LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 19 September 1818

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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“Venice, September 19th, 1818.

“An English newspaper here would be a prodigy, and an opposition one a monster; and except some extracts from extracts in the vile, garbled Paris gazettes, nothing of the kind reaches the Veneto-Lombard public, who are perhaps the most oppressed in Europe. My correspondencies with England are mostly on business, and chiefly with my * * *, who has no very exalted notion, or extensive conception, of an author’s attributes; for he once took up an Edinburgh Review, and, looking at it a minute, said to me, ‘So, I see you have got into the magazine,’—which is the only sentence I ever heard him utter upon literary matters, or the men thereof.

“My first news of your Irish Apotheosis has, consequently, been from yourself. But, as it will not be forgotten in a hurry, either by your friends or your enemies, I hope to have it more in detail from some of the former, and, in the meantime, I wish you joy with all my heart. Such a moment must have been a good deal better than Westminster-abbey,—besides being an assurance of that one day (many years hence, I trust,) into the bargain.

“I am sorry to perceive, however, by the close of your letter, that even you have not escaped the ‘surgit amari,’ &c. and that your damned deputy has been gathering such ‘dew from the still vext Bermoothes’—or rather vexatious. Pray, give me some items of the affair, as you say it is a serious one; and, if it grows more so, you should make a trip over here for a few months, to see how things turn out. I suppose you are a violent admirer of England by your staying so long in it. For my own part, I have passed, between the age of one-and-twenty and thirty, half the intervenient years out of it without regretting any thing, except that I ever returned to it at all, and the gloomy prospect before me of business and parentage obliging me, one day, to return to it again,—at least, for
198 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1818.
the transaction of affairs, the signing of papers, and inspecting of children.

“I have here my natural daughter, by name Allegra,—a pretty little girl enough, and reckoned like papa†. Her mamma is English,—but it is a long story, and—there’s an end. She is about twenty months old. * * * * * * *

“I have finished the First Canto (a long one, of about 180 octaves) of a poem in the style and manner of ‘Beppo,’ encouraged by the good success of the same. It is called ‘Don Juan,’ and is meant to be a little quietly facetious upon every thing. But I doubt whether it is not—at least, as far as it has yet gone—too free for these very modest days. However, I shall try the experiment, anonymously, and if it don’t take, it will be discontinued. It is dedicated to S * * in good, simple, savage verse, upon the * * * *’s politics, and the way he got them. But the bore of copying it out is intolerable; and if I had an amanuensis he would be of no use, as my writing is so difficult to decipher.
“My poem’s Epic, and is meant to be
Divided in twelve books, each book containing,
With love and war, a heavy gale at sea—
A list of ships, and captains, and kings reigning—
New characters, &c. &c.
The above are two stanzas, which I send you as a brick of my Babel, and by which you can judge of the texture of the structure.

† This little child had been sent to him by its mother about four or five months before, under the care of a Swiss nurse, a young girl not above nineteen or twenty years of age, and in every respect unit to have the charge of such an infant, without the superintendence of some more experienced person. “The child, accordingly.” says my informant, “was but ill taken care of;—not that any blame could attach to Lord Byron, for he always expressed himself most anxious for her welfare, but because the nurse wanted the necessary experience. The poor girl was equally to be pitied; for, as Lord Byron’s household consisted of English and Italian men servants, with whom she could hold no converse, and as there was no other female to consult with and assist her in her charge, nothing could be more forlorn than her situation proved to be.”

Soon after the date of the above letter, Mrs. Hoppner, the lady of the Consul General, who had, from the first, in compassion both to father and child, invited the little Allegra occasionally to her house, very kindly proposed to Lord Byron to take charge of her altogether, and an arrangement was accordingly concluded upon for that purpose.

A. D. 1818. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 199

“In writing the Life of Sheridan, never mind the angry lies of the humbug whigs. Recollect that he was an Irishman and a clever fellow, and that we have had some very pleasant days with him. Don’t forget that he was at school at Harrow, where, in my time, we used to show his name—R. B. Sheridan, 1765—as an honour to the walls. Remember * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * Depend upon it that there were worse folks going, of that gang, than ever Sheridan was.

“What did Parr mean by ‘haughtiness and coldness?’ I listened to him with admiring ignorance, and respectful silence. What more could a talker for fame have?—they don’t like to be answered. It was at Payne Knight’s I met him, where he gave me more Greek than I could carry away. But I certainly meant to (and did) treat him with the most respectful deference.

“I wish you good night, with a Venetian benediction, ‘Benedetto te, e la terra che ti fara!’—‘May you be blessed, and the earth which you will make’—is it not pretty? You would think it still prettier if you had heard it, as I did two hours ago, from the lips of a Venetian girl, with large black eyes, a face like Faustina’s, and the figure of a Juno—tall and energetic as a Pythoness, with eyes flashing, and her dark hair streaming in the moonlight—one of those women who may be made any thing. I am sure if I put a poniard into the hand of this one, she would plunge it where I told her,—and into me, if I offended her. I like this kind of animal, and am sure that I should have preferred Medea to any woman that ever breathed. You may, perhaps, wonder that I don’t in that case *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * I could have forgiven the dagger or the bowl, any thing, but the deliberate desolation piled upon me, when I stood alone upon my hearth, with my household gods shivered around me†. *
* * *

† “I had one only fount of quiet left,
And that they poison’d! My pure household gods
Were shiver’d on my hearth.”

200 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1818.
* * * *. Do you suppose I have forgotten or forgiven it? It has comparatively swallowed up in me every other feeling, and I am only a spectator upon earth, till, a tenfold opportunity offers. It may come yet. There are others more to be blamed than * * * *, and it is on these that my eyes are fixed unceasingly.”