Title: Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, The Siege of Corinth, p. 28-29
Creator: Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron 1788-1824.
Bibliographic Citation: Byron, George Gordon Noel. The Siege of Corinth. 1st ed. London: John Murray, 1816. 28-29.
Notes: This selection from the first edition of The Siege of Corinth (1816) shows the footnote Byron wrote to account for his echo of Coleridge’s “Christabel.” Byron points obliquely to the experience of hearing the poem (from Scott) and denies the label of plagiarist is appropriate for either himself or Coleridge. Byron also repeats his call that Coleridge should publish the poem immediately: I must here acknowledge a close, though unintentional, resemblance in these twelve lines to a passage in an unpublished poem of Mr. Coleridge, called “Christabel.” It was not till after these lines were written that I heard that wild and singularly original and beautiful poem recited; and the MS. of that production I never saw till very recently, by the kindness of Mr. Coleridge himself, who, I hope, is convinced that I have not been a wilful plagiarist. [. . .] Let me conclude by a hope that he will not longer delay the publication of a production, of which I can only add my mite of approbation to the applause of far more competent judges. In a letter to Coleridge dated 27 October 1815, Byron adresses the matter again: Dear Sir—I have “the Christabelle safe—& am glad to see it in such progress—surely a little effort would complete the poem.—On your question with W[alter] Scott—I know not how to speak—he is a friend of mine—and though I cannot contradict your statement I must look to the most favourable part of it—all I have ever seen of him has been frank—fair & warm in regard towards you—and when he repeated this very production it was with such mention as it deserves and that could not be faint praise.—But I am partly in the same scrape myself that you will see by the enclosed extract from an unpublished poem which I assure you was written before (not seeing your “Christabelle” for that you know I never did till this day) but before I heard Mr. S[cott] repeat it—which he did in June last—and this thing was begun in January & more than half written before the Summer—the coincidence is only in this particular passage and if you will allow me—in publishing it (which I shall perhaps do quietly in Murray’s collected Edition of my rhymes—though not separately) I will give the extract from you—and state that the original thought & expression have been many years in the Christabelle. The stories—scenes—&c. are in general quite different—mine is the siege of Corinth in 1715—when the Turks retook the Morea from the Venetians— —the Ground is quite familiar to me—for I have passed the Isthmus six—I think—eight times—in my way to & from— —the hero—is a renegade—& the night before the storm of the City—he is supposed to have an apparition or wraith of his mistress—to warn him of his destiny—as he sits among the ruins of an old temple.—I write to you in the greatest hurry— —I know not what you may think of this:—if you like I will cut out the passage—t& do as well as I can without—or what you please.— ever yrs. BYRON Byron, George Gordon Noel. “Letter to Coleridge, 27 October 1815.” Byron’s Letters and Journals. Vol. 4. Ed. Leslie J. Marchand. London: John Murray, 1975. 321-22. PR 4381 A3M35 1973B v.4 Humanities and Social Sciences Library As Byron notes, a passage of the poem lodged itself in Byron’s mind and resurfaced in his description of his hero’s forlorn entry into a ruined temple where he encounters the spectre of his mistress: He sate him down at a pillar’s base, And passed his hand athwart his face; Like one in dreary musing mood, Declining was his attitude; His head was dropping on his breast, Fevered, throbbing, and opprest; And o’er his brow, so downward bent, Oft his beating fingers went, Hurriedly, as you may see Your own run over the ivory key, Ere the measured tone is taken By the chords you would awaken. There he sate all heavily, As he heard the night-wind sigh. Was it the wind, through some hollow stone6, Sent that soft and tender moan? (The Siege of Corinth 461-77)
Subject: Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron 1788-1824. The Siege of Corinth.
Publisher: Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University
is Part Of Exhibition: Interactions of Script and Print in the Nineteenth Century
Exhibition Theme: Circulating in Manuscript
Call Number: YP B99si
Image Identifier: YP_B99si_p28-29