LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron
Chapter V

Table of Contents
Preliminary Statement
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
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1808 TO THE END OF 1814;




R. C. DALLAS, Esq.








Early in July, 1811, I received a letter from Lord Byron, written on board the Volage frigate, at sea, on the 28th of June, in which, after informing me of his approaching return, he shortly recapitulates the principal countries he has travelled through, and does not forget to mention his swimming from Sestos to Abydos. He expected little pleasure in coming home, though he brought a spirit still unbroken. He dreaded the trouble he should have to encounter in the arrangement of his affairs. His Satire was at that time in the fourth
edition; and at that period, being able to think and act more coolly, he affected to feel sorry that he had written it. This was, however, an immense sacrifice to a vague sense of propriety, as is clear from his having even then in his possession an imitation of
Horace’s Art of Poetry, ready for the press, which was nothing but a continuation of the Satire; and also from the subsequent preparation of a fifth edition of the very work which he professed to regret having written.

Lord Byron frequently exercised his wit upon the subject of a young man of the name of Blackett—so poor that he worked in a garret, as a shoemaker, and did not procure sufficient employment to make life tolerably comfortable; in spite of which he married, and had children. In his unoccupied hours he made verses as well as shoes. Some of these found their way into the hands of Mr. Pratt, himself a successful writer,
whose benevolence and enthusiasm always equalled, and sometimes outstripped, his judgment. He immediately saw latent genius in those essays of an uneducated man, sought him, became confirmed in the opinion he had formed, and, doubly excited by the miserable state in which he found him, resolved to do him all the service that his pen and influence could effect publicly and privately. He collected a volume of his writings sufficient to form the foundation of a subscription, which soon became so ample as to lower him from his attics. Pratt then persuaded
Mr. Elliston, the actor, to be among his applauders and protectors. I remember hearing Mr. Elliston speak of a dramatic production of Blackett’s with infinite ardour, and of the author as a wonderful genius. I do not, however, think that he ever produced the piece. Other patrons and patronesses appeared; and it is a curious incident that one of the latter,
then a perfect stranger to Lord Byron, should afterwards become his
wife. That lady and her parents were very kind to Blackett; invited him, as I was informed, to the country where their estates lie, and accommodated him with a cottage to reside in. The poor fellow’s constitution, either originally weak, or undermined by the hardships of poverty, failed him at a very early period of life. After some stay at the cottage, he was advised to go and breathe the air of his native place, though situated more to the north. There, for a short time, he comforted his mother, and was comforted by her, and by the benevolent attentions of several kind physicians. Upon his death, Mr. Pratt collected all his additional compositions; and, adopting the title which Mr. Southey had given to the works of Kirke White, published the whole of his writings together as “The Remains of Joseph Blackett,” by which another con-
siderable collection was made, and formed into a fund for the support of Blackett’s surviving daughter.

Genius, we well know, is not the exclusive inheritance of the affluent, but without a considerable degree of education it has not the means of displaying itself, especially in poetry, where the flowers of language are almost, as essential as the visions of fancy. Rhetoric and grammar are not necessary in mechanics and mathematics, but they must be possessed by the Poet, whose title to genius may be overturned by the confusion of metaphors and the incongruities of tropes. I believe all the Poets of low origin partook, more or less, of the advantages of education. The last of these was Kirke White, whose learning and piety, however, I always thought far superior to his poetical nerve. Blackett was deficient in common learning. I had more pleasure in observing the improvement of his condi-
tion than in the perusal of his writings; though, in spite of the ridicule of
Lord Byron, and my Ionian friend, as Lord Byron called Waller Wright, I saw, or was persuaded by Mr. Pratt’s warmth to see, some sparkling of genius in the effusions of this young man. It was upon this that Lord Byron and a young friend of his were sometimes playful in conversation; and, in writing to me, “I see,” says the latter, “that Blackett the Son of Crispin and Apollo is dead. Looking into Boswell’s Life of Johnson the other day, I saw, ‘We were talking about the famous Mr. Wordsworth, the poetical Shoemaker;’—Now, I never before heard that there had been a Mr. Wordsworth a Poet, a Shoemaker, or a famous man; and I dare say you have never heard of him. Thus it will be with Bloomfield and Blackett—their names two years after their death will be found neither on the rolls of Curriers’ Hall nor of Par-
nassus. Who would think that any body would be such a blockhead as to sin against an express proverb, ‘Ne sutor ultra crepidam!’
But spare him, ye Critics, his follies are past,
For the Cobler is come, as he ought, to his last.
Which two lines, with a scratch under last, to shew where the joke lies, I beg that you will prevail on
Miss Milbank to have inserted on the tomb of her departed Blackett.” In my reply, I said, “With respect to Blackett, whatever you may think of his presumption in attempting to ascend Parnassus, you cannot blame him for descending from a garret to a drawing-room; for changing starvation and misery for good food and flattering attention; an unwilling apothecary, for physicians rivalling one another in solicitude and disinterested attendance; which change, I can assure you, is nothing more than literal truth.” This produced the following rejoinder: “You seem
to me to put Blackett’s case quite in the right light:—to be sure any one would rise if he could, and any one has a right to make the effort; but then any one, on the other hand, has a right to keep the aspirant down, if he thinks the man’s pretensions ill-founded. I do not laugh at Blackett, but at those who flattered him. He, poor fellow, was perfectly right, if he could find protectors, to gain them, either by verse-making or shoe-making. Indeed, he was right in trying the former, as by far the most easy and expeditious of the two. Were a regular bred author, a gentleman of education, to write like them, their verses would not be tolerated. But every one is in a stare of admiration that a cobler or a tinker should be able to rhyme at all. We gaze at them, not at their poetry, which is like the crabs found in the heart of a rock:
‘The thing we know is neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil it got there.’
Some applaud the prodigy out of sheer bad taste; they do not know that his nonsense is nonsense; others out of pure humanity and goodness of heart. The first are such people as Pratt and
Capel Lofft: the second, such critics as yourself, my dear Sir. But this is, as I said before, a piece of injustice to men of education, who may sweat, strain, and labour, and, when they have done their best, hear their own qualifications quoted against them:—The world says, ‘Mr. —— ought to have known better—I wonder a man of his education should fail so wretchedly.’ You must not bring G * * against me, nor a much greater man, Burns, because the one was a cobler, and the other a ploughman: for, reading their verses, we never think of the poet; no, we only are intent upon and admire the poetry, which would have delighted us had it been written by Dryden, or Gay, or any other great name. In the other case, we
ought to content ourselves with saying, ‘There goes a wonderful cobler.’ It is folly and falsehood to say, ‘Look at that poet, he was a cobler once.’ It is very true that he was a cobler once; but it is not true that he is a poet now. Shall I tell you, however, to what the reputation of this sort of men is owing? Doubtless it is to the vanity of those who choose to set up for patrons, and who, because men of sense and character would scorn their protection, look out for little sparklings of talent in the depth and darkness of cellars and stalls, and having popped upon something to their mind, stamp it with their own seal of merit to pass current with the world. You know a man of true genius will not suffer himself to be patronized; but a patron is the life and soul and existence of your surprising fellows. The only legitimate patron is the respectable bookseller, and he will not take a cobler’s verses, unless they are brought
to him by some
Mæcenas who will promise to run all risks.”

Upon receiving Lord Byron’s letter from on-board the Volage, I wrote him the following:—

“I called this morning at Reddish’s Hotel, with the hope of hearing something of you, since which your letter, written at sea, has been delivered to me. On Monday I trust I shall have the pleasure of welcoming you in person back to England. I hope you will find more pleasure in it than you seem to promise yourself. I pity you indeed for the bustle that awaits you in the arrangement of your affairs. I wish you would allow me to recommend to you a gentleman whom I have long known; a man of the strictest honour; a man of business; and one of the best
accountants in the kingdom. He would, I am confident, save you a world of trouble and a world of money. I know how much he has done for others, who, but for him, would have been destroyed by the harpies of extortion. I will tell you more of him when we meet, unless you should think I have already taken sufficient liberty, in which case I should only beg you to forget it for the sake of my intention. I rejoice to hear that you are prepared for the press. I hope to have you in prose as well as verse by and by. You will find your
Satire not forgotten by the public: it is going fast through its fourth edition, and I cannot call that a middling run. Some letters have passed between Hobhouse and me. His account of my son was truly gratifying to me. He is a fortunate lad. I wish you had touched at Cadiz, in your way home. George Byron and he I find are in correspondence.”


On the 15th of July I had the pleasure of shaking hands with him at Reddish’s Hotel, in St. James’s-street. I thought his looks belied the report he had given me of his bodily health, and his countenance did not betoken melancholy, or displeasure at his return. He was very animated in the account of his travels, but assured me he had never had the least idea of writing them. He said he believed satire to be his forte, and to that he had adhered, having written, during his stay at different places abroad, a paraphrase of Horace’s  Art of Poetry, which would be a good finish to English Bards and Scotch Reviewers; forgetting the regret which, in his last letter, he had expressed to me for having written it. He seemed to promise himself additional fame from it, and I undertook to superintend its publication, as I had done that of the Satire. I had chosen the hour ill for my visit, and we had hardly any time to con-
verse uninterruptedly; he therefore engaged me to breakfast with him the next morning. In the mean time I looked over the
Paraphrase, which I had taken home with me, and I must say I was grievously disappointed. Not that the verse was bad, or the images of the Roman poet badly adapted to the times; but a muse much inferior to his might have produced them in the smoky atmosphere of London, whereas he had been roaming under the cloudless skies of Greece, on sites where every step he took might have set such a fancy as his “in fine phrenzies rolling.” But the poem was his, and the affection he had acquired in my heart was undiminished.

The following lines are inserted as a fair specimen of it. It began thus:—

“Who would not laugh, if Lawrence, hir’d to grace
His costly canvass with each flatter’d face,
Abused his art, till Nature with a blush
Saw Cits grow Centaurs underneath his brush?
Or should some limner join, for show or sale,
A maid of honour to a mermaid’s tail;
Or low D * * * (as once the world has seen)
Degrade God’s creature’s in his graphic spleen—
Not all that forced politeness which defends
Fools in their faults, could gag his grinning friends.
Believe me, Moschus, like that picture seems
The book which, sillier than a sick man’s dreams,
Displays a crowd of figures incomplete,
Poetic night-mares without head or feet.
Poets and painters, as all artists know,
May shoot a little with a lengthen’d bow;
We claim this mutual mercy for our task,
And grant in turn the pardon which we ask;
But make not monsters spring from gentle dams—
Birds breed not vipers, tigers nurse not lambs.
A laboured long exordium sometimes tends
(Like patriot speeches) but to paltry ends;
And nonsense in a lofty note goes down,
As pertness passes with a legal gown:
Thus many a bard describes in pompous strain
The clear brook babbling through the goodly plain;
The groves of Granta, and her Gothic halls,
King’s Coll.—Cam’s stream—stain’d windows, and old walls;
Or in advent’rous numbers neatly aims
To paint a rainbow, or—the river Thames*.
You sketch a tree, and so perhaps may shine;
But daub a shipwreck like an alehouse sign:
Why place a Vase, which dwindling to a Pot,
You glide down Grub-street, fasting and forgot?
Laughed into Lethe by some quaint review,
Whose wit is never troublesome—till true.
In fine, to whatsoever you aspire,
Let it at least be simple and entire.
The greater portion of the rhyming tribe
(Give ear, my friend, for thou hast been a scribe)
Are led astray by some peculiar lure;
I labour to be brief—become obscure:
One feeds while following elegance too fast;
Another soars—inflated with bombast:
Too low a third crawls on—afraid to fly,
He spins his subject to satiety;
Absurdly varying, he at last engraves
Fish in the woods, and boars beneath the waves!
Unless your care’s exact, your judgment nice,
The flight from folly leads but into vice:
None are complete, all wanting in some part,
Like certain tailors, limited in art—

* “Where pure description holds the place of sense.”—Pope.

For coat and waistcoat Slowshears is your man;
But breeches claim another artisan*.—-
Now this to me, I own, seems much the same
As Vulcan’s feet to bear Apollo’s frame;
Or, with a fair complexion, to expose
Black eyes, black ringlets, and a bottle nose!
Dear authors! suit your topics to your strength,
And ponder well your subject and its length;
Nor lift your load until you’re quite aware
What weight your shoulders will or will not bear:
But lucid Order and Wit’s siren voice
Await the poet skilful in his choice;
With native eloquence he soars along,
Grace in his thoughts and music in his song.—
Let judgment teach him wisely to combine
With future parts the now omitted line:
This shall the author choose, or that reject
Precise in style, and cautious to select.
Nor slight applause will candid pens afford
The dext’rous coiner of a wanting word.

* Mere common mortals were commonly content with one tailor and one bill; but the more finished gentlemen found it impossible to confide their lower garments to the makers of their body-clothes. I speak of the beginning of 1809; what reform may have since taken place I neither know nor desire to know.

Then fear not, if ’tis needful, to produce
Some term unknown, or obsolete in use:
As Pitt* has furnished us a word or two,
Which Lexicographers declined to do;
So you, indeed, with care (but be content
To take this license rarely) may invent.
New words find credit in these latter days,
Adroitly grafted on a Gallic phrase;
What Chaucer, Spenser did, we scarce refuse
To Dryden’s or to Pope’s maturer muse.
If you can add a little, say, why not,
As well as William Pitt, and Walter Scott?
Since they by force of rhyme and force of lungs,
Enriched our island’s ill-united tongues;
’Tis then—and shall be—lawful to present
Reforms in writing as in Parliament.
As forests shed their foliage by degrees,
So fade expressions, which in season please;
And we and ours, alas, are due to fate,
And works and words but dwindle to a date.
Though as a monarch nods, and commerce calls,
Impetuous rivers stagnate in canals;

* Mr. Pitt was liberal in his additions to our Parliamentary Tongue, as may be seen in many publications, particularly the Edinburgh Review.

Though swamps subdued, and marshes dried, sustain
The heavy ploughshare, and the yellow grain;
And rising ports along the busy shore,
Protect the vessel from old Ocean’s roar;
All, all must perish—but, surviving last,
The love of letters half preserves the past:—
Thus future years dead volumes shall revive,
And those shall sink which now appear to thrive*,
As custom arbitrates, whose shifting sway
Our life and language must alike obey.
The immortal wars which Gods and angels wage,
Are they not shown in Milton’s sacred page?
His strain will teach what numbers best belong
To themes celestial told in Epic song.
The slow sad stanza will correctly paint
The lover’s anguish, or the friend’s complaint;
But which deserves the laurel—rhyme—or blank?
Which holds on Helicon the higher rank?
Let squabbling critics by themselves dispute
This point, as puzzling as a chancery suit.

* Old ballads, old plays, and old women’s stories, are at present in as much request as old wine or newspapers: in fact, this is the millennium of black-letter; thanks to our Webers and Scotts!

Satiric rhyme first sprang from selfish spleen;
You doubt—see Dryden, Pope, St. Patrick’s Dean.*
Blank verse is now with one consent allied
To tragedy, and rarely quits her side:
Though mad Almanzor rhymed in Dryden’s days,
No sing-song hero rants in modern plays;
While modest comedy her verse foregoes,
To jest and pun† in very middling prose:
Not that our Bens or Beaumonts show the worse,
Or lose one point because they wrote in verse:
But so Thalia ventures to appear—
Poor Virgin! damned some twenty times a-year.
* * * * * *
’Tis hard to venture where our betters fail,
Or lend fresh interest to a twice-told tale.
And yet, perchance, ’tis wiser to prefer
A hackneyed plot, than choose a new, and err.
Yet copy not too closely, but record
More justly thought for thought, than word for word.

* M’Flecknoe, much of the Dunciad, and all Swift’s lampooning ballads.

† With all the vulgar applause and critical abhorrence of puns, they have Aristotle on their side, who permits them to orators, and gives them consequence by a grave disquisition.

Nor trace your prototype through narrow ways,
But only follow where he merits praise.
For you, young bard, whom luckless fate may lead
To tremble on the nod of all who read,
Ere your first score of Cantos time unrolls,
Beware—for God’s sake don’t begin like Bowles*!

* About two years ago, a young man, named Townsend, was announced by Mr. Cumberland (in a Review since deceased) as being engaged in an epic poem, to be entitled “Armageddon.” The plan and specimen promise much; but I hope neither to offend Mr. T. or his friends, by recommending to his attention the lines of Horace to which these rhymes allude. If Mr. T. succeeds in his undertaking, as there is reason to hope, how much will the world be indebted to Mr. Cumberland for bringing him before the public. But till that eventful day arrives, it may be doubted whether the premature display of his plan (sublime as the ideas confessedly are) has not, by raising expectation too high, or diminishing curiosity by developing his argument, rather incurred the hazard of injuring Mr. T.’s future prospects. Mr. Cumberland (whose talents I shall not depreciate by the humble tribute of my praise) and Mr. T. must not suppose me actuated by unworthy motives in this suggestion. I wish the author all the success he can wish himself, and shall be truly happy to see epic poetry weighed up from the bathos where it lies sunken with Southey, Cottle, Cowley, (Mrs.

“Awake a louder and a loftier strain”—
And pray—what follows from his boiling brain?
He sinks to Southey’s level in a trice,
Whose Epic mountains never fail in mice.
Not so of yore awoke your mighty sire
The tempered warblings of his master lyre.
Soft as the gentler breathing of the lute,
“Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit”
He speaks, but as his subject swells along,
Earth, heaven, and Hades echo with the song.

or Abraham) Ogilvie, Wilkie, Page, and all the “dull of past and present days.” Even if he is not a Milton, he may be better than a Blackmare; if not a Homer, an Antimachus. I should deem myself presumptuous, as a young man, in offering advice, were it not addressed to one still younger. Mr. T. has the greatest difficulties to encounter; but in conquering them he will find employment—in having conquered them—his reward. I know too well the “scribbler’s scoff, the critic’s contumely,” and I am afraid time will teach Mr. T. to know them better. Those who succeed and those who do not must bear this alike, and it is hard to say which have most of it. I trust that Mr. Townsend’s share will be from envy; he will soon know mankind well enough not to attribute this expression to malice.

The above note was written before the author was apprised of Mr. Cumberland’s death.

Still to the midst of things he hastens on,
As if we witnessed all already done;
Leaves on his path whatever seems too mean
To raise the subject or adorn the scene;
Gives, as each page improves upon the sight,
Not smoke from brightness, but from darkness light,
And truth and fiction with such art compounds,
We know not where to fix their several bounds.
Review in Gentleman's Magazine

In not disparaging this poem, however, next day, I could not refrain from expressing some surprise that he had written nothing else: upon which he told me that he had occasionally written short poems, besides a great many stanzas in Spenser’s measure, relative to the countries he had visited. “They are not worth troubling you with, but you shall have them all with you if you like.” So came I by Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. He took it from a small trunk, with a number of verses. He said they had been read but by one person, who had found very little to commend, and much to condemn: that he himself was of
that opinion, and he was sure I should be so too. Such as it was, however, it was at my service; but he was urgent that “
The Hints from Horace” should be immediately put in train, which I promised to have done. How much he was mistaken as to my opinion, the following letter shows. He was going next morning to Harrow for a few days, but I was so delighted with his poem that I could not refrain from writing to him that very evening, the 16th of July.

“You have written one of the most delightful poems I ever read. If I wrote this in flattery, I should deserve your contempt rather than your friendship. Remember, I depend upon your considering me superior to it. I have been so fascinated with Childe Harold, that I have not been able to lay it down. I would almost pledge my life on its advancing the reputa-
tion of your poetical powers, and of its gaining you great honour and regard, if you will do me the credit and favour of attending to my suggestions respecting some alterations and omissions which I think indispensable. Not a line do I mean to offer. I already know your sentiment on that point—all shall be your own; but in having the magnanimity to sacrifice some favourite stanzas, you will perhaps have a little trouble, though indeed but a little, in connecting the parts. I shall instantly put the poem into my nephew’s hands to copy it precisely; and I hope, on Friday or Saturday morning, to take my breakfast with you, as I did this morning. It is long since I spent two hours so agreeably—not only your kind expressions as to myself, but the marked temperance of your mind, gave me extreme pleasure.”

Attentive as he had hitherto been to my
opinions and suggestions, and natural as it was that he should be swayed by such decided praise, I was surprised to find that I could not at first obtain credit with
Lord Byron for my judgment on Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. “It was any thing but poetry—it had been condemned by a good critic—had I not myself seen the sentences on the margins of the manuscript?” He dwelt upon the paraphrase of the Art of Poetry with pleasure; and the manuscript of that was given to Cawthorn, the publisher of the Satire, to be brought forth without delay. I did not, however, leave him so: before I quitted him I returned to the charge, and told him that I was so convinced of the merit of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, that as he had given it to me, I should certainly publish it, if he would have the kindness to attend to some corrections and alterations.

He at length seemed impressed by my
perseverance, and took the poem into consideration. He was at first unwilling to alter or omit any of the stanzas, but they could not be published as they stood. Besides several weak and ludicrous passages, unworthy of the poem, there were some of an offensive nature, which, on reflection, his own feelings convinced him could not with propriety be allowed to go into the world. These he undertook to curtail and soften; but he persisted in preserving his philosophical, free-thinking stanzas, relative to death. I had much friendly, but unsuccessful contest with him on that point, and I was obliged to be satisfied with the hypothetical but most beautiful stanza—
Yet if, as holiest men have deem’d, there be
A land of souls beyond that sable shore, &c.
which, in the course of our contention, he sent me, to be inserted after the sceptical
stanzas in the beginning of the Second Canto. He also sacrificed to me some harsh political reflections on the Government, and a ludicrous stanza or two which I thought injured the poem. I did all I could to raise his opinion of this composition, and I succeeded; but he varied much in his feelings about it, nor was he, as will appear, at his ease, until the world decided on its merit. He said again and again, that I was going to get him into a scrape with his old enemies, and that none of them would rejoice more than the
Edinburgh Reviewers at an opportunity to humble him. He said I must not put his name to it. I entreated him to leave it to me, and that I would answer for this poem silencing all his enemies.

The publication of it being determined upon, my first thought respecting a publisher was to give it to Cawthorn, as it appeared to me right that he should have
it who had done so well with the Poet’s former work; but Cawthorn did not then rank high among the brethren of the trade. I found that this had been instilled into
Lord Byron’s ear since his return to England, probably at Harrow. I was sorry for it; for instead of looking for fashionable booksellers, he should, as Pope did, have made his bookseller the most fashionable one, and this he could easily have done. He thought more modestly of himself, and said he wished I would offer it to Miller, of Albermarle-street. “Cawthorn had The Hints from Horace—he always meant them for him, and the Poems had better be published by different booksellers.” I could not accord in the opinion, but I yielded of course to his wish. It was but a step; I carried it up to Miller, and left it with him, enjoining him the strictest secresy as to the author. In a few days, by appointment, I called again to know his decision.
He declined publishing it. He noticed all my objections; his critic had pointed them out; but his chief objection he stated to be the manner in which
Lord Elgin was treated in the poem. He was his bookseller and publisher. When I reported this to Lord Byron, his scruples and apprehensions of injuring his fame returned; but I overcame them, and he gave me leave to publish with whom I pleased, requesting me only to keep in mind what he had said as to Cawthorn, and also the refusal of Longman’s house to publish his Satire. Next to these I wished to oblige Mr. Murray, who had then a shop opposite St. Dunstan’s church, in Fleet-street. Both he and his father before him had published for myself. He had expressed to me his regret that I did not carry him the English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. But this was after its success—I think he would have refused it in its embryo state. After
Lord Byron’s arrival, I had met him, and he said he wished I would obtain some work of his Lordship’s for him. I now had it in my power, and I put
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage into his hands, telling him that Lord Byron had made me a present of it; and that I expected that he would make a very liberal agreement with me for it. He took some days to consider, during which time he consulted his literary advisers, among whom, no doubt, was Mr. Gifford, who was the Editor of the Quarterly Review. That Mr. Gifford gave a favourable opinion I afterwards learned from Mr. Murray himself; but the objections I have stated stared him in the face, and he was kept in suspense between the desire of possessing a work of Lord Byron’s, and the fear of an unsuccessful speculation. We came to this conclusion; that he should print, at his expense, a handsome quarto edition, the profits of which I should share
equally with him, and that the agreement for the copyright should depend upon the success of this edition. When I told this to Lord Byron he was highly pleased, but still doubted the copyright being worth my acceptance; promising, however, if the poem went through the edition to give me other poems to annex to Childe Harold. These preliminaries being settled, I persisted in my attacks on the objectionable parts of this delightful work, now formally become mine. He wrote an introductory stanza, for the second originally stood first, polished some lines, and became in general far more condescending and compliant than I ever flattered myself I should find him; which I attributed to his clearly perceiving how sincerely I loved him. Finding that I could gain nothing in respect to the sceptical stanzas, the conciliatory one I have already mentioned not having been written at that time, I drew up a regular protest
against them, and enclosed it to him in a short letter just before he left town, which departure, though always intended to be soon, was at last, very sudden, in consequence of an express from Newstead Abbey, by which he was informed that his
mother’s life was despaired of, and urged to lose no time in coming to the Abbey. He instantly set off post with four horses, but, alas! she did not live to embrace him.

Review in Gentleman's Magazine
L. Hunt, Ld Byron & his Contemporaries

“Within is my formal protest against the sceptical stanzas of your poem. You have seen no symptoms of a Puritan in me; I have seen none of a Scoffer in you.—You, I know, can endure my sincerity; I should be sorry if I could not appreciate yours. You have the uncommon virtue of not being anxious to make others think as you do on religious topics; I, less disinterested, have the greatest desire, not without great hope, that you may one day think as I do.”



The Protest of R. C. Dallas against certain Sceptical Stanzas in the Poem entitled Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.


Because—Although among feeble and corrupt men religions may take their turn; although Jupiter and Mahomet, and error after error, may enter the brain of misguided mortals, it does not follow that there is not a true religion, or that the incense of the heart ascends in vain, or that the faith of a Christian is built on reeds.

Because—Although bound for a term to the earth, it is natural to hope, and rational to expect, existence in another world; since, if it be not so, the noblest attributes of God, justice and goodness, must be subtracted from our ideas of the great Creator; and although our senses make us acquainted
with the chemical decomposition of our bodies, it does not follow that he who has power to create has not power to raise; or that he who had the will to give life and hope of immortality, has not the will to fulfil his virtual, not to say actual, promise.

Because—Although a skull well affords a subject for moralizing; although in its worm-eaten, worm-disdained state, it is so far from being a temple worthy of a God, that it is unworthy of the creature whom it once served as the recess of wisdom and of wit; and although no saint, sage, or sophist can refit it,—it does not follow that God’s power is limited, or that what is sown in corruption may not be raised in incorruption, that what is sown a natural body may not be raised a spiritual body.

Because—The same authority, Socrates, cited to prove how unequal the human intellect is to fathom the designs of Omniscience and Omnipotence, is one of the
strongest in favour of the immortality of the soul.

Because—Although there is good sense and a kind intention expressed in these words:—“I am no sneerer at thy phantasy,” “Thou pitiest me, alas! I envy thee,”—and “I ask thee not to prove a Saducee;” yet the intention is counteracted by the sentiments avowed, and the example published, by which the young and the wavering may be detained in the wretchedness of doubt, or confirmed in the despair of unbelief.

Because—I think of the author of the poem as Pope did of Garth, of whom he said, “Garth is a Christian, and does not know it.” Consequently, I think that he will, one day, be sorry for publishing such opinions.