[Florence—Sunday, 5 February 1860]

Sunday 5th To church with Lissie and directly after Jamie and I drove to call upon Walter Savage Landor. He remembered Jamie at once although it is 10 years since they met and his reception of us was most cordial. Ah! said he I am 86 now and forget everything. I cant remember the name of my new book published the other day by Nichol in London. Deuce take it!

Talking of Louis Napoleon and of Mrs Browning’s faith in him, he said, “if that woman should put her faith in a man as good as Jesus and he should become of wicked as Pontius Pilate she would not change it. No! not wicked as Pilate because he wasn’t so bad perhaps; he fulfilled the laws of his country only, but any wretch we might name. But I saw the old Napoleon when he was made consul for life in Paris. His face was gentle smooth and olive, like that of a Greek girl. I watched him well. The troops asked to see him and he rode many times up and down before them.”

His pictures are very fine although he has but a handful of his great collection. They are mostly at his Villa which his unnatural son occupies without allowing his father the smallest portion of the fortune he so generously put into his son’s hands. He showed us original pictures of Laura and her husband and a glorious head by Salvator Rosa but was pleased that we asked to see the whole collection which he said had been the finest private collection of old paintings in the world except that of the King of Bavaria and would we go out to see them he said, “without giving his name? The name might make the pictures inaccessible.” Unfortunately several hundred of the paintings had lately been disposed of as his son has no interest in such matters. The old man spoke of Washington as the greatest hero in the noble galaxy. He had a large hand he said which is an excellent sign. Assassins have small hands. Napoleon the most wholesale of assassins had a very small hand.

Reluctantly, but as a duty, we left immediately not however until he had made an appointment to dine with him on Tuesday. As we retired he excused himself from handing me to the carriage. “That staircase” he said “contemptuously renders this politeness an impossibility.”

In the evening we visited Miss Blagden. Here were Mr Trollope, Miss Field, a charming countess and nobody can tell how many more nice people for in the mystic light of those Casa Guidi chambers new wonders we continually revealed. Had a very nice time. Miss B. is to take us to see Bello Sguardo from her balcony.


National Endowment for the Humanities - Logo

Editorial work on The Brownings’ Correspondence is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This website was last updated on 7-23-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top