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"My dear Hodgson,


"We are not answerable for reports of speeches in the papers; they are always given incorrectly, and on this occasion more so than usual, from the debate in the Commons on the same night. The Morning Post should have said eighteen years. However, you will find the speech, as spoken, in the Parliamentary Register, when it comes Lords Holland and Grenville, particularly the latter, paid me some high compliments in the course of their speeches, as you may have seen in the papers, and Lords Eldon and Harrowby answered me. I have had many marvellous eulogies repeated to me since, in person and by proxy, from divers persons ministerial — yea, ministerial! - as well as oppositionists; of them I shall only mention Sir F. Burdett. He says it is the best speech by a lord since the Lord knows when,' probably from a fellow-feeling in the sentiments. Lord H. tells me I shall beat them all if I persevere; and Lord G. remarked that the construction of some of my periods are very like Burke's!! And so much for vanity. I spoke very violent sentences with a sort of modest impudence, abused every thing and every body, and put the Lord Chancellor very much out of humour; and if I may believe what I hear, have not lost any character by the experiment. As to my delivery, loud and fluent enough, perhaps a little theatrical. I could not recognise myself or any one else in the newspapers.


My poesy comes out on Saturday. Hobhouse is here; I shall tell him to write. My stone is gone for the present, but I fear

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is part of my habit. We all talk of a visit to Cambridge. "Yours ever,


Of the same date as the above is the following letter to Lord Holland, accompanying a copy of his new publication, and written in a tone that cannot fail to give a high idea of his good feeling and candour.




"St. James's Street, March 5. 1812.


'My Lord,

May I request your Lordship to accept a copy of the thing which accompanies this note? You have already so fully proved the truth of the first line of Pope's couplet ',

"Forgiveness to the injured doth belong,'

that I long for an opportunity to give the lie to the verse that follows. If I were not perfectly convinced that any thing I may have formerly uttered in the boyish rashness of my misplaced resentment had made as little impression as it deserved to make, I should hardly have the confidence - perhaps your Lordship may give it a stronger and more appropriate appellation - to send you a quarto of the same scribbler. But your Lordship, I am sorry to observe to-day, is troubled with the gout; if my book can produce a laugh against itself or the author, it will be of some service. If it can set you to sleep, the benefit will be yet greater ; and as some facetious personage observed half a century ago, that poetry is a mere drug,' I offer you mine as a humble assistant to the eau médicinale.' I trust you will forgive this and all my other buffooneries, and believe me to be, with great respect, 'Your Lordship's obliged and "Sincere servant,




It was within two days after his speech in the House of Lords that Childe Harold appeared 2 ; — and the impression which it produced upon the public was as instantaneous as it has proved deep and lasting. The permanence of such success genius alone could secure; but to its instant and enthusiastic burst, other causes, besides the merit of the work, concurred.

There are those who trace in the peculiar character of Lord Byron's genius strong

first presentation copies was sent, with the following inscription in it :

"To Augusta, my dearest sister, and my best friend, who has ever loved me much better than I deserved, this volume is presented by her father's son, and most affectionate brother, "B."

features of relationship to the times in which he lived; who think that the great events which marked the close of the last century, by giving a new impulse to men's minds, by habituating them to the daring and the free, and allowing full vent to "the flash and outbreak of fiery spirits," had led naturally to the production of such a poet as Byron ; and that he was, in short, as much the child and representative of the Revolution, in poesy, as another great man of the age, Napoleon, was in statesmanship and warfare. Without going the full length of this notion, it will, at least, be conceded, that the free loose which had been given to all the passions and energies of the human mind, in the great struggle of that period, together with the constant spectacle of such astounding vicissitudes as were passing, almost daily, on the theatre of the world, had created, in all minds, and in every walk of intellect, a taste for strong excitement, which the stimulants supplied from ordinary sources were insufficient to gratify;—that a tame deference to established authorities had fallen into disrepute, no less in literature than in politics; and that the poet who should breathe into his songs the fierce and passionate spirit of the age, and assert, untrammelled and unawed, the high dominion of genius, would be the most sure of an audience toned in sympathy with his strains.

It is true that, to the licence on religious subjects, which revelled through the first acts of that tremendous drama, a disposition of an opposite tendency had, for some time, succeeded. Against the wit of the scoffer, not only piety, but a better taste, revolted; and had Lord Byron, in touching on such themes in Childe Harold, adopted a tone of levity or derision, (such as, unluckily, he sometimes afterwards descended to,) not all the originality and beauty of his work would have secured for it a prompt or uncontested triumph. As it was, however, the few dashes of scepticism with which he darkened his strain, far from checking his popularity, were among those attractions which, as I have said, independent of all the charms of the poetry, accelerated and heightened its success. The religious feeling that has sprung up through Europe since the French revolution-like the political principles that have emerged out of the same event in rejecting all the licentiousness of that period, have preserved much of its spirit of freedom and inquiry; and, among the best fruits of this enlarged and enlightened piety, is the liberty which it disposes men to accord to the opinions, and even heresies, of others. To persons thus sincerely, and,

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at the same time, tolerantly, devout, the spectacle of a great mind, like that of Byron, labouring in the eclipse of scepticism, could not be otherwise than an object of deep and solemn interest. If they had already known what it was to doubt, themselves, they would enter into his fate with mournful sympathy; while, if safe in the tranquil haven of faith, they would look with pity on one who was still a wanderer. Besides, erring and dark as might be his views at that moment, there were circumstances in his character and fate that gave a hope of better thoughts yet dawning upon him. From his temperament and youth, there could be little fear that he was yet hardened in his heresies; and as, for a heart wounded like his, there was, they knew, but one true source of consolation, so it was hoped that the love of truth, so apparent in all he wrote, would, one day, enable him to find it.

Another, and not the least of those causes which concurred with the intrinsic claims of his genius to give an impulse to the tide of success that now flowed upon him, was, unquestionably, the peculiarity of his personal history and character. There had been, in his very first introduction of himself to the public, a sufficient portion of singularity to excite strong attention and interest. While all other youths of talent, in his high station, are heralded into life by the applauses and anticipations of a host of friends, young Byron stood forth alone, unannounced by either praise or promise, the representative of an ancient house, whose name, long lost in the gloomy solitudes of Newstead, seemed to have just awakened from the sleep of half a century in his person. The circumstances that, in succession, followed, the prompt vigour of his reprisals upon the assailants of his fame, his disappearance, after this achievement, from the scene of his triumph, without deigning even to wait for the laurels which he had earned, and his departure on a far pilgrimage, whose limits he left to chance and fancy, all these successive incidents had thrown an air of adventure round the character of the young poet, which prepared his readers to meet half-way the impressions of his genius. Instead of finding him, on a nearer view, fall short of their imaginations, the new features of his disposition now disclosed to them far outwent, in peculiarity and interest, whatever they might have preconceived; while the curiosity and sympathy, awakened by what he suffered to transpire of his history, were still more heightened by the mystery of his allusions to much that yet remained untold. The late losses by death which he had sustained,


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and which, it was manifest, he most deeply mourned, gave a reality to the notion formed of him by his admirers which seemed to authorise them in imagining still more; and what has been said of the poet Young, that he found out the art of "making the public a party to his private sorrows," may be, with infinitely more force and truth, applied to Lord Byron.

On that circle of society with whom he came immediately in contact, these personal influences acted with increased force, from being assisted by others, which, to female imaginations especially, would have presented a sufficiency of attraction, even without the great qualities joined with them. His youth, - the noble beauty of his countenance, and its constant play of lights and shadows, the gentleness of his voice and manner to women and his occasional haughtiness to men,the alleged singularities of his mode of life, which kept curiosity alive and inquisitive,all these lesser traits and habitudes concurred towards the quick spread of his fame; nor can it be denied that, among many purer sources of interest in his poem, the allusions which he makes to instances of "successful passion" in his career were not without their influence on the fancies of that sex, whose weakness it is to be most easily won by those who come recommended by the greatest number of triumphs over others.

That his rank was also to be numbered among these extrinsic advantages appears to have been-partly, perhaps, from a feeling of modesty at the time-his own persuasion. "I may place a great deal of it," said he to Mr. Dallas, "to my being a lord." It might be supposed that it is only on a rank inferior to his own such a charm could operate; but this very speech is, in itself, a proof, that in no class whatever is the advantage of being noble more felt and appreciated than among nobles themselves. It was, also, natural that, in that circle, the admiration of the new poet should be, at least, quickened by the consideration that he had sprung up among themselves, and that their order had, at length, produced a man of genius, by whom the arrears of contribution, long due

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"Little knew she, that seeming marble heart, Now mask'd in silence, or withheld by pride, Was not unskilful in the spoiler's art, And spread its snares licentious far and wide." Childe Harold, Canto II. We have here another instance of his propensity to self-misrepresentation. However great might have been the irregularities of his college life, such phrases as the art of the spoiler" and " spreading snares" were in nowise applicable to them. ["I am not a Joseph," wrote Lord Byron, in 1821, "nor a Scipio; but I can


from them to the treasury of English literature, would be at once fully and splendidly discharged.


Altogether, taking into consideration the various points I have here enumerated, it may be asserted, that never did there exist before, and it is most probable never will exist again, a combination of such vast mental power and surpassing genius, with so many other of those advantages and attractions, by which the world is, in general, dazzled and captivated. The effect was, accordingly electric; — his fame had not to wait for any of the ordinary gradations, but seemed to spring up, like the palace of a fairy tale, in a night. As he himself briefly described it in his memoranda,—“I awoke one morning and found myself famous." The first edition of his work was disposed of instantly; and, as the echoes of its reputation multiplied on all sides, Childe Harold " and "Lord Byron" became the theme of every tongue. At his door, most of the leading names of the day presented themselves, some of them persons whom he had much wronged in his Satire, but who now forgot their resentment in generous admiration. From morning till night the most flattering testimonies of his success crowded his table, from the grave tributes of the statesman and the philosopher down to (what flattered him still more) the romantic billet of some incognita, or the pressing note of invitation from some fair leader of fashion; and, in place of the desert which London had been to him but a few weeks before, he now not only saw the whole splendid interior of High Life thrown open to receive him, but found himself, among its illustrious crowds, the most distinguished object.

The copyright of the poem, which was purchased by Mr. Murray for 600/., he presented, in the most delicate and unostentatious manner, to Mr. Dallas 2, saying, at the same time, that he “ never would receive money for his writings ;"-a resolution, the mixed result of generosity and pride, which he afterwards wisely abandoned, though borne out by the example of Swift 3 and Voltaire, the latter of whom gave away most

safely affirm, that I never in my life seduced any woman."]

"After speaking to him of the sale, and settling the new edition, I said, How can I possibly think of this rapid sale, and the profits likely to ensue, without recollecting What?'-' Think what sum your work may produce.' I shall be rejoiced, and wish it doubled and trebled; but do not talk to me of money. I never will receive money for my writings."" - Dallas's Recollections.

3 In a letter to Pulteney, 12th May, 1735, Swift says, "I never got a farthing for any thing I writ, except once,

of his copyrights to Prault and other booksellers, and received books, not money, for those he disposed of otherwise. To his young friend, Mr. Harness, it had been his intention, at first, to dedicate the work, but, on further consideration, he relinquished his design; and in a letter to that gentleman (which, with some others, is unfortunately lost) alleged, as his reason for this change, the prejudice which, he foresaw, some parts of the poem would raise against himself, and his fear lest, by any possibility, a share of the odium might so far extend itself to his friend, as to injure him in the profession to which he was about to devote himself.




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Not long after the publication of Childe Harold, the noble author paid me a visit, one morning, and putting a letter into my hands, which he had just received, requested that I would undertake to manage for him whatever proceedings it might render necessary. This letter, I found, had been delivered to him by Mr. Leckie (a gentleman well known by a work on Sicilian affairs), and came from a once active and popular member of the fashionable world, Colonel Greville, its purport being to require of his Lordship, as author of "English Bards," &c., such reparation as it was in his power to make for the injury which, as Colonel Greville conceived, certain passages in that

and that by Mr. Pope's prudent management for me." ["This probably alludes to Gulliver's Travels, for which Pope certainly obtained from the bookseller 300. There may, however, be some question, whether this sum was not left at Pope's disposal, as well as that which he got for the Miscellanies, and which Swift abandoned to him." -SIR WALTER SCOTT, Prose Works, vol. ii. p. 432.]

satire, reflecting upon his conduct as manager of the Argyle Institution, were calculated to inflict upon his character. In the appeal of the gallant Colonel, there were some expressions of rather an angry cast, which Lord Byron, though fully conscious of the length to which he himself had gone, was but little inclined to brook, and, on my returning the letter into his hands, he said,

To such a letter as that there can be but one sort of answer." He agreed, however, to trust the matter entirely to my discretion, and I had, shortly after, an interview with the friend of Colonel Greville. By this gentleman, who was then an utter stranger to me, I was received with much courtesy, and with every disposition to bring the affair intrusted to us to an amicable issue. On my premising that the tone of his friend's letter stood in the way of negotiation, and that some obnoxious expressions which it contained must be removed before I could proceed a single step towards explanation, he most readily consented to remove this obstacle. At his request I drew a pen across the parts I considered objectionable, and he undertook to send me the letter re-written next morning. In the mean time I received from Lord Byron the following paper for my guidance:


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ET. 24.



the reparation, for the real or supposed injury, to Colonel G.'s friend, and Mr. Moore, the friend of Lord B.-begging them to recollect that, while they consider Colonel G.'s honour, Lord B. must also maintain his own. If the business can be settled amicably, Lord B. will do as much as can and ought to be done by a man of honour towards conciliation; if not, he must satisfy Colonel G. in the manner most conducive to his further wishes."

In the morning I received the letter, in its new form, from Mr. Leckie, with the annexed note:

"My dear Sir,

"I found my friend very ill in bed; he has, however, managed to copy the enclosed, with the alterations proposed. Perhaps you may wish to see me in the morning; I shall therefore be glad to see you any time till twelve o'clock. If you rather wish me to call on you, tell me, and I shall obey your summons. Yours, very truly,


With such facilities towards pacification, it is almost needless to add that there was but little delay in settling the matter amicably.

While upon this subject, I shall avail myself of the opportunity which it affords of extracting an amusing account given by Lord Byron himself of some affairs of this description, in which he was, at different times, employed as mediator.

"I have been called in as mediator, or second, at least twenty times, in violent quarrels, and have always contrived to settle the business without compromising the honour of the parties, or leading them to mortal consequences, and this, too, sometimes in very difficult and delicate circumstances, and having to deal with very hot and haughty spirits, — Irishmen, gamesters, guardsmen, captains, and cornets of horse, and the like. This was, of course, in my youth, when I lived in hot-headed company. I have had to carry challenges from gentlemen to noblemen, from captains to captains, from lawyers to counsellors, and once from a clergyman to an officer in the Life Guards; but I found the latter by far the most difficult, –

"to compose
The bloody duel without blows,'-

the business being about a woman: I must add, too, that I never saw a woman behave so ill, like a cold-blooded, heartless bas she was, but very handsome for all that.


A certain Susan C✶✶ was she called. I never saw her but once; and that was to induce her but to say two words (which in no degree compromised herself), and which would have had the effect of saving a priest or a lieutenant of cavalry. She would not say them, and neither Nepean1 nor myself (the son of Sir Evan Nepean, and a friend to one of the parties) could prevail upon her to say them, though both of us used to deal in some sort with womankind. At last

I managed to quiet the combatants without her talisman, and, I believe, to her great disappointment: she was the damnedest bthat I ever saw, and I have seen a great many. Though my clergyman was sure to lose either his life or his living, he was as warlike as the Bishop of Beauvais, and would hardly be pacified; but then he was in love, and that is a martial passion."

However disagreeable it was to find the consequences of his Satire thus rising up against him in a hostile shape, he was far retribution took a friendly form. Being now more embarrassed in those cases where the daily in the habit of meeting and receiving kindnesses from persons who, either in been wounded by his pen, he felt every fresh themselves, or through their relatives, had be, (as he sometimes, in the strong language instance of courtesy from such quarters to of Scripture, expressed it,) like "heaping He was, coals of fire upon his head." indeed, in a remarkable degree, sensitive to with; and had he passed a life subject to the the kindness or displeasure of those he lived immediate influence of society, it may be doubted whether he ever would have ventured upon those unbridled bursts of energy in which he at once demonstrated and abused his power. At the period when he ran riot in his Satire, society had not yet caught him within its pale; and in the time broken loose from it. Hence, his instinct of his Cains and Don Juans, he had again towards a life of solitude and independence, as the true element of his strength. In his own domain of imagination he could defy the whole world; while, in real life, a frown or smile could rule him. The facility with which he sacrificed his first volume, at the mere suggestion of his friend, Mr. Becher, is a strong proof of this pliableness; and in the instance of Childe Harold, such influence had the opinions of Mr. Gifford and Mr. Dallas on his mind, that he not only shrunk from his original design of identifying himself with his hero, but surrendered to them one of his most favourite stanzas, whose hete

1 [Now Sir Molineux Nepean, Bart.]


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