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Title: Charles Lever, His Life in His Letters, Vol. II
Author: Lever, Charles James, 1806-1872, Downey, Edmund, 1856-1937
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Charles Lever, His Life in His Letters, Vol. II" ***

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His Life in His Letters

By Edmund Downey

With Portraits

In Two Volumes, Vol. II.

William Blackwood And Sons

Edinburgh And London



_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Jan_. 2,1863 [? 1864].

"I am not sure--so much has your criticism on 'Tony' weighed with me,
and so far have I welded his fortunes by your counsel--that you'll not
have to own it one of these days as your own, and write 'T. B. by J.
B.' in the title. In sober English, I am greatly obliged for all the
interest you take in the story,--an interest which I insist on believing
includes me fully as much as the Magazine. For this reason it is that
I now send you another instalment, so that if change or suppression be
needed, there will be ample time for either.

"Whenever Lytton says anything of the story let me have it. Though his
counsels are often above me, they are always valuable. You will have
received O'D. before this, and if you like it, I suppose the proof will
be on the way to me. As to the present envoy of 'Tony,' if you think
that an additional chapter would be of advantage to the part for March,
take chapters xxv. and xxvi. too if you wish, for I now feel getting up
to my work again, though the ague still keeps its hold on me and makes
my alternate days very shaky ones.

"I am sorry to say that, grim as I look in marble, I am more stern and
more worn in the flesh. I thought a few days ago that it was nearly up,
and I wrote my epitaph--

     "For fifty odd years I lived in the thick of it,
     And now I lie here heartily sick of it.

"Poor Thackeray! I cannot say how I was shocked at his death. He wrote
his 'Irish Sketch-Book,' which he dedicated to me, in my old house
at Templeogue, and it is with a heavy heart I think of all our long
evenings together,--mingling our plans for the future with many a jest
and many a story.

"He was fortunate, however, to go down in the full blaze of his
genius--as so few do. The fate of most is to go on pouring water on the
lees, that people at last come to suspect they never got honest liquor
from the tap at all.

"I got a strange proposal t'other day from America, from The New
York Institute, to go out and give lectures or readings there. As
regards money it was flattering enough, but putting aside all questions
as to my ability to do what I have never tried, there is in America an
Irish element that would certainly assail me, and so I said 'No.' The
_possibility_ of doing the thing somewhere has now occurred to me. Would
they listen to me in Edinburgh, think you? I own to you frankly I don't
like the thought,--it is not in any way congenial to ma _Ma che voleté?_
I'd do it, as I wear a shabby coat and drink a small claret, though
I'd like broadcloth and Bordeaux as well as my neighbours. Give me your
opinion on this. I have not spoken of it to any others.

"My very best wishes for you and all yours in the year to come."

_To Mr William Blackwood_.

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Jan_. 11, 1864.

"I thank you sincerely for your kind note, and all the hopeful things
you say of T. B. I am not in the least ashamed to say how easily elated
I feel by encouragement of this sort, any more than I am to own how
greatly benefited I have been by your uncle's criticisms.

"I also send O'D. The next thing I mean to do after I return from
Spezzia, where I go to-day, will be a short O'D. for March, and by that
time I think it not improbable we shall be in the midst of great events
here to record.

"Tell your uncle to cut out my Scotch _ad lib_. All my recollections of
the dialect date from nigh thirty years ago in the N. of Ireland.

"Believe me with what pleasure I make your acquaintance, and with every
good wish of the good season," &c.

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Jan_. 22.

"I was right glad to get your letter, and gladder to find the 'Tony' No.
7 pleased you. You know so much of that strange beast the public, which
for so many a year I have only known by report, that when you tell me
the thing will do I gain fresh courage; and what between real calamities
and the small rubs of life administered to me of late years in a severer
shape than I ever felt before, I do need courage.

"Most men who had written so long and so much as I have done would have
become thick-hided, but if I am so, it is only to attack--aggressive
attack. To anything like reproof, remonstrance, or appeal, I am more
open than I ever was in my earlier days, not merely because with greater
knowledge of my own shortcomings I feel how much I need it, but that the
amount of interest it implies, the sympathy for which it vouches, warms
my heart, and gives me renewed vigour and the wish and the hope to do

"Now I only inflict all this egotism upon you the better to thank you
for your kind counsels; in fact, I am disclosing the depth of my wound
to show my gratitude to my doctor who is curing it.

"Proof has not yet reached me, and I therefore cannot justify, by any
plausibility in the context, how the night was so fine for Alice and the
morning so severe for Tony.*

     * Mr Blackwood had written: "Observe that in the garden
     scene you make it a fine night, and from the morning showing
     before they separated, apparently the night was short;
     whereas when Tony started in the cold and snow for Burnside
     it was clearly winter."

"You are right. I feel it more strongly since you said it that Tony has
a long way to go. Hope he is worthy of Alice; but is he in this respect
any worse than his neighbours? I don't believe any man was worth the
woman that inspired a real passion, and he only became approximately so
by dint of loving her. And so if T. B. does ever turn out a good fellow
it is Alice has done it, and not yours very faithfully.

"My thanks for your cheque, which came all safe. I thought O'D. had
better be anecdotic and gossipy at _first_, but when I send you the
batch (which I will in a day or two), tell me if something more didactic
ought to come into preachment."

_To Mr John Blackwood_

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Jan_. 22, 1864.

"I send you herewith a piece of O'Dowderie, and if it be too light--I
don't suspect that's its fault--I'll weight it; and if it be too doughy,
I'll put more barm in it; and, last of all, if you don't like it, I'll
burn it.

"What in the name of all good manners does Lord Russell mean by writing
impertinences to all Europe? He is like an old Irish beggar well known
in Dublin who sat in a bowl and kicked all round him. As to fighting for
the Danes, it is sheer nonsense. They haven't a fragment of a case, and
we should not enjoy Mr Pickwick's poor.... consolation of shouting with
the largest mob.

"The Italians are less warlike than a month ago. The 'Men of Action'--as
the party call themselves who write in the newspapers but never take the
field--declare that they are only waiting for the signal of 'Kossuth'
from Hungary; but the fate of the Poles--who _do_ fight and are brave
soldiers--is a terrible _a fortiori_ lesson to these people here, and I
suspect they are imbibing it.

"I got a long letter yesterday from Lord Malmesbury and the criticism of
Kinglake's history. Why they don't like it I cannot imagine. I believe
he has hit the exact measure of the Emperor's capacity, courage, and
character altogether, and I go with him in everything."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Florence, _Feb_. 11, 1864.

"It seems to be leaking out that both Pam and Russell have been what the
sporting men call 'squared' by the Queen, who would not hear of a
war with Germany. The Court plays very often a more prominent part
in foreign politics than the nation wots of, and certainly the Prince
during the Crimean war maintained close correspondence with persons in
the confidence of the R. Emperor,--not treasonably, of course, but
in such a way as to require great watchfulness on the part of our
Ministers. This I know. There is, in fact, the game of kings as well as
of nations, and the issue not always identical.

"Our glorious weather has come back, though we hear it has been severe
along the coast, and snow has actually fallen in some places.

"To-day I am to have a consultation about my wife with an Edinburgh
professor of note who is passing through to Rome. The opportunity was
not to be lost, though the bare proposal has made her very nervous.

"My proofs--my proofs--are lost! gone Heaven knows where!--and here I
sit lamenting, and certainly doing nothing else. I cannot take up
the end of an unknown thread, and if I did go on, it would be to make
Luttrell in love with Dolly Stuart.

"Only fancy my sitting for nigh an hour last night where a man [?
retailed] the story of 'T. Butler,' which he had been reading in

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, _Feb_. 13,1864.

"No proof. I must have made a fiasco of it in writing to C. & H. to
release the proof detained in London, and which they will now discover
to be 'Tony'! Into what scrapes flunkeys, messengers, _et hoc genus_, do
betray us. I have offended more people in life by the awkwardness of my
servants than I have done by all my proper shortcomings, which have not
been few. I send you two chapters for the May number, which I intend,
however, to be longer by another chapter if you desire it.

"I have been casting my eyes over the 'Athelings' in the 3-vol. form.
Is that the length you wish for 'Tony Butler'? I never like being
long-winded, but I am, after all my experiences, a precious bad judge
of the time one ought to begin to 'pucker up the end of the stocking.'
Advise me, therefore, on this, as on all else, about 'Tony.'

"The cold weather has all but done for me, and set my 'shaking'
fearfully at work. The post is now two days _en retard_ here, and I
have great misgivings about all Italian management of everything save

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Feb_. 19.

"The proofs arrived to-day under the envelope that I forward. On
learning from the post office in London that a proof of mine was
detained there, I immediately surmised it must be one of my serial story
'Luttrell,' and enclosed the reference to C. & H. to release it. Now
I find that it is 'Tony' and O'D. Consequently I am in terror lest our
secret be out and all our hitherto care defeated by this _maladetto_
messenger who 'crimped the tuppence.' I want you therefore to assure me,
if you can assure me, that C. & Hall's people, when sent to St Martin's
le Grand to release the proof, had no power to open and examine it, nor
any privilege to carry it away with them out of the office. If this be
the case, of course there is no mischief done, and I am _quitte pour la
peur_; but pray do tell me the regulation on the subject, and for
Heaven's sake and Tony's sake, water that man's grog who posted the
packet originally, or tell me his name, and I'll call my next villain by
it, if I have to write another story."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Feb_. 25, 1864.

"It is quite true, as you surmised; claims and demands of all sorts
have been presented to me, and in my deeper and heavier cares there have
mixed vexations and worries all the more bitter that to remedy them was
no longer to build up a hope.

"My only anxiety about the missing proof was that it might lead to the
discovery of our secret as to the authorship of 'Tony.' You have by your
present letter allayed this fear, and I am easy.

"I await the proof, and what you say of it, to see if the last portion
of 'Tony' will do. I own I thought better of it in _writing_ than it
perhaps deserves on _reading_.

"You must tell me, however, what number of sheets you think 3 vols,
ought to be, for I want to make the craft as ship-shape as I am able.

"Be assured of one thing: I never for many a year felt more anxious for
success, and the anxiety is only half selfish, if so much."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Feb_. 25, 1864.

"In the O'D. I now send, the order should be: (1) Law, (2) Organ,
(3) Chevalier d'Industrie. The last is a sketch of a notorious
(Continentally) Robert Napoleon Flynn, made Chief-Justice of Tobago by
Lord Normanby in '36 or '37, the appointment being rescinded before he
could go out. It was Grant who met him at Padua last week.

"I am terribly shaky and shaken. I hope I'll be able to finish 'Tony'
before I go, but sometimes I think it will have to figure as a fragment.
My headaches seldom leave me, and for the first time in my life I have
become a bad sleeper.

"Let me have a proof of T. B. as soon as you can conveniently, for I
want to get off to Spezzia and see what change of air and no pen-and-ink
will do for me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Feb_.

"I have just got back from Spezzia, and found your pleasant note but no
proof. It will probably arrive to-morrow. Of course it was right to tell
Aytoun. I am the gladder of it, as perhaps I may get the benefit of his
advice occasionally. Tell him what a hearty admirer he has in me, and
with what pleasure I'd make his acquaintance. His glorious Lays are
immense favourites of mine, and it is time I should thank you for the
magnificent copy of them they sent me.

"Grant--Speke's Grant--drank tea with me a few nights back. I like
him much; he is about the most modest traveller I ever met with. If an
Irishman had done the half of his exploits he would not be endurable for
ten years afterwards.

"I see Le Fanu has completed in the D. U. M. his clever story 'Wylder's
Hand,' making his 3-vol. novel out of fifteen magazine sheets. As I
suppose your pages are about the same as the Dub., tell me what you
think our length ought to be.

"Why don't you throw your eyes over--not read, I don't ask
that--'Luttrell,' and tell me what you think of it? I am so fearfully
nervous of having got to the lees of the cask, that I have a nervous
impatience to know what people think of the liquor."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Florence, _March_ 2, 1864.

"I got yesterday an F. O. declaring that Lord R. did not opine that we
came within the provisions of chap. &c, and Act so-and-so Elizabeth,
and therefore declined to accord us the assistance we had asked for.
Thereupon I wrote an urgent and pressing letter to Napier, stating that
I found myself so pledged by his assurances to my Church colleagues,
that I begged he would immediately report to me what progress our
application had made, in order that I might communicate it to our C.
committee. I hope for a speedy reply.

"I have half a hope that the Whigs are falling. Pam's State declarations
about Denmark _ought_ to overthrow any Administration. Even Gladstone,
so able in subterfuge, was not equal to the task assigned him of showing
Black to be very frequently, but not naturally, White."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _March_ 3,1864

"I only write one line to acknowledge and thank you for your cheque,
which has just reached me. I have not looked at pen-and-ink for the past
week, but I am on the road to get stronger. I always feel, in taking
port wine (a hard thing to get here) for my ague, as if I were
using crown pieces to repair the coppering of a shattered old craft.
Better-keep the money and let the worthless boat go to ------ I won't
say the devil, lest there come a confusion in my figure of speech.

"Of course 'Tony' is the main thing. In O'D. I am only like the retired
Cat Princess, who merely caught mice for her amusement. I'll read the
L. N. article with attention. Is Laurence Oliphant, _par hazard_, the
author? He is a charming fellow, and I like him greatly, but I'd not
think him a safe guide politically.

"I like Grant much, and have been at him to write some camp-life
sketches on Africa. The Yankees here want him to go over to America and
lecture, but he is far too modest to stand scrutiny from opera-glasses."

_To Dr Burbidge_.

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _March_ 4,1864.

"I had hoped to have got a line from you either last night or the night
before about your flunkey; so I am unable to wait longer, and must
take one of the creatures that offers here. Indeed, making the one
who remains do all the work has installed him into a position of such
insolent tyranny, it will take a month at least to reduce him to his
proper proportions.

"Some disaster has befallen my No. of 'Luttrell' for April, No. 5, and I
can hear nothing of it. The proof and added part were sent from this, by
me, four weeks ago, and after that....

"I have not written for the last eight or ten days, but I am getting all
right, and take long walks every day, looking at villas, of which there
are scores, but scarcely a habitable one, at least as a permanent abode,
to be found.

"There is not one word of news beyond the arming of the French fleet. I
find that many Mazzinists here believe that Mazzini was really engaged
in the late plot; but I can neither believe the plot nor that he was in
it. I look upon it as a very clumsy police trick throughout.

"My wife makes no advance towards health,--a day back and a day forward
is the history of her life; but everything shows me that to undertake
a journey to Spezzia without feeling that I had a comfortable place for
her when there, and that she could remain without another change back in
winter, would be a fatal mistake."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, _March_ 8,1864.

"The whole story of R N. F. (Robert Napoleon Flynn, his real name) is
an unexaggerated fact, and I have only culled a very few of the traits
known to me, and not given, as perhaps I ought, a rather droll scene I
had with him myself at Spezzia. The man was originally a barrister, and
actually appointed Chief-Justice of Tobago by Lord Normanby, and as
such presented to the Queen at the Levée. The appointment was rescinded,
however, and the fellow sent adrift.

"I have met a large number of these fellows of every nation, but
never one with the same versatility as this, nor with the same hearty
enjoyment of his own rascality. Dickens never read over a successful
proof with one-half the zest Flynn has felt when sending off--as I
have known him to do--a quizzing letter to a Police Prefect from whose
clutches he had just escaped by crossing a frontier. He is, in fact, the
grand _artiste_, and he feels it.

"I am glad you like 'O'Dowd': first of all, they are the sort of things
I can do best. I have seen a great deal of life, and have a tolerably
good memory for strange and out-of-the-way people, and I am sure such
sketches are far more my 'speciality' than story-writing.

"I assure you your cheery notes do me more service than my
sulph.-quinine, and I have so much of my old schoolboy blood in me that
I do my tasks better with praise than after a caning.

"Your sketch of the French Legitimist amused me much. The insolence of
these rascals is the fine thing about them, as t'other day I heard one
of our own amongst them (the uncle of a peer, and a great name too)
reply, when I found him playing billiards at the club and asked him how
he was getting on: 'Badly, Lever, badly, or you wouldn't find me playing
half-crown pool with three snobs that I'd not have condescended to know
ten years ago.' And this _the three snobs_ had to listen to!

"I am far from sure Grant was not 'done' by Flynn. But t'other night
Labouchere (Lord Taunton's nephew and heir, who is the L. of the story)
met Grant here, and we all pressed G. to confess he had been 'walked
into,' but he only grew red and confused, and as we had laughed so much
at F.'s victims, he would not own to having been of the number.

"The Napoleon paper is very good, and perhaps not exaggerated. It is
the best sketch of the campaign I ever read, and only wants a further
allusion to the intentions of the 4th corps under Prince Napoleon to be
a perfect history of the event.

"'Schleswig-Holstein' admirable. I am proud of my company and _au

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Casa Capponi, _Wednesday_, March 1864.

"I thank you sincerely for the trouble you have had about my proof:
honestly, I only wanted a criticism, but I forgot you had not seen the
last previous part. As to what is to _come_, you know, I am sorry to say
it, just as much as I do.

"'Luttrell' No. 5, that is for next month, has been in part lost, and I
am in a fearful hobble about it,--that is, I must re-write, without any
recollection of where, what, or how.

"My poor wife has been seriously, very seriously, attacked. Last night
Julia was obliged to stay up with her, and to-day, though easier, she
is not materially better. I write in great haste, as I have only got up,
and it is nigh one o'clock, and the post closes early."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _March_ 18, 1864.

"B. L.'s criticism on T. B. amused me greatly. Did you never hear of the
elder who waited on Chief-Justice Holt to say, 'The Lord hath sent me
to thee to say that thou must stop that prosecution that is now going
on against me,' and Holt replied, 'Thou art wrong, my friend; the Lord
never sent thee on such an errand, for He well knoweth it is not I, but
the Attorney-General, that can enter a _nolle prosequi._' But B[ulwer]
L[ytton]'s fine pedantry beats the Chief-Justice hollow, with this
advantage that he is wrong besides. Nothing is more common than for
Ministers to 'swap' patronage. It was done in my own case, and to my
sorrow, for I refused a good thing from one and took a d------d bad one
from another. _Au reste_, he is all right both as to O'D. and Maitland.
O'D. ought to be broader and wider. I have an idea that with a few
illustrations it would make a very readable sort of gossiping book. I am
not quite clear how far reminiscences and bygones come in well in such a
_mélange_. After all, it is only a hash at best, and one must reckon on
it that the meat has been cooked already. What do _you_ say? I have
some Irish recollections of noticeable men like Bushe, Lord Guillamore,
Plunkett, &c., too good to be lost, but perhaps only available as
apropos to something passing.

"I have thought of some of these as subjects: Good Talkers--_Le Sport_
Abroad--Diplomacy--Demi-monde Influences--Whist--Irish Justice--Home
as the Bon Marché of Europe--Travelled Americans--Plan of a new Cookery
Book (with a quiz on Charters, your book), showing what to eat every
month of the year. These I scratch down at random, for I can't write
just yet: I have got gout _vice_ ague retired, and my knuckle is as big
as a walnut.

"I hope you have received T. B. before this. I am very sorry the
conspirator chapter of T. B. does not appear this month, when the
question of Stanfield is before the public, but I think O'Dowd might
well touch on the question of the politicians of the knife. Give me your
counsel about all these. B. L.'s remark that Maitland belonged to
twenty or thirty years ago is perfectly just, and very acute too; but,
unfortunately, so do I too. Do you remember old Lord Sefton's reply
when the Bishop of Lincoln tried to repress him one day at dinner from
entering upon old college recollections by saying, 'Oh, my lord, the
devil was strong in us in those days'? 'I wish he was strong in me now,
my Lord Bishop!' I am afraid I am something of his mind."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _March_ 20, 1864.

"As it is likely I shall start to-morrow for Spezzia to give them a
touch of my 'consular quality,' I send you a line to thank you for
your kind note, and with it a portion (all I have yet done) of the next
'O'Dowd.' I shall, however, meditate as I go, and perhaps the Providence
who supplies oddities to penny-a-liners may help me to one in the train.

"I thank you heartily for the offer of a mount, but I have grown
marvellously heavy, in more ways than one, this last year or two; and
the phrase of my daughter when ordering my horse to be saddled may
illustrate the fact, as she said, 'Put the howdah on papa's elephant.'

"Don't fancy the Italians are not athletes. All the great performers of
feats of strength come from Italy. Belzoni the traveller was one. They
have a game here called _Paettone_, played with a ball as large as
a child's head and flung to an incredible distance, which combines
strength, skill, and agility. Then as to swimming, I can only say that
I and my two eldest daughters can cross Spezzia--the width is three
miles,--and yet we are beaten hollow every season by Italians. They
swim in a peculiar way, turning from side to side and using the arms
alternately; and when there is anything of a sea they never top the
waves, but shoot through them, which gives immense speed, but it is a
process I never could master. We had a swim last year with old General
Menegaldo, who swam the Lido with Byron: he is now eighty-four years
old, and he swam a good mile along with us. I intend, if I can throw
off my gout, to have a day or two in the blue water next week, though I
suspect in your regions the idea would suggest a shiver. The weather is
fine here now--in fact, too hot for many people."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _March_ 30, 1864.

"I was sorry to find last night that my proofs had not reached you, and
as I want your opinion greatly, I send you mine, which I have not looked
over yet.

"If it had not been for this detestable weather (and I can fancy how
Spezzia looks in it, for even Florence is dismal) I'd have gone down
to-day, for my wife has been a shade better since Sunday, and I want
to have a good conscience and be assured that I cannot possibly find
a house at Spezzia before I close for a little nook of a villa here--a
small crib enough, but, like everything else, very dear.

"I have my misgivings, my more than misgivings, about the Derbys
coming in. It is evident Lord D. does not wish power, and he is rather
impatient at the hungry eagerness of poorer men, and so I suspect my
own chances, if not to be tried now, will not be likely to survive for
another occasion. I therefore resign myself, as people call what they
cannot do more than grumble over, and 'make my book' to scribble on for
a subsistence to the end."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, _April_ 6, 1864.

"Here I am visiting the authorities and being visited by them, playing
off--and quite seriously too--the farce that we are all dignitaries,
and of essential consequence to the States we severally serve. 'How we
apples swim!' My only consolation is that there is no public to laugh at
us--all the company are on the stage.

"I mean to get back to Florence by the end of the week. You shall have
an instalment of T. B. immediately.

"If Lord D. gets his congress for Denmark it will be hard to dislodge
the Government--the more with a two-million-and-a-half surplus. In fact,
a good harvest is the Providence of the Whigs, and they are invariably
pulled out of their scrapes by sheer luck. At the same time, if Lord
Derby comes in, where could he find a Foreign Minister?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, _April_ 6, 1864

"The post has just brought me O'D. on 'Whist,' but no proof of 'The
Woman in Diplomacy.' Perhaps I blundered and never sent it, or perhaps
you got but did not like it. At all events, I return the 'Whist' by this
post corrected. If there had been time I'd have dashed off an O'D. on
French Justice in Criminal Cases, apropos to that late infamy of M.
Pellier, but I fancied you had got enough of O'D. for this coming month,
and probably you are of the same mind.

"I have done my consulars here--that is, I have called on the
authorities and had them all to dinner, the bishop included; and we have
fraternised very cordially and drank all manner of violent deaths to
Mazzini, and to-morrow I go back into the obscurity of private life,
and forget if I can that I have been a great man. Wasn't it a Glasgow
dignitary who resented being called a man on a trial, and exclaimed,
'I'm not a man, I'm a bailie'?

"I see by 'The Telegraph' that Lord Clarendon has joined the Government
and Stansfield left. There is a twofold game in that, for I don't
despair of seeing them beaten if the Queen does not put pressure on Lord
Derby, for there is a sentiment in his class that, with regard to the
Crown, rises above all party considerations, and represents that old
feudal feeling by which nobles stood round the monarchy at any personal
loss or peril.

"That letter to 'The Times' about the Italian Government seizing
Garibaldi's balance at his banker's is all rot. The Government simply
sequestrated a revolutionary fund subscribed by revolutionists for
public disturbance, and openly, flagrantly so done. Why will _patriots_
never be truthful?"

_To Dr Burbidge_.

"Casa Capponi, _Thursday_, 10 [1864].

"These questionable publishers who say, 'Buy my share and I'll give you
a book,' represent the contract by which Sanders obtained Marola. That
is, _he_ bought the shares--viz., the house, and _they_ gave him the
book, meaning the 'Arsenal.' All fair and right so far! But nobody ever
supposed that the share was connected with the book, had a market value,
or was worth more to a purchaser than its price as a _share_. Now the
opposite is precisely the mistake Sanders has fallen into. The rent of
Marola represents in pounds the eagerness of M. Bolla to sign a certain
agreement, but _I_ have no such eagerness; for _me_ no docks are digged,
no mud excavated, no roads cut up and trees cut down; _I_ have no
interest in all the filth, dirt, drunkenness, or small assassinations
introduced into a once lonely spot; I neither derive ten per cent
profits or sixty per cent frauds. I have no part in the honest gains of
Sanders or in the wholesale robberies of Bolla,--I merely want a house
at the price of a house. Hence to pay £60 to £70 for a two-floor villa,
furnished!--three chairs and the bath,--is certes too dear, not to add
the Mackie difficulty. I have nothing definitely about my villa here,
nor need I for some days.

"Is the wretched little toy-house under the Cappucines still unlet? and
if so, what rent does M. Torri expect for it?--for, though _he_ has _no
straw_, he has more than the equivalent in the pestilent rascality of a
true Spezzino.

"I hear from 'The Morning Post' people that Pam has at length got the
Emperor's consent to be warlike. _A la remarque de la France_ is a tune
we know better nowadays than 'Rule Britannia.' The story goes: _he_, L.
N., is to have the _freyen deutschen Rhein_, and we are to be permitted
to fill up again M. Lessep's canal at Suez--_suum caique._

"Who is to say _l'Alliance_ brings no gain? One clears a river, t'other
fills a drain.

"It is absurd to revile--as 'The Times' does--the Derbys for not
announcing a policy. It is only a wise precaution in a bather who has
once been robbed to hide his clothes when he next goes for a swim. This
is all Dizzy is doing.

"I am now in a rare mess about 'Luttrell,' and cannot write a word."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, _April_ 7, 1864.

"I now send you the June 'Tony,' anxious to hear that you are satisfied.
If I bore you by my insistence in this way, my excuse is that just as a
sharp-flavoured wine turns quickest to vinegar, all the once lightness
of heart I had has now grown to a species of irritable anxiety. Of
course it is the dread a man feels of growing old lest he become more
feeble than he even suspects, and I confess to you that I can put
up with my shaky knees and swelled ankles better than I can with my
shortcomings in brain matters. At all events, I am doing as well as I
can, and quite ready to be taught to do better."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _April_ 11, 1864.

"Only think of finding in 'The Galignani' yesterday this paragraph about
Flynn. I send it to you, leaving it entirely to your choice to insert
in next O'D. It has _this_ merit, that it will serve to show O'D. is not
_all imaginary_, but that it deals with real rogues as well as with men
in buckram suits.

"I have got an 'O'Dowd' in my head that I think will amuse you if I can
write it as it struck me,--a thing that does not always happen, I am
sorry to say.

"The Italians were at first very savage about all your Garibaldian
enthusiasm. Now, however, with true Italian subtlety they affect to take
it as a national compliment. This is clever."

_From Mr John Blackwood._

"Edinburgh, _April_ 5, 1864.

"In walking home together yesterday afternoon, Aytoun and I had fits of
laughter over O'Dowd. The thing that has tickled him is the victim of
Cavour's eternal schemes for Italian progress, especially the plans
turning up in the dead man's bureau. He agrees with me in thinking
that you have completely taken second wind. I improved the occasion
by commenting upon his own utter incapacity,--the lazy villain has not
written a line for two years. A sheriffship and a professorship are
fatal to literary industry. It would be well worth while for any
Government to give any man who is active in writing against them a good
fat place, but it is fatal for them so to patronise their friends. God
knows, however, that patronising their literary friends is a crime of
which Governments are not often guilty, but I hope with all my heart
that if we do come in, your turn, something good, will come at last."

_To Mr John Blackwood,_

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _April_ 17, 1864.

"How glad I am to be the first to say there is to be no 'mystery'
between us. I have wished for this many a day, and have only been
withheld from feeling that I was not quite certain whether my gratitude
for the cheer and encouragement you have given me might not have run
away with my judgment and made me forget the force of the Italian adage,
'It takes two to make a bargain.'

"How lightly you talk of ten years! Why, I was thirty years younger ten
years ago than I am to-day. I'd have ridden at a five-foot wall with
more pluck than I can summon now at a steep staircase. But I own to you
frankly, if I had known _you_ then as I do now, it might have wiped off
some of this score of years. Even my daughters guess at breakfast when I
have had a pleasant note from you.

"I have thought over what you say about Garibaldi's visit to Mazzini,
and added a bit to tag to the article. I have thought it better to say
nothing of Stansfield--I know him so little; and though I think him an
ass, yet he might feel like the tenor who, when told, 'Monsieur, vous
chantez faux,' replied, 'Je le sais, monsieur, mais je ne veux pas qu'on
me le dise.'

"Don't cut out the Haymarket ladies if you can help it. The whole thing
is very naughty, but it can't be otherwise. I'll try and carry it on a
little farther. I have very grand intentions--more paving-stones for the
place my hero comes from.

"But ask Aytoun what he thinks of it, and if it be worth carrying out.
The 'Devil's Tour' would be better than 'Congé.'

"The rhymes are often rough, but I meant them to be rugged lest it
should be suspected I thought myself capable of verse--and I know

"Do what you like about the Flynn P.S. Perhaps it will be best not to
make more mention of the rascal. I must tell you some day of my own
scene with him at Spezzia, which 'The Telegraph' fellow has evidently
heard of."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Monday_, April 18,1864.

"On second thoughts I remembered how far easier it was always to me to
make a new rod than to splice an old one, so I send you the Devil as
he is. If ever the vein comes to me, I can take him up hereafter. Let
Aytoun judge whether it be safe or wise to publish. I myself think that
a bit of wickedness has always a certain gusto in good company, while
amongst inferior folks it would savour of coarseness. This is too bleak
an attempt at explaining what I mean, but you will understand me.

"Last verse--

     "For of course it lay heavily on his mind,
     And greatly distressed him besides, to find
     How these English had left him miles behind
     In this marvellous civilisation."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _April_ 30, 1864

"For the first time these eight days I have looked at my bottle--the
ink-bottle--again. I am subject to periodical and very acute attacks of
'doing-nothingness.'--it would be euphuism to call it idleness, which
implies a certain amount of indulgence, but mine are dreary paroxysms of
incapacity to do anything other than sleep and eat and grumble.

"I wanted for the best of all possible reasons to be up and at work, and
I could not. I tried to--but it wouldn't do! At least I have found out
it would be far better to do nothing at all than to do what would be so
lamentably bad and unreadable.

"When I first got these attacks--they are of old standing now--I really
fancied it was the 'beginning of the end,' and that it was all up with
me. Now I take them as I do a passing fit of gout, and hope a few days
will see me through it.

"This is my excuse for not sending off the proof of 'Tony' before. I
despatch it now, hoping it is all right, but beseeching you to see it
is. I suppose you are right about Staffa, and that, like the sentinel
who couldn't see the Spanish fleet, I failed for the same reason."
During the first fourteen or fifteen years of Lever's residence in
Florence, Italy had been in the melting-pot. The Tuscan Revolution of
1848, the defeat of the Sardinians, and the abdication of Carlo Alberto
in the following year, the earlier struggle of Garibaldi, the long
series of troubles with Austria (ending in the defeat of the Austrians),
feuds with the Papal States, insurrections in Sicily, the overthrow of
the Pope's government, the Neapolitan war, and, to crown all,
triumphant brigandage, had made things lively for dwellers in Italy.
The recognition by the Powers of Victor Emanuel as king of United Italy
promised, early in 1862, a period of rest; but the expectations of
peace-lovers were shattered, for the moment, by Garibaldi's threatened
march upon Rome. His defeat, his imprisonment in the fortress of
Varignano, and his release, inspired hopes, well-founded, of the
conclusion of the struggles (largely internecine) which had convulsed
New Italy. Upon Garibaldi's release Lever naturally sought out his
distinguished Spezzian neighbour, and one morning he had the pleasure of
entertaining him at breakfast. It was said that the British Minister at
Florence was eager that the Italian patriot should be disabused of
the favourable impressions he was supposed to entertain of the Irish
revolutionary movement. The Vice-Consul at Spezzia found it necessary to
explain to his guest that any overt expressions or acts of sympathy with
Fenianism would be certain to alienate English sympathies. Garibaldi
seemed to be somewhat surprised at this. He looked on England as a
nation eager to applaud any patriotic or revolutionary movement. Lever
is said--the authority is Major Dwyer--to have been unable to comprehend
how a man so ignorant and childish as Garibaldi could have attained such
vast influence over a people, and could have won such general renown.
In his statements about his friend's literary work or literary opinions,
Major Dwyer is not a thoroughly safe guide. He had a weakness for
patronising Lever, for declaring that he said or thought this or that--
usually something which coincided with the Major's own opinion, and
which showed the novelist at a disadvantage. Dwyer's conviction was that
Lever the talker* was better than Lever the writer, and that Lever the
man was infinitely superior to both. Possibly the vice-consul was amused
at the simplicity of Garibaldi when Anglo-Irish affairs were under
discussion. Anyhow, it is much more likely that Cornelius O'Dowd's
true impressions are recorded in an article which he contributed to
'Blackwood's Magazine.' "It is not easy to conceive anything finer,
simpler, more thoroughly unaffected, or more truly dignified than the
man," writes Lever--"his noble head; his clever honest brown eyes;
his finely-traced mouth, beautiful as a woman's, and only strung up to
sternness when anything ignoble has outraged him; and, last of all, his
voice contains a fascination perfectly irresistible, allied as you
knew and felt these graces were with a thoroughly pure and untarnished
nature." While the Italian patriot lay wounded at Spezzia, Lever managed
to get a photograph taken of him. The photograph (a copy of which he
sent to Edinburgh) represents Garibaldi in bed, his red shirt enveloping
him. Mrs Blackwood Porter, in the third volume of 'The House of
Blackwood,' relates a most amusing anecdote of a situation arising out
of the embarrassing attentions of sympathisers who would persist
in visiting the invalid. Lever's sketch in 'Maga' evoked from John
Blackwood a very interesting letter.

     * The Major, amongst the many reminiscences of his friend
     confided to Dr Fitzpatrick, tells a tale of this period
     which shows that Lever, with all his tact, could
     occasionally allow temper to master discretion. A personage
     holding a high diplomatic post (which he had obtained
     notoriously through influence) said to Lever at some social
     gathering: "Your appointment is a sinecure, is it not?"
     "Not altogether," answered the consul. "But you are consul
     at Spezzia, and you live altogether at Florence," persisted
     the personage. "You got the post, I suppose, on account of
     your novels." "Yes, sir," replied Lever tartly, "I got the
     post in compliment to my brains: you got yours in
     compliment to your relatives."--E. D.

_From Mr John Blackwood._

"_April_ 27, 1864.

"I am particularly obliged to you for the promptitude with which you did
the bit about Garibaldi. It is, I think, the best thing that has been
written about the General, and I hope he is worthy of it. You will see
that the Garibaldi fever has been cut short, so that I shall have no
opportunity of using the note of introduction you so kindly sent, but
I am equally obliged. Fergusson (Sir William), the surgeon, is a very
intimate friend and old ally of mine, and I have no doubt he has given
genuine and sound advice. Garibaldi would doubtless have had innumerable
invitations to No. 9 Piccadilly, and I hope the hero has not damaged
himself. I have half a mind to write this joke to Fergusson, and call
for an explicit statement of the hero's health. Seriously, he is well
away at the present crisis, and we are making sufficient fools of
ourselves without this wild outbreak of hero-worship....

"Laurence Oliphant stayed with us for three days, and we had a 'fine
time.' I never saw such a fellow for knowing people, pulling the wires,
and being in the thick of it always. He is hand-and-glove with half the
potentates and conspirators in Europe. Skeffy in his wildest flights is
a joke to him. There is, however, no humbug about Oliphant; he is a good
fellow and a good friend. He talked much of the pleasant days he had
passed with you, and begged particularly to be remembered to you all.
Knowing I could trust him, I told him the secret, the importance of
keeping which he fully appreciated, and will assist in throwing people
off the scent, which 'O'Dowd' will, I think, put a good many upon.
There have been surmises in the papers, but surmises are nothing. How
is 'Tony' getting on, and the new 'O'Dowd'? I wish, indeed, we had come
across each other in earlier life; but it is no use your talking of
being seedy,--you are evidently as fresh as paint, and never wrote
better, if so well."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _May_ 5, 1864.

"I have just got home and found your note and its enclosed cheque. Why
this should be so large I have no idea nor any means of guessing, for
the Mag. has not yet arrived. You are right about the 'Devil,' but
he alone knows when and how I shall be in the vein to go on with his
experiences. I had to come back here hurriedly, which requires my
returning to Spezzia in a day or so, a sad interruption to work, and
coming awkwardly too, as I am driven to change my house,--the old
jaillike palace I have lived in for fifteen years has just been
bought by Government, and I am driven to a villa at some distance
from Florence--a small little crib nicely placed in a bit of Apennine
scenery, and quiet enough for much writing.

"I entirely agree with all you say of Oliphant: he is an able fellow,
and a good fellow; and there is no _blague_ whatever in his talking
familiarly of 'swells,' for he has lived, and does live, much in their
intimacy. He is not popular with the 'Diplos.' nor F. O., but the chief,
if not only, reason is, that he is a far cleverer fellow than most
of them, and has had the great misfortune of having shown this to the

"I want much to be at 'Tony' again, but it will be some three or four
days before I can settle down to work. When I have dashed off enough to
send I will, even though not enough for a number.

"I see by 'The Telegraph' that the fleet is to go to the Baltic, but not
for more than a demonstration. Does not this remind you of the Bishop of
Exeter's compromise about the candles on the altar, 'That they might be
there, but _not_ lighted.' I believe, as a nation, we are the greatest
humbugs in Europe; and, without intending it, the most illogical and
inconsequent people the world ever saw.

"I hope your little people are all well again and over the measles and
in the country with you, and that you are all as happy as I wish you.

"Supply the date of the Reform Bill for me in the 'New Hansard.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _May_ 10, 1864.

"Herewith go three chapters of 'Tony.' With the best will in the world
there are days when our dinners go off ill, our sherry is acrid,
our _entrées_ cold, and our jests vapid. Heaven grant (but I have my
misgivings) that some such fatality may not be over these 'Tonys.' My
home committee likes them better than I do; I pray heartily that _you_
be of _this_ mind.

"I shall be fretful and anxious till I hear from you about T. B., but
I go off to-morrow to Spezzia, and not to be back till Wednesday the
18th,--all Consular, all Bottomry, all Official for eight mortal days,

     "Of course I must show to the office 'I'm here,'
     And draw with good conscience two hundred a-year.
     I'd save fifty more, but of _that_ I am rid well
     By the agency charges of Allston and Bidwell."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _May_ 15,1864.

"More power to you! as we say in Ireland, for your pleasant letter.
I have got it, and I send you an O'D. I think you will like on 'Our
Masterly Inactivity,' and another on 'Our Pensions for Colonial

"As to next month's O'D., I don't know what will turn up; but [I am]
like poor old Drury--the clergyman at Brussels--whose profound reliance
on Providence once so touched an English lady that it moved her to
tears. 'He uttered,' said she--telling the story to Sir H. Seymour, who
told it to me--'he uttered one of the most beautiful sentiments I ever
heard from the lips of a Christian: "When I have dined heartily and
well, and drunk my little bottle of light Bordeaux, Mrs S.," said he,
"where Mrs Drury or the children are to get _their_ supper to-night
or their breakfast to-morrow, I vow to God I don't know, _and I don't
care_."' Now if that be not as sweet a little bit of hopeful trust in
manna from heaven as one could ask for, I'm a Dutchman, and I lay it to
my heart that somehow, somewhere, O'Dowderies will turn up for July as
they have done for June, for I shall certainly need them. You will have
had T. B. before this. I see you are stopping at my old 'Gite,' the
Burlington, my hotel ever since I knew London. There was an old waiter
there, Foster,--I remember him nigh thirty years,--who exercised towards
me a sort of parental charge, and rebuked my occasional late hours and
the light companions who laughed overmuch at breakfast with me in the
coffee-room. If he is _in vivente_, remember me to him."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _May_ 16,1864.

"I have just had your note, and am relieved to find that I have not lost
the 'Colonial Governors,' which I feared I had. I have added a page to
it. I have re-read it carefully, but I don't think it radical. Heaven
knows, I have nothing of the Radical about me but the poverty. At all
events, a certain width of opinion and semi-recklessness as to who or
what he kicks does not ill become O'D.., whose motto, if we make a book
of him, I mean to be 'Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur,'--

     "I care not a fig For Tory or Whig,
     But sit in a bowl and kick round me.

"Though the paper I sent yesterday on 'Our Masterly Inactivity' would
be very apropos at this juncture, there will scarcely be time to see a
proof of it, seeing that it could not be here before this day week.
If you cannot revise it yourself, it will be better perhaps to hold it
back, though I feel the moment of its 'opportunity' may pass. Do what
you think best. My corrections of the proof I send off now will have
to be closely looked to, and the MS. is to come in between the last
paragraph and the part above it."

_To Mr John Blackwood,_

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 7, 1864.

"We got into our little villa yesterday (it would not be little out of
Italy, for we have seven salons), and are very pleased with it. We are
only a mile from Florence, and have glorious views of the city and the
Val d'Arno on every side.

"The moving has, however, addled my head awfully; indeed, after all had
quitted the old Casa Capponi, a grey cat and myself were found wandering
about the deserted rooms, not realising the change of domicile. What
it can be that I cling to in my old room of the Capponi I don't know
(except a hole in the carpet perhaps), but certainly I do not feel
myself in writing vein in my new home....

"I hear strange stories of disagreements amongst the Conservatives, and
threats of splits and divi-sions. Are they well founded, think you?
The social severance of the party, composed as it is of men who never
associated freely together, as the Whigs did and do, is a great evil.
Indeed I think the ties of our party are weaker than in the days when
men dined more together.

"When C. leaders, some years back, offered to put me at the head of a
Conservative Press, I said this. Lord Eglinton and Lord Naas were of my
mind, but the others shrugged their shoulders as though to say the world
was not as it used to be. Now I don't believe _that_."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Florence, _Thursday_, [? June] 1864.

"I have taken a villa--a cottage in reality, but dear enough,--the only
advantage being that it _looks_ modest; and just as some folk carry
a silver snuff-box made to look like tin, I may hope to be deemed a
millionaire affecting simplicity."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 14, 1864.

"I looked forward eagerly to your promised letter about O'Dowd. No one
could do an imaginary portrait of a foreignised Irishman--all drollery
about the eyes, and bearded like a pard--better than Hablot
Browne (Phiz), and I think he could also do _all_ that we need for
illustration, which would be little occasional bits on the page and
tailpieces. If he would take the trouble to _read_ the book (which he is
not much given to), and if he would really interest himself in it (not
so unlikely now, as he is threatened with a rival in Marcus Stone), he
could fully answer all our requirements. I would not advise any regular
'plates,' mere woodcuts in the page, and an occasional rambling one
_crawling over the page_. What do _you_ think?"

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 16,1864.

"I am delighted with all your plans about 'O'Dowd,' and though I do not
believe there will be much to alter, I will go carefully over the sheets
when I get them. My notion always was that it would take some time to
make a public for a kind of writing more really French in its character
than English, but that if we could only once get 'our hook in,' we'd
have good fishing for many a day.

"If my reader will only stand it, I'll promise to go on as long as he
likes, since it is simply putting on paper what goes on in my head all
day long, even (and unluckily for me) when I am at work on other things.

"Don't give _me_ any share in the book, or you'll never get rid of ten
copies of it, my luck being like that of my countryman who said, 'If
I have to turn hatter, I'd find to-morrow that God Almighty would make
people without heads.' Seriously, if by any turn of fortune I should
have a hundred pounds in the 'threes,' the nation would be in imminent
risk of a national bankruptcy. Give me whatever you like, and be guided
by the fact that I am not a bit too sanguine about these things en
masse. It is all the difference in the world to read a paper or a vol.;
it is whether you are asked to taste a devilled kidney or to make your
dinner of ten of them. At all events, the venture will be some test of
public taste."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, Villa Morelli, _June_ 24, 1864.

"The devil take my high office! I am obliged to go down to Spezzia on
Monday, and shall probably lose a week, when I am sore pressed for time

"What you say of buying up the disputed bit of Denmark reminds me of
an incident that occurred in my house in Ireland. There were two
whist-parties playing one night in the same room. One was playing pound
points and twenty on the rubber (of which I was one); the others were
disputing about half-crowns, and made such a row once over the score
that Lord Ely, who was at our table, cried out, 'Only be quiet and we'll
pay the difference.' D., the artillery colonel, was so offended that it
was hard to prevent him calling Ely out. Now perhaps the Danes might be
as touchy as the soldier.

"Send me the Mag. as _early as you can_ this month. It will comfort me
at Spezzia if I can take it down there, but address me still Florence as

"What do you think of an O'D. on the Serial Story-writer? I shall be all
the better pleased if Lawson O'D. stand over for August, for I shall be
close run for time this month to come, and it is no joke writing with
the thermometer at 93° in the shade. In Ireland the belief is that a man
who is dragged out to fight a duel against his will is sure to be shot,
and I own I am superstitious enough to augur very ill of our going to
war in the same reluctant fashion."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 30, 1864.

"I send off to-day (_sit faust dies_) by book-post 'O'Dowd' corrected,
and I enclose a few lines to open with a dedication to Anster. I am not
quite _sure_ of the 'notice,' nor shall I be till I hear if you like
it. I have gout and blue devils on me, but you can always do more for me
than colchicum if you say 'all right.'

"I hope we shall have a nice-looking book and a smart outside, and,
above all, that we shall appear before the end of July, when people
begin to scatter. I am very anxious about it all.

"I am not able to go down to Spezzia for some days, and if I can I shall
attack 'Tony'--not but the chances are sorely against anything pleasant
if I mix with the characters any share of my present idiosyncrasy....

"I count on hearing from you now oftener that you are away from
Whitebait. I was getting very sulky with the dinner-parties of which
I was not a sharer. I met Mr and Mrs Sturgis at Thackeray's at dinner.
They were there, I think, on the day when one of Thackeray's guests
left the table to send him a challenge--the most absurd incident I ever
witnessed. The man was a Mr Synge, formally Attaché at Washington, and
now H.M's Consul at the Sandwich Islands."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Villa Morklli, My 4,1864.

"I merely write a line. Your note and cheque came all right to me this
morning. My thanks for both. I have had four mortal days of stupidity,
and the fifth is on me this morning; but after I have had a few days at
Spezzia I hope to be all right and in the harness again.

"If Dizzy's vote of censure is not very much amplified in his _exposé_,
it ought not to be difficult to meet it. The persistent way he dogged
Palmerston to say something, anything, is so like Sir Lucius O'Trigger
seizing on the first chance of a contradiction and saying, 'Well, sir, I
differ from you there.'

"Pam's declaration that 'war' was possible in certain emergencies--when,
for instance, the king should have been crucified and the princesses
vanished--was the only thing like devilling I heard from him yet. This
is, however, as palpably imbecility as anything they could do, and _one_
symptom, when a _leading one_, is as good as ten thousand.

"Old Begration once told the Duke of Wellington that the discovery of a
French horse-shoe 'not roughed' for the frost in the _month of October_
was the reason for the burning of Moscow. They said: 'These French know
nothing of our climate; one winter here would kill them,' It was the
present Duke told me this story.

"You will have had my O'D. on the Conference before this, and if the
Debate offer anything opportune for comment I'll tag it on. The fact
is, one can always do with an 'O'Dowd' what the parson accomplished when
asked to preach a charity sermon,--graft the incident on the original
discourse. Indeed I feel at such moments that my proper sphere would
have been the pulpit. Perhaps I am more convinced of this to-day, as I
have gout on me. Don't you know what Talleyrand said to the friend
who paid him a compliment on his fresh and _handsome_ appearance as he
landed at Dover?--'Ah! it's the sea-sickness, perhaps, has done it.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 10, 1864.

"What a hearty thing it was with you to send me the Bishop's letter. I
hope I may keep it. Do you know that it was by the merest accident that
I did not allude to _himself_ in the paper--or, rather, it was out of
deference to his apron; for one of the most brilliant evenings I ever
remember in my life was having the Bishop and O'Sullivan to dine with
me and only two others, and Harry Griffin was the king of the company.
Moore used to say, when complimented on his singing the melodies, 'Ah!
if you were to hear Griffin.' But why don't he recognise me? When we are
ready with our vol. i. I shall ask you to send one or two, or perhaps
three or four, copies to some friends. Let me beg one for the Bishop,
and I'll send a note with it. I think your note _will_ do me good. It
_has_ already, and I am down and hipped and bedevilled cruelly.

"Palmerston will, I take it, have a small majority, but will he

"I only ask about the length of T. B. on your account; for my own part
I rather like writing the story, and if the public would stand it, I'd
make it as long as 'Clarissa Harlowe.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _July_ 11, 1864.

"I send you a short O'D. on the Debate, and so I shall spare you a
letter. If, as now, there is no time for a proof,--though I think there
may,--look to it closely yourself. My hand at times begins to tremble (I
never give it any cause), and I find I can scarcely decipher some words.
How _you_ do it is miraculous. My gout will not _fix_, but hangs over me
with dreariness and 'devil-may-careisms,' so that though I have scores
of great intentions I can _do_ nothing.

"I count a good deal on a two hours' swim, and I am off to take it
by Wednesday. If the sharks lay hold on me, finish T. B. Marry him to
Alice, and put the rest of the company to bed indiscriminately."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _July_ 12, 1864.

"I send you with this a few lines to finish the serial O'D., a few also
to complete 'Be always ready with the Pistol,' and--God forgive me for
the blunder!--two stray pages that ought to come in somewhere (not
where it is numbered) in the last-sent O'D. on 'Material Aid.' Will your
ingenuity be able to find the place--perhaps the end? If not, _squash_
it, and the mischief will not be great.

"I start to-night for the sea-side, so that if you want to send me a
proof for the next ten days, send it in _duo_, one to Spezzia and the
other here, by which means you shall have either back by return of post.

"The thermometer has taken a sudden start upwards to-day, 26° Réamur,
and work is downright impossible. The_ cicale_ too make a most infernal
uproar, for every confounded thing, from a bug to a baritone, sings all
day in Italy."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 23, 1864.

"I was getting a great stock of health, swimming and boating at Spezzia,
when I was called back by the illness of my youngest daughter, a sort of
feverish attack brought on by the excessive heat of the weather, 92° and
93° every day in the shade. She is, thank God, a little better now, and
I hope the severest part is over. When shall I be at work again? There
never was so much idleness assisted by an evil destiny.

"What a jolly letter you sent me. I read it over half a dozen times,
even after I knew it all, just as an unalterable toper touches his
lips to the glass after emptying it. I wish I could be as hopeful about
O'D.,--not exactly _that_, but I wish I could know it would have some
success, and for once in my life the wish is not entirely selfish.

"You will, I am sure, tell me how it fares, and if you see any notices,
good or bad, tell me of them.

"What a strange line Newdigate has taken,--not but he has a certain
amount of right in the middle of all the confusion of his ideas. Dizzy
unquestionably _coquetted_ with Rome. Little Earle, his secretary, was
out here on a small mission of intrigue, and I did my utmost to show
him that for every priest he 'netted' he would inevitably lose two
Protestants--I mean in Ireland. As for the worldly wit of the men who
think that they can drive a good bargain with the 'Romish' clergy, all
I can say is that they have no value in my eyes. The vulgarest curé that
ever wore a coal-scuttle hat is more than the match of all the craft in
Downing Street.

"You are quite right, it would do me immense good to breathe your
bracing air, but it 'mauna be.' I wish I could see a chance of _your_
crossing the Alps--is it on the cards?

"I wish I was twenty years younger and I'd make an effort to get into
Parliament. Like my friend Corney, my friends always prophesied a
success to me in something and somewhere that I have never explored--but
so it is.

     "Oh! for the books that have never been written,
     With all the wise things that nobody has read.
     And oh! for the hearts that have never been smitten,
     Nor heard the fond things that nobody has said.

"_My_ treasures are, I suspect, safely locked in the same secure
obscurity. _N'importe!_ at this moment I'd rather be sure my little girl
would have a good night than I'd be Member for Oxford."

_To Mr Alexander Spencer._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 23, 1864.

"It would be unfair amidst all your labours to expect you could read
through the volume of 'Corney O'Dowd' that Blackwood will have already
sent--or a few days more will bring--to you. Still, if you will open it,
and here and there look through some of those jottings-down, I know
they will recall me to your memory. It is so very natural to me to
half-reason over things, that an old friend [? like] yourself will
recognise me on every page, and for this reason it is that I would like
to imagine you reading it. My great critics declare that I have done
nothing so good since the 'Dodds,'--and now, enough of the whole theme!

"Here we are in a pretty villa on a south slope of the Apennines, with
Florence at our feet and a glorious foreground of all that is richest
in Italian foliage between us and the city. It is of all places the most
perfect to write in,--beauty of view, quiet, silence, and seclusion all
perfect,--but somehow I suppose I have grown a little footsore on the
road. I do not write with my old facility. I sit and think--or fancy I
think--and find very little is done after [all].

"The dreary thought of time lost and talent misapplied--for I ought
never to have taken to the class of writing that I did--_will_ invade,
and, instead of plodding steadily along the journey, I am like one who
sits down to cry over the map of the country to be traversed.

"I go to Spezzia occasionally--the fast mail now makes it but five
hours. The Foreign Office is really most indulgent: they ask nothing of
me, and in return I give them exactly what they ask.

"My wife is a little better--that is, she can move about unassisted and
has less suffering. Her malady, however, is not checked. The others are
well. As for myself, I am in great bodily health,--lazy and indolent,
as I always was, and more given to depressions, perhaps, but also more
patient under them than I used to be."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Saturday_, July 30.

"Yours has just come. O'D. is very handsome. Confound the public if they
won't like them! Nothing could be neater and prettier than the book. How
I long to hear some good tidings of it!

"My daughter had a slight relapse, but is now doing all well and safely.

"I think that the Irish papers--'The Dub. E. Mail' and 'Express'--would
review us if copies were sent, and perhaps an advertisement.

"I know you'll let me hear, so I don't importune you for news.

"Your cheque came all safe; my thanks for it. The intense heat is such
now that I can only write late at night, and very little then."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Aug_. 3, 1864.

     "Unshaven, dishevelled,
     I sit all bedevilled;
     Your news has upset me,--
     It was meet it should fret me.
     What! two hundred and fifty!
     Is the public so thrifty?
     Or are jokes so redundant,
     And funds so abundant
     That 'O'Dowd' cannot find more admirers than this!
     I am sure in the City 'Punch' is reckoned more witty,
     And Cockneys won't laugh
     Save at Lombard Street chaff;
     But of _gentlemen_, surely there can be no stint,
     Who would like dinner drolleries dished up in print,
     And to _read_ the same nonsense would gladly be able
     That they'd laugh at--if heard--o'er the claret at table
     The sort of light folly that sensible men
     Are never ashamed of--at least now and then.
     For even the gravest are not above chaff,
     And I know of a bishop that loves a good laugh.
     Then why will they deny me,
     And why won't they buy me?
     I know that the world is full of cajolery,
     And many a dull dog will trade on _my_ drollery,
     Though he'll never be brought to confess it aloud
     That the story you laughed at he stole from O'Dowd;
     But the truth is, I feel if my book is unsold,
     That my fun, like myself, it must be--has grown old.
     And though the confession may come with a damn,
     I must own it--_non sum qualis eram_.

"I got a droll characteristic note from the Duke of Wellington and a
cordial hearty one from Sir H. Seymour. I'd like to show you both, but I
am out of sorts by this sluggishness in our [circulation]. The worst of
it is, I have nobody to blame but myself.

"Send a copy of O'D. to Kinglake with my respects and regards. He is the
only man (except C. O'D.) in England who understands Louis Nap."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Aug_. 9, 1864.

"I am just sent for to Spezzia to afford my Lords of the Admiralty a
full and true account of all the dock accommodation possible there,
which looks like something in 'the wind'; the whole 'most secret and

"I am sorry to leave home, though my little girl is doing well I have
_many_ causes of anxiety, and for the first time in my whole life have
begun to pass sleepless nights, being from my birth as sound a sleeper
as Sancho Panza himself.

"Of course Wilson was better than anything he ever did--but why wouldn't
he? He was a noble bit of manhood every way; he was my _beau idéal_ of
a fine fellow from the days I was a schoolboy. The men who link genius
with geniality are the true salt of the earth, but they are marvellously
few in number. I don't bore you, I hope, asking after O'D.; at least you
are so forgiving to my importunity that I fancy I am merciful."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Aug_. 11,1864.

"I forgot to tell you that the scene of the collision in the longer
O'D. is all invented--there was nothing of it in 'The Times' or anywhere
else. How right you are about the melodramatic tone in the scene between
Maitland and his Mother! It is worse. It is bow-wow! It is Minerva Press
and the rest of it, but all that comes of a d------d public. I mean it
all comes of novel-writing for a d------d public that like novels,--and
novels are--novels.

"I am very gouty to-day, and I have a cross-grained man coming to
dinner, and my women (affecting to keep the mother company) won't dine
with me, and I am sore put out.

"Another despatch! I am wanted at Spezzia,--a frigate or a gunboat has
just put in there and no consul Captain Short, of the _Sneezer_ perhaps,
after destroying Chiavari and the organ-men, put in for instructions. By
the way, Yule was dining with Perry, the Consul-General at Venice, the
other day, when there came an Austrian official to ask for the Magazine
with _Flynn's Life_ as a _pièce de conviction!_ This would be grand, but
it is beaten hollow by another fact. In a French 'Life of Wellington,'
by a staff officer of distinction, he corrects some misstatements thus,
'Au contraire, M. Charles O'Malley, raconteur,' &c. Shall I make a short
'O'Dowd' out of the double fiasco? Only think, a two-barrelled blunder
that made O'Dowd a witness at law, and Charles O'Malley a military

"When I was a doctor, I remember a Belgian buying 'Harry Lorrequer' as
a medical book, and thinking that the style was singularly involved and

"Oh dear, how my knuckle is singing, but not like the brook in Tennyson;
it is no 'pleasant tune.'

"Have you seen in 'The Dublin E. Mail' a very civil and cordial review
of 'O'Dowd,' lengthy and with extracts? What a jolly note I got from
the Bishop of Limmerick. He remembers a dinner I gave to himself and
O'Sullivan, Archer Butler, and Whiteside, and we sat till 4 o' the
morning! _Noctes--Eheu fugaces!_

"Please say that some one has ordered 'O'Dowd' and liked it, or my gout
will go to the stomach."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Aug_. 12, 1864.

"I recant: I don't think the scene so bad as I did yesterday. I sent it
off _corrected this night's post_--and try and agree with me. Remember
that Maitland's mother (I don't know who his father was) was an
actress,--why wouldn't she be a little melodramatic? Don't you know what
the old Irishwoman said to the sentry who threatened to run his bayonet
into her? 'Devil thank you! sure, that's you're thrade.' So Mad.
Brancaleoni was only giving a touch of her 'thrade' in her Cambyses

"I'm off to Spezzia, and my temper is so bad my family are glad to be
rid of me. All the fault of the public, who won't admire 'O'Dowd.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Aug_. 24, 1864.

"My heartiest thanks for the photograph. It is the face of a friend
and, _entre nous_, just now I have need of it, for I am very low and
depressed, but I don't mean to worry you with these things. What a fine
fellow your Colonel is! I am right proud that he likes 'O'Dowd,' and so
too of your friend Smith, because I know if the officers are with me we
must have the rank and file later on. I read the 'Saturday Review'
with the sort of feeling I have now and then left a dull dinner-party,
thinking little of myself but still less of the company. Now, I may be
stupid, but I'll be d------d if I'm as bad as that fellow!

"One's friends of course are no criterion, but I _have_ got very
pleasant notices from several, and none condemnatory, but still I shall
be sorely provoked if _your_ good opinion of me shall not be borne out
by the public. Galileo said 'Ê pur se muove,' but the Sacred College
outvoted him. God grant that you may not be the only man that doesn't
think me a blockhead!

"I want to be at 'Tony,' but I am so very low and dispirited I shall
make a mess of whatever I touch, and so it is better to abstain.

"If I could only say of John Wilson one-half that I _feel_ about him.
If I could only tell Cockneydom that they never had, and probably never
will have, a measure to take the height of so noble a fellow, one
whose very manliness lifted him clear and clean above their petty
appreciation, just as in his stalwart vigour he was a match for any
score of them, and whom they would no more have ventured to scoff at
while living than they would have dared to confront foot to foot upon
the heather. If I could say, in fact, but a tithe of what his name calls
up within me, I _could_ write a paper on the _Noctes_, but the theme
would run away with me. Wilson was the only hero of my boy days, and I
never displaced him from the pedestal since. By Jove! 'Ebony' had giants
in those days. Do you know that no praise of O'D. had the same flattery
for me as comparing it with the papers by Maginn long ago. So you see I
am ending my days under the flag that fascinated my first ambition:
my grief is, my dear Blackwood, that you have not had the first of the
liquor and not the lees of the cask."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 6, 1864.

"I have just had your letter and enclosure,--many thanks for both. I
hope you may like the O'D. I sent you for next month. Don't be afraid
of my breaking down as to time, though I may as to merit. You may always
rely on my punctuality--and I am vain of it, as the only orderly quality
in my whole nature....

"I am very anxious about 'Tony,' I want to make a good book of it,
and my very anxiety may mar my intentions. Tell me another thing: When
'Tony' appears in three vols., should it come out without name, or a
_nom de plume_,--which is better?

"Why does not 'The Times' notice O'D.? They are talking of all the
tiresome books in the world,--why not mine?

"I have often thought a pleasant series of papers might be made of the
great Irish Viceroys, beginning at John D. of Ormond, Chesterfield, D.
Portland, &c., with characteristic sketches of society at their several
periods. Think of a tableau with Swift, Addison, &c, at Templeton's

"The thought of this, and a new cookery-book showing _when_ each thing
ought to be eaten, and making a sort of gastronomic tour, have been
addling my head the last three nights. But now I sit down steadily to
'Tony,' and 'God give me a good deliverance.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Sept._ 8.

"I am in such a hang-dog humour that I must write you.

"I suspect Anster _has_ got his CD., but his damnable writing has misled
me. What I thought was a complaint for its non-arrival was, I imagine, a
praise of its contents.

"I send you the rest of 'Tony' for October: God grant it be better than
I think it is. But if you only saw me you'd wonder that I could even do
the bad things I send you.

"Tell me, are you sick of the cant of people who uphold servants and
talk of them as an 'interesting class'? I think them the greatest
rascals breathing, and would rather build a jail for them than a refuge.
I want to O'Dowd them; shall I?

"Gout is overcoming me completely! Isn't it too hard to realise both
Dives and Lazarus in oneself at once?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Sept_. 19.

"I send you the last chap, for the November 'Tony,' and I want all your
most critical comment on the Envoy, because, as the book draws to the
end, I desire to avoid the crying sin of all my stories, a huddled-up
conclusion. Be sure you tell me all my shortcomings, for even if I
cannot amend them I'll bear in mind the impression they must create,
and, so far as I can, deprecate my reader's wrath. You have not answered
me as to the advisability of a name or no name,--a matter of little
moment, but I'd like your counsel on it. My notion is this. If 'Tony' be
likely to have success as a novel when published entire, a name might
be useful for future publication, and as to that, I mean futurity, what
would you say to a Stuart story, taking the last days of Charles
Edward in Florence, and bringing in the great reforming Grand Duke,
Pietro-Leopoldo and Horace Mann, &c.?*

     * Lever must have intended to recast and to rewrite the
     adventures of "Gerald Fitzgerald, the Chevalier," the story
     which appeared as a serial in 'The Dublin University' in
     1869.--E. D.

"I have been mooning over this for the last week. The fact is, when I
draw towards the close of a story I can't help hammering at another:
like the alderman who said, 'I am always, during the second course,
imagining what will come with the woodcocks.' Mind above all that
no thought of me personally is to interfere with other Magazine
arrangements, for it is merely as the outpouring of a confession that I
speak now of a _story_, and if you don't want me, or don't want so much
of me, you will say so.

"As I told you once before, I believe I am, or rather was--for there is
very little 'am' left--better at other things than story-writing, and
certainly I _like_ any other pen labour more. But this shall be as you

"Give me some hints as to the grievances of the 'Limited Liability
Schemes.' What are the weak points? Brief me!

"I have a notion that a course of O'Dowd lectures on Men and Women would
be a success, orally given. What think you?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Sept_. 20.

"In my haste of correction in T. B. I believe I left 'Castel d'Uovo'
'Castel Ovo'; _now it should be the former_--pray look to it. God help
me! but if I live a little longer I shall find spelling impossible.
Till I began to correct the press I never made a mistake; and now I
understand what is meant by the tree of knowledge, for when once you
begin to see there's a right and a wrong way to do anything, it's 'all
up' with you. In my suspicion that the missing O'Ds. might possibly have
come to your hand, I asked you to cancel [the bit] about Pam. _Pray do
so_. It was ill-natured and gouty, though true; and, after all, he is a
grand old fellow with all his humbug, and if we do make too much of him
the fault is ours, not his.

"I have just got yours, 16th, and my mind is easy about the O'Ds. which
never reached me. It will be easier, however, when I know you have
squashed all about Pam.

"I am now doubly grieved to have been worrying about your nephew, but
I am sincerely glad to know it is no more than a fall. I believe I have
not a bone from my head to my heel unmarked by horse accidents, and
every man who really rides meets his misadventures. Whenever I hear of a
man who never falls, I can tell of one who never knew how to ride.

"Now of all my projects and intentions never bore yourself a minute:
the fact is--writing to _you_ pretty much as I talk at home, I have said
some of the fifty things that pass through my vagabondising brains, just
as I have been for the last twenty years plotting the Grand Book that is
to make me.

"But now that you _know me better_, treat all these as the mere projects
of a man whose only dream is hope, and whose case is all the worse that
he is a 'solitary tippler'; and, above all, trust me to do my best--my
very best--for 'Tony,' which I am disposed to think about the best thing
I have done."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 26,1864.

"Don't be afraid that I am impatient to close 'Tony'; if it only 'suited
your book' I'd go on with him for a twelvemonth. And now tell me, does
it make any difference to you if he should go on to the January No.?
I mean, does it spoil magazine symmetry that he should appear in a new
volume? Not that I opine this will be necessary, only if it should I
should like to know.

"You must send me 'Tony' in sheets, as you did O'D., to revise and
reflect over, and I'll begin at him at once.

"I knew well what a blow Speke's death would be to you, and I am truly
sorry for the poor fellow.

"I don't remember one word I write if I don't see a proof, so I forget
what I said about an idea I had of a story. At all events, as Curran
said he picked up all his facts from the opposite counsel's statement,
I'll soon hear what you say, and be able to guess what I said myself.

"I'm gout up to the ears,--flying, dyspeptic, blue-devil gout,--with a
knuckle that sings like a tea-kettle and a toe that seems in the red-hot
bite of a rabid dog, and all these with------ But I swore not to bother
you except it be to write to me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._


"I am up to my neck in Tony,--dress him, dine with him, and yesterday
went to his happy marriage with (this for Mrs Blackwood and yourself)
Dolly Stuart, he having got over his absurd passion, and found out (what
every man doesn't) the girl he _ought_ to marry.

"I am doing my best to make the wind-up good. Heaven grant that my gout
do not mar my best intentions!

"This informal change of capital has raised my rent! More of Cavour's
persecution. I told you that man will be my ruin.

"Whenever you have time write to me. There are such masses of things you
are to answer you will forget one-half if you don't make a clearance.

"I am very sulky about the coldness the public have shown O'D. in its
vol. form. Why, confound them!------ But I won't say what is on my

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Oct_. 4, 1864.

"Your own fault if you have to say 'Damn his familiarity'; but if you
won't return it you can at least say 'Damn O'Dowd.'

"Your cheque came all safe this morning. I wish I had not to add that
it was a dissolving view that rapidly disappeared in my cook's

"I suppose my gout must be on the decline from the very _mild_ character
of the 'O'Dowd' I now send you. Tell your uncle if he won't write to me
about my forty-one projects, I'll make an O'D. on Golf-players, and God
help him!

"I hope I shall meet you one of these days. I am as horsey as yourself,
and would a devilish deal sooner be astride of the pigskin than sitting
here inditing O'Dowderies."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct._ 14,1864.

"I return O'D. corrected. You are right, and I expunged the paragraph
you mention, and changed the expression of the joke--a d------d bad
one--against the Yankees; but I wanted the illustration, and couldn't
miss it.

"I shall carry on 'Tony' to January, and will want the chapter you sent
me now to open December No. So much for the past. Now for what I have
some scruples to inflict on you, but I can't help it. I want, if it
suits you, to take the O'D.,--that is, the present vol., and that which
is ready, say, in January or February,--and give me anything you think
it worth for my share of it, for I am greatly hampered just now. My
poor boy left a number of debts (some with brother officers); and
though nothing could be more considerate and gentleman-like than their
treatment of me, and the considerate way they left me to my own time to
pay, pay I must. What I am to receive for 'Tony' will have to be handed
over _en masse_, and yet only meet less than half what I owe. Now, my
dear Blackwood, do not mistake me, and do not, I entreat, read me wrong:
I don't want you to do anything by me through any sense of your sympathy
for these troubles,--because if you did so, I could never have the
honest feeling of independence that enables me to write to you as I do,
and as your friend,--but I want you to understand that if it _accords
with your plans_ to take 'O'Dowd' altogether to yourself, it would much
help _me_; and if for the _future_ you would so accept it, giving me
anything you deem the whole worth, all the better for me. By this means
I could get rid of some of my cares: there are heavier ones behind, but
these I must bear how I may.

"I have been frank with you in all, and you will be the same with me.

"You are right, the present day is better for novels than the past--at
least, present-day readers say so. If you like I will get up a story to
begin in April, 'The New Charter,' but I won't think of it till I have
done 'Tony,' which I own to you I like better on re-reading than I
thought I should. Do you?

"Nothing is truer than what you say about my over-rapid writing. In
the O'Ds. they are all the better for it, because I could talk them a
hundred times better than I could write them; but where constructiveness
comes in, it is very different."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Oct_. 21,1864.

"Though I have only been detained here by my wife's illness, and should
have been at Spezzia ere this, it was so far well that I was here to
meet a perfect rush of friends and acquaintances who have come. Hudson,
Perry from Venice, Delane, Pigott, D. Wolff, all here, and a host more,
and as my wife is again up, we have them at various times and seasons,
and a big dinner of them to-morrow.

"Renfrew of 'The D. News' tells me that O'D. was a great London success,
and that the literary people like it and praised it,--evidence,
thought I, that they're not afraid of its author. He adds that I am not
generally believed to have written it.

"I have not been up to work the last two days, and a remnant of a cold
still keeps me 'a-sneezin'."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Oct_. 23.

"Your generous treatment of me relieves me of one great anxiety and
gives me another--that I may not prove to you as good a bargain as I
meant to be; but whatever comes of it, I'll take care you shall not
_lose_ by me.

"I thank you heartily; and for the kind terms of your note even more
than for the material aid. From the days of my schoolboy life I never
did anything well but under kind treatment, and yours has given me a
spring and a courage that really I did not know were left in me.

"I hope vol. (or rather 'book') ii. of 'O'Dowd' will be better than
the first. Some of the bits are, I know, better; but in any case, if it
should fall short of what I hope, _you_ shall not be the sufferer.

"I am glad that you kept back the 'S. Congresses.' I send you herewith
one on the 'Parson Sore Throat,' and I think you will like it. I think I
have done it _safely_; they are 'kittle cattle,' but I have treated them

"I could swear you will agree with me in all I say of the 'Hybrids,' and
I think I see you, as you read it, join in with me in opinion.

"I am turning over an O'D. about Banting (but I want his book--could
you send it to me?), and one on the Postal Stamp mania, and these
would probably be variety enough for December No.,--'S. Congresses,'
'Conservatives,' 'Parsonitis,' &c.

"My wife continues still so ill that, though I am wanted at Spezzia, I
cannot go down. I hope, however, that to-morrow or next day she may be
well enough to let me leave without anxiety.

"Perry, a consul-general at Venice, has just promised me a photo of
Flynn, taken by the Austrian authorities during his imprisonment at
Verona. I'll send it to you when it comes.

"Did you ever see the notice of O'D. in 'The Daily News'? It was most
handsome, and the D. U. M. was also good. All the London papers have now
reviewed it but 'The Times,' and the stranger [this], as Lucas, is very
well affected towards me.

"Once again, and from my heart, I thank you for responding so generously
to my request."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"_Tuesday, [? Oct.]_ 23, 1864.

"I had believed I was to be at Spezzia before this, but my wife still
continues in a very precarious way, and I was afraid to leave her.

"I am, besides, hard at work closing 'Tony,' and getting another vol. of
'O'Dowd' ready for 1st of January. I have worked very steadily and,
for me, most industriously the entire month, but my evenings are always
lost, as people are now passing through to Rome.

"Hudson has taken a house near Florence, and Labouchere come back, so
that _some_ talkers there are at least.

"I mean to run down so soon as I finish cor-rectings, &c., at eight or
ten days at furthest."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct_. 27,1864.

"How strange a hit you made when you said, 'I knew L. N. as well as if
we had drunk together.' I was a fellow-student with him at Göttingen in
1830,* and lived in great intimacy with him. There was a Scotchman there
at the same time named Dickson, a great botanist, who has, I believe,
since settled in London as a practising physician in Bryanstone Square.
L. Nap. went by the name of Ct. Fattorini. He never would know Dickson,
and used to leave me whenever D. came in. It was not for two years
after that I learned he was 'the Bonaparte.' Our set consisted of L. N.,
Adolph V. Decken (who afterwards married the sister of the Duchess of
C------, who now lives in Hanover), Beuliady the Home Minister, and
Ct. Bray the Bavarian Envoy at Vienna; I, the penny-a-liner, being the
complement of the party. I have had very strange companionships and
strange turns in life, and when I have worked out my O'Dowd vein I'll
give you an autobiography.

     * The date is incorrect.  Lever's Göttingen period was 1828.

"I now send you a political O'D. on L. N., not over civil; but I detest
the man, and I suspect I _know_ him and read him aright. Banting I did
without waiting for his book; but if it comes I will perhaps squeeze
something out of it.

"I am crippled with gout, and can scarcely hold a pen. The bit on
doctors is simply padding, and don't put it in if you don't like; but
the No. for December will, I think, be a strong one.

"Sir Jas. Hudson is with me, but I am too low even for his glorious
companionship--and he has no equal. Wolff is here, and all to stay for
the winter.

"What do you think of my advertising O'D. at the end of the Banting
paper? Does it not remind you of the epitaph to the French hosier,
where, after the enumeration of his virtues as husband and father, the
widow announces that she 'continues the business at the old estab., Rue
Neuve des Petits Champs,' &c. &c.?"

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Florence, Nov. 3, 1864.

"Bulwer the Great has stayed here, and will not leave till to-morrow,
and if you see Rice, will you please to tell him so. I am so primed
that I think I could write a great paper on the present state and future
prospects of Turkey.

"He has been very agreeable, and with all his affectations--legion that
they are--very amusing.

"Layard I don't like at all; he is the complete stamp to represent a
(metropolitan) constituency--overbearing, loud, self-opinionated, and
half-informed, if so much. Bulwer appeared to great advantage in his

"In my desire to see how far you were just or unjust to Georgina, I set
to work to read over again the scenes she occurs in, and went from end
to end of 'Tony Butler,' and at last came in despair to ask Julia to
find her out for me! So much for the gift of constructiveness, and that
power of concentration without which, Sir E. B. Lytton says, there is no
success in fiction-writing."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 6, 1864.

"I have just received your cheques, and thank you much for your
promptitude. You certainly 'know my necessities before I ask.'

"I cannot tell you the pleasure, the complete relief, it is to me to
deal with a gentleman; and the cordial tone of our relations has done
more for me than I thought anything _now_ could, to rally and cheer me.

"I have been so long swimming with a stone round my neck, that I almost
begin to wish I could go down and have it all over. You have rallied
me out of this, and I frankly tell you it's your hearty God-speed has
enabled me to make this last effort.

"Aytoun's 'Banting' is admirable. Mine is poor stuff after it: indeed,
I'd not have done it if I'd thought he had it in hand. In one or two
points we hit the same blot, but _his_ blow is stronger and better than
mine. Don't print me, therefore, if you don't like.

"Before this you will have received L. B., and I hope to hear from you
about it. The address of this will show that my poor wife is no better,
and that I cannot leave her.

"Gregory, the M.P. for Galway, is here, and it was meeting him suggested
my hit at the lukewarm Conservatives. We fight every evening about
politics. I wish to Heaven I could have the floor of the House to do it
on, and no heavier adversary to engage....

"Henry Wolff is here full of great financial schemes,--director of
Heaven knows what railroads, and secretary to an infinity of companies.
He dined with me yesterday, and I'm sure I'd O'Dowd him. He means to
pass the winter here. He pressed me hard about 'Tony,' and I lied like
an envoy extracting a denial."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 9, 1864

"All the railroads are smashed, and Spezzia is now, I understand, on
an island, where I certainly shall not go to look for it. Here I am,
therefore, till the floods subside.

"I knew you would like the O'Ds. I believe they are the best of the
batch, but don't be afraid for 'Tony.' I have a fit of the gout on me
that exactly keeps me up to the O'D. level; and I have one in my
head for Father Ignatius that, if I only can write as I see it, will
certainly hit. If Skeff is not brave it is no fault of mine. Why the
devil did Wolff come and sit for his picture when I was just finishing
the portrait from memory?

"The reason L. N. hated Dickson was: he (D------) was an awful
skinflint, and disgusted all us 'youth.' who were rather jolly, and went
the pace pretty briskly.

"D. is not the [? ] of the Faculty man, but a fellow who was once
Professor of Botany (in Edinburgh, I think). He once made me a visit at
my father's, but I never liked him.

"I must not O'D. L. N., because one day or other, if I live, I shall jot
down some personal recollections of my own,--and, besides, I would not
give in a way that might be deemed fictitious what I will declare as

"If I can tone down M'Caskey, I will; but Skeffs courage is, I fear,
incorrigible. Oh, Blackwood, it is 'not _I_ that have made him, but _he_
himself.' Not but he is a good creature, as good as any can be that has
no _bone_ in his _back_--the same malady that all the Bulwers have,
for instance,--and, _take my word for it_, there is a large section of
humanity that are not verte-brated animals. Ask Aytoun if he don't agree
with me, and show _him_ all this if you like; for though I never saw
him, my instinct tells me I _know_ him, and I feel we should hit it off
together if we met."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 11, 1864.

"I have taken two days to think over Skeff's scene with M'C[askey],
and do not think it overdrawn. M'C. is a ruffian, and I don't think
you object to his being one; but you wish Skeff to show pluck. Now I
remember (and it is only one instance out of many I could give you) Geo.
Brotherton, one of the most dashing cavalry officers in the service,
coming to me to say that he had listened to such insolence about England
from a Belgian sous-lieutenant that nearly killed him with rage. 'I
had,' said he, 'the alternative of going out' (and probably with the
sword too) 'with, not impossibly, the son of a costermonger--and who,
_de facto_, was a complete _canaille_--or bear it,--and bear it I did,
though it half choked me.'

"Skeff would have fought, time and place befitting; but he would not
agree to _couper la gorge_ at the prompt bidding of a professional
throat-cutter, and I cannot impute cowardice to a man for that. Bear in
mind, too (I have witnessed it more than once), the initiative in
insult always overpowers a man that is opposed to it, if he be not by
temperament and habit one of those ready-witted fellows who can at once
see their way out of such a difficulty, as Col. O'Kelly, for instance,
at the Prince's table------ You know the story; if not, I'll tell it to

"Still I am not wedded to my own judgment, and if I saw how to do it
I'd change the tone of the scene; for when the thing strikes you so
forcibly, and needs all this defence on _my_ part, the presumption is it
cannot be altogether right. I'll tell you, however, how I can show the
reader that Skeff's mortification was properly felt by a subsequent
admission--one line will do it--to Tony that he had gone through agonies
on that same journey, and did not know if he should ever feel quite
reconciled to his own endurance of M'Caskey's outrages.

"Will this do? If not, I'll rewrite it all for the volume.

"The floods have carried away the railroads here,--I wish to God they
had swept off my creditors! That new way to pay old debts would have
reconciled me to a month's rain. The idea of being washed clear of one's
difficulties is ecstasy. Write to me--write to me!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 12, 1864.

"Mr O'Toole says, 'Now that I'm found out, I'll confess everything,'
and I think so good a precept should not be lost. In fact, I think it is
better to keep the disguise with respect to 'Tony' as long as I can,
and I have thought of giving a mock name--my grandmother's, Arthur
Helsham--in the title. I have been lying like a Turk for this year
back, and I have really no face to own now that I wrote the book. Reason
number two: there will be that other story of mine completed nearly at
the same time, and you know better than myself how prone the world is to
cry out, 'over-writing himself,' 'more rubbish,' &c. Thirdly: even they
who discover me will be more generous to me in my mask (you know it's a
Carnival rule never to kick a domino); and as for the outsiders, they'll
say, 'This young author, with a certain resemblance to Mr Lever, but
with a freshness and buoyancy which Mr Lever has long since taken leave
of,' &c. &c. &c.

"Now so much for my notions; but you shall do exactly as you like, and
what will, to your own thinking, be best for the book's success.

"God help Tony! If he doesn't marry the right woman it has been for
no want of anxiety on my part: I have given him to each of them every
alternate day and night for the last month. But it must be Dolly, unless
he should take a sudden fancy for Mrs Maxwell. I'll send you the finale
very soon, and you'll have time to say your say on it before it be

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 13, 1864.

"On second thoughts I send you off the enclosed at once. One chap, more
will finish 'Tony,' but I want to have your judgment on these before I
write the last. I have worked nearly two nights through to do this. I am
uncommonly anxious--more than I like to tell--that the book should be
a success. I know well nothing will be wanting on _your part,_ and I am
all the more eager to do _mine_. Write to me as soon as you can, for I
shall lie on my oars till I hear from you, except so far as correcting
the volumes of T. and O'D.

"It has been, with all its fatigues, a great mercy to me to have had
this hard work, for I have great--the greatest--anxieties around me, and
but for the necessity for exertion, I don't think I could bear up."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 16, 1864.

"I have never quitted 'Tony' since I wrote to you, and here goes the
result! I have finished him, unless you opine that a few more lines are
needed, though what they ought to detail is not usually thought fit for

"I hope to Heaven it is good. If you knew how I have laboured to
fancy myself in a love-making mood,--if you knew by what drains on my
_memory_--on my imagination--I have tried to believe a young damsel in
my arms and endeavoured to make the sweet moment profitable,--you'd pity
me. Perhaps a page of notices of what became of Mait-land, M'Caskey, &c,
is necessary, though I'm of the Irishman's opinion, 'that when we know
Jimmy was hanged, we don't want to hear who got his corduroys.'

"Do you give me _your_ opinion, however, and God grant it be favourable!
for I'm dead-beat,--gouty, doubty, and damnably blue-devilled into the

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 23,1864.

"The Israelite whose letter you enclose seems to be without brains as
well as 'guile.' Couldn't his stolid stupidity distinguish between a
story thrown out as an 'illustration' and a 'fact'? Couldn't he see that
the article was a paradox throughout, written merely to sustain the
one grain of doubt that reformatories were not all that their advocates
think them to be?

"On my oath, I believe that the British Public is the dreariest piece of
'bull-headed one-sidedness' that exists. He has added another sting to
my gout that nothing short of kicking him would relieve me of....

"Wolff is so much more absurd than stiff that I am ashamed of _my_ man.
His directorial-financial vein is about the broadest farce I know of,
and all the while that he invents companies and devises share-lists, he
has not that amount of arithmetic that can make up the score at whist!

"Labouchere is here now, and tortures the unlucky W. unceasingly.

"I hope you will sustain me in all my perjuries about 'Tony.' I told W.
yesterday that _you_ positively refused to tell me the author, and my
own guess was that it was Mr Briggs, who was murdered."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 26, 1864.

"I will certainly do the 'Directors.' Wolff will do for what artists
call the 'lay figure,' and I'll put any drapery on him that I fancy.

"I think the loss of Lord Derby would be little short of the smash of
the party--I mean, at this moment. Indeed his social position and his
standing with the Queen were just as valuable to his friends as his
great abilities, and to be led in the House of Lords by Lord Malmesbury
is more than the party could stand.

"I remember once, when asked by Lord Lyndhurst what line I would suggest
for a Conservative press--it was in '52--and I said, 'As much _sense_,
my lord, as your party will bear.' 'That will do it. I understand, and I
agree with you.'

"There was a project to give me the direction of the 'Herald,'
'Standard,' and 'St James's Chronicle,' when purchased and in the hands
of the Conservatives, and I believe it was about the sort of thing I
could have done, because any good there is in me is for emergencies: I
can hit them, and am seldom unprepared for them. Whatever takes the tone
of daily _continuous_ work and looks like industry I totally fail in.

"The project failed because I refused to accept a council of
'surveillance' that Disraeli proposed, and indeed Lytton also
recommended. Forgive all this egotistical balderdash; perhaps I think I
am going to die, and want to leave my memoirs in a friend's hands.

"Your letters rally me, and I beg you to write often. If I wanted a boon
from Fortune it would be to have wherewithal to live on (modestly), and
write to my friends the sort of thing I write for the public, and give
way to the fancies that I cannot or dare not make the public party to.

"I am curious for your critique on 'Tony.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 30,1864.

"I think the enclosed few words are needed to round off 'Tony.' The
characters of a book are to _my_ mind damnably like the tiresome people
who keep you wishing them good-night till you wish them at the devil.
They won't go,--the step of the hall door would seem to have bird-lime
on it; and I therefore suspect that my constitutional impatience with
the bores aforesaid has damaged many a book of mine.

"If you do not approve of the added bit, squash it; but it strikes me as

"My poor wife laughed at your quiz at my bit of tenderness. She seldom
laughs now, though once on a time the ring of merry laughing was heard
amongst us from morn till night.

"Your cheque came all right; I have just checked my cook with it. We
have a system of living here by what they call _Cottino_, which is
really comfortable enough. You pay so much a-day to your cook for
feeding you and your household, and he stipulates so many _plats, &c.,_
and it's _your_ business to see that he treats you well. My rascal--a
very good _artiste_--is a great politician, and everything that goes
hard against the 'Left' (he is a great patriot) is revenged upon _me_
in tough beef and raw mutton, but when Garibaldi triumphs, I am fed with
pheasants and woodcocks."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Dec_ 9,1864.

"Do you see how right I was in my 'O'Dowd' about Bismarck, and how now
he is bullying the Diet and even Austria, and openly proclaiming how
little thought there was of 'Germany' in his Danish war? And yet I
believe I am the sole proprietor and patentee of the opinion, and I
have not yet heard even the faintest rumour of calling me to the Queen's

"My wife is half of Mrs Blackwood's opinion, and is in no good humour
with Tony personally. She thinks he married out of 'sulk,' not for
inclination; but you and I know better, and if ever Tony comes to live a
winter in Florence, he'll find he made the best choice.

"I half think I have the opening of a good story for you, but I want to
do something really creditable and will take time. Do you remember the
Dutchman that took a race of three miles to jump over the ditch, and was
so tired by the preparation that he sat down at the foot of it!

"I am low, low! but if I hear good accounts of 'Tony' and O'D. it will
do me good service, and I know if _you_ have them you'll not hide them.

"You will have got the end of 'Tony' by this, and I look to another
letter from you to-morrow or next day.

"I meant 'Luttrell' for _you_ when I began it, but 'Tony,' I think
(now), is better; but I'll see if I can't beat both for a last spring
before I lie down for aye."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Dec_. 11,1864.

"Aytoun shall have the reversion of M'Caskey at his own price. I mean
Aytoun's price, for the other estimate might be a stunner.

"Wolff--I mean Skeff--I mean to resuscitate,--that is, I think a droll
paper of his unedited memoirs might one day be made amusing, and
the vehicle for some very original notions on diplomacy and politics
generally. He has just started to the Piraeus to see Henry Bulwer, who,
like Mr Mantalini, is at the point of death for the nineteenth
time. Wolff looks up to him with immense reverence as being the most
consummate rogue in Europe; and this he is certainly, notwithstanding
the fact that he has been detected and pronounced a hardened offender by
every Government since the Duke's to Palmerston's. What robbery he wants
to entrust to W. with his dying breath is hard to say; but poor Skeffy
is quite eager for the inheritance,--though God help him if he thinks he
can rig the thimble when his pal has gone home."

_To Mr John Blackwood._


"They have sold my old house here, and I am driven to a little villa (or
shall be) in about a month's time,--a small crib, nicely placed and very
quiet, about a mile from the Gates.

"What fun one could make of the devil at Compiègne, talking over all
L. Nap.'s plans, how he had humbugged every one--Pam, Russell, the
Austrians, Emp., &c, &c.; the devil's compta, on the beauty of Paris,
and how much all that luxury and splendour did for _him_. An evening
with Bulwer, too, and a week at Pisa, where he dined with H. Bulwer and
heard the grand project for the regeneration of Turkey--the best bit of
news the devil had heard since the partition of Poland.

"I would not for a great deal have called O'D. 'Corney' had I known of
the other proprietor of the name; and I suspect I know the man, and
that he is a right good fellow. Nobody, however, has copyright in his
name--as _I_ know, for a prebend of Lichfield wrote a socialist story
and called his hero Charles Lever.

"I was once going to be shot by a certain Charles O'Malley, but who
afterwards told all the adventures of my hero as his own, with various
diversions into which I had not ventured.

"I was going to call O'D. 'Terence.' Now if the other O'D. likes to
be rebaptised by that name I'm ready to stand godfather; but as my own
child is before the world as Corney, I cannot change him."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Jan_. 6, 1866.

"I have just got your kind letter. I thank you for it heartily. The
second instalment of 'Tony' and the 'O'Dowd' [paper] will be time enough
in March.

"I am walking over the hills every day getting up my new tale; I truly
think I have got on a good track.

"I'll send you a couple of short O'Ds. for February. When Parliament
meets we shall not want for matter.

"I send one now on 'Tuft-hunting.' You will see I had Whately in my head
while I was doing it.

"My hope and wish is to be able to begin a new story in the April No.
Will this suit your book?

"You can't imagine how anxious I feel about 'Tony.' Let me hear from you
how it is subscribed? Mudie is, I think, the novel barometer; what says
he? If the book is not known as mine, all the better. At least, I have
such faith in my bad luck that I would rather any one else fathered it.

"If it were not for the cheer of your hearty letters I don't know what I
should do, for I am low--low!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Jan_. 9, 1865.

"I send you herewith three O'Ds. 'Going into Parliament'--not bad;
'Excursionist,' perhaps tolerable,--but both true, so help me!

"This is the 9th, and if in time to let me have a proof--well. If not, I
trust to you to see that my errors be set right and my sins forgiven me.

"One of the most curious trials--a case of disputed identity--is now
going on in Madrid. I'd like to have given it, but I fear that the daily
papers will have it, and of course we must never drink out of the same
well. O'D. must be original or he is nothing, and the originality ought
to be, if possible, in _matter_ as much as manner. Don't you agree with

"I think I have a good opening of a story,--Ireland,--to be changed,
scene ii., to Cagliari in Sardinia. It is only in my _head_, and in
company there with duns, usurers, attorneys, begging letters, and F. O.
impertinences,--my poor skull being like a pawnbroker's shop, where a
great deal is 'pledged' and very little redeemable."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Jan_. 19,1866.

"I got your note and your big cheque, and felt so lusty therewith that
I actually contradicted my landlord, and conducted myself with a
bumptiousness that half alarmed my family, unaware of the strong
stimulant I was under.

"Hech, sirs! aren't I nervous about 'Tony'? You made a great mistake
in not putting a name on the title. It will be ascribed to me, and
blackguarded in consequence.

"I am glad you like the O'D. on 'Tuft-hunting.' Of course you saw I had
Whately and his tail in my eye. They were the most shameless dogs I ever
forgathered with.

"Do let me hear from you about T. B. soon. You may depend on't that
Corney O'Dowd's sins will be visited on Tony, and the fellows who would
not dare to come out into the open and have a 'fall' with Tony will shy
their stone at him now.

"Why have you not reprinted in a vol. the 'Maxims of Morgan O'Doherty'?
They are unequalled in their way.

"By this you will have received the O'D. on 'Wolff going into
Parliament' and a score more _sui generis_.

"I have composed three openings of the new story, and nearly driven my
family distracted by my changes of plan; but I am not on the right road
yet. However, I hope to be hard at it next week.

"Is the 'P. M. Gazette' to be the organ of the Party or is it a private
spec? When I only think of the Tories of my acquaintance it is not any
surprise to me that the Party is not a power; though I certainly feel
if they were there and not kicked out again it would go far to prove a
miracle. Are these your experiences?"

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Villa Morelli, _Jan_. 24, 1865.

"You are such a good fellow that you can give even bad news a colour of
comfort; but it is bad news, this of 'Tony,' and has caught me like a
strong blow between the eyes. Surely in this _gurgite vasto_ of [ ] and
sensuality there ought to be some hearing for a man who would give his
experiences of life uncharged with exaggerations, or unspiced by capital

"I am sure a notice of 'The Times,' if it could be, would get the book
a fair trial, and I neither ask nor have a right to more. Meanwhile I am
what Mrs O'Dowd calls 'several degrees below Nero.'

"I began my new story yesterday, but I'll wait till I hear more cheery
news before I take to my (ink) bottle again.

"You'll have to look sharp for blunders in the last O'D.

"It almost puts me in spirits to talk of the theatricals. It is my
veritable passion, and I plume myself upon my actorship. I have had
plays in nearly every house I have lived in, in all parts of Europe.
Mary Boyle--that was Dickens's _prima donna_--was of my training; her
infant steps (she was five-and-thirty at the time) were first led by me;
and I remember holding a ladder for her while she sang a love-song out
of a window, and (trying to study my own part at the same time) I set
fire to her petticoats!

"There are short things from the French which would do well if your
people had time to translate them. 'Les Inconsolables,' from two really
good artists, first-rate. I have a little Italian piece by me would also
adapt well, and it is an immense gain to have a piece perfectly new and
fresh, and when there can be no odious comparisons with Buckstone or
Keely, and the rest of them. In fact, half of our young English amateurs
are only bad Robsons and Paul Bedfords. My girls are all good actresses,
and we have--or we used to have--short scenes of our devising constantly
got up amongst us.

"Remember to send me good news, true or not, or at least any civil
'notice' you may see of 'Tony,' for till I hear again 'the divil a word
ever I write.'

"When I read out your letter this morning, my wife said in a whisper,
'Now he'll be off to whist worse than ever!' So it is; I take to the
rubber as other men do to a dram.

"Have you sent copies of T. B. to the press folk? I don't know if Savage
has to do with 'The Examiner,' but he is an old pal of mine, and would
willingly give us a lift.

"I wish I had Bright's speech in time for a quiz this month. It was a
rare occasion. A mock classic oration, for a tribune of the people, full
of gross flattery of the Plebs, would have been good fun; but [? the
opportunity] is everything, and the joke that comes late looks, at
least, as if it took labour to arrive at.

"Oh dear, but I am down! down! Write to me, I entreat you.

"Give my heartiest good wishes to the Corps Dramatique,--say that I am
with them in spirit. 'My heart's in the side scenes, my heart is not

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Feb_. 4, 1865.

"I am impatient to show you a brick of the new house: first, because if
you don't like it I'll not go on; and secondly, if you should think well
of it, your encouragement will be a great strengthener to me, and give
me that confidence that none of my own connections ever inspire. My
womenkind like Sir F., partly perhaps because I have said something
about my 'intentions.' Not that I have any intentions, however, so
fixed that the course of the story may not serve to unhinge them. At all
events, _you_ are well able to predicate from a molar tooth what sort of
a beast it was that owned it, or might own it. Say your say then, and as
boldly as our interests require.

"I'd like to write you the best story in my market--that is, if I have a
market; but now and then I half feel as if I were only manufacturing out
of old wearables, like the devil's dust folk at Manchester.

"I have no heart to talk of 'Tony,' because I think the book is a deal
better than what the scoundrels are daily praising, and I know there is
better 'talk' in it than the rascals ever did talk or listen to in the
dirty daily Covent Garden lines. There's a burst of indignant vanity for
you, and I'm 'better for it' already. If 'The Times' had noticed us at
once, it would have given the key-note; but _patienzia_, as the Italians

"Now let me have a line at your earliest about B. F., for though we
don't start till All Fools' Day, I'd like to get in advance. I hope
you'll like the O'Ds. I sent last. When vol. ii. is ready let me have
one by post. Your cheque is come all safe--my thanks for it.

"We are in great commotion here; the K. has arrived. Turin being in a
state that may be any moment 'of siege,' things look very ill here, and
the men in power are quite unequal to the charge."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Feb_. 11, 1865.

"You are wrong about the scandal--there is none abroad whatever! For the
same reason that Lycurgus said there was no adultery in Sparta, because
every one had a legal right to every one else. There can be no criticism
where there is no default.

"'The Times' on 'Tony' was miserable: the book is--'though I that
oughtn't,' &c,--good. That is, there is a devilish deal more good in it
than half of the things that are puffed up into celebrity, and had
it been written by any man but my unlucky self, would have had great
success. I have not seen the M. P. notice. I have just seen the 'P.
Mall Gazette.' It is deplorably bad: the attempts at fun and smartness
positively painful. I am impatient to hear what you say of the new

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Feb._ 21,1865.

"I hasten to answer your note, which has just come and relieved me
of some gloomy apprehensions. I had begun to fancy that your delay in
pronouncing on B. F. is out of dislike to say that you are not pleased
with it. This fear of mine was increased by being low and depressed.
Your judgment has relieved me, however, and done me much good already,
and to-morrow I'll go to work 'with a will' and, I hope, a 'way.'

"'The Judge and his Wife'* are life sketches, the rest are fictional.

     * Baron Lendrick (in 'Sir Brook Fossbrooke') was one of
     Lever's favourite characters. The old judge was a sketch for
     which he had to depend upon a memory of a journey made more
     than twenty years before 'Sir Brook' was written. Lever had
     travelled to London in the 'Forties with a distinguished
     party--Isaac Butt, Frederick Shaw (the member for Dublin
     University), Henry West (afterwards a judge), and Sergeant
     Lefroy (afterwards--Lord Chief-Justice of Ireland). Baron
     Lendrick was a study of Lefroy. It was said that Lever was
     the only man who had ever succeeded in making Lefroy laugh.
     Lever declared that his Baron Lendrick was a portrait upon
     which he had expended "a good deal of time and paint"--E. D.

"I send you a batch of O'Ds. for April No. Some of them I think good.
By the way, Smith--of Smith & Elder--has been begging me to send
him something, as O'Ds. I refused, and said that Cornelius was your
property, and if I sent him an occasional squib it should be on no
account under that title.

"From what I have seen I agree with you about the style and pretensions
of the 'P. M. Gazette.' They are heavy when trying to be light and
volatile, the dreariest sort of failure imaginable. It is strange
fact that what the world regards as the inferior organisation--the
temperament for drollery--is infinitely the most difficult to imitate.
Your clown might possibly play Hamlet. I'll be shot if Hamlet could play
Clown! Now original matter on daily events, to be read at all, ought
to have the stamp of originality on its style. These fellows have not
caught this. They are as tiresome as real members of Parliament.

"There is a great dearth of 'passing topics' for O'Dowderie; Parliament
is dull, and society duller. I am sure that a little stupidity--a sort
of prosy platitude just now in O'D.--would conciliate my critics of the
press. My pickles have given them a heartburn, d------ them; but they
shall have them hotter than ever."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Feb_. 29, 1866.

"I have just got your note and its 'farce': thanks for both. 'Tony
Butler' is a deal too good for the stupid public, who cram themselves
with [ ] and [ ], which any one with a Newgate Calendar at hand and an
unblushing temperament might accomplish after a few easy lessons.

"It is very little short of an indignity for a man to write for a public
who can gloat over [ ] or the stupid drolleries of [ ], so flauntingly
proclaimed by 'The Times,' as most utter trash. I am decidedly sick of
my readers and my critics, and not in any extravagance of self-conceit,
because though I know I have a speciality for the thing I do, I neither
want any one to believe it a high order of performance or myself a very
great artist. I only say it is mine, and that another has not done it in
the same way.

"I shall be sorry if you omit the O'Ds. this month. Two of them, at
least, are apropos, and would suffer. The careful meditation, too, is
worth something, as I claim to be ready with my pen, even when I only
wound my bird."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Villa MorElli, Florence, March 7, 1865.

"I answer your note at once to acknowledge your cheque. It's not
necessary to tell you how I value your feeling for me, or how deeply
I prize your treatment of me. Sorely as I feel the public neglect of
'Tony,' I declare I am more grieved on your account than on my own. It
is in no puppyism I profess to think the book good: faults I know there
are, scores of them, but there is more knowledge of men and women and
better 'talk' in it, I honestly believe, than in those things which
are run after and third-editioned. As to doing better--I frankly own I
cannot. It is not _in_ me. I will not say I may not hit off my public
better, though I'm not too confident of even _that_, but as to writing
better, throwing off more original sketches of character,--better
contrasts in colour or _sharper_ talkers,--don't believe it! I cannot.

"A more _ignorant_ notice than the 'Saturday Review' I never read.
M'Caskey is no more an anachronism than myself! though perhaps the
writer of the paper would say that is not taking a very strong ground.

"Why don't you like the 'Rope Trick'? It is better than most of the
O'Ds. By the way, Smith only _asked_ if I would send him O'Dowderies,
and I misrepresented him if I conveyed anything stronger. I was not
sorry, however, at the opportunity it gave me to say--how much and how
strongly--I felt that they were _yours_ so long as you cared for them.
You had been the godfather when they were christened.

"I am half disappointed we don't start B. F. next month; but you are
always right,--perhaps even _that_ makes the thing harder to bear.

"'Piccadilly' is very good, very amusing; one thing is pre-eminently
clear, the writer is distinctively a 'gentleman.' None but a man hourly
conversant with good society could give the tone he has given to Salon
Life. It has the perfume of the drawing-room throughout it all, and if
any one thinks that an easy thing to do, let him try it--that's all

"What you say of 'Our Mutual Friend' I agree with thoroughly. It is very
disagreeable reading, and the characters are more or less repugnant
and repelling; but there are bits, one especially, in the last No., of
restoring a drowned fellow to life which no man living but Dickens could
have written. I only quote 'Armadale' for the sake of the Dream Theory:
it is an odious story to my thinking, and I never can separate the two
cousins in my head, and make an infernal confusion in consequence. How
good 'Miss Marjoribanks' is--how excellent! What intense humour, what
real knowledge of human nature! To my thinking she has no equal, and so
think all my womanhood, who prefer her to all the story-writers, male
and female.

"What you hint about a real love-story is good, but don't forget that
Thackeray said, 'No old man must prate about love.' I remember the D.
of Wellington once saying to me, referring to Warren's 'Ten Thousand
a-Year': 'It is not that _he never had_ ten thousand a-year, but he
never knew a man who had.' As to writing about love from memory, it's
like counting over the bank-notes of a bank long broken. They remind you
of money, it's true, but they're only waste-paper after all."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _March_ 11,1865.

"I send off by book-post the O'D. proof, though I suppose, and indeed
hope, you will not use them for the April No., but keep them for May.
This, not alone because it will give me more time to think of 'Sir B.'
but also, because there is just now rather a dearth of matter for what
the 'Morning Post' describes as my 'Olympian platitudes.'

     "'Oh dear, what a trial it is--to be kicked by a cripple.'

"I have added a few lines to complete the 'Church' O'Dowd; pray see that
it is correct. I am curious to see the new vol., and to hear from you
about its success.

"Do write to me--and as often as you have spare time. If we ever meet,
I'll pay it all back in _talk_."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, _March_ (_St Pat.'s_ Day).

"Gout, a rickety table, and four stupid Piedmontese authorities talking
bad Italian and smoking 'Cavours' at my side, are not aids to
polite letter-writing, and so forgive me if unusually incoherent and

"I came hurriedly down here to be consular, and to see poor old Mrs
Somerville, who was very seriously ill. She has rallied, but it is the
rally of eighty odd years. Nothing short of a Scotchwoman could have
lived through her attack.

"On looking over the 'Whist' proof, there are a few changes I would
suggest. I would, for instance, insert the 7 pp. copy in place of the
piece marked (--). It will need your careful supervision and reading.
The other bit of a page and half copy I would insert at p. 4, after the
word 'frankness.'The concluding sentence is in its due place. These
bits are meant to take off the air of didactic assumption the article is
tinged with, and also to dispose the reader to think I am not perfectly
serious in esteeming Whist to be higher than Astronomy or the Physical

"I have shown 'Foss' to a _very_ critical fellow here, and he says it
is better in _manner_ than 'Tony.' I don't believe him, though I should
like to do so.

"You shall have the proof at once. My daughter writes me that O'D. 2 has
arrived and looks very nice. Tell me how subscribed! Tell me what said
of it!

"Is it true you are all in a devil of a funk at a war with America?
So say the diplomats here, but they are very generally mistaken about
everything except 'Quarter day.' I had Hudson to dinner on Monday, and
we laughed ourselves into the gout, and had to finish the evening with
hot flannels and colchicum. There is not his equal in Europe. If I could
only give you his talk, you'd have such a _Noctes_ as I have never read
of for many a year, I assure you. I wished for you when the fun was
going fast. Good Heavens! how provoking it is that such a fellow should
not be commemorated. Listening to him after reading a biography is such
rank bathos; and as to settling down to _write_ after him, it is
like setting to work to brew small beer with one's head swimming with
champagne. I hope to be back at Villa Morelli by Sunday, and to find a
proof and a letter from you when I arrive.

"I shall be very glad to see Mr M. Skene when he turns up at Florence. I
need not tell you that a friend of yours comes into the category of the
favoured nations. My life is now, however, a very dull affair to ask any
one to look at, and it is only by a real feeling of good-nature any one
would endure me.

"Only think of this climate! I have had to close the jalousies to keep
out the sun, and it is now positively too hot where I am writing. I
could almost forgive the 'Excursionists' coming out to bask in such

"I hear the 'M. Post' has had a long and favourable notice of 'Tony.'
Have you seen it?

"Now be sure you write to me and often. Addio.

"The American consul has just called and told me that his Government are
sending a smashing squadron over here under an admiral--a sort of 'Io
Triumphe' after the raising of the blockade. All the big frigates are to
be included in it."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _March_ 30,1865.

"This is only to say how much your criticism on 'Sir B.' has pleased me,
but don't believe the book is better than 'Tony'--it is not. The man who
wrote the other hasn't as good in his wallet.

"I am _sure_ the _Major_ is right, and the story of being _chasséd_ from
Austria reads wrong; but it is not, as one might imagine, _unfounded_.
The case was Yelverton's, and present V. Admiral in the Mediterranean,
and the lady an Infanta of Portugal, and it went so far that she was
actually going off with him. Now, if you still think it should be
cancelled, be it so. I have only recommended it to mercy, not pardoned

"Besides my gout I am in the midst of worries. The New Capital is
playing the devil with us in increased cost of everything, and my
landlord--the one honest man I used to think him in the Peninsula--has
just written to apprise me that my rent is doubled. Of course I must
go, but where to? that's the question. I'd cut my lucky and make towards
England, but that our friends at the Carlton say, 'Hold on to Spezzia
and we'll give you something when we come in.' Do you remember the
German Duke who told his ragged followers they should all have shirts,
for he was about to sow flax? I threw my sorrows into a doggerel epigram
as I was in my bath this morning.--

      "To such a pass have things now come,
      So high have prices risen,
      If Italy don't go to Rome,
      Then--I must go to prison.

"I find that Skene and I are old friends who have fought many a
whist battle together. I wanted him to dine with me yesterday to meet
Knatchbull and Labouchere, but he was lumbagoed and obliged to keep his
bed: he is all right to-day, however.

"I hope to have a few days (a week) in England this spring--that is,
if I keep out of jail,--but I'll let you know my plans when they are

"I have not written since--better I should not--for I go about saying
to myself 'D------ Morelli,' so that my family begin to tremble for my

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Spezzia, _April_ 6, 1865.

"Your letter has just caught me here. I came down hurriedly to see if
I couldn't find a 'location,' for my Florentine landlord--actuated by
those pure patriotic motives which see in the change of capital the
greatness of Italy and the gain of Tuscany--has put 280 odd l. on
my rent! As I have been stupid enough to spend some little money in
improving my garden, &c. he is wise enough to calculate that I feel
reluctant to leave where I have taken root.

"These are small worries, but _they are_ worries in their way, and
sometimes more than mere worries to a man like myself who takes a
considerable time to settle down, and hates being disturbed afterwards.
It never was a matter of surprise to me that story of the prisoner who,
after twenty year's confinement, refused to accept his liberty! And for
this reason: if I had been a Papist I'd never have spent a farthing to
get me out of Purgatory, for I know I'd have taken to the place after
a while, and made myself a sort of life that would have been very

"You will see from this that 'Sir B.' is not advancing. How can he, when
I am badgered about from post to pillar? But once settled, you'll see
how I'll work. It's time I should say I had your cheque all right; and
as to 'Sir B.,' it shall be all as you say.

"I am sorely put out by 'Tony' not doing better. I can understand scores
of people not caring for O'Dowd, just as I have heard in Society such
talk as O'D. voted a bore. Englishmen resent a smartness as a liberty:
the man who tries a jest in their company has been guilty of a freedom
not pardonable. But surely 'Tony' is as good trash as the other trash
vendors are selling; his nonsense is as readable nonsense as theirs.
I am not hopeful of hitting it off better this time, though I have a
glimmering suspicion that 'Sir Brooke' will be bad enough to succeed.

"Skene and Preston came out to me one evening. I wish I had seen more of
them. We laughed a good deal, though I was depressed and out of sorts.

"Of course if Hudson goes 'yourwards' I'll make him known to you. What
a misfortune for all who love the best order of fun that he was not
poor enough to be obliged to write for his bread! His letters are better
drollery than any of us can do, and full of caricature illustrations far
and away beyond the best things in 'Punch.' Who knows but one of these
days we may meet at the same mahogany; and if we should------

"I forget if I told you I have a prospect of a few days in town towards
the beginning of May--my positively last appearance in England, before I
enter upon that long engagement in the great afterpiece where there are
no Tony Butlers nor any O'Dowds.

"I do hope I shall see you: no fault of mine will it be if I fail."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, April 10, 1866.

"Send for No. 1 of 'The Excursionist,' edited by a Mr Cook, and if you
don't laugh, 'you're no' the man I thought ye.' He pitches in to me most
furiously for my O'Dowd on the 'Convict Tourists'; and seeing the tone
of his paper, I only wonder he did not make the case actionable.

"He evidently believes that I saw him and his 'drove Bulls,' and takes
the whole in the most serious light. Good Heavens! what a public he

"The extracts he gives from the T. B.'s article are far more _really_
severe than anything I wrote, because the snob who wrote them was a
_bona fide_ witness of the atrocious snobs around him; and as for the
tourist who asks, 'Is this suit of clothes good enough for Florence, Mr
Cook?' I could make a book on him.

"The fellow is frantic, that is clear.

"Heaven grant that I may fall in with his tourists! I'll certainly go
and dine at any _table d'hôte_ I find them at in Florence.

"I have been so put out (because my landlord will insist on putting me
out) by change of house that I have not been able to write a line."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _April_ 14,1865.

"After the affecting picture Skene drew of you over one of my
inscrutable MSS., I set the governess to work to copy out a chapter of
'Sir B.,' which I now send; the remainder of the No. for July I shall
despatch to-morrow or next day at farthest. That done, I shall rest and
do no more for a little while, as my story needs digestion.

"I have asked for a short leave. I am not sure the answer may not be,
'You are never at your post, and your request is mere surplusage, and
nobody knows or cares where you are,' &c. If, however, 'My Lord' should
not have read 'The Rope Trick,' and if he should be courteously disposed
to accord me my few weeks of absence, and if I should go,--it will be
at once, as I am anxious to be in town when the world of Parliament is
there, when there are men to talk to and to listen to. I want greatly
to see you: I'm not sure that it is not one of my primest objects in my

"All this, however, must depend on F. O., which, to say truth, owes
me very little favour or civility. I have been idle latterly--not from
choice indeed; but my wife has been very poorly, and there is nothing
so entirely and hopelessly disables me as a sick house: the very silence
appals me."

_To Mr John Blackwood,_

"Villa Morelli, _April_ 23,1865.

"I send you a short story. I have made it O'Dowdish, but you shall
yourself decide if it would be better unconnected with O'D. It would not
make a bad farce; and Buckstone as 'Joel,' and Paul Bedford as 'Victor
Emanuel,' would make what the Cockneys call a 'screamer.'

"I have not yet heard anything of my leave, but if I get it at once, and
_am forced to utilise it immediately_, my plan would be to go over to
Ireland (where I am obliged to go on business), finish all I have to do
there, and be back by the 20th to meet you in London. I cannot say how
delighted I should be to go down to you in Scotland. I'd like to see
you with your natural background,--a man is always best with his own
accessories,--but it mauna be. I can't manage the time. Going, as I do,
from home with my poor wife such a sufferer is very anxious work, and
though I have deferred it for the last five years, I go now--if I do
go--with great fear and uneasiness. It requires no small self-restraint
to say 'No' to so pleasant a project, and for God's sake don't try and
tempt me any more!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _May_ 6,1865.

"I suppose (from your silence) that you imagine me in, or about to be
in, England. But no; thanks to 'The Rope Trick,' perhaps, my Lord has
not vouchsafed any reply to my asking for leave, and here I am still.
It is the more provoking because, in the expectation of a start, I idled
the last ten days, and now find it hard to take up my bed and walk,
uncured by the vagabondage I looked for.

"Besides this, I had received a very warm and pressing invitation to I
know not what celebrations in Ireland, and meant to have been there by
the opening of the Exhibition. However, the F. O. won't have it, and
here I am.

"I am deucedly disposed to throw up my tuppenny consulate on every
ground, but have not the pluck, from really a want of confidence in
myself, and what I may _be_ this day twelve months, if I _be_ at all.

"Write to me at all events, and with proof, since if 'the leave' does
not arrive to-morrow or next day, I'll not avail myself of it.

"If I could hear O'D. was doing flourishing I'd pitch F. O. to the devil
by return of post."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _May_ 10,1866.

"When this comes to hand I hope to be nearer you than I am now. My
address will be care of Alexander Spencer, Esq., 32 North Frederick
Street, Dublin. Any proofs--and I hope for some--will find me there.

"F. O. meant to bully, and _did_ bully me; but, after all, one must
say that there is an impression that I wrote 'Tony Butler,' and as I
am indolent to contradict it, _que voulez-vous?_ I only got my blessed
leave to-day, and go to-morrow. Never feeling sure that I should be able
to go, I have left everything to the last, and now I am overwhelmed with
things to do.

"My stay in Ireland will be probably a week, and I hope to be in London
by the end of the month. Let me know your plans and your places.

"I am a (something) at the Irish Exhibition (remind me to tell you a
story of the D. of Richmond at Rotterdam, which won't do to write); and
perhaps it would not be seemly to O'Dowd the Dubliners."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Morrison's, Dublin, _May_ 21,1865.

"My movements are to go up to London by Wednesday next. I have a
fortnight at least to give to London, but don't mulct any engagements on
my account, but let me see you on your 'off days.'

"I sent off the 'Hero-worship,' corrected, by yesterday's mail, but
added in the envelope a prayer to whomever it might concern not to
trust to my hasty revisal, but to look to the orthographies closely, and
especially to make Mr Jack 'Mr Joel,' as he ought to be.

"Heaven reward you for sending me money! I wonder how you knew I lost
£40 last Wednesday night at whist at a mess. I shall, I hope, have
wherewithal to pass me on to my parish, but no more.

"The Exhibition here is really good, and very tasteful and pretty. The
weather is, however, atrocious, and I am half choked with a cold.

"A Scotch friend, J. F. Drummond (some relative of George Thompson's),
has been endeavouring to have me domiciled at the house he stops at,
11 St James's Place; but I suspect that the coming Derby has made a
difficulty, and I shall probably not get in: hitherto I have always gone
to the Burlington, but a notion of 'Thrift' (_vide_ O'Dowd) impels me
to do something that I already suspect will end in a reckless
extravagance." Lever found Dublin bright, lively, and hospitable, and
he was soon ready to cry out against the killing effects of too much
dining, too much whist, and too much flattery. Some of his Irish friends
noticed that he suffered from occasional attacks of utter despondency.
The novelist himself explains the cause of his low-spiritedness: many of
his blithesome companions of the 'Thirties and 'Forties were dead, and
most of those who remained in the land of the living had become very old
and painfully prim. When he paid a visit to the Four Courts, he saw on
the bench solemn care-worn personages whom he had known as struggling
and light-hearted lawyers. His sympathies almost to the last were with
young and lively folk: old age was his bogey. "I like the ambitions of
young men," he said, "their high and their bold self-confidence, which
no man retains when he gets 'groggy.'" Amongst his entertainers in
Dublin during this visit were Sheridan Le Fanu, W. H. Lecky, and Sir
William Wilde. The first two of these noted Lever's dulness: Wilde
found him more brilliant than ever. The novelist's moods were peculiarly
variable just then. Amongst the visits he paid to old haunts was one
to the place where his Burschen Club had held revel thirty-five years
previously. He discovered some of the club's paraphernalia, and obtained
possession of these relics of golden hours. When he visited Trinity
College he was a prey to conflicting emotions, but on the whole the
remembrances of the old days, when he lived at No. 2 Botany Bay, were
pleasant and inspiriting. He declares that as he walked through the
courts and corridors of the University he felt as if thirty years of
hard conflict with the world were no more than a memory, and that he was
as ready as ever to fling himself headlong into all the fun and frolic
of a freshman's life. This highly-strung mood was succeeded by a fit of
deepest melancholy. As he said good-bye to Trinity he felt that he was
gazing upon it for the last time. He had submitted to the ordeal of
being photographed. The result did not tend to chase his gloom away. The
photograph showed him features which the hand of Time had coarsened.
In London he met, for the first time, John Blackwood. It was a merry
meeting. Blackwood, writing from The Burlington on June 4th, says:
"This place is in a greater whirl than ever, and it is with the
greatest difficulty I can get anything done. In addition to the usual
distractions, I have had Cornelius O'Dowd staying in the same house. He
is a sort of fellow that comes into your room and keeps you roaring
with laughter for a couple of hours every hour of the day.... His fun is
something wonderful." Every likely attraction was provided for O'Dowd by
his publisher. Hannay, Kinglake, Delane did their best to entertain him.
Blackwood describes the contrast between Kinglake and Lever,--the former
making neat little remarks, and Lever rattling on with story after
story. Harry Lorrequer appeared in the Park, riding on a nag of Lord
Bolingbroke's. Blackwood humorously declares that, seeing a donkey-cart
in Piccadilly, he was uneasy lest the author of 'Charles O'Malley'
should be tempted to clear the cart in a flying leap. The novelist's
own impressions of this visit to London were sufficiently lively. He was
entertained by Lord Houghton, Lord Lytton, and other literary big-wigs.
The city seemed as new to him--"just as noisy, as confounding, as
addling, as exciting, as tantalising, as never satisfying"--as when
he had first seen it. London loungers, he said, had no idea of the
overwhelming excitement produced on an idle Anglo-Italian by the mere
sounds and sights of the streets, nor could they measure the confusion
and enjoyment experienced by a man "who hears more in half an hour
than he has imagined in half a year." He returned to Florence in June,
visiting Paris on the homeward journey. He was not sorry to find that
official duties called him to Spezzia. He was anxious for a period of
rumination--for an easy opportunity of sliding back into the routine
ways of pen-craft, which were, he declares, the labour and the happiness
of his life. For some weeks consular work kept him busy, and it was
difficult to make much headway with 'Sir Brook.' Moreover, he was
beginning to suffer from attacks of somnolency, akin to the attacks
which had prostrated him at Templeogue. When he was not sleeping he was
frequently enwrapped in a half dream. "I reflect much," he said, "and
always with my eyes closed and a pillow under my head, and with such
a semblance of perfect repose that calumnious people have said I was
asleep. These hours of reflection occupy a large share of the forenoon
and of the time between early dinner and sunset. They are periods of
great enjoyment: they once were even more so, when an opinion prevailed
that it would be a sacrilege to disturb me, these being the creative
hours of my active intelligence. This faith has long since changed for
a less reverent version of my labours, and people are less scrupulous
about interruption." One cannot help suspecting that opium played
some part in this languorousness,--though there is no evidence that he
resumed the habit. It would have been impossible that Lever should
allow even his slumber-fits to escape from association with some form
of frolic. Attired in a negligently-worn linen suit, he fell asleep on
a chair one day at the public baths. An English footman came into the
place, and, mistaking the vice-consul for an attendant, he rudely shook
him and declared that he wanted a bath instantly. "There you are!" said
Lever, springing to his feet, seizing the flashily-dressed lackey, and
pitching him into the reservoir.

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Villa Morelli, _July_ 1,1865.

"I am much obliged by your interest for me at Valetta. I really _want_
the house, first, because I would be glad to get away from Florentine
dear-ness; and secondly, I ought to give up Spezzia or go to it. If,
then, anything can be done anent this matter, it will serve me much.

"Of course I am sorry to hear that you should leave Spezzia, but I
cannot but feel the bishop's offer a good one--good as the means of
securing an excellent position and field for further effort. To me Malta
would be very palatable. I like the 49th, and their stupid talk. I
like pipeclay, and facings, and camp gossip. I like the Mess, and the
half-crown whist, and the no 'canon' company.

"_You_ are above all this, and _tant pis_ for you. It is a grand lesson
in life to have habits and ways that will suit the lowest rate of
intelligence; and as for me, I have not a pursuit that could not be
practised by the company of a private madhouse.

"I have seen a review of 'Tony,' excellent in its way, and giving some
encouragement to the 'evidently young author,' and warning him that his
Italian politics are too heavy for fiction.

"I have begun a new story, 'Sir Brook Fossbrooke.' What it will turn
out, God knows. 'Luttrell is complete and out, and another vol. of
'O'Dowd' appears next week.

"There is a new evening paper (Tory) called 'The Pall Mall Gazette'
started. They have asked me to join them, but I don't like newspaper
work, and have said 'No.'

"Till 'the party' are able to strike out some line essentially different
from Palmerston's, not merely crotchety, but really distinctive, all
advocating of them in the press is impossible. Now, it's hard work to
_read_ platitudes; it's the devil to _write_ them. Hannay is to be the

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel de Milan, Spezzia, _July_ 11,1865.

"I have just got your note and the proof of O'D. in the midst of my
consular cares, with my Jack flying out of my consular windows, and
my consular brains broiling under a temperature that would roast a

"I sent you off Sir B. in proof by this post. 'O'Dowd' shall follow (if
possible) to-morrow, at all events in time. For the love of God, let
some man learned in orthographies look to my proofs, for I can't spell
after the thermometer passes 90° in the shade, and if I were to be
d------d I don't know how many d's there are in granddaughter.

"As to writing here I need only say that it costs me a small apoplexy to
perform the present note. The railroad screams under my window, and two
Miss Somervilles are sol-faing overhead (and I vow to Heaven I like the
locomotive best), and I have a telegram to say that the admiral may
be here any day after the 17th, and stay as long as he finds it
pleasant,--a condition which (if I know myself) will not entail any
undue delay."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Hôtel de Milan, Spezzia, _July_ 13, 1865.

"Your note came on here to-day, the enclosure stayed at Florence.
What cruel inspiration suggested your thoughtful kindness? I left home
declaring that I was ruined, had overdrawn you, and had not a _sou_ for
anything; that we must live on roots and drink water till next spring:
and now my beautiful budget, that I have just carried at the risk of the
Government, is all gone and smashed.

"You (fortunately for you) don't know that all these things are very
great things to people who are always swimming for their lives,--but
enough of it.

"I have been exceedingly busy since I came here. An order of the Queen's
Bench named me a Commissioner to take evidence in a case coming on
for trial next November, and I have been sitting up--like a Brummagem
Chief-Justice--and rebuking witnesses, and scowling at the public like a
real judge.

"I send a few lines to complete O'D. for the month. How I wrote them I
don't know, for this infernal place is so noisy, and the interruptions
so frequent, I'd fain be back in Brook Street for quiet.

"I fear I shall be detained here all this month, for the admiral is on
his way here, and the whole Maltese fleet are thirsting for bitter beer
and champagne. I wonder if I were to put down their powers of suction in
my extraordinaries would F. O. stand it?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel de Milan, Spezzia, _July_ 15, 1865.

"I send off O'D. proof to-night. I last night sent by private hand some
pages to conclude it. Do look very carefully to both; my orthography
(like Acre's courage) oozes out of my finger-ends in this hot weather.

"I have had a two hours' swim, and am so sleepy and 'water-logged' that
I can't write, though I'm dying to O'Dowd the judge for his remarks on
Dr Paterson in the Pritchard case. They are so ignorant, and so vulgar
to boot.

"If every doctor who _suspected_ foul play in the treatment of malady
was to cry out Murder! the whole world would be one wild shout of
assassination. What between medical timidity, terror, _gobemoucherie_,
and sometimes private malice, the police-courts would have enough
on their hands. They say railroads must have no signals because
pusillanimous travellers would be eternally summoning the guard, and
here is exactly a similar evil with worse consequences.

"I don't think I ever conversed with a country practitioner who hadn't a
story or two of 'foul play,' and so palpably untrue as to be laughable.
In all probability Paterson's impressions were only strong when he found
the woman had died, and it is a very medical error to imagine a skill
in prediction which only comes after the event. The world is all
subserviency to the doctor when there is an epidemic abroad, and 'takes
it out' in insult when the weather is fine and the season salubrious.

"'The Spanish fleet' is not in sight.

"Remember I rely upon you to look closely to these last 'Sir Bs.' and
'O'Dowds,' for I am as near softening of the brain as it is permitted to
a consul to be."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel de Milan, Spezzia, _July_ 28, 1865.

"It seems like a century to me since we heard of each other. Here I am
still awaiting the fleet. They were to come on the 27th, and they are to
be here positively on the 6th, most positively on the 8th, and as sure
as the Lord liveth (I mean the First Lord), on the 12th August.

"I have my youngest daughter with me, who keeps me in a perpetual round
of croquet, picnics, boat-races, and moonlight rowing-parties.

"If you knew, then, the difficulty I have had to write the two chaps.
I now send you (my first instalment of Sept. 'Fossbrooke '), you would
prize them more certainly than their merit could call for."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Hôtel de Milan, Spezzia, _Aug_. 6, 1865.

"I got your telegram just as I was starting for a picnic, to eat my
lobster afterwards with what appetite I might. I suspect (it is mere
suspicion) that chap, i., enclosed in an envelope I had borrowed from an
American colleague, has gone (through the words 'U.S. Consulate' on the
corner) to America, and that Sir B. F. is now making the tour of 'the

"Rewriting is all very fine; but I have forgotten all I wrote, as I
always do, or I should go mad. If Providence had only inflicted me with
a memory in proportion to my imagination, I'd have been in Bedlam twenty
years ago. I have therefore set to work and written something else. If
the other turns up, you may prefer it ('You pays your money and takes
your choice,' as the apple-women say).

"God forgive me, but I grow less wise as I grow older. The old smack of
devil-may-care, that sat so easily on me as a boy, keeps dodging me now
in grey hairs and making a fool of me; but you've read the German story
of the fellow whose wooden leg was 'possessed' and ran away with him. I
haven't a wooden leg, but I have a wooden stick that plays a like prank
with me.

"O'Dowd indeed! And _I_ flirting with little Yankee girls, and teaching
them to swim! Don't talk to me of O'Dowd!

"Tell your uncle to send me whatever there remains of balance of the
last O'Ds., for I am losing my money here like fun, and ashamed to send
to my bankers for more.

"Continue to address me _here_: I see no prospect of my getting back to
Florence. The English fleet is still at Rosas, and the three balls we
intended to give them have already come off here, and we are all ruined
in champagne and crinoline before the honoured guests have arrived. What
an O'D. one might make on 'The Fleet of the Future'!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel de Milan, _Aug_. 14,1866.

"When I read of Aytoun's death in the papers I knew how it would affect
you. I am well aware what old ties linked you; and these old ties bind
not only heart to heart, but attach a man to his former self, and make
up the sweetest part of our identity. They are often, too, the only
light that shines on the past, which would be dark and untraceable if
love did not mark it.

"It is strange, but I feel (and I wrote it to my wife) that I thought
I had lost a friend in losing him,--though we never met, and only knew
each other in a few kindly greetings transmitted by yourself from one to
the other. How right you are about the solemn fools! I go even farther,
and say that the solemn wise, the Gladstones of this world, are only
half great in wanting that humouristic vein that gives a man his wide
sympathy with other men, and makes him, through his very humanity, a
something more than human. I am sure it is in no unfair spirit I say
it, but the Aytoun type grows rarer every day. It is a commodity not
marketable, and Nature somehow ceases to produce what has not its value
in the _pièce courant._

"I can't write a line here. My youngest daughter keeps me ever
concocting new gaieties for her, and she has such an insatiable spirit
for enjoyment the game never ends.

"Our fleet is becalmed outside Spezzia, but may be here at any moment.

"I shall send off the proof by book-post, and (if no other reach
me) beseech you to remember that, being away from my wife and eldest
daughter, I am neither to be relied upon for my orthographies nor my
'unities,' nor indeed any other 'ties. Look, therefore, sharply to my
proof, and see that I am not ever obscure where I don't intend it.

"I see no chance of getting away before the end of the month, and till I
reach V. Morelli my ink-bottle is screwed up."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel de Milan, Spezzià, _Sept_. 2,1865.

"I am in misery. Here I am, dining and being dined, eating, drinking,
singing, sailing, swimming, pic-nicing, bedevilling,--everything, in
short, but writing. I have made incredible attempts to work. I have
taken a room on the house-top; I have insulted the ward-room and
d------d the cockpit; I have even sneered at the admiral. The evil,
however, is--I have done but a few pages, and I send them to get
printed, leaving you to determine whether we shall skip a month, or
whether, completing the unfinished chapter, an instalment of about 12
pp. will be better than nothing. I am more disposed to this than leaving
a gap, and I am still very wretched that my work should be ill done.
Direct and counsel me.

"This miserable place has cost me a year's pay to keep, and now I
hear that Elliott is sure to report me if I am found living in
Florence,--another illustration of thrift, if I add a P.S. to the

"I am very sick of the row and racket I live in. I want my home and my
quiet, and even my ink-bottle."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 17, 1866.

"I got back here two days ago, after more real fatigue and exhaustion
than I would again face for double my miserable place at Spezzia. These
bluejackets have not only drunk me out of champagne and Allsopp, but
so tapped myself that I am perfectly dry. The constant intercourse with
creatures of mere action--with creatures of muscles, nerves, and mucous
membranes, and no brains--becomes one of the most wearing and weakening
things you can imagine. Nor is it only the nine weeks lost, but God
knows how many more it will take before I can get the machinery of my
mind to work again: all is rusted and out of gear, and I now feel, what
I only suspected, that it is in this quiet humdrum life I am able to
work, and that I keep fresh by keeping to myself. An occasional burst
(to London for instance) would be of immense value to me, but that even
then should only be brief, and not too frequent.

"Is it necessary to say I could not write at Spezzia? I tried over and
over again, and for both our sakes it is as well I did not persevere.
I send, therefore, these two chapters, and a short bit to round off the
last one. If you opine (as I do) that even a short link is better than
a break, insert them next No., taking especial care to correct the new
portion, and, indeed, to look well to all.

"To-morrow I set to work,--I hope vigorously, at least so far as
intention goes,--and you shall have, if I'm able, a strong Sir B.' and
an 'O'Dowd' for next month. I never for thirty years of monthly labour
broke down before, and I am heartily ashamed of my shortcoming; but I
repeat it is better to give short measure than poison the company.

"I like the tribute to poor Aytoun very much, and I condole heartily
with you on the loss of one who walked so much of life at your side.
I am sure the habit of writing turns out more of a man's nature to his
friends than happens to those who never commit themselves to print, and
I am certain that his friends have their own reading of an author that
is totally denied to his outer public. You knew Aytoun well enough to
know if my theory does not apply to him.

"Don't be as chary of your letters as you have been. I'll so pepper you
now with correspondence that you must reply."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Sept_. 24,1865.

"You have herewith three chapters of 'Sir B.' for Nov. No., and if so be
that you need a fourth, there will be time to write it when I see these
in proof; but I thought it as well to keep the reader in suspense about
the interview, all the more because I know no more of what is coming
than he does! My impression is that these chapters will do: my womankind
like them, and only complain that there are no female scenes in the No.
But there shall be crinolines to the fore hereafter.

"I shall now set to work to write an 'O'Dowd' on my late Spezzia life
and experiences.

"What a fuss they are making about the Fenians, as if rebellion was
anything new in Ireland! It is only an acute attack of the old chronic
com-plaint, and wants nothing but bleeding to cure it.

"Some vile sailor, I suspect, has walked off with my May No. Magazine,
and I have not the beginning of the 'Sir B.' Will you send it to me?

"My wife is very poorly again, but this month coming round renews so
much sorrow to her that I suspect the cause may be there.

"I have just this moment heard that the new squadron is coming back to
Spezzia. If so, it will be the ruin of me--that is, if I go there; and
indeed I am seriously thinking of pitching my consular dignity to the
devil, and becoming a gentleman again, if only, as my coachman says,
'for an alternative.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct_. 1,1865.

"The squib I enclose will, I think, be well-timed. It is a letter
supposed to be found on a Fenian prisoner, a Col. Denis Donovan,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Fenian army, from Major-General M'Caskey,
who has been asked to take command of the National Forces. It can be
introduced to the reader thus.

"My wife says I have written nothing to equal this."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Oct_. 8,1866.

"You will have received before this the Fenian squib. I have little
courage to ask how you like it. Of course it would be easy enough to
make a long and strong paper out of the condensed materials of M'Caskey,
but I don't water my milk, though my experiences with the public might
have taught me that it would suit us both best.

"I have mislaid--perhaps some one has carried off--my 'Rebel Songs,'
for I heard a threat of the kind in connection with some autograph
balderdash. They are, however, no loss either to the cause or the
public. The best was one called 'The Devil may care.' I add a verse (as
it strikes me) for the public--

     "You don't read 'O'Dowd' and don't like its style;
     But then to my conscience I swear
     You buy things that are worse,
     And some not worth a curse,
     And for _my_ part--the Devil may care!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Oct_. 12,1865.

"Take care that M'Caskey's letter is not amongst the 'O'Dowds.'
Cornelius never heard of him, nor has he any knowledge of 'Tony Butler.'
Mind this.

"Send me the Horse-book of your Cavalry Officer, and I'll try and make
a short notice of it. I want the book of Villa Architecture too. I was
thinking of a paper (I have good bones for it) on the Italian fleet,
wood and iron, but I foresee that I should say so many impertinent
things, and hurt so many people I know, that I suspect on the whole it
is better not to go on with it. What I am to do with my surplus venom
when I close 'O'Dowd' I don't see, except I go into the Church and
preach on the Athanasian Creed.

"Wolff is in Paris still, scheming in 'Turks.'

"It will astonish Lyons when he discovers what a heritage Bulwer has
left him at Constantinople."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct_. 20, 1866.

"Your note and its 'padding' came to my hand a couple of hours ago. I
thank you much for both, but more for the encouragement than the cash,
though I wanted the last badly.

"I don't think there is a public for O'D. collectively. I don't think
people will take more than a monthly dose of 'my bitters,' and I incline
to suspect mawkish twaddle and old Joe Millers would hit the mark
better. Shall I try? _At all events, make room if you can for the
postscript I send you. Now I wrote it at your own suggestion when I read
your note_, and it seems to me to embody the dispute. I have tried to
put in a bit of Swift s tart dryness in the style.

"The telegram just announces Palmerston's death. Take care that his name
does not occur in my last O'D. I don't remember using it, but look to it
for me.

"What will happen now? I hear the Whigs won't have Russell, and that he
won't serve under Clarendon.

"How I wish I were in England to hear all the talk. It is d------d hard
to be chained up here and left only to bark, when I want to bite too."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct_. 23,1865.

"Does it not strike you that a good view of Palmerston's character might
be taken from considering how essentially the man was English, and that
in no other assembly than a British House of Commons would his qualities
have had the same sway and influence? All that intense vitality and rich
geniality would have been totally powerless in Austria, France, Italy,
or even America. None would have accepted the glorious nature of the
man, or the element of statesmanship, as the House accepted it. None
would have seen that the spirit of all he did was the rebound of that
public opinion which only a genial man ever feels or knows the value
of. If I be right in this, depend upon it Gladstone will make a lame
successor to him. God grant it!

"I send you a 'Sir B.' for December, as I am about to leave for Carrara
for a few days. I hope it is good. It may be that another short chapter
may be necessary, and if so there will be time for it when I come back.

"How I would like now if I had the time (but it would take time and
labour too) to write an article on the deception which the Whigs have
practised in trading on their Italian policy as their true claim to
office. It is the most rascally fraud ever practised."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct_. 29, 1865.

"I send you two O'Ds.; that on Gladstone I think tolerably good. The
short paper on 'The Horse,' being all done in the first person, I think
had better be an 'O'Dowd,'--indeed I signed it such; but do as you like
about this.

"I think there seems a very good prospect of the Tories coming in during
the session. Phil Rose was here the other day and gave me good hopes,
and said also they would certainly give me _something_. Heaven grant
it! for I am getting very footsore, and would like to fall back upon a
do-nothing existence, and never hear more of the public.

"The foreign papers are all--especially the Bonapartist ones--attacking
Lord Russell as an 'Orleanist.' I never had heard of his leanings in
that direction; but it is exactly one of those tendencies we should
_not_ hear of in England, but which foreigners would be certain to
chance upon."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Friday, Nov. 3_, 1866.

"I am rather out of spirits,--indeed I feel that my public and myself
are at cross-purposes.

"D------ their souls--(God forgive me)--but they go on repeating some
stone-cold drollery of old Pam's, and my fun--hot and piping--is left
un-tasted; and as to wisdom, I'll back O'Dowd against all the mock
aphorisms of Lord Russell and his whole Cabinet. It would not do to
touch Palmerston in O'D.: I could not go on the intensely laudatory
tack, and any--the very slightest--qualification of praise would be
ill taken. Do you know the real secret of P.'s success? It was, that he
never displayed ambition till he was a rich man. Had Disraeli reserved
himself in the same degree, there would have been nothing of all the
rotten cant of 'adventurer,' &c., that we now hear against him. _Begin_
life rich in England, and all things will be added to you."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Nov._ 6,1865.

"I think the Bagmen deserve an 'O'Dowd'; their impertinent wine
discussion is too much to bear. I don't suspect the general public
will dislike seeing them lashed, and from the specimens I have met
travelling, I owe some of the race more than I have given them.

"I think there is a good chance of a (short-lived) Conservative
Government next year, and then Gladstone and _le Déluge_. Unless some
great change resolves the two parties in the House into real open
enemies (not camps where deserters cross and recross any day), we shall
have neither political honesty nor good government.

"The present condition of things makes a lukewarm public and
disreputable politicians."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Nov_. 11, 1866.

"I would have sent another chapter to 'Sir Brook,' but that I have been
sick and ill,--a sort of feverish cold, with a headache little short
of madness. I am over it now, but very low and spiritless and unfit for

"I have got a long letter from Whiteside this morning: he thinks that
the conduct of the Palmerston Whigs will decide the question as to who
should govern the country. It is, however, decided that Gladstone is to
smash the Irish Education scheme and to overturn the Church.

"I had written to him to press upon his friend the importance of
restoring Hudson to his Embassy in the event of the Derby party coming
to power, and he sent my letter as it was to Lord Malmes-bury, though it
contained some rather sharp remarks on Lord M.'s conduct while at F. O.
He (W.) says Lord M. asked to keep the letter, and wrote a very civil

"Look carefully to 'Sir B.' for me, for my head is a stage below
correction. I composed some hundred O'Ds. in doggerel the night before
last, and (I hear) laughed immoderately in my sleep."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Nov_. 30, 1866.

"If I be right, Lord R. will dodge both parties, say 'No' to neither,
and, while cajoling the old Palmerston Whigs not to desert him, he'll
by certain Radical appointments conciliate that party and bribe them to
_wait_. In this sense I have written the O'Dowd, 'The Man at the
Wheel.' I think it reasonably good. _That is, if my prediction be true_:
otherwise it won't do at all; but we'll have time to see before we
commit ourselves.

"I hope you'll like it, as also the sterner one on 'Hospitalities

"The post here is now very irregular,--indeed since we're a capital the
place has gone to the devil. I don't know whether the dulness or the
dearness be greatest.

"The Radicals, waiting for reform and taking the destruction of the
Irish Church meanwhile, remind one of Nelson's coxwain's saying when
asked if he would have a glass of rum or a tumbler of punch, that 'he'd
be drinking the rum while her ladyship was mixing the punch.' Ireland
is to be complimented for her projected rebellion by fresh concessions.
Never was there such a splendid policy.

"The Italians say, 'The toad got no tail at the creation of the
world because he never asked for one.' Certes, my countrymen won't be
deficient in their caudal appendages on such grounds.

"I am hipped by bad weather, undeveloped gout, and other ills too
numerous to mention, but still------"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Spezzia, _Dec_. 4, 1866.

"In reply to your note, and its enclosure referring to a passage in one
of my late 'O'Dowds' that an admiral is a sort of human rhinoceros, &c.,
I have simply to say that the joke is a very sorry one, and one of the
worst I have ever uttered, if it give offence; but I most distinctly
declare that I never entertained the most distant idea of a personality.
Indeed my whole allusion was to the externals of admirals,--a certain
gruffness, &c., which in itself is much too superficial a trait to
include a personality.

"That I could say anything offensive to or of a service from which I
have received nothing but politeness and courtesy, and some of whose
members I regard as my closest and best friends, seems so impossible a
charge against me that I know not how to answer it. Indeed nothing is
left for me but a simple denial of intention. It then remains, perhaps,
to apologise for an expression which may be misapprehended. I do so just
as frankly. I think the men who so read me, read me _wrongfully_. No
matter; my fault it is that I should be open to such misconstruction,
and I ask to be forgiven for it.

"So much of reparation is in my power (if time permit), and I would ask
you to assist me to it--to omit the entire passage when you republish
the papers in a volume.

"Will you, in any form that you think best, convey the explanation and
the amends to the writer of the note you have enclosed?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Dec._ 4, 1866.

"I have just read the note you enclosed me calling my attention to my
having said that an admiral was a sort of 'human rhinoceros.' I beg to
recant the opinion, and when opportunity serves I will do so publicly,
and declare that I believe them to be the most thin-skinned of mortals,
otherwise there was nothing in the paragraph referred to which could
give the slightest offence.

"To impute a personality to it would be for the reader to attach the
passage to some one to whom he thought it applicable, if there be such.

     "When they mentioned vice or bribe,
     It's so pat to all the tribe,
     Each cried that was levelled at me.

"Now I had not the vaguest idea of a personality; I was simply
chronicling a sort of professional gruffness and mysteriousness,--both
admirable in the way of discipline, doubtless, but not so agreeable
socially as the gifts of younger and less responsible men.

"Omit the whole passage, however, when you republish the papers; and
accept my assurance that if ever I mention an admiral again, I will
insert the word 'bishop' in my MS., and only correct it with the proof.

"It is not easy to be serious in replying to such a charge of 'doing
something prejudicial to the service.' There is no accounting, however,
for phraseology, as Mr Carter called the loss of his right eye 'a
domestic calamity.'

"Once more, I never meant offence. I never went within a thousand miles
of a personality; and if ever I mention the sea-service again, I hope I
may be in it.

"P.S.--Make the fullest disclaimer on my part, if you can, to
the quarter whence came the letter, as to either offence or
personality,--but more particularly the latter. I am only sorry that the
letter, not being addressed to myself, does not enable me to reply to
the writer with this assurance."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, Dec. 7.

"Out of deference to my wife's opinion I wrote a mild disclaimer that
might satisfy Admiral Kellett as to my intentions, &c. I have, since I
wrote, heard confidentially that the Maltese authorities are trying
to bring the matter before F. O. Now I am resolved not to make a
very smallest submission, or even to go to the barest extent of an

"The only 'personality in the article was the reference to an admiral
that I respected and admired. I am perfectly ready to maintain that this
was not Admiral Kellett.

"If you like to forward my first note, do so, but on no account let the
civil one reach him. Indeed very little reconsideration showed me that
such an appeal as K.'s bespoke a consummate ass, and ought not to be
treated seriously. This will explain why I despatched a telegram to
you this morning to use the first, not the amended, letter. My first
thoughts are, I know, always my best.

"I shall be delighted if they make an F. O. affair of it: to have an
opportunity of telling the cadets there what I think of the 'Authority.'
and how much respect I attach to their 'opinion,' would cure me of the
attack that is now making my foot fizz with pain.

"I am annoyed with myself for being so much annoyed as all this; but
if you knew to what lengths I went to make these bluejackets enjoy
themselves,--what time, money, patience, pleasantry, and bitter beer
I spent in their service,--you would see that this sort of requital is
more than a mere worry."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Dec_. 1865.

"My wife is miserable at the sharp note I sent in reply to the
admiral. She says it was all wrong, "_because_, as I never did mean a
personality, I ought to have no hesitation in saying as much, &c, &c.

"In fact, she makes me send the enclosed, and ask you to forward it to
Kellett--that is, if _you_ agree with her. For myself, I own I am the
aggrieved party; I was d------d civil to the whole menagerie, rhinoceros
included. I half ruined myself in entertaining them, and now I am
rebuked for a little very mild pleasantry and very weak joking.

"What! is it because ye are bluejackets there shall be no more
'O'Dowds'? Ay, marry, and very hot ones too--and sharp in the mouth.

"All right as to the new tariff. It is a great [? nuisance] to me that
the public does not like its devilled kidneys in wholesale, but perhaps
we may make the palate yet: I'll try a little longer, at all events.
But if the Tories come in and make me a tide-waiter, I'll forswear
pen-and-ink and only write for 'The Hue and Cry.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Dec_. 11,1865.

"Your first objection to Cave's 'spoonyness'* I answer thus. Cave was
heartily ashamed of himself for having played at stakes far above his
means, and, like a man so overwhelmed, was ready to do, say, or approve
of anything in his confusion. I was drawing from life in this sketch.

     * In 'Sir Brook Fossbrooke.' of doctrine by the opposite
     poles--Exeter and Cashel, Colenso and Carlisle; but you
     will see that I never instanced these men, or any other
     individuals, as likely to offer their pulpits.

"2nd, Sewell's addressing the men in his town so carelessly. He
never saw them before; they came, hundreds, to see a race, and his
acquaintances and the public were so mingled. He addressed them with an
insolence not infrequent in Englishmen towards 'mere Irish,' and only
corrected himself when pulled up.

"I am deep in thinking over the story; and though I have not written a
line, I am _at it_ night and day." To Mr John Blackwood.

"Florence, _Dec_. 12,1865.

"I have just got your note. I need not say it has not given me pleasure,
for I really thought--so little are men judges of their own work--that
there were some of these O'Ds. equal to any I ever wrote. The paper that
requires either explanation or defence can't be good, and so I accept
the adverse verdict. I make no defence, but I must make explanation.

"In the 'Prof. Politeness' paper there is no personality whatever. I
simply expressed divergence.

"As to the practice, I have seen it over and over, and I can vouch for
it in hospitals, home and foreign, as well.

"I have expunged 'Times,' and made the word 'newspapers'; I have
cancelled 'C. Connellan' altogether. And now I trust your fear of
an action must be relieved,--though if Corney Connellan were to be
offended, I might really despair of a joke being well taken by any one."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Christmas Day._

"I send you a full measure of 'Sir B.' for next month, and despatch it
now, as I have only remained here to eat my Christmas dinner, and start
to-morrow for Spezzia, where I have some eight or ten days' work before

"I hope you will like the present 'envoy.' I have taken pains with the
dialogue, and made it as sharp and touchy as I could.

"There is, I hear, a compact _in petto_ between the Whigs and the Irish
by which all Irish Education is to be made over to the Church of Rome.
If so, a paper on the way in which countries, essentially Romish, reject
the priest's domination and provide against all subjugation to the
Church, might be well timed. It has only struck me this morning, but it
is worth you turning your mind to, especially if the papers were to be
ready and in print for the eventuality of the debate in Parliament, and
_debate there will be on the question_.

"I am not sure I could do such a paper, but I could be of use to any
one who could, and give him some valuable material, too, from Italian

"I do not know if my Belgium bit reached you in time, and our post is
now so irregular here I may not know for some days.

"I hear that the Government mean to hand over Eyre to the Radicals; and
though there is much in his case hard to defend, that the man did his
best in a great difficulty according to 'his lights' I am convinced.

"I have such a good story for you about Drummond Wolff _versus_
Bulwer,--but I can't write it. You shall hear it, however, when I come
over in spring, even if I go down to Edinburgh to tell it.

"A great many happy Christmases to you and all yours."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, Dec. 30, 1866.

"Your last pleasant note and its 'stuffing' has just reached me here,
where I am consularising, bullying Custom-house folk, and playing
the devil with all the authorities to show my activity in the public
service. I can't endure being away from home and my old routine life;
but there was no help for it, and I am here now for another week to

"The name I want for the author of Tony is 'Arthur Helsham,' the name
of my mother's family; and the last man who bore the aforesaid was the
stupidest blockhead of the house, and the luckiest too. _Faustum sit

"As to G. Berkeley's book, it is quite impossible to do anything at all
commensurate with so rascally a book. It is hopeless work trying to make
a sweep dirtier, and I agree with you--better not touch him."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Jan_. 3,1866.

"I came back from Spezzia this morning to find your pleasant letter
and its enclosure. I thank you much for both. I wanted the money not
a little, but half suspect I wanted the kind assurances of your
satisfaction just as much. I was not content with your opinion of the
last 'O'Dowds,' most probably from some lurking suspicion that you might
be right, and that they were not as good as they ought to be, or as I
meant them to be. Now I am easier on that score,--and since I have seen
them in print I am better pleased also.

"My Xmas was cut in two: I was obliged to go down to Spezzia the
day after Christmas Day and stay there ever since, idling, far from
pleasantly, and living at a bad inn somewhat dearer than the Burlington.
I could not write while there; but I have turned over a couple of
'O'Dowds' in my head, and if they be heavy don't print them, and I'll
not fret about it. It's not very easy, in a place like this, where
the only conversation is play or intrigue, to find matters of popular

"I often wish I could break new ground; but I'm too old, perhaps, to
transplant. But I'll not grumble now: it's Christmas, and I wish you and
all around you every happiness that Christmas should bring.

"I hope you like my last envoy of 'Sir B.' which I trust to see in proof
in a few days.

"I was half tempted to make an 'O'Dowd' on the recent installation of
a Knight of St Patrick, as described in an Irish paper: 'The mantle is
worn over one shoulder and falls gracefully on the ground, the legend
_Quis Separabit_ being inscribed on the decoration of the collar.'
What with the trailing garment, I was sorely tempted to translate Quis
Separabit 'Who'll tread on me?'

"I was right glad to read of Fergusson's honours. What a manly bold
letter that was of his about the Negro atrocities. I vow to God I have
not temper to write of them.

"I hear young Lytton is likely to lose his sight,--some terrible
inflammation of the iris, I believe, and it is feared must end in total

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Jan_. 5,1866.

"I am so 'shook' by a bad train and a [? wetting] that I can scarcely
hold a pen, and my head is still addled with the crash and reverberation
of big guns, for I have been 'assisting' at the trial of armour-plates,
with steel shot, for the Italian Navy,--though what they have to do with
the subject, seeing that they neither fire at the enemy or wait to be
fired at, is more than I know.

"Persano was so overcome by terror that he was literally carried down
the ladder to his gig, when he changed his flag to the _Affondatore_.
The _on dit_ is he will be dismissed from the service. Quite enough, God
knows, for any shortcoming; for bravery, after all, as Dogberry says of
reading and writing, is 'the gift of God.'

"We have had a sombre Xmas here: my wife very ill, and the rest of us
poorly enough.

"There is not a word of news. A small squabble with the Turks, who fired
at one of the ships, has made the Italians warlike once more, and they
are crying out, 'Hold me, for you know my temper!' But it will blow over
after some un-grammatical interchange of despatches, and be forgotten.

"Hardman was dining with me the other day, when an Italian admiral--the
ablest man they have--launched out fiercely against 'The Times' and its
Italian correspondent. The thing was too late for remedy, but Hardman's
good sense prevented further embarrassment."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Jan_. 7, 1866.

"I hope long ere this your face-ache has left you. I dread these
neuralgic things, having had one or two seizures of them: and they are
so infernally treacherous; they come back just when one is triumphing
over being rid of them.

"I send you some O'Ds. One, I hope, will please you--the 'Two
Rebellions.' I know you will go with me in the d------d cowardice of the
newspaper fellows talking to a man in a pinch and saying how he should
behave. I had one of these men out in my boat at Spezzia, and such
a pluckless hound I never saw, and yet if you read his Garibaldian
articles in the paper, you'd have thought him a paladin!

"I read this O'D. aloud here, and it was thought the best I had done for
some time. The 'Extradition' is not bad, the rest are so-so.

"You will see I am right in condemning the conduct of the Catholic party
about Fenianism, and also as to the intentions of the Government of
rewarding their loyalty! It will be a great parliamentary fight, and my
paper will be well timed.

"Is Mrs Blackwood coming to town this spring? I'd like to think we could
see the Burlington repeat itself, and be as jolly as it was last year.
It did me a world of good as to spirits and courage that trip, though it
made a hole in my time--and my pocket.

"I am afraid I must go down to Spezzia again, and for a week too. The
cares of office are heavy, and I am afraid I serve a country ungrateful
enough not to appreciate me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Jan_. 20, 1866.

"I have been obliged to put off Spezzia till the 20th, but shall have
to pass a week or ten days there _then_. Meanwhile I am at work thinking
over (not writing) 'Sir Brook.' I want to do the thing well, but I have
not yet got the stick by the handle.

"From what I can pick up from those who read O'D., no paper ought to
have more than one joke. One plum to a pudding is the English taste.
All the rest must be what the doctors call 'vehicle,' and drollery be
administered in drop doses. Of course I get public opinion in a very
diluted form here,--but such is the strength in which it reaches me.

"Robt. Lytton is better,--one eye safe, and hopes of the other. Have you
heard that Oliphant has been dangerously ill, at N. York?--a menace
of softening of the brain having declared itself, and of course such a
malady is never a mere threat. I am sincerely sorry for him, and so will
you be.

"My trip to town will depend on the events in the House. If our friends
come in I will certainly go over. Tell Mrs Blackwood to read O'Dowd on
'Thrift ': she will see that there are certain people it will never do

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Feb_. 3, 1866.

"If what I hear be true, our friends have made a precious 'fiasco' of it
in their game of politics. They have so palpably shown Lord Russell all
the weak points of his Bill--every damaging ingredient in it--that he
has deliberately changed the whole structure, enlarged its provisions,
and made it (appear at least) such a measure as may settle the question
of Reform for some years to come. It is so like the Conservatives! They
certainly are more deficient in the skill required to manage a party
than any section in the House. Why, in Heaven's name, show their hand?
and above all, why show it before the trump-card was turned? If their
cause were twice as good as it is, and if the men who sustain it
were fourfold as able, the press of the Party would reduce it to
insignificance and contempt. Never was such advocacy in the world as
'The Herald' and 'Standard.'

"A few days ago, and even his own papers declared Lord R. was rushing
to his ruin; but the Conservatives cried out 'Take care!' and he has
listened to the warning. A mere franchise reform must have inevitably
wrecked him. The very carrying it would have been a success that must
have been worse than any defeat. I don't think that men so inept as the
Tories deserve power, and I'm sure they could not retain it if they got

"I hear Mill was a failure, and I own I'm not sorry. I hate the men he
belongs to, either in letters or politics. Bright was certainly good.
It was Bow-wow! but still a very good Bow-wow!--better than the polished
platitudes of Gladstone, which the world accepts as philosophy.

"But confound their politics. I send you 'B. F.,' and I send it early,
because I want the proof back as soon as you can. I am going to idle,
but whether at Rome or across to Sardinia, or only over to Elba, I have
not decided. I am hipped and want some change,--the real malady being
I'm growing old, and don't like it, and revenge my own stupidity by
thinking the people I meet insupportably dull and tiresome."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Feb_. 6, 1866.

"I begin a short note to you now that I have just got back, full sure
that I shall have to acknowledge one from you before I finish.

"I am glad to see 'The Times' extract largely from the 'Two Rebellions.'
The Jamaica affair, I hear, will be the _acrimonious_ fight of the
session. What I am told is that the country will stand at present no
Ministry of which Gladstone is not a part, and that if Lord R. goes (as
he may), it must be some patchwork of Stanley, Gladstone, and some
mild members of the Conservative party. One thing I am _assured_ is
certain,--Gladstone is far less liberal than he was.

"I own I am more puzzled than enlightened by all this, but I give it as
I get it.

"Jamaica is a bad business. Had they lynched Gordon it would have been
all right; but the mock justice was dreadful! Besides, it really pushes
High Churchism too far to hang a man because he has not attended a

"The post is in, and no letter from you. No matter! I meant to idle
to-day; and so I'll stroll into Florence and gossip at the Legation,
where I can post you the three 'O'Dowds' I have done for next month,--a
short paper, but perhaps long enough. I wrote 'The Tiger' under the
infliction of a d------d old Indian, who'll kill _me_ if this paper
doesn't kill _him_.

"Do you know anything of a new magazine which Cholmondeley Pennell is
going to edit? Bulwer and Browning are, I believe, in his interest. He
writes me a long yarn about it, but I think he has too many poets on his
list for success.

"It struck me last night what a good _Noctes_ might be made out of your
corps,--with Lytton, Hamley, Oliphant, and O'Dowd all talking after
their several ways. Wouldn't it be a rare bit of fun?

"A millionaire countryman of yours has actually beggared me at whist,
and the d------d ass can't play at all."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _March_ 10,1866.

"I have corrected this without my wife's aid, for she is too weak and
poorly to help me, and it will require careful looking over. I am glad
you like it; I rather think well of it on re-reading.

"I believe my holiday is knocked up, and a chance of O'Dowding the
Pope to be deferred, for I must hasten off to Spezzia to meet a Royal
Commission on the Arsenal. I hope I may have the O'D. proof before I go,
as I may be detained a week.

"Have you any weekly ('Saturday Review,' 'Examiner,' Spectator,' or
other) that has literary news, reviews, &c. disposable? if so, and
perfectly convenient, send it to me occasionally, for I get too much
'bent' in politics,--_malgré moi._

"I really would rather be porter to the House than a lord-in-waiting."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _March_ 14, 1866.

"A patchwork quilt is cakes and gingerbread compared to this blessed
proof, but I'm in and out a Georges Dandin! You said, and said truly,
that the sketch of the House was meagre, and I have dilated--I hope not
diluted--it; but my writing is open to that rendering.

"I have made the 'Fenian Pest' also a little fatter. Will you try and
see that the slips come on at their proper places.

"I am not well. It may be gout, it may be fifty things, but it _feels_
d------ly like breaking up. I ought to be at Spezzia, but I am so out
of sorts that I don't like leaving home. After all, I have no right to
complain. I have been a good many years in commission, and never docked
yet for repairs!

"Dizzy is going to let Gladstone have a walk over for the first racing,
but I suspect that the real jockeyship will be to make the first and
last heats the race."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _March_ 26, 1866.

"It is only to-day that I feel able to write a line and thank you. Your
letter and cheque reached me two days ago, but I did not like to make my
daughter write to you lest you should feel alarmed at it.

"I am a little better,--I am, that is to say, in less pain, but very
weak and low. I believe I shall rub through it, but it must be a close
thing. It was, after all, only what Curran called 'a runaway knock.' but
it sounded wonderfully as if I was wanted.

"They don't talk any more of knife-work, and, so far, I am easier in
mind; but my nerves are so shaken by pain and bad nights that whatever
promised relief would be welcome.

"I have two chaps, of 'Sir B.' ready, but perhaps next week--I hope
so--I will be able to go on. It would be a comfort to me to be at work."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _April_ 5,1866.

"I send you enough to make the May 'Sir Brook,'--at least it will be
wellnigh a sheet. I am gaining, but slowly. My debility is excessive,
partly from all the blood I have lost; but my head is free, and I think
I could work better than usual if I had the strength for it.

"All my thanks for your kindest of notes and the O'D. enclosure. I could
not acknowledge them earlier, for I kept all my pen-power for the story.
Try and let me have it back soon; and, meanwhile, I mean to change the
air and go to Carrara. The doctors think that I must have patience,
and abstain from all treatment for a while. It is evidently as hard to
launch me (into the next world) as to get the _Northumberland_ afloat. I
stick on the 'ways,' and the best they can say of me is that I have, up
to this, received 'no fatal damage.'

"I wish I was near enough to talk to you: my spirits are not bad, and
when out of pain I enjoy myself much as usual.

"What a fiasco the Derby party are making of the situation! At a time
when it is all-important to conciliate the outlaying men of all parties
they single them out for attack, as [? for example] Whiteside's stupid
raid against Sir Robert Peel for the escape of Stephens. There never
was a party in which the man-of-the-world element was so lamentably

"After all, it is a party without a policy, and they have to play the
game like the fellows one sees punting at Baden, who, when they win a
Louis, change it at once and go off to the silver table."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _April_ 16,1866.

"It was a great relief to my mind to know that 'Sir B.' was up to the
mark, as your note tells me, for I felt so shaken by illness that very
little would have persuaded me the whole craft was going to pieces; and
all they said to me _here_ I took as mere encouragement, though, sooth
to say, my home critics do not usually spoil me by flatteries. I am
better, but not on the right road somehow. I am deplorably weak, and my
choice seems to be between debility and delirium tremens, for to keep up
my strength I drink claret all day long.

"How the Conservatives must have misplayed the game! To show the
Ministry the road out of the blunder was as stupid a move as ever was
made, and yet it is what they have done. They ought, besides, to have
widened their basis at once by making Lord Stanley a _pont du diable_ to
reach Lowe and Horsman. There is a current hypocrisy in English public
opinion--about admitting new men--sharing the sweets of office and such
like. Why not cultivate it?

"From men who ought to know, I am told war is _certain_ between Prussia
and Austria.

"There is a rumour here that Italy offered terms to Austria for the
cession of Venice, even to the extent of troops! It is hard to believe
it. The Austrian alliance, if it were possible, would be the crowning
policy of Italy and the only barrier against France; but national
antipathies are hard to deal with, and here they are positively

_To Dr Burbidge_

"Florence, _Friday, April_ 1866.

"My thanks for your most kind note. My attack was only a 'runaway
knock' after all I believe when the _pallida mors_ does come, he gives a
summons that there's no mistaking. But I was only ill enough to suggest
to _myself_ the way by which I might become worse, and now it's all

"I cannot make up my mind about the house till I go down and see in what
state I receive it. There is, I suspect, _very_ little furniture; but I
mean to see, and decide soon, if I can. I assure you I look on £90 for
a very poor quarter in a very poor place as a large rent, though you do
persist in knocking my head off on account of my extravagance, which is
a mere tradition, and you might as well bring up against me my idleness
at school. The worst is, I used formerly to make money as easily as I
spent it. I now find a great disinclination to work--that is, I am well
aware, an expression for a disability."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Casa Capponi, Florence, _Thursday, May_ 1866.

"By a telegram from Sanders, received too late to reply to by post
yesterday, I learned that our funds had amounted to sixty-five pounds,
and I accordingly wrote to 'My Lord' to state as much, and also that the
congregation, alike in grateful recognition of the gratuitously afforded
services of Doctor Burbidge, as in the very fullest desire to secure his
services, had appointed him to the chaplaincy,--a nomination which, in
the event of any subsidy from the F. Office, they earnestly hoped his
lordship would confirm.

"I believe I said it in rather choice phrase, but that was the
substance, and I am very hopeful that he will do all that we ask.

"My wife had another attack of the _rigor_ and fever yesterday, and
Wilson apprehends some tertian character has inserted itself into the
former illness. She is very ill indeed, so much so that although my
married daughter is confined to bed and seriously ill at a hotel only a
few hundred yards off, Julia cannot leave the house to see her. You see
how impossible it would be for me to be away.

"I write very hurriedly, but I wished you to know that all, so far as we
can do it, is now done, and if F. O. will only be as gracious as I hope,
we shall have accomplished our great wish, and the Spezzia chaplaincy be
a fact."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _May_ 2, 1866.

"Herewith goes the next 'Sir B.' I was very glad indeed to get your last
few lines, for I am low, low! I can't pick up, somehow. But I don't want
to bore you with myself or _mes maux_.

"So they won't resign! I think, on the whole, it's as well,--I mean,
that seeing what sort of composite thing a new Government must be, and
how the Whigs have been beaten by a 'byblow'--not in a fair fight by the
regular Opposition,--it's better to wait and see.

"Here we are going to war and to bankruptcy together. The only question
is, Which will be first? That infernal knave L. Nap. has done it all,
and the Italians are always cheated by him through thinking that they
are greater cheats than himself. But an old boatman of mine at Spezzia
said, 'There are three _nations_ that would out-rogue the devil,--the
Calibrese, the Corsicans, and the _Pigs_.' How the last came to their
nationality I can't explain.

"You have seen notice of the Bishop of Limerick's death. I don't think
he has, in one respect, left his equal behind him in the Irish Bench. He
was the most thoroughly tolerant man I ever knew, and half a dozen men
like him would do more to neutralise the acrimony of public feeling
in Ireland than all the Acts of Parliament. His intellect was just as
genial as his heart."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _May_ 15, 1866.

"I wish I could pack myself up in the envelope that holds this and join
you at breakfast in that pleasant parlour in the Old Burlington, where
we laughed so much last spring; but there are good reasons for not
saluting the General, beginning with the small one, 'no powder.'

"Here we are in ruin. Gold and silver are all withdrawn from
circulation, and the small notes promised by the Government delayed in
issue to enable a set of scoundrelly officials to sell the reserve gold
at 10 per cent and silver at 12. The banks will not discount, nor will
they advance (the latter of most moment to _me_), and we are in all
the pains of bankruptcy without that protection which a prison affords
against dunning.

"I sent off 'Sir B.' proof to-day to W. B. I am sincerely glad you like

"I make no way towards strength or spirits. I believe with _me_ they
mean the same thing.

"If we have no war, we shall have a revolution here. All the good powder
will not be wasted!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _June_ 11,1866.

"Is it ignorant or wilful stupidity in the English papers that ignores
the part L. Nap. is playing in the foreign imbroglio? It is one or the
other. The whole machinery is his; and the very hot enthusiasm we see
here was first excited by P. Napoleon's visit and the encouragement the
'Reds' got from him.

"If Elliot were worth a sou, England would have been able to avert the
war. There was one moment in which Austria would have listened, _if only
warned of the treachery_ planned against her. Hudson would have been the
man here.

"Don't send me any bill or cheque, for we are deluged with paper money
here, and are obliged to pay from 5 to 8 per cent to change large notes
into small. Even the 100-f. note costs this. I must try and get money
out in gold (Naps., not sovereigns) through F. O. Any of the messengers
will take it. Could you find out for me if it would be more profitable
to buy Naps, in London, or change notes or sovereigns for them in Paris?
Already this new form of robbery is half ruining us all here.

"I have been living on loans from my wife for six months, and she has at
last stopped the supplies, though I have willingly offered to raise the
rate of interest. Perhaps she suspects I shall not be able to raise the

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, _June_ 15, 1866.

"Here I am at my post. Spezzia is about to receive a new accession of
greatness and become the station for transmitting the post to England
and France, as the Bologna line will have to be given up entirely to the
army to advance or retreat on, as events may determine.

"I have been three days here. I am the only _stranger_ (!) in the place.
All the hotels empty, and I have the Gulf to my own swimming.

"There's a pretty little girl, a granddaughter of Lord Byron, here--Lady
Arabella Nash--on a visit to the Somervilles.

("By the way, has granddaughter two d's or one? I have left it both ways
in the proof which I send you by this post.)

"I wish I could get a house down here, and retire from the pomps and
short whists of life, the odd tricks and all the honours!

"There is one--only one; but the scoundrel asks me an iniquitous rent.
He knows, Italian like, that I have a fancy for it, and he'll keep it
unlet to torture me.

"I shall be back in time for the O'D. proof (if it should be sent out),
and you shall have it by return.

"One comfort--at least we are promised it--of the new postal line will
be an express train down here, for at present the railroad is only
something above a fast walking pace, and the cabs at the station always
announce to the late arrivals that they can overtake the train at will.

"Do you believe in war yet? And how long do you believe you can keep out
of it? The French Emperor's real reluctance is not knowing what England
might do with a change of Government, what Tory counsels might advise,
and what possible alliance with Russia might ensue if it was once
clearly seen what the aggressive designs of France meant. Many here
assert (and not fools either) that L. Nap. has decided on taking the old
'Cisalpine Gaul' (with Turin, &c.)."

_To Mr Alexander Spencer._

"Florence [or Spezzia], _June 17_,1866.

"I am in the midst of great difficulties. Chapman & Hall, after years
of intercourse, have shown the cloven foot, and are displaying [tactics]
which, if successful, will wrest from me all my copyrights and leave me
ruined. The story is long and intricate, nor could I at all events bore
you with a recital which nothing but time, temper, and good management
may conduct to a good result. My present anxiety is [to know] if [ ]
remitted to you £60 to go towards the insurances. He says he did, but he
is well capable of deceiving me. I had half a mind to go over to
England the other day and put the affair into a lawyer's hands, but my
difficulty was to know how, having begun such litigation, I was to bear
its charges and at the same time earn my daily bread.

"Fred Chapman is now here, having come out to induce me to give him
an assignment of all my copyrights as security for a debt they claim
against me of £2500, but which I utterly deny and dispute.

"Drop me one line to say if the £60 has reached you.

"How are you all, and how does time treat you? I am growing terribly
old--older than I ever thought or feared I should feel myself. Does my
last book please you? Some of my critics call it my best; but I have
lost faith in them as in myself, and I write as I live--from hand to

"My poor old friend James has just died at Venice, an utter break-up of
mind having preceded the end."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 24, 1866.

"I see by the telegram that the Whigs have resigned, and it is [Lord
Dunkellin's] jaw-bone has slain the giant. Oh dear, do you know him? He
dined here with us some short time ago, with Gregory and some others,
and we thought him the poorest thing of the lot.

"I have great doubts that our people can form an Administration. They
have the cane too, it is true, to help them; but they may have to give
all the plums to their supporters, and their old friends won't like
eating the 'dough' for _their_ share of the pudding.

"Worse than this is the miserable press of the Party. Can't men see that
the whole tone of public opinion in England has taken the Italian side
of the Venetian question? There is no longer a right and wrong in these
things when sympathies--and something stronger than sympathies--come in;
and the stupid 'Standard' goes on raving about treaties scarcely a rag
of which remain, and which every congress we have held since '13 has
only demolished some part of. If Austria be wise and fortunate she will
take Silesia and make peace with Italy, ceding Venice. What every one
wants is securities against France; but we have converted the brigand
into a sheriffs officer, and thrown an air of legality over all his

"That Europe endures the insolence of his late letter is the surest
evidence of the miserable cowardice of the age.

"The scene of the king's departure here was very touching. He left at 3
o'clock on Monday, just as day was breaking, but the whole city was
up and in the streets to take leave of him. All the ladies in their
carriages, and the great squares crammed as I never saw them on Monday.
The king was so moved that he could not speak, and the enthusiasm was
really overwhelming. If this army gets a first success it will dash on
gallantly and do well; if it be repulsed----

"Should the Conservatives come in, will they have the wit to offer the
mission here to Hudson? It would do more for them as a party than forty
votes in the House. It would stop at once the lurking suspicion as to
their retrograde tendencies in Italy, on which Palmerston taunted them,
and by which he kept them out of office for years.

"I own I have no confidence in the world-wisdom of Conservatives. They
know the Carlton, and they know, not thoroughly but a good deal of, the
'House'; but of Englishmen at large and the nation,--of what moderate,
commonplace, fairly educated and hard-headed people say and think,--they
know nothing. But one has only to look at them to see that they
represent idiosyncrasies, not classes. Lytton and Disraeli are only
types of two families.

"How well the Yankees have behaved in this Fenian brawl! Let us not be
slow to acknowledge it. If I were a man in station I would say, now is
the time to pay all Alabama claims, and not higgle whether we owe them
or not. Now is the moment not to be outdone in generosity, but say let
us have done once and for ever with this miserable bickering--let us
criticise each other frankly and fairly, but in the spirit of men who
wish each other well. As for _us_, we want one ally who will really
understand _us_, and if we could once get the Yankee to see that we meant
to be civil to him, we _might_ make a foundation for a friendship that
would serve us in our day of need.

"We are actually deluged now with war correspondents--'Times,' 'Post,'
'Telegraph,' 'D. News,' &c. By the way, what a series might be made of
M'Caskey's advices for the war: insolent braggart notices of what was
and what ought to have been done, &c. I thought of it yesterday when I
had a lot of these war Christians at dinner.

"Only think, there is a Queen's messenger called Nigor Hall (Byng Hall,
or, as the Frenchmen call him, 'Bunghole') who, criticising Tony Butler,
said I had made a gross blunder in making him lose his despatches. Now
the same B. H. has just lost the whole Constantinople bag on arriving
at Marseilles, and Louis Nap. is diligently conning over Lyons' last
missives to F. O. and seeing what game we are 'trying on' to detach
Russia from France.

"P.S.--I send an instalment of 'Sir B.' and let me have it early, as I
am drawing towards the 'Tattenham corner of the race.' I want to see how
it looks. Read it carefully, and give me your shrewdest criticism.

"I have just heard that there is a plot here to carry off Cook's
excursionists for ransom by the brigands. What a good 'O'Dowd' it would
make to warn them!

"The first shot is to be fired by the Italians tomorrow, the anniversary
of 'St Martin's,' which they think they won!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 28, [1866].

"I begin this at midnight, the first cool moment of the twenty-four
hours, to finish to-morrow some time before post hour. I see that you
have learned our disaster here already--a sore blow, too, to a young
army: but _que voulez-vous?_ La Marmora is an ass, with a small head and
a large face like Packington. You might make a first lord of him,
but never a general. The attack of the first division had never been
intended to do more than draw out the Austrians and encourage the belief
that the _grand_ attack was to follow: meanwhile Cialdini was to have
crossed the Po and moved on Rovigo. The blundering generals made a real
movement of it, and got a real thrashing for their pains. The division
was all but cut to pieces. They fought well--there's no doubt of it;
they even bore beating, which is more than one would have said of them.
The king was twice surrounded and all but made prisoner, and the princes
behaved splendidly.

"It is a great misfortune that they should have met a repulse at first.
I say this because they _must_ have Venice, and I think the great thing
is that they should have it without French intervention. I hope if the
Conservatives come in that they will see this, and see that Italy
cannot go back without being a French province. If we have a policy
at all,--sometimes I doubt it,--it is to prevent or _delay_ French
aggrandisement. That stupid bosh of volunteer soldiering has so
bemuddled English brains that they fancy we have an army. Why, a
costermonger with his donkey might as well talk of his 'steed.' I
wouldn't say this to a foreigner, nor let them say it to _me_, but it's
true. If we could patch up the Italian quarrel and get Venice for them,
and arrange an alliance between Italy and Austria, we should do more
than by following the lead of Louis Napoleon and playing 'cad' to him
through Europe.

"Are the Derbys really coming in? Who will be F. Secretary? I was going
to say, 'Who wants me?'

"I was thinking of keeping a running comment on the war in 'O'Dowd,'
the events jotted as they occurred, with such remarks as suggested
themselves--a hotch-potch of war, morals, politics, &c. What think you?
Of course, with a certain seriousness; it is no joking matter, in any
view one takes of it.

"What a wonderful book 'Felix Holt' is! I read much of it twice over,
some of it three times, and throughout there is a restrained power--a
latent heat--far greater than anything developed. She at least suggests
to _me_ that her _dernier mot_ is not there on _anything_. It is not a
pleasant book as to the effect on the mind when finished; but you cannot
forget it, and you cannot take up another after it. It is years since
anything I read has taken the same hold upon me.

"Here has just come news that General Chiera has been shot by
court-martial for treason, having betrayed the Italian plans to the
Austrians. What next? The Neapolitans have earned a dark fame for
themselves in all their late history. I don't know yet if the story is

"I have little confidence in the Tories' hold of office, and I have less
still that they will do anything for me, though there is scarcely a man
of the Party who has not given me pledges or assurances of remembrance.

"Malmesbury will, I hear, go to Ireland, and he will _do_ there.
There is not a people in the world who can vie with the Irish in their
indifference to _real_ benefits, and their intense delight in _mock_
ones! When will you Saxons learn how to govern Ireland? When you want
a treaty with King Hoolamaldla in Africa, you approach him not with
a tariff and a code of reduced duties, but with strings of beads,
bell-wire, and brass buttons, and why won't you see that Ireland can be
had by something cheaper than Acts of Parliament!

"And my old friend Whiteside is to [be] Chief-Justice if Baron Lendrick
(I mean Lefroy) will consent to retire! It is a grand comment on our
judicial system, that when a man is too old for public life he is always
young enough for the Bench.

"They once thought of putting me forward for Trinity Col. If I were ten
years younger and ten pounds richer, I'd like to try my chance. I
think I could do the light-comedy line in the House better than Bernai
Osborne, and I'd like to _say_, before I die, some of the things that I
now can only write."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 2,1866.

"This Italian defeat was even worse than we thought it: the loss of men
was tremendous, and a great number of officers were killed. Of course
there are all sorts of stories of treason, treachery, &c,--nothing
Italian ever happens without these; but I believe the whole mishap was
bad generalship, a rash over-confidence, and a proportionate contempt
for the Austrians, whom they believed to be all inferior troops, the
best being sent to the north under Benedek.

"You are not likely to have any very accurate information in England, as
La Marmora positively refuses to permit newspaper writers to accompany
the army; and Hardman, though known to him, fares no better than the

"I have learned, from what I know to be a good source of information,
that the French mean to come in at once if the next battle be
unfavourable to the Italians. This is the worst thing that can happen.
It seals the vassalage of this people to France, and places the question
of Rome and the Pope for ever out of Italian hands and in those of their
'magnanimous ally,' whom may God confound! Ricasoli sees this plainly
enough; but what can he do, or where turn him for aid?

"And so Lord Stanley's in F. O.! I suspect he knows very little of the
Continent,--but it matters little. The limits of 'English policy' are
fixed by the homilies of the Church, and we are to hope and pray, &c.,
and to get any one who likes it to believe it signifies what we do.
We hear here of a great Prussian victory over Benedek: I hope it's not
true. These Prussians, in their boastful audacity, coarse pretension,
and vulgar self-sufficiency, are the Yankees of Europe, and, if they
have a success, will be unendurable.

"I am sorry for the fate of the 'Reform' O'Dowd. I have begun one about
the war here, and agree with you it is a theme to be _grave_ upon.
Indeed, I think any unseasonable levity would utterly spoil the spirit
of these papers, and being separated, as they are, under various
headings, it is always easy to give the proper tint and colour to each.

"Lowe ought to have the Colonies, not Lytton. _He_ knows the subject
well, and has infinitely more House of Commons stuff in him than the
bewigged old dandy of Knebworth. If Lord Derby gives all the 'plums' to
the Tories, the Administration will fall; and Naas, as Irish Secretary,
is another blunder. Where are the '_under_' Sees, to be found? I
fear that the Cabinet, like the army, will be a failure for want of
non-commissioned officers. Serjeant Fitzgerald is not in the House,
and a great loss he is. Gregory would not ill replace him, and the
opportunity to filch votes from the other side by office should not be
lost sight of. It can be done _now_. It will be impossible later on.

"Of all the things the Party want, there is nothing they need like a
press. I think that the advocacy of 'The Standard' would actually put
Heaven in jeopardy, and 'The Herald' seems a cross between Cassandra and
Moore's Prophetic Almanac."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 12, 1866.

"I am rather eagerly--half-impatiently--looking out for O'D. in proof,
and some tidings from yourself in criticism. I have gone over 'Sir B.,'
and send it off corrected by this post. I more than suspect that I think
it better than you do, or rather, that I think it is better than some
parts you approved more of; but it's no new error of mine to find good
in things of my writing that nobody but myself has ever discovered. With
respect to the present part, I think probably it is too long for
one paper, and might advantageously stop at chap, xx., leaving the
'Starlight' to begin Sept. No.

"If you agree with me, it will save me writing so much in this great
heat (the thermometer is now 94° in my room), and I shall be free to
watch the war notes.

"I want money, but don't cross your bill to Magnay for two reasons. I
_might_ get better exchange elsewhere; and second, I have overdrawn him
damnably, and he might be indelicate enough to expect payment.

"I hope the Party mean to do somewhat for me. It's an infernal shame to
see Earle in the list and me--nowhere. For thirty years I have done them
good service in novels and other ways, and they have given me what an
under butler might hesitate over accepting."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 16, 1866.

"I send you by this post the corrected proof of O'D. and a portion to
add to the war notes. It's ticklish work prophesying nowadays; but so
far as I can see, the imbroglio with France promises to become serious.
We hear here that a strong fleet is at Toulon ready to sail for the
Adriatic, and coupling this with the flat refusal of the Prince Napoleon
to interfere (he being intensely Italian in his leanings), one may see
that the French policy will not be over regardful of the feelings of
this people. Genoa is being armed in haste, the sea-forts all munitioned
and mounted with heavy guns; and as these cannot be intended against
Austria, it is pretty clear that at last the Italians mean to strike
a _real_ blow for freedom. Spezzia, too, is arming, and the inaction
heretofore observable in the Italian fleet may not improbably be
ascribed to the fact that tougher work is before them than a petty fight
with the Austrian flotilla. The Italians have fourteen ironclads, some
of them really splendid ships, and one, the _Affondatore_, lately built
in England, the equal of almost any afloat. They are well armed and
well manned; and though I don't think they could _beat_ the French, they
could make a strong fight against the _French Mediterranean squadron_,
and would, I am sure, not bring discredit on their service. I am
sure the 'country'--I mean the people of England--would go with the
Government that would succour a young nation struggling to assert its
liberty. I do not mean that we should rashly proclaim war, but simply
show that the national sympathy of England was opposed to all coercion
of Italy and averse to seeing the Peninsula a French province. I feel
certain Louis Napoleon would listen to such remonstrances coming from
a _Conservative_ Cabinet, where 'meddling and muddling' were not

"The Emperor counts so completely on English inaction that the mere show
of a determined policy would arrest his steps. The complexity of the
game increases every hour, and any great battle fought in Germany may
decide the fate of Italy.

"You will see how my first part of O'D. predicted the cession of Venice.
I am rather proud of my foresight.

"There is great dissatisfaction here felt about the inaction of the
Italian fleet. Some allege they want coals, some say courage. I don't
believe either: I think they were sent off so undisciplined and so
hastily 'conscripted,' they are mobs and not crews.

"P. S.--I only wanted to say, not to be afraid of my anti-Napism. I am
sure I have the right measure of the man, and I am sure that when Lord
Palmerston called him 'a d------d scoundrel,' he said what Lord Derby
thinks, and what almost every man of the same station in England feels
about him. When the day comes that he will turn upon us, there will be
no surprise felt whatever by the great number of _statesmen_ in England.

"What of my Yankee paper? It was so _well-timed_, I'm sorry it should be

"What a fiasco the Garibaldians have made of it! They are drunk all day,
and it is next to impossible to get them under fire. Poor old Garibaldi
is half heartbroken at the inglorious ending of his great career, and no
fault of his. For the nation at large it is perhaps the best thing
that could happen. Democracy cannot now go on asserting its monopoly of

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 18, 1866.

"Our post is so very irregular now that your letter--13th--which should
have been with me yesterday, only reached to-day.

"I don't think I am wrong as to Louis Nap. The immense preponderance in
Europe that will accrue to Prussia after this war will be heavily felt
by him,--for, after all, he has no other hold on Frenchmen than the
supremacy he has obtained for France on the Continent.

"I am ashamed to find Lord Stanley falling into the Whig cant about our
'faithful ally,' &c. Why, the whole world knows that he first traded on
the English alliance, and, once assured of her own safety, has spared no
means to depreciate English power and disparage her influence in Europe.

"Lord Derby spoke more truthfully and more boldly when he disclaimed all
over-close alliance with any nation of Europe, but friendship and good
relations with all. The _point_ of the speech was aimed at France.

"What the French Emperor wanted to do was to employ Plonplon to mediate
between himself and Italy, so that, while seeming to France to be the
Great Disposer of Continental destinies, he should not so far insult
Italy as to stimulate another Orsini. Plonplon refused: he too aspires
to Italian popularity, and is a d------d coward besides. He declined the
Italian commission, and would not leave Paris. The Emperor has scores of
agents here. Pepoli (step-father of the Hohenzollern hospodar) is always
on the watch for him, and keeps him warned, and he has now shown him
the necessity of great caution, so that his next move will be well
considered before taken.

"The Emperor has never outgrown the Carbonari. Talking of outgrowing,
what rot was that of Dizzy's to say England had outgrown the Continent,
and hence her grand pacific policy, &c, &c.? If so, why at the
instigation of the Continent order 100,000 breechloaders? This was
talk for a few old ladies at a social science tea,--not language to be
listened to by the world at large.

"How much less adroit was Dizzy, too, than Lord Derby at 'reform.' The
plain assertion that it was a measure only to be approached after due
and weighty consideration was enough; but Dizzy must go on to say why,
if they should touch it, they were the best of all possible reformers.
The palpable want of tact reveals in this man how the absence of the
true 'gentleman element' can spoil a great intellect.

"And, since I sent off my O'D. on 'The American Alliance,' I have read
Lord Derby's speech, full of complimentary things to the Yankees and
plainly indicating the wish to draw closer to them. I think my paper
will be well-timed--that is, if it has reached you, for I despatched it
ten days ago by F. O., and have heard nothing of it since.

"I cannot write to Bulwer, nor indeed to any one, about myself. Three or
four of the present Cabinet know me well enough, and what I'm good for;
and if they do not improve the acquaintance, it is because they don't
want me.

"I own to you I think it hard--d------d hard; but I have grown so used
to see myself passed by donkeys, that I begin to think it is the natural
thing. If I were not old and pen-weary, with paroxysms of stupidity
recurring oftener than is pleasant, and a growing sense besides that
these disconnected links of muddle-headedness will one day join and
become a chain of downright feebleness,--if not for all this, I say,
'I'd pitch my blind gods to the devil' (meaning Ministers and Sees. of
State), and take my stand by the broadsheet, and trust to my head and my
hands to take care of me.

"I like Lord Derby's allusion to Ireland. Let him only discard the
regular traders on party,--disconnect himself with the clique who, so to
say, farmed out Ireland for the benefit of a party,--and he has a better
chance of _governing the country_--I mean real government--than any of
his predecessors.

"Spenser ('Fairy Queen' Spenser) once said, 'No people love Justice more
than your Irish.' Probably because it was always a rarity. If Lord D.
will ignore religious differences,--not ask more than each man's fitness
for office, and appoint him,--he will do much towards breaking down that
terrible barrier that now separates the two creeds in the island.

"It is lucky for you that I'm at the end of my paper, or you were 'in'
for a 'sixteenthly.' But, oh where, and oh where, is my Yankee paper
gone? I want the sheets of 'Sir B.' collectively from the part where the
last missive ended. I am re-reading and pondering.

"I half suspect my old friend Whiteside must be in some tiff with the
Cabinet. He has not resigned, and yet men are canvassing for his
seat for the University. It all looks very odd. It may be that he is
bargaining for the Chancellorship, which he is certainly _not_ fit for.
I might as well ask to be Mistress of the Robes,--and old Lefroy will
not resign unless his son be promoted to the Bench! And this is the man
they accuse of senility and weak intellect!

"How like flunkies, after all, are these great gentlemen when it
becomes a question of place. There is a dash of 'Jeames' through Cabinet
appointments positively frightful.

"Wasn't it cunning to send Garibaldi where he could do nothing? It was
the way they muzzle a troublesome man in the House by putting him on a
committee. He (G.) grumbles sorely, says he ought to be in Istria, &c.;
but there is always the _dessous des cartes_ in this war, and France has
had to be consulted or conciliated everywhere."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Villa Morelli, _July_ 21, 1866.

"I take shame to myself for not having sooner replied to your kindest of
notes and thanked you for all your trouble at Malta; but first of all I
was obliged to go to Spezzia, and then came the wondrous turn-out of
the Whigs, which has kept me in close correspondence with scores of
people,--no other good result, however, having come of the advent of my
friends to power.

"Malta, at all events, is out of the question; for though they have got
no further than civil messages to me, common report (a common liar, says
Figaro) says that I _ought_ to get something.

"The war absorbs fortunately thoughts that might under other
circumstances have taken a more personal turn, and the war resolves
itself pretty much into what that arch scoundrel, L. N., may do next.
For the moment he is all but stalemated--that is, he can scarcely move
without a check. If he aid Prussia, it will be to strengthen the great
Germany that he dreads, and aggrandise the Power that threatens to be
more than his rival. If he assist Austria, it is to throw off Italy and
undo the past. If he remain neutral, it is to let France subside into
the position of seeing Europe able to do without her.

"The armed intervention which he desired with us and Russia we will have
none of. He is, as Bright said of somebody the other day, 'a bad fellow
to hunt a tiger with.'

"Now, Prussia was so manifestly in the wrong at first, and had contrived
to be so unpopular with us besides, and Bismarck's views were so
palpably false and tricky, he could have no sympathy with us at
all,--and yet success (that dear idol of Englishmen) has done fully as
much as the best principles and the purest ambition could, and we are
rapidly becoming Prussian.

"I own that I am extremely Prussian. I see no hope of any barrier
against France but a strong-big-ambitious-non-scrupulous Germany.

"Beer-drinking, stolidity, and the needle-gun will do for the peace
of Europe more than Downing St. and the homilies of the whole Russell

"I have little trust in the F. O. policy of the Conservatives. The
theory is, the Tories love a war; and to controvert this we shall be
driven to bear more insult under a Tory Government than if we had Bright
on the Treasury bench.

"What a fizzle our friends of the Italian fleet present! They said a
few days back that they were in the Tyrol with Garibaldi. He too is not
adding to his fame,--but who is in this war? Not La Marmora certainly."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, July 28, 1866.

"I am here in the midst of great excitement, the late sea-fight being
to our naval population the most exciting of all topics. If the Admiral
Persano were to venture to land at Genoa at this moment, they would tear
him in pieces. The more generously minded only call him a coward, but
the masses believe him to be a traitor and to have sold the fleet.
This, of course, is the sort of falsehood that could only gain currency
amongst Italians. It is alleged that in changing from the _Re d'Italia_
to the _Affondatore_ his flag was never struck on the former, and
consequently the whole of the Austrian attack was directed to a vessel
where the admiral was supposed to be. As to the _Affondatore_, she was
kept out of the action, some say a mile off,--and the terrific losses
of ships and men were actually incurred by officers being driven to
desperation by the misconduct of their chief.

"The prefect here has just shown me a despatch saying Persano is to be
tried by court-martial, and it will require all the skill of Government
to get him off, and they may seriously endanger the very monarchy (as he
is the personal friend of the king) in the attempt.

"The Austrian artillery went through the iron plating as if it were
two-inch plank, and the Yankee-built ship, the _Re_, was sunk by
shot-holes. The _Affondatore_, too (Blackwall built), was riddled, while
the Italian guns did positively nothing.

"The Italians certainly fought manfully, and, though beaten, were not
dishonoured. As for the Austrians, horrible stories are told of their
shooting,--the men struggling in the water and hacking with their sabres
the poor fellows who clung to the boats. If these stories were not
guaranteed by men of station and character, they would be unworthy of
any credit, but I am driven to believe they are not falsehoods.

"I am here sailing and swimming and laying up a store of health and
strength to carry me on, _Deo volente_, through the hot late summer of

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _July_ 30, 1866.

"I have got (this moment) yours of the 23rd, and the cheque, for which
I thank you. 'One way or other,' as Lord Derby says, I am terribly
crippled for gilt, and the money came most apropos.

"I am glad you like my views in O'D. I feel sure they are correct.
Curiously enough, the O'D. will just fit in with the sentiments declared
by Lord Derby, both regarding America and Europe. It is very hard to
write patiently of the Italians just now, their exigence rising with
every new success of Prussia, totally forgetful of the fact that to the
Alliance they have brought nothing as yet but discomfiture and defeat.
Every charge of a Prussian squadron raises their demands, and every
Prussian bulletin enlarges their cries for more frontier! What a people!
and yet one must not say _a word_ of this; one must back them up and
wish God-speed and the rest of it, for there is a worse thing, after
all, than a bumptious Italy,--an insolent and aggressive France.

"Garibaldi is at his wits' end with the scoundrels they have given him
to command. About eighty per cent of them should be at the galley. He is
ready to throw up his command any day, and nothing but urgent entreaty
induces him to remain.

"There will be great difficulty in getting the Italians to accept a
reasonable amount of territory with Venice. They always regard whatever
is given generously as something far below their just claim; and if you
want to make an Italian cabman miserable, pay him double and be civil at
parting, and he will go off with the affecting impression that he _might
have_ had _five_ times as much out of you if he had only stood to it. I
know them well: they are d------d bad Irish--Irish minus all generosity
and all gratitude.

"I have come back in great mind after a week's swimming. I believe if I
could live at Spezzia I might rival Methuselah."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Aug_. 13, 1866.

"I was very glad to see the part which I now return corrected, fearing
that some mischance had befallen it. I hope you like it: I am eager to
hear what your impression of the whole tale is on looking back over it.

"If I thought it was of the least consequence to you I would not dun
you, but I want money. I am in a difficulty about a large--that is, for
me, a large--bill due on the 25th, the last of those debts I once told
you of, and with this I end them.

"I am writing hard at 'Sir B.,' and hope the ending will come right. My
home advisers say 'Yes.'

"The character of Mrs Sewell was a great difficulty--that is, the
attempt to show how mere gracefulness could appear something better, and
that a woman might be as depraved as a man without forfeiting to a great
extent our sympathy and even something stronger.

"Have I succeeded? I don't know, nor do I know if any one will take the
trouble to see what I have aimed at.

"I wrote this epigram on the loss of the _Affondatore_, and it has some
vogue here:--

     "Al Affondatore.

     "Ta meritai bene il tuo nome strano,
     Se non i nemici: Affondersi Pereano.

Or in doggerel--

     "To the Sinker.

     "You well deserve your name, one must say with candour,--
     If you can't sink your enemies you can your own commander.

"I see the Rhine question is the next for 'trial'--the G. L. N. _versus_
the King of Prussia. _Nisi Prius_."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Aug_. 16,1866.

"The French Emperor is very seriously ill. Nellaton has been sent for,
and has given a grave opinion of the case: suspected to be incipient
stone in the bladder. He was brought up to Paris from Vichy on a bed. It
would be an awkward moment for him to die, for Plonplon would convulse
the whole of Europe. Both Germany and Italy are ripe for a great
democratic movement. Bismarck will be swamped eventually, or, rather,
pooped by the big wave of popular opinion that is now swelling in
Germany, and that seems to carry him _on_ at this moment.

"As for Italy, all the failures, land and sea, are ascribed to the
Government, and the 'Reds' are employing the general discontent to bring
the dynasty into disfavour. Fortunately for the king, Garibaldi has
done as little as if he were a man of education, otherwise the situation
would be critical.

"Who can explain the shameful condition of our fleet? Our passion
for experiment is only to be equalled by the man who passed his life
speculating what he should do when he met a white bear. I suppose that
a great naval disaster would drive the nation half mad, and certainly
it is what we are bidding hard for if we do come to a fight. As the only
passable Ministry in England is the one that will reduce taxation, it
would be better at once to give up all armaments and pay a policeman
(France, for instance) to protect us. We should save some fourteen
million annually, and be safe besides."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Aug_. 19, 1866.

"You will see by the accompanying chaps, that I am puckering in my
purse, and will be able to tell me what you think of the wind-up.

"There is nothing I find so hard in a story as the end. I never can put
the people to bed with the propriety that I wish. Some won't come for
their night-caps; some won't lie down; and some will run about in their
shirts when I want to extinguish the candle. In fact--absurd as it may
seem--one's creatures have a will of their own, and the unhappy author
of their being is as much tormented by their vagaries and caprices as if
they were his flesh-and-blood children going into debt, and making bad
matches and the rest of it.

"At all events, read and be critical. It is not yet too late to correct
if you dislike the way I am concluding. I, of course, mean to make the
lovers happy in my next chapter."

_To Mr W. Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 1, 1866.

"The best thing the war has done for Italy is the knocking over a score
of false gods--that graven image La Marmora and their clay idol Persano
especially. This was, _par excellence_, the land of sham mock heroes,
mock statesmen, mock publicists, and mock patriots. Even the engineers
were humbugs, for when they made a tunnel for the Lucca railroad they
could not make the two sides meet, and went on working in parallel lines
till something fell in and showed one where they were!

"To pick your best Bramah with an old nail; to know what you say at your
dinner-table without the faintest acquaintance with the language you
are talking; to read your thoughts by the expression of your face as
you glance at them; and to 'sell' you at every moment and turn of your
existence, I'll back them against Europe,--but there end their gifts!
For the common work and wear of daily life they are too sharp and
too cunning, and you might as well improvise a Cabinet Council from
Pentonville or Brixton as make up a Ministry of such materials. But for
the love of mercy keep all this to yourself.

"There is a story that Hudson has been offered the Embassy here. Would
to God it were true! I'd defy the devil and all his bores with one
such fellow in my neighbourhood. There's more champagne in him--dry and
sweet--than in all Mme. Cliquot's cellars, and he is as good as he is
able and clever.

"The Tories would do more by such an appointment than by gaining ten
votes in the House, ay, fifty. I think they seem to use their patronage,
up to this, very wisely: these Irish appointments are certainly good.
There is one man of merit they appear to have forgotten, it is true; but
I am told he is not impatient, and this is the better for him, as his
virtue may probably be put to a long and trying test.

"Do you know Phil Rose of the Carlton? He is coming out to see me here
next week. He is sure to have all the Conservative gossip (he used to
have all the patronage once, which was better). He once (in '59)
offered me an [? Australian post] with £1200 a-year, and gave it, on my
refusing, to Ed. Disraeli, Ben's brother. I declined from pure fear. I
understood I should have to hold and account for large sums, and as I
knew how incapable I was in rendering an account of the few half-crowns
entrusted to me, I saw that if I accepted I should probably finish my
literary career in the Swan river. Still, I have occasional misgivings
at my cowardly rejection, for I might have died before they detected me.

"Do you see that that ungrateful rascal Cook has taken up the hint in my
late O'D. and organised an excursion to 'Liberated Venice'?

"Bright, too, has been plagiarising me in his Birmingham speech, in his
comparison of the Conservatives with Christy Minstrels. How I chuckled
when I saw that he broke down in his attempt at drollery. Write if you
have not written. Do you remember Sheridan Knowles' speech about Sanders
and Ottley? 'If you, sir, are Mr Sanders, damn Mr Ottley; and if you're
Mr Ottley, damn Mr Sanders.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 7,1866

"I have your note and its enclosure. My apothecary will just take the
last, and may the devil do him good with it: I grudge it with all heart.
My thanks to you, all the same.

"I am right glad you like 'Sir B.' To tell you truth, I was rather put
out at not hearing you say so before, for I thought the last bit good.
I am sorry now to know the reason. _You_ ill! I'd be shot, if I were
_you_, if I'd condescend to be ill. With your comfortable house and your
34 Bordeaux it's downright mean-spirited to be sick. I can imagine an
unlucky devil like myself knocked up, because so little does it. Like
the Irish on their potato-diet, they are always only a potato-skin
above starvation; so fellows like myself are only a hair above hanging
themselves. Don't let me hear of your being blue-devilled, or I'll go
over to St Andrews and abuse you.

"I send you a short O'D.--which, as Mrs Dodd says, may please the
Mammoth of unrighteousness, the press!--on 'Our War Correspondents,'
also 'On Bathing Naked.' The last will help to relieve the dryness of
politics, in which O'D. has of late indulged much.

"I am not ashamed of 'Sir B.,' and I leave it entirely to yourself to
append the name or not. I think Tony was injured by being anonymous, and
this had probably better be acknowledged.

"If I could manage it, I'd go over to see Venice on its cession. It
would be curious in many ways.

"Do you perceive how L. Nap, is laying by the nest-egg of future discord
in Germany, fomenting discontent in all Southern Germany, and exciting
the King of Saxony to _defer_ accepting terms of peace? Contracts are
already taken in Austria to provision the Saxon troops for three months,
so that there is no question whatever of their return to Saxony.
All this shows clearly enough what _pressure_ he means to put upon
Prussia--that is to say, how much he intends to gall and goad her. If
she resent, she must do something provocative, and that provocation will
be all the Emperor needs to stir up French anger, always ready enough
to take fire. It is in this way this scoundrel always works,--like the
duellists who force the challenge from the other party, that they may
have the choice of the weapon!

"I hope to God he won't drive me mad, as my daughters daily tell me, for
I can't keep myself from thinking and talking of him. He destroys the
comfort of my daily potatoes, and I think my little franc Bordeaux is
soured by the thought of him."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Sept_. 24,1866.

"I am well pleased that you like the wind-up of 'Sir B.' It is always
my weak point; and so instinctively do I feel it so, that I fear I shall
make a bad ending myself. I half suspect, however, that your praise was
a delicate forbearance, and that you really _did_ see some abruptness.
Now I have a great horror of being thought prosy. There is something in
prosiness that resembles a moral paralysis, and I fear it as I should
fear a real palsy.

"I have written a few last words, which I leave to your judgment to
subjoin or not. It's well I have wound up the story, for I begin to
feel some signs of a return of the attack I had last spring. Perhaps,
however, it may pass off without carrying me with it.

"Wolff is here: he dined here yesterday, and made us laugh heartily at
his account of the way Labouchere blackguarded him on the hustings at
Windsor,--'The knight from the Ionian Islands, whose glittering honours
would not be the worse of the horse-pond,' and after this went and dined
with him at the 'Star'!

"Wolff has come out with some credit from our people about a great
'robbery' to be done on the Italian Government--a loan of a hundred
millions (francs, of course).

"I hear Lord Stanley would give me Venice--the Consul-Generalship--if
Perry would resign or die. He has been 'cretinised' these ten years,
but idiocy is the best guarantee for longevity. 'The men the gods loved'
were clever fellows, and they 'had their reward.' It would be a great
boon to me to get a place before I break up,--just as it is a polite
attention to offer a lady a chair before she faints.

"If I get upon L. Nap. I shall write you ten pages, so I forbear, but
not until I have screamed my loudest against that stupid credulity
with which the English papers accept his circular as 'Peace.' Don't you
remember what Swift said to Bickerstaff, when the latter declared he was
_not_ dead? '_Now we know_ you are dead, for you never told a word of
truth in your life.'

"Did you see that the Cave of Adullam was originally Lincoln's? I have
noted eight distinct thefts of Bright, and am half disposed to give
them in a paper with the title, 'Blunderings and Plunder-ings of John

"I have taken to gardening,--it's cheaper than whist, and a watering-pot
is a modest investment; besides, I feel like a Cockney friend who
retired from the gay world and took to horticulture,--'One never can
want company who has a hoe and a rake."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 29,1866.

"I have conceived a new story which may, I think, turn out well. I do
not wish to do it hurriedly, but if you think it would suit you by the
opening of the New Year, I will go on to shape and mould it in my head,
and when in a state to do so, send you some pages.

"I can afford to be frank with you, for I think you wish me well. I
believe there is some thought of giving me advancement, but even if it
come, it will not suffice for my wants, and I must write (at all events)
_one more novel_. I trust you understand me well enough to know that I
am not pressing my wares on you, because _I_ want to dispose of them,
or that if it be your wish or your convenience to say 'No' that it will
alter anything in our friendship. You will bear this well in mind in
giving me your reply.

"I don't believe I shall do better than 'Sir Brook.' I don't think it is
_in_ me, but I will try to do as well, and certainly if it is for _you_,
I will not do my work less vigorously nor with less heart in it. There
is certainly plenty of time to think of all this, but I _think_ better
and more purposely when the future is, to a certain degree, assured, and
my new story will get a stronger hold on me if I know that you too are
interested in its welfare."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Florence, _Oct_. 7, 1866.

"My best thanks for your note and its enclosure. They only reached me
last night, though dated 30th, but the mails go by God knows what route
now, as the inundations have completely cut the Mont Cenis line. I send
off the Nov. 'Sir B.' to-night. There are two or three small corrections
which had escaped me. I think if the book be largely known it may
succeed. I hope 'The Times' may notice it--is this likely? I shall ask
for some copies for a few friends, and my own can be addressed to me
under cover to F. Alston, Esq., F. O. My eldest daughter, who went
carefully over the corrections, says I have done nothing as good. By the
way, I have not gone over Sept. and Oct. Nos. See that Sewell is never
Walter, always _duelling_, and look well to any other lapses.

"I am all wrong in health, and depressed most damnably. I go down to
Spezzia to have a swim or two to try to rally, and I shall take the O'Ds.
with me for correction.

"I suspect Perry will not give up Venice, but your friends are asking L.
Stanley to give me Havre, which _is_ vacant. How kind of you to offer
to write to him. I don't like putting you to the bore, but if you come
personally in his way, say what you can, or think you can, for me. Havre
is worth £700 a-year, and would solace my declining years and decaying
faculties. Paralysis is the last luxury of poor devils like myself, but
I really can't afford it.

"So Lyons goes Ambassador to Paris. I know him well, and his capacity
is about that of a small village doctor. The devil of it is, in English
diplomacy the two or three men of ability are such arrant scamps and
blackguards, they can't be employed, and the honest men are dull as
ditch-water. There is no denying it, and I don't say it because I am
dyspeptic,--but we have arrived at Fogeydom in England, and the highest
excellence that the nation wants or estimates is a solemn and stolid
'respectability' that shocks nobody with anything new or original, and
spoils no digestion by any sudden or unexpected brilliancy.

"The Ionian knight is here with me, full of grander projects than ever
Skeff Darner dreamed of. He asked me yesterday if that character had any

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Croce di Malta, Spezzia, _Oct_. 9,1866.

"I have been here some days swimming and boating, and the sea and
sea-air have done wonders for me, making me feel more like a live man
than I have known myself these six months.

"I send you by this post the O'Ds. corrected, and herewith a few lines
to finish the 'Cable' O'D., which you properly thought needed some

"I go back to-morrow, and hope to find a letter from you. Though I am
totally alone here, and have nobody above my boatman to talk to, I leave
this with some regret. The beauty of the place and the vigour it gives
me are unspeakable enjoyments. It is like a dream of being twenty years

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Oct_. 22, 1866.

"I am very grateful for your note on my behalf. You said just the sort
of thing that would be likely to serve me, and will, I have no doubt,
serve me if opportunity offers. Lord S. has been so besieged on my part
by my friends that he will for peace sake be anxious to get rid of me.
The difficulty is, however, considerable. The whole Consular service
is a beggarly concern, and the only thing reconcilable about it is when
there is, as in my own case, nothing to do.

"The Party were much blamed--and, I suspect, deservedly--for the way in
which they are distributing their patronage. It was but last week Havre,
with a thousand a-year (consular salary), was given to Bernai Osborne's
brother! and two of the private sees, of Cabinet Ministers held office
as such under the late Administration. These are blunders, and blunders
that not alone alienate friends but confuse councils, since no one
pretends to say that these men maintain a strict silence amongst their
own party of what they hear and see in their official lives."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 8,1866.

"You say nothing about the serial, so I conclude your plans are made;
but what say you to taking my story to begin your _July volume?_
_That_ interval would perhaps take off the air of sameness you seem to
apprehend, and it would in so far suit me that I could rest a little
just now, which is perhaps the best thing I could do. Say if this will
suit you.

"I was greatly tempted to go to Venice, so many of my friends went; but
I was too low in many ways, and so resisted all offers.

"Send me some money. The Florence tradesmen, in their religious fervour,
anticipate Xmas by sending in their bills before December, and in this
way they keep me blaspheming all Advent.

"I hope to hear some good news of 'Sir Brook,'--if, that is to say, good
news has not cut with me, which I half begin to suspect.

"What do you say to the Pope's allocution? It appears to me _son dernier
mot_. By the way, why did your political article last month pronounce
so positively against any Reform Bill, when it is quite certain the
Government will try one? Would not the best tactic of party be now
to declare that the only possible reform measure could come from the
Tories? that, representing, as they do, the nation more broadly as well
as more unchangeably, their bill would be more likely to settle the
question for a longer term of years than any measure conceived in the
spirit of mere party,--and I would like to show that it is the spirit of
party, of even factious party, that is animating the Whigs.

"Universal suffrage in Australia has proved an eminently Conservative
measure. What we have to bear most in England is not _great_ change so
much as _sudden_ change. We can conform to anything, but we need time to
suit ourselves to the task.

"I suspect that the moderate Whigs have no intention of joining the
Conservatives. There is, first of all, the same disgrace attaching to a
change of seat in the House as in a change of religion. Nobody hesitates
to think that a convert must be either a knave or a fool; and, secondly,
the Whigs do not apprehend danger as _we_ do: they do not think
Democracy either so near or so perilous. Which of us is right, God
knows! For my own part, perhaps my stomach has something to say to it.
I believe we have turned the summit of the hill, and are on our way
downward as fast as may be.

"America is wonderfully interesting just now. It is a great problem at
issue, and never was popular government submitted to so severe a test.
If Johnson goes on and determines to beard the Radicals, he will be
driven to get up a row with England to obtain an army. They will vote
troops readily enough for _that,--reste à savoir_ against whom he will
employ them.

"I am glad to see Lord Stanley appointing a Commission to consider
the Yankee claims. There is nothing so really good in parliamentary
government as the simple fact that a new Cabinet may undo the very
policy they once approved of, and thus the changeful fortunes of
the world may be used to profit, instead of accepted as hopeless

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Nov_. 16,1866

"I would have delayed these proofs another day in the hope of hearing
from you, as I am so anxious to do, but that the Queen's Messenger
leaves this evening for England, and I desire to catch him as my

"I send you an O'D. on the Pope, and, curiously enough, since I wrote
it I have found that Lord Derby's instructions to Odo Russell are in
conformity with the line I take, being to make the Pope stay where he

"We were to have had great Department changes, but they are all _tombées
dans Veau_, at least for the present. Lyons was to have gone to Paris
_vice_ Cowley, and Hudson come back here, but the Queen will not permit
the Princess of Wales, on her visit to the Exhibition, to go to a
bachelor's house! L. Lyons has no wife. Why they don't send him an order
through F. O. to marry immediately I don't know, but I can swear if the
command came from the head of a department he'd have obeyed before the
week was over."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Dec 16,1866.

"I return the proof, which by our blundering post office only reached me
last night. I have added a short bit to the Pope, and also the Fenians.
I'm sure you will agree with me as to Ireland; what we want is something
like a continuous policy--something that men will be satisfied to
see being carried out with the assurance that it will not be either
discouraged or abandoned by a change of Government. We want, in fact,
that Ireland should be administered for Ireland, and not for the
especial gain or loss of party.

"My wife is a little better, and was up for a few hours yesterday. I
suppose there is not much the matter with myself beyond some depression
and a little want of appetite, but I know I'm not right, for I feel no
enjoyment in whist.

"It is d------d hard that 'Fossbrooke' has been so little noticed. 'Pall
Mall' and 'Athenaeum' are very civil, and my private 'advices' say I
have done nothing equal to it. I know I am pretty sure never to do so
again. If I had had time, I would have liked to have written a long
paper on Ireland and its evils. I believe I have lived long enough _in_
Ireland to know something of the country, and long enough _out_ of it to
have shaken off the prejudice and narrowness that attach to men who live
at home--and I suspect I am a 'wet' Tory in much that regards Ireland,
though not the least of a Whig in this or anything else. My O'D. will,
however, serve as a pilot balloon, and if it go up freely we can follow
in the same direction.

"If you see any notices, I am perfectly indifferent if civil or the
reverse, of 'Sir B.' send them to me, and tell if you hear of any
criticism from any noticeable quarter.

"I am sure you are right as to some ill-feeling towards me of the London
press, though I cannot trace it to any distinct cause. If I had lived
amongst them I am well aware they might hate me roundly, but I have
not,--I have all my life been abroad, and never knew Grub St. That
the fact is so I have a strong suspicion, and certainly 'Tony Butler,'
anonymous, fared better till they began to discover [who wrote it]."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _Feb_. 6, 1867.

"Up to this I have no tidings about the Queen's Speech, and am as much
in doubt as ever what the Government means. One thing I feel sure:
if they do not propose some measure of reform, they are done for as a
_Party_; and if they do, they are done for as a _Ministry_. Reform is a
dose that will always kill the doctor that prescribes it.

"But there are graver mischiefs abroad. A great European war is coming,
and I see already signs that the Yankees have their task assigned them
by Russia, and which will immensely complicate the coming struggle.
Jonathan is to sympathise with the distressed Cretans: he is to come
into the war as a philanthropist, but it is a philanthropist with a

"I send you three short O'Ds. If the month is propitious I may find
bones for another. Send me (if you have them) the rejected ones: I think
I could transfuse blood into them and revive them. It is important that
they should not be all political, and it is often hard to find a
new social evil, particularly for a man laid up like myself, and not
street-walking. You will see, without my telling it, that I am not
myself. I am far from well, and my spirits, that I always thought would
have gone on with me to the end, are flagging.

"There will be a strong session, and no quarter given or taken. How I
envy the fellows that are in it. If men really wanted to see what the
effect of numerical representation is, they ought to look at the French
and Italian Chambers,--the one a closely packed crowd of Ministerial
followers, the other a set of jobbing hounds representing neither the
intelligence, the property, nor the enterprise of the country. The
proprietary of Italy is scarcely seen in the Chamber, and the Parliament
has neither credit with the country nor influence over it. One of
Garibaldi's ill-spelled silly proclamations is more law in the land than
all that passes the House.

"I hope the Ministry will declare they want no measures of severity in
Ireland, and will have the pluck to restore the Act of Habeas Corpus and
give the lie to the Kimberley fabrication. I don't say Ireland is sound,
but she is no sicker than she ever was. As to the Established Church
in Ireland, I am convinced that they who urge its destruction are
less amicably disposed towards the Catholics than that they hate
the Protestants. They always remind me of what Macaulay said of the
Puritans, who put down bear-baiting not because it was cruel to the
bear, but because it amused the people.

"There are many in Ireland who think that to abolish the Church would
at once cut the tie that attaches Ireland to England. I myself think
it would weaken it. There was assuredly a time in which, if Protestants
could only have been assured that their religion would be respected,
they would have joined O'Connell in Repeal. Though too loyal and too
self-respecting to make outcry upon it, the Protestants in Ireland are
far from thinking they are fairly dealt with."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morzlli, Florence, _Feb_. 17,1867.

"The short month compels me to beg you will look closely to these in
proof, as I cannot hope to see them. I am 'off the hook,' but I wrote
these last O'Ds. _di cuôre_, as I feel, especially in the Irish affair,
the Cabinet is wrong.

"I am not sure of my appointment, but I believe it will take place.
I was only waiting for certainty to tell you, well aware of your kind
feeling for me. It is not a 'big bird' but, after all, I only shoot with
a popgun.

"The Irish judge, Keogh, who tried the Fenians, dined with me
yesterday. He has come abroad by special leave to escape the _risque_ of
assassination with which he was menaced."

_To Mr John Blackwood,_

"Villa Morelli, Florbnce, _Feb_. 20, 1867.

"I write a mere line to say that I have this morning received my
appointment to Trieste, and from all I hear of the climate, society,
and place itself, I am fortunate. It is only eighteen hours by rail from

"In my last proof I corrected 'La Marmora' wrong: it should be 'La
Marmora' (as it stood before I changed it). The Italian newspapers,
however, spell it both ways.

"I intend to ask for a leave till May, since it would be dangerous to
move my wife in bad or broken weather; so that if you should visit Paris
(I mean, of course, you and Mrs B.), there is still time to come over to
Florence before we leave it, and I hope that you may manage it.

"The promotion was made with great courtesy, and if I have not got a big
slice of the pudding, I have been certainly 'helped' with all possible

"I suspect Dizzy has made a sad mull of his 'resolutions.' It is,
however, hard to say what conditions his own friends may have imposed.
At all events, if the Government be allowed to carry a bill, it will
be to get rid of a troublesome measure and a party together. They will
permit the horse to win, with the condition that the race shall break
him down for ever.

"I scribble this hurriedly; but I knew you would like to hear I was safe
out of the ship, even though it be only in a punt.

"Italy is going clean to the devil. It will be soon the choice between
a Despotism or a Republic. Parliamentary government they never did
understand, but so long as Cavour lived he made the nation think it was
a Parliament ruled them,--and, stranger again, the Parliament itself
believed so too!"

_To Mr Alexander Spencer._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Feb._ 21,1867.

"As I know of no one who will be more pleased to hear of any piece of
good fortune having befallen me than yourself, I write this to tell you
that the Government have given me the Trieste Consulship. It is one of
the best in all respects--worth at present £700 a-year, and with fair
prospect of being increased. The place itself, climate, people, and
position are all that I could desire. The way the thing was done was
most courteous, and as Spezzia is to be abolished, it is clear that both
my last and my present post were specially created to serve me.*

     * Dr Fitzpatrick (on the authority of Mr Whiteside--
     afterwards Lord Chief-Justice) makes the statement that
     Lord Derby exclaimed, "We must do something for Harry
     Lorrequer." Also, that in offering him the appointment,
     Lord Derby said, "Here is £600 a-year for doing nothing;
     and you, Lever, are the very man to do it" It does not seem
     probable that Lever would have considered the somewhat
     cynical observations attributed to the Secretary of State
     for Foreign Affairs as being exceptionally polite or
     exceptionally courteous.--E. D.

"Of course I am very glad to have some of the pressure of eternal
authorship taken off my shoulders, for I can easily, by O'Dowd and such
like discursive things, double my income without calling upon me for the
effort of story-writing.

"I might have had something higher and more remunerative if I had been
disposed to go farther away, but my wife's health and my own inclination
to keep in this part of Europe (only eighteen hours by rail from where I
am) decided me to take Trieste.

"It is not, of course, without regret we leave the city we have lived
twenty years in; and I believe I am not deceiving myself if I say that
we shall be regretted here, for we have a large acquaintance, and are
almost Florentine. Still, it would be madness to refuse such an offer
and the security it gives that when my hand and head get more wearied
I shall yet be able to live, and, like the princess in the fairy tale,
only 'kill mice' for my amusement."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _March_ 6, 1867.

"I send you the Fenians altered--and, I hope, for the better. As the
Government _have_ called for the New Powers, there is no need to deplore
their omitting to do so, and the paper will not read the worse that it
does not censure them.

"I have thought over what you suggested about Gladstone,--but it would
be too personal, and I hate him too much to trust myself to speak of him
individually. As for the charm of his manner--his fascination, &c,--I
think it is about the most arrant humbug I know. Joseph Surface, with a
strong Lancashire burr, is the impression he left upon me.

"What a precious fiasco the Tories have made of their bill. Like the
Chinese with the plum-pudding, they forgot to tie the bag, and all the
ingredients have got loose in the pot. I see Lord Cranborne and Peel
have left them. Both are losses, but it matters little how the crew is
to muster when the ship is among the breakers.

"I set off for my post immediately, and hope that a new place, new
situation, and new people may rally me out of my dreariness. Austrian
politics, like Scotch law, confound one by the very names they give
things; and I lose all pleasure in a trial when the plaintiff is called
the 'Promovent'! I know it will be many a day before I resign myself to
believe that 'Reichsrath' means a council: it looks and sounds so like a
tonic bitter. Still, I am going in for a strong acquaintance with
Austria and Austrians, and mean to give up Italy when I cross the

"If Newdigate had not been such a good fellow I'd have liked to have
quizzed him about his absurd speech concerning the Irish Catholics. It
is hard to understand men so imbued with prejudice and yet mixing with
the world. And as to Cardinal Cullen's red stocking, why, good God! have
we not seen the West Kent Rifles or the Dorset Fusiliers strutting about
Paris in knickerbockers and cross belts, and there was no more thought
of imitation in the one case than Papal supremacy in the other. Rome
derives immense power and prestige from our unreasonable jealousy of her
influence. The Prussians are far wiser: they ignore all cause of offence
altogether, and outflank the priests in this way."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel de la Petri, Trieste, _March_ 24,1867.

"Your packet with proof followed me to Vienna, into Hungary, and
at length caught me here this morning--I need not say, too late for
correction. I have had what Yankees call 'a fine time,' and talked
myself hoarse in strange tongues; but I have seen strange men and
cities, and, on the whole, filled my head while emptying my pocket. I
have stories for you when we meet, and I trust that might be soon.

"As to my new post--_keep the confession purely to yourself_---it is
unpleasant, damnable. There is nothing to eat, nothing to drink, nothing
to live in, no one to speak to. Liverpool, with Jews and blacklegs for
gentlemen--_voilà tout_.

"It was a veritable leap in the dark, and I hesitated long whether
it might not be best to pitch it to the devil who made it and go on
penny-a-lining to the end; but Lord Bloomfield, our Ambassador at
Vienna, who really took to me, persuaded me to hold on for a while at
least, and I have _asked_ for, and _got_, three months' leave, during
which time I must either try and get some change or poison myself.

"All this avowal--made, as you may believe, neither willingly nor
pleasantly--is made to you alone of all my friends, for I am heartily
ashamed of myself for getting into such a scrape and talking rather
mysteriously about my good-luck, &c., which is pretty much like a man's
boasting at being transported for life. Trieste means no books, no
writing, no O'D., no leave nor go of any kind, but moral death, and
d------n too."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _April_ 6,1867.

"I got back here last night late to find your note, and I may own that
I never 'touched' money that didn't belong to me with more pleasure than
your cheque, plucked by innkeepers and cleared out by whist as I have
been while away.

"Only think of my going to see Flynn in prison at Venice! I hope I'll be
able some day to give you an account of our meeting. I have taken charge
of the scoundrel's petition for pardon, and believe I shall succeed in
obtaining it, though what society is to gain by his liberation is more
a matter for speculation than hope; but I am really curious to know what
resources of knavery he has in his budget, all the more since his rival
swindler, L. Napoleon, would seem at the end of _his_ rogueries, and
stands fully exposed and found out by all Europe. I saw some most
astounding correspondence of his on the Mexican affair, and it will be
published one of these days.

"I'll go over 'The Fenian' the moment I am rested. Now my hand is
shaking terribly, and I am a good deal fatigued.

"Trieste was a fatal blunder of mine. If you could hear of [any one
who] would exchange with me, put him in 'relations' at once: I'll pay
liberally the 'difference.'

"Of course I was not in London, though I read I was, in a Scotch paper.
I hope you and Mrs B. will not let May go over without a run to Paris
and a peep at us here. It would be a great pleasure to see you.

"I am, as you may believe, very down in the mouth about my move. I
feel as might a vicar leaving a snug parsonage to become bishop in the
Cannibal Islands."

_To Mr Alexander Spencer._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _May_ 7,1867.

"I suspect my Trieste appointment is a bit of a white elephant. There
will be a great deal to do, a large staff necessary, and the place is
generally costly to live in. In fact, I believe it would have been fully
as well for me to have retained my humble post at Spezzia, where, if I
received little, I did less. But I was tired of being a country mouse,
and began to fancy that I had a right to some more generous diet than
hard peas.

"My poor wife has gone back sorely in health. I have many causes for
uneasiness, but this is the worst of all."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, _June_ 18,1867.

"I enclose you the proof and a few pages to wind up 'The Adieu.'

"You will see ere long that I am right about L. Nap. He means to play us
a slippery trick about the East. He bamboozled us into the Crimean War,
and he is now going to juggle us out of its small benefits.

"My wife is at last a little better. I got to bed last night after
twelve nights of half-sleep on the sofa. I am fairly knocked up, and for
this and other reasons do look to the proof, and don't trust me.

"You have heard that Elliott has been appointed Ambassador to
Constantinople. He is about the greatest ass in diplomacy,--a big word
when one remembers Loftus at Berlin and Howard at Munich. Here is an
epigram I made on his appointment:--

     "F.O. is much puzzled, we all have heard recently,
     To find proper Envoys to send to each Court;
     And while Lyons at Paris may get along decently,
     We rejoice to hear Elliott _est mis à la Porte._"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"British Consulate, Trieste, _July_ 2,1867.

"Though my cry, like the starling's, is still 'I can't get out,' I exist
in the hope that I am not to be left to die here.

"I send you a short bit on Miramar that I hope you may like. I'll follow
it with something lighter, but I send this now to acknowledge your
note and its eighteen-pounder (a shot in my locker that told with
considerable effect). I see you will not pity me for being sentenced to
this d------d place, but if you only saw the faces of the Shylocks you'd
be more compassionate. If nothing else offer, I'll try and negotiate an
exchange with Flynn. I'll be shot if there must not be something amongst
the convicts more companionable than here."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Villa Morelli, Florence, _Sept_. 5,1867.

"I am passing my last few days at the Villa Morelli, and mean to leave
for good--if that be the phrase for it--on Monday next. My wife is still
very ill, and very unfit for the fatigue of a journey; but short of
giving up my post, I have no alternative. I hoped to have heard from
you before I wrote, but as I have a quiet half hour--not a very frequent
thing with me of late--I sit down to inflict it on you. I wish, besides,
to ask and learn from you--shall you want me seriously next year,--that
is, do you care to have a novel from me any time about April or May
next? I am driven to ask this because I have had a proposal which, if
you want me, I shall certainly not accept, nor am I sure I shall even in
the other alternative.

"I am always hoping that each book I write will be my last; and if it
were not that I have taken (mentally) as many farewells as Grey, I'd say
this new and not-a-bit-the-less-on-that-account-much-to-be-thought-over
story would be my final curtsey to an indulgent public.

"It seems to me you won't believe in a war in England. It is part of the
national hypocrisy to cry peace while our neighbours are whetting
their knives and polishing their breechloaders. War is certain,
nevertheless--as sure as the devil is in hell and I am a consul!--two
facts so apparently alike, it seems tantalising to mention them.

"We are in for a little war of our own, meanwhile, with the African
savage,--perhaps to serve as an excuse for not taking part in the bigger
fight near home. This policy reminds me of an old Irish squire who,
being a bad horseman, always excused himself when the hounds met near
him by saying 'he was off for a rat-hunt.'

"The next Glasgow steamer that leaves Trieste will bring you a few
bottles of Maraschino, which, as Cattaro is one of my dependencies, will
be real. I wish I could think I'd see you sip a glass with me one of
these days beside the blue Adriatic."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 18.

"It is not now I need tell you what a miserable hand I am at correcting
a proof. The man who has never been able, after fifty odd years'
experience of his own nature, to correct one of his own faults,
can scarcely have much success in dealing with his printers'. Look,
therefore, to this for me, and let me come decently before the public. I
have added a bit to Garibaldi's which is certainly _true_, whatever men
may think of it in England.

"I am afraid I am not equal to a notice (a worthy notice) of Aytoun.
I never knew [him] personally, and I suspect it should be one who did
should now recall his fine traits of heart as well as of intellect. All
I know of him I liked sincerely.

"I abhor Cockneydom as much as you do! Without being a Fenian, I have an
Irishman's hate of the Londoner.

"Only think of what a lucky dog I am! All our clothes, &c, coming from
Florence have been shipwrecked in the Adriatic. They were sent from
Ravenna, and the craft was wrecked off Pola. I must make an O'D. of it!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Consulate, Trieste, _Nov_. 16,1867.

"Thanks for your note and its enclosure.

"You are mistaken if you think I invented the Nobility Association, or
that it is a hoax. It is _bona fide_, every bit of it; and I have added
a note which you can insert if you suspect that your own incredulity may
be felt by others.

"I have added a page also to 'Garibaldi.' It is, to my mind, so
essential to a right reading of the present position of Italy to place
briefly the whole incident before the reader, that I think it now will
display events as they have been, as they might have been, and as they

"To comply with your wish to return proof by post, I have, I fear,
corrected laxly; but you will, I know, look to my 'shortcomings.'

"I suspect Serjeant Brownlow's reminiscences would make an amusing
review. If you think so, send it to me, and I'll try.

"My wife is again very ill, a relapsed [ ] of the lung, and I am

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 2.

"I send you for your New Year No. the best magazine story I think I ever

"I only hope you may agree with me,--at all events you will tell me what
you think of it, and let me have early proof."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"British Consulate, Trieste, _Dec_ 6, 1867.

"I return you 'Bob Considine,' hurriedly, but I hope effectually,
corrected. I sincerely hope it may appear New Year's Day: I have a
superstition of a good start on that day.

"Your note contained no cheque, and I suppose you may have found it on
your table since, but you can annex it to 'Bob' when you write.

"We are going to have a mournful spectacle here--the funeral reception
of the poor Mexican Emperor's remains. It will be, they say, very solemn
and imposing.

"I find I could not improve the wind-up, and left it unchanged. As to
how mad Bob turned out afterwards is nothing to either of us, though I
own I think the case hazardous.

"A happy Xmas to you and your wife. Give her all my best wishes and warm
regards; as for me,--

     "The time of mince-pies, mistletoe, and buns,
     The time that tells of all that bright and neat is,
     Only brings thoughts of Xmas bills and duns,
     Confounded chilblains and my old bronchitis.

"This short month drives me close to time, or I should have liked to add
something to the Persano sketch. I find it is a subject immensely talked
of by our people (sailors) at home, and that opinion is more favourable
to him in England than in Italy. There is no time, however, for this

"I suspect Dizzy's plurality of votes scheme is utter failure. A Bill of
Reform must be simple, even at the cost of some efficiency in details.
It is a weapon to be used by coarse hands--and every day of the week

"I have heard nothing more about myself since I wrote. I suppose it is
all right, but I know nothing.

"Did I tell you that I met Gladstone here? I don't think I ever saw a
more consummate actor,--what the French call _poseur_,--with all the
outward semblance of perfect indifference to display and complete
forgetfulness of self. Even Disraeli himself is less artificial."

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Trieste, _Dec. 20_, 1867.

"I have been planning I don't know how many letters to you, as I wanted,
_imprimis_, to have a consultation with you about literaries, books to
be written, &c., but so many _pros_ and _cons_ got into the controversy
I saw it must be talked, not written. Then came on a severe cold,
lumbago, &c, and so time slipped over, and I half fancied that I had
written and was awaiting your answer. This was stupid enough; but
remember where I am living, and with _what_.

"Of all the dreary places it has been my fate to sojourn in, this is the
very worst. There are not three people to be known; for myself, I do
not know one. English are, of course, out of the question. Even as a
novelist I could make nothing out of the stoker and engineer class. Then
as for all the others, they are the men of oakum, hides, tallow, and
tobacco, who are, so far as I can guess, about on a par with fourth-rate
shopkeepers in an English provincial town. The place is duller, the tone
lower, the whole social atmosphere crasser and heavier than I could have
believed possible in a town where the intelligence to make money exists
so palpably.

"My 'leap in the dark' has cost me dearly, for, as Paddy says, I have
only gained a loss by coming here. Even as it is, if my wife's health
admitted of moving I'd pitch it up to-morrow and run away--anywhere--ere
softening of the brain came on as the sequela of hardening of the heart.

"I write with great difficulty, or, rather, with a daily increasing
repugnance to writing. 'Bramleighs' you recognise, I suppose: I'll own
the paternity when it is full grown. And I am scribbling odd papers,
O'Dowderies, and others, but all without zest or pleasure. They are
waifs that I never look after when they leave me; and this has Trieste
done for me!

"What are you doing yourself? and how is Malta? There must surely be
some congenial people in it.

"How miserably the Italians lost their opportunity in not backing
up Garibaldi and making Rome their own at once! and now the great
question--Will the country wait? will the Constitutional party be able
to move with half steam on, and still steer the ship? I firmly believe
in war, but all my friends in England disagree with me: they talk
of bankruptcy, as if the length of the bill ever baulked any man's

"I don't think I understood you aright in your last. Is it that I ought
to wind up the O'Dowd and start a new shaft, or do you encourage going
on? I am equal to either fortune. Of the two, it is always easier for me
to lay a new foundation than put a roof on an old building. Give me your
advice, and as freely as may be, for I hold much to it."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _jan_ 3, 1868.

"Immense preparations are being made here for the reception of the
remains of the Emperor of Mexico, to arrive on the 15th. It will be a
very grand and solemn affair.

"I think the squib I enclose will please you. It is in the form of a
letter from M. M'Caskey to a Fenian colonel, showing what ought and
ought not to be the Fenian strategy. The main point is, however, to lay
stress on the necessity of ascribing all brutalities to the Government."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Jan_. 6, 1868.

"Your note and enclosure, though delayed by the snow in Styria, reached
me all safely yesterday. Your hearty words of good cheer dallied me out
of a blue-devilism that is more often my companion nowadays than some
fifteen or twenty years ago.

"I am sincerely glad you liked 'B. C.' I sent it to you because I really
thought it good--I mean, for the sort of thing it pretends to be.

"I hope you will like 'M'Caske ': it may need a little retouching, but
not much. I send you some O'Ds., and if I live and do well I'll try a
story for March No. I have a sort of glimmering notion of one flitting
across me now.

"We are here in the midst of _crêpe_ and black cloth, and for poor
Maximilian, whose body is to arrive this week. What a blunder of our
people not to send a ship to the convoy, as the French have done. We
have no tact of this kind, and lose more than you would believe by the
want of it."

_To Mr John Blackwood._


"The Russians, people think here, will open the ball next spring by
pushing the Montenegrins to a rupture with the Turks, and thus opening
an opportunity for themselves to come in. Prussia is then to cross the
Maine, and the rest to follow.

"Then of course the programme of those who, like myself, are
'Know-nothings'---- But it is, at least, _vraisemblable_.

"I am convinced we ought to resort to conscription, and the time is fit
for it. Now that you have given the masses privileges, let them assume
duties. So long as you denied them the suffrage, you pretended to govern
them and for them. Now the system is changed: _they_ have taken the
responsible charge of the State, and its first duty is defence.

"What hatfuls of money Dickens is making in America! I am half persuaded
I could do the 'trick' too, but in another way.

"Give my warmest and best regards to your wife, and all my good wishes
for the 'year time' (if the word be English).

"Have you seen Patton's book--the ugly side of human nature? My youngest
daughter made a very clever review of it, and, I believe, burnt it

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Jan_. 16,1868.

"Though I did not fully concur in your view of M'C.'s letter, I have
made such emendations and additions as will make the sarcasm thin enough
to appeal to you.

"I still think it is the best squib I have done.

"Trusting that you will now be of my mind, and that my codicils, &c.,
may come in aright.

"I have just returned from attending the ex-Emperor's funeral,--four
mortal hours in a uniform on a mule, with a fierce north-easter and a
High Mass!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, Jan. 28,1868,

"'God only knows who has the ace of diamonds!' I once heard a pious
whist-player exclaim at the last trick of the game. In the same
devotional spirit I am tempted to say, 'God only knows what has become
of certain O'Ds. that I sent you on the 6th of the month!' Never mind.
Herewith goes a story which, if not as rattling, is, I think, better
_reading_ than the last. May you think so!

"Did you read in 'The Times'--an extract from 'The Globe'--an account
of Maximilian's funeral? It was written by my youngest daughter, aged
eighteen, and I think very creditably done. I wish I may see her hand in
'Maga' before I die."*

     * Sidney Lever (Mrs Crafton Smith) was the author of a
     volume of verses entitled 'Fireflies,' which was published
     in 1883. She also wrote a story entitled 'Years Ago,' which
     appeared in 1884. She died in London in 1887.--E. D.

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 8, 1868.

"I suppose I wrote 'oats' as Sir Boyle did 'gout'--because he could not
spell 'rheumatism.' I only saw the blunder myself a couple of days ago.
As to 'M'Caskey,' I am not often wedded to my own opinion of my own
things, but I declare I still think it a telling squib, and that no
earthly man could avoid seeing that it meant sarcasm, not seriousness.
Your _first_ impression, I am sure, has affected your judgment of the
'revised code'; but at all events I am determined not to lose it, so if
you say no, don't let me lose the opportunity of giving it to the world
while the subject is the uppermost one in men's thoughts.

"I firmly believe it would be a great success. Bowes, the correspondent
of 'The Standard,' to whom I read it, said he thought it _better fun_
than any in O'Dowd.

"Strangely enough, the same post that brings me your discounted view of
O'Dowd brings me a note from Dr Burbidge, the head of the Malta College,
in which he says------ But I will just send you his note, and not garble
it by quoting, so I send it in its integrity.

"The Irish Church is doomed. The only question is not who is to use the
crowbar, but how to get out of the way when the edifice is falling. It
will certainly crush more than the parsons."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 28, 1868.

"The enclosed portrait will show you that the gentleman who took Ninco
Nanco for Victor Emanuel, as recorded by C. O'Dowd, did not make an
unpardonable mistake. I saw it in a shop this morning, and was so amused
by what I feel to be a corroboration of my story that I could not help
sending it to you. The king makes a far better brigand than a sovereign,
and looks every inch a highwayman.

"I have been wondering at your long silence, and fearing all sorts of
disasters to a story I sent you a full month ago; but I take it you
have been dining out, and talking Scotch reform, and distribution, and
education, and Ireland, and Abyssinia, and forgetting me and all about
me,--and very natural, all things considered. I do envy you a bit of
London life--as a refresher: not that I crave to live there always, but
to go occasionally. To go and be treated as they do treat a stranger who
does not bore them too often is very agreeable indeed.

"The world is in a strange lull just now, but the wise people say that
France is making immense preparations, and certainly her agents are
buying up not only all the corn in Egypt, but all the horses in Hungary.
Here they are disarming lazily and honestly. B[eust] avows that he has
no thought of attempting to reconquer the lost position of Austria,
accepts defeat fairly, and will try to make profit out of disaster by
turning the nation to internal questions--to wise reforms and prudent
economies. It sounds very sensible, and people seem to believe it too.

"The position of Italy is very critical,--so much so that, if L. Nap.
were to die now, it would be an even chance that the whole edifice would
come down with a run, and the old Bourbons and priests be as they were.
It was by the public opinion of Europe the United Italy was made, and
the Italians have exerted themselves manfully to disgust the world
of all the good impressions in their favour, and show how little they
deserved their luck. All security in Europe is gone. No man dares to
prophesy what's coming; but that great events are brewing, and great
changes, none can doubt. As to alliances, too, everything is uncertain.
It is like the cotillion, where any one may walk off with his
neighbour's partner; and one wouldn't be surprised to see France dancing
with Russia ere the ball breaks up.

"I am far from easy about the state of our relations with America, for
though a great majority of the educated men there like England, and
would abhor a rupture, the masses have a furious desire to wound our
national honour, and would do anything to inflict a stain upon us. We
ought to have sent them a duke, or at least a marquis, as Minister."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 3, 1868.

"I was glad to get your note. I could not imagine what had become of
you, and was searching the papers to see had the Queen sent for you, and
then speculating whether you'd offer _me_ a bishopric, or, like Sancho,
the governorship of an island. God help me, I believe I am fit for
nothing better!

"I'd do Dizzy, but it would be flunkeyism in _me_ just now. It would
be such a palpable bid for a place; and though I'd like to be 'in
Lunacy,'--I mean a Commissioner of that ilk,--I'd not like to 'compass

"I'd far rather review Kinglake; but just because I like both the
man and his books, I shrink from it. First of all, I am away from all
sources of information here; and though I might gather books about me,
I could not command what would be more essential still--the corrective
power of personal intercourse. It would grieve me sincerely to do him
badly, and I could by no means say that I could do him well. Just in
proportion as I hold his opinions about the Emperor, and think that
he--Kinglake--alone understands this man and has had the courage to avow
his opinion, I am afraid that my very partisanship might damage where
I meant to serve, and prejudice what I would rather uphold. It is with
great reluctance I decline what has immense attractions for me.

"I cannot forgive you not printing 'M'Caskey.' Posterity never will
pardon it, and my literary executor shall devote a full page to abuse of
you in his behalf.

"By all means give 'Thornton' this month, but the O'Ds. I now send I am
even more anxious about, especially the Irish one. I _know_ if they
give way to the tinkers they'll spoil the kettle. Of course I can speak
without a tinge of prejudice. I feel as judicially important as a Judge
in Equity, but I _do_ think the No. of Mag. without me has a want of
flavour, even though the flavour be that of lemon-juice.

"I have a half hope of going over to England after Easter. Shall you
be there? I'd like a dinner with you at the Burlington. Hech, sirs! it
stirs my blood to think how gay I could be--gout, debts, and all 'in no
wise to the contrary, nevertheless, notwithstanding.'

"Why won't they (by way of young blood in the Administration!) make
me Under Secretary, F. O.? I know more of the Continent and foreign
questions than the whole lot of them.

"They have a line of character in French theatricals they call 'grand
utilities.' What a splendid thing it would be to introduce it into
political life. I think I'll make an O'Dowd on it, and recommend
Cornelius himself to the Premier's notice. From Tipperary to Taganrog
is a wide sweep, and I'd engage to 'talk' anything from Pat to
Panslav-isms. If you see Stanley, mention it.

"Did I tell you Russell--I mean 'The Times' man--wrote to me in great
glorification about 'Only an Irishman.'

"My very warmest regards to Mrs Blackwood. If I live and do well--that
is, get leave and a little cash--I'll go over and give them myself."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 16, 1868.

"It _was_ L. N. who first suggested ironclad gunboats to be employed
against the Russian batteries; and as for his courage, you'll get no one
on the Continent to believe it except M. Persigny and Madame Walerothy.
He is the Post pump-man _par excellence_.

"As you and your wife have left town, I have lost much of the wish to go

"I quite agree with you that the tone of condescension employed by the
press towards Dizzy is disgusting in the extreme; but my hands are tied,
by the position I am in, from saying how highly I think of him. I know
nothing of his honesty, nothing at all of his nature; but his ability
is unquestionably above the other men's. His great want is a total
deficiency in all genial elements. He attaches no one, and he is
incapable of understanding the uses of those traits which made
Palmerston and Lord Melbourne the idols of their party.

"Thank God, Gladstone has still less of these endearing qualities! But
still I think our friends will have a short lease of Whitehall, and
(unlike Pat) no claim for their improvements when they are evicted."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 6, 1868.

"First of all, I hope you are about to print my short story this month.
I'm sure you'll like it when in type, and I want to see it there.

"Secondly, what would you say to an Irish tale, a serial, a story of
modern--that is, _recent_--Ireland, as opposed to the old Erin, with all
its conflicting agencies of Tory and Whig, radical, rebel, and loyalist,
dashed with a something of that humour that even poverty and famine
have not exhausted, without a bit of sermonising or anything at all
'doctrinaire'? I think I could put many strong truths forcibly forward,
and insinuate much worth consideration and reflection; and if I could
also make an amusing story, it would be like Mary Jones' Alphabet in
Gingerbread--'Learning to the _taste_ of the Public.'

"Of course, I do not mean this at once, but after some months of plan,
plot, and perhaps a visit to the Land of Bog as a refresher. Now say,
would it not do _you_ good?--as I feel it would do _me_, I believe I
have _one_ more effort in me, and I don't think I have two; but I'd like
to give myself the chance of finishing creditably, and I own to you your
monthly criticism and comments are a stimulus and a guide that, in my
remoteness from life and the world, are of great value to me. However,
make your decision on this or other grounds. If it would be of service
to the Mag., _you_ know and _I_ do not.

"I am flattered by your repetition of the offer about Kinglake, just as
I should feel flattered if a man asked me to ride a thoroughbred that
had thrown the last three or four that tried him. I believe if I went to
London I should say 'yes,' because I could there have books and men, and
K. himself, whom I know sufficiently to speak with in all freedom. I
can always have a month's leave, but there are difficulties of various
kinds. However, the _prospect_ of the review forms now a strong element
in my wish to go over. If _you_ had been at the Burlington I'd decide on
going at once.

"The attack of Gladstone is on a false issue. He assails the Church on
the ground of its anomalies, which no one desires to leave unredressed,
and is about as logical in advising extinction as a doctor would be that
recommended poisoning a patient because he had a sore leg. If the Church
is to be abolished for _expediency sake_, nothing should be said about
its internal discrepancies, since these could easily be remedied, and no
one desires to uphold them. I attach far more weight to the adverse tone
of the press ('Times' and 'P. Mall') than to all that has been said in
Parliament. People in England get their newspapers by heart, and then
fancy that they have written the leaders themselves; but they never
think this way about the speeches in Parliament. My hand is so shaky
with gout that I scarcely believe you will be able to read me: _poco
male_ if you can't, for my head is little better than my fingers."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _May_ 5,1868.

"Let me assure you that, however glad I was to write in the
Magazine--that had been an old boyish love of mine (I bought 'Maga' when
half crowns were gold guineas to me),--what I prized even higher was
the immense advantage I derived from your frank and cordial and clever
comments, which, whether you praise or blame, always served me.

"This intercourse to a man like myself was of great value, removed as I
was from the opinions of the moving world of clubs and society: it was
of immense advantage to have the concentrated budget of the world in
the words of a friend who feels interested also in the success I could
obtain. For years and years Mortimer O'Sullivan continued to criticise
me month by month, and when he died the blank so discouraged and
depressed me that I felt like one writing without a public--till
you replaced him; and that same renewal of energy which some critics
ascribed to me in 'Tony' and 'Sir B.' was in reality the result of that
renewed vigour imparted by your healthful and able advice.

"Now do not be angry at my selfishness if I try to exalt my wares. I
tell you candidly I do it in the way of trade: it is a mere expedient to
keep my duns off, for--an honest truth--I think hardly enough of what I
have done and of myself for doing it.

"I shall not be able to open till the latter end of the year, as I want
a mass of material I must get by correspondence. I can't leave my wife:
she grew so anxious after the assassination of M'Gee, that she owned she
thought I'd never return to England alive. For this she has, of course,
no reason beyond mere terror, aided by the fact that some Fenian friend
always sends us the worst specimens of Fenian denunciation in the press,
with all the minatory passages underlined.

"I have a month's leave at my disposal (and suppose I could easily
extend it) whenever I like to take it; and if all should go well in
autumn, we might do worse than take a flying ramble through the south
and west of Ireland.

"I am going now to look at some of the islands in the Adriatic: they are
as little known as the Fijis, and about as civilised.

"When you print my story, 'Fred Thornton,' you'll see it will look
better than you think it. I hope you'll put it in your next."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _June_ 15, 1868.

"One would have thought that you had a vision of the devil dancing in my
breeches pocket when you sent me a cheque in advance. Sooth to say, my
'sooty friend' does perform many a _pas seul_ there; but as I seldom put
my hand in, I don't disturb him.

"I take your hint and send you an O'D. for the House, and I suppose the
one on 'Labouchere' will reach me to-morrow or next day.

"I don't know what is the matter with me. Hitherto I have divided my
life pretty equally between whist and sleep; now, as I get no whist
here, I have fallen back on my other resource, but with such a will that
I rarely awake at all. I'll back myself against anything but a white
bear, and give odds.

"This infernal place is slowly wearing me out. I have not one man to
talk to. I don't care for indigo,--my own prospects are blue enough. As
for rags, my small clothes suffice. But why bore you? I'd like to go and
see you, but as that is not exactly practicable, I'll pay you a visit
in _imagination_, and in _reality_ send my warmest regards to Mrs

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Monday, June_ 15.

"I have deferred these a day, thinking that the 'Labouchere' O'D. might
arrive; but I delay no longer now, as the post is in without it.

"I have got a long letter from Grant from Suez, interesting because from
him, but in other respects tame, and with no novelty that the papers
have not told us.

"I am informed to-day that the Mediterranean Squadron are to be here
next week, and I am not overjoyed at the news. My wife is sick; myself,
poor, out of spirits, and dissatisfied, and by no means in the vein to
distribute outdoor relief in cigars and bitter beer to a set of noisy
devils who, for the most part, reckon uproar as the synonym for jollity.

"That little heathen, as you called him, ------, is raising a No Popery
cry in a course of lectures through the country, and means to help
himself into Parliament. If the Irish Church be doomed, her fate will be
owing to her defenders: the rottenness and black dishonesty of the men
who rally round her would disgrace any cause."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Trieste, _June_ 25, 1868.

"I was glad to see your autograph again, even though it brings to me
shady tidings. I posted the 'Lab.' O'D. on the _4th of June_, myself.

"It was spicy and 'saucy,' and I'm sorry it has miscarried. I never
could re-write anything. I was once called on by F. O. to state more
fully some points I had written in my 'Despatch No. so-and-so,' and I
had no copy, of course, and was obliged to say I'd write another if they
liked, but had lost all memory of that referred to.

"I see little chance of getting out of this except to be buried, and if
habit will do something, I'll not mind that ceremony after some years at
Trieste. I'd say, Why don't you come and see me?--if I was worth seeing.
But why don't you come and see Venice, which is only four hours from me,
and then come over to me? Men who hunt seldom fish--a rod spoils a nice
light hand; so that what could you do better in your long vacation than
come out here, fully see Venice, Vienna, the Styrian Alps, and I'll
brush myself up and try and be as pleasant as my creditors will permit

"I am delighted with Kinglake, but I want the two first volumes. If
I had been in town, where I could have seen books and men (men
especially), I'd have been delighted to review him."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 6, 1868.

"My 'Lab.' O'D. was, I believe, niched out of the post here: no loss,
perhaps, for it was terribly wicked and personal. This is milder,
and cuts _two_ ways. Let me see a proof, and if I have a third in the
meantime, I will send it.

"Do print my story, like a good fellow. You'll see it is a hit.

"I have just received news that the fleet will be here on Friday, and
then--the deluge!

"I have ordered such a supply of bitter ale and cigars that the
authorities are curious to know if I am about to open a _Biergarten_,
which I secretly suspect I am--minus the ready-money profits.

"Tegeloff comes down to meet the admiral, and if anything turns up you
shall have it."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 16, 1868.

"Oh, B. B., what a humbug you are! affecting to be hard-worked, and
galley-slaved, and the rest of it. Telling this to _me_ too. Dives
lecturing Lazarus on the score of dyspepsia is a mild case compared to a
publisher asking compassion from a poor devil of an author on the score
of his fatigue. I picture you to myself as a careless dog, hunting,
flirting, cricket-playing, and picnic-ing, with no severer labour than
reading an amusing proof over a mild cheroot and a sherry cobbler.
I tell you that on every ground--morally, aesthetically, and
geographically--you _ought_ to come and see me, and if you won't, I'll
be shot but I'll make an O'Dowd on you.

"So now it seems there is not one 'Labouchere' O'D. but two 'Labouchere'
O'Ds., and I see nothing better to do than take your choice. I believe
the last the best.

"As the Government are good Christians, and chasten those they love,
they have made Hannay a consul! Less vindictive countries give four
or five years' hard labour and have an end of it; but there is a rare
malice in sending some poor devil of a literary man who loves the
Garrick, and lobster salad, and small whist, and small flattery, to eke
out existence in a dreary Continental town, without society or sympathy,
playing patron all the while and saying, 'We are not neglecting our men
of letters.' I'd rather be a dog and bark at the door of the Wyndham or
the Alfred than spend this weariful life of exile I am sentenced to.

"I hope you'll like Bob Considine's story, and let it be a warning and
a lesson to you how you worry your wife when you have one, and how
unsuspectingly a husband should walk all the days of his life. I
don't think the world sees it yet, but I am a great moralist, terribly
undervalued and much misunderstood.

"Kinglake is admirable; he has but one fault,--and perhaps it would
be none to less impatient men than myself,--he does not _get on_ fast
enough. It is splendidly written, and with a rare courage too.

"What a fuss you are all making over Abyssinia I Hech, sirs, but ye are
gratefu' for sma' mercies! I wish to Heaven the press would moderate its
raptures, or we'll get a rare set down from the foreign journals.

"Did I tell you that there is a great rifle-match, open to all nations
(even Scotch and Irish), at Vienna this month? There's another reason
for coming out. You could make your bull's-eye on your way to me. You
had better accede, or you may read of yourself as 'The man who wouldn't
come when he was axed.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _August_ 16, 1868.

"I am worn out with fatigue and anxiety: for five nights I have not been
to bed. My poor wife is again dangerously ill, and as yet no sign of any
favourable kind has appeared. God help me in this great trouble!

"I wanted to see those things in print, but it is late now to correct
them. I believe I wrote 'Mincio' in the 'La Marmora' paper when it
should be 'Oglio.' Look to this for me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Aug. 18, 1868

"You will, I know, be glad to hear my wife has had a favourable change.
One of the doctors of the fleet has been fortunate enough to hit on a
lucky treatment, and the admiral most kindly allows him to remain behind
and continue the treatment. The fleet sails to-day.

"I send you a few lines which, I believe, would be well liked and
opportune: they are true, at all events."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 3, 1868.

"I thank you heartily for your kind words about my wife. Thank God, she
is now improving daily, and my anxiety has at last got some peace.

"I was greatly pressed to join Lord Clarence Paget down amongst the
islands of Dalmatia, and nothing but my anxiety for my wife prevented
me. It would have been a rare opportunity to pick up much odd material,
and a pleasant ramble besides. Sir H. Holland has spent a few days with
me, and wished me much to join his tour,--and _his_ companionship would
have been delightful,--but I was obliged to refuse. It is weeks since I
wrote anything but a few passing lines, and I have not yet come round to
the pleasant feeling that in settling down to my work I have got back
to a little world where no cares can come in save those necessary to my
hero and heroine. But I hope this will come yet.

"I'd have waited to send you another O'D. or two, but I wanted to thank
you for your hearty note, and acknowledge its enclosure. Just as a
little money goes far with a poor man, a few words of sympathy are
marvellous sweetness in the cup of a lonely hermit like myself, for you
have no idea of the dreary desolation of this place as regards one who
does not sweat guineas nor has any to sweat. The Party, I fear, will go
out before _I_ can, and for all I see I shall die here; and certainly if
they're not pleasanter company after death than before it, the cemetery
will be poor fun with Triestono.

"I don't think Trollope _pleasant_, though he has a certain hard
common-sense about him and coarse shrewdness that prevents him being
dull or tiresome. His books are not of a high order, but still I am
always surprised that he could write them. He is a good fellow, I
believe, _au fond_, and has few jealousies and no rancours; and for a
writer, is not that saying much?

"What I feel about Kinglake's book is this. The great problem to be
solved is, first, Was Sebastopol assailable by the north side? Second,
Were the French really desirous of a short war? I suspect K. knows
far more than, with all his courage, he could say on the score of our
Allies' loyalty; and any one who has not access to particular sources of
knowledge would be totally unable to be his reviewer, for in reality
the critic ought, though not able to write the book he reviews, to be in
possession of such acquaintance with the subject as to be in a position
to say what other versions the facts recorded would bear, and to weigh
the evidence for and against the author's. Another difficulty
remains: what a bathos would it be--the original matter of almost any
writer--among or after the extracted bits of the book itself. Kinglake's
style is, with all its glitter, so intensely powerful, and his
descriptive parts so perfectly picture-like, that the reviewer must
needs take the humble part of the guide and limit himself to directing
attention to the beauties in view, and make himself as little seen or
felt as need be. Not that this would deter me, for I like the man much,
and think great things of his book; but I feel I am not in a position to
do him the justice his grand book deserves. If I were a week with you in
Scotland, and sufficiently able to withdraw from the pleasures of your
house, I believe I could do the review; but you see my bonds, and know
how I am tied.

"You will see by the divided sheet of this note that I started with the
good intention of brevity; but this habit of writing by the sheet, I
suppose, has corrupted me, and perhaps I'll not be able now to make my
will without 'padding.'

"I have the Bishop of Gibraltar on a visit with me: about the most
brilliant talker I ever met."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 14, 1868.

"I send you a very spicy bit of wickedness on the Whig-Radicals--but,
for the love of the Virgin, let the proof be carefully looked to! I am
as uncertain about the errors of the press as I am about my personal
shortcomings; but I rely on your reader with the faith of a drowning man
on a lifebuoy.

"My wife is a shade better, but my anxiety is great, and I (who
habitually sleep eighteen hours out of twenty-four) have not had a
night's rest for ten days.

"We are suffering greatly here from drought. No rain has fallen for
three months, and my well is as completely drained as my account at my
bankers, or anything else you can fancy of utter exhaustion.

"Who writes 'M. Aurelia'? He or she certainly knows nothing of Italian
nature or temperament. Not but that the story opens well and is cleverly
written, but I demur to the Italian. _I_ know the rascals well; but,
like short whist, it cost me twenty years and some tin to do it. Keep my
opinion, however, to yourself, for I hate to disparage a contemporary,
and indeed this slipped out of me because my daughter has been talking
to me of the story while I write."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 16, 1868.

"I have just had a round of clerical visitors, beginning with the Bishop
of Gibraltar and ending with the Dean of Exeter. Very pleasant talking
and humorous men, and only agreeably dashed with the priest element,
which is sufficiently feminine to temper down the rougher natures of lay

"I'd like much to be with you and Story. There is a mine of the
pleasantest sort of stuff in him. Pray commend me to him heartily.

"I am sentenced, however, to pass my life with Greeks, Jews, and
Ethiopians and people below Jordan,--and I don't take to it, that's a
fact! I hear that Gladstone will give up Disendowment and be satisfied
with Disestablishment,--not because he wants to let the Church down
easier, but that he neither knows how to rob nor what to do with the

"If they only come to a _long_ fight over the question, it will end by
Dizzy dealing with the parsons as he did with the franchise. He'd bowl
over Gladstone first and then carry the whole question, and not leave a
curate nor even a grave-digger of the Establishment.

"I must positively manage a run over to town in spring--and Ireland too.
This is essential."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 5, 1868.

"I thank you heartily for the note and the enclosure: both were very
welcome to me. Old as I am, I still need tin and tenderness.

"I have done a few lines, as you suggested, on Walewsky, whom I knew
well. He was a good fellow, but with immense vanity and overruling

"I have determined to go to Ireland in the beginning of the year, and
seek out in a part of Donegal not known to me nor, I believe, many
others, the _locale_ of a new story. I want to do something with a
strong local colour, and feel that I must freshen myself up for the
effort. My poor wife gains very slowly, but I hope and trust she may be
well enough to let me leave her by February.

"If you saw my surroundings here--my Jews and Greeks and Armenians, and,
worse than these, my Christian friends!--you would really credit me with
resources that I honestly own I never believed in. How I do anything
amongst them puzzles me.

"It is a good thought about the Election addresses. I'll think over it.

"Who wrote 'Aurelia,' and how long will it run?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 17, 1868.

"Of course I only spoke of O'Dowding Trollope in jest. I never had
the slightest idea of attacking a friend, and a good fellow to boot. I
thought, and shall think it great presumption for him to stand in any
rivalry with Lord Stanley, who, though immensely over-rated, is still
far and away above we poor devils in action, though we can caper and
kick like the devil.

"I have just this moment arrived at home from a short tour in Dalmatia,
where I amused myself much, and would have liked to have stayed longer
and seen more. I send you the proofs at once, but, as usual, begging you
will have them closely looked to by an 'older and a better soldier.'

"I suppose I must set to work now at my yearly consular return, for up
to this the Government have never seen my handwriting save in an appeal
for my pay!

"I hope I may live to shake hands with you all in spring."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 19, 1868.

"I am so glad to get your long and pleasant letter that I return your
fire at once. First of all for explanations. I never seriously thought
of O'Dowding Trollope--he is far too good a fellow; and, besides, he is
one of us--I mean scripturally, for in politics he is a vile unbeliever.

"You will be glad to hear that our notice of the sailors in the last
O'D. was received with 'Cheers for Blackwood' in the wardroom of the
fleet--and by Jack himself, who read it. Lord Clarence wrote to me from
Naples saying he was never more gratified in his life, and that the
great effect of it on his men is beyond belief.

"I have just come back from a short ramble in Dalmatia with my youngest
daughter. It was very pleasant, and we enjoyed ourselves much and saw
a good deal. She desires me to send you her best regards for your kind
message. I have my doubts if she will not one day figure in 'Maga.' She
has just played me a clever trick. She reviewed 'The Bramleighs,' sent
it to an Irish paper, the 'D. E. Mail.' without my knowledge, and cut me
up for her own amusement. I never guessed the authorship when I read it.

"I assure you that I live in the mere hope of a visit to you. I want to
see Scotland, and with you.

"Things are going precious badly here. Beust has gone too fast, and
the privileges accorded to the Hungarians here stimulated the other
nationalities to a like importunity.

"I think Austria will fall to pieces. It is like the Chinese
plum-pudding where they forgot to tie the bag. Spain has deferred the
war. No one can venture to fight till he sees how the 'Reds' mean to

"We had Farragut here, and I dined him and _fêted_ his officers to the
best of my wits. I am convinced it is our best and honestest policy to
treat Yankees with [? cordiality]. Their soreness towards us was not
causeless, and we had really not been as generous towards them as we
were towards other foreigners. I have openly recanted my opinion of
them, and I am proud to say that the first suggestion of paying off the
Alabama claim was an O'Dowd. I wish these d------d Tories, before they
go out for ever (as it will be), would give me something near or in
England. This banishment is scarcely fair.

"I got such a nice note from Kinglake in return for a dedication of the
book to him. I only wish I could acknowledge it by the way that would
please me best, by telling the world what I think her great book is."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_ 30, 1868

"Lord Sheffield was here and spent a day with me, and, strange to say,
he does not take a glowing view of the Party. He distrusts Dizzy, as all
old Tories do; but, in the name of Heaven, what else have we?

"When Mdlle. Laffarges' sentence was pronounced _avec ses circonstances
atténuantes_, Alphonse Karr said it was because she mixed gum always
with the arsenic; and may not this be the Disraeli secret? At least,
he'd give us gum if he could, and when he can't, he saves torture by
administering his poison in strong doses. When the Russian traveller
cut up his child and flung him piecemeal to the wolves, he forgot what
a zest he imparted to pursuit by the mere thought that there was
always something coming. Don't you think Pat and the wolf have some
resemblance? At least, it will be as hard to persuade that there is no
more 'baby' to be eaten."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 17, 1868.

"Have you seen Labouchere's row with his colleague? What a talent he has
for shindies! I got a letter from him a few days ago, and he is quite
pleased with the O'D. upon him. There is no accounting for tastes, but
most men would have thought it the reverse of complimentary.

"We are threatened with the passage of the Prince of Wales through the
place. God grant it be only a threat! If there's anything I abhor, it's
playing flunkey in a cocked hat and a policeman's uniform.

"I think our O'Ds. this month will make a noise,--some of them, at

"Strange climate this: the roses are coming out first and the oleanders
are again blossoming, and all the mountains of Styria around us are
covered with snow."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Wednesday, Dec_. 1868.

"I have been very ill--so ill that I thought these few lines of notice
of my old schoolfellow should have been my last. I hope you will think I
have done him well. I am getting round again--that is, if this 'runaway
knock' should not be repeated; but Death has occasionally the postman's
trick of knocking at several doors together when he is pressed for time,
and I believe he is busy with a neighbour of mine this moment. But this
is a grim theme, and let us quit it."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 17,1868.

"I get up out of my bed to write to you. I have been--still am--very
ill, and not well sure if I am to rub through. My sufferings have been
great, and I have had nights of torture I cannot bear to think of.

"I hope Bradlaugh will not give you any trouble, but I feel sure I said
nothing that could be called libellous. Would it be reparation to say
that, after seeing the published list of the new Government, I beg
to assure Mr B. that there is no reason whatever he might not figure
amongst them?

"It is great aggravation to dying to feel that I must be buried here. I
never hated a place or people so much, and it is a hard measure to lay
me down amongst them where I have no chance of getting away till that
grand new deal of the pack before distributing the stakes.

"I wish I could write one more O'D.--'the last O'Dowd.' I have a number
of little valueless legacies to leave the world, and could put them into
codicil form and direct their destination. My ink is as sluggish as my
blood, indeed it has been my blood for many a day, and I must wind up.
I don't think I have strength to go over the longer proof: perhaps you
would kindly do it for me.

"The cheque came all right, but I was not able to thank you at the
time. Give my love to Mrs Blackwood, and say that it was always fleeting
across me, in moments of relief, I was to meet you both again and be
very jolly and light-hearted. Who knows! I have moments still that seem
to promise a rally; but there must be a long spell of absence from pain
and anxiety--not so easy things to accomplish.

"I'll write to you very soon again if strong enough."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _the day before Xmas_ 1868

"I promised to report if I was alive, and I do so, though, without any
captiousness or Gladstonianism, the matter of my vitality might be well
open to contention.

"I am barely able to move from a sofa to a chair, very weak, intensely
nervous, and not at all reconciled to the fast-and-loose way death is
treating me. Though there is every reason why I ought not to wish to go
just now, I will put a bold face on it and say _Ecco mi pronto!_ But the
grinning humbug sends away the coach with orders to come back to-morrow
at the same hour.

"I hope you have heard no more of Bradlaugh. I'd not like to carry any
memory of him with me, which I might if he were annoying you. What a
beast I am to obtrude my sadness against the blaze of your Xmas fire! I
thought, however, you would like to hear I was yet here,--though to what
end or for what use, if I continue as I now am, is not easy to see. I
feel, however, that if I was freely bled and a little longer starved,
I'd soon be in the frame of mind I detect in my colleagues of the
Consular service here, and that, with a slight dash of paralysis, I
should soon be _à l'hauteur_ of my employment in the public service.

"I have resolved to devote my first moment of strength to a despatch
to F. O., and if I be only half an imbecile as I believe, I shall crown
myself with imperishable laurel.

"It's a bore for a man--especially an Irishman--to be called away when
the rows are beginning! Now next year there will be wigs on the green
and no mistake. Besides, I'd like to see Gladstone well away in the deep
slough of Disendowment, which I know he'll fall into. Disestablish he
may, but the other will be a complication that nothing but open robbery
could deal with.

"Then I'd like to see him lose his temper, and perhaps lose his place."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 29, 1868.

"Weak as I am, I must thank you for your kind note, which has done me a
deal of good. I assure you I never valued kindness more, and I will ask
you to say as much for me to your wife, and to thank her sincerely for
all her sympathy and good feeling for me.

"I am, I take it, about as well as I shall ever be again, which is
not much to boast of,--but I really am past boasting in any sense; and
provided I do not die at the top first, like the cabbage palms, I ought
to be thankful.

"I wish with all my heart I could be your guest, in such guise as I
might hope to be; now I am not worth my salt. I was dreaming away to-day
of making an O'Dowd will, and leaving to the public my speculations on
many things ere I go.

"We are living amidst wars and alarms here. Greeks and Turks seem eager
to be at each other; and if talking and bumptiousness should carry the
day, Heaven help the poor Turk!

"I know Hobart well; and why he didn't sink the _Enosis_ when she fired
on him I can't conceive, all the more as he is always at least half
screwed (they must have watered his grog that morning). The Greeks here
have subscribed a million of florins (£100,000), and have ordered an
armour-plated frigate to be built and launched by the 20th Feb. I don't
know whether all the row will induce the Turks to cede territory, but
I'm perfectly certain that it will end by our giving up Gibraltar,
though the logic of the proceeding may be a little puzzling at first

"The foreign press is always preaching up neutrality to us in the
affairs of Turkey. Good God! can't they see the man who represents us
in Constantinople? Can they wish more from us than the most incapable
cretin in the public service?

"Thank your nephew cordially for me for his good wishes for me. Who
knows if I may not live to say as much to him one day. I get plucky when
I am half an hour out of pain.

"I am in great hopes that my wife's malady has taken a favourable turn;
one gleam of such sunshine would do me more good than all this dosing.

"Forgive my long rambling note; but it was so pleasant to talk to you, I
could not give in."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, Jan. 4, 1869.

"Thanks twice over for your note and enclosure. Your hearty sympathy is
a very great comfort to me. I suppose I am getting better, but I suffer
a good deal, and find it hard to struggle against depression. I am an
ungrateful dog after all, for my poor wife is decidedly better, and I
ought to be satisfied and thankful for a mercy that any suffering of my
own is a cheap price.

"Imagine Charles Mathews asked to pay at the door of the Adelphi, and
you can fancy my horror at feeing doctors! But it has come to this with
me, and you may suppose how the fact adds bitterness to illness.

"I hope you will like the O'Ds. I sent you, and that they may not savour
of that break-up which is threatening me.

"They say that I must give up work for some considerable time; but
till they can show me how I am to live in the interval (even with a
diminished appetite), I demur."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Jan_. 19,1869.

"I have no doubt you will be astonished at this reaction of mine to
unwonted industry, but so it has been ever with me. When the lamp has
been nearly out a very little trimming has set it to flare out again,
even though the illumination last but a short time.

"I send you a bit of light matter, which I hope you will like. The Home
Office has pronounced in its favour. I must work, and devilish hard too;
for, cruel as it may sound, I have been feeing doctors! So you see that
the adage about dogs not eating dogs does not apply to German hounds.

"I have been also driven to get my steam up by being notified officially
that the Prince and Princess of Wales are coming down here to embark for
Egypt; and as the exact date of their arrival is not known to us, and
we only are told to be in readiness to receive them, I have slept in my
cocked hat for the last week, and shave myself with my sword on.

"I have no taste for royalties, at least seen near, and would give a
trifle that H.RH. had preferred any other port of departure.

"The _Psyche_ arrived here yesterday, but the gale was so severe that
the officers who were engaged to dine with me could not come on shore.
The _Ariadne_ is hourly expected, but with the wind as it is now, I
can't believe she will leave Corfu.

"The Greeks are about to launch another ironclad, for which the Greek
merchants here have paid the cost. She is a large corvette, carrying ten
heavy guns and plated with six-inch iron. They are savagely warlike, and
say that America is all ready and willing to aid them; and there is more
truth in this report than one would imagine from the source it comes

"I have got a letter from New York that says the Yankees are wonderfully
'tickled' by the O'D. on the 'Diplomacy.' It has been printed separately
as what they call 'a piece,' and circulated largely.

"Tell me, if you can, that you like my 'Whist' sketch."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 13, 1869.

"I was very impatient to hear from you. What you say of the whist story
is all true, though I didn't make my man a fellow of All Souls' but only
a master of that college. Some of the fellows are, however, notoriously
the worst whisters going. They are selected for convivial qualities, not
the gentlemanlike ones. Unhappily there is a distinction.

"Of course it wants point, just as one-franc Bordeaux wants 'body.' It
is merely meant to be light tipple, and if it does not give heartburn
there is nothing to grumble at over it.

"Still I'd have made it better if I knew how, but I couldn't hit on
anything I thought improvement.

"My wife has got a serious relapse, and I have not written a line since
I wrote to you. It will suit my book--that is, my story (not my banker's
book)--if you could begin with me by your new volume in July; but of
course I am at the mercy of your other engagements."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 2, 1869.

"I send you two short, but I think spicy, O'Ds., and will try to add
another. My girls say that if F. O. does not 'inform me' something about
the 'new series,' it will be strange and singular, for it is certainly

"The war is evidently drawing near, but the terror of each to begin
grows greater every day. It is firmly believed here that a secret
understanding binds Russia and America, and that if England moves out of
strict neutrality the States mean to be troublesome. Farragut told me he
saw no navy to compare with the Russian, but I know enough of Yankees to
accept his talk with more than one grain of salt.

"The efforts of France and Prussia to secure the alliance of Italy
are most amusing, as if the events of late had not shown how totally
inoperative Italy was, and that nothing could be worse than her army
except her fleet.

"My poor wife makes no progress towards recovery, and all we can do, by
incessant care, is to support her strength. I never leave the house now,
and am broken in spirits and nearly 'off the hooks.'

"Do write me a line when you have time. It is always pleasant to hear
from you."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 14, 1869.

"You are quite right, there was a clear _non sequitur_ in the new series
O'D., and I have corrected it, I hope, satisfactorily.

"You are not, I think, so right about 'Norcott,'* at least I hope not,
for I cannot see the improbability or impossibility you speak of in
the latter part. The sketch of Hungarian life was, I believe, perfectly
correct, and there was no more improbability in the story than that
of heaping many incidents in the career of a single individual, which,
after all, is a necessity of a certain sort of fiction, and pardonable
so long as they are not incongruous. It is not worth discussing,
besides; indeed, I never do uphold or even defend what I have done
except the critic be, as you are, a friend whose objections are meant as
warnings and guidings.

     * "That Boy of Norcott's," which was just finishing its
     serial course in "The Cornhill Magazine.' and is coming to
     see me. He and 'his'n' are living with the Bloomfields, who
     have most hospitably taken them in till they can house
     themselves, which (you know) can only be done in Austria on
     the 24th August.

"My chances of seeing London this year decrease almost daily. My poor
wife's symptoms are very threatening, and I cannot leave home now,
though much pressed to pay a long-promised visit to Croatia, even for a

"Robert Lytton is now Secretary at Vienna,

"You don't agree with me about the proximity of war, but I know it has
been twice, within the last three weeks, on the very brink of beginning.
Louis Napoleon has fallen into a state of silent despondency, in which
he will give no orders, offer nothing, nor agree to anything, and
R[ouher] is often left days without any instructions to guide him.

"As for Austria, she is in a terrible funk, _el du raison_. Her army is
but half drilled, and the new weapon is a puzzle to the raw recruits;
besides this, she has nothing that could be called a general,--nothing
above the Codrington class, which, after all, can only pull through by
the pluck and bravery of British troops.

"The hatred of Prussia is so inveterate here that anything like a candid
opinion as to the chances of the campaign against France is not to be
looked for, but so far as I can see men would generally back the French.
How would the Whigs conduct a great war, I wonder? Certainly Cardwell
and his economics would cut a sorry figure if he were called on for a
big effort.

"I hope the mode in which Gladstone proposes to _endow_ Maynooth (while
affecting mere compensation) will give the Tories a strong ground of
attack. The Bill is a palpable project to buy every one at the
expense of the Irish Church. The landlord, the tenant, the priest, the
Presbyterian, even the Consolidated Fund, are to be relieved of part of
their charge for Irish charities; and yet it will pass, if for no other
reason than that the nation sees one party to be as dishonest as the
other, and that if Gladstone were beaten by Dizzy, Dizzy would carry the
measure afterwards.

"If the 'Ballot' O'D. be late to send back in proof, you will deal with
it yourself. It is well to take the themes that are before men's eyes,
and say our say while there are ears to hear us.

"The Emperor of Austria arrives here on Friday, and I am bidden to a
great banquet, to be eaten in a tight uniform and epaulettes 'with what
appetite I may.' I wish I could O'Dowd them all, and take my vengeance
'in kind.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 13, 1869.

"The piece of autobiography is fact. I was a young college man when I
did the trick, and can to this day remember one sentence of Boyton's
own words, which I gave in the report verbatim. The peer was the late
Marquis of Downshire, the greatest ass of the Conservative party, _et
c'est beaucoup dire_. Boyton's death was commemorated by a beautiful
article in 'Blackwood,'--I believe written by O'Sullivan, but I'm
not sure. As for the '_Speech_-Makers' Manual,' it was published by
Koutledge & Co. I got it out before I wrote my papers. It is incredibly
absurd. The inscrutable man I refer to was Villiers--Fred Villiers,--a
great friend of all the Bulwers, and formerly M.P. for Canterbury. He
was no Villiers, had nothing, nor belonged to any one; but he was at
the top of London society and knew every duke in England, and made a
brilliant career of it for at least ten years or more.

"I am very full of my trip to London, and mean to take my youngest
daughter over--she has never been in England--to visit some friends and
pass the summer in Devonshire. My leave is a very short one; and as they
stop my pay, I can't afford to prolong it. It will be a great delight
to me to see you and Mrs Blackwood again, and I feel this is to be my
farewell visit to England, my possibly last appearance before retiring
from the boards for ever.

"I have just found the reference to Boyton. It is taken from 'The Dublin
Evening Mail' (the paper in which I gave Downshire his speech) for
August 1833, but my impression is that there is another and longer
notice of him in some other magazine later on.

"It is very rarely that I wish for my youth back again; but now that I
have begun to think of those days, and all the fine-hearted fellows I
knew in them, I cannot repress the wish that I was once more what I was
thirty-five years ago, and take my chance for doing something other and
better than I have done.

"The Austrians and Italians are doing now what they ought to have done
fifteen years ago, making an alliance _against_ France--that is, to
maintain a united neutrality if pressed by France to join her. How
strange it is that nations, no more than individuals, do not see that it
is not enough to do the _right thing_, but that it ought to be done at
the _right time_ also.

"For ever since I have known Italy I have said her natural ally was
Austria, her natural enemy France."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Hôtel du Louvre, Paris, _May_ 4,1869.

"'Thus far into the bowels of the land have we marched' without other
impediment than the Custom House officers, and mean to be in London by
Thursday next. Will you drop me a line to Jr. Carlton to say when we may
hope to see you?

"I'd not have delayed in Paris, but Lyons has been exceedingly kind and
hospitable, and I am glad to have a long gossip with him over things
past and present and to come.

"I have done nothing but _rencontre_ with old
schoolfellows--white-headed rascals that terrify me with their tiresome
stories and half-remembered remembrances. Good God, am I like these
Pharisees? is my constant question, and I have never the pluck to answer

"We travelled a whole day with Lewes and his wife (Adam Bede), and were
delighted with her talk. Her voice alone has an indescribable charm.

"I write in the buzz of a room with 250 travellers and fifty or more
particular acquaintances who are telling me what they fancy are good
stories, though if I tried to palm them on you as such, you'd soon let
me know your mind.

"Tanti saluti a la Signera"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"33 Brook Street, London, _May_ 12,1869.

"I cannot tell you how I feel the disappointment of not seeing you
here, and my regret is all the deeper for the cause of your absence. I
thoroughly know besides how you yourself regard a position which, while
you are powerless for all good, leaves you still unable to quit it. I
fervently hope that your poor brother may rally, and that I may soon
hear better tidings of him. In the turmoil and movement around me I
always feel like a man the day after a hard drinking-bout, my head
aching, my senses confused, my memory shaken, and through all a sort
of shame that this is not my place at all, and that I am wastefully
squandering my hard-got half-crowns to the detriment of my family. On
the other side of the picture I find great kindness and great courtesy,
a number of agreeable people to talk to, and the only women I have seen
for a long while who, to be pleasant, do not need to be made love to. We
have been greatly asked out, and some of my old friends have vied with
each other in kindness to my daughters.

"Lord L.* proposes our passing next week at Knebworth, and the idea has
something tempting, but I suspect if you are not likely to come up, I
shall scarcely delay here, but make a straight run home, from which my
last accounts are far from reassuring.

     * A story is told of this visit. The Consul, on his arrival
     in England, called upon Lord Lytton. The two novelists
     chatted for some time, and at length Lytton said, "I'm so
     glad for many reasons to see you here. You will have an
     opportunity presently of meeting your chief, Clarendon. I
     expect him every moment." Lever was aghast. He recollected
     that he had left Trieste without obtaining formal "leave."
     He endeavoured to excuse himself to Lytton (who was now very
     deaf): he had to be off to meet his daughters. While he was
     apologising for his hurried decision to say good-bye, the
     Minister for Foreign Affairs was announced. "Ah, Mr Lever,"
     said Lord Clarendon, "I didn't know that you had left
     Trieste." "No, my lord," stammered Lever, unable for the
     moment to see how he was going to get out of the difficulty.
     "The fact is, I thought it would be more respectful if I
     came and asked your lordship personally for leave."
     Possibly this anecdote is of the "ben trovato" order.--E. D.

"My old friend Seymour is with us every day with plans for amusement.

"To turn to other matters, I have a couple of half finished O'Ds. which,
if you like to print, I shall have time to lick into shape. I went
yesterday to the 'House' to see if my countryman the Mayor of Cork might
not furnish matter for an O'Dowd, but the whole was flat and wearisome."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Knebworth, _May_ 18, 1869.

"Half stupid with a cold, and shaken by the worst cough I ever had in my
life, I send you an O'D., part of which I read to your uncle, and indeed
wrote after a conversation with him. I hope it has more go in it than
the man who wrote it.

"I am told you are likely to come up to town, and I cannot tell you
how I would like to meet you. It may be, most probably is, my last
appearance on these boards, for it is most unlikely I shall ever cross
the Alps again, so that I entreat you let us have a shake hands, if only
that we may recognise each other when on t'other side of the Styx.

"I shall be back in town to-morrow or the day after, and hope to hear
news of you.

"I am afraid to write more, I am so overwhelmed by wheezing and

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _June_ 25, 1869.

"I have been coughing unceasingly since I saw you last, and with
difficulty secured intervals to write these O'Ds. We made only a day's
delay at Paris, and came on here without resting at all.

"Of my wife I can only say she is not worse, but I dare not say she is
better. The excessive heat here is very debilitating, especially coming
after a somewhat rough spring.

"Sydney is pressing me to join her in a visit to a chateau in Croatia,
where she is about to stay for a couple of months, but I can't afford
the time, though in one way it might repay me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 9, 1869.

"I have just got your note and am glad you like the O'Ds., but the best
of the batch are not here, as I am sure you will think,--'Forfeited
Pledges' and 'What to do with it' especially. I cannot throw off my
cough, and as I don't sleep at night I do nothing but sleep all day, and
this disposition of my time is little favourable to habits of industry.

"I suppose you are right. Syd's energy would have carried me off to
Croatia if possible. Do you remember the story of the Irish priest
telling the peasant that whenever he--the peasant aforesaid--went into
a 'shebeen' to drink, his guardian angel stood weeping at the door.
'Begorra,' said Pat, 'I don't wonder but if he had sixpence he'd be in
too.' It is really the want of the sixpence makes me a guardian angel.

"The weather is intensely hot here just now, and all out-of-door life
impossible till evening, and for my own part I never wander beyond the
walls of my own garden, which, fortunately for me, is very pretty and
shady too. Very little companionship would reconcile me to the place,
but there's positively none. It was this sort of solitude, begetting a
species of brooding, that broke down my poor brother in an Irish parish;
and sometimes I dread the depression for myself. It costs me such an
effort to do anything."

_To Mr John Blackwood_

"Trieste, _July_ 10, 1869.

"You have read of some ships having crossed the Atlantic with eight feet
of water in the hold, bulwarks staved in, sails in tatters, the whole
only kept afloat by the incessant labour of crew and passengers at
the pumps; and such is pretty much my condition, and must, I believe,
continue to be for the rest of my voyage here, and what is perhaps worst
of all is, in this same lamentable state I must still solicit freight
and cargo, ask to be 'chartered,' and pledge myself to be seaworthy and

"Well, I can only say, 'I'll not humbug you.' You shall see the craft in
all its rottenness, and not embark a bale on board of me without knowing
how frail is the hope you trust to. Having said this much of warning
(not that you need warning, for no man better knows the value of what he
takes or rejects), I have now another confession to make. I have begun
my new story, which I call 'Lord Kilgobbin,' which will be essentially
Irish, and for which, if I live and thrive, I mean to take a look at
Ireland about May next.

"I have made such an opening--such as all here are delighted with, and I
myself think not so bad. I shall be ready if you like to begin in April,
and shall be able to send you No. 1 before the present month is out.

"I had gout on me all the time I was writing the 'Dodds,' and I have
a theory that if it does not utterly floor me it sharpens me. What
debilitates occasionally stimulates, just as cutting a ship's timbers
will give a knot to her speed."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, July 12,1869.

"I am going on fairly: my malady is there, and must stay there; but I am
going to tide over this time, and will not fret myself for the future.

"I'm glad you like my talk. How I'd like to read you my opening of
'Kilgobbin.' They like it much here, but I don't know how much may have
been said to cheer me. I'm not able to write beyond a very short time,
but I must do something or my head will run clean away with me.

"My wife's state keeps me in intense anxiety, but on the whole she is
better than heretofore.

"Is there anything out worth reviewing? I'd like to have something would
take me off myself for a while.

"That poor fellow Baker, who was shot, was a cousin of my wife,--a good,
amiable, soft-hearted fellow, I hear, and incapable of a severe thing."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 16, 1869.

"I kept over the O'Ds., at your nephew's suggestion, till I heard from
you, but am glad now to see that you have no change to advise, for I
don't think I could make them better, especially by dictation. Any value
these things have is as a sort of 'schnaps,' and nobody likes water with
his glass of curaçoa.

"The heat is so overpowering here that I can do nothing, and I am
afraid, in my wife's critical state, to leave home for the Styrian
mountains, where some hospitable invitations are tempting me. From all
I can learn, there is a fine field for story-writing in those unvisited
lands on the Hungarian frontier, and I may one of these days perhaps be
able to profit by it.

"I am glad the chestnut turns out so well, but I was sure she would
improve every day she was ridden. If I were Mrs B. I'd strongly demur to
putting a collar on her, at least till she was thoroughly made for the
saddle; for it is a curious fact that you may harness your saddle-horse
but you can't ride your harness-horse. Mrs B. will understand me, and
I am sure agree with me. Whether she does or not, give her my kindest

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"_July_ 16, 1869.

"You are a bad boy not to have come up to town and let us have a shake
hands together. I'll forgive you, however, if you make some pretext
for seeing Venice, and come over here for a few days to me. There
must surely be some dead time of the year, when magazines, like their
writers, grow drowsy and dozy; at all events make time and take a short
run abroad, and it will do you a world of good."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 4,1869.

"I send you two O'Ds. which I have just done, and hope you will think
them good. I imagine you will insert the small benefaction--which I
think well enough--in next batch.

"The heat has been nigh killing us all here. Sydney was thrown down by
sunstroke on Sunday coming from church, and is still in bed, but now
better. The heat was 94° in the shade, and people who had come from
Egypt say they had never suffered anything like it there. My poor wife
has felt it severely, and the strongest of us have had to give up food
and exercise, and merely wait for evening to breathe freely.

"Pray make them send me June No., for I can't follow the story till I
get it.

"Don't you think that they have hunted down that blackguard, Grenville
Murray, too inhumanly even for a blackguard!--I do. (I mean Knox's

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept. 6._

"I thank you much for your generous remittance. I have not been doing
anything lately for a heavy feverish cold, which has kept me in a dark
room and a low diet.

"I want to write to you about Byron, but I will wait till I see if
General Mengaldo (Byron's old Venetian friend) will give me leave to
tell _his_ story of Byron's separation, and confute the Yankee woman
whose name I have not temper to write.

"Mengaldo lived more in Byron's intimacy as an equal (not a dependant)
than any one during Byron's life at Venice, and would be a mine of
curious information if he could be led to open it. Hudson alone has
influence with him, and since I saw that woman's book I wrote to H.
about it.

"There is a most curious little volume just out by Persano, 'The Hero
of Lessa,' all about Cavour and Garibaldi, confirming everything I once
wrote you about Cavour's complicity and duplicity. Would you like a
short notice or review of it?

"My wife is most seriously ill, the rest all well."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Sept_. 26,1869.

"I have just read the O'D. about Canning to the Chief Baron, who has
been dining here with me, and I send it hoping you will laugh at it as
much as he did: he also liked the Fenian paper much, and I send them
both at once, as if you have anything to add, &c, there will be ample

"I never write a line now but O'D., and I only send you about one in
every five I invent, for the time is not propitious in new subjects.

"My poor wife continues seriously ill, and I am myself so worn by
watching and anxiety that I am scarcely alive."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 8,1869.

"I don't like delaying this O'D., though I thought at one time to keep
it till I had heard from you. The 'Austrian Free Press' has translated
the Austrian O'D. and the Persano one, and the German party seems
greatly pleased with the tone of the first, though of course the
Italians are indignant.

"I think you will like the bit about Baron Warde in this O'D. It was to
Lord Normanby I presented him, at a party at Scarlett's, who was then
British Chargé d'Affaires.

"I have little heart to do anything. My wife has had to submit to a
third operation, and cannot rally from the great nervous depression, and
has now ceased her only nourishment, wine.

"Loss of rest at night and want of fresh air by day have worn me so much
that I have no more energy left in me. Of course years have their share
in this, and I don't try to blink that.

"Chas. Reade has found a sympathetic critic who has forgotten none of
his merits; not but that on the whole I agree with him, and certainly
concur in the belief that Reade has got nothing like his deserts in
popular favour. The coarsenesses that disfigure him (and they do) are,
after all, not worse than many in Balzac, and no one disputes _his_

"They tell me that the Cabinet can't agree about the Irish robbery bill;
but I don't think the thieves will fall out, seeing how much booty they
have to divide elsewhere. It's rather a good joke to see a Whig
Radical Government trying to revive the Holy Alliance, and sending Lord
Clarendon over Europe to concoct alliances against France. The fear of
what will happen when L. N. dies is a strong bond of interest, and
in the common fear of a great Democratic revolution even Austria and
Prussia are willing to shake hands. Would it be well to O'Dowd them?

"I wish I had three days with you in your breezy atmosphere to shake off
my dumps and my dreariness."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sunday_, Oct. 10.

"As I have made a slight addition to the 'Canning' O'D., I do not like
to delay the proof beyond to-day, to which I waited in hope of a letter
from your uncle.

"I have no good news to send of my poor wife, and I am very low and
dispirited in consequence.

"I had a capital O'D. in my head this morning, but a bad sermon I have
just heard has driven it clean out of my mind. I am quite ready to
disendow my consular chaplain, and won't give him his Sunday dinner in

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 14,1869.

"Many thanks for your cheque, which I have this moment received.

"You are not, I think, quite just about the last two O'Ds. First of all,
an O'D. need not, nor can it, be always an epigram; it must occasionally
be an argument epigrammatically treated, and 'Close and the
Carmelite' is, I believe, such. The changed position of two Churchmen
(representatives as they are of schools of thought) is well worth
notice, and it would be well to show that the Dean's Protestantism is
not the national religion.

"As to the Volunteers, respect for what you think of them (and I do
not) always holds my hands when I allude to them. I would not take
a foreigner's opinion on an English _institution_, though I would
respectfully listen to his judgment on a professional matter,--as, for
instance, if N. were to talk of a cancer or an aneurism, I would accept
his competence to pronounce in the same way [as] when a French soldier
like MacMahon or Pallitan, or an Austrian such as Hess, or a Russian
like T., derides the idea of such bodies being called soldiers, and
advises England not to trust to such defence if the hour of invasion
approach. I really feel that it requires great self-restraint not
to speak out on an inefficiency made all the more insufferable by an
overweening vanity and bumptiousness of conduct (as witness the walk
past t'other day at Brussels) that makes one anything but proud of the
common countyship.

"Fortunately for your patience I am writing near the post hour, and I
must spare you a long discourse on these two themes that you do not seem
to think the world will much care for, but that I believe are both of
them the very subjects men will be inclined to talk over.

"I half doubted whether, after your dissatisfaction with what I thought
good and well-timed, I should forward this O'D. on 'Irish Queries '; but
it is a mere argument, treated Hibernically, and you will do what you
like with it.

"My home is a very sad one, and I see little prospect of brighter

"A serious revolt has just broken out in Dalmatia. The peasants refuse
to be enrolled in the Landwehr, and have risen, and, up to this,
resisted the troops with success. Of course the thing is deeper than a
mere local row, and being on the Montenegrin frontier, has an uncommonly
ugly look. Three thousand men have been despatched and two gunboats this
morning to Cáttaro, and there will be warm work there before to-morrow
evening. Austria is in that state that any one movement of her
incongruous nationalities may bring down the whole rotten edifice with a

"I think Sydney is 'brewing an MS.,' for I scarcely see her all day, and
she has a half conscious air of authorship at dinner."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 27, 1869.

"I send you I think a smart O'Dowd 'On the Misery of Singing without
an Accompaniment' (or rather, speaking without a brogue). I'm terribly
hipped: I wish to God I could get out of this! If nothing else offers,
perhaps I could get Elizabeth Barry to steal me: I'd make no objection
to her cutting off my curls, and as to my clothes, I'll be shot if she
could change them for worse."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 9, 1869.

"I have detained these proofs that I might hear from you; but the snow
has begun to make the passes difficult for the post, and I think it
better to despatch them. I hope you'll think them good. There was a
slaughter of the innocents last month--that is, if they ever reached

"If my poor wife had not been so dreadfully ill I believe I'd have
managed a trip to Suez. I had a pressing invitation, and it would have
been exciting enough for the mere strange gathering it brought about,
but my home anxieties are thickening every hour.

"You know we are in trouble here in Dalmatia. So far back as July
I warned Lord Bloomfield that there was mischief brewing, and that
Montenegro was preparing for an outbreak. Of course I never supposed
that a consular report would carry weight, but I wrote in a light
jocular strain that I thought might be attended to. The reply was: 'I
showed Beust your note, and he thinks you have been humbugged.' Now
I have the satisfaction of seeing B. make a very humble _amende_,
admitting that I knew more of what was menaced than his agent at

"Still the Austrians believe, or affect to believe, that Russia is
not in it; nor is she more than certain American politicians are in
Fenianism--that is, they want to see the chances of success before they
go farther. I hear that Gladstone has got a fright about Ireland, and
that his Land Bill will be 'Moderate and even Conservative'--in fact,
he begins to feel that dealing with Ireland means 'concession,' and when
you have given all you have, you've to make way for somebody else who'll
give something more. Bright is very much disgusted at the moderation of
the measure intended, and the Cabinet, I hear, not one-minded.

"All these things, however, open no prospect for a Tory Government,
and out of pure fear of what Gladstone would do, _if pushed to it_, the
squires will vote for him rather than risk--not their seats, but their

"The indifference foreign statesmen feel about England, and what she
thinks on anything now, exceeds belief. I declare to you I believe
Holland has as much weight in Europe.

"Would you like something about Suez?--I mean, about the trade
prospects, &c,--that is, if anything could be had new or striking. Up to
this the only speculation I have seen worth anything is how greatly
to our benefit the route would be if we had a war with America, for
we could certainly 'make the police' of the Mediterranean and Levant,
though not of the Atlantic and Pacific."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 29, 1869.

"I am still confined to the house with a feverish cold, and overrun by
travellers to and from Suez.

"The Dalmatian revolt is becoming a very serious affair. The peasants
are beating the troops, and now the season must stop all operations till
spring. Whether by that time the complication will not take wider limits
and embrace Servia and the Balkans, is not easy to see. That blessed
ally of ours, Louis Napoleon, is now intriguing to get a Russian
alliance and undo all the work of the Crimean campaign, and of course
our 'Non-interference Policy' will leave the coast free to him! Thank
God, his home troubles may overtake him before he goes much farther!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 11, 1869.

"Thanks for your note and its enclosure, and thanks, too, for telling
me that the deferred O'Ds. are not rejected ones, for I was getting
low-spirited at the number of recruits sent back as below the standard.
When I asked you to send me the unused, it was a painful confession. It
was like a manufacturer owning to his being reduced to work up his old
material. Perhaps I shall one of these days make an O'Dowd on 'Devil's
Dust in Literature.' What do you think of it?

"I hope you will like the 'O'Dowd' I send. It is meant to expose a very
common blunder respecting the influences of the better classes abroad.
You must ensure the correction yourself, and it will be the last I shall
forward this month. For the last week I have been keeping a dark room
with a severe ophthalmia. It was a dreary time, and I am glad it is

"Gladstone is going to propose a sort of Court of Arbitration for land
purposes--that is, another body of men to be shot at when the peasants
find landlords scarce, or what the sportsmen call 'wild.'

"This Dalmatian revolt must sleep during the winter, but it will be a
serious mischief yet, especially if this Franco-Russian alliance takes
place. Our policy now ought to be to reconcile Austria and Prussia at
once, and prepare for the big struggle that is coming to undo the
results of the Crimean War. I wish, if it be decided to represent
England abroad by old _women_, that at least they would send us old

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 14, 1860.

"I hope for both our sakes you are not quite just about the 'Pope' O'D.
I think it has a smack of Swift--a very faint one it may be, but still
enough to recall the flavour. The anecdote of the Yankee was not made
for the occasion, only it occurred to Sir J. Hudson, and not to O'Dowd.
Take them all in all, I have done better and worse; but I think with
those you have already on hand, they will make a fair batch.

"I hope you will like the 'Dr Temple' O'D. It, at least, is worked out.

"I am very poorly, and very low in spirits; my wife grows weaker every
day, and our anxieties are great. For the first time in my life I find
it a 'grind' to write a few lines. _Le commencement du fin_, maybe--who


_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Trieste, _Jan_. 4,1870.

"When I saw 'Maga' without me I began to feel as if I had died (hitherto
at Trieste I only believed I had been buried), and when your cheque
reached me this morning I pictured myself as my own executor! You
are most kind to bethink you of the necessities of this pleasant
season,--indeed I scarcely know anything of Christmas but its bills I
Still, I should be well content to have nothing heavier on my heart than
money cares, and I believe that is about as dreary a confession as a man
can well make.

"I am sorry to hear you have not been well, but I trust it is a thing of
the past already: I don't think either of us would be what is called a
good patient. I like the Homer Odyssey (?) greatly. I suspect I guess
the writer--that is, from a mere accident. 'Suez' is excellent, and
Stanley's opinion is that of the best German engineers also. Aren't you
flattering to my Lord of Knebworth? It was not, however, a 'good fairy'
gave him a wife.

"Sydney sends her love. She is going over to England in spring (at
least she says so, and I suppose I am bound to believe it) to pay that
Devonshire visit I interrupted last year."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 3,1870.

"In Stanley's clever article on 'Suez' for January there is a sketch
of an Italian travelling companion so like a portrait that we all here
fancy we recognise the man. It is the same who addresses the Empress
Eugénie so brusquely. If we be right, he is an old acquaintance of ours
called 'Campereo.' Pray, if occasion serve, ask if this be the man. It
is wonderfully like him at all events, and I could almost bet on it.

"I have been hoping to hear from you, and delaying to tell you--what
for me is a rare event--a piece of pleasant news. Sydney is about to
be married. The _sposo_, an Englishman, young, well educated,
well-mannered, and well off; he is the great millowner, paper
manufacturer, and shipbuilder of Austria, and has about £7000 a-year.

"I need not say it is a great match for a poor 'tocherless lass,' but
I can say that the man's character and reputation would make him
acceptable if he had only £500 a-year.

"To myself, overborne and distressed by the thought of how little I
had done for my children, and how wastefully and foolishly I had
lived,--spending my means pretty much as I did my brains, in bursts of
spendthrift extravagance, and leaving myself in both cases with nothing
to fall back on,--it is a relief unspeakable that one of my poor girls
at least is beyond the straits of penury.

"I know that you and Mrs Blackwood have a warm and kindly feeling
towards us, and you will be glad to hear of such good fortune. I do not
know that the excitement has been very favourable to my poor wife,
who can only look as yet to the one feature--that is, that she loses
a child's companionship; but I trust that in time she will see with me
that the event is one to be truly thankful for.

"The marriage is to take place on the 21st, and after a trip to Rome,
&c, they visit Paris, and on to London some time in April. Sydney
ardently hopes that you and Mrs Blackwood may be in town this season:
she longs to see you both again.

"I need not say I have done nothing but answer and write notes for the
last few weeks, and sit in commission over trousseau details, for which
how I am ever to pay I hope somebody knows--but _I_ do not. I remember
Fergus O'Connor saying that he could 'get in' for Mallow 'if he could
stand a dinner to his committee,' and I can fully appreciate that nice
situation at present.

"Mr Cook has been at me again in a pamphlet. It was only a few days back
he went through here with a gang, and I had determined to dine at
_table d'hôte_ with them, but was laid up with a heavy cold and sorely
disappointed accordingly.

"I hear from London that Dizzy is hopeful and in good heart, but of
what or why I cannot guess. Certainly the country is not
Conservatively-minded now, nor could the Tories succeed to power except
by repeating the Reform Bill dodge of outbidding the Whigs and then
strengthening the Radical party. That Dizzy is ready for this, and that
he would push a Land Bill for Ireland to actual commission, I can easily
believe; but are we not all sick of being 'shuttlecocked' between two
ambitious and jealous rivals? And is there not something else to be
thought of than who is to be First Lord of the Treasury?

"I see a book advertised called 'Varieties of Viceregal Life.' If I had
it I suspect I could make an amusing paper on it--that is, if the book
bore out its title."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 9, 1870.

"I have been hoping and hoping to have a line from you, and would still
go on waiting for it only that the 'O'Dowd' I now send is too 'apropos'
for delay. It is the only one I have written, but think you have still
one or two by you--'The Pope,' and 'Landlords and Limits.' I am terribly
knocked up,--such an attack on the chest,--and not able to leave my
room, and at a time when I am full of care and occupation.

"Lord Clarendon has written me a private and confidential about 'Cook
and the Excursionists,' who have petitioned him against me. Lord
Clarendon evidently foresees a 'question' to be asked in the House, and
wants an answer. Mine was that Cornelius O'Dowd was not in the Consular
service, nor, so far as I was aware, had he any relations with F.
O.; that he was a person who amused himself and, when he could, other
people, by ridiculing whatever was absurd, or in bad taste or manners,
or hypocritical in morals; and that being one who had followed the
avocation of a writing man for thirty years, he must be understood
to have acquired some notions, not only of the privileges but the
responsibilities of the pen; and that, finally, as Consul Lever, I had
no explanation to make Mr Cook, who first blackguarded me in print and
then appealed to my official superior.

"Sydney's marriage comes off Monday 21st. I am forced to say, like King
Frederic of Prussia, 'Another such victory would ruin me.' To be sent
to one's grave by milliners does seem a very ignoble destiny!--but a
bad bronchitis, aided by Brussels lace, has brought me to a state of
feverish irritability that, if it does not terrify me, certainly alarms
my family, and _con ragione_."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 3,1870.

"Perhaps you'll say 'dull as ditch water' was the inspiration as well as
the title of this 'O'Dowd/ and mayhap I won't deny it. It is, however, a
heartfelt cry over the dreariness of the time the 'whole world over,'
and I am sure many will acknowledge the truth of it.

"I know nobody jolly but Sydney. She writes me full accounts of Venetian
Carnival doings,--masques and gondoliers, &c, &c., and music on the
Grand Canal till daybreak.

"Here I am hipped and out of heart,--waiting, too, but for the
undertaker, I believe, for it is the only 'carriage exercise' I should
now care for.

"We had two smart shocks of earthquake yesterday. I thought that Cumming
was going to be right after all, but it passed off with nothing worse
than some tinkling of the teacups and a formidable swinging of the
lustre over our heads."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 6, 1870.

"The Whigs would like to blend up Fenianism and agrarian crime. _Now
they are not to be so confounded_. The National party is anti-English,
rebel, violent, cruel, anything you like, but the men _who shoot the
landlords are not the Fenians!_ It is a brief I should like well
to plead on, and you will see ere long that there will be many to
acknowledge its truth.

"Gladstone will carry his Bill, I'm sure, but if the Tories are adroit
they will make a complete schism in the Irish party and throw the
Catholic set so completely on the side of the Ministry as to disgust the
Protestant feeling of England. How I wish I had half an hour with Dizzy,
and that he would condescend to listen to me!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"March 15, 1870.

"I was glad to hear from you, and gladder to hear you liked the O'Ds.

"Sydney is away to Rome honeymooning it very pleasantly, and meeting all
manner of attentions, &c. The trousseau has spoilt my trip to town. I
have 'taken out' in white lace what I meant for 'whitebait,' and I
must try and screw on in life for one year more if I mean to see London
again. It was the celebrated Betty O'Dwyer that said to her legs,
'I'll take another season out of you before I'll give you to Tom

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"_March_ 16,1870.

"I have no patience with you for being ill. What I a fellow of something
and twenty, with a sound chest, six feet in his stockings, and a hunter
in top condition; what an ungrateful dog to Fortune you are!
Leave sickness to old cripples like myself,--hipped, dunned, and
blue-devilled,--with a bad balance at the bank, and a ruined digestion.
_You_ have no business with malady! Come over and see me here: the very
contrast will make you happy and contented.

"I hope, however, you are all right by this time. I'm sure you stick too
close to the desk. Be warned by _me!_ It was all over-application
and excessive industry ruined _my_ constitution; and instead of being
threatened to be cut off, as I am now, in the flower of my youth, I
might have lived on to a ripe old age, and all that rottenness that they
tell us makes 'medlars' exquisite.

"I send you a tailpiece to the O'D. Heaven grant that the Saxon
intelligence, for which I daily feel less veneration, should not suspect
me of being a Fenian in disguise, though if it should get me dismissed
from my consulate and turned out into the streets, I'd almost cry
hurrah! for, after all, picking oakum could scarcely be worse than
cudgelling my brains for what, after all the manipulation, can't be got
out of them."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 1,1870.

"I suppose 'Sanding the Sugar' reached you too late, or was it that you
don't like it? _I_ thought it was good, but needed careful going over
again and perhaps enlarging.

"I send you three now, and hope you will like them. I have been days
over them, and without getting on, for my poor wife's time of being
operated on again draws nigh, and her fear and nervousness have made her
seriously ill. For the last three nights I have been sitting up beside
her, and as I have been very 'creaky' some time back, this pressure has
pushed me very hard indeed.

"Many thanks for 'Piccadilly'; it is beautifully got up, and the style
and look of it perfectly faultless. I have re-read it, and like it
greatly,--indeed, I think more than the first time. In the little
touches of that brusqueness which the well-bred world affects, Oliphant
is admirable, and so removed from that low-world dialogue that vulgar
novelists imagine people in Society converse in. I am, however, not
surprised at the strange step he has taken in life; such extreme
fastidiousness could find no rest anywhere but in savagery, just as
we see incredulity take refuge in the Church of Rome: _les extrêmes se
touchent_ oftener in life than we suspect."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 5, 1870.

"I send you an 'O'Dowd' I hope will please you. I think it has more
'fun' in it than all my late ones,--though, God knows, I never myself
felt less disposed to drollery, for I am literally worn out with
watching beside my poor sick wife. I cannot bear to read, and it is a
blessing to me to run to the pen for distraction.

"The O'D. on Canning has been going the round of the Italian papers, and
I see one, the 'Eco de l'Arno,' has given a sort of series of extracts
from the O'Ds. called Leverania.

"I see Whiteside is in London. How I wish I could go over! I'd like to
have a dinner with you both. You'd be greatly pleased with him.

"I am told that the deadlock about the Education Bill is caused by the
opposition of the Irish Catholic bishops, who insist on denominational
schools--that is, having the whole grant for themselves. No bad idea
after all. I wish every consul, with a bald back to his head, should
have double salary.

"My best regards to Mrs Blackwood. Tell her she'll have her meals in
peace this time in London, but it isn't my fault after all."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 12, 1870.

"You gratify me much by what you say of these O'Ds. Failing health,
broken spirits, a very sad home, and many uncertainties are hard to
bear, but I believe I could face them all better than the thought of
'Brain bankruptcy.' To draw on my intellect and get for answer 'no
assets' would, I feel, overwhelm me utterly. Your hearty words have,
therefore, done me good service, and in my extra glass of claret--and I
will take one to-day--I'll drink your health.

"I am distressed at not getting the _April No. of 'Maga'_ yet; by some
accident it has been forgotten or miscarried, and it is a great comfort
to me to 'cuddle over.'

"My poor wife is still suffering intensely, and too weak to undergo the
operation, which is eminently necessary. She has at last, too, lost all
courage, and, I might almost say, wish to live. Much of this depression
is from actual pain, and all our efforts are now directed to allay that.
I never leave the house, or, if I do, go beyond the garden. Of course, I
admit no visitors, and scarcely remember the days of the week."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 15,1870.

"I think the title had better be 'Personal and Peculiar.' I have added
and changed the conclusion, whether for the better or not you shall
decide. There was some danger in saying more, and I might have found, if
I went on, that, as Curran says, I had argued myself _out_ of my brief.

"I have a half suspicion the Bill may break down after all,--not that it
signifies much, since the Tories could not take office with any chance
of holding it, but the mere failure would offend Gladstone, and even
that would be a comfort.

"I have no better news to send for this, and am low, low!

"Don't forget to send me 'Maga' for this month--April.

"Have you read Dickens' new serial, and what do you say to it? I am
curious to hear.

"We have a report here from Greece that the English Sec. of Legation and
a whole picnic party have been captured by the brigands, and an immense
ransom demanded."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 23, 1870.

"The blow has fallen at last, and I am desolate. My poor darling was
taken from me at two this morning, without suffering. It seems to me as
if years had gone over since she smiled her last good-bye to me. All the
happiness of my life has gone, and all the support. God's greatest mercy
would be to take me from a life of daily looking back, which is all that
remains to me now.

"You are, I feel, a true friend who will feel for my great sorrow, and I
write this as to one who will pity me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _May_ 28, 1870.

"Though I cannot read your note by any other light than an affectionate
desire to be of service to _me_, veiled under the notion that I could
be of any use to _you_; and though I say I see all this, and see besides
how little capable I now am of even a weak effort, I accept your offer
and write at once for leave of absence, which, between ourselves, I
do not think would be accorded me if it was guessed that I intended
to visit Greece. Indeed I _know_ that Mr Gladstone's Hellenism is
calculated on at Athens to sustain the Greek government through anything
that the public opinion of Europe would be likely to submit to.*

     * Mr Blackwood proposed that Lever should pay a visit to
     Greece, for the purpose of making investigations about an
     act of brigandage which had shocked the civilised world. A
     party of English tourists, which included Lord and Lady
     Muncaster, had been seized by brigands at Oropos, near
     Marathon. During the course of the negotiations for the
     ransom of the tourists, some members of the British Legation
     at Athens had been murdered. Many influential Greeks were
     conniving at the act of brigandage, and matters were at this
     time in a very disturbed condition in high quarters.--E. D.

"Erskine is an old friend of mine, but he is a very self-contained and
reserved fellow, who will reveal nothing, and I would be glad of some
Greek introductions to any persons not officially bound to sustain the
Queen's Cabinet. My wish would be to take the Constantinople boat
that leaves on Saturday next, the 4th, and reaches Athens on Thursday
following, 9th; but if my leave is not accorded me by telegraph I cannot
do this, and there is only _one_ boat in the week. I have to-day seen
a private telegram from M. W------, the Greek Minister to the Austrian
government here, saying that he is on the track of this most infamous
outrage, and that if his suspicion prove true, some men of political
eminence will have to fly from Greece for ever.

"I cannot thank you enough for your kind and affectionate remembrance of
me: it is very dear to me such friendship in this dark hour of my life.
There is something gone wrong with the action of my heart, and I have
short moments when it seems disposed to give in,--and indeed I don't
wonder at it.

"As there would be no time to send me letters here in reply to this,
write to me addressed British Legation, Athens--that is, taking for
granted that I shall start on Saturday next."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _June_ 4, 1870.

"I have looked out anxiously for a note from you these last couple
of days. I hope you got my telegram safely. Yesterday I received a
telegraphic despatch from F. O. saying my 'leave was granted,' and I
sail now in two hours. If I find that my heart disturbance--which has
been very severe the last couple of days--increases on me, I shall stop
at Corfu and get back again at my leisure. I do not know if there is
much to be learned at Athens that Erskine has not either gleaned or
_muddled_, but I will try and ascertain where the infamy began.

"I used once to think that the most sorrowful part of leaving home was
the sad heart I left behind me. I know now that there is something worse
than that--it is to carry away the sadness of a desolate heart with me.

"I believe the post leaves Athens for the Continent on Saturdays: if so,
and that I arrive safely on Thursday 9th, I shall write to you by that

"My affectionate remembrances to Mrs Blackwood."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Athens, Hôtel d'Angleterre, _June_ 9,1870.

"Here I am, in poor Vyner's quarters: but short as the time is since my
arrival, it has taught me that there is nothing, or next to nothing, to
be learned. The amount of lying here beats Banagher--indeed all Ireland.
However, I will try and make a _résumé_ of the question that will be
readable and, if I can, interesting.

"I am a good deal fagged, but not worse for my journey, and, on the
whole, stronger than when I started.

"I thought I should have had some letter from you here, but possibly
there has not been time.

"If Lord Carnarvon knew of my direct source of information it would be
of great use; for the Legation and Finlay, whom I have seen, are simply
men defending a thesis, and so far not to be relied on."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Athens, June 17,1870.

"I send you a hurried line to catch F. O. messenger, who is just
leaving. I want merely to say that I have got together a considerable
number of facts about brigandage altogether, and the late misfortune in
particular, and only wait till I get back to put them into shape. Keep
me a corner, then, not for next No. but August, and I hope I shall send
something readable.

"I have met much courtesy and civility here, but I am dying to get
home. My palpitations still trouble me, and if I don't actually faint, I
suppose it is that I don't know how.

"I have been anxiously looking out for letters from you, and now I am
off to Corinth, and shall work my way back through the islands.

"Do you know that if any of the blunders had failed, these poor fellows
would now have been alive! and even with the concurring mistakes of [?
], Erskine, and [? ], they would not have succeeded if the rains had not
swollen the streams and made them unfordable. It is the saddest story of
cross-purposes and stupidities I ever listened to in my life."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Trieste, _June_ 30,1870.

"I have just reached home, and send you at once what I have done, and
what may still require a page or two to complete. Not knowing where your
uncle is, and not liking to incur the delay of sending on a wrong errand
if he should have left London, I hope he may like what I have written,
which, whether good or bad, I can honestly declare has occupied all my
sleeping and waking thoughts these last four weeks, insomuch that I have
never looked at the [? proofs] of a story* that must begin next August
_à contrat_, and for which I can feel neither interest nor anxiety.
Indeed, I am in every way 'at the end of my tether,' my journey, and
certainly my heart symptoms are greatly diminished, and the sooner I
shut up altogether the better will it be for that very little scrap of
reputation which I once acquired.

     * 'Lord Kilgobbin.'

"I am very 'shaky' in health, but very happy to be again at home with my
dear girls, who never weary of kindnesses to me, and who would give me
comfort if I could be comforted."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 1,1870.

"Your letter just reached me by a late post as I was sending off this
packet. I write a line to thank you, and say how happy it made me to see
your handwriting again.

"My daughters find me looking much better for

"It is quite true 'this Greek story is a very strange one'; whether
we ever shall get to the bottom of it is very doubtful. I believe the
present Cabinet in Greece are dealing fairly with Erskine now,--partly
from a hope that it is the best policy--partly from believing that
England will resent heavily any attempt at evasion. Of Noel I have
great distrust; he has been brought up amongst Greeks--and even Greek
brigands--of whom he speaks in terms of eulogy and warmth that are (with
our late experiences) positively revolting.

"I hope you will like what I have written. I have given it my whole
thought and attention, and for the last four weeks neither talked,
reflected, or speculated on anything but the Marathon disaster. I saw
Finlay, who is very old and feeble, and I thought mentally so too.

"I wonder will the new Secretary at F. O. act energetically about
Greece? I have grave doubts that Gladstone will make conciliation the
condition of his appointment. We are in a position to do whatever
we like: the difficulty is to know what that should be. To cause the
misfortune [? ], the blunders of [? ] & Co. would not have succeeded
without the heavy rain that made the rivers impassable and retarded the
movements. In fact, such a combination of evil accidents never was heard
of, and had anybody failed in anything they did, the poor fellows would
now be living.

"I am glad to think Oliphant will come back to the world again,--these
genial fellows are getting too rare to spare one of the best of them to
barbarism. I should like to meet him again."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 9, 1870.

"I have just received your cordial note, and write at once to say how
sorry I am not to be able to do a sketch of Lord C[larendon]. First of
all, I have not anything that could serve to remind me of his career.
I know he was a Commissioner of Customs in Ireland, an Ambassador in
Spain, and a Viceroy in Dublin, but there ends my public knowledge of
him. Personally I only remember him as a very high-bred and courteous
gentleman, who made a most finished manner do service for wit (which
he had not), and a keen insight into life, especially foreign life, of
which he really only knew the conventional part. If I had the materials
for his biography I would not hesitate about the sketch, but it is as
well (for _you_) that I have not, for I should not do it well, and we
should both of us be sorry at the failure.

"I'll tell you, however, who could and would do it well, Rob. Lytton,
who married his niece, and is now at Knebworth. _He_ knew Lord C.
intimately, and had exactly that sort of appreciation of him that the
public would like and be pleased to see in print.

"I don't think Dickens' memory is at all served by this ill-judged
adulation. He was a man of genius and a loyal, warm-hearted, good
fellow; but he was not Shakespeare, nor was Sam Weller Falstaff.

"I hope you will like my Greek paper. I cannot turn my mind to anything
else, and must add some pages when I see the proof. I hear there will
be no Greek debate, as all parties are agreed not to discuss Lord C.'s
absurd concession about the ship of war to take off the brigands,--a
course which would have given Russia such a handle for future meddling,
and left us totally unable to question it.

"My journey has certainly done me good. My flurried action of the heart
has greatly left me, and except a sense of deep dreariness and dislike
to do anything--even speak--I am as I used to be.

"I'd say time would do the rest if I did not hope for something more
merciful than time and that shall anticipate time: I mean rest--long

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Aug_. 4, 1870.

"I was conning over the enclosed O'D. when your letter came this
morning,--and of late the post misses three days in five,--and I believe
I should have detained my MS. for further revision, but I cannot delay
my deepest thanks for your munificent remittance. I have not now to be
told so to feel how much more you were thinking of me than of Greece
when you advised this journey. Be assured that in the interest you felt
for me in my great sorrow I grew to have a care for life and a desire
to taste its friendships that I didn't think my heart was capable of. I
know well, too well, that I could not have written anything that could
justify such a mission--least of all with a breaking heart and an aching
head,--but I was sure that in showing you how willing I was to accept
a benefit at your hands I should best prove what a value I attached to
your friendship, and how ready I was to owe you what brought me round
to life and labour again. I do fervently hope the Greek article may be
a success; but nothing that it could do, nor anything that I might yet
write, could in any way repay what I am well content should be my great
debt to your sterling affection for me,--never to be acquitted--never

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 7, 1870.

"I am full sure that nothing but war will now be talked, and so I send
another bellicose 'O'Dowd' to make up the paper. I hope there may be
time for a proof; but if not, my hand is so well known to you now, and
you are so well aware of what I intended where I blotch or break down,
it is of less consequence.

"This Wissembourg battle was really a great success; and I don't care a
rush that the Prussians were in overwhelming numbers. May they always be
so, and may those rascally French get so palpably, unmistakably licked
that all their lying press will be unable to gloss over the disgrace.

"If L. Nap. gets _one_ victory he'll go in for peace and he'll have
England to back him; and I pray, therefore, that Prussia may have the
first innings, and I think _Paris_ will do the rest by sending the
Bonapartes to the devil."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 14.

"An idea has just occurred to me, and on telling it to my daughters
they wish me to consult with you on it. It is of a series of papers, the
_rationale_ of which is this:--

"All newspaper correspondence from the war being interdicted, or so
much restricted as to be of little value, I have thought that a mock
narrative following events closely, but with all the licence that
an unblushing liar might give himself, either as to the facts or the
persons with whom he is affecting intimacy, and this being done by Major
M'Caskey, would be rather good fun. I would set out by explaining how
he is at present at large and unemployed, making the whole as a personal
narrative, and showing that in the dearth of real news he offers himself
as a military correspondent, whose qualifications include not only
special knowledge of war, but a universal acquaintance with all modern
languages, and the personal intimacy of every one from the King of
Prussia to Mr Cook the excursionist. This is enough for a mere glimpse
of the intention, which, possibly, is worth consideration. Turn it over
in your mind and say has it enough in it to recommend it? I know all
will depend on how it is done, and I have no sanguine trust in myself
now, either for nerve or 'go,' and still less for rattling adventures,
but yet the actual events would be a great stimulant, and perhaps they
might supply some of the missing spirit I am deploring.

"I don't know that I should have written about this _now_, but the girls
have given me no peace since I first talked of it, and are eternally
asking have I begun Major M'Caskey's adventures. Your opinion shall
decide if it be worth trial."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Aug._ 29,1870.

"A post that takes seven days (and travels, I believe, over Berlin and
part of Pomerania) before it reaches Vienna, warns me to be early, and
so I despatch these two O'Ds. to see if you like them as part of next
month's envoy.

"Of course, people will admit of no other topic than the war or the
causes of it. As the month goes on new interests may arise, and we shall
be on the watch for them.

"Be assured 'The Standard' is making a grave blunder by its
anti-Germanism, and English opinion has _just now_ a value in Germany
which, if the nation be once disgusted with us, will be lost for ever.

"Even Mr Whitehurst of 'The Daily Telegraph' gives the Emperor up, and
how he defers his abdication after such a withdrawal of confidence is
not easy to say.

"I don't suspect that the supremacy of Prussia will be unmitigated gain
to us--far from it; but we shall not be immediate sufferers, and we
shall at least have the classic comfort of being the 'last devoured.'

"I hope you gave Lord Lytton and myself the credit (that is due to us)
of prophesying this war."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Sept_. 1, 1870.

"I have so full a conviction of _your_ judgment and such a thorough
distrust of my own, that I send you a brief bit of M'Caskey _for your
opinion_. If you like it, if you think it is what it ought to be and
the sort of thing to take, just send me one line by telegraph to say 'Go
on.' I shall continue the narrative in time to reach you by the 18th
at farthest, and enough for a paper. Remember this--the _real war
narrative_ is already given and will continue to be given by the
newspapers, and it is only by a _mock_ personal narrative, with the
pretentious opinions of this impudent blackguard upon all he sees,
hears, or meets with, that I could hope for any originality.

"My eldest daughter is very eager that I should take your opinion at
once, and I am sure you will not think anything of the trouble I am
giving you for both our sakes."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sep_. 2, 1870.

"What a kind thought it was to send me the slip with Corkhardt's paper!
It is excellent fun, and I send it to-day to the Levant to a poor
banished friend on a Greek island.

"I regard the nation that thrashes France with the same sort of
gratitude I feel for the man who shoots a jaguar. It is so much done in
the interests of all humanity, even though it be only a blackguard or a
Bismarck who does it.

"I send you an O'D. to make enough for a short paper with the other sent
on Monday last.

"I sent your uncle a specimen page of M'Caskey, but by bad luck I
despatched it on my birthday, the 31st August,* and, of course, it will
come to no good. It was Dean Swift's custom to read a certain chapter
of Job on his birthday, wherein the day is cursed that a man-child was
born. I don't go that far, but I have a very clear memory of a number
of mishaps (to give them a mild name) which have taken this occasion to
date from. It would be very grateful news to me to learn I was not to
see 'another return of the happy event,' but impatience will serve me
little, and I must wait till I'm asked for."

     * The statement here as to his birthday is sufficiently
     explicit   See vol. i p. 2.--E. D. the credit of reviewing
     'Lothair,' I am determined to say that these papers were
     written by Colonel Humbug!

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_ 11,1870.

"Since I got your 'go on' I have never ceased writing about M'Caskey.
Upon you I throw all the responsibility, the more as it has very nearly
turned my _own_ brain with its intrinsic insanity.

"I suppose I have sent you folly enough for the present month; and if
you will write me one line to say you wish it, I will set to work at
once at the next part and to the extent you dictate.

"Pray look fully to the corrections, and believe me [to be] not very
sane or collected."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 13, 1870.

"The post, which failed completely yesterday, brought me your three
proofs to-day. I now send a short, but not sweet, O'Dowd on 'Irish
Sympathy' (whose correction you must look to for me), but which is
certainly the best of the batch.

"I had hoped to have heard you mention the receipt of M'Caskey, whose
revelations on the war will only be of value if given at once. I also
sent off some additional matter for M'C. on Sunday last, and hope they
have arrived safely.

"I wish you would send me 'John' as a whole. If you should do so, send
it to F. O., to the care of F. Alston, Esq., to be forwarded to me. I do
not know of any novel-writer I like so well as Mrs. O., and if I could
get her to write her name in any of her books for me I'd treasure it
highly. She is the most womanly writer of the age, and has all the
delicacy and decency one desires in a woman."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 14, 1870.

"My sincere thanks for your note and its enclosure. It seems to me that
I do nothing but get money from you. I suspect, however, that you will
soon be freed from your pensioner. I am breaking fast, and as really the
wish to live on has left me, my friends will not grudge me going to my

"I am indeed glad that you like the O'Ds. I tear at least three for one
I send you, being more than ever fearful of that 'brain-breakdown' than
I am of a gorged lung or a dropsical heart.

"From your telegram about M'Caskey, I was disposed to think you wished
_the contribution for the October No._, and set to work at once to send
another batch. I do not now understand whether this is your intention.
Of course (if possible) it were all the better it were begun
immediately, because in the next part I could bring him up to recent
events, and make his impatient comments on actual occurrences more
outrageously pretentious and extravagant. You will tell me what you
intend when you write.

"Some Hungarians--great swells in their own land--have been here, and
are pressing the girls and myself to go to them a bit. It would be a
great boon to my poor daughters, and for them I would try it if I could,
but I have no heart for it. There was a time a month on the Danube would
have been a great temptation to me.

"I will tell Syd to write to you, and you're lucky if she does not do so
with an MS."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 16,1870.

"The war interruption delayed your proof, which only reached me this
morning, and as the second part must be in your hands before this, I am
hopeful that it will all appear in October No., so that by the No. in
November I may bring things down to the actual date of passing events.
I wish this because I know that the _apropos_ will be the chief merit of
the whole.

"When I can get him into diplomatic correspondence about the Peace, &c,
I think there should be some good fun; but I shall not go on till I hear
from you or see that this is out, as I always do best on the spur of

"This dictating to the King of Prussia how he ought to make peace, when
none of us saw or presumed to say how he should have made war, is to me
insufferable; and the simple question, 'How much moderation would
France have had had she reached Berlin?' settles the whole dispute. The
insolent defiance of the Parisians within about a week of eating each
other is a proof that these people may be thrashed and scourged, but the
outrageous self-sufficiency cannot be squeezed out of them. I have not
a shadow of pity for them, and it is without any remorse that I see them
going headlong to--Bismarck!

"Victor Hugo's address to the Germans beats not only Banagher, but beats
Garibaldi in high-flown absurdity. Dear me! to think what old age can
do for a man! What a warning to us small folk when we see a really great
head come to such Martin Tupperism as this. Perhaps, however, it is a
law of nature, and that poets, like plums, should be taken before they

"Let me have even one line from you if I'm to go on with M'C."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 21,1870.

"In the hope that M'Caskey has reached in time and makes his bow next
month, and seeing that as events go fast he must stir himself to keep up
with them, I have never quitted him since I wrote. I therefore send off
two chapters, whose headings I defer till I see the print, and will, if
you approve, bring him up to Sedan in the ensuing parts for the November

"The absurd idea has got such hold of me that I cannot free myself of
it even for a moment, and if the reader only catches my _intention_ the
thing will have a chance of success. In fact, I want to try a mild
and not _offensive_ quiz on all 'sensational' reporting. M'Caskey,
fortunately, is a fine lay figure for such humbug, and being already in
part known through 'Tony Butler,' needs no introduction.

"I do not, honestly speaking, know whether the notion is a good one, or
whether I am doing the thing well or ill; my only guide (and it once was
a safe one) is the pleasure I feel in the writing, and this though I
am in no small bodily pain, and cannot get one night's rest in four--a
great drawback to a poor devil whose stronghold was sleep through

"Do write to me. I cannot tell you the amount of direction and comfort
your letters give me."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 30, 1870.

"I am disappointed on hearing that M'Caskey does not appear this
month, and perhaps more so because I concur in the reasons for the
postponement. I suppose, however, that once the great tension we now
feel about these events is relieved, even by a short interval, we shall
not be reprehended for the small levities which we extend to certain
people and situations, by no means among the most serious interests of
the hour.

"Of course I am sorry not to be in England at this time. There is
scarcely a telegram of the day without its suggestion; but I have less
regrets as I think how feeble and broken I am, and how low and depressed
I feel, even at the tidings that might rally and cheer me.

"I am greatly gratified by your message from Mrs Oliphant, and I shall
treasure a book from her hand as a very precious possession. She is a
charming writer, and carries me along with her in all her sympathies;
and I shall never forget the pleasure her books gave to the sick-bed
wherein all my hopes rested."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 22, 1870.

"As I am fairly knocked up at last--my malady making fierce way with me
within the last week or so--I send you what I have done of M'Caskey. You
will see that I have adhered to the _actual_ incidents of the campaign,
though I fear I have not been remarkable for a truthful construction of
them. When I see this in print, and hear what you say of it, I shall be
better able, and perhaps stronger, to deal with it.

"From four o'clock I cannot sleep with pain, and to a sea-calf like
myself, who requires about a double measure of sleep, you may imagine
the injury.

"The ladies' wardrobe seized at Worth is a pure fact, and mentioned by
'The Times,' &c.

"If I could have counted on a little health and strength, I'd have asked
you to let me translate the plays of Terence for your Ancient Classics.
I have some trick of dialogue, and used to enjoy the 'Adrian' as much as
one of Molière's. I cannot now dream of this: my own comedy has come to
the fifth act, and I actually am impatient for the fall of the curtain."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov._ 8,1870.

"From a line in a newspaper I learned the great disaster that had
befallen you, and felt for you with all my heart. It is a true
consolation, the thought that those we love are in every way more
mercifully dealt with by removal, and I have that feeling as the
stronghold of my own poor support--after years of struggle with what
could not be cured; but still the grief is _there_, and only time makes
us able to reason with it. I am shamed when I read your letters to
perceive how much I must have talked of my own health. I try at home to
skulk the subject, but I see I am not so successful when I sit down
to my desk. I am failing very fast, strength and spirits are going
together, and I really see no reason to wish it otherwise. I only pray
that with such faculties as I have I may live on to the end, and that
the end may not be far off. My dear girls are doing all that they can
think of to make my life easy and comfortable, and when I am free from
pain I try to occupy myself and take interest in what I am doing.

"I had intended to wait your proof before sending a short additional
part of M'Caskey, but if I have it ready, I believe I shall send it at
once. Of course the proof will depend on you. I strongly suspect that
Bismarck was endeavouring to get up a _querelle d'Allemand_ with us
about neutrality, which certainly carried the nation with him, and might
be found useful when, at the close of the war, he either determined to
take Luxembourg or assume towards England a defiance--which, without
some pretext, would have been impolitic, if not impossible. He has
certainly so far worked on the German mind as to make them regard the
splendid munificence of England with distrust and almost dislike. With
all this, it was a gross stupidity of the Tories to be French in their
sympathies, but certainly the readiness with which they made a wrong
choice where there is an alternative looks like something more than

"It does seem scant justice to make a whole people responsible for the
inflated rubbish of Victor Hugo, but still, any one that knows France,
knows that this senseless bravado is exactly what supplies the peculiar
spirit of the nation, and that nearly all that dash and _élan_ which is
accepted as irresistible was only unconquerable by our own consent, and
by a sort of conventional agreement.

"I think I remember Mr Wynne, a nice fellow, but an atrocious whist
player. I have some dim recollection of having abused his play, and
I hope he has lived to forgive me and can bear to think of me without

"I wish I had had his campaigning opportunities,--not that I have the
most fragmentary faculty of observation, but there is a colour and a
keeping over all that one calls up in memory, which nothing replaces,
and certainly Major M'Caskey would have been not only 'circumstantial'
but occasionally 'correct' if he had known how. I thought I was
imagining a very boastful and pretentious rascal, who had few scruples
in assuring himself to be a man of genius and a hero, but I have just
read the new preface to 'Lothair,' and I actually feel Major M'Caskey to
be a diffident and retiring character, very slow to put forward a claim
to any superiority, and on the whole reluctant to take any credit for
his own abilities."

_To Mr John Blackwood_.

"Trieste, Nov. 11, 1870.

"While waiting for the proof of M'C. I finish the part for December. I
now suspect that the war will go on to an attack on Paris, and mean to
bring the next No. up to the _actual_ events of the day. It is only
by exhibiting him as an audacious liar that his impertinences on the
correspondent class could be tolerated, but they will surely not be
touchy at being called to account by such a critic.

"The Imperial correspondence now published shows it is scarcely possible
to invent anything too bold or too outrageous for belief, and the
absolute vulgarity of the State contrivances and expedients is not the
least remarkable part of the whole. If I ever get to the diplomacies of
the war I shall have some fun.

"Of course the present part must look to yourself for correction.

"'The Observer' has a short notice of M'C. this week, and 'The Sun'
another and more civil.

"Have you seen that the Emperor in his pamphlet endorses the very
strategy recommended by M'Caskey--the attack on Central Germany?"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 14.

"It is not fair to pelt you with my 'letters' as well as my
'literature,' and you may reasonably claim some immunity on the former

"I remember a very important Englishwoman--she wrote a book called 'The
Unprotected Female in Norway'--once stopping me in the street on the
ground that 'no introduction was necessary, as I was _a public man_.'

"I send you back M'C, which reads in places so like reality; but on the
whole I think it will do, and hope you think so too.

"Sir H. Seymour writes me word that he believes he is going to succeed
to Lord Hertford's Irish estates, a bagatelle of £70,000 per an.! I know
of none more deserving of good fortune.

"'John' reached me after my note was closed, with a charming note from
Mrs O.

"Have you heard--that is, have I told you--that the 'Neue Presse of
Vienna' quotes M'Caskey as a veritable correspondent? But the General
Brialmont did more. In his 'Life of Napoleon' he states, 'Mon. Charles
O'Malley raconte que,' &c, &c."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 20, 1870.

"There is a new complication, and for _us_ I suspect a worse one than
all--a Russian war! I believe that every one abroad knew that if even
France had not the worst of it, the mere fact of her having gone through
a stiff campaign, and been crippled of men and money by the effort,
would have suggested to the Russians that _now_ was the time to deal
with 'the sick man.' The inducement on seeing France totally disabled
was too tempting, and they have denounced the treaty which they had
determined not to assail before next spring.

"You know better than I do what people at home are disposed to do, and
what's more, what they _can_ do. By the newspapers I gather that at last
the English people are aware that they have no army; and as a fleet,
even if it floats, cannot fight on dry land, we are comparatively
powerless in ourselves. Of course we could subsidise, but whom? Not the
Austrians, though I see all the correspondents say so, and even tell the
number they could bring into the field and the places they would occupy,
&c.: and our Ambassador at Vienna, I hear, writes home most cheery
accounts of the Austrian resources. Now I _know_ that if Austria were to
move to-morrow, her Slavic population, quite entirely in the hands and
some in the pay of Russia, would rise and dismember the empire. Imagine
Fenianism not only in Meath and Kerry but in Norfolk, Yorkshire, and
Kent, and then you can have some idea of the danger of provoking such a
rebellious element as the Austrian Greek.

"A friend just arrived from Florence tells me that the King made an
ostentatious display of his cordiality to the Turkish Minister a few
nights ago, and that we can have 150,000 Italians to come down to such
assistance. Perhaps to accept the help might be regarded as a compromise
by the Peace party in England. It is like the very small child of the
unchaste young lady.

"A Cabinet courier went through here to-day for Constantinople, _the
Danube route being judged no longer safe_, which is very significant:
but what are we to do?

"Have you reviewed Henry Bulwer's 'Life of Palmerston'? I hear it very
well spoken of. Bulwer has all the astuteness to relish the _raserie_
of Pam, and I understand what the world at last sees was his mock
geniality. But what would we not give to have Lord Palmerston back
again, and some small respect felt abroad for the sentiment and wishes
of England!"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 4,1870.

"I am so convinced of your better judgment, that when I differ from you
I am ready to withdraw a favour and take your verdict. In the present
case you will, however, see that 'Pall Mall' of the 29th has ventured on
'quizzing' war incidents and correspondents as freely, and I don't think
more successfully, than myself.

"At all events, you are the only competent judge of the matter, and I
can't move pleas in demurrer, and if it be not safe, don't print him or
use him.

"I only write a very hurried line to say so much, and now go back to a
sofa again, for I am crippled with gout and worse--if there be a worse.

"I am not up to writing: the last thing I had done was an 'interview'
of M'C. with the Emperor at Metz, and it is dangerously near the
waste-paper basket at this writing."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 22, 1870.

"I am so low and _découragé_ that I have little heart to send you the
two O'Ds. that go with this.

"The Gortschakoff one is, I think, smart; the other is only original. If
the world should offer, meanwhile, matter for a third, I'll try and take
it _toute fois_ if it be that you like and approve of these.

"I am going more rapidly downward than before. I suppose I shall run
on to spring, or near it. Though, like Thompson's argument for lying in
bed, 'I see no motive for rising,' I am quite satisfied to travel in the
other direction.

"I don't wonder that the British world is growing French in sympathy.
The Prussians are doing their very utmost to disgust Europe, and with a
success that cannot be disputed.

"I hope, if you in England mean war with Russia, that you do not count
on Austria. She will not, because she cannot, help you; and a Russian
war would mean here dismemberment of the empire and utter ruin. If
Austria were beaten, the German provinces would become Prussian; if she
were victorious, Hungary would dominate over the empire and take the
supremacy at once. Which would be worse? I really cannot say."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_ 29,1870.

"I give you all my thanks for your kind letter, which, owing to the deep
snow in Styria, only reached me to-day. I am, of course, sorry the world
will not see the fun of M'Caskey as do the Levers, but it is no small
consideration to me to be represented in that minority so favourably.

"Poor Anster used to tell of an Irish fortune so 'tied up' by law that
it could not be untied, and left the heirs to die in the poorhouse.
Perhaps my drollery in the M'Caskey legend is just as ingeniously
wrapped up, and that nothing can find it. At all events, I have no
courage to send you any more of him.

"I am told (authoritatively) that Paris will give in on the 15th
January, but I scarcely believe it. The Germans have perfectly succeeded
in making themselves thoroughly unpopular through Europe, and this mock
anger with England is simply contemptible. If this insolence compels us
to have a fleet and an army, we shall have more reason to be grateful to
than angry with them; but how hard either with Childers or Cardwell? and
how to get rid of the Whigs?

"Gladstone's letter to the Pope would be a good subject to 'O'Dowd,'
but I cannot yet hit on the way. It is, however, a little absurd for a
Minister to be so free of his outlying sympathies when he is bullied by
America, bearded by Russia, and Bismarcked to all eternity.

"I am glad to hear of Oliphant. It gives great interest to the
correspondence to remember a friend's hand in it.

"I have been always forgetting to ask you about Kinglake. A bishop who
came through here said he had died last autumn. Surely this is not true.
I hope not most sincerely."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 15, 1871.

"I am now on my twelfth day in bed, somewhat better at last, but very
low and depressed. I had, before I was struck down, begun an 'O'Dowd,'
but how write for a public that buys 150,000 copies of 'Dame Europa's
School'! Is there any use in inventing epigrams for such an auditory?
Tomorrow is the black day of the post, and can bring me no letter, or I
should not bore you with this."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Fiume Istrica, _Feb_. 28,1871.

"Your kind letter and its enclosure reached me safely here, where I have
been sent to refit. I believe the word suits, as I have got fluid in my
pericardium, and my condition is therefore one of being water-logged,
which means unseaworthy, but not yet gone down.

"The Gladstone request to Robinson to falsify the date of his letter is
too atrocious; and as the 'O'Dowds' are made of certain subtle analysis,
this case cannot be so treated, there being fortunately no parallel
instance to put against it.

"As to old Russell: he was instructed to bark, and he went farther, and
growled; but as Bismarck knew he was muzzled, there came nothing of it.

"My impression is the Turks are going to throw us over and make
alliances with Russia, and seeing how utterly powerless we are, small
blame to them. England is rapidly coming to the condition of Holland. I
think another fifty years will do it, and instead of the New Zealander,
a Burgomaster will sit on London Bridge and bob for eels in the muddy

"So you mean to be in town this April? Not that I have any hope of
meeting you. Tell Mrs Blackwood for me how glad I should be to spoil her
breakfast once more!"

_To Dr Burbidge._

"Trieste, _March_ 26, 1871.

"Your letter found me at Rome, where I had been sent for a change of
air. It was my first visit to Sydney since her marriage, and I enjoyed
myself much, and threw off my cough, and could get up stairs without
blowing like a grampus.

"I cannot tell you how sincerely I thank you for your letters. I know of
no man but yourself from whom I should have liked to have letters on the
same theme, and if my illness did not make me as reflective as you hoped
for, your letter has given me much thought.

"It is easy enough for a man to mistake deep dejection for reflection,
and so far I might have deceived myself, for I have been depressed to a
state I never knew till now.

"I am cared for and watched and loved as much as is possible for a man
to be, and all the while I am companionless. The dear friend who was
with me through every hour of my life is gone, and I have no heart for
any present [? or future] occupation without her. My impatience is even
such, that I do not like those signs of returning health that promise to
keep me longer here; and I trust more complacently in breaking up
than in anything. With all this, your letter has been a great--the
greatest--comfort I have yet felt, and your affection is very dear to
me. I think I know how only such warm friendship would have taken the
tone and the words you use, and it comes to me like water to a man

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Wednesday_, March 29.

"I believe what I now send you is good, but I will not be certain till
I hear you are of the same mind. The truth is, I am so broken in courage
as well as health, that it is only the continued insistence of my
daughters drives me to the desk at all, and they are perhaps only minded
thereto by seeing the deep depression in which I live, and which they
ascribe to idleness.

"I hope at all events to hear from you soon, with tidings of the great
paper, and if soon after with proof of the present, _tant mieux_.

"I believe I have seen my last of London, and I am sorry for it, and
sorrier not to see you again,--not but I feel you would scarce care to
meet me, depressed and low-spirited as I am now.

"I have just seen the aide-de-camp the Emperor here sent to Berlin, and
who had a confidential interview with Bismarck.

"The Prussians are furious with us, and not over friendly with Russia.
Bismarck even said that if Austria should be attacked by Russia they
will stand by her, but not support her in any aggressive policy. He
added, 'Do what you like with Turkey, but don't interfere with the
German rights on the Danube.'"

"If Bright had been still in the Ministry I could have understood Henry
Bulwer being made a peer as a subtle attack on the House of Lords. What
it means now I cannot guess.

"If I was not an official with a uniform and a quarter day (both
d------d shabby), I'd make an O'D. on the Princess's marriage in this
way. The Queen, seeing the impossibility of elevating English democracy,
sees that she has but one other thing to do, which is to come down to
it. This is like old Sheridan, when appealed to by a drunken man in the
gutter, 'Lift me up, lift me,' replying, 'I can't lift you up, but I'll
lie down beside you.'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 16, 1871.

"I have got a short leave, and having determined to venture on the road,
I mean to start on Wednesday, and, if I can, reach town by Saturday
next. My plan is--as I want to go over to Ireland--to do my 'Irishries'
until such time as you arrive in London, where, I need not say, I have
no object more at heart than to meet you and Mrs Blackwood.

"If I could manage a rapid run south and west in Ireland, I'll try what
I could do as 'A Last Glimpse of Ireland,' and only wish I had a little
more strength and more spirit for the effort.

"Write me a line to meet me in town (at Burlington Hotel) to say when I
may hope to see you--to see you both, I mean."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"[? London] _Tuesday_, April 25, 1871.

"What with being nearly driven over ten times a-day, and the certainty
of being over-dinnered at night, I have a perilous time of it here.

"I was delighted to get your cordial note, and more so to count upon
seeing you so soon, and I hope, too, Mrs Blackwood with you. My plans
are to visit Ireland at once, so as to have as much of London as I can
when you shall have arrived.

"How I would wish to have you over with me in Ireland, but I suppose the
thing is impossible.

"I have got an autumn invitation to Sir Healy Maxwell, and if we could
manage it perhaps we could then make a little Killarney excursion
together. _Nous en parlerons!_

"I wish I may see and be able to record something in my new ramble worth
sending to 'Maga,'--at least I will try.

"They tell me here that the Tories might come in at any moment by a snap
vote with the Radicals, but that they are too wise to be tempted.

"I hear that Tichborne is certain to win his suit: indeed fabulous odds
are laid in his favour."

_To Mr Alexander Spencer._

"Garrick Club, London, _April_ 25, 1871.

"I am here in the midst of civilities and attentions more than enough
to turn my poor head; but I mean to run over to Ireland and be there on
Sunday next, and, if not inconvenient, would ask you to tell Morrison's
people to keep a room for me as low down--that is, with as few steps to
mount--as they can, always provided that the room be large and airy.
I intend to take some hurried rambles through the south and west to
refresh memories and lay in new stores, if I can." Lever arrived in
Ireland at the end of April. He was in excellent spirits, and apparently
in a more even frame of mind than he had been during his previous visit.
Again he found himself in a vortex of dining, whisting, talking, and
laughter. Lord Spencer, who was Viceroy of Ireland at this period, made
the author of 'Lord Kilgobbin' his guest for some days at the Viceregal
Lodge. Lever "charmed and entertained" Lord and Lady Spencer. Bishops,
military folk, judges, doctors, professors, vied with each other for
the privilege of securing the novelist's company at dinner-tables and
receptions. Morrison's hotel, where he had engaged rooms, was besieged
by callers. One of these gives a very pleasant glimpse of the Irish
novelist. "I found him seated," he says, "at an open window, a bottle of
claret at his right hand and the proof-sheets of 'Lord Kilgobbin' before
him. It was a beautiful morning of May: the hawthorns in the College
park were just beginning to bloom.... He looked a hale, hearty,
laughter-loving man of sixty. There was mirth in his grey eye, joviality
in the wink that twittered on his eyelid, saucy humour in his smile, and
_bon mot_, wit, and rejoinder in every movement of his lips. His hair,
very thin but of a silky brown, fell across his forehead, and when
it curtained his eyes he would jerk back his head--this, too, at some
telling crisis in a narrative.... He made great use of his hands, which
were small and white and delicate as those of a woman. He threw them
up in ecstasy or wrung them in mournfulness--just as the action of the
moment demanded.... He was somewhat careless in his dress, but clung to
the traditional high shirt-collar.... 'I stick to my Irish shoes,' he
said. 'There is no shoe in the world--or no accent either--equal to the
Irish brogue.'" Trinity College decided to confer upon him the title
of Doctor of Laws--the actual bestowal of the title did not take place
until July--and played whist with him. The University Club gave a dinner
in his honour. Standing with his back to a chiffonnier, he remarked to a
friend that most of the old faces had disappeared. "You still have some
friends at your back," said his companion; and turning to see who they
were, the novelist beheld some volumes of his own writings. Taking up
'Harry Lorrequer,' he observed, "A poor thing. How well Phiz illustrated
it!" One of the calls he made during this visit to Dublin was at the
house of Sheridan le Fanu. The author of 'Uncle Silas' was in an extra
gloomy mood, and he denied himself to his old comrade. He was more
fortunate with another friend, Sir William Wilde. Lever was beginning to
suffer from dimness of sight. The eminent oculist assured him that there
was nothing radically wrong with his eyes--that the difficulty arose out
of late suppers. Every one who met him during his last visit to Dublin
declared that 'Lorrequer' had never been so agreeable, so fascinating,
so buoyant. The ramble through the south and west of Ireland was not
undertaken. Dublin festivities had weakened the novelist's will. He said
goodbye to Ireland in May, and made a short stay in London. He enjoyed
again in London the company of all that was bright and lively, himself
the brightest and liveliest. He made some heavy losses at whist, but
his ill-luck had a sunny side. It encouraged him to call upon Mr W. H.
Smith, whose firm now owned most of his copyrights; and Mr Smith, it is
said, gave Lever a very considerable sum of money on account of payments
to be made to him for a series of autobiographical prefaces to his

_To Mr Alexander Spencer._

"Trieste, _June_ 14, 1871.

"It is in no ingratitude for all the hospitalities and courtesies I have
lately received that I say I was glad to be once more in my cottage, and
back in the calm, quiet, and comfortable little crib I call my home.

"I was present in court at the Tichborne examination of Thursday last,
and a more miserable spectacle of evasion, falsehood, and shame I never
witnessed; but in these depreciations of the man's character I see no
reason to dispute his identity,--on the contrary, the blacker he is, the
more, to my thinking, he is a Tichborne. At the same time, juries do
not confine themselves to the issue they have to try, but are swayed by
moral reasons outside the legal ones, and may in all likelihood scruple
to endow with fortune such a palpable scoundrel.

"My last dinner in London was with Ballantine, and he persists in
believing the claimant to be the real man; but I do not perceive that he
is confident of the verdict."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 2, 1871.

"I am so anxious to be early that I send you the three O'Ds. I have
written this very moment. I have finished them, and so near post hour
that I have scarce time for a line to say that I am at home again, and
have brought back a fair stock of the good health my visit to town gave
me, and a large budget of the pleasure and kind flatteries which every
one bestowed on me when there,--narratives my daughters delight in, and
in which your name and your wife's come in at every moment and to meet
all our gratitude in recognition.

"I hope you will like the O'Ds., and think they have not lost in vigour
because of my late excesses in turtle and whitebait.

"When you send me a proof, tell me all you think of them, and if
anything occurs to me in the meanwhile, I'll speak of it.

"Tichborne I incline to think the real man, and the blacker they make
him the more certainly they identify him: so far I regard Coleridge as
his best advocate. Of course, I must not speak of the case till it is

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 5, 1871.

"As I had finished the enclosed O'D., I read how Trinity had made me
LL.D. The degree must not be exported to me in gratitude. I really
believe a large amount of what I have said, which is more than can be
asserted by Tichborne, or the man who says he is Tichborne.

"It is a great grief to me that I cannot say what I think of that
curious trial, and all that I should like to say of the solicitor to the
Crown's examination; but I see it would be too dangerous, and, to use
his own style, I might ask myself, 'Would you not be surprised to hear
that an attachment was issued against you?'"

"The hot weather has begun here, and in such honest earnest that I can
do nothing but hunt out a dark cool corner and go to sleep.

"I am very sorry not to be in Ireland now, when the [? ] have been
invited to the Exhibition banquet on the 20th; but I have done with
banquets now, and must address myself to my maccaroni with what appetite
I may."

_To Mr William Blackwood._

"Trieste, _July_ 13, 1871.

"I should have liked to have detained these proofs until I heard what
your uncle might have to say to them, but I am afraid of delay, and send
them back at once. My hope is that he will like them, though I cannot
dare to think that my chief, Lord Granville, will approve of what I say
of his speech at the Cobden dinner. At any rate, if they kick me out,
I can go home and be a rebel, and if too old for a pike I am still good
for a paragraph.

"All that London life with its flatteries and fat-feeding has sorely
unfitted me for my cold mutton v. existence at home; but it cannot be
helped, and I must try to get back into the old groove and work along as

"There is now a dull apathy over life--the consequence of all our late
excitement; but we cannot always afford to pay for 'stars,' and Bismarck
is too costly an _artiste_ to keep always on the boards. From all I
see, the French are just as insolent and bumptious as before they were
licked,--showing us, if we like to see it, what the world would have had
to endure had they been the conquerors!

"It is a sore grief to me that I cannot go to the Scott festival; but I
have no leave and less money, and though I believe F. O. might grant me
the one, they'd even stop my pay, which is the aggravation of insult.

"I hope sincerely you don't feel it a matter of conscience to read all
a man writes, for if so I'd shut up. Only assuring you that now we have
met and shaken hands, it is with increased pleasure I write myself,
yours sincerely, Chas. Lever."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 6, 1871.

"_En attendant_ to writing you a long letter, I send you these 'O'Dowds'
now, which will give us more time to discuss them.

"That on our 'National Donations' is, I hope, good. I know it is called
for. The shabby scoundrels from Manchester that want to manage England
like a mill and treat the monarch like an overseer deserve castigation,
and I feel you will agree with me. Is not 'Meat without Bone' good
enough for use?

"I am so sorry not to be able to say all the civil things I should like
to say of the Solicitor-General now, for when the trial is over I shall
not be able to revive my generous indignation to the white heat it now

"Why don't you tell me some popular theme to O'Dowd? I'm here, as they
say in Ireland, 'at the back of good speed,' and know nothing.

"A very curious trial occurred five years ago in Austria on a disputed
identity, and the man questioned substantiated his case. It would be
interesting if a correct record could be had.

"Ballantine tells me that Jeune is gone to Australia, and will be back
in November with proofs of the loss of the _Bella_, names of survivors,
and existence in the colony of Arthur Orton up to November last. B. is
sure of a verdict--at least, he is sure of his right to it."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 5, 1871.

"It is time I should thank you and Mrs Blackwood for your cordial
invitation to myself and my daughter to go and see you in Scotland, and
we are only too sorry we cannot manage you a visit, and in talk--for it
is all that is left us--to ride over the links of Fife, and even assist
at golf.

"Even if I could have plucked up courage to go over now, I 'stopped'
myself by letting my 'vice' go on leave,--a piece of generosity on my
part that has cost me heavier than I thought for, and gave me nearer
opportunities of intimacy with Cardiff captains and Hull skippers than I
care for.

"Of course, it is out of the question trying to write except on my 'off
days,' when I shut out the whole rabble.

"I begin to think that Gladstone has been carried away by pure anger in
all his late doings. It is purely womanish and hysterical throughout. To
hit off this I have thrown off the short 'O'Dowd,' 'What if they were to
be Court-martialled?' which, with a little change, will perhaps do.

"It is one of those cases which will be as long kept before the public,
for it is the attack on a great principle--and in that sense no mere
grievance of the hour.

"As a means of lowering the House of Lords--if such was the
intention--it has totally failed, and even 'Pall Mall' has come to the
side of the Peers, which is significant.

"I see Seymour, my old friend, has got his first verdict in the Hertford
case. It is £70,000 a-year at issue, but of course the great battle will
be fought before 'the Lords,'"

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 17,1871.

"About half an hour after your pleasant letter and its handsome
enclosure reached me, Langford came in. He was on his way to Venice,
but, like a good fellow, stopped to dine with myself and daughter.

"We are delighted with him,--not only with his talk about books and
writers, Garrick men and reviewers, but with his fine fresh-hearted
appreciation of all he sees in his tour. He likes everything, and
travels really to enjoy it.

"I wish I knew how to detain him here a little longer; though, God
knows, no place nor no man has fewer pretensions to lay an embargo on
any one.

"I took him out to see Miramar last evening, and we both wished greatly
you had been with us. It was a cool drive of some miles along the
Adriatic, with the Dalmatian mountains in front, and to the westward the
whole Julian Alps snow-topped and edged. I know you would have enjoyed

"I am so glad you like the O'Ds. As I grow older I become more and more
distrustful of all I do; in fact, I feel like the man who does not know
when he draws on his banker that he may not have overdrawn his account
and have his cheque returned. This is very like intellectual bankruptcy,
or the dread of it, which is much the same.

"The finest part of Scott's nature to my thinking was the grand heroic
spirit--that trumpet-stop on his organ--which elevated our commonplace
people and stirred the heart of all that was high-spirited and
generous amongst us. It was the anti-climax to our realism and
sensationalism--detective Police Literature or Watch-house Romance.

"This was the tone I wanted to see praised and recommended, and I was
sorry to see how little it was touched on. The very influence that
a gentleman exerts in society on a knot of inferiors was the sort of
influence Scott brought to bear upon the whole nation. All felt that
there was at least one there before whom nothing mean or low or shabby
should be exhibited."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Aug_. 28, 1871.

"The day after Langford left this, my horse, treading on a sharp stone
that cut his frog, fell on me and crushed my foot,--not severely, but
enough to bring on the worst attack of gout I ever had in my life, and
which all my precautions have only kept down up to this from seizing on
the stomach. My foot was about as big and as shapely as Cardwell's head.
I am now unable to move, and howl if any one approaches me rashly.

"I told Langford of a curious police trial for swindling here at
Vienna--curious as illustrating Austrian criminal procedure, &c. He
thought I ought to report it in 'O'Dowd.' I send it off now for your
opinion and judgment (and hope favourably). It might want a little
retouching here and there, but you will see and say.

"I was delighted with your 'Scott' speech--the best of them of all that
I read, and I see it has been copied and recopied largely. Your allusion
to Wilson was perfect, and such a just homage to a really great man whom
all the Cockneyism in the world cannot disparage.

"I am in such damnable pain that I can hardly write a line, but I want
you to see the 'Police' sketch at once. Can I have a proof, if you like
it, early? as perhaps when I am able to move I shall have to get to some
of the sulphur springs in Styria at once.

"My enemy is now making a demonstration about my left knee, and, as the
newspapers say, _La situation est difficile_.

"I am not so ill but that I can desire to be remembered to Mrs

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"_Sept._, 9, 1871.

"Between gout and indignation I am half mad. Gladstone at Whitby is
worse to me than my swelled ankle, and I send you a furious O'D. to show
that the Cabinet are only playing out--where they do not parody--the
game of the Communists.

"Whether it will be in time to send me a proof I cannot tell, but you
will, I know, take care of me. I feel in writing it as though we had
been talking the whole thing together, and that I was merely giving a
_résumé_ of our gossip.

"Your delightful note and its enclosure have just come. I thank you
cordially for both. I have not any recollection of what I said of Scott,
but I know what I _feel_ about him, and how proud I am that you like my
words. I cannot get my foot to the ground yet, but I am rather in vein
for writing, as I always am in gout, only my caligraphy has got added
difficulties from the position I am reduced to.

"I am glad Langford likes us here: my daughters took to him immensely,
and only were sorry we saw so little of him. If he has really 'bitten'
you with a curiosity to see Miramar I shall bless the day he came here.

"Tell Mrs Blackwood my cabin will be glad to house her here, and if she
will only come I'll be her courier over the whole of North Italy."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Sept_. 10, 1871.

"You are right. There is little point--that is, there is no epigram--in
the 'Trial.' I wrote it rather to break the monotony of eternal
moral-isings than with any other object. If it be pleasant reading I am
content, and, I hope, so are you.

"I sent yesterday a hard-hitting O'D. on 'How Gladstone is doing the
Work of the Commune,' and I send you now, I think, a witty comparison
between the remaining troopers and the Whigs. My daughter thinks it the
smartest bit of fun I have done since I had the gout last, and all the
salt in it comes unquestionably from that source.

"All the names in the 'Trial' are authentic. The lady is really the
grand-daughter of Hughes Ball (the celebrated Golden Ball); and the
man's assertion of being 'Times' correspondent was accepted as an
unquestionable fact.

"I have made superhuman efforts to be legible in this 'O'Dowd' now, so
as to make correction easy. Heaven grant that my 'Internationals' be as

"I am still a cripple, and if irritability be a sign of recovery, my
daughter says that my convalescence is approaching."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 1, 1871.

"I am so eager to save a post and see this in proof, that I have never
left my desk for five hours, and only read it to Lord D. (Henry Bulwer),
who was delighted with it, before I sent it.

"You have given me a rare fright by printing, as I see, what I said of
Scott--at least, any other man than yourself doing so would terrify me,
but you are a true friend and a wise critic, and what you have done
must be right and safe: I do not remember one word of it. I have written
myself back into gout, and must now go to bed. I had a sort of _coup_
yesterday, and D. believed I was off."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 3,1871.

"I have just seen 'Maga,' and I am ashamed at the prominence you have
given my few words about Scott.

"What a close connection a man's ankles have with his intellect. I don't
know, but I can swear to it, that since I have become tender about the
feet I have grown to feel very insecure about the thinking department,
and the row in the cellar is re-echoed in the garret.

"Every fresh speech of Gladstone gives me a fresh seizure, and his last
'bunkum' at Aberdeen has cost me a pint of colchicum.

"I have an O'D. in my head on the 'Cobden Campaign,' but I suppose it is
safer to leave it there. You know what the tenor replied when some one
said from the pit, 'Monsieur, vous chantez fau.' 'Je le sais, Monsieur,
mais je ne veux pas qu'on me le dise.'

"Give my warmest regards to Mrs Blackwood. I wish with all my heart,
gout _nonobstant_, I was to dine with you to-day."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Oct_. 17, 1871.

"I know well but for golf and its 'divartin' sticks' I should have had
a line from you, but you have no moment to spare correcting O'Ds. amidst
your distractions.

"I kept back the proof I now send to hear from you and make any changes
or alterations you might suggest, and I have a half-done O'Dowd 'On
Widows' which I shall keep over for another time. I am sorely done
up,--only able to crawl with a stick and a friendly arm, and so weak
that the Irishwoman's simile of a 'sheet of wet paper' is my only
parallel. Robert Lytton tells me he has got such a pleasant letter
from you. He and his wife had been stopping with us here, and we were
delighted with them both."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 1, 1871.

"I was sorry not to see my 'Home Rule' in 'Maga,' but sorrier still
not to hear from you, and I tormented myself thinking--which I ought
not--that you were somewhat _chagriné_ with me. I am delighted now to
find you are not, and that the only 'grievance' between us makes _me_
the plaintiff for your not having printed my O'D. I can forgive this,
however, and honestly assure you that I could forgive even worse at your
hands. It is the nervous fear that I may be falling into [? senility] as
well as gout that makes me tetchy about a rejected paper.

"Henry James got very safely out of my hands. He has no more pretension
to play whist with me than I would have to cross-examine a witness
before him, and I told him so before I won his sixpenny points.

"I fortunately asked F. O. by telegraph if I should take on the
despatches, as the messenger was in quarantine, and they said not. They
knew they were Henry Elliott's, and that the delay could not injure the
freshness. He is a great diplomatist, and there is nothing ephemeral
in the news he sends home. Drummond Wolff is here with me now and Lord
Dalling, and our conversation is more remarkable for wit than propriety.

"While James was here I was too gouty to go out with him, and what the
latter Q.C. (queer customer) means by saying I was dog-bitten, I can't
guess. I am now crippled hand and foot, and a perfect curse to myself
from irritability."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 3, 1871.

"If my late discomfiture in your opinion of my last rejected O'Ds. had
not taught me that I am not infallible, I should say that the O'D. I now
send you is, as regards thought or pith, as good as any of them. I wrote
it in a fit of gout. Spasmodic it is, perhaps, but vigorous I hope.

"I have been violently assailed in letters for what I said about
'touching pitch,'--but there is nothing that leads me to retract or
modify one word I wrote,--some from doctors, well written, but on a
wrong issue. You can no more make people modest by Act of Parliament
than you can make them grateful or polite in fifty other good things.

"A Mr Crane, West George Street, Glasgow, writes me a very courteous
note, and says, 'I do thank the Editor of "Blackwood" for publishing
what you say of Scott,' and goes on to express his hearty concurrence
with it all, and he regrets that it had not been spoken instead of
written, &c, &c.

"I do not feel as if I was to get better this time; but I have called
wolf so often I shall scream no more. What I feel most, and struggle
against most in vain, is depression. I have got to believe not only
that my brains are leaving me, but that my friends are tired of me. Of
course, I couple the two disasters together, and long to be beyond the
reach of remembering either one or the other.

"You read my MS. so easily that if you do not like the O'D. don't print
it--it saves me a disappointment at least; and above all, do not mind
any chance irritability I display in writing, for a cry escapes me in my
pain, and I often do not hear it myself.

"Now that I write very little and brood a great deal, I sit thinking
hours' long over a very good-for-nothing life, and owning to myself
that no man ever did less with his weapon than I have. I say this in no
vanity, but sheer shame and self-reproach.

"If I could be with you at times it would rouse And stimulate me
greatly, for I think you know--that is, you understand--me better than
almost any one, and I always feel the better of your company.

"Bulwer (Lord Dalling) is with me now; but he is a richer man than
myself, and though we rally after dinner, we are poor creatures of a

"Your last note did me real good, and I have re-read it three or four

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Nov_. 16, 1871.

"You are right about Bradlaugh, and I have added a few lines to insert
in the place marked. I hope I am not libellous, and I believe I have
steered safely.

"I am breaking up at last more rapidly, for up to this the planking has
been too tough; but I am now bumping heavily, and, please God, must soon
go to pieces.

"Your kindness, and your wife's, are very dear to me. I am constantly
thinking of you both. Your last note gave me sincere pleasure.

"Lytton and I talked a great deal of you and drank your health. We often
wished you were with us. He is immensely improved--I mean mentally,--and
become one of the very best talkers I ever met, and not a shade of any
affectation about him. I am convinced he will make a great career yet.

"'Our Quacks' is, I think, a better title. Decide yourself."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Dec_. 11, 1871.

"I was indeed surprised at the address of your letter, but I should
have been more than surprised--overjoyed--had I seen yourself, and I am
sorely sorry you did not come on here. Do let it be for another time,
and ask Mrs Blackwood to have a craving desire to see Venice and the
Titians, and take me as an accident of the road.

"I am getting too ill for work, but not for the pleasure of seeing my
friends, and there is nothing does me the same good.

"I see no difficulty in writing to you about Austria, but not as
O'Dowd,--gravely, soberly, and, if I could, instructingly. But I must
wait for a little health and a little energy, or I should be only
steaming with half-boiler power.

"I see little prospect now of getting better, and all I have to do is to
scramble along with as much of health as remains to me, and not bore
my friends or myself any more on the matter. Sending the divers down
to report how thin my iron plating is, is certainly not the way to
encourage me to a new voyage.

"Like a kind fellow, send me George Eliot's new book. There is nothing
like her."


_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Jan_. 31, 1872.

"I am ordered off to Fiume for change of air--the change of scene that
is to affect me is somewhat farther. Before I go I send you two O'Ds.
that have been under my hands these few weeks back. Whether they be
print-worthy or not, you will know and decide; if so, I shall be back to
correct and add another by the time a proof could reach me.

"I am in a very creaky condition, and why I hold together at all I don't
understand. Like the _Megæra_, all the attempts to stop the leak only
widens the breach."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 15, 1872.

"It was an angel from heaven suggested to your wife the thought of a run
out here. Only come and I'll go with you to Japan if you like. There are
no two people in the world I should rather see, and though the place
is a poor one and I a dull dog, the thought of seeing you here would
brighten us both up, as the mere notion has cheered me already."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _Feb_. 26, 1872.

"I send you (and thus early to be in time for next month) a short
sketchy story which, as the man said of the Athanasian Creed, is founded
on fact, but not the better (I mean the story) for that.

"It has a moral too, or rather several morals, to be distributed
according to age and sex, and, in fact, is a 'righte merrie' and well
conceived tale, as I hope you will tell me.

"I had fully made up my mind to write no more, and to water my grog to
enable me to do so, but I now discover that neither of my two daughters
like 'watered grog' at all, but prefer whatever dietary habit has inured
them to. 'For this reason and for the season' I am at it once more,
though my ink-bottle looks as ruefully at me as the Yankees at Gladstone
for backing out of the N. Y. Convention.

"By the way, I hope you have printed my correct version of the Alabama;
I know it is the true one, and as I am the only discoverer, I am jealous
about my invention.

"I had a grand argument to arraign the Ministry on the Collier job
(which no one hit on), but coming at this d------d corner of Europe it
was too late, and lost.

"I feel that the day after I am buried here some bright notion will
occur to me and make me very uncomfortable in my grave. I have a dress
rehearsal of this misery three times a-week, and gout all the time

"Send me news of your plans and projects, if any of them tend this way.
I shall have a 'thanksgiving day' of my own, and be grateful, without
scarlet cloth or Mr Aytoun on the Board of Ws."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 9 and 11.

"I begin your note now, not intending to finish till I see if the post,
a couple of days hence, may bring me some news of my short story, 'Some
one Pays.' Meanwhile I have time to thank you heartily for your note and
its contents, and to say what courage you give me by the hope that
Mrs Blackwood is really serious about coming out here. As a short tour
nothing could be nicer than to come out by Brussels, Munich, and Vienna
(and through Trieste), back by Venice, Milan, Florence, Turin, and
the Mont Cenis to Paris. I am seriously anxious that you should have a
number of interesting places to see, and that the journey should repay
you thoroughly. Dull as the place is, every one needs some rest in a
tour, and Trieste can come in as your halt, and all the pleasure your
visit will give us will be your recompense for enduring our stupidity.

"Monson, who is here on his way to his post (Consul-General at Pesth),
is just fresh from a visit to Lyons at Paris, where he met Lord Derby.
It seems that Lord D. spoke very frankly and confidently of Gladstone's
speedy fall, and of the Tories ascent to power, even to the extent of
the distribution of office, who was to be Sec. at F. O., &c."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _March_ 30, 1872.

"When I was thinking I was getting better I have fallen back again into
short-breathing, heart-fluttering, and grampus-blowing bad as ever.

"I send you an absurd 'O'Dowd' to add to the 'Widows,' when you publish
it. Rose comes here from Constantinople in a day or so, and by the time
I shall receive the proof I shall probably have some secret details of
Tichborne worth telling.

"If you and Mrs B. can come out here I think I shall persuade myself to
live on till May at all events. I am resolved to meet you this spring,
somewhere, anywhere. Whenever you can make your plans let me hear.

"I am rejoiced that you like my Albanian sketch story, and hope it will

"I wish you had time to look at 'Kilgobbin.' The talk is good
enough--the story bad as can be."

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 9, 1872.

"A word to disabuse the world of the need of a 'Political Programme'
which is well-timed just v now; and I send you a short O'D. to add to
the others.

"I feel certain you will agree with my notion, and my only misgiving is,
have I made myself clear enough?

"I have had a very sharp brush these last few days, and I am still
wrestling with the enemy. I own I do not come up smiling after each
round, but looking horribly grim. Let me only hear when there is a
chance of seeing you and Mrs B. and your little girl, and I'll at once
apply for a renewal of my lease of life, though it be only for a week or

_To Mr John Blackwood._

"Trieste, _April_ 11,1872.

"It was only yesterday I sent off a short O'D. on the English demand for
a 'Political Programme,' and I hope it has reached you, and more, that
it is readable, for my hand and my head are degenerating _pari passu_.

"To-day I have got your welcome note, for which I thank you heartily. It
will do me more good to see you than all my tinctures, and pray tell
Mrs Blackwood she is quite right to bring her little girl with her. The
journey, the new scenes and new faces, will be the healthiest excitement
to a young mind, and, whether as correcting old ideas or storing up new
ones, is a form of education not to be had of books or to be satisfied
by governesses.

"You are really a good fellow to come and see me in a cabin. I can only
say if it were a palace you would be equally welcome, and more welcome
you could not be.

"I'll not promise to go to England. I have scarcely wind for a
'three-mile heat,' but I'll take a short run with you somewhere, and
we'll concert it when we meet. Rob. Lytton wrote to me a few days ago,
and said how he hoped to see you. His wife has just had a boy, which I
am heartily glad of, as they lately lost their only son. Mrs L. is the
most charming, natural, and nice creature it is possible to imagine, and
the crowning good fortune of Robert's life is to have met her.

"From Vienna here--you can do it in one day--fourteen and a half hours;
but if you prefer to halve it, there is a nice halting-place, Gratz,
Styria, where you arrive about three o'clock and leave the following day
about the same: the Hôtel Elephant is excellent.

"Sydney and her man are at the Burlington, and well too--also their
mother,--and can get you every detail of the journey _via_ whichever
route you take. I think you are right to come by Germany and go back by
Italy, though it be against the precepts of climate, but that Germany
after Italy is like following a strawberry ice with sauerkraut. I think
'Just like Rye' will be the best title for the 'O'Dowd,' and 'taking' as
well as appropriate. Rose is still at Constantinople, I believe, trying
to get the tobacco monopoly from the Government,--a huge affair of some
millions sterling.

"The weather up to this was splendid here; now it has become 'more Irish
and less nice,' and I fancy is one of the reasons of my maladies. One
loves to lean on such subtleties, like the alderman who ascribed his
health to his always having a strawberry in his wine-glass."


     [The autobiographical and bibliographical notes which Lever
     arranged to supply for a new edition of his novels were
     written during the latter part of 1871 and the spring of
     1872. Unfortunately he did not live to complete the intended
     series of prefaces. They disclose highly interesting and
     amusing glimpses of his career and opinions, and they
     contain very open confessions of his loose literary methods,
     as well as some acute criticisms of his writings.]


That some thirty years after the sketches which form this volume were
written I should be called upon to revise and re-edit them is strange
enough to me, well remembering, as I do, with what little hope of
permanence they were penned, how lightly they were undertaken, and how
carelessly thrown together. But there is something still stranger in
the retrospect, and that is, that these same papers--for originally they
were contributed to 'The Dublin University Magazine'--should mainly have
directed the course of my future life, and decided my entire career.
I may quote from a former preface that I was living in a very secluded
spot when I formed the idea of jotting down these stories, many of them
heard in boyhood, others constructed out of real incidents that occurred
to my friends in travel, and some again--'The Adventures of Trevanion'
and 'The French Duellist,' for instance--actual facts, well known to
many who had formed part of the army of occupation in France. To give
what consistency I might to a mass of incongruous adventure, to such a
variety of strange situations befalling one individual, I was obliged
to imagine a character, which probably my experiences--and they were not
very mature at the time--assured me as being perfectly possible: one
of a strong will and a certain energy, rarely persistent in purpose
and perpetually the sport of accident, with a hearty enjoyment of the
pleasure of the hour, and a very reckless indifference as to the price
to be paid for it. If I looked out on my acquaintances, I believed I saw
many of the traits I was bent on depicting, and for others I am afraid I
had only to take a peep into myself. If it is an error, then, to believe
that in these Confessions I have ever recorded any incidents in my own
life, there is no mistake in supposing that in sketching Harry Lorrequer
I was in a great measure depicting myself, and becoming, allegori-cally,
an autobiographist. Here is a confession which, if thirty odd years had
not rolled over, I might be indisposed to make; but time has enabled me
to look back on my work, and even on myself, with a certain degree of
impartiality, and to feel, as regards both, as the great Paley said a
man feels after he has finished his dinner, "That he might have done
better." It is perfectly unnecessary that I should say when and where
I wrote these sketches; no thought of future authorship of any kind
occurred to me, far less did I dream of abandoning my profession as
a physician for the precarious livelihood of the pen. Indeed their
success, such as it was, only became known to me after I had left
Ireland and gone to live abroad, and it was there--at Brussels--my
publishers wrote to me to request a continuance of my Confessions, with
the assurance that they had found favour in the world and flattering
notice from the press. Though I have been what the sarcastic French
moralist called "blessed with a bad memory" all my life, I can still
recall the delight--I cannot call it less--with which I heard my attempt
at authorship had been successful. I did not awake, indeed, "to find
myself famous," but I well remember the thrill of triumphant joy with
which I read the letter that said "Go on," and the entrancing ecstasy
I felt at the bare possibility of becoming known one day as a writer. I
have had, since then, some moments in which a partial success has made
me very happy and very grateful, but I do not believe that all these
put together, or indeed any possible favour the world might mete to
me, would impart a tithe of the enjoyment I felt on hearing that 'Harry
Lorrequer' had been liked by the public, and that they asked for more of
him. If this sort of thing amuses them, thought I, I can go on for ever;
and believing this to be true, I launched forth with all that prodigal
waste of material which, if it forms one of the reasons of success, is,
strictly speaking, one among the many demerits of this story. That I
neither husbanded my resources nor imagined that they could ever fail
me were not my only mistakes; and I am tempted to show how little I
understood of the responsibilities of authorship by repeating what
I have told elsewhere,--an incident of the last number of 'Harry
Lorrequer.' The MS. which contained the conclusion of the story had been
sent through the Foreign Office bag from Brussels, and possibly had been
mistaken for a despatch. At all events, like King Theodore's letter it
had been thrown on one side and forgotten. In this strait my publishers
wrote to me in a strain that "the trade" alone knows how to employ
towards an unknown author. Stung by the reproaches (and they were not
mild) of my correspondent, I wrote back, enclosing another conclusion,
and telling him to print either or both--as he pleased. Years after, I
saw the first MS. (which came to hand at last) bound in my publisher's
library and lettered, "Another ending to H. L." When the great master
of fiction condescended to inform the world on what small fragments of
tradition or local anecdote the Waverley Novels were founded, he best
exalted the marvellous skill of his own handiwork in showing how genius
could develop the veriest incident of a life into a story of surpassing
power and interest. I have no such secrets to reveal, nor have I the
faintest pretension to suppose the public would care to hear about the
sources from which I drew either my characters or my incidents. I have
seen, however, such references to supposed portraiture of individuals
in this story, that I am forced to declare there is but one character
in the book of which the original had any existence, and to which I
contributed nothing of exaggeration. This is Father Malachi Brennan.
The pleasant priest was alive when I wrote the tale, and saw himself in
print and--worse still--in picture, not, I believe, without a certain
mock indignation, for he was too racy a humourist and too genuine a
lover of fun to be really angry at this caricature of him. The amusing
author of 'The Wild Sports of the West'--Hamilton Maxwell--was my
neighbour in the little watering-place where I was living,* and our
intimacy was not the less close from the graver character of the society
around us. We often exchanged our experiences of Irish character and
life, and in our gossipings stories were told, added to, and amplified
in such a way between us that I believe neither of us could have
pronounced at last who gave the initiative of an incident, or on which
side lay the authorship of any particular event.

     * Portstewart

It would have been well had our intercourse stopped at these
confidences, but, unfortunately, it did not. We often indulged in little
practical jokes on our more well-conducted neighbours, and I remember
that the old soldier from whom I drew some of the features I have
given to Colonel Kamworth was especially the mark of these harmless
pleasantries. Our Colonel was an excellent fellow, kind-hearted and
hospitable, but so infatuated with a propensity to meddle with every
one, and to be a partner in the joys, the afflictions, the failures, or
the successes of all around him, that, with the best possible intentions
and the most sincere desire to be useful to his neighbours, he became
the cause of daily misconceptions and mistakes, sowed discord where he
meant unity, and, in fact, originated more trouble and more distrust
than the most malevolent mischief-maker of the whole country-side. I am
forced to own that the small persecutions with which my friend Maxwell
and myself followed the worthy Colonel, the wrong intelligence with
which we supplied him, particularly as regarded the rank and station of
the various visitors who came down during the bathing season; the false
scents on which we sent him, and the absurd enterprises on which we
embarked him, even to the extent of a mock address which induced him to
stand for the "borough"--the address to the constituency being our joint
production,--all these follies, I say, more or less disposed me, I am
sure, to that incessant flow of absurd incident which runs through this
volume, and which, after all, was little more than the reflex of our
daily plot-tings and contrivings. I believe my old friend the Colonel
is still living: if he be, and he should read these lines, let him
also read that I have other memories of him than those of mere jest
and pleasantry--memories of his cordial hospitality and genial good
nature,--and that there are few things I would like better than to meet
and talk with him over bygones, knowing no one more likely to relish
a pleasant reminiscence than himself, no one more certain to forgive a
long-past liberty taken with him. If there are many faults and blunders
in this tale which I would willingly correct, if there be much I
would curtail or cut out altogether, and if there be also occasionally
incidents of which I could improve the telling, I am held back from any
attempts of this kind by the thought that it was by these sketches, such
as they are, I first won the hearing from the public which for more than
thirty years has never deserted me, and that the favour which has given
the chief pride and interest to my life dates from the day I was known
as Harry Lorrequer. The life of a physician has nothing so thoroughly
rewarding, nothing so cheering, so full of hearty encouragement, as in
the occasional friendships to which it opens the way. The doctor attains
to a degree of intimacy, and stands on a footing of confidence so
totally exceptional, that if personal qualities lend aid to the
position, his intercourse becomes friendship. Whether, therefore, my old
career gave me any assistance in new roads, whether it imparted to me
any habits of investigation as applicable to the full in morals as in
matter, it certainly imparted to me the happy incident of standing on
good terms with--I was going to say--my patient (and perhaps no better
word could be found for him who has heard me so long, trusted me so
much, given me so large a share in his favours, and come to look on me
with such friendliness). It would be displaying the worst in me if I did
not own that I owe to my books not only the most pleasant intimacies
of my life, but some of my closest friendships. A chance expression,
a fairly shadowed thought, a mere chord struck at random by a passing
hand, as it were, has now and then placed me, as mesmerists call it, _en
rapport_ with some one who may have thought long and deeply on what I
had but skimmed over; and straightway there was a bond between us. No
small satisfaction has it been to me occasionally to hear that out of
the over-abundance of my own buoyancy and light-heartedness--and I had a
great deal of both long ago--I have been able to share with my neighbour
and given him part of my sunshine, and only felt the warmer myself. A
great writer--one of the most eloquent historians who ever illustrated
the military achievements of his country--once told me that, as he lay
sick and careworn after a fever, it was in my own reckless stories of
soldier life that he found the cheeriest moments of his solitude: and
now let me hasten to say that I tell this in no spirit of boastfulness,
but with the heartfelt gratitude of one who has gained more by hearing
that confession than Harry Lorrequer ever gained by all his own. If to
go over again the pages that I wrote so many years ago is in a measure
to revisit in age the loved scenes of boyhood, and to ponder over
passages the very spirit of whose dictation is dead and gone,--if
all this has its sadness, I am cheered by remembering that I am still
addressing many old and dear friends, and have also for my audience
the sons and grandsons, and, what I like better, the daughters and
granddaughters, of those who once listened to Harry Lorrequer.


The success of 'Harry Lorrequer' was the reason for writing 'Charles
O'Malley.' That I myself was in nowise prepared for the favour the
public bestowed on my first attempt is easily enough understood.
The ease with which I strung my stories together--in reality the
'Confessions of Harry Lorrequer' are little more than a note-book of
absurd and laughable incidents--led me to believe that I could draw on
this vein of composition without any limit whatever. I felt, or thought
I felt, an inexhaustible store of fun and buoyancy within me, and I
began to have a misty half-confused impression that Englishmen generally
laboured under a sad-coloured temperament, and were proportionately
grateful to any one who would rally them, even passingly, out of their
despondency, and give them a laugh without much trouble for going in
search of it. When I set to work to write 'Charles O'Malley,' I was,
as I have ever been, very low with fortune, and the success of a new
venture was pretty much as eventful to me as the turn of the right
colour at _rouge-et-noir_. At the same time, I had then an amount of
spring in my temperament, and a power of enjoying life, which I can
honestly say I never found surpassed. The world had for me all the
interest of an admirable comedy, in which the part allotted to myself,
if not a high or a foreground one, was eminently suited to my taste,
and brought me, besides, sufficiently often on the stage to enable me to
follow all the fortunes of the piece. Brussels (where I was then living)
was adorned at the period with most agreeable English society. Some
leaders of the fashionable world of London had come there to refit and
recruit, both in body and estate. There were several pleasant people,
and a great number of pretty people; and so far as I could judge,
the fashionable dramas of Belgrave Square and its vicinity were being
performed in the Rue Royale and the Boulevard de Waterloo with very
considerable success. There were dinners, balls, _déjeuners_, and
picnics in the Bois de Cambre, excursions to Waterloo, and select little
parties to Boisfort (a charming little resort in the forest), whose
intense Cockneyism became perfectly inoffensive, being in a foreign land
and remote from the invasion of home-bred vulgarity. I mention these
things to show the adjuncts by which I was aided, and the rattle of
gaiety by which I was, as it were, "accompanied" when I tried my voice.
The soldier element tinctured our society strongly, and, I will add,
most agreeably. Amongst those whom I remember best were several old
Peninsulars. Lord Combermere was of this number; and another of our set
was an officer who accompanied--if indeed he did not command--the first
boat party who crossed the Douro. It is needless to say how diligently
I cultivated a society so full of all the storied details I was eager
to obtain, and how generously disposed were they to give me all the
information I needed. On topography especially were they valuable to me,
and with such good result that I have been more than once complimented
on the accuracy of my descriptions of places which I have never seen.
When, therefore, my publishers asked me could I write a story in the
Lorrequer vein,--a story in which active service and military adventure
could figure more prominently than mere civilian life, and where
achievements of a British army might form the staple of the
narrative,--I was ready to reply: "_Not one, but fifty,_" Do not mistake
me, and suppose that any overweening confidence in my literary powers
would have emboldened me to make this reply: my whole strength lay in
the fact that I could not recognise anything like literary effort in the
matter. If the world would only condescend to read that which I wrote
precisely as I was in the habit of talking, nothing could be easier.
Not alone was it easy, but it was intensely interesting and amusing
to myself to be so engaged. The success of 'Harry Lorrequer' had been
freely wafted across the German Ocean: it was very intoxicating incense,
and I set to work on my second book with a thrill of hope as regards
the world's favour which--and it is no small thing to say it--I can yet
recall. I can recall, too,--and I am afraid more vividly still,--some of
the difficulties of my task when I endeavoured to form anything like an
accurate or precise idea of some campaigning incident, or some
passage of arms, from the narratives of two distinct and separate
"eye-witnesses." What mistrust I conceived for all eye-witnesses from my
own brief experience of their testimonies! What an impulse did it lend
to me to study the nature and the temperament of the narrator as an
indication of the peculiar colouring he might lend his narrative! And
how it taught me to measure the force of the French epigram that it was
the alternating popularity of Marshal Soult that decided whether he
won or lost the battle of Toulouse! While, however, I was sifting these
evidences, and separating, as well as I might, the wheat from the chaff,
I was in a measure training myself for what, without my then knowing it,
was to become my career in life. My training was not without a certain
amount of labour, but so light and pleasant was the labour, so full of
picturesque peeps at characters and of humorous views of human nature,
that it would be the rankest ingratitude if I did not own that I gained
all my earlier experiences of the world in very pleasant company,
highly enjoyable at the time and with matter for charming souvenirs long
afterwards. That certain traits of my acquaintances found themselves
embodied in some of the characters of this story,* I do not seek to
deny. The principle of natural selection adapts itself to novels as well
as to nature, and it would have demanded an effort above my strength
to have disabused myself at the desk of all the impressions of the
dinner-table, and to have forgotten features which interested or amused
me. One of the personages of my tale I drew, however, with very little
aid from fancy. I would go so far as to say that I took him from the
life, if my memory did not confront me with the lamentable inferiority
of my picture to the great original which it was meant to portray. With
the exception of the quality of courage, I never met a man who contained
within himself so many of the traits of Falstaff as the individual who
furnished me with "Major Monsoon." But the Major--I must call him so,
though that rank was far beneath his own--was a man of unquestionable
bravery. His powers as a story-teller were to my thinking unrivalled;
the peculiar reflections on life which he would passingly introduce--the
wise apothegms--were of a morality essentially of his own invention; he
would indulge in the unsparing exhibition of himself in situations such
as other men would never have confessed,--all blended up with a racy
enjoyment of life, dashed occasionally with sorrow that our tenure of
it was short of patriarchal. All these idiosyncracies, accompanied by
a face redolent of intense humour and a voice whose modulations were
managed with the skill of a consummate artist, were above me to convey;
nor indeed, as I re-read any of the adventures in which he figures, am
I other than ashamed at the weakness of my drawing and the poverty of my
colouring. In order to show that I had a better chance to personify him
than is usually the lot of a novelist,--that I possessed, so to say,
a vested interest in his life and adventures,--I will relate a little
incident; and my accuracy, if necessary, can be attested by another
actor in the scene who yet survives. I was living a bachelor life at
Brussels--my family being at Ostend for the bathing--during the summer
of 1840. The city was comparatively empty, all the so-called society
being absent at the various spas or baths of Germany. One member of the
British Legation, who remained at his post to represent the mission, and
myself, making common cause of our desolation and ennui, spent much of
our time together and dined _tête-à-tête_ every day. It chanced that one
evening, as we were hastening through the park on our way to dinner, we
espied the Major--as "Major" I must speak of him--lounging about with
that half-careless, half-observant air which indicated a desire to be
somebody's--anybody's--guest rather than to surrender himself to the
homeliness of domestic fare.

     * 'Charles O' Malley.'

"There's that confounded old Monsoon!" said my diplomatist friend. "It's
all up if he sees us, and I can't endure him." Now I must remark that my
friend, though very far from being insensible to the humouristic side of
the Major's character, was not always in the vein to enjoy it, and when
he was so indisposed he could invest the object of his dislike with
something little short of repulsiveness. "Promise me," said he, as
Monsoon came towards us, "you'll not ask him to dinner." Before I could
make any reply the Major was shaking a hand of either of us, rapturously
expatiating over his good luck at meeting us. "Mrs M.," said he, "has
got a dreary party of old ladies to dine with her, and I have come out
here to find some pleasant fellow to join me and take our mutton-chop

"We're behind our time, Major," said my friend. "Sorry to leave you
so abruptly, but must push on. Eh, Lorrequer?" added he, to evoke
corroboration from me.

"Harry says nothing of the kind," interrupted Monsoon. "He says, or
he's going to say, 'Major, I have a nice bit of dinner waiting for me at
home,--enough for two, will feed three; or, if there be a shortcoming,
nothing easier than to eke out the deficiency by another bottle of
Moulton. Come along with us then, Monsoon, and we shall be all the
merrier for your company.'" Repeating his words, "Come along, Monsoon,"
I passed my arm within his, and away we went. For a moment my friend
tried to get free and leave me, but I held him fast and carried him
along in spite of himself. He was, however, so chagrined and provoked
that till the moment we reached my door he never uttered a word nor
paid the slightest attention to Monsoon, who talked away in a vein that
occasionally made gravity all but impossible. Dinner proceeded drearily
enough: the diplomatist's stiffness never relaxed for a moment, and my
own awkwardness damped all my attempts at conversation. Not so, however,
Monsoon; he ate heartily, approved of everything, and pronounced my
wine to be exquisite. He gave us a discourse upon sherry and the Spanish
wines in general; told us the secret of the Amontillado flavour; and
explained the process of browning, by boiling down wine, which some are
so fond of in England. At last he diverged into anecdote. "I was once
fortunate enough," said he, "to fall upon some of that choice sherry
from the St Lucas Luentas which is always reserved for royalty. It was a
pale wine, delicious in the drinking, and leaving no more flavour in the
mouth than a faint dryness that seemed to say, 'Another glass.' Shall
I tell you how I came by it?" And scarcely pausing for a reply, he told
the story of having robbed his own convoy and stolen the wine he was
in charge of for safe conveyance.* I wish I could give any, even the
weakest, idea of how he narrated the incident,--the struggle between
duty and temptation, and the apologetic tone of voice in which he
explained that the frame of mind which succeeds to any yielding to
seductive influences is often in the main more profitable to a man than
is the vainglorious sense of having resisted a temptation. "Meekness is
the mother of all virtues," said he, "and there is no meekness
without frailty." The story, told as he told it, was too much for the
diplomatist's gravity, and at last he fairly roared with laughter. As
soon as I myself recovered from the effects of his drollery I said,
"Major, I have a proposition to make. Let me tell that story in print
and I'll give you five Naps."

     * The story of the stolen sherry is told in 'Charles

"Are you serious, Harry?" said he. "Is this on honour?"

"On honour assuredly," I replied.

"Let me have the money down on the nail and I'll give you leave to have
me and my whole life,--every adventure that ever befell me,--ay, and if
you like, every moral reflection that my experiences have suggested."

"Done!" cried I. "I agree."

"Not so fast," said the diplomatist. "We must make a protocol of this:
the high contracting parties must know what they give and what they
receive. I'll draw out the treaty." He did so, at full length, on a
sheet of that solemn blue-tinted paper dedicated to despatch purposes,
duly setting forth the concession and the consideration. Each of us
signed the document; it was witnessed and sealed; and Monsoon pocketed
my five Napoleons, filling a bumper to any success the bargain might
bring me. This document, along with my university degree, my commission
in a militia regiment, and a vast amount of letters (very interesting
to me), were seized by the Austrian authorities on the way from Como
to Florence in the August of 1847, being deemed part of a treasonable
correspondence--purposely allegorical in form,--and they were never
restored to me. I freely own that I'd give all the rest willingly to
repossess myself of the Monsoon treaty. To show that I did not entirely
fail in making my "Major" resemble the great original from whom I
copied, I may mention that he was speedily recognised by the Marquis
of Londonderry, the well-known Sir Charles Stuart of the Peninsular
campaign. "I know that fellow well," said he. "He once sent me a
challenge, and I had to make him a very humble apology. The occasion was
this: I had been out with a single aide-de-camp to make a reconnaissance
in front of Victor's division; and to avoid attracting any notice, we
covered over our uniform with two common grey overcoats which reached
to the feet, effectually concealing our rank. Scarcely, however, had
we topped a hill which commanded a view of the French, when a shower
of shells flew over and around us. Amazed to think that we had been so
quickly noticed, I looked around me and discovered, quite close in my
rear, your friend Monsoon with what he called his staff,--a popinjay
set of rascals dressed out in green and gold, and with more plumes and
feathers than ever the general staff boasted. Carried away by momentary
passion at the failure of my reconnaissance, I burst out with some
insolent allusion to the harlequin assembly which had drawn the French
fire upon us. Monsoon saluted me respectfully and retired without a
word; but I had scarcely reached my quarters when a 'friend' of his
waited upon me with a message,--a categorical message it was, too: 'It
must be a meeting or an ample apology.' I made the apology--a most full
one--for the 'Major' was right and I had not a fraction of reason to
sustain me. We have been the best of friends ever since." I had heard
the story before this from Monsoon, but I did not then accord it all the
faith that was its due; and I admit that the accidental corroboration
of this one event very often served to puzzle me afterwards, when I
listened to tales in which the Major seemed to be a second Munchausen.
It might be that he was amongst the truest and most matter-of-fact of
historians. May the reader be not less embarrassed than myself! is my
sincere, if not very courteous, prayer. I have no doubt that often
in recounting some strange incident--a personal experience it always
was--he was himself carried away by the credulity of his hearers and the
amount of interest he could excite in them, rather than by the story. He
possessed the true narrative style, and there was a marvellous instinct
in the way in which he would vary a tale to suit the tastes of an
audience, while his moralisings were almost certain to take the tone
of a humouristic quiz of the company. Though fully aware that I was
availing myself of the contract that delivered him into my hands, and
though he dined with me two or three times a-week, he never lapsed
into any allusion to his appearance in print, and 'O'Malley'had been
published some weeks when he asked me to lend him "that last thing"--he
forgot the name of it--I was writing.*

     * He refers here to his last visit in 1871.--E. D.

"'Major Monsoon' was Commissary-General Mayne.... When he entered
a town," Lever declared, "he hastened to the nearest church and
appropriated whatever plate or costly reliquaries he could seize. He
once had a narrow escape from hanging, after having actually undergone
a drum-head court-martial. When the allied armies entered Paris,
Wellington was of course the constant figure of attraction. At a grand
fête he took wine (or went through the form of it) with any officer
whose face was remembered by him. The Commissary-General was a guest at
this entertainment, and Wellington's eye rested on him. Up went the hand
and glass as a signal, and bows were wellnigh exchanged, when the Duke
thundered out, 'Oh! I thought I had hanged you at Badajoz. Never mind,
I'll do it next time. I drink your health.'"--Fitzpatrick's 'Life of
Lever.' Of Frank Webber I have said elsewhere that he was one of my
earliest friends, my chum at college, and in the very chambers in Old
Trinity where I have located Charles O'Malley. He was a man of the
highest order of abilities, with a memory that never forgot; but he
was ruined and run to seed by the idleness that came of a discursive
uncertain temperament. Capable of anything--he spent his youth
in follies and eccentricities, every one of which, however, gave
indications of a mind inexhaustible in resources and abounding in
devices and contrivances. Poor fellow! he died young; and perhaps it
is better it should have been so. Had he lived to a later day, he would
most probably have been found a foremost leader of Fenianism; and from
what I knew of him, I can say that he, would have been a more dangerous
enemy to English rule than any of those dealers in the petty larceny of
rebellion we have lately seen amongst us. Of Mickey Free I had not one,
but one thousand, types. Indeed I am not quite sure that in my late
visit to Dublin, I did not chance on a living specimen of the "Free"
family, much readier in repartee, quicker at an _apropos_, and droller
in illustration, than my own Mickey. The fellow was "boots" at a great
hotel in Sackville Street; and he afforded me more amusement and some
heartier laughs than it has always been my fortune to enjoy in a party
of wits. His criticisms on my sketches of Irish character were about the
shrewdest and the best I ever listened to; and that I am not bribed to
this opinion by any flattery, I may remark that they were often more
severe than complimentary, and that he hit every blunder of image,
every mistake in figure, of my peasant characters with an acuteness
and correctness which made me very grateful to know that his daily
occupations were limited to the blacking of boots and not to the
"polishing off" of authors. I should like to own that 'Charles O'Malley'
was the means of according me a more heartfelt glow of satisfaction, a
more gratifying sense of pride, than anything I ever have written. My
brother, at that time the rector of an Irish parish, once forwarded to
me a letter from a lady, unknown to him, who had heard that he was the
brother of "Harry Lorrequer," and who addressed him not knowing where
a letter might be directed to myself. The letter was the grateful
expression of a mother, who said: "I am the widow of a field-officer,
and with an only son, for whom I obtained a presentation to Woolwich;
but seeing in my boy's nature certain traits of nervousness and timidity
which induced me to hesitate on embarking him in the career of a
soldier, I became very unhappy, and uncertain which course to decide
upon. While in this state of uncertainty I chanced to make him a
birthday present of 'Charles O'Malley,' the reading of which seemed to
act like a charm on his whole character, inspiring him with a passion
for movement and adventure, and spiriting him on to an eager desire
for a military life. Seeing that this was no passing enthusiasm but a
decided and determined bent, I accepted the cadetship for him, and his
career has been not alone distinguished as a student, but one which has
marked him out for an almost hare-brained courage and for a dash and
heroism that give high promise for his future. Thank your brother for
me," she continued,--"a mother's thanks for the welfare of an only son,
and say how I wish that my best wishes for him and his could recompense
him for what I owe him." I humbly hope that it may not be imputed to
me as unpardonable vanity the recording of this incident. It gave me
intense pleasure when I heard it; and now, as I look back on it, it
invests the story for myself with an interest which nothing else that I
have written can afford me.


The favour with which the public received 'Charles O'Malley,' and the
pleasant notices forwarded to me by my publisher, gave me great courage;
and when asked if I could be ready by a certain date with a new story, I
never hesitated to say Yes. My first thought was that in the campaign of
the Great Napoleon I might find what would serve as a "pendant" to the
story I had just completed, and that by making--as there would be no
impropriety in doing--an Irishman a soldier of France, I could still
have on my side certain sympathies of my reader which would not so
readily attach to a foreigner. I surrounded myself at once with all the
histories and memoirs I could find of the Consulate and the Empire; and,
so far as I could, withdrew my mind from questions of home interest, and
lived entirely amidst the mighty events that began at Marengo and ended
at Waterloo. Whether I failed to devise such a narrative as I needed, or
whether--and I suspect this must have been the real reason--I found that
the vast-ness of the theme overpowered me, I cannot at this distance of
time remember. But so it was, that I found much time had slipped over,
and that beyond some few notes and some scattered references, I had
actually done nothing; and my publisher had applied to me for the title
of my story for advertisement before I had begun or written a line
of it. Some disparaging remarks on Ireland and Irishmen in the London
press, not very unfrequent at the time, nor altogether obsolete now, had
provoked me at the moment; and the sudden thought occurred of a reprisal
by showing the many instances in which the Englishman would almost of
necessity mistake and misjudge my countrymen, and that out of these
blunders and misapprehensions, situations might arise that, if welded
into a story, might be made to be amusing. I knew that there was not a
class nor a condition in Ireland which had not marked differences from
the correlative rank in England; and that not only the Irish squire, the
Irish priest, and the Irish peasant were unlike anything in the larger
island, but that the Dublin professional man, the official, and the
shopkeeper, had traits and distinctions essentially their own. I had
frequently heard opinions pronounced on Irish habits which I had easily
traced to that quizzing habit of my countrymen, who never can
deny themselves the enjoyment of playing on the credulity of the
traveller,--all the more eagerly when they see his note-book taken out
to record their shortcomings and absurdities. These thoughts suggested
'Jack Hinton,' and led me to turn from my intention to follow the French
arms, or rather to postpone the plan, for it had got too strong a
hold on me to be utterly abandoned. I have already acknowledged that
I strayed from the path I had determined on, and, with very little
reference to my original intention, suffered my hero to take his chance
among the natives. Indeed I soon found him too intensely engaged in the
cares of self-preservation to have much time or taste for criticism on
his neighbours. I have owned elsewhere that for Mr Paul Rooney, Father
Tom Loftus, Bob Mahon, O'Grady, Tipperary Joe, and even Corny Delaney, I
had not to draw on imagination, but I never yet heard one correct guess
as to the originals. While on this theme, I may recall an incident which
occurred about three years after the story was published, and which, if
only for the trait of good-humour it displayed, is worth remembering.
I was making a little rambling tour through Ireland with my wife,
following for the most part the sea-board, and only taking such short
cuts inland as should bring us to some spot of especial interest.
We journeyed with our own horses, and consequently rarely exceeded
five-and-twenty or thirty miles in a day. While I was thus refreshing
many an old memory, and occasionally acquiring some new experience,
the ramble interested me much. It was in the course of this almost
capricious journey--for we really had nothing like a plan--we reached
the little town of Gort, where, to rest our horses, we were obliged to
remain a day. There was not much to engage attention in the place. It
was perhaps less marked by poverty than most Irish towns of its class,
and somewhat cleaner and more orderly; but the same distinctive signs
were there of depression, the same look of inertness that one remarks
almost universally through the land. In strolling half listlessly
about on the outskirts of the town, we were overtaken by a heavy
thunder-storm, and were driven to take shelter in a little shop where
a number of other people had also sought refuge. As we stood there, an
active-looking but elderly man in the neat black of an ecclesiastic,
and with a rosette in his hat, politely addressed us, and proposed that,
instead of standing there in the crowd, we would accept the hospitality
of his lodging, which was in the same house, till such time as the
storm should have passed over. His manner, his voice, and his general
appearance convinced me he was a dignitary of our Church. I thanked him
at once for his courtesy, and accepted his offer. He proceeded to show
us the way, and we entered a very comfortably-furnished sitting-room,
where a pleasant fire was burning, and sat down well pleased with our
good fortune. While we chatted freely over the weather and the crops,
some chance expression escaped me to show that I had regarded him as
a clergyman of the Established Church. He at once, but with peculiar
delicacy, hastened to correct my mistake, and introduce himself as the
Roman Catholic Dean O'Shaughnessy. "I am aware whom I am speaking to,"
added he, pronouncing my name. Before I could express my surprise at
being recognised where I had not one acquaintance, he explained that he
had read--in some local paper which described our mode of travelling--of
my being in the neighbourhood, and this led him at once to guess our
identity. After a few flattering remarks on the pleasure something of
mine had afforded him, he said, "You are very hard upon _us_, Mr Lever.
You never let _us_ off easily, but I assure you for all that we bear you
no ill-will. There is a strong national tie between us, and we can
stand a good deal of quizzing for the sake of that bond." I knew he
was alluding to his order; and when I said something--I cannot remember
what--about the freedoms that fiction led to, he stopped, saying, "Well,
well! the priests are not angry with you after all, if it wasn't for one

"Oh, I know," cried I, "that stupid story of Father D'Array and the

"No, no, not that; we laughed at that as much as any Protestant of
you all. What we could not bear so well was an ugly remark you made in
'Harry Lorrequer,' where--when there was a row at a wake and the money
was scattered over the floor--you say that the priest gathered more than
his share because--and here was the bitterness--old habit had accustomed
him to scrape up his corn in low places! Now, Mr Lever, that was
not fair; it was not generous, surely!" The good temper and the
gentleman-like quietness of the charge made me very uncomfortable at
the time; and now, after many years, I recall the incident to show
the impression it made on me--the only atonement I can make for the
flippancy. I had begun this story of 'Jack Hinton' at Brussels, but on
a proposition made to me by the publisher and proprietor of 'The Dublin
University Magazine' to take the editorship of that periodical, I
determined to return to Ireland. To do this, I was not alone to change
my abode and my country, but to alter the whole destiny of my life. I
was at the time a practising physician attached to the British Legation,
with the best practice of any Englishman in the place, a most pleasant
society, and, what I valued not less than them all, the intimacy of the
most agreeable and companionable man** I ever knew in my life, whose
friendship I have never ceased to treasure with pride and affection.

     * A story told in 'Harry Lorrequer.'

     **  Sir George Hamilton Seymour.

I dedicated to him my first book, and it is with deep gratitude and
pleasure I recall him while I give the last touches to these volumes.
There is one character in this story to which imagination contributed
scarcely anything in the portraiture, though I do not pretend to say
that the situations in which I have placed him are derived from facts.
Tipperary Joe was a real personage; and if there are, among my readers,
any who remember the old coaching days between Dublin and Kilkenny, they
cannot fail to recall the curious figure, clad in a scarlet hunting-coat
and black velvet cap, who used, at the stage between Carlow and the
Royal Oak, to emerge from some field beside the road, and, after a trot
of a mile or so beside the horses, crawl up at the back of the coach
and over the roof, collecting what he called his rent from the
passengers,--a very humble tribute generally, but the occasion of a good
deal of jest and merriment, not diminished if by any accident an English
traveller were present, who could neither comprehend the relations
between Joe and the gentlemen, nor the marvellous freedom with which
this poor ragged fellow discussed the passengers and their opinions.
Joe--I must call him so, for his real name has escaped me--once came
to see me in Trinity College, and was curious to visit the Chapel, the
Library, and the Examination Hall. I will not pretend that I undertook
my office of cicerone without some misgivings, for though I was prepared
to endure all the quizzings of my friends and acquaintances, I was not
quite at my ease as to how the authorities--the dons, as they are
called elsewhere--would regard this singular apparition within academic
precincts. Joe's respectful manner, and an air of interest that bespoke
how much the place engaged his curiosity, soon set me at my ease; while
the ready tact with which he recognised and uncovered to such persons as
held rank or station at once satisfied me that I was incurring no risk
whatever in my office as guide. The kitchen and the sight of those
gigantic spits, on which a whole series of legs of mutton were turning
slowly, overcame all the studied reserve of his manner, and he burst
into a most enthusiastic encomium on the merits of an institution so
admirably suited to satisfy human requirements. When he learned, from
what source I do not know, that I had put him in a book, he made it--not
unreasonably, perhaps--the ground of a demand on my purse; and if the
talented artist who had illustrated the tale had been accessible to
him, I suspect that he, too, would have had to submit to the levy of a
blackmail, all the more heavily as Joe was by no means pleased with a
portrait which really only self-flattery could have objected to. Hablot
K. Browne never saw him, and yet in his sketch of him standing to say
his "good-bye" to Jack Hinton at Kingston, he has caught the character
of his figure and the moping lounge of his attitude to perfection.
Indeed, though there is no resemblance in the face to Joe, the pose
of the head and the position of the limbs recall him at once. I have
already said elsewhere that the volume amused me while I was writing it.
Indeed I had not at the time exhausted, if I had even tapped, the cask
of a buoyancy of temperament which carried me along through my daily
life in the sort of spirit one rides a fresh horse over a swelling
sward. If this confession will serve to apologise for the want of
studied coherency in the narrative, and the reckless speed in which
events succeed events throughout, I shall deem myself indebted to the
generous indulgence of my readers.


It was in wandering through the south of Ireland I came to visit the
wild valley of Glennesk--a scene of loneliness and desolation with
picturesque beauty I have never seen surpassed. The only living creature
I met for miles of the way was a very old man, whose dress and look
bespoke extreme poverty, but who, on talking with him, I discovered to
be the owner of four cows that were grazing on the rocky sides of the
cliff. He had come some miles, he told me, to give his cows the spare
herbage that cropped up amongst the granite boulders. As I had seen
no house or trace of habitation as I came along, I was curious to know
where he lived, but his answer, as he pointed to the mountain, was,
"There, alone," and this with evident unwillingness to be more freely
communicative. Though not caring to be interrogated, nor, like most
Irish peasants, much inclined to have a talk with a stranger, he made
no scruple to ask for alms, and pleaded his wretched rags--and they
were very miserable--as a proof of his poverty. I did not think that the
pittance I gave him exactly warranted me in asking how the owner of the
cows we saw near us could be in that condition of want he represented;
at all events I preferred not to dash the pleasure I was giving him
by the question. We parted, therefore, on good terms, but some miles
farther on in the glen I learned from a woman, who was "bulling" her
clothes in the river, that "ould Mat," as she called him, was one of the
most well-to-do farmers in that part of the country; that he had given
his daughters, of whom he had several, good marriage portions, and
that his son was a thriving attorney in the town of Tralee. "Maybe yer
honor's heard of him," said the woman,--"Tim O'Donoghue." It was no new
thing to me to know the Irish peasant in his character as a hoarder
and a saver. There is no one trait so indicative of the Celt as
acquisitiveness, nor does Eastern story contain a man more given to the
castle-building that grows out of some secret hoard--however small--than
Paddy. He is to add half an acre to his potato-garden, or to buy another
pig, or to send the "gossoon" to a school in the town, or to pay his
passage to New York. This tendency to construct a future, so strong in
the Irish nature, has its rise in a great reliance on what he feels to
be the goodness of God: a firm conviction that all his struggles are
watched and cared for, and that every little turn of good fortune has
been given him by some especial favour, lies deep in his nature, and
suggests an amount of hope to him which a less sanguine spirit could
never have conceived. While I thought over the endless contrarieties of
this mysterious national character, where good and evil eternally lay
side by side, I wondered within myself whether the new civilisation
of latter years was likely to be successful in dealing with men whose
temperaments and manners were so unlike the English, or were we right in
extinguishing the old feudalism that bound the peasant to the landlord,
ere we had prepared each for the new relations of mere gain and
loss that were in nature to subsist between them? Between the
great families--the old houses of the land and the present race of
proprietors--there lay a couple of generations of men who, with all the
traditions and many of the pretensions of birth and fortune, had really
become in ideas, modes of life, and habits, very little above the
peasantry about them. They inhabited, it is true, the "great house,"
and they were in name the owners of the soil, but, crippled by debt and
overborne by mortgages, they subsisted in a shifty conflict with
their creditors, rack-renting their miserable tenants to maintain it.
Survivors of everything but pride of family, they stood there like
stumps, blackened and charred, the last remnants of a burnt forest,
their proportions attesting the noble growth that preceded them. What
would the descendants of these men prove when, destitute of fortune and
helpless, they were thrown upon a world that actually regarded them
as blamable for the unhappy condition of Ireland? Would they stand by
"their order" in so far as to adhere to the cause of the gentry? Or
would they share the feelings of the peasant to whose lot they had been
reduced, and charging on the Saxons the reverses of their fortune,
stand forth as rebels to England? Here was much food for speculation and
something for a story. For an opening scene what could I desire finer
than the gloomy grandeur and the rugged desolation of Glenflesk! And
if some patches of bright verdure here and there gleamed amidst the
barrenness,--if a stray sunbeam lit up the granite cliffs and made the
heather glow,--might there not be certain reliefs of human tenderness
and love to show that no scene in which man has a part is utterly
destitute of those affections whose home is the heart? I had now got
my theme and my locality. For my name I took 'The O'Donoghue'; it had
become associated in my mind with Glenflesk, and would not be separated
from it. Here, then, in one word, is the history of this book. If the
performance bears but slight relation to the intention,--if, indeed, my
story seems to have little reference to what suggested it,--it will only
be another instance of a waywardness which has beset me through life,
and left me never sure when I started for Norway that I might not find
myself in Naples. It is not necessary, perhaps, for me to say that no
character in this tale was drawn from a model. I began the story, in so
far as a few pages went, at a little inn at Killarney, and I believe
I stole the name of Kerry O'Leary from one of the boatmen on the lake;
but, so far as I am aware, it is the only theft in the book. I believe
that the very crude notions of an English tourist for the betterment of
Ireland, and some exceedingly absurd comments he made me on the habits
of people which an acquaintanceship of three weeks enabled him to
pronounce on, provoked me to draw the character of Sir Marmaduke; but I
can declare that the traveller aforesaid only acted as tinder to a mine
long prepared, and afforded me a long-sought-for opportunity--not for
exposing, for I did not go that far, but--for touching on the
consummate effrontery with which a mere passing stranger can settle
the difficulties and determine the remedies for a country in which the
resident sits down overwhelmed by the amount, and utterly despairing of
a solution. I have elsewhere recorded that I have been blamed for the
fate I reserved for Kate O'Donoghue, and that she deserved something
better than to have her future linked to one who was so unworthy of her
in many ways. Till I re-read the story after a long lapse of years, I
had believed that this charge was better founded than I am now disposed
to think it. First of all, judging from an Irish point of view, I do not
consent to regard Mark O'Donoghue as a bad fellow. The greater number
of his faults were the results of neglected training, irregular--almost
utter want of--education, and the false position of an heir to a
property so swamped by debt as to be valueless. I will not say these are
the ingredients which go to the formation of a very regular life or
a very perfect husband, but they might all of them have made a worse
character than Mark's if he had not possessed some very sterling
qualities as a counterbalance. Secondly, I am not of those who think
that the married life of a man is but the second volume of his bachelor
existence. I rather incline to believe that he starts afresh in life
under circumstances very favourable to the development of whatever is
best, and to the extinguishment of what is worst in him. That is, of
course, where he marries well, and where he allies himself to qualities
of temper and tastes which will serve as the complement, or, at times,
the correctives, of his own. Now Kate O'Donoghue would instance what I
mean in this case. Then I keep my best reason for the last: they liked
each other. This, if not a guarantee for their future happiness, is
still the best "martingale" the game of marriage admits of. I am free to
own that the book I had in my head to write was a far better one than
I have committed to paper, but as this is a sort of event which has
happened to better men than myself, I bear it as one of the accidents
that authorship is heir to. A French critic--one far too great to have
his dicta despised--has sneered at my making a poor ignorant peasant
child find pleasure in the resonance of a Homeric verse; but I could
tell him of barefooted boys in the South, running errands for a scanty
subsistence, with a knowledge of classical literature which would puzzle
many a grown student to cope with.


I wrote this story in the Tyrol.* The accident of my residence there
was in this wise: I had travelled about the Continent for a considerable
time, in company with my family, and with my own horses. Our carriage
was a large and comfortable _calèche_, and our team four horses,
the leaders of which, well-bred and thriving-looking, served as
saddle-horses when needed. There was something very gipsy-like in this
roving uncertain existence (that had no positive bent or limit, and left
every choice of place an open question) which gave me intense enjoyment.
It opened to me views of Continental life, scenery, people, and habits
which I should certainly never have attained by other modes of travel.

     * As a matter of fact--though the fact in itself is of
     little importance,--Lever composed about one-half of 'The
     Knight' at Carlsruhe. The novel began to appear in monthly
     parts early in the year 1846.--E. D.

Not only were our journeys necessarily short each day, but we frequently
sojourned in little villages and out-of-the-way spots where, if pleased
by the place itself and the accommodation afforded, we would linger on
for days, the total liberty of our time at our disposal, and all our
nearest belongings around us. In the course of these rambles we had
arrived at the town of Bregenz, on the Lake of Constance, where the
inn-keeper, to whom I was known, accosted me with all the easy freedom
of his calling, and half-jestingly alluded to my mode of travelling as a
most unsatisfactory and wasteful way of life, which could never turn out
profitably to me or mine. From the window where we were standing as we
talked I could descry the tall summit of an ancient castle or _schloss_,
about two miles away; and, rather to divert my antagonist from his
argument than with any more serious purpose, I laughingly told my host,
if he could secure me such a fine old chateau as that I then looked
at, I should stable my nags and rest where I was. On the following day,
thinking of nothing less than my late conversation, the host entered
my room to assure me that he had been over to the castle, had seen
the baron, and learned that he would have no objection to lease me
his chateau, provided I took it for a fixed term, and with all its
accessories, not only of furniture but cows and farm-requisites. One of
my horses, accidentally pricked in shoeing, had obliged me at the moment
to delay a day or two at the inn, and for want of better to do, though
without the most remote intention of becoming a tenant of the castle, I
yielded so far to my host's solicitation as to walk over and see it.
If the building itself was far from faultless it was spacious and
convenient, and its position on a low hill in the middle of a lawn finer
than anything I can convey, the four sides of the _schloss_ commanding
four distinct and perfectly dissimilar views. By the north it looked
over a wooded plain, on which stood the Convent of Mehreran, and beyond
this, the broad expanse of the Lake of Constance. The south opened on a
view towards the Upper Rhine and the valley that led to the Via Mala.
On the east you saw the Gebhardsberg and its chapel, and the lovely
orchards that bordered Bregenz; while to the west rose the magnificent
Lenten and the range of the Swiss Alps--their summits lost in the
clouds. I was so enchanted by the glorious panorama around me, and so
carried away by the thought of a life of quiet labour and rest in such
a spot, that, after hearing a very specious account of the varied
economies I should secure by this choice of a residence, and the
resources I should have in excursions on all sides, I actually
contracted to take the chateau, and became the master of the Bieder
Schloss from that day.*

     * Dr Fitzpatrick, in his 'Life of Lever,' furnishes a more
     prosaic account of the annexing of the Tyrolean castle,--Mr
     Stephen Pearce being given as the authority for the
     unromantic statement that the _schloss_ was advertised "to
     let," and that while the Levers were sojourning in Carlsruhe
     negotiations were opened with Baron Pôllnitz, and Mr Pearce
     was despatched to Bregenz, where he entered into an
     agreement for a short lease of "the premises." This, of
     course, spoils the story which Charles Lever tells; but I
     have in my possession a letter written by Mr Pearce at
     Riedenburg on May 26,1846, quoted at p. 210 of vol i., which
     would seem to bear out the tale told by the author of 'The
     Knight of Gwynne' in 1872.--E. D.

Having thus explained by what chance I came to pitch my home in this
little-visited spot, I have no mind to dwell further on these Tyrol
experiences than so far as they concern the story I wrote there. If the
scene in which I was living, the dress of the peasants, the daily wants
and interests, had been my prompters, I could not have addressed myself
to an Irish theme; but long before I had come to settle at Riedenburg,
when wandering among the Rhine villages, on the vine-clad slopes of
the Bergstrasse, I had been turning over in my mind the Union period of
Ireland as the era for a story. It was a time essentially rich in the
men we are proud of as a people, and peculiarly abounding in traits of
self-denial and devotion which, in the corruption of a few, have been
totally lost sight of, the very patriotism of the time having been
stigmatised as factious opposition or unreasoning resistance to wiser
counsels. That nearly every man of ability in the land was against the
Minister; that not only all the intellect of Ireland but all the high
spirit of its squirearchy and the generous impulses of the people were
opposed to the Union,--there is no denying. If eloquent appeal and
powerful argument could have saved a nation, Henry Grattan or Plunkett
would not have spoken in vain; but the measure was decreed before it
was debated, and the annexation of Ireland was made a Cabinet decision
before it came to Irishmen to discuss it. I had no presumption to
imagine I could throw any new light on the history of the period, or
illustrate the story of the measure by any novel details; but I thought
it would not be uninteresting to sketch the era itself; what aspect
society presented; how the country gentleman of the time bore himself
in the midst of solicitations and temptings the most urgent and
insidious,--what, in fact, was the character of that man whom no
national misfortunes could subdue, no ministerial blandishments corrupt;
of him, in short, that an authority with little bias to the land of his
birth has called--The First Gentleman in Europe. I know well, I feel too
acutely, how inadequately I have pictured what I desired to paint; but
even, after the interval of years, I look back on my poor attempt with
the satisfaction of one whose aim was not ignoble. A long and deep
experience of life permits me to say that in no land nor amongst any
people have I ever found the type of what we love to emblematise by the
word gentleman so distinctly marked out as in the educated and travelled
Irishman of that period. The same unswerving fidelity of friendship, the
same courageous devotion to a cause, the same haughty contempt for all
that was mean or unworthy: these, with the lighter accessories of a
genial temperament, joyous disposition, and a chivalrous respect for
women, made up what, at least, I had in my mind when I tried to present
to my reader my Knight of Gwynne. That my character of him was not
altogether ideal, I can give no better proof than the fact that during
the course of publication I received several letters from persons
unknown to me, asking whether I had not drawn my portrait from this or
that original,--many concurring in the belief that I had taken as my
model The Knight of Kerry, whose qualities, I am well assured, fully
warranted the suspicion. For my attempt to depict the social habits of
the period I had but to draw on my memory. In my boyish days I had
heard much of the period, and was familiar with most of the names of its
distinguished men. Anecdotes of Henry Grattan, Flood, Parsons,
Ponsonby, and Curran jostled in my mind with stories of their immediate
successors, the Burkes and the Plunketts, whose fame has come down to
the very day we live in. As a boy it was my fortune to listen to the
narratives of the men who had been actors in the events of that exciting
era, and who could even show me in modern Dublin the scenes where
memorable events occurred, and not infrequently the very houses where
celebrated convivialities had taken place. Thus, from Drogheda Street,
the modern Sackville Street, where the beaux of the day lounged in all
their bravery, to the Circular Road, where a long file of carriages,
six-in-hand, evidenced the luxury and tone of display of the capital, I
was deeply imbued with the features of the time, and I ransacked the old
newspapers and magazines with a zest which only great familiarity with
the names of the leading characters could have inspired. Though I have
many regrets on the same score, there is no period of my life in which I
have the same sorrow for not having kept some sort of notebook, instead
of trusting to a memory most fatally unretentive and uncertain.
Through this omission I have lost traces of innumerable epigrams
_jeux-d'esprit_; and even where my memory has occasionally relieved
the effort, I have forgotten the author. To give an instance: the witty

     "With, a name that is borrowed, a title that's bought,
     Sir William would fain be a gentleman thought:
     His wit is but cunning, his courage but vapour,
     His pride is but money, his money but paper."

These lines, wrongfully attributed to a political leader in the Irish
House, were in reality written by Lovell Edgeworth on the well-known Sir
William Gladdowes, who became Lord Newcomen; and the verse was not only
poetry but prophecy, for on his bankruptcy, some years afterwards, the
sarcasm became fact--his money _was_ but paper. The circumstance of the
authorship of the lines was communicated to me by Miss Edgeworth,
whose letter was my first step in acquaintance with her, and gave me a
pleasure and a pride which long years have not been able to obliterate.
I remember in that letter she told me that she was in the habit of
reading my story aloud to the audience of her nephews and nieces,--a
simple announcement that imparted such a glow of proud delight to me
that I can yet recall the courage with which I resumed the writing of my
tale, and the hope it suggested of my being able one day to win a place
of honour amongst those who, like herself, had selected Irish traits
as the characteristics to adorn fiction. For Con Heffernan I had an
original. For Bagenal Daly, too, I was not without a model. His sister
is purely imaginary, but that she is not unreal I am bold enough to
hope, since several have assured me that they know where I found my
type. In my brief sketch of Lord Castlereagh I was not, I need scarcely
say, much aided by the journals and pamphlets of the time, where his
character and conduct were ruthlessly and most falsely assailed. It was
my fortune to have possessed the close intimacy of one who had acted as
his private secretary, and whose abilities have since raised him to a
high station and great employment; and from him I came to know the real
nature of one of the ablest statesmen of his age, as he was one of the
most attractive companions and most accomplished gentlemen. I have no
vain pretence to believe that by my weak and unfinished sketch I have
in any way vindicated the Minister who carried the Union, but I have at
least tried to represent him as he was in the society of his intimates:
his gay and cheerful temperament, his frank nature, and--what least the
world is disposed to concede to him--his sincere belief in the honesty
of men whose convictions were adverse to him, and who could not be
won over to his opinions. I have not endeavoured to conceal the gross
corruption of an era which remains to us a national shame, but I would
wish to lay stress on the fact that not a few resisted offers and
temptations which, to men struggling with humble fortune and linked for
life with the fate of the weaker country, must redound to their high
credit. All the nobler their conduct, as around them on every side
were the great names of the land trafficking for title and place, and
shamelessly demanding office for their friends and relatives as the
price of their own adhesion. For that degree of intimacy which I have
represented as existing between Bagenal Daly and Freney the Robber, I
have been once or twice reprehended for conveying a false and unreal
view of the relations of the time; but the knowledge I myself had of
Freney, of his habits and his exploits, was given to me by a well-known
and highly connected Irish gentleman who represented a county in
the Irish parliament, and who was a man of unblemished honour, and
conspicuous alike in station and ability. And there is still--and once
the trait existed more markedly in Ireland--a wonderful sympathy between
all classes and conditions of people, so that the old stories and
traditions that amuse the crouching listener round the hearth of the
cottage find their way into luxurious drawing-rooms; and by their means
a brotherhood of sentiment was maintained between the highest class in
the land and the humblest peasant who laboured for his daily bread. I
tried to display the effect of this strange teaching on the mind of
a cultivated gentleman when I was describing The Knight of Gwynne. I
endeavoured to show the "Irishry" of his nature was no other than the
play of those qualities by which he appreciated his countrymen and was
appreciated by them. So powerful is this sympathy and so strong the
sense of national humour through all classes of the people, that each is
able to entertain a topic from the same point of view as his neighbour,
and the subtle _equivoque_ in the polished witticism which amuses the
gentleman is never lost on the untutored ear of the peasant. Is there
any other land of which one can say so much? If this great feature of
attractiveness pertains to the country and adds to its adaptiveness as
the subject of fiction, I cannot but feel that to un-Irish ears it is
necessary to make an explanation which will serve to show that what
would elsewhere imply a certain blending of station and condition is
here but a proof of that widespread understanding by which, however
divided by race, tradition, and religion, Irishmen are always able to
appeal to certain sympathies and dispositions held in common, and to
feel the tie of a common country. At the period in which I placed my
story the rivalry between the two nations was, with all its violence,
by no means ungenerous. No contemptuous estimate of Irishmen formed
the theme of English journalism; and between the educated men of both
countries there was scarcely a jealousy. The character which political
strife subsequently assumed changed much of this spirit, and dyed
nationalities with an amount of virulence which, with all its faults
and all its shortcomings, we do not find in the times of "The Knight of


I first thought of this story--I should say I planned it, if the
expression were not misleading--when living at the Lake of Como. There,
in a lovely little villa--the Cima--on the border of the lake, with that
glorious blending of Alpine scenery and garden-like luxuriance around
me, and little or none of interruption and intercourse, I had abundant
time to make acquaintance with my characters, and follow them into
innumerable situations and through adventures far more extraordinary and
exciting than I dared afterwards to recount. I do not know how it may
be with other storytellers, but I have to own for myself that the
personages of a novel gain over me at times a degree of interest very
little inferior to that inspired by living and real people, and that
this is especially the case when I have found myself in some secluded
spot and seeing little of the world. To such an ascendancy has this
deception attained, that more than once I have found myself trying to
explain why this person should have done that, and by what impulse that
other was led into something else. In fact, I have found that there are
conditions of the mind in which purely imaginary creations assume the
characters of actual people, and act positively as though they were
independent of the will that invented them. Of the strange manner in
which imagination can thus assume the mastery, and for a while, at
least, have command over the mind, I cannot give a stronger instance
within my own experience than the mode in which 'Roland Cashel' was
first conceived. When I began I intended that the action should be
carried on in the land where the story opened. The scene on every side
of me had shed its influence; the air was weighty with the perfume of
the lime and the orange. To days of dazzling brilliancy there succeeded
nights of tropical splendour, with stars of almost preternatural
magnitude streaking the calm lake with long lines of light. To people
a scene like this with the sort of characters that might befit it, was
rather a matter of necessity with me than of choice, and it was then
that Maritana revealed herself to me with a charm of loveliness I have
never been able to repicture. It was there I bethought me of those
passionate natures in which climate, and soil, and vegetation reproduce
themselves, glowing, ardent, and voluptuous as they are. It was there
my fancy loved to stray among the changeful incidents of lives of wild
adventure and wilder passion; and to imagine strange discords that could
be evoked between the traits of a land that recalled Paradise and the
natures that were only angelic in the fall. I cannot trust to my memory
to remind me of the sort of tale I meant to write. I know there was to
have been a perfect avalanche of adventure on land and on sea. I know
that through a stormy period of daily peril and excitement the traits of
the Northern temperament in Roland himself were to have asserted their
superiority over his more impulsive comrades; I know he was to have that
girl's love against a rivalry that set life in the issue; and I have
a vague impression of how such a character might come by action and
experience to develop such traits as make men the rulers of their
fellows. Several of the situations occur to me, but not a single clue
to the story. There are even now scenes before me of prairie life and
lonely rides in passes of the Pampas,--of homes where the civilised
man had never seen a brother nor heard a native tongue. It is in vain I
endeavour to recall anything like a connected narrative. All that I can
well remember is the great hold the characters had taken in my mind--how
they peopled the landscape around me, and followed me wherever I went.
This was in autumn. As winter drew nigh we moved into an Italian
city,* much frequented by foreigners, and especially the resort of our

     * Florence.

The new life of this place and the interest they excited, so totally
unlike all that I had left at my little villa, effected a complete
revolution in my thoughts, utterly routing the belief I had indulged
in as to the characters of my story, and the incidents in which they
displayed themselves. Up to this all my efforts had been, as it were, to
refresh my mind as to a variety of events and people I had once known,
and to try if I could not recall certain situations which had interested
me. Now the spell was broken, all the charm of illusion gone, and I
woke to the dreary consciousness of my creatures being mere shadows, and
their actions as unreal as themselves. There is a sort of intellectual
bankruptcy in such awakenings; and I know of few things so discouraging
as this sudden revulsion from dreamland to the cold _terra firma_
of unadorned fact. There was little in the city we now lived in to
harmonise with "romance." It was, in fact, all that realism could
accomplish with the aids of every taste and passion of modern society.
That this life of present-day dissipation should be enacted in scenes
where every palace, and every street, every monument, and, indeed, every
name, recalled a glorious past, may not impossibly have heightened
the enjoyment of the drama, but most unquestionably it vulgarised the
actors. Instead of the Orinoco and its lands of feathery palms, I had
before me the Arno and its gay crowds of loungers, the endless tide of
equipages, and the strong pulse-beat of an existence that even, in the
highways of life, denotes pleasure and emotion. What I had of a plan
was lost to me from that hour. I was again in the whirlpool of active
existence, and the world around me was deep--triple deep--in all
cases of loving and hating, and plotting and gambling, of intriguing,
countermining, and betraying, as very polite people would know how to
do,--occupations to watch which inspire an intensity of interest unknown
in any other condition of existence. Out of these impressions thus
enforced came all the characters of my story. Not one was a portrait,
though in each and all were traits taken from life. If I suffered myself
on one single occasion to amass too many of the characteristics of
an individual into a sketch, it was in the picture of the Dean of
Drumcondra; but there I was drawing from recollection, and not able
to correct, as I should otherwise have done, what might seem too close
adherence to a model. I have been told that in the character of Linton I
have exaggerated wickedness beyond all belief. I am sorry to reply that
I made but a faint copy of him who suggested that personage, and who
lives and walks the stage of life as I write. One or two persons--not
more--who know him whose traits furnished the picture, are well aware
that I have neither overdrawn my sketch nor exaggerated my drawing. The
Kennyfeck young ladies, I am anxious to say, are not from life; nor is
Lady Kilgoff, though I have heard surmises to the contrary. These are
all the explanations and excuses that occur to me I have to make of this
story. Its graver faults are not within the pale of apology, and for
these I only ask indulgence--the same indulgence that has never been
denied me.


An eminent apothecary of my acquaintance once told me that to each
increase of his family he added ten per cent to the price of his drugs;
and as his quiver was full of daughters, a "black-draught," when I
knew him, was a more costly cordial than curaçoa. To apply this: I
may mention that I had a daughter born to me about the time that 'Con
Cregan' dates from, and not having at my command the same resources
as my friend the chemist, I adopted the alternative of writing another
story, to be published contemporaneously with 'The Daltons'; and
in order not to incur the reproach--so natural in criticism--of
over-writing myself, I took care that the work should come out without a
name. I am not sure that I made any attempt to disguise my style. I
was conscious of scores of blemishes--I decline to call them
mannerisms--that would betray me; but I believe I trusted most of all
to the fact that I was making my monthly appearance in another story
and with another publisher,* and I hoped my small duplicity would escape
undetected. I was aware that there was a certain amount of peril in
running an opposition coach on the line I had, in some degree, made my
own; not to say that it might be questionable policy to glut the
public with a kind of writing more remarkable for peculiarity than for
perfection. I remember that excellent Irishman, Bianconi**--not the
less Irish that he was born at Lucca (which was simply a "bull")--once
telling me that in order to popularise a road on which few people were
then travelling, and on which his daily two-horse car was accustomed to
go its journey with two (or at most three) passengers, the idea occurred
to him of starting an opposition conveyance--of course in perfect
secrecy and with every outward show of its being a genuine rival.
He effected his object with such success that his own agents were
completely "taken in," and never wearied of reporting, for his
gratification, all the shortcomings and disasters of the rival company.
At length, when the struggle between the competitors was crucial, one
of Bianconi's drivers rushed frantically into his office one day crying
out, "Give me a crown piece to drink your honour's health for what I
have done to-day."

     * 'Con Cregan' was published by W. S. Orr & Co., Paternoster
     Bow. 'The Daltons' was published by Chapman & HalL--E. D.

     ** Charles Bianconi, an Italian who revolutionised road
     traffic in Ireland.--E. D. I passed her on the long hill
     when she was blown, and I bruk her heart before she reached
     the top."

"What was it, Larry?"

"I killed the yallow mare of the opposition car.

"After this I gave up the opposition," said my friend. "Mocking was
catching, as the old proverb says, and I thought that one might carry a
joke a little too far." I had this experience before me, and I will not
say that it did not impress me. I imagined, however, that I did not care
on which horse I stood to win: in other words, I persuaded myself it
was a matter of perfect indifference to me which book took best with
the public--whether the reader thought better of 'The Daltons' or 'Con
Cregan.' That I totally misunderstood myself, or misconceived the case
before me, I am now quite ready to own. For one notice of 'The Daltons'
by the press there were at least three or four of 'Con Cregan'; and
while the former was dismissed with a few polite and measured phrases,
the latter was largely praised and freely quoted. Nor was this all. The
critics discovered in 'Con Cregan' a freshness and a vigour which were
so sadly deficient in 'The Daltons.' It was, they averred, the work of
a less practised writer, but of one whose humour was more subtle, and
whose portraits, roughly sketched as they were, indicated a far higher
intellect than that of the well-known author of 'Harry Lorrequer.' The
unknown--for there was no attempt made to guess who the writer was--was
pronounced not to be an imitator of Mr Lever,--though there were certain
small points of resemblance. He was clearly original in his conception
of character, in his conduct of his story, and in his dialogue; and
there was displayed a knowledge of life in certain scenes and under
certain conditions to which Mr Lever could lay no claim. One critic,
who had discovered some features of resemblance between the two writers,
uttered a friendly caution to Mr Lever to look to his laurels, for there
was a rival in the field possessing many of the characteristics by which
he first won public favour, but the unknown author possessed a racy
drollery in description and a quaintness in his humour all his own. It
was the amusement of one of my children at the time to collect these
sage comments and to torment me with them; and I remember a droll little
note-book in which they were pasted, and from which quotations were read
from time to time with no small display of merriment. It may sound
very absurd to confess it, but I was excessively amazed at the superior
success of the unacknowledged book, and I felt the rivalry as painfully
as though I had never written a line of 'Con Cregan.' Was it that I
thought well of one story and meanly of the other, and in consequence
was angry with my critics? I suspect not. I imagine that I was hurt at
discovering how little hold I had, in my acknowledged name, on a public
with whom I fancied I was on such good terms, and that it pained me to
see with what ease a new and a nameless man could push me from the place
I had believed to be my own.


I always wrote, after my habit, in the morning. I never turned to
'Con Cregan' until nigh midnight; and I can still remember the widely
different feelings with which I addressed myself to the task I liked--to
a story which, in the absurd fashion I have mentioned, was associated
with wounded self-love. It is scarcely necessary for me to say that
there was no plan whatever in 'Con Cregan.' My notion was that the hero,
once created, would not fail to find adventures. The vicissitudes of
daily poverty would beget shifts and contrivances: with his successes
would come ambition and daring. Meanwhile a growing knowledge of life
would develop his character, and I should soon see whether he would
win the silver spoon or spoil the horn. I ask pardon in the most humble
manner for presuming for a moment to associate my hero with the great
original of Le Sage.*

     * This refers to the sub-title of 'The Confessions of Con
     Cregan'--The Irish Gil Bias.'--E. D.

But I used the word Irish adjectively and with the same amount of
qualification that one employs to a diamond, and indeed, as I have read
it in a London paper, to a lord. An American officer, of whom I saw much
at the time, was my guide to the interior of Mexico: he had been in the
Santa Fé expedition, was a man of most adventurous disposition, with
a love for stirring incident and peril which even broken health and a
failing constitution could not subdue. It was often very difficult for
me to tear myself away from his Texan and Mexican experiences,--his wild
scenes of prairie life, or his sojourn amongst Indian tribes--and to
keep to the more commonplace events of my own story. Nor could all my
entreaties confine him to descriptions of those places and scenes which
I needed for my own characters. The saunter after tea-time with this
companion, generally along that little river that tumbles through the
valley of the Bagni di Lucca, was the usual preparation for my night's
work; and I came to it as intensely possessed by Mexico--dress, manner,
and landscape--as though I had been drawing on the recollections of
a former journey. So completely separated in my mind by the different
parts of the day were the two tales, that no character of 'The Daltons'
ever crossed my mind after nightfall, nor was there a trace of 'Con
Cregan' in my head at breakfast next morning. None of the characters of
'Con Cregan' has been taken from life. The one bit of reality is in
the sketch of Anticosti, where I myself suffered once a very small
shipwreck, of which I retain a very vivid recollection to this hour.
I have already owned that I bore a grudge to the story; nor have I
outlived the memory of the chagrin it cost me, though it is many a year
since I acknowledged that 'Con Cregan' was written by the author of
'Harry Lorrequer.'


When I had made my arrangements with my publishers for this new story,
I was not sorry, for many reasons, to place the scene of it in Ireland.
One of my late critics, in noticing 'Roland Cashel' and 'The Daltons,'
mildly rebuked me for having fallen into doubtful company, and
half-censured--in Bohemian--several of the characters in these novels.
I was not then, still less am I now, disposed to argue the point with my
censor, and show that there is a very wide difference between the people
who move in the polite world, with a very questionable morality, and
those patented adventurers whose daily existence is the product of daily
address. The more one sees of life, the more he is struck by the fact
that the mass of mankind is rarely very good or very bad, that the
business of life is carried on with mixed motives, the best people being
those who are least selfish, and the worst being little other than those
who seek their own objects with slight regard for the consequences to
others, and even less scruple as to the means. Any uniformity in good or
evil would be the death-blow to that genteel comedy which goes on around
us, and whose highest interest very often centres in the surprises we
give ourselves by unexpected lines of action and unlooked-for impulses.
As this strange drama unfolded itself before me, it had become a passion
with me to watch the actors, and speculate on what they might do. For
this Florence offered an admirable stage. It was eminently cosmopolitan,
and, in consequence, less under the influence of any distinct code of
public opinion than any section of the several nationalities I might
have found at home. There was a universal toleration abroad: and the
Spaniard conceded to the German, and the Russian to the Englishman, much
on the score of nationality, and did not question too closely a morality
which, after all, might have been little more than a conventional habit.
Exactly in the same way, however, that one hurries away from the life
of a city and its dissipations to breathe the fresh air and taste the
delicious quiet of the country, did I turn from the scenes of splendour,
from the crush of wealth, and the conflict of emotion, to that Green
Island where so many of my sympathies were intertwined, and where
the great problem of human happiness was on its trial on issues that
differed wonderfully little from those that were being tried in gilded
salons, and by people whose names were blazoned in history. Ireland, at
the time I speak of, was beginning to feel that sense of distrust and
jealousy between the owner and the tiller of the soil which, later on,
was to develop itself into open feud. The old ties that have bound the
humble to the rich man, and which were hallowed by reciprocal acts of
goodwill and benevolence, were being loosened. Benefits were canvassed
with suspicion, ungracious or unholy acts were treasured up as cruel
wrongs. The political agitator had so far gained the ear of the people
that he could persuade them that there was not a hardship or a grievance
of their lot that could not be laid at the door of the landlord. He was
taught to regard the old relation of love and affection to the owner of
the soil as the remnants of a barbarism that had had its day; and he
was led to believe that whether the tyranny that crushed him was the
Established Church or the landlord, there was a great Liberal party
ready to aid him in resisting either or both when he could summon
courage for the effort. By what prompting the poor man was brought to
imagine that a reign of terror would suffice to establish him in an
undisputed possession of the soil, and that the best lease was a loaded
musket, it is neither my wish nor my duty to here narrate; I only desire
to call my reader's attention to the time itself as a transition period
when the peasant had begun to unclasp some of the ties that had
bound him to his landlord, and had not yet conceived the idea of that
formidable conspiracy which issues its death-warrants, and never is at a
loss for agents to enforce them. There were at the time some who, seeing
the precarious condition of the period, had their grave forebodings of
what was to come when further estrangement between the two classes was
accomplished, and when the poor man should come to see in the rich
only an oppressor and a tyrant. There was not at that time the armed
resistance to rents, nor the threatening letter system to which we were
afterwards to become accustomed, still less was there the thought that
the Legislature would interfere to legalise the demands by which the
tenant was able to coerce his landlord; and for a brief interval there
did seem a possibility of reuniting once again, by the ties of benefit
and gratitude, the two classes whose welfare depends on concord and
harmony. I have not the shadow of a pretext to be thought didactic, but
I did believe that if I recalled in fiction some of the traits which
once had bound up the relations of rich and poor, and given to our
social system many of the characteristics of a family, I should be
reviving pleasant memories if not doing something more. To this end I
sketched the character of Mary Martin. By making the opening of my story
date from the time of the Relief Bill, I intended to picture the state
of the country at one of the most memorable eras in its history, and
when an act of the Legislature assumed to redress inequalities, compose
differences, and allay jealousies of centuries' growth, and make two
widely different races one contented people. I had not, I own, any
implicit faith in Acts of Parliament, and I had a fervent belief in
what kindness--when combined with knowledge of Ireland--could do with
Irishmen. I have never heard of a people with whom sympathy could do so
much, nor the want of it be so fatal. I have never heard of any other
people to whom the actual amount of benefit was of less moment than the
mode in which it was bestowed. I have never read of a race who, in great
poverty and many privations, attach a higher value to the consideration
that is bestowed on them than to the actual material boons, and feel
such a seemingly disproportioned gratitude for kind words and generous
actions. What might not be anticipated from a revulsion of sentiment
in a people like this? To what violence might not this passion for
vengeance be carried if the notion possessed them that they, whom she
called her betters, only traded on the weakness of their poverty and the
imbecility of their good faith? It was in a fruitful soil of this kind
that the agitator now sowed the seeds of distrust and disorder, and with
what fatal rapidity the poison reproduced itself and spread, the history
of late years is the testimony.... I have said already, and I repeat it
here, that this character of Mary Martin is purely fictitious; and there
is the more need I should say it since there was once a young lady of
this very name, many traits of whose affection for the people and their
wellbeing might be supposed to be my original. To my great regret I have
never had the happiness to meet her; however, I have heard much of
her devotion and goodness. I am not sure that some of my subordinate
characters were not drawn from life. Mrs Nelligan, I remember, had her
type in a little Galway town I once stopped at; and Dan Nelligan had
much in common with one who has since held a distinguished place on the
Bench. Of the terrible epidemic which devastated Ireland, there was much
for which I drew on my own experience. Of its fearful ravages in the
West, in the wilds of Clare, and that lonely promontory which stretches
at the mouth of the Shannon into the Atlantic, I had been the daily
witness; and even to recall some of the incidents passingly was an
effort of great pain. Of one of the features of the people at this
disastrous time I could not say enough; nor could any words of mine do
justice to the splendid heroism with which they bore up, and the noble
generosity they showed to each other in misfortune. It is but too often
remarked how selfish men are made by misery, and how fatal is a common
affliction to that charity that cares for others. There was none of
this here: I never in any condition or class recognised more traits
of thoughtful kindness and self-denial than I did amongst these
poor, famished, and forgotten people. I never witnessed, in the same
perfection, how a widespread affliction could call up a humanity great
as itself, and make very commonplace natures something actually heroic
and glorious. Nothing short of the fatal tendency I have to digression,
and the watchful care I am bound to bestow against this fault, prevented
me from narrating several incidents with which my own experience had
made me acquainted. Foreign as these were to the burden of my tale, it
was only by an effort I overcame the temptation to recall them. If a
nation is to be judged by her bearing under calamity, Ireland--and she
has had some experiences--comes well through the ordeal. That we may yet
see how she will sustain her part in happier circumstances is my hope
and prayer, and that the time be not too far off!


'Lord Kilgobbin' was published in three volumes early in 1872. "In
finishing it," its author said, "I have also finished my own career as
a story-writer. Time was when the end of a journey only heralded the
preparation for another. Now the next must be a longer road.... I do
so long for rest--rest." The novel was dedicated "to the memory of one
whose companionship made the happiness of a long life.... The task
that was once my joy and pride I have lived to find associated with
my sorrow. It is not then without a cause I say--I hope this may be
my last." In May Mr and Mrs Blackwood, accompanied by Miss Blackwood
(afterwards Mrs Porter), set out from Edinburgh. They visited Vienna,
and here a rumour reached them that Charles Lever was dangerously ill. A
few days later, while the Blackwoods were visiting Robert Lytton ("Owen
Meredith ") at his country seat near Vienna, they heard that Lever was
better. Mrs Porter (in 'The House of Blackwood') gives her impressions
of the visit to Lever's home, and her memories of the novelist's last
days, vividly and with genuine feeling:--

"We set off to Trieste," writes Mrs Porter, "to see him, but not to stay
in his house. Early the morning after our arrival Miss Lever called with
the welcome news that Mr Lever was much better, and she took my father
back with her to see him. When he returned to us he said it was arranged
we should all dine with the Levers, and shortly before four we set off
to drive to their villa, which was at the top of a hill and near some
public gardens--so near that we could hear the German waltzes the band
played as we sat out in the Levers' own garden, which was remarkably
pretty, and full of shady trees. When we arrived Lever was sitting in a
bright cheerful room with a large window, and a balcony opening off it
covered with roses and creepers. He looked better and stronger than we
had expected to see him, and the sight of his friend seemed to bring
back a flicker of the old spirit, and he talked and laughed gaily during
the dinner, which was at four o'clock. Lever's appearance did not give
the impression of ill-health any more than it suggested the hardworking
man of letters or denizen of the Consulate, but rather one would have
imagined him to be a big, jolly, country gentleman, with his stalwart
frame and ruddy face--his air of hearty hospitality and welcome still
further strengthening the impression. The rest of the party were,
besides his two daughters, Mr Monson and Mr Smart.

"After dinner we adjourned to the garden for coffee and cigarettes, and
Mr Lever sat up till very late. The second evening the same pleasant
party, with the addition of the clergyman, Mr Callaghan; the same amount
of laughing and talking, perhaps rather more. Many were the jokes about
their neighbours, the society being mainly composed of wealthy Jewish
merchants and their families; but the impression was that the jokes were
all kindly, the wit without sting, and that the Jews had been made the
best of in that cheery happy-go-lucky household. Indeed he mentioned
that on some festive occasion Lord Dalling, in an amiable whisper, had
remarked at last, 'Lever, I like your Jews,' and this, of course, made
everybody feel quite happy. My father had a great wish to see Miramar,
the home of the ill-fated Archduke Maximilian, and Lever was as anxious
to show it to him; but though we put it off till the last day of our
visit, he was unequal to the exertion of driving so far, so Miss Lever
drove with us to the house.

"And now comes the sad part, our last evening at the Villa Gasteiger.
My father had dreaded this parting: he knew his friend was not really
better--that the heart complaint he suffered from might prove fatal at
any time; but he put the thought away from him when they were meeting
every day. It was only now, as we approached his house for the last
time, that we felt weighed down by something impending. Mr Lever was in
the garden when we arrived, but soon dinner T was announced, and we went
into the house, the same party as the first evening. The laughter and
chaff at dinner had been as usual, and Mr Lever had been most delightful
and amusing--the life and soul of the party. Afterwards we sat out in
the garden under the trees, the band over the way playing as usual. Mr
Lever said he was very proud of it. He asked for tea to be brought
out there, and when told it was coming said, half to himself, 'So is
Christmas,' with a smile to us. They were all smoking, and he sat in
the middle of the group in an arm-chair, wearing his big shady hat, my
father and mother on each side of him. He would not have the lamp they
usually had in the garden, so it was nearly dark when the other guests
sauntered away, leaving him alone with the friends who were soon to bid
him farewell. He spoke very despairingly of himself, as though he should
not recover, and said that always about that time after dinner he had a
'false feeling of health,' which he knew could not last. A great sadness
came over us as we sat on, not talking much, listening to the band,
which was playing all the time, giving an unreality to the scene, as
though we were taking part in a drama. Our carriage meanwhile had come
up, and had gone round to the back of the house. We heard it, but did
not know how to get up and say good-bye. At last my father rose, and
there was the usual stir and looking for cloaks and wraps, which seemed
to help off our departure, poor Lever joking and laughing as he helped
to wrap us up, and escorted us to the carriage. We shook hands with him,
and said good-bye to the others there. As we drove away we looked back
and saw him standing with his daughters watching us and waving farewell.
We knew it was really good-bye, and our drive was a silent one.

"Our apprehensions about Lever's health were only too well founded, for
on our reaching Venice at five o'clock the following afternoon we were
met by a telegram saying he had died during the day [1st June]. My
father immediately returned to Trieste by a steamer which was just
starting, to be of what use he might to his friend's daughters. The
journey by sea occupied twelve hours, and he wrote the next morning as
follows: 'I got here about seven this morning, after a not unpleasant
voyage, considering the company and the circumstances. After bath and
breakfast I went to Smart's room and found him and Monson. They said at
once how pleased the daughters would be. They had not liked to ask me to
come in the telegram, but hoped and expected I would come. I went up and
sat for more than an hour with the two mourners. Poor souls! it was most
affecting to hear them pouring forth about all their father's goodness
and kindness. Poor Lever had sat talking about us after we left until
about his usual hour, twelve. He had the usual restless night until
about five, when he fell asleep. He awoke at the usual time for his
letters, and after reading them and chatting he lay down to rest. They
looked in from time to time as they were in the habit of doing, and
found him sleeping quietly, until Miss Lever, going in towards three,
found he had apparently passed away without struggle or pain.... It
is most melancholy to think of our fine bright friend. Sitting in that
drawing-room to-day looking out on the garden, I could hardly help
bursting out crying. It seemed hardly realisable. However, his last
evening was a bright one, and it was an end such as he had wished. He
had a perfect horror of living on weakened in and mind, a weariness to
himself and others.'" At six o'clock on the evening of June 3, 1872,
all that was mortal of Charles Lever was laid in the British Cemetery
at Trieste, alongside the remains of her "whose companionship made the
happiness of a long life."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Charles Lever, His Life in His Letters, Vol. II" ***

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