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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/584

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542
POEMS 1816-1823.

Plague personified and Famine,—
Devil, whose delight is damning.[1]
For his merits—don't you know 'em?[2]
Once he wrote a pretty Poem.

1818.
[First published, Fraser's Magazine, January, 1833, vol. vii. pp. 82-84.]


THE DUEL.[3]

1.

'Tis fifty years, and yet their fray

To us might seem but yesterday.
  1. ["If 'the person' had not by many little dirty sneaking traits provoked it, I should have been silent, though I had observed him. Here follows an alteration. Put—

    "Devil with such delight in damning
    That if at the resurrection
    Unto him the free selection
    Of his future could be given
    'Twould be rather Hell than Heaven.

    You have a discretionary power about showing."—Letter to Murray, November 9, 1820, Letters, 1901, v. 113.]

  2. —— would you know 'em?—[Fraser's, etc.]
  3. [Addressed to Miss Chaworth, in allusion to a duel fought between two of their ancestors, D[ominus] B[yron] and Mr. C., January 26, 1765. Byron and Mary Anne Chaworth were fourth cousins, both being fifth in descent from George, Viscount Chaworth, whose daughter Elizabeth was married to William, third Lord Byron (d. 1695), the poet's great-great-grandfather. The duel between their grand-uncles, William, fifth Lord Byron, and William Chaworth, Esq., of Annesley, was fought between eight and nine o'clock in the evening of Saturday, January 26, 1765 (see The Gazetteer, Monday, January 28, 1765), at the Star and Garter Tavern, Pall Mall. The coroner's jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder (see for the "Inquisition," and report of trial, Journals of the House of Lords, 1765, pp. 49, 126-135), and on the presentation of their testimony to the House of Lords, Byron pleaded for a trial "by God and his peers," whereupon he was arrested and sent to the Tower. The case was tried by the Lords Temporal (the Lords Spiritual asked permission to withdraw), and, after a defence had been read by the prisoner, 119 peers brought in a verdict of "Not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter, on my honour." Four peers only returned a verdict of "Not guilty." The result of this verdict was that Lord Byron claimed the benefit of the statute of Edward VI., and was discharged on paying the fees. The defence, which is given in full (see Journal, etc., for April 17, 1765), is able and convincing. Whilst maintaining an air of chivalry and candour, the accused contrived to throw the onus of criminality on his antagonist. It was Mr. Chaworth who began the quarrel, by