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[165]

. . . . At the little village of Mira, on the Brenta, and about fourteen miles from Venice, we came to the villa now occupied by Lord Byron, and, still feeling curious to see him, I went in. It was eleven o'clock, but he was not yet up, and the servant showed me into a room where I found a lively, intelligent gentleman, whom I recognized to be Hobhouse; who, after a youth of dissipation, has now become a severe student. His conversation is animated, acute, and sometimes earnest, but oftener witty . . . .

In a short time Lord Byron came in, looking exactly as he did in London two years and a half ago. In conversation he was more lively and various, and came nearer to what a stranger might expect from him, but still he did not attain it; for I have never heard him make one extraordinary or original observation, though I have heard him make many that were singular and extravagant.

He told me incidentally that M. G. Lewis once translated Goethe's Faust to him extemporaneously, and this accounts for the resemblance between that poem and Manfred, which I could not before account for, as I was aware that he did not know German. His residence in Italy, he said, had given him great pleasure; and spoke of the comparatively small value of his travels in Greece, which, he said, contained not the sixth part of its attractions. Mr. Hobhouse had already told me of a plan formed by himself and Lord Byron to go to the United States, about a year hence, if he (Hobhouse) should not get into Parliament; of which I imagine there may be some chance; but Lord Byron's views were evidently very different from his, and I know not how their plans could be reconciled. Hobhouse, who is a true politician, talked only of seeing a people whose character and institutions are still in the freshness of youth; while Lord Byron, who has nothing of this but the prejudices and passions of a partisan, was evidently thinking only of seeing our Indians and our forests; of standing in the spray of Niagara; even of climbing the Andes, and ascending the Oronoco. They are now in all respects so different that I hardly think they will ever undertake the expedition.

When I happened to tell Lord Byron that Goethe had many personal enemies in Germany, he expressed a kind of interest to know more about it that looked extremely like Shylock's satisfaction that ‘other men have ill luck too’; and when I added the story of the translation of the whole of a very unfair Edinburgh review into German, directly under Goethe's nose at Jena, Byron discovered at first a singular eagerness to hear it, and then, suddenly checking himself, said, as if half in earnest, though still laughing, ‘And yet I don't ’

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