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It appears to me that there is room for a different style of the drama; neither a servile following of the old drama, which is a grossly erroneous one, nor yet too French, like those who succeeded the older writers. It appears to me, that good English, and a severer approach to the rules, might combine something not dishonourable to our literature. I have also attempted to make a play without love; and there are neither rings, nor mistakes, nor starts, nor outrageous ranting villains, nor melodrame in it. All this will prevent its popularity, but does not persuade me that it is therefore faulty. Whatever faults it has will arise from deficiency in the conduct, rather than in the conception, which is simple and severe.
« So you epigrammatize upon my epigram? I will pay you for that, mind if I don't, some day. I never let any one off in the long run (who first begins). Remember ***, and see if I don't do you as good a turn.
You unnatural publisher! what! quiz your own authors? you paper
cannibal! « In the Letter on Bowles (which I sent by Tuesday's post), after the words attempts had been made,' (alluding to the republication of English Bards”), add the words, ' in Ireland; for I believe that English pirates did not begin their attempts till after I had left England the second time. Pray attend to this. Let me know what you and your synod think on Bowles.
« I did not think the second seal so bad; sarely it is far better than the Saracen's head with which
have sealed your last letter; the larger, in profile, was surely much better than that.
u So Foscolo says he will get you a seal cut better in Italy? he means a throat-that is the only thing they do dexterously. The Arts-all but Canova's and Morg
hen's, and Ovids (I don't mean poetry),—are as low as need be : look at the seal which I gave to William Bankes, and own it. How came George Bankes to quote · English Bards' in the House of Commons ? All the world keep flinging that poem in my face.
i Belzoni is a grand traveller, and his English is very prettily broken.
« As for news, the Barbarians are marching on Naples, and if they lose a single battle, all Italy will be up. It will be like the Spanish row, if they have any bottom.
« Letters opened ??—to be sure they are, and that's the reason why I always put in my opinion of the German Austrian scoundrels. There is not an Italian who loathes them more than I do; and whatever I could do to scour Italy and the earth of their infamous oppression, would be done con amore.
« Yours, etc.»
TO MR MURRAY.
« Ravenna, February 21st, 1821. « In the forty-fourth page, volume first, of Turner's Travels (which you lately sent me), it is stated that “ Lord Byron, when he expressed such confidence of its practicability, seems to have forgotten that Leander swam both ways, with and against the tide; whereas he(Lord Byron) only performed the easiest part of the task by swimming with it from Europe to Asia.' I certainly could not have forgotten, what is known to every schoolboy, that Leander crossed in the night, and returned towards the morning. My object was, to ascertain that the Hellespont could be crossed at all by swimming, and in this Mr Ekenhead and myself both succeeded, the one in an hour and ten minutes, and the other in one hour and five minutes. The tide was not in our favour; on the contrary, the great difficulty was to bear up against the current, which, so far from helping us into the Asiatic side, set us down right towards the Archipelago. Neither Mr Ekenhead, myself, nor, I will venture to add, any person on board the frigate, from Captain Bathurst downwards, had any notion of a difference of the current on the Asiatic side, of which Mr Turner speaks. I never heard of it till this moment, or I would have taken the other course. Lieutenant Ekenhead's sole motive, and mine also, for setting out from the European side was, that the little cape above Sestos was a more prominent starting-place, and the frigate, which lay below, close under the Asiatic castle, formed a better point of view for us to swim towards; and, in fact, we landed immediately below it. « Mr Turner says,
Whatever is thrown into the stream on this part of the European bank must arrive at the Asiatic shore. This is so far from being the case, that it must arrive in the Archipelago, if left to the current, although a strong wind in the Asiatic direction might have such an effect occasionally.
« Mr Turner attempted the passage from the Asiatic side, and failed : “ After five-and-twenty minutes, in which he did not advance a hundred yards, he gave it up from complete exhaustion. This is very possible, and might have occurred to bim just as readily on the European side. He should have set out a couple of miles higher, and could then have come out below the European castle. I particularly stated, and Mr Hobhouse has done so also, that we were obliged to make the real passage
of one mile extend to between three and
four, owing to the force of the stream. I can assure Mr Turner, that his success would have given me great pleasure, as it would have added one more instance to the proofs of the probability. It is not quite fair in him to infer, that because he failed, Leander could not succeed. There are still four instances on record : a Neapolitan, a young Jew, Mr Ekenhead, and myself; the two last done in the presence of hundreds of English witnesses.
« With regard to the difference of the current, I perceived none; it is favourable to the swimmer on neither side, but may be stemmed by plunging into the sea, a considerable way above the opposite point of the coast which the swimmer wishes to make, but still bearing up against it; it is strong, but if you calculate well, you may reach land. My own experience and that of others bids me pronounce the passage of Leander perfectly practicable. Any young man, in good and tolerable skill in swimming, might succeed in it from either side. I was three hours in swimming across the Tagus, which is much more hazardous, being two hours longer than the Hellespont. Of what may be done in swimming, I will mention one more instance. In 1818, the Chevalier Mengaldo (a gentleman of Bassano), a good swimmer, wished to swim with my friend Mr Alexander Scott and myself. As he seemed particularly anxious on the subject, we indulged him. We all three started from the island of the Lido and swam to Venice. At the entrance of the Grand Canal, Scott and I were a good way ahead, and we saw no more of our foreign friend, which, however, was of no consequence, as there was a gondola to hold bis clothes and pick him up. Scott swam on till past the Rialto, where he got out, less from fatigue
than from chill, having been four hours in the water, without rest or stay, except what is to be obtained by floating on one's back—this being the condition of our performance. I continued my course on to Santa Chiara, comprising the whole of the Grand Canal (besides the distance froin the Lido), and got out where the Laguna once more opens to Fusina. I had been in the water, by my watch, without help or rest, and never touching ground or boat, four hours and twenty minutes. To this match, and during the greater part of its performance, Mr Hoppner, the Consul-general, was witness, and it is well known to many others. Mr Turner can easily verify the fact, if he thinks it worth while, by referring to Mr Hoppner. The distance we could not accurately ascertain; it was of course considerable.
«l crossed the Hellespont in one hour and ten minutes only. I am now ten years older in time, and twenty in constitution, than I was when I passed the Dardanelles, and yet two years ago I was capable of swimming four hours and twenty minutes; and I am sure that I could have continued two hours longer, though I had on a pair of trowsers, an accoutrement which by no means assists the performance. My two companions were also four hours in the water. Mengaldo might be about thirty years of age; Scott about six-and-twenty.
« With this experience in swimming at different periods of life, not only upon the spot, but elsewhere, of various persons, what is there to make me doubt that Leander's exploit was perfectly practicable? If three individuals did more than the passage of the Hellespont, why should he have done less? But Mr Turner failed, and, naturally seeking a plausible reason for his failure, lays the blame on the Asiatic side of the strait. He tried