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  • 1888
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[Then follows a quantity of details about the party politics of the day. And then he continues:–]

“Such a contested election with us costs about 2,000_l._ to 3,000_l._ I must say I never spent money with more regret than this; but I had to maintain the party interest and my family influence in my electoral district. I have there a fine old castle and a splendid park, but I rarely go to the country, since I have jumped, as you know, once more into the whirlpool of politics, and can’t get out again. An agrarian communistic agitation has been initiated, I do not know whether with or without the sanction of S—-, but certainly it has spread rapidly over a great portion of the country, and I doubt whether Government has the energy for putting that agitation down. It is a very serious question, especially as it finds us engaged in many other questions of the highest interest.

[Then he gives an outline of the position of Hungary in relation to other States, and then he continues:–]

“We remain still in opposition with the Wallachians, or, as they now like to call themselves, Rumanes, and we try to maintain the peace with Prussia. And now when we should concentrate all our forces to meet the changes which threaten us, a stupid and wicked Opposition divides the nation into two hostile camps [how very singular and unexampled!]. We fight one another to the great pleasure of Russia and Prussia, who enjoy our fratricidal feuds as the Romans in the amphitheatre enjoyed the fights of the barbarians in the arena.

“I must beg your pardon, dear Mrs. Trollope, that I grow so pathetic! You know it is not my custom when I am with ladies. But you must know likewise that I live now outside of female society. I do not exactly know whether it is my fault or that of the ladies of Pesth; so much is certain that only at Vienna, where I go from time to time, I call upon ladies. As to my children, Augustus, whom you scarcely know, is a volunteer in the army according to our law of universal conscription. Charles you may have seen at Florence. I sent him thither to visit his grandmother.” [Madame Walter, the mother of Madame Pulszky; the lady who had received us with such pleasant hospitality at Vienna, and who had come to reside at Florence, where she lived to a great age much liked and respected.] “Polixena gets handsome and clever; little Garibaldi is to go to school in September next. I grow old, discontented, insupportable;” [we found him at Pesth many years afterwards no one of the three!]; “a journey to Greece and Italy would certainly do me immense good; but I fear I must give up that plan for the present year, since after a contested election it is a serious thing to spend money for amusement. In June I shall leave my present lodging and go to the Museum, which stands in a handsome square opposite to the House of Parliament. Excuse me for my long, long talk; and do not forget your faithful friend, _in partibus infidelium_,


* * * * *

On the 26th of March, 1870, he writes a letter which was brought to us by his son, the Augustus mentioned in the letter I have just transcribed.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR MRS. AND MR. TROLLOPE,–Detained by Parliamentary duties and the management of my own affairs, I am still unable to make a trip to Italy to visit my friends, who made the time of my exile more agreeable to me than my own country. But I send in my stead a second edition of the old Pulszky, revised and corrected _ad usum Delphini_, though I do not doubt that you prefer the old book, to which you were accustomed. My son Augustus has now finished his studies, and is D.E.L.–in a few days Lieutenant in the reserve, and Secretary at the Ministry of Finance. Few young men begin their career in a more promising way. As to myself, Augustus will tell you more than I could write. I have remained too long in foreign countries to feel entirely at home at Pesth, where people know how to make use of everybody. I am M.P., belong to the Finance Committee, am Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the Delegation, Director of the Museum, Chairman of the Philological Section in the Academy of Sciences, Chairman of the Society of Fine Arts, Vice-President of three Insurance Offices, and Member of the Council of two railroads. This long list proves sufficiently that my time is taken up from early morning to night. But my health is good, despite of the continuous wear and tear.

“During the summer vacations I wish to go to England. For ten years I have not been there; and I long to see again a highly civilised people; else I become myself a barbarian. Still I am proud of my Hungarians, who really struggle hard, and not without success, to be more than they are now–the first of the barbarians.

“I have for a long time not heard of you. Of course, in our correspondence your letter was the last, not mine. It is my own fault. But you must excuse me still for one year. Then I hope I can put myself in a more comfortable position. For the present I am unable even to read anything but Hungarian papers, bills, reports, and business letters. I envy you in your elegant villa, where you enjoy life! I hope you are both well, and do not forget your old friend,


“P.S.–Augustus will give you a good photograph of me.”

* * * * *

Here is one other letter of the 13th June, 1872:–

* * * * *

“MY DEAR TROLLOPE,–What a pity that my time does not allow me to visit Italy at any other season than just in summer. We are in the midst of our canvass for the general elections. My son Augustus is to be returned for my old place Szecseny without opposition on the 21st. On the following day we go to the poll at Gyoengyoes, a borough which is to send me to Parliament. It is a contested election, therefore rather troublesome and expensive, though not too expensive. Parliament meets with us on the first of September. Thus my holidays are in July and August. Shall we never have the pleasure to see you and Mrs. Trollope, to whom I beg you to give my best regards, here at Pesth? Next year is the great exhibition at Vienna. Might it not induce you to visit Vienna, whence by an afternoon trip you come to Pesth, where I know you would amuse yourselves to your hearts’ content.

“My children are quite well. Charles is at the University at Vienna. He despises politics, and wants to become Professor at the University of Pesth in ten or twelve years.

“As to me I am well, very busy; much attacked by the Opposition since I am a dreaded party man. Besides I have to re-organise the National Museum, from the library, which has no catalogue, to the great collections of mineralogy and plants. We bought the splendid picture gallery of Prince Esterhazy. This too is under my direction, with a most important collection of prints and drawings. You see, therefore, that my time is fully occupied.

“Yours always,


* * * * *

My wife and I did subsequently visit our old friend at Pesth, and much enjoyed our brief stay there and our chat of old times. But the work of re-organising the Museum was not yet completed. I do sincerely hope that the task has been brought to an end by this time, and that I may either in England or at Pesth once again see Franz Pulszky in the flesh!


According to the pathetic, and on the face of it accurately truthful, account of the close of his life in Mr. Forster’s admirable and most graphic life of him, I never knew Landor. For the more than octogenarian old man whom I knew at Florence was clearly not the Landor whom England had known and admired for so many and such honoured years. Of all the painful story of the regrettable circumstances which caused him to seek his last home in Florence it would be mere impertinence in me to speak, after the lucid, and at the same time delicately-touched, account of them which his biographer has given.

I may say, however, that even after the many years of his absence from Florence there still lingered a traditional remembrance of him–a sort of Landor legend–which made all us Anglo-Florentines of those days very sure, that however blamable his conduct (with reference to the very partially understood story of the circumstances that caused him to leave England) may have been in the eyes of lawyers or of moralists, the motives and feelings that had actuated him must have been generous and chivalrous. Had we been told that, finding a brick wall in a place where he thought no wall should be, he had forthwith proceeded to batter it down with his head, though it was not his wall but another’s, we should have recognised in the report the Landor of the myths that remained among us concerning him. But that while in any degree _compos mentis_ he had under whatever provocation acted in a base, or cowardly, or mean, or underhand manner, was, we considered, wholly impossible.

There were various legendary stories current in Florence in those days of his doings in the olden time. Once–so said the tradition–he knocked a man down in the street, was brought before the _delegato_, as the police magistrate was called, and promptly fined one piastre, value about four and sixpence; whereupon he threw a sequin (two piastres) down upon the table and said that it was unnecessary to give him any change, inasmuch as he purposed knocking the man down again as soon as he left the court. We, _poteri_, as regarded the date of the story, were all convinced that the true verdict in the matter was that of the old Cornish jury, “Sarved un right.”

Landor, as I remember him, was a handsome-looking old man, very much more so, I think, than he could have been as a young man, to judge by the portrait prefixed to Mr. Forster’s volumes. He was a man of somewhat leonine aspect as regards the general appearance and expression of the head and face, which accorded well with the large and massive build of the figure, and to which a superbly curling white beard added not only picturesqueness, but a certain nobility.

Landor had been acquainted with the Garrows, and with my first wife at Torquay; and the acquaintance was quickly renewed during his last years at Florence. He would frequently come to our house in the Piazza dell’ Independenza, and chat for a while, generally after he had sat silent for some little time; for he used to appear fatigued by his walk. Later, when his walks and his visits had come to an end, I used often to visit him in “the little house under the wall of the city, directly back of the Carmine, in a bye-street called the Via Nunziatina, not far from that in which the Casa Guidi stands,” which Mr. Forster thus describes. I continued these visits, always short, till very near the close; for whether merely from the perfect courtesy which was a part of his nature, or whether because such interruptions of the long morning hours were really welcome to him, he never allowed me to leave him without bidding me come again.

I remember him asking me after my mother at one of the latest of these visits. I told him that she was fairly well, was not suffering, but that she was becoming very deaf. “Dead, is she?” he cried, for he had heard me imperfectly, “I wish I was! I can’t sleep,” he added, “but I very soon shall, soundly too, and all the twenty-four hours round.” I used often to find him reading one of the novels of his old friend G.P.R. James, and he hardly ever failed to remark that he was a “woonderful” writer; for so he pronounced the word, which was rather a favourite one with him.

It was a singular thing that Landor always dropped his aspirates. He was, I think, the only man in his position in life whom I ever heard do so. That a man who was not only by birth a gentleman, but was by genius and culture–and such culture!–very much more, should do this, seemed to me an incomprehensible thing. I do not think he ever introduced the aspirate where it was not needed, but he habitually spoke of ‘and, ‘ead, and ‘ouse.

Even very near the close, when he seemed past caring for anything, the old volcanic fire still lived beneath its ashes, and any word which touched even gently any of his favourite and habitual modes of thought was sure to bring forth a reply uttered with a vivacity of manner quite startling from a man who the moment before had seemed scarcely alive to what you were saying to him. To what extent this old volcanic fire still burned may be estimated from a story which was then current in Florence. The circumstances were related to me in a manner that seemed to me to render it impossible to doubt the truth of them. But I did not _see_ the incident in question, and therefore cannot assert that it took place. The attendance provided for him by the kindly care of Mr. Browning, as narrated by Mr. Forster, was most assiduous and exact, as I had many opportunities of observing. But one day when he had finished his dinner, thinking that the servant did not come to remove the things so promptly as she ought to have done, he took the four corners of the table-cloth (so goes the story), and thus enveloping everything that was on the table, threw the whole out of the window.

I received many notes from Landor, for the most part on trifling occasions, and possessing little interest. They were interesting, however, to the race of autograph collectors, and they have all been coaxed out of me at different times, save one. I have, however, in my possession several letters from him to my father-in-law, Mr. Garrow, many passages in which are so characteristic that I am sure my readers will thank me for giving them, as I am about to do. The one letter of his that remains to me is, as the reader will see, not altogether without value as a trait of character. The young lady spoken of in it is the same from whose papers in the _Atlantic Monthly_, entitled “Last Days of Walter Savage Landor,” Mr. Forster has gleaned, as he says, one or two additional glimpses of him in his last Florence home. The letter is without date, and runs as follows:–

* * * * *

“MY DEAR SIR,–Let me confess to you that I am not very willing that it should be believed desirous” [he evidently meant to write either ‘that I should be believed desirous,’ or ‘that it should be believed that I am desirous’] “of scattering my image indiscriminately over the land. On this sentiment I forbade Mr. Forster to prefix an engraving of me over my collected works. If Miss Field wishes _one_ more photograph, Mr. Alinari may send it to her, and I enclose the money to pay for it. With every good wish for your glory and prosperity,

“I remain, my dear sir,

“Very truly yours,


* * * * *

The writing is that of a sadly shaking hand. The lady’s request would unquestionably have been more sure of a favourable response had she preferred it in person, instead of doing so through me. But I suspect from the phrase “one more,” and the underlining of the word one, that she had already received from him more than one photograph, and was ashamed to make yet another application. But she had led, or allowed, me to imagine that she was then asking for the first time. The care to send the money for the price of the photograph was a characteristic touch. Miss Field was, I well remember, a great favourite with Landor. I remember her telling me that he wished to give her a very large sort of scrap book, in which, among a quantity of things of no value, there were, as I knew, some really valuable drawings; and asking me whether she should accept it, her own feeling leaning to the opinion that she ought not to do so, in which view I strongly concurred. If I remember right the book had been sent to her residence, and had to be sent back again, not without danger of seriously angering him.

Here are the letters I have spoken of, written by Landor to Mr. Garrow. They are all undated save by the day of the month, but the post-marks show them to have been all written in 1836-8. The first is a very long letter, almost the whole of which is about a quarrel between husband and wife, both friends of the writer, which it would serve no good purpose to publish. The following passage from it, however, must not be lost:–

* * * * *

“What egregious blockheads must those animals have been who discover a resemblance to my style in Latin or other quotations. I have no need of crutches. I can walk forward without anybody’s arm; and if I wanted one, I should not take an old one in preference. Not only do I think that quotations are deformities and impediments, but I am apt to believe that my own opinion, at least in those matters of which I venture to treat, is quite as good as any other man’s, living or dead. If their style is better than my own, it would be bad policy to insert it; if worse, I should be like a tailor who would recommend his abilities by engrafting an old sleeve on a new coat…. Southey tells me that he has known his lady more than twenty years, that the disproportion of their ages is rational, and that having only one daughter left, his necessary absences would be irksome to her. Whatever he does, is done wisely and virtuously. As for Rogers, almost an octogenarian, be it on his own head! A dry nettle tied to a rose-bud, just enough life in it to sting, and that’s all Lady Blessington would be delighted at any fresh contribution from Miss Garrow. Let it be sent to her at Gore House. I go there to-morrow for ten days, then into Warwickshire, then to Southampton. But I have not given up all hope of another jaunt to Torquay. Best compliments to the ladies.

“Yours ever,


* * * * *

The following is dated the 15th of November, 1837–just half a century ago!

* * * * *


“I should be very ungrateful if I did not often think of you. But among my negligences, I must regret that I did not carry away with me the address of our friend Bezzi.” [A Piedmontese refugee who was a very intimate friend of Garrow’s. I knew him in long subsequent years, when political changes had made it possible for him to return to Italy. He was a very clever and singularly brilliant man, whose name, I think, became known to the English public in connection with the discovery of the celebrated portrait of Dante on a long whitewashed wall of the Bargello, in Florence. There was some little jealousy about the discovery between him and Kirkup. The truth was that Kirkup’s large and curious antiquarian knowledge led him to feel sure that the picture must be there, under the whitewash; while Bezzi’s influence with the authorities succeeded in getting the wall cleared of its covering.] “I am anxious to hear how he endures his absence from Torquay, and I will write to him the moment I hear of him. Tell Miss Garrow that the muses like the rustle of dry leaves almost as well as the whispers of green ones. If she doubts it, entreat her on my part to ask the question of them. Nothing in Bath is vastly interesting to me now. Two or three persons have come up and spoken to me whom I have not seen for a quarter of a century. Of these faces I recollect but one, and it was the ugliest! By the same token–but here the figure of aposiopesis is advantageous to me–old Madam Burridge, of my lodgings, has sent me three large forks and one small, which I left behind. She forgot to send another of each. What is worse, I left behind me a three-faced seal, which I think I once showed you. It was enclosed in a black rough case. This being of the time of Henry the Eighth, and containing the arms of my family connections, I value far above a few forks, or a few dozens. It cannot be worth sixpence to whoever has it. One of the engravings was a greyhound with an arrow through him, a crest of my grandmother’s, whose maiden name was Noble. If you pass by, pray ask about it–not that I am ever disappointed at the worst result of an inquiry. I am afraid the ladies of your house will think me imprudent; and what must be their opinion, if you let it transpire that I have furthermore invested a part of my scrip in the beaver trade. Offer my best regards to them all, and believe me,

“My dear sir,

“Yours very sincerely,


* * * * *

The following is dated only January 2nd, but the post-mark shows it to have been written from Bath on that day, 1838.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR SIR,–Yesterday there were lying across my fender three or four sheets of paper, quite in readiness to dry themselves, and receive my commands. One of these, I do assure you, was destined for Torquay, but the interruption of visitors would allow me time only to cover half a one with my scrawl. Early last week I wrote a long letter to Bezzi, but wanted the courage to send it. I wish him to remain in England as much almost as you yourself can do. But if after promising his lady” [it is noteworthy that such a master of English as Landor, should use, now for the second time in these letters, this ugly phrase] “to let her try the air of Italy, he should withdraw, she might render his life less comfortable by reproaches not altogether unmerited. When she gets there she will miss her friends; she will hear nothing but a language which is unknown to her, and will find that no change of climate can remove her ailments. I offered my house to Bezzi some time ago, with its two gardens and a hundred acres of land, all for a hundred a year. But I am confident my son will never remain in England, and after the expiration of the year will return to Tuscany. Bezzi cannot find another house, even without garden, for that money. James paid for a worse twelve louis a month, although he took it for eight months. So the houses in Tuscany are very far from inviting to an economist, although vastly less expensive than at Torquay, the rival of Naples in this respect as in beauty…. I have found my seal in a waistcoat pocket. I do not think the old woman stole the forks, but she knew they were stolen…. Kenyon has something of Falstaff about him, both in the physical and the moral. But he is a friendly man, of rare judgment in literary works, and of talents that only fall a little short of genius.

“God preserve you from your Belial Bishop!” [Philpotts]. “What an incumbent! I would not see the rascal once a month to be as great a man as Mr. Shedden, or as sublime a genius as Mr. Wise,” [word under the seal] “would drown me in bile or poison me with blue pills. A society has been formed here, of which the members have come to the resolution of making inquiries at every house about the religion of the inmates, what places of worship they attend, &c., &c. Is not it hard upon a man, who has changed a couple of sovereigns into half-crowns for Christmas boxes, to be forced to spend ten shillings for a horsewhip, when he no longer has a horse? Our weather here is quite as mild and beautiful as it can possibly be at Torquay. Miss Garrow, I trust, has listened to the challenges of the birds, and sung a new song. As Bezzi is secretary and librarian, I must apply to him for it, unless she will condescend to trust me with a copy. I will now give you a specimen of my iron seal, brass setting and pewter mending.

“Yours ever,


* * * * *

The mention of Bishop Philpotts (though not by name) in the foregoing letter, reminds me of a story which used to be told of him, and which is too good to be lost, even though thus parenthetically told. When at Torquay he used to frequent a small church, in which the service was at that time performed by a very young curate of the extra gentle butter-won’t-melt-in-his-mouth kind, who had much objection to the phrase in the Communion service, “eateth and drinketh his own damnation,” and ventured somewhat tremblingly to substitute “condemnation” for the word which offended him. Whereupon the orthodox Bishop reared his head, as he knelt with the rest of the congregation and roared aloud “_Damnation!_” Whether the curate had to be carried out fainting, I don’t remember.

The next letter of Landor’s that I have is dated 13th April, St. James’s Square, Bath. The postmark shows that it was written in 1838.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR SIR,–I have had Kenyon here these last four days. He tells me that he saw Bezzi in London, and that we may entertain some hopes that he will be induced to remain in England. All he wants is some employment; and surely his powerful friends among the Whigs could easily procure him it. But the Whigs of all scoundrelly factions, are, and have ever been, the most scoundrelly, the most ungenerous, the most ungrateful. What have they done for Fonblanque, who could have kicked them overboard on his toe-nail? Their abilities put together are less than a millionth of his; and his have been constantly and most zealously exerted in their favour. My first conversation with Kenyon was about the publication of his poems, which are just come out. They are in part extremely clever; particularly one on happiness and another on the shrine of the Virgin. He was obliged to print them at his own expense; and his cousin, Miss Barrett, who also has written a few poems of no small merit, could not find a publisher. These, however, bear no proportion to Miss Garrow’s.[1] Yet I doubt whether publishers and the folks they consult would find out that.

[Footnote 1: To those who never knew Landor, and the habitual limitless exaggeration of his manner of speaking, it may be necessary to observe that he did not really hold any opinion so monstrous as might be supposed from the passage in the text. And a letter given by Mr. Forster expresses earnestly and vigorously enough his high admiration for Miss Barrett’s poetry. It must be remembered also, that at the time this was written, Mr. Landor could only have seen some of the earliest of Miss Barrett’s writings.]

“Southey was about to write to me when his brothers death, by which six children come under his care, interrupted him. I wish I possessed one or two of Miss Garrow’s beautiful poems, that I might ask his opinion and advice about them. His opinion I know would be the same as mine; but his advice is what I want. Surely it cannot be requisite and advantageous to withhold them from the world so long as you imagine. In one single year both enough of materials and of variety for a volume might be collected and prepared. Would Miss Garrow let me offer one to the _Book of Beauty_? I shall be with Lady Blessington the last day of the present month. One of the best poems of our days” [on death], “appeared in the last _Book of Beauty_. But in general its poetry is very indifferent. With best regards to the ladies,

“I am ever, my dear sir,

“Yours most sincerely,


* * * * *

The following, dated merely “Gore House, Sunday morning,” was written, or at least posted, on the 14th May, 1838.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR SIR,–It is impossible you should not often have thought me negligent and ungrateful. Over and over again have I redd [_sic_], the incomparably fine poetry you sent me; and intended that Lady Blessington should partake in the high enjoyment it afforded me. I had promised her to be at Gore House toward the end of April, but I had not the courage to face all my friends. However, here I came on Friday evening; and before I went to bed I redd to her ladyship what I promised her. She was enchanted. I then requested her to toss aside some stuff of mine, and to make way for it in the next _Book of Beauty_. The gods, as Homer says, granted half my prayer, and it happened to be (what was not always the case formerly) the better half. She will insert both. It is only by some such means as that that the best poetry in our days comes with mincing step into popularity. Mine being booted and spurred, both ladies and gentlemen get out of the way of it, and look down at it with a touch of horror.

“Now for news, and about your neighbours. Captain Ackland is going to marry a niece of Massy Dawson. Mischievous things are said about poor Lady M—-, all false, you may be sure. Admiral Aylmer after all his services under Nelson, &c., &c., is unable to procure a commission in the marines for his nephew, Frederick Paynter. Lord A. will not ask. I am a suitor to all the old women I know, and shall fail too, for it is not the thing they want me to ask of them.

“I see two new Deputy Lord-Lieutenants have been appointed for the County of Monmouth. My estate there is larger than the Lord Lieutenant’s; yet even this mark of respect has not been paid me. It might be, safely. I shall consider myself sold to the devil, and for more than my value, when I accept any distinction, or anything else from any man living. The Whigs are growing unpopular, I hear. I hope never to meet any of them. Last night, however, I talked a little with Grantley Berkeley, and told him a bit of my mind. You see, I have not much more room in my paper, else I should be obliged to tell you that the bells are ringing, and that I have only just time to put on my gloves for church.

“Adieu, and believe me with kindly regards to the ladies,



* * * * *

The last in this series of letters which has reached my hands is altogether undated, but appears by the post-mark to have been written from Bath, 19th July, 1838.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR SIR,–There is one sentence in your letter which shocked me not a little. You say ‘The Whigs have not offered you a Deputy Lieutenantcy; so cheap a distinction could not have hurt them. But then you are too proud to ask,’ &c. Do you really suppose that I would have accepted it even if it had been offered? No, by God! I would not accept any distinction even if it were offered by honest men. I will have nothing but what I can take. It is, however, both an injustice and an affront to confer this dignity on low people, who do not possess a fourth of my property, and whose family is as ignoble as Lord Melbourne’s own, and not to have offered the same to me. In the eleventh page of the _Letters_ I published after the quelling of Bonaparte are these words: ‘I was the first to abjure the party of the Whigs, and shall be the last to abjure the principles. When the leaders had broken all their promises to the nation, had shown their utter incapacity to manage its affairs, and their inclination to crouch before the enemy, I permitted my heart after some struggles to subside and repose in the cool of this reflection–Let them escape. It is only the French nation that ever dragged such feebleness to the scaffold,’ Again, page 35–‘Honest men, I confess, have generally in the present times an aversion to the Whig faction, not because it is suitable either to honesty or understanding to prefer the narrow principles of the opposite party, but because in every country lax morals wish to be and are identified with public feeling, and because in our own a few of the very best have been found in an association with the very worst.’ Whenever the Tories have deviated from their tenets, they have enlarged their views and exceeded their promises. The Whigs have always taken an inverse course. Whenever they have come into power, they have previously been obliged to slight those matters, and to temporise with those duties, which they had not the courage either to follow or to renounce.

“And now, my dear sir, to pleasanter matters. I have nothing in the press, and never shall have. I gave Forster all my works, written or to be written. Neither I nor my family shall have anything to do with booksellers. They say a new edition of my _Imaginary Conversations_ is called for. I have sent Forster a dozen or two of fresh ones, but I hope he will not hazard them before my death, and will get a hundred pounds or near it for the whole.

“If ever I attended a public dinner, I should like to have been present at that which the people gave to you. Never let them be quiet until the Church has gone to the devil, its lawful owner, and till something a little like Christianity takes its place. If parsons are to be Lords, it is but right and reasonable that the Queen should be Pope. Indeed, I have no objection to this, but I have to the other. What a singularity it is that those who profess a belief in Christ do not obey Him, while those who profess it in Mahomet or Moses or Boodh are obedient to their precepts, if not in certain points of morality, in all things else. Carlyle is a vigorous thinker, but a vile writer, worse than Bulwer. I breakfasted in company with him at Milman’s. Macaulay was there, a clever clown, and Moore too, whom I had not seen till then. Between those two Scotchmen he appeared like a glow-worm between two thistles. There were several other folks, literary and half literary, Lord Northampton, &c., &c. I forgot Rogers. Milman has written the two best volumes of poetry we have seen lately; but when Miss Garrow publishes hers I am certain there will be a total eclipse of them. My friend Hare’s brother, who married a sister of the impudent coxcomb, Edward Stanley, has bought a house at Torquay, and Hare tells me that unless he goes to Sicily be shall be there in winter. If so, we may meet; but Bath is my dear delight in all seasons. I have been sitting for my picture, and have given it to Mrs. Paynter. It is admirably executed by Fisher.

“Yours ever,


* * * * *

These letters are all written upon the old-fashioned square sheet of letter paper, some gilt-edged, entirely written over, even to the turned-down ends, and heavily sealed.

Mr. Forster says no word about the Deputy-Lieutenantcy, and Landor’s anger and disgust in connection with it. He must necessarily have known all about it, but probably in the exuberance of his material did not think it worth mentioning. But it evidently left almost as painful an impression on Landor’s mind as the famous refusal of the Duke of Beaufort to appoint him a justice of the peace.

During the later portion of my life at Florence, and subsequently at Rome, Mr. G.P. Marsh and his very charming wife were among our most valued friends for many years. Marsh was an exception to the prevailing American rule, which for the most part changes their diplomatists with the change of President. He had been United States minister at Constantinople and at Turin before he came to Florence with the Italian monarchy. At Rome he was “the Dean” of the diplomatic body, and on many occasions various representative duties fell upon him as such which were especially unwelcome to him. The determination of the Great Powers to send ambassadors to the Court of the Quirinal instead of ministers plenipotentiary, as previously, came as a great boon to Mr. Marsh. For as the United States send no ambassadors, his position as longest in office of all the diplomatic body no longer placed him at the head of it.

Mr. Marsh was a man of very large and varied culture. A thorough classical scholar and excellent modern linguist, philology was perhaps his most favourite pursuit. He wrote various books, his best I think a very large octavo volume, entitled not very happily _Man in Nature_. The subject of it is the modifications and alterations which this planet has undergone at the hands of man. His subject leads him to consider much at large the denudation of mountains, which has caused and is causing such calamitous mischief in Italy and the south of France. He shows very convincingly and interestingly that the destruction of forests causes not only floods in winter and spring, but drought in summer and autumn. And the efforts which have recently been made in Italy to take some steps towards the reclothing of the mountain sides, have in great measure been due to his work, which has been largely circulated in an Italian translation.

The following letter which I select from many received from him, is not without interest. It is dated 30th November, 1867.

* * * * *

“DEAR SIR,–I return you Layard’s article, which displays his usual marked ability, and has given me much pleasure as well as instruction. I should much like to know what are his grounds for believing that ‘a satisfactory settlement of this Roman question would have been speedily brought about with the concurrence of the Italian Government and the Liberal party in Rome, and with the tacit consent of the Emperor of the French, had it not been for the untoward enterprise of Garibaldi,’ p. 283. I certainly have not the slightest ground for believing any such thing; nor do I understand _to whom_ the settlement referred to would have been ‘satisfactory.’ Does Mr. Layard suppose that any conceivable arrangement would be satisfactory both to the Papacy and to Italian Liberals out of Rome? The _Government_ of Italy, which changes as often as the moon, might have accepted something which would have satisfied Louis Napoleon, Antonelli, and the three hundred _nobili_ of Rome, who waited at dinner, napkin on arm, on the Antiboini, to whom they gave an entertainment,–but the people?

“I send you one of Ferretti’s pamphlets, which please keep. And I enclose in the package two of Tuckerman’s books. If you could turn over the leaves of these and say to me in a note that they impress you favourably, and that you are not displeased with his magazine article, I will make him a happy man by sending him the note.

“Very truly yours,


* * * * *

I did more than “turn over the leaves” of the book sent, and did very truly say that they had interested me much. It is rather suggestive to reflect how utterly unintelligible to the present generation must be the term “Antiboini” in the above letter, without a word of explanation. The highly unpopular and objectionable “Papal Legion” had been in great part recruited from Antibes, and were hence nicknamed “Antiboini,” and not, as readers of the present day might fairly imagine, from having been the opponents of any “boini.”

The personal qualities of Mr. Marsh had obtained for him a great, and I may indeed say, exceptional degree of consideration and regard from his colleagues of the diplomatic body, and from the Italian ministers and political world generally. And I remember one notable instance of the manifestation of this, which I cannot refrain from citing. Mr. Marsh had written home to his Government some rather trenchantly unfavourable remarks on some portion of the then recent measures of the Italian Ministry. And by some awkward accident or mistake these had found their way into the columns of an American newspaper. The circumstances might have given rise to very disagreeable and mischievous complications and results. But the matter was suffered to pass without any official observation solely from the high personal consideration in which Mr. Marsh was held, not only at the Consulta (the Roman Foreign Office), but at the Quirinal, and in many a Roman salon.

Mr. Marsh died full of years and honours at a ripe old age. But the closing scene of his life was remarkable from the locality of it. He had gone to pass the hot season at Vallombrosa, where a comfortable hotel replaces the old _forestieria_ of the monastery, while a School of Forestry has been established by the Government within its walls. Amid those secular shades the old diplomatist and scholar breathed his last, and could not have done so in a more peaceful spot. But the very inaccessible nature of the place made it a question of some difficulty how the body should be transported in properly decorous fashion to the railway station in the valley below–a difficulty which was solved by the young scholars of the School of Forestry, who turned out in a body to have the honour of bearing on their shoulders the remains of the man whose writings had done so much to awaken the Government to the necessity of establishing the institution to which they belonged.

Mrs. Marsh, for so many years the brightest ornament of the Italo-American society, and equally admired and welcomed by the English colony, first at Florence and then at Rome, still lives for the equal delight of her friends on the other side of the Atlantic. I may not, therefore, venture to say more of “what I remember” of her, than that it abundantly accounts for the feeling of an unfilled void, which her absence occasioned and occasions in both the American and English world on the banks of the Tiber.


It was in the spring of the year 1860 that I first became acquainted with “George Eliot” and G H. Lewes in Florence. But it was during their second visit to Italy in 1861 that I saw a good deal more of them. It was in that year, towards the end of May, that I succeeded in persuading them to accompany me in a visit to the two celebrated Tuscan monasteries of Camaldoli and La Vernia. I had visited both on more than one occasion previously–once with a large and very merry party of both sexes, of whom Colley Grattan was one–but the excursion made in company with G.H. Lewes and George Eliot was another-guess sort of treat, and the days devoted to it stand out in high relief in my memory as some of the most memorable in my life.

They were anxious to be moving northwards from Florence, and I had some difficulty in persuading them to undertake the expedition. A certain weight of responsibility, therefore, lay on me–that folks whose days were so sure of being turned to good profit, should not by my fault be led to waste any of them. But I had already seen enough of both of them to feel sure that the specialties of the very exceptional little experience I proposed to them would be appreciated and acceptable. Neither he nor she were fitted by their habits, or indeed by the conditions of their health, to encounter much “roughing,” and a certain amount of that was assuredly inevitable–a good deal more five-and-twenty years ago than would be the case now. But if the flesh was weak, truly the spirit was willing! I have heard grumbling and discontent from the young of either sex in the heyday of health and strength in going over the same ground. But for my companions on the present occasion, let the difficulties and discomforts be what they might, the continually varied and continually suggestive interest they found in everything around them, overrode and overbore all material considerations.

Never, I think, have I met with so impressionable and so delicately sensitive a mind as that of George Eliot! I use “sensitive” in the sense in which a photographer uses the word in speaking of his plates. Everything that passed within the ken of that wonderful organism, whether a thing or combination of things seen, or an incident, or a trait revealing or suggesting character, was instantly reproduced, fixed, registered by it, the operating light being the wonderful native force of her intellect. And the photographs so produced were by no means evanescent. If ever the admirably epigrammatic phrase, “wax to receive and marble to retain,” was applicable to any human mind, it was so to that of George Eliot. And not only were the enormous accumulations of stored-up impressions safe beyond reach of oblivion or confusion, but they were all and always miraculously ready for co-ordination with those newly coming in at each passing moment! Think of the delight of passing, in companionship with such a mind, through scenes and circumstances entirely new to it!

Lewes, too, was a most delightful companion, the cheeriest of philosophers! The old saying of “_Comes jucundus in via pro vehiculo est_,” was especially applicable to him. Though very exhaustible in bodily force, he was inexhaustible in cheerfulness, and above all in unwearied, incessant, and minute care for “Polly.” In truth, if any man could ever be said to have lived in another person, Lewes in those days, and to the end of his life, lived in and for George Eliot. The talk of worshipping the ground she trod on, and the like, are pretty lovers phrases, sometimes signifying much, and sometimes very little. But it is true accurately and literally of Lewes. That care for her, at once comprehensive and minute, unsleeping watchfulness, lest she should dash her foot against a stone, was _never_ absent from his mind. She had become his real self, his genuine _ego_ to all intents and purposes. And his talk and thoughts were egoistic accordingly. Of his own person, his ailments, his works, his ideas, his impressions, you might hear not a word from him in the intercourse of many days. But there was in his inmost heart a _naif_ and never-doubting faith that talk on all these subjects as regarded _her_ must be profoundly interesting to those he talked with. To me, at all events, it was so. Perhaps had it been otherwise, there would have been less of it.

We were to reach Camaldoli the first night, and had therefore to leave Florence very early in the morning. At Pelago, a little _paese_–village we should call it–on the Arno some fourteen or fifteen miles above Florence, we were to find saddle-horses, the journey we were about to make being in those days practicable in no other way, unless on foot. There was at that time a certain Antonio da Pelago, whose calling it was to act as guide, and to furnish horses. I had known him for many years, as did all those whose ramblings took them into those hills. He was in many respects what people call “a character,” and seemed to fancy himself to have in some degree proprietary rights over the three celebrated Tuscan monasteries, Vallombrosa, Camaldoli, and La Vernia. He was well known to the friars at each of these establishments, and indeed to all the sparse population of that country-side. He was a very good and competent guide and courier, possessed with a very amusingly exaggerated notion of his own importance, and rather bad to turn aside from his own preconceived and predetermined methods of doing everything that had to be done. George Eliot at once made a study of him.

I am reminded, too, as I write, of the great amusement with which my old and highly-valued friend of many years, Alfred Austin, who long subsequently was making the same excursion with me and both our wives, listened to an oration of the indispensable Antonio. One of his baggage horses had strayed and become temporarily lost among the hills. He was exceedingly wroth, and poured forth his vexation in a torrent of very unparliamentary language. “_Corpo di Guida!_” he exclaimed, among a curious assortment of heterogeneous adjurations–“Body of Judas!” stooping to the ground as he spoke, and striking the back of his hand against it, with an action that very graphically represented a singular survival of the classical _testor inferos!_ Then suddenly changing his mood, he apostrophised the missing beast with the almost tearful reproach, “There! there now! Thou hast made me throw away all my devotions! All! And Easter only just gone!” That is to say, your fault has betrayed me into violence and bad language, which has begun a new record of offences just after I had made all clear by my Easter devotions.

The first stage of our rough ride was to the little hill town of Prato Vecchio on the infant Arno, and close under the lofty peaks of Falterona, in the flanks of which both the Arno and the Tiber rise. The path, as it descends to the town, winds round the ruins of an ancient castle, beneath the walls of which is still existent that Fontebranda fountain, which Adam the forger in the _Inferno_ longed for a drop of, and which almost all Dantescan scholars and critics mistake for a larger and nowadays better known fountain of the same name at Siena. On pointing it out to George Eliot, I found, of course, that the name and the whole of Adam the forger’s history was familiar to her; but she had little expected to find his local habitation among these wild hills; and she was unaware of the current mistake between the Siena Fontebranda, and the little rippling streamlet before us.

The little _osteria_, at which we were to get some breakfast, was a somewhat lurid dwelling in an uninviting back lane. But the ready and smiling good-humour with which the hostess prepared her coffee and bread, and eggs and bacon, availed much to make up for deficiencies, especially for guests far more interested in observing every minute specialty of the place, the persons, and the things, than they were extreme to mark what was amiss. I remember George Eliot was especially struck by the absence of either milk or butter, and by the fact that the inhabitants of these hills, and indeed the Tuscans of the remoter parts of the country generally, never use them at all–or did not in those days.

But it was beyond Prato Vecchio that the most characteristic part of our ride began. The hills, into the folds and gullies of which we plunged almost immediately after leaving the walls of the little town, are of the most arid, and it is hardly too much to say, repulsive description. It is impossible to imagine soil more evidently to the least experienced eye hopeless for any purpose useful to man, than these rolling and deeply water-scored hills. Nor has the region any of the characters of the picturesque. The soil is very friable, consisting of an easily disintegrated slaty limestone, of a pale whitey-brown in prevailing colour, varied here and there by stretches of similar material greenish in tint. For the most part the hill-sides are incapable of nourishing even a blade of grass; and they are evidently in the process of rapid removal into the Mediterranean, for the further extension of the plain that has been formed between Pisa and the shore since the time, only a few hundred years ago, when Pisa was a first-class naval power. All this, with the varied historical corollaries and speculations which it suggested, was highly interesting to my fellow-travellers.

But the ride, nowhere dangerous, though demanding some strong faith in the sure-footedness of Antonio’s steeds, is not an easy one. The sun was beating with unmitigated glare on those utterly shadeless hill-sides. It was out of the question to attempt anything beyond a walk. The sides of the gullies, which had to be ascended and descended, though never reaching to the picturesque proportions of precipices, were yet sufficiently steep and rough to make very fatiguing riding for a lady unaccustomed to such exercise. And George Eliot was in no very robust condition of health at the time. And despite his well dissembled anxiety I could see that Lewes was not easy respecting her capability of resisting the heat, the fatigue, and the unwonted exercise. But her cheerfulness and activity of interest never failed her for an instant. Her mind “made increment of everything.” Nor even while I led her horse down some of the worst descents did the exigencies of the path avail to interrupt conversation, full of thought and far-reaching suggestiveness, as her talk ever was.

At last we reached the spot where the territory of the monastery commences; and it is one that impresses itself on the imagination and the memory in a measure not likely to be forgotten. The change is like a pantomime transformation scene! The traveller passes without the slightest intermediate gradation from the dreary scene which has been described, into the shade and the beauty of a region of magnificent and well-managed forest! The bodily delight of passing from the severe glare of the sun into this coolness, welcome alike to the skin and to the eye, was very great. And to both my companions, but especially to George Eliot, the great beauty of the scene we entered on gave the keenest pleasure.

Assuredly Saint Romuald in selecting a site for his Camaldolese did not derogate from the apparently instinctive wisdom which seems to have inspired the founders of monasteries of every order and in every country of Europe. Invariably the positions of the religious houses were admirably well chosen; and that of Camaldoli is no exception to the rule. The convent is not visible from the spot where the visitor enters the forest boundary which marks the limit of the monastic domain. Nearly an hour’s ride through scenery increasing in beauty with each step, where richly green lawns well stocked with cattle are contrasted wonderfully with the arid desolation so recently left behind, has still to be done ere the convent’s hospitable door is reached.

The convent door, however, in our case was not reached, for the building used for the reception of visitors, and called the _forestieria_, occupies its humble position by the road side a hundred yards or so before the entrance to the monastery is reached. There Antonio halted his cavalcade, and while showing us our quarters with all the air of a master, sent one of his attendant lads to summon the _padre forestieraio_–the monk deputed by the society to receive strangers.

Had our party consisted of men only, we should have been received in the convent, where there was a very handsome suite of rooms reserved for the purpose. But females could not enter the precincts of the cloister. The father in question very shortly made his appearance, a magnificent figure, whose long black beard flowing over his perfectly clean white robe made as picturesque a presentment of a friar as could be desired. He was extremely courteous, and seemed to desire nothing better than to talk _ad libitum_. But for my fellow travellers, rest after their broiling ride was the thing most urgently needed.

And this requirement brought us to the consideration of our accommodation for the night. The humble little _forestieria_ at Camaldoli was not built for any such purpose. It never, of course, entered into the heads of the builders that need could ever arise for receiving any save male guests. And for such, as I have said, a handsome suite of large rooms, both sitting-rooms and bedrooms, with huge fireplaces for the burning of colossal logs, is provided. Ordinary brethren of the order would not be lodged there. The magnificence is reserved for a Cardinal (Gregory XVI. who had been a Camaldolese frequently came here), or a travelling Bishop and his suite, or a heretic English or American milord! But not for any daughter of Eve! And the makeshift room over a carpenter’s shop, which is called the _forestieria_, has been devoted to the purpose only in consequence of the incomprehensible mania of female English heretics for visiting the disciples of St. Romuald. And there the food supplied from the convent can be brought to them. But for the night? I had warned my friends that they would have to occupy different quarters; and it now became necessary to introduce George Eliot to the place she was to pass the night in.

At the distance of about twenty minutes’ walk above the convent, across a lovely but very steep extent of beautifully green turf, encircled by the surrounding forest, there is a cow-house, with an annexed lodging for the cowherd and his wife. And over the cow stable is–or was, for the monks have been driven away and all is altered now!–a bedchamber with three or four beds in it, which the toleration of the community has provided for the accommodation of the unaccountable female islanders. I have assisted in conveying parties of ladies up that steep grassy slope by the light of a full moon, when all the beds had to be somewhat more than fully occupied. But fortunately George Eliot had the whole chamber to herself–perhaps, however, not quite fortunately, for it was a very novel and not altogether reassuring experience for her to be left absolutely alone for the night, to the protection of an almost entirely unintelligible cowherd and his wife! But there was no help for it! G.H. Lewes did not seem to be quite easy about it; but George Eliot did not appear to be troubled by the slightest alarm or misgiving. She seemed, indeed, to enjoy all the novelty and strangeness of the situation; and when she bade us good-night from the one little window of her chamber over the cows, as we turned to walk down the slope to our grand bedrooms at the convent, she said she should be sure to be ready when we came for her in the morning, as the cows would call her, if the cowherds failed to do so.

The following morning we were to ride up the mountain to the Sagro Eremo. Convent hours are early, and soon after the dawn we had convoyed our female companion down the hill to the little _forestieria_ for breakfast, where the _padre forestieraio_ gave us the best coffee we had had for many a day. George Eliot declared that she had had an exceptionally good night, and was delighted with the talk of the magnificently black-bearded father, who superintended our meal, while a lay brother waited on us.

The former was to start in a day or two on his triennial holiday, and he was much excited at the prospect of it. His _naif_ talk and quite childlike questions and speculations as to times and distances, and what could be done in a day, and the like, amused George Eliot much. In reckoning up his available hours he deducted so much in each day for the due performance of his canonical duties. I remarked to him that he could read the prescribed service in the diligence, as I had often seen priests doing. “Secular priests no doubt!” he said, “but that would not suit one of _us!_”

Our ride up to the Sagro Eremo was a thing to be remembered! I had seen and done it all before; but I had not seen or done it in company with George Eliot. It was like doing it with a new pair of eyes, and freshly inspired mind! The way is long and steep, through magnificent forests, with every here and there a lovely enclosed lawn, and fugitive peeps over the distant country. On our way up we met a singular procession coming down.

It consisted of a low large cart drawn by two oxen, and attended by several lay brothers and peasants, in the centre of which was seated an enormously fat brother of the order, whose white-robed bust with immense flowing white beard, emerging from a quantity of red wraps and coverings, that concealed the lower part of his person, made an extraordinary appearance. He was being brought down from the Sagro Eremo to the superior comfort of the convent, because he was unwell.

At the Sagro Eremo–the sacred hermitage–is seen the operation of the Camaldolese rule in its original strictness and perfection. At the convent itself it is, or has become, much relaxed in many respects. The Camaldolese, like other Carthusians, are properly _hermits_, that is to say, their life is not conventual, but eremitical. Each brother at the Sagro Eremo inhabits his own separately built cell, consisting of sleeping chamber, study, wood-room, and garden, all of microscopical dimensions. His food, exclusively vegetable, is passed in to him by a little turntable made in the wall. There is a refectory, in which the members of the community eat in common on two or three festivals in the course of the year. On these occasions only is any speech or oral communication between the members permitted. There is a library tolerably well furnished with historical as well as theological works. But it is evidently never used. Nor is there any sign that the little gardens are in any degree cultivated by the occupants of them. I remarked to George Eliot on the strangeness of this abstinence from both the two permitted occupations, which might seem to afford some alleviation of the awful solitude and monotony of the eremitical life. But she remarked that the facts as we saw them were just such as she should have expected to find!

The Sagro Eremo is inhabited by three classes of inmates; firstly, by novices, who are not permitted to come down to the comparative luxury and comfort and milder climate of the convent till they have passed three or four years at the Sagro Eremo. Secondly, by those who have been sent thither from the convent below as punishment for some misdoing. Thirdly, by those who remain there of their own free will, in the hope of meriting a higher and more distinguished reward for their austerities in a future life. One such was pointed out to us, who had never left the Eremo for more than fifty years, a tall, very gaunt, very meagre old man with white hair, hollow cheeks, and parchment skin, a nose like an eagle’s beak, and deep-set burning eyes–as typical a figure, in its way, as the rosy mountain of a man whom we met travelling down in his ox cart.

Lewes was always anxious lest George Eliot should over-tire herself. But she was insatiably interested both in the place and the denizens of it.

Then before supper at the _forestieria_ was ready, our friend the father _forestieraio_ insisted on showing us the growing crop of haricot beans, so celebrated for their excellence that some of them were annually sent to Pope Gregory the Sixteenth as long as he lived.

Then followed another night in the cow-house for George Eliot and for us in the convent, and the next morning we started with Antonio and his horses for La Vernia.

The ride thither from Camaldoli, though less difficult, is also less peculiar than that from Prato Vecchio to the latter monastery, at least, until La Vernia is nearly reached. The _penna_ (Cornish, Pen; Cumbrian, Penrith; Spanish, Pena) on which the monastery is built is one of the numerous isolated rocky points which have given their names to the Pennine Alps and Apennines. The Penna de la Vernia rises very steeply from the rolling ground below, and towers above the traveller with its pyramidal point in very suggestive fashion. The well-wooded sides of the conical hill are diversified by emergent rocks, and the plume of trees on the summit seems to suggest a Latin rather than a Celtic significance for the “Penna.”

It is a long and tedious climb to the convent, but the picturesque beauty of the spot, the charm of the distant outlook, and above all the historical interest of the site, rewards the visitor’s toil abundantly. There is a _forestieria_ here also, within the precincts of the convent, but not within the technical “cloister.” It is simply a room in which visitors of either sex may partake of such food as the poor Franciscans can furnish them, which is by no means such as the more well-to-do Carthusians of Camaldoli supply to their guests. Nor have the quarters set apart for the sleeping accommodation of male visitors within the cloister anything of the spacious old-world grandeur of the strangers’ suite of rooms at the latter monastery. The difficulty also of arranging for the night’s lodging of a female is much greater at La Vernia. There is indeed a very fairly comfortable house, kept under the management of two sisters of the order of Saint Francis, expressly for the purpose of lodging lady pilgrims to the shrine. For in former days–scarcely now, I think–the wives of the Florentine aristocracy used to undertake a pilgrimage to La Vernia as a work of devotion. But this house is at the bottom of the long ascent–nearly an hour’s severe climb from the convent–an arrangement which necessarily involves much additional fatigue to a lady visitor.

George Eliot writes to Miss Sara Hennell on the 19th of June, a letter inserted by Mr. Cross in his admirable biography of his wife–“I wish you could have shared the pleasures of our last expedition from Florence to the monasteries of Camaldoli and La Vernia. I think it was just the sort of thing you would have entered into with thorough zest.” And she goes on to speak of La Vernia in a manner which seems to show that it was the latter establishment which most keenly interested and impressed her. She was in fact under the spell of the great and still potent personality of Saint Francis, which informs with his memory every detail of the buildings and rocks around you. Each legend was full of interest for her. The alembic of her mind seemed to have the secret of distilling from traditions, which in their grossness the ordinary visitor turns from with a smile of contempt, the spiritual value they once possessed for ages of faith, or at least the poetry with which the simple belief of those ages has invested them. Nobody could be more alive to every aspect of natural beauty than she showed herself during the whole of this memorable excursion. But at La Vernia the human interest over-rode the simply aesthetic one.

Her day was a most fatiguing one. And when Lewes and I wearily climbed the hill on foot, after escorting her to her sleeping quarters, he was not a little anxious lest on the morrow she should find herself unable for the ride which was to take us to the spot where a carriage was available for our return to Florence.

But it was not so. She slept well under the care of the Franciscan nuns, who managed to get her a cup of milkless coffee in the morning, and so save her from the necessity of again climbing the hill. A charming drive through the Casentino, or valley of the Upper Arno, showing us the aspect of a Tuscan valley very different from that of the Lower Arno, brought to an end an expedition which has always remained in my memory as one of the most delightful of my life.

I had much talk with George Eliot during the time–very short at Florence–when she was maturing her Italian novel, _Romola_. Of course, I knew that she was digesting the acquisitions of each day with a view to writing; but I had not the slightest idea of the period to which her inquiries were specially directed, or of the nature of the work intended. But when I read _Romola_, I was struck by the wonderful power of absorption manifested in every page of it. The rapidity with which she squeezed out the essence and significance of a most complex period of history, and assimilated the net results of its many-sided phases, was truly marvellous.

Nevertheless, in drawing the girl Romola, her subjectivity has overpowered her objectivity. Romola is not–could never have been–the product of the period and of the civilisation from which she is described as having issued. There is far too much of George Eliot in her. It was a period, it is true, in which female culture trod upon the heels of the male culture of the time perhaps more closely than it has ever done since. But let Vittoria Colonna be accepted, as probably she may be, as a fair exponent of the highest point to which that culture had reached, and an examination of the sonnets into which she has put her highest thoughts and aspirations together with a comparison of those with the mental calibre of Romola will, I think, support the view I have taken.

Tito, on the other hand, gives us with truly wonderful accuracy and vigour “the very form and pressure of the time.” The pages which describe him read like a quintessential distillation of the Florentine story of the time and of the human results which it had availed to produce. The character of Savonarola, of course, remains, and must remain, a problem, despite all that has been done for the elucidation of it since _Romola_ was written. But her reading of it is most characteristically that which her own idiosyncrasy–so akin to it in its humanitarian aspects, so superior to it in its methods of considering man and his relations to the unseen–would lead one to expect.

In 1869-70, George Eliot and Mr. Lewes visited Italy for the fourth time. I had since the date of their former visit quitted my house in Florence, and established myself in a villa and small _podere_ at Ricorboli, a commune outside the Florentine Porta San Niccolo. And there I had the great pleasure of receiving them under my roof, assisted in doing so by my present wife. Their visit was all too short a one–less than a week, I think.

But one knows a person with whom one has passed even that short time under the same roof far better than can ever be the result of a very much longer acquaintanceship during which one meets only in the ordinary intercourse of society. And the really intimate knowledge of her which I was thus enabled to obtain has left with me the abiding conviction that she was intellectually by far the most extraordinarily gifted person it has ever been my good fortune to meet. I do not insist much on the uniform and constant tender consideration for others, which was her habitual frame of mind, for I have known others of whom the same might have been said. It is true that it is easy for those in the enjoyment of that vigorous health, which renders mere living a pleasure, to be kindly; and that George Eliot was never betrayed by suffering, however protracted and severe, into the smallest manifestation of impatience or unkindly feeling. But neither is this trained excellence of charity matchless among women. What was truly, in my experience, matchless, was simply the power of her intelligence; the precision, the promptitude, the rapidity (though her manner was by no means rapid), the largeness of the field of knowledge, the compressed outcome of which she was at any moment ready to bring to bear on the topic in hand; the sureness and lucidity of her induction; the clearness of vision, to which muddle was as impossible and abhorrent as a vacuum is supposed to be to nature; and all this lighted up and gilded by an infinite sense of, and capacity for, humour,–this was what rendered her to me a marvel, and an object of inexhaustible study and admiration.

To me, though I never passed half an hour in conversation with her without a renewed perception of the vastness of the distance which separated her intelligence from mine, she was a companion each minute of intercourse with whom was a delight. But I can easily understand that, despite her perfect readiness to place herself for the nonce on the intellectual level of those with whom she chanced to be brought in contact, her society may not have been agreeable to all. I remember a young lady–by no means a stupid or unintelligent one–telling me that being with George Eliot always gave her a pain in “her mental neck,” just as an hour passed in a picture gallery did to her physical neck. She was fatigued by the constant attitude of looking up. But had she not been an intelligent girl, she need not have constantly looked up. It would be a great mistake to suppose that George Eliot’s mental habits exacted such an attitude from those she conversed with.

Another very prominent and notable characteristic of that most remarkable idiosyncrasy was the large and almost universal tolerance with which George Eliot regarded her fellow creatures. Often and often has her tone of mind reminded me of the French saying, “_Tout connaitre ce serait tout pardonner!_” I think that of all the human beings I have ever known or met George Eliot would have made the most admirable, the most perfect father confessor. I can conceive nothing more healing, more salutary to a stricken and darkened soul, than unrestricted confession to such a mind and such an intelligence as hers. Surely a Church with a whole priesthood of such confessors would produce a model world.

And with all this I am well persuaded that her mind was at that time in a condition of growth. Her outlook on the world could not have been said at that time to have been a happy one. And my subsequent acquaintance with her in after years led me to feel sure that this had become much modified. She once said to me at Florence that she wished she never had been born! I was deeply pained and shocked; but I am convinced that the utterance was the result, not of irritation and impatience caused by pain, but of the influence exercised on the tone of thought and power of thinking by bodily malady. I feel sure that she would not have given expression to such a sentiment when I and my wife were subsequently staying with her and Lewes at their lovely home in Surrey. She had by that time, I cannot but think, reached a brighter outlook and happier frame of mind.

We had as neighbours at Ricorboli, although on the opposite bank of the Arno, our old and very highly-valued friends, Mr. G.P. Marsh, the United States Minister, and his charming wife, to whom for the sake of both parties we were desirous of introducing our distinguished guests. We thought it right to explain to Mrs. Marsh fully all that was not strictly normal in the relationship of George Eliot and G.H. Lewes before bringing them together, and were assured both by her and by her husband that they saw nothing in the circumstances which need deprive them of the pleasure of making the acquaintance of persons whom it would be so agreeable to them to know. The Marsh’s were at that time giving rather large weekly receptions in the fine rooms of their villa, and our friends accompanied us to one of these. It was very easy to see that both ladies appreciated each other. There was a large gathering, mostly of Americans, and Lewes exerted himself to be agreeable and amusing–which he always was, when he wished to be, to a degree rarely surpassed.

He and I used to walk about the country together when “Polly” was indisposed for walking; and I found him an incomparable companion, whether a gay or a grave mood were uppermost. He was the best _raconteur_ I ever knew, full of anecdote, and with a delicious perception of humour. She also, as I have said–very needlessly to those who have read her books–had an exquisite feeling and appreciation of the humorous, abundantly sufficient if unsupported by other examples, to put Thackeray’s dicta on the subject of woman’s capacity for humour out of court. But George Eliot’s sense of humour was different in quality rather than in degree from that which Lewes so abundantly possessed. And it was a curious and interesting study to observe the manifestation of the quality in both of them. It was not that the humour, which he felt and expressed, was less delicate in quality or less informed by deep human insight and the true _nihil-humanum-a-me-alienum-puto_ spirit than hers, but it was less wide and far-reaching in its purview of human feelings and passions and interests; more often individual in its applicability, and less drawn from the depths of human nature as exhibited by types and classes. And often they would cap each other with a mutual relationship similar to that between a rule of syntax and its example, sometimes the one coming first and sometimes the other.

I remember that during the happy days of this visit I was writing a novel, afterwards published under the title of _A Siren_, and Lewes asked me to show him the manuscript, then nearly completed. Of course I was only too glad to have the advantage of his criticism. He was much struck by the story, but urged me to invert the order in which it was told. The main incident of the plot is a murder caused by jealousy, and I had begun by narrating the circumstances which led up to it in their natural sequence. He advised me to begin by bringing before the reader the murdered body of the victim, and then unfold the causes which had led to the crime. And I followed his advice.

The murder is represented as having been committed on a sleeping person by piercing the heart with a needle, and then artistically covering the almost imperceptible orifice of the wound with wax, in such sort as to render the discovery of the wound and the cause of death almost impossible even by professional eyes. And I may mention that the facts were related to me by a distinguished man of science at Florence, as having really occurred.

Perhaps, since I have been led to speak of this story of mine, I may be excused for recording an incident connected with it, which occurred some years subsequently at Rome, in the drawing-room of Mrs. Marsh. The scene of the story is Ravenna. And Mrs. Marsh specially introduced me to a very charming young couple, the Count and Countess Pasolini of Ravenna, as the author of _A Siren_. They said they had been most anxious to know who could have written that book! They thought that no Englishman could have been resident at Ravenna without their having known him, or at least known _of_ him. And yet it was evident that a writer, who could photograph the life and society of Ravenna as it had been photographed in the book in question must have resided there and lived in the midst of it for some time. But I never was in Ravenna for a longer time than a week in my life.

It was many years after the visit of George Eliot and Mr. Lewes to my house at Ricorboli that I and my wife visited them at The Heights, Witley, in Surrey. I found that George Eliot had grown! She was evidently happier. There was the same specially quiet and one may say harmonious gentleness about her manner and her thought and her ways. But her outlook on life seemed to be a brighter, a larger, and as I cannot doubt, a healthier one. She would no longer, I am well assured, have talked of regretting that she had been born! It would be to give an erroneous impression if I were to say that she seemed to be more in charity with all men, for assuredly I never knew her otherwise. But, if the words may be used, as I think they may be understood, without irreverence, or any meaning that would be akin to blasphemy, she seemed to me to be more in charity with her Creator. The ways of God to man had become more justified to her; and her outlook as to the futurity of the world was a more hopeful one. Of course optimism had with her to be long-sighted! But she seemed to have become reconciled to the certainty that he who stands on a lofty eminence must needs see long stretches of dusty road across the plains beneath him.

Nothing could be more enjoyable than the evenings passed by the _partie carree_ consisting of herself and Lewes, and my wife and myself. I am afflicted by hardness of hearing, which shuts me out from many of the pleasures of society. And George Eliot had that excellency in woman, a low voice. Yet, partly no doubt by dint of an exertion which her kindness prompted, but in great measure from the perfection of her dainty articulation, I was able to hear her more perfectly than I generally hear anybody. One evening Mr. and Mrs. Du Maurier joined us. The Lewes’s had a great regard for Mr. Du Maurier, and spoke to us in a most feeling way of the danger which had then recently threatened the eyesight of that admirable artist. We had music; and Mr. Du Maurier sang a drinking song, accompanying himself on the piano. George Eliot had specially asked for this song, saying, I remember, “A good drinking song is the only form of intemperance I admire!”

I think also that Lewes seemed in higher spirits than when I had been with him at Florence. But this was no more than an additional testimony to the fact that _she_ was happier.

She also was, I take it, in better health, for we had some most delightful walks over the exceptionally beautiful country in the neighbourhood of their house, to a greater extent than she would, I think, have been capable of at Florence.

One day we made a most memorable excursion to visit Tennyson at Black Down. It was the first time I had ever seen him. He walked with us round his garden, and to a point finely overlooking the country below, charmingly varied by cultivated land, meadow and woodland. It was a magnificent day; but as I looked over the landscape I thought I understood why the woods, which one looks down on from a similar Italian height, are called _macchie_–stains, whereas our ordinarily more picturesque language knows no such term and no such image. In looking over a wide-spread Italian landscape one is struck by the accuracy and picturesque truth of the image; but it needs the sun and the light and the atmosphere of Italy to produce the contrast of light and shade which justifies the phrase.

Our friends were evidently _personae gratae_ at the court of the Laureate; and after our walk he gave us the exquisite treat of reading to us the just completed manuscript of _Rizpah_. And how he read it! Everybody thinks that he has been impressed by that wonderful poem to the full extent of the effect that it is capable of producing. They would be astonished at the increase of weird terror which thrills the hearer of the poet’s own recital of it.

He was very good-natured about it. It was explained to him by George Eliot that I should not be able to enjoy the reading unless I were close to him, so he placed me by his side. He detected me availing myself of that position to use my good eyes as well as my bad ears, and protested; but on my appeal _ad misrecordiam_, and assurance that I should so enjoy the promised treat to infinitely greater effect, he allowed me to look over his shoulder as he read. After _Rizpah_ he read the _Northern Cobbler_ to us, also with wonderful effect. The difference between reading the printed lines and hearing them so read is truly that between looking on a black and white engraving and the coloured picture from which it has been taken. Another thing also struck me. The provincial dialect, which, when its peculiarities are indicated by letters, looks so uncouth as to be sometimes almost puzzling, seemed to produce no difficulty at all as he read it, though he in nowise mitigated it in the least. It seemed the absolutely natural and necessary presentation of the thoughts and emotions to be rendered. It was, in fact, a dramatic rendering of them of the highest order.

I remember with equal vividness hearing Lowell read some of his _Biglow Papers_ in the drawing-room of my valued friend Arthur Dexter, of Boston, when there were no others present save him and his mother and my wife and myself. And that also was a great treat; that also was the addition of colour to the black and white of the printed page. But the difference between reading and hearing was not so great as in the case of the Laureate.

When, full of the delight that had been afforded us, we were taking our leave of him, our host laid on us his strict injunctions to say no word to any one of what we had heard, adding with a smile that was half _naif_, half funning, and wholly comic, “The newspaper fellows, you know, would get hold of the story, and they would not do it as well!”

And then our visit to the Lewes’s in their lovely home drew to an end, and we said our farewells, little thinking as we four stood in that porch, that we should never in this world look on their faces more.

The history of George Eliot’s intellect is to a great extent legible in her books. But there are thousands of her readers in both hemispheres who would like to possess a more concrete image of her in their minds–an image which should give back the personal peculiarities of face, voice, and manner, that made up her outward form and semblance. I cannot pretend to the power of creating such an image; but I may record a few traits which will be set down at all events as truthfully as I can give them.

She was not, as the world in general is aware, a handsome, or even a personable woman. Her face was long; the eyes not large nor beautiful in colour–they were, I think, of a greyish blue–the hair, which she wore in old-fashioned braids coming low down on either side of her face, of a rather light brown. It was streaked with grey when last I saw her. Her figure was of middle height, large-boned and powerful. Lewes often said that she inherited from her peasant ancestors a frame and constitution originally very robust. Her head was finely formed, with a noble and well-balanced arch from brow to crown. The lips and mouth possessed a power of infinitely varied expression. George Lewes once said to me when I made some observation to the effect that she had a sweet face (I meant that the face expressed great sweetness), “You might say what a sweet hundred faces! I look at her sometimes in amazement. Her countenance is constantly changing.” The said lips and mouth were distinctly sensuous in form and fulness.

She has been compared to the portraits of Savonarola (who was frightful) and of Dante (who though stern and bitter-looking, was handsome). _Something_ there was of both faces in George Eliot’s physiognomy. Lewes told us in her presence, of the exclamation uttered suddenly by some one to whom she was pointed out at a place of public entertainment–I believe it was at a Monday Popular Concert in St. James’s Hall. “That,” said a bystander, “is George Eliot.” The gentleman to whom she was thus indicated gave one swift, searching look and exclaimed _sotto voce_, “Dante’s aunt!” Lewes thought this happy, and he recognised the kind of likeness that was meant to the great singer of the _Divine Comedy_. She herself playfully disclaimed any resemblance to Savonarola. But, although such resemblance was very distant–Savonarola’s peculiarly unbalanced countenance being a strong caricature of hers–some likeness there was.

Her speaking voice was, I think, one of the most beautiful I ever heard, and she used it _conscientiously_, if I may say so. I mean that she availed herself of its modulations to give thrilling emphasis to what was profound in her utterances, and sweetness to what was gentle or playful. She bestowed great care too on her enunciation, disliking the slipshod mode of pronouncing which is so common. I have several times heard her declare with enthusiasm that ours is a beautiful language, a noble language even to the ear, when properly spoken; and imitate with disgust the short, _snappy_, inarticulate way in which many people utter it. There was no touch of pedantry or affectation in her own measured, careful speech, although I can well imagine that she might have been accused of both by those persons–unfortunately more numerous than could be desired–who seem to take it for granted that _all_ difference from one’s neighbour, and especially a difference in the direction of superiority, must be affected.

It has been thought by some persons that the influence of George Henry Lewes on her literary work was not a fortunate one, that he fostered too much the scientific bent of her mind to the detriment of its artistic richness. I do not myself hold this opinion. I am even inclined to think that but for his companionship and encouragement she might possibly never have written fiction at all. It is, I believe, impossible to over-estimate the degree to which the sunshine of his complete and understanding sympathy and his adoring affection developed her literary powers. She has written something to this effect–perhaps more than once; I have not her biography at hand at this moment for reference–in a letter to Miss Sara Hennell. And no one who saw them together in anything like intimate intercourse could doubt that it was true. As I have said before, Lewes worshipped her, and it is considered a somewhat unwholesome experience to be worshipped. Fortunately the process is not so common as to constitute one of the dangers of life for the average human being! But in George Eliot’s case I really believe the process was not deleterious. Her nature was at once stimulated and steadied by Lewes’s boundless faith in her powers, and boundless admiration for their manifestation. Nor was it a case of sitting like an idol to be praised and incensed. Her own mental attitude towards Lewes was one of warm admiration. She thought most highly of his scientific attainments, whether well foundedly or mistakenly I cannot pretend to gauge with accuracy. But she also admired and enjoyed the sparkling brightness of his talk, and the dramatic vivacity with which he entered into conversation and discussion, grave or gay. And on these points I may venture to record my opinion that she was quite right. I always used to think that the touch of Bohemianism about Lewes had a special charm for her. It must have offered so piquant a contrast with the middle-class surroundings of her early life. I observed that she listened with great complacency to his talk of theatrical things and people. Lewes was fond of talking about acting and actors, and in telling stories of celebrated theatrical personages, would imitate–half involuntarily perhaps–their voice and manner. I remember especially his doing this with reference to Macready.

Both of them loved music extremely. It was a curious, and, to me, rather pathetic study to watch Lewes–a man naturally self-sufficient (I do not use the word in any odious sense), of a combative turn of intellect, and with scarcely any diffidence in his nature–so humbly admitting, and even insisting upon, “Polly’s” superiority to himself in every department. Once when he was walking with my wife in the garden of their house in Surrey, she turned the conversation which had been touching other topics to speak of George Eliot. “Oh,” said Lewes, stopping short and looking at her with those bright eyes of his, “_Your blood be on your own head_! I didn’t begin it; but if you wish to speak of her, _I_ am always ready.” It was this complete candour, and the genuineness of his admiring love for her, which made its manifestations delightful, and freed them from offence.


I have a great many letters from G.H. Lewes, and from George Eliot. Many of the latter are addressed to my wife. And many, especially of those from Lewes, relating as they do mainly to matters of literary business, though always containing characteristic touches, are not of sufficient general interest to make it worth while to transcribe them for publication. In no case is there any word in any of them that would make it expedient to withhold them on any other ground. I might perhaps have introduced them into my narrative as nearly as possible at the times to which chronologically they refer. But it has seemed to me so probable that there may be many readers who may be glad of an opportunity of seeing these letters without feeling disposed to give their time to the rest of these volumes, that I have thought it best to throw them together in this place.

I will begin with one written from Blandford Square, by George Eliot to me, which is of great interest. It bears no date whatever, save that of place; but the subject of it dates it with considerable accuracy.

* * * * *

“DEAR MR. TROLLOPE,–I am very grateful to you for your notes. Concerning _netto di specchio_, I have found a passage in Varchi which decides the point according to _your_ impression.” [Passages equally decisive might be found _passim_ in the old Florentine historians. And I ought to have referred her to them. But as she had altogether mistaken the meaning of the phrase, I had insinuated my correction as little presumptuously as I could.]

“My inference had been gathered from the vague use of the term to express disqualification [_i.e._ NON _netto di specchio_ expressed disqualification]. But I find from Varchi, b. viii. that the _specchio_ in question was a public book, in which the names of all debtors to the _Commune_ were entered. Thus your doubt [no doubt at all!] has been a very useful caveat to me.

“Concerning the Bardi, my authority for making them originally _popolani_ is G. Villani. He says, c. xxxix., ‘_e gia cominciavano a venire possenti i Frescobaldi e Bardi e Mozzi_ ma di piccolo cominciamento.’ And c. lxxxi. ‘_e questi furono le principale case de Guelfi che uscirono di Firenze. Del Sesto d’ Oltr’ Arno, i Rossi, Nerli, e parte de’ Manelli, Bardi, e Frescobaldi de’ Popoloni dal detto Sesto_, case nobili _Canigiani_,’ &c. These passages corrected my previous impression that they were originally Lombard nobles.

[It needs some familiarity with the Florentine chroniclers to understand that the words quoted by no means indicate that the families named were not of patrician origin. “There walked into the lobby with the Radicals, Lord —- and Mr. —-,” would just as much prove that the persons named had not belonged to the class of landowners. But the passage is interesting as showing the great care she took to make her Italian novel historically accurate. And it is to be remembered that she came to the subject absolutely new to it. She would have known otherwise, that the _Case_ situated in the Oltr’ Arno quarter, were almost all noble. That ward of the city was the Florentine _quartier St. Germain_.]

“Concerning the phrase _in piazza_, and _in mercato_, my choice of them was partly founded on the colloquial usage as represented by Sacchetti, whose dialogue is intensely idiomatic. Also _in piazza_ is, I believe, used by the historians (I think even by Macchiavelli), when speaking of popular _turn-outs_. The ellipse took my fancy because of its colloquial stamp. But I gather from your objection that it seems too barbarous in a modern Italian ear. Will you whisper your final opinion in Mr. Lewes’s ear on Monday?

[I do not remember what the ellipse in question was. As regards the use of the phrase _in piazza_ she is perfectly right. The term keeps the same meaning to the present day, and is equivalent in political language to _the street_.]

“_Boto_ was used on similar grounds, and as it is recognised by the _Voc. della, Crusca_, I think I may venture to keep it, having a weakness for those indications of the processes by which language is modified.

[_Boto_ for _voto_ is a Florentinism which may be heard to the present day, though the vast majority of strangers would never hear it, or understand it if they did. George Eliot no doubt met with it in some of those old chroniclers who wrote exactly as not only the lower orders, but the generality of their fellow citizens, were speaking around them. And her use of it testifies to the minuteness of her care to reproduce the form and pressure of the time of which she was writing.]

“Once more thank you, though my gratitude is in danger of looking too much like a lively sense of anticipated favours, for I mean to ask you to take other trouble yet.

“Yours very truly,


* * * * *

The following letter, written from Blandford Square on the 5th July, 1861, is, as regards the first three pages, from him, and the last from her.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR TROLLOPE,–We have now read _La Beata_ [my first novel], and must tell you how charmed we have been with it. _Nina_ herself is perfectly exquisite and individual, and her story is full of poetry and pathos. Also one feels a breath from the Val d’Arno rustling amid the pages, and a sense of Florentine life, such as one rarely gets out of books. The critical objection I should make to it, apart from minor points, is that often you spoil the artistic attitude by adopting a critical antagonistic attitude, by which I mean that instead of painting the thing objectively, you present it critically, _with an eye to the opinions_ likely to be formed by certain readers; thus, instead of relying on the simple presentation of the fact of Nina’s innocence you _call up_ the objection you desire to anticipate by side glances at the worldly and ‘knowing’ reader’s opinions. In a word I feel as if you were not engrossed by your subject, but were sufficiently aloof from it to contemplate it as a spectator, which is an error in art. Many of the remarks are delicately felt and finely written. The whole book comes from a noble nature, and so it impresses the reader. But I may tell you what Mrs. Carlyle said last night, which will in some sense corroborate what I have said. In her opinion you would have done better to make two books of it, one the love story, and one a description of Florentine life. She admires the book very much I should add. Now, although I cannot by any means agree with that criticism of hers, I fancy the origin of it was some such feeling, as I have endeavoured to indicate in saying you are often critical when you should be simply objective.

“We had a pleasant journey home over the St. Gothard, and found our boy very well and happy at Hofwyl, and our bigger boy _ditto_ awaiting us here. Polly is very well, and as you may imagine talks daily of Florence and our delightful trip, our closer acquaintance with you and yours being among the most delightful of our reminiscences.

“Yesterday Anthony dined with us, and as he had never seen Carlyle he was glad to go down with us to tea at Chelsea. Carlyle had read and _agreed_ with the West Indian book, and the two got on very well together; both Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle liking Anthony, and I suppose it was reciprocal, though I did not see him afterwards to hear what he thought. He had to run away to catch his train.

“He told us of the sad news of Mrs. Browning’s death. Poor Browning! That was my first, and remains my constant reflection. When people love each other and have lived together any time they ought to die together. For myself I should not care in the least about dying. The dreadful thing to me would be to live after losing, if I should ever lose, the one who has made life for me. Of course you who all knew and valued her will feel the loss, but I cannot think of anybody’s grief but his.

“The next page must be left for Polly’s postscript, so I shall only send my kindest regards and wishes to Mrs. Trollope and the biggest of kisses to _la cantatrice_” [my poor girl Bice!].

“Ever faithfully yours,


* * * * *

“DEAR MRS. TROLLOPE,–While I am reading _La Beata_ I constantly feel as if Mr. Trollope were present telling it all to me _viva voce_. It seems to me more thoroughly and fully like himself than any of his other books. And in spite of our having had the most of his society away from you” [on our Camaldoli excursion] “you are always part of his presence to me in a hovering aerial fashion. So it seems quite natural that a letter addressed to him should have a postscript addressed to you. Pray reckon it amongst the good you do in this world, that you come very often into our thoughts and conversation. We see comparatively so few people that we are apt to recur to recollections of those we like best with almost childish frequency, and a little fresh news about you would be a welcome variety, especially the news that you had quite shaken off that spine indisposition which was still clinging to you that last morning when we said our good-byes. We have enough knowledge about you and your world to interpret all the details you can give us. But our words about our own home doings would be very vague and colourless to you. You must always imagine us coming to see you and wanting to know as much about you as we can, and like a charming hostess gratify that want. I must thank you for the account of Cavour in _The Athenaeum_, which stirred me strongly. I am afraid I have what _The Saturday Review_ would call ‘a morbid delight in deathbeds’–not having reached that lofty superiority which considers it bad taste to allude to them.

“How is Beatrice, the blessed and blessing? That will always be a history to interest us–how her brown hair darkens, how her voice deepens and strengthens, and how you get more and more delight in her. I need send no separate message to Mr. Trollope, before I say that

“I am always yours, with lively remembrance,


* * * * *

It needed George Eliot’s fine and minute handwriting to put all this into one page of note-paper.

The next letter that came from Blandford Square, dated 9th December, 1861, was also a joint one, the larger portion of which however is from her pen.

* * * * *

“DEAR GOOD PEOPLE,–If your ears burn as often as you are talked about in this house, there must be an unpleasant amount of aural circulation to endure! And as the constant _refrain_ is, ‘Really we must write to them, that they may not altogether slip away from us,’ I have this morning screwed my procrastination to the writing-desk.

“First and foremost let us know how you are, and what are the results of the bathing. Then a word as to the new novel, or any other work, will be acceptable. I lend about _La Beata_ in all good quarters, and always hear golden opinions from all sorts of people. Of course you hear from Anthony.

“Is he prosperous and enjoying his life? The book will have an enormous sale just now; but I fancy he will find more animosity and less friendliness than he expected, to judge from the state of exasperation against the Britisher, which seems to be general.

“We have been pursuing the even baritone–I wish I could say tenor–of our way. My health became seriously alarming in September, so we went off to Malvern for a fortnight; and there the mountain air, exercise, and regular diet set me up, so that I have been in better training for work than I had been for a long while. Polly has not been strong, yet not materially amiss. But as she will add a postscript to this I shall leave her to speak for herself.

“In your (T.A.T.) book huntings, if you could lay your hand on a copy of Hermolaus Barbarus, _Compendium Scientiae Naturalis_, 1553, or any of Telesio’s works, think of me and pounce on them. I was going to bother you about the new edition of Galileo, but fortunately I fell in with the Milan edition cheap, and contented myself with that. Do you know what there is _new_ in the Florentine edition? I suppose you possess it, as you do so many enviable books.

“We heard the other day that Miss Blagden had come to stay in London for the winter, so Polly sent a message to her to say how glad we should be to see her. If she comes she will bring us some account of _casa_ Trollope. When you next pass Giotto’s tower salute it for me; it is one of my dearest Florentines, and always beckoning to us to come back.

“Ever your faithful friend,


* * * * *

She writes:–

* * * * *

“DEAR FRIENDS,–Writing letters or asking for them is not always the way to make one’s memory agreeable, but you are not among those people who shudder at letters, since you _did_ say you would like to hear from us, and let us hear from you occasionally. I have no good news to tell about myself; but to have my husband back again and enjoying his work is quite enough happiness to fall to one woman’s share in this world, where the stock of happiness is so moderate and the claimants so many. He is deep in Aristotle’s _Natural Science_ as the first step in a history of science, which he has for a long while been hoping that he should be able to write. So you will understand his demand for brown folios. Indeed, he is beginning to have a slight contempt for authors sufficiently known to the vulgar to be inserted in biographical dictionaries. Hermolaus Barbaras is one of those distinguished by omission in some chief works of that kind; and we learned to our surprise from a don at Cambridge that _he_ had never heard the name. Let us hope there is an Olympus for forgotten authors.

“Our trial of the water cure at Malvern made us think with all the more emphasis of the possible effect on a too delicate and fragile friend at Florence.” [My wife.] “It really helped to mend George. And as I hope the Florentine hydropathist may not be a quack as Dr.—- at Malvern certainly is, I shall be disappointed if there is no good effect to be traced to ‘judicious packing and sitz baths’ that you can tell us of. Did Beatrice enjoy her month’s dissipation at Leghorn? And is the voice prospering? Don’t let her quite forget us. We make rather a feeble attempt at musical Saturday evenings, having a new grand piano, which stimulates musical desires. But we want a good violin and violoncello–difficult to be found among amateurs. Having no sunshine one needs music all the more. It would be difficult for you to imagine very truthfully what sort of atmosphere we have been living in here in London for the last month–warm, heavy, dingy grey. I have seen some sunshine once–in a dream. Do tell us all you can about yourselves. It seems only the other day that we were shaking you by the hand; and all details will be lit up as if by your very voice and looks. Say a kind word for me sometimes to the bright-eyed lady by whose side I sat in your balcony the evening of the National Fete. At the moment I cannot recall her name. We are going now to the British Museum to read–a fearful way of getting knowledge. If I had Aladdin’s lamp I should certainly use it to get books served up to me at a moment’s notice. It may be better to search for truth than to have it at hand without seeking, but with books I should take the other alternative.

“Ever yours,


* * * * *

The lady in the balcony spoken of in the above letter was Signora Mignaty, the niece of Sir Frederick Adam, whom I had known long years previously in Rome, and who had married Signor Mignaty, a Greek artist, and was (and is) living in Florence. She was, in fact, the niece of the Greek lady Sir Frederick married. I remember her aunt, a very beautiful woman. The niece, Signorina Margherita Albani as she was when I first knew her at eighteen years old in Rome, inherited so much of the beauty of her race that the Roman artists were constantly imploring her to sit for them. She has made herself known in the literary world by several works, especially by a recent book on Correggio, his life and works, published in French.

The next letter from Lewes, written from Blandford Square on the 2nd June, without date of year, but probably 1863, is of more interest to myself than to the public. But I may perhaps be permitted to indulge my vanity by publishing it as a testimony that his previous praise of what I had written was genuine, and not merely the laudatory compliments of a correspondent.

* * * * *

“MY DEAR TROLLOPE,–Enclosed is the proof you were good enough to say you would correct. When am I to return the compliment?

“I have finished _Marietta_. Its picture of Italian life is extremely vivid and interesting, but it is a long way behind _La Beata_ in interest of story. I have just finished one volume of Anthony’s _America_, and am immensely pleased with it–so much so that I hope to do something towards counteracting the nasty notice in the _Saturday_.

“Ever yours faithfully,


* * * * *

The next letter is from Lewes, dated “The Priory, North Bank, Regent’s Park, 20th March, 1864.”–

* * * * *

“MY DEAR TROLLOPE,–My eldest boy, who spends his honeymoon in Florence (is not that sugaring jam tart?), brings you this greeting from your silent but affectionate friends. Tell him all particulars about yourselves, and he will transmit them in his letters to us. First and foremost about the health of your wife, and how this bitter winter has treated her. Next about Bice, and then about yourself.

“We rejoice in the prospect of your _History of Florence_, and I am casting about, hoping to find somebody to review it worthily for the _Fortnightly Review_. By the way, would not you or your wife help me there also! Propose your subjects!

“I hope you will like our daughter. She is a noble creature; and Charles is a lucky dog (his father’s luck) to get such a wife.

“We have been and are in a poor state of health, but manage to scramble on. Charles will tell you all there is to tell. With our love to your dear wife and Bice,

“Believe me, ever faithfully yours,


* * * * *

Shortly after receiving this my wife had a letter from George Eliot, from Venice, dated 15th May, 1864. She writes from the “Hotel de Ville.”

* * * * *

“MY DEAR MRS. TROLLOPE,–I wonder whether you are likely to be at Lake Como next month, or at any other place that we could take on our way to the Alps. It would make the prospect of our journey homeward much pleasanter if we could count on seeing you for a few hours; and I will not believe that you will think me troublesome if I send the question to you. I am rather discontented with destiny that she has not let us see anything of you for nearly three years. And I hope you too will not be sorry to take me by the hand again.

“My ground for supposing it not unlikely that you will be at one of the lakes, is the report I heard from Mr. Pigott, that such a plan was hovering in your mind. My chief fear is that our return, which is not likely at the latest to be later than the middle of June, may be too early for us to find you. We reached Venice three days ago, after a short stay at Milan, and have the delight of finding everything more beautiful than it was to us four years ago. That is a satisfactory experience to us, who are getting old, and are afraid of the traditional loss of glory on the grass and all else, with which melancholy poets threaten us.

“Mr. Lewes says I am to say the sweetest things that can be said with propriety to you, and love to Bice, to whose memory he appeals, in spite of all the friends she has made since he had the last kiss from her.

“I too have love to send to Bice, whom I expect to see changed like a lily-bud to something more definitely promising. Mr. Trollope, I suppose, is in England by this time, else I should say all affectionate regards from us both to him. I am writing under difficulties.

“Ever, dear Mrs. Trollope,

“Very sincerely yours,


* * * * *

Here is another from Lewes, which the post-mark only shows to have been written in 1865:–

* * * * *

“DEAR TROLLOPE,–Thank Signor —- for the offer of his paper, and express to him my regret that in the present crowded state of the _Review_ I cannot find a place for it. Don’t you however run away with the idea that I don t want _your_ contributions on the same ground! The fact is —-‘s paper is too wordy and heavy and not of sufficient interest for our publication; and as I have a great many well on hand, I am forced to be particular. Originally my fear was lest we should not get contributors enough. That fear has long vanished. But _good_ contributions are always scarce; so don’t you fail me!

“We have been at Tunbridge Wells for a fortnight’s holiday. I was forced to ‘cave in,’ as the Yankees say–regularly beat. I am not very flourishing now, but I can go into harness again. Polly has been, and alas! still is, anything but in a satisfactory state. But she is gestating, and gestation with her is always perturbing. I wish the book were done with all my heart.