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The second volume of Mr. Murray's edition of Byron's Letters and Fournals carries the autobiographical record of the poet's life from August, 1811, to April, 1814. Between these dates were published Childe Harold (Cantos I., II.), The Walts, The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte. At the beginning of this period Byron had suddenly become the idol of society; towards its close his personal popularity almost as rapidly declined before a storm of political vituperation.
Three great collections of Byron's letters, as was noted in the Preface to the previous volume, are in exist
The first is contained in Moore's Life (1830); the second was published in America, in FitzGreene Halleck's edition of Byron's Works (1847); of the third, edited by Mr. W. E. Henley, only the first volume has yet appeared. A comparison between the letters contained in these three collections and in that of Mr. Murray, down to December, 1813, shows the following results : Moore prints 152 letters; Halleck, 192; Mr. Henley, 231. Mr. Murray's edition adds 236 letters to
Moore, 196 to Halleck, and to Mr. Henley 157. It should also be noticed that the material added to Moore's Life in the second and third collections consists almost entirely of letters which were already in print, and had been, for the most part, seen and rejected by the biographer. The material added in Mr. Murray's edition, on the contrary, consists mainly of letters which have never before been published, and were inaccessible to Moore when he wrote his Life of Byron.
These necessary comparisons suggest some further remarks. It would have been easy, not only to indicate what letters or portions of letters are new, but also to state the sources whence they are derived. But, in the circumstances, such a course, at all events for the present, is so impolitic as to be impossible. On the other hand, anxiety has been expressed as to the authority for the text which is adopted in these volumes. To satisfy this anxiety, so far as circumstances allow, the following details are given
The material contained in these two volumes consists partly of letters now for the first time printed; partly of letters already published by Moore, Dallas, and Leigh Hunt, or in such books as Galt's Life of Lord Byron, and the Memoirs of Francis Hodgson. Speaking generally, it may be said that the text of the new matter, with the few exceptions noted below, has been prepared from the original letters, and that it has proved impossible to authenticate the text of most of the old material by any such process.
The point may be treated in greater detail. Out of the 388 letters contained in these two volumes, 220 have