Since I wrote my letter, the following, is the account nearest the truth that I can learn of the fatal duel last night: a club of Nottinghamshire gentlemen had dined at the Star and Garter, and there had been a dispute between the combatants, whether Lord Byron, who took no care of his game, or Mr. Chaworth, who was active in the association, had most game on their manor. The company, however, had apprehended no consequences, and parted at eight o’clock; but Lord Byron stepping into an empty chamber, and sending the drawer for Mr. Chaworth, or calling him hither himself, took the candle from the waiter, and bidding Mr. Chaworth defend himself, drew his sword. Mr. Chaworth, who was an excellent fencer, ran Lord Byron through the sleeve of his coat, and then received a wound fourteen inches deep into his body. He was carried to his house in Berkeley-street,—made his will with the greatest composure, and dictated a paper, which they say, allows it was a fair duel, and died at nine this morning. Lord Byron is not gone off, but says he will take his trial, which, if the Coroner brings in a verdict of manslaughter, may, according to precedent, be in the House of Lords, and without the ceremonial of Westminster Hall. George Selwyn is much missed on this occasion, but we conclude it will bring him over.(746) I feel for both families, though I know none of either, but poor Lady Carlisle,(747) Whom I am sure you will pity.
Our last three Saturdays at the Opera have been prodigious. and a new opera by Bach(748) last night, was so crowded, that there were ladies standing behind the scenes during the whole performance. Adieu! my dear lord: as this goes by a private hand, you may possibly receive its successor before it.
(741) It seems, from a subsequent letter, that Lord Sandwich was present. See post, p. 375, letter 240.
(742) Lord Henry Paulet, member for Hampshire, vice-admiral of the White, brother of the Duke of Bolton; to which dignity he himself succeeded on the 5th July, 1764.-E.
(743) William, fifth Lord Byron, born in 1722, died in 1798. The Star and Garter was a tavern in Pall Mall.-C.
(744) His own Castle of Otranto.-E.
(745) It came out at Drury-lane, and was acted six nights. The hint of it was taken from Marmontel’s “Heureux Divorce.”
(746) Mr. Selwyn’s morbid curiosity after trials and executions is well known.-C.
(747) Isabella, only sister of Lord Byron, wife of the fourth Earl of Carlisle.-E.
(748) Adriano in Siria.” The expectations of the public the first night this drama was performed occasioned such a crowd at the King’s theatre as has seldom been seen there before; but whether from heat or inconvenience, the unreasonableness of expectation, the composer being Out Of fancy, or too anxious to please, Dr. Burney says the opera failed, and that every one came out of the theatre disappointed.-E.