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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 4 March 1822

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“Pisa, March 4th, 1822.

“Since I wrote the enclosed, I have waited another post, and now have your answer acknowledging the arrival of the packet—a troublesome one, I fear, to you in more ways than one, both from weight external and internal.

“The unpublished things in your hands, in Douglas K.’s, and Mr. John Murray’s, are, ‘Heaven and Earth, a lyrical kind of Drama upon the Deluge, &c.;’—’Werner,’ now with you;—a translation of the First Canto of the Morgante Maggiore;—ditto of an Episode in Dante;—some stanzas to the Po, June 1st, 1819;—Hints from Horace, written in 1811, but a good deal, since, to be omitted;—several prose things, which may, perhaps, as well remain unpublished;—’The Vision, &c. of Quevedo Redivivus’ in verse.

“Here you see is ‘more matter for a May morning;’ but how much of this can be published is for consideration. The Quevedo (one of my best in that line) has appalled the Row already, and must take its chance at Paris, if at all. The new Mystery is less speculative than ‘Cain,’ and very pious; besides, it is chiefly lyrical. The Morgante is the best translation that ever was or will be made; and the rest are—whatever you please to think them.

“I am sorry you think Werner even approaching to any fitness for the stage, which, with my notions upon it, is very far from my present object. With regard to the publication, I have already explained that I have no exorbitant expectations of either fame or profit in the present instances; but wish them published because they are written, which is the common feeling of all scribblers.

“With respect to ‘Religion,’ can I never convince you that I have no such opinions as the characters in that drama, which seems to have frightened every body? Yet they are nothing to the expressions in Goëthe’s Faust (which are ten times hardier), and not a whit more bold than those of Milton’s Satan. My ideas of a character may run away
580 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1822.
with me: like all imaginative men, I, of course, embody myself with the character while I draw it, but not a moment after the pen is from off the paper.

“I am no enemy to religion, but the contrary. As a proof, I am educating my natural daughter a strict Catholic in a convent of Romagna, for I think people can never have enough of religion, if they are to have any. I incline, myself, very much to the Catholic doctrines; but if I am to write a drama, I must make my characters speak as I conceive them likely to argue.

“As to poor Shelley, who is another bugbear to you and the world, he is, to my knowledge, the least selfish and the mildest of men—a man who has made more sacrifices of his fortune and feelings for others than any I ever heard of. With his speculative opinions I have nothing in common, nor desire to have.

“The truth is, my dear Moore, you live near the stove of society, where you are unavoidably influenced by its heat and its vapours. I did so once—and too much—and enough to give a colour to my whole future existence. As my success in society was not inconsiderable, I am surely not a prejudiced judge upon the subject, unless in its favour; but I think it, as now constituted, fatal to all great original undertakings of every kind. I never courted it then, when I was young and high in blood, and one of its ‘curled darlings;’ and do you think I would do so now, when I am living in a clearer atmosphere? One thing only might lead me back to it, and that is, to try once more if I could do any good in politics; but not in the petty politics I see now preying upon our miserable country.

“Do not let me be misunderstood, however. If you speak your own opinions, they ever had, and will have, the greatest weight with me. But if you merely echo the ‘monde’ (and it is difficult not to do so, being in its favour and its ferment), I can only regret that you should ever repeat any thing to which I cannot pay attention.

“But I am prosing. The gods go with you, and as much immortality of all kinds as may suit your present and all other existence.

“Yours, &c.”