LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The “Pope” of Holland House
Chapter I: 1813

‣ Chapter I: 1813
Chapter II: 1814
Chapter III: 1815
Chapter IV: 1816
Chapter V: 1817
Chapter VI: 1818
Chapter VII: 1819
Chapter VIII: 1820
Chapter IX: 1821
Chapter X: 1822
Chapter XI: 1824-33
Chapter XII: 1833-35
Chapter XIII: 1806-40
Chapter XIV: Appendix
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Autographs for Mrs. Smith—Tennant’s lectures—Madame de Staël—Foreign politics—Buonaparte—Edinburgh Review—Sir Humphry and Lady Davy—Mungo Park—The Allies—Sir James Mackintosh—Madame de Staël’s “L’Allemagne”—Terms offered to France—Accounts from Paris.
From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smith.
July 21, 1813.

MY DEAR SIR,—I have been some time intending to write you a letter of thanks for your kind reception of me at Easton Grey; but I was desirous of accompanying my acknowledgments with something that might be worth adding to Mrs. Smith’s collection.

I have not been able to get all that I wished; but such as they are you will, I hope, receive them safe in an office frank. I shall not omit any opportunity of picking up any letters or signatures which may appear to be interesting.

Tennant1 has been some days at Cambridge

1 Smithson Tennant, 1761-1815, Professor of Chemistry at Cambridge, was the discoverer that the true nature of the diamond consisted of pure carbon.

Madame de Staël
to settle respecting the chemical apparatus for his lectures. He found it necessary to stay and make some alterations in the furnaces; and I yesterday sent him some potassium for the purpose of trying some experiments which I hope will prove interesting.

The Edgeworths have been succeeded in London by Madame de Staël, whose arrival you must have seen mentioned in the papers. Her career is still more brilliant than theirs; for she is extremely in vogue with all parties, and especially the Ministerialists. She has also been much noticed at Court by the Queen and the Regent, the latter of whom paid her a visit of two hours a few mornings ago. These great distinctions are owing not to her talents or even to her celebrity, but to her hostility towards Buonaparte, her connections with the Crown Prince of Sweden, and the decided change that has taken place in her politics. She is violent for war, considers Lord Castlereagh as a great statesman, and is decidedly adverse to the Catholic claims. She says she is come to England very much for the purpose of giving her daughter1 a religious education, and she is looking out for a clergyman of the Church of England for that purpose.

Notwithstanding all this, which to those who know Madame de Staël’s history or have read her works must look like grimace or hypocrisy, she is to a considerable extent perfectly sincere in these opinions; for she is the creature of passion and imagination and has nothing at all to do with reason. She is very good-natured, and oc-

1 Albertine, afterwards Duchesse de Broglie.

Madame de Staël
casionally, I believe, shows great kindness and benevolence; and she has great ease and frankness in her deportment, though not strictly good manners. Her talents in society are principally displayed in eloquent harangues upon subjects which do not frequently occur in ordinary conversation, such as the excellence of the British Constitution, the Divine Benevolence, &c., &c. Though she has great success at present, it remains to be seen whether her popularity will be lasting; for she appears to require an audience, and to be more exigéante than is quite consistent with the ease of freedom of society.

From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smithson Tennant.
Lincoln’s Inn, Nov. 20, 1813.

We are in great expectation of news from the Continent. It is said that some attempt upon Holland is actually intended by the Allies; and that there is an internal organisation in some part of the country in readiness to join the invaders. The report of yesterday was that Buonaparte, after a short stay in Paris, had set out for Holland, in order to make preparations against the attack. The Ministers here hold very pacific language, for which they are blamed by the Courier and other Government papers, who avow principles more conformable, as it is supposed, to the opinions of the Regent and his interior Cabinet at Carlton House. These opinions are known to be very favourable to eternal war with Buonaparte, and the restoration of the Bourbons. The Ministers, on the contrary, wish to conciliate Austria, who entered
“Edinburgh Review”
into the war most unwillingly, and is anxious to get out of it by holding out a prospect of peace upon fair or reasonable terms. But whatever may be the inclination of different parties, the difficulties of negotiations are such that I see no prospect of peace at present. Buonaparte is rash and violent, and seems to learn no wisdom from adversity. So long as he is supported by the French nation he will persevere in his determination not to sit on what he calls “a degraded throne,” or to make any personal sacrifices.

Nov., 1813.

Pray mention to the Smiths that the new number of the Edinburgh Review (just published) contains two articles by Mackintosh, on Rogers and Madame de Staël. Three by Brougham—on Dumont, the Abuses of the Press, and a translation of Cicero. There is also an article by Playfair on Dr. Hutton’s tracts; by Allen of Holland House, on the ancient legislation of Spain; and I believe by Horner on “Biblioteca Espanola,” a work on political economy. Mackintosh writes too elaborately and rhetorically in the Review, and praises a great deal too much. Jeffrey will be much surprised on his return from America, where he has gone to be married, that the Review has changed its character.

Dec. 11, 1813.

Intelligence has been received from Sir Humphry and Lady Davy, but not till very lately, though they must have reached Paris nearly two months ago. The letters came by the post, and of course are quite
Mungo Park
silent on the subject of politics. One of them was written by Lady Davy to her mother, Mrs. Farquhar; it relates chiefly to the fashionable Parisian dresses, and mentions that they have received some civilities and attentions; at the same time she says that travelling on the Continent is a different thing at the age of twenty-five (when she travelled before) and in more advanced life, and she regrets the curiosity and energy of her earlier years.

Upon the whole there is a tone of disappointment, as I understand, through the whole of this letter, and the journey to Paris appears not to have answered their expectations. On their arrival at Morlaix they were very rigorously searched by the Custom House officers, and probably had a tedious and disagreeable journey, in a rainy season, and through bad roads to Paris, where they must have arrived at a time of great public anxiety and disaster, and when every Englishman must have been regarded by the police with great jealousy and suspicion. The same circumstances have continued during the whole time of their residence, and must have spread a great gloom over the Parisian society.

I am looking over Mungo Park’s Journal, which I suppose will soon be published. It contains little new information, but is altogether curious and interesting. He was well qualified by his ardour and intrepidity, to be an explorer of new countries; but seems to have been no great observer. Indeed, his principal motive was the geographical ambition of ascertaining the course of the Niger, and he seems to have cared about little besides. He committed
The Allies
a great blunder in travelling during the rainy season. Had he done otherwise, he might have escaped that mortality and loss of men to which his final destruction was probably owing. I conclude you must have seen this Journal, for the story which you tell of Isaaco and the crocodile is one of the best things in it.1

From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smith.
Lincoln’s Inn, Dec. 21, 1813.

You will be glad to see from what passed in Parliament yesterday that the Allies are certainly negotiating, and that there is some chance of a peace. This, however, depends entirely upon Buonaparte’s necessities; for he will never consent to make peace in his present situation unless he is compelled to it. But his present difficulties both of raising men and money, are very great, and he has not had the slightest success in any quarter to counterbalance his many

1 “On the 4th of July the guide Isaaco made a narrow escape from a crocodile in passing a river called the Wonda, one of the feeders of the Senegal. Isaaco was engaged in driving some of the asses through the stream, when the crocodile rose close to him, and seizing him by the left thigh pulled him under water. With wonderful presence of mind he thrust his finger into the monster’s eye, on which it quitted its hold, and Isaaco made for the bank, crying for a knife; but the crocodile followed, and again seized him by the other thigh, when Isaaco had recourse to the same expedient, and thrusting his fingers into both eyes with such violence that the creature was compelled a second time to let go its hold; after which it flounced about for a moment in stupid blindness, and then went down to the river” (“Life of Mungo Park”).

Sir James Mackintosh
reverses. Antwerp is said to be so ill provided that it must fall, and Bayonne will be immediately besieged by
Lord Wellington. Mackintosh’s speech last night, though it showed great power, disappointed the public expectation. He was too abstract and diffuse, too much of a lecturer, and had not a sufficient appearance of earnestness and sincerity. Whether he is to be a great Parliamentary speaker was not decided by the appearance of last night, but it is certainly somewhat doubtful.1

You need be in no great haste to see Madame de Staël’s book2; which, however, is worth looking into when you have an opportunity. It is occasionally ingenious, and sometimes eloquent; but it is very deficient in facts and contains no real information. In truth, she is an advocate for the most commonplace and vulgar opinions, and this is one of the causes of her popularity. It would be no great exaggeration to say that she maintains whatever is exaggerated in taste, absurd in metaphysics, and false and pernicious in morality. Would you believe that Madame de Staël was at first a little disappointed by the Edinburgh Review, and thought the praise rather cold? She took time, however, to consider, and is now, I believe, well satisfied, or at least professes to be so. She was very angry with the former review on her essay on Suicide, and complained that her critic (Mackintosh) had not read the book.

1 The Speech was a strong protest against a threatened interference of the Allies in Holland and Switzerland.

2De l’Allemagne.”

News from Paris
Dec. 28, 1813.

I am afraid that the aspect of public affairs is not so pacific as when I last wrote. There is a strong party in this country against peace upon any terms with Napoleon; and this party may perhaps have such influence in the Cabinet as may lead them to propose conditions which cannot be acceded to, and pave the way to a separate peace on the part of the Allies, especially Austria.

The terms offered to France and acceded to (before the counter-Revolution was known) are understood to be—the Rhine for a boundary, Holland a separate and independent kingdom under Louis Buonaparte; and the total abandonment of Spain, Germany, the Tyrol and Illyrian provinces, and of the whole of Italy except the Milanese, which was to remain to Eugene Beauharnais, in consideration of his having married a princess of Bavaria. The Revolution in Holland has made a great change, and is probably the cause of the delays to which Buonaparte alludes in his speech.

From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smithson Tennant.
Dec. 31, 1813.

I am afraid that peace is still extremely doubtful. It is even problematical whether Lord Castlereagh’s mission be really pacific, and whether he may not have been sent for the purpose of reconciling differences and keeping Austria from the Alliance. Madame de Staël asserts that the Ministers here
News from Paris
are “tout a fait à la guerre,” and though she is a person of no great judgment, yet, as she sees a great number of people and has various means of information, I am afraid that her opinion is not altogether unfounded.

People arrived lately from Paris say there is great discontent there, but not of that kind that produces an explosion of popular feeling. It evaporated in a cold reception of the Emperor at public places, and a few lively epigrams.

In the provinces there is great despair on account of the conscription, but at the same time much apathy. The alarm was considerable for about six weeks, but the delay of the Allies in crossing the Rhine, and the ignorance in which people were for some time kept as to what was passing in Holland, gave them time to breathe; and the first panic was quite over. The terms to which Buonaparte had agreed as a preliminary basis, exclusively of Colonial compensations, are said to have been the following: To abandon Germany, Spain, Holland, and Italy, and restore the Valais to Switzerland. To give up Naples and the Ecclesiastical States to their own sovereigns; and the Tyrol, the Illyrian provinces, and Piedmont, together with Genoa, to the Archduke Francis of Austria, who has married a Sardinian princess. The Milanese to be erected into a principality for the Princess of Bavaria, who is married to Eugene Beauharnais; and the Ecclesiastical States to be formed into a detached sovereignty for Murat; the Netherlands and Antwerp to remain with France. I know not whether you will be
News from Paris
interested in this diplomatic detail, in which there is probably, as usual, a mixture of truth and falsehood. It is to be observed that these terms were agreed on before the Revolution in Holland, at which time, it is said, the Allies were not unwilling to consent to the restoration of
Louis Buonaparte as a separate and wholly independent sovereign. They had a jealousy of Holland becoming a sort of province to England, by means of the restoration of the House of Orange, but as that event has now taken place without the assistance of the Allies, a new and very serious difficulty has arisen, by which the progress of the negotiation must be much impeded. It is probably to this that Buonaparte alluded in speaking of “delays not attributable to France.”