LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 9 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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Venice, April 9th, 1817.

“Your letters of the 18th and 20th are arrived. In my own I have given you the rise, progress, decline, and fall, of my recent malady. It is gone to the devil: I won’t pay him so bad a compliment as to say it came from him;—he is too much of a gentleman. It was nothing but a slow fever, which quickened its pace towards the end of its journey. I had been bored with it some weeks—with nocturnal burnings and morning perspirations; but I am quite well again, which I attribute to having had neither medicine nor doctor thereof.

“In a few days I set off for Rome: such is my purpose. I shall change it very often before Monday next, but do you continue to direct and address to Venice, as heretofore. If I go, letters will be forwarded: I say ‘if,’ because I never know what I shall do till it is done; and as I mean most firmly to set out for Rome, it is not unlikely I may find myself at St. Petersburg.

“You tell me to ‘take care of myself;’—faith, and I will. I won’t be posthumous yet, if I can help it. Notwithstanding, only think what a ‘Life and Adventures,’ while I am in full scandal, would be worth, together with the ‘membra’ of my writing-desk, the sixteen beginnings of poems never to be finished! Do you think I would not have shot myself last year, had I not luckily recollected that Mrs. C * * and Lady N * *, and all the old women in England would have been delighted;—
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 99
besides the agreeable ‘Lunacy,’ of the ‘Crowner’s Quest,’ and the regrets of two or three or half a dozen? * * * * * Be assured that I would live for two reasons, or more;—there are one or two people whom I have to put out of the world, and as many into it, before I can ‘depart in peace;’ if I do so before, I have not fulfilled my mission. Besides, when I turn thirty, I will turn devout; I feel a great vocation that way in Catholic churches, and when I hear the organ.

“So * * is writing again! Is there no Bedlam in Scotland? nor thumb-screw? nor gag? nor handcuff? I went upon my knees to him almost, some years ago, to prevent him from publishing a political pamphlet, which would have given him a livelier idea of ‘Habeas Corpus’ than the world will derive from his present production upon that suspended subject, which will doubtless be followed by the suspension of other of his majesty’s subjects.

“I condole with Drury-lane and rejoice with * *,—that is, in a modest way,—on the tragical end of the new tragedy.

“You and Leigh Hunt have quarrelled then, it seems? * * * * I introduce him and his poem to you, in the hope that (malgré politics) the union would be beneficial to both, and the end is eternal enmity; and yet I did this with the best intentions: I introduce * * *, and * * * runs away with your money: my friend Hobhouse quarrels, too, with the Quarterly: and (except the last) I am the innocent Istmhus (damn the word! I can’t spell it, though I have crossed that of Corinth a dozen times) of these enmities.

“I will tell you something about Chillon.—A Mr. De Luc, ninety years old, a Swiss, had it read to him, and is pleased with it,—so my sister writes. He said that he was with Rousseau at Chillon, and that the description is perfectly correct. But this is not all: I recollected something of the name, and find the following passage in ‘The Confessions,’ vol. 3, page 247, liv. 8.

“‘De tous ces amusemens celui qui me plût davantage fut une promenade autour du Lac, que je fis en bateau avec De Luc père, sa bru, ses deux fils, et ma Therése. Nous mîmes sept jours a cette tournée par le plus beau temps du monde. J’en gardai le vif souvenir des sites qui
100 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
m’avoient frappé a l’autre extremité du Lac, et dont je fis la description, quelques années après, dans
la Nouvelle Heloise.’

“This nonagenarian, De Luc, must be one of the ‘deux fils.’ He is in England—infirm, but still in faculty. It is odd that he should have lived so long, and not wanting in oddness, that he should have made this voyage with Jean Jacques, and afterwards, at such an interval, read a poem by an Englishman (who had made precisely the same circumnavigation) upon the same scenery.

“As for ‘Manfred,’ it is of no use sending proofs; nothing of that kind comes. I sent the whole at different times. The two first Acts are the best; the third so so; but I was blown with the first and second heats. You must call it ‘a Poem,’ for it is no Drama, and I do not choose to have it called by so ** a name—a ‘Poem in dialogue,’ or—Pantomime, if you will; any thing but a green-room synonyme; and this is your motto—

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
“Yours ever, &c.

“My love and thanks to Mr. Gifford.”