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Lord Byron's Vanity








During the residence of Lord Byron at Venice, a clerk was sent from the
office of Messrs. Vizard and Co., of Lincoln's Inn, to procure his
lordship's signature to a legal instrument. On his arrival, the clerk
sent a message to the noble poet, who appointed to receive him on the
following morning. Each party was punctual to the minute. His lordship
had dressed himself with the most studious care; and, on the opening of
the door of his apartment, it was evident that he had placed himself in
what he thought a becoming pose. His right arm was displayed over the
back of a splendid couch, and his head was gently supported by the
fingers of his left hand. He bowed slightly as his visitor approached
him, and appeared anxious that his recumbent attitude should remain for
a time undisturbed. After the signing of the deed, the noble bard made a
few inquiries upon the politics of England, in the tone of a finished
exquisite. Some refreshment which was brought in afforded the messenger
an opportunity for more minute observation. His lordship's hair had been
curled and parted on the forehead; the collar of his shirt was thrown
back, so that not only the throat but a considerable portion of his
bosom was exposed to view, though partially concealed by some fanciful
ornament suspended round the neck. His waistcoat was of costly velvet,
and his legs were enveloped in a superb wrapper. It is to be regretted
that so great a mind as that of Byron could derive satisfaction from
things so trivial and unimportant, but much more that it was liable to
be disturbed by a recollection of personal imperfections. In the above
interview, the clerk directed an accidental glance at his lordship's
lame foot, when the smile that had played upon the visage of the poet
became suddenly converted into a frown. His whole frame appeared
discomposed; his tone of affected suavity became hard and imperious; and
he called to an attendant to open the door, with a peevishness seldom
exhibited even by the most irritable.

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