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

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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On January 2nd, 1815, Lord Byron was married to Miss Milbanke, and during the honeymoon, while he was residing at Seaham, the residence of his father-in-law Sir Ralph Milbanke, he wrote to Murray desiring him to make occasional enquiry at his chambers in the Albany to see if they were kept in proper order.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
February 17th, 1815.
My Lord,

I have paid frequent attention to your wish that I should ascertain if all things appeared to be safe in your chambers, and I am happy in being able to report that the whole establishment carries an appearance of security, which is confirmed by the unceasing vigilance of your faithful and frigid Duenna [Mrs. Mule].

Every day I have been in expectation of receiving a copy of ‘Guy Mannering,’ of which the reports of a friend of mine, who has read the first two volumes, is such as to create the most extravagant expectations of an extraordinary combination of wit, humour and pathos. I am certain of one of the first copies, and this you may rely upon receiving with the utmost expedition.

I hear many interesting letters read to me from the Continent, and one in particular from Mr. Fazakerly, describing his interview of four hours with Bonaparte, was particularly good. He acknowledged at once to the poisoning of the sick prisoners in Egypt; they had the plague, and would have communicated it to the rest of his army if
he had carried them on with him, and he had only to determine if he should leave them to a cruel death by the Turks, or to an easy one by poison. When asked his motive for becoming a Mahomedan, he replied that there were great political reasons for this, and gave several; but he added, the Turks would not admit me at first unless I submitted to two indispensable ceremonies. . . . They agreed at length to remit the first and to commute the other for a solemn vow, for every offence to give expiation by the performance of some good action. “Oh, gentlemen,” says he, “for good actions, you know you may command me,” and his first good action was to put to instant death an hundred of their priests, whom he suspected of intrigues against him. Not aware of his summary justice, they sent a deputation to beg the lives of these people on the score of his engagement. He answered that nothing would have made him so happy as this opportunity of showing his zeal for their religion; but that they had arrived too late; their friends had been dead nearly an hour.

He asked Lord Ebrington of which party he was, in Politics. “The Opposition.” “The Opposition? Then can your Lordship tell me the reason why the Opposition are so unpopular in England?” With something like presence of mind on so delicate a question, Lord Ebrington instantly replied: “Because, sir, we always insisted upon it, that you would be successful in Spain.”

Walter Scott sent you a copy of the ‘Lord of the Isles;’ but as it arrived at least a month after I had forwarded a ‘Mail Coach’ copy to you, I took that copy in exchange (there were no writings in it), and thus balanced my account. There are not two opinions about it being his worst poem.

I am delaying the publication of our edition in four volumes only until you find a leisure moment to strike off the dedication to your friend Mr. Hobhouse, who still thinks that it is not precisely the same thing to have music made to one’s poems, and to write poetry for music; and I advise you most conscientiously to abide by the determination of Mr. Hobhouse’s good sense.

Mrs. Wilmot’s tragedy is to be brought forward at Drury Lane immediately after Easter.

I have the honour to remain, my Lord,
Your faithful Servant,
John Murray.

During the spring and summer of 1815 Byron was a frequent visitor at Albemarle Street, and in April, as has been already recorded, he first met Walter Scott in Murray’s drawing room.

In March, Lord and Lady Byron took up their residence at 13, Piccadilly Terrace. The following letter is undated, but was probably written in the autumn of 1815.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
My Lord,

The enclosed note will explain the contents of the accompanying volume in sheets: which if returned to me, I will put into such dress as your taste shall direct. I picked up, the other day, some of Napoleon’s own writing paper, all the remainder of which has been burnt; it has his portrait and eagle, as you will perceive by holding a sheet to the light either of sun or candle: so I thought I would take a little for you, hoping that you will just write me a poem upon any twenty-four quires of it in return. I beg the favour of you to offer my thanks to Lady Byron for some game which came opportunely to fatten Southey, Sotheby, and Malcolm, with sundry other Poeticals and Historicals, who dined with me on Thursday. I am really more grieved than I can venture to say, that I so rarely have an opportunity of seeing you; but I trust that you are well.

With compliments, I remain, my Lord,
Your faithful Servant,
John Murray.

By the autumn of 1815 Lord Byron found himself involved in pecuniary embarrassments, which had, indeed, existed before his marriage, but were now considerably increased and demanded immediate settlement. His first thought was to part with his books, though they did not form a very valuable collection. He mentioned the matter to a book collector, who conferred with other dealers on
the subject. The circumstances coming to the ears of
Mr. Murray, he at once communicated with Lord Byron, and forwarded him a cheque for £1500, with the assurance that an equal sum should be at his service in the course of a few weeks, offering, at the same time, to dispose of all the copyrights of his poems for his Lordship’s use.

Lord Byron could not fail to be affected by this generous offer, and whilst returning the cheque, he wrote:—

November 14th, 1815.

“Your present offer is a favour which I would accept from you, if I accepted such from any man . . . The circumstances which induce me to part with my books, though sufficiently, are not immediately, pressing. I have made up my mind to this, and there’s an end. Had I been disposed to trespass upon your kindness in this way, it would have been before now; but I am not sorry to have an opportunity of declining it, as it sets my opinion of you, and indeed of human nature, in a different light from that in which I have been accustomed to consider it.”

Meanwhile Lord Byron had completed his ‘Siege of Corinth’ and ‘Parisina,’ and sent the packet containing them to Mr. Murray. They had been copied in the legible hand of Lady Byron. On receiving the poems Mr. Murray wrote to Lord Byron as follows:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
December, 1815.
My Lord,

I tore open the packet you sent me, and have found in it a Pearl. It is very interesting, pathetic, beautiful—do you know, I would almost say moral. I am really writing to you before the billows of the passions you excited have subsided. I have been most agreeably disappointed (a word I cannot associate with the poem) at the story, which—what you hinted to me and wrote—had alarmed me; and I should not have read it aloud to my wife if my eye
had not traced the delicate hand that transcribed it. This poem is all action and interest: not a line but what is necessary. Now, I do think that you should fragmentize the first hundred, and condense the last thirty, of ‘
Corinth,’ and then you have, in words of the highest compliment, two poems (as Mr. H. said) as good as any you have written. I admire the fabrication of the “big Tear,”* which is very fine—much larger, by the way, than Shakespeare’s. I do think you thought of Ney in casting off his bandage. The close is exquisite: and you know that all’s well that ends well—with which I stop. I will answer for Mr. Gifford: and, to conclude (a bargain), say that they are mine for the enclosed, and add to the obligations of,

My Lord, your faithful Servant,
John Murray.

Mr. Murray enclosed to Lord Byron two notes, amounting to a thousand guineas, for the copyright of the poems, but Lord Byron refused the notes, declaring that the sum was too great.

“Your offer,” he answered (Jan. 3rd, 1816) “is liberal in the extreme, and much more than the poems can possibly be worth; but I cannot accept it, and will not. You are most welcome to them as additions to the collected volumes, without any demand or expectation on my part whatever. . . . I am very glad that the handwriting was a favourable omen of the morale of the piece; but you must not trust to that, as my copyist would write out anything I desired in all the ignorance of innocence—I hope, however, in this instance, with no great peril to either. . .. I have enclosed your draft torn, for fear of accident by the way—I wish you would not throw temptation in mine. It is not from a disdain of the universal idol, nor from a present superfluity of his treasures, I can assure you, that I refuse to worship him; but what is right is right, and must not yield to circumstances.”

The money, therefore, which Murray thought the copyright of the ‘Siege of Corinth’ and ‘Parisina’ was worth,

* ‘Parisina,’ Stanza xiv.

remained untouched in the publisher’s hands. It was afterwards suggested, by
Mr. Rogers and Sir James Mackintosh, to Lord Byron, that a portion of it (£600) might be applied to the relief of Mr. Godwin, the author of ‘An Enquiry into Political Justice,’ who was then in difficulties; and Lord Byron himself proposed that the remainder should be divided between Mr. Maturin and Mr. Coleridge. This proposal caused the deepest vexation to Mr. Murray, who made the following remonstrance against such a proceeding.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
Albemarle Street, Monday, 4 o’clock.
My Lord.

I did not like to detain you this morning, but I confess to you that I came away impressed with a belief that you had already reconsidered this matter, as it refers to me. Your Lordship will pardon me if I cannot avoid looking upon it as a species of cruelty, after what has passed, to take from me so large a sum—offered with no reference to the marketable value of the poems, but out of personal friendship and gratitude alone,—to cast it away on the wanton and ungenerous interference of those who cannot enter into your Lordship’s feelings for me, upon persons who have so little claim upon you, and whom those who so interested themselves might more decently and honestly enrich from their own funds, than by endeavouring to be liberal at the cost of another, and by forcibly resuming from me a sum which you had generously and nobly resigned.

I am sure you will do me the justice to believe that I would strain every nerve in your service, but it is actually heartbreaking to throw away my earnings on others. I am no rich man, abounding, like Mr. Rogers, in superfluous thousands, but working hard for independence, and what would be the most grateful pleasure to me if likely to be useful to you personally, becomes merely painful if it causes me to work for others for whom I can have no such feelings.

This is a most painful subject for me to address you
upon, and I am ill able to express my feelings about it. I commit them entirely to your liberal construction with a reference to your knowledge of my character.

I have the honour to be, &c.,
John Murray.

This letter was submitted to Gifford before it was despatched, and he wrote:—

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.

I have made a scratch or two, and the letter now expresses my genuine sentiments on the matter. But should you not see Rogers?

It is evident that Lord Byron is a little awkward about this matter, and his officious friends have got him into a most unlordly scrape, from which they can only relieve him by treading back their steps. The more I consider their conduct, the more I am astonished at their impudence. A downright robbery is honourable to it. If you see Rogers, do not be shy to speak: he trembles at report, and here is an evil one for him.

Faithfully yours,
Wm. Gifford.

In the end Lord Byron was compelled by the increasing pressure of his debts to accept the sum offered by Murray and use it for his own purposes.

To revert to the poems themselves: Lord Byron, in sending the MSS. of the ‘Siege of Corinth’ and ‘Parisina’ to Murray, requested him to consult Gifford, and authorized the latter to strike out or alter any of the lines at his pleasure. The following is Murray’s letter to Lord Byron, after Gifford had read over the poem:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.

“I assure you my conscience has not been without its compunctions, at not calling or writing, although incessant
business and interruptions have prevented both.
Mr. Gifford has read, with great delight, the ‘Siege of Corinth,’ in which—from the apparition, which is exquisitely conceived and supported, to the end—he says, you have equalled your best: the battle in the streets, and the catastrophe, all worthy of their author. He makes three critical remarks: that we are rather too long in coming to the interesting part; the scene immediately before the apparition is rather too frightful; and there are perhaps too many minutiæ after the catastrophe—all very easy of improvement if you feel their force, which certainly I do: and, then, it is as beautiful a little poem as ever was written. You would have received a proof before this had I not been anxious to preserve the MSS.; but a portion will be sent this night, and the rest on Monday. Coleridge is wild and fanciful, and will make much talk. I will gladly make a bidding when I can have the remainder,* as well to judge of quantity as quality. I am very anxious to receive Mr. Hunt’s poem [’Rimini’], of which your opinion is perfectly satisfactory. I should have put up for you the sheets of Sir John Malcolm’sPersia,’ which will not be published till December, but I am anxious that you should have the first reading of it, and I will give you a better copy hereafter, with twenty plates. Mr. Ward was with me yesterday, and inquired most warmly about you. We are filling now: if you are out about four, will you look in and see us. Pardon my haste.

“J. M.”

The following is Mr. Gifford’s note about the ‘Siege of Corinth’:—

“It is a dreadful picture: Caravaggio outdone in his own way. I have hinted at the removal of one couplet: if its sense be wanted, it may be compressed into one of the other lines. Its powers are unquestionable; but can any human being deserve such a delineation? I keep my old opinion of Lord Byron. He may be what he will. Why will he not will to be the first of poets and of men. I

* This may have related to ‘Christabel’—a poem greatly admired by Byron, but never finished.

lament bitterly to see a great mind run to seed, and waste itself in rank growth.

“Ever yours,
“W. G.”

Mr. D’Israeli was greatly affected by the ‘Siege of Corinth’; shortly after its perusal, he wrote to Mr. Murray.

Mr. I. D’Israeli to John Murray.
December, 1815.
Dear M.,

I am anxious to tell you, that I find myself, this morning, so strangely affected by the perusal of the poem last night, that I feel that it is one which stands quite by itself. I know of nothing of the kind which is worthy of comparison with it. There is no scene, no incident, nothing so marvellous in pathos and terror in Homer, or any bard of antiquity. It impresses one with such a complete feeling of utter desolation, mental and scenical, that when Minotti touched that last spark which scattered its little world into air, he did not make it more desolate than the terrible and affecting energy of the poet’s imagination. But Homer had not such a sort of spirit as the mistress of Alp—he had wolves, and vultures, and dogs; but Homer has never conveyed his reader into a vast Golgotha, nor harrowed us with the vulture flapping the back of the gorged wolf, nor the dogs: the terror, the truth, and the loneliness of that spot will never be erased from my memory. Alp by the side of the besieged wall; that ghost-like manner of giving him a minute’s reflection by showing one of the phenomena of nature—that is a stroke of a spirit’s character never before imagined, and can never be surpassed. And after the most sublime incident that ever poet invented, still to have the power to agitate the mind, by that eagle who flies nearer the sun, mistaking the cloud of destruction for night; in a word, I could not abstain from assuring you, that I never read any poem that exceeded in power this, to me, most extraordinary production. I do not know where I am to find any which can excite the same degree of emotion.

Yours always,
I. D’I.

The following correspondence relates to ‘Parisina’:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
My Lord,

Though I have not written to you, you have occupied my thoughts. Gifford declares to me that you never surpassed ‘Parisina.’ I enclose Ward’s note after reading the ‘Siege of Corinth.’ I lent him ‘Parisina’ also, and he called yesterday to express his mind at your hesitation about their merits. He was particularly struck with the “Son’s reply to Azo.” I lent Parisina to Mr. Hay (Mr. Wilmot’s friend) last night, and I enclose his note. I send the proof. If you are sure that you can improve it, do; otherwise, touch it not. I will send a revise of ‘Corinth’ to-night or to-morrow. Gifford thinks, if the narrative were put into the mouth of the Turk (if it didn’t choke him), would give it additional interest. I hope your Lordship is well.

J. M.
John Murray to Lord Byron.
Albemarle Street, January 4th, 1816.
My Lord,

I send the manuscript, of which Gifford says: “I read the manuscript, and with great pleasure. It is indeed very good, and the plan is ingenious. The poetry is in the best manner.” Nothing can be more ingeniously framed and more interestingly told than this story. I liked it ten times better on the third reading than on the first. I read it last night to D’Israeli and his family, and they were perfectly overcome by it. The gradual madness of Parisina, the preparation and death of Hugo, and the subsequent description of Azo, by which, after all the story is over, you recreate a new and most tender interest, are all most attractive and touching, and in your best manner. In these matters I always liken myself to Molière’s “old woman”; and when I am pleased I know our readers will be pleased. Where you can strengthen expressions or lines, I entreat you to do so, but otherwise nothing can be added or retrenched for its improvement, though it is a gem truly worth polishing. These two tales form an invaluable contrast, and display the variety of
your power. For myself, I am really more interested by the effect of the story of ‘
Parisina’ than by either, I think, of the former tales. I will call upon you from two to three. Depend upon it you beat them all; you have allowed plenty of time for any to take the field and equal your last ‘Lara,’ which I find, from the opinion of Rose and Ellis, is thought by poets to be your best poem. I really am convinced that there is not any volume, the production of one man, to be picked out that will be so interesting and universally popular as that which your six tales would make. Formed upon human passions, they can never pass away.

John Murray.

It is not necessary here to touch upon the circumstances of Lord Byron’s separation from his wife; suffice it to say that early in 1816 he determined to leave England, and resolved, as he had before contemplated doing, to sell off his books and furniture. He committed the arrangements to Mr. Murray, through Mr. Hanson, his solicitor, in Bloomsbury Square. A few months before, when Lord Byron was in straits for money, Mr. Hanson communicated with Mr. Murray as follows:—

Mr. Hanson to John Murray.
November 23rd, 1815.

Mr. Hanson’s compliments to Mr. Murray. He has seen Lord Byron, and his Lordship has no objection to his Library being taken at a valuation. Mr. Hanson submits to Mr. Murray whether it would not be best to name one respectable bookseller to set a value on them. In the meantime, Mr. Hanson has written to Messrs. Crook and Armstrong, in whose hands the books now are, not to proceed further in the sale.

On the 28th of December, 1815, Mr. Murray received the following valuation:—

“Mr. Cochrane presents respectful compliments to Mr. Murray, and begs to inform him that upon carefully
inspecting the books in Skinner Street, he judges the fair value of them to be £450.”

Mr. Murray sent Lord Byron a bill of £500 for the books as a temporary accommodation. But the books were traced and attached by the sheriff. On the 6th of March, 1816, Lord Byron wrote to Murray:—

“I send to you to-day for this reason: the books you purchased are again seized, and, as matters stand, had much better be sold at once by public auction. I wish to see you to-morrow to return your bill for them, which, thank Heaven, is neither due nor paid. That part, so far as you are concerned, being settled (which it can be, and shall be, when I see you to-morrow), I have no further delicacy about the matter. This is about the tenth execution in as many months; so I am pretty well hardened; but it is fit I should pay the forfeit of my forefathers’ extravagance as well as my own; and whatever my faults may be, I suppose they will be pretty well expiated in time—or eternity.”

A letter was next received by Mr. Murray’s solicitor, Mr. Turner, from Mr. Gunn, to the following effect:—

Mr. Gunn to Mr. Turner.
March 16th, 1816.

Mr. Constable, the plaintiff’s attorney, has written to say he will indemnify the sheriff to sell the books under the execution; as such, we must decline taking your indemnity.

The result was, that Lord Byron, on the 22nd of March, paid to Crook and Armstrong £231 15s., “being the amount of three levies, poundage, and expenses,” and also £25 13s. 6d., the amount of Crook and Armstrong’s account. Crook and Armstrong settled with Levy, the Jew, who had lent Byron money; and also with the officer, who had been in possession twenty-three days, at 5s. a day. The books were afterwards sold by Mr. Evans at his house,
26, Pall Mall, on the 5th of April, 1816, and the following day. The catalogue describes them as “A collection of books, late the property of a nobleman, about to leave England on a tour.”

Mr. Murray was present at the sale, and bought a selection of books for Mrs. Leigh, for Mr. Rogers, and for Mr. J. C. Hobhouse, as well as for himself. He bought the large screen, with the portraits of actors and pugilists, which is still at Albemarle Street. There was also a silver cup and cover, nearly thirty ounces in weight, elegantly chased. These articles realised £723 12s. 6d., and after charging the costs, commission, and Excise duty, against the sale of the books, the balance was handed over to Lord Byron.

The ‘Sketch from Private Life’ was one of the most bitter and satirical things Byron had ever written. In sending it to Mr. Murray (March 30th, 1816), he wrote: “I send you my last night’s dream, and request to have fifty copies struck off for private distribution. I wish Mr. Gifford to look at it; it is from life.” Afterwards, when Lord Byron called upon Mr. Murray, he said: “I could not get to sleep last night, but lay rolling and tossing about until this morning, when I got up and wrote that; and it is very odd, Murray, after doing that, I went to bed again, and never slept sounder in my life.”

Mr. Murray showed the verses to Rogers, Frere, and Stratford Canning. In communicating the result to Byron, he said:—

“They have all seen and admired the lines: they agree that you have produced nothing better; that satire is your forte; and so in each class as you choose to adopt it. Mr. F. suggests that in the last line weltering does not accord with hang on high, which precedes it. I have sent a copy to Mr. Gifford.”


Lord Byron answered:—

“I doubt about weltering. We say ‘weltering in blood,’ but do they not also say ‘weltering in the wind,’ ‘weltering on a gibbet’? I have no dictionary; so look. In the meantime, I have put ‘festering,’ which, perhaps, in any case is the best word of the two. Shakespeare has it often, and I do not think it is too strong for the figure in this thing. Quick! quick! quick! quick!”

The lines were printed and sent to Lord Byron. But before publishing them, Mr. Murray took advice of his special literary adviser and solicitor, Mr. Sharon Turner. His reply was as follows:—

Mr. Turner to John Murray.
April 3rd, 1816.

There are some expressions in the Poem that I think are libellous, and the severe tenor of the whole would induce a jury to find them to be so. The question only remains, to whom it is applicable. It certainly does not itself name the person. But the legal pleadings charge that innuendo must mean such a person. How far evidence extrinsic to the work might be brought or received to show that the author meant a particular person, I will not pretend to affirm. Some cases have gone so far on this point that I should not think it safe to risk. And if a libel, it is a libel not only by the author, but by the printer, the publisher, and every circulator.

I am, dear Murray, yours most faithfully,
Shn. Turner.

Mr. Murray did not publish the poems, but after their appearance in the newspapers, they were announced by many booksellers as “Poems by Lord Byron on his Domestic Circumstances.” Among others, Constable printed and published them, whereupon Blackwood, as Murray’s agent in Edinburgh, wrote to him, requesting the suppression of the verses, and threatening proceedings.
Constable, in reply, said he had no wish to invade literary property, but the verses had come to him without either author’s name, publisher’s name, or printer’s name, and that there was no literary property in publications to which neither author’s, publisher’s, nor printer’s name was attached. Blackwood could proceed no farther. In his letter to Murray (April 17th, 1816), he wrote:—

“I have distributed copies of ‘Fare Thee Well’ and ‘A Sketch’ to Dr. Thomas Brown, Walter Scott, and Professor Playfair. One cannot read ‘Fare Thee Well’ without crying. The other is ‘vigorous hate,’ as you say. Its power is really terrible; one’s blood absolutely creeps while reading it.”

Byron left England in April, 1816 and during his travels he corresponded frequently with Mr. Murray, partly by means of the letters which are familiar to every reader of Moore’sLife,’ partly by the hand of his secretary, Dr. Polidori:—

Dr. Polidori to John Murray.
July 10th, 1816.
Dear Sir,

Your letter to me was received both by myself and Lord Byron with great pleasure. Yours of the day following has not arrived, which is a pity, as in your last you talk of a journal in it which, to Lord Byron—who hears nothing but reports of Insurrection in the East, Rebellions in the West, and Murders North and South—would be a great gratification. Lord Liverpool resigned, Lord Wellington blown up, and half-a-dozen greatly lettered names—with some pleasant accidents after them—is all we have to keep us newspaperly alive. We are also quite ignorant of all literary news; something of some poems by Coleridge, Maturin’s play, ‘The Antiquary,’ and ‘Glenarvon’ have reached us. Since it has given you hopes of entering well into the literary world next winter, that ‘Childe Harold’ has got another canto of 118 stanzas, you will be more pleased to hear of another poem of 400 lines called ‘The
Castle of Chillon’; the feelings of a third of three brothers in prison on the banks of the Geneva Lake. I think it very beautiful, containing more of his tender than of his sombre poetry. Indeed ‘Childe Harold’ himself is a little altered—more philosophic and less blackly misanthropic than before. . . . Lord Byron desires me to say that it was my neglectful hurry on writing my last that hindered me repeating to you his compliments, which he now sends you, thrice repeated.

The MSS. of the third canto of ‘Childe Harold’ and ‘The Prisoner of Chillon’ duly reached the publisher. Mr. Murray acknowledged the MSS.:—

Mr. Murray to Lord Byron.
September 12th, 1816.
My Lord,

I have rarely addressed you with more pleasure than upon the present occasion. I was thrilled with delight yesterday by the announcement of Mr. Shelley with the MS. of ‘Childe Harold.’ I had no sooner got the quiet possession of it than, trembling with auspicious hope about it, I carried it direct to Mr. Gifford. He has been exceedingly ill with jaundice, and unable to write or do anything. He was much pleased by my attention. I called upon him to-day. He said he was unable to leave off last night, and that he had sat up until he had finished every line of the canto. It had actually agitated him into a fever, and he was much worse when I called. He had persisted this morning in finishing the volume, and he pronounced himself infinitely more delighted than when he first wrote to me. He says that what you have heretofore published is nothing to this effort. He says also, besides its being the most original and interesting, it is the most finished of your writings; and he has undertaken to correct the press for you.

Never, since my intimacy with Mr. Gifford, did I see him so heartily pleased, or give one-fiftieth part of the praise, with one-thousandth part of the warmth. He speaks in ecstasy of the Dream—the whole volume beams with genius. I am sure he loves you in his heart; and when he called upon me some time ago, and I told
him that you were gone, he instantly exclaimed in a full room, “Well! he has not left his equal behind him—that I will say!” Perhaps you will enclose a line for him. . . .

Respecting the ‘Monody,’ I extract from a letter which I received this morning from Sir James Mackintosh: “I presume that I have to thank you for a copy of the ‘Monody’ on Sheridan received this morning. I wish it had been accompanied by the additional favour of mentioning the name of the writer, at which I only guess: it is difficult to read the poem without desiring to know.”

Generally speaking it is not, I think, popular, and spoken of rather for fine passages than as a whole. How could you give so trite an image as in the last two lines? Gifford does not like it; Frere does. A-propos of Mr. Frere: he came to me while at breakfast this morning, and between some stanzas which he was repeating to me of a truly original poem of his own, he said carelessly, “By the way, about half-an-hour ago I was so silly (taking an immense pinch of snuff and priming his nostrils with it) as to get married!” Perfectly true. He set out for Hastings about an hour after he left me, and upon my conscience I verily believe that, if I had had your MS. to have put into his hands, as sure as fate he would have sat with me reading it* all the morning and totally forgotten his little engagement.

I saw Lord Holland to-day looking very well. I wish I could send you Gifford’sBen Jonson’; it is full of fun and interest, and allowed on all hands to be most ably done; would, I am sure, amuse you. I have very many new important and interesting works of all kinds in the press, which I should be happy to know any means of sending. My =Review is improving in sale beyond my most sanguine expectations. I now sell nearly 9000. Even Perry says the Edinburgh Review is going to the devil. I was with Mrs. Leigh to-day, who is very well; she leaves town on Saturday. Her eldest daughter, I fancy, is a most engaging girl; but yours, my Lord, is unspeakably interesting and promising, and I am happy to add that Lady B. is looking well. God bless you! my best wishes and feelings are always with you, and I sincerely wish that

* He had left his wife at the church so as to bring his poem to Murray.

your happiness may be as unbounded as your genius, which has rendered me so much,

My Lord, your obliged Servant,
J. M.

The negotiations for the purchase of the third canto were left in the hands of Mr. Kinnaird, who demurred to Mr. Murray’s first offer of 1500 guineas, whereupon the publisher wrote to Lord Byron.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
September 20th, 1816.
My Lord,

As soon as I had read the third canto of ‘Childe Harold’ myself, I had no hesitation in telling Mr. Kinnaird that I should make my offer fifteen hundred guineas; but he has called to-day to say that two thousand are expected by your friends. I told him that hitherto, I believed that no one had impugned my estimations; and that with regard to yourself I had no other feeling than a desire to give all that was possible, and on the present occasion I thought I had anticipated any notions, and that I suspected the demand to be based rather on my own data than on any independent estimate. The poem, however, is so much beyond anything in modern days that I may be out in my calculation: it requires an ethereal mind, like its author’s, to cope with it. He was so obliging as to ask for the additional £500 eventually; but I have preferred to settle it at once at the £2000—and now the Lord (not you) have mercy upon me! Remember I do stipulate for all the original MSS., copies or scraps.

I am thinking more seriously than ever of publishing a monthly literary journal and am promised the contributions of the greatest characters here. If I succeed, I will venture to solicit the favour of your powerful assistance in the shape of letters, essays, characters, facts, travels, epigrams, and other—to you—small shot, and to entreat the favour of your influence among your friends.

I remain, my Lord, your faithful Servant,
John Murray.

In his reply Lord Byron consented to receive the extra £500 conditionally on the sale of a certain number of copies to be fixed by the publisher.

After the departure of Lord Byron from England Mr. Murray had much correspondence respecting him, more particularly with the Hon. Augusta Leigh, his sister; Lady Byron, and Lady Caroline Lamb.

Mrs. Leigh to John Murray.
Six Mile Bottom, Newmarket.

Pray have the goodness to give me a line, when you can spare one moment, to say whether you or anybody else of your acquaintance has heard from my brother since I saw you, because I have not, and his silence of five weeks being unusual, I am somewhat anxious. I shall be much obliged to you for a book which I see advertised, the ‘Journal of the Duchesse d’Angoulême.’ It sounds interesting, and Col. Leigh has a great wish to read it, or I could wait until I return to town. If you can tell me any remarks upon the Reviews, you know they can’t fail to be interesting.

Yours very sincerely,
Augusta Leigh.

P.S.—The post has brought me a letter from Byron—quite well; also one from Mr. Davies; so I need not trouble you with those queries. My brother writes to me about some trouble with one of his servants, Fletcher, and I believe it a matter of great difficulty.

December, 1816.

I return you the letter, which I have shown this morning to Mr. D[avies], who is going to town to-morrow, and will call upon you and talk over the subject. He seems to treat it as you do, and as I am much inclined to do, except when I think about what I’ve heard is said or thought, and really for my brother’s sake, as well as my own and that of all belonging to me, it afflicts me; at the same time that I know not how to act. I trust to you and Mr. D. to discuss the point, and if any new thought should strike
me, I will write to you again. Of course I suppose the 5000 printed must be circulated, and if the lines were omitted in the others, it might be asked—Why?* I am in a terrible state of unhappiness, which I’m sure will not surprise you. Anxious to do the best by all, and I assure you you are included, for I am truly grateful for your kind considerateness, and

Ever very truly yours,
A. L.

P.S.—I must tell you that the remark made to my friend was from one who is a most enthusiastic admirer of my brother. I should less have minded it from one in any degree prepossessed against him. Pray tell Mr. D. this; I omitted it.

Mr. Murray wrote to Lord Byron on the 13th of December, 1816, informing him that, at a dinner at the Albion Tavern, he had sold to the assembled booksellers 7000 of his third canto of ‘Childe Harold’ and 7000 of his ‘Prisoner of Chillon.’ He then proceeds:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.

In literary affairs I have taken the field in great force—opening with the Third Canto, ‘Chillon,’ and, following up my blow, I have since published ‘Tales of my Landlord,’ another novel, I believe (but I really don’t know) by the author of ‘Waverley’; but much superior to what has already appeared, excepting the character of Meg Merrilies. Every one is in ecstasy about it, and I would give a finger if I could send it you, but this I will contrive. Conversations with your friend Buonaparte at St. Helena, amusing, but scarce worth sending. Lord Holland has just put forth a very improved edition of the ‘Life of Lope de Vega and Inez de Castro.’ Gifford’sBen Jonson’ has put to death all former editions, and is very much liked. The ‘Faro-Table’ of Tobin has

* This must have related to the third canto of ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,’ in which many stanzas were inserted which Mrs. Leigh thought might give pain to Lady Byron.

been acted and successfully, but it is very paltry—principally made up from the ‘
School for Scandal.’ Mr. Leigh’s (M.P.) account of his Travels contains a very remarkable and well-told incident, which would amuse you. We have letters coming out from Hume, Chesterfield, and Franklin. Moore’s poem is to be in the press in February, so the author tells me. I have a poem, or rather one is coming to me by an obscure author in Paris, which I am assured contains some very powerful passages; this Mr. Gifford allows. Mr. K[innaird] has been ejected from Drury Lane, to his no small annoyance; this comes of quarrelling with a woman!

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.

* The bones picked up on the battlefield of Morat, and now in Mr. Murray’s possession. (See ‘Childe Harold,’ Canto III., St. lxiii., note.)


The following letter from Mr. Sharon Turner to Mr. Murray, relates to the assignment of the copyright of both poems:—

Mr. Turner to John Murray.
Dear Murray,

I called to-day hoping to have the pleasure of seeing you, and to ask you how it is intended that the assignment of Lord Byron shall be executed. It must be either sent to him to be signed, or the power of attorney must be sent out to him to authorize some person here to sign for him. In either case, it will be necessary that the instrument should be witnessed by some English gentleman who resides usually in England, in case his evidence should ever be wanted. . . .

I thank you for Chateaubriand. He has many good things, and some bad ones. In talking of the Divinity of Monarchy he hurts it, and provokes sneers. The safe and solid ground of Royalty is its utility. While this continues, there is no fear for it. Utility is the principle that will make the subject attached to it, and the Monarch deserve the attachment. On Religion he says much that is very good; but unfortunately he means by it, not that sort of intelligent religion which a nation so enlightened as the French require, and can only be affected by; but merely the old Papal System just as it was, and as no one now respects. He is like a man who should try to force you to take revolting physic, swearing at the same time that it is delicious food. But yet, with all its faults, I should think it is a book that would do good to the French mind by presenting some things to it that are well worth its consideration and discussion. I am sorry it has been suppressed. It should have been circulated, and answered where it is open to objection. The discussion would have done benefit to France. The French mind wants the ventilation of free and temperate discussion. But there can be no judgment and no political wisdom unless both sides of a question are raised and deliberated upon. It is narrow conduct and unsound policy to preclude temperate discussion. How little has it hurt, and how much has it improved, happy England—England still happy though
distressed—only temporarily distressed I believe. With every good wish,

Believe me, dear Murray, very sincerely,
Shn. Turner.*

The result of Mr. Turner’s advice was, that Lord Byron granted a power of attorney to the Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, his banker, who had been associated with him in the Drury Lane management, and Mr. Kinnaird thenceforward arranged with Mr. Murray for the copyrights of Lord Byron’s works.

At Mr. Murray’s earnest request, Scott had consented to review the third Canto of ‘Childe Harold’ in the Quarterly. In forwarding the MS. he wrote as follows:—

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Edinburgh, January 10th, 18I7.
My dear Sir,

I have this day sent under Croker’s cover a review of Lord Byron’s last poems. You know how high I hold his poetical reputation, but besides, one is naturally forced upon so many points of delicate consideration, that really I have begun and left off several times, and after all send the article to you with full power to cancel it if you think any part of it has the least chance of hurting his feelings. You know him better than I do, and you also know the

* The writer of this acute letter had long been one of Mr. Murray’s most intimate friends. During his anxious and busy life as a solicitor, he found time to collect materials for his ‘History of the Anglo-Saxons,’ the first volume of which was published in 1799, and the third and last, in 1805. He was the first English author who took pains to investigate the valuable information left us in the Anglo-Saxon records. The result was a work of great value, though since superseded by more elaborate histories. He afterwards published his ‘History of the Norman Conquest to the Year 1509.’ The first volume was published in 1814, the second in 1815, and the third and last in 1823. He was the author of other works, and a contributor to the Quarterly almost from the beginning.

public, and are aware that to make any successful impression on them the critic must appear to speak with perfect freedom. I trust I have not abused this discretion. I am sure I have not meant to do so, and yet during Lord Byron’s absence, and under the present circumstances, I should feel more grieved than at anything that ever befell me if there should have slipped from my pen anything capable of giving him pain.

There are some things in the critique which are necessarily and unavoidably personal, and sure I am if he attends to it, which is unlikely, he will find advantage from doing so. I wish Mr. Gifford and you would consider every word carefully. If you think the general tenor is likely to make any impression on him, if you think it likely to hurt him either in his feelings or with the public, in God’s name fling the sheets in the fire and let them be as not written. But if it appears, I should wish him to get an early copy, and that you would at the same time say I am the author, at your importunity. No one can honour Lord Byron’s genius more than I do, and no one had so great a wish to love him personally, though personally we had not the means of becoming very intimate. In his family distress (deeply to be deprecated, and in which probably he can yet be excused) I still looked to some moment of reflection when bad advisers (and, except you were one, I have heard of few whom I should call good) were distant from the side of one who is so much the child of feeling and emotion. An opportunity was once afforded me of interfering, but things appeared to me to have gone too far; yet, even after all, I wish I had tried it, for Lord Byron always seemed to give me credit for wishing him sincerely well, and knew me to be superior to what Commodore Trunnion would call “the trash of literary envy and petty rivalry.”

I got your letter in the country, but was able to do nothing till I came to town, both because I was occupied all day in my agricultural improvements, and on account of certain curious cramps in the stomach which occupied three nights very ungraciously, and threatened to send me out of this excellent world upon very short warning.

I have pressed Erskine to undertake the novel* with all

* There is no clue to the work here referred to.

the arguments I can use, and trust I shall succeed, as I have offered him all the accumulated lore which I am possessed of to facilitate his labour. I find
James Ballantyne has already spoken to him on the subject. I only returned from Abbotsford last Saturday very unwell, but am now as stout as a lion.

Yours faithfully,
Walter Scott.

Lord Byron’s opinion of the article forms so necessary a complement to Walter Scott’s sympathetic criticism of the man and the poet, that we make no excuse for reproducing it, as conveyed in a letter to Mr. Murray (March 3rd, 1817).

“In acknowledging the arrival of the article from the Quarterly, which I received two days ago, I cannot express myself better than in the words of my sister Augusta, who (speaking of it) says, that it is written in a spirit ‘of the most feeling and kind nature.’

“It is, however, something more. It seems to me (as far as the subject of it may be permitted to judge) to be very well written as a composition, and I think will do the journal no discredit, because even those who condemn its partiality, must praise its generosity. The temptations to take another and a less favourable view of the question have been so great and numerous, that, what with public opinion, politics, &c., he must be a gallant as well as a good man who has ventured in that place, and at this time, to write such an article, even anonymously. Such things, however, are their own reward; and I even flatter myself that the writer, whoever he may be (and I have no guess), will not regret that the perusal of this has given me as much gratification as any composition of that nature could give, and more than any has given—and I have had a good many in my time of one kind or the other. It is not the mere praise, but there is a tact and a delicacy throughout, not only with regard to me but to others, which, as it had not been observed elsewhere, I had till now doubted whether it could be observed anywhere.”


“When I tell you,” he wrote to Moore a week later, “that Walter Scott is the author of the article in the Quarterly, you will agree with me that such an article is still more honourable to him than to myself.”

We conclude this episode with the following letter from Scott:—

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Edinburgh, January 22nd, 1817.
My dear Sir,

I received both your letters and all the enclosures, together with your note, which is more than the service required by one half. When I can assist you I am always happy to do it, but it is only particular subjects on which I can be really useful, so that I have neither right nor wish to be considered as above a common labourer in the trenches.

I am truly happy Lord Byron’s article meets your ideas of what may make some impression on his mind. In genius, poetry has seldom had his equal, and if he has acted very wrong in some respects, he has been no worse than half the men of his rank in London who have done the same, and are not spoken of because not worth being railed against.

I am in the midst of plans and elevations for enlarging my cottage, which needed it, as you cannot but remember.

Yours truly,
W. S.

Lady Byron also wrote about the article:—

Lady Byron to John Murray.
7, Green Street, February 16th, 1817.

I leave London to-morrow, and should be obliged to you if you would let me have Dugald Stewart’s Dissertation prefixed to the ‘Encyclopædia’ to read on my journey. My father also wishes to have Franklin’sLetters’ and Spence’sAnecdotes.’ May I trouble you to send them to me before nine to-morrow morning. I am inclined to
ask a question, which I hope you will not decline answering, if not contrary to your engagements. Who is the author of the
review of ‘Childe Harold’ in the Quarterly?

Your faithful Servant,
A. I. Byron.

Among other ladies who wrote on the subject of Lord Byron’s works was Lady Caroline Lamb, who had caricatured him (as he supposed) in her ‘Glenarvon.’ Her letter is dated Welwyn, franked by William Lamb:—

Lady Caroline Lamb to John Murray.
November 5th, 1816.

You cannot need my assuring you that if you will entrust me with the new poems, none of the things you fear shall occur, in proof of which I ask you to enquire with yourself, whether, if a person in constant correspondence and friendship with another, yet keeps a perfect silence on one subject, she cannot do so when at enmity and at a distance. Now, I never boasted of seeing the poems first, never even told my mother I had done so, never ventured an opinion concerning them but to you, and only once I remember, when Lord Byron said he had sent them to me (which I believe was not true), did I ever speak to him of them. In short, I have so little vanity about seeing things before others, that, if it were not some curiosity and lurking interest for the Childe’s works, you might not be requested so earnestly to send them; and, as it is, take your own way—I shall not murmur. How very well written and interesting Gifford’sLife’ is! How free from all affectation, and how very just his few observations! I only wish he had written more. William Lamb writes more in that style than any one. I see another ‘Life’ is coming out of Sheridan. Believe me therefore sincerely thankful for what I am going to receive—as the young lady said to a duchess when she was desired by her parents to say “Grace.”

C. L.

This letter, to which no reply seems to have been sent, is followed by another, in which her ladyship says:—

Lady Caroline Lamb to John Murray.

“I wish to ask you one question: are you offended with me or my letter? If so, I am sorry, but depend upon it if after seven years’ acquaintance you choose to cut off what you ever termed your left hand, I have too much gratitude towards you to allow of it. Accept therefore every apology for every supposed fault. I always write eagerly and in haste. I never read over what I have written. If therefore I said anything I ought not, pardon it—it was not intended; and let me entreat you to remember a maxim I have found very useful to me, that there is nothing in this life worth quarrelling about, and that half the people we are offended with never intended to give us cause.

“Thank you for Holcroft’sLife,’ which is extremely curious and interesting. I think you will relent and send me ‘Childe Harold’ before any one has it—this is the first time you have not done so—and the Quarterly Review; and pray also any other book that is curious, or, at all events, tell me of it, as we have much time and I like your judgment. How I detest Mr. Frere—will you tell me why? I send you a book; pray read it—‘Lady Calantha Limb.’ The authoress, actuated by a holy zeal, says in her preface that she is resolved to turn me into ridicule. She chooses an easy task—too easy, I fear—yet fails, and makes a most blundering business. Wit’s razor’s edge she has not, but a most unkind tongue to make up for it. I know that ‘Timon’ succeeds, and I am delighted, as it contains, I think, more beauties than any play. I am sorry Phrynia and Timandra do not appear. Mrs. Mardyn and Mrs. Osgood would have looked beautiful, and, without letting them speak those very pretty lines addressed to them, might have been inserted. Mrs. Wilmot* looks ill—like a fine ruin on which the setting sun is shining. I believe they never will forget your friendly and kind behaviour to them. Miss Wilmot spoke of you to me yesterday in a manner that could not fail to please you.

“My little chestnut horse is as well as ever. They say

* Afterwards Lady Dacre, her tragedy of ‘Ina’ was published by Mr. Murray.

a black mare of mine (not the one I ride, but a beautiful one) has broken its back. This is all the news I have, except that the
Morning Chronicle disgusts me, and that I wish a little enthusiasm for victories and commanders were allowed. I quite pine to see the Quarterly Review and ‘Childe Harold.’ Have mercy and send them, or I shall gallop to town to see you. Is 450 guineas too dear for a new barouche? If you know this let me know, as we of the country know nothing.

“Yours sincerely,
C. L.
Lady Caroline Lamb to John Murray.

There was a time when you had not let so many days pass without asking me for a letter of Lord Byron’s: indeed the absent and the present—the right hand and left—are both alike forgotten. I must tell you of my adventures to-night. I set out stark mad in white satin, as Tilburina did, to see Don Juan seized by the Italian; and scarce was my dear fatal name pronounced, “Lady Caroline Lamb,” when some jocose footman said, “Sooner Lady Caroline Wolf.” At this too just criticism several warm defenders sallied forth amongst the same precious herd; whilst they were all fighting, I was very soon kidnapped by two rack-chairmen, who insisted on carrying me each into his respective chair, I being all the time vainly desirous of getting in and not out of the Opera House. It so chanced that I was very fine, having dined out in diamonds and feathers. When I therefore got safe up with a crowd of plumed attendants, my unfortunate dog, that long-cared-for dog, covered with mud like Lord Something’s rat, appeared entering the vestibule. At this sight soldiers and servants shouted forth “A fox!” and began hissing it down. Judge of my situation. I was either obliged to give up this dear shabby cur, who had followed my carriage and me, or own a friend in such disguise that few had dared do so. The latter was however my choice, and being much too frightened and late, after all these adventures, I turned back to find my carriage almost carried away by Irish boys and drunken chairmen, one of whom, to the indignation of the rest, constantly vociferated, “This is my lady.”—“Your lady, d——n you.”—“Yes, my lady,”—and sure
enough he, like the dog, proved a mendicant pensioner, when a blaze of light showed him to me like the ghost. Now, fare thee well; excuse all this nonsense. Go to the play on Friday. Come round and see me, or come with me the first night our opera box is vacant, which it never has been yet. But I shall not fail to let you know.

The Apostate.

In strong contrast with these effusions is the following letter from Mrs. Graham:—

Mrs. Graham to John Murray.
March, 1817.

A thousand thanks, my dear sir, for the loan of the Journal, which I have perused with the greatest interest.* A more superstitious age would certainly have believed him possessed of the art magic, so completely does he continue to force attention and sympathy wherever he pleases. He says, “I have lately repeopled my mind with Nature.” Oh why, when so alive to the charms of outward nature, will he not open his mind to the beauty which swells around us and within us, and need only to be desired to be manifest in brighter glory than ever adorned the fresh rising of the sun from the Eastern ocean. Why shut his heart to the tide of gentle affection, where, more clearly than on the waters of his favourite lake, the face of heaven is reflected. Then he provokes me with fancying himself hated. Good God! did he know how many have with breathless interest watched his steps, grieved for him, praised him, and where they could not, turned aside their eyes like the patriarch’s pious son, that they might not look upon his frailties, he would never return all this with misanthropy. Oh no, he would learn that many are all, nay more than all, they seem. But I always forget myself when I think of our greatest genius. Therefore I will hasten to thank you for the two dramas. The French one amuses me, the other does so for a different reason. A glorious triumph to the Laureate!

Yours very truly,
Maria Graham.

* Byron’s ‘Swiss Journal,’ published in Moore’s ‘Life.’


In sending home the MS. of the first act of ‘Manfred,’ Lord Byron wrote, giving but unsatisfactory accounts of his own health. Mr. Murray replied:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
March 20th, 1817.
My Lord,

I have to acknowledge your kind letter, dated the 3rd, received this hour; but I am sorry to say that it has occasioned me great anxiety about your health. You are not wont to cry before you are hurt; and I am apprehensive that you are worse even than you allow. Pray keep quiet and take care of yourself. My Review shows you that you are worth preserving and that the world yet loves you. If you become seriously worse, I entreat you to let me know it, and I will fly to you with a physician; an Italian one is only a preparation for the anatomist. I will not tell your sister of this, if you will tell me true. I had hopes that this letter would have confirmed my expectations of your speedy return, which has been stated by Mr. Kinnaird, and repeated to me by Mr. Davies, whom I saw yesterday, and who promises to write. We often indulge our recollections of you, and he allows me to believe that I am one of the few who really know you.

Gifford gave me yesterday the first act of ‘Manfred,’ with a delighted countenance, telling me it was wonderfully poetical, and desiring me to assure you that it well merits publication. I shall send proofs to you with his remarks, if he have any; it is a wild and delightful thing, and I like it myself hugely.

I had a letter from Mrs. Leigh yesterday, enclosing one for your Lordship. Mrs. Leigh promises me a visit by the end of the month. The public very generally accord with your opinion of the critique in the Quarterly, and it has actually, as your friend Heber said, produced a sensation. It is equally honourable to Scott’s head and heart, and I rejoice much in my sagacity in soliciting him to write it. Gifford said to me, “Lord Byron is much obliged to you.” Scott was much satisfied with it himself, and still more by the praise which has followed it; and this will be raised and confirmed by your approbation which, in substance, I
shall venture to communicate. The article is likely to have proved the more efficacious from the good fortune of its having appeared in perhaps our very best number, of which I have sold already almost 10,000 copies. Of the next number I am printing 12,000; the sale is not exceeded by the
Edinburgh Review. The article in that journal, which I also sent you, is very good and satisfactory; but ours is peculiar, and therefore the more attractive.

Mr. Gifford, who is at my elbow, and to whom I have just read your letter—at least that part of it referring to the Review and to the Procession—desires me to present his sincere regards to you, and to assure you how much he joins in my anxieties and regrets at your Lordship’s illness. However, I flatter myself with hoping that your next will tell us it has very materially abated.

I have just received, in a way perfectly unaccountable, a MS. from St. Helena—with not a word. I suppose it to be originally written by Buonaparte or his agents.—It is very curious his life, in which each event is given in almost a word—a battle described in a short sentence. I call it therefore simply Manuscrit venu de Ste. Hélène d’une manière inconnue.* Lord Holland has a motion on our treatment of Buonaparte at St. Helena for Wednesday next; and on Monday I shall publish. You will have seen Buonaparte’s Memorial on this subject, complaining bitterly of all; pungent but very injudicious, as it must offend all the other allied powers to be reminded of their former prostration.

I long to be admitted to a sight of the Miniature—how many have I seen? Wedderburn Webster is again at work; he is composing a pamphlet on the subject of the recent suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act.

April 12th, 1817.

Our friend Southey has got into a confounded scrape. Some twenty years ago, when he knew no better and was a

* This work attracted a considerable amount of attention in London, but more especially in Paris, as purporting to be a chapter of autobiography by Napoleon, then a prisoner in St. Helena. It was in all probability the work of some of the deposed Emperor’s friends and adherents in Paris, issued for the purpose of keeping his name prominently before the world.

Republican, he wrote a certain drama, entitled, ‘
Wat Tyler,’ in order to disseminate wholesome doctrine amongst the lower orders. This he presented to a friend, with a fraternal embrace, who was at that time enjoying the cool reflection generated by his residence in Newgate. This friend, however, either thinking its publication might prolong his durance, or fancying that it would not become profitable as a speculation, quietly put it into his pocket; and now that the author has most manfully laid about him, slaying Whigs and Republicans by the million, this cursed friend publishes; but what is yet worse, the author, upon sueing for an injunction, to proceed in which he is obliged to swear that he is the author, is informed by the Chancellor that it is seditious—and that for sedition there is no copyright. I will inclose either now or in my next a second copy, for as there is no copyright, everyone has printed it, which will amuse you.

A severe attack of low fever, compelled Lord Byron to break away from Venice and his companions there, in the spring of 1817. His first halting-place on the way to Rome was Ferrara, where he visited the Court in which, according to Gibbon, Hugo and Parisina were beheaded, and the Cell of Tasso, which elicited from him the “The Lament of Tasso,” forwarded to Mr. Murray a few days later from Florence.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
May 13th, 1817.
My Lord,

Your favour of the 23rd arrived yesterday, and I instantly sent the lines upon Tasso to Mr. Gifford, who called with them soon afterwards, and assured me that they were exceedingly good, and that there was besides a difference in the style, which would, by being novel, prove additionally interesting. Moore’s Poem is to appear on the 22nd inst., and I will try to send it. Mr. Sheil, the author of ‘Adelaide,’ has had most extraordinary success on the stage with his tragedy, called ‘The Apostate,’ merely from forming a
series of interesting situations. I read it with Mr. Gifford in MS., and we both thought it impossible that it could succeed. I went, fully convinced that it would be damned; but nothing could exceed the applause which it drew throughout. It had the advantage of giving four exceedingly appropriate characters to
C. Kemble, Macready, Young, and Miss O’Neil; neither of whom ever had an opportunity of acting better. Its success has been complete, and it must be acted as long as four good actors can be brought together.

The attractions of Venice proved too strong for Lord Byron; by the end of May he was there again, but not before his brief visit to Rome had inspired him to undertake the fourth canto of ‘Childe Harold.’ The summer was employed “in working up his impressions,” and on July 15th and 20th he wrote to Mr. Murray that the canto was completed, and only required to be “copied and polished,” but at the same time he began to “barter” for the price of the canto, so completely had his old scruples on this score disappeared. Mr. Murray acknowledged the two letters as follows:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.
August 5th, 1817.
My Lord,

This day has brought me your letter of the 15th of July, adding another to the many instances of your truly kind indulgences to my unpardonable indolence. I am very sorry indeed to find that there is so little chance of seeing you soon in England, and I fancy you will suffer equal grief when you learn that next year you will certainly have a visit from me. In the meantime, I will endeavour to send a regular journal of news, literary and domestic. I perceive, by your reckoning by stanzas, that you are within fourteen stanzas of completing your opus magnum, for such I think it is your determination to make ‘Childe Harold.’ The first stanza Mr. Gifford thinks very highly of, as does Mr. Frere, and many more
to whom I have ventured to show it. You need not be assured how much I am rejoiced at the prospect of again opening my literary campaign under such brilliant auspices.

By the way, Polidori has sent me his tragedy! Do me the kindness to send by return of post a delicate declension of it, which I engage faithfully to-copy. I am truly sorry that he will employ himself in a way so ill- suited to his genius; for he is not without literary talents.*

I sent you copies of ‘Manfred’ and of ‘Tasso,’ which are, I trust, printed correctly. They are both, but particularly the former, greatly admired by the best critics; but they soar above the Million. Mr. Frere, I think I told you, says that it and the third canto place you in a higher class of poets—that is the very highest. Amongst the books I intruded upon Mr. Kinnaird was ‘Coleridge’s Life and Opinions,’ which will I think interest you. You will pardon the occasional obscurities and, I fear, absurdities, for its power in most parts. I think you will like my ‘MSS. de St. Helene.’ Talma said, when he read it, that he conversed with Buonaparte. I sent him one splendidly bound, and he wrote me a letter expressing his delight at what reminded him of past glory.

You will have heard, not without regret, of the premature death of Madame de Staël, who, with all her faults, was an excellent person. I think she had a good heart; and I know that she was very kind to me.

She confessed her marriage, and acknowledged a child, a son, born when she was forty-nine.

Mr. Scrope Davies often does me the favour to call, and we discuss your letters and poetry. I saw Mrs. Leigh three days ago, in some trouble at the entrance of the whooping cough into her family, but otherwise well. Mr. Moore, I believe I told you, is gone to Paris with Mr. Rogers, who dedicates all his time to him. Whilst Mr. Kinnaird is with you, I trust you will do me the favour to confide any commissions—particularly of cutting off Mr. Hanson’s head—heart or bowels he hath not—and anything else. Your Armenian friends have this moment presented themselves with your letter. I will take all their grammars and do all otherwise to serve and assist them.

* Lord Byron at once acceded to this request by writing the well-known verses commencing—“Dear Doctor, I have read your play.”

I will recommend them to
Sir John Malcolm, at Madras. I am very sorry they miss the value of Mr. Kinnaird’s more powerful aid.

August 15th, 1817.

“By this time Mr. Kinnaird has, I hope, reached you in safety, and presented all my packets of poetry and tooth powder; and hereafter I hope to receive your comments on the one portion, and your thanks for the other. You will readily believe how much I am delighted to learn that the fourth canto of ‘Childe Harold’ is completed, and if you please to accept the exchange, I shall readily present fifteen hundred guineas for the copyright; but I entreat you to let me have the original MS.

“I have a letter from Mr. Whishaw, dated Paris, August 10th, in which he begs me to contradict the report of Madame de Staël having become Catholic, which he assures me, from good authority, was not the case.”

In order to save time, some corrections in the proofs of ‘Manfred’ made by Mr. Gifford, were, as on many previous occasions, adopted without consulting Lord Byron. This proceeding in the present instance irritated him, and drew down some severe censures on Murray, who replied:

John Murray to Lord Byron.
September 9th, 1817.

Mr. Gifford, after consulting me, omitted your close of the drama from no other motive than because he thought that the words you allude to lessened the effect; and I was convinced of this myself, and the omission to send a copy to you earlier was merely that, having no direct opportunity, it did not before occur to me to send it by post; and, upon my honour, the alteration was so trivial in my mind that I forgot the importance which it might have in the eye of an author. I have written up this day to have the page cancelled and your reading restored. In future I propose to send you every proof by post, with any suggestions of Mr. G. upon them for your approbation. The slight errors of the press which you point out in the fifth volume have been corrected against a new edition. I
assure you that I take no umbrage at irritability which will occasionally burst from a mind like yours; but I sometimes feel a deep regret that in our pretty long intercourse I appear to have failed to show that a man in my situation may possess the feelings and principles of a gentleman; most certainly I do think that, from personal attachment, I could venture as much in any shape for your service as any of those who have the good fortune to be ranked amongst your friends.

How I have omitted to tell you what I have heard of ‘Manfred,’ I cannot conceive, but so it appears to be. All the higher critics, such as Frere, are in ecstasy with it, averring that it places you far above all your former efforts; but it is not so popular with the general reader, because they go through it at once, expecting to find their pleasure in the intricacy and interest of the plot, and being therein disappointed, they do not recur to the beauties which they had hastily passed over; to conclude, it is less popular, but more praised. Mr. Crabbe did not think ‘Tasso’ equal to yourself; but, he added, who could have written it but Lord Byron?

By the way, I asked Gifford and some others how Scott would like to be called the Scottish Ariosto, and no one can tell why you should call him so, except, perhaps, on account of his adopting the same measure.

Mr. Hobhouse spent a considerable part of the year 1817 travelling about in Italy, whither he had gone principally to see Lord Byron. He wrote to Mr. Murray:—

Mr. Hobhouse to John Murray.
Venice, December 7th, 1817.

As I find you have been good enough to remember me in sundry letters to these parts of the world, and as it may be possible that my repeated acknowledgments may have been, in the press of matter, put off, like Dr. Drowsy’s sermons, to a better opportunity, I have discovered at last an excuse for writing to you, without having anything to tell which can interest you, or to be of any other service than the disburdening of my conscience by duly registering the above thanks for your attentions. I verily believe
this place to be the dullest in Christendom, and yet, from congenial qualities perhaps, I have been here and about here since last August. The Italian is at no time the gayest of his species or the most approachable, and although the Venetians, time out of mind, have been the fondest of strangers of any of their fellow Cis-alpines, yet their present disasters and the weight of German depression (for it is not oppression) have made them as little inviting in all senses of the word as can easily be imagined. I should not presume to say this much if I did more than copy their own confessions. As for the Austrians, they are amiable nowhere but at Vienna. Their inaptitude for these latitudes is beyond all expression or belief. Doubtless Lord B. told you of the order of the Aulic Council for the Archbishop of Aquileia to go to St. Mark’s in a coach and six; as if the Lord Mayor were ordered to go to St. James’s Palace in a gondola. The other day they sank a considerable sum in sinking for a well in one of the artificial islands here. ’Twas in vain that the Venetians assured them that springs never had been, were, or would be found in soil made out of basketfuls of earth thrown upon stakes and pebbles. They delved and dived, and were not to be persuaded by the salt water spirting in their faces at every blow. I don’t know that they have abandoned their researches even now. They bought the great Cornaro palace here the other year for 100,000 francs—about one-tenth of the value—the architecture of
Sansovino, and one of the chief ornaments of the Great Canal. They put a German commissioner and a German stove into their new purchase, and between one and the other burnt it down.

If any one writes a book of travels without telling the truth about the masters and the subjects in this most unfortunate country, he deserves more than damnation and a dull sale, and I trust you will take care he has a niche—forgive the word—in your temple of infamy, the Quarterly. I heard that Champion Scott* was collecting five hundred pounds worth of news for Longman in these parts. If

* This was John Scott, author of ‘Sketches of Manners, Scenery, &c, in the French Provinces, Switzerland, and Italy,’ afterwards killed in a duel in consequence of a quarrel arising out of some articles in Blackwood’s Magazine.

any but a gentleman and a scholar, and an accomplished man in every way, presumes to hazard such an undertaking, “be ready,”
Mr. Murray, “with all your thunderbolts: dash him to pieces!”

I saw this the moment I crossed the Alps, and, in spite of bad and inveterate habit, shut my journal at once. There is a wide field of glory open for any and for all answering the above description; but it would perhaps be almost impossible to find the requisite variety of acquirement and talent in one individual. The work should be done, like a cyclopede dictionary, by departments. I don’t mean North and South, East and West, though that is no bad plan, but by subjects—literature, antiquities, manners, politics, &c. We have nothing, really nothing, except Mr. Forsyth’s sketch, which, so far as it goes, is a most extraordinary performance. I have tried it by the best test—that is, by putting it into the hands of one or two Italians, who owned, with a sigh, indeed, the unhappy resemblance.

A word or two on my own movements, because they interest you. I shall set out with your ‘Childe’ in about three weeks, from Venice, and shall proceed as fast as bad roads and surly postillions will allow, to Milan, Turin. Lyons, Paris, Calais, according to the post book, to London.

Your new acquisition is a very fine finish to the three cantos already published, and, if I may trust to a taste vitiated—I say it without affectation—by an exclusive attention and attachment to that school of ancient and obsolete poetry of which your friend Mr. Gifford furnished us with the last specimen in his ‘Baviad,” it is the best of all his lordship’s productions. The world will not, to be sure, find that freshness and novelty which is to be discovered only at the opening of a mine. The metal, whatever may be its quantity or quality, must in some degree cease to surprise and delight as it continues to be worked, and nothing more can be hoped than that it should not become less valuable by being more plentiful. In spite of similes, however, it is possible that all other readers may agree with my simple self in liking this fourth canto better than anything Lord B. has ever written. I must confess I feel an affection for it more than ordinary, as part of it was begot, as it were, under my own eyes; for some of the stanzas owe their birth to our morning
walk or evening ride at La Mara. I shall conclude with telling you about Lord B.’s bust. It is a masterpiece by
Thorwaldsen* who is thought by most judges to surpass Canova in this branch of sculpture. The likeness is perfect: the artist worked con amore, and told me it was the finest head he had ever under his hand. I would have had a wreath round the brows, but the poet was afraid of being mistaken for a king or a conqueror, and his pride or modesty made him forbid the band. However, when the marble comes to England I shall place a golden laurel round it in the ancient style, and, if it is thought good enough, suffix the following inscription, which may serve at least to tell the name of the portrait and allude to the excellence of the artist, which very few lapidary inscriptions do:—
“In vain would flattery steal a wreath from fame,
And Rome’s best sculptor only half succeed,
If England owned no share in Byron’s name
Nor hailed the laurel she before decreed.”
Of course you are very welcome to a copy—I don’t mean of the verses, but of the bust. But, with the exception of
Mr. Kinnaird, who has applied, and Mr. Davies, who may apply, no other will be granted. Farewell, dear Sir.

Ever yours truly obliged,
John C. Hobhouse.

The fourth canto duly reached London in Mr. Hobhouse’s portmanteau, and was published in the spring of 1818.

* The bust was made for Mr. Hobhouse, at his expense. Lord Byron said, “I would not pay the price of a Thorwaldsen bust for any head and shoulders, except Napoleon’s, or my children’s, or some ‘absurd womankind’s,’ as Monkbarns calls them, or my sister’s.”