I sat with him a long while. John is well and in good spirits. Mr. Trench before leaving Gibraltar had used every persuasion to induce my brother to return with him, and had even got him on board the vessel in which they were to sail, but John’s heart failed him at the thought of forsaking Torrijos, and he went back. The account Mr. Trench gives of their proceedings is much as I imagined them to have been. They hired a house which they denominated Constitution Hall, where they passed their time smoking and drinking ale, John holding forth upon German metaphysics, which grew dense in proportion as the tobacco fumes grew thick and his glass grew empty. You know we had an alarm about their being taken prisoners, which story originated thus: they had agreed with the constitutionalists in Algeciras that on a certain day the latter were to get rid of their officers (murder them civilly, I suppose), and then light beacons on the heights, at which signal Torrijos and his companions, among them our party who were lying armed on board a schooner in the bay, were to make good their landing. The English authorities at Gibraltar, however, had note of this, and while they lay watching for the signal they were boarded by one of the Government ships and taken prisoners. The number of English soldiers in whose custody they found themselves being, however, inferior to their own, they agreed that if the beacons made their appearance they would turn upon their guards and either imprison or kill them. But the beacons were never lighted; their Spanish fellow-revolutionists broke faith with them, and they remained ingloriously on board until next day, when they were ignominiously suffered to go quietly on shore again.
GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 8, 1831.
I am going to be very busy signing my name; my benefit is fixed for the 21st; I do not yet know what the play is to be. Our young, unsuccessful playwright, Mr. Wade, whom I like very much (he took his damnation as bravely as Capaneo), and Macdonald, the sculptor, dined with us on Sunday. On Monday I went to the library of the British Museum to consult Du Bellay’s history for my new version of the last scene of “Francis I.” I looked at some delightful books, and among others, a very old and fine MS. of the “Roman de la Rose,” beautifully illuminated; also all the armorial bearings, shields, banners, etc., of the barons of King John’s time, the barons of Runnymede and the Charter, most exquisitely and minutely copied from monuments, stained glass, brass effigies, etc.; it was a fine work, beautifully executed for the late king, George IV. I wish it had been executed for me. I did get A—— to walk in the square with me once, but she likes it even less than I do; my intellectual conversation is no equivalent for the shop-windows of Regent Street and the counters of the bazaar, and she has