Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
1 August 1819

LORD BYRON

writes from Venice to John Murray about Margarita Cogni:

"In the autumn going to the Lido with my Gondoliers - we were overtaken by a heavy Squall and the Gondola put in peril - hats blown away - boat filling - oar lost - rain in torrents - night coming - & wind increasing. On our return: I found her great black eyes flashing through her tears and the long dark hair which was streaming drenched with rain over her brows & breast; she was perfectly exposed to the storm - and the wind blowing her hair & dress about her tall thin figure... her joy at seeing me again - was moderately mixed with ferocity - and gave me the idea of a tigress over her recovered Cubs."

4 August 1877

EDMOND DE GONCOURT,

author, writes in his journal:

"As I came in sight of Bar-le-Duc, my mind went back to the time that I came to that town as a youth... And I remembered that sweet little solicitor's wife who was always late and kept me behind so that I might accompany her to the shooting-lodge in the woods. She complained of suffering from a heart ailment; and as there was a steep slope to be climbed before one got to the woods, she used to get me to put my hand on her uncorseted heart, to show me how fast it was beating. With the result that before setting off on my last visit to the lodge I had sworn to myself that I was going to seduce the solicitor's wife in the woods. But her sister- in-law read so clearly in our eyes, when we arrived at the lodge, a determination on my part to try my luck, and perhaps a desire on her part to yield, that she stayed with us all day.

"The next morning I left to return to Paris and school; and a fortnight later the solicitor's wife was the not entirely innocent cause of my losing my virginity, one free Sunday, with Mme Charles, a huge woman with a rhomboidal torso fitted with two little arms and two little legs, which in bed made her look like a crab on its back."

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