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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

led 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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