The Works of Lord Byron, Letters and Journals Vol. 2, (online here and here)


8. St. James's Street June 1st. 1812

Sir—The most satisfactory answer to the concluding part of your letter is that Mr. Murray will republish your volume if you still retain your inclination for the experiment which I trust will be successful.— Some weeks ago my friend Mr. Rogers showed me some of the stanzas in M.S. & I then expressed my opinion of their merit which a further perusal of the printed volume has given me no reason to revoke. I mention this as it may not be disagreeable to you to learn that I entertained a very favourable opinion of your powers before I was aware that such sentiments were reciprocal. Wa[i]ving your obliging expressions as to my own productions for which I thank you very sincerely & assure you that I think not lightly of the praise of one whose approbation is valuable, will you allow me to talk to you candidly not critically on the subject of yours?—You will not suspect me of a wish to discourage, since I pointed out to the publisher the propriety of complying with your wishes.—I think more highly of your poetical talents than it would perhaps gratify you to hear expressed, for I believe from what I observe of your mind that you are above flattery.—To come to the point—you deserve success, but we know before Addison wrote his Cato, that desert does not always command it.-—But suppose it attained
“You know what ills the author's life assail, Toil, envy, want, the patron, & the Jail”2
do not renounce writing, but never trust entirely to Authorship.—If you have a profession, retain it, it will be like Prior's fellowship3, a last & sure resource.—Compare Mr. Rogers with other authors of the day, assuredly he is amongst the first of living poets, but is it to that he owes his station in society & his intimacy in the best circles? no, it is to his prudence & respectability, the world (a bad one I own) courts him because he has no occasion to court it.—He is a poet, nor is he less so because he was something more.—I am not sorry to hear that you are not tempted by the vicinity of Capel Lofft Esqre.4 though if he had done for you what he has for the Bloomfields I should never have laughed at his rage for patronizing.—But a truly constituted mind will ever be independent.—That you may be so is my very sincere wish & if others think as well of your poetry as I do, you will have no cause to complain of your readers.— Believe me

yr obliged & obedt. Sert.

  1. Bernard Barton (1784-1849) was a Quaker poet and friend of Charles Lamb. His Metrical Effusions was published in 1812. He was a clerk in a bank in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Lamb's advice to him was similar to Byron's: "Keep to your bank, and the bank will keep you." (Letter of Jan. 9, 1823.)
  2. Slightly misquoted from Johnson's Vanity of Human Irishes, lines 158-59.
  3. Matthew Prior became a Fellow of St. John's College in 1688.
  4. For Capell Lofft and the Bloomfields, see Aug. 21, 1811, to Dallas, notes 4 and 5."