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July 6 1812: Byron to Scott



On July 6 1812, Lord Byron replies to the letter of Walter Scott of July 3. Byron explains the satiric poetry directed at Scott as the work of  his youth. He writes: "The Satire was written when I was very young and very angry, and fully bent on displaying my wrath and my wit, and now I am haunted by the ghosts of my wholesale assertions". Byron goes on some length about his conversation with the Prince Regent, where Scott was discussed and praised. 
TO SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART.

St. James’s-street, July 6th, 1812.


SIR,
I have just been honoured with your letter.—I feel sorry that you should have thought it worth while to notice the ‘evil works of my nonage,’ as the thing is suppressed voluntarily, and your explanation is too kind not to give me pain. The Satire was written when I was very young and very angry, and fully bent on displaying my wrath and my wit, and now I am haunted by the ghosts of my wholesale assertions. I cannot sufficiently thank you for your praise; and now, waving myself, let me talk to you of the Prince Regent. He ordered me to be presented to him at a ball; and after some sayings peculiarly pleasing from royal lips, as to my own attempts, he talked to me of you and your immortalities: he preferred you to every bard past and present, and asked which of your works pleased me most. It was a difficult question. I answered, I thought the ‘Lay.’ He said his own opinion was nearly similar. In speaking of the others. I told him that I thought you more particularly the poet of Princes, as they never appeared more fascinating than in ‘Marmion’ and the ‘Lady of the Lake.’ ‘He was pleased to coincide, and to dwell on the description of your Jameses as no less royal than poetical. He spoke alternately of Homer and yourself, and seemed well acquainted with both; so that (with the exception of the Turks and your humble servant) you were in very good company. I defy Murray to have exaggerated his royal highness’s opinion of your powers, nor can I pretend to enumerate all he said on the subject; but it may give you pleasure to hear that it was conveyed in language which would only suffer by my attempting to transcribe it, and with a tone and taste which gave me a very high idea of his abilities and accomplishments, which I had hitherto considered as confined to manners, certainly superior to those of any living gentleman.

This interview was accidental. I never went to the levee; for having seen the courts of Mussulman and Catholic sovereigns, my curiosity was sufficiently allayed; and my politics being as perverse as my rhymes, I had, in fact, ‘no business there.’ To be thus praised by your Sovereign must be gratifying to you; and if that gratification is not alloyed by the communication being made through me, the bearer of it will consider himself very fortunately and sincerely
Your obliged and obedient servant,
Byron.
P.S. Excuse this scrawl, scratched in a great hurry and just after a journey.

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