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SCOTT. - GRILLPARZER.
the material facts) and of place. Otherwise, it would have given me no delight. Who will persuade me, when I reclined upon a mighty tomb, that it did not contain a hero? its very magnitude proved this. Men do not labour over the ignoble and petty dead —and why should not the dead be Homer's dead? The secret of Tom Campbell's defence of inaccuracy in costume and description is, that his Gertrude, &c. has no more locality in common with Pennsylvania than with Penmanmaur. It is notoriously full of grossly false scenery, as all Americans declare, though they praise parts of the poem. It is thus that self-love for ever creeps out, like a snake, to sting any thing which happens, even accidentally, to stumble upon it.
"January 12. 1821.
"The weather still so humid and impracticable, that London, in its most oppressive fogs, were a summer-bower to this mist and sirocco, which has now lasted (but with one day's interval), chequered with snow or heavy rain only, since the 30th of December, 1820. It is so far lucky that I have a literary turn; but it is very tiresome not to be able to stir out, in comfort, on any horse but Pegasus, for so many days. The roads are even worse than the weather, by the long splashing, and the heavy soil, and the growth of the waters.
Read the Poets - English, that is to say out of Campbell's edition. There is a good deal of taffeta in some of Tom's prefatory phrases, but his work is good as a whole. I like him best, though, in his own poetry.
Murray writes that they want to act the Tragedy of Marino Faliero more fools they, it was written for the closet. I have protested against this piece of usurpation, (which, it seems, is legal for managers over any printed work, against the author's will,) and I hope they will not attempt it. Why don't they bring out some of the numberless aspirants for theatrical celebrity, now encumbering their shelves, instead of lugging me out of the library? I have written a fierce protest against any such attempt; but I still would hope that it will not be necessary, and that they will see, at once, that it is not intended for the stage. It is too regular- the time, twenty-four hours-the change of place not frequent-nothing melodramatic- no surprises, no starts, nor trapdoors, nor opportunities for tossing their heads and kicking their heels' - and no love - the grand ingredient of a modern play.
"I have found out the seal cut on Murray's letter. It is meant for Walter Scottor Sir Walter- he is the first poet knighted since Sir Richard Blackmore. But it does not do him justice. Scott's-particularly when he recites is a very intelligent countenance, and this seal says nothing.
"Scott is certainly the most wonderful writer of the day. His novels are a new literature in themselves, and his poetry as good as any if not better (only on an erroneous system)-and only ceased to be so popular, because the vulgar learned were tired of hearing' Aristides called the Just,' and Scott the Best, and ostracised him.
"I like him, too, for his manliness of character, for the extreme pleasantness of his conversation, and his good-nature towards myself, personally. May he prosper! — for he deserves it. I know no reading to which I fall with such alacrity as a work of W. Scott's. I shall give the seal, with his bust on it, to Madame la Comtesse G. this evening, who will be curious to have the effigies of a man so celebrated.
"Read the Italian translation by Guido Sorelli of the German Grillparzer-a devil of a name, to be sure, for posterity; but they must learn to pronounce it. With all the allowance for a translation, and above all, an Italian translation (they are the very worst of translators, except from the ClassicsAnnibale Caro, for instance. - and there, the bastardy of their language helps them, as, by way of looking legitimate, they ape their father's tongue); — but with every allowance for such a disadvantage, the tragedy of Sappho is superb and sublime! There is no denying it. The man has done a great thing in writing that play. And who is he? I know him not; but ages will. "Tis a high intellect.
I must premise, however, that I have read nothing of Adolph Müllner's (the author of Guilt'), and much less of Goethe, and Schiller, and Wieland, than I could wish. I only know them through the medium of English, French, and Italian translations. Of the real language I know absolutely nothing,
except oaths learned from postillions and officers in a squabble. I can swear in German potently, when I like- -'Sacrament
1 Here follows a long passage, already extracted, relative to his early friend, Edward Noel Long. [See antè, p. 31.]
Verfluchter- Hundsfott' and so forth; but I have little less of their energetic conversation.
"I like, however, their women, (I was once so desperately in love with a German woman, Constance,) and al! that I have read, translated, of their writings, and all that I have seen on the Rhine of their country and people—all, except the Austrians, whom I abhor, loathe, and - I cannot find words for my hate of them, and should be sorry to find deeds correspondent to my hate; for I abhor cruelty more than I abhor the Austriexcept on an impulse, and then I am savage-but not deliberately so.
Grillparzer is grand-antique-not so simple as the ancients, but very simple for a modern- too Madame de Staelish, now and then but altogether a great and goodly writer.
"January 13. 1821, Saturday.
"Sketched the outline and Drams. Pers. of an intended tragedy of Sardanapalus, which I have for some time meditated. Took the names from Diodorus Siculus, (I know the history of Sardanapalus, and have known it since I was twelve years old,) and read over a passage in the ninth vol. octavo, of Mitford's Greece, where he rather vindicates the memory of this last of the Assyrians.
Dined news come-the Powers mean to war with the peoples. The intelligence seems positive-let it be so - they will be beaten in the end. The king-times are fast finishing. There will be blood shed like water, and tears like mist; but the peoples will conquer in the end. I shall not live to see it, but I foresee it.
"I carried Teresa the Italian translation of Grillparzer's Sappho, which she promises to read. She quarrelled with me, because I said that love was not the loftiest theme for true tragedy; and, having the advantage of her native language, and natural female eloquence, she overcame my fewer arguments. I believe she was right. I must put more love into Sardanapalus' than I intended. I I speak, of course, if the times will allow me leisure. That if will hardly be a peace-maker.
"January 14. 1821. "Turned over Seneca's tragedies. Wrote the opening lines of the intended tragedy of Sardanapalus. Rode out some miles into
1["On with the horses; off to Canterbury!
Tramp, tramp o'er pebble, and splash, splash
Hurrah! how swiftly speeds the post so merry!
the forest. Misty and rainy. Returneddined- wrote some more of my tragedy. "Read Diodorus Siculus-turned over Seneca, and some other books. Wrote some more of the tragedy. Took a glass of grog. After having ridden hard in rainy weather, and scribbled, and scribbled again, the spirits (at least mine) need a little exhilaration, and I don't like laudanum now as I used to do. So I have mixed a glass of strong waters and single waters, which I shall now proceed to empty. Therefore and thereunto I conclude this day's diary.
The effect of all wines and spirits upon me is, however, strange. It scitles, but it makes me gloomy-gloomy at the very moment of their effect, and not gay hardly ever. But it composes for a time, though sullenly.
January 15. 1821. "Weather fine. Received visit. Rode out into the forest-fired pistols. Returned home dined-dipped into a volume of Mitford's Greece wrote part of a scene of Sardanapalus.' Went out heard some music- heard some politics. More ministers from the other Italian powers gone to Congress. War seems certain—in that case, it will be a savage one. Talked over various important matters with one of the initiated. At ten and half returned home.
"I have just thought of something odd. In the year 1814, Moore (the poet,' par excel lence, and he deserves it) and I were going together, in the same carriage, to dine with Earl Grey, the Capo Politico of the remaining Whigs. Murray, the magnificent (the illustrious publisher of that name), had just sent me a Java gazette-I know not why, or wherefore. Pulling it out, by way of cu riosity, we found it to contain a dispute (the said Java gazette) on Moore's merits and mine. I think, if I had been there, that I could have saved them the trouble of dispu ting on the subject. But, there is fame for you at six and twenty! Alexander had conquered India at the same age; but I doubt if he was disputed about, or his conquests compared with those of Indian Bacchus, at Java.
"It was a great fame to be named with Moore; greater to be compared with him; greatest-pleasure, at least-to be with him; and, surely, an odd coincidence, that we should be dining together while they were
quarrelling about us beyond the equinoctial line.
"Well, the same evening, I met Lawrence the painter, and heard one of Lord Grey's daughters (a fine, tall, spirit-looking girl, with much of the patrician, thorough-bred look of her father, which I dote upon) play on the harp, so modestly and ingenuously, that she looked music. Well, I would rather have had my talk with Lawrence (who talked delightfully) and heard the girl, than have had all the fame of Moore and me put together.
"The only pleasure of fame is that it paves the way to pleasure; and the more intellectual our pleasure, the better for the pleasure and for us too. It was, however, agreeable to have heard our fame before dinner, and a girl's harp after.
["Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude," &c.
As You Like It, act ii. sc. 7.]
2 ["May 11. 1813. Mr., Mrs., and Miss Edgeworth are just come over from Ireland, and are the great objects of curiosity and attention. Miss Edgeworth is a most agreeable person, very natural, clever, and well-informed, without the least pretensions of authorship. She had never been in a large society before, and she was followed and courted by all the persons of distinction in London, with an avidity almost without example."- SIR J. MACKINTOSH: Life, vol. ii. p. 262.]
me faint. I have not been well ever since. I deserve it for being such a fool - but it was provoking-a set of scoundrels! It is, however, but five and twenty pounds.
"January 19. 1821.
"Rode. Winter's wind somewhat more unkind than ingratitude itself, though Shakspeare says otherwise.' At least, I am so much more accustomed to meet with ingratitude than the north wind, that I thought the latter the sharper of the two. I had met with both in the course of the twentyfour hours, so could judge.
Thought of a plan of education for my daughter Allegra, who ought to begin soon with her studies. Wrote a letter-afterwards a postscript. Rather in low spirits — certainly hippish-liver touched will take a dose of salts.
"I have been reading the Life, by himself and daughter, of Mr. R. L. Edgeworth, the father of the Miss Edgeworth. It is altogether a great name. In 1813, I recollect to have met them in the fashionable world of London (of which I then formed an item, a fraction, the segment of a circle, the unit of a million, the nothing of something) in the assemblies of the hour, and at a breakfast of Sir Humphry and Lady Davy's, to which I was invited for the nonce. I had been the lion of 1812: Miss Edgeworth and Madame de Stael, with the Cossack,' to
wards the end of 1813, were the exhibitions of the succeeding year.
"I thought Edgeworth a fine old fellow, of a clarety, elderly, red complexion, but active, brisk, and endless. He was seventy, but did not look fifty-no, nor forty-eight even. I had seen poor Fitzpatrick not very long before-a man of pleasure, wit, eloquence, all things. 3 He tottered but still talked like a gentleman, though feebly. Edgeworth bounced about, and talked loud and long; but he seemed neither weakly nor decrepit, and hardly old.
“He began by telling that he had given Dr. Parr a dressing, who had taken him for
3 [General Richard Fitzpatrick, brother of the Earl of Upper Ossory, and, during forty years, the intimate friend of Fox. He was secretary at war to the ministry of 1783; to which situation he was again appointed in 1806, during the Fox and Grenville administration. He wrote various poetical trifles; and among others a political eclogue entitled "The Lyars," considered by Mr. Matthias the most finished of all the productions of the authors of the Rolliad. (See Pursuits of Literature.) He also composed the epitaph, inscribed on his monument in the church-yard of Sunning Hill, Berks. See Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxvi. p. 99. He died in 1813.]
an Irish bogtrotter,' &c. &c. Now I, who wrote a letter to the know Dr. Parr, and who know (not by expe- Lord Chamberlain to request him to prevent rience for I never should have presumed the theatres from representing the Doge, so far as to contend with him - but by hear-which the Italian papers say that they are ing him with others, and of others) that it is going to act. This is pretty work-what! not so easy a matter to dress him,' thought without asking my consent, and even in opMr. Edgeworth an assertor of what was not position to it! true. He could not have stood before Parr an instant. For the rest, he seemed intelligent, vehement, vivacious, and full of life. He bids fair for a hundred years.1
"He was not much admired in London, and I remember a 'ryghte merrie' and conceited jest which was rife among the gallants of the day, - viz. had been presented a paper for the recall of Mrs. Siddons to the stage, (she having lately taken leave, to the loss of ages, for nothing ever was, or can be, like her,) to which all men had been called to subscribe. Whereupon Thomas Moore, of profane and poetical memory, did propose that a similar paper should be subscribed and circumscribed for the recall of Mr. Edgeworth to Ireland.' ?
"The fact was - every body cared more about her. She was a nice little unassuming 'Jeanie Deans-looking body,' as we Scotch say — and, if not handsome, certainly not ill-looking. Her conversation was as quiet as herself. One would never have guessed she could write her name; whereas her father talked, not as if he could write nothing else, but as if nothing else was worth writing.
"As for Mrs. Edgeworth, I forget -except that I think she was the youngest of the party. Altogether, they were an excellent cage of the kind; and succeeded for two months, till the landing of Madame de
"To turn from them to their works, I admire them; but they excite no feeling, and they leave no love-except for some Irish steward or postillion. However, the impression of intellect and prudence is proand may be useful. 3
1 [Mr. Edgeworth died in 1817, in his seventy-fourth year.]
2 In this I rather think he was misinformed; whatever merit there may be in the jest, I have not, as far as I can recollect, the slightest claim to it.
3 ["In my first enthusiasm of admiration, I thought that Miss Edgeworth had first made fiction useful; but every fiction since Homer has taught friendship, patriotism, generosity, contempt of death. These are the highest virtues; and the fictions which taught them were therefore of the highest, though not of unmixed utility. Miss Edgeworth inculcates prudence, and the many virtues of that family. Are these excellent virtues higher
January 21. 1821. "Fine, clear, frosty day-that is to say, an Italian frost, for their winters hardly get beyond snow; for which reason nobody knows how to skate (or skait) — a Dutch and English accomplishment. Rode out, as usual, and fired pistols. Good shootingbroke four common, and rather small, bottles, in four shots, at fourteen paces, with a common pair of pistols and indifferent powder. Almost as good wafering or shooting-considering the difference of powder and pistol,
- as when, in 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, it was my luck to split walking-sticks, wafers, half-crowns, shillings, and even the eye of a walking-stick, at twelve paces, with a single bullet- and all by eye and calculation; for my hand is not steady, and apt to change with the very weather. To the prowess which I here note, Joe Manton and others can bear testimony; for the former taught, and the latter has seen me do, these feats.
66 Dined — visited came home — read. Remarked on an anecdote in Grimm's Correspondence, which says that 'Regnard et la plupart des poëtes comiques étaient gens bilieux et mélancoliques; et que M. de Voltaire, qui est très gai, n'a jamais fait que des tragedies et que la comédie gaie est le seul genre où il n'ait point réussi. C'est que celui qui rit et celui qui fait rire sont deux hommes fort différens.' — Vol. VI.
'At this moment I feel as bilious as the
best comic writer of them all, (even as Regnard himself, the next to Molière, who has written some of the best comedies in any language, and who is supposed to have committed suicide +,) and am not in spirits to continue my proposed tragedy of Sardanapalus, which I have, for some days, ceased to
or more useful than those of fortitude and benevolence? Certainly not. Where, then, is Miss Edgeworth's merit ? Her merit-her extraordinary merit, both as a moralist and as a woman of genius-consists in her having selected a class of virtues far more difficult to treat as the subject of fiction than others, and which had therefore been left by former writers to her."-SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH: Lafe, vol. ii. p. 42.]
4 [Regnard died in 1709, in his fifty-second year. It has been said that he died of chagrin, nay, that he voluntarily shortened his days; but these reports are contradicted in the Dictionnaire Historique, ed. 1811.]
“To-morrow is my birth-day that is to say, at twelve o' the clock, midnight, i. e. in twelve minutes, I shall have completed thirty and three years of age!!! - and I go to my bed with a heaviness of heart at having lived so long, and to so little purpose.
"It is three minutes past twelve.- "Tis the middle of the night by the castle clock,' and I am now thirty-three!
"Eheu, fugaces, Posthume, Posthume,
but I don't regret them so much for what I have done, as for what I might have done.
"Through life's road, so dim and dirty,
I have dragged to three-and-thirty.
at eight-made the usual visit. Heard of nothing but war,—the cry is still, They come.' The Carbonari seem to have no plan
nothing fixed among themselves, how, when, or what to do. In that case, they will make nothing of this project, so often postponed, and never put in action.
"Came home, and gave some necessary orders, in case of circumstances requiring a change of place. I shall act according to what may seem proper, when I hear decidedly what the Barbarians mean to do. At present, they are building a bridge of boats over the Po, which looks very warlike. A few days will probably show. I think of retiring towards Ancona, nearer the northern frontier; that is to say, if Teresa and her father are obliged to retire, which is most likely, as all the family are Liberals. If not, I shall stay. But my movements will defor myself, pend upon the lady's wishes it is much the same.
"I am somewhat puzzled what to do with my little daughter, and my effects, which are of some quantity and value, and neither of them do in the seat of war, where I think of going. But there is an elderly lady who will take charge of her, and T. says that the Marchese C. will undertake to hold the chattels in safe keeping. Half the city are getting their affairs in marching trim. A pretty Carnival! The blackguards might as well have waited till Lent.
"Dined (damn this pen !)-beef tough there is no beef in Italy worth a curse; unless a man could eat an old ox with the hide on, singed in the sun.
"The principal persons in the events which may occur in a few days are gone out on a shooting party. If it were like a highland hunting,' a pretext of the chase for a grand re-union of counsellors and chiefs, it would be all very well. But it is nothing more or less than a real snivelling, popping, small-shot, water-hen waste of powder, ammunition, and shot, for their own special amusement: a rare set of fellows for a man to risk his neck with,' as Marishall Wells' says in the Black Dwarf.