LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Journal Entry: 17-18 December 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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“December 17, 18.

Lord Holland told me a curious piece of sentimentality in Sheridan*. The other night we were all delivering our respective and various opinions on him and other hommes marquans, and mine was this. ‘Whatever Sheridan has done or chosen to do has been, par excellence, always the best of its kind. He has written the best comedy (School for Scandal), the best drama (in my mind, far before that St. Giles’s lampoon, the Beggar’s Opera), the best farce (the Critic—it is only too good for a farce), and the best Address (Monologue on Garrick), and, to crown all, delivered the very best Oration (the famous Begum Speech) ever conceived or heard in this country.’ Somebody told S. this the next day, and on hearing it, he burst into tears!

* This passage of the Journal has already appeared in my Life of Sheridan.

470 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1813.

“Poor Brinsley! if they were tears of pleasure, I would rather have said these few, but most sincere, words than have written the Iliad or made his own celebrated Philippic. Nay, his own comedy never gratified me more than to hear that he had derived a moment’s gratification from any praise of mine, humble as it must appear to ‘my elders and my betters.’

“Went to my box at Covent-garden to-night; and my delicacy felt a little shocked at seeing S * * *’s mistress (who, to my certain knowledge, was actually educated, from her birth, for her profession) sitting with her mother, ‘a three-piled b—d, b—d-Major to the army,’ in a private box opposite. I felt rather indignant; but, casting my eyes round the house, in the next box to me, and the next, and the next, were the most distinguished old and young Babylonians of quality;—so I burst out a laughing. It was really odd; Lady * * divorced—Lady * * and her daughter, Lady * *, both divorceable—Mrs. * *†, in the next, the like, and still nearer * * * * * *! What an assemblage to me, who know all their histories. It was as if the house had been divided between your public and your understood courtesans;—but the Intriguantes much outnumbered the regular mercenaries. On the other side were only Pauline and her mother, and, next box to her, three of inferior note. Now, where lay the difference between her and mamma, and Lady * * and daughter? except that the two last may enter Carleton and any other house, and the two first are limited to the opera and b— house. How I do delight in observing life as it really is!—and myself, after all, the worst of any. But, no matter—I must avoid egotism, which, just now, would be no vanity.

“I have lately written a wild, rambling, unfinished rhapsody, called ‘The Devil’s Drive‡,’ the notion of which I took from Porson’sDevil’s Walk.’

“Redde some Italian, and wrote two Sonnets on * * *. I never wrote but one sonnet before, and that was not in earnest, and many

† These names are all left blank in the original.

‡ Of this strange, wild Poem, which extends to about 250 lines, the only copy that Lord Byron, I believe, ever wrote, he presented to Lord Holland. Though with a good deal of vigour and imagination, it is, for the most part, rather clumsily executed, wanting the point and

A. D. 1813. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 471
years ago, as an exercise—and I will never write another. They are the most pulling, petrifying, stupidly platonic compositions. I detest the
Petrarch so much*, that I would not be the man even to have obtained his Laura, which the metaphysical, whining dotard never could.

* * * * * * *

condensation of those clever verses of Mr. Coleridge which Lord Byron, adopting a notion long prevalent, has attributed to Professor Porson. There are, however, some of the stanzas of “The Devil’s Drive” well worth preserving.

“The Devil return’d to hell by two,
And he staid at home till five;
When he dined on some homicides done in ragoût,
And a rebel or so in an Irish stew,
And sausages made of a self-slain Jew,
And bethought himself what next to do,
‘And,’ quoth he, ‘I’ll take a drive.
I walk’d in the morning, I’ll ride to-night;
In darkness my children take moat delight,
And I’ll see how my favourites thrive.
“‘And what shall I ride in?’ quoth Lucifer, then—
‘If I follow’d my taste, indeed,
I should mount in a waggon of wounded men,
And smile to see them bleed.
But these will be furnish’d again and again,
And at present my purpose is speed;
To see my manor as much as I may,
And watch that no souls shall be poach’d away.
“‘I have a state-coach at C— House,
A chariot in Seymour-place;
But they’re lent to two friends, who make me amends
By driving my favourite pace:
And they handle their reins with such a grace,
I have something for both at the end of their race.
“‘So now for the earth to take my chance.’
Then up to the earth sprung he;

* He learned to think more reverently of “the Petrarch” afterwards.