« PoprzedniaDalej »
He had, pre
ashamed of his weakness, endeavoured to turn off attention from it by some ironical remark, spoken with a sort of hysterical laugh, upon the effects of nervousness. vious to this conversation, presented to each of the party some little farewell gift-a book to one, a print from his bust by Bartolini to another, and to Lady Blessington a copy of his Armenian Grammar, which had some manuscript remarks of his own on the leaves. In now parting with her, having begged, as a memorial, some trifle which she had worn, the lady gave him one of her rings; in return for which, he took a pin from his breast, containing a small cameo of Napoleon, which he said had long been his companion, and presented it to her Ladyship. The next, day Lady Blessington received from him the following note:
“Albaro, June 2, 1823. ""MY DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,
“I am superstitious, and have recollected that memorials with a point are of less fortunate augury: I will, therefore, request you to accept, instead of the pin, the enclosed chain, which is of so slight a value that you need not hesitate. As you wished for something worn, I can only say that it has been worn oftener and longer than the other. It is of Venetian manufacture, and the only peculiarity about it is, that it could only be obtained at or from Venice. At Genoa, they have none of the same kind. I also enclose a ring, which I would wish Alfred to keep ; it is too large to wear ; but it is formed of lava, and so far adapted to the fire of his years and character. You will perhaps have the goodness to acknowledge the receipt of this note, and send back the pin (for good luck's sake), which I shall value much more, for having been a night in your custody.
“• Ever faithfully your obliged, &c. “P.S.-I hope your nerves are well to-day, and will continue to flourish.''
Some fourteen years only had elapsed since that criticism appeared in the Edinburgh Review, on his (Byron's) juvenile
poems, which began with these words—“The poesy of this young Lord belongs to the class which neither gods nor men are said to tolerate."
And in the interval between the date of the publication of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” in 1809, and that of the visit of the Blessingtons to Genoa in June 1823, and his departure for Greece a little later, the poesy of the young Lord manifested to the world that it belonged to a class, which all the powers of criticism could not decry or crush. A few months only had elapsed since Byron parted with Lady Blessington, and bade adieu to Italy—and the career of the was near its close in Greece.
Lady Blessington's feelings of regard for Byron's memory, were by no means such as might have been expected.
Perhaps the same observation might be made with respect to Moore's.
Campbell's sentiments in relation to the fame of a brother bard, who had only recently been a living rival, were those, which some who knew him well, always feared they would prove; they were something more than merely cold and unkindlythey were passionately inimical. At a period when most other literary men, who ever had any acquaintance with Byron, or sympathy with his literary pursuits, would have avoided entering into a controversy, and espousing the views of his opponents, Campbell with avidity seized an opportunity of rushing into print to wound the memory of one whose reputation fame during his life-time he might not with impunity have assailed.
Lord Byron's yacht, “ the Bolivar," was purchased by Lord Blessington, previously to his departure from Genoa, and it was subsequently considered by Lady Blessington that the poet drove a hard bargain with her husband.
Medwin, however, as a proof of Byron's lavish and inconside
rate expenditure, and his incongruity of action in regard to money matters, states that he gave £1000 for a yacht, which he sold for £300, and yet refused to give the sailors their jackets.
The 2nd of June, 1823, the Blessingtons set out from Genoa for Naples, via Lucca, Florence, Vienna, and Rome; took their departure from the Eternal City the 13th of the same month, and arrived at Naples on the 17th.
THE CITY AND BAY OF NAPLES. THE BLESSINGTONS AND
THEIR SOCIETY IN NAPLES. JUNE, 1823, TO FEBRUARY, 1826.
JUNE 2nd (1823), the Blessingtons left Genoa, and passed through Lucca, where they stayed a few days, and arrived in Florence on the 8th of the same month. Here they remained till the 1st of July. Lady Blessington spent her whole time visiting monuments of antiquity, churches, galleries, villas, and palaces, associated with great names and memories. In no city of Italy did she find her thoughts carried back to the past so forcibly as at Florence. A thousand recollections of the olden time of the merchant princes, the Medici, and the Pazzi, of all the factions of the republio, the Neri and Bianchi, the Guelphs and Ghibellines, recurred to memory in her various visits to the different localities of celebrity in the noble city, the grandeur and beauty of which far surpassed her expectations. After a sojourn of about three weeks in Florence, the party set out for Rome. On the 5th of July, the first view of the Eternal City burst on the pilgrims from St. James's Square.
As they entered the city, the lone mother of dead empires, all appeared wrapt in silent solemnity, not wanting, however, in sublimity. “ Even the distant solitude of the Cainpagna, says Lady Blessington, “ was not divested of the latter. But in the evening the Corso was crowded with showy equipages, occupied by gaily dressed ladies, and thronged with cavaliers on prancing steeds riding past them. Nothing could surpass the gaiety of the evening scene, or contrast more strangely with the gloom of the morning aspect of the sombre suburbs.”
The mournful contemplations awakened by the ruins of ancient Rome, are frequently spoken of by Lady Blessington.
I cannot help thinking they were of too mournful a character for her Ladyship to make that city of the dead, of shattered thrones and temples, of shrines and sepulchres, a place of abode congenial to her feelings, tastes, and predilections.
The Eternal City and its everlasting monuments appear to have made less impression on the mind of Lady Blessington, than might have been expected by those acquainted with her refined tastes and literary acquirements.
The gloom of the sombre monumental city seemed oppressive to her spirits; the solemn aspect of the sites of places renowned of old, and those sermons in stones, of crumbling monuments, and all the remaining vestiges of a people, and their idols of long past ages, speaking to the inmost soul of decay and destructibility, were not in accordance with her turn of mind, and her natural taste for objects and scenery that exhilarated the senses, and communicated joyousness to every faculty. Naples, in Lady Blessington's opinion, and not Rome, was the appropriate locality for an elysium that was to last for ever, and for any sojourn of English tourists of haut ton, that was intended to be prolonged for the enjoyment of Italian skies and sunshine, scenery, and society.
On the 14th of July, nine days after her arrival in Rome, Lady Blessington writes in her diary, “Left Rome yesterday, driven from it by oppressive heat, and the evil prophecies dinned into my ears of the malaria. I have no fears of the effect of either for myself, but I dare not risk them for others.”
There were other circumstances besides those referred to,