Monday, 22 March 2010

January 1816 - Murray gets it Wrong with the First Man on the Moon

Not that Murray always got it right. Here is an exchange where Murray got it wrong...but that also reveals the intensity of Murray's feelings.

The next year, Murray 6 tells us...

"The Siege of Corinth arrived at Albemarle Street on November 4th 1815 as a fair copy MS in his wife (shortly to be deserted) Annabella's handwriting...Byron wrote to Murray "publish or not as you like I don't care a damn - if not put it in the fire"

Murray misread the tone as ironic, and sent two drafts amounting to 1000 guineas...
Byron refused the money Jan 3rd 1816
"Your offer is liberal in the extreme, and much more than the poems can possibly be worth, but I cannot accept it, and will not. You are most welcome to them as additions to the collected volumes without any demand or expectation on my part whatever
Weariness, already...weariness of self when self is now huge...we don't believe this of celebs...maybe it's true...maybe it is an impossible thing to be
"I have enclosed your draft torn for fear of accident by the way. I wish you would not throw temptation in mine"
It was suggested by Byron's pals Samuel Rogers and Sir James Mackintosh...both rich men...richer than Murray or Byron, that Murray give the money to William Godwin, the radical, He is being treated with aristocratic high handedness, but listen to Murray as he responds to Byron's insult...the tone now wholly different, more human...jilted, actually
"Your lordship will pardon me if I cannot avoid looking upon it as a species of take so large a sum - offered with no reference to the marketable value of the poems, but out of friendship and gratiutude alone, to cast it away on the wanton and ungenerous interference of those who cannot enter into your Lordship's feelings for me, upon persons who can have so little claim upon you, and whom those who so interested themselves might more decently and honestly enrich from their own funds than by endeavouring to be liberal at the cost of another...what would be the most grateful pleasure to me if likely to be useful to you personally, becomes merely painful if it causes me to work for others for whom I can have no such feelings"
My money is my love for you...that is the meaning, plain as day...and you have spurned me, you torment me...
to which Byron replied
"Had I taken your money, I might have used it as I pleased, whether I paid it to a whore or a hospital"
The sexual insult is well aimed, I think. Of course, Byron was in withdrew his objection, and paid off some other tradesmen. But the politics of the gestures , of money as shit and sex...of poetry as shit and sex...are established.
Bewildered as they both seem to have been by their joint ranimation of the Frankensteinian Creature of public self hood, he and John Murray had by now discovered the first law of Personality...that there is no such thing as bad publicity. That celebrity is amoral. The worse his reputation got, the more books Murray sold and he printed anything Byron felt like throwing him...and his output was dazzled as well as dazzling, volcanic more than considered...uneven, even for his biggest fans...he was, after all, very young...and no-one had been where he was now before him. He was the first man on the moon.

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