WITH HIS LETTERS AND JOURNALS.
BY THOMAS MOORE, ESQ.
IN SIX VOLUMES.—VOL. III.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET. 1854.
CONTENTS OF VOL. III.
LETTERS AND JOURNALS OF LORD BYRON, WITH NOTICES OF HIS LIFE, from February, 1814, to April, 1817.
LIFE OF LORD BYRON.
"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, 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."]
"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 infima 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.
"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, 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, 'Vae 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 Stael, 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.
"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 mechancete.
"Received many, and the kindest, thanks from Lady Portsmouth, pere and mere, 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, 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 unwell.
"Yesterday, dined tete-a-tete 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.
"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; 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.'
"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. 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.
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"Sunday, Jan. 2. 1814.
"Excuse this dirty paper—it is the penultimate 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. 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.
[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.]
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"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."
* * * * *
LETTER 155. TO MR. MOORE.
"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 Camaenae."
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"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 docile.
"The name is again altered to Medora"
[Footnote 7: It had been at first Genevra,—not Francesca, as Mr. Dallas asserts.]
* * * * *
LETTER 156. TO MR. MOORE.
"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. 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,
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"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 Stael; 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."
* * * * *
TO MR. MOORE.
"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."
* * * * *
LETTER 157. TO MR. MURRAY.
"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., 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. Caesar.'"]
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
["1814. January 16.]
"I do believe that the devil never created or perverted such a fiend as the fool of a printer. 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."]
* * * * *
LETTER 158. TO MR. MURRAY.
"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 particularly.
"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,' 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." ]
* * * * *
LETTER 159. TO MR. MURRAY.
"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. 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 authorship.
"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 satisfaction.
"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."]
* * * * *
LETTER 160. TO MR. MURRAY.
"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. 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 myself,
"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 answerable."
[Footnote 13: Reprinting the "Hours of Idleness."]
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"Newark, February 6. 1814.
"I am thus far on my way to town. Master Ridge 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.]
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"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.'"
* * * * *
LETTER 161. TO MR. HODGSON.
"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."
* * * * *
LETTER 162. TO MR. MOORE.
"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 cholos 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, and
"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 dregs.'"
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"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.
"You need not trouble yourself to answer this; but send me the things when you get them."
* * * * *
TO MR. MURRAY.
"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 topics."
* * * * *
LETTER 163. TO MR. MURRAY.
"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."
* * * * *
LETTER 164. TO MR. ROGERS.
"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. 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. 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.]
* * * * *
LETTER 165. TO MR. ROGERS.
"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,
* * * * *
LETTER 166. TO MR. MOORE.
"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;—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; pray, repeat yours soon,—at least your letter, and I shall think the benediction included.
[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."]
* * * * *
LETTER 167. TO MR. DALLAS.
"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 ; 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.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING POST.
"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."
* * * * *
LETTER. 163. TO MR. MOORE.
"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 proper.
"* * 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,
* * * * *
LETTER 170. TO MR. MOORE.
"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,—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, &c.
"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 'ecrire par passion,' as Rousseau expresses it, may be sometimes a shorter road to perfection than any that Art has ever struck out.]
* * * * *
LETTER 171. TO MR. MOORE.
"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 pleased.
"I cannot conceive how the Vault 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; 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.]
* * * * *
LETTER 172. TO MR. MURRAY.
"March 12. 1814.
"I have not time to read the whole MS. , 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 subject!"
[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.]
* * * * *
LETTER 173. TO MR. MURRAY.
"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 acknowledgments."
* * * * *
LETTER 174. TO MR. MOORE.
"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.