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A QUARREL WITH THE POPE'S CARABINIERS 43
and if my valour does not ooze away like Acres's“Odds flints and triggers !” if it should be a rainy morning, and my stomach in disorder, there may be something for the obituary.
Now pray, “Sir Lucius, do not you look upon me as a very ill-used gentleman ?” I send my Lieutenant to match Hobhouse's Major Cartwright: "and so good morrow to you, good Master Lieutenant.”
(1819, August 29, Bologna. Letter 750, to
John Murray, Vol. IV., p. 350.) I have incurred a quarrel with the Pope's carabiniers, or gens-d'armerie, who have petitioned the Cardinal against my liveries, as resembling too nearly their own lousy uniform. They particularly object to the epaulettes, which all the world with us have on upon gala days.
I have sent a trenchant reply, as you may suppose ; and have given to understand that, if any soldados of that respectable corps insult my servants, I will do likewise by their gallant commanders; and I have directed my ragamuffins, six in number, who are tolerably savage, to defend themselves in case of aggression; and, on holidays and gaudy days, I shall arm the whole set, including myself
, in case of accidents or treachery. I used to play pretty well at the broad-sword, once upon a time, at Angelo's; but I should like the pistol, our national buccaneer weapon, better, though I am out of practice at present. However, I can “wink and hold out mine iron.” It makes me think (the whole thing does) of Romeo and Juliet—"now, Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.”
All these feuds, however, with the Cavalier for his wife, and the troopers for my liveries, are very tiresome to a quiet man, who does his best to please all the world, and longs for fellowship and good will.
(1820, June 9, Ravenna. Letter 804, to
Thomas Moore, Vol. V., p. 42.)
I have been called in as Mediator or Second at least twenty times in violent quarrels, and have always contrived to settle the business without compromising the honour of the parties, or leading them to mortal consequences; and this too sometimes in very difficult and delicate circumstances, and having to deal with very hot and haughty Spirits—Irishmen, Gamesters, Guardsmen, Captains, and Cornets of horse, and the like. This was of course in my youth, when I lived in hot-headed company. I have had to carry challenges from Gentlemen to Noblemen, from Captains to Captains, from lawyers to Counsellors, and once from a clergyman to an officer in the Life-guards. It may seem strange, but I found the latter by far the most difficult.
to compose The bloody duel without blows." The business being about a woman. I must add too that I never saw a woman behave so ill, like a cold blooded heartless whore as she was; but very handsome for all that. A certain Susan C. was she called. I never saw her but once, and that was to induce her but to say two words (which in no degree compromised herself), and which would have had the
SUSANNAH AND THE LEVITE
effect of saving a priest or a Lieutenant of Cavalry. She would not say them, and neither N. or myself (the Son of Sir E. N., and a friend to one of the parties) could prevail upon her to say them, though both of us used to deal in some sort with Womankind. At last I managed to quiet the combatants without her talisman, and, I believe, to her great disappointment. She was the d--st b--h that I ever saw, and I have seen a great many. Though my Clergyman was sure to lose either his life or his living, he was as warlike as the Bishop of Beauvais, and would hardly be pacified: but then he was in love, and that is a martial passion.
(“Detached Thoughts,”1821-22. “Thought”
36, Vol. V., p. 428.)
(4) His Melancholic Temperament A thousand thanks, my dear and Beloved Augusta, for your affectionate Letter, and so ready compliance with the request of a peevish and fretful Brother; it acted as a cordial on my drooping Spirits and for a while dispelled the Gloom which envelopes me in this uncomfortable place. You see what power your letters have over me, so I hope you will be liberal in your epistolary consolation.
(1804, April 9, Burgage Manor. Letter 10,
to the Hon. Augusta Byron, Vol. I.,
I am afraid . . . that when I shall take up my pen, you will not be greatly edified or amused, especially at present, since, I sit down in very bad
spirits, out of humour with myself, and all the world, except you.
I hope you will excuse this Hypocondriac epistle, as I never was in such low spirits in my life.
(1805, April 4. Letter 20, to the Hon.
Augusta Byron, Vol. I., p. 56.) Your efforts to reanimate my sinking spirits will, I am afraid, fail in their effect, for my melancholy proceeds from a very different cause to that which you assign, as, my nerves were always of the strongest texture.-I will not, however, pretend to say I possess that Gaieté de Cour which formerly distinguished me, but as the diminution of it arises from what you could not alleviate, and might possibly be painful, you will excuse the Disclosure. Suffice it to know, that it cannot spring from Indisposition, as my Health was never more firmly established than now, nor from the subject on which I lately wrote, as that is in a promising Train, and even were it otherwise, the Failure would not lead to Despair. You know me too well to think it is Lore; and I have had no quarrel or dissension with Friend or enemy, you may therefore be easy, since no unpleasant consequence will be produced from the present Sombre cast of my temper.
(1806, January 7. Letter 46, to the Hon.
Augusta Byron, Vol. I., p. 93.)
It can hardly be expected the effusions of a boy (and most of these pieces have been produced at an early period) can derive much merit from the subject or composition. Many of them were written under
great depression of spirits, and during severe indisposition hence the gloomy turn of the ideas.
(1807, March 6. Letter 67, to William
Bankes, Vol. I., p. 121.)
Hobhouse and your humble are still here. Hobhouse hunts, etc., and I do nothing; we dined the other day with a neighbouring Esquire (not Collet of Staines), and regretted your absence, as the Bouquet of Staines was scarcely to be compared to our last “feast of reason.” You know, laughing is the sign of a rational animal; so says D' Smollett. I think so too, but unluckily my spirits don't always keep pace with my opinions. I had not so much scope for risibility the other day as I could have wished, for I was seated near a woman, to whom, when a boy, I was as much attached as boys generally are, and more than a man should be. I knew this before I went, and was determined to be valiant, and converse with sang froid ; but instead I forgot my valour and my nonchalance, and never opened my lips even to laugh, far less to speak, and the lady [M" Chaworth Masters] was almost as absurd as myself, which made both the object of more observation than if we had conducted ourselves with easy indifference. You will think all this great nonsense ; if you had seen it, you would have thought it still more ridiculous. What fools we are ! We cry for a plaything, which, like children, we are never satisfied with till we break open, though [un]like them we cannot get rid of it by putting it in the fire.
(1808, November 3. Letter 102, to Francis
Hodgson, Vol. I., p. 197.)