December 31 1812: A Prayer

On December 31 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams offers up a prayer as 1812 comes to an end. He writes in his  diary: 
31st. I offer to a merciful God at the close of this year my humble tribute of gratitude for the blessings with which He has in the course of it favored me and those who are dear to me, and I pray for a continuance of his goodness. Above all, I pray that He who worketh in us both to will and to do, may grant to me and mine that temper of heart and that firmness of soul which are best adapted duly to receive all his dispensations, whether joyous or afflictive. It has pleased Him in the course of this year to lay his chastening hand upon me, and to try me with bitter sorrow. My endeavors to quell the rebellion of the heart have been sincere, and have been assisted with the blessing from above. As I advance in life its evils multiply, the instances of mortality become more frequent, and approach nearer to myself. The greater is the need of fortitude to encounter the woes that flesh is heir to, and of religion to support pains for which there is no other remedy. Religious sentiments become from day to day more constantly habitual to my mind. They are perhaps too often seen in this journal. 
God alone can make even religion a virtue, and to Him I look for aid, that mine may degenerate into no vicious excess. For the future time may the favor of God, which passeth all understanding, rest upon my parents, my wife, and all my children, my kindred, friends, and country ; nor at this moment can I forbear to include in my petitions the welfare of all human kind I For myself, may the divine energies be granted to perform fully all my duties to God, to my fellow-mortals in all the relations of life, and to my own soul.

December 31 1812: Bryon on Epistles from C.

On December 31 1812, Lord Byron writes to Lady Melbourne:
My dear Ly. M. – – I have received several epistles from C. which I have answered as seemed best at ye. time – she has at last said that she heard of the proposal but is ignorant to whom I have owned it but not added any names of any parties concerned though by this she probably knows, & it is quite as well she should. – Her letters are as usual full of contradictions & less truth (if possible) than ever, my last answer which was goodnatured enough but rather more facetious than befits her taste has produced a pettish rejoinder, she has again written to Ly. O but quietly & cunningly. 

December 31 1812; Madison to Hamilton

On December 31 1812, President Madison writes to acknowledge the resignation of his Secretary of War, Paul Hamilton.
Dear Sir,—I have received your letter of yesterday, signifying your purpose to retire from the Department which has been under your care. On an occasion which is to terminate the relation in which it placed us, I cannot satisfy my own feelings, or the tribute due to your patriotic merits and private virtues, without bearing testimony to the faithful zeal, the uniform exertions, and unimpeachable integrity, with which you have discharged that important trust; and without expressing the value I have always placed on that personal intercourse, the pleasure of which I am now to lose. With these recollections and impressions, I tender you assurances of my affectionate esteem, and of my sincerest wishes for your welfare and happiness.

December 31 1812: Sheaffe's Report

On December 31 1812, Major General Sheaffe, in Fort George, writes to Lord Bathurst, in London, to update him on the status of the war in Upper Canada.

Major General Sheaffe to Lord Bathurst.
Fort George, 31st December, 1812.
No. 1.

My Lord,—Having been so many weeks constantly in presence of an enemy of greatly superior numbers, will, I hope, apologize for me if I have not done myself the honor of addressing Your Lordship so often on the affairs of this Province as may have been expected.
During the season for active operations a great proportion of the male population was necessarily brought forward to aid His Majesty's troops in the defence of the Province. On this frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie the enemy assembled so great a force that all the militia of the neighboring district were called out.

December 30 1812: Dinner and Cards

After dinner a rubber at Lamb's; then went with Lamb and Burney to Rickman's. Hazlitt there. Cards, as usual, were our amusement. Lamb was in a pleasant mood. Rickman produced one of Chatterton's forgeries. In one manuscript there were seventeen different kinds of e's. "0," said Lamb, "that must have been written by one of the Mob of gentlemen who write with ease."
           — Henry Crabb Robinson writes in his diary for December 30th, 1812 

Or damn all Shakespeare, like th' affected fool
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.

 But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease;
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more,
(Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies o'er)
One simile, that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines,
Or lengthen'd thought that gleams through many a page,
Has sanctified whole poems for an age.

           —  Imitations of Horace by Alexander Pope, 

December 29 1812: Constitution Defeats HMS Java

On December 29 1812, the USS Constitution engages and defeats the HMS Java off the coast of Brazil. The Constitution suffers 34 men killed and wounded. The Java has 150 men killed or wounded. William Bainbridge, the captain of the Constitution, is wounded twice during the battle. Captain Lambert of the Java is killed. The Java cannot be salvaged and is sunk.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote about the sea battle in The Naval War of 1812. He described the encounter as follows:

At 9 A.M., Dec. 29, 1812, while the Constitution was running along the coast of Brazil, about thirty miles off shore in latitude 13° 6' S., and longitude 31° W, two strange sail were made, inshore and to windward. These were H. B. M. frigate Java, Captain Lambert, forty-eight days out of Spithead, England, with the captured ship William in company. Directing the latter to make for San Salvador, the Java bore down in chase of the Constitution. The wind was blowing light from the N.N.E., and there was very little sea on.

December 28 1812: Elizabeth Craven

No news from the wandering Prince. Berkeley told me he was to come in March, which month I dread. I should think, by all accounts, that you are much gayer in Scotland than we are in England. Miss Welsley is married to a very rich young Mr Lytleton, and young John Madocks is to be married to a Miss Aclam, who is an immense fortune for him. This is all the news I know, except that Skeffington is a great friend of Betty's, and admires his acting, which I do not.

It is the fashion for every one to have violent coughs, and I am in that fashion. My brother the Admiral has bought a nice house in S. Audley Street, where he and his wife, Lady Emily, are coming to stay. I suppose the treatment he has received from Ministers will come out if Lord Wellington returns not well pleased, which, I suppose, must be the case if, as I suppose too, his frisk to Madrid was by orders from hence.

You must expect to have nothing but dull politics from me, for I hear nothing else; but I shall hope the spring will bring you and some other exotics to cheer us.

I only write now to say I am alive, and always wish to hear from you.—Believe me yours sin- Elizabeth, &c

— Elizabeth Craven (née Lady Elizabeth Berkeley), then  Baroness Craven, and then Margravine of Anspach,  writes to C. Kirkpatrick Sharpe on December 28th, 1812.

December 28 1812: Jefferson and Adams

On December 28 1812, Thomas Jefferson from Monticello, writes to John Adams.

Dear Sir,—An absence of five or six weeks, on a journey I take three or four times a year, must apologize for my late acknowledgment of your favor of October 12th. After getting through the mass of business which generally accumulates during my absence, my first attention has been bestowed on the subject of your letter. I turned to the passages you refer to in Hutchinson and Winthrop, and with the aid of their dates, I examined our historians to see if Wollaston’s migration to this State was noticed by them. It happens, unluckily, that Smith and Stith, who alone of them go into minute facts, bring their histories, the former only to 1623, and the latter to 1624. Wollaston’s arrival in Massachusetts was in 1625, and his removal to this State was "sometime" after. Beverly & Keith,who came lower down, are nearly superficial, giving nothing but those general facts which every one knew as well as themselves. If our public records of that date were not among those destroyed by the British on their invasion of this State, they may possibly have noticed Wollaston. What I possessed in this way have been given out to two gentlemen, the one engaged in writing our history, the other in collecting our ancient laws; so that none of these resources are at present accessible to me. Recollecting that Nathaniel Morton, in his New England memorial, gives with minuteness the early annals of the colony of New Plymouth, and occasionally interweaves the occurrences of that on Massachusetts Bay, I recurred to him, and under the year 1628, I find he notices both Wollaston and Thomas Morton, and gives with respect to both, some details which are not in Hutchinson or Winthrop. As you do not refer to him, and so possibly may not have his book, I will transcribe from it the entire passage, which will prove at least my desire to gratify your curiosity as far as the materials within my power will enable me.

December 27 1812: Jefferson on Perpetual Motion Machines

After an absence of five weeks at a distant possession of mine, to which I pay such visits three or four times a year, I find here your favor of November 30th.  I am very thankful to you for the description of Redhefer’s machine.  I had never before been able to form an idea of what his principle of deception was.  He is the first of the inventors of perpetual motion within my knowledge, who has had the cunning to put his visitors on a false pursuit, by amusing them with a sham machinery whose loose and vibratory motion might impose on them the belief that it is the real source of the motion they see.  To this device he is indebted for a more extensive delusion than I have before witnessed on this point.  We are full of it as far as this State, and I know not how much farther.  In Richmond they have done me the honor to quote me as having said that it was a possible thing.  A poor Frenchman who called on me the other day, with another invention of perpetual motion, assured me that Dr. Franklin, many years ago, expressed his opinion to him that it was not impossible.  Without entering into contest on this abuse of the Doctor’s name, I gave him the answer I had given to others before, that the Almighty himself could not construct a machine of perpetual motion while the laws exist which He has prescribed for the government of matter in our system ;  that the equilibrium established by Him between cause and effect must be suspended to effect that purpose.  But Redhefer seems to be reaping a rich harvest from the public deception.  The office of science is to instruct the ignorant.  Would it be unworthy of some one of its votaries who witness this deception, to give a popular demonstration of the insufficiency of the ostensible machinery, and of course of the necessary existence of some hidden mover?  And who could do it with more effect on the public mind than yourself ? I received, at the same time, the Abbe Rochon’s pamphlets and book on his application of the double refraction of the Iceland Spath to the measure of small angles.  I was intimate with him in France, and had received there, in many conversations, explanations of what is contained in these sheets.  I possess, too, one of his lunettes which he had given to Dr. Franklin, and which came to me through Mr. Hopkinson.  You are therefore probably acquainted with it.  The graduated bar on each side is 12 inches long.  The one extending to 37' of angle, the other to 3,438 diameter in distance of the object viewed.  On so large a scale of graduation, a nonias might distinctly enough subdivide the divisions of 10" to 10" each ;  which is certainly a great degree of precision.  But not possessing the common micrometer of two semi-lenses, I am not able to judge of their comparative merit. 

        —Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, writes to Dr. Robert Patterson, December 27, 1812

December 27 1812: Shelley and His Relations

I question if intimacy with my relations would add at all to our tranquility. They would be plotting and playing the Devil, or shewing us to people who would do so:— or they would bore & be dull, or they would take stupid likes or dislikes, & they certainly might cramp the liberty of our movements.

            — Percy Shelley,  in Tremadoc, Wales, December 27, 1812.

December 27 1812: Princess Charlotte and Caroline

On December 27 1812, Lord Byron writes to Lady Melbourne about Princess Charlotte, the estranged daughter of the Prince Regent,  and inevitably Lady Caroline Lamb. The latter has written to him with a "long account of the bonfire still more ludicrous than yours, full of Yeomanry, pages, gold chains, basket of flowers” – herself – & all other fooleries". 
My dear Ly. M. –  I know very little of the P’s party [Princess Caroline] & less of her publication (if it be hers) & am not at all in ye. secret, but I am aware that the advice given her by the most judicious of her “little Senate” has been to remain quiet & leave all to the P Ce. – I have heard nothing of the thing you mention except in ye. papers & did not imagine it to be hers. I by no means consider myself as an attache to her or any party, though I certainly should support her interest in Parliament if brought forward in any shape – & I doubt the possibility of the divorce – firstly – because he would already if he could – 2dly. – unless there is different law for Sovereign & subject she might recriminate (even were the charge proved) & by the law of the land as in Ld. Grosvenor & Duke C’s case there could be no divorce – 3dly. it would hurt the daughter 4 thly. if he married again & the Holy Ghost or any other begat him an heir – still there would be a party ready to bastardize the product of the 2 marriage by maintaining the legality of the first & denying his divorce to be legal – & 5thly . the uproar would be prodigious & injure his nerves – for my part I care not & think this country wants a little “civil buffeting” to bring some of us to our senses. – I shall not mention your name nor what you have said though I fully agree with you that it is much better for her to be quiet. – M’amie thinks I agree with her in{all} her politics, but she will discover that this is a mistake. – She insists always upon the P’s innocence but then as she sometimes reads me somewhat a tedious homily upon her own I look upon it in much the same point of view as I should on Mary Magdalen’s vindication of Mrs.  Joseph, or any other immaculate riddle. – I suspect from what you say & what I have heard that there will be a scene. – 

My proposed confidence to you will do for our [  ] meeting & consists merely of one or two slight {domestic} things on which I want to ask your advice, & you know I not only ask but take it when you please. – – I am glad C is so quiet – her account of my letter is right – her inference from it wrong – if she knew anything of human nature she would feel that as long as men love they forgive every thing, but the moment it is over they discover fifty things on which to ground a plausible & perpetual implacability. – She could not renew it – & this she knows, but she is quite right to reserve a point for Vanity. 
In her last she says “she shall quit the room or the house the moment I enter it.” I answered that she was to do as she pleased but that my carriage would be always respectful & as friendly as she thought proper to allow – an expression I now regret for she will interpret it into a wish to be again in her trammels which I neither would nor could. – Her letters were still more absurd than ever telling me she had “perjured herself to Lady Cr & Mrs. L” &c. to whom it seems I betrayed her &. (I can safely appeal to both as you will or may discover) & all this was my fault & so on. – 

Then comes a long account of the bonfire still more ludicrous than yours, full of Yeomanry, pages, gold chains, basket of flowers” – herself – & all other fooleries. – – Ld. O. goes to town on Saturday next, & we shall follow him the week or fortnight after – in the mean time write to me – we are very quiet & happy – but I shall certainly attend to what you say on travelling “en famille.” – Believe me dear Ly M ever yrs [Byron]

P.S. – I just hear that we shall not be in town before the 20th. – 

December 27 1812: Wordsworth Accepts the Annuity

"After mature consideration, I have resolved to trust to the first feelings excited by your letter; these were rather to owe any addition to my income required by me to your friendship than to the Government, or to any other quarter where it was not in my power to return what, in the common sentiments of men, would be deemed an equivalent. Asking permission therefore to retract my former determination, which I am encouraged to do by the personal intercourse, and marks of regard with which you have since distinguished me, and by the inscrutable delicacy of your last letter, I feel no scruple in saying that I shall with pride and pleasure accept annually the sum offered by your lordship until the office has become vacant, or some other change takes place in my circumstances, which might render it unnecessary. I cannot forbear to add that I feel more satisfaction from this decision, because my opinions would not lead me to decline accepting a pension from Government on the ground that literary men make some sacrifice of independence by such acceptance, and are consequently degraded. The constitution gives to the crown this power of rewarding acknowledged ability, and it is not possible to imagine a more worthy employment of a certain portion of the revenue. But it seems to me that the provisions made by our Government for the support of literature are far too scanty, and in this respect our practice is much inferior to that of other countries, where talents of importance to mankind and to posterity — but which from that very cause can bring little emolument to the possessor of them, and which demand all the thought of all his life — are undoubtedly (where they are understood) fostered and honoured, even as a point of pride. 

This is the case in Germany, and in France. . . . Now, as to the general question, it may be laid down as undeniable, that if to bestow be a duty (and an honourable duty), to accept cannot be otherwise than honourable, . . . "
 William Wordsworth, at Grasmere, writes to Lord Lonsdale on December  27, 1812. His children, including Willy, are recovering from the measles, but the grief of the death of Catherine and Thomas is still overwhelming. Needing to support his family, Wordsworth surrenders and accepts the annuity of £100 pounds a year from Lord Lonsdale.

December 26 1812: Joel Barlow Dies

On December 26, 1812, or earlier on December 24 - the date is not certain [1] - the American diplomat to France, and poet Joel Barlow died of pneumonia in Zarnowiec, between Warsaw and Krakow. Barlow had pursued Napoleon to Vilna that year to try and negotiate a treaty between the United States and France. Napoleon was otherwise occupied at the time. Henry Adams will write of Barlow, perhaps a little unfairly, and the American relationship with France in 1812 as follows:
While Napoleon remained at Moscow, unable to advance and unwilling to retreat, Bassano wrote, October 11, from Wilna a letter to Barlow saying that the Emperor, regretting the delay which attended negotiation conducted at so great a distance, had put an end to the Due Dalberg's authority and requested Barlow to come in person to Wilna. The request itself was an outrage, for its motive could not be mistaken. For an entire year Barlow had seen the French government elude every demand he made, and he could not fail to understand that the journey to Wilna caused indefinite further delay, when a letter of ten lines to Dalberg might remove every obstacle; but however futile the invitation might be, refusal would have excused the French government's inaction. Throughout life Barlow exulted in activity; a famous traveller, no fatigue or exposure checked his restlessness, and although approaching his sixtieth year he feared no journey. He accepted Bassano's invitation, and October 25 wrote that he should set out the following day for Wilna. A week earlier, Napoleon quitted Moscow, and began his retreat to Poland.
Ten days brought Barlow to Berlin, and already Napoleon's army was in full flight and in danger of destruction, although the winter had hardly begun. November 11 Barlow reached Kbnigsberg and plunged into the wastes of Poland. Everywhere on the road he saw the devastation of war, and when he reached Wilna, November 18, he found only confusion. Every one knew that Napoleon was defeated, but no one yet knew the tragedy that had reduced his army of half a million men to a desperate remnant numbering some fifty thousand. While Barlow waited for Napoleon's arrival, Napoleon struggled through one obstacle after another until the fatal passage of the Beresina, November 27, which dissolved his army and caused him to abandon it. December 5, at midnight, he started for Paris, having sent a courier -in advance to warn the Due de Bassano, who lost no time in dismissing his guests from Wilna, where they were no longer safe. Barlow quitted Wilna for Paris the day before Napoleon left his army; but Napoleon soon passed him on the road. The weather was very cold, the thermometer thirteen degrees below zero of Fahrenheit; but Barlow travelled night and day, and after passing through Warsaw, reached a small village called Zarnovitch near Cracow. There he was obliged to stop. Fatigue and exposure caused an acute inflammation of the lungs, which ended his life Dec. 24, 1812. A week earlier Napoleon had reached Paris.
Barlow's death passed almost unnoticed, in the general catastrophe of which it was so small a part. Not until March, 1813, was it known in America; and the news had the less effect because circumstances were greatly changed. Madison's earnestness in demanding satisfaction from France expressed not so much his own feelings as fear of his domestic opponents. The triumph of Russia and England strengthened the domestic opposition beyond hope of harmony, and left the President in a desperate strait. No treaty, either with or without indemnities, could longer benefit greatly the Administration, while Napoleon's overthrow threatened to carry down Madison himself in the general ruin. In his own words, 
"Had the French emperor not been broken down, as he was to a degree at variance with all probability and which no human sagacity could anticipate, can it be doubted that Great Britain would have been constrained by her own situation and the demands of her allies to listen to our reasonable terms of reconciliation? The moment chosen for war would therefore have been well chosen, if chosen with a reference to the French expedition against Russia; and although not so chosen, the coincidence between the war and the expedition promised at the time to be as favorable as it was fortuitous."
Thus the year 1812 closed American relations with France in disappointment and mortification. Whatever hopes Madison might still cherish, he could not repeat the happy diplomacy of 1778 or of 1803. From France he could gain nothing. He had challenged a danger more serious than he ever imagined; for he stood alone in the world in the face of victorious England.
 1. The existing church tablet in Poland gives it as December 26.

December 26 1812: Letter of Introduction

I recommend to your notice & kindness my friend Mr. W. Bankes a gentleman of the first distinction in character, family, & fortune, in this country. – As he will be some time in Albania your acquaintance will be of great advantage to his pursuits, & if he finds it as agreeable &c as Mr. Hobhouse & myself did I trust he will remember it with the same pleasure. – I hope you & Ali Pacha go on well together – Leake is still in this country. – Believe me ever yrs.
— Lord Byron writes to George Forresti a letter of introduction for William Bankes, who is planning to go abroad because of and to practice his orientation, December 26, 1812. 

December 25 1812: Diplomatic Dinner

On December 25 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams writes the following diary entry
25th. I dined at Count Romanzofts with a company of about sixty persons, the Corps diplomatique, and the principal Ministers of the country. I was seated at the table between Count Maistre and the Duke de Polignac, with both of whom I had much conversation. The news was the evacuation of Courland by the French, and the taking of three thousand Prussians prisoners by the Marquis de Paulucci, the Governor of Riga. This was so small an affair amidst the multitude of great and brilliant successes of the Russian arms that it was spoken of rather contemptuously. Count Romanzoft, laughing heartily and apologizing to me for laying aside the reserve of the Chancellor, told me that the boys in the streets who sold the bulletins, when they followed persons and found them slow to take their goods, would urge them by saying, " Oh, take it! take it| It is not from Paulucci, but from Wittgenstein." The new-comer, Count Lowenhielm, appeared to be in a sort of ecstasy after dinner, at the band of music, particularly the horns, in the chamber adjoining the dining-hall. Admiral Bentinck complained that they smelt too strong of human nature. The Admiral told me that Napoleon had confiscated in Holland property belonging to him worth a hundred thousand pounds sterling. 

December 24 1812: Impotent Assaults on Canada

On December 24 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams writes a diary entry that includes the shocking news of the total defeat of the second American attempt to invade Canada at the Battle of Queenston. 
24th. The Emperor's birthday, which, for the first time since I have been here, passed over without any celebration and almost without notice. There was a petty illumination of the streets for about two hours in the evening, and nothing more. The country has suffered so much by the last summer's invasion, and there have perished such great multitudes of the people and armies, while other multitudes still greater are reduced to ruin and beggary, that the Emperor himself has determined there should be no expensive festivities this winter at his Court, and he particularly forbade the customary celebration of his birthday. I was playing at ombre with the ladies, when I received a note from Mr. Harris, with a London gazette extraordinary of 27th November, containing the official account (British) of the total defeat of the second American attempt to invade Upper Canada, and the surrender of General Wadsworth and nine hundred men. The symptoms disclosed by these repeated shameful terminations of impotent assaults are distressing to the feelings of one who loves his country. The reliance of man in all cases can only be upon Heaven. God grant that these disasters instead of sinking may rouse the spirit of the nation, and that they may learn, though from adversity, the skill and discipline which will be the pledges of their future prosperity!

December 23 1812: Lady Caroline's Bonfire

On December 23 1812, Lord Byron answers a letter from Lady Melbourne who has told him about the bonfire that Lady Caroline Lamb held at Brocket Hall in which copies of Byron’s letters were burned. Fiona MacCarthy, in her biography of Byron, describes the bonfire:
In December Lady Caroline staged a terrible and imaginative revenge, ordering a bonfire to be lit in the grounds of Brocket Hall, the Melbourne house in Hertfordshire. She instructed a group of village girls from Welwyn, dressed in white, to dance around the bonfire. One of her pages recited the lines she had composed, celebrating the burning in effigy of Byron, an Englishman as traitorous as Guy Fawkes himself. Into the flames she cast a replica of  his miniature, copies of his letters chains and rings, flowers and feathers, tawdry ornaments of love: 
"Burn, fire, burn, while wondering  boys exclaim, 
And gold and trinkets glitter in the flame."  

There were probably flames in Caroline's eyes as she gazed on her intricately choreographed masterpiece of poetry and dance, fire and malice.

Byron's letter is reproduced below.

Byron to Lady Melbourne, December 23rd 1812: 
Decr. 23d. 1812 

My dear Lady M. – Your last anecdote seems to shew that our friend is actually possessed by “the foul fiend Hibertigibbet who presides over mopping & mowing”  & if the provincial literati dont insert it in the St. Alban’s Mercury, the collectors of extraordinaries ought to be dismissed for malversation & omission. – Seriously though all this forms my best justification – I very much fear it will not forward your interests at the next election except amongst ye. ballad-makers. – What will the Lady B.- say? I fear it will go nigh to the recall of Sir W. Farquhar & the ancient disorder. – 

Was the “odious book” (which has just attained the summit of fame by giving a name to a {very slow} race horse!) added to the conflagration? & what might be the pretty piece of eloquence delivered by her right trusty Henchman? My letters would have added very appropriately to ye. combustibles & I regret ye. omission of such exquisite ingredients. – – – 
I wrote to you yesterday (franked & directed to B. H. not having then received ye. mandate to yecontrary) & do not know that I can add anything to my details in that sheet – we are completely out of the world in this place, & have not even a difference to diversify the scene or amuse our correspondents, & you know perhaps that the recapitulation or display of all good things is very insipid to auditors or beholders. – I wait the news of the reception of that same ineffable letter now in your hands, though (as I tell her) I have no great hopes of its’ doing the least good. – It is written a little gravely but very much nevertheless in the usual tone which Ly. B is pleased to say is not “soothing.” – – I am really become very indifferent as to her next proceedings, for what can she do worse than she has already done? – I am much amused with ye. tale of Ly. Cowper’s little girl – her Mamma has always had a great share of my most respectful admiration, but I dont desire to be remembered to any of you as I suppose the best wish you have is to forget me as soon as possible; besides which under ye
. impression of C’s correspondence L. C must conceive me to be a sucking Catiline only less respectable. – Bankes is going abroad, & as I said in my last it is not very unlikely that I may recommence voyaging amongst the Mussulmen. – If so I claim you as a correspondent; since you wont give me up to the reasonable request of the moderate C. & in truth I don’t wish you should. – You know I have obeyed you in everything, from in my suit to ye. Princess of Parallelograms, my breach with little Mania,  & my subsequent acknowledgement of the sovereignty of Armida  – you have been my director & are still for I do not know anything you could not make me do or undo – & my m’amie (but this you wont believe) has not yet learned the art of managing me, nor superseded your authority. – You would have laughed a little time ago, when I inadvertantly said talking of you that there was nothing you could not make me do or give up (if you thought it worth while) a sentiment which did not meet with the entire approbation of my audience but which I maintained like a Muscovite enamoured of Despotism. – I hear little from London but the lies of the Gazette & will back Buonaparte against the field still.–Pray write– & tell me how your taming goes on – I am all acquiescence to you & as much yours as ever dr. Ly. M 


Fiona MacCarthy,  Byron: Life and Legend (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002) at 191-192. 

December 22 1812: Coleridge's Annuity

On December 22, 1812, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is also writing to Daniel Stuart. He writes about the rehearsals for his play "Remorse." Coleridge also passes along the news that Josiah Wedgewood has withdrawn his share of his annuity representing an annual sum of £75.  Wedgewood had suffered business losses so was not able to continue to pay the annuity that he had paid Coleridge since 1798. [1] This loss was felt particularly by Coleridge's wife who had received the money from Coleridge in order to maintain their household in Keswick.  Coleridge's letter asks Stuart if the receipt of the Courier is on the same "terms" as in the past, presumably meaning the newspaper was sent gratis. One can detect in the letter Coleridge trying to feel out Stuart to see if he will be able to assist him. The letter also shows that Coleridge is now putting all his efforts into his play.  

The letter is reproduced below.

December 22 1812: Wordsworth, Pension, Annuity or Office

On December 22, 1812, William Wordsworth is writing to Daniel Stuart, the editor of The Courier, and touches on his finances. Wordsworth has heard from Lord Lonsdale that Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, will not be able to provide him with a office but may be able to provide a small pension. Wordsworth is too proud to accept a pension. Lord Lonsdale has also offered Wordsworth an annuity of £100 which again Wordsworth has rejected out of his sense of honour.  Wordsworth is now reconsidering the latter offer given the death of his two children and the burdens of a grieving wife. He is also determined to leave the house at Grasmere filled as it is with the memories of  his two children. Wordsworth would prefer to be given an government position which would allow him to continue to write but also provide an income. The distinction between an office, pension or annuity is important to him though his friends, including Stuart, will urge him to take the MONEY regardless of where it comes from. Wordsworth will resist and hopes to be given the position "in the Stamp office for Westmoreland now holden by a man of upwards of 70 who is helpless from a paralytic stroke; it is worth £400 a year." In this regard, Lord Lonsdale has promised to do what he can for him.

Wordsworth's letter to Daniel Stuart is reproduced below. Coincidentally, Coleridge is also writing to Stuart on this day and also touches on his own much more troubled finances.

December 21 1812: Byron and an Englishwoman's Revenge

On December 21 1812, Lord Byron writes to Lady Melbourne, again the topic that dominates is Lady Caroline Lamb, who has written to him  “you have told me how foreign women revenge – I will show you how an Englishwoman can.” Byron also tells Lady Melbourne that he has plans to travel abroad with Hobhouse in the coming year.
Byron to Lady Melbourne, December 21st 1812: Decr. 21st. 1812 
My dear Ly. Melbourne -- I have not written to you for some days which must be some wonder & great relief to yourself – I do not presume that my epistle to the most amiable of the Ponsonbys [Caroline Lamb's maiden name] will have much effect & I fear Ly. B will not deem it sufficiently “soothing.” – As the Lady however seems to have imagined herself extremely terrific in my eyes I could not altogether humour the mistake, & leave it to the inhabitants of Chili (or where is it?) to worship the D — l. “Soothing!” quotha! I wonder who wants it most! I think at least some portion of that same soothing syrup ought to fall to my share. – – – 

December 20 1812: Grimm's Fairy Tales Published

On December 20, 1812, "Kinder-und Hausmärchen" or "Children's and Household Tales"  is first published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The collection would later be known in English as Grimm's Fairy Tales. There were 86 stories in the first volume of the 1812 edition. Eventually, the seventh edition would have 211 stories. The Grimm Brothers would introduce into world literature such characters as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, the Frog King and many others.

The Grimm Brothers viewed their first collection as a scholarly attempt to preserve the stories of oral traditions that were disappearing. Over the years, this essentially scholarly undertaking gave way to reshaping the stories as they became more and more popular. They sometimes embellished the stories and added more palatable details. In the end, they could only disguise, but not eliminate, the violence that gives many of the stories their power.  

What follows are excerpts from some of the stories included in that first edition.

December 20 1812: Devils Powder-Puff

Do not let me forget to say in case of another fall upon the scrapes, or any cut, – that the easiest & most efficacious of all styptics is the dust of that fungus which is called the Devils powder-puff, or his snuff-box. Gather the next you meet with for this purpose. John Wesley furnished me with the fact.  I have had one for some years at hand & the other day when Edith had pricked a vein,  [blood] was instantly staunched. – This same powder burnt under a hive will stupefy the bees.
—  Robert Southey writes to this brother Thomas Southey with advice on how to use Devil's powder-put or snuff to check bleeding or stupefy bees, if burnt under a hive, December  20,  1812.  

December 19 1812: Prevost on Naval Superiority

On December 19, 1812, Sir George Prevost from Castle St. Lewis, Quebec writes to Captain Gray.

Sir George Prevost to Captain A. Gray.
Castle St. Lewis, Quebec, 19th Dec, 1812.

Sir,—I have rec'd your letters of the 3d and 11th inst., containing your report upon the state of the marine of the Upper Province, together with your suggestions upon the most effectual mode of obtaining and preserving a naval superiority on the lakes.

I am fully aware both from your representation and from what I have heard from other quarters of the low and inefficient state of our naval establishment in the Upper Province, and of the necessity of the most vigorous exertions to place it upon the footing that shall enable us with any hope or prospect of success to meet the enemy in that quarter.

December 19 1812: French Beat Russians

On December 19, 1812, Major Sheaffe passes on to Colonel Talbot further news including news from Russia about the Battle of Borodino. "The French say they have beaten the Russians," he writes "on the River Moskwa, 25 leagues from Moscow. They own the loss of 10,000, and estimate that of the Russians at 40 to 50,000. It is said that the latter were joined" after the battle by 40,000 from Moscow, which city an uncredited report states to have been taken by the French."

The full letter is reproduced below.

 Major-General Sheaffe to Colonel Talbot
Fort George, 19th Decr., 1812.

My Dear Colonel,—In consequence of the explanation furnished by you and L. Colonel Nichol, I shall authorize the payment of the sums disallowed in the estimate of the 24th Septr. for the pay of the Norfolk, Middlesex and Oxford regiments.

I received despatches yesterday from headquarters to the 6th Decr. A superintendent and storekeeper for our dock-yard arrived at Kingston, a Mr. Plucknett, who has been in one of our dockyards at home. From 100 to 120 shipwrights and 30 seamen are by this time near Kingston. Naval officers and seamen are expected from Halifax. A frigate and a sloop of war'are to be built on this lake and another vessel like the Lady Prevost on Lake Erie. Some gunboats with heavy guns are to be added to the list.

The Royal George and Moira winter at Kingston. There has been a ridiculous affair near Champlain: 6 or 700 Americans attempted to surprise a picquet of ours of 20 voyageurs and 12 Indians, who were placed in a ditch by Mr. McCoy, command'g. The Americans so completely surrounded the post that had been occupied by our people that in firing on them they only injured one another, and our men joined in the fire, without having a man hurt. The enemy retired after having 50 or 60 killed and wounded. A few of the latter were taken.
I. Coffin is appointed temporary Acting Assistant Commissary General.

Lord Wellington has taken Burgos. The French say they have beaten the Russians on the River Moskwa, 25 leagues from Moscow. They own the loss of 10,000, and estimate that of the Russians at 40 to 50,000. It is said that the latter were joined" after the battle by 40,000 from Moscow, which city an uncredited report states to have been taken by the French.

Madison has been re-elected by 47. Rumor says that the United States frigate has been taken. Parliament is dissolved.

Massena advancing with 10,000 men towards Spain. Suchet and Joseph have retired from Valentia. Seville taken by assault with little loss. One of the large French mortars employed against Cadiz, and deserted by the Gauls, has been sent to England as a present to the Prince of Wales. The Government of Spain has published a declaration of freedom to all who had acted with the French.

If you knew but all I have to say, to write, and to do, you might be able to estimate the value of so long a letter. Local intelligence I leave to L. Colonel Bostwick.

December 18 1812: Gloomy Despondency in Canada

On December 18, 1812, Colonel Robert Nichol, in Niagara Upper Canada, writes to Colonel Talbot. "Alas! my dear Colonel," he writes,  "we are now no longer commanded by Brock, and our situation is most materially changed for the worse. Confidence seems to have vanished from the land, and gloomy despondency has taken its place".

Niagara, Dec 18, 1812.

My Dear Colonel,—You must think me the worst of men for the apparent neglect of you since my return from Montreal, but when you know that I have not had time even to see my own wife you will not, I am sure, think me much to blame. This cursed office, to which for my sins I have been appointed, engrosses all my time, and if I don't soon get leave to resign it I believe I shall go crazy. I have not had it in my power to attend either to your affairs or my own.

December 18 1812: Napoleon is Home

On December 18, 1812, at a quarter to midnight, Napoleon arrives at Tuileries in Paris, and falls into the arms of his wife, the Empress Marie-Louise. Caulaincourt describes his arrival: 
At last the moment arrived when he was to ride ahead into the courtyard and hand us out at the Tuileries. 

Without being told to do so, and before the mounted sentinels had time to challenge him, the postilion drove at a gallop through the Arc de Triomphe. "That's a good sign," the Emperor said to me. Safe and sound, he got out at the main gateway just as the clock was striking the quarter before midnight. I had unbuttoned my overcoat far enough to show the braid of my uniform. The sentries, taking us for despatch officers, let us pass; and so we got through to the door of the open gallery that overlooks the Gardens. The porter, who had gone to bed, came out with a lamp in his hand, and dressed only in his shirt, to see who was knocking. Our faces looked so strange to him that he called his wife. I had to repeat my name three or four times over before I could persuade them to open the door. Nor was it without difficulty and a lot of blinking—she stuck the lamp right into my face—that either of them knew who I was. Then she unlocked, while he was calling one of the regular footmen. The Empress had just retired.