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'My dear Madame Guiccioli' it begins 'I have learned with deep regret the affliction that has fallen on your domestic circle, an affliction which few are so calculated to feel in all its bitterness as yourself. While I was accusing you of forgetting your friends in England, which would be indeed ungrateful, as they do not cease to remember you with affection, you were in grief, and absorbed too much by the recollection of what you had lost to be blamed for forgetting the friends who still remain. Alas, chère amie, it is not until we have lost those we loved, that we feel all' their value. Memory feeds on grief, and calls up looks and voices that we can see or hear no more on earth, but that brought back by memory, have power to make us forget for a few moments the painful present, in the happier past.
'I do not seek to offer you vain consolation, because I too well know its inefficiency, and you have been too highly tried in affliction, not to have learned its bitter lesson submission.
'I hope we shall see you in England next year; you have left behind you too agreeable an impression, for those who have had the pleasure of knowing you, not to desire to see you here again; and among your friends no one more anxiously desires it than myself. London has been very full, but not very gay this season. Our opera has been brilliant, and offered a galaxy of talent, such as we never had before. Pasta, Malibran, Tamburini, Rubini, Donzelli and a host of minor stars,
with a corps de ballet with Taglioni at their head, who more than redeemed their want of excellency. I did not miss a single night, and was amply repaid by the pleasure I received.
'You are so kind as to wish me to tell you of myself and therefore I must play the egotist. My health has been good and I have written a political novel which appeared in June, with the reception of which I have every reason to be satisfied, and for which I got a good sum.
'I am now coming forth with a very beautiful work called The Book of Beauty; I say beautiful, as it is to be embellished with fine engravings from beautiful female portraits, illustrated by tales in prose and verse, to which many of my literary friends have kindly contributed. You see my dear Countess that I have not been idle since I saw you; but the truth is I like occupation, and find it the best cure for banishing painful retrospections.
'Mr Bulwer set off yesterday for Italy and will visit Rome and Naples. I saw Mr Moore three days ago and he inquired very kindly for you, and I saw Campbell lately who does not forget you. I wish you would send me a little Italian tale in prose or verse for my book. I know you could if you would, but I fear you are too idle. I trust you go on with the Memoirs you promised to write. It would amuse and instruct you, and would be highly gratifying to the world. Pray write to me often and your letters shall be punctually
Before this year ended Landor wrote Lady Blessington a letter burning with indignation. He had evidently heard or read a false rumour of the demise of Gillman in whose house Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived from 1816 till his death, which occurred before that of his benefactor. Therefore Landor writes:
'I find that Coleridge has lost the beneficent friend, at whose house he lived. George the Fourth, the vilest wretch in Europe, gave him one hundred pounds a year, enough, in London, to buy three turnips and half an egg a day. Those men surely were the most dexterous of courtiers, who resolved to show William that his brother was not the vilest, by dashing the half egg and three turnips from the plate of Coleridge. No such action as this is recorded of any administration in the British annals, and I am convinced that there is not a state in Europe, or Asia, in which the paltriest minister or the puniest despot would recommend it. I am sorry that Lord Althorpe who speaks like a gentleman, should be implicated in a charge so serious, though he and his colleagues are likely to undergo the popular vengeance for less grave offences.'
The fact that so justly roused Landor's wrath on this occasion was that 'the permanent honorarium' of a hundred guineas each per annum which George the Fourth assured to ten royal associates of the Society of Literature, was abruptly discontinued on his death. For William the Fourth declared he 'was too poor and had too many nearer claims upon the
THE MOST GORGEOUS LADY BLESSINGTON
privy purse' to keep the promise his brother had made.
It was in the month of August in this year 1833 that a great loss befel Lady Blessington when her house was entered by burglars, who though unable to take her plate pillaged her drawing-room of its valuable ornaments such as antique silver snuff-boxes, seals, goldtopped smelling-bottles, and bric-a-brac which for their associations were beyond price, but whose intrinsic value was estimated at a
thousand pounds. Every effort to recover her property was vain, no trace of the robbers could be discovered. But many years later Lady Blessington received a letter from a convict undergoing penal servitude for life, giving her an account of the robbery and stating for her satisfaction that when the objects stolen were broken up and sold for their gold, silver, or jewels, they fetched seven hundred pounds.
Publication of the Conversations with Lord Byron -The Book of Beauty-The Pains and Pleasures of Editorship-Letters from Bulwer, Disraeli, John Kenyon, Monckton Milnes, Charles Mathews-Landor and His Works-N. P. Willis comes to Town-His Impression of Lady Blessington and Her Friends Bulwer's TalkDisraeli's Correspondence - Henry BulwerLetter from Lady Blessington.
THE Conversations with Lord Byron were published in volume form in the spring of 1834, and created a great deal of attention. A double interest was centred in the book because of its writer and its subject. It was generally considered valuable for the insight it afforded into an individuality so complex as that of the poet: but there were critics who without evidence stated that Byron had not extended to her the friendship she described, and that she had merely drawn on her imagination for the material she supplied. Such assertions, made to disparage the writer and injure her book, failed to have the vicious effect desired; for the Conversations were widely read, much praised, and added to her literary reputation.