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family (which was true) approved it. I was not prepared to find the father and brother living in the same house; but taking the national manners into consideration, and differing very considerably with the notions entertained respecting the intercourse of the sexes in more countries than one, I was prepared to treat with respect what I conceived to be founded in serious feelings; and saw, even in that arrangement, something which, though it startled my English habits at first, seemed to be a still farther warrant of innocence of intention, and exception to general rules. It is true, that when the Pope sanctioned her separation from her husband, he stipulated that she should live with her father; and as the separation took place on account of the connexion with Lord Byron, the nullification of the ediet in thus adhering to the letter and violating the spirit of it, may have had an ill look in a Catholic country. But times are altered in that matter; and what enabled me the better to have a good opinion of the arrangement, was the conclusion I came to respecting the dispositions of the old Count and his son, both very natural and amiable persons, with great simplicity of manners, and such a patriotic regard for their country, as had not only committed their reputation for wisdom in the eyes of the selfish, but got them into real trouble, and driven them into banishment. And I am of opinion to this day, that they considered their conduct, in warranting the intimacy in question, not only to be justifiable but laudable; advantageous to the habits of a man, of whose acquaintance they felt proud; and perhaps even as making some amends to the lady, for the connexion which it superseded. The family came from Ravenna. The people in that quarter are more simple and unsophisticate than in the more frequented parts of Italy; worse perhaps where they are bad, that is to say, more gross and violent; but better (at least in the northern sense of the word) where they are good-something more allied to the northern character and to the Germans. The women are apt to be fair, and to have fair tresses, as the lady in question had. The men also are of lighter complexions than is usual in Italy. The old Count had the look of an English country gentleman, with a paternal gossiping manner, and apparently no sort of pride. The young one, who has since been known and esteemed in England, and
is an enthusiast and active partisan in the cause of Greece, was equally pleasing in his manners and evinced great interest in all that regarded the progress of freedom and knowledge. He would ask, with all the zest of an Eng lishman, what was doing by Lord Castlereagh and the House of Commons; and when I apologized to him for running on in my bad Italian, would reassure me with the best grace in the world, and say it was delightful to him to converse with me, for I gave him “ hope." The Italians are very kind to bad speakers of their languagegi! and ought to shame us in that matter. I confess, I can never hear a foreigner speak bad English without such a tendency to laugh as puts me to the torture; whereas I have never known an Italian's gravity disturbed by the most ludicrous mistakes, but in one instance, and then it was the idea and not the word that discommoded him. I have known them even repeat your mistakes with an unconscious look, as if they were proper'expressions. IT remember walking once with my young acquaintance, Luigi Gianetti, of Pisa, all the way from Florence to Maiano, and holding a long ethical discourse on the superiority of the good clever man” to the “ bad clever man, ” in the course of which I must have uttered a thousand malapropisms, not one of which did he give me a sense of by a smile.
But to return to the Gambas. The way in which the connexion between the young Countess and Lord Byron had originated, and was sanctioned, was, I thought, clear enough: but unfortunately, it soon became equally clear, that there was no real love on either side. The lady, I believe, was not unsusceptible of a real attachment, and most undoubtedly she was desirous that Lord Byron should cultivate it, and make her as proud and as affectionate as she was anxious to be. But to hear her talk of him, she must have pretty soon discerned, that this was impossible: and the manner of her talking rendered it more than doubtful whether she had ever loved, or could love him, to the extent that she supposed. I believe she would have taken great pride in the noble Bard, if he would have let her; and remained a faithful and affectionate companion as long as he pleased to have her
SO; but this depended more on his treatment of her, and still more on the way in which he conducted him
self towards others, than on any positive qualities of his own. On the other hand, he was alternately vexed and gratified by her jealousies. His regard being founded solely on her person, and not surviving in the shape of a considerate tenderness, had so degenerated in a short space of time, that if you were startled to hear the lady complain of him as she did, and that too with comparative strangers, you were shocked at the license which he would allow his criticisms on her. The truth is, as I have said before, that he had never known any thing of love but the animal passion. His poetry had given this "its gracefuler aspect, when young:---he could believe in the passion of Romeo and Juliet. But the moment he thought he had attained to years of discretion, what with the help of bad companions, and a sense of his own merits for want of comparisons to check it, he had made the wise and blessed discovery, that women might love himself though he could not return the passion; and that
all women's love, the very best of it, was nothing but Nvanity. To be able to love a quality for its own sake,
exclusive of any reaction upon one's self-love, seemed a thing that never entered his head. If at any time, therefore, he ceased to love a woman's person, and found leisure to detect in her the vanities natural to a flattered
beauty, he set no bounds to the light and coarse way in which he would speak of her. There was coarseness in the way in which he would talk to women, even when he was in his best humour with them. I do not mean on the side of voluptuousness, which is rather an excess than a coarseness; the latter being an impertinence, which is the reverse of the former. I have seen him call their attention to circumstances, which made you wish yourself a hundred miles off. They were connected with any thing but the graces with which a poet would encircle his Venus. He said to me once of a friend of his, that he had been spoilt by reading Swift. He himself had certainly not escaped the infection.
What completed the distress of this connexion, with respect to the parties themselves, was his want of generosity in money-matters. The lady was independent of him, and disinterested; and he seemed resolved that she should have every mode but one, of proving that she could remain so. I will not repeat what was said and la
mented on this subject. I would not say any thing about
Lord Byron painted his heroes criminal, wilful,
From the dilemma into which I thus found myself thrown, I was relieved by a very trivial circumstance. My wife knew nothing of Italian, and did not care to learn it. Madame Guiccioli could not speak English. They were subsequently introduced to one another during a chance meeting, but that was all. No proposition was made for an intimacy on either side, and the families remained separate. This, however, was perhaps the first local cause of the diminished cordiality of intercourse between Lord Byron and myself. He had been told, what was very true, that Mrs. Hunt, though living in all respects after the fashion of an English wife, was any thing but illiberal with regard to others; yet he saw her taking no steps for a far
ther intimacy. He learnt, what was equally true, that she was destitute, to a remarkable degree, of all care about rank and titles. She had been used to live in a world of her own, and was, and is, I really believe, absolutely unimpressible in that respect. It is possible, that her inexperience of any mode of life but her own, may have rendered her somewhat jealous in behalf of it, and not willing to be brought into comparison with pretensions, the defects of which she is acute to discern; but her indifference to the nominal and conventional part of their importance is unaffectedly real; and it partakes of that sense of the ludicrous, which is so natural to persons to whom they are of no consequence, and so provoking to those who regard them otherwise. Finally, Lord Byron, who was as acute as a woman in those respects, very speedily discerned that he did not stand very high in her good graces; and accordingly he set her down to a very humble rank in his own. As I oftener went to his part of the house, than he came to mine, he seldom saw her; and when he did, the conversation was awkward on his side, and provokingly self-possessed on hers. He said to her one day, “ What do you think, Mrs. Hunt? Trelawney has been speaking against my morals! What do you think of that!"-" It is the first time," said Mrs. Hunt, “I ever heard of them." This, which would have set a man of address upon his wit, completely dashed, and reduced him to silence. But her greatest offence was in something which I had occasion to tell him. He was very bitter one day upon some friends of mine, criticising even their personal appearance, and that in no good taste. At the same time, he was affecting to be very pleasant and good-humoured, and without any "offence in the world. All this provoked me to mortify him, and I asked if he knew what Mrs. Hunt had said one day to the Shelleys of his picture by Harlowe? (It is the fastidious, scornful portrait of him, affectedly looking down.) He said he did not, and was curious to know. An engraving of it, I told him, was shown her, and her opinion asked; upon which she observed, that “it resembled a great school-boy, who had had a plain bun given him, instead of a plum one. I did not add, that our friends shook with laughter at this idea of the noble original, because it was so like him.”
He looked as blank as possible, and never again criticised the personal