LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The “Pope” of Holland House
John Whishaw to Thomas Smith, [March 1819]

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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YOU will not wonder that I have no longer the same enjoyment of existence:
“Year chases year, decay pursues decay;
Still drops some joy from withering life away.”1
For some time it was well that I had much urgent business to occupy my thoughts; I might otherwise have found it difficult to resist the effect of these

1The Vanity of Human Wishes” (Johnson).

repeated calamities. You will scarcely, perhaps, believe in how great a degree I for some time gave up society, and even books, and how much I lost my interest in all passing events. These feelings and tastes are gradually and slowly returning; but my mind is still “sicklied o’er with a pale cast of thought,” and I feel that I am no longer the same person as before.

Among the other charges that my present trust has brought me is the custody and disposal of a great mass of papers and manuscripts, many of which are of considerable importance. If you were justly struck with those interesting papers of poor Horner you would be much more interested in those of Romilly, considering the incessant occupations and engagements of the latter. They consist principally, indeed, of fragments and detached essays relating to his favourite subject, the amelioration of the criminal law; but there are also many important letters, and many interesting details of his early life, all of them honourable in the highest degree to his memory, and placing his great talents and still greater virtues in new and unexpected points of view. I have said little to any of my friends respecting these papers; but I often think with great anxiety as to what will be the proper mode of disposing of them. At present they are not even examined and arranged.1

1 Sir Samuel Romilly’s memoirs appeared in 1840, edited by his sons, who had been much assisted in their preparation by Mr. Whishaw.

In a letter written by Etienne Dumont to Whishaw in 1822 he writes:—

“J’attends avec un grand interet, mon cher Whishaw, ce que

J. Hobhouse

I am sure you will excuse my occupying so much of my letter with my personal feelings and concerns. I know that the subject is not uninteresting to you, but it is time to release you from such melancholy topics. I rejoice to hear that you have been so prosperous throughout your journey. You seem, I must confess, to have a little too much of the Englishman in your feelings towards the poor Italians, and hardly to make sufficient allowances for an illustrious but most unfortunate nation, naturally among the most ingenious and distinguished of Europe, but degraded and debased by its forms of religion and government. I am not surprised that you decline staying to the mummery of Holy Week, and that you begin to be seized with the maladie du pays and long to be home again.

You have, of course, heard of the event of the Westminster election, and of J. Hobhouse’s unexpected failure, owing in a great degree to the confidence and arrogance of his party and their contemptuous treatment of the Whigs. I could only act on public principles, and I was most sincerely hostile to the party that brought him forward and with whom he must necessarily have acted.