Part 10 out of 13
are pretty, but not in costume;--Mrs. Horn's, all but the turban, and
the want of a small dagger (if she is a sultana), _perfect_. I never saw
a Turkish woman with a turban in my life--nor did any one else. The
sultanas have a small poniard at the waist. The dialogue is drowsy--the
action heavy--the scenery fine--the actors tolerable. I can't say much
for their seraglio--Teresa, Phannio, or----, were worth them all.
Sunday, a very handsome note from Mackintosh, who is a rare instance of
the union of very transcendent talent and great good nature. To-day
(Tuesday) a very pretty billet from M. la Baronne de Stael Holstein. 
She is pleased to be much pleased with my mention of her and her last
work in my notes. I spoke as I thought. Her works are my delight, and so
is she herself, for--half an hour. I don't like her politics--at least,
her _having changed_ them; had she been _qualis ab incepto_, it were
nothing. But she is a woman by herself, and has done more than all the
rest of them together, intellectually;--she ought to have been a man.
She _flatters_ me very prettily in her note;--but I _know_ it. The
reason that adulation is not displeasing is, that, though untrue, it
shows one to be of consequence enough, in one way or other, to induce
people to lie, to make us their friend:--that is their concern.
----is, I hear, thriving on the repute of a _pun_ which was _mine_ (at
Mackintosh's dinner some time back), on Ward, who was asking, "how much
it would take to _re-whig_ him?" I answered that, probably, "he must
first, before he was _re-whigged_, be re-_warded_."  This foolish
quibble, before the Stael and Mackintosh, and a number of
conversationers, has been mouthed about, and at last settled on the head
of----, where long may it remain!
George  is returned from afloat to get a new ship. He looks thin, but
better than I expected. I like George much more than most people like
their heirs. He is a fine fellow, and every inch a sailor. I would do
any thing, _but apostatise_, to get him on in his profession.
Lewis called. It is a good and good-humoured man, but pestilently prolix
and paradoxical and _personal_ . If he would but talk half, and
reduce his visits to an hour, he would add to his popularity. As an
author he is very good, and his vanity is _ouverte_, like Erskine's, and
yet not offending.
Yesterday, a very pretty letter from Annabella , which I answered.
What an odd situation and friendship is ours!--without one spark of love
on either side, and produced by circumstances which in general lead to
coldness on one side, and aversion on the other. She is a very superior
woman, and very little spoiled, which is strange in an heiress--a girl
of twenty--a peeress that is to be, in her own right--an only child, and
a _savante_, who has always had her own way. She is a poetess--a
mathematician--a metaphysician, and yet, withal, very kind, generous,
and gentle, with very little pretension. Any other head would be turned
with half her acquisitions, and a tenth of her advantages.
[Footnote 1: Sir Samuel Romilly (1757-1818), Solicitor-General (1806-7),
distinguished himself in Parliament by his consistent advocacy of
Catholic Emancipation, the abolition of the slave-trade, Parliamentary
reform, and the mitigation of the harshness of the criminal law. Writing
of Romilly's 'Observations on the Criminal Law of England' (1810), Sir
James Mackintosh says,
"It does the very highest honour to his moral character, which, I
think, stands higher than that of any other conspicuous Englishman now
alive. Probity, independence, humanity, and liberality breathe through
every word; considered merely as a composition, accuracy, perspicuity,
discretion, and good taste are its chief merits; great originality and
comprehension of thought, or remarkable vigour of expression, it does
The death of his wife, October 29, 1818, so affected Romilly's mind that
he committed suicide four days later.
"Romilly," said Lord Lansdowne to Moore ('Memoirs, etc'., vol. ii. p.
211), "was a stern, reserved sort of man, and she was the only person
in the world to whom he wholly unbent and unbosomed himself; when he
lost her, therefore, the very vent of his heart was stopped up."]
[Footnote 2: Sir Samuel Bentham (1757-1831), naval architect and
engineer, like his brother Jeremy, was a strong reformer. He was a
Knight of the Russian Order of St. George, and, like Sir Samuel Egerton
Brydges, who was a Knight of the Swedish Order of St. Joachim before he
was created a baronet (1814), assumed the title in England.]
[Footnote 3: Francis Horner (1778-1817), called to the Scottish Bar in
1800, and to the English Bar in 1807, was one of the founders of the
'Edinburgh Review', and acted as second to Jeffrey in his duel with
Moore. In the House of Commons (M.P. for St. Ives, 1806-7; Wendover,
1807-12; St. Mawes, 1812-17) he was one of the most impressive speakers
of the day, especially on financial questions. When Lord Morpeth moved
(March 3, 1817) for a new writ for the borough of St. Mawes, striking
tributes were paid to his character from both sides of the House
('Memoirs and Correspondence of Francis Horner', vol. ii. pp. 416-426),
and further proof was given of public esteem by the statue erected to
his memory in Westminster Abbey. The speeches delivered in the Lower
House on March 3, 1817, were translated by Ugo Foscolo, and published
with a dedication 'al nobile giovinetto, Enrico Fox, figlio di Lord
[Footnote 4: George Philips, only son of Thomas Philips of Sedgley,
Lancashire (born March 24, 1766), was created a baronet in February,
1828. He sat for South Warwickshire in the first reformed House of
[Footnote 5: In a note to 'The Bride of Abydos' (Canto I. st. vi.),
Byron had written,
"For an eloquent passage in the latest work of the first female writer
of this, perhaps of any, age, on the analogy (and the immediate
comparison excited by that analogy) between 'painting and music,' see
vol. iii. cap. 10, 'De l'Allemagne'."
The passage is as follows (Part III. chap, x.):
"Sans cesse nous comparons la peinture à la musique, et la musique à
la peinture, parceque les émotions que nous eprouvons nous révèlent
des analogies où l'observation froide ne verroit que des différences,"
The following is Madame de Staël's "very pretty billet:"
"Argyll St., No. 31.
"Je ne saurais vous exprímer, my lord, à quel point je me trouve
honorée d'être dans une note de votre poëme, et de quel poëme! il me
semble que pour la première fois je me crois certaine d'un nom
d'avenir et que vous avez disposé pour moi de cet empire de reputation
qui vous sera tous les jours plus soumis. Je voudrais vous parler de
ce poëme que tout le monde admire, mais j'avouerai que je suis trop
suspecte en le louant, et je ne cache pas qu' une louage de vous m'a
fait épreuver un sentiment de fierté et de réconaissance qui me
rendrait incapable de vous juger; mais heureusement vous êtes au
dessus du jugement.
"Donnez moi quelquefois le plaisir de vous voir; il-y-a un proverbe
français qui dit qu'un bonheur ne va jamais sans d'autre.
"Byron," writes Sir Walter Scott, in a hitherto unpublished note,
"occasionally said what are called good things, but never studied for
them. They came naturally and easily, and mixed with the comic or
serious, as it happened. A professed wit is of all earthly companions
the most intolerable. He is like a schoolboy with his pockets stuffed
"No first-rate author was ever what is understood by a 'great
conversational wit'. Swift's wit in common society was either the
strong sense of a wonderful man unconsciously exerting his powers, or
that of the same being wilfully unbending, wilfully, in fact,
degrading himself. Who ever heard of any fame for conversational wit
lingering over the memory of a Shakespeare, a Milton, even of a Dryden
or a Pope?
"Johnson is, perhaps, a solitary exception. More shame to him. He was
the most indolent great man that ever lived, and threw away in his
talk more than he ever took pains to embalm in his writings.
"It is true that Boswell has in great measure counteracted all this.
But here is no defence. Few great men can expect to have a Boswell,
and none 'ought' to wish to have one, far less to trust to having one.
A man should not keep fine clothes locked up in his chest only that
his valet may occasionally show off in them; no, nor yet strut about
in them in his chamber, only that his valet may puff him and his
"What might not he have done, who wrote 'Rasselas' in the evenings of
eight days to get money enough for his mother's funeral expenses? As
it is, what has Johnson done? Is it nothing to be the first intellect
of 'an age'? and who seriously talks even of Burke as having been more
than a clever boy in the presence of old Samuel?"]
[Footnote 7: George Anson Byron, R. N., afterwards Lord Byron.]
[Footnote 8: Scott has this additional note on Lewis:
"Nothing was more tiresome than Lewis when he began to harp upon any
extravagant proposition. He would tinker at it for hours without
mercy, and repeat the same thing in four hundred different ways. If
you assented in despair, he resumed his reasoning in triumph, and you
had only for your pains the disgrace of giving in. If you disputed,
daylight and candle-light could not bring the discussion to an end,
and Mat's arguments were always 'ditto repeated'."]
[Footnote 9: Miss Milbanke, afterwards Lady Byron.]
* * * * *
Wednesday, December 1, 1813.
To-day responded to La Baronne de Stael Holstein, and sent to Leigh Hunt
(an acquisition to my acquaintance--through Moore--of last summer) a
copy of the two Turkish tales. Hunt is an extraordinary character, and
not exactly of the present age. He reminds me more of the Pym and
Hampden times--much talent, great independence of spirit, and an
austere, yet not repulsive, aspect. If he goes on _qualis ab incepto_, I
know few men who will deserve more praise or obtain it. I must go and
see him again;--the rapid succession of adventure, since last summer,
added to some serious uneasiness and business, have interrupted our
acquaintance; but he is a man worth knowing; and though, for his own
sake, I wish him out of prison, I like to study character in such
situations. He has been unshaken, and will continue so. I don't think
him deeply versed in life;--he is the bigot of virtue (not religion),
and enamoured of the beauty of that "empty name," as the last breath of
Brutus pronounced , and every day proves it. He is, perhaps, a little
opinionated, as all men who are the _centre_ of _circles_, wide or
narrow--the Sir Oracles, in whose name two or three are gathered
together--must be, and as even Johnson was; but, withal, a valuable man,
and less vain than success and even the consciousness of preferring "the
right to the expedient" might excuse.
To-morrow there is a party of _purple_ at the "blue" Miss Berry's. Shall
I go? um!--I don't much affect your blue-bottles;--but one ought to be
civil. There will be, "I guess now" (as the Americans say), the Staels
and Mackintoshes--good--the----s and----s--not so good--the----s,
etc., etc.--good for nothing. Perhaps that blue-winged Kashmirian
butterfly of book-learning , Lady Charlemont, will be there. I hope
so; it is a pleasure to look upon that most beautiful of faces.
Wrote to H.:--he has been telling that I------ I am sure, at least,
_I_ did not mention it, and I wish he had not. He is a good fellow, and
I obliged myself ten times more by being of use than I did him,--and
there's an end on't.
Baldwin  is boring me to present their King's Bench petition. I
presented Cartwright's last year; and Stanhope and I stood against the
whole House, and mouthed it valiantly--and had some fun and a little
abuse for our opposition. But "I am not i' th' vein"  for this
business. Now, had----been here, she would have _made_ me do it.
_There_ is a woman, who, amid all her fascination, always urged a man to
usefulness or glory. Had she remained, she had been my tutelar genius.
Baldwin is very importunate--but, poor fellow, "I can't get out, I can't
get out--said the starling."  Ah, I am as bad as that dog Sterne, who
preferred whining over "a dead ass to relieving a living mother"
--villain--hypocrite--slave--sycophant! but _I_ am no better. Here I
cannot stimulate myself to a speech for the sake of these unfortunates,
and three words and half a smile of----had she been here to urge it
(and urge it she infallibly would--at least she always pressed me on
senatorial duties, and particularly in the cause of weakness) would have
made me an advocate, if not an orator. Curse on Rochefoucault for being
always right! In him a lie were virtue,--or, at least, a comfort to his
George Byron has not called to-day; I hope he will be an admiral, and,
perhaps, Lord Byron into the bargain. If he would but marry, I would
engage never to marry myself, or cut him out of the heirship. He would
be happier, and I should like nephews better than sons.
I shall soon be six-and-twenty (January 22d., 1814). Is there any thing
in the future that can possibly console us for not being always
Oh Primavera! gioventu dell' anno.
Oh Gioventu! primavera della vita."
For Brutus only overcame himself,
And no man else hath honour by his death.
* * * * *
According to his virtue let us use him,
With all respect and rites of burial."
'Julius Cæsar', act v. sc. 5.]
[Footnote 2: In 'The Giaour' (lines 388-392) occurs the following
"As rising on its purple wing
The insect-queen of Eastern spring
O'er emerald meadows of Kashmeer
Invites the young pursuer near," etc.
To line 389 is appended this note:
"The blue-winged butterfly of Kashmeer, the most rare and beautiful of
[Footnote 3: See letter [Letter 365] to Francis Hodgson, p. 294.]
[Footnote 4: The letters which W.J. Baldwin, a debtor in the King's
Bench prison, wrote to Byron are preserved. Byron seems to have refused
to present the petition from diffidence, but he interested himself in
the subject, and probably induced Lord Holland to take up the question.
(See p. 318, 'note' 2 [Footnote 6 of the initial journal entry which
forms the beginning of Chapter VIII.]) In the list of abuses enumerated
by Baldwin is mentioned a "strong room," in which prisoners were
confined, without fires or glass to the windows, in the depth of winter.]
[Footnote 5: 'Richard III'., act iv, sc. 2.]
[Footnote 6: 'Sentimental Journey' (ed. 1819), vol. ii. p. 379.]
[Footnote 7: 'Ibid.', vol. ii. p. 337.]
* * * * *
Sunday, December 5.
Dallas's nephew (son to the American Attorney-general) is arrived in
this country, and tells Dallas that my rhymes are very popular in the
United States. These are the first tidings that have ever sounded like
_Fame_ to my ears--to be redde on the banks of the Ohio! The greatest
pleasure I ever derived, of this kind was from an extract, in Cooke the
actor's life, from his journal , stating that in the reading-room at
Albany, near Washington, he perused _English Bards, and Scotch
Reviewers_. To be popular in a rising and far country has a kind of
_posthumous feel_, very different from the ephemeral _éclat_ and
fête-ing, buzzing and party-ing compliments of the well-dressed
multitude. I can safely say that, during my _reign_ in the spring of
1812, I regretted nothing but its duration of six weeks instead of a
fortnight, and was heartily glad to resign.
Last night I supped with Lewis; and, as usual, though I neither exceeded
in solids nor fluids, have been half dead ever since. My stomach is
entirely destroyed by long abstinence, and the rest will probably
follow. Let it--I only wish the _pain_ over. The "leap in the dark" is
the least to be dreaded.
The Duke of----called. I have told them forty times that, except to
half-a-dozen old and specified acquaintances, I am invisible. His Grace
is a good, noble, ducal person; but I am content to think so at a
distance, and so--I was not at home.
Galt called.--Mem.--to ask some one to speak to Raymond in favour of his
play. We are old fellow-travellers, and, with all his eccentricities, he
has much strong sense, experience of the world, and is, as far as I have
seen, a good-natured philosophical fellow. I showed him Sligo's letter
on the reports of the Turkish girl's _aventure_ at Athens soon after it
happened. He and Lord Holland, Lewis, and Moore, and Rogers, and Lady
Melbourne have seen it. Murray has a copy. I thought it had been
_unknown_, and wish it were; but Sligo arrived only some days after, and
the _rumours_ are the subject of his letter. That I shall preserve,--_it
is as well_. Lewis and Gait were both _horrified_; and L. wondered I did
not introduce the situation into _The Giaour_. He _may_ wonder;--he
might wonder more at that production's being written at all. But to
describe the _feelings_ of _that situation_ were impossible--it is _icy_
even to recollect them.
The _Bride of Abydos_ was published on Thursday the second of December;
but how it is liked or disliked, I know not. Whether it succeeds or not
is no fault of the public, against whom I can have no complaint. But I
am much more indebted to the tale than I can ever be to the most partial
reader; as it wrung my thoughts from reality to imagination--from
selfish regrets to vivid recollections--and recalled me to a country
replete with the _brightest_ and _darkest_, but always most _lively_
colours of my memory. Sharpe called, but was not let in, which I regret.
Saw [Rogers] yesterday. I have not kept my appointment at Middleton,
which has not pleased him, perhaps; and my projected voyage with [Ward]
will, perhaps, please him less. But I wish to keep well with both. They
are instruments that don't do in concert; but, surely, their separate
tones are very musical, and I won't give up either.
It is well if I don't jar between these great discords. At present I
stand tolerably well with all, but I cannot adopt their _dislikes_;--so
many _sets_. Holland's is the first;--every thing _distingué_ is welcome
there, and certainly the _ton_ of his society is the best. Then there is
Madame de Stael's--there I never go, though I might, had I courted it.
It is composed of the----s and the----family, with a strange
sprinkling,--orators, dandies, and all kinds of _Blue_, from the regular
Grub Street uniform, down to the azure jacket of the _Littérateur_ ?
To see----and----sitting together, at dinner, always reminds me of
the grave, where all distinctions of friend and foe are levelled; and
they--the Reviewer and the Reviewée--the Rhinoceros and Elephant--the
Mammoth and Megalonyx--all will lie quietly together. They now _sit_
together, as silent, but not so quiet, as if they were already immured.
I did not go to the Berrys' the other night. The elder is a woman of
much talent, and both are handsome, and must have been beautiful.
To-night asked to Lord H.'s--shall I go? um!--perhaps.
Morning, two o'clock.
Went to Lord H.'s--party numerous--_mi_lady in perfect good humour, and
consequently _perfect_. No one more agreeable, or perhaps so much so,
when she will. Asked for Wednesday to dine and meet the Stael--asked
particularly, I believe, out of mischief to see the first interview
after the _note_, with which Corinne professes herself to be so much
taken. I don't much like it; she always talks of _my_self or _her_self,
and I am not (except in soliloquy, as now,) much enamoured of either
subject--especially one's works. What the devil shall I say about _De
l'Allemagne_? I like it prodigiously; but unless I can twist my
admiration into some fantastical expression, she won't believe me; and I
know, by experience, I shall be overwhelmed with fine things about
rhyme, etc., etc. The lover, Mr.----[Rocca], was there to-night, and
C----said "it was the only proof _he_ had seen of her good taste."
Monsieur L'Amant is remarkably handsome; but _I_ don't think more so
than her book.
C----[Campbell] looks well,--seems pleased, and dressed to _sprucery_.
A blue coat becomes him,--so does his new wig. He really looked as if
Apollo had sent him a birthday suit, or a wedding-garment, and was witty
and lively. He abused Corinne's book, which I regret; because, firstly,
he understands German, and is consequently a fair judge; and, secondly,
he is _first-rate_, and, consequently, the best of judges. I reverence
and admire him; but I won't give up my opinion--why should I? I read
_her_ again and again, and there can be no affectation in this. I cannot
be mistaken (except in taste) in a book I read and lay down, and take up
again; and no book can be totally bad which finds _one_, even _one_
reader, who can say as much sincerely.
Campbell talks of lecturing next spring; his last lectures were
eminently successful. Moore thought of it, but gave it up,--I don't know
why.----had been prating _dignity_ to him, and such stuff; as if a man
disgraced himself by instructing and pleasing at the same time.
Introduced to Marquis Buckingham--saw Lord Gower --he is going to
Holland; Sir J. and Lady Mackintosh and Horner, G. Lamb , with I know
not how many (Richard Wellesley, one--a clever man), grouped about the
room. Little Henry Fox, a very fine boy, and very promising in mind and
manner,--he went away to bed, before I had time to talk to him. I am
sure I had rather hear him than all the _savans_.
[Footnote 1: In Dunlap's 'Memoirs of George Frederick Cooke' (vol. ii.
p. 313), the following passage is quoted from the actor's journal:
"Read 'English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers', by Lord Byron. It is well
written. His Lordship is rather severe, perhaps justly so, on Walter
Scott, and most assuredly justly severe upon Monk Lewis."]
[Footnote 2: In Byron's 'Detached Thoughts' (1821) occurs this passage:
"In general I do not draw well with literary men. Not that I dislike
them, but I never know what to say to them after I have praised their
last publication. There are several exceptions, to be sure; but then
they have always been men of the world, such as Scott and Moore, etc.,
or visionaries out of it, such as Shelley, etc. But your literary
every-day man and I never went well in company, especially your
foreigner, whom I never could abide,--except Giordani, and--and--and
(I really can't name any other); I do not remember a man amongst them
whom I ever wished to see twice, except, perhaps, Mezzophanti, who is
a Monster of Languages, the Briareus of parts of speech, a walking
Polyglott, and more--who ought to have existed at the time of the
Tower of Babel as universal Interpreter. He is, indeed, a Marvel,
--unassuming also. I tried him in all the tongues of which I have a
single oath (or adjuration to the Gods against Postboys, Savages,
Tartars, boatmen, sailors, pilots, Gondoliers, Muleteers,
Cameldrivers, Vetturini, Postmasters, post-horses, post-houses,
post-everything) and Egad! he astounded me even to my English."
On this passage Sir Walter Scott makes the following note:
"I suspect Lord Byron of some self-deceit as to this matter. It
appears that he liked extremely the only 'first-rate' men of letters
into whose society he happened to be thrown in England. They happened
to be men of the world, it is true; but how few men of very great
eminence in literature, how few intellectually Lord B.'s peers, have
'not' been men of the world? Does any one doubt that the topics he had
most pleasure in discussing with Scott or Moore were literary ones, or
had at least some relation to literature?
"As for the foreign 'literati', pray what 'literati' anything like his
own rank did he encounter abroad? I have no doubt he would have been
as much at home with an Alfieri, a Schiller, or a Goethe, or a
Voltaire, as he was with Scott or Moore, and yet two of these were
very little of men of the world in the sense in which he uses that
"As to 'every-day men of letters,' pray who does like their company?
Would a clever man like a prosing 'captain, or colonel, or
knight-in-arms' the 'better' for happening to be himself the Duke of
[Footnote 3: George Granville Leveson Gower (1786-1861) succeeded his
father in 1833 as second Duke of Sutherland.]
[Footnote 4: George Lamb (1784-1834), the fourth son of the first Lord
Melbourne, married, in 1809, Caroline Rosalie St. Jules. As one of the
early contributors to the 'Edinburgh Review', he was attacked by Byron
in 'English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers', lines 57 and 516 (see 'Poems',
ed. 1898, vol. i. p. 301, 'note' I). A clever amateur actor, his comic
opera 'Whistle for It' was produced at Covent Garden, April 10, 1807,
and he was afterwards on the Drury Lane Committee of Management. His
translation of the 'Poems of Catullus' was published in 1821. In 1819,
as the representative of the official Whigs, he was elected for
Westminster against Hobhouse; but was defeated at the next election
* * * * *
Monday, Dec. 6.
Murray tells me that Croker asked him why the thing was called the
_Bride_ of Abydos? It is a cursed awkward question, being unanswerable.
_She_ is not a _bride_, only about to be one; but for, etc., etc., etc.
I don't wonder at his finding out the _Bull_; but the detection----is
too late to do any good. I was a great fool to make it, and am ashamed
of not being an Irishman.
Campbell last night seemed a little nettled at something or other--I
know not what. We were standing in the ante-saloon, when Lord H. brought
out of the other room a vessel of some composition similar to that which
is used in Catholic churches, and, seeing us, he exclaimed, "Here is
some _incense_ for you." Campbell answered--"Carry it to Lord Byron, _he
is used to it_."
Now, this comes of "bearing no brother near the throne." 
I, who have no throne, nor wish to have one _now_, whatever I may have
done, am at perfect peace with all the poetical fraternity; or, at
least, if I dislike any, it is not _poetically_, but _personally_.
Surely the field of thought is infinite; what does it signify who is
before or behind in a race where there is no _goal_? The temple of fame
is like that of the Persians, the universe; our altar, the tops of
mountains. I should be equally content with Mount Caucasus, or Mount
Anything; and those who like it, may have Mount Blanc or Chimborazo,
without my envy of their elevation.
I think I may _now_ speak thus; for I have just published a poem, and am
quite ignorant whether it is _likely_ to be _liked_ or not. I have
hitherto heard little in its commendation, and no one can _downright_
abuse it to one's face, except in print. It can't be good, or I should
not have stumbled over the threshold, and blundered in my very title.
But I began it with my heart full of----, and my head of
oriental_ities_ (I can't call them _isms_), and wrote on rapidly.
This journal is a relief. When I am tired--as I generally am--out comes
this, and down goes every thing. But I can't read it over; and God knows
what contradictions it may contain. If I am sincere with myself (but I
fear one lies more to one's self than to any one else), every page
should confute, refute, and utterly abjure its predecessor.
Another scribble from Martin Baldwin the petitioner; I have neither head
nor nerves to present it. That confounded supper at Lewis's has spoiled
my digestion and my philanthropy. I have no more charity than a cruet of
vinegar. Would I were an ostrich, and dieted on fire-irons,--or any
thing that my gizzard could get the better of.
To-day saw Ward. His uncle  is dying, and W. don't much affect our
Dutch determinations. I dine with him on Thursday, provided _l'oncle_ is
not dined upon, or peremptorily bespoke by the posthumous epicures
before that day. I wish he may recover--not for _our_ dinner's sake, but
to disappoint the undertaker, and the rascally reptiles that may well
wait, since they _will_ dine at last.
Gell called--he of Troy--after I was out. Mem.--to return his visit.
But my Mems. are the very landmarks of forgetfulness;--something like a
light-house, with a ship wrecked under the nose of its lantern. I never
look at a Mem. without seeing that I have remembered to forget. Mem.--I
have forgotten to pay Pitt's taxes, and suppose I shall be surcharged.
"An I do not turn rebel when thou art king "--oons! I believe my very
biscuit is leavened with that impostor's imposts.
Lady Melbourne returns from Jersey's to-morrow;--I must call. A Mr.
Thomson has sent a song, which I must applaud. I hate annoying them with
censure or silence;--and yet I hate _lettering_.
Saw Lord Glenbervie  and this Prospectus, at Murray's, of a new
Treatise on Timber. Now here is a man more useful than all the
historians and rhymers ever planted. For, by preserving our woods and
forests, he furnishes materials for all the history of Britain worth
reading, and all the odes worth nothing.
Redde a good deal, but desultorily. My head is crammed with the most
useless lumber. It is odd that when I do read, I can only bear the
chicken broth of--_any thing_ but Novels. It is many a year since I
looked into one, (though they are sometimes ordered, by way of
experiment, but never taken,) till I looked yesterday at the worst parts
of the _Monk_. These descriptions ought to have been written by Tiberius
at Caprea--they are forced--the _philtered_ ideas of a jaded voluptuary.
It is to me inconceivable how they could have been composed by a man of
only twenty--his age when he wrote them. They have no nature--all the
sour cream of cantharides. I should have suspected Buffon of writing
them on the death-bed of his detestable dotage. I had never redde this
edition, and merely looked at them from curiosity and recollection of
the noise they made, and the name they had left to Lewis. But they could
do no harm, except----.
Called this evening on my agent--my business as usual. Our strange
adventures are the only inheritances of our family that have not
I shall now smoke two cigars, and get me to bed. The cigars don't keep
well here. They get as old as a _donna di quaranti anni_ in the sun of
Africa. The Havannah are the best;--but neither are so pleasant as a
hooka or chiboque. The Turkish tobacco is mild, and their horses
entire--two things as they should be. I am so far obliged to this
Journal, that it preserves me from verse,--at least from keeping it. I
have just thrown a poem into the fire (which it has relighted to my
great comfort), and have smoked out of my head the plan of another. I
wish I could as easily get rid of thinking, or, at least, the confusion
[Footnote 1: Pope's 'Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot', line 197.]
[Footnote 2: William Bosville (1745-1813), called colonel, but really
only lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, was a noted 'bon vivant',
whose maxim for life was "Better never than late." He was famous for his
hospitality in Welbeck Street. A friend of Horne Tooke, he dined with
him at Wimbledon every Sunday in the spring and autumn. See 'Diversions
of Purley', ed. 1805, ii. 490:
"Your friend Bosville and I have entered into a strict engagement to
belong for ever to the established government, to the Established
Church, and to the established language of our country, because they
[Footnote 3: Sylvester Douglas (1743-1823), created in 1800 Baron
Glenbervie, married, in September, 1789, Catherine, eldest daughter of
Lord North, afterwards Earl of Guildford. He was educated at Leyden for
the medical profession, a circumstance to which Sheridan alludes in the
What's good for the scurvy?
For ne'er be your old trade forgot."
Gibbon writes of him, October 4, 1788 ('Letters', vol. ii. p. 180),
"He has been curious, attentive, agreeable; and in every place where
he has resided some days, he has left acquaintance who esteem and
regret him; I never knew so clear and general an impression."
Glenbervie was Surveyor-General of Woods and Forests, 1803-1806, and
again from 1807 to 1810. In that year he became First Commissioner of
Land Revenue and Woods and Forests, and held the appointment till
* * * * *
Tuesday, December 7.
Went to bed, and slept dreamlessly, but not refreshingly. Awoke, and up
an hour before being called; but dawdled three hours in dressing. When
one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation),--sleep, eating,
and swilling--buttoning and unbuttoning--how much remains of downright
existence? The summer of a dormouse.
Redde the papers and _tea_-ed and soda-watered, and found out that the
fire was badly lighted. Lord Glenbervie wants me to go to Brighton--um!
This morning, a very pretty billet from the Stael about meeting her at
Ld. H.'s to-morrow. She has written, I dare say, twenty such this
morning to different people, all equally flattering to each. So much the
better for her and those who believe all she wishes them, or they wish
to believe. She has been pleased to be pleased with my slight eulogy in
the note annexed to _The Bride_. This is to be accounted for in several
ways,--firstly, all women like all, or any, praise; secondly, this was
unexpected, because I have never courted her; and, thirdly, as Scrub 
says, those who have been all their lives regularly praised, by regular
critics, like a little variety, and are glad when any one goes out of
his way to say a civil thing; and, fourthly, she is a very good-natured
creature, which is the best reason, after all, and, perhaps, the only
A knock--knocks single and double. Bland called. He says Dutch society
(he has been in Holland) is second-hand French; but the women are like
women every where else. This is a bore: I should like to see them a
little _un_like; but that can't be expected.
Went out--came home--this, that, and the other--and "all is vanity,
saith the preacher," and so say I, as part of his congregation. Talking
of vanity, whose praise do I prefer? Why, Mrs. Inchbald's , and that
of the Americans. The first, because her _Simple Story_ and _Nature and
Art_ are, to me, _true_ to their _titles_; and, consequently, her short
note to Rogers about _The Giaour_ delighted me more than any thing,
except the _Edinburgh Review_. I like the Americans, because _I_
happened to be in _Asia_, while the _English Bards, and Scotch
Reviewers_ were redde in _America_. If I could have had a speech against
the _Slave Trade in Africa_, and an epitaph on a dog in _Europe_ (i.e.
in the _Morning Post_), my _vertex sublimis_  would certainly have
displaced stars enough to overthrow the Newtonian system.
[Footnote 1: The reference is only to the form of the sentence. "Scrub,"
in 'The Beaux' Stratagem' (act iv. se. 2), says,
"First, it must be a plot, because there's a woman in't; secondly, it
must be a plot, because there's a priest in't; thirdly, it must be a
plot, because there's French gold in't; and fourthly, it must be a
plot, because I don't know what to make on't."]
[Footnote 2: Elizabeth Simpson (1753-1821), daughter of a Suffolk
farmer, married (1772) Joseph Inchbald, actor and portrait-painter.
Actress, dramatist, and novelist, she was one of the most attractive
women of the day. Winning in manner, quick in repartee, an admirable
teller of stories, she always gathered all the men round her chair.
"It was vain," said Mrs. Shelley, "for any other woman to attempt to
Miss Edgeworth wished to see her first among living celebrities; her
charm fascinated Sheridan, and overcame the prejudice of Lamb; even
Peter Pindar wrote verse in her praise. From the age of eighteen she was
wooed on and off the stage, where her slight stammer hindered her
complete success; but no breath of scandal tarnished her name. Had John
Kemble, the hero of 'A Simple Story', proposed to her, she probably
would have married him. Mrs. Butler records that her uncle John once
asked the actress, when matrimony was the subject of green-room
conversation, "Well, Mrs. Inchbald, would you have had me?" "Dear
heart," said the stammering beauty, turning her sunny face up at him,"
I'd have j-j-j-jumped at you." Mrs. Inchbald's 'Simple Story' (1791)
wears a more modern air than any previously written novel. Her dramatic
experience stood her in good stead. "Dorriforth," the priest, educated,
like Kemble, at Douay, impressed himself upon Macaulay's mind as the
true type of the Roman Catholic peer. 'Nature and Art' (1796) was
written when Mrs. Inchbald was most under the influence of the French
Revolution. Of two boys who come to London to seek their fortunes,
Nature makes one a musician, and Art raises the other into a dean. The
trial and condemnation of "Agnes" perhaps suggested to Lytton the scene
in 'Paul Clifford', where "Brandon" condemns his own son.]
[Footnote 3: Horace, 'Odes', I. i. 36.]
* * * * *
Friday, December 10, 1813.
I am _ennuyé_ beyond my usual tense of that yawning verb, which I am
always conjugating; and I don't find that society much mends the matter.
I am too lazy to shoot myself--and it would annoy Augusta, and perhaps
----; but it would be a good thing for George, on the other side, and no
bad one for me; but I won't be tempted.
I have had the kindest letter from Moore. I _do_ think that man is the
best-hearted, the only _hearted_ being I ever encountered; and, then,
his talents are equal to his feelings.
Dined on Wednesday at Lord H.'s--the Staffords, Staels, Cowpers,
Ossulstones, Melbournes, Mackintoshes, etc., etc.--and was introduced to
the Marquis and Marchioness of Stafford ,--an unexpected event. My
quarrel with Lord Carlisle (their or his brother-in-law) having rendered
it improper, I suppose, brought it about. But, if it was to happen at
all, I wonder it did not occur before. She is handsome, and must have
been beautiful--and her manners are _princessly_.
The Stael was at the other end of the table, and less loquacious than
heretofore. We are now very good friends; though she asked Lady
Melbourne whether I had really any _bonhommie_. She might as well have
asked that question before she told C. L. "_c'est un demon_." True
enough, but rather premature, for _she_ could not have found it out, and
so--she wants me to dine there next Sunday.
Murray prospers, as far as circulation. For my part, I adhere (in
liking) to my Fragment. It is no wonder that I wrote one--my mind is a
Saw Lord Gower, Tierney , etc., in the square. Took leave of Lord
Gower, who is going to Holland and Germany. He tells me that he carries
with him a parcel of _Harolds_ and _Giaours_, etc., for the readers of
Berlin, who, it seems, read English, and have taken a caprice for mine.
Um!--have I been _German_ all this time, when I thought myself
Lent Tierney my box for to-morrow; and received a new comedy sent by
Lady C. A.--but _not hers_. I must read it, and endeavour not to
displease the author. I hate annoying them with cavil; but a comedy I
take to be the most difficult of compositions, more so than tragedy.
Galt says there is a coincidence between the first part of _The Bride_
and some story of his--whether published or not, I know not, never
having seen it. He is almost the last person on whom any one would
commit literary larceny, and I am not conscious of any _witting_ thefts
on any of the genus. As to originality, all pretensions are
ludicrous,--"there is nothing new under the sun." 
Went last night to the play. Invited out to a party, but did not
go;--right. Refused to go to Lady----'s on Monday;--right again. If I
must fritter away my life, I would rather do it alone. I was much
tempted;--C----looked so Turkish with her red turban, and her regular,
dark, and clear features. Not that _she_ and _I_ ever were, or could be,
any thing; but I love any aspect that reminds me of the "children of the
To dine to-day with Rogers and Sharpe, for which I have some appetite,
not having tasted food for the preceding forty-eight hours. I wish I
could leave off eating altogether.
[Footnote 1: George Granville Leveson Gower (1758-1833) succeeded his
father, in 1803, as second Marquis of Stafford. He married, in 1785,
Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, and was created, in 1833, first Duke
of Sutherland. Lord Carlisle had married, in 1770 Margaret Caroline,
sister of the second Marquis of Stafford.]
[Footnote 2: George Tierney (1761-1830) entered Parliament as Member for
Colchester in 1789. In 1796 he was returned for Southwark. A useful
speaker and political writer, he was Treasurer of the Navy in the
Addington administration, and President of the Board of Control in that
of "All the Talents." His drafting of the petition of the "Society of
the Friends of the People," his duel with Pitt in 1798, and his
leadership of the Opposition after 1817, are almost forgotten; but he is
remembered as the "Friend of Humanity" in 'The Needy Knife-Grinder'.]
[Footnote 3: 'Eccles'. i. 9.]
* * * * *
Saturday, December 11.
* * * * *
Sunday, December 12.
By Galt's answer, I find it is some story in _real life_, and not any
work with which my late composition coincides. It is still more
singular, for mine is drawn from _existence_ also.
I have sent an excuse to Madame de Stael. I do not feel sociable enough
for dinner to-day;--and I will not go to Sheridan's on Wednesday. Not
that I do not admire and prefer his unequalled conversation; but--that
"_but_" must only be intelligible to thoughts I cannot write. Sheridan
was in good talk at Rogers's the other night, but I only stayed till
_nine_. All the world are to be at the Stael's to-night, and I am not
sorry to escape any part of it. I only go out to get me a fresh appetite
for being alone. Went out--did not go to the Stael's but to Ld.
Holland's. Party numerous--conversation general. Stayed late--made a
blunder--got over it--came home and went to bed, not having eaten.
Rather empty, but _fresco_, which is the great point with me.
* * * * *
Monday, December 13, 1813.
Called at three places--read, and got ready to leave town to-morrow.
Murray has had a letter from his brother bibliopole of Edinburgh, who
says, "he is lucky in having such a _poet_"--something as if one was a
packhorse, or "ass, or any thing that is his;" or, like Mrs. Packwood,
 who replied to some inquiry after the Odes on Razors,--"Laws, sir,
we keeps a poet." The same illustrious Edinburgh bookseller once sent an
order for books, poesy, and cookery, with this agreeable
postscript--"The _Harold and Cookery_  are much wanted." Such is
fame, and, after all, quite as good as any other "life in others'
breath." 'Tis much the same to divide purchasers with Hannah Glasse or
Some editor of some magazine has _announced_ to Murray his intention of
abusing the thing "_without reading it_." So much the better; if he
redde it first, he would abuse it more.
Allen  (Lord Holland's Allen--the best informed and one of the ablest
men I know--a perfect Magliabecchi --a devourer, a _Helluo_ of books,
and an observer of men,) has lent me a quantity of Burns's 
unpublished and never-to-be-published Letters. They are full of oaths
and obscene songs. What an antithetical mind!--tenderness,
roughness--delicacy, coarseness--sentiment, sensuality--soaring and
grovelling, dirt and deity--all mixed up in that one compound of
It seems strange; 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.
[Footnote 1: Mrs. Packwood is the wife of George Packwood, "the
celebrated Razor Strop Maker and Author of 'The Goldfinch's Nest',"
whose shop was at 16, Gracechurch Street. 'Packwood's Whim; The
Goldfinch's Nest, or the Way to get Money and be Happy', by George
Packwood, was published in 1796, and reached a second edition in 1807.
It is a collection of his advertisements in prose and verse. The poet,
whom Packwood kept, apparently lived in Soho (p. 21), from his verses
which appeared in the 'True Briton' for November 9, 1795:
"If you wish, Sir, to Shave--nay, pray look not grave,
Since nothing on earth can be worse,
To P--d repair, you're shaved to a hair,
Which I mean to exhibit in verse.
"When in moving the beard--I wish to be heard--
The dull razor occasions a curse,
The strop that I view will its merits renew;
Behold I record it in verse.
"Some in fashion's tontine disperse all their spleen,
And others their destinies curse;
But P--d's fine taste, with his Strops and his Paste,
Which I'll show you in Prose and in Verse.
"I have taken this plan to comment on a man,
Whose merit I'm proud to rehearse;
For a razor and knife he will sharpen for life,
And deserves every praise in my verse.
"Soho, Nov. 6, 1795."]
[Footnote 2: 'The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy', "By a Lady," was
published anonymously in 1747. The 4th edition (1751) bears the name of
H. Glasse. The book was at one time supposed to be the work of Dr. John
Hill (1716-1775), and to contain the proverb, "First catch your hare,
then cook it." But Hill's claim is untenable, and the proverb is not in
Mrs. Rundell's 'Domestic Cookery' was one of Murray's most successful
publications. In Byron's lines, "To Mr. Murray" (March 25, 1818), occurs
the following passage:
"Along thy sprucest bookshelves shine
The works thou deemest most divine--
The 'Art of Cookery,' and mine,
[Footnote 3: John Allen, M.D. (1771-1843), accompanied Lord Holland to
Spain (1801-5 and 1808-9), and lived with him at Holland House. His
'Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England',
his numerous articles in the 'Edinburgh Review', and his life of Fox in
the 'Encyclopedia Britannica', and many other works, justify Byron's
praise. In the social life of Holland House he was a prominent figure,
and to it, perhaps, he sacrificed his literary powers and acquirements.
He was Warden of Dulwich College (1811-20), and Master (1820-43). Allen
was the author of the article in the 'Edinburgh Review' on Payne
Knight's 'Taste', in which he severely criticized Pindar's Greek, and
which Byron, probably trusting to Hodgson (see 'Letters', vol. i. p.
196, 'note' 1), or possibly misled by similarity of sound (H. Crabb
Robinson's 'Diary', vol. i. p. 277), attributed to "classic Hallam, much
renowned for Greek" ('English Bards, etc.', line 513).]
[Footnote 4: Antonio Magliabecchi (1633-1714) was appointed, in 1673,
Librarian to the Grand-Duke of Tuscany, to whom he bequeathed his
immense collection of 30,000 volumes. In Burton's 'Book-hunter' (p. 229)
it is said that Magliabecchi
"could direct you to any book in any part of the world, with the
precision with which the metropolitan policeman directs you to St.
Paul's or Piccadilly. It is of him that the stories are told of
answers to inquiries after books, in these terms: 'There is but one
copy of that book in the world. It is in the Grand Seignior's library
at Constantinople, and is the seventh book in the second shelf on the
right hand as you go in.'"]
[Footnote 5: Byron himself was "likened to Burns," and Sir Walter Scott,
commenting on the comparison in a manuscript note, says,
"Burns, in depth of poetical feeling, in strong shrewd sense to
balance and regulate this, in the 'tact' to make his poetry tell by
connecting it with the stream of public thought and the sentiment of
the age, in 'commanded' wildness of fancy and profligacy or
recklessness as to moral and 'occasionally' as to religious matters,
was much more like Lord Byron than any other person to whom Lord B.
says he had been compared.
"A gross blunder of the English public has been talking of Burns as if
the character of his poetry ought to be estimated with an eternal
recollection that he was a 'peasant'. It would be just as proper to
say that Lord Byron ought always to be thought of as a 'Peer'. Rank in
life was nothing to either in his true moments. Then, they were both
great Poets. Some silly and sickly affectations connected with the
accidents of birth and breeding may be observed in both, when they are
not under the influence of 'the happier star.' Witness Burns's prate
about independence, when he was an exciseman, and Byron's ridiculous
pretence of Republicanism, when he never wrote sincerely about the
Multitude without expressing or insinuating the very soul of scorn."]
* * * * *
December 14, 15, 16.
Much done, but nothing to record. It is quite enough to set down my
thoughts,--my actions will rarely bear retrospection.
* * * * *
December 17, 18.
Lord Holland told me a curious piece of sentimentality in Sheridan. The
other night we were all delivering our respective and various opinions
on him and other _hommes marquans_, and mine was this:--"Whatever
Sheridan has done or chosen to do has been, _par excellence_, always the
_best_ of its kind. He has written the _best_ comedy (_School for
Scandal_), the _best_ drama (in my mind, far before that St. Giles's
lampoon, the _Beggar's Opera_), the best farce (the _Critic_--it is only
too good for a farce), and the best Address (Monologue on Garrick), and,
to crown all, delivered the very best Oration (the famous Begum Speech)
ever conceived or heard in this country." Somebody told S. this the next
day, and on hearing it he burst into tears!
Poor Brinsley! if they were tears of pleasure, I would rather have said
these few, but most sincere, words than have written the Iliad or made
his own celebrated Philippic. Nay, his own comedy never gratified me
more than to hear that he had derived a moment's gratification from any
praise of mine, humble as it must appear to "my elders and my betters."
Went to my box at Covent Garden to-night; and my delicacy felt a little
shocked at seeing S----'s mistress (who, to my certain knowledge, was
actually educated, from her birth, for her profession) sitting with her
mother, "a three-piled b----d, b----d Major to the army," in a private
box opposite. I felt rather indignant; but, casting my eyes round the
house, in the next box to me, and the next, and the next, were the most
distinguished old and young Babylonians of quality;--so I burst out a
laughing. It was really odd; Lady----_divorced_--Lady----and her
daughter, Lady----, both _divorceable_--Mrs.----, in the next the
_like_, and still nearer------!  What an assemblage to _me_, who
know all their histories. It was as if the house had been divided
between your public and your _understood_ courtesans;--but the
intriguantes much outnumbered the regular mercenaries. On the other side
were only Pauline and _her_ mother, and, next box to her, three of
inferior note. Now, where lay the difference between _her_ and _mamma_,
and Lady----and daughter? except that the two last may enter Carleton
and any _other house_, and the two first are limited to the opera and
b----house. How I do delight in observing life as it really is!--and
myself, after all, the worst of any. But no matter--I must avoid
egotism, which, just now, would be no vanity.
I have lately written a wild, rambling, unfinished rhapsody, called
"_The Devil's Drive_" the notion of which I took from Person's "_Devil's
Redde some Italian, and wrote two Sonnets on----. I never wrote but one
sonnet before, and that was not in earnest, and many years ago, as an
exercise--and I will never write another. They are the most puling,
petrifying, stupidly platonic compositions. I detest the Petrarch so
much, that I would not be the man even to have obtained his Laura, which
the metaphysical, whining dotard never could.
[Footnote 1: "These names are all left blank in the original" (Moore).]
[Footnote 2: Richard Person did not write 'The Devil's Walk', which was
written by Coleridge and Southey, and published in the 'Morning Post'
for September 6, 1799, under the title of 'The Devil's Thoughts'.]
* * * * *
January 16, 1814.
To-morrow I leave town for a few days. I saw Lewis to-day, who is just
returned from Oatlands, where he has been squabbling with Mad. de Stael
about himself, Clarissa Harlowe, Mackintosh, and me. My homage has never
been paid in that quarter, or we would have agreed still worse. I don't
talk--I can't flatter, and won't listen, except to a pretty or a foolish
woman. She bored Lewis with praises of himself till he sickened--found
out that Clarissa was perfection, and Mackintosh the first man in
England. There I agree, at least _one_ of the first--but Lewis did not.
As to Clarissa, I leave to those who can read it to judge and dispute. I
could not do the one, and am, consequently, not qualified for the other.
She told Lewis wisely, he being my friend, that I was affected, in the
first place; and that, in the next place, I committed the heinous
offence of sitting at dinner with my _eyes_ shut, or half shut. I wonder
if I really have this trick. I must cure myself of it, if true. One
insensibly acquires awkward habits, which should be broken in time. If
this is one, I wish I had been told of it before. It would not so much
signify if one was always to be checkmated by a plain woman, but one may
as well see some of one's neighbours, as well as the plate upon the
I should like, of all things, to have heard the Amabæan eclogue between
her and Lewis--both obstinate, clever, odd, garrulous, and shrill. In
fact, one could have heard nothing else. But they fell out, alas!--and
now they will never quarrel again. Could not one reconcile them for the
"nonce?" Poor Corinne--she will find that some of her fine sayings won't
suit our fine ladies and gentlemen.
I am getting rather into admiration of [Lady C. Annesley] the youngest
sister of [Lady F. Webster]. A wife would be my salvation. I am sure the
wives of my acquaintances have hitherto done me little good. Catherine
is beautiful, but very young, and, I think, a fool. But I have not seen
enough to judge; besides, I hate an _esprit_ in petticoats. That she
won't love me is very probable, nor shall I love her. But, on my system,
and the modern system in general, that don't signify. The business (if
it came to business) would probably be arranged between papa and me. She
would have her own way; I am good-humoured to women, and docile; and, if
I did not fall in love with her, which I should try to prevent, we
should be a very comfortable couple. As to conduct, _that_ she must look
to. But _if_ I love, I shall be jealous;--and for that reason I will not
be in love. Though, after all, I doubt my temper, and fear I should not
be so patient as becomes the _bienséance_ of a married man in my
station. Divorce ruins the poor _femme_, and damages are a paltry
compensation. I do fear my temper would lead me into some of our
oriental tricks of vengeance, or, at any rate, into a summary appeal to
the court of twelve paces. So "I'll none on't," but e'en remain single
and solitary;--though I should like to have somebody now and then to
yawn with one.
Ward, and, after him,----, has stolen one of my buffooneries about Mde.
de Stael's Metaphysics and the Fog, and passed it, by speech and letter,
as their own. As Gibbet says, "they are the most of a gentleman of any
on the road."  W. is in sad enmity with the Whigs about this Review
of Fox  (if he _did_ review him);--all the epigrammatists and
essayists are at him. I hate _odds_, and wish he may beat them. As for
me, by the blessing of indifference, I have simplified my politics into
an utter detestation of all existing governments; and, as it is the
shortest and most agreeable and summary feeling imaginable, the first
moment of an universal republic would convert me into an advocate for
single and uncontradicted despotism. The fact is, riches are power, and
poverty is slavery all over the earth, and one sort of establishment is
no better nor worse for a _people_ than another. I shall adhere to my
party, because it would not be honourable to act otherwise; but, as to
_opinions_, I don't think politics _worth_ an _opinion_. _Conduct_ is
another thing:--if you begin with a party, go on with them. I have no
consistency, except in politics; and _that_ probably arises from my
indifference on the subject altogether.
[Footnote 1: The 'Beaux' Stratagem', by George Farquhar (act iv. sc. 3):
"And I can assure you, friend, there's a great deal of address and
good manners in robbing a lady: I am most a gentleman that way that
ever travelled the road."]
[Footnote 2: An article by Ward on 'The Correspondence of Gilbert
Wakefield with Mr. Fox', in the 'Quarterly Review' for July, 1813.]
* * * * *
Better than a month since I last journalised:--most of it out of London
and at Notts., but a busy one and a pleasant, at least three weeks of
it. On my return, I find all the newspapers in hysterics, and town in an
uproar, on the avowal and republication of two stanzas on Princess
Charlotte's weeping at Regency's speech to Lauderdale in 1812.  They
are daily at it still;--some of the abuse good, all of it hearty. They
talk of a motion in our House upon it--be it so.
Got up--redde the _Morning Post_ containing the battle of Buonaparte,
 the destruction of the Customhouse,  and a paragraph on me as
long as my pedigree, and vituperative, as usual. 
Hobhouse is returned to England. He is my best friend, the most lively,
and a man of the most sterling talents extant.
'The Corsair' has been conceived, written, published, etc., since I last
took up this journal. They tell me it has great success;--it was written
_con amore_, and much from _existence_. Murray is satisfied with its
progress; and if the public are equally so with the perusal, there's an
end of the matter.
Been to Hanson's on business. Saw Rogers, and had a note from Lady
Melbourne, who says, it is said I am "much out of spirits." I wonder if
I really am or not? I have certainly enough of "that perilous stuff
which weighs upon the heart,"  and it is better they should believe
it to be the result of these attacks than of the real cause; but--ay,
ay, always _but_, to the end of the chapter.
Hobhouse has told me ten thousand anecdotes of Napoleon, all good and
true. My friend H. is the most entertaining of companions, and a fine
fellow to boot.
Redde a little--wrote notes and letters, and am alone, which Locke says
is bad company. "Be not solitary, be not idle." --Um!--the idleness
is troublesome; but I can't see so much to regret in the solitude. The
more I see of men, the less I like them. If I could but say so of women
too, all would be well. Why can't I? I am now six-and-twenty; my
passions have had enough to cool them; my affections more than enough to
wither them,--and yet--and yet--always _yet_ and _but_--"Excellent well,
you are a fishmonger--get thee to a nunnery." --"They fool me to the
top of my bent." 
Began a letter, which I threw into the fire. Redde--but to little
purpose. Did not visit Hobhouse, as I promised and ought. No matter, the
loss is mine. Smoked cigars.
Napoleon!--this week will decide his fate. All seems against him; but I
believe and hope he will win--at least, beat back the invaders. What
right have we to prescribe sovereigns to France? Oh for a Republic!
"Brutus, thou sleepest."  Hobhouse abounds in continental anecdotes
of this extraordinary man; all in favour of his intellect and courage,
but against his _bonhommie_. No wonder;--how should he, who knows
mankind well, do other than despise and abhor them?
The greater the equality, the more impartially evil is distributed, and
becomes lighter by the division among so many--therefore, a Republic!
More notes from Madame de Stael unanswered--and so they shall remain.
 I admire her abilities, but really her society is overwhelming--an
avalanche that buries one in glittering nonsense--all snow and
Shall I go to Mackintosh's on Tuesday? um!--I did not go to Marquis
Lansdowne's nor to Miss Berry's, though both are pleasant. So is Sir
James's,--but I don't know--I believe one is not the better for parties;
at least, unless some _regnante_ is there.
I wonder how the deuce any body could make such a world; for what
purpose dandies, for instance, were ordained--and kings--and fellows of
colleges--and women of "a certain age"--and many men of any age--and
myself, most of all!
"Divesne prisco natus ab Inacho
Nil interest, an pauper et infimâ
De gente, sub dio ('sic') moreris,
Victima nil miserantis Orci.
Omnes eodem cogimur," etc. 
Is there any thing beyond?--_who_ knows? _He_ that can't tell. Who tells
that there _is_? He who don't know. And when shall he know? perhaps,
when he don't expect, and generally when he don't wish it. In this last
respect, however, all are not alike: it depends a good deal upon
education,--something upon nerves and habits--but most upon digestion.
[Footnote 1: See p. 134, 'note' 2 [Footnote 3 of Letter 241], and
[Footnote 2: The battle of Brienne was fought February 1, 1814.]
[Footnote 3: By fire, on the 12th of February.]
"We are informed from very good authority, that as soon as the House
of Lords meet again, a Peer of very independent principles and
character intends to give notice of a motion occasioned by a late
spontaneous avowal of a copy of verses by Lord Byron, addressed to the
Princess Charlotte of Wales, in which he has taken the most
unwarrantable liberties with her august father's character and
conduct: this motion being of a personal nature, it will be necessary
to give the noble Satirist some days' notice, that he may prepare
himself for his defence against a charge of so aggravated a nature,"
'Morning Post', February 18.]
[Footnote 5: 'Macbeth', act v. sc. 3.]
[Footnote 6: These words close the penultimate paragraph of Burton's
'Anatomy of Melancholy'.]
[Footnote 7: 'Hamlet', act ii. sc. 2, and act iii. sc. 1.]
[Footnote 8: 'Ibid'., sc. 2.]
"Brutus, thou sleepest, awake."
'Julius Cæsar', act ii. sc. 1.]
[Footnote 10: The following extract from 'Detached Thoughts' (1821)
implies that this expression of opinion was no passing thought (but see
Scott's note, p. 376 [Footnote 5 of Journal entry for December 13th,
"There is nothing left for Mankind but a Republic, and I think that
there are hopes of such. The two Americas (South and North) have it;
Spain and Portugal approach it; all thirst for it. Oh Washington!"]
[Footnote 11: Here is one of Madame de Staël's notes:
"Je renonce à vos visites, pourvu que vous acceptiez mes diners, car
enfin à quoi servirait il de vivre dans le même tems que vous, si
l'on ne vous voyait pas? Dinez chez moi dimanche avec vos amis,--je ne
dirai pas vos admirateurs, car je n'ai rencontré que cela de touts
"Je prends le silence pour oui."]
[Footnote 12: Horace, 'Odes', II. iii. 21, 'et seqq.']
* * * * *
Saturday, Feb. 19.
Just returned from seeing Kean  in Richard. By Jove, he is a soul!
Life--nature--truth without exaggeration or diminution. Kemble's Hamlet
is perfect;--but Hamlet is not Nature. Richard is a man; and Kean is
Richard. Now to my own concerns.
Went to Waite's. Teeth are all right and white; but he says that I grind
them in my sleep and chip the edges. That same sleep is no friend of
mine, though I court him sometimes for half the twenty-four.
[Footnote 1: Edmund Kean (1787-1833), after acting in provincial
theatres, appeared at the Haymarket in June, 1806, as "Ganem" in 'The
Mountaineers', but again returned to the country. His performance of
"Shylock" in the 'Merchant of Venice', at Drury Lane, on January 26,
1814, made him famous. He appeared in "Richard III" on February 12, and
still further increased his reputation.
In the 'Courier', February 26, 1814, appears this paragraph:
"Mr. Kean's attraction is unprecedented in the annals of
theatricals--even Cooke's performances are left at an immeasurable
distance; his first three nights of 'Richard' produced upwards of
£1800, and on repeating that character on Thursday night for the
fourthth ('sic') time, the receipts were upwards of £700."
On March 1 the same paper says,
"Drury Lane Theatre again overflowed last night, at an early hour.
Such is the continued and increasing attraction of that truly great
actor Mr. Kean."
After the retirement of John Kemble (June 23, 1817), he had no rival on
the stage, especially in such parts as "Othello," "Lear," "Hamlet," "Sir
Giles Overreach," and the two already mentioned. His last appearance on
the stage was in "Othello" at Covent Garden, March 25, 1833.
"To see Kean act," said Coleridge, "is like reading Shakespeare by
flashes of lightning."
"Garrick's nature," writes Leigh Hunt, in the 'Tatler', July 25, 1831,
"displaced Quin's formalism; and in precisely the same way did Kean
displace Kemble. ... Everything with Kemble was literally a
'personation'--it was a mask and a sounding-pipe. It was all external
and artificial.... Kean's face is full of light and shade, his tones
vary, his voice trembles, his eye glistens, sometimes with a withering
scorn, sometimes with a tear."
It was the realism and nature of Kean which so strongly appealed to
Byron, and enabled the actor, to the last, in spite of his drunken
habits, poor figure, and weak voice, to sway his audiences. The same
qualities at first repelled more timid critics, and perhaps justified
Hazlitt's saying that Kean was "not much relished in the upper circles."
Miss Berry, for example, who saw him in all his principal parts in
1814--in "Richard III," "Hamlet," "Othello," and "Sir Giles
"His 'Richard III.' pleased me, but I was not enthusiastic. His
expression of the passions is natural and strong, but I do not like
his declamation; his voice, naturally not agreeable, becomes
('Diary', vol. iii. p. 7). Of his "Hamlet" she says,
"To my mind he is without grace and without elevation of mind, because
he never seems to rise with the poet in those sublime passages which
abound in 'Hamlet'"
('ibid.', p. 9). Miss Berry's criticism is supported by good authority.
Lewes ('On Actors and the Art of Acting', pp. 6, 11), while calling him
"a consummate master of passionate expression," denies his capacity for
representing "the intellectual side of heroism."
Kean preferred the Coal-Hole Tavern in the Strand, and the society of
the Wolf Club, to Lord Holland's dinner-parties. Though he never fell so
low as Cooke, his recklessness, irregularities, eccentricities, and
habits of drinking, in spite of the large sums of money that passed
through his hands, made his closing days neither prosperous nor
Such effect had the passionate energy of Kean's acting on Byron's mind,
that, once, in seeing him play "Sir Giles Overreach," he was so affected
as to be seized with a sort of convulsive fit. Some years later, in
Italy, when the representation of Alfieri's tragedy of 'Mirra' had
agitated him in the same violent manner, he compared the two instances
as the only ones in his life when "any thing under reality" had been
able to move him so powerfully.
"To such lengths," says Moore, "did he, at this time, carry his
enthusiasm for Kean, that when Miss O'Neil appeared, and, by her
matchless representation of feminine tenderness, attracted all eyes
and hearts, he was not only a little jealous of her reputation, as
interfering with that of his favourite, but, in order to guard himself
against the risk of becoming a convert, refused to go to see her act.
I endeavoured sometimes to persuade him into witnessing, at least, one
of her performances; but his answer was (punning upon Shakspeare's
word, 'unanealed'), 'No--I am resolved to continue 'un-Oneiled'.'
In his 'Detached Thoughts' (1821) Byron says,
"Of actors Cooke was the most natural, Kemble the most supernatural,
Kean the medium between the two. But Mrs. Siddons was worth them all
* * * * *
Got up and tore out two leaves of this Journal--I don't know why.
Hodgson just called and gone. He has much _bonhommie_ with his other
good qualities, and more talent than he has yet had credit for beyond
An invitation to dine at Holland House to meet Kean. He is worth
meeting; and I hope, by getting into good society, he will be prevented
from falling like Cooke. He is greater now on the stage, and off he
should never be less. There is a stupid and underrating criticism upon
him in one of the newspapers. I thought that, last night, though great,
he rather under-acted more than the first time. This may be the effect
of these cavils; but I hope he has more sense than to mind them. He
cannot expect to maintain his present eminence, or to advance still
higher, without the envy of his green-room fellows, and the nibbling of
their admirers. But, if he don't beat them all, why then--merit hath no
purchase in "these coster-monger days." 
I wish that I had a talent for the drama; I would write a tragedy _now_.
But no,--it is gone. Hodgson talks of one,--he will do it well;--and I
think M---e [Moore] should try. He has wonderful powers, and much
variety; besides, he has lived and felt. To write so as to bring home to
the heart, the heart must have been tried,--but, perhaps, ceased to be
so. While you are under the influence of passions, you only feel, but
cannot describe them,--any more than, when in action, you could turn
round and tell the story to your next neighbour! When all is over,--all,
all, and irrevocable,--trust to memory--she is then but too faithful.
Went out, and answered some letters, yawned now and then, and redde the
'Robbers'. Fine,--but 'Fiesco' is better ; and Alfieri, and Monti's
'Aristodemo'  _best_. They are more equal than the Tedeschi
Answered--or rather acknowledged--the receipt of young Reynolds's 
poem, _Safie_. The lad is clever, but much of his thoughts are
borrowed,--whence, the Reviewers may find out. I hate discouraging a
young one; and I think,--though wild and more oriental than he would be,
had he seen the scenes where he has placed his tale,--that he has much
talent, and, certainly fire enough.
Received a very singular epistle; and the mode of its conveyance,
through Lord H.'s hands, as curious as the letter itself. But it was
gratifying and pretty.
[Footnote 1: 'Henry IV.', Part II. act i. sc. 2.]
[Footnote 2: Schiller's 'Robbers' was first produced at Mannheim,
January 13, 1782; his 'Fiesco' was published in 1783. The 'Robbers' is
included in Benjamin Thompson's 'German Theatre' (1801). 'Fiesco' was
translated by G. H. Noehden and John Stoddart in 1798.]
[Footnote 3: Monti's three tragedies, 'Caio Gracco', 'Aristodemo', and
'Manfredi', were written in rivalry of Alfieri's tragedies between the
years 1788 and 1799.]
[Footnote 4: For John Hamilton Reynolds, see 'Letters', vol. iii.
(February 20, 1814, 'note' 1).]
* * * * *
Sunday, February 27.
Here I am, alone, instead of dining at Lord H.'s, where I was
asked,--but not inclined to go any where. Hobhouse says I am growing a
_loup garou_,--a solitary hobgoblin. True;--"I am myself alone." 
The last week has been passed in reading--seeing plays--now and then
visitors--sometimes yawning and sometimes sighing, but no writing,--save
of letters. If I could always read, I should never feel the want of
society. Do I regret it?--um!--"Man delights not me,"  and only one
woman--at a time.
There is something to me very softening in the presence of a
woman,--some strange influence, even if one is not in love with
them--which I cannot at all account for, having no very high opinion of
the sex. But yet,--I always feel in better humour with myself and every
thing else, if there is a woman within ken. Even Mrs. Mule , my
firelighter,--the most ancient and withered of her kind,--and (except to
myself) not the best-tempered--always makes me laugh,--no difficult task
when I am "i' the vein."
Heigho! I would I were in mine island!--I am not well; and yet I look in
good health. At times, I fear, "I am not in my perfect mind;" --and
yet my heart and head have stood many a crash, and what should ail them
now? They prey upon themselves, and I am sick--sick--"Prithee, undo
this button--why should a cat, a rat, a dog have life--and thou no life
at all?" 
Six-and-twenty years, as they call them, why, I might and should have
been a Pasha by this time. "I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun." 
Buonaparte is not yet beaten; but has rebutted Blucher, and repiqued
Schwartzenburg . This it is to have a head. If he again wins, _Væ
"I am myself alone."
'Henry VI.', Part III. act v. sc. 6.]
[Footnote 2: 'Hamlet', act ii. sc. 2.]
"This ancient housemaid, of whose gaunt and witch-like appearance it
would be impossible to convey any idea but by the pencil, furnished
one among the numerous instances of Lord Byron's proneness to attach
himself to any thing, however homely, that had once enlisted his good
nature in its behalf, and become associated with his thoughts. He
first found this old woman at his lodgings in Bennet Street, where,
for a whole season, she was the perpetual scarecrow of his visitors.
When, next year, he took chambers in Albany, one of the great
advantages which his friends looked to in the change was, that they
should get rid of this phantom. But, no,--there she was again--he had
actually brought her with him from Bennet Street. The following year
saw him married, and, with a regular establishment of servants, in
Piccadilly; and here,--as Mrs. Mule had not made her appearance to any
of the visitors,--it was concluded, rashly, that the witch had
vanished. One of those friends, however, who had most fondly indulged
in this persuasion, happening to call one day when all the male part
of the establishment were abroad, saw, to his dismay, the door opened
by the same grim personage, improved considerably in point of
babiliments since he last saw her, and keeping pace with the increased
scale of her master's household, as a new peruke, and other symptoms
of promotion, testified. When asked 'how he came to carry this old
woman about with him from place to place,' Lord Byron's only answer
was, 'The poor old devil was so kind to me'". (Moore).]
[Footnote 4: 'King Lear', act iv. sc. 7.]
"Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all?"
'King Lear', act v. sc. 3.]
"I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun,
And wish the estate of the world were now undone."
'Macbeth', act v. sc. 5.]
[Footnote 7: Napoleon fought the battle of Nangis against Blucher on the
17th of February, 1814, and that of Montereau against Prince
Schwartzenberg on the following day.]
* * * * *
Sunday, March 6.
On Tuesday last dined with Rogers,--Madame de Staël, Mackintosh,
Sheridan, Erskine , and Payne Knight, Lady Donegal, and Miss R.
there. Sheridan told a very good story of himself and Madame de
Recamier's handkerchief; Erskine a few stories of himself only. _She_ is
going to write a big book about England, she says;--I believe her. Asked
by her how I liked Miss Edgeworth's thing, called _Patronage_ , and
answered (very sincerely) that I thought it very bad for _her_, and
worse than any of the others. Afterwards thought it possible Lady
Donegal , being Irish, might be a patroness of Miss Edgeworth, and
was rather sorry for my opinion, as I hate putting people into fusses,
either with themselves or their favourites; it looks as if one did it on
purpose. The party went off very well, and the fish was very much to my
gusto. But we got up too soon after the women; and Mrs. Corinne always
lingers so long after dinner that we wish her in--the drawing-room.
To-day Campbell called, and while sitting here in came Merivale .
During our colloquy, C. (ignorant that Merivale was the writer) abused
the "mawkishness of the _Quarterly Review_ of Grimm's _Correspondence_."
I (knowing the secret) changed the conversation as soon as I could; and
C. went away, quite convinced of having made the most favourable
impression on his new acquaintance. Merivale is luckily a very
good-natured fellow, or God he knows what might have been engendered
from such a malaprop. I did not look at him while this was going on, but
I felt like a coal--for I like Merivale, as well as the article in
Asked to Lady Keith's  to-morrow evening--I think I will go; but it
is the first party invitation I have accepted this "season," as the
learned Fletcher called it, when that youngest brat of Lady----'s cut
my eye and cheek open with a misdirected pebble--"Never mind, my Lord,
the scar will be gone before the _season_;" as if one's eye was of no
importance in the mean time.
Lord Erskine called, and gave me his famous pamphlet, with a marginal
note and corrections in his handwriting. Sent it to be bound superbly,
and shall treasure it.
Sent my fine print of Napoleon  to be framed. It _is_ framed; and the
Emperor becomes his robes as if he had been hatched in them.
[Footnote 1: Thomas, Lord Erskine (1750-1823), youngest son of the tenth
Earl of Buchan, a midshipman in the Royal Navy (1764-67), an ensign, and
subsequently a lieutenant in the First Foot (1767-75), was called to the
Bar in 1778, and became Lord Chancellor in 1806. As an advocate he was
"Even the great luminaries of the law," says Wraxall ('Posthumous
Memoirs', vol. i. p. 86), "when arrayed in their ermine, bent under his
ascendancy, and seemed to be half subdued by his intelligence, or awed
by his vehemence, pertinacity, and undaunted character."
With a jury he was particularly successful, though he lived to write the
lines quoted by Lord Campbell ('Lives of the Chancellors', ed. 1868,
vol. viii. p. 233):
"The monarch's pale face was with blushes suffused,
To observe right and wrong by twelve villains confused,
And, kicking their----s all round in a fury,
Cried, ''Curs'd be the day I invented a jury!''"
A Whig in politics, and in sympathy with the doctrines of the French
Revolution, he defended Paine, Frost, Hardy, and other political
offenders, and did memorable service to the cause of constitutional
liberty. In the House of Commons, which he entered as M. P. for
Portsmouth in 1783, he was a failure; his maiden speech on Fox's India
Bill fell flat, and he was crushed by Pitt's contempt. As Lord
Chancellor (1806-7) he proved a better judge than was expected. At the
time when Byron made his acquaintance, he had practically retired from
public life, and devoted himself to literature, society, and farming,
writing on the services of rooks, and attending the Holkham
sheep-shearings. Lord Campbell has collected many of his verses and
jokes in vol. ix. chap. cxc. of his 'Lives of the Chancellors'. His
famous pamphlet, 'On the Causes and Consequences of the War with France'
(1797), was written, as he told Miss Berry ('Journal of Miss Berry',
vol. ii. p. 340),
"on slips of paper in the midst of all the business which I was
engaged in at the time--not at home, but in open court, whilst the
causes were trying. When it was not my turn to examine a witness, or
to speak to the Jury, I wrote a little bit; and so on by snatches."
His 'Armata' was published by Murray in 1817. In society Erskine was
widely known for his brilliancy, his puns, and his extraordinary vanity.
His egotism gained him such titles as Counsellor Ego, Baron Ego of Eye,
and supplied Mathias ('Pursuits of Literature') with an illustration:
"A vain, pert prater, bred in Erskine's school."]
[Footnote 2: Miss Edgeworth's 'Patronage' was published in 1813-4. In
1813 she had been in London with her father and stepmother. The
following entries respecting the family are taken from Byron's 'Detached
"Old Edgeworth, the fourth or fifth Mrs. Edgeworth, and 'the' Miss
Edgeworth were in London, 1813. Miss Edgeworth liked, Mrs. Edgeworth
not disliked, old Edgeworth a bore, the worst of bores--a boisterous
Bore. I met them in Society--once at a breakfast of Sir H.D.'s. Old
Edgeworth came in late, boasting that he had given 'Dr. Parr a
dressing the night before' (no such easy matter by the way). I thought
her pleasant. They all abused Anna Seward's memory. When on the road
they heard of her brother's--and his son's--death. What was to be
done? Their 'London' apparel was all ordered and made! so they sunk
his death for the six weeks of their sojourn, and went into mourning
on their way back to Ireland. 'Fact!'
"While the Colony were in London, there was a book with a subscription
for the 'recall of Mrs. Siddons to the Stage' going about for
signatures. Moore moved for a similar subscription for the 'recall of
'Mr. Edgeworth to Ireland!''
"Sir Humphry Davy told me that the scene of the French Valet and Irish
postboy in 'Ennui' was taken from his verbal description to the
Edgeworths in Edgeworthtown of a similar fact on the road occurring to
himself. So much the better--being 'life'."]
[Footnote 3: The Marquis of Donegal married, in 1795, Anna, daughter of
Sir Edward May, Bart.]
[Footnote 4: For J. H. Merivale, see 'Letters', vol. iii. (January,
1814. 'note' 1).]
[Footnote 5: Hester Maria, eldest daughter and co-heir of Henry Thrale,
of Streatham, the friend of Dr. Johnson, married, in 1808, Viscount
[Footnote 6: Byron's "Portrait of Bonaparte, engraved by Morghen, _very
fine impression, in a gilt frame_," was sold at his sale, April 5,
* * * * *
Rose at seven--ready by half-past eight--went to Mr. Hanson's,
Bloomsbury Square--went to church with his eldest daughter, Mary Anne (a
good girl), and gave her away to the Earl of Portsmouth.  Saw her
fairly a countess--congratulated the family and groom (bride)--drank a
bumper of wine (wholesome sherris) to their felicity, and all that--and
came home. Asked to stay to dinner, but could not. At three sat to
Phillips for faces. Called on Lady M. [Melbourne]--I like her so well,
that I always stay too long. (Mem. to mend of that.)
Passed the evening with Hobhouse, who has begun a poem, which promises
highly;--wish he would go on with it. Heard some curious extracts from a
life of Morosini,  the blundering Venetian, who blew up the Acropolis
at Athens with a bomb, and be damned to him! Waxed sleepy--just come
home--must go to bed, and am engaged to meet Sheridan to-morrow at
Queer ceremony that same of marriage--saw many abroad, Greek and
Catholic--one, at _home_, many years ago. There be some strange phrases
in the prologue (the exhortation), which made me turn away, not to laugh
in the face of the surpliceman. Made one blunder, when I joined the
hands of the happy--rammed their left hands, by mistake, into one
another. Corrected it--bustled back to the altar-rail, and said "Amen."
Portsmouth responded as if he had got the whole by heart; and, if any
thing, was rather before the priest. It is now midnight and----.
[Footnote 1: Lord Portsmouth (see 'Letters', vol. i. p. 9, 'note' 2
[Footnote 3 of Letter 3]), who had long known the Hansons, from whose
house he married his first wife, married, March 7, 1814, Mary Anne,
eldest daughter of John Hanson. A commission of lunacy was taken out by
the brother and next heir, the Hon. Newton Fellowes; but Lord Chancellor
Eldon decided that Lord Portsmouth was capable of entering into the
marriage contract and managing his own affairs. The commission was,
however, ultimately granted. Byron swore an affidavit on the first
"Denman mentioned Lord Byron's affidavit about Lord Portsmouth as a
proof of the influence of Hanson over him; Lord B. swearing that Lord
P. had 'rather a 'superior' mind than otherwise'"
('Memoirs, etc., of Thomas Moore', vol. vi. p. 47).
The following is the note which Byron sent Hanson to embody in
"I have been acquainted with Mr. Hanson and his family for many years.
He is my solicitor. About the beginning of March last he sent to me to
ask my opinion on the subject of Lord Portsmouth, who, as I understood
from Mr. H., was paying great attention to his eldest daughter. He
stated to me that Mr. Newton Fellowes (with whom I have no personal
acquaintance) was particularly desirous that Lord Portsmouth should
marry some 'elderly woman' of his (Mr. Fellowes's) selection--that the
title and family estates might thereby devolve on Mr. F. or his
children; but that Lord P. had expressed a dislike to old women, and a
desire to choose for himself. I told Mr. Hanson that, if Miss Hanson's
affections were not pre-engaged, and Lord Portsmouth appeared attached
to her, there could be, in my opinion, no objection to the match. I
think, but cannot be positive, that I saw Lord Portsmouth at Mr.
Hanson's two or three times previous to the marriage; but I had no
conversation with him upon it.
"The night before the ceremony, I received an invitation from Mr.
Hanson, requesting me, as a friend of the family, to be present at the
marriage, which was to take place next morning. I went next morning to
Bloomsbury Square, where I found the parties. Lady Portsmouth, with
her brother and sister and another gentleman, went in the carriage to
St. George's Church; Lord Portsmouth and myself walked, as the
carriage was full, and the distance short. On my way Lord Portsmouth
told me that he had been partial to Miss Hanson from her childhood,
and that, since she grew up, and more particularly subsequent to the
decease of the late Lady P., this partiality had become attachment,
and that he thought her calculated to make him an excellent wife. I
was present at the ceremony and gave away the bride. Lord Portsmouth's
behaviour seemed to me perfectly calm and rational on the occasion. He
seemed particularly attentive to the priest, and gave the responses
audibly and very distinctly. I remarked this because, in ordinary
conversation, his Lordship has a hesitation in his speech. After the
ceremony, we returned to Mr. Hanson's, whence, I believe, they went
into the country--where I did not accompany them. Since their return I
have occasionally seen Lord and Lady Portsmouth in Bloomsbury Square.
They appeared very happy. I have never been very intimate with his
Lordship, and am therefore unqualified to give a decided opinion of
his general conduct. But had I considered him insane, I should have
advised Mr. Hanson, when he consulted me on the subject, not to permit
the marriage. His preference of a young woman to an old one, and of
his own wishes to those of a younger brother, seemed to me neither
irrational nor extraordinary."
There is nothing in the note itself, or in the draft affidavit, to bear
out Moore's report of Denman's statement.
Byron, according to the account given by Newton Hanson, is wrong in
saying that Mrs. Hanson approved of the marriage. On the contrary, it
was the cause of her death, a fortnight later. In 1828 the marriage was
annulled, a jury having decided that Lord Portsmouth was 'non compos
mentis' when he contracted it.]
[Footnote 2: Francesco Morosini (1618-1694) occupied the Morea for
Venice (1687), besieged Athens, and bombarded the Parthenon, which had
been made a powder-magazine. He became Doge of Venice in 1688.]
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