LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Thomas Moore, 13 July 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
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“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.”