LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Chapter VI. 1845-46.

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
‣ Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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1845, 1846, WITH GLANCES BACK TO 1840-42.

Death of Sydney Smith, of ‘Bobus’ Smith, of Lord Grey, of Lady Holland—A Letter of Lady Holland’s—Rogers’s View of Lady Holland—Mrs. Kemble’s ‘Recollections’—Rogers and Mrs. Grote—Sydney Smith on Rogers—Letter from Edward Everett—An Autumn in Paris—Rogers and Mrs. Forster—The Political Crisis in 1845—Rogers and Lord Grey—Rogers and Mr. and Mrs. Dickens—Letters from Edward Everett and Charles Sumner—Rogers’s Portrait at Harvard—Rogers and Mrs. Norton—Letters from Mrs. Norton—Brougham’s Correspondence—Mr. Ruskin and Rogers—Mr. Ruskin on Venice.

Sydney Smith died on the 22nd of February, 1845, in the seventy-fourth year of his age.1 His death was the going out of a great source of warmth and light from the circle in which Rogers lived. All the world missed and mourned the gentlest and most genial of wits, but to those who were constantly enlivened by his merriment, and improved and cheered by his pure and freshening influence, the world was permanently duller and colder for his loss. Yet probably, to the private circle, the death of his elder brother, Robert Percy Smith, a fortnight afterwards was even a more serious deprivation. His nickname of ‘Bobus’ was given him at Eton, and clung to him through life. He was the best writer of Latin verse in his time; he could repeat long passages of the Latin

1 His latest biographer, Mr. Stuart J. Reid, says he was in his seventy-fifth year. He was born on the 3rd of June, 1771, and would therefore have completed his seventy-fourth year on the 3rd of June, 1845.

prose writers, and he was always spoken of by Rogers as one of the most acute men he had ever met. He made a fortune in India early in life, sat some years in Parliament, made his house in Savile Row one of the most popular in London, and introduced his brother Sydney to London society. He was one of the few men with whom Rogers, who had the highest esteem for him, talked over questions of theology. Rogers told
Mr. Dyce that the three acutest men with whom he was ever acquainted, Sir James Mackintosh, Malthus, and Bobus Smith, were all agreed on the problem of evil. They came to the conclusion that the attributes of the Deity must be in some respects limited, else there would be no sin and misery. Rogers visited him as he lay dying. Bobus Smith said, ‘Rogers, however we may doubt on some points, we have made up our minds on one,—that Christ was sent into the world commissioned by the Almighty to instruct mankind.’ Rogers answered, ‘Yes; of that I am perfectly convinced.’ It is interesting to know that more than fifty years after Dr. Price’s death, his most distinguished disciple still held the fundamental principle of his teaching. Bobus Smith is reported to have said to his brother-in-law, Dr. (afterwards Sir H.) Holland, who remarked to him, ‘Your profession (the law) does not make angels of men.’ ‘No—but yours does.’ Dr. Holland writes—

Dr. Holland to Samuel Rogers.
‘Brook Street: Monday, 10th March [1845].

‘My dear Sir,—Knowing your affection for the dear and excellent friend whom we have lost in Savile Row,
I cannot forbear writing a few lines to you, that we may in some sort mix our grief in this loss together. To himself the event was less painful than to us. You know that he never coveted life; and of late his blindness (which had become complete) and several other infirmities coming on, still further abated any wish to live.

‘The disorder of which he died was identical with that which carried off his brother, after a more protracted illness—diseased heart, with dropsy of the chest as an effect of it. Singular that two such men, so related, should be carried off almost at the same moment of time!

‘In all my own intercourse with the world, I have scarcely met one who might compare in power and fullness of intellect with him about whom I am now writing to you. I think you will join with me in this impression.

‘Believe me, my dear Mr. Rogers, ever yours most faithfully,

H. Holland.

‘My poor wife feels deeply this double bereavement, scarcely to be repaired to her.’

As the year went on other deaths still further desolated the circle in which Rogers lived. On the 17th of July Lord Grey died at Howick, and his death was at once announced to Rogers in the following letter.

The Honourable Frederick Grey to Samuel Rogers.
‘Howick: 17th July, 1845; Thursday night.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—Your long friendship with my father and your kindness to myself make it my painful
duty to announce to you his death. He was, after being better on Monday than for some time previous, suddenly attacked by inflammation in the left arm on Tuesday morning. It soon proved to be erysipelas, and his strength rapidly gave way under the attack, and a little after eight this evening he breathed his last. He did not appear to suffer at all.
Howick and myself arrived at two o’clock, but he was already so exhausted as to be scarcely, if at all, conscious of our presence. My mother was with him to the last and bore up wonderfully, and I trust she may have strength sufficient to support her.

‘Believe me, my dear Mr. Rogers,

‘Yours most sincerely,
Fred. Wm. Grey.’

Earl Grey was a few months younger than Rogers, having been born on the 13th of March, 1764. He had, therefore, completed four months of his eighty-second year when he died, while Rogers was within a fortnight of his eighty-second birthday. He felt these successive losses most deeply. Lord Grey had his most sincere admiration, and, as we have already seen, he had heartily sympathised with the great Reform minister in the circumstances which led to his retirement from office eleven years before. The remarkable statement in Rogers’s letter to Richard Sharp,1 that the wish of Lord Grey’s heart was to continue in office another year and to carry the two Church Reforms—a statement which Rogers says he knew to be true—shows the confidential relations in which they stood to each other. Lord Grey had been

1 See ante, p. 107.

living in retirement for these eleven years, and new men and new questions were already coming to the front, when the ‘long summer day’ of his useful and honoured life and his ‘still happier’ age, to use Rogers’s words, came to its close. Rogers’s lines, ‘written in July 1834,’ fitly expressed the admiration and affection he felt for Lord Grey—

Grey, thou hast served, and well, the sacred cause
That Hampden, Sidney, died for. Thou hast stood,
Scorning all thought of Self from first to last,
Among the foremost in that glorious field:
From first to last; and ardent as thou art,
Held on with equal step as best became
A lofty mind, loftiest when most assailed:
Never, though galled by many a barbed shaft,
By many a bitter taunt from friend and foe,
Swerving, nor shrinking. Happy in thy Youth,
Thy youth the dawn of a long summer day;
But in thy Age still happier: thine to earn
The gratitude of millions yet unborn;
Thine to conduct, through ways how difficult,
A mighty people in their march sublime
From Good to Better. Great thy recompense,
When in their eyes thou readest what thou hast done;
And may’st thou long enjoy it; may’st thou long
Preserve for them what still they claim as theirs,
That generous fervour and pure eloquence,
Thine from thy birth, and Nature’s noblest gifts
To guard what they have gained!

In November Lady Holland and Lord Melbourne died. Lady Holland had moved to South Street on Lord Holland’s death, but she kept together there much of the society which had made Holland House famous
in earlier days.
Sir Henry Holland tells us that he was present at the very last dinner party she ever gave, when Thiers and Palmerston met for the first time. She was the despot of Holland House society, and Rogers, though one of her chief favourites and most intimate friends, was sometimes rebellious under her sway. A letter from her, which is without date of year, I reproduce to illustrate the relation in which she stood to Rogers. It was probably written in 1832.

Lady Holland to Samuel Rogers.

‘What are you doing, my dear friend, that I know nothing of you? You promised, if not a visit at least a note. Can you come to us to-day, to meet the Carlisles, or to-morrow, or, in short, on any day before the 12th, on which day we purpose being at Woburn, to make the Duke a visit before he joins the Duchess in Scotland? We proceed on to the Ladies of the Forest, and shall be at Ampthill at the end of the month, where, I trust, hope, rely, and believe you and your sister will bestow upon us the month of September. Remember how you are pledged always about Ampthill.

‘I have read with great pleasure your beautiful description of the constellation of the Cross,1 and also referred to Humboldt. When I began your volume, I could not lay it down. Surely the verses in Westminster Abbey are very fine; indeed, it is difficult within so small a compass to find so many beauties collected.

‘Yours affectionately,
E. V. Holland.
‘Wednesday, 1st August.

1 In the sixth canto of Columbus.


Lord Holland has a little attack of gout, from the weakness in one of his hands. I was glad to find when I sent to enquire about Lord Ashburnham, that he was better.’

Rogers was in constant communication with her to the last, and a very short time after her death he gave Mrs. Kemble an account of her last days, which is to be found in a letter1 written by her from Welwyn.

‘Just before I came down here, Rogers paid me a long visit, and talked a great deal about Lady Holland; and I felt interested in what he said about the woman who had been the centre of so remarkable a society, and his intimate friend for so many years. Having all her life appeared to suffer the most unusual terror, not of death only, but of any accident that could possibly, or impossibly, befall her, he said that she had died with perfect composure, and though consciously within the very shadow of death for three whole days before she crossed the dark threshold, she expressed neither fear nor anxiety, and exhibited a tranquillity of mind by no means general at that time, and which surprised many of the persons of her acquaintance. . . . Rogers said that she spoke of her life with considerable satisfaction, asserting that she had done as much good and as little harm as she could during her existence. The only person about whom she expressed any tenderness was her daughter. Lady Holland desired much to see her, and she crossed the Channel, having travelled in great

1 Records of Later Life. By Frances Anne Kemble, iii. 91-93.

haste, and arrived just in time to fulfil her mother’s wish and receive her blessing.

‘Her will creates great astonishment—created, I should say! for she is twice buried already, under the Corn Laws question. She left her son only 2,000l., and to Lord John Russell 1,500l. a year, which at his death reverts to Lady Lilford’s children. To Rogers, strange to say, nothing; but he professed to think it an honour to be left out. To my brother, strange to say, something (Lord Holland’s copy of the British Essayists in thirty odd volumes); and to Lady Palmerston, her collection of fans, which, though it was a very valuable and curious one, seems to me a little like making fun of that superfine fine lady.’

Mrs. Kemble tells us of the effect of these losses on the old poet. She describes him as ‘very much broken and altered, very deaf, very sad.’ This was written two days after Lady Holland’s death, when, as Mrs. Kemble says, ‘he literally stands as though his turn were next.’ She speaks of him, however, in most affectionate terms. She persuaded him to go down to Burnham Beeches, with her, and this is her account of the visit—

‘I went down to Burnham with the old poet, and was sorry to find that, though he had consented to pay Mrs. Grote this visit, he was not in particularly harmonious tune for her society, which was always rather a trial to his fastidious nerves and refined taste. The drive of between three and four miles in a fly (very different from his own luxurious carriage) through intri-
cate lanes and rural winding avenues, did not tend to soften his acerbities, and I perceived at once, on alighting from the carriage, that the aspect of the place did not find favour in his eyes.

Mrs. Grote had just put up an addition to her house, a sort of single wing, which added a good-sized drawing-room to the modest mansion I had before visited. Whatever accession of comfort the house received within, from this addition to its size, its beauty externally was not improved by it, and Mr. Rogers stood before the offending edifice, surveying it with a sardonic sneer that I should think even brick and mortar must have found hard to bear. He had hardly uttered his three first disparaging bitter sentences of utter scorn and abhorrence of the architectural abortion (which, indeed, it was), when Mrs. Grote herself made her appearance in her usual country costume—box-coat, hat on her head, and stick in her hand. Mr. Rogers turned to her with a verjuice smile, and said, “I was just remarking that in whatever part of the world I had seen this building, I should have guessed to whose taste I might attribute its erection.” To which, without an instant’s hesitation, she replied, “Ah! ’tis a beastly thing, to be sure. The confounded workmen played the devil with the place while I was away.” Then, without any more words, she led the way to the interior of her habitation. . . .

‘During this visit, much interesting conversation passed with reference to the letters of Sydney Smith, who was just dead; and the propriety of publishing all his correspondence, which, of course, contained strictures and remarks upon people with whom he had been living
in habits of friendly social intimacy. I remember one morning a particularly lively discussion on the subject between
Mrs. Grote and Mr. Rogers. The former had a great many letters from Sydney Smith, and urged the impossibility of publishing them, with all their comments on members of the London world. Rogers, on the contrary, apparently delighted at the idea of the mischief such revelations would make, urged Mrs. Grote to give them ungarbled to the press. “Oh, but now,” said the latter, “here, for instance, Mr. Rogers, such a letter as this about ——; do see how he cuts up the poor fellow. It really never would do to publish it.” Rogers took the letter from her, and read it with a stony grin of diabolical delight on his countenance, and occasional chuckling exclamations of “Publish it! publish it! Put an R, dash, or an R and four stars for the name. He’ll never know it, though everybody else will.” While Mr. Rogers was thus delectating himself in anticipation with R——’s execution, Mrs. Grote, by whose side I was sitting on a low stool, quietly unfolded another letter of Sydney Smith’s, and silently held it before my eyes, and the very first words in it were a most ludicrous allusion to Rogers’s cadaverous appearance.1 As I raised my eyes from this most absurd description of him, and saw him still absorbed in his evil delight, the whole struck me as so like a scene in a farce that I could not refrain from bursting out laughing.

‘In talking of Sydney Smith, Mr. Rogers gave us

1 The expression is given in another letter of Mrs. Kemble’s. It was, ‘I never think of death in London but when I see Rogers.’ In her whole account of this interview Mrs. Kemble evidently mistook for serious what was meant in fun.

many amusing details of various visits he paid him at his place in Somersetshire, Combe Florey. . . . Rogers told us, too, with great satisfaction, an anecdote of Sydney Smith’s son, known in London by the nickname of the
Assassin. . . . This gentleman, being rather addicted to horse-racing and the undesirable society of riders, trainers, jockeys, and semi-turf blacklegs, meeting a friend of his father’s on his arrival at Combe Florey, the visitor said, “So you have got Rogers here, I find.” “O yes,” replied Sydney Smith’s dissimilar son, with a rueful countenance, “but it isn’t the Rogers you know;” the Rogers according to him being a famous horse-trainer and rider of that name.’

The letter shown by Mrs. Grote to Mrs. Kemble in Rogers’s presence may be compared with an extract from one addressed to Lady Holland, which Mrs. Sydney Smith sent to him soon after her husband’s death.

Mrs. Sydney Smith to Samuel Rogers.

‘I cannot resist sending it to you, dear Mr. Rogers

‘“I think you very fortunate, my dear Lady Holland, in having Rogers at Rome. Shew me a more kind and friendly man; secondly, one from good manners, knowledge, fun, taste, and observation more agreeable; thirdly, a man of more strict political integrity, and of better character in private life. If I were to choose any Englishman in foreign parts whom I should wish to blunder upon, it should be Rogers.”—Sydney Smith.

‘Praise is sweet, but when it comes from one not too
prodigal of it, though always just to give it where due, it is worth reading.

‘Most affectionately yours,
‘C. A. S.’

There are many letters from Mrs. Sydney Smith to Rogers in the next few years, all in the same affectionate terms, telling him of her husband’s affection for him and asking his advice on various matters. In one of these, which is chiefly about her husband, she says, ‘I have a most sincere affection for you as one of his earliest and most attached friends, and of whose friendship he was always proud.’

Mr. Everett gives strong expression to his sense of the friendly welcome which had been given him by Rogers, among others in the old home.

Edward Everett to Samuel Rogers.
‘Boston: 30th Sept. 1845.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—I will not allow the vessel which brought us to America to return to England without a line to let you know that we have arrived in safety, and that, even in the midst of the excitement and tumult of reaching home, we all retain the most affectionate remembrance of the second home, which, through the kindness of friends, we had gained in the land of our fathers. It is true that with the pleasing remembrance of the happy hours passed in their society, is mingled the sadness of feeling we may never enjoy it again, and self-reproach that we did not more assiduously cultivate it. I am now discontented with myself
that I left you any peace. I assure you it was not insensibility to the worth of the moments I passed in your society, but real diffidence and desire not to be obtrusive. Will you not make me some little dédommagement by giving me a few moments of your time? Let me see your exquisitely neat handwriting, telling me you have not entirely forgotten us. And believe me, that if it is any satisfaction to a man to know that he is remembered with affection and gratitude in another hemisphere, there is no one entitled to a greater share of it than yourself.

‘Should you have time to write me a few lines, they will reach me safely if sent to “Mr. John Miller, 26 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.”

‘With sincere attachment, faithfully yours,
E. Everett.’

The letter came while the octogenarian friend to whom it was addressed was disporting himself in Paris. Wordsworth in a letter speaks of him as ‘singularly fresh and strong for his years, and his mental faculties (with the exception of his memory a little) not at all impaired.’ His own account of his autumn visits shows that even his physical energy must have been unusual for his time of life.

Samuel Rogers to Sarah Rogers.
‘Paris: 23rd Oct., 1845.

‘My dear Sarah,—I wrote from Broadstairs, but, having heard nothing in reply, conclude that you wait to hear from me at Paris, and a diary will best answer my purpose and yours.


Oct. 6th.—Maltby left me to return by steamboat, being anxious to see Travers.

‘7th, 8th, 9th.—Went to Dover, there saw only the Miss Westmacotts and Barry the architect. Rough weather.

‘10th.—A good passage to Boulogne. Dined at table d’hôte with Mrs. Cholmondley and Mrs. Romilly, who asked much after you.



‘13th.—Paris. Took my old nest at the top of the tree and drank tea very comfortably with Lady E. and Miss J. and Pop, who wished for you.

‘14th.—Went with them to Norma. Louvre in the morning.

‘15th.—Dined with the D’Henins. Maltby will tell you about Adele.

‘16th.—The eldest Shee breakfasted with me. Went with the B[ellenden] Kers and Miss C. to the French opera.

‘17th.—Dined with them at the Frères Provençales.

‘18th.—Mrs. and Miss Horner breakfasted with me and went with me at night to the French opera.

‘19th.—Went to the Italian opera. Delightful day. Went to Meudon.

‘20th.—Drank tea with Mrs. Forster.

‘21st.—Mr. and Mrs. Martineau and son breakfasted with me. So far well, only I caught cold yesterday and have it still, and like Paris less than before, but am not in spirits, and the fault is in me. To-day it rains, and for some days it has been colder than usual, though
there have been many sunsets very splendid. Have been invited to the Embassy, but could not go, or should have met the
Abingers. Washington Irving is here from Madrid, and I have breakfasted with him and his niece. ‘Lord and Lady Abinger are here on a nuptial tour. All this sounds very busy, very like what you read in “The Morning Post.” But to go to a better subject: I hope you are pretty well and still in the country. Mrs. Forster has had Lord and Lady Nugent with her. They are gone to Malta, by Marseilles, travelling by public conveyances and without man or maid. At Dover I fell in with Lord and Lady Ashburton on their way to Italy with their daughters. We crossed together and parted at St. Denis. I say parted, having exchanged talk on the road, but having had no meal together. But who do you think came close behind me all the way? Lady Conyngham, though I could not somehow get a sight of her. Once she breakfasted in the same room with Reece, talking freely with him, and when I looked in at the door, and he asked her if she knew Mr. Rogers, she said, “No.” The Kers are on the wing for England, and so are the Horners. Henry [Sharpe] arrived last night from England, and tells me you were expected at home; he is, as usual, in high spirits.

‘Yours ever,
‘S. R.
‘Hotel de l’Europe, Rue de Rivoli: 23rd Oct.

‘I may stay a fortnight longer. The Kers are very active and see everything. The Horners have been here for some time in the absence of Mr. H. You may now go to Orleans by rail-road and return at night; as also
to Rouen. But those things are best done in the summer. I suffer more from the cold than ever, and my neighbour’s smoke makes my eyes smart. I have not yet been to Versailles. To-day I breakfast with Mme. de Chabannes, née Miss Ellis. She is related to
Lady Abinger, who is described as not handsome and about forty-five.’

Mrs. Forster, who is mentioned several times in this letter, is the old sweetheart spoken of in the first chapter of the first volume. His brief note, addressed to her at 23 Avenue Marbœuf, on the 20th of October, contains a sentence which describes the principle on which he acted all through his career. It used to be said that an invitation to breakfast with Rogers was a transition stage in acquaintance with him, a kind of probation before an invitation to dinner. It was nothing of the kind; it was the very reverse. An invitation to breakfast was a sign that he wished to have a real talk with the friend so invited.1 He says to Mrs. Forster—

1Mr. Hayward says: ‘He often read from his notes Rousseau’s profession of “un goût vif pour les déjeuners. C’est le tems de la journée où nous sommes le plus tranquilles, où nous causons le plus à notre aise.” It was a current joke that he asked people to breakfast by way of probation for dinner; but his breakfast parties (till the unwillingness to be alone made him less discriminating) were made for those with whom he wished to live socially, and his dinners, comparatively speaking, were affairs of necessity or form. Even in his happiest moods he was not convivial; his spirits never rose above temperate; he disliked loud laughing or talking; and unless some distinguished personage or privileged wit was there to break the ice and keep up the ball, the conversation at his dinners not unfrequently flagged. It seemed to be, and perhaps was, toned down by the subdued light, which left half the room in shadow and speedily awoke the fairer portion of the company to the disagreeable consciousness that their complexions were looking


‘I will do my best to look in upon you before you break up, as I wish much to see your inmates before they go. But, if I could, I would breakfast with my friends, and dine or drink tea with my acquaintances.

‘S. R.’

Mrs. Kemble’s account of him as ‘deaf and sad and much broken,’ was after this visit to Paris. It was towards the close of a very melancholy year. He soon recovered both health and spirits, and there are signs of his continued and lively interest in public affairs. In December, 1845, Lord John Russell was trying to form an administration. The crisis was one of the most exciting that has occurred in modern politics. On the 22nd of November, Lord John Russell had written the celebrated Edinburgh Letter to the citizens of London, declaring that it was no longer of any use to contend for a fixed duty on corn, and unreservedly declaring for Free Trade. On the 4th of December, ‘The Times’ declared that the Government of Sir Robert Peel, following Lord John Russell’s lead, had determined to repeal the Corn Laws. ‘The Standard,’ on the next day, denounced the statement as ‘an atrocious fabrication’; but it proved to be true. Sir R. Peel had announced his conversion and resigned. On the 8th, Lord John Russell was sent for by the Queen. He was at Edinburgh, and only reached Osborne on the 11th. He had determined not to attempt the formation of a Ministry, but, assured of Sir R. Peel’s support, he undertook the task. Two men

muddy and their toilettes the opposite of fresh. After making every allowance for this drawback, however, his dinners were justly reckoned amongst the pleasantest in town.’—The Edinburgh Review, July 1856, p. 106.

seemed to him to be needful to his success, Lord Grey and
Lord Palmerston. Lord Grey, in perfect consistency with his principles, declined to sit in a Cabinet in which Lord Palmerston was Foreign Secretary, and Lord John Russell felt it his duty to state that owing to this refusal he had found it impossible to form a Government. The Whigs were greatly disappointed and annoyed, and went about declaring ‘Lord Grey has done it all.’ But there were many of the Whigs themselves who approved of Lord Grey’s conduct, and Rogers was one of them. In the midst of the storm of unpopularity which Lord Grey had called down upon himself, Rogers wrote him a letter expressing full approval of his action. Lord Grey replied by return of post.

Earl Grey to Samuel Rogers.
‘Howick: 31st Dec., 1845.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—I am exceedingly obliged to you for your very kind note, which I have received this evening. I cannot tell you how great a satisfaction it is to me to find that amidst the general censure which I have drawn down upon myself by doing what was very painful to me, but what I believed to be my duty, I am supported by the approbation of a person for whose judgment I have so much respect and on whose good opinion I set so high a value.

‘Believe me, yours most truly,

Lord Palmerston’s name occurs but rarely in these volumes. He was not liked by the Whigs, who regarded
his foreign policy as showy, demonstrative, and dangerous. There was no intimacy between him and the oracle of the Holland House circle. But times were changing, though
Rogers was too old to change with them.

There is not much to record in the next few years. An old man’s life goes softly down the hill. Great as may be his interest in passing events, he has no very active share in them, and much as he may be concerned in the doings of his friends, he looks on them as a spectator who has done his part and only waits for the end. As an octogenarian, Rogers kept up his correspondence with remarkable energy, and went on his rounds of autumn visits and made his usual journeys to Broadstairs, taking Canterbury by the way. At Canterbury it was his habit to step quietly into the cathedral to enjoy the music. One year he was recognised by the clergyman who was conducting the service, and a verger was sent to him to ask what anthem he would like. Year after year as he passed through the city and went to the cathedral the same attention was paid him.

We have already seen from one of Dickens’s letters that he was often with Rogers at Broadstairs, and his great conversational powers made him a most welcome companion. Dickens’s high spirits, his genial humour, his kindness, and the chivalrous respect with which he treated a man so much older than himself, were exceedingly pleasant to the old poet, and there could scarcely be a greater contrast than the two men ‘out on those airy walks at Broadstairs,’ where Dickens most desired to live in his memory. Dickens and his wife were in Switzerland in the summer of 1846 and did not forget their aged
friend at Broadstairs. There is an amusing postscript, written by Charles Dickens, on the flysheet of a letter from
Mrs. Dickens to Rogers. The rest of the letter has been lost. On the top of the leaf are the words, in Mrs. Dickens’s writing, ‘dear Mr. Rogers, very affectionately yours, Catherine Dickens;’ and on the other side is the address, with a post-mark showing that it was posted at Lausanne on the 27th of August, 1846. Under his wife’s signature Dickens writes—

‘I cannot let this go to you, although the man is waiting to carry it off to the post, without adding for myself that I hope you won’t forget us, and that when you are out on those airy walks at Broadstairs, I desire most to live in your memory. Let us promise and vow (God willing) to have tea there together again one windy night next autumn, when you will go home to Ballard’s afterwards all aslant against the gale, and when that dimmest of lamps at the corner will be winking and winking as if the spray inflamed its eye. The wind is blowing down the lake now, driving fast shadows before it along the sides of the mountains; but it don’t blow half as pleasantly, to my thinking, as over the North Foreland, or about that good old tarry, salt little pier. There’s a Berne woman in the garden with a large stomacher and a gaudy cap; but she’s nothing to Miss Crampton of the Terrace Baths. Wherever I am, I am always your affectionate friend, and shall always think it the best return in the world if you’ll believe me so—though you do (in speaking to her) always call me


Mr. Greville tells us that he went to Panshanger in September to meet Rogers, Milne, Morpeth, W. Cowper, Lady Sandwich, and some others, ‘pleasant enough.’

Some letters from the United States show how energetically the old man kept up his correspondence.

Edward Everett to Samuel Rogers.
‘Cambridge, U.S.A.: 14th Sept., 1846.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—I received with great gratitude your kind and affectionate note of the 2nd of last November. Since then, I have been delighted to hear several times of your health through Dr. Holland, who is so good as to write to me frequently. We are all as well as usual. My eldest son, whom you hardly recollect (he was at King’s College School in London), has entered the college here, rather young, but he lives under my own roof. Little Willie, whom you honoured with your notice, continues to shew great precocity. I have not seen your friend Webster lately. He runs off to his farm as soon as Congress adjourns. He is quite well; but there is no hope of his returning to office—I do not say power, for office gives little power in any representative government, and least of all in ours. Prescott is finishing the “Conquest of Peru,” a pendant to “Mexico.” Sumner delivered a very brilliant address the other day before one of our literary societies, consisting of a eulogy on Mr. John Pickering (our most eminent philologist), Judge Story, Mr. Allston, and Dr. Channing, a performance of great beauty and power, of which I will send you a copy as soon as it is printed.

‘We are all delighted with the settlement of Oregon,
and praying soon for peace with Mexico.
Mr. Bancroft—our historian—succeeds Mr. M’Lane at your Court. He has great talent, learning, and general cleverness, and a very charming wife.

‘Pray do not forget us; for we all hold you in the most affectionate recollection.

‘Your sincere and grateful friend,
Edward Everett.

‘Pray give our kindest remembrances to Miss Rogers.’

Mr. Bancroft, of course, presented himself very soon after his arrival, bringing an introduction from Charles Sumner in his hand.

Charles Summer to Samuel Rogers.
‘Boston: 5th Oct., 1846.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—Remembering with gratitude your many kindnesses to me, and your last little note, which was full of goodness, I venture again to appear before you by my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft. The historian of the United States, and its Minister at the English Court, can require no word of introduction from me. His genius and amiability will enhance the recommendation of his station and his works. In Mrs. Bancroft you will find a willing and graceful listener, and one of the pleasantest examples of American womanhood.

‘With hopes for your constant health and happiness, believe me, dear Mr. Rogers, ever sincerely yours,

Charles Sumner.’

Another letter from the United States brought a request for his portrait to be painted by an American artist.

Edward Everett to Samuel Rogers.
‘Cambridge: 20th Nov., 1846.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—I write you this letter at the request of an esteemed countryman and friend of mine, Mr. Chester Harding, who is one of our most distinguished portrait painters. Some years ago he was in London and painted the Duke of Sussex with great success. He wishes now to paint one or two persons whose portraits at the annual exhibition of the Academy would, if successful, bring him favourably before the public. He has enlisted my selfishness in his cause, by promising me the portraits after they have been exhibited. I have given him a letter for this purpose to Lord Aberdeen, and to no other person besides yourself.

‘I am, of course, aware, as is Mr. Harding, of the immense inconvenience to you of sitting for your portrait, and I assure you that neither on his own account nor my own shall I be either surprised or hurt if you promptly decline.

‘The only inducement I can hold out to you, in addition to those motives which your kind-heartedness will suggest, is that of rendering me, individually, an inestimable favour, and then the consideration that you will put it into my power to enrich my countrymen with a portrait of one whose name and fame they are spreading through the continent of America. I suppose there is no painting of you in the United States. Are we not
entitled to as much of your personality as can be transferred to the canvas?

‘I am sorry to hear that Miss Rogers’s health has not been very good of late. Pray, when you see her, remember us all most kindly to her.

‘I hope there is foundation for the report in the newspapers that the plunder of your bank is to be restored. Happy the man to whom the loss and the restoration of such a sum are of so little consequence.

‘Believe me ever, my dear Mr. Rogers, with sincere affection, faithfully yours,

Edward Everett.’

The portrait was painted, and it hung for years in Mr. Everett’s dining-room. On his death it was given to Mr. Sidney Brooks, who left it to Dr. William Everett, by whom, early in 1884, it was presented to the President and Fellows of Harvard College, by whom it has been hung in their beautiful Memorial Hall. There could be no more appropriate place for the portrait of an Englishman whose father put on mourning for the slaughter at Lexington, who himself sheltered Priestley on his last night in England, who sympathised with the United States in all their struggles for freedom, and at whose house, for fifty years, all the chief visitors from America to England found cordial welcome to the best society London could give.

In a letter of Crabb Robinson’s is an account of the introduction of Mrs. Norton to a dinner party at Rogers’s. It was a party of eight: Moxon the publisher, Kenney the dramatist, Spedding, Lushington, Tennyson, and
Crabb Robinson; the eighth was a lady coming, Rogers said, to see Tennyson. But the mysterious visitor did not come, and the seven wise men had to begin dinner without her. When the meal was half over, Rogers was called out of the room, and returned with a lady, neither splendidly dressed nor strikingly beautiful, as it seemed to Crabb Robinson. After a while it came out who she was, and Robinson rebukes himself for not distinguishing her beauty and grace by his own discernment. For ten years her domestic troubles had been matter for public discussion, and there was universal sympathy with her under the persecutions she endured from a weak and jealous husband. Rogers had stood by her as an older friend and the friend of her grandfather. On the first day of the trial in the ridiculous suit her husband had brought against her and
Lord Melbourne, he had accompanied her into court. In after years she had been frequently at his house, and had on numerous occasions expressed the warmest gratitude to him for hi» kindness to herself and to her boys. None of her letters have any dates, but the period at which some of them were written is indicated in their subject matter. I have thought it best, therefore, to group them all together. One day she writes to apologise for staying away from breakfast. ‘I cannot stand,’ she says, ‘till my headache goes off in the morning, nor can I come out to breakfast hiding my face in my hands from pain. You do not believe a word of it—but that is only because you have no headache yourself.’ The signature is a pen-and-ink sketch of a lady kneeling down to an empty easy chair, with the words, ‘Adieu—I make my vain submission to your foot-
stool for the chance of pardon.’ Another time she writes a brief note, which she signs ‘Yours dutifully, the Author of “Fugitive Pieces,”’ with the postscript, ‘Ah ! little did I think you would have sacrificed me, your friend, for a bon mot. All night their paper ghosts have bowed to me, saying, “We are ‘Fugitive Pieces’; we are ‘Fugitive Pieces.’” In March, 1845, she sends ‘
The Child of the Islands,’ and her letter begins, ‘I send you a book, the book, my book. I know you will not read it, but peep into it for the sake of the writer. I have marked two episodes the death of a gipsy girl in prison, and the description of a ballet-dancer. . . . Don’t lend it to anybody, because I depend on it for some bread and butter.’ There is a postscript: ‘A friend of mine, interrupting me, declares I have not marked the best passages, and has marked one of his own selecting; you may play at pitch-and-toss to decide which you may read; only remember, England expects that every man will do some portion of his duty’—the last sentence written on a scroll flying from a mast. In another note she says, ‘I have come up from Eton to dine with you, having gone down in a great hurry to my sick boy just as your note arrived, which note has been torn from me as an autograph, besides my having to bear the insult of being asked if I was sure it was your writing, and not a secretary’s being “so very beautiful.” I shall struggle for its return, being signed Ruggiero (I presume by an Italian Secretary).’

There are two letters, however, which were written at a period of great trouble, which show her character and the relation in which she stood to her grandfather’s friend in a very striking way. The letters tell their own story—

Mrs. Norton to Samuel Rogers.
‘Mr. Charlesworth’s, Chapel Thorpe: Tuesday.
[13th September, 1842.]

‘Dearest Mr. Rogers,—Thank you for your letter to my boy—he asked leave to write to some who would be “really sorry” and I gave him your name and my sister Georgiana’s.1

‘I still feel stunned by this sudden blow. The accident happened here, and I have been sheltered here ever since, and do not leave till Thursday, when my fair young thing will be laid in the grave. The room here, where he died (and which was the first I entered)—the room where there was so much hurry and agony, and then such dismal silence and darkness—is empty and open again, and the little decorated coffin is lying at his father’s house (about two miles off)—alone; for Mr. Norton is gone to Lord Grantley’s (Grantley Hall) till to-morrow, which is fixed for the funeral.2

‘He died conscious—he prayed, and asked Norton to pray; he asked for me twice; he did not fear to die, and he bore the dreadful spasms of pain with a degree of courage which the doctor says he has rarely seen in so young a child. He had every attention and kindness which could be shown, and every comfort which was needed. He was kept here, not at first from any apprehension of danger, but because in his father’s house

1 Jane Georgiana, the youngest sister of Mrs. Norton, was Queen of Beauty at the Eglintoun tournament in 1839. She married, on the 10th of June, 1830, Lord Seymour, afterwards twelfth Duke of Somerset. She died on the 14th of December, 1884.

2 Mrs. Norton’s third son, William Charles Chapple, was born on the a6th of August, 1833, and died on the 12th of September, 1842.

there is no attendance—nothing but an old woman who opens the gate! It may be sinful to think bitterly at such a time; and at least, I have not uttered the thoughts of my heart; I have choked them back, to spare pain to one who never spared it to me! But it is not in the strength of human nature not to think, “this might not have happened had I watched over them!”—or not I!—put me, put their mother on one side—make a cypher of me, who nursed and bore him. Half what is now lavishly expended in ceremony and decoration of the coffin which contains the senseless clay of my little lost one, would have paid some steady manservant to be in constant attendance on their hours of recreation. My poor little spirited creature was too young to rough it alone, as he was left to do—and this is the end of it! When I first came down, Mr. Norton was in bitter distress, and he comforted me with promises for the other boys—for those that remain. But his impressions are so weak and so wavering that I only tremble. Oh! it is a hard thing that I and my boys—that so many hearts should be in the absolute power of one who has no heart. In a few days all will be as if it had not been, to him! Already there is a change—already he thinks less of the anguish which made me almost kneel for the boy (Brinsley) who is with me, than of the doubt whether that does not, in some way, cancel his authority. I have had hard words to bear, even now, but I am too miserable to shrink from them. He was better before
Grantley came down.

‘Meanwhile he has at least allowed me to take Brin with me to London for a few days before they return to
school—and my eldest will also join me for a day or two. They return on Saturday the 1st.

‘If you are in town, I will ask you to let my boy come to you some one morning: he is very eager about it. Poor little fellow! he thinks, having seen his father and me weeping together, all is once more peace and home. He made me write out a list of his relations, and of Brinsley and Georgie’s children. He is full of eager anticipation to make friends of all that belong to me. He was dreadfully overcome at first, and had an hysteric fit when he saw his brother dead; but at his age (eleven next November), and with his buoyant temper, sorrow must be very temporary. My other boy’s forethought, tenderness, and precocious good sense will, if God spares him, be the blessing of my life. He understands, by intuition, all I feel, and all that ought to be. He soothes his father, and watches me as if I, not he, was the helpless one; and God knows I am helpless! but my child is out of the storm—he is in heaven: too young to have offended, he is with those whose “angels do always behold the face of our Father”!

‘I will write to you again; good and kind you have always been to me—God bless you. I shall have left this on Thursday morning.

‘Your affectionate
Caroline Norton.’
Mrs. Norton to Samuel Rogers.
‘Saturday, 8th Oct. [1842].

‘Dear old Friend,—My boys are gone back to school: the eldest only yesterday; as, after the funeral, he
became very unwell, and so continued for some days. And now I want to leave this home for a little, and come where I hope you still are. You kindly wrote to offer to take me rooms—will you do so? Like Gilpin’s well-judging wife, I would have a reasonable eye to economy—but as it is for a short time—three weeks or less—and I am sick and sad, I would rather be at the hotel than have the trouble of even a small house. If I could have a very airy, double-bedded room, and a little sitting-room, my maid and I would require nothing more in the way of lodging. Then, if you would tell the landlady to charge board per week, and give me what she pleases—promising that I never want and never eat “pies, cates, and dainties”—but really only a morsel of meat and potatoes—it would be a very agreeable arrangement to me, as I should be spared all thought, just now, and live like a lily of the field—or a weed of the cliff.

‘There is a business-like beginning, like the poetess who desired to borrow of you.

‘My boys are nice creatures—intelligent, free-spirited, and true; they are so happy at being re-knit to me, that I can scarcely think of it without weeping. Little Brin 1 is brimful of gratitude and love to all who ever loved or were kind to me. He made me walk down to your house, and we stood outside the little iron gate which has so often admitted me for pleasant mornings, for some time, talking of the nightingales, and Milton’s receipt for “Paradise Lost,” and all the treasures in your shut-up house. The elder is quieter, more thoughtful, less spirited, but seems like an angel to me—and his whole care is to keep watch

1 Thomas Brinsley, her second son, born 4th of November, 1831; died 1st of August, 1854.

over his father’s kindness, that it may not flicker or go out for me.

Mr. Norton has a very great love for them I do believe: more than I thought or expected: and young as my eldest boy is, he is allowed the greatest influence over his father’s mind—and uses it with a tenderness and tact very unusual at his age. I think and hope that we shall now be very friendly together, even if we continue apart. Mr. Norton went to the school to desire they would consider me equal with himself and not to be further controlled as to seeing them; to come and go on my own direction. You may believe I have no greater anxiety than to satisfy him now, and prove to him, poor fellow, that it will answer better to allow this peace to fall upon us, than the long warfare did, which is ended. He is very sorry for his little one: and very proud of these two.

‘I have sent a letter of Erin’s to his uncle Brinsley, which I will show you, as I think it very touching—and, indeed, it would be good reading for such men as in anger resolve to break the tie of mother and child. In it he says, “I think I would die of grief if I were parted from you again, you can’t think how changed I am. I love you and my brother ten times more than I used to do—I love you, Papa, and Spencer, beyond anything or person I ever did before.” In the earnestness of his child’s heart—loving all better than ever, for being again in his natural position towards his mother—lies a lesson which, though simply given, is full of truth. I cannot tell you how his letter touched me; I think I feel as he does, that I love everyone better since I received his dear scrawl of affectionate writing.


‘I hope you are well and that you will be a Broadstairs when you get this, and when I arrive. The Phippses are gone to Ramsgate on account of the child who has been ailing.

‘If I can have one room looking on the sea, of course I should prefer it, and as it is so late in the season perhaps this may be accomplished. My boys will be with me again at Christmas, and then you will let me bring them to you.

‘Yours affectionately,
‘Caroline Norton.

‘I have not had one moment to write while they were with me.’

To these letters I may add the following lines by the same writer—

To Samuel Rogers.
Who can forget, who at thy social board
Hath sat and seen the pictures richly stored
In all their tints of glory and of gloom,
Brightening the precincts of thy quiet room?
With busts and statues full of that deep grace
Which modern hands have lost the skill to trace:
Fragments of beauty, perfect as thy song
On that sweet land to which they did belong.
The exact and classic taste by thee displayed
Not with a rich man’s idle, fond, parade;
Not with the pomp of some vain connoisseur,
Proud of his bargains, of his judgment sure,
But with the feeling kind and sad of one
Who through far countries wandering hath gone,
And brought away dear keepsakes to remind
His heart and home of all he has left behind.

There are various short notes from Lord Brougham, which are all without date, and no means of tracing the dates remains. One describes where Brougham is: ‘It lies in Westmorland, distant from Penrith station one mile and a quarter. The journey is nine hours and a half. We send the carriage for you, and dine wholesomely at half-past six. The Douros come to us on the 15th; the Jerseys on the 17th, all on their way to Scotland. But Luttrell I expect later. Now, mind you come. Lady Malet is to arrive on the 10th or 11th of September.’ Another is evidently an apologetic refusal of some favour Rogers had asked for a friend. Others are pressing invitations or brief references to books about which Rogers and Brougham had talked, or apologies for postponing visits. They are all, however, written with the same fulness of affectionate regard which appears in the remarkable series of Lord Brougham’s letters in a succeeding chapter.

Two other of his letters, without dates, may be added here.

Lord Brougham to Samuel Rogers.
‘Grafton Street: Thursday.

‘My dear R.,—I sent to ask you to join a very small party to dinner, but you are out of town.

‘I also want to do an act of mere and strict justice in thanking you for the gratification you afforded me a few weeks ago while at Cannes. In the solitude of one of my evenings (for the sun even there only shines in the day) I read once more your charming poems; and I never was more certain than that I discovered many new and great
beauties, and that your future fame will eclipse your past. Pray, who is the friend to whom your exquisite “
epistle” is addressed? I always supposed it to be Sharp. I had some doubts on reading it lately.

‘When do you come? I am now without my green shade, but am still rather lame from the folly of travelling three nights consecutively last October.

‘Yours ever sincerely,
H. Brougham.

Lady Malet is with us, and desires her kindest regards.’

Lord Brougham to Samuel Rogers.
‘Berkeley Square: Sunday.

‘My dear Rogers,—Allow me to give you a very trifling present, of little or no value in any sense, unless that it is valuable to me by affording an opportunity of expressing my admiration of the truly independent habits of thinking and feeling which a long intercourse with the aristocracy (the subject in part of this speech) has never for a moment impaired. Were I to say all I think on this matter, my good friends the Whigs, who have now discovered (a thing quite unsuspected by myself) that I have all my life been a flatterer of princes, might suspect me of flattering poets—a much lighter offence however, in my eyes.

‘Believe me, very sincerely yours,
H. Brougham.’

It is not inappropriate to introduce here some letters from Mr. Ruskin to Rogers, which, though spreading
over several years, have a kind of unity which suggests the placing them together. In the first volume of ‘
Praeterita,’ Mr. Ruskin tells of the birthday gift in 1832, his thirteenth birthday, by his father’s partner, Mr. Henry Telford, of Rogers’s ‘Italy,’ which he says ‘determined the main tenor of my life.’ He tells us too of his first visit to Rogers, and speaks of it ‘as a sacred Eleusinian1 initiation and Delphic pilgrimage.’ He was taken by Thomas Pringle, the poet, ‘who was on terms of polite correspondence with Wordsworth and Rogers.’ Mr. Ruskin says, ‘The old man, previously warned of my admissible claims, in Mr. Pringle’s sight, to the beatitude of such introduction, was sufficiently gracious to me, though the cultivation of budding genius was never held by Mr. Rogers to be an industry altogether delectable to genius in its zenith.’ He was unfortunate he thinks in his observations, and after they had taken leave Mr. Pringle advised him to listen more in future. On this advice Mr. Ruskin appears to have acted, for he had further invitations, and his letters show in what intimate relations to Rogers he ultimately stood.

Mr. Ruskin to Samuel Rogers.
‘Denmark Hill, Camberwell: 4th May.

‘My dear Mr. Rogers,—I cannot tell you how much pleasure you gave yesterday . . . yet, to such extravagance men’s thoughts can reach, I do not think I can be quite happy unless you permit me to express my sense of your kindness, to you here under my father’s roof. Alas, we have not even the upland lawn, far less the cliff with

1 Præterita, vol. i., p. 150.

foliage hung, or wizard stream;1 but we have the spring around us, we have a field all over daisies, and chestnuts all over spires of white, and a sky all over blue. Will you not come some afternoon, and stay and dine with us? I do think it would give you pleasure to see how happy my father would be, and to feel, for I am sure you would feel, how truly and entirely we both honour you with the best part of our hearts, such as it is. And for the rest, I am not afraid, even after so late a visit to St. James’s Place, to show you one or two of our
Turners, and I have some Daguerreotypes of your dear, fair Florence, which have in them all but the cicadas among the olive leaves—yes, and some of the deep sea too, “in the broad, the narrow streets,” which are as much verity as the verity of it is a dream. Will you not come? I have no farther plea, though I feel sadly inclined to vain repetition. Do come, and I will thank you better than I can beg of you.

‘Ever, my dear Mr. Rogers, believe me, yours gratefully and respectfully,

J. Ruskin.’
Mr. Ruskin to Samuel Rogers.

‘My dear Sir,—You must not think that my not having called since the delightful morning I passed at your house, is owing to want either of gratitude or respect. Had I felt less of either, I might have attempted to trouble you oftener.

‘Its upland-lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung,
Its wizard-stream, nor nameless, nor unsung.’
An Epistle to a Friend, lines 33, 34.

‘Yet I wished to see you to-day, both because I shall not have another opportunity of paying my respects to you until I return from Italy, and because I thought it possible you might devise some means of making me useful to you there. I shall, of course, take an early opportunity of waiting on you when I return, but I fear it will be so late in the season that I cannot hope to see you again until next year.

‘I cannot set off for Italy without thanking you again and again for all that, before I knew you, I had learned from you, and you know not how much (of that little I know) it is, and for all that you first taught me to feel in the places I am going to. Believe me, therefore, ever as gratefully as respectfully yours,

J. Ruskin.’
Mr. Ruskin to Samuel Rogers.
‘Venice: 23rd June.

‘Dear Mr. Rogers,—What must you have thought of me, after your kind answer to my request to be permitted to write to you, when I never wrote? . . . I was out of health and out of heart when I first got here. There came much painful news from home, and then such a determined course of bad weather, and every other kind of annoyance, that I never was in a temper fit to write to any one; the worst of it was that I lost all feeling of Venice, and this was the reason both of my not writing to you and of my thinking of you so often. For whenever I found myself getting utterly hard and indifferent, I used to read over a little bit of the “Venice” in the “Italy,” and it put me always
into the right tone of thought again, and for this I cannot be enough grateful to you. For though I believe that in the summer, when Venice is indeed lovely, when pomegranate blossoms hang over every garden wall, and green sunlight shoots through every wave, custom will not destroy or even weaken the impression conveyed at first, it is far otherwise in the length and bitterness of the Venetian winters. Fighting with frosty winds at every turn of the canals takes away all the old feelings of peace and stillness; the protracted cold makes the dash of the water on the walls a sound of simple discomfort, and some wild and dark day in February one starts to find oneself actually balancing in one’s mind the relative advantages of land and water carriage, comparing the canal with Piccadilly, and even hesitating whether for the rest of one’s life one would rather have a gondola within call or a hansom. When I used to get into this humour I always had recourse to those lines of yours,
The Sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,
Ebbing and flowing,1 etc.
and they did me good service for many a day; but at last came a time when the sea was not in the narrow streets, and was always ebbing and not flowing; and one day, when I found just a foot and a half of muddy
1 There is a glorious City in the Sea;
The Sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,
Ebbing and flowing, and the salt sea-weed
Clings to the marble of her palaces.
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,
Lead to her gates. The path lies o’er the Sea,
Invisible; and from the land we went,
As to a floating City—steering in,
water left under the Bridge of Sighs, and ran aground in the Grand Canal as I was going home, I was obliged to give the canals up. I have never recovered the feeling of them.

‘But St. Mark’s Place and St. Mark’s have held their own, and this is much to say, for both are grievously destroyed by inconsistent and painful associations—especially the great square, filled as it is with spiritless loungers, and a degenerate race of caterers for their amusement—the distant successors of the jugglers and tumblers of old times, now consisting chiefly of broken-down violin-players, and other refuse of the orchestra, ragged children who achieve revolutions upon their heads and hands and beg for broken biscuits among the eaters of ices—the crumbs from the rich man’s table—and exhibitors, not of puppet shows, for Venice is now too lazy to enjoy Punch, but of dramatic spectacles composed of figures pricked out in paper, and turned in a procession round a candle. Among which sources of entertainment the Venetians lounge away their evenings all the summer long, helped a little by the Austrian bands, which play for them, more or less every night, the music fitted to their taste, Verdi, and sets of waltzes. If Dante had seen these people, he would
And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
So smoothly, silently—by many a dome,
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,
The statues ranged along an azure sky,
By many a pile in more than Eastern pride,
Of old the residence of merchant-kings;
The fronts of some, though Time had shattered them,
Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
As though the wealth within them had run o’er.
Italy: ‘Venice,’ lines 1-17.
assuredly have added another scene to the “
Inferno”—a Venetian corner, with a central tower of St. Mark’s with red-hot stairs, up which the indolent Venetians would have been continually driven at full speed, and dropped from the parapet into a lagoon of hot café noir. Nor is the excitement of the lower classes less painful than the indolence of the upper on the days of drawing lottery tickets—days recurring but too often—and, as it seems, to me, deeply condemnatory of the financial and educational policy of the Government. These lotteries are, I think, the only thing in which the Austrian Government is inexcusably wrong; they deserve to be embarrassed in their finances when they adopt such means of taxation. I do not know a more melancholy sight than the fevered and yet habitually listless groups of the poorer population gathered in the porches of St. Mark’s, and clustered about its pillars, not for any religious service, but to wait for the declaration of the prize tickets from the loggia of Sansovino!

‘You will, however, rather wish I had never written to you from Venice at all, than written to give these accounts of it, but there is little else to give, and I fear that now there is but one period of beauty or of honour still remaining for her. Perhaps even this may be denied to her, and she may be gradually changed, by the destruction of old buildings and erection of new, into a modern town—a bad imitation of Paris. But if not, and the present indolence and ruinous dissipation of the people continue, there will come a time when the modern houses will be abandoned and destroyed, St. Mark’s Place will again be, what it was in the early ages, a green field, and the
front of the Ducal Palace and the marble shafts of St. Mark’s will be rooted in wild violets and wreathed with vines. She will be beautiful again then, and I could almost wish the time might come quickly, were it not that so many noble pictures must be destroyed first. These are what I fear I shall miss most when I come back to London, for I shall not now be within ten minutes’ drive of St. James’s Place, and I shall have no pictures of the great schools near me. Here it is an infinite privilege to be able to walk out in the morning and to pay a visit to
Titian, and, whenever the sun is too hot, to rest under a portico with Paul Veronese. I love Venetian pictures more and more, and wonder at them every day with greater wonder; compared with all other paintings they are so easy, so instinctive, so natural, everything that the men of other schools did by rule and called composition, done here by instinct and only called truth.

‘I don’t know when I have envied anybody more than I did the other day the directors and clerks of the Zecca. There they sit at inky deal desks, counting out rolls of money, and curiously weighing the irregular and battered coinage of which Venice boasts; and just over their heads, occupying the place which in a London counting-house would be occupied by the commercial almanack, a glorious Bonifazio—Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; and in a less honourable corner, three old directors of the Zecca, very mercantile-looking men indeed, counting money also, like the living ones, only a little more living, painted by Tintoret, not to speak of the scattered Palma Vecchios, and a lovely Benedetto Diana,
which no one ever looks at. I wonder when the European mind will again awake to the great fact that a noble picture was not painted to be hung, but to be seen. I only saw these by accident, having been detained in Venice by some obliging person, who abstracted some [property] . . . and brought me thereby into various relations with the respectable body of people who live at the wrong end of the Bridge of Sighs—the police, whom, in spite of traditions of terror, I would very willingly have changed for some of those their predecessors, whom you have honoured by a note in the “
Italy.” The present police appear to act on exactly contrary principles: yours found the purse and banished the loser; these don’t find the jewels, and won’t let me go away. I am afraid no punishment is appointed in Venetian law for people who steal time.

‘However, I hope now to be able to leave Venice on Monday next, and I do not intend to pause, except for rests, on my road home. I trust, therefore, to be in England about the 10th of next month, when I shall come to St. James’s Place the very first day I can get into London. At first I go home to my present house—close to my father’s—beyond Camberwell; I could not live any more in Park Street, with a dead brick wall opposite my windows. But I hope, with a few Turners on the walls, and a few roses in the garden, to be very happy near my father and mother, who will not, I think, after this absence of nearly a whole year, be able very soon to spare me again. So I must travel in Italy with you—who never lead me into any spot where I would not
be; and when I am overwearied with the lurid gloom of the London atmosphere, will you still let me come sometimes to St. James’s Place, to see the sweet colours of the south? . . .

‘Ever, dear Mr. Rogers, most affectionately and respectfully yours,

J. Ruskin.’