Lord Byron, Seen Through the Eyes of a Friend
November 1, 2006 8:44 PM   Subscribe

The Diary of John Cam Hobhouse. Hobhouse (Wiki) (1786-1869) was a close friend of George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, and "Hobby-O's" diary contains a vivid account of Hobhouse's friendship and travels with Byron. As editor Peter Cochran writes: "Educated at Westminster and Trinity College Cambridge, [Hobhouse] travelled east with Byron in 1809, was Best Man at Byron’s wedding in 1815, travelled across Switzerland in Byron’s company in 1816 after the separation, around Rome with Byron in 1817, and lived with Byron in Venice in the same year. He met Byron at Pisa again in 1822, after Byron’s facetious poem on his imprisonment in Newgate, My Boy Hobby-O, had almost terminated their friendship. As a member of the London Greek Committee he encouraged Byron on his last journey in 1823; and had he insisted, Byron’s memoirs would almost certainly not have been destroyed in 1824." (Memoirs which, in hindsight, are considered a "missing masterpiece.") Also read Hobhouse's account of Byron's funeral.
posted by jayder (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
After Byron's death, Hobhouse memorialized Byron in his journal as follows:

... [N]o man ever lived who had such devoted friends. His power of attaching those about him was such as no-one I ever knew possessed – no human being could approach him without being sensible of this magical influence. There was something commanding but not overawing in his manner. He was neither grave nor gay out of place, and he seemed always made for that company in which he found himself. There was a mildness and yet a decision in his mode of conversing, and even in his address, which are seldom united in the same person. He appeared exceedingly free, open, and unreserved with everybody, yet he contrived at all times to retain just as much self-restraint as to preserve the respect of even his most intimate friends – so much so that those who lived most with him were seldom if ever witnesses of any weakness of character that could sink him in their esteem. He was full of sensibility, but he did not suffer his feelings to betray him into absurdities. There never was a person who by his air, deportment, and appearance altogether decidedly persuaded you at once that he was well-born and well-bred – he was, as Kinnaird said of him, “a gallant gentleman”.
posted by jayder at 8:48 PM on November 1, 2006

thanks! Byron was such a character (and a gigantic celebrity in his time)--it's good to learn more of the people who orbited around him.

and semi-related: can anyone recommend some good Keats bios and stuff online?
posted by amberglow at 8:59 PM on November 1, 2006

Hobhouse really didn't like Portugal at all (Sintra is great, btw--very Byronesque, i thought)
posted by amberglow at 9:10 PM on November 1, 2006

This is terrific. It is brilliant to come across an online version of a text that actually states its editorial policy, for one thing. I'll look forward to browsing through this in depth over the next few days.
posted by greycap at 11:13 PM on November 1, 2006

I need to delve into this when I have more time; I'm currently reading a history of the Greek war for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The book goes into some detail regarding Byron's activities; these sites could be a useful supplement.
posted by Doohickie at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2006

Nice post and a welcome break from the latest ain't-it-awful newsfilter. Thank you.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:47 AM on November 3, 2006

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