LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 3 November 1821

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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“Pisa, November 3d, 1821.

“The two passages cannot be altered without making Lucifer talk like the Bishop of Lincoln, which would not be in the character of the former. The notion is from Cuvier (that of the old worlds), as I have explained in an additional note to the preface. The other passage is also in character: if nonsense, so much the better, because then it can do no harm, and the sillier Satan is made, the safer for every body. As to ‘alarms,’ &c. do you really think such things ever led any body astray? Are these people more impious than Milton’s Satan? or the Prometheus of Æschylus? or even than the Sadducees of * *, the ‘Fall of Jerusalem’ * *? Are not Adam, Eve, Adah, and Abel, as pious as the catechism?

Gifford is too wise a man to think that such things can have any serious effect: who was ever altered by a poem? I beg leave to observe, that there is no creed nor personal hypothesis of mine in all this; but I was obliged to make Cain and Lucifer talk consistently, and surely this has always been permitted to poesy. Cain is a proud man: if Lucifer promised him kingdom, &c. it would elate him: the object of the Demon is to depress him still further in his own estimation than he was before, by
556 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
showing him infinite things and his own abasement, till he falls into the frame of mind that leads to the catastrophe, from mere internal irritation, not premeditation, or envy of Abel (which would have made him contemptible), but from rage and fury against the inadequacy of his state to his conceptions, and which discharges itself rather against life, and the author of life, than the mere living.

“His subsequent remorse is the natural effect of looking on his sudden deed. Had the deed been premeditated, his repentance would have been tardier.

“Either dedicate it to Walter Scott, or if you think he would like the dedication of ‘the Foscaris’ better, put the dedication to ‘the Foscaris.’ Ask him which.

“Your first note was queer enough; but your two other letters, with Moore’s and Gifford’s opinions, set all right again. I told you before that I can never recast any thing. I am like the tiger: if I miss the first spring I go grumbling back to my jungle again; but if I do hit, it is crushing.
* * * You disparaged the last three cantos to me, and kept them back above a year; but I have heard from England that (notwithstanding the errors of the press) they are well thought of; for instance, by American Irving, which last is a feather in my (fool’s) cap.

“You have received my letter (open) through Mr. Kinnaird, and so, pray, send me no more reviews of any kind. I will read no more of evil or good in that line. Walter Scott has not read a review of himself for thirteen years.

“The bust is not my property, but Hobhouse’s. I addressed it to you as an Admiralty man, great at the custom-house. Pray deduct the expenses of the same, and all others.

“Yours, &c.”