LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
John Murray to Lord Byron, 25 September 1813

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chap. XX.
Chap. XXI.
Chap. XXII.
Chap. XXIII.
Chap. XXIV.
Chap. XXV.
Chap. XXVI.
Chap. XXVII.
Chap. XXIX.
Chap. XXX.
Chap. XXXI.
Chap. XXXII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
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Produced by CATH
September 25th, 1813.
My Dear Lord,

Some time ago I mentioned that I had sent the fifth Edition of ‘The Giaour’ to Mr. Gifford. I did not expect him to touch it except for the purpose of sending it to our reviewer, who has totally disappointed us. I called to-day upon Mr. G., and as soon as a gentleman who was present had gone, and he was ready to begin your business, he fell back in his largest armchair, and exclaimed, “Upon my honour, Murray, Lord Byron is a most extraordinary man. The new edition of his poem contains passages of exquisite—extraordinary beauty (I recollect now that he said they astonished him)—equal to anything that I have ever read.

* With respect to the passage in which the lines occur—
“Though in Time’s record it was nought,
It was eternity in thought,”
Lord Byron told Mr. Murray that he took this idea from one of the Arabian tales—that in which the Sultan puts his head into a butt of water, and, though it remains there for only two or three minutes, he imagines that he lives many years during that time. The story had been quoted by Addison in the Spectator.

What is he about? Will he not collect all his force for one immortal work? His subject is an excellent one. We never had descriptions of Eastern manners before. All that has been hitherto attempted was done without actual knowledge.” I told him that
Moore was writing an Eastern story. “Moore,” said he, “will do only what has been already done, and he is incapable of writing anything like Lord Byron.” Mr. Gifford spoke too of the vigour of all your additions. Speaking of Scott, he said you did not interfere with each other, but that he had completely settled in his mind your certain superiority or genius of a higher order. I told him how rejoiced I was to hear him speak thus of you, and added that I knew you cherished his letter to you. He again deplored your wanderings from some great object, and regretted that you would not follow his recommendation of producing something worthy of you; for, highly as he thinks of your talents in both poems, and I believe most particularly in the last, still he thinks you have by no means stretched your pinions to the full, and taken the higher flight to which they are equal. I would apologise to you for detailing what superficially appears mere praise; but I am sure you will go deeper into the subject, and see in it my anxiety after your fame alone.

In our next number there will be an able review of the Fifth Edition, though the Edinburgh Review had anticipated our extracts. At Madame de Staël’s yesterday, you were the subject of much conversation, with Sir James Mackintosh and Conversation Sharp. Sir James asked and was astonished at the number of copies sold of ‘The Giaour,’ and a lady (not very young though) took away a copy of ‘The Giaour’ by the talismanic effect of the enclosed card. Do me the kindness to tell me when you propose to return. I am at Home for the remainder of the season, and until the termination of all seasons, and am,

Your faithful Servant,
John Murray.