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Page 215

CHAPTER VI
PRIVATE LETTERS 1858-1861

" I THINK I will go and die in Italy, but not in my old home. It is pleasant to see the sun about one's death-bed." So Landor had written to Mr Forster in the autumn of 1856. The intention was fulfilled, but under the pressure of misfortune. Rightly or wrongly, Landor's legal advisers declared that the libel suit brought against him would infallibly result in an adverse verdict, coupled with heavy damages ; and they suggested that he should sign a deed transferring all available assets to his son, and leave England before the trial. It is futile to ask now whether a more skilful defence might have served to obtain, at any rate, a mitigation of the penalty. There is more pleasure in recalling the glimpse we get of the old man's meeting with Dickens, when he stayed a night in London on his way to Italy. One may find it in a letter from a friend of Mr Forster's, who wrote : "I thought that Landor would talk over with him (Dickens) the unpleasant crisis ; and I shall never forget my amazement when Dickens came back into the room laughing, and said that he found him very jovial, and that his whole conversation was upon the character of Catullus, Tibullus, and other Latin poets."

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