LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of John Murray
Chapter XVII.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
‣ Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chap. XX.
Chap. XXI.
Chap. XXII.
Chap. XXIII.
Chap. XXIV.
Chap. XXV.
Chap. XXVI.
Chap. XXVII.
Chap. XXIX.
Chap. XXX.
Chap. XXXI.
Chap. XXXII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
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In any work dealing with a large number of transactions, which, though carried on concurrently, are allied to one another by nothing save their accidental association with one individual, the difficulties of maintaining the even, consecutive current of the narrative are obviously so great as to be almost insurmountable.

In these volumes it has been found impossible to present a strictly chronological record of Mr. Murray’s life, and we have endeavoured so to group his correspondence as to lay before our readers the various episodes which go to form the business life of a publisher. In pursuance of this plan we now proceed to narrate the closing incidents of his friendship with Lord Byron, reserving to subsequent chapters the various other transactions in which he was engaged.

During the later months of Byron’s residence in Italy this friendship had suffered some interruption, due in part perhaps to questions which had arisen out of the publication of ‘Don Juan,’ and in part to the interference of the Hunts. With the activity aroused by his expedition to Greece, Byron’s better nature reasserted itself, and his last letter to his publisher, though already printed in Moore’s Life, cannot be omitted from these pages:—

Lord Byron to John Murray.
Missolonghi, February 25th, 1824.

I have heard from Mr. Douglas Kinnaird that you state “a report of a satire on Mr. Gifford having arrived from Italy, said to be written by me! but that you do not believe it.” I dare say you do not, nor any body else, I should think. Whoever asserts that I am the author or abettor of anything of the kind on Gifford lies in his throat. I always regarded him as my literary father, and myself as his prodigal son; if any such composition exists, it is none of mine. You know as well as anybody upon whom I have or have not written; and you also know whether they do or did not deserve that same. And so much for such matters.

You will perhaps be anxious to hear some news from this part of Greece (which is the most liable to invasion); but you will hear enough through public and private channels. I will, however, give you the events of a week, mingling my own private peculiar with the public; for we are here jumbled a little together at present.

On Sunday (the 15th, I believe) I had a strong and sudden convulsive attack, which left me speechless, though not motionless—for some strong men could not hold me; but whether it was epilepsy, catalepsy, cachexy, or apoplexy, or what other exy or epsy, the doctors have not decided; or whether it was spasmodic or nervous, &c.; but it was very unpleasant, and nearly carried me off, and all that. On Monday, they put leeches to my temples, no difficult matter, but the blood could not be stopped till eleven at night (they had gone too near the temporal artery for my temporal safety), and neither styptic nor caustic would cauterise the orifice till after a hundred attempts.

On Tuesday a Turkish brig of war ran on shore. On Wednesday, great preparations being made to attack her, though protected by her consorts, the Turks burned her and retired to Patras. On Thursday a quarrel ensued between the Suliotes and the Frank guard at the arsenal: a Swedish officer was killed, and a Suliote severely wounded, and a general fight expected, and with some difficulty prevented. On Friday, the officer was buried; and Captain Parry’s English artificers mutinied, under pretence that
their lives were in danger, and are for quitting the country:—they may.

On Saturday we had the smartest shock of an earthquake which I remember (and I have felt thirty, slight or smart, at different periods; they are common in the Mediterranean), and the whole army discharged their arms, upon the same principle that savages beat drums, or howl, during an eclipse of the moon:—it was a rare scene altogether—if you had but seen the English Johnnies, who had never been out of a cockney workshop before!—or will again, if they can help it—and on Sunday, we heard that the Vizier is come down to Larissa, with one hundred and odd thousand men.

In coming here, I had two escapes; one from the Turks (one of my vessels was taken but afterwards released), and the other from shipwreck. We drove twice on the rocks near the Scrofes (islands near the coast).

I have obtained from the Greeks the release of eight-and-twenty Turkish prisoners, men, women, and children, and sent them to Patras and Prevesa at my own charges. One little girl of nine years old, who prefers remaining with me, I shall (if I live) send, with her mother, probably, to Italy, or to England, and adopt her. Her name is Hato, or Hatagée. She is a very pretty lively child. All her brothers were killed by the Greeks, and she herself and her mother merely spared by special favour and owing to her extreme youth, she being then but five or six years old.

My health is now better, and I ride about again. My office here is no sinecure, so many parties and difficulties of every kind; but I will do what I can. Prince Mavrocordato is an excellent person, and does all in his power; but his situation is perplexing in the extreme. Still we have great hopes of the success of the contest. You will hear, however, more of public news from plenty of quarters: for I have little time to write.

Believe me, yours, &c. &c.,
N. Bn.

The fierce lawlessness of the Suliotes had now risen to such a height that it became necessary, for the safety of the European population, to get rid of them altogether;
and, by some sacrifices on the part of
Lord Byron, this object was at length effected. The advance of a month’s pay by him, and the discharge of their arrears by the Government (the latter, too, with money lent for that purpose by the same universal paymaster), at length induced these rude warriors to depart from the town, and with them vanished all hopes of the expedition against Lepanto.

Byron died at Missolonghi on April 19th, 1824, and when the body arrived in London, Murray, on behalf of Mr. Hobhouse, who was not personally acquainted with Dr. Ireland, the Dean of Westminster, wrote to him, conveying “the request of the executors and nearest relatives of the deceased for permission that his Lordship’s remains may be deposited in Westminster Abbey, in the most private manner, at an early hour in the morning.”

Dr. Ireland to John Murray.
Islip, Oxford, July 8th, 1824.
Dear Sir,

No doubt the family vault is the most proper place for the remains of Lord Byron. It is to be wished, however, that nothing had been said publicly about Westminster Abbey before it was known whether the remains could be received there. In the newspapers, unfortunately, it has been proclaimed by somebody that the Abbey was to be the spot, and, on the appearance of this article, I have been questioned as to the truth of it from Oxford. My answer has been that the proposal has been made, but civilly declined. I had also informed the members of the church at Westminster (after your first letter) that I could not grant the favour asked. I cannot, therefore, answer now that the case will not be mentioned (as it has happened) by some person or other who knows it. The best thing to be done, however, by the executors and relatives, is to carry away the body, and say as little about it as possible. Unless
the subject is provoked by some injudicious parade about the remains, perhaps the matter will draw little or no notice.

Yours very truly,
J. Ireland.

The funeral took place at Hucknall Torkard Church, near Newstead, on July 16. The allusion in the following letter is to the remarkable incident of Lady Caroline Lamb accidentally meeting the funeral procession on its way down from London to Nottinghamshire.

Lady Caroline Lamb was so ill at this time that her letter was written by an amanuensis.

Lady Caroline Lamb to John Murray.
Brocket Hall, July 13th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

I have been more ill than I can express, or I should have written to you. I wish I could see you. It is surprising to me that I have not heard from Hobhouse. Will you write and tell me every particular of what has passed since I saw you? Lord Byron’s hearse came by our gates yesterday. You may judge what I felt. Tell Hobhouse to see about my pictures, and letters and drawings. I will do anything he wishes about Lord Byron’s letters. I am in no anxiety about my own; only you know that they were the most imprudent possible, and, for others’ sakes, it were best to have them destroyed. There are two or three of Lord Byron’s letters to me I should like to keep; all the rest Hobhouse may have. I wish to see Fletcher—is it possible? You may show this letter to Mrs. Leigh or Lady Byron, and tell them I am too ill to write myself. Lord Byron’s death has made an impression on me which I cannot express. I am very sorry I ever said one unkind word against him. I am sure, if you knew how ill I have been, and am, you would come down and see me, for I have a great deal to say which I cannot write.


This mention of the Byron letters requires some explanation. Several years before, with a view to the Memoirs, Lord Byron had directed Mr. Moore, through Mr. Murray, to make inquiries as to some of his letters to Lady Caroline Lamb, Lady Cowper, Mr. Long, Mrs. Chaworth, and others. Lord Byron added:—

Lord Byron to John Murray.
September 28th, 1822.

If, by your own management, you can extract any of my epistles from Lady Caroline Lamb, they might be of use in your collection (sinking, of course, the names and all such circumstances as might hurt living feelings, or those of survivors); they treat of more topics than love occasionally.”

The death of Byron brought into immediate prominence the question of his autobiographical memoirs, the MS. of which he had given to Moore, who was at that time his guest at La Mira, near Venice, in 1819.

“A short time before dinner,” wrote Moore, “he left the room, and in a minute or two returned carrying in his hand a white-leather bag. ‘Look here,’ he said, holding it up, ‘this would be worth something to Murray, though you, I daresay, would not give sixpence for it.’ ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘My Life and Adventures,’ he answered. On hearing this I raised my hands in a gesture of wonder. ‘It is not a thing,’ he continued, ‘that can be published during my lifetime, but you may have it if you like: there, do whatever you please with it.’”

Moore was greatly gratified by the gift, and said the Memoirs would make a fine legacy for his little boy. Lord Byron informed Mr. Murray by letter what he had done. “They are not,” he said, “for publication during my life, but when I am cold you may do what you please.” In a subsequent letter to Mr. Murray, Lord Byron said: “As you say
my prose is good, why don’t you treat with Moore for the reversion of my Memoirs?—conditionally, recollect; not to be published before decease. He has the permission to dispose of them, and I advised him to do so.” Moore thus mentions the subject in his

“May 28th, 1820.—Received a letter at last from Lord Byron, through Murray, telling me he had informed Lady B. of his having given me his Memoirs for the purpose of their being published after his death, and offering her the perusal of them in case she might wish to confute any of his statements. Her note in answer to this offer (the original of which he enclosed me) is as follows:”—

Kirkby Mallory, March 10th, 1820.

I received your letter of January 1st, offering for my perusal a Memoir of part of my life. I decline to inspect it I consider the publication or circulation of such a composition at any time is prejudicial to Ada’s future happiness. For my own sake I have no reason to shrink from publication; but notwithstanding the injuries which I have suffered, I should lament more of the consequences.

A. Byron.
To Lord Byron.*

Moore received the continuation of Lord Byron’sMemoirs’ on the 26th of December, 1820, the postage amounting to forty-six francs and a half. “He advises me,” said Moore in his Diary, “to dispose of the reversion of the MS. now.” Accordingly, Moore, being then involved in pecuniary responsibilities by the defalcations of his deputy in Bermuda, endeavoured to dispose of the ‘Memoirs of Lord Byron.’ He first wrote to the Messrs. Longman, who did not offer him enough; and then to Mr. Murray, who offered him the sum of 2000 guineas, on condition that he should be the editor of the ‘Memoirs,’ and write the ‘Life of Lord Byron.’

* For Byron’s reply to this letter, see Moore’s Memoirs, iii. 115.

John Murray to Lord Byron.
July 24th, 1821.
Dear Lord Byron,

I have just received a letter from Mr. Moore—the subject of it is every way worthy of your usual liberality—and I had not a moment’s hesitation in acceding to a proposal which enabled me in any way to join in assisting so excellent a fellow. I have told him—which I suppose you will think fair—that he should give me all additions that you may from time to time make—and in case of survivorship edit the whole—and I will leave it as an heirloom to my son.

I have written to accede to Mr. Moore’s proposal.

I remain, dear Lord Byron,
Your grateful and faithful Servant,
John Murray.

Mr. Moore accepted the proposal, and then proceeded to draw upon Mr. Murray for part of the money. It may be added that the agreement between Murray and Moore gave the former the right of publishing the ‘Memoirs’ three months after his Lordship’s death. When that event was authenticated, the manuscript remained at Mr. Murray’s absolute disposal if Moore had not previously redeemed it by the repayment of the 2000 guineas.

During the period that Mr. Moore had been in negotiation with the Longmans and Murray respecting the purchase of the Memoirs, he had given “Lady Holland the MS. to read.” Lord John Russell also states, in his ‘Memoirs of Moore,’ that he had read “the greater part, if not the whole,” and that he should say that some of it was too gross for publication. When the Memoirs came into the hands of Mr. Murray, he entrusted the manuscript to Mr. Gifford, whose opinion coincided with that of Lord John Russell. A few others saw the Memoirs, amongst them Washington
Irving and Mr. Luttrell. Irving says, in his ‘Memoirs,’ that Moore showed him the Byron recollections, and that they were quite unpublishable.

Mr. Moore himself seems to have been thrown into some doubt as to the sale of the manuscript by the opinion of his friends. “Lord Holland,” he said, “expressed some scruples as to the sale of Lord Byron’s Memoirs, and he wished that I could have got the 2000 guineas in any other way; he seemed to think it was in cold blood, depositing a sort of quiver of poisoned arrows for a future warfare upon private character.”* Mr. Moore had a long conversation on the subject with Mr. J. C. Hobhouse, “who,” he says in his journal, “is an upright and honest man.” When speaking of Lord Byron, he said, “I know more about Lord Byron than any one else, and much more than I should wish any one else to know.”

Lady Byron offered, through Mr. Kinnaird, to advance 2000 guineas for the redemption of the Memoirs from Mr. Murray, but the negotiation was not brought to a definite issue. Moore, when informed of the offer, objected to Lady Byron being consulted about the matter, “for this would be treachery to Lord Byron’s intentions and wishes,” but he agreed to place the Memoirs at the disposal of Lord Byron’s sister, Mrs. Leigh, “to be done with exactly as she thought proper.” He was of opinion that those parts of the manuscript should be destroyed which were found objectionable; but that those parts should be retained which were not, for his benefit and that of the public. These were his own words.

At the same time it must be remembered that Moore’s interest in the Memoirs had now entirely ceased, for in

* Lord John Russell’sMemoirs, Journals, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore,’ iii. p. 298.

consequence of the death of
Lord Byron they had become Mr. Murray’s absolute property, in accordance with the terms of his purchase. But although Mr. Murray had paid so large a sum for the manuscript, and would probably have made a considerable profit by its publication, he was nevertheless willing to have it destroyed, if it should be the deliberate opinion of his Lordship’s friends and relatives that such a step was desirable.

Mr. Murray therefore put himself into communication with Lord Byron’s nearest friends and relations with respect to the disposal of the Memoirs. His suggestion was at first strongly opposed by some of them; but he urged his objections to publication with increased zeal, even renouncing every claim to indemnification for what he had paid to Mr. Moore. A meeting of those who were entitled to act in the matter was at length agreed upon, and the day preceding that on which it was to take place, Mr. Murray received the following letter from his old friend Mr. Barrow:—

Mr. Barrow to John Murray.
May 16th, 1824.

I enclose you a note from Sir William Hope, who is exceedingly interested in what concerns Lady Byron; and I have ventured to assure him that you will take no step hastily, and I have reason to believe that you have no other object than of being indemnified for the money you gave for the manuscript. It would be well got rid of, if he would take it off your hands and consign it to the flames. Entre nous, however, don’t let any of the parties see it, or know what it contains.

Yours very faithfully,
John Barrow.

The meeting at length took place in Murray’s drawing-room, on the 17th of May, 1824. There were present
Mr. Murray,
Mr. Moore, Mr. J. C. Hobhouse, Colonel Doyle representing Lady Byron, Mr. Wilmot Horton representing Mrs. Leigh, and Mr. Luttrell, a friend of Moore’s. Young Mr. Murray—then sixteen; the only person of those assembled now living—was also in the room. The discussion was long and stormy before the meeting broke up, and nearly led to a challenge between Moore and Hobhouse. A reference to the agreement between Moore and Murray being necessary, for a long time that document could not be found; it was at length discovered, but only after the decision to commit the manuscript to the flames had been made and carried out, and the party remained until the last sheet of Lord Byron’s Memoirs had vanished in smoke up the Albemarle Street chimney.

Immediately after the burning, Mrs. Leigh wrote the following account to her friend, the Rev. Mr. Hodgson, an old friend of Byron’s:—

The Hon. Mrs. Leigh to the Rev. F. Hodgson.

“The parties, Messrs. Moore, Murray, Hobhouse, Col. Doyle for Lady B., and Mr. Wilmot for me, and Mr. Luttrell, a friend of Mr. Moore’s, met at Mr. Murray’s; and after a long dispute and nearly quarrelling, upon Mr. Wilmot stating what was my wish and opinion, the MS. was burnt, and Moore paid Murray the 2000 guineas. Immediately almost after this was done, the legal agreement between Moore and Murray (which had been mislaid) was found, and, strange to say, it appeared from it (what both had forgotten), that the property of the MS. was Murray’s bonâ fide. Consequently he had the right to dispose of it as he pleased; and as he had behaved most handsomely upon the occasion. . . . it was desired by our family that he should receive the 2000 guineas back.”*

But the Byrons did not repay the money. Mr. Moore would not permit it. He had borrowed the 2000 guineas

* ‘Memoir of the Rev. F. Hodgson,’ ii. 139-40.

from the Messrs.
Longman, and before he left the room, he repaid to Mr. Murray the sum he had received for the Memoirs, together with the interest during the time that the purchase-money had remained in his possession.

The statements made in the press, as to Lord Byron’s Memoirs having been burnt, occasioned much public excitement, and many applications were made to Mr. Murray for information on the subject. Amongst those who made particular inquiry was Mr. Jerdan, of the Literary Gazette, who inclosed to Mr. Murray the paragraph which he proposed to insert in his journal. Mr. Murray informed him that the account was so very erroneous, that he desired him either to condense it down to the smallest compass, or to omit it altogether. Mr. Jerdan, however, replied that the subject was of so much public interest, that he could not refuse to state the particulars, and the following was sent to him, prepared by Mr. Murray:—

“A general interest having been excited, touching the fate of Lord Byron’s Memoirs, written by himself, and reports, confused and incorrect, having got into circulation upon the subject, it has been deemed requisite to signify the real particulars. The manuscript of these Memoirs was purchased by Mr. Murray in the year 1821 for the sum of two thousand guineas, under certain stipulations which gave him the right of publishing them three months after his Lordship’s demise. When that event was authenticated, the Manuscript consequently remained at Mr. Murray’s absolute disposal; and a day or two after the melancholy intelligence reached London, Mr. Murray submitted to the near connections of the family that the MSS. should be destroyed. In consequence of this, five persons variously concerned in the matter were convened for discussion upon it. As these Memoirs were not calculated to augment the fame of the writer, and as some passages were penned in a spirit which his better feelings since had virtually retracted, Mr. Murray proposed that they should be destroyed, con-
sidering it a duty to sacrifice every view of profit to the noble author, by whose confidence and friendship he had been so long honoured. The result has been, that notwithstanding some opposition, he obtained the desired decision, and the Manuscript was forthwith committed to the flames. Mr. Murray was immediately reimbursed in the purchase-money by
Mr. Moore, although Mr. Murray had previously renounced every claim to repayment.”

The particulars of the transaction are more fully expressed in the following letter written by Mr. Murray to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Robert Wilmot Horton, two days after the destruction of the Manuscript. It seems that Mr. Moore had already made a representation to Mr. Horton which was not quite correct.*

John Murray to Mr. R. Wilmot Horton.
Albemarle Street, May 19th, 1824.
Dear Sir,

On my return home last night I found your letter, dated the 17th, calling on me for a specific answer whether I acknowledged the accuracy of the statement of Mr. Moore, communicated in it. However unpleasant it is to me, your requisition of a specific answer obliges me to say that I cannot, by any means, admit the accuracy of that statement; and in order to explain to you how Mr. Moore’s misapprehension may have arisen, and the ground upon which my assertion rests, I feel it necessary to trouble you with a statement of all the circumstances of the case, which will enable you to judge for yourself.

Lord Byron having made Mr. Moore a present of his Memoirs, Mr. Moore offered them for sale to Messrs. Longman and Co., who however declined to purchase them; Mr. Moore then made me a similar offer, which I accepted; and in November 1821, a joint assignment of the Memoirs was made to me by Lord Byron and Mr. Moore, with all legal technicalities, in consideration of a sum of 2000 guineas, which, on the execution of the agreement by Mr. Moore, I

* Lord J. Russell’sMemoirs, &c., of Thomas Moore,’ iv. p. 188.

paid to him. Mr. Moore also covenanted, in consideration of the said sum, to act as Editor of the Memoirs, and to supply an account of the subsequent events of Lord Byron’s life, &c.

Some months after the execution of this assignment, Mr. Moore requested me, as a great personal favour to himself and to Lord Byron, to enter into a second agreement, by which I should resign the absolute property which I had in the Memoirs, and give Mr. Moore and Lord Byron, or any of their friends, a power of redemption during the life of Lord Byron. As the reason pressed upon me for this change was that their friends thought there were some things in the Memoirs that might be injurious to both, I did not hesitate to make this alteration at Mr. Moore’s request; and, accordingly, on the 6th day of May, 1822, a second deed was executed, stating that, “Whereas Lord Byron and Mr. Moore are now inclined to wish the said work not to be published, it is agreed that, if either of them shall, during the life of the said Lord Byron, repay the 2000 guineas to Mr. Murray, the latter shall redeliver the Memoirs; but that, if the sum be not repaid during the lifetime of Lord Byron, Mr. Murray shall be at full liberty to print and publish the said Memoirs within Three Months* after the death of the said Lord Byron.” I need hardly call your particular attention to the words, carefully inserted twice over in this agreement, which limited its existence to the lifetime of Lord Byron; the reason of such limitation was obvious and natural—namely that, although I consented to restore the work, while Lord Byron should be alive to direct the ulterior disposal of it, I would by no means consent to place it after his death at the disposal of any other person.

I must now observe that I had never been able to obtain possession of the original assignment, which was my sole lien on this property, although I had made repeated applications to Mr. Moore to put me into possession of the deed, which was stated to be in the hands of Lord Byron’s banker. Feeling, I confess, in some degree alarmed at the withholding the deed, and dissatisfied at Mr. Moore’s inattention

* The words “within Three Months” were substituted for “immediately,” at Mr. Moore’s request—and they appear in pencil, in his own handwriting, upon the original draft of the deed, which is still in existence.

to my interests in this particular, I wrote urgently to him in March 1823, to procure me the deed, and at the same time expressed my wish that the second agreement should either be cancelled or at once executed.

Finding this application unavailing, and becoming, by the greater lapse of time, still more doubtful as to what the intentions of the parties might be, I, in March 1824, repeated my demand to Mr. Moore in a more peremptory manner, and was in consequence at length put into possession of the original deed. But, not being at all satisfied with the course that had been pursued towards me, I repeated to Mr. Moore my uneasiness at the terms on which I stood under the second agreement, and renewed my request to him that he would either cancel it, or execute its provisions by the immediate redemption of the work, in order that I might exactly know what my rights in the property were. He requested time to consider this proposition. In a day or two he called, and told me that he would adopt the latter alternative—namely, the redemption of the Memoirs—as he had found persons who were ready to advance the money on his insuring his life; and he promised to conclude the business on the first day of his return to town, by paying the money and giving up the agreement. Mr. Moore did return to town, but did not, that I have heard of, take any proceedings for insuring his life; he positively neither wrote nor called upon me as he had promised to do (though he was generally accustomed to make mine one of his first houses of call);—nor did he take any other step, that I am aware of, to show that he had any recollection of the conversation which had passed between us previous to his leaving town, until the death of Lord Byron had, ipso facto, cancelled the agreement in question, and completely restored my absolute rights over the property of the Memoirs.

You will therefore perceive that there was no verbal agreement in existence between Mr. Moore and me, at the time I made a verbal agreement with you to deliver the Memoirs to be destroyed. Mr. Moore might undoubtedly, during Lord Byron’s life, have obtained possession of the Memoirs, if he had pleased to do so; he however neglected or delayed to give effect to our verbal agreement, which, as well as the written instrument to which it related, being cancelled by the death of Lord Byron, there was no reason
whatsoever why I was not at that instant perfectly at liberty to dispose of the MS. as I thought proper. Had I considered only my own interest as a tradesman, I would have announced the work for immediate publication, and I cannot doubt that, under all the circumstances, the public curiosity about these Memoirs would have given me a very considerable profit beyond the large sum I originally paid for them; but you yourself are, I think, able to do me the justice of bearing witness that I looked at the case with no such feelings, and that my regard for Lord Byron’s memory, and my respect for his surviving family, made me more anxious that the Memoirs should be immediately destroyed, since it was surmised that the publication might be injurious to the former and painful to the latter.

As I myself scrupulously refrained from looking into the Memoirs, I cannot, from my own knowledge, say whether such an opinion of the contents was correct or not; it was enough for me that the friends of Lord and Lady Byron united in wishing for their destruction. Why Mr. Moore should have wished to preserve them I did not nor will I inquire; but, having satisfied myself that he had no right whatever in them, I was happy in having an opportunity of making, by a pecuniary sacrifice on my part, some return for the honour, and I must add, the profit, which I had derived from Lord Byron’s patronage and friendship. You will also be able to bear witness that—although I could not presume to impose an obligation on the friends of Lord Byron or Mr. Moore, by refusing to receive the repayment of the 2000 guineas advanced by me—yet I had determined on the destruction of the Memoirs without any previous agreement for such repayment:—and you know the Memoirs were actually destroyed without any stipulation on my part, but even with a declaration that I had destroyed my own private property—and I therefore had no claim upon any party for remuneration.

I remain, dear Sir,
Your faithful servant,
John Murray.

After the burning of the Manuscript Sir Walter Scott wrote in his diary: “It was a pity that nothing save the
total destruction of
Byron’s Memoirs would satisfy his executors; but there was a reason—premat nox alta.” Thomas Mitchell sympathized with Murray. He wrote, “I hope you still feel satisfied with the reflection that you have sacrificed a fortune to preserve public decency and private tranquillity.” Yet he could not but feel intense regret at the death of the Poet.

Mr. Thomas Mitchell to John Murray.

“Poor Lord Byron! No person’s death has ever yet had the effect upon me which his had. I had a full persuasion, however, that his career would be a short one, and I never took up a paper with intelligence from Greece in it without the apprehension of seeing that Lord Byron had fallen in battle—the fate which my mind had assigned to him.”

Immediately after the death of Lord Byron, Mr. Colburn published a work containing his Conversations with Mr. Medwin. These were found to contain many false as well as libellous statements against Mr. Murray, and it became necessary for him to answer them. He first consulted Mr. Sharon Turner, who conferred with Mr. (afterwards Baron) Parke on the subject.

Mr. Turner to John Murray.
October 30th, 1824.
My Dear Murray,

It is vexatious enough to be talked of in print just as people choose to fancy or represent us; but it is the price we must pay for notoriety. Only the obscure can escape it, and you are not among their number. Like the King, Mr. Pitt, Southey, and everybody else, if you will have fame—and now you cannot help it—you must submit to have this unpleasant taxation on your comfort. I think with Mr. Parke that it is libellous; but, as Medwin is not the actual speaker, a jury would not give much damages.
Perhaps, if
Colburn would suppress it on the next edition, that it may not go down to posterity, that would be the best thing; and if he were told that Parke thought it libellous, he would most likely consent to do so. I am not disposed to advise you to bring an action upon it. The whole book tends to undo much of the prestige with which Lord Byron’s character had been artificially surrounded, and that perhaps will be some satisfaction to you. It was idly said, and still more idly believed, that his death would ruin the Greek cause. I was astonished at the assertion, and thought that, if true, the Greeks ought to fail, and, lo! they have been doing still better ever since.

Yours most truly,
Sharon Turner.

I think a neat vindication of yourself from Lord Byron’s correspondence would be a fair and an admirable and an acceptable thing.

Mr. Murray, acting on the advice offered by Mr. Turner in his postscript, prepared a short pamphlet, which he circulated widely, containing seriatim Mr. Medwin’s statements of what he alleged Lord Byron to have said, contrasted with extracts from Lord Byron’s own letters, which Murray printed side by side in double columns. In every case Mr. Medwin’s statements were flatly contradicted by Lord Byron’s own words; and the pamphlet, though in a small compass, was considered one of the most effective replies which have ever been made to an accusation of the kind. One proof of this is that Mr. Medwin never attempted any repetition or vindication of his charges.*

Shortly after the burning of the Memoirs, Mr. Moore began to meditate writing a Life of Lord Byron; “the

* The Pamphlet on “Conversations of Lord Byron, as related by Thomas Medwin, Esq., compared with a portion of his Lordship’s correspondence,” is printed at the end of Mr. Murray’s octavo edition of Lord Byron’s works.

Longmans looking earnestly and anxiously to it as the great source of my means of repaying them their money.”* Mr. Moore could not as yet, however, proceed with the Life, as the most important letters of Lord Byron were those written to Mr. Murray, which were in his exclusive possession. Lord John Russell also was against his writing the Life of Byron.

“If you write,” he wrote to Moore, “write poetry, or, if you can find a good subject, write prose; but do not undertake to write the life of another reprobate [referring to Moore’s ‘Life of Sheridan.’] In short, do anything but write the life of Lord Byron.”†

Yet Moore grievously wanted money, and this opportunity presented itself to him with irresistible force as a means of adding to his resources. At length he became reconciled to Mr. Murray through the intercession of Mr. Hobhouse. Moore informed the Longmans of the reconciliation, and, in a liberal and considerate manner, they said to him, “Do not let us stand in the way of any arrangements you may make; it is our wish to see you free from debt, and it would be only in this one work that we should be separated.” It was in this way that Mr. Moore undertook to write for Mr. Murray the Life of Lord Byron. Mr. Murray agreed to repay Moore the 2000 guineas he had given for the burned Memoirs and £2000 extra for editing the letters and writing the Life, and Moore in his diary says that he considered this offer perfectly liberal. Nothing, he adds, could be more frank, gentleman-like, and satisfactory than the manner in which this affair had been settled on all sides.

* Moore’s Memoirs, &c., iv. 253. † Ibid. v. 51.