Byronic Observations

Selected Short Quotations From
The Letters and Journals of Lord Byron

From Byron’s Letters and Journals,
Volume 3, 1813 -1814,
Ed. Leslie A. Marchand, John Murray, 1974

On Beauty

On coming home from abroad, I recollect being unable to look at any woman … they were so fair, and unmeaning, and blonde … but this impression wore off ; and now I can look at a fair woman, without longing for a Houri.

… the longest eyelashes I ever saw, since Leila’s and Phannio’s Moslem curtains of the light.

I can’t say much for their seraglio [in a stage play] – Teresa, Phannio, or ****, were worth them all.

On Marriage and Mistresses

I never knew any good come of your young wife, and legal espousals … But a mistress is just as perplexing – that is, one – two or more are manageable by division.

A mistress never is, nor can be, a friend. While you agree, you are lovers; and when its over, anything but friends.

[I am]… frittering away … time among dowagers and unmarried girls. If it advanced any serious affair, it were some excuse; but, with the unmarried, that is a hazardous speculation, and tiresome enough, too: and with the veterans, it is not worth trying, unless, perhaps, one in a thousand.

On Friendships and Fame

If she [Lady Melbourne] had been a few years younger, what a fool she would have made of me had she thought it worth her while, – and I would have lost a valuable and most agreeable friend.

The reason that adulation is not displeasing is, that, though untrue, it shows one to be of consequence enough, in one way or another, to induce people to lie, to make us their friend.

If I must fritter away my life, I would rather do it alone.

The maxim of my boxing master, which, in my youth, was found useful in all general riots, – “whosoever is not for you is against you – mill away right and left”

On Poets and Poetry

No-one should be a rhymer who could be any thing better.

I shall never be any thing, or rather always be nothing. The most I can hope is, that some will say, “He might, perhaps, if he would.”

What is a work – any -or every work – but a desert with fountains and, perhaps, a grove or two, every day’s journey?

Who would write who had anything better to do?

On Vice and Virtue

Every day confirms my opinion on the superiority of a vicious life — and if Virtue is not its own reward I don’t know any other stipend annexed to it

On Death and the Hearafter

All are inclined to believe what they covet, from a lottery ticket up to a passport to Paradise, – in which, from description, I see nothing very tempting.

I am too lazy to shoot myself – and it would annoy Augusta, and perhaps * * ; but it would be a good thing for George [Byron’s heir], on the other side, and no bad one for me; but I won’t be tempted.

It is for Him, who made it, to prolong that spark of celestial fire which illuminates, yet burns, this frail tenement; but I see no such horror in a “dreamless sleep”, and I have no conception of any existence which duration would not render tiresome.

… eternity won’t be the less agreeable or more horrible because one did not expect it.


I wish I could leave off eating altogether.


…a true voluptuary will never abandon his mind to the grossness of reality. It is by exalting the earthly, the material, the physique of our pleasures, by veiling these ideas, by forgetting them altogether, or, at least, never naming them hardly to one’s self, that we alone can prevent them from disgusting.