1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bertie Greatheed

Lord Byron to John Murray, 4 June 1817; Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 4:127-29.



To-day, Pindemonte, the celebrated poet of Verona, called on me; he is a little thin man, with acute and pleasing features; his address good and gentle; his appearance altogether very philosophical; his age about sixty, or more. He is one of their best going. I gave him "Forsyth," as he speaks, or reads rather, a little English, and will find there a favourable account of himself. He enquired after his old Cruscan friends, Parsons, Greathead, Mrs. Piozzi, and Merry, all of whom he had known in his youth. I gave him as bad an account of them as I could, answering, as the false "Solomon Lob" does to "Totterton" in the farce, that they were "all gone dead," and damned by a satire more than twenty years ago; that the name of their extinguisher was Gifford; that they were but a sad set of scribes after all, and no great things in any other way. He seemed, as was natural, very much pleased with this account of his old acquaintances, and went away greatly gratified with that and Mr. Forsyth's sententious paragraph of applause in his own (Pindemonte's) favour. After having been a little libertine in his youth, he is grown devout, and takes prayers, and talks to himself, to keep of the Devil; but for all that, he is a very nice little old gentleman.