LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron
Preliminary Statement

Table of Contents
Preliminary Statement
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
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1808 TO THE END OF 1814;




R. C. DALLAS, Esq.







Review in Gentleman's Magazine
J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas
J. G. Lockhart, “Lord Byron”

Circumstances have rendered it necessary to account to the public for the appearance of the following Recollections in their present form. A work had been announced as preparing for publication, entitled “Private Correspondence of Lord Byron, including his Letters to his Mother, written from Portugal, Spain, Greece, and other parts of the Mediterranean, in the years 1809, 1810, and 1811, connected by Memorandums and Observations, forming a Memoir of his Life, from the year 1808 to 1814. By R. C. Dallas, Esq.” Much expectation had been raised by this announcement, and considerable interest had been excited in the public
mind. The Vice-Chancellor, however, was applied to by Messrs.
Hobhouse and Hanson, for an injunction to restrain the intended publication, which was summarily granted as a matter of form; since which the Lord-Chancellor has been pleased to confirm the Vice-Chancellor’s injunction, but the public have never been furnished with any report of his decision, nor been further informed upon the subject.

Under these circumstances, the public expectation has been disappointed, and the interest which was created has been left unsatisfied; while, on the other hand, the intended publication has been exposed to the charge of raising an expectation, and exciting an interest, which it was improper and unlawful to gratify. The nature of the letters, and memoirs themselves, has thus been left to the vague surmises which might be formed by every thoughtless mind, pampered by the constant food of personality and scandal, which the press has lately afforded in such abundance, and excited by the depraved character of many of those works which Lord Byron, in his
fallen state, has himself administered to their morbid appetite.

Thus situated, no one can deny that it became Mr. Dallas’s bounden duty, both to defend himself from the charge which might thus be brought against him, and to lay before the public such an account of the work he had announced as might fairly explain its nature, and shelter it from the suspicions of impropriety, which the very name of Lord Byron seems so generally to excite. The latter of these objects has produced the publication of the present work; to which the reader is confidently referred, that he may form his opinion of the nature of that which has been suppressed. To obtain the former object, it can only be necessary to publish a simple narrative of the facts connected with the formation of the work, with its intended publication, and with its suppression. Such a narrative it was in the contemplation of the author of the following Recollections to have written, but it did not please God to prolong his life for the execution of his purpose. He has been taken from this
world, and the task he had proposed has devolved upon the
Editor of the present volume; who, having been principally concerned, during his father’s absence from England, in the transactions which will be recorded, is enabled to state them from his own information.

Mr. Dallas’s knowledge of Lord Byron, and the circumstances which gave rise to his intention of writing any thing concerning him, are fully detailed in the following work. A few words, however, will convey such a recapitulation of them as will be necessary to enable the reader to understand this narrative. Having been in habits of intimacy, and in frequent correspondence with Lord Byron, from the year 1808 to the end of 1814, which correspondence about that period ceased, Mr. Dallas had many times heard him read portions of a book in which his Lordship inserted his opinion of the persons with whom he mixed. This book, Lord Byron said, he intended for publication after his death; and, from this idea, Mr. Dallas, at a subsequent period, adopted that of writing a faithful delineation of
Lord Byron’s character, such as he had known him, and of leaving it for publication after the death of both; and, calculating upon the human probability of Lord Byron’s surviving himself, he meant the two posthumous works should thus appear simultaneously. Mr. Dallas’s work was completed in the year 1819; and, in November of that year, he wrote to inform Lord Byron of his intended purpose*.

The event proved the fallacy of human probability—Mr. Dallas lived, at seventy, to see the death of Lord Byron, at thirty-seven. The idea of digesting his work into a different form, and of publishing it with the greater part of the letters which it contained, came into his mind even before the report of Lord Byron’s death was fully

* The body of the letter which he wrote upon this occasion, will be found in the last chapter of this work, page 308. Although Lord Byron never replied to this letter, its writer had assurance that he received it—for, some time afterwards, a mutual friend who had been with Lord Byron, told him that his Lordship had mentioned the receiving of it, and referred to part of its contents.

confirmed. This, together with a circumstance more important to the object of this narrative, may be gathered from the contents of a letter which he wrote to the present
Lord Byron from France, on the 18th of May, 1824. The following extract from which will show, that Mr. Dallas’s first thought respecting these letters, was to consult with the most proper person, his nearest male relation and successor.

“I hear that you have been presented with a frigate by Lord Melville—I congratulate you on this, too; but I own I suspect myself to be more sorry than pleased at it, particularly if you are to go on a station of three years abroad. There are reports respecting your cousin, the truth of which would render your absence very awkward—pray state this to Mr. Wilmot, and consult him upon it. I hope, if you do go abroad, that you will run over in one of the Havre packets, to spend a few days with me previously. I cannot look forward to seeing you again in this world, and I should like to have some conversation with you, not only respecting the situation in which you stand as to the title, but also respecting Lord Byron himself. I have many letters from him, and from your father and mother, which are extremely interesting. Do not fail to see me, George, if but for a couple of days. The Southampton packets are passing Portsmouth three times a week, and if you could not stay longer,
I would not press you to do otherwise than return by the packet you came in.”

The next packet, however, brought Mr. Dallas the confirmation of the report of Lord Byron’s death, and he was not long in deciding upon the intention which he afterwards put in execution. The work, as it existed at that time, had been written with a view to publication at a period when, after the common age of man, Lord Byron should have quitted this world—that is, thirty or forty years hence. The progress of the baneful influence which certain persons, calling themselves his friends, obtained over Lord Byron’s mind, when his genius first began to attract attention to him, was, in that work, more distinctly traced. Many circumstances were mentioned in it which might give pain to some now living, who could not be expected to be living then, or who, if they were then alive, would probably experience different feelings at that time to those with which they would recall the circumstances now. In the form it then possessed, therefore, Mr. Dallas would not think of publishing it; but he determined
to arrange the correspondence in such a manner as should present an interesting picture of Lord Byron’s mind, and connecting the letters by memorandums and observations of his own, render the whole a faithful memoir of his life during the period to which the correspondence referred.

Having decided upon this, the materials were arranged accordingly; and the Editor can, of his own knowledge, assert, that many parts of the original manuscript were omitted, in tenderness for the feelings of both the very persons composing the partnership which has since so violently opposed the publication of the Correspondence, and that none of the parts then omitted have been allowed to appear in the present work. When this alteration was completed he came to London, and entered into an agreement with Mr. Charles Knight, of Pall Mall East, for the disposal of the copyright*. The book was immediately put to press,

* The introduction of Mr. Colburn’s name, in the publication of the book, was in consequence of a subsequent arrangement between Mr. Knight and that gentleman, in which the author was not concerned.

and the usual announcements of it were inserted in the newspapers.

During the short stay which Mr. Dallas made in London, he endeavoured fruitlessly to see the present Lord Byron, who arrived in town, and sought him at his hotel the very day that he had left it, and therefore no sufficient communication took place at that time respecting the work which was about to appear. According to circumstances, which afterwards occurred, this was unfortunate, for had Lord Byron then seen Mr. Dallas, he would have been able at once to give his opinion when applied to by the executors; instead of which, when an application was made to him to join in opposing the intended publication, being ignorant of its nature, he was of course unable to express his approbation of the work so fully as he afterwards did.

The necessary arrangements being made, Mr. Dallas returned to France, for the purpose of taking steps for the simultaneous publication of a French translation, in Paris. Of this, further notice will be taken hereafter, and it is not necessary, for the
present, to refer to it. In passing through Southampton, Mr. Dallas paid a visit to his
niece, the sister of the present Lord Byron, who was in correspondence with Mrs. Leigh, the half sister of the late Lord Byron. Through her he sent a message to Mrs. Leigh, informing her of the nature of the Correspondence then in the press. This is worthy of remark, as it is one of the many assurances that the nature of the intended publication was such as could not but be satisfactory to the real friends of Lord Byron, which have been afforded to the parties who have prevented the Correspondence from being laid before the British public. This message was sent on the 20th of June, 1824, and it was faithfully forwarded to Mrs. Leigh.

On the 23d of June, however, Mr. Hobhouse addressed the following letter to Mr. Dallas:

“6, Albany, London, June 23.
Dear Sir,
J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

“I see by the newspapers, and I have heard from other quarters, that it is your intention to publish a volume of memoirs, interspersed with letters and other
documents relative to
Lord Byron. I cannot believe this to be the case, as from what I had the pleasure of knowing of you, I thought that you would never think of taking such a step without consulting, or at least giving warning to the family and more immediate friends of Lord Byron. As to the publication of Lord Byron’s private letters, I am certain, that for the present, at least, and without a previous inspection by his family, no man of honour and feeling can for a moment entertain such an idea—and I take the liberty of letting you know, that Mrs. Leigh, his Lordship’s sister, would consider such a measure as quite unpardonable.

“An intimacy of twenty years with his Lordship, may perhaps justify me in saying, that I am sure he would deprecate, had he any means of interfering, the exposure of his private writings, unless after very mature consultation with those who have the greatest interest in his fame and character, I mean his family and relations.

“I trust you will be so kind as to excuse me for my anxiety on this point, and for requesting you would have the goodness to make an early reply to this communication.

“Yours, very faithfully,
John C. Hobhouse.

It is particularly to be remarked, that this letter is written without professing to be by any other authority whatever than that which the writer’s “intimacy” with the late Lord Byron might give him. He
“takes the liberty of letting
Mr. Dallas know that Mrs. Leigh, his Lordship’s sister, would consider” the measure which he knew that gentleman had taken “to be quite unpardonable;” he has the modesty to acknowledge that this is a liberty; but he takes a very much greater liberty without any similar acknowledgment; he asserts, that “no man of honour and feeling can for a moment entertain such an idea,” as that which he writes to say he has seen by the newspapers, and has heard from other quarters, Mr. Dallas has not only entertained, but acted upon. But the principal point to be considered is, that Mr. Hobhouse writes, perhaps, in the character of Lord Byron’s “more immediate friend;” but that he does not hint at having any authority, and least of all, the authority of an Executor; and this for the strongest possible reason, that he was not then aware that he had been appointed Lord Byron’s executor, which fact he himself acknowledged upon a subsequent occasion. Certainly, on receiving this letter, Mr. Dallas had no idea of its being written by an exe-
cutor, nor is it to be concealed, that its receipt excited feelings of considerable irritation in his mind.

Very shortly after writing this letter, Mr. Hobhouse found himself associated with Mr. John Hanson, as executor to Lord Byron’s will; and not receiving any letter from Mr. Dallas, he, on the 30th June, called upon Mr. Knight, the publisher, taking with him a gentleman whom he introduced as Mr. Williams. This gentleman was to be witness to the conversation that might take place; though Mr. Hobhouse prefaced his object by expressions of a friendly tendency. Mr. Knight not having any reason to expect a visit of the nature which this proved to be, was not prepared with any one to stand in a similar situation on his part; but the very moment that the conference was ended he took notes of what had passed. Mr. Hobhouse stated, that he had written to Mr. Dallas, to complain of the indelicacy of publishing Lord Byron’s letters, before the interment of his remains; that Mrs. Leigh had not been consulted; and that Mr. Dallas had not
the concurrence of Lord Byron’s family in the intended publication;—that he called on Mr. Knight officially, as Executor, to say this, though when he wrote to Mr. Dallas he did not know that Lord Byron had appointed him one of his executors. Mr. Hobhouse thought Mr. Dallas had a right to publish Lord Byron’s letters to himself; but he doubted his right to publish those of Lord Byron to his mother. Mr. Knight said that he believed Mr. Dallas would be able to show that Lord Byron had given those letters to him. Mr. Hobhouse replied, that if Mr. Dallas failed in that, he should move for an Injunction. Mr. Knight said, that the question of delicacy, as to the time of publication, must be settled with Mr. Dallas;—that the publisher could only look to that question in a commercial view; but that having read the work carefully, he could distinctly state, that the family and the executors need feel no apprehensions as to its tendency, as the work was calculated to elevate Lord Byron’s moral and intellectual character. Mr. Hobhouse observed, that if individuals were
not spoken of with bitterness, and opinions very freely expressed in these letters, they were not like Lord Byron’s letters in general. He himself had a heap of Lord Byron’s letters, but he could never think of publishing them. The conference ended by Mr. Knight stating, that a friend of Mr. Dallas, a gentleman of high respectability, superintended the work through the press; that Mr. Hobhouse’s application should be mentioned to him;—but that he, Mr. Knight, was not then at liberty to mention that gentleman’s name.

Mr. Knight lost no time in informing the present editor of the conversation he had had with Mr. Hobhouse; and as the publisher had referred to some one intrusted by Mr. Dallas with the charge of conducting the progress of the work through the press, but had hesitated mentioning his name, not having authority to do so, the editor immediately addressed the following letter to Mr. Hobhouse, without however being aware of that which he had written to Mr. Dallas:—

Wooburn Vicarage, near Beaconsfield, Bucks,
3d July, 1824.

Mr. Knight has informed me of the conversation he has had with you upon the subject of Lord Byron’s correspondence.

“I might have expected that as you are not unacquainted with my father, his character would have been a sufficient guarantee of the proper nature of any work which should appear before the public under his direction; and I might naturally have hoped that it would have guarded him from the suspicion of impropriety or indelicacy. In the present case, both his general character as a christian and a gentleman, and his particular connexion with the family of Lord Byron, should have prevented the alarm which appears to have been excited in your mind, for I will not suppose the relations of Lord Byron and my father to have participated in it;—an alarm which I must consider as unjustifiable as it is ungrounded.

“Since these causes have not had their proper effect in your mind, it becomes necessary for me, as my father’s representative and agent in the whole of this business, distinctly to state, that the forthcoming correspondence of the late Lord Byron contains nothing which one gentleman ought not to write, nor another gentleman to publish. The work will speedily speak for itself, and will show that my father’s object has been to place the original character of Lord Byron’s mind in its true light, to show the much of good that was in it; and the work leaves him when the good became obscured in the much of evil that I fear afterwards pre-
dominated. There is no man on earth, Sir, who loved Lord Byron more truly, or was more jealous for his fair fame, than my father, as long as there was a possibility of his fame being fair; and though that possibility ceased, the affection remained, and will be evinced by the forthcoming endeavour to show that there existed in Lord Byron that which good men might have loved.

“As to any fear for the character of others who may be mentioned in the work, my father, Sir, is incapable of publishing personalities; and Lord Byron, at the time he corresponded with my father, was, I believe, incapable of writing what ought not to be published. If, at any subsequent period, in corresponding with others, he should have degraded himself to do so, I trust that his correspondents will be wise enough to abstain from making public what ought never to have been written.

“The letters which Lord Byron wrote to his mother were given by him unreservedly to my father, in a manner which seemed to have reference to their future publication; but which certainly rendered them my father’s property, to dispose of in what way he might think fit. Should you think it necessary to resort to any measures to obtain further proof of this, it will only tend to the more public establishing of the authenticity of these letters, and can only be considered as a matter of dispute of property, as Lord Byron’s best friends cannot but wish them published.

“Being charged by my father with the entire arrangement of this publication, you may have occasion to write to me; it may therefore be right to inform you that I have long since left the profession in which I was
engaged when we met at Cadiz; and, having taken orders, I have the ministerial charge of this parish; to which letters may be directed as this is dated.

“I remain,
“Your obedient Servant,
Alex. R. C. Dallas.

Although Mr. Dallas had not thought proper to reply to Mr. Hobhouse’s unauthorised communication, he did not leave it altogether unregarded; but, immediately upon receiving it, he wrote to Mrs. Leigh the following letter:—

Ste. Adresse, June 30th, 1824.
J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

“I have just received a letter, of which I inclose you a copy. I see by the direction, through what channel it has been forwarded to me. As the letter is signed by the son of a gentleman, I would answer it, could I do it in such a manner as to be of service to the mind of the writer, but having no hope of that, I shall content myself with practising the humility of putting up with it for the present. And here I should conclude my letter to you, did I not, my dear madam, remember you not only as the sister of Lord Byron, but as the cousin of the present Lord Byron and of Julia Heath. But in doing this, I cannot relinquish my feelings. I must profess that I do not believe that you authorised such a letter. That you should have
felt an anxiety upon the occasion, I think very natural, and I should have been glad to have prevented it. It was not my fault that it was not prevented, for (premising, however, that I neither saw nor do see any obligation to submit my conduct to the guidance of any relation of Lord B.’s) I took some pains to let my intention be known to his family, and even to communicate the nature of the publication I had in view. On the report of Lord B.’s death, I wrote to
George, and mentioned these papers; before I despatched my letter, his death was confirmed. I urged my wish to see George—I had no answer—I arrived in London, wrote to him and requested to see him—I inquired also if you were in town—the servant brought me word that both you and Lord B. were out of town, but that any letter should be forwarded—I was two days at the New Hummums, and I received no answer. I do not state this as being hurt at it—George had much to occupy him—but I soon after saw Julia Heath, who mentioned your anxiety. This channel of such a communication was natural, and certainly the next best to a direct one from yourself, which I trust would have reflected no dishonour on you—but I met the communication by my niece kindly, and sent you a message through her which she thought would please you, and certainly I did not mean to displease you by it. By that communication I must still abide, repeating only, that if, in the book I am about to publish, there is a sentence which should give you uneasiness, I should be totally at a loss to find it out myself. I will go further, my dear madam, and inform you, that Lord Byron was perfectly well ac-
quainted with the existence of my MS., and with my intention of publishing it, or rather of having it published when it pleased God to call him from this life—but I little suspected that I should myself see the publication of it. I own, too, that the MS., as intended for posthumous publication, does contain some things that would give you pain, and much that would make others blush—but, as I told Julia Heath, I wished as much as possible to avoid giving pain, even to those that deserved it, and I curtailed my MS. nearly a half. If I restore any portion of what I have crossed out, shall I not be justified by the insolence of the letter I have received from a pretended friend of Lord Byron, and who seems to be ignorant that a twenty years’ companionship may exist without a spark of friendship? I do not wonder at his agitation; it is for himself that he is agitated, not for Lord Byron. But I will not waste your time on this subject. I will conclude, by assuring you, that I feel that Lord B. will stand in my volume in the amiable point of view that he ought and would have stood always but for his friends.

“It was my purpose to order a copy of the volume to be sent to you. As I trust you will do me the honour by a few lines, to let me know that it was not your intention to have me insulted, I will hope still to have that pleasure.

“I am, dear madam,
“Yours, faithfully,
R. C. Dallas.”

It has been attempted to throw all the blame, in the whole of the subsequent transactions, upon this letter. Perhaps it might have been more desirable that it should not have been written immediately upon the receipt of one which was felt as an insult, however it might have been intended; and Mr. Dallas did not scruple afterwards to express his regret, not only for any expression in this letter which might appear to be intemperate or hasty, but for the irritated impulse which could produce it, and he has authorised the editor to state this publicly; in doing which, however, he cannot refrain from protesting against the misrepresentation to which the whole letter has been subjected. It appears that it has been distorted into the conveyance of a threat that the writer intended to insert in the proposed publication what would give pain to Mrs. Leigh, and make Lord Byron’s friends blush. No fair-judging person, after reading the whole of the letter, can conscientiously say that he rises from it with such an idea in his mind. In a subsequent letter to the editor, Mr. Dallas
strongly points this out. He says, “It must be a resolution to misunderstand the letter, to say that I intended to restore what I had erased. ‘If (conditional) in the book I am about to publish, there is a sentence which can give you uneasiness I should be totally at a loss to find it myself.’ Can any doubt exist after reading this? ‘As intended for publication.’—‘If I restore any portion.’ I have read the letter again, and do not think it affords the ground for blame thrown upon me, after having thought well of it.”

But besides that no such intention can fairly be gathered from the letter, it must not be forgotten to be observed, that in stating that the manuscript, as intended for posthumous publication, does contain some things which would give Lord Byron’s sister pain, the writer only meant to suppose that a sister must feel pain on being told of the errors of a brother. It was not in his mind to convey an idea that Mrs. Leigh would feel pain on her own account from any thing which was disclosed in the original manuscript. The Editor has read that manu-
script, which is now in his possession, with great care, more than once, and has been unable to discover one word that could have that tendency. How is it, then, that upon the ground which this letter is said to afford, that the correspondence “contained observations upon or affecting persons now living, and the publication of which is likely to occasion considerable pain to such persons*,” such an alarm was excited in the mind of Mrs. Leigh?

That a very great alarm was excited, which ultimately led to the legal proceedings, is most certain. The letter was sent to the present Lord Byron as proof of the offensiveness of the proposed publication, and an immediate answer required of him to sanction the opposition to it. His conduct was indeed very different. In a subsequent letter to the editor (dated 11th July), he says, “I was applied to for my opinion. I answered, that if they had good grounds that any part of the work was likely to hurt the feelings of any relations, that the work ought to be inspected by one or two of his

* Quoted from the Bill in Chancery, filed by Messrs Hobhouse and Hanson.

Lord Byron’s) relatives; but, I added, if I knew Mr. Dallas, as I thought I did, I was convinced he could not object to show the work to Lady Noel Byron as a relative; but I felt convinced there was nothing in it that could reflect discredit on the deceased, or any one related to him—that I knew my uncle’s opinion was highly in favour of the late Lord Byron, as his admiration was unbounded of his genius. Besides the correspondence between them was of a date far before any domestic misery ensued. I felt distressed at being applied to, and not being on the spot could not say what had taken place.”

The Editor has good grounds for believing that a similar application was made to Lady Noel Byron on the subject, who declined interfering in the matter.

Previously, however, to any legal steps being pursued, Mrs. Leigh wrote the following answer to Mr. Dallas’s letter:—

St. James’s Palace, July 3, 1824.

“I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 30th June, and am sorry to observe the spirit in which it was written.


“In consequence of the message you sent me through Mrs. Heath, (confirming the report of your intention to publish your manuscript,) I applied to Mr. Hobhouse, requesting him to write to you, and expressing to him that I did, as I still do, think that it would be quite unpardonable to publish private letters of my poor brother’s without previously consulting his family. I selected Mr. Hobhouse as the most proper person to communicate with you, from his being my brother’s executor, and one of his most intimate and confidential friends, although, perhaps, I might have hesitated between him and the present Lord Byron, (our mutual relative,) had not the illness and hurry of business of the latter, determined me not to add to his annoyances—and I must also state, that I was ignorant of your communication to him until I received your letter.

I feel equal regret and surprise at your thinking it necessary to call upon me to disclaim an intention of “having you insulted,”—regret, that you should so entirely misunderstand my feelings; and surprise, because after having repeatedly read over Mr. Hobhouse’s letter, I cannot discover in it one word which could lead to such a conclusion on your part.

“Hoping that this explanation may prove satisfactory,

“I remain, Sir,
“Your obedient servant,
Augusta Leigh.

There are several curious points in this letter, to which it will be necessary to draw the attention of the reader. Mr. Dallas’s
message to
Mrs. Leigh, sent through Mrs. Heath, was one which he states in his letter “She (Mrs. Heath) thought would please her, and that certainly he did not mean to displease her by it.” He refers to that communication, and repeats (in writing what before had been only verbal) that “if in the book he was about to publish, there was a sentence which should give her uneasiness, he should be totally at a loss to find it out himself.” The object of the message was, to assure Mrs. Leigh of the harmless, not to say pleasing, nature of the intended publication; and yet, in referring to the message, and acknowledging the receipt of a letter which contained a repetition of it in writing, she only observes that it “confirmed the report of Mr. Dallas’s intention to publish his manuscript” and that, in consequence, she requested Mr. Hobhouse to let him know that she should think his conduct would be unpardonable. It is also somewhat strange, that having been so applied to by Lord Byron’s sister, Mr. Hobhouse, who at that time had no title to authority for making such a
communication in his own name, should not have stated the title which such an application from a near relation seemed to give him, and have written to Mr. Dallas as by direction of Mrs. Leigh, instead of merely “taking the liberty of letting him know” what Mrs. Leigh thought about the matter.

But there is a still more extraordinary circumstance in this letter. Mr. Hobhouse’s conversation with Mr. Knight, which took place before Mr. Williams who came to act as witness, has been verified upon oath by Mr. Knight, from whose affidavit, registered in the Court of Chancery, the following is an extract:—

“On the 30th of June last, said plaintiff, John Cam Hobhouse, told defendant, Charles Knight, that he, said plaintiff, John Cam Hobhouse, had written such letter to said defendant, Robert Charles Dallas, and at the same time, told defendant, Charles Knight, that he, said plaintiff, John Cam Hobhouse, did not, at the time when he wrote said letter, know that he, said last-
named plaintiff, had been appointed an executor of the said
Lord Byron.”

Thus it appears, that at the time of writing the letter in question, Mr. Hobhouse was ignorant that he was the legal representative of Lord Byron; but, from Mrs. Leigh’s letter, it also appears that she was not ignorant of that circumstance, since it was the special motive which induced her to “select Mr. Hobhouse,” as the proper person to communicate with Mr. Dallas in preference to “the present Lord Byron, a mutual relative.” As, therefore, it is impossible to suppose, that the lady in question could state what was not true; we can only wonder that, being privy to the contents of her brother’s will, and knowing whom he had chosen to be his executors, she should never have informed them of the selection he had made.

The appearance of the Correspondence was promised to the public on the 12th of July, 1824; and it had nearly gone through the press when, on the 7th of July, Messrs.
Hobhouse and Hanson, as the legal representatives of the late Lord Byron, filed a Bill in Chancery, and, in consequence, obtained, on the same day, from the Vice-Chancellor, an Injunction to restrain the publication. This Bill was founded upon the joint affidavit of the executors, the matter of which, divested of its technicalities, was as follows:—

The deponents swear, that in the years 1809, 1810, and part of 1811, Lord Byron was travelling in various countries, from whence he wrote letters to his mother, Mrs. Catherine Gordon Byron, “that such letters were principally of a private and confidential nature, and none of them were intended to be published.” That Mrs. C. G. Byron died in the year 1811, intestate, and that Lord Byron being properly constituted her legal personal representative, possessed himself of these letters, and became absolutely and wholly entitled to them as his sole property. The deponents then swear, “that they have been informed, and verily believe, that the said Lord Byron was in the habits of correspon-
dence with
Robert Charles Dallas,” and that, in the course of such correspondence, Lord Byron wrote letters, “many of which were, as the said deponents believe, of a private and confidential nature”—“and that the said Lord Byron being about again to leave this country, deposited in the hands of the said Robert Charles Dallas for safe custody, all, and every, or a great many of the said letters, which he had written and sent to his mother*.” And that, at the time of Lord Byron’s death, such letters were in the custody of the said R. C. Dallas, together with those which his Lordship had written to him. Lord Byron’s change of name to Noel Byron, and his death, are then sworn to; and also his will, and the proving of it, by which the deponents became his Lordship’s legal representatives.

Messrs. Hobhouse and Hanson then swear, “that soon after the death of the

* The exact words of the affidavit are quoted when they relate to important points, which will be afterwards referred to in this narrative, that the reader may judge fairly for himself.

Lord Byron was known in England, the said R. C. Dallas, as the said deponents verily believe, formed a scheme, or plan, to print and publish the same, and with a view to such printing and publishing, pretended to be the absolute owner of all the said letters,” and disposed of “such pretended copyright” for a considerable sum of money. Then the advertisement of the Correspondence is sworn to, and the belief of the deponents to the identity of the letters advertised for publication, with those before referred to in the affidavit. The affidavit goes on to affirm, “that the said Robert Charles Dallas never apprised him the said deponent, John Cam Hobhouse, of his intention to print and publish the said letters, or any of them.” And Mr. Hobhouse swears that he wrote the letter of the 23d of June to Mr. Dallas; and he swears too that he got no answer; but he swears that, on the 30th of June, he “called on the said Charles Knight, and warned him not to proceed with the printing and publication of the said letters, and informed him that if he persevered in his intention,” the two
deponents, Messrs. Hobhouse and Hanson, “would, most probably, take legal means to restrain him.”

The affidavit next states, that the deponents verily believe that Lord Byron’s letters to his mother “were wholly written and composed by him, and that he did not deliver the same to the said R. C. Dallas, for the purpose of publication, but to be disposed of as he, the said Lord Byron, might direct.” And that he never meant nor intended that they should be published—that they were, as the deponents verily believe, at the time of Lord Byron’s death, his own sole and absolute property; and that they now belong to the said deponents, as his legal personal representatives. The deponents go on to swear that the letters written by Lord Byron to Mr. Dallas were, as they verily believe, “also wholly written and composed by the said Lord Byron; and that such letters are not, and never were, the sole and absolute property of the said R. C. Dallas; but that the said Lord Byron, in his life time had, and the said deponents, as his legal represen-
tatives, now have, at least, a partial and qualified property in such letters,” which has never been relinquished or abandoned; and that Lord Byron never intended or gave permission to Mr. Dallas to publish them or any part of them.

Then comes the following clause, “And the said deponents verily believe, that the said several letters were written in the course of private and confidential correspondence, and the said deponents believe that many of them contain observations upon, or affecting, persons now living; and that the publication of them is likely to occasion considerable pain to such persons.”

The Affidavit closes with the affirmation that the publication in question was intended to be made for the profit and advantage of the defendants; and “that such publication was, as the deponents conceived and believed, a breach of private confidence, and a violation of the rights of property,” which, as the representatives of Lord Byron, they had in the letters.


Previous to stating the reply to this Affidavit, it may not be improper to make some observations upon the nature of its contents. It contains matter of opinion; but no matter of fact relating to the point in question. There is a great deal of belief expressed, but not one reasonable ground upon which the belief is founded.

J. G. Lockhart, “Lord Byron”
Pietro Gamba, Last Journey to Greece

It is really a matter of surprise that any one should so implicitly believe that to be fact, which, upon the face of the business, he can only suppose to be so. Mr. Hobhouse never saw or read the letters written by Lord Byron to his mother, yet he swears (and in this case without the mention, that he verily believes; but as of his own knowledge,) “that such letters were principally of a private and confidential nature.” Any one might suppose that a man writing to his mother may write confidentially; but few men would allow that supposition so much weight in their minds, as to enable them to swear that it was so. Mr. Hobhouse was travelling with Lord Byron during the time when many of these
letters were written, and probably he supposes that his Lordship may have often mentioned him to his mother. This seems an equally natural supposition with the other; and if it should have entered into Mr. Hobhouse’s head, he would, by analogy, be equally ready to swear, not that he supposed he was often mentioned, but that he really was so. And yet, after reading Lord Byron’s letters to his mother, it would never be gathered from them that his Lordship had any companion at all in his travels, as he always writes in the first person singular; except, indeed, that Mr. Hobhouse’s name is mentioned in an enumeration of his suite; and, upon parting with him, Lord Byron expresses his satisfaction at being alone.

To the assertion respecting these unseen letters, Mr. Hobhouse adds, that “none of them were intended to be published.” If it is meant to say, that they were not written with the intention of being published, as the sentence may seem to imply, nobody will deny the fact. If they had been, they would not have con-
tained the natural and unrestrained development of character which makes them valuable to the public now. But their not having been written with the intention of publication, by no means precludes the possibility of
Lord Byron himself subsequently intending them to be published. Mr. Dallas has it in his Lordship’s own hand-writing, that he did subsequently intend part of them, at least, to be published; because, having kept no other journal, he meant to cut up these letters into notes for the first and second Cantos of Childe Harold. This was, however, previous to his having given them to Mr. Dallas.

The same observation as that which has been made upon Mr. Hobhouse’s swearing that Lord Byron’s letters to his mother were confidential, will equally apply to his swearing that he believes his Lordship’s letters to Mr. Dallas were so also. But when he swears “that Lord Byron, being about again to leave this country, deposited the letters to his mother in the hands of R. C. Dallas for safe custody;”—when he states this upon oath, not as verily believing
it—not as supposing it—but as knowing that it was so—without stating any ground whatever for his knowledge of a circumstance in which he had been in no way concerned, it is hardly possible to conjecture how extensive Mr. Hobhouse’s interpretation of an oath may become. Upon this subject I cannot forbear inserting an extract from a letter written by Mr. Dallas to his publisher from Paris, immediately that he was informed of the issuing of the injunction, and before he was fully made acquainted with the whole circumstances. He says, “so far from thinking it wrong to publish such a correspondence, I feel that it belongs in a manner to the public; and that I have no right to withhold it. If the
Vice-Chancellor has been made acquainted with the spirit of the work, there is an end to the injunction; for as to the property in the letters from Lord Byron to his mother the affidavit sets that at rest*; and in the

* He alludes to an affidavit relating principally to this point, which he sent in this letter the moment he heard of

volume itself it may be seen that Mr. Hobhouse made a false assertion (I hope it was not upon oath,) in his application for the injunction, when he says that Lord Byron deposited them with me for safe custody only, when his Lordship was going abroad. The text shows, that I have long considered them as mine, before Lord Byron thought of leaving England; and that he also considered them so. There was no memorandum made of the circumstance; it was a gift made personally, and as had happened in the case of
Childe Harold and of the Corsair. What can be more conclusive than the words with which he accompanied the gift? The additional words I allude to, conveyed an idea of some dissatisfaction with others, and a feeling that my attachment and judgment were more to be relied upon. I trust that the circumstances have been made clear to the Vice-Chancellor;

the Injunction; but which, not being sufficiently full upon other points, was not made use of in the legal proceedings.

and that all the disgraceful insinuation of the application, that I am capable of publishing letters which ought not to be made public, has been wiped away. I shall be glad to find this carried even so far as to show, that, although I did not strictly or morally hold myself bound to submit my intentions of publishing to the direction of Lord Byron’s family, I was attentive to their feelings, and that it was not my fault that a communication did not take place upon the subject. As to any delicacy towards the executors, I declare to you, on my honour, that till I saw it afterwards in a public newspaper, I did not know that the executors of Lord Byron were those confidential friends, the Mr. H’s, though one of them (Mr. Hobhouse) had thought proper to give me counsel in very improper language.” “Again, why should Lord Byron deposit these letters with me for safe custody, when these two confidential friends were at hand, and other confidential friends, and his sister? There is an absurdity on the face of the assertion.”

It is not intended here to answer Mr.
Hobhouse’s statements, which will be better met by the counter-affidavits themselves, but merely to make some necessary observations; and, amongst them, it is impossible not to observe, with regret, that Messrs. Hobhouse and Hanson, in swearing that they proved Lord Byron’s will in the proper Ecclesiastical Court, and became his Lordship’s legal representatives, did not insert the date of the probate, or even the period when their appointment came to their knowledge*. Such an insertion might have prevented all obscurity in a subsequent part of the affidavit, where it is sworn, “that on the 23d June last, being soon after the deponents were informed of such intention, (of publishing,) deponent, John Cam Hobhouse, wrote and sent a letter of that date to R. C. Dallas, representing to him the impropriety of publishing said letters.” As the passage stands, it does not appear whether Mr. Hobhouse wrote

* It was understood that Lord Byron’s will was not to be opened till his remains arrived in England;—the vessel which bore those remains reached the Nore on the 1st of July, seven days after the date of Mr. Hobhouse’s letter to Mr. Dallas.

as “the more immediate friend” of Lord Byron, or with the authority of an executor. The difference is somewhat material; and as the affidavit mentions that the letter was written soon after the deponents (in the plural number) were informed of Mr. Dallas’s intention, it certainly wants the information which the reader now possesses, but which the affidavit does not supply, to make it clear that he wrote merely as “the more immediate friend.”

But the said deponents “verily believe” that Mr. Dallas formed a scheme to print and publish the letters “soon after the death of Lord Byron was known in England” What could possibly have been the grounds of a belief so firm, that the persons believing come forward to attest it by affidavit in a Court of Justice? The gravamen of the matter is, that the scheme was formed soon after Lord Byron’s death was known, and not before; and this Messrs. Hobhouse and Hanson swear they believe to be the case. A dozen persons of the highest respectability read the letters arranged for publication, in the first intended memoir,
years before Lord Byron’s death; some of whom state it upon oath, and all the others would have done so if it had been considered necessary by the legal advisers. It is to be lamented that so much firm faith has been thrown away upon so slight a foundation; and it is to be hoped, that the persons who can believe so easily are not inconsistently difficult of belief, upon points which will hereafter more materially concern themselves.

When it was known that the injunction had been obtained, intelligence of it was forwarded to Mr. Dallas, at Paris, and his immediate presence was required in London. The following certificate, enclosed in a letter from a friend, was the reply received to this communication:—

“This is to certify that Robert Charles Dallas is now labouring under a very severe attack of inflammation of the chest, which was attended by fever and delirium;—that he is now under my professional care, and that his symptoms were of so dangerous a character as to render large bleedings ne-
cessary, even at his advanced age. He is at present better, but certainly unable to undertake a journey.

“Given under my hand at Paris, Rue du Mail, Hotel de Mars, this 11th day of July, 1824.

David Barry, M. D.

In consequence of this unfortunate illness it became necessary to send out a commission from the Court of Chancery, to receive Mr. Dallas’s answer at Paris. This occasioned considerable expense, and a delay which was regretted at the time; but it afterwards appeared that the decision in the cause could not have been hastened even had no obstacle of this nature intervened.

The Answer was founded upon several affidavits, of which the first was that of Mr. Dallas himself, wherein he “denies it to be true, that the letters of Lord Byron to his mother were principally of a private and confidential nature; but, on the contrary, affirms that such letters were principally of a general nature; and for the most part con-
sisted of accounts and descriptions of various places which the said Lord Byron visited, and scenes which he witnessed, and adventures which he encountered, and remarkable persons whom he met with in the course of his travels, and observations upon the manners, customs, and curiosities of foreign countries and people; and although he admitted that in some of such letters matters were mentioned, or alluded to, of a private nature, yet he swears that such matters of a private nature were only occasionally and incidentally mentioned or alluded to, and did not form the principal contents or subjects of the letters.” And he further says, that “to the best of his judgment and belief none of these letters are of a confidential or secret nature,” or contain any matters of such a nature.

Mr. Dallas goes on to swear, that “being in habits of friendship and correspondence with Lord Byron, as Mr. Hobhouse had stated, in the course of that friendship his Lordship gave him, as free and absolute gifts, the copyrights of the first and second Cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and
of the
Corsair,” which gifts were respectively made by word of mouth and delivery of the original manuscripts to him; and that a considerable portion of the letters from Lord Byron to himself were written “at the times when the poems were preparing for or in the course of publication,” and that they “contained or related to divers alterations, additions, and amendments which were from time to time made, or proposed to be made in the poems, or otherwise related to them,”—and that “other parts of these letters related to matters of general literature, morals, and politics, and other subjects of a general nature, and the individual opinions and feelings of Lord Byron;” and that “some very few parts of such letters related to other private matters, which were only occasionally and incidentally mentioned or alluded to therein, and did not form the principal contents or subjects of such letters, and were not in any respect of a confidential or secret nature.”

Mr. Dallas then states, in his affidavit, that Lord Byron thought of leaving England in 1816, but that “in or about the
month of April, 1812, he being in conversation* with Lord Byron, his Lordship promised to bring and give to him a letter which he had written to his mother on the matter which formed the subject of such conversation, and that some time afterwards, that is to say, in the month of June, 1814, Lord Byron, in performance of such promise, brought, and gave, and delivered to him not only the letter so promised, but also all the rest of the letters which he, Lord Byron, had written to his mother, and at the same time he addressed to Mr. Dallas the following words:—

“Take them.—They are yours to do what you please with. Some day or other they will be curiosities.”

From this Mr. Dallas swears that he “believes that Lord Byron in so delivering these letters to him, and addressing him in this manner, did fully intend to give the same letters and every of them, and the copyright

* The sale of Newstead Abbey was the subject of these conversations.

thereof, and all his, Lord Byron’s, property, right, title, and interest therein to him, Mr. Dallas, for his own use and benefit, as a free and absolute gift, in the same manner as he had given the copyrights of the poems;” and further, “that at the time of this gift Lord Byron contemplated the probability of the letters being afterwards published by Mr. Dallas.”

The deponent distinctly denies that the letters were left with him for safe custody; and alleges that Lord Byron did not leave England until 1816, that is, two years after the gift of the letters.

The affidavit further states, that for several years previous to the death of Lord Byron the deponent was engaged in compiling and writing memoirs of his life and writings, and that in these memoirs were inserted and embodied many of the letters both to Mrs. C. G. Byron and to himself; and that he did so for the purpose of illustrating and giving authority to the memoirs, and of placing in a just and favourable point of view the conduct, character, and opinions of Lord Byron, their insertion being essential to the illustrating and giving au-
thority to the memoirs; and that for many years previous to the death of Lord Byron, he had formed the intention and plan to publish these letters in the beforementioned memoirs; and that Lord Byron, so long ago as the year 1819, was aware of his intention and plan so to publish them. The letter to Lord Byron, inserted in the last chapter of the following Recollections, is there sworn to; with the addition, that his Lordship never applied to, or requested
Mr. Dallas to desist or abstain from publishing the memoirs, nor from inserting in them any of the letters in his possession.

These are the important parts of the affidavit made by Mr. Dallas, although it necessarily follows the whole of the Bill filed against him, denying or admitting its several allegations, as the case requires. There is, however, one other part of the affidavit which is important, though only matter of opinion. It states, that to the best of Mr. Dallas’s judgment and belief, the publication of the correspondence as advertised, “will be of considerable service to the cause of literature and poetry, as being illustrative of many of the best
poems, and other valuable works, of the said
Lord Byron; and will also tend greatly to improve and exalt the public estimation of his conduct, character, and opinions.”

The affidavits of Mr. Charles Knight and Mr. Henry Colburn follow, which are mere matters of form; except only as far as relates to the conversation which Mr. Knight held with Mr. Hobhouse on the 30th June. An extract from Mr. Knight’s affidavit has been already given, in which he states, that Mr. Hobhouse declared to him that he did not know he was Lord Byron’s executor at the time he wrote to Mr. Dallas. Mr. Knight, who had read all the letters, also swears, that none of them were of a confidential nature.

The affidavit of the Editor of the present work is the next. It states, that he had frequently seen and read the original manuscript of the memoirs first compiled by his father, containing the letters in question; and knew, so long ago as 1822, of his intention to publish them at a future period. That, in that year, Mr. Dallas deposited
the original manuscript in his hands, with directions to publish it in such manner as he should think fit, after the death of
Lord Byron; Mr. Dallas assuming that he should die before his Lordship. The affidavit then details the change which took place in this intention, and the alterations in the work, to fit it for publication when Lord Byron’s death was known; declaring, at the same time, the deponent’s opinion, that as now intended for publication, there is not a single passage in the letters which could affect or injure the character, or give pain to the feelings of any person whomsoever. The Editor corroborates the testimony already given, that none of the letters were of a confidential nature. He swears that the present Lord Byron has read the intended publication, and knows of the intention to publish it; that he has never expressed to the present Editor any disapprobation of or objection to the publication; but, on the contrary, has expressed to him his concurrence in, and approbation of it. The Editor also swears, that for several years previously to the death of Lord Byron,
he had frequently heard Mr. Dallas declare that his Lordship had made him a present of his letters to his mother; and had also frequently seen in Mr. Dallas’s possession a bundle of letters inclosed in a cover or envelope, on which was written “Letters of Lord Byron to his mother, given to me by him, June, 1814;” or words to that effect.

The only other corroborative affidavit which the legal advisers thought necessary to make use of, was one made by Alexander Young Spearman, Esq., who states, that so long ago as the year 1822, he had read the manuscript memoir in which was embodied the letters in question; and that, to the best of his judgment, there was nothing contained in the work or in the letters which could lower the character of Lord Byron, or which was of a confidential or secret nature; but, on the contrary, that from reading them, he had formed a higher and better opinion of the character and conduct of Lord Byron than he had previously entertained; and that the letters were, for the most part, upon subjects of
general and public interest; and of such a nature, that their publication would be an advantage to the cause of literature, and no breach of honour or confidence.

From the substance of these affidavits, it may probably strike the reader as singular, that Mr. Dallas himself should have said nothing concerning the approbation of the present Lord Byron; while the Editor swears directly to his knowledge of, and concurrence in, the publication. To account for this, and to prove how ready both the Author of the memoirs and the Editor were to make any reasonable arrangement by which the pledge to the public might be fulfilled, it will be necessary to state some circumstances which occurred previous to the filing of the Answer to the Bill in Chancery; which, as has already been shown, was unavoidably delayed.

The present Lord and Lady Byron happened to be on a visit to the Editor at his house at Wooburn, towards the end of July; and there they had an opportunity of reading the whole of the work as intended
for publication, and which had so nearly gone through the press, that they read three-fourths of it in print. Whatever pain Lord Byron might feel on account of the early development of the seeds of vice in his predecessor and near relation, he felt immediately that the work was highly calculated to raise his Lordship’s character from the depth into which it had subsequently fallen; and he unreservedly expressed his wish that the publication should proceed. A single passage in the narrative part, which was observed upon by Lord Byron, was omitted according to his desire. With these feelings he endeavoured, in the kindest manner, to clear away the obstacles which impeded its progress; and fearing lest his former reply to the sudden demand for his opinion upon the subject, as it had been conditional, might be construed into direct disapprobation, he expressed himself ready to state his concurrence in the publication. The following affidavit was accordingly drawn up, with the approbation of his own legal adviser:—


George Anson, Lord Byron, maketh oath, and saith, that he well knows the defendant, R. C. Dallas, who is the uncle of this deponent, and that he well knows that the said R. C. Dallas was formerly in the habit of corresponding with the late George Gordon, Lord Byron, to whom the deponent is the nearest male relation and successor. And this deponent further saith, that having been informed that a certain work was proposed to be published by the said R. C. Dallas, and to include certain letters written by the said George Gordon, Lord Byron, to him, and to Mrs. Catharine Gordon Byron, the mother of the said George Gordon, Lord Byron, this deponent declared his reluctance to such publication taking place until the said work should have been examined by the relatives and friends of the said George Gordon, Lord Byron; and that the said deponent now maketh oath and saith, that he has since read the said work, entitled “Private Correspondence, &c.;” and the letters from the said George Gordon, Lord Byron, to
his mother, and to tie defendant, R. C. Dallas, included therein; and this deponent further saith, that he does not now entertain any objection to the publication of the said work.”

This affidavit received the sanction of Lord Byron; but it having been ascertained that the executors did not intend to make any use of the conditional opinion that his Lordship had expressed, it was not thought necessary that he should swear it; as from motives of delicacy it was wished if possible not to mix him up with a dispute in which he stood in close connexion with both sides. Nothing but the absolute necessity which now exists of making the public fully acquainted with all the circumstances connected with this strange proceeding, would induce the Editor to refer to him. As, however, his Lordship’s conduct throughout the whole business has been not only manly and open, but also guided by art amiable desire of conciliation, the public mention of these transactions can only be a testimony highly to his credit.


In consequence of what had taken place, Lord Byron called on Mr. Hobhouse, and personally stated his own knowledge of the nature of the work, and his opinion respecting the propriety of its publication. He also stated, that he knew the Editor was by no means averse to enter into any reasonable arrangement by which the difficulties in the minds of the executors might be overcome. It appears that the plea by which their opposition was defended, was, that other persons possessed letters of the late Lord Byron, which it would be highly improper to give to the public; and that the executors felt it their duty to establish their right to prevent the publication of any letters. However, Mr. Hobhouse supposed that matters might be arranged if Mr. Dallas would consent to insert in the title-page of the work, “published by permission of the executors,” of course submitting it first to the inspection of some person approved of by them.

Upon immediate consultation with the Editor, he declined giving a promise that such words should be used until he had
seen his legal advisers; but he authorised Lord Byron to state that he perfectly concurred in the spirit of the proposed arrangement, and offered at once to submit the work to the inspection of a friend of Lord Byron’s, well known to the executors, but with whom the Editor himself was totally unacquainted, and to abide by his opinion. This was mentioned within the same hour to
Mr. Hobhouse, who was satisfied with the person named, and promised to consult his colleague, Mr. Hanson, upon the business. It may not be improper here to insert part of a letter, written by Mr. Dallas to the Editor, upon hearing of this proposal:

“As to an executor’s veto—shall an executor be allowed to decide on the publication of a work (letters) on general topics, when it may be enough that there is in it a difference of opinion on religion, morality, or politics? This is an argument which should be strongly urged. I see neither law nor equity in such a veto, yet do not deny either, if the letters are libellous; but
this is not to be vaguely supposed, and my letter to
Mrs. Leigh, far from supporting such a suggestion, supports the contrary.” “However, I do not wish to keep up contention, and have no objection (go which way the Chancellor’s decision may) to say, printed with consent of the executors—and they will be foolish not to consent, for the circulation of the work would be but wider if they do not; so act in this as you judge best. But I do not think the sheets should be shown to him. *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      * I believe I cut out the Portsmouth anecdote. I know I did, and he is hardly even alluded to in any of the letters; but he ought not to see it.” “The Chancellor’s dissolving this injunction is no reason why he should not grant injunctions against the publications of Moore or * * * which, unsupported by such an answer and such testimonies as mine, might be confirmed. Our case does not decide the general question: our documents take it out of the general case of publishing injurious letters.”

While Mr. Hobhouse went to consult
his colleague, the
Editor applied to his legal advisers, by whom certain legal difficulties, about the word “permission,” were stated to him. In consequence of what there took place, he drew out the following statement, which he gave to Lord Byron as the ground for the future conducting of the negotiation.

Mr. Dallas has no objection to insert the following advertisement after the title page of the work.


“The publication of this work having been delayed in consequence of an injunction from the Court of Chancery, obtained on the application of the executors of Lord Byron, it is proper to state upon their authority that the work had not been submitted to their inspection, when they entertained their objection to its publication; but that, having since been made acquainted with its contents, they have withdrawn their objection, and consented to the dissolution of the injunction.”


“If the objection of the executors of the late Lord Byron be, that the publication of this work should not be drawn into a precedent by others, for giving to the world their improper and unauthorised compilations relative to Lord Byron, it is presumed that this advertisement will be considered sufficient for that purpose.

“If the executors do not consider this to be sufficient for that purpose, Mr. Dallas would only object to the words ‘published by permission of the executors of the late Lord Byron,’ being printed with the work, inasmuch as it may seem to acknowledge a property as belonging to the executors, which he does not acknowledge to belong to them—but to meet the supposed object of the executors, as above stated, Mr. Dallas will consent to the insertion of those words, if the executors will sign a paper to the following effect:—

“‘We, the executors of the late Lord Byron, hereby assign and make over to R. C. Dallas, his heirs, executors, or assigns, all and every interest, property, right, claim, or demand whatsoever, (if any such
we have,) in such letters of the said Lord Byron as are inserted in a work, entitled ‘Private Correspondence of Lord Byron, &c. &c.’ whether such letters are addressed to the said R. C. Dallas, or to
Mrs. Catherine Gordon Byron, the mother of the said Lord Byron.’”

In the mean time, however, the two executors had consulted together, and Lord Byron received the following communication from Mr. Hobhouse:—

“I saw Mr. Hanson this evening, and have to inform you, that he objects to stopping the proceedings until the question can be laid before counsel, after your friend Mr. Dallas has filed his affidavits, or made his answer.”

This opening being thus closed up, the answer and affidavits were filed. Whether the question of negotiation was laid before counsel or not, Mr. Hanson best knows; but all that the Editor can say is, that four affidavits were immediately filed, intended to oppose the dissolution of the injunction.

The first was the affidavit of William
Fletcher, in which he swears that he had lived with Lord Byron for the last eighteen years, as his Lordship’s valet and head servant, and accompanied him abroad in the month of April, 1816. He then declares, “that when he was with Lord Byron at Venice, in the latter end of the year 1816, or the beginning of 1817, in a conversation which he then and there had with his Lordship, touching his property and things which he had left behind him in England, the deponent represented to him, that some of his (Fletcher’s) property had been seized by his Lordship’s creditors, together with his own property, when Lord Byron stated to the deponent, that he would make good his (Fletcher’s) loss. And he, the said Lord Byron, then told the deponent, that he was extremely glad that he the said Lord Byron had taken care of most of the things that were of most consequence to him, such as letters and papers, which he thought of more consequence than all they had seized; for that he the said Lord Byron had before left them with several of
his friends to be taken care of for him; some with
Mr. Hobhouse, others with Mrs. Leigh, and others with Mr. Dallas, meaning the above-named defendant, Robert Charles Dallas, at the same time saying to deponent, ‘You know Mr. Dallas, he who used so often to call on me,’ or to that effect.”

To this assertion Fletcher adds his opinion and impression, that in speaking of the letters and papers so left in the care of Mr. Dallas, Lord Byron spoke of them as his own property, and did not convey to Fletcher’s mind any notion that he had given them to Mr. Dallas.

It was really necessary that Fletcher should have sworn to his impression and opinion, as to the proprietor of the papers so left, for, from the subject of the conversation, in the course of which they were casually mentioned, it seems doubtful whether Fletcher did not think Lord Byron meant that they were his (Fletcher’s) property, to make up for the loss of the articles seized by his lordship’s creditors. This interpretation however would militate against Mr. Hobhouse’s affidavit, where
he swears that Lord Byron never meant the letters to be published, as the only value they could have been to Fletcher would be from the “valuable consideration” which he might obtain for their publication.

But no; this was not Fletcher’s idea of the matter. He understood that whatever papers Lord Byron left with Mr. Dallas were left for safe custody, because, as Mr. Hobhouse says, he was going to leave England.

It is somewhat singular that leaving papers and letters, several boxes containing great quantities of them, as is afterwards sworn, which he considered of more consequence than the goods and chattels of which his creditors had deprived him, with Mr. Hobhouse and Mrs. Leigh, Lord Byron should have selected a very small bundle of particular letters, and left them, and them only, in the charge of another person nearly two years before he went abroad. So small and particular a selection from the great mass of his papers seems strange, unless, having high value for them, he did not consider that which was safe
custody for his other papers was safe custody for these. But there is a stranger circumstance, too, which under the supposition that the letters were so left for special safe custody when he was going abroad, is not only strange but absolutely unaccountable. In the autumn of the same year, 1814, on which this sacred deposit was supposed to be made, and only a few months after, the person to whom this precious charge was given, took the very step, the intention of doing which is said to have produced the deposit. He left the country and went abroad; and on the day before he set off from London, in conversation with Lord Byron, he told him that his object in then going, was to seek the most eligible place for a future residence for himself and his family abroad. Yet did nothing pass upon the subject of such a deposit. A communication took place between them, when
Mr. Dallas was at Bordeaux, in Dec. 1814. And when, in March, 1815, the return of Buonaparte to France brought him home again, he visited Lord Byron as before; yet did nothing pass upon the subject of
such a deposit. At the end of the year 1815, Mr. Dallas took his family abroad and settled in Normandy, taking with him the letters which Lord Byron had made him a present of. Lord Byron knew of this second going abroad, and heard from Mr. Dallas when he had fixed upon his place of residence; yet did nothing pass upon the subject of such a deposit.

But to come nearer to the time mentioned in Fletcher’s affidavit, that in which his conversation occurred with Lord Byron. In the beginning of the very same year, 1816, his lordship, being then about to leave England, himself proposed to Mr. Dallas’s son, (the Editor who now writes this narrative,) to accompany him in his travels. A long conversation took place upon the subject, in which Mr. Dallas was mentioned; and perhaps the Editor will be pardoned, under the present circumstances, for adding that he was mentioned by Lord Byron with a grateful feeling, as “one of his oldest and best friends.” His place of residence was referred to; and yet not one word passed that had the least reference to
any deposit of papers or letters as having been made to him. If Lord Byron had given valuable papers in charge to Mr. Dallas for safe custody, when his lordship was going abroad, would it not have been natural that he should resume them when he found that the person with whom he had deposited them was himself in the situation which had induced him to put them out of his own custody? And when in fact he was leaving the country, in conversing with
Mr. Dallas’s son would he not most probably have mentioned the circumstance, as a remembrance or as a renewal of the charge, if even he had not thought fit to resume it? If therefore Fletcher’s remembrance of a very casual remark at the distance of eight years be correct, it is more reasonable to suppose that Lord Byron spoke loosely, recollecting merely the literary communication he had so long had with Mr. Dallas, than to place such an incidental remark against the body of circumstantial evidence which has been brought to prove the gift of these letters to Mr. Dallas.


The next affidavit is really ludicrous; it is sworn by the Honourable Leicester Stanhope; and begins by stating “that for several months prior, and down to the time of Lord Byron’s death, which happened on the 19th of April last at Missolonghi, an intimacy subsisted between him, the deponent, and the said Lord Byron.” It is truly absurd to see how all Lord Byron’s monthly friends prostitute the word intimacy. The reporter of his Lordship’s Conversations, lately published, is a remarkable instance of this, and the present affidavit is no less so; it shall be given to the reader in Mr. Stanhope’s own words. The honourable deponent goes on thus:—

“Saith, that about three months before said Lord Byron’s death, he, deponent, held a conversation with said Lord Byron, touching the events of his Lordship’s life, and the publication thereof at a future period; and, upon that occasion, said Lord Byron, in talking to him, deponent, of certain persons who, he said, were in possession of the requisite information for writing
a Memoir, or History of his, said Lord Byron’s, Life, he, said Lord Byron, made no allusion whatsoever to the defendant,
Robert Charles Dallas, or to any Memoir, or History of his Lordship, or the events of his life, preparing, or prepared by him, said Robert Charles Dallas; but, on the contrary, said Lord Byron, in the course of the conversation above alluded to, named two individuals by name, as being the most competent to write the History, or Memoir, of his life, neither of whom was said Robert Charles Dallas.

“Saith, that said Lord Byron never, in conversation which deponent so had with him as aforesaid, or in any other conversation which he, deponent, had with said Lord Byron, ever mentioned, or alluded, to the name of said Robert Charles Dallas, or intimated, or conveyed, to deponent, that he, said Lord Byron, knew that said Robert Charles Dallas had any intention of publishing any Memoir, or History, or Life of his Lordship, or that he had given said Robert Charles Dallas any permission to write or publish any thing concerning said
Lord Byron, or any letters written by him, said Lord Byron, and which deponent thinks it extremely probable said Lord Byron would have done had he possessed any knowledge of said Robert Charles Dallas’s intention to publish any thing concerning him, said Lord Byron, and more particularly if said Lord Byron had given said Robert Charles Dallas any consent or permission so to do.”

The Honourable Leicester Stanhope’s idea of the necessary communicativeness of a few months intimacy is somewhat new, and will, of course, have sufficient weight to prevent any but the two persons who are properly qualified from writing any thing about Lord Byron.

After this Mr. Hobhouse appears again to aver, in an affidavit, “that for the space of seventeen years previous, and down to the time of the death of the above-named Lord Byron, which happened about the 19th of April last, he was upon terms of the closest intimacy and friendship with Lord Byron; and, during the years 1814
and 1815, he associated much with Lord Byron, and was in the habit of corresponding with Lord Byron from the time he last left England, which was in the month of April, 1816; and the deponent declares that upon Lord Byron’s going abroad, his Lordship left in his hands, and under his care, several boxes, containing great quantities of private letters and papers, which he desired deponent to take care of for him during his absence from England.” He goes on to swear, “That Lord Byron did also, previous to his so going abroad, as deponent believes, leave quantities of letters and papers of a private nature, with others of his friends in England for safe custody, and to be taken care of for him. And, that Lord Byron, for many years previous to his so going abroad, as aforesaid, was in the habit of imparting his private concerns and transactions to him, but that Lord Byron never told him, or gave him, in any manner, to understand, that he had presented, or given, any letters whatsoever to
R. C. Dallas, for his own use, or benefit, or to be published.”

If this assertion is good for any thing,
is good to prove
Lord Byron did not leave the letters with Mr. Dallas for safe custody; for, if in the course of such confidential communication, as is here described, his Lordship never mentioned to Mr. Hobhouse having done so, even while placing large quantities of papers in his own hands for safe custody, when it would have been so very natural to refer to the circumstance, the inference is strong that no such circumstance took place. If Lord Byron had mentioned to Mr. Hobhouse having so done, he certainly would have sworn to that fact, when, from the paucity of positive information, he was reduced to the necessity of swearing to suppositions, as has been shewn. The case, therefore, stands thus: Mr. Hobhouse does swear that Lord Byron did not tell him that he had given the letters to Mr. Dallas; and Mr. Hobhouse does not swear that Lord Byron told him he had left them for safe custody with Mr. Dallas; the one proves one fact at least, as much as the other proves the other, and, therefore, in this debtor and creditor account of the affidavit the balance is nothing.


Mr. Hobhouse ends his affidavit by swearing “that Lord Byron had it in contemplation, to the knowledge of the deponent, to go abroad about June, 1814, and had actually made preparations for such his last-mentioned journey, and that the deponent had agreed to accompany him, but that Lord Byron afterwards altered his intention, and did not go.”

This point also forms the opening assertion of the next deponent, the Honourable Augusta Mary Leigh, the half sister of the late Lord Byron. She states that she well remembers that Lord Byron did, about June, 1814, make preparations, and then had it in contemplation to go abroad, but that he did not then go abroad as he had contemplated and intended.

When a lady swears merely to her remembrance, she may very innocently make a mistake in a year, especially after the lapse of ten years since the circumstance took place. But, in this case, Mr. Hobhouse swears “to the knowledge of the deponent,” therefore we are bound, not only to believe what he asserts, but to under-
stand, that previous to so positive an assertion upon a point where the difference of time makes all the difference in the matter, he must have consulted any memorandums he may have made, referred to pocket-books or letters, so as to convince himself from some more tangible data than that furnished by memory, that it really was “about June, 1814,” and not “about June, 1813,” that the intention of going abroad existed in Lord Byron’s mind.

These observations have arisen from a singular coincidence. Amongst the late Mr. Dallas’s papers the Editor has found a printed catalogue of books belonging to Lord Byron, to be sold. The Editor has frequently before seen this catalogue, and been informed by Mr. Dallas that it referred to an intended sale of Lord Byron’s library, which was to have taken place in consequence of his intention to go abroad; but that he altered his intention before the day of sale, though after the announcement, and that consequently the books were saved from the hammer. The catalogue is curious, as many of the books were presenta-
tion copies, given to his Lordship by the authors, with their autographs in them; but its particular curiosity is from its containing the following description of two lots:

Lot 151 A silver sepulchral urn, made with great taste. Within it are contained human bones, taken from a tomb within the long wall of Athens, in the month of February, 1811. The urn weighs 187 oz. 5 dwt.

Lot 152 A silver cup, containing
“Root of hemlock gathered in the dark,”
according to the direction of the witches in Macbeth. The hemlock was plucked at Athens by the noble proprietor, in 1811.—The silver cup weighs 29 oz. 8 dwts.

The title-page of this catalogue is as follows:—“A catalogue of books, the property of a nobleman about to leave England on a tour to the Morea. To which are added a silver sepulchral urn, containing relics brought from Athens, in 1811; and a silver cup, the property of the same noble person; which will be sold by auction by R. H. Evans, at his house, No. 26, Pall Mall, on Thursday, July 8th, and the following day. Catalogues to be had, and the books viewed at the place of sale.”


So far this all corroborates the statement made in the two affidavits under consideration, that Lord Byron intended to go abroad, and made preparations to that effect, about June—for it is to be supposed that the 8th of July may fairly come within the interpretation of that phrase*. There is, however, a generally neglected part of the title page, which happened to catch the Editor’s eye on reading it over; it is the date following the printer’s name, which runs thus, “Printed by W. Bulmer and Co. Cleveland-row, St. James’s, 1813.” This may possibly be a typographical error, and this sale of books may really have been a part of the preparation for going abroad, which Mr. Hobhouse and Mrs. Leigh swear was made by Lord Byron, in 1814; or should the date of this catalogue be correct, probably Lord Byron made an annual preparation for leaving England about June. If any reader happens to know of a similar preparation made by Lord Byron, about

* The gift of the letters to Mr. Dallas was made by Lord Byron, on the 10th of June, 1814, in performance of a promise made in April, 1812.

June, in the year 1812, or about June, in the year 1815, the chain of preparations between his first return about June, in 1811, and his second departure, about June, 1816, will be established, and the fact of the two preparations before referred to will be strongly corroborated.

The object of Mr. Hobhouse and Mrs. Leigh is to establish their statement, that Lord Byron placed the letters in question with Mr. Dallas, for safe custody, “being about to leave the country.” That statement would altogether fall to the ground if Lord Byron’s intention to go abroad was in June, 1813, as he gave the letters in June 1814, a twelvemonth after he had abandoned his intention, having promised to give one of them in April, 1812, a twelvemonth before he formed his intention. It is, therefore, to be regretted, as there is proof in print that the intention to leave the country was in 1813, that Mr. Hobhouse, in his affidavit concerning his knowledge of the fact, did not mention or allude to some of the tangible data, upon which he doubtless established that know-
ledge in his own mind, instead of resting altogether upon the corroborative remembrance of Mrs. Leigh.

Mrs. Leigh, by her affidavit, further presents, upon oath, a debtor and creditor account, similar to that which Mr. Hobhouse had already exhibited respecting the fact of Lord Byron’s never having mentioned either the delivery for safe custody, or the gift of the disputed letters. This account having been sufficiently audited in the former case, it is only necessary to state in the present, that a similar examination of it leads to a similar conclusion that the balance is nothing.

This honourable lady, upon her oath, declares also, that she “believes that such letters were left or deposited, by Lord Byron, in the care or keeping of R. C. Dallas, for the use of him, the said Lord Byron, in the same manner as his Lordship left such other letters and papers with deponent and others of his friends”—that is to say, she swears that she does not believe Mr. Dallas’s assertion upon oath, which she must have seen, as these affidavits
were filed in answer to it. Mr. Dallas felt it unnecessary to give himself the pain of positively contradicting the belief sworn to in this affidavit. But the
Editor refers the reader to the whole of the foregoing observations, that he may form his opinion as to the grounds upon which the contradiction might have been given.

The Editor’s task is now drawing to a close. After a considerable, though unavoidable delay, arising from the mass of business which peremptorily occupied the attention of the Court of Chancery, on the very last day of the Lord Chancellor’s public sittings, an attempt was made to bring on the consideration of the cause, Hobhouse v. Dallas, out of its proper rotation. This was resisted; but Lord Eldon being informed, of the pressing nature of the business, kindly consented to take the papers to his house, and without calling for the arguments of counsel, gave his decision at a private sitting.* Accordingly, on the

* It is owing to this circumstance that no report of the cause has appeared in the public papers.

23d of August, 1824, the Lord Chancellor delivered the following judgment in his private room. It is copied literally from the short-hand writer’s notes.

Lord Chancellor.—In the case of Hobhouse and Dallas, I shall reserve my judgment on one point till Wednesday, because I think it an extremely difficult point. But upon the point, whether this gentleman can publish the letters that Lord Byron wrote to himself, I cannot say that it is possible for him to be allowed to do that. I apprehend the law, as it has been settled with respect to letters—the property in letters is, (and whether that was a decision that could very well have stood at first or not, I will not undertake to say, but it is so settled, therefore I do not think I ought to trouble myself at all about it,) that if A. writes a letter to B., B. has the property in that letter, for the purpose of reading and keeping it, but no property in it to publish it; and, therefore, the consequence of that is, that unless the point which relates to the letters that were written by Lord
Byron to his mother is a point that can be extended to the letters written by Lord Byron to this gentleman himself,—unless the point on the first case affect the point on the second, it appears to me that the letters written to himself clearly fall within that rule which I am now alluding to.

“The other is a thing which, after carefully reading the bill, and answers of these gentlemen who propose to be the publishers, I have formed an inclination of opinion about it, but which I will not at this moment express, because I think that opinion must be wrong, unless it is founded on every word that is to be found in all the answer relative to the transaction of Lord Byron’s putting these letters into the hands of Mr. Dallas. That is a point on which I would rather reserve my opinion till Wednesday morning, and then I will conclude it with respect to that question. With respect to the letters written to himself, I confess I entertain no doubt at all about it. And there is another circumstance too, I think, which is, that it is a very different thing with respect to letters written by Lord Byron to his mother—it is
a very different thing, as it appears to me, publishing as information what those letters may have communicated as matters of fact, and publishing the letters themselves. If you are here on Wednesday morning, I will give you my judgment on the point which I have reserved, and if you are not here, I will give it on Saturday.”

Counsel.—Then of course the injunction continues as to the letters written to Mr. Dallas himself?”

Lord Chancellor.—Yes; and with respect to the others that will stand over till Wednesday. I don’t see if an action was brought against Mr. Dallas for publishing the other letters, I don’t see how he could defend that action; for the question about the other letters depends entirely, I think, on what is supposed to have passed between himself and Lord Byron alone; and, therefore, if an action was brought against him, there could be no evidence at all that would take his case out of the reach of the law.”

These are the words of the Lord Chancellor’s decision as far as it goes. Nothing
took place on the Wednesday with respect to the reserved point; but his Lordship left town on the following Monday, and previously to so doing, he desired the Registrar of the Court to inform Mr. Dallas’s solicitor, that “the injunction must remain in all its points.”

That no step might be omitted which could by possibility enable Mr. Dallas to redeem the pledge which he had given to the public, the following letter was sent to the executors by the parties restrained, by the injunction of the Court of Chancery, from publishing the letters in question.

“To the Executors of the late Right Honourable
Lord Byron.
London, 24th of September, 1824.

“As the Lord Chancellor has given his opinion that the Letters of the late Lord Byron, contained in the work which we intended to publish, cannot be made public without the permission of his Lordship’s executors, we beg to state to you, that the work in question has been perused by the present Lord Byron, who has expressed his approbation of it, and his desire that it should appear; and we now request the permission of the executors for its publication, declaring, at
the same time, our readiness to submit the work to the inspection of any person to be mutually approved of by both parties in this transaction; and if any omissions should be suggested to make all such as, upon a fair examination, may be considered proper.

“The favour of an immediate answer is requested, addressed under cover to our solicitors, Messrs. S. Turner and Son, Red Lion-square.

“We remain, gentlemen,
“Your most obedient servants,
Alex. R. C. Dallas, for R. C. Dallas,
Charles Knight, for myself,
and Henry Colburn.”
J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

In consequence of this letter written by the parties to the executors themselves, Messrs. Turner and Son, the solicitors to those parties, received the following letter, without a date, from Mr. Charles Hanson, the solicitor to the executors:—

Hobhouse and another v. Dallas and others.

“I am directed by the executors of the late Lord Byron, in answer to a letter addressed to them by your clients, containing a proposal for the publication of the late Lord Byron’s letters in the work in question, to inform you, that the executors do not deem it proper to sanction the publication of any of Lord Byron’s letters; and that they are advised to pursue legal mea-
sures to compel the delivering up to them such of the letters as they are entitled as his representatives to possess. It has been represented to the executors that a publication of the letters in question has been contemplated abroad. The executors do not vouch for the truth of this report; but I think it proper to mention, that if such a thing should be done, it will be deemed by the executors a contempt of the Injunction granted in this cause.

“I am, &c.
Chas. Hanson.”

This letter having closed every possible avenue by which the correspondence could be given to the British public, as had been promised, Mr. Dallas was placed in the situation which was stated at the beginning of this narrative; and there was no alternative left to him but the step which has now been taken. The following Recollections will, it is hoped, sufficiently establish the propriety of the intended publication as far as relates to the nature of its contents; this statement is now given to the public with a view to prove the propriety of Mr. Dallas’s intention and conduct in promising its publication; and the existence of the
injunction relieves him from all blame in not performing his promise.

After the full statement that has been made, it will not be necessary to detain the reader much longer from the perusal of the Recollections themselves. There are, however, three points to which the Editor begs to draw attention:—The first is the difference between the words “private” and “confidential” The parties who oppose the publication of the correspondence made use of them as synonymous; against this use of them, the parties who intended the publication distinctly protest. The private letters of a public man are those in which, unrestrained by the present intention of publication to the world, he naturally and inartificially conveys his thoughts, sentiments, and opinions to a friend. Can it be said that when a man’s celebrity has raised him from his peculiar circle to belong to the unlimited one of all mankind, and when his death has made him the subject of history, and rendered the development of his character interesting to all the world, it is a
breach of confidence to give to the world such private letters so written? Confidential letters are those in which any man intrusts that which at the time he would not make known, to the keeping and secrecy of one in whom he confides. Such letters, it is a breach of confidence, and highly dishonourable, to publish. The editor submits these definitions to the criticism of the public; and by them he wishes the matter in question to be tried. Messrs.
Hobhouse and Hanson, without ever having read one word of the letters proposed to be published, swear, that they are confidential, and that the publication of them would be a breach of honour and confidence. Mr. Dallas, Mr. Spearman, Mr. Knight, and the present Editor, after having carefully read over all the letters, swear, that they are not confidential. Mr. Dallas not only acknowledges that they are private, according to the above definition, but he publishes them because they are so; if they were not they would not be worth publishing now. But had they been confidential, no inducement on earth would have prevailed with
Mr. Dallas to submit them to the inspection of any third person whatever, much less to publish them.

The second point to be attended to is the reluctance of Mr. Dallas to submit the correspondence to the inspection of the executors, with a view to their decision on its publication. This point has been already incidentally touched upon; but a few more observations may, perhaps, be pardonable. Mr. Dallas never denied the right of an executor to prevent the posthumous publication of letters which were either libellous, or injurious to the deceased, or otherwise improper for publication; but, without adverting to the legal question, he did deny that persons differing from an author in opinions respecting religion, morality, politics, and patriotism, ought to have unlimited control, and the power of an unalterable veto, over a work, in which those subjects were more or less discussed. For this reason he refused to submit the work in question to Messrs. Hobhouse and Hanson, because, as far as he knew, or had heard of either, he had grounds for
believing that he differed materially from them both on one or other of those points. But when a third person was mentioned, to whom the book might be submitted, the greatest readiness was shown to make an amicable arrangement; and the proposition contained in the final letter to the executors, is exactly the same as was made in a previous stage of the business through the
present Lord Byron.

The third point to be mentioned is that, after reading this narrative, it cannot but be painful to be forced to the conviction that the opposition of the executors amounts, by their own confession in the affidavits, to a matter of property only. They cannot venture to say, in the face of all the evidence adduced as to the nature of the work, that they oppose its publication in tenderness to Lord Byron’s character; they know it is more likely to exalt his character, as far as it may be exalted, than any other work that can be written; they know that those who most desire to see Lord Byron’s character placed, if possible, in a better light than it stands
at present, approve of the work, and wish it to be made public. Neither can they venture to say that they fear to allow this correspondence to appear, lest it should be taken as a precedent, and other letters less proper should afterwards come forth; for they have the power offered to them of sanctioning the work in the title page by their “permission,” which would leave them at liberty to resist any unsanctioned publication. They, therefore, are forced to acknowledge, as they do in the course of these proceedings, that their opposition is a matter of property,—that is to say, that they want to make the most of these letters for the benefit of the late Lord Byron’s legatee*.

* It is hardly possible to be believed that all these oaths, as of knowledge upon surmisings, have for their object to add a few hundreds to the hundred thousand of pounds that Lord Byron has stripped from an ancient and honourable title which they were meant to support—not to give to his daughter, which would have put the silence of feeling upon the reproach of justice, but to enrich his sister of the half blood, she being married, and of course naturally bound only to expect and to follow the fortunes of her husband.

J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

No one, under all the circumstances, can doubt, morally speaking, that Lord Byron made a free gift to Mr. Dallas of his mother’s letters. Other proof than that which can now be given might, perhaps, be necessary to satisfy the requirements of law; but, certainly, the oaths that have been sworn are not calculated to remove the moral conviction from the mind, that the letters are the property of Mr. Dallas. As it is not according to the rules of law that matters of feeling are decided, there is a circumstance, of no slight importance, which should be taken into consideration in forming an opinion upon this transaction. For many years of his life Lord Byron never saw Mrs. Leigh, and would have no communication with her; he was averse to the society of the sex, and thought lightly of family ties. This separation continued from his boyhood up to the year 1812; during the latter part of which period Mr. Dallas, continually, but fruitlessly, endeavoured to induce Lord Byron to take notice of Mrs. Leigh. However, after his return to England, when the publication of Childe
Harold was approaching, his arguments were urged with more force, and Lord Byron, at length, yielded to them. The gift of an early copy of the
Pilgrimage was one of the first steps towards a renewal of intercourse; and the kind and affectionate terms in which that gift was expressed, as mentioned in the following Recollections, were the result of feelings which Mr. Dallas had endeavoured to excite. That gentleman, during his life time, never took merit to himself for promoting this union, though he has frequently mentioned the circumstances to the Editor, who now makes use of them without having been entrusted to do so; but, impelled by the necessity of vindicating his father under the unexpected treatment he has experienced*.

* The result of this union, so produced, has been, that Lord Byron, against all moral right, has applied the money procured by the sale of Newstead Abbey, to enrich his half sister, and left the family title without the family estate which belonged to it. It may be said against all moral right, because the grant of Newstead was made by Henry VIII., to his ancestor, as the representative, at that time, of a very ancient and honourable family, which was afterwards ennobled by James I.,


The Lord Chancellor’s decision sets the question of law at rest; and the Editor is anxious distinctly to state, that neither Mr. Dallas nor himself have ever presumed to call in question the soundness of an opinion given by the venerable Lord Eldon. Neither of them, indeed, had taken the legal view of the subject, which his Lordship appears to have entertained; and they were warranted in bringing the matter to

having the estate, as well as that of Rochdale, in possession, to support the title so given. Lord Byron received this title and estate together in collateral descent, he being the grand nephew only of his predecessor. The law which destroyed the perpetuity of entails could not destroy the feeling which makes a man morally bound to transmit such honours and such an estate together to his successors; and had Lord Byron’s grand uncle sold Newstead and Rochdale, because he had no son, nor even brother, nor nephew, nor cousin, to succeed him, but only a grand nephew, his Lordship would have been the first to have felt the moral injustice done him. Lord Byron is succeeded in a nearer relationship than that in which he stood to his predecessor; yet he leaves a title and a name distinguished in almost every generation, from the conquest, without any of the rewards which were given to the successive bearers of that name, to support its ancient honours.

an issue, by the opinion of one of the most deservedly celebrated lawyers at the Chancery Bar. Without such an opinion, they certainly would not have added the heavy expenses of a Chancery Suit, to the already considerable loss occasioned by the nearly completed preparations for publishing a large edition of the work in quarto. It is particularly necessary, thus publicly to declare an humble submission to the authority of the Court of Chancery, as the appearance of the work in France may induce a supposition that the Author and Editor could be guilty of an intentional contempt of that Court. To prevent such a supposition, which would be very far from the truth, the Editor has only to declare, that the arrangements for publication with Messrs. A. and W.
Galignani, of Paris, were made by Mr. Dallas, not only before the matter was decided; but that the foundation of those arrangements was laid before the work was offered to any bookseller in London. To this fact the following letter will bear testimony:—

“To Messrs. A. and W. Galignani, Paris.
Ste. Adresse, near Havre de Grace, May 31, 1824.
J. C. Hobhouse, in Review of Dallas

“You may, perhaps, remember my calling at your house when I was in Paris some time ago. I write at present to inform you, that I have some very interesting manuscripts of Lord Byron’s, which I am going to publish in London, where I purpose to send them as soon as they are copied. I am not decided as to disposing of the copyright; but whether I do or not, I mean to offer them to a Paris publisher for a translation, so that the French and English editions may appear at the same time. I offer you the preference; but I beg an immediate answer, as I mean, if you decline the offer, to write to a friend in Paris to treat with another respectable bookseller.

“With regard to the interest of the work, you cannot, it is true, judge of that without a more particular communication; but all I wish at present to know is, whether you would enter into this speculation, if the manuscripts prove to possess great interest. I would give you a sight of them, if the distance between us did not prevent it, but in the course of this week they go to London.

“When I was in Paris, I gave you a print of Lord Byron. It was much soiled, but certainly the best likeness I have seen of him. You purposed having a reduced engraving made of it—did you get it done?

“I am, gentlemen,
“Your humble servant,
R. C. Dallas.”

After arranging for the publication in England, Mr. Dallas returned without loss of time to France. At Paris, he entered into a written agreement with Messrs. Galignani, according to the terms of which the sheets were transmitted to them, as they were struck off in London. Mr. Dallas himself remained in Paris to conduct the work through the press; and it had nearly advanced as far as the edition in England, when the progress of both was arrested by the Injunction. Mr. Dallas has been under the necessity of abiding by the pecuniary loss to a large amount, which the advanced state of the work, when stopped, brings upon him in England; but this very fact is a reason why he should be unable to meet a similar loss to nearly a similar amount in France. And not only were the actual expenses incurred to be considered, but, by suppressing the work in Paris, he would have been liable to the consequences of a law-suit upon his formal contract there also. Mr. Dallas, therefore, was left without a reasonable alternative,
and the arrangements with Messrs. Galignani have been allowed to proceed; and this the more necessarily, as from the number of hands through which the manuscript had passed, and the copies of it which had been dispersed for translation and other literary purposes, it was impossible to guard against the almost certain appearance of the work in part, or in the whole, however unsanctioned by the approbation of the
Editor. In these arrangements with Messrs. Galignani, Mr. Knight and Mr. Colburn were not, and are not, in any respect parties;—the right of such publication having been reserved to Mr. Dallas in the original agreement.


As, in the first page of this work, it is asserted that Lord Byron was born at Dover, and as the public newspapers stated that, in the inscription on the urn which contained his Lordship’s relics it was said that he was born in London, the Editor thinks it right to publish the extract of a letter to himself, from the Author of the following Recollections, in which his reasons for making the assertion are stated:—

“I find in the newspapers that Lord Byron is stated on the urn to have been born in London. The year previous to the January when he was born, I was on a visit to Captain Byron and my sister at Chantilly. Lord Byron’s father and mother, with Mrs. Leigh, then Augusta Byron, a child then about four years old, were in France. I returned to Boulogne, where I then had a house, where I was visited by Mrs. Byron, in her way to England; she was pregnant, and stopped at Dover on crossing the Channel. That Lord Byron was born there I recollect being mentioned both by his uncle and my sister, and I am so fully persuaded of it (Capt. Byron and my sister soon followed, and staid some time at Folkstone), that I cannot even now give full credit to the contrary, and half suspect that his mother might have had him christened in London, and thus given ground for a mistake.”

P. 38, line 10, for “age” read “page.”
138, 13, for “breach” read “beach.”
174, 12, for “do” read “no.”