NEW YORK MIRROR
A WEEKLY JOURNAL DEVOTED TO LITERATURE AND THE FINE ARTS
New York, Saturday, September 26, 1835
1835 NEWLY-DISCOVERED POEM OF LORD BYRON
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF LOVE
Some two years since, a literary friend residing in London sent us in manuscript a copy of the following poem, which he stated to be the undoubted production of Lord Byron. As it had no date, and as the petition to Dr. Moyes, to which it professed to be a reply, did not accompany it, we laid it aside, attaching no credit to its authenticity. Meeting with it, however, the other day, in the August number of the "New Monthly Magazine," we resolved upon giving it a place in the Mirror as a literary curiosity, although even now we have our doubts respecting the distinguished paternity thus attributed to it; and this the more particularly, as it did not appear in the noble bard's "Hours of Idleness," written, as it professes to be, previous to the publication of that collection. Those who feel disposed to carp at the appearance of any of Lord Byron's "remains" in these columns, will be good enough to take notice that we do not publish this poem as original, although we might have done so long since. We prefer the responsibility of the New Monthly Magazine, in this instance. We are promised, however, another original poem of poor Byron's, which we shall lay before our readers when it comes to hand, should that time ever arrive.
The London Courier thus notices the poem which we now publish: -- "The admirers of our noble bard will be not a little surprised to hear that an original poem from his lordship's pen, of nearly three hundred lines, has appeared in the last number of the New Monthly Magazine; and when we add that the subject of the said poem is "the Natural History of Love," we think we have said enough to raise the reader's curiosity to the highest pitch, and we doubt not it will be most agreeably satisfied."
Dear Doctor, let it not transpire
How much your lectures we admire:
How at your eloquence we wonder,
When you explain the cause of thunder,
Of lightning and electricity,
With so much plainness and simplicity;
The origin of rocks and mountains,
Of seas and rivers, lakes and fountains,
Of rain and hail, of frost and snow,
And all the winds and storms that blow;
Besides an hundred wonders more,
Of which we never heard before.
But now, dear doctor, not to flatter,
There is a most important matter,
A matter which you never touch on,
A matter which our thoughts run much on,
A subject if we right conjecture,
Which well deserves a long, long lecture,
Which all the ladies would approve --
The Natural History of Love.
Oh ! list to our united voice,
Deny us not, dear Dr. Moyes:
Tell us why our poor tender hearts
So willingly admit Loves's darts !
Teach us the marks of Love's beginning,
What is it makes a beau so winning?
What is it makes a coxcomb witty,
A dotard wise, a red coat pretty !
Why we believe such horrid lies,
That we are angels from the skies,
Our teeth are pearl, our cheeks are roses,
Our eyes are stars -- such charming noses !
Explain our dreams, waking and sleeping !
Explain our laughing and are weeping,
Explain our hoping and our doubting,
Our blushing, simpering, and pouting,
Tell us all the enchanting arts
Of winning and of keeping hearts.
Teach us, dear doctor, if you can,
To humble that proud creature, man
To turn the wise one into fools,
The proud and insolent to tools;
To make them all run helter-skelter
Their necks into the marriage-halter;
Then leave us to ourselves with these,
We'll rule and turn them as we please.
Dear doctor, if you grant our wishes,
We promise you five hundred kisses,
And rather than the affair be blunder'd
We'll give you six score to the hundred."
Approved by three hundred ladies, 1807
LORD BYRON'S REPLY.
( The following are Lord Byron's own words, in reference to the preceding
composing:--- "This petition, a sprightly little poem, was put into my
hands by a lady for whom I entertain a very great respect, accompanied
by a wish that I would reply in the doctor's name. Though by no means adequate
to the task, I have endeavoured, in the following lines, to give such answers
to the question as my own trifling experience suggested, more from
my dislike to refuse any request of a female, than the most distant hope
of affording a perspicuous or satisfactory solution of the different queries.
-- March, 1807. )
In all the arts, without exception,
The moderns show a vast perception:
From morbid symptoms diagnostick,
Each doctor draws a sage prognostick,
While each professor forms a project
From diagrams or subtle logick.
Herschel improves us in astronomy,
Lavater writes on physiognomy;
The principles of nature's history,
To man appears no more a mystery.
Monboddo says that once a tail, huge,
Adorned man before the deluge;
And that at length mankind got rid of 'em,
Because they stood no more in need of 'em.
Since we on fours no longer went all
Clothes were declared more ornamental.
Religion splits in many a schism;
Lectures commence on galvanism;
The marvellous phantasmagoria
Work on the opticks and sensoria;
But not content with common things,
Behold, some daily wonders springs,
And infant Billington, or Banti,
Squalls out "Adagio" or Andante ! "
The town to see the veteran Kemble
In nightly crowds no more assemble;
The house is cramm'd in every place full,
To see the boy of action graceful;
Which Roscius lends his name to Betty,
Sully must yield the palm to Petty;
And last, though not the least in crime,
A sucking peer pretends to rhyme,
Though many think the noble fool
Had better far return to school,
And there improve in learning faster,
Instead of libeling his master.
Knowledge is daily more prolifick,
And babes will soon be scientifick.
Yet in the midst of general science,
One theme to sophists bids defiance,
Which some condemn, but most approve --
The Natural History of Love !
That love exists -- sure none can doubt it;
Indeed, where should we be without it?
'Tis in the catalogue of sins;
But when and where this love begins,
Is perfectly incomprehensible,
Though all to its approach are sensible.
'Tis pleasure, pain -- 'tis old, 'tis new --
'Tis Alpha and omega too;
'Tis subject to no jurisdiction,
But burns the fiercer for restriction.
Some call it passive, others active,
We all agree that 'tis attractive;
Others declare, when first this world,
In dark, promiscuous chaos hurl'd,
Through elements yet undigested,
Of shape and sense lay quite divested,
That Form* and Matter join'd in marriage,
And happily, without miscarriage,
In blissful bonds at once uniting,
Produced this earth we draw the light in;
And hence, in fable allegorical,
The bards of yore, most metaphorical,
Have drawn ( the simile must strike ye )
The pretty tale of Love and Psyche †
Thus Form is first I ever heard of,
( Or, rather, ever read a word of, )
If he, as I have stated, be male,
Who talk'd on love or kiss'd a female.
We'll therefore call him Love, or rather,
Of Love, at least, the mighty father;
For this to matrons must appear,
And husbands also, very clear,
That we are under obligation
To those who first produced creation;
For had they never given birth
To this our general parent Earth,
We might have trod some other sphere,
Or been just now -- the Lord knows where.
This origin we'll take for granted,
Because some origin is wanted;
Yet still I shall be much the debtor
Of any one who finds a better.
Though Love be sprung of very great degree,
I know but little of his pedigree;
Yet as his family was thought about,
A circumstance which I knew naught about,
To settle this I have been bold enough
To give him one at least that's old enough
In water, fire, earth or air,
Love holds his general empire there;
The birds who cleave yon azure sky
Breathe amorous warblings a they fly;
In water, e'en the very fishes
Are periodically vicious;
And fire, all elements above,
Is emblematical of love,
On earth, since first the earth begun,
We know the miracles he's done.
But why should I romances tell
Which every damsel knows so well?
To those just now I shan't recall 'em
But may the very same befall 'em;
And this, I think, with all due deference,
In fact, with words, would have the preference;
Because the best detailed narration,
Fallls very short of demonstration;
This truth requires no great rehearsal,
That love indeed is universal,
From things with animation rife,
To things of vegetable life
Shells and their inmates also feel it,
There's not an oyster can conceal it.
The loves of plants are all the fashion,
And cabbage feels the tender passion.
Why ladies' young and tender hearts
So readily admit Love's darts,
Requires no seraph from on high
To make at once an apt reply;
This faith is orthodox for ever --
A damsel's heart is Cupid's quiver;
For never placed he there an arrow
Which found its residence too narrow,
But gently was at once admitted,
The shaft and all most nicely fitted.
Why then suppose a coxcomb witty,
A dotard wise, a red coat pretty,
Are questions that would pose the sages
Of these or any former ages.
Some wicked wretches, who peruse
The patriarchs' lives but to abuse,
Have said that very ancient story
Concerning Eve is allegory --
That Satan was no fiery dragon,
But a fine youth, without a rag on,
And held as good a claim as Adam
To be the spouse of Eve -- a sad dame !
And consequently 'tis pretended
Some are from Lucifer decended !
This parantage I sha'n't dispute,
Or what was the forbidden fruit;
The ancient texts have all agreed
The devil was of reptile breed;
Proceeding on their grave decision,
We'll form from thence this supposition:
As serpents, it is often said,
Are caught with any thing that's red,
Perchance some females may inherit
A secret sympathetick spirit,
Which binds them to this predilection,
And scarlet is to them perfection.
Why wit in coxcombs they discern
Is hardly worth our while to learn.
Why fools are oft perferr'd to wise men
I know, but never will advise them;
We really can't explain the reason,
Because to mention it were treason.
Why ! all the charming easy creatures
Believe that heaven is in their features,
Has lent her stars -- that earth has given
Her roses to outrival heaven;
Or why the sea, to please the girl,
Bids oysters mourn their absent pearl,
Requires but little explanation --
Their own mistakes are the occasion.
While vanity shall hold the glass,
All this will daily come to pass.
To cure their laughing and their weeping,
Their wandering dreams, and e'en their sleeping,
'Tis known by men of nice precision,
That Hymen is the best physician;
He will unravel hopes and doubting,
And put an end to fits of pouting.
But how to tame the other sex
Would any saint or sage perplex.
Ladies ! I think you can't complain,
You hold a wide extensive reign;
First learn to rule yourselves, and then,
Perhaps, you'll quite subdue the men.
As for that word, the marriage halter,
The very mention makes me falter;
The texture is so monstrous coarse,
It drags us into heaven by force.
Though much disposed to sin in rhyming,
The muses never speak of Hymen;
I'm therefore almost doubtful whether
I'd best be silent altogether,
Or with a compliment conclude,
Since all before is downright rude;
But when I read the blest reward
Awaits the doctor, or his bard,
"Five hundred kisses ! Oh, ye gods !
For half I'd dare all mortal odds:
Though I can never be victorious,
To fall in such a cause is glorious;
I'll therefore, since I've made beginning,
Conclude, with scarce a hope of winning.
To make my deities propitious
I'll wish what each in secret wishes;
Though much I fear that e'en veracity
Can ne'er atone for such audacity.
"May each among you find a mate
Content at home in peace to wait;
Grateful for each connubial blessing,
And quite enough in spouse possessing;
A cheerful, constant, kind and free one --
But heaven forbid that I should be one ! "