LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Samuel Rogers to Sarah Rogers, 15 October 1821

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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‘Venice: 15 October, 1821.

‘My dear Sarah,—I wrote you a long letter to Paris, which, I hope, you received. It was from Milan, where I arrived on the 6th, and stayed till the 10th, during excessive rain. There I fell in with three we saw at Paris—Ellis, Sneyd, and Lord Clare. I dined with them at their hotel, and they with me at mine. There, too, I hired a Courier—a man young and intelligent, and, I think, gentle, though a Roman. He has a high character from Scarlett’s brother, whose service he lived in eleven months. He is now laid up with a lame knee, but is getting better. I left Milan and found beautiful weather all the way to this place, sleeping in our old rooms at Desenzano; but all the inns are so brushed up and painted
you would not know them. I admire Italy more than ever, and wonder how anybody should talk of anything else. I came here yesterday and found the
Beaumonts. I have passed all to-day with them and shall to-morrow, as they go the next. I have sent to the post, and, alas, there was no letter any more than at Milan, but will hope all is well. I shall stay here, I think, five or six days, and then proceed to Florence, where I hope I shall find a letter. I have been very unlucky; as to the vintage, it had not begun on the lake, and was over all the way to Venice. I have very comfortable lodgings in the Gran Britannia on the Great Canal, and the boatmen are at this moment making a great noise under my window. The Beaumonts have delightful ones on the sea opposite St. Giorgio’s Church. They were very sorry to miss you. He has some sketches, but they are none of them such as I like, memorandums like yours. He has a broken shin, but contrives to float about in his gondola; I believe we are the only English here. You will here have the alterations and additions I threatened you with in my last; I have written over each the title or number they refer to, and hope you will find the places out easily. Pray substitute the new passages instead of the old. The chapter I have given no title to I have called Italy, and have added to it eleven new lines. The notes you will insert in their places at the end. In my last I said I liked much the idea of Miss Mallet, if she would be good enough to undertake it, and if you still approve of it; but not unless you do. I hope you are now at Paris with Henry, but shall write home, and the letter will keep very well till you get it. I am very well,
and have nothing the matter with me but gnats. Here are beccaficos innumerable, but I have met with none so good as a lark. I came here on Sunday afternoon, and went to church to hear the young ladies play on the fiddle and blow flutes and trumpets. It lasted half an hour, and was very well. You see them very indistinctly.
Hoppner, the Consul, is in Switzerland with his wife’s relations. Pray, when you go to St. James’s Place, search in the drawer of the table that stands in the middle of my bedroom, and I think you will find a thin blue copy-book in a blue cover, as blue as the inside of a band-box. It contains “The Brides of Venice.” If you find it, print it in its place. If not, it must be left out altogether, as I have forgot it, and have in vain tried to recall it. Among the chapters is one entitled “A Retrospect.” Pray entitle it “The Alps” instead. I have ventured to send some lines on Mont Blanc for a note. If you don’t think them tolerable, don’t let them be printed. Which do you like best, the sixth line, those or this—

‘Only less bright, less glorious than himself.
‘My love to all. Ever yours,
‘S. R.

‘Pray find fault through the whole work.

‘the mirror of all beauty.

[Note.—There is no describing in words, but the following lines were written on the spot, and may serve, perhaps, to recall to some of my readers what they have seen in this enchanting country—
I love to watch in silence till the sun
Sets; and Mont Blanc, arrayed in crimson and gold,
Flings his broad shadow half across the Lake;
That shadow, though it comes through pathless tracts
Of Ether, and o’er Alp and desert drear,
Only less glorious than Mont Blanc himself.
But while we gaze, ‘tis gone! And now he shines
Like burnished silver; all below, the Night’s—

Such moments are most precious, yet there are
Others, that follow them, to me still more so;
When once again he changes, once again
Clothing himself in grandeur all his own;
When, like a ghost, shadowless, colourless,
He melts away into the Heaven of Heavens;
Himself alone revealed, all lesser things
As though they were not!]
‘But the Bise blew cold;
And, bidden to a spare but cheerful meal,
I sate among the holy brotherhood
At their long board. The fare, indeed, was such
As is prescribed on days of abstinence,
But might have pleased a nicer taste than mine,
And through the floor came up; an ancient matron,
Serving unseen below; while from the roof
(The roof, the floor, the walls of native fir)
A lamp hung flickering, such as loves to fling
Its partial light on Apostolic heads,
And sheds a grace on all. Theirs Tune as yet
Had changed not. Some were almost in the prime;
Nor was a brow o’ercast. Seen as I saw them,
Ranged round their hearthstone in a leisure hour,
They were a simple and a merry race,
Mingling small games of chance with social converse,
And gathering news of all who came that way,
As of some other world.
(This to be the title to this chapter.)
‘Am I in Italy? Is this the Mincius? &c.
down to “and self-congratulation.” Then what follows is to be in a new paragraph.

‘O Italy! how beautiful thou art!
Yet I could weep—for thou art lying, alas,
Low in the dust; and they who come, admire thee
As we admire the beautiful in death.
Thine was a dangerous gift, the gift of Beauty;
Would thou hadst less, or wert as once thou wast,
Inspiring awe in those who now enslave thee!
—But why despair? Twice hast thou lived already;
Twice shone among the nations of the world,
As the sun shines among the lesser lights
Of heaven; and shalt again. . . .’