LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Robert Bland to John Herman Merivale, 9 August 1805

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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Many and the most sincere thanks for your very kind letter. I really am obliged to you for being so happy as you mention, although I think you might have been so without endeavouring to make me envious. And so you wish me to follow your example.1 If any person would accommodate me with the trifling sum of a cool £10,000, I would really do so. But if you only reflect on the treasures contained in my table drawer, you might find 1,000 pounds worth of reasons for remaining as I am—stupid, flat, dull and solitary. . . . You will excuse the gloom of this letter, when you consider the solemn hour at which I write, and the more so as you know that I seldom, if ever, write to entertain others, but only when I am a burthen to myself, and wish to lay part of the load on some one else. But, what is the best excuse of all, I have this evening returned to London from ———, where I have been leading the life of a god for these five days. On Friday ———’s birthday, concert, fire and water works, ball, supper; so that Friday was certainly not so bad; though, to my mind, all the squibs and crackers and rockets and what-d’ye-call-’ems, produced by gunpowder, together with set concerts, suppers, balls, and nicknackeries, are not worth this

1 Merivale had lately married.

pinch of snuff. No, sir. It was Saturday, passed on the lawn, with a soft, sick, languid, and amiable headache, charmed away by a late breakfast and vocal music (particularly by hearing myself sing),1 dance on the green, dinner, music, dance again, singing again till two in the morning, and all in a private family party—it was this, continued for three or four days, that did the business, and made me what I am—gloomy, and discontented. Mrs. ——— recited several beautiful scraps of poems; I retaliated with your ‘Clarissa,’ your ‘O’er the Smooth Main,’ and
Hodgson’s ‘Moderate Wishes.’ The sensation was so great, that, drunk as I was with pleasure at hearing my friends applauded, I was on the verge of reciting something of my own and should have done so—but (luckily) I forgot everything, and so was saved the disgrace of being hissed off the stage. The lines of my own which I was near venturing, were the description of the wood, and hags that haunted it, in ‘Edwy and Elgiva,’ which are the best lines I have written. Very luckily I forgot the second verse, and consequently could not begin the first with any propriety. There is a charm, my dear Merry, in that house, which sets a man at ease in a moment. No vul-

1 All his contemporaries agreed in admiring his singing.

garity, no quizzing, but the most elegant persons with the most elegant manners—music the most celestial, and, as one cannot get higher than celestial, manners the most engaging. Had the whole business of their lives been to please, and they had studied their profession from their births, they could not have succeeded better. And here I must not omit mentioning that flattery is one source of pleasure. None of your stiff, awkward compliments that break the teeth of the speaker, and make the hearer look like a fool; but kind, good-natured hints of approbation, that encourage people to talk, to amuse and be amused. I really cannot fix my eye upon any five days that have been so varied with all manner of delights. I would change the subject which, however interesting to myself, can have no great share of interest to you, only, as you talked of nothing but yourself (and I like you for it), do let me talk of ———. Then we dined in a wood—pretty thought!—‘our seat the turf, our canopy the sky.’ All the oreads, dryads, and naiads were delighted with our music. ‘Satyrs and sylvan boys were seen, peeping from out their alleys green.’ The evening passed in reading, recitation, music, supping (pro formâ—that is to say, as an excuse for assembling round a table, rather than
for the sake of gross eating and drinking). After singing and all the etceteras, we went to our repose, each highly satisfied with the day, and with the quota of entertainment that each had contributed. The poet sought his pillow, delighted and perfectly satisfied with his own bad verses; the rebus, riddle, and conundrum-makers with their subtleties; the explainers of the same with their acuteness; the vocal performers with their voices; the instrumental with their fingers; and, most of all, ——— by the applauses (loud and frequent) which remunerated him for making faces and playing the buffoon. At breakfast this morning, a flash or two, a recitation, and a remark or two, and the charm was to be dissolved, was to be exchanged for—London.