from A Writer’s Diary (Wednesday, 7 August 1918)
Anyhow, I was very glad to go on with my Byron. He has at least the male virtues. In fact, I’m amused to find how easily I can imagine the effect he had upon women – especially upon rather stupid or uneducated women, unable to stand up to him. So many, too, would wish to reclaim him. ***I’m much impressed by the extreme badness of B.’s poetry – such of it as Moore quotes with almost speechless admiration. Why did they think this Album stuff the finest fire of poetry? It reads hardly better than L.E.L. or Ella Wheeler Wilcox. And they dissuaded him from doing what he knew he could do, which was to write satire. He came home from the East with satires (parodies of Horace) in his bag and Childe Harold. He was persuaded that Childe Harold was the best poem every written. But he never as a young man believed in his poetry; a proof, in such a confident dogmatic person, that he hadn’t the gift. The Wordsworths and the Keatses believe in that as much as they believe in anything.
***At any rate Byron had superb force; his letters prove it. He had in many ways a very fine nature too; though as no one laughed him out of his affectations he became more like Horace Cole than one could wish. He could only be laughed at by a woman, and they worshipped instead. I haven’t yet come to Lady Byron, but I suppose, instead of laughing, she merely disapproved. And so he became Byronic.
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