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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to Richard Belgrave Hoppner, 11 May 1821

Life of Byron: to 1806
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Life of Byron: 1814
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Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
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Life of Byron: 1817
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Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
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Life of Byron: 1824
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“Ravenna, May 11th, 1821.

“If I had but known your notion about Switzerland before, I should have adopted it at once. As it is, I shall let the child remain in her convent, where she seems healthy and happy, for the present; but I shall feel much obliged if you will inquire, when you are in the cantons, about the usual and better modes of education there for females, and let me know the result of your opinions. It is some consolation that both Mr. and Mrs. Shelley have written to approve entirely my placing the child with the nuns for the present. I can refer to my whole conduct, as having neither spared care, kindness, nor expense, since the child was sent to me. The people may say what they please, I must content myself with not deserving (in this instance) that they should speak ill.

“The place is a country town, in a good air, where there is a large establishment for education, and many children, some of considerable rank, placed in it. As a country town, it is less liable to objections of every kind. It has always appeared to me, that the moral defect in Italy does not proceed from a conventual education,—because, to my certain knowledge, they come out of their convents innocent even to ignorance of moral evil,—but to the state of society into which they are directly plunged on coming out of it. It is like educating an infant on a mountain-top, and then taking him to the sea and throwing him into it and desiring him to swim. The evil, however, though still too general, is partly wearing away, as the women are more permitted to marry from attachment: this is, I believe, the case also in France. And, after all, what is the higher society of England? According to my own experience, and to all that I have seen and heard (and I have lived there in the very highest and what is called the best), no way of life can be more corrupt. In Italy, however, it is, or rather was, more systematized; but now, they themselves are ashamed of regular Serventism. In England, the only homage which they pay to virtue is hypocrisy. I speak of course of the tone of high life,—the middle ranks may be very virtuous.

A. D. 1821. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 481

“I have not got any copy (nor have yet had) of the letter on Bowles; of course I should be delighted to send it to you. How is Mrs. H.? well again, I hope. Let me know when you set out. I regret that I cannot meet you in the Bernese Alps this summer, as I once hoped and intended. With my best respects to madam,

“I am ever, &c.

“P.S. I gave to a musicianer a letter for you some time ago—has he presented himself? Perhaps you could introduce him to the Ingrams and other dilettanti. He is simple and unassuming—two strange things in his profession—and he fiddles like Orpheus himself or Amphion ’tis a pity that he can’t make Venice dance away from the brutal tyrant who tramples upon it.”