« AnteriorContinuar »
My Dear Henry,—Our ducking last night has added fire, instead of quenching the nautical ardour which produced it; and I consider it a good omen in any enterprise, that it begins in evil; as being more probable that it will end in good. I hope you have not suffered from it. I am rather feverish, but very well as to the side, whence I expected the worst consequences. I send you directions for the complete equipment of our boat, since you have so kindly promised to undertake it. In putting into execution, a little more or less expense in so trifling an affair, is to be disregarded. I need not say that the approaching season invites expedition. You can put her in hand immediately, and write the day on which we may come for her.
We expect with impatience the arrival of our false friends, who have so long cheated us with delay ; and Mary unites with me in desiring, that, as you participated equally in the crime, you should not be omitted in the expiation. All good be with you.—Adieu. Yours faithfully, S.
Williams desires to be kindly remembered to you, and begs to present his compliments to Mr.
and Mrs. G , and—heaven knows what.
Pita, Tuesday, 1 o'clock, 17th April, 1821.
Pita, April 19(*. My Dear Henry,—The rullock, or place for the oar, ought not to be placed where the oarpins are now, but ought to be nearer to the mast; as near as possible, indeed, so that the rower has room to sit. In addition let a false keel be made in this shape, so as to be four inches deep at the stern, and to decrease towards the prow. It may be as thin as you please.
Tell Mr. and Mrs. G that I have read the
Numancia, and after wading through the singular stupidity of the first act, began to be greatly delighted, and, at length, interested in a very high degree, by the power of the writer in awakening pity and admiration, in which I hardly know by whom he is excelled. There is little, I allow, in a strict sense, to be called poetry in this play; but the command of language, and the harmony of versification, is so great as to deceive one into an idea that it is poetry.
Adieu.—We shall see you soon.
Yours ever truly, S.
Bagni, Turtday Erenine>,
My Dear Friends,—We anxiously expect your arrival at the Baths ; but as I am persuaded that you will spend as much time with us as you can save from your necessary occupations before your departure, I will forbear to vex you with importunity. My health does not permit me to spend many hours from home. I have been engaged these last days in composing a poem on the death of Keats, which will shortly be finished; and I anticipate the pleasure of reading it to you, as some of the very few persons who will be interested in it and understand it. It is a highlywrought piece of art, and perhaps better, in point of composition, than anything I have written.
I have obtained a purchaser for some of the articles of your three lists, a catalogue of which I subjoin. I shall do my utmost to get more ; could you not send me a complete list of your furniture, as 1 have had inquiries made about chests of drawers, &c.
My unfortunate box ! it contained a chaos of the elements of " Charles I." If the idea of the creator liad been packed up with them, H would have shared the same fate ; and that, I am afraid, has undergone another Bort of shipwreck.
Very faithfully and affectionately yours, &
LETTER XLVIII. To JOHN GISBORNE, Esq. My Dear Friend,—I have received the heartrending account of the closing scene of the great genius whom envy and ingratitude scourged out of the world.* I do not think that if I had seen
* The following it the account alluded to :—
"Wednctday, \3t* Jan., 1821.
"My Dkarkst Friknds.—I have this momont reoei*vd a letter from Mr. Finch, which contains some circumstances relative to Keats. I would not delay communicating them to you, and I hope to be in time for the Procaccino, though it is already half-past twelve. I hope Mr. 8. received my long despatch a few days since.
"Ever yours, "J. Q."
"'I hasten to communicate to you what I know about the latter period and closing scene of the pilgrimage i>f the original poet from whose works, hitherto unseen by me, you have favoured mo with such a beautiful quoution. Almost despairing of his case, he left his native shore* by sea, in a merchant vessel fur Naples, where he arrived, having received no benefit during the passage, and broodisc over the most melancholy and mortifying reflections: and nursing a deeply-rooted disgust to life and to the world, owing to having been infamously treated by the very persons whom his generosity had rescued from want and woe. Tie journeyed from Naples to Rome, and occupied, at the latter place, lodgings which 1 had, on former occasions, more than once inhabited. Ilere he soon took fc» his bed, from which he never rose more. Ills pajaras it before, I could have composed my poem. The | enthusiasm of the imagination would have overpowered the sentiment.
As it is, I have finished my Elegy; and this day I send it to the press at Pisa. You shall have a copy the moment it is completed. I think it will please you. I have dipped my pen in consuming fire for his destroyers: otherwise the style is calm and solemn.
Pray, when shall we see you t Or are the streams of Helicon less salutary than sea-bathing for the nerves? Give us as much as you can before you go to England, and rather divide the term than not come soon.
Mrs. wishes that none of the books, desk,
&c, should be packed up with the piano; but that they should be sent, one by one, by Pepi. Address them to me at her house. She desired me to have them addressed to mt, why I know not
A droll circumstance has occurred. Queen Mab, a poem written by me when very young, in the most furious style, with long notes against Jesus Christ, and God the Father, and the king, and bishops, and marriage, and the devil knows what, is just published by ono of the low booksellers in the Strand, against my wish and consent, and all the people are at loggerheads about it. H. S. gives me this account. You may imagine how much I am amused. For the sake of a dignified appearance, however, and really because I wish to protest against all the bad poetry in it, I have given orders to say that it is all done against my desire, and have directed my attorney to apply to Chancery for an injunction, which he will not get.
I am pretty ill, I thank you, just now ; but I hope you ate better.
Most affectionately yours, P. B. S.
Pita. Saturday, (juik 16(A, 1821.)
were always violent, and his sensibility most keen. It is extraordinary that, proportionally as bis strength of body declined, these acquired fresh vigour; and his temper at length became so outrageously violent, as to injure himself, and annoy every one around him. Ho eagerly wished for death. After leaving England, 1 believe that he seldom courted the muse. lie was accompanied by a friend of mine, Mr. Severn, a young painter, who will, 1 think, one day be the Coryphsus of the English school. He left all, and sacrificed every prospect, to accompany and watoh over his friend Keats. For many weeks previous to his death, he would see no one but Mr. Severn, who had almost risked his own life, by unwearied attendance upon his friend, who rendered his situation doubly unpleasant by the violence of his passions exhibited oven towards him, so much, that he might be Judged insane. Ills intervals of remorse, too, wero poignantly bitter. I believe that Mr. Severn, the heir of what little Keats left behind him at Rome, hts only come into possession of very few manuscripts of his friend. You will be pleased with the information that the poetical volume, which was the inseparable companion of Keats, and which ho took for his most darling model in composition, was, the Minor I Venn of Sbakspcare.'"
To Ma. And Mrs. GISBORNE.
Bagni, Friday Right,
My Dear Friends,— I have been expecting every day a writ to attend at your court at Guebhard's, whence you know it is settled that I should conduct you hither to spend your last days in Italy. A thousand thanks for your maps; in return for which 1 Bend you the only copy of "Adonais " the printer has yet delivered. I wish I could say, as Glaucus could, in the exchange for the arms of Diomed,—tKarAufitot tyvtaBotur.
I will only remind you of " Faust;" my desire for the conclusion of which is only exceeded by my desire to welcome you. Do you observe any traces of him in the poem I send you t Poets—the best of them, are a very cameleonic race; they tako the colour not only of what they feed on, but of the very leaves under which they pass.
Mary is just on the verge of finishing her novel; but it cannot be in time for you to take to England.—FareweU.
Most faithfully yours,
P. B. S.
My Dearest Friends,—I am fully repaid for the painful emotions from which some verses of my poem sprang, by your sympathy and approbation—which is all the reward I expect—and as much as I desire. It is not for mc to judge whether, in the high praise your feelings assign me, you arc right or wrong. The poet and the man are two different natures; though they exist together, they may bo unconscious of each other, and incapable of deciding on each other's powers and efforts by any reflex act The decision of the cause, whether or no / am a poet, is removed from the present time to the hour when our posterity shall assemble; but the court is a very severe one, and I fear that the verdict will be, " Guiltydeath!"
I shall bo with you on the first summons. I hope that the time you have reserved for us, "thisbank and shoal of time," is not so short as you once talked of.
In haste, most affectionately yours,
P. B. S.
Ilaijni, July 191ft.
(RAONt m PISA.)
Tuesday, Lione Bianco, Florence,
My Dearest Love,—I shall not return this evening; nor, unless I have better success, tomorrow. I have seen many houses, but very few within the compass of our powers; and, even in those which seem to suit, nothing is more difficult than to bring the proprietors to terms. I congratulate myself on having taken the season in time, as there is great expectation of Florence being full next winter. I shall do my utmost to return to-morrow evening. You may expect me about ten or eleven o'clock, as I shall purposely be late, to spore myself the excessive heat.
The Gisbornes (four o'clock, Tuesday,) are just set out in a diligence-ond-four, for Bologna. They have promised to write from Paris. I spent three hours this morning principally in the contemplation of the Niobe, and of a favourite Apollo; all worldly thoughts aud cares seem to vanish from before the sublime emotions such spectacles create ; and I am deeply impressed with the great difference of happiness enjoyed by those who live at a distance from these incarnations of all that the finest minds have conceived of beauty, and those who can resort to their company at pleasure. What should we think if we were forbidden to read the great writers who have left us their works! And yet to be forbidden to live at Florence or Rome, is an evil of the same kind, of scarcely less magnitude.
I am delighted to hear that the W.'s ore with you. I am convinced that Williams must persevere in the use of the doccia. Give my most affectionate remembrances to them. I shall know all the houses in Florence, and can give W. a good account of them all. You have not sent my passport, and I must get home as I can. I suppose you did not receive my note.
I grudge my sequins for a carriage ; but I have suffered from the sun and the fatigue, and dare not expose myself to that which is necessary for house-hunting.
Kiss little babe, and how is he! but I hope to sec him fast asleep to-morrow night. And pray, dearest Mary, have some of your novel prepared for my return.
Your ever affectionate S.
(RAGIVI DI PISA.)
Bologna, Agosto 5.
Dearest Mine,—I am at Bologna, and thecaratella is ordered for Ravenna. I have been detained, by having made an embarrassing and inexplicable arrangement, more than twelve hours ; or I should have arrived at Bologna last night instead of this morning.
Though I have- travelled all night at the rate of two miles and a half an hour, in a little open calesse, I am perfectly well in health. One would think that I were the spaniel of Destiny, for the more she knocks me about, the more I fawn on her. I had an overturn about day-break ; the old horse stumbled, and threw me and the fat vetturino into a slope of meadow, over the hedge. My angular figure stuck where it was pitched; but my vetturino's spherical form rolled fairly to the bottom of the hill, and that with so few symptoms of reluctance in the life that animated it, that my ridicule (for it was the drollest sight in the world) was suppressed by my fear that the poor devil had been hurt. But he was very well, and we continued our journey with great success.
My love to the Williams's. Kiss my pretty one, and accept an affectionate one for yourself from me. The chaise waits. I will write the first night from Ravenna at length. Yours ever, S.
Ravenna, August 7, 18?!
Mt Dearest Mary,—I arrived last night at ten o'clock, and sate up talking with Lord Byron until five this morning. I then went to sleep, and now awake at eleven, and having despatched my breakfast as quick as possible, mean to devote the interval until twelve, when the post departs, to you.
Lord Byron is very well, and was delighted to see me. He has in fact completely recovered hi* health, and lives a life totally the reverse of that which he led at Venice. He has a permanent sort of liaison with Contessa Guiccioli, who is now at Florence, and seems from her letters to be a very amiable woman. She is waiting there until something shall be decided as to their emigration to Switzerland or stay in Italy ; which is yet undetermined on either side. She was compelled to escape from the Papal territory in great ha»te, at measures had already been taken to place her in a convent, where she would have been unrdentingly confined for life. Tho oppression of the marriage contract, as existing in the laws and opinions of Italy, though less frequently exercised, is far severer than that of England. I tremble to think of what poor Emilia is destined to.
Lord Byron had almost destroyed himself in Venice: his state of debility was such that he was unable to digest any food, he was consumed by hectic fever, and would speedily have perished, but for this attachment, which has reclaimed him from the excesses into which he threw himself from carelessness and pride, rather than taste. Poor fellow! he is now quite well, and immersed in politics and literature. He has given me a number of the most interesting details on the former subject, but we will not speak of them in a letter. Fletcher is here, and as if like a shadow, he waxed and waned with the substance of his master: Fletcher also has recovered his good looks, and from amidst the unseasonable grey hairs, a fresh harvest of flaxen locks put forth.
We talked a great deal of poetry, and such matters last night; and as usual differed, and I think more than ever. He affects to patronise a system of criticism fit for the production of mediocrity, and although all his fine poems and passages have been produced in defiance of this system, yet I recognise the pernicious effects of it in the Doge of Venice ; and it will cramp and limit his future efforts however great they may be, unless he gets rid of it. I have read only parts of it, or rather he himself read them to me, and gave me the plan of the whole.
Lord Byron has also told me of a circumstance that shocks me exceedingly; because it exhibits a degree of desperate and wicked malice for which I am at a loss to account. When I hear such things my patience and my philosophy are put to a severe proof, whilst 1 refrain from seeking out some obscure hiding-place, where the countenance of man may never meet me more. * * * * Imagine my despair of
good, imagine how it is possible that one of so weak and sensitive a nature as mhic can run further the gauntlet through this hellish society of men. You should write to the Hoppners a letter refuting the charge, in case you believe, and know, and can prove that it is false; stating the grounds and proofs of your belief. I need not dictate what you should say; nor, I hope, inspire you with warmth to rebut a charge, which you only can effectually rebut If you will send the letU'r to me here, I will forward it to the Hoppners. Lord Byron is not up, I do not know the Hoppners' address, and I am anxious not to lose a post.
Thursday, 8th August Mr Dearest Mary,—I wrote to you yesterday, and I begin another letter to-day, without knowing exactly when I can send it, as I am told the post only goes once a week. I dare say the subject of the latter half of my letter gave you pain, but it was necessary to look the affair in the face, and the only satisfactory answer to the calumny must be given by you, and could be given by you alone. This is evidently the source of the violent denunciations of tho Literary Gazette, in themselves contemptible enough, and only to be regarded as effects, which show us their cause, which until we put off our mortal nature, we never despise—that is, the belief of persons who have known and seen you, that you are guilty of crimes.
After having sent my letter to the post yesterday, I went to see some of the antiquities of this place; which appear to be remarkable. This city was once of vast extent, and tho traces of its remains are to be found more than four miles from the gate of the modern town. The sea, which once came close to it, has now retired to the distance of four miles, leaving a melancholy extent of marshes, interspersed with patches of cultivation, and towards the seashore with pino forests, which have followed the retrocession of the Adriatic, and tho roots of which arc actually washed by its waves. The level of the sea and of this tract of country correspond so nearly, that a ditch dug to a few feet in depth, is immediately filled up with sea water. All the ancient buildings have been choked up to the height of from five to twenty feet by the deposit of the sea, and of the inundations, which are frequent in the winter. I went in L. B.'s carriage, first to tho Chiesa San Vitalc, which is certainly one of the most ancient churches in Italy. It is a rotunda, supported upon buttresses and pilasters of white marble ; the ill effect of which is somewhat relieved by an interior row of columns. Tho dome is very high and narrow. The whole church, in spite of the elevation of the soil, is very high for its breadth, and is of a very peculiar and striking construction. In the section of one of the large tables of marble with which the church is lined, they showed mo the perfect figure, as ]>erfect as if it had been painted, of a capuchin friar, which resulted merely from the shadings and tho position of the stains in the marble. This is what may be called a pure anticipated cognition of a Capuchin.
I then went to the Tomb of Theodosius, which has now been dedicated to the Virgin, without, however, any change in its original appearance. It is about a mile from the present city. This building is more than half overwhelmed by the elevated soil, although a portion of the lower story has been excavated, and is filled with brackish and stinking waters, and a sort of vaporous darkness, and troops of prodigious frogs. It is a remarkable piece of architecture, and without belonging to a period when the ancient taste yet survived, bears, nevertheless, a certain impression of that taste. It consists of two stories; the lower supported on Doric arches and pilasters, and a simple entablature. The other circular within, and polygonal outside, and roofed with one single mass of ponderous stone, for it is evidently one, and Heaven alone knows how they contrived to lift it to that height. It is a sort of fiattish dome, rough-wrought within by the chisel, from which the Northern conquerors tore the plates of silver that adorned it, and polished without, with things like handles appended to it, which were also wrought out of the solid stone, and to which I suppose the ropes were applied to draw it up You ascend externally into the second story by a flight of stone steps, which are modern.
The next place I went to, was a church called la chiesa di Sunt' Appolinare, which is a Basilica, and built by one, I forget whom, of the Christian Emperors ; it is a long church, with a roof like a barn, and supported by twenty-four columns of the finest marble, with an altar of jasper, and four columns of jasper, and giallo antico, supporting the roof of the tabernacle, which are said to be of immense value. It is something like that church (I forget the name of it) we saw at Rome, fuore delle mura.* I suppose the emperor stole these columns, which seem not at all to belong to the place they occupy. Within the city, near the church of San Vitale, there is to be seen the tomb of the Empress Galla Placidia, daughter of Theodosius the Great, together with those of her husband Constantius, her brother Honorius and her son Valentinian—all Emperors. The tombs are massy cases of marble, adorned with rude and tasteless sculpture of lambs, and other Christian emblems, with scarcely a trace of the antique. It seems to have been one of the first effects of the Christian religion to destroy the power of producing beauty in art. These tombs are placed in a sort of vaulted chamber, wrought over with rude mosaic, which is said to have been built in 1300. I have yet seen no more of Ravenna.
* San Puerto fuore delle mura—burnt down, and Us beautiful columns calcined by the fire, In 102:1 — nowrebuilt
We ride out in the evening, through the pine forests which divide this city from the sea. Our way of life is this, and I have accommodated myself to it without much difficulty :—L. B. gets up at two, breakfasts; we talk, read, &c., until six ; then we ride, and dine at eight; and afu-r dinner sit talking till four or five in the morning. I get up at twelve, and am now devoting the interval between my rising and his, to you.
L. B. is greatly improved in every respect. In genius, in temper, in moral views, in health, in happiness. The connexion with la Guiccioli has been an inestimable benefit to him. He lives in considerable splendour, but within his income, which is now about ,£4000 a-year ; £ 100 of which he devotes to purposes of charity. He has had mischievous passions, but these he seems to have subdued, and he is becoming what he should be, a virtuous man. The interest which he took in the politics of Italy, and the actions he performed in consequence of it, are subjects not fit to be imfln, but are such as will delight and surprise you. He is not yet decided to go to Switzerland—a place, indeed, little fitted for him : the gossip and the cabals of those anglicised coteries would torment him, as they did before, and might exasperate him into a relapse of libertinism, which he says hi" plunged into not from taste, but despair. La Guiccioli and her brother (who is L. B.'s friend and confidant, and acquiesces perfectly in her connexion with him,) wish to go to Switzerland ; as L. B. says, merely from the novelty of the pleasure of travelling. L. B. prefers Tuscany or Lucca, and is trying to persuade them to adopt his views. He has made vie write a long letter to her to engage her to remain—an odd thing enough for an utter stranger to write on subjects of the utmost delicacy to his friend's mistress. But it seems destined that I am always to have some active part in every body's affairs whom I approach. I have set down in lame Italian, the strongest reasons I can think of against the Swiss emigration—to tell you truth, I should be very glad to accept, as my fee, his establishment in Tuscany. Ravenna is a miserable place; the people are barbarous and wild, and their language the most infernal patois that von can imagine. He would be, in every respect, better among the Tuscans. I am afraid he would not like Florence, on account of the English there. There is Lucca, Florence, l'isa, Siena, and I dunk nothing more. What think you of Prato, or Pistoia, for him !— no Englishman approaches those towns; but I am afraid no house could be found good enough for him in that region.
He has read to me one of the unpublished cantos