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"No," said he, “not even at Trieste. I hate despotism and the Goths too much. I have travelled little on the Continent, at least never gone out of my way. This is partly owing to the indolence of my disposition, partly owing to my incumbrances. I had some idea, when at Rome, of visiting Naples, but was at that time anxious to get back to Venice. But Pæstum cannot surpass the ruins of Agrigentum, which I saw by moonlight; nor Naples, Constantinople. You have no conception of the beauty of the twelve islands where the Turks have their country houses, or of the blue Symplegades against which the Bosphorus beats with such resistless violence.
“ Switzerland is a country I have been satisfied with seeing once; Turkey I could live in for ever.
I never forget my predilections. I was in a wretch• ed state of health, and worse spirits, when I was at
Geneva; but quiet and the lake, physicians better than Polidori, soon set me up. I never led so moral a life as during my residence in that country; but I gained no credit by it. Where there is a mortification, there ought to be reward. On the contrary, there is no story so absurd that they did not invent at my cost. I was watched by glasses on the opposite side of the Lake, and by glasses, too, that must have had very distorted optics. I was waylaid in my evening drives—I''was accused of corrupting all the grisettes in the Rue Basse. I believe that they looked upon me as a man-monster, worse than the piqueur.
“ Somebody possessed Madame de Stael with an opinion of my immorality. I used occasionally to visit her at Coppet; and once she invited me to a family-dinner, and I found the room full of strangers, who had come to stare at me as at some outlandish beast in a raree-show. One of the ladies fainted, and the rest looked as if his Satanic Majesty had been among them. Madame de Stael took the liberty to read me a lécture before this crowd, to which I only made her a low bow.
5 I knew very few of the Genevese. Hentsh was very civil to me; and I have a great respect for Sismondi. I was forced to return the civilities of one of their professors by asking him and an old gentleman, a friend of Gray's, to dine with me. I had gone out to sail early in the morning, and the wind prevented me from returning in time for dinner. I understand that I offended them mortally. Polidori did the honours.
“ Among our countrymen I made no new acquaintances; Shelley, Monk Lewis, and Hobhouse, were almost the only English people I saw. No wonder; I showed a distance for society at that time, and went little among the Genevese; besides, I could not speak French. What is become of my boatman and boat? I suppose she is rotten; she was never worth much. When I went the tour of the Lake in her with Shelley and Hobhouse, she was nearly wrecked near the very spot where St. Preux and Julia were in danger of being drowned. It would have been classical to have been lost there, but not so agreeable. Shelley was on the lake much oftener than I, at all hours of the night and day : he almost lived on it; his great rage is a boat. We are both building now at Genoa, I a yacht, and he an open boat."
We played at billiards till the carriage was announced, and I accompanied him in his drive. Soon after we got off the stones, we mounted our horses, which were waiting for us. Lord Byron is an admirable horseman, combining grace with the security of his seat. He prides himself much on this exercise. He conducted us for some miles, till we came to a farm-house, where he practises pistol-firing every evening. This is his favourite amusement, and may indeed be called almost a pursuit. He always has pistols in his holster, and eight or ten pair, by the first makers in London, carried by his courier. We had each twelve rounds of ammunition, and in a diameter of four inches he put eleven out of twelve shots. I observed his hand shook exceedingly. He said that when he first began at Manton's he was the worst shot in the world, and Manton was perhaps the best. The subject turned upon duelling, and he contended for its necessity, and quoted some strong arguments in favour of it.
“I have been concerned,” said he, “in many duels as second, but only in two as principal; one was with Hobhouse before I became intimate with him. The best marksmen at a target are not the surest in the field. Cecil's and Stackpoole’s affair proved this. They fought after a quarrel of three years, during which they were practising daily. Stackpoole was so good a shot that he used to cut off the heads of the fowls for dinner as they drank out of the coops about. He had every wish to kill his antagonist, but he received his death-blow from Cecil, who fired rather fine, or rather was the quickest shot of the two. All he said when falling was, D i t, have I missed him?' Shelley is
a much better shot than I am, but he is thinking of -metaphysics rather than of firing."
I understand that Lord Byron is always in better spirits after having culped (as he calls it) the targe often, or hit a five-franc piece, the counterpart of which is always given to the farmer, who is making a little fortune. All the pieces struck, Lord Byron keeps to put, as he says, in his museum.
• We now continued our ride, and returned to Pisa · by the Lucca gate.
“Pisa, with its hanging tower and Sophia-like dome, reminds me,” said Lord Byron, “ of an eastern place.” : He then remarked the heavy smoke that rolled away from the city, spreading in the distance a vale of mist, through which the golden clouds of evening appeared. : “ It is fine," said Lord Byron," but no sunsets are to be compared with those of Venice. They are too gorgeous for any painter, and defy any poet. My rides, 'indeed, would have been nothing without the Venetian sunsets. Ask Shelley.”
“ Stand on the marble bridge,” said Shelley, cast your eye, if you are not dazzled, on its river glowing as with fire, then follow the graceful curve of the palaces on the Lung' Arno till the arch is naved by the massy dungeon-tower, (erroneously called Ugolino's,) forming in dark relief, and tell me if any thing can surpass a sunset at Pisa."
The history of one, is that of almost every day. It
is impossible to conceive a more unvaried life than Lord Byron led at this period. I continued to visit him at the same hour daily. Billiards, conversation, or reading, filled up the intervals till it was time to take our evening drive, ride, and pistol-practice. On our return, which was always in the same direction, we frequently met the Countess Guiccioli, with whom he stopped to converse a few minutes.
He dined at half an hour after sunset, (at twentyfour o'clock,) then drove to Count Gamba's, the Countess Guiccioli's father, passed several hours in her society, returned to his palace, and either read or wrote till two or three in the morning; occasionally drinking spirits diluted with water as a medicine, from a dread of a nephritic complaint, to which he was, or fancied himself, subject. Such was his life at Pisa.
The Countess Guiccioli is twenty-three years of age, though she appears no more than seventeen or eighteen. Unlike most of the Italian women, her complexion is delicately fair. Her eyes, large, dark, and languishing, are shaded by the longest eyelashes in the world ; and her hair, which is ungathered on her head, plays over her falling shoulders in a profusion of natural ringlets of the darkest auburn. Her figure is, perhaps, too much embonpoint for her height, but her bust is perfect; her features want little of possessing a Grecian regularity of outline; and she has the most beautiful mouth and teeth imaginable. It is impossible to see without admiring to hear the Guiccioli speak without being fascinated. Her amiability and gentleness show themselves in every intonation of her voice, which, and the music of her perfect Italian, give a peculiar charm to every