Monday, 22 March 2010

Murray Make Over


7 september 1812

"your Lordship will readily believe that I am delighted to find you thinking upon a new poem for which I should be proud to give a thousand guineas - and I should gratefully remember the fame it would cast over my new establishment, upon which I enter at the close of the present month

I am ashamed to see how long I may have trespassed upon your Lordship's patience
I am ever my lord
your faithful humble servant
John Murray.
IS there a hint of irony a year into their relationship? of a shared joke at the deference. Of flirtatiousness? I think there might be. The letters become lighter...retaining the forms...this is not a democracy, after all...but treating them EASILY

Ease is, after all, the surest mark of gentility

15 October 1812, discussing the Meyer portrait of Byron for use in publication...
"As for the plate itself, as I had not the courage to violate your Lordship even in effigy, I trust that I shall be pardoned for evading this part of your commands by sending it to your own custody, trusting that you will consent to banish it to the family archives, there to rest until a happy occasion can draw it forth agasin.
This, is think, we can safely describe as banter. Banter happens between people who are, provisionally, equals. So Byron must have charmed him. Byron must have permitted his printer to bandy words with him...we know that the most important skill any politician or salesman must have is the quality of at least appearing to listen. Of treating each accidental encounter as the most important thing that could possibly be happening right now, and their constituent as the most interesting person they could hope to meet. Whether this is an aristocratic or democratic skill...Byron had practiced it on Murray, and Murray was now his man. One can specualte about whether Byron NEEDED affection from everyone, as politicians do, as rock stars do. I'm thinking of Hunter Thomson's characterisation of the fatal weakness of George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election campaign. The politician must not only turn on the crowd, he must be turned on by the crowd. Political success is impossible, says Thomson,

"without some dark kinky streak of Mick Jagger somewhere in your soul"

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