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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/Egotism. A Letter to J. T. Becher


Ἑαυτὸν Βύρων αἔιδει.


If Fate should seal my Death to-morrow,
(Though much I hope she will postpone it,)
I've held a share of Joy and Sorrow,
Enough for Ten; and here I own it.


I've lived as many other men live,
And yet, I think, with more enjoyment;
For could I through my days again live,
I'd pass them in the same employment.


That is to say, with some exception,
For though I will not make confession,
I've seen too much of man's deception
Ever again to trust profession.


Some sage Mammas with gesture haughty,
Pronounce me quite a youthful Sinner—
But Daughters say, "although he's naughty,
You must not check a Young Beginner!"


I've loved, and many damsels know it—
But whom I don't intend to mention,
As certain stanzas also show it,
Some say deserving Reprehension.


Some ancient Dames, of virtue fiery,
(Unless Report does much belie them,)
Have lately made a sharp Enquiry,
And much it grieves me to deny them.


Two whom I lov'd had eyes of Blue,
To which I hope you've no objection;
The Rest had eyes of darker Hue
Each Nymph, of course, was all perfection,


But here I'll close my chaste Description,
Nor say the deeds of animosity;
For silence is the best prescription,
To physic idle curiosity.


Of Friends I've known a goodly Hundred
For finding one in each acquaintance,
By some deceived by others plunder'd,
Friendship, to me, was not Repentance.


At School I thought like other Children;
Instead of Brains, a fine Ingredient,
Romance, my youthful Head bewildering,
To Sense had made me disobedient.


A victim, nearly from affection,
To certain very precious scheming,
The still remaining recollection
Has cured my boyish soul of Dreaming.


By Heaven! I rather would forswear
The Earth, and all the joys reserved me,
Than dare again the specious Snare,
From which my Fate and Heaven preserved me.


Still I possess some Friends who love me—
In each a much esteemed and true one;
The Wealth of Worlds shall never move me
To quit their Friendship, for a new one.


But Becher! you're a reverend pastor,
Now take it in consideration,
Whether for penance I should fast, or
Pray for my sins in expiation.


I own myself the child of Folly,
But not so wicked as they make me—
I soon must die of melancholy,
If Female smiles should e'er forsake me.


Philosophers have never doubted,
That Ladies' Lips were made for kisses!
For Love! I could not live without it,
For such a cursed place as This is.


Say, Becher, I shall be forgiven!
If you don't warrant my salvation,
I must resign all Hopes of Heaven!
For, Faith, I can't withstand Temptation.

P.S.—These were written between one and two, after midnight. I have not corrected, or revised.
Yours, Byron.

  1. [From an autograph MS. at Newstead, now for the first time printed.]