LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 15 September 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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Produced by CATH
Sept. 15th, 1817.

“I enclose a sheet for correction, if ever you get to another edition. You will observe that the blunder in printing makes it appear as if the Chateau was over St. Gingo, instead of being on the opposite shore of the Lake, over Clarens. So, separate the paragraphs, otherwise my topography will seem as inaccurate as your typography on this occasion.

“The other day I wrote to convey my proposition with regard to the fourth and concluding Canto. I have gone over and extended it to one hundred and fifty stanzas, which is almost as long as the two first were originally, and longer by itself than any of the smaller poems except the ‘Corsair.’ Mr. Hobhouse has made some very valuable and accurate notes of considerable length, and you may be sure that I will do for the text all that I can to finish with decency. I look upon Childe Harold as my best; and as I begun, I think of concluding with it. But I make no resolutions on that head, as I broke my former intention with regard to the ‘Corsair.’ However, I fear that I shall never do better; and yet, not being thirty years of age, for some moons to come, one ought to be progressive as far as intellect goes for many a good year. But I have had a devilish deal of tear and wear of mind and body in my time, besides having published too often and much already. God grant me some judgment to do what may be most fitting in that and every thing else, for I doubt my own exceedingly.

“I have read ‘Lalla Rookh,’ but not with sufficient attention yet, for I ride about, and lounge, and ponder, and—two or three other things; so that my reading is very desultory, and not so attentive as it used to be. I am very glad to hear of its popularity, for Moore is a very noble fellow in all respects, and will enjoy it without any of the bad feelings which success—good or evil—sometimes engenders in the men of rhyme. Of the Poem itself, I will tell you my opinion when I have mastered it: I say of the Poem, for I don’t like the prose at all, at
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 147
all; and in the meantime, the ‘
Fire-worshippers’ is the best, and the ‘Veiled Prophet’ the worst, of the volume.

“With regard to poetry in general*, I am convinced, the more I think of it, that he and all of us—Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Moore, Campbell, I,—are all in the wrong, one as much as another; that we are upon a wrong revolutionary poetical system, or systems, not worth a damn in itself, and from which none but Rogers and Crabbe are free; and that the present and next generations will finally be of this opinion. I am the more confirmed in this by having lately gone over some of our classics, particularly Pope, whom I tried in this way:—I took Moore’s poems and my own and some others, and went over them side by side with Pope’s, and I was really astonished (I ought not to have been so) and mortified at the ineffable distance in point of sense, learning, effect, and even imagination, passion, and invention, between the little Queen Anne’s man, and us of the Lower Empire. Depend upon it, it is all Horace then, and Claudian now, among us; and if I had to begin again, I would mould myself accordingly. Crabbe’s the man, but he has got a coarse and impracticable subject, and * * * is retired upon half-pay, and has done enough, unless he were to do as he did formerly.”