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WRITERS VERSUS AGENTS
But he is gone, and Time “shall not look upon his like again.
(1813, November 24. “Journal, 1813-1814,”
Vol. II., p. 341.)
Rogers thinks the Quarterly will attack me next. Let them. I have been “peppered so highly” in my time, both ways, that it must be cayenne or aloes to make me taste. I can sincerely say, that I am not very much alive now to criticism. But—in tracing this—I rather believe that it proceeds from my not attaching that importance to authorship which many do, and which, when young, I did also. tired of every thing, my angel,” says Valmont. The "angels” are the only things of which I am not a little sick-but I do think the preference of writers to agents — the mighty stir made about scribbling and scribes, by themselves and others—a sign of effeminacy, degeneracy, and weakness. Who would write, who had any thing better to do? “Action-actionaction,”—said Demosthenes : “ Actions — actions,” I say, and not writing, least of all, rhyme. Look at the querulous and monotonous lives of the “
genus; except Cervantes, Tasso, Dante, Ariosto, Kleist (who were brave and active citizens), Æschylus, Sophocles, and some other of the antiques also-- what a worthless, idle brood it is!
(1813, November 24. “Journal, 1813-1814,”
Vol. II., p. 344.)
Campbell last night seemed a little nettled at something or other — I know not what. We were standing in the ante-saloon, when Lord H. brought
out of the other room a vessel of some composition similar to that which is used in Catholic churches, and, seeing us, he exclaimed, “Here is some incense for you.”. Campbell answered—“Carry it to Lord Byron, he is used to it.”
Now this comes of " bearing no brother near the throne.” I, who have no throne, nor wish to have one now, whatever I may have done, am at perfect peace with all the poetical fraternity; or, at least, if I dislike any, it is not poetically, but personally. Surely the field of thought is infinite; what does it signify who is before or behind in a race where there is no goal ? The temple of fame is like that of the Persians, the universe; our altar, the tops of mountains. I should be equally content with Mount Caucasus, or Mount Anything; and those who like it, may have Mount Blanc or Chimborazo, without my envy of their elevation.
(1813, December 6. “Journal, 1813-1814,”
Vol. II., p. 365.) Redde the Quarrels of Authors (another sort of sparring)—a new work, by that most entertaining and researching writer, Israeli
. They seem to be an irritable set, and I wish myself well out of it. “I'll not march through Coventry with them, that's flat.” What the devil had I to do with scribbling? It is too late to inquire, and all regret is useless. But, an it were to do again,-I should write again, I suppose. Such is human nature, at least my share of it ;—though I shall think better of myself, if I have sense to stop now. If I have a wife, and that wife has a son—by any body-I will bring up mine heir in the most anti
THE COPYRIGHT OF THE CORSAIR
poetical way—make him a lawyer, or a pirate, orany thing. But, if he writes too, I shall be sure he is none of mine, and cut him off with a Bank token.
(1814, March 17. “Journal, 1813 - 1814,"
Vol. II., p. 401.)
I will answer your letter this evening; in the mean time, it may be sufficient to say, that [in giving Dallas the copyright of The Corsair, with permission to dispose of the poem to any bookseller he pleased] there was no intention on my part to annoy you,
but merely to serve Dallas, and also to rescue myself from a possible imputation that I had other objects than fame in writing so frequently. Whenever I avail myself of any profit arising from my pen, depend upon it, it is not for my own convenience; at least it never has been so, and I hope never will.
(1814, January. Letter 381, to John Murray,
Vol. III., p. 2.) I have redde Roncesvaux with very great pleasure, and (if I were so disposed) see very little room for criticism. Only if you wish to have all the success you deserve, never listen to friends, and—as I am not the least troublesome of the number-least of all to me.
(1814, January. Letter 385, to J. H.
Merivale, Vol. III., p. 5.)
It doubtless gratifies me much that our Finale has pleased, and that the Curtain drops gracefully [on The Corsair]. You deserve it should, for your promptitude and good nature in arranging im
mediately with M' D[alla]s; and I can assure you that I esteen your entering so warmly into the subject, and writing me so soon upon it, as a personal obligation. We shall now part, I hope, satisfied with each other. I was and am quite in earnest in my prefatory promise not to intrude any more; and this not from any affectation, but a thorough conviction that it is the best policy, and is at least respectful to my readers, as it shows that I would not willingly run the risk of forfeiting their favour in future. Besides, I have other views and objects, and think that I shall keep this resolution : for, since I left London, though shut up, snow-bound, thaw-bound, and tempted with all kinds of paper, the dirtiest of ink, and the bluntest of pens, I have not even been haunted by a wish to put them to their combined uses, except in letters of business—my rhyming propensity is quite gone, and I feel much as I did at Patras on recovering from my fever--weak, but in health, and only afraid of a relapse. I do most fervently hope I never shall.
(1814, February 4. Letter 399, to John
Murray, Vol. III., p. 22.) The Courier of this evening accuses me of having “received and pocketed” large sums for my works. I have never yet received, nor wish to receive, a farthing for any. M' Murray offered a thousand for The Giaour and Bride of Abydos, which I said was too much, and that if he could afford it at the end of six months, I would then direct how it might be disposed of; but neither then, nor at any other period, have I ever availed myself of the profits on my own account.
LONDON TAKES THE CONCEIT OUT OF A MAN 133
For the republication of the Satire I refused four hundred guineas; and for the previous editions I never asked nor received a sous, nor for any writing whatever. I do not wish you to do any thing disagreeable to yourself; there never was nor shall be any conditions nor stipulations with regard to any accommodation that I could afford you; and on your part, I can see nothing derogatory in receiving the copyright. It was only assistance offered to a worthy man, by one not quite so worthy.
(1814, February 17. Letter 412, to R. C.
Dallas, Vol. III., p. 41.)
The best way to make the public “forget” me is to remind them of yourself. You cannot suppose that I would ask you, or advise you to publish, if I thought you would fail. I really have no literary envy; and I do not believe a friend's success ever sat nearer another than yours does to my best wishes. It is for elderly gentlemen to "bear no brother near, and cannot become our disease for more years than we may perhaps number.
(1814, March 12. Letter 425, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. III., p. 59.)
Hogg is a strange being, but of great, though uncouth, powers. I think very highly of him, as a poet; but he, and half of these Scotch and Lake troubadours, are spoilt by living in little circles and petty societies. London and the world is the only place to take the conceit out of a man—in the milling phrase. Scott, he says, is gone to the Orkneys in a gale of wind ;-during which wind, he affirms, the