LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 1 March 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
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“Ravenna, March 1st, 1820.

“I sent you by last post the translation of the First Canto of the Morgante Maggiore, and wish you to ask Rose about the word ‘sbergo,’ i. e. ‘usbergo,’ which I have translated cuirass. I suspect that it means helmet also. Now, if so, which of the senses is best accordant with the text? I have adopted cuirass, but will be amenable to reasons. Of the natives, some say one, and some t’ other; but they are no great Tuscans in Romagna. However, I will ask Sgricci (the famous improvisatore) to-morrow, who is a native of Arezzo. The Countess Guiccioli, who is reckoned a very cultivated young lady, and the dictionary, say cuirass. I have written cuirass, but helmet runs in my head nevertheless—and will run in verse very well, whilk is the principal point. I will ask the Sposa Spina Spinelli, too, the Florentine bride of Count Gabriel Rusponi, just imported from Florence, and get the sense out of somebody.

“I have just been visiting the new Cardinal, who arrived the day before yesterday in his legation. He seems a good old gentleman, pious
306 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1820.
and simple, and not quite like his predecessor, who was a bon-vivant, in the worldly sense of the words.

“Enclosed is a letter which I received some time ago from Dallas. It will explain itself. I have not answered it. This comes of doing people good. At one time or another (including copyrights) this person has had about fourteen hundred pounds of my money, and he writes what he calls a posthumous work about me, and a scrubby letter accusing me of treating him ill, when I never did any such thing. It is true that I left off letter-writing, as I have done with almost every body else; but I can’t see how that was misusing him.

“I look upon his epistle as the consequence of my not sending him another hundred pounds, which he wrote to me for about two years ago, and which I thought proper to withhold, he having had his share, methought, of what I could dispone upon others.

“In your last you ask me after my articles of domestic wants: I believe they are as usual: the bull-dogs, magnesia, soda-powders, tooth-powders, brushes, and every thing of the kind which are here unattainable. You still ask me to return to England: alas to what purpose? You do not know what you are requiring. Return, I must, probably, some day or other (if I live), sooner or later; but it will not be for pleasure, nor can it end in good. You inquire after my health and spirits in large letters: my health can’t be very bad, for I cured myself of a sharp tertian ague, in three weeks, with cold water, which had held my stoutest gondolier for months, notwithstanding all the bark of the apothecary,—a circumstance which surprised Dr. Aglietti, who said it was a proof of great stamina, particularly in so epidemic a season. I did it out of dislike to the taste of bark (which I can’t bear), and succeeded, contrary to the prophecies of every body, by simply taking nothing at all. As to spirits, they are unequal, now high, now low, like other people’s, I suppose, and depending upon circumstances.

“Pray send me W. Scott’s new novels. What are their names and characters? I read some of his former ones, at least once a day, for an hour or so. The last are too hurried: he forgets Ravenswood’s name, and calls him Edgar and then Norman; and Girder, the cooper, is styled
A. D. 1820. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 307
now Gilbert, and now John; and he don’t make enough of
Montrose; but Dalgetty is excellent, and so is Lucy Ashton, and the b—h her mother. What is Ivanhoe? and what do you call his other? are there two? Pray make him write at least two a year: I like no reading so well.

“The editor of the Bologna Telegraph has sent me a paper with extracts from Mr. Mulock’s (his name always reminds me of Muley Moloch of Morocco) ‘Atheism answered,’ in which there is a long eulogium of my poesy, and a great ‘compatimento’ for my misery. I never could understand what they mean by amusing me of irreglion. However, they may have it their own way. This gentleman seems to be my great admirer, so I take what he says in good part, as he evidently intends kindness, to which I can’t accuse myself of being invincible.

“Yours, &c.”