LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
Laman Blanchard VIII
Peter George Patmore, diary entry, 7 May 1838

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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May 7, 1838.—Dined yesterday at B——’s

* “I weep the more because I weep in vain.”

—a literary party of ten:—
Bell (of the “Atlas”), Jerdan, Blanchard, Leigh Hunt, Robertson (editor of the “Westminster Review”), Villiers, Wallace, a gentleman whose name I did not hear, and myself. Better talk than I have heard for some time,—chiefly, however, indeed almost entirely, from B—— himself and Hunt. B—— related some capital things; among others, two new anecdotes about Wellington, which he had heard from his own lips, a few days before, at a small dinner-party. Both of them related to the friendly feelings and intercourse that subsisted between the English and the French troops in the Peninsula, when they were not engaged in actual combat. One related to Col. Aguilar. Being personally acquainted with some officers of the French regiment which lay in front of his own, he had been invited to dine at their quarters, the two regiments being at the time “observing” each other. Just after dinner, while they were at the height of enjoying themselves, a messenger came from the Duke to Col. Aguilar, to move his men backwards a certain distance, the Duke
having observed that they were placed nearer than he wished to the French regiment; and the messenger of the Duke had been allowed to pass to the Colonel. The message was read by Col. A., and he immediately rose to go; and on being pressed to stay a couple of hours longer, or explain why he could not, he told the French Colonel the nature of the message he had received from the Duke. “Oh,” said the French Colonel, “if that’s all, I’ll manage that for you. I’ll move my men back the distance that the Duke requires, and then yours will be in their right position.” And he did so.

The other anecdote related more immediately to the Duke himself, and is of great interest and importance, as his own life or death was involved in it. He had been persuaded to try a beautiful white charger, which he proceeded to do, attended by one person only (an orderly, I think B—— said); and, without much thinking where he was riding, he suddenly came right in front of the French piquet, who, seeing the white charger, and supposing that it was some one of consequence, and that they were part of a larger
party, instantly raised their guns and pointed at the Duke. “I thought it was all over with me,” the Duke said, in relating the anecdote, “but the man who followed me cried out, ‘Stop, stop; ce nest rien, ce nest rien,’—we are not followed by anybody!” The Frenchmen immediately withdrew their guns, “and my life was saved,” the Duke added.

B—— then related another story arising out of these military recollections. When he was at Naples, three or four years ago, he was introduced personally to the King, who has not an idea in his head but of military matters, and who delights in nothing but in “playing at soldiers.” And not supposing that it could be deemed worth while by the people about him to present any foreigners but such as had distinguished themselves in a military way, he took it for granted B—— was a military hero, and treated him accordingly. “You are very young, Mr. B——,” he said, “were you at Waterloo?” (Mr. B. was about ten years old when Waterloo was fought.) “I do not recollect your name in connexion with any remarkable events,
though I hear you have greatly distinguished yourself. Are you fond of reviews?* I will give you a review, if you like; or, perhaps, you would like yourself to review my troops? I gave your countryman,
General Sir Walter Scott, a review when he was here.”

On hearing this anecdote, Hunt said, “We’ve heard of some one who was said to have abused the privilege which his countrymen had of being ugly. This gentleman seems to have abused the privilege which kings have of being ignorant.”

B—— said some one (at the party where he met the Duke, whom he described as having been singularly pleasant and communicative) asked him whether he observed anything in the tactics of Napoleon at Waterloo, the only occasion where he had met him, which indicated any of that vast superiority which was attributed to his military talents by many. He said—no, nothing whatever; and he expressed his distinct opinion that Napoleon was a very clever commander, but nothing

* His Majesty, we must suppose, did not mean to pun.

more; and that his cleverness chiefly consisted in the way in which he availed himself of the peculiar moral and physical qualities of the troops he commanded. He added, that by far the cleverest of the French commanders were
Soult and Massena, whom he ranked much above Napoleon, as generals.

The talk after dinner was chiefly learned—a great deal too much so to be either amusing or clever. It was begun by ——, who dawdled out some question to B—— about the mode of pronouncing Greek, by the modern Greeks, who seem to Frenchify it (so to speak), getting rid of all the richness and grandeur—in other words, all the mouthings of it.

In the course of this conversation, Hunt referred to some of the crotchets of the Greek and Latin poets, or rather versifiers; and to one in particular, who wrote a Latin poem, consisting of three hundred lines, every word of which begins (for it is extant, I think he said) with the letter P. He repeated two or three of the lines.   *   *   *

The talk up-stairs, which formed itself into little committees of three and four, was very
pleasant and gossiping. And, towards the end of the evening, there was an admirable talk between B——,
Hunt, and Blanchard (apropos to a supposed contemporary portrait of Shakspeare), on the Shakspeare sonnets,—those at least addressed to Lord Southampton. It was chiefly carried on by Hunt, who gave an admirable (but somewhat alarming) account of them, with reference to the equivocal expressions in which they abound, under the supposition of their being addressed to a man. B—— seemed to think that there was no defending them on this point; but Hunt got through it with extraordinary eloquence and beauty, both of style, of thought, and of feeling. I never heard him talk nearly so well as he did to-night.

There was also another very interesting discussion, in which he took a leading part, namely, on the character of Lord Bacon—the bad parts of which he defended nobly and beautifully, as did B—— also; he (Hunt), however, contending that Bacon never went beyond the point of being able “to justify his deeds unto himself;” whereas B—— held that he stuck at nothing to gain
his worldly ends; but that he was anything but a mean villain—that he was a great one;—great in the good as well as the bad sense of the word.

Hunt started a theory about poetry,—that it was the result of immediate feeling, and nothing else; that there was no such thing as a poetry of thought. Thought, he said, was merely the reflection of feeling—feeling at second hand; and, in illustrating his theory, he went on as follows, giving it as an instance of the poetry of feeling:—“One of my boys had been out walking, and on his return he could not get in; for we (meaning all the rest of the family) were out, and the servant, it appeared, was asleep. At last, he got in—[at the window, I suppose, for I did not understand exactly how, she being asleep and nobody else at home] and there he found her, as he said, lying asleep on a sofa, crouched up, looking hot and furious.” This was what he gave as an instance of the poetry of feeling.

Another little incident I had almost forgotten. —— and —— were expatiating together on the bust of Dante, tracing very
learnedly his whole “life and character,” in the lines, hollows, and marks of his noble countenance—having been all the time tracing the characteristics of Dante in the features of
Ariosto! The blunder probably occurred from the two busts having lately changed places. They discovered their own mistake in the midst of the discussion, and then quietly moved across to the other bust, and made out the same case in regard to that.

I would have refrained from putting down this little anecdote, if it were not that I look upon it as a very curious and valuable instance of the power of the imagination in cases of this nature. In fact, with a thorough knowledge and an intense perception of any human character, you rosy fancy you see the traces of it in almost any face.