April 11, 1812: A Hobhouse, Sligo, Byron and Lamb

On April 11, 1812, John Cam Hobhouse, records in his diary, that he had breakfast with the Marquis of Sligo. The Marquis will soon be arrested for abducting sailors.  The Marquis will be convicted in December and ordered to pay a fine of five thousand pounds and be imprisoned four months in Newgate prison. 

The night before Hobhouse had seen at the play called "The Quadrupeds; or Manager’s Last Kick" after which he spent a pound on a prostitute.

In the evening of April 11, Hobhouse is dining with Lord Glenbervie, Lord Byron, Lady Sheffield, and others including perhaps Henri-Benjamin Constant. Constant was a Swiss-born French nobleman and writer. The diary records either Constant or Hobhouse as cutting “butter with a spoon from excess of delicacy – horrid work”. 

The information for April 11 is taken from the summaries of Hobhouse's diary in Peter Cochran's extremely interesting website which can be found here

John Cam Hobhouse has a good claim to being Lord Byron's best friend. They had met and become friends as students at Trinity College. Hobhouse traveled with Byron in the Peninsula, Greece and Turkey. Childe Harold's fourth canto  is dedicated to him. He was also Byron's best man when Byron married. After Byron left England, Hobhouse would have a very successful political career. 

Lady Caroline Lamb is not mentioned as being present that April evening. She and Byron had already started their affair. She would become more and more obsessed with Byron and try to accompany him to as many engagements as she could. If she was not invited, she would sometimes wait for him outside the house or place he might be attending. In April of 1812, one can already sense some exasperation on the part of Byron, mixed with great admiration for her, in a letter he may have written that month. The letter is reproduced below:

[April 1812?]

I never supposed you artful, we are all selfish, nature did that for us, but even when you attempt deceit occasionally, you cannot maintain it, which is all the better, want of success will curb the tendency.         
Every word you utter, every line you write proves you to be either sincere or a fool, now as I know you are one I must believe you the other. I never knew a woman with greater or more pleasing talents, general as in a woman they should be, something of everything, and too much of nothing, but these are unfortunately coupled with a total want of common conduct.       
For instance the note to your page, do you suppose I delivered it? or did you mean that I should? I did not of course.       
Then your heart — my poor Caro, what a little volcano! that pours lava through your veins, and yet I cannot wish it a bit colder, to make a marble slab of, as you sometimes see (to understand my foolish metaphor) brought in vases table and see from Vesuvius when hardened after an eruption.         
To drop my detestable tropes and figures you know I have always thought you the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.         
I wont talk to you of beauty, I am no judge, but our beauties cease to be so when near you, and therefore you have either some or something better. And now, Caro, this nonsense is the first and last compliment (if it be such) I even paid you, you have often reproached me as wanting in that respect, but others will make up the deficiency … All that you so often say, I feel, can more be said or felt?         
This same prudence is tiresome enough but one must maintain it, or what can we do to be saved?   Keep to it.
 [written on cover] If you write at all, write at usual — but do as you please, only as I never see you — Basta! 

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