THIS tale by Lord Byron is his contribution to the ghost story competition of 1816, and was first published at the end of his Mazeppa ( 1819), where it was entitled "'A FRAGMENT'" and dated ' June 17, 1816'. Byron sent the tale to his publisher John Murray shortly after The Vampyre appeared, in order to demonstrate 'how far it resembles Mr. Colburn's publication'. He instructed Murray: 'If you choose to publish it in the Edinburgh Magazine ( Wilsons & Blackwoods) you may--stating why, & with such explanatory proem as you please.' Murray apparently decided not to publish it in Blackwood's, and instead appended it to Mazeppa, though without a 'proem' or Byron's permission, a decision that clearly irked Byron even a year later. 'I shall not allow you to play the tricks you did last year with the prose you postscribed to Mazeppa--which I sent to you not to be published if not in a periodical paper, & there you tacked it without a word of explanation and be damned to you' ( Byron, Letters, vi. 126; vii. 58).
IN THE year 17--, having for some time determined on a journey through countries not hitherto much frequented by travellers, I set out, accompanied by a friend, whom I shall designate by the name of Augustus Darvell. He was a few years my elder, and a man of considerable fortune and ancient family--advantages which an extensive capacity prevented him alike from undervaluing or overrating. Some peculiar circumstances in his private history had rendered him to me an object of attention, of interest, and even of regard, which neither the reserve of his manners, nor occasional indications of an inquietude at times nearly approaching to alienation of mind, could extinguish.
I was yet young in life, which I had begun early; but my intimacy with him was of a recent date: we had been educated at the same schools and university; but his progress through