Thursday, February 05, 2009

while waiting for the conflict to begin...

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 5, 1821.

At last, "the kiln's in a low." The Germans are ordered to march, and Italy is, for the ten thousandth time to become a field of battle. Last night the news came.

This afternoon — Count P. G. came to me to consult upon divers matters. We rode out together. They have sent off to the C. for orders. To-morrow the decision ought to arrive, and then something will be done. Returned — dined — read — went out — talked over matters. Made a purchase of some arms for the new enrolled Americani, who are all on tiptoe to march. Gave order for some harness and portmanteaus necessary for the horses.

Read some of Bowles's dispute about Pope, with all the replies and rejoinders. Perceive that my name has been lugged into the controversy, but have not time to state what I know of the subject. On some "piping day of peace" it is probable that I may resume it.

Notes to the text:

the kiln's in a low - This refers to the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 when the Highland clans rebelled against English rule. the phrase comes from Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott:
The Rising in the North.

On the morning when we were to depart from Glasgow, Andrew Failservice bounced into my apartment like a madman, jumping up and down, and singing, with more vehemence than tune,
The kiln's on fire—the kiln's on fire—
The kiln's on fire—she's a' in a lowe.
With some difficulty I prevailed on him to cease his confounded clamour, and explain to me what the matter was. He was pleased to inform me, as if he had been bringing the finest news imaginable, "that the Hielands were clean broken out every man o' them, and that Rob Roy, and a' his breekless bands, wad be down upon Glasgow, or twenty-four hours o' the clock gaed round."

"Hold your tongue," said I, "you rascal! You must be drunk or mad; and if there is any truth in your news, is it a singing matter, you scoundrel ?"

" Drunk or mad ? nae doubt," replied Andrew, dauntlessly; "ane's aye drunk or mad if he tells what grit folks dinna like to hear—Sing? odd, the clans will make us sing on the wrang side o' our mouth, if we are sae drunk or mad as to bide their coming."
Count P. G. came to me - This is Byron's friend, Count Pietro Gamba, brother of his mistress Teresa Guiccioli.

sent off to the C. for orders - This refers to the Carbonari cell to which they both belonged.

Americani - See note to a previous journal entry.

Bowles's dispute about Pope - This refers to William Lisle Bowles was an English clergyman, poet, and literary critic and his criticism of Alexander Pope.
In 1806, Bowles edited and published Alexander Pope's works in ten volumes; in it, he criticized Pope's morals as well as his poetry, reviving a scholarly dispute about Pope's proper place in the poetic hierarchy. Over the next several years Bowles was attacked, most notably by Byron, for disparaging Pope, and in response to these attacks, Bowles issued Invariable Principles of Poetry (1819) in which he outlined his critical perspective. An attack on Bowles's principles followed in the Quarterly Review, which led to a series of articles, letters, and pamphlets by Pope's defenders and detractors, particularly Byron and Bowles, which lasted until 1825 when Bowles published A Final Appeal to the Literary Public, Relative to Pope. - source: William Lisle Bowles 1762-1850, English poet and critic.
Byron's criticism of Bowles is discussed here.

this piping day of peace - From Shakespeare's Richard III., act i. sc. 1: "This weak piping time of peace." The text is here, where there is this note: "The pipe was an instrument proper to times of peace, as the fife to times of war. Compare Much Ado About Nothing, ii. iii. 13-15."

Bowles. Source:

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