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is rarer, of the human heart, the man is glorified who enjoys your approbation; what then if he enjoys your friendship. Often and often in this foggy weather have I trembled lest you should have a return of the bronchitis. But I am credibly informed that the sun has visited London twice in the month of December. Let us hope that such a phenomenon may portend no mischief to the nation.'
Another friend of this man and ardent admirer of his genius was likewise thinking of him at this season of the year. This was Charles Dickens who before leaving England had asked Landor what he most wished to have in remembrance of Italy; when the latter in a sad voice said 'An ivy leaf from Fiesole.' When he visited Florence, Dickens drove out to Fiesole for his sake and asked the driver where was the villa in which the Landor family lived. 'He was a dull dog and pointed to Boccaccio's' wrote Dickens. I didn't believe him. He was so deuced ready that I knew he lied. I went up to the convent which is on a height, and was leaning over a dwarf wall basking in a noble view over a vast range of hill and valley, when a little peasant girl came up and began to point out the localities. Ecco la Villa Landora was one of the first half dozen sentences she spoke. My heart swelled as Landor's would have done when I looked down upon it, nestling among its olive trees and vines, and with its upper windows (there are five above the door) open to the setting sun. Over the centre of these there is another
THE MOST GORGEOUS LADY BLESSINGTON
storey, set upon the housetop like a tower; and all Italy except its sea, is melted down into the glowing landscape it commands. I plucked a leaf of ivy from the convent garden as I looked; and here it is. For Landor, with my love.'
Twenty years later when Landor was no more, this ivy leaf was found treasured amongst his belongings.
Letters from Mrs Sigourney-Mrs S. C. Hall's
Prince and Landor.
LADY BLESSINGTON was still working steadily. The Idler in France, which was an account of her stay in the French capital was published in 1841, and in the following year she brought out a novel, The Lottery of Life. In 1843 came Meredith, regarding which she received a letter from Mrs Sigourney an American poetess who enjoyed great popularity in her own country, and who whilst in England a short time before, had been introduced to Lady Blessington. 'Are you aware' writes Mrs Sigourney 'how much your novel Meredith is admired in these United States? I see it ranked in some of our leading periodicals as "the best work of the noble and talented
authoress." This they mean as high praise, since your other productions have been widely and warmly commended. We are, as you doubtless know, emphatically a reading people.
'Our magazines and many of the works that they announce go into the humble dwelling of the manufacturer, into the brown hand of the farmer, into the log-hut of the emigrant who sees around him the dark forms of the remnant of our aboriginal tribes, and hears the murmurs of the turbid Missouri, perhaps the breaking billows of the Pacific.
'I have recently become interested for the present year in one of those periodicals published for ladies in New York, which announces two thousand subscribers and assumes to have ten times that number of readers. Might I presume to ask of you so great a favour as to send in your next letter to me any scrap of poetry for it which you may happen to have by you. I am sure it would greatly delight the publisher thus to be permitted to place your name upon its pages; but if I have requested anything inconvenient or improper please to forgive it.
'I write this with one of the pens from the tasteful little writing-box you were good as to send me, and repeat my thanks for that gift so acceptable in itself and so valued as from your hand.'
A few months later the same writer sends her thanks to Lady Blessington 'for the elegant copy of Heath's Book of Beauty,
which derives its principal interest in my view from your supervision.
'I felt quite humble at the tameness and unappropriateness of my own little poem, and the more so from the circumstance that the omission of one of the lines, at the close of the fifth stanza, deprives it both of rhythm and meaning....
'I was sorry to see in the public papers that our friend Mr N. P. Willis had suffered from ill health. I trust, from the naïveté of his public letters, that he is quite well again. We consider him as one of our most gifted writers, and of course follow all his movements with interest. It gave me pleasure to be informed by you of the successful enterprise of Mr and Mrs S. C. Hall. They are excellent people, and I rejoice in their prosperity. Mrs Hall showed me much friendship when I was in your country, which I shall never forget.
'Among my obligations to her, I remember my delightful call at Gore House, and the first sight of yourself and your beautiful nieces, a combination of imagery which has lost none of its freshness or fascination by the lapse of time.'
Mrs S. C. Hall was a constant contributor to Lady Blessington's annuals and a frequent afternoon caller at Gore House, of whose mistress she would hear no ill word spoken; a rare virtue in one of her sex. 'I had no means of knowing' Mrs Hall once wrote 'whether what the world said of this most