The vividness with which everything in it is presented to sight as well as through the wealth of its imagery, its moods of language — these are characteristics pre-eminent in Gebir". For the next three years Landor led an unsettled life, spent mainly in London. He became a friend of the classics scholar Dr Samuel Parr who lived at Hatton near Warwick and who appreciated Landor as a person and a Latin writer. Landor published "Poems from the Arabic and Persian" in and a pamphlet of Latin verses. During this time he met Isaac Mocatta who stimulated his interest in art and exercised a moderating influence, but Mocatta died In Landor went to Paris where he saw Napoleon at close quarters, and this was enough to put him off the idea of French republicanism.
In the same year he published "Poetry by the Author of Gebir" which included the narrative poems Crysaor and The Phocaeans. Colvin considered Crysaor Landor's finest piece of narrative in blank verse. Landor's brother Robert helped with corrections and additions to "Gebir" and the second edition appeared in About the same time Landor published the whole poem in Latin , which did little to increase readership but appealed to Parr and was considered by Swinburne to be comparable with the English version in might and melody of line, and for power and perfection of language.
Landor travelled the country in constant debt, spending much time at Bath. Here he met Sophia Jane Swift, who was already engaged to her cousin Godwin Swifte, whom she married despite Landor's ardent entreaties in He called her Ianthe and wrote some of his most beautiful love poems to her.
His father died in , which put him in possession of an independent fortune and he settled in Bath, living in grand style. At Bristol in he caught up with Southey, whom he had missed on a trip to the Lake District in the previous year, and the mutual appreciation of the two poets led to a warm friendship. He also wrote a work "The Dun Cow" which was written in defence of his friend Parr who had been attacked in an anonymous work "Guy's Porridge Pot", which Landor was fierce to deny was any work of his.
In he had an heroic impulse to take part in the Peninsular War. At the age of thirty-three, he left England for Spain as a volunteer to serve in the national army against Napoleon. He was disappointed not to take part in any real action and found himself giving support at Bilbao where he was nearly captured. A couple of months later the Convention of Sintra brought an end to the campaign and Landor returned to England. However, when the King restored the Jesuits Landor returned his commission. In Landor wrote "Three letters to Don Francisco Riquelme" giving him the benefit of his wisdom as a participant in the war.
In he wrote "a brave and good letter to Sir Francis Burdett. The Spanish experience provided inspiration for the tragedy of Count Julian , based on Julian, count of Ceuta. Although this demonstrated Landor's distinctive style of writing, it suffered from his failure to study the art of drama and so made little impression.
The plot is difficult to follow unless the story is previously known and concerns a complicated situation after the defeat of the last Visigoth King of Spain. It carries the moral tone of crime propagating crime. Southey undertook to arrange publication and eventually got it published by Murray in , after an initial refusal by Longmans which led Landor to burn another tragedy "Ferranti and Giulio".
Swinburne described it as "the sublimest poem published in our language, between the last masterpiece of Milton Samson Agonistes and the first masterpiece of Shelley , Prometheus Unbound one equally worthy to stand unchallenged beside either for poetic perfection as well as moral majesty. The superhuman isolation of agony and endurance which encircles and exalts the hero is in each case expressed with equally appropriate magnificence of effect. The style of Count Julian , if somewhat deficient in dramatic ease and the fluency of natural dialogue, has such might and purity and majesty of speech as elsewhere we find only in Milton so long and so steadily sustained.
Before going to Spain, he had been looking for a property and settled on Llanthony Abbey in Monmouthshire , a ruined Benedictine abbey. He sold the property at Rugeley which he inherited from his father, and persuaded his mother to sell her Tachbrook estate to contribute to the purchase cost. On his return from Spain he was busy finalising these matters. The previous owner had erected some buildings in the ruins of the ancient abbey, but an Act of Parliament, passed in , was needed to allow Landor to pull down these buildings and construct a house, which was never finished.
He wanted to become a model country gentleman, planting trees, importing sheep from Spain, and improving the roads. In he went to a ball in Bath and seeing a pretty girl exclaimed "That's the nicest girl in the room, and I'll marry her". She was Julia Thuillier, the daughter of an impoverished Swiss banker who had an unsuccessful business at Banbury and had gone to Spain, leaving his family at Bath. Landor had a visit from Southey, after he sent him a letter describing the idylls of country life, including nightingales and glow-worms. However the idyll was not to last long as for the next three years Landor was worried by the combined vexation of neighbours and tenants, lawyers and lords-lieutenant and even the Bishop of St David's , while at the same time he tried to publish an article on Fox, a response to a sycophantic piece by John Bernard Trotter, which was condemned by the prospective publisher John Murray as libellous and damned by Canning and Gifford.
His troubles with the neighbours stemmed from petty squabbles, many arising from his headstrong and impetuous nature. He employed a solicitor one Charles Gabell, who saw him as a client to be milked. His trees were uprooted and his timber stolen.
A man against whom he had to swear the peace drank himself to death, and he was accused of causing the misfortune and when he prosecuted a man for theft he was insulted by the defendant's counsel whom he later "chastised" in his Latin poetry. He was fond of revenge through his verse, Latin or otherwise and gave his opinion of his lawyers in the following piece of doggerel. When the Bishop failed to reply to his letter offering to restore part of the priory Landor followed up saying "God alone is great enough for me to ask anything of twice".
He wanted to become a magistrate and after a row with the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Beaufort , who was suspicious of his republican sympathies, he pursued the matter with the Lord Chancellor, Lord Eldon well known as a High Tory without success. He wasted much effort and money in noble attempts to improve the land, and to relieve the wretchedness and raise the condition of the poorer inhabitants. The final straw was when he let his farmland to one Betham who was incompetent and extravagant and paid no rent. After an expensive action to recover the debts from Betham he had had enough, and decided to leave the country, abandoning Llanthony to his creditors — which was principally his mother.
In Landor left England for Jersey , where he had a quarrel with his wife and set off for France on his own. Eventually she joined him at Tours as did his brother Robert.
Landor soon became dissatisfied with Tours and after tremendous conflicts with his landlady set off in September with his wife and brother on a tempestuous journey to Italy. Landor and his wife finally settled at Como where they stayed for three years. Even here he had troubles for at the time Caroline of Brunswick , wife of the Prince Regent was living there and Landor was suspected of being an agent involved in watching her in case of divorce proceedings. In he insulted the authorities in a Latin poem directed against an Italian poet who had denounced England, not realising that the libel laws in Italy unlike in England applied to Latin writings as well as Italian.
After threatening the regio delegato with a beating he was ordered to leave Como.
In September he went to Genoa and Pisa. He finally settled at Florence in After two years in apartments in the Medici Palace , he settled with his wife and children at the Villa Castiglione. In this, the most important period in his literary career, he produced some of his best known works — the Imaginary Conversations.
The first two volumes of his Imaginary Conversations appeared in  with a second edition in ; a third volume was added in ; and in the fourth and fifth volumes were published. Not until was a fresh instalment added, in the second volume of his collected and selected works. With these works, Landor acquired a high, but not wide literary reputation. He had various disputes with the authorities in Florence.
The theft of some silver led to altercations with the police, whose interviews with tradesmen ended up defining him as a "dangerous man", and the eventual upshot was that the Grand Duke banished him from Florence. Subsequently, the Grand Duke took the matter good-naturedly, and ignored Landor's declaration that, as the authorities disliked his residence, he should reside there permanently. Here he had a dispute with a neighbour about water rights, which led to a lawsuit and a challenge, although the English Consul Kirkup succeeded in arranging the point of honour satisfactorily.
His mother, with whom he had always corresponded affectionately, died in October and his cousin Walter Landor of Rugeley took over the management of the estate in Wales. Landor was happy at Villa Gherardesca for several years, writing books, playing with his children whom he adored and with the nightingales, and planting his gardens. He had many visitors, most notably in Jane Swift Ianthe now a widow, who inspired him to write poetry again.
Later came Henry Crabb Robinson with whom he got on extremely well. Although this sold only 40 copies, Landor was unconcerned as he was working on "High and Low Life in Italy". This last work he sent to Crabb Robinson for publication but he had difficulties with publishers and it did not appear until In Ablett persuaded him visit England, where he met many old friends. He also visited his family in Staffordshire — his brother Charles was rector of Colton, and his cousin Walter Landor of Rugeley was trying to deal with the complex business of Llanthony.
On returning to Fiesole he found his children out of hand and obtained a German governess for them. Back in Italy he met Richard Monckton Milnes who later wrote about him.
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Lady Blessington sold "Shakespeare" for him. In Ianthe visited again, and brought her half-sister, Mrs Paynter, with her. Landor's wife Julia became jealous, although she already had a younger lover, and their difference of opinion ended in a complete separation. Landor was 60 by now and went to Lucca where he finished "Pericles and Aspasia" and in September returned to England alone in the autumn. He stayed with Ablett at Llanbedr for three months, spent winter at Clifton and returned to him afterwards, when Ablett persuaded him to write "Literary Hours" which was published the next year.
It is in the form of an Imaginary Conversation and describes the development of Aspasia's romance with Pericles, who died in the Peloponnesian War, told in a series of letters to a friend Cleone. The work is one of Landor's most joyous works and is singled out by contemporary critics as an introduction to Landor at his best.
On one occasion Landor was travelling to Clifton incognito and chatting to a fellow traveller when the traveller, John Sterling , observed that his strange paradoxical conversation sounded like one of Landor's Imaginary Conversations. Landor covered his retreat, but later became acquainted formally with Sterling. Also in , Landor met John Forster who became his biographer, having become friends after Forster's review of his "Shakespeare".
Later that year went to Heidelberg in Germany hoping to meet his children, but was disappointed. He wrote more imaginary conversations including one between Lord Eldon and Escombe. When a lady friend rebuked him for this on the basis that Eldon was now over eighty, Landor replied unmoved with the quip "The devil is older". He had several other publications that year besides Pericles, including "Letter from a Conservative" , "A Satire on Satirists" which included a criticism of Wordsworth's failure to appreciate Southey, Alabiadas the Young Man, and "Terry Hogan" , a satire on Irish priests.
He wintered again at Clifton where Southey visited him. It is possible that Ianthe was living at Bristol, but the evidence is not clear, and in she went to Austria, where she remained for some years. At the end of the year he published "Death of Clytemnestra" and "The Pentalogia" , containing five of his finest shorter studies in dramatic poetry. The last piece to be published was "Pentameron". In the spring of he took a house in Bath and wrote his three plays the "Andrea of Hungary" , "Giovanna of Naples" , and "Fra Rupert".
These plays are in the form of a trilogy in the first of which Fra Rupert contrives the death of Andrea husband of Giovanna. Giovanna is suspected but acquitted in the second play. In the third play Fra Rupert is discovered. George Saintsbury described these as a historical novel thrown into conversational dramatic form. In Landor's attempts to publish the plays were caught up in a dispute between Bentley and Dickens and Forster which caused considerable delay. Again, although these plays, or "conversations in verse" did not succeed with the public, Landor gained warm admirers, many of whom were his personal friends.
Southey's mind was giving way when he wrote a last letter to his friend in , but he continued to mention Landor's name when generally incapable of mentioning any one. Landor wandered around the country again, frequently visiting London, where he usually stayed with Lady Blessington , whom he had known at Florence. Mrs Paynter, and her daughter Rose Paynter were at Bath and Landor's letters and verses to Rose are among his best works.
Landor met Charles Dickens and they enjoyed each other's company despite the age difference. He also became introduced to Robert Browning who sent him a dedicated copy of his work. Landor received a visit from his son Arnold in and in that year wrote a long essay on Catullus for Forster who was editor of "Foreign Quarterly Review" and followed it up with The Idylls of Theocritus. Super was critical of the essays claiming "A more thoroughly disorganised work never fell from his pen".
Landor was visited by his children Walter and Julia and published a poem to Julia in Blackwood's magazine.
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In the following year his daughter Julia returned and gave him a dog Pomero, who was a faithful companion for a long time. In the same year, he published a poem to Browning in the Morning Chronicle. Forster and Dickens used to visit Bath, to celebrate Landor's birthday and Charles I's execution on the same day. Forster helped Landor in publishing his plays and the 'Collected Works' in , and was employed on The Examiner to which Landor frequently contributed on political and other subjects. Forster objected to the inclusion of some Latin poetry, and so Landor published his most important Latin work 'Poemata et Inscriptiones' separately in Here lies a person who was always laying about all over the place — the worst member of the worst family — George the fourth of that name of Britain.
It is suitable that the vault be large and excessively decorated as it contains all the Neros. Landor's distaste for the House of Hanover is more famously displayed in the doggerel that many do not realise is his composition. In he also published the 'Hellenics', including the poems published under that title in the collected works, together with English translations of the Latin idyls.
In this year he first met Eliza Lynn who was to become an outstanding novelist and journalist as Lynn Linton, and she became a regular companion in Bath. Now aged over seventy Landor was losing many of his old friends and becoming more frequently ill himself. On one occasion when staying with the Graves-Sawle he visited Exeter and sheltered in the rain on the doorstep of a local barrister James Jerwood.
Jerwood mistook him for a tramp and drove him away. Landor's follow-up letter of abuse to the barrister is magnificent. In he wrote a well-known epitaph for himself on his 74th birthday. However he was leading an active social life. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. View or edit your browsing history.
Walter Savage Landor - Wikipedia
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