"Ever yours," &c.
[Footnote 127: With Milan, however, or its society, the noble traveller was far from being pleased, and in his Memoranda, I recollect, he described his stay there to be "like a ship under quarantine." Among other persons whom he met in the society of that place was M. Beyle, the ingenious author of "L'Histoire de la Peinture en Italie," who thus describes the impression their first interview left upon him:—
"Ce fut pendant l'automne de 1816, que je le rencontrai au theatre de la Scala, a Milan, dans la loge de M. Louis de Breme. Je fus frappe des yeux de Lord Byron au moment ou il ecoutait un sestetto d'un opera de Mayer intitule Elena. Je n'ai vu de ma vie, rien de plus beau ni de plus expressif. Encore aujourd'hui, si je viens a penser a l'expression qu'un grand peintre devrait donner an genie, cette tete sublime reparait tout-a-coup devant moi. J'eus un instant d'enthousiasme, et oubliant la juste repugnance que tout homme un peu fier doit avoir a se faire presenter a un pair d'Angleterre, je priai M. de Breme de m'introduire a Lord Byron, je me trouvai le lendemain a diner chez M. de Breme, avec lui, et le celebre Monti, l'immortel auteur de la Basvigliana. On parla poesie, on en vint a demander quels etaient les douze plus beaux vers faits depuis un siecle, en Francais, en Italien, en Anglais. Les Italiens presens s'accorderent a designer les douze premiers vers de la Mascheroniana de Monti, comme ce que l'on avait fait de plus beau dans leur langue, depuis cent ans. Monti voulut bien nous les reciter. Je regardai Lord Byron, il fut ravi. La nuance de hauteur, ou plutot l'air d'un homme qui se trouve avoir a repousser une importunite, qui deparait un peu sa belle figure, disparut tout-a-coup pour faire a l'expression du bonheur. Le premier chant de la Mascheroniana, que Monti recita presque en entier, vaincu par les acclamations des auditeurs, causa la plus vive sensation a l'auteur de Childe Harold. Je n'oublierai jamais l'expression divine de ses traits; c'etait l'air serein de la puissance et du genie, et suivant moi, Lord Byron n'avait, en ce moment, aucune affectation a se reprocher."]
* * * * *
LETTER 251. TO MR. MOORE.
"Verona, November 6. 1816.
"My dear Moore,
"Your letter, written before my departure from England, and addressed to me in London, only reached me recently. Since that period, I have been over a portion of that part of Europe which I had not already seen. About a month since, I crossed the Alps from Switzerland to Milan, which I left a few days ago, and am thus far on my way to Venice, where I shall probably winter. Yesterday I was on the shores of the Benacus, with his fluctibus et fremitu. Catullus's Sirmium has still its name and site, and is remembered for his sake: but the very heavy autumnal rains and mists prevented our quitting our route, (that is, Hobhouse and myself, who are at present voyaging together,) as it was better not to see it at all than to a great disadvantage.
"I found on the Benacus the same tradition of a city, still visible in calm weather below the waters, which you have preserved of Lough Neagh, 'When the clear, cold eve's declining.' I do not know that it is authorised by records; but they tell you such a story, and say that the city was swallowed up by an earthquake. We moved to-day over the frontier to Verona, by a road suspected of thieves,—'the wise convey it call,'—but without molestation. I shall remain here a day or two to gape at the usual marvels,—amphitheatre, paintings, and all that time-tax of travel,—though Catullus, Claudian, and Shakspeare have done more for Verona than it ever did for itself. They still pretend to show, I believe, the 'tomb of all the Capulets'—we shall see.
"Among many things at Milan, one pleased me particularly, viz. the correspondence (in the prettiest love-letters in the world) of Lucretia Borgia with Cardinal Bembo, (who, you say, made a very good cardinal,) and a lock of her hair, and some Spanish verses of hers,—the lock very fair and beautiful. I took one single hair of it as a relic, and wished sorely to get a copy of one or two of the letters; but it is prohibited: that I don't mind; but it was impracticable; and so I only got some of them by heart. They are kept in the Ambrosian Library, which I often visited to look them over—to the scandal of the librarian, who wanted to enlighten me with sundry valuable MSS., classical, philosophical, and pious. But I stick to the Pope's daughter, and wish myself a cardinal.
"I have seen the finest parts of Switzerland, the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Swiss and Italian lakes; for the beauties of which, I refer you to the Guidebook. The north of Italy is tolerably free from the English; but the south swarms with them, I am told. Madame de Stael I saw frequently at Copet, which she renders remarkably pleasant. She has been particularly kind to me. I was for some months her neighbour, in a country house called Diodati, which I had on the Lake of Geneva. My plans are very uncertain; but it is probable that you will see me in England in the spring. I have some business there. If you write to me, will you address to the care of Mons. Hentsch, Banquier, Geneva, who receives and forwards my letters. Remember me to Rogers, who wrote to me lately, with a short account of your poem, which, I trust, is near the light. He speaks of it most highly.
"My health is very endurable, except that I am subject to casual giddiness and faintness, which is so like a fine lady, that I am rather ashamed of the disorder. When I sailed, I had a physician with me, whom, after some months of patience, I found it expedient to part with, before I left Geneva some time. On arriving at Milan, I found this gentleman in very good society, where he prospered for some weeks: but, at length, at the theatre he quarrelled with an Austrian officer, and was sent out by the government in twenty-four hours. I was not present at his squabble; but, on hearing that he was put under arrest, I went and got him out of his confinement, but could not prevent his being sent off, which, indeed, he partly deserved, being quite in the wrong, and having begun a row for row's sake. I had preceded the Austrian government some weeks myself, in giving him his conge from Geneva. He is not a bad fellow, but very young and hot-headed, and more likely to incur diseases than to cure them. Hobhouse and myself found it useless to intercede for him. This happened some time before we left Milan. He is gone to Florence.
"At Milan I saw, and was visited by, Monti, the most celebrated of the living Italian poets. He seems near sixty; in face he is like the late Cooke the actor. His frequent changes in politics have made him very unpopular as a man. I saw many more of their literati; but none whose names are well known in England, except Acerbi. I lived much with the Italians, particularly with the Marquis of Breme's family, who are very able and intelligent men, especially the Abate. There was a famous improvvisatore who held forth while I was there. His fluency astonished me; but, although I understand Italian, and speak it (with more readiness than accuracy), I could only carry off a few very common-place mythological images, and one line about Artemisia, and another about Algiers, with sixty words of an entire tragedy about Etocles and Polynices. Some of the Italians liked him—others called his performance 'seccatura' (a devilish good word, by the way)—and all Milan was in controversy about him.
"The state of morals in these parts is in some sort lax. A mother and son were pointed out at the theatre, as being pronounced by the Milanese world to be of the Theban dynasty—but this was all. The narrator (one of the first men in Milan) seemed to be not sufficiently scandalised by the taste or the tie. All society in Milan is carried on at the opera: they have private boxes, where they play at cards, or talk, or any thing else; but (except at the Cassino) there are no open houses, or balls, &c. &c.
"The peasant girls have all very fine dark eyes, and many of them are beautiful. There are also two dead bodies in fine preservation—one Saint Carlo Boromeo, at Milan; the other not a saint, but a chief, named Visconti, at Monza—both of which appeared very agreeable. In one of the Boromean isles (the Isola bella), there is a large laurel—the largest known—on which Buonaparte, staying there just before the battle of Marengo, carved with his knife the word 'Battaglia.' I saw the letters, now half worn out and partly erased.
"Excuse this tedious letter. To be tiresome is the privilege of old age and absence: I avail myself of the latter, and the former I have anticipated. If I do not speak to you of my own affairs, it is not from want of confidence, but to spare you and myself. My day is over—what then?—I have had it. To be sure, I have shortened it; and if I had done as much by this letter, it would have been as well. But you will forgive that, if not the other faults of
"Yours ever and most affectionately,
"P.S. November 7. 1816.
"I have been over Verona. The amphitheatre is wonderful—beats even Greece. Of the truth of Juliet's story they seem tenacious to a degree, insisting on the fact—giving a date (1303), and showing a tomb. It is a plain, open, and partly decayed sarcophagus, with withered leaves in it, in a wild and desolate conventual garden, once a cemetery, now ruined to the very graves. The situation struck me as very appropriate to the legend, being blighted as their love. I have brought away a few pieces of the granite, to give to my daughter and my nieces. Of the other marvels of this city, paintings, antiquities, &c., excepting the tombs of the Scaliger princes, I have no pretensions to judge. The gothic monuments of the Scaligers pleased me, but 'a poor virtuoso am I,' and ever yours."
* * * * *
It must have been observed, in my account of Lord Byron's life previous to his marriage, that, without leaving altogether unnoticed (what, indeed, was too notorious to be so evaded) certain affairs of gallantry in which he had the reputation of being engaged, I have thought it right, besides refraining from such details in my narrative, to suppress also whatever passages in his Journals and Letters might be supposed to bear too personally or particularly on the same delicate topics. Incomplete as the strange history of his mind and heart must, in one of its most interesting chapters, be left by these omissions, still a deference to that peculiar sense of decorum in this country, which marks the mention of such frailties as hardly a less crime than the commission of them, and, still more, the regard due to the feelings of the living, who ought not rashly to be made to suffer for the errors of the dead, have combined to render this sacrifice, however much it may be regretted, necessary.
We have now, however, shifted the scene to a region where less caution is requisite;—where, from the different standard applied to female morals in these respects, if the wrong itself be not lessened by this diminution of the consciousness of it, less scruple may be, at least, felt towards persons so circumstanced, and whatever delicacy we may think right to exercise in speaking of their frailties must be with reference rather to our views and usages than theirs.
Availing myself, with this latter qualification, of the greater latitude thus allowed me, I shall venture so far to depart from the plan hitherto pursued, as to give, with but little suppression, the noble poet's letters relative to his Italian adventures. To throw a veil altogether over these irregularities of his private life would be to afford—were it even practicable—but a partial portraiture of his character; while, on the other hand, to rob him of the advantage of being himself the historian of his errors (where no injury to others can flow from the disclosure) would be to deprive him of whatever softening light can be thrown round such transgressions by the vivacity and fancy, the passionate love of beauty, and the strong yearning after affection which will be found to have, more or less, mingled with even the least refined of his attachments. Neither is any great danger to be apprehended from the sanction or seduction of such an example; as they who would dare to plead the authority of Lord Byron for their errors must first be able to trace them to the same palliating sources,—to that sensibility, whose very excesses showed its strength and depth,—that stretch of imagination, to the very verge, perhaps, of what reason can bear without giving way,—that whole combination, in short, of grand but disturbing powers, which alone could be allowed to extenuate such moral derangement, but which, even in him thus dangerously gifted, were insufficient to excuse it.
Having premised these few observations, I shall now proceed, with less interruption, to lay his correspondence, during this and the two succeeding years, before the reader:—
LETTER 252. TO MR. MOORE.
"Venice, November 17. 1816.
"I wrote to you from Verona the other day in my progress hither, which letter I hope you will receive. Some three years ago, or it may be more, I recollect your telling me that you had received a letter from our friend Sam, dated 'On board his gondola.' My gondola is, at this present, waiting for me on the canal; but I prefer writing to you in the house, it being autumn—and rather an English autumn than otherwise. It is my intention to remain at Venice during the winter, probably, as it has always been (next to the East) the greenest island of my imagination. It has not disappointed me; though its evident decay would, perhaps, have that effect upon others. But I have been familiar with ruins too long to dislike desolation. Besides, I have fallen in love, which, next to falling into the canal, (which would be of no use, as I can swim,) is the best or the worst thing I could do. I have got some extremely good apartments in the house of a 'Merchant of Venice,' who is a good deal occupied with business, and has a wife in her twenty-second year. Marianna (that is her name) is in her appearance altogether like an antelope. She has the large, black, oriental eyes, with that peculiar expression in them which is seen rarely among Europeans—even the Italians—and which many of the Turkish women give themselves by tinging the eyelid,—an art not known out of that country, I believe. This expression she has naturally,—and something more than this. In short, I cannot describe the effect of this kind of eye,—at least upon me. Her features are regular, and rather aquiline—mouth small—skin clear and soft, with a kind of hectic colour—forehead remarkably good: her hair is of the dark gloss, curl, and colour of Lady J * *'s: her figure is light and pretty, and she is a famous songstress—scientifically so; her natural voice (in conversation, I mean) is very sweet; and the naivete of the Venetian dialect is always pleasing in the mouth of a woman.
"You will perceive that my description, which was proceeding with the minuteness of a passport, has been interrupted for several days.
"Since my former dates, I do not know that I have much to add on the subject, and, luckily, nothing to take away; for I am more pleased than ever with my Venetian, and begin to feel very serious on that point—so much so, that I shall be silent.
"By way of divertisement, I am studying daily, at an Armenian monastery, the Armenian language. I found that my mind wanted something craggy to break upon; and this—as the most difficult thing I could discover here for an amusement—I have chosen, to torture me into attention. It is a rich language, however, and would amply repay any one the trouble of learning it. I try, and shall go on;—but I answer for nothing, least of all for my intentions or my success. There are some very curious MSS. in the monastery, as well as books; translations also from Greek originals, now lost, and from Persian and Syriac, &c.; besides works of their own people. Four years ago the French instituted an Armenian professorship. Twenty pupils presented themselves on Monday morning, full of noble ardour, ingenuous youth, and impregnable industry. They persevered, with a courage worthy of the nation and of universal conquest, till Thursday; when fifteen of the twenty succumbed to the six-and-twentieth letter of the alphabet. It is, to be sure, a Waterloo of an Alphabet—that must be said for them. But it is so like these fellows, to do by it as they did by their sovereigns—abandon both; to parody the old rhymes, 'Take a thing and give a thing'—'Take a king and give a king.' They are the worst of animals, except their conquerors.
"I hear that H——n is your neighbour, having a living in Derbyshire. You will find him an excellent-hearted fellow, as well as one of the cleverest; a little, perhaps, too much japanned by preferment in the church and the tuition of youth, as well as inoculated with the disease of domestic felicity, besides being over-run with fine feelings about woman and constancy (that small change of Love, which people exact so rigidly, receive in such counterfeit coin, and repay in baser metal); but, otherwise, a very worthy man, who has lately got a pretty wife, and (I suppose) a child by this time. Pray remember me to him, and say that I know not which to envy most his neighbourhood—him, or you.
"Of Venice I shall say little. You must have seen many descriptions; and they are most of them like. It is a poetical place; and classical, to us, from Shakspeare and Otway. I have not yet sinned against it in verse, nor do I know that I shall do so, having been tuneless since I crossed the Alps, and feeling, as yet, no renewal of the 'estro.' By the way, I suppose you have seen 'Glenarvon.' Madame de Stael lent it me to read from Copet last autumn. It seems to me that if the authoress had written the truth, and nothing but the truth—the whole truth—the romance would not only have been more romantic, but more entertaining. As for the likeness, the picture can't be good—I did not sit long enough. When you have leisure, let me hear from and of you, believing me ever and truly yours most affectionately, B.
"P.S. Oh! your poem—is it out? I hope Longman has paid his thousands: but don't you do as H * * T * *'s father did, who, having made money by a quarto tour, became a vinegar merchant; when, lo! his vinegar turned sweet (and be d——d to it) and ruined him. My last letter to you (from Verona) was enclosed to Murray—have you got it? Direct to me here, poste restante. There are no English here at present. There were several in Switzerland—some women; but, except Lady Dalrymple Hamilton, most of them as ugly as virtue—at least, those that I saw."
* * * * *
LETTER 253. TO MR. MOORE.
"Venice, December 24. 1816.
"I have taken a fit of writing to you, which portends postage—once from Verona—once from Venice, and again from Venice—thrice that is. For this you may thank yourself, for I heard that you complained of my silence—so, here goes for garrulity.
"I trust that you received my other twain of letters. My 'way of life' (or 'May of life,' which is it, according to the commentators?)—my 'way of life' is fallen into great regularity. In the mornings I go over in my gondola to babble Armenian with the friars of the convent of St. Lazarus, and to help one of them in correcting the English of an English and Armenian grammar which he is publishing. In the evenings I do one of many nothings—either at the theatres, or some of the conversaziones, which are like our routs, or rather worse, for the women sit in a semicircle by the lady of the mansion, and the men stand about the room. To be sure, there is one improvement upon ours—instead of lemonade with their ices, they hand about stiff rum-punch—punch, by my palate; and this they think English. I would not disabuse them of so agreeable an error,—'no, not for Venice.'
"Last night I was at the Count Governor's, which, of course, comprises the best society, and is very much like other gregarious meetings in every country,—as in ours,—except that, instead of the Bishop of Winchester, you have the Patriarch of Venice, and a motley crew of Austrians, Germans, noble Venetians, foreigners, and, if you see a quiz, you may be sure he is a Consul. Oh, by the way, I forgot, when I wrote from Verona, to tell you that at Milan I met with a countryman of yours—a Colonel * * * *, a very excellent, good-natured fellow, who knows and shows all about Milan, and is, as it were, a native there. He is particularly civil to strangers, and this is his history,—at least, an episode of it.
"Six-and-twenty years ago, Col. * * * *, then an ensign, being in Italy, fell in love with the Marchesa * * * *, and she with him. The lady must be, at least, twenty years his senior. The war broke out; he returned to England, to serve—not his country, for that's Ireland—but England, which is a different thing; and she—heaven knows what she did. In the year 1814, the first annunciation of the Definitive Treaty of Peace (and tyranny) was developed to the astonished Milanese by the arrival of Col. * * * *, who, flinging himself full length at the feet of Mad. * * * *, murmured forth, in half-forgotten Irish Italian, eternal vows of indelible constancy. The lady screamed, and exclaimed, 'Who are you?' The Colonel cried, 'What! don't you know me? I am so and so,' &c. &c. &c.; till, at length, the Marchesa, mounting from reminiscence to reminiscence, through the lovers of the intermediate twenty-five years, arrived at last at the recollection of her povero sub-lieutenant. She then said, 'Was there ever such virtue?' (that was her very word) and, being now a widow, gave him apartments in her palace, reinstated him in all the rights of wrong, and held him up to the admiring world as a miracle of incontinent fidelity, and the unshaken Abdiel of absence.
"Methinks this is as pretty a moral tale as any of Marmontel's. Here is another. The same lady, several years ago, made an escapade with a Swede, Count Fersen (the same whom the Stockholm mob quartered and lapidated not very long since), and they arrived at an Osteria on the road to Rome or thereabouts. It was a summer evening, and, while they were at supper, they were suddenly regaled by a symphony of fiddles in an adjacent apartment, so prettily played, that, wishing to hear them more distinctly, the Count rose, and going into the musical society, said, 'Gentlemen, I am sure that, as a company of gallant cavaliers, you will be delighted to show your skill to a lady, who feels anxious,' &c. &c. The men of harmony were all acquiescence—every instrument was tuned and toned, and, striking up one of their most ambrosial airs, the whole band followed the Count to the lady's apartment. At their head was the first fiddler, who, bowing and fiddling at the same moment, headed his troop and advanced up the room. Death and discord!—it was the Marquis himself, who was on a serenading party in the country, while his spouse had run away from town. The rest may be imagined—but, first of all, the lady tried to persuade him that she was there on purpose to meet him, and had chosen this method for an harmonic surprise. So much for this gossip, which amused me when I heard it, and I send it to you, in the hope it may have the like effect. Now we'll return to Venice.
"The day after to-morrow (to-morrow being Christmas-day) the Carnival begins. I dine with the Countess Albrizzi and a party, and go to the opera. On that day the Phenix, (not the Insurance Office, but) the theatre of that name, opens: I have got me a box there for the season, for two reasons, one of which is, that the music is remarkably good. The Contessa Albrizzi, of whom I have made mention, is the De Stael of Venice, not young, but a very learned, unaffected, good-natured woman, very polite to strangers, and, I believe, not at all dissolute, as most of the women are. She has written very well on the works of Canova, and also a volume of Characters, besides other printed matter. She is of Corfu, but married a dead Venetian—that is, dead since he married.
"My flame (my 'Donna' whom I spoke of in my former epistle, my Marianna) is still my Marianna, and I, her—what she pleases. She is by far the prettiest woman I have seen here, and the most loveable I have met with any where—as well as one of the most singular. I believe I told you the rise and progress of our liaison in my former letter. Lest that should not have reached you, I will merely repeat, that she is a Venetian, two-and-twenty years old, married to a merchant well to do in the world, and that she has great black oriental eyes, and all the qualities which her eyes promise. Whether being in love with her has steeled me or not, I do not know; but I have not seen many other women who seem pretty. The nobility, in particular, are a sad-looking race—the gentry rather better. And now, what art thou doing?
"What are you doing now, Oh Thomas Moore? What are you doing now, Oh Thomas Moore? Sighing or suing now, Rhyming or wooing now, Billing or cooing now, Which, Thomas Moore?
Are you not near the Luddites? By the Lord! if there's a row, but I'll be among ye! How go on the weavers—the breakers of frames—the Lutherans of politics—the reformers?
"As the Liberty lads o'er the sea Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood, So we, boys, we Will die fighting, or live free, And down with all kings but King Ludd!
"When the web that we weave is complete, And the shuttle exchanged for the sword, We will fling the winding-sheet O'er the despot at our feet, And dye it deep in the gore he has pour'd.
"Though black as his heart its hue, Since his veins are corrupted to mud, Yet this is the dew Which the tree shall renew Of Liberty, planted by Ludd!
"There's an amiable chanson for you—all impromptu. I have written it principally to shock your neighbour * * * *, who is all clergy and loyalty—mirth and innocence—milk and water.
"But the Carnival's coming, Oh Thomas Moore, The Carnival's coming, Oh Thomas Moore, Masking and humming, Fifing and drumming, Guitarring and strumming, Oh Thomas Moore.
The other night I saw a new play,—and the author. The subject was the sacrifice of Isaac. The play succeeded, and they called for the author—according to continental custom—and he presented himself, a noble Venetian, Mali, or Malapiero, by name. Mala was his name, and pessima his production,—at least, I thought so, and I ought to know, having read more or less of five hundred Drury Lane offerings, during my coadjutorship with the sub-and-super Committee.
"When does your poem of poems come out? I hear that the E.R. has cut up Coleridge's Christabel, and declared against me for praising it. I praised it, firstly, because I thought well of it; secondly, because Coleridge was in great distress, and, after doing what little I could for him in essentials, I thought that the public avowal of my good opinion might help him further, at least with the booksellers. I am very sorry that J * * has attacked him, because, poor fellow, it will hurt him in mind and pocket. As for me, he's welcome—I shall never think less of J * * for any thing he may say against me or mine in future.
"I suppose Murray has sent you, or will send (for I do not know whether they are out or no) the poem, or poesies, of mine, of last summer. By the mass! they are sublime—'Ganion Coheriza'—gainsay who dares! Pray, let me hear from you, and of you, and, at least, let me know that you have received these three letters. Direct, right here, poste restante.
"Ever and ever, &c.
"P.S. I heard the other day of a pretty trick of a bookseller, who has published some d——d nonsense, swearing the bastards to me, and saying he gave me five hundred guineas for them. He lies—never wrote such stuff, never saw the poems, nor the publisher of them, in my life, nor had any communication, directly or indirectly, with the fellow. Pray say as much for me, if need be. I have written to Murray, to make him contradict the impostor."
* * * * *
LETTER 254. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, November 25. 1816.
"It is some months since I have heard from or of you—I think, not since I left Diodati. From Milan I wrote once or twice; but have been here some little time, and intend to pass the winter without removing. I was much pleased with the Lago di Garda, and with Verona, particularly the amphitheatre, and a sarcophagus in a convent garden, which they show as Juliet's: they insist on the truth of her history. Since my arrival at Venice, the lady of the Austrian governor told me that between Verona and Vicenza there are still ruins of the castle of the Montecchi, and a chapel once appertaining to the Capulets. Romeo seems to have been of Vicenza by the tradition; but I was a good deal surprised to find so firm a faith in Bandello's novel, which seems really to have been founded on a fact.
"Venice pleases me as much as I expected, and I expected much. It is one of those places which I know before I see them, and has always haunted me the most after the East. I like the gloomy gaiety of their gondolas, and the silence of their canals. I do not even dislike the evident decay of the city, though I regret the singularity of its vanished costume; however, there is much left still; the Carnival, too, is coming.
"St. Mark's, and indeed Venice, is most alive at night. The theatres are not open till nine, and the society is proportionably late. All this is to my taste, but most of your countrymen miss and regret the rattle of hackney coaches, without which they can't sleep.
"I have got remarkably good apartments in a private house; I see something of the inhabitants (having had a good many letters to some of them); I have got my gondola; I read a little, and luckily could speak Italian (more fluently than correctly) long ago, I am studying, out of curiosity, the Venetian dialect, which is very naive, and soft, and peculiar, though not at all classical; I go out frequently, and am in very good contentment.
"The Helen of Canova (a bust which is in the house of Madame the Countess d'Albrizzi, whom I know) is, without exception, to my mind, the most perfectly beautiful of human conceptions, and far beyond my ideas of human execution.
"In this beloved marble view, Above the works and thoughts of man, What Nature could, but would not, do, And Beauty and Canova can! Beyond imagination's power, Beyond the bard's defeated art, With immortality her dower, Behold the Helen of the heart!
"Talking of the 'heart' reminds me that I have fallen in love—fathomless love; but lest you should make some splendid mistake, and envy me the possession of some of those princesses or countesses with whose affections your English voyagers are apt to invest themselves, I beg leave to tell you that my goddess is only the wife of a 'Merchant of Venice;' but then she is pretty as an antelope, is but two-and-twenty years old, has the large, black, oriental eyes, with the Italian countenance, and dark glossy hair, of the curl and colour of Lady J * *'s. Then she has the voice of a lute, and the song of a seraph (though not quite so sacred), besides a long postscript of graces, virtues, and accomplishments, enough to furnish out a new chapter for Solomon's Song. But her great merit is finding out mine—there is nothing so amiable as discernment.
"The general race of women appear to be handsome; but in Italy, as on almost all the Continent, the highest orders are by no means a well-looking generation, and indeed reckoned by their countrymen very much otherwise. Some are exceptions, but most of them as ugly as Virtue herself.
"If you write, address to me here, poste restante, as I shall probably stay the winter over. I never see a newspaper, and know nothing of England, except in a letter now and then from my sister. Of the MS. sent you, I know nothing, except that you have received it, and are to publish it, &c. &c.: but when, where, and how, you leave me to guess; but it don't much matter.
"I suppose you have a world of works passing through your process for next year? When does Moore's poem appear? I sent a letter for him, addressed to your care, the other day."
* * * * *
LETTER 255. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, December 4, 1816.
"I have written to you so frequently of late, that you will think me a bore; as I think you a very impolite person, for not answering my letters from Switzerland, Milan, Verona, and Venice. There are some things I wanted, and want, to know, viz. whether Mr. Davies, of inaccurate memory, had or had not delivered the MS. as delivered to him; because, if he has not, you will find that he will bountifully bestow transcriptions on all the curious of his acquaintance, in which case you may probably find your publication anticipated by the 'Cambridge' or other Chronicles. In the next place,—I forget what was next; but in the third place, I want to hear whether you have yet published, or when you mean to do so, or why you have not done so, because in your last (Sept. 20th,—you may be ashamed of the date), you talked of this being done immediately.
"From England I hear nothing, and know nothing of any thing or any body. I have but one correspondent (except Mr. Kinnaird on business now and then), and her a female; so that I know no more of your island, or city, than the Italian version of the French papers chooses to tell me, or the advertisements of Mr. Colburn tagged to the end of your Quarterly Review for the year ago. I wrote to you at some length last week, and have little to add, except that I have begun, and am proceeding in, a study of the Armenian language, which I acquire, as well as I can, at the Armenian convent, where I go every day to take lessons of a learned friar, and have gained some singular and not useless information with regard to the literature and customs of that oriental people. They have an establishment here—a church and convent of ninety monks, very learned and accomplished men, some of them. They have also a press, and make great efforts for the enlightening of their nation. I find the language (which is twin, the literal and the vulgar) difficult, but not invincible (at least I hope not). I shall go on. I found it necessary to twist my mind round some severer study, and this, as being the hardest I could devise here, will be a file for the serpent.
"I mean to remain here till the spring, so address to me directly to Venice, poste restante.—Mr. Hobhouse, for the present, is gone to Rome, with his brother, brother's wife, and sister, who overtook him here: he returns in two months. I should have gone too, but I fell in love, and must stay that over. I should think that and the Armenian alphabet will last the winter. The lady has, luckily for me, been less obdurate than the language, or, between the two, I should have lost my remains of sanity. By the way, she is not an Armenian but a Venetian, as I believe I told you in my last. As for Italian, I am fluent enough, even in its Venetian modification, which is something like the Somersetshire version of English; and as for the more classical dialects, I had not forgot my former practice much during my voyaging.
"Yours, ever and truly,
"P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford."
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LETTER 256. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, Dec. 9. 1816.
"In a letter from England, I am informed that a man named Johnson has taken upon himself to publish some poems called a 'Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a Tempest, and an Address to my Daughter,' &c., and to attribute them to me, adding that he had paid five hundred guineas for them. The answer to this is short: I never wrote such poems, never received the sum he mentions, nor any other in the same quarter, nor (as far as moral or mortal certainty can be sure) ever had, directly or indirectly, the slightest communication with Johnson in my life; not being aware that the person existed till this intelligence gave me to understand that there were such people. Nothing surprises me, or this perhaps would, and most things amuse me, or this probably would not. With regard to myself, the man has merely lied; that's natural; his betters have set him the example. But with regard to you, his assertion may perhaps injure you in your publications; and I desire that it may receive the most public and unqualified contradiction. I do not know that there is any punishment for a thing of this kind, and if there were, I should not feel disposed to pursue this ingenious mountebank farther than was necessary for his confutation; but thus far it may be necessary to proceed.
"You will make what use you please of this letter; and Mr. Kinnaird, who has power to act for me in my absence, will, I am sure, readily join you in any steps which it may be proper to take with regard to the absurd falsehood of this poor creature. As you will have recently received several letters from me on my way to Venice, as well as two written since my arrival, I will not at present trouble you further.
"P.S. Pray let me hear that you have received this letter. Address to Venice, poste restante.
"To prevent the recurrence of similar fabrications, you may state, that I consider myself responsible for no publication from the year 1812 up to the present date which is not from your press. I speak of course from that period, because, previously, Cawthorn and Ridge had both printed compositions of mine. 'A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem!' How the devil should I write about Jerusalem, never having yet been there? As for 'A Tempest,' it was not a tempest when I left England, but a very fresh breeze: and as to an 'Address to little Ada,' (who, by the way, is a year old to-morrow,) I never wrote a line about her, except in 'Farewell' and the third Canto of Childe Harold."
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LETTER 257. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, Dec. 27. 1816.
"As the demon of silence seems to have possessed you, I am determined to have my revenge in postage; this is my sixth or seventh letter since summer and Switzerland. My last was an injunction to contradict and consign to confusion that Cheapside impostor, who (I heard by a letter from your island) had thought proper to append my name to his spurious poesy, of which I know nothing, nor of his pretended purchase or copyright. I hope you have, at least, received that letter.
"As the news of Venice must be very interesting to you, I will regale you with it.
"Yesterday being the feast of St. Stephen, every mouth was put in motion. There was nothing but fiddling and playing on the virginals, and all kinds of conceits and divertissements, on every canal of this aquatic city. I dined with the Countess Albrizzi and a Paduan and Venetian party, and afterwards went to the opera, at the Fenice theatre (which opens for the Carnival on that day),—the finest, by the way, I have ever seen: it beats our theatres hollow in beauty and scenery, and those of Milan and Brescia bow before it. The opera and its sirens were much like other operas and women, but the subject of the said opera was something edifying; it turned—the plot and conduct thereof—upon a fact narrated by Livy of a hundred and fifty married ladies having poisoned a hundred and fifty husbands in good old times. The bachelors of Rome believed this extraordinary mortality to be merely the common effect of matrimony or a pestilence; but the surviving Benedicts, being all seized with the cholic, examined into the matter, and found that 'their possets had been drugged;' the consequence of which was, much scandal and several suits at law. This is really and truly the subject of the musical piece at the Fenice; and you can't conceive what pretty things are sung and recitativoed about the horrenda strage. The conclusion was a lady's head about to be chopped off by a lictor, but (I am sorry to say) he left it on, and she got up and sung a trio with the two Consuls, the Senate in the back-ground being chorus. The ballet was distinguished by nothing remarkable, except that the principal she-dancer went into convulsions because she was not applauded on her first appearance; and the manager came forward to ask if there was 'ever a physician in the theatre.' There was a Greek one in my box, whom I wished very much to volunteer his services, being sure that in this case these would have been the last convulsions which would have troubled the ballarina; but he would not. The crowd was enormous, and in coming out, having a lady under my arm, I was obliged, in making way, almost to 'beat a Venetian and traduce the state,' being compelled to regale a person with an English punch in the guts, which sent him as far back as the squeeze and the passage would admit. He did not ask for another, but, with great signs of disapprobation and dismay, appealed to his compatriots, who laughed at him.
"I am going on with my Armenian studies in a morning, and assisting and stimulating in the English portion of an English and Armenian grammar, now publishing at the convent of St. Lazarus.
"The superior of the friars is a bishop, and a fine old fellow, with the beard of a meteor. Father Paschal is also a learned and pious soul. He was two years in England.
"I am still dreadfully in love with the Adriatic lady whom I spake of in a former letter, (and not in this—I add, for fear of mistakes, for the only one mentioned in the first part of this epistle is elderly and bookish, two things which I have ceased to admire,) and love in this part of the world is no sinecure. This is also the season when every body make up their intrigues for the ensuing year, and cut for partners for the next deal.
"And now, if you don't write, I don't know what I won't say or do, nor what I will. Send me some news—good news. Yours very truly, &c. &c. &c.
"P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford, with all duty.
"I hear that the Edinburgh Review has cut up Coleridge's Christabel, and me for praising it, which omen, I think, bodes no great good to your forthcome or coming Canto and Castle (of Chillon). My run of luck within the last year seems to have taken a turn every way; but never mind, I will bring myself through in the end—if not, I can be but where I began. In the mean time, I am not displeased to be where I am—I mean, at Venice. My Adriatic nymph is this moment here, and I must therefore repose from this letter."
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LETTER 258. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, Jan. 2. 1817.
"Your letter has arrived. Pray, in publishing the third Canto, have you omitted any passages? I hope not; and indeed wrote to you on my way over the Alps to prevent such an incident. Say in your next whether or not the whole of the Canto (as sent to you) has been published. I wrote to you again the other day, (twice, I think,) and shall be glad to hear of the reception of those letters.
"To-day is the 2d of January. On this day three years ago The Corsair's publication is dated, I think, in my letter to Moore. On this day two years I married, ('Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,'—I sha'n't forget the day in a hurry,) and it is odd enough that I this day received a letter from you announcing the publication of Childe Harold, &c. &c. on the day of the date of 'The Corsair;' and I also received one from my sister, written on the 10th of December, my daughter's birth-day (and relative chiefly to my daughter), and arriving on the day of the date of my marriage, this present 2d of January, the month of my birth,—and various other astrologous matters, which I have no time to enumerate.
"By the way, you might as well write to Hentsch, my Geneva banker, and enquire whether the two packets consigned to his care were or were not delivered to Mr. St. Aubyn, or if they are still in his keeping. One contains papers, letters, and all the original MS. of your third Canto, as first conceived; and the other, some bones from the field of Morat. Many thanks for your news, and the good spirits in which your letter is written.
"Venice and I agree very well; but I do not know that I have any thing new to say, except of the last new opera, which I sent in my late letter. The Carnival is commencing, and there is a good deal of fun here and there—besides business; for all the world are making up their intrigues for the season, changing, or going on upon a renewed lease. I am very well off with Marianna, who is not at all a person to tire me; firstly, because I do not tire of a woman personally, but because they are generally bores in their disposition; and, secondly, because she is amiable, and has a tact which is not always the portion of the fair creation; and, thirdly, she is very pretty; and, fourthly—but there is no occasion for further specification. So far we have gone on very well; as to the future, I never anticipate—carpe diem—the past at least is one's own, which is one reason for making sure of the present. So much for my proper liaison.
"The general state of morals here is much the same as in the Doges' time; a woman is virtuous (according to the code) who limits herself to her husband and one lover; those who have two, three, or more, are a little wild; but it is only those who are indiscriminately diffuse, and form a low connection, such as the Princess of Wales with her courier, (who, by the way, is made a knight of Malta,) who are considered as overstepping the modesty of marriage. In Venice, the nobility have a trick of marrying with dancers and singers; and, truth to say, the women of their own order are by no means handsome; but the general race, the women of the second and other orders, the wives of the merchants, and proprietors, and untitled gentry, are mostly bel' sangue, and it is with these that the more amatory connections are usually formed. There are also instances of stupendous constancy. I know a woman of fifty who never had but one lover, who dying early, she became devout, renouncing all but her husband. She piques herself, as may be presumed, upon this miraculous fidelity, talking of it occasionally with a species of misplaced morality, which is rather amusing. There is no convincing a woman here that she is in the smallest degree deviating from the rule of right or the fitness of things in having an amoroso. The great sin seems to lie in concealing it, or having more than one, that is, unless such an extension of the prerogative is understood and approved of by the prior claimant.
"In another sheet, I send you some sheets of a grammar, English and Armenian, for the use of the Armenians, of which I promoted, and indeed induced, the publication. (It cost me but a thousand francs—French livres.) I still pursue my lessons in the language without any rapid progress, but advancing a little daily. Padre Paschal, with some little help from me, as translator of his Italian into English, is also proceeding in a MS. Grammar for the English acquisition of Armenian, which will be printed also, when finished.
"We want to know if there are any Armenian types and letter-press in England, at Oxford, Cambridge, or elsewhere? You know, I suppose, that, many years ago, the two Whistons published in England an original text of a history of Armenia, with their own Latin translation? Do those types still exist? and where? Pray enquire among your learned acquaintance.
"When this Grammar (I mean the one now printing) is done, will you have any objection to take forty or fifty copies, which will not cost in all above five or ten guineas, and try the curiosity of the learned with a sale of them? Say yes or no, as you like. I can assure you that they have some very curious books and MSS., chiefly translations from Greek originals now lost. They are, besides, a much respected and learned community, and the study of their language was taken up with great ardour by some literary Frenchmen in Buonaparte's time.
"I have not done a stitch of poetry since I left Switzerland, and have not, at present, the estro upon me. The truth is, that you are afraid of having a fourth Canto before September, and of another copyright, but I have at present no thoughts of resuming that poem, nor of beginning any other. If I write, I think of trying prose, but I dread introducing living people, or applications which might be made to living people. Perhaps one day or other I may attempt some work of fancy in prose, descriptive of Italian manners and of human passions; but at present I am preoccupied. As for poesy, mine is the dream of the sleeping passions; when they are awake, I cannot speak their language, only in their somnambulism, and just now they are not dormant.
"If Mr. Gifford wants carte blanche as to The Siege of Corinth, he has it, and may do as he likes with it.
"I sent you a letter contradictory of the Cheapside man (who invented the story you speak of) the other day. My best respects to Mr. Gifford, and such of my friends as you may see at your house. I wish you all prosperity and new year's gratulation, and am
* * * * *
To the Armenian Grammar, mentioned in the foregoing letter, the following interesting fragment, found among his papers, seems to have been intended as a Preface:—
"The English reader will probably be surprised to find my name associated with a work of the present description, and inclined to give me more credit for my attainments as a linguist than they deserve.
"As I would not willingly be guilty of a deception, I will state, as shortly as I can, my own share in the compilation, with the motives which led to it. On my arrival at Venice, in the year 1816, I found my mind in a state which required study, and study of a nature which should leave little scope for the imagination, and furnish some difficulty in the pursuit.
"At this period I was much struck—in common, I believe, with every other traveller—with the society of the Convent of St. Lazarus, which appears to unite all the advantages of the monastic institution, without any of its vices.
"The neatness, the comfort, the gentleness, the unaffected devotion, the accomplishments, and the virtues of the brethren of the order, are well fitted to strike the man of the world with the conviction that 'there is another and a better' even in this life.
"These men are the priesthood of an oppressed and a noble nation, which has partaken of the proscription and bondage of the Jews and of the Greeks, without the sullenness of the former or the servility of the latter. This people has attained riches without usury, and all the honours that can be awarded to slavery without intrigue. But they have long occupied, nevertheless, a part of 'the House of Bondage,' who has lately multiplied her many mansions. It would be difficult, perhaps, to find the annals of a nation less stained with crimes than those of the Armenians, whose virtues have been those of peace, and their vices those of compulsion. But whatever may have been their destiny—and it has been bitter—whatever it may be in future, their country must ever be one of the most interesting on the globe; and perhaps their language only requires to be more studied to become more attractive. If the Scriptures are rightly understood, it was in Armenia that Paradise was placed—Armenia, which has paid as dearly as the descendants of Adam for that fleeting participation of its soil in the happiness of him who was created from its dust. It was in Armenia that the flood first abated, and the dove alighted. But with the disappearance of Paradise itself may be dated almost the unhappiness of the country; for though long a powerful kingdom, it was scarcely ever an independent one, and the satraps of Persia and the pachas of Turkey have alike desolated the region where God created man in his own image."
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LETTER 259. TO MR. MOORE.
"Venice, January 28. 1817.
"Your letter of the 8th is before me. The remedy for your plethora is simple—abstinence. I was obliged to have recourse to the like some years ago, I mean in point of diet, and, with the exception of some convivial weeks and days, (it might be months, now and then,) have kept to Pythagoras ever since. For all this, let me hear that you are better. You must not indulge in 'filthy beer,' nor in porter, nor eat suppers—the last are the devil to those who swallow dinner.
"I am truly sorry to hear of your father's misfortune—cruel at any time, but doubly cruel in advanced life. However, you will, at least, have the satisfaction of doing your part by him, and depend upon it, it will not be in vain. Fortune, to be sure, is a female, but not such a b * * as the rest (always excepting your wife and my sister from such sweeping terms); for she generally has some justice in the long run. I have no spite against her, though between her and Nemesis I have had some sore gauntlets to run—but then I have done my best to deserve no better. But to you, she is a good deal in arrear, and she will come round—mind if she don't: you have the vigour of life, of independence, of talent, spirit, and character all with you. What you can do for yourself, you have done and will do; and surely there are some others in the world who would not be sorry to be of use, if you would allow them to be useful, or at least attempt it.
"I think of being in England in the spring. If there is a row, by the sceptre of King Ludd, but I'll be one; and if there is none, and only a continuance of 'this meek, piping time of peace,' I will take a cottage a hundred yards to the south of your abode, and become your neighbour; and we will compose such canticles, and hold such dialogues, as shall be the terror of the Times (including the newspaper of that name), and the wonder, and honour, and praise of the Morning Chronicle and posterity.
"I rejoice to hear of your forthcoming in February—though I tremble for the 'magnificence' which you attribute to the new Childe Harold. I am glad you like it; it is a fine indistinct piece of poetical desolation, and my favourite. I was half mad during the time of its composition, between metaphysics, mountains, lakes, love unextinguishable, thoughts unutterable, and the night-mare of my own delinquencies. I should, many a good day, have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law; and, even then, if I could have been certain to haunt her—but I won't dwell upon these trifling family matters.
"Venice is in the estro of her carnival, and I have been up these last two nights at the ridotto and the opera, and all that kind of thing. Now for an adventure. A few days ago a gondolier brought me a billet without a subscription, intimating a wish on the part of the writer to meet me either in gondola, or at the island of San Lazaro, or at a third rendezvous, indicated in the note. 'I know the country's disposition well'—in Venice 'they do let Heaven see those tricks they dare not show,' &c. &c.; so, for all response, I said that neither of the three places suited me; but that I would either be at home at ten at night alone, or be at the ridotto at midnight, where the writer might meet me masked. At ten o'clock I was at home and alone (Marianna was gone with her husband to a conversazione), when the door of my apartment opened, and in walked a well-looking and (for an Italian) bionda girl of about nineteen, who informed me that she was married to the brother of my amorosa, and wished to have some conversation with me. I made a decent reply, and we had some talk in Italian and Romaic (her mother being a Greek of Corfu), when lo! in a very few minutes in marches, to my very great astonishment, Marianna S * *, in propria persona, and after making a most polite courtesy to her sister-in-law and to me, without a single word seizes her said sister-in-law by the hair, and bestows upon her some sixteen slaps, which would have made your ear ache only to hear their echo. I need not describe the screaming which ensued. The luckless visiter took flight. I seized Marianna, who, after several vain efforts to get away in pursuit of the enemy, fairly went into fits in my arms; and, in spite of reasoning, eau de Cologne, vinegar, half a pint of water, and God knows what other waters beside, continued so till past midnight.
"After damning my servants for letting people in without apprizing me, I found that Marianna in the morning had seen her sister-in-law's gondolier on the stairs, and, suspecting that his apparition boded her no good, had either returned of her own accord, or been followed by her maids or some other spy of her people to the conversazione, from whence she returned to perpetrate this piece of pugilism. I had seen fits before, and also some small scenery of the same genus in and out of our island: but this was not all. After about an hour, in comes—who? why, Signor S * *, her lord and husband, and finds me with his wife fainting upon a sofa, and all the apparatus of confusion, dishevelled hair, hats, handkerchiefs, salts, smelling bottles—and the lady as pale as ashes, without sense or motion. His first question was, 'What is all this?' The lady could not reply—so I did. I told him the explanation was the easiest thing in the world; but in the mean time it would be as well to recover his wife—at least, her senses. This came about in due time of suspiration and respiration.
"You need not be alarmed—jealousy is not the order of the day in Venice, and daggers are out of fashion, while duels, on love matters, are unknown—at least, with the husbands. But, for all this, it was an awkward affair; and though he must have known that I made love to Marianna, yet I believe he was not, till that evening, aware of the extent to which it had gone. It is very well known that almost all the married women have a lover; but it is usual to keep up the forms, as in other nations. I did not, therefore, know what the devil to say. I could not out with the truth, out of regard to her, and I did not choose to lie for my sake;—besides, the thing told itself. I thought the best way would be to let her explain it as she chose (a woman being never at a loss—the devil always sticks by them)—only determining to protect and carry her off, in case of any ferocity on the part of the Signor. I saw that he was quite calm. She went to bed, and next day—how they settled it, I know not, but settle it they did. Well—then I had to explain to Marianna about this never-to-be-sufficiently-confounded sister-in-law; which I did by swearing innocence, eternal constancy, &c. &c. But the sister-in-law, very much discomposed with being treated in such wise, has (not having her own shame before her eyes) told the affair to half Venice, and the servants (who were summoned by the fight and the fainting) to the other half. But, here, nobody minds such trifles, except to be amused by them. I don't know whether you will be so, but I have scrawled a long letter out of these follies.
"Believe me ever," &c.
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LETTER 260. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, January 24. 1817.
"I have been requested by the Countess Albrizzi here to present her with 'the Works;' and wish you therefore to send me a copy, that I may comply with her requisition. You may include the last published, of which I have seen and know nothing, but from your letter of the 13th of December.
"Mrs. Leigh tells me that most of her friends prefer the two first Cantos. I do not know whether this be the general opinion or not (it is not hers); but it is natural it should be so. I, however, think differently, which is natural also; but who is right, or who is wrong, is of very little consequence.
"Dr. Polidori, as I hear from him by letter from Pisa, is about to return to England, to go to the Brazils on a medical speculation with the Danish consul. As you are in the favour of the powers that be, could you not get him some letters of recommendation from some of your government friends to some of the Portuguese settlers? He understands his profession well, and has no want of general talents; his faults are the faults of a pardonable vanity and youth. His remaining with me was out of the question: I have enough to do to manage my own scrapes; and as precepts without example are not the most gracious homilies, I thought it better to give him his conge: but I know no great harm of him, and some good. He is clever and accomplished; knows his profession, by all accounts, well; and is honourable in his dealings, and not at all malevolent. I think, with luck, he will turn out a useful member of society (from which he will lop the diseased members) and the College of Physicians. If you can be of any use to him, or know any one who can, pray be so, as he has his fortune to make. He has kept a medical journal under the eye of Vacca (the first surgeon on the Continent) at Pisa: Vacca has corrected it, and it must contain some valuable hints or information on the practice of this country. If you can aid him in publishing this also, by your influence with your brethren, do; I do not ask you to publish it yourself, because that sort of request is too personal and embarrassing. He has also a tragedy, of which, having seen nothing, I say nothing: but the very circumstance of his having made these efforts (if they are only efforts), at one-and-twenty, is in his favour, and proves him to have good dispositions for his own improvement. So if, in the way of commendation or recommendation, you can aid his objects with your government friends, I wish you would, I should think some of your Admiralty Board might be likely to have it in their power."
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LETTER 261. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, February 15. 1817.
"I have received your two letters, but not the parcel you mention. As the Waterloo spoils are arrived, I will make you a present of them, if you choose to accept of them; pray do.
"I do not exactly understand from your letter what has been omitted, or what not, in the publication; but I shall see probably some day or other. I could not attribute any but a good motive to Mr. Gifford or yourself in such omission; but as our politics are so very opposite, we should probably differ as to the passages. However, if it is only a note or notes, or a line or so, it cannot signify. You say 'a poem;' what poem? You can tell me in your next.
"Of Mr. Hobhouse's quarrel with the Quarterly Review, I know very little except * * 's article itself, which was certainly harsh enough; but I quite agree that it would have been better not to answer—particularly after Mr. W.W., who never more will trouble you, trouble you. I have been uneasy, because Mr. H. told me that his letter or preface was to be addressed to me. Now, he and I are friends of many years; I have many obligations to him, and he none to me, which have not been cancelled and more than repaid; but Mr. Gifford and I are friends also, and he has moreover been literally so, through thick and thin, in despite of difference of years, morals, habits, and even politics; and therefore I feel in a very awkward situation between the two, Mr. Gifford and my friend Hobhouse, and can only wish that they had no difference, or that such as they have were accommodated. The Answer I have not seen, for—it is odd enough for people so intimate—but Mr. Hobhouse and I are very sparing of our literary confidences. For example, the other day he wished to have a MS. of the third Canto to read over to his brother, &c., which was refused;—and I have never seen his journals, nor he mine—(I only kept the short one of the mountains for my sister)—nor do I think that hardly ever he or I saw any of the other's productions previous to their publication.
"The article in the Edinburgh Review on Coleridge I have not seen; but whether I am attacked in it or not, or in any other of the same journal, I shall never think ill of Mr. Jeffrey on that account, nor forget that his conduct towards me has been certainly most handsome during the last four or more years.
"I forgot to mention to you that a kind of Poem in dialogue (in blank verse) or Drama, from which 'The Incantation' is an extract, begun last summer in Switzerland, is finished; it is in three acts; but of a very wild, metaphysical, and inexplicable kind. Almost all the persons—but two or three—are Spirits of the earth and air, or the waters; the scene is in the Alps; the hero a kind of magician, who is tormented by a species of remorse, the cause of which is left half unexplained. He wanders about invoking these Spirits, which appear to him, and are of no use; he at last goes to the very abode of the Evil Principle, in propria persona, to evocate a ghost, which appears, and gives him an ambiguous and disagreeable answer; and in the third act he is found by his attendants dying in a tower where he had studied his art. You may perceive by this outline that I have no great opinion of this piece of fantasy; but I have at least rendered it quite impossible for the stage, for which my intercourse with Drury Lane has given me the greatest contempt.
"I have not even copied it off, and feel too lazy at present to attempt the whole; but when I have, I will send it you, and you may either throw it into the fire or not."
[Footnote 128: Manfred.]
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LETTER 262. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, February 25. 1817.
"I wrote to you the other day in answer to your letter; at present I would trouble you with a commission, if you would be kind enough to undertake it.
"You, perhaps, know Mr. Love, the jeweller, of Old Bond Street? In 1813, when in the intention of returning to Turkey, I purchased of him, and paid (argent comptant) for about a dozen snuff-boxes, of more or less value, as presents for some of my Mussulman acquaintance. These I have now with me. The other day, having occasion to make an alteration in the lid of one (to place a portrait in it), it has turned out to be silver-gilt instead of gold, for which last it was sold and paid for. This was discovered by the workman in trying it, before taking off the hinges and working upon the lid. I have of course recalled and preserved the box in statu quo. What I wish you to do is, to see the said Mr. Love, and inform him of this circumstance, adding, from me, that I will take care he shall not have done this with impunity.
"If there is no remedy in law, there is at least the equitable one of making known his guilt,—that is, his silver-gilt, and be d——d to him.
"I shall carefully preserve all the purchases I made of him on that occasion for my return, as the plague in Turkey is a barrier to travelling there at present, or rather the endless quarantine which would be the consequence before one could land in coming back. Pray state the matter to him with due ferocity.
"I sent you the other day some extracts from a kind of Drama which I had begun in Switzerland and finished here; you will tell me if they are received. They were only in a letter. I have not yet had energy to copy it out, or I would send you the whole in different covers.
"The Carnival closed this day last week.
"Mr. Hobhouse is still at Rome, I believe. I am at present a little unwell;—sitting up too late and some subsidiary dissipations have lowered my blood a good deal; but I have at present the quiet and temperance of Lent before me.
"Believe me, &c.
"P.S. Remember me to Mr. Gifford—I have not received your parcel or parcels.—Look into 'Moore's (Dr. Moore's) View of Italy' for me; in one of the volumes you will find an account of the Doge Valiere (it ought to be Falieri) and his conspiracy, or the motives of it. Get it transcribed for me, and send it in a letter to me soon. I want it, and cannot find so good an account of that business here; though the veiled patriot, and the place where he was crowned, and afterwards decapitated, still exist and are shown. I have searched all their histories; but the policy of the old aristocracy made their writers silent on his motives, which were a private grievance against one of the patricians.
"I mean to write a tragedy on the subject, which appears to me very dramatic; an old man, jealous, and conspiring against the state of which he was the actually reigning chief. The last circumstance makes it the most remarkable and only fact of the kind in all history of all nations."
* * * * *
LETTER 263. TO MR. MOORE.
"Venice, February 28. 1817.
"You will, perhaps, complain as much of the frequency of my letters now, as you were wont to do of their rarity. I think this is the fourth within as many moons. I feel anxious to hear from you, even more than usual, because your last indicated that you were unwell. At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival—that is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o'nights, had knocked me up a little. But it is over,—and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and sacred music.
"The mumming closed with a masked ball at the Fenice, where I went, as also to most of the ridottos, &c. &c.; and, though I did not dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find 'the sword wearing out the scabbard,' though I have but just turned the corner of twenty-nine.
"So, we'll go no more a roving So late into the night, Though the heart be still as loving, And the moon be still as bright. For the sword out-wears its sheath, And the soul wears out the breast, And the heart must pause to breathe, And Love itself have rest. Though the night was made for loving, And the day returns too soon, Yet we'll go no more a roving By the light of the moon.
I have lately had some news of litteratoor, as I heard the editor of the Monthly pronounce it once upon a time. I hear that W.W. has been publishing and responding to the attacks of the Quarterly, in the learned Perry's Chronicle. I read his poesies last autumn, and, amongst them, found an epitaph on his bull-dog, and another on myself. But I beg leave to assure him (like the astrologer Partridge) that I am not only alive now, but was alive also at the time he wrote it. Hobhouse has (I hear, also) expectorated a letter against the Quarterly, addressed to me. I feel awkwardly situated between him and Gifford, both being my friends.
"And this is your month of going to press—by the body of Diana! (a Venetian oath,) I feel as anxious—but not fearful for you—as if it were myself coming out in a work of humour, which would, you know, be the antipodes of all my previous publications. I don't think you have any thing to dread but your own reputation. You must keep up to that. As you never showed me a line of your work, I do not even know your measure; but you must send me a copy by Murray forthwith, and then you shall hear what I think. I dare say you are in a pucker. Of all authors, you are the only really modest one I ever met with,—which would sound oddly enough to those who recollect your morals when you were young—that is, when you were extremely young—don't mean to stigmatise you either with years or morality.
"I believe I told you that the E.R. had attacked me, in an article on Coleridge (I have not seen it)—'Et tu, Jeffrey?'—'there is nothing but roguery in villanous man.' But I absolve him of all attacks, present and future; for I think he had already pushed his clemency in my behoof to the utmost, and I shall always think well of him. I only wonder he did not begin before, as my domestic destruction was a fine opening for all the world, of which all who could did well to avail themselves.
"If I live ten years longer, you will see, however, that it is not over with me—I don't mean in literature, for that is nothing; and it may seem odd enough to say, I do not think it my vocation. But you will see that I shall do something or other—the times and fortune permitting—that, 'like the cosmogony, or creation of the world, will puzzle the philosophers of all ages.' But I doubt whether my constitution will hold out. I have, at intervals, exorcised it most devilishly.
"I have not yet fixed a time of return, but I think of the spring. I shall have been away a year in April next. You never mention Rogers, nor Hodgson, your clerical neighbour, who has lately got a living near you. Has he also got a child yet?—his desideratum, when I saw him last.
"Pray let me hear from you, at your time and leisure, believing me ever and truly and affectionately," &c.
* * * * *
LETTER 264. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, March 3. 1817.
"In acknowledging the arrival of the article from the 'Quarterly,' which I received two days ago, I cannot express myself better than in the words of my sister Augusta, who (speaking of it) says, that it is written in a spirit 'of the most feeling and kind nature.' It is, however, something more; it seems to me (as far as the subject of it may be permitted to judge) to be very well written as a composition, and I think will do the journal no discredit, because even those who condemn its partiality must praise its generosity. The temptations to take another and a less favourable view of the question have been so great and numerous, that, what with public opinion, politics, &c. he must be a gallant as well as a good man, who has ventured in that place, and at this time, to write such an article even anonymously. Such things are, however, their own reward; and I even flatter myself that the writer, whoever he may be (and I have no guess), will not regret that the perusal of this has given me as much gratification as any composition of that nature could give, and more than any other has given,—and I have had a good many in my time of one kind or the other. It is not the mere praise, but there is a tact and a delicacy throughout, not only with regard to me, but to others, which, as it had not been observed elsewhere, I had till now doubted whether it could be observed any where.
"Perhaps some day or other you will know or tell me the writer's name. Be assured, had the article been a harsh one, I should not have asked it.
"I have lately written to you frequently, with extracts, &c., which I hope you have received, or will receive, with or before this letter.—Ever since the conclusion of the Carnival I have been unwell, (do not mention this, on any account, to Mrs. Leigh; for if I grow worse, she will know it too soon, and if I get better, there is no occasion that she should know it at all,) and have hardly stirred out of the house. However, I don't want a physician, and if I did, very luckily those of Italy are the worst in the world, so that I should still have a chance. They have, I believe, one famous surgeon, Vacca, who lives at Pisa, who might be useful in case of dissection:—but he is some hundred miles off. My malady is a sort of lowish fever, originating from what my 'pastor and master,' Jackson, would call 'taking too much out of one's self.' However, I am better within this day or two.
"I missed seeing the new Patriarch's procession to St. Mark's the other day (owing to my indisposition), with six hundred and fifty priests in his rear—a 'goodly army.' The admirable government of Vienna, in its edict from thence, authorising his installation, prescribed, as part of the pageant, 'a coach and four horses.' To show how very, very 'German to the matter' this was, you have only to suppose our parliament commanding the Archbishop of Canterbury to proceed from Hyde Park Corner to St. Paul's Cathedral in the Lord Mayor's barge, or the Margate hoy. There is but St. Mark's Place in all Venice broad enough for a carriage to move, and it is paved with large smooth flag-stones, so that the chariot and horses of Elijah himself would be puzzled to manoeuvre upon it. Those of Pharaoh might do better; for the canals—and particularly the Grand Canal—are sufficiently capacious and extensive for his whole host. Of course, no coach could be attempted; but the Venetians, who are very naive as well as arch, were much amused with the ordinance.
"The Armenian Grammar is published; but my Armenian studies are suspended for the present till my head aches a little less. I sent you the other day, in two covers, the first Act of 'Manfred,' a drama as mad as Nat. Lee's Bedlam tragedy, which was in 25 acts and some odd scenes:—mine is but in Three Acts.
"I find I have begun this letter at the wrong end: never mind; I must end it, then, at the right.
"Yours ever very truly and obligedly," &c.
[Footnote 129: An article in No. 31. of this Review, written, as Lord Byron afterwards discovered, by Sir Walter Scott, and well meriting, by the kind and generous spirit that breathes through it, the warm and lasting gratitude it awakened in the noble poet.]
* * * * *
LETTER 265. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, March 9. 1817.
"In remitting the third Act of the sort of dramatic poem of which you will by this time have received the two first (at least I hope so), which were sent within the last three weeks, I have little to observe, except that you must not publish it (if it ever is published) without giving me previous notice. I have really and truly no notion whether it is good or bad; and as this was not the case with the principal of my former publications, I am, therefore, inclined to rank it very humbly. You will submit it to Mr. Gifford, and to whomsoever you please besides. With regard to the question of copyright (if it ever comes to publication), I do not know whether you would think three hundred guineas an over-estimate; if you do, you may diminish it: I do not think it worth more; so you may see I make some difference between it and the others.
"I have received your two Reviews (but not the 'Tales of my Landlord'); the Quarterly I acknowledged particularly to you, on its arrival, ten days ago. What you tell me of Perry petrifies me; it is a rank imposition. In or about February or March, 1816, I was given to understand that Mr. Croker was not only a coadjutor in the attacks of the Courier in 1814, but the author of some lines tolerably ferocious, then recently published in a morning paper. Upon this I wrote a reprisal. The whole of the lines I have forgotten, and even the purport of them I scarcely remember; for on your assuring me that he was not, &c. &c., I put them into the fire before your face, and there never was but that one rough copy. Mr. Davies, the only person who ever heard them read, wanted a copy, which I refused. If, however, by some impossibility, which I cannot divine, the ghost of these rhymes should walk into the world, I never will deny what I have really written, but hold myself personally responsible for satisfaction, though I reserve to myself the right of disavowing all or any fabrications. To the previous facts you are a witness, and best know how far my recapitulation is correct; and I request that you will inform Mr. Perry from me, that I wonder he should permit such an abuse of my name in his paper; I say an abuse, because my absence, at least, demands some respect, and my presence and positive sanction could alone justify him in such a proceeding, even were the lines mine; and if false, there are no words for him. I repeat to you that the original was burnt before you on your assurance, and there never was a copy, nor even a verbal repetition,—very much to the discomfort of some zealous Whigs, who bored me for them (having heard it bruited by Mr. Davies that there were such matters) to no purpose; for, having written them solely with the notion that Mr. Croker was the aggressor, and for my own and not party reprisals, I would not lend me to the zeal of any sect when I was made aware that he was not the writer of the offensive passages. You know, if there was such a thing, I would not deny it. I mentioned it openly at the time to you, and you will remember why and where I destroyed it; and no power nor wheedling on earth should have made, or could make, me (if I recollected them) give a copy after that, unless I was well assured that Mr. Croker was really the author of that which you assured me he was not.
"I intend for England this spring, where I have some affairs to adjust; but the post hurries me. For this month past I have been unwell, but am getting better, and thinking of moving homewards towards May, without going to Rome, as the unhealthy season comes on soon, and I can return when I have settled the business I go upon, which need not be long. I should have thought the Assyrian tale very succeedable.
"I saw, in Mr. W.W.'s poetry, that he had written my epitaph; I would rather have written his.
"The thing I have sent you, you will see at a glimpse, could never be attempted or thought of for the stage; I much doubt it for publication even. It is too much in my old style; but I composed it actually with a horror of the stage, and with a view to render the thought of it impracticable, knowing the zeal of my friends that I should try that for which I have an invincible repugnance, viz. a representation.
"I certainly am a devil of a mannerist, and must leave off; but what could I do? Without exertion of some kind, I should have sunk under my imagination and reality. My best respects to Mr. Gifford, to Walter Scott, and to all friends.
* * * * *
LETTER 266. TO MR. MOORE.
"Venice, March 10. 1817.
"I wrote again to you lately, but I hope you won't be sorry to have another epistle. I have been unwell this last month, with a kind of slow and low fever, which fixes upon me at night, and goes off in the morning; but, however, I am now better. In spring it is probable we may meet; at least I intend for England, where I have business, and hope to meet you in your restored health and additional laurels.
"Murray has sent me the Quarterly and the Edinburgh. When I tell you that Walter Scott is the author of the article in the former, you will agree with me that such an article is still more honourable to him than to myself. I am perfectly pleased with Jeffrey's also, which I wish you to tell him, with my remembrances—not that I suppose it is of any consequence to him, or ever could have been, whether I am pleased or not, but simply in my private relation to him, as his well-wisher, and it may be one day as his acquaintance. I wish you would also add, what you know, that I was not, and, indeed, am not even now, the misanthropical and gloomy gentleman he takes me for, but a facetious companion, well to do with those with whom I am intimate, and as loquacious and laughing as if I were a much cleverer fellow.
"I suppose now I shall never be able to shake off my sables in public imagination, more particularly since my moral * * clove down my fame. However, nor that, nor more than that, has yet extinguished my spirit, which always rises with the rebound.
"At Venice we are in Lent, and I have not lately moved out of doors, my feverishness requiring quiet, and—by way of being more quiet—here is the Signora Marianna just come in and seated at my elbow.
"Have you seen * * *'s book of poesy? and, if you have seen it, are you not delighted with it? And have you—I really cannot go on: there is a pair of great black eyes looking over my shoulder, like the angel leaning over St. Matthew's, in the old frontispieces to the Evangelists,—so that I must turn and answer them instead of you.
* * * * *
LETTER 267. TO MR. MOORE.
"Venice, March 25. 1817.
"I have at last learned, in default of your own writing (or not writing—which should it be? for I am not very clear as to the application of the word default) from Murray, two particulars of (or belonging to) you; one, that you are removing to Hornsey, which is, I presume, to be nearer London; and the other, that your Poem is announced by the name of Lalla Rookh. I am glad of it,—first, that we are to have it at last, and next, I like a tough title myself—witness The Giaour and Childe Harold, which choked half the Blues at starting. Besides, it is the tail of Alcibiades's dog,—not that I suppose you want either dog or tail. Talking of tail, I wish you had not called it a 'Persian Tale' Say a 'Poem' or 'Romance,' but not 'Tale.' I am very sorry that I called some of my own things 'Tales,' because I think that they are something better. Besides, we have had Arabian, and Hindoo, and Turkish, and Assyrian Tales. But, after all, this is frivolous in me; you won't, however, mind my nonsense.
"Really and truly, I want you to make a great hit, if only out of self-love, because we happen to be old cronies; and I have no doubt you will—I am sure you can. But you are, I'll be sworn, in a devil of a pucker; and I am not at your elbow, and Rogers is. I envy him; which is not fair, because he does not envy any body. Mind you send to me—that is, make Murray send—the moment you are forth.
"I have been very ill with a slow fever, which at last took to flying, and became as quick as need be. But, at length, after a week of half-delirium, burning skin, thirst, hot headach, horrible pulsation, and no sleep, by the blessing of barley water, and refusing to see any physician, I recovered. It is an epidemic of the place, which is annual, and visits strangers. Here follow some versicles, which I made one sleepless night.
"I read the 'Christabel;' Very well: I read the 'Missionary;' Pretty—very: I tried at 'Ilderim;' Ahem; I read a sheet of 'Marg'ret of Anjou;' Can you? I turn'd a page of * *'s 'Waterloo;' Pooh! pooh! I look'd at Wordsworth's milk-white 'Rylstone Doe:' Hillo! &c. &c. &c.
"I have not the least idea where I am going, nor what I am to do. I wished to have gone to Rome; but at present it is pestilent with English,—a parcel of staring boobies, who go about gaping and wishing to be at once cheap and magnificent. A man is a fool who travels now in France or Italy, till this tribe of wretches is swept home again. In two or three years the first rush will be over, and the Continent will be roomy and agreeable.
"I stayed at Venice chiefly because it is not one of their 'dens of thieves;' and here they but pause and pass. In Switzerland it was really noxious. Luckily, I was early, and had got the prettiest place on all the Lake before they were quickened into motion with the rest of the reptiles. But they crossed me every where. I met a family of children and old women half-way up the Wengen Alp (by the Jungfrau) upon mules, some of them too old and others too young to be the least aware of what they saw.
"By the way, I think the Jungfrau, and all that region of Alps, which I traversed in September—going to the very top of the Wengen, which is not the highest (the Jungfrau itself is inaccessible) but the best point of view—much finer than Mont-Blanc and Chamouni, or the Simplon I kept a journal of the whole for my sister Augusta, part of which she copied and let Murray see.
"I wrote a sort of mad Drama, for the sake of introducing the Alpine scenery in description: and this I sent lately to Murray. Almost all the dram. pers. are spirits, ghosts, or magicians, and the scene is in the Alps and the other world, so you may suppose what a Bedlam tragedy it must be: make him show it you. I sent him all three acts piece-meal, by the post, and suppose they have arrived.
"I have now written to you at least six letters, or lettered, and all I have received in return is a note about the length you used to write from Bury Street to St. James's Street, when we used to dine with Rogers, and talk laxly, and go to parties, and hear poor Sheridan now and then. Do you remember one night he was so tipsy that I was forced to put his cocked hat on for him,—for he could not,—and I let him down at Brookes's, much as he must since have been let down into his grave. Heigh ho! I wish I was drunk—but I have nothing but this d——d barley-water before me.
"I am still in love,—which is a dreadful drawback in quitting a place, and I can't stay at Venice much longer. What I shall do on this point I don't know. The girl means to go with me, but I do not like this for her own sake. I have had so many conflicts in my own mind on this subject, that I am not at all sure they did not help me to the fever I mentioned above. I am certainly very much attached to her, and I have cause to be so, if you knew all. But she has a child; and though, like all the 'children of the sun,' she consults nothing but passion, it is necessary I should think for both; and it is only the virtuous, like * * * *, who can afford to give up husband and child, and live happy ever after.
"The Italian ethics are the most singular ever met with. The perversion, not only of action, but of reasoning, is singular in the women. It is not that they do not consider the thing itself as wrong, and very wrong, but love (the sentiment of love) is not merely an excuse for it, but makes it an actual virtue, provided it is disinterested, and not a caprice, and is confined to one object. They have awful notions of constancy; for I have seen some ancient figures of eighty pointed out as amorosi of forty, fifty, and sixty years' standing. I can't say I have ever seen a husband and wife so coupled.
"P.S. Marianna, to whom I have just translated what I have written on our subject to you, says—'If you loved me thoroughly, you would not make so many fine reflections, which are only good forbirsi i scarpi,'—that is, 'to clean shoes withal,'—a Venetian proverb of appreciation, which is applicable to reasoning of all kinds."
[Footnote 130: He had been misinformed on this point,—the work in question having been, from the first, entitled an "Oriental Romance." A much worse mistake (because wilful, and with no very charitable design) was that of certain persons, who would have it that the poem was meant to be epic!—Even Mr. D'Israeli has, for the sake of a theory, given in to this very gratuitous assumption:—"The Anacreontic poet," he says, "remains only Anacreontic in his Epic."]
[Footnote 131: In a note to Mr. Murray, subjoined to some corrections for Manfred, he says, "Since I wrote to you last, the slow fever I wot of thought proper to mend its pace, and became similar to one which I caught some years ago in the marshes of Elis, in the Morea."]
* * * * *
LETTER 268. TO MR. MURRAY.
"Venice, March 25. 1817.
"Your letter and enclosure are safe; but 'English gentlemen' are very rare—at least in Venice. I doubt whether there are at present any, save, the consul and vice-consul, with neither of whom I have the slightest acquaintance. The moment I can pounce upon a witness, I will send the deed properly signed: but must he necessarily be genteel? Venice is not a place where the English are gregarious; their pigeon-houses are Florence, Naples, Rome, &c.; and to tell you the truth, this was one reason why I stayed here till the season of the purgation of Rome from these people, which is infected with them at this time, should arrive. Besides, I abhor the nation and the nation me; it is impossible for me to describe my own sensation on that point, but it may suffice to say, that, if I met with any of the race in the beautiful parts of Switzerland, the most distant glimpse or aspect of them poisoned the whole scene, and I do not choose to have the Pantheon, and St. Peter's, and the Capitol, spoiled for me too. This feeling may be probably owing to recent events; but it does not exist the less, and while it exists, I shall conceal it as little as any other.
"I have been seriously ill with a fever, but it is gone. I believe or suppose it was the indigenous fever of the place, which comes every year at this time, and of which the physicians change the name annually, to despatch the people sooner. It is a kind of typhus, and kills occasionally. It was pretty smart, but nothing particular, and has left me some debility and a great appetite. There are a good many ill at present, I suppose, of the same.
"I feel sorry for Horner, if there was any thing in the world to make him like it; and still more sorry for his friends, as there was much to make them regret him. I had not heard of his death till by your letter.
"Some weeks ago I wrote to you my acknowledgments of Walter Scott's article. Now I know it to be his, it cannot add to my good opinion of him, but it adds to that of myself. He, and Gifford, and Moore, are the only regulars I ever knew who had nothing of the garrison about their manner: no nonsense, nor affectations, look you! As for the rest whom I have known, there was always more or less of the author about them—the pen peeping from behind the ear, and the thumbs a little inky, or so.
"'Lalla Rookh'—you must recollect that, in the way of title, the 'Giaour' has never been pronounced to this day; and both it and Childe Harold sounded very facetious to the blue-bottles of wit and humour about town, till they were taught and startled into a proper deportment; and therefore Lalla Rookh, which is very orthodox and oriental, is as good a title as need be, if not better. I could wish rather that he had not called it 'a Persian Tale;' firstly, because we have had Turkish Tales, and Hindoo Tales, and Assyrian Tales, already; and tale is a word of which it repents me to have nicknamed poesy. 'Fable' would be better; and, secondly, 'Persian Tale' reminds one of the lines of Pope on Ambrose Phillips; though no one can say, to be sure, that this tale has been 'turned for half-a-crown;' still it is as well to avoid such clashings. 'Persian Story'—why not?—or Romance? I feel as anxious for Moore as I could do for myself, for the soul of me, and I would not have him succeed otherwise than splendidly, which I trust he will do.