LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 8 December 1813

Life of Byron: to 1806
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Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
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: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
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Life of Byron: 1824
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“December 8th, 1813.

“Your letter, like all the best, and even kindest, things in this world, is both painful and pleasing. But, first, to what sits nearest. Do you know I was actually about to dedicate to you,—not in a formal inscription, as to one’s elders,—but through a short prefatory letter, in which I boasted myself your intimate, and held forth the prospect of your Poem; when, lo, the recollection of your strict injunctions of secrecy as to the said Poem, more than once repeated by word and letter, flashed upon me, and marred my intents. I could have no motive for repressing my own desire of alluding to you (and not a day passes that I do not think and talk of you), but an idea that you might, yourself, dislike it. You cannot doubt my sincere admiration, waving personal friendship for the present, which, by the by, is not less sincere and deep rooted. I have you by rote and by heart; of which ‘ecce signum!’ When I was at * *, on my first visit, I have a habit, in passing my time a good deal alone, of—I won’t call it singing, for that I never attempt except to myself—but of uttering, to what I think tunes, your ‘Oh breathe not,’ ‘When the last glimpse,’ and ‘When he who adores thee; with others of the same minstrel;—they are my matins and vespers. I assuredly did not intend them to be overheard, but, one morning, in comes, not La Donna, but Il Marito, with a very grave face, saying, ‘Byron, I must request you won’t sing any more, at least of those songs.’ I stared, and said, ‘Certainly, but why?’—‘To tell you the truth,’ quoth he,
A. D. 1813. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 433
they make my wife cry, and so melancholy, that I wish her to hear no more of them.’

“Now, my dear M., the effect must have been from your words, and certainly not my music. I merely mention this foolish story, to show you how much I am indebted to you for even your pastimes. A man may praise and praise, but no one recollects but that which pleases—at least, in composition. Though I think no one equal to you in that department, or in satire,—and surely no one was ever so popular in both,—I certainly am of opinion that you have not yet done all you can do, though more than enough for any one else. I want, and the world expects, a longer work from you; and I see in you what I never saw in poet before, a strange diffidence of your own powers, which I cannot account for, and which must be unaccountable, when a Cossac like me can appal a cuirassier. Your story I did not, could not, know,—I thought only of a Peri. I wish you had confided in me, not for your sake, but mine, and to prevent the world from losing a much better poem than my own, but which, I yet hope, this clashing will not even now deprive them of*. Mine is the work of a week, written, why I have partly told you, and partly I cannot tell you by letter—some day I will.

* * * * *

“Go on—I shall really be very unhappy if I at all interfere with you. The success of mine is yet problematical; though the public will pro-

* Among the stories, intended to be introduced into Lalla Rookh, which I had begun, but, from various causes, never finished, there was one which I had made some progress in, at the time of the appearance of “the Bride,” and which, on reading that Poem, I found to contain such singular coincidences with it, not only in locality and costume, but in plot and characters, that I immediately gave up my story altogether, and began another on an entirely new subject, the Fire-worshippers. To this circumstance, which I immediately communicated to him, Lord Byron alludes in this letter. In my hero (to whom I had even given the name of “Zelim,” and who was a descendant of Ali, outlawed, with all his followers, by the reigning Caliph,) it was my intention to shadow out, as I did afterwards in another form, the national cause of Ireland. To quote the words of my latter to Lord Byron on the subject:—“I chose this story because one writes best about what one feels most, and I thought the parallel with Ireland would enable me to infuse some vigour into my hero’s character. But to aim at vigour and strong feeling after you, is hopeless;—that region was made for Cæsar.’”

434 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.
bably purchase a certain quantity, on the presumption of their own propensity for ‘
the Giaour’ and such ‘horrid mysteries.’ The only advantage I have is being on the spot; and that merely amounts to saving me the trouble of turning over books, which I had better read again. If your chamber was furnished in the same way, you have no need to go there to describe—I mean only as to accuracy—because I drew it from recollection.

* * * * *

“This last thing of mine may have the same fate, and I assure you I have great doubts about it. But, even if not, its little day will be over before you are ready and willing. Come out—‘screw your courage to the sticking-place.’ Except the Post Bag (and surely you cannot complain of a want of success there), you have not been regularly out for some years. No man stands higher,—whatever you may think on a rainy day, in your provincial retreat. ‘Aucun homme, dans aucune langue, n’a eté, peut-étre, plus complètement le poëte du cœur et le poëte des femmes. Les critiques lui reprochent de n’avoir representé le monde ni tel qu’il est, ni tel qu’il doit être; mais les femmes répondent qu’il l’a representé tel qu’elles le désirent.’—I should have thought Sismondi had written this for you instead of Metastasio.

“Write to me, and tell me of yourself. Do you remember what Rousseau said to some one—‘Have we quarrelled? you have talked to me often, and never once mentioned yourself.’

“P.S. The last sentence is an indirect apology for my own egotism,—but I believe in letters it is allowed. I wish it was mutual. I have met with an odd reflection in Grimm; it shall not—at least, the bad part—be applied to you or me, though one of us has certainly an indifferent name—but this it is ‘Many people have the reputation of being wicked, with whom we should be too happy to pass our lives.’ I need not add it is a woman’s saying—a Mademoiselle de Sommery’s.”

* * * * *