LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 21 December 1813

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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Lincoln’s Inn, Dec. 21, 1813.

You will be glad to see from what passed in Parliament yesterday that the Allies are certainly negotiating, and that there is some chance of a peace. This, however, depends entirely upon Buonaparte’s necessities; for he will never consent to make peace in his present situation unless he is compelled to it. But his present difficulties both of raising men and money, are very great, and he has not had the slightest success in any quarter to counterbalance his many

1 “On the 4th of July the guide Isaaco made a narrow escape from a crocodile in passing a river called the Wonda, one of the feeders of the Senegal. Isaaco was engaged in driving some of the asses through the stream, when the crocodile rose close to him, and seizing him by the left thigh pulled him under water. With wonderful presence of mind he thrust his finger into the monster’s eye, on which it quitted its hold, and Isaaco made for the bank, crying for a knife; but the crocodile followed, and again seized him by the other thigh, when Isaaco had recourse to the same expedient, and thrusting his fingers into both eyes with such violence that the creature was compelled a second time to let go its hold; after which it flounced about for a moment in stupid blindness, and then went down to the river” (“Life of Mungo Park”).

Sir James Mackintosh
reverses. Antwerp is said to be so ill provided that it must fall, and Bayonne will be immediately besieged by
Lord Wellington. Mackintosh’s speech last night, though it showed great power, disappointed the public expectation. He was too abstract and diffuse, too much of a lecturer, and had not a sufficient appearance of earnestness and sincerity. Whether he is to be a great Parliamentary speaker was not decided by the appearance of last night, but it is certainly somewhat doubtful.1

You need be in no great haste to see Madame de Staël’s book2; which, however, is worth looking into when you have an opportunity. It is occasionally ingenious, and sometimes eloquent; but it is very deficient in facts and contains no real information. In truth, she is an advocate for the most commonplace and vulgar opinions, and this is one of the causes of her popularity. It would be no great exaggeration to say that she maintains whatever is exaggerated in taste, absurd in metaphysics, and false and pernicious in morality. Would you believe that Madame de Staël was at first a little disappointed by the Edinburgh Review, and thought the praise rather cold? She took time, however, to consider, and is now, I believe, well satisfied, or at least professes to be so. She was very angry with the former review on her essay on Suicide, and complained that her critic (Mackintosh) had not read the book.

1 The Speech was a strong protest against a threatened interference of the Allies in Holland and Switzerland.

2De l’Allemagne.”