LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Lord Holland, 25 September 1812

Life of Byron: to 1806
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“Cheltenham, Sept. 25th, 1812.

“Still ‘more matter for a May morning.’ Having patched the middle and end of the Address, I send one more couplet for a part of the beginning, which, if not too turgid, you will have the goodness to add. After that flagrant image of the Thames (I hope no unlucky wag will say I have set it on fire, though Dryden, in his ‘Annus Mirabilis,’ and Churchill, in his ‘Times,’ did it before me), I mean to insert this:
As flashing far the new Volcano shone
And swept the skies with { meteors | lightnings } not their own,
While thousands throng’d around the burning dome, &c. &c.
I think ‘thousands’ less flat than ‘crowds collected’—but don’t let me plunge into the bathos, or rise into
Nat. Lee’s Bedlam metaphors. By the by, the best view of the said fire (which I myself saw from a housetop in Covent-garden) was at Westminster Bridge, from the reflection on the Thames.

“Perhaps the present couplet had better come in after ‘trembled for their homes,’ the two lines after;—as otherwise the image certainly sinks, and it will run just as well.

“The lines themselves, perhaps, may be better thus—(‘choose,’ or ‘refuse’—but please yourself, and don’t mind ‘Sir Fretful’)—
“As flash’d the volumed blaze, and { sadly | ghastly } shone
The skies with lightnings awful as their own.
The last runs smoothest and, I think, best; but you know better than best. ‘Lurid’ is also a less indistinct epithet than ‘livid wave,’ and, if you think so, a dash of the pen will do.

366 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1812.

“I expected one line this morning; In the mean time, I shall remodel and condense, and, if I do not hear from you, shall send another copy.

“I am ever, &c.”