LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The “Pope” of Holland House
Chapter V: 1817

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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Politics—The Congo—“Paul’s Letters”—“Tales of my Landlord”—The Edgeworths—Politics—Lord Byron’s journal—The “Luddites”—Death of Francis Horner—Suspension of Habeas Corpus —“Old Mortality”—Edinburgh ReviewQuarterly Review—Autographs for Mrs. Smith—Brougham and Lord Jeffrey—And Lord Byron—French politics—Embassy to China—Ricardo—Leonard Horner—Letter of S. Smith—African discoveries—Mill on Ricardo—Lord Byron’s “Witch’s Tragedy”—Cobbett—Lord Amherst—Madame de Staël—Manchester riots—Miss O’Neil—Canning—Dr. Watson—Miss Mercer—Death of Mr. Edgeworth—Talma—Byron and Moore—Horner’s letters—Chiswick—Death of Madame de Staël—J. L. Mallet—Paris society and fashions—Death of Princess Charlotte—“Childe Harold.”
From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smith.
Jan. 4, 1817.

I AM lately returned from Mackintosh, with whom I passed two very agreeable and instructive days. He seems to be in good health, and proceeds steadily, but as yet not very rapidly, in his great work. I have strongly advised him not to suffer parliamentary engagements to interfere too much with this more important undertaking.


I hope you have seen Warden’s account of Buonaparte. It places him in some respects in a new light,1 and has made a favourable impression on most readers. It is considered as a dangerous and improper book by the Tories. Benjamin Constant seems to be making his peace with the French Government by a flimsy rhetorical pamphlet. I still think him an honest, but timid man, who has too great a desire to live in Paris.

Jan. 14, 1817.

Binda has truly represented to you the opinions of several of the politicians who frequent Holland House. But they are much too sanguine in looking forward to any great ministerial change at present. The present people will contrive to scramble through the Session discreditably enough, and as to minor points, with little difficulty, perhaps, but without any danger of a complete overthrow. For my own part I should almost as soon expect a reform in Parliament as the coming of the Opposition, in the present state of things.

Lord Lansdowne’s absence on this occasion is much to be lamented. I hear that he has purchased a famous statue of Venus by Canova for £1,500 a prodigious sum for a modern work!

Horner writes that the Prussian Minister at Rome, Niebuhr, son of the traveller, has engaged in an examination of the Vatican manuscripts, and has

1Letters written on board the Northumberland, and at St. Helena.” Warden was the surgeon of the Northumberland.

The Congo
discovered some new fragments of the Orations of

The expedition to the Congo seems to have failed from the unfortunate ardour of the principal parties concerned in undertaking a great journey for which they were quite unfitted, and were without any proper provision.1 Two journals are arrived which are said to be curious, and will in all probability be published. Their ascent of the river appears to have been stopped by great cataracts, which are said to be very curious and unexpected; and the description of the river both above and below them is remarkable.

Feb. 4, 1817.

The parliamentary prospects of the Opposition are overclouded by the riotous proceedings of the mob on Tuesday last, and the powerful diversion made by Hunt, Cartwright, and Cobbett, in favour of Ministers. Many are seriously alarmed, others affect to be so; and it is hardly possible that the Opposition should not be much divided upon these questions. I am afraid that the fate of the Session is decided, and that Parliament and the country will be occupied by treason and sedition bills, instead of economy and retrenchment. Brougham is in excellent health and spirits, and has hitherto spoken with great prudence and moderation, as well as with considerable ability. He has risen much in the opinion of the House.

1 The expedition was sent under the command of Captain Tuckey, who was in bad health and died from the effects of the journey.

Scott and Byron
Feb. 6, 1817.

I have sent in a parcel “Paul’s Letters to his Kinsfolk,” by Walter Scott, which you told me you had not seen. It was considered here as a great failure: though it is evidently the work of a sensible man and a practised writer. The account of the battle of Waterloo is lively and spirited; in other respects it is rather flat and insipid, especially considering that it was the first time Scott had seen the Continent.

Unquestionably it forms a strong contrast to the vigour and spirit displayed in Scott’s supposed novels and in the “Tales of my Landlord.” I have just received a letter from the Edgeworths containing some observations on this last work, of which they are warm admirers.

Feb. 16, 1817.

I send you a curious morceau, viz., some extracts and recollection of a journal which I have been allowed to see of Lord Byron, during a short excursion which he has made into Switzerland, accompanied by J. Hobhouse. It is slight and sketchy, but strikes me as being very clever and very characteristic of the man and the poet. Pray show the paper only to particular friends, and take care to give no copy of it.

You say nothing of the “Tales of my Landlord.” They are most extraordinary productions. The second tale (“The Covenanter,”1) is much the best. In nice delineations of character, and freedom and

1Old Mortality.”

The Edgeworths
vigour of colouring, it excels any of the avowed works of
Scott in prose and verse.

I have had an agreeable letter from Miss Edgeworth, and a characteristic one from her father, who writes apparently in great spirits, and seems determined to die hard. Miss E. says that she has two volumes to publish, one of a single tale, and another containing three comic dramas, one in genteel English life, and two in low Irish life. She is very doubtful as to the success of her comedies, which are not intended, she says, for the stage, but simply to try whether the public think she is possessed of dramatic talents. Two Journals of the unfortunate expedition to the Congo have been received at the Admiralty. They are said to be very curious and will shortly be published by Barrow. Notwithstanding the apparent failure, the master of Captain Tuckey’s ship and the surviving officers have written that they are persuaded more discoveries may be made, and they express a strong desire to be allowed to prosecute them. Captain Tuckey made many inquiries concerning the Niger; and the result of the information was, that he believed it to be lost in lakes and swamps, according to the Ptolemaic system.

Brougham is just arrived, and there seems to be a great attendance of parliamentary people, but I do not expect a good division on Tuesday nor a very prosperous Session. Many rumours are spread abroad of differences between the followers of Mr. Fox and of Lord Grenville and Mr. Burke; and I fear they are not altogether unfounded. In this state of things the absence of Horner, who more than any other
Lord Byron’s Journal
individual served as the connecting-link between the two parties, is more particularly to be lamented. If the disunion now spoken of should unfortunately take place, it would end probably in a new Administration formed by the better sort of Tories, and the moderate Whigs; and the Opposition would be reduced nearly to its former contracted state.

Lord Byron went a second time to the château of Chillon, where he has before very minutely examined the dungeons, gallows, places, and instruments of torture.

“On our return,” he says, “we met a party in an English carriage—a lady asleep, fast asleep, in the most anti-narcotic spot in Europe—excellent! I remember at Chamouni, in the very eyes of Mont Blanc, another woman, English also, exclaim to her party, ‘Did you ever see anything more rural?’ as if it were Highgate or Hampstead, or Richmond. Rural! Quotha—rocks—pines—torrents—glaciers—clouds—and summits of eternal snow far above them—and rural!”

At Clarens, the scene of the “Nouvelle Heloise,” Lord B. found the house tenanted by an English lady, and saw Blair’s sermons lying on the table, and some one else’s sermons!

From Chillon to Clarens the whole road, he says, was beautiful as a dream, and now almost as indistinct.

“Among the mountains was a shepherd on a very steep and high cliff playing on his pipe; very different from Arcadia, where I saw the shepherds with long muskets, instead of crooks, and pistols at their
Lord Byron’s Journal
girdles. The pipe was sweet and the tune agreeable. In passing the ravine the guide recommended strongly a quickening of our pace, as the stones fell with great rapidity and occasional damage. The advice was excellent, but, like most good advice, impracticable, the road being so rough that neither mule, horse, nor man make any violent progress. However, we passed without fractures.

“The music of the cows’ bells (for their wealth, like that of the patriarchs, consists in cattle) in pastures that reach to a height far above any mountains in Britain, and the shepherds shouting to us from crag to crag, where the steeps appeared to us inaccessible—these with the charms of the surrounding country scenery realised all that I had heard or imagined of a pastoral existence. Much more so than Greece or Asia Minor; for there we are a little too much in the sabre and musket order, and if there is a crook in one hand, there is sure to be a gun in the other. But this was pure and unmixed, solitary, savage, and patriarchal. As we went, they played the ‘Ranz des vaches’ and other airs, by way of farewell. I have re-peopled my mind with Nature.

“At Lauterbrunnen we found the Swiss curate’s house very good, better than most English vicarages. It is immediately opposite a great torrent, or cascade (900 feet high) which curves over the rock. It is in shape like the tail of a white horse streaming in the wind; such as it might be conceived would be that of the Pale Horse, on which Death is mounted in the Apocalypse. It is neither mist nor water, but something between them both. The immense height gives
Lord Byron’s Journal
it a wavering curve, a spreading here and condensation there, wonderful and indescribable.

“Arrived at the Grindelvald, dined, mounted again, and rode to the higher glacier. Twilight, but distinct; very fine glacier, a frozen hurricane, starlight, beautiful, but the devil of a path. Never mind; got safe down. The whole of the day as fine in point of weather as the day on which Paradise was made.”

In speaking of the appearances on a great mountain which they ascended (the name of which I forgot to take down) he says: “The clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the ocean of hell during a spring tide. It was white and sulphury and immeasurably deep in appearance. The side we ascended was, of course, not so precipitous, but on reaching the summit we looked down upon the other side upon a boiling sea of cloud dashing against the crags on which we stood.

“Being now out of the mountains my journal must be as flat as the country we traversed. From Thun to Berne we had good roads, property, and the commonplace tokens of insipid civilisation.

“Reached Aubonne (the entrance and bridge something like Durham), which commands by far the fairest view of the Lake of Geneva. The light—the moon on the lake—a grove of very noble trees on the height. Here Tavernier, the Eastern traveller, bought or built the château, because the site resembled or equalled that of Erivan, a frontier city of Persia.”

Death of Horner
Feb. 17, 1817.

The Opposition expect good divisions this week, especially on the question to-morrow respecting the Lords of the Admiralty. Some think that if the Ministers are beat on these questions they will get frightened, and advise the Prince to send for Lord Grey; but I consider such an event as hardly within the limits of possibility; and I should be very sorry that the Government should be thrown upon our friends in such times.

The Reports of the Secret Committees will be presented to-day or to-morrow. Their great subject is the extension of secret societies, and particularly Luddites; a great evil, but very little within the reach of legislation. I am just going to a splendid and dull dinner at the Duke of Gloucester’s, to meet the Cambridge deputation who are come up with the address to the Regent.

March 1, 1817.

I am extremely obliged to you for your kind letter on the loss of my invaluable friend. It is a subject on which I cannot yet speak or write with any tolerable degree of composure. It has spread a gloom over our whole circle of society. Nor is this feeling confined to Horner’s immediate friends. It is universally and strongly expressed, especially in that place where he was pursuing so honourable a career and where his loss is truly irreparable. The House of Commons, all parties, and all individuals unite in bearing testimony to his distinguished talents, his manly and impressive eloquence, and the simplicity, indepen-
Scott’s Novels
dence, and integrity which marked every part of his conduct. You will be happy to hear that by a general understanding throughout the House, and on the suggestion of the Speaker himself, an opportunity will be taken of giving a public expression to these feelings on moving the writ for the vacant seat.

Abercromby is much obliged to you for your kind note on this melancholy occasion.

The divisions upon the suspension of the Habeas Corpus have been much better than could be expected; and the debates on the part of the Opposition have been entirely triumphant. The best speeches were those of Romilly, Burdett, and Lord Folkestone, especially the first, but the speech is miserably reported in the Chronicle. It is much better given in the Times. On the part of the Administration nothing tolerable has been said; and I cannot but hope that the measure will fail in a considerable degree of obtaining the popularity and effect that were expected from it. The Ministers were certainly much surprised at the greatness of the minorities. Still, they have gained a great object in diverting the public attention from subjects of economy and retrenchment.

With respect to the “Tales of my Landlord,” I agree with you that “Old Mortality” is on the whole superior to any of W. Scott’s works, especially those in prose. But I still think it most probable he is the author; and this is the clear and decided opinion of the most intelligent persons, and those who best know him in Edinburgh. His brother, Tom Scott, having failed in his circumstances at home, is now
“Edinburgh Review”
a regimental paymaster in Canada. He possesses some of his brother’s talents, but he is at a distance from books and has no literary experience. Possibly he may have furnished some outlines or sketches which his brother has filled up.1 That Walter Scott has had some concern with the work is not denied, and several of his anecdotes and jokes are recognised in different parts of the novels. It is, therefore, only a question of degree.

Mr. Greenfield, the other person who has been talked of, is considered by the Edinburgh critics who know him, to be quite incapable of writing these novels. His style and the nature of his talents, of which there are some specimens in the Quarterly Review, differ totally from the style and tone of the works alluded to.

Articles in the last number of the Edinburgh Review.

Lord Byron”—Jeffrey.
Catholic Question”—Brougham.
Defence of Usury”—Do.
Commercial Distress”—probably the same.
Buonaparte”—Allen, of Holland House.

In the Quarterly, “Lord Byron” is by Walter Scott, and “Buonaparte” and “Parliamentary Reform” by Southey.

1 Walter Scott, in his desire to conceal the authorship of the Waverley novels, countenanced the rumour that they were written by his brother. Murray believed the report in 1817, and so late as 1855, William J. Fitzpatrick, in several letters to Notes and Queries, claimed that Thomas Scott was entitled to the chief credit for them. The claim was rejected by the three daughters of T. Scott.—Times, June 5, 1857.

March 6, 1817.

Warburton informs me that he is certainly to go with Binda to-morrow to Easton Grey. I have made up a little parcel for him or Binda to take. It consists of a curious poem called “Wat Tyler,” written by Southey twenty-five years ago upon the Spencean1 principles, two or three chapters of the MS. “Travels of Browne,”2 sent me by his executor, with a view to publication, and two notes of poor Horner and his last letter, which may be interesting to you at this time, as well as a letter of Mackintosh from India acquainting me with his project of writing his history.

I have no doubt you must have been highly gratified by what passed on Monday in the House of Commons. The tribute to poor Horner’s memory from persons of all descriptions is highly gratifying to his friends and connections. The close of Romilly’s speech on this melancholy occasion is in a high strain of excellence.

You will be concerned to hear that Tierney is far from well. He has a complaint of some standing connected apparently with the liver, for which he takes calomel, and is often obliged to absent himself from the House. This is a great loss, and a serious addition to the many disadvantages which the Opposition has lately sustained. Brougham, it is true, constantly attends, and will become by degrees the practical leader of the party. But this, for some time, will be a great source of weakness; for many of them will not act cordially under such a leader.

1 Called after Thomas Spence’s scheme of land nationalisation.

2 Oriental traveller. Was murdered on his way to Teheran, 1813.


Wat Tyler” is for the library at Easton Grey. It is a great literary curiosity.1

March 11, 1817.

I agree very much in your opinion respecting Jeffrey’s critique of Lord Byron. His taste I have long thought very much perverted; and his praises in this instance are violent and exaggerated. It is not creditable to see the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews bidding, as it were, against each other for the favour of Lord Byron, at a time when he is going out of favour with the public. One might almost suspect that they are afraid of his satirical powers.

You are aware that Jeffrey has been here lately attending the House of Lords on a great Scotch appeal; and, of course, went a great deal into society. But though he showed great talents, neither his public nor private exhibitions were considered as successful, and the journey did not add to his English reputation. He is too subtle and refined, and too little in earnest; and we applied to him what Voltaire said of Rousseau, “Il n’est pas philosophe, mais le premier des sophistes.”

Baring says that the Duke of Wellington told him in Paris that he considered the present French Ministry perfectly safe, and that the king’s death would make no material difference; “Monsieur” being too timid, whatever might be his private inclinations,

1 Southey’s poem of “Wat Tyler,” which was written in 1794 and piratically issued in 1817. Southey applied for, but did not succeed in obtaining, an injunction from Chancery to stop the publication. A contemptuous comparison in the House of Commons by W. Smith, M.P., of its language with that used by Southey in a recent number of the Quarterly Review, provoked its author into addressing a printed letter to him.

to attempt a total change of system.
Talleyrand’s return to Court is entirely with the concurrence of the ministers, to show that they are not afraid of him or the Ultras.

You see that Lord Holland has given notice of a motion relative to the treatment of Napoleon at St. Helena. His information is from the Pole who accompanied him to his place of exile, and who is lately returned. Sir Hudson Lowe’s conduct seems to have been quite unjustifiable; and Lord Holland’s proceeding is manly and generous but not very politic. For it will give occasion for much abuse in the Courier, and increase the unpopularity of the Opposition. This, however, in the present state of the prospects of the Party, is not a very important circumstance. You will be sorry to hear of the failure of the Chinese Embassy, probably in consequence of the Nepaul war. But I hear that Lord Amherst was not sanguine when he went out in his hopes of a favourable reception.

March 14, 1817.

I hope you have seen the Ricardos while they have been in the country. I have not seen or heard of his work on Political Economy except from you. I will ask Malthus about it, but am afraid it will be too metaphysical for my taste.1

March 22, 1817.

I have been much engaged for several days with poor Leonard Horner, who was here on his return from Pisa. He has been extremely harassed, and

1Principles of Political Economy and Taxation.”

Letter from Sydney Smith
his health has suffered a good deal, but I trust not permanently or materially. The account he gives of his
brother’s last moments is in many respects very consolatory. He suffered no pain, and seems not to have been conscious of his approaching dissolution. For some days he had felt himself much better, and even flattered himself with the hopes of travelling the next summer circuit on horseback! The night before his death he had his Italian master with him for two hours, and read the greater part of a canto of Tasso, repeating at the same time from memory several corresponding passages from Virgil.

From the Rev. Sydney Smith to Mr. Whishaw.
March 26, 1817.

My Dear Whishaw,—I have received a melancholy fragment from poor Horner, a letter half finished at his death. I cannot say how much I was affected by it; indeed, in looking back on my own mind I never remember to have felt any event more deeply than his death. It will give us the most sincere pleasure to see you here if it is in your power to reach us. Let us detain you, if you do come, as long as your other avocations will permit.

It is very requisite there should be a monument to Horner. It will be some little satisfaction to us all. I am not without hopes of being in town but do not like leaving the country without collecting the little rents that are due to me. Indeed, if I omitted that ceremony before leaving my friends,
Letter from Sydney Smith
I most probably should never see them again.
Lord Holland has told you the danger I am exposed to of becoming Rector of Covent Garden, of horticultural notoriety. I think this is placing a clergyman in the post of honour, in the van of the battle. Many of my fashionable female hearers in the chapels at the west end of the town were bad, but they were not professional. It would be a most ludicrous ecclesiastical position.

I had a letter from Philips1 yesterday; he begins to tremble for Manchester. In this part of the country there is not the slightest degree of distress among the poor. Everybody is employed and at fair wages, but we are purely agricultural. I was surprised to find Bobus among the anti-alarmists: he does not always keep such good company.

We saw little Jeffrey in his way down. I should be glad to know whether he made a good figure in the House of Lords and produced any effect. I had not seen him for some time, and found him little improved in manner. In essentials he cannot improve. Lady Holland has not written to me since she was in this country. I think I am in disgrace at Court. I shall soon see by Antonio’s2 mode of treating me. Mrs. Sydney sends her kind regards.

Ever, my dear Whishaw,
Most truly yours,
Sydney Smith.

1 George Philips, the “patriotic and fashionable sçavant from Manchester” (Creevey), was interested in the cotton trade, and was member for Uchester from 1812 to 1818.

2 Lady Holland’s page.

African Travellers
From Mr. Whishaw to Mr. Smith.
March 26, 1817.

There seems to be a fatality as to African discoveries. Major Peddie, the leader of the expedition to the Niger, is dead. The route which he meant to pursue was that by which Watt and Winterbotham penetrated into the interior in 1794 by Rio Nunez. Major Peddie and his party came from Senegal to Sierra Leone in November or December last, and from thence proceeded to Rio Nunez; and it was in preparing to set out from Kakundy (a town on that river) that he died. These are all the particulars I have yet heard.

I do not know whether I shall find Warburton at the concert this evening. When he returns I mean to employ him in looking at Browne’s MS. Journal in the Museum. If he is still with you, tell him that Sir H. Davy is gone on a fishing expedition, with Solly and Pepys, to Andrew Knight’s. Rogers says it is an alibi from Lady Davy.

I hear nothing of Ricardo’s publication; but I do not think Mill’s1 judgment can be implicitly relied on. He is clever and ingenious, but by no means a sensible man.

April 2, 1817.

Murray is quite willing to undertake the publication of “Browne’s Travels.” The name, he is confident, will ensure a certain degree of success, especially if the work be accompanied with the account of the author’s life and discoveries. Lord Byron has sent

1 James Mill.

home a
dramatic piece in three acts, which he calls a “Witch’s Tragedy,” composed, probably, in that monstrous and exaggerated taste for which his works are so remarkable. He is highly pleased at what he terms the candour and delicacy of the Quarterly reviewer (Walter Scott), but does not appear to have seen the Edinburgh Review. He talks of returning to England in May.

Cobbett’s flight is very surprising, but it is not altogether to be attributed to the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus. He has been very imprudent in his land speculations in Hampshire, and is deeply in debt. Besides which he is naturally cowardly, and has been writing very tamely and feebly since the commencement of the present alarms.

I accompanied Ricardo on Saturday to Holland House. He seemed pleased with his visit. His book is coming out immediately.

April 4, 1817.

I write only to say that Mr. Ricardo has just concluded a treaty for the marriage of his son Osmond with some lady whom the young man met at Bath, and who, I believe, is of a Warwickshire family. I have not heard her name,1 but Binda says they are highly pleased with the connection.

Mr. Ricardo went down on this business to Bath on Monday, and returned yesterday morning. To-morrow, I believe, he will join our party at the College. It cannot be said that Mr. Ricardo has been improperly influenced, as to the principles of population, by his intimacy with Malthus. He will

1 Miss Mallory.

Lord Amherst’s Embassy
enjoy the blessing of Abraham, and may expect to see a tribe of grandchildren and great-grandchildren round his table.

I forget whether I told you that Madame de Staël has had a violent bilious fever, and that there are great doubts as to her final recovery. I believe that her book, after being offered to several foreign booksellers, will at last be sold to Murray on the terms he originally proposed—£1,500 for the first edition and £500 on the publication of a second.

April 14, 1817.

I have lately looked over the “Embassy to China” of Sir G. Staunton, and entirely agree with you that it is one of the most dull and pompous books existing. I am reading Van Braam’s account of the Dutch Embassy, made the following year, which, though not a lively work, is much more interesting than the former. Taking both accounts together, it seems to have been quite preposterous to send out Lord Amherst. Nothing better was to be expected than what actually took place, and it was almost as if Mr. Canning’s friend was to be provided with a sinecure Embassy as well as his master. The East India Company are understood to have been quite averse to the measure.

Philips is just come from Manchester and Scarlett from the Northern Circuit. They both agreed that Lancashire is remarkably quiet; and Scarlett is clear that the Manchester conspiracies were false alarms. One of the leading orators is a bricklayer’s labourer, lately a Methodist preacher, now a Spencean philosopher, and the people brought to
Manchester Riots
London and examined day after day at
Lord Sidmouth’s1 office are of the lowest class of society. No books or papers have been found, and it is thought they have no evidence sufficient to bring them to trial. Many, indeed, have been discharged both at Manchester and Chester. Indeed, the form of the commitments were perfectly ludicrous: “For that they, together with other ill-disposed persons, amounting to five thousand, combined together and conspired to proceed from Manchester to London for the purpose of presenting a seditious petition to the Prince Regent, &c.”2

May 6, 1817.

The new tragedy,3 owing to good acting, will have some temporary success; your remarks on Miss O’Neil appear to be very just. With all her merits she is defective in propriety and good taste, especially in scenes of horror.

May 7th.

I am afraid Canning had a great triumph last night, and that he fully reinstated himself in the good opinion of the House. The case4 no doubt in reality

1 Home Secretary.

2 This expedition was known as the march of the “Blanketeers,” as each petitioner took with him a blanket to keep himself warm.

3The Apostate,” by Richard Lalor Sheil, the famous Irish politician. It was produced at Covent Garden, with Charles Kemble, Young, and Macready among the actors, with Miss O’Neil, afterwards Lady Becher, in the chief feminine part, and was a marked success.

4 Refers to Canning’s great speech in defence of his Embassy to Lisbon in 1814. Mr. Lambton’s motion had condemned his appointment on the ground that it was uncalled for and “has been attended with an unnecessary and unjustifiable waste of the public money.” Some of the Opposition went so far as to assert that it “was a job” instituted to provide a comfortable retreat for Canning.

is a gross job, but personal questions are always hazardous and generally unpopular, and the House showed the greatest willingness to accept anything which might bear the appearance of a justification. Canning’s speech was ingenious and brilliant, and carried everything before it;
Brougham was hardly listened to.

June 18, 1817.

The acquittal of Watson is a great triumph, and highly honourable to the English law and trial by jury. After reading the trial I am satisfied that the verdict was perfectly right; for independent of Castle there was no proper evidence to convict Watson of a treasonable conspiracy. The result is very discreditable to the Government and its law officers.1

June 21, 1817.

The Ministers have got into some discredit by their credulity as to plots and employment of spies, and by the misconduct of their law officers in Scotland. Lord Milton’s speech last night (from an alarmist and a person well acquainted with the disturbed part of Yorkshire) was very important, and produced a great effect. It is evident that the whole danger consists in Luddism, and arises from scarcity, and want of employment; and that there is no conspiracy, with the exception of such ridiculous projects as those of Dr. Watson.

1 James Watson was a follower of Thomas Spence, condemning the private ownership of land and advocating “parochial partnership.” After the Spa Fields riots he was charged with high treason (June, 1817), but was acquitted. He died in New York in 1838.

Lord Lansdown

Lords Grenville and Grey having intimated their intention in the debate of Monday of retiring from politics, it is thought that Lord Lansdowne will be the leader of the Opposition.

I received the communication last night of poor Mr. Edgeworth’s death, which took place on the 13th. Since the letters I read to you he sent me another, dictated with great vivacity desiring me to send him my criticisms on the new tales, as soon as it was “physically possible”; having ordered the publisher to send me the first impression of the work.

Moore’s poem1 is a failure, and need not excite your curiosity; so, I think, is Lord Byron’sManfred,” though there are striking passages.

June 24, 1817.

I had a very pleasant day at Lansdowne House yesterday. They inquired particularly after you and Mrs. Smith, and hope to see you soon after they get to Bowood. Lady Lansdowne is in excellent spirits but not quite recovered. She has undergone great fatigues; for it seems that, not liking to wait at Lerici, they left their carriage to come by water and came to Genoa by rocky and bad roads on horseback eighty miles, sleeping, of course, at wretched inns, and the labour of the journey not being in any way repaid by any particular beauty of scenery. From Genoa they came to London, stopping only half a day in Paris in twelve days, so anxious were they to be here before the discussion of the Suspension Bill. The debate last night in the House of Commons was most

1Lalla Rookh.”

triumphant on the part of the Opposition.
Romilly spoke admirably.

Miss Mercer1 was married to General Flahault2 at Edinburgh on Friday last. Lord Keith was not present, but it is said he will relent. They are gone into Perthshire.

July 5, 1817.

Ponsonby’s illness was very sudden, and is certainly very serious. It seems to put an entire end to his public life, and will deprive the Whigs of a leader whose place, though he had never been very efficient, it will be very difficult to supply. The embarrassments attending the choice are very great, principally on account of the unpopularity of Brougham, who after all must be the efficient leader. I apprehend, therefore, that no appointment will take place at present, but that people will be left to take their own course; and it is to be feared that many may find their way to the other side of the House.

I have met Talma in company, and heard his recitations, which has given me the opportunity of observing his merits and defects. Upon the whole I have been much pleased with him. He appears in

1 Miss Mercer was one of the great heiresses of the day, and was the attached friend and confidant of Princess Charlotte. She succeeded her father Baron Keith, and was also Baroness Nairne in her own right. At her death the Barony of Keith became extinct. Her daughter, Lady Lansdowne, succeeded to the Barony of Nairne.

2 General de Flahault was a French émigré of no fortune, one of Napoleon’s chief favourites and a reputed son of Talleyrand by Madame de Sonza, formerly Madame de Flahault.

some respects to more advantage as a private individual than on the stage; the awkwardness of his person being less apparent. He is much pleased with his reception here, and talks of returning next spring, though his public recitations were not very successful.

Miss Edgeworth’s new tales appear to be a failure; at least they are decidedly inferior to the best of her former works. The first part of “Ormond” is perhaps an exception to this censure. A book has just been published by Lady Morgan, a popular novel-writer, on France, which seems to be entertaining, and written with very just and liberal views; but it is too large and much too expensive. I forget whether I have mentioned to you “Manfred,” and Moore’s new poem. They may perhaps acquire a little temporary popularity with the fanciful votaries of modern poetry, but can never be permanently successful.

July 15, 1817.

Brougham made an unfortunate finale on Friday, and gave occasion to the best speeches from Canning and Castlereagh which they had made during the Session.

Lady Holland writes from Brussels that their journey has been very prosperous, but that she fears they must go to Holland by Gorcum on account of the bad roads by Nimeguen and Bois le Duc. The French and English Governments and the Duke of Wellington insist upon all the Napoleonists being expelled from the Netherlands before the 14th of August.

Madame de Staël
July 23, 1817.

I hope to send you some extracts from Mr. Edgeworth’s letters which are really interesting and very creditable to his memory. He has left something in the shape of memoirs, which will probably require omissions and corrections. It will give you great pleasure to hear that there is a prospect of letters and papers of poor Horner, which promise to be very interesting and instructive. We had a pleasant day with Warburton on Saturday, and were all much pleased with Chiswick, which is a beautiful specimen of a villa, containing besides several fine pictures. We went also to hear the Apollonicon, which is a very fine organ with six sets of keys, but played by a barrel (the two pieces are Cherubini’s overture of Anacreon and Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito). It is a noble instrument, but not equal in effect to the organ at Haarlem; and Leonard Horner, who has heard both, agrees with me entirely in this opinion.

I had also obtained an order for our seeing Canova’s magnificent colossal statue of Napoleon, which is at Wellington House. It is wretchedly placed at the bottom staircase; but we were all much delighted with it, and I came away with a much higher opinion of Canova’s powers; the style of the statue being much more simple and severe than any of his works which I had before seen. The attitude, as Warburton justly observed, is borrowed from the Apollo Belvedere.

Madame de Staël has left a great correspondence, consisting of many volumes of letters from eminent
J. Mallet
people, many in particular from
Talleyrand. Before her death she acknowledged Rocca as her husband, and a child she had by him six or seven years ago as her legitimate son.

Aug. 1, 1817.

As I believe that Mallet will go to Devonshire in the course of the autumn, I hope to induce him to go by Easton Grey; but I wish to know what is the time of the Gloucester music meeting, that he may not interfere with that engagement. Not being able to go myself to Easton Grey, I hope to make amends for my absence by sending you some of my best friends. You know how long I have been connected with Mallet, but it is not till lately that we have been extremely intimate. I knew his private worth and excellent public principles; but I did not fully appreciate his pleasing manners, his affectionate disposition, and his refined taste in literature and society. Much as you like him at present, I am sure you will like him still better the more you know him.

Dover, Aug. 5, 1817.

Just before I left London1 I saw a letter from Mr. Ward2 whom you saw at Bowood, mentioning a report, which he seems to believe, that Madame de Staël conformed before her death to the Roman Catholic religion, principally through the influence of her friend M. Schlegel, who became a convert

1 During the autumn of 1817 Mr. Whishaw was on the Continent for some months.

2 John William Ward, afterwards Viscount Dudley and Ward by succession. Created Earl Dudley in 1827.

Ugo Foscolo
some time ago. It is not a very unnatural sequel of her conduct and opinions.

Without making any positive engagements I hope to write to you occasionally during my journey. You will be glad to hear that my commencement has been very auspicious; the carriage performs capitally, besides being very convenient and the motion very agreeable. I came to Rochester with my own horses, who brought it (stopping an hour at Dartford) in less than six hours. We are now in the act of putting the carriage on board the Antwerp packet. William,1 as you know, is very active and intelligent, and I am glad to find that he has a great taste for the journey. He asked me this morning, with some earnestness, whether “it was really true that we should see those grand mountains the Alps.”

I send Mrs. Smith a letter received from poor Foscolo,2 which may perhaps be worth adding to her

1 His servant.

2 Ugo Foscolo, 1777-1827, distinguished refugee and writer, a contributor to the Edinburgh Review.

From Ugo Foscolo to Mr. Whishaw.
collection. He is abundantly grateful for a few slight civilities which I have shown him; and is in his nature generous and kind, but very jealous and irritable.

Paris, Hôtel de Rivoli,
Aug. 18, 1817.

I called on M. Gallois, who unluckily was gone into the country for a few days; but I found Benjamin Constant at home and had a long conversation with him. He entirely denies the strange story of Madame de Staël’s conversion, for which I am satisfied there is no foundation. I have written to Murray, the bookseller, who received and has given circulation to the account, to desire that he will contradict the report.

Pray tell Mrs. Smith that the Parisian bonnets and headdresses seem to be more preposterous even than last year. The favourite amusement of the ladies is to slide down in cars, from great eminences, constructed for the purpose, called Montagnes Russes, for which a more complicated machinery is now substituted, called Les Montagnes, Suisses, or Aeriennes. Great gardens have just been opened with a large apparatus of this kind in the Champs Elysees.

Lincoln’s Inn,
Nov. 8, 1817.

The death of the Princess Charlotte has produced an universal gloom, and is felt as a great public calamity. Lord King, who has been several times at Claremont, writes to me that he is more affected than he could have supposed it possible by such an event. The Prince and Princess were so happy in each other,
Death of Princess Charlotte
and conducted themselves so well as to have engaged the affections of all that neighbourhood, and the grief for her loss is universal and sincere. With respect, however, to party politics, the event is of no great importance; the Prince appearing to have obtained an overruling influence, and though courteous to the Opposition, being devotedly attached to the present Ministers, and especially to
Lord Castlereagh, one of the principal authors of the marriage.

I find it a very agreeable occupation to look over the different Travels in Italy, none of which satisfy me, Eustace1 perhaps, least of all because of his great pretensions. Forsyth,2 though he has the merit of thinking for himself, is likewise very unsatisfactory. A good book on Italy is still wanting and is likely to remain so, since it requires a greater combination of knowledge, good taste, and good sense than will ever be devoted to such a composition. Persons possessing these qualities in the requisite degree will not write books of travels.

Lord Byron has finished his fourth canto, which will be brought back by J. Hobhouse. It relates

1 John Chetwode Eustace, 1762-1815, a Liberal Roman Catholic, and friend of Edmund Burke. Travelled in Italy in 1802 and again later. His tour through Italy was published in 1813, which acquired for him immediately a wide reputation. Hobhouse, however, criticised him as “one of the most inaccurate and unsatisfactory writers of our time.” He died at Naples, 1815.

2 Joseph Forsyth, 1763-1815. Spent most of 1802 and 1803 in travelling in Italy. He was imprisoned during the war at Nismes and afterwards at Verdun, where he remained five years, and only regained his liberty in 1814. His “Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, Letters” came out in 1813, and was often reprinted.

principally to Venice. I hope his muse will do justice to that extraordinary place, beautiful in itself and rich in historical recollections, and rendered perhaps still more interesting by its present melancholy state of depopulation and decay.

Nov. 27, 1817.

I think it very likely that J. Hobhouse will publish, and I know he has written some notes for the fourth canto of “Childe Harold,” which is to be published this winter. Did I tell you that he is to receive no less than £2,500 for this single poem? He insisted on that sum.

He (Lord Byron) has written some curious letters, which I have seen, among others a singular admission that upon looking into the older poets, especially Pope, and comparing them with himself, and the other fashionable moderns, he is struck with a great sense of inferiority.

Dec. 6, 1817.

I returned the beginning of this week from a very agreeable visit to Sir J. Mackintosh, with whom I passed the best part of three days. He was in good spirits, and has lost none of his powers of conversation, but his health is variable, and he has passed a very indifferent summer, by which the progress of his work has been a great deal retarded. He showed me many curious historical documents, which throw light on the transactions of the present reign.

I spoke in my last letter of Lord Byron’s singular testimony in favour of Pope. In one of his late letters from Venice, speaking of “Lalla Rookh,” and of Moore’s poetical style, he says: “Scott, Moore, Wordsworth,
Southey, Campbell, and I are all of us wrong, and have gone upon a revolutionary poetical system or systems not worth a damn. I have no doubt that posterity, and perhaps the present generation, will finally be of this opinion. I am the more convinced of this, from having lately read several books of the writers just mentioned, side by side with some of our great classics, especially Pope; and I am astonished and mortified at the ineffable distance between the little man of Queen Anne’s reign and us of the lower empire, not only in sense, harmony, and general effect, but in imagination, passion, and even in invention. Depend on it, it was all Horace then, and is all Claudian now.”

I should have been better pleased with this opinion had it been more temperately expressed. I do not quote the letter, but write from recollection, though sure of most of the expressions.

I have received some of Horner’s papers, which appear to me to be very interesting, especially those relating to his early studies. I am to read some of the principal passages to the Abercrombys and Mallet, who will assist me with judgment as to what ought finally to be done.1

1 In 1820, Leonard Horner wrote to Dr. Marcet: “You will, I am sure, be sorry to hear that Mr. Whishaw has finally relinquished the task he had given us some hope he would undertake of writing a biographical memoir of my lamented brother. Ever since the sad death of Sir S. Romilly he has never been able to look at the papers which had been put into his hands. . . . After a great deal of anxious deliberation, it was at length determined by him and by J. Abercromby that I ought to undertake the Memoir myself.”