The Works of Lord Byron: Letters and Journals, Volume 2.
Part 11 out of 13
March 10, Thor's Day.
On Tuesday dined with Rogers,--Mackintosh, Sheridan, Sharpe,--much talk,
and good,--all, except my own little prattlement. Much of old
times--Horne Tooke--the Trials--evidence of Sheridan, and anecdotes of
those times, when _I_, alas! was an infant. If I had been a man, I would
have made an English Lord Edward Fitzgerald.
Set down Sheridan at Brookes's,--where, by the by, he could not have
well set down himself, as he and I were the only drinkers. Sherry means
to stand for Westminster, as Cochrane  (the stock-jobbing hoaxer)
must vacate. Brougham  is a candidate. I fear for poor dear Sherry.
Both have talents of the highest order, but the youngster has _yet_ a
character. We shall see, if he lives to Sherry's age, how he will pass
over the redhot plough-shares of public life. I don't know why, but I
hate to see the _old_ ones lose; particularly Sheridan, notwithstanding
all his _méchanceté_.
Received many, and the kindest, thanks from Lady Portsmouth, _père_ and
_mère_, for my match-making. I don't regret it, as she looks the
countess well, and is a very good girl. It is odd how well she carries
her new honours. She looks a different woman, and high-bred, too. I had
no idea that I could make so good a peeress.
Went to the play with Hobhouse. Mrs. Jordan superlative in Hoyden, 
and Jones well enough in Foppington. _What plays_! what wit!--_hélas_!
Congreve and Vanbrugh are your only comedy. Our society is too insipid
now for the like copy. Would _not_ go to Lady Keith's. Hobhouse thought
it odd. I wonder _he_ should like parties. If one is in love, and wants
to break a commandment and covet any thing that is there, they do very
well. But to go out amongst the mere herd, without a motive, pleasure,
or pursuit--'sdeath! "I'll none of it." He told me an odd report,--that
_I_ am the actual Conrad, the veritable Corsair, and that part of my
travels are supposed to have passed in privacy. Um!--people sometimes
hit near the truth; but never the whole truth. H. don't know what I was
about the year after he left the Levant; nor does any one--nor--
--nor--nor--however, it is a lie--but, "I doubt the equivocation of the
fiend that lies like truth!" 
I shall have letters of importance to-morrow. Which,----,----, or
----? heigho!------is in my heart,----in my head,----in my eye,
and the _single_ one, Heaven knows where. All write, and will be
answered. "Since I have crept in favour with myself, I must maintain
it;"  but I never "mistook my person,"  though I think others
----called to-day in great despair about his mistress, who has taken a
freak of----. He began a letter to her, but was obliged to stop
short--I finished it for him, and he copied and sent it. If _he_ holds
out, and keeps to my instructions of affected indifference, she will
lower her colours. If she don't, he will, at least, get rid of her, and
she don't seem much worth keeping. But the poor lad is in love--if that
is the case, she will win. When they once discover their power, _finita
è la musica_.
Sleepy, and must go to bed.
[Footnote 1: Thomas, Lord Cochrane (1775-1860), eldest son of the ninth
Earl of Dundonald, a captain in the Royal Navy, and M. P. for
Westminster, had done brilliant service in his successive commands--the
'Speedy', 'Pallas', 'Impérieuse', and the flotilla of fire-ships at
Basque Roads in 1809. In the House of Commons he had been a strong
opponent of the Government, an advocate of Parliamentary Reform, and a
vigorous critic of naval administration. In February, 1814, he had been
appointed to the 'Tonnant' for the American Station, and it was while he
was on a week's leave of absence in London, before sailing, that the
stock-jobbing hoax occurred.
During the days February 8-26, 1814, it seemed possible that Napoleon
might defeat the Allied Armies, and the Funds were sensitive to every
rumour. At midnight on Sunday, February 20, a man calling himself Du
Bourg brought news to Admiral Foley, at Dover, that Napoleon had been
killed by a party of Cossacks. Hurrying towards London, Du Bourg, whose
real name was Berenger, spread the news as he went. Arrived in London
soon after daybreak, he went to Cochrane's house, and there changed his
uniform. When the Stock Exchange opened at ten on February 21, 1814, the
Funds rose rapidly, and among those who sold on the rise was Cochrane.
The next day, when the swindle had been discovered, the Stocks fell.
A Stock Exchange Committee sat to investigate the case, and their report
(March 7) threw grave suspicion on Cochrane. He, his uncle, Cochrane
Johnstone, a Mr. Butt, and Berenger, were indicted for a conspiracy,
tried before Lord Ellenborough, June 8-9, and convicted. Cochrane was
sentenced to a year's imprisonment and a fine of £1000. On the back of
the note for £1000 (still kept in the Bank of England) with which he
paid his fine on July 3, 1815, he wrote:
"My health having suffered by long and close confinement, and my
oppressors being resolved to deprive me of property or life, I submit
to robbery to protect myself from murder, in the hope that I shall
live to bring the delinquents to justice."
Cochrane was also expelled from the House of Commons and from the Order
of the Bath. There is little doubt that the circumstances were extremely
suspicious. Those who wish to form an opinion as to Cochrane's guilt or
innocence will find the subject of the trial exhaustively treated in Mr.
J.B. Atlay's 'Lord Cochrane's Trial before Lord Ellenborough' (1897).]
[Footnote 2: Henry, Lord Brougham (1778-1868) acknowledged that he wrote
the famous article on Byron's 'Hours of Idleness' in the 'Edinburgh
Review' (Sir M.E. Grant-Duff's 'Notes from a Diary', vol. ii. p. 189).
He lost his seat for Camelford in September, 1812, and did not re-enter
the House till July, 1815, when he sat for Winchelsea. In the postscript
of a letter written by him to Douglas Kinnaird, December 9, 1814, he
speaks of Byron thus:
"Your friend, Lord B., is, in my opinion, a singularly agreeable
person, which is very rarely the case with eminent men. His
independent principles give him a great additional charm."
But the part which Brougham played in the separation, both as counsel
and in society, infuriated Byron, who wrote of him in his letters with
the utmost bitterness. (See also the passage, now for the first time
published, from Byron's 'Detached Thoughts', on his Parliamentary
experiences, p. 198, first paragraph of 'note'. [2md paragraph of
Footnote 1 of Letter 285])]
[Footnote 3: Dorothy Jordan (1762-1816) first appeared as "Phoebe" in
'As You Like It' at the Crow Street Theatre, Dublin, in 1777. After
acting in provincial theatres, she made her 'début' on the London stage
at Drury Lane (October 18, 1785) as "Peggy" in Garrick's 'Country Girl',
an expurgated version of Wycherley's 'Country Wife'. During the season
she appeared also in six of her best parts: "Miss Hoyden" in 'The Trip
to Scarborough', "Priscilla Tomboy" in 'The Romp', "Hypolita" in 'She
would and she would not', "Mrs. Brady" in 'The Irish Widow', "Viola" in
'Twelfth Night', and "Rosalind" in 'As You Like It'. Her last
appearance on the London stage was as "Lady Teazle" in 'The School for
Scandal', at Covent Garden, June 1, 1814. A list of her principal
characters is given by Genest ('English Stage', vol. viii. pp. 432-434).
As a comic actress, Mrs. Jordan was unrivalled; her voice was perfect;
and her natural gaiety irresistible. Sir Joshua Reynolds preferred her
to all other actresses as a being "who ran upon the stage as a
playground, and laughed from sincere wildness of delight." In genteel
comedy, critics like Genest ('English Stage', vol. viii. p. 431) and
Leigh Hunt ('Dramatic Essays', ed. 1894, p. 82) agree that she failed,
perhaps, as the latter suggests, because she was so "perpetually
employed" in "broad and romping characters."
In private life Mrs. Jordan was chiefly known as the mistress of the
Duke of Clarence, to whom she bore ten children. She died at St. Cloud,
July 3, 1816.
The play acted at Covent Garden, March 10, 1814, was Sheridan's 'Trip to
Scarborough', which is a close adaptation of Vanbrugh's 'Relapse'. The
performance is thus described in the 'Courier', March 11, 1814:
"Mrs. Jordan, the only 'Miss Hoyden' on the stage, supported that
character with unabated spirit. In every scene, from her soliloquy on
being locked up, which was delivered with extraordinary 'naïveté',
both with reference to her tones, her emphasis, and her action, until
the consummation of the piece, the house was shaken by loud and
quick-succeeding peals of laughter. The style in which she expressed
'Hoyden's' rustic arithmetic, 'Now, 'Nursey', if he gives me 'six
hundred pounds' a-year to buy 'pins', what will he give me to buy
petticoats?' was uncommonly fine. The frock waving in her hand, the
backward bound of two or three steps, the gravity of countenance,
induced by a mental glance at the magnitude of the sum, all spoke
expectation, delight, and astonishment."]
[Footnote 4: 'Macbeth', act v. sc. 5.]
[Footnote 5: 'Richard III', act i. sc. 2, line 259.]
[Footnote 6: 'Ibid.', line 253.]
* * * * *
Tuesday, March 15.
Dined yesterday with Rogers, Mackintosh, and Sharpe. Sheridan could not
come. Sharpe told several very amusing anecdotes of Henderson, the
actor.  Stayed till late, and came home, having drunk so much _tea_,
that I did not get to sleep till six this morning. R. says I am to be in
_this Quarterly_--cut up, I presume, as they "hate us youth." 
_N'importe_. As Sharpe was passing by the doors of some debating society
(the Westminster Forum), in his way to dinner, he saw rubricked on the
wall _Scott's_ name and _mine_--"Which the best poet?" being the
question of the evening; and I suppose all the Templars and _would-bes_
took our rhymes in vain in the course of the controversy. Which had the
greater show of hands, I neither know nor care; but I feel the coupling
of the names as a compliment--though I think Scott deserves better
Wedderburn Webster called--Lord Erskine, Lord Holland, etc., etc. Wrote
to----_The Corsair_ report. She says she don't wonder, since "Conrad
is so _like_." It is odd that one, who knows me so thoroughly, should
tell me this to my face. However, if she don't know, nobody can.
Mackintosh is, it seems, the writer of the defensive letter in the
_Morning Chronicle_. If so, it is very kind, and more than I did for
Told Murray to secure for me Bandello's Italian Novels  at the sale
to-morrow. To me they will be _nuts_. Redde a satire on myself, called
"Anti-Byron," and told Murray to publish it if he liked. The object of
the author is to prove me an atheist and a systematic conspirator
against law and government. Some of the verse is good; the prose I don't
quite understand. He asserts that my "deleterious works" have had "an
effect upon civil society, which requires," etc., etc., etc., and his
own poetry. It is a lengthy poem, and a long preface, with an harmonious
title-page. Like the fly in the fable, I seem to have got upon a wheel
which makes much dust; but, unlike the said fly, I do not take it all
for my own raising.
A letter from _Bella_,  which I answered. I shall be in love with her
again if I don't take care.
I shall begin a more regular system of reading soon.
[Footnote 1: John Henderson, the Bath Roscius (1747-1785), without any
great personal advantages, was, according to Mrs. Siddons, "a fine actor
... the soul of intelligence." Rogers ('Table-Talk', ed. 1887, p. 110)
"Henderson was a truly great actor: his Hamlet and his Falstaff were
equally good. He was a very fine reader too: in his comic readings,
superior, of course, to Mrs. Siddons: his John Gilpin was marvellous."
In Sharp's 'Letters and Essays' (ed. 1834, pp. 16-18) will be found an
interesting letter to Henderson, written a few days before his death,
giving an account of John Kemble's first appearance on the London
boards, in the character of "Hamlet."
"There has not," says Sharp, "been such a first appearance since
yours; yet Nature, though she has been bountiful to him in figure and
feature, has denied him a voice.... You have been so long without a
'brother near the throne,' that it will perhaps be serviceable to you
to be obliged to bestir yourself in Hamlet, Macbeth, Lord Townley, and
Maskwell; but in Lear, Richard, Falstaff, and Benedict, you have
nothing to fear, not-withstanding the known fickleness of the public
and its love of novelty."]
[Footnote 2: 'Henry IV', Part I. act ii. sc. 2.]
[Footnote 3: Matteo Bandello (1480-1562), a native of Piedmont, became
in 1550 Bishop of Agen. His 214 tales, in the manner of Boccaccio, were
published at Milan (1554-73). In the Catalogue of Byron's books, "sold
by auction by Mr. Evans, at his house, No. 26, Pall Mall, on Friday,
April 5, 1816, and following day," appears "Bandello, 'Novelle', 8 vol.,
wanting vol. 9, 'Livorn', 1791."]
[Footnote 4: Miss Milbanke, afterwards Lady Byron.]
* * * * *
Thursday, March 17.
I have been sparring with Jackson for exercise this morning; and mean to
continue and renew my acquaintance with the muffles. My chest, and arms,
and wind are in very good plight, and I am not in flesh. I used to be a
hard hitter, and my arms are very long for my height (5 feet 8 1/2
inches). At any rate, exercise is good, and this the severest of all;
fencing and the broad-sword never fatigued me half so much.
Redde the 'Quarrels of Authors'  (another sort of _sparring_)--a new
work, by that most entertaining and researching writer, Israeli. They
seem to be an irritable set, and I wish myself well out of it. "I'll not
march through Coventry with them, that's flat."  What the devil had I
to do with scribbling? It is too late to inquire, and all regret is
useless. But, an it were to do again,--I should write again, I suppose.
Such is human nature, at least my share of it;--though I shall think
better of myself, if I have sense to stop now. If I have a wife, and
that wife has a son--by any body--I will bring up mine heir in the most
anti-poetical way--make him a lawyer, or a pirate, or--any thing. But,
if he writes too, I shall be sure he is none of mine, and cut him off
with a Bank token. Must write a letter--three o'clock.
[Footnote 1: Disraeli's 'Curiosities of Literature', 2 vols. (1807);
'Calamities of Authors', 2 vols. (1812); and 'Quarrels of Authors', 3
vols. (1814), appear in the Sale Catalogue.]
[Footnote 2: 'Henry IV'., Part I. act iv. sc. 2.]
* * * * *
Sunday, March 20.
I intended to go to Lady Hardwicke's,  but won't. I always begin the
day with a bias towards going to parties; but, as the evening advances,
my stimulus fails, and I hardly ever go out--and, when I do, always
regret it. This might have been a pleasant one;--at least, the hostess
is a very superior woman. Lady Lansdowne's  to-morrow--Lady
Heathcote's  Wednesday. Um!--I must spur myself into going to some of
them, or it will look like rudeness, and it is better to do as other
people do--confound them!
Redde Machiavel,  parts of Chardin, and Sismondi, and Bandello--by
starts. Redde the _Edinburgh_, 44, just come out. In the beginning of
the article on Edgeworth's _Patronage_, I have gotten a high compliment,
I perceive.  Whether this is creditable to me, I know not; but it
does honour to the editor, because he once abused me. Many a man will
retract praise; none but a high-spirited mind will revoke its censure,
or _can_ praise the man it has once attacked. I have often, since my
return to England, heard Jeffrey most highly commended by those who know
him for things independent of his talents. I admire him for _this_--not
because he has _praised me_ (I have been so praised elsewhere and
abused, alternately, that mere habit has rendered me as indifferent to
both as a man at twenty-six can be to any thing), but because he is,
perhaps, the _only man_ who, under the relations in which he and I
stand, or stood, with regard to each other, would have had the
liberality to act thus; none but a great soul dared hazard it. The
height on which he stands has not made him giddy;--a little scribbler
would have gone on cavilling to the end of the chapter. As to the
justice of his panegyric, that is matter of taste. There are plenty to
question it, and glad, too, of the opportunity.
Lord Erskine called to-day. He means to carry down his reflections on
the war--or rather wars--to the present day. I trust that he will. Must
send to Mr. Murray to get the binding of my copy of his pamphlet
finished, as Lord E. has promised me to correct it, and add some
marginal notes to it. Any thing in his handwriting will be a treasure,
which will gather compound interest from years. Erskine has high
expectations of Mackintosh's promised History. Undoubtedly it must be a
classic, when finished. 
Sparred with Jackson again yesterday morning, and shall to-morrow. I
feel all the better for it, in spirits, though my arms and shoulders are
very stiff from it. Mem. to attend the pugilistic dinner:--Marquess
Huntley  is in the chair.
Lord Erskine thinks that ministers must be in peril of going out. So
much the better for him. To me it is the same who are in or out;--we
want something more than a change of ministers, and some day we will
I remember, in riding from Chrisso to Castri (Delphos), along the sides
of Parnassus, I saw six eagles in the air. It is uncommon to see so many
together; and it was the number--not the species, which is common
enough--that excited my attention.
The last bird I ever fired at was an _eaglet_, on the shore of the Gulf
of Lepanto, near Vostitza. It was only wounded, and I tried to save it,
the eye was so bright; but it pined, and died in a few days; and I never
did since, and never will, attempt the death of another bird. I wonder
what put these two things into my head just now? I have been reading
Sismondi, and there is nothing there that could induce the recollection.
I am mightily taken with Braccio di Montone, Giovanni Galeazzo, and
Eccelino. But the last is _not_ Bracciaferro (of the same name), Count
of Ravenna, whose history I want to trace. There is a fine engraving in
Lavater, from a picture by Fuseli, of _that_ Ezzelin, over the body of
Meduna, punished by him for a _hitch_ in her constancy during his
absence in the Crusades. He was right--but I want to know the story. 
[Footnote 1: Philip Yorke, third Earl of Hardwicke, married, in 1782,
Elizabeth, daughter of the fifth Earl of Balcarres.]
[Footnote 2: Louisa Emma, daughter of the second Earl of Ilchester, was
married, in 1808, to the Marquis of Lansdowne, at that time Lord Henry
[Footnote 3: Katherine Sophia, daughter of John Manners, of Grantham
Grange, co. Lincoln, was married, in 1793, to Sir Gilbert Heathcote.]
[Footnote 4: Machiavelli's 'Opere', 13 vols., 'in russia, Milan' (1804);
Sismondi's 'De la Littérature du Midi', 4 vols., 'in russia', Paris
(1813); and Chardin's 'Voyages en Perse', 10 vols. and Atlas (1811),
appear in the Catalogue of Sale.]
"It is no slight consolation to us, while suffering under alternate
reproaches for ill-timed severity, and injudicious praise, to reflect
that no very mischievous effects have as yet resulted to the
literature of the country, from this imputed misbehaviour on our part.
Powerful genius, we are persuaded, will not be repressed even by
unjust castigation; nor will the most excessive praise that can be
lavished by sincere admiration ever abate the efforts that are fitted
to attain to excellence. Our alleged severity upon a youthful
production has not prevented the noble author from becoming the first
poet of his time."
'Edinburgh Review', vol. xxii. p. 416.]
[Footnote 6: Mackintosh wrote (1) a 'History of England' for Lardner's
'Cabinet Cyclopaedia' (1830); (2) a 'History of the Revolution in
[Footnote 7: Afterwards fifth, and last, Duke of Gordon. He died in May,
"Fuseli's picture of Ezzelin Bracciaferro musing over Meduna, slain by
him for disloyalty during his absence in the Holy Land, was exhibited
at the Royal Academy in 1780. Mr. Knowles, in his 'Life' of the
painter, relates the following anecdote: 'Fuseli frequently invented
the subject of his pictures without the aid of the poet or historian,
as in his composition of Ezzelin, Belisaire, and some others: these he
denominated "philosophical ideas intuitive, or sentiment personified."
On one occasion he was much amused by the following inquiry of Lord
Byron: "I have been looking in vain, Mr. Fuseli, for some months, in
the poets and historians of Italy, for the subject of your picture of
Ezzelin: pray where is it to be found?" "Only in my brain, my Lord,"
was the answer: "for I invented it"' (vol. i. p. 403)" (Moore).]
* * * * *
Tuesday, March 22.
Last night, _party_ at Lansdowne House. To-night, _party_ at Lady
Charlotte Greville's --deplorable waste of time, and something of
temper. Nothing imparted--nothing acquired--talking without ideas:--if
any thing like _thought_ in my mind, it was not on the subjects on which
we were gabbling. Heigho!--and in this way half London pass what is
called life. To-morrow there is Lady Heathcote's--shall I go? yes--to
punish myself for not having a pursuit.
Let me see--what did I see? The only person who much struck me was Lady
S--d's [Stafford's] eldest daughter, Lady C. L.  [Charlotte Leveson].
They say she is _not_ pretty. I don't know--every thing is pretty that
pleases; but there is an air of _soul_ about her--and her colour
changes--and there is that shyness of the antelope (which I delight in)
in her manner so much, that I observed her more than I did any other
woman in the rooms, and only looked at any thing else when I thought she
might perceive and feel embarrassed by my scrutiny. After all, there may
be something of association in this. She is a friend of Augusta's, and
whatever she loves I can't help liking.
Her mother, the Marchioness, talked to me a little; and I was twenty
times on the point of asking her to introduce me to _sa fille_, but I
stopped short. This comes of that affray with the Carlisles.
Earl Grey told me laughingly of a paragraph in the last _Moniteur_,
which has stated, among other symptoms of rebellion, some particulars of
the _sensation_ occasioned in all our government gazettes by the "tear"
lines,--_only_ amplifying, in its re-statement, an epigram (by the by,
no epigram except in the _Greek_ acceptation of the word) into a
_roman_. I wonder the _Couriers_, etc., etc., have not translated that
part of the _Moniteur_, with additional comments. 
The Princess of Wales has requested Fuseli to paint from 'The
Corsair'--leaving to him the choice of any passage for the subject: so
Mr. Locke tells me. Tired, jaded, selfish, and supine--must go to bed.
_Roman_, at least _Romance_, means a song sometimes, as in the Spanish.
I suppose this is the _Moniteur's_ meaning, unless he has confused it
with 'The Corsair'.
[Footnote 1: Daughter of William Henry Cavendish, third Duke of
Portland, married, in 1793, to Charles Greville.]
[Footnote 2: Afterwards Countess of Surrey.]
"Londres le 9 Mars... On vient de publier une caricature insolente et
grossiere centre le mariage projeté (de la Princesse de Galles) et
centre le Prince d'Orange. En commentant cette gravure, le 'Town Talk'
a osé avancer que la Princesse Charlotte détestait son époux futur, et
que ses véritables affections étaient sacrifices à des vues
politiques. Le Lord Byron a fait de ce bruit populaire le sujet d'une
'Moniteur', 17 Mars, 1814.]
* * * * *
Albany, March 28.
This night got into my new apartments,  rented of Lord Althorpe, on a
lease of seven years. Spacious, and room for my books and sabres. _In_
the _house_, too, another advantage. The last few days, or whole week,
have been very abstemious, regular in exercise, and yet very _un_well.
Yesterday, dined _tête-à-tête_ at the Cocoa with Scrope Davies--sat from
six till midnight--drank between us one bottle of champagne and six of
claret, neither of which wines ever affect me. Offered to take Scrope
home in my carriage; but he was tipsy and pious, and I was obliged to
leave him on his knees praying to I know not what purpose or pagod. No
headach, nor sickness, that night nor to-day. Got up, if any thing,
earlier than usual--sparred with Jackson _ad sudorem_, and have been
much better in health than for many days. I have heard nothing more from
Scrope. Yesterday paid him four thousand eight hundred pounds, a debt of
some standing, and which I wished to have paid before. My mind is much
relieved by the removal of that _debit_.
Augusta wants me to make it up with Carlisle. I have refused _every_
body else, but I can't deny her any thing;--so I must e'en do it, though
I had as lief "drink up Eisel--eat a crocodile."  Let me see--Ward,
the Hollands, the Lambs, Rogers, etc., etc.,--every body, more or less,
have been trying for the last two years to accommodate this _couplet_
quarrel, to no purpose. I shall laugh if Augusta succeeds.
Redde a little of many things--shall get in all my books to-morrow.
Luckily this room will hold them--with "ample room and verge, etc., the
characters of hell to trace."  I must set about some employment soon;
my heart begins to eat _itself_ again.
[Footnote 1: In 1804 Albany House, in Piccadilly, long occupied by the
Duke of York and Albany, was converted into sets of bachelor chambers,
and the gardens behind were also built over with additional suites of
rooms. Byron's were in the original house on the ground floor, No. 2.
Moore, writing to Rogers, April 12, 1814 ('Memoirs, etc'., vol. viii. p.
"Lord Byron, as you know, has removed into Albany, and lives in an
apartment, I should think thirty by forty feet."]
[Footnote 2: 'Hamlet', act v. sc. 1, line 299.]
"Give ample room, and verge enough
The characters of hell to trace."
Gray, 'The Bard', lines 51, 52.]
* * * * *
Out of town six days. On my return, found my poor little pagod,
Napoleon, pushed off his pedestal;--the thieves are in Paris. It is his
own fault. Like Milo, he would rend the oak;  but it closed again,
wedged his hands, and now the beasts--lion, bear, down to the dirtiest
jackal--may all tear him. That Muscovite winter _wedged_ his arms;--ever
since, he has fought with his feet and teeth. The last may still leave
their marks; and "I guess now" (as the Yankees say) that he will yet
play them a pass. He is in their rear--between them and their homes.
Query--will they ever reach them?
[Footnote 1: He adopted this thought afterwards in his 'Ode to
Napoleon', as well as most of the historical examples in the following
"He who of old would rend the oak,
Dream'd not of the rebound;
Chain'd by the trunk he vainly broke--
Alone--how look'd he round?"]
* * * * *
Saturday, April 9, 1814.
I mark this day!
Napoleon Buonaparte has abdicated the throne of the world. "Excellent
well." Methinks Sylla did better; for he revenged and resigned in the
height of his sway, red with the slaughter of his foes--the finest
instance of glorious contempt of the rascals upon record. Dioclesian did
well too--Amurath not amiss, had he become aught except a
dervise--Charles the Fifth but so so--but Napoleon, worst of all. What!
wait till they were in his capital, and then talk of his readiness to
give up what is already gone!! "What whining monk art thou--what holy
cheat?"  'Sdeath!--Dionysius at Corinth was yet a king to this. The
"Isle of Elba" to retire to!--Well--if it had been Caprea, I should have
marvelled less. "I see men's minds are but a parcel of their fortunes."
 I am utterly bewildered and confounded.
I don't know--but I think _I_, even _I_ (an insect compared with this
creature), have set my life on casts not a millionth part of this man's.
But, after all, a crown may be not worth dying for. Yet, to outlive
_Lodi_ for this!!!
Oh that Juvenal or Johnson could rise from the dead! _Expende--quot
libras in duce summo invenies_?  I knew they were light in the
balance of mortality; but I thought their living dust weighed more
_carats_.  Alas! this imperial diamond hath a flaw in it, and is now
hardly fit to stick in a glazier's pencil:--the pen of the historian
won't rate it worth a ducat.
Psha! "something too much of this."  But I won't give him up even
now; though all his admirers have, "like the thanes, fallen from him."
[Footnote 1: In Otway's 'Venice Preserved' (act iv. sc. 2), Pierre says
to Jaffier, who had betrayed him:
"What whining monk art thou? What holy cheat?
That would'st encroach upon my credulous ears,
And cant'st thus vilely! Hence! I know thee not!"]
"I see, men's judgements are a parcel of their fortunes."
'Antony and Cleopatra', act iii. sc. II, line 32.]
"Expende Hannibalem: quot libras in duce summo
Juvenal, 'Sat'. x. 147.
"Produce the urn that Hannibal contains,
And weigh the mighty dust which yet remains:
'And is this all?'"
Gifford's 'Juvenal' (ed. 1802), vol. ii. pp. 338, 339.]
"In the Statistical Account of Scotland, I find that Sir John Paterson
had the curiosity to collect, and weigh, the ashes of a person
discovered a few years since in the parish of Eccles. Wonderful to
relate, he found the whole did not exceed in weight one ounce and a
half! 'And is this all'!"
Gifford's 'Juvenal, ut supra'.]
[Footnote 5: 'Hamlet', act iii. sc. 2.]
[Footnote 6: 'Macbeth', act v. sc. 3,
"Doctor, the thanes fly from me!"]
* * * * *
I do not know that I am happiest when alone; but this I am sure of, that
I never am long in the society even of _her_ I love, (God knows too
well, and the devil probably too,) without a yearning for the company of
my lamp and my utterly confused and tumbled-over library. Even in the
day, I send away my carriage oftener than I use or abuse it. _Per
esempio_,--I have not stirred out of these rooms for these four days
past: but I have sparred for exercise (windows open) with Jackson an
hour daily, to attenuate and keep up the ethereal part of me. The more
violent the fatigue, the better my spirits for the rest of the day; and
then, my evenings have that calm nothingness of languor, which I most
delight in. To-day I have boxed an hour--written an ode to Napoleon
Buonaparte--copied it--eaten six biscuits--drunk four bottles of soda
water --redde away the rest of my time--besides giving poor [?
Webster] a world of advice about this mistress of his, who is plaguing
him into a phthisic and intolerable tediousness. I am a pretty fellow
truly to lecture about "the sect." No matter, my counsels are all thrown
[Footnote 1: The following is one of Byron's bills for soda water:
Lord Byron to R. Shipwash, 27 St. Albans St.
1814-- s. d.
4 Octr. 2 Doz. Soda Water 11 0
7 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
13 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
20 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
25 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
30 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
9 Decr. 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
14 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
17 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
22 " 2 Doz. do. do. 11 0
6 1 0
[overstrike 1 7 6]
[overstrike 4 13 6]
25th Decr. 1814
Recd. R. Shipwash.
* * * * *
April 19, 1814.
There is ice at both poles, north and south--all extremes are the
same--misery belongs to the highest and the lowest only, to the emperor
and the beggar, when unsixpenced and unthroned. There is, to be sure, a
damned insipid medium--an equinoctial line--no one knows where, except
upon maps and measurement.
"And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death." 
I will keep no further journal of that same hesternal torch-light; and,
to prevent me from returning, like a dog, to the vomit of memory, I tear
out the remaining leaves of this volume, and write, in _Ipecacuanha_,
--"that the Bourbons are restored!!!"--"Hang up philosophy."  To be
sure, I have long despised myself and man, but I never spat in the face
of my species before--"O fool! I shall go mad." 
[Footnote 1: 'Macbeth', act v. sc. 5, line 22.]
[Footnote 2: 'Romeo and Juliet', act iii. sc. 3.]
[Footnote 3: 'King Lear', act ii. sc. 4.]
* * * * *
ARTICLES FROM 'THE MONTHLY REVIEW'.
1. 'POEMS', BY W. R. SPENCER. (VOL. 67, 1812, PP. 54-60.)
Art. VII. Poems by William Robert Spencer. 8vo. 10s. Boards. Cadell and
The author of this well-printed volume has more than once been
introduced to our readers, and is known to rank among that class of
poetical persons who have never been highly favoured by stern criticism.
The "mob of gentlemen who write with ease" has indeed of late years
(like other mobs) become so importunate, as to threaten an alarming
rivalry to the regular body of writers who are not fortunate enough to
be either easy or genteel. Hence the jaundiced eye with which the real
author regards the red Morocco binding of the presumptuous
"Littérateur;" we say, _the binding_, for into the book itself he cannot
condescend to look, at least not beyond the frontispiece.--Into Mr.
Spencer's volume, however, he may dip farther, and will find sufficient
to give him pleasure or pain, in proportion to his own candour. It
consists chiefly of "_Vers de Société_," calculated to prove very
delightful to a large circle of fashionable acquaintance, and pleasing
to a limited number of vulgar purchasers. These last, indeed, may be
rude enough to expect something more for their specie during the present
scarcity of change, than lines to "Young Poets and Poetesses," "Epitaphs
upon Years," Poems "to my Grammatical Niece," "Epistle from Sister Dolly
in Cascadia to Sister Tanny in Snowdonia," etc.: but we doubt not that a
long list of persons of quality, wit, and honour, "in town and country,"
who are here addressed, will be highly pleased with themselves and with
the poet who has _shewn them off_ in a very handsome volume: as will
doubtless the "Butterfly at the end of Winter," provided that he is
fortunate enough to survive the present inclemencies. We are, however,
by no means convinced that the Bellman will relish Mr. S.'s usurpation
of a "Christmas Carol;" which looks so very like his own, that we advise
him immediately to put in his claim, and it will be universally allowed.
With the exception of these and similar productions, the volume contains
poems eminently beautiful; some which have been already published, and
others that are well worthy of present publication. Of "Leonora," with
which it opens, we made our report many years ago (in vol. xx. N.S. p.
451): but our readers, perhaps, will not be sorry to see another short
extract. We presume that they are well acquainted with the story, and
therefore select one of the central passages:
"See, where fresh blood-gouts mat the green,
Yon wheel its reeking points advance;
There, by the moon's wan light half seen,
Grim ghosts of tombless murderers dance.
'Come, spectres of the guilty dead,
With us your goblin morris ply,
Come all in festive dance to tread,
Ere on the bridal couch we lie.'
"Forward th' obedient phantoms push,
Their trackless footsteps rustle near,
In sound like autumn winds that rush
Through withering oak or beech-wood sere.
With lightning's force the courser flies,
Earth shakes his thund'ring hoofs beneath,
Dust, stones, and sparks, in whirlwind rise,
And horse and horseman heave for breath.
"Swift roll the moon-light scenes away,
Hills chasing hills successive fly;
E'en stars that pave th' eternal way,
Seem shooting to a backward sky.
'Fear'st thou, my love? the moon shines clear;
Hurrah! how swiftly speed the dead!
The dead does Leonora fear?
Oh God! oh leave, oh leave the dead!'"
Such a specimen of "the Terrible" will place the merit of the poem in a
proper point of view: but we do not think that some of the alterations
in this copy of Leonora are altogether so judicious as Mr. S.'s
well-known taste had led us to expect. "Reviving Friendship" (p. 5) is
perhaps less expressive than "Relenting," as it once stood; and the
phrase, "ten thousand _furlowed_ heroes" ('ibid'.), throws a new light
on the heroic character. It is extremely proper that heroes should have
"furlows," since school-boys have holidays, and lawyers have long
vacations: but we very much question whether young gentlemen of the
scholastic, legal, or heroic calling, would be flattered by any epithet
derived from the relaxation of their respectable pursuits. We should
feel some hesitation in telling an interesting youth, of any given
battalion from Portugal, that he was a "furlowed hero," lest he should
prove to us that his "furlow" had by no means impaired his "heroism."
The old epithet, "war-worn," was more adapted to heroism and to poetry;
and, if we mistake not, it has very recently been superseded by an
epithet which precludes "otium cum dignitate" from the soldier, without
imparting either ease or dignity to the verse. Why is "horse and
horsemen _pant_ for breath" changed to "_heave_ for breath," unless for
the alliteration of the too tempting aspirate? "Heaving" is appropriate
enough to coals and to sighs, but "panting" _belongs_ to successful
lovers and spirited horses; and why should Mr. S.'s horse and horseman
not have panted as heretofore?
The next poem in arrangement as well as in merit is the "Year of
Sorrow;" to which we offered a tribute of praise in our 45th vol. N.S.
p. 288.--We are sorry to observe that the compliment paid to Mr.
Wedgewood by a "late traveller" (see note, p. 50), viz. that "an
Englishman in journeying from Calais to Ispahan may have his dinner
served every day on Wedgewood's ware," is no longer a matter of fact. It
has lately been the good or evil fortune of one of our travelling
department to pass near to Calais, and to have journeyed through divers
Paynim lands to no very remote distance from Ispahan; and neither in the
palace of the Pacha nor in the caravanserai of the traveller, nor in the
hut of the peasant, was he so favoured as to masticate his pilaff from
that fashionable service. Such is, in this and numerous other instances,
the altered state of the continent and of Europe, since the annotation
of the "late traveller;" and on the authority of a _later_, we must
report that the ware has been all broken since the former passed that
way. We wish that we could efficiently exhort Mr. Wedgewood to send out
a fresh supply, on all the _turnpike roads_ by the route of Bagdad, for
the convenience of the "latest travellers."
Passing over the "Chorus from Euripides," which might as well have slept
in quiet with the rest of the author's school-exercises, we come to "the
Visionary," which we gladly extract as a very elegant specimen of the
"When midnight o'er the moonless skies
Her pall of transient death has spread,
When mortals sleep, when spectres rise,
And nought is wakeful but the dead!
"No bloodless shape my way pursues,
No sheeted ghost my couch annoys.
Visions more sad my fancy views,
Visions of long departed joys!
"The shade of youthful hope is there,
That linger'd long, and latest died;
Ambition all dissolved to air,
With phantom honours at her side.
"What empty shadows glimmer nigh!
They once were friendship, truth, and love!
Oh, die to thought, to mem'ry die,
Since lifeless to my heart ye prove!"
We cannot forbear adding the beautiful stanzas in pages 166, 167:
"To THE LADY ANNE HAMILTON.
"Too late I staid, forgive the crime,
Unheeded flew the hours;
How noiseless falls the foot of Time,
That only treads on flow'rs!
"What eye with clear account remarks
The ebbing of his glass,
When all its sands are di'mond sparks,
That dazzle as they pass?
"Ah! who to sober measurement
Time's happy swiftness brings,
When birds of Paradise have lent
Their plumage for his wings?"
The far greater part of the volume, however, contains pieces which can
be little gratifying to the public:--some are pretty; and all are
besprinkled with "gems," and "roses," and "birds," and "diamonds," and
such like cheap poetical adornments, as are always to be obtained at no
great expense of thought or of metre.--It is happy for the author that
these _bijoux_ are presented to persons of high degree; countesses,
foreign and domestic; "Maids of Honour to Louisa Landgravine of Hesse
D'Armstadt;" Lady Blank, and Lady Asterisk, besides---, and---, and
others anonymous; who are exactly the kind of people to be best pleased
with these sparkling, shining, fashionable trifles. We will solace our
readers with three stanzas of the soberest of these odes:
"ADDRESSED TO LADY SUSAN FINCASTLE, NOW COUNTESS OF DUNMORE.
"What ails you, Fancy? you're become
Colder than Truth, than Reason duller!
Your wings are worn, your chirping's dumb,
And ev'ry plume has lost its colour.
"You droop like geese, whose cacklings cease
When dire St. Michael they remember,
Or like some _bird_ who just has heard
That Fin's preparing for September?
"Can you refuse your sweetest spell
When I for Susan's praise invoke you?
What, sulkier still? you pout and swell
As if that lovely name would choke you."
We are to suppose that "Fin preparing for September" is the lady with
whose "lovely name" Fancy runs some risk of being "choked;" and, really,
if _killing partridges_ formed a part of her Ladyship's accomplishments,
both "Fancy" and Feeling were in danger of a quinsey. Indeed, the whole
of these stanzas are couched in that most exquisite irony, in which Mr.
S. has more than once succeeded. All the songs to "persons of quality"
seem to be written on that purest model, "the song by a person of
quality;" whose stanzas have not been fabricated in vain. This sedulous
imitation extends even to the praise of things inanimate:
"When an Eden zephyr hovers
O'er a slumb'ring cherub's lyre,
Or when sighs of seraph lovers
Breathe upon th' unfinger'd wire."
If namby-pamby still leads to distinction, Mr. S., like Ambrose
Phillips, will be "preferred for wit."
"Heav'n must hear--a bloom more tender
Seems to tint the wreath of May,
Lovelier beams the noon-day splendour,
Brighter dew-drops gem the spray!
"Is the breath of angels moving
O'er each flow'ret's heighten'd hue?
Are their smiles the day improving,
Have their tears enrich'd the dew?"
Here we have "angels' tears," and "breath," and "smiles," and "Eden
zephyrs," "sighs of seraph lovers," and "lyres of slumbering cherubs,"
dancing away to "the Pedal Harp!" How strange it is that Thomson, in his
stanzas on the Æolian lyre (see the 'Castle of Indolence'), never
dreamed of such things, but left all these prettinesses to the last of
One of the best pieces in the volume is an "Epistle to T. Moore, Esq.,"
which though disfigured with "Fiends on sulphur nurst," and "_Hell's
chillest Winter_" ("poor Tom's a'-cold!"), and some other vagaries of
the same sort, forms a pleasant specimen of poetical friendship.--We
give the last ten lines:
"The triflers think your varied powers
Made only for life's gala bow'rs,
To smooth Reflection's mentor-frown,
Or Pillow joy on softer down.--
Fools!--yon blest orb not only glows
To chase the cloud, or paint the rose;
_These_ are the pastimes of his might,
Earth's torpid bosom drinks his light;
Find there his wondrous pow'r's true measure,
Death turn'd to life, and dross to treasure!"
We have now arrived at Mr. Spencer's French and Italian poesy; the
former of which is written sometimes in new and sometimes in old French,
and, occasionally, in a kind of tongue neither old nor new. We offer a
sample of the two former:
"'QU'EST CE QUE C'EST QUE LE GENIE?'
"Brillant est cet esprit privé de sentiment;
Mais ce n'est qu'un soleil trop vif et trop constant,
Tendre est ce sentiment qu' aucun esprit n'anime,
Mais ce n'est qu'un jour doux, que trop de pluie abime!
Quand un brillant esprit de ses rares couleurs,
Orne du sentiment les aimables douleurs,
Un _Phenomêne_ en nait, le plus beau de la vie!
C'est alors que les ris en se mélant aux pleurs,
Font ces _Iris de l'ame_, appellê le Genie!"
"C'y gist un povre menestrel,
Occis par maint ennuict cruel--
Ne plains pas trop sa destinée--
N'est icy que son corps mortel:
Son ame est toujours à Gillwell,
Et n'est ce pas là l'Elyséé?"
We think that Mr. Spencer's Italian rhymes are better finished than his
French; and indeed the facility of composing in that most poetical of
all languages must be obvious: but, as a composer in Italian, he and all
other Englishmen are much inferior to Mr. Mathias. It is very
perceptible in many of Mr. S.'s smaller pieces that he has suffered his
English versification to be vitiated with Italian 'concetti'; and we
should have been better pleased with his compositions in a foreign
language, had they not induced him to corrupt his mother-tongue. Still
we would by no means utterly proscribe these excursions into other
languages; though they remind us occasionally of that aspiring Frenchman
who placed in his grounds the following inscription in honour of
Shenstone and the Leasowes:
"See this stone
For William Shenstone--
Who planted groves rural,
And wrote verse natural!"
The above lines were displayed by the worthy proprietor, in the pride of
his heart, to all English travellers, as a tribute of respect for the
resemblance of his paternal chateau to the Leasowes, and a striking
coincidence between Shenstone's versification and his own.--We do not
mean to insinuate that Mr. Spencer's French verses ("_Cy gist un povre
menestrel,"_ with an Urn inscribed W. R. S. at the top) are _precisely_
a return in kind for the quatrain above quoted: but we place it as a
beacon to all young gentlemen of poetical propensities on the French
Parnassus. Few would proceed better on the Gallic Pegasus, than the
Anglo-troubadour on ours.
We now take our leave of Mr. Spencer, without being blind to his errors
or insensible to his merits. As a poet, he may be placed rather below
Mr. Moore and somewhat above Lord Strangford; and if his volume meet
with half their number of purchasers, he will have no reason to complain
either of our judgment or of his own success.
* * * * *
ARTICLES FROM THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
2. NEGLECTED GENIUS, BY W.H. IRELAND.
(VOL. 70, 1813, PP. 203-205.)
Art. XV. 'Neglected Genius:' a Poem. Illustrating the untimely and
unfortunate Fall of many British Poets; from the Period of Henry VIII.
to the Æra of the unfortunate Chatterton. Containing Imitations of their
different Styles, etc., etc. By W.H. Ireland, Author of the
'Fisher-Soy', 'Sailor-Boy', 'Cottage-Girl', etc., etc., etc. 8vo. pp.
175. 8s. Boards. Sherwood & Co. 1812.
This volume, professing in a moderately long title-page to be
"illustrative of the untimely and unfortunate fate of _many_ British
Poets," might with great propriety include the author among the number;
for if his "imitations of their different styles" resemble the
originals, the consequent starvation of "many British poets" is a doom
which is calculated to excite pity rather than surprize. The book opens
with a dedication to the present, and a Monody on the late Duke of
Devonshire (one of the neglected bards, we presume, on whom the author
holds his inquest), in which it were difficult to say whether the
"enlightened understanding" of the living or the "intellect" of the
deceased nobleman is more justly appreciated or more elegantly
eulogized. Lest the Monody should be mistaken for anything but itself,
of which there was little danger, it is dressed in marginal mourning,
like a dying speech, or an American Gazette after a defeat. The
following is a specimen--the poet is addressing the Duchess:
"Chaste widow'd Mourner, still with tears bedew
That sacred Urn, which can imbue
Thy worldly thoughts, thus kindling mem'ry's glow:
Each retrospective virtue, fadeless beam,
Embalms thy _Truth_ in heavenly dream,
To soothe the bosom's agonizing woe.
"Yet soft--more poignantly to wake the soul,
And ev'ry pensive thought controul,
Truth shall with energy his worth proclaim;
Here I'll record his _philanthropic mind_,
Eager to bless all human kind,
Yet _modest shrinking_ from the voice of _Fame_.
"As _Patriot_ view him shun the courtly crew,
And dauntless ever keep in view
That bright palladium, England's dear renown.
The people's Freedom and the Monarch's good,
Purchas'd with Patriotic blood,
The surest safeguard of the state and crown.
"Or now behold his glowing soul extend,
To shine the polish'd social _friend_;
His country's _matchless Prince_ his worth rever'd;
_Gigantic Fox_, true Freedom's darling child,
By kindred excellence beguil'd,
To lasting _amity_ the temple rear'd.
"As _Critic_ chaste, his judgment could explore
The beauties of poetic lore,
Or classic strains mellifluent infuse;
Yet glowing genius and expanded sense
Were crown'd with _innate diffidence_,
The sure attendant of a genuine muse."
Page 9 contains, forsooth, a very correct imitation of Milton:
"To thee, gigantic genius, next I'll sound;
The clarion string, and fill fame's vasty round;
'Tis _Milton_ beams upon the wond'ring sight,
Rob'd in the splendour of Apollo's light;
As when from ocean bursting on the view,
His orb dispenses ev'ry brilliant hue,
Crowns with resplendent gold th' horizon wide,
And cloathes with countless gems the buoyant tide;
While through the boundless realms of æther blaze,
On spotless azure, streamy saffron rays:--
So o'er the world of genius _Milton_ shone,
Profound in science--as the bard--alone."
We must not pass over the imitative specimen of "Nahum Tate," because in
this the author approximates nearest to the style of his original:
"Friend of great _Dryden_, though of humble fame,
The Laureat Tate, shall here record his name;
Whose sorrowing numbers breath'd a nation's pain,
When death from mortal to immortal reign
Translated royal _Anne_, our island's boast,
Victorious sov'reign, dread of Gallia's host;
Whose arms by land and sea with fame were crown'd,
Whose statesmen grave for wisdom were renown'd,
Whose reign with science dignifies the page;
Bright noon of genius--_great Augustan age_.
Such was thy Queen, and such th' illustrious time
That nurs'd thy muse, and tun'd thy soul to rhyme;
Yet wast thou fated sorrow's shaft to bear,
Augmenting still this catalogue of care;
The gripe of penury thy bosom knew,
A gloomy jail obscur'd bright freedom's view;
So life's gay visions faded to thy sight,
Thy brilliant hopes enscarf'd in sorrow's night."
Where did Mr. Ireland learn that _hold fast_ and _ballâst_, _stir_ and
_hungêr_, _please_ and _kidnêys_, _plane_ and _capstâne_, _expose_ and
_windôws_, _forgot_ and _pilôt_, _sail on_ _and Deucalôn!_ (Lemprière
would have saved him a scourging at school by telling him that there was
an _i_ in the word), were legitimate Hudibrastic rhymes? (see pp. 116,
etc.). Chatterton is a great favourite of this imitative gentleman; and
Bristol, where he appears to have been held in no greater estimation
than Mr. Ireland himself deserves, is much vituperated in some sad
couplets, seemingly for this reason, "All for love, and a little for the
bottle," as Bannister's song runs,--"All for Chatterton, and a little
for myself," thinks Mr. Ireland.
The notes communicate, among other novelties, the new title of "Sir
Horace" to the Honourable H. Walpole: surely a perusal of the life of
the unfortunate boy, whose fate Mr. I. deplores, might have prevented
this piece of ignorance, twice repeated in the same page; and we wonder
at the malicious fun of the printer's devil in permitting it to stand,
for _he_ certainly knew better. We must be excused from a more detailed
notice of Mr. Ireland for the present; and indeed we hope to hear no
more of his lamentations, very sure that none but reviewers ever will
peruse them: unless, perhaps, the unfortunate persons of quality whom he
may henceforth single out as proper victims of future dedication. Though
his dedications are enough to kill the living, his anticipated monodies,
on the other hand, must add considerably to the natural dread of death
in such of his patrons as may be liable to common sense or to chronic
* * * * *
1. DEBATE ON THE FRAME-WORK BILL, IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, FEBRUARY 27,
The order of the day for the second reading of this Bill being read,
Lord BYRON rose, and (for the first time) addressed their Lordships as
My Lords,--The subject now submitted to your Lordships for the first
time, though new to the House, is by no means new to the country. I
believe it had occupied the serious thoughts of all descriptions of
persons, long before its introduction to the notice of that legislature,
whose interference alone could be of real service. As a person in some
degree connected with the suffering county, though a stranger not only
to this House in general, but to almost every individual whose attention
I presume to solicit, I must claim some portion of your Lordships'
indulgence, whilst I offer a few observations on a question in which I
confess myself deeply interested.
To enter into any detail of the riots would be superfluous: the House is
already aware that every outrage short of actual bloodshed has been
perpetrated, and that the proprietors of the frames obnoxious to the
rioters, and all persons supposed to be connected with them, have been
liable to insult and violence. During the short time I recently passed
in Nottinghamshire, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of
violence; and on the day I left the county I was informed that forty
frames had been broken the preceding evening, as usual, without
resistance and without detection.
Such was then the state of that county, and such I have reason to
believe it to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be
admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they
have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: the
perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings tends to prove
that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once
honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of
excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community.
At the time to which I allude, the town and county were burdened with
large detachments of the military; the police was in motion, the
magistrates assembled; yet all the movements, civil and military, had
led to--nothing. Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension
of any real delinquent actually taken in the fact, against whom there
existed legal evidence sufficient for conviction. But the police,
however useless, were by no means idle: several notorious delinquents
had been detected,--men, liable to conviction, on the clearest
evidence, of the capital crime of poverty; men, who had been nefariously
guilty of lawfully begetting several children, whom, thanks to the
times! they were unable to maintain. Considerable injury has been done
to the proprietors of the improved frames. These machines were to them
an advantage, inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a
number of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the
adoption of one species of frame in particular, one man performed the
work of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of
employment. Yet it is to be observed, that the work thus executed was
inferior in quality; not marketable at home, and merely hurried over
with a view to exportation. It was called, in the cant of the trade, by
the name of "Spider-work." The rejected workmen, in the blindness of
their ignorance, instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so
beneficial to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to
improvements in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts they
imagined that the maintenance and well-doing of the industrious poor
were objects of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few
individuals by any improvement, in the implements of trade, which threw
the workmen out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his
hire. And it must be confessed that although the adoption of the
enlarged machinery in that state of our commerce which the country once
boasted might have been beneficial to the master without being
detrimental to the servant; yet, in the present situation of our
manufactures, rotting in warehouses, without a prospect of exportation,
with the demand for work and workmen equally diminished, frames of this
description tend materially to aggravate the distress and discontent of
the disappointed sufferers. But the real cause of these distresses and
consequent disturbances lies deeper. When we are told that these men are
leagued together not only for the destruction of their own comfort, but
of their very means of subsistence, can we forget that it is the bitter
policy, the destructive warfare of the last eighteen years, which has
destroyed their comfort, your comfort, all men's comfort? that policy,
which, originating with "great statesmen now no more," has survived the
dead to become a curse on the living, unto the third and fourth
generation! These men never destroyed their looms till they were become
useless, worse than useless; till they were become actual impediments to
their exertions in obtaining their daily bread. Can you, then, wonder
that in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted fraud, and imputed
felony are found in a station not far beneath that of your Lordships,
the lowest, though once most useful portion of the people, should forget
their duty in their distresses, and become only less guilty than one of
their representatives? But while the exalted offender can find means to
baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of
death must be spread for the wretched mechanic, who is famished into
guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands:
they were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them: their
own means of subsistence were cut off, all other employments
pre-occupied; and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned,
can hardly be subject of surprise.
It has been stated that the persons in the temporary possession of
frames connive at their destruction; if this be proved upon inquiry, it
were necessary that such material accessories to the crime should be
principals in the punishment. But I did hope, that any measure proposed
by his Majesty's government for your Lordships' decision, would have had
conciliation for its basis; or, if that were hopeless, that some
previous inquiry, some deliberation, would have been deemed requisite;
not that we should have been called at once, without examination and
without cause, to pass sentences by wholesale, and sign death-warrants
blindfold. But, admitting that these men had no cause of complaint; that
the grievances of them and their employers were alike groundless; that
they deserved the worst;--what inefficiency, what imbecility has been
evinced in the method chosen to reduce them! Why were the military
called out to be made a mockery of, if they were to be called out at
all? As far as the difference of seasons would permit, they have merely
parodied the summer campaign of Major Sturgeon; and, indeed, the whole
proceedings, civil and military, seemed on the model of those of the
mayor and corporation of Garratt.--Such marchings and countermarchings!
--from Nottingham to Bullwell, from Bullwell to Banford, from Banford to
Mansfield! And when at length the detachments arrived at their
destination, in all "the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war,"
they came just in time to witness the mischief which had been done, and
ascertain the escape of the perpetrators, to collect the "'spolia
opima'" in the fragments of broken frames, and return to their quarters
amidst the derision of old women, and the hootings of children. Now,
though, in a free country, it were to be wished that our military should
never be too formidable, at least to ourselves, I cannot see the policy
of placing them in situations where they can only be made ridiculous. As
the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the
last. In this instance it has been the first; but providentially as yet
only in the scabbard. The present measure will, indeed, pluck it from
the sheath; yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of
these riots, had the grievances of these men and their masters (for they
also had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do
think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to
their avocations, and tranquillity to the county. At present the county
suffers from the double infliction of an idle military and a starving
population. In what state of apathy have we been plunged so long, that
now for the first time the House has been officially apprised of these
disturbances? All this has been transacting within 130 miles of London;
and yet we, "good easy men, have deemed full sure our greatness was
a-ripening," and have sat down to enjoy our foreign triumphs in the
midst of domestic calamity. But all the cities you have taken, all the
armies which have retreated before your leaders, are but paltry subjects
of self-congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your
dragoons and your executioners must be let loose against your
fellow-citizens.--You call these men a mob, desperate, dangerous, and
ignorant; and seem to think that the only way to quiet the "'Bellua
multorum capitum'" is to lop off a few of its superfluous heads. But
even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation
and firmness, than by additional irritation and redoubled penalties. Are
we aware of our obligations to a mob? It is the mob that labour in your
fields and serve in your houses,--that man your navy, and recruit your
army,--that have enabled you to defy all the world, and can also defy
you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair! You may call
the people a mob; but do not forget that a mob too often speaks the
sentiments of the people. And here I must remark, with what alacrity you
are accustomed to fly to the succour of your distressed allies, leaving
the distressed of your own country to the care of Providence or--the
parish. When the Portuguese suffered under the retreat of the French,
every arm was stretched out, every hand was opened, from the rich man's
largess to the widow's mite, all was bestowed, to enable them to rebuild
their villages and replenish their granaries. And at this moment, when
thousands of misguided but most unfortunate fellow-countrymen are
struggling with the extremes of hardships and hunger, as your charity
began abroad it should end at home. A much less sum, a tithe of the
bounty bestowed on Portugal, even if those men (which I cannot admit
without inquiry) could not have been restored to their employments,
would have rendered unnecessary the tender mercies of the bayonet and
the gibbet. But doubtless our friends have too many foreign claims to
admit a prospect of domestic relief; though never did such objects
demand it. I have traversed the seat of war in the Peninsula, I have
been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey; but never under
the most despotic of infidel governments did I behold such squalid
wretchedness as I have seen since my return in the very heart of a
Christian country. And what are your remedies? After months of inaction,
and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the
grand specific, the never-failing nostrum of all state physicians, from
the days of Draco to the present time. After feeling the pulse and
shaking the head over the patient, prescribing the usual course of warm
water and bleeding,--the warm water of your mawkish police, and the
lancets of your military,--these convulsions must terminate in death,
the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all political Sangrados.
Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the
Bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient in your statutes? Is
there not blood enough upon your penal code, that more must be poured
forth to ascend to Heaven and testify against you? How will you carry
the Bill into effect? Can you commit a whole county to their own
prisons? Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like
scarecrows? or will you proceed (as you must to bring this measure into
effect) by decimation? place the county under martial law? depopulate
and lay waste all around you? and restore Sherwood Forest as an
acceptable gift to the crown, in its former condition of a royal chase
and an asylum for outlaws? Are these the remedies for a starving and
desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your
bayonets be appalled by your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the
only relief it appears that you will afford him, will he be dragooned
into tranquillity? Will that which could not be effected by your
grenadiers be accomplished by your executioners? If you proceed by the
forms of law, where is your evidence?
Those who have refused to impeach their accomplices when transportation
only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them
when death is the penalty. With all due deference to the noble lords
opposite, I think a little investigation, some previous inquiry, would
induce even them to change their purpose. That most favourite state
measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances,
temporising, would not be without its advantages in this. When a
proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate
for years, you temporise and tamper with the minds of men; but a
death-bill must be passed off-hand, without a thought of the
consequences. Sure I am, from what I have heard, and from what I have
seen, that to pass the Bill under all the existing circumstances,
without inquiry, without deliberation, would only be to add injustice to
irritation, and barbarity to neglect. The framers of such a bill must be
content to inherit the honours of that Athenian law-giver whose edicts
were said to be written not in ink but in blood. But suppose it passed;
suppose one of these men, as I have seen them,--meagre with famine,
sullen with despair, careless of a life which your Lordships are perhaps
about to value at something less than the price of a stocking-frame;
--suppose this man surrounded by the children for whom he is unable to
procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn for ever
from a family which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which
it is not his fault that he can no longer so support;--suppose this
man--and there are ten thousand such from whom you may select your
victims--dragged into court, to be tried for this new offence, by this
new law; still, there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him;
and these are, in my opinion,--twelve butchers for a jury, and a
Jeffreys for a judge!
* * * * *
2. DEBATE ON THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE'S MOTION FOR A COMMITTEE ON THE
ROMAN CATHOLIC CLAIMS, APRIL 21, 1812.
[Byron's notes for a portion of his speech are in the possession of Mr.
Lord BYRON rose and said:
My Lords,--The question before the House has been so frequently, fully,
and ably discussed, and never perhaps more ably than on this night, that
it would be difficult to adduce new arguments for or against it. But
with each discussion difficulties have been removed, objections have
been canvassed and refuted, and some of the former opponents of Catholic
emancipation have at length conceded to the expediency of relieving the
petitioners. In conceding thus much, however, a new objection is
started; it is not the time, say they, or it is an improper time, or
there is time enough yet. In some degree I concur with those who say it
is not the time exactly; that time is past; better had it been for the
country that the Catholics possessed at this moment their proportion of
our privileges, that their nobles held their due weight in our councils,
than that we should be assembled to discuss their claims. It had indeed
"Non tempore tali
Cogere concilium cum muros obsidet hostis."
The enemy is without, and distress within. It is too late to cavil on
doctrinal points, when we must unite in defence of things more important
than the mere ceremonies of religion. It is indeed singular, that we are
called together to deliberate, not on the God we adore, for in that we
are agreed; not about the king we obey, for to him we are loyal; but how
far a difference in the ceremonials of worship, how far believing not
too little, but too much (the worst that can be imputed to the
Catholics), how far too much devotion to their God may incapacitate our
fellow-subjects from effectually serving their king.
Much has been said, within and without doors, of church and state; and
although those venerable words have been too often prostituted to the
most despicable of party purposes, we cannot hear them too often: all, I
presume, are the advocates of church and state,--the church of Christ,
and the state of Great Britain; but not a state of exclusion and
despotism; not an intolerant church; not a church militant, which
renders itself liable to the very objection urged against the Romish
communion, and in a greater degree, for the Catholic merely withholds
its spiritual benediction (and even that is doubtful), but our church,
or rather our churchmen, not only refuse to the Catholic their spiritual
grace, but all temporal blessings whatsoever. It was an observation of
the great Lord Peterborough, made within these walls, or within the
walls where the Lords then assembled, that he was for a "parliamentary
king and a parliamentary constitution, but not a parliamentary God and a
parliamentary religion." The interval of a century has not weakened the
force of the remark. It is indeed time that we should leave off these
petty cavils on frivolous points, these Lilliputian sophistries, whether
our "eggs are best broken at the broad or narrow end."
The opponents of the Catholics may be divided into two classes; those
who assert that the Catholics have too much already, and those who
allege that the lower orders, at least, have nothing more to require. We
are told by the former, that the Catholics never will be contented: by
the latter, that they are already too happy. The last paradox is
sufficiently refuted by the present as by all past petitions: it might
as well be said, that the negroes did not desire to be emancipated; but
this is an unfortunate comparison, for you have already delivered them
out of the house of bondage without any petition on their part, but many
from their taskmasters to a contrary effect; and for myself, when I
consider this, I pity the Catholic peasantry for not having the good
fortune to be born black. But the Catholics are contented, or at least
ought to be, as we are told; I shall, therefore, proceed to touch on a
few of those circumstances which so marvellously contribute to their
exceeding contentment. They are not allowed the free exercise of their
religion in the regular army; the Catholic soldier cannot absent himself
from the service of the Protestant clergyman; and unless he is quartered
in Ireland, or in Spain, where can he find eligible opportunities of
attending his own? The permission of Catholic chaplains to the Irish
militia regiments was conceded as a special favour, and not till after
years of remonstrance, although an Act, passed in 1793, established it
as a right. But are the Catholics properly protected in Ireland? Can the
church purchase a rood of land whereon to erect a chapel? No! all the
places of worship are built on leases of trust or sufferance from the
laity, easily broken, and often betrayed. The moment any irregular wish,
any casual caprice of the benevolent landlord meets with opposition, the
doors are barred against the congregation. This has happened
continually, but in no instance more glaringly than at the town of
Newton Barry, in the county of Wexford. The Catholics enjoying no
regular chapel, as a temporary expedient hired two barns; which, being
thrown into one, served for public worship. At this time, there was
quartered opposite to the spot an officer whose mind appears to have
been deeply imbued with those prejudices which the Protestant petitions
now on the table prove to have been fortunately eradicated from the more
rational portion of the people; and when the Catholics were assembled on
the Sabbath as usual, in peace and good-will towards men, for the
worship of their God and yours, they found the chapel door closed, and
were told that if they did not immediately retire (and they were told
this by a yeoman officer and a magistrate), the Riot Act should be read,
and the assembly dispersed at the point of the bayonet! This was
complained of to the middle-man of government, the secretary at the
Castle in 1806, and the answer was (in lieu of redress), that he would
cause a letter to be written to the colonel, to prevent, if possible,
the recurrence of similar disturbances. Upon this fact no very great
stress need be laid; but it tends to prove that while the Catholic
church has not power to purchase land for its chapels to stand upon, the
laws for its protection are of no avail. In the mean time, the Catholics
are at the mercy of every "pelting petty officer," who may choose to
play his "fantastic tricks before high heaven," to insult his God, and
injure his fellow-creatures.
Every schoolboy, any footboy (such have held commissions in our
service), any footboy who can exchange his shoulder-knot for an
epaulette, may perform all this and more against the Catholic by virtue
of that very authority delegated to him by his sovereign for the express
purpose of defending his fellow-subjects to the last drop of his blood,
without discrimination or distinction between Catholic and Protestant.
Have the Irish Catholics the full benefit of trial by jury? They have
not; they never can have until they are permitted to share the privilege
of serving as sheriffs and under-sheriffs. Of this a striking example
occurred at the last Enniskillen assizes. A yeoman was arraigned for the
murder of a Catholic named Macvournagh; three respectable,
uncontradicted witnesses, deposed that they saw the prisoner load, take
aim, fire at, and kill the said Macvournagh. This was properly commented
on by the judge; but, to the astonishment of the bar, and indignation of
the court, the Protestant jury acquitted the accused. So glaring was the
partiality, that Mr. Justice Osborne felt it his duty to bind over the
acquitted, but not absolved assassin, in large recognizances; thus for a
time taking away his licence to kill Catholics.
Are the very laws passed in their favour observed? They are rendered
nugatory in trivial as in serious cases. By a late Act, Catholic
chaplains are permitted in gaols; but in Fermanagh county the grand jury
lately persisted in presenting a suspended clergyman for the office,
thereby evading the statute, notwithstanding the most pressing
remonstrances of a most respectable magistrate named Fletcher to the
contrary. Such is law, such is justice, for the happy, free, contented
It has been asked, in another place, Why do not the rich Catholics endow
foundations for the education of the priesthood? Why do you not permit
them to do so? Why are all such bequests subject to the interference,
the vexatious, arbitrary, peculating interference of the Orange
commissioners for charitable donations?
As to Maynooth college, in no instance, except at the time of its
foundation, when a noble Lord (Camden), at the head of the Irish
administration, did appear to interest himself in its advancement, and
during the government of a noble Duke (Bedford), who, like his
ancestors, has ever been the friend of freedom and mankind, and who has
not so far adopted the selfish policy of the day as to exclude the
Catholics from the number of his fellow-creatures; with these
exceptions, in no instance has that institution been properly
encouraged. There was indeed a time when the Catholic clergy were
conciliated, while the Union was pending, that Union which could not be
carried without them, while their assistance was requisite in procuring
addresses from the Catholic counties; then they were cajoled and
caressed, feared and flattered, and given to understand that "the Union
would do every thing"; but the moment it was passed, they were driven
back with contempt into their former obscurity.
In the conduct pursued towards Maynooth college, every thing is done to
irritate and perplex--every thing is done to efface the slightest
impression of gratitude from the Catholic mind; the very hay made upon
the lawn, the fat and tallow of the beef and mutton allowed, must be
paid for and accounted upon oath. It is true, this economy in
miniature cannot sufficiently be commended, particularly at a time when
only the insect defaulters of the Treasury, your Hunts and your
Chinnerys, when only those "gilded bugs" can escape the microscopic eye
of ministers. But when you come forward, session after session, as your
paltry pittance is wrung from you with wrangling and reluctance, to
boast of your liberality, well might the Catholic exclaim, in the words
"To John I owe some obligation,
But John unluckily thinks fit
To publish it to all the nation,
So John and I are more than quit."
Some persons have compared the Catholics to the beggar in 'Gil Blas':
who made them beggars? Who are enriched with the spoils of their
ancestors? And cannot you relieve the beggar when your fathers have made
him such? If you are disposed to relieve him at all, cannot you do it
without flinging your farthings in his face? As a contrast, however, to
this beggarly benevolence, let us look at the Protestant Charter
Schools; to them you have lately granted £41,000: thus are they
supported; and how are they recruited? Montesquieu observes on the
English constitution, that the model may be found in Tacitus, where the
historian describes the policy of the Germans, and adds, "This beautiful
system was taken from the woods;" so in speaking of the charter schools,
it may be observed, that this beautiful system was taken from the
gipsies. These schools are recruited in the same manner as the
Janissaries at the time of their enrolment under Amurath, and the
gipsies of the present day, with stolen children, with children decoyed
and kidnapped from their Catholic connections by their rich and powerful
Protestant neighbours: this is notorious, and one instance may suffice
to show in what manner:--The sister of a Mr. Carthy (a Catholic
gentleman of very considerable property) died, leaving two girls, who
were immediately marked out as proselytes, and conveyed to the charter
school of Coolgreny; their uncle, on being apprised of the fact, which
took place during his absence, applied for the restitution of his
nieces, offering to settle an independence on these his relations; his
request was refused, and not till after five years' struggle, and the
interference of very high authority, could this Catholic gentleman
obtain back his nearest of kindred from a charity charter school. In
this manner are proselytes obtained, and mingled with the offspring of
such Protestants as may avail themselves of the institution. And how are
they taught? A catechism is put into their hands, consisting of, I
believe, forty-five pages, in which are three questions relative to the
Protestant religion; one of these queries is, "Where was the Protestant
religion before Luther?" Answer: "In the Gospel." The remaining
forty-four pages and a half regard the damnable idolatry of Papists!
Allow me to ask our spiritual pastors and masters, is this training up a
child in the way which he should go? Is this the religion of the Gospel
before the time of Luther? that religion which preaches "Peace on earth,
and glory to God"? Is it bringing up infants to be men or devils? Better
would it be to send them any where than teach them such doctrines;
better send them to those islands in the South Seas, where they might
more humanely learn to become cannibals; it would be less disgusting
that they were brought up to devour the dead, than persecute the living.
Schools do you call them? call them rather dung-hills, where the viper
of intolerance deposits her young, that when their teeth are cut and
their poison is mature, they may issue forth, filthy and venomous, to
sting the Catholic. But are these the doctrines of the Church of
England, or of churchmen? No, the most enlightened churchmen are of a
different opinion. What says Paley?
"I perceive no reason why men of different religious persuasions
should not sit upon the same bench, deliberate in the same council, or
fight in the same ranks, as well as men of various religious opinions
upon any controverted topic of natural history, philosophy, or ethics."
It may be answered, that Paley was not strictly orthodox; I know nothing
of his orthodoxy, but who will deny that he was an ornament to the
church, to human nature, to Christianity?
I shall not dwell upon the grievance of tithes, so severely felt by the
peasantry; but it may be proper to observe, that there is an addition to
the burden, a percentage to the gatherer, whose interest it thus becomes
to rate them as highly as possible, and we know that in many large
livings in Ireland the only resident Protestants are the tithe proctor
and his family.
Amongst many causes of irritation, too numerous for recapitulation,
there is one in the militia not to be passed over,--I mean the existence
of Orange lodges amongst the privates. Can the officers deny this? And
if such lodges do exist, do they, can they tend to promote harmony
amongst the men, who are thus individually separated in society,
although mingled in the ranks? And is this general system of persecution
to be permitted; or is it to be believed that with such a system the
Catholics can or ought to be contented? If they are, they belie human
nature; they are then, indeed, unworthy to be any thing but the slaves
you have made them. The facts stated are from most respectable
authority, or I should not have dared in this place, or any place, to
hazard this avowal. If exaggerated, there are plenty as willing, as I
believe them to be unable, to disprove them. Should it be objected that
I never was in Ireland, I beg leave to observe, that it is as easy to
know something of Ireland, without having been there, as it appears with
some to have been born, bred, and cherished there, and yet remain
ignorant of its best interests.
But there are who assert that the Catholics have already been too much
indulged. See (cry they) what has been done: we have given them one
entire college; we allow them food and raiment, the full enjoyment of
the elements, and leave to fight for us as long as they have limbs and
lives to offer; and yet they are never to be satisfied!--Generous and
just declaimers! To this, and to this only, amount the whole of your
arguments, when stript of their sophistry. Those personages remind me of
a story of a certain drummer, who, being called upon in the course of
duty to administer punishment to a friend tied to the halberts, was
requested to flog high, he did--to flog low, he did--to flog in the
middle, he did,--high, low, down the middle, and up again, but all in
vain; the patient continued his complaints with the most provoking
pertinacity, until the drummer, exhausted and angry, flung down his
scourge, exclaiming, "The devil burn you, there's no pleasing you, flog
where one will!" Thus it is, you have flogged the Catholic high, low,
here, there, and every where, and then you wonder he is not pleased. It
is true that time, experience, and that weariness which attends even the
exercise of barbarity, have taught you to flog a little more gently; but
still you continue to lay on the lash, and will so continue, till
perhaps the rod may be wrested from your hands, and applied to the backs
of yourselves and your posterity.
It was said by somebody in a former debate, (I forget by whom, and am
not very anxious to remember,) if the Catholics are emancipated, why not
the Jews? If this sentiment was dictated by compassion for the Jews, it
might deserve attention, but as a sneer against the Catholic, what is it
but the language of Shylock transferred from his daughter's marriage to
"Would any of the tribe of Barabbas
Should have it rather than a Christian!"
I presume a Catholic is a Christian, even in the opinion of him whose
taste only can be called in question for his preference of the Jews.
It is a remark often quoted of Dr. Johnson, (whom I take to be almost as
good authority as the gentle apostle of intolerance, Dr. Duigenan,) that
he who could entertain serious apprehensions of danger to the church in
these times, would have "cried fire in the deluge." This is more than a
metaphor; for a remnant of these antediluvians appear actually to have
come down to us, with fire in their mouths and water in their brains, to
disturb and perplex mankind with their whimsical outcries. And as it is
an infallible symptom of that distressing malady with which I conceive
them to be afflicted (so any doctor will inform your Lordships), for the
unhappy invalids to perceive a flame perpetually flashing before their
eyes, particularly when their eyes are shut (as those of the persons to
whom I allude have long been), it is impossible to convince these poor
creatures that the fire against which they are perpetually warning us
and themselves is nothing but an 'ignis fatuus' of their own drivelling
imaginations. What rhubarb, senna, or "what purgative drug can scour
that fancy thence?"--It is impossible, they are given over,--theirs is
"Caput insanabile tribus Anticyris."
These are your true Protestants. Like Bayle, who protested against all
sects whatsoever, so do they protest against Catholic petitions,
Protestant petitions, all redress, all that reason, humanity, policy,
justice, and common sense can urge against the delusions of their absurd
delirium. These are the persons who reverse the fable of the mountain
that brought forth a mouse; they are the mice who conceive themselves in
labour with mountains.
To return to the Catholics: suppose the Irish were actually contented
under their disabilities; suppose them capable of such a bull as not to
desire deliverance,--ought we not to wish it for ourselves? Have we
nothing to gain by their emancipation? What resources have been wasted?
What talents have been lost by the selfish system of exclusion? You
already know the value of Irish aid; at this moment the defence of
England is intrusted to the Irish militia; at this moment, while the
starving people are rising in the fierceness of despair, the Irish are
faithful to their trust. But till equal energy is imparted throughout by
the extension of freedom, you cannot enjoy the full benefit of the
strength which you are glad to interpose between you and destruction.
Ireland has done much, but will do more. At this moment the only triumph
obtained through long years of continental disaster has been achieved by
an Irish general: it is true he is not a Catholic; had he been so, we
should have been deprived of his exertions: but I presume no one will
assert that his religion would have impaired his talents or diminished
his patriotism; though, in that case, he must have conquered in the
ranks, for he never could have commanded an army.
But he is fighting the battles of the Catholics abroad; his noble
brother has this night advocated their cause, with an eloquence which I
shall not depreciate by the humble tribute of my panegyric; whilst a
third of his kindred, as unlike as unequal, has been combating against
his Catholic brethren in Dublin, with circular letters, edicts,
proclamations, arrests, and dispersions;--all the vexatious implements
of petty warfare that could be wielded by the mercenary guerillas of
government, clad in the rusty armour of their obsolete statutes. Your
Lordships will doubtless divide new honours between the Saviour of
Portugal, and the Disperser of Delegates. It is singular, indeed, to
observe the difference between our foreign and domestic policy; if
Catholic Spain, faithful Portugal, or the no less Catholic and faithful
king of the one Sicily, (of which, by the by, you have lately deprived
him,) stand in need of succour, away goes a fleet and an army, an
ambassador and a subsidy, sometimes to fight pretty hardly, generally to
negotiate very badly, and always to pay very dearly for our Popish
allies. But let four millions of fellow-subjects pray for relief, who
fight and pay and labour in your behalf, they must be treated as aliens;
and although their "father's house has many mansions," there is no
resting-place for them. Allow me to ask, are you not fighting for the
emancipation of Ferdinand VII, who certainly is a fool, and,
consequently, in all probability a bigot? and have you more regard for a
foreign sovereign than your own fellow-subjects, who are not fools, for
they know your interest better than you know your own; who are not
bigots, for they return you good for evil; but who are in worse durance
than the prison of an usurper, inasmuch as the fetters of the mind are
more galling than those of the body?
Upon the consequences of your not acceding to the claims of the
petitioners, I shall not expatiate; you know them, you will feel them,
and your children's children when you are passed away. Adieu to that
Union so called, as "'Lucus a non lucendo'" an Union from never uniting,
which in its first operation gave a death-blow to the independence of
Ireland, and in its last may be the cause of her eternal separation from
this country. If it must be called an Union, it is the union of the
shark with his prey; the spoiler swallows up his victim, and thus they
become one and indivisible. Thus has great Britain swallowed up the
Parliament, the constitution, the independence of Ireland, and refuses
to disgorge even a single privilege, although for the relief of her
swollen and distempered body politic.
And now, my Lords, before I sit down, will his Majesty's ministers
permit me to say a few words, not on their merits, for that would be
superfluous, but on the degree of estimation in which they are held by
the people of these realms? The esteem in which they are held has been
boasted of in a triumphant tone on a late occasion within these walls,
and a comparison instituted between their conduct and that of noble
lords on this side of the House.
What portion of popularity may have fallen to the share of my noble
friends (if such I may presume to call them), I shall not pretend to
ascertain; but that of his Majesty's ministers it were vain to deny. It
is, to be sure, a little like the wind, "no one knows whence it cometh
or whither it goeth;" but they feel it, they enjoy it, they boast of it.
Indeed, modest and unostentatious as they are, to what part of the
kingdom, even the most remote, can they flee to avoid the triumph which
pursues them? If they plunge into the midland counties, there will they
be greeted by the manufacturers, with spurned petitions in their hands,
and those halters round their necks recently voted in their behalf,
imploring blessings on the heads of those who so simply, yet
ingeniously, contrived to remove them from their miseries in this to a
better world. If they journey on to Scotland, from Glasgow to John o'
Groat's, every where will they receive similar marks of approbation. If
they take a trip from Portpatrick to Donaghadee, there will they rush at
once into the embraces of four Catholic millions, to whom their vote of
this night is about to endear them for ever. When they return to the
metropolis, if they can pass under Temple Bar without unpleasant
sensations at the sight of the greedy niches over that ominous gateway,
they cannot escape the acclamations of the livery, and the more
tremulous, but not less sincere, applause, the blessings, "not loud, but
deep," of bankrupt merchants and doubting stock-holders. If they look to
the army, what wreaths, not of laurel, but of nightshade, are preparing
for the heroes of Walcheren! It is true, there are few living deponents
left to testify to their merits on that occasion; but a "cloud of
witnesses" are gone above from that gallant army which they so
generously and piously despatched, to recruit the "noble army of
What if in the course of this triumphal career (in which they will
gather as many pebbles as Caligula's army did on a similar triumph, the
prototype of their own,) they do not perceive any of those memorials
which a grateful people erect in honour of their benefactors; what
although not even a sign-post will condescend to depose the Saracen's
head in favour of the likeness of the conquerors of Walcheren, they will
not want a picture who can always have a caricature, or regret the
omission of a statue who will so often see themselves exalted into
effigy. But their popularity is not limited to the narrow bounds of an
island; there are other countries where their measures, and, above all,
their conduct to the Catholics, must render them pre-eminently popular.
If they are beloved here, in France they must be adored. There is no
measure more repugnant to the designs and feelings of Bonaparte than
Catholic emancipation; no line of conduct more propitious to his
projects than that which has been pursued, is pursuing, and, I fear,
will be pursued towards Ireland. What is England without Ireland, and
what is Ireland without the Catholics? It is on the basis of your
tyranny Napoleon hopes to build his own. So grateful must oppression of
the Catholics be to his mind, that doubtless (as he has lately permitted
some renewal of intercourse) the next cartel will convey to this country
cargoes of Sevres china and blue ribands, (things in great request, and
of equal value at this moment,) blue ribands of the Legion of Honour for
Dr. Duigenan and his ministerial disciples. Such is that well-earned
popularity, the result of those extraordinary expeditions, so expensive
to ourselves, and so useless to our allies; of those singular inquiries,
so exculpatory to the accused, and so dissatisfactory to the people; of
those paradoxical victories, so honourable, as we are told, to the
British name, and so destructive to the best interests of the British
nation: above all, such is the reward of the conduct pursued by
ministers towards the Catholics.
I have to apologise to the House, who will, I trust, pardon one not
often in the habit of intruding upon their indulgence, for so long
attempting to engage their attention. My most decided opinion is, as my
vote will be, in favour of the motion.
* * * * *
3. DEBATE ON MAJOR CARTWRIGHT'S PETITION. JUNE 1,1813.
Lord BYRON rose and said:
My Lords,--he petition which I now hold for the purpose of presenting to
the House is one which, I humbly conceive, requires the particular
attention of your Lordships, inasmuch as, though signed but by a single
individual, it contains statements which (if not disproved) demand most
serious investigation. The grievance of which the petitioner complains
is neither selfish nor imaginary. It is not his own only, for it has
been and is still felt by numbers. No one without these walls, nor
indeed within, but may to-morrow be made liable to the same insult and
obstruction, in the discharge of an imperious duty for the restoration
of the true constitution of these realms, by petitioning for reform in
Parliament. The petitioner, my Lords, is a man whose long life has been
spent in one unceasing struggle for the liberty of the subject, against
that undue influence which has increased, is increasing, and ought to be
diminished; and whatever difference of opinion may exist as to his
political tenets, few will be found to question the integrity of his
intentions. Even now oppressed with years, and not exempt from the
infirmities attendant on his age, but still unimpaired in talent, and
unshaken in spirit--"'frangas non flectes'"--he has received many a
wound in the combat against corruption; and the new grievance, the fresh
insult, of which he complains, may inflict another scar, but no
dishonour. The petition is signed by John Cartwright; and it was in
behalf of the people and Parliament, in the lawful pursuit of that
reform in the representation which is the best service to be rendered
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