead, have combined to render this sacrifice, however much it may be regretted, necessary.

We have now, however, shifted the scene to a region where less caution is requisite;--where, from the different standard applied to female morals in these respects, if the wrong itself be not lessened by this diminution of the consciousness of it, less scruple may be, at least, felt towards persons so circumstanced, and whatever delicacy we may think right to exercise in speaking of their frailties must be with reference rather to our views and usages than theirs.

Availing myself, with this latter qualification, of the greater latitude thus allowed me, I shall venture so far to depart from the plan hitherto pursued, as to give, with but little suppression, the noble poet's letters relative to his Italian adventures. To throw a veil altogether over these irregularities of his private life would be to afford--were it even practicable--but a partial portraiture of his character; while, on the other hand, to rob him of the advantage of being himself the historian of his errors (where no injury to others can flow from the disclosure) would be to deprive him of whatever softening light can be thrown round such transgressions by the vivacity and fancy, the passionate love of beauty, and the strong yearning after affection which will be found to have, more or less, mingled with even the least refined of his attachments. Neither is any great danger to be apprehended from the sanction or seduction of such an example; as they who would dare to plead the authority of Lord Byron for their errors must first be able to trace them to the same palliating sources,--to that sensibility, whose very excesses showed its strength and depth,--that stretch of imagination, to the very verge, perhaps, of what reason can bear without giving way,--that whole combination, in short, of grand but disturbing powers, which alone could be allowed to extenuate such moral derangement, but which, even in him thus dangerously gifted, were insufficient to excuse it.

Having premised these few observations, I shall now proceed, with less interruption, to lay his correspondence, during this and the two succeeding years, before the reader:--


"Venice, November 17. 1816.

"I wrote to you from Verona the other day in my progress hither,
which letter I hope you will receive. Some three years ago, or it
may be more, I recollect your telling me that you had received a
letter from our friend Sam, dated 'On board his gondola.' _My_
gondola is, at this present, waiting for me on the canal; but I
prefer writing to you in the house, it being autumn--and rather an
English autumn than otherwise. It is my intention to remain at
Venice during the winter, probably, as it has always been (next to
the East) the greenest island of my imagination. It has not
disappointed me; though its evident decay would, perhaps, have that
effect upon others. But I have been familiar with ruins too long to
dislike desolation. Besides, I have fallen in love, which, next to
falling into the canal, (which would be of no use, as I can swim,)
is the best or the worst thing I could do. I have got some
extremely good apartments in the house of a 'Merchant of Venice,'
who is a good deal occupied with business, and has a wife in her
twenty-second year. Marianna (that is her name) is in her
appearance altogether like an antelope. She has the large, black,
oriental eyes, with that peculiar expression in them which is seen
rarely among _Europeans_--even the Italians--and which many of the
Turkish women give themselves by tinging the eyelid,--an art not
known out of that country, I believe. This expression she has
_naturally_,--and something more than this. In short, I cannot
describe the effect of this kind of eye,--at least upon me. Her
features are regular, and rather aquiline--mouth small--skin clear
and soft, with a kind of hectic colour--forehead remarkably good:
her hair is of the dark gloss, curl, and colour of Lady J * *'s:
her figure is light and pretty, and she is a famous
songstress--scientifically so; her natural voice (in conversation,
I mean) is very sweet; and the naïveté of the Venetian dialect is
always pleasing in the mouth of a woman.

"November 23.

"You will perceive that my description, which was proceeding with
the minuteness of a passport, has been interrupted for several

"December 5.

"Since my former dates, I do not know that I have much to add on
the subject, and, luckily, nothing to take away; for I am more
pleased than ever with my Venetian, and begin to feel very serious
on that point--so much so, that I shall be silent.

"By way of divertisement, I am studying daily, at an Armenian
monastery, the Armenian language. I found that my mind wanted
something craggy to break upon; and this--as the most difficult
thing I could discover here for an amusement--I have chosen, to
torture me into attention. It is a rich language, however, and
would amply repay any one the trouble of learning it. I try, and
shall go on;--but I answer for nothing, least of all for my
intentions or my success. There are some very curious MSS. in the
monastery, as well as books; translations also from Greek
originals, now lost, and from Persian and Syriac, &c.; besides
works of their own people. Four years ago the French instituted an
Armenian professorship. Twenty pupils presented themselves on
Monday morning, full of noble ardour, ingenuous youth, and
impregnable industry. They persevered, with a courage worthy of the
nation and of universal conquest, till Thursday; when _fifteen_ of
the _twenty_ succumbed to the six-and-twentieth letter of the
alphabet. It is, to be sure, a Waterloo of an Alphabet--that must
be said for them. But it is so like these fellows, to do by it as
they did by their sovereigns--abandon both; to parody the old
rhymes, 'Take a thing and give a thing'--'Take a king and give a
king.' They are the worst of animals, except their conquerors.

"I hear that H----n is your neighbour, having a living in
Derbyshire. You will find him an excellent-hearted fellow, as well
as one of the cleverest; a little, perhaps, too much japanned by
preferment in the church and the tuition of youth, as well as
inoculated with the disease of domestic felicity, besides being
over-run with fine feelings about woman and _constancy_ (that small
change of Love, which people exact so rigidly, receive in such
counterfeit coin, and repay in baser metal); but, otherwise, a very
worthy man, who has lately got a pretty wife, and (I suppose) a
child by this time. Pray remember me to him, and say that I know
not which to envy most his neighbourhood--him, or you.

"Of Venice I shall say little. You must have seen many
descriptions; and they are most of them like. It is a poetical
place; and classical, to us, from Shakspeare and Otway. I have not
yet sinned against it in verse, nor do I know that I shall do so,
having been tuneless since I crossed the Alps, and feeling, as yet,
no renewal of the 'estro.' By the way, I suppose you have seen
'Glenarvon.' Madame de Staël lent it me to read from Copet last
autumn. It seems to me that if the authoress had written the
_truth_, and nothing but the truth--the whole truth--the _romance_
would not only have been more romantic, but more entertaining. As
for the likeness, the picture can't be good--I did not sit long
enough. When you have leisure, let me hear from and of you,
believing me ever and truly yours most affectionately, B.

"P.S. Oh! _your poem_--is it out? I hope Longman has paid his
thousands: but don't you do as H * * T * *'s father did, who,
having made money by a quarto tour, became a vinegar merchant;
when, lo! his vinegar turned sweet (and be d----d to it) and ruined
him. My last letter to you (from Verona) was enclosed to
Murray--have you got it? Direct to me _here, poste restante_. There
are no English here at present. There were several in
Switzerland--some women; but, except Lady Dalrymple Hamilton, most
of them as ugly as virtue--at least, those that I saw."

* * * * *


"Venice, December 24. 1816.

"I have taken a fit of writing to you, which portends postage--once
from Verona--once from Venice, and again from Venice--_thrice_ that
is. For this you may thank yourself, for I heard that you
complained of my silence--so, here goes for garrulity.

"I trust that you received my other twain of letters. My 'way of
life' (or 'May of life,' which is it, according to the
commentators?)--my 'way of life' is fallen into great regularity.
In the mornings I go over in my gondola to babble Armenian with the
friars of the convent of St. Lazarus, and to help one of them in
correcting the English of an English and Armenian grammar which he
is publishing. In the evenings I do one of many nothings--either at
the theatres, or some of the conversaziones, which are like our
routs, or rather worse, for the women sit in a semicircle by the
lady of the mansion, and the men stand about the room. To be sure,
there is one improvement upon ours--instead of lemonade with their
ices, they hand about stiff _rum-punch--punch_, by my palate; and
this they think _English_. I would not disabuse them of so
agreeable an error,--'no, not for Venice.'

"Last night I was at the Count Governor's, which, of course,
comprises the best society, and is very much like other gregarious
meetings in every country,--as in ours,--except that, instead of
the Bishop of Winchester, you have the Patriarch of Venice, and a
motley crew of Austrians, Germans, noble Venetians, foreigners,
and, if you see a quiz, you may be sure he is a Consul. Oh, by the
way, I forgot, when I wrote from Verona, to tell you that at Milan
I met with a countryman of yours--a Colonel * * * *, a very
excellent, good-natured fellow, who knows and shows all about
Milan, and is, as it were, a native there. He is particularly civil
to strangers, and this is his history,--at least, an episode of it.

"Six-and-twenty years ago, Col. * * * *, then an ensign, being in
Italy, fell in love with the Marchesa * * * *, and she with him.
The lady must be, at least, twenty years his senior. The war broke
out; he returned to England, to serve--not his country, for that's
Ireland--but England, which is a different thing; and _she_--heaven
knows what she did. In the year 1814, the first annunciation of the
Definitive Treaty of Peace (and tyranny) was developed to the
astonished Milanese by the arrival of Col. * * * *, who, flinging
himself full length at the feet of Mad. * * * *, murmured forth, in
half-forgotten Irish Italian, eternal vows of indelible constancy.
The lady screamed, and exclaimed, 'Who are you?' The Colonel cried,
'What! don't you know me? I am so and so,' &c. &c. &c.; till, at
length, the Marchesa, mounting from reminiscence to reminiscence,
through the lovers of the intermediate twenty-five years, arrived
at last at the recollection of her _povero_ sub-lieutenant. She
then said, 'Was there ever such virtue?' (that was her very word)
and, being now a widow, gave him apartments in her palace,
reinstated him in all the rights of wrong, and held him up to the
admiring world as a miracle of incontinent fidelity, and the
unshaken Abdiel of absence.

"Methinks this is as pretty a moral tale as any of Marmontel's.
Here is another. The same lady, several years ago, made an escapade
with a Swede, Count Fersen (the same whom the Stockholm mob
quartered and lapidated not very long since), and they arrived at
an Osteria on the road to Rome or thereabouts. It was a summer
evening, and, while they were at supper, they were suddenly regaled
by a symphony of fiddles in an adjacent apartment, so prettily
played, that, wishing to hear them more distinctly, the Count rose,
and going into the musical society, said, 'Gentlemen, I am sure
that, as a company of gallant cavaliers, you will be delighted to
show your skill to a lady, who feels anxious,' &c. &c. The men of
harmony were all acquiescence--every instrument was tuned and
toned, and, striking up one of their most ambrosial airs, the whole
band followed the Count to the lady's apartment. At their head was
the first fiddler, who, bowing and fiddling at the same moment,
headed his troop and advanced up the room. Death and discord!--it
was the Marquis himself, who was on a serenading party in the
country, while his spouse had run away from town. The rest may be
imagined--but, first of all, the lady tried to persuade him that
she was there on purpose to meet him, and had chosen this method
for an harmonic surprise. So much for this gossip, which amused me
when I heard it, and I send it to you, in the hope it may have the
like effect. Now we'll return to Venice.

"The day after to-morrow (to-morrow being Christmas-day) the
Carnival begins. I dine with the Countess Albrizzi and a party, and
go to the opera. On that day the Phenix, (not the Insurance Office,
but) the theatre of that name, opens: I have got me a box there for
the season, for two reasons, one of which is, that the music is
remarkably good. The Contessa Albrizzi, of whom I have made
mention, is the De Staël of Venice, not young, but a very learned,
unaffected, good-natured woman, very polite to strangers, and, I
believe, not at all dissolute, as most of the women are. She has
written very well on the works of Canova, and also a volume of
Characters, besides other printed matter. She is of Corfu, but
married a dead Venetian--that is, dead since he married.

"My flame (my 'Donna' whom I spoke of in my former epistle, my
Marianna) is still my Marianna, and I, her--what she pleases. She
is by far the prettiest woman I have seen here, and the most
loveable I have met with any where--as well as one of the most
singular. I believe I told you the rise and progress of our
_liaison_ in my former letter. Lest that should not have reached
you, I will merely repeat, that she is a Venetian, two-and-twenty
years old, married to a merchant well to do in the world, and that
she has great black oriental eyes, and all the qualities which her
eyes promise. Whether being in love with her has steeled me or not,
I do not know; but I have not seen many other women who seem
pretty. The nobility, in particular, are a sad-looking race--the
gentry rather better. And now, what art _thou_ doing?

"What are you doing now,
Oh Thomas Moore?
What are you doing now,
Oh Thomas Moore?
Sighing or suing now,
Rhyming or wooing now,
Billing or cooing now,
Which, Thomas Moore?

Are you not near the Luddites? By the Lord! if there's a row, but
I'll be among ye! How go on the weavers--the breakers of
frames--the Lutherans of politics--the reformers?

"As the Liberty lads o'er the sea
Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood,
So we, boys, we
Will _die_ fighting, or _live_ free,
And down with all kings but King Ludd!

"When the web that we weave is complete,
And the shuttle exchanged for the sword,
We will fling the winding-sheet
O'er the despot at our feet,
And dye it deep in the gore he has pour'd.

"Though black as his heart its hue,
Since his veins are corrupted to mud,
Yet this is the dew
Which the tree shall renew
Of Liberty, planted by Ludd!

"There's an amiable _chanson_ for you--all impromptu. I have
written it principally to shock your neighbour * * * *, who is all
clergy and loyalty--mirth and innocence--milk and water.

"But the Carnival's coming,
Oh Thomas Moore,
The Carnival's coming,
Oh Thomas Moore,
Masking and humming,
Fifing and drumming,
Guitarring and strumming,
Oh Thomas Moore.

The other night I saw a new play,--and the author. The subject was
the sacrifice of Isaac. The play succeeded, and they called for the
author--according to continental custom--and he presented himself,
a noble Venetian, Mali, or Malapiero, by name. Mala was his name,
and _pessima_ his production,--at least, I thought so, and I ought
to know, having read more or less of five hundred Drury Lane
offerings, during my coadjutorship with the sub-and-super

"When does your poem of poems come out? I hear that the E.R. has
cut up Coleridge's Christabel, and declared against me for praising
it. I praised it, firstly, because I thought well of it; secondly,
because Coleridge was in great distress, and, after doing what
little I could for him in essentials, I thought that the public
avowal of my good opinion might help him further, at least with the
booksellers. I am very sorry that J * * has attacked him, because,
poor fellow, it will hurt him in mind and pocket. As for me, he's
welcome--I shall never think less of J * * for any thing he may say
against me or mine in future.

"I suppose Murray has sent you, or will send (for I do not know
whether they are out or no) the poem, or poesies, of mine, of last
summer. By the mass! they are sublime--'Ganion Coheriza'--gainsay
who dares! Pray, let me hear from you, and of you, and, at least,
let me know that you have received these three letters. Direct,
right _here, poste restante_.

"Ever and ever, &c.

"P.S. I heard the other day of a pretty trick of a bookseller, who
has published some d----d nonsense, swearing the bastards to me,
and saying he gave me five hundred guineas for them. He lies--never
wrote such stuff, never saw the poems, nor the publisher of them,
in my life, nor had any communication, directly or indirectly, with
the fellow. Pray say as much for me, if need be. I have written to
Murray, to make him contradict the impostor."

* * * * *


"Venice, November 25. 1816.

"It is some months since I have heard from or of you--I think, not
since I left Diodati. From Milan I wrote once or twice; but have
been here some little time, and intend to pass the winter without
removing. I was much pleased with the Lago di Garda, and with
Verona, particularly the amphitheatre, and a sarcophagus in a
convent garden, which they show as Juliet's: they insist on the
_truth_ of her history. Since my arrival at Venice, the lady of the
Austrian governor told me that between Verona and Vicenza there are
still ruins of the castle of the _Montecchi_, and a chapel once
appertaining to the Capulets. Romeo seems to have been of Vicenza
by the tradition; but I was a good deal surprised to find so firm a
faith in Bandello's novel, which seems really to have been founded
on a fact.

"Venice pleases me as much as I expected, and I expected much. It
is one of those places which I know before I see them, and has
always haunted me the most after the East. I like the gloomy gaiety
of their gondolas, and the silence of their canals. I do not even
dislike the evident decay of the city, though I regret the
singularity of its vanished costume; however, there is much left
still; the Carnival, too, is coming.

"St. Mark's, and indeed Venice, is most alive at night. The
theatres are not open till _nine_, and the society is
proportionably late. All this is to my taste, but most of your
countrymen miss and regret the rattle of hackney coaches, without
which they can't sleep.

"I have got remarkably good apartments in a private house; I see
something of the inhabitants (having had a good many letters to
some of them); I have got my gondola; I read a little, and luckily
could speak Italian (more fluently than correctly) long ago, I am
studying, out of curiosity, the _Venetian_ dialect, which is very
naïve, and soft, and peculiar, though not at all classical; I go
out frequently, and am in very good contentment.

"The Helen of Canova (a bust which is in the house of Madame the
Countess d'Albrizzi, whom I know) is, without exception, to my
mind, the most perfectly beautiful of human conceptions, and far
beyond my ideas of human execution.

"In this beloved marble view,
Above the works and thoughts of man,
What Nature _could_, but _would not_, do,
And Beauty and Canova _can_!
Beyond imagination's power,
Beyond the bard's defeated art,
With immortality her dower,
Behold the _Helen_ of the _heart_!

"Talking of the 'heart' reminds me that I have fallen in
love--fathomless love; but lest you should make some splendid
mistake, and envy me the possession of some of those princesses or
countesses with whose affections your English voyagers are apt to
invest themselves, I beg leave to tell you that my goddess is only
the wife of a 'Merchant of Venice;' but then she is pretty as an
antelope, is but two-and-twenty years old, has the large, black,
oriental eyes, with the Italian countenance, and dark glossy hair,
of the curl and colour of Lady J * *'s. Then she has the voice of a
lute, and the song of a seraph (though not quite so sacred),
besides a long postscript of graces, virtues, and accomplishments,
enough to furnish out a new chapter for Solomon's Song. But her
great merit is finding out mine--there is nothing so amiable as

"The general race of women appear to be handsome; but in Italy, as
on almost all the Continent, the highest orders are by no means a
well-looking generation, and indeed reckoned by their countrymen
very much otherwise. Some are exceptions, but most of them as ugly
as Virtue herself.

"If you write, address to me here, _poste restante_, as I shall
probably stay the winter over. I never see a newspaper, and know
nothing of England, except in a letter now and then from my sister.
Of the MS. sent you, I know nothing, except that you have received
it, and are to publish it, &c. &c.: but when, where, and how, you
leave me to guess; but it don't much matter.

"I suppose you have a world of works passing through your process
for next year? When does Moore's poem appear? I sent a letter for
him, addressed to your care, the other day."

* * * * *


"Venice, December 4, 1816.

"I have written to you so frequently of late, that you will think
me a bore; as I think you a very impolite person, for not answering
my letters from Switzerland, Milan, Verona, and Venice. There are
some things I wanted, and want, to know, viz. whether Mr. Davies,
of inaccurate memory, had or had not delivered the MS. as delivered
to him; because, if he has not, you will find that he will
bountifully bestow transcriptions on all the curious of his
acquaintance, in which case you may probably find your publication
anticipated by the 'Cambridge' or other Chronicles. In the next
place,--I forget what was next; but in the third place, I want to
hear whether you have yet published, or when you mean to do so, or
why you have not done so, because in your last (Sept. 20th,--you
may be ashamed of the date), you talked of this being done

"From England I hear nothing, and know nothing of any thing or any
body. I have but one correspondent (except Mr. Kinnaird on business
now and then), and her a female; so that I know no more of your
island, or city, than the Italian version of the French papers
chooses to tell me, or the advertisements of Mr. Colburn tagged to
the end of your Quarterly Review for the year _ago_. I wrote to you
at some length last week, and have little to add, except that I
have begun, and am proceeding in, a study of the Armenian language,
which I acquire, as well as I can, at the Armenian convent, where I
go every day to take lessons of a learned friar, and have gained
some singular and not useless information with regard to the
literature and customs of that oriental people. They have an
establishment here--a church and convent of ninety monks, very
learned and accomplished men, some of them. They have also a press,
and make great efforts for the enlightening of their nation. I find
the language (which is _twin_, the _literal_ and the _vulgar_)
difficult, but not invincible (at least I hope not). I shall go on.
I found it necessary to twist my mind round some severer study,
and this, as being the hardest I could devise here, will be a file
for the serpent.

"I mean to remain here till the spring, so address to me _directly_
to _Venice, poste restante_.--Mr. Hobhouse, for the present, is
gone to Rome, with his brother, brother's wife, and sister, who
overtook him here: he returns in two months. I should have gone
too, but I fell in love, and must stay that over. I should think
_that_ and the Armenian alphabet will last the winter. The lady
has, luckily for me, been less obdurate than the language, or,
between the two, I should have lost my remains of sanity. By the
way, she is not an Armenian but a Venetian, as I believe I told you
in my last. As for Italian, I am fluent enough, even in its
Venetian modification, which is something like the Somersetshire
version of English; and as for the more classical dialects, I had
not forgot my former practice much during my voyaging.

"Yours, ever and truly,


"P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford."

* * * * *


"Venice, Dec. 9. 1816.

"In a letter from England, I am informed that a man named Johnson
has taken upon himself to publish some poems called a 'Pilgrimage
to Jerusalem, a Tempest, and an Address to my Daughter,' &c., and
to attribute them to me, adding that he had paid five hundred
guineas for them. The answer to this is short: _I never wrote such
poems, never received the sum he mentions, nor any other in the
same quarter, nor_ (as far as moral or mortal certainty can be
sure) _ever had, directly or indirectly, the slightest
communication with Johnson in my life_; not being aware that the
person existed till this intelligence gave me to understand that
there were such people. Nothing surprises me, or this perhaps
_would_, and most things amuse me, or this probably would _not_.
With regard to myself, the man has merely _lied_; that's natural;
his betters have set him the example. But with regard to you, his
assertion may perhaps injure you in your publications; and I desire
that it may receive the most public and unqualified contradiction.
I do not know that there is any punishment for a thing of this
kind, and if there were, I should not feel disposed to pursue this
ingenious mountebank farther than was necessary for his
confutation; but thus far it may be necessary to proceed.

"You will make what use you please of this letter; and Mr.
Kinnaird, who has power to act for me in my absence, will, I am
sure, readily join you in any steps which it may be proper to take
with regard to the absurd falsehood of this poor creature. As you
will have recently received several letters from me on my way to
Venice, as well as two written since my arrival, I will not at
present trouble you further.

"Ever, &c.

"P.S. Pray let me hear that you have received this letter. Address
to Venice, _poste restante_.

"To prevent the recurrence of similar fabrications, you may state,
that I consider myself responsible for no publication from the year
1812 up to the present date which is not from your press. I speak
of course from that period, because, previously, Cawthorn and Ridge
had both printed compositions of mine. 'A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem!'
How the devil should I write about _Jerusalem_, never having yet
been there? As for 'A Tempest,' it was _not_ a _tempest_ when I
left England, but a very fresh breeze: and as to an 'Address to
little Ada,' (who, by the way, is a year old to-morrow,) I never
wrote a line about her, except in 'Farewell' and the third Canto of
Childe Harold."

* * * * *


"Venice, Dec. 27. 1816.

"As the demon of silence seems to have possessed you, I am
determined to have my revenge in postage; this is my sixth or
seventh letter since summer and Switzerland. My last was an
injunction to contradict and consign to confusion that Cheapside
impostor, who (I heard by a letter from your island) had thought
proper to append my name to his spurious poesy, of which I know
nothing, nor of his pretended purchase or copyright. I hope you
have, at least, received _that_ letter.

"As the news of Venice must be very interesting to you, I will
regale you with it.

"Yesterday being the feast of St. Stephen, every mouth was put in
motion. There was nothing but fiddling and playing on the
virginals, and all kinds of conceits and divertissements, on every
canal of this aquatic city. I dined with the Countess Albrizzi and
a Paduan and Venetian party, and afterwards went to the opera, at
the Fenice theatre (which opens for the Carnival on that day),--the
finest, by the way, I have ever seen: it beats our theatres hollow
in beauty and scenery, and those of Milan and Brescia bow before
it. The opera and its sirens were much like other operas and women,
but the subject of the said opera was something edifying; it
turned--the plot and conduct thereof--upon a fact narrated by Livy
of a hundred and fifty married ladies having poisoned a hundred and
fifty husbands in good old times. The bachelors of Rome believed
this extraordinary mortality to be merely the common effect of
matrimony or a pestilence; but the surviving Benedicts, being all
seized with the cholic, examined into the matter, and found that
'their possets had been drugged;' the consequence of which was,
much scandal and several suits at law. This is really and truly the
subject of the musical piece at the Fenice; and you can't conceive
what pretty things are sung and recitativoed about the _horrenda
strage_. The conclusion was a lady's head about to be chopped off
by a lictor, but (I am sorry to say) he left it on, and she got up
and sung a trio with the two Consuls, the Senate in the back-ground
being chorus. The ballet was distinguished by nothing remarkable,
except that the principal she-dancer went into convulsions because
she was not applauded on her first appearance; and the manager came
forward to ask if there was 'ever a physician in the theatre.'
There was a Greek one in my box, whom I wished very much to
volunteer his services, being sure that in this case these would
have been the last convulsions which would have troubled the
ballarina; but he would not. The crowd was enormous, and in coming
out, having a lady under my arm, I was obliged, in making way,
almost to 'beat a Venetian and traduce the state,' being compelled
to regale a person with an English punch in the guts, which sent
him as far back as the squeeze and the passage would admit. He did
not ask for another, but, with great signs of disapprobation and
dismay, appealed to his compatriots, who laughed at him.

"I am going on with my Armenian studies in a morning, and assisting
and stimulating in the English portion of an English and Armenian
grammar, now publishing at the convent of St. Lazarus.

"The superior of the friars is a bishop, and a fine old fellow,
with the beard of a meteor. Father Paschal is also a learned and
pious soul. He was two years in England.

"I am still dreadfully in love with the Adriatic lady whom I spake
of in a former letter, (and _not_ in _this_--I add, for fear of
mistakes, for the only one mentioned in the first part of this
epistle is elderly and bookish, two things which I have ceased to
admire,) and love in this part of the world is no sinecure. This is
also the season when every body make up their intrigues for the
ensuing year, and cut for partners for the next deal.

"And now, if you don't write, I don't know what I won't say or do,
nor what I will. Send me some news--good news. Yours very truly,
&c. &c. &c.


"P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford, with all duty.

"I hear that the Edinburgh Review has cut up Coleridge's
Christabel, and me for praising it, which omen, I think, bodes no
great good to your forthcome or coming Canto and Castle (of
Chillon). My run of luck within the last year seems to have taken a
turn every way; but never mind, I will bring myself through in the
end--if not, I can be but where I began. In the mean time, I am not
displeased to be where I am--I mean, at Venice. My Adriatic nymph
is this moment here, and I must therefore repose from this letter."

* * * * *


"Venice, Jan. 2. 1817.

"Your letter has arrived. Pray, in publishing the third Canto, have
you _omitted_ any passages? I hope _not_; and indeed wrote to you
on my way over the Alps to prevent such an incident. Say in your
next whether or not the _whole_ of the Canto (as sent to you) has
been published. I wrote to you again the other day, (_twice_, I
think,) and shall be glad to hear of the reception of those

"To-day is the 2d of January. On this day _three_ years ago The
Corsair's publication is dated, I think, in my letter to Moore. On
this day _two_ years I married, ('Whom the Lord loveth he
chasteneth,'--I sha'n't forget the day in a hurry,) and it is odd
enough that I this day received a letter from you announcing the
publication of Childe Harold, &c. &c. on the day of the date of
'The Corsair;' and I also received one from my sister, written on
the 10th of December, my daughter's birth-day (and relative chiefly
to my daughter), and arriving on the day of the date of my
marriage, this present 2d of January, the month of my birth,--and
various other astrologous matters, which I have no time to

"By the way, you might as well write to Hentsch, my Geneva banker,
and enquire whether the _two packets_ consigned to his care were or
were not delivered to Mr. St. Aubyn, or if they are still in his
keeping. One contains papers, letters, and all the original MS. of
your third Canto, as first conceived; and the other, some bones
from the field of Morat. Many thanks for your news, and the good
spirits in which your letter is written.

"Venice and I agree very well; but I do not know that I have any
thing new to say, except of the last new opera, which I sent in my
late letter. The Carnival is commencing, and there is a good deal
of fun here and there--besides business; for all the world are
making up their intrigues for the season, changing, or going on
upon a renewed lease. I am very well off with Marianna, who is not
at all a person to tire me; firstly, because I do not tire of a
woman _personally_, but because they are generally bores in their
disposition; and, secondly, because she is amiable, and has a tact
which is not always the portion of the fair creation; and, thirdly,
she is very pretty; and, fourthly--but there is no occasion for
further specification. So far we have gone on very well; as to the
future, I never anticipate--_carpe diem_--the past at least is
one's own, which is one reason for making sure of the present. So
much for my proper _liaison_.

"The general state of morals here is much the same as in the Doges'
time; a woman is virtuous (according to the code) who limits
herself to her husband and one lover; those who have two, three, or
more, are a little _wild_; but it is only those who are
indiscriminately diffuse, and form a low connection, such as the
Princess of Wales with her courier, (who, by the way, is made a
knight of Malta,) who are considered as overstepping the modesty of
marriage. In Venice, the nobility have a trick of marrying with
dancers and singers; and, truth to say, the women of their own
order are by no means handsome; but the general race, the women of
the second and other orders, the wives of the merchants, and
proprietors, and untitled gentry, are mostly _bel' sangue_, and it
is with these that the more amatory connections are usually formed.
There are also instances of stupendous constancy. I know a woman of
fifty who never had but one lover, who dying early, she became
devout, renouncing all but her husband. She piques herself, as may
be presumed, upon this miraculous fidelity, talking of it
occasionally with a species of misplaced morality, which is rather
amusing. There is no convincing a woman here that she is in the
smallest degree deviating from the rule of right or the fitness of
things in having an _amoroso_. The great sin seems to lie in
concealing it, or having more than one, that is, unless such an
extension of the prerogative is understood and approved of by the
prior claimant.

"In another sheet, I send you some sheets of a grammar, English and
Armenian, for the use of the Armenians, of which I promoted, and
indeed induced, the publication. (It cost me but a thousand
francs--French livres.) I still pursue my lessons in the language
without any rapid progress, but advancing a little daily. Padre
Paschal, with some little help from me, as translator of his
Italian into English, is also proceeding in a MS. Grammar for the
_English_ acquisition of Armenian, which will be printed also, when

"We want to know if there are any Armenian types and letter-press
in England, at Oxford, Cambridge, or elsewhere? You know, I
suppose, that, many years ago, the two Whistons published in
England an original text of a history of Armenia, with their own
Latin translation? Do those types still exist? and where? Pray
enquire among your learned acquaintance.

"When this Grammar (I mean the one now printing) is done, will you
have any objection to take forty or fifty copies, which will not
cost in all above five or ten guineas, and try the curiosity of the
learned with a sale of them? Say yes or no, as you like. I can
assure you that they have some very curious books and MSS., chiefly
translations from Greek originals now lost. They are, besides, a
much respected and learned community, and the study of their
language was taken up with great ardour by some literary Frenchmen
in Buonaparte's time.

"I have not done a stitch of poetry since I left Switzerland, and
have not, at present, the _estro_ upon me. The truth is, that you
are _afraid_ of having a _fourth_ Canto _before_ September, and of
another copyright, but I have at present no thoughts of resuming
that poem, nor of beginning any other. If I write, I think of
trying prose, but I dread introducing living people, or
applications which might be made to living people. Perhaps one day
or other I may attempt some work of fancy in prose, descriptive of
Italian manners and of human passions; but at present I am
preoccupied. As for poesy, mine is the _dream_ of the sleeping
passions; when they are awake, I cannot speak their language, only
in their somnambulism, and just now they are not dormant.

"If Mr. Gifford wants _carte blanche_ as to The Siege of Corinth,
he has it, and may do as he likes with it.

"I sent you a letter contradictory of the Cheapside man (who
invented the story you speak of) the other day. My best respects to
Mr. Gifford, and such of my friends as you may see at your house. I
wish you all prosperity and new year's gratulation, and am

"Yours," &c.

* * * * *

To the Armenian Grammar, mentioned in the foregoing letter, the following interesting fragment, found among his papers, seems to have been intended as a Preface:--

"The English reader will probably be surprised to find my name associated with a work of the present description, and inclined to give me more credit for my attainments as a linguist than they deserve.

"As I would not willingly be guilty of a deception, I will state, as shortly as I can, my own share in the compilation, with the motives which led to it. On my arrival at Venice, in the year 1816, I found my mind in a state which required study, and study of a nature which should leave little scope for the imagination, and furnish some difficulty in the pursuit.

"At this period I was much struck--in common, I believe, with every other traveller--with the society of the Convent of St. Lazarus, which appears to unite all the advantages of the monastic institution, without any of its vices.

"The neatness, the comfort, the gentleness, the unaffected devotion, the accomplishments, and the virtues of the brethren of the order, are well fitted to strike the man of the world with the conviction that 'there is another and a better' even in this life.

"These men are the priesthood of an oppressed and a noble nation, which has partaken of the proscription and bondage of the Jews and of the Greeks, without the sullenness of the former or the servility of the latter. This people has attained riches without usury, and all the honours that can be awarded to slavery without intrigue. But they have long occupied, nevertheless, a part of 'the House of Bondage,' who has lately multiplied her many mansions. It would be difficult, perhaps, to find the annals of a nation less stained with crimes than those of the Armenians, whose virtues have been those of peace, and their vices those of compulsion. But whatever may have been their destiny--and it has been bitter--whatever it may be in future, their country must ever be one of the most interesting on the globe; and perhaps their language only requires to be more studied to become more attractive. If the Scriptures are rightly understood, it was in Armenia that Paradise was placed--Armenia, which has paid as dearly as the descendants of Adam for that fleeting participation of its soil in the happiness of him who was created from its dust. It was in Armenia that the flood first abated, and the dove alighted. But with the disappearance of Paradise itself may be dated almost the unhappiness of the country; for though long a powerful kingdom, it was scarcely ever an independent one, and the satraps of Persia and the pachas of Turkey have alike desolated the region where God created man in his own image."

* * * * *


"Venice, January 28. 1817.

"Your letter of the 8th is before me. The remedy for your plethora
is simple--abstinence. I was obliged to have recourse to the like
some years ago, I mean in point of _diet_, and, with the exception
of some convivial weeks and days, (it might be months, now and
then,) have kept to Pythagoras ever since. For all this, let me
hear that you are better. You must not _indulge_ in 'filthy
beer,' nor in porter, nor eat _suppers_--the last are the devil to
those who swallow dinner.

"I am truly sorry to hear of your father's misfortune--cruel at any
time, but doubly cruel in advanced life. However, you will, at
least, have the satisfaction of doing your part by him, and depend
upon it, it will not be in vain. Fortune, to be sure, is a female,
but not such a b * * as the rest (always excepting your wife and my
sister from such sweeping terms); for she generally has some
justice in the long run. I have no spite against her, though
between her and Nemesis I have had some sore gauntlets to run--but
then I have done my best to deserve no better. But to _you_, she is
a good deal in arrear, and she will come round--mind if she don't:
you have the vigour of life, of independence, of talent, spirit,
and character all with you. What you can do for yourself, you have
done and will do; and surely there are some others in the world who
would not be sorry to be of use, if you would allow them to be
useful, or at least attempt it.

"I think of being in England in the spring. If there is a row, by
the sceptre of King Ludd, but I'll be one; and if there is none,
and only a continuance of 'this meek, piping time of peace,' I will
take a cottage a hundred yards to the south of your abode, and
become your neighbour; and we will compose such canticles, and hold
such dialogues, as shall be the terror of the _Times_ (including
the newspaper of that name), and the wonder, and honour, and
praise of the Morning Chronicle and posterity.

"I rejoice to hear of your forthcoming in February--though I
tremble for the 'magnificence' which you attribute to the new
Childe Harold. I am glad you like it; it is a fine indistinct piece
of poetical desolation, and my favourite. I was half mad during the
time of its composition, between metaphysics, mountains, lakes,
love unextinguishable, thoughts unutterable, and the night-mare of
my own delinquencies. I should, many a good day, have blown my
brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given
pleasure to my mother-in-law; and, even _then_, if I could have
been certain to haunt her--but I won't dwell upon these trifling
family matters.

"Venice is in the _estro_ of her carnival, and I have been up these
last two nights at the ridotto and the opera, and all that kind of
thing. Now for an adventure. A few days ago a gondolier brought me
a billet without a subscription, intimating a wish on the part of
the writer to meet me either in gondola, or at the island of San
Lazaro, or at a third rendezvous, indicated in the note. 'I know
the country's disposition well'--in Venice 'they do let Heaven see
those tricks they dare not show,' &c. &c.; so, for all response, I
said that neither of the three places suited me; but that I would
either be at home at ten at night alone, or be at the ridotto at
midnight, where the writer might meet me masked. At ten o'clock I
was at home and alone (Marianna was gone with her husband to a
conversazione), when the door of my apartment opened, and in
walked a well-looking and (for an Italian) _bionda_ girl of about
nineteen, who informed me that she was married to the brother of my
_amorosa_, and wished to have some conversation with me. I made a
decent reply, and we had some talk in Italian and Romaic (her
mother being a Greek of Corfu), when lo! in a very few minutes in
marches, to my very great astonishment, Marianna S * *, _in propriâ
personâ_, and after making a most polite courtesy to her
sister-in-law and to me, without a single word seizes her said
sister-in-law by the hair, and bestows upon her some sixteen slaps,
which would have made your ear ache only to hear their echo. I need
not describe the screaming which ensued. The luckless visiter took
flight. I seized Marianna, who, after several vain efforts to get
away in pursuit of the enemy, fairly went into fits in my arms;
and, in spite of reasoning, eau de Cologne, vinegar, half a pint of
water, and God knows what other waters beside, continued so till
past midnight.

"After damning my servants for letting people in without apprizing
me, I found that Marianna in the morning had seen her
sister-in-law's gondolier on the stairs, and, suspecting that his
apparition boded her no good, had either returned of her own
accord, or been followed by her maids or some other spy of her
people to the conversazione, from whence she returned to perpetrate
this piece of pugilism. I had seen fits before, and also some small
scenery of the same genus in and out of our island: but this was
not all. After about an hour, in comes--who? why, Signor S * *, her
lord and husband, and finds me with his wife fainting upon a sofa,
and all the apparatus of confusion, dishevelled hair, hats,
handkerchiefs, salts, smelling bottles--and the lady as pale as
ashes, without sense or motion. His first question was, 'What is
all this?' The lady could not reply--so I did. I told him the
explanation was the easiest thing in the world; but in the mean
time it would be as well to recover his wife--at least, her senses.
This came about in due time of suspiration and respiration.

"You need not be alarmed--jealousy is not the order of the day in
Venice, and daggers are out of fashion, while duels, on love
matters, are unknown--at least, with the husbands. But, for all
this, it was an awkward affair; and though he must have known that
I made love to Marianna, yet I believe he was not, till that
evening, aware of the extent to which it had gone. It is very well
known that almost all the married women have a lover; but it is
usual to keep up the forms, as in other nations. I did not,
therefore, know what the devil to say. I could not out with the
truth, out of regard to her, and I did not choose to lie for my
sake;--besides, the thing told itself. I thought the best way would
be to let her explain it as she chose (a woman being never at a
loss--the devil always sticks by them)--only determining to protect
and carry her off, in case of any ferocity on the part of the
Signor. I saw that he was quite calm. She went to bed, and next
day--how they settled it, I know not, but settle it they did.
Well--then I had to explain to Marianna about this
never-to-be-sufficiently-confounded sister-in-law; which I did by
swearing innocence, eternal constancy, &c. &c. But the
sister-in-law, very much discomposed with being treated in such
wise, has (not having her own shame before her eyes) told the
affair to half Venice, and the servants (who were summoned by the
fight and the fainting) to the other half. But, here, nobody minds
such trifles, except to be amused by them. I don't know whether you
will be so, but I have scrawled a long letter out of these follies.

"Believe me ever," &c.

* * * * *


"Venice, January 24. 1817.

"I have been requested by the Countess Albrizzi here to present her
with 'the Works;' and wish you therefore to send me a copy, that I
may comply with her requisition. You may include the last
published, of which I have seen and know nothing, but from your
letter of the 13th of December.

"Mrs. Leigh tells me that most of her friends prefer the two first
Cantos. I do not know whether this be the general opinion or not
(it is _not hers_); but it is natural it should be so. I, however,
think differently, which is natural also; but who is right, or who
is wrong, is of very little consequence.

"Dr. Polidori, as I hear from him by letter from Pisa, is about to
return to England, to go to the Brazils on a medical speculation
with the Danish consul. As you are in the favour of the powers that
be, could you not get him some letters of recommendation from some
of your government friends to some of the Portuguese settlers? He
understands his profession well, and has no want of general
talents; his faults are the faults of a pardonable vanity and
youth. His remaining with me was out of the question: I have enough
to do to manage my own scrapes; and as precepts without example are
not the most gracious homilies, I thought it better to give him his
congé: but I know no great harm of him, and some good. He is clever
and accomplished; knows his profession, by all accounts, well; and
is honourable in his dealings, and not at all malevolent. I think,
with luck, he will turn out a useful member of society (from which
he will lop the diseased members) and the College of Physicians. If
you can be of any use to him, or know any one who can, pray be so,
as he has his fortune to make. He has kept a _medical journal_
under the eye of _Vacca_ (the first surgeon on the Continent) at
Pisa: Vacca has corrected it, and it must contain some valuable
hints or information on the practice of this country. If you can
aid him in publishing this also, by your influence with your
brethren, do; I do not ask you to publish it yourself, because that
sort of request is too personal and embarrassing. He has also a
tragedy, of which, having seen nothing, I say nothing: but the very
circumstance of his having made these efforts (if they are only
efforts), at one-and-twenty, is in his favour, and proves him to
have good dispositions for his own improvement. So if, in the way
of commendation or recommendation, you can aid his objects with
your government friends, I wish you would, I should think some of
your Admiralty Board might be likely to have it in their power."

* * * * *


"Venice, February 15. 1817.

"I have received your two letters, but not the parcel you mention.
As the Waterloo spoils are arrived, I will make you a present of
them, if you choose to accept of them; pray do.

"I do not exactly understand from your letter what has been
omitted, or what not, in the publication; but I shall see probably
some day or other. I could not attribute any but a _good_ motive to
Mr. Gifford or yourself in such omission; but as our politics are
so very opposite, we should probably differ as to the passages.
However, if it is only a _note_ or notes, or a line or so, it
cannot signify. You say 'a _poem_;' _what_ poem? You can tell me in
your next.

"Of Mr. Hobhouse's quarrel with the Quarterly Review, I know very
little except * * 's article itself, which was certainly harsh
enough; but I quite agree that it would have been better not to
answer--particularly after Mr. _W.W._, who never more will trouble
you, trouble you. I have been uneasy, because Mr. H. told me that
his letter or preface was to be addressed to me. Now, he and I are
friends of many years; I have many obligations to him, and he none
to me, which have not been cancelled and more than repaid; but Mr.
Gifford and I are friends also, and he has moreover been literally
so, through thick and thin, in despite of difference of years,
morals, habits, and even _politics_; and therefore I feel in a very
awkward situation between the two, Mr. Gifford and my friend
Hobhouse, and can only wish that they had no difference, or that
such as they have were accommodated. The Answer I have not seen,
for--it is odd enough for people so intimate--but Mr. Hobhouse and
I are very sparing of our literary confidences. For example, the
other day he wished to have a MS. of the third Canto to read over
to his brother, &c., which was refused;--and I have never seen his
journals, nor he mine--(I only kept the short one of the mountains
for my sister)--nor do I think that hardly ever he or I saw any of
the other's productions previous to their publication.

"The article in the Edinburgh Review on Coleridge I have not seen;
but whether I am attacked in it or not, or in any other of the same
journal, I shall never think ill of Mr. Jeffrey on that account,
nor forget that his conduct towards me has been certainly most
handsome during the last four or more years.

"I forgot to mention to you that a kind of Poem in dialogue[128]
(in blank verse) or Drama, from which 'The Incantation' is an
extract, begun last summer in Switzerland, is finished; it is in
three acts; but of a very wild, metaphysical, and inexplicable
kind. Almost all the persons--but two or three--are Spirits of the
earth and air, or the waters; the scene is in the Alps; the hero a
kind of magician, who is tormented by a species of remorse, the
cause of which is left half unexplained. He wanders about invoking
these Spirits, which appear to him, and are of no use; he at last
goes to the very abode of the Evil Principle, _in propriâ personâ_,
to evocate a ghost, which appears, and gives him an ambiguous and
disagreeable answer; and in the third act he is found by his
attendants dying in a tower where he had studied his art. You may
perceive by this outline that I have no great opinion of this piece
of fantasy; but I have at least rendered it _quite impossible_ for
the stage, for which my intercourse with Drury Lane has given me
the greatest contempt.

"I have not even copied it off, and feel too lazy at present to
attempt the whole; but when I have, I will send it you, and you may
either throw it into the fire or not."

[Footnote 128: Manfred.]

* * * * *


"Venice, February 25. 1817.

"I wrote to you the other day in answer to your letter; at present
I would trouble you with a commission, if you would be kind enough
to undertake it.

"You, perhaps, know Mr. Love, the jeweller, of Old Bond Street? In
1813, when in the intention of returning to Turkey, I purchased of
him, and paid (_argent comptant_) for about a dozen snuff-boxes, of
more or less value, as presents for some of my Mussulman
acquaintance. These I have now with me. The other day, having
occasion to make an alteration in the lid of one (to place a
portrait in it), it has turned out to be _silver-gilt_ instead of
_gold_, for which last it was sold and paid for. This was
discovered by the workman in trying it, before taking off the
hinges and working upon the lid. I have of course recalled and
preserved the box _in statu quo_. What I wish you to do is, to see
the said Mr. Love, and inform him of this circumstance, adding,
from me, that I will take care he shall not have done this with

"If there is no remedy in law, there is at least the equitable one
of making known his _guilt_,--that is, his silver-_gilt_, and be
d----d to him.

"I shall carefully preserve all the purchases I made of him on that
occasion for my return, as the plague in Turkey is a barrier to
travelling there at present, or rather the endless quarantine which
would be the consequence before one could land in coming back. Pray
state the matter to him with due ferocity.

"I sent you the other day some extracts from a kind of Drama which
I had begun in Switzerland and finished here; you will tell me if
they are received. They were only in a letter. I have not yet had
energy to copy it out, or I would send you the whole in different

"The Carnival closed this day last week.

"Mr. Hobhouse is still at Rome, I believe. I am at present a little
unwell;--sitting up too late and some subsidiary dissipations have
lowered my blood a good deal; but I have at present the quiet and
temperance of Lent before me.

"Believe me, &c.

"P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford--I have not received your parcel
or parcels.--Look into 'Moore's (Dr. Moore's) View of Italy' for
me; in one of the volumes you will find an account of the _Doge
Valiere_ (it ought to be Falieri) and his conspiracy, or the
motives of it. Get it transcribed for me, and send it in a letter
to me soon. I want it, and cannot find so good an account of that
business here; though the veiled patriot, and the place where he
was crowned, and afterwards decapitated, still exist and are shown.
I have searched all their histories; but the policy of the old
aristocracy made their writers silent on his motives, which were a
private grievance against one of the patricians.

"I mean to write a tragedy on the subject, which appears to me very
dramatic; an old man, jealous, and conspiring against the state of
which he was the actually reigning chief. The last circumstance
makes it the most remarkable and only fact of the kind in all
history of all nations."

* * * * *


"Venice, February 28. 1817.

"You will, perhaps, complain as much of the frequency of my letters
now, as you were wont to do of their rarity. I think this is the
fourth within as many moons. I feel anxious to hear from you, even
more than usual, because your last indicated that you were unwell.
At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival--that
is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o'nights, had
knocked me up a little. But it is over,--and it is now Lent, with
all its abstinence and sacred music.

"The mumming closed with a masked ball at the Fenice, where I went,
as also to most of the ridottos, &c. &c.; and, though I did not
dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find 'the sword wearing out
the scabbard,' though I have but just turned the corner of

"So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword out-wears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.

I have lately had some news of litter_atoor_, as I heard the editor
of the Monthly pronounce it once upon a time. I hear that W.W. has
been publishing and responding to the attacks of the Quarterly, in
the learned Perry's Chronicle. I read his poesies last autumn, and,
amongst them, found an epitaph on his bull-dog, and another on
_myself_. But I beg leave to assure him (like the astrologer
Partridge) that I am not only alive now, but was alive also at the
time he wrote it. Hobhouse has (I hear, also) expectorated a letter
against the Quarterly, addressed to me. I feel awkwardly situated
between him and Gifford, both being my friends.

"And this is your month of going to press--by the body of Diana! (a
Venetian oath,) I feel as anxious--but not fearful for you--as if
it were myself coming out in a work of humour, which would, you
know, be the antipodes of all my previous publications. I don't
think you have any thing to dread but your own reputation. You must
keep up to that. As you never showed me a line of your work, I do
not even know your measure; but you must send me a copy by Murray
forthwith, and then you shall hear what I think. I dare say you are
in a pucker. Of all authors, you are the only really _modest_ one I
ever met with,--which would sound oddly enough to those who
recollect your morals when you were young--that is, when you were
_extremely_ young--don't mean to stigmatise you either with years
or morality.

"I believe I told you that the E.R. had attacked me, in an article
on Coleridge (I have not seen it)--'_Et tu_, Jeffrey?'--'there is
nothing but roguery in villanous man.' But I absolve him of all
attacks, present and future; for I think he had already pushed his
clemency in my behoof to the utmost, and I shall always think well
of him. I only wonder he did not begin before, as my domestic
destruction was a fine opening for all the world, of which all who
could did well to avail themselves.

"If I live ten years longer, you will see, however, that it is not
over with me--I don't mean in literature, for that is nothing; and
it may seem odd enough to say, I do not think it my vocation. But
you will see that I shall do something or other--the times and
fortune permitting--that, 'like the cosmogony, or creation of the
world, will puzzle the philosophers of all ages.' But I doubt
whether my constitution will hold out. I have, at intervals,
ex_or_cised it most devilishly.

"I have not yet fixed a time of return, but I think of the spring.
I shall have been away a year in April next. You never mention
Rogers, nor Hodgson, your clerical neighbour, who has lately got a
living near you. Has he also got a child yet?--his desideratum,
when I saw him last.

"Pray let me hear from you, at your time and leisure, believing me
ever and truly and affectionately," &c.

* * * * *


"Venice, March 3. 1817.

"In acknowledging the arrival of the article from the
'Quarterly[129],' which I received two days ago, I cannot express
myself better than in the words of my sister Augusta, who (speaking
of it) says, that it is written in a spirit 'of the most feeling
and kind nature.' It is, however, something more; it seems to me
(as far as the subject of it may be permitted to judge) to be
_very well_ written as a composition, and I think will do the
journal no discredit, because even those who condemn its partiality
must praise its generosity. The temptations to take another and a
less favourable view of the question have been so great and
numerous, that, what with public opinion, politics, &c. he must be
a gallant as well as a good man, who has ventured in that place,
and at this time, to write such an article even anonymously. Such
things are, however, their own reward; and I even flatter myself
that the writer, whoever he may be (and I have no guess), will not
regret that the perusal of this has given me as much gratification
as any composition of that nature could give, and more than any
other has given,--and I have had a good many in my time of one kind
or the other. It is not the mere praise, but there is a _tact_ and
a _delicacy_ throughout, not only with regard to me, but to
_others_, which, as it had not been observed _elsewhere_, I had
till now doubted whether it could be observed _any where_.

"Perhaps some day or other you will know or tell me the writer's
name. Be assured, had the article been a harsh one, I should not
have asked it.

"I have lately written to you frequently, with _extracts_, &c.,
which I hope you have received, or will receive, with or before
this letter.--Ever since the conclusion of the Carnival I have been
unwell, (do not mention this, on any account, to Mrs. Leigh; for if
I grow worse, she will know it too soon, and if I get better, there
is no occasion that she should know it at all,) and have hardly
stirred out of the house. However, I don't want a physician, and
if I did, very luckily those of Italy are the worst in the world,
so that I should still have a chance. They have, I believe, one
famous surgeon, Vacca, who lives at Pisa, who might be useful in
case of dissection:--but he is some hundred miles off. My malady is
a sort of lowish fever, originating from what my 'pastor and
master,' Jackson, would call 'taking too much out of one's self.'
However, I am better within this day or two.

"I missed seeing the new Patriarch's procession to St. Mark's the
other day (owing to my indisposition), with six hundred and fifty
priests in his rear--a 'goodly army.' The admirable government of
Vienna, in its edict from thence, authorising his installation,
prescribed, as part of the pageant, 'a _coach_ and four horses.' To
show how very, very '_German_ to the matter' this was, you have
only to suppose our parliament commanding the Archbishop of
Canterbury to proceed from Hyde Park Corner to St. Paul's Cathedral
in the Lord Mayor's barge, or the Margate hoy. There is but St.
Mark's Place in all Venice broad enough for a carriage to move, and
it is paved with large smooth flag-stones, so that the chariot and
horses of Elijah himself would be puzzled to manoeuvre upon it.
Those of Pharaoh might do better; for the canals--and particularly
the Grand Canal--are sufficiently capacious and extensive for his
whole host. Of course, no coach could be attempted; but the
Venetians, who are very naïve as well as arch, were much amused
with the ordinance.

"The Armenian Grammar is published; but my Armenian studies are
suspended for the present till my head aches a little less. I sent
you the other day, in two covers, the first Act of 'Manfred,' a
drama as mad as Nat. Lee's Bedlam tragedy, which was in 25 acts and
some odd scenes:--mine is but in Three Acts.

"I find I have begun this letter at the wrong end: never mind; I
must end it, then, at the right.

"Yours ever very truly and obligedly," &c.

[Footnote 129: An article in No. 31. of this Review, written, as Lord Byron afterwards discovered, by Sir Walter Scott, and well meriting, by the kind and generous spirit that breathes through it, the warm and lasting gratitude it awakened in the noble poet.]

* * * * *


"Venice, March 9. 1817.

"In remitting the third Act of the sort of dramatic poem of which
you will by this time have received the two first (at least I hope
so), which were sent within the last three weeks, I have little to
observe, except that you must not publish it (if it ever is
published) without giving me previous notice. I have really and
truly no notion whether it is good or bad; and as this was not the
case with the principal of my former publications, I am, therefore,
inclined to rank it very humbly. You will submit it to Mr. Gifford,
and to whomsoever you please besides. With regard to the question
of copyright (if it ever comes to publication), I do not know
whether you would think _three hundred_ guineas an over-estimate;
if you do, you may diminish it: I do not think it worth more; so
you may see I make some difference between it and the others.

"I have received your two Reviews (but not the 'Tales of my
Landlord'); the Quarterly I acknowledged particularly to you, on
its arrival, ten days ago. What you tell me of Perry petrifies me;
it is a rank imposition. In or about February or March, 1816, I was
given to understand that Mr. Croker was not only a coadjutor in the
attacks of the Courier in 1814, but the author of some lines
tolerably ferocious, then recently published in a morning paper.
Upon this I wrote a reprisal. The whole of the lines I have
forgotten, and even the purport of them I scarcely remember; for on
_your_ assuring me that he was not, &c. &c., I put them into the
_fire before your face_, and there _never was_ but that _one rough_
copy. Mr. Davies, the only person who ever heard them read, wanted
a copy, which I refused. If, however, by some _impossibility_,
which I cannot divine, the ghost of these rhymes should walk into
the world, I never will deny what I have really written, but hold
myself personally responsible for satisfaction, though I reserve to
myself the right of disavowing all or any _fabrications_. To the
previous facts you are a witness, and best know how far my
recapitulation is correct; and I request that you will inform Mr.
Perry from me, that I wonder he should permit such an abuse of my
name in his paper; I say an _abuse_, because my absence, at least,
demands some respect, and my presence and positive sanction could
alone justify him in such a proceeding, even were the lines mine;
and if false, there are no words for him. I repeat to you that the
original was burnt before you on your _assurance_, and there
_never_ was a _copy_, nor even a verbal repetition,--very much to
the discomfort of some zealous Whigs, who bored me for them (having
heard it bruited by Mr. Davies that there were such matters) to no
purpose; for, having written them solely with the notion that Mr.
Croker was the aggressor, and for _my own_ and not party reprisals,
I would not lend me to the zeal of any sect when I was made aware
that he was not the writer of the offensive passages. _You know_,
if there was such a thing, I would not deny it. I mentioned it
openly at the time to you, and you will remember why and where I
destroyed it; and no power nor wheedling on earth should have made,
or could make, me (if I recollected them) give a copy after that,
unless I was well assured that Mr. Croker was really the author of
that which you assured me he was not.

"I intend for England this spring, where I have some affairs to
adjust; but the post hurries me. For this month past I have been
unwell, but am getting better, and thinking of moving homewards
towards May, without going to Rome, as the unhealthy season comes
on soon, and I can return when I have settled the business I go
upon, which need not be long. I should have thought the Assyrian
tale very succeedable.

"I saw, in Mr. W.W.'s poetry, that he had written my epitaph; I
would rather have written his.

"The thing I have sent you, you will see at a glimpse, could never
be attempted or thought of for the stage; I much doubt it for
publication even. It is too much in my old style; but I composed
it actually with a _horror_ of the stage, and with a view to
render the thought of it impracticable, knowing the zeal of my
friends that I should try that for which I have an invincible
repugnance, viz. a representation.

"I certainly am a devil of a mannerist, and must leave off; but
what could I do? Without exertion of some kind, I should have sunk
under my imagination and reality. My best respects to Mr. Gifford,
to Walter Scott, and to all friends.

"Yours ever."

* * * * *


"Venice, March 10. 1817.

"I wrote again to you lately, but I hope you won't be sorry to have
another epistle. I have been unwell this last month, with a kind of
slow and low fever, which fixes upon me at night, and goes off in
the morning; but, however, I am now better. In spring it is
probable we may meet; at least I intend for England, where I have
business, and hope to meet you in _your_ restored health and
additional laurels.

"Murray has sent me the Quarterly and the Edinburgh. When I tell
you that Walter Scott is the author of the article in the former,
you will agree with me that such an article is still more
honourable to him than to myself. I am perfectly pleased with
Jeffrey's also, which I wish you to tell him, with my
remembrances--not that I suppose it is of any consequence to him,
or ever could have been, whether I am pleased or not, but simply in
my private relation to him, as his well-wisher, and it may be one
day as his acquaintance. I wish you would also add, what you know,
that I was not, and, indeed, am not even now, the misanthropical
and gloomy gentleman he takes me for, but a facetious companion,
well to do with those with whom I am intimate, and as loquacious
and laughing as if I were a much cleverer fellow.

"I suppose now I shall never be able to shake off my sables in
public imagination, more particularly since my moral * * clove down
my fame. However, nor that, nor more than that, has yet
extinguished my spirit, which always rises with the rebound.

"At Venice we are in Lent, and I have not lately moved out of
doors, my feverishness requiring quiet, and--by way of being more
quiet--here is the Signora Marianna just come in and seated at my

"Have you seen * * *'s book of poesy? and, if you have seen it, are
you not delighted with it? And have you--I really cannot go on:
there is a pair of great black eyes looking over my shoulder, like
the angel leaning over St. Matthew's, in the old frontispieces to
the Evangelists,--so that I must turn and answer them instead of

"Ever," &c.

* * * * *


"Venice, March 25. 1817.

"I have at last learned, in default of your own writing (or _not_
writing--which should it be? for I am not very clear as to the
application of the word _default_) from Murray, two particulars of
(or belonging to) you; one, that you are removing to Hornsey, which
is, I presume, to be nearer London; and the other, that your Poem
is announced by the name of Lalla Rookh. I am glad of it,--first,
that we are to have it at last, and next, I like a tough title
myself--witness The Giaour and Childe Harold, which choked half the
Blues at starting. Besides, it is the tail of Alcibiades's
dog,--not that I suppose you want either dog or tail. Talking of
tail, I wish you had not called it a '_Persian Tale_'[130] Say a
'Poem' or 'Romance,' but not 'Tale.' I am very sorry that I called
some of my own things 'Tales,' because I think that they are
something better. Besides, we have had Arabian, and Hindoo, and
Turkish, and Assyrian Tales. But, after all, this is frivolous in
me; you won't, however, mind my nonsense.

"Really and truly, I want you to make a great hit, if only out of
self-love, because we happen to be old cronies; and I have no doubt
you will--I am sure you _can_. But you are, I'll be sworn, in a
devil of a pucker; and _I_ am not at your elbow, and Rogers _is_. I
envy him; which is not fair, because he does not envy any body.
Mind you send to me--that is, make Murray send--the moment you are

"I have been very ill with a slow fever, which at last took to
flying, and became as quick as need be.[131] But, at length, after
a week of half-delirium, burning skin, thirst, hot headach,
horrible pulsation, and no sleep, by the blessing of barley water,
and refusing to see any physician, I recovered. It is an epidemic
of the place, which is annual, and visits strangers. Here follow
some versicles, which I made one sleepless night.

"I read the 'Christabel;'
Very well:
I read the 'Missionary;'
I tried at 'Ilderim;'
I read a sheet of 'Marg'ret of _Anjou_;'
_Can you_?
I turn'd a page of * *'s 'Waterloo;'
Pooh! pooh!
I look'd at Wordsworth's milk-white 'Rylstone Doe:'
&c. &c. &c.

"I have not the least idea where I am going, nor what I am to do. I
wished to have gone to Rome; but at present it is pestilent with
English,--a parcel of staring boobies, who go about gaping and
wishing to be at once cheap and magnificent. A man is a fool who
travels now in France or Italy, till this tribe of wretches is
swept home again. In two or three years the first rush will be
over, and the Continent will be roomy and agreeable.

"I stayed at Venice chiefly because it is not one of their 'dens of
thieves;' and here they but pause and pass. In Switzerland it was
really noxious. Luckily, I was early, and had got the prettiest
place on all the Lake before they were quickened into motion with
the rest of the reptiles. But they crossed me every where. I met a
family of children and old women half-way up the Wengen Alp (by the
Jungfrau) upon mules, some of them too old and others too young to
be the least aware of what they saw.

"By the way, I think the Jungfrau, and all that region of Alps,
which I traversed in September--going to the very top of the
Wengen, which is not the highest (the Jungfrau itself is
inaccessible) but the best point of view--much finer than
Mont-Blanc and Chamouni, or the Simplon I kept a journal of the
whole for my sister Augusta, part of which she copied and let
Murray see.

"I wrote a sort of mad Drama, for the sake of introducing the
Alpine scenery in description: and this I sent lately to Murray.
Almost all the _dram. pers._ are spirits, ghosts, or magicians,
and the scene is in the Alps and the other world, so you may
suppose what a Bedlam tragedy it must be: make him show it you. I
sent him all three acts piece-meal, by the post, and suppose they
have arrived.

"I have now written to you at least six letters, or lettered, and
all I have received in return is a note about the length you used
to write from Bury Street to St. James's Street, when we used to
dine with Rogers, and talk laxly, and go to parties, and hear poor
Sheridan now and then. Do you remember one night he was so tipsy
that I was forced to put his cocked hat on for him,--for he could
not,--and I let him down at Brookes's, much as he must since have
been let down into his grave. Heigh ho! I wish I was drunk--but I
have nothing but this d----d barley-water before me.

"I am still in love,--which is a dreadful drawback in quitting a
place, and I can't stay at Venice much longer. What I shall do on
this point I don't know. The girl means to go with me, but I do not
like this for her own sake. I have had so many conflicts in my own
mind on this subject, that I am not at all sure they did not help
me to the fever I mentioned above. I am certainly very much
attached to her, and I have cause to be so, if you knew all. But
she has a child; and though, like all the 'children of the sun,'
she consults nothing but passion, it is necessary I should think
for both; and it is only the virtuous, like * * * *, who can afford
to give up husband and child, and live happy ever after.

"The Italian ethics are the most singular ever met with. The
perversion, not only of action, but of reasoning, is singular in
the women. It is not that they do not consider the thing itself as
wrong, and very wrong, but _love_ (the _sentiment_ of love) is not
merely an excuse for it, but makes it an _actual virtue_, provided
it is disinterested, and not a _caprice_, and is confined to one
object. They have awful notions of constancy; for I have seen some
ancient figures of eighty pointed out as amorosi of forty, fifty,
and sixty years' standing. I can't say I have ever seen a husband
and wife so coupled.

"Ever, &c.

"P.S. Marianna, to whom I have just translated what I have written
on our subject to you, says--'If you loved me thoroughly, you would
not make so many fine reflections, which are only good _forbirsi i
scarpi_,'--that is, 'to clean shoes withal,'--a Venetian proverb of
appreciation, which is applicable to reasoning of all kinds."

[Footnote 130: He had been misinformed on this point,--the work in question having been, from the first, entitled an "Oriental Romance." A much worse mistake (because wilful, and with no very charitable design) was that of certain persons, who would have it that the poem was meant to be epic!--Even Mr. D'Israeli has, for the sake of a theory, given in to this very gratuitous assumption:--"The Anacreontic poet," he says, "remains only Anacreontic in his Epic."]

[Footnote 131: In a note to Mr. Murray, subjoined to some corrections for Manfred, he says, "Since I wrote to you last, the _slow_ fever I wot of thought proper to mend its pace, and became similar to one which I caught some years ago in the marshes of Elis, in the Morea."]

* * * * *


"Venice, March 25. 1817.

"Your letter and enclosure are safe; but 'English gentlemen' are
very rare--at least in Venice. I doubt whether there are at present
any, save, the consul and vice-consul, with neither of whom I have
the slightest acquaintance. The moment I can pounce upon a witness,
I will send the deed properly signed: but must he necessarily be
genteel? Venice is not a place where the English are gregarious;
their pigeon-houses are Florence, Naples, Rome, &c.; and to tell
you the truth, this was one reason why I stayed here till the
season of the purgation of Rome from these people, which is
infected with them at this time, should arrive. Besides, I abhor
the nation and the nation me; it is impossible for me to describe
my _own_ sensation on that point, but it may suffice to say, that,
if I met with any of the race in the beautiful parts of
Switzerland, the most distant glimpse or aspect of them poisoned
the whole scene, and I do not choose to have the Pantheon, and St.
Peter's, and the Capitol, spoiled for me too. This feeling may be
probably owing to recent events; but it does not exist the less,
and while it exists, I shall conceal it as little as any other.

"I have been seriously ill with a fever, but it is gone. I believe
or suppose it was the indigenous fever of the place, which comes
every year at this time, and of which the physicians change the
name annually, to despatch the people sooner. It is a kind of
typhus, and kills occasionally. It was pretty smart, but nothing
particular, and has left me some debility and a great appetite.
There are a good many ill at present, I suppose, of the same.

"I feel sorry for Horner, if there was any thing in the world to
make him like it; and still more sorry for his friends, as there
was much to make them regret him. I had not heard of his death
till by your letter.

"Some weeks ago I wrote to you my acknowledgments of Walter Scott's
article. Now I know it to be his, it cannot add to my good opinion
of him, but it adds to that of myself. _He_, and Gifford, and
Moore, are the only _regulars_ I ever knew who had nothing of the
_garrison_ about their manner: no nonsense, nor affectations, look
you! As for the rest whom I have known, there was always more or
less of the author about them--the pen peeping from behind the ear,
and the thumbs a little inky, or so.

"'Lalla Rookh'--you must recollect that, in the way of title, the
'_Giaour_' has never been pronounced to this day; and both it and
Childe Harold sounded very facetious to the blue-bottles of wit and
humour about town, till they were taught and startled into a proper
deportment; and therefore Lalla Rookh, which is very orthodox and
oriental, is as good a title as need be, if not better. I could
wish rather that he had not called it '_a Persian Tale_;' firstly,
because we have had Turkish Tales, and Hindoo Tales, and Assyrian
Tales, already; and _tale_ is a word of which it repents me to have
nicknamed poesy. 'Fable' would be better; and, secondly, 'Persian
Tale' reminds one of the lines of Pope on Ambrose Phillips; though
no one can say, to be sure, that this tale has been 'turned for
half-a-crown;' still it is as well to avoid such clashings.
'Persian Story'--why not?--or Romance? I feel as anxious for Moore
as I could do for myself, for the soul of me, and I would not have
him succeed otherwise than splendidly, which I trust he will do.

"With regard to the 'Witch Drama,' I sent all the three acts by
post, week after week, within this last month. I repeat that I have
not an idea if it is good or bad. If bad, it must, on no account,
be risked in publication; if good, it is at your service I value it
at _three hundred_ guineas, or less, if you like it. Perhaps, if
published, the best way will be to add it to your winter volume,
and not publish separately. The price will show you I don't pique
myself upon it; so speak out. You may put it in the fire, if you
like, and Gifford don't like.

"The Armenian Grammar is published--that is, _one_; the other is
still in MS. My illness has prevented me from moving this month
past, and I have done nothing more with the Armenian.

"Of Italian or rather Lombard manners, I could tell you little or
nothing: I went two or three times to the governor's conversazione,
(and if you go once, you are free to go always,) at which, as I
only saw very plain women, a formal circle, in short a _worst sort_
of rout, I did not go again. I went to Academie and to Madame
Albrizzi's, where I saw pretty much the same thing, with the
addition of some literati, who are the same _blue_[132], by ----,
all the world over. I fell in love the first week with Madame * *,
and I have continued so ever since, because she is very pretty and
pleasing, and talks Venetian, which amuses me, and is naïve.

"Very truly, &c.

"P.S. Pray send the red tooth-powder by a _safe hand_, and

"To hook the reader, you, John Murray,
Have publish'd 'Anjou's Margaret,'
Which won't be sold off in a hurry
(At least, it has not been as yet);
And then, still further to bewilder 'em,
Without remorse you set up 'Ilderim;'
So mind you don't get into debt,
Because as how, if you should fail,
These books would be but baddish bail.
And mind you do _not_ let escape
These rhymes to Morning Post or Perry,
Which would be _very_ treacherous--_very_,
And get me into such a scrape!
For, firstly, I should have to sally,
All in my little boat, against a _Gally_;
And, should I chance to slay the Assyrian wight,
Have next to combat with the female knight.

"You may show these matters to Moore and the select, but not to the
_profane_; and tell Moore, that I wonder he don't write to one now
and then."

[Footnote 132: Whenever a word or passage occurs (as in this instance) which Lord Byron would have pronounced emphatically in speaking, it appears, in his handwriting, as if written with something of the same vehemence.]

[Footnote 133: Here follow the same rhymes ("I read the Christabel," &c.) which have already been given in one of his letters to myself.]

* * * * *


"Venice, March 31. 1817.

"You will begin to think my epistolary offerings (to whatever altar
you please to devote them) rather prodigal. But until you answer, I
shall not abate, because you deserve no better. I know you are
well, because I hear of your voyaging to London and the environs,
which I rejoice to learn, because your note alarmed me by the
purgation and phlebotomy therein prognosticated. I also hear of
your being in the press; all which, methinks, might have furnished
you with subject-matter for a middle-sized letter, considering that
I am in foreign parts, and that the last month's advertisements and
obituary would be absolute news to me from your Tramontane country.

"I told you, in my last, I have had a smart fever. There is an
epidemic in the place; but I suspect, from the symptoms, that mine
was a fever of my own, and had nothing in common with the low,
vulgar typhus, which is at this moment decimating Venice, and which
has half unpeopled Milan, if the accounts be true. This malady has
sorely discomfited my serving men, who want sadly to be gone away,
and get me to remove. But, besides my natural perversity, I was
seasoned in Turkey, by the continual whispers of the plague,
against apprehensions of contagion. Besides which, apprehension
would not prevent it; and then I am still in love, and 'forty
thousand' fevers should not make me stir before my minute, while
under the influence of that paramount delirium. Seriously
speaking, there is a malady rife in the city--a dangerous one, they
say. However, mine did not appear so, though it was not pleasant.

"This is Passion-week--and twilight--and all the world are at
vespers. They have an eternal churching, as in all Catholic
countries, but are not so bigoted as they seem to be in Spain.

"I don't know whether to be glad or sorry that you are leaving
Mayfield. Had I ever been at Newstead during your stay there,
(except during the winter of 1813-14, when the roads were
impracticable,) we should have been within hail, and I should like
to have made a giro of the Peak with you. I know that country well,
having been all over it when a boy. Was you ever in Dovedale? I can
assure you there are things in Derbyshire as noble as Greece or
Switzerland. But you had always a lingering after London, and I
don't wonder at it. I liked it as well as any body, myself, now and

"Will you remember me to Rogers? whom I presume to be flourishing,
and whom I regard as our poetical papa. You are his lawful son, and
I the illegitimate. Has he begun yet upon Sheridan? If you see our
republican friend, Leigh Hunt, pray present my remembrances. I saw
about nine months ago that he was in a row (like my friend
Hobhouse) with the Quarterly Reviewers. For my part, I never could
understand these quarrels of authors with critics and with one
another. 'For God's sake, gentlemen, what do they mean?'

"What think you of your countryman, Maturin? I take some credit to
myself for having done my best to bring out Bertram; but I must say
my colleagues were quite as ready and willing. Walter Scott,
however, was the _first_ who mentioned him, which he did to me,
with great commendation, in 1815; and it is to this casualty, and
two or three other accidents, that this very clever fellow owed his
first and well-merited public success. What a chance is fame!

"Did I tell you that I have translated two Epistles?--a
correspondence between St. Paul and the Corinthians, not to be
found in our version, but the Armenian--but which seems to me very
orthodox, and I have done it into scriptural prose English.[134]

"Ever," &c.

[Footnote 134: The only plausible claim of these epistles to authenticity arises from the circumstance of St. Paul having (according to the opinion of Mosheim and others) written an epistle to the Corinthians, before that which we now call his first. They are, however, universally given up as spurious. Though frequently referred to as existing in the Armenian, by Primate Usher, Johan. Gregorius, and other learned men, they were for the first time, I believe, translated from that language by the two Whistons, who subjoined the correspondence, with a Greek and Latin version, to their edition of the Armenian History of Moses of Chorene, published in 1736.

The translation by Lord Byron is, as far as I can learn, the first that has ever been attempted in English; and as, proceeding from _his_ pen, it must possess, of course, additional interest, the reader will not be displeased to find it in the Appendix. Annexed to the copy in my possession are the following words in his own handwriting:--"Done into English by me, January, February, 1817, at the Convent of San Lazaro, with the aid and exposition of the Armenian text by the Father Paschal Aucher, Armenian friar.--BYRON. I had also (he adds) the Latin text, but it is in many places very corrupt, and with great omissions."]

* * * * *


"Venice, April 2. 1817.

"I sent you the whole of the Drama at _three several_ times, act by
act, in separate covers. I hope that you have, or will receive,
some or the whole of it.

"So Love has a conscience. By Diana! I shall make him take back the
box, though it were Pandora's. The discovery of its intrinsic
silver occurred on sending it to have the lid adapted to admit
Marianna's portrait. Of course I had the box remitted _in statu
quo_, and had the picture set in another, which suits it (the
picture) very well. The defaulting box is not touched, hardly, and
was not in the man's hands above an hour.

"I am aware of what you say of Otway; and am a very great admirer
of his,--all except of that maudlin b--h of chaste lewdness and
blubbering curiosity, Belvidera, whom I utterly despise, abhor, and
detest. But the story of Marino Faliero is different, and, I think,
so much finer, that I wish Otway had taken it instead: the head
conspiring against the body for refusal of redress for a real
injury,--jealousy--treason, with the more fixed and inveterate
passions (mixed with policy) of an old or elderly man--the devil
himself could not have a finer subject, and he is your only tragic

"There is still, in the Doge's palace, the black veil painted over
Faliero's picture, and the staircase whereon he was first crowned
Doge, and subsequently decapitated. This was the thing that most
struck my imagination in Venice--more than the Rialto, which I
visited for the sake of Shylock; and more, too, than Schiller's
'_Armenian_,' a novel which took a great hold of me when a boy. It
is also called the 'Ghost Seer,' and I never walked down St. Mark's
by moonlight without thinking of it, and 'at nine o'clock he
died!'--But I hate things _all fiction_; and therefore the
_Merchant_ and _Othello_ have no great associations to me: but
_Pierre_ has. There should always be some foundation of fact for
the most airy fabric, and pure invention is but the talent of a

"Maturin's tragedy.--By your account of him last year to me, he
seemed a bit of a coxcomb, personally. Poor fellow! to be sure, he
had had a long seasoning of adversity, which is not so hard to bear
as t'other thing. I hope that this won't throw him back into the
'slough of Despond.'

"You talk of 'marriage;'--ever since my own funeral, the word makes
me giddy, and throws me into a cold sweat. Pray, don't repeat it.

"You should close with Madame de Staël. This will be her best work,
and permanently historical; it is on her father, the Revolution,
and Buonaparte, &c. Bunstetten told me in Switzerland it was
_very_ _great_. I have not seen it myself, but the author often.
She was very kind to me at Copet.

"There have been two articles in the Venice papers, one a Review of
Glenarvon * * * *, and the other a Review of Childe Harold, in
which it proclaims me the most rebellious and contumacious admirer
of Buonaparte now surviving in Europe. Both these articles are
translations from the Literary Gazette of German Jena.

"Tell me that Walter Scott is better. I would not have him ill for
the world. I suppose it was by sympathy that I had my fever at the
same time.

"I joy in the success of your Quarterly, but I must still stick by
the Edinburgh; Jeffrey has done so by me, I must say, through every
thing, and this is more than I deserved from him. I have more than
once acknowledged to you by letter the 'Article' (and articles);
say that you have received the said letters, as I do not otherwise
know what letters arrive. Both Reviews came, but nothing more. M.'s
play and the extract not yet come.

"Write to say whether my Magician has arrived, with all his scenes,
spells, &c. Yours ever, &c.

"It is useless to send to the _Foreign Office_: nothing arrives to
me by that conveyance. I suppose some zealous clerk thinks it a
Tory duty to prevent it."

* * * * *


"Venice, April 4. 1817.

"It is a considerable time since I wrote to you last, and I hardly
know why I should trouble you now, except that I think you will
not be sorry to hear from me now and then. You and I were never
correspondents, but always something better, which is, very good

"I saw your friend Sharp in Switzerland, or rather in the German
_territory_ (which is and is not Switzerland), and he gave Hobhouse
and me a very good route for the Bernese Alps; however we took
another from a German, and went by Clarens, the Dent de Jamen to
Montbovon, and through Simmenthal to Thoun, and so on to
Lauterbrounn; except that from thence to the Grindelwald, instead
of round about, we went right over the Wengen Alps' very summit,
and being close under the Jungfrau, saw it, its glaciers, and heard
the avalanches in all their glory, having famous weather
there_for_. We of course went from the Grindelwald over the
Sheidech to Brientz and its lake; past the Reichenbach and all that
mountain road, which reminded me of Albania and Ætolia and Greece,
except that the people here were more civilised and rascally. I do
not think so very much of Chamouni (except the source of the
Arveron, to which we went up to the teeth of the ice, so as to look
into and touch the cavity, against the warning of the guides, only
one of whom would go with us so close,) as of the Jungfrau, and the
Pissevache, and Simplon, which are quite out of all mortal

"I was at Milan about a moon, and saw Monti and some other living
curiosities, and thence on to Verona, where I did not forget your
story of the assassination during your sojourn there, and brought
away with me some fragments of Juliet's tomb, and a lively
recollection of the amphitheatre. The Countess Goetz (the
governor's wife here) told me that there is still a ruined castle
of the Montecchi between Verona and Vicenza. I have been at Venice
since November, but shall proceed to Rome shortly. For my deeds
here, are they not written in my letters to the unreplying Thomas
Moore? to him I refer you: he has received them all, and not
answered one.

"Will you remember me to Lord and Lady Holland? I have to thank
the former for a book which. I have not yet received, but expect to
reperuse with great pleasure on my return, viz. the 2d edition of
Lope de Vega. I have heard of Moore's forthcoming poem: he cannot
wish himself more success than I wish and augur for him. I have
also heard great things of 'Tales of my Landlord,' but I have not
yet received them; by all accounts they beat even Waverley, &c.,
and are by the same author. Maturin's second tragedy has, it seems,
failed, for which I should think any body would be sorry. My health
was very victorious till within the last month, when I had a fever.
There is a typhus in these parts, but I don't think it was that.
However, I got well without a physician or drugs.

"I forgot to tell you that, last autumn, I furnished Lewis with
'bread and salt' for some days at Diodati, in reward for which
(besides his conversation) he translated 'Goethe's Faust' to me by
word of mouth, and I set him by the ears with Madame de Staël about
the slave trade. I am indebted for many and kind courtesies to our
Lady of Copet, and I now love her as much as I always did her
works, of which I was and am a great admirer. When are you to begin
with Sheridan? what are you doing, and how do you do? Ever very
truly," &c.




New Street Square

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