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bathe in a dangerous spot. I must, of course, provide for the poor fellow while he lives, and his family, if he dies. I would gladly have given a much greater sum than that will come to that he had never been hurt. Pray, let me hear from you, and excuse haste and hot weather.
« Yours, etc.
« You may have probably seen all sorts of attacks upon me in some gazettes in England some months ago. . I only saw them, by Murray's bounty, the other day. They call me Plagiary,' and what not. I think I now, in my time, have been accused of every thing.
« I have not given you details of little events here; but they have been trying to make me out to be the chief of a conspiracy, and nothing but their want of proofs for an English investigation has stopped them. Had it been a poor native, the suspicion were enough, as it has been for hundreds.
« Why don't you write on Napoleon? I have no spirits, nor' estro' to do so. His overthrow, from the beginning, was a blow on the head to me. Since that period, we have been the slaves of fools. Excuse this long letter. Ecco a translation literal of a French epigram.
Egle, beauty and poet, has two little crimes,
« I am going to ride, having been warned not to ride in a particular part of the forest, on account of the ultra-politicians.
u Is there no chance of your return to England, and of our Journal? I would have published the two plays in it-two or three scenes per number-and, indeed, all of mine in it. If you went to England, I would do so still.»
About this time Mr Shelley, who had now fixed his residence at Pisa, received a letter from Lord Byron, earnestly requesting to see him, in consequence of which he immediately set out for Ravenná; and the following extracts from letters, written during his stay with his noble friend, will be read with that double feeling of interest which is always sure to be excited in hearing one man of genius express his opinions of another.
« Ravenna, August 7th, 1821. « I arrived last night at ten o'clock, and sat 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, inean to devote the interval unuil twelve; when the post departs,
- « Lord Byron is very well, and was delighted to see me. He has in fact completely recovered his health, and lives a life totally the reverse of that which he led at Venice. He has a permanent sort of liaison with the 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 haste, as measures had already been taken to place her in a convent, where she would have been unrelentingly confined for life. The 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.
« Lord Byron had almost destroyed himself at 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 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- has also revived his good looks, and from amidst the unseasonable gray hairs a fresh harvest of flaxen locks has
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 only for the production of mediocrity; and although all his finer 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 plan of the whole.
gave me the
« Ravenna, August 15th, 1821. « We ride out in the evening through the pine forests which divide the city from the sea. Our
of life is this, and I have accommodated myself to it without much difficulty:-Lord Byron gets up at twobreakfasts--we talk, read, etc. until six-then we ride at eight, and after dinner sit talking until four or five in the morning. I get up at twelve, and am now devoting the interval between my rising and his to you.
« Lord Byron is greatly improved in every respect -in genius, in temper, in moral views, in health and happiness. His connexion with La Guiccioli has been an inestimable benefit to him. He lives in considerable splendour, but within his income, which is now about four thousand a year, one thousand of which he devotes to purposes of charity. He has had michievous 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 written, 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, he plunged into not from taste, but from despair. La Guiccioli and her brother (who is Lord Byron's friend and confidant, and acquiesces perfectly in her connexion with him) wish to go to Switzerland, as Lord Byron says, merely from the novelty and pleasure of travelling. Lord Byron prefers Tuscany or Lucca, and is trying to persuade them to adopt his views. He has made me 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 tame Italian, the strongest reasons I can think of against the Swiss emigration. To tell you the 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 you can imagine. He would be in every respect better among the Tuscans.
« He has read to me one of the unpublished cantos of Don Juan, which is astonishingly fine. It sets him not only above, but far above all the poets of the day. Every word has the stamp of immortality. This canto is in a style (but totally free from indelicacy, and sustained with incredible ease and power) like the end of the second canto : there is not a word which the most rigid assertor of the dignity of human nature could desire to be cancelled : it fulfils, in a certain degree, what I have long preached, -of producing something wholly new, and relative to the age, and yet surpassingly beautiful. It may
be vanity, but I think I see the trace of my earnest exhortations to him, to create something wholly
«I am sure, if I asked, it would not be refused; yet there is something in me that makes it impossible. Lord Byron and I are excellent friends; and were I reduced to poverty, or were I a writer who had no claim to a higher station than I possess, or did I possess a higher than I deserve, we should appear in all things as such, and I would freely ask him any favour. Such is not now the case : the demon of mistrust and of pride lurks between two persons in our situation, poisoning the freedom of our intercourse. This is a tax, and a heavy one, which we must pay for being human. 1 think the fault is not on my side; nor is it likely,,I being the weaker. I hope that in the next world these things will be better managed. What is passing in the