LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1820

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
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
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Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“January 2d, 1820.
“‘To-day it is my wedding-day,
And all the folks would stare
If wife should dine at Edmonton,
And I should dine at Ware.’

Or thus,

“Here’s a happy new year! but with reason
I beg you’ll permit me to say—
Wish me many returns of the season,
But as few as you please of the day.

“My this present writing is to direct you that, if she chooses, she may see the MS. Memoir in your possession. I wish her to have fair play, in all cases, even though it will not be published till after my decease. For this purpose, it were but just that Lady B. should know what is there said of her and hers, that she may have full power to
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 295
remark on or respond to any part or parts, as may seem fitting to herself. This is fair dealing, I presume, in all events.

“To change the subject, are you in England? I send you an epitaph for Castlereagh.

* * * * * * *

Another for Pitt

“With death doom’d to grapple
Beneath this cold slab, he
Who lied in the Chapel
Now lies in the Abbey.

The gods seem to have made me poetical this day—
“In digging up your bones, Tom Paine,
Will. Cobbet has done well:
You visit him on earth again,
He’ll visit you in hell.
You come to him on earth again,
He’ll go with you to hell.

“Pray let not these versiculi go forth with my name, except among the initiated, because my friend H. has foamed into a reformer, and, I greatly fear, will subside into Newgate; since the Honourable House, according to Galignani’s Reports of Parliamentary Debates, are menacing a prosecution to a pamphlet of his. I shall be very sorry to hear of any thing but good for him, particularly in these miserable squabbles; but these are the natural effects of taking a part in them.

“For my own part, I had a sad scene since you went. Count Gu. came for his wife, and none of those consequences which Scott prophesied ensued. There was no damages, as in England, and so Scott lost his wager. But there was a great scene, for she would not, at first, go back with him—at least, she did go back with him; but he insisted, reasonably enough, that all communication should be broken off between her and me. So, finding Italy very dull, and having a fever tertian, I packed up
296 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
my valise and prepared to cross the Alps; but my daughter fell ill, and detained me.

“After her arrival at Ravenna, the Guiccioli fell ill again too; and, at last, her father (who had, all along, opposed the liaison most violently till now) wrote to me to say that she was in such a state that he begged me to come and see her,—and that her husband had acquiesced, in consequence of her relapse, and that he (her father) would guarantee all this, and that there would be no farther scenes in consequence between them, and that I should not be compromised in any way. I set out soon after, and have been here ever since. I found her a good deal altered, but getting better:—all this comes of reading Corinna.

“The Carnival is about to begin, and I saw about two or three hundred people at the Marquis Cavalli’s the other evening, with as much youth, beauty, and diamonds among the women, as ever averaged in the like number. My appearance in waiting on the Guiccioli was considered as a thing of course. The marquis is her uncle, and naturally considered me as her relation.

“The paper is out, and so is the letter. Pray write. Address to Venice, whence the letters will be forwarded.

“Yours, &c.
“Ravenna, January 20th, 1820.

“I have not decided any thing about remaining at Ravenna. I may stay a day, a week, a year, all my life; but all this depends upon what I can neither see nor foresee. I came because I was called, and will go the moment that I perceive what may render my departure proper. My attachment has neither the blindness of the beginning, nor the microscopic accuracy of the close to such liaisons; but ‘time and the hour’ must decide upon what I do. I can as yet say nothing, because I hardly know any thing beyond what I have told you.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 297

“I wrote to you last post for my moveables, as there is no getting a lodging with a chair or table here ready; and as I have already some things of the sort at Bologna which I had last summer there for my daughter, I have directed them to be moved; and wish the like to be done with those of Venice, that I may at least get out of the ‘Albergo Imperiale,’ which is imperial in all true sense of the epithet. Buffini may be paid for his poison. I forgot to thank you and Mrs. Hoppner for a whole treasure of toys for Allegra before our departure; it was very kind, and we are very grateful.

“Your account of the weeding of the Governor’s party is very entertaining. If you do not understand the consular exceptions, I do; and it is right that a man of honour, and a woman of probity, should find it so, particularly in a place where there are not ‘ten righteous.’ As to nobility—in England none are strictly noble but peers, not even peers’ sons, though titled by courtesy; nor knights of the garter, unless of the peerage, so that Castlereagh himself would hardly pass through a foreign herald’s ordeal till the death of his father.

“The snow is a foot deep here. There is a theatre, and opera,—the Barber of Seville. Balls begin on Monday next. Pay the porter for never looking after the gate, and ship my chattels, and let me know, or let Castelli let me know, how my lawsuits go on—but fee him only in proportion to his success. Perhaps we may meet in the spring yet if you are for England. I see H * * has got into a scrape, which does not please me; he should not have gone so deep among those men, without calculating the consequences. I used to think myself the most imprudent of all among my friends and acquaintances, but almost begin to doubt it.

“Yours, &c.”
298 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
“Ravenna, January 31st, 1820.

“You would hardly have been troubled with the removal of my furniture, but there is none to be had nearer than Bologna, and I have been fain to have that of the rooms which I fitted up for my daughter there in the summer removed here. The expense will be at least as great of the land carriage, so that you see it was necessity, and not choice. Here they get every thing from Bologna except some lighter articles from Forli or Faenza.

“If Scott is returned, pray remember me to him, and plead laziness the whole and sole cause of my not replying—dreadful is the exertion of letter writing. The Carnival here is less boisterous, but we have balls and a theatre. I carried Bankes to both, and he carried away, I believe, a much more favourable impression of the society here than of that of Venice,—recollect that I speak of the native society only.

“I am drilling very hard to learn how to double a shawl, and should succeed to admiration if I did not always double it the wrong side out; and then I sometimes confuse and bring away two, so as to put all the Serventi out, besides keeping their Servite in the cold till every body can get back their property. But it is a dreadfully moral place, for you must not look at any body’s wife except your neighbour’s,—if you go to the next door but one, you are scolded, and presumed to be perfidious. And then a relazione or an amicizia seems to be a regular affair of from five to fifteen years, at which period, if there occur a widowhood, it finishes by a sposalizio; and in the mean time it has so many rules of its own that it is not much better. A man actually becomes a piece of female property,—they won’t let their Serventi marry until there is a vacancy for themselves. I know two instances of this in one family here.

“To-night there was a ———* Lottery after the opera; it is an

* The word here, being under the seal, is illegible.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 299
odd ceremony.
Bankes and I took tickets of it, and buffooned together very merrily. He is gone to Firenze. Mrs. J * * should have sent you my postscript; there was no occasion to have bored you in person. I never interfere in any body’s squabbles,—she may scratch your face herself.

“The weather here has been dreadful—snow several feet—a fiume broke down a bridge, and flooded heaven knows how many campi; then rain came—and it is still thawing—so that my saddle-horses have a sinecure till the roads become more practicable. Why did Lega give away the goat? a blockhead—I must have him again.

“Will you pay Missiaglia and the Buffo Buffini of the Gran Bretagna. I heard from Moore, who is at Paris; I had previously written to him in London, but he has not yet got my letter, apparently.

“Believe me &c.”
“Ravenna. February 7th, 1820.

“I have had no letter from you these two months; but since I came here in December, 1819, I sent you a letter for Moore, who is God knows where—in Paris or London, I presume. I have copied and cut the Third Canto of Don Juan into two, because it was too long; and I tell you this beforehand, because in case of any reckoning between you and me, these two are only to go for one, as this was the original form, and, in fact, the two together are not longer than one of the first: so remember that I have not made this division to double upon you; but merely to suppress some tediousness in the aspect of the thing. I should have served you a pretty trick if I had sent you, for example, cantos of 50 stanzas each.

“I am translating the First Canto of Pulci’s Morgante Maggiore, and have half done it; but these last days of the Carnival confuse and interrupt every thing.

“I have not yet sent off the Cantos, and have some doubt whether
300 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
they ought to be published, for they have not the spirit of the first. The outcry has not frightened but it has hurt me, and I have not written con amore this time. It is very decent, however, and as dull as ‘the last new comedy.’

“I think my translations of Pulci will make you stare. It must be put by the original, stanza for stanza, and verse for verse; and you will see what was permitted in a catholic country and a bigoted age to a churchman, on the score of religion;—and so tell those buffoons who accuse me of attacking the Liturgy.

“I write in the greatest haste, it being the hour of the Corso, and I must go and buffoon with the rest. My daughter Allegra is just gone with the Countess G. in Count G.’s coach and six, to join the cavalcade, and I must follow with all the rest of the Ravenna world. Our old Cardinal is dead, and the new one not appointed yet; but the masquing goes on the same, the vice-legate being a good governor. We have had hideous frost and snow, but all is mild again.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, February 19th, 1820.

“l have room for you in the house here, as I had in Venice, if you think fit to make use of it; but do not expect to find the same gorgeous suite of tapestried halls. Neither dangers nor tropical heats have ever prevented your penetrating wherever you had a mind to it, and why should the snow now?—Italian snow—fie on it!—so pray come. Tita’s heart yearns for you, and mayhap for your silver broad pieces; and your playfellow, the monkey, is alone and inconsolable.

“I forget whether you admire or tolerate red hair, so that I rather dread showing you all that I have about me and around me in this city. Come, nevertheless,—you can pay Dante a morning visit, and I will undertake that Theodore and Honoria will be most happy to see you in the forest hard by. We Goths, also, of Ravenna hope you will not
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 301
despise our arch-Goth, Theodoric. I must leave it to these worthies to entertain you all the fore part of the day, seeing that I have none at all myself—the lark, that rouses me from my slumbers, being an afternoon bird. But, then, all your evenings, and as much as you can give me of your nights, will be mine. Ay! and you will find me eating flesh, too, like yourself or any other cannibal, except it be upon Fridays. Then, there are more Cantos (and be d—d to them) of what the courteous reader, Mr. S——, calls Grub-street, in my drawer, which I have a little scheme to commit to your charge for England; only I must first cut up (or cut down) two aforesaid Cantos into three, because I am grown base and mercenary, and it is an ill precedent to let my Mecænas,
Murray, get too much for his money. I am busy, also, with Pulci—translating—servilely translating, stanza for stanza, and line for line—two octaves every night,—the same allowance as at Venice.

“Would you call at your banker’s at Bologna, and ask him for some letters lying there for me, and burn them?—or I will—so do not burn them, but bring them,—and believe me ever and very affectionately


“P.S. I have a particular wish to hear from yourself something about Cyprus, so pray recollect all that you can.—Good night.”

“Ravenna, Feb. 21st, 1820.

“The bull-dogs will be very agreeable. I have only those of this country, who, though good, have not the tenacity of tooth and stoicism in endurance of my canine fellow-citizens: then pray send them by the readiest conveyance—perhaps best by sea. Mr. Kinnaird will disburse for them, and deduct from the amount on your application or that of Captain Tyler.

“I see the good old King is gone to his place. One can’t help being sorry, though blindness, and age, and insanity, are supposed to be
302 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
drawbacks on human felicity; but I am not at all sure that the latter at least might not render him happier than any of his subjects.

“I have no thoughts of coming to the coronation, though I should like to see it, and though I have a right to be a puppet in it; but my division with Lady Byron, which has drawn an equinoctial line between me and mine in all other things, will operate in this also to prevent my being in the same procession.

“By Saturday’s post I sent you four packets, containing Cantos Third and Fourth. Recollect that these two cantos reckon only as one with you and me, being in fact the third canto cut into two, because I found it too long. Remember this, and don’t imagine that there could be any other motive. The whole is about 25 stanzas, more or less, and a lyric of 96 lines, so that they are no longer than the first single cantos: but the truth is, that I made the first too long, and should have cut those down also had I thought better. Instead of saying in future for so many cantos, say so many stanzas or pages: it was Jacob Tonson’s way, and certainly the best; it prevents mistakes. I might have sent you a dozen cantos of 40 stanzas each,—those of ‘The Minstrel’ (Beattie’s) are no longer,—and ruined you at once, if you don’t suffer as it is. But recollect that you are not pinned down to anything you say in a letter, and that, calculating even these two cantos as one only (which they were and are to be reckoned), you are not bound by your offer. Act as may seem fair to all parties.

“I have finished my translation of the First Canto of the ‘Morgante Maggiore’ of Pulci, which I will transcribe and send. It is the parent, not only of Whistlecraft, but of all jocose Italian poetry. You must print it side by side with the original Italian, because I wish the reader to judge of the fidelity: it is stanza for stanza, and often line for line, if not word for word.

“You ask me for a volume of manners, &c. on Italy. Perhaps I am in the case to know more of them than most Englishmen, because I have lived among the natives, and in parts of the country where Englishmen never resided before (I speak of Romagna and this place particularly); but there are many reasons why I do not choose to treat in print on such a subject. I have lived in their houses and in the heart of
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 303
their families, sometimes merely as ‘amico di casa,’ and sometimes as ‘amico di cuore’ of the Dama, and in neither case do I feel myself authorized in making a book of them. Their moral is not your moral; their life is not your life; you would not understand it: it is not English, nor French, nor German, which you would all understand. The conventual education, the cavalier servitude, the habits of thought and living are so entirely different, and the difference becomes so much more striking the more you live intimately with them, that I know not how to make you comprehend a people who are at once temperate and profligate, serious in their characters and buffoons in their amusements, capable of impressions and passions, which are at once sudden and durable (what you find in no other nation), and who actually have no society (what we would call so), as you may see by their comedies; they have no real comedy, not even in
Goldoni, and that is because they have no society to draw it from.

“Their conversazioni are not society at all. They go to the theatre to talk, and into company to hold their tongues. The women sit in a circle, and the men gather into groups, or they play at dreary faro, or ‘lotto reale,’ for small sums. Their academie are concerts like our own, with better music and more form. Their best things are the carnival balls and masquerades, when every body runs mad for six weeks. After their dinners and suppers they make extempore verses and buffoon one another; but it is in a humour which you would not enter into, ye of the north.

“In their houses it is better. I should know something of the matter, having had a pretty general experience among their women, from the fisherman’s wife up to the Nobil Dama, whom I serve. Their system has its rules, and its fitnesses, and its decorums, so as to be reduced to a kind of discipline or game at hearts, which admits few deviations, unless you wish to lose it. They are extremely tenacious, and jealous as furies, not permitting their lovers even to marry if they can help it, and keeping them always close to them in public as in private, whenever they can. In short, they transfer marriage to adultery, and strike the not out of that commandment. The reason is, that they marry for their parents and love for themselves. They exact
304 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
fidelity from a lover as a debt of honour, while they pay the husband as a tradesman, that is, not at all. You hear a person’s character, male or female, canvassed not as depending on their conduct to their husbands or wives, but to their mistress or lover. If I wrote a quarto, I don’t know that I could do more than amplify what I have here noted. It is to be observed that while they do all this, the greatest outward respect is to be paid to the husbands, not only by the ladies, but by their Serventi—particularly if the husband serves no one himself (which is not often the case, however); so that you would often suppose them relations—the Servente making the figure of one adopted into the family. Sometimes the ladies run a little restive and elope, or divide, or make a scene; but this is at starting, generally, when they know no better, or when they fall in love with a foreigner, or some such anomaly,—and is always reckoned unnecessary and extravagant.

“You inquire after Dante’s Prophecy: I have not done more than six hundred lines, but will vaticinate at leisure.

“Of the bust I know nothing. No cameos or seals are to be cut here or elsewhere that I know of, in any good style. Hobhouse should write himself to Thorwaldsen: the bust was made and paid for three years ago.

“Pray tell Mrs. Leigh to request Lady Byron to urge forward the transfer from the funds. I wrote to Lady Byron on business this post, addressed to the care of Mr. D. Kinnaird.”

“Ravenna, February 26th, 1820.

Pulci and I are waiting for you with impatience; but I suppose we must give way to the attraction of the Bolognese galleries for a time. I know nothing of pictures myself, and care almost as little; but to me there are none like the Venetian—above all, Giorgione. I remember well his Judgment of Solomon in the Mariscalchi in Bologna. The real mother is beautiful, exquisitely beautiful. Buy her, by all means, if you
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 305
can, and take her home with you: put her in safety for be assured there are troublous times brewing for Italy; and as I never could keep out of a row in my life, it will be my fate, I dare say, to be over head and ears in it; but no matter, these are the stronger reasons for coming to see me soon.

“I have more of Scott’s novels (for surely they are Scott’s) since we met, and am more and more delighted. I think that I even prefer them to his poetry, which (by the way) I redde for the first time in my life in your rooms in Trinity College.

“There are some curious commentaries on Dante preserved here, which you should see. Believe me ever, faithfully and most affectionately,

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, March 1st, 1820.

“I sent you by last post the translation of the First Canto of the Morgante Maggiore, and wish you to ask Rose about the word ‘sbergo,’ i. e. ‘usbergo,’ which I have translated cuirass. I suspect that it means helmet also. Now, if so, which of the senses is best accordant with the text? I have adopted cuirass, but will be amenable to reasons. Of the natives, some say one, and some t’ other; but they are no great Tuscans in Romagna. However, I will ask Sgricci (the famous improvisatore) to-morrow, who is a native of Arezzo. The Countess Guiccioli, who is reckoned a very cultivated young lady, and the dictionary, say cuirass. I have written cuirass, but helmet runs in my head nevertheless—and will run in verse very well, whilk is the principal point. I will ask the Sposa Spina Spinelli, too, the Florentine bride of Count Gabriel Rusponi, just imported from Florence, and get the sense out of somebody.

“I have just been visiting the new Cardinal, who arrived the day before yesterday in his legation. He seems a good old gentleman, pious
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and simple, and not quite like his predecessor, who was a bon-vivant, in the worldly sense of the words.

“Enclosed is a letter which I received some time ago from Dallas. It will explain itself. I have not answered it. This comes of doing people good. At one time or another (including copyrights) this person has had about fourteen hundred pounds of my money, and he writes what he calls a posthumous work about me, and a scrubby letter accusing me of treating him ill, when I never did any such thing. It is true that I left off letter-writing, as I have done with almost every body else; but I can’t see how that was misusing him.

“I look upon his epistle as the consequence of my not sending him another hundred pounds, which he wrote to me for about two years ago, and which I thought proper to withhold, he having had his share, methought, of what I could dispone upon others.

“In your last you ask me after my articles of domestic wants: I believe they are as usual: the bull-dogs, magnesia, soda-powders, tooth-powders, brushes, and every thing of the kind which are here unattainable. You still ask me to return to England: alas to what purpose? You do not know what you are requiring. Return, I must, probably, some day or other (if I live), sooner or later; but it will not be for pleasure, nor can it end in good. You inquire after my health and spirits in large letters: my health can’t be very bad, for I cured myself of a sharp tertian ague, in three weeks, with cold water, which had held my stoutest gondolier for months, notwithstanding all the bark of the apothecary,—a circumstance which surprised Dr. Aglietti, who said it was a proof of great stamina, particularly in so epidemic a season. I did it out of dislike to the taste of bark (which I can’t bear), and succeeded, contrary to the prophecies of every body, by simply taking nothing at all. As to spirits, they are unequal, now high, now low, like other people’s, I suppose, and depending upon circumstances.

“Pray send me W. Scott’s new novels. What are their names and characters? I read some of his former ones, at least once a day, for an hour or so. The last are too hurried: he forgets Ravenswood’s name, and calls him Edgar and then Norman; and Girder, the cooper, is styled
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 307
now Gilbert, and now John; and he don’t make enough of
Montrose; but Dalgetty is excellent, and so is Lucy Ashton, and the b—h her mother. What is Ivanhoe? and what do you call his other? are there two? Pray make him write at least two a year: I like no reading so well.

“The editor of the Bologna Telegraph has sent me a paper with extracts from Mr. Mulock’s (his name always reminds me of Muley Moloch of Morocco) ‘Atheism answered,’ in which there is a long eulogium of my poesy, and a great ‘compatimento’ for my misery. I never could understand what they mean by amusing me of irreglion. However, they may have it their own way. This gentleman seems to be my great admirer, so I take what he says in good part, as he evidently intends kindness, to which I can’t accuse myself of being invincible.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, March 5th, 1820.

“In case, in your country, you should not readily lay hands on the Morgante Maggiore, I send you the original text of the First Canto, to correspond with the translation which I sent you a few days ago. It is from the Naples edition in quarto of 1732,—dated Florence, however, by a trick of the trade, which you, as one of the allied sovereigns of the profession, will perfectly understand without any further spiegazione.

“It is strange that here nobody understands the real precise meaning of ‘sbergo,’ or ‘usbergo*,’ an old Tuscan word, which I have rendered cuirass (but am not sure it is not helmet). I have asked at least twenty people, learned and ignorant, male and female, including poets, and officers civil and military. The dictionary says cuirass, but gives no authority; and a female friend of mine says positively cuirass, which makes me doubt the fact still more than before. Ginguené says ‘bonnet de fer,’ with the usual superficial decision of a Frenchman, so that I

* It has been suggested to me that usbergo is obviously the same as hauberk, habergeon, &c all from the German hals-berg, or covering of the neck.

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can’t believe him: and what between the dictionary, the Italian woman, and the Frenchman, there’s no trusting to a word they say. The context too, which should decide, admits equally of either meaning, as you will perceive. Ask
Rose, Hobhouse, Merivale, and Foscolo, and vote with the majority. Is Frere a good Tuscan? if he be, bother him too. I have tried, you see, to be as accurate as I well could. This is my third or fourth letter, or packet, within the last twenty days.”

“Ravenna, March 14th, 1820.

“Enclosed is Dante’s Prophecy—Vision—or what not*. Where I have left more than one reading (which I have done often), you may adopt that which Gifford, Frere, Rose, and Hobhouse, and others of your Utican Senate think the best, or least bad. The preface will explain all that is explicable. These are but the four first cantos: if approved, I will go on.

“Pray mind in printing; and let some good Italian scholar correct the Italian quotations.

“Four days ago I was overturned in an open carriage between the river and a steep bank:—wheels dashed to pieces, slight bruises, narrow escape, and all that; but no harm done, though coachman, footman, horses, and vehicle, were all mixed together like macaroni. It was owing to bad driving, as I say; but the coachman swears to a start on the part of the horses. We went against a post on the verge of a steep bank, and capsized. I usually go out of the town in a carriage, and meet the saddle horses at the bridge; it was in going there that we boggled; but I got my ride, as usual, after the accident. They say here

* There were in this Poem, originally, three lines of remarkable strength and severity, which, as the Italian poet against whom they were directed was then living, were omitted in the publication. I shall here give them from memory.

“The prostitution of his Muse and wife,
Both beautiful, and both by him debased,
Shall salt him bread and give him means of life.”

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it was all owing to St. Antonio of Padua (serious, I assure you),—who does thirteen miracles a day,—that worse did not come of it. I have no objection to this being his fourteenth in the four-and-twenty hours. He presides over overturns and all escapes therefrom, it seems; and they dedicate pictures, &c. to him, as the sailors once did to Neptune, after ‘the high Roman fashion.’

“Yours, in haste.”
“Ravenna, March 20th, 1820.

“Last post I sent you ‘The Vision of Dante,’—four first Cantos. Enclosed you will find, line for line, in third rhyme (terza rima), of which your British blackguard reader as yet understands nothing, Fanny of Rimini. You know that she was born here, and married, and slain, from Cary, Boyd, and such people. I have done it into cramp English. line for line, and rhyme for rhyme, to try the possibility. You had best append it to the poems already sent by last three posts. I shall not allow you to play the tricks you did last year, with the prose you post-scribed to Mazeppa, which I sent to you not to be published, if not in a periodical paper,—and there you tacked it, without a word of explanation. If this is published, publish it with the original, and together with the Pulci translation, or the Dante imitation. I suppose you have both by now, and the Juan long before.

Translation from the Inferno of Dante, Canto 5th.

“‘The land where I was born sits by the seas,
Upon that shore to which the Po descends,
With all his followers, in search of peace.
Love, which the gentle heart soon apprehends,
Seized him for the fair person which was ta’en
From me, and me even yet the mode offends.
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Love, who to none beloved to love again
Remits, seized me with wish to please, so strong,
That, as thou seest, yet, yet it doth remain.
Love to one death conducted us along,
But Caina waits for him our life who ended:’
These were the accents utter’d by her tongue
Since first I listen’d to these souls offended,
I bow’d my visage and so kept it till—
‘What think’st thou?’ said the bard; { then | when } I unbended,
And recommenced: ‘Alas! unto such ill
How many sweet thoughts, what strong ecstasies
Led these their evil fortune to fulfil!’
And then I turn’d unto their side my eyes,
And said, ‘Francesca, thy sad destinies
Have made me sorrow till the tears arise.
But tell me, in the season of sweet sighs,
By what and how thy Love to Passion rose,
So as his dim desires to recognise?’
Then she to me: ‘The greatest of all woes
Is to { recall to mind | remind us of } our happy days
In misery, and { this | that } thy teacher knows.
But if to learn our passion’s first root preys
Upon thy spirit with such sympathy,
I will { relate | do* even } as he who weeps and says.—
We read one day for pastime, seated nigh,
Of Lancilot, how Love enchain’d him too.
We were alone, quite unsuspiciously,
But oft our eyes met, and our cheeks in hue
All o’er dlscolour’d by that reading were;
But one point only wholly { overthrew | us o’erthrew; }
When we read the { desired | long-sighed-for } smile of her,

* “In some of the editions, it is ‘diro,’ in others ‘faro;’—an essential difference between ‘saying’ and ‘doing,’ which I know not how to decide. Ask Foscolo. The d—d editions drive me mad.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 311
To be thus kiss’d by such { a fervent | devoted } lover,
He who from me can be divided ne’er
Kiss’d my mouth, trembling in the act all over.
Accursed was the book and he who wrote!
That day no further leaf we did uncover.—
While thus one Spirit told us of their lot,
The other wept, so that with pity’s thralls
I swoon’d as if by death I had been smote,
And fell down even as a dead body falls.’
“Ravenna, March 23d, 1820.

“I have received your letter of the 7th. Besides the four packets you have already received, I have sent the Pulci a few days after, and since (a few days ago) the four first Cantos of Dante’s Prophecy (the best thing I ever wrote, if it be not unintelligible), and by last post a literal translation, word for word (versed like the original), of the episode of Franeesca of Rimini. I want to hear what you think of the new Juans, and the translations, and the Vision. They are all things that are, or ought to be, very different from one another.

“If you choose to make a print from the Venetian, you may; but she don’t correspond at all to the character you mean her to represent. On the contrary, the Contessa G. does (except that she is fair), and is much prettier than the Fornarina; but I have no picture of her except a miniature, which is very ill done; and, besides, it would not be proper, on any account whatever, to make such a use of it, even if you had a copy.

“Recollect that the two new Cantos only count with us for one. You may put the Pulci and Dante together: perhaps that were best. So you have put your name to Juan, after all your panic. You are a rare fellow.—I must now put myself in a passion to continue my prose.

“Yours, &c.

“I have caused write to Thorwaldsen. Pray be careful in sending my daughter’s picture—I mean, that it be not hurt in the carriage, for it is a journey rather long and jolting.”

312 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
“Ravenna, March 28th, 1820.

“Enclosed is a ‘Screed of Doctrine’ for you, of which I will trouble you to acknowledge the receipt by next post. Mr. Hobhouse must have the correction of it for the press. You may show it first to whom you please.

“I wish to know what became of my two Epistles from St. Paul (translated from the Armenian three years ago and more), and of the letter to R—ts of last autumn, which you never have attended to? There are two packets with this.

“P.S. I have some thoughts of publishing the ‘Hints from Horace,’ written ten years ago*,—if Hobhouse can rummage them out of my papers left at his father’s,—with some omissions and alterations previously to be made when I see the proofs.”

“Ravenna, March 29th, 1820.

“Herewith you will receive a note (enclosed) on Pope, which you will find tally with a part of the text of last post. I have at last lost all patience with the atrocious cant and nonsense about Pope, with which our present * *s are overflowing, and am determined to make such head against it as an individual can, by prose or verse; and I will at least do it with good-will. There is no bearing it any longer; and if it goes on, it will destroy what little good writing or taste remains amongst us.

* When making the observations which occur in the early part of this work, on the singular preference given by the noble author to the ‘Hints from Horace,’ I was not aware of the revival of this strange predilection, which (as it appears from the above letter, and, still more strongly, from some that follow) took place so many years after, in the full maturity of his powers and taste. Such a delusion is hardly conceivable, and can only, perhaps, be accounted for by that tenaciousness of early opinions and impressions by which his mind, In other respects to versatile, was characterized.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 313
I hope there are still a few men of taste to second me; but if not, I’ll battle it alone, convinced that it is in the best cause of English literature.

“I have sent you so many packets, verse and prose, lately, that you will be tired of the postage, if not of the perusal. I want to answer some parts of your last letter, but I have not time, for I must ‘boot and saddle,’ as my Captain Craigengelt (an officer of the old Napoleon Italian army) is in waiting, and my groom and cattle to boot.

“You have given me a screed of metaphor and what not about Pulci, and manners, and ‘going without clothes, like our Saxon ancestors.’ Now, the Saxons did not go without clothes; and, in the next place, they are not my ancestors, nor yours either; for mine were Norman, and yours, I take it by your name, were Gael. And, in the next, I differ from you about the ‘refinement’ which has banished the comedies of Congreve. Are not the comedies of Sheridan acted to the thinnest houses? I know (as ex-committed) that ‘The School for Scandal’ was the worst stock piece upon record. I also know that Congreve gave up writing because Mrs. Centlivre’s balderdash drove his comedies off. So it is not decency, but stupidity, that does all this; for Sheridan is as decent a writer as need be, and Congreve no worse than Mrs. Centlivre, of whom Wilkes (the actor) said, ‘not only her play would be damned, but she too.’ He alluded to ‘A Bold Stroke for a Wife.’ But last, and most to the purpose, Pulci is not an indecent writer—at least in his first Canto, as you will have perceived by this time.

“You talk of refinement:—are you all more moral? are you so moral? No such thing. I know what the world is in England, by my own proper experience of the best of it—at least of the loftiest; and I have described it every where as it is to be found in all places.

“But to return. I should like to see the proofs of mine answer, because there will be something to omit or to alter. But pray let it be carefully printed. When convenient let me have an answer.

314 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
“Ravenna, March 31st, 1820.
* * * * * *

“Ravenna continues much the same as I described it. Conversazioni all Lent, and much better ones than any at Venice. There are small games at hazard, that is, faro, where nobody can point more than a shilling or two;—other card-tables, and as much talk and coffee as you please. Every body does and says what they please; and I do not recollect any disagreeable events, except being three times falsely accused of flirtation, and once being robbed of six sixpences by a nobleman of the city, a Count * * I did not suspect the illustrious delinquent; but the Countess V * * * and the Marquis L * * * told me of it directly, and also that it was a way he had, of filching money when he saw it before him; but I did not ax him for the cash, but contented myself with telling him that if he did it again, I should anticipate the law.

“There is to be a theatre in April, and a fair, and an opera, and another opera in June, besides the fine weather of nature’s giving, and the rides in the Forest of Pine. With my best respects to Mrs. Hoppner, believe me ever, &c.


“P.S. Could you give me an item of what books remain at Venice? I don’t want them, but want to know whether the few that are not here are there, and were not lost by the way. I hope and trust you have got all your wine safe, and that it is drinkable. Allegra is prettier, I think, but as obstinate as a mule, and as ravenous as a vulture: health good, to judge of the complexion—temper tolerable, but for vanity and pertinacity. She thinks herself handsome, and will do as she pleases.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 315
“Ravenna, April 9th, 1820.

“In the name of all the devils in the printing office, why don’t you write to acknowledge the receipt of the second, third, and fourth packets, viz. the Pulci translation and original, the Danticles, the Observations on, &c.? You forget that you keep me in hot water till I know whether they are arrived, or if I must have the bore of recopying.

* * * * * *

“Have you gotten the cream of translations, Francesca of Rimini, from the Inferno? Why, I have sent you a warehouse of trash within the last month, and you have no sort of feeling about you: a pastrycook would have had twice the gratitude, and thanked me at least for the quantity.

“To make the letter heavier, I enclose you the Cardinal Legate’s (our Campeius) circular for his conversazione this evening. It is the anniversary of the Pope’s tiara-tion, and all polite christians, even of the Lutheran creed, must go and be civil. And there will be a circle, and a faro-table (for shillings, that is, they don’t allow high play), and all the beauty, nobility, and sanctity of Ravenna present. The Cardinal himself is a very good-natured little fellow, bishop of Muda, and legate here,—a decent believer in all the doctrines of the church. He has kept his housekeeper these forty years * * * *; but is reckoned a pious man, and a moral liver.

“I am not quite sure that I won’t be among you this autumn, for I find that business don’t go on—what with trustees and lawyers—as it should do, ‘with all deliberate speed.’ They differ about investments in Ireland.
“Between the devil and deep sea,
Between the lawyer and trustee,
I am puzzled; and so much time is lost by my not being upon the spot, what with answers, demurs, rejoinders, that it may be I must come and
316 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
look to it; for one says do, and t’ other don’t, so that I know not which way to turn: but perhaps they can manage without me.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. I have begun a tragedy on the subject of Marino Faliero, the Doge of Venice; but you shan’t see it these six years, if you don’t acknowledge my packets with more quickness and precision. Always write, if but a line, by return of post, when any thing arrives, which is not a mere letter.

“Address direct to Ravenna; it saves a week’s time, and much postage.”

“Ravenna, April 16th, 1820.

“Post after post arrives without bringing any acknowledgment from you of the different packets (excepting the first) which I have sent within the last two months, all of which ought to be arrived long ere now; and as they were announced in other letters, you ought at least to say whether they are come or not. You are not expected to write frequent, or long letters, as your time is much occupied; but when parcels that have cost some pains in the composition, and great trouble in the copying, are sent to you, I should at least be put out of suspense, by the immediate acknowledgment, per return of post, addressed directly to Ravenna. I am naturally—knowing what continental posts are—anxious to hear that they are arrived; especially as I loathe the task of copying so much, that if there was a human being that could copy my blotted MSS., he should have all they can ever bring for his trouble. All I desire is two lines, to say, such a day I received such a packet. There are at least six unacknowledged. This is neither kind nor courteous.

“I have, besides, another reason for desiring you to be speedy, which is, that there is that brewing in Italy which will speedily cut off all security of communication, and set all your Anglo-travellers flying in every direction, with their usual fortitude in foreign tumults. The Spanish and French affairs have set the Italians in a ferment; and
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 317
no wonder: they have been too long trampled on. This will make a sad scene for your exquisite traveller, but not for the resident, who naturally wishes a people to redress itself. I shall, if permitted by the natives, remain to see what will come of it, and perhaps to take a turn with them, like Dugald Dalgetty and his horse, in case of business; for I shall think it by far the most interesting spectacle and moment in existence, to see the Italians send the barbarians of all nations back to their own dens. I have lived long enough among them to feel more for them as a nation than for any other people in existence. But they want union, and they want principle; and I doubt their success. However, they will try, probably, and if they do, it will be a good cause. No Italian can hate an Austrian more than I do: unless it be the English, the Austrians seem to me the most obnoxious race under the sky.

“But I doubt, if any thing be done, it won’t be so quietly as in Spain. To be sure, revolutions are not to be made with rose-water, where there are foreigners as masters.

“Write while you can; for it is but the toss up of a paul that there will not be a row that will somewhat retard the mail by and by.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, April 18th, 1820.

“I have caused write to Siri and Willhalm to send with Vincenza, in a boat, the camp-beds and swords left in their care when I quitted Venice. There are also several pounds of Manton’s best powder in a japan case; but unless I felt sure of getting it away from V. without seizure, I won’t have it ventured. I can get it in here, by means of an acquaintance in the customs, who has offered to get it ashore for me; but should like to be certiorated of its safety in leaving Venice. I would not lose it for its weight in gold—there is none such in Italy, as I take it to be.

“I wrote to you a week or so ago, and hope you are in good plight and spirits. Sir Humphry Davy is here, and was last night at the
318 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
Cardinal’s. As I had been there last Sunday, and yesterday was warm, I did not go, which I should have done, if I had thought of meeting the man of chemistry. He called this morning, and I shall go in search of him at Corso time. I believe to-day, being Monday, there is no great conversazione, and only the family one at the Marchese Cavalli’s, where I go as a relation sometimes, so that, unless he stays a day or two, we should hardly meet in public.

“The theatre is to open in May for the fair, if there is not a row in all Italy by that time,—the Spanish business has set them all a constitutioning, and what will be the end, no one knows—it is also necessary thereunto to have a beginning.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. My benediction to Mrs. Hoppner. How is your little boy? Allegra is growing, and has increased in good looks and obstinacy.”

“Ravenna, April 23d, 1820.

“The proofs don’t contain the last stanzas of Canto Second, but end abruptly with the 105th stanza.

“I told you long ago that the new Cantos† were not good, and I also told you a reason. Recollect, I do not oblige you to publish them; you may suppress them, if you like, but I can alter nothing. I have erased the six stanzas about those two impostors, * * * * (which I suppose will give you great pleasure), but I can do no more. I can neither recast, nor replace; but I give you leave to put it all into the fire, if you like, or not to publish, and I think that’s sufficient.

“I told you that I wrote on with no good-will—that I had been, not frightened, but hurt by the outcry, and, besides, that when I wrote last November, I was ill in body, and in very great distress of mind about some private things of my own; but you would have it: so I sent it to you, and to make it lighter, cut it in two—but I can’t piece it

† Of Don Juan.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 319
together again. I can’t cobble: I must ‘either make a spoon or spoil a horn,’—and there’s an end; for there’s no remeid: but I leave you free will to suppress the whole, if you like it.

“About the Morgante Maggiore, I won’t have a line omitted. It may circulate, or it may not; but all the criticism on earth sha’n’t touch a line, unless it be because it is badly translated. Now you say, and I say, and others say, that the translation is a good one; and so it shall go to press as it is. Pulci must answer for his own irreligion: I answer for the translation only.

* * * * * *

“Pray let Mr. Hobhouse look to the Italian next time in the proofs: this time, while I am scribbling to you, they are corrected by one who passes for the prettiest woman in Romagna, and even the Marches, as far as Ancona, be the other who she may.

“I am glad you like my answer to your inquiries about Italian society. It is fit you should like something, and be d—d to you.

“My love to Scott. I shall think higher of knighthood ever after for his being dubbed. By the way, he is the first poet titled for his talent in Britain: it has happened abroad before now; but on the continent titles are universal and worthless. Why don’t you send me Ivanhoe and the Monastery? I have never written to Sir Walter, for I know he has a thousand things, and I a thousand nothings, to do; but I hope to see him at Abbotsford before very long, and I will sweat his claret for him, though Italian abstemiousness has made my brain but a shilpit concern for a Scotch sitting ‘inter pocula.’ I love Scott, and Moore, and all the better brethren; but I hate and abhor that puddle of water-worms whom you have taken into your troop.

“Yours, &c.

P.S. You say that one-half is very good: you are wrong; for, if it were, it would be the finest poem in existence. Where is the poetry of which one-half is good? is it the Æneid? is it Milton’s? is it Dryden?’s is it any one’s except Pope’s and Goldsmith’s, of which all is good? and yet these two last are the poets your pond poets would explode. But if one-half of the two new Cantos be good in your
320 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
opinion, what the devil would you have more? No—no; no poetry is generally good—only by fits and starts—and you are lucky to get a sparkle here and there. You might as well want a midnight all stars as rhyme all perfect.

“We are on the verge of a row here. Last night they have overwritten all the city walls with ‘Up with the republic!’ and ‘Death to the Pope!’ &c. &c. This would be nothing in London, where the walls are privileged. But here it is a different thing: they are not used to such fierce political inscriptions, and the police is all on the alert, and the Cardinal glares pale through all his purple.

“April 24th, 1820, 8 o’clock p. m.

“The police have been, all noon and after, searching for the inscribers, but have caught none as yet. They must have been all night about it, for the ‘Live republics—Death to Popes and Priests,’ are innumerable, and plastered over all the palaces: ours has plenty. There is ‘Down with the Nobility,’ too; they are down enough already, for that matter. A very heavy rain and wind having come on, I did not go out and ‘skirr the country;’ but I shall mount to-morrow, and take a canter among the peasantry, who are a savage, resolute race, always riding with guns in their hands. I wonder they don’t suspect the serenaders, for they play on the guitar here all night, as in Spain, to their mistresses.

“Talking of politics, as Caleb Quotem says, pray look at the conclusion of my Ode on Waterloo, written in the year 1815, and, comparing it with the Duke de Berri’s catastrophe in 1820, tell me if I have not as good a right to the character of ‘Vates,’ in both senses of the word, as Fitzgerald and Coleridge?
‘Crimson tears will follow yet—’
and have not they?

“I can’t pretend to foresee what will happen among you Englishers at this distance, but I vaticinate a row in Italy; in whilk case, I don’t know that I won’t have a finger in it. I dislike the Austrians, and
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 321
think the Italians infamously oppressed; and if they begin, why, I will recommend ‘the erection of a sconce upon Drumanab,’ like Dugald Dalgetty.”

Ravenna, May 8th, 1820.

“From your not having written again, an intention which your letter of the 7th ultimo indicated, I have to presume that the ‘Prophecy of Dante’ has not been found more worthy than its predecessors in the eyes of your illustrious synod. In that case, you will be in some perplexity; to end which, I repeat to you, that you are not to consider yourself as bound or pledged to publish any thing because it is mine, but always to act according to your own views, or opinions, or those of your friends; and to be sure that you will in no degree offend me by ‘declining the article,’ to use a technical phrase. The prose observations on John Wilson’s attack, I do not intend for publication at this time; and I send a copy of verses to Mr. Kinnaird (they were written last year on crossing the Po) which must not be published either. I mention this, because it is probable he may give you a copy. Pray recollect this, as they are mere verses of society, and written upon private feelings and passions. And, moreover, I can’t consent to any mutilations or omissions of Pulci: the original has been ever free from such in Italy, the capital of Christianity, and the translation may be so in England; though you will think it strange that they should have allowed such freedom for many centuries to the Morgante, while the other day they confiscated the whole translation of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, and have persecuted Leoni, the translator—so he writes me, and so I could have told him, had he consulted me before his publication. This shows how much more politics interest men in these parts than religion. Half a dozen invectives against tyranny confiscate Childe Harold in a month; and eight and twenty cantos of quizzing monks and knights, and church government, are let loose for centuries. I copy Leoni’s account.

“‘Non ignorerà forse che la mia versione del 4° Canto del Childe
322 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
Harold fu confiscata in ogni parte: ed io stesso ho dovuto soffrir vessazioni altrettanto ridicole quanto illiberali, ad arte che alcuni versi fossero esclusi dalla censura. Ma siccome il divieto non fa d’ordinario che accrescere la curiosità cosi quel carme sull’ Italia è ricercato più che mai, e penso di farlo ristampare in Inghilterra senza nulla escludere. Sciagurata condizione di questa mia patria! se patria si può chiamare una terra così avvilita dalla fortuna, dagli uomini, da se medesima.’

Rose will translate this to you. Has he had his letter? I enclosed it to you months ago.

“This intended piece of publication I shall dissuade him from, or he may chance to see the inside of St. Angelo’s. The last sentence of his letter is the common and pathetic sentiment of all his countrymen.

Sir Humphry Davy was here last fortnight, and I was in his company in the house of a very pretty Italian lady of rank, who, by way of displaying her learning in presence of the great chemist, then describing his fourteenth ascension of Mount Vesuvius, asked ‘if there was not a similar volcano in Ireland?‘ My only notion of an Irish volcano consisted of the lake of Killarney, which I naturally conceived her to mean; but on second thoughts I divined, that she alluded to Iceland and to Hecla—and so it proved, though she sustained her volcanic topography for some time with all the amiable pertinacity of ‘the feminie.’ She soon after turned to me and asked me various questions about Sir Humphry’s philosophy, and I explained as well as an oracle his skill in gasen safety lamps, and ungluing the Pompeian MSS. ‘But what do you call him?’ said she. ‘A great chemist,’ quoth I. ‘What can he do?’ repeated the lady. ‘Almost any thing,’ said I. ‘Oh, then, mio caro, do pray beg him to give me something to dye my eyebrows black. I have tried a thousand things, and the colours all come off; and besides, they don’t grow: can’t he invent something to make them grow?’ All this with the greatest earnestness; and what you will be surprised at, she is neither ignorant nor a fool, but really well educated and clever. But they speak like children, when first out of their convents; and, after all, this is better than an English blue-stocking.

“I did not tell Sir Humphry of this last piece of philosophy, not
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 323
knowing how he might take it. Davy was much taken with Ravenna, and the primitive Italianism of the people, who are unused to foreigners: but he only staid a day.

“Send me Scott’s novels and some news.

“P.S. I have begun and advanced into the second act of a tragedy on the subject of the Doge’s conspiracy (i. e. the story of Marino Faliero); but my present feeling is so little encouraging on such matters that I begin to think I have mined my talent out, and proceed in no great phantasy of finding a new vein.

“P.S. I sometimes think (if the Italians don’t rise) of coming over to England in the autumn after the coronation (at which I would not appear, on account of my family schism), but as yet I can decide nothing. The place must be a great deal changed since I left it, now more than four years ago.”

Ravenna, May 20th, 1820.

Murray, my dear, make my respects to Thomas Campbell, and tell him from me, with faith and friendship, three things that he must right in his poets: Firstly, he says Anstey’s Bath Guide characters are taken from Smollett. ’Tis impossible:—the Guide was published in 1766, and Humphrey Clinker in 1771— dunque, ’tis Smollett who has taken from Anstey. Secondly, he does not know to whom Cowper alludes, when he says that there was one who ‘built a church to God, and then blasphemed his name:’ it was ‘Deo erexit Voltaire’ to whom that maniacal Calvinist and coddled poet alludes. Thirdly, he misquotes and spoils a passage from Shakspeare, ‘to gild refined gold, to paint the lily,’ &c.; for lily he puts rose, and bedevils in more words than one the whole quotation.

“Now, Tom is a fine fellow; but he should be correct: for the first is an injustice (to Anstey), the second an ignorance, and the third a blunder. Tell him all this, and let him take it in good part; for I might have rammed it into a review and rowed him—instead of which, I act like a Christian.

“Yours, &c.”
324 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
“Ravenna, May 20th, 1820.

“First and foremost, you must forward my letter to Moore dated 2d January, which I said you might open, but desired you to forward. Now, you should really not forget these little things, because they do mischief among friends. You are an excellent man, a great man, and live among great men, but do pray recollect your absent friends and authors.

“In the first place, your packets; then a letter from Kinnaird, on the most urgent business; another from Moore, about a communication to Lady Byron of importance; a fourth from the mother of Allegra; and fifthly, at Ravenna, the Contessa G. is on the eve of being divorced.—But the Italian public are on our side, particularly the women,—and the men also, because they say that he had no business to take the business up now after a year of toleration. All her relations (who are numerous, high in rank, and powerful) are furious against him for his conduct. I am warned to be on my guard, as he is very capable of employing sicarii —this is Latin as well as Italian, so you can understand it; but I have arms, and don’t mind them, thinking that I could pepper his ragamuffins, if they don’t come unawares and that, if they do, one may as well end that way as another; and it would besides serve you as an advertisement.

‘Man may escape from rope or gun, &c.
But he who takes woman, woman, woman,’ &c.

“P.S. I have looked over the press, but heaven knows how. Think what I have on hand and the post going out to-morrow. Do you remember the epitaph on Voltaire?
‘Ci-git l’enfant gaté,’ &c.
‘Here lies the spoilt child
Of the world which he spoil’d.’
The original is in
Grimm and Diderot, &c. &c. &c.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 325
“Ravenna, May 24th, 1820.

“I wrote to you a few days ago. There is also a letter of January last for you at Murray’s, which will explain to you why I am here. Murray ought to have forwarded it long ago. I enclose you an epistle from a countrywoman of yours at Paris, which has moved my entrails. You will have the goodness, perhaps, to inquire into the truth of her story, and I will help her as far as I can,—though not in the useless way she proposes. Her letter is evidently unstudied, and so natural, that the orthography is also in a state of nature.

“Here is a poor creature, ill and solitary, who thinks, as a last resource, of translating you or me into French! Was there ever such a notion? It seems to me the consummation of despair. Pray inquire, and let me know, and, if you could draw a bill on me here for a few hundred francs, at your banker’s, I will duly honour it,—that is, if she is not an impostor*. If not, let me know, that I may get something remitted by my banker Longhi, of Bologna, for I have no correspondence, myself, at Paris: but tell her she must not translate;—if she does, it will be the height of ingratitude.

“I had a letter (not of the same kind, but in French and flattery) from a Madame Sophie Gail, of Paris, whom I take to be the spouse of a Gallo-Greek of that name. Who is she? and, what is she? and how came she to take an interest in my poeshie or its author? If you know her, tell her, with my compliments, that, as I only read French, I have not answered her letter; but would have done so in Italian, if I had not thought it would look like an affectation. I have just been scolding my monkey for tearing the seal of her letter, and spoiling a mock book, in

* According to his desire, I waited upon this young lady, having provided myself with a rouleau of fifteen or twenty Napoleons to present to her from his lordship; but, with a very creditable spirit, my young countrywoman declined the gift, saying that Lord Byron had mistaken the object of her application to him, which was to request that, by allowing her to have the sheets of some of his works before publication, he would enable her to prepare early translations for the French booksellers, and thus afford her the means of acquiring something towards a livelihood.

326 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
which I put rose leaves. I had a civet-cat the other day, too; but it ran away, after scratching my monkey’s cheek, and I am in search of it still. It was the fiercest beast I ever saw, and like * * in the face and manner.

“I have a world of things to say; but, as they are not come to a dénouement, I don’t care to begin their history till it is wound up. After you went, I had a fever, but got well again without bark. Sir Humphry Davy was here the other day, and liked Ravenna very much. He will tell you any thing you may wish to know about the place and your humble servitor.

“Your apprehensions (arising from Scott’s) were unfounded. There are no damages in this country, but there will probably be a separation between them, as her family, which is a principal one, by its connexions, are very much against him, for the whole of his conduct,—and he is old and obstinate, and she is young and a woman, determined to sacrifice every thing to her affections. I have given her the best advice, viz., to stay with him,—pointing out the state of a separated woman (for the priests won’t let lovers live openly together, unless the husband sanctions it), and making the most exquisite moral reflections,—but to no purpose. She says, ‘I will stay with him, if he will let you remain with me. It is hard that I should be the only woman in Romagna who is not to have her Amico; but, if not, I will not live with him; and as for the consequences, love, &c. &c. &c.’—you know how females reason on such occasions.

“He says he has let it go on, till he can do so no longer. But he wants her to stay, and dismiss me; for he doesn’t like to pay back her dowry and to make an alimony. Her relations are rather for the separation, as they detest him,—indeed, so does every body. The populace and the women are, as usual, all for those who are in the wrong, viz., the lady and her lover. I should have retreated, but honour, and an erysipelas which has attacked her, prevent me,—to say nothing of love, for I love her most entirely, though not enough to persuade her to sacrifice every thing to a frenzy. ‘I see how it will end; she will be the sixteenth Mrs. Shuffleton.’

“My paper is finished, and so must this letter.

“Yours ever,
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 327

“P.S. I regret that you have not completed the Italian Fudges. Pray, how come you to be still in Paris? Murray has four or five things of mine in hand—the new Don Juan, which his back-shop synod don’t admire;—a translation of the first Canto of Pulci Morgante Maggiore, excellent;—a short ditto from Dante, not so much approved;—the Prophecy of Dante, very grand and worthy, &c. &c. &c.;—a furious prose answer to Blackwood’s Observations on Don Juan, with a savage Defence of Pope—likely to make a row. The opinions above I quote from Murray and his Utican senate;—you will form your own, when you see the things.

“You will have no great chance of seeing me, for I begin to think I must finish in Italy. But, if you come my way, you shall have a tureen of macaroni. Pray tell me about yourself and your intents.

“My trustees are going to lend Earl Blessington sixty thousand pounds (at six per cent.) on a Dublin mortgage. Only think of my becoming an Irish absentee!”

“Ravenna, May 25, 1820.

“A German named Ruppsecht has sent me, heaven knows why, several Deutsche Gazettes, of all which I understand neither word nor letter. I have sent you the enclosed to beg you to translate to me some remarks, which appear to be Goëthe’s upon Manfred—and if I may judge by two notes of admiration (generally put after something ridiculous by us), and the word ‘hypocondrisch,’ are any thing but favourable. I shall regret this, for I should have been proud of Goëthe’s good word; but I sha’n’t alter my opinion of him, even though be should be savage.

“Will you excuse this trouble, and do me this favour?—Never mind —soften nothing—I am literary proof—having had good and evil said in most modern languages.

“Believe me, &c.”
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Ravenna, June 1st, 1820.

“I have received a Parisian letter from W. W., which I prefer answering through you, if that worthy be still at Paris, and, as he says, an occasional visitor of yours. In November last he wrote to me a well-meaning letter, stating, for some reasons of his own, his belief that a reunion might be effected between Lady B. and myself. To this I answered as usual; and he sent me a second letter, repeating his notions, which letter I have never answered, having had a thousand other things to think of. He now writes as if he believed that he had offended me by touching on the topic; and I wish you to assure him that I am not at all so,—but, on the contrary, obliged by his good-nature. At the same time acquaint him the thing is impossible. You know this, as well as I,—and there let it end.

“I believe that I showed you his epistle in autumn last. He asks me if I have heard of my ‘laureat’ at Paris†,—somebody who has written ‘a most sanguinary Epître’ against me; but whether in French, or Dutch, or on what score, I know not, and he don’t say,—except that (for my satisfaction) he says it is the best thing in the fellow’s volume. If there is any thing of the kind that I ought to know, you will doubtless tell me. I suppose it to be something of the usual sort;—he says, he don’t remember the author’s name.

“I wrote to you some ten days ago, and expect an answer at your leisure.

“The separation business still continues, and all the world are implicated, including priests and cardinals. The public opinion is furious against him, because he ought to have cut the matter short at first, and not waited twelve months to begin. He has been trying at evidence, but can get none sufficient; for what would make fifty divorces in England won’t do here—there must be the most decided proofs. * * *

M. Lamartine.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 329

“It is the first cause of the kind attempted in Ravenna for these two hundred years; for, though they often separate, they assign a different motive. You know that the continental incontinent are more delicate than the English, and don’t like proclaiming their coronation in a court, even when nobody doubts it.

“All her relations are furious against him. The father has challenged him—a superfluous valour, for he don’t fight, though suspected of two assassinations—one of the famous Monzoni of Forli. Warning was given me not to take such long rides in the Pine Forest without being on my guard; so I take my stiletto and a pair of pistols in my pocket during my daily rides.

“I won’t stir from this place till the matter is settled one way or the other. She is as femininely firm as possible; and the opinion is so much against him, that the advocates decline to undertake his cause, because they say that he is either a fool or a rogue—fool, if he did not discover the liaison till now; and rogue, if he did know it, and waited, for some bad end, to divulge it. In short, there has been nothing like it since the days of Guido di Polenta’s family, in these parts.

“If the man has me taken off, like Polonius, ‘say he made a good end’—for a melodrame. The principal security is; that he has not the courage to spend twenty scudi—the average price of a clean-handed bravo—otherwise there is no want of opportunity, for I ride about the woods every evening, with one servant, and sometimes an acquaintance, who latterly looks a little queer in solitary bits of bushes.

“Good bye.—Write to yours ever, &c.”
“Ravenna, June 7th, 1820.

“Enclosed is something which will interest you, to wit, the opinion of the greatest man of Germany—perhaps of Europe—upon one of the great men of your advertisements (all ‘famous hands,’ as Jacob Tonson used to say of his ragamuffins)—in short, a critique of Goëthe’s upon Manfred. There is the original, an English translation, and an Italian
330 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
one; keep them all in your archives, for the opinions of such a man as Goëthe, whether favourable or not, are always interesting—and this is more so, as favourable. His
Faust I never read, for I don’t know German; but Matthew Monk Lewis, in 1816, at Coligny, translated most of it to me vivâ voce, and I was naturally much struck with it; but it was the Steinbach and the Jungfrau, and something else, much more than Faustus, that made me write Manfred. The first scene, however, and that of Faustus, are very similar. Acknowledge this letter.

“Yours ever.

“P.S. I have received Ivanhoe;good. Pray send me some tooth-powder and tincture of myrrh, by Waite, &c. Ricciardetto should have been translated literally, or not at all. As to puffing Whistlecraft, it won’t do. I’ll tell you why some day or other. Cornwall’s a poet, but spoilt by the detestable schools of the day. Mrs. Hemans is a poet also, but too stiltified and apostrophic,—and quite wrong. Men died calmly before the Christian era, and since, without Christianity: witness the Romans, and, lately, Thistlewood, Sandt, and Lovelmen who ought to have been weighed down with their crimes, even had they believed. A deathbed is a matter of nerves and constitution, and not of religion. Voltaire was frightened, Frederick of Prussia not: Christians the same, according to their strength rather than their creed. What does H * * H * * mean by his stanza? which is octave got drunk or gone mad. He ought to have his ears boxed with Thor’s hammer for rhyming so fantastically.”

The following is the article from Goëthe’sKunst und Alterthum,” enclosed in this letter. The grave confidence with which the venerable critic traces the fancies of his brother poet to real persons and events, making no difficulty even of a double murder at Florence to furnish grounds for his theory, affords an amusing instance of the disposition so prevalent throughout Europe, to picture Byron as a man of marvels and mysteries, as well in his life as his poetry. To these exaggerated, or wholly false notions of him, the numerous fictions palmed upon the world of his romantic tours and wonderful adventures, in places he
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 331
never saw, and with persons that never existed*, have, no doubt, considerably contributed; and the consequence is, so utterly out of truth and nature are the representations of his life and character long current upon the continent, that it may be questioned whether the real “flesh and blood” hero of these pages,—the social, practical-minded and, with all his faults and eccentricities, English Lord Byron,—may not, to the over-exalted imaginations of most of his foreign admirers, appear but an ordinary, unromantic, and prosaic personage.


“Byron’s tragedy, Manfred, was to me a wonderful phenomenon, and one that closely touched me. This singular intellectual poet has taken my Faustus to himself, and extracted from it the strongest nourishment for his hypochondriac humour. He has made use of the impelling principles in his own way, for his own purposes, so that no one of them remains the same; and it is particularly on this account that I cannot enough admire his genius. The whole is in this way so completely formed anew, that it would be an interesting task for the critic to point out not only the alterations he has made, but their degree of resemblance with, or dissimilarity to, the original: in the course of which I cannot deny that the gloomy heat of an unbounded and exuberant despair becomes at last oppressive to us. Yet is the dissatisfaction we feel always connected with esteem and admiration.

“We find thus in this tragedy the quintessence of the most astonishing talent born to be its own tormentor. The character of Lord Byron’s life and poetry hardly permits a just and equitable appreciation.

* Of this kind are the accounts, filled with all sorts of circumstantial wonders, of his residence in the island of Mytilene;—his voyages to Sicily,—to Ithaca, with the Countess Guiccioli, &c. &c. But the most absurd, perhaps, of all these fabrications, are the stories told by Pouqueville, of the poet’s religious conferences in the cell of Father Paul, at Athens; and the still more unconscionable fiction in which Rizo has indulged, in giving the details of a pretended theatrical scene, got up (according to this poetical historian) between Lord Byron and the Archbishop of Arts, at the tomb of Botzaris, in Missolonghi.

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He has often enough confessed what it is that torments him. He has repeatedly pourtrayed it; and scarcely any one feels compassion for this intolerable suffering, over which he is ever laboriously ruminating. There are, properly speaking, two females whose phantoms for ever haunt him, and which, in this piece also, perform principal parts—one under the name of Astarte, the other without form or actual presence, and merely a voice. Of the horrid occurrence which took place with the former, the following is related. When a bold and enterprising young man, he won the affections of a Florentine lady. Her husband discovered the amour, and murdered his wife; but the murderer was the same night found dead in the street, and there was no one on whom any suspicion could he attached. Lord Byron removed from Florence, and these spirits haunted him all his life after.

“This romantic incident is rendered highly probable by innumerable allusions to it in his poems. As, for instance, when turning his sad contemplations inwards, he applies to himself the fatal history of the king of Sparta. It is as follows:—Pausanias, a Lacedemonian general, acquires glory by the important victory at Platæa, but afterwards forfeits the confidence of his countrymen through his arrogance, obstinacy, and secret intrigues with the enemies of his country. This man draws upon himself the heavy guilt of innocent blood, which attends him to his end; for, while commanding the fleet of the allied Greeks, in the Black Sea, he is inflamed with a violent passion for a Byzantine maiden. After long resistance, he at length obtains her from her parents, and she is to be delivered up to him at night. She modestly desires the servant to put out the lamp, and, while groping her way in the dark, she overturns it. Pausanias is awakened from his sleep, apprehensive of an attack from murderers—he seizes his sword, and destroys his mistress. The horrid sight never leaves him. Her shade pursues him unceasingly, and be implores for aid in vain from the gods and the exorcising priests.

“That poet must have a lacerated heart who selects such a scene from antiquity, appropriates it to himself, and burthens his tragic image with it. The following soliloquy, which is overladen with gloom and a weariness of life, is, by this remark, rendered intelligible. We recom-
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 333
mend it as an exercise to all friends of declamation. Hamlet’s soliloquy appears improved upon here*.”

“Ravenna, June 9th, 1820.

Galignani has just sent me the Paris edition of your works (which I wrote to order), and I am glad to see my old friends with a French face. I have been skimming and dipping, in and over them, like a swallow, and as pleased as one. It is the first time that I had seen the Melodies without music; and, I don’t know how, but I can’t read in a music-book—the crotchets confound the words in my head, though I recollect them perfectly when sung. Music assists my memory through the ear, not through the eye; I mean, that her quavers perplex me upon paper, but they are a help when heard. And thus I was glad to see the words without their borrowed robes;—to my mind they look none the worse for their nudity.

“The biographer has made a botch of your life—calling your father ‘a venerable old gentleman,’ and prattling of ‘Addison,’ and ‘dowager countesses.’ If that damned fellow was to write my life, I would certainly take his. And then, at the Dublin dinner, you have ‘made a speech’ (do you recollect, at Douglas K.’s, ‘Sir, he made me a speech?’) too complimentary to the ‘living poets,’ and somewhat redolent of universal praise. I am but too well off in it, but * * * * * * * *.

“You have not sent me any poetical or personal news of yourself. Why don’t you complete an Italian Tour of the Fudges? I have just been turning over Little, which I knew by heart in 1803, being then in my fifteenth summer. Heigho! I believe all the mischief I have ever done, or sung, has been owing to that confounded book of yours.

“In my last I told you of a cargo of ‘Poeshie,’ which I had sent to

* The critic here subjoins the soliloquy from Manfred, beginning “We are the fools of time end terror,” in which the allusion to Pausanias occurs.

334 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
M. at his own impatient desire;—and, now he has got it, he don’t like it, and demurs. Perhaps he is right. I have no great opinion of any of my last shipment, except a
translation from Pulci, which is word for word, and verse for verse.

“I am in the Third Act of a Tragedy; but whether it will be finished or not, I know not: I have, at this present, too many passions of my own on hand to do justice to those of the dead. Besides the vexations mentioned in my last, I have incurred a quarrel with the Pope’s carabiniers, or gens d’armerie, who have petitioned the Cardinal against my liveries, as resembling too nearly their own lousy uniform. They particularly object to the epaulettes, which all the world with us have on upon gala days. My liveries are of the colours conforming to my arms, and have been the family hue since the year 1066.

“I have sent a tranchant reply, as you may suppose; and have given to understand that, if any soldados of that respectable corps insult my servants, I will do likewise by their gallant commanders; and I have directed my ragamuffins, six in number, who are tolerably savage, to defend themselves, in case of aggression; and, on holidays and gaudy days, I shall arm the whole set, including myself, in case of accidents or treachery. I used to play pretty well at the broadsword, once upon a time, at Angelo’s; but I should like the pistol, our national buccaneer weapon, better, though I am out of practice at present. However, I can ‘wink and hold out mine iron.’ It makes me think (the whole thing does) of Romeo and Juliet—‘now, Gregory, remember thy smashing blow.’

“All these feuds, however, with the Cavalier for his wife, and the troopers for my liveries, are very tiresome to a quiet man, who does his best to please all the world, and longs for fellowship and good will. Pray write.

“I am yours, &c.”
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 335
“Ravenna, July 13th, 1820.

“To remove or increase your Irish anxiety, about my being ‘in a wisp*,’ I answer your letter forthwith; premising that, as I am a ‘Will of the wisp,’ I may chance to flit out of it. But, first, a word on the Memoir;—I have no objection, nay, I would rather that one correct copy was taken and deposited in honourable hands, in case of accidents happening to the original; for you know that I have none, and have never even re-read, nor, indeed, read at all, what is there written; I only know that I wrote it with the fullest intention to be ‘faithful and true’ in my narrative, but not impartial—no, by the Lord! I can’t pretend to be that, while I feel. But I wish to give every body concerned the opportunity to contradict or correct me.

“I have no objection to any proper person seeing what is there written,—seeing it was written, like every thing else, for the purpose of being read, however much many writings may fail in arriving at that object.

“With regard to ‘the wisp,’ the Pope has pronounced their separation. The decree came yesterday from Babylon,—it was she and her friends who demanded it, on the grounds of her husband’s (the noble Count Cavalier’s) extraordinary usage. He opposed it with all his might, because of the alimony, which has been assigned, with all her goods, chattels, carriage, &c. to be restored by him. In Italy they can’t divorce. He insisted on her giving me up, and he would forgive every thing, even the adultery, which he swears that he can prove by ‘famous witnesses.’ But, in this country, the very courts hold such proofs in abhorrence, the Italians being as much more delicate in public than the English, as they are more passionate in private.

“The friends and relatives, who are numerous and powerful, reply to him—‘You, yourself, are either fool or knave,—fool, if you did not

* An Irish phrase for being in a scrape.

336 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
see the consequences of the approximation of these two young persons,—knave, if you connive at it. Take your choice,—but don’t break out (after twelve months of the closest intimacy, under your own eyes and positive sanction), with a scandal, which can only make you ridiculous and her unhappy.’

“He swore that he thought our intercourse was purely amicable, and that I was more partial to him than to her, till melancholy testimony proved the contrary. To this they answer, that ‘Will of this wisp’ was not an unknown person, and that ‘clamosa Fama’ had not proclaimed the purity of my morals;—that her brother, a year ago, wrote from Rome to warn him, that his wife would infallibly be led astray by this ignis fatuus, unless he took proper measures, all of which he neglected to take, &c. &c.

“Now, he says, that he encouraged my return to Ravenna, to see ‘in quanti piedi di acqua siamo,’ and he has found enough to drown him in. In short,
‘Ce ne fut pas le tout; sa femme se plaignit—
Procès—La parenté se joint en excuse et dit
Que du Docteur venoit tout le mauvais ménage;
Que cet homme étoit fou, que sa femme étoit sage.
On fit casser le mariage.’
It is but to let the women alone, in the way of conflict, for they are sure to win against the field. She returns to her father’s house, and I can only see her under great restrictions—such is the custom of the country. The relations behaved very well;—I offered any settlement, but they refused to accept it, and swear she shan’n’t live with G. (as he has tried to prove her faithless), but that he shall maintain her; and, in fact, a judgment to this effect came yesterday. I am, of course, in an awkward situation enough.

“I have heard no more of the carabiniers who protested against my liveries. They are not popular, those same soldiers, and, in a small row, the other night, one was slain, another wounded, and divers put to flight, by some of the Romagnuole youth, who are dexterous, and somewhat liberal of the knife. The perpetrators are not dis-
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 337
covered, but I hope and believe that none of my ragamuffins were in it, though they are somewhat savage, and secretly armed, like most of the inhabitants. It is their way, and saves sometimes a good deal of litigation.

“There is a revolution at Naples. If so it will probably leave a card at Ravenna in its way to Lombardy.

“Your publishers seem to have used you like mine. M. has shuffled, and almost insinuated that my last productions are dull. Dull, sir!—damme, dull! I believe he is right. He begs for the completion of my tragedy on Marino Faliero, none of which is yet gone to England. The fifth act is nearly completed, but it is dreadfully long—40 sheets of long paper, of 4 pages each—about 150 when printed; but ‘so full of pastime and prodigality’ that I think it will do.

“Pray send and publish your Pome upon me; and don’t be afraid of praising me too highly. I shall pocket my blushes.

“‘Not actionable!’—Chantre d’enfer†!—by * * that’s ‘a speech,’ and I won’t put up with it. A pretty title to give a man for doubting if there be any such place!

“So my Gail is gone—and Miss Mahony won’t take money. I am very glad of it—I like to be generous free of expense. But beg her not to translate me.

“Oh, pray tell Galignani that I shall send him a screed of doctrine if he don’t be more punctual. Somebody regularly detains two, and sometimes four, of his Messengers by the way. Do, pray, entreat him to he more precise. News are worth money in this remote kingdom of the Ostrogoths.

“Pray, reply. I should like much to share some of your Champagne and La Fitte, but I am too Italian for Paris in general. Make Murray send my letter to you—it is full of epigrams.

“Yours, &c.”

In the separation that had now taken place between Count Guiccioli and his wife, it was one of the conditions that the lady should, in future,

† The title given him by M. Lamartine, in one of his Poems.

338 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
reside under the paternal roof—in consequence of which,
Madame Guiccioli, on the 16th of July, left Ravenna and retired to a villa belonging to Count Gamba, about fifteen miles distant from that city. Here Lord Byron occasionally visited her—about once or twice, perhaps, in the month—passing the rest of his time in perfect solitude. To a mind like his, whose world was within itself, such a mode of life could have been neither new nor unwelcome; but to the woman, young and admired, whose acquaintance with the world and its pleasures had but just begun, this change was, it must be confessed, most sudden and trying. Count Guiccioli was rich, and, as a young wife, she had gained absolute power over him. She was proud, and his station placed her among the highest in Ravenna. They had talked of travelling to Naples, Florence, Paris,—and every luxury, in short, that wealth could command was at her disposal.

All this she now voluntarily and determinedly sacrificed for Byron. Her splendid home abandoned—her relations all openly at war with her—her kind father but tolerating, from fondness, what he could not approve—she was now, upon a pittance of 2001. a year, living apart from the world, her sole occupation the task of educating herself for her illustrious lover, and her sole reward the few brief glimpses of him which their now restricted intercourse allowed. Of the man who could inspire and keep alive so devoted a feeling, it may be pronounced with confidence that he could not have been such as, in the freaks of his own wayward humour, he represented himself; while, on the lady’s side, the whole history of her attachment goes to prove how completely an Italian woman, whether by nature or from her social position, is led to invert the usual course of such frailties among ourselves, and, weak in resisting the first impulses of passion, to reserve the whole strength of her character for a display of constancy and devotedness afterwards.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 339
“Ravenna, July 17th, 1820.

“I have received some books, and Quarterlies, and Edinburghs, for all which I am grateful; they contain all I know of England, except by Galignani’s newspaper.

“The Tragedy is completed, but now comes the task of copy and correction. It is very long (492 sheets of long paper, of four pages each), and I believe must make more than 140 or 150 pages, besides many historical extracts as notes, which I mean to append. History is closely followed. Dr. Moore’s account is in some respects false, and in all foolish and flippant. None of the chronicles (and I have consulted Sanuto, Sandi, Navagero, and an anonymous Siege of Zara, besides the histories of Laugier, Daru, Sismondi, &c.) state, or even hint, that he begged his life; they merely say that he did not deny the conspiracy. He was one of their great men,—commanded at the siege of Zara,—beat 80,000 Hungarians, killing 8000, and at the same time kept the town he was besieging in order,—took Capo d’ Istria,—was ambassador at Genoa, Rome, and finally Doge, where he fell for treason, in attempting to alter the government, by what Sanuto calls a judgment on him for, many years before (when Podesta and Captain of Treviso), having knocked down a bishop, who was sluggish in carrying the host at a procession. He ‘saddles him,’ as Thwackum did Square, ‘with a judgment;’ but he does not mention whether he had been punished at the time for what would appear very strange, even now, and must have been still more so in an age of papal power and glory. Sanuto says, that Heaven took away his senses for this buffet, and induced him to conspire. ‘Però fu permesso che il Faliero perdette l’ intelletto,’ &c.

“I do not know what your parlour-boarders will think of the Drama I have founded upon this extraordinary event. The only similar one in history is the story of Agis, King of Sparta, a prince with the commons against the aristocracy, and losing his life therefor. But it shall be sent when copied.

340 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.

“I should be glad to know why your Quartering Reviewers, at the close of ‘the Fall of Jerusalem,’ accuse me of Manicheism? a compliment to which the sweetener of ‘one of the mightiest spirits’ by no means reconciles me. The poem they review is very noble; but could they not do justice to the writer without converting him into my religious antidote? I am not a Manichean, nor an Any-chean. I should like to know what harm my ‘poeshies’ have done? I can’t tell what people mean by making me a hobgoblin.”

* * * * * *
“Ravenna, August 31st, 1820.

“I have ‘put my soul’ into the tragedy (as you if it); but you know that there are d—d souls as well as tragedies. Recollect that it is not a political play, though it may look like it; it is strictly historical. Read the history and judge.

Ada’s picture is her mother’s. I am glad of it—the mother made a good daughter. Send me Gifford’s opinion, and never mind the Archbishop. I can neither send you away, nor give you a hundred pistoles, nor a better taste: I send you a tragedy, and you ask for ‘facetious epistles;’ a little like your predecessor, who advised Dr. Prideaux to ‘put some more humour into his Life of Mahomet.’

Bankes is a wonderful fellow. There is hardly one of my school or college contemporaries that has not turned out more or less celebrated. Peel, Palmerstone, Bankes, Hobhouse, Tavistock, Bob Mills, Douglas Kinnaird, &c. &c. have all talked and been talked about.

* * * * * *

“We are here going to fight a little next month, if the Huns don’t cross the Po, and probably if they do. I can’t say more now. If any thing happens, you have matter for a posthumous work in MS.; so pray be civil. Depend upon it, there will be savage work, if once they begin here. The French courage proceeds from vanity, the German from phlegm, the Turkish from fanaticism and opium, the Spanish from pride,
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 341
the English from coolness, the Dutch from obstinacy, the Russian from insensibility, but the Italian from anger; so you’ll see that they will spare nothing.”

“Ravenna, August 31st, 1820.

“D—n your ‘mezzo cammin*’—you should say ‘the prime of life,’ a much more consolatory phrase. Besides, it is not correct. I was born in 1788, and consequently am but thirty-two. You are mistaken on another point. The ‘Sequin Box’ never came into requisition, nor is it likely to do so. it were better that it had, for then a man is not bound, you know. As to reform, I did reform—what would you have? ‘Rebellion lay in his way, and he found it.’ I verily believe that nor you, nor any man of poetical temperament, can avoid a strong passion of some kind. It is the poetry of life. What should I have known or written, had I been a quiet, mercantile politician, or a lord in waiting? A man must travel and turmoil, or there is no existence. Besides, I only meant to be a Cavalier Servente, and had no idea it would turn out a romance, in the Anglo fashion.

“However, I suspect I know a thing or two of Italy—more than Lady Morgan has picked up in her posting. What do Englishmen know of Italians beyond their museums and saloons—and some hack * *, en passant? Now, I have lived in the heart of their houses, in parts of Italy freshest and least influenced by strangers,—have seen and become (pars magna fui) a portion of their hopes, and fears, and passions, and am almost inoculated into a family. This is to see men and things as they are.

You say that I called you ‘quiet†’—I don’t recollect any thing of the sort. On the contrary, you are always in scrapes.

* I had congratulated him upon arriving at what Dante calls the “mezzo cammin” of life, the age of thirty-three.

† I had mistaken the concluding words of his letter of the 9th of June.

342 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.

“What think you of the Queen? I hear Mr. Hoby says, ‘that it makes him weep to see her, she reminds him so much of Jane Shore.’
Mr. Hoby the bootmaker’s heart is quite sore,
For seeing the Queen makes him think of Jane Shore;
And, in fact, * * * * *
Pray excuse this
ribaldry. What is your Poem about? Write and tell me all about it and you.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. Did you write the lively quiz on Peter Bell? It has wit enough to be yours, and almost too much to be any body else’s now going. It was in Galignani the other day or week.”

“Ravenna, September 7th, 1820.

“In correcting the proofs you must refer to the manuscript, because there are in it various readings. Pray attend to this, and choose what Gifford thinks best. Let me hear what he thinks of the whole.

“You speak of Lady * *’s illness: she is not of those who die:—the amiable only do; and those whose death would do good live. Whenever she is pleased to return, it may be presumed she will take her ‘divining rod’ along with her: it may be of use to her at home, as well as to the ‘rich man’ of the Evangelists.

“Pray do not let the papers paragraph me back to England. They may say what they please, any loathsome abuse but that. Contradict it.

“My last letters will have taught you to expect an explosion here: it was primed and loaded, but they hesitated to fire the train. One of the cities shirked from the league. I cannot write more at large for a thousand reasons. Our ‘puir hill folk’ offered to strike, and raise the first banner, but Bologna paused; and now ’tis autumn, and the season half over. ‘O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!’ The Huns are on the Po; but if once they pass it on their way to Naples, all Italy will be behind them. The dogs—the wolves—may they perish like the host of Sennacherib!
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 343
If you want to publish the Prophecy of Dante, you never will have a better time.”

“Ravenna, Sept. 11th, 1820.

“Here is another historical note for you. I want to be as near truth as the drama can be.

“Last post I sent you a note fierce as Faliero himself*, in answer to a trashy tourist, who pretends that he could have been introduced to me. Let me have a proof of it, that I may cut its lava into some shape.

“What Gifford says is very consolatory (of the First Act). English, sterling genuine English, is a desideratum amongst you, and I am glad that I have got so much left; though Heaven knows how I retain it: I hear none but from my valet, and his is Nottinghamshire; and I see none but in your new publications, and theirs is no language at all, but jargon. Even your * * * * is terribly stilted and affected, with ‘very, very’ so soft and pamby.

“Oh! if ever I do come amongst you again, I will give you such a ‘Baviad and Mæviad!’ not as good as the old, but even better merited. There never was such a set as your ragamuffins (I mean not yours only, but every body’s). What with the Cockneys, and the Lakers, and the followers of Scott, and Moore, and Byron, you are in the very uttermost decline and degradation of literature. I can’t think of it without all the remorse of a murderer. I wish that Johnson were alive again to crush them!”

* The angry note against English travellers appended to this tragedy, in consequence of an assertion made by some recent tourist that he (or, as it afterwards turned out, she) “had repeatedly declined an introduction to Lord Byron while in Italy.”

344 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
“Ravenna, Sept. 14th, 1820.

“What! not a line? Well, have it your own way.

“I wish you would inform Perry that his stupid paragraph is the cause of all my newspapers being stopped in Paris. The fools believe me in your infernal country, and have not sent on their gazettes, so that I know nothing of your beastly trial of the Queen.

“I cannot avail myself of Mr. Gifford’s remarks, because I have received none, except on the first act.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. Do, pray, beg the editors of papers to say any thing blackguard they please; but not to put me amongst their arrivals. They do me more mischief by such nonsense than all their abuse can do.”

“Ravenna, Sept. 21st, 1820.

“So you are at your old tricks again. This is the second packet I have received unaccompanied by a single line of good, bad, or indifferent. It is strange that you have never forwarded any further observations of Gifford’s. How am I to alter or amend, if I hear no further? or does this silence mean that it is well enough as it is, or too bad to be repaired? if the last, why do you not say so at once, instead of playing pretty, while you know that soon or late you must out with the truth.

“Yours, &c.

P.S. My sister tells me that you sent to her to inquire where I was, believing in my arrival, ‘driving a curricle,’ &c. &c. into Palace-yard. Do you think me a coxcomb or a madman, to be capable of such an exhibition? My sister knew me better, and told you, that could not
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 345
be me. You might as well have thought me entering on ‘a pale horse,’ like Death in the Revelations.”

“Ravenna, Sept. 23d, 1820.

“Get from Mr. Hobhouse, and send me a proof (with the Latin) of my Hints from Horace: it has now the nonum prematur in annum complete for its production, being written at Athens in 1811. I have a notion that, with some omissions of names and passages, it will do; and I could put my late observations for Pope amongst the notes, with the date of 1820, and so on. As far as versification goes, it is good; and on looking back to what I wrote about that period, I am astonished to see how little I have trained on. I wrote better then than now; but that comes of my having fallen into the atrocious bad taste of the times. If I can trim it for present publication, what with the other things you have of mine, you will have a volume or two of variety at least, for there will be all measures, styles, and topics, whether good or no. I am anxious to hear what Gifford thinks of the tragedy: pray let me know. I really do not know what to think myself.

“If the Germans pass the Po, they will be treated to a mass out of the Cardinal de Retz’s Breviary. * *’s a fool, and could not understand this: Frere will. It is as pretty a conceit as you would wish to see on a summer’s day.

“Nobody here believes a word of the evidence against the Queen. The very mob cry shame against their countrymen, and say, that for half the money spent upon the trial, any testimony whatever may be brought out of Italy. This you may rely upon as fact. I told you as much before. As to what travellers report, what are travellers? Now I have lived among the Italians—not Florenced, and Romed, and galleried, and conversationed it for a few months, and then home again; but been of their families, and friendships, and feuds, and loves, and councils, and correspondence, in a part of Italy least known to foreigners,—and have
346 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
been amongst them of all classes, from the Conte to the Contadine; and you may be sure of what I say to you.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, September 28th, 1820.

“I thought that I had told you long ago, that it never was intended nor written with any view to the stage. I have said so in the preface too. It is too long and too regular for your stage, the persons too few, and the unity too much observed. It is more like a play of Alfieri’s than of your stage (I say this humbly in speaking of that great man); but there is poetry, and it is equal to Manfred, though I know not what esteem is held of Manfred.

“I have now been nearly as long out of England as I was there during the time I saw you frequently. I came home July 14th, 1811, and left again April 25th, 1816: so that Sept. 28th, 1820, brings me within a very few months of the same duration of time of my stay and my absence. In course, I can know nothing of the public taste and feelings, but from what I glean from letters, &c. Both seem to be as bad as possible.

“I thought Anastasius excellent: did I not say so? Matthews’s Diary most excellent; it, and Forsyth, and parts of Hobhouse, are all we have of truth or sense upon Italy. The Letter to Julia very good indeed. I do not despise * * * * *; but if she knit blue-stockings instead of wearing them, it would be better. You are taken in by that false stilted trashy style, which is a mixture of all the styles of the day, which are all bombastic (I don’t except my own—no one has done more through negligence to corrupt the language); but it is neither English nor poetry. Time will show.

“I am sorry Gifford has made no further remarks beyond the first Act: does he think all the English equally sterling as he thought the first? You did right to send the proofs: I was a fool; but I do really detest the sight of proofs: it is an absurdity; but comes from laziness.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 347

“You can steal the two Juans into the world quietly, tagged to the others. The play as you will—the Dante too; but the Pulci I am proud of; it is superb; you have no such translation. It is the best thing I ever did in my life. I wrote the play from beginning to end, and not a single scene without interruption, and being obliged to break off in the middle; for I had my hands full, and my head, too, just then; so it can be no great shake—I mean the play; and the head too, if you like.

“P.S. Politics here still savage and uncertain. However, we are all in our ‘bandaliers’ to join the ‘Highlanders if they cross the Forth,’ i. e. to crush the Austrians if they pass the Po. The rascals!—and that dog L——l, to say their subjects are happy! If ever I come back, I’ll work some of these ministers.

“Sept. 29th.

“I open my letter to say that on reading more of the four volumes on Italy, where the author says ‘declined an introduction,’ I perceive (horresco referens) it is written by a WOMAN!!! In that case you must suppress my note and answer, and all I have said about the book and the writer. I never dreamed of it until now, in my extreme wrath at that precious note. I can only say that I am sorry that a lady should say any thing of the kind. What I would have said to one of the other sex you know already. Her book too (as a she book is not a bad one; but she evidently don’t know the Italians, or rather don’t like them, and forgets the causes of their misery and profligacy (Matthews and Forsyth are your men for truth and tact), and has gone over Italy in company—always a bad plan: you must be alone with people to know them well. Ask her, who was the ‘descendant of Lady M. W. Montague,’ and by whom? by Algarotti?

“I suspect that in Marino Faliero, you and yours won’t like the politics, which are perilous to you in these times: but recollect that it is not a political play, and that I was obliged to put into the mouths of the characters the sentiments upon which they acted. I hate all things written like Pizarro, to represent France, England, and so forth. All I
348 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
have done is meant to be purely Venetian, even to the very prophecy of its present state.

“Your Angles in general know little of the Italians, who detest them for their numbers and their Genoa treachery. Besides, the English travellers have not been composed of the best company. How could they?—out of 100,000, how many gentlemen were there, or honest men?

Mitchell’s Aristophanes is excellent. Send me the rest of it.

“These fools will force me to write a book about Italy myself, to give them ‘the loud lie.’ They prate about assassination; what is it but the origin of duelling—and ‘a wild justice,’ as Lord Bacon calls it? It is the fount of the modern point of honour in what the laws can’t or won’t reach. Every man is liable to it more or less, according to circumstances or place. For instance, I am living here exposed to it daily, for I have happened to make a powerful and unprincipled man my enemy;—and I never sleep the worse for it, or ride in less solitary places, because precaution is useless, and one thinks of it as of a disease which may or may not strike. It is true that there are those here, who, if he did, would ‘live to think on ’t;’ but that would not awake my bones: I should be sorry if it would, were they once at rest.”

“Ravenna, 8bre 6°, 1820.

“You will have now received all the Acts, corrected, of the Marino Faliero. What you say of the ‘bet of 100 guineas’ made by some one who says that he saw me last week reminds me of what happened in 1810; you can easily ascertain the fact, and it is an odd one.

“In the latter end of 1811, I met one evening at the Alfred my old school and form-fellow (for we were within two of each other, he the higher, though both very near the top of our remove) Peel, the Irish secretary. He told me that, in 1810, he met me, as he thought, in St. James’s-street, but we passed without speaking. He mentioned this, and it was denied as impossible, I being then in Turkey. A day or two
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 349
afterward, he pointed out to his brother a person on the opposite side of the way:—‘There,’ said he, is the man whom I took for Byron.’ His brother instantly answered, ‘Why, it is Byron, and no one else.’ But this is not all:—I was seen by somebody to write down my name amongst the inquirers after the king’s health, then attacked by insanity. Now, at this very period, as nearly as I could make out, I was ill of a strong fever at Patras, caught in the marshes near Olympia, from the malaria. If I had died there, this would have been a new ghost story for you. You can easily make out the accuracy of this from Peel himself, who told it in detail. I suppose you will be of the opinion of
Lucretius, who (denies the immortality of the soul, but) asserts that from the ‘flying off of the surfaces of bodies, these surfaces or cases, like the coats of an onion, are sometimes seen entire when they are separated from it, so that the shapes and shadows of both the dead and living are frequently beheld.’

“But if they are, are their coats and waistcoats also seen? I do not disbelieve that we may be two by some unconscious process, to a certain sign, but which of these two I happen at present to be, I leave you to decide. I only hope that t’other me behaves like a gemman.

“I wish you would get Peel asked how far I am accurate in my recollection of what he told me; for I don’t like to say such things without authority.

“I am not sure that I was not spoken with; but this also you can ascertain. I have written to you such letters that I stop.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. Last year (in June, 1819) I met at Count Mosti’s, at Ferrara, an Italian who asked me ‘if I knew Lord Byron?’ I told him no (no one knows himself, you know). ‘Then,’ says he, ‘I do; I met him at Naples the other day.’ I pulled out my card and asked him if that was the way he spelt his name: be answered, yes. I suspect that it was a blackguard navy surgeon, who attended a young travelling madam about, and passed himself for a lord at the post-houses. He was a vulgar dog—quite of the cock-pit order—and a precious representative I must have had of him, if it was even so; but I don’t know. He passed himself off as a gentleman, and squired about a Countess * *
350 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
(of this place), then at Venice, an ugly battered woman, of bad morals even for Italy.”

“Ravenna, 8bre 8°, 1820.

Foscolo’s letter is exactly the thing wanted; firstly, because he is a man of genius; and, next, because he is an Italian, and therefore the best judge of Italics. Besides,
‘He’s more an antique Roman than a Dane;’
that is, he is more of the ancient Greek than of the modern Italian. Though ‘somewhat,’ as Dugald Dalgetty says, ‘too wild and salvage’ (like ‘Ronald of the Mist’), ’tis a wonderful man, and my friends Hobhouse and Rose both swear by him; and they are good judges of men and of Italian humanity.
‘Here are in all two worthy voices gain’d:’
Gifford says it is good ‘sterling genuine English,’ and Foscolo says that the characters are right Venetian. Shakspeare and Otway had a million of advantages over me, besides the incalculable one of being dead from one to two centuries, and having been both born blackguards (which are such attractions to the gentle living reader); let me then preserve the only one which I could possibly have—that of having been at Venice, and entered more into the local spirit of it. I claim no more.

“I know what Foscolo means about Calendaro’s spitting at Bertram; that’s national—the objection, I mean. The Italians and French, with those ‘flags of abomination,’ their pocket handkerchiefs, spit there, and here, and every where else—in your face almost, and therefore object to it on the stage as too familiar. But we who spit nowhere—but in a man’s face when we grow savage—are not likely to feel this. Remember Massinger, and Kean’s Sir Giles Overreach—
‘Lord! thus I spit at thee and at thy counsel!’
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 351
Besides, Calendaro does not spit in Bertram’s face; he spits at him, as I have seen the Mussulmans do upon the ground when they are in a rage. Again, he does not in fact despise Bertram, though he affects it,—as we all do, when angry with one we think our inferior. He is angry at not being allowed to die in his own way (although not afraid of death); and recollect that he suspected and hated Bertram from the first. Israel Bertuccio, on the other hand, is a cooler and more concentrated fellow: he acts upon principle and impulse; Calendaro upon impulse and example.

“So there’s argument for you.

“The Doge repeats;—true, but it is from engrossing passion, and because he sees different persons, and is always obliged to recur to the cause uppermost in his mind. His speeches are long;—true, but I wrote for the closet, and on the French and Italian model rather than yours, which I think not very highly of, for all your old dramatists, who are long enough too, God knows:—look into any of them.

“I return you Foscolo’s letter, because it alludes also to his private affairs. I am sorry to see such a man in straits, because I know what they are, or what they were. I never met but three men who would have held out a finger to me: one was yourself, the other William Bankes, and the other a nobleman long ago dead: but of these the first was the only one who offered it while I really wanted it; the second from goodwill—but I was not in need of Bankes’s aid, and would not have accepted it if I had (though flove and esteem him);—and the third — *.

“So you see that I have seen some strange things in my time. As for your own offer, it was in 1815, when I was in actual uncertainty of five pounds. I rejected it; but I have not forgotten it, although you probably have.

“P.S. Foscolo’s Ricciardo was lent, with the leaves uncut, to some Italians, now in villeggiatura, so that I have had no opportunity of hearing their decision, or of reading it. They seized on it as Foscolo’s, and on account of the beauty of the paper and printing, directly. If I find it takes, I will reprint it here. The Italians think as highly of Foscolo

* The paragraph is left thus imperfect in the original.

352 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
as they can of any man, divided and miserable as they are, and with neither leisure at present to read, nor head nor heart to judge of any thing but extracts from French newspapers and the
Lugano Gazette.

“We are all looking at one another, like wolves on their prey in pursuit, only waiting for the first falling on to do unutterable things. They are a great world in chaos, or angels in hell, which you please; but out of chaos came paradise, and out of hell—I don’t know what; but the devil went in there, and he was a fine fellow once, you know.

“You need never favour me with any periodical publication, except the Edinburgh, Quarterly, and an occasional Blackwood; or now and then a Monthly Review: for the rest I do not feel curiosity enough to look beyond their covers.

“To be sure I took in the Editor of the British finely. He fell precisely into the glaring trap laid for him. It was inconceivable how he could be so absurd as to imagine us serious with him.

“Recollect, that if you put my name to ‘Don Juan’ in these canting days, any lawyer might oppose my guardian right of my daughter in chancery, on the plea of its containing the parody;—such are the perils of a foolish jest. I was not aware of this at the time, but you will find it correct, I believe; and you may be sure that the Noels would not let it slip. Now I prefer my child to a poem at any time, and so should you, as having half a dozen.

“Let me know your notions.

“If you turn over the earlier pages of the Huntingdon peerage story, you will see how common a name Ada was in the early Plantagenet days. I found it in my own pedigree in the reign of John and Henry, and gave it to my daughter. It was also the name of Charlemagne’s sister. It is in an early chapter of Genesis, as the name of the wife of Lamech; and I suppose Ada is the feminine of Adam. It is short, ancient, vocalic, and had been in my family; for which reason I gave it to my daughter.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 353
“Ravenna, 8bre 12°, 1820.

By land and sea carriage a considerable quantity of books have arrived; and I am obliged and grateful but ‘medio de fonte leporum, surgit amari aliquid,’ &c. &c which, being interpreted, means,
I’m thankful for your books, dear Murray;
But why not send Scott’s Monastery?
the only book in four living volumes I would give a baioccolo to see—’bating the rest of the same author, and an occasional
Edinburgh and Quarterly, as brief chroniclers of the times. Instead of this, here are Johnny Keats’s * * poetry, and three novels, by God knows whom, except that there is Peg * * *’s name to one of them—a spinster whom I thought we had sent back to her spinning. Crayon is very good; Hogg’s Tales rough, but racy, and welcome.

“Books of travels are expensive, and I don’t want them, having travelled already; besides, they lie. Thank the author of ‘the Profligate’ for his (or her) present. Pray send me no more poetry but what is rare and decidedly good. There is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables that I am ashamed to look at them. I say nothing against your parsons, your S * * s and your C * * s—it is all very fine—but pray dispense me from the pleasure. Instead of poetry, if you will favour me with a few soda-powders, I shall be delighted: but all prose (‘bating travels and novels not by Scott) is welcome, especially Scott’s Tales of My Landlord, and so on.

“In the notes to Marino Faliero, it may be as well to say that ‘Benintende’ was not really of the Ten, but merely Grand Chancellor, a separate office (although important); it was an arbitrary alteration of mine. The Doges too were all buried in St. Marks’s before Faliero. It is singular that when his predecessor, Andrea Dandolo, died, the Ten made a law that all the future Doges should be buried with their families, in their own churches,—one would think by a kind of presentiment. So that all that is said of his ancestral Doges, as buried at St. John’s and Paul’s, is altered
354 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
from the fact, they being in St. Mark’s. Make a note of this, and put Editor as the subscription to it.

“As I make such pretensions to accuracy, I should not like to be twitted even with such trifles on that score. Of the play they may say what they please, but not so of my costume and dram. pers., they having been real existences.

“I omitted Foscolo in my list of living Venetian worthies, in the notes, considering him as an Italian in general, and not a mere provincial like the rest; and as an Italian I have spoken of him in the preface to canto 4th of Childe Harold.

“The French translation of us!!! oimè! oimè!—and the German; but I don’t understand the latter, and his long dissertation at the end about the Fausts. Excuse haste. Of politics it is not safe to speak, but nothing is decided as yet.

“I am in a very fierce humour at not having Scott’s Monastery. You are too liberal in quantity, and somewhat careless of the quality, of your missives. All the Quarterlies (four in number) I had had before from you, and two of the Edinburgh; but no matter; we shall have new ones by and by. No more Keats, I entreat:—flay him alive; if some of you don’t, I must skin him myself. There is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the manikin.

“I don’t feel inclined to care further about ‘Don Juan.’ What do you think a very pretty Italian lady said to me the other day? She had read it in the French, and paid me some compliments, with due drawbacks, upon it. I answered that what she said was true, but that I suspected it would live longer than Childe Harold.—‘Ah but’ (said she) ‘I would rather have the fame of Childe Harold for three years than an immorality of Don Juan!’ The truth is that it is too true, and the women hate many things which strip off the tinsel of sentiment; and they are right, as it would rob them of their weapons. I never knew a woman who did not hate De Grammont’s Memoirs for the same reason: even Lady * * used to abuse them.

Rose’s work I never received. It was seized at Venice. Such is the liberality of the Huns, with their two hundred thousand men, that they dare not let such a volume as his circulate.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 355
“Ravenna, 8bre 16°, 1820.

The Abbot has just arrived; many thanks; as also for the Monasterywhen you send it!!!

The Abbot will have a more than ordinary interest for me, for an ancestor of mine by the mother’s side, Sir J. Gordon of Gight, the handsomest of his day, died on a scaffold at Aberdeen for his loyalty to Mary, of whom he was an imputed paramour as well as her relation. His fate was much commented on in the Chronicles of the times. If I mistake not, he had something to do with her escape from Loch Leven, or with her captivity there. But this you will know better than I.

“I recollect Loch Leven as it were but yesterday. I saw it in my way to England in 1798, being then ten years of age. My mother, who was as haughty as Lucifer with her descent from the Stuarts, and her right line from the old Gordons, not the Seyton Gordons, as she disdainfully termed the ducal branch, told me the story, always reminding me how superior her Gordons were to the southern Byrons,—notwithstanding our Norman, and always masculine descent, which has never lapsed into a female, as my mother’s Gordons had done in her own person.

“I have written to you so often lately that the brevity of this will be welcome.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, 8bre 17°, 1820.

“Enclosed is the Dedication of Marino Faliero to Goëthe. Query,—is his title Baron or not? I think yes. Let me know your opinion, and so forth.

“P.S. Let me know what Mr. Hobhouse and you have decided about the two prose letters and their publication.

356 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.

I enclose you an Italian abstract of the German translator of Manfred’s Appendix, in which you will perceive quoted what Goëthe says of the whole body of English poetry (and not of me in particular). On this the Dedication is founded, as you will perceive, though I had thought of it before, for I look upon him as a great man.”

The very singular Dedication transmitted with this letter has never before been published, nor, as far as I can learn, ever reached the hands of the illustrious German. It is written in the poet’s most whimsical and mocking mood; and the unmeasured severity poured out in it upon the two favourite objects of his wrath and ridicule compels me to deprive the reader of some of its most amusing passages.


“In the Appendix to an English work lately translated into German and published at Leipsic, a judgment of yours upon English poetry is quoted as follows: ‘That in English poetry, great genius, universal power, a feeling of profundity, with sufficient tenderness and force, are to be found; but that altogether these do not constitute poets,’ &c. &c.

“I regret to see a great man falling into a great mistake. This opinion of yours only proves that the ‘Dictionary of ten thousand living English authors’ has not been translated into German. You will have read, in your friend Schlegel’s version, the dialogue in Macbeth
‘There are ten thousand!
Macbeth. Geese, villain?
Answer.Authors, sir’
Now, of these ‘ten thousand authors,’ there are actually nineteen hundred and eighty-seven poets, all alive at this moment, whatever their works may be, as their booksellers well know; and amongst these there are several who possess a far greater reputation than mine, although considerably less than yours. It is owing to this neglect on the part of your German translators that you are not aware of the works of * * * * * * * *.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 357

“There is also another, named * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *.

“I mention these poets by way of sample to enlighten you. They form but two bricks of our Babel (Windsor bricks, by the way), but may serve for a specimen of the building.

“It is, moreover, asserted that ‘the predominant character of the whole body of the present English poetry is a disgust and contempt for life.’ But I rather suspect that, by one single work of prose, you yourself have excited a greater contempt for life than all the English volumes of poesy that ever were written. Madame de Staël says, that ‘Werther has occasioned more suicides than the most beautiful woman;’ and I really believe that he has put more individuals out of this world than Napoleon himself,—except in the way of his profession. Perhaps Illustrious Sir, the acrimonious judgment passed by a celebrated northern journal upon you in particular, and the Germans in general, has rather indisposed you towards English poetry as well as criticism. But you must not regard our critics, who are at bottom good-natured fellows, considering their two professions,—taking up the law in court, and laying it down out of it. No one can more lament their hasty and unfair judgment, in your particular, than I do; and I so expressed myself to your friend Schlegel, in 1816, at Coppet.

“In behalf of my ‘ten thousand’ living brethren, and of myself, I have thus far taken notice of an opinion expressed with regard to ‘English poetry’ in general, and which merited notice, because it was yours.

“My principal object in addressing you was to testify my sincere respect and admiration of a man, who, for half a century, has led the literature of a great nation, and will go down to posterity as the first literary character of his age.

“You have been fortunate, sir, not only in the writings which have illustrated your name, but in the name itself, as being sufficiently musical for the articulation of posterity. In this you have the advantage of some of your countrymen, whose names would perhaps be immortal also—if any body could pronounce them.

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“It may, perhaps, be supposed, by this apparent tone of levity, that I am wanting in intentional respect towards you; but this will be a mistake: I am always flippant in prose. Considering you, as I really and warmly do, in common with all your own, and with most other nations, to be by far the first literary character which has existed in Europe since the death of Voltaire, I felt, and feel, desirous to inscribe to you the following work,—not as being either a tragedy or a poem (for I cannot pronounce upon its pretensions to be either one or the other, or both, or neither), but as a mark of esteem and admiration from a foreigner to the man who has been hailed in Germany ‘the great Goëthe.’

“I have the honour to be,
“with the truest respect,
“your most obedient
“and very humble servant,
“Ravenna, 8bre 14°, 1820.

“P.S. I perceive that in Germany, as well as in Italy, there is a great struggle about what they call ‘Classical’ and ‘Romantic,’—terms which were not subjects of classification in England, at least when I left it four or five years ago. Some of the English scribblers, it is true, abused Pope and Swift, but the reason was that they themselves did not know how to write either prose or verse; but nobody thought them worth making a sect of. Perhaps there may be something of the kind sprung up lately, but I have not heard much about it, and it would be such bad taste that I shall be very sorry to believe it.”

“Ravenna, October 17th, 1820.

“You owe me two letters—pay them. I want to know what you are about. The summer is over, and you will be back to Paris. Apropos of Paris, it was not Sophia Gail, but Sophia Gay—the English
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 359
word Gay—who was my correspondent†. Can you tell who she is, as you did of the defunct * *?

“Have you gone on with your Poem? I have received the French of mine. Only think of being traduced into a foreign language in such an abominable travesty! It is useless to rail, but one can’t help it.

“Have you got my Memoir copied? I have begun a continuation. Shall I send it you, as far as it is gone?

“I can’t say any thing to you about Italy, for the Government here look upon me with a suspicious eye, as I am well informed. Pretty fellows!—as if I, a solitary stranger, could do any mischief. It is because I am fond of rifle and pistol shooting, I believe; for they took the alarm at the quantity of cartridges I consumed—the wiseacres!

“You don’t deserve a long letter—nor a letter at all—for your silence. You have got a new Bourbon, it seems, whom they have christened ‘Dieu-donné;’—perhaps the honour of the present may be disputed. Did you write the good lines on ——, the Laker? * *

“The Queen has made a pretty theme for the journals. Was there ever such evidence published? Why, it is worse than ‘Little’s Poems’ or ‘Don Juan.’ If you don’t write soon, I will ‘make you a speech.’

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, 8bre 25, 1820.

“Pray forward the enclosed to Lady Byron. It is on business.

“In thanking you for the Abbot, I made four grand mistakes. Sir John Gordon was not of Gight, but of Bogagicht, and a son of Huntley’s. He suffered not for his loyalty, but in an insurrection. He had nothing to do with Loch Leven, having been dead some time at the period of the Queen’s confinement: and, fourthly, I am not sure that

† I had mistaken the name of the lady he inquired after, and reported her to him as dead. But, on the receipt of the above letter, I discovered that his correspondent was Madame Sophie Gay, mother of the celebrated poetess and beauty, Mademoiselle Delphine Gay.

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he was the Queen’s paramour or no, for
Robertson does not allude to this, though Walter Scott does, in the list he gives of her admirers (as unfortunate) at the close of ‘the Abbot.’

“I must have made all these mistakes in recollecting my mother’s account of the matter, although she was more accurate than I am, being precise upon points of genealogy, like all the aristocratical Scotch. She had a long list of ancestors, like Sir Lucius O’Trigger’s, most of whom are to be found in the old Scotch Chronicles, Spalding, &c. in arms and doing mischief. I remember well passing Loch Leven, as well as the Queen’s Ferry: we were on our way to England in 1798.


“You had better not publish Blackwood and the Roberts’ prose, except what regards Pope;—you have let the time slip by.”

The Pamphlet in answer to Blackwood’s Magazine, here mentioned, was occasioned by an article in that work entitled “Remarks on Don Juan,” and, though put to press by Mr. Murray, was never published. The writer in the Magazine having, in reference to certain passages in Don Juan, taken occasion to pass some severe strictures on the author’s matrimonial conduct, Lord Byron, in his reply, enters at some length into that painful subject; and the following extracts from his defence—if defence it can be called, where there has never yet been any definite charge,—will be perused with strong interest.

“My learned brother proceeds to observe, that ‘it is in vain for Lord B. to attempt in any way to justify his own behaviour in that affair; and now that he has so openly and audaciously invited inquiry and reproach, we do not see any good reason why he should not be plainly told so by the voice of his countrymen.’ How far the ‘openness’ of an anonymous poem, and the ‘audacity’ of an imaginary character, which the writer supposes to be meant for Lady B., may be deemed to merit this formidable denunciation from their ‘most sweet voices,’ I neither know nor care; but when he tells me that I cannot ‘in any way justify my own behaviour in that affair,’ I acquiesce, because no man
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can ‘justify’ himself until he knows of what he is accused; and I have never had—and, God knows, my whole desire has ever been to obtain it—any specific charge, in a tangible shape, submitted to me by the adversary, nor by others, unless the atrocities of public rumour and the mysterious silence of the lady’s legal advisers may be deemed such. But is not the writer content with what has been already said and done? Has not ‘the general voice of his countrymen’ long ago pronounced upon the subject—sentence without trial, and condemnation without a charge? Have I not been exiled by ostracism, except that the shells which proscribed me were anonymous? Is the writer ignorant of the public opinion and the public conduct upon that occasion? If he is, I am not: the public will forget both long before I shall cease to remember either.

“The man who is exiled by a faction has the consolation of thinking that he is a martyr; he is upheld by hope and the dignity of his cause, real or imaginary: he who withdraws from the pressure of debt may indulge in the thought that time and prudence will retrieve his circumstances: he who is condemned by the law has a term to his banishment, or a dream of its abbreviation; or, it may be, the knowledge or the belief of some injustice of the law, or of its administration in his own particular: but he who is outlawed by general opinion, without the intervention of hostile politics, illegal judgment, or embarrassed circumstances, whether he be innocent or guilty, must undergo all the bitterness of exile, without hope, without pride, without alleviation. This case was mine. Upon what grounds the public founded their opinion, I am not aware; but it was general, and it was decisive. Of me or of mine they knew little, except that I had written what is called poetry, was a nobleman, had married, became a father, and was involved in differences with my wife and her relatives, no one knew why, because the persons complaining refused to state their grievances. The fashionable world was divided into parties, mine consisting of a very small minority: the reasonable

* While these sheets are passing through the press, a printed statement has been transmitted to me by Lady Noel Byron, which the reader will find inserted in the Appendix to this volume.

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world was naturally on the stronger side, which happened to be the lady’s, as was most proper and polite. The press was active and scurrilous; and such was the rage of the day, that the unfortunate publication of two copies of verses, rather complimentary than otherwise to the subjects of both, was tortured into a species of crime, or constructive petty treason. I was accused of every monstrous vice by public rumour and private rancour: my name, which had been a knightly or a noble one since my fathers helped to conquer the kingdom for William the Norman, was tainted. I felt that, if what was whispered, and muttered, and murmured, was true, I was unfit for England; if false, England was unfit for me. I withdrew: but this was not enough. In other countries, in Switzerland, in the shadow of the Alps, and by the blue depth of the lakes, I was pursued and breathed upon by the same blight. I crossed the mountains, but it was the same; so I went a little farther, and settled myself by the waves of the Adriatic, like the stag at bay, who betakes him to the waters.

“If I may judge by the statements of the few friends who gathered round me, the outcry of the period to which I allude was beyond all precedent, all parallel, even in those cases where political motives have sharpened slander and doubled enmity. I was advised not to go to the theatres, lest I should be hissed, nor to my duty in parliament, lest I should be insulted by the way; even on the day of my departure, my most intimate friend told me afterwards that he was under apprehensions of violence from the people who might be assembled at the door of the carriage. However, I was not deterred by these counsels from seeing Kean in his best characters, nor from voting according to my principles: and, with regard to the third and last apprehensions of my friends, I could not share in them, not being made acquainted with their extent till some time after I had crossed the Channel. Even if I had been so, I am not of a nature to be much affected by men’s anger, though I may feel hurt by their aversion. Against all individual outrage, I could protect or redress myself; and against that of a crowd. I should probably have been enabled to defend myself, with the assistance of others, as has been done on similar occasions.

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“I retired from the country, perceiving that I was the object of general obloquy; I did not indeed imagine, like Jean Jacques Rousseau, that all mankind was in a conspiracy against me, though I had perhaps as good grounds for such a chimera as ever he had: but I perceived that I had to a great extent become personally obnoxious in England, perhaps through my own fault, but the fact was indisputable; the public in general would hardly have been so much excited against a more popular character, without at least an accusation or a charge of some kind actually expressed or substantiated, for I can hardly conceive that the common and every-day occurrence of a separation between man and wife could in itself produce so great a ferment. I shall say nothing of the usual complaints of ‘being prejudged,’ ‘condemned unheard,’ ‘unfairness,’ ‘partiality,’ and so forth, the usual changes rung by parties who have had, or are to have, a trial; but I was a little surprised to find myself condemned without being favoured with the act of accusation, and to perceive in the absence of this portentous charge or charges, whatever it or they were to be, that every possible or impossible crime was rumoured to supply its place, and taken for granted. This could only occur in the case of a person very much disliked, and I knew no remedy, having already used to their extent whatever little powers I might possess of pleasing in society. I had no party in fashion, though I was afterwards told that there was one—but it was not of my formation, nor did I then know of its existence—none in literature; and in politics I had voted with the Whigs, with precisely that importance which a Whig vote possesses in these Tory days, and with such personal acquaintance with the leaders in both houses as the society in which I lived sanctioned, but without claim or expectation of any thing like friendship from any one, except a few young men of my own age and standing, and a few others more advanced in life, which last it had been my fortune to serve in circumstances of difficulty. This was, in fact, to stand alone: and I recollect, some time after, Madame de Staël said to me in Switzerland, ‘You should not have warred with the world—it will not do—it is too strong always for any individual: I myself once tried it in early life, but it will not do.’ I perfectly acquiesce in the truth of this remark; but the world had done me the honour to begin the war; and, assuredly, if peace is only to be
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obtained by courting and paying tribute to it, I am not qualified to obtain its countenance. I thought, in the words of
‘Then wed thee to an exiled lot,
And if the world hath loved thee not,
Its absence may be borne.’

“I recollect, however, that having been much hurt by Romilly’s conduct (he, having a general retainer for me, had acted as adviser to the adversary, alleging, on being reminded of his retainer, that he had forgotten it, as his clerk had so many), I observed that some of those who were now eagerly laying the axe to my roof-tree, might see their own shaken, and feel a portion of what they had inflicted.—His fell, and crushed him.

“I have heard of, and believe, that there are human beings so constituted as to be insensible to injuries; but I believe that the best mode to avoid taking vengeance is to get out of the way of temptation. I hope that I may never have the opportunity, for I am not quite sure that I could resist it, having derived from my mother something of the ‘perfervidum ingenium Scotorurm.’ I have not sought, and shall not seek it, and perhaps it may never come in my path. I do not in this allude to the party, who might be right or wrong; but to many who made her cause the pretext of their own bitterness. She, indeed, must have long avenged me in her own feelings, for whatever her reasons may have been (and she never adduced them to me at least), she probably neither contemplated nor conceived to what she became the means of conducting the father of her child, and the husband of her choice.

“So much for ‘the general voice of his countrymen:’ I will now speak of some in particular.

“In the beginning of the year 1817, an article appeared in the Quarterly Review, written, I believe, by Walter Scott, doing great honour to him, and no disgrace to me, though both poetically and personally more than sufficiently favourable to the work and the author of whom it treated. It was written at a time when a selfish man would not, and a timid one dared not, have said a word in favour of either; it was written by one to whom temporary public opinion had elevated me
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 365
to the rank of a rival—a proud distinction, and unmerited; but which has not prevented me from feeling as a friend, nor him from more than corresponding to that sentiment. The article in question was written upon the Third Canto of
Childe Harold, and after many observations, which it would as ill become me to repeat as to forget, concluded with ‘a hope that I might yet return to England.’ How this expression was received in England itself I am not acquainted, but it gave great offence at Rome to the respectable ten or twenty thousand English travellers then and there assembled. I did not visit Rome till some time after, so that I had no opportunity of knowing the fact; but I was informed, long afterwards, that the greatest indignation had been manifested in the enlightened Anglo-circle of that year, which happened to comprise within it—amidst a considerable leaven of Welbeck-street and Devonshire-place, broken loose upon their travels several really well-born and well-bred families, who did not the less participate in the feeling of the hour. ‘Why should he return to England?’ was the general exclamation—I answer why? It is a question I have occasionally asked myself, and I never yet could give it a satisfactory reply. I had then no thoughts of returning, and if I have any now, they are of business, and not of pleasure. Amidst the ties that have been dashed to pieces, there are links yet entire, though the chain itself be broken. There are duties, and connexions, which may one day require my presence—and I am a father. I have still some friends whom I wish to meet again, and, it may be, an enemy. These things, and those minuter details of business, which time accumulates during absence, in every man’s affairs and property, may, and probably will, recall me to England; but I shall return with the same feelings with which I left it, in respect to itself, though altered with regard to individuals, as I have been more or less informed of their conduct since my departure; for it was only a considerable time after it that I was made acquainted with the real facts and full extent of some of their proceedings and language. My friends, like other friends, from conciliatory motives, withheld from me much that they could, and some things which they should have unfolded; however, that which is deferred is not lost—but it has been no fault of mine that it has been deferred at all.

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“I have alluded to what is said to have passed at Rome merely to show that the sentiment which I have described was not confined to the English in England, and as forming part of my answer to the reproach cast upon what has been called my ‘selfish exile,’ and my ‘voluntary exile.’ ‘Voluntary’ it has been; for who would dwell among a people entertaining strong hostility against him? How far it has been ‘selfish’ has been already explained.”

The following passages from the same unpublished pamphlet will be found, in a literary point of view, not less curious.

“And here I wish to say a few words on the present state of English poetry. That this is the age of the decline of English poetry will be doubted by few who have calmly considered the subject. That there are men of genius among the present poets makes little against the fact, because it has been well said, that ‘next to him who forms the taste of his country, the greatest genius is he who corrupts it.’ No one has ever denied genius to Marino, who corrupted not merely the taste of Italy, but that of all Europe for nearly a century. The great cause of the present deplorable state of English poetry is to be attributed to that absurd and systematic depreciation of Pope, in which, for the last few years, there has been a kind of epidemical concurrence. Men of the most opposite opinions have united upon this topic. Warton and Churchill began it, having borrowed the hint probably from the heroes of the Dunciad, and their own internal conviction that their proper reputation can be as nothing till the most perfect and harmonious of poets—he who, having no fault, has had reason made his reproach—was reduced to what they conceived to be his level; but even they dared not degrade him below Dryden. Goldsmith, and Rogers, and Campbell, his most successful disciples; and Hayley, who, however feeble, has left one poem ‘that will not be willingly let die,’ (the Triumphs of Temper,) kept up the reputation of that pure and perfect style; and Crabbe, the first of living poets, has almost equalled the master. Then came Darwin, who was put down by a single poem in the Antijacobin; and the Cruscans, from Merry to Jerningham, who
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were annihilated (if Nothing can be said to be annihilated) by
Gifford, the last of the wholesome English satirists.

* * * * * *

“These three personages, S * *, W * *, and C * *, had all of them a very natural antipathy to Pope, and I respect them for it, as the only original feeling or principle which they have contrived to preserve. But they have been joined in it by those who have joined them in nothing else: by the Edinburgh Reviewers, by the whole heterogeneous mass of living English poets, excepting Crabbe, Rogers, Gifford, and Campbell, who, both by precept and practice, have proved their adherence; and by me, who have shamefully deviated in practice, but have ever loved and honoured Pope’s poetry with my whole soul, and hope to do so till my dying day. I would rather see all I have ever written lining the same trunk in which I actually read the eleventh book of a modern Epic poem at Malta in 1811, (I opened it to take out a change after the paroxysm of a tertian, in the absence of my servant and found it lined with the name of the maker, Eyre, Cockspur-street, and with the Epic poetry alluded to,) than sacrifice what I firmly believe in as the Christianity of English poetry, the poetry of Pope.

* * * * * *

“Nevertheless, I will not go so far as * * in his postscript, who pretends that no great poet ever had immediate fame, which, being interpreted, means that * * is not quite so much read by his cotemporaries as might be desirable. This assertion is as false as it is foolish. Homer’s glory depended upon his present popularity:—he recited,—and, without the strongest impression of the moment, who would have gotten the Iliad by heart, and. given it to tradition? Ennius, Terence, Plautus, Lucretius, Horace, Virgil, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Sappho, Anacreon, Theocritus, all the great poets of antiquity, were the delight of their cotemporaries†. The very existence of a poet, previous to the

† As far as regards the poets of ancient times, this assertion is, perhaps, right; though, if there be any truth in what Ælian and Seneca have left on record, of the obscurity, during their lifetime, of such men as Socrates and Epicurus, it would seem to prove that, among the ancients, contemporary fame was a far more rare reward of literary or philosophical eminence than among us moderns. When the “Clouds” of Aristophanes was exhibited before the

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invention of printing, depended upon his present popularity; and how often has it impaired his future fame? Hardly ever. History informs us, that the best have come down to us. The reason is evident; the most popular found the greatest number of transcribers for their MSS., and that the taste of their cotemporaries was corrupt can hardly be avouched by the moderns, the mightiest of whom have but barely approached them.
Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, and Tasso, were all the darlings of the cotemporary reader. Dante’s Poem was celebrated long before his death; and, not long after it, States negotiated for his ashes, and disputed for the sites of the composition of the Divina Commedia. Petrarch was crowned in the Capitol. Ariosto was permitted to pass free by the public robber who had read the Orlando Furioso. I would not recommend Mr. * * to try the same experiment with his Smugglers. Tasso, notwithstanding the criticisms of the Cruscanti, would have been crowned in the Capitol, but for his death.

“It is easy to prove the immediate popularity of the chief poets of the only modern nation in Europe that has a poetical language, the Italian. In our own, Shakspeare, Spenser, Jonson, Waller, Dryden, Congreve, Pope, Young, Shenstone, Thomson, Johnson, Goldsmith, Gray, were all as popular in their lives as since. Gray’s Elegy pleased instantly, and eternally. His Odes did not, nor yet do they please like his Elegy. Milton’s politics kept him down; but the Epigram of Dryden, and the very sale of his work, in proportion to the less reading time of its publication, prove him to have been honoured by his cotemporaries. I will venture to assert, that the sale of the Paradise Lost was greater in the first four years after its publication than that of ‘the Excursion’ in the same number, with the difference of nearly a century and a half between them of time, and of thousands in point of general readers.

assembled deputies of the towns of Attica, these personages, as Ælian tells us, were unanimously of opinion, that the character of an unknown person, called Socrates, was uninteresting upon the stage; and Seneca has given the substance of an authentic letter of Epicurus, in which that philosopher declares that nothing hurt him go much, in the midst of all his happiness, as to think that Greece,—“illa nobills Græcia,”—so far from knowing him, had scarcely even heard of his existence.—Epist. 79.

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* * * * * *

“It may be asked, why, having this opinion of the present state of poetry in England, and having had it long, as my friends and others well know—possessing, or having possessed too, as a writer, the ear of the public for the time being—I have not adopted a different plan in my own compositions, and endeavoured to correct rather than encourage the taste of the day. To this I would answer, that it is easier to perceive the wrong than to pursue the right, and that I have never contemplated the prospect ‘of filling (with Peter Bell, see its Preface) permanently a station in the literature of the country.’ Those who know me best, know this, and that I have been considerably astonished at the temporary success of my works, having flattered no person and no party, and expressed opinions which are not those of the general reader. Could I have anticipated the degree of attention which has been accorded, assuredly I would have studied more to deserve it. But I have lived in far countries abroad, or in the agitating world at home, which was not favourable to study or reflection; so that almost all I have written has been mere passion,—passion, it is true, of different kinds, but always passion: for in me (if it be not an Irishism to say so) my indifference was a kind of passion, the result of experience, and not the philosophy of nature. Writing grows a habit, like a woman’s gallantry: there are women who have had no intrigue, but few who have had but one only: so there are millions of men who have never written a book, but few who have written only one. And thus, having written once, I wrote on; encouraged no doubt by the success of the moment, yet by no means anticipating its duration, and I will venture to say, scarcely even wishing it. But then I did other things besides write, which by no means contributed either to improve my writings or my prosperity.

* * * * * *

“I have thus expressed publicly upon the poetry of the day the opinion I have long entertained and expressed of it to all who have asked it, and to some who would rather not have heard it; as I told Moore not very long ago, ‘we are all wrong except Rogers, Crabbe, and Campbell†.’

† I certainly ventured to differ from the judgment of my noble friend, no less in his attempts to depreciate that peculiar walk of the art in which he himself an grandly trod, than in

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Without being old in years, I am old in days, and do not feel the adequate spirit within me to attempt a work which should show what I think right in poetry, and must content myself with having denounced what is wrong. There are, I trust, younger spirits rising up in England, who, escaping the contagion which has swept away poetry from our literature, will recall it to their country, such as it once was and may still be.

“In the mean time, the best sign of amendment will be repentance, and new and frequent editions of Pope and Dryden.

“There will be found as comfortable metaphysics, and ten times more poetry in the ‘Essay on Man,’ than in the ‘Excursion.’ If you search for passion, where is it to be found stronger than in the epistle from Eloisa to Abelard, or in Palamon and Arcite? Do you wish for invention, imagination, sublimity, character? seek them in the Rape of the Lock, the Fables of Dryden, the Ode on Saint Cecilia’s Day, and Absalom and Achitophel; you will discover in these two poets only, all for which you must ransack innumerable metres, and God only knows how many writers of the day, without finding a tittle of the same qualities,—with the addition, too, of wit, of which the latter have none. I have not, however, forgotten Thomas Brown the Younger, nor the Fudge Family, nor Whistlecraft; but that is not wit—it is humour. I will say nothing of the harmony of Pope and Dryden in comparison, for there is not a living poet (except Rogers, Gifford, Campbell, and Crabbe,) who can write an heroic couplet. The fact is, that the exquisite beauty of their versification has withdrawn the public attention from their other excellencies, as the vulgar eye will rest more upon the splendour of the uniform than the quality of the troops. It is this very

the inconsistency of which I thought him guilty, in condemning all those who stood up for particular “schools” of poetry, and yet, at the same time, maintaining so exclusive a theory of the art himself. How little, however, he attended to either the grounds or degrees of my dissent from him, will appear by the following wholesale report of my opinion, in his “Detached Thoughts:”

“One of my notions different from those of my contemporaries, is, that the present is not a high age of English poetry. There are more poets (soi-disant) than ever there were, and proportionally less poetry.

“This thesis I have maintained for some years, but, strange to say, it meeteth not with favour from my brethren of the shell. Even Moore shakes his head, and firmly believes that it is the grand age of British poesy.”

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harmony, particularly in Pope, which has raised the vulgar and atrocious cant against him:—because his versification is perfect, it is assumed that it is his only perfection; because his truths are so clear, it is asserted that he has no invention; and because he is always intelligible, it is taken for granted that he has no genius. We are sneeringly told that he is the ‘Poet of Reason,’ as if this was a reason for his being no poet. Taking passage for passage, I will undertake to cite more lines teeming with imagination from Pope than from any two living poets, be they who they may. To take an instance at random from a species of composition not very favourable to imagination—Satire: set down the character of
Sporus, with all the wonderful play of fancy which is scattered over it, and place by its side an equal number of verses, from any two existing poets, of the same power and the same variety—where will you find them?

“I merely mention one instance of many in reply to the injustice done to the memory of him who harmonized our poetical language. The attorneys’ clerks, and other self-educated genii, found it easier to distort themselves to the new models than to toil after the symmetry of him who had enchanted their fathers. They were besides smitten by being told that the new school were to revive the language of Queen Elizabeth, the true English; as every body in the reign of Queen Anne wrote no better than French, by a species of literary treason.

“Blank verse, which, unless in the drama, no one except Milton ever wrote who could rhyme, became the order of the day,—or else such rhyme as looked still blanker than the verse without it. I am aware that Johnson has said, after some hesitation, that he could not ‘prevail upon himself to wish that Milton had been a rhymer.’ The opinions of that truly great man, whom it is also the present fashion to decry, will ever be received by me with that deference which time will restore to him from all; but, with all humility, I am not persuaded that the Paradise Lost would not have been more nobly conveyed to posterity, not perhaps in heroic couplets, although even they could sustain the subject if well balanced, but in the stanza of Spenser, or of Tasso, or in the terza rima of Dante, which the powers of Milton could easily have grafted on our language. The Seasons of Thomson would have been better in rhyme, although still inferior to his Castle of Indolence; and Mr. Southey’s
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Joan of Arc no worse, although it might have taken up six months instead of weeks in the composition. I recommend also to the lovers of lyrics the perusal of the present laureate’s odes by the side of Dryden’s on Saint Cecilia, but let him be sure to read first those of Mr. Southey.

“To the heaven-born genii and inspired young scriveners of the day much of this will appear paradox; it will appear so even to the higher order of our critics; but it was a truism twenty years ago, and it will be a re-acknowledged truth in ten more. In the mean time, I will conclude with two quotations, both intended for some of my old classical friends who have still enough of Cambridge about them to think themselves honoured by having had John Dryden as a predecessor in their college, and to recollect that their earliest English poetical pleasures were drawn from the ‘little nightingale’ of Twickenham.

“The first is from the notes to the Poem of the ‘Friends*,’ pages 181, 182.

“‘It is only within the last twenty or thirty years that those notable discoveries in criticism have been made which have taught our recent versifiers to undervalue this energetic, melodious, and moral poet. The consequences of this want of due esteem for a writer whom the good sense of our predecessors had raised to his proper station have been numerous and degrading enough. This is not the place to enter into the subject, even as far as it affects our poetical numbers alone, and there is matter of more importance that requires present reflection.’

“The second is from the volume of a young person learning to write poetry, and beginning by teaching the art. Hear him†:

* Written by Lord Byron’s early friend, the Rev. Francis Hodgson.

† The strange verses that follow are from a poem by Keats.—In a manuscript note on this passage of the pamphlet, dated Nov. 12, 1821, Lord Byron says, “Mr. Keats died at Rome about a year after this was written, of a decline produced by his having burst a blood vessel on reading the article on his ‘Endymion’ in the Quarterly Review. I have read the article before and since; and although it is bitter, I do not think that a man should permit himself to be killed by it. But a young man little dreams what he must inevitably encounter in the course of a life ambitious of public notice. My indignation at Mr. Keats’s depreciation of Pope has hardly permitted me to do justice to his own genius. which, malgrè all the fantastic fopperies of his style, was undoubtedly of great promise. His fragment of ‘Hyperion’ seems actually inspired by the Titans, and is as sublime as Æschylus. He is a loss to our literature; and the more so, as he himself, before his death, is said to have

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 373
‘But ye were dead
To things ye knew not of—were closely wed
To musty laws lined out with wretched rule
And compass vile; so that ye taught a school*
Of dolts to smooth, inlay, and chip, and fit,
Till, like the certain wands of Jacob’s wit,
Their verses tallied. Easy was the task:
A thousand handicraftsmen wore the mask
Of poesy. Ill-fated, impious race,
That blasphemed the bright lyrist to his face,
And did not know it; no, they went about
Holding a poor decrepit standard out
Mark’d with most flimsy mottos, and in large
The name of one Boileau!’

“A little before the manner of Pope is termed

‘A scism†,
Nurtured by foppery and barbarism,
Made great Apollo blush for this his land.’

“I thought ‘foppery’ was a consequence of refinement: but n’importe.

“The above will suffice to show the notions entertained by the new performers on the English lyre of him who made it most tunable, and the great improvements of their own variazioni.

“The writer of this is a tadpole of the Lakes, a young disciple of the six or seven new schools, in which he has learnt to write such lines and such sentiments as the above. He says ‘easy was the task’ of imitating Pope, or it may be of equalling him, I presume. I recommend him to try before he is so positive on the subject, and then compare what he will have then written and what he has now written with the humblest and earliest compositions of Pope, produced in ears still more youthful than those of Mr. K. when he invented his new

been persuaded that he had not taken the right line, and was reforming his style upon the more classical models of the language.”

* “It was at least a grammar ‘school.’”

† “So spelt by the author.”

374 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
Essay on Criticism,’ entitled Sleep and Poetry (an ominous title), from whence the above canons are taken. Pope’s was written at nineteen, and published at twenty-two.

“Such are the triumphs of the new schools, and such their scholars. The disciples of Pope were Johnson, Goldsmith, Rogers, Campbell, Crabbe, Gifford, Matthias, Hayley, and the author of the Paradise of Coquettes; to whom may be added Richards, Heber, Wrangham, Bland, Hodgson, Merivale, and others who have not had their full fame, because ‘the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,’ and because there is a fortune in fame as in all other things. Now of all the new schools—I say all, for, ‘like Legion, they are many’—has there appeared a single scholar who has not made his master ashamed of him? unless it be * *, who has imitated every body, and occasionally surpassed his models. Scott found peculiar favour and imitation among the fair sex: there was Miss Holford, and Miss Mitford, and Miss Francis; but with the greatest respect be it spoken, none of his imitators did much honour to the original except Hogg, the Ettrick shepherd, until the appearance of ‘The Bridal of Triermain,’ and ‘Harold the Dauntless,’ which in the opinion of some equalled if not surpassed him; and lo! after three or four years they turned out to be the Master’s own compositions. Have Southey, or Coleridge, or Wordsworth, made a follower of renown? Wilson never did well till he set up for himself in the ‘City of the Plague.’ Has Moore, or any other living writer of reputation, had a tolerable imitator, or rather disciple? Now it is remarkable that almost all the followers of Pope, whom I have named, have produced beautiful and standard works, and it was not the number of his imitators who finally hurt his fame, but the despair of imitation, and the ease of not imitating him sufficiently. This, and the same reason which induced the Athenian burgher to vote for the banishment of Aristides, ‘because he was tired of always hearing him called the Just,’ have produced the temporary exile of Pope from the State of Literature.

But the term of his ostracism will expire, and the sooner the better, not for him, but for those who banished him, and for the coming generation, who

‘Will blush to find their fathers were his foes.’
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 375
“Ravenna, 9bre 4, 1820.

“I have received from Mr. Galignani the enclosed letters, duplicates and receipts, which will explain themselves*. As the poems are your property by purchase, right, and justice, all matters of publication, &c. &c. are for you to decide upon. I know not how far my compliance with Mr. Galignani’s request might be legal, and I doubt that it would not be honest. In case you choose to arrange with him, I enclose the permits to you, and in so doing I wash my hands of the business altogether. I sign them merely to enable you to exert the power you justly possess more properly. I will have nothing to do with it farther, except, in my answer to Mr. Galignani, to state that the letters, &c. &c. are sent to you, and the causes thereof.

“If you can check these foreign pirates, do; if, not, put the permissive papers in the fire. I can have no view nor object whatever, but to secure to you your property.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. I have read part of the Quarterly just arrived: Mr. Bowles shall be answered:—he is not quite correct in his statement about English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. They support Pope, I see, in the Quarterly; let them continue to do so: it is a sin, and a shame, and a damnation to think that Pope!! should require it—but he does. Those miserable mountebanks of the day, the poets, disgrace themselves and deny God in running down Pope, the most faultless of poets, and almost of men.

* Mr. Galignani had applied to Lord Byron with the view of procuring from him such legal right over those works of his Lordship of which he had hitherto been the sole publisher in France, as would enable him to present others, in future, from usurping the same privilege.

376 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
“Ravenna, November 5th, 1820.

“Thanks for your letter, which hath come somewhat costively,—but better late than never. Of it anon. Mr. Galignani, of the Press, hath, it seems, been supplanted and sub-pirated by another Parisian publisher, who has audaciously printed an edition of L. B.’s Works, at the ultra-liberal price of 10 francs, and (as Galignani piteously observes) francs only for booksellers! ‘horresco referens.’ Think of a man’s whole works producing so little!

Galignani sends me, post haste, a permission for him, from me, to publish, &c. &c., which permit I have signed and sent to Mr. Murray, of Albemarle-street. Will you explain to G. that I have no right to dispose of Murray’s works without his leave? and therefore I must refer him to M. to get the permit out of his claws—no easy matter, I suspect. I have written to G. to say as much; but a word of mouth from a ‘great brother author’ would convince him that I could not honestly have complied with his wish, though I might legally. What I could do, I have done, viz. signed the warrant and sent it to Murray. Let the dogs divide the carcass, if it is killed to their liking.

“I am glad of your epigram. It is odd that we should both let our wits run away with our sentiments; for I am sure that we are both Queen’s men at bottom. But there is no resisting a clinch—it is so clever! Apropos of that—we have ‘a diphthong’ also in this part of the world—not a Greek, but a Spanish one—do you understand me?—which is about to blow up the whole alphabet. It was first pronounced at Naples, and is spreading;—but we are nearer the Barbarians; who are in great force on the Po, and will pass it, with the first legitimate pretext.

“There will be the devil to pay, and there is no saying who will or who will not be set down in his bill. If ‘honour should come unlooked for’ to any of your acquaintance, make a Melody of it, that his ghost, like poor Yorick’s, may have the satisfaction of being plaintively pitied—or still more nobly commemorated, like ‘Oh breathe not his name.’
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 377
In case you should not think him worth it, here is a
Chant for you instead—

“When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
Let him combat for that of his neighbours;
Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,
And get knock’d on the head for his labours.
To do good to mankind is the chivalrous plan,
And is always as nobly requited;
Then battle for freedom wherever you can,
And, if not shot or hang’d, you’ll get knighted.

“So you have gotten the letter of ‘Epigrams’—I am glad of it. You will not be so, for I shall send you more. Here is one I wrote for the endorsement of ‘the Deed of Separation’ in 1816; but the lawyers objected to it, as superfluous. It was written as we were getting up the signing and sealing. * * has the original.

“A year ago you swore, fond she!
‘To love, to honour,’ and so forth:
Such was the vow you pledged to me,
And here’s exactly what ’tis worth.

“For the anniversary of January 2, 1821, I have a small grateful anticipation, which, in case of accident, I add—

“This day, of all our days, has done
The worst for me and you:—
’Tis just six years since we were one,
And five since we were two.

“Pray, excuse all this nonsense; for I must talk nonsense just now, for fear of wandering to more serious topics, which, in the present state of things, is not safe by a foreign post.

“I told you, in my last, that I had been going on with the ‘Memoirs,’ and have got as far as twelve more sheets. But I suspect they will be
378 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
interrupted. In that case I will send them on by post, though I feel remorse at making a friend pay so much for postage, for we can’t frank here beyond the frontier.

“I shall be glad to hear of the event of the Queen’s concern. As to the ultimate effect, the most inevitable one to you and me (if they and we live so long) will be that the Miss Moores and Miss Byrons will present us with a great variety of grand-children by different fathers.

“Pray, where did you get hold of Goëthe’s Florentine husband-killing story? upon such matters, in general, I may say, with Beau Clincher, in reply to Errand’s wife—

“‘Oh the villain, he hath murdered my poor Timothy!

“‘Clincher. Damn your Timothy!—I tell you, woman, your husband has murdered me—he has carried away my fine jubilee clothes.’

“So Bowles has been telling a story, too (’tis in the Quarterly), about the woods of ‘Madeira,’ and so forth. I shall be at Bowles again, if he is not quiet. He misstates, or mistakes, in a point or two. The paper is finished, and so is the letter.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, 9bre 9°, 1820.

“The talent you approve of is an amiable one, and might prove a ‘national service,’ but unfortunately I must be angry with a man before I draw his real portrait; and I can’t deal in ‘generals,’ so that I trust never to have provocation enough to make a Gallery. If ‘the parson’ had not by many little dirty sneaking traits provoked it, I should have been silent, though I had observed him. Here follows an alteration: put
“Devil, with such delight in damning,
That if at the resurrection
Unto him the free election
Of his future could be given,
’Twould be rather Hell than heaven;
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 379
that is to say, if these two new lines do not too much lengthen out and weaken the amiability of the original thought and expression. You have a discretionary power about showing. I should think that
Croker would not disrelish a sight of these light little humorous things, and may be indulged now and then.

“Why, I do like one or two vices, to be sure; but I can back a horse and fire a pistol ‘without thinking or blinking’ like Major Sturgeon; I have fed at times for two months together on sheer biscuit and water (without metaphor); I can get over seventy or eighty miles a day riding post, and swim five at a stretch, as at Venice, in 1818, or at least I could do, and have done it once.

“I know Henry Matthews; he is the image, to the very voice, of his brother Charles, only darker—his cough his in particular. The first time I ever met him was in Scrope Davies’s rooms after his brother’s death, and I nearly dropped, thinking that it was his ghost. I have also dined with him in his rooms at King’s College. Hobhouse once purposed a similar Memoir; but I am afraid that the letters of Charles’s correspondence with me (which are at Whitton with my other papers) would hardly do for the public; for our lives were not over strict, and our letters somewhat lax upon most subjects†.

* * * * * *

“Last week I sent you a correspondence with Galignani, and some documents on your property. You have now, I think, an opportunity of checking, or at least limiting, those French republications. You may let all your authors publish what they please against me and mine. A publisher is not, and cannot be, responsible for all the works that issue from his printer’s.

“The ‘White Lady of Avenel,’ is not quite so good as a real well authenticated (‘Donna Bianca’) White Lady of Colalto, or spectre in the Marca Trivigiana, who has been repeatedly seen. There is a man (a huntsman) now alive who saw her also. Hoppner could tell you all about her, and so can Rose, perhaps. I myself have no doubt of the fact,

† Here follow some details respecting his friend Charles S. Matthews, which have already been given In the First Volume of this work.

380 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
historical and spectral. She always appeared on particular occasions, before the deaths of the family, &c. &c. I heard
Madame Benzoni say, that she knew a gentleman who had seen her cross his room at Colalto Castle. Hoppner saw and spoke with the huntsman, who met her at the chase, and never hunted afterwards. She was a girl attendant, who, one day dressing the hair of a Countess Colalto, was seen by her mistress to smile upon her husband in the glass. The Countess had her shut up in the wall of the castle, like Constance de Beverley. Ever after, she haunted them and all the Colaltos. She is described as very beautiful and fair. It is well authenticated.”

“Ravenna, 9bre 18°, 1820.

“The death of Waite is a shock to the—teeth, as well as to the feelings of all who knew him. Good God, he and Blake† both gone! I left them both in the most robust health, and little thought of the national loss in so short a time as five years. They were both as much superior to Wellington in rational greatness, as he who preserves the hair and the teeth is preferable to ‘the bloody blustering warrior’ who gains a name by breaking heads and knocking out grinders. Who succeeds him? Where is tooth-powder, mild, and yet efficacious—where is tincture—where are clearing-roots and brushes now to be obtained? Pray obtain what information you can upon these ‘Tusculan questions.’ My jaws ache to think on’t. Poor fellows! I anticipated seeing both again; and yet they are gone to that place where both teeth and hair last longer than they do in this life. I have seen a thousand graves opened, and always perceived, that whatever was gone, the teeth and hair remained with those who had died with them. Is not this odd? They go the very first things in youth, and yet last the longest in the dust, if people

* The ghost-story, in which he here professes such serious belief, forms the subject of one of Mr. Rogers’s beautiful Italian sketches.—See “Italy,” p. 43, edit. 1830.

† A celebrated hair-dresser.

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 381
will but die to preserve them! It is a queer life, and a queer death, that of mortals.

“I knew that Waite had married, but little thought that the other decease was so soon to overtake him. Then he was such a delight, such a coxcomb, such a jewel of a man! There is a tailor at Bologna so like him! and also at the top of his profession. Do not neglect this commission. Who or what can replace him? What says the public?

“I remand you the Preface. Don’t forget that the Italian extract from the chronicle must be translated. With regard to what you say of retouching the Juans and the Hints, it is all very well; but I can’t furbish. I am like the tiger (in poesy), if I miss the first spring, I go growling back to my jungle. There is no second; I can’t correct; I can’t, and I won’t. Nobody ever succeeds in it, great or small. Tasso remade the whole of his Jerusalem; but who ever reads that version? all the world goes to the first. Pope added to ‘The Rape of the Lock,’ but did not reduce it. You must take my things as they happen to be. If they are not likely to suit, reduce their estimate accordingly. I would rather give them away than hack and hew them. I don’t say that you are not right; I merely repeat that I cannot better them. I must ‘either make a spoon or spoil a horn;’ and there’s an end.


“P.S. Of the praises of that little * * * Keats, I shall observe as Johnson did when Sheridan the actor got a pension: ‘What! has he got a pension? Then it is time that I should give up mine!’ Nobody could be prouder of the praise of the Edinburgh than I was, or more alive to their censure, as I showed in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. At present, all the men they have ever praised are degraded by that insane article. Why don’t they review and praise ‘Solomon’s Guide to Health?’ it is better sense and as much poetry as Johnny Keats.

Bowles must be bowled down. ’Tis a sad match at cricket if he can get any notches at Pope’s expense. If he once get into ‘Lords ground’ (to continue the pun, because it is foolish), I think I could beat him in one innings. You did not know, perhaps, that I was once (not metaphorically, but really) a good cricketer, particularly in batting, and I played in the Harrow match against the Etonians in 1805, gaining more
382 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
notches (as one of our chosen eleven) than any, except
Lord Ipswich and Brockman on our side.”

“Ravenna, 9bre 23°, 1820.

“The ‘Hints,’ Hobhouse says, will require a good deal of slashing to suit the times, which will be a work of time, for I don’t feel at all laborious just now. Whatever effect they are to have would perhaps be greater in a separate form, and they also must have my name to them. Now, if you publish them in the same volume with Don Juan, they identify Don Juan as mine, which I don’t think worth a chancery suit about my daughter’s guardianship, as in your present code a facetious poem is sufficient to take away a man’s rights over his family.

“Of the state of things here it would be difficult and not very prudent to speak at large, the Huns opening all letters. I wonder if they can read them when they have opened them; if so, they may see, in my most legible hand, that I think them damned scoundrels and barbarians, and their emperor a fool, and themselves more fools than he; all which they may send to Vienna for any thing I care. They have got themselves masters of the Papal police, and are bullying away; but some day or other they will pay for all: it may not be very soon, because these unhappy Italians have no consistency among themselves; but I suppose that Providence will get tired of them at last, * * * * * *

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, Dec. 9th, 1820.

“Besides this letter, you will receive three packets, containing, in all, 18 more sheets of Memoranda, which, I fear, will cost you more in postage than they will ever produce by being printed in the next century. Instead of waiting so long, if you could make any thing of them
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 383
now in the way of reversion (that is, after my death), I should be very glad,—as, with all due regard to your progeny, I prefer you to your grand-children. Would not
Longman or Murray advance you a certain sum now, pledging themselves not to have them published till after my decease, think you?—and what say you?

“Over these latter sheets I would leave you a discretionary power*; because they contain, perhaps, a thing or two which is too sincere for the public. If I consent to your disposing of their reversion now, where would be the harm? Tastes may change. I would, in your case, make my essay to dispose of them, not publish, now; and if you (as is most likely) survive me, add what you please from your own knowledge; and, above all, contradict any thing, if I have mis-stated; for my first object is the truth, even at my own expense.

“I have some knowledge of your countryman, Muley Moloch, the lecturer. He wrote to me several letters upon Christianity, to convert me; and, if I had not been a Christian already, I should probably have been now, in consequence. I thought there was something of wild talent in him, mixed with a due leaven of absurdity,—as there must be in all talent, let loose upon the world, without a martingale.

The ministers seem still to persecute the Queen * * * * * * * but they won’t go out, the sans of b—es. Damn Reform—I want a place—what say you? You must applaud the honesty of the declaration, whatever you may think of the intention.

“I have quantities of paper in England, original and translated—tragedy, &c. &c. and am now copying out a Fifth Canto of Don Juan, 149 stanzas. So that there will be near three thin Albemarle, or two thick volumes of all sorts of my Muses. I mean to plunge thick, too, into the contest upon Pope, and to lay about me like a dragon till I make manure of * * * for the top of Parnassus.

“Those rogues are right—we do laugh at t’others—eh?—don’t we†?

* The power here meant is that of omitting passages that might be thought objectionable. He afterwards gave me this, as well as every other right, over the whole of the manuscript.

† He here alludes to a humorous article, of which I had told him, in Blackwood’s Magazine, where the poets of the day were all grouped together in a variety of fantastic shapes, with “Lord Byron and little Moore laughing behind, as if they would split,” at the rest of the fraternity.

384 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
You shall see—you shall see what things I’ll say, ‘an it pleases Providence to leave us leisure. But in these parts they are all going to war; and there is to be liberty, and a row, and a constitution—when they can get them. But I won’t talk politics—it is low. Let us talk of the Queen, and her bath, and her bottle—that’s the only motley nowadays.

“If there are any acquaintances of mine, salute them. The priests here are trying to persecute me,—but no matter.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, Dec. 9th, 1820.

“I open my letter to tell you a fact, which will show the state of this country better than I can. The commandant of the troops is now lying dead in my house. He was shot at a little past eight o’clock, about two hundred paces from my door. I was putting on my great-coat to visit Madame la Contessa G. when I heard the shot. On coming into the hall, I found all my servants on the balcony, exclaiming that a man was murdered. I immediately ran down, calling on Tita (the bravest of them) to follow me. The rest wanted to hinder us from going, as it is the custom for every body here, it seems, to run away from ‘the stricken deer.’

“However, down we ran, and found him lying on his back, almost, if not quite, dead, with five wounds, one in the heart, two in the stomach, one in the finger, and the other in the arm. Some soldiers cocked their guns, and wanted to hinder me from passing. However, we passed, and I found Diego, the adjutant, crying over him like a child—a surgeon, who said nothing of his profession—a priest, sobbing a frightened prayer—and the commandant, all this time, on his back, on the hard, cold pavement, without light or assistance, or any thing around him but confusion and dismay.

“As nobody could, or would, do any thing but howl and pray, and as no one would stir a finger to move him, for fear of consequences, I lost my patience—made my servant and a couple of the mob take up the body—sent off two soldiers to the guard—despatched Diego to the
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 385
Cardinal with the news, and had the commandant carried up stairs into my own quarter. But it was too late, he was gone—not at all disfigured—bled inwardly—not above an ounce or two came out.

“I had him partly stripped—made the surgeon examine him, and examined him myself. He had been shot by cut balls, or slugs. I felt one of the slugs, which had gone through him, all but the skin. Every body conjectures why he was killed, but no one knows how. The gun was found close by him—an old gun, half filed down.

“He only said, ‘O Dio!’ and ‘Gesu!’ two or three times, and appeared to have suffered little. Poor fellow! he was a brave officer, but had made himself much disliked by the people. I knew him personally, and had met him often at conversazioni and elsewhere. My house is full of soldiers, dragoons, doctors, priests, and all kinds of persons,—though I have now cleared it, and clapt sentinels at the doors. Tomorrow the body is to be moved. The town is in the greatest confusion, as you may suppose.

“You are to know that if I had not had the body moved, they would have left him there till morning in the street, for fear of consequences. I would not choose to let even a dog die in such a manner, without succour;—and, as for consequences, I care for none in a duty.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. The lieutenant on duty by the body is smoking his pipe with great composure.—A queer people this.”

“Ravenna, December 25th, 1820.

“You will or ought to have received the packet and letters which I remitted to your address a fortnight ago (or it may be more days), and I shall be glad of an answer, as, in these times and places, packets per post are in some risk of not reaching their destination.

“I have been thinking of a project for you and me, in case we both get to London again, which (if a Neapolitan war don’t suscitate) may be
386 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
calculated as possible for one of us about the spring of 1821. I presume that you, too, will be back by that time, or never; but on that you will give me some index. The project, then, is for you and me to set up jointly a newspaper—nothing more nor less—weekly, or so, with some improvement or modifications upon the plan of the present scoundrels, who degrade that department,—but a newspaper, which we will edite in due form and, nevertheless, with some attention.

“There must always be in it a piece of poesy from one or other of us two, leaving room, however, for such dilettanti rhymers as may be deemed worthy of appearing in the same column; but this must be a sine quâ non; and also as much prose as we can compass. We will take an office—our names not announced, but suspected—and, by the blessing of Providence, give the age some new lights upon policy, poesy, biography, criticism, morality, theology, and all other ism, ality, and ology whatsoever.

“Why, man, if we were to take to this in good earnest, your debts would be paid off in a twelvemonth, and by dint of a little diligence and practice, I doubt not that we could distance the common-place blackguards, who have so long disgraced common sense and the common reader. They have no merit but practice and impudence, both of which we may acquire, and, as for talent and culture, the devil’s in ’t if such proofs as we have given of both can’t furnish out something better than the ‘funeral baked meats’ which have coldly set forth the breakfast table of all Great Britain for so many years. Now, what think you? Let me know; and recollect that, if we take to such an enterprise, we must do so in good earnest. Here is a hint,—do you make it a plan. We will modify it into as literary and classical a concern as you please, only let us put out our powers upon it, and it will most likely succeed. But you must live in London, and I also, to bring it to bear, and we must keep it a secret.

“As for the living in London, I would make that not difficult to you (if you would allow me), until we could see whether one means or other (the success of the plan, for instance) would not make it quite easy for you, as well as your family; and, in any case, we should have some fun, composing, correcting, supposing, inspecting, and supping together over our lucubrations. If you think this worth a thought, let me know,
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 387
and I will begin to lay in a small literary capital of composition for the occasion.

“Yours ever affectionately,

“P.S. If you thought of a middle plan between a Spectator and a newspaper, why not?—only not on a Sunday. Not that Sunday is not an excellent day, but it is engaged already. We will call it the ‘Tenda Rossa,’ the name Tassoni gave an answer of his in a controversy, in allusion to the delicate hint of Timour the Lame, to his enemies, by a ‘Tenda’ of that colour, before he gave battle. Or we will call it ‘Gli; or ‘I Carbonari,’ if it so please you—or any other name full of ‘pastime and prodigality,’ which you may prefer. * * * * * * Let me have an answer. I conclude poetically, with the bellman, ‘A merry Christmas to you!”

The year 1820 was an era signalized, as will be remembered, by the many efforts of the revolutionary spirit which, at that time, broke forth, like ill-suppressed fire, throughout the greater part of the South of Europe. In Italy, Naples had already raised the Constitutional standard, and her example was fast operating through the whole of that country. Throughout Romagna, secret societies, under the name of Carbonari, had been organized, which waited but the word of their chiefs to break out into open insurrection. We have seen from Lord Byron’s Journal in 1814, what intense interest he took in the last struggles of Revolutionary France under Napoleon; and his exclamations, “Oh for a Republic!—‘Brutus, thou sleepest!’” show the lengths to which, in theory at least, his political zeal extended. Since then, he had but rarely turned his thoughts to politics; the tame, ordinary vicissitude of public affairs having but little in it to stimulate a mind like his, whose sympathies nothing short of a crisis seemed worthy to interest. This the present state of Italy gave every promise of affording him; and, in addition to the great national cause itself, in which there was every thing that a lover of liberty, warm from the pages of Petrarch and Dante, could desire, he had also private ties and regards to inlist him socially in the contest.
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The brother of
Madame Guiccioli, Count Pietro Gamba, who had been passing some time at Rome and Naples, was now returned from his tour; and the friendly sentiments with which, notwithstanding a natural bias previously in the contrary direction, he at length learned to regard the noble lover of his sister, cannot better be described than in the words of his fair relative herself.

“At this time,” says Madame Guiccioli, “my beloved brother, Pietro, returned to Ravenna from Rome and Naples. He had been prejudiced by some enemies of Lord Byron against his character, and my intimacy with him afflicted him greatly; nor had my letters succeeded in entirely destroying the evil impression which Lord Byron’s detractors had produced. No sooner, however, had he seen and known him, than he became inspired with an interest in his favour, such as could not have been produced by mere exterior qualities, but was the result only of that union he saw in him of all that is most great and beautiful, as well in the heart as mind of man. From that moment every former prejudice vanished, and the conformity of their opinions and studies contributed to unite them in a friendship, which only ended with their lives*.”

The young Gamba, who was, at this time, but twenty years of age, with a heart full of all those dreams of the regeneration of Italy, which not only the example of Naples, but the spirit working beneath the surface all around him, inspired, had, together with his father, who was still in the prime of life, become inrolled in the secret bands now organizing throughout Romagna, and Lord Byron was, by their intervention, admitted also among the brotherhood. The following heroic

* “In quest’ epoca venne a Ravenna di ritorno da Roma e Napoli il mio diletto fratello Pietro. Egli era stato prevenuto da dei nemici di Lord Byron contro il di lui carattere; molto lo affligeva la mia intimitù con lui, e le mie lettere non avevano riuscito a bene distruggere la cattiva impressione ricevuta dei detrattori di Lord Byron. Ma appena lo vidde e lo conobbi egli pure ricevesse quella impreesione che non può essere prodotta da dei pregi esteriori, ma solamente dall utione di tuttociò che vi è di più bello e di più grande nel cuore e nella mente dell’ uomo. Svanì ogni sua anteriore prevenzione contro di Lord Byron, e la conformità della loro idee e dei studii loro contribui a stringerli in quella amicizia che non doveva avere fine che colla loro vita.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 389
Address to the Neapolitan Government (written by the noble poet in Italian*, and forwarded, it is thought, by himself to Naples, but intercepted on the way) will show how deep, how earnest, and expansive was his zeal in that great, general cause of Political Freedom, for which he soon after laid down his life among the marshes of Missolonghi.

“An Englishman, a friend to liberty, having understood that the Neapolitans permit even foreigners to contribute to the good cause, is desirous that they should do him the honour of accepting a thousand louis, which he takes the liberty of offering. Having already, not long since, been an ocular witness of the despotism of the Barbarians in the States occupied by them in Italy, he sees, with the enthusiasm natural to a cultivated man, the generous determination of the Neapolitans to assert their well-won independence. As a member of the English House of Peers, he would be a traitor to the principles which placed the reigning family of England on the throne, if he were not grateful for the noble lesson so lately given both to people and to kings. The offer which he desires to make is small in itself, as must always be that presented from an individual to a nation; but he trusts that it will not be the last they will receive from his countrymen. His distance from the frontier, and the feeling of his personal incapacity to contribute efficaciously to the service of the nation, prevents him from proposing himself as worthy of the lowest commission, for which experience and talent might be requisite. But if, as a mere volunteer, his presence were not a burden to whomsoever he might serve under, he would repair to whatever place the Neapolitan Government might point out, there to obey the orders and participate in the dangers of his commanding officer, without any other motive than that of sharing the destiny of a brave nation, defending itself against the

* A draft of this Address, in his own handwriting, was found among his papers. He is supposed to have intrusted it to a professed agent of the Constitutional Government of Naples, who had waited upon him secretly at Ravenna, and, under the pretence of having been waylaid and robbed, induced his lordship to supply him with money for his return. This man turned out afterwards to have been a spy, and the above paper, if confided to him, fell most probably into the hands of the Pontifical Government.

390 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
self-called Holy Alliance, which but combines the vice of hypocrisy with despotism*.”

It was during the agitation of this crisis, while surrounded by rumours and alarms, and expecting, every moment, to be summoned into the field, that Lord Byron commenced the Journal which I am now about to give; and which it is impossible to peruse, with the recollection of his former Diary of 1814 in our minds, without reflecting how wholly different, in all the circumstances connected with them, were the two periods at which these records of his passing thoughts were traced. The first he wrote at a time which may be considered, to use his own words, as “the most poetical part of his whole life,”—not, certainly, in what regarded the powers of his genius, to which every succeeding year added new force and range, but in all that may be said to constitute the poetry of character,—those fresh, unworldly feelings, of which, in spite of his early plunge into experience, he still retained the gloss, and that ennobling light of imagination, which, with all his professed scorn of mankind, still followed in the track of his affections, giving a lustre to every object on which they rested. There was, indeed, in his misanthropy, as in his sorrows, at that period, to the full as much of fancy as of reality; and even those gallantries and loves in which he at the same

* “Un Inglese amico della libertà avendo sentito che i Napolitani permettono anche agli stranieri di oontribuire alla buona causa, bramerebbe l’onore di vedere accetteta la sua offerta di mille luigi, la quale egli azzarda di fare. Già testimonio oculare non molto fa della tirannia dei Barbari negli stati da loro occupati nell’ Italia, egli vede con tutto l’entusiasmo di un uomo ben nato la generosa determinazione del Napolitani per confermare la loro bene acquistata indipendenza. Membro della Camera del Pari della nazione Inglese egli sarebbe un traditore ai principii che hanno posto sul trono la famiglia regnante d’ Inghilterra se non riconoscesse la bella lezione di bel nuovo data ai popoli ed ai Re. L’ offerta che egli brama di presentare è poca in se stessa, come bisogna che sia sempre quella di un individuo ad una nazione, ma egli spera che non sarà l’ultima dalla parte dei suoi compatriotti. La sua lontananza dalle frontiere, e il sentimento della sua poca capacità personale di contribuire efficacimente a servire la nazione gl’ impedisce di proporsi come degno della più piccola commissione che domanda dell’ esperienza e del talento. Ma, se come semplice volontario la sua presenza non fosse un incomodo a quello che l’accetasse egli riparebbe a qualunque luogo indicato dal Governo Napolitano, per ubbidire agli ordini e participare ai pericoli del suo superiore, senza avere altri motivi che quello di dividere il destino di una brava nazione resistendo alla se dicente Santa Allianza la quale agguinge l’ ippocrisia al despotismo.”

A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 391
time entangled himself, partook equally, as I have endeavoured to show, of the same imaginative character. Though brought early under the dominion of the senses, he had been also early rescued from this thraldom by, in the first place, the satiety such excesses never fail to produce, and, at no long interval after, by this series of half-fanciful attachments which, though in their moral consequences to society, perhaps, still more mischievous, had the varnish at least of refinement on the surface, and by the novelty and apparent difficulty that invested them served to keep alive that illusion of imagination from which such pursuits derive their sole redeeming charm.

With such a mixture, or rather predominance, of the ideal in his loves, his hates, and his sorrows, the state of his existence at that period, animated as it was, and kept buoyant, by such a flow of success, must be acknowledged, even with every deduction for the unpicturesque associations of a London life, to have been, in a high degree, poetical, and to have worn round it altogether a sort of halo of romance, which the events that followed were but too much calculated to dissipate. By his marriage, and its results, he was again brought back to some of those bitter realities of which his youth had had a foretaste. Pecuniary embarrassment,—that ordeal, of all others, the most trying to delicacy and high-mindedness—now beset him with all the indignities that usually follow in its train; and he was thus rudely schooled into the advantages of possessing money, when he had hitherto thought but of the generous pleasure of dispensing it. No stronger proof, indeed, is wanting of the effect of such difficulties in tempering down even the most chivalrous pride, than the necessity to which he found himself reduced in 1816, not only of departing from his resolution never to profit by the sale of his works, but of accepting a sum of money, for copyright, from his publisher, which he had for some time persisted in refusing for himself, and, in the full sincerity of his generous heart, had destined for others.

The injustice and malice to which he soon after became a victim had an equally fatal effect in disenchanting the dream of his existence. Those imaginary, or, at least, retrospective sorrows, in which he had once loved to indulge, and whose tendency it was, through the medium of his fancy, to soften and refine his heart, were now exchanged for
392 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
a host of actual, ignoble vexations, which it was even more humiliating than painful to encounter. His misanthropy, instead of being, as heretofore, a vague and abstract feeling, without any object to light upon, and losing therefore its acrimony in diffusion, was now, by the hostility he came in contact with, condensed into individual enmities, and narrowed into personal resentments; and from the lofty, and, as it appeared to himself, philosophical luxury of hating mankind in the gross, he was now brought down to the self-humbling necessity of despising them in detail.

By all these influences, so fatal to enthusiasm of character, and forming, most of them, indeed, a part of the ordinary process by which hearts become chilled and hardened in the world, it was impossible but that some material change must have been effected in a disposition at once so susceptible and tenacious of impressions. By compelling him to concentre himself in his own resources and energies, as the only stand now left against the world’s injustice, his enemies but succeeded in giving to the principle of self-dependence within him a new force and spring which, however it added to the vigour of his character, could not fail, by bringing Self into such activity, to impair a little its amiableness. Among the changes in his disposition, attributable mainly to this source, may be mentioned that diminished deference to the opinions and feelings of others which, after this compulsory rally of all his powers of resistance, he exhibited. Some portion, no doubt, of this refractoriness may be accounted for by his absence from all those whose slightest word or look would have done more with him than whole volumes of correspondence; but by no cause less powerful and revulsive than the struggle in which he had been committed could a disposition naturally diffident as his was, and diffident even through all this excitement, have been driven into the assumption of a tone so universally defying, and so full, if not of pride in his own pre-eminent powers, of such a contempt for some of the ablest among his contemporaries, as almost implied it. It was, in fact, as has been more than once remarked in these pages, a similar stirring up of all the best and worst elements of his nature, to that which a like rebound against injustice had produced in his youth:—though with a difference, in point of force and grandeur, between the
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 393
two explosions, almost as great as between the out-breaks of a firework and a volcano.

Another consequence of the spirit of defiance now roused in him, and one that tended, perhaps, even more fatally than any yet mentioned, to sully and, for a time, bring down to earth the romance of his character, was the course of life to which, outrunning even the licence of his youth, he abandoned himself at Venice. From this, as from his earlier excesses, the timely warning of disgust soon rescued him; and the connexion with Madame Guiccioli which followed, and which, however much to be reprehended, had in it all of marriage that his real marriage wanted, seemed to place, at length, within reach of his affectionate spirit that union and sympathy for which, through life, it had thirsted. But the treasure came too late;—the pure poetry of the feeling had vanished, and those tears he shed so passionately in the garden at Bologna flowed less, perhaps, from the love which he felt at that moment, than from the saddening consciousness, how differently he could have felt formerly. It was, indeed, wholly beyond the power, even of an imagination like his, to go on investing with its own ideal glories a sentiment which,—more from daring and vanity than from an other impulse,—he had taken such pains to tarnish and debase in his own eyes. Accordingly, instead of being able, as once, to elevate and embellish all that interested him, to make an idol of every passing creature of his fancy, and mistake the form of love, which he so often conjured up, for its substance, he now degenerated into the wholly opposite and perverse error of depreciating and making light of what, intrinsically, he valued, and, as the reader has seen, throwing slight and mockery upon a tie in which it was evident some of the best feelings of his nature were wrapped up. That foe to all enthusiasm and romance, the habit of ridicule, had, in proportion as he exchanged the illusions for the realities of life, gained further empire over him; and how far it had, at this time, encroached upon the loftier and fairer regions of his mind may be seen in the pages of Don Juan,—that diversified arena, on which the two Genii, good and evil, that governed his thoughts, hold, with alternate triumph, their ever powerful combat.

Even this, too, this vein of mockery,—in the excess to which, at
394 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
last, be carried it,—was but another result of the shock his proud mind had received from those events that had cast him off, branded and heart-stricken, from country and from home. As he himself touchingly says,
“And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
’Tis that I may not weep.”
This laughter,—which, in such temperaments, is the near neighbour of tears,—served as a diversion to him from more painful vents of bitterness; and the same philosophical calculation which made the poet of melancholy,
Young, declare, that “he preferred laughing at the world to being angry with it,” led Lord Byron also to settle upon the same conclusion; and to feel, in the misanthropic views he was inclined to take of mankind, that mirth often saved him the pain of hate.

That, with so many drawbacks upon all generous effusions of sentiment, he should still have preserved so much of his native tenderness and ardour as is conspicuous, through all disguises, in his unquestionable love for Madame Guiccioli, and in the still more undoubted zeal with which he now entered, heart and soul, into the great cause of human freedom, wheresoever, or by whomsoever, asserted*,—only shows how rich must have been the original stores of sensibility and enthusiasm which even a career such as his could so little chill or exhaust. Most consoling, too, is it to reflect that the few latter years of his life should have been thus visited with a return of that poetic lustre, which, though it never had ceased to surround the bard, had but too much faded away from the character of the man; and that while Love,—reprehensible as it was,

* Among his “Detached Thoughts” I find this general passion for liberty thus strikingly expressed. After saying, in reference to his own choice of Venice as a place of residence, “I remembered General Ludlow’s domal inscription, ‘Omne solum forti patria,’ and sate down free in a country which had been one of slavery for centuries,” he adds, “But there is no freedom, even for masters, in the midst of slaves. It makes my blood boil to see the thing. I sometimes wish that I was the owner of Africa to do at once what Wilberforce will do in time, viz., sweep slavery from her deserts, and look on upon the first dance of their freedom.

“As to political slavery, so general, it is men’s own fault: if they will be slaves. let them! Yet it is but ‘a word and a blow.’ See how England formerly, France, Spain, Portugal, America, Switzerland, freed themselves! There is no one instance of a long contest in which men did not triumph over systems. If Tyranny misses her first spring, he is cowardly the tiger, and retires to be hunted.”

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but still Love,—had the credit of rescuing him from the only errors that disgraced his maturer years, for Liberty was reserved the proud, but mournful, triumph of calling the last stage of his glorious course her own, and lighting him, amidst the sympathies of the world, to his grave.

Having endeavoured, in this comparison between his present and former self, to account, by what I consider to be their true causes, for the new phenomena which his character, at this period, exhibited, I shall now lay before the reader the Journal by which these remarks were more immediately suggested, and from which I fear they will be thought to have too long detained him.