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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/612

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THE BLUES.

entertainments than he professed to be. "I met him," says Sir Walter Scott (Memoirs of the Life, etc., 1838, ii. 167), "frequently in society.... Some very agreeable parties I can recollect, particularly one at Sir George Beaumont's, where the amiable landlord had assembled some persons distinguished for talent. Of these I need only mention the late Sir Humphry Davy.... Mr. Richard Sharpe and Mr. Rogers were also present."

Again, Miss Berry, in her Journal (1866, iii. 49) records, May 8, 1815, that "Lord and Lady Byron persuaded me to go with them to Miss [Lydia] White (vide post, p. 587). Never have I seen a more imposing convocation of ladies arranged in a circle than when we entered ... Lord Byron brought me home. He stayed to supper." If he did not affect "your blue-bottles," he was on intimate terms with Madame de Staël, "the Begum of Literature," as Moore called her; with the Contessa d'Albrizzi (the De Staël of Italy); with Mrs. Wilmot, the inspirer of "She walks in beauty like the night;" with Mrs. Shelley; with Lady Blessington. Moreover, to say nothing of his "mathematical wife," who was as "blue as ether," the Countess Guiccioli could not only read and "inwardly digest" Corinna (see letter to Moore, January 2, 1820), but knew the Divina Commedia by heart, and was a critic as well as an inspirer of her lover's poetry.

If it is difficult to assign a reason or occasion for the composition of The Blues it is a harder, perhaps an impossible, task to identify all the dramatis personæ. Botherby, Lady Bluemount, and Miss Diddle are, obviously, Sotheby, Lady Beaumont, and Lydia White. Scamp the Lecturer may be Hazlitt, who had incurred Byron's displeasure by commenting on his various and varying estimates of Napoleon (see Lectures on the English Poets, 1818, p. 304, and Don Juan, Canto I. stanza ii. line 7, note (to Buonaparte). Inkel seems to be meant for Byron himself, and Tracy, a friend, not a Lake poet, for Moore. Sir Richard and Lady Bluebottle may possibly symbolize Lord and Lady Holland; and Miss Lilac is, certainly, Miss Milbanke, the "Annabella" of Byron's courtship, not the "moral Clytemnestra" of his marriage and separation.

The Blues was published anonymously in the third number of the Liberal, which appeared April 26, 1823, The "Eclogue" was not attributed to Byron, and met with greater contempt than it deserved. In the Noctes Ambrosianæ (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, May, 1823, vol. xiii. p. 607), the third number of the Liberal is dismissed with the remark, "The last Number contains not one line