December 22 1815: Dinner at Holland House

cw3ruhrwaaannu0“Friday December 22nd 1815: Up one. Called on Lady Noel, who seems very
ill!! Called on Byron – saw his child, Augusta Ada, the latter a name of someone who married into his family in the reign of King John.

Rode to Holland House. Saw Lady Holland, who told me she positively knows Fouché was in correspondence with Louis at Ghent, and that Napoleon knew it and spoke to her about it. She asked me to stay and dine. I stated boots as objections – says she, “There will be nobody here but me and Caroline.” I knew not who Caroline was91 but said nothing. Lord Holland: “Ah lad! come in!” – seemed pleased to see me. Address92 praised by both – Jaynell [Jekyll??]* says it is good. I found Hatsell93 had cut it out of the paper. She asked me for a copy of the epilogue – I consented to dine. Lord Holland handed me into a room, where I sat and wrote to Hillier* a little – read review of Holland’s Albania, done ill indeed.

I come off rather securely, but am called plain Hobhouse. Caroline Lamb came in and cozed a good deal – very good-humouredly – she told me the Duke of Wellington told her that nothing could exceed the meanness of Louis XVIII in his dealings with the English as to the pictures of the Louvre. At dinner we had Hookham Frere the Antijacobin, Wishaw, William Lamb, Rose (Parthenopex), Flahaut, and an Italian with Doctor Allen101 – I was between the two first – at Frere’s deaf ear. He was unclear at dinner owing to his deafness.

We had very good talk – Caroline Lamb defined truth to be what one thinks at the moment – Lord Holland said that Fox said that Swift could not have been an ill-natured man – he wrote such good nonsense. Parthenopex a modest man – repeated an epigram of Abraham Moore’s on Jekyll:

Jekyllule wagulue blandlete
Hospes consulque principis
Quae manna abitium loca
Nec ut soles dates jocos

A saying of Dudley North’s on Lord Erskine’s acceptance of the green
ribbon was taken by Sheridan on his own in this way. They say of Erskine:

And when great lawyers go astray
Their stars are more at fault than they

“We did not know at first where this was in Paulo Purgante,” said Frere. Lord Holland quoted it wrong, as he did two or three things of Pope. Byron told me a saying of Sheridan’s: Monk Lewis was offering to bet him all he owed him for the Castle Spectre. “I’ll make a large bet,” said Mr Lewis. – “No” said Sheridan. “I never bets large bets but I’ll bet you a little bet – all it is worth.” Wishaw said of Sergeant Hargrave106 that his wife said of him when he was going to dine with the Prince of Wales, “Now, Mr Hargrave – recollect not to contradict His Royal Highness, not to start a new subject, and not to tell low stories.” It was either Sergeant Hargrave or Sergeant Hill who said to Lady Holland, “And your Ladyship knows the Mind of Woman does not reason.” Some stories were told of Plumer’spleading on the bench – asking himself questions, &c. A lawyer said, “am I expected to answer all those questions?” – “No, no, brother – you know – this is but a form of speech.” Lord Holland mentioned that Erskine when at Minorca wrote an epigram against a Middlesex trial by Jury.!!! When we came into tea Frere repeated epigrams in French and his own English – a very good one of a happy dull couple. However, he had translated esprit doux – “a spill of spirit” – which is evidently “a meek spirit.” Also one of a pig eating chestnuts in the Mamby[??] style. I left the party whilst Flahaut was repeating an epigram: le mari sort – le chien dort … which was approved by every body but Caroline Lambe!!

Lord Holland told that such was the aversion formerly to foreigners that old Reynell,30 after the American peace was made, said one day, “I wish we were all safe and at war again. Lady Holland mentioned she remembers when it used to be said in the invitation cards, “No foreigners dine with us.” Flahaut could not shine so much, but was agreeable. He said he wished for him and Sebastiani to see my book on France before it came out. Walter Scott has published, or is to publish, a thing called Paul to his Kinsfolk which Lady Holland called Paul to his Kingsfolk. Frere owned to having dined in former days with a Jacobin calico printer and Gilbert Wakefield. Lord Holland said he had a letter from Gilbert. Wakefield – not English. Rode home through snow, and sat up till half-past three correcting proofs.

— John Cam Hobhouse writes in his diary for December 22 1815.

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