LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Frances Arkwright to Francis Hodgson, [9 September 1841]

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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My dear Mr. Hodgson,—Our tour was most charming, so charming that I can give you no idea of it. Much and often did I wish for you, who would have been so worthy of all that nature and art poured out to overflowing. I was more pleased with France than I expected. It is certainly a fine country, though its natural beauties are not interesting; but there are some things in the South well worth seeing. The Pont du Gard is most magnificent, and Nismes, with its beautiful amphitheatre and many other interesting remains. Arles, too, and Avignon, which has a peculiar charm of its own, though there is not much to see in the town; but the situation is beautiful. We went from
Chalons to Lyons by the Saône (the scenery is extremely pretty), then from Lyons to Avignon by the Rhône. I cannot say how beautiful the Rhône is; it far, far surpasses the Rhine, which is greatly over-rated. On leaving France we went from Nice to Genoa by the Cornice—lovely; imagine going close to the Mediterranean for 200 miles, on a ledge so overhanging it that you might drop a stone into it, and never leaving it but to wend for a short distance among rocks of variegated marble, and through groves of olives, palms, oleanders, oranges, giving out their sweetness to the sea-breeze: then the Mediterranean—there is nothing on this earth so lovely. Our sea is a fine, bluff fellow, and I love him dearly. But, my dear Mr. Hodgson, you can have no idea of the exquisite beauty and variety of colours of the Mediterranean. How I wished for you at Genoa, and Florence, and Venice, and in all the intermediate travelling. Venice is enchantment! and you must go directly, for they have almost finished a railroad through the sea from the main-land. In another year it will be done, and Venice no longer Venice. From Venice we went through great part of the Tyrol, with which I was delighted. The country and the people are most loveable, most attaching. Then
we went to Milan, and over the Simplon into Switzerland, with which I was disappointed. We came home by the Rhine to Brussels. This is a slight sketch of our tour, and here is how I love it. First of all Italy, really the garden of the world, its lakes, its mountains, its plains, all exquisite. Its works of art, palaces, pictures, statues, churches, all miracles of splendour. I had no conception of the treasures they contain; but alas! that so much treasure should have been expended to perpetuate error. I was disappointed in the Venus! She is beautiful in form, but her head is insignificant, and altogether she did not interest me. Of all the statues at Florence I most admired the Knife- grinder; that is wonderfully fine: and a figure of architecture which makes part of a group on the monument of
Michael Angelo in the Church of Santa Croce.

To pictures, with shame I confess it, I am quite insensible, except in three or four instances. The finest picture in the world is at Venice, and that I saw without the least emotion. The gallery at Bologna, too, I cared nothing about; in short, I have not that sense.

Italy, beautiful, beautiful Italy, I place first of all; then the Tyrol; then Switzerland, beautiful but
stern and hard—we should have seen it before we went to Italy and the Tyrol—then Germany; then France. Of the mountain-passes I place first the Stelvio, for wonder; the Ampezzo for beauty, oh, how beautiful! then the Fintermünz—all in the Tyrol; then the Simplon. Lakes—first, Maggiore, then Como, then Geneva. I saw no other Swiss lake; but we saw Chamouni, very fine.

I almost forgot to tell you that the book I send you is from the Island of San Lazaro at Venice, and was printed at the monastery there, which was a favourite spot of Lord Byron’s, and where he was instructed in the Armenian language by Father Paschal Ancher. I was sorry not to see him, but he was away for his health. Another brother showed us all over the convent and gardens, full of oleanders, large trees. The printing-offices are very large, and they appear to be very busy; the type, as you will see, is remarkably good. I know you will accept this poor offering as a sort of memento of Lord Byron, and as rather a curious book.

Have you read Horace Twiss’sLife of Lord Eldon?’ I think you would like it. It appears to me well written, interesting, and very amusing; and he has given private anecdotes and letters of
Lord Eldon, without compromising his dignity in the least. We are going to Chatsworth on the 20th for a few days, to meet Lady Granville. I shall call at Stoney, from there, of course. With kind love to Mrs. Hodgson and the children,

I am ever,
Most affectionately yours,
F. C. A.