LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Chapter VIII. 1811.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
‣ Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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The letters written by Byron during his first pilgrimage, to which reference has been already made, are not less remarkable for keen observation and genial good-humour, than for that morbid self-consciousness which was their author’s bane throughout his life. Some few sentences in the first of these letters give the keynote to many of the others, which are written with a racy freshness strangely belying some of the melancholy and misanthropic sentiments expressed in them. The date of this first letter is Lisbon, July 16, 1809.

Thus far have we pursued our route, and seen all sorts of marvellous sights, palaces, convents, &c.; which, being to be heard of in my friend Hobhouse’s
forthcoming ‘
Book of Travels,’ I shall not anticipate by giving any account to you in a private and clandestine manner. I must just observe that the village of Cintra, in Estremadura, is the most beautiful, perhaps, in the world—very far superior to my expectation—and Portugal pleasant enough. The inhabitants have few vices, &c. . . . The first and sweetest spot in this kingdom is Montserrat, lately the seat of the great Beckford.1

Hodgson! send me the news, and Hobby’s Missellingany, and the deaths and defeats, and capital crimes, and the misfortunes of one’s friends, and the controversies and criticisms. All this will be pleasant, suave mari magno, &c. Talking of that, I have been sea-sick and sick of the sea. Adieu!

Alluding to these Spanish letters, Byron writes to Drury when on board the ‘Salsette’ frigate on his way from Smyrna to Constantinople.

Of Spain I sent some account to our Hodgson, but have subsequently written to no one save notes to relations and lawyers to keep them out of my premises. I mean to give up all connection, on my return, with many of my best friends, as I supposed them, and to snarl all my life. But I hope to have

1 The millionaire; author of Vathek, and other works.

one good-humoured laugh with you, and to embrace
Dwyer and pledge Hodgson before I commence cynicism. . . . Remember me to Claridge if not translated to college, and present to Hodgson assurances of my high consideration.

On the same voyage, when in the Dardanelles off Abydos, he writes to Hodgson a letter, extracts from which, although already in part published by Moore, will bear repetition.

I am on my way to Constantinople after a tour through Greece, Epirus, &c, and part of Asia Minor, some particulars of which I have just communicated to our friend and host H. Drury. With these, then, I shall not trouble you; but, as you will perhaps be pleased to hear that I am well, &c., I take the opportunity of our ambassador’s return to forward the few lines I have time to despatch. . . .

I have lived a good deal with the Greeks, whose modern dialect I can converse in enough for my purposes. With the Turks I have also some male acquaintances; female society is out of the question. I have been very well treated by the Pashas and Governors, and have no complaint to make of any kind. Hobhouse will one day inform you of all our adventures. Were I to attempt the recital,
neither my paper nor your patience would hold out during the operation. Nobody save yourself has written to me since I left England; but, indeed, I did not request it. I except my relations, who write quite as often as I wish. Of
Hobhouse’s volume I know nothing, except that it is out; and of my second edition I do not even know that, and certainly do not, at this distance, interest myself in the matter. My friend H. is naturally anxious on the head of his rhymes, which I think will succeed, or at least deserve success; but he has not yet acquired the ‘calm indifference’ (as Sir Fretful has it) of us old authors. I hope you and Bland roll down the stream of sale with rapidity, and that you have produced a new poem.

Of my return I cannot positively speak, but think it probable Hobhouse will precede me in that respect. We have been very nearly one year abroad. I should wish to gaze away another at least in these evergreen climates; but I fear business —law business, the worst of employments—will recall me previous to that period, if not very quickly. If so, you shall have due notice. I am very serious and cynical, and a good deal disposed to moralise; but, fortunately for you, the coming homily is cut off by default of pen, and defection of paper.


Good morrow! If you write, address to me at Malta, whence your letters will be forwarded. You need not remember me to anybody, but believe me yours with all faith,


The postscript to this letter, which has never hitherto been published, was written on May 15, 1810, immediately after his arrival at Constantinople.

Constantinople: May 15, 1810.

P.S.—My dear H.,—The date of my postscript will ‘prate to you of my whereabouts.’ We anchored between the Seven Towers and the Seraglio on the 13th, and yesterday settled ashore. The ambassador is laid up; but the secretary does the honours of the palace, and we have a general invitation to his table. In a short time he has his leave of audience, and we accompany him in our uniforms to the Sultan, &c., and in a few days I am to visit the Captain Pasha with the commander of our frigate. I have seen enough of their Pashas already; but I wish to have a view of the Sultan, the last of the Ottoman race. Of Constantinople you have Gibbon’s description, very correct as far as I have seen. The mosques I shall have a firman to visit. I shall most probably (Deo volente),
after a full inspection of Stamboul, bend my course homewards; but this is uncertain. I have seen the most interesting parts, particularly Albania, where few Franks have ever been, and all the most celebrated ruins of Greece and Ionia. Of England I know nothing, hear nothing, and can find no person better informed on the subject than myself. I this moment drink your health in a bumper of hock;
Hobhouse fills and empties to the same; do you and Drury pledge us in a pint of any liquid you please—vinegar will bear the nearest resemblance to that which I have just swallowed to your name; but when we meet again the draught shall be mended and the wine also.

Yours ever,

In a letter to Drury, written on the 17th of the next month, Byron writes:—

And Hodgson has been publishing more poesy. I wish he would send me his ‘Sir Edgar’ and Bland’sAnthology’ to Malta, whence they will be forwarded. . . . I wish you would write. I have heard from Hodgson frequently.

And on July 4, 1810, he writes from Constantinople as follows:—


My dear Hodgson,1—Twice have I written—once in answer to your last, and a former letter when I arrived here in May. That I may have nothing to reproach myself with, I will write once more—a very superfluous task, seeing that Hobhouse is bound for your parts full of talk and wonderment. My first letter went by an ambassadorial express; my second by the ‘Black John’ lugger; my third will be conveyed by Cam, the miscellanist. I shall begin by telling you, having only told it you twice before, that I swam from Sestos to Abydos. I do this that you may be impressed with proper respect for me, the performer; for I plume myself on this achievement more than I could possibly do on any kind of glory, political, poetical, or rhetorical. Having told you this I will tell you nothing more, because it would be cruel to curtail Cam’s narrative, which, by-the-bye, you must not believe till confirmed by me, the eye-witness. I promise myself much pleasure from contradicting the greatest part of it. He has been plaguily pleased by the intelligence contained in your last to me respecting the reviews of his hymns. I refreshed him with that paragraph immediately, together with the tidings of my own third edition,

1 This letter has never been published.

which added to his recreation. But then he has had a letter from a Lincoln’s Inn Bencher full of praise of his harpings, and vituperation of the other contributions to his
Missellingany, which that sagacious person is pleased to say must have been put in as FOILS (horresco referens!); furthermore he adds that Cam ‘is a genuine pupil of Dryden,’ concluding with a comparison rather to the disadvantage of Pope. . . . I have written to Drury by Hobhouse; a letter is also from me on its way to England intended for that matrimonial man. Before it is very long I hope we shall again be together; the moment I set out for England you shall have intelligence, that we may meet as soon as possible. Next week the frigate sails with Adair; I am for Greece, Hobhouse for England. A year together on the 2nd July since we sailed from Falmouth. I have known a hundred instances of men setting out in couples, but not one of a similar return. Aberdeen’s party split; several voyagers at present have done the same. I am confident that twelve months of any given individual is perfect ipecacuanha.

The Russians and Turks are at it, and the Sultan in person is soon to head the army. The Captain Pasha cuts off heads every day, and a
Frenchman’s ears; the last is a serious affair. By-the-bye I like the Pashas in general.
Ali Pasha called me his son, desired his compliments to my mother, and said he was sure I was a man of birth, because I had ‘small ears and curling hair.’ He is Pasha of Albania six hundred miles off, where I was in October—a fine portly person. His grandson Mahmout, a little fellow ten years old, with large black eyes as big as pigeon’s eggs, and all the gravity of sixty, asked me what I did travelling so young without a Lala? (tutor).

Good night, dear H. I have crammed my paper and crave your indulgence. Write to me at Malta.

I am, with all sincerity, yours affectionately,

During an excursion in the Morea, which occupied the next few months, Lord Byron was attacked by a fever, which nearly proved fatal, at Patras near Missolonghi, where, fourteen years afterwards, he died of a similar complaint. On his partial recovery he wrote to Hodgson a letter dated Patras, Morea, Oct. 3, 1810, which is so illustrative of the intimacy then existing between them, and in many ways so characteristic of the writer, that its previous publication by Moore does not preclude the interest which the insertion of extracts from it here can hardly fail to excite.


As I have just escaped from a physician and a fever, which confined me five days to bed, you won’t expect much ‘allegrezza’ in the ensuing letter. In this place there is an indigenous distemper, which, when the wind blows from the Gulf of Corinth (as it does five months out of six), attacks great and small, and makes woful work with visiters (sic). Here be also two physicians, one of whom trusts to his genius (never having studied); the other to a campaign of eighteen months against the sick of Otranto, which he made in his youth with great effect. When I was seized with my disorder, I protested against both these assassins; but what can a helpless, feverish, toast-and-watered poor wretch do? . . . In this state I made my epitaph—take it:—
Youth, Nature, and relenting Jove,
To keep my lamp in strongly strove;
But Romanelli was so stout,
He beat all three—and blew it out.
But nature, being piqued at my doubts, did, in fact, beat
Romanelli, and here I am well, but weakly, at your service.

Since I left Constantinople I have made a tour of the Morea, and visited Veley Pasha, who paid me great honours, and gave me a pretty stallion.
H. is doubtless in England before even the date of this letter: he bears a despatch from me to your bardship. . . . As for England, it is long since I have heard from it. Every one at all connected with my concerns is asleep, and you are my only correspondent, agents excepted. I have really no friends in the world; though all my old school companions are gone forth into that world, and walk about there in monstrous disguises, in the garb of guardsmen, lawyers, parsons, fine gentlemen, and such other masquerade dresses. So, I here shake hands and cut with all these busy people, none of whom write to me. Indeed I ask it not; and here I am, a poor traveller and heathenish philosopher, who hath perambulated the greatest part of the Levant, and seen a great deal of very improvable land and sea, and, after all, am no better than when I set out—Lord help me!

I have been out fifteen months this very day, and I believe my concerns will draw me to England very soon; but of this I will apprise you regularly from Malta. On all points Hobhouse will inform you, if you are curious as to our adventures. I have seen some old English papers up to the 15th of May. I see the ‘Lady of the Lake’ advertised. Of course it is in his old ballad style, and pretty.
After all,
Scott is the best of them. The end of all scribblement is to amuse, and he certainly succeeds there. I long to read his new romance. And how does ‘Sir Edgar’ and your friend Bland?

Dear H., remind Drury that I am his well-wisher, and let Scrope Davies be well affected towards me. I look forward to meeting you at Newstead, and renewing our old champagne evenings with all the glee of anticipation. I have written by every opportunity, and expect responses as regular as those of the Liturgy, and somewhat longer. As it is impossible for a man in his senses to hope for happy days, let us at least look forward to merry ones, which come nearest to the other in appearance if not in reality; and in such expectations I remain, &c.

Having returned to his head-quarters at Athens, where he lived in the Franciscan Monastery, as afterwards at Venice with the Armenians, Byron wrote again to his only English correspondent on November 14, 1810.

My dear Hodgson,1—This will arrive with an English servant whom I send homewards with some papers

1 This letter has not before been published.

of consequence. I have been journeying in different parts of Greece for these last four months, and you may expect me in England somewhere about April; but this is very dubious.
Hobhouse you have doubtless seen; he went home in August to look after his Miscellany and to arrange materials for a tour he talks of publishing. You will find him well and scribbling; that is, scribbling if well, and well if scribbling. I suppose you have a score of new works, all of which I hope to see flourishing, with a hecatomb of reviews. My works are likely to have a powerful effect with a vengeance, as I hear of divers angry people, whom it is proper I should shoot at, by way of satisfaction. Be it so: the same impulse which made ‘Otho a warrior’ will make me one also. My domestic affairs being, moreover, considerably deranged, my appetite for travelling pretty well satiated with my late peregrinations, my various hopes in this world almost extinct, and not very brilliant in the next, I trust I shall go through the process with a creditable ‘sang froid’ and not disgrace a line of cut-throat ancestors. I regret in one of your letters to hear you talk of domestic embarrassments; indeed I am at present very well calculated to sympathise with
you on that point. I suppose I must take to dram-drinking as a succedaneum for philosophy, though, as I am happily not married, I have very little occasion for either just yet. Talking of marriage puts me in mind of
Drury (who, I suppose, has a dozen children by this time, all fine, fretful brats); I will never forgive matrimony for having spoiled such an excellent bachelor.

If anybody honours my name with an inquiry, tell them of ‘my whereabouts,’ and write if you like it. I am living alone in the Franciscan Monastery with one Friar (a Capucin of course) and one Frier (a bandy-legged Turkish cook), two Albanian savages, a Tartar, and a Dragoman: my only Englishman departs with this and other letters. The day before yesterday, the Waynode (or Governor of Athens) with the Mufti of Thebes (a sort of Mussulman Bishop) supped here with the Padre of the Convent, and my Attic feast went off with great eclât. I have had a present of a stallion from the Pasha of the Morea. I caught a fever going to Olympia. I was blown ashore on the Island of Salamis, in my way to Corinth through the Gulf of Ægina. I have kicked an Athenian postmaster, I have a friendship with the French Consul and an
Italian painter, and am on good terms with five Teutones and Cimbri, Danes and Germans, who are travelling for an academy. Vale!

Yours ever,

From the ‘Volage’ frigate, at sea, June 29, 1811, Byron writes his last letter before reaching England, in a strain of sadness half real and half assumed.

In a week, with a fair wind, we shall be at Portsmouth, and on the 2nd of July I shall have completed (to a day) two years of peregrination, from which I am returning with as little emotion as I set out. I think, upon the whole, I was more grieved at leaving Greece than England, which I am impatient to see, simply because I am tired of a long voyage. Indeed, my prospects are not very pleasant. Embarrassed in my private affairs, indifferent to public, solitary without the wish to be social, with a body a little enfeebled by a succession of fevers, but a spirit, I trust, yet unbroken, I am returning home without a hope, and almost without a desire. The first thing I shall have to encounter will be a lawyer; the next a creditor; then colliers, farmers, surveyors, and all the agreeable attachments to estates out of repair,
and contested coal-pits. In short, I am sick and sorry; and when I have a little repaired my irreparable affairs, away I shall march, either to campaign in Spain, or back again to the East, where I can at least have cloudless skies and a cessation from impertinence.

I trust to meet or see you, in town, or at Newstead, whenever you can make it convenient. I suppose you are in love and poetry as usual. That husband, H. Drury, has never written to me, albeit I have sent him more than one letter; but I daresay the poor man has a family, and of course all his cares are confined to his circle. I regretted very much in Greece having omitted to carry the ‘Anthology’ with me. What has ‘Sir Edgar’ done? And the ‘Imitations and Translations;’ where are they? I suppose you don’t mean to let the public off so easily, but charge them home with a quarto. For me, I am sick of ‘fops, and poesy, and prate,’ and shall leave ‘the whole Castalian state’ to Bufo, or anybody else. But you are a sentimental and sensibilitous person, and will rhyme to the end of the chapter. Howbeit I have written some 4,000 lines, of one kind or another, on my travels. I need not repeat that I shall be happy to see you. I shall be in town about the
8th, at Dorant’s Hotel in Albemarle Street, and proceed in a few days to Notts, and thence to Rochdale on business.

I am, here and there, yours, &c.

In his last letter from the ‘Volage’ frigate, off Ushant, he writes to Drury, and at the end remarks:—

Hodgson, I suppose, is four deep by this time. What would he have given to have seen, like me, the real Parnassus, where I robbed the Bishop of Chrissæ of a book of geography! But this I only call plagiarism, as it was done within an hour’s ride of Delphi.

It was about this time that Hodgson wrote one of those rhyming epistles to his friend, of which specimens have been already given.

While modern Greeks, the shadows of their sires,
Detain my Byron on that fabled shore,
And cull faint murmurs from those sacred lyres
That thrill’d the bosom of the world of yore;
Home-keeping still on England’s happier plains,
To native beauty sounds my faithful lay;
While native beauty smiles upon my strains,
Why should I wish in Grecian woods to stray?
For genius high and cultured taste are here,
And all that Athens in her pride could boast;
The sage’s eye that scans the glittering sphere,
The patriot’s ardour in itself a host.
Return then, Byron, to this favour’d land,
For joy that flies thee cease in vain to roam;
What joy can dwell with Turkey’s slavish band?
Thy own time-honour’d Newstead calls thee home.
Those mouldering walls where Phidias triumphs yet
(If safe from Elgin’s sacrilegious guile),
Can e’en their beauty bid thy soul forget
Repentant Henry’s consecrated pile?
Forget the scene, where loyal valour strove—
Forget the ranks where godlike Falkland died—
Forget the youthful scene of promised love,
Where love shall yet enjoy a fairer bride?
Return, my Byron; to Britannia’s fair,
To that soft pow’r which shares the bliss it yields;
Return to Freedom’s pure and vigorous air,
To Love’s own groves and Glory’s native fields.

About three weeks after the last of these letters was written the friends met in London; but their first meeting was interrupted by the arrival of other visitors, and Hodgson gave expression to the warmth of his feelings in the evening of the same day by the following cordial effusion:—


My dear B.,—We were interrupted this morning in our first interview; I wish to prolong it, so converse with me again.

Alone, my Byron, at Harrovian springs—
Yet not alone—thy joyous Hodgson sings;
The welcome image of his friend’s return
Fills his reviving heart, and bids it cease to mourn.
O flow along, all unrestrain’d by art,
Thou glad effusion of that grateful heart;
Tell his recovered Byron, that once more
It burns to see him on his native shore.
It has not seen him yet! For who can know,
Disturb’d by common-place, that genuine glow
Uninterrupted friendship sweetly feels,
And wisdom from the world’s vain commerce steals?
First let inspiring Health, and patriot Pride,
Behold thee rank’d upon thy country’s side;
First let thy country’s foes severely feel
Thy caustic ardour for the general weal.
Spread, like a flame, my Byron, through the land
That natural warmth no scoundrel can withstand;
That blaze of light, which folly’s dearest shade
Shall feel its inmost fastnesses invade.
O’erthrow the bulwarks that corruption rears,
And from proverbial dulness rescue half thy peers!
Yet oh! while Virtue fires let Prudence guide,
Nor argue, when she hints, but then decide.
Sage that advice immortal Horace gave,
‘Oft laughing wit excels reflection grave;’
Nor less divine that second maxim flows,
‘He writes the best who most correctly knows.’
He then shall speak, with Nature’s noblest force,
Who, free from parliamentary remorse,
Untried, and pure, unpledged, and all his own,
By patient labour to full knowledge grown,
Shall weigh his country’s power by sea, by land,
Shall half the foe’s resources understand;
Shall smoothe advice with reconciling wit,
And prove a Pericles but not a Pitt.
Athens! my Byron! Athens be thy aim!
Thy inspiration and thy guide to fame!
Not modern Athens—languid and impure,
Body and soul unworthy of a cure—
No, the fair land whose genius rose on high
Like yon Acropolis that mocks the sky;
The sky where earlier suns more proudly shone,
On old Piraeus, and old Marathon!
Adieu! mon ami.
I am ever thine,
F. H.

That they met again after a few days is shown by a note written next day to Drury, in which Hodgson says:—

Byron prevented me from coming to you yesterday. He kept me so late in conversation, that I could get no farther than Kilburn in my walk, and then really thought it safer to return. He will come to you, if you can receive him, on Saturday next.
Send him word to Reddish’s Hotel, St. James’s Street.
Griffiths has sent me a pressing letter for Don Roderick.

At the end of the month poor Byron, who had been reluctantly compelled to remain in town for the settlement of some legal and literary business, was suddenly summoned to Newstead by the serious illness of his mother, the news of whose death reached him on the road. Almost simultaneously with the announcement of this bereavement, he heard also of the deaths of his old Harrow schoolfellow Wingfield, and of one of his most cherished Cambridge colleagues, Charles Skinner Matthews, who was drowned while bathing in the Cam. Of this most melancholy catastrophe Drury wrote a graphic account immediately after its occurrence. Matthews was, as has been remarked, a young man of the greatest promise, and was a candidate for the representation of his University in Parliament at the ensuing election.

King’s College, Cambridge.

My dear Hodgson,—All the way from Puckeridge to-day I was conning an extempore laughing epistle; but have been so shocked with the account of poor Matthews’s death, though I never saw him,
that I can only write plain prose now. The reason I write is to request you not again to write to
Hart on the subject. He alone saw him die—saw him in his very last agony—and but for him the body might have been at this moment beneath the waters. Not fifty of the strongest-bodied men in England could, without ropes, have given the slightest assistance. I am this moment returned with Hart from the spot. There is literally a bed of weeds, thick, more than eight feet deep. Poor Hart, I see, is sadly cut down.

These are the facts. You know the fork above the mills, thus—
[Figure Here.]
1. Newnham mills.
4. Spot where Matthews was drowned.
2. Queen’s mills.
5. Freshmen’s pool.
3. Spot where Hart was bathing.
6. Course of the river towards Grandchester.
Matthews had gone to bathe solo. Two gownsmen came, bathed, and left Freshmen’s pool while he was bathing. From the best computation he
must have been in three-quarters of an hour. These men (who did not know him) saw him (as in bravado) stem down from points a and b what seemed an inextricable mass of weeds; these he cleared, had got down to b, and was returning—the last they saw of him, as they went homewards. Hart was alone on the bank when he distinctly heard the cry of ‘Help, help!’ He had seen nobody in the water; but, directed by the noise, he came to the spot. Nothing was to be seen. He looked up and down the river (he was at a measured 140 yards off when the άραια ϕωνή first came to him). He looked up and down the river some time, as I said, and thought the person might have escaped in the flags on the other side. Conceive his horror when on a sudden there darted up in the middle of the river a human form half-length out of the water. He made an excessive struggle. His arms were locked in weed; so were his legs and thighs. You never saw such a place. He looked most wistfully at Hart as if he knew him. Hart, who had been incessantly holloaing ‘Help!’ (the two men came back, but too late to see the last), called to him, ‘For Heaven’s sake, Matthews, make no more exertions; try to keep still till a rope is procured!’ In a resistless struggle Matthews then disentangled
Byron’s First Will.185
the weeds from his arms (I saw the very weeds), and threw them from him. This effort was his last; as if exhausted in it, he fell back. He was under the water in an instant, and no trace was left of him. Hart succeeded in having him got out in twelve minutes; but all too late. Every one who has been on the spot highly commends all Hart did. I verily think he nearly killed himself in his endeavours. The part of the river is the very broadest. The weeds go from one bank to the other; and were, as I said, eight feet perpendicularly deep. Temerity little short of madness could have induced Matthews to attempt them. More when we meet.

God bless you, my dear friend!
Henry Drury.

Byron, as may well be imagined, was deeply affected by these successive shocks; and, becoming impressed with the idea that he was himself destined to die young, he made a will in which he bequeathed his

Household goods and furniture, library, pictures, sabres, watches, plate, linen, trinkets, and other personal estate (except money and securities) to his friends J. C. Hobhouse, S. B. Davies, and Francis Hodgson, their executors, &c., to be equally divided among them for their own use, requesting them to
accept the bequest therein contained to them respectively, as a token of his friendship.

On the 22nd of August he wrote a warm invitation to Newstead.

You will write to me? I am solitary, and I never felt solitude irksome before. Your anxiety about the critique on — —’s book is amusing; as it was anonymous, certes it was of little consequence. I wish it had produced a little more confusion, being a lover of literary malice. Are you doing nothing? writing nothing? printing nothing? Why not your ‘Satire on Methodism?’ The subject (supposing the public to be blind to merit) would do wonders. Besides, it would be as well for a destined deacon to prove his orthodoxy. It really would give me pleasure to see you properly appreciated. I say really, as, being an author, my humanity might be suspected.

Believe me, dear H., yours always,

Four days later than the date of the above, the following pathetic verses were despatched to Hodgson. It is strange indeed that they should never have been previously published, as they must be admitted to be
highly characteristic of their author, and vividly illustrative of that morbid melancholy which was now settling fast upon him.

Newstead Abbey: August 26, 1811.
In the dome of my sires as the clear moonbeam falls
Through silence and shade o’er its desolate walls,
It shines from afar like the glories of old;
It gilds, but it warms not—’tis dazzling, but cold.
Let the sunbeam be bright for the younger of days:
’Tis the light that should shine on a race that decays,
When the stars are on high and the dews on the ground,
And the long shadow lingers the ruin around.
And the step that o’erechoes the gray floor of stone
Falls sullenly now, for ’tis only my own;
And sunk are the voices that sounded in mirth,
And empty the goblet, and dreary the hearth.
And vain was each effort to raise and recall
The brightness of old to illumine our hall;
And vain was the hope to avert our decline,
And the fate of my fathers has faded to mine.
And theirs was the wealth and the fulness of fame,
And mine to inherit too haughty a name;
And theirs were the times and the triumphs of yore,
And mine to regret, but renew them no more.
And Ruin is fixed on my tower and my wall,
Too hoary to fade, and too massy to fall;
It tells not of Time’s or the tempest’s decay,
But the wreck of the line that have held it in sway.

In answer to Drury’s letter respecting the death of Matthews, Hodgson writes from the house of his uncle Mr. Coke, in Herefordshire, on September 1, 1811.

My dear Drury,—I send this to Walkerne, as I conclude you will have returned ‘domum atque dulces liberos.’ I have to thank you very much for your circumstantial letter concerning poor Matthews. It was unfortunate that I did not know Tom Hart was present at his death; as I fear, by expressing what the wrong report in the newspapers suggested to many readers, I ignorantly offended him. I am truly sorry for the occasion, and trust he will as soon recover his spirits as can be expected after such an accident. He was sure to exert himself to the utmost.

Your ‘Fen Gazette’ also reached me and caused a hearty laugh. I ought to have acknowledged both these letters before. But our engagements in this country are most numerous. So much so, indeed, that I have been forced to neglect all my
correspondents, and to write nothing for the
Review. . . . Thank Mrs. D. for sending me your frank from Lord B. for the 28th of August and filling it up with such a delightful mélange.

How joyous is Bland’s return! I have just heard from my cousin that he arrived (on the 20th I think) at Deal, in a licensed vessel, with a French passport. How he managed this I have yet to learn; but it is a most glorious escape. I hear he is looking uncommonly well, and is in very good spirits.

I have heard from Byron, who is at Newstead. The deaths of his mother and of his friend Matthews seemed to press heavily upon him. He tells me that a prosecution for a libel, published against him (in the ‘Scourge’), is in the Attorney-General’s hands, and will be brought forward in November. He begs me to come to Newstead—which I should much like to do—but I must first attend my mother to Bath or London, whichever she fixes upon. In October Byron talks of coming to Cambridge to see Davies 1—of course I should rejoice to receive him there. You must tell me in your next your fen party. The good news about poor Hawtrey is delightful.

1 Scrope Davies.


My best and kindest regards to Mrs. D. The bell tolls for breakfast, and another will soon toll for church. So adieu!

Ever yours,
F. H.