I called on Mr. Murray this morning, who told me that the whole edition was gone off. He begged me to arrange with Lord Byron for putting the Poem to press again, which is to be done in the handsomest manner, in octavo. He shewed me letters from several of the most celebrated critics; and told me that Mr. Gifford spoke with the highest admiration of the second Canto, which he had not seen before; the first he had seen in manuscript.
From him I went to St. James’s-street, where I found Lord Byron loaded with letters from critics, poets, authors, and various pretenders to fame of different walks, all lavish of their raptures. In putting them into my hands he said—‘I ought not to show such fine compliments, but I keep nothing from you.’ Among his raptured admirers I was not a little surprised to find an elegant copy of verses to him from Mr. Fitzgerald, the very first person celebrated in his Satire, of which he reminds him in a short prefatory note, adding, in a pleasing and amiable manner, that it was impossible to harbour any resentment against the poet of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. It is impossible to tell you half the applause, either as to quantity or quality, bestowed upon him directly and indirectly. The letter from Lord Holland places him on a par with Walter Scott. But to come to myself:—After speaking 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 a 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.’ ‘I ought not to differ in an opinion which puts hundreds into my purse, but others—’ He put out his hand to me, shook mine, said he was very glad, and turned the conversation. The sentiment is noble, but pushed too far.
It is not only in this, but in other points, I have remarked a superior spirit in this young man; and which but for its native vigour would have been cast away. I am happy to say that I think his successes, and the notice that has been taken of him, have already had upon his mind the cheering effect I hoped and foresaw; and I trust all the gloom of his youth will be dissipated for the rest of his life. He was very cheerful to-day. What a pleasing reflection is it to me that when, on his arrival in England, he put this Poem into my hand, I saw its merits, and urged him to publish it. There are two copies binding elegantly and alike; this I mentioned to him, and said, one was for him, ‘and the other,’ said he ‘for Mrs. Dallas: let me have the pleasure of writing her name in it.’”
When I afterwards brought him the copies, he did write the name; and I had the happiness of finding him ready to send one also to his sister. I handed him another copy to write her name in it; and I was truly delighted to read the following effusion, which I copied before I sent the volume off.
“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.”
“March 14th, 1812.”
1. Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron by the Late R.C. Dallas, Esq. (London: Printeed for Charles Knight, Pall-Mall-East, MDCCCXXIV, pages 230-233 which can be found in the very useful and elegant site Lord Byron and His Times.