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'But the moment the coast is clear, I will be as good as my word, and land you at St. Jago.' I groaned again. The man was moved.
'1 would, I could do so sooner,' he continued; 'but you see by how precarious a tenure I hold my control over these people; therefore I must be cautious for your sake as well as my own, or they would make little of murdering both of us, especially as the fellow who would have cut your throat this morning, has many friends amongst them; above all 1 dare not leave them for any purpose for some days. I must recover my seat, in which, by the necessary severity you witnessed, I have been somewhat shaken. So good-by ; there is cold meat in that locker, and some claret to wash it down with. Don't, I again warn you, venture out during the afternoon or night. I will be with you betimes in the morning. So good-by so long. Your col, you see, is ready slung.'
He turned to depart, when, as if recollecting himself, he stooped down, and taking hold of a ring, he lifted up a trap-door, from which there was a ladder leading down to the capstan-house.
'I had forgotten this entrance; it will be more convenient for me in my visits.'
In my heart I believe he intended this as a hint, that I should escape through the hole at some quiet opportunity; and he was descending the ladder, when he stopped and looked round, greatly mortified, as it struck me.
'I forgot to mention that a sentry has been placed, I don't know by whose orders, at the foot of the ladder, to whom I must give orders to fire at you, if you venture to descend. You see how the land lies; I can't help it.'
This was spoken in a low tone, then aloud—' There are books on that shelf Iwhind the canvass screen ; if you cao settle to them, they may amuse you.'
He left me, and I sat down disconsolate enough. I found some Spanish books, and a volume of Lord Byron's poetry, containing the first canto of Childe Harold, two Numbers of Blackwood, with several other English books and magazines, the names of the owners on all of them being earefully erased.
But there was nothing else that indicated the marauding life of friend Obediab, whose apartment I conjectured was now my prison, if 1 except a pretty extensive assortment of arms, pistols, and cutlasses, and a range of massive cases, with iron clamps, which were ranged along one side of the room. I paid my respects to the provender and claret; the hashed chicken was particularly good; bones rnther large or so, but flesh white and delicate. Had I known that I was dining upon a guana, or large wood lizard, I scarcely think I would have made so hearty a meal. Long cork, No. 2, followed ditto, No. 1 ; and as the shades of evening, us poets say, began to fall by the time 1 had finished it, I toppled quietly into my cot, said my prayers such as they were, and fell asleep.
( To be continued.)
JOURNAL OF CONVERSATIONS WITH LORD BYRON, BY THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON. NO. 1.
Nor set down aught in malice."
'.' Our readers will recollect those letters in the second volume of Moore's Byron,
addressed to Lady B , which confer such additional value on that work. The
whole of the journal, in which those letters, given by Lady B to Mr. Moore,
were entered, (and which journal was never shown to Mr. Moore, nor indeed till now confided to any one,) is in our hands, and will appear, from time to time, in the New Monthly, till concluded. It is full of the most varied interest, and we believe that it will be found to convey at least as natural and unexaggerated an account of Lord Byron's character as lias yet been presented to the public. For the opinions on men and things professed by Lord Byron, neither ourselves nor the narrator can, of course, be answerable. His character and his mind ought to be public property, and every sound judgment must allow that we have no right to follow our inclination alone in the omission of passages that may hurt the vanity of individuals. Papers of this sort are a trust not for individuals—but for the public—if there is complaisance on the one hand, there is justice on the other: if it be desirable that Byron's real opinions should be known, we are not to stifle them because they ore severe, or because they are erroneous. As about no manwas there more juggling mystification, so about no man ought there now to be plainer truth-telling. To clip—to garble—to conceal his sentiments upon others —unless with almost religious caution—is in reality to disguise his character— and again to delude the world.
Genoa, April 1st, 1823.—Saw Lord Byron for the first time. The impression of the first few minutes disappointed me, as I had, both from the portraits and descriptions given, conceived a different idea of him. I had fancied him taller, with a more dignified and commanding air; and I looked in vain for the hero-looking sort of person with whom I had'so long identified him in imagination. His appearance is, however, highly prepossessing ; his head is finely shaped, and the forehead open, high, and noble: his eyes are grey and full of expression, but one is visibly larger than the other; the nose is large and well shaped, but from being a little too thick, it looks better in profile than in front-face: his mouth is the most remarkable feature in his face, the upper lip of Grecian shortness, and the corners descending; the lips full, and finely cut. In speaking, he shows his teeth very much, and they are white and even; but I observed that even in his smile—and he smiles frequently—there is something of a scornful expression in his mouth that is evidently natural, and not, as many suppose, affected. This particularly struck me. His chin is large and well shaped, and finishes well the oval of his face. He is extremely thin, indeed so much so, that his figure has almost a boyish air; his face is peculiarly pale, but not the paleness of ill-health, as its character is that of fairness, the fairness of a dark-haired person —and his hair (which is getting rapidly grey) is of a very dark brown, and curls naturally: he uses a good deal of oil in it, which makes it ook still darker. His countenance is full of expression, and changes with the subject of conversation ; it gains on the beholder the more it is seen, and leaves an agreeable impression. 1 should say that melancholy was its prevailing character, as I observed that when any observation elicited a smile—and they were many, as the conversation was gay and playful—it appeared to linger but for a moment on his lip, which instantly resumed its former expression of seriousness. His whole appearance is remarkably gentlemanlike, and he owes nothing of this to his toilette, as his coat appears to have been many years made, is much too large—and all his garments convey the idea of having been purchased ready-made, so ill do they fit him. There is a gaucherie in his movements, which evidently proceeds from the perpetual consciousness of his lameness, thai appears to haunt him; for he tries to conceal his foot when seated, and when walking, has a nervous rapidity in his manner. He is very slightly lame, and the deformity of his foot is so little remarkable that I am not now aware which foot it is. His voice and accent are peculiarly agreeable, but effeminate —clear, harmonious, and so distinct, that though his general tone in speaking is rather low than high, not a word is lost. His manners are as unlike my pre-conceived notions of them as is his appearance. I had expected to find him atdignified, cold, reserved, and haughty person, resembling those mysterious personages he so loves to paint in his works, and with whom he has been so often identified by the goodnatured world : but nothing can be more different; for were I to point out the prominent defect of Lord Byron, I should say it was flippancy, and a total want of that natural self-possession and dignity which ought to characterise a man of hirth and education.
Albaro, the village in which the Casa Saluzzo, where he lives, is situated, is about a mile and a half distant from Genoa; it is a fine old chateau, commanding an extensive view, and with spacious apartments, the front looking into a court-yard and the back into the garden. The room in which Lord Byron received us was large, and plainly furnished. A small portrait of his daughter Ada, with an engraved portrait of himself, taken from one of his works, struck my eye. Observing that I remarked that of his daughter. nc took it down, and seemed much gratified when I discovered the strong resemblance it bore to him. Whilst holding it in hi» hand, he said, 'I am told she is clever—I h^pe not; and above »X, I hope she is not poetical; the price paid for such advantages(, »f advantages they be, is such as to make me pray that my child 'nay escape them.'
The conversation during our first inierview was chiefly about our mutual English friends, some of when he spoke of with kind interest. T. Moore, D. Kinnaird, and Mr. C. Ellice were among those whom he most distinguished. lie e.*p^sse(l himself greatly annoyed by the number of travelling Engtoa who pestered him with visits, the greater part of whom he had never known, or was but slightly acquainted with, which obliged nim to refuse receiving any but those he particularly wished to <«e; 'But,' added he, smiling, ' they avenge themselves by atta"*'ng me in every sort of way, and there is no story too improbable for the craving appetites of our slander-loving countrymen."
Before taking leave, he proposed paying us a visit next day; and he handed me into the carriage with many flattering expressions of the pleasure our visit had procured him.
April 2nd.—We had scarcely finished our dejeune d la fourchette this day, when Lord Byron was announced : he sent up two printed cards, in an envelope addressed to us, and soon followed them. He appeared still more gay and cheerful than the day before—made various inquiries about all our mutual friends in England—spoke of them with affectionate interest, mixed with a badinage in which none of their defects weife spared; indeed candor obliges me to own that their little defects seemed to have made a deeper impression on his mind than their good qualities (though he allowed all the latter) by the gusto with which he entered into them.
He talked of our mutual friend Moore, and of his 'Lalla Rookh,' which, he said, though very beautiful, had disappointed him, adding, that Moore would go down to posterity by his Melodies, which were all perfect. He said that he had never been so much affected as on hearing Moore sing some of them, particularly 'When first I met Thee,' which, he said, made him shed tears: 'But,' added he with a look full of archness, 'it was after I had drunk a certain portion of very potent white brandy.' As he laid a peculiar stress on the word affected, I smiled, and the sequel of the white brandy made me smile again: he asked me the cause, and I answered that his observation reminded me of the story of a lady offering her condolence to a poor Irish woman on the death of her child, who stated that she had never been more affected than on the event; the poor woman, knowing the hollowness of the compliment, answered with all the quickness of her country, 'Sure, then, Ma'am, that is saying a great deal, for you were always affected.' Lord Byron laughed, and said my apropos was very wicked—but I maintained it was very just. He spoke much more warmly of Moore's social attractions as a companion, which he said were unrivalled, than i,f his merits as a poet.
- He offered to be our cicerone in pointing out all the pretty drives and rides abou Genoa; recommeded riding as the only means of seeing the country, nrany of the fine points of view being inaccessible, except on horseback , and he praised Genoa on account of the rare advantage it possessed ol living so few English, either as inhahitants or hirds of passage.
I was this day again struck by the flippancy of his manner of talking of persons for whom I know expresses, nay, for whom, I believe, he feels a regard. Something .,f this must have shown itself in my manner, for he laughingly observe* that he was afraid he should lose my good opinion by his frankness; utx that when the fit was on him he could not help saying what he thought, though he often repented it when too late.
He talked of Mr. , from whom he had received a visit the day
before, praised his looks, and the insinuating gentleness of his manners, which, he observed, lent a peculiar charm to the little tales he repeated: he said that he had given him more London scandal than he had heard since he left England: observed that he had quite talent enough to render his malice very piquant and amusing, and that his imitations were admirable. 'How can his mother do without him 1' said Byron; 'with his espihglerie and malice, he must be an invaluable coadjutor; and Venus without Cupid could not be more delaissee than Milady without this her legitimate son.'
He said that he had formerly felt very partial to Mr. ;his
face was so handsome, and his countenance so ingenuous, that it was impossible not to be prepossessed in his favor; added to which, one hoped that the son of such a father could never entirely degenerate: he has, however degenerated sadly, but as he is yet young he may improve; though, to see a person of his age and sex so devoted to gossip and scandal, is rather discouraging to those who are interested in his welfare.
He talked of Lord ;praised his urbanity, his talents, and acquirements; but, above all, his sweetness of temper and good-nature.
'Indeed I do love Lord ,' said Byron, 'though the pity I
feel for his domestic thraldom has something in it akin to contempt. Poor dear man! he is sadly bullied by Milady; and, what is worst of all, half her tyranny is used on the plea of kindness and taking care of his health. Hang such kindness! say I. She is certainly the most imperious, dictatorial person I know—is always cn Heine; which, by the bye, in her peculiar position, shows tact, for she suspects that were she to quit the throne she might be driven to the antichamber; however, with all her faults, she is not vindictive—as a proof she never extended her favor to me until after the little episode respecting her in 'English Bards ;' nay more, I suspect I owe her friendship to it. Rogers persuaded me to suppress the passage
in the other editions. After all, Lady has one merit, and a
great one in my eyes, which is, that in this age of cant and humbug, and in a country—I mean our own dear England—where the cant of Virtue is the order of the day, she has contrived, without any great semblance of it, merely by force of—shall I call it impudence or courage ?—not only to get herself into society, but absolutely to give the law to her own circle. She passes, also, for being clever; this, perhaps owing to my dulness, 1 never discovered, except that she has a way, en Reine, of asking questions that show some reading. The first dispute 1 ever had with Lady Byron was caused by my urging her to visit Lady ;and, what is odd enough,' laughing with hitterness, 'our first and last difference was caused by two very worthless women.'
Observing that we appeared surprised at the extraordinary frankness, to call it by no harsher name, with which he talked of his ci-devant friends, he added :—' Don't think the worse of me for