LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 4 December 1819

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, Dec. 4, 1819.

“You may do as you please, but you are about a hopeless experiment. Eldon will decide against you, were it only that my name is in the record. You will also recollect that if the publication is pronounced against, on the grounds you mention, as indecent and blasphemous, that I lose all right in my daughter’s guardianship and education, in short, all paternal authority, and every thing concerning her, except * * * * * * * * * * * *. It was so decided in Shelley’s case, because he had written Queen Mab, &c. &c. However, you can ask the lawyers, and do as you like: I do not inhibit you trying the question; I merely state one of the consequences to me. With regard to the copyright, it is hard that you should pay for a nonentity: I will therefore refund it, which I can very well do, not having spent it, nor begun upon it; and so we will be quits on that score. It lies at my banker’s.

“Of the Chancellor’s law. I am no judge; but take up Tom Jones, and read his Mrs. Waters and Molly Seagrim; or Prior’s Hans Carvel and Paulo Purganti; Smollett’s Roderick Random, the chapter of Lord Strutwell, and many others; Peregrine Pickle, the scene of the Beggar Girl; Johnson’s London, for coarse expressions; for instance, the words ‘* *,’ and ‘* *;’ Anstey’s Bath Guide, the ‘Hearken, Lady Betty, hearken;’—take up, in short, Pope, Prior, Congreve, Dryden, Fielding, Smollett, and let the Counsel select passages, and what becomes of their
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 287
copyright, if his
Wat Tyler decision is to pass into a precedent? I have nothing more to say: you must judge for yourselves.

“I wrote to you some time ago. I have had a tertian ague; my daughter Allegra has been ill also, and I have been almost obliged to run away with a married woman; but with some difficulty, and many internal struggles, I reconciled the lady with her lord, and cured the fever of the child with bark, and my own with cold water. I think of setting out for England by the Tyrol in a few days, so that I could wish you to direct your next letter to Calais. Excuse my writing in great haste and late in the morning, or night, whichever you please to call it. The Third Canto of ‘Don Juan’ is completed, in about two hundred stanzas; very decent, I believe, but do not know, and it is useless to discuss until it be ascertained if it may or may not be a property.

“My present determination to quit Italy was unlooked for; but I have explained the reasons in letters to my sister and Douglas Kinnaird, a week or two ago. My progress will depend upon the snows of the Tyrol, and the health of my child, who is at present quite recovered;—but I hope to get on well, and am

“Yours ever and truly.

“P.S. Many thanks for your letters, to which you are not to consider this as an answer, but as an acknowledgment.”