Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

was perhaps a reason for the preference he seemed to give me in his morning drives, during which I saw most of him alone. It is a great satisfaction to have been intimate with so celebrated and so benevolent a personage; and I hope, that these recollections of his latter days may not be without their value, in enabling those who were acquainted with Sir Walter in his most brilliant period, to compare it with his declining moments during his residence in Italy."

Though some of the same things recur in the notes with which I am favoured by Mr Cheney, yet the reader will pardon this—and even be glad to compare the impressions of two such observers.

Mr Cheney says:

“ Delighted as I was to see Sir Walter Scott, I remarked with pain the ravages disease had made upon him. He was often abstracted ; and it was only when warmed with his subject that the light blue eye shot, from under the pent-house brow, with the fir and spirit that recalled the Author of Waverley,

“ The 1st of May was appointed for a visit to Frescati; and it gave me great pleasure to have an opportunity of showing attention to Sir Walter without the appearance of obtrusiveness.

“ The Villa Muti, which belonged to the late Car

There is a por

dinal of York, has, since his death, fallen into the hands of several proprietors; it yet retains, however, some relics of its former owner. trait of Charles I., a bust of the Cardinal, and another of the Chevalier de St. George. But, above all, a picture of the fête given on the promotion of the Cardinal in the Piazza de S. S. Apostoli (where the palace in which the Stuarts resided still bears the name of the Palazzo del Pretendente) occupied Sir Walter's attention. In this picture he discovered, or fancied he did so, the portraits of several of the distinguished followers of the exiled family. One he pointed out as resembling a picture he had seen of Cameron of Lochiel, whom he described as a dark, hard-featured man.

He spoke with admiration of his devoted loyalty to the Stuarts. I also showed him an ivory head of Charles I., which had served as the top of Cardinal York's walking stick. He did not fail to look at it with a lively interest.

“ He admired the house, the position of which is of surpassing beauty, commanding an extensive view over the Campagna of Rome; but he deplored the fate of his favourite princes, observing that this was a poor substitute for all the splendid palaces to which they were heirs in England and Scotland. The place where we were suggested the topic of conversation. He was walking, he told me, over the field of Preston, and musing on the unlooked-for event of that

day, when he was suddenly startled by the sound of the minute-guns proclaiming the death of George IV.* Lost in the thoughts of ephemeral glory suggested by the scene, he had forgotten, in the momentary success of his favourite hero, his subsequent misfor. tunes and defeat. The solemn sound, he added, admonished him of the futility of all earthly triumphs ; and reminded him that the whole race of the Stuarts had passed away, and was now followed to the grave by the first of the royal house of Brunswick who had reigned in the line of legitimate succession.

During this visit Sir Walter was in excellent spirits ; at dinner he talked and laughed, and Miss Scott assured me she had not seen him so gay since he left England. He put salt into his soup before tasting it, smiling as he did so. One of the company said, that a friend of his used to declare that he should eat salt with a limb of Lot's wife. Sir Walter laughed, observing that he was of Mrs. Siddons' mind, who, when dining with the Provost of Edinburgh, and being asked by her host if the beef were too salt, replied, in her emphatic tones of deep tragedy, which Sir Walter mimicked very comically,

66

• Beef cannot be too salt for me, my lord.'

“ Sir Walter, though he spoke no foreign language with facility, read Spanish as well as Italian.

See ante, Vol. IX. p. 351.

He expressed the most unbounded admiration for Cervantes, and said that the novelas' of that author had first inspired him with the ambition of excelling in fiction, and that, until disabled by illness, he had been a constant reader of them. He added, that he had formerly made it a practice to read through the • Orlando' of Boiardo, and the Orlando' of Ariosto, once every year.

Of Dante he knew little, confessing he found him too obscure and difficult. I was sitting next him at dinner, at Lady Coventry's, when this conversation took place. He added, with a smile,— It is mortifying that Dante seemed to think nobody worth being sent to hell but his own Italians, whereas other people had every bit as great rogues in their families, whose misdeeds were suffered to pass with impunity I said that he, of all men, had least right to make this complaint, as his own ancestor, Michael Scott, was consigned to a very tremendous punishment in the twentieth canto of the Inferno. His attention was roused, and I quoted the passage

[blocks in formation]

He seemed pleased, and alluded to the subject more than once in the course of the evening.

“ One evening when I was with him, a person called to petition him in favour of the sufferers from the recent earthquake at Foligno. He instantly gave his name to the list with a very handsome subscription. This was by no means the only occasion on which I observed him eager and ready to answer the calls of charity.

“ I accompanied Sir Walter and Miss Scott one morning to the Protestant burial-ground. The road to this spot runs by the side of the Tyber, at the foot of Mount Aventine, and in our drive we passed several of the most interesting monuments of ancient Rome. The house of the Tribune Rienzi, and the temple of Vesta, arrested his attention. This little circular temple, he said, struck him more than many of the finer ruins. Infirmity had checked his curiosity. “I walk with pain,' he said, " and what we see whilst suffering, makes little impression on us; it is for this reason that much of what I saw at Naples, and which I should have enjoyed ten years ago,

I have already forgotten.' The Protestant buryingground lies near the Porta S. Paolo, at the foot of the noble pyramid of Caius Cestius. Miss Scott was anxious to see the grave of her friend, Lady Charlotte Stopford. Sir Walter was unable to walk, and while my brother attended Miss Scott to the spot, I remained in the carriage with him. I regret,' he said, “that I cannot go. It would have been a satisfaction to me to have seen the place where they have

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »