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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 19 September 1821

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
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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
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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, September 19th, 1821.

“I am in all the sweat, dust, and blasphemy of an universal packing of all my things, furniture, &c. for Pisa, whither I go for the winter. The cause has been the exile of all my fellow Carbonics, and, amongst them, of the whole family of Madame G., who, you know, was divorced from her husband last week, ‘on account of P. P., clerk of this parish,’

† “The Irish Avatar.” In this copy the following sentence (taken from a Letter of Curran, in the able Life of that true Irishman, by his son) is prefixed as a motto to the Poem,—“And Ireland, like a bastinadoed elephant, kneeling to receive the paltry rider.”—Letter of Curran, Life, vol. ii. page 336. At the end of the verses are these words:“—(Signed) W. L. B. * M. A., and written with a view to a Bishoprick.”

528 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
and who is obliged to join her father and relatives, now in exile there, to avoid being shut up in a monastery, because the Pope’s decree of separation required her to reside in casa paterna, or else, for decorum’s sake, in a convent. As I could not say, with Hamlet, ‘Get thee to a nunnery,’ I am preparing to follow them.

“It is awful work, this love, and prevents all a man’s projects of good or glory. I wanted to go to Greece lately (as every thing seems up here) with her brother, who is a very fine, brave fellow (I have seen him put to the proof), and wild about liberty. But the tears of a woman who has left her husband for a man, and the weakness of one’s own heart, are paramount to these projects, and I can hardly indulge them.

“We were divided in choice between Switzerland and Tuscany, and I gave my vote for Pisa, as nearer the Mediterranean, which I love for the sake of the shores which it washes, and for my young recollections of 1809. Switzerland is a curst selfish, swinish country of brutes, placed in the most romantic region of the world. I never could bear the inhabitants, and still less their English visitors; for which reason, after writing for some information about houses, upon hearing that there was a colony of English all over the cantons of Geneva, &c., I immediately gave up the thought, and persuaded the Gambas to do the same.

“By last post I sent you ‘the Irish Avatar,’—what think you? The last line—’a name never spoke but with curses or jeers’—must run either ‘a name only uttered with curses or jeers,’ or, ‘a wretch never named but with curses or jeers.’ Because as how, ‘spoke’ is not grammar, except in the House of Commons; and I doubt whether we can say ‘a name spoken,’ for mentioned. I have some doubts, too, about ‘repay,’—’and for murder repay with a shout and a smile.’ Should it not be, ‘and for murder repay him with shouts and a smile,’ or ‘reward him with shouts and a smile?’

“So, pray put your poetical pen through the MS., and take the least bad of the emendations. Also, if there be any further breaking of Priscian’s head, will you apply a plaister? I wrote in the greatest hurry and fury, and sent it you the day after; so, doubtless, there
A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 529
will be some awful constructions, and a rather lawless conscription of rhythmus.

“With respect to what Anna Seward calls ‘the liberty of transcript,’—when complaining of Miss Matilda Muggleton, the accomplished daughter of a choral vicar of Worcester Cathedral, who had abused the said ‘liberty of transcript,’ by inserting in the Malvern Mercury, Miss Seward’s ‘Elegy on the South Pole,’ as her own production, with her own signature, two years after having taken a copy, by permission of the authoress—with regard, I say, to the ‘liberty of transcript,’ I by no means oppose an occasional copy to the benevolent few, provided it does not degenerate into such licentiousness of Verb and Noun as may tend to ‘disparage my parts of speech’ by the carelessness of the transcribblers.

“I do not think that there is much danger of the ‘King’s Press being abused’ upon the occasion, if the publishers of journals have any regard for their remaining liberty of person. It is as pretty a piece of invective as ever put publisher in the way to ‘Botany.’ Therefore, if they meddle with it, it is at their peril. As for myself, I will answer any jontleman—though I by no means recognise a ‘right of search’ into an unpublished production and unavowed poem. The same applies to things published sans consent. I hope you like, at least, the concluding lines of the Pome?

“What are you doing, and where are you? in England? Nail Murray—nail him to his own counter, till he shells out the thirteens. Since I wrote to you, I have sent him another tragedy—’Cain’ by name—making three in MS. now in his hands, or in the printer’s. It is in the Manfred, metaphysical style, and full of some Titanic declamation;—Lucifer being one of the dram. pers., who takes Cain a voyage among the stars, and, afterwards, to ‘Hades,’ where he shows him the phantoms of a former world, and its inhabitants. I have gone upon the notion of Cuvier, that the world has been destroyed three or four times, and was inhabited by mammoths, behemoths, and what not; but not by man till the Mosaic period, as, indeed, is proved by the strata of bones found;—those of all unknown animals, and known, being dug out, but none of mankind. I have, therefore, supposed Cain to be shown, in the rational
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Preadamites, beings endowed with a higher intelligence than man, but totally unlike him in form, and with much greater strength of mind and person. You may suppose the small talk which takes place between him and Lucifer upon these matters is not quite canonical.

“The consequence is, that Cain comes back and kills Abel in a fit of dissatisfaction, partly with the politics of Paradise, which had driven them all out of it, and partly because (as it is written in Genesis) Abel’s sacrifice was the more acceptable to the Deity. I trust that the Rhapsody has arrived—it is in three acts, and entitled ‘A Mystery.’ according to the former Christian custom, and in honour of what it probably will remain to the reader.

“Yours, &c.”