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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Journal Entry: 17 November 1813

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“Nov. 17th.

“No letter from * *;—but I must not complain. The respectable Job says, ‘Why should a living man complain?’ I really don’t know, except it be that a dead man can’t; and he, the said patriarch, did complain, nevertheless, till his friends were tired, and his wife recommended that pious prologue, ‘Curse—and die;’ the only time, I suppose, when but little relief is to be found in swearing. I have had a most kind letter from Lord Holland on ‘The Bride of Abydos,’ which he likes, and so does Lady H. This is very good-natured in both, from whom I don’t deserve any quarter. Yet I did think, at the time, that my cause of enmity proceeded from Holland-house, and am glad I was wrong, and wish I had not been in such a hurry with that confounded satire, of which I would suppress even the memory;—but people, now they can’t get it, make. a fuss, I verily believe, out contradiction.

George Ellis and Murray have been talking something about Scott and me, George pro Scoto,—and very right too. If they want to depose him, I only wish they would not set me up as a competitor. Even if I

* “Earth holds no other like to thee,
Or, If it doth, in vain for me:
For worlds I dare not view the dame
Resembling thee, yet not the same.”

440 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.
had my choice, I would rather be the
Earl of Warwick than all the kings he ever made! Jeffrey and Gifford I take to be the monarch-makers in poetry and prose. The British Critic, in their Rokeby Review, have presupposed a comparison, which I am sure my friends never thought of, and W. Scott’s subjects are injudicious in descending to. I like the man—and admire his works to what Mr. Braham calls Entusymusy. All such stuff can only vex him, and do me no good. Many hate his politics.—(I hate all politics); and, here, a man’s politics are like the Greek soul—an ειδωλον, besides God knows what other soul; but their estimate of the two generally go together.

“Harry has not brought ma petite cousine. I want us to go to the play together;—she has been but once. Another short note from Jersey, inviting Rogers and me on the 23d. I must see my agent to-night. I wonder when that Newstead business will be finished. It cost me more than words to part with it—and to have parted with it! What matters it what I do? or what becomes of me?—but let me remember Job’s saying, and console myself with being ‘a living man.’

“I wish I could settle to reading again,—my life is monotonous, and yet desultory. I take up books, and fling them down again. I began a comedy, and burnt it because the scene ran into reality;—a novel, for the same reason. In rhyme, I can keep more away from facts: but the thought always runs through, through . . . . . . . . . yes, yes, through. I have had a letter from Lady Melbourne—the best friend I ever had in my life, and the cleverest of women. * * * * *

“Not a word from * *. Have they set out from * *? or has my last precious epistle fallen into the Lion’s jaws? If so—and this silence looks suspicious.—I must clap on ‘my musty morion’ and ‘hold out my iron.’ I am out of practice,—but I won’t begin again at Manton’s now. Besides, I would not return his shot. I was once a famous wafer-splitter;—but then the bullies of society made it necessary. Ever since I began to feel that I had a had cause to support, I have left off the exercise.

What strange tidings from that Anakim of anarchy—Buonaparte!
A. D. 1813. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 441
Ever since I defended my bust of him at Harrow against the rascally time-servers, when the war broke out in 1803, he has been a ‘Héros de Roman’ of mine—on the continent; I don’t want him here. But I don’t like those same flights,—leaving of armies, &c. &c. I am sure when I fought for his bust at school, I did not think he would run away from himself. But I should not wonder if he banged them yet. To be beat by men would be something; but by three stupid, legitimate-old-dynasty boobies of regular-bred sovereigns—O-hone-a-rie!—O-hone-a-rie! It must be, as
Cobbett says, his marriage with the thick-lipped and thick-headed Autrichienne brood. He had better have kept to her who was kept by Barras. I never knew any good come of your young wife, and legal espousals, to any but your ‘sober-blooded boy’ who ‘eats fish’ and drinketh ‘no sack.’ Had he not the whole opera? all Paris? all France? But a mistress is just as perplexing—that is, one—two ‘or more are manageable by division.

“I have begun, or had begun, a song, and flung it into the fire. It was in remembrance of Mary Duff, my first of flames, before most people begin to burn. I wonder what the devil is the matter with me! I can do nothing, and—fortunately there is nothing to do. It has lately been in my power to make two persons (and their connexions) comfortable, pro tempore, and one happy ex tempore,—I rejoice in the last particularly, as it in an excellent man*. I wish there had been more inconvenience and less gratification to my self-love in it, for then there had been more merit. We are all selfish—and I believe, ye gods of Epicurus! I believe in Rochefoucault about men, and in Lucretius (not Busby’s translation) about yourselves. Your bard has made you very nonchalant and blest; but as he has excused us from damnation, I don’t envy you your blessedness much—a little to be sure. I remember, last year, * * said to me, at * *, ‘Have we not passed our last month like the gods of Lucretius?’ And so we had. She is an adept in the text of the original (which I like too); and when that booby Bus. sent his translating prospectus, she subscribed. But, the devil prompting him to add a specimen. she transmitted him a subsequent answer, saying, that, ‘after perusing

* Evidently Mr. Hodgson.

442 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.
it, her conscience would not permit her to allow her name to remain on the list of subscribblers.’ * * * * * * * * Last night, at
Lord H.’sMackintosh, the Ossulstones, Puységur, &c. there—I was trying to recollect a quotation (as I think) of Staël’s, from some Teutonic sophist about architecture. ‘Architecture,’ says this Macoronico Tedescho, ‘reminds me of frozen music.’ It is somewhere—but where?—the demon of perplexity must know and won’t tell. I asked M., and he said it was not in her; but P—r said it must be hers, it was so like. * * * * * * * * * * H. laughed, as he does at all ‘De l’Allemagne,’—in which, however, I think he goes a little too far. B., I hear, contemns it too. But there are fine passages;—and, after all, what is a work—any—or every work—but a desert with fountains, and, perhaps, a grove or two, every day’s journey? To be sure, in Madame, what we often mistake, and ‘pant for,’ as the ‘cooling stream,’ turns out to be the mirage (criticé, verbiage); but we do, at last, get to something like the temple of Jove Ammon, and then the waste we have passed is only remembered to gladden the contrast.

* * * * * *

“Called on C * *, to explain * * *. She is very beautiful, to my taste, at least; for on coming home from abroad, I recollect being unable to look at any woman but her—they were so fair, and unmeaning, and blonde. The darkness and regularity of her features reminded me of my ‘Jannat al Aden.’ But this impression wore off; and now I can look at a fair woman, without longing for a Houri. She was very good-tempered, and every thing was explained.

“To-day, great news—‘the Dutch have taken Holland,’—which, I suppose, will be succeeded by the actual explosion of the Thames. Five provinces have declared for young Stadt, and there will be inundation, conflagration, constupration, consternation, and every sort of nation and nations, fighting away, up to their knees, in the damnable quags of this will-o’-the-wisp abode of Boors. It is said Bernadotte is amongst them, too; and, as Orange will be there soon, they will have (Crown) Prince Stork and King Log in their Loggery at the same time. Two to one on the new dynasty!

Mr. Murray has offered me one thousand guineas for the ‘Giaour
A. D. 1813. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 443
and the ‘
Bride of Abydos.’ I won’t—it is too much, though I am strongly tempted, merely for the say of it. No bad price for a fortnight’s (a week each) what?—the gods know—it was intended to be called Poetry.

“I have dined regularly to-day, for the first time since Sunday last—this being Sabbath, too. All the rest, tea and dry biscuits—six per diem. I wish to God I had not dined now!—It kills me with heaviness, stupor, and horrible dreams;—and yet it was but a pint of bucellas, and fish*. Meat I never touch,—nor much vegetable diet. I wish I were in the country, to take exercise,—instead of being obliged to cool by abstinence, in lieu of it. I should not so much mind a little accession of flesh,—my bones can well bear it. But the worst is, the devil always came with it,—till I starve him out,—and I will not be the slave of any appetite. If I do err, it shall be my heart, at least, that heralds the way. Oh my head—how it aches!—the horrors of digestion! I wonder how Buonaparte’s dinner agrees with him?

“Mem. I must write to-morrow to ‘Master Shallow, who owes me a thousand pounds,’ and seems, in his letter, afraid I should ask him for it†;—as if I would!—I don’t want it (just now, at least), to begin with; and though I have often wanted that sum, I never asked for the repayment of £10 in my life—from a friend. His bond is not due this year, and I told him, when it was, I should not enforce it. How often must he make me say the same thing?

“I am wrong—I did once ask * * *‡ to repay me. But it was under circumstances that excused me to him, and would to any one. I took no interest, nor required security. He paid me soon,—at least, his padre. My head! I believe it was given me to ache with. Good even.

* He had this year so far departed from his strict plan of diet as to eat fish occasionally.

† We have hero another instance, in addition to the munificent aid afforded to Mr. Hodgson, of the generous readiness of the poet, notwithstanding his own limited means, to make the resources he possessed available for the assistance of his friends.

‡ Left blank thus in the original.

444 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.