LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Journal Entry: 29 January 1821

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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“January 29th, 1821.

“Yesterday the woman of ninety-five years of age was with me. She said her eldest son (if now alive) would have been seventy. She is thin—short, but active—hears, and sees. and talks incessantly. Several teeth left—all in the lower jaw, and single front teeth. She is very deeply wrinkled, and has a sort of scattered gray beard over her chin, at least as long as my mustachios. Her head, in fact, resembles the drawing in crayons of Pope the poet’s mother, which is in some editions of his works.

“I forgot to ask her if she remembered Alberoni (legate here), but will ask her next time. Gave her a louis—ordered her a new suit of clothes, and put her upon a weekly pension. Till now, she had worked at gathering wood and pine-nuts in the forest,—pretty work at ninety-five years old! She had a dozen children, of whom some are alive. Her name is Maria Montanari.

“Met a company of the sect (a kind of Liberal Club) called the ‘Americani’ in the forest, all armed, and singing, with all their might, in Romagnuole—‘Sem tutti soldat’ per la liberta’ (‘we are all soldiers for liberty’). They cheered me as I passed—I returned their salute, and rode on. This may show the spirit of Italy at present.

“My to-day’s journal consists of what I omitted yesterday. To-day was much as usual. Have rather a better opinion of the writings of the Schlegels than I had four-and-twenty hours ago; and will amend it still further, if possible.

“They say that the Piedmontese have at length risen—ça ira!

422 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1821.

“Read S * *. Of Dante he says that ‘at no time has the greatest and most national of all Italian poets ever been much the favourite of his countrymen.’ ’Tis false! There have been more editors and commentators (and imitators, ultimately) of Dante than of all their poets put together. Not a favourite! Why, they talk Dante—write Dante—and think and dream Dante at this moment (1821) to an excess, which would be ridiculous, but that he deserves it.

“In the same style this German talks of gondolas on the Arno—a precious fellow to dare to speak of Italy!

“He says also that Dante’s chief defect is a want, in a word, of gentle feelings. Of gentle feelings!—and Francesca of Rimini—and the father’s feelings in Ugolino—and Beatrice—and ‘La Pia!’ Why, there is a gentleness in Dante beyond all gentleness, when he is tender. It is true that, treating of the Christian Hades, or Hell, there is not much scope or site for gentleness—but who but Dante could have introduced any ‘gentleness’ at all into Hell? Is there any in Milton’s? No—and Dante’s Heaven is all love, and glory, and majesty.

“1 o’clock.

“I have found out, however, where the German is right—it is about the Vicar of Wakefield. ‘Of all romances in miniature (and, perhaps, this is the best shape in which romance can appear), the Vicar of Wakefield is, I think, the most exquisite.’ He thinks!—he might be sure. But it is very well for a S * *. I feel sleepy, and may as well get me to bed. Tomorrow there will be fine weather.

‘Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay.’