May 16 1816: I Detest the Cause & the Victors

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On May 16, 1816, Lord Byron writes to John Cam Hobhouse, from Carlsruhe.

My dear Hobhouse / We are this far by the Rhenish route on our way to Switzerland – where I shall wait to hear of your intentions as to junction before I go to Italy. – – – I have written to you three times – and mention the number – in case of any non=arrival of epistles. – We were obliged to diverge from Anvers & Mechlin to Brussels – for some wheel repairs – & in course seized the opportunity to visit Mont St . Jean &c . where I had a gallop over the field on a Cossac horse (left by some of the Don gentlemen at Brussels) and after a tolerably minute investigation – returned by Soignies – having purchased a quantity of helmets sabres &c . all of which are consigned to the care of a Mr . Gordon at Bls (an old acquaintance) who desired to forward them to Mr . Murray – in whose keeping I hope to find them safe some day or other. – – –

Our route by the Rhine has been beautiful – & much surpassing my expectation – though very much answering in it’s outlines to my previous conceptions. – – The Plain at Waterloo is a fine one – but not much after Marathon & Troy – Cheronea – & Platea. – – – Perhaps there is something of prejudice in this – but I detest the cause & the victors – & the victory – including Blucher & the Bourbons. – – – – – – –

From Bonn to Coblenz – & Coblenz again to Bingen & Mayence – nothing can exceed the prospects at every point – not even – any of the old scenes – though this is in a different style: – what it most reminded me of were parts of Cintra – & the valley which leads from Delvinachi – by Libochabo and Argyrocastro (on the opposite mountains) to Tepaleni – the last resemblance struck even the learned Fletcher – who seems to thrive upon his present expedition & is full of comparisons & preferences of the present to the last – particularly in the articles of provision & Caravanseras. – – –

Poor Polidori is devilish ill – I do not know with what – nor does he – but he seems to have a slight constitution – & is seriously laid up – if he does not get well soon – he will be totally unfit for travelling – his complaints are headaches & feverishness: – all the rest are well – for the present – nor has he had any patients except a Belgian Blacksmith (at Lo Kristi a village where our wheels stuck) and himself. –

At Cologne I had a ludicrous adventure – the host of our hotel mistook a German Chambermaid – whose red cheeks & white teeth had made me venture upon {her} carnally – for his wife – & stood swearing at the door like a Squadron of Cavalry – to the amusement <&> {or} consternation of all his audience – till the mystery was developed by his wife walking out of her own room – & the girl out of mine. – We have seen all the sights – churches & so forth – & at Coblentz crossed the Rhine – and scrambled up the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein18 now a ruin – we also saw on the road  2.) the sepulchres – & monuments of {Generals} Marceau & Hoche & went up to examine them – they are simple & striking – but – now much neglected if not {to say} defaced by the change of times & this cursed after=crop of rectilignes & legitimacy. – At Manheim we crossed the Rhine & keep on this side to avoid the French segment of Territory at Strasburg – as we have not French passports – & no desire to view a degraded country – & oppressed people. – This town (a very pretty one) is the seat of the court of the Grand Duke of Baden: – tomorrow I mean to proceed (if Polidori is well enough) on our journey. – At Geneva I expect to hear from you – tell me of Scrope and his intentions – and of all or any things or persons – saving and except one subject – which I particularly beg never to have mentioned {again} – unless as far as regards my child – & my child only. – – – –

If Scrope comes out – tell him there {are} some “light wines” which will bring to his recollection “the day of Pentecost” & other branches of his vinous thirty nine articles. – I have solaced myself moderately with such “flaggons of Rhenish”20 as have fallen in my way – but without our Yorick – they are nothing. – I hope your book of letters is not slack in sale – {and} I can’t see why Ridgway should not pay “a few paouands”21 for the 2d . Edition unless it be that I did not pay him his bill – & that he thinks therefore you should. – – I trust that you will give Spooney a jog as to selling & so forth – & tell my Potestas (Kinnaird) to come the committee over him. – I suppose poor K― will be devilishly bothered with his Drury Lane speech this year – how does Mathurin’s play go on – or rather go off – of course the prologue has fallen to your lot – & the Comedy eh? – m – – – I hope you executed the ten thousand petty commissions I saddled you withal. – – pray remember me to all the remembering – & not less to the superb Murray – who is now enjoying inglorious ease at his green table – & wishing for somebody to keep him in hot water. – – Wishing you all prosperity – I am ever y rs. most truly Byron

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