Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tifully situated on the bastion of the Capuchins. The view from the garden is extensive and varied, and I cannot imagine a more delicious abode for passing a summer's day than the pavilion offers, which boasts among its numerous attractions one that is always irresistible to me, a fine collection of well-chosen English books. Colonel M. is very unfavourably impressed towards Lord Byron ; but this repugnance is not unnatural, he having entertained a strong sentiment of regard and esteem for Lady Byron during many years. All those who like her think themselves bound to dislike her lord, and vice versa: but, for my part, I cannot partake this dislike; for although I feel disposed to think much better of this wayward child of genius than most people do, I have not the least prejudice against his wife; nay, on the contrary, although I never saw, I respect her. All that I have observed in him, and I have narrowly watched every indication of his character, leads me to infer, that he is a man with whom a high-minded woman would have found it difficult to live happily after the fervour of his passion was abated. Byron has a fault which peculiarly unfits him for constituting the happiness of such a woman as I imagine Lady Byron to be; and that is, a want of perception of the sensitive feelings of others, and a consequent natural inconsiderateness with regard to them. He is capable of grievously wounding such a person perfectly unconsciously; and, of course, of even afterwards neglecting to pour oil and wine into the wound, not through ill nature, but from sheer ignorance of its existence. This negligence towards the feelings of others proceeds from a too in

tense attention to his own, and is precisely the defect which a woman is least likely to overlook.

I endeavoured to make Colonel M. think less harshly of Byron, and I hope I have succeeded in the attempt. However, to ascertain the exact meritoriousness of this action, the time and place of its performance ought to be taken into account; for it occurred during the steepest ascent of the very steep bastion on which M. de Negri's pretty garden stands, and the consequence was, that I talked myself completely out of breath in finding excuses for the poet.

If people would but consider how possible it is to inflict pain and perpetrate wrong, without any positive intention of doing either, but merely from circumstances arising through inadvertence, want of sympathy, or an incapability of mutual comprehension, how much acrimony might be spared!! Half the quarrels that embitter wedded life, and half the separations that spring from them, are produced by the parties misunderstanding each other's peculiarities, and not studying and making allowance for them. Hence unintentional omissions of attention are viewed as intended slights, and as such are resented; these indications of resentment for an unknown offence

appear an injury to the unconscious offender, who in turn widens the breach of affection by some display of petulance or indifference, that not unfrequently irritates the first wound inflicted, until it becomes incurable. In this manner often arises the final separation of persons who might, had they more accurately examined each other's hearts and dispositions, have lived happily together.

29th.— Rode out with Byron. His pale face flushed crimson when one of our party inadvertently mentioned that Colonel M. was at Genoa. He tried in various ways to discover whether Colonel M. had spoken ill of him to us; and displayed an ingenuity in putting his questions that would have been amusing had it not betrayed the morbid sensibility of his mind. He was restless and unequal in his manner, being at one moment cold and sarcastic, and at the next cordial and easy as usual. He at length confessed to me that knowing Colonel M. to be not only a friend, but a bigotted partisan of Lady Byron's, and as such, an implacable enemy of his, he expected that he would endeavour to prejudice us against him, and finally succeed in depriving him of our friendship. This it was, he acknowledged, that had produced the change in his manner on hearing of the Colonel's arrival at Genoa. Byron has experienced the facility with which professed friends can, in adversity, be weaned from those who counted on their adherence, and dreads again being exposed to the mortification such vacillating conduct can inflict. Apropos , to this, he dwelt with bitter scorn on the desertion of many summer friends, when, on his separation from Lady Byron, their allegiance might have soothed him under, if it did not shield him from, the obloquy attempted to be heaped on his head by those who, envious of his literary fame and jealous of the homage it received, armed themselves with an affected zeal in her cause, and a hypocritical pretence of morality, to decry and insult him. He still writhes beneath the recollection ; for the mobility of his nature is such, that he can recal past scenes of annoyance with all the vividness of the actual present, and again suffer nearly as much as when they occurred. It is strange that time, and distance from the scenes of his mortifications, have not taught him to despise their inflictors, or to reflect on them with no warmer sentiment than contemptuous

But no, the wounds still rankle, and he adds hatred to contempt; by doing which he confers, in my opinion, much too great an honour on his enemies.

pity!

30th.—Byron came last evening to drink tea with us, in fulfilment of a half-promise which he made when we parted before dinner. He wa

He was gay and animated, and recounted many amusing anecdotes connected with his London life, to which he is fond of recurring. He tells a story remarkably well, mimics the manner of the

he describes very successfully, and has a true comic vein when he is disposed to indulge in it. To see him at such moments, who would take him for the inspired and misanthropic poet, whose lucubrations have formed an epoch in the literature of his country, and have been received with enthusiastic admiration throughout the Continent ? Could some of the persons who believe him to be their friend, hear with what unction he mimics their peculiarities, unfolds their secrets, displays their defects, and ridicules their vanity, they would not feel gratified by, though they must acknowledge the skill of their dissector; who, by the accuracy of his remarks and imitations, proves that he has studied his subjects con

persons

amore.

May 1st.- Took a long ride with Byron and Count Pietro Gamba. The latter has promised to lend me “ The Age of Bronze," a copy of which Byron has just received, but prohibited me from speaking of it to him, as he said Byron did not wish it to be named. How unaccountable to make a mystery of a published book, which has been for some weeks in every one's hands in England! Probably the interdiction was uttered in one of those moments of irritation to which the poet is subject. He makes no concealment about the work he at present has in hand, a continuation of Don Juan, of which he speaks without any reserve. He says, that as people have chosen to identify him with his heroes, and make him responsible for their sins, he will make Don Juan end by becoming a Methodist ; a metamorphosis that cannot, he thinks, fail to conciliate the good opinion of the religious persons in England, who have vilified its author.

Went to the Opera, and was disappointed by the coup-d'oil the theatre presented; the want of light throwing a gloom over all but the proscenium, which I must admit gains by the obscurity of the rest of the house. It is impossible to distinguish the faces of any of the ladies in the boxes, so that the handsome and the ugly are equally unseen, and no belle can be here accused of going to the Opera to display her charms : an accusation not unfrequently preferred against beauties in London and Paris, where the theatres are so brilliantly lighted. The boxes at the Opera House here are fitted up according to the tastes of the owners. They are, for the most part, simply furnished with plain silk curtains ; and it is not uncommon for ladies

« ZurückWeiter »