LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to William Bankes, 6 March 1807

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Southwell, March 6, 1807.

“Your critique is valuable for many reasons: in the first place, it is the only one in which flattery has borne so slight a part; in the next, I am cloyed with insipid compliments. I have a better opinion of your

* Of this “Mary,” who is not to be confounded either with the heiress of Annesley, or “Mary” of Aberdeen, all I can record is, that she was of an humble, if not equivocal, station in life,—that she had long, light golden hair, of which he used to show a lock, as well as her picture, among his friends; and that the verses in his “Hours of Idleness,” entitled “To Mary, on receiving her Picture,” were addressed to her.

A. D. 1807. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 85
judgment and ability than your feelings. Accept my most sincere thanks for your kind decision, not less welcome, because totally unexpected. With regard to a more exact estimate, I need not remind you how few of the best poems, in our language, will stand the test of minute or verbal criticism: it can therefore hardly be expected the effusions of a boy (and most of these pieces have been produced at an early period) can derive much merit either from the subject or composition. Many of them were written under great depression of spirits, and during severe indisposition;—hence the gloomy turn of the ideas. We coincide in opinion that the ‘poesies érotiques’ are the most exceptionable; they were, however, grateful to the deities, on whose altars they were offered—more I seek not.

“The portrait of Pomposus was drawn at Harrow, after a long sitting; this accounts for the resemblance, or rather the caricatura. He is your friend, he never was mine—for both our sakes I shall be silent on this head. The collegiate rhymes are not personal—one of the notes may appear so, but could not be omitted. I have little doubt they will be deservedly abused—a just punishment for my unfilial treatment of so excellent an Alma Mater. I sent you no copy, lest we should be placed in the situation of Gil Blas and the Archbishop of Grenada: though running some hazard from the experiment, I wished your verdict to be unbiassed. Had my ‘Libellus’ been presented previous to your letter, it would have appeared a species of bribe to purchase compliment. I feel no hesitation in saying, I was more anxious to hear your critique however severe, than the praises of the million. On the same day I was honoured with the encomiums of Mackenzie, the celebrated author of the ‘Man of Feeling.’ Whether his approbation or yours elated me most, I cannot decide.

“You will receive my Juvenilia,—at least all yet published. I have a large volume in manuscript, which may in part appear hereafter; at present I have neither time nor inclination to prepare it for the press. In the spring I shall return to Trinity, to dismantle my rooms, and bid you a final adieu. The Cam will not be much increased by my tears on the occasion. Your further remarks, however caustic or bitter to a palate
86 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1807.
vitiated with the sweets of adulation, will be of service.
Johnson has shown us that no poetry is perfect; but to correct mine would be an Herculean labour. In fact I never looked beyond the moment of composition, and published merely at the request of my friends. Notwithstanding so much has been said concerning the ‘Genus irritabile vatum,’ we shall never quarrel on the subject—poetic fame is by no means the ‘acme’ of my wishes. Adieu.

“Yours ever,