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Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’
Home|Special Collections Exhibitions|Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’|Italy: politics, patriotism & plays|35. & 36. Letters from Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, 26 April and 12 October 1821 

35. & 36. Letters from Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, 26 April and 12 October 1821

NLS Ms.43440

Byron wrote frequent letters to Hobhouse about his political and military ambitions and failures in Italy. He was disgusted by the abject failure of the Italian patriots and, whilst venting his anger and disappointment at the situation, he expanded his commentary to encompass wider political ideas and ideals.

26 April 1821

You know by this time with all Europe – the precious treachery and desertion of the Neapolitans. I was taken in like many others by their demonstrations – & have probably been more ashamed of them than they are of themselves. – I can write nothing by the post – but if ever we meet I will tell you a thing or two – of no great importance – perhaps – but which will serve you to laugh at. – I can’t laugh yet – the thing is a little too serious; – if the Scoundrels had only compromised themselves – it would matter little – but they were busy every where – and all for this! The rest of the Italians execrate them as you will do, & all honest men of all nations. – – Poland and Ireland were Sparta and Spartacus compared to these villains. – But there is no room to be sufficiently bilious – nor bile enough to spit upon them – –

… Pray write when it suits you, I did not write because there was nothing to say – that could be said – without being pried into in this country of tyrants and Spies and foreign barbarians, let loose upon it again.

12 October 1821

I see nothing left for it – but a republic now – an opinion which I have held aloof as long as it would let me. – Come it must – they do not see this – – but all this driving will do it – it may not be in ten or twenty years but it is inevitable – and I am sorry for it. – When we read of the beginnings of revolutions in a few pages – it seems as if they had happened in five minutes – whereas years have always been and must be their prologues – – it took from eighty eight to ninety three – to decide the French one – and the English are a tardy people. – – I am so persuaded that all English one is inevitable – that I am moving Heaven and earth – – (that is to say Douglas Kinnaird – and Medea’s trustee) to get me out of the funds. – – I would give all I have to see the Country fairly free – but till I know that giving – or rather losing it – would free it – you will excuse my natural anxiety for my temporal affairs. – –

Still I can’t approve of the ways of the radicals – they seem such very low imitations of the Jacobins. – – I do not allude to you and Burdett – but to the Major and to Hunt of Bristol & little Waddington &c. &c. – If I came home (which I never shall) I should take a decided part in politics – with pen and person – & (if I could revive my English) in the house – but am not yet quite sure what part – except that it would not be in favour of these abominable tyrants. – – – I certainly lean towards a republic – all history – and experience is in it’s favour even the French – for though they butchered thousands of Citizens at first, yet more were killed in any one of the great battles than ever perished by a democratical proscription. – – – – America is a Model of force and freedom & moderation – with all the coarseness and rudeness of it’s people. – I have been thinking over what you say of Italian tragedy – but have been rather surprized to find that I know very little about it – and I have so little turn for that kind of disquisition that I should only spoil your sager lucubrations. – I believe I said as much in a former letter. – You will make a better thing of it without me.

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