Selected English Letters (XV - XIX Centuries)

Part 6 out of 7

been called _philosophy_ or metaphysics in England and France, since
the era of the commencing predominance of the mechanical system at
the restoration of our second Charles, and with this the present
fashionable views, not only of religion, morals, and politics but
even of the modern physics and physiology. You will not blame the
earnestness of my expressions, nor the high importance which I attach
to this work: for how, with less noble objects, and less faith in
their attainment, could I stand acquitted of folly, and abuse of time,
talents, and learning in a labour of three-fourths of my intellectual
life? Of this work, something more than a volume has been dictated
by me, so as to exist fit for the press, to my friend and enlightened
pupil, Mr. Green; and more than as much again would have been evolved
and delivered to paper, but that, for the last six or eight months,
I have been compelled to break off our weekly meeting, from the
necessity of writing (alas! alas! of attempting to write) for
purposes, and on the subjects, of the passing day. Of my poetic works
I would fain finish the _Christabel_! Alas! for the proud time when I
planned, when I had present to my mind, the materials, as well as
the scheme, of the Hymns entitled _Spirit_, _Sun_, _Earth_, _Air_,
_Water_, _Fire_ and _Man_; and the Epic Poem on what still appears
to me the one only fit subject remaining for an epic poem--Jerusalem
besieged and destroyed by Titus.



4 March, 1822.

My Dearest Friend,

I have been much more than ordinarily unwell for more than a week
past--my sleeps worse than my vigils, my nights than my days;

--The night's dismay
Sadden'd and stunned the intervening day;

but last night I had not only a calmer night, without roaming in my
dreams through any of Swedenborg's Hells _moderes_; but arose this
morning lighter and with a sense of _relief_....

I shall make you smile, as I did dear Mary Lamb, when I say that you
sometimes mistake my position. As individual to individual, from
my childhood, I do not remember feeling myself either superior or
inferior to any human being; except by an act of my own will in cases
of real or imagined moral or intellectual superiority. In regard to
worldly rank, from eight years old to nineteen, I was habituated,
nay, naturalised, to look up to men circumstanced as you are, as my
superiors--a large number of our governors, and almost _all_ of those
whom we regarded as greater men still, and whom we saw most of, _viz._
our committee governors, were such--and as neither awake nor asleep
have I any other feelings than what I had at Christ's Hospital,
I distinctly remember that I felt a little flush of pride and
consequence--just like what we used to feel at school when the boys
came running to us--'Coleridge! here's your friends want you--they are
quite _grand_,' or 'It is quite a _lady_'--when I first heard who you
were, and laughed at myself for it with that pleasurable sensation
that, spite of my sufferings at that school, still accompanies any
sudden reawakening of our school-boy feelings and notions. And oh,
from sixteen to nineteen what hours of Paradise had Allen and I in
escorting the Miss Evanses home on a Saturday, who were then at a
milliner's whom we used to think, and who I believe really was, such
a nice lady;--and we used to carry thither, of a summer morning, the
pillage of the flower gardens within six miles of town, with Sonnet
or Love Rhyme wrapped round the nose-gay. To be feminine, kind, and
genteelly (what I should now call neatly) dressed, these were the only
things to which my head, heart, or imagination had any polarity, and
what I was then, I still am.

God bless you and yours.




_Question of copyrights_

Greta Hall, 20 _April_, 1808.

My dear Cottle,...

What you say of my copyrights affected me very much. Dear Cottle, set
your heart at rest on that subject. It ought to be at rest. These were
yours, fairly bought, and fairly sold. You bought them on the chance
of their success, which no London bookseller would have done; and had
they not been bought, they could not have been published at all. Nay,
if you had not purchased _Joan of Arc_, the poem never would have
existed, nor should I, in all probability, ever have obtained that
reputation which is the capital on which I subsist, nor that power
which enables me to support it.

But this is not all. Do you suppose, Cottle, that I have forgotten
those true and most essential acts of friendship which you showed me
when I stood most in need of them? Your house was my house when I had
no other. The very money with which I bought my wedding-ring, and paid
my marriage fees, was supplied by you. It was with your sisters I left
Edith during my six months' absence, and for the six months after my
return it was from you that I received, week by week, the little on
which we lived, till I was enabled to live by other means. It is not
the settling of a cash account that can cancel obligations like these.
You are in the habit of preserving your letters, and if you were
not, I would entreat you to preserve _this_, that it might be seen
hereafter. Sure I am, there never was a more generous or a kinder
heart than yours; and you will believe me when I add, that there does
not live that man upon earth, whom I remember with more gratitude
and more affection. My heart throbs and my eyes burn with these
recollections. Good night! my dear old friend and benefactor.



Liege, 6 _Oct._ 1815. Six p.m.

My dear friend,

I have a happy habit of making the best of all things; and being just
at this time as uncomfortable as the dust and bustle, and all the
disagreeables of an inn in a large filthy manufacturing city can make
me, I have called for pen, ink, and paper, and am actually writing in
the bar, the door open to the yard opposite to this unwiped table, the
doors open to the public room, where two men are dining, and talking
French, and a woman servant at my elbow is lighting a fire for our
party. Presently the folding-doors are to be shut, the ladies are to
descend from their chambers, the bar will be kept appropriated to our
house, the male part of the company will get into good humour, dinner
will be ready, and then I must lay aside the grey goose-quill. As a
preliminary to these promised comforts, the servant is mopping the
hearth, which is composed (like a tesselated pavement) of little
bricks about two inches long by half an inch wide, set within a broad
black stone frame. The fuel is of fire-balls, a mixture of pulverized
coal and clay. I have seen a great deal and heard a great deal,--more,
indeed, than I can keep pace with in my journal, though I strive hard
to do it; but I minute down short notes in my pencil-book with all
possible care, and hope, in the end, to lose nothing....

Flanders is a most interesting country. Bruges, the most striking city
I have ever seen, an old city in perfect preservation. It seems as if
not a house had been built during the last two centuries, and not a
house suffered to pass to decay. The poorest people seem to be well
lodged, and there is a general air of sufficiency, cleanliness,
industry, and comfort, which I have never seen in any other place. The
cities have grown worse as we advanced. At Namur we reached a dirty
city, situated in a romantic country; the Meuse there reminded me of
the Thames from your delightful house, an island in size and shape
resembling that upon which I have often wished for a grove of poplars,
coming just in the same position. From thence along the river to this
abominable place, the country is, for the greater part, as lovely as
can be imagined....

Our weather hitherto has been delightful. This was especially
fortunate at Waterloo and at Ligny, where we had much ground to walk
over. It would surprise you to see how soon nature has recovered from
the injuries of war. The ground is ploughed and sown, and grain and
flowers and seeds already growing over the field of battle, which is
still strewn with vestiges of the slaughter, caps, cartridges, boxes,
hats, &c. We picked up some French cards and some bullets, and we
purchased a French pistol and two of the eagles which the infantry
wear upon their caps. What I felt upon this ground, it would be
difficult to say; what I saw, and still more what I heard, there is no
time at present for saying. In prose and in verse you shall some day
hear the whole. At Les Quatre Bras, I saw two graves, which probably
the dogs or the swine had opened. In the one were the ribs of a human
body, projecting through the mould; in the other, the whole skeleton
exposed. Some of our party told me of a third, in which the worms were
at work, but I shrunk from the sight. You will rejoice to hear that
the English are as well spoken of for their deportment in peace as in
war. It is far otherwise with the Prussians. Concerning them there is
but one opinion; their brutality is said to exceed that of the French,
and of their intolerable insolence I have heard but too many proofs.
That abominable old Frederic made them a military nation, and this is
the inevitable consequence. This very day we passed a party on their
way towards France--some hundred or two. Two gentlemen and two ladies
of the country, in a carriage, had come up with them; and these
ruffians would not allow them to pass, but compelled them to wait and
follow the slow pace of foot soldiers! This we ourselves saw. Next to
the English, the Belgians have the best character for discipline....

I bought at Bruges a French History of Brazil, just published by M.
Alphonse de Beauchamp, in 3 vols. 8vo. He says, in his Preface, that
having finished the first two volumes, he thought it advisable to see
if any new light had been thrown upon the subject by modern authors.
Meantime, a compilation upon this history had appeared in England,
but the English author, Mr. Southey, had brought no new lights; he had
promised much for his second volume, but the hope of literary Europe
had been again deceived, for this second volume, so emphatically
promised, had not appeared. I dare say no person regrets this delay
so much as M. Beauchamp, he having stolen the whole of his two first
volumes, and about the third part of the other, from the very Mr.
Southey whom he abuses. He has copied my references as the list of his
own authorities (MSS. and all), and he has committed blunders which
prove, beyond all doubt, that he does not understand Portuguese. I
have been much diverted by this fellow's impudence.

The table is laid, and the knives and forks rattling a pleasant note
of preparation, as the woman waiter arranges them.

God bless you! I have hurried through the sheet, and thus pleasantly
beguiled what would have been a very unpleasant hour. We are all well,
and your god-daughter has seen a live emperor at Brussels. I feel the
disadvantage of speaking French ill, and understanding it by the ear
worse. Nevertheless, I speak it without remorse, make myself somehow
or other understood, and get at what I want to know. Once more, God
bless you, my dear friend.


_Anastasius Hope_

Keswick, 15 _July_, 1831.

... Have you seen the strange book which Anastasius Hope left
for publication, and which his representatives, in spite of all
dissuasion, have published? His notion of immortality and heaven is,
that at the consummation of all things he, and you, and I, and John
Murray, and Nebuchadnezzar, and Lambert the fat man, and the living
skeleton, and Queen Elizabeth, and the Hottentot Venus, and Thurtell,
and Probert, and the twelve Apostles, and the noble army of martyrs,
and Genghis Khan, and all his armies, and Noah with all his ancestors
and all his posterity--yea, all men and all women, and all children
that have ever been or ever shall be, saints and sinners alike--are
all to be put together, and made into one great celestial eternal
human being. He does not seem to have known how nearly this approaches
to Swedenborg's fancy. I do not like the scheme. I don't like the
notion of being mixed up with Hume, and Hunt, and Whittle Harvey, and
Philpotts, and Lord Althorpe, and the Huns, and the Hottentots, and
the Jews, and the Philistines, and the Scotch, and the Irish. God
forbid! I hope to be I myself; I, in an English heaven, with you
yourself--you, and some others, without whom heaven would be no heaven
to me. God bless you!


_Recollections of the Lambs_

Keswick, 2 _Feb._ 1836.

My dear sir,

I have been too closely engaged in clearing off the second volume of
Cowper to reply to your inquiries concerning poor Lamb sooner. His
acquaintance with Coleridge began at Christ's Hospital; Lamb was
some two years, I think, his junior. Whether he was ever one of the
_Grecians_ there, might be ascertained, I suppose, by inquiring. My
own impression is, that he was not. Coleridge introduced me to him
in the winter of 1794-5, and to George Dyer also, from whom, if his
memory has not failed, you might probably learn more of Lamb's early
history than from any other person. Lloyd, Wordsworth, and Hazlitt
became known to him through their connexion with Coleridge.

When I saw the family (one evening only, and at that time), they were
lodging somewhere near Lincoln's Inn, on the western side (I forget
the street), and were evidently in uncomfortable circumstances. The
father and mother were both living; and I have some dim recollection
of the latter's invalid appearance. The father's senses had failed him
before that time. He published some poems in quarto. Lamb showed me
once an imperfect copy: the _Sparrow's Wedding_ was the title of the
longest piece, and this was the author's favourite; he liked, in his
dotage, to hear Charles read it.

His most familiar friend, when I first saw him, was White, who held
some office at Christ's Hospital, and continued intimate with him as
long as he lived. You know what Elia says of him. He and Lamb were
joint authors of the _Original Letters of Falstaff_. Lamb, I believe,
first appeared as an author in the second edition of Coleridge's
_Poems_ (Bristol, 1797), and, secondly, in the little volume of blank
verse with Lloyd (1798). Lamb, Lloyd, and White were inseparable in
1798; the two latter at one time lodged together, though no two men
could be imagined more unlike each other. Lloyd had no drollery in his
nature; White seemed to have nothing else. You will easily understand
how Lamb could sympathize with both.

Lloyd, who used to form sudden friendships, was all but a stranger
to me, when unexpectedly he brought Lamb down to visit me at a little
village (Burton) near Christchurch, in Hampshire, where I was lodging
in a very humble cottage. This was in the summer of 1797, and then, or
in the following year, my correspondence with Lamb began. I saw more
of him in 1802 than at any other time, for I was then six months
resident in London. His visit to this county was before I came to it;
it must have been either in that or in the following year: it was to
Lloyd and to Coleridge.

I had forgotten one of his schoolfellows, who is still living--C.V.
Le Grice, a clergyman at or near Penzance. From him you might learn
something of his boyhood.

Cottle has a good likeness of Lamb, in chalk, taken by an artist named
Robert Hancock, about the year 1798. It looks older than Lamb was at
that time; but he was old-looking.

Coleridge introduced him to Godwin, shortly after the first number
of the _Anti-Jacobin Magazine and Review_ was published, with a
caricature of Gillray's, in which Coleridge and I were introduced with
asses' heads, and Lloyd and Lamb as toad and frog. Lamb got warmed
with whatever was on the table, became disputatious, and said things
to Godwin which made him quietly say, 'Pray, Mr. Lamb, are you toad
or frog?' Mrs. Coleridge will remember the scene, which was to her
sufficiently uncomfortable. But the next morning S.T.C. called on
Lamb, and found Godwin breakfasting with him, from which time their
intimacy began.

His angry letter to me in the _Magazine_ arose out of a notion that
an expression of mine in the _Quarterly Review_ would hurt the sale of
_Elia_; some one, no doubt, had said that it would. I meant to serve
the book, and very well remember how the offence happened. I had
written that it wanted nothing to render it altogether delightful but
a _saner_ religious feeling. _This_ would have been the proper word if
any other person had written the book. Feeling its extreme unfitness
as soon as it was written, I altered it immediately for the first word
which came into my head, intending to remodel the sentence when it
should come to me in the proof; and that proof never came. There can
be no objection to your printing all that passed upon the occasion,
beginning with the passage in the _Quarterly Review_, and giving his

I have heard Coleridge say that, in a fit of derangement, Lamb fancied
himself to be young Norval. He told me this in relation to one of his

If you will print my lines to him upon his _Album Verses_, I will
send you a corrected copy. You received his letters, I trust, which
Cuthbert took with him to town in October. I wish they had been more,
and wish, also, that I had more to tell you concerning him, and what
I have told were of more value. But it is from such fragments of
recollection, and such imperfect notices, that the materials for
biography must, for the most part, be collected.




_Temporary frenzy_

27 _May_, 1796.

... Coleridge! I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through
at Bristol. My life has been somewhat diversified of late. The six
weeks that finished last year and began this, your very humble servant
spent very agreeably in a madhouse, at Hoxton. I am got somewhat
rational now, and don't bite anyone. But mad I was! And many a vagary
my imagination played with me, enough to make a volume, if all were
told. My sonnets I have extended to the number of nine since I saw
you, and will some day communicate to you. I am beginning a poem
in blank verse, which, if I finish, I publish.... Coleridge! it may
convince you of my regards for you when I tell you my head ran on you
in my madness, as much almost as on another person, who I am inclined
to think was the more immediate cause of my temporary frenzy.


_A friend in need_

_Thursday, 11 June_, 1796.

... After all, you cannot, nor ever will, write anything with which I
shall be so delighted as what I have heard yourself repeat. You came
to town, and I saw you at a time when your heart was yet bleeding
with recent wounds. Like yourself, I was sore galled with disappointed
hope. You had

--many an holy lay
That, mourning, soothed the mourner on his way;

I had ears of sympathy to drink them in, and they yet vibrate pleasant
on the sense. When I read in your little volume your nineteenth
effusion, or the twenty-eighth or twenty-ninth, or what you call the
_Sigh_, I think I hear _you_ again. I image to myself the little smoky
room at the _Salutation and Cat_, where we have sat together through
the winter nights, beguiling the cares of life with Poesy. When you
left London, I felt a dismal void in my heart. I found myself cut off,
at one and the same time, from two most dear to me. 'How blest with
ye the path could I have trod of quiet life!' In your conversation you
had blended so many pleasant fancies that they cheated me of my grief.
But in your absence the tide of melancholy rushed in again, and did
its worst mischief by overwhelming my reason. I have recovered, but
feel a stupor that makes me indifferent to the hopes and fears of
this life. I sometimes wish to introduce a religious turn of mind,
but habits are strong things, and my religious fervours are confined,
alas! to some fleeting moments of occasional solitary devotion. A
correspondence, opening with you, has roused me a little from my
lethargy, and made me conscious of existence. Indulge me in it: I will
not be very troublesome! At some future time I will amuse you with
an account, as full as my memory will permit, of the strange turn my
frenzy took. I look back upon it at times with a gloomy kind of envy:
for, while it lasted, I had many, many hours of pure happiness. Dream
not, Coleridge, of having tasted all the grandeur and wildness of
fancy till you have gone mad! All now seems to me vapid, comparatively


_The tragedy_

27 _Sept_. 1796.


White, or some of my friends, or the public papers, by this time may
have informed you of the terrible calamities that have fallen on
our family. I will only give you the outlines: My poor dear, dearest
sister, in a fit of insanity, has been the death of our own mother. I
was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She
is at present in a madhouse, from whence I fear she must be moved to
an hospital. God has preserved to me my senses; I eat, and drink, and
sleep, and have my judgement, I believe, very sound. My poor father
was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my aunt.
Mr. Norris, of the Bluecoat School, has been very kind to us, and we
have no other friend; but, thank God, I am very calm and composed, and
able to do the best that remains to do. Write as religious a letter as
possible, but no mention of what is gone and done with. With me 'the
former things are passed away', and I have something more to do than
to feel.

God Almighty have us in His keeping!

Mention nothing of poetry. I have destroyed every vestige of past
vanities of that kind. Do as you please, but if you publish, publish
mine (I give free leave) without name or initial, and never send me a
book, I charge you.

Your own judgement will convince you not to take any notice of this
yet to your dear wife. You look after your family; I have reason
and strength left to take care of mine. I charge you, don't think of
coming to see me. Write. I will not see you if you come. God Almighty
love you and all of us!


_The delights of London_

30 _Jan_. 1801.

I ought before this to have replied to your very kind invitation into
Cumberland. With you and your sister I could gang anywhere; but I am
afraid whether I shall ever be able to afford so desperate a journey.
Separate from the pleasure of your company, I don't much care if I
never see a mountain in my life. I have passed all my days in London,
until I have formed as many and intense local attachments as any of
you mountaineers can have done with dead Nature. The lighted shops of
the Strand and Fleet Street; the innumerable trades, tradesmen, and
customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses; all the bustle and wickedness
round about Covent Garden; the very women of the Town; the watchmen,
drunken scenes, rattles;--life awake, if you awake, at all hours of
the night; the crowds, the very dirt and mud, the sun shining upon
houses and pavements, the printshops, the old book-stalls, parsons
cheapening books, coffee-houses, steams of soups from kitchens, the
pantomimes--London itself a pantomime and a masquerade--all these
things work themselves into my mind, and feed me, without a power
of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impels me often into
night-walks about her crowded streets, and I often shed tears in the
motley Strand from fullness of joy at so much life. All these
emotions must be strange to you; so are your rural emotions to me. But
consider, what must I have been doing all my life, not to have lent
great portions of my heart with usury to such scenes?

My attachments are all local, purely local. I have no passion (or have
had none since I was in love, and then it was the spurious engendering
of poetry and books) to groves and valleys. The rooms where I was
born, the furniture which has been before my eyes all my life, a
book-case which has followed me about like a faithful dog, (only
exceeding him in knowledge,) wherever I have moved, old chairs,
old tables, streets, squares, where I have sunned myself, my old
school,--these are my mistresses,--have I not enough, without your
mountains? I do not envy you. I should pity you, did I not know that
the mind will make friends of anything. Your sun, and moon, and skies,
and hills, and lakes, affect me no more, or scarcely come to me in
more venerable characters, than as a gilded room with tapestry and
tapers, where I might live with handsome visible objects. I consider
the clouds above me but as a roof beautifully painted, but unable to
satisfy the mind: and at last, like the pictures of the apartment of
a connoisseur, unable to afford him any longer a pleasure. So fading
upon me, from disuse, have been the beauties of Nature, as they have
been confinedly called; so ever fresh, and green, and warm are all the
inventions of men, and assemblies of men in this great city. I should
certainly have laughed with dear Joanna.

Give my kindest love, and my sister's, to D. and yourself; and a kiss
from me to little Barbara Lewthwaite. Thank you for liking my play!


_At the Lakes_

London, 24 _Sept_. 1802.

My dear Manning,

Since the date of my last letter I have been a traveller. A strong
desire seized me of visiting remote regions. My first impulse was to
go and see Paris. It was a trivial objection to my aspiring mind, that
I did not understand a word of the language, since I certainly intend
some time in my life to see Paris, and equally certainly intend never
to learn the language; therefore that could be no objection. However,
I am very glad I did not go, because you had left Paris (I see) before
I could have set out. I believe Stoddart promising to go with me
another year prevented that plan. My next scheme (for to my restless,
ambitious mind London was become a bed of thorns) was to visit the
far-famed peak in Derbyshire, where the Devil sits, they say, without
breeches. _This_ my purer mind rejected as indelicate. And my final
resolve was a tour to the Lakes. I set out with Mary to Keswick,
without giving Coleridge any notice, for my time, being precious, did
not admit of it. He received us with all the hospitality in the world,
and gave up his time to show us all the wonders of the country. He
dwells upon a small hill by the side of Keswick, in a comfortable
house, quite enveloped on all sides by a net of mountains: great
floundering bears and monsters they seemed, all couchant and asleep.
We got in in the evening, travelling in a post-chaise from Penrith, in
the midst of a gorgeous sunshine, which transmuted all the mountains
into colours, purple, &c., &c. We thought we had got into fairy-land.
But that went off (as it never came again; while we stayed we had no
more fine sunsets); and we entered Coleridge's comfortable study just
in the dusk, when the mountains were all dark with clouds upon their
heads. Such an impression I never received from objects of sight
before, nor do I suppose I can ever again. Glorious creatures, fine
old fellows, Skiddaw, &c. I shall never forget ye, how ye lay about
that night, like an intrenchment; gone to bed, as it seemed for the
night, but promising that ye were to be seen in the morning. Coleridge
had got a blazing fire in his study; which is a large, antique,
ill-shaped room, with an old-fashioned organ, never played upon, big
enough for a church, shelves of scattered folios, an Aeolian harp, and
an old sofa, half bed, &c. And all looking out upon the last fading
view of Skiddaw, and his broad-breasted brethren: what a night! Here
we stayed three full weeks, in which time I visited Wordsworth's
cottage, where we stayed a day or two with the Clarksons (good people,
and most hospitable, at whose house we tarried one day and night), and
saw Lloyd. The Wordsworths were gone to Calais. They have since been
in London, and passed much time with us: he is now gone into Yorkshire
to be married. So we have seen Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside, Ulswater
(where the Clarksons live), and a place at the other end of Ulswater;
I forget the name; to which we travelled on a very sultry day, over
the middle of Helvellyn. We have clambered up to the top of Skiddaw,
and I have waded up the bed of Lodore. In fine, I have satisfied
myself that there is such a thing as that which tourists call
_romantic_, which I very much suspected before: they make such a
spluttering about it, and toss their splendid epithets around them,
till they give as dim a light as at four o'clock next morning the
lamps do after an illumination. Mary was excessively tired when she
got about half-way up Skiddaw, but we came to a cold rill (than which
nothing can be imagined more cold, running over cold stones), and with
the reinforcement of a draught of cold water, she surmounted it most
manfully. Oh, its fine black head, and the bleak air atop of it, with
a prospect of mountains all about and about, making you giddy; and
then Scotland afar off, and the border countries so famous in song and
ballad! It was a day that will stand out, like a mountain, I am sure,
in my life. But I am returned (I have now been come home near three
weeks; I was a month out), and you cannot conceive the degradation
I felt at first, from being accustomed to wander free as air among
mountains, and bathe in rivers without being controlled by any one, to
come home and _work_. I felt very _little_. I had been dreaming I was
a very great man. But that is going off, and I find I shall conform
in time to that state of life to which it has pleased God to call me.
Besides, after all, Fleet Street and the Strand are better places to
live in for good and all than amidst Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to
those great places where I wandered about, participating in their
greatness. After all, I could not _live_ in Skiddaw. I could spend
a year, two, three years among them, but I must have a prospect of
seeing Fleet Street at the end of that time, or I should mope and pine
away, I know. Still, Skiddaw is a fine creature.

My habits are changing, I think, i.e. from drunk to sober. Whether
I shall be happier or not remains to be proved. I shall certainly be
more happy in a morning; but whether I shall not sacrifice the
fat, and the marrow, and the kidneys, i.e. the night, glorious,
care-drowning night, that heals all our wrongs, pours wine into our
mortifications, changes the scene from indifferent and flat to bright
and brilliant!--O Manning, if I should have formed a diabolical
resolution, by the time you come to England, of not admitting any
spirituous liquors into my house, will you be my guest on such
shame-worthy terms? Is life, with such limitations, worth trying? The
truth is, that my liquors bring a nest of friendly harpies about
my house, who consume me. This is a pitiful tale to be read at St.
Gothard, but it is just now nearest my heart. Fenwick is a ruined man.
He is hiding himself from his creditors, and has sent his wife and
children into the country. Fell, my other drunken companion (that has
been: _nam hic caestus artemque repono_), is turned editor of a Naval
Chronicle. Godwin continues a steady friend, though the same facility
does not remain of visiting him often. X. has detached Marshall from
his house; Marshall, the man who went to sleep when the _Ancient
Mariner_ was reading; the old, steady, unalterable friend of the
Professor. Holcraft is not yet come to town. I expect to see him, and
will deliver your message. Things come crowding in to say, and no
room for 'em. Some things are too little to be told, i.e. to have a
preference; some are too big and circumstantial. Thanks for yours,
which was most delicious. Would I had been with you, benighted, &c.!
I fear my head is turned with wandering. I shall never be the same
acquiescent being. Farewell. Write again quickly, for I shall not
like to hazard a letter, not knowing where the fates have carried you.
Farewell, my dear fellow.


_Dissuasion from Tartary_

19 _Feb_. 1803.


The general scope of your letter afforded no indications of insanity,
but some particular points raised a scruple. For God's sake don't
think any more of 'Independent Tartary'. What are you to do among such
Ethiopians? Is there no _lineal descendant_ of Prester John? Is the
chair empty? Is the sword unswayed?--depend upon it they'll never
make you their king, as long as any branch of that great stock
is remaining. I tremble for your Christianity.... Read Sir John
Mandeville's Travels to cure you, or come over to England. There is
a Tartar-man now exhibiting at Exeter Change. Come and talk with him,
and hear what he says first. Indeed, he is no very favourable specimen
of his countrymen! But perhaps the best thing you can do, is to _try_
to get the idea out of your head. For this purpose repeat to yourself
every night, after you have said your prayers, the words, Independent
Tartary, Independent Tartary, two or three times, and associate with
them the _idea_ of _oblivion_ ('tis Hartley's method with obstinate
memories), or say, Independent, Independent, have I not already got
an _independence_? That was a clever way of the old Puritans,
pun-divinity. My dear friend, think what a sad pity it would be to
bury such _parts_ in heathen countries, among nasty, unconversable,
horse-belching, Tartar-people! Some say they are Cannibals; and then,
conceive a Tartar-fellow _eating_ my friend, and adding the _cool
malignity_ of mustard and vinegar! I am afraid 'tis the reading of
Chaucer has misled you; his foolish stories about Cambuscan, and the
ring, and the horse of brass. Believe me, there are no such things,
'tis all the poet's _invention_; but if there were such darling things
as old Chaucer sings, I would _up_ behind you on the horse of brass,
and frisk off for Prester John's country. But these are all tales;
a horse of brass never flew, and a king's daughter never talked with
birds! The Tartars, really, are a cold, insipid, smouchy set. You'll
be sadly moped (if you are not eaten) among them. Pray _try_ and cure
yourself. Take hellebore (the counsel is Horace's, 'twas none of my
thought _originally_). Shave yourself oftener. Eat no saffron, for
saffron-eaters contract a terrible Tartar-like yellow. Pray, to avoid
the fiend. Eat nothing that gives the heart-burn. _Shave the upper_
_lip_. Go about like an European. Read no books of voyages (they are
nothing but lies), only now and then a romance, to keep the fancy
_under_. Above all, don't go to any sights of _wild beasts. That
has been your ruin_. Accustom yourself to write familiar letters, on
common subjects, to your friends in England, such as are of a moderate
understanding. And think about common things more.... I supped last
night with Rickman, and met a merry _natural_ captain, who pleases
himself vastly with once having made a pun at Otaheite in the O.
language. 'Tis the same man who said Shakespeare he liked, because
he was so _much of the gentleman_. Rickman is a man 'absolute in all
numbers'. I think I may one day bring you acquainted, if you do not
go to Tartary first; for you'll never come back. Have a care, my dear
friend, of Anthropophagi! their stomachs are always craving. 'Tis
terrible to be weighed out at five pence a-pound. To sit at table (the
reverse of fishes in Holland), not as a guest, but as a meat.

God bless you: do come to England. Air and exercise may do great
things. Talk with some minister. Why not your father?

God dispose all for the best. I have discharged my duty.


_Friends' importunities_

East India House, 18 _Feb_. 1818.


I have repeatedly taken pen in hand to answer your kind letter. My
sister should more properly have done it, but she having failed, I
consider myself answerable for her debts. I am now trying to do it
in the midst of commercial noises, and with a quill which seems more
ready to glide into arithmetical figures and names of gourds, cassia,
cardemoms, aloes, ginger, or tea, than into kindly responses and
friendly recollections. The reason why I cannot write letters at home,
is, that I am never alone. Plato's--(I write to W.W. now)--Plato's
double-animal parted never longed more to be reciprocally re-united in
the system of its first creation, than I sometimes do to be but for
a moment single and separate. Except my morning's walk to the office,
which is like treading on sands of gold for that reason, I am never
so. I cannot walk home from office but some officious friend offers
his unwelcome courtesies to accompany me. All the morning I am
pestered. I could sit and gravely cast up sums in great books, or
compare sum with sum, and write 'paid' against this, and 'unpaid'
against t'other, and yet reserve in some corner of my mind 'some
darling thoughts all my own',--faint memory of some passage in a book,
or the tone of an absent friend's voice--a snatch of Miss Burrell's
singing, or a gleam of Fanny Kelly's divine plain face. The two
operations might be going on at the same time without thwarting, as
the sun's two motions (earth's, I mean), or, as I sometimes turn
round till I am giddy, in my back parlour, while my sister is walking
longitudinally in the front; or, as the shoulder of veal twists round
with the spit, while the smoke wreathes up the chimney. But there are
a set of amateurs of the Belles Lettres--the gay science--who come to
me as a sort of rendezvous, putting questions of criticism, of British
Institutions, Lalla Rookhs, &c.--what Coleridge said at the lecture
last night--who have the form of reading men, but, for any possible
use reading can be to them, but to talk of, might as well have been
Ante-Cadmeans born, or have lain sucking out the sense of an Egyptian
hieroglyph as long as the pyramids will last, before they should
find it. These pests worrit me at business, and in all its intervals,
perplexing my accounts, poisoning my little salutary warming-time at
the fire, puzzling my paragraphs if I take a newspaper, cramming in
between my own free thoughts and a column of figures, which had come
to an amicable compromise but for them. Their noise ended, one of
them, as I said, accompanies me home, lest I should be solitary for
a moment; he at length takes his welcome leave at the door; up I go,
mutton on table, hungry as hunter, hope to forget my cares, and bury
them in the agreeable abstraction of mastication; knock at the door,
in comes Mr. ----, or Mr. ----, or Demi-gorgon, or my brother, or
somebody, to prevent my eating alone--a process absolutely
necessary to my poor wretched digestion. O, the pleasure of eating
alone!--eating my dinner alone! let me think of it. But in they
come, and make it absolutely necessary that I should open a bottle of
orange--for my meat turns into stone when anyone dines with me, if I
have not wine. Wine can mollify stones; then _that_ wine turns into
acidity, acerbity, misanthropy, a hatred of my interrupters--(God
bless 'em! I love some of 'em dearly), and with the hatred, a still
greater aversion to their going away. Bad is the dead sea they bring
upon me, choking and deadening, but worse is the deader dry sand they
leave me on, if they go before bed-time. Come never, I would say to
these spoilers of my dinner; but if you come, never go! The fact is,
this interruption does not happen very often; but every time it comes
by surprise, that present bane of my life, orange wine, with all its
dreary stifling consequences, follows. Evening company I should always
like had I any mornings, but I am saturated with human faces (_divine_
forsooth!) and voices all the golden morning; and five evenings in a
week would be as much as I should covet to be in company, but I
assure you that is a wonderful week in which I can get two, or one, to
myself. I am never C.L., but always C.L. & Co. He who thought it
not good for man to be alone, preserve me from the more prodigious
monstrosity of being never by myself! I forget bed-time, but even
there these sociable frogs clamber up to annoy me. Once a week,
generally some singular evening that, being alone, I go to bed at the
hour I ought always to be a-bed; just close to my bed-room window is
the club-room of a public-house, where a set of singers, I take them
to be chorus singers of the two theatres (it must be _both of them_),
begin their orgies. They are a set of fellows (as I conceive) who,
being limited by their talents to the burthen of the song at the
play-houses, in revenge have got the common popular airs by Bishop, or
some cheap composer, arranged for choruses, that is, to be sung all in
chorus. At least, I never can catch any of the text of the plain song,
nothing but the Babylonish choral howl at the tail on't. 'That fury
being quench'd'--the howl I mean--a burden succeeds of shouts and
clapping, and knocking of the table. At length overtasked nature drops
under it, and escapes for a few hours into the society of the sweet
silent creatures of dreams, which go away with mocks and mows at
cockcrow. And then I think of the words Christabel's father used
(bless me, I have dipt in the wrong ink!) to say every morning by way
of variety when he awoke:

Every knell, the Baron saith,
Wakes us up to a world of death--

or something like it. All I mean by this senseless interrupted tale,
is, that by my central situation I am a little over-companied. Not
that I have any animosity against the good creatures that are so
anxious to drive away the harpy solitude from me. I like 'em, and
cards, and a cheerful glass; but I mean merely to give you an idea
between office confinement and after-office society, how little time
I can call my own. I mean only to draw a picture, not to make an
inference. I would not that I know of have it otherwise. I only wish
sometimes I could exchange some of my faces and voices for the faces
and voices which a late visitation brought most welcome, and carried
away, leaving regret, but more pleasure, even a kind of gratitude, at
being so often favoured with that kind northern visitation. My London
faces and noises don't hear me--I mean no disrespect, or I should
explain myself, that instead of their return 220 times a year, and
the return of W.W., &c., seven times in 104 weeks, some more equal
distribution might be found. I have scarce room to put in Mary's kind
love, and my poor name ...--goes on lecturing.... I mean to hear some
of the course, but lectures are not much to my taste, whatever the
lecturer may be. If _read_, they are dismal flat, and you can't think
why you are brought together to hear a man read his works, which you
could read so much better at leisure yourself; if delivered extempore,
I am always in pain, lest the gift of utterance should suddenly fail
the orator in the middle, as it did me at the dinner given in honour
of me at the London Tavern. 'Gentlemen,' said I, and there I stopped;
the rest my feelings were under the necessity of supplying. Mrs.
Wordsworth _will_ go on, kindly haunting us with visions of seeing the
lakes once more, which never can be realised. Between us there is a
great gulf, not of inexplicable moral antipathies and distances, I
hope, as there seemed to be between me and that gentleman concerned
in the Stamp Office, that I so strangely recoiled from at Haydon's. I
think I had an instinct that he was the head of an office. I hate all
such people--accountants' deputy accountants. The dear abstract notion
of the East India Company, as long as she is unseen, is pretty, rather
poetical; but as she makes herself manifest by the persons of such
beasts, I loathe and detest her as the scarlet what-do-you-call-her
of Babylon. I thought, after abridging us of all our red-letter days,
they had done their worst; but I was deceived in the length to which
heads of offices, those true liberty-haters, can go. They are the
tyrants; not Ferdinand, nor Nero. By a decree passed this week, they
have abridged us of the immemorially-observed custom of going at one
o'clock of a Saturday, the little shadow of a holiday left us. Dear
W.W., be thankful for liberty.


_The famous pigling_

9 _March_, 1822.


It gives me great satisfaction to hear that the pig turned out so
well: they are such interesting creatures at a certain age. What a
pity such buds should blow out into the maturity of rank bacon! You
had all some of the crackling and brain sauce. Did you remember to rub
it with butter, and gently dredge it a little, just before the crisis?
Did the eyes come away kindly with no Oedipean avulsion? Was the
crackling the colour of the ripe pomegranate? Had you no complement of
boiled neck of mutton before it, to blunt the edge of delicate desire?
Did you flesh maiden teeth in it? Not that _I_ sent the pig, or can
form the remotest guess what part Owen could play in the business. I
never knew him give anything away in my life. He would not begin with
strangers. I suspect the pig, after all, was meant for me; but at the
unlucky juncture of time being absent, the present somehow went round
to Highgate. To confess an honest truth, a pig is one of those things
which I could never think of sending away. Teal, widgeon, snipes,
barn-door fowls, ducks, geese--your tame villatic things--Welsh
mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, fresh or pickled, your potted
char, Swiss cheeses, French pies, early grapes, muscadines, I impart
as freely unto my friends as to myself. They are but self extended,
but pardon me if I stop somewhere. Where the fine feeling of
benevolence giveth a higher smack than the sensual rarity, there my
friends (or any good man) may command me; but pigs are pigs, and
I myself therein am nearest to myself. Nay, I should think it an
affront, an undervaluing done to Nature who bestowed such a boon upon
me, if in a churlish mood I parted with the precious gift. One of the
bitterest pangs of remorse I ever felt was when a child--when my kind
old aunt had strained her pocket-strings to bestow a sixpenny
whole plum-cake upon me. In my way home through the Borough I met a
venerable old man, not a mendicant, but thereabouts; a look-beggar,
not a verbal petitionist; and in the coxcombry of taught charity I
gave away the cake to him. I walked on a little in all the pride of an
Evangelical peacock, when of a sudden my old aunt's kindness crossed
me; the sum it was to her; the pleasure she had a right to expect
that I--not the old impostor--should take in eating her cake; the
ingratitude by which, under the colour of a Christian virtue, I had
frustrated her cherished purpose. I sobbed, wept, and took it to
heart so grievously, that I think I never suffered the like; and I was
right. It was a piece of unfeeling hypocrisy, and it proved a lesson
to me ever after. The cake has long been masticated, consigned to
the dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable pauper. But when
Providence, who is better to us than all our aunts, gives me a pig,
remembering my temptation and my fall, I shall endeavour to act
towards it more in the spirit of the donor's purpose.

Yours (short of pig) to command in every thing.


_A blessing in disguise_

9 _Jan_. 1823.

'Throw yourself on the world without any rational plan of support,
beyond what the chance employ of booksellers would afford you'!!!

Throw yourself rather, my dear sir, from the steep Tarpeian rock,
slap-dash headlong upon iron spikes. If you have but five consolatory
minutes between the desk and the bed, make much of them, and live a
century in them, rather than turn slave to the booksellers. They are
Turks and Tartars when they have poor authors at their beck. Hitherto
you have been at arm's length from them. Come not within their grasp.
I have known many authors want for bread, some repining, others
envying the blessed security of a counting-house, all agreeing they
had rather have been tailors, weavers--what not? rather than the
things they were. I have known some starved, some to go mad, one dear
friend literally dying in a workhouse. You know not what a rapacious,
dishonest set these booksellers are. Ask even Southey, who (a single
case almost) has made a fortune by book-drudgery, what he has found
them. Oh, you know not, may you never know, the miseries of subsisting
by authorship! 'Tis a pretty appendage to a situation like yours or
mine; but a slavery, worse than all slavery, to be a bookseller's
dependant, to drudge your brains for pots of ale, and breasts of
mutton, _to change your_ FREE THOUGHTS _and_ VOLUNTARY NUMBERS _for
ungracious_ TASK-WORK. Those fellows hate _us_. The reason I take to
be, that contrary to other trades, in which the master gets all the
credit (a jeweller or silversmith for instance,) and the journeyman,
who really does the fine work, is in the background: in _our_ work
the world gives all the credit to us, whom _they_ consider as _their_
journeymen, and therefore do they hate us, and cheat us, and oppress
us, and would wring the blood of us out, to put another sixpence in
their mechanic pouches!...

Keep to your bank, and the bank will keep you. Trust not to the
public; you may hang, starve, drown yourself, for anything that worthy
_personage_ cares. I bless every star, that Providence, not seeing
good to make me independent, has seen it next good to settle me upon
the stable foundation of Leadenhall. Sit down, good B.B., in the
banking-office: what! is there not from six to eleven p.m. six days
in the week, and is there not all Sunday? Fie, what a superfluity
of man's time, if you could think so! Enough for relaxation, mirth,
converse, poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. O the corroding,
torturing, tormenting thoughts, that disturb the brain of the unlucky
wight who must draw upon it for daily sustenance! Henceforth I retract
all my fond complaints of mercantile employment; look upon them as
lover's quarrels. I was but half in earnest. Welcome dead timber
of the desk, that makes me live. A little grumbling is a wholesome
medicine for the spleen, but in my inner heart do I approve and
embrace this our close, but unharassing way of life. I am quite
serious. If you can send me Fox, I will not keep it _six weeks_, and
will return it, with warm thanks to yourself and friend, without blot
or dog's-ear. You will much oblige me by this kindness.


_A cold_

9 _Jan_. 1824.


Do you know what it is to succumb under an insurmountable
day-mare,--'a whoreson lethargy', Falstaff calls it,--an indisposition
to do anything, or to be anything,--a total deadness and distaste,--a
suspension of vitality,--an indifference to locality,--a numb,
soporifical, good-for-nothingness,--an ossification all over,--an
oyster-like insensibility to the passing events,--a mind-stupor,--a
brawny defiance to the needles of a thrusting-in conscience? Did you
ever have a very bad cold, with a total irresolution to submit to
water-gruel processes? This has been for many weeks my lot, and my
excuse; my fingers drag heavily over this paper, and to my thinking it
is three-and-twenty furlongs from here to the end of this demi-sheet.
I have not a thing to say; no thing is of more importance than
another; I am flatter than a denial or a pancake; emptier than Judge
----'s wig when the head is in it; duller than a country stage when
the actors are off it; a cipher, an O! I acknowledge life at all, only
by an occasional convulsional cough, and a permanent phlegmatic pain
in the chest. I am weary of the world; life is weary of me. My day is
gone into twilight, and I don't think it worth the expense of candles.
My wick hath a thief in it, but I can't muster courage to snuff it.
I inhale suffocation; I can't distinguish veal from mutton; nothing
interests me. 'Tis twelve o'clock, and Thurtell is just now coming out
upon the New Drop, Jack Ketch alertly tucking up his greasy sleeves
to do the last office of mortality, yet cannot I elicit a groan or
a moral reflection. If you told me the world will be at an end
to-morrow, I should just say, 'Will it?' I have not volition enough
left to dot my _i's_, much less to comb my eyebrows; my eyes are
set in my head; my brains are gone out to see a poor relation in
Moorflelds, and they did not say when they'd come back again; my skull
is a Grub Street attic to let--not so much as a joint stool left in
it; my hand writes, not I, from habit, as chickens run about a
little, when their heads are off. O for a vigorous fit of gout, colic,
toothache,--an earwig in my auditory, a fly in my visual organs; pain
is life--the sharper, the more evidence of life; but this apathy, this
death! Did you ever have an obstinate cold,--a six or seven weeks'
unintermitting chill and suspension of hope, fear, conscience, and
every thing? Yet do I try all I can to cure it; I try wine, and
spirits, and smoking, and snuff in unsparing quantities, but they all
only seem to make me worse instead of better. I sleep in a damp room,
but it does me no good; I come home late o' nights, but do not find
any visible amendment!...

It is just fifteen minutes after twelve; Thurtell is by this time
a good way on his journey, baiting at Scorpion perhaps; Ketch is
bargaining for his cast coat and waistcoat; the Jew demurs at first at
three half-crowns, but, on consideration that he may get somewhat by
showing 'em in the town, finally closes.



To Miss Sarah Stoddart

_A love-letter_

Tuesday night [_Jan._ 1808].


Above a week has passed, and I have received no letter--not one of
those letters 'in which I live, or have no life at all'. What is
become of you? Are you married, hearing that I was dead (for so it has
been reported)? Or are you gone into a nunnery? Or are you fallen in
love with some of the amorous heroes of Boccaccio? Which of them is
it? Is it with Chynon, who was transformed from a clown into a lover,
and learned to spell by the force of beauty? Or with Lorenzo, the
lover of Isabella, whom her three brethren hated (as your brother does
me), who was a merchant's clerk? Or with Federigo Alberigi, an honest
gentleman, who ran through his fortune, and won his mistress by
cooking a fair falcon for her dinner, though it was the only means he
had left of getting a dinner for himself? This last is the man; and
I am the more persuaded of it, because I think I won your good liking
myself by giving you an entertainment--of sausages, when I had no
money to buy them with. Nay now, never deny it! Did I not ask your
consent that very night after, and did you not give it? Well, I should
be confoundedly jealous of those fine gallants, if I did not know that
a living dog is better than a dead lion; though, now I think of it,
Boccaccio does not in general make much of his lovers: it is his women
who are so delicious. I almost wish I had lived in those times, and
had been a little _more amiable_. Now if a woman had written the book,
it would not have had this effect upon me: the men would have been
heroes and angels, and the women nothing at all. Isn't there some
truth in that? Talking of departed loves, I met my old flame the other
day in the street. I did dream of her _one_ night since, and only one:
every other night I have had the same dream I have had for these two
months past. Now, if you are at all reasonable, this will satisfy you.

_Thursday morning_. The book is come. When I saw it I thought you had
sent it back in a _huff_, tired out by my sauciness, and _coldness_,
and delays, and were going to keep an account of dimities and sayes,
or to salt pork and chronicle small beer as the dutiful wife of some
fresh-looking, rural swain; so that you cannot think how surprised
and pleased I was to find them all done. I liked your note as well or
better than the extracts; it is just such a note as such a nice rogue
as you ought to write after the _provocation_ you had received. I
would not give a pin for a girl 'whose cheeks never tingle', nor for
myself if I could not make them tingle sometimes. Now, though I am
always writing to you about 'lips and noses', and such sort of stuff,
yet as I sit by my fireside (which I do generally eight or ten hours a
day), I oftener think of you in a serious, sober light. For, indeed,
I never love you so well as when I think of sitting down with you to
dinner on a boiled scrag-end of mutton, and hot potatoes. You please
my fancy more then than when I think of you in--no, you would never
forgive me if I were to finish the sentence. Now I think of it, what
do you mean to be dressed in when we are married? But it does not much
matter! I wish you would let your hair grow; though perhaps nothing
will be better than 'the same air and look with which at first my
heart was took'. But now to business. I mean soon to call upon your
brother _in form_, namely, as soon as I get quite well, which I hope
to do in about another _fortnight_; and then I hope you will come up
by the coach as fast as the horses can carry you, for I long mightily
to be in your ladyship's presence--to vindicate my character. I think
you had better sell the small house, I mean that at 4.10, and I will
borrow L100. So that we shall set off merrily in spite of all the
prudence of Edinburgh. Goodbye, little dear!


_Marriage, and the choice of a profession_


... If you ever marry, I would wish you to marry the woman you like.
Do not be guided by the recommendations of friends. Nothing will
atone for or overcome an original distaste. It will only increase from
intimacy; and if you are to live separate, it is better not to come
together. There is no use in dragging a chain through life, unless
it binds one to the object we love. Choose a mistress from among your
equals. You will be able to understand her character better, and she
will be more likely to understand yours. Those in an inferior station
to yourself will doubt your good intentions, and misapprehend your
plainest expressions. All that you swear is to them a riddle or
downright nonsense. You cannot by any possibility translate your
thoughts into their dialect. They will be ignorant of the meaning of
half you say, and laugh at the rest. As mistresses, they will have no
sympathy with you; and as wives, you can have none with them.

Women care nothing about poets, or philosophers, or politicians. They
go by a man's looks and manner. Richardson calls them 'an eye-judging
sex'; and I am sure he knew more about them than I can pretend to do.
If you run away with a pedantic notion that they care a pin's point
about your head or your heart, you will repent it too late....

If I were to name one pursuit rather than another, I should wish you
to be a good painter, if such a thing could be hoped. I have failed in
this myself, and should wish you to be able to do what I have not--to
paint like Claude, or Rembrandt, or Guido, or Vandyke, if it were
possible. Artists, I think, who have succeeded in their chief object,
live to be old, and are agreeable old men. Their minds keep alive
to the last. Cosway's spirits never flagged till after ninety; and
Nollekens, though nearly blind, passed all his mornings in giving
directions about some group or bust in his workshop. You have seen Mr.
Northcote, that delightful specimen of the last age. With what avidity
he takes up his pencil, or lays it down again to talk of numberless
things! His eye has not lost its lustre, nor 'paled its ineffectual
fire'. His body is but a shadow: he himself is a pure spirit. There is
a kind of immortality about this sort of ideal and visionary existence
that dallies with Fate and baffles the grim monster, Death. If I
thought you could make as clever an artist, and arrive at such an
agreeable old age as Mr. Northcote, I should declare at once for your
devoting yourself to this enchanting profession; and in that reliance,
should feel less regret at some of my own disappointments, and little
anxiety on your account!


_The Life of Napoleon_

7 _Dec_. [1827].


I thought all the world agreed with me at present that Buonaparte was
better than the Bourbons, or that a tyrant was better than tyranny.
In my opinion, no one of an understanding above the rank of a lady's
waiting-maid could ever have doubted this, though I alone said it ten
years ago. It might be impolicy then and now for what I know, for the
world stick to an opinion in appearance long after they have given it
up in reality. I should like to know whether the preface is thought
impolitic by some one who agrees with me in the main point, or by some
one who differs with me and makes this excuse not to have his opinion
contradicted? In Paris (_jubes regina renovare dolorem_) the preface
was thought a masterpiece, the best and only possible defence of
Buonaparte, and quite new _there_! It would be an impertinence in me
to write a Life of Buonaparte after Sir W. without some such object as
that expressed in the preface. After all, I do not care a _damn_ about
the preface. It will get me on four pages somewhere else. Shall I
retract my opinion altogether, and forswear my own book? Rayner is
right to cry out: I think I have tipped him fair and foul copy, a lean
rabbit and a fat one. The remainder of vol. ii will be ready to go on
with, but not the beginning of the third. The appendixes had better
be at the end of the second vol. Pray get them if you can: you have my
Sieyes, have you not? One of them is there. I have been nearly in the
other world. My regret was 'to die and leave the world "rough" copy'.
Otherwise I had thought of an epitaph and a good end. Hic jacent
reliquiae mortales Gulielmi Hazlitt, auctoris non intelligibilis:
natus Maidstoniae in comi [ta] tu Cantiae, Apr. 10, 1778. Obiit
Winterslowe, Dec., 1827. I think of writing an epistle to C. Lamb,
Esq., to say that I have passed near the shadowy world, and have had
new impressions of the vanity of this, with hopes of a better. Don't
you think this would be good policy? Don't mention it to the severe
author of the '_Press_', a poem, but me thinks the idea _arridet_
Hone. He would give sixpence to see me floating, upon a pair of
borrowed wings, half way between heaven and earth, and edifying
the good people at my departure, whom I shall only scandalize by
remaining. At present my study and contemplation is the leg of a
stewed fowl. I have behaved like a saint, and been obedient to orders.

_Non fit pugil_, &c., I got a violent spasm by walking fifteen miles
in the mud, and getting into a coach with an old lady who would have
the window open. Delicacy, moderation, complaisance, the _suaviter in
modo_, whisper it about, my dear Clarke, these are my faults and have
been my ruin.




_A belated letter_[1]

Vale of Health, Hampstead, 8 _March_, 1821


You have concluded, of course, that I have sent no letters to Rome,
because I was aware of the effect they would have on Keats's mind; and
this is the principal cause; for, besides what I have been told about
letters in Italy, I remember his telling me upon one occasion that, in
his sick moments, he never wished to receive another letter, or ever
to see another face, however friendly. But still I should have written
to you, had I not been almost at death's door myself. You will imagine
how ill I have been, when you hear that I have but just begun writing
again for the _Examiner_ and _Indicator_, after an interval of
several months, during which my flesh wasted from me with sickness
and melancholy. Judge how often I thought of Keats, and with what
feelings. Mr. Brown tells me he is comparatively calm now, or rather
quite so. If he can bear to hear of us, pray tell him; but he knows it
already, and can put it in better language than any man. I hear that
he does not like to be told that he may get better; nor is it to
be wondered at, considering his firm persuasion that he shall not
survive. He can only regard it as a puerile thing, and an insinuation
that he shall die. But if his persuasion should happen to be no longer
so strong, or if he can now put up with attempts to console him, of
what I have said a thousand times, and what I still (upon my honour)
think always, that I have seen too many instances of recovery from
apparently desperate cases of consumption not to be in hope to the
very last. If he still cannot bear this, tell him--tell that great
poet and noble-hearted man--that we shall all bear his memory in the
most precious part of our hearts, and that the world shall bow their
heads to it, as our loves do. Or if this, again, will trouble his
spirit, tell him that we shall never cease to remember and love him;
and that, Christian or infidel, the most sceptical of us has faith
enough in the high things that nature puts into our heads, to think
all who are of one accord in mind or heart are journeying to one and
the same place, and shall unite somewhere or other again, face to
face, mutually conscious, mutually delighted. Tell him he is only
before us on the road, as he is in everything else; or, whether you
tell him the latter or no, tell him the former, and add that we shall
never forget that he was so, and that we are coming after him. The
tears are again in my eyes, and I must not afford to shed them. The
next letter I write shall be more to yourself, and more refreshing to
your spirits, which we are very sensible must have been greatly taxed.
But whether your friend dies or not, it will not be among the least
lofty of your recollections by-and-by that you helped to smooth the
sick-bed of so fine a being. God bless you, dear Severn.

[Footnote 1: Keats died in February.]


_Outpourings of gratitude_

Stonehouse, near Plymouth, 26 _March_, 1822.


Your letters always contain something delightful to me, whatever news
they bring.

Surgit _amici_ aliquid, quod in ipsis _nubibus_

But I confess your latter ones have greatly relieved me on the subject
you speak of. They only make me long, with an extreme Homeric longing,
to be at Pisa,--I mean such an one as Achilles felt when he longed to
be with his father,--sharp in his very limbs. We have secured a ship,
the _David Walter_, which will call for us here, and sets sail
from London in a fortnight. I have written by to-day's post with
intelligence of it to Mrs. Fletcher, enclosing her the letter, and
giving her the option of going on board in London, or here. I need not
say we shall attend to her comforts in every respect. The same post
also carries a letter to Mr. Gisborne, stating your wishes, and
wonders respecting _Adonais_. If it is not published before I leave
England, I will publish my criticism upon the Pisa copy,--a criticism
which I think you will like. I take the opportunity of showing the
public why Gifford's review spoke so bitterly of _Prometheus_, and
why it pretends that the most metaphysical passage of your most
metaphysical poem is a specimen of the clearness of your general
style. The wretched priest-like cunning and undertoned malignity of
that review of _Prometheus_ is indeed a homage paid to qualities which
can so provoke it. The _Quarterly_ pretends now, that it never meddles
with you personally,--of course it never did! For this, _Blackwood_
cries out upon it, contrasting its behaviour in those delicate matters
with its own! This is better and better, and the public seem to think
so; for these things, depend upon it, are getting better understood
every day, and shall be better and better understood every day to
come. One circumstance which helps to reconcile me to having been
detained on this coast, is the opportunity it has given me to make
your works speak for themselves wherever I could; and you are in high
lustre, I assure you, with the most intelligent circles in Plymouth,
[Greek: astaer epsos]. I have, indeed, been astonished to find
how well prepared people of intelligence are to fall in with your
aspirations, and despise the mistakes and rascally instincts of your
calumniators. This place, for instance, abounds in _schoolmasters_,
who appear, to a man, to be liberal to an extreme and esoterical
degree. And such, there is reason to believe, is the case over the
greater part of the kingdom, greatly, no doubt, owing to political
causes. Think of the consequences of this with the rising generation.
I delight in _Adonais_. It is the most Delphic poetry I have seen
a long while; full of those embodyings of the most subtle and airy
imaginations,--those arrestings and explanations of the most shadowy
yearnings of our being--which are the most difficult of all things
to put into words, and the most delightful when put. I do not know
whether you are aware how fond I am of your song on the Skylark; but
you ought, if Ollier sent you a copy of the enlarged _Calendar_
_of Nature_, which he published separately under the title of the
_Months_. I tell you this, because I have not done half or a twentieth
part of what I ought to have done to make your writings properly
appreciated. But I intended to do more every day, and now that I am
coming to you, I shall be _totus_ in you and yours! For all good, and
healthy, and industrious things, I will do such wonders, that I shall
begin to believe I make some remote approach to something like a
return for your kindness. Yet how can that be? At all events, I hope
we shall all be the better for one another's society. Marianne, poor
dear girl, is still very ailing and weak, but stronger upon the whole,
she thinks, than when she first left London, and quite prepared and
happy to set off on her spring voyage. She sends you part of her best
love. I told her I supposed I must answer Marina's letter for her, but
she is quite grand on the occasion, and vows she will do it herself,
which, I assure you, will be the first time she has written a letter
for many months. Ask Marina if she will be charitable, and write one
to me. I will undertake to answer it with one double as long. But what
am I talking about, when the captain speaks of sailing in a fortnight?
I was led astray by her delightful letter to Marianne about walks, and
duets, and violets, and ladies like violets. Am I indeed to see and
be in the midst of all these beautiful things, ladies like lilies not
excepted? And do the men in Italy really leave ladies to walk in those
very amiable dry ditches by themselves? Oh! for a few strides, like
those of Neptune, when he went from some place to some other place,
and 'did it in three!' Dear Shelley, I am glad my letter to Lord B.
pleased you, though I do not know why you should so thank me for it.
But you are ingenious in inventing claims for me upon your affection.


_Shelley's death_

Pisa, 25 _July_, 1822.

Dear Horace,

I trust that the first news of the dreadful calamity which has
befallen us here will have been broken to you by report, otherwise I
shall come upon you with a most painful abruptness; but Shelley, my
divine-minded friend, your friend, the friend of the universe, he has
perished at sea. He was in a boat with his friend Captain Williams,
going from Leghorn to Lerici, when a storm arose, and it is supposed
the boat must have foundered. It was on the 8th instant, about four
or five in the evening, they guess. A fisherman says he saw the boat
a few minutes before it went down: he looked again and it was gone. He
saw the boy they had with them aloft furling one of the sails. We hope
his story is true, as their passage from life to death will then have
been short; and what adds to the hope is, that in S's pocket (for the
bodies were both thrown on shore some days afterwards,--conceive our
horrible certainty, after trying all we could to hope!) a copy of
Keats's last volume, which he had borrowed of me to read on his
passage, was found _open_ and doubled back as if it had been thrust
in, in the hurry of a surprise. God bless him! I cannot help thinking
of him as if he were alive as much as ever, so unearthly he always
appeared to me, and so seraphical a thing of the elements; and this
is what all his friends say. But what we all feel, your own heart will
tell you....

It has been often feared that Shelley and Captain Williams would meet
with some accident, they were so hazardous; but when they set out on
the 8th, in the morning it was fine. Our dear friend was passionately
fond of the sea, and has been heard to say he should like it to be his


_Accepting an invitation_

5 York Buildings, 13 _March_ [1831].

MY DEAR MRS. PROCTER (for Madam, somehow, is
not the thing),

I am most pleased to be reminded of my promise, which I must have made
if you say I did. I suppose I have been coming to keep it ever since;
but it is a long road from sorrow to joy, and one is apt to get
confused on the road. Do you know your letter brought the tears into
my eyes? I hardly know why, unless it was that I saw Procter had been
pouring his kind heart into yours, and you said:--'We must have him
here instead of the coffee-house, and plant him by the fire, and warm
him like a stray bird till he sings.' But indeed a kind word affects
me where many a hard thump does not. Nevertheless, you must not tell
this, except to the very masculine or feminine; though if you do not
take it as a compliment to yourself,--I mean the confession of
my weakness,--why, you are not Procter's wife, nor Mrs. Montagu's
daughter, nor she who wrote the letter this morning to a poor battered

PS. I eat any plain joint, of the plainer order, beef or mutton:--and
you know I care for nothing at dinner, so that it does not hurt me.
Friends' company is the thing.


_Offence and punishment_

Wimbledon, 11 and 12 _August_, 1846.

... I find I made a great confusion of my _portion_ of the legal
expenses incurred by the _Examiner_, with the _whole_ of them. That
portion only amounted to L750, the whole being L1500. Of this L750 out
of my pocket (which was quite enough), L250 went to pay for
expenses (counsel, &c.) attendant on the _failure_ of two Government
prosecutions,--one for saying (_totidem verbis_) that 'of all monarchs
since the Revolution, the successor of George III would have the
finest opportunity of becoming nobly popular'; (think, nowadays,
of being prosecuted for _that_!) and the other for copying from the
_Stamford News_ the paragraph against military flogging, alluded to
the other day in the _Daily News_. (Think, now, this moment, of being
prosecuted for _That_!) The L500 fine and two years' imprisonment was
for ludicrously contrasting the _Morning Post's_ picture of the Regent
as an 'Adonis', &c. with the old and real fat state of the case, and
for adding that his Royal Highness had lived for 'upwards of half
a century without doing anything to deserve the admiration of his
contemporaries or the gratitude of posterity'. Words to that effect,
and I believe better,--but I do not quite remember them. They might be
easily ascertained by reference to Peel's Coffee-house, and the words
of the _Post_, too.

Besides the fine, my imprisonment cost me several hundred pounds (I
can't exactly say how many) in monstrous _douceurs_ to the gaoler
for _liberty to walk in the garden_, for help towards getting me
permission to fit up rooms in the sick hospital, and for fitting
up said rooms, or rather converting them from sorts of
washhouses, hitherto uninhabited and unfloored, into comfortable
apartments,--which I did too expensively,--at least as far as papering
the sitting-room with a trellis of roses went, and having my ceiling
painted to imitate an out-of-door sky. No notice, however, could
be taken, I suppose, of any of _this_ portion of the expenses,
governments having nothing to do with the secret corruptions of
gaolers or the pastorals of incarcerated poets: otherwise the
prosecutions cost me altogether a good bit beyond a thousand pounds.

But perhaps it might be mentioned that I went to prison from all but
a sick bed, having been just ordered by the physician _to go to the
seaside_, and _ride_ for the benefit of my health (pleasing dramatic
contrast to the _verdict_!). I also declined, as I told you, to try
avoiding the imprisonment by the help of Perry's offer of the famous
secret 'Book'; and I further declined (as I think I also told you)
to avail myself of an offer on the part of a royal agent (made, of
course, in the guarded, though obvious manner in which such offers are
conveyed), to drop the prosecution, provided we would agree to
drop all future hostile mention of the Regent. But of this, too,
governments could not be expected to take notice--perhaps would regard
it as an addition to the offence. This, however, I must add, that the
whole attack on the Regent was owing, not merely to the nonsense of
the _Post_, but to his violation of those promises of conceding the
Catholic claims, to which his princely word stood pledged. The subject
of the article was the '_Dinner on St. Patrick's day_'. All the Whig
world was indignant at that violation; so were the Irish, of course,
_vehemently_; and it was on the spur of this publicly indignant
movement that I wrote what I did,--as angrily and as much in earnest
in the serious part of what I said as I was derisive in the rest.
I did not care for any factious object, nor was I what is called
anti-monarchical. I didn't know Cobbett, or Henry Hunt, or any
demagogue, _even by sight_, except Sir Francis Burdett, and him
by sight alone. Nor did I ever see, or speak a word with them,
afterwards. I knew nothing, in fact, of politics themselves, except in
some of those large and, as it appeared to me, obvious phases, which,
at all events, _have since become obvious to most people_, and in
fighting for which (if a man can be said to fight for a 'phase'!) I
suffered all that Tories could inflict upon me,--by expenses in law
and calumnies in literature;--reform, Catholic claims, free
trade, abolition of flogging, right of free speech, as opposed by
attorneys-general. I was, in fact, all the while nothing but a poetic
student, appearing in politics once a week, but given up entirely to
letters almost all the rest of it, and loving nothing so much as a
book and a walk in the fields. I was precisely the sort of person, in
these respects, which I am at this moment. As to George the Fourth, I
aided, years afterwards, in publicly wishing him well--'years having
brought the philosophic mind'. I believe I even expressed regret at
not having given him the excuses due to all human beings (the passage,
I take it, is in the book which Colburn called _Lord Byron and his
Contemporaries_); _and when I consider that Moore has been pensioned,
not only in spite of all his libels on him, but perhaps by very reason
of their Whig partisanship, I should think it hard to be refused a
pension purely because I openly suffered for what I had earnestly
said_. I knew George the Fourth's physician, Sir William Knighton,
who had been mine before I was imprisoned (it was _not_ he who was the
royal agent alluded to); and, if my memory does not deceive me, Sir
William told me that George had been gratified by the book above
mentioned. Perhaps he had found out, by Sir William's help, that I was
not an ill-natured man, or one who could not outlive what was
mistaken in himself or resentful in others. As to my opinions about
Governments, the bad conduct of the Allies, and of Napoleon, and the
old Bourbons, certainly made them waver as to what might be ultimately
best, monarchy or republicanism; but they ended in favour of their
old predilections; and no man, for a long while, has been less a
republican than myself, monarchies and courts appearing to me salutary
for the good and graces of mankind, and Americanisms anything but
either. But nobody, I conceive, that knew my writings, or heard of me
truly from others, ever took me for a republican. William the Fourth
saw or heard nothing of me to hinder his letting Lord Melbourne give
me L200 out of the Royal Fund. Queen Victoria gave me another,
through the same kind friend. She also went twice to see my play; and
everybody knows how I praise and love her. _I do not think, therefore,
in reference to the pension, that the public would care twopence about
George the Fourth, one way or the other; or that if any remembered the
case at all, they would connect the pension in the least with anything
about him, but attribute it solely to the Queen's and Minister's
goodness, and the wants of a sincere and not undeserving man of
letters, distinguished for his loyal attachment_. I certainly think
the L500 fine ought not to have been taken out of my pocket, or the
other two L125 either; and I think also, that a liberal Whig minister
might reasonably and _privately_ think some compensation on those
accounts due to me. _I have been fighting his own fight from first to
last, and helping to prepare matters for his triumph_. But still the
above, in my opinion, is what the public would think of the matter,
_and my friends of the press could lay it entirely to the literary




_Travel in Portugal_

Lisbon, 16 _July_, 1809.

Thus far have we pursued our route, and seen all sorts of marvellous
sights, palaces, convents, &c.,--which, being to be heard in my friend
Hobhouse's forthcoming Book of Travels, I shall not anticipate by
smuggling any account whatsoever to you in a private and clandestine
manner. I must just observe, that the village of Cintra in Estremadura
is the most beautiful, perhaps, in the world.

I am very happy here, because I loves oranges, and talks bad Latin
to the monks, who understand it, as it is like their own,--and I goes
into society (with my pocket pistols), and I swims in the Tagus
all across at once, and I rides on an ass or a mule, and swears
Portuguese, and have got bites from the mosquitoes. But what of that?
Comfort must not be expected by folks that go a-pleasuring.

When the Portuguese are pertinacious, I say '_Carracho_!'--the
great oath of the grandees, that very well supplies the place of
'Damme!'--and when dissatisfied with my neighbour, I pronounce
him '_Ambra di merdo_'. With these two phrases, and a third,'_Avra
bouro_', which signifieth 'Get an ass', I am universally understood to
be a person of degree and a master of languages. How merrily we
lives that travellers be!--if we had food and raiment. But, in sober
sadness, anything is better than England, and I am infinitely amused
with my pilgrimage, as far as it has gone.

To-morrow we start to ride post near 400 miles as far as Gibraltar,
where we embark for Melita and Byzantium. A letter to Malta will find
me, or to be forwarded, if I am absent. Pray embrace the Drury and
Dwyer, and all the Ephesians you encounter. I am writing with Butler's
donative pencil, which makes my bad hand worse. Excuse illegibility.

Hodgson! send me the news, and the deaths and defeats and capital
crimes and the misfortunes of one's friends; and let us hear of
literary matters, and the controversies and the criticisms. All this
will be pleasant--'_Suave mari magno_, &c.' Talking of that, I have
been sea-sick, and sick of the sea. Adieu.


_Announces his engagement_

Newstead Abbey, 20 _Sept._ 1814.

Here's to her who long
Hath waked the poet's sigh!
The girl who gave to song
What gold could never buy.


I am going to be married--that is, I am accepted, and one usually
hopes the rest will follow. My mother of the Gracchi (that _are_ to
be), _you_ think too strait-laced for me, although the paragon of only
children, and invested with 'golden opinions of all sorts of men', and
full of 'most blest conditions' as Desdemona herself. Miss Milbanke
is the lady, and I have her father's invitation to proceed there in my
elect capacity,--which, however, I cannot do until I have settled some
business in London, and got a blue coat.

She is said to be an heiress, but of that I really know nothing
certainly, and shall not inquire. But I do know, that she has talents
and excellent qualities; and you will not deny her judgement, after
having refused six suitors and taken me.

Now, if you have anything to say against this, pray do; my mind's
made up, positively fixed, determined, and therefore I will listen to
reason, because now it can do no harm. Things may occur to break it
off, but I will hope not. In the meantime I tell you (a _secret_, by
the by,--at least till I know she wishes it to be public) that I have
proposed and am accepted. You need not be in a hurry to wish me joy,
for one mayn't be married for months. I am going to town to-morrow,
but expect to be here, on my way there, within a fortnight.

If this had not happened, I should have gone to Italy. In my way down,
perhaps you will meet me at Nottingham, and come over with me here.
I need not say that nothing will give me greater pleasure. I must, of
course, reform thoroughly; and, seriously, if I can contribute to
her happiness, I shall secure my own. She is so good a person
that--that--in short, I wish I was a better.


_No bid for sweet voices_

Venice, 6 _April_, 1819.

The second canto of Don Juan was sent, on Saturday last, by post, in
four packets, two of four, and two of three sheets each, containing
in all two hundred and seventeen stanzas, octave measure. But I will
permit no curtailments.... You shan't make _canticles_ of my cantos.
The poem will please, if it is lively; if it is stupid, it will fail;
but I will have none of your damned cutting and slashing. If you
please, you may publish _anonymously_; it will perhaps be better; but
I will battle my way against them all, like a porcupine.

So you and Mr. Foscolo, etc., want me to undertake what you call a
'great work'? an Epic Poem, I suppose or some such pyramid. I'll try
no such thing; I hate tasks. And then 'seven or eight years'! God send
us all well this day three months, let alone years. If one's years
can't be better employed than in sweating poesy, a man had better be a
ditcher. And works, too!--is _Childe Harold_ nothing? You have so many
'_divine_' poems, is it nothing to have written a _human_ one? without
any of your worn-out machinery. Why, man, I could have spun the
thoughts of the four cantos of that poem into twenty, had I wanted to
book-make, and its passion into as many modern tragedies. Since you
want _length_, you shall have enough of _Juan_, for I'll make fifty

Besides, I mean to write my best work in _Italian_, and it will take
me nine years more thoroughly to master the language; and then if my
fancy exist, and I exist too, I will try what I _can_ do _really_. As
to the estimation of the English which you talk of, let them
calculate what it is worth, before they insult me with their insolent

I have not written for their pleasure. If they are pleased, it is that
they chose to be so; I have never flattered their opinions, nor their
pride; nor will I. Neither will I make 'Ladies' books' '_al dilettar
le femine e la plebe_'. I have written from the fullness of my mind,
from passion, from impulse, from many motives, but not for their
'sweet voices'.

I know the precise worth of popular applause, for few scribblers have
had more of it; and if I chose to swerve into their paths, I could
retain it, or resume it. But I neither love ye, nor fear ye; and
though I buy with ye and sell with ye, and talk with ye, I will
neither eat with ye, drink with ye, nor pray with ye. They made me,
without my search, a species of popular idol; they, without reason or
judgement, beyond the caprice of their good pleasure, threw down the
image from its pedestal; it was not broken with the fall, and they
would, it seems, again replace it,--but they shall not.

You ask about my health: about the beginning of the year I was in a
state of great exhaustion ... and I was obliged to reform my 'way of
life', which was conducting me from the 'yellow leaf' to the ground,
with all deliberate speed. I am better in health and morals, and very
much yours, &c.--

PS. I have read Hodgson's '_Friends_'. He is right in defending Pope
against the bastard pelicans of the poetical winter day, who add
insult to their parricide, by sucking the blood of the parent of
English _real_ poetry,--poetry without fault,--and then spurning the
bosom which fed them.


_The cemetery at Bologna_

Bologna, 7 _June_, 1819.

... I have been picture-gazing this morning at the famous Domenichino
and Guido, both of which are superlative. I afterwards went to the
beautiful cemetery of Bologna, beyond the walls, and found, besides
the superb burial-ground, an original of a Custode, who reminded me
of the grave-digger in _Hamlet_. He has a collection of capuchins'
skulls, labelled on the forehead, and taking down one of them, said,
'This was Brother Desiderio Berro, who died at forty--one of my best
friends. I begged his head of his brethren after his decease, and they
gave it me. I put it in lime, and then boiled it. Here it is, teeth
and all, in excellent preservation. He was the merriest, cleverest
fellow I ever knew. Wherever he went, he brought joy; and whenever any
one was melancholy, the sight of him was enough to make him cheerful
again. He walked so actively, you might have taken him for a
dancer--he joked--he laughed--oh! he was such a Frate as I never saw
before, nor ever shall again!'

He told me that he had himself planted all the cypresses in the
cemetery; that he had the greatest attachment to them and to his dead
people; that since 1801 they had buried fifty-three thousand persons.
In showing some older monuments, there was that of a Roman girl of
twenty, with a bust by Bernini. She was a princess Bartorini, dead two
centuries ago: he said that, on opening her grave, they had found
her hair complete, and 'as yellow as gold'. Some of the epitaphs at
Ferrara pleased me more than the more splendid monuments at Bologna;
for instance:--

'_Martini Luigi
Implora pace.'
'Lucrezia Picini
Implora eterna quiete_.'

Can anything be more full of pathos? Those few words say all that can
be said or sought: the dead had had enough of life; all they wanted
was rest, and this they _implore_! There is all the helplessness,
and humble hope, and deathlike prayer, that can arise from the
grave--'_implora pace_'. I hope, whoever may survive me, and shall
see me put in the foreigners' burying-ground at the Lido, within the
fortress by the Adriatic, will see those two words, and no more, put
over me. I trust they won't think of 'pickling, and bringing me home
to Clod or Blunderbuss Hall'. I am sure my bones would not rest in
an English grave, or my clay mix with the earth of that country. I
believe the thought would drive me mad on my deathbed, could I suppose
that any of my friends would be base enough to convey my carcass back
to your soil. I would not even feed your worms, if I could help it.

So, as Shakespeare says of Mowbray, the banished Duke of Norfolk, who
died at Venice (see _Richard II_), that he, after fighting

Against black Pagans, Turks, and Saracens,
And toiled with works of war, retired himself
To Italy, and there, at _Venice_, gave
His body to that _pleasant_ country's earth,
And his pure soul unto his captain, Christ,
Under whose colours he had fought so long.

Before I left Venice, I had returned to you your late, and Mr.
Hobhouse's sheets of _Juan_. Don't wait for further answers from
me, but address yours to Venice, as usual. I know nothing of my own
movements; I may return there in a few days, or not for some time.
All this depends on circumstances. I left Mr. Hoppner very well....
My daughter Allegra was well too, and is growing pretty; her hair is
growing darker, and her eyes are blue. Her temper and her ways, Mr.
Hoppner says, are like mine, as well as her features: she will make,
in that case, a manageable young lady.

I have never heard anything of Ada, the little Electra of my
Mycenae.... But there will come a day of reckoning, even if I should
not live to see it.... What a long letter I have scribbled!

PS. Here, as in Greece, they strew flowers on the tombs. I saw a
quantity of rose-leaves, and entire roses, scattered over the graves
at Ferrara. It has the most pleasing effect you can imagine.


_In rebellious mood_

Bologna, 24 _Aug_. 1819.

I wrote to you by last post, enclosing a buffooning letter for
publication, addressed to the buffoon Roberts, who has thought proper
to tie a canister to his own tail. It was written off-hand, and in the
midst of circumstances not very favourable to facetiousness, so that
there may, perhaps, be more bitterness than enough for that sort of
small acid punch:--you will tell me. Keep the _anonymous_, in any
case: it helps what fun there may be. But if the matter grow serious
about _Don Juan_, and you feel _yourself_ in a scrape, or _me_ either,
_own that I am the author. I_ will never _shrink_, and if _you_ do,
I can always answer you in the question of Guatimozin to his
minister--each being on his own coals.

I wish that I had been in better spirits; but I am out of sorts, out
of nerves, and now and then (I begin to fear) out of my senses. All
this Italy has done for me, and not England: I defy all you, and your
climate to boot, to make me mad. But if ever I do really become a
Bedlamite, and wear a strait waistcoat, let me be brought back among
you: your people will then be proper company.

I assure you what I here say and feel has nothing to do with England,
either in a literary or personal point of view. All my present
pleasures or plagues are as Italian as the opera. And, after all, they
are but trifles; for all this arises from my 'Dama's' being in the
country for three days (at Capofiume). But as I could never live but
for one human being at a time (and, I assure you, _that one_ has never
been _myself_, as you may know by the consequences, for the _selfish_
are _successful_ in life), I feel alone and unhappy.

I have sent for my daughter from Venice, and I ride daily, and walk in
a garden, under a purple canopy of grapes, and sit by a fountain, and
talk with the gardener of his tools, which seem greater than Adam's,
and with his wife, and with his son's wife, who is the youngest of the
party, and, I think, talks best of the three. Then I revisit the Campo
Santo, and my old friend, the sexton, has two--but _one_ the prettiest
daughter imaginable; and I amuse myself with contrasting her beautiful
and innocent face of fifteen with the skulls with which he has peopled
several cells, and particularly with that of one skull, dated 1766,
which was once covered (the tradition goes) by the most lovely
features of Bologna--noble and rich. When I look at these, and at
this girl--when I think of what _they were_, and what she must be--why
then, my dear Murray, I won't shock you by saying what I think. It is
little matter what becomes of us 'bearded men', but I don't like the
notion of a beautiful woman's lasting less than a beautiful tree--than
her own picture--her own shadow, which won't change so to the sun
as her face to the mirror. I must leave off, for my head aches
consumedly. I have never been quite well since the night of the
representation of Alfieri's _Mirra_, a fortnight ago.


_A trio of poets_

Ravenna, 26 _April_, 1821.

The child continues doing well, and the accounts are regular and
favourable. It is gratifying to me that you and Mrs. Shelley do not
disapprove of the step which I have taken, which is merely temporary.

I am very sorry to hear what you say of Keats--is it _actually_ true?
I did not think criticism had been so killing. Though I differ from
you essentially in your estimate of his performances, I so much abhor
all unnecessary pain, that I would rather he had been seated on the
highest peak of Parnassus than have perished in such a manner. Poor
fellow! though with such inordinate self-love he would probably
have not been very happy. I read the review of _Endymion_ in the
_Quarterly_. It was severe,--but surely not so severe as many reviews
in that and other journals upon others.

I recollect the effect on me of the _Edinburgh_ on my first poem;
it was rage, and resistance, and redress--but not despondency nor
despair. I grant that those are not amiable feelings; but, in this
world of bustle and broil, and especially in the career of writing,
a man should calculate upon his powers of _resistance_ before he goes
into the arena.

Expect not life from pain nor danger free,
Nor deem the doom of man reserved for thee.

You know my opinion of _that second-hand_ school of poetry. You
also know my high opinion of your own poetry,--because it is of
_no_ school. I read _Cenci_--but, besides that I think the _subject_
essentially _un_ dramatic, I am not an admirer of our old dramatists,
_as models_. I deny that the English have hitherto had a drama at all.
Your _Cenci_, however, was a work of power, and poetry. As to _my_
drama, pray revenge yourself upon it, by being as free as I have been
with yours.

I have not yet got your _Prometheus_, which I long to see. I have
heard nothing of mine, and do not know that it is yet published. I
have published a pamphlet on the Pope controversy, which you will not
like. Had I known that Keats was dead--or that he was alive and so
sensitive--I should have omitted some remarks upon his poetry,
to which I was provoked by his _attack_ upon _Pope_, and my
disapprobation of _his own_ style of writing.

You want me to undertake a great poem--I have not the inclination nor
the power. As I grow older, the indifference--_not_ to life, for we
love it by instinct--but to the stimuli of life, increases. Besides,
this late failure of the Italians has latterly disappointed me for
many reasons,--some public, some personal. My respects to Mrs. S.

PS. Could not you and I contrive to meet this summer? Could not you
take a run here _alone_?


_A plain statement of facts_

Pisa, 17 _Nov_. 1821,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of 'Ada's hair', which is very soft
and pretty, and nearly as dark already as mine was at twelve years
old, if I may judge from what I recollect of some in Augusta's
possession, taken at that age. But it don't curl,--perhaps from its
being let grow.

I also thank you for the inscription of the date and name, and I will
tell you why;--I believe that they are the only two or three words of
your handwriting in my possession. For your letters I returned; and
except the two words, or rather the one word, 'Household', written
twice in an old account book, I have no other. I burnt your last
note, for two reasons:--firstly, it was written in a style not
very agreeable; and, secondly, I wished to take your word without
documents, which are the worldly resources of suspicious people.

I suppose that this note will reach you somewhere about Ada's
birthday--the 10th of December, I believe. She will then be six,
so that in about twelve more I shall have some chance of meeting
her;--perhaps sooner, if I am obliged to go to England by business
or otherwise. Recollect, however, one thing, either in distance or
nearness;--every day which keeps us asunder should, after so long a
period, rather soften our mutual feelings, which must always have one
rallying-point as long as our child exists, which I presume we both
hope will be long after either of her parents.

The time which has elapsed since the separation has been considerably
more than the whole brief period of our union, and the not much longer
one of our prior acquaintance. We both made a bitter mistake; but now
it is over, and irrevocably so. For, at thirty-three on my part, and a
few years less on yours, though it is no very extended period of life,
still it is one when the habits and thought are generally so formed as
to admit of no modification; and as we could not agree when younger,
we should with difficulty do so now.

I say all this, because I own to you, that, notwithstanding
everything, I considered our reunion as not impossible for more than
a year after the separation;--but then I gave up the hope entirely and
for ever. But this very impossibility of reunion seems to me at least
a reason why, on all the few points of discussion which can arise
between us, we should preserve the courtesies of life, and as much of
its kindness as people who are never to meet may preserve perhaps more
easily than nearer connexions. For my own part, I am violent, but not
malignant; for only fresh provocations can awaken my resentments. To
you, who are colder and more concentrated, I would just hint, that
you may sometimes mistake the depth of a cold anger for dignity, and a
worse feeling for duty. I assure you that I bear you _now_ (whatever
I may have done) no resentment whatever. Remember, that _if you have
injured me_ in aught, this forgiveness is something; and that, if I
have _injured you_, it is something more still, if it be true, as the
moralists say, that the most offending are the least forgiving.

Whether the offence has been solely on my side, or reciprocal, or on
yours chiefly, I have ceased to reflect upon any but two things,--viz.
that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never meet
again. I think if you also consider the two corresponding points with
reference to myself, it will be better for all three.


_Sympathy with the Greeks_

10 _March_, 1824.

Enclosed is an answer to Mr. Parruca's letter, and I hope that you
will assure him from me, that I have done and am doing all I can to
reunite the Greeks with the Greeks.

I am extremely obliged by your offer of your country-house (as for all
other kindness) in case that my health should require my removal; but
I cannot quit Greece while there is a chance of my being of any (even
supposed) utility:--there is a stake worth millions such as I am, and
while I can stand at all, I must stand by the cause. When I say this,
I am at the same time aware of the difficulties and dissensions and
defects of the Greeks themselves; but allowance must be made for them
by all reasonable people.

My chief, indeed _nine-tenths_ of my expenses here are solely in
advances to or on behalf of the Greeks, and objects connected with
their independence.

[_Enclosure, translated_]


10 _March_, 1824.

_Sir_,--I have the honour of answering your letter. My first wish has
always been to bring the Greeks to agree among themselves. I came here
by the invitation of the Greek Government, and I do not think that I
ought to abandon Roumelia for the Peloponnesus until that Government
shall desire it; and the more so, as this part is exposed in a greater


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