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Alfieri's Hair

Alfieri, the greatest poet modern Italy produced, delighted in
eccentricities, not always of the most amiable kind. One evening, at the
house of the Princess Carignan, he was leaning, in one of his silent
moods, against a sideboard decorated with a rich tea service of china,
when, by a sudden movement of his long loose tresses, he threw down one
of the cups. The lady of the mansion ventured to tell him, that he had
spoiled the set, and had better have broken them all. The words were no
sooner said, than Alfieri, without reply or change of countenance, swept
off the whole service upon the floor. His hair was fated to bring another
of his eccentricities into play. He went one night, alone, to the
theatre at Turin; and there, hanging carelessly with his head backwards
over the corner of the box, a lady in the next seat on the other side of
the partition, who had on other occasions made attempts to attract his
attention, broke out into violent and repeated encomiums on his auburn
locks, which were flowing down close to her hand. Alfieri, however,
spoke not a word, and continued his position till he left the theatre.
Next morning, the lady received a parcel, the contents of which she
found to be the tresses which she had so much admired, and which the
erratic poet had cut off close to his head. No billet accompanied the
gift; but it could not have been more clearly said, "If you like the
hair, here it is; but, for Heaven's sake, leave me alone!"

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