LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 22 August 1813

Life of Byron: to 1806
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Life of Byron: 1811
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Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
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Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
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Life of Byron: 1822
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Life of Byron: 1824
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“Bennet-street, August 22nd, 1813.
* * * * *

“As our late—I might say, deceased—correspondence had too much of the town-life leaven in it, we will now, ‘paulo majora,’ prattle a little of literature in all its branches; and first of the first—criticism. The Prince is at Brighton, and Jackson, the boxer, gone to Margate, having, I believe, decoyed Yarmouth to see a milling in that polite neighbourhood. Made. de Staël Holstein has lost one of her young barons, who has been carbonadoed by a vile Teutonic adjutant,—kilt and killed in a coffee-house at Scrawsenhawsen. Corinne is, of course, what all mothers must be,—but will, I venture to prophesy, do what few mothers could—write an Essay upon it. She cannot exist without a grievance—and somebody to see, or read, how much grief becomes her. I have not seen her since the event; but merely judge (not very charitably) from prior observation.

* The passage referred to by the Reviewers is in the Poem entitled “Resentment;” and the following is, I take for granted, the part which Lord Byron is accused by them of having imitated.

“Those are like wax—apply them to the fire,
Melting, they take th’ impressions you desire;
Easy to mould, and fashion as you please,
And again moulded with an equal ease:
Like smelted iron these the forms retain,
But, once impress’d, will never melt again.”

420 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.

“In a ‘mail-coach copy’ of the Edinburgh, I perceive the Giaour is 2d article. The numbers are still in the Leith smack—pray, which way is the wind? The said article is so very mild and sentimental, that it must be written by Jeffrey in love;—you know he is gone to America to marry some fair one, of whom he has been, for several quarters, éperdument amoureux. Seriously—as Winifred Jenkins says of Lismahago—Mr. Jeffrey (or his deputy) ‘has done the handsome thing by me,’ and I say nothing. But this I will say,—if you and I had knocked one another on the head in his quarrel, how he would have laughed, and what a mighty bad figure we should have cut in our posthumous works. By the by, I was called in the other day to mediate between two gentlemen bent upon carnage, and,—after a long struggle between the natural desire of destroying one’s fellow-creatures, and the dislike of seeing men play the fool for nothing,—I got one to make an apology, and the other to take it, and left them to live happy ever after. One was a peer, the other a friend untitled, and both fond of high play;—and one, I can swear for, though very mild, ‘not fearful,’ and so dead a shot, that, though the other is the thinnest of men, he would have split him like a cane. They both conducted themselves very well, and I put them out of pain as soon as I could.

* * * * *

“There is an American Life of G. F. Cooke, Scurra deceased, lately published. Such a book!—I believe, since Drunken Barnaby’s Journal, nothing like it has drenched the press. All green-room and tap-room—drams and the drama—brandy, whisky-punch, and, latterly, toddy, overflow every page. Two things are rather marvellous—first, that man should live so long drunk, and, next, that he should have found a sober biographer. There are some very laughable things in it, nevertheless;—but the pints he swallowed and the parts he performed are too regularly registered.

“All this time you wonder I am not gone: so do I; but the accounts of the plague are very perplexing—not so much for the thing itself as the quarantine established in all ports, and from all places, even from England. It is true the forty or sixty days would, in all probability, be
A. D. 1813. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 421
as foolishly spent on shore as in the ship; but one likes to have one’s choice, nevertheless. Town is awfully empty; but not the worse for that. I am really puzzled with my perfect ignorance of what I mean to do;—not stay, if I can help it, but where to go*?
Sligo is for the North,—a pleasant place, Petersburgh, in September, with one’s ears and nose in a muff, or else tumbling into one’s neckcloth or pocket-handkerchief! If the winter treated Buonaparte with so little ceremony, what would it inflict upon your solitary traveller?—Give me a sun, I care not how hot, and sherbet, I care not how cool, and my Heaven is as easily made as your Persian’s†. The Giaour is now 1000 and odd lines. ‘Lord Fanny spins a thousand such a day,’ eh, Moore?—thou wilt needs be a wag, but I forgive it. “Yours ever,


“P.S. I perceive I have written a flippant and rather cold-hearted letter; let it go, however. I have said nothing, either, of the brilliant sex; but the fact is, I am, at this moment, in a far more serious, and entirely new, scrape than any of the last twelvemonth,—and that is saying a good deal. * * *  It is unlucky we can neither live with nor without these women.

“I am now thinking and regretting that, just as I have left Newstead, you reside near it. Did you ever see it? do—but don’t tell me that you like it. If I had known of such intellectual neighbourhood, I don’t think I should have quitted it. You could have come over so

* One of his travelling projects appears to have been a visit to Abyssinia:—at least, I have found, among his papers, a letter founded on that supposition, in which the writer entreats of him to procure information concerning “a kingdom of Jews mentioned by Bruce as residing on the mountain of Samen in that country. I have had the honour,” he adds, “of some correspondence with the Rev. Dr. Buchanan and the reverend and learned G. S. Faber, on the subject of the existence of this kingdom of Jews, which, if it prove to be a fact, will more clearly elucidate many of the scripture prophecies; . . . . . . . . . and if Providence favours your lordship’s mission to Abyssinia, an intercourse might be established between England and that country, and the English ships, according to the Rev. Mr. Faber, might be the principal meant of transporting the kingdom of Jews, now in Abyssinia, to Egypt, in their way to their own country, Palestine.”

† “A Persian’s Heav’n is easily made—
’Tis but black eyes and lemonade.”

422 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.
often, as a bachelor,—for it was a thorough bachelor’s mansion—plenty of wine and such sordid sensualities—with books enough, room enough, and an air of antiquity about all (except the lasses) that would have suited you, when pensive, and served you to laugh at when in glee. I had built myself a bath and a vault—and now I sha’n’t even be buried in it. It is odd that we can’t even be certain of a grave, at least a particular one. I remember, when about fifteen, reading your poems there,—which I can repeat almost now,—and asking all kinds of questions about the author, when I heard that he was not dead according to the preface; wondering if I should ever see him—and though, at that time, without the smallest poetical propensity myself, very much taken, as you may imagine, with that volume. Adieu—I commit you to the care of the gods.—Hindoo, Scandinavian, and Hellenic!

“P.S. 2d. There is an excellent review of Grimm’s Correspondence and Made. de Staël in this No. of the E. R. * * * * * Jeffrey, himself, was my critic last year; but this is, I believe, by another hand. I hope you are going on with your grand coup—pray do—or that damned Lucien Buonaparte will beat us all. I have seen much of his poem in MS., and he really surpasses every thing beneath Tasso. Hodgson is translating him against another bard. You and (I believe, Rogers) Scott, Gifford and myself, are to be referred to as judges between the twain,—that is, if you accept the office. Conceive our different opinions! I think we, most of us (I am talking very impudently you will think—us, indeed!) have a way of our own,—at least, you and Scott certainly have.”