Hiccup and Happiness



Walter Geikie, Drunken Man, ca 1835.

A letter from Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, dated October 31, 1815. 

Yesterday, I dined out with a largeish party, where were Sheridan and Colman, Harry Harris of C[ovent] G[arden] and his brother, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Ds. Kinnaird, and others, of note and notoriety. Like other parties of the kind, it was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then unintelligible, then altogethery, then inarticulate, and then drunk. When we had reached the last step of this glorious ladder, it was difficult to get down again without stumbling;—and, to crown all, Kinnaird and I had to conduct Sheridan down a damned corkscrew staircase, which had certainly been constructed before the discovery of fermented liquors, and to which no legs, however crooked, could possibly accommodate themselves. We deposited him safe at home, where his man, evidently used to the business, waited to receive him in the hall.

Both he and Colman were, as usual, very good; but I carried away much wine, and the wine had previously carried away my memory; so that all was hiccup and happiness for the last hour or so, and I am not impregnated with any of the conversation. Perhaps you heard of a late answer of Sheridan to the watchman who found him bereft of that ‘divine particle of air,’ called reason, * * * . He, the watchman, found Sherry in the street, fuddled and bewildered, and almost insensible. ‘Who are you, sir?’—no answer. ‘What’s your name?’—a hiccup. ‘What’s your name?’—Answer, in a slow, deliberate, and impassive tone—‘Wilberforce!!!’ Is not that Sherry all over?—and, to my mind, excellent. Poor fellow, his very dregs are better than the ‘first sprightly runnings’ of others.

My paper is full, and I have a grievous headache.