Journals of Lord Byron 1814

Journals of Lord Byron 1814 is in Journals of Lord Byron.

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron 07 March 1814

07 Mar 1814. Rose at seven—ready by half past eight—went to Mr. Hanson’s, Berkeley-square—went to church with his eldest daughter, Mary Anne1 (a good girl), and gave her away to the Earl of Portsmouth (46). Saw her fairly a countess—congratulated the family and groom (bride)—drank a bumper of wine (wholesome sherris) to their felicity, and all that,—and came home. Asked to stay to dinner, but could not. At three sat to Phillips for faces. Called on Lady M (62).—I like her so well, that I always stay too long. (Mem. to mend of that)

Passed the evening with Hobbouse (27), who has begun a Poem, which promises highly;—wish he would go on with it. Heard some curious extracts from a life of Morosini2, the blundering Venetian, who blew up the Acropolis at Athens with a bomb, and be d—d to him! Waxed sleepy—just come home—must go to bed, and am engaged to meet Sheridan (62) to-morrow at Rogers’s (50).

Queer ceremony that same of marriage—saw many abroad, Greek and Catholic—one, at home, many years ago. There be some strange phrases in the prologue (the exhortation), which made me turn away, not to laugh in the face of the surpliceman. Made one blunder, when I joined the hands of the happy—rammed their left hands, by mistake, into one another. Corrected it—bustled back to the altar-rail, and said ‘Amen.’ Portsmouth (46) responded as if he had got the whole by heart; and, if any thing, was rather before the priest. It is now midnight, and ******.

Note 1. Lord Portsmouth (see Letters, vol. i. p. 9, note 2 [Footnote 3 of Letter 3]), who had long known the Hansons, from whose house he married his first wife, married, March 7, 1814, Mary Anne, eldest daughter of John Hanson. A commission of lunacy was taken out by the brother and next heir, the Hon. Newton Fellowes; but Lord Chancellor Eldon decided that Lord Portsmouth was capable of entering into the marriage contract and managing his own affairs. The commission was, however, ultimately granted. Byron swore an affidavit on the first occasion.

Denman mentioned Lord Byron's affidavit about Lord Portsmouth as a proof of the influence of Hanson over him; Lord B. swearing that Lord P. had 'rather a superior mind than otherwise'" (Memoirs, etc., of Thomas Moore, vol. vi. p. 47).

The following is the note which Byron sent Hanson to embody in his affidavit:

I have been acquainted with Mr. Hanson and his family for many years. He is my solicitor. About the beginning of March last he sent to me to ask my opinion on the subject of Lord Portsmouth, who, as I understood from Mr. H., was paying great attention to his eldest daughter. He stated to me that Mr. Newton Fellowes (with whom I have no personal acquaintance) was particularly desirous that Lord Portsmouth should marry some 'elderly woman' of his (Mr. Fellowes's) selection—that the title and family estates might thereby devolve on Mr. F. or his children; but that Lord P. had expressed a dislike to old women, and a desire to choose for himself. I told Mr. Hanson that, if Miss Hanson's affections were not pre-engaged, and Lord Portsmouth appeared attached to her, there could be, in my opinion, no objection to the match. I think, but cannot be positive, that I saw Lord Portsmouth at Mr. Hanson's two or three times previous to the marriage; but I had no conversation with him upon it.

The night before the ceremony, I received an invitation from Mr. Hanson, requesting me, as a friend of the family, to be present at the marriage, which was to take place next morning. I went next morning to Bloomsbury Square, where I found the parties. Lady Portsmouth, with her brother and sister and another gentleman, went in the carriage to St. George's Church; Lord Portsmouth and myself walked, as the carriage was full, and the distance short. On my way Lord Portsmouth told me that he had been partial to Miss Hanson from her childhood, and that, since she grew up, and more particularly subsequent to the decease of the late Lady P., this partiality had become attachment, and that he thought her calculated to make him an excellent wife. I was present at the ceremony and gave away the bride. Lord Portsmouth's behaviour seemed to me perfectly calm and rational on the occasion. He seemed particularly attentive to the priest, and gave the responses audibly and very distinctly. I remarked this because, in ordinary conversation, his Lordship has a hesitation in his speech. After the ceremony, we returned to Mr. Hanson's, whence, I believe, they went into the country—where I did not accompany them. Since their return I have occasionally seen Lord and Lady Portsmouth in Bloomsbury Square. They appeared very happy. I have never been very intimate with his Lordship, and am therefore unqualified to give a decided opinion of his general conduct. But had I considered him insane, I should have advised Mr. Hanson, when he consulted me on the subject, not to permit the marriage. His preference of a young woman to an old one, and of his own wishes to those of a younger brother, seemed to me neither irrational nor extraordinary."

There is nothing in the note itself, or in the draft affidavit, to bear out Moore's report of Denman's statement.

Byron, according to the account given by Newton Hanson, is wrong in saying that Mrs. Hanson approved of the marriage. On the contrary, it was the cause of her death, a fortnight later. In 1828 the marriage was annulled, a jury having decided that Lord Portsmouth was non compos mentis when he contracted it.

Note 2. Francesco Morosini (1618-1694) occupied the Morea for Venice (1687), besieged Athens, and bombarded the Parthenon, which had been made a powder-magazine. He became Doge of Venice in 1688.

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron by Moore 10 March 1814

10 Mar 1814. Thor's day. On Tuesday dined with Rogers (50),—Mackintosh, Sheridan (62), Sharpe,—much talk, and good,—all, except my own little prattlement. Much of old times—Horne Tooke—the Trials—evidence of Sheridan (62), and anecdotes of those times, when I, alas! was an infant. If I had been a man, I would have made an English Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

Set down Sheridan (62) at Brookes’s,—where, by the by, he could not have well set down himself, as he and I were the only drinkers. Sherry means to stand for Westminster, as Cochrane (38)1 (the stock-jobbing hoaxer) must vacate. Brougham (35)2 is a candidate. I fear for poor dear Sherry. Both have talents of the highest order, but the youngster has yet a character. We shall see, if he lives to Sherry’s age, how he will pass over the red-hot ploughshares of public life. I don’t know why, but I hate to see the old ones lose; particularly Sheridan, notwithstanding all his méchanceté.

Received many, and the kindest, thanks from Lady Portsmouth, père and mère, for my match-making. I don’t regret it, as she looks the countess well, and is a very good girl. It is odd how well she carries her new honours. She looks a different woman, and high-bred, too. I had no idea that I could make so good a peeress.

Went to the play with Hobbouse (27). Mrs. Jordan (52) superlative in Hoyden3, and Jones well enough in Foppington. What plays! what wit!—helas! Congreve and Vanbrugh are your only comedy. Our society is too insipid now for the like copy. Would not go to Lady Keith’s (49). Hobhouse (27) thought it odd. I wonder he should like parties. If one is in love, and wants to break a commandment and covet any thing that is there, they do very well. But to go out amongst the mere herd, without a motive, pleasure, or pursuit—’sdeath! ‘I’ll none of it.’ He told me an odd report,—that I am the actual Conrad, the veritable Corsair, and that part of my travels are supposed to have passed in privacy. Um!—people sometimes hit near the truth; but never the whole truth. H. don’t know what I was about the year after he left the Levant; nor does any one—nor—nor—nor—however, it is a lie—but, ‘I doubt the equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth!

I shall have letters of importance to-morrow. Which, **, **, or **? heigho!—** is in my heart, ** in my head, ** in my eye, and the single one, Heaven knows where. All write, and will be answered. ‘Since I have crept in favour with myself, I must maintain it;’ but I never ‘mistook my person,’ though I think others have.

** called to-day in great despair about his mistress, who has taken a freak of ***. He began a letter to her, but was obliged to stop short—I finished it for him, and he copied and sent it. If he holds out and keeps to my instructions of affected indifference, she will lower her colours. If she don’t, he will, at least, get rid of her, and she don’t seem much worth keeping. But the poor lad is in love—if that is the case, she will win. When they once discover their power, finita è la musica.

Sleepy, and must go to bed.

Note 1. Thomas, Lord Cochrane (1775-1860), eldest son of the ninth Earl of Dundonald, a captain in the Royal Navy, and M. P. for Westminster, had done brilliant service in his successive commands—the Speedy, Pallas, Impérieuse, and the flotilla of fire-ships at Basque Roads in 1809. In the House of Commons he had been a strong opponent of the Government, an advocate of Parliamentary Reform, and a vigorous critic of naval administration. In February, 1814, he had been appointed to the Tonnant for the American Station, and it was while he was on a week's leave of absence in London, before sailing, that the stock-jobbing hoax occurred.

During the days February 8-26, 1814, it seemed possible that Napoleon might defeat the Allied Armies, and the Funds were sensitive to every rumour. At midnight on Sunday, February 20, a man calling himself Du Bourg brought news to Admiral Foley, at Dover, that Napoleon had been killed by a party of Cossacks. Hurrying towards London, Du Bourg, whose real name was Berenger, spread the news as he went. Arrived in London soon after daybreak, he went to Cochrane's house, and there changed his uniform. When the Stock Exchange opened at ten on February 21, 1814, the Funds rose rapidly, and among those who sold on the rise was Cochrane. The next day, when the swindle had been discovered, the Stocks fell.

A Stock Exchange Committee sat to investigate the case, and their report (March 7) threw grave suspicion on Cochrane. He, his uncle, Cochrane Johnstone, a Mr. Butt, and Berenger, were indicted for a conspiracy, tried before Lord Ellenborough, June 8-9, and convicted. Cochrane was sentenced to a year's imprisonment and a fine of £1000. On the back of the note for £1000 (still kept in the Bank of England) with which he paid his fine on July 3, 1815, he wrote:

My health having suffered by long and close confinement, and my oppressors being resolved to deprive me of property or life, I submit to robbery to protect myself from murder, in the hope that I shall live to bring the delinquents to justice."

Cochrane was also expelled from the House of Commons and from the Order of the Bath. There is little doubt that the circumstances were extremely suspicious. Those who wish to form an opinion as to Cochrane's guilt or innocence will find the subject of the trial exhaustively treated in Mr. J.B. Atlay's Lord Cochrane's Trial before Lord Ellenborough (1897).

Note 2. Henry, Lord Brougham (1778-1868) acknowledged that he wrote the famous article on Byron's Hours of Idleness in the Edinburgh Review (Sir M.E. Grant-Duff's Notes from a Diary, vol. ii. p. 189). He lost his seat for Camelford in September, 1812, and did not re-enter the House till July, 1815, when he sat for Winchelsea. In the postscript of a letter written by him to Douglas Kinnaird, December 9, 1814, he speaks of Byron thus:

Your friend, Lord B., is, in my opinion, a singularly agreeable person, which is very rarely the case with eminent men. His independent principles give him a great additional charm."

But the part which Brougham played in the separation, both as counsel and in society, infuriated Byron, who wrote of him in his letters with the utmost bitterness. (See also the passage, now for the first time published, from Byron's Detached Thoughts, on his Parliamentary experiences, p. 198, first paragraph of note.)

Note 3. Dorothy Jordan (1762-1816) first appeared as "Phoebe" in As You Like It at the Crow Street Theatre, Dublin, in 1777. After acting in provincial theatres, she made her début on the London stage at Drury Lane (October 18, 1785) as "Peggy" in Garrick's Country Girl, an expurgated version of Wycherley's Country Wife. During the season she appeared also in six of her best parts: "Miss Hoyden" in The Trip to Scarborough, "Priscilla Tomboy" in The Romp, "Hypolita" in She would and she would not, "Mrs. Brady" in The Irish Widow, "Viola" in Twelfth Night, and "Rosalind" in As You Like It. Her last appearance on the London stage was as "Lady Teazle" in The School for Scandal, at Covent Garden, June 1, 1814. A list of her principal characters is given by Genest (English Stage, vol. viii. pp. 432-434). As a comic actress, Mrs. Jordan was unrivalled; her voice was perfect; and her natural gaiety irresistible. Sir Joshua Reynolds preferred her to all other actresses as a being "who ran upon the stage as a playground, and laughed from sincere wildness of delight." In genteel comedy, critics like Genest (English Stage, vol. viii. p. 431) and Leigh Hunt (Dramatic Essays, ed. 1894, p. 82) agree that she failed, perhaps, as the latter suggests, because she was so "perpetually employed" in "broad and romping characters."

In private life Mrs. Jordan was chiefly known as the mistress of the Duke of Clarence, to whom she bore ten children. She died at St. Cloud, July 3, 1816.

The play acted at Covent Garden, March 10, 1814, was Sheridan's Trip to Scarborough, which is a close adaptation of Vanbrugh's Relapse. The performance is thus described in the Courier, March 11, 1814:

"Mrs. Jordan, the only Miss Hoyden on the stage, supported that character with unabated spirit. In every scene, from her soliloquy on being locked up, which was delivered with extraordinary naïveté, both with reference to her tones, her emphasis, and her action, until the consummation of the piece, the house was shaken by loud and quick-succeeding peals of laughter. The style in which she expressed Hoyden's rustic arithmetic, 'Now, Nursey, if he gives me six hundred pounds a-year to buy pins, what will he give me to buy petticoats?' was uncommonly fine. The frock waving in her hand, the backward bound of two or three steps, the gravity of countenance, induced by a mental glance at the magnitude of the sum, all spoke expectation, delight, and astonishment."

In 1825. Thomas Lawrence 1769-1830. Portrait of Henry Brougham 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux 1778-1868. Around 1788 John Hoppner Painter 1758-1810. Portrait of Dorothea Bland aka In 1791 John Hoppner Painter 1758-1810. Portrait of Dorothea Bland aka 1709. Godfrey Kneller 1646-1723. Portrait of William Congreve Playwright 1670-1729. Around 1707. Godfrey Kneller 1646-1723. Portrait of John Vanbrugh Playwright 1664-1726.