October 24 1814: A Day in the Life of Mary Godwin

Read aloud to Jane. At 11 go out to meet Shelley. Walk up and down Fleet Street; call at Peacock’s; return to Fleet Street; call again at Peacock’s; return to Pancras; remain an hour or two. People call; I suppose bailiffs. Return to Peacock’s. Call at the coffee-house; see Shelley; he has been to Ballachy’s. Good hopes; to be decided Thursday morning. Return to Peacock’s; dine there; get money. Return home in a coach; go to bed soon, tired to death.

— Mary Godwin writes in her journal for October 24 1814.

October 22 1814: Shelley Goes into Hiding

“The following day, Sunday [October 23 1814], they got up at dawn and waited like spies until the shutters were open at the Godwins’ shop, then rang the bell and seized Fanny, who had come unsuspecting to the door. Cornered, and yet anxious not to give them away, Fanny admitted the ‘surprising  treachery of the Hookhams’, [he had revealed St Pancras as the place Shelley was hiding]  and they realized for certain the bailiffs were now alerted. The only respite was the fact that through a technicality of the Lord’s day observance, bailiffs were not empowered to arrest between midnight on Saturdays and midnight on Sundays.  This gave them some twelve hours to work out a plan. Continue reading

October 22 1814: Lord Byron Bets Wrong

On October 22 1814, Lord Byron writes to John Cowell. His friends had reminded him of a bet that Byron had made some time ago. Six years earlier Byron had calculated that the odds of him marrying were one hundred to one. He had made bets on these odds which he was now forced to pay given his anticipated marriage to Miss Milbanke. There was some dispute, and differing recollections, as to the identity of the betters but Byron magnanimously paid.  Byron is learning that his marriage will be costly. Continue reading

October 21 814: Southey on the War With America


Would to God this business with America were settled.  It is a war of the Devils own making from which nothing but mischief can arise. Yet while it lasts I would strike hard & home, & therefore cannot but approve the blow at Washington. If poor Ross had not fallen, Baltimore would probably have experienced the same fate.

— Robert Southey writes to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, on October 21 1814.

October 20 1814: Object of Curiosity


On October 20 1814, Lord Byron writes to Annabella Milbanke, from London.

I have been so much amused with your “extracts” though I had no idea what evil spirit I then appeared in your eyes—you were quite right however as far as appearances—but that was not my natural character—I was just returned from a far country where everything was different—& felt bewildered & not very happy in my own which I had left without regret & returned to without interest— Continue reading