LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1815

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
‣ Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“I saw him stand
Before an altar with a gentle bride;
Her face was fair, but was not that which made
The Starlight of his Boyhood;—as he stood
Even at the altar, o’er his brow there came
The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock
That in the antique Oratory shook
His bosom in its solitude; and then—
As in that hour—a moment o’er his face
The tablet of unutterable thoughts
Was traced,—and then it faded as it came,
And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke
The fitting vows, but heard not his own words,
And all things reel’d around him; he could see
Not that which was, nor that which should have been—
But the old mansion, and the accustom’d hall,
And the remember’d chambers, and the place,
The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade,
All things pertaining to that place and hour,
And her, who was his destiny, came back,
And thrust themselves between him and the light:—
What business had they there at such a time*?”

This touching picture agrees so closely, in many of its circumstances, with his own prose account of the wedding in his Memoranda, that I feel justified in introducing it, historically, here. In that Memoir, he described himself as waking, on the morning of his marriage, with the most melancholy reflections, on seeing his wedding-suit spread out before him. In the same mood, he wandered about the grounds alone, till he was summoned for the ceremony, and joined, for the first time on that day, his bride and her family. He knelt down,—he repeated the words after the clergyman; but a mist was before his eyes,—his thoughts were

* The Dream.

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elsewhere; and he was but awakened by the congratulations of the bystanders, to find that he was—married.

The same morning the wedded pair left Seaham for Halnaby, another seat of Sir Ralph Milbanke, in the same county. When about to depart, Lord Byron said to the bride, “Miss Milbanke, are you ready?”—a mistake which the lady’s confidential attendant pronounced to be a “bad omen.”

It is right to add, that I quote these slight details from memory, and am alone answerable for any inaccuracy there may be found in them.

“Kirkby, January 6th, 1815.

The marriage took place on the 2d instant; so pray make haste and congratulate away.

“Thanks for the Edinburgh Review and the abolition of the print. Let the next be from the other of Phillips—I mean (not the Albanian, but) the original one in the exhibition; the last was from the copy. I should wish my sister and Lady Byron to decide upon the next, as they found fault with the last. I have no opinion of my own upon the subject.

Mr. Kinnaird will, I dare say, have the goodness to furnish copies of the Melodies, if you state my wish upon the subject. You may have them, if you think them worth inserting. The volumes in their collected state must be inscribed to Mr. Hobhouse, but I have not yet mustered the expressions of my inscription; but will supply them in time.

“With many thanks for your good wishes, which have all been realized, I remain very truly,


* The Hebrew Melodies which he had employed himself in writing, during his recent stay in London.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 601
“Halnaby. Darlington, January 10th, 1815.

“I was married this day week. The parson has pronounced it—Perry has announced it—and the Morning Post, also, under the head of ‘Lord Byron’s Marriage’—as if it were a fabrication, or the puff-direct of a new stay-maker.

“Now for thine affairs. I have redde thee upon the Fathers, and it is excellent well. Positively, you must not leave off reviewing. You shine in it—you kill in it; and this article has been taken for Sydney Smith’s (as I heard in town), which proves not only your proficiency in parsonology, but that you have all the airs of a veteran critic at your first onset. So, prithee, go on and prosper.

Scott’sLord of the Isles’ is out—‘the mail-coach copy’ I have, by special licence of Murray.

* * * * * *

“Now is your time;—you will come upon them newly and freshly. It is impossible to read what you have lately done (verse or prose) without seeing that you have trained on tenfold. * * has floundered; * * has foundered. I have tired the rascals (i. e. the public) with my Harrys and Larrys, Pilgrims and Pirates. Nobody but S * * * * y has done any thing worth a slice of bookseller’s pudding; and he has not luck enough to be found out in doing a good thing. Now, Tom, is thy time—‘Oh joyful day!—I would not take a knighthood for thy fortune.’ Let me hear from you soon, and believe me ever, &c.

“P.S. Lady Byron is vastly well. How are Mrs. Moore and Joe Atkinson’s ‘Graces?’ We must present our women to one another.”

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“January 19th, 1815.

“Egad! I don’t think he is ‘down;’ and my prophecy—like most auguries, sacred and profane—is not annulled, but inverted. * * *

* * * * * *

“To your question about the ‘dog*’—Umph!—my ‘mother,’ I won’t say any thing against—that is, about her; but how long a ‘mistress’ or friend may recollect paramours or competitors (lust and thirst being the two great and only bonds between the amatory or the amicable), I can’t say,—or, rather, you know as well as I could tell you. But as for canine recollections, as far as I could judge by a cur of mine own (always bating Boatswain, the dearest and, alas! the maddest of dogs), I had one (half a wolf by the she side) that doted on me at ten years old, and very nearly ate me at twenty. When I thought he was going to enact Argus, he bit away the backside of my breeches, and never would consent to any kind of recognition, in despite of all kinds of bones which I offered him. So, let Southey blush and Homer too, as far as I can decide upon quadruped memories.

“I humbly take it, the mother knows the son that pays her jointure—a mistress her mate, till he * * and refuses salary—a friend his fellow, till he loses cash and character, and a dog his master, till he changes him.

“So, you want to know about milady and me? But let me not, as Roderick Random says, ‘profane the chaste mysteries of Hymen†’—

* I had just been reading Mr. Southey’s fine Poem of “Roderick,” and with reference to an incident in it, had put the following question to Lord Byron—“I should like to know from you, who are one of the Philocynic sect, whether it is at all probable, that any dog (out of a melodrame) could recognise a master, whom neither his own mother or mistress was able to find out. I don’t care about Ulysses’s dog, &c.—all I want is to know from you (who are renown’d as ‘friend of the dog, companion of the bear,’) whether such a thing is probable.”

† The letter H. is blotted in the MS.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 603
damn the word, I had nearly spelt it with a small h. I like
Bell as well as you do (or did, you villain!) Bessy—and that is (or was) saying a great deal.

“Address your next to Seaham, Stockton-on-Tees, where we are going on Saturday (a bore, by the way) to see father-in-law, Sir Jacob, and my lady’s lady-mother. Write—and write more at length—both to the public and

“Yours ever most affectionately,
“Seaham, Stockton-on-Tees, February 2d, 1815.

“I have heard from London that you have left Chatsworth and all the women full of ‘entusymusy*’ about you, personally and poetically; and, in particular, that ‘When first I met thee’ has been quite overwhelming in its effect. I told you it was one of the best things you ever wrote, though that dog Power wanted you to omit part of it. They are all regretting your absence at Chatsworth, according to my informant—‘all the ladies quite, &c. &c. &c’ Stap my vitals!

“Well, now you have got home again—which I dare say is as agreeable as a ‘draught of cool small beer to the scorched palate of a waking sot’—now you have got home again, I say, probably I shall hear from you. Since I wrote last, I have been transferred to my father-in-law’s, with my lady and my lady’s maid, &c. &c. &c. and the treacle-moon is over, and I am awake, and find myself married. My spouse and I agree to—and in—admiration. Swift says ‘no wise man ever married;’ but, for a fool, I think it the most ambrosial of all possible future states. I still think one ought to marry upon lease; but am very sure I should renew mine at the expiration, though next term were for ninety and nine years.

“I wish you would respond, for I am here ‘oblitusque meorum

* It was thus that, according to his account, a certain celebrated singer and actor used frequently to pronounce the word “enthusiasm.”

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obliviscendus et illis.’ Pray tell me, what is going on in the way of intriguery, and how the w—s and rogues of the upper
Beggar’s Opera go on—or rather go off—in or after marriage; or who are going to break any particular commandment. Upon this dreary coast, we have nothing but county meetings and shipwrecks; and I have this day dined upon fish, which probably dined upon the crews of several colliers lost in the late gales. But I saw the sea once more in all the glories of surf and foam,—almost equal to the Bay of Biscay, and the interesting white squalls and short seas of Archipelago memory.

“My papa, Sir Ralpho, hath recently made a speech at a Durham tax-meeting; and not only at Durham, but here, several times since, after dinner. He is now, I believe, speaking it to himself (I left him in the middle) over various decanters, which can neither interrupt him nor fall asleep,—as might possibly have been the case with some of his audience.

“Ever thine,

“I must go to tea—damn tea. I wish it was Kinnaird’s brandy, and with you to lecture me about it.”

“Seaham, Stockton-upon-Tees, February 2d, 1815.

You will oblige me very much by making an occasional inquiry at Albany, at my chambers, whether my books, &c. are kept in tolerable order, and how far my old woman* continues in health and industry as keeper of my old den. Your parcels have been duly received and perused; but I had hoped to receive ‘Guy Mannering’ before this time. I won’t intrude further for the present on your avocations professional or pleasurable, but am, as usual,

“Very truly, &c.

* Mrs. Mule.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 605
“February 4th, 1815.

“I enclose you half a letter from * * which will explain itself—at least the latter part—the former refers to private business of mine own. If Jeffrey will take such an article, and you will undertake the revision or, indeed, any portion of the article itself (for unless you do, by Phœbus I will have nothing to do with it), we can cook up, between us three, a pretty a dish of sour-crout as ever tipped over the tongue of a book-maker. * * * *

“You can, at any rate, try Jeffrey’s inclination. Your late proposal from him made me hint this to * *, who is a much better proser and scholar than I am, and a very superior man indeed. Excuse haste—answer this.

“Ever yours most,

“P.S. All is well at home. I wrote to you yesterday.”

“February 10th, 1815.

Jeffrey has been so very kind about me and my damnable works, that I would not be indirect or equivocal with him, even for a friend. So, it may be as well to tell him that it is not mine; but that, if I did not firmly and truly believe it to be much better than I could offer, I would never have troubled him or you about it. You can judge between you how far it is admissible, and reject it, if not of the right sort. For my own part, I have no interest in the article one way or the other, further than to oblige * *, and should the composition be a good one, it can hurt neither party,—nor, indeed, any one, saving and excepting Mr. * * * *.

* * * * * *

“Curse catch me if I know what H * * means or meaned about the demonstrative pronoun, but I admire your fear of being inoculated with the same. Have you never found out that you have a particular style of your own, which is as distinct from all other people, as Hafiz of Shiraz from Hafiz of the Morning Post?

“So you allowed B * * and such like to hum and haw you, or, rather, Lady J * * out of her compliment, and me out of mine†. Sunburn me but this was pitiful-hearted. However, I will tell her all about it when I see her.

Bell desires me to say all kinds of civilities, and assure you of her recognition and high consideration. I will tell you of our movements south, which may be in about three weeks from this present writing. By the way, don’t engage yourself in any travelling expedition, as I have a plan of travel into Italy, which we will discuss. And then, think of the poesy wherewithal we should overflow, from Venice to Vesuvius, to say nothing of Greece, through all which—God willing—we might perambulate in one twelve-months. If I take my wife, you can take yours; and if I leave mine, you may do the same. ‘Mind you stand by me, in either case, Brother Bruin.’

And believe me inveterately yours,
“February 22d. 1815.

“Yesterday I sent off the packet and letter to Edinburgh. It consisted of forty-one pages, so that I have not added a line; but in my letter, I mentioned what passed between you and me in autumn, as my inducement for presuming to trouble him either with my own or * *’s

* Some remark which he told me had been made with respect to the frequent use of the demonstrative pronoun both by himself and by Sir W. Scott.

† Verses to Lady J * * (containing an allusion to Lord Byron) which I had written, while at Chatsworth, but consigned afterwards to the flames.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 607
lucubrations. I am any thing but sure that it will do; but I have told
J. that if there is any decent raw material in it, he may cut it into what shape he pleases, and warp it to his liking.

“So you won’t go abroad, then, with me,—but alone. I fully purpose starting much about the time you mention, and alone, too.

* * * * * *

“I hope J. won’t think me very impudent in sending * * only; there was not room for a syllable. I have avowed * * as the author, and said that you thought or said, when I met you last, that he (J.) would not be angry at the coalition (though, alas! we have not coalesced), and so, if I have got into a scrape, I must get out of it—Heaven knows how.

“Your Anacreon* is come, and with it I sealed (its first impression) the packet and epistle to our patron.

“Curse the Melodies and the Tribes, to boot†. Braham is to assist—or hath assisted—but will do no more good than a second physician. I merely interfered to oblige a whim of K.’s, and all I have got by it was ‘a speech’ and a receipt for stewed oysters.

“‘Not meet’—pray don’t say so. We must meet somewhere or somehow. Newstead is out of the question, being nearly sold again, or, if not, it is uninhabitable for my spouse. Pray write again. I will soon.

“P.S. Pray when do you come out? ever, or never? I hope I have made no blunder; but I certainly think you said to me (after W * * th, whom I first pondered upon, was given up) that * * and I might attempt * * * *. His length alone prevented me from trying my part, though I should have been less severe upon the Reviewée.

“Your seal is the best and prettiest of my set, and I thank you very much therefor. I have just been—or, rather, ought to be—very much shocked by the death of the Duke of Dorset. We were at school together, and there I was passionately attached to him. Since, we have

* A seal, with the head of Anacreon, which I had given him.

† I had taken the liberty of laughing a little at the manner in which some of his Hebrew Melodies had been set to music.

608 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.
never met—but once, I think, since 1805—and it would be a paltry affectation to pretend that I had any feeling for him worth the name. But there was a time in my life when this event would have broken my heart; and all I can say for it now is that—it is not worth breaking.

“Adieu—it is all a farce.”
“March 2d, 1815.

Jeffrey has sent me the most friendly of all possible letters, and has accepted * *’s article. He says he has long liked not only, &c. &c. but my ‘character.’ This must be your doing, you dog—ar’n’t you ashamed of yourself, knowing me so well? This is what one gets for having you for a father confessor.

“I feel merry enough to send you a sad song*. You once asked me for some words which you would set. Now you may set or not, as you like,—but there they are, in a legible hand†, and not in mine, but of my own scribbling; so you may say of them what you please. Why don’t you write to me? I shall make you ‘a speech‡’ If you don’t respond quickly.

“I am in such a state of sameness and stagnation, and so totally occupied in consuming the fruits—and sauntering—and playing dull games at cards—and yawning—and trying to read old Annual Registers and the daily papers—and gathering shells on the shore—and watching

* The verses enclosed were those melancholy ones, now printed in his works. “There’s not a joy the world can give like those it takes away.”

† The MS. was in the handwriting of Lady Byron.

‡ These allusions to “a speech” are connected with a little incident, not worth mentioning, which had amused us both when I was in town. He was rather fond (and had been so, always so, as may be seen in his early letters) of thus harping an some conventional phrase or joke.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 609
the growth of stunted gooseberry bushes in the garden—that I have neither time nor sense to say more than

“Yours ever,

“P.S. I open my letter again to put a question to you. What would Lady C—k, or any other fashionable Pidcock, give to collect you and Jeffrey and me to one party? I have been answering his letter, which suggested this dainty query. I can’t help laughing at the thoughts of your face and mine; and our anxiety to keep the Aristarch in good humour during the early part of a compotation, till we got drunk enough to make him ‘a speech.’ I think the critic would have much the best of us—of one, at least—for I don’t think diffidence (I mean social) is a disease of yours.”

March 8th, 1815.

“An event—the death of poor Dorset—and the recollection of what I once felt, and ought to have felt now, but could not—set me pondering, and finally into the train of thought which you have in your hands. I am very glad you like them, for I flatter myself they will pass as an imitation of your style. If I could imitate it well, I should have no great ambition of originality—I wish I could make you exclaim with Dennis, ‘That’s my thunder, by G—d!’ I wrote them with a view to your setting them, and as a present to Power, if he would accept the words, and you did not think yourself degraded, for once in a way, by marrying them to music.

“Sunburn N * *!—why do you always twit me with his vile Ebrew nasalities? Have I not told you it was all K.’s doing, and my own exquisite facility of temper? But thou wilt be a wag, Thomas; and see what you get for it. Now for my revenge.

“Depend—and perpend—upon it that your opinion of * *’s Poem
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will travel through one or other of the quintuple correspondents, till it reaches the ear and the liver of the author. Your adventure, however, is truly laughable—but how could you be such a potatoe? You, ‘a brother’ (of the quill) too, ‘near the throne,’ to confide to a man’s own publisher (who has ‘bought,’ or rather sold, ‘golden opinions’ about him) such a damnatory parenthesis! ‘Between you and me,’ quotha—it reminds me of a passage in the
Heir at Law—‘Tête-à-tête with Lady Duberly, I suppose’—‘No—tête-à-tête with five hundred people;’ and your confidential communication will doubtless be in circulation to that amount, in a short time, with several additions, and in several letters, all signed L. H. R. O. B., &c. &c &c.

“We leave this place to-morrow, and shall stop on our way to town (in the interval of taking a house there) at Col. Leigh’s, near Newmarket, where any epistle of yours will find its welcome way.

“I have been very comfortable here,—listening to that d—d monologue, which elderly gentlemen call conversation, and in which my pious father-in-law repeats himself every evening—save one, when he played upon the fiddle. However, they have been very kind and hospitable, and I like them and the place vastly, and I hope they will live many happy months. Bell is in health, and unvaried good-humour and behaviour. But we are all in the agonies of packing and parting; and I suppose by this time to-morrow I shall be stuck in the chariot with my chin upon a band-box. I have prepared, however, another carriage for the abigail, and all the trumpery which our wives drag along with them.

“Ever thine, most affectionately,

* He here alludes to a circumstance which I had communicated to him in a preceding letter. In writing to one of the numerous partners of a well-known publishing establishment (with which I have since been lucky enough to form a more intimate connexion), I had said confidentially (as I thought), in reference to a Poem that had just appeared,—“Between you and me, I do not much admire Mr. * *’s Poem.” The letter being chiefly upon business, was answered through the regular business channel, and, to my, dismay, concluded with the following words: —“We are very sorry that you do not approve of Mr. * *’s new Poem, and are your obedient, &c &c. L. H. R. O., &c. &c.”

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 611
“March 27th, 1815.

“I meaned to write to you before on the subject of your loss*; but the recollection of the uselessness and worthlessness of any observations on such events prevented me. I shall only now add, that I rejoice to see you bear it so well, and that I trust time will enable Mrs. M. to sustain it better. Every thing should be done to divert and occupy her with other thoughts and cares, and I am sure all that can be done will.

“Now to your letter. Napoleon—but the papers will have told you all. I quite think with you upon the subject, and for my real thoughts this time last year, I would refer you to the last pages of the Journal I gave you. I can forgive the rogue for utterly falsifying every line of mine Ode—which I take to be the last and uttermost stretch of human magnanimity. Do you remember the story of a certain abbé, who wrote a Treatise on the Swedish Constitution, and proved it indissoluble and eternal? Just as he had corrected the last sheet, news came that Gustavus III. had destroyed this immortal government. ‘Sir,’ quoth the abbé. ‘the King of Sweden may overthrow the constitution, but not my book!!’ I think of the abbé, but not with him.

“Making every allowance for talent and most consummate daring, there is, after all, a good deal in luck or destiny. He might have been stopped by our frigates—or wrecked in the Gulf of Lyons, which is particularly tempestuous—or—a thousand things. But he is certainly Fortune’s favourite, and
Once fairly set out on his party of pleasure,
Taking towns at his liking and crowns at his leisure,
From Elba to Lyons and Paris he goes,
Making balls for the ladies, and bows to his foes.
You must have seen the account of his driving into the middle of the

* The death of his infant god-daughter, Olivia Byron Moore.

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royal army, and the immediate effect of his pretty speeches. And now, if he don’t drub the allies, there is ‘no purchase in money.’ If he can take France by himself, the devil’s in ’t if he don’t repulse the invaders, when backed by those celebrated sworders—those boys of the blade, the Imperial Guard, and the old and new army. It is impossible not to be dazzled and overwhelmed by his character and career. Nothing ever so disappointed me as his abdication, and nothing could have reconciled me to him but some such revival as his recent exploit; though no one could anticipate such a complete and brilliant renovation.

“To your question, I can only answer that there have been some symptoms which look a little gestatory. It is a subject upon which I am not particularly anxious, except that I think it would please her uncle, Lord Wentworth, and her father and mother. The former (Lord W.) is now in town, and in very indifferent health. You perhaps know that his property, amounting to seven or eight thousand a year, will eventually devolve upon Bell. But the old gentleman has been so very kind to her and me, that I hardly know how to wish him in heaven, if he can be comfortable on earth. Her father is still in the country.

“We mean to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon’s house there, she being in France.

“I don’t care what Power says to secure the property of the Song, so that it is not complimentary to me, nor any thing about ‘condescending’ or ‘noble author’—both ‘vile phrases,’ as Polonius says.

* * * * *

“Pray, let me hear from you, and when you mean to be in town. Your continental scheme is impracticable for the present. I have to thank you for a longer letter than usual, which I hope will induce you to tax my gratitude still further in the same way.

“You never told me about ‘Longman’ and ‘next winter,’ and I am not a ‘mile-stone*.’”

* I had accused him of having entirely forgot that, in a preceding letter, I had informed him of my intention to publish with the Messrs. Longman in the ensuing winter, and added that, in giving him this information, I found I had been,—to use an elegant Irish metaphor,—“whistling jigs to a mile-stone.”

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 613
“Piccadilly, March 31st, 1815.

“It will give me great pleasure to comply with your request, though I hope there is still taste enough left amongst us to render it almost unnecessary, sordid and interested as, it must be admitted, many of ‘the trade’ are, where circumstances give them an advantage. I trust you do not permit yourself to be depressed by the temporary partiality of what is called ‘the public’ for the favourites of the moment; all experience is against the permanency of such impressions. You must have lived to see many of these pass away, and will survive many more—I mean personally, for poetically, I would not insult you by a comparison.

“If I may be permitted, I would suggest that there never was such an opening for tragedy. In Kean, there is an actor worthy of expressing the thoughts of the characters which you have every power of imbodying; and I cannot but regret that the part of Ordonio was disposed of before his appearance at Drury-lane. We have had nothing to be mentioned in the same breath with ‘Remorse’ for very many years; and I should think that the reception of that play was sufficient to encourage the highest hopes of author and audience. It is to be hoped that you are proceeding in a career which could not but be successful. With my best respects to Mr. Bowles, I have the honour to be

“Your obliged
“and very obedient servant,

“P.S. You mention my ‘Satire,’ lampoon, or whatever you or others please to call it. I can only say, that it was written when I was very young and very angry, and has been a thorn in my side ever since; more particularly as almost all the persons animadverted upon became subsequently my acquaintances, and some of them my friends, which is ‘heaping fire upon an enemy’s head,’ and forgiving me too readily to
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permit me to forgive myself. The part applied to you is pert, and petulant, and shallow enough; but, although I have long done every thing in my power to suppress the circulation of the whole thing, I shall always regret the wantonness or generality of many of its attempted attacks.”

It was in the course of this spring that Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott became, for the first time, personally acquainted with each other. Mr. Murray, having been previously on a visit to the latter gentleman, had been intrusted by him with a superb Turkish dagger, as a present to Lord Byron; and the noble poet, on their meeting this year, in London,—the only time when these two great men had ever an opportunity of enjoying each other’s society,—presented to Sir Walter, in return, a vase containing some human bones that had been dug up from under a part of the old walls of Athens. The reader, however, will be much better pleased to have these particulars in the words of Sir Walter Scott himself, who, with that good-nature which renders him no less amiable than he is admirable, has found time, in the midst of all his marvellous labours for the world, to favour me with the following interesting communication*.

* A few passages at the beginning of these recollections have been omitted, as containing particulars relative to Lord Byron’s mother, which have already been mentioned in the early part of this work. Among these, however, there is one anecdote, the repetition of which will be easily pardoned, on account of the infinitely greater interest and authenticity imported to its details by coming from such an eye-witness as Sir Walter Scott:—“I remember,” he says, “having seen Lord Byron’s mother before she was married, and a certain coincidence rendered the circumstance rather remarkable. It was during Mrs. Siddons’s first or second visit to Edinburgh, when the music of that wonderful actress’s voice, looks, manner, and person, produced the strongest effect which could possibly be exerted by a human being upon her fellow-creatures. Nothing of the kind that I ever witnessed approached it by a hundred degrees. The high state of excitation was aided by the difficulties of obtaining entrance, and the exhausting length of time that the audience were contented to wait until the piece commenced. When the curtain fell, a large proportion of the ladies were generally in hysterics.

“I remember Miss Gordon of Ghight, in particular, harrowing the house by the desperate and wild way in which she shrieked out Mrs. Siddons’s exclamation, in the character of Isabella, ‘Oh my Byron! Oh my Byron!’ A well-known medical gentleman, the benevolent Dr. Alexander Wood, tendered his assistance; but the thick-pressed audience could not for a long time make way for the doctor to approach his patient, or the patient the physician. The remarkable circumstance was, that the lady had not then seen Captain Byron, who, like Sir Toby, made her conclude with ‘Oh!’ as she had begun with it.”

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 615
* * * * * *

“My first acquaintance with Byron began in a manner rather doubtful. I was so far from having any thing to do with the offensive criticism in the Edinburgh, that I remember remonstrating against it with our friend, the editor, because I thought the ‘Hours of Idleness’ treated with undue severity. They were written, like all juvenile poetry, rather from the recollection of what had pleased the author in others than what had been suggested by his own imagination; but, nevertheless, I thought they contained some passages of noble promise. I was so much impressed with this, that I had thoughts of writing to the author; but some exaggerated reports concerning his peculiarities, and a natural unwillingness to intrude an opinion which was uncalled for, induced me to relinquish the idea.

“When Byron wrote his famous Satire, I had my share of flagellation among my betters. My crime was having written a poem (Marmion, I think) for a thousand pounds; which was no otherwise true than that I sold the copyright for that sum. Now, not to mention that an author can hardly be censured for accepting such a sum as the booksellers are willing to give him, especially as the gentlemen of the trade made no complaints of their bargain, I thought the interference with my private affairs was rather beyond the limits of literary satire. On the other hand, Lord Byron paid me, in several passages, so much more praise than I deserved, that I must have been more irritable than I have ever felt upon such subjects, not to sit down contented and think no more about the matter.

“I was very much struck, with all the rest of the world, at the vigour and force of imagination displayed in the first Cantos of Childe Harold, and the other splendid productions which Lord Byron flung from him to the public with a promptitude that savoured of profusion. My own popularity, as a poet, was then on the wane, and I was unaffectedly pleased to see an author of so much power and energy taking the field. Mr. John Murray happened to be in Scotland that season, and as I mentioned to him the pleasure I should have in making Lord Byron’s acquaintance, he had the kindness to mention my wish to his lordship, which led to some correspondence.

616 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.

“It was in the spring of 1815 that, chancing to be in London, I had the advantage of a personal introduction to Lord Byron. Report had prepared me to meet a man of peculiar habits and a quick temper, and I had some doubts whether we were likely to suit each other in society. I was most agreeably disappointed in this respect. I found Lord Byron in the highest degree courteous, and even kind. We met, for an hour or two almost daily, in Mr. Murray’s drawing-room, and found a great deal to say to each other. We also met frequently in parties and evening society, so that for about two months I had the advantage of considerable intimacy with this distinguished individual. Our sentiments agreed a good deal, except upon the subjects of religion and politics, upon neither of which I was inclined to believe that Lord Byron entertained very fixed opinions. I remember saying to him, that I really thought, that if he lived a few years he would alter his sentiments. He answered, rather sharply, ‘I suppose you are one of those who prophesy I will turn Methodist.’ I replied, ‘No—I don’t expect your conversion to be of such an ordinary kind. I would rather look to see you retreat upon the Catholic faith, and distinguish yourself by the austerity of your penances. The species of religion to which you must, or may, one day attach yourself must exercise a strong power on the imagination.’ He smiled gravely, and seemed to allow I might be right.

“On politics, he used sometimes to express a high strain of what is now called Liberalism; but it appeared to me that the pleasure it afforded him as a vehicle of displaying his wit and satire against individuals in office was at the bottom of this habit of thinking, rather than any real conviction of the political principles on which he talked. He was certainly proud of his rank and ancient family, and, in that respect, as much an aristocrat as was consistent with good sense and good breeding. Some disgusts, how adopted I know not, seemed to me to have given this peculiar and, as it appeared to me, contradictory cast of mind; but, at heart, I would have termed Byron a patrician on principle.

“Lord Byron’s reading did not seem to me to have been very extensive either in poetry or history. Having the advantage of him in that respect, and possessing a good competent share of such reading as is little read, I was sometimes able to put under his eye objects which had
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 617
for him the interest of novelty. I remember particularly repeating to him the fine poem of
Hardyknute, an imitation of the old Scottish Ballad, with which he was so much affected, that some one who was in the same apartment asked me what I could possibly have been telling Byron by which he was so much agitated.

“I saw Byron, for the last time, in 1815, after I returned from France. He dined, or lunched, with me at Long’s, in Bond-street. I never saw him so full of gaiety and good-humour, to which the presence of Mr. Matthews, the comedian, added not a little. Poor Terry was also present. After one of the gayest parties I ever was present at, my fellow-traveller, Mr. Scott, of Gala, and I, set off for Scotland, and I never saw Lord Byron again. Several letters passed between us—one perhaps every half year. Like the old heroes in Homer, we exchanged gifts;—I gave Byron a beautiful dagger mounted with gold, which had been the property of the redoubted Elfi Bey. But I was to play the part of Diomed, in the Iliad, for Byron sent me, some time after, a large sepulchral vase of silver. It was full of dead men’s bones, and had inscriptions on two sides of the base. One ran thus—‘The bones contained in this urn were found in certain ancient sepulchres within the land walls of Athens, in the month of February, 1811.’ The other face bears the lines of Juvenal:
‘Expende—quot libras in duce summo invenies.
—Mors sola fatetur quantula hominum corpuscula.’
To these I have added a third inscription, in these words—‘The gift of Lord Byron to
Walter Scott*.’ There was a letter with this vase more valuable to me than the gift itself, from the kindness with which

* Mr. Murray had, at the time of giving the vase, suggested to Lord Byron, that it would increase the value of the gift to add some such inscription; but the feeling of the noble poet on this subject will be understood from the following answer which he returned.

618 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.
the donor expressed himself towards me. I left it naturally in the urn with the bones,—but it is now missing. As the theft was not of a nature to be practised by a mere domestic, I am compelled to suspect the inhospitality of some individual of higher station,—most gratuitously exercised certainly, since, after what I have here said, no one will probably choose to boast of possessing this literary curiosity.

“We had a good deal of laughing, I remember, on what the public might be supposed to think, or say, concerning the gloomy and ominous nature of our mutual gifts.

“I think I can add little more to my recollections of Byron. He was often melancholy,—almost gloomy. When I observed him in this humour, I used either to wait till it went off of its own accord, or till some natural and easy mode occurred of leading him into conversation, when the shadows almost always left his countenance, like the mist rising from a landscape. In conversation, he was very animated.

“I met with him very frequently in society; our mutual acquaintances doing me the honour to think that he liked to meet with me. Some very agreeable parties I can recollect—particularly one at Sir George Beaumont’s, where the amiable landlord had assembled some persons distinguished for talent. Of these I need only mention the late Sir Humphry Davy, whose talents for literature were as remarkable as his empire over science. Mr. Richard Sharpe and Mr. Rogers were also present.

“I think I also remarked in Byron’s temper starts of suspicion, when he seemed to pause and consider whether there had not been a secret, and perhaps offensive, meaning in something casually said to him. In this case, I also judged it best to let his mind, like a troubled spring, work itself clear, which it did in a minute or two. I was considerably older, you will recollect, than my noble friend, and had no reason to fear his misconstruing my sentiments towards him, nor had I ever the slightest reason to doubt that they were kindly returned on his part. If I had occasion to be mortified by the display of genius which threw into the shade such pretensions as I was then supposed to possess, I might console myself that, in my own case, the materials of mental happiness had been mingled in a greater proportion.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 619

“I rummage my brains in vain for what often rushes into my head unbidden,—little traits and sayings which recall his looks, manner, tone, and gestures; and I have always continued to think that a crisis of life was arrived in which a new career of fame was opened to him, and that had he been permitted to start upon it, he would have obliterated the memory of such parts of his life as friends would wish to forget.”

“April 23d, 1815.

Lord Wentworth died last week. The bulk of his property (from seven to eight thousand per ann.) is entailed on Lady Milbanke and Lady Byron. The first is gone to take possession in Leicestershire, and attend the funeral, &c. this day.

* * * * *

“I have mentioned the facts of the settlement of Lord W.’s property, because the newspapers, with their usual accuracy, have been making all kinds of blunders in their statement. His will is just as expected—the principal part settled on Lady Milbanke (now Noel) and Bell, and a separate estate left for sale to pay debts (which are not great) and legacies to his natural son and daughter.

Mrs. * *’s tragedy was last night damned. They may bring it on again, and probably will; but damned it was,—not a word of the last act audible. I went (malgré that I ought to have staid at home in sackcloth for unc., but I could not resist the first night of any thing) to a private and quiet nook of my private box, and witnessed the whole process. The first three acts, with transient gushes of applause, oozed patiently but heavily on. I must say it was badly acted, particularly by * *, who was groaned upon in the third act,—something about ‘horror—such a horror’ was the cause. Well, the fourth act became as muddy and turbid as need be; but the fifth—what Garrick used to call (like a fool) the concoction of a play—the fifth act stuck fast at the King’s prayer. You know he says ‘he never went to bed without saying them, and did not like to omit them now.’ But he was no sooner upon his knees, than the
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audience got upon their legs—the damnable pit—and roared, and groaned, and hissed, and whistled. Well, that was choked a little; but the ruffian-scene—the penitent peasantry—and killing the Bishop and the Princess—oh, it was all over. The curtain fell upon unheard actors, and the announcement attempted by Kean for Monday was equally ineffectual.
Mrs. Bartley was so frightened, that, though the people were tolerably quiet, the Epilogue was quite inaudible to half the house. In short,—you know all. I clapped till my hands were skinless, and so did Sir James Mackintosh, who was with me in the box. All the world were in the house, from the Jerseys, Greys, &c. &c. downwards. But it would not do. It is, after all, not an acting play; good language, but no power.
* * * * * * * * * *
Women (saving Joanna Baillie) cannot write tragedy; they have not seen enough nor felt enough of life for it. I think Semiramis or Catherine II. might have written (could they have been unqueened) a rare play.

* * * *

“It is, however, a good warning not to risk or write tragedies. I never had much bent that way; but, if I had, this would have cured me.

“Ever, carissime Thom.,
“thine, B.”
“May 21st, 1815.

“You must have thought it very odd, not to say ungrateful, that I made no mention of the drawings*, &c. when I had the pleasure of seeing you this morning. The fact is, that till this moment I had not seen them, nor heard of their arrival: they were carried up into the library, where I have not been till just now, and no intimation given to me of their coming. The present is so very magnificent, that—in short,

* Mr. Murray had presented Lady Byron with twelve drawings, by Stothard, from Lord Byron’s Poems.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 621
I leave
Lady Byron to thank you for it herself, and merely send this to apologise for a piece of apparent and unintentional neglect on my own part.

“Yours, &c.”
“13, Piccadilly Terrace, June 12th, 1815.

“I have nothing to offer in behalf of my late silence, except the most inveterate and ineffable laziness; but I am too supine to invent a lie, or I certainly should, being ashamed of the truth. K * *, I hope, has appeased your magnanimous indignation at his blunders. I wished and wish you were in the Committee, with all my heart†. It seems so hopeless a business, that the company of a friend would be quite consoling,—but more of this when we meet. In the mean time, you are entreated to prevail upon Mrs. Esterre to engage herself. I believe she has been written to, but your influence, in person, or proxy, would probably go farther than our proposals. What they are, I know not; all my new function consists in listening to the despair of Cavendish Bradshaw, the hopes of Kinnaird, the wishes of Lord Essex, the complaints of Whitbread, and the calculations of Peter Moore,—all of which, and whom, seem totally at variance. C. Bradshaw wants to light the theatre with gas, which may, perhaps (if the vulgar be believed) poison half the audience, and all the Dramatis Personæ. Essex has endeavoured to persuade K * * not to get drunk, the consequence of which is, that he has never been sober since. Kinnaird, with equal success, would have convinced Raymond that he, the said Raymond, had too much salary. Whitbread wants us to assess the pit another sixpence,—a d—d insidious

* This and the following letter were addressed to me in Ireland, whither I had gone about the middle of the preceding month.

† He had lately become one of the members of the Sub-Committee (consisting, besides himself, of the persons mentioned in this letter), who had taken upon themselves the management of Drury-lane Theatre; and it had been his wish, on the first construction of the Committee, that I should be one of his colleagues. To some mistake in the mode of conveying this proposal to me, he alludes in the preceding sentence.

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proposition,—which will end in an O. P. combustion. To crown all,
R * *, the auctioneer, has the impudence to be displeased, because he has no dividend. The villain is a proprietor of shares, and a long-lunged orator in the meetings. I hear he has prophesied our incapacity,—‘a foregone conclusion,’ whereof I hope to give him signal proofs before we are done.

“Will you give us an Opera? no, I’ll be sworn, but I wish you would. * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“To go on with the poetical world, Walter Scott has gone back to Scotland. Murray, the bookseller, has been cruelly cudgelled of misbegotten knaves, ‘in Kendal green,’ at Newington Butts, in his way home from a purlieu dinner—and robbed,—would you believe it?—of three or four bonds of forty pound apiece, and a seal-ring of his grandfather’s, worth a million! This is his version,—but others opine that D’Israeli, with whom he dined, knocked him down with his last publication, ‘the Quarrels of Authors,’ in a dispute about copyright. Be that as it may, the newspapers have teemed with his ‘injuria formæ,’ and he has been embrocated and invisible to all but the apothecary ever since.

Lady B. is better than three months advanced in her progress towards maternity, and, we hope, likely to go well through with it. We have been very little out this season, as I wish to keep her quiet in her present situation. Her father and mother have changed their names to Noel, in compliance with Lord Wentworth’s will, and in complaisance to the property bequeathed by him.

“I hear that you have been gloriously received by the Irish,—and so you ought. But don’t let them kill you with claret and kindness at the national dinner in your honour, which, I hear and hope, is in contemplation. If you will tell me the day, I’ll get drunk myself on this side of the water, and waft you an applauding hiccup over the Channel.

“Of politics, we have nothing but the yell for war; and C * * h is preparing his head for the pike, on which we shall see it carried before he has done. The loan has made every body sulky. I hear often from Paris, but in direct contradiction to the home statements of our hire-
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 623
lings. Of domestic doings, there has been nothing since Lady D * *. Not a divorce stirring,—but a good many in embryo, in the shape of marriages.

“I enclose you an epistle received this morning from I know not whom; but I think it will amuse you. The writer must be a rare fellow*.

“P.S. A gentleman named D’Alton (not your Dalton) has sent me a National Poem called ‘Dermid.’ The same cause which prevented my writing to you operated against my wish to write to him an epistle of thanks. If you see him, will you make all kinds of fine speeches for me, and tell him that I am the laziest and most ungrateful of mortals?

“A word more;—don’t let Sir John Stevenson (as an evidence on trials for copyright, &c.) talk about the price of your next Poem, or they will come upon you for the Property Tax for it. I am serious, and have just heard a long story of the rascally tax-men making Scott pay for his. So, take care. Three hundred is a devil of a deduction out of three thousand.”

July 7th, 1815.

“‘Grata superveniet,’ &c. &c. I had written to you again, but burnt the letter, because I began to think you seriously hurt at my

* The following is the enclosure here referred to.

“I have lately purchased a set of your works, and am quite vexed that you have not cancelled the Ode to Buonaparte. It certainly was prematurely written, without thought or reflection. Providence has now brought him to reign over millions again, while the same Providence keeps as it were in a garrison another potentate, who, in the language of Mr. Burke, ‘he hurled from his throne.’ See if you cannot make amends far your folly, and consider that, in almost every respect, human nature is the same, in every clime and in every period, and don’t act the part of a foolish boy. Let not Englishmen talk of the stretch of tyrants, while the torrents of blood shed in the East Indies cry aloud to Heaven for retaliation. Learn. good sir, not to cast the first stone. I remain your lordship’s servant,

“J. R. * *.”

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indolence, and did not know how the buffoonery it contained might be taken. In the mean time, I have yours, and all is well.

“I had given over all hopes of yours. By the by, my ‘grata superveniet’ should be in the present tense; for I perceive it looks now as if it applied to this present scrawl reaching you, whereas it is to the receipt of thy Kilkenny epistle that I have tacked that venerable sentiment.

“Poor Whitbread died yesterday morning—a sudden and severe loss. His health had been wavering, but so fatal an attack was not apprehended. He dropped down and, I believe, never spoke afterwards. I perceive Perry attributes his death to Drury-lane,—a consolatory encouragement to the new Committee. I have no doubt that * *, who is of a plethoric habit, will be bled immediately; and as I have, since my marriage, lost much of my paleness, and,—‘horresco referens’ (for I hate even moderate fat)—that happy slenderness, to which, when I first knew you, I had attained, I by no means sit easy under this dispensation of the Morning Chronicle. Every one must regret the loss of Whitbread; he was surely a great and very good man.

“Paris is taken for the second time. I presume it, for the future, will have an anniversary capture. In the late battles, like all the world, I have lost a connexion,—poor Frederick Howard, the best of his race. I had little intercourse, of late years, with his family, but I never saw or heard but good of him. Hobhouse’s brother is killed. In short, the havoc has not left a family out of its tender mercies.

“Every hope of a republic is over, and we must go on under the old system. But I am sick at heart of politics and slaughters; and the luck which Providence is pleased to lavish on Lord * * is only a proof of the little value the gods set upon prosperity, when they permit such * * *s as he and that drunken corporal, old Blucher, to bully their betters. From this, however, Wellington should be excepted. He is a man,—and the Scipio of our Hannibal. However, he may thank the Russian frosts, which destroyed the real élite of the French army, for the successes of Waterloo.

“La! Moore—how you blasphemes about ‘Parnassus’ and ‘Moses!’
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 625
I am ashamed for you. Won’t you do any thing for the drama? We beseech an Opera.
Kinnaird’s blunder was partly mine. I wanted you of all things in the Committee, and so did he. But we are now glad you were wiser; for it is, I doubt, a bitter business.

“When shall we see you in England? Sir Ralph Noel (late Milbanke—he don’t promise to be late Noel in a hurry) finding that one man can’t inhabit two houses, has given his place in the north to me for a habitation; and there Lady B. threatens to be brought to bed in November. Sir R. and my Lady Mother are to quarter at Kirby—Lord Wentworth’s that was. Perhaps you and Mrs. Moore will pay us a visit at Seaham in the course of the autumn. If so, you and I (without our wives) will take a lark to Edinburgh and embrace Jeffrey. It is not much above one hundred miles from us. But all this, and other high matters, we will discuss at meeting, which I hope will be on your return. We don’t leave town till August.

“Ever, &c.”
“Sept. 15, 1815. Piccadilly Terrace.

“‘Ivan’ is accepted, and will be put in progress on Kean’s arrival.

“The theatrical gentlemen have a confident hope of its success. I know not that any alterations for the stage will be necessary; if any, they will be trifling, and you shall be duly apprized. I would suggest that you should not attend any except the latter rehearsals—the managers have requested me to state this to you. You can see them, viz., Dibdin and Rae, whenever you please, and I will do any thing you wish to be done on your suggestion, in the mean time.

Mrs. Mardyn is not yet out, and nothing can be determined till she has made her appearance—I mean as to her capacity for the part you
626 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.
mention, which I take it for granted is not in
Ivan—as I think Ivan may be performed very well without her. But of that hereafter.

“Ever yours, very truly,

“P.S. You will be glad to hear that the season has begun uncommonly well—great and constant houses—the performers in much harmony with the Committee and one another, and as much good-humour as can be preserved in such complicated and extensive interests as the Drury-lane proprietary.”

September 25th, 1815.

“I think it would be advisable for you to see the acting-managers when convenient, as these must be points on which you will want to confer: the objection I stated was merely on the part of the performers, and is general and not particular to this instance. I thought it as well to mention it at once—and some of the rehearsals you will doubtless see, notwithstanding.

Rae, I rather think, has his eye on Naritzin for himself. He is a more popular performer than Bartley, and certainly, the cast will be stronger with him in it; besides, he is one of the managers, and will feel doubly interested if he can act in both capacities. Mrs. Bartley will be Petrowna;—as to the Empress, I know not what to say or think. The truth is, we are not amply furnished with tragic women; but make the best of those we have, you can take your choice of them. We have all great hopes of the success—on which, setting aside other considerations, we are particularly anxious; as being the first tragedy to be brought out since the old Committee.

“By the way—I have a charge against you. As the great Mr. Dennis roared out on a similar occasion—‘By G—d, that is my thunder” so do I exclaim ‘This is my lightning! I allude to a speech of Ivan’s, in the scene, with Potrowna and the Empress, where the thought and
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 627
almost expression are similar to Conrad’s in the 3d Canto of the ‘
Corsair.’ I, however, do not say this to accuse you, but to exempt myself from suspicion*, as there is a priority of six months’ publication, on my part, between the appearance of that composition and of your tragedies.

George Lambe meant to have written to you. If you don’t like to confer with the managers at present, I will attend to your wishes—so state them.

“Yours very truly,
“13, Terrace, Piccadilly, September 25th, 1815.

“I am sorry you should feel uneasy at what has by no means troubled me†. If your Editor, his correspondents, and readers, are amused, I have no objection to be the theme of all the ballads he can find room for,—provided his lucubrations are confined to me only.

“It is a long time since things of this kind have ceased to ‘fright me from my propriety;’ nor do I know any similar attack which would

* Notwithstanding this precaution of the poet, the coincidence in question was, but a few years after, triumphantly cited in support of the sweeping charge of plagiarism brought against him by same scribblers. The following are Mr. Sotheby’s lines.

“And I have leapt
In transport from my flinty couch, to welcome
The thunder as it burst upon my roof,
And beckon’d to the lightning, as it flash’d
And sparkled on these fetters.”

Mr. Taylor having inserted in the Sun newspaper (of which he was then chief proprietor) a sonnet to Lord Byron, in return for a present which his lordship had sent him of a handsomely bound copy of all his works, there appeared in the same journal, on the following day (from the pen of some person who had acquired a control over the paper), a parody upon this sonnet, containing some disrespectful allusion to Lady Byron; and it is to this circumstance, which Mr. Taylor had written to explain, that the above letter, so creditable to the feelings of the noble husband, refers.

628 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.
induce me to turn again,—unless it involved those connected with me, whose qualities, I hope, are such as to exempt them in the eyes of those who bear no good-will to myself. In such a case, supposing it to occur—to reverse the saying of
Dr. Johnson,—‘what the law could not do for me, I would do for myself,’ be the consequences what they might.

“I return you, with many thanks, Colman and the letters. The Poems, I hope, you intended me to keep;—at least, I shall do so, till I hear the contrary.

“Very truly yours.”
“Sept. 25, 1815.

“Will you publish the Drury-lane ‘Magpye?’ or, what is more, will you give fifty, or even forty, pounds for the copyright of the said? I have undertaken to ask you this question on behalf of the translator, and wish you would. We can’t get so much for him by ten pounds from any body else, and I, knowing your magnificence, would be glad of an answer.

“Ever, &c.”
“September 27th, 1815.

“That’s right, and splendid, and becoming a publisher of high degree. Mr. Concanen (the translator) will be delighted, and pay his washerwoman; and in reward for your bountiful behaviour in this instance, I won’t ask you to publish any more for Drury-lane, or any lane whatever again. You will have no tragedy or any thing else from me, I assure you, and may think yourself lucky in having got rid of me, for good and all, without more damage. But I’ll tell you what we will do for you,—act Sotheby’s Ivan, which will succeed; and then your present and next impression of the dramas of that dramatic gentleman will be expedited to your heart’s content; and if there is any thing
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 629
very good, you shall have the refusal; but you shan’t have any more requests.

Sotheby has got a thought, and almost the words, from the Third Canto of the Corsair, which, you know, was published six months before his tragedy. It is from the storm in Conrad’s cell. I have written to Mr. Sotheby to claim it; and, as Dennis roared out of the pit, ‘By G—d, that’s my thunder!’ so do I, and will I, exclaim, ‘By G—d, that’s my lightning!’ that electrical fluid being, in fact, the subject of the said passage.

“You will have a print of Fanny Kelly, in the Maid, to prefix, which is honestly worth twice the money you have given for the MS. Pray what did you do with the note I gave you about Mungo Park?

“Ever, &c.”
“13, Terrace, Piccadilly, October 28, 1815.

“You are, it seems, in England again, as I am to hear from every body but yourself; and I suppose you punctilious, because I did not answer your last Irish letter. When did you leave the ‘swate country?’ Never mind, I forgive you;—a strong proof of—I know not what—to give the lie to—
‘He never pardons who hath done the wrong.’

“You have written to * *. You have also written to Perry, who intimates hope of an Opera from you. Coleridge has promised a Tragedy. Now, if you keep Perry’s word, and Coleridge keeps his own, Drury-lane will be set up;—and, sooth to say, it is in grievous want of such a lift. We began at speed, and are blown already. When I say ‘we,’ I mean Kinnaird, who is the ‘all in all sufficient,’ and can count, which none of the rest of the Committee can.

“It is really very good fun, as far as the daily and nightly stir of these strutters and fretters go; and, if the concern could be brought to
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pay a shilling in the pound, would do much credit to the management.
Mr. —— has an accepted tragedy, * * * * *, whose first scene is in his sleep (I don’t mean the author’s). It was forwarded to us as a prodigious favourite of Kean’s; but the said Kean, upon interrogation, denies his eulogy, and protests against his part. How it will end, I know not.

“I say so much about the theatre, because there is nothing else alive in London at this season. All the world are out of it, except us, who remain to lie in,—in December, or perhaps earlier. Lady B. is very ponderous and prosperous, apparently, and I wish it well over.

“There is a play before me from a personage who signs himself ‘Hibernicus.’ The hero is Malachi, the Irishman and king; and the villain and usurper, Turgesius, the Dane. The conclusion is fine. Turgesius is chained by the leg (vide stage direction) to a pillar on the stage; and King Malachi makes him a speech, not unlike Lord Castlereagh’s about the balance of power and the lawfulness of legitimacy, which puts Turgesius into a frenzy—as Castlereagh’s would, if his audience was chained by the leg. He draws a dagger and rushes at the orator; but, finding himself at the end of his tether, he sticks it into his own carcass, and dies, saying, he has fulfilled a prophecy.

“Now, this is serious, downright matter of fact, and the gravest part of a tragedy which is not intended for burlesque. I tell it you for the honour of Ireland. The writer hopes it will be represented:—but what is Hope? nothing but the paint on the face of Existence; the least touch of truth rubs it off, and then we see what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of. I am not sure that I have not said this last superfine reflection before. But never mind;—it will do for the tragedy of Turgesius, to which I can append it.

“Well, but how dost thou do? thou bard, not of a thousand, but three thousand! I wish your friend, Sir John Piano-forte, had kept that to himself, and not made it public at the trial of the song-seller in Dublin. I tell you why; it is a liberal thing for Longman to do, and honourable for you to obtain; but it will set all the ‘hungry and dinnerless, lank-jawed judges’ upon the fortunate author. But they be d—d!—the ‘Jeffrey and the Moore together are confident against the world in ink!’ By the way, if poor C * * e—who is a man of wonderful talent,
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 631
and in distress*, and about to publish two vols. of
Poesy and Biography, and who has been worse used by the critics than ever we were—will you, if he comes out, promise me to review him favourably in the E. R.? Praise him, I think you must, but you will also praise him well,—of all things the most difficult. It will be the making of him.

“This must be a secret between you and me, as Jeffrey might not like such a project;—nor, indeed, might C. himself like it. But I do think he only wants a pioneer and a sparkle or two to explode most gloriously.

“Ever yours most affectionately,

“P.S. This is a sad scribbler’s letter; but the next shall be ‘more of this world.’”

As, after this letter, there occur but few allusions to his connexion with the Drury-lane Management, I shall here avail myself of the opportunity to give some extracts from his “Detached Thoughts,” containing recollections of his short acquaintance with the interior of the theatre.

“When I belonged to the Drury-lane Committee and was one of the Sub-Committee of Management, the number of plays upon the shelves were about five hundred. Conceiving that amongst these there must be some of merit, in person and by proxy I caused an investigation. I do not think that of those which I saw there was one which could be conscientiously tolerated. There never were such things as most of them! Mathurin was very kindly recommended to me by Walter Scott, to whom I had recourse, firstly, in the hope that he would do something for us himself, and secondly, in my despair, that he would point out to us any young (or old) writer of promise. Mathurin sent his Bertram and a letter without his address, so that at first I could give him no answer.

* It is but justice both to “him that gave and him that took” to mention that the noble poet, at this time, with a delicacy which enhanced the kindness, advanced to the eminent person here spoken of on the credit of some work he was about to produce, one hundred pounds.

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When I at last hit upon his residence, I sent him a favourable answer and something more substantial. His play succeeded; but I was at that time absent from England.

“I tried Coleridge too; but he had nothing feasible in hand at the time. Mr. Sotheby obligingly offered all his tragedies, and I pledged myself, and notwithstanding many squabbles with my Committed Brethren, did get ‘Ivan’ accepted, read, and the parts distributed. But, lo! in the very heart of the matter, upon some tepidness on the part of Kean, or warmth on that of the author, Sotheby withdrew his play. Sir J. B. Burgess did also present four tragedies and a farce, and I moved green-room and Sub-Committee, but they would not.

“Then the scenes I had to go through!—the authors, and the authoresses, and the milliners, and the wild Irishmen,—the people from Brighton, from Blackwall, from Chatham, from Cheltenham, from Dublin, from Dundee,—who came in upon me! to all of whom it was proper to give a civil answer, and a hearing, and a reading. Mrs. * * * *’s father, an Irish dancing-master of sixty years, called upon me to request to play Archer, dressed in silk stockings on a frosty morning to show his legs (which were certainly good and Irish for his age, and had been still better),—Miss Emma Somebody with a play entitled ‘The Bandit of Bohemia,’ or some such title or production,—Mr. O’Higgins, then resident at Richmond, with an Irish tragedy, in which the unities could not fail to be observed, for the protagonist was chained by the leg to a pillar during the chief part of the performance. He was a wild man, of a salvage appearance, and the difficulty of not laughing at him was only to be got over by reflecting upon the probable consequences of such cachinnation.

“As I am really a civil and polite person, and do hate giving pain when it can be avoided, I sent them up to Douglas Kinnaird,—who is a man of business, and sufficiently ready with a negative,—and left them to settle with him; and as the beginning of next year I went abroad, I have since been little aware of the progress of the theatres.

* * * * * *

“Players are said to be an impracticable people. They are so; but I managed to steer clear of any disputes with them, and excepting one
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 633
debate* with the
elder Byrne about Miss Smith’s pas de—(something—I forget the technicals),—I do not remember any litigation of my own. I used to protect Miss Smith, because she was like Lady Jane Harley in the face, and likenesses go a great way with me. Indeed, in general, I left such things to my more bustling colleagues, who used to reprove me seriously for not being able to take such things in hand without buffooning with the histrions, or throwing things into confusion by treating light matters with levity.

* * * * * *

“Then the Committee!—then the Sub-committee!—we were but few, but never agreed. There was Peter Moore who contradicted Kinnaird, and Kinnaird who contradicted every body: then our two managers, Rae and Dibdin; and our secretary, Ward! and yet we were all very zealous and in earnest to do good and so forth. * * * * furnished us with prologues to our revived old English plays; but was not pleased with me for complimenting him as ‘the Upton’ of our theatre (Mr. Upton is or was the poet who writes the songs for Astley’s), and almost gave up prologuing in consequence.

* * * * * *

“In the pantomime of 1815-16, there was a representation of the masquerade of 1814 given by ‘us youth’ of Watier’s Club to Wellington and Co. Douglas Kinnaird and one or two others, with myself, put on masques, and went on the stage with the όι πολλοι, to see the effect of

* A correspondent of one of the monthly Miscellanies gives the following account of this incident.

“During Lord Byron’s administration, a ballet was invented by the elder Byrne, in which Miss Smith (since Mrs. Oscar Byrne) had a pas seul. This the lady wished to remove to a later period in the ballet. The ballet-master refused, and the lady swore she would not dance it at all. The music incidental to the dance began to play, and the lady walked off the stage. Both parties flounced into the green-room to lay the case before Lord Byron, who happened to be the only person in that apartment. The noble committee-man made an award in favour of Miss Smith, and both complainants rushed angrily out of the room at the instant of my entering it. ‘If you had come a minute sooner said Lord Byron, ‘you would have heard a curious matter decided on by me: a question of dancing!—by me,’ added be looking down at the lame limb, ‘whom Nature from my birth has prohibited from taking a single step.’ His countenance fell after he had uttered this, as if he had said too much; and for a moment there was an embarrassing silence on both sides.”

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a theatre from the stage:—it is very grand. Douglas danced among the figuranti too, and they were puzzled to find out who we were, as being more than their number. It was odd enough that Douglas Kinnaird and I should have been both at the real masquerade, and afterwards in the mimic one of the same, on the stage of Drury-lane theatre.”

“Terrace, Piccadilly, October 31, 1815.

“I have not been able to ascertain precisely the time of duration of the stock market; but I believe it is a good time for selling out, and I hope so. First, because I shall see you; and, next, because I shall receive certain monies on behalf of Lady B., the which will materially conduce to my comfort,—I wanting (as the duns say) ‘to make up a sum.’

“Yesterday, I dined out with a largeish party, where were Sheridan and Colman, Harry Harris of C. G. and his brother, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Ds. Kinnaird, and others, of note and notoriety. Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then altogethery, then inarticulate, and then drunk. When we had reached the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down again without stumbling;—and, to crown all, Kinnaird and I had to conduct Sheridan down a d—d corkscrew staircase, which had certainly been constructed before the discovery of fermented liquors, and to which no legs, however crooked, could possibly accommodate themselves. We deposited him safe at home, where his man, evidently used to the business, waited to receive him in the hall.

“Both he and Colman were, as usual, very good; but I carried away much wine, and the wine had previously carried away my memory; so that all was hiccup and happiness for the last hour or so, and I am not impregnated with any of the conversation. Perhaps you heard of a late answer of Sheridan to the watchman who found him bereft of that ‘divine particle of air,’ called reason, * * * * * * * * * *. He, the watchman, found Sherry in the street, fuddled and bewildered, and almost insensible. ‘Who are you, sir?’—no answer.
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 635
‘What’s your name?’—a hiccup. ‘What’s your name?’—Answer, in a slow, deliberate, and impassive tone—‘
Wilberforce!!!’ Is not that Sherry all over?—and, to my mind, excellent. Poor fellow, his very dregs are better than the ‘first sprightly runnings’ of others.

“My paper is full, and I have a grievous headache.

“P.S. Lady B. is in full progress. Next month will bring to light (with the aid of ‘Juno Lucina, fer opem,’ or rather opes, for the last are most wanted), the tenth wonder of the world—Gil Blas being the eighth, and he (my son’s father) the ninth.”

“November 4th, 1815.

“Had you not bewildered my head with the ‘stocks,’ your letter would have been answered directly. Hadn’t I to go to the city? and hadn’t I to remember what to ask when I got there? and hadn’t I forgotten it?

“I should be undoubtedly delighted to see you; but I don’t like to urge against your reasons my own inclinations. Come you must soon, for stay you won’t. I know you of old;—you have been too much leavened with London to keep long out of it.

Lewis is going to Jamaica to suck his sugar-canes. He sails in two days; I enclose you his farewell note. I saw him last night at D. L. T. for the last time previous to his voyage. Poor fellow! he is really a good man—an excellent man—he left me his walking-stick and a pot of preserved ginger. I shall never eat the last without tears in my eyes, it is so hot. We have had a devil of a row among our ballerinas: Miss Smith has been wronged about a hornpipe. The Committee have interfered; but Byrne, the d—d ballet-master, won’t budge a step. I am furious, so is George Lamb. Kinnaird is very glad, because—he don’t know why; and I am very sorry, for the same reason. Today I dine with Kd.—we are to have Sheridan and Colman again; and tomorrow, once more, at Sir Gilbert Heathcote’s.

* * * * *
636 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.

Leigh Hunt has written a real good and very original Poem, which I think will he a great hit. You can have no notion how very well it is written, nor should I, had I not redde it. As to us, Tom—eh, when art thou out? If you think the verses worth it, I would rather they were embalmed in the Irish Melodies, than scattered abroad in a separate song—much rather. But when are thy great things out? I mean the Po of Pos—thy Shah Nameh. It is very kind in Jeffrey to like the Hebrew Melodies. Some of the fellows here preferred Sternhold and Hopkins, and said so;—‘the fiend receive their souls therefor!’

“I must go and dress for dinner. Poor, dear Murat, what an end! You know, I suppose, that his white plume used to be a rallying point in battle, like Henry Fourth’s. He refused a confessor and a bandage;—so would neither suffer his soul or body to be bandaged. You shall have more to-morrow or next day.

“Ever, &c.”
“November 4th, 1815.

“When you have been enabled to form an opinion on Mr. Coleridge’s MS.* you will oblige me by returning it, as, in fact, I have no authority to let it out of my hands. I think most highly of it, and feel anxious that you should be the publisher; but if you are not, I do not despair of finding those who will.

“I have written to Mr. Leigh Hunt, stating your willingness to treat with him, which, when I saw you, I understood you to be. Terms and time, I leave to his pleasure and your discernment; but this I will say, that I think it the safest thing you ever engaged in. I speak to you as a man of business: were I to talk to you as a reader or a critic, I should say, it was a very wonderful and beautiful performance, with just enough of fault to make its beauties more remarked and remarkable.

And now to the last—my own, which I feel ashamed of after the

* A Tragedy entitled, I think, Zopolia.

A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 637
others:—publish or not as you like, I don’t care one damn. If you don’t, no one else shall, and I never thought or dreamed of it, except as one in the collection. If it is worth being in the fourth volume, put it there and nowhere else; and if not, put it in the fire.


Those embarrassments which, from a review of his affairs previous to the marriage, he had clearly foreseen would, before long, overtake him, were not slow in realizing his worst omens. The increased expenses induced by his new mode of life, with but very little increase of means to meet them,—the long arrears of early pecuniary obligations, as well as the claims which had been, gradually, since then, accumulating, all pressed upon him now with collected force, and reduced him to some of the worst humiliations of poverty. He had been even driven, by the necessity of encountering such demands, to the trying expedient of parting with his books,—which circumstance coming to Mr. Murray’s ears, that gentleman instantly forwarded to him £1500, with an assurance that another sum of the same amount should be at his service in a few weeks, and that if such assistance should not be sufficient, Mr. Murray was most ready to dispose of the copyrights of all his past works for his use.

This very liberal offer, Lord Byron acknowledged in the following letter.

“November 14, 1815.

“I return you your bills not accepted, but certainly not unhonoured. Your present offer is a favour which I would accept from you, if I accepted such from any man. Had such been my intention, I can assure you I would have asked you fairly, and as freely as you would give; and I cannot say more of my confidence or your conduct

“The circumstances which induce me to part with my books, though sufficiently, are not immediately, pressing. I have made up my mind to them, and there’s an end.

638 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1815.

“Had I been disposed to trespass on your kindness in this way, it would have been before now; but I am not sorry to have an opportunity of declining it, as it sets my opinion of you, and indeed of human nature, in a different light from that in which I have been accustomed to consider it.

“Believe me very truly, &c.
December 25th, 1815.

“I send some lines, written some time ago, and intended as an opening to the ‘Siege of Corinth.’ I had forgotten them, and am not sure that they had not better be left out now:—on that, you and your Synod can determine.

“Yours, &c.”

The following are the lines alluded to in this note. They are written in the loosest form of that rambling style of metre which his admiration of Mr. Coleridge’sChristabel” led him, at this time, to adopt; and he judged rightly, perhaps, in omitting them as the opening of his Poem. They are, however, too full of spirit and character to be lost. Though breathing the thick atmosphere of Piccadilly when he wrote them, it is plain that his fancy was far away, among the sunny hills and vales of Greece; and their contrast with the tame life he was leading at the moment but gave to his recollections a fresher spring and force.

In the year since Jesus died for men,
Eighteen hundred years and ten,
We were a gallant company,
Riding o’er land, and sailing o’er sea.
Oh but we went merrily!
We forded the river, and clomb the high hill,
Never our steeds for a day stood still;
Whether we lay in the cave or the shed,
Our sleep fell soft on the hardest bed;
Whether we couch’d in our rough capote,
On the rougher plank of our gliding boat,
A. D. 1815. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 639
Or stretch’d on the beach, or our saddles spread
As a pillow beneath the resting head,
Fresh we woke upon the morrow;
All our thoughts and words had scope,
We had health, and we had hope,
Toil and travel, but no sorrow.
We were of all tongues and creeds;—
Some were those who counted beads,
Some of mosque, and some of church,
And some, or I mis-say, of neither:
Yet through the wide world might ye search
Nor find a motlier crew nor blither.
But some are dead, and some are gone,
And some are scatter’d and alone,
And some are rebels on the hills*
That look along Epirus’ valleys
Where Freedom still at moments rallies,
And pays in blood Oppression’s ills;
And some are in a far countree,
And some all restlessly at home;
But never more, oh! never, we
Shall meet to revel and to roam.
But those hardy days flew cheerily,
And when they now fall drearily,
My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,
And hear my spirit back again
Over the earth, and through the air,
A wild bird, and a wanderer.
’Tis this that ever wakes my strain,
And oft, too oft, implores again
The few who may endure my lay,
To follow me so far away.
Stranger—wilt thou follow now,
And sit with me on Acro-Corinth’s brow?”

* “The last tidings recently heard of Dervish (one of the Arnaouts who followed me) state him to be in revolt upon the mountains, at the head of souls of the bands common in that country in times of trouble.”