1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Mary Shelley to John Murray, 19 January 1830; Smiles, A Publisher and his Friends: Memoir of John Murray (1891) 2:318-19.



January 19th, 1830.

Except the occupation of one or two annoyances, I have done nothing but read, since I got "Lord Byron's Life." I have no pretensions to being a critic, yet I know infinitely well what pleases me. Not to mention the judicious arrangement and happy tact displayed by Mr. Moore, which distinguish the book, I must say a word concerning the style, which is elegant and forcible. I was particularly struck by the observation on Lord Byron's character before his departure to Greece, and on his return. There is strength and richness, as well as sweetness.

The great charm of the work to me, and it will have the same to you, is that the Lord Byron I find there is our Lord Byron — the fascinating, faulty, philosophical being — daring the world, docile to a private circle, impetuous and indolent, gloomy, and yet more gay than any other. I live with him again in these pages — getting reconciled (as I used in his lifetime) to those waywardnesses which annoyed me when he was away, through the delightful tone of his conversation and manners.

His own letters and journals mirror himself as he was, and are invaluable. There is something cruelly kind in this single volume. When will the next come? Impatient before, how tenfold more so am I now. Among its many other virtues, this book is accurate to a miracle. I have not stumbled on one mistake with regard either to time, place, or feeling.

I am, dear Sir,

Your obedient and obliged Servant,

MARY SHELLEY.