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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 19 May 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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“Ravenna, May 19th, 1821.

“By the papers of Thursday, and two letters of Mr. Kinnaird, I perceive that the Italian gazette had lied most Italically, and that the
484 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
drama had not been hissed, and that my friends had interfered to prevent the representation. So it seems they continue to act it, in spite of us all: for this we must ‘trouble them at ’size.’ Let it by all means be brought to a plea: I am determined to try the right, and will meet the expenses. The reason of the Lombard lie was that the Austrians—who keep up an Inquisition throughout Italy, and a list of names of all who think or speak of any thing but in favour of their despotism—have for five years past abused me in every form in the Gazette of Milan, &c. I wrote to you a week ago on the subject.

“Now I should be glad to know what compensation Mr. Elliston would make me, not only for dragging my writings on the stage in five days, but for being the cause that I was kept for four days (from Sunday to Thursday morning, the only post-days) in the belief that the tragedy had been acted and ‘unanimously hissed;’ and this with the addition that I ‘had brought it upon the stage,’ and consequently that none of my friends had attended to my request to the contrary. Suppose that I had burst a blood-vessel, like John Keats, or blown my brains out in a fit of rage,—neither of which would have been unlikely a few years ago. At present I am, luckily, calmer than I used to be, and yet I would not pass those four days over again for—I know not what*.

* The account, given by Madame Guiccioli, of his anxiety on this occasion fully corroborates his own:—“His quiet was, in spite of himself; often disturbed by public events, and by the attacks which, principally in his character of author, the journals levelled at him. In vain did he protest that he was indifferent to these attacks. The impression was, it is true, but momentary, and he, from a feeling of noble pride, but too much disdained to reply to his detractors. But, however brief his annoyance was, it was sufficiently acute to occasion him much pain, and to afflict those who loved him. Every occurrence relative to the bringing Marino Faliero on the stage caused him excessive inquietude. On the occasion of an article in the Milan Gazette, in which mention was made of this affair, he wrote to me in the following manner:—‘You will see here confirmation of what I told you the other day! I am sacrificed in every way, without knowing the why or the wherefore. The tragedy in question is not (nor ever was) written for, or adapted to, the stage; nevertheless, the plan is not romantic; it is rather regular than otherwise;—in point of unity of time, indeed, perfectly regular, and failing but slightly in unity of place. You well know whether it was ever my intention to have it acted, since it was written at your side, and at a period assuredly rather more tragical to me as a man than as an author; for you were in affliction and peril. In the mean time, I learn from your Gazette that a cabal and party has been formed, while I myself have never taken the slightest step in the business. It is said that the author read it aloud!!!—here, probably, at Ravenna?

A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 485

“I wrote to you to keep up your spirits, for reproach is useless always, and irritating—but my feelings were very much hurt, to be dragged like a gladiator to the fate of a gladiator by that ‘retiarius,’ Mr. Elliston. As to his defence and offers of compensation, what is all this to the purpose? It is like Louis the XIVth. who insisted upon buying at any price Algernon Sydney’s horse, and, on his refusal, on taking it by force, Sydney shot his horse. I could not shoot my tragedy, but I would have flung it into the fire rather than have had it represented.

“I have now written nearly three acts of another (intending to complete it in five), and am more anxious than ever to be preserved from such a breach of all literary courtesy and gentlemanly consideration.

“If we succeed, well; if not, previous to any future publication we will request a promise not to be acted, which I would even pay for (as money is their object), or I will not publish—which, however, you will probably not much regret.

“The Chancellor has behaved nobly. You have also conducted yourself in the most satisfactory manner; and I have no fault to find with any body but the stage-players, and their proprietor. I was always so civil to Elliston personally that he ought to have been the last to attempt to injure me.

“There is a most rattling thunder-storm pelting away at this present

—and to whom? perhaps to Fletcher!!!—that illustrious literary character, &c. &c.’”—“Ma però la sua tranquillità era suo malgrado sovente alterata dalle publiche vicende, e dagli attachi che spesso si direggevano a lui nei giornali come ad autore principalmente. Era invano che egli protestava indifferenza per codesti attachi. L’impressione non era é vero che momentanea, e purtroppo per una nobile fierezza sdegrava sempre di rispondere ai suoi dettratori. Ma per quanto fosse breve quella impressione era però assai forte per farlo molto soffrire e per affliggere quelli che lo amavano. Tuttociò che ebbe luogo per la rappresentazione del suo Marino Faliero lo inquietò pure moltissimo e dietro ad un articolo di una Gazetta di Milano in cui si parlava di quell’ affare egli mi scrisse così—‘Ecco la verità di ciò che io vi dissi pochi giorni fa, come vengo sacrificato in tutte le maniere senza sapere il perché e il come. La tragedia di cui si parla non è (e non era mai) nè scritta nè adattata al teatro; ma non è però romantico il disegno, è piuttosto regolure—regolarissimo per l’unità del tempo, e mencando poco a quella del sito. Voi sapete bene se io aveva intenzione di farla rappresentare, poicheè era scritta al vostro fianco e nei momenti per certo più tragici per me come uomo che come autore,—perchè voi eravate in affanno ed in pericolo. Intanto sento dalla vostra Gazetta che sia nata una cabala, un partito, e senza ch’io vi abbia presa la minima parte. Si dice che l’autore ne fece la lettura!!!—qui forse? a Ravenna?—ed a chi? forse a Fletcher!!!—quel illustre litterato, &c. &c.’”

486 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
writing; so that I write neither by day, nor by candle, nor torchlight, but by lightning light: the flashes are as brilliant as the most gaseous glow of the gas-light company. My chimney-board has just been thrown down by a gust of wind: I thought that it was the ‘Bold Thunder’ and ‘Brisk Lightning’ in person.—Three of us would be too many. There it goes—flash again! but
‘I tax not you, ye elements, with unkindness;
I never gave ye franks, nor call’d upon you:’
as I have done by and upon Mr. Elliston.

“Why do you not write? You should at least send me a line of particulars: I know nothing yet but by Galignani and the Honourable Douglas.

“Well, and how does our Pope controversy go on? and the pamphlet? It is impossible to write any news: the Austrian scoundrels rummage all letters.

“P.S. I could have sent you a good deal of gossip and some real information, were it not that all letters pass through the Barbarians’ inspection, and I have no wish to inform them of any thing but my utter abhorrence of them and theirs. They have only conquered by treachery, however.”