Walter Savage Landor

Walter Savage Landor

Walter Savage Landor

Walter Savage Landor

Excerpt

Paynter, afterwards Lady Graves-Sawle, a niece of Rose Aylmer. The interchange continued after his retreat to Italy in 1858.

The occasion for this last flight was a foolish and wretched case in which Landor was provoked by a certain Mrs. Yescombe to a flagrant libel. He was vilified by the Press for his part in what remains a somewhat obscure affair: at the time his friends were, for the most part, dismayed but loyal. He was now eighty-three, and there were six years of exile to go. It was a sad close to his career, but pride did not desert him nor -- despite a failing memory -- an occasional power of forceful expression. And he was not cut off from friendship. After an unhappy interval the Brownings welcomed him most kindly, and in the year of his death, 1864, he received a visit of enthusiastic homage from a young man of twentysix, Algernon Swinburne. Landor died a few months later, too soon to read the dedication to himself of Atalanta in Calydon .

II
THE PROSE

'Poetry was always my amusement', Landor declared, 'prose my study and business'; and it was to Imaginary Conversations that he looked for fame, as he went on to prophesy 'I shall dine late; but the dining-room will be well lighted, the guests few and select'. It may be proper then to take the prose before the verse, considering not only the Conversations but Pericles and Aspasia and The Pentameron .

It is altogether in keeping with Landor's character -- his pride, his courtesy, his feeling for classical form -- that, although his prose runs easily, ceremony should be a constant feature of his writing, and seldom absent for long. The ceremonious style came naturally to him, and to see how easily it can rise from a humble context we may look at . . .

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