LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, 11 March 1817

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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Produced by CATH
March 11, 1817.

I agree very much in your opinion respecting Jeffrey’s critique of Lord Byron. His taste I have long thought very much perverted; and his praises in this instance are violent and exaggerated. It is not creditable to see the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews bidding, as it were, against each other for the favour of Lord Byron, at a time when he is going out of favour with the public. One might almost suspect that they are afraid of his satirical powers.

You are aware that Jeffrey has been here lately attending the House of Lords on a great Scotch appeal; and, of course, went a great deal into society. But though he showed great talents, neither his public nor private exhibitions were considered as successful, and the journey did not add to his English reputation. He is too subtle and refined, and too little in earnest; and we applied to him what Voltaire said of Rousseau, “Il n’est pas philosophe, mais le premier des sophistes.”

Baring says that the Duke of Wellington told him in Paris that he considered the present French Ministry perfectly safe, and that the king’s death would make no material difference; “Monsieur” being too timid, whatever might be his private inclinations,

1 Southey’s poem of “Wat Tyler,” which was written in 1794 and piratically issued in 1817. Southey applied for, but did not succeed in obtaining, an injunction from Chancery to stop the publication. A contemptuous comparison in the House of Commons by W. Smith, M.P., of its language with that used by Southey in a recent number of the Quarterly Review, provoked its author into addressing a printed letter to him.

to attempt a total change of system.
Talleyrand’s return to Court is entirely with the concurrence of the ministers, to show that they are not afraid of him or the Ultras.

You see that Lord Holland has given notice of a motion relative to the treatment of Napoleon at St. Helena. His information is from the Pole who accompanied him to his place of exile, and who is lately returned. Sir Hudson Lowe’s conduct seems to have been quite unjustifiable; and Lord Holland’s proceeding is manly and generous but not very politic. For it will give occasion for much abuse in the Courier, and increase the unpopularity of the Opposition. This, however, in the present state of the prospects of the Party, is not a very important circumstance. You will be sorry to hear of the failure of the Chinese Embassy, probably in consequence of the Nepaul war. But I hear that Lord Amherst was not sanguine when he went out in his hopes of a favourable reception.