October 28 1818: Byron Ask Moore to Help Coleridge

t and byron

On October 28 1815, Lord Byron writes to Thomas Moore, and asks him to help Coleridge with a favourable review in the Edinburgh Review.

You are, it seems, in England again, as I am to hear from every body but yourself; and I suppose you punctilious, because I did not answer your last Irish letter. When did you leave the ‘swate country?’ Never mind, I forgive you;—a strong proof of—I know not what—to give the lie to— “He never pardons who hath done the wrong.” You have written to * *. You have also written to Perry, who intimates hope of an Opera from you. Coleridge has promised a Tragedy. Now, if you keep Perry’s word, and Coleridge keeps his own, Drury Lane will be set up; and, sooth to say, it is in grievous want of such a lift. We began at speed, and are blown already. When I say ‘we,’ I mean Kinnaird, who is the ‘all in all sufficient,’174 and can count, which none of the rest of the Committee can. It is really very good fun, as far as the daily and nightly stir of these strutters and fretters go; and, if the concern could be brought to pay a shilling in the pound, would do much credit to the management. Mr. [Sotheby] has an accepted tragedy [Ivan], whose first scene is in his sleep (I don’t mean the author’s). It was forwarded to us as a prodigious favourite of Kean’s; but the said Kean, upon interrogation, denies his eulogy, and protests against his part. How it will end, I know not. I say so much about the theatre, because there is nothing else alive in London at this season. All the world are out of it, except us, who remain to lie in,—in December, or perhaps earlier. Lady B. is very ponderous and prosperous, apparently, and I wish it well over. There is a play before me from a personage who signs himself ‘Hibernicus.’ The hero is Malachi, the Irishman and king; and the villain and usurper, Turgesius, the Dane. The conclusion is fine. Turgesius is chained by the leg (vide stage direction) to a pillar on the stage; and King Malachi makes him a speech, not unlike Lord Castlereagh’s about the balance of power and the lawfulness of legitimacy, which puts Turgesius into a frenzy—as Castlereagh’s would, if his audience was chained by the leg. He draws a dagger and rushes at the orator; but, finding himself at the end of his tether, he sticks it into his own carcass, and dies, saying, he has fulfilled a prophecy. Now, this is serious downright matter of fact, and the gravest part of a tragedy which is not intended for burlesque. I tell it you for the honour of Ireland. The writer hopes it will be represented:— but what is Hope? nothing but the paint on the face of Existence; the least touch of Truth rubs it off, and then we see what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of. I am not sure that I have not said this last superfine reflection before. But never mind;—it will do for the tragedy of Turgesius, to which I can append it. Well, but how dost thou do? thou bard not of a thousand but three thousand! I wish your friend, Sir John Piano-forte, had kept that to himself, and not made it public at the trial of the song-seller in Dublin. I tell you why: it is a liberal thing for Longman to do, and honourable for you to obtain; but it will set all the ‘hungry and dinnerless, lank-jawed judges’ upon the fortunate author. But they be d—— d!—the ‘Jeffrey and the Moore together are confident against the world in ink!’176 By the way, if poor C * * e [Coleridge]—who is a man of wonderful talent, and in distress, and about to publish two vols. of Poesy and Biography, and who has been worse used by the critics than ever we were—will you, if he comes out, promise me to review him favourably in the E[dinburgh].R[eview].? Praise him I think you must, but you will also praise him well,—of all things the most difficult. It will be the making of him. This must be a secret between you and me, as Jeffrey might not like such a project;—nor, indeed, might C. himself like it. But I do think he only wants a pioneer and a sparkle or two to explode most gloriously. Ever yours most affectionately, B.

P.S. This is a sad scribbler’s letter; but the next shall be ‘more of this world.’

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