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NO INFANT SOTHEBY, WHOSE DAUNTLESS HEAD'

[To John Murray, July 15, 1817. 'Have you no new Babe of Literature sprung up to replace the dead, the distant, the tired, and the retired? no prose, no verse, no nothing?']

No infant Sotheby, whose dauntless head Translates, misunderstood, a deal of GerNo city Wordsworth, more admired than read,

man;

No drunken Coleridge with a new Lay

Sermon.

'DEAR DOCTOR, I HAVE READ YOUR PLAY'

6

[To John Murray, August 21, 1817. Murray had written to Byron: Polidori has sent me his tragedy! Do me the kindness to send by return of post a delicate declension of it, which I engage faithfully to copy.' The following is Byron's civil and delicate declension for the medical tragedy.']

DEAR Doctor, I have read your play,
Which is a good one in its way,
Purges the eyes and moves the bowels,
And drenches handkerchiefs like towels
With tears, that, in a flux of grief,
Afford hysterical relief

To shatter'd nerves and quicken'd pulses, Which your catastrophe convulses.

I like your moral and machinery;
Your plot, too, has such scope for Scenery;
Your dialogue is apt and smart;
The play's concoction full of art;
Your hero raves, your heroine cries,
All stab, and everybody dies.
In short, your tragedy would be
The very thing to hear and see;
And for a piece of publication,
If I decline on this occasion,
It is not that I am not sensible
To merits in themselves ostensible,
But- and I grieve to speak it - plays
Are drags- mere drugs, Sir-now-a-days.
I had a heavy loss by Manuel,

Too lucky if it prove not annual, –
And Sotheby, with his damn'd Orestes
(Which, by the way, the old Bore's best is),
Has lain so very long on hand
That I despair of all demand.

II

20

I've advertised, but see my books,
Or only watch my Shopman's looks; —
Still Ivan, Ina, and such lumber,
My back-shop glut, my shelves encumber.
There's Byron, too, who once did better,
Has sent me, folded in a letter,
A sort of it's no more a drama
Than Darnley, Ivan, or Kehama;
So alter'd since last year his pen
I think he's lost his wits at Venice,

is,

In short, sir, what with one and t'other, I dare not venture on another.

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I write in haste; excuse each blunder; The Coaches through the street so thunder!

And others, neither bards nor wits:
My humble tenement admits
All persons in the dress of gent.,
From Mr. Hammond to Dog Dent.

40

My Room's so full; we 've Gifford here
Reading MSS., with Hookham Frere,
Pronouncing on the nouns and particles
Of some of our forthcoming Articles.
The Quarterly — Ah, Sir, if you
Had but the Genius to review !-
A smart Critique upon St. Helena,
Or if you only would but tell in a
Short compass what but, to resume:
As I was saying, Sir, the Room
The Room's so full of wits and bards,
Crabbes, Campbells, Crokers, Freres, and
Wards

50

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Her Publisher (and Public too)
The hour of her demise may rue —
For never more within his shop he -
Pray was not she interr'd at Coppet?
Thus run our time and tongues away. -
But, to return, Sir, to your play:
Sorry, Sir, but I cannot deal,
Unless 't were acted by O'Neill.
My hands are full, my head so busy,
I'm almost dead, and always dizzy;
And so, with endless truth and hurry,
Dear Doctor, I am yours,

JOHN MURRAY.

August, 1817.

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80

89

No doubt he 's a rare man
Without knowing German

Translating his way up Parnassus,

10

20

You could hardly begin with a less work; For the pompous rascallion, Who don't speak Italian

Nor French, must have scribbled by guess-work.

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Of these there have been few translations
For Gallic or Italian nations;

And one or two perhaps in German,
But in this last I can't determine.
But then I only sung of passions
That do not suit with modern fashions;
Of Incest and such like diversions
Permitted only to the Persians,
Or Greeks to bring upon their stages
But that was in the earlier ages.
Besides my style is the romantic,
Which some call fine, and some call frantic;
While others are or would seem as sick
Of repetitions nicknamed Classic.
For my part all men must allow
Whatever I was, I'm classic now.
I saw and left my fault in time,
And chose a topic all sublime —
Wondrous as antient war or hero
Then play'd and sung away like Nero,
Who sang of Rome, and I of Rizzo:
The subject has improved my wit so,
The first four lines the poet sees
Start forth in fourteen languages!
Though of seven volumes none before
Could ever reach the fame of four,
Henceforth I sacrifice all Glory
To the Rinaldo of my Story:
I've sung his health and appetite
(The last word 's not translated right
He's turn'd it, God knows how, to vigour);
I'll sing them in a book that's bigger.
Oh! Muse prepare for thy Ascension!
And generous Rizzo! thou my pension.
February, 1818.

His father's sense, his mother's grace, In him, I hope, will always fit so; With still to keep him in good caseThe health and appetite of Rizzo. February 20, 1818.

10

Of all the twice ten thousand bards That ever penn'd a canto,

20

ON THE BIRTH OF JOHN WILLIAM RIZZO HOPPNER

30

BALLAD

TO THE TUNE OF SALLY IN OUR ALLEY'

[First published complete in the Edition of 1904 from a manuscript in the possession of Mr. Murray. This and the two following poems are in a letter to John Murray, dated April 11, 1818.]

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