The Late Lord Byron: Posthumous Dramas

By Doris Langley Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
TRIALS OF AN EXECUTOR

It is rather a curious fact that Byron took it for granted the principal members of his household would accompany him on a hazardous adventure to a country in the throes of a violent revolution, and equally, that they took it for granted they were to go. Even Fletcher, who had been in Greece before and grumbled all the time, did not put up any resistance beyond grumbling again. It thus fell to the executors' lot to provide for a number of extremely miscellaneous dependents from foreign parts, ranging from an unfrocked Italian priest, who had been steward and major domo, to an American negro described as a courier, whose privilege it had been to address his Lordship as 'Massa'.

The steward and the valet were given gratuities sufficient to set them up as small tradesmen, and Augusta presented Fletcher with the whole of Byron's wardrobe, which filled five trunks. As he had been a most faithful servant for twenty years, she undertook additionally to pay him the then substantial annuity of £70.1 But a man who, during the whole of his adult life, has been directed and looked after like a little boy, is not likely to learn the ways of prudent and independent business management in his middle forties; while Augusta, for her part, overwhelmed with the calamities arising from her daughter's marriage and the extravagances of her sons, only kept up the pension for a few years.

Lega Zambelli, the ex-priest, joined his resources to Fletcher's to open a macaroni factory, but it failed. The negro, Benjamin Lewis, was also liberally dealt with by Hobhouse, and was easily able to find new employment, but, whether from accident or illness, he met with an early death in 1825.

Giovanni Battista Falcieri, known as Tita, who from being a gondolier, had become a chasseur, was taken into Hobhouse's own employment as a valet. After a year in this service, he had communicated, both by word of mouth and in a formal letter, addressed to the Rispettabile Signore Ho bhouse Esqre M.P., his determination to return to Greece. Though his new master's political life was full of fights and crises, his private life, which was all Tita saw, must have seemed very humdrum compared with that of the renowned milord who had perpetually raised up storms, and Tita went eagerly back to danger. His plan seems to have been to serve the young Count Gamba. It was highly inconvenient to Hobhouse, but he gave his blessing and in tangible shape.

Soon after Pietro's death at Métana in spring 1827, Tita was found at Malta in great want. He entered the service of another lively young man,

____________________
1
Murray MSS.

-195-

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