LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
John Herman Merivale to Francis Hodgson, [May 1812]

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.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

My dear Hodgson,—Thank you for being the first to break the inhuman silence of which you so justly complain. Ever since you wrote, I have been very uncomfortable at home in consequence of another illness of my wife. With this, and a good deal of
business at chambers, I have had as little time as spirits to write, though, on Tuesday, I should certainly have done so, in order to communicate the bloody business1 of the preceding evening, if I had not been interrupted by
Ben Drury’s arrival, and gone down with him to the House of Commons, where we were both highly gratified by the conduct of the whole House on this unexampled occasion. Whitbread did himself immortal honour by his manly and generous speech. Ponsonby’s totally unaffected feelings so overcame him as greatly to interrupt and cut short his rhetoric; but the effect was, of course, so much the more impressive. Even Lord Castlereagh, aye, the Castlereagh of Walcheren, the Castlereagh of Ireland, I adored at the moment. Canning was the only man that spoke who had sufficient command of himself to attempt turning a sentence prettily; and his speech, accordingly, was very pretty indeed. As for Burdett, poor miserable creature as he is, his silence now has, I think, sunk him lower than his noise heretofore. Suppose for a moment that Pitt had been assassinated like Perceval, and that the savage mob had mingled the cry of ‘Fox for ever’

1 The assassination of Perceval, then Prime Minister, by Bellingham, within the walls of the House.

with their brutal exultations, would he not have made all Westminster ring—
and more,
From Tothill Fields to Lambeth’s Surrey shore,
with the vehemence of his generous execrations of the deed? As for his pitiful successor, he is too mean-spirited for a decided villain; and accordingly I do not believe that he exulted, like his own miserable electors, in the deed. But that he did not rush forward at the instant to disavow it and declare his abhorrence of the wretches who could use his name on such an occasion, and his deep sorrow that in the discharge of his public duty he should ever have used expressions capable of such inflammatory interpretation, such horrible misconstruction; this, I think, is enough to rank him with
Philippe Egalité” himself.

And now that we are able to take breath, and ask ourselves, what will be the probable result of this ‘knavish piece of work,’ I am greatly afraid, for my own part, that there is little room for hope of ultimate good. ‘The Church was cemented by the blood of its martyrs,’ and, unfortunately, whether a cause is good or bad, these violent acts of revenge and desperation against its supporters
are, I believe, uniformly found rather to benefit than to injure it. If I am not mistaken, the universal feeling of pity and horror for the deed, and of apprehension for its consequences, will strengthen the hands of the present Government, notwithstanding the loss of its chief, even more than the most rigorous exertions of
Perceval, when alive, could have done it. I anticipate no speedy change, either of men or measures, as its consequence; and, if there is none, what have we to do but deplore, without any mixture of hope or satisfaction, the loss of a man, who, however erroneous his principles, was a man of business, of firmness, and integrity, far superior to any of those with whom he was associated in power?

I have not a moment’s time to write any further. You have heard of the birth of Drury’s son. When do you leave Cambridge? I wish to my soul that we could meet. Write directly if you can furnish me with any plan of your operations.

Yours ever affectionately,
J. H. Merivale.