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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Journal Entry: 9 January 1821

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“Tuesday, January 9th, 1821.

“Rose—the day fine. Ordered the horses; but Lega (my secretary, an Italianism for steward or chief servant) coming to tell me that the painter had finished the work in fresco, for the room he has been employed on lately, I went to see it before I set out. The painter has not copied badly the prints from Titian, &c. considering all things. * * * * * * * *

“Dined. Read Johnson’sVanity of Human Wishes,’—all the examples and mode of giving them sublime, as well as the latter part, with the exception of an occasional couplet. I do not so much admire the opening. I remember an observation of Sharpe’s (the Conversationist, as he was called in London, and a very clever man) that the first line of this poem was superfluous, and that Pope (the best of poets, I think,) would have begun at once, only changing the punctuation—
‘Survey mankind from China to Peru!’
The former line, ‘Let observation,’ &c. is certainly heavy and useless. But ’tis a grand poem—and so true!—true as the 10th of
Juvenal himself. The lapse of ages changes all things—time—language—the earth—the bounds of the sea—the stars of the sky, and every thing ‘about, around, and underneath’ man, except man himself, who has always been, and always will be, an unlucky rascal. The infinite variety of lives conduct but to death, and the infinity of wishes lead but to disappointment.
404 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.
All the discoveries which have yet been made have multiplied little but existence. An extirpated disease is succeeded by some new pestilence; and a discovered world has brought little to the old one, except the p— first and freedom afterwards—the latter a fine thing, particularly as they gave it to Europe in exchange for slavery. But it is doubtful whether ‘the Sovereigns’ would not think the first the best present of the two to their subjects.

“At eight went out—heard some news. They say the king of Naples has declared, by couriers from Florence to the Powers (as they call now those wretches with crowns) that his Constitution was compulsive, &c. &c. and that the Austrian barbarians are placed again on war pay, and will march. Let them—‘they come like sacrifices in their trim,’ the hounds of hell! Let it still be a hope to see their bones piled like those of the human dogs at Morat, in Switzerland, which I have seen.

“Heard some music. At nine the usual visitors—news, war, or rumours of war. Consulted with P. G., &c &c. They mean to insurrect here, and are to honour me with a call thereupon. I shall not fall back; though I don’t think them in force or heart sufficient to make much of it. But, onward!—it is now the time to act, and what signifies self, if a single spark of that which would be worthy of the past can be bequeathed unquenchedly to the future? It is not one man, nor a million, but the spirit of liberty which must be spread. The waves which dash upon the shore are, one by one, broken, but yet the ocean conquers, nevertheless. It overwhelms the Armada, it wears the rock, and, if the Neptunians are to be believed, it has not only destroyed, but made a world. In like manner, whatever the sacrifice of individuals, the great cause will gather strength, sweep down what is rugged, and fertilize (for sea-weed is manure) what is cultivable. And so, the mere selfish calculation ought never to be made on such occasions; and, at present, it shall not be computed by me. I was never a good arithmetician of chances, and shall not commence now.