LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 2 April 1817

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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“Venice, April 2d, 1817.

“I sent you the whole of the Drama at three several times, act by act, in separate covers. I hope that you have, or will receive, some or the whole of it.

“So Love has a conscience. By Diana! I shall make him take back the box, though it were Pandora’s. The discovery of its intrinsic silver occurred on sending it to have the lid adapted to admit Marianna’s portrait. Of course I had the box remitted in statu quo, and had the picture set in another, which suits it (the picture) very well. The defaulting box is not touched, hardly, and was not in the man’s hands above an hour.

“I am aware of what you say of Otway; and am a very great admirer of his,—all except of that maudlin b—h of chaste lewdness and blubbering curiosity, Belvidera, whom I utterly despise, abhor, and detest.

* The only plausible claim of these Epistles to authenticity arises from the circumstance of St. Paul having (according to the opinion of Mosheim and others) written an Epistle to the Corinthians, before that which we now call his First. They are, however, universally given up as spurious. Though frequently referred to as existing in the Armenian, by Primate Usher, Johan. Gregorius, and other learned men, they were for the first time, I believe, translated from that language by the two Whistons, who subjoined the correspondence, with a Greek and Latin version, to their edition of the Armenian History of Moses of Chorene, published in 1736.

The translation by Lord Byron is, as far as I can learn, the first that has ever been attempted in English; and as, proceeding from his pen, it must possess, of course, additional interest, the reader will not be displeased to find it in the Appendix. Annexed to the copy in my possession are the following words, in his own handwriting:—“Done into English by me, January, February, 1817, at the Convent of San Lazaro, with the aid and exposition of the Armenian text by the Father Paschal Aucher, Armenian friar.—Byron. I had also (he adds) the Latin text, but it Is in many places very corrupt, and with great omissions.”

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 95
But the story of
Marino Faliero is different, and, I think, so much finer, that I wish Otway had taken it instead: the head conspiring against the body for refusal of redress for a real injury,—jealousy,—treason,—with the more fixed and inveterate passions (mixed with policy) of an old or elderly man—the devil himself could not have a finer subject, and he is your only tragic dramatist. * * * * * *

“There is still, in the Doge’s palace, the black veil painted over Faliero’s picture, and the staircase whereon he was first crowned Doge and subsequently decapitated. This was the thing that most struck my imagination in Venice—more than the Rialto, which I visited for the sake of Shylock; and more, too, than Schiller’sArmenian,’ a novel which took a great hold of me when a boy. It is also called the ‘Ghost Seer,’ and I never walked down St. Mark’s by moonlight without thinking of it, and ‘at nine o’clock he died!’—But I hate things all fiction; and therefore the Merchant and Othello have no great associations to me: but Pierre has. There should always be some foundation of fact for the most airy fabric, and pure invention is but the talent of a liar.

Maturin’s tragedy.—By your account of him last year to me, he seemed a bit of a coxcomb, personally. Poor fellow! to be sure, he had had a long seasoning of adversity, which is not so hard to bear as t’ other thing. I hope that this won’t throw him back into the ‘slough of Despond.’

“You talk of ‘marriage;’—ever since my own funeral, the word makes me giddy, and throws me into a cold sweat. Pray, don’t repeat it.

“You should close with Madame de Staël. This will be her best work, and permanently historical; it is on her father, the Revolution, and Buonaparte, &c. Bonstetten told me in Switzerland it was very great. I have not seen it myself, but the author often. She was very kind to me at Copet. * * * * *

“There have been two articles in the Venice papers, one a Review of Glenarvon * * * *, and the other a Review of Childe Harold, in which it proclaims me the most rebellious and contumacious admirer of Buonaparte now surviving in Europe. Both these articles are translations from the Literary Gazette of German Jena.

96 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
* * * * * *

“Tell me that Walter Scott is better. I would not have him ill for the world. I suppose it was by sympathy that I had my fever at the same time.

“I joy in the success of your Quarterly, but I must still stick by the Edinburgh; Jeffrey has done so by me, I must say, through every thing, and this is more than I deserved from him.—I have more than once acknowledged to you by letter the ‘Article’ (and articles); say that you have received the said letters, as I do not otherwise know what letters arrive.—Both Reviews came, but nothing more. M.’s play and the extract not yet come.

* * * * * *

“Write to say whether my Magician has arrived, with all his scenes, spells, &c.

“Yours ever, &c.

“It is useless to send to the Foreign-office: nothing arrives to me by that conveyance. I suppose some zealous clerk thinks it a Tory duty to prevent it.”