Landor, Walter Savage (DNB00)
|←Landor, Robert Eyres||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 32
Landor, Walter Savage
LANDOR, WALTER SAVAGE (1775–1864), author of 'Imaginary Conversations' born on 30 Jan. 1775, was the eldest son of Walter Landor, by his second wife, Elizbeth, daughter of Charles Savage. The Landors had been settled for some generations at Rugeley, Staffordshire. Their descendant's fancy ennobled his ancestry, and he believed, gratuitously as it seems, that one of his mother's ancestors was Arnold Savage, speaker of the House of Commons in the reign of Henry VII. The elder Landor was a physician, but after coming to his inheritance, resigned his practice, living partly at Warwick, and partly at Ipsley Court, his second wife's property. By his first wife he had one daughter, married to her cousin, Humphry Arden, who inherited her mother's property. His own estates in Staffordshire were entailed upon his eldest son. His second wife was coheiress with her three sisters of their father, Charles Savage, who had only a small estate; but after her marriage she inherited from two great-uncles, wealthy London merchants, the Warwickshire estates of Ipsley Court and Tachbrook, which had formerly belonged to the Savages. These estates were also entailed upon the eldest son. The other children of the marriage were Elizabeth Savage (1776-1854), Charles Savage (1777-1849), who held the family living of Colton, Staffordshire, Mary Anne (1778-1818), Henry Eyres (1780-1866), a solicitor, Robert Eyres (1781-1869), rector of Birlingham, Worcestershire, and Ellen (1783-1835) (see Burke, History of the Commoners, 1838). They depended for their fortunes upon their mother, and had an interest in the estate of Hughenden Manor, which had been left to her and her three sisters. The daughters all died unmarried.
Walter Savage Landor was sent to a school at Knowle, ten miles from Warwick, when under five years of age. At the age of ten he was transferred to Rugby, then under Dr. James. He was a sturdy, though not specially athletic lad, and famous for his skill in throwing a net, in which he once enveloped a farmer who objected to his fishing. He was, however, more given to study, and soon became renowned for his skill in Latin verse. He refused to compete for a prize, in spite of the entreaties of his tutor, John Sleath, afterwards prebendary of St. Paul's, to whom he refers affectionately in later years (Works, iv. 400). His perversities of temper soon showed themselves. He took offence because James, when selecting for approval some of his Latin verses, chose as Landor thought, the worst. Landor resented this by adding some insulting remarks in a fair copy, and after another similar offence James requested that he might be removed in order to avoid the necessity of expulsion. He was placed accordingly about 1791, under Mr. Langley, vicar of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, whose amiable simplicity he has commemorated in the dialogue between Isaak Walton, Cotton, and Oldways. Here he improved his Greek, and practised English and Latin verse-writing, though his tutor's scholarship was scarcely superior to his own. In 1793 he entered Trinity College, Oxford, as a commoner. He still declined to compete for prizes, though his Latin Verses were by his own account the best in the university. He maintained his intimacy with an old school friend, Walter Birch, afterwards a country clergyman, and always an affectionate friend, and made a favourable impression upon his tutor, William Benwell [q. v.] He pronounced himself a republican, wrote satires and an ode to Washington, went to hall with his hair unpowdered, and was regarded as a 'mad Jacobin.' In the Autumn of 1794 he fired a gun at the windows of an obnoxious tory, who was moreover giving a party of ' servitors and other raffs.' The shutters of the windows were closed, and no harm was done; but Landor refused to give any explanations, and was consequently rusticated for a year. The authorities respected his abilities, and desired his return. The affair, however, led to an angry dispute with his father. Landor went off to London, declaring that be had left his father's house 'for ever.' He consoled himself by bringing out a volume of English and Latin poems.
Meanwhile his friends tried to make peace. Dorothea, a niece of Philip Lyttelton of Studley Castle, Warwickshire, where she lived with two rich uncles, was admired by all the Landor brothers, and carried on a correspondence which was sisterly, if not more than sisterly,with Walter, her junior by a year or two. She persuaded him to give up a plan for retiring to Italy, and finally induced him to accept the mediation of her uncle with his father. As Walter had no taste for a profession, it was decided that be should receive an allowance of 160l. a year, with leave to live as much as he pleased at his father's house. It seems that be might have had 400l., a year if he would have studied law (see Madden, Lady Blessington, ii. 346). A proposal was made a little later that he should take a commission in the militia; but the other officers objected to the offer, on the ground of his violent opinions. The needs of the younger brothers and sisters account for the small amount of his allowance.
Landor left London for Wales, and for the next three years spent his time, when away from home, at Tenby and Swansea. Here he made friends with the family of Lord Aylmer. Rose Aylmer, commemorated in the most popular of his short poems, lent him a story by Clara Reeve, which suggested to him the composition of 'Gebir.' The style shows traces of the study of Pindar and Milton, to which he had devoted himself in Wales. 'Gebir,' published in 1798, had a fate characteristic of Lander's work. It was little read, but attracted the warm admiration of some of the best judges. Southey became an enthusiastic admirer, and praised it in the 'Critical Review' for September 1799. Coleridge, to whom Southey showed it, shared Southey's opinion. Henry Francis Cary [q. v.], the translator of Dante and a schoolfellow of Landor, was an early admirer. Heber, Dean Shipley, Frere, Canning, and Bolus Smith are also claimed as admirers by Landor; and Shelley, when at Oxford in 1811, bored Hogg by his absorption in it. Landor had thus some grounds for refuting De Quincey's statement that he and Southey had been for years the sole purchasers of 'Gebir.' Still, De Quincey's exaggeration was pardonable (Forster, pp. 57-62, and Archdeacon Hare and Landor in Imaginary Conversations). Landor led an unsettled life for some years. He formed a friendship with Dr. Parr, who had been resident at Hatton, near Warwick, since 1783, and was one of the few persons qualified to appreciate his latinity. In spite of Parr's vanity and warmth of temper, he never quarrelled with Landor, left his after-dinner pipe and company to visit his young friend, and maintained with him a correspondence, which began during Landor's stay at Oxford, and continued till Parr's death in 1825. Parr introduced Landor to Sir Robert Adair [q. v.], the friend of Fox, who took great pains, and with some success, to enlist Landor as a writer in the press sgainst the ministry. Other friends were Isaac Mocatta, who persuaded him to suppress a reply (Forster publishes some interesting extracts from the manuscript, pp. 69-72) to an attack upon 'Gebir' in the 'Monthly Review,' and Sergeant Hough, who had published an imitation of 'Gebir,' called 'The Conspiracy of Gowrie.' Mocatta died in 1801, and Rough had a quarrel with Landor at Parr's house, which ended their intimacy. In 1802 Landor took advantage of the peace to visit Paris, and came back with prejudices, never afterwards softened, against the French and their ruler. On returning Landor visited Oxford, where his brother was superintending the publication of a new edition of 'Gebir,' with 'arguments' to each book to explain its obscurity, and of a Latin version, 'Gebirus.' He continued to write poetry, lived in Bath, Bristol, and Wales, with occasional visits to London, and managing to anticipate his income. His father had lo sell property in order to meet the son's debts, who undertook in return to present his brother Charles to the family living of Colton when it should become vacant.
The father died at the end of 1805; and Landor set up at Bath, spending money liberally, with a 'fine carriage, three horses, and two men-servants.' He had various love-affairs, commemorated in poems addressed to lone, poetical for Miss Jones, and Ianthe, otherwise Sophia Jane Swift, an Irish lady, afterwards Countess de Molande. In the spring of 1808 Southey met him at Bristol. Each was delighted with his admirer. Southey spoke of his intended series of mythological poems in continuation of Thalaba.' Landor immediately offered to pay for printing them. Southey refused, but submitted to Landor his 'Kehama' and 'Roderick,' as they were composed; and Landor sent a cheque for a large number of copies of 'Kehama' upon its publication. The friendship was very cordial, and never interrupted, in spite of much divergence of opinion. Each saw in the other an appreciative and almost solitary anticipator of the certain verdict of posterity; and they had seldom to risk the friction of personal intercourse.'
The rising in Spain against the French caused an outburst of enthusiasm in England; and in August 1808 Landor sailed from Falmouth to join the Spaniards at Corunna. He gave ten thousand reals for the inhabitants of a town burnt by the French, and raised some volunteers, with whom he joined Blake's army in Gallicia. He took offence on misunderstanding something said by an English envoy at Corunna, and at once published an angry letter in Spanish and English. Landor could hardly have been of much use in a military capacity. He was at Bilbao, which was occupied alternately by the French and the Spaniards, towards the end of September, and ran some risk of being taken prisoner. Blake's army, after some fighting, was finally crushed by the French in the beginning of November, and by the end of that month Landor was in England. The supreme junta thanked him for his services, and the minister, Cevallos, sent him an honorary commission as colonel in the service of Ferdinand. When Ferdinand afterwards restored the Jesuits, Landor marked his indignation by returning the commission to Cavallos. Upon his return to England he joined Wordsworth and Southey in denouncing the convention of Cintra (signed 30 Aug.), which had excited general indignation. The chief result, however, of his Spanish expedition was the tragedy of 'Count Julian,' composed in the winter of 1810-11. Southey undertook to arrange for its publication. The Longmans refused to print it, even at the author's expense; and Landor showed his anger by burning another tragedy, 'Ferranti and Giulio,' and resolving to burn all future verses. Two scenes from the destroyed tragedy were afterwards published as 'Ippolito di Este' in the 'Imaginary Conversations.' Southey, however, got 'Count Julian' published by the Longmans. Although showing fully Landor's distinction of style, it is not strong dramatically, and the plot is barely intelligible unless the story is previously known. Naturally it made little impression. A comedy called 'The Charitable Dowager.' written about 1803, has disappeared (Forster, pp. 175-7).
Landor had meanwhile resolved to establish himself on a new estate. The land inherited from his father was worth under 1,000l. a year; but he bought the estate of Llanthony Abbey, estimated al some 3,000l. a year, in the vale of Ewyas, Monmouthshire. To enable him to do this his mother sold for 20,000l. the estate of Tachbrook (entailed upon him), he in return settling upon her for life 450l. a year and surrendering the advowson of Colton to his brother Charles. An act of parliament, passed in 1809, was obtained to give effect to the new arrangements. Landor set about improving his property. His predecessor had erected some buildings in the ruins of the ancient abbey. Landor began to pull these down and construct a house, never finished, though he managed to live at the place. He planted trees, imported sheep from Spain, improved the roads, and intended to become a model country gentleman. In the spring of 1811 he went to a ball in Bath, and seeing a pretty girl, remarked to a friend, ' That's the nicest girl in the room, and I'll marry her.' The lady, named Julia Thuillier, was daughter of a banker of Swiss descent, who had been unsuccessful in business at Banbury and gone to Spain, leaving his family at Bath. 'She had no pretensions of any kind,' as Landor wrote to his mother, 'and her want of fortune was the very thing which determined me to marry her.' She had refused for him two gentlemen of rank and fortune (ib. p. 183). The marriage took place by the end of May 1811. The Southeys visited them at Llanthony in the following August. Landor was already getting into troubles upon his estate. He had offered to the Bishop of St. Davids to restore the old church. The bishop not answering, Landor wrote another letter saying that 'God alone is great enough for me to ask anything of twice.' The bishop then wrote approving the plan, but saying that an act of parliament would be necessary. Landor intimated dryly that he had had enough of applying lo parliament. Meanwhile he found that his neighbours — as was always the case with Landor's neighbours — were utterly deaf to the voice of reason. The Welsh were idle and drunken, and though he had spent 8,000l. upon labour in three years, treated him as their ' worst enemy ', In the summer of 1612 he took the formal charge of the judge to the grand jury literally, and presented him with a charge of felony against an attorney of ill-repute. The judge declined to take any notice of this. Landor next applied to be made a magistrate, and his application was briefly rejected by the lord-lieutenant, the Duke of Beaufort. He applied to the lord chancellor, Eldon, who was equally obdurate, and Landor revenged himself in a letter composed in his stateliest style, pointing out that none of the greatest thinkers from Demosthenes to Locke would have been appointed magistrates. His next unlucky perfomance was letting his largest farm to one Betham, who claimed acquaintance with Southey. Betham knew nothing of farming, spent his wife's fortune in extravagant living, brought three or four brothers to poach the land, and paid no rent. Landor was worried by knavish attorneys and hostile magistrates. When a man against whom he had to swear the peace drank himself to death, he was accused of causing the catastrophe. His trees were uprooted and his timber stolen. When he prosecuted a man for theft, he was insulted by the defendent's counsel, whom, however, he ' chastised in his Latin poetry now in the press.' An action brought by Landor against Betham was finally successful in the court of exchequer; but he was overwhelmed with expenses and worries, and resolved to leave England. His personal property was sold for the benefit of his creditors. His mother, however, as the first creditor under the act of parliament, was entitled to manage Llanthony, and under her care the property improved. She was able to allow Landor 600l. a year and to provide sufficiently for the younger children. In the summer of 1814 Landor went to Jersey, where he was soon joined by his wife. An angry dispute took place betneen them in regard to his plans for settling in France. Landor rose at four, sailed to France without his wife, and by October was in Tours. His wife, as her sister wrote to tell him, was both grieved and seriously ill. Landor meanwhile found his usual consolation in the composition of a Latin poem on the death of Ulysses, and so calmed his temper. His wife joined him at Tours whither he was also followed by his brother Robert, who was intending a visit to Italy. Landor was soon in high spirits, made himself popular in Tours, and always fancied that he had there seen Napoleon on his flight after Waterloo. He soon became dissatisfied with the place, and started in September 1815 with his wife and brother for Italy, after ' tremendous conflicts ' with his landlady. The brother reported that during this journey the wife was amiable and only too submissive under Landor's explosions of boisterous though transitory wrath. He had money enough lor his wants and lived comfortably. The pair finally settled at Como for three years. Here he was a neighbour of the Princess of Wales, of whose questionable proceedings he made some mention in a letter to Southey. Sir Charles Wolseley declared in 1820 (in a letter to Lord Castlereagh published in the Times) that he could obtain important information from a ' Mr. Walter Landor' upon this subject. Landor refused with proper indignation to have anything to do with Ihe matter. Southey visited him at Como in 1817. In March 1818 his first child, Arnold Savage, was bom at Como. In the same year he insulted the authorities in a Latin poem primarily directed against an Italian poet who had denounced England. Landor was ordered to leave the place, and in September 1818 he went to Pisa. He stayed there, excepting a summer at Pistola in 1819, till in 1821 he moved to Florence, where he settled in the Palazzo Medici. Shelley was at Pisa during Landor's stay. Landor, to his subsequent regret, avoided a meeting on account of the scandals then current in regard to Shelley's character. Byron was not at Pisa till Landor had left it. In the course of his controversy with Southey Byron incidentally noticed Landor, and in the 13th canto of 'Don Juan' called him the 'deep-mouthed Boeotian Savage Landor,' who has 'taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander,' Landor retorted in the imaginary conversation between Burnet and Hardcastle. In his second edition he inserted some qualifying praise in consequence of Byron's efforts for Greece; but he could not be blind to the lower parts of Byron's character.
The period of Landor's life which followed his removal to Florence was probably the happiest and certainly the most fruitful in literary achievement. In 1820 Southey had spoken in a letter of his intended ' Colloquies,' and this seems to have suggested to Landor a scheme for the composition of ' Imaginary Conversations,' or rather to have confirmed a project already entertained, "Count Julian, indeed, was really an anticipation of his later plan. Landor soon threw himself with ardour into the composition of his prose conversations. The first part of his manuscript was sent by him to the Longmans in April 1832. It was declined by them and by several other publishers. Landor committed the care of it to Julius Charles Hare [q. v.], to whom he was not as yet personally known. He had become acquainted with Hare's elder brother, Francis, at Tours ; they were intimate at Florence, had many animated discussions with no quarrel, and remained intimate till Hare's death. Julius Hare at last induced John Taylor, proprietor of the 'London Magazine,' to publish the first two volumes. The dialogue between Southey and Porson was published by anticipation in the London Magazine ' for July 1823 ; and the two volumes appeared in the beginning of 1824. Hare endeavoured to obviate hostile criticism by an ingenious paper in the ' London Magazine,' ironically anticipating the obvious topics of censure. It caused the suspension of a hostile review in the ' Quarterly,' in order that the remarks thus anticipated might be removed. Hazlitt reviewed the book in the ' Edinburgh ' in an article of mixed praise and blame, touched up to some extent by Jeffrey. Taylor had insisted upon omissions of certain passages, and Hare had reluctantly consented. Landor was of course angry, and exploded with wrath upon some trifling disputes about a second edition and the proposed succeeding volumes. He threw a number of conversations into the fire, swore that be would never write again, and that his children should be ' carefully warned against literature,' and learn nothing except French, swimming, and fencing. The second edition, handed over to Colburn for publication, appeared in 1826. A third volume, after various delays and difficulties, appeared in 1828, end a fourth and fifth were at last published by Duncan in 1829. A sixth had been finished,but remained long unpublished. Landor in 1834 entrusted his five volumes, ' interleaved and enlarged,' together with this sixth volume, to N. P. Willis, for publication in America. Willis sent them to New York, but did not follow them, and Landor had considerable difliculty in recovering them. They were finally restored in 1837.
Landor had acquired a high though not a widely spread literary reputation. He was visited at Florence oy Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt, and was on intimate terms with Charles Armitage Brown [q. v.], Kirkup, llie English consul, and others. He had of course various disputes with the authorities, and was once expelled from Florence. The grand duke took the matter good-naturedly, and no notice was taken of Landor's declaration that, as the authorities disliked his residence, be should reside there permanently. He had a desperate quarrel with a M, Antoir about certain rights to water, which led to a lawsuit and a challenge, though Kirkup succeeded in arranging the point of honour satisfactorily. This water-dispute concerned the Villa Gherardisca in Fiesole. Landor had been enabled to buy it for 2,000l., by the generosity of Mr. Ablett of Llanbedr Hall, Denbigbshire who had become known to him in 1827, and who in the beginning of 1829 advanced the necessary sum, declining to receive interest. It was a fine house, with several acres of ground, where he planted his gardens, kept pets, and played with his four children. The death of his mother, in October 1829, made no difference to his affairs. Tbey had always corresponded affectionately, and she had managed his estates with admirable care and judgment. In 1832 Ablett persuaded him to pay a visit to England. He arrived in London in May, saw Charles Lamb at Enfield, Coleridge at Highgate, and Julius Hare (for the first time) at Cambridge, visited Ablett in Wales, and with him went to the Lakes and saw Soutbey and Coleridge. He travelled back to Italy with Julius Hare, passing through the Tyrol, and there inquiring into the history of Hofer, one of his favourite heroes. At Florence Landor set about the conversations which soon afterwards formed the volumes upon ' Shakespeare's Examination for Deer-stealing,' ' Pericles and Aspasia,' and the' Pentameron,' and contained some of his most characteristic writing.
In March 1836 Landor quarrelled with his wife. Armitage Brown, who was present at the scene, wrote on account of it to Landor. Mrs. Landor appears to have denounced Landor to his friend and in presence of his children. Landor, he says, behaved with perfect calmness. He adds that through eleven years of intimacy he had always seen Landor behave with perfect courtesy to Mrs. Landor, who had the entire management of the house. Brown admits a loss of temper with ' Italians.' Unfortunately, Landor acted with more than his usual impulsiveness. He left his house for Florence in April 1835, not to return for many years. He reached England in the autumn, and stayed with Ablett at Llanbedr, to whom he returned in the spring of 1838, after a winter at Clifton. It is idle to discuss the rights and wrongs of this unfortunate business. Mrs. Landor was clearly unable to manage a man of irrepressible temper. His friends thought that his real amiability had his tender attachment to his children might have led to happier results: but his friends could escape from his explosions. Landor had been receiving about 600l. a year from his English properties, the remainder of the rents being absorbed by mortgages and a reserve fund. On leaving Italy he made over 400l. of his own share to his wife, and transferred absolutely to his son the villa and farm at Fiesole. His income was thus 200l. a year, which was afterwards doubled at the cost of the reserve fund (Forster, p. 517).
Landor was again at Clifton in the winter of 1836-7, and had a friendly meeting with Southey. After some rambling be settled at Bath in the spring of 1838, and lived there till his final departure from England. His 'Shakespeare' had been published in 1834; the 'Pericles and Aspasia' came out with such ill sucess that Landor returned to his publishers 100l., which they had paid for it, an action only paralleled in the case of Collins. A similar result seems to have followed the publication of the 'Pentameron' in 1837 (ib. pp. 373,384,403). He next set about his three plays, the 'Andrea of Hungary,' 'Giovanna of Naples,' and 'Fra Rupert,' the last of which showed a curious resemblance, due probably to unconscious recollection, to the plot of a play called 'The Earl of Brecon,' published by his brother Robert in 1824. Little as those plays, or 'conversations in verse,' succeeded with the public, Landor gained warm admirers, many of whom were his personal friends. At Bath he was intimate with Sir William Napier; during his first years there he visited Armilage Brown at Plymouth, and John Kenyon, down to his death in 1856, was a specially warm friend. Southey's mind was giving way when he wrote a last letter to his friend in 1839, but he continued to repeat Landor's name when generally incapable of mentioning any one. Julius Hare, whom he frequently visited at Hurstmonceaux sent during his last illness (in 1854) for Landor, and spoke of him affectionately till the end. Landor occasionally visited town to see Lady Blessington. Forster's review of the 'Shakespeare' had led to a friendship, and Forster was in the habit of going with Dickens to Bath, in order to celebrate on the same day Landor's birth and Charles I's execution. Landor greatly admired Dickens's works, and was especially moved by 'Little Nell.' Dickens drew a portrait of some at least of Landor's external peculiarities in his Boythorne in 'Bleak House.' Forster had helped Landor in the publication of his plays, and was especially useful in the colection of his works, which appeared in 1846, Forster harvng objected to the insertion into this of his Latin poetry. Landor yielded, and published his 'Poemata et Inscriptiones' separately in 1847. In the same year he published the ' Hellenics,' including the poems published under that title in the collected works, together with English translations of the Latin idyls. The collected works also included the conversations regained from N. P. Willis, Some additional poems, conversations, and miscellaneous writings were published in 1863 as 'Last Fruit off an Old Tree.' It contained also some letters originally written to the 'Examiner,' then edited by Forster, on behalf of Southey's family, which had led, to Landor's pleasure, to the bestowal of one of the chancellor's livings upon Cuthbert, the son of his old friend
In the beginning of 1857 Landor's mind was evidently weakened. He unfortunately got himself mixed up in a miserable quarrel, in which two ladies of his acquaintance were concerned. He gave to one of them a legacy of 100l. received from his friend Kenyon. She, without his knowledge, transferred half of it to the other. They then quarrelled, and the second lady accused the first of having obtained the money from Landor for discreditable reasons. Landor in his fury committed himself to a libel, for which he was persuaded to apologise. Unluckily he had resolved, in spite of Forster's remonstrances, to publish a book called 'Dry Sticks fagoted by W. S. Landor,' containing, among much that was unworthy of him. a scandalous lampoon suggested by the quarrel. Landor had desired that the book should be described as by 'the late W. S. Landor,' and he had ceased in fact to be fully his old self. Unluckily he was still legally responsible. At the end of March 1858 he was found insensible in his bed, was unconscious for twenty-four hours, and for some time in a precarious state. An action for libel soon followed. He was advised to assign away his property, to sell his pictures, and retire to Italy. He accordingly left England for France on 14 July, went to Genoa, and thence to his old home at Florence.
Landor, before leaving, transferred the whole of the English estates to his son, His wife's income, which in 1842 had been raised to 500l. a year, was now secured upon the Llanthony estate. The younger children had received from various legacies enough for their support. Landor had himself only a few books, pictures, or plate, and 150l. in cash. Damages for 1,000l. were given against him in the libel case (23 Aug. 1858; reported in ' Times' 24 Aug.), and by an order of the court of chancery this sum was paid from the Llanthony rents, and deducted from the sum reserved for Landor's use. He was thus entirely dependent, at the age of eighty-three, upon the family who received the whole income from his property. He spent ten months at his villa, but three times left it for Florence, only to be brought back. In July 1859 he took refuge again at an hotel in Florence, with ' eighteenpence in his pocket.' His family appear to have refused to help him unless he would return. Fortunately the poet Browning was then resident at Florence. Upon his application Forster obtained an allowance of 200l. a year from Landor's brothers, with a reserve of 50l., which was applied for Landor's use under Browning's direction. Browning first found him a cottage at Siena, where the American sculptor, Mr. W. W. Story, was then living. He stayed for some time in Story's house, and was perfectly courteous and manageable. At the end of 1859 Browning settled him in an apartment in the Via Nunsiatina at Florence, where be passed the rest of his days. Miss Kate Field, an American lady then resident in Florence, described him as he appeared at this time in three papers in the 'Atlantic Monthly' for 1866. Landor was still charming, venerable, and courteous, and full of literary interests. He gave Latin lessons to Miss Field, repeated poetry, and composed some last conversations. Browning left Florence after his wife's death in 1861, and Landor afterwards seldom left the house. He published some imaginary conversations in the 'Athenæum' in 1861-2, and in 1863 appeared his last book, the 'Heroic Idyls,' brought to England by Mr, Edward Twisleton, who had been introduced to him by Browning. Five scenes in verse, written after these, are published in his life by Forster. His friendship with Forster had been interrupted by Forster's refusal to publish more about the libel case; but their correspondence was renewed before his death. Kirkup and his younger son helped to soothe him, and in the last year of his life Mr. Swinburne visited Florence expressly to become known to him, and dedicated to him the 'Atalanta in Calydon.' He died quietly on 17 Sept. 1864.
Landor left four children: Arnold Savage (b. 1818, d. 2 April 1871), Julia Elizabeth Savage, Walter who succeeded his brother Arnold in the property), and Charles. A portrait by Boxall,engraved as a frontispiece to Forster's life, is said by Lord Houghton and Dickens to be unsatisfactorily represented in the engraving. A drawing by Robert Faulkner is engraved in Lord Houghton's 'Monograph.' A portrait by Fisher, painted in 1839, became the property of Crabb Robinson, and was given by him to the National Portrait Gallery. A bust, of which some copies were made in marble, was executed for Ablett by John Gibson in 1858. An engraving after a drawing by D'Orsay is prefixed to Ablett's' Literary Tours' (see below). Landor's character is sufficiently marked by his life. Throughout his career he invariably showed nobility of sentiment and great powers of tenderness and sympathy, at the mercy of an ungovernable temper. He showed exquisite courtesy to women; he loved children passionately, if not discreetly; he treated his dogs (especially 'Pomero' at Bath) as if they had been human beings, and loved flowers as if they had been alive. His tremendous explosions of laughter and wrath were often passing storms in a serene sky, though his intense pride made some of his quarrels irreconcilable. He was for nearly ninety years a typical English public school-boy, full of humours, obstinacy, and Latin verses, and equally full of generous impulses, chivalrous sentiment, and power of enjoyment. In calmer moods he was a refined epicurean; he liked to dine alone and delicately; he was fond of pictures, and unfortunately mistook himself for a connoisseur. He wasted large sums upon worthless daubs, though he appears to have had a genuine appreciation of the earlier Italian masters when they were still generally undervalued. He gave away both pictures and books almost as rapidly as he bought them. He was generous even to excess in all money matters. Intellectually he was no sustained reasoner, and it is a mistake to criticise his opinions seriously. They were simply the prejudices of his class. In politics he was an aristocratic republican, after the pattern of his great idol Milton, He resented the claims of superiors, and advocated tyrannicide, but he equally despised the mob and shuddered at all vulgarity. His religion was that of the eighteenth-century noble, implying much tolerance and liberality of sentiment, with an intense aversion for priestcraft. Even in literature his criticisms, though often admirably perceptive, are too often wayward and unsatisfactory, because at the mercy of his prejudices. He idolised Milton, but the medievalism of Dante dimmed his perception of Dante's great qualities. Almost alone among poets he always found Spenser a bore. As a thorough-going classical enthusiast, he was out of sympathy with the romantic movement of his time, and offended by Wordsworth's lapses into prose, though the so-called classicism of the school of Pope was too unpoetical for his taste, He thus took a unique position in literature. As a poet he was scarcely at his ease, though he has left many exquisite fragments, and he seems to be too much dominated by his classical models. But the peculiar merits of his prose are recognised as unsurpassable by all the best judges. 'I shall dine late,' he said, 'but the dining-room will be well lighted, the guests few and select; I neither am nor ever shall be popular' (Forster, p. 500). Whether even the greatest men can safely repudiate all sympathy with popular feeling may be doubted. Landor's defiance of the common sentiment perhaps led him into errors, even in the judgement of the select. But the aim of his ambition has been fairly won. After making all deductions, he has written a mass of English prose which in sustained precision and delicacy of expression, and in the full expression of certain veins of sentiment, has been rarely approached, and which will always entitle him to a unique position in English literature.
Robert Eyres Landor (1781–1869), Landor's youngest brother, was scholar and fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, was instituted to the rectory of Nafford with Birlingham, Worcestershire, in 1829, and was never absent from his parish for a Sunday until his death, 26 Jan. 1869. The church was restored with money left by him. He had always spent upon his parish more than he received, and was singularly independent and modest. One of the poems in 'Last Fruits off an Old Tree' is addressed to him. He was the author of 'Count Aruzii,' a tragedy, 1823, which, as he says (Forster, p. 400), had some success on being taken for Byron's. On discovering this he acknowledged the authorship, and the sale ceased. He also published in 1841 three tragiedies 'The Earl of Brecon,' 'Faith's Fraud,' and 'The Ferryman;' the 'Fawn of Sertorius,' 1846: and the 'Fountain of Arethusa,' 1848. The 'Fawn of Sertorius' was taken for his brother's until he published his own name. He gave much information used in Forster's life of his brother.
Some of Landor's works are now very rare, and several are not in the British Museum. Some of the rarer, marked F. in the following list are in the Forster collection at the South Kensington Museum. 1. 'Poems of Walter Savage Landor,' 1795, F.: 'The Birth of Poesy,' 'Abelard to Heloise,' and 'Short Poems in English;' 'Hendecasyllables' and a 'Latine Scribendi Defensio' in Latin. 2. 'Moral Epistle respectfully dedicated to Earl Stanhope,' 1796. F. (see Forster, pp. 42-4). 3. 'Gebir,' 1798 (anonymous). A second edition, with notes and a Latin version called 'Gebirus,' was published at Oxford in 1803. A fragment of another edition, printed at Warwick, including a postscript to 'Gebir,' is in the Forster collection. 4. 'Poetry by the Author of "Gebir"' (includes the 'Phoceans' and 'Chrysaor'). 1802, F. 5. 'Simonides,' English and Latin poems; the first including 'Gunlang and Helga,' 1806, F. (a unique copy). 6. 'Three Letters written in Spain to D. Francisco Riquelime,' 1809. F. 7. 'Count Julian, a Tragedy,' 1812 (anon.) 8. 'Observations on Trotter's "Life of Fox,"' 1813 (the only known copy belongs to Lord Houghton). 9. 'Idyllia 'Heroica,' 1814 (five Latin idyls). 10. 'Idyllia Heroica decem. Librum phaleuciorum unum partim jam primo, partim iterum atque tertio edit Savagius Landor. Accedit quaestiuncula cur poetae Latini recentiores minus legantur,' F., Pisa, 1820 (includes the preceding). 11 .'Poche osservazioni sullo stato attuale di que' popoli che vogliono governarsi per mezzo delle raporesentanze,' Naples, 1821, British Museum. 12. 'Imaginary Conversations,' vols. i, and ii. 1824; second edit., enlarged, 1826; vols. iii. and iv. 1828; vol. v. 1829. 13. 'Gebir, Count Julian, and other Poems,' F., 1831. 14. 'Citation and Examination of William Shakespeare … touching Deer-stealing, to which is added a Conference of Master Edmund Spenser with the Earl of Essex …,' 1834 (anon.) 15. 'Letters of a Conservative, in which are shown the only means of saving what is left of the English Church; addrest to Lord Melbourne,' 1836. 16. 'Terry Hogan … edited by Phelim Octavius Quarll (a course squib against Irish priests, attributed to Landor), 1836, F. 17. 'Pericles and Aspasia,' 1336 (anon.) 18. 'Satire upon Satirists and Admonition to Detractors,' 1836 (attack upon Wordsworlh for depreciating Southey). 19, 'The Pentameron [Conversations of Petrarca and Boccaccio, edited by "Pievano D. Grigi"] and Pentelogia [five conversations in verse, with dedication signed "W.S.L.,"' 1837. 20. 'Andrea of Hungary and Giovanna of Naples,'1839. 21. 'Fra Rupert, the last part of a Trilogy,' 1840. 22.'Collected Works,' in two vols. 8vo, 1846 (the first volume gives the old 'imaginary conversations,' the second new 'imaginary conversations,' 'Gebir,' 'Hellenics,' 'Shakespeare,' 'Pericles and Aspasia,'and the 'Pentameron,' the three preceding plays, the Siege of Ancona,' and miscellaneous pieces). 23. 'The Hellenics of Walter Savage Landor, enlarged and completed,' 1847 (see above, republished with alterations in 1859), 24. 'Poemata et Inscriptionea: notis auxit Savagius Landor,' 1847. Also the Latin 'questio' from the 'Idyllia Heroica' of 1820. 25, 'Imaginary Conversation of King Carlo Alberto and the Duchess Belgicioso on the Affairs of Italy …' 1848. 26. 'Italics' (English verse, printed 1848). 27. 'Popery, British and, Foreign,' 1851. 28. 'The Last Fruit off an Old Tree,' 1863, includes eighteen new 'imaginary conversations,' Popery, British and Foreign, 'Ten letters to Cardinal Wiseman,' letters to Brougham upon Southey from the 'Examiner,' and 'five scenes in verse' upon Beatrice Cenci. 29. 'Letters of an American, mainly on Russia and Revolution,' edited (written) by W. S. Landor, 1854. 30. 'Letter from W. S. Landor to R. W. Emerson,' 1856 (upon Emerson's 'English Tracts'). 31. 'Antony and Octavius, Scenes for the Study.' 1856. 32. 'Dry Sticks fagoted by W. S. Landor,' 1858. 33. 'Savonarola et il Priore di San Marco,' 1860. 34.'Heroic Idyls, with additional Poems,' 1863.
Landor published some pamphlets now not discoverable (see Forster, pp. 42, 128), and contributed some letters on 'High and Low Life in Italy' to Leigh Hunt's 'Monthly Repository' (December 1837 and succeeding numbers). Six 'imaginary conversations' and other selections are in J. Ablett's privately printed volume, 'Literary Hours by various Friends,' 1837, F. A poem on the 'Bath Subscription Ball,' conjecturally assigned to him in the Forster collection, cannot be his. A selection from his writings was published by G. S. Hillard in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1806, and another by Mr. Sidney Colvin in 1882, in the 'Golden Treasury Series.' An edition of his English works in eight vols. 8vo, the first volume of which contains the life by Forster (first published in 1969), appeared in 1876. The 'Conversations, Greeks and Romans,' were separately published in 1853, and a new edition of the 'Imaginary Conversations,' edited by Charles G. Crump, in six vols. 8vo, in 1891- 1892. Mr. Crump has also edited the 'Pericles and Aspasia' for the 'Temple Library' (1890).
[Life by John Forster. 1859, and first vol. of Works, I875; references above to the 1876 edit. R. H. Horne's New Spirit of the Age, 1844, i. 153-76 (article by Mrs. Browning); Madden's Life. &c. of Lady Blessington, 1855, i. 114. ii. 346-429 (correspondence of Landor and Lady Blessington); Lady Blessington's Idler in Italy, ii. 310-13; Lord Houghton's Monographs (from Edinburgh Review of July 1869); C. Dickens in All the Year Round, 24 July 1869; Kate Field in Atlantic Monthly for April, May, and June 1866 (Landor's last years in Italy); Mrs. Lynn Linton in Fraser's Mag. July 1870): Mrs. Crosse in Temple Bar for June 1891; H. Crabb Robinson's Diaries, ii. 481-4, 500, 520. iii. 42, 59, 105-8. 115; Southey's Life and Select letters, for a few letters from Southey to Landor, and incidental references; Sidney Colvin's Landor in Morley's Men of Letters]