Lot 328
Sold for £13,145 (US$ 22,094) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph letter signed (“B”), to Francis Hodgson (“My dear Hodgson”), written when getting the first two books of Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage ready for publication, especially his travel notes and notes on modern Greek (Romaic) with which Hodgson and his erstwhile travelling companion Hobhouse are helping (“...I believe ‘Cythèra´ is right according to the Romaic, but Murray´s man is a sore Cacologist nevertheless...Hobhouse is at Enniscorthy & has sent me a cursed cramp Romaic letter to translate & a column of queries that are not easily answered in these parts. They are for the tour, so I must rummage my books, & hold a privy council with Demetrius Zographos & Spero of the woeful Countenance [his Greek servants]...”), and, “Not having the fear of Phoebus before mine eyes”, sending him “a parody on Sir W. Jones´s Gazel of Hafiz” [‘The Barmaid´]; with a final flourish, Byron urges Hodgson to join him in print (“...Wont you come out with a Quarto to be in such good company? I wish we could get a few more two are so few...”), three pages, 4to, autograph address panel, franked (“Byron”) and postmarked, guard, part of the blank portion of the last leaf lacking and repaired, creased and lightly stained, but without loss of text and in sound condition, printed identification slip, Newstead Abbey, 11 October 1811

BYRON, NOT YET FAMOUS, AS THE YOUNG CHILDE HAROLD AT NEWSTEAD, protesting: “I only wait for half a years rent to fly from my solitary mansion where I am losing time & temper – I am like the Evangelical definition of the Wind, which ‘goeth (bloweth) where it listeth, but no man knows whence it cometh or where it returneth.´ – ...I do any thing or nothing to avoid my own thoughts”. In almost exactly parallel terms, at the beginning of the poem Byron was about to publish five months later – bringing him overnight fame – the autobiographical hero is described as fretting in the “vast and venerable pile” of “his father´s hall” and longing to escape: “Apart he stalk´d in joyless reverie,/And from his native land resolved to go,/And visit scorching climes beyond the sea;/With pleasure drugg´d, he almost long´d for woe,/And e´en for change of scene would seek the shades below” (from Stanza VI)

This letter is unknown to Leslie A. Marchand, Byron´s Letters and Journals, vols.1-12 and Supplementary Volume (1994), although it is listed (without date) in the British Library Location Register of English Literary Manuscripts and Letters (1995), p.154, col.3. The reappearance of our letter helps explain a reference in a letter to Hodgson written two days later, on 13 October, which opens: “You will begin to deem me the most liberal correspondent; but as my letters are free, you overlook their frequency”. Ours has indeed been sent free of charge, courtesy of the privilege extended to members of both Houses of Parliament, with the address panel franked by Byron with his signature.
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