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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 26 April 1817

Life of Byron: to 1806
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Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“Foligno, April 26th, 1817.

“I wrote to you the other day from Florence, inclosing a MS. entitled ‘The Lament of Tasso.’ It was written in consequence of my having been lately at Ferrara. In the last section of this MS. but one (that is, the penultimate), I think that I have omitted a line in the copy sent to you from Florence, viz. after the line—
“And woo compassion to a blighted name,
“Sealing the sentence which my foes proclaim.
The context will show you the sense, which is not clear in this quotation.
106 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Remember, I write this in the supposition that you have received my Florentine packet.

“At Florence I remained but a day, having a hurry for Rome, to which I am thus far advanced. However, I went to the two galleries, from which one returns drunk with beauty. The Venus is more for admiration than love; but there are sculpture and painting, which for the first time at all gave me an idea of what people mean by their cant, and what Mr. Braham calls ‘entusimusy’ (i. e. enthusiasm) about those two most artificial of the arts. What struck me most were, the mistress of Raphael, a portrait; the mistress of Titian, a portrait; a Venus of Titian in the Medici gallery—the Venus; Canova’s Venus also, in the other gallery: Titian’s mistress is also in the other gallery (that is, in the Pitti Palace gallery): the Parcæ of Michael Angelo, a picture; and the Antinous, the Alexander, and one or two not very decent groups in marble; the Genius of Death, a sleeping figure, &c. &c.

“I also went to the Medici chapel—fine frippery in great slabs of various expensive stones, to commemorate fifty rotten and forgotten carcasses. It is unfinished, and will remain so.

“The church of ‘Santa Croce’ contains much illustrious nothing. The tombs of Machiavelli, Michael Angelo, Galileo Galilei, and Alfieri, make it the Westminster Abbey of Italy. I did not admire any of these tombs—beyond their contents. That of Alfieri is heavy, and all of them seem to me overloaded. What is necessary but a bust and name? and perhaps a date? the last for the unchronological, of whom I am one. But all your allegory and eulogy is infernal, and worse than the long wigs of English numskulls upon Roman bodies in the statuary of the reigns of Charles II., William, and Anne.

“When you write, write to Venice, as usual; I mean to return there in a fortnight. I shall not be in England for a long time. This afternoon I met Lord and Lady Jersey, and saw them for some time: all well; children grown and healthy; she very pretty, but sunburnt; he very sick of travelling; bound for Paris. There are not many English on the move, and those who are, mostly homewards. I shall not return till business makes me, being much better where I am in health, &c. &c.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 107

“For the sake of my personal comfort, I pray you send me immediately to Venice—mind, Venice—viz. Waites’ tooth-powder, red, a quantity; calcined magnesia, of the best quality, a quantity; and all this by safe, sure, and speedy means; and, by the Lord! do it.

“I have done nothing at Manfred’s Third Act. You must wait; I’ll have at it in a week or two, or so.

“Yours ever, &c.”