The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 7/The Devil's Drive

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The Devil returned to Hell by two,
And he stayed at home till five;
When he dined on some homicides done in ragoût,
And a rebel or so in an Irish stew,
And sausages made of a self-slain Jew,
And bethought himself what next to do,
"And," quoth he, "I'll take a drive.
I walked in the morning, I'll ride to-night;
In darkness my children take most delight,
And I'll see how my favourites thrive.10


And what shall I ride in?" quoth Lucifer, then—
"If I followed my taste, indeed,
I should mount in a waggon of wounded men,
And smile to see them bleed.
But these will be furnished again and again,
And at present my purpose is speed;
To see my manor as much as I may,
And watch that no souls shall be poached away.


"I have a state-coach at Carlton House,
A chariot in Seymour-place;[3]20
But they're lent to two friends, who make me amends
By driving my favourite pace:
And they handle their reins with such a grace,
I have something for both at the end of the race.


"So now for the earth to take my chance."
Then up to the earth sprung he;
And making a jump from Moscow to France,
He stepped across the sea,
And rested his hoof on a turnpike road,
No very great way from a Bishop's abode.[4]30


But first as he flew, I forgot to say,
That he hovered a moment upon his way,
To look upon Leipsic plain;
And so sweet to his eye was its sulphury glare,
And so soft to his ear was the cry of despair,
That he perched on a mountain of slain;
And he gazed with delight from its growing height,
Nor often on earth had he seen such a sight,
Nor his work done half as well:
For the field ran so red with the blood of the dead,40
That it blushed like the waves of Hell!
Then loudly, and wildly, and long laughed he:
"Methinks they have little need here of me!"


Long he looked down on the hosts of each clime,
While the warriors hand to hand were—
Gaul—Austrian and Muscovite heroes sublime,
And—(Muse of Fitzgerald arise with a rhyme!)
A quantity of Landwehr![5]
Gladness was there,
For the men of all might and the monarchs of earth,50
There met for the wolf and the worm to make mirth,
And a feast for the fowls of the Air!


But he turned aside and looked from the ridge
Of hills along the river,
And the best thing he saw was a broken bridge,[6]
Which a Corporal chose to shiver;
Though an Emperor's taste was displeased with his haste,
The Devil he thought it clever;
And he laughed again in a lighter strain,
O'er the torrent swoln and rainy,60
When he saw "on a fiery steed" Prince Pon,
In taking care of Number One
Get drowned with a great many!


But the softest note that soothed his ear
Was the sound of a widow sighing;
And the sweetest sight was the icy tear,
Which Horror froze in the blue eye clear
Of a maid by her lover lying—
As round her fell her long fair hair,
And she looked to Heaven with that frenzied air70
Which seemed to ask if a God were there!
And stretched by the wall of a ruined hut,
With its hollow cheek, and eyes half shut,
A child of Famine dying:
And the carnage begun, when resistance is done,
And the fall of the vainly flying!


Then he gazed on a town by besiegers taken,
Nor cared he who were winning;
But he saw an old maid, for years forsaken,
Get up and leave her spinning;80
And she looked in her glass, and to one that did pass,
She said—"pray are the rapes beginning?"[7]


But the Devil has reached our cliffs so white,
And what did he there, I pray?
If his eyes were good, he but saw by night
What we see every day;
But he made a tour and kept a journal
Of all the wondrous sights nocturnal,
And he sold it in shares to the Men of the Row,
Who bid pretty well—but they cheated him, though!90


The Devil first saw, as he thought, the Mail,
Its coachman and his coat;
So instead of a pistol he cocked his tail,
And seized him by the throat;
"Aha!" quoth he, "what have we here?
'T is a new barouche, and an ancient peer!"[8]


So he sat him on his box again,
And bade him have no fear,
But be true to his club, and staunch to his rein,
His brothel and his beer;100
"Next to seeing a Lord at the Council board,
I would rather see him here."


Satan hired a horse and gig
With promises to pay;
And he pawned his horns for a spruce new wig,
To redeem as he came away:
And he whistled some tune, a waltz or a jig,
And drove off at the close of day.


The first place he stopped at—he heard the Psalm
That rung from a Methodist Chapel:110
"'T is the best sound I've heard," quoth he, "since my palm
Presented Eve her apple!
When Faith is all, 't is an excellent sign,
That the Works and Workmen both are mine."


He passed Tommy Tyrwhitt,[9] that standing jest,
To princely wit a Martyr:
But the last joke of all was by far the best,
When he sailed away with "the Garter"!
"And"—quoth Satan—"this Embassy's worthy my sight,
Should I see nothing else to amuse me to night.120
With no one to bear it, but Thomas à Tyrwhitt,
This ribband belongs to an 'Order of Merit'!"


He stopped at an Inn and stepped within
The Bar and read the "Times;"
And never such a treat, as—the epistle of one "Vetus,"[10]
Had he found save in downright crimes:
"Though I doubt if this drivelling encomiast of War
Ever saw a field fought, or felt a scar,
Yet his fame shall go farther than he can guess,
For I'll keep him a place in my hottest Press;130
And his works shall be bound in Morocco d'Enfer,
And lettered behind with his Nom de Guerre."


The Devil gat next to Westminster,
And he turned to "the room" of the Commons;
But he heard as he purposed to enter in there,
That "the Lords" had received a summons;
And he thought, as "a quondam Aristocrat,"
He might peep at the Peers, though to hear them were flat;
And he walked up the House so like one of his own,
That they say that he stood pretty near the throne.140


He saw the Lord Liverpool seemingly wise,
The Lord Westmoreland certainly silly,
And Jockey of Norfolk—a man of some size—
And Chatham, so like his friend Billy;[11]
And he saw the tears in Lord Eldon's eyes,
Because the Catholics would not rise,
In spite of his prayers and his prophecies;
And he heard—which set Satan himself a staring—
A certain Chief Justice say something like swearing.[12]
And the Devil was shocked—and quoth he, "I must go,
For I find we have much better manners below.151
If thus he harangues when he passes my border,
I shall hint to friend Moloch to call him to order."


Then the Devil went down to the humbler House,
Where he readily found his way
As natural to him as its hole to a Mouse,
He had been there many a day;
And many a vote and soul and job he
Had bid for and carried away from the Lobby:
But there now was a "call" and accomplished debaters
Appeared in the glory of hats, boots and gaiters—161
Some paid rather more—but all worse dressed than Waiters!


There was Canning for War, and Whitbread for peace,
And others as suited their fancies;
But all were agreed that our debts should increase
Excepting the Demagogue Francis.
That rogue! how could Westminster chuse him again
To leaven the virtue of these honest men!
But the Devil remained till the Break of Day
Blushed upon Sleep and Lord Castlereagh:[13]170
Then up half the house got, and Satan got up
With the drowsy to snore—or the hungry to sup:—
But so torpid the power of some speakers, 't is said,
That they sent even him to his brimstone bed.


He had seen George Rose—but George was grown dumb,
And only lied in thought![14]
And the Devil has all the pleasure to come
Of hearing him talk as he ought.
With the falsest of tongues, the sincerest of men—
His veracity were but deceit—180
And Nature must first have unmade him again,
Ere his breast or his face, or his tongue, or his pen,
Conceived—uttered—looked—or wrote down letters ten,
Which Truth would acknowledge complete.


Satan next took the army list in hand,
Where he found a new "Field Marshal;"
And when he saw this high command
Conferred on his Highness of Cumberland,[15]
"Oh! were I prone to cavil—or were I not the Devil,
I should say this was somewhat partial;190
Since the only wounds that this Warrior gat,
Were from God knows whom—and the Devil knows what!"


He then popped his head in a royal Ball,
And saw all the Haram so hoary;
And who there besides but Corinna de Staël![16]
Turned Methodist and Tory!
"Aye—Aye"—quoth he—"'t is the way with them all,
When Wits grow tired of Glory:
But thanks to the weakness, that thus could pervert her,
Since the dearest of prizes to me 's a deserter:200
Mem—whenever a sudden conversion I want,
To send to the school of Philosopher Kant;
And whenever I need a critic who can gloss over
All faults—to send for Mackintosh to write up the Philosopher."[17]


The Devil waxed faint at the sight of this Saint,
And he thought himself of eating;
And began to cram from a plate of ham
Wherewith a Page was retreating—
Having nothing else to do (for "the friends" each so near
Had sold all their souls long before),210
As he swallowed down the bacon he wished himself a Jew
For the sake of another crime more:
For Sinning itself is but half a recreation,
Unless it ensures most infallible Damnation.


But he turned him about, for he heard a sound
Which even his ear found faults in;
For whirling above—underneath—and around—
Were his fairest Disciples Waltzing![18]
And quoth he—"though this be—the premier pas to me,
Against it I would warn all—220
Should I introduce these revels among my younger devils,
They would all turn perfectly carnal:
And though fond of the flesh—yet I never could bear it
Should quite in my kingdom get the upper hand of Spirit."


The Devil (but 't was over) had been vastly glad
To see the new Drury Lane,
And yet he might have been rather mad
To see it rebuilt in vain;
And had he beheld their "Nourjahad,"[19]
Would never have gone again:230
And Satan had taken it much amiss,
They should fasten such a piece on a friend of his—
Though he knew that his works were somewhat sad,
He never had found them quite so bad:
For this was "the book" which, of yore, Job, sorely smitten,
Said, "Oh that mine enemy, mine enemy had written"!


Then he found sixty scribblers in separate cells,[20]
And marvelled what they were doing,
For they looked like little fiends in their own little hells,
Damnation for others brewing—240
Though their paper seemed to shrink, from the heat of their ink,
They were only coolly reviewing!
And as one of them wrote down the pronoun "We,"
"That Plural"—says Satan—"means him and me,
With the Editor added to make up the three
Of an Athanasian Trinity,
And render the believers in our 'Articles' sensible,
How many must combine to form one Incomprehensible"!

December 9, 1813.

[Stanzas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, first published, Letters and Journals, 1830, i. 471-474: stanzas 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19-27, now published for the first time from an autograph MS. in the possession of the Earl of Ilchester.]

  1. The Devil's Drive. A Sequel to Porson's Devil's Walk.—[MS. H.]
  2. ["I have lately written a wild, rambling, unfinished rhapsody, called 'The Devil's Drive,' the notion of which I took from Porson's Devil's Walk."—Journal, December 17, 18, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 378. "Though with a good deal of vigour and imagination, it is," says Moore, "for the most part rather clumsily executed, wanting the point and condensation of those clever verses of Coleridge and Southey, which Lord Byron, adopting a notion long prevalent, has attributed to Porson." The Devil's Walk was published in the Morning Post, September 6, 1799. It has been published under Porson's name (1830, ed. H. Montague, illustrated by Cruikshank). (See Poetical Works, 1898, i. 30, note 1.)]
  3. [Lord Yarmouth, nicknamed "Red Herrings," the eldest son of the Regent's elderly favourite, the Marchioness of Hertford (the "Marchesa" of the Twopenny Post-Bag), lived at No, 7, Seymore Place, Mayfair. Compare Moore's "Epigram:" "'I want the Court Guide,' said my lady, 'to look If the House, Seymour Place, be at 30 or 20,'" etc.—Poetical Works, 1850, p. 165.]
  4. [The allusion may be to a case which was before the courts, the Attorney-General v. William Carver and Brownlow Bishop of Winchester (see Morning Chronicle, November 17, 1813). Carver held certain premises under the Bishop of Winchester, at the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour, which obstructed the efflux and reflux of the tide. "The fact," said Mr. Serjeant Lens, in opening the case for the Crown, "was of great magnitude to the entire ration, since it effected the security, and even the existence of one of the principal harbours of Great Britain."]
  5. [The Russian and Austrian troops at the battle of Leipsic, October 16, 1813, were, for the most part, veterans, while the Prussian contingent included a large body of militia.]
  6. [For the incident of the "broken bridge" Byron was indebted to the pages of the Morning Chronicle of November 8, 1813, "Paris Papers, October 30"— "The Emperor had ordered the engineers to form fougades under the grand bridge which is between Leipsic and Lindenau, in order to blow it up at the latest moment, and thus to retard the march of the enemy and give time to our baggage to file off. General Dulauloy had entrusted the operation to Colonel Montford. The Colonel, instead of remaining on the spot to direct it, and to give the signal, ordered a corporal and four sappers to blow up the bridge the instant the enemy should appear. The corporal, an ignorant fellow, and ill comprehending the nature of the duty with which he was charged, upon hearing the first shot discharged from the ramparts of the city, set fire to the fougades and blew up the bridge. A part of the army was still on the other side, with a park of 80 pieces of artillery and some hundreds of waggons. The advance of this part of the army, who were approaching the bridge, seeing it blow up, conceived it was in the power of the enemy. A cry of dismay spread from rank to rank. 'The enemy are close upon our rear, and the bridges are destroyed!' The unfortunate soldiers dispersed, and endeavoured to effect their escape as well as they could. The Duke of Tarentum swam across the river. Prince Poniatowsky, mounted on a spirited horse, darted into the water and appeared no more. The Emperor was not informed of this disaster until it was too late to remedy it.... Colonel Montfort and the corporal of the sappers have been handed over to a court-martial."]
  7. [Compare Don Juan, Canto VIII. stanza cxxxii. line 4. Sir Walter Scott (Journal, October 30, 1826 [1890, i. 288], tells the same story of "an old woman who, when Carlisle was taken by the Highlanders in 1745, chose to be particularly apprehensive of personal violence, and shut herself up in a closet, in order that she might escape ravishment. But no one came to disturb her solitude, and ... by and by she popped her head out of her place of refuge with the pretty question, 'Good folks, can you tell me when the ravishing is going to begin?'" In 1813 Byron did not know Scott, and must have stolen the jest from some older writer. It is, probably, of untold antiquity.]
  8. [The "Four-Horse" Club, founded in 1808, was incorrectly styled the Four-in-Hand Club, and the Barouche Club. According to the Club rules, the barouches were "yellow-bodied, with 'dickies,' the horses bay, with rosettes at their heads, and the harness silver-mounted. The members wore a drab coat reaching to the ankles, with three tiers of pockets, and mother-o'-pearl buttons as large as five-shilling pieces. The waistcoat was blue, with yellow stripes an inch wide; breeches of plush, with strings and rosettes to each knee; and it was de rigueur that the hat should be 3½ inches deep in the crown." (See Driving, by the Duke of Beaufort, K.G., 1894, pp. 251-258.) The "ancient peer" may possibly be intended for the President of the Club, Philip Henry, fifth Earl of Chesterfield (1755-1815), who was a member of the Privy Council, and had been Postmaster-General and Master of the Horse.]
  9. [Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt (circ. 1762-1833) was the son of the Rev. Edmund Tyrwhitt, Rector of Wickham Bishops, etc., and nephew of Thomas Tyrwhitt, the editor of the Canterbury Tales. He was Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales, auditor of the Duchy of Cornwall (1796), and Lord Warden of the Stannaries (1805). He was knighted May 8, 1812. He was sent in the following year in charge of the Garter mission to the Czar, and on that occasion was made a Knight of the Imperial Order of St. Anne, First Class. He held the office of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, 1812-1832. "Tommy Tyrwhitt" was an important personage at Carlton House, and shared with Colonel McMahon the doubtful privilege of being a confidential servant of the Prince Regent. Compare Letter III. of Moore's Twopenny Post-Bag, 1813, p. 12. "From G. R. to the E. of Y——th."

    "I write this in bed while my whiskers are airing,
    And M—c has a sly dose of jalap preparing
    For poor T—mm—y T—rr—t at breakfast to quaff—
    As I feel I want something to give me a laugh,
    And there's nothing so good as old T—mm—y kept close
    To his Cornwall accounts, after taking a dose!"

    See Gentleman's Magazine, March, 1833, vol. 103, pt. i. pp. 175, 276.]

  10. ["Vetus" [Edward Sterling] contributed a series of letters to the Times, 1812, 1813. They were afterwards republished. Vetus was not a Little Englander, and his political sentiments recall the obiter dicta of contemporary patriots; e.g. "the only legitimate basis for a treaty, if not on the part of the Continental Allies, at least for England herself [is] that she should conquer all she can, and keep all she conquers. This is not by way of retaliation, however just, upon so obdurate and rapacious an enemy—but as an indispensable condition of her own safety and existence." The letters were reviewed under the heading of "Illustrations of Vetus," in the Morning Chronicle, December 2, 10, 16, 18; 1813. The reviewer and Byron did not take the patriotic view of the situation.]
  11. [Robert Banks Jenkinson (1770-1828), second Earl of Liverpool, on the assassination of Perceval, became Prime Minister, June 7, 1812; John Fane (1759-1841), tenth Earl of Westmoreland, was Lord Privy Seal, 1798-1827; Charles Howard (1746-1815), eleventh Duke of Norfolk, known as "Jockey of Norfolk," was a Protestant and a Liberal, and at one time a friend of the Prince of Wales. Wraxall, Posthumous Memoirs, 1836, i. 29, says that "he might have been mistaken for a grazier or a butcher by his dress and appearance." He figures largely in Gillray, see e.g. "Meeting of the Moneyed Interest," December, 1798. John Pitt (1756-1835), second Earl of Chatham, the hero of the abortive Walcheren expedition, had been made a general in the army January 1, 1812. He "inherited," says Wraxall, ibid., iii. 129, "his illustrious father's form and figure; but not his mind."]
  12. [Edward Law (1750-1818), first Baron Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, 1802-18, was given to the use of strong language. His temper (see Moore's "Sale of the Tools") was "none of the best." On one occasion, speaking in the House of Lords (March 22, 1813) with regard to the "delicate investigation," he asserted that the accusation ["that the persons intrusted had thought fit to fabricate an unauthorized document"] "was as false as hell;" and by way of protest against the tedious harangues of old Lord Darnley, "I am answerable to God for my time, and what account can I give at the day of judgment if I stay here longer?"]
  13. [Compare Moore's "Insurrection of the Papers"—

    "Last night I toss'd and turn'd in bed,
    But could not sleep—at length I said,
    'I'll think of Viscount C—stl—r—gh,
    And of his speeches—that's the way."]

  14. [George Rose (1744-1818) was at this time Treasurer of the Navy. Wraxall, who quotes the "Probationary Odes" with regard to his alleged duplicity, testifies that he "knew him well in his official capacity, during at least twelve years, and never found him deficient in honour or sincerity." (Posthumous Memoirs, 1836, i. 148). Moore ("Parody of a Celebrated Letter") makes the Regent conceive how shocked the king would be to wake up sane and find "that R—se was grown honest, or W—stm—rel—nd wiser."]
  15. [Ernest Augustus (1771-1851), Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover, fifth son of George III., was gazetted as Field-Marshal November 27, 1813. His "wounds," which, according to the Duke's sworn testimony, were seventeen in number, were inflicted during an encounter with his valet, Joseph Sellis (? Sélis), a Piedmontese, who had attempted to assassinate the Prince (June 1, 1810), and, shortly afterwards, was found with his throat cut. A jury of Westminster tradesmen brought in a verdict of felo de se against Sellis. The event itself and the trial before the coroner provoked controversy and the grossest scandal. The question is discussed and the Duke exonerated of the charges brought against him, by J. H. Jesse, Memoirs, etc., of George III., 1864, iii. 545, 546, and by George Rose, Diaries, etc., i860, ii. 437-446. The scandal was revived in 1832 by the publication of a work entitled The Authentic Memoirs of the Court of England for the last Seventy Years. The printer and publisher of the work was found guilty. (See The Trial of Josiah Phillips for a Libel on the Duke of Cumberland, 1833.)]
  16. ["At half-past nine [Wednesday, December 8, 1813] there was a grand dress party at Carlton House, at which her Majesty and the Prince Regent most graciously received the following distinguished characters from the Russian Court, viz. the Count and Countess Leiven, Mad. La Barrone (sic) de Staël, Monsieur de Staël," etc.—Morning Chronicle, December 10, 1813.]
  17. [In the review of Madame de Staël's De L'Allemagne (Edinburgh Review, October, 1813, vol. 22, pp. 198-238), Sir James Mackintosh enlarged upon and upheld the "opinions of Kant" as creative and seminal in the world of thought. In the same article he passes in review the systems of Hobbes, Paley, Bentham, Reid, etc., and finds words of praise and admiration for each in turn. See, too, a passage (p. 226) in which he alludes to Coleridge as a living writer, whose "singular character and unintelligible style" might, in any other country but England, have won for him attention if not approval. His own "conversion" from the extreme liberalism of the Vindiciæ Gallicæ of 1791 to the philosophic conservatism of the Introductory Discourse (1798) to his lecture on The Law of Nature and Nations, was regarded with suspicion by Wordsworth and Coleridge, who, afterwards, were still more effectually "converted" themselves.]
  18. [See Introduction to The Waltz, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 475.]
  19. [Illusion, or the Trances of Nourjahad, a melodrama founded on The History of Nourjahad, By the Editor of Sidney Bidulph (Mrs. Frances Sheridan, née Chamberlaine, 1724-1766), was played for the first time at Drury Lane Theatre, November 25, 1813. Byron was exceedingly indignant at being credited with the authorship or adaptation. (See Letter to Murray, November 27, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 283, note 1.) Miss Sophia Lee, who wrote some of the Canterbury Tales, "made a very elegant musical drama of it." (Memoirs of Mrs. F. Sheridan, by Alicia Lefanu, 1824, p. 296); but this was not the Nourjahad of Drury Lane.]
  20. [Millbank Penitentiary, which was built in the form of a pentagon, was finally taken in hand in the spring of 1813. Solitary confinement in the "cells" was, at first, reserved as a punishment for misconduct.—Memorials of Millbank, by Arthur Griffiths, 1875, i. 57.]