January 29 1816: Byron’s Forefathers


On January 29 1816, Lord Byron writes to Leigh Hunt, from 13 Piccadilly Terrace London.

Dear Hunt – I return your extract with thanks for the perusal – & hope you are by this time on the verge of publication. My pencil marks on the margin of your former M.S.S. I never thought worth the trouble of decyphering – but I had no such meaning as you imagine for their being witheld from Murray – from whom I differ entirely as to the terms of your agreement – nor do I think you asked a piastre too much for the poem. – – However I doubt not he will deal fairly by you on the whole: – he is really a very good fellow – & his faults are merely the leaven of his “trade” – “the trade” – the Slave trade of many an unlucky writer. – – –

The said Murray & I are just at present in no good humour with each other – but he is not the worse for that: – I feel sure that he will give your 1:3 work a fair or a fairer chance in every way than your late publishers – & what he can’t do for it – it will do for itself. – – – Continual laziness – & occasional indisposition have been the causes of my negligence – (for I deny neglect) in not writing to you immediately – these are excuses – I wish they may be more satisfactory to you than they are to me. – I opened my eyes yesterday morning on your compliment of Sunday – if you knew what a hopeless & lethargic den of dullness & drawling 1:4 our hospital is – during a debate – & what a mass of corruption in its’ patients – you would wonder – not that – I very seldom speak – but that I ever attempted it – feeling – as I trust I do – independently. – However – when a proper spirit is manifested “without doors” I will endeavour not to 111 be {idle} within – do you think such a time is coming? methinks there are gleams of it – my forefathers were of the other side of the question in Charles’s days – & the fruit of it was a title & the loss of an enormous property. – – – 2:1 If the old struggle comes on – I may lose the one & shall never regain the other – but – no matter – there are things even in this world – better than either – – very truly ever yrs . B

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