January 26 1815: Byron’s Debts

On January 26 1815, Lord Byron writes to John Cam Hobhouse, from Seaham, Byron is preoccupied with his debts and is looking for some help from Hobhouse. Byron writes about his debts in a letter that uses antisemitic language. However, in the same letter, Byron mentions the Hebrew Melodies, which are songs for music composed by the Jewish composer Isaac Nathan. 

My dear H.e – Your packet hath been perused and firstly I am lost in wonder & obligation at your good nature in taking so much trouble with Spooney and my damnable concerns – I would leave to your choice our “Counsellors at law” as Mrs. Heidelberg calls them – a – Templeman – I think stands first on your list – so prithee fix on him – or whom you please – but do you fix – for you know I never could. – – – N. must be sold – without delay – and even at a loss – out of debt must be my first object – and the sooner the better. – –

My debts can hardly be less than thirty thousand – there is six thousand charged on N. to a Mr. Sawbridge – a thousand – to Mrs. B. at Nott.m – a Jew debt of which the <p> interest must be more than the principal – & of which H. must get an amount from Thomas – another Jew debt – six hundred prinl – and no interest (as I have kept that down) to a man in New Street – I forget his name but shall know on half year’s day – a good deal still before majority – in which the “old women” of former celebrity were concerned – but <(> one is defunct – and the debt itself may wait my convenance – since it is not in my name – and indeed the interest has pretty well paid principal & all being transcendantly usurious, – a good deal of tradesmen &c. &c. – You know I have paid off Scrope {that is 6000 & more} – nearly 3000 to Hans. Carvel – then I lent rather more than £1600<0> to Hodgson – £1000 to “bold” Webster – and nearly 3000 to George L. or rather to Augusta – the last sums I never wish to see again – and others I may wish – I have W’s bond which is worth a damn or two – but from Hodg. I neither asked nor wanted security – but there was 150 lent at Hastings to the same {Hod.} which was punctually promised to be paid in six weeks – and has been paid with the usual punctuality – viz – not at all. – –

I think I have now accounted for a good deal of Clau’s disbursements – the rest was swallowed up by duns – necessities luxuries – fooleries – jewelleries – “whores and fiddlers”. – – –

As for expectations, don’t talk to me of “expects” (as Mr Lofty says to Croaker of “suspects”) the Baronet is eternal – the <Bar> Viscount immortal – and my Lady (senior) without end. – – – They grow more healthy every day – and I verily believe Sir R., Ly . M. and Lord W. are at this moment cutting a fresh set of teeth and unless they go off by the usual fever attendant on such children as don’t use the “American soothing syrup” that they will live to have them all drawn again. – –

“The Melodies” – damn the melodies – I have other tunes – or rather ones – to think of – but – Murray can’t have them, or shan’t – or I shall have Kin[naird] and Braham upon me. – – Take the box any night or all nights week after next – only send to Lady Melbourne – to tell her of your intention for the night or nights – as I have long ago left her paramount during my absence. – ever d[ea]r H. thine

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