"No friend of Byron was so close to him, both physically and intellectually, during the years in Italy" according to Joseph Cheyne. Byron too confirms this in a letter: "It was Shelley who had the highest opinion of my talent and perhaps also of my character".
Shelley's stay in Ravenna was not very long but enough for him to get to know the city, Teresa and to realise that Byron had changed his way of life. He understood that much was due to love but also to the quieter life of a provincial city.
In a letter to Mary Shelley he wrote: "Lord Byron is very well and is happy to see me. In fact he has fully regained his health and has a completely different life to the one he had in Venice... he would have gone to an early grave were it not for the love which has diverted him away from the excesses into which he threw himself more for reasons of carelessness and pride than by predilection... now he is immersed in writing and politics".
In a letter to T.L. Peacock: "Lord Byron is in the best of health and morale... He is living with a woman, a lady of standing here, whom he loves and who loves him, ... He has written another three cantos of Don Juan. Lord Byron rises at two. In contrast I rise at midday as is my custom... After breakfast we stop to talk until six. From six until eight we gallop through the pine forest that separates Ravenna from the sea; then we return home, dine together and chat until six in the morning. I do not believe all this will kill me in a week or even a fortnight but I shall not continue to do it for long. Lord Byron's retinue consists, in addition to the servants, of ten horses, eight enormous dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a chicken and a falcon all of which, except the horses, range throughout the house which from time to time resounds with their unrestrained fights, as if they were the real owners". After the brief stay in Ravenna Shelley returned to Pisa. About a year later he drowned in the Gulf of La Spezia, on 8th July 1822.
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Last modified date: 07/05/2013