LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to R. C. Dallas, 7 September 1811

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
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“Newstead Abbey. September 7th, 1811.

“As Gifford has been ever my ‘Magnus Apollo,’ any approbation, such as you mention, would, of course, be more welcome than ‘all Bokara’s
A. D. 1811. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 293
vaunted gold, than all the gems of Samarkand.’ But I am sorry the MS. was shown to him in such a manner, and I had written to
Murray to say as much, before I was aware that it was too late.

“Your objection to the expression ‘central line,’ I can only meet by saying that, before Childe Harold left England, it was his full intention to traverse Persia, and return by India, which he could not have done without passing the equinoctial.

“The other errors you mention, I must correct in the progress through the press. I feel honoured by the wish of such men that the poem should be continued, but to do that, I must return to Greece and Asia; I must have a warm sun and a blue sky; I cannot describe scenes so dear to me by a sea-coal fire. I had projected an additional Canto when I was in the Troad and Constantinople, and if I saw them again, it would go on; but under existing circumstances and sensations, I have neither harp, ‘heart, nor voice’ to proceed. I feel that you are all right as to the metaphysical part; but I also feel that I am sincere, and that if I am only to write ‘ad captandum vulgus,’ I might as well edit a magazine at once, or spin canzonettas for Vauxhall.

* * * * *

“My work must make its way as well as it can; I know I have every thing against me, angry poets and prejudices; but if the poem is a poem, it will surmount these obstacles, and if not, it deserves its fate. Your friend’s Ode I have read—it is no great compliment to pronounce it far superior to S * *’s on the same subject, or to the merits of the new Chancellor. It is evidently the production of a man of taste, and a poet, though I should not be willing to say it was fully equal to what might be expected from the author of ‘Horæ Ionicæ.’ I thank you for it, and that is more than I would do for any other Ode of the present day.

“I am very sensible of your good wishes, and, indeed, I have need of them. My whole life has been at variance with propriety, not to say decency; my circumstances are become involved; my friends are dead or estranged, and my existence a dreary void. In Matthews I have lost my ‘guide, philosopher, and friend;’ In Wingfield a friend only, but one whom I could have wished to have preceded in his long journey.

Matthews was indeed an extraordinary man; it has not entered
294 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1811.
into the heart of a stranger to conceive such a man; there was the stamp of immortality in all he said or did; and now what is he? When we see such men pass away and be no more—men, who seem created to display what the Creator could make his creatures, gathered into corruption, before the maturity of minds that might have been the pride of posterity, what are we to conclude? For my own part, I am bewildered. To me he was much, to
Hobhouse every thing.—My poor Hobhouse doted on Matthews. For me, I did not love quite so much as I honoured him; I was indeed so sensible of his infinite superiority, that though I did not envy, I stood in awe of it. He, Hobhouse, Davies, and myself, formed a coterie of our own at Cambridge and elsewhere. Davies is a wit and man of the world, and feels as much as such a character can do; but not as Hobhouse has been affected. Davies, who is not a scribbler, has always beaten us all in the war of words, and by his colloquial powers at once delighted and kept us in order. H. and myself always had the worst of it with the other two; and even M. yielded to the dashing vivacity of S. D. But I am talking to you of men, or boys, as if you cared about such beings.

“I expect mine agent down on the 14th to proceed to Lancashire, where, I hear from all quarters, that I have a very valuable property in coals, &c. I then intend to accept an invitation to Cambridge in October, and shall, perhaps, run up to town. I have four invitations—to Wales, Dorset, Cambridge, and Chester; but I must be a man of business. I am quite alone, as these long letters sadly testify. I perceive, by referring to your letter, that the Ode is from the author; make my thanks acceptable to him. His muse is worthy a nobler theme. You will write, as usual, I hope. I wish you a good evening, and am, &c.”