LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 8 October 1820

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Ravenna, 8bre 8°, 1820.

Foscolo’s letter is exactly the thing wanted; firstly, because he is a man of genius; and, next, because he is an Italian, and therefore the best judge of Italics. Besides,
‘He’s more an antique Roman than a Dane;’
that is, he is more of the ancient Greek than of the modern Italian. Though ‘somewhat,’ as Dugald Dalgetty says, ‘too wild and salvage’ (like ‘Ronald of the Mist’), ’tis a wonderful man, and my friends Hobhouse and Rose both swear by him; and they are good judges of men and of Italian humanity.
‘Here are in all two worthy voices gain’d:’
Gifford says it is good ‘sterling genuine English,’ and Foscolo says that the characters are right Venetian. Shakspeare and Otway had a million of advantages over me, besides the incalculable one of being dead from one to two centuries, and having been both born blackguards (which are such attractions to the gentle living reader); let me then preserve the only one which I could possibly have—that of having been at Venice, and entered more into the local spirit of it. I claim no more.

“I know what Foscolo means about Calendaro’s spitting at Bertram; that’s national—the objection, I mean. The Italians and French, with those ‘flags of abomination,’ their pocket handkerchiefs, spit there, and here, and every where else—in your face almost, and therefore object to it on the stage as too familiar. But we who spit nowhere—but in a man’s face when we grow savage—are not likely to feel this. Remember Massinger, and Kean’s Sir Giles Overreach—
‘Lord! thus I spit at thee and at thy counsel!’
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 351
Besides, Calendaro does not spit in Bertram’s face; he spits at him, as I have seen the Mussulmans do upon the ground when they are in a rage. Again, he does not in fact despise Bertram, though he affects it,—as we all do, when angry with one we think our inferior. He is angry at not being allowed to die in his own way (although not afraid of death); and recollect that he suspected and hated Bertram from the first. Israel Bertuccio, on the other hand, is a cooler and more concentrated fellow: he acts upon principle and impulse; Calendaro upon impulse and example.

“So there’s argument for you.

“The Doge repeats;—true, but it is from engrossing passion, and because he sees different persons, and is always obliged to recur to the cause uppermost in his mind. His speeches are long;—true, but I wrote for the closet, and on the French and Italian model rather than yours, which I think not very highly of, for all your old dramatists, who are long enough too, God knows:—look into any of them.

“I return you Foscolo’s letter, because it alludes also to his private affairs. I am sorry to see such a man in straits, because I know what they are, or what they were. I never met but three men who would have held out a finger to me: one was yourself, the other William Bankes, and the other a nobleman long ago dead: but of these the first was the only one who offered it while I really wanted it; the second from goodwill—but I was not in need of Bankes’s aid, and would not have accepted it if I had (though flove and esteem him);—and the third — *.

“So you see that I have seen some strange things in my time. As for your own offer, it was in 1815, when I was in actual uncertainty of five pounds. I rejected it; but I have not forgotten it, although you probably have.

“P.S. Foscolo’s Ricciardo was lent, with the leaves uncut, to some Italians, now in villeggiatura, so that I have had no opportunity of hearing their decision, or of reading it. They seized on it as Foscolo’s, and on account of the beauty of the paper and printing, directly. If I find it takes, I will reprint it here. The Italians think as highly of Foscolo

* The paragraph is left thus imperfect in the original.

352 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
as they can of any man, divided and miserable as they are, and with neither leisure at present to read, nor head nor heart to judge of any thing but extracts from French newspapers and the
Lugano Gazette.

“We are all looking at one another, like wolves on their prey in pursuit, only waiting for the first falling on to do unutterable things. They are a great world in chaos, or angels in hell, which you please; but out of chaos came paradise, and out of hell—I don’t know what; but the devil went in there, and he was a fine fellow once, you know.

“You need never favour me with any periodical publication, except the Edinburgh, Quarterly, and an occasional Blackwood; or now and then a Monthly Review: for the rest I do not feel curiosity enough to look beyond their covers.

“To be sure I took in the Editor of the British finely. He fell precisely into the glaring trap laid for him. It was inconceivable how he could be so absurd as to imagine us serious with him.

“Recollect, that if you put my name to ‘Don Juan’ in these canting days, any lawyer might oppose my guardian right of my daughter in chancery, on the plea of its containing the parody;—such are the perils of a foolish jest. I was not aware of this at the time, but you will find it correct, I believe; and you may be sure that the Noels would not let it slip. Now I prefer my child to a poem at any time, and so should you, as having half a dozen.

“Let me know your notions.

“If you turn over the earlier pages of the Huntingdon peerage story, you will see how common a name Ada was in the early Plantagenet days. I found it in my own pedigree in the reign of John and Henry, and gave it to my daughter. It was also the name of Charlemagne’s sister. It is in an early chapter of Genesis, as the name of the wife of Lamech; and I suppose Ada is the feminine of Adam. It is short, ancient, vocalic, and had been in my family; for which reason I gave it to my daughter.”