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He here dictated an oath of great
'Swear it, by all that' solemnity.
There is no occasion for this-I will observe your request; and to doubt me is'.
It cannot be helped-you must swear.'
I took the oath it appeared to relieve him. He removed a seal ring from his finger, on which were some Arabic characters, and presented it to me. He proceeded
'Ou the ninth day of the month, at noon precisely (what month you please, but this must be the day), you must fling this ring into the salt springs which run into the Bay of Eleusis: the day after, at the same hour, you must repair to the ruins of the temple of Ceres, and wail one hour.'
'You will see.'
The ninth day of the month, you say?"
As I observed that the present was the ninth day of the month, his countenance changed, and he paused. As he sate, evidently becoming more feeble, a stork, with a snake in her beak, perched upon a tombstone near us; and, without devouring her prey, appeared to be steadfastly regarding us. I know not what impelled me to drive it away, but the attempt was useless; she made a few circles in the air, and returned exactly to the same spot. Darvell pointed to it, and smiled: he spoke-I know not whether to himself or to me-but the words were only, 'Tis well!'
What is well? what do you mean?'
No matter: you must bury me here this evening, and exactly where that bird is now perched. You know the rest of my injunctions.'
He then proceeded to give me several directions as to the manner in which his death might be best concealed. After these were finished, he exclaimed, 'You perceive that bird?"
And the serpent writhing in her beak ?' ·
'Doubtless: there is nothing uncommon in it; it is her natural prey. But it is odd that she does not devour it.'
He smiled in a ghastly manner, and said, faintly, 'It is not yet time! As he spoke, the stork flew away. My eyes followed it for a moment it could hardly be longer than ten might be counted. I felt Darvell's weight, as it were, increase upon my shoulder, and, turning to look upon his face, perceived that he was dead!
I was shocked with the sudden certainty, which could not be mistaken-his countenance in a few minutes became nearly black. I should have attributed so rapid a change to poison, had I not been aware that he had no opportunity of receiving it unperceived. The day was declining, the body was rapidly altering, and nothing remained but to fulfil his request. With the aid of Suleiman's ataghan and my own sabre we scooped a shallow grave upon the spot which Darvell had indicated the earth easily gave way, having already received some Mahometan tenant. We dug as deeply as the time permitted us, and, throwing the dry earth upon all that remained of the singular being so lately departed, we cut a few sods of greener turf from the less withered soil around us, and laid them upon his sepulchre. Between astonishment and grief, I was tearless.
Thus ends this mysterious fragment, which is, perhaps, more interesting as a specimen of Lord Byron's style of prose narrative than for any other quality.
WHEN Lord Byron arrived at Ravenna his connexion with the Countess Guiccioli was renewed, and soon assumed so unequivocal a shape that even an Italian husband could not be content to let it pass unnoticed. Lord Byron said, as appears from Mr. Medwin's statement of his conversations, that the old count knew and tolerated his wife's flagrant infidelity; but this is wholly untrue, as we have reason to believe.
The Count Guiccioli did not like Lord Byron-indeed the poet was not a man to make any persons like him but such as he himself had an attachment to. He was, besides, a heretic-a heinous fault in itself: he was, moreover, a liberal; and this could be less easily, and even less safely, pardoned by the count. The consequence of the old nobleman's remonstrances was that his domestic affairs soon became dreadfully embroiled. He insisted on his wife's renouncing her intimacy with Lord Byron: she either refused to obey or continued openly to disobey him. Her brother and her father, the Counts Gamba, by whose mediation the scandal might have been prevented, took her part, and did what to our English notions is unutterably shocking-countenanced the illicit connexion of the daughter of one and the sister of the other
with Lord Byron. Even in Italy this occasioned no small disturbance; and, while the inexperience and the education of the countess formed some palliation of her misconduct, the part which her brother and father had seen fit to take excited universal detestation and abhor
An appeal, in the nature of a judicial complaint, was lodged in the pope's chancery on the behalf of the Count Guiccioli. The cause was heard very much in the way that divorce causes are disposed of in England; and the result was, that the pope ordered the lady to be separated from her husband, at the same time directing that a small annual sum should be paid to her by way of maintenance. This decree of his holiness was, however, coupled with a condition which was somewhat inconvenient to the lady and to her lover. The pope directed that she should not reside out of her father's house; and for a long period she continued, in obedience to this decree, to live in the count's palazzo, Lord Byron constantly visiting her there.
The scandal was not a whit diminished by this arrangement, and the Count Guiccioli was, with good reason, heartily enraged at all the parties by whom he was thus openly injured. Finding that, by the common methods of litigation, he could not hope to do any good, he laid a plot, with the consent, as Lord Byron said, of the pope's legate, to carry off his frail moiety from the house of her father, and shut her up in a convent, from which she would in all probability never have escaped alive. Lord Byron prevented this by having her taken clandestinely from Ravenna.
After so much has been said about the Countess Guiccioli, the following description of her person may be acceptable, and indeed is almost necessary:
The Countess Guiccioli is twenty-three years of age, though she appears no more than seventeen or eighteen. Unlike most of the Italian women, her complexion is delicately fair. Her eyes, large, dark, and languishing, are shaded by the longest eyelashes in the world; and her hair, which is ungathered on her head, plays over her falling shoulders in a profusion of natural ringlets of the darkest auburn. Her figure is, perhaps, too much embonpoint for her height, but her bust is perfect; her features want little of possessing a Grecian regularity of outline; and she has the most beautiful mouth and teeth imaginable. It is impossible to see without admiring-to hear the Guiccioli speak without being fascinated. Her amiability and gentleness show themselves in every intonation of her voice, which, and the
music of her perfect Italian, give a peculiar charm to every thing she utters. Grace and elegance seem component parts of her nature. Notwithstanding that she adores Lord Byron, it is evident that the exile and poverty of her aged father sometimes affect her spirits, and throw a shade of melancholy on her countenance, which adds to the deep interest this lovely girl creates.
Extraordinary pains,' said Lord Byron one day, were taken with the education of Teresa. Her conversation is lively, without being frivolous; without being learned, she has read all the best authors of her own and the French language. She often conceals what she knows, from the fear of being thought to know too much; possibly because she knows I am not fond of blues. To use an expression of Jeffrey's," If she has blue stockings, she contrives that her petticoat shall hide them."
About this period the intrigues of the Carbonari began to fill Italy with civil commotion, and suspicions were entertained even of persous who did not deserve to be suspected. Lord Byron was among the latter. For some reason or other, (it is not now perhaps worth while to inquire into it too curiously,) Lord Byron declined to interfere in any of the numerous cabals which were then going on in every town, almost in every house, in Italy. Nevertheless, as he was known to be the intimate friend of the Counts Gamba, he was believed by the Austrian government to favour their political notions.
The Counts Gamba were notorious adherents of the Carbonari faction;-a faction, the distinguishing marks of which were, that its members were as ready to boast as they were slow to do-as active in creating disturbance as they were slow in fairly asserting the principles they professed-and who had eternally the name of liberty in their mouths, while they practised ali kinds of vice, and cowardice, and treachery. The Austrian government could easily have put down by force of arms, as indeed they did afterwards, these flimsy intrigues; but it was thought in the mean time that such persons as the Gambas ought not to be allowed to disturb the quiet of Ravenna, for which reason they were ordered to quit that city, and the whole territory of Romagna. They retired to Pisa, where the Countess Guiccioli joined them, and continued to live in the same house with them.
Lord Byron was very fond of Ravenna, and he would willingly have resided there for a much longer period. The beauty of the surrounding scenery was not less an inducement to him to prefer it than the quiet and retirement of the place. It does not form a point for travel.
lers; but, lying out of the grande route, is a fine specimen of an Italian town, both as regards the aspect of the place and the society which it contains.
Mr. Medwin says Lord Byron frequently expressed his regret at leaving Ravenna.
'I was never tired of my rides in the pine-forest: it breathes of the Decameron; it is poetical ground. Francesca lived, and Dante was exiled and died, at Ravenna. There is something inspiring in such an air.'*
When, however, Lord Byron found that his friends the Gambas were compelled to quit this favorite place of his abode, he resolved to go also, and, since now all the hopes he had entertained of the Guiccioli's return were at au end, to take up his residence at Pisa.
The account which he gave to Mr. Medwin of the transactions preceding this event is a little exaggerated. There is too much swaggering in it, and his lordship does not show himself off in the most heroic light where he boasts of having a hundred stand of arms in his house, ready to be used when some bolder person should have struck the blow. If there is nothing good in rebellion, there is less in hanging back and being willing to help it, but exercising the wiser part of valour discretion,' by watching the moment when it may have become safe to do so. This is one of the passages which, if Lord Byron really uttered, Mr. Med win ought not to have recollected.
'The people liked me as much as they hated the government. It, is not a little to say, I was popular with all the leaders of the Constitutional party. They knew that I came from a land of liberty, and
• The following lines will show the attachment Lord Byron had to the tranquil life be led at Ravenna:
Sweet hour of twilight, in the solitude
Of the pine forest and the silent shore
Rooted where once the Adrian wave flowed o'cr
Making their summer lives one ceaseless song,