LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 2 January 1821

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, January 2d, 1821.

“Your entering into my project for the Memoir is pleasant to me. But I doubt (contrary to my dear Made Mac F * *, whom I always loved, and always shall—not only because I really did feel attached to her personally, but because she and about a dozen others of that sex were all who stuck by me in the grand conflict of 1815)—but I doubt, I say, whether the Memoir could appear in my lifetime;—and, indeed, I had rather it did not; for a man always looks dead after his Life has appeared, and I should certes not survive the appearance of mine. The first part I cannot consent to alter, even although Made. de S.’s opinion of B. C., and my remarks upon Lady C.’s beauty (which is surely great, and I suppose that I have said so—at least, I ought) should go down to our grandchildren in unsophisticated nakedness.

“As to Madame de S * *, I am by no means bound to be her beadsman—she was always more civil to me in person than during my absence. Our dear defunct friend, M * * L * *† who was too great

† Of this gentleman, the following notice occurs in the “Detached Thoughts.”—“L * * was a good man, a clever man, but a bore. My only revenge or consolation used to be setting him by the ears with some vivacious person who hated bores especially,—Madame S— or H—, for example. But I liked L * *; he was a jewel of a man, had he been better set;—I don’t mean personally, but lees tiresome, for he was tedious, as well as contradictory to every thing and every body. Being shortsighted, when we used to ride out together near the Brenta in the twilight in summer, he made me go before, to pilot him: I am absent at times, especially towards evening; and the consequence of this

A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 435
a bore ever to lie, assured me, upon his tiresome word of honour, that, at Florence, the said Madame de S * * was open-mouthed against me; and, when asked, in Switzerland, why she had changed her opinion, replied, with laudable sincerity, that I had named her in a sonnet with
Voltaire, Rousseau, &c. &c. and that she could not help it, through decency. Now, I have not forgotten this, but I have been generous,—as mine acquaintance, the late Captain Whitby, of the navy, used to say to his seamen (when ‘married to the gunner’s daughter’)—‘two dozen, and let you off easy.’ The ‘two dozen’ were with the cat-o’-nine-tails;—the ‘let you off easy’ was rather his own opinion than that of the patient.

“My acquaintance with these terms and practices arises from my having been much conversant with ships of war and naval heroes in the years of my voyages in the Mediterranean. Whitby was in the gallant action off Lissa in 1811. He was brave, but a disciplinarian. When he left his frigate, he left a parrot, which was taught by the crew the following sounds—(It must be remarked that Captain Whitby was the image of Fawcett the actor, in voice, face, and figure, and that he squinted).

The Parrot loquitur.

“‘Whitby! Whitby! funny eye! funny eye! two dozen, and let you off easy. Oh you ——!’

“Now, if Madame de B. has a parrot, it had better be taught a French parody of the same sounds.

pilotage was some narrow escapes to the M * * on horseback. Once I led him into a ditch over which I had passed as usual, forgetting to warn my convoy; once I led him nearly into the river, instead of on the moveable bridge which incommodes passengers; and twice did we both run against the Diligence, which, being heavy and slow, did communicate less damage than it received in its leaders, who were terrafied by the charge; thrice did I lose him in the gray of the gloaming, and was obliged to bring-to to his distant signals of distance and distress; —all the time he went on talking without intermission, for he was a man of many words. Poor fellow! he died a martyr to his new riches—of a second visit to Jamaica.
“I’d give the lands of Deloraine
Dark Musgrave were alive again!
that is—
“I would give many a sugar cane
M * * L * * were alive again!

436 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.

“With regard to our purposed Journal, I will call it what you please, but it should be a newspaper, to make it pay. We can call it ‘The Harp,’ if you like—or any thing.

“I feel exactly as you do about our ‘art†,’ but it comes over me in a kind of rage every now and then, like * * * * and then, if I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing, which you describe in your friend, I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.

“I wish you to think seriously of the Journal scheme—for I am as serious as one can be, in this world, about any thing. As to matters here, they are high and mighty—but not for paper. It is much about the state of things betwixt Cain and Abel. There is, in fact, no law or government at all; and it is wonderful how well things go on without them. Excepting a few occasional murders (every body killing whomsoever he pleases, and being killed, in turn, by a friend, or relative, of the defunct), there is as quiet a society and as merry a Carnival as can be met with in a tour through Europe. There is nothing like habit in these things.

“I shall remain here till May or June, and, unless ‘honour comes unlooked for,’ we may perhaps meet, in France or England, within the year.

“Yours, &c.

“Of course, I cannot explain to you existing circumstances, as they open all letters.

† The following passage from the letter of mine, to which the above was an answer, will best explain what follows:—“With respect to the newspaper, it is odd enough that Lord * * * and myself had been (about a week or two before I received your letter) speculating upon your assistance in a plan somewhat similar, but more literary and less regularly periodical in its appearance. Lord * *, as you will see by his volume of Essays, if it reaches you, has a very sly, dry, and pithy way of putting sound truths, upon politics and manners, and whatever scheme we adopt, he will be a very useful and active ally in it, as he has a pleasure in writing quite inconceivable to a poor hack scribe like me, who always feel, about my art, as the French husband did when he found a man making love to his (the Frenchman’s) wife:—‘Comment, Monsieur,—sans y être obligé!’ When I say this, however, I mean it only of the executive part of writing; for the imagining, the shadowing out of the future work is, I own, a delicious fool’s-paradise.”

A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 437

“Will you set me right about your curst ‘Champs Elysées?’—are they ‘és’ or ‘ées’ for the adjective? I know nothing of French, being all Italian. Though I can read and understand French, I never attempt to speak it; for I hate it. From the second part of the Memoirs cut what you please.”