LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1817

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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“Venice, Jan. 2, 1817.

“Your letter has arrived. Pray, in publishing the Third Canto, have you omitted any passages? I hope not; and indeed wrote to you on my way over the Alps to prevent such an incident. Say in your next whether or not the whole of the Canto (as sent to you) has been published. I wrote to you again the other day (twice, I think), and shall be glad to hear of the reception of those letters.

“To-day is the 2d of January. On this day three years ago the Corsair’s publication is dated, I think, in my letter to Moore. On this day two years I married, (‘Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,’—I sha’n’t forget the day in a hurry), and it is odd enough that I this day received a letter from you announcing the publication of Childe Harold, &c. &c. on the day of the date of the ‘Corsair;’ and I also received one from my sister, written on the 10th of December, my daughter’s birthday (and relative chiefly to my daughter), and arriving on the day of the date of my marriage, this present 2d of January, the month of my
68 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
birth,—and various other astrologous matters which I have no time to enumerate.

“By the way, you might as well write to Hentsch, my Geneva banker, and inquire whether the two packets consigned to his care were or were not delivered to Mr. St. Aubyn, or if they are still in his keeping. One contains papers, letters, and all the original MS. of your Third Canto, as first conceived; and the other some bones from the field of Morat. Many thanks for your news, and the good spirits in which your letter is written.

“Venice and I agree very well; but I do not know that I have any thing new to say, except of the last new opera, which I sent in my late letter. The Carnival is commencing, and there is a good deal of fun here and there—besides business; for all the world are making up their intrigues for the season, changing, or going on upon a renewed lease. I am very well off with Marianna, who is not at all a person to tire me; firstly, because I do not tire of a woman personally, but because they are generally bores in their disposition; and, secondly, because she is amiable, and has a tact which is not always the portion of the fair creation; and, thirdly, she is very pretty; and, fourthly,—but there is no occasion for farther specification. * * * * * * * * * So far we have gone on very well; as to the future, I never anticipate,—carpe diem—the past at least is one’s own, which is one reason for making sure of the present. So much for my proper liaison.

“The general state of morals here is much the same as in the Doges’ time: a woman is virtuous (according to the code) who limits herself to her husband and one lover; those who have two, three, or more, are a little wild; but it is only those who are indiscriminately diffuse, and form a low connexion, such as the Princess of Wales with her courier (who, by the way, is made a knight of Malta), who are considered as overstepping the modesty of marriage. In Venice, the nobility have a trick of marrying with dancers and singers; and, truth to say, the women of their own order are by no means handsome; but the general race, the women of the second and other orders, the wives of the merchants, and proprietors, and untitled gentry; are mostly bel’ sangue, and it is with these that the more amatory connexions are usually formed.
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 69
There are also instances of stupendous constancy. I know a woman of fifty who never had but one lover, who dying early, she became devout, renouncing all but her husband. She piques herself, as may be presumed, upon this miraculous fidelity, talking of it occasionally with a species of misplaced morality, which is rather amusing. There is no convincing a woman here that she is in the smallest degree deviating from the rule of right or the fitness of things in having an amoroso. The great sin seems to lie in concealing it, or having more than one, that is, unless such an extension of the prerogative is understood and approved of by the prior claimant.

“In another sheet, I send you some sheets of a grammar*, English

* To the Armenian Grammar mentioned above, the following interesting fragment, found among his papers, seems to have been intended as a Preface.

“The English reader will probably be surprised to find my name associated with a work of the present description, and inclined to give me more credit for my attainments as a linguist than they deserve.

“As I would not willingly be guilty of a deception, I will state, as shortly as I can, my own share in the compilation, with the motives which led to it. On my arrival at Venice in the year 1816, I found my mind in a state which required study, and study of a nature which should leave little scope for the imagination, and furnish some difficulty in the pursuit.

“At this period I was much struck—in common, I believe, with every other traveller—with the society of the Convent of St. Lazarus, which appears to unite all the advantages of the monastic institution, without any of its vices.

“The neatness, the comfort, the gentleness, the unaffected devotion, the accomplishments, and the virtues of the brethren of the order, are well fitted to strike the man of the world with the conviction that ‘there is another and a better’ even in this life.

“These men are the priesthood of an oppressed and a noble nation, which has partaken of the proscription and bondage of the Jews and of the Greeks, without the sullenness of the former or the servility of the latter. This people has attained riches without usury, and all the honours that can be awarded to slavery without intrigue. But they have long occupied, nevertheless, a part of ‘the House of Bondage,’ who has lately multiplied her many mansions. It would be difficult, perhaps, to find the annals of a nation less stained with crimes than those of the Armenians, whose virtues have been those of peace, and their vices those of compulsion. But whatever may have been their destiny—and it has been bitter—whatever it may be in future, their country must ever be one of the most interesting on the globe; and perhaps their language only requires to be more studied to become more attractive. If the Scriptures are rightly understood, it was in Armenia that Paradise was placed—Armenia, which has paid as dearly as the descendants of Adam for that fleeting participation of its soil in the happiness of him who was created from its dust. It was in Armenia that the flood first abated, and the dove alighted. But with the disappearance of Paradise itself may be dated almost the unhappiness of the country. for though long a powerful kingdom, it was scarcely ever an independent one, and the satraps of Persia and the pachas of Turkey have alike desolated the region where God created man in his own image.”

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and Armenian, for the use of the Armenians, of which I promoted, and indeed induced, the publication. (It cost me but a thousand francs—French livres.) I still pursue my lessons in the language without any rapid progress, but advancing a little daily.
Padre Paschal, with some little help from me, as translator of his Italian into English, is also proceeding in a MS. Grammar for the English acquisition of Armenian, which will be printed also, when finished.

“We want to know if there are any Armenian types and letter-press in England, at Oxford, Cambridge, or elsewhere? You know, I suppose, that, many years ago, the two Whistons published in England an original text of a history of Armenia, with their own Latin translation? Do those types still exist? and where? Pray inquire among your learned acquaintance.

“When this Grammar (I mean the one now printing) is done, will you have any objection to take forty or fifty copies, which will not cost in all above five or ten guineas, and try the curiosity of the learned with a sale of them? Say yes or no, as you like. I can assure you that they have some very curious books and MSS., chiefly translations from Greek originals now lost. They are, besides, a much respected and learned community, and the study of their language was taken up with great ardour by some literary Frenchmen in Buonaparte’s time.

“I have not done a stitch of poetry since I left Switzerland, and have not at present the estro upon me. The truth is, that you are afraid of having a Fourth Canto before September, and of another copyright, but I have at present no thoughts of resuming that poem, nor of beginning any other. If I write, I think of trying prose, but I dread introducing living people, or applications which might be made to living people. Perhaps one day or other I may attempt some work of fancy in prose, descriptive of Italian manners and of human passions; but at present I am preoccupied. As for poesy, mine is the dream of the sleeping passions; when they are awake, I cannot speak their language, only in their somnambulism, and just now they are not dormant.

“If Mr. Gifford wants carte blanche as to the Siege of Corinth, he has it, and may do as he likes with it.

“I sent you a letter contradictory of the Cheapside man (who invented the story you speak of) the other day. My best respects to Mr. Gifford, and such of my friends as you may see at your house. I wish you all prosperity and new year’s gratulation, and am

“Yours, &c.”
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 71
“Venice, January 28th, 1817.

Your letter of the 8th is before me. The remedy for your plethora is simple—abstinence. I was obliged to have recourse to the like some years ago, I mean in point of diet, and, with the exception of some convivial weeks and days (it might he months, now and then), have kept to Pythagoras ever since. For all this, let me hear that you are better. You must not indulge in ‘filthy beer,’ nor in porter, nor eat suppers—the last are the devil to those who swallow dinner.

* * * * * *

“I am truly sorry to hear of your father’s misfortune—cruel at any time, but doubly cruel in advanced life. However, you will, at least, have the satisfaction of doing your part by him, and, depend upon it, it will not be in vain. Fortune, to be sure, is a female, but not such a b * * as the rest (always excepting your wife and my sister from such sweeping terms); for she generally has some justice in the long run. I have no spite against her, though, between her and Nemesis, I have had some sore gauntlets to run—but then I have done my best to deserve no better. But to you, she is a good deal in arrear, and she will come round—mind if she don’t: you have the vigour of life, of independence, of talent, spirit, and character all with you. What you can do for yourself, you have done and will do; and surely there are some others in the world who would not be sorry to be of use, if you would allow them to be useful, or at least attempt it.

“I think of being in England in the spring. If there is a row, by the sceptre of King Ludd, but I’ll be one; and if there is none, and only a continuance ‘this meek, piping time of peace,’ I will take a cottage a hundred yards to the south of your abode, and become your neighbour; and we will compose such canticles, and hold such dialogues as shall be the terror of the Times (including the newspaper of that name), and the wonder, and honour, and praise of the Morning Chronicle and posterity.

72 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.

“I rejoice to hear of your forthcoming in February—though I tremble for the ‘magnificence’ which you attribute to the new Childe Harold. I am glad you like it; it is a fine indistinct piece of poetical desolation, and my favourite. I was half mad during the time of its composition, between metaphysics, mountains, lakes, love unextinguishable, thoughts unutterable, and the night-mare of my own delinquencies. I should, many a good day, have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law; and, even then, if I could have been certain to haunt her—but I won’t dwell upon these trifling family matters.

“Venice is in the estro of her carnival, and I have been up these last two nights at the ridotto and the opera, and all that kind of thing. Now for an adventure. A few days ago a gondolier brought me a billet without a subscription, intimating a wish on the part of the writer to meet me either in gondola, or at the island of San Lazaro, or at a third rendezvous, indicated in the note. ‘I know the country’s disposition well,’—in Venice ‘they do let heaven see those tricks they dare not show,’ &c. &c.; so, for all response, I said that neither of the three places suited me; but that I would either be at home at ten at night alone, or be at the ridotto at midnight, where the writer might meet me masked. At ten o’clock I was at home and alone (Marianna was gone with her husband to a conversazione), when the door of my apartment opened, and in walked a well-looking and (for an Italian) bionda girl of about nineteen, who informed me that she was married to the brother of my amorosa, and wished to have some conversation with me. I made a decent reply, and we had some talk in Italian and Romaic (her mother being a Greek of Corfu), when, lo! in a very few minutes in marches, to my very great astonishment, Marianna S * *, in propriâ personâ, and, after making a most polite curtsy to her sister-in-law and to me, without a single word seizes her said sister-in-law by the hair, and bestows upon her some sixteen slaps, which would have made your ear ache only to hear their echo. I need not describe the screaming which ensued. The luckless visitor took flight. I seized Marianna, who, after several vain efforts to get away in pursuit of the enemy, fairly went into fits in my arms; and, in spite of reasoning, eau de Cologne, vinegar, half a pint of water, and God knows what other waters beside, continued so till past midnight.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 73

“After damning my servants for letting people in without apprizing me, I found that Marianna in the morning had seen her sister-in-law’s gondolier on the stairs; and, suspecting that his apparition boded her no good, had either returned of her own accord, or been followed by her maids or some other spy of her people to the conversazione, from whence she returned to perpetrate this piece of pugilism. I had seen fits before, and also some small scenery of the same genus in and out of our island; but this was not all. After about an hour, in comes—who? why, Signor S * *, her lord and husband, and finds me with his wife fainting upon a sofa, and all the apparatus of confusion, dishevelled hair, hats, handkerchiefs, salts, smelling bottles—and the lady as pale as ashes, without sense or motion. His first question was, ‘What is all this?’ The lady could not reply—so I did. I told him the explanation was the easiest thing in the world; but, in the mean time, it would be as well to recover his wife—at least, her senses. This came about in due time of suspiration and respiration.

“You need not be alarmed—jealousy is not the order of the day in Venice, and daggers are out of fashion, while duels, on love matters, are unknown—at least, with the husbands. But, for all this, it was an awkward affair; and though he must have known that I made love to Marianna, yet I believe he was not, till that evening, aware of the extent to which it had gone. It is very well known that almost all the married women have a lover; but it is usual to keep up the forms, as in other nations. I did not, therefore, know what the devil to say. I could not out with the truth, out of regard to her, and I did not choose to lie for my sake;—besides, the thing told itself. I thought the best way would be to let her explain it as she chose (a woman being never at a loss—the devil always sticks by them)—only determining to protect and carry her off, in case of any ferocity on the part of the Signor. I saw that he was quite calm. She went to bed, and next day—how they settled it I know not, but settled it they did. Well—then I had to explain to Marianna about this never to be sufficiently confounded sister-in-law; which I did by swearing innocence, eternal constancy, &c. &c. * * * * But the sister-in-law, very much discomposed with being treated in such wise, has (not having her own shame before her eyes) told the affair to half Venice, and the servants (who were summoned by the fight and the fainting) to the other half. But,
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here, nobody minds such trifles, except to be amused by them. I don’t know whether you will be so, but I have scrawled a long letter out of these follies. “Believe me ever, &c.”

“Venice, January 24th, 1817.
* * * * * *

“I have been requested by the Countess Albrizzi here to present her with ‘the Works;’ and wish you therefore to send me a copy, that I may comply with her requisition. You may include the last published, of which I have seen and know nothing, but from your letter of the 13th of December.

Mrs. Leigh tells me that most of her friends prefer the two first Cantos. I do not know whether this be the general opinion or not (it is not hers); but it is natural it should be so. I, however, think differently, which is natural also; but who is right, or who is wrong, is of very little consequence.

Dr. Polidori, as I hear from him by letter from Pisa, is about to return to England, to go to the Brazils on a medical speculation with the Danish consul. As you are in the favour of the powers that be, could you not get him some letters of recommendation from some of your government friends to some of the Portuguese settlers he understands his profession well, and has no want of general talents; his faults are the faults of a pardonable vanity and youth. His remaining with me was out of the question: I have enough to do to manage my own scrapes; and as precepts without example are not the most gracious homilies, I thought it better to give him his congé: but I know no great harm of him, and some good. He is clever and accomplished; knows his profession, by all accounts, well; and is honourable in his dealings, and not at all malevolent. I think, with luck, he will turn out a useful member of society (from which he will lop the diseased members) and the College of Physicians. If you can be of any use to him, or know any one who can, pray be so, as he has his fortune to make. He has kept a medical journal under the eye of Vacca (the first surgeon on the continent) at Pisa: Vacca has corrected it, and it must contain some valuable hints or information on the practice of this country. If you can aid him in publish-
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 75
ing this also, by your influence with your brethren, do; I do not ask you to publish it yourself, because that sort of request is too personal and embarrassing. He has also a tragedy, of which, having seen nothing, I say nothing: but the very circumstance of his having made these efforts (if they are only efforts), at one-and-twenty, is in his favour, and proves him to have good dispositions for his own improvement. So if, in the way of commendation or recommendation, you can aid his objects with your government friends, I wish you would. I should think some of your Admiralty Board might be likely to have it in their power.”

“Venice, February 15th, 1817.

“I have received your two letters, but not the parcel you mention. As the Waterloo spoils are arrived, I will make you a present of them, if you choose to accept of them; pray do.

“I do not exactly understand from your letter what has been omitted, or what not, in the publication; but I shall see probably some day or other. I could not attribute any but a good motive to Mr. Gifford or yourself in such omission; but as our politics are so very opposite, we should probably differ as to the passages. However, if it is only a note or notes, or a line or so, it cannot signify. You say ‘a poem;what poem? You can tell me in your next.

“Of Mr. Hobhouse’s quarrel with the Quarterly Review, I know very little except * *’s article itself, which was certainly harsh enough: but I quite agree that it would have been better not to answer—particularly after Mr. W. W. who never more will trouble you, trouble you. I have been uneasy, because Mr. H. told me that his letter or preface was to be addressed to me. Now, he and I are friends of many years; I have many obligations to him, and he none to me, which have not been cancelled and more than repaid: but Mr. Gifford and I are friends also, and he has moreover been literarily so, through thick and thin, in despite of difference of years, morals, habits, and even politics; and therefore I feel in a very awkward situation between the two, Mr. Gifford
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and my friend Hobhouse, and can only wish that they had no difference, or that such as they have were accommodated. The Answer I have not seen, for—it is odd enough for people so intimate—but Mr. Hobhouse and I are very sparing of our literary confidences. For example, the other day he wished to have a MS. of the Third Canto to read over to his brother, &c. which was refused;—and I have never seen his journals, nor he mine—(I only kept the short one of the mountains for my sister)—nor do I think that hardly ever he or I saw any of the other’s productions previous to their publication.

“The article in the Edinburgh Review on Coleridge I have not seen; but whether I am attacked in it or not, or in any other of the same journal, I shall never think ill of Mr. Jeffrey on that account, nor forget that his conduct towards me has been certainly most handsome during the last four or more years.

“I forgot to mention to you that a kind of Poem in dialogue* (in blank verse) or Drama, from which ‘the Incantation’ is an extract, begun last summer in Switzerland, is finished; it is in three acts; but of a very wild, metaphysical, and inexplicable kind. Almost all the persons—but two or three—are Spirits of the earth and air, or the waters; the scene is in the Alps; the hero a kind of magician, who is tormented by a species of remorse, the cause of which is left half unexplained. He wanders about invoking these Spirits, which appear to him, and are of no use; he at last goes to the very abode of the Evil Principle, in propriâ personâ, to evocate a ghost, which appears, and gives him an ambiguous and disagreeable answer; and in the third act he is found by his attendants dying in a tower where he had studied his art. You may perceive by this outline that I have no great opinion of this piece of phantasy; but I have at least rendered it quite impossible for the stage, for which my intercourse with Drury-lane has given me the greatest contempt.

“I have not even copied it off, and feel too lazy at present to attempt the whole; but when I have, I will send it you, and you may either throw it into the fire or not.”

* Manfred.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 77
“Venice, February 25th, 1817.

“I wrote to you the other day in answer to your letter; at present I would trouble you with a commission, if you would be kind enough to undertake it.

“You perhaps know Mr. Love, the jeweller, of Old Bond-street?—In 1813, when in the intention of returning to Turkey, I purchased of him, and paid (argent comptant) about a dozen snuff-boxes, of more or less value, as presents for some of my Mussulman acquaintance. These I have now with me. The other day, having occasion to make an alteration in the lid of one (to place a portrait in it), it has turned out to be silver-gilt instead of gold; for which last it was sold and paid for. This was discovered by the workman in trying it, before taking off the hinges and working upon the lid. I have of course recalled and preserved the box in statu quo. What I wish you to do is, to see the said Mr. Love, and inform him of this circumstance, adding, from me, that I will take care he shall not have done this with impunity.

“If there is no remedy in law, there is at least the equitable one of making known his guilt,—that is, his silver-gilt, and be d—d to him.

“I shall carefully preserve all the purchases I made of him on that occasion for my return, as the plague in Turkey is a barrier to travelling there at present, or rather the endless quarantine which would be the consequence before one could land in coming back. Pray state the matter to him with due ferocity.

“I sent you the other day some extracts from a kind of Drama which I had begun in Switzerland and finished here; you will tell me if they are received. They were only in a letter. I have not yet had energy to copy it out, or I would send you the whole in different covers.

“The Carnival closed this day last week.

Mr. Hobhouse is still at Rome, I believe. I am at present a little unwell;—sitting up too late and some subsidiary dissipations have lowered
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my blood a good deal; but I have at present the quiet and temperance of Lent before me.

“Believe me, &c.

P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford.—I have not received your parcel or parcels.—Look into ‘Moore’s (Dr. Moore’s) View of Italy’ for me; in one of the volumes you will find an account of the Doge Valiere (it ought to be Falieri) and his conspiracy, or the motives of it. Get it transcribed for me, and send it in a letter to me soon. I want it, and cannot find so good an account of that business here; though the veiled patriot, and the place where he was crowned, and afterwards decapitated, still exist and are shown. I have searched all their histories; but the policy of the old aristocracy made their writers silent on his motives, which were a private grievance against one of the patricians.

“I mean to write a tragedy on the subject, which appears to me very dramatic: an old man, jealous, and conspiring against the state of which he was the actually reigning chief. The last circumstance makes it the most remarkable and only fact of the kind in all history of all nations.”

“Venice, February 28th, 1817.

“You will, perhaps, complain as much of the frequency of my letters now, as you were wont to do of their rarity. I think this is the fourth within as many moons. I feel anxious to hear from you, even more than usual, because your last indicated that you were unwell. At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival—that is, the latter part of it—and sitting up late o’ nights, had knocked me up a little. But it is over,—and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and Sacred Music.

“The mumming closed with a masked ball at the Fenice, where I went, as also to most of the ridottos, &c. &c. and, though I did not dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find ‘the sword wearing out the scabbard,’ though I have but just turned the corner of twenty-nine.
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 79
“So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword out-wears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.
I have lately had some news of litteratoor, as I heard the
editor of the Monthly pronounce it once upon a time. I hear that W. W. has been publishing and responding to the attacks of the Quarterly, in the learned Perry’s Chronicle. I read his poesies last autumn, and, amongst them, found an epitaph on his bull-dog, and another on myself. But I beg leave to assure him (like the astrologer Partridge) that I am not only alive now, but was alive also at the time he wrote it. * * * * * * * * Hobhouse has (I hear, also) expectorated a letter against the Quarterly, addressed to me. I feel awkwardly situated between him and Gifford, both being my friends.

“And this is your month of going to press—by the body of Diana! (a Venetian oath), I feel as anxious—but not fearful for you—as if it were myself coming out in a work of humour, which would, you know, be the antipodes of all my previous publications. I don’t think you have any thing to dread but your own reputation. You must keep up to that. As you never showed me a line of your work, I do not even know your measure; but you must send me a copy by Murray forthwith, and then you shall hear what I think. I dare say you are in a pucker. Of all authors, you are the only really modest one I ever met with,—which would sound oddly enough to those who recollect your morals when you were young—that is, when you were extremely young—I don’t mean to stigmatise you either with years or morality.

“I believe I told you that the E. R. had attacked me, in an article
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Coleridge (I have not seen it)—‘Et tu, Jeffrey?’—‘there is nothing but roguery in villanous man.’ But I absolve him of all attacks, present and future; for I think he had already pushed his clemency in my behoof to the utmost, and I shall always think well of him. I only wonder he did not begin before, as my domestic destruction was a fine opening for all the world, of which all, who could, did well to avail themselves.

“If I live ten years longer, you will see, however, that it is not over with me—I don’t mean in literature, for that is nothing; and it may seem odd enough to say, I do not think it my vocation. But you will see that I shall do something or other—the times and fortune permitting—that, ‘like the cosmogony, or creation of the world, will puzzle the philosophers of all ages.’ But I doubt whether my constitution will hold out. I have, at intervals, exorcised it most devilishly.

“I have not yet fixed a time of return, but I think of the spring. I shall have been away a year in April next. You never mention Rogers, nor Hodgson, your clerical neighbour, who has lately got a living near you. Has he also got a child yet?—his desideratum, when I saw him last. * * * * * * *

“Pray let me hear from you, at your time and leisure, believing me ever and truly and affectionately, &c.”

“Venice, March 3d, 1817.

“In acknowledging the arrival of the article from the ‘Quarterly,*’ which I received two days ago, I cannot express myself better than in the words of my sister Augusta, who (speaking of it) says, that it is written in a spirit ‘of the most feeling and kind nature.’ It is, however, something more; it seems to me (as far as the subject of it may be permitted to judge) to be very well written as a composition, and I think

* An article in No. 31 of this Review, written, as Lord Byron afterwards discovered, by Sir Walter Scott, and well meriting, by the kind and generous spirit that breathes through it, the warm and lasting gratitude it awakened in the noble Poet.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 81
will do the journal no discredit, because even those who condemn its partiality must praise its generosity. The temptations to take another and a less favourable view of the question have been so great and numerous, that, what with public opinion, politics, &c. he must be a gallant as well as a good man, who has ventured in that place, and at this time, to write such an article even anonymously. Such things are, however, their own reward, and I even flatter myself that the writer, whoever he may be (and I have no guess), will not regret that the perusal of this has given me as much gratification as any composition of that nature could give, and more than any other has given,—and I have had a good many in my time of one kind or the other. It is not the mere praise, but there is a tact and a delicacy throughout, not only with regard to me, but to others, which, as it had not been observed elsewhere, I had till now doubted whether it could be observed anywhere.

“Perhaps some day or other you will know or tell me the writer’s name. Be assured, had the article been a harsh one, I should not have asked it.

“I have lately written to you frequently, with extracts, &c. which I hope you have received, or will receive, with or before this letter.—Ever since the conclusion of the Carnival I have been unwell (do not mention this, on any account, to Mrs. Leigh; for if I grow worse, she will know it too soon, and if I get better, there is no occasion that she should know it at all), and have hardly stirred out of the house. However, I don’t want a physician, and if I did, very luckily those of Italy are the worst in the world, so that I should still have a chance. They have, I believe, one famous surgeon, Vacca, who lives at Pisa, who might be useful in case of dissection:—but he is some hundred miles off. My malady is a sort of lowish fever, originating from what my ‘pastor and master,’ Jackson, would call ‘taking too much out of one’s self.’ However, I am better within this day or two.

“I missed seeing the new Patriarch’s procession to St. Mark’s the other day (owing to my indisposition), with six hundred and fifty priests in his rear—a ‘goodly army.’ The admirable government of Vienna, in its edict from thence, authorizing his installation, prescribed, as part of the pageant, ‘a coach and four horses.’ To show how very very ‘German
82 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
to the matter’ this was, you have only to suppose our parliament commanding the Archbishop of Canterbury to proceed from Hyde Park Corner to St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Lord Mayor’s barge, or the Margate hoy. There is but St. Marc’s Place in all Venice broad enough for a carriage to move, and it is paved with large smooth flag-stones, so that the chariot and horses of Elijah himself would be puzzled to manœuvre upon it. Those of Pharaoh might do better; for the canals,—and particularly the Grand Canal,—are sufficiently capacious and extensive for his whole host. Of course, no coach could be attempted; but the Venetians, who are very naïve as well as arch, were much amused with the ordinance.

“The Armenian Grammar is published; but my Armenian studies are suspended for the present till my head aches a little less. I sent you the other day, in two covers, the First Act of ‘Manfred,’ a drama as mad as Nat. Lee’s Bedlam tragedy, which was in 25 acts and some odd scenes:—mine is but in Three Acts.

“I find I have begun this letter at the wrong end: never mind; I must end it, then, at the right.

“Yours ever very truly
“and obligedly, &c.”
“Venice, March 9th, 1817.

“In remitting the Third Act of the sort of dramatic poem of which you will by this time have received the Two First (at least I hope so), which were sent within the last three weeks, I have little to observe, except that you must not publish it (if it ever is published) without giving me previous notice. I have really and truly no notion whether it is good or bad; and as this was not the case with the principal of my former publications, I am, therefore, inclined to rank it very humbly. You will submit it to Mr. Gifford, and to whomsoever you please besides. With regard to the question of copyright (if it ever comes to publication), I do not know whether you would think three hundred guineas an over-
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 83
estimate; if you do, you may diminish it: I do not think it worth more; so you may see I make some difference between it and the others.

“I have received your two Reviews (but not the ‘Tales of my Landlord’); the Quarterly I acknowledged particularly to you, on its arrival, ten days ago. What you tell me of Perry petrifies me; it is a rank imposition. In or about February or March, 1816, I was given to understand that Mr. Croker was not only a coadjutor in the attacks of the Courier in 1814, but the author of some lines tolerably ferocious, then recently published in a morning paper. Upon this I wrote a reprisal. The whole of the lines I have forgotten, and even the purport of them I scarcely remember; for on your assuring me that he was not, &c. &c. I put them into the fire before your face, and there never was but that one rough copy. Mr. Davies, the only person who ever heard them read, wanted a copy, which I refused. If, however, by some impossibility, which I cannot divine, the ghost of these rhymes should walk into the world, I never will deny what I have really written, but hold myself personally responsible for satisfaction, though I reserve to myself the right of disavowing all or any fabrications. To the previous facts you are a witness, and best know how far my recapitulation is correct; and I request that you will inform Mr. Perry from me, that I wonder he should permit such an abuse of my name in his paper; I say an abuse, because my absence, at least, demands some respect, and my presence and positive sanction could alone justify him in such a proceeding, even were the lines mine; and if false, there are no words for him. I repeat to you that the original was burnt before you on your assurance, and there never was a copy, nor even a verbal repetition,—very much to the discomfort of some zealous Whigs, who bored me for them (having heard it bruited by Mr. Davies that there were such matters) to no purpose; for, having written them solely with the notion that Mr. Croker was the aggressor, and for my own and not party reprisals, I would not lend me to the zeal of any sect when I was made aware that he was not the writer of the offensive passages. You know, if there was such a thing, I would not deny it. I mentioned it openly at the time to you, and you will remember why and where I destroyed it; and no power nor wheedling
84 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
on earth should have made, or could make, me (if I recollected them) give a copy after that, unless I was well assured that Mr. Croker was really the author of that which you assured me he was not.

“I intend for England this spring, where I have some affairs to adjust; but the post hurries me.—For this month past I have been unwell, but am getting better, and thinking of moving homewards towards May, without going to Rome, as the unhealthy season comes on soon, and I can return when I have settled the business I go upon, which need not be long. * * * * I should have thought the Assyrian tale very succeedable.

“I saw, in Mr. W. W.’s poetry, that he had written my epitaph; I would rather have written his.

“The thing I have sent you, you will see at a glimpse, could never be attempted or thought of for the stage; I much doubt it for publication even. It is too much in my old style; but I composed it actually with a horror of the stage, and with a view to render the thought of it impracticable, knowing the zeal of my friends that I should try that for which I have an invincible repugnance, viz. a representation.

“I certainly am a devil of a mannerist, and must leave off; but what could I do? Without exertion of some kind, I should have sunk under my imagination and reality. My best respects to Mr. Gifford, to Walter Scott, and to all friends.

“Yours ever.”
“Venice, March 10th, 1817.

“I wrote again to you lately, but I hope you won’t be sorry to have another epistle. I have been unwell this last month, with a kind of slow and low fever, which fixes upon me at night, and goes off in the morning; but, however, I am now better. In spring it is probable we may meet; at least I intend for England, where I have business, and hope to meet you in your restored health and additional laurels.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 85

Murray has sent me the Quarterly and the Edinburgh. When I tell you that Walter Scott is the author of the article in the former, you will agree with me that such an article is still more honourable to him than to myself. I am perfectly pleased with Jeffrey’s also, which I wish you to tell him, with my remembrances—not that I suppose it is of any consequence to him, or ever could have been, whether I am pleased or not,—but simply in my private relation to him, as his well-wisher, and it may be one day as his acquaintance. I wish you would also add, what you know,—that I was not, and, indeed, am not even now, the misanthropical and gloomy gentleman he takes me for, but a facetious companion, well to do with those with whom I am intimate, and as loquacious and laughing as if I were a much cleverer fellow.

“I suppose now I shall never be able to shake off my sables in public imagination, more particularly since my moral * * clove down my fame. However, nor that, nor more than that, has yet extinguished my spirit, which always rises with the rebound.

“At Venice we are in Lent, and I have not lately moved out of doors,—my feverishness requiring quiet, and—by way of being more quiet—here is the Signora Marianna just come in and seated at my elbow.

“Have you seen * * *’s book of poesy? and, if you have seen it, are you not delighted with it? And have you—I really cannot go on. There is a pair of great black eyes looking over my shoulder, like the angel leaning over St. Matthew’s, in the old frontispieces to the Evangelists,—so that I must turn and answer them instead of you.

“Ever, &c.”
“Venice, March 25th, 1817.

“I have at last learned, in default of your own writing (or not writing—which should it be? for I am not very clear as to the application
86 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
of the word default) from
Murray, two particulars of (are belonging to) you; one, that you are removing to Hornsey, which is, I presume, to be nearer London; and the other, that your Poem is announced by the name of Lalla Rookh. I am glad of it,—first, that we are to have it at last, and next, I like a tough title myself—witness the Giaour and Childe Harold, which choked half the Blues at starting. Besides, it is the tail of Alcibiades’s dog,—not that I suppose you want either dog or tail. Talking of tail, I wish you had not called it a ‘Persian Tale*.’ Say a ‘Poem’ or ‘Romance,’ but not ‘Tale.’ I am very sorry that I called some of my own things ‘Tales,’ because I think that they are something better. Besides, we have had Arabian, and Hindoo, and Turkish, and Assyrian Tales. But, after all, this is frivolous in me; you won’t, however, mind my nonsense.

“Really and truly, I want you to make a great hit, if only out of self-love, because we happen to be old cronies; and I have no doubt you will—I am sure you can. But you are, I’ll be sworn, in a devil of a pucker; and I am not at your elbow, and Rogers is. I envy him; which is not fair, because be does not envy any body. Mind you send to me—that is, make Murray send—the moment you are forth.

“I have been very ill with a slow fever, which at last took to flying, and became as quick as need be†. But, at length, after a week of half-delirium, burning skin, thirst, hot headache, horrible pulsation, and no sleep, by the blessing of barley water, and refusing to see any physician, I recovered. It is an epidemic of the place, which is annual, and visits strangers. Here follow some versicles, which I made one sleepless night.

* He had been misinformed on this point,—the work in question having been, from the first, entitled an “Oriental Romance.” A much worse mistake (because wilful, and with no very charitable design) was that of certain persons, who would have it that the Poem was meant to be Epic!—Even Mr. D’Israeli has, for the sake of a theory, given in to this very gratuitous assumption:—“The Anacreontic poet (he says) remains only Anacreontic in his Epic.”

† In a note to Mr. Murray, subjoined to some corrections for Manfred, he says, “Since I wrote to you last, the slow fever I wot of thought proper to mend its pace, and became similar to one which I caught some years ago in the marshes of Elis, in the Morea.”

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 87
“I read the ‘Christabel;’
Very well:
I read the ‘Missionary;’
I tried at ‘Ilderim;’
I read a sheet of ‘Marg’ret of Anjou;
Can you?
I turn’d a page of ‘* *’s Waterloo;’
Pooh! pooh!
I look’d at Wordsworth’s milk-white ‘Rylstone Doe:’
&c. &c. &c.”

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

“I have not the least idea where I am going, nor what I am to do. I wished to have gone to Rome; but at present it is pestilent with English,—a parcel of staring boobies, who go about gaping and wishing to be at once cheap and magnificent. A man is a fool who travels now in France or Italy, till this tribe of wretches is swept home again. In two or three years the first rush will be over, and the Continent will be roomy and agreeable.

“I staid at Venice chiefly because it is not one of their ‘dens of thieves;’ and here they but pause and pass. In Switzerland it was really noxious. Luckily, I was early, and had got the prettiest place on all the Lake before they were quickened into motion with the rest of reptiles. But they crossed me every where. I met a family of children and old women half-way up the Wengen Alp (by the Jungfrau) upon mules, some of them too old and others too young to be the least aware of what they saw.

“By the way, I think the Jungfrau, and all that region of Alps. which I traversed in September—going to the very top of the Wengen, which is not the highest (the Jungfrau itself is inaccessible) but the best point of view—much finer than Mont-Blanc and Chamouni, or the
88 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Simplon. I kept a journal of the whole for my sister Augusta, part of which she copied and let Murray see.

“I wrote a sort of mad Drama, for the sake of introducing the Alpine scenery in description; and this I sent lately to Murray. Almost all the dram. pers. are spirits, ghosts, or magicians, and the scene is in the Alps and the other world, so you may suppose what a bedlam tragedy it must be: make him show it you. I sent him all three acts piecemeal, by the post, and suppose they have arrived.

“I have now written to you at least six letters, or letterets, and all I have received in return is a note about the length you used to write from Bury-street to St. James’s-street, when we used to dine with Rogers, and talk laxly, and go to parties, and hear poor Sheridan now and then. Do you remember one night he was so tipsy that I was forced to put his cocked hat on for him,—for he could not,—and I let him down at Brookes’s, much as he must since have been let down into his grave. Heigh ho! I wish I was drunk—but I have nothing but this d—d barleywater before me.

“I am still in love,—which is a dreadful drawback in quitting a place, and I can’t stay at Venice much longer. What I shall do on this point I don’t know. The girl means to go with me, but I do not like this for her own sake. I have had so many conflicts in my own mind on this subject, that I am not at all sure they did not help me to the fever I mentioned above. I am certainly very much attached to her, and I have cause to be so, if you knew all. But she has a child; and though, like all the ‘children of the sun,’ she consults nothing but passion, it is necessary I should think for both; and it is only the virtuous, like * * * *, who can afford to give up husband and child, and live happy ever after.

“The Italian ethics are the most singular ever met with. The perversion, not only of action, but of reasoning, is singular in the women. It is not that they do not consider the thing itself as wrong, and very wrong, but love (the sentiment of love) is not merely an excuse for it, but makes it an actual virtue, provided it is disinterested, and not a caprice, and is confined to one object. They have awful notions of constancy;
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 89
for I have seen some ancient figures of eighty pointed out as Amorosi of forty, fifty, and sixty years standing. I can’t say I have ever seen a husband and wife so coupled. “Ever, &c.

“P.S. Marianna, to whom I have just translated what I have written on our subject to you, says—‘If you loved me thoroughly, you would not make so many fine reflections, which are only good forbirsi i scarpi,’—that is, ‘to clean shoes withal,’—a Venetian proverb of appreciation, which is applicable to reasoning of all kinds.”

“Venice, March 25th, 1817.

“Your letter and inclosure are safe; but ‘English gentlemen’ are very rare—at least in Venice. I doubt whether there are at present any, save the consul and vice-consul, with neither of whom I have the slightest acquaintance. The moment I can pounce upon a witness, I will send the deed properly signed: but must he necessarily be genteel? Venice is not a place where the English are gregarious; their pigeon-houses are Florence, Naples, Rome, &c.; and to tell you the truth, this was one reason why I staid here till the season of the purgation of Rome from these people, which is infected with them at this time, should arrive. Besides, I abhor the nation and the nation me; it is impossible for me to describe my own sensation on that point, but it may suffice to say, that, if I met with any of the race in the beautiful parts of Switzerland, the most distant glimpse or aspect of them poisoned the whole scene, and I do not choose to have the Pantheon, and St. Peter’s, and the Capitol, spoiled for me too. This feeling may be probably owing to recent events; but it does not exist the less, and while it exists, I shall conceal it as little as any other.

“I have been seriously ill with a fever, but it is gone. I believe or suppose it was the indigenous fever of the place, which comes every year at this time, and of which the physicians change the name annually, to despatch the people sooner. It is a kind of typhus, and kills occasionally. It was pretty smart, but nothing particular, and has left me some debility
90 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
and a great appetite. There are a good many ill at present, I suppose, of the same.

“I feel sorry for Horner, if there was any thing in the world to make him like it; and still more sorry for his friends, as there was much to make them regret him. I had not heard of his death till by your letter.

“Some weeks ago I wrote to you my acknowledgments of Walter Scott’s article. Now I know it to be his, it cannot add to my good opinion of him, but it adds to that of myself. He, and Gifford, and Moore, are the only regulars I ever knew who had nothing of the garrison about their manner: no nonsense, nor affectations, look you! As for the rest whom I have known, there was always more or less of the author about them—the pen peeping from behind the ear, and the thumbs a little inky, or so.

“‘Lalla Rookh’—you must recollect that, in the way of title, the ‘Giaour’ has never been pronounced to this day; and both it and Childe Harold sounded very facetious to the blue-bottles of wit and humour about town, till they were taught and startled into a proper deportment; and therefore Lalla Rookh, which is very orthodox and oriental, is as good a title as need be, if not better. I could wish rather that he had not called it ‘a Persian Tale;’ firstly, because we have had Turkish Tales, and Hindoo Tales, and Assyrian Tales, already; and tale is a word of which it repents me to have nicknamed poesy. ‘Fable’ would be better; and, secondly, ‘Persian Tale’ reminds one of the lines of Pope on Ambrose Phillips; though no one can say, to be sure, that this tale has been ‘turned for half-a-crown;’ still it is as well to avoid such clashings. ‘Persian Story’—why not?—or Romance? I feel as anxious for Moore as I could do for myself, for the soul of me, and I would not have him succeed otherwise than splendidly, which I trust he will do.

“With regard to the ‘Witch Drama,’ I sent all the three acts by post, week after week, within this last month. I repeat that I have not an idea if it is good or bad. If bad, it must, on no account, be risked in publication; if good, it is at your service. I value it at three hundred guineas, or less, If you like it. Perhaps, if published, the best way will be to add it to your winter volume, and not publish separately. The
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 91
price will show you I don’t pique myself upon it; so speak out. You may put it in the fire, if you like, and
Gifford don’t like.

“The Armenian Grammar is published—that is, one; the other is still in MS.. My illness has prevented me from moving this month past, and I have done nothing more with the Armenian.

“Of Italian or rather Lombard manners, I could tell you little or nothing: I went two or three times to the governor’s conversazione (and if you go once, you are free to go always), at which, as I only saw very plain women, a formal circle, in short a worst sort of rout, I did not go again. I went to Academie and to Madame Albrizzi’s, where I saw pretty much the same thing, with the addition of some literati, who are the same blue*, by ——, all the world over. I fell in love the first week with Madame * *, and I have continued so ever since, because she is very pretty and pleasing, and. talks Venetian, which amuses me, and is naïve.

“Very truly, &c.

“P.S. Pray send the red tooth-powder by a safe hand, and speedily.

* * * * * * †
To hook the reader, you, John Murray,
Have publish’d ‘Anjou’s Margaret,’
Which won’t be sold off in a hurry
(At least, it has not been as yet);
And then, still further to bewilder ’em,
Without remorse you set up ‘Ilderim;’
So mind you don’t get into debt,
Because as how, if you should fail,
These books would be but baddish bail.

* Whenever a word or passage occurs (as in this instance) which Lord Byron would have pronounced emphatically in speaking, it appears, in his handwriting, as if written with something of the some vehemence.

† Here follow the same rhymes (“I read the Christabel,” &c.) which have already been given in one of his letters to myself.

92 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
“And mind you do not let escape
These rhymes to Morning Post or Perry,
Which would be very treacherous—very,
And get me into such a scrape!
For, firstly, I should have to sally,
All in my little boat, against a Galley;
And, should I chance to slay the Assyrian wight,
Have next to combat with the female knight.
* * * * * *

“You may show these matters to Moore and the select, but not to the profane; and tell Moore, that I wonder he don’t write to one now and then.”

“Venice, March 31st, 1817.

“You will begin to think my epistolary offerings (to whatever altar you please to devote them) rather prodigal. But, until you answer, I shall not abate, because you deserve no better. I know you are well, because I hear of your voyaging to London and the environs, which I rejoice to learn, because your note alarmed me by the purgation and phlebotomy therein prognosticated. I also hear of your being in the press; all which, methinks, might have furnished you with subject matter for a middle-sized letter, considering that I am in foreign parts, and that the last month’s advertisements and obituary would be absolute news to me from your Tramontane country.

“I told you, in my last, I have had a smart fever. There is an epidemic in the place; but I suspect, from the symptoms, that mine was a fever of my own, and had nothing in common with the low, vulgar typhus, which is at this moment decimating Venice, and which has half-unpeopled Milan, if the accounts be true. This malady has sorely discomfited my serving men, who want sadly to be gone away, and get me
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 93
to remove. But, besides my natural perversity. I was seasoned in Turkey, by the continual whispers of the plague, against apprehensions of contagion. Besides which, apprehension would not prevent it; and then I am still in love, and ‘forty thousand’ fevers should not make me stir before my minute, while under the influence of that paramount delirium. Seriously speaking, there is a malady rife in the city—a dangerous one, they, say. However, mine did not appear so, though it was not pleasant.

“This is passion-week—and twilight—and all the world are at vespers. They have an eternal churching, as in all catholic countries, but are not so bigoted as they seemed to be in Spain.

“I don’t know whether to be glad or sorry that you are leaving Mayfield. Had I ever been at Newstead during your stay there (except during the winter of 1813-14, when the roads were impracticable), we should have been within hail, and I should like to have made a giro of the Peak with you. I know that country well, having been all over it when a boy. Was you ever in Dovedale? I can assure you there are things in Derbyshire as noble as Greece or Switzerland. But you had always a lingering after London, and I don’t wonder at it. I liked it as well as any body, myself, now and then.

“Will you remember me to Rogers? whom I presume to be flourishing, and whom I regard as our poetical papa. You are his lawful son, and I the illegitimate. Has he begun yet upon Sheridan? If you see our republican friend, Leigh Hunt, pray present my remembrances. I saw about nine months ago that he was in a row (like my friend Hobhouse) with the Quarterly Reviewers. For my part, I never could understand these quarrels of authors with critics and with one another. ‘For God’s sake, gentlemen, what do they mean?’

“What think you of your countryman, Maturin? I take some credit to myself for having done my best to bring out Bertram; but I must say my colleagues were quite as ready and willing. Walter Scott, however, was the first who mentioned him, which he did to me, with great commendation, in 1815; and it is to this casualty, and two or three other accidents, that this very clever fellow owed his first and well-merited public success. What a chance is fame!

“Did I tell you that I have translated two Epistles?—a correspond-
94 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
ence between St. Paul and the Corinthians, not to be found in our version, but the Armenian—but which seems to me very orthodox, and I have done it into scriptural prose English*.

“Ever, &c.”
“Venice, April 2d, 1817.

“I sent you the whole of the Drama at three several times, act by act, in separate covers. I hope that you have, or will receive, some or the whole of it.

“So Love has a conscience. By Diana! I shall make him take back the box, though it were Pandora’s. The discovery of its intrinsic silver occurred on sending it to have the lid adapted to admit Marianna’s portrait. Of course I had the box remitted in statu quo, and had the picture set in another, which suits it (the picture) very well. The defaulting box is not touched, hardly, and was not in the man’s hands above an hour.

“I am aware of what you say of Otway; and am a very great admirer of his,—all except of that maudlin b—h of chaste lewdness and blubbering curiosity, Belvidera, whom I utterly despise, abhor, and detest.

* The only plausible claim of these Epistles to authenticity arises from the circumstance of St. Paul having (according to the opinion of Mosheim and others) written an Epistle to the Corinthians, before that which we now call his First. They are, however, universally given up as spurious. Though frequently referred to as existing in the Armenian, by Primate Usher, Johan. Gregorius, and other learned men, they were for the first time, I believe, translated from that language by the two Whistons, who subjoined the correspondence, with a Greek and Latin version, to their edition of the Armenian History of Moses of Chorene, published in 1736.

The translation by Lord Byron is, as far as I can learn, the first that has ever been attempted in English; and as, proceeding from his pen, it must possess, of course, additional interest, the reader will not be displeased to find it in the Appendix. Annexed to the copy in my possession are the following words, in his own handwriting:—“Done into English by me, January, February, 1817, at the Convent of San Lazaro, with the aid and exposition of the Armenian text by the Father Paschal Aucher, Armenian friar.—Byron. I had also (he adds) the Latin text, but it Is in many places very corrupt, and with great omissions.”

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 95
But the story of
Marino Faliero is different, and, I think, so much finer, that I wish Otway had taken it instead: the head conspiring against the body for refusal of redress for a real injury,—jealousy,—treason,—with the more fixed and inveterate passions (mixed with policy) of an old or elderly man—the devil himself could not have a finer subject, and he is your only tragic dramatist. * * * * * *

“There is still, in the Doge’s palace, the black veil painted over Faliero’s picture, and the staircase whereon he was first crowned Doge and subsequently decapitated. This was the thing that most struck my imagination in Venice—more than the Rialto, which I visited for the sake of Shylock; and more, too, than Schiller’sArmenian,’ a novel which took a great hold of me when a boy. It is also called the ‘Ghost Seer,’ and I never walked down St. Mark’s by moonlight without thinking of it, and ‘at nine o’clock he died!’—But I hate things all fiction; and therefore the Merchant and Othello have no great associations to me: but Pierre has. There should always be some foundation of fact for the most airy fabric, and pure invention is but the talent of a liar.

Maturin’s tragedy.—By your account of him last year to me, he seemed a bit of a coxcomb, personally. Poor fellow! to be sure, he had had a long seasoning of adversity, which is not so hard to bear as t’ other thing. I hope that this won’t throw him back into the ‘slough of Despond.’

“You talk of ‘marriage;’—ever since my own funeral, the word makes me giddy, and throws me into a cold sweat. Pray, don’t repeat it.

“You should close with Madame de Staël. This will be her best work, and permanently historical; it is on her father, the Revolution, and Buonaparte, &c. Bonstetten told me in Switzerland it was very great. I have not seen it myself, but the author often. She was very kind to me at Copet. * * * * *

“There have been two articles in the Venice papers, one a Review of Glenarvon * * * *, and the other a Review of Childe Harold, in which it proclaims me the most rebellious and contumacious admirer of Buonaparte now surviving in Europe. Both these articles are translations from the Literary Gazette of German Jena.

96 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
* * * * * *

“Tell me that Walter Scott is better. I would not have him ill for the world. I suppose it was by sympathy that I had my fever at the same time.

“I joy in the success of your Quarterly, but I must still stick by the Edinburgh; Jeffrey has done so by me, I must say, through every thing, and this is more than I deserved from him.—I have more than once acknowledged to you by letter the ‘Article’ (and articles); say that you have received the said letters, as I do not otherwise know what letters arrive.—Both Reviews came, but nothing more. M.’s play and the extract not yet come.

* * * * * *

“Write to say whether my Magician has arrived, with all his scenes, spells, &c.

“Yours ever, &c.

“It is useless to send to the Foreign-office: nothing arrives to me by that conveyance. I suppose some zealous clerk thinks it a Tory duty to prevent it.”

“Venice April 4th, 1817.

“It is a considerable time since I wrote to you last, and I hardly know why I should trouble you now, except that I think you will not be sorry to hear from me now and then.—You and I were never correspondents, but always something better, which is, very good friends.

“I saw your friend Sharp in Switzerland, or rather in the German territory (which is and is not Switzerland), and he gave Hobhouse and me a very good route for the Bernese Alps; however, we took another from a German, and went by Clarens, the Dent de Jaman to Montbovon, and through Simmenthal to Thoun, and so on to Lauterbrounn; except that from thence to the Grindelwald, instead of round about we went right over the Wengen Alps’ very summit, and being close under
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 97
the Jungfrau, saw it, its glaciers, and heard the avalanches in all their glory, having famous weather therefor. We of course went from the Grindelwald over the Sheidech to Brientz and its lake; past the Reichenbach and all that mountain road, which reminded me of Albania and Ætolia and Greece, except that the people here were more civilized and rascally. I did not think so very much of Chamouni (except the source of the Arveron, to which we went up to the teeth of the ice, so as to look into and touch the cavity, against the warning of the guides, only one of whom would go with us so close) as of the Jungfrau, and the Pissevache, and Simplon, which are quite out of all mortal competition.

“I was at Milan about a moon, and saw Monti and some other living curiosities, and thence on to Verona, where I did not forget your story of the assassination during your sojourn there, and brought away with me some fragments of Juliet’s tomb, and a lively recollection of the amphitheatre. The Countess Goetz (the governor’s wife here) told me that there is still a ruined castle of the Montecchi between Verona and Vicenza. I have been at Venice since November, but shall proceed to Rome shortly. For my deeds here, are they not written in my letters to the unreplying Thomas Moore? to him I refer you: he has received them all, and not answered one.

“Will you remember me to Lord and Lady Holland? I have to thank the former for a book which I have not yet received, but expect to reperuse with great pleasure on my return, viz. the 2d. edition of Lope de Vega. I have heard of Moore’s forthcoming poem: he cannot wish himself more success than I wish and augur for him. I have also heard great things of ‘Tales of my Landlord,’ but I have not yet received them; by all accounts they beat even Waverley, &c., and are by the same author. Maturin’s second tragedy has, it seems, failed, for which I should think any body would be sorry. My health was very victorious till within the last month, when I had a fever. There is a typhus in these parts, but I don’t think it was that. However, I got well without a physician or drugs.

“I forgot to tell you that, last autumn, I furnished Lewis with ‘bread and salt’ for some days at Diodati, in reward for which (besides
98 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
his conversation) be translated ‘
Goëthe’s Faust’ to me by word of mouth, and I set him by the ears with Madame de Staël about the slave trade. I am indebted for many and kind courtesies to our Lady of Copet, and I now love her as much as I always did her works, of which I was and am a great admirer. When are you to begin with Sheridan? what are you doing, and how do you do?

“Ever very truly, &c.”
“Venice, April 9th, 1817.

“Your letters of the 18th and 20th are arrived. In my own I have given you the rise, progress, decline, and fall, of my recent malady. It is gone to the devil: I won’t pay him so bad a compliment as to say it came from him;—he is too much of a gentleman. It was nothing but a slow fever, which quickened its pace towards the end of its journey. I had been bored with it some weeks—with nocturnal burnings and morning perspirations; but I am quite well again, which I attribute to having had neither medicine nor doctor thereof.

“In a few days I set off for Rome: such is my purpose. I shall change it very often before Monday next, but do you continue to direct and address to Venice, as heretofore. If I go, letters will be forwarded: I say ‘if,’ because I never know what I shall do till it is done; and as I mean most firmly to set out for Rome, it is not unlikely I may find myself at St. Petersburg.

“You tell me to ‘take care of myself;’—faith, and I will. I won’t be posthumous yet, if I can help it. Notwithstanding, only think what a ‘Life and Adventures,’ while I am in full scandal, would be worth, together with the ‘membra’ of my writing-desk, the sixteen beginnings of poems never to be finished! Do you think I would not have shot myself last year, had I not luckily recollected that Mrs. C * * and Lady N * *, and all the old women in England would have been delighted;—
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 99
besides the agreeable ‘Lunacy,’ of the ‘Crowner’s Quest,’ and the regrets of two or three or half a dozen? * * * * * Be assured that I would live for two reasons, or more;—there are one or two people whom I have to put out of the world, and as many into it, before I can ‘depart in peace;’ if I do so before, I have not fulfilled my mission. Besides, when I turn thirty, I will turn devout; I feel a great vocation that way in Catholic churches, and when I hear the organ.

“So * * is writing again! Is there no Bedlam in Scotland? nor thumb-screw? nor gag? nor handcuff? I went upon my knees to him almost, some years ago, to prevent him from publishing a political pamphlet, which would have given him a livelier idea of ‘Habeas Corpus’ than the world will derive from his present production upon that suspended subject, which will doubtless be followed by the suspension of other of his majesty’s subjects.

“I condole with Drury-lane and rejoice with * *,—that is, in a modest way,—on the tragical end of the new tragedy.

“You and Leigh Hunt have quarrelled then, it seems? * * * * I introduce him and his poem to you, in the hope that (malgré politics) the union would be beneficial to both, and the end is eternal enmity; and yet I did this with the best intentions: I introduce * * *, and * * * runs away with your money: my friend Hobhouse quarrels, too, with the Quarterly: and (except the last) I am the innocent Istmhus (damn the word! I can’t spell it, though I have crossed that of Corinth a dozen times) of these enmities.

“I will tell you something about Chillon.—A Mr. De Luc, ninety years old, a Swiss, had it read to him, and is pleased with it,—so my sister writes. He said that he was with Rousseau at Chillon, and that the description is perfectly correct. But this is not all: I recollected something of the name, and find the following passage in ‘The Confessions,’ vol. 3, page 247, liv. 8.

“‘De tous ces amusemens celui qui me plût davantage fut une promenade autour du Lac, que je fis en bateau avec De Luc père, sa bru, ses deux fils, et ma Therése. Nous mîmes sept jours a cette tournée par le plus beau temps du monde. J’en gardai le vif souvenir des sites qui
100 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
m’avoient frappé a l’autre extremité du Lac, et dont je fis la description, quelques années après, dans
la Nouvelle Heloise.’

“This nonagenarian, De Luc, must be one of the ‘deux fils.’ He is in England—infirm, but still in faculty. It is odd that he should have lived so long, and not wanting in oddness, that he should have made this voyage with Jean Jacques, and afterwards, at such an interval, read a poem by an Englishman (who had made precisely the same circumnavigation) upon the same scenery.

“As for ‘Manfred,’ it is of no use sending proofs; nothing of that kind comes. I sent the whole at different times. The two first Acts are the best; the third so so; but I was blown with the first and second heats. You must call it ‘a Poem,’ for it is no Drama, and I do not choose to have it called by so ** a name—a ‘Poem in dialogue,’ or—Pantomime, if you will; any thing but a green-room synonyme; and this is your motto—

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
“Yours ever, &c.

“My love and thanks to Mr. Gifford.”

“Venice, April 11, 1817.

“I shall continue to write to you while the fit is on me, by way of penance upon you for your former complaints of long silence. I dare say you would blush, if you could, for not answering. Next week I set out for Rome. Having seen Constantinople, I should like to look at t’other fellow. Besides, I want to see the Pope, and shall take care to tell him that I vote for the Catholics and no Veto.

“I sha’n’t go to Naples. It is but the second best sea-view, and I
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 101
have seen the first and third, viz.—Constantinople and Lisbon (by the way, the last is but a river-view; however, they reckon it after Stamboul and Naples, and before Genoa), and Vesuvius is silent, and I have passed by Ætna. So I shall e’en return to Venice in July; and if you write, I pray you to address to Venice, which is my head, or rather my heart-quarters.

“My late physician, Doctor Polidori, is here, on his way to England, with the present Lord G * * and the widow of the late earl. Doctor Polidori has, just now, no more patients, because his patients are no more. He had lately three, who are now all dead—one embalmed. Horner and a child of Thomas Hope’s are interred at Pisa and Rome. Lord G * * died of an inflammation of the bowels; so they took them out, and sent them (on account of their discrepancies), separately from the carcass, to England. Conceive a man going one way, and his intestines another, and his immortal soul a third!—was there ever such a distribution? One certainly has a soul; but how it came to allow itself to be enclosed in a body is more than I can imagine. I only know if once mine gets out, I’ll have a bit of a tustle before I let it get in again to that or any other.

“And so poor dear Mr. Maturin’s second tragedy has been neglected by the discerning public. * * will be d—d glad of this, and d—d without being glad, if ever his own plays come upon ‘any stage.’

“I wrote to Rogers the other day, with a message for you. I hope that he flourishes. He is the Tithonus of poetry—immortal already. You and I must wait for it.

“I hear nothing—know nothing. You may easily suppose that the English don’t seek me, and I avoid them. To be sure, there are but few or none here, save passengers. Florence and Naples are their Margate and Ramsgate, and much the same sort of company too, by all accounts, which hurts us among the Italians.

“I want to hear of Lalla Rookh—are you out? Death and fiends! why don’t you tell me where you are, what you are, and how you are? I shall go to Bologna by Ferraro, instead of Mantua; because I would rather see the cell where they caged Tasso, and where he became mad
102 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
and * *, than his own MSS. at Modena, or the Mantuan birthplace of that
harmonious plagiary and miserable flatterer, whose cursed hexameters were drilled into me at Harrow. I saw Verona and Vicenza on my way here—Padua too.

“I go alone,—but alone, because I mean to return here. I only want to see Rome. I have not the least curiosity about Florence, though I must see it for the sake of the Venus, &c. &c.; and I wish also to see the Fall of Terni. I think to return to Venice by Ravenna and Rimini, of both of which I mean to take notes for Leigh Hunt, who will be glad to hear of the scenery of his Poem. There was a devil of a review of him in the Quarterly, a year ago, which he answered. All answers are imprudent; but, to be sure, poetical flesh and blood must have the last word—that’s certain. I thought, and think, very highly of his Poem; but I warned him of the row his favourite antique phraseology would bring him into.

“You have taken a house at Hornsey; I had much rather you had taken one in the Apennines. If you think of coming out for a summer, or so, tell me, that I may be upon the hover for you.

“Ever, &c.”
“Venice, April 14th, 1817.

“By the favour of Dr. Polidori, who is here on his way to England with the present Lord G * * (the late earl having gone to England by another road, accompanied by his bowels in a separate coffer). I remit to you, to deliver to Mrs. Leigh, two miniatures; but previously you will have the goodness to desire Mr. Love (as a peace-offering between him and me) to set them in plain gold, with my arms complete, and ‘Painted by Prepiani.—Venice, 1817,’ on the back. I wish also that you would desire Holmes to make a copy of each—that is, both—for myself, and that you will retain the said copies till my return. One was done while I was very unwell; the other in my health, which may
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 103
account for their dissimilitude. I trust that they will reach their destination in safety.

“I recommend the doctor to your good offices with your government friends; and if you can be of any use to him in a literary point of view, pray be so.

“To-day, or rather yesterday, for it is past midnight, I have been up to the battlements of the highest tower in Venice, and seen it and its view, in all the glory of a clear Italian sky. I also went over the Manfrini Palace, famous for its pictures. Amongst them, there is a portrait of Ariosto, by Titian, surpassing all my anticipation of the power of painting or human expression: it is the poetry of portrait, and the portrait of poetry. There was also one of some learned lady, centuries old, whose name I forget, but whose features must always be remembered. I never saw greater beauty, or sweetness, or wisdom:—it is the kind of face to go mad for, because it cannot walk out of its frame. There is also a famous dead Christ and live Apostles, for which Buonaparte offered in vain five thousand louis; and of which, though it is a capo d’opera of Titian, as I am no connoisseur, I say little, and thought less, except of one figure in it. There are ten thousand others, and some very fine Giorgiones amongst them, &c. &c. There is an original Laura and Petrarch, very hideous both. Petrarch has not only the dress, but the features and air of an old woman, and Laura looks by no means like a young one, or a pretty one. What struck me most in the general collection was the extreme resemblance of the style of the female faces in the mass of pictures, so many centuries or generations old, to those you see and meet every day among the existing Italians. The queen of Cyprus and Giorgione’s wife, particularly the latter, are Venetians as it were of yesterday; the same eyes and expression, and, to my mind, there is none finer.

“You must recollect, however, that I know nothing of painting; and that I detest it, unless it reminds me of something I have seen, or think it possible to see, for which reason I spit upon and abhor all the Saints and subjects of one half the impostures I see in the churches and palaces; and when in Flanders, I never was so disgusted in my life,
104 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
as with
Rubens and his eternal wives and infernal glare of colours, as they appeared to me; and in Spain I did not think much of Murillo and Velasquez. Depend upon it, of all the arts, it is the most artificial and unnatural, and that by which the nonsense of mankind is most imposed upon. I never yet saw the picture or the statue which came a league within my conception or expectation; but I have seen many mountains, and seas, and rivers, and views, and two or three women, who went as far beyond it,—besides some horses; and a lion (at Veli Pacha’s) in the Morea; and a tiger at supper in Exeter ’Change.

“When you write, continue to address to me at Venice. Where do you suppose the books you sent to me are? At Turin! This comes of ‘the Foreign Office,’ which is foreign enough, God knows, for any good it can be of to me, or any one else, and be d—d to it, to its last clerk and first charlatan, Castlereagh.

“This makes my hundredth letter at least.

“Yours, &c.”
“Venice, April 14th, 1817.

“The present proofs (of the whole) begin only at the 17th page; but as I had corrected and sent back the First Act, it does not signify.

“The Third Act is certainly d—d bad, and, like the Archbishop of Grenada’s homily (which savoured of the palsy), has the dregs of my fever, during which it was written. It must on no account be published in its present state. I will try and reform it, or re-write it altogether; but the impulse is gone, and I have no chance of making any thing out of it. I would not have it published as it is on any account. The speech of Manfred to the Sun is the only part of this act I thought good myself; the rest is certainly as bad as bad can be, and I wonder what the devil possessed me.

“I am very glad indeed that you sent me Mr. Gifford’s opinion without deduction. Do you suppose me such a booby as not to be very
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 105
much obliged to him? or that in fact I was not, and am not, convinced and convicted in my conscience of this same overt act of nonsense?

“I shall try at it again: in the mean time, lay it upon the shelf (the whole Drama, I mean); but pray correct your copies of the First and Second Act from the original MS.

“I am not coming to England; but going to Rome in a few days. I return to Venice in June; so, pray, address all letters, &c. to me here, as usual, that is, to Venice. Dr. Polidori this day left this city with Lord G * * for England. He is charged with some books to your care (from me), and two miniatures also to the same address, both for my sister.

“Recollect not to publish, upon pain of I know not what, until I have tried again at the Third Act. I am not sure that I shall try, and still less that I shall succeed, if I do; but I am very sure, that (as it is) it is unfit for publication or perusal; and unless I can make it out to my own satisfaction, I won’t have any part published.

“I write in haste, and after having lately written very often.

“Yours, &c.
“Foligno, April 26th, 1817.

“I wrote to you the other day from Florence, inclosing a MS. entitled ‘The Lament of Tasso.’ It was written in consequence of my having been lately at Ferrara. In the last section of this MS. but one (that is, the penultimate), I think that I have omitted a line in the copy sent to you from Florence, viz. after the line—
“And woo compassion to a blighted name,
“Sealing the sentence which my foes proclaim.
The context will show you the sense, which is not clear in this quotation.
106 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Remember, I write this in the supposition that you have received my Florentine packet.

“At Florence I remained but a day, having a hurry for Rome, to which I am thus far advanced. However, I went to the two galleries, from which one returns drunk with beauty. The Venus is more for admiration than love; but there are sculpture and painting, which for the first time at all gave me an idea of what people mean by their cant, and what Mr. Braham calls ‘entusimusy’ (i. e. enthusiasm) about those two most artificial of the arts. What struck me most were, the mistress of Raphael, a portrait; the mistress of Titian, a portrait; a Venus of Titian in the Medici gallery—the Venus; Canova’s Venus also, in the other gallery: Titian’s mistress is also in the other gallery (that is, in the Pitti Palace gallery): the Parcæ of Michael Angelo, a picture; and the Antinous, the Alexander, and one or two not very decent groups in marble; the Genius of Death, a sleeping figure, &c. &c.

“I also went to the Medici chapel—fine frippery in great slabs of various expensive stones, to commemorate fifty rotten and forgotten carcasses. It is unfinished, and will remain so.

“The church of ‘Santa Croce’ contains much illustrious nothing. The tombs of Machiavelli, Michael Angelo, Galileo Galilei, and Alfieri, make it the Westminster Abbey of Italy. I did not admire any of these tombs—beyond their contents. That of Alfieri is heavy, and all of them seem to me overloaded. What is necessary but a bust and name? and perhaps a date? the last for the unchronological, of whom I am one. But all your allegory and eulogy is infernal, and worse than the long wigs of English numskulls upon Roman bodies in the statuary of the reigns of Charles II., William, and Anne.

“When you write, write to Venice, as usual; I mean to return there in a fortnight. I shall not be in England for a long time. This afternoon I met Lord and Lady Jersey, and saw them for some time: all well; children grown and healthy; she very pretty, but sunburnt; he very sick of travelling; bound for Paris. There are not many English on the move, and those who are, mostly homewards. I shall not return till business makes me, being much better where I am in health, &c. &c.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 107

“For the sake of my personal comfort, I pray you send me immediately to Venice—mind, Venice—viz. Waites’ tooth-powder, red, a quantity; calcined magnesia, of the best quality, a quantity; and all this by safe, sure, and speedy means; and, by the Lord! do it.

“I have done nothing at Manfred’s Third Act. You must wait; I’ll have at it in a week or two, or so.

“Yours ever, &c.”
“Rome, May 5th, 1817.

“By this post (or next at farthest) I send you in two other covers, the new Third Act of ‘Manfred.’ I have re-written the greater part, and returned what is not altered in the proof you sent me. The Abbot is become a good man, and the Spirits are brought in at the death. You will find, I think, some good poetry in this new act, here and there; and if so, print it, without sending me farther proofs, under Mr. Gifford’s correction, if he will have the goodness to overlook it. Address all answers to Venice, as usual; I mean to return there in ten days.

“‘The Lament of Tasso,’ which I sent from Florence, has, I trust, arrived: I look upon it as a ‘these be good rhymes,’ as Pope’s papa said to him when he was a boy. For the two—it and the Drama—you will disburse to me (via Kinnaird) six hundred guineas. You will perhaps be surprised that I set the same price upon this as upon the Drama; but, besides that I look upon it as good, I won’t take less than three hundred guineas for any thing. The two together will make you a larger publication than the ‘Siege’ and ‘Parisina;’ so you may think yourself let off very easy: that is to say, if these poems are good for any thing, which I hope and believe.

“I have been some days in Rome the Wonderful. I am seeing sights, and have done nothing else, except the new Third Act for you. I have this morning seen a live pope and a dead cardinal: Pius VII. has been burying Cardinal Bracchi, whose body I saw in state at the Chiesa
108 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Nuova. Rome has delighted me beyond every thing, since Athens and Constantinople. But I shall not remain long this visit. Address to Venice. “Ever, &c.

“P.S. I have got my saddle-horses here, and have ridden, and am riding, all about the country.”

From the foregoing letters to Mr. Murray, we may collect some curious particulars respecting one of the most original and sublime of the noble poet’s productions, the Drama of Manfred. His failure (and to an extent of which the reader shall be enabled presently to judge), in the completion of a design which he had, through two Acts, so magnificently carried on,—the impatience with which, though conscious of this failure, he as usual hurried to the press, without deigning to woo, or wait for, a happier moment of inspiration,—his frank docility in, at once, surrendering up his Third Act to reprobation, without urging one parental word in its behalf,—the doubt he evidently felt, whether, from his habit of striking off these creations at a heat, he should be able to rekindle his imagination on the subject,—and then, lastly, the complete success with which, when his mind did make the spring, he at once cleared the whole space by which he before fell short of perfection,—all these circumstances, connected with the production of this grand Poem, lay open to us features, both of his disposition and genius, in the highest degree interesting, and such as there is a pleasure, second only to that of perusing the Poem itself, in contemplating.

As a literary curiosity, and, still more, as a lesson to genius, never to rest satisfied with imperfection or mediocrity, but to labour on till even failures are converted into triumphs, I shall here transcribe the Third Act, in its original shape, as first sent to the publisher.

A Hall in the Castle of Manfred.

Manfred and Herman.
Man. What is the hour?
Her. It wants but one till sunset,
And promises a lovely twilight.
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 109
Man. Say,
Are all things so disposed of in the tower
As I directed?
Her. All, my lord, are ready:
Here is the key and casket.
Man. It is well:
Thou may’st retire. [Exit Herman.
Man. (alone.) There is a calm upon me—
Inexplicable stillness! which till now
Did not belong to what I knew of life.
If that I did not know philosophy
To be of all our vanities the motliest,
The merest word that ever fool’d the ear
From out the schoolman’s jargon, I should deem
The golden secret, the sought “Kalon,” found,
And seated in my soul. It will not last,
But it is well to have known it, though but once:
It hath enlarged my thoughts with a new sense,
And I within my tablets would note down
That there is such a feeling. Who is there?
Re-enter Herman.
Her. My lord, the Abbot of St. Maurice craves
To greet your presence.

Enter the Abbot of St. Maurice.
Abbot. Peace be with Count Manfred!
Man. Thanks, holy father! welcome to these walls;
Thy presence honours them, and blesseth those
Who dwell within them.
Abbot. Would it were so, Count!
But I would fain confer with thee alone.
Man. Herman, retire. What would my reverend guest?
[Exit Herman.
Abbot. Thus, without prelude:—Age and zeal, my office,
And good intent, must plead my privilege;
Our near, though not acquainted neighbourhood,
May also be my herald. Rumours strange,
And of unholy nature, are abroad,
And busy with thy name—a noble name
110 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
For centuries; may he who bears it now
Transmit it unimpair’d!
Man. Proceed,—I listen.
Abbot. ’Tis said thou boldest converse with the things
Which are forbidden to the search of man;
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes,
The many evil and unheavenly spirits
Which walk the valley of the shade of death,
Thou communest. I know that with mankind,
Thy fellows in creation, thou dost rarely
Exchange thy thoughts, and that thy solitude
Is as an anchorite’s, were it but holy.
Man. And what are they who do avouch these things?
Abbot. My pious brethren—the scared peasantry—
Even thy own vassals—who do look on thee
With most unquiet eyes. Thy life’s in peril.
Man. Take it.
Abbot. I come to save, and not destroy—
I would not pry into thy secret soul;
But if these things be sooth, there still is time
For penitence and pity: reconcile thee
With the true church, and through the church to heaven.
Man. I hear thee. This is my reply; whate’er
I may have been, or am, doth rest between
Heaven and myself.—I shall not choose a mortal
To be my mediator. Have I sinn’d
Against your ordinances? prove and punish*!
Abbot. Then, hear and tremble! For the headstrong wretch
Who in the mail of innate hardihood
Would shield himself, and battle for his sins,
There is the stake on earth, and beyond earth eternal—
Man. Charity, most reverend father,
Becomes thy lips so much more than this menace,
That I would call thee back to it; but say,
What wouldst thou with me?
Abbot. It may be there are
Things that would shake thee—but I keep them back,
And give thee till to-morrow to repent.

* It will be perceived that, as far as this, the original matter of the Third Act has been retained.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 111
Then if thou dost not all devote thyself
To penance, and with gift of all thy lands
To the monastery—
Man. I understand thee,—well!
Abbot. Expect no mercy; I have warned thee.
Man. (opening the casket.) Stop—
There is a gift for thee within this casket.
[Manfred opens the casket, strikes a light, and burns some incense.
Ho! Ashtaroth!
The  Demon Ashtaroth appears, singing as follows:
The raven sits
On the raven-stone,
And his black wing flits
O’er the milk-white bone;
To and fro, as the night-winds blow,
The carcass of the assassin swings;
And there alone, on the raven-stone*,
The raven flaps his dusky wings.
The fetters creak—and his ebon beak
Croaks to the close of the hollow sound;
And this is the tune by the light of the moon
To which the witches dance their round.
Merrily, merrily, cheerily, cheerily,
Merrily, merrily, speeds the ball:
The dead in their shrouds, and the demons in clouds,
Flock to the witches’ carnival.
Abbot. I fear thee not—hence—hence—
Avaunt thee, evil one!—help, ho! without there!
Man. Convey this man to the Shreckhorn—to its peak—
To its extremest peak—watch with him there
From now till sunrise; let him gaze, and know
He ne’er again will be so near to heaven.
But harm him not; and, when the morrow breaks,
Set him down safe in his cell—away with him!
Ash. Had I not better bring his brethren too,
Convent and all, to bear him company?

* “Raven-stone (Rabenstein), a translation of the German word for the gibbet, which in Germany and Switzerland is permanent, and made of stone.”

112 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Man. No, this will serve for the present. Take him up.
Ash. Come, friar! now an exorcism or two,
And we shall fly the lighter.
Ashtaroth disappears with the Abbot, singing as follows:
A prodigal son and a maid undone,
And a widow re-wedded within the year;
And a worldly monk and a pregnant nun,
Are things which every day appear.
Manfred alone.
Man. Why would this fool break in on me, and force
My art to pranks fantastical?—no matter,
It was not of my seeking. My heart sickens
And weighs a fix’d foreboding on my soul;
But it is calm—calm as a sullen sea
After the hurricane; the winds are still,
But the cold waves swell high and heavily,
And there is danger in them. Such a rest
Is no repose. My life hath been a combat,
And every thought a wound) till I am scarr’d
In the immortal part of me.—What now?
Re-enter Herman.
Her. My lord, you bade me wait on you at sunset:
He sinks behind the mountain.
Man. Doth he so?
I will look on him.
[Manfred advances to the window of the hall.
Glorious orb*! the idol
Of early nature, and the vigorous race
Of undiseased mankind, the giant sons
Of the embrace of angels, with a sex
More beautiful than they, which did draw down
The erring spirits who can ne’er return.—
Most glorious orb! that wert a worship, ere
The mystery of thy making was reveal’d!

* This fine soliloquy, and a great part of the subsequent scene, have, it is hardly necessary to remark, been retained in the present form of the Drama.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 113
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty,
Which gladden’d, on their mountain tops, the hearts
Of the Chaldean shepherds, till they pour’d
Themselves in orisons! Thou material God!
And representative of the Unknown—
Who chose thee for his shadow! Thou chief star!
Centre of many stars! which mak’at our earth
Endurable, and temperest the hues
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays!
Sire of the seasons! Monarch of the climes,
And those who dwell in them! for, near or far,
Our inborn spirits have a tint of thee,
Even as our outward aspects;—thou dost rise,
And shine, and set in glory. Fare thee well!
I ne’er shall see thee more. As my first glance
Of love and wonder was for thee, then take
My latest look: thou wilt not beam on one
To whom the gifts of life and warmth have been
Of a more fatal nature. He is gone:
I follow. [Exit Manfred.
The Mountains—The Castle of Manfred at some distance—A Terrace before a Tower—Time, Twilight.

Herman, Manuel, and other Dependants of Manfred.
Her. ’Tis strange enough; night after night, for years,
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower,
Without a witness. I have been within it,—
So have we all been oft-times; but from it,
Or its contents, it were impossible
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
His studies tend to. To be sure, there is
One chamber where none enter; I would give
The fee of what I have to come these three years,
To pore upon its mysteries.
Manuel. ’Twere dangerous;
Content thyself with what thou know’st already.
Her. Ah! Manuel! thou art elderly and wise,
And couldst say much; thou best dwelt within the castle—
How many years is’t?
114 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Manuel. Ere Count Manfred’s birth,
I served his father, whom he nought resembles.
Her. There be more sons in like predicament.
But wherein do they differ?
Manuel. I speak not
Of features or of form, but mind and habits:
Count Sigismund was proud,—but gay and free,—
A warrior and a reveller; he dwelt not
With books and solitude, nor made the night
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time,
Merrier than day; he did not walk the rocks
And forests like a wolf; nor turn aside
From men and their delights.
Her. Beshrew the hour,
But those were jocund times! I would that such
Would visit the old walls again; they look
As if they had forgotten them.
Manuel. These walls
Must change their chieftain first. Oh! I have seen
Some strange things in these few years*.
Her. Come, be friendly;
Relate me some, to while away our watch:
I’ve heard thee darkly speak of an event
Which happen’d hereabouts, by this same tower.
Manuel. That was a night indeed! I do remember
’Twas twilight, as it may be now, and such
Another evening;—yon red cloud, which rests
On Eigher’s pinnacle, so rested then,—
So like that it might be the same; the wind
Was faint and gusty, and the mountain snows
Began to glitter with the climbing moon;
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower,—
How occupied, we knew not, but with him
The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings—her, whom of all earthly things
That lived, the only thing he seem’d to love,—
As he, indeed, by blood was bound to do,
The lady Astarte, his—

* Altered, in the present form, to “Some strange things in them, Herman.”

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 115
Her. Look—look—the tower—
The tower’s on fire. Oh heavens and earth! what sound,
What dreadful sound is that? [A crash like thunder.
Manuel. Help, help, there!—to the rescue of the Count,—
The Count’s in danger,—what ho! there! approach!
[The Servants, Vassals, and Peasantry approach, stupified with terror.
If there be any of you who have heart
And love of human kind, and will to aid
Those in distress—pause not—but follow me—
The portal’s open, follow. [Manuel goes in.
Her. Come—who follows?
What, none of ye?—ye recreants! shiver then
Without. I will not see old Manuel risk
His few remaining years unaided. [Herman goes in.
Vassal. Hark!—
No—all is silent—not a breath—the flame
Which shot forth such a blaze is also gone;
What may this mean? let’s enter!
Peasant. Faith, not I,—
Not that, if one, or two, or more, will join,
I then will stay behind; but, for my part,
I do not see precisely to what end.
Vassal. Cease your vain prating—come.
Manuel. (speaking within.) ’Tis all in vain—
He’s dead.
Her. (within.) Not so—even now methought he moved;
But it is dark—so bear him gently out—
Softly—how cold he is! take care of his temples
In winding down the staircase.
Re-enter Manuel and Herman, bearing Manfred in their arms.
Manuel. Hie to the castle, some of ye, and bring
What aid you can. Saddle the barb, and speed
For the leech to the city—quick! some water there!
Her. His cheek is black—but there is a faint heat
Still lingering about the heart. Some water.
[They sprinkle Manfred with water; after a pause, he gives some signs of life.
Manuel. He seems to strive to speak—come—cheerly, Count!
116 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
He moves his lips—canst hear him? I am old,
And cannot catch faint sounds.
[Herman inclining his head and listening.
Her. I hear a word
Or two—but indistinctly—what is next?
What’s to be done? let’s bear him to the castle.
[Manfred motions with his hand not to remove him.
Manuel. He disapproves—and ’twere of no avail—
He changes rapidly.
Her. ’Twill soon be over.
Manuel. Oh! what a death is this! that I should live
To shake my gray hairs over the last chief
Of the house of Sigismund.—And such a death!
Alone—we know not how—unshrived—untended—
With strange accompaniments and fearful signs—
I shudder at the sight—but must not leave him.
Manfred. (speaking faintly and slowly.) Old man! ’tis not so difficult to die. [Manfred having said this expires.
Her. His eyes are fix’d and lifeless.—He is gone.—
Manuel. Close them.—My old hand quivers.—He departs—
Whither? I dread to think—but he is gone!
“Rome, May 9th, 1817.

“Address all answers to Venice; for there I shall return in fifteen days, God willing.

“I sent you from Florence ‘The Lament of Tasso,’ and from Rome the Third Act of Manfred, both of which, I trust, will duly arrive. The terms of these two I mentioned in my last, and will repeat in this: it is three hundred for each, or six hundred guineas for the two—that is, if you like, and they are good for any thing.

“At last one of the parcels is arrived. In the notes to Childe Harold there is a blunder of yours or mine: you talk of arrival at St. Gingo, and, immediately after, add—‘on the height is the Chateau of Clarens.’ This is sad work: Clarens is on the other side of the Lake,
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 117
and it is quite impossible that I should have so bungled. Look at the MS.; and at any rate rectify it.

“The ‘Tales of my Landlord’ I have read with great pleasure, and perfectly understand now why my sister and aunt are so very positive in the very erroneous persuasion that they must have been written by me. If you knew me as well as they do, you would have fallen, perhaps, into the same mistake. Some day or other, I will explain to you why—when I have time; at present it does not much matter; but you must have thought this blunder of theirs very odd, and so did I, till I had read the book.—Croker’s letter to you is a very great compliment; I shall return it to you in my next.

“I perceive you are publishing a Life of Raffael d’Urbino: it may perhaps interest you to hear that a set of German artists here allow their hair to grow, and trim it into his fashion, thereby drinking the cummin of the disciples of the old philosopher; if they would cut their hair, convert it into brushes, and paint like him, it would be more ‘German to the matter.’

“I’ll tell you a story: the other day, a man here—an English—mistaking the statues of Charlemagne and Constantine, which are equestrian, for those of Peter and Paul, asked another which was Paul of these same horsemen?—to which the reply was—‘I thought, sir, that St. Paul had never got on horseback since his accident?

“I’ll tell you another: Henry Fox, writing to some one from Naples the other day, after an illness, adds—‘and I am so changed that my oldest creditors would hardly know me.’

“I am delighted with Rome—as I would be with a bandbox, that is, it is a fine thing to see, finer than Greece; but I have not been here long enough to affect it as a residence, and I must go back to Lombardy, because I am wretched at being away from Marianna. I have been riding my saddle-horses every day, and been to Albano, its Lakes, and to the top of the Alban Mount, and to Frescati, Aricia, &c. &c. with an &c. &c. &c. about the city, and in the city: for all which—vide Guidebook. As a whole, ancient and modern, it beats Greece, Constantinople, every thing—at least that I have ever seen. But I can’t describe, because
118 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
my first impressions are always strong and confused, and my memory selects and reduces them to order, like distance in the landscape, and blends them better, although they may be less distinct. There must be a sense or two more than we have, us mortals; for * * * * * where there is much to be grasped we are always at a loss, and yet feel that we ought to have a higher and more extended comprehension.

“I have had a letter from Moore, who is in some alarm about his Poem. I don’t see why.

“I have had another from my poor dear Augusta, who is in a sad fuss about my late illness: do, pray, tell her (the truth) that I am better than ever, and in importunate health, growing (if not grown) large and ruddy, and congratulated by impertinent persons on my robustious appearance, when I ought to be pale and interesting.

“You tell me that George Byron has got a son, and Augusta says, a daughter; which is it?—it is no great matter: the father is a good man, an excellent officer, and has married a very nice little woman, who will bring him more babes than income; howbeit she had a handsome dowry, and is a very charming girl;—but he may as well get a ship.

“I have no thoughts of coming amongst you yet awhile, so that I can fight off business. If I could but make a tolerable sale of Newstead, there would be no occasion for my return; and I can assure you very sincerely, that I am much happier (or, at least, have been so) out of your island than in it.

“Yours ever.

“P.S. There are few English here, but several of my acquaintance; amongst others, the Marquis of Lansdowne, with whom I dine to-morrow. I met the Jerseys on the road at Foligno—all well.

“Oh—I forgot—the Italians have printed Chillon, &c. a piracy,—a pretty little edition, prettier than yours—and published, as I found to my great astonishment on arriving here; and what is odd, is, that the English is quite correctly printed. Why they did it, or who did it, I know not; but so it is;—I suppose, for the English people. I will send you a copy.”

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 119
“Rome, May 12th, 1817.

“I have received your letter here, where I have taken a cruise lately; but I shall return back to Venice in a few days, so that if you write again, address there, as usual. I am not for returning to England so soon as you imagine; and by no means at all as a residence. If you cross the Alps in your projected expedition, you will find me somewhere in Lombardy, and very glad to see you. Only give me a word or two beforehand, for I would readily diverge some leagues to meet you.

“Of Rome I say nothing; it is quite indescribable, and the Guidebook is as good as any other. I dined yesterday with Lord Lansdowne, who is on his return. But there are few English here at present; the winter is their time. I have been on horseback most of the day, all days since my arrival, and have taken it as I did Constantinople. But Rome is the elder sister, and the finer. I went some days ago to the top of the Alban Mount, which is superb. As for the Coliseum, Pantheon, St. Peter’s, the Vatican, Palatine, &c. &c.—as I said, vide Guidebook. They are quite inconceivable, and must be seen. The Apollo Belvidere is the image of Lady Adelaide Forbes—I think I never saw such a likeness.

“I have seen the Pope alive, and a cardinal dead,—both of whom looked very well indeed. The latter was in state in the Chiesa Nuova, previous to his interment.

“Your poetical alarms are groundless; go on and prosper. Here is Hobhouse just come in, and my horses at the door, so that I must mount and take the field in the Campus Martius, which, by the way, is all built over by modern Rome.

“Yours very and ever, &c.

“P.S. Hobhouse presents his remembrances, and is eager, with all the world, for your new Poem.”

120 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
“Venice, May 30th, 1817.

“I returned from Rome two days ago, and have received your letter; but no sign nor tidings of the parcel sent through Sir C. Stuart, which you mention. After an interval of months, a packet of ‘Tales,’ &c. found me at Rome; but this is all, and may be all that ever will find me. The post seems to be the only sure conveyance, and that only for letters. From Florence I sent you a poem on Tasso, and from Rome the new Third Act of ‘Manfred,’ and by Dr. Polidori two portraits for my sister. I left Rome and made a rapid journey home. You will continue to direct here as usual. Mr. Hobhouse is gone to Naples: I should have run down there too for a week, but for the quantity of English whom I heard of there. I prefer hating them at a distance; unless an earthquake, or a good real irruption of Vesuvius, were ensured to reconcile me to their vicinity.

* * * * * * *

“The day before I left Rome I saw three robbers guillotined. The ceremony—including the masqued priests; the half-naked executioners; the bandaged criminals; the black Christ and his banner; the scaffold; the soldiery; the slow procession, and the quick rattle and heavy fall of the axe; the splash of the blood, and the ghastliness of the exposed heads—is altogether more impressive than the vulgar and ungentlemanly dirty ‘new drop,’ and dog-like agony of infliction upon the sufferers of the English sentence. Two of these men behaved calmly enough, but the first of the three died with great terror and reluctance. What was very horrible, he would not lie down; then his neck was too large for the aperture, and the priest was obliged to drown his exclamations by still louder exhortations. The head was off before the eye could trace the blow; but from an attempt to draw back the head, notwithstanding it was held forward by the hair, the first head was cut off close to the ears: the other two were taken off more cleanly. It is better than the oriental way, and (I should think) than the axe of our ancestors. The
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 121
pain seems little, and yet the effect to the spectator, and the preparation to the criminal, is very striking and chilling. The first turned me quite hot and thirsty, and made me shake so that I could hardly hold the opera-glass (I was close, but was determined to see, as one should see every thing, once, with attention); the second and third (which shows how dreadfully soon things grow indifferent), I am ashamed to say, had no effect on me as a horror, though I would have saved them if I could.

“Yours, &c.”
“Venice, June 4th, 1817.

“I have received the proofs of the ‘Lament of Tasso,’ which makes me hope that you have also received the reformed Third Act of Manfred, from Rome, which I sent soon after my arrival there. My date will apprize you of my return home within these few days. For me, I have received none of your packets, except, after long delay, the ‘Tales of my Landlord,’ which I before acknowledged. I do not at all understand the why nots, but so it is;—no Manuel, no letters, no tooth-powder, no extract from Moore’s Italy concerning Marino Faliero, no nothing—as a man hallooed out at one of Burdett’s elections, after a long ululatus of ‘No Bastille! No governor-ities! No—’ God knows who or what;—but his ne plus ultra was ‘No nothing!’—and my receipts of your packages amount to about his meaning. I want the extract from Moore’s Italy very much, and the tooth-powder, and the magnesia; I don’t care so much about the poetry, or the letters, or Mr. Maturin’s by-Jasus tragedy. Most of the things sent by the post have come—I mean proofs and letters; therefore send me Marino Faliero by the post, in a letter.

“I was delighted with Rome, and was on horseback all round it many hours daily, besides in it the rest of my time, bothering over its
122 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
marvels. I excursed and skirred the country round to Alba, Tivoli, Frescati, Licenza, &c. &c.; besides, I visited twice the Fall of Terni, which beats every thing. On my way back, close to the temple by its banks, I got some famous trout out of the river Clitumnus—the prettiest little stream in all poesy, near the first post from Foligno and Spoletto.—I did not stay at Florence, being anxious to get home to Venice, and having already seen the galleries and other sights. I left my commendatory letters the evening before I went, so I saw nobody.

“To-day, Pindemonte, the celebrated poet of Verona, called on me; he is a little thin man, with acute and pleasing features; his address good and gentle; his appearance altogether very philosophical; his age about sixty, or more. He is one of their best going. I gave him Forsyth, as he speaks, or reads rather, a little English, and will find there a favourable account of himself. He inquired after his old Cruscan friends, Parsons, Greathead, Mrs. Piozzi, and Merry, all of whom he had known in his youth. I gave him as bad an account of them as I could, answering, as the false ‘Solomon Lob’ does to ‘Totterton’ in the farce, ‘all gone dead,’ and damned by a satire more than twenty years ago; that the name of their extinguisher was Gifford; that they were but a sad set of scribes after all, and no great things in any other way. He seemed, as was natural, very much pleased with this account of his old acquaintances, and went away greatly gratified with that and Mr. Forsyth’s sententious paragraph of applause in his own (Pindemonte’s) favour. After having been a little libertine in his youth, he is grown devout, and takes prayers, and talks to himself, to keep off the devil; but for all that, he is a very nice little old gentleman.

“I forgot to tell you that at Bologna (which is celebrated for producing popes, painters, and sausages) I saw an anatomical gallery, where there is a deal of waxwork, in which * * * * * *.

“I am sorry to hear of your row with Hunt; but suppose him to be exasperated by the Quarterly and your refusal to deal; and when one is angry and edites a paper, I should think the temptation too strong for literary nature, which is not always human. I can’t conceive in
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 123
what, and for what, he abuses you: what have you done? you are not an author, nor a politician, nor a public character; I know no scrape you have tumbled into. I am the more sorry, for this because I introduced you to Hunt, and because I believe him to be a good man; but till I know the particulars, I can give no opinion.

“Let me know about Lalla Rookh, which must be out by this time.

“I restore the proofs, but the punctuation should be corrected. I feel too lazy to have at it myself; so beg and pray Mr. Gifford for me.—Address to Venice. In a few days I go to my villeggiatura, in a casino near the Brenta, a few miles only on the main land. I have determined on another year, and many years of residence if I can compass them. Marianna is with me, hardly recovered of the fever, which has been attacking all Italy last winter. I am afraid she is a little hectic; but I hope the best.

“Ever, &c.

“P.S. Torwaltzen has done a bust of me at Rome for Mr. Hobhouse, which is reckoned very good. He is their best after Canova, and by some preferred to him.

“I have had a letter from Mr. Hodgson. He is very happy, has got a living, but not a child: if he had stuck to a curacy, babes would have come of course, because he could not have maintained them.

“Remember me to all friends, &c. &c.

“An Austrian officer, the other day, being in love with a Venetian, was ordered, with his regiment, into Hungary. Distracted between love and duty, he purchased a deadly drug, which dividing with his mistress, both swallowed. The ensuing pains were terrific, but the pills were purgative, and not poisonous, by the contrivance of the unsentimental apothecary; so that so much suicide was all thrown away. You may conceive the previous confusion and the final laughter; but the intention was good on all sides.”

124 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
“Venice, June 8th, 1817.

“The present letter will be delivered to you by two Armenian friars, on their way, by England, to Madras. They will also convey some copies of the grammar, which I think you agreed to take. If you can be of any use to them, either amongst your naval or East Indian acquaintances, I hope you will so far oblige me, as they and their order have been remarkably attentive and friendly towards me since my arrival at Venice. Their names are Father Sukias Somalian and Father Sarkis Theodorosian. They speak Italian, and probably French, or a little English. Repeating earnestly my recommendatory request, believe me, very truly, yours,


“Perhaps you can help them to their passage, or give or get them letters for India.”

“La Mira, near Venice, June 14th. 1817.

“I write to you from the banks of the Brenta, a few miles from Venice, where I have colonized for six months to come. Address, as usual, to Venice.

“Three months after date (17th March),—like the unnegotiable bill despondingly received by the reluctant tailor,—your despatch has arrived, containing the extract from Moore’s Italy and Mr. Maturin’s bankrupt tragedy. It is the absurd work of a clever man. I think it might have done upon the stage, if he had made Manuel (by some trickery, in a masque or vizor) fight his own battle, instead of employing Molineux as his champion; and, after the defeat of Torrismond, have made him spare the son of his enemy, by some revulsion of feeling, not incompatible
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 125
with a character of extravagant and distempered emotions. But as it is, what with the Justiza, and the ridiculous conduct of the whole dram. pers. (for they are all as mad as Manuel, who surely must have had more interest with a corrupt bench than a distant relation and heir presumptive, somewhat suspect of homicide), I do not wonder at its failure. As a play, it is impracticable; as a poem, no great things. Who was the ‘Greek that grappled with glory naked?’ the Olympic wrestlers? or
Alexander the Great, when he ran stark round the tomb of t’ other fellow? or the Spartan who was fined by the Ephori for fighting without his armour? or who? And as to ‘flaying off life like a garment,’ helas! that’s in Tom Thumb—see king Arthur’s soliloquy:
‘Life’s a mere rag, not worth a prince’s wearing;
I’ll cast it off.’
And the stage-directions—‘Staggers among the bodies;’—the slain are too numerous, as well as the blackamoor knights-penitent being one too many: and De Zelos is such a shabby Monmouth-street villain, without any redeeming quality—Stap my vitals! Maturin seems to be declining into
Nat. Lee. But let him try again; he has talent, but not much taste. I ’gin to fear, or to hope, that Sotheby after all is to be the Æschylus of the age, unless Mr. Shiel be really worthy his success. The more I see of the stage, the less I would wish to have any thing to do with it; as a proof of which, I hope you have received the Third Act of Manfred, which will at least prove that I wish to steer very clear of the possibility of being put into scenery. I sent it from Rome.

“I returned the proof of Tasso. By the way, have you never received a translation of St. Paul, which I sent you, not for publication, before I went to Rome?

“I am at present on the Brenta. Opposite is a Spanish marquis, ninety years old; next his casino is a Frenchman’s,—besides the natives; so that, as somebody said the other day, we are exactly one of Goldoni’s comedies (La Vedova Scaltra), where a Spaniard, English, and Frenchman are introduced: but we are all very good neighbours, Venetians, &c. &c. &c.

126 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.

“I am just getting on horseback for my evening ride, and a visit to a physician, who has an agreeable family, of a wife and four unmarried daughters all under eighteen, who are friends of Signora S * *, and enemies to nobody. There are, and are to be, besides, conversaziones and I know not what, at a Countess Labbia’s and I know not whom. The weather is mild; the thermometer 110 in the sun this day, and 80 odd in the shade.

“Yours, &c.
“La Mira, near Venice, June 17th, 1817.

“It gives me great pleasure to hear of Moore’s success, and the more so that I never doubted that it would be complete. Whatever good you can tell me of him and his poem will be most acceptable: I feel very anxious indeed to receive it. I hope that he is as happy in his fame and reward as I wish him to be; for I know no one who deserves both more—if any so much.

“Now to business; * * * * * * I say unto you, verily, it is not so; or, as the foreigner said to the waiter, after asking him to bring a glass of water, to which the man answered, ‘I will, sir,’—‘You will!—G—d d—n,—I say, you ’ And I will submit this to the decision of any person or persons to be appointed by both, on a fair examination of the circumstances of this as compared with the preceding publications. So, there’s for you. There is always some row or other previously to all our publications: it should seem that, on approximating, we can never quite get over the natural antipathy of author and bookseller, and that more particularly the ferine nature of the latter must break forth.

“You are out about the Third Canto: I have not done, nor designed, a line of continuation to that poem. I was too short a time at Rome for it, and have no thought of recommencing. * * *

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 127

“I cannot well explain to you by letter what I conceive to be the origin of Mrs. Leigh’s notion about ‘Tales of my Landlord;’ but it is some points of the characters of Sir E. Manley and Burley, as well as one or two of the jocular portions, on which it is founded, probably.

“If you have received Dr. Polidori, as well as a parcel of books, and you can be of use to him, be so. I never was much more disgusted with any human production than with the eternal nonsense, and tracasseries, and emptiness, and ill-humour, and vanity of that young person; but he has some talent, and is a man of honour, and has dispositions of amendment in which he has been aided by a little subsequent experience, and may turn out well. Therefore, use your government interest for him, for he is improved and improvable.

“Yours, &c.”
“La Mira, near Venice, June 18th, 1817.

“Inclosed is a letter to Dr. Holland from Pindemonte. Not knowing the doctor’s address, I am desired to inquire, and perhaps, being a literary man, you will know or discover his haunt near some populous churchyard. I have written to you a scolding letter—I believe, upon a misapprehended passage in your letter—but never mind: it will do for next time, and you will surely deserve it. Talking of doctors reminds me once more to recommend to you one who will not recommend himself,—the Doctor Polidori. If you can help him to a publisher, do; or, if you have any sick relation, I would advise his advice: all the patients he had in Italy are dead—Mr. * *’s son, Mr. Horner, and Lord G * *, whom he embowelled with great success at Pisa. * * * *

“Remember me to Moore, whom I congratulate. How is Rogers? and what is become of Campbell and all t’other fellows of the Druid order? I got Maturin’s Bedlam at last, but no other parcel; I am in fits for the tooth-powder, and the magnesia. I want some of Burkitt’s
128 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Soda-powders. Will you tell
Mr. Kinnaird that I have written him two letters on pressing business (about Newstead, &c.), to which I humbly solicit his attendance. I am just returned from a gallop along the banks of the Brenta—time, sunset.

La Mira, near Venice, July 1st, 1817.

“Since my former letter, I have been working up my impressions into a Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, of which I have roughened off about rather better than thirty stanzas, and mean to go on; and probably to make this ‘Fytte’ the concluding one of the poem, so that you may propose against the autumn to draw out the conscription for 1818. You must provide moneys, as this new resumption bodes you certain disbursements. Somewhere about the end of September or October, I propose to be under way (i. e. in the press); but I have no idea yet of the probable length or calibre of the Canto, or what it will be good for; but I mean to be as mercenary as possible, an example (I do not mean of any individual in particular, and least of all any person or persons of our mutual acquaintance) which I should have followed in my youth, and I might still have been a prosperous gentleman.

“No tooth-powder, no letters, no recent tidings of you.

Mr. Lewis is at Venice, and I am going up to stay a week with him there—as it is one of his enthusiasms also to like the city.

“I stood in Venice on the ‘Bridge of Sighs,’ &c. &c.

“The ‘Bridge of Sighs’ (i. e. Ponte de’i Sospiri) is that which divides, or rather joins the palace of the Doge to the prison of the state. It has two passages: the criminal went by the one to judgment, and returned by the other to death, being strangled in a chamber adjoining, where there was a mechanical process for the purpose.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 129

“This is the first stanza of our new Canto; and now for a line of the second:

“In Venice, Tasso’s echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier,
Her palaces, &c. &c.

“You know that formerly the gondoliers sung always, and Tasso’s Gierusalemme as their ballad. Venice is built on seventy-two islands.

“There! there’s a brick of your new Babel! and now, sirrah! what say you to the sample?

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. I shall write again by and by.”

“La Mira, near Venice, July 8th, 1817.

“If you can convey the inclosed letter to its address, or discover the person to whom it is directed, you will confer a favour upon the Venetian creditor of a deceased Englishman. This epistle is a dun to his executor, for house-rent. The name of the insolvent defunct is, or was, Porter Valter, according to the account of the plaintiff, which I rather suspect ought to be Walter Porter, according to our mode of collocation. If you are acquainted with any dead man of the like name a good deal in debt, pray dig him up, and tell him that ‘a pound of his fair flesh’ or the ducats are required and that ‘if you deny them, fie upon your law!’

“I hear nothing more from you about Moore’s poem, Rogers, or other literary phenomena; but tomorrow, being post-day, will bring perhaps some tidings. I write to you with people talking Venetian all about, so that you must not expect this letter to be all English.

“The other day, I had a squabble on the highway as follows: I was riding pretty quickly from Dolo home about eight in the evening, when
130 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
I passed a party of people in a hired carriage, one of whom, poking his head out of the window, began bawling to me in an inarticulate but insolent manner. I wheeled my horse round, and overtaking, stopped the coach, and said, ‘Signor, have you any commands for me?’ He replied, impudently as to manner, ‘No.’ I then asked him what he meant by that unseemly noise, to the discomfiture of the passers-by. He replied by some piece of impertinence, to which I answered by giving him a violent slap in the face. I then dismounted (for this passed at the window, I being on horseback still), and opening the door desired him to walk out, or I would give him another. But the first had settled him except as to words, of which he poured forth a profusion in blasphemies, swearing that he would go to the police and avouch a battery sans provocation. I said he lied, and was a * *, and, if he did not hold his tongue, should be dragged out and beaten anew.—He then held his tongue. I of course told him my name and residence, and defied him to the death, if he were a gentleman, or not a gentleman, and had the inclination to be genteel in the way of combat. He went to the police, but there having been bystanders in the road,—particularly a soldier, who had seen the business,—as well as my servant, notwithstanding the oaths of the coachman and five insides besides the plaintiff, and a good deal of paying on all sides, his complaint was dismissed, he having been the aggressor;—and I was subsequently informed that, had I not given him a blow, he might have been had into durance.

“So set down this,—‘that in Aleppo once’ I ‘beat a Venetian;’ but I assure you that he deserved it, for I am a quiet man, like Candide, though with somewhat of his fortune in being forced to forego my natural meekness every now and then.

“Yours, &c.
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 131
“Venice, July 9th, 1817.

“I have got the sketch and extracts from Lalla Rookh—which I humbly suspect will knock up * *, and show young gentlemen that something more than having been across a camel’s hump is necessary to write a good oriental tale. The plan, as well as the extracts I have seen, please me very much indeed, and I feel impatient for the whole.

“With regard to the critique on ‘Manfred,’ you have been in such a devil of a hurry that you have only sent me the half: it breaks off at page 294. Send me the rest; and also page 270, where there is ‘an account of the supposed origin of this dreadful story,’—in which, by the way, whatever it may be, the conjecturer is out, and knows nothing of the matter. I had a better origin than he can devise or divine, for the soul of him.

“You say nothing of Manfred’s luck in the world; and I care not. He is one of the best of my misbegotten, say what they will.

“I got at last an extract, but no parcels. They will come, I suppose, some time or other. I am come up to Venice for a day or two to bathe, and am just going to take a swim in the Adriatic; so, good evening—the post waits.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. Pray, was Manfred’s speech to the Sun still retained in Act Third? I hope so: it was one of the best in the thing, and better than the Colosseum. I have done fifty-six of Canto Fourth, Childe Harold; so down with your ducats.”

132 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
“La Mira, Venice, July 10th, 1817.

Murray, the Mokanna of booksellers, has contrived to send me extracts from Lalla Rookh by the post. They are taken from some magazine, and contain a short outline and quotations from the two first Poems. I am very much delighted with what is before me, and very thirsty for the rest. You have caught the colours as if you had been in the rainbow, and the tone of the East is perfectly preserved; so that * * * and its author must be somewhat in the back-ground, and learn that it requires something more than to have been upon the hunch of a dromedary to compose a good oriental story. I am glad you have changed the title from ‘Persian Tale.’ * * *

“I suspect you have written a devilish fine composition, and I rejoice in it from my heart; because ‘the Douglas and the Percy both together are confident against a world in arms.’ I hope you won’t be affronted at my looking on us as ‘birds of a feather;’ though on whatever subject you had written, I should have been very happy in your success.

“There is a simile of an orange tree’s ‘flowers and fruits,’ which I should have liked better, if I did not believe it to be a reflection on * * * * * * * *

“Do you remember Thurlow’s poem to Sam—‘When Rogers;’ and that d—d supper of Rancliffe’s that ought to have been a dinner? ‘Ah, Master Shallow, we have heard the chimes at midnight.’—But

“My boat is on the shore,
And my bark is on the sea;
But, before I go, Tom Moore,
Here’s a double health to thee!
“Here’s a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those who hate;
And, whatever sky’s above me,
Here’s a heart for every fate.
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 133
“Though the ocean roar around me,
Yet it still shall bear me on;
Though a desert should surround me,
It hath springs that may be won.
Were’t the last drop in the well,
As I gasp’d upon the brink,
Ere my fainting spirit fell,
’Tis to thee that I would drink.
“With that water, as this wine,
The libation I would pour
Should be—peace with thine and mine,
And a health to thee, Tom Moore.

“This should have been written fifteen moons ago—the first stanza was. I am just come out from an hour’s swim in the Adriatic; and I write to you with a black-eyed Venetian girl before me, reading Boccacio. * * * * *

“Last week I had a row on the road (I came up to Venice from my casino, a few miles on the Paduan road, this blessed day, to bathe) with a fellow in a carriage, who was impudent to my horse. I gave him a swinging box on the ear, which sent him to the police, who dismissed his complaint. Witnesses had seen the transaction. He first shouted, in an unseemly way, to frighten my palfrey. I wheeled round, rode up to the window, and asked him what he meant. He grinned, and said some foolery, which produced him an immediate slap in the face, to his utter discomfiture. Much blasphemy ensued, and some menace, which I stopped by dismounting and opening the carnage door, and intimating an intention of mending the road with his immediate remains, if he did not hold his tongue. He held it.

Monk Lewis is here—‘how pleasant*!’ He is a very good fellow,

* An allusion (such as often occurs in these letters) to an anecdote with which he had been amused.

134 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
and very much yours. So is
Sam—so is every body—and, amongst the number,

“Yours ever,

“P.S. What think you of Manfred?” * * * * *

“La Mira, near Venice, July 15th. 1817.

“I have finished (that is, written—the file comes afterwards) ninety and eight stanzas of the Fourth Canto, which I mean to be the concluding one. It will probably be about the same length as the Third, being already of the dimensions of the first or second Cantos. I look upon parts of it as very good, that is, if the three former are good, but this we shall see; and at any rate, good or not, it is rather a different style from the last—less metaphysical—which, at any rate, will be a variety. I sent you the shaft of the column as a specimen the other day, i. e. the first stanza. So you may be thinking of its arrival towards autumn, whose winds will not be the only ones to be raised, if so be as how that it is ready by that time.

“I lent Lewis, who is at Venice (in or on the Canalaccio, the Grand Canal), your extracts from Lalla Rookh and Manuel*, and, out of contradiction, it may be, he likes the last, and is not much taken with the first, of these performances. Of Manuel, I think, with the exception of a few capers, it is as heavy a nightmare as was ever bestrode by indigestion.

* A tragedy, by the Rev. Mr. Maturin.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 135

“Of the extracts I can but judge as extracts, and I prefer the ‘Peri’ to the ‘Silver Veil.’ He seems not so much at home in his versification of the ‘Silver Veil,’ and a little embarrassed with his horrors; but the conception of the character of the impostor is fine, and the plan of great scope for his genius,—and I doubt not that, as a whole, it will be very Arabesque and beautiful.

“Your late epistle is not the most abundant in information, and has not yet been succeeded by any other; so that I know nothing of your own concerns, or of any concerns, and as I never hear from any body but yourself who does not tell me something—as disagreeable as possible, I should not be sorry to hear from you: and as it is not very probable,—if I can, by any device or possible arrangement with regard to my personal affairs, so arrange it,—that I shall return soon, or reside ever in England, all that you tell me will be all I shall know or inquire after, as to our beloved realm of Grub-street, and the black brethren and blue sisterhood of that extensive suburb of Babylon. Have you had no new babe of literature sprung up to replace the dead, the distant, the tired, and the retired? no prose, no verse, no nothing?

* * * * * *
“Venice, July 20th, 1817.

“I write to give you notice that I have completed the fourth and ultimate Canto of Childe Harold. It consists of 126 stanzas, and is consequently the longest of the four. It is yet to be copied and polished; and the notes are to come, of which it will require more than the third Canto, as it necessarily treats more of works of art than of nature. It shall be sent towards autumn;—and now for our barter. What do you bid? eh? you shall have samples, an’ it so please you: but I wish to know what I am to expect (as the saying is) in these hard times, when
136 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
poetry does not let for half its value. If you are disposed to do what Mrs. Winifred Jenkins calls ‘the handsome thing,’ I may perhaps throw you some odd matters to the lot,—translations, or slight originals; there is no saying what may be on the anvil between this and the booking season. Recollect that it is the last Canto, and completes the work; whether as good as the others, I cannot judge, in course—least of all as yet,—but it shall be as little worse as I can help. I may, perhaps, give some little gossip in the notes as to the present state of Italian literati and literature, being acquainted with some of their capi—men as well as books;—but this depends upon my humour at the time. So, now, pronounce: I say nothing.

“When you have got the whole four Cantos, I think you might venture on an edition of the whole poem in quarto, with spare copies of the two last for the purchasers of the old edition of the first two. There is a hint for you, worthy of the Row; and now, perpend—pronounce.

“I have not received a word from you of the fate of ‘Manfred’ or ‘Tasso,’ which seems to me odd, whether they have failed or succeeded.

“As this is a scrawl of business, and I have lately written at length and often on other subjects, I will only add that I am, &c.”

“La Mira, near Venice, August 7th, 1817.

“Your letter of the 18th, and, what will please you, as it did me, the parcel sent by the good-natured aid and abetment of Mr. Croker, are arrived.—Messrs. Lewis and Hobhouse are here: the former in the same house; the latter a few hundred yards distant.

“You say nothing of Manfred, from which its failure may be inferred; but I think it odd you should not say so at once. I know nothing, and hear absolutely nothing, of any body or any thing in
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 137
England; and there are no English papers, so that all you say will be news—of any person, or thing, or things. I am at present very anxious about Newstead, and sorry that
Kinnaird is leaving England at this minute, though I do not tell him so, and would rather he should have his pleasure, although it may not in this instance tend to my profit.

“If I understand rightly, you have paid into Morland’s 1500 pounds: as the agreement in the paper is two thousand guineas, there will remain therefore six hundred pounds, and not five hundred, the odd hundred being the extra to make up the specie. Six hundred and thirty pounds will bring it to the like for Manfred and Tasso, making a total of twelve hundred and thirty, I believe, for I am not a good calculator. I do not wish to press you, but I tell you fairly that it will be a convenience to me to have it paid as soon as it can be made convenient to yourself.

“The new and last Canto is 130 stanzas in length; and may be made more or less. I have fixed no price, even in idea, and have no notion of what it may be good for. There are no metaphysics in it; at least, I think not. Mr. Hobhouse has promised me a copy of Tasso’s Will, for notes; and I have some curious things to say about Ferrara, and Parisina’s story, and perhaps a farthing candle’s worth of light upon the present state of Italian literature. I shall hardly be ready by October; but that don’t matter. I have all to copy and correct, and the notes to write.

“I do not know whether Scott will like it; but I have called him the ‘Ariosto of the North’ in my text. If he should not, say so in time.

“An Italian translation of ‘Glenarvon’ came lately to be printed at Venice. The censor (Sr. Petrotini) refused to sanction the publication till he had seen me on the subject. I told him that I did not recognize the slightest relation between that book and myself; but that, whatever opinions might be upon that subject, I would never prevent or oppose the publication of any book, in any language, on my own private account; and desired him (against his inclination) to permit the poor
138 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
translator to publish his labours. It is going forwards in consequence. You may say this, with my compliments,—to the author.

“Venice, August 12th, 1817.

“I have been very sorry to hear of the death of Madame de Staël, not only because she had been very kind to me at Copet, but because now I can never requite her. In a general point of view, she will leave a great gap in society and literature.

“With regard to death, I doubt that we have any right to pity the dead for their own sakes.

“The copies of Manfred and Tasso are arrived, thanks to Mr. Croker’s cover. You have destroyed the whole effect and moral of the poem by omitting the last line of Manfred’s speaking; and why this was done, I know not. Why you persist in saying nothing of the thing itself, I am equally at a loss to conjecture. If it is for fear of telling me something disagreeable, you are wrong; because sooner or later I must know it, and I am not so new, nor so raw, nor so inexperienced, as not to be able to bear, not the mere paltry, petty disappointments of authorship, but things more serious,—at least I hope so, and that what you may think irritability is merely mechanical, and only acts like galvanism on a dead body, or the muscular motion which survives sensation.

“If it is that you are out of humour, because I wrote to you a sharp letter, recollect that it was partly from a misconception of your letter, and partly because you did a thing you had no right to do without consulting me.

“I have, however, heard good of Manfred from two other quarters, and from men who would not be scrupulous in saying what they thought, or what was said; and so ‘good morrow to you, good Master Lieutenant.’

“I wrote to you twice about the 4th Canto, which you will answer
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 139
at your pleasure.
Mr. Hobhouse and I have come up for a day to the city; Mr. Lewis is gone to England; and I am

“La Mira, near Venice, August 21st, 1817.

“I take you at your word about Mr. Hanson, and will feel obliged if you will go to him, and request Mr. Davies also to visit him by my desire, and repeat that I trust that neither Mr. Kinnaird’s absence nor mine will prevent his taking all proper steps to accelerate and promote the sale of Newstead and Rochdale, upon which the whole of my future personal comfort depends. It is impossible for me to express how much any delays upon these points would inconvenience me; and I do not know a greater obligation that can be conferred upon me than the pressing these things upon Hanson, and making him act according to my wishes. I wish you would speak out, at least to me, and tell me what you allude to by your cold way of mentioning him. All mysteries at such a distance are not merely tormenting but mischievous, and may be prejudicial to my interests; so, pray expound, that I may consult with Mr. Kinnaird when he arrives; and remember that I prefer the most disagreeable certainties to hints and innuendoes. The devil take every body: I never can get any person to be explicit about any thing or any body, and my whole life is passed in conjectures of what people mean: you all talk in the style of C * * L * *’s novels.

“It is not Mr. St. John, but Mr. St. Aubyn, son of Sir John St. Aubyn. Polidori knows him, and introduced him to me. He is of Oxford, and has got my parcel. The doctor will ferret him out, or ought. The parcel contains many letters, some of Madame de Staël’s, and other people’s, besides MSS., &c. By ——, if I find the gentleman, and he don’t find the parcel, I will say something he won’t like to hear.

“You want a ‘civil and delicate declension’ for the medical tragedy? Take it—

“Dear Doctor, I have read your play,
Which is a good one in its way,—
140 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Purges the eyes and moves the bowels,
And drenches handkerchiefs like towels
With tears, that, in a flux of grief,
Afford hysterical relief
To shatter’d nerves and quicken’d pulses,
Which your catastrophe convulses.
“I like your moral and machinery;
Your plot, too, has such scope for scenery!
Your dialogue is apt and smart;
The play’s concoction full of art;
Your hero raves, your heroine cries,
All stab, and every body dies.
In short, your tragedy would be
The very thing to hear and see:
And for a piece of publication,
If I decline on this occasion,
It is not that I am not sensible
To merits in themselves ostensible,
But—and I grieve to speak it—plays
Are drugs—mere drugs, sir—now-a-days.
I had a heavy loss by ‘Manuel,’—
Too lucky if it prove not annual,—
And S * *, with his ‘Orestes,’
(Which, by the by, the author’s best is,)
Has lain so very long on hand
That I despair of all demand.
I’ve advertised, but see my books,
Or only watch my shopman’s looks;—
Still Ivan, Ina, and such lumber,
My back-shop glut, my shelves encumber.
“There’s Byron too, who once did better,
Has sent me, folded in a letter,
A sort of—it’s no more a drama
Than Darnley, Ivan, or Kehama;
So alter’d since last year his pen is,
I think he’s lost his wits at Venice.
* * * * * *
In short, sir, what with one and t’other,
I dare not venture on another.
I write in haste; excuse each blunder;
The coaches through the street so thunder!
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 141
My room’s so full—we’ve Gifford here
Reading MS., with Hookham Frere,
Pronouncing on the nouns and particles
Of some of our forthcoming Articles.
“The Quarterly—Ah, sir, if you
Had but the genius to review!—
A smart critique upon St. Helena,
Or if you only would but tell in a
Short compass what—but, to resume:
As I was saying, sir, the room—
The room’s so full of wits and bards,
Crabbes, Campbells, Crokers, Freres, and Wards,
And others, neither bards nor wits:—
My humble tenement admits
All persons in the dress of gent.,
“A party dines with me to-day,
All clever men, who make their way;
They’re at this moment in discussion
On poor De Staël’s late dissolution.
Her book, they say, was in advance—
Pray Heaven, she tell the truth of France!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
“Thus run our time and tongues away.—
But, to return, sir, to your play:
Sorry, sir, but I can not deal,
Unless ’twere acted by O’Neill.
My hands so full, my head so busy,
I’m almost dead, and always dizzy;
And so, with endless truth and hurry,
Dear Doctor, I am yours,

“P.S. I’ve done the fourth and last Canto, which amounts to 133 stanzas. I desire you to name a price; if you don’t, I will; so I advise you in time.

“Yours, &c.

“There will be a good many notes.”

142 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.

Among those minor misrepresentations of which it was Lord Byron’s fate to be the victim, advantage was, at this time, taken of his professed distaste to the English, to accuse him of acts of inhospitality, and even rudeness, towards some of his fellow-countrymen. How far different was his treatment of all who ever visited him, many grateful testimonies might be collected to prove; but I shall here content myself with selecting a few extracts from an account given me by Mr. Henry Joy of a visit which, in company with another English gentleman, he paid to the noble poet this summer, at his villa on the banks of the Brenta. After mentioning the various civilities they had experienced from Lord Byron, and, among others, his having requested them to name their own day for dining with him,—“We availed ourselves,” says Mr. Joy, “of this considerate courtesy by naming the day fixed for our return to Padua, when our route would lead us to his door; and we were welcomed with all the cordiality which was to be expected from so friendly a bidding. Such traits of kindness in such a man deserve to be recorded on account of the numerous slanders thrown upon him by some of the tribes of tourists, who resented as a personal affront his resolution to avoid their impertinent inroads upon his retirement. So far from any appearance of indiscriminate aversion to his countrymen, his inquiries about his friends in England (quorum pars magna fuisti) were most anxious and particular.

* * * * * *

“He expressed some opinions,” continues my informant, “on matters of taste, which cannot fail to interest his biographer. He contended that Sculpture, as an art, was vastly superior to Painting;—a preference which is strikingly illustrated by the fact that, in the fourth Canto of Childe Harold, he gives the most elaborate and splendid account of several statues, and none of any pictures; although Italy is, emphatically, the land of Painting, and her best statues are derived from Greece. By the way, he told us that there were more objects of interest in Rome alone than in all Greece from one extremity to the other. * * * * After regaling us with an excellent dinner (in which, by the by, a very English joint of roast beef showed that he did not extend his antipathies to all John-Bullisms), he took me in his carriage some miles of our route towards Padua, after apologizing to my fellow-traveller
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 143
for the separation, on the score of his anxiety to hear all he could of his friends in England; and I quitted him with a confirmed impression of the strong ardour and sincerity of his attachment to those by whom he did not fancy himself slighted or ill-treated.”

“Sept. 4th, 1817.

“Your letter of the 15th has conveyed with its contents the impression of a seal, to which the ‘Saracen’s Head’ is a seraph, and the ‘Bull and Mouth’ a delicate device. I knew that calumny had sufficiently blackened me of later days, but not that it had given the features as well as complexion of a negro. Poor Augusta is not less, but rather more, shocked than myself, and says ‘people seem to have lost their recollection strangely’ when they engraved such a ‘blackamoor.’ Pray don’t seal (at least to me) with such a caricature of the human numskull altogether; and if you don’t break the seal-cutter’s head, at least crack his libel (or likeness, if it should be a likeness) of mine.

Mr. Kinnaird is not yet arrived, but expected. He has lost by the way all the tooth-powder, as a letter from Spa informs me.

“By Mr. Rose I received safely, though tardily, magnesia and tooth-powder, and * * * * Why do you send me such trash—worse than trash, the Sublime of Mediocrity? Thanks for Lalla, however, which is good; and thanks for the Edinburgh and Quarterly, both very amusing and well-written. Paris in 1815, &c.—good. Modern Greece—good for nothing; written by some one who has never been there, and not being able to manage the Spenser stanza, has invented a thing of its own, consisting of two elegiac stanzas, a heroic line, and an Alexandrine, twisted on a string. Besides, why ‘modern?’ You may say modern Greeks, but surely Greece itself is rather more ancient than ever it was.—Now for business.

“You offer 1500 guineas for the new Canto: I won’t take it. I ask two thousand five hundred guineas for it, which you will either give or not, as you think proper. It concludes the poem, and consists of 144
144 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
stanzas. The notes are numerous, and chiefly written by
Mr. Hobhouse, whose researches have been indefatigable, and who, I will venture to say, has more real knowledge of Rome and its environs than any Englishman who has been there since Gibbon. By the way, to prevent any mistakes, I think it necessary to state the fact that he, Mr. Hobhouse, has no interest whatever in the price or profit to be derived from the copyright of either poem or notes directly or indirectly; so that you are not to suppose that it is by, for, or through him, that I require more for this Canto than the preceding.—No: but if Mr. Eustace was to have had two thousand for a poem on Education; if Mr. Moore is to have three thousand for Lalla &c.; if Mr. Campbell is to have three thousand for his prose on poetry—I don’t mean to disparage these gentlemen in their labours—but I ask the aforesaid price for mine. You will tell me that their productions are considerably longer: very true, and when they shorten them, I will lengthen mine, and ask less. You shall submit the MS. to Mr. Gifford, and any other two gentlemen to be named by you (Mr. Frere, or Mr. Croker, or whomever you please, except such fellows as your * *s and * *s), and if they pronounce this Canto to be inferior as a whole to the preceding, I will not appeal from their award, but burn the manuscript, and leave things as they are.

“Yours very truly.

“P.S. In answer to a former letter, I sent you a short statement of what I thought the state of our present copyright account, viz., six hundred pounds still (or lately) due on Childe Harold, and six hundred guineas, Manfred and Tasso, making a total of twelve hundred and thirty pounds. If we agree about the new poem, I shall take the liberty to reserve the choice of the manner in which it should be published, viz. a quarto, certes.” * * * * * * * * *

“La Mira, Sept. 12th, 1817.

“I set out yesterday morning with the intention of paying my respects, and availing myself of your permission to walk over the
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 145
premises*. On arriving at Padua, I found that the march of the Austrian troops had engrossed so many horses†, that those I could procure were hardly able to crawl; and their weakness, together with the prospect of finding none at all at the post-house of Monselice, and consequently either not arriving that day at Este, or so late as to be unable to return home the same evening, induced me to turn aside in a second visit to Arqua, instead of proceeding onwards; and even thus I hardly got back in time.

“Next week I shall be obliged to be in Venice to meet Lord Kinnaird and his brother, who are expected in a few days. And this interruption, together with that occasioned by the continued march of the Austrians for the next few days, will not allow me to fix any precise period for availing myself of your kindness, though I should wish to take the earliest opportunity. Perhaps, if absent, you will have the goodness to permit one of your servants to show me the grounds and house, or as much of either as may be convenient; at any rate, I shall take the first occasion possible to go over, and regret very much that I was yesterday prevented.

“I have the honour to be your obliged, &c.”

* A country-house on the Euganean hills, near Este, which Mr. Hoppner, who was then the English Consul-General at Venice, had for some time occupied, and which Lord Byron afterwards rented of him, but never resided in it.

† So great was the demand for horses, on the line of march of the Austrians, that all those belonging to private individuals were put in requisition for their use, and Lord Byron himself received an order to send his for the same purpose. This, however, he positively refused to do, adding, that if an attempt were made to take them by force, he would shoot them through the head in the middle of the road, rather than submit to such an act of tyranny upon a foreigner who was merely a temporary resident in the country. Whether his answer was ever reported to the higher authorities I know not; but his horses were suffered to remain unmolested in his stables.

146 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Sept. 15th, 1817.

“I enclose a sheet for correction, if ever you get to another edition. You will observe that the blunder in printing makes it appear as if the Chateau was over St. Gingo, instead of being on the opposite shore of the Lake, over Clarens. So, separate the paragraphs, otherwise my topography will seem as inaccurate as your typography on this occasion.

“The other day I wrote to convey my proposition with regard to the fourth and concluding Canto. I have gone over and extended it to one hundred and fifty stanzas, which is almost as long as the two first were originally, and longer by itself than any of the smaller poems except the ‘Corsair.’ Mr. Hobhouse has made some very valuable and accurate notes of considerable length, and you may be sure that I will do for the text all that I can to finish with decency. I look upon Childe Harold as my best; and as I begun, I think of concluding with it. But I make no resolutions on that head, as I broke my former intention with regard to the ‘Corsair.’ However, I fear that I shall never do better; and yet, not being thirty years of age, for some moons to come, one ought to be progressive as far as intellect goes for many a good year. But I have had a devilish deal of tear and wear of mind and body in my time, besides having published too often and much already. God grant me some judgment to do what may be most fitting in that and every thing else, for I doubt my own exceedingly.

“I have read ‘Lalla Rookh,’ but not with sufficient attention yet, for I ride about, and lounge, and ponder, and—two or three other things; so that my reading is very desultory, and not so attentive as it used to be. I am very glad to hear of its popularity, for Moore is a very noble fellow in all respects, and will enjoy it without any of the bad feelings which success—good or evil—sometimes engenders in the men of rhyme. Of the Poem itself, I will tell you my opinion when I have mastered it: I say of the Poem, for I don’t like the prose at all, at
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 147
all; and in the meantime, the ‘
Fire-worshippers’ is the best, and the ‘Veiled Prophet’ the worst, of the volume.

“With regard to poetry in general*, I am convinced, the more I think of it, that he and all of us—Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Moore, Campbell, I,—are all in the wrong, one as much as another; that we are upon a wrong revolutionary poetical system, or systems, not worth a damn in itself, and from which none but Rogers and Crabbe are free; and that the present and next generations will finally be of this opinion. I am the more confirmed in this by having lately gone over some of our classics, particularly Pope, whom I tried in this way:—I took Moore’s poems and my own and some others, and went over them side by side with Pope’s, and I was really astonished (I ought not to have been so) and mortified at the ineffable distance in point of sense, learning, effect, and even imagination, passion, and invention, between the little Queen Anne’s man, and us of the Lower Empire. Depend upon it, it is all Horace then, and Claudian now, among us; and if I had to begin again, I would mould myself accordingly. Crabbe’s the man, but he has got a coarse and impracticable subject, and * * * is retired upon half-pay, and has done enough, unless he were to do as he did formerly.”

“September 17th, 1817.
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *

Mr. Hobhouse purposes being in England in November; he will bring the Fourth Canto with him, notes and all; the text contains one hundred and fifty stanzas, which is long for that measure.

“With regard to the ‘Ariosto of the North,’ surely their themes, chivalry, war, and love, were as like as can be; and as to the compliment, if you knew what the Italians think of Ariosto, you would not hesitate

* On this paragraph, in the MS. copy of the above letter, I find the following note, in the handwriting of Mr. Gifford: “There is more good sense, and feeling, and judgment in this passage, than in any other I ever read, or Lord Byron wrote.”

148 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
about that. But as to their ‘measures,’ you forget that Ariosto’s is an octave stanza, and
Scott’s any thing but a stanza. If you think Scott will dislike it, say so, and I will expunge. I do not call him the ‘Scotch Ariosto,’ which would be sad provincial eulogy, but the ‘Ariosto of the North,’ meaning of all countries that are not the South.

* * * * * *

As I have recently troubled you rather frequently, I will conclude, repeating that I am

“Yours ever, &c.”
“October 12th, 1817.

Mr. Kinnaird and his brother, Lord Kinnaird, have been here, and are now gone again. All your missives came, except the tooth-powder, of which I request further supplies, at all convenient opportunities; as also of magnesia and soda-powders, both great luxuries here, and neither to be had good, or indeed hardly at all of the natives.

* * * * * *

“In * *’s Life, I perceive an attack upon the then Committee of D. L. Theatre for acting Bertram, and an attack upon Maturin’s Bertram for being acted. Considering all things, this is not very grateful nor graceful on the part of the worthy autobiographer; and I would answer, if I had not obliged him. Putting my own pains to forward the views of * * out of the question, I know that there was every disposition, on the part of the Sub-Committee, to bring forward any production of his, were it feasible. The play he offered, though poetical, did not appear at all practicable, and Bertram did;—and hence this long tirade, which is the last chapter of his vagabond life.

“As for Bertram, Maturin may defend his own begotten, if he likes it well enough; I leave the Irish clergyman and the new orator Henley to battle it out between them, satisfied to have done the best I could for both. I may say this to you, who know it.

* * * * * *
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 149

Mr. * * may console himself with the fervour,—the almost religious fervour of his and W * *’s disciples, as he calls it. If he means that as any proof of their merits, I will find him as much ‘fervour’ in behalf of Richard Brothers and Joanna Southcote as ever gathered over his pages or round his fireside. * * * * *

“My answer to your proposition about the Fourth Canto you will have received, and I await yours;—perhaps we may not agree. I have since written a Poem (of 84 octave stanzas), humorous, in or after the excellent manner of Mr. Whistlecraft (whom I take to be Frere), on a Venetian anecdote which amused me:—but till I have your answer, I can say nothing more about it.

Mr. Hobhouse does not return to England in November, as he intended, but will winter here; and as he is to convey the poem, or poems,—for there may perhaps be more than the two mentioned (which, by the way, I shall not perhaps include in the same publication or agreement), I shall not be able to publish so soon as expected; but I suppose there is no harm in the delay.

“I have signed and sent your former copyrights by Mr. Kinnaird, but not the receipt, because the money is not yet paid. Mr. Kinnaird has a power of attorney to sign for me, and will, when necessary.

“Many thanks for the Edinburgh Review, which is very kind about Manfred, and defends its originality, which I did not know that any body had attacked. I never read, and do not know that I ever saw, the ‘Faustus of Marlow,’ and had, and have, no dramatic works by me in English, except the recent things you sent me; but I heard Mr. Lewis translate verbally some scenes of Goethe’s Faust (which were, some good, and some bad) last summer;—which is all I know of the history of that magical personage; and as to the germs of Manfred, they may be found in the Journal which I sent to Mrs. Leigh (part of which you saw) when I went over first the Dent de Jaman, and then the Wengen or Wengeberg Alp and Sheideck, and made the giro of the Jungfrau, Shreckhorn, &c. &c. shortly before I left Switzerland. I have the whole scene of Manfred before me as if it was but yesterday, and could point it out, spot by spot, torrent and all.

“Of the Prometheus of Æschylus I was passionately fond as a boy
150 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
(it was one of the Greek plays we read thrice a year at Harrow);—indeed that and the ‘
Medea’ were the only ones, except the ‘Seven before Thebes,’ which ever much pleased me. As to the ‘Faustus of Marlow,’ I never read, never saw, nor heard of it—at least, thought of it, except that I think Mr. Gifford mentioned, in a note of his which you sent me, something about the catastrophe; but not as having any thing to do with mine, which may or may not resemble it, for any thing I know.

“The Prometheus, if not exactly in my plan, has always been so much in my head, that I can easily conceive its influence over all or any thing that I have written;—but I deny Marlow and his progeny, and beg that you will do the same.

“If you can send me the paper in question*, which the Edinburgh Review mentions, do. The review in the magazine you say was written by Wilson? it had all the air of being a poet’s, and was a very good one. The Edinburgh Review I take to be Jeffrey’s own by its friendliness. I wonder they thought it worth while to do so, so soon after the former; but it was evidently with a good motive.

“I saw Hoppner the other day, whose country-house at Este I have taken for two years. If you come out next summer, let me know in time. Love to Gifford.

“Yours ever truly.
Are all partakers of my pantry.

These two lines are omitted in your letter to the doctor, after—

“All clever men who make their way.”

* A paper in the Edinburgh Magazine, in which it was suggested that the general conception of Manfred, and much of what is excellent in the manner of its execution, had been borrowed from “the Tragical History of Dr. Fastus,” of Marlow.

A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 151
“Venice, October 23d, 1817.

“Your two letters are before me, and our bargain is so far concluded. How sorry I am to hear that Gifford is unwell! Pray tell me he is better; I hope it is nothing but cold. As you say his illness originates in cold, I trust it will get no further.

Mr. Whistlecraft has no greater admirer than myself: I have written a story in 89 stanzas, in imitation of him, called Beppo (the short name for Giuseppe, that is, the Joe of the Italian Joseph), which I shall throw you into the balance of the Fourth Canto, to help you round to your money; but you perhaps had better publish it anonymously; but this we will see to by and by.

“In the Notes to Canto Fourth, Mr. Hobhouse has pointed out several errors of Gibbon. You may depend upon H.’s research and accuracy. You may print it in what shape you please.

“With regard to a future large Edition, you may print all, or any thing, except ‘English Bards,’ to the republication of which at no time will I consent. I would not reprint them on any consideration. I don’t think them good for much, even in point of poetry; and, as to other things, you are to recollect that I gave up the publication on account of the Hollands, and I do not think that any time or circumstances can neutralize the suppression. Add to which, that, after being on terms with almost all the bards and critics of the day, it would be savage at any time, but worst of all now, to revive this foolish Lampoon.

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

The review of Manfred came very safely, and I am much pleased with it. It is odd that they should say (that is, somebody in a magazine whom the Edinburgh controverts) that it was taken from Marlow’s Faust, which I never read nor saw. An American, who came the other day from Germany, told Mr. Hobhouse that Manfred was
152 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
taken from
Goethe’s Faust. The devil may take both the Faustuses, German and English—I have taken neither.

“Will you send to Hanson, and say that he has not written since 9th September?—at least I have had no letter since, to my great surprise.

“Will you desire Messrs. Morland to send out whatever additional sums have or may be paid in credit immediately, and always, to their Venice correspondents? It is two months ago that they sent me out an additional credit for one thousand pounds. I was very glad of it, but I don’t know how the devil it came; for I can only make out 500 of Hanson’s payment, and I had thought the other 500 came from you; but it did not, it seems, as, by yours of the 7th instant, you have only just paid the £1230 balance.

Mr. Kinnaird is on his way home with the assignments. I can fix no time for the arrival of Canto Fourth, which depends on the journey of Mr. Hobhouse home; and I do not think that this will be immediate.

“Yours in great haste and very truly,

“P.S. Morlands have not yet written to my bankers apprizing the payment of your balances: pray desire them to do so.

“Ask them about the previous thousand—of which I know 500 came from Hanson’s—and make out the other 500—that is, whence it came.”

“Venice, November 15th, 1817.

Mr. Kinnaird has probably returned to England by this time, and will have conveyed to you any tidings you may wish to have of us and ours. I have come back to Venice for the winter. Mr. Hobhouse will probably set off in December, but what day or week, I know not. He is my opposite neighbour at present.

“I wrote yesterday in some perplexity, and no very good humour,
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 153
Mr. Kinnaird, to inform me about Newstead and the Hansons, of which and whom I hear nothing since his departure from this place, except in a few unintelligible words from an unintelligible woman.

“I am as sorry to hear of Dr. Polidori’s accident as one can be for a person for whom one has a dislike, and something of contempt. When he gets well, tell me, and how he gets on in the sick line. Poor fellow! how came he to fix there?

“I fear the Doctor’s skill at Norwich
Will hardly salt the Doctor’s porridge.

Methought he was going to the Brazils to give the Portuguese physic (of which they are fond to desperation) with the Danish consul.

* * * * * *

“Your new Canto has expanded to one hundred and sixty-seven stanzas. It will be long, you see; and as for the notes by Hobhouse, I suspect they will be of the heroic size. You must keep Mr. * * in good-humour, for he is devilish touchy yet about your Review and all which it inherits, including the editor, the Admiralty, and its bookseller. I used to think that I was a good deal of an author in amour propre and noli me tangere; but these prose fellows are worst, after all, about their little comforts.

“Do you remember my mentioning, some months ago, the Marquis Moncada—a Spaniard of distinction and fourscore years, my summer neighbour at La Mira? Well, about six weeks ago, he fell in love with a Venetian girl of family, and no fortune or character; took her into his mansion; quarrelled with all his former friends for giving him advice (except me who gave him none), and installed her present concubine and future wife and mistress of himself and furniture. At the end of a month, in which she demeaned herself as ill as possible, he found out a correspondence between her and some former keeper, and after nearly strangling, turned her out of the house, to the great scandal of the keeping part of the town, and with a prodigious éclat, which has occupied all the canals and coffee-houses in Venice. He said she wanted to poison him; and she says—God knows what; but between them they have made a great deal of noise. I know a little of both the parties:
154 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
Moncada seemed a very sensible old man, a character which he has not quite kept up on this occasion; and the woman is rather showy than pretty. For the honour of religion, she was bred in a convent, and for the credit of Great Britain, taught by an Englishwoman.

“Yours, &c.”
“Venice, December 3d, 1817.

“A Venetian lady, learned and somewhat stricken in years, having, in her intervals of love and devotion, taken upon her to translate the Letters and write the Life of Lady Mary Wortley Montague,—to which undertaking there are two obstacles, firstly, ignorance of English, and, secondly, a total dearth of information on the subject of her projected biography,—has applied to me for facts or falsities upon this promising project. Lady Montague lived the last twenty or more years of her life in or near Venice, I believe; but here they know nothing, and remember nothing, for the story of to-day is succeeded by the scandal of to-morrow; and the wit, and beauty, and gallantry, which might render your countrywoman notorious in her own country, must have been here no great distinction—because the first is in no request, and the two latter are common to all women, or at least the last of them. If you can therefore tell me any thing, or get any thing told, of Lady Wortley Montague, I shall take it as a favour, and will transfer and translate it to the ‘Dama’ in question. And I pray you besides to send me, by some quick and safe voyager, the edition of her Letters, and the stupid Life, by Dr. Dallaway, published by her proud and foolish family.

“The death of the Princess Charlotte has been a shock even here, and must have been an earthquake at home. The Courier’s list of some three hundred heirs to the crown (including the house of Wirtemberg, with that * * *, P——, of disreputable memory, whom I remember seeing at various balls during the visit of the Muscovites, &c. in 1814) must be very consolatory to all true lieges, as well as foreigners, except Signor Travis, a rich Jew merchant of this city, who complains grievously of the length of British mourning, which has countermanded all the silks
A. D. 1817. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 155
which he was on the point of transmitting, for a year to come. The death of this poor girl is melancholy in every respect, dying at twenty or so, in childbed—of a boy too, a present princess and future queen, and just as she began to be happy, and to enjoy herself and the hopes which she inspired. * * * * * *

“I think, as far as I can recollect, she is the first royal defunct in childbed upon record in our history. I feel sorry in every respect—for the loss of a female reign, and a woman hitherto harmless; and all the lost rejoicings, and addresses, and drunkenness, and disbursements, of John Bull on the occasion. * * * * * *

“The Prince will marry again, after divorcing his wife, and Mr. Southey will write an elegy now, and an ode then; the Quarterly will have an article against the press, and the Edinburgh an article, half and half, about reform and right of divorce; * * * * the British will give you Dr. Chalmers’s funeral sermon much commended, with a place in the stars for deceased royalty; and the Morning Post will have already yelled forth its ‘syllables of dolour.’

‘Woe, woe, Nealliny!—the young Nealliny!’

“It is some time since I have heard from you: are you in bad humour? I suppose so. I have been so myself, and it in your turn now, and by and by mine will come round again.

“Yours truly,

“P.S. Countess Albrizzi, come back from Paris, has brought me a medal of himself, a present from Denon to me, and a likeness of Mr. Rogers (belonging to her), by Denon also.”

“Venice, December 15th, 1817.

“I should have thanked you before, for your favour a few days ago, had I not been in the intention of paying my respects, personally, this evening, from which I am deterred by the recollection that you will
156 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1817.
probably be at the
Count Goess’s this evening, which has made me postpone my intrusion.

“I think your Elegy a remarkably good one, not only as a composition, but both the politics and poetry contain a far greater portion of truth and generosity than belongs to the times, or to the professors of these opposite pursuits, which usually agree only in one point, as extremes meet. I do not know whether you wished me to retain the copy, but I shall retain it till you tell me otherwise; and am very much obliged by the perusal.

“My own sentiments on Venice, &c. such as they are, I had already thrown into verse last summer, in the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, now in preparation for the press; and I think much more highly of them, for being in coincidence with yours.

“Believe me yours, &c.”