Saturday, February 28, 2009

end of a journal

Byron's Journal of 1821 ends with his entry of February 27, 1821. He stopped after filling up one small book of blank pages and making one entry in another. Three months later, beginning a new sort of commonplace book or daybook, he explained:
1 OCTOBER 15, 1821 — MAY 18, 1822.

Ravenna, May 1st 1821.

AMONGST various journals, memoranda, diaries, etc., which I have kept in the course of my living, I began one about three months ago, and carried it on till I had filled one paper-book (thinnish), and two sheets or so of another. I then left off, partly because I thought we should have some business here, and I had furbished up my arms, and got my apparatus ready for taking a turn with the Patriots, having my drawers full of their proclamations, oaths, and resolutions, and my lower rooms of their hidden weapons of most calibres; and partly because I had filled my paper book. But the Neapolitans have betrayed themselves and all the World, and those who would have given their blood for Italy can now only give her their tears.

Some day or other, if dust holds together, I have been enough in the Secret (at least in this part of the country) to cast perhaps some little light upon the atrocious treachery which has replunged Italy into Barbarism. At present I have neither the time nor the temper. However, the real Italians are not to blame merely the scoundrels at the Heel of the Boot, which the Hun now wears, and will trample them to ashes with for their Servility.

I have risked myself with the others here, and how far I may or may not be compromised is a problem at this moment: some of them like "Craigengelt" would "tell all and more than all to save themselves;" but, come what may, the cause was a glorious one, though it reads at present as if the Greeks had run away from Xerxes.

Happy the few who have only to reproach themselves with believing that these rascals were less rascaille than they proved. Here in Romagna the efforts were necessarily limited to preparations and good intentions, until the Germans were fairly engaged in equal warfare, as we are upon their very frontiers without a single fort, or hill, nearer than San Marino. Whether "Hell will be paved" with those "good intentions," I know not; but there will probably be good store of Neapolitans to walk upon the pavement, whatever may be its composition. Slabs of lava from their mountain, with the bodies of their own damned Souls for cement, would be the fittest causeway for Satan's Corso.

But what shall I write? another Journal? I think not. Anything that comes uppermost and call it "my Dictionary."

Notes on the text:

MY DICTIONARY - DETACHED THOUGHTS - In this and previous editions copious extracts have been made from Byron's Detached Thoughts. But the original manuscript is here, for the first time, given in its entirety. The volume bears the inscription "Paper Book of G.G.B, L.d B — . Ravenna, 1821." (Prothero's note)

the Neapolitans have betrayed themselves and all the World - Pietro Orsi tells the story succinctly:
Napoleon had predicted:
Italy, shut up within her own natural boundaries and separated from the rest of Europe by the sea and by lofty mountains, seems destined to form a great and important nation. . . . Unity of language, customs and literature will lead, in the more or less distant future, to a union of the inhabitants under one single government. . . . Although Rome lacks many qualities that are desirable in the capital of a great country, it is yet beyond doubt that the Italians will some day make Rome the seat of their government and the metropolis of their State.
But in the attainment of that ideal, which appeared as a dream to the minds of the elect, what alternations of hope, and grief, and happiness!

The mass of the nation, especially the peasants, were still too ignorant to feel any enthusiasm about the glorious records of the past, or to understand the great ideas of liberty and independence. They took no interest in politics, and remained in great part unaffected by the national movement. Most of the aristocracy also were either indifferent or hostile, for they saw in the new revolution the certain loss of those few privileges which they had regained at the Restoration, and which they were disinclined to sacrifice to sentimental aspirations. Only the more intelligent and more cultured among them, understanding that a political transformation was by this time a necessity, decided to give it their support. But the preponderant part in the Italian Revival was taken by the bourgeoisie—this new social class which was just developing while fresh aspirations diffused themselves through Italy, and which ended by becoming completely imbued with them.

The first open signs of hostility to the restored regime came from the ranks of the army. During. the Napoleonic period—that continuous whirlwind of war—many young men who felt the exuberance of life had ardently adopted the career of arms as one that offered means of rising in the world and of satisfying every ambition. These young officers felt themselves stifled by the general torpor that characterized the life of Europe during the Restoration —
Questo secol morte, al quale incombe
Tanta nebbia di tedio,
[This dead era, over which broods
an immense fog of ennui]
as Leopardi described it in his poem To Angelo Mai, written in the early days of 1820.

Though many people were discontented with the administration, they had no legal means of opposing it or of trying to make the governments change their methods. They could not even express their opinions openly, for that would certainly have led to their arrest. The one course that offered any hope of change was the forming of secret societies which might become strong enough to impose their wishes on the governments.

Of these secret societies the most powerful was that of the Carbonari. To this day its origins are involved in obscurity. Perhaps it was an offshoot of the Freemasons. Under the rule of Joachim Murat, it was firmly rooted in the Kingdom of Naples; after the return of the Bourbons it spread still more widely, especially among the ranks of the army.

The early triumph of the Spanish revolution of 1820 made a deep impression in Naples, a region linked to Spain by so many memories and affinities. The leaders of the Carbonari now decided to act. On July 2, 1820, in the little town of Nola at the foot of Vesuvius, two sub-lieutenants (Morelli and Silvati) set on foot the insurrection. Their demand was that the King should grant a constitution. Followed by little more than a hundred soldiers, they went out from Nola and advanced on Avellino. The governor, Colonel de Conciliis, was himself a Carbonaro. After some hesitation he joined them, with the little garrison that he commanded, and moved towards the capital. Meanwhile in several provinces the Liberals were raising their heads and showing themselves favourable to the insurrection. On the night of July 5th, General Guglielmo Pepe, fearing arrest because he was widely known as a Liberal, left Naples and put himself at the head of the insurgents. At once the insurrection assumed such proportions in the capital itself that King Ferdinand, fearing the loss of his throne, granted the constitution (July 6th). Never was victory more easily and swiftly gained.

But the erection of a constitutional government in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies alarmed the Powers of the Holy Alliance, and especially Austria, who saw the tranquillity of her Italian dominions threatened. In order to get authority for armed intervention, Austria called together a Congress at Laybach, the capital of Carniola, and invited to it also King Ferdinand I., whom she knew to be desirous of restoring absolutism. At Laybach, in January, 1821, the fate of Naples was decided. The Holy Alliance, declaring that it had the right and the duty of preserving peace in Europe, and that the condition of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies threatened the security of all governments, directed an Austrian army to enter Neapolitan territory and restore order. On his part, Ferdinand I. wrote to Naples inviting his subjects to welcome amicably the troops of his faithful ally, the Emperor Francis I. of Austria.

The Neapolitan Parliament, which no longer trusted the King, thought fit to declare that no credence should be attached to his words, since he was not free amongst the sovereigns of the North; and it resolved to defend the Kingdom against the Austrian invasion. But nothing was ready. The ministry was largely made up of weak and unreliable men. The delusive views of men who were unconscious of the gravity of the situation prevailed in Parliament and in the newspaper press. The army was disorganized; its leaders were out of harmony, its soldiers lacked discipline. General Guglielmo Pepe, at the head of ten thousand men, faced the Austrians at Rieti on March 7, 1821. He was defeated, and the greater part of his troops dispersed, carrying discouragement into all the provinces. Many Liberals fled or hid themselves. The Austrian troops advanced on Naples without meeting further opposition; on March 23, 1821, they entered the capital and restored the absolute monarchy. In Sicily, too, all opposition was stifled.
the atrocious treachery - Byron probably means that the Neapolitan Carbonari first encouraged the northern Carbonari cells to resist the Austrians, but then gave them no support and made their (futile) stand much farther south.

some of them like "Craigengelt" would "tell all and more than all to save themselves" - Neither Byron nor his editors reveals the meaning of this. Craigengelt is a place in Austria.

as if the Greeks had run away from Xerxes - The small band of Greek defenders famously did not run from a vast Persian army under Xerxes. As wikipedia reports:
At the Battle of Thermopylae, a small force of warriors, 300 Spartans, and 1000 other Greeks, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, resisted the much larger Persian forces, but were ultimately defeated. ... After Thermopylae, Athens was captured and the Athenians and Spartans were driven back to their last line of defense at the Isthmus of Corinth and in the Saronic Gulf. The delay caused by the Spartans allowed Athens to be vacated.
rascaille - The term is French for a low-life, a member of the the despicable scum of society.

Corso - Italian for course, way, race; in this case probably something like a boulevard.

View Larger Map

Some sources:

The Works of Lord Byron

Cavour and the Making of Modern Italy, 1810-1861 By Pietro Orsi (1914)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Here strew sweet flowers

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 25. 1821.

Came home — my head aches — plenty of news, but too tiresome to set down. I have neither read nor written, nor thought, but led a purely animal life all day. I mean to try to write a page or two before I go to bed. But, as Squire Sullen says, 'My head aches consumedly: Scrub, bring me a dram!' Drank some Imola wine, and some punch.

Log-book continued.

February 27. 1821.

I have been a day without continuing the log, because I could not find a blank book. At length I recollected this.

Rode, &c. — dined—wrote down an additional stanza for the 5th canto of D.J. which I had composed in bed this morning. Visited l'Amica. We are invited, on the night of the Veglione (next Domenica) with the Marchesa Clelia Cavalli and the Countess Spinelli Rusponi. I promised to go. Last night there was a row at the ball, of which I am a 'socio.' The Vice-legate had the imprudent insolence to introduce three of his servants in masque — without tickets, too! and in spite of remonstrances. The consequence was, that the young men of the ball took it up, and were near throwing the Vice-legate out of the window. His servants, seeing the scene, withdrew, and he after them. His reverence Monsignore ought to know, that these are not times for the predominance of priests over decorum. Two minutes more, two steps farther, and the whole city would have been in arms, and the government driven out of it.

Such is the spirit of the day, and these fellows appear not to perceive it. As far as the simple fact went, the young men were right, servants being prohibited always at these festivals.

Yesterday wrote two notes on the 'Bowles and Pope' controversy, and sent them off to Murray by the post. The old woman whom I relieved in the forest (she is ninety-four years of age) brought me two bunches of violets. 'Nam vita gaudet mortua floribus,' I was much pleased with the present. An English woman would have presented a pair of worsted stockings, at least, in the month of February. Both excellent things; but the former are more elegant. The present, at this season, reminds one of Gray's stanza, omitted from his elegy: —
Here scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen, are showers of violets found;
The red-breast loves to build and warble here,
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.
As fine a stanza as any in his elegy. I wonder that he could have the heart to omit it.

Last night I suffered horribly — from an indigestion, I believe. I never sup — that is, never at home. But, last night, I was prevailed upon by the Countess Gamba's persuasion, and the strenuous example of her brother, to swallow, at supper, a quantity of boiled cockles, and to dilute them, not reluctantly, with some Imola wine. When I came home, apprehensive of the consequences, I swallowed three or four glasses of spirits, which men (the venders) call brandy, rum, or hollands, but which Gods would entitle spirits of wine, coloured or sugared. All was pretty well till I got to bed, when I became somewhat swollen, and considerably vertiginous. I got out, and mixing some soda-powders, drank them off. This brought on temporary relief. I returned to bed; but grew sick and sorry once and again. Took more soda-water. At last I fell into a dreary sleep. Woke, and was ill all day, till I had galloped a few miles. Query — was it the cockles, or what I took to correct them, that caused the commotion? I think both. I remarked in my illness the complete inertion, inaction, and destruction of my chief mental faculties. I tried to rouse them, and yet could not — and this is the Soul!!! I should believe that it was married to the body, if they did not sympathise so much with each other. If the one rose, when the other fell, it would be a sign that they longed for the natural state of divorce. But as it is, they seem to draw together like post-horses.

Let us hope the best — it is the grand possession.

Notes on the text:

Imola wine - A local wine. Today, the Imola region produces a variety of sparkling and still, white and red wines.

Log-book continued - As you can tell from the next line, Byron begins a new note book.

5th canto of D.J. - Byron wrote the first five cantos of his famous poem, Don Juan, while in Venice and Ravenna, between 1818 and 1820. The first canto was published in 1818, the second during the winter of 1818-19, the next three came out in August 1821. The stanza is number 158.
Thus in the East they are extremely strict,
And Wedlock and a Padlock mean the same;
Excepting only when the former's pick'd
It ne'er can be replaced in proper frame;
Spoilt, as a pipe of claret is when prick'd:
But then their own Polygamy's to blame;
Why don't they knead two virtuous souls for life
Into that moral centaur, man and wife?
l'Amica - Countess Teresa Guiccioli, his mistress.

the night of the Veglione (next Domenica) - Veglione is Italian for a ball, or dance; Domenica is Sunday.

socio - In this context is means a kind of official: a member of the sponsoring society.

Vice-legate - This was Cardinal Domenico Carafa Della Spina di Traetto, represenative of the Papal government in Ravenna.

the 'Bowles and Pope' controversy - Byron was defending the reputation of Alexander Pope against attacks by the English clergyman and poet, William Lisle Bowles.

- The is the epitaph, written by the 17th c. English poet, Abraham Cowley. The full stanza in English reads:
Here strew sweet flowers, and first the short-lived Rose, —
While still the Bard's warm ashes linger near;
Yes, strew them whilst the lambent flame still glows,
Ere yet sweet-scented garlands deck his bier.
his elegy - Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard by Thomas Gray.

I wonder that he could have the heart to omit it - The reason given is that the lines make too long a parenthesis at this point in the poem.

Countess Gamba - This is Theresa Guiccioli. Gamba was her family name before marriage. Although formally separated from her husband, she could never be divorced from him.

{Abraham Cowley; source webexhibits on the ode}

The Beaux' Stratagem, by George Farquhar
Extract from ACT II., SCENE I.

Enter Squire Sullen.

Squire Sul. My head aches consumedly.

Mrs. Sul. Will you be pleased, my dear, to drink tea with us this morning? it may do your head good.

Squire Sul. No.

Dor. Coffee, brother?

Squire Sul. Psha!

Mrs. Sul. Will you please to dress, and go to church with me? the air may help you.

Squire Sul. Scrub! [Calls.

Enter Scrub.

Scrub. Sir!

Squire Sul. What day o' th' week is this?

Scrub. Sunday, an't please your worship.

Squire Sul. Sunday! bring me a dram; and d'ye hear, set out the venison-pasty, and a tankard of strong beer upon the hall-table, I'll go to breakfast [Going.

Dor. Stay, stay, brother, you shan't get off so; you were very naught last night, and must make your wife reparation; come, come, brother, won't you ask pardon?

Squire Sul. For what?

Dor. For being drunk last night.

Squire Sul. I can afford it, can't I?

Mrs. Sul. But I can't, sir.

Squire Sul. Then you may let it alone.

Some sources:

Works (Prothero edition).

Life of Lord Byron, With His Letters And Journals, Vol. 5 (Moore edition).

The Life, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, complete in one volume (Moore edition)

Works; with his letters and journals, and his life; Vol. 16 (Moore edition)

A Compendium of English Literature, by Charles Dexter Cleveland

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a bungled rebellion

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 24, 1821.

Rode, &c. as usual. The secret intelligence arrived this morning from the frontier to the Ci. is as bad as possible. The plan has missed — the Chiefs are betrayed, military, as well as civil — and the Neapolitans not only have not moved, but have declared to the P. government, and to the Barbarians, that they know nothing of the matter!!!

Thus the world goes; and thus the Italians are always lost for lack of union among themselves. What is to be done here, between the two fires, and cut off from the Northern frontier, is not decided. My opinion was, — better to rise than be taken in detail; but how it will be settled now, I cannot tell. Messengers are despatched to the delegates of the other cities to learn their resolutions.

I always had an idea that it would be bungled; but was willing to hope, and am so still. Whatever I can do by money, means, or person, I will venture freely for their freedom; and have so repeated to them (some of the Chiefs here) half an hour ago. I have two thousand five hundred scudi, better than five hundred pounds, in the house, which I offered to begin with.

Notes to the text:

have declared to the P. government - Byron refers to the Papal government, the rulers of the Papal States. The barbarians are the Austrian army under General Frimont.

have declared to the P. government, and to the Barbarians, that they know nothing - There are a couple of reasons why the Neapolitan Carbonaris might have distanced themselves from the Carbonari in the Papal States. Most likely they recognized their inability to fight the Austrian army that far north. The lines of communication and supply would be to long and they suffered from disunity, disorganization, lack of popular support, and a lack of financial resources.

{General Frimont, leader of the invading Austrian army; source: Austro-Hungarian Land Forces 1848-1918}

Some sources:

Life of Lord Byron, Vol. 5 (Moore edition)

Works of Lord Byron (Prothero edition)

Monday, February 23, 2009

when the opportunity offers

From the Journals of Lord Byron:
February 23, 1821.

Almost ditto with yesterday — rode, &c. — visited — wrote nothing — read Roman History.

Had a curious letter from a fellow, who informs me that the Barbarians are ill-disposed towards me. He is probably a spy, or an impostor. But be it so, even as he says. They cannot bestow their hostility on one who loathes and execrates them more than I do, or who will oppose their views with more zeal, when the opportunity offers.


Life of Lord Byron, With His Letters And Journals, Vol. 5 (Moore edition)

The Works of Lord Byron (Prothero edition)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

why, how now, saucy Tom

No entry in Lord Byron's journal this date, but there is a letter to his friend, the Irish poet, Thomas Moore
Ravenna, February 22. 1821.

As I wish the soul of the late Antoine Galignani to rest in peace, (you will have read his death, published by himself, in his own newspaper,) you are requested particularly to inform his children and heirs, that of their 'Literary Gazette,' to which I subscribed more than two months ago, I have only received one number, notwithstanding I have written to them repeatedly. If they have no regard for me, a subscriber, they ought to have some for their deceased parent, who is undoubtedly no better off in his present residence for this total want of attention. If not, let me have my francs. They were paid by Missiaglia, the Wenetian bookseller. You may also hint to them that when a gentleman writes a letter, it is usual to send an answer. If not, I shall make them 'a speech,' which will comprise an eulogy on the deceased.

We are here full of war, and within two days of the seat of it, expecting intelligence momently. We shall now see if our Italian friends are good for any thing but 'shooting round a corner,' like the Irishman's gun. Excuse haste, — I write with my spurs putting on. My horses are at the door, and an Italian Count waiting to accompany me in my ride.

Yours, &c.

P.S. Pray, amongst my letters, did you get one detailing the death of the commandant here? He was killed near my door, and died in my house.


To the air of 'How now, Madame Flirt,' in the Beggars' Opera.

BOWLES. Why, how now, saucy Tom,
If you thus must ramble,
I will publish some
Remarks on Mr. Campbell.
CAMPBELL. Why, how now, Billy Bowles,
&c. &c. &c.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

a general and immediate rise of the whole nation

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 21, 1821.

As usual, rode — visited, &c. Business begins to thicken. The Pope has printed a declaration against the patriots, who, he says, meditate a rising. The consequence of all this will be, that, in a fortnight, the whole country will be up. The proclamation is not yet published, but printed, ready for distribution. * * sent me a copy privately — a sign that he does not know what to think. When he wants to be well with the patriots, he sends to me some civil message or other.

For my own part, it seems to me, that nothing but the most decided success of the Barbarians can prevent a general and immediate rise of the whole nation.

Notes to the text:

The Pope has printed a declaration against the patriots - The declaration appeared in September.

* * sent me a copy privately - This might have been Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, secretary of state to Pope Pius VII. He obtained independence for the Papal States from the allied powers at the fall of Napoleon and fiercely defended it thereafter. As defacto ruler of these states on behalf of the Pope, he effected government reforms including abolition of aristocratic privileges, enactment of a new code of laws, and improvement to the system of education. Antagonistic to the Carbonari, he was at least partly responsible for the Papal Bull that Byron mentions, but he also opposed the expansion of Austrian and other foreign influence in the Papal States. His opposition to both sides in the revolution of the Carbonari resulted in an uneasy neutrality. This may be the reason why he might send Byron a copy of the draft Bull and why Byron might say he was uncertain about it. He may have felt that the Bull would be counter productive, as Byron suggests, in stimulating a general rising ('the whole country will be up'). However, it's also likely that he did not wish the Austrians to crush the Carbonari if that meant they would then effectively take over the Papal States. The Pope had no army with which to oppose them.

{El Cardenal Ercole Consalvi (1757-1824), Mezzotinta de Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830),
source: El Instituto Napoleónico México-Francia}

Some sources:

Life of Lord Byron, With His Letters And Journals, Vol. 5, ed. by Thomas Moore.

The History of the Papacy in the XIXth Century By Fredrik Kristian Nielsen

The Catholic Encyclopedia By Charles George Herbermann

Friday, February 20, 2009

a fancy dress dinner with an awful theme

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 20. 1821.

The news of the day are, that the Neapolitans are full of energy. The public spirit here is certainly well kept up. The 'Americani' (a patriotic society here, an under branch of the 'Carbonari') give a dinner in the Forest in a few days, and have invited me, as one of the Ci. It is to be in the Forest of Boccacio's and Dryden's 'Huntsman's Ghost;' and, even if I had not the same political feelings, (to say nothing of my old convivial turn, which every now and then revives,) I would go as a poet, or, at least, as a lover of poetry. I shall expect to see the spectre of 'Ostasio degli Onesti' (Dryden has turned him into Guido Cavalcanti — an essentially different person, as may be found in Dante) come 'thundering for his prey' in the midst of the festival. At any rate, whether he does or no, I will get as tipsy and patriotic as possible.

Within these few days I have read, but not written.

Notes on the text:

as one of the Ci - Ci is Byron's abbreviation for the Carbonari.

Boccacio's and Dryden's 'Huntsman's Ghost - The story concerns a woman who refuses to marry her suitor. Pursued as if prey by the suitor, as huntsman, she is killed and her heart and intestines are fed to his dogs.

Ostasio degli Onesti - The story appears in Novel VIII of The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio. The name in Boccaccio is Nastagio, not Ostasio. Here is the summary given at beginning of the work:
Nastagio degli Onesti, loving a damsel of the Traversari family, by lavish expenditure gains not her love. At the instance of his kinsfolk he hies him to Chiassi, where he sees a knight hunt a damsel and slay her and cause her to be devoured by two dogs. He bids his kinsfolk and the lady that he loves to breakfast. During the meal the said damsel is torn in pieces before the eyes of the lady, who, fearing a like fate, takes Nastagio to husband.
There is a local connection since both Nastagio and the woman he wishes to marry live in Ravenna.

my old convivial turn - Byron probably refers to his riotous life as a libertine while living in Venice.

Dryden has turned him into Guido Cavalcanti - In his translation of the Boccaccio tale: THEODORE AND HONORIA.

as may be found in Dante - Guido Cavalcanti was a poet and close friend of Dante.

come 'thundering for his prey' - Byron probably refers to the feast at which the woman who refused to wed is subjected to a vicious display as shown in the third of the three paintings reproduced below.

{The four panels conveying The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti, attributed to by Sandro BOTTICELLI. Caption: In the 1480s Botticelli gained commissions from the families in high society. Increasingly they chose classical themes for the luxurious decoration of their town houses, but they also included some from contemporary literature. In order to be able to carry out his multiple commissions, Botticelli had to work together with other painters as well as members of his own workshop. The four-part Nastagio degli Onesti cycle, Botticelli's reworking of a novella in Boccaccio's Decameron, was produced with the aid of Bartolomeo di Giovanni, an artist who had also worked for Ghirlandaio. Nastagio degli Onesti, a knight from Ravenna, whose beloved initially refused to marry him, finally weds her after all. First of all, however, he must remind her of the eternal agony in hell of another merciless woman, one who had also refused marriage, her rejected lover had to pursue her until he had caught up with her, killed her, torn out her heart and intestines and fed them to his dogs. Source:}

Some sources:

Life of Lord Byron, With His Letters And Journals, Vol. 5 (Thomas Moore, ed.)

The Decameron By Giovanni Boccaccio

The Poetical Works of John Dryden By John Dryden

La historia de Nastagio degli Onesti

The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti by Sandro BOTTICELLI

Inferno, Circle 6, canto 10, by Dante

Angelina and Sarah Grimke

Angelina Grimke was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on this day in 1805. She and her older sister Sarah are famous anti-slavery advocates and early supporters of women's rights in America. An article from 1913 in a Philadelphia Quaker newspaper, The Friend, contains this brief description of them:
They were daughters of a prominent wealthy Judge in South Carolina, brought up in a home of luxury where every want was ministered to by slaves; but at the death of their father they felt it right to manumit the slaves that fell to their lot in the settling of the estate, and to seek a home in the North. At great pecuniary sacrifice they did this, and as Philadelphia was the place they selected, it is no wonder that Friends were the first people to notice them, and, in return, that they should be drawn to the Society of which their benefactors were members.
Lucy Stone wrote an eloquent appreciation of Angelina's life as an obituary in 1880. Published in the Woman's Journal, which Stone edited, it was reprinted in a Philadelphia Quaker paper, Friends' Intelligencer. Worth reading in full, it is copied below.*

Visiting New York in 1841, the English Quaker, Joseph Sturge, recorded a visit with them:
Angelina Grimke Weld, and her sister, Sarah Grimke, were natives of South Carolina, the daughters of a distinguished Judge of that State; for several years they resided in Philadelphia. Having long felt a deep interest in the condition of the slaves, in the year 1837 they, in accordance with what they believed to be a sense of religious duty, visited New York and New England, to plead the cause of those, with whose sorrows, degradation, and cruel sufferings, they had been familiar in their native State. They are evidently women of superior endowments, kind-hearted and energetic, and still retain something of the warmth and fervour of character peculiar to the South.[1]
A contemporary diarist, Pliny Earle, described the two sisters in 1837:
They are very intelligent and capable, and very much devoted to the abolition cause. Angelina takes the lead in public estimation. She is the best rhetorician, has the best person and voice, with a very imposing manner, and is considered eloquent. S. J. May, in speaking of one of her lectures, says he "never before heard such eloquence from human lips." Yet we were better pleased with Sarah. Her mind is naturally superior to Angelina's, and has been better disciplined. Her feelings, also, have been more disciplined; and that of itself has an important influence on character.
He also gives an instance of their success in opposing the Calvinist clergy of Massachusetts:
The First Day, on the evening of which Angelina was to give her first lecture, Woodbridge, minister of the Union Society, exhorted his hearers, as they loved religion, as they loved him, and by the most solemn obligations which rest upon Christians, not to violate their duty and their principles so much as to go and hear those who trampled under foot that Scripture which declares that a woman is not allowed to be heard in the church. Yet that very evening it is said that both his deacons and a great portion of his church members went to hear her, and I now hear that only four of his church members approve his views on the slave question. The walls of prejudice are evidently giving way. Abolition is looked upon, among Friends, with very different eyes from what it formerly was. An Indiana yearly meeting has recently advised its members, individually, to aid other Christians engaged in the work of anti-slavery.
The Pastoral Letter, an 1837 poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, expresses outrage at the clerical opposition to the sisters. Responding to a pastoral letter against female preaching from the General Association of Congregational ministers in Massachusetts, he wrote, in part:
So, this is all,--the utmost reach
Of priestly power the mind to fetter!
When laymen think, when women preach,
A war of words, a "Pastoral Letter!"
Now, shame upon ye, parish Popes!
Was it thus with those, your predecessors,
Who sealed with racks, and fire, and ropes
Their loving-kindness to transgressors?
. . .
For, if ye claim the "pastoral right"
To silence Freedom's voice of warning,
And from your precincts shut the light
Of Freedom's day around ye dawning;
. . .
What marvel, if the people learn
To claim the right of free opinion?
What marvel, if at times they spurn
The ancient yoke of your dominion?
. . .
But ye, who scorn the thrilling tale
Of Carolina's high-souled daughters,
Which echoes here the mournful wail
Of sorrow from Edisto's waters,
Close while ye may the public ear,
With malice vex, with slander wound them,
The pure and good shall throng to hear,
And tried and manly hearts surround them.
. . .
[Edisto = a beach south of Charleston, SC]
source: The Pastoral Letter. by John Greenleaf Whittier, 1837

{Angelina and Sarah Grimke. source: Library of Congress}

{Angelina and Sarah Grimke
Photos of Angelina (left) and Sarah Grimké. These two carte de visite photos were taken in Hyde Park, Mass. Angelina, then married to abolitionist Theodore D. Weld for many years, probably had this photo taken about 1875, possibly a bit earlier. It was taken in Hyde Park by the Barritt studio. Sarah's was taken sometime around 1870 by J.D Crane, Photographer, located at Connor's Block. These photos were made available by Hampton resident Robert Jackson. They may be downloaded and used by others with the following attribution: "Courtesy of The Lane Memorial Library and Robert M. Jackson of Hampton, NH".}

Friends' Intelligencer
Published by Wm. W. Moore, 1880

From the Woman's Journal of Eleventh month 1st we take the following account of the life of this brave and faithful advocate of the cause of the oppressed.

She was in early life a member of the Society of Friends, and her life was marked by great sincerity and simplicity throughout its many changes,

She left written directions in regard to her burial: "I have purposely selected my old clothes to be buried in, that my good ones may be given to the poor, that they may do them good after I am gone."

Angelina Grimke Weld died at her residence in Hyde Park on Sunday night last, aged seventy-four years and eight mouths. She was born in Charleston, S. C., Feb. 20, 1805. Her father was John F. Grimke, judge of the Supreme Court of South Carolina for a number of years.

Born and reared in the midst of slavery, she yet always felt great aversion to it, in all its forms, refusing to own a maid which her mother gave her to wait on her, and often using all her power with her family and friends against the condition of slavery. She came North to cast in her lot with the Abolitionists. Their cause was her cause. For the slaves' sake she endured all the persecution which sectarian bigotry and pro slavery hatred could devise against the first woman who dared to "speak in the church" or anywhere else in public.

It is impossible for those who to day see and hear women aa ministers and lecturers, to understand the state of mind and feeling forty-three years ago, when no woman's voice was heard in public anywhere, and when the injunction for her to "keep silence" in the church was held to be as sacred as the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal."

At such a time Angelina Grimke and her sister, Sarah Grimke, came forward to plead for the slave, and to answer the arguments of the apologists of slavery. Angelina had rare gifts. The eloquence which is born of earnestness in a noble purpose gave her anointed lips. It set around her a defence so strong and high that all the shafts and arrows of pro-slavery malignity fell harmless around her. She never stopped to think of herself. "Silence!" cried the pulpit. She spoke right on. "Shame!" said the press. "You are seeking notoriety," said all the gossips, and "getting out of your sphere." How like forgotten echoes those words come back! Angelina Grimke, if the heard, did not heed. A friend who knew her singleness of purpose, stung by this injustice and meanness, prepared a reply to these unnumbered and cruel attacks. But when Angelina heard of this plan or purpose, she refused to permit its publication, and said, "It is not necessary." She was justified to herself and that was enough.

She wrote an appeal to the Christian women of the South, which was sent broadcast over the North as well as the South; she visited New York by invitation, where she spoke in public on several occasions on the slavery question; she visited Massachusetts in 1836 and spoke several times before a committee of the Legislature on the same subject, and also delivered six lectures in the Odeon.

In 1838 she married Theodore D. Weld, who also had consecrated his great powers of mind and utterance to the service of the slave. In connection with him she assisted in writing, "Slavery As It Is: or the Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses," and several other articles published by the Anti-Slavery Society. Soon after her marriage she received an injury which prevented her from taking an active part in the movement personally, but she continued writing articles from her personal knowledge and observation. Quietly in her own home she still did what she could to further the cause of freedom. When emancipation came the freedmen were never forgotten by her. Clothes and books and many comforts packed in her house went down to their relief. She also once went herself.

At the time of the division of her father's property she and her sister, Sarah Grimke, requested that their share of the property might be in slaves, with the idea of emancipating them, but when they found they could not be liberated in South Carolina, as they would be sold again by auction, their brother became their technical owner, and they were finally liberated by the Emancipation Proclamation.

Several years ago Mrs. Weld had a paralytic stroke, from which she measurably recovered, though she has been in feeble health ever since.

In her last illness, when her mind wandered, she was back again in the scenes of her early life, and again urged the release of the slaves, "who had reaped down iheir fields, and whose wages had been kept back by fraud." She hummed again the old tune she sang when a young girl, and with her face all illuminated, sang, "Happy, happy, happy!" Her last breath went away so quietly that those who looked on could not tell when her spirit went.

The women of to day owe more than they will ever know to the high courage, the rare insight, and fidelity to principle of this woman, by whose sufferings easy paths have made for them.

Neither the justice of her cause, nor its great need, nor the quiet, persuasive eloquence with which she remembered those in bonds as bound with them, saved her and her equally noble coadjutors, Sarah Grimke and Abby Kelly Foster, from the pitiless scorn of men and women. If for once their lips had turned white with fear, or their feet fled before the mob, the banner for the equal rights of women which now floats plain in sight would still be furled.

A few years ago, after the death of Jane Smith, in Philadelphia, with whom in those perilous times Angelina Grimke found shelter and a home, the letters of Miss Grimke to Mrs. Smith were returned. These letters, written in the confidence and with the fullness of friendship, contain as nowhere else tie history of the fiery trials through which these first steps were cut in the solid rock of custom and prejudice to make a highway for other women. Should they be given to the public, as they ought to be, those who read them will know better than can now be told at what a great price the enlarged sphere and assured rights of women have been earned.

Her example is a bugle call to all other women. We shall never hear her voice. Her lips are silent. But "though dead she yet speaketh." L.S.
Lucy Stone eulegized the Grimke's again in a speech given on March 31, 1888 to a meeting of the International Council of Women. See Report of the International Council of Women, National Woman Suffrage Association (U.S.), 1888

Some sources:

A Visit to the United States in 1841
By Joseph Sturge
Published by Hamilton, Adams, 1842

Memoirs of Pliny Earle, M.D.
By Franklin Benjamin Sanborn
Published by Damrell & Upham, 1898

Report of the International Council of Women
By International Council of Women, National Woman Suffrage Association (U.S.)
Published by R. H. Darby, printer, 1888

The Friendly Craft
By Elizabeth Deering Hanscom
Published by The Macmillan Company, 1908

Thursday, February 19, 2009

seeking some revolutionary pluck

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 19. 1821.

Came home solus — very high wind — lightning — moonshine — solitary stragglers muffled in cloaks — women in mask — white houses — clouds hurrying over the sky, like spilt milk blown out of the pail — altogether very poetical. It is still blowing hard — the tiles flying, and the house rocking — rain splashing — lightning flashing — quite a fine Swiss Alpine evening, and the sea roaring in the distance.

Visited — conversazione. All the women frightened by the squall: they won't go to the masquerade because it lightens — the pious reason!

Still blowing away. A. has sent me some news to-day. The war approaches nearer and nearer. Oh those scoundrel sovereigns! Let us but see them beaten — let the Neapolitans but have the pluck of the Dutch of old, or the Spaniards of now, or of the German Protestants, the Scotch Presbyterians, the Swiss under Tell, or the Greeks under Themistocles — all small and solitary nations (except the Spaniards and German Lutherans), and there is yet a resurrection for Italy, and a hope for the world.

Notes to the text:

because it lightens - Byron means because of the lightening strikes that accompany the storm. OED gives an instance of this meaning in a line from a Don Juan canto written a couple of years before: "1819 BYRON Juan I. clviii, Her dark eyes flashing through their tears Like skies that rain and lighten."*

A. has sent me some news to-day - A. is not identified.

scoundrel sovereigns - Byron probably refers to the Holy Alliance, made up of most of the reigning monarchs in Europe (Britain excepted). Austria's intervention in Italy was on behalf of this alliance as well as in its own interests.

let the Neapolitans but have the pluck - Byron's frequent expressions of hope for Carbonari success don't quite counterbalance the instances he gives of their lack of resolve, of manly courage, and of military discipline, their naivete, and their general disorganization.

*Note to a note:
Here is the full OED entry for this meaning:
6. To flash lightning, to emit flashes of lightning. Chiefly impers.
c1440 Promp. Parv. 304/1 Lyghtenyn, or leuenyn (K. lithnyn, as levyn), coruscat. 1470-85 MALORY Arthur VII. xxxi, It lyghtned and thondred as it had ben woode. 1555 EDEN Decades 244 The heauen neuer ceased thunderyng rorynge & lyghtenynge with terrible noyse. 1611 BIBLE Luke xvii. 24 As the lightning that lighteneth out of the one part vnder heauen, shineth vnto the other part vnder heauen. a1637 B. JONSON Underwoods, Elegy, 'Tis true, I'm broke’, God lightens not at mans each fraile offence. 1725 DE FOE Voy. round World (1840) 351 Two of the men..cried out, it lightened. One said, he saw the flash. 1814 SCOTT Wav. xviii, It may thunder and lighten before the close of evening. 1819 BYRON Juan I. clviii, Her dark eyes flashing through their tears Like skies that rain and lighten. 1896 A. E. HOUSMAN Shropsh. Lad l, Where doomsday may thunder and lighten And little 'twill matter to one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a depôt, to be sacrificed, in case of accidents

From the Journals of Lord Byron:
February 18. 1821.

The news are that the Neapolitans have broken a bridge, and slain four pontifical carabiniers, whilk carabiniers wished to oppose. Besides the disrespect to neutrality, it is a pity that the first blood shed in this German quarrel should be Italian. However, the war seems begun in good earnest: for, if the Neapolitans kill the Pope's carabiniers, they will not be more delicate towards the Barbarians. If it be even so, in a short time 'there will be news o' thae craws,' as Mrs. Alison Wilson says of Jenny Blane's 'unco cockernony' in the 'Tales of my Landlord.'

In turning over Grimm's Correspondence to-day, I found a thought of Tom Moore's in a song of Maupertuis to a female Laplander.
Et tous les lieux,
Où sont ses yeux,
Font la Zone brûlante.
This is Moore's,
'And those eyes make my climate, wherever I roam.'

But I am sure that Moore never saw it; for this was published in Grimm's Correspondence in 1813, and I knew Moore's by heart in 1812. There is also another, but an antithetical coincidence —
Le soleil luit,
Des jours sans nuit
Bientôt il nous destine;
Mais ces longs jours
Seront trop courts,
Passés près des Christine.
This is the thought reversed, of the last stanza of the ballad on Charlotte Lynes, given in Miss Seward's Memoirs of Darwin, which is pretty — I quote from memory of these last fifteen years.
For my first night I'll go
To those regions of snow
Where the sun for six months never shines;
And think, even then,
He too soon came again,
To disturb me with fair Charlotte Lynes.
To-day I have had no communication with my Carbonari cronies; but, in the mean time, my lower apartments are full of their bayonets, fusils, cartridges, and what not. I suppose that they consider me as a depôt, to be sacrificed, in case of accidents. It is no great matter, supposing that Italy could be liberated, who or what is sacrificed. It is a grand object — the very poetry of politics. Only think — a free Italy!!! Why, there has been nothing like it since the days of Augustus. I reckon the times of Cæsar (Julius) free; because the commotions left every body a side to take, and the parties were pretty equal at the set out. But, afterwards, it was all praetorian and legionary business — and since! — we shall see, or, at least, some will see, what card will turn up. It is best to hope, even of the hopeless. The Dutch did more than these fellows have to do, in the Seventy Years' War.

Notes to the text:

disrespect to neutrality - Ravenna and surrounding areas were Papal States (see map below). The Pope had declared these states to be neutral in the conflict between the Carbonari and Austrians. While the Austrians gave the Pope grudging respect, the Carbonari actively opposed Papal rule, so the conflict at the bridge was not out of character for them.

as Mrs. Alison Wilson says of Jenny Blane's 'unco cockernony' - "But I doubt the daughter's a silly thing — an unco cockernony she had busked on her head at the kirk last Sunday." — Mrs. Alison Wilson, in Old Mortality, chap. v. (Prothero's note).

I found a thought of Tom Moore's
- The poem is Moore's THO' THE LAST GLIMPSE OF ERIN WITH SORROW I SEE. Of the poet, wikipedia says: "Thomas Moore (28 May 1779 – 25 February 1852) was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and the The Last Rose of Summer." The poem:
Tho' the last glimpse of Erin with sorrow I see,
Yet wherever thou art shall seem Erin to me;
In exile thy bosom shall still be my home,
And thine eyes make my climate wherever we room.

To the gloom of some desert or cold rocky shore,
Where the eye of the stranger can haunt us no more,
I will fly with my Coulin, and think the rough wind
Less rude than the foes we leave frowning behind.

And I'll gaze on thy gold hair as graceful it wreathes;
And hang o'er thy soft harp, as wildly it breathes;
Nor dread that the cold-hearted Saxon will tear
One chord from that harp, or one lock from that hair.*
a thought of Tom Moore's in a song of Maupertuis - Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759) "prétendait avoir conçu une passion violente pour une jeune Laponne qu'il avait amenée en France, et qui y est morte. Il aimait à chanter des couplets qu'il avait faits pour elle sous le pôle, et qu'il faut conserver ici —
Pour fuir l'amour,

En vain l'on court
Jusqu'au cercle polaire;
Dieux! qui croiroit
Qu'en cet endroit
On eût trouvé Cythère!

Dans les frimas
De ces climats,
Christine nous enchante;
Et tous les lieux
Où sont ses yeux
Font la zone brûlante.
Etc., etc. Grimm's Correspondance, éd. Toumeux, vol. vii. pp. 180, 181. - (Prothero's note)

the ballad on Charlotte Lynes - "At a convivial meeting of Lichfield gentlemen, most of whom could make agreeable verses, it was proposed that every person in company should give a ballad or epigram on the lady whose health he drank. Mr. Vyse toasted Miss Lynes, and, taking "out his pencil, wrote the stanzas extempore" (Seward's Memoirs of Dr. Darwin, pp. 72-74). Of the stanzas, which are nine in number, that quoted by Byron is the last. (Prothero's note)

the Seventy Years' War - From The Free Dictionary:
In the 16th century the Netherlands was ruled by the Habsburg monarchs of Spain. By the middle of the century tension was rising between the Dutch and the Spanish crown, and this increased during the reign of Philip II. Religious differences played a large part in the troubles. The Protestant Dutch resented the overbearing Roman Catholic policies of the Spanish, and the effects of the Spanish Inquisition on the freedom of faith. Even more important however was the ever-increasing government control exercised by Madrid, and the rising taxes imposed on the Dutch. In addition to this the presence of a Spanish army caused conflict.

Between 1567 and 1573 Philip II tried to restore order in the Spanish Netherlands using an army led by the Duke of Alva. However the harsh methods used by the Duke led to a Dutch revolt led by Philip's former representative in the Netherlands, William the Silent. Support for the revolt was particularly strong among Protestant groups such as the Calvinists.

The battle for independence from Spain continued with increasing success over the next 70 years. However, even though Spain had effectively lost control of the Netherlands by the end of the 16th century, it was not until 1648 that Spain was forced to recognize the independence of the Dutch in the Peace of Westphalia.

Thomas Moore

Map showing the Papal States; source:

Some sources:

The Works of Lord Byron, Prothero edition.

Rome and the Neapolitan Revolution of 1820-1821

The Complete Poems of Sir Thomas Moore

*Note to a note:
In the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Henry VIII, an Act was made respecting the habits, and dress in general, of the Irish, whereby all persons were restrained from being shorn or shaven above the ears, or from wearing Glibbes, or Coulins (long locks), on their heads, or hair on their upper lip, called Crommeal. On this occasion a song was written by one of our bards, in which an Irish virgin is made to give the preference to her dear Coulin (or the youth with the flowing locks) to all strangers (by which the English were meant), or those who wore their habits. Of this song, the air alone has reached us, and is universally
admired. -- Walker's "Historical Memoirs of Irish Bards_," p. 184. Mr. Walker informs us also, that, about the same period, there were some harsh measures taken against the Irish Minstrels. (Note by the editor of Moore's poems, William M. Rossetti)

my friends, the patriots

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 16. 1821.

"Last night Il Conte P.G. sent a man with a bag full of bayonets, some muskets, and some hundreds of cartridges to my house, without apprizing me, though I had seen him not half an hour before. About ten days ago, when there was to be a rising here, the Liberals and my brethren Ci. asked me to purchase some arms for a certain few of our ragamuffins. I did so immediately, and ordered ammunition, &c. and they were armed accordingly. Well — the rising is prevented by the Barbarians marching a week sooner than appointed; and an order is issued, and in force, by the Government, 'that all persons having arms concealed, &c. &c. shall be liable to,' &c. &c. — and what do my friends, the patriots, do two days afterwards? Why, they throw back upon my hands, and into my house, these very arms (without a word of warning previously) with which I had furnished them at their own request, and at my own peril and expense.

It was lucky that Lega was at home to receive them. If any of the servants had (except Tita and F. and Lega) they would have betrayed it immediately. In the mean time, if they are denounced or discovered, I shall be in a scrape.

At nine went out — at eleven returned. Beat the crow for stealing the falcon's victuals. Read 'Tales of my Landlord' — wrote a letter—and mixed a moderate beaker of water with other ingredients.

Notes to the text:

Il Conte P.G - This is Byron's friend, Count Pietro Gamba, brother of his mistress Teresa Guiccioli.

brethren Ci - The Carbonari cell active in Ravenna.

Lega was at home - Lega was Byron's secretary.

except Tita and F. and Lega - Tita, a Venetian, was a valet. By F. Byron probably meant Fletcher, another valet. The previous August, Shelley had described Tita in a letter to Mary Shelley:
Tita the Venetian is here, and operates as my valet; a fine fellow, with a prodigious black beard, and who has stabbed two or three people, and is one of the most good-natured looking fellows I ever saw.
they would have betrayed it immediately - A few months earlier Byron had written his publisher Moore about a murder that took place outside his villa. In it he said that all of his servants except Tita were, like most Italians, easily frightened and likely to become hysterical:

Ravenna, Dec. 9. 1820.

I open my letter to tell you a fact, which will show the state of this country better than I can. The commandant of the troops is now lying dead in my house. He was shot at a little past eight o'clock, about two hundred paces from my door. I was putting on my great-coat to visit Madame la Contessa G. when I heard the shot. On coming into the hall, I found all my servants on the balcony, exclaiming that a man was murdered. I immediately ran down, calling on Tita (the bravest of them) to follow me. The rest wanted to hinder us from going, as it is the custom for every body here, it seems, to run away from 'the stricken deer.'

Beat the crow for stealing the falcon's victuals - Byron kept a menagerie in the villa. In the Journal entry for January 6, he wrote: "The crow is lame of a leg — wonder how it happened — some fool trod upon his toe, I suppose. The falcon pretty brisk — the cats large and noisy — the monkeys I have not looked to since the cold weather, as they suffer by being brought up. Horses must be gay — get a ride as soon as weather serves. Deuced muggy still — an Italian winter is a sad thing, but all the other seasons are charming." The following summer, Shelley had described the menagerie in a a letter to their mutual friend Thomas Love Peacock: "Lord B.'s establishment consists, besides servants, of ten horses, eight enormous dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a crow, and a falcon; and all these, except the horses, walk about the house, which every now and then resounds with their unarbitrated quarrels, as if they were the masters of it." He adds as a postscript: "After I have sealed my letter, I find that my enumeration of the animals in this Circsean Palace was defective, and that in a material point. I have just met on the grand staircase five peacocks, two guinea-hens, and an Egyptian crane. I wonder who all these animals were, before they were changed into these shapes." (As we know from Homer, Circe, daughter of the sun, was a sorceress best known for her ability to turn men into animals.)*

Tales of my Landlord - This was a series of novels by Sir Walter Scott, which form a subset of the so called Waverley Novels.

Some sources:

Life of Lord Byron, With His Letters And Journals, Vol. 5 (Moore edition)


The Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley in Verse and Prose

*A note on a note:

A couple of months earlier, Byron had written Moore about the servants' terror of his villa's ghosts:

Pisa, December 4. 1821.

I have got here into a famous old feudal palazzo, on the Arno, large enough for a garrison, with dungeons below and cells in the walls, and so full of ghosts, that the learned Fletcher (my valet) has begged leave to change his room, and then refused to occupy his new room, because there were more ghosts there than in the other. It is quite true that there are most extraordinary noises (as in all old buildings), which have terrified the servants so as to incommode me extremely. There is one place where people were evidently walled up; for there is but one possible passage, broken through the wall, and then meant to be closed again upon the inmate. The house belonged to the Lanfranchi family, (the same mentioned by Ugolino in his dream, as his persecutor with Sismondi,) and has had a fierce owner or two in its time. The staircase, &c. is said to have been built by Michel Agnolo. It is not yet cold enough for a fire. What a climate!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Romeo & Juliet on St. Valentine's Day

From the Journals of Lord Byron:
February 14. 1821

Much as usual. Wrote, before riding out, part of a scene of 'Sardanapalus.' The first act nearly finished. The rest of the day and evening as before — partly without, in conversazione — partly at home.

Heard the particulars of the late fray at Russi, a town not far from this. It is exactly the fact of Romēo and Giulietta—not Romĕo, as the Barbarian writes it. Two families of Contadini (peasants) are at feud. At a ball, the younger part of the families forget their quarrel, and dance together. An old man of one of them enters, and reproves the young men for dancing with the females of the opposite family. The male relatives of the latter resent this. Both parties rush home and arm themselves. They meet directly, by moonlight, in the public way, and fight it out. Three are killed on the spot, and six wounded, most of them dangerously, — pretty well for two families, methinks — and all fact, of the last week. Another assassination has taken place at Cesenna,—in all about forty in Romagna within the last three months. These people retain much of the middle ages.

Sardanapalus - Sardanapalus, a Tragedy, was The second of the three dramas Byron wrote at this time. Like Marina Faliero and the Two Foscari , it treated a historical topic. Sardanapalus was a legendary king of Syria. A modern author writes:
"I have made," writes Byron (May 25, 1821), "Sardanapalus brave though voluptuous (as history represents him), and as amiable as my poor pen could make him." Diodorus, or rather Ctesias, who may have drawn upon personal reminiscences of his patron, Artaxerxes Mnemon (see Plutarch's Artaxerxes, passim), does not enlarge upon his amiability, and credits him only with the courage of despair. Byron's Sardanapalus, with his sudden transition from voluptuous abandonment to heroic chivalry, his remorseful recognition of the sanctities of wedlock, his general good nature, his "sly, insinuating sarcasms" (Moore's Diary, September 30, 1821, Memoirs, iii. 282), "all made out of the carver's brain," resembles history as little as history resembles the Assyrian record. Fortunately, the genius of the poet escaped from the meshes which he had woven round himself; and, in spite of himself, he was constrained to "beat his music out," regardless of his authorities.
conversazione - Something like a Salon. Byron wrote of them: "Their conversazioni are not society at all. They go to the theatre to talk, and into company to hold their tongues. The women sit in a circle, and the men gather into groups, or they play at dreary faro, or 'lotto reale,' for small sums."* A definition:
conversazione, //. conversazioni, sb. : It. : a social assembly for purposes of conversation, often held for the ostensible purpose of promoting interest in art, literature, or science.

1739 After the play we were introduced to the assembly, which they call the conversazione: Hor. Walpole, Letters, Vol. I. p. 30(1857). 1764 Besides these amusements, there is a public conversazione every evening at the commandant's house: Smollett, France & Italy, xvii. Wks., Vol. v. p. 391 (1817). 1776 It was a conversazione, but composed of rather too many people: In W. Roberts' Mem. Hannah More, Vol. I. p. 60 (1835). 1804 De Brasses, in passing through Milan was carried to a converzatione on purpose to meet Signora Agnesi : Edin. Rev., Vol. 3, p. 402. 1810 some intelligent young woman, who might read and write for her, and assist in doing the honours of her con. versazioni : Jeffrey, Essays, Vol. i. p. 227 (1844). 1823 those evening conversazioni of the Via Babbuina, where the comic Muse alone presided : Lady Morgan, Salvator Rosa, ch. vi. p. 123 (1855). 1846 In the former [library] are held weekly " conversaziones" : Warburton, Crete, and Cress, Vol. i. p. 286 (1848). 1848 She liked to be asked to Mrs. Veal's conversazioni: Thackeray, Van. Fair, Vol. n. ch. xxi. p. 235 (1879). 1864 Prince Ester- hazy's last conversazione: G. A. Sala, Quite Alone, Vol. i. ch. iii. p. 42.

View Larger Map

Some sources:

The Life, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron

By George Gordon, Lord Byron
(Notes by E. H. Coleridge from Works / Lord Byron, 1898-1904)

The Stanford Dictionary of Anglicised Words and Phrases

*Note on a note: - Excerpt from Byron's letter to Murray, Ravenna, February 21. 1820:
You ask me for a volume of manners, &c. on Italy. Perhaps I am in the case to know more of them than most Bnglishmen, because I have lived among the natives, and in parts of the country where Englishmen, never resided before (I speak of Romagna and this place particularly); but there are many reasons why I do not choose to treat in print on such a subject. I have lived in their houses and in the heart of their families, sometimes merely as 'amico di casa,' and sometimes as 'amico di cuore' of the Dama, and in neither case do I feel myself authorised in making a book of them. Their moral is not your moral; their life is not your life; you would not understand it; it is not English, nor French, nor German, which you would all understand. The conventual education, the cavalier servitude, the habits of thought and living are so entirely different, and the difference becomes so much more striking the more you live intimately with them, that I know not how to make you comprehend a people who are at once temperate and profligate, serious in their characters and buffoons in their amusements, capable of impressions and passions, which are at once sudden and durable (what you find in no other nation), and who actually have no society (what we would call so), aa you may see by their comedies; they have no real comedy, not even in Goldoni, and that is because they have no society to draw it from.

Their conversazioni are not society at all. They go to the theatre to talk, and into company to hold their tongues. The women sit in a circle, and the men gather into groups, or they play at dreary faro, or 'lotto reale,' for small sums. Their academie are concerts like our own, with better music and more form. Their best things are the carnival balls and masquerades, when every body runs mad for six weeks. After their dinners and suppers they make extempore verses and buffoon one another ; but it is in a humour which you would not enter into, ye of the north.

In their houses it is better. I should know something of the matter, having had a pretty general experience among their women, from the fisherman's wife up to the Nobil Dama, whom I serve. Their system has its rules, and its fitnesses, and its decorums, so as to be reduced to a kind of discipline or game at hearts, which admits few deviations, unless you wish to lose it. They are extremely tenacious, and jealous as furies, not permitting their lovers even to marry if they can help it, and keeping them always close to them in public as in private, whenever they can. In short, they transfer marriage to adultery, and strike the not out of that commandment. The reason is, that the} marry for their parents, and love for themselves. They exact fidelity from a lover as a debt of honour, while they pay the husband as a tradesman, that is, not at all You hear a person's character, male or female, canvassed not as depending on their conduct to their husbands or wives, but to their mistress or lover. If I wrote a quarto, I don't know that I could do more than amplify what I have here noted. It is to be observed that while they do all this, the greatest outward respect is to be paid to the husbands, not only by the ladies, but by their Serventi — particularly if the husband serves no one himself (which is not often the case, however): so that you would often suppose them relations — the Serventi making the figure of one adopted into the family. Sometimes the ladies run a little restive and elope, or divide, or make a scene: but this is at starting, generally, when they know no better, or when they fall in love with a foreigner, or some such anomaly,— and is always reckoned unnecessary and extravagant.

Friday, February 13, 2009

as sober as Lady Grace herself

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 13, 1821

To-day read a little in Louis B.'s Hollande but have written nothing since the completion of the letter on the Pope controversy. Politics are quite misty for the present. The Barbarians still upon their march. It is not easy to divine what the Italians will now do.

Was elected yesterday Socio of the Carnival Ball Society. This is the fifth carnival that I have passed.

In the four former, I racketed a good deal. In the present, I have been as sober as Lady Grace herself.

Notes to the text:

Louis B.'s Hollande - Documents Historiques, et Reflexions sur le Gouvernement de la Hollande (3 vols. 8vo), by Louis Buonaparte, ex-King of Holland, was published at Paris in 1820.

Socio - Socio is Italian for member or associate, but in this context it means an official, not just a ticket holder.

Carnival Ball - In a letter to his publisher Murray on Feb. 21 1820, Byron had written: "Their best things are the carnival balls and masquerades, when everybody runs mad for six weeks. After their dinners and suppers they make extempore verses and buffoon one another ; but it is in a humour which you would not enter into, ye of the north." (Letters and Journals of Lord Byron - Moore edition)

I racketed a good deal - To racket, in this sense, is to make boisterous celebration with lots of noise and motion. Since he formed his liaison with Teresa Guiccioli his life calmed considerably. A few years earlier, in a letter to Murray, Byron had described his behavior at a Venetian ball alluding to an abundance of sexual couplings as much as excessive drink or dancing.

as sober as Lady Grace herself - This probably refers to a character in The Provoked Husband; Or, a Journey To London. By Vanbrugh & Cibber. This popular play was first performed at Drury Lane in 1727. It has as a main character, "Lady Grace, sister to Lord Townly, [a woman] of exemplary virtue." She is a foil to the gay Lady Town. as this exchange shows:
Lady Townly: "I beg pardon child, ... you are a prude, and design to live soberly.

Lady Grace. Why, I confess, my nature and my education do, in a good degree, incline me that way.

Lady Town. Well, how a woman of spirit (for you don't want that, child) can dream of living soberly, is to me inconceivable; for you will marry, I suppose ?

Lady Grace. I can't tell but I may.

Lady Town. And won't you live in town ?

Lady Grace. Half the year, I should like it very well.

Lady Town. My stars! and you would really live in London half the year, to be sober in it?

Lady Grace. Why not?

A carnival mask worn by Lord Byron at the Ravenna Carnival of 1820. It is part of the collections of the Keats-Shelley House museum in Rome. When he wore it, it looked much like a corsair or pirate with long black hair and a full beard. You can see photos of a somewhat restored version here and here.

Some sources:

The Works of Lord Byron, Prothero edition

Life, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron

Thursday, February 12, 2009

if the Neapolitans will but stand firm

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 9, 1821.

Before dinner wrote a little; also, before I rode out, Count P. G. called upon me, to let me know the result of the meeting of the Ci. at F. and at B. * * returned late last night. Every thing was combined under the idea that the Barbarians would pass the Po on the 15th inst. Instead of this, from some previous information or otherwise, they have hastened their march and actually passed two days ago; so that all that can be done at present in Romagna is, to stand on the alert and wait for the advance of the Neapolitans. Every thing was ready, and the Neapolitans had sent on their own instructions and intentions, all calculated for the tenth and eleventh, on which days a general rising was to take place, under the supposition that the Barbarians could not advance before the 15th.

As it is, they have but fifty or sixty thousand troops, a number with which they might as well attempt to conquer the world as secure Italy in its present state. The artillery marches last, and alone, and there is an idea of an attempt to cut part of them off. All this will much depend upon the first steps of the Neapolitans. Here, the public spirit is excellent, provided it be kept up. This will be seen by the event.

It is probable that Italy will be delivered from the Barbarians if the Neapolitans will but stand firm, and are united among themselves. Here they appear so.

February 10, 1821.

Day passed as usual — nothing new. Barbarians still in march — not well equipped, and, of course, not well received on their route. There is some talk of a commotion at Paris.

Rode out between four and six — finished my letter to Murray on Bowles's pamphlets — added postscript. Passed the evening as usual — out till eleven — and subsequently at home.

February 11, 1821.

Wrote — had a copy taken of an extract from Petrarch's Letters, with reference to the conspiracy of the Doge, Marino Faliero, containing the poet's opinion of the matter. Heard a heavy firing of cannon towards Comacchio — the Barbarians rejoicing for their principal pig's birthday, which is to-morrow — or Saint day — I forget which. Received a ticket for the first ball to-morrow. Shall not go to the first, but intend going to the second, as also to the Veglioni.

Notes to the text:

Count P. G. called upon me - This is Byron's friend, Count Pietro Gamba, brother of his mistress Teresa Guiccioli.

the meeting of the Ci. at F. and at B. - This refers to the Carbonari cell to which they both belonged. F. and B. might be neighboring towns of Ferraro and Bologna. See map below.

* * returned late last night - Not identified.

the Barbarians would pass the Po on the 15th inst. - It was expected that the Austrian army would cross the Po River from the north on Feb. 15th.

wait for the advance of the Neapolitans - The Neapolitans were the main body of the Carbonari clandestine forces.

Romagna - The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy where all this takes place. It is centered at a point between Ferrara and Bologna.

my letter to Murray on Bowles's pamphlets - See Appendix III of the Prothero edition of Byron's Works for a transcription of Byron's Letter in reply to William Bowles's strictures on Alexander Pope. Byron objected to Bowles's criticism of Pope's morals.

extract from Petrarch's Letters, with reference to the conspiracy of the Doge, Marino Faliero - An Italian version of the extract from Petrarch's Letters is quoted in the notes to Marino Faliero, Appendix, Note B. Byron's tragic play, Marino Faliero, is described in notes to previous journal entry.

their principal pig's birthday, which is to-morrow — or Saint day — I forget which - February 12th was the birthday of Francis II, Emperor of Austria (12 February 1768 – 2 March 1835).

View Larger Map

Some sources:

The Works of Lord Byron (Prothero edition)

Marino Faliero

Thursday, February 05, 2009

while waiting for the conflict to begin...

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 5, 1821.

At last, "the kiln's in a low." The Germans are ordered to march, and Italy is, for the ten thousandth time to become a field of battle. Last night the news came.

This afternoon — Count P. G. came to me to consult upon divers matters. We rode out together. They have sent off to the C. for orders. To-morrow the decision ought to arrive, and then something will be done. Returned — dined — read — went out — talked over matters. Made a purchase of some arms for the new enrolled Americani, who are all on tiptoe to march. Gave order for some harness and portmanteaus necessary for the horses.

Read some of Bowles's dispute about Pope, with all the replies and rejoinders. Perceive that my name has been lugged into the controversy, but have not time to state what I know of the subject. On some "piping day of peace" it is probable that I may resume it.

Notes to the text:

the kiln's in a low - This refers to the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 when the Highland clans rebelled against English rule. the phrase comes from Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott:
The Rising in the North.

On the morning when we were to depart from Glasgow, Andrew Failservice bounced into my apartment like a madman, jumping up and down, and singing, with more vehemence than tune,
The kiln's on fire—the kiln's on fire—
The kiln's on fire—she's a' in a lowe.
With some difficulty I prevailed on him to cease his confounded clamour, and explain to me what the matter was. He was pleased to inform me, as if he had been bringing the finest news imaginable, "that the Hielands were clean broken out every man o' them, and that Rob Roy, and a' his breekless bands, wad be down upon Glasgow, or twenty-four hours o' the clock gaed round."

"Hold your tongue," said I, "you rascal! You must be drunk or mad; and if there is any truth in your news, is it a singing matter, you scoundrel ?"

" Drunk or mad ? nae doubt," replied Andrew, dauntlessly; "ane's aye drunk or mad if he tells what grit folks dinna like to hear—Sing? odd, the clans will make us sing on the wrang side o' our mouth, if we are sae drunk or mad as to bide their coming."
Count P. G. came to me - This is Byron's friend, Count Pietro Gamba, brother of his mistress Teresa Guiccioli.

sent off to the C. for orders - This refers to the Carbonari cell to which they both belonged.

Americani - See note to a previous journal entry.

Bowles's dispute about Pope - This refers to William Lisle Bowles was an English clergyman, poet, and literary critic and his criticism of Alexander Pope.
In 1806, Bowles edited and published Alexander Pope's works in ten volumes; in it, he criticized Pope's morals as well as his poetry, reviving a scholarly dispute about Pope's proper place in the poetic hierarchy. Over the next several years Bowles was attacked, most notably by Byron, for disparaging Pope, and in response to these attacks, Bowles issued Invariable Principles of Poetry (1819) in which he outlined his critical perspective. An attack on Bowles's principles followed in the Quarterly Review, which led to a series of articles, letters, and pamphlets by Pope's defenders and detractors, particularly Byron and Bowles, which lasted until 1825 when Bowles published A Final Appeal to the Literary Public, Relative to Pope. - source: William Lisle Bowles 1762-1850, English poet and critic.
Byron's criticism of Bowles is discussed here.

this piping day of peace - From Shakespeare's Richard III., act i. sc. 1: "This weak piping time of peace." The text is here, where there is this note: "The pipe was an instrument proper to times of peace, as the fife to times of war. Compare Much Ado About Nothing, ii. iii. 13-15."

Bowles. Source: