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verses, written mainly in the rhymed heroic couplet. For three years he lived in South Wales, spending most of his time in wandering :
"One servant and one chest of books
Lay Pindar and Thucydides.” His heart at this time had many queens, of whom two had a longer sovereignty than the others—the Ionè (whose real name was Nancy Jones), and the Ianthe (Sophia Jane Swift, afterwards Countess de Molendé), familiar to every reader of his poems. At Tenby he met Rose Aylmer, the girl whose death forms the subject of the most beautiful of all his lyrics:
« Ah what avails the sceptred race,
Ah, what the form divine!
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
May weep, but never see,
I consecrate to thee." She lent him a book containing an Arabian story, out of which he constructed the miniature epic, “Gebir” -a poem which found hardly a reader. But Southey admired it fervently, and De Quincey (another Gebirite) used to aver that for a time he had flattered himself with the idea that he was the only man in the world who had read the poem. In 1800 Landor published "Poems from the Arabic and the Persian," a book of original verses, followed in 1802 by“Poetry by the Author of Gebir;” neither volume having the scantiest success. Dr. Landor died in 1805, and Walter came into his kingdom. After squandering money at Bath, visiting Spain, and getting (of course)
embroiled with the authorities, he purchased the estate of Llanthony on the Welsh marches, and married Julia Thuillier, for the cogent reason that she had more curls on her head than any other girl in Bath. She was sixteen years younger than himself; she had no sympathy with his literary ambitions ; and their life together was one of almost perpetual discord. At Llanthony he spent his time in an incessant war with his neighbours and his tenants; his schemes for beautifying the property and elevating the peasants broke down vtterly; lawsuit followed upon lawsuit; and in five years he had flung away £70,000. Broken in fortune, he travelled through France to Italy; lived first at Como, and then at Pisa, and finally settled in Florence. There he remained for eight years, and there he wrote his
Imaginary Conversations.” The different volumes of the great book appeared between 1824 and 1829. They were ardently welcomed by men of letters, and a few lovers of noble literature, but they acquired no wide circle of readers. In 1829 he removed to Fiesole, where his villa, to his intense delight, stood on the spot described as the Valley of the Ladies by his favourite author, Boccaccio. His “Citation and Examination of William Shakespeare” was published anonymously in 1834, and was followed by “Pericles and Aspasia," and the most charming of all his works, the “Pentameron.”
The dissensions between him and his wife having grown intolerably embittered, he returned alone to England and settled at Bath in 1837. He became the close friend of Charles Dickens, who, in a spirit of half-loving, half-bantering humour, introduced him as Mr. Boythorn into “ Bleak House,”— though
before he entered there he had to leave his learning and his style behind him—and of John Forster who was to be his loyal, if somewhat clumsy, biographer. At Bath he spent twenty years, writing several dramas (of which the best is “The Siege of Ancona”)
-the beautiful “Hellenics,” “Last Fruit from an Old Tree,” and “Dry Sticks fagoted by W. S. Landor.”
In 1858 he returned to Fiesole. Even at the age of eighty-eight the noble “old Roman as Carlyle, who admired him, termed him, could pen majestic sentences and chaste and vigorous verse,—witness his “Theseus and Hippolyta.” His “Heroic Idylls were issued in 1863. In 1864 his life was brightened by a visit from Mr. Swinburne:
“I came as one whose thoughts half linger,
Half run before;
That England bore.” In the same year, on September 17th, Landor died at Florence.
Landor was one of the most ardent, generous, courageous and loyal of men. He was also one of the most unpractical. "I never,” he wrote, “ did a wise thing in the course of my life.” He was impulsive and turbulent and apt to give extravagant expression to his indignation at those whom he rightly or wrongly called his enemies. Nearly all his life long he was quarrelling with his fellows, and entangling himself in miserable squabbles. Only his magnificent energy could have enabled him to bear the losses and crosses he brought upon himself and to produce the work that he did. There is nothing mean or vindictive in his explosions of fury. When a lawyer had, as he believed, duped him, he
found solace in the reflection that he had gibbeted the rascal in his Latin verses. He bore himself proudly in his dealings with men, he made comments on his writings which had better have been left to be said by others, as for example: “I shall dine late, but the drawing-room will be well lighted, the guests few and select,”—or again, “What I wrote is not written on slate, and no finger, not even of Time himself, who dips it in the clouds of years, can efface it,”—or again,
“For me, I write As others wrote on Sunium's height.” These are, perhaps, less the expressions of a lofty self-confidence, a serene egotism, than the words of a man secretly wincing at the failure of his writings to attain popularity. But he sums up his life work with admirable felicity and dignity in the noble quatrain which he penned in his extreme old age :“I strove with none, for none was worth my strife,
Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.” As an author Landor has been extolled in unmeasured terms by the most gifted of poets and critics, while the great body of readers has steadily ignored his work. Shelley and Wordsworth and Southey, Hazlitt and Lamb and De Quincey, Dickens, Carlyle, the Brownings and Swinburne, and Lowell, all have been more or less fervent Landorians. Lamb said of his “Citation of William Shakespeare” that only two men could have produced it,-he who wrote it, and he of whom it was written; Mrs. Browning found certain pages of “Pericles and Aspasia,” too delicious to be turned over; De
Quincey asserted that Landor's Count Julian was a creation worthy to stand beside the Prometheus of Æschylus and the Satan of Milton : Carlyle said that one of his very latest dialogues was like the ringing of Roman swords upon helmets ; and Mr. Swinburne has lavished rapturous eulogy on his works. Mr. Colvin, in his masterly volume in the “English Men of Letters” series, has declared that “Gebir' contains passages which, for loftiness of thought and language will bear comparison to Milton. “There are lines too,” he adds, "that for majesty of rhythm, may bear the same comparison ; ” and elsewhere he asserts that Landor “imagines heights and delicacies” unmatched by any English writer except Shakespeare. Nevertheless, the public will have none of him; and despite the great names of his eulogists, there is a good deal to be said on behalf of the public. Landor's style is not seldom obscure through excessive condensation and abuse of metaphor. He appears to have considered that any commonplace cast into figurative form became a profound idea. His politics are as crude and as extravagant as the politics of Victor Hugo, He raged against kings and tyrants, like a youthful declaimer in a debating society. To him, as to Victor Hugo, a king is a kind of villain of melodrama. Perhaps no author ever wrote so beautifully and so frequently exhibited such slight originality of thought. Had he been a writer of the florid type, the disproportion of ideas to words would have been less notable. But Landor's prose at its best is so sound, so stately and austere, it seems passing strange to find this great master of language so often conveying so little. Never, surely, were platitudes