LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 24 September 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, September 24th, 1821.

“I have been thinking over our late correspondence, and wish to propose to you the following articles for our future:

“1stly. That you shall write to me of yourself, of the health, wealth, and welfare of all friends; but of me (quoad me) little or nothing.

“2dly. That you shall send me soda-powders, tooth-powder, toothbrushes, or any such antiodontalgic or chemical articles, as heretofore, ‘ad libitum,’ upon being reimbursed for the same.

“3dly. That you shall not send me any modern, or (as they are called) new publications, in English, whatsoever, save and excepting any writing, prose or verse, of (or reasonably presumed to be of) Walter Scott, Crabbe, Moore, Campbell, Rogers, Gifford, Joanna Baillie, Irving (the American), Hogg, Wilson (Isle of Palms man), or any especial single work of fancy which is thought to be of considerable merit; Voyages and Travels, provided that they are neither in Greece, Spain, Asia Minor, Albania, nor Italy, will be welcome. Having travelled the countries mentioned, I know that what is said of them can convey nothing farther which I desire to know about them.—No other English works whatsoever.

“4thly. That you send me no periodical works whatsoever—no Edinburgh, Quarterly, Monthly, nor any review, magazine, or newspaper, English or foreign, of any description.

“5thly. That you send me no opinions whatsoever, either good, bad, or indifferent, of yourself, or your friends, or others, concerning any work, or works, of mine, past, present, or to come.

“6thly. That all negotiations in matters of business between you and me pass through the medium of the Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, my friend and trustee, or Mr. Hobhouse, as ‘Alter ego,’ and tantamount to myself during my absence—or presence.

“Some of these propositions may at first seem strange, but they are founded. The quantity of trash I have received as books is incalculable,
534 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
and neither amused nor instructed. Reviews and magazines are at the best but ephemeral and superficial reading:—who thinks of the grand article of last year in any given Review? In the next place, if they regard myself, they tend to increase egotism. If favourable, I do not deny that the praise elates, and if unfavourable, that the abuse irritates. The latter may conduct me to inflict a species of satire, which would neither do good to you nor to your friends: they may smile now, and so may you; but if I took you all in hand, it would not be difficult to cut you up like gourds. I did as much by as powerful people at nineteen years old, and I know little as yet in three-and-thirty, which should prevent me from making all your ribs gridirons for your hearts, if such were my propensity: but it is not; therefore let me hear none of your provocations. If any thing occurs so very gross as to require my notice, I shall hear of it from my legal friends. For the rest, I merely request to be left in ignorance.

“The same applies to opinions, good, bad, or indifferent, of persons in conversation or correspondence. These do not interrupt, but they soil the current of my mind. I am sensitive enough, but not till I am troubled; and here I am beyond the touch of the short arms of literary England, except the few feelers of the polypus that crawl over the channels in the way of extract.

“All these precautions in England would be useless; the libeller or the flatterer would there reach me in spite of all; but in Italy we know little of literary England, and think less, except what reaches us through some garbled and brief extract in some miserable gazette. For two years (excepting two or three articles cut out and sent to you by the post) I never read a newspaper which was not forced upon me by some accident, and know, upon the whole, as little of England as you do of Italy, and God knows that is little enough, with all your travels, &c. &c. &c. The English travellers know Italy as you know Guernsey: how much is that?

“If any thing occurs so violently gross or personal as requires notice, Mr. Douglas Kinnaird will let me know; but of praise, I desire to hear nothing.

“You will say, ‘to what tends all this?’ I will answer that;—to keep my mind free and unbiassed by all paltry and personal irritabilities of praise or censure—to let my genius take its natural direction, while
A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 535
my feelings are like the dead, who know nothing and feel nothing of all or aught that is said or done in their regard.

“If you can observe these conditions, you will spare yourself and others some pain: let me not be worked upon to rise up; for if I do, it will not be for a little. If you cannot observe these conditions, we shall cease to be correspondents,—but not friends, for I shall always be yours ever and truly,


“P.S. I have taken these resolutions not from any irritation against you or yours, but simply upon reflection that all reading, either praise or censure, of myself has done me harm. When I was in Switzerland and Greece, I was out of the way of hearing either, and how I wrote there!—In Italy I am out of the way of it too; but latterly, partly through my fault, and partly through your kindness in wishing to send me the newest and most periodical publications, I have had a crowd of Reviews, &c. thrust upon me, which have bored me with their jargon, of one kind or another, and taken off my attention from greater objects. You have also sent me a parcel of trash of poetry, for no reason that I can conceive, unless to provoke me to write a new ‘English Bards.’ Now this I wish to avoid; for if ever I do, it will be a strong production; and I desire peace as long as the fools will keep their nonsense out of my way*.”