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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/570

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POEMS OF THE SEPARATION.

With whatever purpose, or under whatever emotion the lines were written, Byron did not keep them to himself. They were shown to Murray, and copies were sent to "the initiated." "I have just received," writes Murray, "the enclosed letter from Mrs. Maria Graham [1785-1842, née Dundas, authoress and traveller, afterwards Lady Callcott], to whom I had sent the verses. It will show you that you are thought of in the remotest corners, and furnishes me with an excuse for repeating that I shall not forget you. God bless your Lordship. Fare Thee Well" [MSS. M.].

But it does not appear that they were printed in their final shape (the proof of a first draft, consisting of thirteen stanzas, is dated March 18, 1816) till the second copy of verses were set up in type with a view to private distribution (see Letters, 1899, iii. 279). Even then there was no thought of publication on the part of Byron or of Murray, and, as a matter of fact, though Fare Thee Well was included in the "Poems" of 1816, it was not till both poems had appeared in over twenty pirated editions that A Sketch was allowed to appear in vol. iii. of the Collected Works of 1819. Unquestionably Byron intended that the "initiated," whether foes or sympathizers, should know that he had not taken his dismissal in silence; but it is far from certain that he connived at the appearance of either copy of verses in the public press. It is impossible to acquit him of the charge of appealing to a limited circle of specially chosen witnesses and advocates in a matter which lay between himself and his wife, but the aggravated offence of rushing into print may well be attributed to "the injudicious zeal of a friend," or the "malice prepense" of an enemy. If he had hoped that the verses would slip into a newspaper, as it were, malgré lui, he would surely have taken care that the seed fell on good ground under the favouring influence of Perry of the Morning Chronicle, or Leigh Hunt of the Examiner. As it turned out, the first paper which possessed or ventured to publish a copy of the "domestic pieces" was the Champion, a Tory paper, then under the editorship of John Scott (1783-1821), a man of talent and of probity, but, as Mr. Lang puts it (Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart, 1897, i. 256), "Scotch, and a professed moralist." The date of publication