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“My poor boy!" said the venerable man, who had called upon him the first for an explanation ;—“My poor boy !-God, in his mercy, grant you may not be like the pigeon who fed with the crows—'tis ill to be seen with public sinners.”
Maurice knelt and prayed by the murdered body of the aged woman, who, though she had seen his faults, and desired that her grand-child should wear, as she poetically called it,—“the crown but not the cross," had still loved him with extraordinary affection. The workings of superstition were mingled in the minds of those who murdered the captain and a portion of the crew of the Petrel, with a desire of revenge against Old Granny-whose charms and spells they had purchased—though, according to their thinking, they had worked to them for evil, not good; doubtless, the poor sibyl relied upon her influence over them, or she would not have ventured to their cavern, though ignorant of the crime they had committed. One of the ruffians turned king's evidence, and thus, if need had been, Maurice's innocence was fully confirmed. He was not likely to forget the dangers arising from bad company, though Anty was too deeply affected by the death of Old Granny, to marry until another “Holly-eve” had passed; and there was gloom and heaviness, instead of mirth and festivity, for many a year, when time brought round the last night of October, and renewed the memory of its horrors !
Between Featherd and the dark fort of Duncannon there is a smooth and sandy portion of strand, called “ Dollar Bay,” in memory of murders so similar to those I have recorded, that I am led to believe both stories the same. The bay smiled in the sunshine when I last passed it, but it brought the fate of “Old Granny”fully to my remembrance; and I was assured by some of the recorders of old tales, that cart-loads of dollars were found buried in the sands, as Maurice described, and removed to Wexford by order of the government; that the mutineers and murderers of the Petrel suffered the punishment due to their crime, on the cliffs of“ Dollar Bay.”
EPISTLE TO HORACE SMITH, FROM ALGIERS.
DEAR HORACE, be melted to tears;
For I'm melting with heat as I rhyme ;-
'Tis no joke to be caught in its clime.
To an African inn I ascend;
Where a Barber alone is my friend.
Of this wonderful city to sing ?
But no muse of the Helicon's spring.
Of a people all diverse in hue:
Whilst I, in my sorrow, look blue.
Here are groups for the painter to take,
Whose figures jocosely combine, The Arah, disguised in his haik*,
And the Frenchman, disguised in his wine. In his breeches, of petticoat size,
You may say, as the Mussulman goes, That his garb is a fair compromise
'Twixt a kilt and a pair of small-clothes. The Mooresses, shrouded in white,
Save two holes for their eyes that give room, Seem like corpses in sport or in spite,
That have slily whipp'd out of the tomb.
If I were the Devil, I declare,
In my service, to ride through the air.
My hippogriff's course I must rein For the pain of my thirst is no sham,
Though I'm bawling aloud for Champagne. Dinner 's brought; but their wines have no pith,
They are flat as the Statutes at Law; And for all that they bring, my dear Smith,
Would a glass of brown stout they could draw. O'er each French trashy dish as I bend,
My heart feels a patriot's grief ;
When I think on a round of thy beef.
British beer.—Hail! Britannia, hail ! To thy flag on the foam of the waves,
And the foam on thy flaggons of ale. Yet I own, in this hour of my drought,
A dessert has most welcomely come; There are peaches that melt in the mouth,
And grapes blue and big as a plum. There are melons, too, luscious and great ;
But the slices I eat shall be few;
Melon-cholic effects might ensue.
Though my letter bears date, as you view,
* A mantle worn by the natives.
CONVERSATIONS OF AN AMERICAN WITH LORD BYRON.
DURING Lord Byron's stay at Florence, it fell in my way to visit that city in the course of an Italian tour. I had but newly arrived from the Western world, and was ignorant of bis Lordship's residence there. I was returning one afternoon from a walk along the road that leads from the Porta San Gallo up the Pian di Mugnone, when I remarked an individual sauntering, with a somewhat irregular gait, along the stony bed of the torrent that rushes down the Mugnone in the rainy season. He seemed to be amusing himself with picking up pebbles, and now and then chucking them into the water that brawled in a shallow stream along its stony bed. A servant on horseback, holding another horse by the bridle, was waiting his movements upon the road that wound along the banks of the torrent. It was some days afterwards that I discovered that this individual was Lord Byron ; but as I, of course, made no conjecture of this at the moment, the poet escaped a regular stare, and I took no further notice of him than was comprised in a glance or two. His occupation of poking among the pebbles recalled to my mind the adventure of the foolish Calandrino on the same spot, so amusingly told by Boccaccio, in his narrative of the tricks of the two wags Bruno and Buffalmaco. I paid this unknown individual the compliment of imagining that he might be somebody quite as foolish as the unlucky wight aforementioned, and though a subsequent discovery showed that a greater than Calandrino was here, yet I am hy no means certain that the noble bard, “the great Napoleon of the realms of rhyme," did not practise a search through life after a phantom, to the full as tantalising and fruitless as Calandrino's hunt after the invisible stone.
-“ unfound the boon, unslaked the thirst,
Yet all in vain." Once or twice after this, I chanced to encounter him on the same route, and heard him characterised by the peasants as a Milor Inglese, which appellation, however, they bestow upon any travelling Saunders or Tomkins, who goes a cavallo and gives himself airs. I never noticed him in the Cascine, which is the regular fashionable drive and promepade, and lies at the opposite extremity of the city: it is an extensive park, and filled every afternoon with crowds of people, particularly of the foreign residents. This, however, was probably the chief reason for his avoiding the spot, in that unsocial humour towards his own countrymen which is so distinguishing a mark in the history of his foreign residence and travels. As a poet, however, he might be excused for resorting to the environs of the Porta San Gallo rather than to the Cascine, for there are reasons that justify the preference. The Cascine is a level extent of regular artificial walks and alleys, like the Tuileries and the Champs Elysées, with a prospect about as circumscribed. The Contorni of the Porta San Gallo present a more cheerful diversity of landscape, with variegations of surface, and the most ravishing sunset views of the hill of Fiesole, and the mountains toward the north. The walks, too, in this quarter are little frequented on ordinary occasions, and Byron was
never less alone than when alone.”
Having learnt, at length, that the great poet was a dweller in the city, I naturally felt a strong desire of obtaining an introduction to one whose literary fame then pervaded all Europe, and was no less widely extended in the remote hemisphere of the West. But there was no getting access to hin—so they said-he was snug as an oyster, and not to be approached without a special letter of introduction. Letters of introduction, I must add, are my abhorrence; I have been something of a traveller, and gone up and down through various sorts of business, and, upon my word, cannot recollect a single instance where a letter of introduction did me any good; at the present day, if I ever take one from a friend whom it would be uncivil to disregard, I commonly light my cigar with it, and introduce myself, I always find it answer ;-but this en passant. Byron, they said, would see no Englishman; I was an Englishman in language, though not in nationality, and imagined his Angliphobia extended no less to Jonathan than to John Bull. At first, therefore, I was led to think it a useless endeavour to seek an interview with the haughty Childe, but was presently informed by an individual somewhat familiar with his habits, that he was not at all shy of the Americans. I therefore lost no time in dispatching him a note, soliciting the honour of paying him my respects in person, to which I received a very polite reply, stating that he would be happy to see me to-morrow afternoon. This invitation, I need not say, was punctually complied with.
I was at that time but a youth, and had no object in view in seeking his
company beyond the common purposes of a young man on his rambles. Byron too was young; no one foresaw the abrupt termination that cut short his splendid career. Nothing was more distant, therefore, from my thoughts than the project of bringing away and booking his conversation, or the minutiæ of his dress, behaviour, habitation, &c., which become objects of so much curious interest to the world after the death of a celebrated man, but which it is not the best taste to obtrude upon the public during his lifetime. My recollections, therefore, of the several matters which occupy this paper, have become a trifle weakened during the space that has intervened between that day and the present; yet the novelty—to me-of the thing, and that strong interest which attaches to everything connected with so extraordinary a personage, produced so deep and abiding an impression, that the substance, generally, of the conversation that passed between us, remains in my recollection as strongly as ever; though the language, of course, may not be altogether a literal transcript.
Lord Byron lived then in a street in the rear of the church of Santa Maria Annunziata. A large garden at present intervenes between the house he occupied and the Palazzo Ximenes. It is a pleasant and very retired spot, with extensive and delightful views toward the north. He received me with great affability, and began chatting upon all sorts of subjects, asking twenty questions in a breath. I was a good deal surprised at the first sight of him,-first, on discovering that he was the person I had seen on a former occasion, and whom, in my fancy, I had set down as a decided nobody-certainly not for a poet;- secondly, on remarking the total difference between the real Byron and all the portraits of him I had ever beheld. The likeness seemed to be drawn from the “ Corsair,” “ Lara,” or “Harold,” frowning, supercilious, disdainful
thing; but here was an ordinary-looking man, who, if he was not short and thick, was at least shortish and thickish ; and whose countenance had good humour to recommend it, but which in spite of a certain regularity of features, I could not think remarkably handsome. Of his dress I remember but little ; only his shirt collar was not turned down as in the portraits, and his pantaloons were strapped close over the feet, the lame one drawn up a little out of sight, which I understand was his usual practice.
I began a formal apology for the liberty I had taken with him, and hinted a conjecture that he was already annoyed by too frequent visits, but he cut me short by a laugh, and ran on in a very sarcastic way about the travelling English. I have been strongly induced to believe that the dislike which he affected to feel for his own countrymen was a mere crotchet, whatever his hostility towards individuals might have been. Why write volume after volume to gain the admiration of a people whom he hated or despised ? In fact, he no more hated his countrymen in a body than he hated his title, which, in like manner, he pretended at times to hold in disesteem ; but the affectation of singularity gets into wiser heads sometimes than people are aware of. However, be this as it will, I had no reason to complain of any coolness of demeanour in his intercourse with me. “I am extremely partial,” said he, “ to the Americans; and if I enjoy any reputation among them, I can rely upon it as arising from an unbiassed judgment. They can have, of course, no original predilections for a titled personage, and the praise they bestow upon me must be sincere. I remember reading in the biography of George Frederic Cooke an extract from his journal, wherein he mentioned having seen the ' English Bards and Scotch Reviewers' lying on the table of a public-house somewhere in the interior of the United States. This was the first thing that sounded in my ears like real fame." I set this down at the time for a mere compliment, yet, after all, the circumstance, trifling as it was, may have been the foundation of that friendly bias toward the country which displays itself in many passages of his writings. I am aware at the same time that, in some published volume of his conversations, he is reported as saying, that be was never sincere in his praises of the Americans; but as this assertion, according to the same authority, was uttered in a moment of ill humour, occasioned by an attack upon him from some American writer, the insincerity is quite as likely to belong to the denial.
Lord Byron conversed with great readiness, but not at all in a sermonizing, bookish way. He skipped from one subject to another, broke off into digressions, left things half said, was often incoherent, sometimes ungrammatical, and now and then, in spite of his readiness at an idea, was at a loss for a word to express a very simple thing. What he uttered was, in a thousand instances, better said than if it had been coolly elaborated by study, yet it was no more than the prompting of the instant. We talked in a rambling style for some time, in the course of which he grew more cheerful than he appeared to be at first. His countenance struck me as susceptible of a great variety of expression, and his smile was in the highest degree engaging, although the habitual expression of his countenance, when not under the excitement of talk, was rather sombre than lively. I complimented him upon his good spirits, in which he allowed I had judged correctly, as he had not for