LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of John Murray
Chapter X.

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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The origin of Mr. Murray’s connection with Lord Byron was as follows. Lord Byron had made Mr. Dallas a present of the MS. of the first two cantos of ‘Childe Harold,’ and allowed him to make arrangements for their publication. Mr. Dallas’s first intention was to offer them to the publisher of ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ but Cawthorn did not rank sufficiently high among his brethren of the trade. He was precluded from offering them to Longman and Co. because of their refusal to publish the Satire. He then went to Mr. Miller, of Albemarle Street, and left the manuscript with him, “enjoining the strictest secrecy as to the author.” After a few days’ consideration Miller declined to publish the poem, principally because of the sceptical stanzas which it contained, and also because of its denunciation as a “plunderer” of his friend and patron the Earl of Elgin, who was mentioned by name in the original manuscript of the poem.

After hearing from Dallas that Miller had declined to publish ‘Childe Harold,’ Lord Byron wrote to him from Reddish’s Hotel:

Lord Byron to Mr. Miller.
July 30th, 1811.

I am perfectly aware of the justice of your remarks, and am convinced that if ever the poem is published the same
objections will be made in much stronger terms. But, as it was intended to be a poem on
Ariosto’s plan, that is to say on no plan at all, and, as is usual in similar cases, having a predilection for the worst passages, I shall retain those parts, though I cannot venture to defend them. Under these circumstances I regret that you decline the publication, on my own account, as I think the book would have done better in your hands; the pecuniary part, you know, I have nothing to do with . . . But I can perfectly conceive, and indeed approve your reasons, and assure you my sensations are not Archiepiscopal enough as yet to regret the rejection of my Homilies.

I am, Sir, your very obedient, humble servant,

“Next to these publishers,” proceeds Dallas, “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 he would make a very liberal arrangement 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 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.’”

That Mr. Murray was quick in recognizing the just value of poetical works and the merits of Lord Byron’s poem is evident from the fact that at the very time that Miller declined to publish ‘Childe Harold,’ he accepted a poem by Rosa Matilda (Temple) which Murray had refused to publish, and that it was sold the year after as waste paper, whilst Murray jumped at the offer of publishing Lord Byron’s poem, and did not hesitate to purchase the copyright for a large price. Mr. Murray had long desired to make Lord Byron’s acquaintance, and now that Mr. Dallas had arranged with him for the publication of the first two cantos of ‘Childe Harold,’ he had many opportunities of seeing Byron at his place of business. The first time that he saw him was when he called one day with Mr. Hobhouse in Fleet Street. He afterwards looked in from time to time, while the sheets were passing through the press, fresh from the fencing rooms of Angelo and Jackson, and used to amuse himself by renewing his practice of “Carte et Tierce,” with his walking-cane directed against the book-shelves, while Murray was reading passages from the poem, with occasional ejaculations of admiration; on which Byron would say, “You think that a good idea, do you, Murray?” Then he would fence and lunge with his walking stick at some special book which he had picked out on the shelves before him. As Murray afterwards said, “I was often very glad to get rid of him!”

A correspondence took place with regard to certain omissions, alterations, and improvements which were strongly urged both by Mr. Dallas and the publisher. Mr. Murray wrote as follows:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
September 4th, 1811.
My Lord,

An absence of some days, passed in the country, has prevented me from writing earlier, in answer to your obliging letters.* I have now, however, the pleasure of sending you, under a separate cover, the first proof sheets of your poem; which is so good as to be entitled to all your care in rendering it perfect. Besides its general merits, there are parts which, I am tempted to believe, far excel anything that you have hitherto published; and it were therefore grievous indeed if you do not condescend to bestow upon it all the improvements of which your mind is so capable. Every correction already made is valuable, and this circumstance renders me more confident in soliciting your further attention. There are some expressions concerning Spain and Portugal which, however just at the time they were conceived, yet, as they do not harmonise with the now prevalent feeling, I am persuaded would so greatly interfere with the popularity which the poem is, in other respects, certainly calculated to excite, that, in compassion to your publisher, who does not presume to reason upon the subject, otherwise than as a mere matter of business, I hope your goodness will induce you to remove them; and with them perhaps some religious sentiments which may deprive me of some customers amongst the Orthodox. Could I flatter myself that these suggestions were not obtrusive, I would hazard another,—that you would add the two promised cantos, and complete the poem. It were cruel indeed not to perfect a work which contains so much that is excellent Your fame, my Lord, demands it. You are raising a monument that will outlive your present feelings; and it should therefore be constructed in such a manner as to excite no other association than that of respect and admiration for your character and genius. I trust that you will pardon the warmth of this address, when I assure you that it arises, in the greatest degree, from a sincere regard for your best reputation; with, however, some view to that

* These letters are given in Moore’sLife and Letters of Lord Byron.’

portion of it which must attend the publisher of so beautiful a poem as you are capable of rendering in the ‘
Romaunt of Childe Harold.’”

In compliance with the suggestions of the publisher, Byron altered and improved the stanzas relating to Elgin and Wellington. With respect to the religious, or anti-religious sentiments, Byron wrote to Murray: “As for the ‘orthodox,’ let us hope they will buy on purpose to abuse—you will forgive the one if they will do the other.” Yet he did alter Stanza VIII., and inserted what Moore calls a “magnificent stanza,” in place of one that was churlish and sneering, and in all respects very much inferior.

Byron then proceeded to another point. “Tell me fairly, did you show the MS. to some of your corps?” “I will have no traps for applause,” he wrote to Mr. Murray, at the same time forbidding him to show the manuscript of ‘Childe Harold’ to his Aristarchus, Mr. Gifford, though he had no objection to letting it be seen by any one else. But it was too late. Mr. Gifford had already seen the manuscript, and pronounced a favourable opinion as to its great poetic merits. Byron was not satisfied with this assurance, and seemed, in his next letter, to be very angry. He could not bear to have it thought that he was endeavouring to ensure a favourable review of his work in the Quarterly. To Mr. Dallas he wrote (Sept. 23rd, 1811):—

“I will be angry with Murray. It was a book-selling, back-shop, Paternoster Row, paltry proceeding; and if the experiment had turned out as it deserved, I would have raised all Fleet Street, and borrowed the giant’s staff from St Dunstan’s Church, to immolate the betrayer of trust. I have written to him as he was never written to before by an author, I’ll be sworn; and I hope you will amplify my wrath, till it has an effect upon him.”


Byron at first objected to allow the new poem to be published with his name, thinking that this would bring down upon him the enmity of his critics in the North, as well as the venom of the southern scribblers, whom he had enraged by his Satire. At last, on Mr. Murray’s strong representation, he consented to allow his name to be published on the title-page as the author. Even to the last, however, his doubts were great as to the probable success of the poem; and he more than once talked of suppressing it.

In Oct. 1811, Lord Byron wrote from Newstead Abbey to his friend Mr. Hodgson:—*

“‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ must wait till Murray’s is finished. He is making a tour in Middlesex, and is to return soon, when high matter may be expected. He wants to have it in quarto, which is a cursed unsaleable size; but it is pestilent long, and one must obey one’s publisher.”

The whole of the sheets were printed off in the following month of January; and the work was published on the 1st of March, 1812. Of the first edition only 500 copies, demy quarto, were printed.

It is unnecessary to say with what applause the book was received. The impression it produced was as instantaneous as it proved to be lasting. Byron himself briefly described the result of the publication in his memoranda: “I awoke one morning and found myself famous.” The publisher had already taken pains to spread abroad the merits of the poem. Many of his friends had re-echoed its praises. The attention of the public was fixed upon the

* The Rev. Francis Hodgson was then residing at Cambridge as Fellow and Tutor of King’s College. He formed an intimate friendship with Byron, who communicated with him freely as to his poetical as well as his religious difficulties. Hodgson afterwards became Provost of Eton.

work; and in three days after its appearance the whole edition was disposed of. When
Mr. Dallas went to see Lord Byron at his house in St. James’s Street, he found him loaded with letters from critics, poets, and authors, all lavish of their raptures. A handsome new edition, in octavo, was proposed, to which his Lordship agreed.

Mr. Dallas in his ‘Memoir,’ proceeds:—

“After speaking to Lord Byron of the sale, and settling the new edition, I said ‘How can I possibly think of this rapid sale, and the profits likely to ensue, without recollecting’—‘What?’ interposed Byron. ‘Think,’ continued Dallas, ‘what a sum your work may produce.’ ‘I shall be rejoiced,’ said Byron, ‘and wish it doubled and trebled; but do not talk to me of money. I never will receive money for my writings.’ ‘I ought not to differ in an opinion which puts hundreds into my purse, but others’—He put out his hand to me, shook mine, and turned the conversation.”

Eventually Mr. Murray consented to give Mr. Dallas £600 for the copyright of the poem; although Mr. Gifford and others were of opinion that it might prove a bad bargain at that price. There was, however, one exception, namely Mr. Rogers, who told Mr. Murray not to be disheartened, for he might rely upon its turning out the most fortunate purchase he had ever made; and so it proved. Three thousand copies of the second and third editions of the poem in octavo were printed; and these went off in rapid succession.

While ‘Childe Harold’ was passing through the press, Mr. Murray again wrote:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
June 12th, 1812.
My Lord,

I am truly anxious to know of your personal safety during this weather of turbulence and disaster. Only
three mails had arrived at 3 o’clock to-day. I called upon
Mr. Gifford to-day, and he expresses himself quite delighted with the annexed Poems, more particularly with the ‘Song from the Portuguese,’ and the ‘Stanzas to a Lady Weeping.’ The latter, however, he thinks you ought to slip quietly amongst the Poems in ‘Childe Harold’; for the present work is to be read by women, and this would disturb the poetical feeling. Besides, as it has been already published in a newspaper, it does not accord with your character to appear to think too much of it. If you allow me, I would transfer it to ‘Childe Harold,’ and insert the ‘Impromptu’ in its place.

Mr. Dallas has sent his proofs with about 200 alterations of the pointings merely. Now, as Gifford made nearly as many, I could not venture so direct an affront upon him as to overturn all that his care has taken. Mr. Moore returned his proof to me without a correction. I hope to go to press immediately upon receipt of your Lordship’s letter. Mr. Gifford is really delighted.

I remain, in haste, most faithfully,
Your Lordship’s Servant,
John Murray.

On the appearance of ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,’ Lord Byron became an object of interest in the fashionable world of London. His poem was the subject of conversation everywhere, and many literary, noble, and royal personages desired to make his acquaintance. In the month of June he was invited to a party at Miss Johnson’s, at which His Royal Highness the Prince Regent was present. As Lord Byron had not yet been to Court, it was not considered etiquette that he should appear before His Royal Highness. He accordingly retired to another room. But on the Prince being informed that Lord Byron was in the house, he expressed a desire to see him.

Lord Byron was sent for; he was introduced to the Prince, and was so much pleased with his fascinating
manner and entertaining conversation, that he declared it almost made him a courtier. The Prince’s eulogistic references to
Scott in the course of the interview reached the ears of Mr. Murray, who seized this opportunity to endeavour to heal the breach which had been caused between Scott and Byron by the unguarded satire in ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ and wrote thus:—

John Murray to Mr. Scott.
June 27th, 1812.
Dear Sir,

I cannot refrain, notwithstanding my fears of intrusion, from mentioning to you a conversation which Lord Byron had with H.R.H. the Prince Regent, and of which you formed the leading subject. He was at an evening party at Miss Johnson’s this week, when the Prince, hearing that Lord Byron was present, expressed a desire to be introduced to him; and for more than half an hour they conversed on poetry and poets, with which the Prince displayed an intimacy and critical taste which at once surprised and delighted Lord Byron. But the Prince’s great delight was Walter Scott, whose name and writings he dwelt upon and recurred to incessantly. He preferred him far beyond any other poet of the time, repeated several passages with fervour, and criticized them faithfully. He spoke chiefly of the ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ which he expressed himself as admiring most of the three poems. He quoted Homer, and even some of the obscurer Greek poets, and appeared, as Lord Byron supposes, to have read more poetry than any prince in Europe. He paid, of course, many compliments to Lord Byron, but the greatest was “that he ought to be offended with Lord B., for that he had thought it impossible for any poet to equal Walter Scott, and that he had made him find himself mistaken.” Lord Byron called upon me, merely to let off the raptures of the Prince respecting you, thinking, as he said, that if I were likely to have occasion to write to you, it might not be ungrateful for you to hear of his praises. It is remarkable that the Prince never mentioned Campbell. I inquired
particularly about this, as I was anxious to ascertain the Prince’s opinion of both, as Lord Byron is rather partial to Campbell. The Prince is really worthy of a dedication, which, for many reasons, he would receive not only graciously, but gratefully. I sent you, some time ago, the ‘
Calamities of Authors,’ a work by D’Israeli. It is much liked here. If the book suit your taste, and if the office accord with your leisure, I hope you may be tempted to favour me with a Review of it.* I trust that your kindness may excuse the tittle-tattle which has occasioned this note; but I could not persuade myself that it would be uninteresting to you to know that you are equally esteemed by the Prince as I know you to be by the Princess.

Yours very faithfully,
John Murray.

In reply Scott wrote to Mr. Murray as follows, enclosing a letter to Lord Byron, which has already been published in the lives of both authors:—

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Edinburgh, July 2nd, 1812.
My dear Sir,

I have been very silent, partly through pressure of business and partly from idleness and procrastination, but it would be very ungracious to delay returning my thanks for your kindness in transmitting the very flattering particulars of the Prince Regent’s conversation with Lord Byron. I trouble you with a few lines to his Lordship expressive of my thanks for his very handsome and gratifying communication, and I hope he will not consider it as intrusive in a veteran author to pay my debt of gratitude for the high pleasure I have received from the perusal of ‘Childe Harold,’ which is certainly the most original poem which we have had this many a day . . . . .

Your obliged, humble Servant,
Walter Scott.

* Scott’s acknowledgment of this will be found in the preceding chapter.


This episode led to the opening of an agreeable correspondence between Scott and Byron, which resulted in a lasting friendship between the two poets. On September 5, 1812, Lord Byron wrote to Mr. Murray requesting him to send several despatches and a number of the Edinburgh Review. “Send me ‘Rokeby,’” he said. “Who the deuce is he? . . . Also send me ‘Adair on Diet and Regimen,’ just re-published by Ridgway.” Mr. Murray’s answer was as follows:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
September 7th, 1812.
My Lord,

By the mail I have sent two letters, two parcels, and two Reviews. Mr. Ridgway assures me that it is impossible to complete a copy of the new edition of ‘Adair on Diet’ before to-morrow or the day following.

The tardy engraver promises the portrait in ten days, and I shall do myself the pleasure of sending a copy, for your Lordship’s remarks, before it is prefixed to the poem, the demand for which proceeds with undiminished vigour. I have now sold, within a few copies, 4500 in less than six months, a sale so unprecedented, except in one instance, that you should cease to reproach the public and the publisher for “tardy editions.” You will readily believe that I am delighted to find you thinking of a new poem, for which I should be proud to give a thousand guineas, and I should ever gratefully remember the fame it would cast over my new establishment, upon which I enter at the close of the present month.

Since I had the pleasure of seeing you I have had occasion to visit Lucien Bonaparte, to make arrangements for his poem, which, with the translation, will form two volumes in quarto, and which I am to publish immediately if his brother will permit its circulation on the Continent. Lucien is commanding and interesting in his person and address.

Walter Scott has, I am informed by his intimate friend Mr. Heber, retained very closely the subject of his new poem, which is, perhaps, not impolitic. The name of
‘Rokeby’ is that of his friend
Mr. Morritt’s estate in Yorkshire, to whom it is no doubt intended as a compliment. The poem, as the publisher informs me, will not be published before Christmas.

Indeed, my Lord, I hope that you will cut the tugging strings of care, and allow your mind to soar into its congenial element of poesy.
“From a delirious earth avert thine eyes
And dry thy fruitless tears, and seek fictitious skies.”
You will easily conceive my contempt for anything in the
Anti-Jacobin Review, when I venture to send you their vituperative criticism without previous notice. I am ashamed to see how long I may have trespassed upon your patience.

I am ever, &c.,
John Murray.

Lord Byron did not like the engraved portrait of himself, to which he had a “very strong objection,” and he requested that the plate might be destroyed, which was done accordingly.

In October 1812 Lord Byron wrote to Mr. Murray from Cheltenham:—“I have a poem on ‘Waltzing’ for you, of which I make you a present; but it must be anonymous. It is in the old style of ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.’” On Oct. 22nd Murray replied:—“I am distracted at this time between two houses, and am forced to write in haste. I had a sale, to the Booksellers, on Tuesday, when I disposed of no less than 878 copies of the fifth edition of ‘Childe Harold,’ from which you will judge of the belief of the booksellers in its continuing success. I am anxious to be favoured with the ‘Waltzing’.” A few days later, Lord Byron added—“You go on boldly; but have a care of glutting the public, who have by this time had enough of ‘Childe Harold.’ ‘Waltzing’ shall be
prepared. It is rather above two hundred lines, with an introductory letter to the publisher.”

The Waltz: an Apostrophic Poem,’ was published anonymously, and against the inclination of Murray, who had a poor opinion of it, in February 1813, but as the poem was not well received by the public, the author was anxious to disavow it. “I hear,” he wrote to Mr. Murray, “that a certain malicious publication on Waltzing is attributed to me. This report, I suppose, you will take care to contradict, as the author, I am sure, will not like-that I should wear his cap and bells.”

Being a member of the Drury Lane Managing Committee, Lord Byron had been requested, with many others, to write a Prologue, to be recited at the opening of the theatre. Nearly a hundred prologues had been offered, but Lord Byron’s was accepted, a preference which induced “all Grub Street” to attack him. It was in reference to this circumstance that Mr. Murray addressed him:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
October, 1812.

I was present during the first recitation of the address, and can assure you that it was received, throughout, with applauding satisfaction. I have inclosed the copy of the address which I had in my hand, and on which I marked, with my pencil—at the time, those parts at which the warmest approbation was loudly expressed. There was not the slightest demonstration or appearance of dissatisfaction at any one point. There were many important variations in Mr. Elliston’s delivery, which was, throughout, exceedingly bad; indeed his acting exhibits nothing but conceit. I was surprised to find your name given up at once to the public, I confess, and the appendage to the address, stating the reward offered for the best copy of verses, appeared to reflect discredit and ridicule in whatever way it was viewed.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
November 4th, 1812.

I had the pleasure of receiving your obliging letter, dated the 23rd October, but was unwilling to intrude an answer upon you until something important should cast up; and the occasion is now furnished by the tremendous ‘Critique upon Lord Byron’s Address,’ which I enclose under this and another cover. You declined writing the address originally, because “you would not contend with all Grub Street;” but you did not suspect, at that time, that success would induce all Grub Street to contend against you; but this is the present state of the case. You will have seen by the Chronicle of yesterday that it is in contemplation to collect and publish, in one volume, the whole of the Rejected Addresses, which would be an excellent subject of fun for an article in the Review, and Mr. Gifford would, I think, join forces with you.

I shall be careful to give you full notice of the new edition of ‘Childe Harold,’ which has been very much assisted in sale by the admiration forced from the ragamuffins who are abusing the Address. I would be delighted if you had a new poem ready for publication about the same time that Walter Scott is expected; but I will sacrifice my right arm (your Lordship’s friendship) rather than publish any poem not equal to ‘Childe Harold’ without a conscriptive command, like that which I lately executed in committing your portrait to the flames; but I had some consolation in seeing it ascend in sparkling brilliancy to Parnassus. Neither Mr. Gifford nor I, I can venture to assure you, upon honour, have any notion who the author of the admirable article on ‘Horne Tooke’ is.

I ever remain,
Your Lordship’s faithful Servant,
John Murray.

P.S.—I do not mention ‘Waltzing,’ from the hope that it improves geometrically as to the time that it is retained.


The fit of inspiration was now on Lord Byron. In May 1813 appeared ‘The Giaour,’* and in the midst of his corrections of successive editions of it, he wrote in four nights his second Turkish Story ‘Zuleika,’ afterwards known as ‘The Bride of Abydos.’

“The ‘Bride,’” says Byron,“was written in four nights to distract my dreams from . . . Were it not thus, it had never been composed; and had I not done something at that time, I must have gone mad by eating my own heart—bitter diet!” “No one has seen it,” he writes in his Diary, “but Hodgson and Mr. Gifford.” “Hodgson likes it better than ‘The Giaour,’ but nobody else will,—and he never liked the ‘Fragment.’ I am sure, had it not been for Murray, that never would have been published, though the circumstances, which are the groundwork, make it . . . . heigh-ho!”

John Murray to Lord Byron.
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.

The ‘Bride of Abydos’ appeared at the beginning of December 1813. While it was in the press Mr. Murray sent a copy to Mr. Frere, whose opinion he thus conveyed to the author.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
November, 1813.
My Dear Lord,

I am so very anxious to procure the best criticism upon the ‘Bride,’ that I ventured last night to introduce her to the protection of Mr. Frere. He has just returned, quite delighted; he read several passages to Mr. Heber as exquisitely beautiful. He says there is a simplicity running through the whole that reminds him of the ancient ballad. He thinks it equal to anything you have produced. I asked if it was equal to the ‘Giaour;’ he said that the ‘Giaour’ contained perhaps a greater number of splendid passages, but that the mind carries something to rest upon after rising from the ‘Bride of Abydos.’ It is more perfect. He made one or two remarks. He says that such words as Gul and Bulbul, though not unpoetical in themselves, are in bad taste, and ought not to receive the sanction of your Lordship’s example. In the passage, stanza ix. pp. 12-13, which Mr. Frere thought particularly fine, he thinks that the dimness of sight occasioned by abstraction of mind is rendered less complete by defining the fatal stroke as right sharply dealt.

With respect to the business arrangement as to the two poems, Mr. Murray wrote to Lord Byron as follows:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
November 18th, 1813.
My Dear Lord,

I am very anxious that our business transactions should occur frequently, and that they should be settled immediately; for short accounts are favourable to long friendships.

I restore ‘The Giaour’ to your Lordship entirely, and for it, the ‘Bride of Abydos,’ and the miscellaneous poems intended to fill up the volume of the small edition, I beg leave to offer you the sum of One Thousand Guineas; and I shall be happy if you perceive that my estimation of your talents in my character of a man of business is not much under my admiration of them as a man.

I do most heartily accept the offer of your portrait, as
the most noble mark of friendship with which you could in any way honour me. I do assure you that I am truly proud of being distinguished as your publisher, and that I shall ever continue,

Your Lordship’s faithful Servant.
John Murray.

With reference to the foregoing letter we read in Lord Byron’s ‘Diary,’—

Mr. Murray has offered me one thousand guineas for ‘The Giaour’ and ‘The Bride of Abydos.’ I won’t. It is too much: though I am strongly tempted, merely for the say of it. No bad price for a fortnight’s (a week each) what?—the gods know. It was intended to be called poetry.”

In a letter to Mr. Murray (Nov. 17, 1813), Lord Byron writes,—

“Before I left town for Yorkshire, you said that you were ready and willing to give five hundred guineas for the copyright of ‘The Giaour;’ and my answer was—from which I do not mean to recede—that we would discuss the point at Christmas. The new story may or may not succeed; the probability, under present circumstances, seems to be that it may at least pay its expenses: but even that remains to be proved, and till it is proved one way or the other, we will say nothing about it. Thus, then, be it: I will postpone all arrangement about it, and ‘The Giaour’ also, till Easter, 1814; and you will then, according to your own notions of fairness, make your own offer for the two. At the same time, I do not rate the last, in my own estimation, at half ‘The Giaour;’ and according to your own notions of its worth and its success within the time mentioned, be the addition or deduction to or from whatever sum may be your proposal for the first, which has already had its success.”

The ‘Bride of Abydos’ was received with almost as much applause as the ‘Giaour.’ “Lord Byron,” said Sir James Mackintosh, “is the author of the day; six thousand of his ‘Bride of Abydos’ have been sold within a month.”


The Corsair’ was Lord Byron’s next poem, written with great vehemence, literally “struck off at a heat,” at the rate of about two hundred lines a day,—“a circumstance,” says Moore, “that is, perhaps, wholly without a parallel in the history of genius.” ‘The Corsair’ was begun on the 18th, and finished on the 31st of December, 1813.

A sudden impulse induced Lord Byron to present the copyright of this poem also to Mr. Dallas, with the single stipulation that he would offer it for publication to Mr. Murray, who eventually paid Mr. Dallas five hundred guineas for the copyright, and the work was published in February 1814. The following letters will give some idea of the reception it met with.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
February 3rd, 1814.
My Lord,

I have been unwilling to write until I had something to say, an occasion to which I do not always restrict myself. I am most happy to tell you that your last poem is—what Mr. Southey’s is called—a Carmen Triumphale. Never, in my recollection, has any work, since the “Letter of Burke to the Duke of Bedford,” excited such a ferment—a ferment which I am happy to say will subside into lasting fame. I sold, on the day of publication,—a thing perfectly unprecedented—10,000 copies; and I suppose thirty people, who were purchasers (strangers), called to tell the people in the shop how much they had been delighted and satisfied. Mr. Moore says it is masterly,—a wonderful performance. Mr. Hammond, Mr. Heber, D’Israeli, every one who comes,—and too many call for me to enumerate—declare their unlimited approbation. Mr. Ward was here with Mr. Gifford yesterday, and mingled his admiration with the rest. Mr. Ward is much delighted with the unexpected charge of the Dervis—
“Up rose the Dervis, with that burst of light,”
and Gifford did what I never knew him do before—he
repeated several passages from memory, particularly the closing stanza,—
“His death yet dubious, deeds too widely known.”
Indeed, from what I have observed, from the very general and unvarying sentiment which I have now gathered, the suffrages are decidedly in favour of this poem in preference to the ‘
Bride of Abydos,’ and are even now balancing with ‘The Giaour.’ I have heard no one pass without noticing, and without expressing regret at, the idea thrown out by your Lordship of writing no more for a considerable time. I am really marking down, without suppression or extension, literally what I have heard. I was with Mr. Shee this morning, to whom I had presented the poem; and he declared himself to have been delighted, and swore he had long placed you far beyond any contemporary bard; and, indeed, your last poem does, in the opinion of almost all that I have conversed with. I have the highest encomiums in letters from Croker and Mr. Hay; but I rest most upon the warm feeling it has created in Gifford’s critical heart. The versification is thought highly of indeed. After printing the poems at the end of the first edition, I transplanted them to ‘Childe Harold,’ conceiving that you would have the goodness to pardon this ruse to give additional impetus to that poem, and to assist in making it a more respectable thickness. I sent, previous to publication, copies to all your friends, containing the poems at the end; and one of them has provoked a great deal of discussion, so much so, that I expect to sell off the whole edition of ‘Childe Harold’ merely to get at it. You have no notion of the sensation which the publication has occasioned; and my only regret is that you were not present to witness it

I earnestly trust that your Lordship is well: and with ardent compliments,

I remain, my Lord,
Your obliged and faithful Servant,
John Murray.

P.S.—I have very strong reasons to believe that the Bookseller at Newark continues to reprint—not altering the Edition—your early poems. Perhaps you would ascertain this fact.


With regard to the transference of some separate verses from the ‘Corsair’ to ‘Childe Harold,’ to which Mr. Murray alludes, Byron wrote on February 5: “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 them by one of the Tories.”

John Murray to Lord Byron.
February, 1814.
My Lord,

I have allowed myself to indulge in the pleasure I derived from the expression of your satisfaction, because I have anticipated the point upon which there was likely to be some uneasiness. As soon as I perceived the fuss that was made about certain lines, I caused them to be immediately reinstated; and I wrote on Saturday to inform you that I had done so. A conviction of duty made me do this. I can assure you, with the most unreserved sincerity, that ‘Childe Harold’ did not require the insertion of the lines which have made so much noise to assist its sale; but they made it still more attractive, and my sordid propensities got the better of me. I sold at once nearly a thousand copies of this new edition; and I am convinced, by the collected and unshaken opinions of the best critics, that it is just as certain of becoming a Classic, as Thomson or Dryden. What delights me is, that amidst the most decided applause, there is a constant difference as to which is the best of your poems. Gifford declared to me again, the other day, that you would last far beyond any poet of the present day. I tried him particularly as to Campbell, but he had not a doubt about the certainty of your passing him. Although, therefore, I may concur with you in feeling; some little surprise at such unprecedented triumph over people’s prejudices, yet I can differ, upon very solid reasons, from your notion of “temporary reputation.” I declare that I have not heard one expression of disappointment or doubtful satisfaction upon reading ‘The Corsair,’ which bids fair to be the most popular of your poems. You cannot meet a man in the street who has not read or heard read ‘The Corsair.’


The facsimile is restored to ‘Childe Harold,’ only 200 copies having been sent out without it. The poem on the ‘Skull Cup’ is introduced. I long to have the pleasure of congratulating your Lordship personally. Your noble conduct to a schoolfellow does not lessen the admiration with which I remain, &c.,

John Murray.

While ‘The Corsair’ was in the press, Lord Byron dedicated it to Mr. Moore; and at the end of the poem he added ‘Stanzas on a Lady Weeping.’ When the work appeared with his name on the titlepage, he was attacked in the leading newspapers; and his life, his sentiments, and his works, were violently assailed. The Courier alleged of him that he had received large sums of money for his writings. Lord Byron was extremely galled by these attacks, and permitted Mr. Dallas to defend his character in the newspapers.

“I take upon me,” said Mr. Dallas, “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 those has ever touched his Lordship’s hands, or been disposed of for his use.”

Lord Byron himself said of this letter:—“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.”

Mr. Murray also was desirous of contradicting the state-
ment published in the
Courier, on different grounds. Byron had at first expressed his intention of giving the publisher the copyright of ‘The Giaour,’ though he afterwards consented to receive one thousand guineas for it and ‘The Bride of Abydos.’ But his subsequent transfer of this sum to Dallas, however galling to Mr. Murray, did not absolve the publisher from his agreement with Lord Byron.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
February 26th, 1814.
My Lord,

You appeared to be so satisfactorily convinced that silence would be most becoming, that I wrote the note to Mr. Dallas late on Saturday evening, with the hope of preventing the publication of his letter. The meaning of the “expressions” pointed out by you in my note is, that having formerly told Mr. Gifford, Mr. Hammond, Mr. Frere, Mr. Ward, Mr. Canning, and many other of my friends, that you had given me the copyright of ‘The Giaour,’ and having had occasion subsequently to unsay this, it would be placing my assertions in a very doubtful light, if I allow it to be insinuated publicly that I am to pay nothing for this poem, or for ‘The Bride of Abydos.’ You do not seem to be aware that I feel as much bound by my promise to pay you a thousand guineas for the copyright of ‘The Giaour’ and ‘Bride of Abydos’ in May next, as I am by my bond to give Lord Sheffield £1000 for ‘Gibbon.’

My expression to Madame de Staël was, not that I had actually “paid,” but that I had “given” you 1000 guineas for these two poems, because it is as much as the 500 guineas for ‘The Corsair,’ which I am to pay in two, four, and six months; and I must confess that at the time I stated this circumstance to Madame de Staël, I was not aware of your liberal intentions with regard to this sum; for I did not then conceive it possible that you would have resumed your gift of ‘The Giaour’ to me, to bestow it on another; and, therefore, the explanation of that part of Mr. Dallas’s letter which refers to me is, that although Lord Byron has not actually received anything for ‘The
Giaour’ and ‘Bride,’ yet I am under an engagement to pay him a thousand guineas for them in May.

But, as Mr. Dallas’s letter was published, and as your Lordship appeared to approve of it, I said nothing; nor should I have said anything further if you had not commanded this explanation. I declare I think these things are very unworthy a place in your mind. Why allow “a blight on our blade” to prevent you from reaping and revelling in the rich and superabundant harvest of Fame, which your inspired labours have created? I am sure, my Lord, if you will give the matter reflection, my conduct towards you has uniformly been that of a very humble, but very faithful friend.

I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship’s obliged and obedient Servant,
John Murray.

The ‘Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte,’ which appeared in April 1814, was on the whole a failure. It was known to be Lord Byron’s, and its publication was seized upon by the press as the occasion for many bitter criticisms, mingled with personalities against the writer’s genius and character. He was cut to the quick by these notices, and came to the determination to buy back the whole of the copyrights of his works, and suppress every line he had ever written. On the 29th of April, 1814, he wrote to Mr. Murray:—

Lord Byron to John Murray.
April 29th, 1814.

I enclose a draft for the money; when paid, send the copyrights. I release you from the thousand pounds agreed on for ‘The Giaour’ and ‘Bride,’ and there’s an end. . . . For all this, it might be well to assign some reason. I have none to give, except my own caprice, and I do not consider the circumstance of consequence enough to require explanation. . . . It will give me great pleasure to preserve your
acquaintance, and to consider you as my friend. Believe me very truly, and for much attention,

Yours, &c.

Mr. Murray was of course very much concerned at this determination. He appealed with good effect to his lordship’s considerateness and good nature; and three days later, Lord Byron revoked his determination. To Mr. Murray, he wrote (1 May, 1814):—

“If your present note is serious, and it really would be inconvenient, there is an end of the matter; tear my draft, and go on as usual: in that case, we will recur to our former basis.”

Before the end of the month, Lord Byron began the composition of his next poem ‘Lara,’ usually considered a continuation of ‘The Corsair.’ It was published conjointly with Mr. Rogers’sJacqueline.’ “Rogers and I,” said Lord Byron to Moore, “have almost coalesced into a joint invasion of the public. Whether it will take place or not, I do not yet know, and I am afraid ‘Jacqueline’ (which is very beautiful) will be in bad company. But in this case, the lady will not be the sufferer.”

Murray wrote to Lord Byron as follows:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
My Lord,

Mr. Rogers called to-day with his poem to be printed with yours. I send the first sheet of Gifford’s copy of the proof. The rest I will get (if not to-day) to-morrow. Mr. Ward has read the proof, and admires the poem greatly. I suggested if it were not too semblable —he said it showed uncommon talent to exhibit the same portrait in so many lights.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
August 6th, 1814.

I am really grateful for your obliging sufferance of my desire to publish ‘Lara;’ for I am sure you know that the respect I bear you in every way would not have allowed me to do this without your consent. I had anticipated this, and had done everything but actually deliver the copies of ‘Lara;’ and the moment I received your letter, for for it I waited, I cut the last cord of my aerial work, and at this instant six thousand copies are gone! I have sent copies, I believe, to every one of your friends; and, without an exception, they are delighted, and their praise is most particularly and rootedly confirmed on a second perusal, which proves to them that your researches into the human heart and character are at once wonderful and just. Mr. Frere likes the poem greatly, and particularly admires the first canto. I mentioned the passage in the second canto—descriptive of the morning after the battle, which delighted me so much, and indeed Mr. Wilmot and many other persons. His remark was that he thought it rather too shocking. This is perhaps a little fastidious. Sir Jno. Malcolm, whom I have not seen since, called to express his satisfaction; and by the way, I may add that Mr. Frere has been here this moment to take another copy with him to read again in his carriage. He told me that Mr. Canning liked it equally. Mr. Frere, and in his report, Mr. Canning, are the only persons who have spoken in praise of ‘Jacqueline’; but they say it is beautiful, and this is a host. There is an obvious tendency to disparage ‘Jacqueline,’ but I think it is unjust and will be overcome.

Against the formidable attack upon my advertisement, I feel “perfectly secure.” Imprimis, the words are Gifford’s. In the second place, Mr. Frere denies that they are not grammar, and in the third place no other person has noticed them, and those to whom I suggested the alleged incorrectness agree that they can be noticed only by fastidiousness and hypercriticism of friendship. Who, in such a poem, would stop for a moment at a word in the preface? Moreover, here is Johnson for you, and (thank God) for your publisher, who, now that his author is found
out to be
Dryden, is I suppose to be treated like Tonson, but to Johnson:

That (1) not this

(2) which; relating to an antecedent thing—
“The mark that is set before him.”—Perkins.
“The time that clogs me.”—Shakespeare.
“Bones that hasten to be so.”—Cowley.
“Judgment that is equal.”—Wilkins.
Are you answered?

Mr. Merivale is here, and subscribes to the opinion in favour of that.

I felt more about the publication of these lines than I could express, and therefore I said nothing. It was most shameful to print at all, but with the name it was villanous. I saw them only in the Chronicle, and I rejoice that they did not originate with our friend Perry—they spoil that tone of harmony towards your Lordship which had been so powerfully struck into the public mind by Jeffrey; everybody thinks highly of the talent of the article in the E. R., and is in accord with its sentiments throughout.

I must remain some days yet to watch the progress of the demand for ‘Lara;’ and therefore, as I could not attend my family to Scotland, I rather think of going to Paris first, and afterwards to the North. You do not tell me, and perhaps cannot, the time of your return. I have now deciphered the last part of your note, made obscure by the erasure of some valuable remarks, and rejoice that I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in town next week.

John Murray.

The two poems were published anonymously in the following August (1814): Murray allowing 500 guineas for the copyright of each. The conjunction of the two produced some fairish jokes.


Lord Byron now contemplated a collection of his works, ‘Lara’ completing the series, an intention to which the postscript of the following letter refers:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
My Dear Lord,

I enclose a letter, not without most serious compunctions, which shall not be excited upon any similar occasion. I rejoice to hear that you are yet making improvements upon ‘The Giaour.’ It is a series of gems that well deserve the finest polish.

We are rather dull here, though the place is quite full, for the Prince Regent’s appearance or behaviour either prevented from coming, or drove away from the place, all respectable people. He was more outrageously dissipated the short time he was here than ever, and he has sunk into the company of the vilest of his former associates, Lord Barrymore, &c.

Lord Sheffield has been so good as to invite me to pass some days at his house, where I shall go on Wednesday, in case you have occasion to write.

I dine to-day with three of my authors, D’Israeli, Prince Hoare and Northcote.

I am ever, &c.
John Murray.

P.S.—I am advancing in the Fourth volume of the Works, which will consist of: ‘Ode to Buonaparte,’ ‘Poems at end of Childe Harold,’ ‘Poems at end of Corsair,’ ‘Death of Sir P. Parker,’ and anything unpublished.