Childe Harold, though avowedly a fragment, contains many passages which would do honour to any poet, of any period, in any country. At the same time we are compelled to remark, that there are others which we must strongly reprobate; and not the less so because it is the thought rather than the expression with which we quarrel. The tone of the whole work is that of melancholy; but we accuse not the noble Lord of servile imitation. It is not often the description of sorrow, demanding sympathy, affected by so many ancient and modern poets. It is too frequently, though not invariably, selfish, misanthropic, unamiable. Lord Byron has contrived also, in other respects, to render some of the best feelings of the human heart hostile to him.Byron's letter to Murray is reproduced below.
Byron to Murray, from Cheltenham, October 12th 1812:
Cheltenham Octr12th. 1812
Dear Sir, I have a very strong objection to the engraving of the portrait & request that it may on no account be prefixed, but let [all] the proofs be burnt, & the plate broken. – I will be at the expence which has been incurred, it is but fair that I should, since I cannot permit the publication. – I beg as a particular favour that you will lose no time in having this done for which I have reasons that I will state when I see you. Forgive all the trouble I have occasioned you. —
I have received no account of the reception of the address, but see it is vituperated in the papers, which does not much embarrass an old author. – I leave it to your own judgment to add it or not to your next edition when required. – Pray comply strictly with my wishes as to the engraving & believe me
yrs very truly
P.S. Favour me with an answer, as I shall not be easy till I hear that the proofs & c. are destroyed. – – I hear that the Satirist has reviewed C. H. in what manner I need not ask, but I wish to know if the old personalities are revived. – I have a better reason for asking this than any that merely concerns myself, but in publications of that kind others particularly female names are sometimes introduced. –