LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 9 March 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, March 9th, 1817.

“In remitting the Third Act of the sort of dramatic poem of which you will by this time have received the Two First (at least I hope so), which were sent within the last three weeks, I have little to observe, except that you must not publish it (if it ever is published) without giving me previous notice. I have really and truly no notion whether it is good or bad; and as this was not the case with the principal of my former publications, I am, therefore, inclined to rank it very humbly. You will submit it to Mr. Gifford, and to whomsoever you please besides. With regard to the question of copyright (if it ever comes to publication), I do not know whether you would think three hundred guineas an over-
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 83
estimate; if you do, you may diminish it: I do not think it worth more; so you may see I make some difference between it and the others.

“I have received your two Reviews (but not the ‘Tales of my Landlord’); the Quarterly I acknowledged particularly to you, on its arrival, ten days ago. What you tell me of Perry petrifies me; it is a rank imposition. In or about February or March, 1816, I was given to understand that Mr. Croker was not only a coadjutor in the attacks of the Courier in 1814, but the author of some lines tolerably ferocious, then recently published in a morning paper. Upon this I wrote a reprisal. The whole of the lines I have forgotten, and even the purport of them I scarcely remember; for on your assuring me that he was not, &c. &c. I put them into the fire before your face, and there never was but that one rough copy. Mr. Davies, the only person who ever heard them read, wanted a copy, which I refused. If, however, by some impossibility, which I cannot divine, the ghost of these rhymes should walk into the world, I never will deny what I have really written, but hold myself personally responsible for satisfaction, though I reserve to myself the right of disavowing all or any fabrications. To the previous facts you are a witness, and best know how far my recapitulation is correct; and I request that you will inform Mr. Perry from me, that I wonder he should permit such an abuse of my name in his paper; I say an abuse, because my absence, at least, demands some respect, and my presence and positive sanction could alone justify him in such a proceeding, even were the lines mine; and if false, there are no words for him. I repeat to you that the original was burnt before you on your assurance, and there never was a copy, nor even a verbal repetition,—very much to the discomfort of some zealous Whigs, who bored me for them (having heard it bruited by Mr. Davies that there were such matters) to no purpose; for, having written them solely with the notion that Mr. Croker was the aggressor, and for my own and not party reprisals, I would not lend me to the zeal of any sect when I was made aware that he was not the writer of the offensive passages. You know, if there was such a thing, I would not deny it. I mentioned it openly at the time to you, and you will remember why and where I destroyed it; and no power nor wheedling
84 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
on earth should have made, or could make, me (if I recollected them) give a copy after that, unless I was well assured that Mr. Croker was really the author of that which you assured me he was not.

“I intend for England this spring, where I have some affairs to adjust; but the post hurries me.—For this month past I have been unwell, but am getting better, and thinking of moving homewards towards May, without going to Rome, as the unhealthy season comes on soon, and I can return when I have settled the business I go upon, which need not be long. * * * * I should have thought the Assyrian tale very succeedable.

“I saw, in Mr. W. W.’s poetry, that he had written my epitaph; I would rather have written his.

“The thing I have sent you, you will see at a glimpse, could never be attempted or thought of for the stage; I much doubt it for publication even. It is too much in my old style; but I composed it actually with a horror of the stage, and with a view to render the thought of it impracticable, knowing the zeal of my friends that I should try that for which I have an invincible repugnance, viz. a representation.

“I certainly am a devil of a mannerist, and must leave off; but what could I do? Without exertion of some kind, I should have sunk under my imagination and reality. My best respects to Mr. Gifford, to Walter Scott, and to all friends.

“Yours ever.”