LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)

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
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The circumstances under which Lord Byron now took leave of England were such as, in the case of any ordinary person, could not be considered otherwise than disastrous and humiliating. He had, in the course of one short year, gone through every variety of domestic misery;—had seen his hearth eight or nine times profaned by the visitations of the law, and been only saved from a prison by the privileges of his rank. He had alienated, as far as they had ever been his, the affections of his wife; and now, rejected by her, and condemned by the world, was betaking himself to an exile which had not even the dignity of appearing voluntary, as the excommunicating voice of society seemed to leave him no other resource. Had he been of that class of unfeeling and self-satisfied natures from whose hard surface the reproaches of others fall pointless, he might have found in insensibility a sure refuge against reproach; but, on the contrary, the same sensitiveness that kept him so awake to the applauses of mankind rendered him, in a still more intense degree, alive to their censure. Even the strange, perverse pleasure which he felt in painting himself unamiably to the world did not prevent him from being both startled and pained when the world took him at his word; and, like a child in a mask before a looking-glass, the dark semblance which he had
2 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
half in sport, put on, when reflected back upon him from the mirror of public opinion, shocked even himself.

Thus surrounded by vexations, and thus deeply feeling them, it is not too much to say, that any other spirit but his own would have sunk under the struggle, and lost, perhaps irrecoverably, that level of self-esteem which alone affords a stand against the shocks of fortune. But in him,—furnished as was his mind with reserves of strength, waiting to be called out,—the very intensity of the pressure brought relief by the proportionate reaction which it produced. Had his transgressions and frailties been visited with no more than their due portion of punishment, there can be little doubt that a very different result would have ensued. Not only would such an excitement have been insufficient to waken up the new energies still dormant in him, but that consciousness of his own errors, which was for ever livelily present in his mind, would, under such circumstances, have been left, undisturbed by any unjust provocation, to work its usual softening and, perhaps humbling influences on his spirit. But,—luckily, as it proved, for the further triumphs of his genius,—no such moderation was exercised. The storm of invective raised around him, so utterly out of proportion with his offences, and the base calumnies that were every where heaped upon his name, left to his wounded pride no other resource than in the same summoning up of strength, the same instinct of resistance to injustice, which had first forced out the energies of his youthful genius, and was now destined to give a still bolder and loftier range to its powers.

It was, indeed, not without truth, said of him by Goëthe, that he was inspired by the Genius of Pain,—for, from the first to the last of his agitated career, every fresh recruitment of his faculties was imbibed from that bitter source. His chief incentive, when a boy, to distinction was, as we have seen, that mark of deformity on his person, by an acute sense of which he was first stung into the ambition of being great*. As, with an evident reference to his own fate, he himself describes the feeling,—

* In one of his letters to Mr. Hunt, he declares it to be his own opinion that “an addiction to poetry is very generally the result of ‘an uneasy mind in an uneasy body;’ disease or deformity,—he adds, “have been the attendants of many of our best. Collins mad—Chatterton, I think, mad—Cowper mad—Pope crooked—Milton blind,” &c. &c.

“Deformity is daring.
It is its essence to o’ertake mankind
By heart and soul, and make itself the equal,—
Ay, the superior of the rest. There is
A spur in its halt movements, to become
All that the others cannot, in such things
As still are free to both, to compensate
For stepdame Nature’s avarice at first*.”

Then came the disappointment of his youthful passion,—the lassitude and remorse of premature excess,—the lone friendlessness of his entrance into life, and the ruthless assault upon his first literary efforts,—all links in that chain of trials, errors, and sufferings, by which his great mind was gradually and painfully drawn out;—all bearing their respective shares in accomplishing that destiny which seems to have decreed that the triumphal march of his genius should be over the waste and ruins of his heart. He appeared, indeed, himself to have had an instinctive consciousness that it was out of such ordeals his strength and glory were to arise, as his whole life was passed in courting agitation and difficulties; and whenever the scenes around him were too tame to furnish such excitement, he flew to fancy or memory for “thorns” whereon to “lean his breast.”

But the greatest of his trials, as well as triumphs, was yet to come. The last stage of this painful, though glorious, course, in which fresh power was, at every step, wrung from out his soul, was that at which we are now arrived, his marriage and its results,—without which, dear as was the price paid by him in peace and character, his career would have been incomplete, and the world still left in ignorance of the full compass of his genius. It is indeed worthy of remark, that it was not till his domestic circumstances began to darken around him that his fancy, which had long been idle, again rose upon the wing,—both the Siege of Corinth and Parisina having been produced but a short time before the separation. How conscious he was, too, that the turmoil which followed

* The Deformed Transformed.

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was the true element of his restless spirit may be collected from several passages of his letters at that period, in one of which he even mentions that his health had become all the better for the conflict:—“It is odd,” he says, “but agitation or contest of any kind gives a rebound to my spirits, and sets me up for the time.”

This buoyancy it was,—this irrepressible spring of mind,—that now enabled him to bear up not only against the assaults of others, but what was still more difficult, against his own thoughts and feelings. The muster of all his mental resources to which, in self-defence, he had been driven, but opened to him the yet undreamed extent and capacity of his powers, and inspired him with a proud confidence that he should yet shine down these calumnious mists, convert censure to wonder, and compel even those who could not approve to admire.

The route which he now took, through Flanders and by the Rhine, is best traced in his own matchless verses, which leave a portion of their glory on all that they touch, and lend to scenes, already clothed with immortality by nature and by history, the no less durable associations of undying song. On his leaving Brussels, an incident occurred which would be hardly worth relating, were it not for the proof it affords of the malicious assiduity with which every thing to his disadvantage was now caught up and circulated in England. Mr. Pryce Gordon, a gentleman, who appears to have seen a good deal of him during his short stay at Brussels, thus relates the anecdote.

“Lord Byron travelled in a huge coach, copied from the celebrated one of Napoleon, taken at Genappe, with additions. Besides a lit de repos, it contained a library, a plate-chest, and every apparatus for dining in it. It was not, however, found sufficiently capacious for his baggage and suite; and he purchased a calèche at Brussels for his servants. It broke down going to Waterloo, and I advised him to return it, as it seemed to be a crazy machine; but as he had made a deposit of forty Napoleons (certainly double its value), the honest Fleming would not consent to restore the cash, or take back his packing-case, except under a forfeiture of thirty Napoleons. As his lordship was to set out the following day, be begged me to make the best arrangement I could in
the affair. He had no sooner taken his departure, than the worthy sellier inserted a paragraph in ‘The Brussels Oracle,’ stating ‘that the noble milor Anglais had absconded with his calèche, value 1800 francs!’”

In the Courier of May 13, the Brussels account of this transaction is thus copied.

“The following is an extract from the Dutch Mail, dated Brussels, May 8th.—In the Journal de Belgique, of this date, is a petition from a coachmaker at Brussels to the president of the Tribunal de Premier Instance, stating that he has sold to Lord Byron a carriage, &c. for 1882 francs, of which he has received 847 francs, but that his lordship, who is going away the same day, refuses to pay him the remaining 1035 francs; he begs permission to seize the carriage, &c. This being granted, he put it into the hands of a proper officer, who went to signify the above to Lord Byron, and was informed by the landlord of the hotel, that his lordship was gone without having given him any thing to pay the debt, on which the officer seized a chaise belonging to his lordship as security for the amount.”

It was not till the beginning of the following month that a contradiction of this falsehood, stating the real circumstances of the case, as above related, was communicated to the Morning Chronicle, in a letter from Brussels, signed “Pryce L. Gordon.”

Another anecdote, of far more interest, has been furnished from the same respectable source. It appears that the two first stanzas of the verses relating to Waterloo, “Stop, for thy tread is on an empire’s dust,” were written at Brussels, after a visit to that memorable field, and transcribed by Lord Byron, next morning, in an album belonging to the lady of the gentleman who communicates the anecdote.

“A few weeks after he had written them (says the relater), the well-known artist, R. R. Reinagle, a friend of mine, arrived in Brussels, when I invited him to dine with me and showed him the lines, requesting him to embellish them with an appropriate vignette to the following passage:—

* Childe Harold, Canto 3, stanza 17.

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‘Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew,
Then tore, with bloody beak, the fatal plain;
Pierced with the shafts of banded nations through,
Ambition’s life, and labours, all were vain—
He wears the shatter’d links of the world’s broken chain.’
Mr. Reinagle sketched with a pencil a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with his talons.

“I had occasion to write to his lordship, and mentioned having got this clever artist to draw a vignette to his beautiful lines, and the liberty he had taken by altering the action of the eagle. In reply to this, he wrote to me—‘Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am; eagles, and all birds of prey, attack with their talons, and not with their beaks, and I have altered the line thus—
‘Then tore, with bloody talon, the rent plain.
This is, I think, a better line, besides its poetical justice.’ I need hardly add, when I communicated this flattering compliment to the painter, that he was highly gratified.”

From Brussels the noble traveller pursued his course along the Rhine,—a line of road which he has strewed over with all the riches of poesy; and, arriving at Geneva, took up his abode at the well-known hotel, Sécheron. After a stay of a few weeks at this place, he removed to a villa, in the neighbourhood, called Diodati, very beautifully situated on the high banks of the Lake, where he established his residence for the remainder of the summer.

I shall now give the few letters in my possession written by him at this time, and then subjoin to them such anecdotes as I have been able to collect relative to the same period.

“Ouchy, near Lausanne, June 27th, 1816.

“I am thus far (kept by stress of weather) on my way back to Diodati (near Geneva) from a voyage in my boat round the Lake; and
I enclose you a sprig of
Gibbon’s acacia and some rose-leaves from his garden, which, with part of his house, I have just seen. You will find honourable mention, in his Life, made of this ‘acacia,’ when he walked out on the night of concluding his history. The garden and summer-house, where he composed, are neglected, and the last utterly decayed; but they still show it as his ‘cabinet,’ and seem perfectly aware of his memory.

“My route, through Flanders, and by the Rhine, to Switzerland, was all I expected and more.

“I have traversed all Rousseau’s ground with the Heloise before me, and am struck to a degree that I cannot express with the force and accuracy of his descriptions, and the beauty of their reality. Meillerie, Clarens, and Vevay, and the Chateau de Chillon, are places of which I shall say little, because all I could say must fall short of the impressions they stamp.

“Three days ago, we were most nearly wrecked in a squall off Meillerie, and driven to shore. I ran no risk, being so near the rocks, and a good swimmer; but our party were wet, and incommoded a good deal. The wind was strong enough to blow down some trees, as we found at landing: however, all is righted and right, and we are thus far on our return.

Dr. Polidori is not here, but at Diodati, left behind in hospital with a sprained ankle, which he acquired in tumbling from a wall—he can’t jump.

“I shall be glad to hear you are well, and have received for me certain helms and swords, sent from Waterloo, which I rode over with pain and pleasure.

“I have finished a third Canto of Childe Harold (consisting of one hundred and seventeen stanzas), longer than either of the two former, and in some parts, it may be, better; but of course on that I cannot determine. I shall send it by the first safe-looking opportunity.

“Ever, &c.”
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“Diodati near Geneva, July 22d, 1816.

“I wrote to you a few weeks ago, and Dr. Polidori received your letter; but the packet has not made its appearance, nor the epistle, of which you gave notice therein. I enclose you an advertisement*, which was copied by Dr. Polidori, and which appears to be about the most impudent imposition that ever issued from Grub-street. I need hardly say that I know nothing of all this trash, nor whence it may spring,—‘Odes to St Helena,’—‘Farewells to England,’ &c. &c.—and if it can be disavowed, or is worth disavowing, you have full authority to do so. I never wrote, nor conceived, a line on any thing of the kind, any more than of two other things with which I was saddled—something about ‘Gaul,’ and another about ‘Mrs. La Valette;’ and as to the ‘Lily of France,’ I should as soon think of celebrating a turnip. ‘On the morning of my daughter’s birth,’ I had other things to think of than verses; and should never have dreamed of such an invention, till Mr. Johnston and his pamphlet’s advertisement broke in upon me with a new light on the crafts and subtleties of the demon of printing,—or rather publishing.

“I did hope that some succeeding lie would have superseded the thousand and one which were accumulated during last winter. I can forgive whatever may be said of or against me, but not what they make me say or sing for myself. It is enough to answer for what I have written; but it were too much for Job himself to bear what one has not. I suspect that when the Arab Patriarch wished that his ‘enemy had written a book,’ he did not anticipate his own name on the title-page. I

* The following was the advertisement enclosed:

“Neatly printed and hot-pressed, 2s. 6d.

“Lord Byron’s Farewell to England, with Three other Poems—Ode to St. Helena, to My Daughter on her Birthday, and To the Lily of France.

“Printed by J. Johnston, Cheapside, 335; Oxford, 9.

“The above beautiful Poems will be read with the most lively interest, as it is probable they will be the last of the author’s that will appear in England.”

feel quite as much bored with this foolery as it deserves, and more than I should be if I had not a headache.

“Of Glenarvon, Madame de Staël told me (ten days ago, at Copet) marvellous and grievous things; but I have seen nothing of it but the motto, which promises amiably ‘for us and for our tragedy.’ If such be the posy, what should the ring be?—‘a name to all succeeding,*’ &c. The generous moment selected for the publication is probably its kindest accompaniment, and—truth to say—the time was well chosen. I have not even a guess at the contents, except from the very vague accounts I have heard.

* * * * * *
* * * * * *

“I ought to be ashamed of the egotism of this letter. It is not my fault altogether, and I shall be but too happy to drop the subject when others will allow me.

“I am in tolerable plight, and in my last letter told you what I had done in the way of all rhyme. I trust that you prosper, and that your authors are in good condition. I should suppose your stud has received some increase by what I hear. Bertram must be a good horse; does he run next meeting? I hope you will beat the Row.

“Yours alway, &c.”
“Diodati, near Geneva, July 29th, 1816.

“Do you recollect a book, Mathieson’s Letters, which you lent me, which I have still, and yet hope to return to your library? Well, I have encountered at Copet and elsewhere Gray’s correspondent, that same Bonstetten, to whom I lent the translation of his correspondent’s epistles for a few days; but all he could remember of Gray amounts to little,

* The motto is—

“He left a name to all succeeding times,
Link’d with one virtue and a thousand crimes.”

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except that he was the most ‘melancholy and gentlemanlike’ of all possible poets. Bonstetten himself is a fine and very lively old man, and much esteemed by his compatriots; he is also a littérateur of good repute, and all his friends have a mania of addressing to him volumes of letters—Mathieson,
Muller the historian, &c. &c. He is a good deal at Copet, where I have met him a few times. All there are well, except Rocca, who, I am sorry to say, looks in a very bad state of health. Schlegel is in high force, and Madame as brilliant as ever.

“I came here by the Netherlands and the Rhine route, and Basle, Berne, Morat, and Lausanne. I have circumnavigated the Lake, and go to Chamouni with the first fair weather; but really we have had lately such stupid mists, fogs, and perpetual density, that one would think Castlereagh had the Foreign Affairs of the kingdom of Heaven also on his hands. I need say nothing to you of these parts, you having traversed them already. I do not think of Italy before September. I have read Glenarvon, and have also seen Ben. Constant’s Adolphe, and his preface, denying the real people. It is a work which leaves an unpleasant impression, but very consistent with the consequences of not being in love, which is perhaps as disagreeable as any thing, except being so. I doubt, however, whether all such liens (as he calls them) terminate so wretchedly as his hero and heroine’s.

“There is a third Canto (a longer than either of the former) of Childe Harold finished, and some smaller things,—among them a story on the Chateau de Chillon; I only wait a good opportunity to transmit them to the grand Murray, who, I hope, flourishes. Where is Moore? Why is he not out? My love to him, and my perfect consideration and remembrances to all, particularly to Lord and Lady Holland, and to your Duchess of Somerset.

“Ever, &c.

“P.S. I send you a fac simile, a note of Bonstetten’s, thinking you might like to see the hand of Gray’s correspondent.”

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 11
“Diodati, Sept. 29th, 1816.

“I am very much flattered by Mr. Gifford’s good opinion of the MSS., and shall be still more so, if it answers your expectations and justifies his kindness. I liked it myself, but that must go for nothing. The feelings with which most of it was written need not be envied me. With regard to the price, I fixed none, but left it to Mr. Kinnaird, Mr. Shelley, and yourself, to arrange. Of course, they would do their best; and as to yourself, I knew you would make no difficulties. But I agree with Mr. Kinnaird perfectly, that the concluding five hundred should be only conditional; and for my own sake, I wish it to be added, only in case of your selling a certain number, that number to be fixed by yourself. I hope this is fair. In every thing of this kind there must be risk; and till that be past, in one way or the other, I would not willingly add to it, particularly in times like the present. And pray always recollect that nothing could mortify me more—no failure on my own part—than having made you lose by any purchase from me.

“The Monody* was written by request of Mr. Kinnaird for the theatre. I did as well as I could; but where I have not my choice, I pretend to answer for nothing. Mr. Hobhouse and myself are just returned from a journey of lakes and mountains. We have been to the Grindelwald, and the Jungfrau, and stood on the summit of the Wengen Alp; and seen torrents of nine hundred feet in fall, and glaciers of all dimensions; we have heard shepherds’ pipes, and avalanches, and looked on the clouds foaming up from the valleys below us, like the spray of the ocean of hell. Chamouni, and that which it inherits, we saw a month ago; but, though Mont Blanc is higher, it is not equal in wildness to the Jungfrau, the Eighers, the Shreckhorn, and the Rose Glaciers.

“We set off for Italy next week. The road is within this month

* A Monody on the death of Sheridan, which was spoken at Drury-lane theatre.

12 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
infested with bandits, but we must take our chance and such precautions as are requisite.

“Ever, &c.

“P.S. My best remembrances to Mr. Gifford. Pray say all that can be said from me to him.

“I am sorry that Mr. Maturin did not like Phillips’ picture. I thought it was reckoned a good one. If he had made the speech on the original, perhaps he would have been more readily forgiven by the proprietor and the painter of the portrait * * *.”

“Diodati, Sept. 30th, 1816.

“I answered your obliging letters yesterday: to-day the Monody arrived with its title-page, which is, I presume, a separate publication. ‘The request of a friend:’—
‘Obliged by hunger and request of friends.’
I will request you to expunge that same, unless you please to add, ‘by a person of quality,’ or ‘of wit and honour about town.’ Merely say, ‘written to be spoken at Drury-lane.’ To-morrow I dine at Copet. Saturday I strike tents for Italy. This evening, on the lake in my boat with
Mr. Hobhouse, the pole which sustains the mainsail slipped in tacking, and struck me so violently on one of my legs (the worst, luckily) as to make me do a foolish thing, viz. to faint—a downright swoon; the thing must have jarred some nerve or other, for the bone is not injured, and hardly painful (it is six hours since), and cost Mr. Hobhouse some apprehension and much sprinkling of water to recover me. The sensation was a very odd one: I never had but two such before, once from a cut on the head from a stone, several years ago, and once (long ago also) in falling into a great wreath of snow;—a sort of gray giddiness first, then nothingness and a total loss of memory on beginning to recover. The last part is not disagreeable, if one did not find it again.

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 13

“You want the original MSS. Mr. Davies has the first fair copy in my own hand, and I have the rough composition here, and will send or save it for you, since you wish it.

“With regard to your new literary project, if any thing falls in the way which will, to the best of my judgment, suit you, I will send you what I can. At present I must lay by a little, having pretty well exhausted myself in what I have sent you. Italy or Dalmatia and another summer may, or may not, set me off again. I have no plans, and am nearly as indifferent what may come as where I go. I shall take Felicia Hemans’ Restoration, &c. with me; it is a good poem—very.

“Pray repeat my best thanks and remembrances to Mr. Gifford for all his trouble and good-nature towards me.

“Do not fancy me laid up, from the beginning of this scrawl. I tell you the accident for want of better to say; but it is over, and I am only wondering what the deuce was the matter with me.

“I have lately been over all the Bernese Alps and their lakes. I think many of the scenes (some of which were not those usually frequented by the English) finer than Chamouni, which I visited some time before. I have been to Clarens again, and crossed the mountains behind it: of this tour I kept a short journal for my sister, which I sent yesterday in three letters. It is not all for perusal; but if you like to hear about the romantic part, she will, I dare say, show you what touches upon the rocks, &c.

Christabel—I won’t have any one sneer at Christabel: it is a fine wild poem.

* * * * *

Madame de Staël wishes to see the Antiquary, and I am going to take it to her to-morrow. She has made Copet as agreeable as society and talent can make any place on earth.

“Yours ever,

From the Journal mentioned in the foregoing letter, I am enabled to give the following extracts.

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“September 18th, 1816.

“Yesterday, September 17th, I set out with Mr. Hobhouse on an excursion of some days to the mountains.

“September 17th.

“Rose at five; left Diodati about seven, in one of the country carriages (a char-à-banc), our servants on horseback. Weather very fine; the lake calm and clear; Mont Blanc and the Aiguille of Argentières both very distinct; the borders of the lake beautiful. Reached Lausanne before sunset; stopped and slept at ——. Went to bed at nine; slept till five o’clock.

“September 18th.

“Called by my courier; got up. Hobhouse walked on before. A mile from Lausanne, the road overflowed by the lake; got on horseback and rode till within a mile of Vevay. The colt young, but went very well. Overtook Hobhouse, and resumed the carriage, which is an open one. Stopped at Vevay two hours (the second time I had visited it); walked to the church; view from the churchyard superb; within it General Ludlow (the regicide’s) monument—black marble—long inscription—Latin, but simple; he was an exile two-and-thirty years—one of King Charles’s judges. Near him Broughton (who read King Charles’s sentence to Charles Stuart) is buried, with a queer and rather canting, but still a republican, inscription. Ludlow’s house shown; it retains still its inscription—‘Omne solum forti patria.’ Walked down to the Lake side; servants, carriage, saddle-horses—all set off and left us plantés là, by some mistake, and we walked on after them towards Clarens; Hobhouse ran on before, and overtook them at last. Arrived the second time (first time was by water) at Clarens. Went to Chillon through scenery worthy of I know not whom; went over the Castle of Chillon again. On our return met an English party in a carriage; a lady in it fast asleep—fast asleep in the most anti-narcotic spot in the world—excellent! I remember at Chamouni, in the very eyes of Mont Blanc, hearing another woman, English also, exclaim to her party, ‘Did you ever see any thing more rural?’—as if it was Highgate, or Hampstead, or
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 15
Brompton, or Hayes—‘Rural!’ quotha?—Rocks, pines, torrents, glaciers, clouds, and summits of eternal snow far above them—and ‘rural!’

“After a slight and short, dinner we visited the Chateau de Clarens; an Englishwoman has rented it recently (it was not let when I saw it first); the roses are gone with their summer; the family out, but the servants desired us to walk over the interior of the mansion. Saw on the table of the saloon Blair’s Sermons and somebody else (I forget who’s) sermons, and a set of noisy children. Saw all worth seeing, and then descended to the ‘Bosquet de Julie,’ &c. &c.; our guide full of Rousseau, whom he is eternally confounding with St. Preux, and mixing the man and the book. Went again as far as Chillon to revisit the little torrent from the hill behind it. Sunset reflected in the lake. Have to get up at five to-morrow to cross the mountains on horseback; carriage to be sent round; lodged at my old cottage—hospitable and comfortable; tired with a longish ride on the colt, and the subsequent jolting of the char-à-banc, and my scramble in the hot sun.

“Mem. The corporal who showed the wonders of Chillon was as drunk as Blucher, and (to my mind) as great a man; he was deaf also, and thinking every one else so, roared out the legends of the castle so fearfully that H. got out of humour.—However, we saw things from the gallows to the dungeons (the potence and the cachots), and returned to Clarens with more freedom than belonged to the fifteenth century.

“September 19th.

“Rose at five. Crossed the mountains to Montbovon on horseback, and on mules, and, by dint of scrambling, on foot also; the whole route beautiful as a dream, and now to me almost as indistinct. I am so tired; —for though healthy, I have not the strength I possessed but a few years ago. At Montbovon we breakfasted; afterwards, on a steep ascent, dismounted; tumbled down; cut a finger open; the baggage also got loose and fell down a ravine, till stopped by a large tree; recovered baggage; horse tired and drooping; mounted mule. At the approach of the summit of Dent Jument* dismounted again with

* Dent de Jaman.

16 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
Hobhouse and all the party. Arrived at a lake in the very bosom of the mountains; left our quadrupeds with a shepherd, and ascended farther; came to some snow in patches, upon which my forehead’s perspiration fell like rain, making the same dints as in a sieve; the chill of the wind and the snow turned me giddy, but I scrambled on and upwards. Hobhouse went to the highest pinnacle; I did not, but paused within a few yards (at an opening of the cliff). In coming down, the guide tumbled three times; I fell a laughing, and tumbled too—the descent luckily soft, though steep and slippery: Hobhouse also fell, but nobody hurt. The whole of the mountains superb. A shepherd on a very steep and high cliff playing upon his pipe; very different from Arcadia, where I saw the pastors with a long musket instead of a crook, and pistols in their girdles. Our Swiss shepherd’s pipe was sweet, and his tune agreeable. I saw a cow strayed; am told that they often break their necks on and over the crags. Descended to Montbovon; pretty scraggy village, with a wild river and a wooden bridge. Hobhouse went to fish—caught one. Our carriage not come; our horses, mules, &c. knocked up; ourselves fatigued; but so much the better—I shall sleep.

“The view from the highest points of to-day’s journey comprised on one side the greatest part of Lake Leman; on the other, the valleys and mountain of the Canton of Fribourg, and an immense plain, with the lakes of Neuchâtel and Morat, and all which the borders of the Lake of Geneva inherit; we had both sides of the Jura before us in one point of view, with Alps in plenty. In passing a ravine, the guide recommended strenuously a quickening of pace, as the stones fall with great rapidity and occasional damage; the advice is excellent, but, like most good advice, impracticable, the road being so rough that neither mules, nor mankind, nor horses, can make any violent progress. Passed without fractures or menace thereof.

“The music of the cow’s bells (for their wealth, like the patriarchs’, is cattle) in the pastures, which reach to a height far above any mountains in Britain, and the shepherds shouting to us from crag to crag, and playing on their reeds where the steeps appeared almost inaccessible, with the surrounding scenery, realized all that I have ever heard or
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 17
imagined of a pastoral existence:—much more so than Greece or Asia Minor, for there we are a little too much of the sabre and musket order, and if there is a crook in one hand, you are sure to see a gun in the other:—but this was pure and unmixed—solitary, savage, and patriarchal. As we went, they played the ‘Rans des Vaches’ and other airs, by way of farewell. I have lately repeopled my mind with nature.

“September 20th.

“Up at six; off at eight. The whole of this day’s journey at an average of between from 2700 to 3000 feet above the level of the sea. This valley, the longest, narrowest, and considered the finest of the Alps, little traversed by travellers. Saw the bridge of La Roche. The bed of the river very low and deep, between immense rocks, and rapid as anger; —a man and mule said to have tumbled over without damage. The people looked free, and happy, and rich (which last implies neither of the former); the cows superb; a bull nearly leapt into the char-à-banc—‘agreeable companion in a postchaise;’ goats and sheep very thriving. A mountain with enormous glaciers to the right—the Klitzgerberg; further on, the Hockthorn—nice names—so soft!—Stockhorn, I believe, very lofty and scraggy, patched with snow only; no glaciers on it, but some good epaulettes of clouds.

“Passed the boundaries, out of Vaud and into Berne canton; French exchanged for bad German; the district famous for cheese, liberty, property, and no taxes. Hobhouse went to fish—caught none. Strolled to the river; saw boy and kid; kid followed him like a dog; kid could not get over a fence, and bleated piteously; tried myself to help kid, but nearly overset both self and kid into the river. Arrived here about six in the evening. Nine o’clock—going to bed; not tired to-day, but hope to sleep, nevertheless.

“September 21st.

“Off early. The valley of Simmenthal as before. Entrance to the plain of Thoun very narrow; high rocks, wooded to the top; river; new mountains, with fine glaciers. Lake of Thoun; extensive plain with a girdle of Alps. Walked down to the Chateau de Schadau; view along
18 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
the lake; crossed the river in a boat rowed by women. Thoun a very pretty town. The whole day’s journey Alpine and proud.

“September 22d.

“Left Thoun in a boat, which carried us the length of the lake in three hours. The lake small; but the banks fine. Rocks down to the water’s edge. Landed at Newhause; passed Interlachen; entered upon a range of scenes beyond all description, or previous conception. Passed a rock; inscription—two brothers—one murdered the other; just the place for it. After a variety of windings came to an enormous rock. Arrived at the foot of the mountain (the Jungfrau, that is, the Maiden); glaciers; torrents; one of these torrents nine hundred feet in height of visible descent. Lodged at the curate’s. Set out to see the valley; heard an avalanche fall, like thunder; glaciers enormous; storm came on, thunder, lightning, hail; all in perfection, and beautiful. I was on horseback; guide wanted to carry my cane; I was going to give it him, when I recollected that it was a sword-stick, and I thought the lightning might be attracted towards him; kept it myself; a good deal encumbered with it, as it was too heavy for a whip, and the horse was stupid, and stood with every other peal. Got in, not very wet, the cloak being stanch. Hobhouse wet through; Hobhouse took refuge in cottage; sent man, umbrella, and cloak (from the curate’s when I arrived) after him. Swiss curate’s house very good indeed—much better than most English vicarages. It is immediately opposite the torrent I spoke of. The torrent is in shape curving over the rock, like the tail of a white horse streaming in the wind, such as it might be conceived would be that of the ‘pale horse’ on which Death is mounted in the Apocalypse*.

* It is interesting to observe the use to which he afterwards converted these hasty memorandums in his sublime drama of Manfred.

“It is not noon—the sunbow’s rays still arch
The torrent with the many hues of heaven,
And roll the sheeted silver’s waving column
O’er the crag’s headlong perpendicular,
And fling its lines of foaming light along,
And to and fro, like the pale courser’s tail,
The Giant steed, to be bestrode by Death,
As told in the Apocalypse.”

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 19
It is neither mist nor water, but a something between both; its immense height (nine hundred feet) gives it a wave or curve, a spreading here, or condensation there, wonderful and indescribable. I think, upon the whole, that this day has been better than any of this present excursion.

“September 23d.

“Before ascending the mountain, went to the torrent (seven in the morning) again; the sun upon it, forming a rainbow of the lower part of all colours, but principally purple and gold; the bow moving as you move; I never saw any thing like this; it is only in the sunshine. Ascended the Wengen mountain; at noon reached a valley on the summit; left the horses, took off my coat, and went to the summit, seven thousand feet (English feet) above the level of the sea, and about five thousand above the valley we left in the morning. On one side, our view comprised the Jungfrau, with all her glaciers; then the Dent d’Argent, shining like truth; then the Little Giant (the Kleine Eigher); and the Great Giant (the Grosse Eigher), and last, not least, the Wetterhorn. The height of the Jungfrau is 13,000 feet above the sea, 11,000 above the valley: she is the highest of this range. Heard the avalanches falling every five minutes nearly. From whence we stood, on the Wengen Alp, we had all these in view on one side; on the other, the clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the ocean of hell, during a spring tide—it was white, and sulphury, and immeasurably deep in appearance*. The side we ascended was (of course) not of so precipitous a nature; but on arriving at the summit, we looked down upon the other side upon a boiling sea of cloud, dashing against the crags on which we stood (these crags on one side quite perpendicular). Staid a quarter of an hour; begun to descend; quite clear from cloud on that side of the mountain. In passing the masses of snow, I made a snowball and pelted Hobhouse with it.

* “Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down
In mountainous o’erwhelming, come and crush me!
I hear ye momently above, beneath,
Crash with a frequent conflict.
* * * * * *
“The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds
Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury,
Like foam from the roused ocean of deep hell!”

20 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.

“Got down to our horses again; eat something; remounted; heard the avalanches still; came to a morass; Hobhouse dismounted to get over well; I tried to pass my horse over; the horse sunk up to the chin, and of course he and I were in the mud together; bemired, but not hurt; laughed, and rode on.—Arrived at the Grindelwald; dined, mounted again, and rode to the higher glacier—like a frozen hurricane*. Starlight, beautiful, but a devil of a path! Never mind, got safe in; a little lightning, but the whole of the day as fine in point of weather as the day on which Paradise was made. Passed whole woods of withered pines, all withered; trunks stripped and barkless, branches lifeless; done by a single winter—,—their appearance reminded me of me and my family.

“September 24th.

“Set off—at seven; up at five. Passed the black glacier, the mountain Wetterhorn on the right; crossed the Scheideck mountain; came to the Rose glacier, said to be the largest and finest in Switzerland. I think the Bossons glacier at Chamouni as fine; Hobhouse does not. Came to the Reichenbach waterfall two hundred feet high; halted to rest the horses. Arrived in the valley of Oberland; rain came on; drenched a little; only four hours’ rain, however, in eight days. Came to the lake of Brientz, then to the town of Brientz; changed. In the evening, four Swiss peasant girls of Oberhasli came and sang the airs of their country; two of the voices beautiful—the tunes also; so wild and original, and at the same time of great sweetness. The singing is over; but below stairs I hear the notes of a fiddle, which bode no good to my night’s rest; I shall go down and see the dancing.

“September 25th.

“The whole town of Brientz were apparently gathered together in the rooms below; pretty music and excellent waltzing; none but peasants; the dancing much better than in England; the English can’t waltz, never could, never will. One man with his pipe in his mouth, but danced as

* “O’er the savage sea,
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
We skim its rugged breakers, which put on
The aspect of a tumbling tempest’s foam,
Frozen in a moment.”MANFRED.
† “Like these blasted pines,
Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless.IBID.

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 21
well as the others; some other dances in pairs and in fours, and very good. I went to bed, but the revelry continued below late and early. Brientz but a village. Rose early. Embarked on the lake of Brientz; rowed by the women in a long boat; presently we put to shore and another woman jumped in. It seems it is the custom here for the boats to be manned by women: for of five men and three women in our bark, all the women took an oar, and but one man.

“Got to Interlachen in three hours; pretty lake; not so large as that of Thoun. Dined at Interlachen. Girl gave me some flowers, and made me a speech in German, of which I know nothing; I do not know whether the speech was pretty, but as the woman was, I hope so. Reembarked on the lake of Thoun; fell asleep part of the way; sent our horses round; found people on the shore, blowing up a rock with gunpowder; they blew it up near our boat, only telling us a minute before;—mere stupidity, but they might have broken our noddles. Got to Thoun in the evening; the weather has been tolerable the whole day. But as the wild part of our tour is finished, it don’t matter to us; in all the desirable part, we have been most lucky in warmth and clearness of atmosphere.

“September 26th.

“Being out of the mountains, my journal must be as flat as my journey. From Thoun to Berne, good road, hedges, villages, industry, property, and all sorts of tokens of insipid civilization. From Berne to Fribourg; different canton; catholics; passed a field of battle; Swiss beat the French in one of the late wars against the French republic. Bought a dog. The greater part of this tour has been on horseback, on foot, and on mule.

“September 28th.

“Saw the tree, planted in honour of the battle of Morat; three hundred and forty years old; a good deal decayed. Left Fribourg, but first saw the cathedral; high tower. Overtook the baggage of the nuns of La Trappe, who are removing to Normandy; afterwards a coach, with a quantity of nuns in it. Proceeded along the banks of the lake of Neuchatel; very pleasing and soft, but not so mountainous—at least, the Jura, not appearing so, after the Bernese Alps. Reached Yverdun in the dusk; a long line of large trees on the border of the lake; fine and sombre; the Auberge nearly full—a German princess and suite; got rooms.

22 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
“September 29th.

“Passed through a fine and flourishing country, but not mountainous. In the evening reached Aubonne (the entrance and bridge something like that of Durham), which commands by far the fairest view of the Lake of Geneva; twilight; the moon on the lake; a grove on the height, and of very noble trees. Here Tavernier (the eastern traveller) bought (or built) the chateau, because the site resembled and equalled that of Erivan, a frontier city of Persia; here he finished his voyages, and I this little excursion,—for I am within a few hours of Diodati, and have little more to see, and no more to say.”

With the following melancholy passage this Journal concludes.

“In the weather for this tour (of 13 days), I have been very fortunate—fortunate in a companion (Mr. H.)—fortunate in our prospects, and exempt from even the little petty accidents and delays which often render journeys in a less wild country disappointing. I was disposed to be pleased. I am a lover of nature and an admirer of beauty. I can bear fatigue and welcome privation, and have seen some of the noblest views in the world. But in all this the recollection of bitterness, and more especially of recent and more home desolation, which must accompany me through life, have preyed upon me here; and neither the music of the shepherd, the crashing of the avalanche, nor the torrent, the mountain, the glacier, the forest, nor the cloud, have for one moment lightened the weight upon my heart, nor enabled me to lose my own wretched identity in the majesty, and the power, and the glory, around, above, and beneath me * * * * * * *.”

Among the inmates at Sécheron, on his arrival at Geneva, Lord Byron had found Mr. and Mrs. Shelley, and a female relative of the latter, who had about a fortnight before taken up their residence at this hotel. It was the first time that Lord Byron and Mr. Shelley ever met; though, long before, when the latter was quite a youth,—being the younger of the two by four or five years,—he had sent to the noble poet a copy of his Queen Mab, accompanied by a letter, in which, after detailing at full length all the accusations he had heard brought against his character, he
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 23
added, that, should these charges not have been true, it would make him happy to be honoured with his acquaintance. The book alone, it appears, reached its destination,—the letter having miscarried,—and Lord Byron was known to have expressed warm admiration of the opening lines of the poem.

There was, therefore, on their present meeting at Geneva, no want of disposition towards acquaintance on either side, and an intimacy almost immediately sprung up between them. Among the tastes common to both, that for boating was not the least strong; and in this beautiful region they had more than ordinary temptations to indulge in it. Every evening, during their residence under the same roof at Sécheron, they embarked, accompanied by the ladies and Polidori, on the Lake; and to the feelings and fancies inspired by these excursions, which were not unfrequently prolonged into the hours of moonlight, we are indebted for some of those enchanting stanzas*, in which the poet has given way to his passionate love of Nature so fervidly.

“There breathes a living fragrance from the shore
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drips the light drop of the suspended oar.
* * * * * *
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy,—for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away.”

A person who was of these parties has thus described to me one of their evenings. “When the bise or north-east wind blows, the waters of the Lake are driven towards the town and, with the stream of the Rhone, which sets strongly in the same direction, combine to make a very rapid current towards the harbour. Carelessly, one evening, we had yielded to its course, till we found ourselves almost driven on the piles; and it required all our rowers’ strength to master the tide. The

* Childe Harold, Canto 3.

24 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
waves were high and inspiriting,—we were all animated by our contest with the elements. ‘I will sing you an Albanian song,’ cried Lord Byron; ‘now, be sentimental and give me all your attention.’ It was a strange, wild howl that he gave forth; but such as, he declared, was an exact imitation of the savage Albanian mode,—laughing, the while, at our disappointment, who had expected a wild Eastern melody.”

Sometimes the party landed, for a walk upon the shore, and, on such occasions, Lord Byron would loiter behind the rest, lazily trailing his sword-stick along, and moulding, as he went, his thronging thoughts into shape. Often too, when in the boat, he would lean abstractedly over the side, and surrender himself up, in silence, to the same absorbing task.

The conversation of Mr. Shelley, from the extent of his poetic reading, and the strange, mystic speculations into which his system of philosophy led him, was of a nature strongly to arrest and interest the attention of Lord Byron, and to turn him away from worldly associations and topics into more abstract and untrodden ways of thought. As far as contrast, indeed, is an enlivening ingredient of such intercourse, it would be difficult to find two persons more formed to whet each other’s faculties by discussion, as on few points of common interest between them did their opinions agree; and that this difference had its root deep in the conformation of their respective minds needs but a glance through the rich, glittering labyrinth of Mr. Shelley’s pages to assure us.

In Lord Byron, the real was never forgotten in the fanciful. However Imagination had placed her whole realm at his disposal, he was no less a man of this world than a ruler of hers; and, accordingly, through the airiest and most subtile creations of his brain still the life-blood of truth and reality circulates. With Shelley it was far otherwise;—his fancy (and he had sufficient for a whole generation of poets) was the medium through which he saw all things, his facts as well as his theories; and not only the greater part of his poetry, but the political and philosophical speculations in which he indulged, were all distilled through the same over-refining and unrealizing alembic. Having started as a teacher and reformer of the world, at an age when he could know nothing of the world but from fancy, the persecution he met with on the threshold of
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 25
this boyish enterprise but confirmed him in his first paradoxical views of human ills and their remedies; and, instead of waiting to take lessons of authority and experience, he, with a courage, admirable had it been but wisely directed, made war upon both. From this sort of self-willed start in the world, an impulse was at once given to his opinions and powers directly contrary, it would seem, to their natural bias, and from which his life was too short to allow him time to recover. With a mind, by nature, fervidly pious, he yet refused to acknowledge a Supreme Providence, and substituted some airy abstraction of “Universal Love” in its place. An aristocrat by birth and, as I understand, also in appearance and manners, he was yet a leveller in politics, and to such an Utopian extent as to be, seriously, the advocate of a community of property. With a delicacy and even romance of sentiment, which lends such grace to some of his lesser poems, he could notwithstanding contemplate a change in the relations of the sexes, which would have led to results fully as gross as his arguments for it were fastidious and refined; and though benevolent and generous to an extent that seemed to exclude all idea of selfishness, he yet scrupled not, in the pride of system, to disturb wantonly the faith of his fellow-men, and, without substituting any equivalent good in its place, to rob the wretched of a hope, which, even if false, would be worth all this world’s best truths.

Upon no point were the opposite tendencies of the two friends,—to long established opinions and matter of fact on one side, and to all that was most innovating and visionary on the other,—more observable than in their notions on philosophical subjects; Lord Byron being, with the great bulk of mankind, a believer in the existence of Matter and Evil, while Shelley so far refined upon the theory of Berkeley as not only to resolve the whole of Creation into spirit, but to add also to this immaterial system some pervading principle, some abstract non-entity of Love and Beauty, of which—as a substitute, at least, for Deity—the philosophic bishop had never dreamed. On such subjects, and on poetry, their conversation generally turned; and, as might be expected from Lord Byron’s facility in receiving new impressions, the opinions of his companion were not altogether without some influence on his mind. Here and there, among those fine bursts of passion and description that abound
26 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
in the Third Canto of
Childe Harold, may be discovered traces of that mysticism of meaning,—that sublimity, losing itself in its own vagueness,—which so much characterized the writings of his extraordinary friend; and in one of the notes we find Shelley’s favourite Pantheism of Love thus glanced at:—“But this is not all: the feeling with which all around Clarens and the opposite rocks of Meillerie is invested, is of a still higher and more comprehensive order than the mere sympathy with individual passion; it is a sense of the existence of love in its most extended and sublime capacity, and of our own participation of its good and of its glory: it is the great principle of the universe, which is there more condensed, but not less manifested; and of which, though knowing ourselves a part, we lose our individuality, and mingle in the beauty of the whole.”

Another proof of the ductility with which he fell into his new friend’s tastes and predilections, appears in the tinge, if not something deeper, of the manner and cast of thinking of Mr. Wordsworth, which is traceable through so many of his most beautiful stanzas. Being naturally, from his love of the abstract and imaginative, an admirer of the great poet of the Lakes, Mr. Shelley omitted no opportunity of bringing the beauties of his favourite writer under the notice of Lord Byron; and it is not surprising that, once persuaded into a fair perusal, the mind of the noble poet should—in spite of some personal and political prejudices which unluckily survived this short access of admiration—not only feel the influence but, in some degree. even reflect the hues of one of the very few real and original poets that this age (fertile as it is in rhymers quales ego et Cluvienus) has had the glory of producing.

When Polidori was of their party (which, till he found attractions elsewhere, was generally the case), their more elevated subjects of conversation were almost always put to flight by the strange sallies of this eccentric young man, whose vanity made him a constant butt for Lord Byron’s sarcasm and merriment. The son of a highly respectable Italian gentleman, who was in early life, I understand, the secretary of Alfieri, Polidori seems to have possessed both talents and dispositions which, had he lived, might have rendered him a useful member of his profession and of society. At the time, however, of which we are speaking, his ambition of distinction far outwent both his powers and opportunities
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 27
of attaining it. His mind, accordingly, between ardour and weakness, was kept in a constant hectic of vanity, and he seems to have alternately provoked and amused his noble employer, leaving him seldom any escape from anger but in laughter. Among other pretensions, he had set his heart upon shining as an author, and one evening, at
Mr. Shelley’s, producing a tragedy of his own writing, insisted that they should undergo the operation of hearing it. To lighten the infliction, Lord Byron took upon himself the task of reader; and the whole scene, from the description I have heard of it, must have been not a little trying to gravity. In spite of the jealous watch kept upon every countenance by the author, it was impossible to withstand the smile lurking in the eye of the reader, whose only resource against the outbreak of his own laughter lay in lauding, from time to time, most vehemently, the sublimity of the verses;—particularly some that began “’Tis thus the goiter’d idiot of the Alps”—and then adding, at the close of every such eulogy, “I assure you, when I was in the Drury-lane Committee, much worse things were offered to us.”

After passing a fortnight under the same roof with Lord Byron at Sécheron, Mr. and Mrs. Shelley removed to a small house on the Mont-Blanc side of the Lake, within about ten minutes’ walk of the villa which their noble friend had taken upon the high banks, called Belle Rive, that rose immediately behind them. During the fortnight that Lord Byron outstaid them at Sécheron, though the weather had changed and was become windy and cloudy, he every evening crossed the Lake, with Polidori, to visit them; and, “as he returned again (says my informant) over the darkened waters, the wind, from far across, bore us his voice singing your Tyrolese Song of Liberty, which I then first heard, and which is to me inextricably linked with his remembrance.”

In the mean time, Polidori had become jealous of the growing intimacy of his noble patron with Shelley; and the plan which he now understood them to have formed of making a tour of the Lake without him completed his mortification. In the soreness of his feelings on this subject he indulged in some intemperate remonstrances, which Lord Byron indignantly resented; and the usual bounds of courtesy being
28 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
passed on both sides, the dismissal of Polidori appeared, even to himself, inevitable. With this prospect, which he considered nothing less than ruin, before his eyes, the poor young man was, it seems, on the point of committing that fatal act which, two or three years afterwards, he actually did perpetrate. Retiring to his own room, he had already drawn forth the poison from his medicine chest, and was pausing to consider whether he should write a letter before he took it, when Lord Byron (without, however, the least suspicion of his intention) tapped at the door and entered, with his hand held forth in sign of reconciliation. The sudden revulsion was too much for poor Polidori, who burst into tears; and, in relating all the circumstances of the occurrence afterwards, he declared that nothing could exceed the gentle kindness of Lord Byron in soothing his mind and restoring him to composure.

Soon after this the noble poet removed to Diodati. He had, on his first coming to Geneva, with the good-natured view of introducing Polidori into company, gone to several Genevese parties; but, this task performed, he retired altogether from society, till late in the summer, when, as we have seen, he visited Copet. His means were at this time very limited, and though he lived by no means parsimoniously, all unnecessary expenses were avoided in his establishment. The young physician had been, at first, a source of much expense to him, being in the habit of hiring a carriage, at a louis a day (Lord Byron not then keeping horses) to take him to his evening parties; and it was some time before his noble patron had the courage to put this luxury down.

The liberty, indeed, which this young person allowed himself was, on one occasion, the means of bringing an imputation upon the poet’s hospitality and good-breeding, which, like every thing else, true or false, tending to cast a shade upon his character, was for some time circulated with most industrious zeal. Without any authority from the noble owner of the mansion, he took upon himself to invite some Genevese gentlemen (M. Pictet, and, I believe, M. Bonstetten) to dine at Diodati; and the punishment which Lord Byron thought it right to inflict upon him for such freedom was, “as he had invited the guests, to leave him also to entertain them.” This step, though merely a consequence of the
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 29
physician’s indiscretion, it was not difficult, of course, to convert into a serious charge of caprice and rudeness against the host himself.

By such repeated instances of thoughtlessness (to use no harsher term), it is not wonderful that Lord Byron should at last be driven into a feeling of distaste towards his medical companion, of whom he one day remarked, that “he was exactly the kind of person to whom, if he fell overboard, one would hold out a straw to know if the adage be true that drowning men catch at straws.”

A few more anecdotes of this young man, while in the service of Lord Byron, may, as throwing light upon the character of the latter, be not inappropriately introduced. While the whole party were, one day, out boating, Polidori, by some accident, in rowing, struck Lord Byron violently on the knee-pan with his oar; and the latter, without speaking, turned his face away to hide the pain. After a moment he said, “Be so kind, Polidori, another time, to take more care, for you hurt me very much.” “I am glad of it,” answered the other, “I am glad to see you can suffer pain.” In a calm, suppressed tone, Lord Byron replied, “Let me advise you, Polidori, when you, another time, hurt any one, not to express your satisfaction. People don’t like to be told that those who give them pain are glad of it; and they cannot always command their anger. It was with some difficulty that I refrained from throwing you into the water, and, but for Mrs. Shelley’s presence, I should probably have done some such rash thing.” This was said without ill-temper, and the cloud soon passed away.

Another time, when the lady just mentioned was, after a shower of rain, walking up the hill to Diodati, Lord Byron, who saw her from his balcony where he was standing with Polidori, said to the latter, “Now, you who wish to be gallant ought to jump down this small height and offer your arm.” Polidori chose the easiest part of the declivity and leaped;—but, the ground being wet, his foot slipped and he sprained his ancle*. Lord Byron instantly helped to carry him in and procure cold water for the foot; and, after he was laid on the sofa, perceiving that he

* To this lameness of Polidori, one of the preceding letters of Lord Byron alludes.

30 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
was uneasy, went up stairs himself (an exertion which his lameness made painful and disagreeable) to fetch a pillow for him. “Well, I did not believe you had so much feeling,” was Polidori’s gracious remark, which, it may be supposed, not a little clouded the noble poet’s brow.

A dialogue which Lord Byron himself used to mention as having taken place between them during their journey on the Rhine, is amusingly characteristic of both the persons concerned. “After all,” said the physician, “what is there you can do that I cannot?”—“Why, since you force me to say,” answered the other, “I think there are three things I can do which you cannot.” Polidori defied him to name them. “I can,” said Lord Byron, “swim across that river—I can snuff out that candle with a pistol-shot at the distance of twenty paces—and I have written a poem* of which 14,000 copies were sold in one day.”

The jealous pique of the doctor against Shelley was constantly breaking out, and on the occasion of some victory which the latter had gained over him in a sailing-match, he took it into his head that his antagonist had treated him with contempt; and went so far, in consequence, notwithstanding Shelley’s known sentiments against duelling, as to proffer him a sort of challenge, at which Shelley, as might be expected, only laughed. Lord Byron, however, fearing that the vivacious physician might still further take advantage of this peculiarity of his friend, said to him, “Recollect, that though Shelley has some scruples about duelling, I have none; and shall be, at all times, ready to take his place.”

At Diodati, his life was passed in the same regular round of habits and occupations into which, when left to himself, he always naturally fell; a late breakfast, then a visit to the Shelleys’ cottage and an excursion on the Lake;—at five, dinner† (when he usually preferred being alone),

* The Corsair.

† His system of diet here was regulated by an abstinence almost incredible. A thin slice of bread, with tea, at breakfast—a light, vegetable dinner, with a bottle or two of Seltzer water, tinged with vin de Grave, and in the evening, a cup of green tea, without milk or sugar, formed the whole of his sustenance. The pangs of hunger he appeased by privately chewing tobacco and smoking cigars.

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 31
and then, if the weather permitted, an excursion again. He and
Shelley had joined in purchasing a boat, for which they gave twenty-five louis,—a small sailing vessel, fitted to stand the usual squalls of the climate, and, at that time, the only keeled boat on the Lake. When the weather did not allow of their excursions after dinner,—an occurrence not unfrequent during this very wet summer,—the inmates of the cottage passed their evenings at Diodati, and, when the rain rendered it inconvenient for them to return home, remained there to sleep. “We often,” says one, who was not the least ornamental of the party, “sat up in conversation till the morning light. There was never any lack of subjects, and, grave or gay, we were always interested.”

During a week of rain at this time, having amused themselves with reading German ghost-stories, they agreed, at last, to write something in imitation of them. “You and I,” said Lord Byron to Mrs. Shelley, “will publish ours together.” He then began his tale of the Vampire; and, having the whole arranged in his head, repeated to them a sketch of the story* one evening,—but, from the narrative being in prose, made but little progress in filling up his outline. The most memorable result, indeed, of their story-telling compact, was Mrs. Shelley’s wild and powerful romance of Frankenstein,—one of those original conceptions that take hold of the public mind at once, and for ever.

Towards the latter end of June, as we have seen in one of the preceding letters, Lord Byron, accompanied by his friend Shelley, made a tour in his boat round the Lake, and visited, “with the Heloise before him,” all those scenes around Meillerie and Clarens, which have become consecrated for ever by ideal passion, and by that power which Genius alone possesses, of giving such life to its dreams as to make them seem realities. In the squall off Meillerie, which he mentions, their danger was considerable†. In the expectation, every moment, of being obliged

* From his remembrance of this sketch, Polidori afterwards vamped up his strange novel of the Vampire, which, under the supposition of its being Lord Byron’s, was received with such enthusiasm in France. It would, indeed, not a little deduct from our value of foreign fame, if what some French writers have asserted be true, that the appearance of this extravagant novel among our neighbours first attracted their attention to the genius of Byron.

† “The wind (says Lord Byron’s fellow-voyager) gradually increased in violence until it

32 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
to swim for his life, Lord Byron had already thrown off his coat, and, as Shelley was no swimmer, insisted upon endeavouring, by some means, to save him. This offer, however, Shelley positively refused; and seating himself quietly upon a locker, and grasping the rings at each end firmly in his hands, declared his determination to go down in that position, without a struggle*.

Subjoined to that interesting little work, the “Six Weeks’ Tour,” there is a letter by Shelley himself, giving an account of this excursion round the Lake, and written with all the enthusiasm such scenes should inspire. In describing a beautiful child they saw at the village of Nerni, he says, “My companion gave him a piece of money, which he took without speaking, with a sweet smile of easy thankfulness, and then with an unembarrassed air turned to his play.” There were, indeed, few things Lord Byron more delighted in than to watch beautiful children at play;—“many a lovely Swiss child (says a person who saw him daily at this time) received crowns from him as the reward of their grace and sweetness.”

Speaking of their lodgings at Nerni, which were gloomy and dirty, Mr. Shelley says, “On returning to our inn, we found that the servant had arranged our rooms, and deprived them of the greater portion of their former disconsolate appearance. They reminded my companion of Greece:—it was five years, he said, since he had slept in such beds.”

blew tremendously; and, as it came from the remotest extremity of the Lake, produced waves of a frightful height, and covered the whole surface with a chaos of foam. One of our boatmen, who was a dreadfully stupid fellow, persisted in holding the sail at a time when the boat was on the point of being driven under water by the hurricane. On discovering this error, he let it entirely go, and the boat for a moment refused to obey the helm; in addition, the rudder was so broken as to render the management of it very difficult; one wave fell in and then another.”

* “I felt, in this near prospect of death (says Mr. Shelley), a mixture of sensations, among which terror entered, though but subordinately. My feelings would have been less painful, had I been alone; but I knew that my companion would have attempted to save me, and I was overcome with humiliation, when I thought that his life might have been risked to preserve mine. When we arrived at St. Gingoux, the inhabitants, who stood on the shore, unaccustomed to see a vessel as frail as ours, and fearing to venture at all on such a sea, exchanged looks of wonder and congratulation with our boatmen, who, as well as ourselves, were well pleased to set foot on shore.”

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 33

Luckily for Shelley’s full enjoyment of these scenes, he had never before happened to read the Heloise; and though his companion had long been familiar with that romance, the sight of the region itself, the “birthplace of deep Love,” every spot of which seemed instinct with the passion of the story, gave to the whole a fresh and actual existence in his mind. Both were under the spell of the Genius of the place,—both full of emotion; and as they walked silently through the vineyards that were once the “bosquet de Julie,” Lord Byron suddenly exclaimed, “Thank God, Polidori is not here.”

That the glowing stanzas suggested to him by this scene were written upon the spot itself appears almost certain, from the letter addressed to Mr. Murray on his way back to Diodati, in which he announces the Third Canto as complete, and consisting of 117 stanzas. At Ouchy, near Lausanne,—the place from which that letter is dated, he and his friend were detained two days, in a small inn, by the weather; and it was there, in that short interval, that he wrote his “Prisoner of Chillon,” adding one more deathless association to the already immortalized localities of the Lake.

On his return from this excursion to Diodati, an occasion was afforded for the gratification of his jesting propensities by the avowal of the young physician that—he had fallen in love. On the evening of this tender confession they both appeared at Shelley’s cottage—Lord Byron, in the highest and most boyish spirits, rubbing his hands as he walked about the room, and in that utter incapacity of retention which was one of his foibles, making jesting allusions to the secret he had just heard. The brow of the doctor darkened as this pleasantry went on, and, at last, he angrily accused Lord Byron of hardness of heart “I never,” said he, “met with a person so unfeeling.” This sally, though the poet had evidently brought it upon himself, annoyed him most deeply. “Call me cold-hearted—me insensible!” he exclaimed, with manifest emotion—“as well might you say that glass is not brittle, which has been cast down a precipice, and lies dashed to pieces at the foot!”

In the month of July he paid a visit to Copet, and was received by the distinguished hostess with a cordiality the more sensibly felt by him as, from his personal unpopularity at this time, he had hardly ventured
34 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
to count upon it*. In her usual frank style, she took him to task upon his matrimonial conduct—but in a way that won upon his mind, and disposed him to yield to her suggestions. He must endeavour, she told him, to bring about a reconciliation with his wife, and must submit to contend no longer with the opinion of the world. In vain did he quote her own motto to
Delphine, “Un homme peut braver, une femme doit se succomber aux opinions du monde;” —her reply was, that all this might be very well to say, but that, in real life, the duty and necessity of yielding belonged also to the man. Her eloquence, in short, so far succeeded that he was prevailed upon to write a letter to a friend in England, declaring himself still willing to be reconciled to Lady Byron,—a concession not a little startling to those who had so often, lately, heard him declare that, “having done all in his power to persuade Lady Byron to return, and with this view put off as long as he could signing the deed of separation, that step being once taken, they were now divided for ever.”

Of the particulars of this brief negotiation that ensued upon Madame de Staël’s suggestion, I have no very accurate remembrance; but there can be little doubt that its failure, after the violence he had done his own pride in the overture, was what first infused any mixture of resentment or bitterness into the feelings hitherto entertained by him throughout these painful differences. He had, indeed, since his arrival in Geneva, invariably spoken of his lady with kindness and regret, imputing the course she had taken, in leaving him, not to herself but others, and assigning whatever little share of blame he would allow her to bear in the transaction to the simple and, doubtless, true cause—her not at all understanding him. “I have no doubt,” he would sometimes say, “that she really did believe me to be mad.”

Another resolution connected with his matrimonial affairs, in which

* In the account of this visit to Copet in his Memoranda, he spoke in high terms of the daughter of his hostess, the present Duchess de Broglie, and, in noticing how much she appeared to be attached to her husband, remarked that “Nothing was move pleasing than to see the developement of the domestic affections in a very young woman.” Of Madame de Staël, in that Memoir, he spoke thus: “Madame de Staël was a good woman at heart and the cleverest at bottom, but spoilt by a with to be—she knew not what. In her own house she was amiable; in any other person’s, you wished her gone, and in her own again.”

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 35
he often, at this time, professed his fixed intention to persevere, was that of never allowing himself to touch any part of his wife’s fortune. Such a sacrifice, there is no doubt, would have been, in his situation, delicate and manly: but though the natural bent of his disposition led him to make the resolution, he wanted,—what few, perhaps, could have attained,—the fortitude to keep it.

The effects of the late struggle on his mind, in stirring up all its resources and energies, was visible in the great activity of his genius during the whole of this period, and the rich variety, both in character and colouring, of the works with which it teemed. Besides the Third Canto of Childe Harold and the Prisoner of Chillon, he produced also his two Poems, “Darkness” and “the Dream,” the latter of which cost him many a tear in writing,—being, indeed, the most mournful, as well as picturesque “story of a wandering life” that ever came from the pen and heart of man. Those verses, too, entitled “the Incantation,” which he introduced afterwards, without any connexion with the subject, into Manfred, were also (at least, the less bitter portion of them) the production of this period; and as they were written soon after the last fruitless attempt at reconciliation, it is needless to say who was in his thoughts while he penned some of the opening stanzas.

“Though thy slumber must be deep,
Yet thy spirit shall not sleep;
There are shades which will not vanish,
There are thoughts thou canst not banish;
By a power to thee unknown,
Thou canst never be alone;
Thou art wrapt as with a shroud,
Thou art gather’d in a cloud;
And for ever shalt thou dwell
In the spirit of this spell.
“Though thou see’st me not pass by,
Thou shalt feel me with thine eye,
As a thing that, though unseen,
Must be near thee, and hath been;
And when, in that secret dread,
Thou hast turn’d around thy head,
36 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
Thou shalt marvel I am not
As thy shadow on the spot,
And the power which thou dost feel
Shall be what thou must conceal.”

Besides the unfinished “Vampire,” he began also, at this time, another romance in prose, founded upon the story of the Marriage of Belphegor, and intended to shadow out his own matrimonial fate. The wife of this satanic personage he described much in the same spirit that pervades his delineation of Donna Ines in the First Canto of Don Juan. While engaged, however, in writing this story, he heard from England, that Lady Byron was ill, and, his heart softening at the intelligence, he threw the manuscript into the fire.—So constantly were the good and evil principles of his nature conflicting for mastery over him*.

The two following Poems, so different from each other in their character,—the first prying with an awful scepticism into the darkness of another world, and the second breathing all that is most natural and tender in the affections of this,—were also written at this time, and have never before been published.

“Could I remount the river of my years
To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,
I would not trace again the stream of hours
Between their outworn banks of wither’d flowers,
But bid it flow as now—until it glides
Into the number of the nameless tides.
* * * * * *

Upon the same occasion, indeed, he wrote some verses in a spirit not quite so generous, of which a few of the opening lines is all I shall give:

And thou wert sad—yet was I not with thee;
And thou wert sick—and yet I was not near.
Methought that Joy end Health alone could be
Where I was not, and pain and sorrow here.
And is it thus?—it is as I foretold,
And shall be more so:—”&c. &c.

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 37
What is this Death?—a quiet of the heart?
The whole of that of which we are a part?
For Life is but a vision—what I see
Of all which lives alone is life to me,
And being so—the absent are the dead,
Who haunt us from tranquillity, and spread
A dreary shroud around us, and invest
With sad remembrancers our hours of rest.
“The absent are the dead—for they are cold,
And ne’er can be what once we did behold;
And they are changed, and cheerless,—or if yet
The unforgotten do not all forget,
Since thus divided—equal must it be
If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea;
It may be both—but one day end it must
In the dark union of insensate dust.
“The under-earth inhabitants—are they
But mingled millions decomposed to clay?
The ashes of a thousand ages spread
Wherever man has trodden or shall tread?
Or do they in their silent cities dwell
Each in his incommunicative cell?
Or have they their own language? and a sense
Of breathless being?—darken’d and intense
As midnight in her solitude?—Oh Earth!
Where are the past?—and wherefore had they birth?
The dead are thy inheritors—and we
But bubbles on thy surface; and the key
Of thy profundity is in the grave,
The ebon portal of thy peopled cave,
Where I would walk in spirit, and behold
Our elements resolved to things untold,
And fathom hidden wonders, and explore
The essence of great bosoms now no more.”
* * * * * *
38 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
“My sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same—
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny,—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father’s son’s, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him our grandsire’s* fate of yore,—
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.
If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils, overlook’d or unforeseen,
I have sustain’d my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.
“Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marr’d
The gift,—a fate, or will, that walk’d astray;

* “Admiral Byron was remarkable for never making a voyage without a tempest. He was known to the sailors by the facetious name of ‘Foul-weather Jack.’
‘But, though it were tempest-tost,
Still his bark could not be lost.’
He returned safely from the wreck of the Wager (in Anson’s Voyage), and subsequently circumnavigated the world, many years after, as commander of a similar expedition.”

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 39
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.
“Kingdoms and empires in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have roll’d
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something—I know not what—does still uphold
A spirit of slight patience;—not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
“Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me,—or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,—
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.
“I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.
“Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation;—to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
40 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
“Oh that then wert but with me!—but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret;
There may be others which I less may show;—
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my alter’d eye.
“I did remind thee of our own dear lake*,
By the old hall which may be mine no more.
Leman’s is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
Resign’d for ever, or divided far.
“The world is all before me; I but ask
Of nature that with which she will comply—
It is but in her summer’s sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister—till I look again on thee.
“I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not;—for at length I see
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
The earliest—even the only paths for me—
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept;
I had not suffer’d, and thou hadst not wept.
“With false ambition what had I to do?
Little with love, and least of all with fame;

* The lake of Newstead Abbey.

A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 41
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make—a name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over—I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.
“And for the future, this world’s future may
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outlived myself by many a day;
Having survived so many things that were;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
Of life which might have fill’d a century,
Before its fourth in time had pass’d me by.
“And for the remnant which may be to come
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless,—for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb
My feelings farther.—Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around
And worship Nature with a thought profound.
“For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
We were and are—I am, even as thou art—
Beings who ne’er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From life’s commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined—let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last!”

In the month of August, Mr. M. G. Lewis arrived to pass some time with him; and he was soon after visited by Mr. Richard Sharpe, of whom he makes such honourable mention in the Journal already given, and with whom, as I have heard this gentleman say, it now gave him evident pleasure to converse about their common friends in England.
42 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
Among those who appeared to have left the strongest impressions of interest and admiration on his mind was (as easily will be believed by all who know this distinguished person)
Sir James Mackintosh.

Soon after the arrival of his friends, Mr. Hobhouse and Mr. S. Davies, he set out, as we have seen, with the former on a tour through the Bernese Alps,—after accomplishing which journey, about the beginning of October he took his departure, accompanied by the same gentleman, for Italy.

The first letter of the following series was, it will be seen, written a few days before he left Diodati.

“Diodati, Oct. 5, 1818.
* * * * * *

“Save me a copy of ‘Buck’s Richard III.’ republished by Longman; but do not send out more books, I have too many.

“The ‘Monody’ is in too many paragraphs, which makes it unintelligible to me; if any one else understands it in the present form, they are wiser; however, as it cannot be rectified till my return, and has been already published, even publish it on in the collection—it will fill up the place of the omitted epistle.

“Strike out ‘by request of a friend,’ which is sad trash, and must have been done to make it ridiculous.

“Be careful in the printing the stanzas beginning,
‘Though the day of my destiny’s, &c’
which I think well of as a composition.

“‘The Antiquary’ is not the best of the three, but much above all the last twenty years, saving its elder brothers. Holcroft’s Memoirs are valuable as showing strength of endurance in the man, which is worth more than all the talent in the world.

“And so you have been publishing ‘Margaret of Anjou’ and an Assyrian tale, and refusing W. W.’s Waterloo, and the ‘Hue and Cry.’ I know not which most to admire, your rejections or acceptances. I
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 43
believe that prose is, after all, the most reputable, for certes, if one could foresee—but I won’t go on—that is, with this sentence; but poetry is, I fear, incurable. God help me! if I proceed in this scribbling, I shall have frittered away my mind before I am thirty, but it is at times a real relief to me. For the present—good evening.”

“Martigny, October 9th, 1816.

“Thus far on my way to Italy. We have just passed the ‘Pisse-Vache’ (one of the first torrents in Switzerland) in time to view the iris which the sun flings along it before noon.

“I have written to you twice lately. Mr. Davies, I hear, is arrived. He brings the original MS. which you wished to see. Recollect that the printing is to be from that which Mr. Shelley brought; and recollect also, that the concluding stanzas of Childe Harold (those to my daughter) which I had not made up my mind whether to publish or not when they were first written (as you will see marked on the margin of the first copy), I had (and have) fully determined to publish with the rest of the Canto, as in the copy which you received by Mr. Shelley, before I sent it to England.

“Our weather is very fine, which is more than the summer has been.—At Milan I shall expect to hear from you. Address either to Milan, poste restante, or by way of Geneva, to the care of Monsr. Hentsch, Banquier. I write these few lines in case my other letter should not reach you; I trust one of them will.

“P.S. My best respects and regards to Mr. Gifford. Will you tell him, it may perhaps be as well to put a short note to that part relating to Clarens, merely to say, that of course the description does not refer to that particular spot so much as to the command of scenery round it? I do not know that this is necessary, and leave it to Mr. G.’s choice, as my editor,—if he will allow me to call him so at this distance.”

44 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
“Milan, October 15th, 1816.

“I hear that Mr. Davies has arrived in England,—but that of some letters, &c., committed to his care by Mr. H., only half have been delivered. This intelligence naturally makes me feel a little anxious for mine, and amongst them for the MS., which I wished to have compared with the one sent by me through the hands of Mr. Shelley. I trust that it has arrived safely,—and indeed not less so, that some little crystals, &c., from Mont Blanc, for my daughter and my nieces, have reached their address. Pray have the goodness to ascertain from Mr. Davies that no accident (by customhouse or loss) has befallen them, and satisfy me on this point at your earliest convenience.

“If I recollect rightly, you told me that Mr. Gifford had kindly undertaken to correct the press (at my request) during my absence—at least I hope so. It will add to my many obligations to that gentleman.

“I wrote to you, on my way here, a short note, dated Martigny. Mr. Hobhouse and myself arrived here a few days ago, by the Simplon and Lago Maggiore route. Of course we visited the Borromean Islands, which are fine, but too artificial. The Simplon is magnificent in its nature and its art,—both God and man have done wonders,—to say nothing of the devil, who must certainly have had a hand (or a hoof) in some of the rocks and ravines through and over which the works are carried.

“Milan is striking—the cathedral superb. The city altogether reminds me of Seville, but a little inferior. We had heard divers bruits, and took precautions on the road, near the frontier, against some ‘many worthy fellows (i. e. felons) that were out,’ and had ransacked some preceding travellers, a few weeks ago, near Sesto,—or Cesto, I forget which,—of cash and raiment, besides putting them in bodily fear, and lodging about twenty slugs in the retreating part of a courier belonging to Mr. Hope. But we were not molested, and, I do not think, in any danger, except of making mistakes in the way of cocking and priming
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 45
whenever we saw an old house, or an ill-looking thicket, and now and then suspecting the ‘true men,’ who have very much the appearance of the thieves of other countries. What the thieves may look like, I know not, nor desire to know, for it seems they come upon you in bodies of thirty (‘in buckram and Kendal green’) at a time, so that voyagers have no great chance. It is something like poor dear Turkey in that respect, but not so good, for there you can have as great a body of rogues to match the regular banditti; but here the gens d’armes are said to be no great things, and as for one’s own people, one can’t carry them about like Robinson Crusoe with a gun on each shoulder.

“I have been to the Ambrosian library—it is a fine collection—full of MSS. edited and unedited. I enclose you a list of the former recently published: these are matters for your literati. For me, in my simple way, I have been most delighted with a correspondence of letters, all original and amatory, between Lucretia Borgia and Cardinal Bembo, preserved there. I have pored over them and a lock of her hair, the prettiest and fairest imaginable—I never saw fairer—and shall go repeatedly to read the epistles over and over; and if I can obtain some of the hair by fair means, I shall try. I have already persuaded the librarian to promise me copies of the letters, and I hope he will not disappoint me. They are short, but very simple, sweet, and to the purpose; there are some copies of verses in Spanish also by her; the tress of her hair is long, and, as I said before, beautiful. The Brera gallery of paintings has some line pictures, but nothing of a collection. Of painting I know nothing; but I like a Guercino—a picture of Abraham putting away Hagar and Ishmael—which seems to me natural and goodly. The Flemish school, such as I saw it in Flanders, I utterly detested, despised, and abhorred; it might be painting, but it was not nature; the Italian is pleasing, and their ideal very noble.

“The Italians I have encountered here are very intelligent and agreeable. In a few days I am to meet Monti. By the way, I have just heard an anecdote of Beccaria, who published such admirable things against the punishment of death. As soon as his book was out, his servant (having read it, I presume,) stole his watch; and his master, while correcting the press of a second edition, did all he could to have him hanged by way of advertisement.

46 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.

“I forgot to mention the triumphal arch begun by Napoleon, as a gate to this city. It is unfinished, but the part completed worthy of another age and the same country. The society here is very oddly carried on,—at the theatre, and the theatre only,—which answers to our opera. People meet there as at a rout, but in very small circles. From Milan I shall go to Venice. If you write, write to Geneva, as before—the letter will be forwarded.

“Yours ever.”
“Milan, November 1st, 1816.

“I have recently written to you rather frequently, but without any late answer. Mr. Hobhouse and myself set out for Venice in a few days; but you had better still address to me at Mr. Hentsch’s, Banquier, Geneva; he will forward your letters.

“I do not know whether I mentioned to you, some time ago, that I had parted with the Dr. Polidori a few weeks previous to my leaving Diodati. I know no great harm of him; but he had an alacrity of getting into scrapes, and was too young and heedless; and having enough to attend to in my own concerns, and without time to become his tutor, I thought it much better to give him his congé. He arrived at Milan some weeks before Mr. Hobhouse and myself. About a week ago, in consequence of a quarrel at the theatre with an Austrian officer, in which he was exceedingly in the wrong, he has contrived to get sent out of the territory, and is gone to Florence. I was not present, the pit having been the scene of altercation; but on being sent for from the Cavalier Breme’s box, where I was quietly staring at the ballet, I found the man of medicine begirt with grenadiers, arrested by the guard, conveyed into the guard-room, where there was much swearing in several languages. They were going to keep him there for the night; but on my giving my name, and answering for his apparition next morning, he was permitted egress. Next day he had an order from the government to be gone in twenty-four hours, and accordingly gone he is, some days ago. We did what we could for him, but to no purpose;
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 47
and indeed he brought it upon himself, as far as I could learn, for I was not present at the squabble itself. I believe this is the real state of his case; and I tell it you because I believe things sometimes reach you in England in a false or exaggerated form. We found Milan very polite and hospitable, and have the same hopes of Verona and Venice. I have filled my paper.

“Ever yours, &c
“Verona, November 6th, 1816.

“Your letter, written before my departure from England, and addressed to me in London, only reached me recently. Since that period, I have been over a portion of that part of Europe which I had

* With Milan, however, or its society the noble traveller was far from being pleased, and in his Memoranda I recollect, he described his stay there to be “like a ship under quarantine.” Among other persons whom he met in the society of that place was M. Beyle, the ingenious author of “L’Histoire de la Peinture en Italie,” who thus describes the impression their first interview left upon him.

“Ce fut pendant l’automne de 1816, que je la rencontrai en théatre de la Scala, à Milan, dans la loge de M. Louis de Bréme. Je fus frappé des yeux de Lord Byron au moment où il écoutait un sestetto d’un opéra de Mayer intitulé Elena. Je n’ai vu de ma vie, rien de plus beau ni de plus expressif. Encore aujourd’hui, si je viens à penser à l’expression qu’un grand peintre devrait donner au génie, cette tête sublime reparaît tout-à-coup devant moi. J’eus un instant d’enthousiasme, et oubliant la juste répugnance que tout homme un peu fier doit avoir à se faire présenter a un pair d’Angletarre, je priai M. de Bréme de m’introduire à Lord Byron. Je me trouvai le lendemain à diner chez M. de Bréme, avec lui, et le célèbre Monti, l’immortel auteur de la Basvigliana. On parla poésie, on en vint à demander quels étaient les douze plus beaux vers faits depuis un siécle, en Français, en Italien, en Anglais. Les Italiens présens s’accordèrent à désigner les douze premiere vers de la Mascheroniana de Monti, comme ce que l’on avait fait de plus beau dans leur langue, depuis cent ans. Monti voulut bien nous les réciter. Je regardai Lord Byron, il fut ravi. La nuance de hauteur, ou plutôt l’air d’un homme qui se trouve avoir à repousser une importunité, qui déparait un peu sa belle figure, disparut tout-à-coup pour faire à l’expression du bonheur. Le premier chant de la Mascheroniana, que Monti récita presque en entier, vaincu par les acclamations des auditeurs, causa la plus vive sensation à l’auteur de Childe Harold. Je n’oublierai jamais l’expression divine de ses traits; c’était l’alr serein de la puissance et du génie, et suivant moi, Lord Byron n’avait, en ce moment, aucune affectation à se reprocher.”

48 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.

not already seen. About a month since, I crossed the Alps from Switzerland to Milan, which I left a few days ago, and am thus far on my way to Venice, where I shall probably winter. Yesterday I was on the shores of the Benacus, with his fluctibus et fremitu.
Catullus’s Sirmium has still its name and site, and is remembered for his sake; but the very heavy autumnal rains and mists prevented our quitting our route (that is, Hobhouse and myself, who are at present voyaging together), as it was better not to see it at all than to a great disadvantage.

“I found on the Benacus the same tradition of a city still visible in calm weather below the waters, which you have preserved of Lough Neagh, ‘When the clear, cold eve’s declining.’ I do not know that it is authorised by records; but they tell you such a story, and say that the city was swallowed up by an earthquake. We moved to-day over the frontier to Verona, by a road suspected of thieves—‘the wise convey it call,’—but without molestation. I shall remain here a day or two to gape at the usual marvels—amphitheatre, paintings, and all that time-tax of travel—though Catullus, Claudian, and Shakspeare have done more for Verona than it ever did for itself. They still pretend to show, I believe, the ‘tomb of all the Capulets’—we shall see.

“Among many things at Milan, one pleased me particularly, viz., the correspondence (in the prettiest love-letters in the world) of Lucretia Borgia with Cardinal Bembo (who, you say, made a very good cardinal), and a lock of her hair, and some Spanish verses of hers,—the lock very fair and beautiful. I took one single hair of it as a relic, and wished sorely to get a copy of one or two of the letters; but it is prohibited: that I don’t mind; but it was impracticable; and so I only got some of them by heart. They are kept in the Ambrosian Library, which I often visited to look them over—to the scandal of the librarian, who wanted to enlighten me with sundry valuable MSS., classical, philosophical, and pious. But I stick to the Pope’s daughter, and wish myself a cardinal.

“I have seen the finest parts of Switzerland, the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Swiss and Italian lakes; for the beauties of which I refer you to the Guide-book. The north of Italy is tolerably free from the English; but the south swarms with them, I am told. Madame de Staël I saw frequently at Copet, which she renders remarkably pleasant. She has been particularly kind to me. I was for some months her neighbour, in
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 49
a country house called Diodati, which I had on the Lake of Geneva. My plans are very uncertain; but it is probable that you will see me in England in the spring. I have some business there. If you write to me, will you address to the care of
Mons. Hentsch, Banquier, Geneva, who receives and forwards my letters. Remember me to Rogers, who wrote to me lately, with a short account of your poem, which, I trust, is near the light. He speaks of it most highly.

“My health is very endurable, except that I am subject to casual giddiness and faintnesses, which is so like a fine lady, that I am rather ashamed of the disorder. When I sailed, I had a physician with me, whom, after some months of patience, I found it expedient to part with, before I left Geneva some time. On arriving at Milan, I found this gentleman in very good society, where he prospered for some weeks; but, at length, at the theatre he quarrelled with an Austrian officer, and was sent out by the government in twenty-four hours. I was not present at his squabble; but, on hearing that he was put under arrest, I went and got him out of his confinement, but could not prevent his being sent off, which, indeed, he partly deserved, being quite in the wrong, and having begun a row for row’s sake. I had preceded the Austrian government some weeks myself, in giving him his congé from Geneva. He is not a bad fellow, but very young and hot-headed, and more likely to incur diseases than to cure them. Hobhouse and myself found it useless to intercede for him. This happened some time before we left Milan. He is gone to Florence.

“At Milan I saw, and was visited by, Monti, the most celebrated of the living Italian poets. He seems near sixty: in face he is like the late Cooke the actor. His frequent changes in politics have made him very unpopular as a man. I saw many more of their literati; but none whose names are well known in England, except Acerbi. I lived much with the Italians, particularly with the Marquis of Breme’s family, who are very able and intelligent men, especially the Abate. There was a famous improvvisatore who held forth while I was there. His fluency astonished me; but, although I understand Italian, and speak it (with more readiness than accuracy), I could only carry off a few very common-place mythological images, and one line about Artemisia, and another about Algiers,
50 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
with sixty words of an entire tragedy about Eteocles and Polynices. Some of the Italians liked him—others called his performance ‘seccatura’ (a devilish good word, by the way)—and all Milan was in controversy about him.

“The state of morals in these parts is in some sort lax. A mother and son were pointed out at the theatre, as being pronounced by the Milanese world to be of the Theban dynasty—but this was all. The narrator (one of the first men in Milan) seemed to be not sufficiently scandalized by the taste or the tie. All society in Milan is carried on at the opera: they have private boxes, where they play at cards, or talk, or any thing else; but (except at the Cassino) there are no open houses, or balls, &c. &c. *
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *

“The peasant girls have all very fine dark eyes, and many of them are beautiful. There are also two dead bodies in fine preservation—one Saint Carlo Boromeo, at Milan; the other not a saint, but a chief, named Visconti, at Monza—both of which appeared very agreeable. In one of the Boromean isles (the Isola bella), there is a large laurel—the largest known—on which Buonaparte, staying there just before the battle of Marengo, carved with his knife the word ‘Battaglia.’ I saw the letters, now half worn out and partly erased.

“Excuse this tedious letter. To be tiresome is the privilege of old age and absence: I avail myself of the latter, and the former I have anticipated. If I do not speak to you of my own affairs, it is not from want of confidence, but to spare you and myself. My day is over—what then?—I have had it. To be sure, I have shortened it; and if I had done as much by this letter, it would have been as well. But you will forgive that, if not the other faults of

“Yours ever and most affectionately,

“P.S. Nov. 7, 1816.

“I have been over Verona. The amphitheatre is wonderful—beats even Greece. Of the truth of Juliet’s story, they seem tenacious to a degree, insisting on the fact—giving a date (1303) and showing a tomb.
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 51
It is a plain, open, and partly decayed sarcophagus, with withered leaves in it, in a wild and desolate conventual garden, once a cemetery, now ruined to the very graves. The situation struck me as very appropriate to the legend, being blighted as their love. I have brought away a few pieces of the granite, to give to my daughter and my nieces. Of the other marvels of this city, paintings, antiquities, &c., excepting the tombs of the Scaliger princes, I have no pretensions to judge. The gothic monuments of the Scaligers pleased me, but ‘a poor virtuoso am I,’ and

“Ever yours.”

It must have been observed, in my account of Lord Byron’s life previous to his marriage, that, without leaving altogether unnoticed (what, indeed, was too notorious to be so evaded) certain affairs of gallantry in which he had the reputation of being engaged, I have thought it right, besides refraining from such details in my narrative, to suppress also whatever passages in his Journals and Letters might be supposed to bear too personally or particularly on the same delicate topics. Incomplete as the strange history of his mind and heart must, in one of its most interesting chapters, be left by these omissions, still a deference to that peculiar sense of decorum in this country, which marks the mention of such frailties as hardly a less crime than the commission of them, and, still more, the regard due to the feelings of the living, who ought not rashly to be made to suffer for the errors of the dead, have combined to render this sacrifice, however much it may be regretted, necessary.

We have now, however, shifted the scene to a region where less caution is requisite;—where, from the different standard applied to female morals in these respects, if the wrong itself be not lessened by this diminution of the consciousness of it, less scruple may be, at least, felt towards persons so circumstanced, and whatever delicacy we may think right to exercise in speaking of their frailties must be with reference rather to our views and usages than theirs.

Availing myself, with this latter qualification, of the greater latitude thus allowed me, I shall venture so far to depart from the plan hitherto pursued, as to give, with but little suppression, the noble poet’s letters relative to his Italian adventures. To throw a veil altogether over these
52 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
irregularities of his private life would be to afford—were it even practicable—but a partial portraiture of character; while, on the other hand, to rob him of the advantage of being himself the historian of his errors (where no injury to others can flow from the disclosure) would be to deprive him of whatever softening light can be thrown round such transgressions by the vivacity and fancy, the passionate love of beauty, and the strong yearning after affection which will be found to have, more or less, mingled with even the least refined of his attachments. Neither is any great danger to be apprehended from the sanction or seduction of such an example; as they who would dare to plead the authority of Lord Byron for their errors must first be able to trace them to the same palliating sources,—to that sensibility, whose very excesses showed its strength and depth,—that stretch of imagination, to the very verge, perhaps, of what reason can bear without giving way,—that whole combination, in short, of grand but disturbing powers, which alone could be allowed to extenuate such moral derangement, but which, even in him thus dangerously gifted, were insufficient to excuse it.

Having premised these few observations, I shall now proceed, with less interruption, to lay his correspondence, during this and the two succeeding years, before the reader.

“Venice, November 17th, 1816.

“I wrote to you from Verona the other day in my progress hither, which letter I hope you will receive. Some three years ago, or it may be more, I recollect your telling me that you had received a letter from our friend Sam, dated ‘On board his gondola.’ My gondola is, at this present, waiting for me on the canal; but I prefer writing to you in the house, it being autumn—and rather an English autumn than otherwise. It is my intention to remain at Venice during the winter, probably, as it has always been (next to the East) the greenest island of my imagination. It has not disappointed me; though its evident decay would, perhaps,
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 53
have that effect upon others. But I have been familiar with ruins too long to dislike desolation. Besides, I have fallen in love, which, next to falling into the canal (which would be of no use, as I can swim), is the best or the worst thing I could do. I have got some extremely good apartments in the house of a ‘Merchant of Venice,’ who is a good deal occupied with business, and has a wife in her twenty-second year.
Marianna (that is her name) is in her appearance altogether like an antelope. She has the large, black, oriental eyes, with that peculiar expression in them which is seen rarely among Europeans—even the Italians—and which many of the Turkish women give themselves by tinging the eyelid,—an art not known out of that country, I believe. This expression she has naturally,—and something more than this. In short, I cannot describe the effect of this kind of eye,—at least upon me. Her features are regular, and rather aquiline—mouth small—skin clear and soft, with a kind of hectic colour—forehead remarkably good: her hair is of the dark gloss, curl, and colour of Lady J * *’s: her figure is light and pretty, and she is a famous songstress—scientifically so: her natural voice (in conversation, I mean,) is very sweet; and the naïveté of the Venetian dialect is always pleasing in the mouth of a woman.

“November 23.

“You will perceive that my description, which was proceeding with the minuteness of a passport, has been interrupted for several days. In the mean time * * * * * * *

* * * * * *
* * * * * *
“December 5.

“Since my former dates, I do not know that I have much to add on the subject, and, luckily, nothing to take away; for I am more pleased than ever with my Venetian, and begin to feel very serious on that point—so much so, that I shall be silent.

* * * * * *

“By way of divertisement, I am studying daily, at an Armenian monastery, the Armenian language. I found that my mind wanted
54 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
something craggy to break upon; and this—as the most difficult thing I could discover here for an amusement—I have chosen, to torture me into attention. It is a rich language, however, and would amply repay any one the trouble of learning it. I try, and shall go on;—but I answer for nothing, least of all for my intentions or my success. There are some very curious MSS. in the monastery, as well as books; translations also from Greek originals, now lost, and from Persian and Syriac, &c.; besides works of their own people. Four years ago the French instituted an Armenian professorship. Twenty pupils presented themselves on Monday morning, full of noble ardour, ingenuous youth, and impregnable industry. They persevered, with a courage worthy of the nation and of universal conquest, till Thursday; when fifteen of the twenty succumbed to the six-and-twentieth letter of the alphabet. It is, to be sure, a Waterloo of an Alphabet—that must be said for them. But it is so like these fellows, to do by it as they did by their sovereigns—abandon both; to parody the old rhymes, ‘Take a thing and give a thing’—‘Take a King and give a King.’ They are the worst of animals, except their conquerors.

“I hear that H—n is your neighbour, having a living in Derbyshire. You will find him an excellent-hearted fellow, as well as one of the cleverest; a little, perhaps, too much japanned by preferment in the church and the tuition of youth, as well as inoculated with the disease of domestic felicity, besides being overrun with fine feelings about woman and constancy (that small change of Love, which people exact so rigidly, receive in such counterfeit coin, and repay in baser metal); but, otherwise, a very worthy man, who has lately got a pretty wife, and (I suppose) a child by this time. Pray remember me to him, and say that I know not which to envy most—his neighbourhood, him, or you.

“Of Venice I shall say little. You must have seen many descriptions; and they are most of them like. It is a poetical place; and classical, to us, from Shakspeare and Otway. I have not yet sinned against it in verse, nor do I know that I shall do so, having been tuneless since I crossed the Alps, and feeling, as yet, no renewal of the ‘estro.’ By the way, I suppose you have seen ‘Glenarvon.’ Madame de Staël lent it me to read from Copet last autumn. It seems to me that, if the authoress had written the truth, and nothing but the truth—the whole truth—the
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 55
romance would not only have been more romantic, but more entertaining. As for the likeness, the picture can’t be good—I did not sit long enough. When you have leisure, let me hear from and of you, believing me ever and truly yours most affectionately,


“P.S. Oh! your Poem—is it out? I hope Longman has paid his thousands: but don’t you do as H * * T * *’s father did, who, having made money by a quarto tour, became a vinegar merchant; when, lo! his vinegar turned sweet (and be d—d to it) and ruined him. My last letter to you (from Verona) was enclosed to Murray—have you got it? Direct to me here, poste restante. There are no English here at present. There were several in Switzerland—some women; but, except Lady Dalrymple Hamilton, most of them as ugly as virtue—at least, those that I saw.”

“Venice, December 24th, 1816.

“I have taken a fit of writing to you, which portends postage—once from Verona—once from Venice, and again from Venice—thrice that is. For this you may thank yourself, for I heard that you complained of my silence—so, here goes for garrulity.

“I trust that you received my other twain of letters. My ‘way of life’ (or ‘May of life,’ which is it, according to the commentators?)—my ‘way of life’ is fallen into great regularity. In the mornings I go over in my gondola to hobble Armenian with the friars of the convent of St. Lazarus, and to help one of them in correcting the English of an English and Armenian grammar which he is publishing. In the evenings I do one of many nothings—either at the theatres, or some of the conversaziones, which are like our routs, or rather worse, for the women sit in a semicircle by the lady of the mansion, and the men stand about the room. To be sure, there is one improvement upon ours—instead of lemonade with their ices, they hand about stiff rum-punch—punch, by my palate; and this they think English. I would not disabuse, them of so agreeable an error,—‘no, not for Venice.’

56 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.

“Last night I was at the Count Governor’s, which, of course, comprises the best society, and is very much like other gregarious meetings in every country,—as in ours,—except that, instead of the Bishop of Winchester, you have the Patriarch of Venice; and a motley crew of Austrians, Germans, noble Venetians, foreigners, and, if you see a quiz, you may be sure he is a Consul. Oh, by the way, I forgot, when I wrote from Verona, to tell you that at Milan I met with a countryman of yours—a colonel * * * *, a very excellent, good-natured fellow, who knows and shows all about Milan, and is, as it were, a native there. He is particularly civil to strangers, and this is his history,—at least, an episode of it.

“Six-and-twenty years ago Col. * * * *, then an ensign, being in Italy, fell in love with the Marchesa * * * *, and she with him. The lady must be, at least, twenty years his senior. The war broke out; he returned to England, to serve—not his country, for that’s Ireland—but England, which is a different thing; and she—heaven knows what she did. In the year 1814, the first annunciation of the Definitive Treaty of peace (and tyranny) was developed to the astonished Milanese by the arrival of Col. * * * *, who, flinging himself full length at the feet of Madame * * * *, murmured forth, in half-forgotten Irish Italian, eternal vows of indelible constancy. The lady screamed and exclaimed, ‘Who are you?’ The Colonel cried, ‘What, don’t you know me? I am so and so,’ &c. &c. &c.; till, at length, the Marchesa, mounting from reminiscence to reminiscence, through the lovers of the intermediate twenty-five years, arrived at last at the recollection of her povero sub-lieutenant. She then said, ‘Was there ever such virtue?’ (that was her very word) and, being now a widow, gave him apartments in her palace, reinstated him in all the rights of wrong, and held him up to the admiring world as a miracle of incontinent fidelity, and the unshaken Abdiel of absence.

“Methinks this is as pretty a moral tale as any of Marmontel’s. Here is another. The same lady, several years ago, made an escapade with a Swede, Count Fersen (the same whom the Stockholm mob quartered and lapidated not very long since), and they arrived at an Osteria on the road to Rome or thereabouts. It was a summer evening, and, while they were at supper, they were suddenly regaled by a symphony
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 57
of fiddles in an adjacent apartment, so prettily played, that, wishing to hear them more distinctly, the Count rose, and going into the musical society, said, ‘Gentlemen, I am sure that, as a company of gallant cavaliers, you will be delighted to show your skill to a lady, who feels anxious,’ &c. &c. The men of harmony were all acquiescence—every instrument was tuned and toned, and, striking up one of their most ambrosial airs, the whole band followed the Count to the lady’s apartment. At their head was the first fiddler, who, bowing and fiddling at the same moment, headed his troop and advanced up the room. Death and discord—it was the Marquis himself, who was on a serenading party in the country, while his spouse had run away from town. The rest may be imagined—but, first of all, the lady tried to persuade him that she was there on purpose to meet him, and had chosen this method for an harmonic surprise. So much for this gossip, which amused me when I heard it, and I send it to you, in the hope it may have the like effect. Now we’ll return to Venice.

“The day after to-morrow (to-morrow being Christmas-day) the Carnival begins. I dine with the Countess Albrizzi and a party, and go to the opera. On that day the Phenix (not the Insurance Office, but) the theatre of that name, opens: I have got me a box there for the season, for two reasons, one of which is, that the music is remarkably good. The Contessa Albrizzi, of whom I have made mention, is the De Staël of Venice, not young, but a very learned, unaffected, good-natured woman, very polite to strangers, and, I believe, not at all dissolute, as most of the women are. She has written very well on the works of Canova, and also a volume of Characters, besides other printed matter. She is of Corfu, but married a dead Venetian—that is, dead since he married.

“My flame (my ‘Donna’ whom I spoke of in my former epistle, my Marianna) is still my Marianna, and I, her—what she pleases. She is by far the prettiest woman I have seen here, and the most loveable I have met with any where—as well as one of the most singular. I believe I told you the rise and progress of our liaison in my former letter. Lest that should not have reached you, I will merely repeat that she is a Venetian, two-and-twenty years old, married to a merchant well to do in
58 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
the world, and that she has great black oriental eyes, and all the qualities which her eyes promise. Whether being in love with her has steeled me or not, I do not know; but I have not seen many other women who seem pretty. The nobility, in particular, are a sad-looking race—the gentry rather better. And now, what art thou doing?
“What are you doing now,
Oh Thomas Moore?
What are you doing now,
Oh Thomas Moore?
Sighing or suing now,
Rhyming or wooing now,
Billing or cooing now,
Which, Thomas Moore?
Are you not near the Luddites? By the Lord! if there’s a row, but I’ll be among ye! How go on the weavers—the breakers of frames—the Lutherans of politics—the reformers?
“As the Liberty lads o’er the sea
Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood,
So we, boys, we
Will die fighting, or live free,
And down with all kings but King Ludd!
“When the web that we weave is complete,
And the shuttle exchanged for the sword,
We will fling the winding-sheet
O’er the despot at our feet,
And dye it deep in the gore he has pour’d.
“Though black as his heart its hue,
Since his veins are corrupted to mud,
Yet this is the dew
Which the tree shall renew
Of Liberty, planted by Ludd!
There’s an amiable chanson for you—all impromptu. I have written it
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 59
principally to shock your neighbour
* * * *, who is all clergy and loyalty—mirth and innocence—milk and water.
“But the Carnival’s coming,
Oh Thomas Moore,
The Carnival’s coming,
Oh Thomas Moore,
Masking and humming,
Fifing and drumming,
Guitarring and strumming,
Oh Thomas Moore.
The other night I saw a new play,—and the author. The subject was the sacrifice of Isaac. The play succeeded, and they called for the author—according to continental custom—and he presented himself, a noble Venetian, Mali, or
Malapiero, by name. Mala was his name, and pessima his production,—at least, I thought so, and I ought to know, having read more or less of five hundred Drury-lane offerings, during my coadjutorship with the sub-and-super Committee.

“When does your Poem of Poems come out? I hear that the E. R. has cut up Coleridge’s Christabel, and declared against me for praising it. I praised it, firstly, because I thought well of it; secondly, because Coleridge was in great distress, and, after doing what little I could for him in essentials, I thought that the public avowal of my good opinion might help him further, at least with the booksellers. I am very sorry that J * * has attacked him, because, poor fellow, it will hurt him in mind and pocket. As for me, he’s welcome—I shall never think less of J * * for any thing he may say against me or mine in future.

“I suppose Murray has sent you, or will send (for I do not know whether they are out or no) the poem, or poesies, of mine, of last summer. By the mass! they’re sublime—‘Ganion Coheriza’—gainsay who dares! Pray, let me hear from you, and of you, and, at least, let me know that you have received these three letters. Direct, right here, poste restante.

“Ever and ever, &c.

“P.S. I heard the other day of a pretty trick of a bookseller, who has published some d—d nonsense, swearing the bastards to me, and
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saying he gave me five hundred guineas for them. He lies—I never wrote such stuff, never saw the poems, nor the publisher of them, in my life, nor had any communication, directly or indirectly, with the fellow. Pray say as much for me, if need be. I have written to
Murray, to make him contradict the impostor.”

“Venice, November 25th, 1816.

“It is some months since I have heard from or of you—I think, not since I left Diodati. From Milan I wrote once or twice; but have been here some little time, and intend to pass the winter without removing. I was much pleased with the Lago di Garda, and with Verona, particularly the amphitheatre, and a sarcophagus in a convent garden, which they show as Juliet’s: they insist on the truth of her history. Since my arrival at Venice, the lady of the Austrian governor told me that between Verona and Vicenza there are still ruins of the castle of the Montecchi, and a chapel once appertaining to the Capulets. Romeo seems to have been of Vicenza, by the tradition; but I was a good deal surprised to find so firm a faith in Bandello’s novel, which seems really to have been founded on a fact.

“Venice pleases me as much as I expected, and I expected much. It is one of those places which I know before I see them, and has always haunted me the most after the East. I like the gloomy gaiety of their gondolas, and the silence of their canals. I do not even dislike the evident decay of the city, though I regret the singularity of its vanished costume: however, there is much left still; the Carnival, too, is coming.

“St. Mark’s, and indeed Venice, is most alive at night. The theatres are not open till nine, and the society is proportionably late. All this is to my taste, but most of your countrymen miss and regret the rattle of hackney coaches, without which they can’t sleep.

“I have got remarkably good apartments in a private house; I see something of the inhabitants (having had a good many letters to some of
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 61
them); I have got my gondola; I read a little, and luckily could speak Italian (more fluently than correctly) long ago. I am studying, out of curiosity, the Venetian dialect, which is very naïve, and soft, and peculiar, though not at all classical; I go out frequently, and am in very good contentment.

“The Helen of Canova (a bust which is in the house of Madame the Countess d’Albrizzi, whom I know) is, without exception, to my mind, the most perfectly beautiful of human conceptions, and far beyond my ideas of human execution.
‘In this beloved marble view,
Above the works and thoughts of man,
What Nature could, but would not, do,
And Beauty and Canova can!
Beyond imagination’s power,
Beyond the bard’s defeated art,
With immortality her dower,
Behold the Helen of the heart!
Talking of the ‘heart’ reminds me that I have fallen in love—fathomless love; but lest you should make some splendid mistake, and envy me the possession of some of those princesses or countesses with whose affections your English voyagers are apt to invest themselves, I beg leave to tell you that my goddess is only the wife of a ‘Merchant of Venice;’ but then she is pretty as an antelope, is but two-and-twenty years old, has the large, black, oriental eyes, with the Italian countenance, and dark glossy hair, of the curl and colour of
Lady J * *’s. Then she has the voice of a lute, and the song of a seraph (though not quite so sacred), besides a long postscript of graces, virtues, and accomplishments, enough to furnish out a new chapter for Solomon’s Song. But her great merit is finding out mine—there is nothing so amiable as discernment.

“The general race of women appear to be handsome; but in Italy, as on almost all the continent, the highest orders are by no means a well-
62 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
looking generation, and indeed reckoned by their countrymen very much otherwise. Some are exceptions, but most of them as ugly as Virtue herself.

“If you write, address to me here, poste restante, as I shall probably stay the winter over. I never see a newspaper, and know nothing of England, except in a letter now and then from my sister. Of the MS. sent you, I know nothing, except that you have received it, and are to publish it, &c. &c.: but when, where, and how, you leave me to guess; but it don’t much matter.

“I suppose you have a world of works passing through your process for next year? When does Moore’s Poem appear? I sent a letter for him, addressed to your care, the other day.”

“Venice, Dec. 4th, 1816.

“I have written to you so frequently of late, that you will think me a bore; as I think you a very impolite person, for not answering my letters from Switzerland, Milan, Verona, and Venice. There are some things I wanted, and want, to know; viz. whether Mr. Davies, of inaccurate memory, had or had not delivered the MS. as delivered to him; because, if he has not, you will find that he will bountifully bestow transcriptions on all the curious of his acquaintance, in which case you may probably find your publication anticipated by the ‘Cambridge’ or other Chronicles. In the next place,—I forget what was next; but, in the third place, I want to hear whether you have yet published, or when you mean to do so, or why you have not done so, because in your last (Sept. 20th,—you may be ashamed of the date), you talked of this being done immediately.

“From England I hear nothing, and know nothing of any thing or any body. I have but one correspondent (except Mr. Kinnaird on
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 63
business now and then), and her a female; so that I know no more of your island, or city, than the Italian version of the French papers chooses to tell me, or the advertisements of
Mr. Colburn tagged to the end of your Quarterly Review for the year ago. I wrote to you at some length last week, and have little to add, except that I have begun, and am proceeding in, a study of the Armenian language, which I acquire, as well as I can, at the Armenian convent, where I go every day to take lessons of a learned friar, and have gained some singular and not useless information with regard to the literature and customs of that oriental people. They have an establishment here—a church and convent of ninety monks, very learned and accomplished men, some of them. They have also a press, and make great efforts for the enlightening of their nation. I find the language (which is twin, the literal and the vulgar) difficult, but not invincible (at least, I hope not). I shall go on. I found it necessary to twist my mind round some severer study, and this, as being the hardest I could devise here, will be a file for the serpent.

“I mean to remain here till the spring, so address to me directly to Venice, poste restante.Mr. Hobhouse for the present, is gone to Rome, with his brother, brother’s wife, and sister, who overtook him here: he returns in two months. I should have gone too, but I fell in love, and must stay that over. I should think that and the Armenian alphabet will last the winter. The lady has, luckily for me, been less obdurate than the language, or, between the two, I should have lost my remains of sanity. By the way, she is not an Armenian but a Venetian, as I believe I told you in my last. As for Italian, I am fluent enough, even in its Venetian modification, which is something like the Somersetshire version of English; and as for the more classical dialects, I had not forgot my former practice much during my voyaging.

“Yours, ever and truly,

“P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford.”

64 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
“Venice, Dec. 9th, 1816.

In a letter from England, I am informed that a man named Johnson has taken upon himself to publish some poems called a ‘Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a Tempest, and an Address to my Daughter,’ &c. and to attribute them to me, adding that he had paid five hundred guineas for them. The answer to this is short: I never wrote such poems, never received the sum he mentions, nor any other in the same quarter, nor (as far as moral or mortal certainty can be sure) ever had, directly or indirectly, the slightest communication with Johnson in my life; not being aware that the person existed till this intelligence gave me to understand that there were such people. Nothing surprises me, or this perhaps would, and most things amuse me, or this probably would not. With regard to myself, the man has merely lied; that’s natural—his betters have set him the example: but with regard to you, his assertion may perhaps injure you in your publications; and I desire that it may receive the most public and unqualified contradiction. I do not know that there is any punishment for a thing of this kind, and if there were, I should not feel disposed to pursue this ingenious mountebank farther than was necessary for his confutation; but thus far it may be necessary to proceed.

“You will make what use you please of this letter; and Mr. Kinnaird, who has power to act for me in my absence, will, I am sure, readily join you in any steps which it may be proper to take with regard to the absurd falsehood of this poor creature. As you will have recently received several letters from me on my way to Venice, as well as two written since my arrival, I will not at present trouble you further.

“Ever, &c.

“P.S. Pray let me hear that you have received this letter. Address to Venice, poste restante.

“To prevent the recurrence of similar fabrications, you may state, that I consider myself responsible for no publication from the year 1812
A. D. 1816. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 65
up to the present date, which is not from your press. I speak of course from that period, because, previously,
Cawthorn and Ridge had both printed compositions of mine. ‘A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem!’ how the devil should I write about Jerusalem, never having yet been there? As for ‘A Tempest,’ it was not a tempest when I left England, but a very fresh breeze: and as to an ‘Address to little Ada’ (who, by the way, is a year old to-morrow), I never wrote a line about her, except in ‘Farewell’ and the Third Canto of Childe Harold.”

“Venice, Dec. 27th, 1816.

“As the demon of silence seems to have possessed you, I am determined to have my revenge in postage: this is my sixth or seventh letter since summer and Switzerland. My last was an injunction to contradict and consign to confusion that Cheapside impostor, who (I heard by a letter from your island) had thought proper to append my name to his spurious poesy, of which I know nothing, nor of his pretended purchase or copyright. I hope you have, at least, received that letter.

“As the news of Venice must be very interesting to you, I will regale you with it.

“Yesterday being the feast of St. Stephen, every mouth was put in motion. There was nothing but fiddling and playing on the virginals, and all kinds of conceits and divertisements, on every canal of this aquatic city. I dined with the Countess Albrizzi and a Paduan and Venetian party, and afterwards went to the opera, at the Fenice theatre (which opens for the Carnival on that day),—the finest, by the way, I have ever seen: it beats our theatres hollow in beauty and scenery, and those of Milan and Brescia bow before it. The opera and its sirens were much like other operas and women, but the subject of the said opera was something edifying; it turned—the plot and conduct thereof—upon a fact narrated by Livy of a hundred and fifty married ladies having
66 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1816.
poisoned a hundred and fifty husbands in good old times. The bachelors of Rome believed this extraordinary mortality to be merely the common effect of matrimony or a pestilence; but the surviving Benedicts, being all seized with the cholic, examined into the matter, and found that ‘their possets had been drugged;’ the consequence of which was, much scandal and several suits at law. This is really and truly the subject of the musical piece at the Fenice; and you can’t conceive what pretty things are sung and recitativoed about the horrenda strage. The conclusion was a lady’s head about to be chopped off by a lictor, but (I am sorry to say) he left it on, and she got up and sung a trio with the two Consuls, the Senate in the back-ground being chorus. The ballet was distinguished by nothing remarkable, except that the principal she-dancer went into convulsions because she was not applauded on her first appearance; and the manager came forward to ask if there was ‘ever a physician in the theatre.’ There was a Greek one in my box, whom I wished very much to volunteer his services, being sure that in this case these would have been the last convulsions which would have troubled the ballarina; but he would not. The crowd was enormous, and in coming out, having a lady under my arm, I was obliged, in making way, almost to ‘beat a Venetian and traduce the state,’ being compelled to regale a person with an English punch in the guts, which sent him as far back as the squeeze and the passage would admit. He did not ask for another, but, with great signs of disapprobation and dismay, appealed to his compatriots, who laughed at him.

“I am going on with my Armenian studies in a morning, and assisting and stimulating in the English portion of an English and Armenian grammar, now publishing at the convent of St. Lazarus.

“The superior of the friars is a bishop, and a fine old fellow, with the beard of a meteor. Father Paschal is also a learned and pious soul. He was two years in England.

“I am still dreadfully in love with the Adriatic lady whom I spake of in a former letter (and not in this—I add, for fear of mistakes, for the only one mentioned in the first part of this epistle is elderly and bookish, two things which I have ceased to admire), and love in this part of the world is no sinecure. This is also the season when every body make up
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 67
their intrigues for the ensuing year, and cut for partners for the next deal.

“And now, if you don’t write, I don’t know what I won’t say or do, nor what I will. Send me some news—good news.

“Yours very truly, &c. &c. &c.

“P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford, with all duty.

“I hear that the Edinburgh Review has cut up Coleridge’s Christabel, and me for praising it, which omen, I think, bodes no great good to your forthcome or coming Canto and Castle (of Chillon). My run of luck within the last year seems to have taken a turn every way; but never mind, I will bring myself through in the end—if not, I can be but where I began. In the mean time, I am not displeased to be where I am—I mean, at Venice. My Adriatic nymph is this moment here, and I must therefore repose from this letter.”