LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 18 November 1820

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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“Ravenna, 9bre 18°, 1820.

“The death of Waite is a shock to the—teeth, as well as to the feelings of all who knew him. Good God, he and Blake† both gone! I left them both in the most robust health, and little thought of the national loss in so short a time as five years. They were both as much superior to Wellington in rational greatness, as he who preserves the hair and the teeth is preferable to ‘the bloody blustering warrior’ who gains a name by breaking heads and knocking out grinders. Who succeeds him? Where is tooth-powder, mild, and yet efficacious—where is tincture—where are clearing-roots and brushes now to be obtained? Pray obtain what information you can upon these ‘Tusculan questions.’ My jaws ache to think on’t. Poor fellows! I anticipated seeing both again; and yet they are gone to that place where both teeth and hair last longer than they do in this life. I have seen a thousand graves opened, and always perceived, that whatever was gone, the teeth and hair remained with those who had died with them. Is not this odd? They go the very first things in youth, and yet last the longest in the dust, if people

* The ghost-story, in which he here professes such serious belief, forms the subject of one of Mr. Rogers’s beautiful Italian sketches.—See “Italy,” p. 43, edit. 1830.

† A celebrated hair-dresser.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 381
will but die to preserve them! It is a queer life, and a queer death, that of mortals.

“I knew that Waite had married, but little thought that the other decease was so soon to overtake him. Then he was such a delight, such a coxcomb, such a jewel of a man! There is a tailor at Bologna so like him! and also at the top of his profession. Do not neglect this commission. Who or what can replace him? What says the public?

“I remand you the Preface. Don’t forget that the Italian extract from the chronicle must be translated. With regard to what you say of retouching the Juans and the Hints, it is all very well; but I can’t furbish. I am like the tiger (in poesy), if I miss the first spring, I go growling back to my jungle. There is no second; I can’t correct; I can’t, and I won’t. Nobody ever succeeds in it, great or small. Tasso remade the whole of his Jerusalem; but who ever reads that version? all the world goes to the first. Pope added to ‘The Rape of the Lock,’ but did not reduce it. You must take my things as they happen to be. If they are not likely to suit, reduce their estimate accordingly. I would rather give them away than hack and hew them. I don’t say that you are not right; I merely repeat that I cannot better them. I must ‘either make a spoon or spoil a horn;’ and there’s an end.


“P.S. Of the praises of that little * * * Keats, I shall observe as Johnson did when Sheridan the actor got a pension: ‘What! has he got a pension? Then it is time that I should give up mine!’ Nobody could be prouder of the praise of the Edinburgh than I was, or more alive to their censure, as I showed in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. At present, all the men they have ever praised are degraded by that insane article. Why don’t they review and praise ‘Solomon’s Guide to Health?’ it is better sense and as much poetry as Johnny Keats.

Bowles must be bowled down. ’Tis a sad match at cricket if he can get any notches at Pope’s expense. If he once get into ‘Lords ground’ (to continue the pun, because it is foolish), I think I could beat him in one innings. You did not know, perhaps, that I was once (not metaphorically, but really) a good cricketer, particularly in batting, and I played in the Harrow match against the Etonians in 1805, gaining more
382 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
notches (as one of our chosen eleven) than any, except
Lord Ipswich and Brockman on our side.”