18 June 1826

Letter 18


18 June 1826

Pisa. 18th June 1826.

My dear Severn,

Your letter2 has been forwarded to me from Florence, and I opened it just after having read Alfieri’s Saul.3 I don’t like him a jot the better after returning to him. He is to me most stiff and irksome. As a poet, his verses are full of unnatural transpositions, and his sentences sound like repeated knocks of a hammer. As a dramatist, I find him faulty [in] every way: all his characters speak in the same identical language; none of them interest me; his fables <less> ditto; and the conduct of the tragedies is (as far as I have read) always of the same stamp, the same cast-iron work. This is my opinion, yet I am glad you are pleased with him, as every thing that gives a man pleasure is an acquisition not to be despised. He gives me the megrims;4 so I’ll have nothing more to do with him.

I wish you’d put your money any where but in funds, Roman or otherwise. For some little time past I have been every day about to write with an offer of lending you money in case of need; for I’m no longer so poor, since Dilke wrote me word that some money, belonging to poor Keats, had been miraculously touched from the fangs of Chancery, and that the debt due to me was to be repaid out of it.5

As you never answered me a word about your boy, I at last became fearful of mentioning him. I’m rejoiced he is well, and that he is coming out.6 If he comes to Leghorn, make use of any service I can perform, — it will delight me.

Morgan has been ill, more than once, but not on the account you imagine. His last illness arose from quite another cause, a sort of foolish quarrel with his brother in law. I see little of him, and wish that little less.

Had I not received your letter I should have written this morning to ask you the following questions. Did you ever play tricks on Hazlitt? Did you make him kneel down in a procession, while you stood behind him laughing? Why was he refused admittance in the Sistine chapel? Was it not because he was shabbily dressed? I wish your reply as speedily as possible, as the affair is urgent. In the mean time7 I have contradicted the viper on every point wherein he described you as treating him ill. Take your pen and ink, and authorise me to say more, and that without delay.8

At the same time, though it is a matter of far minor importance, let me know whether I’ve lost or won my wager, — whether the proprietor of a beautiful wife; and the proprietor of a beautiful garden were really banished from Rome at the time you wrote to me they were.

I came here with Carlino to see the illumination. St Peter’s is quite another thing, depending more on the beauty of the building, and the magic effect of the second lighting. Here we have the Arno; and its serpentine form through the city gives a "locale" that cannot be surpassed. I calculated that from 3 to 400,000 lights were blazing in this little city. There was a great deal of taste in the mock-temples, and in the principal palaces. It is the duty of every man in Italy to see it once. There were about 80,000 visitors from all parts of Italy.

The Gordini’s9 are full of "saluti" to you, and they present their respects to Mr Finch, — in which I join them, and I include the ladies.

Your’s most sincerely,
           Chas Brown.

Confusion seize the ironmonger’s ink!10

I shall be in Florence by the time you have this letter.


1 Above the salutation Sharp has penciled, "copied." Address: Al Signore Ornatino / Il Sig. Guiseppe Severn, / Pittore Inglese, / No 22 Vicolo de’ Marroniti, / Roma. Postmarks: Pisa; 22 GIVGNO. [Return to the letter]

2 Untraced. [Return to the letter]

3 Count Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803), Italian poet and dramatist. His Opere in 22 volumes were published in Pisa between 1805 and 1815. [Return to the letter]

4 A severe headache. [Return to the letter]

5 In 1823 George Keats applied for his share of a fund left in Chancery for the Keats children by their grandfather, John Jennings. Hearing of it Brown submitted a bill to George via Dilke for payment of John Keats’ expenses in 1819 and 1820. The bill which was settled by George amounted to £75 4s 5d and included "sundries" of 6s 6d (Stillinger 249-251). For discussions of Brown’s handling of the money, see "Fresh Light" 145-46 and the Introduction par. 17. [Return to the letter]

6 But see 16, 25 Apr. 1831. [Return to the letter]

7 The word "time" is written above "mean" at the right margin. [Return to the letter]

8 See 23 Feb. 1825, n6. [Return to the letter]

9 The family who had looked after Carlino Brown in Pisa. [Return to the letter]

10 Brown was running out of ink. [Return to the letter]