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gard to whom we shall
What Belton. The age does not like do you think of his poetry? this sort of thing now in its own
Mallett. I do not think it is of poetry, however much it may adthe highest kind, but of its kind it mire it in ancient works. We are is masterly. It is healthy, vigor- introspective, analytic, subjective, ous, and almost epical in its char- and self-conscious, almost to morbidacter; and I cannot see why the ness. The epic and dramatic have world, which never is weary of less charm for us than the repraising Homer as the greatest offlective and speculative. We anatopoets, or among the greatest of mise our feelings and emotions and poets, turns such a cold shoulder motives, and are not satisfied with to Scott, who, in his directness, the natural expression of them in spirit, and vigour, and straightfor- action. We are all Hamlots, and wardness of narrative, resembles speculate and consider too anxiousHomer more than any of the poets ly. Our minds are of our age. The distance between
“Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of them may be great, but their
thought.” methods are very much the same; and had Scott written a thousand Mallett. And yet this is the age years ago in a dead tongue, we of athletics—of hunting, shooting, should never cease to chant his racing, deer-stalking, cricketing, and praises. Just as the Iliad and Odyssey Alpine climbing. We have our were founded on the old ballads of “muscular Christianity”—our love his age, are Scott's romantic poems of sports—our adoration of strength. founded on the old ballads of his. How is it that this finds no response Both are purely objective poets. in our poetry? How is it that of But while this is the acknowledged the thousands who gather at every charm of Homer, it is alleged as a racecourse, whose hearts gallop with defect in Scott. There is a great the horses, and strain to the goal mystery in a dead tongue; and I with pulsing blood, and to whom the sometimes ask myself what we excitement is like intoxication—the should think of Homer if he had great majority prefer in poetry sentiwritten only fifty years ago, and in ment, introspection, nay, even English. Take, for instance, the morbid anatomy of feelings and well-known battle of Flodden-field emotions and passions, to healthy in Marmion.' I defy any one to narrative? One would think that read it without a stir in his blood such persons, rejoicing in action it is so full of fire, spirit, pictur- and feeling the thrill of life, would esqueness, and directness. It car- desire something corresponding to ries you on with it without a flag this in literature. But it would of interest, and as description it is seem they do not. They do not wonderful. No battle in Homer is like Scott's life and stir and vigour: more vivid, nor more true, nor they prefer another kind of thing. more living in its energy. What a They change their minds as they picture, for instance, is that of Mar- do their dress when they come mion's riderless horse
home take off their hunting “Bloodshot his eye, his nostril spread,
pinks, their shooting knickerbockThe loose rein dangling from his head; ers, and heavy shoes, and put on Housing and saddle bloody red,
their dress-coat, patent leather shoes, Lord Marmion's steed rushed by."
and white cravats. Their very voices The very lilt of the metre carries and lives change. Nimrod becomes you on with it.
languid, and Di Vernon changes
her manners with her riding-habit. and his friend Bindo Altovite, Papa, tired with his day's work, under the three-arched balcony that lies on the sofa and sleeps. It is hangs over the Tiber, and I should simply reaction and fashion. not be much surprised to see them
Belton. Do you know where talking there together. Canova Scott lived when he was in Rome? and Thorwaldsen still seem to lin
Mallett. I believe he lived in the ger about the studios where they Palazzo Bernini, at the corner of the wrought their great works. In the Via della Propaganda. So at least night, as I pass the Castel St AnI have been told.
gelo, I see Benvenuto Cellini fightBelton. It is an admirable custom ing on the walls, or slipping down which has lately been introduced from the tower to make his escape into Italy of inserting a tablet in from his disgusting dungeon; and I the outer walls of houses in which almost hear the groans of Beatrice distinguished men have been born, Cenci. or died, or lived for a time, on which Mallett. Ah! it is this that makes the fact is inscribed. It is always Rome so profoundly interesting. interesting to know where great It is truly a city of the dead, and men and women have been born, the spirits of the past haunt it and lived, written, or died.
dwell in it as much as, nay, far more could visit Shakespeare's home with- than, the busy persons of to-day. out feeling nearer to him ; no one You turn no corner without meetcould pass the old Tabard Inn ing them. Voices are in the air whence the pilgrims of the Canter- that whisper to you wherever you bury Tales' set out, without a cer- go-in the street, in the gardens, tain sense of their reality. The places over the lone sweeps of the silent great spirits have inhabited or visit- Campagna—from crumbling tombs, ed seem still to retain dim vestiges castles, and fortresses—from the of them that touch the imagination. arched and ivy-mantled aqueducts I never pass the Nomentan gate, that stretch into the distance—from that I do not see Nero issuing thence the hollowed caverns of the tufa on that fatal day when he fled so galleries, where once the Christians ignominiously to die a coward's hid- from the broken benches of death at the villa of Phaon. I the Colosseum, now so silent-from always meet Cicero and Horace the giant arches of the ruined Baths. as I go down the Sacred Way; Is it the wind that whispers, or the and whenever I drive by the old ghosts of the ages past, as you wanAlbergo del Orso, the shape and der over the grassy slopes, where at figure of Montaigne, who once lived every step you tread upon some within its walls, rises before me. marble fragment of dead magnifiMany and many a day have I seemed cence? And who and what are we to see Alfieri looking out of the that tread these streets of death ? window of the villa Strozzi towards Only to-day's rear of the great army the villa Negroni, where the Coun- that has gone before. Here stand tess of Albany was waiting for him. the ruined dwellings that they once Under the cypresses of the villa inhabited, but where are they? d'Este Tasso has wandered with Where are those imperial figures me, and leaned beside the spilling whose frown was death? Where fountain, while the nightingales the long line of those who charmed sang in the shade. I never cross the ear and the eye with the magic the Bridge of St Angelo that I do of art ? Where the poets and lawnot look for the figures of Raphael givers, the sculptors and painters ?
VOL. CXX.-NO. DCCXXIX.
Where the smiling faces, the grace- sigh. It is a most graceful and ful steps of beauty, that led the tender tribute to one who loved world in their train ? Over the Florence, and who sleeps in its hisgardens that their footsteps pressed toric earth—as pure and noble a the shy lizard slips. Grass and weeds spirit as ever informed this tenegrow in the crevices of the marble ment of clay-as rare genius as pavements which once were swept ever dwelt within this noble city by their rustling robes. Lollia, -I mean Elizabeth Barrett BrownPoppæa, Messalina, charm no more. ing. I quote it from memory, but The song of Virgil and Horace and I think it reads thus : “Qui scrisse Catullus is mute. The fights and e qui morí Elizabeth Barrett Brownfrowns of Nero are over. The ing che in cuor di donna conciliava elaborate hypocrisies of Augustus scienza di dotta e spirito di poeta. are finished. The ornate orations Fece con suo verso aureo annello of Cicero, the stinging satire of fra Italia ed Inghilterra. Pose Tacitus and Juvenal, the lofty stoi questa memoria Firenze grata." cism of Aurelius, all are of the Mallett. It is, as you say, a most past. And yet they still live and graceful and tender tribute, and haunt the places that knew them on she well deserved it. earth, and their forms still rise be- Belton. I have often sought for fore us almost without an evocation the house of Cagliostro, the famous as we wander through the ruined magician, but I have never been streets and houses and villas where able to identify it. He lived, I once they lived and walked. know, at one time in the Piazza di
I was in Florence the other Spagna, and at another in a street day, and as I was strolling through near the Piazza Farnese, but the one of its broad - eaved narrow number I have never been able to streets I came upon a sombre old discover. In both these houses he house, in the walls of which was a lived with his wife, the beautiful marble tablet recording the fact that Lorenza Feliciani, after their return there Dante was born and spent from Paris, where they were engaged the first years of his youth. In in the notorious intrigue of the a moment all else faded from my diamond necklace; and it was in sight—the tide of time swept back the latter of these houses that they -the little boy Dante was before were arrested to be imprisoned in me, looking out of these windows, the Castle St Angelo. playing in these streets-innocent, Mallett. Apropos of Cagliostro's gay, happy, ignorant of the future; magic, there is a curious and littleand then in a moment the vision known legend about a gate in Rome vanished, and I saw the thin wan just beyond the Church of St figure with the hooked nose ; that Maria Maggiore. Here, as the we know so well; and those sad story goes, a celebrated alchymist eyes that had gazed into the horrors and magician was invited to stay of the Inferno looked into mine. by the owner of the house or villa, It was like the sudden lifting of the who hoped to obtain some advan curtain of time, with an instant's tage to himself from his skill in glimpse into the past, which pro- the magical sciences ; but the magi foundly affected me, and then it cian, after long enjoying his hospi fell again.
tality, and making no return for it Belton. There is one inscription suddenly took French leave, leavin: on the Casa Guidi which I always behind him a paper on which wer stop to read, and when I read I written certain cabalistic signs These were inscribed by the owner taken if you believe that the day over the gate in a half-faith that of the magicians is entirely past. they might be efficacious in bring- The magical art is still cultivated, ing him the good fortune he de- though in secrecy; and there are sired, and there they may still be numbers of persons who still study seen to this day, or rather they it, practise it, and have faith in it. were to be seen there when I last So at least I have been assured by passed that way.
But so many
men in whom I cannot but place changes are taking place in that trust, and who have declared to me quarter that it is possible they may that they themselves have attended have been removed. Reumont tells magical séances, and employed the this story, I believe, in his book on formulas of the magical books with Rome—and “ se non è vero, è ben successful results. Certain it is trovato.”
that the Abbé Constant devoted Belton. Have you ever looked up himself to the study of the magical the subject of magic?
arts and occult sciences, and, under Mallett. Yes, a good deal; and the pseudonym of Elephas Levi, very curious is the literature on wrote some remarkable books on this subject. Some of the old the subject, and specially one on writers give you, for instance, com- * La Haute Magie,' which I recomplete formulas to raise spirits of mend to you, if you are curious in various kinds, and seem to have such matters. There is no doubt, had an absolute belief in their effi- too, that a few persons were and cacy. It seems to be pretty clear are his disciples and pupils in that they did have faith in these France, and among them may be invocations ; for it is impossible to mentioned Desbarolles, the author believe that such men as Cardanus of 'Les Mystères de la Main.' I and Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus must confess, however, that after Magnus, Johannes Bodinus, Pietro reading 'La Haute Magie' I was Abana, Hieronymus Fracastorius, not very much enlightened on the Torreblanca, Debris, Pomponatus, subject. A great deal was hinted and and Vairus, and men of that stamp, insinuated and vaguely indicated, should have wilfully endeavoured but comparatively little directly to palm off on the world, with such taught either as to the theory or the calm seriousness, statements which practice of magic.* A very accomthey knew to be lies. At all events plished and distinguished writer who they clearly profess their faith in lately died assured me that he himthe power of man, by magical pro- self, on one occasion, by following cesses, to raise the dead, and wake certain prescribed formulas, evoked spirits by incantation; and various one of the spirits held by those who receipts are given by them to effect believe to be very dangerous—undersuch purposes.
stand me, not by means of any Belton. I suppose that at the medium, but by his own practice; present day no one would believe and that he satisfied himself by this in this. These men flourished in and other experiments that the preignorant ages, when science was in scribed processes were not by any its infancy, and when superstition means delusions or follies.
This was at its height.
same gentleman also told me, when Mallett. You are very much mis. I made a remark similar to yours
Since writing this, we have seen the death of the Abbé Constant announced in the Paris journals.
that I supposed no one in the pre- mon, or even a spirit, after I had sent day believed in magical arts, raised it. I am more used to men that, on the contrary, he knew many and women, and I like them better. who studied it, and believed in it. That is, I like a spirit plus a body “Che volete," as the Italians say.. more than a spirit minus a body. You may make out of this what I talk and act more freely with you choose ; I merely repeat what I them. As for the spirits that are have been told.
said to come up at tables by the Belton. Was he not making a late processes of incantation, they fool of you, and trying to see if he are generally so badly educated, and could hoax you ?
speak such bad grammar, that I Mallett. By no means.
don't care for their company. I very serious; and after giving me could stand any amount of bad book and chapter for what he said, grammar if they would only tell me he finished by drawing my own something that we all of us do not horoscope very cleverly, thus show- know, and that we desire to know. ing that, at all events, he had stu- To rap out by tedious processes died the matter.
feeble commonplaces of morality Belton. What did he prophesy and tawdry statements of future exabout you ?
istence which correspond solely to Mailett. No matter; I shall not the vulgarest notions, or to advise give you the chance of laughing at us as to our conduct in copy-book
phrases of evil communications Belton. You stimulate my curi- corrupting good manners, does not osity. I think I should like to try pay. If what they said were really some of these evocations and incan- worth saying, I would endure even tations, but I am sure nothing would the tediousness of their methods; come of them. Is there any diffi- but I cannot see that they have culty in performing them ?
added to our literature anything Mallett. No; there is no real very valuable. Shakespeare has so difficulty ; but numerous materials terribly degenerated at the table and objects are required which are that I feel sorry to see that he has not to be obtained without trouble lost his mind in losing his body. and expense, and certain arrange- Belton. But you have had strange ments must be made which are experiences, have you not? sometimes not easy ; and though, if Mallett. Very strange experiany one were seriously inclined to ences, which I cannot explain, and try the experiments, any little ob- which nobody has ever been able stacles could be easily overcome, yet to explain, to my satisfaction at it requires a certain patience, seri- least. But all that were of any ousness, determination, and trouble note were physical and material rethat few persons would take in the sults; and I do not accept any vague hope of arriving at results in spiritual explanation of them. But which they have a complete dis- don't let us talk about them now. trust. That is the whole of the They bore me, and they wouldn't matter. I have often thought of amuse you. trying the experiments myself; but Belton. You seem to consider the I have to begin with no faith, and fact of the utter triviality of all that therefore I shrank before the little is written and rapped at tables to be obstacles of trouble, expense, and sufficient proof that it does not time. Besides, I don't know pre- come from spirits. I agree with cisely what I should do with a de- you in thinking that their utter