LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Life of Byron: 1819

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, January 20th, 1819.
* * * * *

“The opinions which I have asked of Mr. H. and others were with regard to the poetical merit, and not as to what they may think due to the cant of the day, which still reads the Bath Guide, Little’s Poems, Prior, and Chaucer, to say nothing of Fielding and Smollet. If published, publish entire, with the above-mentioned exceptions; or you may publish anonymously, or not at all. In the latter event, print 50 on my account, for private distribution.

“Yours, &c.

“I have written to Messrs. K. and H. to desire that they will not erase more than I have stated.

“The Second Canto of Don Juan is finished in 206 stanzas.”

“Venice, January 25th, 1819.

“You will do me the favour to print privately (for private distribution) fifty copies of ‘Don Juan.’ The list of the men to whom I wish it to be presented, I will send hereafter. The other two poems had best be added to the collective edition: I do not approve of their being published separately. Print Don Juan entire, omitting, of course,
202 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
the lines on
Castlereagh, as I am not on the spot to meet him. I have a Second Canto ready, which will be sent by and by. By this post, I have written to Mr. Hobhouse, addressed to your care.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. I have acquiesced in the request and representation; and having done so, it is idle to detail my arguments in favour of my own self-love and ‘Poeshie;’ but I protest. If the poem has poetry, it would stand; if not, fall; the rest is ‘leather and prunello,’ and has never yet affected any human production ‘pro or con.’ Dulness is the only annihilator in such cases. As to the cant of the day, I despise it, as I have ever done all its other finical fashions, which become you as paint became the ancient Britons. If you admit this prudery, you must omit half Ariosto, La Fontaine, Shakspeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger, Ford, all the Charles Second writers; in short, something of most who have written before Pope and are worth reading, and much of Pope himself, Read him—most of you don’t—but do—and I will forgive you; though the inevitable consequence would be that you would burn all I have ever written, and all your other wretched Claudians of the day (except Scott and Crabbe) into the bargain. I wrong Claudian, who was a poet, by naming him with such fellows; hut he was the ‘ultimus Romanorum,’ the tail of the comet, and these persons are the tail of an old gown cut into a waistcoat for Jackey; but being both tails, I have compared the one with the other, though very unlike, like all similes. I write in a passion and a sirocco, and I was up till six this morning at the Carnival: but I protest, as I did in my former letter.”

“Venice, February 1st, 1819.

“After one of the concluding stanzas of the First Canto of ‘Don Juan,’ which ends with (I forget the number)—
“To have, . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . when the original is dust,
A book, a d—d bad picture, and worse bust,
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 203
insert the following stanza:—
“What are the hopes of man, &c.

“I have written to you several letters, some with additions, and some upon the subject of the poem itself, which my cursed puritanical committee have protested against publishing. But we will circumvent them on that point. I have not yet begun to copy out the Second Canto, which is finished, from natural laziness, and the discouragement of the milk and water they have thrown upon the First. I say all this to them as to you, that is, for you to say to them, for I will have nothing underhand. If they had told me the poetry was bad, I would have acquiesced; but they say the contrary, and then talk to me about morality—the first time I ever heard the word from any body who was not a rascal that used it for a purpose. I maintain that it is the most moral of poems; but if people won’t discover the moral, that is their fault, not mine. I have already written to beg that in any case you will print fifty for private distribution. I will send you the list of persons to whom it is to be sent afterwards.

“Within this last fortnight I have been rather indisposed with a rebellion of stomach, which would retain nothing (liver, I suppose), and an inability, or phantasy, not to be able to eat of any thing with relish but a kind of Adriatic fish called ‘scampi,’ which happens to be the most indigestible of marine viands. However, within these last two days, I am better, and very truly yours.”

“Venice, April 6th, 1819.

“The Second Canto of Don Juan was sent, on Saturday last, by post, in four packets, two of four, and two of three sheets each, containing in all two hundred and seventeen stanzas, octave measure. But I will permit no curtailments, except those mentioned about Castlereagh and * * * * * *. You shan’t make canticles of my cantos. The poem will please, if it is lively; if it is stupid, it will fail:
204 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
but I will have none of your damned cutting and slashing. If you please, you may publish anonymously; it will perhaps be better; but I will battle my way against them all, like a porcupine.

“So you and Mr. Foscolo, &c. want me to undertake what you call a ‘great work?’ an Epic Poem, I suppose, or some such pyramid. I’ll try no such thing; I hate tasks. And then ‘seven or eight years!’ God send us all well this day three months, let alone years. If one’s years can’t be better employed than in sweating poesy, a man had better be a ditcher. And works, too!—is Childe Harold nothing? You have so many ‘divine’ poems, is it nothing to have written a human one? without any of your worn-out machinery. Why, man, I could have spun the thoughts of the Four Cantos of that poem into twenty, had I wanted to book-make, and its passion into as many modern tragedies. Since you want length, you shall have enough of Juan, for I’ll make Fifty Cantos.

“And Foscolo, too! Why does he not do something more than the Letters of Ortis, and a tragedy, and pamphlets? He has good fifteen years more at his command than I have: what has he done all that time?—proved his genius, doubtless, but not fixed its fame, nor done his utmost.

“Besides, I mean to write my best work in Italian, and it will take me nine years more thoroughly to master the language; and then if my fancy exists, and I exist too, I will try what I can do really. As to the estimation of the English which you talk of, let them calculate what it is worth, before they insult me with their insolent condescension.

“I have not written for their pleasure. If they are pleased, it is that they chose to be so; I have never flattered their opinions, nor their pride; nor will I. Neither will I make ‘Ladies’ books’ ‘al dilettar le femine e la plebe.’ I have written from the fulness of my mind, from passion, from impulse, from many motives, but not for their ‘sweet voices.’

“I know the precise worth of popular applause, for few scribblers have had more of it; and if I chose to swerve into their paths, I could retain it, or resume it. But I neither love ye, nor fear ye; and though I buy with ye and sell with ye, I will neither eat with ye, drink with ye, nor pray with ye. They made me, without my search, a species of
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 205
popular idol; they, without reason or judgment, beyond the caprice of their good pleasure, threw down the image from its pedestal: it was not broken with the fall, and they would, it seems, again replace it,—but they shall not.

“You ask about my health: about the beginning of the year I was in a state of great exhaustion, attended by such debility of stomach that nothing remained upon it; and I was obliged to reform my ‘way of life,’ which was conducting me from the ‘yellow leaf’ to the ground, with all deliberate speed. I am better in health and morals, and very much yours, &c.

“P.S. I have read Hodgson’sFriends.’ * * * * He is right in defending Pope against the bastard pelicans of the poetical winter day, who add insult to their parricide, by sucking the blood of the parent of English real poetry—poetry without fault—and then spurning the bosom which fed them.”

It was about the time when the foregoing letter was written, and when, as we perceive, like the first return of reason after intoxication, a full consciousness of some of the evils of his late libertine course of life had broken upon him, that an attachment differing altogether, both in duration and devotion, from any of those that, since the dream of his boyhood, had inspired him, gained an influence over his mind which lasted through his few remaining years; and, undeniably wrong and immoral (even allowing for the Italian estimate of such frailties) as was the nature of the connexion to which this attachment led, we can hardly perhaps,—taking into account the far worse wrong from which it rescued and preserved him,—consider it otherwise than an event fortunate both for his reputation and happiness.

The fair object of this last, and (with one signal exception) only real love of his whole life, was a young Romagnese lady, the daughter of Count Gamba, of Ravenna, and married, but a short time before Lord Byron first met with her, to an old and wealthy widower, of the same city, Count Guiccioli. Her husband had in early life been the friend of Alfieri, and had distinguished himself by his zeal in promoting the establishment of a National Theatre, in which the talents of Alfieri and
206 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
his own wealth were to be combined. Notwithstanding his age, and a character, as it appears, by no means reputable, his great opulence rendered him an object of ambition among the mothers of Ravenna, who, according to the too frequent maternal practice, were seen vying with each other in attracting so rich a purchaser for their daughters, and the young
Teresa Gamba, then only eighteen, and just emancipated from a convent, was the selected victim.

The first time Lord Byron had ever seen this lady was in the autumn of 1818, when she made her appearance, soon after her marriage, at the house of the Countess Albrizzi, in all the gaiety of bridal array, and the first delight of exchanging a convent for the world. At this time, however, no acquaintance ensued between them;—it was not till the spring of the present year that, at an evening party of Madame Benzoni’s, they were introduced to each other. The love that sprung out of this meeting was instantaneous and mutual,—though with the usual disproportion of sacrifice between the parties; such an event being, to the man, but one of the many scenes of life, while, with woman, it generally constitutes the whole drama. The young Italian found herself suddenly inspired with a passion, of which, till that moment, her mind could not have formed the least idea;—she had thought of love but as an amusement, and now became its slave. If at the outset, too, less slow to be won than an Englishwoman, no sooner did she begin to understand the full despotism of the passion than her heart shrunk from it as something terrible, and she would have escaped, but that the chain was already around her.

No words, however, can describe so simply and feelingly as her own, the strong impression which their first meeting left upon her mind:—

“I became acquainted (says Madame Guiccioli) with Lord Byron in the April of 1819:—he was introduced to me at Venice, by the Countess Benzoni, at one of that lady’s parties. This introduction, which had so much influence over the lives of us both, took place contrary to our wishes, and had been permitted by us only from courtesy. For myself, more fatigued than usual that evening on account of the late hours they keep at Venice, I went with great repugnance to this party, and purely in obedience to Count Guiccioli. Lord Byron, too, who was averse to forming new acquaintance,—alleging that he had entirely renounced all
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 207
attachments, and was unwilling any more to expose himself to their consequences,—on being requested by the Countess Benzoni to allow himself to be presented to me, refused, and, at last, only assented from a desire to oblige her.

“His noble and exquisitely beautiful countenance, the tone of his voice, his manners, the thousand enchantments that surrounded him, rendered him so different and so superior a being to any whom I had hitherto seen, that it was impossible he should not have left the most profound impression upon me. From that evening, during the whole of my subsequent stay at Venice, we met every day*.”

“Venice, May 15th, 1819.
* * * * * * *

“I have got your extract, and the ‘Vampire.’ I need not say it is not mine. There is a rule to go by; you are my publisher (till we quarrel), and what is not published by you is not written by me.

* * * * * * *

“Next week I set out for Romagna—at least, in all probability. You had better go on with the publications, without waiting to hear farther, for I have other things in my head. ‘Mazeppa’ and the ‘Ode’ separate?—what think you? Juan anonymous, without the Dedication; for I won’t be shabby, and attack Southey under cloud of night.

“Yours, &c.’

* “Nell’ Aprile del 1819, io feci la conoscenza di Lord Byron; e mi fu presentato a Venezia dalla Contessa Benzoni nella di lei società. Questa presentasione che ebbe tante consequenze per tutti e due fu fatta contre la voluntà d’entrambi, e solo per condiscendenza l’abbiamo permessa. Io stanca più che mai quelle sera per le ore tarde che al costuma fare in Venezia andai con molta ripugnanza e solo per ubbidire al Conte Guiccioli in quella società. Lord Byron che scansava di fare nuove conoscenze, dicendo sempre che aveva interamente rinunciato alle passioni e che non voleva esporsi più alle lore consequenze, quando la Contessa Benzoni la pregò di volersi far presentare a me egli ricusò, e solo per la compiàcenza glielo permise. La nobile e belilssima sua fisonomia, il suono della sua voce, le sue maniere, i mille incanti che lo circondavano lo rendevano un essere così differente, così superiore a tutti quelli che lo aveva sino allora veduti che non potei a menu di non provarne la più profonda impressione. Da quella sera in poi in tutti i giorni che mi fermai in Venezia ei siamo sempre veduti.”—MS.

208 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

In another letter on the subject of the Vampire, I find the following interesting particulars.

TO MR. ——.

“The story of Shelley’s agitation is true. I can’t tell what seized him, for he don’t want courage. He was once with me in a gale of wind, in a small boat, right under the rocks between Meillerie and St. Gingo. We were five in the boat—a servant, two boatmen, and ourselves. The sail was mismanaged, and the boat was filling fast. He can’t swim. I stripped off my coat, made him strip off his, and take hold of an oar, telling him that I thought (being myself an expert swimmer) I could save him, if he would not struggle when I took hold of him—unless we got smashed against the rocks, which were high and sharp, with an awkward surf on them at that minute. We were then about a hundred yards from shore, and the boat in peril. He answered me with the greatest coolness ‘that he had no notion of being saved, and that I would have enough to do to save myself, and begged not to trouble me.’ Luckily, the boat righted, and, baling, we got round a point into St. Gingo, where the inhabitants came down and embraced the boatmen on their escape, the wind having been high enough to tear up some huge trees from the Alps above us, as we saw next day.

“And yet the same Shelley, who was as cool as it was possible to be in such circumstances (of which I am no judge myself, as the chance of swimming naturally gives self-possession when near shore), certainly had the fit of phantasy which Polidori describes, though not exactly as he describes it.

* This story, as given in the Preface to the “Vampire,” is as follows:—

“It appears that one evening Lord B., Mr. P. B. Shelley, two ladies, and the gentleman before alluded to, after having perused a German work called Phantasmagoria, began relating ghost stories, when his lordship having recited the beginning of Christabel, then unpublished, the whole took so strong a hold of Mr. Shelley’s mind, that he suddenly started up, and ran out of the room. The physician and Lord Byron followed, and discovered him leaning against a mantelpiece, with cold drops of perspiration trickling down his face. After having given him something to refresh him, upon inquiring into the cause of his alarm, they found that his wild imagination having pictured to him the bosom of one of the ladies with eyes (which was reported of a lady in the neighbourhood where he lived), he was obliged to leave the room in order to destroy the impression.”

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 209

“The story of the agreement to write the ghost-books is true; but the ladies are not sisters. * * * * * * * * * * * * * Mary Godwin (now Mrs. Shelley) wrote Frankenstein, which you have reviewed, thinking it Shelley’s. Methinks it is a wonderful book for a girl of nineteen—not nineteen, indeed, at that time. I enclose you the beginning of mine, by which you will see how far it resembles Mr. Colburn’s publication. If you choose to publish it you may, stating why, and with such explanatory proem as you please. I never went on with it, as you will perceive by the date. I began it in an old account-book of Miss Milbanke’s, which I kept because it contains the word ‘Household,’ written by her twice on the inside blank page of the covers, being the only two scraps I have in the world in her writing, except her name to the Deed of Separation. Her letters I sent back, except those of the quarrelling correspondence, and those, being documents, are placed in the hands of a third person, with copies of several of my own; so that I have no kind of memorial whatever of her, but these two words,—and her actions. I have torn the leaves containing the part of the Tale out of the book, and enclose them with this sheet.

* * * * * * *

“What do you mean? First you seem hurt by my letter, and then, in your next, you talk of its ‘power,’ and so forth. ‘This is a d—d blind story, Jack; but never mind, go on.’ You may be sure I said nothing on purpose to plague you, but if you will put me ‘in a frenzy, I will never call you Jack again.’ I remember nothing of the epistle at present.

“What do you mean by Polidori’s Diary? Why, I defy him to say any thing about me but he is welcome. I have nothing to reproach me with on his score, and I am much mistaken if that is not his own opinion. But why publish the names of the two girls? and in such a manner?—what a blundering piece of exculpation! He asked Pictet, &c. to dinner, and of course was left to entertain them. I went into society solely to present him (as I told him), that he might return into good company if he chose; it was the best thing for his youth and circumstances: for myself, I had done with society and, having presented him, withdrew to
210 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
my own ‘way of life.’ It is true that I returned without entering
Lady Dalrymple Hamilton’s, because I saw it full. It is true that Mrs. Hervey (she writes novels) fainted at my entrance into Coppet, and then came back again. On her fainting, the Duchesse de Broglie exclaimed, ‘This is too much—at sixty-five years of age!’—I never gave ‘the English’ an opportunity of avoiding me; but I trust that, if ever I do, they will seize it. With regard to Mazeppa and the Ode, you may join or separate them, as you please, from the two Cantos.

“Don’t suppose I want to put you out of humour. I have a great respect for your good and gentlemanly qualities, and return your personal friendship towards me; and although I think you a little spoilt by ‘villanous company,’—wits, persons of honour about town, authors, and fashionables, together with your ‘I am just going to call at Carlton House, are you walking that way?’—I say, notwithstanding ‘pictures, taste, Shakspeare, and the musical glasses,’ you deserve and possess the esteem of those whose esteem is worth having, and of none more (however useless it may be) than yours very truly, &c.

“P.S. Make my respects to Mr. Gifford. I am perfectly aware that ‘Don Juan’ must set us all by the ears, but that is my concern, and my beginning. There will be the ‘Edinburgh,’ and all, too, against it, so that, like ‘Rob Roy,’ I shall have my hands full.”

“Venice, May 25th, 1819.

“I have received no proofs by the last post, and shall probably have quitted Venice before the arrival of the next. There wanted a few stanzas to the termination of Canto First in the last proof; the next will, I presume, contain them, and the whole or a portion of Canto Second; but it will be idle to wait for further answers from me, as I have directed that my letters wait for my return (perhaps in a month, and probably so); therefore do not wait for further advice from me. You may as well talk to the wind, and better—for it will at least convey your accents a little farther than they would otherwise have gone; whereas I shall
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 211
neither echo nor acquiesce in your ‘exquisite reasons.’ You may omit the note of reference to
Hobhouse’s travels, in Canto Second, and you will put as motto to the whole—

‘Difficile est proprie communia dicere.’—Horace.
* * * * *

“A few days ago I sent you all I know of Polidori’s Vampire. He may do, say, or write, what he pleases, but I wish he would not attribute to me his own compositions. If he has any thing of mine in his possession, the MS. will put it beyond controversy; but I scarcely think that any one who knows me would believe the thing in the Magazine to be mine, even if they saw it in my own hieroglyphics.

“I write to you in the agonies of a sirocco, which annihilates me; and I have been fool enough to do four things since dinner, which are as well omitted in very hot weather: 1stly, * * * *; 2dly, to play at billiards from 10 to 12, under the influence of lighted lamps, that doubled the heat; 3dly, to go afterwards into a red-hot conversazione of the Countess Benzoni’s; and 4thly, to begin this letter at three in the morning: but being begun, it must be finished.

“Ever very truly and affectionately yours,

“P.S. I petition for tooth-brushes, powder, magnesia, Macassar oil (or Russia), the sashes, and Sir Nl. Wraxall’s Memoirs of his own Times. I want, besides, a bull-dog, a terrier, and two Newfoundland dogs; and I want (is it Buck’s?) a life of Richard 3d, advertised by Longman long, long, long ago; I asked for it at least three years since. See Longman’s advertisements.”

About the middle of April, Madame Guiccioli had been obliged to quit Venice with her husband. Having several houses on the road from Venice to Ravenna, it was his habit to stop at these mansions, one after the other, in his journeys between the two cities; and from all these places the enamoured young Countess now wrote to her lover, expressing, in the most passionate and pathetic terms her despair at leaving him. So utterly, indeed, did this feeling overpower her, that three times, in the course of her first day’s journey, she was seized
212 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
with fainting-fits. In one of her letters, which I saw when at Venice, dated, if I recollect right, from “Cà Zen, Cavanelle di Po,” she tells him that the solitude of this place, which she had before found irksome, was, now that one sole idea occupied her mind, become dear and welcome to her, and promises that, as soon as she arrives at Ravenna, “she will, according to his wish, avoid all general society, and devote herself to reading, music, domestic occupations, riding on horseback, every thing, in short, that she knew he would most like.” What a change for a young and simple girl, who, but a few weeks before, had thought only of society and the world, but who now saw no other happiness but in the hope of becoming worthy, by seclusion and self-instruction, of the illustrious object of her love!

On leaving this place, she was attacked with a dangerous illness on the road, and arrived half dead at Ravenna; nor was it found possible to revive or comfort her till an assurance was received from Lord Byron, expressed with all the fervour of real passion, that, in the course of the ensuing month, he would pay her a visit. Symptoms of consumption, brought on by her state of mind, had already shown themselves; and, in addition to the pain which this separation had caused her, she was also suffering much grief from the loss of her mother, who, at this time, died in giving birth to her twentieth child. Towards the latter end of May she wrote to acquaint Lord Byron that, having prepared all her relatives and friends to expect him, he might now, she thought, venture to make his appearance at Ravenna. Though, on the lady’s account, hesitating as to the prudence of such a step, he, in obedience to her wishes, on the 2d of June, set out from La Mira (at which place he had again taken a villa for the summer), and proceeded towards Romagna.

From Padua he addressed a letter to Mr. Hoppner, chiefly occupied with matters of household concern which that gentleman had undertaken to manage for him at Venice, but, on the immediate object of his journey, expressing himself in a tone so light and jesting, as it would be difficult for those not versed in his character to conceive that he could ever bring himself, while under the influence of a passion so sincere, to assume. But such is ever the wantonness of the mocking spirit, from which nothing,—not even love,—remains sacred; and which at last, for
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 213
want of other food, turns upon self. The same horror, too, of hypocrisy that led Lord Byron to exaggerate his own errors, led him also to disguise, under a seemingly heartless ridicule, all those natural and kindly qualities by which they were redeemed.

This letter from Padua concludes thus:—

“A journey in an Italian June is a conscription; and if I was not the most constant of men, I should now be swimming from the Lido, instead of smoking in the dust of Padua. Should there be letters from England, let them wait my return. And do look at my house and (not lands, but) waters, and scold;—and deal out the monies to Edgecombe* with an air of reluctance and a shake of the head—and put queer questions to him—and turn up your nose when he answers.

“Make my respects to the Consuless—and to the Chevalier—and to Scotin—and to all the counts and countesses of our acquaintance.

“And believe me ever
“Your disconsolate and affectionate, &c.”

As a contrast to the strange levity of this letter, as well as in justice to the real earnestness of the passion, however censurable in all other respects, that now engrossed him, I shall here transcribe some stanzas which he wrote in the course of this journey to Romagna, and which, though already published, are not comprised in the regular collection of his works.

“River†, that rollest by the ancient wails,
Where dwells the lady of my love, when she
Walks by thy brink, and there perchance recalls
A faint and fleeting memory of me;
“What if thy deep and ample stream should be
A mirror of my heart, where she may read
The thousand thoughts I now betray to thee,
Wild as thy wave, and headlong as thy speed!

* A clerk of the English Consulate, whom be at this time employed to control his accounts.

† The Po.

214 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
“What do I say—a mirror of my heart?
Are not thy waters sweeping, dark, and strong?
Such as my feelings were and are, thou art;
And such as thou art were my passions long.
“Time may have somewhat tamed them,—not for ever;
Thou overflow’st thy banks, and not for aye
Thy bosom overboils, congenial river!
Thy floods subside, and mine have sunk away,
“But left long wrecks behind, and now again,
Borne in our old unchanged career, we move;
Thou tendest wildly onwards to the main,
And I—to loving one I should not love.
“The current I behold will sweep beneath
Her native walls and murmur at her feet;
Her eyes will look on thee, when she shall breathe
The twilight air, unharm’d by summer’s heat.
“She will look on thee,—I have look’d on thee,
Full of that thought; and, from that moment, ne’er
Thy waters could I dream of, name, or see,
Without the inseparable sigh for her!
“Her bright eyes will be imaged in thy stream,—
Yes! they will meet the wave I gaze on now:
Mine cannot witness, even in a dream,
That happy wave repass me in its flow!
“The wave that bears my tears returns no more:
Will she return by whom that wave shall sweep?—
Both tread thy banks, both wander on thy shore,
I by thy source, she by the dark-blue deep.
“But that which keepeth us apart is not
Distance, nor depth of wave, nor space of earth,
But the distraction of a various lot,
As various as the climates of our birth.
“A stranger loves the lady of the land,
Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood
Is all meridian, as if never fann’d
By the black wind that chills the polar flood.
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 215
“My blood is all meridian; were it not,
I had not left my clime, nor should I be,
In spite of tortures, ne’er to be forgot,
A slave again of love,—at least of thee.
“’Tis vain to struggle—let me perish young—
Live as I lived, and love as 1 have loved;
To dust if I return, from dust I sprung,
And then, at least, my heart can ne’er be moved.”

On arriving at Bologna and receiving no farther intelligence from the Contessa, he began to be of opinion, as we shall perceive in the annexed interesting letters, that he should act most prudently, for all parties, by returning to Venice.

“Bologna, June 6th, 1819.

“I am at length joined to Bologna, where I am settled like a sausage, and shall be broiled like one, if this weather continues. Will you thank Mengaldo on my part for the Ferrara acquaintance, which was a very agreeable one. I staid two days at Ferrara, and was much pleased with the Count Mosti, and the little the shortness of the time permitted me to see of his family. I went to his conversazione, which is very far superior to any thing of the kind at Venice—the women almost all young—several pretty—and the men courteous and cleanly. The lady of the mansion, who is young, lately married, and with child, appeared very pretty by candlelight (I did not see her by day), pleasing in her manners, and very lady-like, or thoroughbred as we call it in England,—a kind of thing which reminds one of a racer, an antelope, or an Italian greyhound. She seems very fond of her husband, who is amiable and accomplished; he has been in England two or three times, and is young. The sister, a Countess somebody—I forget what—(they are both Maffei by birth, and Veronese of course)—is a lady of more display; she sings and plays divinely; but I thought she was a d—d
216 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
long time about it. Her likeness to
Madame Flahaut (Miss Mercer that was) is something quite extraordinary.

“I had but a bird’s-eye view of these people, and shall not probably see them again; but I am very much obliged to Mengaldo for letting me see them at all. Whenever I meet with any thing agreeable in this world, it surprises me so much, and pleases me so much (when my passions are not interested one way or the other), that I go on wondering for a week to come. I feel, too, in great admiration of the Cardinal Legate’s red stockings.

“I found, too, such a pretty epitaph in the Certosa cemetery, or rather two: one was
‘Martini Luigi
Implora pace;’
the other,
‘Lucrezia Picini
Implora eterna quiete.’
That was all; but it appears to me that these two and three words comprise and compress all that can be said on the subject,—and then, in Italian, they, are absolute music. They contain doubt, hope, and humility; nothing can be more pathetic than the ‘implora’ and the modesty of the request;—they have had enough of life—they want nothing but rest—they implore it, and ‘eterna quiete.’ It is like a Greek inscription in some good old heathen ‘City of the Dead.’ Pray, if I am shovelled into the Lido churchyard in your time, let me have the ‘implora pace,’ and nothing else, for my epitaph. I never met with any, ancient or modern, that pleased me a tenth part so much.

“In about a day or two after you receive this letter, I will thank you to desire Edgecombe to prepare for my return. I shall go back to Venice before I village on the Brenta. I shall stay but a few days in Bologna. I am just going out to see sights, but shall not present my introductory letters for a day or two, till I have run over again the place and pictures; nor perhaps at all, if I find that I have books and sights enough to do without the inhabitants. After that, I shall return to
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 217
Venice, where you may expect me about the eleventh, or perhaps sooner. Pray make my thanks acceptable to
Mengaldo; my respects to the Consuless, and to Mr. Scott.

“I hope my daughter is well.

“Ever yours, and truly.

“P.S. I went over the Ariosto MS. &c. &c. again at Ferrara, with the castle, and cell, and house, &c. &c.

“One of the Ferrarese asked me if I knew ‘Lord Byron,’ an acquaintance of his, now at Naples. I told him ‘No!’ which was true both ways; for I know not the impostor, and in the other, no one knows himself. He stared when told that I was the real Simon Pure.—‘Another asked me if I had not translatedTasso.’ You see what Fame is! how accurate! how boundless! I don’t know how others feel, but I am always the lighter and the better looked on when I have got rid of mine; it sits on me like armour on the Lord Mayor’s champion; and I got rid of all the husk of literature, and the attendant babble, by answering, that I had not translated Tasso, but a namesake had; and by the blessing of Heaven, I looked so little like a poet, that every body believed me.”

“Bologna, June 7th, 1819.

“Tell Mr. Hobhouse that I wrote to him a few days ago from Ferrara. It will therefore be idle in him or you to wait for any further answers or returns of proofs from Venice, as I have directed that no English letters be sent after me. The publication can be proceeded in without, and I am already sick of your remarks, to which I think not the least attention ought to be paid.

“Tell Mr. Hobhouse that, since I wrote to him, I had availed myself of my Ferrara letters, and found the society much younger and better there than at Venice. I am very much pleased with the little the shortness of my stay permitted me to see of the Gonfaloniere Count Mosti, and his family and friends in general.

218 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

“I have been picture-gazing this morning at the famous Domenichino and Guido, both of which are superlative. I afterwards went to the beautiful cemetery of Bologna, beyond the walls, and found, besides the superb burial-ground, an original of a Custode, who reminded one of the grave-digger in Hamlet. He has a collection of capuchins’ skulls, labelled on the forehead, and taking down one of them, said, ‘This was Brother Desiderio Berro, who died at forty—one of my best friends. I begged his head of his brethren after his decease, and they gave it me. I put it in lime and then boiled it. Here it is, teeth and all, in excellent preservation. He was the merriest, cleverest fellow I ever knew. Wherever he went, he brought joy; and whenever any one was melancholy, the sight of him was enough to make him cheerful again. He walked so actively, you might have taken him for a dancer—he joked—he laughed—oh! he was such a Frate as I never saw before, nor ever shall again!’

“He told me that he had himself planted all the cypresses in the cemetery; that he had the greatest attachment to them and to his dead people; that since 1801 they had buried fifty-three thousand persons. In showing some older monuments, there was that of a Roman girl of twenty, with a bust by Bernini. She was a princess Barlorini, dead two centuries ago: he said that, on opening her grave, they had found her hair complete, and ‘as yellow as gold.’ Some of the epitaphs at Ferrara pleased me more than the more splendid monuments at Bologna; for instance—
‘Martini Luigi
Implora pace;’
‘Lucrezia Picini
Implora eterna quiete.’
Can any thing be more full of pathos? Those few words say all that can be said or sought: the dead had had enough of life; all they wanted was rest, and this they implore! There is all the helplessness, and humble hope, and deathlike prayer, that can arise from the grave—‘implora pace*.’ I hope whoever may survive me, and shall see me put

* Though Lord Byron, like most other persons, in writing to different friends, was sometimes led to repeat the same circumstances and thoughts, there is, from the ever ready fertility

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 219
in the foreigners’ burying-ground at the Lido, within the fortress by the Adriatic, will see those two words, and no more, put over me, I trust they won’t think of ‘pickling, and bringing me home to Clod or Blunderbuss Hall.’ I am sure my bones would not rest in an English grave, or my clay mix with the earth of that country. I believe the thought would drive me mad on my deathbed, could I suppose that any of my friends would be base enough to convey my carcass back to your soil.—I would not even feed your worms, if I could help it.

“So, as Shakspeare says of Mowbray, the banished Duke of Norfolk, who died at Venice (see Richard 2d), that he, after fighting

‘Against black Pagans, Turks, and Saracens,
And toil’d with works of war, retired himself
To Italy, and there, at Venice, gave
His body to that pleasant country’s earth,
And his pure soul unto his captain, Christ,
Under whose colours he had fought so long.’

“Before I left Venice, I had returned to you your late, and Mr. Hobbouse’s, sheets of Juan. Don’t wait for further answers from me, but address yours to Venice, as usual. I know nothing of my own movements; I may return there in a few days, or not for some time. All this depends on circumstances. I left Mr. Hoppner very well. My daughter Allegra was well too, and is growing pretty; her hair is growing darker, and her eyes are blue. Her temper and her ways, Mr. Hoppner says, are like mine, as well as her features: she will make, in that case, a manageable young lady.

“I have never heard any thing of Ada, the little Electra of my Mycenæ. * * * *. But there will come a day of reckoning, even if I should not live to see it. I have at least seen * * * shivered, who was one of my assassins. When that man was doing his worst to uproot my whole family, tree, branch, and blossoms—when, after taking my

of his mind, much less of such repetition in his correspondence than in that, perhaps, of any other multifarious letter-writer; and, in the instance before us, where the same facts and reflections are, for the second time, introduced, it is with such new touches, both of thought and expression, as render them, even a second time, interesting,—what is wanting in the novelty of the matter being made up by the now aspect given to it.

220 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
retainer, he went over to them—when he was bringing desolation on my hearth, and destruction on my household gods—did he think that, in less than three years, a natural event—a severe, domestic, but an expected and common calamity—would lay his carcass in a cross-road, or stamp his name in a Verdict of Lunacy! Did he (who in his sexagenary * * *) reflect or consider what my feelings must have been, when wife, and child, and sister, and name, and fame, and country, were to be my sacrifice on his legal altar—and this at a moment when my health was declining, my fortune embarrassed, and my mind had been shaken by many kinds of disappointment—while I was yet young, and might have reformed what might be wrong in my conduct, and retrieved what was perplexing in my affairs! But he is in his grave, and * * * *. What a long letter I have scribbled!

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. Here, as in Greece, they strew flowers on the tombs. I saw a quantity of rose-leaves, and entire roses, scattered over the graves at Ferrara. It has the most pleasing effect you can imagine.”

While he was thus lingering irresolute at Bologna, the Countess Guiccioli had been attacked with an intermittent fever, the violence of which, combining with the absence of a confidential person to whom she had been in the habit of intrusting her letters, prevented her from communicating with him. At length, anxious to spare him the disappointment of finding her so ill on his arrival, she had begun a letter, requesting that he would remain at Bologna till the visit to which she looked forward should bring her there also; and was in the act of writing, when a friend came in to announce the arrival of an English lord in Ravenna. She could not doubt for an instant that it was her noble lover; and he had, in fact, notwithstanding his declaration to Mr. Hoppner that it was his intention to return to Venice immediately, wholly altered this resolution before the letter announcing it was despatched,—the following words being written on the outside cover:—“I am just setting off for Ravenna, June 8, 1819.—I changed my mind this morning, and decided to go on.”

The reader, however, shall have Madame Guiccioli’s own account
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 221
of these events, which, fortunately for the interest of my narration, I am enabled to communicate.

“On my departure from Venice, he had promised to come and see me at Ravenna. Dante’s tomb, the classical pine wood*, the relics of antiquity which are to be found in that place, afforded a sufficient pretext for me to invite him to come, and for him to accept my invitation. He came, in fact, in the month of June, arriving at Ravenna on the day of the festival of the Corpus Domini; while I, attacked by a consumptive complaint, which had its origin from the moment of my quitting Venice, appeared on the point of death. The arrival of a distinguished foreigner at Ravenna, a town so remote from the routes ordinarily followed by travellers, was an event which gave rise to a good deal of conversation. His motives for such a visit became the subject of discussion, and these he himself afterwards involuntarily divulged; for having made some inquiries with a view to paying me a visit, and being told that it was unlikely that he would ever see me again, as I was at the point of death, he replied, if such were the case, he hoped that he should die also; which circumstance, being repeated, revealed the object of his journey. Count Guiccioli, having been acquainted with Lord Byron at Venice, went to visit him now, and in the hope that his presence might amuse, and be of some use to me in the state in which I then found myself, invited him to call upon me. He came the day following. It is impossible to describe the anxiety he showed,—the delicate attentions that he paid me. For a long time he had perpetually medical books in his hands; and not trusting my physicians, he obtained permission from Count Guiccioli to send for a very clever physician, a friend of his, in whom he placed great confidence. The attentions of the Professor Aglietti (for so this celebrated Italian was called), together with tranquillity, and the inexpressible happiness which I experienced

* “Tal qual di ramo in ramo si raccoglie
Per la pineta in sul lito di Chiassi,
Quando Eolo Scirocco fuor discioglie.”

Dante himself (says Mr. Carey, in one of the notes on his admirable translation of this poet) “perhaps wandered in this wood during his abode with Guido Novello da Polenta.”

222 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
in Lord Byron’s society, had so good an effect on my health, that only two months afterwards I was able to accompany my husband in a tour he was obliged to make to visit his various estates†.”

“Ravenna, June 20, 1819.
* * * * * *

“I wrote to you from Padua, and from Bologna, and since from Ravenna. I find my situation very agreeable, but want my horses very much, there being good riding in the environs. I can fix no time for my return to Venice—it may be soon or late—or not at all—it all depends on the Donna, whom I found very seriously in bed with a cough and spitting of blood, &c. all of which has subsided. * * * * * * * * * * * *. I found all the people here firmly persuaded that she would never recover;—they were mistaken, however.

† Partendo io da Venezia egli promise di venir a vedermi a Ravenna. La Tomba di Dante, il classico bosco di pini, gli avvanzi di antichità che a Ravenna si trovano davano a me ragioni plausibili per invitarlo a venire, ed a lui per accettare l’invito. Egli venne difatti nel mese Guigno, a giunse a Ravenna nel giorno della Solennità del Corpus Domini, mentre io attaccata da una malattia de consunzione ch’ ebbe principio dalla mia partenza da Venezia ero vicina a morire. L’arrive in Ravenna d’un forestiero distinto, in un paese cosi Iontano dalle strade che ordinariamente tengono i viaggiatori era un avvenimento del quale molto si parlava, indagundosene i motivi, che involontariamente poi egli feci conoscere. Perchè avendo egli domandato di me per venire a vedermi ed essendogli risposto ‘che non potrebbe vedermi più perchè ero vicina a morire’—egli rispose che in quel caso voleva morire egli pure; la qual cosa essendosi poi ripetata si conobbe cosi l’oggetto del suo viaggio.

“Il Conte Guiccioli visitò Lord Byron, essendolo conosciuto in Venezia, e nella speranza che in di lui compagnia potesse distrarmi ed essermi di qualche giovamento nello stato in cui mi trovavo egli lo invitò di venire a visitarmi. II giorno appresso egli venne. Non si potrebbero descrivere la cure, i pensieri delicati, quanto egli fece per me. Per molto tempo egli non ebbe per le mani che dei Libri di Medicina; e poco confidandosi nel miei medici ottenne dal Conte Guiccloli il permesso di far venire un valente medico di lui amico nel quale egli aveva molta confidenza. Le cure del Professore Aglietti (cosi si chiama questo distinto Italiano) la tranquillità, ansi la feilcità inesprimibile che ml cagionava la presenza di Lord Byron migliorarono cosi rapidamente la mia salute che entro lo spazio di due mesi potei seguire mio marito in un giro che egli doveva fare per le sue terre.”—MS.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 223

“My letters were useful as far as I employed them; and I like both the place and people, though I don’t trouble the latter more than I can help. She manages very well— * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * but if I come away with a stiletto in my gizzard some fine afternoon, I shall not be astonished. I can’t make him out at all—he visits me frequently, and takes me out (like Whittington, the Lord Mayor) in a coach and six horses. The fact appears to be, that he is completely governed by her—for that matter, so am I†. The people here don’t know what to make of us, as he had the character of jealousy with all his wives—this is the third. He is the richest of the Ravennese, by their own account, but is not popular among them. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Now do, pray, send off Augustine, and carriage and cattle, to Bologna, without fail or delay, or I shall lose my remaining shred of senses. Don’t forget this. My coming, going, and every thing, depend upon her entirely, just as Mrs. Hoppner (to whom I remit my reverences) said in the true spirit of female prophecy.

“You are but a shabby fellow not to have written before.

“And I am truly yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, June 29th, 1819.

“The letters have been forwarded from Venice, but I trust that you will not have waited for further alterations—I will make none. You ask me to spare * * * *—ask the worms. His dust can suffer

† That this task of “governing” him was one of more ease than, from the ordinary view of his character, might be concluded, I have more than once, in these pages, expressed my opinion, and shall here quote, in corroboration of it, the remark of his own servant (founded on an observation of more than twenty years), in speaking of his master’s matrimonial fate:—“It is very odd, but I never yet knew a lady that could not manage my Lord, except my Lady.”

“More knowledge,” says Johnson, “may be gained of a man’s real character by a short conversation with one of his servants than from the most formal and studied narrative.”

224 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
nothing from the truth being spoken—and if it could, how did he behave to me? You may talk to the wind, which will carry the sound—and to the caves, which will echo you—but not to me, on the subject of a * * * who wronged me—whether dead or alive.

“I have no time to return you the proofs—publish without them. I am glad you think the poesy good; and as to ‘thinking of the effect,’ think you of the sale, and leave me to pluck the porcupines who may point their quills at you.

“I have been here (at Ravenna) these four weeks, having left Venice a month ago;—I came to see my ‘Amica,’ the Countess Guiccioli, who has been, and still continues, very unwell. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * She is only twenty years old, but not of a strong constitution. * * * * * * * * * * * * She has a perpetual cough and an intermittent fever, but bears up most gallantly in every sense of the word. Her husband (this is his third wife) is the richest noble of Ravenna, and almost of Romagna; he is also not the youngest, being upwards of threescore, but in good preservation. All this will appear strange to you, who do not understand the meridian morality, nor our way of life in such respects, and I cannot at present expound the difference;—but you would find it much the same in these parts. At Faenza there is Lord * * * * with an opera girl; and at the inn in the same town is a Neapolitan Prince, who serves the wife of the Gonfaloniere of that city. I am on duty here—so you see ‘Così fan tutti e tutte.

“I have my horses here, saddle as well as carriage, and ride or drive every day in the forest, the Pineta, the scene of Boccaccio’s novel, and Dryden’s fable of Honoria, &c. &c; and I see my Dama every day * * * * * *; but I feel seriously uneasy about her health, which seems very precarious. In losing her, I should lose a being who has run great risks on my account, and whom I have every reason to love—but I must not think this possible. I do not know what I should do if she died, but I ought to blow my brains out—and I hope that I should. Her husband is a very polite personage, but I wish he would not carry me out in his coach and six, like Whittington and his cat.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 225

“You ask me if I mean to continue D. J., &c. How should I know? What encouragement do you give me, all of you, with your nonsensical prudery?—publish the two Cantos, and then you will see. I desired Mr. Kinnaird to speak to you on a little matter of business; either he has not spoken, or you have not answered. You are a pretty pair, but I will be even with you both. I perceive that Mr. Hobhouse has been challenged by Major Cartwright—Is the Major ‘so cunning of fence?’—why did not they fight?—they ought.

“Yours, &c.”
“Ravenna, July 2d, 1819.

“Thanks for your letter and for Madame’s. I will answer it directly. Will you recollect whether I did not consign to you one or two receipts of Madame Mocenigo’s for house rent—(I am not sure of this, but think I did—if not, they will be in my drawers)—and will you desire Mr. Dorville* to have the goodness to see if Edgecombe has receipts to all payments hitherto made by him on my account, and that there are no debts at Venice? On your answer, I shall send order of further remittance to carry on my household expenses, as my present return to Venice is very problematical; and it may happen—but I can say nothing positive—every thing with me being indecisive and undecided, except the disgust which Venice excites when fairly compared with any other city in this part of Italy. When I say Venice, I mean the Venetians—the city itself is superb as its history—but the people are what I never thought them till they taught me to think so.

The best way will be to leave Allegra with Antonio’s spouse till I can decide something about her and myself—but I thought that you would have had an answer from Mrs. V——r†. You have had bore enough with me and mine already.

* The Vice-Consul of Mr. Hoppner.

† An English widow lady, of considerable property in the north of England, who, having seen the little Allegra at Mr. Hoppner’s, took an interest in the poor child’s fate, and having no

226 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

“I greatly fear that the Guiccioli is going into a consumption, to which her constitution tends. Thus it is with every thing and every body for whom I feel any thing like a real attachment;—‘War, death, or discord, doth lay siege to them.’ I never even could keep alive a dog that I liked or that liked me. Her symptoms are obstinate cough of the lungs, and occasional fever, &c. &c., and there are latent causes of an eruption in the skin, which she foolishly repelled into the system two years ago; but I have made them send her case to Aglietti; and have begged him to come—if only for a day or two—to consult upon her state. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * If it would not bore Mr. Dorville, I wish he would keep an eye on E—— and on my other ragamuffins. I might have more to say, but I am absorbed about La Gui. and her illness. I cannot tell you the effect it has upon me.

“The horses came, &c. &c., and I have been galloping through the pine forest daily.

“Believe me, &c.

“P.S. My benediction on Mrs. Hoppner, a pleasant journey among the Bernese tyrants, and safe return. You ought to bring back a Platonic Bernese for my reformation. If any thing happens to my present Amica, I have done with the passion for ever—it is my last love. As to libertinism, I have sickened myself of that, as was natural in the way I went on, and I have at least derived that advantage from vice, to love in the better sense of the word. This will be my last adventure—I can hope no more to inspire attachment, and I trust never again to feel it.”

The impression which, I think, cannot but be entertained, from some passages of these letters, of the real fervour and sincerity of his attachment to Madame Guiccioli†, would he still further confirmed by

family of her own, offered to adopt and provide for this little girl, if Lord Byron would consent to renounce all claim to her. At first he seemed not disinclined to enter into her views—so far, at least, as giving permission that she should take the child with her to England and educate it; but the entire surrender of his paternal authority he would by no means consent to. The proposed arrangement accordingly was never carried into effect.

† “During my illness,” says Madame Guiccioli, in her recollections of this period, “he

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 227
the perusal of his letters to that lady herself, both from Venice and during his present stay at Ravenna—all bearing, throughout, the true marks both of affection and passion. Such effusions, however, are but little suited to the general eye. It is the tendency of all strong feeling, from dwelling constantly on the same idea, to be monotonous; and those often repeated vows and verbal endearments, which make the charm of true love-letters to the parties concerned in them, must for ever render even the best of them cloying to others. Those of Lord Byron to Madame Guiccioli, which are for the most part in Italian, and written with a degree of ease and correctness attained rarely by foreigners, refer chiefly to the difficulties thrown in the way of their meetings,—not so much by the husband himself, who appears to have liked and courted Lord Byron’s society, as by the watchfulness of other relatives, and the apprehension felt by the lovers themselves lest their imprudence should give uneasiness to the father of the lady,
Count Gamba, a gentleman to whose good-nature and amiableness of character all who know him bear testimony.

In the near approaching departure of the young Countess for Bologna, Lord Byron foresaw a risk of their being again separated; and under the impatience of this prospect, though through the whole of his preceding letters the fear of committing her by any imprudence seems to have been his ruling thought, he now, with that wilfulness of the moment which has so often sealed the destiny of years, proposed that she should, at once, abandon her husband and fly with him:—“c’è uno solo rimedio efficace,” he says,—“cioè d’ andar vià insieme.” To an Italian wife, almost every thing but this is permissible. The same system which so

was for ever near me, paying use the most amiable attentions, and when I became convalescent he was constantly at my side. In society, at the theatre, riding, walking, he never was absent from me. Being deprived at that time of his books, his horses, and all that occupied him at Venice, I begged him to gratify me by writing something on the subject of Dante, and, with his usual facility and rapidity, he composed his ‘Prophecy.’”—“Durante la mia malattia L. B. era sempre presso di me, prestandomi le più sensibili cure, e quando passai allo stato di convalescenza egli era sempre al mio fianco;—e in società, e al teatro, e cavalcando, a passeggiando egli non si allontanava mai da me. In quel’ epoca essendo egli privo de’ suoi libri, e de’ suoi cavalli e di tuttociò che lo occupava in Venesia io lo pregai di volersi occupare per me scrivendo qualche cosa sul Dante; ed egli colla usata sua facilità e rapidità scrisse la sua Profezia.”

228 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
indulgently allows her a lover, as one of the regular appendages of her matrimonial establishment, takes care also to guard against all unseemly consequences of this privilege; and in return for such convenient facilities of wrong exacts rigidly an observance of all the appearances of right. Accordingly, the open step of deserting the husband for the lover, instead of being considered, as in England, but a sign and sequel of transgression, takes rank, in Italian morality, as the main transgression itself; and being an offence, too, rendered wholly unnecessary by the latitude otherwise enjoyed, becomes, from its rare occurrence, no less monstrous than odious.

The proposition, therefore, of her noble lover seemed to the young Contessa little less than sacrilege, and the agitation of her mind, between the horrors of such a step, and her eager readiness to give up all and every thing for him she loved, was depicted most strongly in her answer to the proposal. In a subsequent letter, too, the romantic girl even proposed, as a means of escaping the ignominy of an elopement, that she should, like another Juliet, “pass for dead,”—assuring him that there were many easy ways of effecting such a deception.

“Ravenna, August 1st, 1819.
[Address your answer to Venice, however.]

“Don’t be alarmed. You will see me defend myself gaily—that is, if I happen to be in spirits; and by spirits, I don’t mean your meaning of the word, but the spirit of a bull-dog when pinched, or a bull when pinned; it is then that they make best sport; and as my sensations under an attack are probably a happy compound of the united energies of these amiable animals, you may perhaps see what Marrall calls ‘rare sport,’ and some good tossing and goring, in the course of the controversy. But I must be in the right cue first, and I doubt I am almost too far off to be in a sufficient fury for the purpose. And then I have effeminated and enervated myself with love and the summer in these last two months.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 229

“I wrote to Mr. Hobhouse the other day, and foretold that Juan would either fall entirely or succeed completely; there will be no medium. Appearances are not favourable; but as you write the day after publication, it can hardly be decided what opinion will predominate. You seem in a fright, and doubtless with cause. Come what may, I never will flatter the million’s canting in any shape. Circumstances may or may not have placed me at times in a situation to lead the public opinion, but the public opinion never led, nor ever shall lead, me. I will not sit on a degraded throne; so pray put Messrs. * * or * *, or Tom Moore, or * * upon it; they will all of them be transported with their coronation.

* * * * * * *

“P.S. The Countess Guiccioli is much better than she was. I sent you, before leaving Venice, the real original sketch which gave rise to the ‘Vampire,’ &c.—Did you get it?”

This letter was, of course, (like most of those he addressed to England at this time) intended to be shown; and having been, among others, permitted to see it, I took occasion, in my very next communication to Lord Byron, to twit him a little with the passage in it relating to myself—the only one, as far as I can learn, that ever fell from my noble friend’s pen during our intimacy, in which he has spoken of me otherwise than in terms of kindness and the most undeserved praise. Transcribing his own words, as well as I could recollect them, at the top of my letter, I added, underneath, “Is this the way—you speak of your friends?” Not long after, too, when visiting him at Venice, I remember making the same harmless little sneer a subject of raillery with him; but he declared boldly that he had no recollection of having ever written such words, and that, if they existed, “he must have been half asleep when he wrote them.”

I have mentioned this circumstance merely for the purpose of remarking, that with a sensibility vulnerable at so many points as his was, and acted upon by an imagination so long practised in self-tormenting, it is only wonderful that, thinking constantly, as his letters prove him to have been, of distant friends, and receiving from few or none
230 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
equal proofs of thoughtfulness in return, he should not more frequently have broken out into such sallies against the absent and “unreplying.” For myself, I can only say that, from the moment I began to unravel his character, the most slighting and even acrimonious expressions that I could have heard he had, in a fit of spleen, uttered against me, would have no more altered my opinion of his disposition, nor disturbed my affection for him, than the momentary clouding over of a bright sky could leave an impression on the mind of gloom, after its shadow had passed away.

“Ravenna, August 9th, 1819.
* * * * * * *

“Talking of blunders reminds me of Ireland—Ireland of Moore. What is this I see in Galignani about ‘Bermuda—agent—deputy—appeal—attachment,’ &c.? What is the matter? Is it any thing in which his friends can be of use to him? Pray inform me.

“Of Don Juan I hear nothing further from you; * * *, but the papers don’t seem so fierce as the letter you sent me seemed to anticipate, by their extracts at least in Galignani’s Messenger. I never saw such a set of fellows as you are! And then the pains taken to exculpate the modest publisher—he remonstrated, forsooth! I will write a preface that shall exculpate you and * * * &c. completely, on that point; but, at the same time, I will cut you up, like gourds. You have no more soul than the Count de Caylus (who assured his friends, on his deathbed, that he had none, and that he must know better than they whether he had one or no), and no more blood than a water-melon! And I see there hath been asterisks, and what Perry used to call ‘domned cutting and slashing’—but, never mind.

“I write in haste. To-morrow I set off for Bologna. I write to you with thunder, lightning, &c. and all the winds of heaven whistling
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 231
through my hair, and the racket of preparation to boot. ‘My mistress dear, who hath fed my heart upon smiles and wine’ for the last two months, set off with her husband for Bologna this morning, and it seems that I follow him at three to-morrow morning. I cannot tell how our romance will end, but it bath gone on hitherto most erotically. Such perils and escapes! Juan’s are as child’s play in comparison. The fools think that all my poeshie is always allusive to my own adventures: I have had at one time or another better and more extraordinary and perilous and pleasant than these, every day of the week, if I might tell them; but that must never be.

“I hope Mrs. M. has accouched.

“Yours ever.”
“Bologna, August 12th, 1819.

“I do not know how far I may be able to reply to your letter, for I am not very well to-day. Last night I went to the representation of Alfieri’s Mirra, the two last acts of which threw me into convulsions. I do not mean by that word a lady’s hysterics, but the agony of reluctant tears, and the choking shudder, which I do not often undergo for fiction. This is but the second time for any thing under reality: the first was on seeing Kean’s Sir Giles Overreach. The worst was, that the ‘Dama’ in whose box I was went off in the same way, I really believe more from fright than any other sympathy—at least with the players: but she has been ill, and I have been ill, and we are all languid and pathetic this morning, with great expenditure of sal volatile*. But, to return to your letter of the 23d of July.

* The “Dama,” in whose company he witnessed this representation, thus describes its effect upon him:—“The play was that of Mirra; the actors, and particularly the actress who performed the part of Mirra, seconded with much success the intentions of our great

232 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

“You are right, Gifford is right. Crabbe is right, Hobhouse is right—you are all right, and I am all wrong; but do, pray, let me have that pleasure. Cut me up root and branch; quarter me in the Quarterly; send round my ‘disjecti membra poetæ,’ like those of the Levite’s concubine; make me, if you will, a spectacle to men and angels; but don’t ask me to alter, for I won’t:—I am obstinate and lazy—and there’s the truth.

“But, nevertheless, I will answer your friend P * *, who objects to the quick succession of fun and gravity, as if in that case the gravity did not (in intention, at least,) heighten the fun. His metaphor is, that ‘we are never scorched and drenched at the same time.’ Blessings on his experience! Ask him these questions about ‘scorching and drenching.’ Did he never play at cricket, or walk a mile in hot weather? Did he never spill a dish of tea over himself in handing the cup to his charmer, to the great shame of his nankeen breeches? Did he never swim in the sea at noonday with the sun in his eyes and on his head, which all the foam of ocean could not cool? Did he never draw his foot out of too hot water, d—ning his eyes and his valet’s? * * * * * * * Did he never tumble into a river or lake, fishing, and sit in his wet clothes in the boat, or on the bank, afterwards, ‘scorched and drenched,’ like a true sportsman? ‘Oh for breath to utter!’—but make him my compliments; he is a clever fellow for all that—a very clever fellow.

“You ask me for the plan of Donny Johnny: I have no plan; I

dramatist. Lord Byron took a strong interest in the representation, and it was evident that he was deeply affected. At length there came a point of the performance at which he could no longer restrain his emotions;—he burst into a flood of tears, and, his sobs preventing him from remaining any longer in the box, he rose and left the theatre.—I saw him similarly affected another time during a representation of Alfieri’sPhilip,’ at Ravenna.”—“Gli attori, e specialmente l’ attrice che rappresentava Mirra secondava assai bene la mente del nostro grande Tragico. L. B. prese molto interesse alla rappresentazione, e si conosceva che era molto commosso. Venne un punto poi della Tragedia in cui non potè più frenare in sun emozione,—diede in un diretto pianto e i singhiozzi gi’ impedirono di più restare nel palco; onde si levò, e parti dal teatro. In uno stato simile lo viddi un altra volta a Ravenna ad una rappresentazione del Filippo d’Alfieri.”

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 233
had no plan; but I had or have materials; though if, like Tony Lumpkin, ‘I am to be snubbed so when I am in spirits,’ the poem will be naught, and the poet turn serious again. If it don’t take, I will leave it off where it is, with all due respect to the public; but if continued, it must be in my own way. You might as well make Hamlet (or Diggory) ‘act mad’ in a strait waistcoat as trammel my buffoonery, if I am to be a buffoon; their gestures and my thoughts would only be pitiably absurd and ludicrously constrained. Why, man, the soul of such writing is its licence; at least the liberty of that licence, if one likes—not that one should abuse it. It is like Trial by Jury and Peerage and the Habeas Corpus—a very fine thing, but chiefly in the reversion; because no one wishes to be tried for the mere pleasure of proving his possession of the privilege.

“But a truce with these reflections. You are too earnest and eager about a work never intended to be serious. Do you suppose that I could have any intention but to giggle and make giggle?—a playful satire, with as little poetry as could be helped, was what I meant. And as to the indecency, do, pray, read in Boswell what Johnson, the sullen moralist, says of Prior and Paulo Purgante.

“Will you get a favour done for me? You can, by your government friends, Croker, Canning, or my old schoolfellow Peel, and I can’t. Here it is. Will you ask them to appoint (without salary or emolument) a noble Italian (whom I will name afterwards) consul or vice-consul for Ravenna? He is a man of very large property—noble, too; but he wishes to have a British protection, in case of changes. Ravenna is near the sea. He wants no emolument whatever. That his office might be useful, I know; as I lately sent off from Ravenna to Trieste a poor devil of an English sailor, who had remained there sick, sorry, and pennyless (having been set ashore in 1814), from the want of any accredited agent able or willing to help him homewards. Will you get this done? If you do, I will then send his name and condition, subject, of course, to rejection, if not approved when known.

“I know that in the Levant you make consuls and vice-consuls, perpetually, of foreigners. This man is a patrician, and has twelve
234 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
thousand a year. His motive is a British protection in case of new invasions. Don’t you think
Croker would do it for us? To be sure, my interest is rare!! but perhaps a brother wit in the Tory line might do a good turn at the request of so harmless and long absent a Whig, particularly as there is no salary or burthen of any sort to be annexed to the office.

“I can assure you, I should look upon it as a great obligation; but, alas! that very circumstance may, very probably, operate to the contrary—indeed, it ought; but I have, at least, been an honest and an open enemy. Amongst your many splendid government connexions, could not you, think you, get our Bibulus made a Consul? or make me one, that I may make him my Vice. You may be assured that, in case of accidents in Italy, he would be no feeble adjunct,—as you would think, if you knew his patrimony.

“What is all this about Tom Moore? but why do I ask? since the state of my own affairs would not permit me to be of use to him, though they are greatly improved since 1816, and may, with some more luck and a little prudence, become quite clear. It seems his claimants are American merchants? There goes Nemesis! Moore abused America. It is always thus in the long run:—Time, the Avenger. You have seen every trampler down, in turn, from Buonaparte to the simplest individuals. You saw how some were avenged even upon my insignificance, and how in turn * * * paid for his atrocity. It is an odd world; but the watch has its mainspring, after all.

“So the Prince has been repealing Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s forfeiture? Ecco unsonetto!

“To be the father of the fatherless,
To stretch the hand from the throne’s height, and raise
His offspring, who expired in other days
To make thy sire’s sway by a kingdom less,—
This is to be a monarch, and repress
Envy into unutterable praise.
Dismiss thy guard, and trust thee to such traits,
For who would lift a hand, except to bless?
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 235
Were it not easy, Sir, and is ’t not sweet
To make thyself beloved? and to be
Omnipotent by Mercy’s means? for thus
Thy sovereignty would grow but more complete,
A despot thou, and yet thy people free,
And by the heart, not hand, enslaving us.

“There, you dogs! there’s a sonnet for you: you won’t have such as that in a hurry from Mr. Fitzgerald. You may publish it with my name, an’ ye wool. He deserves all praise, bad and good; it was a very noble piece of principality. Would you like an epigram—a translation?

“If for silver, or for gold,
You could melt ten thousand pimples
Into half a dozen dimples,
Then your face we might behold,
Looking, doubtless, much more snugly,
Yet ev’n then ’twould be d—d ugly.

“This was written on some Frenchwoman, by Rulhieres, I believe.

“Bologna, August 23d, 1819.

I send you a letter to R * * ts, signed ‘Wortley Clutterbuck,’ which you may publish in what form you please, in answer to his article. I have had many proofs of men’s absurdity, but he beats all in folly. Why, the wolf in sheep’s clothing has tumbled into the very trap! We’ll strip him. The letter is written in great haste, and amidst a thousand vexations. Your letter only came yesterday, so that there is no time to polish: the post goes out to-morrow. The date is ‘Little Pidlington.’ Let * * * * correct the press: he knows and can read the handwriting. Continue to keep the anonymous about ‘Juan;’ it helps us to fight against overwhelming numbers. I have a thousand
236 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
distractions at present; so excuse haste, and wonder I can act or write at all. Answer by post, as usual.


“P.S. If I had had time, and been quieter and nearer, I would have cut him to hash; but as it is, you can judge for yourselves.”

The letter to the Reviewer, here mentioned, had its origin in rather an amusing circumstance. In the First Canto of Don Juan appeared the following passage.

“For fear some prudish readers should grow skittish,
I’ve bribed My Grandmother’s Review,—the British!
“I sent it in a letter to the editor,
Who thank’d me duly by return of post—
I’m for a handsome article his creditor;
Yet if my gentle Muse he please to roast
And break a promise after having made it her,
Denying the receipt of what it cost,
And smear his page with gall instead of honey,
All I can say is—that he had the money.”

On the appearance of the Poem, the learned editor of the Review in question allowed himself to be decoyed into the ineffable absurdity of taking the charge as serious, and, in his succeeding number, came forth with an indignant contradiction of it. To this tempting subject the letter, written so hastily off at Bologna, related; but, though printed for Mr. Murray, in a pamphlet consisting of twenty-three pages, it was never published*. Being valuable, however, as one of the best specimens we have of Lord Byron’s simple and thoroughly English prose, I shall here preserve some extracts from it.



“As a believer in the Church of England—to say nothing of the State—I have been an occasional reader, and great admirer, though not

* It has appeared, however, I understand, in some of the foreign editions of his lordship’s works.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 237
a subscriber to your Review. But I do not know that any article of its contents ever gave me much surprise till the eleventh of your late twenty-seventh number made its appearance. You have there most manfully refuted a calumnious accusation of bribery and corruption, the credence of which in the public mind might not only have damaged your reputation as a clergyman and an editor, but, what would have been still worse, have injured the circulation of your journal; which, I regret to hear, is not so extensive as the ‘purity (as you well observe) of its, &c. &c.’ and the present taste for propriety, would induce us to expect. The charge itself is of a solemn nature, and, although in verse, is couched in terms of such circumstantial gravity as to induce a belief little short of that generally accorded to the thirty-nine articles, to which you so generously subscribed on taking your degrees. It is a charge the most revolting to the heart of man from its frequent occurrence; to the mind of a statesman from its occasional truth; and to the soul of an editor from its moral impossibility. You are charged then in the last line of one octave stanza, and the whole eight lines of the next, viz. 209th and 210th of the First Canto of that ‘pestilent poem,’
Don Juan, with receiving, and still more foolishly acknowledging, the receipt of certain monies to eulogize the unknown author, who by this account must be known to you, if to nobody else. An impeachment of this nature, so seriously made, there is but one way of refuting; and it is my firm persuasion, that whether you did or did not (and I believe that you did not) receive the said moneys, of which I wish that he had specified the sum, you are quite right in denying all knowledge of the transaction. If charges of this nefarious description are to go forth, sanctioned by all the solemnity of circumstance, and guarantied by the veracity of verse (as Counsellor Phillips would say), what is to become of readers hitherto implicitly confident in the not less veracious prose of our critical journals? what is to become of the reviews; and, if the reviews fail, what is to become of the editors? It is common cause, and you have done well to sound the alarm. I myself, in my humble sphere, will be one of your echoes. In the words of the tragedian Liston, ‘I love a row,’ and you seem justly determined to make one.

“It is barely possible, certainly improbable, that the writer might
238 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
have been in jest; but this only aggravates his crime. A joke, the proverb says, ‘breaks no bones;’ but it may break a bookseller, or it may be the cause of bones being broken. The jest is but a bad one at the best for the author, and might have been a still worse one for you, if your copious contradiction did not certify to all whom it may concern your own indignant innocence, and the immaculate purity of the British Review. I do not doubt your word, my dear
R—ts, yet I cannot help wishing that in a case of such vital importance, it had assumed the more substantial shape of an affidavit sworn before the Lord Mayor Atkins, who readily receives any deposition; and doubtless would have brought it in some way as evidence of the designs of the Reformers to set fire to London, at the same time that he himself meditates the same good office towards the river Thames.

* * * * * *

“I recollect hearing, soon after the publication, this subject discussed at the tea-table of Mr. * * * the poet,—and Mrs. and the Misses * * * * * being in a corner of the room perusing the proof sheets of Mr. * * *’s poems, the male part of the conversazione were at liberty to make some observations on the poem and passage in question, and there was a difference of opinion. Some thought the allusion was to the ‘British Critic;’ others, that by the expression, ‘My Grandmother’s Review,’ it was intimated that ‘my grandmother’ was not the reader of the review, but actually the writer; thereby insinuating, my dear Mr. R— ts, that you were an old woman; because, as people often say, ‘Jeffrey’s Review, ‘Gifford’s Review,’ in lieu of Edinburgh and Quarterly, so ‘My Grandmother’s Review’ and R—ts’s might be also synonymous. Now, whatever colour this insinuation might derive from the circumstance of your wearing a gown, as well as from your time of life, your general style, and various passages of your writings,—I will take upon myself to exculpate you from all suspicion of the kind, and assert, without calling Mrs. R—ts in testimony, that if ever you should be chosen Pope, you will pass through all the previous ceremonies with as much credit as any pontiff since the parturition of Joan. It is very unfair to judge of sex from writings, particularly from those of the British Review. We are all liable to be deceived, and it is an indisputable fact that many of the
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 239
best articles in your journal, which were attributed to a veteran female, were actually written by you yourself, and yet to this day there are people who could never find out the difference. But let us return to the more immediate question.

“I agree with you that it is impossible Lord B. should be the author, not only because, as a British peer and a British poet, it would be impracticable for him to have recourse to such facetious fiction, but for some other reasons which you have omitted to state. In the first place, his lordship has no grandmother. Now the author—and we may believe him in this—doth expressly state that the ‘British’ is his ‘Grandmother’s Review;’ and if, as I think I have distinctly proved, this was not a mere figurative allusion to your supposed intellectual age and sex, my dear friend, it follows, whether you be she or no, that there is such an elderly lady still extant.

* * * * * *

“Shall I give you what I think a prudent opinion? I don’t mean to insinuate, God forbid! but if, by any accident, there should have been such a correspondence between you and the unknown author, whoever he may be, send him back his money; I dare say he will be very glad to have it again; it can’t be much, considering the value of the article and the circulation of the journal; and you are too modest to rate your praise beyond its real worth:—don’t be angry, I know you won’t, at this appraisement of your powers of eulogy; for on the other hand, my dear fellow, depend upon it your abuse is worth, not its own weight, that’s a feather, but your weight in gold. So don’t spare it; if he has bargained for that, give it handsomely, and depend upon your doing him a friendly office.

* * * * * *

“What the motives of this writer may have been for (as you magnificently translate his quizzing you) ‘stating, with the particularity which belongs to fact, the forgery of a groundless fiction,’ (do, pray, my dear R., talk a little less ‘in King Cambyses’ vein’) I cannot pretend to say; perhaps to laugh at you, but that is no reason for your benevolently making all the world laugh also. I approve of your being angry, I tell
240 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
you I am angry too, but you should not have shown it so outrageously. Your solemn ‘if somebody personating the Editor of the, &c. &c. has received from Lord B. or from any other person,’ reminds me of
Charley Incledon’s usual exordium when people came into the tavern to hear him sing without paying their share of the reckoning—‘if a maun, or ony maun, or ony other maun,’ &c. &c.; you have both the same redundant eloquence. But why should you think any body would personate you? Nobody would dream of such a prank who ever read your compositions, and perhaps not many who have heard your conversation. But I have been inoculated with a little of your prolixity. The fact is, my dear R—ts, that somebody has tried to make a fool of you, and what he did not succeed in doing, you have done for him and for yourself.”

Towards the latter end of August, Count Guiccioli, accompanied by his lady, went for a short time to visit some of his Romagnese estates, while Lord Byron remained at Bologna alone. And here, with a heart softened and excited by the new feeling that had taken possession of him, he appears to have given himself up, during this interval of solitude, to a train of melancholy and impassioned thought such as, for a time, brought back all the romance of his youthful days. That spring of natural tenderness within his soul, which neither the world’s efforts nor his own had been able to chill or choke up, was now, with something of its first freshness, set flowing once more. He again knew what it was to love and be loved,—too late, it is true, for happiness, and too wrongly for peace, but with devotion enough, on the part of the woman, to satisfy even his thirst for affection, and with a sad earnestness, on his own, a foreboding fidelity, which made him cling but the more passionately to this attachment from feeling that it would be his last.

A circumstance which he himself used to mention as having occurred at this period will show how overpowering, at times, was the rush of melancholy over his heart. It was his fancy, during Madame Guiccioli’s absence from Bologna, to go daily her house at his usual hour of visiting her, and there, causing her apartments to be opened, to
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 241
sit turning over her books, and writing in them. He would then descend into her garden, where he passed hours in musing; and it was on an occasion of this kind, as he stood looking, in a state of unconscious reverie, into one of those fountains so common in the gardens of Italy, that there came suddenly into his mind such desolate fancies, such bodings of the misery he might bring on her he loved, by that doom which (as he has himself written) “makes it fatal to be loved†,” that, overwhelmed with his own thoughts, he burst into an agony of tears.

During the same few days it was that he wrote in the last page of Madame Guiccioli’s copy of “Corinne” the following remarkable note:—

“My dearest Teresa,—I have read this book in your garden;—my love, you were absent, or else I could not have read it. It is a favourite book of yours, and the writer was a friend of mine. You will not understand these English words, and others will not understand them,—which is the reason I have not scrawled them in Italian. But you will recognize the handwriting of him who passionately loved you, and you will divine that, over a book which was yours, he could only think of love. In that word, beautiful in all languages, but most so in yours—Amor mio—is comprised my existence here and hereafter. I feel I exist

* One of these notes, written at the end of the 5th chapter, 18th book of Corinne (“Fragmens des Pensées de Corinne”) is as follows:—

“I knew Madame de Staël well,—better than she knew Italy,—but I little thought that, one day, I should think with her thoughts, in the country where she has laid the scene of her most attractive productions. She is sometimes right, and often wrong, about Italy and England; but almost always true in delineating the heart, which is of but one nation, and of no country,—or, rather, of all.


“Bologna, August 23, 1819.”

† “Oh Love! what is it, in this world of ours,
Which makes it fatal to be loved? ah, why
With cypress branches hast thou wreath’d thy bowers,
And made thy best interpreter a sigh?
As those who dote on odours pluck the flowers,
And place them on their breasts—but place to die—
Thus the frail beings we would fondly cherish
Are laid within our bosoms but to perish.”

242 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
here, and I fear that I shall exist hereafter,—to what purpose you will decide; my destiny rests with you, and you are a woman, eighteen years of age, and two out of a convent. I wish that you had staid there, with all my heart,—or, at least, that I had never met you in your married state.

“But all this is too late. I love you, and you love me,—at least, you say so, and act as if you did so, which last is a great consolation in all events. But I more than love you, and cannot cease to love you.

“Think of me, sometimes, when the Alps and the ocean divide us,—but they never will, unless you wish it.

“Bologna, August 25, 1819.”
“Bologna, August 24, 1819.

“I wrote to you by last post, enclosing a buffooning letter for publication, addressed to the buffoon R——ts, who has thought proper to tie a canister to his own tail. It was written off-hand, and in the midst of circumstances not very favourable to facetiousness, so that there may, perhaps, be more bitterness than enough for that sort of small acid punch:—you will tell me.

“Keep the anonymous, in any case: it helps what fun there may be. But if the matter grows serious about Don Juan, and you feel yourself in a scrape, or me either, own that I am the author. I will never shrink; and if you do, I can always answer you in the question of Guatimozin to his minister—each being on his own coals*.

“I wish that I had been in better spirits; but I am out of sorts, out of nerves, and now and then (I begin to fear) out of my senses. All this Italy has done for me, and not England: I defy all you, and your climate to boot, to make me mad. But if ever I do really become a bedlamite, and wear a strait waistcoat, let me be brought back among you; your people will then be proper company.

* “Am I now reposing on a bed a flowers?”—See Robertson.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 243

“I assure you what I here say and feel has nothing to do with England, either in a literary or personal point of view. All my present pleasures or plagues are as Italian as the opera. And after all, they are but trifles; for all this arises from my ‘Dama’s’ being in the country for three days (at Capo-fiume). But as I could never live but for one human being at a time (and, I assure you, that one has never been myself, as you may know by the consequences, for the selfish are successful in life), I feel alone and unhappy.

“I have sent for my daughter from Venice, and I ride daily, and walk in a garden, under a purple canopy of grapes, and sit by a fountain, and talk with the gardener of his tools, which seem greater than Adam’s, and with his wife, and with his son’s wife, who is the youngest of the party, and, I think, talks best of the three. Then I revisit the Campo Santo, and my old friend, the sexton, has two—but one the prettiest daughter imaginable; and I amuse myself with contrasting her beautiful and innocent face of fifteen with the skulls with which he has peopled several cells, and particularly with that of one skull dated 1766, which was once covered (the tradition goes) by the most lovely features of Bologna—noble and rich. When I look at these, and at this girl—when I think of what they were, and what she must be—why, then, my dear Murray, I won’t shock you by saying what I think. It is little matter what becomes of us ‘bearded men,’ but I don’t like the notion of a beautiful woman’s lasting less than a beautiful tree—than her own picture—her own shadow, which won’t change so to the sun as her face to the mirror.—I must leave off, for my head aches consumedly. I have never been quite well since the night of the representation of Alfieri’s Mirra, a fortnight ago. “Yours ever.”

“Bologna, August 29, 1819.

“I have been in a rage these two days, and am still bilious therefrom. You shall hear. A captain of dragoons, * *, Hanoverian
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by birth, in the Papal troops at present, whom I had obliged by a loan when nobody would lend him a paul, recommended a horse to me, on sale by a
Lieutenant * *, an officer who unites the sale of cattle to the purchase of men. I bought it. The next day, on shoeing the horse, we discovered the thrush,—the animal being warranted sound. I sent to reclaim the contract and the money. The lieutenant desired to speak with me in person. I consented. He came. It was his own particular request. He began a story. I asked him if he would return the money. He said no—but he would exchange. He asked an exorbitant price for his other horses. I told him that he was a thief. He said he was an officer and a man of honour, and pulled out a Parmesan passport signed by General Count Neifperg. I answered, that as he was an officer, I would treat him as such; and that as to his being a gentleman, he might prove it by returning the money: as for his Parmesan passport, I should have valued it more if it had been a Parmesan cheese. He answered in high terms, and said that if it were in the morning (it was about eight o’clock in the evening) he would have satisfaction. I then lost my temper ‘As for that,’ I replied, ‘you shall have it directly,—it will be mutual satisfaction, I can assure you. You are a thief, and, as you say, an officer; my pistols are in the next room loaded; take one of the candles, examine, and make your choice of weapons.’ He replied that pistols were English weapons; he always fought with the sword. I told him that I was able to accommodate him, having three regimental swords in a drawer near us; and he might take the longest and put himself on guard.

“All this passed in presence of a third person. He then said No, but to-morrow morning he would give me the meeting at any time or place. I answered that it was not usual to appoint meetings in the presence of witnesses, and that we had best speak man to man, and appoint time and instruments. But as the man present was leaving the room, the Lieutenant * *, before he could shut the door after him, ran out roaring ‘help and murder’ most lustily, and fell into a sort of hysteric in the arms of about fifty people, who all saw that I had no weapon of any sort or kind about me, and followed him, asking him
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what the devil was the matter with him. Nothing would do: he ran away without his hat, and went to bed, ill of the fright. He then tried his complaint at the police, which dismissed it as frivolous. He is, I believe, gone away, or going.

“The horse was warranted, but, I believe, so worded that the villain will not be obliged to refund, according to law. He endeavoured to raise up an indictment of assault and battery, but as it was in a public inn, in a frequented street, there were too many witnesses to the contrary; and, as a military man, he has not cut a martial figure, even in the opinion of the priests. He ran off in such a hurry that he left his hat, and never missed it till he got to his hostel or inn. The facts are as I tell you, I can assure you. He began by ‘coming Captain Grand over me,’ or I should never have thought of trying his ‘cunning in fence.’ But what could I do? He talked of ‘honour, and satisfaction, and his commission;’ he produced a military passport; there are severe punishments for regular duels on the continent, and trifling ones for rencontres, so that it is best to fight it out directly; he had robbed, and then wanted to insult me;—what could I do? My patience was gone, and the weapons at hand, fair and equal. Besides, it was just after dinner, when my digestion was bad, and I don’t like to be disturbed. His friend * * is at Forli; we shall meet on my way back to Ravenna. The Hanoverian seems the greater rogue of the two; and if my valour does not ooze away like Acres’s—‘Odds flints and triggers!’ if it should be a rainy morning, and my stomach in disorder, there may be something for the obituary.

“Now pray, ‘Sir Lucius, do not you look upon me as a very ill-used gentleman?’ I send my Lieutenant to match Mr. Hobhouse’s Major Cartwright: and so ‘good morrow to you, good master Lieutenant.’ With regard to other things, I will write soon, but I have been quarrelling and fooling till I can scribble no more.”

In the month of September, Count Guiccioli, being called away by business to Ravenna, left his young Countess and her lover to the free enjoyment of each other’s society at Bologna. The lady’s ill health, which had been the cause of her thus remaining behind, was thought
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soon after to require the still further advantage of a removal to Venice, and the Count, her husband, being written to on the subject, consented, with the most complaisant readiness, that she should proceed thither in company with Lord Byron. “Some business” (says the lady’s own Memoir) “having called Count Guiccioli to Ravenna, I was obliged by the state of my health, instead of accompanying him, to return to Venice, and he consented that Lord Byron should be the companion of my journey. We left Bologna on the fifteenth of September; we visited the Euganean Hills and Arquà, and wrote our names in the book which is presented to those who make this pilgrimage. But I cannot linger over these recollections of happiness;—the contrast with the present is too dreadful. If a blessed spirit, while in the full enjoyment of heavenly happiness, were sent down to this earth to suffer all its miseries, the contrast could not be more dreadful between the past and the present, than what I have endured from the moment when that terrible word reached my ears, and I for ever lost the hope of again beholding him, one look from whom I valued beyond all earth’s happiness. When I arrived at Venice, the physicians ordered that I should try the country air, and Lord Byron, having a villa at La Mira gave it up to me, and came to reside there with me. At this place we passed the autumn, and there I had the pleasure of forming your acquaintance*.”

It was my good fortune, at this period, in the course of a short and hasty tour through the north of Italy, to pass five or six days

* “Il Conte Guiccioli doveva per affari ritornare a Ravenna; lo stato della mia salute esiggeva che io ritornassi in vece a Venezia. Egli acconsenti dunque che Lord Byron, mi fosse compagno di viaggio. Partimmo da Bologna alli 15 di Sre.—visitammo insieme i Colli Euganei ed Arquà; scrivemmo i nostri nomi nel libro che si presenta a quelli che fanno quel pellegrinaggio. Ma sopra tali rimembranze di felicità non posso fermarmi, caro Signr. Moore; l’opposizione col presente é troppo forte, e se un anima benedetta nel pieno godimento di tutte le felicità celesti fosse mandata quaggiù e condannata a sopportare tutte le miserie della nostra terra non potrebbe sentire più terribile contrasto frà il passato ed il presente di quello che io sento dacchè quella terribile parola è giunta alle mie orecchie, dacchè ho perduto la speranza di più vedere quello di cui uno sguardo valeva per me più di tutte le fellcità della terra. Giunti a Venezia i medici mi ordinarono di respirare l’aria della campagna. Egli aveva una villa alla Mira,—la cedesse a me, e venne meco. Là passammo l’autunno, e là ebbi il bene di fare la vostra conoscenza.”—MS.

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with Lord Byron at Venice. I had written to him on my way thither to announce my coming, and to say how happy it would make me could I tempt him to accompany me as far as Rome.

During my stay at Geneva, an opportunity had been afforded me of observing the exceeding readiness with which even persons the least disposed to be prejudiced gave an ear to any story relating to Lord Byron, in which the proper portions of odium and romance were but plausibly mingled. In the course of conversation, one day, with the late amiable and enlightened Monsieur D * *, that gentleman related, with much feeling, to my fellow-traveller and myself, the details of a late act of seduction of which Lord Byron had, he said, been guilty, and which was made to comprise within itself all the worst features of such unmanly frauds upon innocence;—the victim, a young unmarried lady, of one of the first families of Venice, whom the noble seducer had lured from her father’s house to his own, and, after a few weeks, most inhumanly turned her out of doors. In vain, said the relater, did she entreat to become his servant, his slave;—in vain did she ask to remain in some dark corner of his mansion, from which she might be able to catch a glimpse of his form as he passed. Her betrayer was obdurate, and the unfortunate young lady, in despair at being thus abandoned by him, threw herself into the canal, from which she was taken out but to be consigned to a mad-house. Though convinced that there must be considerable exaggeration in this story, it was only on my arrival at Venice I ascertained that the whole was a romance; and that out of the circumstances (already laid before the reader) connected with Lord Byron’s fantastic and, it must be owned, discreditable fancy for the Fornarina, this pathetic tale, so implicitly believed at Geneva, was fabricated.

Having parted, at Milan, with Lord John Russell, whom I had accompanied from England, and whom I was to rejoin, after a short visit to Rome, at Genoa, I made purchase of a small and (as it soon proved) crazy travelling carriage, and proceeded alone on my way to Venice. My time being limited, I stopped no longer at the intervening places than was sufficient to hurry over their respective wonders, and, leaving
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Padua at noon on the 8th of October, I found myself, about two o’clock, at the door of my friend’s villa, at La Mira. He was but just up, and in his bath; but the servant having announced my arrival, he returned a message that, if I would wait till he was dressed, he would accompany me to Venice. The interval I employed in conversing with my old acquaintance,
Fletcher, and in viewing, under his guidance, some of the apartments of the villa.

It was not long before Lord Byron himself made his appearance, and the delight I felt in meeting him once more, after a separation of so many years, was not a little heightened by observing that his pleasure was, to the full, as great, while it was rendered doubly touching by the evident rarity of such meetings to him of late, and the frank outbreak of cordiality and gaiety with which he gave way to his feelings. It would be impossible, indeed, to convey to those who have not, at some time or other, felt the charm of his manner, any idea of what it could be when under the influence of such pleasurable excitement as it was most flatteringly evident he experienced at this moment.

I was a good deal struck, however, by the alteration that had taken place in his personal appearance. He had grown fatter both in person and face, and the latter had most suffered by the change,—having lost, by the enlargement of the features, some of that refined and spiritualized look that had, in other times, distinguished it. The addition of whiskers, too, which he had not long before been induced to adopt, from hearing that some one had said he had a “faccia di musico,” as well as the length to which his hair grew down on his neck, and the rather foreign air of his coat and cap,—all combined to produce that dissimilarity to his former self I had observed in him. He was still, however, eminently handsome; and, in exchange for whatever his features might have lost of their high, romantic character, they had become more fitted for the expression of that arch, waggish wisdom, that Epicurean play of humour, which he had shown to be equally inherent in his various and prodigally gifted nature; while, by the somewhat increased roundness of the contours, the resemblance of his finely formed mouth and chin to those of the Belvedere Apollo had become still more striking.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 249

His breakfast, which I found he rarely took before three or four o’clock in the afternoon, was speedily despatched,—his habit being to eat it standing, and the meal in general consisting of one or two raw eggs, a cup of tea without either milk or sugar, and a bit of dry biscuit. Before we took our departure, he presented me to the Countess Guiccioli, who was at this time, as my readers already know, living under the same roof with him at La Mira; and who, with a style of beauty singular in an Italian, as being fair-complexioned and delicate, left an impression upon my mind, during this our first short interview, of intelligence and amiableness such as all that I have since known or heard of her has but served to confirm.

We now started together, Lord Byron and myself, in my little Milanese vehicle, for Fusina,—his portly gondolier Tita, in a rich livery and most redundant mustachios, having seated himself on the front of the carriage, to the no small trial of its strength, which had already once given way, even under my own weight, between Verona and Vicenza. On our arrival at Fusina, my noble friend, from his familiarity with all the details of the place, had it in his power to save me both trouble and expense in the different arrangements relative to the custom-house, remise, &c.; and the good-natured assiduity with which he bustled about in despatching these matters gave me an opportunity of observing, in his use of the infirm limb, a much greater degree of activity than I had ever before, except in sparring, witnessed.

As we proceeded across the Lagoon in his gondola, the sun was just setting, and it was an evening such as Romance would have chosen for a first sight of Venice, rising “with her tiara of bright towers” above the wave; while, to complete, as might be imagined, the solemn interest of the scene, I beheld it in company with him who had lately given a new life to its glories, and sung of that fair City of the Sea thus grandly:

“I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying glory smiles
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O’er the far times, when many a subject land
Look’d to the winged lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles.”

But, whatever emotions the first sight of such a scene might, under other circumstances, have inspired me with, the mood of mind in which I now viewed it was altogether the very reverse of what might have been expected. The exuberant gaiety of my companion, and the recollections,—any thing but romantic,—into which our conversation wandered, put at once completely to flight all poetical and historical associations; and our course was, I am almost ashamed to say, one of uninterrupted merriment and laughter till we found ourselves at the steps of my friend’s palazzo on the Grand Canal. All that had ever happened, of gay or ridiculous, during our London life together,—his scrapes and my lecturings,—our joint adventures with the Bores and Blues, the two great enemies, as he always called them, of London happiness,—our joyous nights together at Watier’s, Kinnaird’s, &c. and “that d—d supper of Rancliffe’s which ought to have been a dinner,”—all was passed rapidly in review between us, and with a flow of humour and hilarity, on his side, of which it would have been difficult, even for persons far graver than I can pretend to be, not to have caught the contagion.

He had all along expressed his determination that I should not go to any hotel, but fix my quarters at his house during the period of my stay; and, had he been residing there himself, such an arrangement would have been all that I most desired. But, this not being the case, a common hotel was, I thought, a far readier resource; and I therefore entreated that he would allow me to order an apartment at the Gran Bretagna, which had the reputation, I understood, of being a comfortable hotel. This, however, he would not hear of; and, as an inducement for me to agree to his plan, said that, as long as I chose to stay, though he should be obliged to return to La Mira in the evenings, he would make it a point to come to Venice every day and dine with me. As we now turned into the dismal canal, and stopped before his damp-looking mansion, my predilection for the Gran Bretagna returned in full force; and I again ventured to hint that it would save an abundance of
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trouble to let me proceed thither. But “No—no,” he answered,—“I see you think you’ll be very uncomfortable here; but you’ll find that it is not quite so bad as you expect.”

As I groped my way after him through the dark hall, he cried out, “Keep clear of the dog;” and before we had proceeded many paces farther, “Take care, or that monkey will fly at you;”—a curious proof, among many others, of his fidelity to all the tastes of his youth, as it agrees perfectly with the description of his life at Newstead, in 1809, and of the sort of menagerie which his visitors had then to encounter in their progress through his hall. Having escaped these dangers, I followed him up the staircase to the apartment destined for me. All this time he had been despatching servants in various directions,—one, to procure me a laquais de place; another to go in quest of Mr. Alexander Scott, to whom he wished to give me in charge; while a third was sent to order his Segretario to come to him. “So, then, you keep a Secretary?” I said. “Yes,” he answered, “a fellow who can’t write*—but such are the names these pompous people give to things.”

When we had reached the door of the apartment it was discovered to be locked, and, to all appearance, had been so for some time, as the key could not be found;—a circumstance which, to my English apprehension, naturally connected itself with notions of damp and desolation, and I again sighed inwardly for the Gran Bretagna. Impatient at the delay of the key, my noble host, with one of his humorous maledictions, gave a vigorous kick to the door and burst it open; on which we at once entered into an apartment not only spacious and elegant, but wearing an aspect of comfort and habitableness which to a traveller’s eye is as welcome as it is rare. “Here,” he said, in a voice whose every tone spoke kindness and hospitality,—“these are the rooms I use myself, and here I mean to establish you.”

He had ordered dinner from some Tratteria, and while waiting its arrival—as well as that of Mr. Alexander Scott, whom he had invited to join us—we stood out on the balcony, in order that, before the daylight

* The title of Segretario is sometimes given, as in this case, to a head-servant or house-steward.

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was quite gone, I might have some glimpses of the scene which the Canal presented. Happening to remark, in looking up at the clouds, which were still bright in the west, that “what had struck me in Italian sunsets was that peculiar rosy hue—” I had hardly pronounced the word “rosy,” when Lord Byron, clapping his hand on my mouth, said, with a laugh, “Come, d—n it, Tom, don’t be poetical.” Among the few gondolas passing at the time, there was one at some distance, in which sate two gentlemen; who had the appearance of being English; and, observing them to look our way, Lord Byron, putting his arms a-kimbo, said with a sort of comic swagger, “Ah, if you, John Bulls, knew who the two fellows are, now standing up here, I think you would stare!”—I risk mentioning these things, though aware how they, may be turned against myself, for the sake of the otherwise indescribable traits of manner and character which they convey. After a very agreeable dinner, through which the jest, the story, and the laugh were almost uninterruptedly carried on, our noble host took leave of us to return to La Mira, while
Mr. Scott and I went to one of the theatres, to see the Ottavia of Alfieri.

The ensuing evenings, during my stay, were passed much in the same manner,—my mornings being devoted, under the kind superintendence of Mr. Scott, to a hasty and, I fear, unprofitable view of the treasures of art with which Venice abounds. On the subjects of painting and sculpture Lord Byron has, in several of his letters, expressed strongly and, as to most persons will appear, heretically his opinions. In his want, however, of a due appreciation of these arts, he but resembled some of his great precursors in the field of poetry;—both Tasso and Milton, for example, having evinced so little tendency to such tastes*, that, through-

* That this was the case with Milton is acknowledged by Richardson, who admired both Milton and the Arts too warmly to make such an admission upon any but valid grounds. “He does not appear,” says this writer, “to have much regarded what was done with the pencil; no, not even when in Italy, in Rome, in the Vatican. Neither does it seem Sculpture was much esteemed by him.” After an authority like this, the theories of Hayley and others, with respect to the impressions left upon Milton’s mind by the works of art he had seen in Italy, are hardly worth a thought.

Though it may be conceded that Dante was an admirer of the arts, his recommendation of the Apocalypse to Giotto, as a source of subjects for the pencil, shows, at least, what indifferent judges poets are, in general, of the sort of fancies fittest to be embodied by the painter.

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out the whole of their pages, there is not, I fear, one single allusion to any of those great masters of the pencil and chisel, whose works, nevertheless, both had seen. That Lord Byron, though despising the imposture and jargon with which the worship of the Arts is, like other worships, clogged and mystified, felt deeply, more especially in sculpture, whatever imaged forth true grace and energy, appears from passages of his poetry which are in every body’s memory, and not a line of which but thrills alive with a sense of grandeur and beauty such as it never entered into the capacity of a mere connoisseur even to conceive.

In reference to this subject, as we were conversing one day after dinner about the various collections I had visited that morning, on my saying that fearful as I was, at all times, of praising any picture, lest I should draw upon myself the connoisseur’s sneer for my pains, I would yet, to him, venture to own that I had seen a picture at Milan which—“The Hagar!” he exclaimed, eagerly interrupting me; and it was in fact this very picture I was about to mention as having wakened in me, by the truth of its expression, more real emotion than any I had yet seen among the chefs-d’œuvre of Venice. It was with no small degree of pride and pleasure I now discovered that my noble friend had felt equally with myself the affecting mixture of sorrow and reproach with which the woman’s eyes tell the whole story in that picture.

On the second evening of my stay, Lord Byron having, as before, left us for La Mira, I most willingly accepted the offer of Mr. Scott to introduce me to the conversazioni of the two celebrated ladies, with whose names, as leaders of Venetian fashion, the tourists to Italy have made every body acquainted. To the Countess A * *’s parties Lord Byron had chiefly confined himself during the first winter he passed at Venice; but the tone of conversation at these small meetings being much too learned for his tastes, he was induced, the following year, to discontinue his attendance at them, and chose, in preference, the less erudite, but more easy, society of the Countess B * *. Of the sort of learning sometimes displayed by the “blue” visitants at Madame A * *’s, a circumstance mentioned by the noble poet himself may afford some idea. The conversation happening to turn, one evening, upon the statue of Washington, by Canova, which had been just shipped off for the
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United States, Madame A * *, who was then engaged in compiling a Description Raisonnée of Canova’s works, and was anxious for information respecting the subject of this statue, requested that some of her learned guests would detail to her all they knew of him. This task a Signor * * (author of a book on Geography and Statistics) undertook to perform, and, after some other equally sage and authentic details, concluded by informing her that “Washington was killed in a duel by
Burke.”—“What,” exclaimed Lord Byron, as he stood biting his lips with impatience during this conversation, “what, in the name of folly, are you all thinking of?”—for he now recollected the famous duel between Hamilton and Colonel Burr, whom, it was evident, this learned worthy had confounded with Washington and Burke!

In addition to the motives easily conceivable for exchanging such a society for one that offered, at least, repose from such erudite efforts, there was also another cause more immediately leading to the discontinuance of his visits to Madame A * *. This lady, who has been sometimes honoured with the title of “the De Staël of Italy” had written a book called “Portraits,” containing sketches of the characters of various persons of note; and it being her intention to introduce Lord Byron into this assemblage, she had it intimated to his lordship that an article in which his portraiture had been attempted was to appear in a new edition she was about to publish of her work. It was expected, of course, that this intimation would awaken in him some desire to see the sketch; but, on the contrary, he was provoking enough not to manifest the least symptoms of curiosity. Again and again was the same hint, with as little success, conveyed; till, at length, on finding that no impression could be produced in this manner, a direct offer was made, in Madame A * *’s own name, to submit the article to his perusal. He could now contain himself no longer. With more sincerity than politeness, he returned for answer to the lady, that he was by no means ambitious of appearing in her work; that, from the shortness, as well as the distant nature of their acquaintance, it was impossible she could have qualified herself to be his portrait-painter, and that, in short, she could not oblige him more than by committing the article to the flames.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 255

Whether the tribute thus unceremoniously treated ever met the eyes of Lord Byron, I know not; but he could hardly, I think, had he seen it, have escaped a slight touch of remorse at having thus spurned from him a portrait drawn in no unfriendly spirit, and, though affectedly expressed, seizing some of the less obvious features of his character,—as, for instance, that diffidence so little to be expected from a career like his,—with the discriminating niceness of a female hand. The following are extracts from this Portrait:—

“‘Toi, dont le monde encore ignore le vrai nom,
Esprit mysterieux, Mortel, Ange, ou Démon,
Qui que tu sois, Byron, bon ou fatal geêie,
J’aime de tes conceits la sauvage harmonie.’

“It would be to little purpose to dwell upon the mere beauty of a countenance in which the expression of an extraordinary mind was so conspicuous. What serenity was seated on the forehead, adorned with the finest chestnut hair, light, curling, and disposed with such art, that the art was hidden in the imitation of most pleasing nature! What varied expression in his eyes! They were of the azure colour of the heavens, from which they seemed to derive their origin. His teeth, in form, in colour, and transparency, resembled pearls; but his cheeks were too delicately tinged with the hue of the pale rose. His neck, which he was in the habit of keeping uncovered as much as the usages of society permitted, seemed to have been formed in a mould, and was very white. His hands were as beautiful as if they had been the works of art. His figure left nothing to be desired, particularly by those who found rather a grace than a defect in a certain light and gentle undulation of the person when he entered a room, and of which you hardly felt tempted to inquire the cause. Indeed it was scarcely perceptible,—the clothes he wore were so long.

“He was never seen to walk through the streets of Venice nor along the pleasant banks of the Brenta, where he spent some weeks of the summer; and there are some who assert that he has never seen, excepting from a window, the wonders of the ‘Piazza di San Marco;’—so powerful
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in him was the desire of not showing himself to be deformed in any part of his person. I, however, believe that he has often gazed on those wonders, but in the late and solitary hours when the stupendous edifices which surrounded him, illuminated by the soft and placid light of the moon, appeared a thousand times more lovely.

“His face appeared tranquil like the ocean on a fine spring morning; but, like it, in an instant became changed into the tempestuous and terrible, if a passion, (a passion did I say?) a thought, a word, occurred to disturb his mind. His eyes then lost all their sweetness, and sparkled so that it became difficult to look on them. So rapid a change would not have been thought possible; but it was impossible to avoid acknowledging that the natural state of his mind was the tempestuous.

“What delighted him greatly one day annoyed him the next; and whenever he appeared constant in the practice of any habits, it arose merely from the indifference, not to say contempt, in which he held them all: whatever they might be, they were not worthy that he should occupy his thoughts with them. His heart was highly sensitive, and suffered itself to be governed in an extraordinary degree by sympathy; but his imagination carried him away, and spoiled every thing. He believed in presages, and delighted in the recollection that he held this belief in common with Napoleon. It appeared that, in proportion as his intellectual education was cultivated, his moral education was neglected, and that he never suffered himself to know or observe other restraints than those imposed by his inclinations. Nevertheless, who could believe that he had a constant, and almost infantine timidity, of which the evidences were so apparent as to render its existence indisputable, notwithstanding the difficulty experienced in associating with Lord Byron a sentiment which had the appearance of modesty. Conscious as he was that, wherever he presented himself, all eyes were fixed on him, and all lips, particularly those of the women, were opened to say ‘There he is, that is Lord Byron,’—he necessarily found himself in the situation of an actor obliged to sustain a character, and to render an account, not to others (for about them he gave himself no concern), but to himself, of his every action and word. This occasioned him a feeling of uneasiness which was obvious to every one.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 257

“He remarked on a certain subject (which in 1814 was the topic of universal discourse) that ‘the world was worth neither the trouble taken in its conquest, nor the regret felt at its loss,’ which saying (if the worth of an expression could ever equal that of many and great actions) would almost show the thoughts and feelings of Lord Byron to be more stupendous and unmeasured than those of him respecting whom he spoke.

* * * * * *

“His gymnastic exercises were sometimes violent, and at others almost nothing. His body, like his spirit, readily accommodated itself to all his inclinations. During an entire winter, he went out every morning alone to row himself to the island of Armenians (a small island situated in the midst of a tranquil lake, and distant from Venice about half a league), to enjoy the society of those learned and hospitable monks, and to learn their difficult language; and, in the evening, entering again into his gondola, he went, but only for a couple of hours, into company. A second winter, whenever the water of the lake was violently agitated, he was observed to cross it, and landing on the nearest terra firma, to fatigue at least two horses with riding.

“No one ever heard him utter a word of French, although he was perfectly conversant with that language. He hated the nation and its modern literature; in like manner, he held the modern Italian literature in contempt, and said it possessed but one living author,—a restriction which I know not whether to term ridiculous, or false and injurious. His voice was sufficiently sweet and flexible. He spoke with much suavity, if not contradicted, but rather addressed himself to his neighbour than to the entire company.

“Very little food sufficed him; and he preferred fish to flesh for this extraordinary reason, that the latter, he said, rendered him ferocious. He disliked seeing women eat; and the cause of this extraordinary antipathy must be sought in the dread he always had, that the notion he loved to cherish of their perfection and almost divine nature might be disturbed. Having always been governed by them, it would seem that his very self-love was pleased to take refuge in the idea of their excellence,—a sentiment which he knew how (God knows how) to reconcile
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with the contempt in which, shortly afterwards, almost with the appearance of satisfaction, he seemed to hold them. But contradictions ought not to surprise us in characters like Lord Byron’s; and then, who does not know that the slave holds in detestation his ruler?

* * * * *

“Lord Byron disliked his countrymen, but only because he knew that his morals were held in contempt by them. The English, themselves rigid observers of family duties, could not pardon him the neglect of his, nor his trampling on principles; therefore neither did he like being presented to them, nor did they, especially when they had their wives with them, like to cultivate his acquaintance. Still there was a strong desire in all of them to see him, and the women in particular, who did not dare to look at him but by stealth, said in an under voice, ‘What a pity it is!’ If, however, any of his compatriots of exalted rank and of high reputation came forward to treat him with courtesy, he showed himself obviously flattered by it, and was greatly pleased with such association. It seemed that to the wound which remained always open in his ulcerated heart, such soothing attentions were as drops of healing balm, which comforted him.

“Speaking of his marriage,—a delicate subject, but one still agreeable to him, if it was treated in a friendly voice,—he was greatly moved, and said it had been the innocent cause of all his errors and all his griefs. Of his wife he spoke with much respect and affection. He said she was an illustrious lady, distinguished for the qualities of her heart and understanding, and that all the fault of their cruel separation lay with himself. Now, was such language dictated by justice or by vanity? Does it not bring to mind the saying of Julius, that the wife of Cæsar must not even be suspected? What vanity in that saying of Cæsar! In fact, if it had not been from vanity, Lord Byron would have admitted this to no one. Of his young daughter, his dear Ada, he spoke with great tenderness, and seemed to be pleased at the great sacrifice he had made in leaving her to comfort her mother. The intense hatred he bore his mother-in-law, and a sort of Euryclea of Lady Byron,—two women, to whose influence he, in a great measure, attributed her estrangement from him,—demonstrated clearly how painful the separation was to him,
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notwithstanding some bitter pleasantries which occasionally occur in his writings against her also, dictated rather by rancour than by indifference.”

* * * * * *

From the time of his misunderstanding with Madame A * * *, the visits of the noble poet were transferred to the house of the other great rallying point of Venetian society, Madame B * * *,—a lady in whose manners, though she had long ceased to be young, there still lingered much of that attaching charm, which a youth passed in successful efforts to please seldom fails to leave behind. That those powers of pleasing, too, were not yet gone, the fidelity of, at least, one devoted admirer testified; nor is she supposed to have thought it impossible that Lord Byron himself might yet be linked on at the end of that long chain of lovers, which had, through so many years, graced the triumphs of her beauty. If, however, there could have been, in any case, the slightest chance of such a conquest, she had herself completely frustrated it by introducing her distinguished visitor to Madame Guiccioli,—a step by which she at last lost, too, even the ornament of his presence at her parties, as in consequence of some slighting conduct on her part, towards his “Dama,” he discontinued his attendance at her evening assemblies, and at the time of my visit to Venice had given up society altogether.

I could soon collect, from the tone held respecting his conduct at Madame * * *’s, how subversive of all the morality of intrigue they considered the late step of which he had been guilty in withdrawing his acknowledged “Amica” from the protection of her husband, and placing her, at once, under the same roof with himself. “You must really (said the hostess herself to me) scold your friend;—till this unfortunate affair, he conducted himself so well!”—a eulogy on his previous moral conduct, which, when I reported it the following day to my noble host, provoked at once a smile and sigh from his lips.

The chief subject of our conversation, when alone, was his marriage, and the load of obloquy which it had brought upon him. He was most anxious to know the worst that had been alleged of his conduct, and as this was our first opportunity of speaking together on the subject, I did not hesitate to put his candour most searchingly to the proof, not only by
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enumerating the various charges I had heard brought against him by others, but by specifying such portions of these charges as I had been inclined to think not incredible myself. To all this he listened with patience, and answered with the most unhesitating frankness, laughing to scorn the tales of unmanly outrage related of him, but, at the same time, acknowledging that there had been in his conduct but too much to blame and regret, and stating one or two occasions, during his domestic life, when he had been irritated into letting “the breath of bitter words” escape him,—words, rather those of the unquiet spirit that possessed him than his own, and which he now evidently remembered with a degree of remorse and pain which might well have entitled them to be forgotten by others.

It was, at the same time, manifest, that, whatever admissions he might be inclined to make respecting his own delinquencies, the inordinate measure of the punishment dealt out to him had sunk deeply into his mind and, with the usual effect of such injustice, drove him also to be unjust himself;—so much so, indeed, as to impute to the quarter, to which he now traced all his ill fate, a feeling of fixed hostility to himself, which would not rest, he thought, even at his grave, but continue to persecute his memory as it was now embittering his life. So strong was this impression upon him, that during one of our few intervals of seriousness, he conjured me, by our friendship, if, as he both felt and hoped, I should survive him, not to let unmerited censure settle upon his name, but, while I surrendered him up to condemnation, where he deserved it, to vindicate him where aspersed.

How groundless and wrongful were these apprehensions, the early death which he so often predicted and sighed for has enabled us, unfortunately but too soon, to testify. So far from having to defend him against any such assailants, an unworthy voice or two, from persons more injurious as friends than as enemies, is all that I find raised in hostility to his name; while by none, I am inclined to think, would a generous amnesty over his grave be more readily and cordially concurred in than by her, among whose numerous virtues a forgiving charity towards himself was the only one to which she had not yet taught him to render justice.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 261

I have already had occasion to remark, in another part of this work, that with persons who, like Lord Byron, live centred in their own tremulous web of sensitiveness, those friends of whom they see least, and who, therefore, least frequently come in collision with them in those every day realities from which such natures shrink so morbidly, have proportionately a greater chance of retaining a hold on their affections. There is, however, in long absence from persons of this temperament, another description of risk hardly less, perhaps, to be dreaded. If the station a friend holds in their hearts is, in near intercourse with them, in danger from their sensitiveness, it is almost equally, perhaps, at the mercy of their too active imaginations during absence. On this very point, I recollect once expressing my apprehensions to Lord Byron, in a passage of a letter addressed to him but a short time before his death, of which the following is, as nearly as I can recall it, the substance:—“When with you, I feel sure of you; but, at a distance, one is often a little afraid of being made the victim, all of a sudden, of some of those fanciful suspicions, which, like meteoric stones, generate themselves (God knows how) in the upper regions of your imagination, and come clattering down upon our heads, some fine sunny day, when we are least expecting such an invasion.”

In writing thus to him, I had more particularly in recollection a fancy of this kind respecting myself, which he had, not long before my present visit to him at Venice, taken into his head. In a ludicrous, and now, perhaps, forgotten publication of mine, giving an account of the adventures of an English family in Paris, there had occurred the following description of the chief hero of the tale.

“A fine, sallow, sublime sort of Werter-faced man,
With mustachios which gave (what we read of so oft)
The dear Corsair expression, half savage, half soft,—
As hyænas in love may be fancied to look, or
A something between Abelard and old Blucher.”

On seeing this doggerel, my noble friend,—as I might, indeed, with a little more thought, have anticipated,—conceived the notion that I
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meant to throw ridicule on his whole race of poetic heroes, and accordingly, as I learned from persons then in frequent intercourse with him, flew out into one of his fits of half humorous rage against me. This he now confessed himself, and, in laughing over the circumstance with me, owned that he had even gone so far as, in his first moments of wrath, to contemplate some little retaliation for this perfidious hit at his heroes. “But when I recollected,” said he, “what pleasure it would give the whole tribe of blockheads and Blues to see you and me turning out against each other, I gave up the idea.” He was, indeed, a striking instance of what may be almost invariably observed, that they who best know how to wield the weapon of ridicule themselves, are the most alive to its power in the hands of others. I remember, one day,—in the year 1813, I think,—as we were conversing together about critics and their influence on the public, “For my part,” he exclaimed, “I don’t care what they say of me, so they don’t quiz me.” “Oh, you need not fear that,”—I answered, with something, perhaps, of a half suppressed smile on my features,—“nobody could quiz you.” “You could, you villain!” he replied, clenching his hand at me, and looking, at the same time, with comic earnestness into my face.

Before I proceed any farther with my own recollections, I shall here take the opportunity of extracting some curious particulars respecting the habits and mode of life of my friend while at Venice, from an account obligingly furnished me by a gentleman who long resided in that city and who, during the greater part of Lord Byron’s stay, lived on terms of the most friendly intimacy with him.

“I have often lamented that I kept no notes of his observations during our rides and aquatic excursions. Nothing could exceed the vivacity and variety of his conversation, or the cheerfulness of his manner. His remarks on the surrounding objects were always original; and most particularly striking was the quickness with which he availed himself of every circumstance, however trifling in itself, and such as would have escaped the notice of almost any other person, to carry his point in such arguments as we might chance to be engaged in. He was feelingly alive to the beauties of nature, and took great interest in any
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observations, which, as a dabbler in the arts, I ventured to make upon the effects of light and shadow, or the changes produced in the colour of objects by every variation in the atmosphere.

“The spot where we usually mounted our horses had been a Jewish cemetery; but the French, during their occupation of Venice, had thrown down the enclosures, and levelled all the tombstones with the ground, in order that they might not interfere with the fortifications upon the Lido, under the guns of which it was situated. To this place, as it was known to be that where he alighted from his gondola and met his horses, the curious amongst our country people, who were anxious to obtain a glimpse of him, used to resort; and it was amusing in the extreme to witness the excessive coolness with which ladies, as well as gentlemen, would advance within a very few paces of him, eyeing him, some with their glasses, as they would have done a statue in a museum, or the wild beasts at Exeter ’Change. However flattering this might be to a man’s vanity, Lord Byron, though be bore it very patiently, expressed himself, as I believe he really was, excessively annoyed at it.

“I have said that our usual ride was along the seashore, and that the spot where we took horse, and of course dismounted, had been a cemetery. It will readily be believed, that some caution was necessary in riding over the broken tombstones, and that it was altogether an awkward place for horses to pass. As the length of our ride was not very great, scarcely more than six miles in all, we seldom rode fast, that we might at least prolong its duration, and enjoy as much as possible the refreshing air of the Adriatic. One day, as we were leisurely returning homewards, Lord Byron, all at once, and without saying any thing to me, set spurs to his horse and started off at full gallop, making the greatest haste he could to get to his gondola. I could not conceive what fit had seized him, and had some difficulty in keeping even within a reasonable distance of him, while I looked around me to discover, if I were able, what could be the cause of his unusual precipitation. At length I perceived at some distance two or three gentlemen, who were running along the opposite side of the island nearest the Lagoon, parallel with him, towards his gondola, hoping to get there in time to see him alight; and a race actually took place between them, he endeavouring to out-
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strip them. In this he, in fact, succeeded, and, throwing himself quickly from his horse, leapt into his gondola, of which he hastily closed the blinds, ensconcing himself in a corner so as not to be seen. For my own part, not choosing to risk my neck over the ground I have spoken of, I followed more leisurely as soon as I came amongst the gravestones, but got to the place of embarkation just at the same moment with my curious countrymen, and in time to witness their disappointment at having had their run for nothing. I found him exulting in his success in outstripping them. He expressed in strong terms his annoyance at what he called their impertinence, whilst I could not but laugh at his impatience, as well as at the mortification of the unfortunate pedestrians, whose eagerness to see him, I said, was, in my opinion, highly flattering to him. That, he replied, depended on the feeling with which they came, and he had not the vanity to believe that they were influenced by any admiration of his character or of his abilities, but that they were impelled merely by idle curiosity. Whether it was so or not, I cannot help thinking that if they had been of the other sex he would not have been so eager to escape from their observation, as in that case he would have repaid them glance for glance.

“The curiosity that was expressed by all classes of travellers to see him, and the eagerness with which they endeavoured to pick up any anecdotes of his mode of life, were carried to a length which will hardly be credited. It formed the chief subject of their inquiries of the gondoliers who conveyed them from terra firma to the floating city; and these people, who are generally loquacious, were not at all backward in administering to the taste and humours of their passengers, relating to them the most extravagant and often unfounded stories. They took care to point out the house where he lived, and to give such hints of his movements as might afford them an opportunity of seeing him. Many of the English visitors, under pretext of seeing his house, in which there were no paintings of any consequence, nor, besides himself, any thing worthy of notice, contrived to obtain admittance through the cupidity of his servants, and with the most barefaced impudence forced their way even into his bedroom, in the hopes of seeing him. Hence arose, in a great measure, his bitterness towards them, which he has expressed in
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 265
a note to one of his poems, on the occasion of some unfounded remark made upon him by an anonymous traveller in Italy; and it certainly appears well calculated to foster that cynicism which prevails in his latter works more particularly, and which, as well as the misanthropical expressions that occur in those which first raised his reputation, I do not believe to have been his natural feeling. Of this I am certain, that I never witnessed greater kindness than in Lord Byron.

* * * * * *

“The inmates of his family were all extremely attached to him, and would have endured any thing on his account. He was indeed culpably lenient to them; for even when instances occurred of their neglecting their duty, or taking an undue advantage of his good-nature, he rather bantered than spoke seriously to them upon it, and could not bring himself to discharge them, even when he had threatened to do so. An instance occurred within my knowledge of his unwillingness to act harshly towards a tradesman whom he had materially assisted, not only by lending him money, but by forwarding his interest in every way that he could. Notwithstanding repeated acts of kindness on Lord Byron’s part, this man robbed and cheated him in the most barefaced manner, and when at length Lord Byron was induced to sue him at law for the recovery of his money, the only punishment he inflicted upon him, when sentence against him was passed, was to put him in prison for one week, and then to let him out again, although his debtor had subjected him to a considerable additional expense, by dragging him into all the different courts of appeal, and that he never at last recovered one halfpenny of the money owed to him. Upon this subject he writes to me from Ravenna. ‘If * * is in (prison), let him out; if out, put him in for a week, merely for a lesson, and give him a good lecture.’

“He was also ever ready to assist the distressed, and he was most unostentatious in his charities: for besides considerable sums which he gave away to applicants at his own house, he contributed largely by weekly and monthly allowances to persons whom he had never seen, and who, as the money reached them by other hands, did not even know who was their benefactor. One or two instances might be adduced where his charity certainly bore an appearance of ostentation; one particularly
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when be sent fifty louis-d’or to a poor printer whose house had been burnt to the ground, and all his property destroyed; but even this was not unattended with advantage; for it in a manner compelled the Austrian authorities to do something for the poor sufferer, which I have no hesitation in saying they would not have done otherwise; and I attribute it entirely to the publicity of his donation, that they allowed the man the use of an unoccupied house belonging to the government until he could rebuild his own, or re-establish his business elsewhere. Other instances might be perhaps discovered where his liberalities proceeded from selfish, and not very worthy motives*; but these are rare, and it would be unjust in the extreme to assume them as proofs of his character.”

It has been already mentioned that, in writing to my noble friend to announce my coming, I had expressed a hope that he would be able to go on with me to Rome; and I had the gratification of finding, on my arrival, that he was fully prepared to enter into this plan. On becoming acquainted, however, with all the details of his present situation, I so far sacrificed my own wishes and pleasure as to advise strongly that he should remain at La Mira. In the first place, I saw reason to apprehend that his leaving Madame Guiccioli at this crisis might be the means of drawing upon him the suspicion of neglecting, if not actually deserting, a young person who had just sacrificed so much to her love for him, and whose position, at this moment, between husband and lover, it required all the generous prudence of the latter to shield from further shame or fall. There had just occurred too, as it appeared to me, a most favourable opening for the retrieval of, at least, the imprudent part of the transaction, by replacing the lady instantly under her husband’s protection, and thus enabling her still to retain that station in society which, in such society, nothing but such imprudence could have endangered.

This latter hope had been suggested by a letter he one day showed me (as we were dining together alone, at the well-known Pellegrino), which had that morning been received by the Contessa from her husband,

* The writer here, no doubt, alludes to such questionable liberalities as those exercised towards the husbands of his two favourites, Madame S * * and the Fornarina

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 267
and the chief object of which was—not to express any censure of her conduct, but to suggest that she should prevail upon her noble admirer to transfer into his keeping a sum of £1000, which was then lying, if I remember right, in the hands of Lord Byron’s banker at Ravenna, but which the worthy
Count professed to think would be more advantageously placed in his own. Security, the writer added, would be given, and five per cent. interest allowed; as to accept of the sum on any other terms be should hold to be an “avvilimento” to him. Though as regarded the lady herself, who has since proved, by a most noble sacrifice, how perfectly disinterested were her feelings throughout, this trait of so wholly opposite a character in her lord must have still further increased her disgust at returning to him, yet so important did it seem, as well for her lover’s sake as her own, to retrace, while there was yet time, their last imprudent step, that even the sacrifice of this sum, which I saw would materially facilitate such an arrangement, did not appear to me by any means too high a price to pay for it. On this point, however, my noble friend entirely differed with me; and nothing could be more humorous and amusing than the manner in which, in his newly assumed character of a lover of money, he dilated on the many virtues of a thousand pounds, and his determination not to part with a single one of them to Count Guiccioli. Of his confidence, too, in his own power of extricating himself from this difficulty he spoke with equal gaiety and humour; and Mr. Scott, who joined our party after dinner, having taken the same view of the subject as I did, he laid a wager of two sequins with that gentleman, that, without any such disbursement, he would yet bring all right again, and “save the lady and the money too.”

It is, indeed, certain, that he had at this time taken up the whim (for it hardly deserves a more serious name) of minute and constant watchfulness over his expenditure; and, as most usually happens, it was with the increase of his means that this increased sense of the value of money came. The first symptom I saw of this new fancy of his was the exceeding joy which he manifested on my presenting to him a rouleau of twenty Napoleons, which Lord K * * d, to whom he had, on some occasion, lent that sum, had intrusted me with, at Milan, to deliver into
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his hands. With the most joyous and diverting eagerness, he tore open the paper, and, in counting over the sum, stopped frequently to congratulate himself on the recovery of it.

Of his household frugalities I speak but on the authority of others; but it is not difficult to conceive that, with a restless spirit like his, which delighted always in having something to contend with, and which, but a short time before, “for want,” as he said, “of something craggy to break upon,” had tortured itself with the study of the Armenian language, he should, in default of all better excitement, find a sort of stir and amusement in the task of contesting, inch by inch, every encroachment of expense, and endeavouring to suppress what he himself calls
“That climax of all earthly ills,
The inflammation of our weekly bills.”

In truth, his constant recurrence to the praise of avarice in Don Juan, and the humorous zest with which he delights to dwell on it, shows how new-fangled, as well as how far from serious, was his adoption of this “good old-gentlemanly vice.” In the same spirit he had, a short time before my arrival at Venice, established a hoarding-box, with a slit in the lid, into which he occasionally put sequins, and, at stated periods, opened it to contemplate his treasures. His own ascetic style of living enabled him, as far as himself was concerned, to gratify this taste for economy in no ordinary degree,—his daily bill of fare, when the Margarita was his companion, consisting, I have been assured, of but four beccafichi, of which the Fornarina eat three, leaving even him hungry.

That his parsimony, however (if this new phasis of his ever-shifting character is to be called by such a name), was very far from being of that kind which Bacon condemns, as “withholding men from works of liberality,” is apparent from all that is known of his munificence, at this very period,—some particulars of which, from a most authentic source, have just been cited, proving amply that while, for the indulgence of a whim, he kept one hand closed, he gave free course to his generous nature by dispensing lavishly from the other. It should be remembered, too, that as long as money shall continue to be one of the great sources of power, so long
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will they who seek influence over their fellow-men attach value to it as an instrument; and the more lowly they are inclined to estimate the disinterestedness of the human heart, the more available and precious will they consider the talisman that gives such power over it. Hence, certainly, it is not among those who have thought highest of mankind that the disposition to avarice has most generally displayed itself. In
Swift the love of money was strong and avowed; and to Voltaire the same propensity was also frequently imputed,—on about as sufficient grounds, perhaps, as to Lord Byron.

On the day preceding that of my departure from Venice, my noble host, on arriving from La Mira to dinner, told me, with all the glee of a schoolboy who had been just granted a holiday, that, as this was my last evening, the Contessa had given him leave to “make a night of it,” and that accordingly he would not only accompany me to the opera, but that we should sup together at some café (as in the old times) afterwards. Observing a volume in his gondola, with a number of paper marks between the leaves, I inquired of him what it was?—“Only a book,” he answered, “from which I am trying to crib, as I do wherever I can*;—and that’s the way I get the character of an original poet.” On taking it up and looking into it, I exclaimed., “Ah, my old friend, Agathon†!”—“What!” he cried, archly, “you have been beforehand with me there, have you?”

Though in thus imputing to himself premeditated plagiarism, he was, of course, but jesting, it was, I am inclined to think, his practice, when engaged in the composition of any work, to excite his vein by the perusal of others, on the same subject or plan, from which the slightest hint caught by his imagination, as he read, was sufficient to kindle there such a train of thought as, but for that spark, had never been awakened, and of which he himself soon forgot the source. In the present instance, the inspiration he sought was of no very elevating nature,—the anti-spiritual doctrines of the Sophist in this Romance‡ being what chiefly, I

* This will remind the reader of Moliere’s avowal in speaking of wit:—“C’est mon bien et je le prends partout où je le trouve.”

The History of Agathon, by Wieland.

‡ Between Wieland, the author of this Romance, and Lord Byron, may be observed some of those generic points of resemblance which it is so interesting to trace in the characters of men

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suspect, attracted his attention to its pages, as not unlikely to supply him with fresh argument and sarcasm for those depreciating views of human nature and its destiny, which he was now, with all the wantonness of unbounded genius, enforcing in
Don Juan.

Of this work he was, at the time of my visit to him, writing the Third Canto, and before dinner, one day, read me two or three hundred lines of it;—beginning with the stanzas “Oh Wellington, &c.” which at that time formed the opening of this Third Canto, but were afterwards reserved for the commencement of the Ninth. My opinion of the Poem, both as regarded its talent and its mischief, he had already been made acquainted with, from my having been one of those,—his Committee, as he called us,—to whom, at his own desire, the manuscript of the Two First Cantos had been submitted, and who, as the reader has seen, angered him not a little by deprecating the publication of it. In a letter which I, at that time, wrote to him on the subject, after praising the exquisite beauty of the scenes between Juan and Haidée. I ventured to say, “Is it not odd that the same licence which, in your early Satire, you blamed me for being guilty of on the borders of my twentieth year, you are now yourself (with infinitely greater power, and therefore infinitely greater mischief) indulging in after thirty!”

Though I now found him, in full defiance of such remonstrances, proceeding with this work, he had yet, as his own letters prove, been so far influenced by the general outcry against his Poem, as to feel the zeal and zest with which he had commenced it considerably abated,—so much so, as to render, ultimately, in his own opinion, the Third and

of genius. The German poet, it is said, never perused any work that made a strong impression upon him, without being stimulated to commence one, himself, on the game topic and plan; end in Lord Byron the imitative principle was almost equally active,—there being few of his Poems that might not, in the same manner, be traced to the strong impulse given to his imagination by the perusal of some work that had interested him. In the history, too, of their lives and feelings, there was a strange and painful coincidence,—the revolution that took place in all Wieland’s opinions, from the Platonism and romance of his youthful days, to the material and Epicurean doctrines that pervaded all his maturer works, being chiefly, it is supposed, brought about by the shock his heart had received from a disappointment of its affections in early life. Speaking of the illusion of this first passion, in one of his letters, he says,—“It is one for which no joys, no honours, no gifts of fortune, not even wisdom itself can afford an equivalent, and which, when it has once vanished, returns no more.”

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Fourth Cantos much inferior in spirit to the Two First. So sensitive, indeed,—in addition to his usual abundance of this quality,—did he, at length, grow on the subject, that when
Mr. W. Bankes, who succeeded me, as his visitor, happened to tell him, one day, that he had heard a Mr. Saunders (or some such name), then resident at Venice, declare that, in his opinion, “Don Juan was all Grub-street,” such an effect had this disparaging speech upon his mind (though coming from a person who, as he himself would have it, was “nothing but a d—d salt-fish seller”), that, for some time after, by his own confession to Mr. Bankes, he could not bring himself to write another line of the Poem; and, one morning, opening a drawer where the neglected manuscript lay, he said to his friend, “Look here—this is all Mr. Saunders’s ‘Grub-street.’”

To return, however, to the details of our last evening together at Venice.—After a dinner with Mr. Scott at the Pellegrino, we all went, rather late, to the opera, where the principal part in the Baccanali di Roma was represented by a female singer, whose chief claim to reputation, according to Lord Byron, lay in her having stilettoed one of her favourite lovers. In the intervals between the singing he pointed out to me different persons among the audience, to whom celebrity of various sorts, but, for the most part, disreputable, attached; and of one lady who sat near us, he related an anecdote, which, whether new or old, may, as creditable to Venetian facetiousness, be worth, perhaps, repeating. This lady had, it seems, been pronounced by Napoleon the finest woman in Venice; but the Venetians, not quite agreeing with this opinion of the great man, contented themselves with calling her “La Bella per Decréto,”—adding (as the Decrees always begin with the word “Considerando”), “Ma senza il Considerando.”

From the opera, in pursuance of our agreement to “make a night of it,” we betook ourselves to a sort of cabaret in the Place of St. Mark, and there, within a few yards of the Palace of the Doges, sat drinking hot brandy punch, and laughing over old times, till the clock of St. Mark struck the second hour of the morning. Lord Byron then took me in his gondola, and, the moon being in its fullest splendour, he made the gondoliers row us to such points of view as might enable me to see Venice, at that hour, to advantage. Nothing could he more
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solemnly beautiful than the whole scene around, and I had, for the first time, the Venice of my dreams before me. All those meaner details which so offend the eye by day were now softened down by the moonlight into a sort of visionary indistinctness; and the effect of that silent city of palaces, sleeping, as it were, upon the waters, in the bright stillness of the night, was such as could not but affect deeply even the least susceptible imagination. My companion saw that I was moved by it, and though familiar with the scene himself, seemed to give way, for the moment, to the same strain of feeling; and, as we exchanged a few remarks suggested by that wreck of human glory before us, his voice, habitually so cheerful, sunk into a tone of mournful sweetness, such as I had rarely before heard from him and shall not easily forget. This mood, however, was but of the moment; some quick turn of ridicule soon carried him off into a totally different vein, and at about three o’clock in the morning, at the door of his own palazzo, we parted, laughing, as we had met;—an agreement having been first made that I should take an early dinner with him next day, at his villa, on my road to Ferrara.

Having employed the morning of the following day in completing my round of sights at Venice,—taking care to visit specially “that picture by Giorgione,” to which the poet’s exclamation, “such a woman!” will long continue to attract all votaries of beauty,—I took my departure from Venice, and, at about three o’clock, arrived at La Mira. I found my noble host waiting to receive me, and, in passing with him through the hall, saw his little Allegra, who, with her nursery-maid, was standing there as if just returned from a walk. To the perverse fancy he had for falsifying his own character, and even imputing to himself faults the most alien to his nature, I have already frequently adverted, and had, on this occasion, a striking instance of it. After I had spoken a little, in passing, to the child, and made some

* “’Tis but a portrait of his son and wife,
And self; but such a woman! love in life!”

This seems, by the way, to be an incorrect description of the picture, as, according to Vasari and others, Giorgione never was married, and died young.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 273
remark on its beauty, he said to me—“Have you any notion—but I suppose you have—of what they call the parental feeling? For myself, I have not the least.” And yet, when that child died, in a year or two afterwards, he who now uttered this artificial speech was so overwhelmed by the event, that those who were about him at the time actually trembled for his reason!

A short time before dinner he left the room, and in a minute or two returned, carrying in his hand a white leather bag. “Look here,” he said, holding it up,—“this would be worth something to Murray, though you, I dare say, would not give sixpence for it.” “What is it?” I asked.—“My Life and Adventures,” he answered. On hearing this, I raised my hands in a gesture of wonder. “It is not a thing,” he continued, “that can be published during my lifetime, but you may have it, if you like—there, do whatever you please with it.” In taking the bag, and thanking him most warmly, I added, “This will make a nice legacy for my little Tom, who shall astonish the latter days of the nineteenth century with it.” He then added, “You may show it to any of our friends you think worthy of it:”—and this is, nearly word for word, the whole of what passed between us on the subject.

At dinner we were favoured with the presence of Madame Guiccioli, who was so obliging as to furnish me, at Lord Byron’s suggestion, with a letter of introduction to her brother, Count Gamba, whom it was probable, they both thought, I should meet at Rome. This letter I never had an opportunity of presenting; and as it was left open for me to read, and was, the greater part of it, I have little doubt, dictated by my noble friend, I may venture, without impropriety, to give an extract from it here;—premising that the allusion to the “Castle, &c.” refers to some tales respecting the cruelty of Lord Byron to his wife which the young Count had heard, and, at this time, implicitly believed. After a few sentences of compliment to the bearer, the letter proceeds—“He is on his way to see the wonders of Rome, and there is no one, I am sure, more qualified to enjoy them. I shall be gratified and obliged by your acting, as far as you can, as his guide. He is a friend of Lord Byron’s, and much more accurately acquainted with his history than those who have related it to you. He will accordingly describe to you, if you ask him,
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the shape the dimensions, and whatever else you may please to require, of that Castle in which he keeps imprisoned a young and innocent wife, &c. &c. My dear Pietro, whenever you feel inclined to laugh, do, send two lines of answer to your sister, who loves and ever will love you with the greatest tenderness.—Teresa Guiccioli*.”

After expressing his regret that I had not been able to prolong my stay at Venice, my noble friend said, “At least, I think, you might spare a day or two to go with me to Arqua. I should like,” he continued thoughtfully, “to visit that tomb with you:”—then, breaking off into his usual gay tone, “a pair of poetical pilgrims—eh, Tom, what say you?”—That I should have declined this offer and thus lost the opportunity of an excursion, which would have been remembered, as a bright dream, through all my after life, is a circumstance I never can think of without wonder and self-reproach. But the main design on which I had then set my mind of reaching Rome and, if possible, Naples, within the limited period which circumstances allowed, rendered me far less alive than I ought to have been to the preciousness of the episode thus offered to me.

When it was time for me to depart, he expressed his intention to accompany me a few miles, and, ordering his horses to follow, proceeded with me in the carriage as far as Strà, where for the last time—how little thinking it was to be the last!—I bade my kind and admirable friend farewell.

“October 22d. 1819.

“I am glad to hear of your return, but I do not know how to congratulate you—unless you think differently of Venice from what I think

* “Egli viene per vedere le meraviglie di questa Città, e sono certa che nessuno meglio di lui saprebbe gustarle. Mi sarà grato che vi facciate sua guida come potrete, e voi poi me ne avrete obbligo. Egli è amico de Lord Byron—sà la sua storia assai più precisamente di quelli che a voi la raccontarone. Egli dunque vi racconterà se lo interrogherete la forma, le dimesioni, e tuttociò che vi piacerà del Castello ove tiene imprigionata una giovane innocente sposa, &c. &c. Mio caro Pietro, quando ti sei bene afogato a ridere, allora rispondi due righe alla tua sorolla, che t’ ama e t’ amerà sempre colla maggiore tenerezza.”

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now, and you thought always. I am, besides, about to renew your troubles by requesting you to be judge between
Mr. E * * * and myself in a small matter of imputed peculation and irregular accounts on the part of that phœnix of secretaries. As I knew that you had not parted friends, at the same time that I refused for my own part any judgment but yours, I offered him his choice of any person, the least scoundrel native to be found in Venice, as his own umpire; but he expressed himself so convinced of your impartiality, that he declined any but you. This is in his favour.—The paper within will explain to you the default in his accounts. You will hear his explanation, and decide if it so please you. I shall not appeal from the decision.

“As he complained that his salary was insufficient, I determined to have his accounts examined, and the enclosed was the result.—It is all in black and white with documents, and I have despatched Fletcher to explain (or rather to perplex) the matter.

“I have had much civility and kindness from Mr. Dorville during your journey, and I thank him accordingly.

“Your letter reached me at your departure* and displeased me very much:—not that it might not be true in its statement and kind in its intention, but you have lived long enough to know how useless all such representations ever are and must be in cases where the passions are concerned. To reason with men in such a situation is like reasoning with a drunkard in his cups—the only answer you will get from him is that he is sober, and you are drunk.

“Upon that subject we will (if you like) be silent. You might only say what would distress me without answering any purpose whatever; and I have too many obligations to you to answer you in the same style. So that you should recollect that you have also that advantage over me. I hope to see you soon.

* Mr. Hoppner, before his departure from Venice for Switzerland, had, with all the zeal of a true friend, written a letter to Lord Byron, entreating him “to leave Ravenna, while yet he had a whole skin, and urging him not to risk the safety of a person he appeared so sincerely attached to—as well as his own—for the gratification of a momentary passion, which could only be a source of regret to both parties.” In the same letter Mr. Hoppner informed him of some reports he had heard lately at Venice, which, though possibly, he said, unfounded, had much increased his anxiety respecting the consequences of the connexion formed by him.

276 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

“I suppose you know that they said at Venice, that I was arrested at Bologna as a Carbonaro—a story about as true as their usual conversation. Moore has been here—I lodged him in my house at Venice, and went to see him daily; but I could not at that time quit La Mira entirely. You and I were not very far from meeting in Switzerland. With my best respects to Mrs. Hoppner, believe me ever and truly, &c.

“P.S. Allegra is here in good health and spirits—I shall keep her with me till I go to England, which will perhaps be in the spring. It has just occurred to me that you may not perhaps like to undertake the office of judge between Mr. E. and your humble servant.—Of course, as Mr. Liston (the comedian, not the ambassador) says, ‘it is all hoptional,’ but I have no other resource. I do not wish to find him a rascal, if it can be avoided, and would rather think him guilty of carelessness than cheating. The case is this—can I, or not, give him a character for honesty?—It is not my intention to continue him in my service.”

“October 25th, 1819.

“You need not have made any excuses about the letter; I never said but that you might, could, should, or would have reason. I merely described my own state of inaptitude to listen to it at that time, and in those circumstances. Besides, you did not speak from your own authority—but from what you said you had heard. Now my blood boils to hear an Italian speaking ill of another Italian, because though they lie in particular, they speak truth in general by speaking ill at all—and although they know that they are trying and wishing to lie, they do not succeed, merely because they can say nothing so bad of each other, that it may not, and must not be true, from the atrocity of their long debased national character*.

* “This language” (says Mr. Hoppner, in some remarks upon the above letter) “is strong, but it was the language of prejudice; and he was rather apt thus to express the feelings of the moment, without troubling himself to consider how soon he might be induced to change them. He was at this time so sensitive on the subject of Madame * *, that, merely because

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 277

“With regard to E. you will perceive a most irregular, extravagant account, without proper documents to support it. He demanded an increase of salary, which made me suspect him; he supported an outrageous extravagance of expenditure, and did not like the dismission of the cook; he never complained of him—as in duty bound—at the time of his robberies. I can only say, that the house expense is now under one half of what it then was, as he himself admits. He charged for a comb eighteen francs,—the real price was eight. He charged a passage from Fusina for a person named Iambelli, who paid it herself, as she will prove, if necessary. He fancies, or asserts himself, the victim of a domestic complot against him;—accounts are accounts—prices are prices; —let him make out a fair detail. I am not prejudiced against him—on the contrary, I supported him against the complaints of his wife, and of his former master, at a time when I could have crushed him like an earwig, and if he is a scoundrel, he is the greatest of scoundrels, an ungrateful one. The truth is, probably, that he thought I was leaving Venice, and determined to make the most of it. At present he keeps bringing in account after account, though he had always money in hand—as I believe you know my system was never to allow longer than a week’s bills to run. Pray read him this letter—I desire nothing to be concealed against which he may defend himself.

“Pray how is your little boy? and how are you?—I shall be up in Venice very soon, and we will be bilious together. I hate the place and all that it inherits.

“Yours, &c.”

some persons had disapproved of her conduct, he declaimed in the above manner against the whole nation. I never” (continues Mr. Hoppner) “was partial to Venice; but disliked it almost from the first month of my residence there. Yet I experienced more kindness in that place than I ever met with in any country, and witnessed acts of generosity and disinterestedness such as rarely are met with elsewhere.”

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“October 28th, 1819.
* * * * * *

“I have to thank you for your letter, and your compliment to Don Juan. I said nothing to you about it, understanding that it is a sore subject with the moral reader, and has been the cause of a great row; but I am glad you like it. I will say nothing about the shipwreck, except that I hope you think it is as nautical and technical as verse could admit in the octave measure.

“The poem has not sold well, so Murray says—‘but the best judges, &c. say, &c.’ so says that worthy man. I have never seen it in print. The Third Canto is in advance about one hundred stanzas; but the failure of the two first has weakened my estro, and it will neither be so good as the two former, nor completed, unless I get a little more riscaldato in its behalf. I understand the outcry was beyond every thing.—Pretty cant for people who read Tom Jones, and Roderick Random, and the Bath Guide, and Ariosto, and Dryden, and Pope—to say nothing of Little’s Poems. Of course I refer to the morality of these works, and not to any pretension of mine to compete with them in any thing but decency. I hope yours is the Paris edition, and that you did not pay the London price. I have seen neither except in the newspapers.

“Pray make my respects to Mrs. H., and take care of your little boy. All my household have the fever and ague, except Fletcher, Allegra, and mysen (as we used to say in Nottinghamshire), and the horses, and Mutz, and Moretto. In the beginning of November, perhaps sooner, I expect to have the pleasure of seeing you. To-day I got drenched by a thunder-storm, and my horse and groom too, and his horse all bemired up to the middle in a cross-road. It was summer at noon, and at five we were be-wintered; but the lightning was sent perhaps to
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 279
let us know that the summer was not yet over. It is queer weather for the 27th October.

“Yours, &c.”
“Venice, October 29th, 1819.

“Yours of the 15th came yesterday. I am sorry that you do not mention a large letter addressed to your care for Lady Byron, from me, at Bologna, two months ago. Pray tell me, was this letter received and forwarded?

“You say nothing of the vice-consulate for the Ravenna patrician, from which it is to be inferred that the thing will not be done.

“I had written about a hundred stanzas of a Third Canto to Don Juan, but the reception of the two first is no encouragement to you nor me to proceed.

“I had also written about 600 lines of a poem, the Vision (or Prophecy) of Dante, the subject a view of Italy in the ages down to the present—supposing Dante to speak in his own person, previous to his death, and embracing all topics in the way of prophecy, like Lycophron’s Cassandra; but this and the other are both at a stand-still for the present.

“I gave Moore, who is gone to Rome, my Life in MS., in 78 folio sheets, brought down to 1816. But this I put into his hands for his care, as he has some other MSS. of mine—a Journal kept in 1814, &c. Neither are for publication during my life, but when I am cold, you may do what you please. In the mean time, if you like to read them you may, and show them to any body you like—I care not.

“The Life is Memoranda, and not Confessions. I have left out all my loves (except in a general way), and many other of the most important things (because I must not compromise other people), so that it is like the play of Hamlet—‘the part of Hamlet omitted by particular desire.’ But you will find many opinions, and some fun, with a detailed account
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of my marriage and its consequences as true as a party concerned can make such account, for I suppose we are all prejudiced.

“I have never read over this Life since it was written, so that I know not exactly what it may repeat or contain. Moore and I passed some merry days together. * * * * * *

“I probably must return for business, or in my way to America. Pray. did you get a letter for Hobhouse, who will have told you the contents? I understand that the Venezuelan commissioners had orders to treat with emigrants; now I want to go there. I should not make a bad South-American planter, and I should take my natural daughter, Allegra, with me, and settle. I wrote, at length, to Hobhouse, to get information from Perry, who, I suppose, is the, best topographer and trumpeter of the new republicans. Pray write.

“Yours ever.

“P.S. Moore and I did nothing but laugh. He will tell you of ‘my whereabouts,’ and all my proceedings at this present; they are as usual. You should not let those fellows publish false ‘Don Juans;’ but do not put my name, because I mean to cut R—ts up like a gourd in the preface, if I continue the poem.”

“October 29th, 1819.

“The Ferrara story is of a piece with all the rest of the Venetian manufacture,—you may judge I only changed horses there since I wrote to you, after my visit in June last. ‘Convent,’ and ‘carry off,’ quotha! and ‘girl.’ I should like to know who has been carried off, except poor dear me. I have been more ravished myself than any body since the Trojan war; but as to the arrest, and its causes, one is as true as the other, and I can account for the invention of neither. I suppose it is some confusion of the tale of the F * * and of Me. Guiccioli, and half a dozen more; but it is useless to unravel the web, when one has only to brush it away. I shall settle with Master E., who looks very
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blue at your in-decision, and swears that he is the best arithmetician in Europe; and so I think also, for he makes out two and two to be five.

“You may see me next week. I have a horse or two more (five in all), and I shall repossess myself of Lido, and I will rise earlier, and we will go and shake our livers over the beach, as heretofore, if you like—and we will make the Adriatic roar again with our hatred of that now empty oyster-shell, without its pearl, the city of Venice.

Murray sent me a letter yesterday: the impostors have published two new Third Cantos of Don Juan:—the devil take the impudence of some blackguard bookseller or other therfor! Perhaps I did not make myself understood; he told me the sale had been great, 1200 out of 1500 quarto, I believe, (which is nothing after selling 13,000 of the Corsair in one day); but that the ‘best judges, &c.’ had said it was very fine, and clever, and particularly good English, and poetry, and all those consolatory things, which are not, however, worth a single copy to a bookseller: and as to the author, of course I am in a d—ned passion at the bad taste of the times, and swear there is nothing like posterity, who, of course, must know more of the matter than their grandfathers. There has been an eleventh commandment to the women not to read it, and what is still more extraordinary, they seem not to have broken it. But that can be of little import to them, poor things, for the reading or non-reading a book will never * * * *.

Count G. comes to Venice next week, and I am requested to consign his wife to him, which shall be done. * * *. What you say of the long evenings at the Mira, or Venice, reminds me of what Curran said to Moore:—‘So I hear you have married a pretty woman, and a very good creature, too—an excellent creature. Pray—um!—how do you pass your evenings?’ It is a devil of a question that, and perhaps as easy to answer with a wife as with a mistress.

“If you go to Milan, pray leave at least a Vice-Consul—the only vice that will ever be wanting in Venice. D’Orville is a good fellow. But you shall go to England in the spring with me, and plant Mrs. Hoppner at Berne with her relations for a few months. I wish you had
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been here (at Venice, I mean, not the Mira) when
Moore was here—we were very merry and tipsy. He hated Venice, by the way, and swore it was a sad place†.

“So Madame Albrizzi’s death is in danger—poor woman! * * * * * * * * * * Moore told me that at Geneva they had made a devil of a story of the Fornaretta:—‘Young lady seduced!—subsequent abandonment!—leap into the Grand Canal!’—and her being in the hospital of fous in consequence!’ I should like to know who was nearest being made ‘fou,’ and be d——d to them! Don’t you think me in the interesting character of a very ill-used gentleman? I hope your little boy is well. Allegrina is flourishing like a pomegranate blossom.

“Yours, &c.”
“Venice, November 8th, 1819.

Mr. Hoppner has lent me a copy of ‘Don Juan,’ Paris edition, which he tells me is read in Switzerland by clergymen and ladies with considerable approbation. In the Second Canto, you must alter the 49th stanza to
“’Twas twilight, and the sunless day went down
Over the waste of waters, like a veil
Which if withdrawn would but disclose the frown
Of one whom hate is mask’d but to assail;
Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown,
And grimly darkled o’er their faces pale
And the dim desolate deep; twelve days had Fear
Been their familiar, and now Death was here.

“I have been ill these eight days with a tertian fever, caught in the country on horseback in a thunder-storm. Yesterday I had the fourth

† I beg to say that this report of my opinion of Venice is coloured somewhat too deeply by the feelings of the reporter.

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attack: the two last were very smart, the first day as well as the last being preceded by vomiting. It is the fever of the place and the season. I feel weakened, but not unwell, in the intervals, except headache and lassitude.

Count Guiccioli has arrived in Venice, and has presented his spouse (who had preceded him two months for her health and the prescriptions of Dr. Aglietti) with a paper of conditions, regulations of hours and conduct, and morals, &c. &c. &c., which he insists on her accepting, and she persists in refusing. I am expressly, it should seem, excluded by this treaty, as an indispensable preliminary; so that they are in high dissension, and what the result may be, I know not, particularly as they are consulting friends.

“To-night, as Countess Guiccioli observed me poring over ‘Don Juan,’ she stumbled by mere chance on the 137th stanza of the First Canto, and asked me what it meant. I told her, ‘Nothing,—but ‘your husband is coming.” As I said this in Italian with some emphasis, she started up in a fright, and said, ‘Oh, my God, is he coming?’ thinking it was her own, who either was or ought to have been at the theatre. You may suppose we laughed when she found out the mistake. You will be amused, as I was;—it happened not three hours ago.

“I wrote to you last week, but have added nothing to the Third Canto since my fever, nor to ‘The Prophecy of Dante.’ Of the former there are about 100 octaves done; of the latter about 500 lines—perhaps more. Moore saw the third Juan, as far as it then went. I do not know if my fever will let me go on with either, and the tertian lasts, they say, a good while. I had it in Malta on my way home, and the malaria fever in Greece the year before that. The Venetian is not very fierce, but I was delirious one of the nights with it, for an hour or two, and, on my senses coming back, found Fletcher sobbing on one side of the bed, and La Contessa Guiccioli weeping on the other; so that I

* The following curious particulars of his delirium are given by Madame Guiccioli:—“At the beginning of winter Count Guiccioli came from Ravenna to fetch me. When be arrived, Lord Byron was ill of a fever, occasioned by his having got wet through;—a violent storm having surprised him while taking his usual exercise on horseback. He had been

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had no want of attendance. I have not yet taken any physician, because, though I think they may relieve in chronic disorders, such as gout and the like, &c &c. &c. (though they can’t cure them)—just as surgeons are necessary to set bones and tend wounds—yet I think fevers quite out of their reach, and remediable only by diet and nature.

“I don’t like the taste of bark, but I suppose that I must take it soon.

“Tell Rose that somebody at Milan (an Austrian, Mr. Hoppner says,) is answering his book. William Bankes is in quarantine at Trieste. I have not lately heard from you. Excuse this paper: it is long paper shortened for the occasion. What folly is this of Carlisle’s trial? why let him have the honours of a martyr? it will only advertise the books in question.

“Yours, &c.

“P.S. As I tell you that the Guiccioli business is on the eve of exploding in one way or the other, I will just add that, without attempting to influence the decision of the Contessa, a good deal depends upon it. If she and her husband make it up, you will perhaps see me in England sooner than you expect. If not, I shall retire with her to France or America, change my name, and lead a quiet provincial life. All this may seem odd, but I have got the poor girl into a scrape; and as neither her birth, nor her rank, nor her connexions by birth or marriage are

delirious the whole night, and I had watched continually, by his bedside. During his delirium he composed a good many verses, and ordered his servant to write them down from his dictation. The rhythm of these verses was quite correct, and the poetry itself had no appearance of being the work of a delirious mind, He preserved them for some time after he got well, and then burned them.”—“Sul cominclare dell’ inverno il Conte Guiccioli venne a prendermi per ricondurmi a Ravenna. Quando egli giunse Ld. Byron era ammalato di febbri prese per essersi bagnato avendolo sorpreso un forte temporale mentre faceva l’usato suo esercizio a cavallo. Egli aveva delirato tutta in notte, ed io aveva sempre vegliato presso al suo letto. Nel suo delirio egli compose molti versi che ordinò al suo domestico di scrivere sotto la sua dittatura. La misura dei versi era esatissima, e la poesia pure non pareva opera di una mente in delirio. Egli la conservò lungo tempo dopo restabilito—poi l’abbrucciò.”

I have been informed, too, that, during his ravings at this time, he was constantly haunted by the idea of his mother-in-law,—taking every one that came near him for her, and reproaching those about him for letting her enter his room.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 285
inferior to my own, I am in honour bound to support her through. Besides, she is a very pretty woman—ask
Moore—and not yet one and twenty.

“If she gets over this and I get over my tertian, I will perhaps look in at Albemarle-street, some of these days, en passant to Bolivar.”

“Venice, November 20th, 1819.

“A tertian ague which has troubled me for some time, and the indisposition of my daughter, have prevented me from replying before to your welcome letter. I have not been ignorant of your progress nor of your discoveries, and I trust that you are no worse in health from your labours. You may rely upon finding every body in England eager to reap the fruits of them; and as you have done more than other men, I hope you will not limit yourself to saying less than may do justice to the talents and time you have bestowed on your perilous researches. The first sentence of my letter will have explained to you why I cannot join you at Trieste. I was on the point of setting out for England (before I knew of your arrival) when my child’s illness has made her and me dependant on a Venetian Proto-Medico.

“It is now seven years since you and I met;—which time you have employed better for others and more honourably for yourself than I have done.

“In England you will find considerable changes, public and private,—you will see some of our old college cotemporaries turned into lords of the treasury, admiralty, and the like,—others become reformers and orators,—many settled in life, as it is called,—and others settled in death; among the latter (by the way, not our fellow collegians), Sheridan, Curran, Lady Melbourne, Monk Lewis, Frederick Douglas, &c. &c. &c.; but you will still find Mr. * * living and all his family, as also * * * * * *.

“Should you come up this way, and I am still here, you need not be assured how glad I shall be to see you; I long to hear some part,
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from you, of that which I expect in no long time to see. At length you have had better fortune than any traveller of equal enterprise (except
Humboldt), in returning safe; and after the fate of the Brownes, and the Parkes, and the Burckhardts, it is hardly less surprise than satisfaction to get you back again.

“Believe me ever
“and very affectionately yours,
“Venice, Dec. 4, 1819.

“You may do as you please, but you are about a hopeless experiment. Eldon will decide against you, were it only that my name is in the record. You will also recollect that if the publication is pronounced against, on the grounds you mention, as indecent and blasphemous, that I lose all right in my daughter’s guardianship and education, in short, all paternal authority, and every thing concerning her, except * * * * * * * * * * * *. It was so decided in Shelley’s case, because he had written Queen Mab, &c. &c. However, you can ask the lawyers, and do as you like: I do not inhibit you trying the question; I merely state one of the consequences to me. With regard to the copyright, it is hard that you should pay for a nonentity: I will therefore refund it, which I can very well do, not having spent it, nor begun upon it; and so we will be quits on that score. It lies at my banker’s.

“Of the Chancellor’s law. I am no judge; but take up Tom Jones, and read his Mrs. Waters and Molly Seagrim; or Prior’s Hans Carvel and Paulo Purganti; Smollett’s Roderick Random, the chapter of Lord Strutwell, and many others; Peregrine Pickle, the scene of the Beggar Girl; Johnson’s London, for coarse expressions; for instance, the words ‘* *,’ and ‘* *;’ Anstey’s Bath Guide, the ‘Hearken, Lady Betty, hearken;’—take up, in short, Pope, Prior, Congreve, Dryden, Fielding, Smollett, and let the Counsel select passages, and what becomes of their
A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 287
copyright, if his
Wat Tyler decision is to pass into a precedent? I have nothing more to say: you must judge for yourselves.

“I wrote to you some time ago. I have had a tertian ague; my daughter Allegra has been ill also, and I have been almost obliged to run away with a married woman; but with some difficulty, and many internal struggles, I reconciled the lady with her lord, and cured the fever of the child with bark, and my own with cold water. I think of setting out for England by the Tyrol in a few days, so that I could wish you to direct your next letter to Calais. Excuse my writing in great haste and late in the morning, or night, whichever you please to call it. The Third Canto of ‘Don Juan’ is completed, in about two hundred stanzas; very decent, I believe, but do not know, and it is useless to discuss until it be ascertained if it may or may not be a property.

“My present determination to quit Italy was unlooked for; but I have explained the reasons in letters to my sister and Douglas Kinnaird, a week or two ago. My progress will depend upon the snows of the Tyrol, and the health of my child, who is at present quite recovered;—but I hope to get on well, and am

“Yours ever and truly.

“P.S. Many thanks for your letters, to which you are not to consider this as an answer, but as an acknowledgment.”

The struggle which, at the time of my visit to him, I had found Lord Byron so well disposed to make towards averting, as far as now lay in his power, some of the mischievous consequences which, both to the object of his attachment and himself, were likely, to result from their connexion, had been brought, as the foregoing letters show, to a crisis soon after I left him. The Count Guiccioli, on his arrival at Venice, insisted, as we have seen, that his lady should return with him; and, after some conjugal negotiations, in which Lord Byron does not appear to have interfered, the young Contessa consented reluctantly to accompany her lord to Ravenna, it being first covenanted that, in future, all communication between her and her lover should cease.

“In a few days after this,” says Mr. Hoppner, in some notices of his noble friend with which he has favoured me, “he returned to Venice,
288 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.
very much out of spirits, owing to
Madame Guiccioli’s departure, and out of humour with every body and every thing around him. We resumed our rides at the Lido, and I did my best not only to raise his spirits, but to make him forget his absent mistress, and to keep him to his purpose of returning to England. He went into no society, and having no longer any relish for his former occupation, his time, when he was not writing, hung heavy enough on hand.”

The promise given by the lovers not to correspond was, as all parties must have foreseen, soon violated; and the letters Lord Byron addressed to the lady, at this time, though written in a language not his own, are rendered frequently even eloquent by the mere force of the feeling that governed him—a feeling which could not have owed its fuel to fancy alone, since now that reality had been so long substituted, it still burned on. From one of these letters, dated November 25th, I shall so far presume upon the discretionary power vested in me, as to lay a short extract or two before the reader—not merely as matters of curiosity, but on account of the strong evidence they afford of the struggle between passion and a sense of right that now agitated him.

“You are,” he says, “and ever will be, my first thought. But, at this moment, I am in a state most dreadful, not knowing which way to decide;—on the one hand, fearing that I should compromise you for ever, by my return to Ravenna and the consequences of such a step, and, on the other, dreading that I shall lose both you and myself, and all that I have ever known or tasted of happiness, by never seeing you more. I pray of you, I implore you to be comforted, and to believe that I cannot cease to love you but with my life*.” In another part he says, “I go to save you, and leave a country insupportable to me without you. Your letters to F * * and myself do wrong to my motives—but you will yet see your injustice. It is not enough that I must leave you—from motives of which ere long you will be convinced—it is not enough that I must

* “Tu sei, sarai sempre mio primo pensier. Ma in questo memento sono in un’ stato orribile non sapendo cosa decidere;—temendo, da una parte, comprometterti in eterno col mio ritorno a Ravenna, e colle sue consequenze; e, dal’ altra perderti, e me stesso, e tutto quel che ho conosciuto o gustato di feicità, nel non vederti più. Ti prego, ti supplico calmarti, e credere che non posso cessare ad amarti che colla vita.”

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 289
fly from Italy, with a heart deeply wounded, after having passed all my days in solitude since your departure, sick both in body and mind—but I must also have to endure your reproaches without answering and without deserving them. Farewell!—in that one word is comprised the death of my happiness.”

He had now arranged every thing for his departure for England, and had even fixed the day, when accounts reached him from Ravenna that the Contessa was alarmingly ill;—her sorrow at their separation having so much preyed upon her mind, that even her own family, fearful of the consequences, had withdrawn all opposition to her wishes, and now, with the sanction of Count Guiccioli himself, entreated her lover to hasten to Ravenna. What was he, in this dilemma, to do? Already had he announced his coming to different friends in England, and every dictate, he felt, of prudence and manly fortitude urged his departure. While thus balancing between duty and inclination, the day appointed for his setting out arrived; and the following picture, from the life, of his irresolution on the occasion, is from a letter written by a female friend of Madame Guiccioli, who was present at the scene. “He was ready dressed for the journey, his gloves and cap on, and even his little cane in his hand. Nothing was now waited for but his coming down stairs,—his boxes being already all on board the gondola. At this moment, my lord, by way of pretext, declares, that if it should strike one o’clock before every thing was in order (his arms being the only thing not yet quite ready), he would not go that day. The hour strikes, and he remains†!”

* “Io parto, per salvarti, e lascio un paese divenuto insopportabile senza di te. Le tue lettere elba F * *, ed anche a me stesso fanno torto si miei motivi; ma col tempo vedrai la tua ingiustizia. Tu parli del dolor—io lo sento, ma mi mancano le parole. Non basta lasciarti per dei motivi dei quali tu eri persuasa (non molto tempo fa)—non basta partire dall’ Italia col cuore lacerato, dopo aver passato tutti i giorni dopo la tua pertenza nella solitudine, ammalato di corpo e di anima—ma ho anche a sopportare i tuoi rimproveri, senza replicarti, e senza meritarli. Addio—in quella parola è compresa la morte di mia felicita.”

The close of this last sentence exhibits one of the very few instances of incorrectness that Lord Byron falls into in these letters;—the proper construction being “della mia felicità.”

† “Egli era tutto vestito di viaggio coi guanti fra le mani, col suo bonnet, e persine colla piccola sua canna; non altro aspettavasi che egli scendesse le scale, tutti i bauli crano in barca.

290 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

The writer adds, “it is evident he has not the heart to go;” and the result proved that she had not judged him wrongly. The very next day’s tidings from Ravenna decided his fate, and he himself, in a letter to the Contessa, thus announces the triumph which she had achieved. “F * * * will already have told you, with her accustomed sublimity, that Love has gained the victory. I could not summon up resolution enough to leave the country where you are, without, at least, once more seeing you. On yourself, perhaps, it will depend, whether I ever again shall leave you. Of the rest we shall speak when we meet. You ought, by this time, to know which is most conducive to your welfare, my presence or my absence. For myself, I am a citizen of the world—all countries are alike to me. You have ever been, since our first acquaintance, the sole object of thoughts. My opinion was, that the best course I could adopt, both for your peace and that of all your family, would have been to depart and go far, far away from you;—since to have been near and not approach you would have been, for me, impossible. You have however decided that I am to return to Ravenna. I shall accordingly return—and shall do—and be all that you wish. I cannot say more*.”

On quitting Venice he took leave of Mr. Hoppner in a short but cordial letter, which I cannot better introduce than by prefixing to it the few words of comment with which this excellent friend of the noble poet has himself accompanied it. “I need not say with what painful feeling I witnessed the departure of a person who, from the first day of our acquaintance, had treated me with unvaried kindness, reposing a confidence in me which it was beyond the power of my utmost efforts to

Milord fa la pretesta che se suona un ora dope il mezzodi e che non sia ogni cosa all’ ordine (poichè le armi sole non erano in pronto) egli non partirebbe più per quel giorno. L’ora suouna ed egli resta.”

* “La F * * ti avra detta, colla sua solita sublimità, che l’Amor ha vinto. Io non ho potuto trovare forza di anima per lasciare il paese dove tu sei, senza vederti almeno un’ altra volta:—forse dipenderà da te as mai ti lascio più. Per il resto parleremo. Tu dovresti adesso sapere cosa sarà più convenevole al tuo ben essere la mia presenza o la mia lontananza. Io sono clttadino del mondo—tutti i paesi sono eguali per me. Tu sei stata sempre (dopo che ci siamo conosciuti) l’unico oggeito di miei pensieri. Credeva che il miglior partite per la pace tua e la pace di tua famiglia fosse il mio partire, e andare ben lontano; poichè stare vicino e non avvicinarti sarebbe per me impossibile. Ma tu hai deciso che io debbo ritornare a Ravennna—tornare—e farò—e sarò ciò che tu vuoi. Non posso dirti di più.”

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 291
deserve; admitting me to an intimacy which I had no right to claim, and listening with patience, and the greatest good temper, to the remonstrances I ventured to make upon his conduct.”


“Partings are but bitter work at best, so that I shall not venture on a second with you. Pray make my respects to Mrs. Hoppner, and assure her of my unalterable reverence for the singular goodness of her disposition, which is not without its reward even in this world—for those who are no great believers in human virtues would discover enough in her to give them a better opinion of their fellow-creatures and—what is still more difficult—of themselves, as being of the .same species, however inferior in approaching its nobler models. Make, too, what excuses you can for my omission of the ceremony of leave-taking. If we all meet again, I will make my humblest apology; if not, recollect that I wished you all well; and, if you can, forget that I have given you a great deal of trouble.

“Yours, &c. &c.”
“Venice, December 10th, 1819.

“Since I last wrote, I have changed my mind, and shall not come to England. The more I contemplate, the more I dislike the place and the prospect. You may therefore address to me as usual here, though I mean to go to another city. I have finished the Third Canto of Don Juan, but the things I have read and heard discourage all further publication—at least for the present. You may try the copy question, but you’ll lose it: the cry is up, and cant is up. I should have no objection to return the price of the copyright, and have written to Mr. Kinnaird by this post on the subject. Talk with him.

292 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

“I have not the patience, nor do I feel interest enough in the question, to contend with the fellows in their own slang; but I perceive Mr. Blackwood’s Magazine and one or two others of your missives have been hyperbolical in their praise, and diabolical in their abuse. I like and admire W * * n, and he should not have indulged himself in such outrageous licence*. It is overdone and defeats itself. What would he say to the grossness without passion and the misanthropy without feeling of Gulliver’s Travels?—When he talks of Lady Byron’s business, he talks of what he knows nothing about; and you may tell him that no one can more desire a public investigation of that affair than I do.

“I sent home by Moore (for Moore only, who has my Journal also) my Memoir written up to 1816, and I gave him leave to show it to whom he pleased, but not to publish, on any account. You may read it, and you may let W * * n read it, if he likes—not for his public opinion, but his private; for I like the man, and care very little about his magazine. And I could wish Lady B. herself to read it, that she may have it in her power to mark any thing mistaken or misstated; as it may probably appear after my extinction, and it would be but fair she should see it,—that is to say, herself willing.

“Perhaps I may take a journey to you in the spring; but I have been ill and am indolent and indecisive, because few things interest me. These fellows first abused me for being gloomy, and now they are wroth that I am, or attempted to be, facetious. I have got such a cold and headache that I can hardly see what I scrawl;—the winters here are as sharp as needles. Some time ago, I wrote to you rather fully about my Italian affairs; at present I can say no more except that you shall hear further by and by.

Your Blackwood accuses me of treating women harshly: it may be so, but I have been their martyr; my whole life has been sacrificed to them and by them. I mean to leave Venice in a few days, but you

* This is one of the many mistakes into which his distance from the scene of literary operations led him. The gentleman to whom the hostile article in the Magazine is here attributed, has never, either then or since, written upon the subject of the noble poet’s character or genius, without giving vent to a feeling of admiration as enthusiastic as it is always eloquently and powerfully expressed.

A. D. 1819. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 293
will address your letters here as usual. When I fix elsewhere, you shall know.”

Soon after this letter to Mr. Murray he set out for Ravenna, from which place we shall find his correspondence for the next year and a half dated. For a short time after his arrival, he took up his residence at an inn; but the Count Guiccioli having allowed him to hire a suite of apartments in the Palazzo Guiccioli itself, he was once more lodged under the same roof with his mistress.

“Ravenna, Dec. 31st, 1819.

“I have been here this week, and was obliged to put on my armour and go the night after my arrival to the Marquis Cavalli’s, where there were between two and three hundred of the best company I have seen in Italy,—more beauty, more youth, and more diamonds among the women than have been seen these fifty years in the Sea-Sodom*. I never saw such a difference between two places of the same latitude (or platitude, it is all one),—music, dancing, and play, all in the same salle. The G.’s object appeared to be to parade her foreign lover as much as possible, and, faith, if she seemed to glory in the scandal, it was not for me to be ashamed of it. Nobody seemed surprised;—all the women, on the contrary, were, as it were, delighted with the excellent example. The vice-legate, and all the other vices, were as polite as could be;—and I, who had acted on the reserve, was fairly obliged to take the lady under my arm, and look as much like a cicisbeo as I could on so short a notice,—to say nothing of the embarrassment of a cocked hat and sword, much more formidable to me than ever it will be to the enemy.

* “Gehenna of the waters! thou Sea-Sodom!”

294 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1819.

“I write in great haste—do you answer as hastily. I can understand nothing of all this; but it seems as if the G. had been presumed to be planted, and was determined to show that she was not,—plantation, in this hemisphere, being the greatest moral misfortune. But this is mere conjecture, for I know nothing about it—except that every body are very kind to her, and not discourteous to me. Fathers, and all relations, quite agreeable.

“Yours ever,

“P.S. Best respects to Mrs. H.

“I would send the compliments of the season; but the season itself is so little complimentary with snow and rain that I wait for sunshine.”