Explore the BBC
Radio 4
Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

About the BBC

Contact Us


Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

Go to the Listen Again page
Tuesday, 08/10/2002, 9:00-9:30 and repeated 21:30 - 22:00
Jonathan Freedland looks for the past behind the present. Each week, The Long View, recorded on location throughout the British Isles, takes an issue from the current affairs agenda and finds a parallel in our past.
Have you got a good subject for a future programme? Click here to make your suggestion.

Max Clifford, publicist, and Lord Byron, an early self-publicist.

Extracts from sources used in the readings  

Some of the love lyrics published in March 1812 with Childe Harold cantos I and II:

"And thou art dead, as young and fair
As aught of mortal birth;
And form so soft, and charms so rare,
Too soon returned to earth!
Though earth received them in her bed,
And o'er the spot the crowd may tread
In carelessness or mirth,
There is one eye which could not brook
A moment on that grave to look. ...

The better days of life were ours;
The worst can be but mine:
The sun that cheers, the storm that lowers,
Shall never more be thine.
The silence of that dreamless sleep
I envy now too much to weep."

From 'To Thyrza'
"Ours too the glance none saw beside;
The smile none else might understand;
The whispered thought of hearts allied,
The pressure of the thrilling hand; ...
Well hast thou left in life's best bloom
The cup of woe for me to drain."


Fan letters to Byron from Isabella Harvey (aged 'nearly 18'), 1823:

"I tremble in addressing you. ... I well remember at school how intimately I connected the author and his works. This was natural, but it happens that the author is now more to me than his writings ... you are the food of my thoughts, the impulse of my life ... the brightest dream of my existence. ... To you I am indebted for almost all the happy hours I have spent, my day-dreams have been full of you - how romantic you would think me, did I tell you all the projects I have formed of which you were the hero. ... It is true that even if you were in England there would still be insurmountable barriers to our meeting, but I should know you were here, sometimes I should be in the same town with you, sometimes I might meet you in the streets, I should pass you by unnoticed, but my heart would quickly whisper, "It is he"."

"You tell me I am deluded in my imagination with regard to the sentiments I bear you. Not matter if it be illusion, how much more delightful it is than reality. I abjure reality for ever."

"I could almost be your slave, yet I do not feel debased by this feeling. On the contrary, it exalts me, it makes me proud, it elevates me above others. In exact proportions of the devotion and humility you inspire do I feel superior to others who surround me. ... You do not know me - yet how well, how intimately do I know you. ... you are the pillow on which I rest my sleeping and waking fancies."


Byron's friend and fellow-poet Thomas Moore on the causes of Byron's celebrity, in his 'Life and Letters of Lord Byron, with Notices of his Life' (1830):

"His youth, - the noble beauty of his countenance, and its constant play of lights and shadows, - the gentleness of his voice and manner to women, and his occasional haughtiness to men, - the alleged singularities of his mode of life, which kept curiosity alive and inquisitive, - all these lesser traits and habitudes concurred towards the quick spread of his fame; nor can it be denied that, among many purer sources of interest in the Poem ['Childe Harold'], the allusions which he makes to instances of 'successful passion' in his career were not without their influence on the fancies of that sex, whose weakness it is to be most easily won by those who come recommended by the greatest number of triumphs over others. That his rank was also to be numbered among these extrinsic advantages appears to have been, - partly perhaps from a feeling of modesty at the time, - his own persuasion. "I may place a great deal of it,' said he to Mr Dallas, 'to my being a lord." ... Never did exist before, and, it is most probable, never will exist again, a combination of such mental power and surpassing genius, with so many other of those advantages and attractions, by which the world is, in general, dazzled and captivated. The effect was, accordingly, electric; his fame had not to wait for any of the ordinary gradations, but seemed to spring up, like the palace of a fairy tale, overnight. As he himself briefly described it in his Memoranda, - "I awoke one morning and found myself famous." The first edition of his work was disposed of instantly; and as the echoes of its reputation multiplied on all sides, "Childe Harold" and "Lord Byron" became the theme of every tongue. At his door, most of the leading names of the day presented themselves ... From morning to night the most flattering testimonies of his success crowded his table, - from the grave tributes of the statesman and the philosopher down to (what flattered him still more) the romantic billet of some incognita, or the pressing note of invitation from some fair leader of fashion; and, in place of the desert which London had been to him but a few weeks before, he now not saw the whole splendid interior of High Life thrown open to receive him, but found himself among its illustrious crowds the most distinguished subject."


Byron on fame:

"My great comfort is, that the temporary celebrity I have wrung from the world has been in the very teeth of all opinions and prejudices. I have flattered no ruling powers; I have never concealed a single thought that tempted me." (Letter to Thomas Moore, April 1814)

"I only go out to get a fresh appetite for being alone" (Journal, December 1813)

2The great object of life is sensation - to feel that we exist even though in pain - it is this "craving void" which drives us to gaming - to battle - to travel - to intemperate but keenly-felt pursuits of every description."


Lady Caroline Lamb(undated letter to Samuel Rogers)

"I grew to love him better than virtue, religion - all prospects
here. He broke my heart and I still love him."

Listen Live
Audio Help
Back to the Long View Homepage
In Our Time
Thursday 9.00-9.45am, rpt 9.30-10.00pm. Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas. Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.
Go to This Sceptred Isle website
Have you got a good subject for a future programme? Click hereto make your suggestion.
Jonathan Freedland
Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. A twice-weekly columnist on the Guardian, he also presents BBC 4's The Talk Show on Monday nights at 8.30pm. He is author of the book Bring Home the Revolution, an acclaimed analysis of modern America.
Read a full profile of Jonathan Freedland on BBC 4 ..>>

News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy