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workmanship, and spiritual in conception, is to be appreciated by an intuitive sense, that gives a true perception of the sublime and beautiful; “it is to be felt, and not reasoned upon.”
In the galleries of the Louvre, she sickens of the “cant of criticism,” she turns away from the connoisseurs, “ to meditate in silence on what others can talk about, but cannot comprebend."
“Here Claude Lorraine seems to have imprisoned on canvas the golden sunshine in which he bathes his landscapes. There Raphael makes us, though stern Protestants, worship a Madonna and child, such is the innocence, sweetness, and beauty with which he has imbued his subjects.”
Poor Lady Blessington's "stern Protestantism” is lugged in head and shoulders, into a criticism which really stood in no need of the intrusion of any religious opinions. Her faith in Raphael's perfections required no apology. In qualifying her admiration of the exquisite portraiture of innocence, sweetness, and beauty of the Virgin and child, it must have been rather painful to her (not a Protestant) to have to descend to the cant of criticism, which was so justly odious to her.
While the fair Countess was absorbed in art, and occupied with the sublime and beautiful, in the most glorious works of the ancient masters, in the Louvre, and the gallery of Versailles, my Lord was securing the services of the culinary artist of great celebrity, already referred to, who had been the cook of an Emperor, and providing a complete equipage of a cooking kind, en ambulance, for their Italian tour.
After a sojourn of twelve days in Paris, the Blessingtons and their party set out for Switzerland.
The customary pilgrimages were made to Ferney, the many shrines at the base of Mount Jura, on the borders of the lake of Geneva, the birthplace and haunts of Rousseau, the homes for a time of Gibbon, Shelley, Byron, and de Stäel, then the place of abode of John Philip Kemble, and a little later-his place of burial, in the cemetery of Lausanne. Several days were spent in visiting monuments and other marvels of Lyons, Vienne, Grenoble, Valence, Orange, and on the 20th of November they arrived at Avignon. Here they remained till the 12th of February, 1823, mixing a good deal in the fashionable circles of the town and its environs, making frequent excursions to the celebrated fountain of Vaucluse, the site of the Chateau of Laura, and visiting that of her tomb, in the ruins of the Church of the Cordeliers, those of the Palace of the Popes, and the Inquisition with all its horrors. Lady Blessington speaks of the repugnance, the feelings of “a native of dear, free, happy England,” at the sight of such a place, and in the heat of her abhorrence of the crimes committed in it, fancies herself a native of England.
In her diary of the 20th of December, Lady Blessington says, " Spent last evening at Madame de C.'s; met there the Duc and Duchesse de C--G-- Madame was dame d'honneur to Marie Louise, and has all the air and manner of one accustomed to find herself at home in a court." The persons indicated by the initials C- G
- were the Duc and Duchesse de Caderousse Grammont, who then resided in their chateau in the vicinity of Avignon. But no mention is made of any other member of their family in the Avignon society of the Blessingtons, yet there was one who was an object of some interest to the party.
After a prolonged stay of two months and upwards, at Avignon, Lady Blessington says in her diary, “It is strange how soon one becomes habituated to a place. I really feel as much at home at Avignon, as if I had spent years there."
On the 12th of February, 1823, Lady Blessington and her party, increased by a young Frenchman of a noble family, previously known in England, lately met with in Paris, and subsequently at Valence and Avignon, now a compagnon de
voyage, set out for Italy, via Marseilles, Toulon, and Nice; and on the 31st of March, they arrived at Genoa.
In the diary of that day, the uppermost thought in Lady Blessington's mind, is thus recorded :-“ And am I indeed in the same town with Byron! And to-morrow I may perhaps behold him!”
There are two works of Lady Blessington's, “ the Idler in Italy,”* and “the Idler in France,”+ in which an account is given of her tours, and her observations on the society, manners, scenery, and marvels of all kinds of the several places she visited and sojourned in.
* The Idler in Italy, in 3 vols. 8vo., was published in 1839, and is descriptive of her visit to Paris, and sojourn there from the 1st of September to the 12th of the same month, 1822 ; her route through Switzerland, and tour in Italy, extended over a period of five years, the greater portion of which was spent in Naples.
† The Idler in France, subsequently published, is descriptive of her residence in Paris for a period of two years and a half, from the autumn of 1828 to the end of November, 1830, when she returned to England.
In her manuscript memoranda and commonplace-books, there are also frequent references to persons whom she had met with in her travels, and observations on places she had visited, several of which are almost identical with passages in “ the Idlers.”
BYRON AND THE BLESSINGTONS AT GENOA.
The 1st of April, 1823, Lady Blessington's strong desire was gratified-she saw Byron. But the lady was
But the lady was disappointed, and there is reason to believe that the lord, always indisposed abroad to make new acquaintances with his countrymen or women, was, on the occasion of this interview, taken by surprise, and not so highly gratified by it as might have been expected, when the agrèmens and personal attractions of the lady are taken into consideration.
Lady Blessington's expression of disappointment has a tincture of asperity in it, which is seldom indeed to be found in her observations. There are very evident appearances of annoyance of some kind or another in the account given by her of this interview, occasioned either by the reception given her by Byron, or at some eccentricity, or absence of mind, that was unexpected, or apparent want of homage on his part, to her beauty or talents on this occasion, to which custom had habituated her.
It must also be observed, that the interview with her Ladyship is described as having been sought by Lord Byron. It is more than probable, however, a little ruse was practised on his Lordship to obtain it. Lord Blessington having been admitted at once, on presenting himself at Byron's door, was on the point of taking his departure, apologizing for the briefness of the visit, on account of Lady Blessington being left in an open carriage in the court-yard, the rain then falling, when Byron immediately insisted on descending with Lord Blessington, and conducting her Ladyship into his house.
“When we arrived,” says Lady Blessington, " at the gate of the court-yard of the Casa Saluzzo, in the village o Albano, * where he resides, Lord Blessington and a gentleman of our party left the carriage, and sent in their names.t They were admitted immediately, and experienced a very cordial reception from Lord Byron, who expressed himself delighted to see his old acquaintance. Byron requested to be presented to me; which led to Lord Blessington's avowing that I was in the carriage at the gate, with my sister, Byron immediately hurried out into the court, and I, who heard the sound of steps, looked through the gate, and beheld him approaching quickly towards the carriage without his hat, and considerably in advance of the other two gentlemen.”
The visit was a long one: and many questions were asked about old friends and acquaintances. Lady Blessington says, Byron expressed warmly, at their departure, the pleasure which the visit had afforded him- and she doubted not his sincerity; not that she would arrogate any merit in her party, to account for his satisfaction; but simply because she could perceive that Byron liked to hear news of his old associates, and to pass them en revue, pronouncing sarcasms on each as he turned up in conversation,
In a previous notice of this interview, which bears somo internal evidence of having been written long after the period it refers to-lamenting over the disappointment she felt at finding her beau ideal of a poet by no means realized, her
# About a mile and a half from Genoa.-R. R. M.
+ The gentleman's name will be found in a letter of Byron to Moore, dated 2nd April, 1823.