King's College London
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Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’

10. Letter from Byron to Lady Melbourne, 21 September 1813

NLS Ms.43470, letter 77

Lady Melbourne (1751-1818) was a leading society figure whom Byron came to know through his affair with her daughter-in-law, Lady Caroline Lamb, and his marriage to her niece, Annabella Milbanke. He developed a close relationship with Lady Melbourne and they were frequent and intimate correspondents.

I passed through Hatfield the night of your ball – suppose we had jostled at a turnpike!! – At Bugden I blundered on a Bishop – the Bishop put me in mind of ye Government – the Government of the Governed – & the governed of their indifference towards their governors which you must have remarked as to all parties – these reflections expectorated as follows – you know I never send you my scribblings & when you read these you will wish I never may. –

Tis said – Indifference marks the present time
Then hear the reason – though ’tis told in rhyme –
A King who can’t – a Prince of Wales who don’t
Patriots who shan’t – Ministers who won’t
What matters who are in or out of place
The Mad – the Bad – the Useless – or the Base?

you may read the 2d. couplet so if you like –

A King who cannot – & a Prince who don’t –
Patriots who would not – ministers who won’t’ –

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