LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Samuel Rogers to Richard Sharp, 23 October 1814

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.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
‘Venice: October 23, 1814.

‘My dear Friend,—To-day, in my gondola, I vowed I would write to you to-night, if it was only to tell you to write to me at Rome, where I hope soon to be. You must have received my letter from Geneva long ago.
An excursion to Chamouni, and another to the Lake of Lucerne, two delicious days passed in the Isle of St. Pierre, and two more under the rocks of Meillerie, I should like much to talk to you about, but I don’t know where to begin. Everywhere in Switzerland, the Alps, all snow, bounded the horizon. They shone in the sun and seemed impassable; nor was their extent less striking than their height. Indeed, everything perhaps has fallen a little short of my expectations but the Alps alone. They have exceeded them; and whenever they appear they affect me as much as if I was seeing them for the first time—I may almost say, as if I had never heard of them. But the passage over them—of that I don’t know what to say. The road itself, smooth as that in Hyde Park, is an object of wonder, winding like a serpent, but in very long lines; and by bridges thrown over precipices and passages cut through the rock, gradually approaching the summit. When you looked back, you saw it running far below you, and in many directions, through those bleak and dreary tracts, like the great wall in Tartary. At last you leave the pine forests beneath you, and the water that falls by your carriage-window and is conveyed in channels under the road freezes into icicles as it falls there. We were ascending for eight hours, drawn by five horses, but the descent into Italy I can do still less justice to. We instantly entered a deep valley, and then opened, or rather shut, upon us one of the most extraordinary scenes in Nature. For twenty miles we went rapidly down through a pass so narrow as to admit only the road and the torrent that fell by our side. Often the road was hewn out of
the mountain, and three times it passed through it, leaving the torrent to work its way by itself; the passage, or gallery as I believe it is termed by the French engineers, being so long as to require large openings for light. The road was so gradual that our wheel was never locked, the horses were almost always in a gallop, nor turned aside for the mules we met.

‘We left Savoy at seven in the morning, and slept in Italy, at Domo d’Ossola, that night. The Lago Maggiore, Milan, the Lago di Garda, Verona, Padua,—what shall I mention next? As for Venice—I seem to wander about in a dream. Am I in St. Mark’s Place? I say to myself. Am I on the Rialto? Do I see the Adriatic?—Nor can I tell you what I felt when the postilion, turning gaily round and pointing with his whip, cried out, “Venezia!” And there it was sure enough, with its long line of domes and turrets, white as marble, and glittering in the sun. If Venice is Venice no longer, as everybody tells me, one can, however, see what was never seen before, at least in the way one would like.

‘This is the Hall of the Senate—this the chamber of the Council of Ten—into that closet (and it was black as black wood could make it) the state prisoner was brought to receive the sentence from the pozzi or the piombi, after which he was led down that narrow, winding staircase (and I shuddered when I attempted to look down it, for it seemed like a well) and across the Ponte dei Sospiri to be strangled in the first dungeon on the left.

‘All this and more I heard with believing ears, such as I wished for at Verona when they showed us Juliet’s coffin in a convent garden.


‘I think I have made out the best tour in the world for you, I wish I may say for us. At all events, I hope you will not start before my return, that I may at least have a chance. I can save many a weary mile and much perplexity which I have experienced.

Mackintosh left us at Zug, to meet his daughter at Basle; we met him again near Sion in the Haut Valais, on his return to Italy. I hope his health is improved, but it suffers greatly in a city like Paris, and I fear he will leave all he has gained, in the evening conversazioni at Talleyrand’s.

‘The Hollands we have met with at Paris, at Geneva, and at Milan. They are now, I believe, at Florence. Ward I met in the street at Milan. He is now, I fancy, on the road to Venice with Poodle Byng. The Princess of Wales came up on foot to our chaise window when we were changing horses within a few miles of Milan. She afterwards invited my sister and myself to a party there, which we could not avail ourselves of, and I flatter myself we shall be good friends when we meet at Florence.

‘What has become of Boddington? We have followed here and there in his track, but never could overtake him. Has he come into Italy? I hope to meet with him in Tuscany—I say, in Tuscany!

‘Oh, if you knew what it was to look upon a lake which Virgil has mentioned, and Catullus has sailed upon, to see a house in which Petrarch has lived, and to stand upon Titian’s grave as I have done, you would instantly pack up and join me.

‘But to talk seriously, is Fredley yours? I hope it is, and that you by this time possess a fragment of Italian
landscape under English laws and with English security. Pray write and tell me all; and believe me to be, with great sincerity,

‘Ever yours,
Samuel Rogers.

‘Remember me kindly to Maltby. I read his name in the book at Schwyz. Does he remember the Lake as seen from the landing-place, or, rather, from the inn door at Brunnen? I shall never forget it.

‘What a strange thing is fashion! Almost every man in Venice but myself wears boots. The men who wait upon us at dinner are like so many jockeys at Newmarket. How inhuman to rob them of the only four horses they had!’