FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINODANTE ALIGHIERISWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINODANTE ALIGHIERI& GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || || HIRAM POWERS || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, IIIIIIVVVI VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || FLORIN WEBSITE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO ENGLISH || VITA

New: Dante vivo || White Silence

Talk given in Walter Savage Landor's birthplace, Warwick, 2015. To be paired with http://www.florin.ms/WARWICKITALY.ppt, especially if you have two screens.


WARWICK SEEN IN AN ITALIAN FRAME

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR AND JOHN ROBERT GLORNEY BOLTON



*Alcmeon, Aristotle's Physican, said 'We die because we do not join the end to the beginning'. This serpent devouring its tail, called the ourobouros, symbolizes eternity. It is sculpted on one of our tombs in Florence's Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery.

*I shall talk about two men, one, Walter Savage Landor, the writer and poet, the other, my father, John Robert Glorney Bolton, also a writer, both born here in Warwick, and who both ended their lives in Italy. *Let me give you this talk as a keyhole in Rome, as an Italian frame, for learning of these two Englishmen from Warwickshire.

*Walter Savage Landor is buried in *Florence's 'English' Cemetery of which I am Custodian, alongside *Elizabeth Barrett Browning, *Arthur Hugh Clough, *Thomas Southwood Smith, *Frances Trollope, mother of Anthony, *William Somerville, husband to Mary, while my father, Glorney Bolton, and brother, Richard Rothwell Bolton, are buried in Rome's Protestant Cemetery with John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Joseph Severn and Richard Rothwell. Their lives span in time from the Regency and Romantic period to the modern day and their geography includes Warwick, Wales, Spain, Italy and India.

*I.
Walter Savage Landor, 1775-1864, was from before Byron, 1788-1824, Shelley, 1792-1822, and Keats, 1795-1821, but he outlived them all, being a Romantic amongst the Victorians. Born here in this house on January 30th, he grew up in Warwick and in the surrounding countryside, a brilliant and rebellious boy, writing Latin poetry at Rugby, attending Trinity College at Oxford, being expelled from both places. He wrote exquisite classical quatrains, especially to women, all his life, to Ione, the Welsh Nancy Jones, who bore him a child, to Rose Aylmer, an Earl's daughter, both of whom he met in Wales, to Ianthe, the Irish Sophia Jane Swift, whom he met at Bath and who married a cousin and later into French nobility. He continued to write fine letters and poems to Rose Aylmer's equally lovely niece and namesake, Rose Paynter to the end of his life.

He published Gebir in 1798, a wonderful poem which plays off a book he borrowed from Rose Aylmer, an exotic telling of a Spanish prince who falls in love with an African Queen Charobar. *I evoke its romantic atmosphere with this painting in Florence's Archeological Museum of the Expedition to Egypt and Nubia by Champollion and Rosellini. Here are some of its lines:

            But I have sinuous shells, of pearly hue
            Within, and they that lustre have imbibed
            In the sun's palace porch, where when unyoked
            His chariot-wheel stands midway in the wave;
            Shake one and it awakens, then apply
            Its polisht lips to your attentive ear,
            And it remembers its august abodes,
            And murmurs as the ocean there.

*In that same year of 1798 Rose Aylmer sailed to India with an aunt, dying there two years later of fever, her tomb in Park Street Cemetery, Calcutta, now having his lines.

           Ah, what avails the sceptred race,
           Ah, what the form divine!
           What every virtue, every grace!
           Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
           Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
           May weep, but never see,
           A night of memories and of sighs
           I consecrate to thee.

*Coming into his inheritance Savage Landor decided to sell his Warwickshire property and buy Llanthony Abbey in Wales, *planting it with thousands of trees. But he got into difficulties feuding with his workers and tenants and the project was largely a failure.  

In 1808 at 33 he decided to go to Spain, fighting privately against Napoleon in the Peninsula wars. But soon rebelled against Spanish politics and returned home to write the play, Count Julian, set in Spain at the fall of the Visigoths. As a play the work was unsuccessful. *We remember that Napoleon would be finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Elizabeth Barrett Browning as a child was taken by her parents to that battlefield immediately following the Battle of Waterloo. She never told Robert this because that would have given away her age, but she wrote about it in her epic poem, Aurora Leigh:
The child, there? Would you leave
That child to wander in a battle-field
And push his innocent smile against the guns?
Or even in the catacombs, . . his torch
Grown ragged in the fluttering air, and all
The dark a-mutter round him? not a child!

But Savage Landor needed a wife, all his muses having either died or married others. He proposed to a pretty but not very intelligent girl in Bath, the daughter of a bankrupt Swiss banker, Julia Thuillier, and took her to Llanthony Abbey, where they entertained the Coleridges. Debts mounted. The young couple took off for Italy leaving the property to be managed by his mother and brother. *After staying in various palaces in Florence a friend acquired for them the *Villa Gherardesca in San Domenico, where Fra Angelico had been Prior. *After the Landor family vacated the premises they were acquired by the American professor at Cornell University Daniel Willard Fiske who carefully photographed the villa as it had been under Walter Savage Landor's care for it and also *photographed his own superb collection of Icelandic and *Italian materials housed in a different place in Florence. I acquired these images from scholars in Iceland and at Cornell University in New York State, America. The Villa Landor is now the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole.

*Walter Savage Landor's marriage to Julia was a disaster. She bore him children, Arnold, Julia, Walter, and Charles. But she deeply sensed his greater love for Rose Aylmer, Rose Paynter, Iole and Ianthe. And also for men. For Walter Savage Landor was bisexual. She resented him deeply, having herself relations with other men, such as Trajan Wallis, who painted her portrait with her children, Arnold and Julia. She vented her rage against him publically, to the point that he left his family, returning to England, especially to Bath, for many years.

We learn of his visiting Warwick in 1845, dining at Guy's Cliff with the great scientist and mathematician Mary Somerville being present whom he admired greatly. Then again in 1853, at the age of 78, he spoke of the mulberry tree in the garden of Landor House, remembering it from 75 years earlier and writing a poem about this.

           Old mulberry! with all thy moss around,
           Thy arms are shatter'd, but thy heart is sound:
           So then remember one for whom of yore
           Thy tenderest boughs the crimson berry bore:
           Remember one who, trusting in thy strength,
           Lay on the low and level branch full length.
           No strength had he, alas! to climb it now,
           Nor strength to bear him, if he had, hast thou.

This mulberry survived until 1940.

But Savage Landor, we remember, had a savage temper as well as a heart of gold and loved to wage war with satiric poetry that got him into deep trouble. In the end attacking a rather horrible woman he was forced to flee abroad. He returned to the bosom of his family in Florence - who rejected him again, his wife and his oldest son Arnold particularly making him unwelcome. He became homeless in the streets of Florence, with a white mane of hair and beard like a mad King Lear, when the Brownings arranged lodgings with him with their former servant, their maid Lily Wilson, who had accompanied the two eloping poets and Elizabeth's pet spaniel Flush thirteen years earlier. Remember that Virginia Woolf wrote the biography of Flush. The first two summers the Brownings took Walter with them to the countryside around Siena *where the young and beautiful American, Kate Field, studied Greek from him, and where he partly recovered from his senile dementia. But he was a trial to poor Lily Wilson when he went back to Florence, forever throwing his dinner out the window, table cloth and all, in his rages. Kate described fifty-five year old Elizabeth Barrett Browning's funeral in 1861, noting that everyone forgot to order a carriage for Walter to attend it. *At the end the very gay poet Algernon Charles Swinburne visited Walter, composing the lines now on his tombstone.  Savage Landor's own burial occurred in 1864, three years later than Elizabeth's, his younger two sons, Walter and Charles, being present. His tombstone was so cheap it had to be replaced by another slab in 1945. His cruel oldest son Arnold died, probably of syphilis, in 1871, and Julia had him buried as far away from his father as she could with a life-size statue of herself , her back turned on her husband, on their son's enormously expensive tomb. *We brought the bones of Walter and Charles' son Arnold Henry Savage Landor, the artist, inventor, writer and explorer, to lie at their feet, reconciling all the branches of the family who came from America, Wales, and Italy to honour Walter Savage Landor with poetry and music. We have a ceremony in the cemetery of carrying the books of authors to their tombs, reading aloud the title page of the book, the inscription of the tomb, which we especially did on this occasion.

*This is the library in the cemetery to which Jean Field's wonderful volumes of Walter Savage Landor's writings have come. And also my father's books. The lilied crosses the Roma make copy those in the Bodleian Library. *Every Sunday here we hold Alphabet School for Roma families, gypsies from Romania who came to Europe a thousand years ago from India, who were slaves from the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century when they were freed by Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin being translated into Romanian but who still have not had Civil Rights and schooling. It is they who restore the tombs and *garden the cemetery.

*II.
And now to speak of another writer born in Warwick who died in Italy - my father, John Robert Glorney Bolton. His mother was from the Quaker Cashes of Coventry, his father from the Quaker Glorneys of Dublin. She was not allowed to marry him for many years, he being a poor artist. *Then the Quakers let them have the laid-down Meeting House to live in *opposite the Earl of Leycester's Hospital, **shown also in my grandfather's watercolours.

***When my father was five he was the boy sacrificed by the Druids in the Warwick Pageant my grandfather John Nunn Bolton produced with Louis Napoleon Parker for the Countess of Warwick in 1906. *My grandfather also made the head of the Dun Cow brought on to the field breathing fire and smoke. *Other episodes included the founding of the first school of Warwick, the oldest in England, and **the story of the eight-year-old boy Shakespeare embracing Queen Elizabeth. John Nunn Bolton died just three years later of polio, which also lamed my father.

*My grandmother, who also died before I was born, was left a widow with four children to raise, my father, whom they called 'Robin', Eileen, Joyce and Derek. She would mend the tapestries in Warwick Castle for her friend the Countess and embroider bishops' mitres to support her children, while seeking scholarships for them. Eileen and Joyce both were artists like their father.  *These are Eileen Mary Bolton's prints of Warwick. Derek, Frederick Rothwell Bolton, went to Cambridge University, and became a Dean of the Anglican Church of Ireland.

My father, the oldest child, like Walter Savage Landor, and like him, became a writer, but not a poet. As a boy he sang solo in St Mary's Church, then went away to Ardingly School where they could hear the cannons booming from the battlefields during the Great War. All the Cricket XI died at the Front. As did also the boy who acted Shakespeare in the Pageant. *Restless, reading Charles Lamb's essay on the Bodleian Library, a fourteen-year-old orphan, my father wrote to its librarian, asking to work there. *And arrived on the premises. He didn't finish his degree at Oxford, went first to Yorkshire to work as a journalist, 1923-1927, learning there of Sir James Roberts of Saltaire, *then to India where he covered Gandhi's Salt March for the Times of India of which he was an editor, 1927-1930. *His first book was The Tragedy of Gandhi, published while Gandhi was in prison. *He met my mother, Sir James Roberts' granddaughter, first in Canada, she being also a journalist and writer. I was conceived in Geneva at the League of Nations while Europe was preparing for World War II. *My parents dedicated their dual autobiography, Two Lives Converge, 'To Julia'.

Like the marriage of Walter Savage Landor, my parents' was also unhappy. I was sent at 16 to live with an aunt in America. My mother went to Canada, my father to Italy, where he worked for the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization and wrote several more books, including one of Pope John XXIII, his friend, then still alive. He died in Rome and was buried in the *Protestant Cemetery with John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Joseph Severn and Richard Rothwell, who painted the portrait of Mary Shelley, my brother Richard Rothwell Bolton joining them there ten years later. We buried my brother in Richard Rothwell's tomb that had, like that of Keats, been designed by Joseph Severn.

*III.
Both Walter Savage Landor and my father loved gardens, Walter saying a garden should not be too neat. Savage Landor also had his great friend Ianthe plant with him four mimosa trees at San Domenico where he had wished his tomb to be, later finding these had been cut down. I have planted a mimosa tree by his tomb in Florence. These are images of the cemetery through time and of its garden which we have now restored with the help of our Roma workers. Slides 51-69.

I particularly love this quatrain of Walter Savage Landor's.

            Death stands above me, whispering low
            I know not what into my ear:
            Of his strange language all I know
            Is there is not a word of fear.

*And now for our final slide. Here is the Italian frame, the gatehouse of the 'English' Cemetery in Florence. And here is one of the wooden rocking cradles our Roma make with us in the project we call 'From Graves to Cradles'. And here is the ourobouros on an English tomb in Florence with which I began this talk. If we write books, or even just give books, inscribing them with our name, in a way we do not die. We join ends to beginnings, we glimpse here and now the past, bringing it into the present. And I am here now with you, where Walter Savage Landor and John Robert Glorney Bolton were born, joining their endings to their beginnings.

Thank you so very much.


FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINODANTE ALIGHIERISWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINODANTE ALIGHIERI& GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || || HIRAM POWERS || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, IIIIIIVVVI VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || FLORIN WEBSITE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO ENGLISH || VITA
New: Dante vivo || White Silence