網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

It must be false, for ne'er did age
Indite so pure and sweet a page,
Inspired by beauty, as I see
Breathe in the verse that comes from thee.
Long may'st thou live, the world to show,
That time can't chill the brilliant glow
Of minds like thine, to whom 'tis given
To keep the flame till they reach Heaven.

" M. BLESSINGTON."

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER VI.

LETTERS FROM WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR TO LADY BLESSING TON.

“ Florence, March 14th, 1833. “ MY DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,—The children are delighted at your recollection of them. A German tutor is coming to manage A— within a few days; I can hardly bring him to construe a little Greek with me, and, what is worse, he is not always disposed to fence with me. I foresee he will be a worse dancer than I am, if possible ; in vain I tell him what is very true, that I have suffered more from my bad dancing than from all the other misfortunes and miseries of my life put together. Not dancing well! I never danced at all, and how grievously has my heart ached when others were in the full enjoyment of that recreation, which I had no right even to partake of.

“Hare has lately bought a Raffael here for four hundred louis. It is a Raffael indeed, but a copy from Pietro Perugino.

" The original is extant, and much finer than the copy. Raffael was but a boy when he painted it; he and his master are the only two painters that ever had a perfect idea of feminine beauty.

* * Raffael, when he went to Rome, lost Paradise, and had only Eden;' his Fornarina and others are fine women, but not such women as the first that God made, or as the one that he chose to be the idol of half the world. Titian, less fortunate than Lawrence, was rarely employed to paint a beauty ; those that he and Corregio chose for models had no grace or loveliness ; Leonardo's are akin to ugliness. “I remain, my dear Lady Blessington, ever yours sincerely,

“ W. S. LANDOR."

“Florence, July 16th, 1853. " Politics seem to be serious and alarming to the serious and ambitious. I hate Tory principles and Whig principles; but I never gave any opinion, except on one occasion, which was when the Reform Bill was in agitation. I then wrote from this villa to Lord L-, telling him what it was very plain his party did not know, that the king has just as good a right to give repre

sentation to a borough as he has to create a peer, or grant a fair or market to a town; and that it is not constitutional for Parliament to curtail the number of voters where no corruption has been proved. I made him an apology for addressing him, and told him that I did not expect or wish even a reply. It is the duty of the wise to set the unwise right. The mode I mentioned would have made the king popular, and would have saved the country from that collision between the two houses of Parliament which is likely to terminate in a civil war.

I have done my duty. “ I find that Coleridge has lost the beneficent friend at whose house he lived. George IV., the vilest wretch in Europe, gave him £100 a year, enough, in London, to buy three turnips and half an egg a day. Those men, surely, were the most dexterous of courtiers, who resolved to show William that his brother was not the vilest by dashing the half ogg and three turnips from the plate of Coleridge. No such action as this is recorded of any administration in the British annals, and I am convinced that there is not a state in Europe or Asia in which the paltriest minister of the puniest despot would recommend it. I am sorry that Lord who speaks like a gentleman, should be implicated in a charge so serious, though he and his colleagues are likely to undergo the popular vengeance for less grave offenses.

“Those affairs are the gravest that compromise the dignity of a nation. Strafford would have hanged up a dozen or two of stout rogues and haranguers at the hazard of his life ; but if Strafford had had twenty heads, he would have laid them on twenty blocks rather than have done what these boobies have been doing. Besides, they have been sowing mushroom spawn, thinking it would shoot up for their own tables.

· No, no; it will make its appearance on some foul, dismal day, and smell of blood.

“An ugly word to end with, and hardly a pleasanter one, I suspect, to their imaginations than to mine.

W. S. L.”

[ocr errors]

“Florence, December 21st. "Fortune is not often too kind to me-indeed, why should she be? but when she is, it is reasonable enough I should be grateful. We have come at last to this agreement, that whenever she does any thing pleasant to you, I may take my part of the pleasure, and as large a part as any one, except yourself and Lord B. She then put something into the opposite scale, and said it was but just.

"I laughed to hear her talk of justice, but owned it. Now I will lay a wager that of the hundreds of letters you and my lord have received to congratulate you on the marriage of Mrs. Purves, not one has been so long in coming to the point. It is something like the preface to the Carbonari conspiracy. I must, however, waft my incense, though in an earthen pot.

“ • Mighty well, good Mr. Landor! but I can not be sitting here for your fumigations. At Paris we have learned a new thing. We throw cold water

on the asphixifier to cure the asphixified.' I have another scheme. I am about to put a spark of patriotism just under your nose.

“Mr. Godwin Swift, a descendant of that Godwin who educated dear Jonathan, and was his uncle, has claims upon the Viscountess of Carlingford, which he is bringing before the House of Lords.* I never saw him since he was a baby ; but I hear he is a most amiable and gentlemanly person. If Lord B or any other of your friends can be of any use to him, let me hope it. I should be overjoyed to see the representative of the earliest patriot in Ireland protected by him whom I consider the most disinterested and the greatest. His grandmother was a Meade-I believe a first cousin of the late Lord Clanwilliam.

“ Has Count D'Orsay hung up his two pictures? If the King of France should make an offer of the family vase for one of them, I would persuade him to accept the offer with his usual good grace. But perhaps the delicacy of his most Christian majesty may withhold him from proposing an exchange, on recollection (if he should recollect such a thing) that it was a gift from the D'Orsays.”

“ Florence, February 15th, 1834. “The book is indeed the · Book of Beauty,' both inside and outside. Nevertheless, I must observe that neither here nor in any other engraving do I find a resemblance of you. I do not find the expression. Lawrence has not succeeded either, unless you have the gift of changing it almost totally. The last change in that case was for the better, but pray stay there.

“I have a little spite against the frontispiece, and am resolved to prefer Francesca. If I had seen such a person any time toward the close of the last century, I am afraid I should have been, what some rogue called me upon a very different occasion, much later, matto ! ma matto! Age breaks down the prison in which beauty has enthralled us; but I suspect there are some of us, like the old fellow let loose from the Bastile, who would gladly get in it again, were it possible.

“ You are too generous in praising me for my admiration of Wordsworth and Southey. This is only a proof that I was not born to be a poet. I am not a good hater ; I only hate pain and trouble. I think I could have hated Bonaparte if he had been a gentleman. Castlereagh was almost as mischievous, and was popularly a gentleman; but, being an ignorant and weak creature, he escapes from hatred without a bruise. * The Whigs, I am afraid, are as little choice of men as the Tories are of

It is among the few felicities of my life that I never was attached to a party or a party man. I have always excused myself from dinners, that I may never meet one. It does little honor to the Whig faction, that among the number of peers created by them they have omitted Collingwood. Never has England produced a fighting man more able in his profession or more illustrious in his character than the late Lord Collingwood. He sacrificed his

* See Appendix.

means.

health and life to the service of his country, and asked only that the empty honor conferred on him might be continued to his descendant. Had he been a Chapman in the House of Commons, and could have commanded a couple of votes, his honors would have been perpetuated. The English must be the most quiet and orderly people in the universe not to rush into the rapacious demagogues, and to tie them by the necks in couples, and to throw them tutti quanti into the Thames. This good temper is really most fortunate at the present, for their opponents would throw Europe back upon the Dark Ages, and the next frontispiece to the · Book of Beauty' would be decorated with a glorified heart, deliciously larded with swords and arrows. Do not hint this to any of your Whig friends, or we may have a coalition, and see the thing yet.

W. S. L."

“ Florence, 8th April, 1834. For some time I have been composing 'The Citation and Examination of William Shakspeare, &c., before the worshipful Sir Thomas Lucy, Knight, to Deer-stealing, on the 19th day of September, in the year of grace 1582, now first published from Original Papers.'

“ This is full of fun—I know not whether of wit. It is the only thing I ever wrote that is likely to sell.

W. S. L."

"July 7th, 1834. My zeal is quite evaporated for the people I hoped to benefit by the publication of“ The Trial of Shakspeare.' I find my old schoolfellow (whom, bythe-by, I never knew, but who placed enough confidence in me to beg my assistance in his distress) has been gaming. Had he even tried but a trifle of assassination, I should have felt for him ; or, in fact, had he done almost any thing else. But to rely on superior skill in spoliation is less pardonable than to rely on superior courage, or than to avenge an affront in a sudden and summary way.

“I am highly gratified by Lord Mulgrave's recollection of me. When he and Lady M were at Florence, I received every civility from them very undeservedly. I hope Lord Mulgrave will soon be the director of our affairs in England. There is only one office I could accept under him, which is that of Archbishop of Canterbury, provided I am not called to the Papacy.

" W. S. L.”

“Florence, October 11th, 1834. “Before I express to you any of my fears and other fancies, let me thank you for your letter-and now for the fears ; the first is, that you have really taken the trouble to overlook the sheets of my · Examination ;' the next, that the conferences of Spenser and Essex are not added to it. For this I have written an Introduction which quite satisfied me, which hardly any thing does upon the whole, though every thing in part.

*

“Pray relieve me from this teasing anxiety, for the Examination and the Conferences, if disjoined, would break my heart. Never were two things so totally different in style. I did not believe such kind things would be said of me for at least a century to come.

“ Perhaps, before we meet, even fashionable persons will pronounce my name without an apology, and I may be patted on the head by dandies, with all the gloss upon their coats, and with unfrayed straps to their trousers. Who knows but I may be encouraged, at last, to write as they instruct me, and may attract all the gay people of the parks and Parliament by my puffpaste and powder-sugar surface?

“ But then, how will my older and rather more dignified patricians look upon me? My Cæsar and Lucullus-my pleasant Peterborough-above all, my dear Epicurus ? No, not above all ; for if my little Ternissa should frisk away from me, I am utterly undone. Lady Jane Grey, too, who saw so many of my tears fall before her, foreknowing, as I did, what must happen-all these, in their various miens and voices, would upbraid me.

• It occurs to me that authors are beginning to think it an honest thing to pay their debts, and that they are debtors (as they surely are) to all by whose labor and charges the fields of literature have been cleared and sown. It must be confessed, we have been a rascally gang hitherto, for the most part, particularly we moralists. Few writers have said all the good they thought of others, and fewer have concealed the ill. They praise their friends, because their friends, it may be hoped, will praise them—or get them praised. As these propensities seem inseparable from the literary character, I have always kept aloof from authors where I could. Southey stands erect, and stands alone. I love him no less for his integrity than for his genius. No man, in ouf days, has done a twentieth part for the glory of our literature.

“W. S. L."

“January 13th, 1835. “ Arnold is so mischievous as to show me, at this moment, the portrait of the Duchess of , and to say she ought to have been put in the Index or Notes. Sure enough, she never was a beauty. The duke had so little idea of countenance, that he remarked a wonderful resemblance between me and

Perhaps he thought to compliment both parties. Now you had better find a ghost than a resemblance. If an ugly woman is compared to a beautiful one, she will tell you, “This is the first time I was ever taken for an idiot.' If a sensible woman is compared to Madame de Staël, she shows you her foot, and thanks God she has not yet taken to rouge.

“I have been reading Beckford's Travels, and Vatheck. The last pleases me less than it did forty years ago, and yet the Arabian Nights have lost none of their charms for me. All the learned and wiseacres in England cried out against this wonderful work upon its first appearance-Gray among the rest. Yet I doubt whether any man, except Shakspeare, has afforded so much de

Vol. II.-F.

« 上一頁繼續 »