[London—Saturday, 22 May 1869]

Saturday. Heard Halle play and Madame Norman-Neruda in the afternoon. She has the pale strongly impassioned face of a true artist. Her playing is unrivalled. Halle too is wonderful. Went to a party at Conway’s in the evening. Saw Karl Blind’s daughter, Mr. & Mrs Smalley, the Cyrus Fields’, Professor Morley, Scott (David Scott’s brother) and Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Had a long talk with Swinburne who is a half mad poet, a half baked man. He said the four great poets who have espoused the cause of liberty in England, Landor, Byron, Shelley and (if I may say so) myself, belong to the haute noblesse. As to this low german family now upon the throne, I have studied there [sic] claims to aristocracy well, and they have not one, absolutely none at all. He spoke of Mazzini with worship and affection (who as Mr. Dickens told me the next day is a very grand fellow and worthy of all admiration, though Swinburne does admire him) and gave me a vivid account of his escape from drowning last year in which he said when he saw death stare him in the face, his only regret was that he was not to perish for Italy and liberty. Swinburne’s description of experiencing the first intense feeling of manhood and desire for manly freedom in himself putting himself to terrible proof by climbing a mountain never scaled before nor since and startling birds whose nests had never before been approached causing them to cry in such numbers and with such swells of sound as to seem like some unearthly organ-pipes, was intense & curious and not to be forgotten. He would shriek out as he talked, would twirl his hands nervously, would leap up and down and fling himself at times on the floor. A strange, gifted, weak, diseased, intense, vain, excitable angelic-devil man.


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