chapter  17
4 Pages

Some early opinions

(a) Extract from letter of 16 June 1818, from John Murray to Byron. (‘Mr. Frere’ was John Hookham Frere, author of Whistlecraft, which provided Byron with his immediate model for Beppo.) ‘Mr. Frere is at length satisfied that you are the author of Beppo. He had no conception that you possessed the protean talent of Shakespeare, thus to assume at will so different a character. He, and every one, continues in the same very high opinion of its great beauties. I am glad to find that you are disposed to pursue this strain, which has occasioned so much delight. Do you never think of prose? ... I have just put forth two more cantos of Whistlecraft—which the knowing ones think excellent, and of which the public think nothing, for they cannot see the drift of it. I have not sold 500 copies of the first parts yet; and of Beppo, I have sold six times that quantity in a sixth part of the time, and before, indeed, it is generally known to be yours. . . .’ (Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and his Friends, 1891, I, 393–4.)