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“ May 14, 1821. " A Milan paper states that the play has been represented and universally condemned. As remonstrance has been vain, complaint would be useless. I presume, however, for your own sake (if not for mine), that
you and my other friends will have at least published my different protests against its being brought upon the stage at all; and have shown that Elliston (in spite of the writer) forced it upon the theatre. It would be nonsense to say that this has not vexed me a good deal, but I am not dejected, and I shall not take the usual resource of blaming the public (which was in the right), or my friends for not preventing—what they could not help, nor I neither—a forced representation by a speculating manager. It is a pity that you did not show them its unfilness for the stage before the play was published, and exact a promise from the managers not to act it. In case of their refusal, we would not have published it at all. But this is too late.
Yours. “P.S. I enclose Mr. Bowles's letters: thank him in my name for their candour and kindness.-Also a letter for Hodgson, which pray
forward. The Milan paper states that I brought forward the play!!! This is pleasanter still. But don't let yourself be worried about it; and if (as is likely) the folly of Elliston checks the sale, I am ready to make any deduction, or the entire cancel of your agreement.
“You will of course not publish my defence of Gilchrist, as, after Bowles's good humour upon the subject, it would be too savage.
“Let me hear from you the particulars; for, as yet, I have only the simple fact.
you knew what I have had to go through here, on account of the failure of these rascally Neapolitans, you would be amused; but it is now apparently over. They seemed disposed to throw the whole project and plans of these parts upon me chiefly."
“ May 14, 1821. “If any part of the letter to Bowles has (unintentionally, as far as I remember the contents) vexed you, you are fully avenged; for I see by an Italian paper that, notwithstanding all my remonstrances through all
my friends (and yourself among the rest), the managers persisted in attempting the tragedy, and that it has been unanimously hissed !!' This is the consolatory phrase of the Milan paper (which detests me cordially, and abuses me, on all occasions, as a Liberal), with the addition that I “brought the play out of my own good will.
“All this is xatious enough, and seems a sort of dramatic Calvinism -predestined damnation, without a sinner's own fault. I took all the pains poor mortal could to prevent this inevitable catastrophe-partly by appeals of all kinds up to the Lord Chamberlain, and partly to the
fellows themselves. But, as remonstrance was vain, complaint is useless. do not understand it-for Murray's letter of the 24th, and all his preceding ones, gave me the strongest hopes that there would be no representation. As yet, I know nothing but the fact, which I presume to be true, as the date is Paris, and the 30th. They must have been in a hell of a hurry for this damnation, since I did not even know that it was published ; and, without its being first published, the histrions could not have got hold of it. Any one might have seen, at a glance, that it was utterly impracticable for the stage ; and this little accident will by no means enhance its merit in the closet.
"Well, patience is a virtue, and, I suppose, practice will make it perfect. Since last year. (spring, that is) I have lost a lawsuit, of great importance, on Rochdale collieries—have occasioned a divorce-have had my poesy disparaged by Murray and the critics—my fortune refused to be placed on an advantageous settlement in Ireland) by the trustees -my life threatened last month (they put about a paper here to excite an attempt at my assassination, on account of politics, and a notion which the priests disseminated that I was in a league against the Germans)—and, finally, my mother-in-law recovered last fortnight, and my play was damned last week! These are like the eight-and-twenty misfortunes of Harlequin.' But they must be borne. If I give in, it shall be after keeping up a spirit at least. I should not have cared so much about it, if our southern neighbours had not bungled us all out of freedom for these five hundred years to come.
“Did you know John Keats? They say that he was killed by a review of him in the Quarterly—if he be dead, which I really don't know. I don't understand that yielding sensitiveness. What I feel (as at this present) is an immense rage for eight-and-forty hours, and then, as usual-unless this time it should last longer. I must get on horseback to quiet me.
Yours, &c. “ Francis I. wrote, after the battle of Pavia, 'All is lost except our honour.' A hissed author may reverse it— Nothing is lost, except our honour.' But the horses are waiting, and the paper full. I wrote last week to you."
Ravennna, May 19, 1821. papers of Thursday, and two letters of Mr. Kinnaird, I perceive that the Italian gazette had. lied most Italically, and that the drama had not been hissed, and that my friends had interfered to prevent the representation. So it seems they continue to act it, in spite of us all: for this 'we must 'trouble them at 'size.' Let it by all means be brought to a plea : I am determined to try the right, and will meet the expenses. The reason of the Lombard lie was that the Austrians—who keep up an Inquisition throughout Italy, and a list of names of all who think or speak of any thing but in favour of their despotism-have for
five years past abused me in every form, in the Gazette of Milan, &c. I wrote to you a week ago on the subject.
“ Now I should be glad to know what compensation Mr. Elliston would make me, not only for dragging my writings on the stage in five days, but for being the cause that I was kept for four days (from Sunday to Thursday morning, the only post-days) in the belief that the tragedy had been acted and unanimously hissed;' and this with the addition that I had brought it upon the stage,' and consequently that none of my friends had attended to my request to the contrary. Suppose that I had burst a blood vessel, like John Keats, or blown my brains out in a fit of rage,-neither of which would have been unlikely a few years ago. At present I am, luckily, calmer than I used to be, and yet I would not pass those four days over again for— I know not what.*
“I wrote to you to keep up your spirits, for reproach is useless, al
* The account given, by Madame Guiccioli, of his anxiety on this occasion, fully corroborates his own :-“ His quiet was, in spite of himself, often disturbed by public events, and by the attacks which, principally in his character of author, the journals levelled at him. In vain did he protest that he was indifferent to these attacks. The impression was, it is true, but momentary, and he, from a feeling of noble pride, but too much disdained to reply to his detractors. But however brief his annoyance was, it was sufficiently acute to occasion him much pain, and to afilict those who loved him. Every occurrence relative to the bringing Marino Faliero on the stage caused him excessive inquietude. On the occasion of an article in the Milan Gazette, in which mention was made of this affair, he wrote me in the following manner :-“ You will see here confirmation of what I told you the other day! I am sacrificed in every way, without knowing the why or the wherefore. The tragedy in question is not (nor ever was) written for, or adapted to the stage; nevertheless, the plan is not romantic; it is rather regular than otherwise ;-in point of unity of time, indeed, perfectly regular, and failing but slightly in unity of place. You well know whether it was ever my intention to have it acted, since it was written at your side, and at a period assuredly rather more tragical to me as a man than as an author ; for you were in affliction and peril. In the mean time I learn from your Gazette that a cabal and party has been formed, while ] myself have never taken the slightest step in the business. It is said the author read it aloud!!!-here, probably, at Ravenna ?--and to whom? perhaps to Fletcher!!!that illustrious literary character," "&c. &c.—“Ma però la sua tranquillità era suo malgrado sovente alterata dalle publiche vicende, e dagli attachi che spesso si direggevano a lui nei giornali come ad autore principalmente. Era invano che egli protestava indifferenza per codesti attachi. L'impressione non era é vero che momentanea, e purtroppo per una nobile fierezza sdegnava sempre di rispondere ai suoi dettratori. Ma per quanto fosse breve quella impressione era però assai forte per farlo molto soffrire e per affliggere quelli che lo amavano. Tuttociò che ebbe luogo per la rappresentazione del suo Marino Faliero lo inquieto pure moltissimo e dietro ad un articolo di una Gazetta di Milano in cui si parlava di quell'affare egli mi scrisse così— Ecco la verità di ciò che io vi dissi pochi giorni fa, come vengo sacrificato in tutte le maniere seza sapere il perché e il come. La tragedia di cui ai parla non è (e non era mai) nè scritta ne adattata al teatro; ma non è però romantico il disegno, è piuttosto regolare—regolarissimo per | unità del tempo, e mancando poco a quella del sito. Voi sapete bene se io aveva intenzione di farla rappresentare, poichè era scritta al vostro fianco e nei momenti per certo più tragici per me come uomo che come autore,-perchè voi eravate in affanno ed in pericolo. Intanto sento dalla vostra Gazetta che sia nata una cabala, un partito, e senza ch' io vi abbia presa la minima parte. Si dice che l'autore ne fece la lettura !!!qui forse ? a Ravenna? ed a chi ? forse a Fletcher!!! - quel illustre litterato, "" &c. &c.
ways, and irritating—but my feelings were very much hurt, to be dragged like a gladiator to the fate of a gladiator by that retiarius,' Mr. Elliston. As to his defence and offers of compensation, what is all this to the purpose? It is like Louis the Fourteenth, who insisted upon buying at any price Algernon Sydney's horse, and, on his refusal, on taking it by force, Sydney shot his horse. I could not shoot my tragedy, but I would have flung it into the fire rather than have had it represented.
“I have now written nearly three acts of another (intending to complete it in five), and am more anxious than ever to be preserved from such a breach of all literary courtesy and gentlemanly consideration.
“ If we succeed, well : if not, previous to any future publication, we will request a promise not to be acted, which I would even pay for (as money is their object), or I will not publish—which, however, you will probably not much regret.
“ The Chancellor has behaved nobly. You have also conducted yourself in the most satisfactory manner; and I have no fault to find with any body but the stage-players and their proprietor. I was always so civil to Elliston personally, that he ought to have been the last to attempt to injure me.
" There is a most rattling thunder-storm pelting away at this present writing ; so that I write neither by day, nor by candle, nor torchlight, but by lightning light : the flashes are as brilliant as the most gaseous glow of the gas-light company. My chimney-board has just been thrown down by a gust of wind : I thought that it was the Bold Thunder' and Brisk Lightning in person.— Three of us would be too many. There it goes—flash again ! but
“ I tax not you, ye elements, with unkindnes ;
as I have done by and upon Mr. Elliston.
Why do you not write ? You should at least send me a line of particulars : I know nothing yet but by Galignani and the Honourable Douglas.
Well, and how does our Pope controversy go on? and the pamphlet? It is impossible to write any news : the Austrian scoundrels rummage all letters.
“P.S. I could have sent you a good deal of gossip and some real information, were it not that all letters pass through the Barbarians' inspection, and I have no wish to inform them of any thing but my utter abhorrence of them and theirs. They have only conquered by treachery, however.”
“Ravenna, May 20, 1821. “ Since I wrote to you last week I have received English letters and papers, by which I perceive that what I took for an Italian truth is, after all, a French lie of the Gazette de France. It contains two ultra false
hoods in as many lines. In the first place, Lord B. did not bring forward his play, but opposed the same; and, secondly, it was not condemned, but is continued to be acted, in despite of publisher, author, Lord Chancellor, and (for aught I know to the contrary) of audience, up to the first of May, at least—the latest date of my letters. You will oblige me, then, by causing Mr. Gazette of France to contradict himself, which, I suppose,
he is used to. I never answer a foreign criticism ; but this is a mere matter of fact, and not of opinions. I
have English and French interest enough to do this for me—though, to be sure, as it is nothing but the truth which we wish to state, the insertion may be more difficult.
" As I have written to you often lately at some length, I won't bore you further now, than by begging you to comply with my request; and I
presume the esprit du corps' (is it'du' or ' de ?' for this is more than I know) will sufficiently urge you, as one of ours,' to set this affair in its real aspect. Believe me always yours ever and most affectionately,
“Ravenna, May 25, 1821. “I am very much pleased with what you say of Switzerland, and will ponder upon it. I would rather she married there than here for that matter. For fortune, I shall make all that I can spare (if I live and she is correct in her conduct); and if I die before she is settled, I have left her by will five thousand pounds, which is a fair provision out of England for a natural child. I shall increase it all I can, if circumstances permit me; but, of course (like all other human things), this is
uncertain. “ You will oblige me very much by interfering to have the facts of the play-acting stated, as these scoundrels appear to be organising a system of abuse against me, because I am in their list.' I care nothing for their criticism, but the matter of fact. I have written four acts of another tragedy, so you see they can't bully me.
“You know, I suppose, that they actually keep a list of all individuals in Italy who dislike them—it must be numerous. Their suspicions and actual alarms, about my conduct and presumed intentions in the late row, were truly ludicrous—though not to bore you,
them lightly. They believed, and still believe here, or affect to believe it, that the whole plan and project of rising was settled by me, and the means furnished, &c. &c. All this was more fomented by the barbarian agents, who are numerous here (one of them was stabbed yesterday, by the way, but not dangerously) :—and although when the Commandant was shot here before my door in December, I took him into my house, where he had every assistance, till he died on Fletcher's bed; and although not one of them dared to receive him into their houses but myself, they leaving him to perish in the night in the streets, they put up a paper about three months ago, denouncing me as the Chief of the Liberals, and stirring up persons to assassinate me. But this shall never