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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/611

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INTRODUCTION TO THE BLUES.

Byron's correspondence does not explain the mood in which he wrote The Blues, or afford the slightest hint or clue to its motif or occasion. In a letter to Murray, dated Ravenna, August 7, 1821, he writes, "I send you a thing which I scribbled off yesterday, a mere buffoonery, to quiz 'The Blues.' If published it must be anonymously.... You may send me a proof if you think it worth the trouble." Six weeks later, September 20, he had changed his mind. "You need not," he says, "send The Blues, which is a mere buffoonery not meant or publication." With these intimations our knowledge ends, and there is nothing to show why in August, 1821, he took it into his head "to quiz The Blues," or why, being so minded, he thought it worth while to quiz them in so pointless and belated a fashion. We can but guess that an allusion in a letter from England, an incident at a conversazione at Ravenna, or perhaps the dialogues in Peacock's novels, Melincourt an Nightmare Abbey, brought to his recollection the half-modish, half-litenrary coteries of the earlier years of the Regency, and that he sketches the scenes and persons of his eclogue not from life, but from memory.

In the Diary of 1813, 1814, there is more than one mention of the "Blues." For instance, November 27, 1813, he writes, "Sotheby is a Littérateur, the oracle of the Coteries of the * *'s, Lydia White (Sydney Smith's 'Tory Virgin'), Mrs. Wilmot (she, at least, is a swan, and might frequent a purer stream), Lady Beaumont and all the Blues, with Lady Charlemont at their head." Again on December 1, "Tomorrow there is a party of purple at the 'blue' Miss Berry's. Shall I go? um!—I don't much affect your blue-bottles;—but one ought to be civil.... Perhaps that blue-winged Kashmirian butterfly of book-learning Lady Charlemont will be there" (see Letters, 1898, ii. 333, 358, note 2).

Byron was, perhaps, a more willing guest at literary