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[184] to know something of the wife whom Alfieri loved with the most devoted passion to the last moment of his life. I need not tell you she is old, since Dupaty's book is filled with admiration of her, nearly forty years ago; but she has preserved all the vivacity of youth, and takes as strong an interest in the world as she ever did. Every evening at eight o'clock she receives her friends and the strangers introduced to her, and on Saturday night holds a kind of levee, composed of all the first society in Florence, which comes there to pay her its court; but at ten it is understood that her society finishes, and everybody goes away.

I went to see her nearly every evening while I was in Florence, and enjoyed my visits very much, especially when few people were there. I talked with her a great deal of Alfieri, and she showed me his library, in which there are a great many curious notes, made by himself, generally severe, and often cruelly personal. From him she probably acquired a bold style of talking,—which is very rare in women on the Continent, and therefore struck me the more,—and a direct, independent way of inquiring for your opinion and judgment which would have struck me anywhere. One evening she asked me whether I did not think England had gained, as a nation, by the exile of the Stuarts. She knew what I must think beforehand; and, though it certainly would, as a general rule, wound her feelings to be answered as decidedly in the affirmative as I did, yet she evidently showed a greater regard for me, finding I did not shrink from the proof to which she put me. Now, I say, this is an extraordinary woman; for, if she were not, she would not risk such a question or respect such a reply. On all subjects she talks very well, and has a wide and judicious circumspection in literature, very rare in women on the Continent; so that, on the whole, I think her one of the best [specimens] I have seen.

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