LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 21 August 1817

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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“La Mira, near Venice, August 21st, 1817.

“I take you at your word about Mr. Hanson, and will feel obliged if you will go to him, and request Mr. Davies also to visit him by my desire, and repeat that I trust that neither Mr. Kinnaird’s absence nor mine will prevent his taking all proper steps to accelerate and promote the sale of Newstead and Rochdale, upon which the whole of my future personal comfort depends. It is impossible for me to express how much any delays upon these points would inconvenience me; and I do not know a greater obligation that can be conferred upon me than the pressing these things upon Hanson, and making him act according to my wishes. I wish you would speak out, at least to me, and tell me what you allude to by your cold way of mentioning him. All mysteries at such a distance are not merely tormenting but mischievous, and may be prejudicial to my interests; so, pray expound, that I may consult with Mr. Kinnaird when he arrives; and remember that I prefer the most disagreeable certainties to hints and innuendoes. The devil take every body: I never can get any person to be explicit about any thing or any body, and my whole life is passed in conjectures of what people mean: you all talk in the style of C * * L * *’s novels.

“It is not Mr. St. John, but Mr. St. Aubyn, son of Sir John St. Aubyn. Polidori knows him, and introduced him to me. He is of Oxford, and has got my parcel. The doctor will ferret him out, or ought. The parcel contains many letters, some of Madame de Staël’s, and other people’s, besides MSS., &c. By ——, if I find the gentleman, and he don’t find the parcel, I will say something he won’t like to hear.

“You want a ‘civil and delicate declension’ for the medical tragedy? Take it—

“Dear Doctor, I have read your play,
Which is a good one in its way,—
140 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Purges the eyes and moves the bowels,
And drenches handkerchiefs like towels
With tears, that, in a flux of grief,
Afford hysterical relief
To shatter’d nerves and quicken’d pulses,
Which your catastrophe convulses.
“I like your moral and machinery;
Your plot, too, has such scope for scenery!
Your dialogue is apt and smart;
The play’s concoction full of art;
Your hero raves, your heroine cries,
All stab, and every body dies.
In short, your tragedy would be
The very thing to hear and see:
And for a piece of publication,
If I decline on this occasion,
It is not that I am not sensible
To merits in themselves ostensible,
But—and I grieve to speak it—plays
Are drugs—mere drugs, sir—now-a-days.
I had a heavy loss by ‘Manuel,’—
Too lucky if it prove not annual,—
And S * *, with his ‘Orestes,’
(Which, by the by, the author’s best is,)
Has lain so very long on hand
That I despair of all demand.
I’ve advertised, but see my books,
Or only watch my shopman’s looks;—
Still Ivan, Ina, and such lumber,
My back-shop glut, my shelves encumber.
“There’s Byron too, who once did better,
Has sent me, folded in a letter,
A sort of—it’s no more a drama
Than Darnley, Ivan, or Kehama;
So alter’d since last year his pen is,
I think he’s lost his wits at Venice.
* * * * * *
In short, sir, what with one and t’other,
I dare not venture on another.
I write in haste; excuse each blunder;
The coaches through the street so thunder!
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 141
My room’s so full—we’ve Gifford here
Reading MS., with Hookham Frere,
Pronouncing on the nouns and particles
Of some of our forthcoming Articles.
“The Quarterly—Ah, sir, if you
Had but the genius to review!—
A smart critique upon St. Helena,
Or if you only would but tell in a
Short compass what—but, to resume:
As I was saying, sir, the room—
The room’s so full of wits and bards,
Crabbes, Campbells, Crokers, Freres, and Wards,
And others, neither bards nor wits:—
My humble tenement admits
All persons in the dress of gent.,
“A party dines with me to-day,
All clever men, who make their way;
They’re at this moment in discussion
On poor De Staël’s late dissolution.
Her book, they say, was in advance—
Pray Heaven, she tell the truth of France!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
“Thus run our time and tongues away.—
But, to return, sir, to your play:
Sorry, sir, but I can not deal,
Unless ’twere acted by O’Neill.
My hands so full, my head so busy,
I’m almost dead, and always dizzy;
And so, with endless truth and hurry,
Dear Doctor, I am yours,

“P.S. I’ve done the fourth and last Canto, which amounts to 133 stanzas. I desire you to name a price; if you don’t, I will; so I advise you in time.

“Yours, &c.

“There will be a good many notes.”