LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Journal Entry: 12 January 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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“January 12th, 1821.

“The weather still so humid and impracticable, that London, in its most oppressive fogs, were a summer-bower to this mist and sirocco, which has now lasted (but with one day’s interval), chequered with snow or heavy rain only, since the 30th of December, 1820. It is so far lucky that I have a literary turn;—but it is very tiresome not to be able to stir out, in comfort, on any horse but Pegasus, for so many days. The roads are even worse than the weather, by the long splashing, and the heavy soil, and the growth of the waters.

“Read the Poets—English, that is to say—out of Campbell’s edition. There is a good deal of taffeta in some of Tom’s prefatory phrases, but his work is good as a whole. I like him best, though, in his own poetry.

Murray writes that they want to act the Tragedy of Marino Faliero;—more fools they, it was written for the closet. I have protested against this piece of usurpation (which, it seems, is legal for managers over any printed work, against the author’s will), and I hope they will not attempt it. Why don’t they bring out some of the
A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 407
numberless aspirants for theatrical celebrity, now encumbering their shelves, instead of lugging me out of the library? I have written a fierce protest against any such attempt, but I still would hope that it will not be necessary, and that they will see, at once, that it is not intended for the stage. It is too regular—the time, twenty-four hours—the change of place not frequent—nothing melodramatic—no surprises, no starts, nor trap-doors, nor opportunities ‘for tossing their heads and kicking their heels’—and no love—the grand ingredient of a modern play.

“I have found out the seal cut on Murray’s letter. It is meant for Walter Scott—or Sir Walter—he is the first poet knighted since Sir Richard Blackmore. But it does not do him justice. Scott’s—particularly when he recites—is a very intelligent, countenance, and this seal says nothing.

Scott is certainly the most wonderful writer of the day. His novels are a new literature in themselves, and his poetry as good as any—if not better (only on an erroneous system)—and only ceased to be so popular, because the vulgar learned were tired of hearing ‘Aristides called the Just,’ and Scott the Best, and ostracised him.

“I like him, too for his manliness of character, for the extreme pleasantness of his conversation, and his good-nature towards myself, personally. May he prosper!—for he deserves it. I know no reading to which I fall with such alacrity as a work of W. Scott’s. I shall give the seal, with his bust on it, to Madame la Contesse G. this evening, who will be curious to have the effigies of a man so celebrated.

“How strange are our thoughts, &c. &c. &c.*


“Read the Italian translation by Guido Sorelli of the German Grillparzer—a devil of a name, to be sure, for posterity; but they must learn to pronounce it. With all the allowance for a translation, and, above all, an Italian translation (they are the very worst of translators, except from the Classics—Annibale Caro, for instance—and there, the

* Here follows a long passage, already extracted, relative to his early friend, Edward Noel Long.

408 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
bastardy of their language helps them, as, by way of looking legitimate, they ape their fathers’ tongue)—but with every allowance for such a disadvantage, the tragedy of Sappho is superb and sublime! There is no denying it. The man has done a great thing in writing that play. And who is he? I know him not; but ages will. ’Tis a high intellect.

“I must premise, however, that I have read nothing of Adolph Müllner’s (the author of ‘Guilt’), and much less of Goëthe, and Schiller, and Wieland than I could wish. I only know them through the medium of English, French, and Italian translations. Of the real language I know absolutely nothing,—except oaths learnt from postilions and officers in a squabble. I can swear in German potently, when I like—‘Sacrament—Verfluchter—Hundsfott’—and so forth; but I have little of their less energetic conversation.

“I like, however, their women (I was once so desperately in love with a German woman, Constance), and all that I have read, translated, of their writings, and all that I have seen on the Rhine of their country and people—all, except the Austrians, whom I abhor, loathe, and—I cannot find words for my hate of them, and should be sorry to find deeds correspondent to my hate; for I abhor cruelty more than I abhor the Austrians—except on an impulse, and then I am savage—but not deliberately so.

Grillparzer is grand—antique—not so simple as the ancients, but very simple for a modern—too Madame de Staël-ish, now and then—but altogether a great and goodly writer.