LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
John Murray to Lord Byron, 17 February 1815

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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Produced by CATH
February 17th, 1815.
My Lord,

I have paid frequent attention to your wish that I should ascertain if all things appeared to be safe in your chambers, and I am happy in being able to report that the whole establishment carries an appearance of security, which is confirmed by the unceasing vigilance of your faithful and frigid Duenna [Mrs. Mule].

Every day I have been in expectation of receiving a copy of ‘Guy Mannering,’ of which the reports of a friend of mine, who has read the first two volumes, is such as to create the most extravagant expectations of an extraordinary combination of wit, humour and pathos. I am certain of one of the first copies, and this you may rely upon receiving with the utmost expedition.

I hear many interesting letters read to me from the Continent, and one in particular from Mr. Fazakerly, describing his interview of four hours with Bonaparte, was particularly good. He acknowledged at once to the poisoning of the sick prisoners in Egypt; they had the plague, and would have communicated it to the rest of his army if
he had carried them on with him, and he had only to determine if he should leave them to a cruel death by the Turks, or to an easy one by poison. When asked his motive for becoming a Mahomedan, he replied that there were great political reasons for this, and gave several; but he added, the Turks would not admit me at first unless I submitted to two indispensable ceremonies. . . . They agreed at length to remit the first and to commute the other for a solemn vow, for every offence to give expiation by the performance of some good action. “Oh, gentlemen,” says he, “for good actions, you know you may command me,” and his first good action was to put to instant death an hundred of their priests, whom he suspected of intrigues against him. Not aware of his summary justice, they sent a deputation to beg the lives of these people on the score of his engagement. He answered that nothing would have made him so happy as this opportunity of showing his zeal for their religion; but that they had arrived too late; their friends had been dead nearly an hour.

He asked Lord Ebrington of which party he was, in Politics. “The Opposition.” “The Opposition? Then can your Lordship tell me the reason why the Opposition are so unpopular in England?” With something like presence of mind on so delicate a question, Lord Ebrington instantly replied: “Because, sir, we always insisted upon it, that you would be successful in Spain.”

Walter Scott sent you a copy of the ‘Lord of the Isles;’ but as it arrived at least a month after I had forwarded a ‘Mail Coach’ copy to you, I took that copy in exchange (there were no writings in it), and thus balanced my account. There are not two opinions about it being his worst poem.

I am delaying the publication of our edition in four volumes only until you find a leisure moment to strike off the dedication to your friend Mr. Hobhouse, who still thinks that it is not precisely the same thing to have music made to one’s poems, and to write poetry for music; and I advise you most conscientiously to abide by the determination of Mr. Hobhouse’s good sense.

Mrs. Wilmot’s tragedy is to be brought forward at Drury Lane immediately after Easter.

I have the honour to remain, my Lord,
Your faithful Servant,
John Murray.