LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 14 June 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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“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.