LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
John Murray to Lord Byron, 22 January 1817

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
January 22nd, 1817.

I am continually harassed by shoals of MSS. poems—two, three, or four a day. I require a porter to carry, an author to read, and a secretary to answer them. Maturin has written two acts of a new tragedy, which I think they are spoiling by sending him criticisms. Sheil, another Irishman, the author of ‘Adelaide,’ exceedingly applauded in Dublin, but hastily damned in London, tells me that another work is in hand, which is to be produced at Covent Garden in a month, called the ‘Apostate.’ I am just about to publish a strange political rhapsody by Lord Erskine, entitled ‘Armata,’ describing our constitution under a foreign name. “Damn them,” says the author, “I’ll show the world that I am not in my dotage yet.” “What the devil’s this?” said Frere, on taking up some sheets of the said work. “Oh,” said Gifford, “something that Murray is publishing.” “Not upon his own account,” replied Frere. By the way, Frere, who always remembers you with honour (and I told you before what he wrote about the third canto), likes the ‘Armenian Grammar’* very much, though he would prefer the English part of it. He wishes me to send you Mitford on the ‘Harmony of Language,’ which I will do. He says that the type is not so large as it ought to be for a language which is not to be whipped into one, but coaxed in by the most enticing appearances. I will most willingly take fifty copies even upon my love of letters; so they may be sent as soon as completed. We are all much interested with

* Byron, to please his neighbours at Venice, the Armenian monks of San Lazaro, edited a grammar printed by them at their own press.

“the very curious books and MSS. chiefly translated from Greek originals now lost,” and I am desired to entreat that you will gain every particular respecting their history and contents, together with the best account of the Armenian language, which may form a very interesting introduction to the copies which you send here, and which preface I will print myself; unless as a curiosity you print it there also; or if you would review the ‘Grammar’ for me and insert all this knowledge in the article, which would certainly be the very best way of making the ‘Grammar’ known to the public. I wish, besides obliging me with such a curious and interesting critique, that you would, unknown even to your bosom friend
Hobhouse (to whom I beg to repeat my kindest remembrances), attempt some work in prose, which I will engage to keep sacredly secret and publish anonymously. I beg you to be assured that I am perfectly ready to undergo the copyright of as many cantos of ‘Childe Harold,’ or any other poem, as fast as they are completed to your own entire satisfaction; but remember we have got to heap Pelion on Ossa; the higher the pile already, the far greater our future labour. I forgot to mention above that I have as yet ascertained only that there are no Armenian types at Cambridge. In my next I will know with regard to this matter at Oxford. If you can pick up at Venice a quarto entitled ‘L’Istoria di Verona del Sig. Girolamo,’ Verona, 1594, you will find at page 589 the story of the Montagues and Capulets given historically, and related with great beauty and interest. Pray keep an exact Journal of all you see, and write me faithful accounts of sights, curiosities, shows, and manners, etc. I will use nothing without your positive permission. We had a quizzing article on Wedderburn Webster,* who has replied through the Morning Chronicle in a letter to Mr. Gifford, which he concluded by leaving him with “feelings of contempt and oblivion.” I am sorry that Mr. Hobhouse is answering also; one man has no chance against an army; and he should have laughed—he who quizzes others must calculate upon being quizzed himself; and I really esteem Mr. Hobhouse and wish he had not done this. I would pay

* Wedderburn Webster’sWaterloo,’ reviewed by Mr. Croker in Q. R., No. 30.

any one to write against me. In a few days I shall send you our
article on the third canto. You will not have occasion to answer that. An Edinburgh has not come out since the publication of your poems. Their article on Coleridge was base, after what had passed between you and the editor. Mr. Gordon has carefully deposited your spoils of Waterloo, which ornament my room, as the best and indeed only means I have of preserving them for you. The MSS. and bones* have not appeared, and I will write about them. Sir John Malcolm is almost at Madras by this time; he left his sincere good wishes for you. I let him read the MSS and he was in ecstasies. All your old friends chez moi remember you, and you are often the subject of their conversation, as their eye catches yours in the portrait. which I am now facing, and which is, I assure you, no small happiness to me to possess, as it eternally renews the association of your constancy to me.

I had a letter from Mr. Ward, to whom, at Paris, I sent the poems, and he is delighted; and Mr. Canning, most particularly so with the third canto. I now this time print 10,000 of my Review, and you are in it. I have the translation of a Chinese comedy in the press, and some ‘Tales,’ by Antar, a hundred years previous to the conversion of the Arabians to Mahomedanism; the ‘Journal’ of Captain Tuckey, who commanded the unfortunate expedition to Africa by the Congo. He and his officers died of fatigue and over-exertion; but in all other respects nothing could have been better planned or executed, and the ‘Journal’ is very interesting. This I will contrive to send you, and though not quite à-propos, I may here say that I have procured the tooth powder. I think you should write me a note of thanks for Lord Holland. Your friend, Sir James [Bland] Burges, with whom I dined yesterday at Mr. Croker’s, often calls and talks to me about you. Walter Scott always mentions you with kindness in his letters, and he thinks nothing better than Canto III. Give me a poem—a good Venetian tale describing manners formerly from the story itself, and now from your own observations, and call it ‘Marianna.’

John Murray.