She came—Waltz came—and with her certain sets
Of true despatches, and as true Gazettes;
details omitted in the various[a] despatches of our eloquent ambassador, he did not state (being too much occupied with the exploits of Colonel C—— , in swimming rivers frozen, and galloping over roads impassable,) that one entire province perished by famine in the most melancholy manner, as follows:—In General Rostopchin's consummate conflagration, the consumption of tallow and train oil was so great, that the market was inadequate to the demand: and thus one hundred and thirty-three thousand persons were starved to death, by being reduced to wholesome diet! the lamplighters of London have since subscribed a pint (of oil) a piece, and the tallow-chandlers have unanimously voted a quantity of best moulds (four to the pound), to the relief of the surviving Scythians;—the scarcity will soon, by such exertions, and a proper attention to the quality rather than the quantity of provision, be totally alleviated. It is said, in return, that the untouched Ukraine has subscribed sixty thousand beeves for a day's meal to our suffering manufacturers.
[Hamburg fell to Napoleon's forces in 1810, and thenceforward the mails from the north of Europe were despatched from Anholt, or Gothenberg, or Heligoland. In 1811 an attempt to enforce the conscription resulted in the emigration of numbers of young men of suitable age for military service. The unfortunate city was deprived of mails and males at the same time. Heligoland, which was taken by the British in 1807, and turned into a depôt for the importation of smuggled goods to French territory, afforded a meeting-place for British and continental traders. Mails from Heligoland detailed rumours of what was taking place at the centres of war; but the newspapers occasionally threw doubts on the information obtained from this source. Lord Cathcart's despatch, dated November 23, appeared in the Gazette December 16, 1812. The paragraph which appealed to Byron's sense of humour is as follows: "The expedition of Colonel Chernichef (sic) [the Czar's aide-de-camp] was a continued and extraordinary exertion, he having marched seven hundred wersts (sic) in five days, and swam several rivers."]
^ a. Veracious despatches.—[MS. M.]