LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 31 August 1815

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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Weymouth, Aug. 31, 1815.

You ask me for politics, but I have very little to say. What is now taking place at Paris affords the best justification of those who condemned the renewal of the war, on the grounds both of justice and sound policy. After the astonishing and unexpected success of the Duke of Wellington, the situation of the Allies is difficult and embarrassing in the extreme. They have not only violated their engagements, but have probably committed a fatal error (with reference to the general peace and settlement of Europe) in placing upon the throne of France a man who has no army, no public opinion in his favour, no talents for government, and who must be supported by foreign arms. It seems impossible that such a state of things should be of long continuance; and it is very desirable for the sake of example that such unprincipled conduct should be punished. I was very much pleased the other day by hearing, in a large party in Holland House, a very eloquent tirade against the “Corporation of Sovereigns combined against the rights of independent nations” from Sheridan, who displayed upon
this occasion a spirit of vigour which reminded me of old times. He concluded, unfortunately, by talking and drinking himself into a state of intoxication, which put a speedy end to the illusion.

I forget if I told you that Abercromby, when at Paris, saw many appearances, as he thought, of a strong and deep feeling of the humiliation inflicted on them by the Sovereigns of Europe. He saw some excellent individuals, and was particularly pleased with Lafayette, who seems to be a virtuous and excellent man, still ardent for liberty, but wholly unfitted by the simplicity of his character for those arduous transactions in which he has borne so distinguished but so unfortunate a part. Abercromby says it is the general opinion that the Liberal party acted a most unwise part in not trusting Napoleon under the circumstances in which the nation was placed, with the supreme power; and their folly in supposing that the abdication of Napoleon would cause the Allies to stop in their career, is an act of credulity to which history affords no parallel.

With respect to the treatment of Napoleon, I think that those among his friends who wished it should have been suffered to accompany him; but I do not object to St. Helena as the place of his confinement. One laments the necessity of condemning a man of great powers to a state of banishment, which to him must be very little superior to solitary imprisonment; but some strong measure of the sort appears to be indispensable; and it is a characteristic and appropriate punishment for a man whose military exploits have been the constant subject of anxiety and alarm in Europe for the
Duke of Wellington
last twenty years, that he should be consigned for the rest of his life to a state of hopeless obscurity. Observe that my hatred of him is not founded on his real or supposed crimes so much talked of in the
Times and Quarterly Review, but upon his constant hostility to the principles of liberty to which he owed all his success, and upon that restless activity and insatiable ambition which has been the principal cause of the dreadful wars of the last twenty years, and of the present convulsed state of Europe.