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used, ignorant and indifferent who and what you | richest men on the Continent: he is supposed to were ? Just so do all the rest, whether to princes spend about a tenth of his income: and the sale or private men, and expect to be rewarded in the produced fourteen pounds. This example is not same manner and proportion. Mr. Landor is necessary for the defence of Ferdinand. He had prejudiced against the Tuscans in general, the experienced the vicissitudes of fortune ; he had Florentines in particular.
twice been forced from his throne; he had a Landor. I hope and believe I am not. I have family to provide for; yet the taxes were equable found at the distance of twenty miles from and moderate ; and property and its comforts, in Florence some of the best people I have ever yet no portion of the globe, are so well distributed conversed with. The country folks are frank, and so general as in Tuscany. He did not throw hospitable, courteous, laborious, disinterested, and away his money among idlers and sycophants in eager to assisti one another. I have sat among court or college. them by the hour, almost the only company in English Visiter. No, no! Quiet and as much the nation I could ever endure half so long; and, in the shade as he could be, he was not to be at the first time of seeing me, the whole family tickled or intoxicated by a sonnet or a sermon. has told me its most intimate concerns. The When he observed them on the surface, he swam mother has enlarged on the virtues and excused down the stream (I hear) and let them founder. the faults of her husband; and the daughter has Landor. Generosity does not rest upon the asked me whether I was married; and whether purse ; nor is the sovran most worthy of esteem I liked it; as she intended to take a husband in for liberality who gives most among those about the beginning of the carnival .. Stefano . . I him. Believe me, my friends, novel and strange must know him .. and had bought the bed and and uncomfortable as it may appear to you, the hemmed the sheets and folded and packed up the generosity of a prince is parsimony. Ferdinand corredo ; telling me that there is nothing in the had more pleasure at being praised by villagers world so pleasant as the beginning of the carnival in their carts, pressing down their figs and turn.. such fun! “Matta !” cries the mother, and ing their peaches, than by professons in the chair smiles at me.
or canonics in the pulpit. He never went out of Florentine Visiter. O gentlemen, there are his way to meet it: it met him everywhere. girls in Florence that will say a great deal more English Visiter. That must be an admirable than that to you in half the time: and I promise prince whom none of your poets thinks it a good you we have as worthy men among us (if you do speculation either to praise or libel. not want to eat with 'em or ask a favour of 'em) as Florentine Visiter. Such in his latter days was any upon earth. Selfishness and insincerity are the felicity of Ferdinand; and those who now thrown out against us: the worse indeed, in public extol him, turn their eyes another way, and watch or in private, are sure to laugh at his simplicity the countenance of the son. from whom they receive a benefit; but the better Landor. May he prove his good sense and (I hope) are disposed to excuse it.
rectitude, by paying none for praises ! As for English Visiter. You seem rather shy about tears, if they are due, let them flow on. Were ! the main question, and let the old fact stand. in his place, I would not wipe them away, nor Ferdinand was parsimonious, was he not ? give a pinch of snuff to increase them.
Landor. Parsimony is the vice of the country. English Visiter. While you are in this humour, The Italians were always, far exceeding all other and are possessed by the right feeling in all its nations, parsimonious and avaricious ; the Tuscans warmth and fulness, I wish you would compose beyond all other Italians; the Florentines beyond an elegy on the occasion; as our critics are of all other Tuscans. So scandalous an example of opinion that you are sadly deficient in the true it as occurred a few months ago, is, I hope and pathetic. believe, unparalleled. Prince Corsini married a Landor. It would ill become me to hold an woman of immense fortune, by whom he has a argument against men of such genius and judg family of eight children. He took a mistress : ment as our critics; and it would fare badly with the wife languished and died. He gave orders me if I could prove them to be mistaken. I might that all her clothes should be sold by auction in attempt an elegy, were it possible that persons in his palace ; old gowns, old petticoats, old shifts, the same station as Ferdinand's could be improved old shoes, old gloves; even articles at the value or moved by it. But to affect an immoderate of one penny, such as excited the derision of some, grief, as poets do, on the death of princes, is the the blushes of others, the horror of not a few. worst of hypocrisy : it being certain that there There had been no quarrel between the wife and can be little or no sympathy between them, whathusband. She was beautiful, engaging, sweet- ever respect may be borne by those who are tempered, compliant, domestic. She sank from swayed by imagination toward the regal character. the world which her virtues had adorned, and I do not assert that my grief remains for days, had been seven days in her grave, when prosti- or even hours, together, violent or unremitted, tutes paraded the street before her palace, wear- although it has done so once or twice : but seling those dresses in which the most exemplary dom have I thought of a lost friend or unfortunate of mothers had given the last lessons of morality companion, be it at the distance of thirty or of to her daughters. The prince is one of the forty years, that the thought is not as intense and painful, and of as long a visitation, as it was at have no right to deprive anyone of a tender sentifirst. Even those with whom I have not lived, ment, by talking in an unknown tongue to him, and whom indeed I have never seen, affect me by when his heart would listen and answer to his sympathy, as though I had known them inti- own: we have no right to turn a chapel into a mately, and I hold with them in my walks many library, locking it with a key which the lawful imaginary conversations. Since the time of proprietors can not turn. Chaucer there have been only two poets who at Italian Visiter. It is rarely we find an epitaph all resemble him; and these two are widely in which the thought, if novel, is not superficial. dissimilar one from the other, Burns and Keats. Where there is only one, it should be striking or The accuracy and truth with which Chaucer has affecting. described the manners of common life, with the Landor. But it is an error to imagine that fore-ground and back-ground, are also to be found every thought must be either. Truth, in these in Burns, who delights in broader strokes of ex- documents and appeals, should oftener be reternal nature, but equally appropriate. He has markable for simplicity than force. It sinks parts of genius which Chaucer has not in the deeplier into the mind by insinuating than by same degree ; the animated and pathetic. Keats, striking, and is more acceptable for grace than for in his Endymion, is richer in imagery than either: novelty. and there are passages in which no poet has English Visiter. Yet you yourself in these arrived at the same excellence on the same ground. compositions, as in the rest, are more valued for Time alone was wanting to complete a poet, who originality. already far surpassed all his contemporaries in Landor. My valuers in general know not this country, in the poet's most noble attri- exactly what it is they value me for, and often butes. If anything could engage me to visit take for originality what they have heard, and Rome, to endure the sight of her scarred perhaps have said, with some slight difference. and awful ruins, telling their stories on the I have written things which others have written ground in the midst of bell-ringers and panto- before, not indeed in the same words precisely, mimes; if I could let charnel-houses and opera- and therefore not affecting the reader in the same houses, consuls and popes, tribunes and cardi- manner; and these things I should certainly nals, senatorial orators and preaching friars, have conceived, whether they had or had not. clash in my mind; it would be that I might It is quite impossible that any two men, of intelafterward spend an hour in solitude, where the lect and imagination, should reason long on the pyramid of Cestius stands against the wall, and same subject, and never encounter any similar points to the humbler tombs of Keats and Shel- thought, any similar image. In one the thought ley. Nothing so attracts my heart as ruins in will be more complete, the image more compact, deserts, or so repels it as ruins in the circle of more proportionate, more animated. The confashion. What is so shocking as the hard verity trary would be as incredible as that two birds, of Death swept by the rustling masquerade of close to each other in the same field, and striking Life! And does not Mortality of herself teach us their beaks and claws into the same turf for nutrihow little we are, without placing us amid the ment, should not hit upon the same grains and trivialities of patchwork pomp, where Virgil led animalcules. the Gods to found an empire, where Cicero saved English Visiter. Your enemies, who often and Cæsar shook the world !
call you strange and perverse, never call you Florentine Visiter. I wish, sir, you would superficial, favour us with a Latin inscription for the tombs Landor. They know not and heed not what of the gentlemen whose names you mentioned, they say. Never have I done anything designedly since the pathetic is not requisite in that species to attract the public notice, which is ordinarily of composition.
attracted not by the slow operation of silent Landor. Although I have written at various power, but by a rapid and incessant display of times a great number of such inscriptions, as peculiarities and freaks in the most public paths parts of literature, yet I think nothing is so of literature. But my groundwork, in common absurd if you only inscribe them on a tomb. with that which brings the crowd about it, must Why should extremely few persons, the least of necessity be superficial. In the matter laid on capable perhaps of sympathy, be invited to sym- the superficies, and in the manner of laying it, is pathise, while thousands are excluded from it by all the difference. It is as intolerable to keep the iron grate of a dead language? Those who reading over perpetual sharpnesses as it is to read a Latin inscription are the most likely to keep walking over them. What is ample and know already the character of the defunct, and capacious has room enough for elevation, not no new feelings are to be excited in them: but what is circumscribed and contracted. What we the language of the country tells the ignorant admire in a park is inadmissible in a cabbagewho he was that lies under the turf before them; garden. Taylor the Platonist had resolved on and, if he was a stranger, it naturalises him sacrificing a bull to Jupiter : foolish enough: among them ; it gives him friends and relations; more foolish to select for the place of sacrifice a it brings to him and detains about him some who little back-parlour-floor. The bull whisked his may imitate, many who will lament him. We tail in the worshipper's face, inculcating the immediate necessity of a fresh ablution, and burst incurable ignominy it inflicted by its recoil on away through the window.
the executioner. In composition no height is attainable without English Visiter. Such people as Gifford are to many preliminary steps along much lower ground. be acquitted : for how could they feel his poetry That which appears, and really is, plain, humble, or estimate his virtues ? Gifford is the Harriet and (if you please) superficial, in my writings, Wilson of our literary world ; the witherer of may induce other men to think deeply. Whether young names. With the exception of Matthias they are read in the present age or in the next, he is the dullest, as Byron is the sharpest, of our occupies no more my speculation than whether it satirists. be this morning or this afternoon.
Landor. I have no recollection of anything English Visiter. Are you certain that in their written by the couple you mentioned with Byron; inferences they are all quite sound ?
but of him and of his sharpness we think alike. Landor. Indeed I do not know perfectly that He has not exerted all his force, or he has not they are : but they will give such exercise in experienced all his felicity, on me. Rather than discussing them as always tends to make other the world should have been a loser in this part of men's healthier : for questions of religion, on the his poetry, I would have corrected and enlarged points that now stick uppermost, are avoided by for him what he composed about me, and I would me, because they produce the contrary effect, in have furnished him with fresh materials. I only the fostering of scorn and malice.
wish I could have diverted his pen from Southey. English Visiter. We are in the full enjoyment While he wrote or spoke against me alone, I said of single blessedness when we espouse no party nothing of him in print or conversation : but the and no church. Among few reasoners, living and taciturnity of pride gave way immediately to my deceased, you set us the example of abstaining zeal in defence of my friend. What I write is not from controversies; the example of giving truth written on slate: and no finger, not of Time himfor nothing, and of valuing it above all price. self, who dips it in the clouds of years, can efface Shelley and Keats were neither less ingenuous it. To condemn what is evil and to commend nor less averse to disputation.
what is good is consistent. To soften an asperity, Landor. It was not my fortune (shall I call it to speak all the good we can after worse than we good or bad now they are dead ?) to know those wish, is that, and more. If I must understand young men who, within so short a space of time, the meaning of consistency as many do, I wish have added two more immortal names to the I may be inconsistent with all my enemies. There cemeteries of Rome. Upon one of them I have are many hearts which have risen higher and sunk written what by no means satisfies me.
lower at his tales, and yet have been shocked and English Visiter. Pray let me hear it, if you sorrowed at his untimely death a great deal less retain it in your memory.
than mine has been. Honour and glory to him Landor. I rarely do retain anything of my for the extensive good he did ! peace and forgiveown: and probably you will never find a man ness for the partial evil ! who has heard me repeat a line. But here it is : English Visiter. Good resolutions, like good you may read it yourself.
wine, are the better the longer they are kept English Visiter.
Byron was irritable and selfish, restless and inFair and free soul of poesy, 0 Keats !
sincere : but what shall we say of his old enemies O how my temples throb, my heart-blood beats, across the Border, descending on Keats as he At every image, every word of thine !
entered the field, and bringing down the local Thy bosom, pierced by Envy, drops to rest, Nor hearest thou the friendlier voice, nor seest
militia and supplementary sharp-shooters of the The sun of fancy climb along thy line.
Edinburgh press, until he had surrendered his pen But under it, although a viperons brood
and breathed his last? That stung an Orpheus (in a clime more rudo
Landor. Let us say that they have done, and Than Rhodope and Hæmus frown upon)
hope that they will yet do, better things. They Still writhes and hisses, and peers out for more
might, like the beneficent deity of old mythology, Whose buoyant blood they leave concreted gore, Thy flowers root deep and split the creviced stone.
have fixed a new Delos, a Delos among the Ill may I speculate on scenes to come,
Cyclades of poetry.
Fame often rests at first Yet I would dream to meet thee at our home
upon something accidental; and often too is swept With Spenser's quiet, Chaucer's livelier ghost, away, or for a time removed: but neither genius Cognate to thine ... not higher, and less fair... nor glory is conferred at once; nor do they
glimmer and fall, like drops in a grotto, at a Shall say, without thee half our loves were lost.
shout. Their foundations in the beginning Here indeed is little of the pathetic. You must may be scooped away by the slow machinery of rather have been thinking on the depravity of malicious labour; but after a season they inthose who exerted their popularity to depress crease with every surge that comes against them, i him, heedless that it precipitated him to the and harden at every tempest to which they are tomb.
exposed. Landor. If I bore malice toward any man Il English Visiter. But certainly there are bleshould wish him to write against me: but poor mishes in Keats, which strike the most incurious Keats, sinking under the blow, perceived not the land inobservant beholder.
And Madalene and Isabella there
Landor. If so, why expose them ? why triumph , I do not know whether I should have cried out over them? In Keats, I acknowledge, there are very anxiously many wild thoughts, and there are expressions
Quò me Bacche rapis? which even outstrip them in extravagance : but in none of our poets, with the sole exception of
English Visiter. The Scotch, never delicate or Shakspeare, do we find so many phrases so happy dexterous in ridicule, bantered in their coarse in their boldness.
manner the poetry of Keats. It is their practice, English Visiter. There is a more vivid spirit, and a practice not confined to them, to hinder more genuine poetry, in him than in any of his popularity in its first ascent; and, when they can contemporaries; in whom it has rarely its full uot hinder it, to attend upon it obsequiously and swing; but the chords (excepting in Burns and overload it with incense. From their stiffness Moore) are flattened, as it were, by leaves or and awkwardness they do not appear at first sight feathers on them. The Connection' has given you of committing the most open and scandalous in
an inconstant people; yet none is less ashamed also some elbowings and shovings.
Landor. And how much more reasonably than constancy. they were given to such gentle creatures as Keats !
A celebrated author, whose name will survive He, like many other authors
, young and aged, many centuries, wrote in favour of the Princess traversed in criticism both marsh and crag, to fill of Wales while the old king was living, against his bosom with every bitter and every thorny her when she had lost her protector. He flattered plant, that might pierce, blister, or inquiet it. her husband, who had all the vices of all the I never look for them nor see them. The whole Neros, without one virtue or semblance of virtue ; world might write against me, and leave me who abandoned two contemporary wives, every ignorant of it to the day of my death. A friend mistress, every relative, every friend, and every who announces to me such things, has performed supporter. the last act of his friendship. It is no more
Landor. Can it be? Excuse my question : you pardonable, than to lift up the gnat-net over know my utter ignorance of parties in the literary my bed, on pretext of showing me there are circles, and how little I am disposed to believe gnats in the room. If I owed a man a grudge, what they assert one of another. I would get him to write against me: but if
English Visiter. The truth of this is notorious. anybody owed me one, he would come and tell me The same writer composed and sang a triumphal of it.
song on the death of a minister whom in his lifeEnglish Visiter. You appear more interested time he had flattered, and who was just in his coffin about this youth than about Burns, whom I have when the Minstrel sang “ The fox is run to earth;" known you extol to the skies.
not among a few friends, but in the presence of Landor, I do not recollect what I wrote on many who neither loved nor esteemed, neither Burns, for I seldom keep a copy of anything, but applauded nor countenanced him. Constable of I know that I wrote it many years after his de- Edinburgh heard him, and related the fact to cease, which was hardly less deplorable than Curran, who expressed his incredulity with great Keats's. One would imagine that those who, vehemence, and his abhorrence with greater than for the honour of our country, ought to have
his incredulity. guarded and watched over this prodigy of genius,
Landor. I believe there has rarely been a less had considered only how they could soonest energetic or less consistent statesman than Mr, despatch him from the earth. They gave him Fox : but he was friendly and affectionate ; he was a disreputable and sordid place, exactly of the a gentleman and a scholar. When I heard of his kind in which he would indulge his only bad decease, and how he had been abandoned at Chispropensity.
wick by his colleagues in the ministry,one of whom English Visiter. And I now remember that he had raised to notice and distinction, I grieved you allude to this propensity, not without an that such indignity should have befallen him, even acknowledgment that you yourself would have in the midst of the recollection that honester men joined him in its excess.
had experienced as unworthy and as ungrateful Landor. How so? If you can recollect it, the friends. I detested his abandonment of right critics will thank you for it.
principles in a coalition with a minister he had English Visiter. These, I think, are the verses. just before denounced ; and I deplored his habit
of gaming; a vice which brings after it more Had we two met, blithe-hearted Burns,
misery than any other, and perhaps than all Tho' water is my daily drink, May God forgive me but I think
united; and which misery falls on wives, mothers, We should have roared out toasts by turns.
and children, who never shared in the indul
gence of that selfish passion. In a parliamentary Inquisitive low whispering cares
leader it is the most pernicious; because it Had found no room in either pate, Until I asked thee, rather late,
alienates from him the most respectable and the Is there a hand-rail to the stairs !
most efficient supporters, and deprives a good
cause of good men. For this reason, and indeed Landor. My Bacchus is, I protest, as innocent on this ground alone, I wrote a Latin epitaph, not as Cowley's mistress : but, with a man like Burns, in honour to him, but certainly not to gratify any
resentment, which was very far from me; nor with | And yet life, which he would throw forward so unany desire to be countenanced by the wealthier of guardedly, is somewhat more with him than with the aristocracy, which was equally so; and least others : it is full of hopes and aspirations, it is of all to ingratiate myself with the most profligate teeming with warm feelings, it is rich and overrun prince that ever was tolerated by the English with its own native simple enjoyments. In him people; a wretch impure as Nero, and heartless everything that ever gave pleasure, gives it still, as Caligula.
with the same freshness, the same exuberance, the Tyrants and usurpers, or those who would same earnestness to communicate and share it." become so, are the only persons whose death “ By God! I can not understand it !" cried should be the subject of rejoicing over wine ; Byron. “A man to run upon a naked sword for and it is braver and more generous to compass it another !” than to sing it. Fox too had sung over wine; Landor. He had drawn largely from his imagi- i perhaps in that very room where he was lying in nation, penuriously from his heart. He distrusted his shroud; but never did he exult in the death it: what wonder then if he had little faith in of an adversary, or look through his brimming another's! Had he lived among the best of the glass at another's tears. He was not always a ancient Greeks, he would have satirised and re patriotic or conscientious statesman, nor very viled them : but their characters caught his eye strenuous at any time against corruptions and softened by time and distance; nothing in them abuses : but many were then lamenting him ; all of opposition, nothing of rivalry; where they are, who had ever known him personally. For in pri- there they must stand; they can not come down vate life he was so amiable, that his political vices nearer. Of all great poets, for such I consider seemed to them but weaknesses, and oftentimes him, Byron has borrowed most from others, not even as deep-laid schemes for some beneficent excepting Ariosto, of whose description he resystem : and he spoke with such warmth and con- minds me: fidence, that there appeared to be in his character, Balta a cavallo, e per diversa strada in despite of the importunity and pressure of
Va discorrendo, e molli pone a sacco. numberless proofs against him, both energy and Not only in the dresses which he puts on exprudence.
pressly for the ladies, not only in the oriental English Visiter. To discover, or to recapitulate, train and puffy turban, but also in the tragic pall, or to report, what is disadvantageous to man or his perfumery has somewhat too large a proporauthor, is little praiseworthy: but to find merit in tion of musk in it; which so hangs about those others is itself a merit; unless it is found, as hares who are accustomed to spend many hours with are found, only to be run down. To be assaulted him, that they seldom come forth again with satisby satire or undermined by criticism, is deplorable faction into what is fresher and purer. Yet Byron to those chiefly to whom authorship is a profession, is, I think, the keenest and most imaginative of and whose families must waste away with the satirists. poison thrown into the fountain-head of their English Visiter. Those who spoke the most subsistence. I wish you yourself had never malignantly of him in his lifetime, have panecracked the whip over Byron, differently as he gyrized him since his decease with so little truth, was situated.
discretion, and precision, that we may suspect it Landor. I expressed the same wish the first to have been done designedly; and the rather, as moment it was right and lawful.
the same insincerity hath been displayed toward English Visiter. There was something in his others, both where there might be and where mind not ungraceful nor inelegant, although from there could not be a jealousy of rivalship. After a deficiency of firmness, it wanted dignity. He his hot and stimulating spicery, we now are runissued forth against stronger and better men than ning to those sager poets who give us lemonade himself, partly through wantonness and malignity, and ices; just by the same direction as dogs recur partly through ignorance of their powers and to grass. We rush out of the sudatory of Byron worth, and partly through impatience at their to roll in the snow of Wordsworth. competition. He could comprehend nothing Landor. He suited the times. The rapid er. heroic, nothing disinterested. Shelley, at the gates citement and easy reading of novels, the only of Pisa, threw himself between him and the literature (if such it may be called) which inte dragoon, whose sword in his indignation was rests the public, outrun the graver and measured lifted and about to strike. Byron told a common steps of poetry. We have no longer decennial friend, some time afterward, that he could not epics and labyrinthine tragedies. Our steepleconceive how any man living should act so. “Do chases are out of vogue: we canter up and down you know, he might have been killed ! and there the narrow green lane with the ladies, and return was every appearance that he would be !” The with an appetite and small fatigue. Byron dealt answer was, “ Between you and Shelley there is chiefly in felt and furbelow, wavy Damascus dag but little similarity, and perhaps but little sympa- gers, and pocket pistols studded with paste. He i thy: yet what Shelley did then, he would do again, threw out frequent and brilliant sparks; but his and always. There is not a human creature, not fire burnt to no purpose; it blazed furiously when even the most hostile, that he would hesitate to it caught muslin, and it hurried many a pretty protect from injury at the imminent hazard of life. I wearer into an untimely blanket.