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Residence at Naples – Excursions to Pæstum,
Pompeii, fc. — Last Attempts in Romance — Sir William Gell's Memoranda.
DEC. 1831 - APRIL 1832.
On the 17th of December, the Barham reached Naples, and Sir Walter found his son Charles ready to receive him. The quarantine was cut short by the courtesy of the King of Naples, and the travellers established themselves in an apartment of the Palazzo Caramanico.
Here again the British Minister, Mr Hill (now Lord Berwick), and the English nobility and gentry then residing in Naples, did whatever kindness and respect could suggest for Sir Walter ; nor were the natives, and their visitants from foreign countries, less attentive. The Marquis of Hertford, the Hon. Keppel Craven, the Hon. William Ashley and his Lady, Sir George Talbot, the venerable Matthias (author of “ The Pursuits of Literature,”) Mr Auldjo (celebrated for his ascent of Mount Blanc), and Dr Hogg, a medical gentleman, who has since published an account of his travels in the East appear to have, in their various ways, contributed whatever they could to his comfort and amusement. But the person of whom he saw most was the late Sir William Gell, who had long been condemned to live in Italy by ailments and infirmities not dissimilar to his own.* Sir William, shortly after Sir Walter's death, drew up a memoir of their intercourse, which will, I believe, be considered as sufficient for this period.
Before I introduce it, however, I may notice that Sir Walter, whenever he appeared at the Neapolitan Court, which he did several times, wore the uniform of a brigadier-general in the ancient Body-Guard of Scotland — a dress of light green, with gold embroidery, assigned to those Archers by George IV. at the termination of his northern progress in 1822. I have observed this circumstance alluded to with a sort of sneer. The truth is, Sir Walter had ordered the dress for the christening of the young Buccleuch; but at any rate, the machinery now attached to his lame limb, would have made it impossible for him to
* Sir William Gell died at Naples in February 1836, aged 59,
appear in breeches and stockings, as was then imperative on civilians.
Further, it was on the 16th of January that Sir Walter received the intelligence of his grandson's death. His Diary of that date has simply these words:—“ Poor Johnny Lockhart! This boy is gone, whom we have made so much of. I could not have borne it better than I now do, and I might have borne it much worse. — I went to the Opera in the evening to see this amusement in its birth-place, which is now so widely received over Europe."
At first Sir Walter busied himself chiefly about forming a collection of Neapolitan and Sicilian ballads and broadsides ; and Mr Matthias seems to have been at much pains in helping this. But alas! ere he had been long in Naples, he began, in spite of all remonstrances, to give several hours every morning to the composition of a new novel, “ The Siege of Malta ;” and during his stay he nearly finished both this and a shorter tale, entitled “ BIZARRO." He also relaxed more and more in his obedience to the regimen of his physicians, and thus applied a twofold stimulus to his malady.
Neither of these novels will ever, I hope, see the light; but I venture to give the foundation of the shorter one, as nearly as I can decipher it from the author's Diary, of which it occupies some of the last pages.
“ DEATH OF IL BIZARRO,
“ This man was called, from his wily but inexorable temper, Il Bizarro. He was captain of a gang of banditti, whom he governed by his own allthority, till he increased them to 1000 men, both on foot and horseback, whom he maintained in the mountains of Calabria, between the French and Neapolitans, both of which he defied, and pillaged the country. High rewards were set upon his head, to very little purpose, as he took care to guard himself against being betrayed by his own gang, the common fate of those banditti who become great in their vocation. At length a French colonel, whose name I have forgot, occupied the country of Bizarro, with such success, that he formed a cordon around him and his party, and included him between the folds of a military column. Well-nigh driven to submit himself, the robber with his wife, a very handsome woman, and a child of a few months old, took post one day beneath an old bridge, and by an escape almost miraculous, were not perceived by a strong party whom the French maintained on the top of the arch. Night at length came without a discovery, which every moment might have made. When it became quite dark, the brigand, enjoining the strictest silence on the female and child, resolved to start
from his place of shelter, and as he issued forth, kept his hand on the child's throat. But as, when they began to move, the child naturally cried, its father in a rage tightened his gripe so relentlessly, that the poor infant never offended more in the same manner.
“ His wife had never been very fond of him, though he trusted her more than any who approached him. She had been originally the wife of another man, murdered by her second husband, which second marriage she was compelled to undergo, and to affect at least the conduct of an affectionate wife. In their wanderings she alone knew where he slept. He left his men in a body upon the top of an hill, round which they set watches. He then went apart into the woods with his wife, and having chosen a lair in an obscure and deep thicket, there took up his residence for the night. A large Calabrian dog, his constant attendant, was then tied to a tree at some distance to secure his slumbers, and having placed his carabine within reach of his arm, he consigned himself to such sleep as belongs to his calling. By such precautions he had secured his rest for many years.
“ But after the death of the child, the measure of his offence towards the unhappy mother was full to the brim, and her thoughts became determined on revenge. One evening he took up his quarters with