Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/63

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Landor
Landor
57

of parliament would be necessary. Landor intimated dryly that he had had enough of applying to 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 1812 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 the matter. Southey visited him at Como in 1817. In March 1818 his first child, Arnold Savage, was born 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