LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 29 March 1820

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Ravenna, March 29th, 1820.

“Herewith you will receive a note (enclosed) on Pope, which you will find tally with a part of the text of last post. I have at last lost all patience with the atrocious cant and nonsense about Pope, with which our present * *s are overflowing, and am determined to make such head against it as an individual can, by prose or verse; and I will at least do it with good-will. There is no bearing it any longer; and if it goes on, it will destroy what little good writing or taste remains amongst us.

* When making the observations which occur in the early part of this work, on the singular preference given by the noble author to the ‘Hints from Horace,’ I was not aware of the revival of this strange predilection, which (as it appears from the above letter, and, still more strongly, from some that follow) took place so many years after, in the full maturity of his powers and taste. Such a delusion is hardly conceivable, and can only, perhaps, be accounted for by that tenaciousness of early opinions and impressions by which his mind, In other respects to versatile, was characterized.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 313
I hope there are still a few men of taste to second me; but if not, I’ll battle it alone, convinced that it is in the best cause of English literature.

“I have sent you so many packets, verse and prose, lately, that you will be tired of the postage, if not of the perusal. I want to answer some parts of your last letter, but I have not time, for I must ‘boot and saddle,’ as my Captain Craigengelt (an officer of the old Napoleon Italian army) is in waiting, and my groom and cattle to boot.

“You have given me a screed of metaphor and what not about Pulci, and manners, and ‘going without clothes, like our Saxon ancestors.’ Now, the Saxons did not go without clothes; and, in the next place, they are not my ancestors, nor yours either; for mine were Norman, and yours, I take it by your name, were Gael. And, in the next, I differ from you about the ‘refinement’ which has banished the comedies of Congreve. Are not the comedies of Sheridan acted to the thinnest houses? I know (as ex-committed) that ‘The School for Scandal’ was the worst stock piece upon record. I also know that Congreve gave up writing because Mrs. Centlivre’s balderdash drove his comedies off. So it is not decency, but stupidity, that does all this; for Sheridan is as decent a writer as need be, and Congreve no worse than Mrs. Centlivre, of whom Wilkes (the actor) said, ‘not only her play would be damned, but she too.’ He alluded to ‘A Bold Stroke for a Wife.’ But last, and most to the purpose, Pulci is not an indecent writer—at least in his first Canto, as you will have perceived by this time.

“You talk of refinement:—are you all more moral? are you so moral? No such thing. I know what the world is in England, by my own proper experience of the best of it—at least of the loftiest; and I have described it every where as it is to be found in all places.

“But to return. I should like to see the proofs of mine answer, because there will be something to omit or to alter. But pray let it be carefully printed. When convenient let me have an answer.