Infomotions, Inc.Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I / Piozzi, Hester Lynch, 1741-1821



Author: Piozzi, Hester Lynch, 1741-1821
Title: Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I
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Title: Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I

Author: Hester Lynch Piozzi

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OBSERVATIONS AND REFLECTIONS

MADE IN THE COURSE OF A

JOURNEY

THROUGH

_FRANCE, ITALY, AND GERMANY_.


By HESTER LYNCH PIOZZI.


IN TWO VOLUMES

Vol. I.


LONDON:

Printed for A. STRAHAN; and T. CADELL in the Strand,

MDCCLXXXIX.




PREFACE.


I was made to observe at Rome some vestiges of an ancient custom very
proper in those days--it was the parading of the streets by a set of
people called _Preciae_, who went some minutes before the _Flamen Dialis_
to bid the inhabitants leave work or play, and attend wholly to the
procession; but if ill omens prevented the pageants from passing, or if
the occasion of the show was deemed scarcely worthy its celebration,
these _Preciae_ stood a chance of being ill-treated by the spectators. A
Prefatory introduction to a work like this, can hope little better usage
from the Public than they had; it proclaims the approach of what has
often passed by before, adorned most certainly with greater splendour,
perhaps conducted too with greater regularity and skill: Yet will I not
despair of giving at least a momentary amusement to my countrymen in
general, while their entertainment shall serve as a vehicle for
conveying expressions of particular kindness to those foreign
individuals, whose tenderness softened the sorrows of absence, and who
eagerly endeavoured by unmerited attentions to supply the loss of their
company on whom nature and habit had given me stronger claims.

That I should make some reflections, or write down some observations, in
the course of a long journey, is not strange; that I should present them
before the Public is I hope not too daring: the presumption grew up out
of their acknowledged favour, and if too kind culture has encouraged a
coarse plant till it runs to seed, a little coldness from the same
quarter will soon prove sufficient to kill it. The flattering partiality
of private partisans sometimes induces authors to venture forth, and
stand a public decision; but it is often found to betray them too; not
to be tossed by waves of perpetual contention, but rather to sink in the
silence of total neglect. What wonder! He who swims in oil must be
buoyant indeed, if he escapes falling certainly, though gently, to the
bottom; while he who commits his safety to the bosom of the
wide-embracing ocean, is sure to be strongly supported, or at worst
thrown upon the shore.

On this principle it has been still my study to obtain from a humane and
generous Public that shelter their protection best affords from the
poisoned arrows of private malignity; for though it is not difficult to
despise the attempts of petty malice, I will not say with the
Philosopher, that I mean to build a monument to my fame with the stones
thrown at me to break my bones; nor yet pretend to the art of Swift's
German Wonder-doer, who promised to make them fall about his head like
so many pillows. Ink, as it resembles Styx in its colour, should
resemble it a little in its operation too; whoever has been once _dipt_
should become _invulnerable_: But it is not so; the irritability of
authors has long been enrolled among the comforts of ill-nature, and the
triumphs of stupidity; such let it long remain! Let me at least take
care in the worst storms that may arise in public or in private life, to
say with Lear,

                        --I'm one
    More sinn'd against, than sinning.

For the book--I have not thrown my thoughts into the form of private
letters; because a work of which truth is the best recommendation,
should not above all others begin with a lie. My old acquaintance rather
chose to amuse themselves with conjectures, than to flatter me with
tender inquiries during my absence; our correspondence then would not
have been any amusement to the Public, whose treatment of me deserves
every possible acknowledgment; and more than those acknowledgments will
I not add--to a work, which, such as it is, I submit to their candour,
resolving to think as little of the event as I can help; for the labours
of the press resemble those of the toilette, both should be attended to,
and finished with care; but once complete, should take up no more of our
attention; unless we are disposed at evening to destroy all effect of
our morning's study.




OBSERVATIONS AND REFLECTIONS

MADE IN A JOURNEY THROUGH

France, Italy, and Germany.

       *       *       *       *       *



FRANCE.



CALAIS.


September 7, 1784.

Of all pleasure, I see much may be destroyed by eagerness of
anticipation: I had told my female companion, to whom travelling was
new, how she would be surprized and astonished, at the difference found
in crossing the narrow sea from England to France, and now she is not
astonished at all; why should she? We have lingered and loitered six and
twenty hours from port to port, while sickness and fatigue made her feel
as if much more time still had elapsed since she quitted the opposite
shore. The truth is, we wanted wind exceedingly; and the flights of
shaggs, and shoals of maycril, both beautiful enough, and both uncommon
too at this season, made us very little amends for the tediousness of a
night passed on ship-board.

Seeing the sun rise and set, however, upon an unobstructed horizon, was
a new idea gained to me, who never till now had the opportunity. It
confirmed the truth of that maxim which tells us, that the human mind
must have something left to supply for itself on the sight of all
sublunary objects. When my eyes have watched the rising or setting sun
through a thick crowd of intervening trees, or seen it sink gradually
behind a hill which obstructed my closer observation, fancy has always
painted the full view finer than at last I found it; and if the sun
itself cannot satisfy the cravings of a thirsty imagination, let it at
least convince us that nothing on this side Heaven can satisfy them, and
_set our affections_ accordingly.

Pious reflections remind one of monks and nuns; I enquired of the
Franciscan friar who attended us at the inn, what was become of Father
Felix, who did the duties of the quete; as it is called, about a dozen
years ago, when I recollect minding that his manners and story struck
Dr. Johnson exceedingly, who said that so complete a character could
scarcely be found in romance. He had been a soldier, it seems, and was
no incompetent or mean scholar: the books we found open in his cell,
shewed he had not neglected modern or colloquial knowledge; there was a
translation of Addison's Spectators, and Rapin's Dissertation on the
contending Parties of England called Whig and Tory. He had likewise a
violin, and some printed music, for his entertainment. I was glad to
hear he was well, and travelling to Barcelona on foot by orders of the
superior.

After dinner we set out to see Miss Grey, at her convent of Dominican
Nuns; who, I hoped, would have remembered me, as many of the ladies
there had seized much of my attention when last abroad; they had however
all forgotten me, nor could call to mind how much they had once admired
the beauty of my eldest daughter, then a child, which I thought
impossible to forget: one is always more important in one's own eyes
than in those of others; but no one is of importance to a Nun, who is
and ought to be employed in other speculations.

When the Great Mogul showed his splendour to a travelling dervise, who
expressed his little admiration of it--"Shall you not often be thinking
of me in future?" said the monarch. "Perhaps I might," replied the
religieux, "if I were not always thinking upon God."

The women spinning at their doors here, or making lace, or employing
themselves in some manner, is particularly consolatory to a British eye;
yet I do not recollect it struck me last time I was over: industry
without bustle, and some appearance of gain without fraud, comfort one's
heart; while all the profits of commerce scarcely can be said to make
immediate compensation to a delicate mind, for the noise and brutality
observed in an English port. I looked again for the chapel, where the
model of a ship, elegantly constructed, hung from the top, and found it
in good preservation: some scrupulous man had made the ship, it seems,
and thought, perhaps justly too, that he had spent a greater portion of
time and care on the workmanship than he ought to have done; so
resolving no longer to indulge his vanity or fondness, fairly hung it up
in the convent chapel, and made a solemn vow to look on it no more. I
remember a much stronger instance of self-denial practised by a pretty
young lady of Paris once, who was enjoined by her confessor to wring off
the neck of her favourite bullfinch, as a penance for having passed too
much time in teaching him to pipe tunes, peck from her hand, &c.--She
obeyed; but never could be prevailed on to see the priest again.

We are going now to leave Calais, where the women in long white camblet
clokes, soldiers with whiskers, girls in neat slippers, and short
petticoats contrived to show them, who wait upon you at the
inn;--postillions with greasy night-caps, and vast jack-boots, driving
your carriage harnessed with ropes, and adorned with sheep-skins, can
never fail to strike an Englishman at his first going abroad:--But what
is our difference of manners, compared to that prodigious effect
produced by the much shorter passage from Spain to Africa; where an
hour's time, and sixteen miles space only, carries you from Europe, from
civilization, from Christianity. A gentleman's description of his
feelings on that occasion rushes now on my mind, and makes me half
ashamed to sit here, in Dessein's parlour, writing remarks, in good
time!--upon places as well known as Westminster-bridge to almost all
those who cross it at this moment; while the custom-house officers
intrusion puts me the less out of humour, from the consciousness that,
if I am disturbed, I am disturbed from doing _nothing_.



CHANTILLY.


Our way to this place lay through Boulogne; the situation of which is
pleasing, and the fish there excellent. I was glad to see Boulogne,
though I can scarcely tell why; but one is always glad to see something
new, and talk of something old: for example, the story I once heard of
Miss Ashe, speaking of poor Dr. James, who loved profligate conversation
dearly,--"That man should set up his quarters across the water," said
she; "why Boulogne would be a seraglio to him."

The country, as far as Montreuil, is a coarse one; _thin herbage in the
plains and fruitless fields_. The cattle too are miserably poor and
lean; but where there is no grass, we can scarcely expect them to be
fat: they must not feed on wheat, I suppose, and cannot digest tobacco.
Herds of swine, not flocks of sheep, meet one's eye upon the hills; and
the very few gentlemen's feats that we have passed by, seem out of
repair, and deserted. The French do not reside much in private houses,
as the English do; but while those of narrower fortunes flock to the
country towns within their reach, those of ampler purses repair to
Paris, where the rent of their estate supplies them with pleasures at no
very enormous expence. The road is magnificent, like our old-fashioned
avenue in a nobleman's park, but wider, and paved in the middle: this
convenience continued on for many hundred miles, and all at the king's
expence. Every man you meet, politely pulls off his hat _en passant_;
and the gentlemen have commonly a good horse under them, but certainly a
dressed one.

Sporting season is not come in yet, but, I believe the idea of sporting
seldom enters any head except an English one: here is prodigious plenty
of game, but the familiarity with which they walk about and sit by our
road-side, shews they feel no apprehensions.

Harvest, even in France, is extremely backward this year, I see; no
crops are yet got in, nor will reaping be likely to pay its own charges.
But though summer is come too late for profit, the pleasure it brings is
perhaps enhanced by delay: like a life, the early part of which has been
wasted in sickness, the possessor finds too little time remaining for
work, when health _does_ come; and spends all that he has left,
naturally enough, in enjoyment.

The pert vivacity of _La Fille_ at Montreuil was all we could find there
worth remarking: it filled up my notions of French flippancy agreeably
enough; as no English wench would so have answered one to be sure. She
had complained of our avant-coureur's behaviour. "_Il parle sur le bant
ton, mademoiselle_" (said I), "_mais il a le coeur bon_[A]:" "_Ouyda_"
(replied she, smartly), "_mais c'est le ton qui fait le chanson_[B]."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: He sets his talk to a sounding tune, my dear, but he is an
honest fellow.]

[Footnote B: But I always thought it was the tune which made the
musick.]

The cathedral at Amiens made ample amends for the country we passed
through to see it; the _Nef d'Amiens_ deserves the fame of a first-rate
structure: and the ornaments of its high altar seem particularly well
chosen, of an excellent taste, and very capital execution. The vineyards
from thence hither shew, that either the climate, or season, or both,
improve upon one: the grapes climbing up some not very tall
golden-pippin trees, and mingling their fruits at the top, have a mighty
pleasing effect; and I observe the rage for Lombardy poplars is in equal
force here as about London: no tolerable house have I passed without
seeing long rows of them; all young plantations, as one may perceive by
their size. Refined countries always are panting for speedy enjoyment:
the maxim of _carpe diem_[Footnote: Seize the present moment.] came into
Rome when luxury triumphed there; and poets and philosophers lent their
assistance to decorate and dignify her gaudy car. Till then we read of
no such haste to be happy; and on the same principle, while Americans
contentedly wait the slow growth of their columnal chesnut, our hot-bed
inhabitants measure the slender poplar with canes, anxiously admiring
its quick growth and early elegance; yet are often cut down themselves,
before their youthful favourite can afford them either pleasure or
advantage.

This charming palace and gardens were new to neither of us, yet lovely
to both: the tame fish, I remember so well to have fed from my hand
eleven or twelve years ago, are turned almost all white; can it be with
age I wonder? the naturalists must tell. I once saw a carp which weighed
six pounds and an half taken out of a pond in Hertfordshire, where the
owners knew it had resided forty years at least; and it was not white,
but of the common colour: Quere, how long will they live? and when will
they begin to change? The stables struck me as more magnificent this
time than the last I saw them; the hounds were always dirtily and ill
kept; but hunting is not the taste of any nation now but ours; none but
a young English heir says to his estate as Goliah did to David, _Come to
me, and I will give thee to the beasts of the field, and to the fowls of
the air_; as some of our old books of piety reproach us. Every trick
that money can play with the most lavish abundance of water is here
exhibited; nor is the sight of a _jet d'eau_, or the murmur of an
artificial cascade, undelightful in a hot day, let the Nature-mongers
say what they please. The prince's cabinet, for a private collection, is
not a mean one; but I was sorry to see his quadrant rusted to the globe
almost, and the poor planetarium out of all repair. The great stuffed
dog is a curiosity however; I never saw any of the canine species so
large, and withal so beautiful, living or dead.

The theatre belonging to the house is a lovely one; and the truly
princely possessor, when he heard once that an English gentleman,
travelling for amusement, had called at Chantilly too late to enjoy the
diversion, instantly, though past twelve o'clock at night, ordered a new
representation, that his curiosity might be gratified. This is the same
Prince of Conde, who going from Paris to his country-seat here for a
month or two, when his eldest son was nine years old, left him fifty
louis d'ors as an allowance during his absence. At his return to town,
the boy produced his purse, crying "_Papa! here's all the money safe, I
have never touched it once_"--The Prince, in reply, took him gravely to
the window, and opening it, very quietly poured all the louis d'ors into
the street; saying, "Now, if you have neither virtue enough to give away
your money, nor spirit enough to spend it, always _do this_ for the
future, do you hear; that the poor may at least have a _chance for it_."



PARIS.


The fine paved road to this town has many inconveniencies, and jars the
nerves terribly with its perpetual rattle; the approach however always
strikes one as very fine, I think, and the boulevards and guingettes
look always pretty too: as wine, beer, and spirits are not permitted to
be sold there, one sees what England does not even pretend to exhibit,
which is gaiety without noise, and a crowd without a riot. I was pleased
to go over the churches again too, and re-experience that particular
sensation which the disposition of St. Rocque's altars and ornaments
alone can give. In the evening we looked at the new square called the
Palais Royal, whence the Due de Chartres has removed a vast number of
noble trees, which it was a sin and shame to profane with an axe, after
they had adorned that spot for so many centuries.--The people were
accordingly as angry, I believe, as Frenchmen can be, when the folly was
first committed: the court, however, had wit enough to convert the place
into a sort of Vauxhall, with tents, fountains, shops, full of frippery,
brilliant at once and worthless, to attract them; with coffeehouses
surrounding it on every side; and now they are all again _merry_ and
_happy_, synonymous terms at Paris, though often disunited in London;
and _Vive le Duc de Chartres_!

The French are really a contented race of mortals;--precluded almost
from possibility of adventure, the low Parisian leads a gentle humble
life, nor envies that greatness he never can obtain; but either wonders
delightedly, or diverts himself philosophically with the sight of
splendours which seldom fail to excite serious envy in an Englishman,
and sometimes occasion even suicide, from disappointed hopes, which
never could take root in the heart of these unaspiring people.
Reflections of this cast are suggested to one here in every shop, where
the behaviour of the matter at first sight contradicts all that our
satirists tell us of the _supple Gaul_, &c. A mercer in this town shews
you a few silks, and those he scarcely opens; _vous devez
choisir_[Footnote: Chuse what you like.], is all he thinks of saying, to
invite your custom; then takes out his snuff-box, and yawns in your
face, fatigued by your inquiries. For my own part, I find my natural
disgust of such behaviour greatly repelled, by the recollection that the
man I am speaking to is no inhabitant of

    A happy land, where circulating pow'r
    Flows thro' each member of th'embodied state--

    S. JOHNSON.


and I feel well-inclined to respect the peaceful tenor of a life, which
likes not to be broken in upon, for the sake of obtaining riches, which
when gotten must end only in the pleasure of counting them. A Frenchman
who should make his fortune by trade tomorrow, would be no nearer
advancement in society or situation: why then should he solicit, by arts
he is too lazy to delight in the practice of, that opulence which would
afford so slight an improvement to his comforts? He lives as well as he
wishes already; he goes to the Boulevards every night, treats his wife
with a glass of lemonade or ice, and holds up his babies by turns, to
hear the jokes of _Jean Pottage_. Were he to recommend his goods, like
the Londoner, with studied eloquence and attentive flattery, he could
not hope like him that the eloquence he now bestows on the decorations
of a hat, or the varnish of an equipage, may one day serve to torment a
minister, and obtain a post of honour for his son; he could not hope
that on some future day his flattery might be listened to by some lady
of more birth than beauty, or riches perhaps, when happily employed upon
a very different subject, and be the means of lifting himself into a
state of distinction, his children too into public notoriety.

Emulation, ambition, avarice, however, must in all arbitrary governments
be confined to the great; the _other_ set of mortals, for there are none
there of _middling_ rank, live, as it should seem, like eunuchs in a
seraglio; feel themselves irrevocably doomed to promote the pleasure of
their superiors, nor ever dream of sighing for enjoyments from which an
irremeable boundary divides them. They see at the beginning of their
lives how that life must necessarily end, and trot with a quiet,
contented, and unaltered pace down their long, straight, and shaded
avenue; while we, with anxious solicitude, and restless hurry, watch the
quick turnings of our serpentine walk; which still presents, either to
sight or expectation, some changes of variety in the ever-shifting
prospect, till the unthought-of, unexpected end comes suddenly upon us,
and finishes at once the fluctuating scene. Reflections must now give
way to facts for a moment, though few English people want to be told
that every hotel here, belonging to people of condition, is shut out
from the street like our Burlington-house, which gives a general gloom
to the look of this city so famed for its gaiety: the streets are narrow
too, and ill-paved; and very noisy, from the echo made by stone
buildings drawn up to a prodigious height, many of the houses having
seven, and some of them even eight stories from the bottom. The
contradictions one meets with every moment likewise strike even a
cursory observer--a countess in a morning, her hair dressed, with
diamonds too perhaps, a dirty black handkerchief about her neck, and a
flat silver ring on her finger, like our ale-wives; a _femme publique_,
dressed avowedly for the purposes of alluring the men, with not a very
small crucifix hanging at her bosom;--and the Virgin Mary's sign at an
alehouse door, with these words,

    Je suis la mere de mon Dieu,
    Et la gardienne de ce lieu[C].

[Footnote C:
    The mother of my God am I,
    And keep this house right carefully.
]

I have, however, borrowed Bocage's Remarks upon the English nation,
which serve to damp my spirit of criticism exceedingly: She had more
opportunities than I for observation, not less quickness of discernment
surely; and her stay in London was longer than mine in Paris.--Yet, how
was she deceived in many points!

I will tell nothing that I did not _see_; and among the objects one
would certainly avoid seeing if it were possible, is the deformity of
the poor.--Such various modes of warping the human figure could hardly
be observed in England by a surgeon in high practice, as meet me about
this country incessantly.--I have seen them in the galleries and
outer-courts even of the palace itself, and am glad to turn my eyes for
relief on the Duke of Orleans's pictures; a glorious collection! The
Italian noblemen, in whose company we saw it, acknowledged with candour
the good taste of the selection; and I was glad to see again what had
delighted me so many years before: particularly, the three Marys, by
Annibale Caracci; and Rubens's odd conceit of making Juno's Peacock peck
Paris's leg, for having refused the apple to his mistress.

The manufacture at the Gobelins seems exceedingly improved; the
colouring less inharmonious, the drawing more correct; but our Parisians
are not just now thinking about such matters; they are all wild for love
of a new comedy, written by Mons. de Beaumarchais, and called, "Le
Mariage de Figaro," full of such wit as we were fond of in the reign of
Charles the Second, indecent merriment, and gross immorality; mixed,
however, with much acrimonious satire, as if Sir George Etherege and
Johnny Gay had clubbed their powers of ingenuity at once to divert and
to corrupt their auditors; who now carry the verses of this favourite
piece upon their fans, pocket-handkerchiefs, &c. as our women once did
those of the Beggar's Opera.

We have enjoyed some very agreeable society here in the company of Comte
Turconi, a Milanese Nobleman who, desirous to escape all the frivolous,
and petty distinction which birth alone bestows, has long fixed his
residence in Paris, where talents find their influence, and where a
great city affords that unobserved freedom of thought and action which
can scarcely be expected by a man of high rank in a smaller circle; but
which, when once tasted, will not seldom be preferred to the attentive
watchfulness of more confined society.

The famous Venetian too, who has written so many successful comedies,
and is now employed upon his own Memoirs, at the age of eighty-four,
was a delightful addition to our Coterie, _Goldoni_. He is garrulous,
good-humoured, and gay; resembling the late James Harris of Salisbury in
person not manner, and seems justly esteemed, and highly, by his
countrymen.

The conversation of the Marquis Trotti and the Abate Bucchetti is
likewise particularly pleasing; especially to me, who am naturally
desirous to live as much as possible among Italians of general
knowledge, good taste, and polished manners, before I enter their
country, where the language will be so very indispensable. Mean time I
have stolen a day to visit my old acquaintance the English Austin Nuns
at the Fossee, and found the whole community alive and cheerful; they
are many of them agreeable women, and having seen Dr. Johnson with me
when I was last abroad, enquired much for him: Mrs. Fermor, the
Prioress, niece to Belinda in the Rape of the Lock, taking occasion to
tell me, comically enough, "That she believed there was but little
comfort to be found in a house that harboured _poets_; for that she
remembered Mr. Pope's praise made her aunt very troublesome and
conceited, while his numberless caprices would have employed ten
servants to wait on him; and he gave one" (said she) "no amends by his
talk neither, for he only sate dozing all day, when the sweet wine was
out, and made his verses chiefly in the night; during which season he
kept himself awake by drinking coffee, which it was one of the maids
business to make for him, and they took it by turns."

These ladies really live here as comfortably for aught I see as peace,
quietness, and the certainty of a good dinner every day can make them.
Just so much happier than as many old maids who inhabit Milman Street
and Chapel Row, as they are sure not to be robbed by a treacherous, or
insulted by a favoured, servant in the decline of life, when protection
is grown hopeless and resistance vain; and as they enjoy at least a
moral certainty of never living worse than they do to-day: while the
little knot of unmarried females turned fifty round Red Lion Square
_may_ always be ruined by a runaway agent, a bankrupted banker, or a
roguish steward; and even the petty pleasures of six-penny quadrille may
become by that misfortune too costly for their income.--_Aureste_, as
the French say, the difference is small: both coteries sit separate in
the morning, go to prayers at noon, and read the chapters for the day:
change their neat dress, eat their little dinner, and play at small
games for small sums in the evening; when recollection tires, and chat
runs low.

But more adventurous characters claim my present attention. All Paris I
think, myself among the rest, assembled to see the valiant brothers,
Robert and Charles, mount yesterday into the air, in company with a
certain Pilatre de Rosier, who conducted them in the new-invented flying
chariot fastened to an air-balloon. It was from the middle of the
Tuilleries that they set out, a place very favourable and well-contrived
for such public purposes. But all was so nicely managed, so cleverly
carried on somehow, that the order and decorum of us who remained on
firm ground, struck me more than even the very strange sight of human
creatures floating in the wind: but I have really been witness to ten
times as much bustle and confusion at a crowded theatre in London, than
what these peaceable Parisians made when the whole city was gathered
together. Nobody was hurt, nobody was frighted, nobody could even
pretend to feel themselves incommoded. Such are among the few comforts
that result from a despotic government.

My republican spirit, however, boiled up a little last Monday, when I
had to petition Mons. de Calonne for the restoration of some trifles
detained in the custom-house at Calais. His politeness, indeed, and the
sight of others performing like acts of humiliation, reconciled me in
some measure to the drudgery of running from subaltern to subaltern,
intreating, in pathetic terms, the remission of a law which is at last
either just or unjust; if just, no felicitation should, methinks, be
permitted to change it; if unjust, what can be so grating as the
obligation to solicit?

We mean to quit Paris to-morrow; I therefore enquired this evening, what
was become of our aerial travellers. A very grave man replied, "_Je
crois, Madame, qu'ils sont deja arrives ces Messieurs la, au lieu ou
les vents se forment_[D]."

[Footnote D: I fancy, Ma'am, the gentlemen are gone to see the place
where all the winds blow from.]



LYONS.


Sept. 25, 1784.

We left the capital at our intended time, and put into the carriage, for
amusement, a book seriously recommended by Mr. Goldoni; but which
diverted me only by the fanfaronades that it contained. The author has,
however, got the premium by this performance, which the Academy of
Berlin promised to whoever wrote best this year on any Belles Lettres
subject. This gentleman judiciously chose to give reasons for the
universality of the French language, and has been so gaily insolent to
every other European nation in his flimsy pamphlet, that some will
probably praise, many reply to, all read, and all forget it. I will
confess myself so seized on by his sprightly impertinence, that I wished
for leisure to translate, and wit to answer him at first, but the want
of one solid thought by which to recollect his existence has cured me;
and I now find that he was deliciously cool and sharp, like the ordinary
wine of the country we are passing through, which having _no body_, can
neither keep its little power long, nor even use it while fresh to any
sensible effect.

The country is really beautiful; but descriptions are _so_ fallacious,
one half despairs of communicating one's ideas as they are: for either
well-chosen words do not present themselves, or being well-chosen they
detain the reader, and fix his mind on _them_, instead of the things
described. Certain it is that I had formed no adequate notion of the
fine river called the Yonne, with cattle grazing on its fertile banks:
those banks not clothed indeed with our soft verdure, but with royal
purple, proceeding from an autumnal daisy of that colour that enamels
every meadow at this season. Here small enclosures seem unknown to the
inhabitants, who are strewed up and down expansive views of a most
productive country; where vineyards swell upon the rising grounds, and
young wheat ornaments the valleys below: while clusters of aspiring
poplars, or a single walnut-tree of greater size and dignity unite in
attracting attention, and inspiring poetical ideas. Here is no tedious
uniformity to fatigue the eye, nor rugged asperities to disgust it; but
ceaseless variety of colouring among the plants, while the caerulean
willow, the yellow walnut, the gloomy beech, and silver theophrastus,
seem scattered by the open hand of lavish Nature over a landscape of
respectable extent, uniting that sublimity which a wide expanse always
conveys to the mind, with that distinctness so desired by the eye; which
cultivation alone can offer and fertility bestow. Every town that should
adorn these lovely plains, however, exhibits, upon a nearer approach,
misery; the more mortifying, as it is less expected by a spectator, who
requires at least some days experience to convince him that the squallid
scenes of wretchedness and dirt in which he is obliged to pass the
night, will prove more than equivalent to the pleasures he has enjoyed
in the day-time, derived from an appearance of elegance and
wealth--elegance, the work of Nature, not of man; and opulence, the
immediate gift of God, and not the result of commerce. He who should fix
his residence in France, lives like Sir Gawaine in our old romance,
whose wife was bound by an enchantment, that obliged her at evening to
lay down the various beauties which had charmed admiring multitudes all
day, and become an object of odium and disgust.

The French do seem indeed an idle race; and poverty, perhaps for that
reason, forces her way among them, through a climate that might tempt
other mortals to improve its blessings; but, as the motto to the arms
they are so proud of expresses it--"they _toil not, neither do they
spin_." Content, the bane of industry, as Mandeville calls it, renders
them happy with what Heaven has unsolicited shaken into their lap; and
who knows but the spirit of blaming such behaviour may be less pleasing
to God that gives, than is the behaviour itself?

Let us not, mean time, be forward to suppose, that whatever one sees
done, is done upon principle, as such fancies will for ever mislead one:
much must be left to chance, when we are judging the conduct either of
nations or individuals. And surely I never knew till now, that so little
religion could exist in any Christian country as in this, where they
drive their carts, and keep their little shops open on a Sunday,
forbearing neither pleasure nor business, as I see, on account of
observing that day upon which their Redeemer rose again. They have a
tradition among the meaner people, that when Christ was crucified, he
turned his head towards France, over which he pronounced his last
blessing; but we must accuse them, if so, of being very ungrateful
favourites.

This stately city, Lyons, is very happily and finely situated; the
Rhone, which flows by its side, inviting mills, manufactures, &c. seems
resolved to contradict and wash away all I have been saying; but we must
remember, it is five days journey from Paris hither, and I have been
speaking only of the little places we passed through in coming along.

The avenue here, which leads to one of the greatest objects in the
nation, is most worthy of that object's dignity indeed: the marriage of
two rivers, which having their sources at a prodigious distance from
each other, meet here, and together roll their beneficial tribute to the
sea. Howell's remark, "That the Saone resembles a Spaniard in the
slowness of its current, and that the Rhone is emblematic of French
rapidity," cannot be kept a moment out of one's head: it is equally
observable, that the junction adds little in appearance to their
strength and grandeur, and that each makes a better figure _separate_
than _united_.

La Montagne d'Or is a lovely hill above the town, and I am told that
many English families reside upon it, but we have no time to make minute
enquiries. L'Hotel de la Croix de Malthe affords excellent
accommodations within, and a delightful prospect without. The Baths too
have attracted my notice much, and will, I hope, repair my strength, so
as to make me no troublesome fellow-traveller. How little do those
ladies consult their own interest, who make impatience of petty
inconveniences their best supplement for conversation!--fancy themselves
more important as less contented; and imagine all delicacy to consist in
the difficulty of being pleased! Surely a dip in this delightful river
will restore my health, and enable me to pass the mountains, of which
our present companions give me a very formidable account.

The manufacturers here, at Lyons, deserve a volume, and I shall
scarcely give them a page; though nothing I ever saw at London or Paris
can compare with the beauty of these velvets, or with the art necessary
to produce such an effect, while the wrong side is smooth, not struck
through. The hangings for the Empress of Russia's bed-chamber are
wonderfully executed; the design elegant, the colouring brilliant: A
screen too for the Grand Signor is finely finished here; he would, I
trust, have been contented with magnificence in the choice of his
furniture, but Mr. Pernon has added taste to it, and contrived in
appearance to sink an urn or vase of crimson velvet in a back ground of
gold tissue with surprising ingenuity.

It is observable, that the further people advance in elegance, the less
they value splendour; distinction being at last the positive thing which
mortals elevated above competency naturally pant after. Necessity must
first be supplied we know, convenience then requires to be contented;
but as soon as men can find means after that period to make themselves
eminent for taste, they learn to despise those paltry distinctions
which riches alone can bestow.

Talking of Taste leads one to speak of gardening; and having passed
yesterday between two villas belonging to some of the most opulent
merchants of Lyons, I gained an opportunity of observing the disposal of
those grounds that are appropriated to pleasure; where the shade of
straight long-drawn alleys, formed by a close junction of ancient elm
trees, kept a dazzling sun from incommoding our sight, and rendering the
turf so mossy and comfortable to one's tread, that my heart never felt
one longing wish for the beauties of a lawn and shrubbery--though I
should certainly think such a manner of laying out a Lancashire
gentleman's seat in the north of England a mad one, where the heat of
the sun ought to be invited in, not shut out; and where a large lake of
water is wanted for his beams to sparkle upon, instead of a fountain to
trickle and to murmur, and to refresh one with the idea of coolness
which it excites. Here, however, where the Rhone is navigable up to the
very house, I see not but it is rational enough to form jet d'eaux of
the superfluous water, and to content one's self with a Bird Cage Walk,
when we are sure at the end of it to find ourselves surrounded by an
horizon, of extent enough to give the eye full employment, and of a
bright colouring which affords it but little relief. That among the gems
of Europe our island holds the rank of an _emerald_, was once suggested
to me, and I could never part with the idea; surely France must in the
same scale be rated as the _ruby_; for here is no grass, no verdure to
repose the sight upon, except that of high forest trees, the vineyards
being short cut, and supported by white sticks, the size of those which
in our flower gardens support a favourite carnation; and these placed
close together by thousands on a hill rather perplex than please a
spectator of the country, who must wait till he recollects the
superiority of their produce, before he prefers them to a Herefordshire
orchard or a Kentish hop-ground.

Well! well! it is better to waste no more words on places however, where
the people have done so much to engage and to deserve our attention.

Such was the hospitality I have here been witness to, and such the
luxuries of the Lyonnois at table, that I counted six and thirty dishes
where we dined, and twenty-four where we supped. Every thing was served
up in silver at both places, and all was uniformly magnificent, except
the linen, which might have been finer. We were not a very numerous
company--from eighteen to twenty-two, as I remember, morning and
evening; but the ladies played upon the pedal harp, the gentlemen sung
gaily, if not sweetly after supper: I never received more kindness for
my own part in any fortnight of my life, nor ever heard that kindness
more pleasingly or less coarsely expressed. These are merchants, I am
told, with whom I have been living; and perhaps my heart more readily
receives and repays their caresses for having heard so. Let princes
dispute, and soldiers reciprocally support their quarrels; but let the
wealthy traders of every nation unite to pour the oil of commerce over
the too agitated ocean of human life, and smooth down those asperities
which obstruct fraternal concord.

The Duke and Duchess of Cumberland lodge here at our hotel; I saw them
treated with distinguished respect to-night at the theatre, where _a
force de danser_[Footnote: By dint of dancing alone], I actually was
moved to shed many tears over the distresses of _Sophie de Brabant_.
Surely these pantomimes will very soon supplant all poetry, when, as
Gratiano says, "Our words will suddenly become superfluous, and
discourse grow commendable in none but parrots."

Some conversation here, however, struck me as curious; the more so as I
had heard the subject slightly touched upon at Paris; but faintly there,
as the last sounds of an echo, while here they are all loud, all in
earnest, and all their heads seemed turned, I think, about something, or
nothing, which they call _animal magnetism_. I cannot imagine how it has
seized them so: a man who undertakes to cure disorders by the touch, is
no new thing; our Philosophical Transactions make mention of Gretrex the
stroaker, in Charles the Second's reign. The present mountebank, it is
true, seems more hardy in his experiments, and boasts of being able to
cause disorders in the human frame, as well as to remove them. A
gentleman at yesterday's dinner-party mentioned, that he took pupils;
and, before I had expressed the astonishment I felt, professed himself a
disciple; and was happy to assure us, he said, that though he had not
yet attained the desirable power of putting a person into a catalepsy at
pleasure, he could throw a woman into a deep swoon, from which no arts
but his own could recover her. How difficult is it to restrain one's
contempt and indignation from a buffoonery so mean, or a practice so
diabolical!--This folly may possibly find its way into England--I should
be very sorry.

To-morrow we leave Lyons. I should have liked to pass through
Switzerland, the Derbyshire of Europe; but I am told the season is too
far advanced, as we mean to spend Christmas at Milan.




ITALY



TURIN.


October 17, 1784.

We have at length passed the Alps, and are safely arrived at this lovely
little city, whence I look back on the majestic boundaries of Italy,
with amazement at his courage who first profaned them: surely the
immediate sensation conveyed to the mind by the sight of such tremendous
appearances must be in every traveller the same, a sensation of fulness
never experienced before, a satisfaction that there is something great
to be seen on earth--some object capable of contenting even fancy. Who
he was who first of all people pervaded these fortifications, raised by
nature for the defence of her European Paradise, is not ascertained; but
the great Duke of Savoy has wisely left his name engraved on a monument
upon the first considerable ascent from Pont Bonvoisin, as being author
of a beautiful road cut through the solid stone for a great length of
way, and having by this means encouraged others to assist in
facilitating a passage so truly desirable, till one of the great wonders
now to be observed among the Alps, is the ease with which even a
delicate traveller may cross them. In these prospects, colouring is
carried to its utmost point of perfection, particularly at the time I
found it, variegated with golden touches of autumnal tints; immense
cascades mean time bursting from naked mountains on the one side;
cultivated fields, rich with vineyards, on the other, and tufted with
elegant shrubs that invite one to pluck and carry them away to where
they would be treated with much more respect. Little towns flicking in
the clefts, where one would imagine it was impossible to clamber; light
clouds often sailing under the feet of the high-perched inhabitants,
while the sound of a deep and rapid though narrow river, dashing with
violence among the insolently impeding rocks at the bottom, and bells in
thickly-scattered spires calling the quiet Savoyards to church upon the
steep sides of every hill--fill one's mind with such mutable, such
various ideas, as no other place can ever possibly afford.

I had the satisfaction of seeing a chamois at a distance, and spoke with
a fellow who had killed five hungry bears that made depredation on his
pastures: we looked on him with reverence as a monster-tamer of
antiquity, Hercules or Cadmus; he had the skin of a beast wrapt round
his middle, which confirmed the fancy--but our servants, who borrowed
from no fictitious records the few ideas that adorned their talk, told
us he reminded _them_ of _John the Baptist_. I had scarce recovered the
shock of this too sublime comparison, when we approached his cottage,
and found the felons nailed against the wall, like foxes heads or spread
kites in England. Here are many goats, but neither white nor large, like
those which browze upon the steeps of Snowdon, or clamber among the
cliffs of Plinlimmon.

I chatted with a peasant in the Haute Morienne, concerning the endemial
swelling of the throat, which is found in seven out of every ten persons
here: he told me what I had always heard, but do not yet believe, that
it was produced by drinking the snow water. Certain it is, these places
are not wholesome to live in; most of the inhabitants are troubled with
weak and sore eyes: and I recollect Sir Richard Jebb telling me, more
than seven years ago, that when he passed through Savoy, the various
applications made to him, either for the cure or prevention of blindness
by numberless unfortunate wretches that crowded round him, hastened his
quitting a province where such horrible complaints prevailed. One has
heard it related that the goistre or gozzo of the throat is reckoned a
beauty by those who possess it; but I spoke with many, and all agreed to
lament it as a misfortune. That it does really proceed merely from
living in a snowy country, would be well confirmed by accounts of a
similar sickness being endemial in Canada; but of an American goistre I
have never yet heard--and Wales, methinks, is snowy enough, and
mountainous enough, God knows; yet were such an excrescence to be seen
_there_, the people would never have done wondering, and blessing
themselves.

The mines of Derbyshire, however, do not very unfrequently exhibit
something of the same appearance among those who work in _them_; and as
Savoy is impregnated with many minerals, I should be apter to attribute
this extension of the gland to their influence over the constitution,
than to that of snow water, which can scarcely be efficacious in a
degree of power equal to the producing so very violent an effect.

The wolves do certainly come down from these mountains in large troops,
just as Thomson describes them:

    Burning for blood; boney, and gaunt, and grim.--

But it is now the fashionable philosophy every where to consider this
creature as the original of our domestic friend, the dog. It was a long
time before my heart assented to its truth, yet surely their hunting
thus in packs confirms it; and the Jackall's willingness to connect with
either race, shews one that the species cannot be far removed, and that
he makes the shade between the wolf and rough haired shepherd's cur.

Of the longevity of man this district affords us no pleasing examples.
The peasants here are apparently unhealthy, and they say--short-lived.
We are told by travellers of former days, that there is a region of the
air so subtle as to extinguish the two powers of taste and smell; and
those who have crossed the Cordilleras of the Andes say, that situations
have been explored among their points in South America, where those
senses have been found to suffer a temporary suspension. Our _voyageurs
aeriens_[Footnote: Our aerostatic travellers] may now be useful to
settle that question among others, and Pambamarca's heights may remain
untrodden.

As for Mount Cenis, I never felt myself more hungry, or better enjoyed a
good dinner, than I did upon it's top: but the trout in the lake there
have been over praised; their pale colour allured me but little in the
first place, nor is their flavour equal to that of trout found in
running water. Going down the Italian side of the Alps is, after all, an
astonishing journey; and affords the most magnificent scenery in nature,
which varying at every step, gives new impression to the mind each
moment of one's passage; while the portion of terror excited either by
real or fancied dangers on the way, is just sufficient to mingle with
the pleasure, and make one feel the full effect of sublimity. To the
chairmen who carry one though, nothing can be new; it is observable that
the glories of these objects have never faded--I heard them speak to
each other of their beauties, and the change of light since they had
passed by last time, while a fellow who spoke English as well as a
native told us, that having lived in a gentleman's service twenty years
between London and Dublin, he at length begged his discharge, chusing to
retire and finish his days a peasant upon these mountains, where he
first opened his eyes upon scenes that made all other views of nature
insipid to his taste.

If impressions of beauty remain, however, those of danger die away by
frequent reiteration; the men who carried me seemed amazed that I should
feel any emotions of fear. _Qu'est ce donc, madame_?[Footnote: What's
the matter, my lady?] was the coldly-asked question to my repeated
injunction of _prenez garde_[Footnote: Take care.]: not very apparently
unnecessary neither, where the least slip must have been fatal both to
them and me.

Novalesa is the town we stopped at, upon entering Piedmont; where the
hollow sound of a heavy dashing torrent that has accompanied us
hitherto, first grows faint, and the ideas of common life catch hold of
one again; as the noise of it is heard from a greater distance, its
stream grows wider, and its course more tranquil. For compensation of
danger, ease should be administered; but one's quiet is here so
disturbed by insects, and polluted by dirt, that one recollects the
conduct of the Lapland rein-deer, who seeks the summit of the hill at
the hazard of his life, to avoid those gnats which sting him to madness
in the valley.

Suza shewed nothing that I took much interest in, except its name; and
nobody tells me why it is honoured with that old Asiatick appellation.
At the next town, called St. Andre, or St. Ambroise, I forget which, we
got an admirable dinner; and saw our room decorated with a large map of
London, which I looked on with sensations different from those ever
before excited by the same object, Amsterdam and Constantinople covered
the other sides of the wall; and over the door of the chamber itself was
written, as our people write the Lamb or the Lion, "_Les trois Villes
Heretiques_[Footnote: The three Heretical Cities]."

The avenue to Turin, most magnificently planted, and drawn in a wide
straight line, shaded like the Bird-cage walk in St. James's Park, for
twelve miles in length, is a dull work, but very useful and convenient
in so hot a country; it has been completed by the taste, and at the sole
expence, of his Sardinian majesty, that he may enjoy a cool shady drive
from one of his palaces to the other. The town to which this long
approach conveys one does not disgrace its entrance. It is built in form
of a star, with a large stone in its centre, on which you are desired to
stand, and see the streets all branch regularly from it, each street
terminating with a beautiful view of the surrounding country, like spots
of ground seen in many of the old-fashioned parks in England, when the
etoile and vista were the mode. I think there is[5] still one
subsisting even now, if I remember right, in Kensington Gardens. Such
symmetry is really a soft repose for the eye, wearied with following a
soaring falcon through the half-sightless regions of the air, or darting
down immeasurable precipices, to examine if the human figure could be
discerned at such a depth below one. Model of elegance, exact Turin!
where Italian hospitality first consoled, and Italian arts first repaid,
the fatigues of my journey: how shall I bear to leave my new-obtained
acquaintance? how shall I consent to quit this lovely city? where, from
the box put into my possession by the Prince de la Cisterna, I first saw
an Italian opera acted in an Italian theatre; where the wonders of
Porporati's hand shewed me that our Bartolozzi was not without a
competitor; and where every pleasure which politeness can invent, and
kindness can bestow, was held out for my acceptance. Should we be
seduced, however, to waste time here, we should have reason in a future
day to repent our choice; like one who, enamoured of Lord Pembroke's
great hall at Wilton, should fail to afford himself leisure for looking
over the better-furnished apartments.

This charming town is the _salon_ of Italy; but it is a
finely-proportioned and well-ornamented _salon_ happily constructed to
call in the fresh air at the end of every street, through which a rapid
stream is directed, that _ought_ to carry off all nuisances, which here
have no apology from want of any convenience purchasable by money; and
which must for that reason be the choice of inhabitants, who would
perhaps be too happy, had they a natural taste for that neatness which
might here be enjoyed in its purity. The arches formed to defend
passengers from the rain and sun, which here might have even serious
effects from their violence, deserve much praise; while their
architecture, uniting our ideas of comfort and beauty together, form a
traveller's taste, and teach him to admire that perfection, of which a
miniature may certainly be found at Turin, when once a police shall be
established there to prevent such places being used for the very
grossest purposes, and polluted with smells that poison all one's
pleasure.

It is said, that few European palaces exceed in splendour that of
Sardinia's king; I found it very fine indeed, and the pictures
dazzling. The death of a dropsical woman well known among all our
connoisseurs detained my attention longest: the value set on it here is
ten thousand pounds. The horse cut out of a block of marble at the
stairs-foot attracted me not a little; but we are told that the
impression it makes will soon be effaced by the sight of greater
wonders. Mean time I go about like Stephano and his ignorant companions,
who longed for all the glittering furniture of Prospero's cell in the
Tempest, while those who know the place better are vindicated in crying,
"_Let it alone, thou fool, it is but trash_."

Some letters from home directed me to enquire in this town for Doctor
Charles Allioni, who kindly received, and permitted me to examine the
rarities, of which he has a very capital collection. His fossil fish in
slate--blue slate, are surprisingly well preserved; but there is in the
world, it seems, a chrystalized trout, not flat, nor the flesh eaten
away, as I understand, but round; and, as it were, cased in chrystal
like our _aspiques_, or _fruit in jelly_: the colour still so perfect
that you may plainly perceive the spots upon it, he says. To my
enquiries after this wonderful petrefaction, he replied, "That it might
be bought for a thousand pounds;" and added, "that if he were a _Ricco
Inglese_[Footnote: Rich Englishman], he would not hesitate for the
price:" "Where may I see it, Sir?" said I; but to that question no
intreaties could produce an answer, after he once found I had no mind to
buy.

That fresh-water fish have been known to remain locked in the flinty
bosom of Monte Uda in Carnia, the Academical Discourse of Cyrillo de
Cremona, pronounced there in the year 1749, might have informed us; and
we are all familiar, I suppose, with the anchor named in the fifteenth
book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Strabo mentions pieces of a galley found
three thousand stadii from any sea; and Dr. Allioni tells me, that Monte
Bolca has been long acknowledged to contain the fossils, now diligently
digging out under the patronage of some learned naturalists at
Verona.--The trout, however, is of value much beyond these productions
certainly, as it is closed round as if in a transparent case we find,
hermetically sealed by the soft hand of Nature, who spoiled none of her
own ornaments in preserving them for the inspection of her favourite
students.

The amiable old professor from whom these particulars were obtained, and
who endured my teizing him in bad Italian for intelligence he cared not
to communicate, with infinite sweetness and patience grew kinder to me
as I became more troublesome to him: and shewing me the book upon botany
to which he had just then put the last line; turned his dim eyes from
me, and said, as they filled with tears, "You, Madam, are the last
visitor I shall ever more admit to talk upon earthly subjects; my work
is done; I finished it as you were entering:--my business now is but to
wait the will of God, and die; do you, who I hope will live long and
happily, seek out your own salvation, and pray for mine." Poor dear
Doctor Allioni! My enquiries concerning this truly venerable mortal
ended in being told that his relations and heirs teized him cruelly to
sell his manuscripts, insects, &c. and divide the money amongst _them_
before he died. An English scholar of the same abilities would be apt
enough to despise such admonitions, and dispose at his own liking and
leisure of what his industry alone had gained, his learning only
collected; but there seems to be much more family fondness on the
Continent than in our island; more attention to parents, more care for
uncles, and nephews, and sisters, and aunts, than in a commercial
country like ours, where, for the most part, each one makes his own way
separate; and having received little assistance at the beginning of
life, considers himself as little indebted at the close of it.

Whoever takes a long journey, however he may at his first commencement
be tempted to accumulate schemes of convenience and combinations of
travelling niceties, will cast them off in the course of his travels as
incumbrances; and whoever sets out in life, I believe, with a crowd of
relations round him, will, on the same principle, feel disposed to drop
one or two of them at every turn, as they hang about and impede his
progress, and make his own game single-handed. I speak of _Englishmen_,
whose religion and government inspire rather a spirit of public
benevolence, than contract the social affections to a point; and
co-operate, besides, to prompt that genius for adventure, and taste of
general knowledge, which has small chance to spring up in the
inhabitants of a feudal state; where each considers his family as
himself, and having derived all the comfort he has ever enjoyed from his
relations, resolves to return their favours at the end of a life, which
they make happy, in proportion as it _is_ so: and this accounts for the
equality required in continental marriages, which are avowedly made here
without regard to inclination, as the keeping up a family, not the
choice of a companion, is considered as important; while the lady bred
up in the same notions, complies with her _first_ duties, and considers
the _second_ as infinitely more dispensable.



GENOA.


Nov. 1, 1784.

It was on the twenty-first of last month that we passed from Turin to
Monte Casale; and I wondered, as I do still, to see the face of Nature
yet without a wrinkle, though the season is so far advanced. Like a
Parisian female of forty years old, dressed for court, and stored with
such variety of well-arranged allurements, that the men say to each
other as she passes.--"Des qu'elle a cessee d'estre jolie, elle n'en
devient que plus belle, ce me semble[E]."

[Footnote E: She's grown handsomer, I think, since she has left off
being pretty.]

The prospect from St. Salvadore's hill derives new beauties from the
yellow autumn; and exhibits such glowing proofs of opulence and
fertility, as words can with difficulty communicate. The animals,
however, do not seem benefited in proportion to the apparent riches of
the country: asses, indeed, grow to a considerable size, but the oxen
are very small, among pastures that might suffice for Bakewell's bulls;
and these are all little, and almost all _white_; a colour which gives
unfavourable ideas either of strength or duration.

The blanche rose among vegetables scatters a less powerful perfume than
the red one; whilst in the mineral kingdom silver holds but the second
place to gold, which imbibing the bright hues of its parent-sun, becomes
the first and greatest of all metallic productions. One may observe too,
that yellow is the earliest colour to salute the rising year, the last
to leave it: crocuses, primroses, and cowslips give the first earnest of
resuscitating summer; while the lemon-coloured butterfly, whose name I
have forgotten, ventures out, before any others of her kind can brave
the parting breath of winter's last storms; stoutest to resist cold, and
steadiest in her manner of flying. The present season is yellow indeed,
and nothing is to be seen now but sun-flowers and African marygolds
around us; _one_ bough besides, on every tree we pass--_one_ bough at
least is tinged with the golden hue; and if it does put one in mind of
that presented to Proserpine, we may add the original line too, and say,

    Uno avulfo, non deficit alter[F].

[Footnote F:
    Pluck one away, another still remains.
]

The sure-footed and docile mule, with which in England I was but little
acquainted, here claims no small attention, from his superior size and
beauty: the disagreeable noise they make so frequently, however, hinders
one from wishing to ride them--it is not braying somehow, but worse; it
is neighing out of tune.

I have put nothing down about eating since we arrived in Italy, where no
wretched hut have I yet entered that does not afford soup, better than
one often tastes in England even at magnificent tables. Game of all
sorts--woodcocks in particular. Porporati, the so justly-famed engraver,
produced upon his hospitable board, one of the pleasant days we passed
with him, a couple so exceedingly large, that I hesitated, and looked
again, to see whether they were really woodcocks, till the long bill
convinced me.

One reads of the luxurious emperors that made fine dishes of the little
birds brains, phenicopter's tongues, &c. and of the actor who regaled
his guests with nightingale-pie, with just detestation of such curiosity
and expence: but thrushes, larks, and blackbirds, are so _very_ frequent
between Turin and Novi, I think they might serve to feed all the
fantastical appetites to which Vitellius himself could give
encouragement and example.

The Italians retain their tastes for small birds in full force; and
consider beccafichi, ortolani, &c. as the most agreeable dainties: it
must be confessed that they dress them incomparably. The sheep here are
all lean and dirty-looking, few in number too; but the better the soil
the worse the mutton we know, and here is no land to throw away, where
every inch turns to profit in the olive-yards, vines, or something of
much higher value than letting out to feed sheep.

Population seems much as in France, I think: but the families are not,
in either nation, disposed according to British notions of propriety;
all stuffed together into little towns and large houses, _entessees_, as
the French call it; one upon another, in such a strange way, that were
it not for the quantity of grapes on which the poor people live, with
other acescent food enjoined by the church, and doubtless suggested by
the climate, I think putrid fevers must necessarily carry off crowds of
them at once.

The head-dress of the women in this drive through some of the northern
states of Italy varied at every post; from the velvet cap, commonly a
crimson one, worn by the girls in Savoia, to the Piedmontese plait round
the bodkin at Turin, and the odd kind of white wrapper used in the
exterior provinces of the Genoese dominions. Uniformity of almost any
sort gives a certain pleasure to the eye, and it seems an invariable
rule in these countries that all the women of every district should
dress just alike. It is the best way of making the men's task easy in
judging which is handsomest; for taste so varies the human figure in
France and England, that it is impossible to have an idea how many
pretty faces and agreeable forms would lose and how many gain admirers
in those nations, were a sudden edict to be published that all should
dress exactly alike for a year. Mean time, since we left Deffeins, no
such delightful place by way of inn have we yet seen as here at Novi. My
chief amusement at Alexandria was to look out upon the _huddled_
marketplace, as a great dramatic writer of our day has called it; and
who could help longing there for Zoffani's pencil to paint the lively
scene?

Passing the Po by moon-light near Casale exhibited an entertainment of a
very different nature, not unmixed with ill-concealed fear indeed;
though the contrivance of crossing it is not worse managed than a ferry
at Kew or Richmond used to be before our bridges were built. Bridges
over the rapid Po would, however, be truly ridiculous; when swelled by
the mountain snows it tears down all before it in its fury, and
inundates the country round.

The drive from Novi on to Genoa is so beautiful, so grand, so replete
with imagery, that fancy itself can add little to its charms: yet, after
every elegance and every ornament have been justly admired, from the
cloud which veils the hill, to the wild shrubs which perfume the valley;
from the precipices which alarm the imagination, to the tufts of wood
which flatter and sooth it; the sea suddenly appearing at the end of
the Bocchetta terminates our view, and takes from one even the hope of
expressing our delight in words adequate to the things described.

Genoa la Superba stands proudly on the margin of a gulph crowded with
ships, and resounding with voices, which never fail to animate a British
hearer--the Tailor's shout, the mariner's call, swelled by successful
commerce, or strengthened by newly-acquired fame.

After a long journey by land, such scenes are peculiarly delightful; but
description tangles, not communicates, the sensations imbibed upon the
spot. Here are so many things to describe! such churches! such palaces!
such pictures! one would imagine the Genoese possessed the empire of the
ocean, were it not well known that they call but fix galleys their own,
and seventy years ago suffered all the horrors of a bombardment.

The Dorian palace is exceedingly fine; the Durazzo palace, for ought I
know, is finer; and marble here seems like what one reads of silver in
King Solomon's time, which, says the Scripture, "_was nothing counted
on in the days of Solomon_" Casa Brignoli too is splendid and
commodious; the terraces and gardens on the house-tops, and the fresco
paintings outside, give one new ideas of human life; and exhibits a
degree of luxury unthought-on in colder climates. But here we live on
green pease and figs the first day of November, while orange and lemon
trees flaunt over the walls more common than pears in England.

The Balbi mansion, filled with pictures, detained us from the churches
filled with more. I have heard some of the Italians confess that Genoa
even pretends to vie with Rome herself in ecclesiastical splendour. In
devotion I should think she would be with difficulty outdone: the people
drop down on their knees in the street, and crowd to the church doors
while the benediction is pronouncing, with a zeal which one might hope
would draw down stores of grace upon their heads. Yet I hear from the
inhabitants of other provinces, that they have a bad character among
their neighbours, who love not the _base Ligurian_ and accuse them of
many immoralities. They tell one too of a disreputable saying here, how
there are at Genoa men without honesty, women without modesty, a sea
with no fish, and a wood with no birds. Birds, however, here certainly
are by the million, and we have eaten fish since we came every day; but
I am informed they are neither cheap nor plentiful, nor considered as
excellent in their kinds. Here is macaroni enough however!--the people
bring in such a vast dish of it at a time, it disgusts one.

The streets of the town are much too narrow for beauty or
convenience--impracticable to coaches, and so beset with beggars that it
is dreadful. A chair is therefore, above all things, necessary to be
carried in, even a dozen steps, if you are likely to feel shocked at
having your knees suddenly clasped by a figure hardly human; who perhaps
holding you forcibly for a minute, conjures you loudly, by the sacred
wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ, to have compassion upon _his_; shewing
you at the same time such undeniable and horrid proofs of the anguish he
is suffering, that one must be a monster to quit him unrelieved. Such
pathetic misery, such disgusting distress, did I never see before, as I
have been witness to in this gaudy city--and that not occasionally or
by accident, but all day long, and in such numbers that humanity shrinks
from the description. Sure, charity is not the virtue that they pray
for, when begging a blessing at the church-door.

One should not however speak unkindly of a people whose affectionate
regard for our country shewed itself so clearly during the late war: a
few days residence with the English consul here at his country seat gave
me an opportunity of hearing many instances of the Republic's generous
attachment to Great Britain, whose triumphs at Gibraltar over the united
forces of France and Spain were honestly enjoyed by the friendly
Genoese, who gave many proofs of their sincerity, more solid than those
clamorous ones of huzzaing our minister about wherever he went, and
crying _Viva il General_ ELIOTT; while many young gentlemen of
high station offered themselves to go volunteers aboard our fleet, and
were with difficulty restrained.

We have been shewed some beautiful villas belonging to the noblemen of
this city, among which Lomellino's pleased me best; as the water there
was so particularly beautiful, that he had generously left it at full
liberty to roll unconducted, and murmur through his tasteful pleasure
grounds, much in the manner of our lovely Leasowes; happily uniting with
English simplicity, the glowing charms that result from an Italian sky.
My eyes were so wearied with square edged basons of marble, and jets
d'eaux, surrounded by water nymphs and dolphins, that I felt vast relief
from Lomellino's garden, who, like me,

    Tir'd with the joys parterres and fountains yield,
    Finds out at last he better likes a field.

Such felicity of situation I never saw till now, when one looks upon the
painted front of this gay mansion, commanding from its fine balcony a
rich and extensive view at once of the sea, the city, and the snow-topt
mountains; while from the windows on the other side the house, one's eye
sinks into groves of cedar, ilex, and orange trees, not apparently
cultivated with incessant care, or placed in pots, artfully sunk under
ground to conceal them from one's sight, but rising into height truly
respectable.

The sea air, except in particular places where the land lies in some
direction that counteracts its influence, is naturally inimical to
timber; though the green coasts of Devonshire are finely fringed with
wood; and here, at Lomellino's villa, in the Genoese state, I found two
plane trees, of a size and serious dignity, that recalled to my mind the
solemn oak before our duke of Dorset's seat at Knowle--and chesnuts,
which would not disgrace the forests of America. A rural theatre, cut in
turf, with a concealed orchestra and sod seats for the audience, with a
mossy stage, not incommodious neither, and an admirable contrivance for
shifting the scenes, and savouring the exits, entrances, &c. of the
performers, gave me a perfect idea of that refined luxury which hot
countries alone inspire--while another elegantly constructed spot, meant
and often used for the entertainment of tenants and dependants who come
to rejoice on the birth or wedding day of a kind landlord, make one
suppress one's sighs after a free country--at least suspend them; and
fill one's heart with tenderness towards men, who have skill to soften
authority with indulgence, and virtue to reward obedience with
protection.

A family coming last night to visit at a house where I had the honour
of being admitted as an intimate, gave me another proof of my present
state of remoteness from English manners. The party consisted of an old
nobleman, who could trace his genealogy unblemished up to one of the old
Roman emperors, but whose fortune is now in a hopeless state of
decay:--his lady, not inferior to himself in birth or haughtiness of air
and carriage, but much impaired by age, ill health, and pecuniary
distress; these had however no way lessened her ideas of her own
dignity, or the respect of her cavalier servente and her son, who waited
on her with an unremitted attention; presenting her their little dirty
tin snuff-boxes upon one knee by turns; which ceremony the less
surprised me, as having seen her train made of a dyed and watered
lutestring, borne gravely after her up stairs by a footman, the express
image of Edgar in the storm-scene of king Lear--who, as the fool says,
"_wisely reserv'd a blanket, else had we all been 'shamed_."

Our conversation was meagre, but serious. There was music; and the door
being left at jar, as we call it, I watched the wretched servant who
staid in the antichamber, and found that he was listening in spight of
sorrow and starving.

With this slight sketch of national manners I finish my chapter, and
proceed to the description of, or rather observations and reflections
made during a winter's residence at



MILAN.


For we did not stay at Pavia to see any thing: it rained so, that no
pleasure could have been obtained by the sight of a botanical garden;
and as to the university, I have the promise of seeing it upon a future
day, in company of some literary friends. Truth to tell, our weather is
suddenly become so wet, the roads so heavy with incessant rain, that
king William's departure from his own foggy country, or his welcome to
our gloomy one, where this month is melancholy even, to a proverb, could
not have been clouded with a thicker atmosphere surely, than was mine to
Milan upon the fourth day of dismal November, 1784.

Italians, by what I can observe, suffer their minds to be much under the
dominion of the sky; and attribute every change in their health, or even
humour, as seriously to its influence, as if there were no nearer causes
of alteration than the state of the air, and as if no doubt remained of
its immediate power, though they are willing enough here to poison it
with the scent of wood-ashes within doors, while fires in the grate seem
to run rather low, and a brazier full of that pernicious stuff is
substituted in its place, and driven under the table during dinner. It
is surprising how very elegant, not to say magnificent, those dinners
are in gentlemen's or noblemen's houses; such numbers of dishes at once;
not large joints, but infinite variety: and I think their cooking
excellent. Fashion keeps most of the fine people out of town yet; we
have therefore had leisure to establish our own household for the
winter, and have done so as commodiously as if our habitation was fixed
here for life. This I am delighted with, as one may chance to gain that
insight into every day behaviour, and common occurrences, which can
alone be called knowing something of a country: counting churches,
pictures, palaces, may be done by those who run from town to town, with
no impression made but on their bones. I ought to learn that which
before us lies in daily life, if proper use were made of my
demi-naturalization; yet impediments to knowledge spring up round the
very tree itself--for surely if there was much wrong, I would not tell
it of those who seem inclined to find all right in me; nor can I think
that a fame for minute observation, and skill to discern folly with a
microscopic eye, is in any wise able to compensate for the corrosions of
conscience, where such discoveries have been attained by breach of
confidence, and treachery towards unguarded, because unsuspecting
innocence of conduct. We are always laughing at one another for running
over none but the visible objects in every city, and for avoiding the
conversation of the natives, except on general subjects of
literature--returning home only to tell again what has already been
told. By the candid inhabitants of Italian states, however, much honour
is given to our British travellers, who, as they say, _viaggiono con
profitto_[Footnote: Travel for improvement], and scarce ever fail to
carry home with them from other nations, every thing which can benefit
or adorn their own. Candour, and a good humoured willingness to receive
and reciprocate pleasure, seems indeed one of the standing virtues of
Italy; I have as yet seen no fastidious contempt, or affected rejection
of any thing for being what we call _low_; and I have a notion there is
much less of those distinctions at Milan than at London, where birth
does so little for a man, that if he depends on _that_, and forbears
other methods of distinguishing himself from his footman, he will stand
a chance of being treated no better than him by the world. _Here_ a
person's rank is ascertained, and his society settled, at his immediate
entrance into life; a gentleman and lady will always be regarded as
such, let what will be their behaviour.--It is therefore highly
commendable when they seek to adorn their minds by culture, or pluck out
those weeds, which in hot countries will spring up among the riches of
the harvest, and afford a sure, but no immediately pleasing proof of the
soil's natural fertility. But my country-women would rather hear a
little of our _interieur_, or, as we call it, family management; which
appears arranged in a manner totally new to me; who find the lady of
every house as unacquainted with her own, and her husband's affairs, as
I who apply to her for information.--No house account, no weekly bills
perplex _her_ peace; if eight servants are kept, we will say, six of
these are men, and two of those men out of livery. The pay of these
principal figures in the family, when at the highest rate, is fifteen
pence English a day, out of which they find clothes and eating--for
fifteen pence includes board-wages; and most of these fellows are
married too, and have four or five children each. The dinners drest at
home are, for this reason, more exactly contrived than in England to
suit the number of guests, and there are always half a dozen; for dining
_alone_ or the master and mistress _tete-a-tete_ as _we_ do, is unknown
to them, who make society very easy, and resolve to live much together.
No odd sensation then, something like shame, such as _we_ feel when too
many dishes are taken empty from table, touches them at all; the common
courses are eleven, and eleven small plates, and it is their sport and
pleasure, if possible, to clear all away. A footman's wages is a
shilling a day, like our common labourers, and paid him, as they are
paid, every Saturday night. His livery, mean time, changed at least
_twice a year_, makes him as rich a man as the butler and valet--but
when evening comes, it is the comicallest sight in the world to see them
all go gravely home, and you may die in the night for want of help,
though surrounded by showy attendants all day. Till the hour of
departure, however, it is expected that two or three of them at least
sit in the antichamber, as it is called, to answer the bell, which, if
we confess the truth, is no light service or hardship; for the stairs,
high and wide as those of Windsor palace, all stone too, run up from the
door immediately to that apartment, which is very large, and very cold,
with bricks to set their feet on only, and a brazier filled with warm
wood ashes, to keep their fingers from freezing, which in summer they
employ with cards, and seem but little inclined to lay them down when
ladies pass through to the receiving room. The strange familiarity this
class of people think proper to assume, half joining in the
conversation, and crying _oibo_[Footnote: Oh dear!], when the master
affirms something they do not quite assent to, is apt to shock one at
beginning, the more when one reflects upon the equally offensive
humility they show on being first accepted into the family; when it is
exposed that they receive the new master, or lady's hand, in a half
kneeling posture, and kiss it, as women under the rank of Countess do
the Queen of England's when presented at our court.--This
obsequiousness, however, vanishes completely upon acquaintance, and the
footman, if not very seriously admonished indeed, yawns, spits, and
displays what one of our travel-writers emphatically terms his flag of
abomination behind the chair of a woman of quality, without the
slightest sensation of its impropriety. There is, however, a sort of odd
farcical drollery mingled with this grossness, which tends greatly to
disarm one's wrath; and I felt more inclined to laugh than be angry one
day, when, from the head of my own table, I saw the servant of a
nobleman who dined with us cramming some chicken pattes down his throat
behind the door; our own folks humorously trying to choak him, by
pretending that his lord called him, while his mouth was full. Of a
thousand comical things in the same way, I will relate one:--Mr.
Piozzi's valet was dressing my hair at Paris one morning, while some man
sate at an opposite window of the same inn, singing and playing upon the
violoncello: I had not observed the circumstance, but my perrucchiere's
distress was evident; he writhed and twisted about like a man pinched
with the cholic, and pulled a hundred queer faces: at last--What is the
matter, Ercolani, said I, are you not well? Mistress, replies the
fellow, if that beast don't leave off soon, I shall run mad with rage,
or else die; and so you'll see an honest Venetian lad killed by a French
dog's howling.

The phrase of _mistress_ is here not confined to servants at all;
gentlemen, when they address one, cry, _mia padrona_[Footnote: My
mistress], mighty sweetly, and in a peculiarly pleasing tone. Nothing,
to speak truth, can exceed the agreeableness of a well-bred Italian's
address when speaking to a lady, whom they alone know how to flatter,
so as to retain her dignity, and not lose their own; respectful, yet
tender; attentive, not officious; the politeness of a man of fashion
_here_ is _true_ politeness, free from all affectation, and honestly
expressive of what he really feels, a true value for the person spoken
to, without the smallest desire of shining himself; equally removed from
foppery on one side, or indifference on the other. The manners of the
men here are certainly pleasing to a very eminent degree, and in their
conversation there is a mixture, not unfrequent too, of classical
allusions, which strike one with a sort of literary pleasure I cannot
easily describe. Yet is there no pedantry in their use of expressions,
which with us would be laughable or liable to censure: but Roman notions
here are not quite extinct; and even the house-maid, or _donna di gros_,
as they call her, swears by _Diana_ so comically, there is no telling.
They christen their boys _Fabius_, their daughters _Claudia_, very
commonly. When they mention a thing known, as we say, to _Tom o'Styles
and John o'Nokes_, they use the words, _Tizio and Sempronio_. A lady
tells me, she was at a loss about the dance yesterday evening, because
she had not been instructed in the _programma_; and a gentleman,
talking of the pleasures he enjoyed supping last night at a friend's
house, exclaims, _Eramo pur jeri sera in Appolline[G]!_ alluding to
Lucullus's entertainment given to Pompey and Cicero, as I remember, in
the chamber of Apollo. But here is enough of this--more of it, in their
own pretty phrase, _seccarebbe pur Nettunno_[H]. It was long ago that
Ausonius said of them more than I can say, and Mr. Addison has
translated the lines in their praise better than I could have done.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote G: We passed yester evening as if we had been in the Apollo.]

[Footnote H: Would dry up old Neptune himself.]

    "Et Mediolani mira omnia copia rerum:
    Innumerae cultaeque domus facunda virorum
    Ingenia et mores laeti."

    Milan with plenty and with wealth overflows,
    And numerous streets and cleanly dwellings shows;
    The people, bless'd by Nature's happy force,
    Are eloquent and cheerful in discourse.

What I have said this moment will, however, account in some measure for
a thing which he treats with infinite contempt, not unjustly perhaps;
yet does it not deserve the ridicule handed down from his time by all
who have touched the subject. It is about the author, who before his
theatrical representation prefixes an odd declaration, that though he
names Pluto, and Neptune, and I know not who, upon the stage, yet he
believes none of those fables, but considers himself as a Christian, a
Catholick, &c. All this _does_ appear very absurdly superfluous to _us_;
but as I observed, _they_ live nearer the original feats of paganism;
many old customs are yet retained, and the names not lost among them, or
laid up merely for literary purposes as in England. They swear _per
Bacco_ perpetually in common discourse; and once I saw a gentleman in
the heat of conversation blush at the recollection that he had said
_barba Fove_, where he meant God Almighty.

It is likewise unkind enough in Mr. Addison, perhaps unjust too, to
speak with scorn of the libraries, or state of literature, at Milan. The
collection of books at Brera is prodigious, and has been lately much
increased by the Pertusanian and Firmian libraries falling into it: a
more magnificent repository for learning, a more comfortable situation
for students, so complete and perfect a disposition of the books, will
scarcely be found in any other city not professedly a university, I
believe; and here are professors worthy of the highest literary
stations, that do honour to learning herself. I will not indulge myself
by naming any one, where all deserve the highest praise; and it is so
difficult to restrain one's pen upon so favourite a subject, that I
shall only name some rarities which particularly struck me, and avoid
further temptations, where the sense of obligation, and the recollection
of partial kindness, inspire an inclination to praises which appear
tedious to those readers who could not enter into my feelings, and of
course would scarcely excuse them.

Thirteen volumes of MS. Psalms, written with wonderful elegance and
manual nicety, struck me as very curious: they were done by the
Certosini monks lately eradicated, and with beautiful illuminations to
almost every page. A Livy, printed here in 1418, fresh and perfect; and
a Pliny, of the Parma press, dated 1472; are extremely valuable. But the
pleasure I received from observing that the learned librarian had not
denied a place to Tillotson's works, was counteracted by finding
Bolingbroke's philosophy upon the same shelf, and enjoying exactly the
same reputation as to the truth of the doctrine contained in either; for
both were English, and of course _heretical_.

But I must not live longer at Milan without mentioning the Duomo, first
in all Europe of the Gothic race; whose solemn sadness and gloomy
dignity make it a most magnificent cathedral; while the rich treasures
it conceals below exceeded my belief or expectation.

We came here just before the season of commemorating the virtues of the
immortal Carlo Borromeo, to whose excellence all Italy bears testimony,
and Milan _most_; while the Lazaretto erected by him remains a standing
monument of his piety, charity, and peculiar regard to this city, which
he made his residence during the dreadful plague that so devasted it;
tenderly giving to its helpless inhabitants the consolation of seeing
their priest, provider, and protector, all united under one incomparable
character, who fearless of death remained among them, and comforted
their sorrows with his constant presence. It would be endless to
enumerate the schools, hospitals, infirmaries, erected by this
surprising man. The peculiar excellence of his lazaretto, however,
depends on each habitation being nicely separated from every other, so
as to keep infection aloof; while uniformity of architecture is still
preserved, being built in a regular quadrangle, with a chapel in the
middle, and a fresh stream flowing round, so as to benefit every
particular house, and keep out all necessity of connection between the
sick. I am become better acquainted with these matters, as this is the
precise time when the immortal Carlo Borromeo's actions are rehearsed,
and his praises celebrated, by people appointed in every church to
preach his example and record his excellence.

A statue of solid silver, large as life, and resembling, as they hope,
his person, decorated with rings, &c. of immense value, is now exposed
in church for people to venerate; and the subterranean chapel, where his
body lies, is all wainscoted, as I may say, with silver; every separate
compartment chased, like our old-fashioned watch-cases, with some story
out of his life, which lasted but forty-seven years, after having done
more good than any other person in ninety-four; as a capuchin friar said
this morning, who mounted the pulpit to praise him, and seemed to be
well thought on by his auditors. The chanting tone in which he spoke
displeased me, however, who can be at last no competent judge of
eloquence in any language but my own.

There is a national rhetoric in every country, dependant on national
manners; and those gesticulations of body, or depressions of voice,
which produce pity and commiseration in one place, may, without censure
of the orator or of his hearers, excite contempt and oscitancy in
another. The sentiments of the preacher I heard were just and vigorous;
and if that suffices not to content a foreign ear, woe be to me, who now
live among those to whom I am myself a foreigner; and who at best can
but be expected to forgive, for the sake of the things said, that accent
and manner with which I am obliged to express them.

By the indulgence of private friendship, I have now enjoyed the uncommon
amusement of seeing a theatrical exhibition performed by friars in a
convent for their own diversion, and that of some select friends. The
monks of St. Victor had, it seems, obtained permission, this carnival,
to represent a little odd sort of play, written by one of their
community chiefly in the Milanese dialect, though the upper characters
spoke Tuscan. The subject of this drama was taken, naturally enough,
from some events, real or fictitious, which were supposed to have
happened in, the environs of Milan, about a hundred years ago, when the
Torriani and Visconti families disputed for superiority. Its
construction was compounded of comic and distressful scenes, of which
the last gave me most delight; and much was I amazed, indeed, to feel my
cheeks wet with tears at a friar's play, founded on ideas of parental
tenderness. The comic part, however, was intolerably gross; the jokes
coarse, and incapable of diverting any but babies, or men who, by a kind
of intellectual privation, contrive to perpetuate babyhood, in the vain
hope of preferring innocence: nor could I shelter myself by saying how
little I understood of the dialect it was written in, as the action was
nothing less than equivocal; and in the burletta which was tacked to it
by way of farce, I saw the soprano fingers who played the women's parts,
and who see more of the world than these friars, blush for shame, two or
three times, while the company, most of them grave ecclesiastics,
applauded with rapturous delight.

The wearisome length of the whole would, however, have surfeited me, had
the amusement been more eligible; but these dear monks do not get a
holiday often, I trust; so in the manner of school-boys, or rather
school-girls in England (for our boys are soon above such stuff), they
were never tired of this dull buffoonery, and kept us listening to it
till one o'clock in the morning.

Pleasure, when it does come, always bursts up in an unexpected place; I
derived much from observing in the faces of these cheerful friars, that
intelligent shrewdness and arch penetration so visible in the
countenances of our Welch farmers, and curates of country villages in
Flintshire, Caernarvonshire, &c. which Howel (best judge in such a case)
observes in his Letters, and learnedly accounts for; but which I had
wholly forgotten till the monks of St. Victor brought it back to my
remembrance.

The brothers who remained unemployed, and clear from stage occupations,
formed the orchestra; those that were left _then_ without any immediate
business upon their hands, chatted gaily with the company, producing
plenty of refreshments; and I was really very angry with myself for
feeling so cynically disposed, when every thing possible was done to
please me. Can one help however sighing, to think that the monastic
life, so capable of being used for the noblest purposes, and originally
suggested by the purest motives, should, from the vast diversity of
orders, the increase of wealth and general corruption of mankind,
degenerate into a state either of mental apathy, as among the
sequestered monks, or of vicious luxury, as among the more free and open
societies?

Yet must one still behold both with regret and indignation, that rage
for innovation which delights to throw down places once the retreats of
Piety and Learning--Piety, who fought in vain to wall and fortify
herself against those seductions which since have sapped the venerable
fabric that they feared to batter; and Learning, who first opened the
eyes of men, that now ungratefully begin to turn them only on the
defeats of their benefactress.

The Christmas functions here were showy, and I thought well-contrived;
the public ones are what I speak of: but I was present lately at a
private merrymaking, where all distinctions seemed pleasingly thrown
down by a spirit of innocent gaiety. The Marquis's daughter mingled in
country-dances with the apothecary's prentice, while her truly noble
parents looked on with generous pleasure, and encouraged the mirth of
the moment. Priests, ladies, gentlemen of the very first quality, romped
with the girls of the house in high good-humour, and tripped it away
without the incumbrance of petty pride, or the mean vanity of giving
what they expressively call _foggezzione_, to those who were proud of
their company and protection. A new-married wench, whose little fortune
of a hundred crowns had been given her by the subscription of many in
the room, seemed as free with them all, as the most equal distribution
of birth or riches could have made her: she laughed aloud, and rattled
in the ears of the gentlemen; replied with sarcastic coarseness when
they joked her, and apparently delighted to promote such conversation as
they would not otherwise have tried at. The ladies shouted for joy,
encouraged the girl with less delicacy than desire of merriment, and
promoted a general banishment of decorum; though I do believe with full
as much or more purity of intention, than may be often met with in a
polished circle at Paris itself.

Such society, however, can please a stranger only as it is odd and as it
is new; when ceremony ceases, hilarity is left in a state too natural
not to offend people accustomed to scenes of high civilization; and I
suppose few of us could return, after twenty-five years old, to the
coarse comforts of _a roll and treacle._

Another style of amusement, very different from this last, called us
out, two or three days ago, to hear the famous Passione de Metastasio
sung in St. Celso's church. The building is spacious, the architecture
elegant, and the ornaments rich. A custom too was on this occasion
omitted, which I dislike exceedingly; that of deforming the beautiful
edifices dedicated to God's service with damask hangings and gold lace
on the capitals of all the pillars upon days of gala, so very
perversely, that the effect of proportion is lost to the eye, while the
church conveys no idea to the mind but of a tattered theatre; and when
the frippery decorations fade, nothing can exclude the recollection of
an old clothes shop. St. Celso was however left clear from these
disgraceful ornaments: there assembled together a numerous and
brilliant, if not an attentive audience; and St. Peter's part in the
oratorio was sung by a soprano voice, with no appearance of peculiar
propriety to be sure; but a satirical nobleman near me said, that
"Nothing could possibly be more happily imagined, as the mutilation of
poor St. Peter was continuing daily, and in full force;" alluding to the
Emperor's rough reformations: and he does not certainly spare the coat
any more than Jack in our Tale of a Tub, when he is rending away the
embroidery. Here, however, the parallel must end; for Jack, though
zealous, was never accused of burning the lace, if I remember right,
and putting the gold in his pocket. It happened oddly, that chatting
freely one day before dinner with some literary friends on the subject
of coat armour, we had talked about the Visconti serpent, which is the
arms of Milan; and the spread eagle of Austria, which we laughingly
agreed ought to _eat double _ because it had _two necks_: when the
conversation insensibly turned on the oppressions of the present hour;
and I, to put all away with a joke, proposed the _fortes Homericae_ to
decide on their future destiny. Somebody in company insisted that _I_
should open the book--I did so, at the omen in the twelfth book of the
Iliad, and read these words:

    Jove's bird on sounding pinions beat the skies;
    A bleeding serpent of enormous size
    His talons trussed; alive and curling round
    She stung the bird, whose throat receiv'd the wound.
    Mad with the smart he drops the fatal prey,
    In airy circles wings his painful way,
    Floats on the winds, and rends the heavens with cries:
    Amid the hosts the fallen serpent lies;
    They, pale with terror, mark its spires unroll'd,
    And Jove's portent with beating hearts behold.

It is now time to talk a little of the theatre; and surely a receptacle
so capacious to contain four thousand people, a place of entrance so
commodious to receive them, a show so princely, so very magnificent to
entertain them, must be sought in vain out of Italy. The centre front
box, richly adorned with gilding, arms, and trophies, is appropriated to
the court, whose canopy is carried up to what we call the first gallery
in England; the crescent of boxes ending with the stage, consist of
nineteen on a side, _small boudoirs_, for such they seem; and are as
such fitted up with silk hangings, girandoles, &c. and placed so
judiciously as to catch every sound of the fingers, if they do but
whisper: I will not say it is equally advantageous to the figure, as to
the voice; no performers looking adequate to the place they recite upon,
so very stately is the building itself, being all of stone, with an
immense portico, and stairs which for width you might without hyperbole
drive your chariot up. An immense sideboard at the first lobby, lighted
and furnished with luxurious and elegant plenty, as many people send for
suppers to their box, and entertain a knot of friends there with
infinite convenience and splendour. A silk curtain, the colour of your
hangings, defends the closet from intrusive eyes, if you think proper to
drop it; and when drawn up, gives gaiety and show to the general
appearance of the whole: while across the corridor leading to these
boxes, another small chamber, numbered like _that_ it belongs to, is
appropriated to the use of your servants, and furnished with every
conveniency to make chocolate, serve lemonade, &c.

Can one wonder at the contempt shewn by foreigners when they see English
women of fashion squeezed into holes lined with dirty torn red paper,
and the walls of it covered with a wretched crimson fluff? Well! but
this theatre is built in place of a church founded by the famous
Beatrice de Scala, in consequence of a vow she made to erect one if God
would be pleased to send her a son. The church was pulled down and the
playhouse erected. The Arch-duke lost a son that year; and the pious
folks cried, "A judgment!" but nobody minded them, I believe; many,
however, that are scrupulous will not go. Meantime it is a beautiful
theatre to be sure; the finest fabric raised in modern days, I do
believe, for the purposes of entertainment; but we must not be partial.
While London has twelve capital rooms for the professed amusement of the
Public, Milan has but one; there is in it, however, a ridotto chamber
for cards, of a noble size, where some little gaming goes on in carnival
time; but though the inhabitants complain of the enormities committed
there, I suppose more money is lost and won at one club in St. James's
street during a week, than here at Milan in the whole winter.

Every nation complains of the wickedness of its own inhabitants, and
considers them as the worst people in the world, till they have seen
others no better; and then, like individuals with their private sorrows,
they find change produces no alleviation. The Mount of Miseries, in the
Spectator, where all the people change with their neighbours, lay down
an undutiful son, and carry away with them a hump-back, or whatever had
been the source of disquiet to another, whom he had blamed for bearing
so ill a misfortune thought trifling till he took it on himself, is an
admirably well constructed fable, and is applicable to public as well
as private complaints.

A gentleman who had long practised as a solicitor, and was retired from
business, stored with a perfect knowledge of mankind so far as his
experience could inform him, told me once, that whoever died before
sixty years old, if he had made his own fortune, was likely to leave it
according as friendship, gratitude, and public spirit dictated: either
to those who had served, or those who had pleased him; or, not
unfrequently, to benefit some charity, set up some school, or the like:
"but let a man once turn sixty," said he, "and his natural heirs _are
sure of him_:" for having seen many people, he has likewise been
disgusted by many; and though he does not love his relations better than
he did, the discovery that others are but little superior to them in
those excellencies he has sought about the world in vain for, he begins
to enquire for his nephew's little boy, whom as he never saw, never
could have offended him; and if he does not break the chain of a
favourite watch, or any other such boyish trick, the estate is his for
ever, upon no principle but this in the testator.

So it is by those who travel a good deal; by what I have seen, every
country has so much in it to be justly complained of, that most men
finish by preferring their own.

That neither complaints nor rejoicings here at Milan, however, proceed
from affectation, is a choice comfort: the Lombards possess the skill to
please you without feigning; and so artless are their manners, you
cannot even suspect them of insincerity. They have, perhaps for that
very reason, few comedies, and fewer novels among them: for the worst of
every man's character is already well known to the rest; but be his
conduct what it will, the heart is commonly right enough--_il luon cuor
Lombardo_ is famed throughout all Italy, and nothing can become
proverbial without an excellent reason. Little opportunity is therefore
given to writers who carry the dark lanthorn of life into its deepest
recesses--unwind the hidden wickedness of a Maskwell or a Monkton,
develope the folds of vice, and spy out the internal worthlessness of
apparent virtue; which from these discerning eyes cannot be cloked even
by that early-taught affectation which renders it a real ingenuity to
discover, if in a highly polished capital a man or woman has or has not
good parts or principles--so completely are the first overlaid with
literature, and the last perverted by refinement.

       *       *       *       *       *

April 2, 1785.

The cold weather continues still, and we have heavy snows; but so
admirable is the police of this well-regulated town, that when
over-night it has fallen to the height of four feet, no very uncommon
occurrence, no one can see in the morning that even a flake has been
there, so completely do the poor and the prisoners rid us of it all, by
throwing immense loads of it into a navigable canal that runs quite
round the city, and carries every nuisance with it clearly away--so that
no inconveniencies can arise.

Italians seem to me to have no feeling of cold; they open the
casements--for windows we have none (now in winter), and cry, _che bel
freschetto_![Footnote: What a fresh breeze!] while I am starving
outright. If there is a flash of a few faggots in the chimney that just
scorches one a little, no lady goes near it, but sits at the other end
of a high-roofed room, the wind whistling round her ears, and her feet
upon a perforated brass box, filled with wood embers, which the
_cavalier fervente_ pulls out from time to time, and replenishes with
hotter ashes raked out from between the andirons. How sitting with these
fumes under their petticoats improves their beauty of complexion I know
not; certain it is, they pity _us_ exceedingly for our manner of
managing ourselves, and enquire of their countrymen who have lived here
a-while, how their health endured the burning _fossils_ in the chambers
at London. I have heard two or three Italians say, _vorrei anch' io
veder quell' Inghilterra, ma questo carbone fossile_![Footnote: I would
go see this same England myself I think, but that fuel made of minerals
frights me!] To church, however, and to the theatre, ladies have a great
green velvet bag carried for them, adorned with gold tassels, and lined
with fur, to keep their feet from freezing, as carpets are not in use
here. Poor women run about the streets with a little earthen pipkin
hanging on their arm, filled with fire, even if they are sent on an
errand; while men of all ranks walk wrapped up in an odd sort of white
riding coat, not buttoned together, but folded round their body after
the fashion of the old Roman dress that one has seen in statues, and
this they call _Gaban_, retaining many Spanish words since the time that
they were under Spanish government. _Buscar_, to seek, is quite familiar
here as at Madrid, and instead of Ragazzo, I have heard the Milanese say
_Mozzo_ di Stalla, which is originally a Castilian word I believe, and
spelt by them with the _c con cedilla_, Moco. They have likewise Latin
phrases oddly mingled among their own: a gentleman said yesterday, that
he was going to Casa _Sororis_, to his sister's; and the strange word
_Minga_, which meets one at every turn, is corrupted, I believe, from
_Mica_, a crumb. _Piaz minga_, I have not a crumb of pleasure in it, &c.

The uniformity of dress here pleases the eye, and their custom of going
veiled to church, and always without a hat, which they consider as
profanation of the _temple_ as they call it, delights me much; it has an
air of decency in the individuals, of general respect for the place, and
of a resolution not to let external images intrude on devout thoughts.
The hanging churches, and even public pillars, set up in the streets or
squares for purposes of adoration, with black, when any person of
consequence dies, displeases me more; it is so very dismal, so paltry a
piece of pride and expiring vanity, and so dirty a custom, calling bugs
and spiders, and all manner of vermin about one so in those black
trappings, it is terrible; but if they remind us of our end, and set us
about preparing for it, the benefit is greater than the evil.

The equipages on the Corso here are very numerous, in proportion to the
size of the city, and excessively showy: the horses are long-tailed,
heavy, and for the most part black, with high rising forehands, while
the sinking of the back is artfully concealed by the harness of red
Morocco leather richly ornamented, and white reins. To this magnificence
much is added by large leopard, panther, or tyger skins, beautifully
striped or spotted by Nature's hand, and held fast on the horses by
heavy shining tassels of gold, coloured lace, &c. wonderfully handsome;
while the driver, clothed in a bright scarlet dress, adorned and trimmed
with bear's skin, makes a noble figure on the box at this season upon
days of gala. The carnival, however, exhibits a variety unspeakable;
boats and barges painted of a thousand colours, drawn upon wheels, and
filled with masks and merry-makers, who throw sugar-plums at each other,
to the infinite delight of the town, whose populousness that show
evinces to perfection, for every window and balcony is crowded to
excess; the streets are fuller than one can express of gazers, and
general mirth and gaiety prevail. When the flashing season is over, and
you are no longer to be dazzled with finery or stunned with noise, the
nobility of Milan--for gentry there are none--fairly slip a check case
over the hammock, as we do to our best chairs in England, clap a coarse
leather cover on the carriage top, the coachman wearing a vast brown
great coat, which he spreads on each side him over the corners of his
coach-box, and looks as somebody was saying--like a sitting hen.

The paving of our streets here at Milan is worth mentioning, only
because it is directly contrary to the London method of performing the
same operation. They lay the large flag stones at this place in two
rows, for the coach wheels to roll smoothly over, leaving walkers to
accommodate themselves, and bear the sharp pebbles to their tread as
they may. In every thing great, and every thing little, the diversity of
government must perpetually occur; where that is despotic, small care
will be taken of the common people; where that is popular, little
attention will be paid to the great ones. I never in my whole life heard
so much of birth and family as since I came to this town; where blood
enjoys a thousand exclusive privileges, where Cavalier and Dama are
words of the first, nay of the only importance; where wit and beauty are
considered as useless without a long pedigree; and virtue, talents,
wealth, and wisdom, are thought on only as medals to hang upon the
branch of a genealogical tree, as we tie trinkets to a watch in England.

I went to church, twenty yards from our own door, with a servant to wait
on me, three or four mornings ago; there was a lady particularly well
dressed, very handsome, two footmen attending on her at a distance, took
my attention. Peter, said I, to my own man, as we came out, _chi e
quella dama? who is that lady? Non e dama_, replies the fellow,
contemptuously smiling at my simplicity--_she is no lady_. I thought
she might be somebody's kept mistress, and asked him whose? _Dio ne
liberi_, returns Peter, in a kinder accent--for there _heart_ came in,
and he would not injure her character--God forbid: _e moglie d'un ricco
banchiere_--she is a rich banker's wife. You may see, added he, that she
is no lady if you look--the servants carry no velvet stool for her to
kneel upon, and they have no coat armour in the lace to their liveries:
_she_ a lady! repeated he again with infinite contempt.

I am told that the Arch-duke is very desirous to close this breach of
distinction, and to draw merchants and traders with their wives up into
higher notice than they were wont to remain in. I do not _think_ he will
by that means conciliate the affection of any rank. The prejudices in
favour of nobility are too strong to be shaken here, much less rooted
out so: the very servants would rather starve in the house of a man of
family, than eat after a person of inferior quality, whom they consider
as their equal, and almost treat him as such to his face. Shall we then
be able to refuse our particular veneration to those characters of high
rank here, who add the charm of a cultivated mind to that situation
which, united even with ignorance, would ensure them respect? When
scholarship is found among the great in Italy, it has the additional
merit of having grown up in their own bosoms, without encouragement from
emulation, or the least interested motive. His companions do not think
much the more of him--for _that_ kind of superiority. I suppose, says a
friend of his, he must be fond of study; for _chi pensa di una maniera,
chi pensa d' un altra, per me sono stato sempre ignorantissimo_[I].

[Footnote I: One man is of one mind, another of another: I was always a
sheer dunce for my own part.]

These voluntary confessions of many a quality, which, whether possessed
or not by English people, would certainly never be avowed, spring from
that native sincerity I have been praising--for though family
connections are prized so highly here, no man seems ashamed that he has
no family to boast: all feigning would indeed be useless and
impracticable; yet it struck me with astonishment too, to hear a
well-bred clergyman who visits at many genteel houses, say gravely to
his friend, no longer ago than yesterday--that friend a man too eminent
both for talents and fortune--"Yes, there is a grand invitation at such
a place to-night, but I don't go, because _I am not a gentleman--perche
non sono cavaliere_; and the master desired I would let you know that
_it was for no other reason_ that you had not a card too, my good
friend; for it is an invitation of none but _people of fashion you
see_." At all this nobody stares, nobody laughs, and nobody's throat is
cut in consequence of their sincere declarations.

The women are not behind-hand in openness of confidence and comical
sincerity. We have all heard much of Italian cicisbeism; I had a mind to
know how matters really stood; and took the nearest way to information
by asking a mighty beautiful and apparently artless young creature, _not
noble_, how that affair was managed, for there is no harm done _I am
sure_, said I: "Why no," replied she, "no great _harm_ to be sure:
except wearisome attentions from a man one cares little about: for my
own part," continued she, "I detest the custom, as I happen to love my
husband excessively, and desire nobody's company in the world but his.
We are not _people of fashion_ though you know, nor at all rich; so how
should we set fashions for our betters? They would only say, see how
jealous he is! if _Mr. Such-a-one_ sat much with me at home, or went
with me to the Corso; and I _must_ go with some gentleman you know: and
the men are such ungenerous creatures, and have such ways with them: I
want money often, and this _cavaliere servente_ pays the bills, and so
the connection draws closer--_that's all_." And your husband! said
I--"Oh, why he likes to see me well dressed; he is very good natured,
and very charming; I love him to my heart." And your confessor! cried
I.--"Oh, why he is _used to it_"--in the Milanese dialect--_e assuefaa_.

Well! we will not send people to Milan to study delicacy or very refined
morality to be sure; but were the crust of British affectation lifted
off many a character at home, I know not whether better, that is
_honester_, hearts would be found under it than that of this pretty
girl, God forbid that I should prove an advocate for vice; but let us
remember, that the banishment of all hypocrisy and deceit is a vast
compensation for the want of _one great virtue_.--The certainty that
the worst, whatever that worst may be, meets your immediate inspection,
gives great repose to the mind: you know there is no latent poison
lurking out of sight; no colours to come out stronger by throwing water
suddenly against them, as you do to old fresco paintings: and talking
freely with women in this country, though you may have a chance to light
on ignorance, you are never teized by folly.

The mind of an Italian, whether man or woman, seldom fails, for ought I
see, to make up in _extent_ what is wanted in _cultivation_; and that
they possess the art of pleasing in an eminent degree, the constancy
with which they are mutually beloved by each other is the best proof.

Ladies of distinction bring with them when they marry, besides fortune,
as many clothes as will last them seven years; for fashions do not
change here as often as at London or Paris; yet is pin-money allowed,
and an attention paid to the wife that no Englishwoman can form an idea
of: in every family her duties are few; for, as I have observed,
household management falls to the master's share of course, when all
the servants are men almost, and those all paid by the week or day.
Children are very seldom seen by those who visit great houses: if they
_do_ come down for five minutes after dinner, the parents are talked of
as _doting_ on them, and nothing can equal the pious and tender return
made to fathers and mothers in this country, for even an apparently
moderate share of fondness shewn to them in a state of infancy. I saw an
old Marchioness the other day, who had I believe been exquisitely
beautiful, lying in bed in a spacious apartment, just like ours in the
old palaces, with the tester touching the top almost: she had her three
grown-up sons standing round her, with an affectionate desire of
pleasing, and shewing her whatever could sooth or amuse her--so that it
charmed me; and I was told, and observed indeed, that when they quitted
her presence a half kneeling bow, and a kind kiss of her still white
hand, was the ceremony used. I knew myself brought thither only that she
might be entertained with the sight of the foreigner--and was equally
struck at her appearance--more so I should imagine than she could be at
mine; when these dear men assisted in moving her pillows with emulative
attention, and rejoiced with each other apart, that their mother looked
so well to-day. Two or three servants out of livery brought us
refreshments I remember; but her maid attended in the antichamber, and
answered the bell at her bed's head, which was exceedingly magnificent
in the old style of grandeur--crimson damask, if I recollect right, with
family arms at the back; and she lay on nine or eleven pillows, laced
with ribbon, and two large bows to each, very elegant and expensive in
any country:--with all this, to prove that the Italians have little
sensation of cold, here was no fire, but a suffocating brazier, which
stood near the door that opened, and was kept open, into the maid's
apartment.

A woman here in every stage of life has really a degree of attention
shewn her that is surprising:--if conjugal disputes arise in a family,
so as to make them become what we call town-talk, the public voice is
sure to run against the husband; if separation ensues, all possible
countenance is given to the wife, while the gentleman is somewhat less
willingly received; and all the stories of past disgusts are related to
_his_ prejudice: nor will the lady whom he wishes to serve look very
kindly on a man who treats his own wife with unpoliteness. _Che cuore
deve avere!_ says she: What a heart he must have! _Io non mene fido
sicuro_: I shall take care not to trust him sure.

National character is a great matter: I did not know there had been such
a difference in the ways of thinking, merely from custom and climate, as
I see there is; though one has always read of it: it was however
entertaining enough to hear a travelled gentleman haranguing away three
nights ago at our house in praise of English cleanliness, and telling
his auditors how all the men in London, _that were noble_, put on a
clean shirt every day, and the women washed the street before his
house-door every morning. "_Che schiavitu mai!_" exclaimed a lady of
quality, who was listening: "_ma natural mente fara per commando del
principe_."--"_What a land of slavery!_" says Donna Louisa, I heard her;
"_but it is all done by command of the sovereign, I suppose_."

Their ideas of justice are no less singular than of delicacy: but those
are more easily accounted for; so is their amiable carriage towards
inferiors, calling their own and their friends servants by tender names,
and speaking to all below themselves with a graciousness not often used
by English men or women even to their equals. The pleasure too which the
high people here express when the low ones are diverted, is
charming.--We think it vulgar to be merry when the mob is so; but if
rolling down a hill, like Greenwich, was the custom here, as with us,
all Milan would run to see the sport, and rejoice in the felicity of
their fellow-creatures. When I express my admiration of such
condescending sweetness, they reply--_e un uomo come un altro;--e
battezzato come noi_; and the like--Why he is a man of the same nature
as we: he has been christened as well as ourselves, they reply. Yet do I
not for this reason condemn the English as naturally haughty above their
continental neighbours. Our government has left so narrow a space
between the upper and under ranks of people in Great Britain--while our
charitable and truly Christian religion is still so constantly employed
in raising the depressed, by giving them means of changing their
situation, that if our persons of condition fail even for a moment to
watch their post, maintaining by dignity what they or their fathers have
acquired by merit, they are instantly and suddenly broken in upon by the
well-employed talents, or swiftly-acquired riches, of men born on the
other side the thin partition; whilst in Italy the gulph is totally
impassable, and birth alone can entitle man or woman to the society of
gentlemen and ladies. This firmly-fixed idea of subordination (which I
once heard a Venetian say, he believed must exist in heaven from one
angel to another) accounts immediately for a little conversation which I
am now going to relate.

Here were two men taken up last week, one for murdering his
fellow-servant in cold blood, while the undefended creature had the
lemonade tray in his hand going in to serve company; the other for
breaking the new lamps lately set up with intention to light this town
in the manner of the streets at Paris. "I hope," said I, "that they will
hang the murderer." "I rather hope," replied a very sensible lady who
sate near me, "that they will hang the person who broke the lamps: for,"
added she, "the first committed his crime only out of revenge, poor
fellow! because the other had got his mistress from him by treachery;
but this creature has had the impudence to break our fine new lamps, all
for the sake of spiting _the Arch-duke_." The Arch-duke meantime hangs
nobody at all; but sets his prisoners to work upon the roads, public
buildings, &c. where they labour in their chains; and where, strange to
tell! they often insult passengers who refuse them alms when asked as
they go by; and, stranger still! they are not punished for it when they
do.

Here is certainly much despotic power in Italy, but, I fancy, very
little oppression; perhaps authority, once acknowledged, does not
delight itself always by the fatigue of exertion. _Sat est prostrasse
leoni_ is an old adage, with which perhaps I may be the better
acquainted, as it is the motto to my own coat of arms; and unless
sovereignty is hungry, for ought I see, he does not certainly _devour_.

The certainty of their irrevocable doom, softened by kind usage from
their superiors, makes, in the mean time, an odd sort of humorous
drollery spring up among the common people, who are much happier here at
Milan than I expected to find them: every great house giving meat,
broth, &c. to poor dependents with liberal good-nature enough, so that
mighty little wandering misery is seen in the streets; unlike those of
Genoa, who seem mocked with the word _liberty_, while sorrow, sickness,
and the most pinching want, pine at the doors of marble palaces, whose
owners are unfeeling as their walls.

Our ordinary people here in Lombardy are well clothed, fat, stout, and
merry; and desirous to divert themselves, and their protectors, whom
they love at their hearts. There is however a degree of effrontery among
the women that amazes me, and of which I had no idea, till a friend
shewed me one evening from my own box at the opera, fifty or a hundred
low shop-keepers wives, dispersed about the pit at the theatre, dressed
in men's clothes, _per disimpegno_ as they call it; that they might be
more _at liberty_ forsooth to clap and hiss, and quarrel and jostle,
&c. I felt shocked. "_One who comes from a free government need not
wonder so_," said he: "On the contrary, Sir," replied I, "where every
body has hopes, at least possibility, of bettering his station, and
advancing nearer to the limits of upper life, none except the most
abandoned of their species will wholly lose sight of such decorous
conduct as alone can grace them when they have reached their wish:
whereas your people know their destiny, future as well as present, and
think no more of deserving a higher post, than they think of obtaining
it." Let me add, however, that if these women _were_ a little riotous
during the Easter holidays, they are _dilletantes_ only. In this city no
female _professors_ of immorality and open libertinage, disgraceful at
once, and pernicious to society, are permitted to range the streets in
quest of prey; to the horror of all thinking people, and the ruin of all
heedless ones.

With which observation, to continue the tour of Italy, we this day
leave, for a twelvemonth at least, Milano il grande, after having spent,
though not quite finished the winter in it; as there fell a very heavy
snow last Saturday, which hindered our setting out a week ago, though
this is the sixth of April; and exactly five months have now since last
November been passed among those who have I hope approved our conduct
and esteemed our manners. That they should trouble themselves to examine
our income, report our phrases, and listen, perhaps with some little
mixture of envy, after every instance of unshakable attachment shewn to
each other, would be less pleasing; but that I verily believe they have
at last dismissed us with general good wishes, proceeding from innate
goodness of heart, and the hope of seeing again, in a year's time or so,
two people who have supplied so many tables here with materials for
conversation, when the fountain of talk was stopt by deficiencies, and
the little stream of prattle ceased to murmur for want of a few pebbles
to break its course.

We are going to Venice by the way of Cremona, and hope for amusement
from external objects: let us at least not deserve or invite
disappointment by seeking for pleasure beyond the limits of innocence.



FROM MILAN TO PADUA.


The first evening's drive carried us no farther than Lodi, a place
renowned through all Europe for its excellent cheese, as out well-known
ballad bears testimony:

    Let Lodi or Parmesan bring up the rear.

Those verses were imitated, I fancy, from a French song written by
Monsieur des Yveteaux, of whose extraordinary life and death much has
been said by his cotemporary wits, particularly how some of them found
him playing at shepherd and shepherdess in his own garden with a pretty
Savoyard wench, at seventy-eight years old, _en habit de berger, avec un
chapeau couleur de rose_[Footnote: In a pastoral habit, and a hat turned
up with pink], &c. when he shewed them the famous lines, _Avoir peu de
parens, moins de train que de rente_, &c. which do certainly bear a very
near affinity to our Old Man's Wish, published in Dryden's
Miscellanies; who, among other luxuries, resolves to eat Lodi cheese, I
remember.

The town, however, bringing no other ideas either new or old to our
minds, we went to the opera, and heard Morichelli sing: after which they
gave us a new dramatic dance, made upon the story of Don John, or the
Libertine; a tale which, whether true or false, fact or fable, has
furnished every Christian country in the world, I believe, with some
subject of representation. It makes me no sport, however; the idea of an
impenitent sinner going to hell is too seriously terrifying to make
amusement out of. Let mythology, which is now grown good for little
else, be danced upon the stage; where Mr. Vestris may bounce and
struggle in the character of Alcides on his funeral pile, with no very
glaring impropriety; and such baubles serve beside to keep old classical
stories in the heads of our young people; who, if they _must_ have
torches to blaze in their eyes, may divert themselves with Pluto
catching up Ceres's daughter, and driving her away to Tartarus; but let
Don John alone. I have at least _half a notion_ that the horrible
history is _half true_; if so, it is surely very gross to represent it
by dancing. Should such false foolish taste prevail in England (but I
hope it will not), we might perhaps go happily through the whole book of
God's Revenge against Murder, or the Annals of Newgate, on the stage, as
a variety of pretty stories may be found there of the same cast; while
statues of Hercules and Minerva, with their insignia as heathen deities,
might be placed, with equal attention to religion, costume, and general
fitness, as decorations for the monuments of _Westminster Abbey_.

The country we came through to Cremona is rich and fertile, the roads
deep and miry of course; very few of the Lombardy poplars, of which I
expected to see so many: but Phaeton's sisters seem to have danced all
away from the odoriferous banks of the Po, to the green sides of the
Thames, I think; meantime here is no other timber in the country but a
few straggling ash, and willows without end. The old Eridanus, however,
makes a majestic figure at Cremona, and frights the inhabitants when it
overflows. There are not many to be frighted though, for the town is
thinly peopled; but exquisitely clean, perhaps for that very reason;
and the cathedral, of a mixed Grecian and Gothic architecture, has a
respectable appearance; while two enormous lions, of red marble, frown
at its door, and the crucifixion, painted by Pordenone, with a rough but
powerful pencil, strikes one at the entrance: I have seen nothing finer
than the figure of the Centurion upon the fore-ground, who seems to cry
out, with soldier-like courage and apostolic fervour, Truly this is the
Son of God.

The great clock here too is very curious: having, besides the
twenty-four hours, a minute and second finger, like a stop watch, and
shews the phases of the moon, with her triple rotation clearly to all
who walk across the piazza. Yet I trust the dwellers at Cremona are no
better astronomers than those who live in other places; to what purpose
then all these representations with which Italy is crowded; processions,
paintings, &c. besides the moral dances, as they call them now? One word
of solid instruction to the ear, conveys more knowledge to the mind at
last, than all these marionettes presented to the eye.

The tower of Cremona is of a surprising height and elegant form; we
climbed, not without some difficulty, to its top, and saw the flat
plains of Lombardy stretched out all round us. Prospects, however, and
high towers have I seen; that in Mr. Hoare's grounds, dedicated to King
Alfred, is a much finer structure than this, and the view from it much
more variegated certainly; I think of greater extent; though there is
more dignity in these objects, while the Po twists through them, and
distant mountains mingle with the sky at the end of a lengthened
horizon.

What I have never seen till now, we were made to observe in the octagon
gallery which crowns this pretty structure, where in every compartment
there are channels cut in the stone to guide the eye or rest the
telescope, that so a spectator need not be fruitlessly teized, as one
almost always is, by those who shew one a prospect, with _Look there!
See there!_ &c. At this place nothing needs be done but lay the glass or
put the eye even with the lines which point to Bergamo, Mantua, or where
you please; and _look there_ becomes superfluous as offensive.

The bells in the tower amused us in another way: an old man who has the
care of them, delighted much in telling us how he rung tunes upon them
before the Duke of Parma, who presented him with money, and bid him ring
again: and not a little was the good man amazed, when one of our company
sate down and played on them himself: a thing he had never before been
witness to, he said, except once, when a surprising musician arrived
from England, and performed the like seat: by his description of the
person, and the time of his passing through Cremona, we conjectured he
meant Dr. Burney.

The most dreadful of all roads carried us next morning to Mantua, where
we had letters for an agreeable friend, who neglected nothing that could
entertain or instruct us. He shewed me the field where it is supposed
the house stood in which Virgil was born, and told me what he knew of
the evidence that he was born there: certain it is that much care is
taken to keep the place fenced, from an idea of its being the identical
spot, and I hope it is so.

The theatres here are beautiful beyond all telling: it is a shame not to
take the model of the small one, and build a place of entertainment on
the plan. There cannot surely be any plan more elegant.

We had a concert of admirable music at the house of our new
acquaintance, in the evening, and were introduced by his means to many
people of fashion; the ladies were pretty, and dressed with much taste;
no caps at all, but flowers in their heads, and earrings of silver
fillagree finely worked; long, light, and thin: I never saw such before,
but it would be an exceeding pretty fashion. They hung down quite low
upon the neck and shoulders, and had a pleasing effect.

Mantua stands in the middle of a deep swampy marsh, that sends up a
thick foggy vapour all winter, a stench intolerable during the summer
months. Its inhabitants lament the want of population; and indeed I
counted but five carriages in the streets while we remained in the town.
Seven thousand Jews occupy a third part of the city, founded by old
Tiresias's daughter, where they have a synagogue, and live after their
own fashion. The dialect here is closer to that Italian which foreigners
learn, and the ladies speak more Tuscan, I think, than at Milan, but it
is a _lady's_ town as I told them.

    "Ille etiam patriis agmen ciet Ocnus ab oris
    Fatidicae _Mantus_ et Tusci filius amnis,
    Qui muros matrisque dedit tibi. _Mantua_ nomen."

    Ocnus was next, who led his native train
    Of hardy warriors thro' the wat'ry plain,
    The son of Manto by the Tuscan stream,
    From whence the _Mantuan_ town derives its name.

    DRYDEN.

The annual fair is what contributes most to keeping their folks alive
though, for such are the roads it is scarce possible any strangers
should come near them, and our people complain that the inns are very
extortionate: here is one building, however, that promises wonders from
its prodigious size and magnificence; I only wonder such accommodation
should be thought necessary.

The gentleman who shewed us the Ducal palace, seemed himself much struck
with its convenience and splendour; but I had seen Versailles, Turin,
and Genoa. What can be seen here, and here alone, are the numerous and
incomparable works of Giulio Romano; of which no words that I can use
would give my readers any adequate idea.--For such excellence language
has no praise, and of such performances taste will admit no criticism.
The giants could scarcely have been more amazed at Jupiter's thunder,
than I was at their painted fall. If Rome is to exhibit any thing beyond
this, I shall really be more dazzled than delighted; for imagination
will stretch no further, and admiration will endure no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sunday, April 10.

Here is no appearance of spring yet, though so late in the year; what
must it be in England? One almond and one plum tree have I seen in
blossom; but no green leaf out of the bud: so cheerless has been the
road between Mantua and Verona, which, however, makes amends for all on
our arrival. How beautiful the entrance is of this charming city, how
grand the gate, how handsome the drive forward, may all be read here in
a printed book called _Verona illustrata_: but my felicity in finding
the amphitheatre so well preserved, can only be found in my own heart,
which began sensibly to dilate at the seeing an old Roman colisseum kept
so nicely, and repaired so well. It is said that the arena here is
absolutely perfect; and if the galleries are a little deficient, there
can be no dispute concerning the _podium_, or lower seats, which remain
exactly as they were in old times: while I have heard that the building
of the same kind now existing at Nismes, shews the manner of entering
exceeding well; and the great one built by Vespasian has every thing
else: so that an exact idea of the old Circus may be obtained among them
all. That something should always be left to conjecture, is however not
unpleasing; various opinions animate the arguments on both sides, and
bring out fire by collision with the understanding of others engaged in
the same researches.

A bull-feast given here to divert the Emperor as he passed through, must
have excited many pleasing sensations, while the inhabitants sate on
seats once occupied by the masters of the world; and what is more worth
wonder, fate at the feet of a Transalpine _Caesar_, for so the sovereign
of Germany is even now called by his Milanese subjects in common
discourse; and when one looks upon the arms of Austria, a spread eagle,
and recollects that when the Roman empire was divided, the old eagle was
split, one face looking toward the East, the other toward the West, in
token of shared possession, it affects one; and calls up classic imagery
to the mind.

The collection of antiquities belonging to the Philharmonic society is
very respectable; they reminded me of the Arundel marbles at Oxford, and
I said so. "_Oh!_" replied the man who shewed these, "_that collection
was very valuable to be sure, but the bad air, and the smoke of coal
fires in England, have ruined them long ago_." I suspected that my
gentleman talked by rote, and examining the book called _Verona
illustrata_, found the remark there; but that is _malasede_, and a very
ridiculous prejudice. I will confess however, if they please, that our
original treaty between Mardonius and the Persian army, at the end of
which the Greek general Aristides, although himself a Sabian, attested
the fun as witness, in compliance with their religion who worshipped
that luminary, at least held it in the highest veneration, as the
residence of Oromasdes the good Principle, who was considered by the
Magians as for ever clothed with light: I will consider _that_, I say,
if they insist upon it, as a marble of less consequence than the last
will and testament of an old inhabitant of Sparta which is shewn at
Verona, and which _they say_ disposes of the iron money used during the
first of many years that the laws of Lycurgus lasted.

Here is a very fine palace belonging to the Bevi-l'acqua family, besides
the Casa Verzi, as famous for its elegant Doric architecture, as the
charming mistress of it for her Attic wit.

St. Zeno is the church which struck me most: the eternal and all-seeing
eye placed over the door; Fortune's wheel too, composed of six figures
curiously disposed, and not unlike our man alphabet, two mounting, two
sitting, and two tumbling, over against it: on the outside of the wheel
this distich,

    En ego Fortuna moderor mortalibus usum,
    Elevo, depono, bona cunctis vel mala dono[J]--

this other on the inside of the wheel, less plainly to be read:

    Induo nudatos, denudo veste paratos,
    In me confidit, si quis derisus abibit[K].

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote J:
    Here I Madam Fortune my favours bestow,
    Some good and some ill to the high and the low.
]

[Footnote K:
    The naked I clothe, and the pompous I strip;
    If in me you confide, I may give you the slip.
]

This is a town full of beauties, wits, and rarities: numberless persons
of the first eminence have always adorned it, and the present
inhabitants have no mind to degenerate; while the Nobleman that is
immediately descended from that house which Giambattista della Torre
made famous for his skill in astronomy, employs himself in a much more
useful, if not a nobler study; and is completing for the press a new
system of education. It was very petulantly, and very spitefully said by
Voltaire, that Italy was now no more than _la boutique_[Footnote: The
old clothes shop.], and the Italians, _les merchands fripiers de
l'Europe_[Footnote: The slop-sellers of Europe]. The Greek remains here
have still an air of youthful elegance about them, which strikes one
very forcibly where so good opportunity offers of comparing them with
the fabrics formed by their destructive successors, the Goths; who have
left some fine old black-looking monuments (which look as if they had
stood in our _coal smoke_ for centuries) to the memory of the Scaligers;
and surely the great critic of that name could not have taken a more
certain method of proving his descent from these his barbarous
ancestors, than that which his relationship to them naturally, I
suppose, inspired him with--the avowed preference of birth to talents,
of long-drawn genealogy to hardly-acquired literature. We will however
grow less prejudiced ourselves; and since there are still whole nations
of people existing, who consider the counting up many generations back
as a felicity not to be exchanged for any other without manifest loss,
we may possibly reconcile the opinion to common sense, by reflecting
that one preconception of the sovereign good is, that it should
certainly be _indeprivable_ and except birth, what is there earthly
after all that may not drop, or else be torn from its possessor by
accident, folly, force, or malice?

James Harris says, that virtue answers to the character of
indeprivability, but one is left only to wish that his position were
true; the continuance of virtue depends on the continuance of reason,
from which a blow on the head, a sudden fit of terror, or twenty other
accidents may separate us in a moment. Nothing can make us not one's
father's child however, and the advantages of _blood_, such as they are,
may surely be deemed _indeprivable_.

Gothic and Grecian architecture resembles Gothic and Grecian manners,
which naturally do give their colour to such arts as are naturally the
result of them. Tyranny and gloomy suspicion are the characteristics of
the one, openness and sociability strongly mark the other--when to the
gay portico succeeded the sullen drawbridge, and to the lively corridor,
a secret passage and a winding staircase.

It is difficult, if not impossible however, to withhold one's respect
from those barbarians who could thus change the face of art, almost of
nature; who could overwhelm courage and counteract learning; who not
only devoured the works of wisdom and the labours of strength, but left
behind them too a settled system of feudatorial life and aristocratic
power, still undestroyed in Europe, though hourly attacked, battered by
commerce, and sapped by civilization.

When Smeathman told us about twelve years ago, how an immense body of
African ants, which appeared, as they moved forwards, like the whole
earth in agitation--covered and suddenly arrested a solemn elephant, as
he grazed unsuspiciously on the plain; he told us too that in eight
hours time no trace was left either of the devasters or devasted,
excepting the skeleton of the noble creature neatly picked; a standing
proof of the power of numbers against single force.

These northern emigrants the Goths, however, have done more; they have
fixed a mode of carrying on human affairs, that I think will never be so
far exterminated as to leave no vestiges behind: and even while one
contemplates the mischief they have made--even while one's pen engraves
one's indignation at their success; the old baron in his castle,
preceded and surrounded by loyal dependants, who desired only to live
under his protection and die in his defence, inspires a notion of
dignity unattainable by those who, seeking the beautiful, are by so far
removed from the sublime of life, and affords to the mind momentary
images of surly magnificence, ill exchanged perhaps by _fancy_, though
_truth_ has happily substituted a succession of soft ideas and social
comforts: knowledge, virtue, riches, happiness. Let it be remembered
however, that if the theme is superior to the song, we always find those
poets who live in the second class, celebrating the days past by those
who had their existence in the first. These reflections are forced upon
me by the view of Lombard manners, and the accounts I daily pick up
concerning the Brescian and Bergamase nobility; who still exert the
Gothic power of protecting murderers who profess themselves their
vassals; and who still exercise those virtues and vices natural to man
in his semi-barbarous state: fervent devotion, constant love, heroic
friendship, on the one part; gross superstition, indulgence of brutal
appetite, and diabolical revenge, on the other.

In all hot countries, however, flowers and weeds shoot up to enormous
growth: in colder climes, where poison can scarce be feared, perfumes
can seldom be boasted.

Verona is the gayest looking town I ever lived in; beautifully
situated, the hills around it elegant, the mountains at a distance
venerable: the silver Adige rolling through the Valley, while such a
glow of blossoms now ornament the rising grounds, and such cheerfulness
smiles in the sweet countenances of its inhabitants, that one is tempted
to think it the birth-place of Euphrosyne, where

    Zephyr with Aurora playing,
    As he met her once a maying, &c.
    Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
    So buxom, blythe, and debonair--

as Milton says. Here are vines, mulberries, olives; of course, wine,
silk, and oil: every thing that can seduce, every thing that ought to
satisfy desiring man. Here then in consequence do actually delight to
reside mirth and good-humour in their holiday dress. _A verona mezzi
matti_[Footnote: The people at Verona are half out of their wits], say
the Italians themselves of them, and I see nothing seemingly go forward
here but Improvisatori, reciting stories or verses to entertain the
populace; boys flying kites, cut square like a diamond on the cards, and
called Stelle; men amusing themselves at a game called Pallamajo,
something like our cricket, only that they throw the ball with a hollow
stick, not with the hand, but it requires no small corporal strength;
and I know not why our English people have such a notion of Italian
effeminacy: games of very strong exertion are in use among them; and I
have not yet felt one hot day since I left France.

They shewed us an agreeable garden here belonging to some man of
fashion, whose name I know not; it was cut in a rock, yet the grotto
disappointed me: they had not taken such advantages of the situation as
Lomellino would have done, and I recollected the tasteful creations in
my own country, _Pains Hill_ and _Stour Head_.

The Veronese nobleman shewed however the spirit of _his_ country, if we
let loose the genius of _ours_. The emperor had visited his improvements
it seems, and on the spot where he kissed the children of the house,
their father set up a stone to record the honour.

Our attendant related a tender story to _me_ more interesting, which
happened in this garden, of an English gentleman, who having hired the
house, &c. one season, found his favourite servant ill there, and like
to die: the poor creature expressed his concern at the intolerant
cruelty of that fact which denies Christians of any other denomination
but their own a place in consecrated ground, and lamented his distance
from home with an anxious earnestness that hastened his end: when the
humanity of his master sent him to the landlord, who kindly gave
permission that he might lie undisturbed under his turf, as one places
one's lap-dog in England; and _there_, as our Laquais de place observed,
_he did no harm_, though _he was a heretic_; and the English gentleman
wept over his grave.

I never saw cypress trees of such a growth as in this spot--but then
there are no other trees; _inter viburna cypressi_ came of course into
one's head: and this noble plant, rich in foliage, and bright, not dusky
in colour, looked from its manner of growing like a vast evergreen
poplar.

Our equipages here are strangely inferior to those we left behind at
Milan. Oil is burned in the conversation rooms too, and smells very
offensively--but they _lament our suffocation in England, and black
smoke_, while what proceeds from these lamps would ruin the finest
furniture in the world before five weeks were expired; I saw no such
used at Turin, Genoa, or Milan.

The horses here are not equal to those I have admired on the Corso at
other great towns; but it is pleasing to observe the contrast between
the high bred, airy, elegant English hunter, and the majestic, docile,
and well-broken war horse of Lombardy. Shall we fancy there is Gothic
and Grecian to be found even among the animals? or is not that _too_
fanciful?

That every thing useful, and every thing ornamental, first revived in
Italy, is well known; but I was never aware till now, though we talk of
Italian book-keeping, that the little cant words employed in
compting-houses, took their original from the Lombard language, unless
perhaps that of Ditto, which every moment recurs, meaning Detto or
Sudetto, as that which was already said before: but this place has
afforded me an opportunity of discovering what the people meant, who
called a large portion of ground in Southwark some years ago a _plant_,
above all things. The ground was destined to the purposes of extensive
commerce, but the appellation of a _plant_ gave me much disturbance,
from my inability to fathom the meaning of it. I have here found out,
that the Lombards call many things a _plant_; and say of their cities,
palaces, &c. in familiar discourse--_che la pianta e buona, la pianta e
cattiva_[Footnote: The _plant_ is a good or a bad one], &c.

Thus do words which carry a forcible expression in one language, appear
ridiculous enough in another, till the true derivation is known. Another
reflection too occurs as curious; that after the overthrow of all
business, all knowledge, and all pleasure resulting from either, by the
Goths, Italy should be the first to cherish and revive those
money-getting occupations, which now thrive better in more Northern
climates: but the chymists say justly, that fermentation acts with a
sort of creative power, and that while the mass of matter is fermenting,
no certain judgment can be made what spirit it will at last throw up: so
perhaps we ought not to wonder at all, that the first idea of banking
came originally from this now uncommercial country; that the very name
of _bankrupt_ was brought over from their money-changers, who sat in
the market-place with a bench or _banca_ before them, receiving and
paying; till, unable sometimes to make the due returns, the enraged
creditors broke their little board, which was called making
_bancarotta_, a phrase but too well known in the purlieus, which because
they first settled there in London was called _Lombard Street_, where
the word is still in full force I believe.

              --oh word of fear!
    Unpleasing to commercial ear.

A visit to the collection of Signor Vincenzo Bozza best assisted me in
changing, or at least turning the course of my ideas. Nothing in natural
history appears more worthy the consideration of the learned world, than
does this repository of petrefactions, so uncommon that scarcely any
thing except the testimony of one's own eyes could convince one that
flying fish, natives, and intending to remain inhabitants, of the
Pacific Ocean, are daily dug out of the bowels of Monte Bolca near
Verona, where they must doubtless have been driven by the deluge, as no
less than omnipotent power and general concussion could have sufficed to
seize and fix them for centuries in the hollow cavities of a rock at
least seventy-two miles from the nearest sea. Their learned proprietor,
however, who was obligingly desirous to shew me every attention,
answering a hundred troublesome questions with much civility, told us,
that few of his numerous visitants gave that plain account of the
phenomenon, shewing greater disposition to conjure up more difficult
causes, and attribute the whole to the world's eternity: a notion not
less contrary to found philosophy and common sense, than it is repugnant
to faith, and the doctrines of Revelation; which prophesied long ago,
that in the last days should come _scoffers, walking after their own
lusts_, and saying, _Where is now the promise of his coming? for since
the time that our fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were
from the beginning of the creation._

Well! these are unpleasant reflections: I would rather, before leaving
the plains of Lombardy, give my country-women one reason for detaining
them so long there: it cannot be an uninteresting reason to us, when we
ref left that our first head-dresses were made by _Milaners_; that a
court gown was early known in England by the name of a _mantua_, from
_Manto,_ the daughter of Teresias, who founded the city so called; and
that some of the best materials for making these mantuas is still named
from the town it is manufactured in--a _Padua_ soy.

We are going thither immediately through Vicenza; where the works of
Palladio's immortal hand appear in full perfection; and nothing sure can
add to the elegancies of architecture displayed in its environs. I
fatigued myself to death almost by walking three miles out of town, to
see the famous villa from whence Merriworth Castle in Kent was modelled;
and drew incessant censures on his taste who built at the bottom of a
deep valley the imitation of a house calculated for a hill. Here I
pleased my eyes by glancing them over an extensive prospect, bounded by
mountains on the one side, on another by the sea, at so prodigious a
distance however as to be wholly undiscoverable by the naked eye; nor
could I, or any other unaccustomed spectator, have seen, as my Italian
companions did, the effect produced by marine vapours upon the
intermediate atmosphere, which they made me remark from the windows of
the palace, inferior in every thing _but_ situation to Merriworth, and
with that patriotic consolation I leave Vincenza.

Padua la dotta afforded me much pleasure, from the politeness of the
Countess Ferres, born a German; of the House of Starenberg: she thought
proper to shew me a thousand civilities, in consequence of a kind letter
which we carried her from Count Wiltseck, the Austrian minister at
Milan; called the literati of the town about us, and gave me the
pleasure of conversing with the Abate Cefarotti, who translated Offian;
and the Professor Statico, whose attentions I ought never to forget. I
was surprised at length to hear kind inquiries after English
acquaintance made in my native language by the botanical professor, who
spoke much of Doctor Johnson, and with great regard: he had, it seems,
spent much time in our island about thirty years before. When we were
shewn the physic garden, nicely kept and excellently furnished, the
Countess took occasion to observe, that transplanted trees never throve,
and strongly expressed her unfaded attachment to her native soil: though
she had more good sense than to neglect every opportunity of
cultivating that in which fortune had placed her.

The tomb of Antenor, supposed to be preserved in this town, has, I find,
but slight evidence to boast with regard to its authenticity: whosever
tomb it is, the antiquity of the monument, and dignity of the remains,
are scarcely questionable; and I see not but it _may_ be Antenor's.

There is no place assigned for it but the open street, because it could
not (say they) have contained a baptized body, as there are proofs
innumerable of its being fabricated many and many years before the birth
of Jesus Christ: yet I never pass by without being hurt that it should
have no better situation assigned it, till I recollect that the old
Romans always buried people by the highway, which made the _siste
viator_[Footnote: Stop traveller] proper for their tomb-stones, as Mr.
Addison somewhere remarks; which are foolishly enough engraven upon
ours: and till I consider too that the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the
Patriarch of Antioch, where Christians were first called such, would lie
no nearer a Christian Church than old Antenor does, were they
unfortunate enough to die, and be put under ground at Padua.

The shrine of St. Antonio is however sufficiently venerated; and the
riches of his church really amazed me: such silver lamps! such votive
offerings! such glorious sculpture! the bas relievos, representing his
life and miracles, are beyond any thing we have yet seen; one
compartment particularly, the workmanship, I think, of Sansovino, where
an old woman is represented to a degree of finished nicety and curiosity
of perfection which I knew not that marble could express.

The hall of justice, which they oppose to our Westminster-hall, but
between which there is no resemblance, is two hundred and fifty-six feet
long, and eighty-six broad; the form, of it a _rhomboid_: the walls
richly ornamented by Pietro d'Abano, who originally designed, and began
to paint the figures round the sides: they have however been retouched
by Giotto, who added the signs of the Zodiac to Peter's mysterious
performances, which meant to explain the planetary influences, as he was
a man deeply dipped in judicial astrology; and there is his own portrait
among them, dressed like a Zoroastrian priest, with a planet in the
corner. At the bottom of the hall hangs the famous crucifixion, for the
purpose of doing which completely well, it is told that Giotto fastened
up a real man, and justly incurred the Pope's displeasure, who coming
one day unawares to see his painter work, caught the unhappy wretch
struggling in the closet, and threatened immediately to sign the
artist's death; who with Italian promptness ran to the picture, and
daubed it over with his brush and colours;--by this method obliging his
sovereign to delay execution till the work was repaired, which no one
but himself could finish; mean time the man recovers of his wounds, and
the tale ends, whether true or false, according to the hearer's wish.

The debtor's stone at the opposite end of the hall has likewise many
entertaining stories annexed to it: the bankrupt is obliged to sit there
in presence of his creditors and judges, in a very disgraceful state;
and many accounts are told one, of the various effects such distresses
have had on the mind: but suicide is a crime rarely committed out of
England, and the Italians look with just horror on our people for being
so easily incited to a sin, which takes from him that commits it all
power and possibility of repentance.

A Frenchman whom I sent for once at Bath to dress my hair, gave me an
excellent trait of his own national character, speaking upon that
subject, when he meant to satirise ours. "You have lived some years in
England, friend, said I, do you like it?"--"Mais non, madame, pas
parfaitement bien[L]"--"You have travelled much in Italy, do you like
that better?"--"Ah, Dieu ne plaise, madame, je n'aime gueres messieurs
les Italiens[M]." "What do they do to make you hate them so?"--"Mais
c'est que les Italiens se tuent l'un l'autre (replied the fellow), et
les Anglois se font un plaisir de se tuer eux mesmes: pardi je ne me
sens rien moins qu'un vrai gout pour ces gentillesses la, et j'aimerois
mieux me trouver a _Paris, pour rire un peu_."[N]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote L: Why no truly ma'am, not much.]

[Footnote M: Oh, God forbid--no, I cannot endure those Italians.]

[Footnote N: Why, really, the Italians have such a passion for murdering
each other, ma'am, and the English such an odd delight in killing
themselves, that I, who have acquired no taste for such agreeable
amusements, grow somewhat impatient to return to Paris, and get a good
laugh among my old acquaintance.]

The Lucrezia Padovana, who has a monument erected here in this justice
hall to her memory, is the only instance of self-murder I have been told
yet; and her's was a very glorious one, and necessary to the
preservation of her honour, which was endangered by the magistrate, who
made that the barter for her husband's life, in defence of which she was
pleading; much like the story of Isabella, Angelo, and Claudio, in
Shakespear's Measure for Measure. This lady, whole family name I have
forgotten, stabbed herself in presence of the monster who reduced her to
such necessity, and by that means preserved her husband's life, by
suddenly converting the heart of her hateful lover, who from that
dreadful day devoted himself to penitence and prayer.

The chastity of the Patavian ladies is celebrated by some old Latin
poet, but I cannot recollect which. Lucrezia, however, was a Christian.
I could not much regard the monument of Livy though, for looking at
her's, which attracted and detained my attention more particularly.

The University of Padua is a noble institution; and those who have
excelled among the students, are recorded on tablets, for the most part
brass, hung round the walls, made venerable by their arms and
characters. It was pleasing to see so many British names among
them--Scotchmen for the most part; though I enquired in vain for the
admirable Crichton. Sir Richard Blackmore was there, but not one native
of France. We were spiteful enough to fancy, that was the reason that
Abbe Richard says nothing of the establishment.

Besides the civilities shewn us here by Mr. Bonaldi and his agreeable
lady, Signora Annetta, we were recommended by letters from the Venetian
resident at Milan, to Abate Toaldo, professor of astronomy; who wished
to do all in his power to oblige and entertain us. His observatory is a
good one; but the learned amiable scholar, who resides in the first
floor of it, complained to us that he was sickly, old, and poor; three
bad qualifications, as he observed, for the amusement of travellers, who
commonly arrive hungry for novelty, and thirsty for information. His
quadrant was very fine, the planetarium or orrery quite out of repair;
and his references of course were obliged to be made to a sort of map or
chart of the heavenly bodies (a solar system at least with comets) that
hung up in his room as a substitute. He had little reverence for the
petrefactions of Monte Bolca I perceived, which he considered as mere
_lufus naturae_. He shewed me poor Petrarch's tomb from his observatory,
bid me look on Sir Isaac's full-length picture in the room, and said,
the world would see no more such men. Of our Maskelyne, however, no man
could speak with more esteem, or expressions of generous friendship. His
sitting chamber was a pleasant one; and I should not have left it so
soon, but in compassion to his health, which our company was more likely
to injure than assist. He asked me, if I did not find _Padua la dotta_ a
very stinking nasty town? but added, that literature and dirt had long
been intimately acquainted, and that this city was commonly called among
the Italians, _"Porcil de Padua," Padua the pig-stye._

Fire is supposed to be the greatest purifier, and Padua has gone through
that operation twice completely, being burned the first time by Attila;
after which, Narses the famous eunuch rebuilt and settled it in the year
558, if my information is good: but after her protector's death, the
Longobards burned her again, and she lay in ashes till Charlemagne
restored her to more than original beauty. Under Otho she, like many
other cities of Italy, was governed by her own laws, and remained a
republic till the year 1237, when she received the German yoke,
afterwards broken by the Scaligers; nor was their treacherous
assassination followed by less than the loss both of Verona and this
city, which was found in possession of the Emperor Maximilian some years
after: but when the State of Venice recovered their dominion over it in
1409, they fortified it so strongly that the confederate princes united
in the league of Cambray assaulted it in vain.

Santa Giustina's church is the most beautiful place of worship I have
ever yet seen; so regularly, so uniformly noble, uncrowded with figures
too: the entrance strikes you with its simple grandeur, while the small
chapels to the right and left hand are kept back behind a colonade of
pillars, and do not distract attention and create confusion of ideas,
as do the numerous cupolas of St. Anthony's more magnificent but less
pleasing structure. The high altar here at Santa Giustina's church
stands at the end, and greatly increases the effect on entering, which
always suffers when the length is broken. Nothing, however, is to be
perfect in this world, and Paul Veronese's fine view of the suffering
martyr has not size enough for the place; and is beside crowded with
small unconsequential figures, which cannot be distinguished at a
distance. Some carvings round the altar, representing, in wooden
bas-reliefs, the history of the Old and New Testament, are admirable in
their kind; and I am told that the organ on which Bertoni, a blind
nephew of Ferdinand, our well-known composer, played to entertain us, is
one of the first in Italy: but an ordinary instrument would have charmed
us had he touched it.

I must not leave the Terra Firma, as they call it, without mentioning
once more some of the animals it produces; among which the asses are so
justly renowned for their size and beauty, that _come un afino di Padua_
is proverbial when speaking of strength among the Italians: how should
it be otherwise indeed, where every herb and every shrub breathes
fragrance; and where the quantity as well as quality of their food
naturally so increases their milk, that I should think some of them.
might yield as much as an ordinary cow?

When I was at Genoa, I remember remarking something like this to Doctor
Batt, an English physician settled there; and expressed my surprise that
our consumptive country-folks, with whom the Italians never cease to
reproach us, do not, when they come here for health, rely much on the
beneficial produce of these asses for a cure; which, if it is hastened
by their assistance in our island, must surely be performed much quicker
in this. The answer would have been better recollected, I fancy, had it
appeared to me more satisfactory; but he knew what he was talking of,
and I did not; so conclude he despised me accordingly.

The Carinthian bulls too, that do all the heavy work in this rich and
heavy land, how wonderfully handsome they are! Such symmetry and beauty
have I never seen in any cattle, scarcely in those of Derbyshire, where
so much attention has been bestowed upon their breeding. The colour
here is so elegant; they are almost all blue roans, like Lord
Grosvenor's horses in London, or those of the Duke of Cestos at Milan:
the horns longer, and much more finely shaped, than those of our bulls,
and white as polished ivory, tapering off to a point, with a bright
black tip at the end, resembling an ermine's tail. As this creature is
not a native, but only a neighbour of Italy, we will say no more about
him.

A transplanted Hollander, carried thither originally from China, seems
to thrive particularly well in this part of the world; the little pug
dog, or Dutch mastiff, which our English ladies were once so fond of,
that poor Garrick thought it worth his while to ridicule them for it in
the famous dramatic satire called Lethe, has quitted London for Padua, I
perceive; where he is restored happily to his former honours, and every
carriage I meet here has a _pug_ in it. That breed of dogs is now so
near extirpated among us, that I recoiled: only Lord Penryn who
possesses such an animal; and I doubt not but many of the under-classes
among brutes do in the same manner extinguish and revive by chance,
caprice, or accident perpetually, through many tracts of the inhabited
world, so as to remain out of sight in certain districts for centuries
together.

This town, as Abbe Toaldo observed, is old, and dirty, and
melancholy-looking, _in itself_; but Terence told us long ago, and
truly, "that it was not the walls, but the company, made every place
delightful:" and these inhabitants, though few in number, are so
exceedingly cheerful, so charming, their language is so mellifluous,
their manners so soothing, I can scarcely bear to leave them without
tears.

Verona was the first place I felt reluctance to quit; but the Venetian
state certainly possesses uncommon, and to me almost unaccountable,
attractions. Be that as it will, we leave these sweet Paduans to-morrow;
the coach is disposed of, and we are to set out upon our watry journey
to their wonderfully-situated metropolis, or as they call it prettily,
_La Bella Dominante_.



VENICE.


We went down the Brenta in a barge that brought us in eight hours to
Venice, the first appearance of which revived all the ideas inspired by
Canaletti, whose views of this town are most scrupulously exact; those
especially which one sees at the Queen of England's house in St. James's
Park; to such a degree indeed, that we knew all the famous towers,
steeples, &c. before we reached them. It was wonderfully entertaining to
find thus realized all the pleasures that excellent painter had given us
so many times reason to expect; and I do believe that Venice, like other
Italian beauties, will be observed to possess features so striking, so
prominent, and so discriminated, that her portrait, like theirs, will
not be found difficult to take, nor the impression she has once made
easy to erase. British charms captivate less powerfully, less certainly,
less suddenly: but being of a softer sort increase upon acquaintance;
and after the connexion has continued for some years, will be
relinquished with pain, perhaps even in exchange for warmer colouring
and stronger expression.

St. Mark's Place, after all I had read and all I had heard of it,
exceeded expectation: such a cluster of excellence, such a constellation
of artificial beauties, my mind had never ventured to excite the idea of
within herself; though assisted with all the powers of doing so which
painters can bestow, and with all the advantages derived from verbal and
written description. It was half an hour before I could think of looking
for the bronze horses, of which one has heard so much; and from which
when one has once begun to look, there is no possibility of withdrawing
one's attention. The general effect produced by such architecture, such
painting, such pillars; illuminated as I saw them last night by the moon
at full, rising out of the sea, produced an effect like enchantment; and
indeed the more than magical sweetness of Venetian planners, dialect,
and address, confirms one's notion, and realizes the scenes laid by
Fenelon in their once tributary island of Cyprus. The pole set up as
commemorative of their past dominion over it, grieves one the more, when
every hour shews how congenial that place must have been to them, if
every thing one reads of it has any foundation in truth.

The Ducal palace is so beautiful, it were worth while almost to cross
the Alps to see that, and return home again: and St. Mark's church,
whose Mosaic paintings on the outside are surpassed by no work of art,
delights one no less on entering, with its numberless rarities; the
flooring first, which is all paved with precious stones of the second
rank, in small squares, not bigger than a playing card, and sometimes
less. By the second rank in gems I mean, carnelion, agate, jasper,
serpentine, and verd antique; on which you place your feet without
remorse, but not without a very odd sensation, when you find the ground
undulated beneath them, to represent the waves of the sea, and
perpetuate marine ideas, which prevail in every thing at Venice. We were
not shewn the treasury, and it was impossible to get a sight of the
manuscript in St. Mark's own hand-writing, carefully preserved here, and
justly esteemed even beyond the jewels given as votive offerings to his
shrine, which are of immense value.

The pictures in the Doge's house are a magnificent collection; and the
Noah's Ark by Bassano would doubtless afford an actual study for natural
historians as well as painters, and is considered as a model of
perfection from which succeeding artists may learn to draw animal life:
scarcely a creature can be recollected which has not its proper place in
the picture; but the pensive cat upon the fore-ground took most of my
attention, and held it away from the meeting of the Pope and Doge by the
other brother Bassano, who here proves that his pencil is not divested
of dignity, as the connoisseurs sometimes tell us that he is. But it is
not one picture, or two, or twenty, that seizes one's mind here; it is
the accumulation of various objects, each worthy to detain it. Wonderful
indeed, and sweetly-satisfying to the intellectual appetite, is the
variety, the plenty of pleasures which serve to enchain the imagination,
and fascinate the traveller's eye, keeping it ever on this _little
spot_; for though I have heard some of the inhabitants talk of its
vastness, it is scarcely bigger than our Portman Square, I think, not
larger at the very most than Lincoln's-Inn-Fields.

It is indeed observable that few people know how to commend a thing so
as to make their praises enhance its value. One hears a pretty woman not
unfrequently admired for her wit, a woman of talents wondered at for her
beauty; while I can think on no reason for such perversion of language,
unless it is that a small share of elegance will content those whose
delight is to hear declamation; and that the most hackeyed sentiments
will seem new, when uttered by a pair of rosy lips, and seconded by the
expression of eyes from which every thing may be expected.

To return to St. Mark's Place, whence _we have never strayed_: I must
mention those pictures which represent his miracles, and the carrying
his body away from Alexandria: events attested so as to bring them
credit from many wise men, and which have more authenticity of their
truth, than many stories told one up and down here. So great is the
devotion of the common people here to their tutelar saint, that when
they cry out, as we do _Old England for ever_! they do not say, _Viva
Venezia_! but _Viva San Marco_! And I doubt much if that was not once
the way with _us_; in one of Shakespear's plays an expiring prince being
near to give all up for gone, is animated by his son in these words,
"_Courage father_, cry _St. George_!"

We had an opportunity of seeing _his_ day celebrated with a very grand
procession the other morning, April 23, when a live boy personated the
hero of the show; but fate so still upon his painted courser, that it
was long before I perceived him to breathe. The streets were vastly
crowded with spectators, that in every place make the principal part of
the _spectacle_.

It is odd that a custom which in contemplation seems so unlikely to
please, should when put in practice appear highly necessary, and
productive of an effect which can be obtained no other way. Were the
houses in Parliament Street to hang damask curtains, worked carpets,
pieces of various coloured silks, with fringe or lace round them, out of
every window when the King of England goes to the House, with numberless
well-dressed ladies leaning out to see him pass, it would give one an
idea of the continental towns upon a gala day. But our people would be
apt to cry out, _Monmouth Street!_ and look ashamed if their neighbours
saw the same deckerwork counterpane or crimson curtain produced at
Easter, which made a figure at Christmas the December before; so that no
end would be put to expence in our country, were such a fancy to take
place. The rainy weather beside would spoil all our finery at once; and
_here_, though it is still cold enough to be sure, and the women wear
sattins, yet still one shivers over a bad fire only because there is no
place to walk and warm one's self; for I have not seen a drop of rain.
The truth is, this town cannot be a wholesome one, for there is scarcely
a possibility of taking exercise; nor have I been once able to circulate
my blood by motion since our arrival, except perhaps by climbing the
beautiful tower which stands (as every thing else does) in St. Mark's
Place. And you may drive a garden-chair up _that_, so easy is the
ascent, so broad and luminous the way. From the top is presented to
one's sight the most striking of all prospects, water bounded by
land--not land by water.--The curious and elegant islets upon which, and
into which, the piles of Venice are driven, exhibiting clusters of
houses, churches, palaces, every thing--started up in the midst of the
sea, so as to excite amazement.

But the horses have not been spoken of, though one pair drew Apollo's
car at Delphos. The other, which we call modern, and laugh while we call
them so, were made however before the days of Constantine the Great.
They are of bright yellow brass, not black bronze, as I expected to find
them, and grace the glorious church I am never weary of admiring; where
I went one day on purpose to find out the red marble on which Pope
Alexander III. sate, and placed his foot upon the neck of the Emperor:
the stone has this inscription half legible round it, _Super aspidem et
basiliscum ambulabis_[Footnote: Thou shalt tread on the asp and the
basilisk]. How does this lovely Piazza di San Marco render a
newly-arrived spectator breathless with delight! while not a span of it
is unoccupied by actual beauty; though the whole appears uncrowded, as
in the works of nature, not of art.

It was upon the day appointed for making a new chancellor, however, that
one ought to have looked at this lovely city; when every shop, adorned
with its own peculiar produce, was disposed to hail the passage of its
favourite, in a manner so lively, so luxuriant, and at the same time so
tasteful--there's no telling. Milliners crowned the new dignitary's
picture with flowers, while columns of gauze, twisted round with
ribband, in the most elegant style, supported the figure on each side,
and made the prettiest appearance possible. The furrier formed his skins
into representations of the animal they had once belonged to; so the
lion was seen dandling the kid at one door, while the fox stood courting
a badger out of his hole at the other. The poulterers and fruiterers
were by many thought the most beautiful shops in town, from the variety
of fancies displayed in the disposal of their goods; and I admired at
the truly Italian ingenuity of a gunsmith, who had found the art of
turning his instruments of terror into objects of delight, by his
judicious manner of placing and arranging them. Every shop was
illuminated with a large glass chandelier before it, besides the wax
candles and coloured lamps interspersed among the ornaments within. The
senators have much the appearance of our lawyers going robed to
Westminster Hall, but the _gentiluomini_, as they are called, wear red
dresses, and remind me of the Doctors of the ecclesiastical courts in
Doctors Commons.

It is observable that all long robes denote peaceful occupations, and
that the short cut coat is the emblem of a military profession, once the
disgrace of humanity, now unfortunately become its false and cruel
pride.

When the enemies of King David meant to declare war against him, they
cut the skirts of his ambassador's clothes off, to shew him he must
prepare for battle; and the Orientals still consider short dresses as a
disgraceful preparation for hostile proceedings; nor could any thing
have reconciled Europe to the custom, except our horror of Turkish
manners, and desire of being distinguished from the Saracens at the time
of the Holy War.

I have said nothing yet about the gondolas, which every body knows are
black, and give an air of melancholy at first sight, yet are nothing
less than sorrowful; it is like painting the lively Mrs. Cholmondeley
in the character of Milton's

    Pensive Nun, devout and pure,
    Sober, stedfast, and demure--

As I once saw her drawn by a famous hand, to shew a Venetian lady in her
gondola and zendaletto, which is black like the gondola, but wholly
calculated like that for the purposes of refined gallantry. So is the
nightly rendezvous, the coffee-house, and casino; for whilst Palladio's
palaces serve to adorn the grand canal, and strike those who enter
Venice with surprise at its magnificence; those snug retreats are
intended for the relaxation of those who inhabit the more splendid
apartments, and are fatigued with exertions of dignity, and necessity of
no small expence. They breathe the true spirit of our luxurious Lady
Mary, who probably learned it here, or of the still more dissolute
Turks, our present neighbours; who would have thought not unworthy a
Testa Veneziana, her famous stanza, beginning,

    But when the long hours of public are past,
    And we meet with champagne and a chicken at last;

Surely she had then present to her warm imagination a favourite Casino
in the Piazza St. Marco. That her learned and highly-accomplished son
imbibed her taste and talents for sensual delights, has been long known
in England; it is not so perhaps that there is a showy monument erected
to his memory at Padua, setting forth his variety and compass of
knowledge in a long Latin inscription. The good old monk who shewed it
me seemed generously and reasonably shocked, that such a man should at
last expire with somewhat more firm persuasions of the truth of the
Mahometan religion than any other; but that he doubted greatly of all,
and had not for many years professed himself a Christian of any sect or
denomination whatever.

    So have I seen some youth set out,
    Half Protestant, half Papist;
    And wand'ring long the world about,
    Some new religion to find out,
    Turn Infidel or Atheist.

We have been told much of the suspicious temper of Venetian laws; and
have heard often that every discourse is suffered, except such as tends
to political conversation, in this city; and that whatever nobleman,
native of Venice, is seen speaking familiarly with a foreign minister,
runs a risque of punishments too terrible to be thought on.

How far that manner of proceeding may be wise or just, I know not;
certain it is that they have preserved their laws inviolate, their city
unattempted, and their republic respectable, through all the concussions
that have shaken the rest of Europe. Surrounded by envious powers, it
becomes them to be vigilant; conscious of the value of their unconquered
state, it is no wonder that they love her; and surely the true _Amor
Patriae_ never glowed more warmly in old Roman bosoms than in theirs, who
draw, as many families here do, their pedigree from the consuls of the
Commonwealth. Love without jealousy is seldom to be met with, especially
in these warm climates--let us then permit them to be jealous of a
constitution which all the other states of Italy look on with envy not
unmixed with malice, and propagate strange stories to its disadvantage.

That suspicion should be concealed under the mask of gaiety is neither
very new nor very strange: the reign of our Charles the Second was
equally famous for plots, perjuries, and cruel chastisements, as for
wanton levity and indecent frolics: but here at Venice there are no
unpermitted frolics; her rulers love to see her gay and cheerful; they
are the fathers of their country, and if they _indulge_, take care not
to _spoil_ her.

With regard to common chat, I have heard many a liberal and eloquent
disquisition upon the state of Europe in general, and of Venice in
particular, from several agreeable friends at their own Casino, who did
not appear to have more fears upon them than myself, and I know not why
they should. Chevalier Emo is deservedly a favourite with them, and we
used to talk whole evenings of him and of General Elliott; the
bombarding of Tunis, and defence of Gibraltar. The news-papers spoke of
some fireworks exhibited in England in honour of their hero; they were
"vrayment _feux de joye_" said an agreeable Venetian, they were not
_feux d'artifice._

The deep secrecy of their councils, however, and unrelenting steadiness
of their resolutions, cannot be better explained than by telling a
little story, which will illustrate the private virtue as well as the
public authority of these extraordinary people; for though the tale is
now in abler hands (intending as I am told, to form a tragedy upon its
basis), the summary may serve to adorn my little work; as a landscape
painter refuses not to throw the story of Phaeton's petition for
Apollo's car into his picture, for the purpose of illuminating the back
ground, though Ovid has written the story and Titian has painted it.

Some years ago then, perhaps a hundred, one of the many spies who ply
this town by night, ran to the state inquisitor, with information that
such a nobleman (naming him) had connections with the French ambassador,
and went privately to his house every night at a certain hour. The
_messergrando_, as they call him, could not believe, nor would proceed,
without better and stronger proof, against a man for whom he had an
intimate personal friendship, and on whose virtue he counted with very
particular reliance. Another spy was therefore set, and brought back the
same intelligence, adding the description of his disguise; on which the
worthy magistrate put on his mask and bauta, and went out himself; when
his eyes confirming the report of his informants, and the reflection on
his duty stifling all remorse, he sent publicly for _Foscarini_ in the
morning, whom the populace attended all weeping to his door.

Nothing but resolute denial of the crime alleged could however be forced
from the firm-minded citizen, who, sensible of the discovery, prepared
for that punishment he knew to be inevitable, and submitted to the fate
his friend was obliged to inflict: no less than a dungeon for life, that
dungeon so horrible that I have heard Mr. Howard was not permitted to
see it.

The people lamented, but their lamentations were vain. The magistrate
who condemned him never recovered the shock: but Foscarini was heard of
no more, till an old lady died forty years after in Paris, whose last
confession declared she was visited with amorous intentions by a
nobleman of Venice whose name she never knew, while she resided there as
companion to the ambassadress. So was Foscarini lost! so died he a
martyr to love, and tenderness for female reputation! Is it not
therefore a story fit to be celebrated by that lady's pen, who has
chosen it as the basis of her future tragedy?--But I will anticipate no
further.

Well! this is the first place I have seen which has been capable in any
degree of obliterating the idea of Genoa la superba, which has till now
pursued me, nor could the gloomy dignity of the cathedral at Milan, or
the striking view of the arena at Verona, nor the Sala de Giustizia at
lettered Padua, banish her beautiful image from my mind: nor can I now
acknowledge without shame, that I have ceased to regret the mountains,
the chesnut groves, and slanting orange trees, which climbed my chamber
window _there_, and at _this_ time too! when

    Young-ey'd Spring profusely throws
    From her green lap the pink and rose.

But whoever sees St. Mark's Place lighted up of an evening, adorned with
every excellence of human art, and pregnant with pleasure, expressed by
intelligent countenances sparkling with every grace of nature; the sea
washing its walls, the moon-beams dancing on its subjugated waves, sport
and laughter resounding from the coffee-houses, girls with guitars
skipping about the square, masks and merry-makers singing as they pass
you, unless a barge with a band of music is heard at some distance upon
the water, and calls attention to sounds made sweeter by the element
over which they are brought--whoever is led suddenly I say to this scene
of seemingly perennial gaiety, will be apt to cry out of Venice, as Eve
says to Adam in Milton,

    With thee conversing I _forget all time_,
    All _seasons_, and their _change_--all please _alike_.

For it is sure there are in this town many astonishing privations of all
that are used to make other places delightful: and as poor Omai the
savage said, when about to return to Otaheite--_No horse there! no ass!
no cow, no golden pippins, no dish of tea!--Ah, missey! I go without
every thing--I always so content there though_.

It is really just so one lives at this lovely Venice: one has heard of a
horse being exhibited for a show there, and yesterday I watched the poor
people paying a penny a piece for the sight of a _stuffed one_, and am
more than persuaded of the truth of what I am told here, That
numberless inhabitants live and die in this great capital, nor ever find
out or think of enquiring how the milk brought from Terra Firma is
originally produced. When such fancies cross me I wish to exclaim, Ah,
happy England! whence ignorance is banished by the diffusion of
literature, and narrowness of notions is ridiculed even in the lowest
class of life. Candour must however confess, that while the possessor of
a Northern coal-mine riots in that variety of adulation which talents
deserve and riches contrive to obtain, those who labour in it are often
natives of the dismal region; where many have been known to be born, and
work, and die, without having ever seen the sun, or other light than
such as a candle can bestow. Let such dark recollections give place to
more cheerful imagery.

We have just now been carried to see the so justly-renowned arsenal, and
unluckily missed the ship-launch we went thither chiefly to see. It is
no great matter though! one comes to Italy to look at buildings,
statues, pictures, people! The ships and guns of England have been such
as supported her greatness, established her dominion, and extended her
commerce in such a manner as to excite the admiration and terror of
Europe, whose kingdoms vainly as perfidiously combined with her own
colonies against that power which _they_ maintained, in spite of the
united efforts of half the globe. I shall hardly see finer ships and
guns till I go home again, though the keeping all together on one island
so--that island walled in too completely with only a single door to come
in and out at--is a construction of peculiar happiness and convenience;
while dock, armoury, rope-walk, all is contained in this space, exactly
two miles round I think.

What pleased me best, besides the _whole_, which is best worth being
pleased with, was the small arms: there are so many Turkish instruments
of destruction among them quite new to me, and the picture commemorating
the cruel death of their noble gallant leader Bragadin, so inhumanly
treated by the Saracens in 1571. With infinite gratitude to his amiable
descendant, who shewed me unmerited civility, dining with us often, and
inviting us to his house, &c. I leave this repository of the Republic's
stores with one observation, That however suspicious the Venetians are
said to be, I found it much more easy for Englishmen to look over
_their_ docks, than for a foreigner to find his way into ours.

Another reflection occurs on examination of this spot; it is, that the
renown attached to it in general conversation, is a proof that the world
prefers convenience to splendour; for here are no superfluous ornaments,
and I am apt to think many go away from it praising beauties by which
they have been but little struck, and utilities they have but little
understood.

From this show you are commonly carried to the glass manufactory at
Murano; once the retreat of piety and freedom, when the Altinati fled
the fury of the Huns: a beautiful spot it is, and delightfully as oddly
situated; but these are _gems which inlay the bosom of the deep_, as
Milton says--and this perhaps, the prettiest among them, is walked over
by travellers with that curiosity which is naturally excited, in one
person by the veneration of religious antiquity; in another, by the
attention justly claimed by human industry and art. Here may be seen a
valuable library of books, and here may be seen glasses of all colours,
all sorts, and all prices, I believe: but whoever has looked much upon
the London work in this way, will not be easily dazzled by the lustre of
Venetian crystal; and whoever has seen the Paris mirrors, will not he
astonished at any breadth into which glass can be spread.

We will return to Venice, the view of which from the Zueca, a word
contracted from Giudecca, as I am told, would invite one never more to
stray from it--farther at least than to St. George's church, on another
little opposite island, whence the prospect is surely wonderful; and one
sits longing for a pencil to repeat what has been so often exquisitely
painted by Canaletti, just as foolishly as one snatches up a pen to tell
what has been so much better told already by Doctor Moore. It was to
this church I was sent, however, for the purpose of seeing a famous
picture painted by Paul Veronese, of the marriage at Cana in
Galilee--where our Saviour's first miracle was performed; in which
immense work the artist is well known to have commemorated his own
likeness, and that of many of his family, which adds value to the piece,
when we consider it as a collection of portraits, besides the history it
represents. When we arrived, the picture was kept in a refectory
belonging to friars (of what order I have forgotten), and no woman could
be admitted. My disappointment was so great that I was deprived even of
the powers of solicitation by the extreme ill-humour it occasioned; and
my few intreaties for admission were completely disregarded by the good
old monk, who remained outside with me, while the gentlemen visited the
convent without molestation. At my return to Venice I met little
comfort, as every body told me it was my own fault, for I might put on
men's clothes and see it whenever I pleased, as nobody then would stop,
though perhaps all of them would know me.

If such slight gratifications however as seeing a favourite picture, can
be purchased no cheaper than by violating truth in one's own person, and
encouraging the violation of it in others, it were better surely die
without having ever procured to one's self such frivolous enjoyments;
and I hope always to reject the temptation of deceiving mistaken piety,
or insulting harmless error.

But it is almost time to talk of the Rialto, said to be the finest
single arch in Europe, and I suppose it is so; very beautiful too when
looked on from the water, but so dirtily kept, and deformed with mean
shops, that passing over it, disgust gets the better of every other
sensation. The truth is, our dear Venetians are nothing less than
cleanly; St. Mark's Place is all covered over in a morning with
chicken-coops, which stink one to death; as nobody I believe thinks of
changing their baskets: and all about the Ducal palace is made so very
offensive by the resort of human creatures for every purpose most
unworthy of so charming a place, that all enjoyment of its beauties is
rendered difficult to a person of any delicacy; and poisoned so
provokingly, that I do never cease to wonder that so little police and
proper regulation are established in a city so particularly lovely, to
render her sweet and wholesome. It was at the Rialto that the first
stone of this fair town was laid, upon the twenty-fifth of March, as I
am told here, with ideal reference to the vernal equinox, the moment
when philosophers have supposed that the sun first shone upon our earth,
and when Christians believe that the redemption of it was first
announced to _her_ within whose womb it was conceived.

The name of _Venice_ has been variously accounted for; but I believe our
ordinary people in England are nearest to the right, who call it _Venus_
in their common discourse; as that goddess was, like her best beloved
seat of residence, born of the sea's light froth, according to old
fables, and partook of her native element, the gay and gentle, not rough
and boisterous qualities. It is said too, and I fear with too much
truth, that there are in this town some permitted professors of the
inveigling arts, who still continue to cry _Veni etiam_, as their
ancestors did when flying from the Goths they sought these sands for
refuge, and gave their lion wings. Till once well fixed, they kindly
called their continental neighbours round to share their liberty, and to
accept that happiness they were willing to bestow and to diffuse; and
from this call--this _Veni etiam_ it is, that the learned men among them
derive the word _Venetia_.

I have asked several friends about the truth of what one has been always
hearing of in England, that the Venetian gondoliers sing Tasso and
Ariosto's verses in the streets at night; sometimes quarrelling with
each other concerning the merit of their favourite poets; but what I
have been told since I came here, of their attachment to their
respective masters, and secrecy when trusted by them in love affairs,
seems far more probable; as they are proud to excess when they serve a
nobleman of high birth, and will tell you with an air of importance,
that the house of Memmo, Monsenigo, or Gratterola, has been served by
their ancestors for these eighty or perhaps a hundred years;
transmitting family pride thus from generation to generation; even when
that pride is but reflected only like the mock rainbow of a summer
sky.--But hark! while I am writing this peevish reflection in my room, I
hear some voices under my window answering each other upon the Grand
Canal. It is, it _is_ the gondolieri sure enough; they are at this
moment singing to an odd sort of tune, but in no unmusical manner, the
flight of Erminia from Tasso's Jerusalem. Oh, how pretty! how pleasing!
This wonderful city realizes the most romantic ideas ever formed of it,
and defies imagination to escape her various powers of enslaving it.

Apropos to singing;--we were this evening carried to a well-known
conservatory called the Mendicanti; who performed an oratorio in the
church with great, and I dare say deserved applause. It was difficult
for me to persuade myself that all the performers were women, till,
watching carefully, our eyes convinced us, as they were but slightly
grated. The sight of girls, however, handling the double bass, and
blowing into the bassoon, did not much please _me_; and the deep-toned
voice of her who sung the part of Saul, seemed an odd unnatural thing
enough. What I found most curious and pretty, was to hear Latin verses,
of the old Leonine race broken into eight and six, and sung in rhyme by
these women, as if they were airs of Metastasio; all in their dulcified
pronunciation too, for the _patois_ runs equally through every language
when spoken by a Venetian.

Well! these pretty syrens were delighted to seize upon us, and pressed
our visit to their parlour with a sweetness that I know not who would
have resisted. We had no such intent; and amply did their performance
repay my curiosity, for visiting Venetian beauties, so justly
celebrated for their seducing manners and soft address. They accompanied
their voices with the forte-piano, and sung a thousand buffo songs, with
all that gay voluptuousness for which their country is renowned.

The school, however is running to ruin apace; and perhaps the conduct of
the married women here may contribute to make such _conservatorios_
useless and neglected.

When the Duchess of Montespan asked the famous Louison D'Arquien, by way
of insult, as she pressed too near her, "_Comment alloit le metier_[O]?"
"_Depuis que les dames sen melent_" (replied the courtesan with no
improper spirit,) "_il ne vaut plus rien_[P]." It may be these syrens
have suffered in the same cause; I thought the ardency of their manners
an additional proof of their hunger for fresh prey.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote O: How goes the profession?]

[Footnote P: Why since the _quality_ has taken to it ma'am, it brings
_us_ in very little indeed.]

Will Naples, the original seat of Ulysses's seducers, shew us any thing
stronger than this? I hardly expect or wish it. The state of music in
Italy, if one may believe those who ought to know it best, is not what
it was. The _manner of singing_ is much changed, I am told; and some
affectations have been suffered to encroach upon their natural graces.
Among the persons who exhibited their talents at the Countess of
Rosenberg's last week, our country-woman's performance was most
applauded; but when I name Lady Clarges, no one will wonder.

It is said that painting is now but little cultivated among them; Rome
will however be the place for such enquiries. Angelica Kauffman being
settled there, seems a proof of their taste for living merit; and if one
thing more than another evinces Italian candour and true good-nature, it
is perhaps their generous willingness to be ever happy in acknowledging
foreign excellence, and their delight in bringing forward the eminent
qualities of every other nation; never insolently vaunting or bragging
of their own. Unlike to this is the national spirit and confined ideas
of perfection inherent in a Gallic mind, whose sole politeness is an
_applique_ stuck _upon_ the coat, but never _embroidered into it_.

The observation made here last night by a Parisian lady, gave me a
proof of this I little wanted. We met at the Casino of the Senator
Angelo Quirini, where a sort of literary coterie assemble every evening,
and form a society so instructive and amusing, so sure to be filled with
the first company in Venice, and so hospitably open to all travellers of
character, that nothing can _now_ be to me a higher intellectual
gratification than my admittance among them; as _in future_ no place
will ever be recollected with more pleasure, no hours with more
gratitude, than those passed most delightfully by me in that most
agreeable apartment.

I expressed to the French lady my admiration of St. Mark's Place.
"_C'est que vous n'avez jamais vue la foire St. Ovide_," said she; "_je
vous assure que cela surpasse beaucoup ces trifles palais qu'on
vantetant_[Q]." And _this could_ only have been arrogance, for she was a
very sensible and a very accomplished woman; and when talked to about
the literary merits of her own countrymen, spoke with great acuteness
and judgment.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote Q: You admire it, says she, only because you never saw the
fair at St. Ovid's in Paris; I assure you there is no comparison between
those gay illuminations and these dismal palaces the Venetians are so
fond of.]

General knowledge, however, it must be confessed (meaning that general
stock that every one recurs to for the common intercourse of
conversation), will be found more frequently in France, than even in
England; where, though all cultivate the arts of table eloquence and
assembly-room rhetoric, few, from mere shyness, venture to gather in the
profits of their plentiful harvest; but rather cloud their countenances
with mock importance, while their hearts feel no hope beat higher in
them, than the humble one of escaping without being ridiculed; or than
in Italy, where nobody dreams of cultivating conversation at all--_as an
art_; or studies for any other than the natural reason, of informing or
diverting themselves, without the most distant idea of gaining
admiration, or shining in company, by the quantity of science they have
accumulated in solitude. _Here_ no man lies awake in the night for
vexation that he missed recollecting the last line of a Latin epigram
till the moment of application was lost; nor any lady changes colour
with trepidation at the severity visible in her husband's countenance
when the chickens are over-roasted, or the ice-creams melt with the
room's excessive heat.

Among the noble Senators of Venice, meantime, many good scholars, many
Belles Lettres conversers, and what is more valuable, many thinking men,
may be found, and found hourly, who employ their powers wholly in care
for the state; and make their pleasure, like true patriots, out of _her
felicity_. The ladies indeed appear to study but _one_ science;

    And where the lesson taught
    Is but to please, can pleasure seem a fault?

Like all sensualists, however, they fail of the end proposed, from hurry
to obtain it; and consume those charms which alone can procure them
continuance or change of admirers; they injure their health too
irreparably, and _that_ in their earliest youth; for few remain
unmarried till fifteen, and at thirty have a wan and faded look. _On ne
goute pas ses plaisirs icy, on les avale_[Footnote: They do not taste
their pleasures here, they swallow them whole.], said Madame la
Presidente yesterday, very judiciously; yet it is only speaking
popularly that one can be supposed to mean, what however no one much
refuses to assert, that the Venetian ladies are amorously inclined: the
truth is, no check being put upon inclination, each acts according to
immediate impulse; and there are more devotees, perhaps, and more
doating mothers at Venice than any where else, for the same reason as
there are more females who practise gallantry, only because there are
more women there who _do their own way_, and follow unrestrained where
passion, appetite, or imagination lead them.

To try Venetian dames by English rules, would be worse than all the
tyranny complained of when some East Indian was condemned upon the
Coventry act for slitting his wife's nose; a common practice in _his_
country, and perfectly agreeable to custom and the _usage du pays_. Here
is no struggle for female education as with us, no resources in study,
no duties of family-management; no bill of fare to be looked over in the
morning, no account-book to be settled at noon; no necessity of reading,
to supply without disgrace the evening's chat; no laughing at the
card-table, or tittering in the corner if a _lapsus linguae_ has
produced a mistake, which malice never fails to record. A lady in Italy
is _sure_ of applause, so she takes little pains to obtain it. A
Venetian lady has in particular so sweet a manner naturally, that she
really charms without any settled intent to do so, merely from that
irresistible good-humour and mellifluous tone of voice which seize the
soul, and detain it in despite of Juno-like majesty, or Minerva-like
wit. Nor ever was there prince or shepherd, Paris I think was both, who
would not have bestowed his apple _here_.

Mean while my countryman Howel laments that the women at Venice are so
little. But why so? the diminutive progeny of _Vulcan_, the _Cabirs_,
mysteriously adored of old, were of a size below that of the least
living woman, if we believe Herodotus; and they were worshipped with
more constant as well as more fervent devotion, than the symmetrical
goddess of Beauty herself.

A custom which prevails here, of wearing little or no rouge, and
increasing the native paleness of their skins, by scarce lightly wiping
the very white powder from their faces, is a method no Frenchwoman of
quality would like to adopt; yet surely the Venetians are not
behind-hand in the art of gaining admirers; and they do not, like their
painters, depend upon _colouring_ to ensure it.

Nothing can be a greater proof of the little consequence which dress
gives to a woman, than the reflection one must make on a Venetian lady's
mode of appearance in her zendalet, without which nobody stirs out of
their house in a morning. It consists of a full black silk petticoat,
sloped just to train, a very little on the ground, and flounced with
gauze of the same colour. A skeleton wire upon the head, such as we use
to make up hats, throwing loosely over it a large piece of black mode or
persian, so as to shade the face like a curtain, the front being trimmed
with a very deep black lace, or souflet gauze infinitely becoming. The
thin silk that remains to be disposed of, they roll back so as to
discover the bosom; fasten it with a puff before at the top of their
stomacher, and once more rolling it back from the shape, tie it
gracefully behind, and let it hang in two long ends.

The evening ornament is a silk hat, shaped like a man's, and of the
same colour, with a white or worked lining at most, and sometimes _one
feather_; a great black silk cloak, lined with white, and perhaps a
narrow border down before, with a vast heavy round handkerchief of black
lace, which lies over neck and shoulders, and conceals shape and all
completely. Here is surely little appearance of art, no craping or
frizzing the hair, which is flat at the top, and all of one length,
hanging in long curls about the back or sides as it happens. No brown
powder, and no rouge at all. Thus without variety does a Venetian lady
contrive to delight the eye, and without much instruction too to charm,
the ear. A source of thought fairly cut off beside, in giving her no
room to shew taste in dress, or invent new fancies and disposition of
ornaments for to-morrow. The government takes all that trouble off her
hands, knows every pin she wears, and where to find her at any moment of
the day or night.

Mean time nothing conveys to a British observer a stronger notion of
loose living and licentious dissoluteness, than the sight of one's
servants, gondoliers, and other attendants, on the scenes and circles
of pleasure, where you find them, though never drunk, dead with sleep
upon the stairs, or in their boats, or in the open street, for that
matter, like over-swilled voters at an election in England. One may
trample on them if one will, they hardly _can_ be awakened; and their
companions, who have more life left, set the others literally on their
feet, to make them capable of obeying their master or lady's call. With
all this appearance of levity, however, there is an unremitted attention
to the affairs of state; nor is any senator seen to come late or
negligently to council next day, however he may have amused himself all
night.

The sight of the Bucentoro prepared for Gala, and the glories of Venice
upon Ascention-day, must now put an end to other observations. We had
the honour and comfort of seeing all from a galley belonging to a noble
Venetian Bragadin, whose civilities to us were singularly kind as well
as extremely polite. His attentions did not cease with the morning show,
which we shared in common with numbers of fashionable people that filled
his ship, and partook of his profuse elegant refreshments; but he
followed us after dinner to the house of our English friends, and took
six of us together in a gay bark, adorned with his arms, and rowed by
eight gondoliers in superb liveries, made up for the occasion to match
the boat, which was like them white, blue and silver, a flag of the same
colours flying from the stern, till we arrived at the Corso; so they
call the place of contention where the rowers exert their skill and
ingenuity; and numberless oars dashing the waves at once, make the only
agitation of which the sea seems capable; while ladies, now no longer
dressed in black, but ornamented with all their jewels, flowers, &c.
display their beauties unveiled upon the water; and covering the lagoons
with gaiety and splendour, bring to one's mind the games in Virgil, and
the galley of Cleopatra, by turns.

Never was locality so subservient to the purposes of pleasure as in this
city; where pleasure has set up her airy standard, and which on this
occasion looked like what one reads in poetry of Amphitrite's court; and
I ventured to tell a nobleman who was kindly attentive in shewing us
every possible politeness, that had Venus risen from the Adriatic sea,
she would scarcely have been tempted to quit it for Olympus. I was upon
the whole more struck with the evening's gaiety, than with the
magnificence in which the morning began to shine. The truth is, we had
been long prepared for seeing the Bucentoro; had heard and read every
thing I fancy that could have been thought or said upon the subject,
from the sullen Englishmen who rank it with a company's barge floating
up the Thames upon my Lord Mayor's day, to the old writers who compare
it with Theseus's ship; in imitation of which, it is said, this calls
itself the very identical vessel wherein Pope Alexander performed the
original ceremony in the year 1171; and though, perhaps, not a whole
plank of that old galley can be now remaining in this, so often
careened, repaired, and adorned since that time, I see nothing
ridiculous in declaring that it is the same ship; any more than in
saying the oak I planted an acorn thirty years ago, is the same tree I
saw spring up then a little twig, which not even a moderate sceptic will
deny; though he takes so much pains to persuade plain folks out of their
own existence, by laughing us out of the dull notion that he who dies a
withered old fellow at fourscore, should ever be considered as the same
person whom his mother brought forth a pretty little plump baby eighty
years before--when, says he cunningly, you are forced yourself to
confess, that his mother, who died four months afterwards, would not
know him again now; though while she lived, he was never out of her
arms.

    Vain wisdom all! and false Philosophy,
    Which finds no end, in wandering mazes lost.

And better is it to travel, as Dr. Johnson says Browne did, from one
place where he saw little, to another where he saw no more--than write
books to confound common sense, and make men raise up doubts of a Being
to whom they must one day give an account.

We will return to the Bucentoro, which, as its name imports, holds two
hundred people, and is heavy besides with statues, columns, &c. The top
covered with crimson velvet, and the sides enlivened by twenty-one oars
on each hand. Musical performers attend in another barge, while
foreigners in gilded pajots increase the general show. Mean time, the
vessel that contains the doge, &c. carries him slowly out to sea, where
in presence of his senators he drops a plain gold ring into the water,
with these words, _Desponfamus te mare, in fignum veri perpetuique
dominii_.[Footnote: We espouse thee, O sea! in sign of true and
perpetual dominion.]

Our weather was favourable, and the people all seemed happy: when the
ceremony is put off from day to day, it naturally damps their spirits,
and produces superstitious presages of an unlucky year: nor is that
strange, for the season of storms ought surely to be past in a climate
so celebrated for mildness and equanimity. The praises of Italian
weather, though wearisomely frequent among us, seem however much
confined to this island for aught I see; who am often tired with hearing
their complaints of their own sky, now that they are under it: always
too cold or too hot, or a seiroc wind, or a rainy day, or a hard frost,
_che gela fin ai pensieri_[Footnote: Which freezes even one's fancy.];
or something to murmur about, while their only great nuisances pass
unnoticed, the heaps of dirt, and crowds of beggars, who infest the
streets, and poison the pleasures of society. While ladies are eating
ice at a coffee-house door, while decent people are hearing mass at the
altar, while strangers are surveying the beauties of the place--no
peace, no enjoyment can one obtain for the beggars; numerous beyond
credibility, fancy and airy, and odd in their manners; and exhibiting
such various lamenesses and horrible deformities in their figure, that I
can sometimes hardly believe my eyes--but am willing to be told, what is
not very improbable, that many of them come from a great distance to
pass the season of ascension here at Venice. I never indeed saw any
thing so gently endured, which it appeared so little difficult to
remedy; but though I hope it would be hard to find a place where more
alms are asked, or less are given, than in Venice; yet I never saw
refusals so pleasingly softened, as by the manners of the high Italians
towards the low. Ladies in particular are so soft-mouthed, so tender in
replying to those who have their lot cast far below them, that one feels
one's own harsher disposition corrected by their sweetness; and when
they called my maid _sister_, in good time--pressing her hand with
affectionate kindness, it melted me; though I feared from time to time
there must be hypocrisy at bottom of such sugared words, till I caught a
lady of condition yesterday turning to the window, and praying fervently
for the girl's conversion to christianity, all from a tender and pious
emotion of her gentle heart: as notwithstanding their caresses, no man
is more firmly persuaded of a mathematical truth than they are of mine,
and my maid's living in a state of certain and eternal reprobation--_ma
fanno veramente vergogna a noi altri_[Footnote: But they really shame
_even us_.], say they, quite in the spirit of the old Romans, who
thought all nations _barbarous_ except their own.

A woman of quality, near whom I sate at the fine ball Bragadin made two
nights ago in honour of this gay season, enquired how I had passed the
morning. I named several churches I had looked into, particularly that
which they esteem beyond the rest as a favourite work of Palladio, and
called the Redentore. "You do very right," says she, "to look at our
churches, as you have none in England, I know--but then you have so
many other fine things--such charming _steel buttons_ for example;"
pressing my hand to shew that she meant no offence; for, added she, _chi
pensa d'una maniera, chi pensa d'un altra_[Footnote: One person is of
one mind you know, another of another.].

Here are many theatres, the worst infinitely superior to ours; the best,
as far below those of Milan and Turin: but then here are other
diversions, and every one's dependance for pleasure is not placed upon
the opera. They have now thrown up a sort of temporary wall of painted
canvass, in an oval form, within St. Mark's Place, profusely illuminated
round the new-formed walk, which is covered in at top, and adorned with
shops round the right hand side, with pillars to support the canopy; the
lamps, &c. on the left hand. This open Ranelagh, so suited to the
climate, is exceedingly pleasing:--here is room to sit, to chat, to
saunter up and down, from two o'clock in the morning, when the opera
ends, till a hot sun sends us all home to rest--for late hours must be
complied with at Venice, or you can have no diversion at all, as the
earliest Casino belonging to your soberest friends has not a candle
lighted in it till past midnight.

But I am called from my book to see the public library; not a large one
I find, but ornamented with pieces of sculpture, whose eminence has not,
I am sure, waited for my description: the Jupiter and Leda particularly,
said to be the work of Phidias, whose Ganymede in the same collection
they tell us is equally excellent. Having heard that Guarini's
manuscript of the Pastor Fido, written in his own hand, was safely kept
at this place, I asked for it, and was entertained to see his numberless
corrections and variations from the original thought, like those of
Pope's Homer preserved in the British Museum; some of which I copied
over for Doctor Johnson to print, at the time he published his Lives of
the English Poets. My curiosity led me to look in the Pastor Fido for
the famous passage of _Legge humana_, _inhumana_, _&c._ and it was
observable enough that he had written it three different ways before he
pitched on that peculiar expression which caused his book to be
prohibited. Seeing the manuscript I took notice, however, of the
beautiful penmanship with which it was written: our English hand-writing
cotemporary to his was coarse, if I recollect, and very angular;--but
_Italian hand_ was the first to become elegant, and still retains some
privileges amongst us. Once more, every thing small, and every thing
great, revived after the dark ages--in Italy.

Looking at the Mint was an hour's time spent with less amusement. The
depuration of gold may be performed many ways, and the proofs of its
purity given by various methods: I was gratified well enough upon the
whole however, in watching the neatness of their process, in weighing
the gold, &c. and keeping it more free from alloy than any other coin of
any other state:--a zecchine will bend between your fingers from the
malleability of the metal--we may try in vain at a guinea, or louis
d'or. The operation of separating silver ore from gold by the powers of
aqua fortis, precipitating the first-named metal by suspension of a
copper plate in the liquid, and called _quartation_; was I believe
wholly unknown to the ancients, who got much earlier at the art of
weighing gold in water, testified by the old story of _King Hiero's
crown_.

Talking of kings, and crowns, and gold, reminds me of my regret for not
seeing the treasure kept in St. Mark's church here, with the motto
engraven on the chest which contains it:

    Quando questo scrinio s'aprira,
    Tutto il mondo tremera[R].

[Footnote R:
    When this scrutoire shall open'd be,
    The world shall all with wonder flee.
]

Of this it was said in our Charles the First's time, that there was
enough in it to pay six kings' ransoms: when Pacheco, the Spanish
ambassador, hearing so much of it, asked in derision, If the chest had
any _bottom_? and being answered in the affirmative, made reply, That
_there_ was the difference between his master's treasures and those of
the Venetian Republic, for the mines of Mexico and Potosi had _no_
bottom.--Strange! if all these precious stones, metals, &c. have been
all spent since then, and nothing left except a few relics of no
intrinsic value.

It is well enough known, that in the year 1450, one of the natives of
the island of Candia, who have never been men of much character, made a
sort of mine, or airshaft, or rather perhaps a burrow, like those
constructed by rabbits, down which he went and got quite under the
church, stealing out gems, money, &c. to a vast amount; but being
discovered by the treachery of his companion, was caught and hanged
between the two columns that face the sea on the Piazzetta.

It strikes a person who has lived some months in other parts of Italy,
to see so very few clergymen at Venice, and none hardly who have much
the look or air of a man of fashion. Milan, though such heavy complaints
are daily made there of encroachments on church power and depredations
on church opulence, still swarms with ecclesiastics; and in an assembly
of thirty people, there are never fewer than ten or twelve at the very
least. But here it should seem as if the political cry of _fuori i
preti_[Footnote: Out with the clergy.], which is said loudly in the
council-chamber before any vote is suffered to pass into a law, were
carried in the conversation rooms too, for a priest is here less
frequent than a clergyman at London; and those one sees about, are
almost all ordinary men, decent and humble in their appearance, of a
bashful distant carriage, like the parson of the parish in North Wales,
or _le cure du village_ in the South of France; and seems no way related
to an _Abate of Milan or Turin_ still less to _Monsieur l' Abbe at
Paris_.

Though this Republic has long maintained a sort of independency from the
court of Rome, having shewn themselves weary of the Jesuits two hundred
years before any other potentate dismissed them; while many of the
Venetian populace followed them about, crying _Andate, andate, niente
pigliate, emai ritornate_[Footnote: Begone, begone; nothing take, nor
turn anon.]; and although there is a patriarch here who takes care of
church matters, and is attentive to keep his clergy from ever meddling
with or even mentioning affairs of state, as in such a case the Republic
would not scruple punishing them as laymen; yet has Venice kept, as they
call it, St. Peter's boat from sinking more than once, when she saw the
Pope's territories endangered, or his sovereignty insulted: nor is there
any city more eminent for the decency with which divine service is
administered, or for the devout and decorous behaviour of individuals
at the time any sacred office is performing. She has ever behaved like
a true Christian potentate, keeping her faith firm, and her honour
scrupulously clear, in all treaties and conventions with other
states--fewer instances being given of Venetian falsehood or treachery
towards neighbouring nations, than of any other European power,
excepting only Britain, her truly-beloved ally; with whom she never had
a difference, and whose cause was so warmly espoused last war by the
inhabitants of this friendly state, that numbers of young nobility were
willing to run a-volunteering in her defence, but that the laws of
Venice forbid her nobles ranging from home without leave given from the
state. It was therefore not an ill saying, though an old one perhaps,
that the government of Venice was rich and consolatory like its treacle,
being compounded nicely of all the other forms: a grain of monarchy, a
scruple of democracy, a dram of oligarchy, and an ounce of aristocracy;
as the _teriaca_ so much esteemed, is said to be a composition of the
four principal drugs--but can never be got genuine except _here_, at the
original _Dispensary_.

Indeed the longevity of this incomparable commonwealth is a certain
proof of its temperance, exercise, and cheerfulness, the great
preservatives in every body, _politic_ as well _natural_. Nor should the
love of peace be left out of her eulogium, who has so often reconciled
contending princes, that Thuanus gave her, some centuries ago, due
praise for her pacific disposition, so necessary to the health of a
commercial state, and called her city _civilis prudentiae officina_.

Another reason may be found for the long-continued prosperity of Venice,
in her constant adherence to a precept, the neglect of which must at
length shake, or rather loosen the foundations of every state; for it is
a maxim here, handed down from generation to generation, that change
breeds more mischief from its novelty, than advantage from its
utility:--quoting the axiom in Latin, it runs thus: _Ipsa mutatio
consuetudinis magis perturbat novitate, quam adjuvat utilitate_. And
when Henry the Fourth of France solicited the abrogation of one of the
Senate's decrees, her ambassador replied, That _li decreti di Venezia
rassomigli avano poca i Gridi di Parigi_[Footnote: The decrees of Venice
little resemble the _edicts_ of Paris.], meaning the declaratory
publications of the Grand Monarque,--proclaimed to-day perhaps, repealed
to-morrow--"for Sire," added he, "our senate deliberates long before it
decrees, but what is once decreed there is seldom or ever recalled."

The patriotism inherent in the breads of individuals makes another
strong cause of this state's exemption from decay: they say themselves,
that the soul of old Rome has transmigrated to Venice, and that every
galley which goes into action considers itself as charged with the fate
of the commonwealth. _Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori_, seems a
sentence grown obsolete in other Italian states, but is still in full
force here; and I doubt not but the high-born and high-fouled ladies of
this day, would willingly, as did their generous ancestors in 1600, part
with their rings, bracelets, every ornament, to make ropes for those
ships which defend their dearer country.

The perpetual state of warfare maintained by this nation against the
Turks, has never lessened nor cooled: yet have their Mahometan
neighbours and natural enemies no perfidy to charge them with in the
time of peace or of hostility: nor can Venice be charged with the mean
vice of sheltering a desire of depredation, under the hypocritical cant
of protecting that religion which teaches universal benevolence and
charity to all mankind. Their vicinity to Turkey has, however, made them
contract some similarity of manners; for what, except being imbued with
Turkish notions, can account for the people's rage here, young and old,
rich and poor, to pour down such quantities of coffee? I have already
had seven cups to-day, and feel frighted lest we should some of us be
killed with so strange an abuse of it. On the opposite shore, across the
Adriatic, opium is taken to counteract its effects; but these dear
Venetians have no notion of sleep being necessary to their existence I
believe, as some or other of them seem constantly in motion; and there
is really no hour of the four and twenty in which the town seems
perfectly still and quiet; no moment in which it can be said, that

    Night! fable goddess! from her ebon throne,
    In rayless majesty here stretches forth
    Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumb'ring world.

Accordingly I never did meet with any description of Night in the
Venetian poets, so common with other authors; and I am persuaded if one
were to live here (which could not be _long_ I think) he should forget
the use of sleep; for what with the market folks bringing up the boats
from Terra Firma loaded with every produce of nature, neatly arranged in
these flat-bottomed conveyances, the coming up of which begins about
three o'clock in a morning and ends about six;--the Gondoliers rowing
home their masters and ladies about that hour, and so on till
eight;--the common business of the town, which it is then time to
begin;--the state affairs and _pregai_, which often like our House of
Commons sit late, and detain many gentlemen from the circles of morning
amusements--that I find very entertaining;--particularly the street
orators and mountebanks in Piazza St. Marco;--the shops and stalls where
chickens, ducks, &c. are sold by auction, comically enough, to the
highest bidder;--a flourishing fellow, with a hammer in his hand,
shining away in character of auctioneer;--the crowds which fill the
courts of judicature, when any cause of consequence is to be tried;--the
clamorous voices, keen observations, poignant sarcasms, and acute
contentions carried on by the advocates, who seem more awake, or in
their own phrase _svelti_ than all the rest:--all these things take up
so much time, that twenty-four hours do not suffice for the business and
diversions of Venice; where dinner must be eaten as in other places,
though I can scarcely find a minute to spare for it, while such fish
wait one's knife and fork as I most certainly did never see before, and
as I suppose are not to be seen in any sea but this, in such perfection.
Fresh sturgeon, _ton_ as they call it, and fresh anchovies, large as
herrings, and dressed like sprats in London, incomparable; turbots, like
those of Torbay exactly, and plentiful as there, with enormous pipers,
are what one principally eats here. The fried liver, without which an
Italian can hardly go on from day to day, is so charmingly dressed at
Milan, that I grew to like it as well as they; but at Venice it is sad
stuff, and they call it _fegao_.

Well! the ladies, who never hardly dine at all, rise about seven in the
evening, when the gentlemen are just got ready to attend them; and sit
sipping their chocolate on a chair at the coffee-house door with great
tranquillity, chatting over the common topics of the times: nor do they
appear half so shy of each other as the Milanese ladies, who seldom
seem to have any pleasure in the soft converse of a female friend. But
though certainly no women can be more charming than these Venetian
dames, they have forgotten the old mythological fable, _that the
youngest of the Graces was married to Sleep._ By which it was intended
we should consider that state as necessary to the reparation not only of
beauty but of youth, and every power of pleasing.

There are men here however who, because they are not quite in the gay
world, keep themselves awake whole nights at study; and much has been
told me, of a collection of books belonging to a private scholar,
Pinelli, who goes very little out, as worthy attentive examination.

All literary topics are pleasingly discussed at Quirini's Casino, where
every thing may be learned by the conversation of the company, as Doctor
Johnson said of his literary Club; but more agreeably, because women are
always half the number of persons admitted here.

One evening our society was amused by the entrance of a foreign
nobleman, exactly what we should in London emphatically call a
_Character_,--learned, loud, and overbearing; though of a carriage that
impressed great esteem. I have not often listened to so well-furnished a
talker; nor one more capable of giving great information. He had seen
the Pyramids of Egypt, he told us; had climbed Mount Horeb, and visited
Damascus; but possessed the art of detaining our attention more on
himself, than on the things or places he harangued about; for
conversation that can scarcely be called, where one man holds the
company suspended on his account of matters pompously though
instructively related. He staid here a very little while among us; is a
native of France, a grandee of Spain, a man of uncommon talents, and a
traveller. I should be sorry never to meet him more.

The Abate Arteaga, a Spanish ecclesiastic of the same agreeable coterie,
seemed of a very different and far more pleasing character;--full of
general knowledge, eminent in particular scholarship, elegant in his
sentiments, and sound in his learning. I liked his company exceedingly,
and respected his opinions.

Zingarelli, the great musical composer, was another occasional member
of this charming society: his wit and repartie are famous, and his bons
mots are repeated wherever one runs to. I cannot translate any of them,
but will write one down, which will make such of my readers laugh as
understand Italian.--The Emperor was at Milan, and asked Zingarelli his
opinion of a favourite singer? "_Io penso maesta che non e cattivo
suddito del principi,_" replied the master, "_quantunque fara gran
nemico di giove._" "How so?" enquired the King.--"_Maesta,_" answered
our lively Neapolitan, "_ella sa naturalmente che Giove_ tuona, _ma
questo_ stuona." This we see at once was _humour_ not _wit_; and sallies
of humour are scarcely ever capable of translation.

An odd thing to which I was this morning witness, has called my thoughts
away to a curious train of reflections upon the animal race; and how far
they may be made companionable and intelligent. The famous Ferdinand
Bertoni, so well known in London by his long residence among us, and
from the undisputed merit of his compositions, now inhabits this his
native city, and being fond of _dumb creatures_, as we call them, took
to petting a pigeon, one of the few animals which can live at Venice,
where, as I observed, scarcely any quadrupeds can be admitted, or would
exist with any degree of comfort to themselves. This creature has,
however, by keeping his master company, I trust, obtained so perfect an
ear and taste for music, that no one who sees his behaviour, can doubt
for a moment of the pleasure he takes in hearing Mr. Bertoni play and
sing: for as soon as he sits down to the instrument, Columbo begins
shaking his wings, perches on the piano-forte, and expresses the most
indubitable emotions of delight. If however he or any one else strike a
note false, or make any kind of discord upon the keys, the dove never
fails to shew evident tokens of anger and distress; and if teized too
long, grows quite enraged; pecking the offender's legs and fingers in
such a manner, as to leave nothing less doubtful than the sincerity of
his resentment. Signora Cecilia Giuliani, a scholar of Bertoni's, who
has received some overtures from the London theatre lately, will, if she
ever arrives there, bear testimony to the truth of an assertion very
difficult to believe, and to which I should hardly myself give credit,
were I not witness to it every morning that I chuse to call and confirm
my own belief. A friend present protested he should feel afraid to touch
the harpsichord before so nice a critic; and though we all laughed at
the assertion, Bertoni declared he never knew the bird's judgment fail;
and that he often kept him out of the room, for fear of his affronting
of tormenting those who came to take musical instructions. With regard
to other actions of life, I saw nothing particular in the pigeon, but
his tameness, and strong attachment to his master: for though never
winged, and only clipped a very little, he never seeks to range away
from the house or quit his master's service, any more than the dove of
Anacreon:

    While his better lot bestows
    Sweet repast and soft repose;
    And when feast and frolic tire,
    Drops asleep upon his lyre.

All the difficulty will be indeed for us _other_ two-legged creatures to
leave the sweet societies of charming Venice; but they begin to grow
fatiguing now, as the weather increases in warmth.

I do think the Turkish sailor gave an admirable account of a carnival,
when he told his Mahometan friends at his return, That those poor
Christians were all disordered in their senses, and nearly in a state of
actual madness, while he remained among them, till one day, on a sudden,
they luckily found out a certain grey powder that cured such symptoms;
and laying it on their heads one Wednesday morning, the wits of all the
inhabitants were happily restored at _a stroke_: the people grew sober,
quiet, and composed; and went about their business just like other
folks. He meant the ashes strewed on the heads of all one meets in the
streets through many a Catholic country; when all masquerading,
money-making, &c. subside for forty days, and give, from the force of
the contrast, a greater appearance of devotion and decorous behaviour in
Venice, than almost any where else during Lent.

I do not for my own part think well of all that violence, that strong
light and shadow in matters of religion; which requires rather an even
tenour of good works, proceeding from sound faith, than any of these
staring testimonials of repentance, as if it were a work to be done
_once a year only_. But neither do I think any Christian has a right to
condemn another for his opinions or practice; when St. Paul expressly
says, that "_One man esteemeth one day above another, another man
esteemeth every day alike; let every man be fully persuaded in his own
mind. But who art thou, that judgest another man's servant[Footnote:
Romans, chap. xiv.]?_"

The Venetians, to confess the truth, are not quite so strenuously bent
on the unattainable felicity of finding every man in the same mind, as
others of the Italians are; and one great reason why they are more gay
and less malignant, have fewer strong prejudices than others of their
countrymen, is merely because they are happier. Most of the second rank,
and I believe _all_ of the first rank among them, have some share in
governing the rest; it is therefore necessary to exclude ignorance, and
natural to encourage social pleasures. Each individual feels his own
importance, and scorns to contribute to the degradation of the whole, by
indulging a gross depravity of manners, or at least of principles. Every
person listed one degree from the lowest, finds it his interest as well
as duty to love his country, and lend his little support to the general
fabric of a state they all know how to respect; while the very vulgar
willingly perform the condition exacted, and punctually pay obedience
for protection. They have an unlimited confidence in their rulers, who
live amongst them; and can desire only their utmost good. _How_ they are
governed, comes seldom into their heads to enquire; "_Che ne pensa
lu_[Footnote: Let _him_ look to that.]," says a low Venetian, if you ask
him, and humourously points at a Clarissimo passing by while you talk.
They have indeed all the reason to be certain, that where the power is
divided among such numbers, one will be sure to counteract another if
mischief towards the whole be intended.

Of all aristocracies surely this is the most rationally and happily, as
well as most respectably founded; for though one's heart revolts
against the names of Baron and Vassal, while the petty tyrants live
scattered far from each other, as in Poland, Russia, and many parts of
Germany, like lions in the desert, or eagles in the rock, secure in
their distance from equals or superiors; yet _here_ at Venice, where
every nobleman is a baron, and all together inhabit one city, no subject
can suffer from the tyranny of the rest, though all may benefit from the
general protection: as each is separately in awe of his neighbour, and
desires to secure his client's tenderness by indulgence, instead of
wishing to disgust him by oppression: unlike the state so powerfully
delineated by our incomparable poet in his Paulina,

    Where dwelt in haughty wretchedness a lord,
    Whose rage was justice, and whose law his word:
    Who saw unmov'd the vassal perish near,
    The widow's anguish, and the orphan's tear;
    Insensible to pity--stern he stood,
    Like some rude rock amid the Caspian flood,
    Where shipwreck'd sailors unassisted lie,
    And as they curse its barren bosom, die.

And it is, I trust, for no deeper reason that the subjects of this
republic resident in the capital, are less savage and more happy than
those who live upon the Terra Firma; where many outrages are still
committed, disgraceful to the state, from the mere facility offenders
find, either in escaping to the dominion of other princes, or of finding
shelter at home from the madly-bestowed protection these old barons on
the Continent cease not yet to give, to ruffians who profess their
service, and acknowledge dependence upon _them_. In the _town_, however,
little is known of these enormities, and less is talked on; and what
information has come to my ears of the murders done at Brescia and
Bergamo, was given me at _Milan_; where Blainville's accounts of that
country, though written so long ago, did not fail to receive
confirmation from the lips of those who knew perfectly well what they
were talking about. And I am told that _Labbia_, Giovanni Labbia, the
new Podesta sent to Brescia, has worked wonderful reformation among the
inhabitants of that territory; where I am ashamed to relate the
computation of subjects lost to the state, by being killed in cold blood
during the years 1780 and 1781.

The following sonnet, addressed to the new Magistrate, by the elegant
and learned Abbe Bettolini, will entertain such of my readers as
understand Italian:

    No, Brenne, il popol tuo non e spietato,
      Colpa non e di clima, o fuol nemico:
      Ma gli inulti delitti, e'l vezzo antico
      D'impune andar coi ferro e fuoco a lato,

    Ira noi finor nudriro un branco irato
      D'Orsi e di lupi, il malaccorto amico
      Ti svenava un fellon sgherro mendico,
      E per cauto timor n'era onorato.

    Al primiero spuntar d'un fausto lume
      Tutto cangio: curvansi in falci i teh,
      Mille Pluto perde vittime usate.

    Viva l'Eroe, il comun padre, il nume
      Gridan le gente a si bei di ferbate.
      E sia che ardisca dir che siam crudele.

_Imitation_.

    No, Brennus, no longer thy sons shall retain
    Of their founder ferocious, th'original stain;
    It cannot be natural cruelty sure,
    The reproaches for which from all men we endure;
    Nor climate nor soil shall henceforth bear the blame,
    'Tis custom alone, and that custom our shame:
    While arm'd at all points men were suffer'd to rove,
    And brandish the steel in defence of their love;
    What wonder that conduct or caution should fail,
    And horrid Lycanthropy's terrors prevail?
    Now justice resumes her insignia, we find
    New light breaking in on each nebulous mind;
    While commission'd from Heaven, a parent, a friend
    Sees our swords at his nod into reaping-hooks bend,
    And souls snatch'd from death round the hero attend.

From these verses, written by a native of Brescia, one may see how
matters stood there very, _very_ little while ago: but here at Venice
the people are of a particularly sweet and gentle disposition,
good-humoured with each other, and kind to strangers; little disposed to
public affrays (which would indeed be punished and put a sudden end to
in an instant), nor yet to any secret or hidden treachery. They watch
the hour of a Regatta with impatience, to make some merit with the woman
of their choice, and boast of their families who have won in the manly
contest forty or fifty years ago, perhaps when honoured with the badge
and livery of some noble house; for here almost every thing is
hereditary, as in England almost every thing is elective; nor had I an
idea how much state affairs influence the private life of individuals in
a country, till I left trusting to books, and looked a little about me.
The low Venetian, however, knows that he works for the commonwealth,
and is happy; for things go round, says he, _Il Turco magna St. Marco;
St. Marco magna mi, mi magna ti, e ti tu magna un'altro_[S].

[Footnote S: The Turk feeds on St. Mark, St. Mark devours me; I eat
thee, neighbour, and thou subsistest on somebody else.]

Apropos to this custom of calling Venice (when they speak of it) San
Marco; I heard so comical a story yesterday that I cannot refuse the
pleasure of inserting it; and if my readers do not find it as pleasant
as I did, they may certainly leave it out, without the smallest
prejudice either to the book, the author, or themselves.

The procurator Tron was at Padua, it seems, and had a fancy to drive
forward to Vicenza that afternoon, but being particularly fond of a
favourite pair of horses which drew his chariot that day, would by no
means venture if it happened to rain; and took the trouble to enquire of
Abate Toaldo, "Whether he thought such a thing likely to happen, from
the appearance of the sky?" The professor, not knowing why the question
was asked, said, "he rather thought it would _not_ rain for four hours
at most." In consequence of this information our senator ordered his
equipage directly, got into it, and bid the driver make haste to
Vicenza: but before he was half-way on his journey, such torrents came
down from a black cloud that burst directly over their heads, that his
horses were drenched in wet, and their mortified master turned
immediately back to Padua, that they might suffer no further
inconvenience. To pass away the evening, which he did not mean to have
spent there, and to quiet his agitated spirits by thinking on something
else, he walked under the Portico to a neighbouring coffee-house, where
fate the Abate Toaldo in company of a few friends; wholly unconscious
that he had been the cause of vexing the Procuratore; who, after a short
pause, cried out, in a true Venetian spirit of anger and humour oddly
blended together, "_Mi dica Signor Professore Toaldo, chi e il piu gran
minchion di tutti i fanti in Paradiso?_" Pray tell me Doctor (we should
say), who is the greatest blockhead among all the saints of Heaven? The
Abbe looked astonished, but hearing the question repeated in a more
peevish accent still, replied gravely, "_Eccelenza non fon fatto io per
rispondere a tale dimande_"--My lord, I have no answer ready for such
extraordinary questions. Why then, replies the Procuratore Tron, I will
answer this question myself.--_St. Marco ved'ella--"e'l vero minchion:
mentre mantiene tanti professori per studiare (che so to mi) delle
stelle; roba astronomica che non vale un fico; e loro non sanno dirli
nemmeno s'ha da piovere o no._"--"Why it is St. Mark, do you see, that
is the true blockhead and dupe, in keeping so many professors to study
the stars and stuff; when with all their astronomy they cannot tell him
whether it will rain or no."

Well, _pax tibi, Marce!_ I see that I have said more about Venice, where
I have lived five weeks, than about Milan, where I stayed five months;
but

    Si placeat varios hominum cognoscere vultus,
    Area longa patet, sancto contermina Marco,
    Celsus ubi Adriacas, Venetus Leo despicit undas,
    Hic circum gentes cunctis e partibus orbis,
    AEthiopes, Turcos, Slavos, Arabesque, Syrosque,
    Inveniesque Cypri, Cretae, Macedumque colonos,
    Innumerosque alios varia regione profectos:
    Saepe etiam nec visa prius, nec cognita cernes,
    Quae si cuncta velim tenui describere versu,
    Heic omnes citius nautas celeresque Phaselos,
    Et simul Adriaci pisces numerabo profundi.

_Imitated loosely_.

    If change of faces please your roving sight,
    Or various characters your mind delight,
    To gay St. Mark's with eagerness repair;
    For curiosity may pasture there.
    Venetia's lion bending o'er the waves,
    There sees reflected--tyrants, freemen, slaves.
    The swarthy Moor, the soft Circassian dame,
    The British sailor not unknown to fame;
    Innumerous nations crowd the lofty door,
    Innumerous footsteps print the sandy shore;
    While verse might easier name the scaly tribe,      }
    That in her seas their nourishment imbibe,          }
    Than Venice and her various charms describe.        }

It is really pity ever to quit the sweet seducements of a place so
pleasing; which attracts the inclination and flatters the vanity of one,
who, like myself, has received the most polite attentions, and been
diverted with every amusement that could be devised. Kind, friendly,
lovely Venetians! who appear to feel real fondness for the inhabitants
of Great Britain, while Cavalier Pindemonte writes such verses in its
praise. Yet _must_ the journey go forward, no staying to pick every
flower upon the road.

On Saturday next then am I to forsake--but I hope not for ever--this
gay, this gallant city, so often described, so certainly admired; seen
with rapture, quitted with regret: seat of enchantment! head-quarters of
pleasure, farewell!

    Leave us as we ought to be,
    Leave the Britons rough and free.

It was on the twenty-first of May then that we returned up the Brenta in
a barge to _Padua_, stopping from time to time to give refreshment to
our conductors and their horse, which draws on the side, as one sees
them at Richmond; where the banks are scarcely more beautifully adorned
by art, than here by nature; though the Brenta is a much narrower river
than the Thames at Richmond, and its villas, so justly celebrated, far
less frequent. The sublimity of their architecture however, the
magnificence of their orangeries, the happy construction of the cool
arcades, and general air of festivity which breathes upon the banks of
this truly _wizard stream_, planted with _dancing_, not _weeping_
willows, to which on a bright evening the lads and lasses run for
shelter from the sun beams,

    Et fugit ad salices, et se cupit ante videri[T];


[Footnote T:
    While tripping to the wood my wanton hies,
    She wishes to be seen before she flies.
]


are I suppose peculiar to itself, and best described by Monsieur de
Voltaire, whose Pococurante the Venetian senator in Candide that
possesses all delights in his villa upon the banks of the Brenta, is a
very lively portrait, and would be natural too; but that Voltaire, as a
Frenchman, could not forbear making his character speak in a very
unItalian manner, boasting of his felicity in a style they never use,
for they are really no puffers, no vaunters of that which they possess;
make no disgraceful comparisons between their own rarities and the want
of them in other countries, nor offend you as the French do, with false
pity and hateful consolations.

If any thing in England seem to excite their wonder and ill-placed
compassion, it is our coal fires, which they persist in thinking
strangely unwholesome--and a melancholy proof that we are grievously
devoid of wood, before we can prevail upon ourselves to dig the bowels
of old earth for fewel, at the hazard of our precious health, if not of
its certain loss; nor could I convince the wisest man I tried at, that
wood burned to chark is a real poison, while it would be difficult by
any process of chemistry to force much evil out of coal. They are
steadily of opinion, that consumptions are occasioned by these fires,
and that all the subjects of Great Britain are consumptively disposed,
merely because those who are so, go into Italy for change of air: though
I never heard that the wood smoke helped their breath, or a brazierfull
of ashes under the table their appetite. Mean time, whoever seeks to
convince instead of persuade an Italian, will find he has been employed
in a Sisyphean labour; the stone may roll to the top, but is sure to
return, and rest at his feet who had courage to try the experiment.
Logic is a science they love not, and I think steadily refuse to
cultivate; nor is argument a style of conversation they naturally
affect--as Lady Macbeth says, "_Question enrageth him_;" and the
dialogues of Socrates would to them be as disgusting as the violence of
Xantippe.

Well, here we are at Padua again! where I will run, and see once more
the places I was before so pleased with. The beautiful church of Santa
Giustina, the ancient church adorned by Cimabue, Giotto, &c. where you
fancy yourself on a sudden transported to Dante's Paradiso, and with for
Barry the painter, to point your admiration of its sublime and
extraordinary merits; but not the shrine of St. Anthony, or the tomb of
Antenor, one rich with gold, the other venerable with rust, can keep my
attention fixed on _them_, while an Italian _May_ offers to every sense,
the sweets of nature in elegant perfection. One view of a smiling
landschape, lively in verdure, enamelled with flowers, and exhilarating
with the sound of music under every tree,

    Where many a youth and many a maid
    Dances in the chequer'd shade;
    And young and old come forth to play,
    On a sun-shine holiday;

drives Palladio and Sansovino from one's head; and leaves nothing very
strongly impressed upon one's heart but the recollection of kindness
received and esteem reciprocated. Those pleasures have indeed pursued
me hither; the amiable Countess Ferris has not forgotten us; her
attentions are numerous, tender, and polite. I went to the play with
her, where I was unlucky enough to miss the representation of Romeo and
Juliet, which was acted the night before with great applause, under the
name of _Tragedia Veronese_. Monsieur de Voltaire was then premature in
his declarations, that Shakespear was unknown, or known only to be
censured, except in his native country. Count Kinigl at Milan took
occasion to tell me that they acted Hamlet and Lear when he was last at
Vienna; and I know not how it is, but to an English traveller each place
presents ideas originally suggested by Shakespear, of whom nature and
truth are the perpetual mirrors: other authors remind one of things
which one has seen in life--but the scenes of life itself remind one of
Shakespear. When I first looked on the Rialto, with what immediate
images did it supply me? Oh, the old long-cherished images of the
pensive merchant, the generous friend, the gay companion, and their
final triumph over the practices of a cruel Jew. Anthonio, Gratiano,
met me at every turn; and when I confessed some of these feelings before
the professor of natural history here, who had spent some time in
London; he observed, that no native of our island could sit three hours,
and not speak of Shakespear: he added many kind expressions of partial
liking to our nation, and our poets: and l'Abate Cesarotti
good-humouredly confessed his little skill in the English language when
he translated their so much-admired Ossian; but he had studied it pretty
hard since, he said, and his version of Gray's Elegy is charming.

Gray and Young are the favourite writers among us, as far as I have yet
heard them talked over upon the continent; the first has secured them by
his residence at Florence, and his Latin verses I believe; the second,
by his piety and brilliant thoughts. Even Romanists are disposed to
think dear Dr. Young very _near_ to Christianity--an idea which must
either make one laugh or cry, while

    Sweet peace, and heavenly hope, and humble joy,
    Divinely beam on _his_ exalted soul.

But I must tell what I have been seeing at the theatre, and should tell
it much better had not the charms of Countess Ferris's conversation
engaged my mind, which would otherwise perhaps have been more seized on
than it _was_, by the sight of an old pantomime, or wretched farce (for
there was speaking in it, I remember), exploded long since from our very
lowest places of diversion, and now exhibited here at Padua before a
very polite and a very literary audience; and in a better theatre by far
than our newly-adorned opera-house in the Hay-market. Its subject was no
other than the birth of Harlequin; but the place and circumstances
combined to make me look on it in a light which shewed it to uncommon
advantage. The storm, for example, the thunder, darkness, &c. which is
so solemnly made to precede an incantation, apparently not meant to be
ridiculous, after which, a huge egg is somehow miraculously produced
upon the stage, put me in mind of the very old mythologists, who thus
desired to represent the chaotic state of things, when Night, Ocean, and
Tartarus disputed in perpetual confusion; till _Love_ and _Music_
separated the elements, and as Dryden says,

    Then hot and cold, and moist and dry,
    In order to their stations leap,
      And music's power obey.

For _Cupid_, advancing to a slow tune, steadies with his wand the
rolling mass upon the stage, that then begins to teem with its _motley
inhabitant_, and just representative of the _created world_, active,
wicked, gay, amusing, which gains your heart, but never your esteem:
tricking, shifting, and worthless as it is--but after all its _frisks_,
all its _escapes_, is condemned at last to burn in _fire, and pass
entirely away_. Such was, I trust, the idea of the person, whoever he
was, that had the honour first to compose this curious exhibition, and
model this mythological device into a pantomime! for the _mundane_, or
as Proclus calls it, the _orphick_ egg, is possibly the earliest of all
methods taken to explain the rise, progress, and final conclusion of our
earth and atmosphere; and was the original _theory_ brought from Egypt
into Greece by Orpheus. Nor has that prodigious genius, Dr. Thomas
Burnet, scorned to adopt it seriously in his _Telluris Theoria sacra_,
written less than a century ago, adapting it with wonderful ingenuity
to the Christian system and Mosaical account of things; to which it
certainly does accommodate itself the better, as the form of an egg well
resembles that of our habitable globe; and the internal divisions, our
four elements, leaving the central fire for the yolk. I therefore
regarded our pantomime here at Padua with a degree of reverence I should
have found difficult to excite in myself at Sadler's Wells; where ideas
of antiquity would have been little likely to cross my fancy. Sure I am,
however, that the original inventor of this old pantomime had his head
very full at the time of some very ancient learning.

Now then I must leave this lovely state of Venice, where if the paupers
in every town of it did not crowd about one, tormenting passengers with
unextinguishable clamour, and surrounding them with sights of horror
unfit to be surveyed by any eyes except those of the surgeon, who should
alleviate their anguish, or at least conceal their truly unspeakable
distresses--one should break one's heart almost at the thoughts of
quitting people who show such tenderness towards their friends, that
less than ocular conviction would scarce persuade me to believe such
wandering misery could remain disregarded among the most amiable and
pleasing people in the world. His excellency Bragadin half promised me
that some steps should be taken at Venice at least, to remove a nuisance
so disgraceful; and said, that when I came again, I should walk about
the town in white sattin slippers, and never see a beggar from one end
of it to the other.

On the twenty-sixth of May then, with the senator Quirini's letters to
Corilla, with the Countess of Starenberg's letters to some Tuscan
friends of her's; and with the light of a full moon, if we should want
it, we set out again in quest of new adventures, and mean to sleep this
night under the pope's protection:--may God but grant us his!



FERRERA.


We have crossed the Po, which I expected to have found more magnificent,
considering the respectable state I left it in at Cremona; but scarcely
any thing answers that expectation which fancy has long been fermenting
in one's mind.

I took a young woman once with me to the coast of Sussex, who, at
twenty-seven years old and a native of England, had never seen the sea;
nor any thing else indeed ten miles out of London:--And well, child!
said I, are not you much surprised?--"It is a fine sight, to be sure,"
replied she coldly, "but,"--but what? you are not disappointed are
you?--"No, not disappointed, but it is not quite what I expected when I
saw the ocean." Tell me then, pray good girl, and tell me quickly, what
did you expect to see? "_Why I expected_," with a hesitating accent, "_I
expected to see a great deal of water_." This answer set me _then_ into
a fit of laughter, but I have _now_ found out that I am not a whit
wiser than Peggy: for what did I figure to myself that I should find the
Po? only a great deal of water to be sure; and a very great deal of
water it certainly is, and much more, God knows, than I ever saw before,
except between the shores of Calais and Dover; yet I did feel something
like disappointment too; when my imagination wandering over all that the
poets had said about it, and finding earth too little to contain their
fables, recollected that they had thought Eridanus worthy of a place
among the constellations, I wished to see such a river as was worthy all
these praises, and even then, says I,

    O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow.
    And trees weep amber on the banks of Po.

But are we sure after all it was upon the _banks_ these trees, not now
existing, were ever to be found? they grew in the Electrides if I
remember right, and even there Lucian laughingly said, that he spread
his garments in vain to catch the valuable distillation which poetry had
taught him to expect; and Strabo (worse news still!) said that there
were no Electrides neither; so as we knew before--fiction is false: and
had I not discovered it by any other means, I might have recollected a
comical contest enough between a literary lady once, and Doctor Johnson,
to which I was myself a witness;--when she, maintaining the happiness
and purity of a country life and rural manners, with her best eloquence,
and she had a great deal; added as corroborative and almost
incontestable authority, that the _Poets_ said so: "and didst thou not
know then," replied he, my darling dear, that the _Poets lye_?

When they tell us, however, that great rivers have horns, which twisted
off become cornua copiae, dispensing pleasure and plenty, they entertain
us it must be confessed; and never was allegory more nearly allied with
truth, than in the lines of Virgil;

    Gemina auratus taurino cornua vultu,
    Eridanus, quo non alius per pinguia culta,
    In mare purpureuin violentior influit amnis[U];

[Footnote U:
    Whence bull-fac'd, so adorn'd with gilded horns,
    Than whom no river through such level meads,
    Down to the sea in swifter torrents speeds.
]

so accurately translated by Doctor Warton, who would not reject the
epithet _bull-faced_, because he knew it was given in imitation of the
Thessalian river Achelous, that fought for Dejanira; and Servius, who
makes him father to the Syrens, says that many streams, in compliment to
this original one, were represented with horns, because of their winding
course. Whether Monsieur Varillas, or our immortal Addison, mention
their being so perpetuated on medals now existing, I know not; but in
this land of rarities we shall soon hear or see.

Mean time let us leave looking for these weeping Heliades, and enquire
what became of the Swan, that poor Phaeton's friend and cousin turned
into, for very grief and fear at seeing him tumble in the water. For my
part I believe that not only now he

    Eligit contraria flumina flammis,

but that the whole country is grown disagreeably hot to him, and the
sight of the sun's chariot so near frightens him still; for he certainly
lives more to his taste, and sings sweeter I believe on the banks of the
Thames, than in Italy, where we have never yet seen but _one_; and that
was kept in a small marble bason of water at the Durazzo palace at
Genoa, and seemed miserably out of condition. I enquired why they gave
him no companion? and received for answer, "That it would be wholly
useless, as they were creatures who never bred _out if their own
country_." But any reply serves any common Italian, who is little
disposed to investigate matters; and if you tease him with too much
ratiocination, is apt to cry out, "_Cosa serve sosistieare cosi? ci fara
andare tutti matti_[V]." They have indeed so many external amusements in
the mere face of the country, that one is better inclined to pardon
_them_, than one would be to forgive inhabitants of less happy climates,
should they suffer _their_ intellectual powers to pine for want of
exercise, not food: for here is enough to think upon, God knows, were
they disposed so to employ their time; where one may justly affirm that,

[Footnote V: What signifies all this minuteness of inquiry?--it will
drive us mad.]

    On every thorn delightful wisdom grows,
    And in each rill, some sweet instruction flows;
    But some untaught o'erhear the murmuring rill,
    In spite of sacred leisure--blockheads still.

The road from Padua hither is not a good one; but so adorned, one cares
not much whether it is good or no: so sweetly are the mulberry-trees
planted on each side, with vines richly festooning up and down them, as
if for the decoration of a dance at the opera. One really expects the
flower-girls with baskets, or garlands, and scarcely can persuade one's
self that all is real.

Never sure was any thing more rejoicing to the heart, than this lovely
season in this lovely country. The city of Ferrara too is a fine one;
Ferrara _la civile_, the Italians call it, but it seems rather to merit
the epithet _solenne_; so stately are its buildings, so wide and uniform
its streets. My pen was just upon the point of praising its cleanliness
too, till I reflected there was nobody to dirty it. I looked half an
hour before I could find one beggar, a bad account of poor Ferrara; but
it brought to my mind how unreasonably my daughter and myself had
laughed seven years ago, at reading in an extract from some of the
foreign gazettes, how the famous Improvisatore Talassi, who was in
England about the year 1770, and entertained with his justly-admired
talents the literati at London; had published an account of his visit to
Mr. Thrale, at a villa eight miles from Westminster-bridge, during that
time, when he had the good fortune, he said, to meet many celebrated
characters at his country-seat; and the mortification which nearly
overbalanced it, to miss seeing the immortal Garrick then confined by
illness. In all this, however, there was nothing ridiculous; but we
fancied his description of Streatham village truly so; when we read that
he called it _Luogo assai popolato ed ameno_[Footnote: A populous and
delightful place.], an expression apparently pompous, and inadequate to
the subject: but the jest disappeared when I got into _his_ town; a
place which perhaps may be said to possess every other excellence but
that of being _popolato ed ameno_; and I sincerely believe that no
Ferrara-man could have missed making the same or a like observation; as
in this finely-constructed city, the grass literally grows in the
street; nor do I hear that the state of the air and water is such as is
likely to tempt new inhabitants. How much then, and how reasonably must
he have wondered, and how easily must he have been led to express his
wonder, at seeing a village no bigger than that of Streatham, contain a
number of people equal, as I doubt not but it does, to all the dwellers
in Ferrara!

Mr. Talassi is reckoned in his own country a man of great genius; in
ours he was, as I recollect, received with much attention, as a person
able and willing to give us demonstration that improviso verses might be
made, and sung extemporaneously to some well-known tune, generally one
which admits of and requires very long lines; that so alternate rhymes
may not be improper, as they give more time to think forward, and gain a
moment for composition. Of this power, many, till they saw it done, did
not believe the existence; and many, after they had seen it done,
persisted in _saying_, perhaps in _thinking_, that it could be done only
in Italian. I cannot however believe that they possess any exclusive
privileges or supernatural gifts; though it will be hard to find one who
thinks better of them than I do: but Spaniards can sing sequedillas
under their mistresses window well enough; and our Welch people can
make the harper sit down in the church-yard after service is over, and
placing themselves round him, command the instrument to go over some old
song-tune: when having listened a while, one of the company forms a
stanza of verses, which run to it in well-adapted measure; and as he
ends, another begins: continuing the tale, or retorting the satire,
according to the style in which the first began it. All this too in a
language less perhaps than any other melodious to the ear, though Howell
found out a resemblance between their prosody and that of the Italian
writer in early days, when they held agnominations, or the inforcement
of consonant words and syllables one upon the other, to be elegant in a
more eminent degree than they do now. For example, in Welch, _Tewgris,
todykris, ty'r derrin, gwillt_, &c. in Italian, _Donne, O danno che selo
affronto affronta: in selva salvo a me_, with a thousand more. The whole
secret of improvisation, however, seems to consist in this; that
extempore verses are never written down, and one may easily conceive
that much may go off well with a good voice in singing, which no one
would read if they were once registered by the pen.

I have already asserted that the Italians are not a laughing nation:
were ridicule to step in among them, many innocent pleasures would soon
be lost; and this among the first. For who would risque the making
impromptu poems at Paris? _pour s'attirer persiflage_ in every _Coterie
comme il faut_[Footnote: To draw upon one's self the ridicule of every
polite assembly.]? Or in London, at the hazard of being _taken off, and
held up for a laughing-stock at every print-seller's window_? A man must
have good courage in England, before he ventures at diverting a little
company by such devices: while one would yawn, and one would whisper, a
third would walk gravely out of the room, and say to his friend upon the
stairs, "Why sure we had better read our old poets at home, than be
called together, like fools, to hear what comes uppermost in
such-a-one's head, about his _Daphne_! In good time! Why I have been
tired of _Daphne_ since I was fourteen years old." But the best jest of
all would be, to see an ordinary fellow, a strolling player for example,
set seriously to make or repeat verses in our streets or squares
concerning his sweetheart's _cruelty_; when he would be in more danger
from that of the mob and the magistrates; who, if the first did not
throw dirt at him, and drive him home quickly, would come themselves,
and examine into his sanity, and if they found him not _statutably mad_,
commit him for a vagrant.

Different amusements, like different sorts of food, suit different
countries; and this is among the efforts of those who have learned to
refine their _pleasures_ without so refining their _ideas_ as to be able
no longer to hit on any pleasure subtle enough to escape their own power
of ridiculing it.

This city of Ferrara has produced some curious and opposite characters
in times past, however empty it may now be thought: one painter too, and
one singer, both super-eminent in their professions, have dropped their
own names, and are best known to fame by that of _Il_ and _La
Ferrarese_. Nor can I leave it without some reflections on the
extraordinary life of Renee de France, daughter of Louis XII surnamed
the Just, and Anne de Bretagne, his first wife. This lady having married
the famous Hercules D'Este, one of the handsomest men in Europe, lived
with him here in much apparent felicity as Duchess of Ferrara; but took
such an aversion to the church and court of Rome, from the superstitions
she saw practised in Italy, that though she resolved to dissemble her
opinions during the life of her husband, whom she wished not to disgust,
at the instant of his death she quitted all her dignities; and retiring
to France, was protected by her father in the open profession of
Calvinism, living a life of privacy and purity among the Huguenots in
the southern provinces. This _Louis le Juste_ was he who gave the French
what little pretensions they have ever obtained on which to fix the
foundations of future liberty: he first established a parliament at
Rouen, another at Aix; but while thus gentle to his subjects, he was a
scourge to Italy, made his public entry into Genoa as Sovereign, and
tore the Milanese from the Sforza family, somewhat before the year 1550.

The well-known Franciscus Ferrariensis, whose name was Silvester, is a
character very opposite to that of fair Renee: he wrote the best apology
for the Romanists against Luther, and gained applause from both sides
for his controversial powers; while the strictness of his life gave
weight to his doctrine, and ornamented the sect which he delighted to
defend.

By a native of Ferrara too were first collected the books that were
earliest placed in the Ambrosian library at Milan, Barnardine Ferrarius,
whose deep erudition and simple manners gained him the favour of
Frederick Borromeo, who sent him to Spain to pick up literary rarities,
which he bestowed with pleasure on the place where he had received his
education. His treatise on the rites of sepulture used by the ancients
is in good estimation; and Sir Thomas Brown, in his _Urn Burial_, owes
him much obligation.

The custom of wearing swords here seems to proceed from some connection
they have had with the Spaniards; and Dr. Moore has given us an
admirable account of why the Highland broad-sword is still called an
_Andrew Ferrara_.

The Venetians, not often or easily intimidated by Papal power, having
taken this city in the year 1303, were obliged to restore it, for fear
of the consequences of Pope Boniface the Eighth's excommunications; his
displeasure having before then produced dreadful effects in the
conspiracy of Bajamonti Tiepulo; which was suppressed, and he killed, by
a woman, out of a flaming zeal for the honour and tranquillity of her
country: and so disinterested too was her spirit of patriotism, that the
only reward she required for a service so essential, was that a constant
memorial of it might be preserved in the dress of the Doge; who from
that moment obliged himself to wear a woman's cap under the state
diadem, and so his successors still continue to do.

But Ferrara has other distinctions.--Bonarelli here, at the academy of
gl'Intrepidi, read his able defence of that pastoral comedy so much
applauded and censured, called _Filli di Sciro_; and here the great
Ariosto lived and died.

Nothing leads however to a less gloomy train of thought, than the tomb
of a celebrated man; where virtue, wit, or valour triumph over death,
and wait the consummation of all sublunary things, before the
remembrance of such superiority shall be lost. Italy must be shaken from
her deepest foundation, and England made a scene of general ruin, when
Shakespear and Ariosto shall be forgotten, and their names confounded
among deedless nobility, and worthless wasters of treasure, long ago
passed from hand to hand, perhaps from the dwellers in one continent to
the inhabitants of another. It has been equally the fate of these two
heroes of modern literature, that they have pleased their countrymen
more than foreigners; but is that any diminution of their merit? or
should it serve as a reason for making disgraceful comparisons between
Ariosto and Virgil, whom he scorned to imitate? A dead language is like
common ground;--all have a right to pasture, and all a claim to give or
to withhold admiration. Virgil is the old original trough at the corner
of the road, where every passer-by pays, drinks, and goes on his journey
well refreshed. But the clear spring in the meadow sure, though private
property, and lately dug, deserves attention: and confers delight not
only on the actual master of the ground, but on all his visitants who
can climb the style, and lift the silver cup to their lips which hangs
by the fountain-side.

I am glad, however, to be gone from a place where they are thinking less
of all these worthies just at present, than of a circumstance which
cannot redound to their honour, as it might have happened to any other
town, and could do great good to none: no less than the happy arrival of
Joseph, and Leopold, and Maximilian of Austria, on the thirtieth of May
1775; and this wonderful event have they recorded in a pompous
inscription upon a stone set at the inn door. But princes can make
poets, and scatter felicity with little exertion on their own parts.

At Tuillemont, an English gentleman once told me he had the misfortune
to sleep one night where all the people's heads were full of the
Emperor, who had dined there the day before; and some _wise_ fellow of
the place wrote these lines under his picture:

    Ingreditur magnus magno de Caesare Caesar,
    Thenas, sub signo Cervi, sua prandia sumit.

He immediately set down this distich under them:

    Our poor little town has no little to brag,
    The Emperor was here, and he dined at the Stag.

The people of the inn concluding that this must be a high-strained
compliment, it produced him many thanks from all, and a better breakfast
than he would otherwise have obtained at Tuillemont.

To-morrow we go forward to Bologna.



BOLOGNA


SEEMS at first sight a very sorrowful town, and has a general air of
melancholy that surprises one, as it is very handsomely and regularly
built; and set in a country so particularly beautiful, that it is not
easy to express the nature of its beauty, and to express it so that
those who inhabit other countries can understand me.

The territory belonging to Bologna la Grassa concenters all its charms
in a happy _embonpoint_, which leaves no wrinkle unfilled up, no bone to
be discerned; like the fat figure of Gunhilda at Fonthill, painted by
Chevalier Cafali, with a face full of woe, but with a sleekness of skin
that denotes nothing less than affliction. From the top of the only
eminence, one looks down here upon a country which to me has a new and
singular appearance; the whole horizon appearing one thick carpet of the
softest and most vivid green, from the vicinity of the broad-leaved
mulberry trees, I trust, drawn still closer and closer together by
their amicable and pacific companions the vines, which keep cluttering
round, and connect them so intimately that no object can be separately
or distinctly viewed, any more than the habitations formed by animals
who live in moss, when a large portion of it is presented to the
philosopher for speculation. One would not therefore, on a flight and
cursory inspection, suspect this of being a painter's country, where no
prominence of features arrests the sight, no expression of latent
meaning employs the mind, and no abruptness of transition tempts fancy
to follow, or imagination to supply, the sudden loss of what it
contemplated before.

Here however the great Caraccis kept their school; here then was every
idea of dignity and majestic beauty to be met with; and if _I_ meet with
nothing in nature near this place to excite such ideas, it is _my_
fault, not Bologna's.

    If vain the toil,
    We ought to blame the culture,--not the soil.

Wonderful indeed! yet not at all distracting is the variety of
excellence that one contemplates here; such matters! and such scholars!
The sweetly playful pencil of Albano, I would compare to Waller among
our English poets; Domenichino to Otway, and Guido Rheni to Rowe; if
such liberties might be permitted on the old notion of _ut pictura
poesis_. But there is an idea about the world, that one ought in
delicacy to declare one's utter incapacity of understanding pictures,
unless immediately of the profession.--And why so? No man protests, that
he cannot read poetry, he can make no pleasure out of Milton or
Shakespear, or shudder at the ingratitude of Lear's daughters on the
stage. Why then should people pretend insensibility, when divine
Guercino exerts his unrivalled powers of the pathetic in the fine
picture at Zampieri palace, of Hagar's dismission into the desert with
her son? While none else could have touched with such truth of
expression the countenances of each; leaving him most to be pitied,
perhaps, who issues the command against his will; accompanying it
however with innumerable benedictions, and alleviating its severity with
the softest tenderness.

He only among our poets could have planned such a picture, who penned
the Eloisa, and knew the agonies of a soul struggling against
unpermitted passions, and conquering from the noblest motives of faith
and of obedience.

Glorious exertion of excellence! This is the first time my heart has
been made really alive to the powers of this magical art. Candid
Italians! let me again exclaim; they shewed us a Vandyke in the same
palace, surrounded by the works of their own incomparable countrymen;
and _there_ say they, "_Quasi quasi si puo circondarla_[Footnote: You
may almost run round her.]." You may almost run round it, was the
expression. The picture was a very fine one; a single figure of the
Madona, highly painted, and happily placed among those who knew, because
they possessed his perfections who drew it. Were Homer alive, and
acquainted with our language, he would admire that Shakespear whom
Voltaire condemns. Twice in this town has Guido shewed those powers
which critics have denied him: the power of grouping his figures with
propriety, and distributing his light and shadow to advantage: as he
has shewn it _but twice_, however, it is certain the connoisseurs are
not very wrong, and even in those very performances one may read their
justification: for Job, though surrounded by a crowd of people, has a
strangely insulated look, and the sweet sufferer on the fore-ground of
his Herodian cruelty seems wholly uninterested in the general distress,
and occupies herself and every spectator completely and solely with her
own particular grief.

The boasted Raphael here does not in my eyes triumph over the wonders of
this Caracci school. At Rome, I am told, his superiority is more
visible. _Nous verrons_[Footnote: We shall see.].

The reserved picture of St. Peter and St. Paul, kept in the last chamber
of the Zampieri palace, and covered with a silk curtain, is valued
beyond any specimen of the painting art which can be moved from Italy to
England. We are taught to hope it will soon come among us; and many say
the sale cannot be now long delayed. Why Guido should never draw another
picture like that, or at all in the same style, who can tell? it
certainly does unite every perfection, and every possible excellence,
except choice of subject, which cannot be happy I think, when the
subject itself is left disputable.

I will mention only one other picture: it is in an obscure church, not
an unfrequented one by these pious Bolognese, who are the most devout
people I ever lived amongst, but I think not much visited by travellers.
It is painted by Albano, and represents the Redeemer of mankind as a boy
scarce thirteen years old: ingenuous modesty, and meek resignation,
beaming from each intelligent feature of a face divinely beautiful, and
throwing out luminous rays round his sacred head, while the blessed
Virgin and St. Joseph, placed on each side him, adore his goodness with
transport not unmixed with wonder: the instruments of his future passion
cast at his feet, directing us to consider him as in that awful moment
voluntarily devoting himself for the sins of the whole world.

This picture, from the sublimity of the subject, the lively colouring,
and clear expression, has few equals; the pyramidal group drops in as of
itself, unsought for, from the raised ground on which our Saviour
stands; and among numberless wild conceits and extravagant fancies of
painters, not only permitted but encouraged in this country, to deviate
into what _we_ justly think profane representations of the deity:--this
is the most pleasing and inoffensive device I have seen.

The august Creator too is likewise more wisely concealed by Albano than
by other artists, who daringly presume to exhibit that of which no
mortal man can give or receive a just idea. But we will have done for a
while with connoisseurship.

This fat Bologna has a tristful look, from the numberless priests,
friars, and women all dressed in black, who fill the streets, and stop
on a sudden to pray, when I see nothing done to call forth immediate
addresses to Heaven. Extremes do certainly meet however, and my Lord
Peter in this place is so like his fanatical brother Jack, that I know
not what is come to him. To-morrow is the day of _corpus domini_; why it
should be preceded by such dismal ceremonies I know not; there is
nothing melancholy in the idea, but we shall be sure of a magnificent
procession.

So it was too, and wonderfully well attended: noblemen and ladies, with
tapers in their hands, and their trains borne by well-dressed pages, had
a fine effect. All still in black.

    Black, but such as in esteem
    Prince Memnon's sister might beseem;
    With sable stole of cypress lawn,
    O'er their decent shoulders drawn.

I never saw a spectacle so stately, so solemn a show in my life before,
and was much less tired of the long continued march, than were my Roman
Catholic companions.

Our inn is not a good one; the Pellegrino is engaged for the King of
Naples and his train: the place we are housed in, is full of bugs, and
every odious vermin: no wonder, surely, where such oven-like porticoes
catch and retain the heat as if constructed on set purpose so to do. The
Montagnola at night was something of relief, but contrary to every other
resort of company: the less it is frequented the gayer it appears; for
Nature there has been lavish of her bounties, which seem disregarded by
the Bolognese, who unluckily find out that there is a burying-ground
within view, though at no small distance really; and planting
themselves over against that, they stand or kneel for many minutes
together in whole rows, praying, as I understand, for the souls which
once animated the bodies of the people whom they believe to lie interred
there; all this too even at the hours dedicated to amusement.

Cardinal Buon Compagni, the legate, sent from Rome here, is gone home;
and the vice-legate officiated in his place, much to the consolation of
the inhabitants, who observed with little delight or gratitude his
endeavours to improve their trade, or his care to maintain their
privileges; while his natural disinclination to hypocritical manners, or
what we so emphatically call _cant_, gave them an aversion to his person
and dislike of his government, which he might have prevented by
formality of look, and very trifling compliances. But every thing helps
to prove, that if you would please people, it must be done _their_ way,
not your own.

Here are some charming manufactures in this town, and I fear it requires
much self-denial in an Englishwoman not to long at least for the fine
crapes, tiffanies, &c. which might here be bought I know not how cheap,
and would make one _so_ happy in London or at Bath. But these
Customhouse officers! these _rats de cave_, as the French comically call
them, will not let a ribbon pass. Such is the restless jealousy of
little states, and such their unremitted attention to keep the goods
made in one place out of the gates of another. Few things upon a journey
contribute to torment and disgust one more than the teasing enquiries at
the door of every city, who one is, what one's name is? what one's rank
in life or employment is; that so all may be written down and carried to
the chief magistrate for his information, who immediately dispatches a
proper person to examine whether you gave in a true report; where you
lodge, why you came, how long you mean to stay; with twenty more
inquisitive speeches, which to a subject of more liberal governments
must necessarily appear impertinent as frivolous, and make all my hopes
of bringing home the most trifling presents for a friend abortive. So
there is an end of that felicity, and we must sit like the girl at the
fair, described by Gay,

    Where the coy nymph knives, combs, and scissars spies,
    And looks on thimbles with desiring eyes.

The Specola, so they call their museum here, of natural and artificial
rarities, is very fine indeed; the inscription too denoting its
universality, is sublimely generous: I thought of our Bath hospital in
England; more usefully, if not more magnificently so; but durst not tell
the professor, who shewed the place. At our going in he was apparently
much out of humour, and unwilling to talk, but grew gradually kinder,
and more communicative; and I had at last a thousand thanks to pay for
an attention that rendered the sight of all more valuable. Nothing can
surpass the neatness and precision with which this elegant repository is
kept, and the curiosities contained in it have specimens very uncommon.
The native gold shewed here is supposed to be the largest and most
perfect lump in Europe; wonderfully beautiful it certainly is, and the
coral here is such as can be seen nowhere else; they shewed me some
which looked like an actual tree.

It might reasonably lower the spirits of philosophy, and tend to
restraining the genius of remote enquiry, did we reflect that the very
first substance given into our hand as an amusement, or subject of
speculation, as soon as we arrive in this great world of wonders, never
gets fully understood by those who study hardest, or live longest in it.

Coral is a substance, concerning which the natural historians have had
many disputes, and settled nothing yet; knowing, as it should seem, but
little more of its original, than they did when they sucked it first. Of
gold we have found perhaps but too many uses; but when the professor
told us here at Bologna, that silver in the mine was commonly found
mixed with _arsenick_, a corroding poison, or _lead_, a narcotic one;
who could help being led forward to a train of thought on the nature and
use and abuse of money and minerals in general. _Suivez_ (as Rousseau
says), _la chaine de tout cela_[Footnote: Follow this clue, and see
where it will lead you to.].

The astronomical apparatus at this place is a splendid one; but the
models of architecture, fortifications, &c. are only more numerous; not
so exact or elegant I think as those the King of England has for his own
private use at the Queen's house in St. James's Park. The specimens of
a human figure in wax are the work of a woman, whose picture is
accordingly set up in the school: they are reckoned incomparable of
their kind, and bring to one's fancy Milton's fine description of our
first parents:

    Two of far nobler kind--erect and tall.

This University has been particularly civil to women; many very learned
ladies of France and Germany have been and are still members of it;--and
la Dottoressa Laura Bassi gave lectures not many years ago in this very
spot, upon the mathematics and natural philosophy, till she grew very
old and infirm; but her pupils always handed her very respectfully to
and from the Doctor's chair, _Che brava donnetta ch'era!_[Footnote: Ah,
what a fine woman was that!] says the gentleman who shewed me the
academy, as we came out at the door; over which a marble tablet, with an
inscription more pious than pompous, is placed to her memory; but
turning away his eyes--while they filled with tears--_tutli
muosono_[Footnote: All must die.], added he, and I followed; as nothing
either of energy or pathos could be added to a reflection so just, so
tender, and so true: we parted sadly therefore with our agreeable
companion and instructor just where her cenotaph (for the body lies
buried in a neighbouring church) was erected; and shall probably meet no
more; for as he said and sighed--_tutti muosono_[Footnote: All must
die.].

The great Cassini too, who though of an Italian family, was born at Nice
I think, and died at Paris, drew his meridian line through the church of
St. Petronius in this city, across the pavement, where it still remains
a monument to his memory, who discovered the third and fifth satellites
of Jupiter. Such was in his time the reputation of a mineral spring near
Bologna, that Pope Alexander the Seventh set him to analyse the waters
of it; and so satisfactory were his proofs of its very slight importance
to health, that the same pope called him to Rome to examine the waters
round that capital; but dying soon after his arrival, he had no time to
recompence Cassini's labours, though a very elegantly-minded man, and a
great encourager of learning in all its branches. The successor to this
sovereign, Rospigliosi, had different employment found for _him_, in
helping the Venetians to regain Candia from the Turks, his
disappointment in not being able to accomplish which design broke his
heart; and Cassini, returning to Bologna, found it less pleasing than it
was before he left it, so went to Paris, and died there at ninety or
ninety-one years old, as I remember, early in this present century, but
not till after he had enjoyed the pleasure of hearing that Count
Marsigli had founded an academy at the place where he had studied whilst
his faculties were strong.

Another church, situated on the only hill one can observe for miles, is
dedicated to the Madonna St. Luc, as it is called; and a very beautiful
and curiously covered way is made to it up the hill, for three miles in
length, and at a prodigious expence, to guard the figure from the rain
as it is carried in procession. The ascent is so gentle that one hardly
feels it. Pillars support the roof, which defends you from a sun-stroke,
while the air and prospect are let in between them on the right hand as
you go. The left side is closed up by a wall, adorned from time to time
with fresco paintings, representing the birth and most distinguished
passages in the life of the blessed Virgin. Round these paintings a
little chapel is railed in, open, airy, and elegantly, not very
pompously, adorned; there are either seven or twelve of them, I forget
which, that serve to rest the procession as it passes, on days
particularly dedicated to her service. When you arrive at the top, a
church of a most beautiful construction recompenses your long but not
tedious walk, and there are some admirable pictures in it, particularly
one of St. William laying down his armour, and taking up the habit of a
Carthusian, very fine--but the figure of the Madonna is the prize they
value, and before this I did see some men kneel with a truly idolatrous
devotion. That it was painted by St. Luke is believed by them all. But
if it _was_ painted by St. Luke, said I, what then? do you think _he_,
or the still more excellent person it was done for, would approve of
your worshipping any thing but God? To this no answer was made; and I
thought one man looked as if he had grace enough to be ashamed of
himself.

The girls, who sit in clusters at the chapel doors as one goes up,
singing hymns in praise of the Virgin Mary, pleased me much, as it was
a mode of veneration inoffensive to religion, and agreeable to the
fancy; but seeing them bow down to that black figure, in open defiance
of the Decalogue, shocked me. Why all the _very very_ early pictures of
the Virgin, and many of our blessed Saviour himself, done in the first
ages of Christianity should be _black_, or at least tawny, is to me
wholly incomprehensible, nor could I ever yet obtain an explanation of
its cause from men of learning or from connoisseurs.

We have in England a black Madonna, very ancient of course, and of
immense value, in the cathedral of Wells in Somersetshire; it is painted
on glass, and stands in the middle pane of the upper window I think, is
a profile face, and eminently handsome. My mind tells me that I have
seen another somewhere in Great Britain, but cannot recollect the spot,
unless it were Arundel Castle in Sussex, but I am not sure: none was
ever painted so since the days of Pietro Perugino I believe, so their
antiquity is unquestionable: he and his few contemporaries drew her
white, as Sir Joshua Reynolds and Pompeio Battoni.

Whilst I perambulated the palaces of the Bolognese nobility, gloomy
though spacious, and melancholy though splendid, I could not but admire
at Richardson's judgment when he makes his beautiful Bigot, his
interesting Clementina, an inhabitant of superstitious Bologna. The
unconquerable attachment she shews to original prejudices, and the
horror of what she has been taught to consider as heresy, could scarcely
have been attributed so happily to the dweller in any town but this:
where I hear nothing but the sound of people saying their rosaries, and
see nothing in the street but people telling their beads. The Porretta
palace is hourly presenting itself to my imagination, which delights in
the assurance that genius cannot be confined by place. Dear Richardson
at Salisbury Court Fleet Street, and Parson's Green Fulham, felt all
within him that travelling can tell, or experience confirm: he had seen
little, and Johnson has often told me that he had read little; but what
he did read never forsook a memory that was not contented with
retaining, but fermented all that fell into it, and made a new creation
from the fertility of his own rich mind.--These are the men for whom
monuments need not be erected.

    They in our pleasure and astonishment,
    Do build themselves a live long monument;

as Milton says of a much greater writer still.

But the King of Naples is arrived, and that attention which wits and
scholars can retain for centuries, may not be unjustly paid to princes
while they last.

Our Bolognese have hit upon an odd method of entertaining him however:
no other than making a representation of Mount Vesuvius on the
Montagnuola, or place of evening resort, hoping at least to treat him
with something new I trow. Were the King of England to visit these _cari
Bolognese_, surely they would shew him Westminster Bridge, with a view
of the Archbishop's palace at Lambeth on one side the river, and
Somerset-house on the other.

A pretty throne, or state-box, was soon got in order, _that it was_; and
the motion excited by carrying the fire-works to have them prepared for
the evening's show, gave life to the morning, which hung less heavily
than usual; nor did the people recollect the church-yard at a distance,
while the merry King of Naples was near them. His Majesty appeared
perfectly contented and good-humoured, and happy with whatever was done
for his amusement. I remember his behaviour at Milan though, too well to
be surprised at his pleasantness of disposition, when my maid was
delighted to see him dance among the girls at a Festa di Ballo, from
whence I retired early myself, and sent her back to enjoy it all in my
domino. He played at cards too when at Milan I recollect, in the common
Ridotto Chamber at the Theatre, and played for common sums, so as to
charm every one with his kindness and affability.

I am glad however that we shall now be soon released from this upon the
whole disagreeable town, where there is the best possible food too for
body and mind; but where the inhabitants seem to think only of the next
world, and do little to amuse those who have not yet quite done with
this. If they are sincere mean time, God will bless them with a long
continuance of the appellation they so justly deserve; and those
travellers who pass through will find some amends in the rich cream and
incomparable dinners every day, for the insects that devour them every
night; and will, if they are wise, seek compensation from the company of
the half animated pictures that crowd the palaces and churches, for the
half dead inhabitants who kneel in the streets of Bologna.



FLORENCE.


We slept no-where, except perhaps in the carriage, between our last
residence at Bologna and this delightful city, to which we passed
apparently through a new region of the earth, or even air; clambering up
mountains covered with snow, and viewing with amazement the little
vallies between, where, after quitting the summer season, all glowing
with heat and spread into verdure, we found cherry-trees in blossom,
oaks and walnuts scarcely beginning to bud. These mountains are however
much below those of Savoy for dignity and beauty of appearance, though
high enough to be troublesome, and barren enough to be desolate. These
Appenines have been called by some the Back Bone of Italy, as Varenius
and others style the Mountains of the Moon in Africa, Back Bone of the
World; and these, as they do, run in a long chain down the middle of the
Peninsula they are placed in; but being rounded at top are supposed to
be aquatick, while the Alps, Andes, &c. are of late acknowledged by
philosophers to be volcanic, as the most lofty of _them_ terminate in
points of granite, wholly devoid of horizontal strata, and without
petrifactions contained in them,

    _Here_ the tracts around display
    How impetuous ocean's sway
    Once with wasteful fury spread
    The wild waves o'er each mountain's head.

    PARSONS.

But the offspring of fire somehow _should_ be more striking than that of
water, however violent might have been the concussion that produced
them; and there is no comparison between the sensations felt in passing
the Roche Melon, and these more neatly-moulded Appenines; upon whose
tops I am told too no lakes have been formed, as on Mount Cenis, or
even on Snowdon in North Wales, where a very beautiful lake adorns the
summit of the rock; which affords trout precisely such as you eat before
you go down to Novalesa, but not so large.

Sir William Hamilton, however, is the man to be referred to in all these
matters; no man has examined the peculiar properties and general nature
of mountains, those which vomit fire in particular, with half as much
application, inspired by half as much genius, as he has done.

We arrived late at our inn, an English one they say it is; and many of
the last miles were passed very pleasantly by my maid and myself, in
anticipating the comforts we should receive by finding ourselves among
our own country folks. In good time! and by once more eating, sleeping,
&c. _all in the English way_, as her phrase is. Accordingly, here are
small low beds again, soft and clean, and down pillows; here are currant
tarts, which the Italians scorn to touch, but which we are happy and
delighted to pay not ten but twenty times their value for, because a
currant tart is so much _in the English way_: and here are beans and
bacon in a climate where it is impossible that bacon should be either
wholesome or agreeable; and one eats infinitely worse than one did at
Milan, Venice, or Bologna: and infinitely dearer too; but that makes it
still more completely _in the English way_.

Mean time here we are however in Arno's Vale; the full moon shining over
Fiesole, which I see from my windows. Milton's verses every moment in
one's mouth, and Galileo's house twenty yards from one's door,

    Whence her bright orb the Tuscan artist view'd,
    At evening from the top of Fesole;
    Or in Val d'Arno to descry new lands,
    Rivers or mountains on her spotty globe.

Our apartments here are better than we hoped for, situated most sweetly
on the banks of this classical stream; a noble terrace underneath our
window, broad as the south parade at Bath I think, and the fine Ponte
della Santa Trinita within sight. Many people have asserted that this is
the first among all bridges in the world; but architecture triumphs in
the art of building bridges, and, though this is a most exquisitely
beautiful fabric, I can scarcely venture to call it an unrivalled one:
it shall, if the fine statues at the corners can assist its power over
the fancy, and if cleanliness can compensate for stately magnificence,
or for the fire of original and unassisted genius, it shall obliterate
from my mind the Rialto at Venice, and the fine arch thrown over the
Conway at Llanwrst in our North Wales.

I wrote to a lady at Venice this morning though, to say, however I might
be charmed by the sweets of Arno's side, I could not forbear regretting
the Grand Canal.

Count Manucci, a nobleman of this city, formerly intimate with Mr.
Thrale in London and Mr. Piozzi at Paris, came early to our apartments,
and politely introduced us to the desirable society of his sisters and
his friends. We have in his company and that of Cavalier d'Elci, a
learned and accomplished man, of high birth, deep erudition, and
polished manners, seen much, and with every possible advantage.

This morning they shewed us La Capella St. Lorenzo, where I could but
think how surprisingly Mr. Addison's prediction was verified, that these
slow Florentines would not perhaps be able to finish the burial-place
of their favourite family, before the family itself should be extinct.
This reflection felt like one naturally suggested to me by the place;
Doctor Moore however has the original merit of it, as I afterwards found
it in his book: but it is the peculiar property of natural thoughts well
expressed, to sink into one's mind and incorporate themselves with it,
so as to make one forget they were not all one's own.

_Poets, as well as jesters, do oft prove prophets:_ Prior's happy
prediction for the female wits in one of his epilogues is come true
already, when he says,

    Your time, poor souls! we'll take your very money,
    Female _third nights_ shall come so thick upon ye, &c.

and every hour gives one reason to hope that Mr. Pope's glorious
prophecy in favour of the Negroes will not now remain long
unaccomplished, but that liberty will extend her happy influence over
the world;

    Till the _freed Indians_, in their native groves,
    Reap their own fruits, and woo their sable loves.

I will not extend myself in describing the heaps of splendid ruin in
which the rich chapel of St. Lorenzo now lies: since the elegant Lord
Corke's letters were written, little can be said about Florence not
better said by him; who has been particularly copious in describing a
city which every body wishes to see copiously described.

The libraries here are exceedingly magnificent; and we were called just
now to that which goes under Magliabechi's name, to hear an eulogium
finely pronounced upon our circumnavigator Captain Cook; whose character
has attracted the attention, and extorted the esteem of every European
nation: far less was the wonder that it forced my tears; they flowed
from a thousand causes: my distance from England! my pleasure in hearing
an Englishman thus lamented in a language with which he had no
acquaintance!

    By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourn'd!

Every thing contributed to soften my heart, though not to lower my
spirits. For when a Florentine asked me, how I came to cry so? I
answered, in the words of their divine Mestastasio:

    "Che questo pianto mio
    Tutto non e dolor;
    E meraviglia, e amore,
    E riverenza, e speme,
    Son mille affetti assieme
    Tutti raccolti al cor."

    'Tis not grief alone, or fear,
    Swells the heart, or prompts the tear;
    Reverence, wonder, hope, and joy,
    Thousand thoughts my soul employ,
    Struggling images, which less
    Than falling tears can ne'er express.

Giannetti, who pronounced the panegyric, is the justly-celebrated
improvisatore so famous for making Latin verses _impromptu_, as others
do Italian ones: the speech has been translated into English by Mr.
Merry, with whom I had the honour here first to make acquaintance,
having met him at Mr. Greatheed's, who is our fellow-lodger, and with
whom and his amiable family the time passes in reciprocations of
confidential friendship and mutual esteem.

Lord and Lady Cowper too contribute to make the society at this place
more pleasing than can be imagined; while English hospitality softens
down the stateliness of Tuscan manners.

Sir Horace Mann is sick and old; but there are conversations at his
house of a Saturday evening, and sometimes a dinner, to which we have
been almost always asked.

The fruits in this place begin to astonish me; such cherries did I never
yet see, or even hear tell of, as when I caught the Laquais de Place
weighing two of them in a scale to see if they came to an ounce. These
are, in the London street phrase, _cherries like plums_, in size at
least, but in flavour they far exceed them, being exactly of the kind
that we call bleeding-hearts, hard to the bite, and parting easily from
the stone, which is proportionately small. Figs too are here in such
perfection, that it is not easy for an English gardener to guess at
their excellence; for it is not by superior size, but taste and colour,
that _they_ are distinguished; small, and green on the outside, a bright
full crimson within, and we eat them with raw ham, and truly delicious
is the dainty. By raw ham, I mean ham cured, not boiled or roasted. It
is no wonder though that fruits should mature in such a sun as this is;
which, to give a just notion of its penetrating fire, I will take leave
to tell my countrywomen is so violent, that I use no other method of
heating the pinching-irons to curl my hair, than that of poking them out
at a south window, with the handles shut in, and the glasses darkened to
keep us from being actually fired in his beams. Before I leave off
speaking about the fruit, I must add, that both fig and cherry are
produced by standards; that the strawberries here are small and
high-flavoured, like our _woods_, and that there are no other. England
affords greater variety in _that_ kind of fruit than any nation; and as
to peaches, nectarines, or green-gage plums, I have seen none yet. Lady
Cowper has made us a present of a small pine-apple, but the Italians
have no taste to it. Here is sun enough to ripen them without hot-houses
I am sure, though they repeatedly told us at Milan and Venice, that
_this_ was the coolest place to pass the summer in, because of the
Appenine mountains shading us from the heat, which they confessed to be
intolerable with _them_.

_Here_ however, they inform us, that it is madness to retire into the
country as English people do during the hot season; for as there is no
shade from high timber trees, one is bit to death by animals, gnats in
particular, which here are excessively troublesome, even in the town,
notwithstanding we scatter vinegar, and use all the arts in our power;
but the ground-floor is coolest, and every body struggles to get
themselves a _terreno_ as they call it.

Florence is full just now, and Mr. Jean Figliazzi, an intelligent
gentleman who lives here, and is well acquainted with both nations,
says, that all the genteel people come to take refuge _from_ the country
to Florence in July and August, as the subjects of Great Britain run
_to_ the country from the heats of London or Bath.

The flowers too! how rich they are in scent here! how brilliant in
colour! how magnificent in size! Wall-flowers perfuming every street,
and even every passage; while pinks and single carnations grow beside
them, with no more soil than they require themselves; and from the tops
of houses, where you least expect it, an aromatic flavour highly
gratifying is diffused. The jessamine is large, broad-leaved, and
beautiful as an orange-flower; but I have seen no roses equal to those
at Lichfield, where on one tree I recollect counting eighty-four within
my own reach; it grew against the house of Doctor Darwin. Such a
profusion of sweets made me enquire yesterday morning for some scented
pomatum, and they brought me accordingly one pot impelling strong of
garden mint, the other of rue and tansy.

Thus do the inhabitants of every place forfeit or fling away those
pleasures, which the inhabitants of another place think _they_ would use
in a much wiser manner, had Providence bestowed the blessing upon
_them_.

A young Milanese once, whom I met in London, saw me treat a hatter that
lives in Pallmall with the respect due to his merit: when the man was
gone, "Pray, madam," says the Italian, "is this a _gran riccone[Footnote:
Heavy-pursed fellow.]?"_ "He is perhaps," replied I, "worth twenty or
thirty thousand pounds; I do not know what ideas you annex to a _gran
riccone_" "_Oh santissima vergine!_" exclaims the youth, "_s'avessi io mai
settanta mila zecchini! non so pur troppo cosa nesarei; ma questo e
chiaro--non venderei mai cappelli_"--"Oh dear me! had I once seventy
thousand sequins in my pocket, I would--dear--I cannot think myself
_what_ I should do with them all: but this at least is certain, I would
not _sell hats_"

I have been carried to the Laurentian library, where the librarian Bandi
shewed me all possible, and many unmerited civilities; which, for want
of deeper erudition, I could not make the use I wished of. We asked
however to see some famous manuscripts. The Virgil has had a _fac
simile_ made of it, and a printed copy besides; so that it cannot now
escape being known all over Europe. The Bible in Chaldaic characters,
spoken of by Langius as inestimable, and brought hither, with many other
valuable treasures of the same nature, by Lascaris, after the death of
Lorenzo de Medici, who had sent him for the second time to
Constantinople for the purpose of collecting Greek and Oriental books,
but died before his return, is in admirable preservation. The old
geographical maps, made out in a very early age, afforded me much
amusement; and the Latin letters of Petrarch, with the portrait of his
Laura, were interesting to me perhaps more than many other things rated
much higher by the learned, among those rarities which adorn a library
so comprehensive.

Every great nation except ours, which was immersed in barbarism, and
engaged in civil broils, seems to have courted the residence of
Lascaris, but the university of Paris fixed his regard: and though Leo
X. treated with favour, and even friendship, the man whom he had
encouraged to intimacy when Cardinal John of Medicis; though he made him
superintendant of a Greek college at Rome; it is said he always wished
to die in France, whither he returned in the reign of Francis the First;
and wrote his Latin epigrams, which I have heard Doctor Johnson prefer
even to the Greek ones preserved in Anthologia; and of which our Queen
Elizabeth, inspired by Roger Ascham, desired to see the author; but he
was then upon a visit to Rome, where he died of the gout at ninety-three
years old.

       *       *       *       *       *

June 24, 1785.

St. John the Baptist is the tutelary Saint of this city, and upon this
day of course all possible rejoicings are made. After attending divine
service in the morning, we were carried to a house whence we could
conveniently see the procession pass by. It was not solemn and stately
as that I saw at Bologna, neither was it gaudy and jocund like the show
made at Venice upon St. George's day; but consisted chiefly in vast
heavy pageants, or a sort of temporary building set on wheels, and drawn
by oxen some, and some by horses; others carried upon things made not
unlike a chairman's horse in London, and supported by men, while
priests, in various coloured dresses, according to their several
stations in the church, and to distinguish the parishes, &c. to which
they belong, follow singing in praise of the saint.

Here is much emulation shewed too, I am told, in these countries, where
religion makes the great and almost the sole amusement of men's lives,
who shall make most figure on St. John the Baptist's day, produce most
music, and go to most expence. For all these purposes subscriptions are
set on foot, for ornamenting and venerating such a picture, statue, &c.
which are then added to the procession by the managers, and called a
Confraternity, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angel Raphael,
or who comes in their heads.

The lady of the house where we went to partake the diversion, was not
wanting in her part; there could not be fewer than a hundred and fifty
people assembled in her rooms, but not crowded as we should have been in
England; for the apartments in Italy are all high and large, and run in
suits like Wanstead house in Essex, or Devonshire house in London
exactly, but larger still: and with immense balconies and windows, not
sashes, which move all away, and give good room and air. The ices,
refreshments, &c. were all excellent in their kinds, and liberally
dispensed. The lady seemed to do the honours of her house with perfect
good-humour; and every body being full-dressed, though so early in a
morning, added much to the general effect of the whole.

Here I had the honour of being introduced to Cardinal Corsini, who put
me a little out of countenance by saying suddenly, "_Well, madam! you
never saw one of us red-legged partridges before I believe; but you are
going to Rome I hear, where you will find such fellows as me no
rarities_" The truth is, I had seen the amiable Prince d'Orini at Milan,
who was a Cardinal; and who had taken delight in showing me prodigious
civilities: nothing ever struck me more than his abrupt entrance one
night at our house, when we had a little music, and every body stood up
the moment he appeared: the Prince however walked forward to the
harpsichord, and blessed my husband in a manner the most graceful and
affecting: then sate the amusement out, and returned the next morning to
breakfast with us, when he indulged us with two hours conversation at
least; adding the kindest and most pressing invitations to his
country-seat among the mountains of Brianza, when we should return from
our tour of Italy in spring 1786. Florence therefore was not the first
place that shewed me a Cardinal.

In the afternoon we all looked out of our windows which faced the
street,--not mine, as they happily command a view of the river, the
Caseine woods, &c. and from them enjoyed a complete sight of an Italian
horse-race. For after the coaches have paraded up and down some time to
shew the equipages, liveries, &c. all have on a sudden notice to quit
the scene of action; and all _do_ quit it, in such a manner as is
surprising. The street is now covered with sawdust, and made fast at
both ends: the starting-post is adorned with elegant booths, lined with
red velvet, for the court and first nobility: at the other end a piece
of tapestry is hung, to prevent the creatures from dashing their brains
out when they reach the goal. Thousands and ten thousands of people on
foot fill the course, that it is standing wonder to me still that
numbers are not killed. The prizes are now exhibited to view, quite in
the old classical style; a piece of crimson damask for the winner
perhaps; a small silver bason and ewer for the second; and so on,
leaving no performer unrewarded. At last come out the _concurrenti_
without riders, but with a narrow leathern strap hung across their
backs, which has a lump of ivory fastened to the end of it, all set full
of sharp spikes like a hedge-hog, and this goads them along while
galloping, worse than any spurs could do; because the faster they run,
the more this odd machine keeps jumping up and down, and pricking their
sides ridiculously enough; and it makes one laugh to see that some of
them are not provoked by it not to run at all, but set about plunging,
in order to rid themselves of the inconvenience, instead of driving
forward to divert the mob; who leap and shout and caper with delight,
and lash the laggers along with great indignation indeed, and with the
most comical gestures. I never saw horses in so droll a state of
degradation before, for they are all striped or spotted, or painted of
some colour to distinguish them each from other; and nine or ten often
start at a time, to the great danger of lookers-on I think, but
exceedingly to my entertainment, who have the comfort of Mrs.
Greatheed's company, and the advantage of seeing all safely from her
well-situated _terreno_, or ground-floor.

The chariot-race was more splendid, but less diverting: this was
performed in the Piazza, or Square, an unpaved open place not bigger
than Covent Garden I believe, and the ground strangely uneven. The cars
were light and elegant; one driver and two horses to each: the first
very much upon the principle of the antique chariots described by old
poets, and the last trapped showily in various colours, adapted to the
carriages, that people might make their betts accordingly upon the pink,
the blue, the green, &c. I was exceedingly amused with seeing what so
completely revived all classic images, and seemed so little altered from
the classic times. Cavalier D'Elci, in reply to my expressions of
delight, told me that the same spirit still subsisted exactly; but that
in order to prevent accidents arising from the disputants' endeavours to
overturn or circumvent each other, it was now sunk into a mere
appearance of contest; for that all the chariots belonged to one man,
who would doubtless be careful enough that his coachmen should not go to
sparring at the hazard of their horses. The farce was carried on to the
end however, and the winner spread his velvet in triumph, and drove
round the course to enjoy the acclamations and caresses of the crowd.

That St. John the Baptist's birth-day should be celebrated by a horse or
chariot race, appears to have little claim to the praise of propriety;
but mankind seems agreed that there must be some excuse for merriment;
and surely if any saint is to be venerated, he stands foremost whom
Christ himself declared to be the greatest man ever born of a woman.

The old Romans had an institution in this month of games to Neptune
Equester, as they called their Sea God, with no great appearance of good
sense neither; but the horse he produced at the naming of Athens was the
cause assigned--these games are perhaps half transmitted ones from those
in the ancient mythology.

The evening concluded, and the night began with fire-works; the church,
or duomo, as a cathedral is always called in Italy, was illuminated on
the outside, and very beautiful, and very very magnificent was the
appearance. The reflection of the cupola's lights in the river gave us
back a faint image of what we had been admiring; and when I looked at
them from my window, as we were retiring to rest; such, thought I, and
fainter still are the images which can be given of a show in written or
verbal description; yet my English friends shall not want an account of
what I have seen; for Italy, at last, is only a fine well-known academy
figure, from which we all sit down to make drawings according as the
light falls; and our seat affords opportunity. Every man sees that, and
indeed most things, with the eyes of his then present humour, and begins
describing away so as to convey a dignified or despicable idea of the
object in question, just as his disposition led him to interpret its
appearance.

Readers now are grown wiser, however, than very much to mind us: they
want no further telling that one traveller was in pain, and one in love
when the tour of Italy was made by them; and so they pick out their
intelligence accordingly, from various books, written like two letters
in the Tatler, giving an account of a rejoicing night; one endeavouring
to excite majestic ideas, the other ludicrous ones of the very same
thing.

Well 'tis true enough, however, and has been often enough laughed at,
that the Italian horses run without riders, and scamper down a long
street with untrimmed heels, hundreds of people hooking them along, as
naughty boys do a poor dog, that has a bone tied to his tail in England.
This diversion was too good to end with the day.

Dulness, dear Queen, repeats the jest again.

We had another, and another just such a race for three or four evenings
together, and they got an English _cock-tailed nag_, and set _him_ to
the business, as they said _he was trained to it_; but I don't recollect
his making a more brilliant figure than his painted and chalked
neighbours of the Continent.

We will not be prejudiced, however; that the Florentines know how to
manage horses is certain, if they would take the trouble. Last night's
theatre exhibited a proof of skill, which might shame Astley and all his
rivals. Count Pazzi having been prevailed on to lend his four beautiful
chesnut favourites from his own carriage to draw a pageant upon the
stage, I saw them yesterday evening harnessed all abreast, their own
master in a dancer's habit I was told, guiding them himself, and
personating the Cid, which was the name of the ballet, if I remember
right, making his horses go clear round the stage, and turning at the
lamps of the orchestra with such dexterity, docility, and grace, that
they seemed rather to enjoy than feel disturbance at the deafening noise
of instruments, the repeated bursts of applause, and hollow sound of
their own hoofs upon the boards of a theatre. I had no notion of such
discipline, and thought the praises, though very loud, not ill bestowed:
as it is surely one of man's earliest privileges to replenish the earth
with animal life, and to subdue it.

I have, for my own part, generally speaking, little delight in the
obstreperous clamours of these heroic pantomimes;--their battles are so
noisy, and the acclamations of the spectators so distressing to weak
nerves, I dread an Italian theatre--it distracts me.--And always the
same thing so, every and every night! how tedious it is!

This want of variety in the common pleasures of Italy though, and that
surprising content with which a nation so sprightly looks on the same
stuff, and laughs at the same joke for months and months together, is
perhaps less despicable to a thinking mind, than the affectation of
weariness and disgust, where probably it is not felt at all; and where a
gay heart often lurks under a clouded countenance, put on to deceive
spectators into a notion of his philosophy who wears it; and what is
worse, who wears it chiefly as a mark of distinction cheaply obtained;
for neither science, wit, nor courage are _now_ found necessary to form
a man of fashion, or the _ton_, to which may be said as justly as ever
Mr. Pope affirmed it of silence,

    That routed reason finds her sure retreat in thee.

Affectation is certainly that faint and sickly weed which is the curse
of cultivated,--not naturally fertile and extensive countries; an insect
that infests our forcing stoves and hot-house plants: and as the
naturalists tell us all animals may be bred _down_ to a state very
different from that in which they were originally placed; that
_carriers_, and _fantails_, and _croppers_, are produced by early
caging, and minutely attending to the common blue pigeon, flights of
which cover the ploughed fields in distant provinces of England, and
shew the rich and changeable plumage of their fine neck to the summer
sun; so from the warm and generous Briton of ancient days may be
produced, and happily bred _down_, the clay-cold coxcomb of St.
James's-street.

In Italy, so far at least as I have gone, there is no impertinent desire
of appearing what one is _not_: no searching for talk, and torturing
expression to vary its phrases with something new and something fine; or
else sinking into silence from despair of diverting the company, and
taking up the opposite method, contriving to impress them with an idea
of bright intelligence, concealed by modest doubts of our own powers,
and stifled by deep thought upon abstruse and difficult topics. To get
quit of all these deep-laid systems of enjoyment, where

    To take our breakfast we project a scheme,
    Nor drink our tea without a stratagem,

like the lady in Doctor Young; the surest method is to drop into Italy;
where a conversazione at Venice or Florence, after the society of
London, or _les petit soupers de Paris_, where, in their own phrase, _un
tableau n'attend pas l'autre_[Footnote: One picture don't wait for
another.], is like taking a walk in Ham Gardens, or the Leasowes, after
_les parterres de Versailles ed i Terrazzi di Genoa_. We are affected in
the house, but natural in the gardens. Italians are natural in society,
affected and constrained in the disposition of their grounds. No one,
however, is good or bad, or wise or foolish without a reason why.
Restraint is made for man, and where religious and political liberty is
enjoyed to its full extent, as in Great Britain, the people will forge
shackles for themselves, and lay the yoke heavy on society, to which, on
the contrary, Italians give a loose, as compensation for their want of
freedom in affairs of church or state.

It is, I think, observable of uncontradicted, homebred, and, as we say,
spoiled children, that when a dozen of them get together for the purpose
of passing a day in mutual amusement, they will make to themselves the
strictest laws for their game, and rigidly punish whatever breach of
rule has been made while the time allotted for diversion lasts: but in a
school of girls, strictly kept, at _their_ hours of permitted recreation
no distinct sounds can be heard through the general clamour of joy and
confusion; nor does any thing come less into their heads than the notion
of imposing regulations on themselves, or making sport out of the harsh
sounds of _rule and government_.

Ridicule too points her arrows only among highly-polished
societies--_Paris_ and _London_, in the first of which all wit is
comprised in the power of ridiculing one's neighbours, and in the other
every artifice is put in practice to escape it. In Italy no such
terrors restrain conversation; no public censure pursues that
fantastical behaviour which leads to no public offence; and as it is
only fear which can beget falsehood, these people seek such behavior as
naturally suits them; and in our theatrical phrase, they let the
character come to them, they do not go to the character.

Let us not fail to remember after all, that such severity as we use,
quickens the desire of pleasing, and deadens the diffusion of immoral
sentiments, or indelicate language, in England; where, I must add, for
the honour of my country, that if such liberties were taken upon the
stage as are frequent in the first ranks of Italian society, they would
be hissed by those who paid only a shilling for their entrance: so that
affectation and a forced refinement may be considered as the bad leaden
statues still left in our delicately-neat and highly-ornamented gardens;
of which elegance and science are the white and red roses: but to be
possessed of their _sweets_, one must venture a little through the
_thorns_.--_Thorns_, though figurative, remind one of the _cicala_, a
creature which leaves nothing else untouched here. Surely their clamours
and depredations have no equal. I used to walk in the Boboli Gardens,
defying the heat, till they had eaten up the little shade some hedges
there afforded me; and till, by their incessant noise, all thought is
disturbed, and no line presented itself to my memory but

    Sole sob ardenti resonant arbusta Cicadis[W];

[Footnote W:
    While in the scorching sun I trace in vain
    Thy flying footsteps o'er the burning plain,
    The creaking locusts with my voice conspire,
    They fried with heat, and I with fierce desire.

    DRYDEN.
]

till Mr. Merry's sweet ode to summer here at Florence made one less
discontented,

    To hear the light cicala's ceaseless din,
    That vibrates shrill; or the near-weeping brook
    That feebly winds along,
    And mourns his channel shrunk.

    MERRY.

This animal has four wings, four eyes, and two membranes like parchment
under the hard scales he is covered with; and these, it is said, create
the uncommon noise he makes, by blowing them somewhat like bellows, to
sharpen the sound; which, whatever it proceeds from, is louder than can
be guessed at by those who have not heard it in Tuscany. He is of the
locust kind, an inch and a half long, and wonderfully light in
proportion; though no small feeder, I should imagine, by the total
destruction his noisy tribe make amongst the leaves, which are now
wholly stript by them of all their verdure, the fibres only being left;
and I observed yesterday evening, as we returned from airing, another
strange deprivation practised on the mulberry leaves round the city,
which being all forcibly torn away for the use of the silk-worms, make
an odd fort of artificial winter near the town walls; and remind one of
the wretched geese in Lincolnshire, plucked once a year for their
feathers by their truly unfeeling proprietors. I am told indeed, that
both revegetate, though I trust neither tree nor bird can fail to
experience fatal effects one day or other in consequence of so unnatural
an operation. Here is some ivy of uncommon growth, but I have seen
larger both at Beaumaris castle in North Wales, and at the abbey of
Glastonbury in Somersetshire: but the great pines in the Caseine woods
have, I suppose, no rival nearer than the Castagno a Cento Cavalli,
mentioned by Mr. Brydone. They afford little shade or shelter from heat
however, as their umbrella-like covering is strangely small in
proportion to their height and size; some of them being ten, and some
twelve feet in diameter. These venerable, these glorious productions of
nature are all now marked for destruction however; all going to be put
in wicker baskets, and feed the Grand Duke's fires. I saw a fellow
hewing one down to-day, and the rest are all to follow;--the feeble
Florentines had much ado to master it;

    Seemed the harmful hatchet to fear,
    And to wound holy Eld would forbear,

as Spenser says: I did half hope they could not get it down; but the
loyal Tuscans (evermore awed by the name _principe_) told us it was
right to get rid of them, as one of the cones, of which they bore vast
quantities, might chance to drop upon the head of a _Principettino_, or
little Prince, as he passed along.

I was observing that restraint was necessary to man; I have now learned
a notion that noise is necessary too. The clatter made here in the
Piazza del Duomo, where you sit in your carriage at a coffee-house door,
and chat with your friends according to Italian custom, while _one_
eats ice, and _another_ calls for lemonade, to while away the time after
dinner, the noise made then and there, I say, is beyond endurance.

Our Florentines have nothing on earth to do; yet a dozen fellows crying
_ciambelli_, little cakes, about the square, assisted by beggars, who
lie upon the church steps, and pray or rather promise to pray as loud as
their lungs will let them, for the _anime sante di purgatorio_[Footnote:
Holy souls in purgatory.]; ballad-singers meantime endeavouring to drown
these clamours in their own, and gentlemen's servants disputing at the
doors, whose master shall be first served; ripping up the pedigrees of
each to prove superior claims for a biscuit or macaroon; do make such an
intolerable clatter among them, that one cannot, for one's life, hear
one another speak: and I did say just now, that it were as good live at
Brest or Portsmouth when the rival fleets were fitting out, as here;
where real tranquillity subsists under a bustle merely imaginary. Our
Grand Duke lives with little state for aught I can observe here; but
where there is least pomp, there is commonly most power; for a man must
have _something pour se de dommages_[Footnote: To make himself amends.],
as the French express it; and this gentleman possessing the _solide_ has
no care for the _clinquant_, I trow. He tells his subjects when to go to
bed, and who to dance with, till the hour he chuses they should retire
to rest, with exactly that sort of old-fashioned paternal authority that
fathers used to exercise over their families in England before commerce
had run her levelling plough over all ranks, and annihilated even the
name of subordination. If he hear of any person living long in Florence
without being able to give a good account of his business there, the
Duke warns him to go away; and if he loiter after such warning given,
sends him out. Does any nobleman shine in pompous equipage or splendid
table; the Grand Duke enquires soon into his pretensions, and scruples
not to give personal advice, and add grave reproofs with regard to the
management of each individual's private affairs, the establishment of
their sons, marriage of their sisters, &c. When they appeared to
complain of this behaviour to _me_, I know not, replied I, what to
answer: one has always read and heard that the Sovereigns ought to
behave in despotic governments like the _fathers of their family_: and
the Archbishop of Cambray inculcates no other conduct than this, when
advising his pupil, heir to the crown of France. "Yes, Madam," replied
one of my auditors, with an acuteness truly Italian; "but this Prince is
_our father-in-law_." The truth is, much of an English traveller's
pleasure is taken off at Florence by the incessant complaints of a
government he does not understand, and of oppressions he cannot remedy.
Tis so dull to hear people lament the want of liberty, to which I
question whether they have any pretensions; and without ever knowing
whether it is the tyranny or the tyrant they complain of. Tedious
however and most uninteresting are their accounts of grievances, which a
subject of Great Britain has much ado to comprehend, and more to pity;
as they are now all heart-broken, because they must say their prayers in
their own language and not in Latin, which, how it can be construed
into misfortune, a Tuscan alone can tell.

Lord Corke has given us many pleasing anecdotes of those who were
formerly Princes in this land. Had they a sovereign of the old Medici
family, they would go to bed when _he_ bid them quietly enough I
believe, and say their prayers in what language _he_ would have them:
'tis in our parliamentary phrase, the _men_, not the _measures_ that
offend them; and while they pretend to whine as if despotism displeased
them, they detest every republican state, feel envy towards Venice, and
contempt for Lucca.

I would rather talk of their gallery than their government: and surely
nothing made by man ever so completely answered a raised expectation, as
the apparent contest between Titian's recumbent beauty, glowing with
colour and animated by the warmest expression, and the Greek statue of
symmetrical perfection and fineness of form inimitable, where sculpture
supplies all that fancy can desire, and all that imagination can
suggest. These two models of excellence seem placed near each other, at
once to mock all human praise, and defy all future imitation. The
listening slave appears disturbed by the blows of the wrestlers in the
same room, and hearkens with an attentive impatience, such as one has
often felt when unable to distinguish the words one wishes to repeat.
You really then do not seem as if you were alone in this tribune, so
animated is every figure, so full of life and soul: yet I commend not
the representing of St Catharine with leering eyes, as she is here
painted by Titian; that it is meant for a portrait, I find no excuse;
some character more suited to the expression should have been chosen;
and if it were only the picture of a saint, that expression was
strangely out of character. An anachronism may be found in the Tobit
over the door too, by acute observers, who will deem it ill-managed to
paint the cross in the clouds, where it is an old testament story, and
that story apocryphal beside; might I add, that Guido's meek Madonna, so
divinely contrasted to the other women in the room, loses something of
dignity by the affected position of the thumbs. I think I might leave
the tribune without a word said of the St. John by Raphael, which no
words are worthy to extol: 'tis all sublimity; and when I look on it I
feel nothing but veneration pushed to astonishment. Unlike the elegant
figure of the Baptist at Padua, covered with glass, and belonging to a
convent of friars, who told me, and truly, That it had no equal; it is
painted by Guido with every perfection of form and every grace of
expression. I agree with them it has no equal; but in the tribune at
Florence maybe found its superior.

We were next conducted to the Niobe, who has an apartment to herself:
and now, thought I, dear Mrs. Siddons has never seen this figure: but
those who can see it or her, without emotions equally impossible to
contain or to suppress, deserve the fate of Niobe, and have already
half-suffered it. Their hearts and eyes are stone.

Nothing is worth speaking of after this Niobe! Her beauty! her maternal
anguish! her closely-clasped Chloris! her half-raised head, scarcely
daring to deprecate that vengeance of which she already feels such
dreadful effects! What can one do

    But drop the shady curtain on the scene,

and run to see the portraits of those artists who have exalted one's
ideas of human nature, and shewn what man can perform. Among these
worthies a British eye soon distinguishes Sir Joshua Reynolds; a citizen
of the world fastens his to Leonardo da Vinci.

I have been out to dinner in the country near Prato, and what a
charming, what a delightful thing is a nobleman's seat near Florence!
How cheerful the society! how splendid the climate! how wonderful the
prospects in this glorious country! The Arno rolling before his house,
the Appenines rising behind it! a sight of fertility enjoyed by its
inhabitants, and a view of such defences to their property as nature
alone can bestow.

A peasantry so rich too, that the wives and daughters of the farmer go
dressed in jewels; and those of no small value. A pair of one-drop
ear-rings, a broadish necklace, with a long piece hanging down the
bosom, and terminated with a cross, all of set garnets clear and
perfect, is a common, a _very_ common treasure to the females about this
country; and on every Sunday or holiday, when they dress and mean to
look pretty, their elegantly-disposed ornaments attract attention
strongly; though I do not think them as handsome as the Lombard lasses,
and our Venetian friends protest that the farmers at Crema in _their_
state are still richer.

La Contadinella Toscana however, in a very rich white silk petticoat,
exceedingly full and short, to shew her neat pink slipper and pretty
ancle, her pink _corps de robe_ and straps, with white silk lacing down
the stomacher, puffed shirt sleeves, with heavy lace robbins ending at
the elbow, and fastened at the shoulders with at least eight or nine
bows of narrow pink ribbon, a lawn handkerchief trimmed with broad lace,
put on somewhat coquettishly, and finishing in front with a nosegay,
must make a lovely figure at any rate: though the hair is drawn away
from the face in a way rather too tight to be becoming, under a red
velvet cushion edged with gold, which helps to wear it off I think, but
gives the small Leghorn hat, lined with green, a pretty perking air,
which is infinitely nymphish and smart. A tolerably pretty girl so
dressed may surely more than vie with a _fille d' opera_ upon the Paris
stage, even were she not set off as these are with a very rich suit of
pearls or set garnets, that in France or England would not be purchased
for less than forty or fifty pounds: and I am now speaking of the women
perpetually under one's eye; not one or two picked from the crowd, like
Mrs. Vanini, an inn-keeper's wife in Florence, who, when she was dressed
for the masquerade two nights ago, submitted her finery to Mrs.
Greatheed's inspection and my own; who agreed she could not be so
adorned in England for less than a thousand pounds.

It is true the nobility are proud of letting you see how comfortably
their dependants live in Tuscany; but can any pride be more rational or
generous, or any desire more patriotick? Oh may they never look with
less delight on the happiness of their inferiors! and then they will not
murmur at their prince, whose protection of _this_ rank among his
subjects is eminently tender and attentive.

Returning home from our splendid dinner and agreeable day passed at
Conte Mannucci's country-seat, while our noble friends amused me with
various chat, I thought some unaccountable sparks of fire seemed to
strike up and down the hedges as if in perpetual motion, but checked
the fancy concluding it a trick of the imagination only; till the
evening, which shuts in strangely quick here in Tuscany, grew dark, and
exhibited an appearance wholly new to me; whose surprise that no flame
followed these wandering fires was not small, when I recollected the
state of desiccation that nature suffered, and had done for some months.
My dislike of interrupting an agreeable conversation kept me long from
enquiring into the cause of this appearance, which however I doubted not
was electrick, till they told me it was the _lucciola_, or fire-fly; of
which a very good account is given in twenty books, but I had forgotten
them all. As the Florence Miscellany has never been published, I will
copy out what is said of it _there_, because the Abate Fontana was
consulted when that description was given.

"This insect then differs from every other of the luminous tribe,
because its light is by no means continual, but emitted by flashes,
suddenly striking out as it flies; when crushed it leaves a lustre on
the spot for a considerable time, from whence one may conclude its
nature is phosphorick."

    Oh vagrant insect, type of our short life,
    'Tis thus we shine, and vanish from the view;
    For the cold season comes,
    And all our lustre's o'er.

    MERRY's Ode to Summer.

It is said I think, that no animal affords an acid except ants, which
are therefore most quickly destroyed by lime, pot-ash, &c. or any strong
alkali of course; yet acid must the lucciola be proved, or she can never
be phosphorick surely; as upon its analysis that strangest of all
compositions appears to be a union of violent acid with inflammable
matter, whence it may be termed an animal sulphur, and is actually found
to burn successfully under a common glass-bell; and to afford flowers
too, which, by attracting the humidity of the air, become a liquor like
_oleum sulphuris per campanam_[Footnote: Oil of sulphur by the bell.].

The colour of the sky viewed, when one dares to look at it, through this
pure atmosphere is particularly beautiful; of a much more brilliant and
celestial blue I think, than it appeared from the tower of St. Mark's
Place, Venice. Were I to affirm that the sea is of a more peculiar
transparent brightness upon the coast of North Wales than elsewhere, it
would seem prejudice perhaps, and yet is strictly true: I am not less
persuaded that the sky appears of a finer tint in Tuscany than any other
country I have visited:--Naples is however the vaunted climate, and that
yet remains to be examined.

I have been shewed, at the horse-race, the theatre, &c. the unfortunate
grandson of King James the Second. He goes much into publick still,
though old and sickly; gives the English arms and livery, and wears the
garter, which he has likewise bestowed upon his natural daughter. The
Princess of Stoldberg, his consort, whom he always called Queen, has
left him to end a life of disappointment and sorrow by _himself_, with
the sad reflection, that even conjugal attachment, and of course
domestic comfort, was denied to _him_, and fled--in defiance of poetry
and fiction--fled with the crown, to its powerful and triumphant
possessors.

The Duomo, or Cathedral, has engaged my attention all to-day: its
prodigious size, perfect proportions, and exquisite taste, ought to
have detained me longer. Though the outside does not please me as well
as if it had been less rich and less magnificent. Superfluity always
defeats its own purpose, of striking you with awe at its superior
greatness; while simplicity looks on, and laughs at its vain attempts.
This wonderful church, built of striped marbles, white, black, and red
alternately, has scarcely the air of being so composed, but looks like
painted ivory to _me_, who am obliged to think, and think again, before
I can be sure it is of so ponderous and massy, as well as so inestimable
a substance: nor can I, without more than equal difficulty, persuade
myself to give its sudden view the decided preference over St. Paul's in
London, which never, never misses its immediate effect on a spectator,

    But stands sublime in simplest majesty.

The Battisterio is another structure close to the church, and of
surprising beauty; Michael Angelo said the gates of it deserved to be
those which open Paradise: and that speech was more the speech of a good
workman, than of a man whose mind was exalted by his profession. The
gates are of brass, divided into ninety-six compartments each, and
carved with such variety of invention, such elaboration of art and
ingenuity, that no praise except that which he gave them could have been
too high. The font has not been used since the days when immersion in
baptism was deemed necessary to salvation; a ceremony still considered
by the Greek church as indispensable. Why the disputes concerning _this_
sacrament were carried on with more decency and less lasting rancour
among Christians, than those which related to the other great pledge of
our pardon, the communicating with our Saviour Christ in his last
Supper, I know not, nor can imagine. Every page of ecclesiastical
history exhibits the tenaciousness with which the smallest attendant
circumstance on this last-mentioned sacrament has been held fast by the
Romanists, who dropped the immersion at baptism of themselves; and in so
warm a climate too! it moves my wonder; when nothing is more obvious to
the meanest understanding, than that if the first sacrament is not
rightly and duly administered, we never shall arrive at receiving the
other at all. I hope it is impossible for any one less than myself to
wish the continuance or revival of contentions so disgraceful to
humanity in general; so peculiarly repugnant to the true spirit of
Christianity, which consists chiefly in charity, and that brotherly love
we know to have been cemented by the blood of our blessed Lord: yet very
strange it is to think, that while other innovations have been resisted
even to death, scarcely any among the many sects we have divided into,
retain the original form in that ceremony so emphatically called
_christening_.

These observations suggested by the sight of the old font at Florence
shall now be succeeded by lighter subjects of reflection; among which
the first that presents itself is the superior elegance of the language;
for till we arrive _here_, all is dialect; though by this word I would
not have any one mistake me, or understand it as meant in the limited
sense of a provincial jargon, such as Yorkshire, Derbyshire, or
Cornwall, present us with; where every sound is corruption, barbarism,
and vulgarity.

The States of Italy being all under different rulers, are kept separate
from each other, and speak a different dialect; that of Milan full of
consonants and harsh to the ear, but abounding with classical
expressions that rejoice one's heart, and fill one with the oddest but
most pleasing sensations imaginable. I heard a lady there call a runaway
nobleman _Profugo_ mighty prettily; and added, that his conduct had put
all the town into _orgasmo grande_. All this, however, the Tuscans may
possibly have in common with them. My knowledge of the language must
remain ever too imperfect for me to depend on my own skill in it; all I
can assert is, that the Florentines _appear_, as far as I have been
competent to observe, to depend more on their own copious and beautiful
language for expression, than the Milanese do; who run to Spanish,
Greek, or Latin for assistance, while half their tongue is avowedly
borrowed from the French, whose pronunciation, in the letter _u_, they
even profess to retain.

At Venice, the sweetness of the patois is irresistible; their lips,
incapable of uttering any but the sweetest sounds, reject all
consonants they can get quit of; and make their mouths drop honey more
completely than it can be said by any eloquence less mellifluous than
their own.

The Bolognese dialect is detested by the other Italians, as gross and
disagreeable in its sounds: but every nation has the good word of its
own inhabitants; and the language which Abbate Bianconi praises as
nervous and expressive, I would advise no person, less learned than
himself, to censure as disgusting, or condemn as dull. I staid very
little at Bologna; saw nothing but their pictures, and heard nothing but
their prayers: those were superior, I fancy, to all rivals. Language can
be never spoken of by a foreigner to any effect of conviction. I have
heard our countryman. Mr. Greatheed himself, who perhaps possesses more
Italian than almost any Englishman, and studies it more closely, refuse
to decide in critical disputations among his literary friends here,
though the sonnets he writes in the Tuscan language are praised by the
natives, who best understand it, and have been by some of them preferred
to those written by Milton himself. Mean time this is acknowledged to
be the prime city for purity of phrase and delicacy of expression,
which, at last, is so disguised to me by the guttural manner in which
many sounds are pronounced, that I feel half weary of running about from
town to town so, and never arriving at any, where I can understand the
conversation without putting all the attention possible to their
discourse. I am now told that less efforts will be necessary at Rome.

Nothing can be prettier, however, than the slow and tranquil manners of
a Florentine; nothing more polished than his general address and
behaviour: ever in the third person, though to a blackguard in the
street, if he has not the honour of his particular acquaintance, while
intimacy produces _voi_ in those of the highest rank, who call one
another Carlo and Angelo very sweetly; the ladies taking up the same
notion, and saying Louisa, or Maddalena, without any addition at all.

The Don and Donna of Milan were offensive to me somehow, as they
conveyed an idea of Spain, not Italy. Here Signora is the term, which
better pleases one's ear, and Signora Contessa, Signora Principessa, if
the person is of higher quality, resembles our manners more when we say
my Lady Dutchess, &c. What strikes me as most observable, is the
uniformity of style in all the great towns.

At Venice the men of literature and fashion speak with the same accent,
and I believe the same quick turns of expression as their Gondolier; and
the coachman at Milan talks no broader than the Countess; who, if she
does not speak always in French to a foreigner, as she would willingly
do, tries in vain to talk Italian; and having asked you thus, _alla
capi?_ which means _ha ella capita?_ laughs at herself for trying to
_toscaneggiare_, as she calls it, and gives the point up with _no cor
altr._ that comes in at the end of every sentence, and means _non
occorre altro_; there is no more occurs upon the subject.

The Laquais de Place who attended us at Bologna was one of the few
persons I had met then, who spoke a language perfectly intelligible to
me. "Are you a Florentine, pray friend, said I?" "No, madam, but the
_combinations_ of this world having led me to talk much with strangers,
I contrive to _tuscanize_ it all I can for _their_ advantage, and doubt
not but it will tend to my own at last."

Such a sentiment, so expressed by a footman, would set a plain man in
London a laughing, and make a fanciful Lady imagine he was a nobleman
disguised. Here nobody laughs, nor nobody stares, nor wonders that their
valet speaks just as good language, or utters as well-turned sentences
as themselves. Their cold answer to my amazement is as comical as the
fellow's fine style--_e battizzato_[Footnote: He has been baptized.],
say they, _come noi altri_[Footnote: As well as we.]. But we are called
away to hear the fair Fantastici, a young woman who makes improviso
verses, and sings them, as they tell me, with infinite learning and
taste. She is successor to the celebrated Corilla, who no longer
exhibits the power she once held without a rival: yet to _her_
conversations every one still strives for admittance, though she is now
ill, and old, and hoarse with repeated colds. She spares, however, now
by no labour or fatigue to obtain and keep that superiority and
admiration which one day perhaps gave her almost equal trouble to
receive and to repay. But who can bear to lay their laurels by? Corilla
is gay by nature, and witty, if I may say so, by habit; replete with
fancy, and powerful to combine images apparently distant. Mankind is at
last more just to people of talents than is universally allowed, I
think. Corilla, without pretensions either to immaculate character (in
the English sense), deep erudition, or high birth, which an Italian
esteems above all earthly things, has so made her way in the world, that
all the nobility of both sexes crowd to her house; that no Prince passes
through Florence without waiting on Corilla; that the Capitol will long
recollect her being crowned there, and that many sovereigns have not
only sought her company, but have been obliged to put up with slights
from her independent spirit, and from her airy, rather than haughty
behaviour. She is, however, (I cannot guess why) not rich, and keeps no
carriage; but enjoying all the effect of money, convenience, company,
and general attention, is probably very happy; as she does not much
suffer her thoughts of the next world to disturb her felicity in
_this_, I believe, while willing to turn every thing into mirth, and
make all admire _her wit_, even at the expence of _their own virtue_.
The following Epigram, made by her, will explain my meaning, and give a
specimen of her present powers of improvisation, undecayed by ill
health; and I might add, _undismayed_ by it. An old gentleman here, one
Gaetano Testa Grossa had a young wife, whose name was Mary, and who
brought him a son when he was more than seventy years old. Corilla led
him gaily into the circle of company with these words:

    "Miei Signori Io vi presento
      Il buon Uomo Gaetano;
    Che non sa che cosa sia
      Il misterio sovr'umano
    Del Figliuolo di Maria."

Let not the infidels triumph however, or rank among them the
truly-illustrious Corilla! 'Twas but the rage, I hope, of keeping at any
rate the fame she has gained, when the sweet voice is gone, which once
enchanted all who heard it--like the daughters of Pierius in Ovid.

And though I was exceedingly entertained by the present improvisatrice,
the charming Fantastici, whose youth, beauty, erudition, and fidelity to
her husband, give her every claim upon one's heart, and every just
pretension to applause, I could not, in the midst of that delight, which
classick learning and musical excellence combined to produce, forbear a
grateful recollection of the civilities I had received from Corilla, and
half-regretting that her rival should be so successful;

    For tho' the treacherous tapster, Thomas,
    Hangs a new angel ten doors from us,
    We hold it both a shame and sin
    To quit the true old Angel Inn.

Well! if some people have too little appearance of respect for religion,
there are others who offend one by having too much, and so the balance
is kept even.

We were a walking last night in the gardens of Porto St. Gallo, and met
two or three well-looking women of the second rank, with a baby, four or
five years old at most, dressed in the habit of a Dominican Friar,
bestowing the benediction as he walked along like an officiating Priest.
I felt a shock given to all my nerves at once, and asked Cavalier
D'Elci the meaning of so strange a device. His reply to me was, "_E
divozione mal intesa, Signora_[Footnote: 'Tis ill-understood devotion,
madam.];" and turning round to the other gentlemen, "Now this folly,"
said he, "a hundred years ago would have been the object of profound
veneration and prodigious applause. Fifty years hence it would be
censured as hypocritical; it is now passed by wholly unnoticed, except
by this foreign Lady, who, I believe, thought it was done for a joke.

I have had a little fever since I came hither from the intense heat I
trust; but my maid has a worse still. Doctor Bicchierei, with that
liberality which ever is found to attend real learning, prescribed
James's powders to _her_, and bid me attend to Buchan's Domestick
Medicine, and I should do well enough he said.

Mr. Greatheed, Mr. Parsons, Mr. Biddulph, and Mr. Piozzi, have been
together on a party of pleasure to see the renowned Vallombrosa, and
came home contradicting Milton, who says the devils lay bestrewn

    Thick as autumnal leaves in Vallombrosa:

Whereas, say they, the trees are all evergreen in those woods. Milton,
it seems, was right notwithstanding: for the botanists tell me, that
nothing makes more litter than the shedding of leaves, which, replace
themselves by others, as on the plants stiled ever-green, which change
like every tree, but only do not change all at once, and remain stript
till spring. They spoke highly of their very kind and hospitable
reception at the convent, where

    Safe from pangs the worldling knows,
    Here secure in calm repose,
    Far from life's perplexing maze,
    The pious fathers pass their days;
    While the bell's shrill-tinkling sound
    Regulates their constant round.

And

    Here the traveller elate
    Finds an ever-open gate:
    All his wants find quick supply,
    While welcome beams from every eye.

    PARSONS.

This pious foundation of retired Benedictines, situated in the
Appenines, about eighteen miles from Florence, owes its original to
Giovanni Gualberto, a Tuscan nobleman, whose brother Hugo having been
killed by a relation in the year 1015, he resolved to avenge his death;
but happening to meet the assassin alone and in a solitary place,
whither he appeared to have been driven by a sense of guilt, and seeing
him suddenly drop down at his feet, and without uttering a word produce
from his bosom a crucifix, holding it up in a supplicating gesture, with
look submissively imploring, he felt the force of this silent rhetoric,
and generously gave his enemy free pardon.

On further reflection upon the striking scene, Gualberto felt still more
affected; and from seeing the dangers and temptations which surround a
bustling life, resolved to quit the too much mixed society of mankind,
and settle in a state of perpetual retirement. For this purpose he chose
Vallombrosa, and there founded the famous convent so justly admired by
all who visit it.

Such stories lead one forward to the tombs of Michael Angelo and the
great Galileo, which last I looked on to-day with reverence, pity, and
wonder; to think that a change so surprising should be made in worldly
affairs since his time; that the man who no longer ago than the year
1636, was by the torments and terrors of the Inquisition obliged
formally to renounce, as heretical, accursed, and contrary to religion,
the revived doctrines of Copernicus, should now have a monument erected
to his memory, in the very city where he was born, whence he was cruelly
torn away to answer at Rome for the supposed offence; to which he
returned; and strange to tell, in which he lived on, by his own desire,
with the wife who, by her discovery of his sentiments, and information
given to the priests accordingly, had caused his ruin; and who, after
his death, in a fit of mad mistaken zeal, flung into the fire, in
company with her confessor, all the papers she could find in his study.

How wonderful are these events! and how sweet must the science of
astronomy have been to that poor man, who suffered all but actual
martyrdom in its cause! How odd too, that ever Galileo's son, by such a
mother as we have just described, should apply himself to the same
studies, and be the inventor of the simple pendulum so necessary to
every kind of clock-work!

Religious prejudices however, and their effects--and thanks be to God
their almost final conclusion too--may be found nearer home than
Galileo's tomb; while Milton has a monument in the same cathedral with
Dr. South, who perhaps would have given credit to no _human_
information, which should have told him that event would take place.

We are now going soon to leave Florence, seat of the arts and residence
of literature! I shall be sincerely sorry to quit a city where not a
step can be taken without a new or a revived idea being added to our
store;--where such statues as would in England have colleges founded, or
palaces built for their reception, stand in the open street; the
Centaur, the Sabine woman, and the Justice: Where the Madonna della
Seggiola reigns triumphant over all pictures for brilliancy of colouring
and vigour of pencil.

It was the portrait of Raphaelle's favourite mistress, and his own child
by her sate for the Bambino:--is it then wonderful that it should want
that heavenly expression of dignity divine, and grace unutterable, which
breathes through the school of Caracci? Connoisseurs will have all
excellence united in one picture, and quarrel unkindly if merit of any
kind be wanting: Surely the Madonna della Seggiola has nature to
recommend it, and much more need not be desired. If the young and tender
and playful innocence of early infancy is what chiefly delights and
detains one's attention, it may be found to its utmost possible
perfection in a painter far inferior to Raphael, Carlo Marratt.

If softness in the female character, and meek humility of countenance,
be all that are wanted for the head of a Madonna, we must go to
Elisabetta Sirani and Sassoferrata I think; but it is ever so. The
Cordelia of Mrs. Cibber was beyond all comparison softer and sweeter
than that of her powerful successor Siddons; yet who will say that the
actresses were equal?

But I must bid adieu to beautiful Florence, where the streets are kept
so clean one is afraid to dirty _them_, and not _one's self_, by walking
in them: where the public walks are all nicely weeded, as in England,
and the gardens have a homeish and Bath-like look, that is excessively
cheering to an English eye:--where, when I dined at Prince Corsini's
table, I heard the Cardinal say grace, and thought of the ceremonies at
Queen's College, Oxford; where I had the honour of entertaining, at my
own dinner on the 25th of July, many of the Tuscan, and many of the
English nobility; and Nardini kindly played a solo in the evening at a
concert we gave in Meghitt's great room:--where we have compiled the
little book amongst us, known by the name of the Florence Miscellany; as
a memorial of that friendship which does me so much honour, and which I
earnestly hope may long subsist among us:--where in short we have lived
exceeding comfortably, but where dear Mrs. Greatheed and myself have
encouraged each other, in saying it would be particularly sad to _die_,
not of the gnats, or more properly musquitoes, for they do not sting one
quite to death, though their venom has swelled my arm so as to oblige me
to carry it for this last week in a sling; but of the _mal di petto_,
which is endemial in this country, and much resembling our pleurisy in
its effects.

Blindness too seems no uncommon misfortune at Florence, from the strong
reverberation of the sun's rays on houses of the cleanest and most
brilliant whiteness; kept so elegantly nice too, that I should despair
of seeing more delicacy at Amsterdam.

Apoplexies are likewise frequent enough: I saw a man carried out stone
dead from St. Pancrazio's church one morning about noon-day; but nobody
seemed disturbed at the event I think, except myself. Though this is no
good town to take one's last leave of life in neither; as the body one
has been so long taking care of, would in twenty-four hours be hoisted
up upon a common cart, with those of all the people who died the same
day, and being fairly carried out of Porto San Gallo towards the dusk of
evening, would be shot into a hole dug away from the city, properly
enough, to protect Florence, and keep it clear of putrid disorders and
disagreeable smells. All this with little ceremony to be sure, and less
distinction; for the Grand Duke suffers the pride of birth to last no
longer than life however, and demolishes every hope of the woman of
quality lying in a separate grave from the distressed object who begged
at her carriage door when she was last on an airing.

Let me add, that his liberality of sentiment extends to virtue on the
one hand, if hardness of heart may be complained of on the other. He
suffers no difference of opinions to operate on his philosophy, and I
believe we heretics here should sleep among the best of his Tuscan
nobles. But there is no comfort in the possibility of being buried alive
by the excessive haste with which people are catched up and hurried
away, before it can be known almost whether all sparks of life are
extinct or no. Such management, and the lamentations one hears made by
the great, that they should thus be forced to keep _bad company_ after
death, remind me for ever of an old French epigram, the sentiment of
which I perfectly recollect, but have forgotten the verses, of which
however these lines are no unfaithful translation;

    I dreamt that in my house of clay,
    A beggar buried by me lay;
    Rascal! go stink apart, I cry'd,
    Nor thus disgrace my noble side.
    Heyday! cries he, what's here to do?
    I'm on my dunghill sure, as well as you.

Of elegant Florence then, so ornamented and so lovely, so neat that it
is said she should be seen only on holidays; dedicated of old to Flora,
and still the residence of sweetness, grace, and the fine arts
particularly; of these kind friends too, so amiable, so hospitable,
where I had the choice of four boxes every night at the theatre, and a
certainty of charming society in each, we must at last unwillingly take
leave; and on to-morrow, the twelfth day of September 1785, once more
commit ourselves to our coach, which has hitherto met with no accident
that could affect us, and in which, with God's protection, I fear not my
journey through what is left of Italy; though such tremendous tales are
told in many of our travelling books, of terrible roads and wicked
postillions, and ladies labouring through the mire on foot, to arrive at
bad inns where nothing eatable could be found. All which however is less
despicable than Tournefort, the great French botanist; who, while his
works swell with learning, and sparkle with general knowledge; while he
enlarges _your_ stock of ideas, and displays _his own_; laments
pathetically that he could not get down the partridges caught for him in
one of the Archipelagon islands, because they were not larded--_a la
mode de Paris_.



LUCCA.


From the head-quarters of painting, sculpture, and architecture then,
where art is at her acme, and from a people polished into brilliancy,
perhaps a little into weakness, we drove through the celebrated vale of
Arno; thick hedges on each side us, which in spring must have been
covered with blossoms and fragrant with perfume; now loaded with
uncultivated fruits; the wild grape, raspberry, and azaroli, inviting to
every sense, and promising every joy. This beautiful and fertile, this
highly-adorned and truly delicious country carried us forward to Lucca,
where the panther sits at the gate, and liberty is written up on every
wall and door. It is so long since I have seen the word, that even the
letters of it rejoice my heart; but how the panther came to be its
emblem, who can tell? Unless the philosophy we learn from old Lilly in
our childhood were true, _nec vult panthera domari_[Footnote: That the
panther will never be tamed.].

That this fairy commonwealth should so long have maintained its
independency is strange; but Howel attributes her freedom to the active
and industrious spirit of the inhabitants, who, he says, resemble a hive
of bees, for order and for diligence. I never did see a place so
populous for the size of it: one is actually thronged running up and
down the streets of Lucca, though it is a little town enough for a
capital city to be sure; larger than Salisbury though, and prettier than
Nottingham, the beauties of both which places it unites with all the
charms peculiar to itself.

The territory they claim, and of which no power dares attempt to
dispossess them, is much about the size of _Rutlandshire_ I fancy;
surrounded and apparently fenced in on every side, by the Appenines as
by a wall, that wall a hot one, on the southern side, and wholly planted
over with vines, while the soft shadows which fall upon the declivity of
the mountains make it inexpressibly pretty; and form, by the particular
disposition of their light and shadow, a variety which no other prospect
so confined can possibly enjoy.

This is the Ilam gardens of Europe; and whoever has seen that singular
spot in Derbyshire belonging to Mr. Port, has seen little Lucca in a
convex mirror. Some writer calls it a ring upon the finger of the
Emperor, under whose protection it has been hitherto preserved safe from
the Grand Duke of Tuscany till these days, in which the interests of
those two sovereigns, united by intimacy as by blood and resemblance of
character, are become almost exactly the same.

A Doge, whom they call the _Principe_, is elected every two months; and
is assisted by ten senators in the administration of justice.

Their armoury is the prettiest plaything I ever yet saw, neatly kept,
and capable of furnishing twenty-five thousand men with arms. Their
revenues are about equal to the Duke of Bedford's I believe, eighty or
eighty-five thousand pounds sterling a year; every spot of ground
belonging to these people being cultivated to the highest pitch of
perfection that agriculture, or rather gardening (for one cannot call
these enclosures fields), will admit: and though it is holiday time just
now, I see no neglect of necessary duty. They were watering away this
morning at seven o'clock, just as we do in a nursery-ground about
London, a hundred men at once, or more, before they came home to make
themselves smart, and go to hear music in their best church, in honour
of some saint, I have forgotten who; but he is the patron of Lucca, and
cannot be accused of neglecting his charge, that is certain.

This city seems really under admirable regulations; here are fewer
beggars than even at Florence, where however one for fifty in the states
of Genoa or Venice do not meet your eyes: And either the word liberty
has bewitched me, or I see an air of plenty without insolence, and
business without noise, that greatly delight me. Here is much
cheerfulness too, and gay good-humour; but this is the season of
devotion at Lucca, and in these countries the ideas of devotion and
diversion are so blended, that all religious worship seems connected
with, and to me now regularly implies, _a festive show_.

Well, as the Italians say, "_Il mondo e bello perche e
variabile_[Footnote: The world is pleasant because it is various.]." We
English dress our clergymen in black, and go ourselves to the theatre
in colours. Here matters are reversed, the church at noon looked like a
flower-garden, so gaily adorned were the priests, confrairies, &c. while
the Opera-house at night had more the air of a funeral, as every body
was dressed in black: a circumstance I had forgotten the meaning of,
till reminded that such was once the emulation of finery among the
persons of fashion in this city, that it was found convenient to
restrain the spirit of expence, by obliging them to wear constant
mourning: a very rational and well-devised rule in a town so small,
where every body is known to every body; and where, when this silly
excitement to envy is wisely removed, I know not what should hinder the
inhabitants from living like those one reads of in the Golden Age;
which, above all others, this climate most resembles, where pleasure
contributes to sooth life, commerce to quicken it, and faith extends its
prospects to eternity. Such is, or such at least appears to me this
lovely territory of Lucca: where cheap living, free government, and
genteel society, may be enjoyed with a tranquillity unknown to larger
states: where there are delicious and salutary baths a few miles out of
town, for the nobility to make _villeggiatura_ at; and where, if those
nobility were at all disposed to cultivate and communicate learning,
every opportunity for study is afforded.

Some drawbacks will however always be found from human felicity. I once
mentioned this place with warm expectations of delight, to a Milanese
lady of extensive knowledge, and every elegant accomplishment worthy her
high birth, _the Contessa Melzi Resla_. "Why yes," said she, "if you
would find out the place where common sense stagnates, and every topic
of conversation dwindles and perishes away by too frequent or too
unskilful touching and handling, you must go to Lucca. My ill-health
sent me to their beautiful baths one summer; where all the faculties of
my body were restored, thank God, but those of my soul were stupified to
such a degree, that at last I was fit to keep no other company but _Dame
Lucchesi_ I think; and _our_ talk was soon ended, heaven knows, for when
they had once asked me of an evening, what I had for dinner? and told me
how many pair of stockings their neighbours sent to the wash, we had
done."

This was a young, a charming, a lively lady of quality; full of
curiosity to know the world, and of spirits to bustle through it; but
had she been battered through the various societies of London and Paris
for eighteen or twenty years together, she would have loved Lucca
better, and despised it less. "We must not look for whales in the Euxine
Sea," says an old writer; and we must not look for great men or great
things in little nations to be sure, but let us respect the innocence of
childhood, and regard with tenderness the territory of Lucca: where no
man has been murdered during the life or memory of any of its peaceful
inhabitants; where one robbery alone has been committed for sixteen
years; and the thief hanged by a Florentine executioner borrowed for the
purpose, no Lucchese being able or willing to undertake so horrible an
office, with terrifying circumstances of penitence and public
reprehension: where the governed are so few in proportion to the
governors; all power being circulated among four hundred and fifty
nobles, and the whole country producing scarcely ninety thousand souls.
A great boarding-school in England is really an infinitely more
licentious place; and grosser immoralities are every day connived at in
it, than are known to pollute this delicate and curious commonwealth;
which keeps a council always subsisting, called the _Discoli_, to
examine the lives and conduct, professions, and even _health_ of their
subjects: and once o'year they sweep the town of vagabonds, which till
then are caught up and detained in a house of correction, and made to
work, if hot disabled by lameness, till the hour of their release and
dismission. I wondered there were so few beggars about, but the reason
is now apparent: these we see are neighbours, come hither only for the
three days gala.

I was wonderfully solicitous to obtain some of their coin, which carries
on it the image of no _earthly_ prince; but his head only who came to
redeem us from general slavery on the one side, _Jesus Christ_; on the
other, the word _Libertas_.

Our peasant-girls here are in a new dress to me; no more jewels to be
seen, no more pearls; the finery of which so dazzled me in Tuscany:
these wenches are prohibited such ornaments it seems. A muslin
handkerchief, folded in a most becoming manner, and starched exactly
enough to make it wear clean four days, is the head-dress of Lucchese
lasses; it is put on turban-wise, and they button their gowns close,
with long sleeves _a la Savoyarde_; but it is made often of a stiff
brocaded silk, and green lapels, with cuffs of the same colour; nor do
they wear any hats at all, to defend them from a sun which does
undoubtedly mature the fig and ripen the vine, but which, by the same
excess of power, exalts the venom of the viper, and gives the scorpion
means to keep me in perpetual torture for fear of his poison, of which,
though they assure us death is seldom the consequence among _them_, I
know his sting would finish me at once, because the gnats at Florence
were sufficient to lame me for a considerable time.

The dialect has lost much of the guttural sound that hurt one's ear at
the last place of residence; but here is an odd squeaking accent, that
distinguishes the Tuscan of Lucca.

The place appropriated for airing, showing fine equipages, &c. is
beautiful beyond all telling; from the peculiar shadows on the
mountains. They make the bastions of the town their Corso, but none
except the nobles can go and drive upon one part of it. I know not how
many yards of ground is thus let apart, sacred to sovereignty; but it
makes one laugh.

Our inn here is an excellent one, as far as I am concerned; and the
sallad-oil green, like Irish usquebaugh, nothing was ever so excellent.
I asked the French valet who dresses our hair, "_Si ce n'etait pas une
republique mignonne?_[X]"--"_Ma foy, madame, je la trouve plus tot la
republique des rats et des souris[Y];_" replies the fellow, who had not
slept all night, I afterwards understood, for the noise those
troublesome animals made in his room.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote X: If it were not a dear little pretty commonwealth--this?]

[Footnote Y: Faith, madam, I call it the republic of the rats and
mice.]



PISA.


This town has been so often described that it is as well known in
England as in Italy almost; where I, like others, have seen the
magnificent cathedral; have examined the two pillars which support its
entrance, and which once adorned Diana's temple at Ephesus, one of the
seven wonders of the world. Their carving is indeed beyond all idea of
workmanship; and the possession of them is inestimable. I have seen the
old stones with inscriptions on them, bearing date the reign of
Antoninus Pius, stuck casually, some with the letters reversed, some
sloping, according to accident merely, as it appears to me, in the body
of the great church: and I have seen the leaning tower that Lord
Chesterfield so comically describes our English travellers eagerness to
see. It is a beautiful building though after all, and a strange thing
that it should lean so. The cylindrical form, and marble pillars that
support each story, may rationally enough attract a stranger's notice,
and one is sorry the lower stories have sunk from their foundations,
originally defective ones I trust they were, though, God knows, if the
Italians do not build towers well, it is not for want either of skill or
of experience; for there is a tower to every town I think, and commonly
fabricated with elaborate nicety and well-fixed bases. But as
earthquakes and subterranean fires here are scarcely a wonder, one need
not marvel much at seeing the ground retreat just _here_. It is nearer
our hand, and quite as well worth our while to enquire, why the tower at
_Bridgnorth_ in Shropshire leans exactly in the same direction, and is
full as much out of the perpendicular as this at Pisa.

The brazen gates here, carved by John of Bologna, at least begun by him,
are a wonderful work; and the marbles in the baptistery beat those of
Florence for value and for variety. A good lapidary might find perpetual
amusement in adjusting the claims of superiority to these precious
columns of jasper, granite, alabaster, &c. The different animals which
support the font being equally admirable for their composition as for
their workmanship.

The Campo Santo is an extraordinary place, and, for aught I know,
unparalleled for its power over the mind in exciting serious
contemplations upon the body's decay, and suggesting consolatory
thoughts concerning the soul's immortality. Here in three days, owing to
quick-lime mixed among the earth, vanishes every vestige, every trace of
the human being carried thither seventy hours before, and here round the
walls Giotto and Cimabue have exhausted their invention to impress the
passers-by with deep and pensive melancholy.

The four stages of man's short life, infancy, childhood, maturity, and
decrepit age, not ill represented by one of the ancient artists, shew
the sad but not slow progress we make to this dark abode; while the last
judgment, hell, and paradise inform us what events of the utmost
consequence are to follow our journey. All this a modern traveller finds
out to be _vastly ridiculous!_ though Doctor Smollet _(whose book I
think he has read)_ confesses, that the spacious Corridor round the
Campo Santo di Pisa would make the noblest walk in the world perhaps for
a contemplative philosopher.

The tomb of Algarotti produces softer ideas when one looks at the
sepulchre of a man who, having deserved and obtained such solid and
extensive praise, modestly contented himself with desiring that his
epitaph might be so worded, as to record, upon a simple but lasting
monument, that he had the honour of being disciple to the immortal
_Newton_.

The battle of the bridge here at Pisa drew a great many spectators this
year, as it has not been performed for a considerable time before: the
waiters at our inn here give a better account of it than one should have
got perhaps from Cavalier or Dama, who would have felt less interested
in the business, and seen it from a greater distance. The armies of
Sant' Antonio, and I think San Giovanni Battista, but I will not be
positive as to the last, disputed the possession of the bridge, and
fought gallantly I fancy; but the first remained conqueror, as our very
conversible _Camerieres_ took care to inform us, as it was on that side
it seems that they had exerted their valour.

Calling theatres, and ships, and running horses, and mock fights, and
almost every thing so by the names of Saints, whom we venerate in
silence, and they themselves publicly worship, has a most profane and
offensive sound with it to be sure; and shocks delicate ears very
dreadfully: and I used to reprimand my maids at Milan for bringing up
the blessed Virgin Mary's name on every trivial, almost on every
ludicrous occasion, with a degree of sharpness they were not accustomed
to, because it kept me in a constant shivering. Yet let us reflect a
moment on our own conduct in England, and we shall be forced candidly to
confess that the Puritans alone keep their lips unpolluted by breach of
the third commandment, while the common exclamation of _good God!_
scrupled by few people on the slightest occurrences, and apparently
without any temptation in the world, is no less than gross irreverence
of his sacred name, whom we acknowledge to be

    Father of all, in _every_ age
      In _every_ clime ador'd;
    By saint, by savage, and by sage,
      Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.

Nor have the ladies at a London card-table Italian ignorance to plead
in their excuse; as not instruction but docility is wanted among almost
all ranks of people in Great Britain, where, if the Christian religion
were practised as it is understood, little could be wished for its
eternal, as little is left out among the blessings of its temporal
welfare.

I have been this morning to look at the Grand Duke's camels, which he
keeps in his park as we do deer in England. There were a hundred and
sixteen of them, pretty creatures! and they breed very well here, and
live quite at their ease, only housing them the winter months: they are
perfectly docile and gentle the man told me, apparently less tender of
their young than mares, but more approachable by human creatures than
even such horses as have been long at grass. That dun hue one sees them
of, is, it seems, not totally and invariably the same, though I doubt
not but it is so in their native deserts. Let it once become a fashion
for sovereigns and other great men to keep and to caress them, we shall
see camels as variegated as cats, which in the woods are all of the
uniformly-streaked tabby--the males inclining to the brown shade--the
females to blue among them;--but being bred _down_, become
tortoise-shell, and red, and every variety of colour, which
domestication alone can bestow.

The misery of Tuscany is, that _all animals_ thrive so happily under
this productive sun; so that if you scorn the Zanzariere, you are
half-devoured before morning, and so disfigured, that I defy one's
nearest friends to recollect one's countenance; while the spiders sting
as much as any of their insects; and one of them bit me this very day
till the blood came.

With all this not ill-founded complaint of these our active companions,
my constant wonder is, that the grapes hang untouched this 20th of
September, in vast heavy clusters covered with bloom; and unmolested by
insects, which, with a quarter of this heat in England, are encouraged
to destroy all our fruit in spite of the gardener's diligence to blow up
nests, cover the walls with netting, and hang them about with bottles of
syrup, to court the creatures in, who otherwise so damage every fig and
grape and plum of ours, that nothing but the skins are left remaining
_by now. Here_ no such contrivances are either wanted or thought on;
and while our islanders are sedulously bent to guard, and studious to
invent new devices to protect their half dozen peaches from their half
dozen wasps, the standard trees of Italy are loaded with high-flavoured
and delicious fruits.

    Here figs sky-dy'd a purple hue disclose,
    Green looks the olive, the pomegranate glows;
    Here dangling pears exalted scents unfold,
    And yellow apples ripen into gold.

The roadside is indeed hedged with festoons of vines, crawling from
olive to olive, which they plant in the ditches of Tuscany as we do
willows in Britain: mulberry trees too by the thousand, and some
pollarded poplars serve for support to the glorious grapes that will now
soon be gathered. What least contributes to the beauty of the country
however, is perhaps most subservient to its profits. I am ashamed to
write down the returns of money gained by the oil alone in this
territory and that of Lucca, where I was much struck with the colour as
well as the excellence of this useful commodity. Nor can I tell why none
of that green cast comes over to England, unless it is, that, like
essential oil of chamomile, it loses the tint by exposure to the air.

An olive tree, however, is no elegantly-growing or happily-coloured
plant: straggling and dusky, one is forced to think of its produce,
before one can be pleased with its merits, as in a deformed and ugly
friend or companion.

The fogs now begin to fall pretty heavily in a morning, and rising about
the middle of the day, leave the sun at liberty to exert his violence
very powerfully. At night come forth the inhabitants, like dor-beetles
at sunset on the coast of Sussex; then is their season to walk and chat,
and sing and make love, and run about the street with a girl and a
guittar; to eat ice and drink lemonade; but never to be seen drunk or
quarrelsome, or riotous. Though night is the true season of Italian
felicity, they place not their happiness in brutal frolics, any more
than in malicious titterings; they are idle and they are merry: it is, I
think, the worst we can say of them; they are idle because there is
little for them to do, and merry because they have little given them to
think about. To the busy Englishman they might well apply these verses
of his own Milton in the Masque of Comus:

    What have we with day to do?
    Sons of Care! 'twas made for you.



LEGHORN.


Here we are by the sea-side once more, in a trading town too; and I
should think myself in England almost, but for the difference of dresses
that pass under my balcony: for here we were immediately addressed by a
young English gentleman, who politely put us in possession of his
apartments, the best situated in the town; and with him we talked of the
dear coast of Devonshire, agreed upon the resemblance between that and
these environs, but gave the preference to home, on account of its
undulated shore, finely fringed with woodlands, which here are wanting:
nor is this verdure equal to ours in vivid colouring, or variegated with
so much taste as those lovely hills which are adorned by the antiquities
of Powderham Castle, and the fine disposition of Lord Lisburne's park.

But here is an English consul at Leghorn. Yes indeed! an English chapel
too; our own King's arms over the door, and in the desk and pulpit an
English clergyman; high in character, eminent for learning, genteel in
his address, and charitable in every sense of the word: as such, truly
loved and honoured by those of his own persuasion, exceedingly respected
by those of every other, which fill this extraordinary city: a place so
populous, that Cheapside alone can surpass it.

It is not a large place however; one very long straight street, and one
very large wide square, not less than Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, but I think
bigger, form the whole of Leghorn; which I can compare to nothing but a
_camera obscura,_ or magic lanthron, exhibiting prodigious variety of
different, and not uninteresting figures, that pass and re-pass to my
incessant delight, and give that sort of empty amusement which is _a la
portee de chacun_[Footnote: Within every one's reach.] so completely,
that for the present it really serves to drive every thing else from my
head, and makes me little desirous to quit for any other diversion the
windows or balcony, whence I look down now upon a Levantine Jew,
dressed in long robes, a sort of odd turban, and immense beard: now upon
a Tuscan contadinella, with the little straw hat, nosegay and jewels, I
have been so often struck with. Here an Armenian Christian, with long
hair, long gown, long beard, all black as a raven; who calls upon an old
grey Franciscan friar for a walk; while a Greek woman, obliged to cross
the street on some occasion, throws a vast white veil all over her
person, lest she should undergo the disgrace of being seen at all.

Sometimes a group goes by, composed of a broad Dutch sailor, a
dry-starched puritan, and an old French officer; whose knowledge of the
world and habitual politeness contrive to conceal the contempt he has of
his companions.

The geometricians tell us that the figure which has most angles bears
the nearest resemblance to that which has no angles at all; so here at
Leghorn, where you can hardly find forty men of a mind, dispute and
contention grow vain, a comfortable though temporary union takes place,
while nature and opinion bend to interest and necessity.

The _Contorni_ of Leghorn are really very pretty; the Appenine
mountains degenerate into hills as they run round the bay, but gain in
beauty what in sublimity they lose.

To enjoy an open sea view, one must drive further; and it really affords
a noble prospect from that rising ground where I understand that the
rich Jews hold their summer habitations. They have a synagogue in the
town, where I went one evening, and heard the Hebrew service, and
thought of what Dr. Burney says of their singing.

It is however no credit to the Tuscans to tell, that of all the people
gathered together here, they are the worst-looking--I speak of the
_men_--but it is so. When compared with the German soldiery, the English
sailors, the Venetian traders, the Neapolitan peasants, for I have seen
some of _them_ here, how feeble a fellow is a genuine Florentine! And
when one recollects the cottagers of Lombardy, that handsome hardy race;
bright in their expression, and muscular in their strength; it is still
stranger, what can have weakened these too delicate Tuscans so. As they
are very rich, and might be very happy under the protection of a prince
who lets slip no opportunity of preferring his plebeian to his patrician
subjects; yet here at Leghorn they have a tender frame and an unhealthy
look, occasioned possibly by the stagnant waters, which tender the
environs unwholesome enough I believe; and the millions of live
creatures they produce are enough to distract a person not accustomed to
such buzzing company.

We went out for air yesterday morning three or four miles beyond the
town-walls, where I looked steadily at the sea, till I half thought
myself at home. The ocean being peculiarly British property favoured the
idea, and for a moment I felt as if on our southern coast; we walked
forward towards the shore, and I stepped upon some rocks that broke the
waves as they rolled in, and was wishing for a good bathing house that
one might enjoy the benefit of salt-water so long withheld; till I saw
our _laquais de place_ crossing himself at the carriage door, and
wondering, as I afterwards found out, at my matchless intrepidity. The
mind however took another train of thought, and we returned to the
coach, which when we arrived at I refused to enter; not without
screaming I fear, as a vast hornet had taken possession in our absence,
and the very notion of such a companion threw me into an agony. Our
attendant's speech to the coachman however, made me more than amends:
"_Ora si vede amico_" (says he), "_cos'e la Donna; del mare istesso non
ha paura e pur va in convulsioni per via d'una mosca_[Z]." This truly
Tuscan and highly contemptuous harangue, uttered with the utmost
deliberation, and added to the absence of the hornet, sent me laughing
into the carriage, with great esteem of our philosophical _Rosso_, for
so the fellow was called, because he had red hair.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote Z: Now, my friend, do but observe what a thing is a woman! she
is not afraid even of the roaring ocean, and yet goes into fits almost
at the sight of a fly.]

In a very clear day, it is said, one may see Corsica from hence, though
not less than forty or fifty miles off: the pretty island Gorgona
however, whence our best anchovies are brought to England, lies
constantly in view,

    Assurgit ponti medio circumflua Gorgon.

    RUTELIUS's Itinerary.

How she came by that extraordinary name though, is not I believe well
known; perhaps her likeness to one of the Cape Verd islands, the
original Hesperides, might be the cause; for it was _there_ the
daughters of Phorcus fixed their habitation: or may be, as Medusa was
called _Gorgon par eminence_, because she applied herself to the
enriching of ground, this fertile islet owes its appellation from being
particularly manured and fructified.

Here is an extraordinary good opera-house; admirable dancers, who
performed a mighty pretty pantomime Comedie _larmoyante_ without words;
I liked it vastly. The famous Soprano singer Bedini was at Lucca; but
here is our old London favourite Signora Giorgi, improved into a degree
of perfection seldom found, and from her little expected.

Mr. Udney the British Consul is alone now; his lady has been obliged to
leave him, and take her children home for health's sake; but we saw his
fine collection of pictures, among which is a Danae that once belonged
to Queen Christina of Sweden, and fell from her possession into that of
some nobleman, who being tormented by scruples of morality upon his
death-bed, resolved to part with all his undraped figures, but not
liking to lose the face of this Danae, put the picture into a painter's
hands to cut and clothe her: the man, instead of obeying orders he
considered as barbarous, copied the whole, and dressed the copy
decently, sending it to his sick friend, who never discerned the trick;
and kept the original to dispose of, where fewer scruples impeded an
advantageous sale. The gentleman who bought it then, died; when Mr.
Udney purchased Danae, and highly values her; though some connoisseurs
say she is too young and ungrown a female for the character. There is a
Titian too in the same collection, of Cupid riding on a lion's back, to
which some very remarkable story is annexed; but one's belief is so
assailed by such various tales, told of all the striking pictures in
Italy, that one grows more tenacious of it every day I think; so that at
last the danger will be of believing too little, instead of too much
perhaps. Happy for travellers would it be, were that disposition of mind
confined to _painting_ only: but if it should prove extended to more
serious subjects, we can only hope that the violent excess of the
temptation may prove some excuse, or at least in a slight degree
extenuate the offence: A wise man cannot believe half he hears in Italy
to be sure, but a pious man will be cautious not to discredit it all.

Our evening's walk was directed towards the burying-ground appointed
here to receive the bodies of our countrymen, and consecrated according
to the rites of the Anglican church: for _here_, under protection of a
factory, we enjoy that which is vainly sought for under the auspices of
a king's ambassador.--_Here_ we have a churchyard of our own, and are
not condemned as at other towns in Italy, to be stuffed into a hole like
dogs, after having spent our money among them like princes. Prejudice
however is not banished from Leghorn, though convenience keeps all in
good-humour with each other. The Italians fail not to class the subjects
of Great Britain among the Pagan inhabitants of the town, and to
distinguish themselves, say, "_Noi altri Christiani_[Footnote: We that
are Christians.]:" their aversion to a Protestant, conceal it as they
may, is ever implacable; and the last day only will convince them that
it is criminal.

_Coelum non animum mutant_[Footnote: One changes one's sky but not
one's soul.], is an old observation; I passed this afternoon in
confirming the truth of it among the English traders settled here: whose
conversation, manners, ideas, and language, were so truly _Londonish_,
so little changed by transmigration, that I thought some enchantment had
suddenly operated, and carried me to drink tea in the regions of
_Bucklersbury_.

Well! it is a great delight to see such a society subsisting in Italy
after all; established where distress may run for refuge, and sickness
retire to prepare for lasting repose; whence narrowness of mind is
banished by principles of universal benevolence, and prejudice precluded
by Christian charity: where the purse of the British merchant, ever open
to the poor, is certain to succour and to soothe affliction; and where
it is agreed that more alms are given by the natives of our island
alone, than by all the rest of Leghorn, and the palaces of Pisa put
together.

I have here finished that work which chiefly brought me hither; the
Anecdotes of Dr. Johnson's Life. It is from this port they take their
flight for England, while we retire for refreshment to the



BAGNI DI PISA.


But not only the waters here are admirable, every look from every window
gives images unentertained before; sublimity happily wedded with
elegance, and majestick greatness enlivened, yet softened by taste.

The haughty mountain St. Juliano lifting its brown head over our house
on one side, the extensive plain stretched out before us on the other; a
gravel walk neatly planted by the side of a peaceful river, which winds
through a valley richly cultivated with olive yards and vines; and
sprinkled, though rarely, with dwellings, either magnificent or
pleasing: this lovely prospect, bounded only by the sea, makes a variety
incessant as the changes of the sky; exhibiting early tranquillity, and
evening splendour by turns.

It was perhaps particularly delightful to me, to obtain once more a
cottage in the country, after running so from one great city to another;
and for the first week I did nothing but rejoice in a solitude so new,
so salutiferous, so total. I therefore begged my husband not to hurry us
to Rome, but take the house we lived in for a longer term, as I would
now play the English housewife in Italy I said; and accordingly began
calling the chickens and ducks under my window, tasted the new wine as
it ran purple from the cask, caressed the meek oxen that drew it to our
door; and felt sensations so unaffectedly pastoral, that nothing in
romance ever exceeded my felicity.

The cold bath here is the most delicate imaginable; of a moderate degree
of coldness though, not three degrees below Matlock surely; but
omitting, simply enough, to carry a thermometer, one can measure the
heat of nothing. Our hot water here seems about the temperature of the
Queen's bath in Somersetshire; it is purgative, not corroborant, they
tell me; and its taste resembles Cheltenham water exactly.

These springs are much frequented by the court I find, and here are
very tolerable accommodations; but it is not the season now, and our
solitude is perfect in a place which beggars all description, where the
mountains are mountains of marble, and the bushes on them bushes of
myrtle; large as our hawthorns, and white with blossoms, as _they_ are
at the same time of year in Devonshire; where the waters are salubrious,
the herbage odoriferous, every trodden step breathing immediate
fragrance from the crushed sweets of thyme, and marjoram, and winter
savoury: while the birds and the butterflies frolick around, and flutter
among the loaded lemon, and orange, and olive trees, till imagination is
fatigued with following the charms that surround one.

I am come home this moment from a long but not tedious walk, among the
crags of this glorious mountain; the base of which nearly reaches,
within half a mile perhaps, to the territories of Lucca. Some country
girls passed me with baskets of fruit, chickens, &c. on their heads. I
addressed them as natives of the last-named place, saying I knew them to
be such by their dress and air; one of them instantly replied, "_Oh si,
siamo Lucchesi, noi altri; gia si puo vedere subito una Reppubblicana, e
credo bene ch'ella fe n' e accorta benissimo che siamo del paese della
liberta_[AA]."

[Footnote AA: Oh yes, we are Lucca people sure enough, and I am
persuaded that you soon saw in our faces that we come from a land of
liberty.]

I will add that these females wear no ornaments at all; are always proud
and gay, and sometimes a little fancy too. The Tuscan damsels, loaded
with gold and pearls, have a less assured look, and appear disconcerted
when in company with their freer neighbours--Let them tell why.

Mean time my fairy dream of fantastic delight seems fading away apace.
Mr. Piozzi has been ill, and of a putrid complaint in his throat, which
above all things I should dread in this hot climate. This accident,
assisted by other concurring circumstances, has convinced me that we are
not shut up in measureless content as Shakespeare calls it, even under
St. Julian's Hill: for here was no help to be got in the first place,
except the useless conversation of a medical gentleman whose accent and
language might have pleased a disengaged mind, but had little chance to
tranquilize an affrighted one. What is worse, here was no rest to be
had, for the multitudes of vermin up stairs and below. When we first
hired the house, I remember my maid jumping up on one of the kitchen
chairs while a ragged lad cleared _that_ apartment for her of scorpions
to the number of seventeen. But now the biters and stingers drive me
_quite wild_, because one must keep the windows open for air, and a sick
man can enjoy none of that, being closed up in the Zanzariere, and
obliged to respire the same breath over and over again; which, with a
sore throat and fever, is most melancholy: but I keep it wet with
vinegar, and defy the hornets how I can.

What is more surprising than all, however, is to hear that no lemons can
be procured for less than two pence English a-piece; and now I am almost
ready to join myself in the general cry against Italian imposition, and
recollect the proverb which teaches us

    Chi ha da far con Tosco,
    Non bisogna esser losco[AB];

[Footnote AB:
    Who has to do with Tuscan wight,
    Of both his eyes will need the light.
]

as I am confident they cannot be worth even two pence a hundred here,
where they hang like apples in our cyder countries; but the rogues know
that my husband is sick, and upon poor me they have no mercy.

I have sent our folks out to gather fruit at a venture: and now this
misery will soon be ended with his illness; driven away by deluges of
lemonade, I think, made in defiance of wasps, flies, and a kind of
volant beetle, wonderfully beautiful and very pertinacious in his
attacks; and who makes dreadful depredations on my sugar and
currant-jelly, so necessary on this occasion of illness, and so
attractive to all these detestable inhabitants of a place so lovely.

My patient, however, complaining that although I kept these harpies at a
distance, no sleep could yet be obtained;--I resolved when he was risen,
and had changed his room, to examine into the true cause: and with my
maid's assistance, unript the mattress, which was without exaggeration
or hyperbole _all alive_ with creatures wholly unknown to me.
Non-descripts in nastiness I believe they are, like maggots with horns
and tails; such a race as I never saw or heard of, and as would have
disgusted Mr. Leeuenhoeck himself. My willingness to quit this place and
its hundred-footed inhabitants was quickened three nights after by a
thunder storm, such as no dweller in more northern latitudes can form an
idea of; which, afflicted by some few slight shocks of an earthquake,
frighted us all from our beds, sick and well, and gave me an opportunity
of viewing such flashes of lightning as I had never contemplated till
now, and such as it appeared impossible to escape from with life. The
tremendous claps of thunder re-echoing among these Appenines, which
double every sound, were truly dreadful. I really and sincerely thought
St. Julian's mountain was rent by one violent stroke, accompanied with a
rough concussion, and that the rock would fall upon our heads by
morning; while the agonies of my English maid and the French valet,
became equally insupportable to themselves and me; who could only repeat
the same unheeded consolations, and protest our resolution of releasing
them from this theatre of distraction the moment our departure should
become practicable. Mean time the rain fell, and such a torrent came
tumbling down the sides of St. Juliano, as I am persuaded no female
courage could have calmly looked on. I therefore waited its abatement in
a darkened room, packed up our coach without waiting to copy over the
verses my admiration of the place had prompted, and drove forward to
Sienna, through Pisa again, where our friends told us of the damages
done by the tempest; and shewed us a pretty little church just out of
town, where the officiating priest at the altar was saved almost by
miracle, as the lightning melted one of the chalices completely, and
twisted the brazen-gilt crucifix quite round in a very astonishing
manner.

Here, however, is the proper place, if any, to introduce the poem of
seventy-three short lines, calling itself an Ode to Society written in a
state of perfect solitude, secluded from all mortal tread, as was our
habitation at the Bagni di Pisa.

    ODE TO SOCIETY.

    I.

    SOCIETY! gregarious dame!
    Who knows thy favour'd haunts to name?
    Whether at Paris you prepare
    The supper and the chat to share,
    While fix'd in artificial row,
    Laughter displays its teeth of snow:
    Grimace with raillery rejoices,
    And song of many mingled voices,
    Till young coquetry's artful wile
    Some foreign novice shall beguile,
    Who home return'd, still prates of thee,
    Light, flippant, French SOCIETY.

    II.

    Or whether, with your zone unbound,
    You ramble gaudy Venice round,
    Resolv'd the inviting sweets to prove,
    Of friendship warm, and willing love;
    Where softly roll th' obedient seas,
    Sacred to luxury and ease,
    In coffee-house or casino gay
    Till the too quick return of day,
    Th' enchanted votary who sighs
    For sentiments without disguise,
    Clear, unaffected, fond, and free,
    In Venice finds SOCIETY.

    III.

    Or if to wiser Britain led,
    Your vagrant feet desire to tread
    With measur'd step and anxious care,
    The precincts pure of Portman square;
    While wit with elegance combin'd,
    And polish'd manners there you'll find;
    The taste correct--and fertile mind:
    Remember vigilance lurks near,
    And silence with unnotic'd sneer,
    Who watches but to tell again
    Your foibles with to-morrow's pen;
    Till titt'ring malice smiles to see
    Your wonder--grave SOCIETY.

    IV.

    Far from your busy crowded court,
    Tranquillity makes her report;
    Where 'mid cold Staffa's columns rude,
    Resides majestic solitude;
    Or where in some sad Brachman's cell,
    Meek innocence delights to dwell,
    Weeping with unexperienc'd eye,
    The death of a departed fly:
    Or in _Hetruria_'s heights sublime,
    Where science self might fear to climb,
    But that she seeks a smile from thee,
    And wooes thy praise, SOCIETY.

    V.

    Thence let me view the plains below,
    From rough St. Julian's rugged brow;
    Hear the loud torrents swift descending,
    Or mark the beauteous rainbow bending,
    Till Heaven regains its favourite hue,
    AEther divine! celestial blue!
    Then bosom'd high in myrtle bower,
    View letter'd Pisa's pendent tower;
    The sea's wide scene, the port's loud throng,
    Of rude and gentle, right and wrong;
    A motley groupe which yet agree
    To call themselves SOCIETY.

    VI.

    Oh! thou still sought by wealth and fame,
    Dispenser of applause and blame:
    While flatt'ry ever at thy side,
    With slander can thy smiles divide;
    Far from thy haunts, oh! let me stray,
    But grant one friend to cheer my way,
    Whose converse bland, whose music's art,
    May cheer my soul, and heal my heart;
    Let soft content our steps pursue,
    And bliss eternal bound our view:
    Pow'r I'll resign, and pomp, and glee,
    Thy best-lov'd sweets--SOCIETY.



SIENNA.


20th October 1786.

We arrived here last night, having driven through the sweetest country
in the world; and here are a few timber trees at last, such as I have
not seen for a long time, the Tuscan spirit of mutilation being so
great, that every thing till now has been pollarded that would have
passed twenty feet in height: this is done to support the vines, and not
suffer their rambling produce to run out of the way, and escape the
gripe of the gatherers. I have eaten too many of these delicious grapes
however, and it is now my turn to be sick--No wonder, I know few who
would resist a like temptation, especially as the inn afforded but a
sorry dinner, whilst every hedge provided so noble a dessert. _Paffera
pur la malattia_[Footnote: The disorder will die away though.], as these
soft-mouthed people tell me; the sooner perhaps, as we are not here
annoyed by insects, which poison the pleasure of other places in Italy;
here are only _lizards_, lovely creatures! who being of a beautiful
light green colour upon the back and legs, reside in whole families at
the foot of every tree, and turn their scarlet bosoms to the sun, as if
to display the glories of colouring which his beams alone can bestow.

The pleasing tales told of this pretty animal's amical disposition
towards man are strictly true, I hear; and it is no longer ago than
yesterday I was told an odd anecdote of a young farmer, who, carrying a
basket of figs to his mistress, lay down in the field as he crossed it,
quite overcome with the weather, and fell fast asleep. A serpent,
attracted by the scent, twined round the basket, and would have bit the
fellow as well as robbed him, had not a friendly lizard waked, and given
him warning of the danger.

Swift says, that in the course of life he meets many asses, but they
have not _lucky names_. I have met many _vipers, and so few lizards_, it
is surprising! but they will not live in London.

All the stories one has ever heard of sweetness in language and delicacy
in pronunciation, fall short of Siennese converse. The girls who wait
on us at the inn here, would be treasures in England, could one get them
thither; and they need move nothing but their tongues to make their
fortunes. I told Rosetta so, and said I would steal from them a poor
girl of eight years old, whom they kept out of charity, and called
Olympia, to be my language mistress, "_Battezata com' e, la lascieremo
Christiana_[AC]," was the answer. It is impossible, without their
manners, to express their elegance, their superior delicacy, graceful
without diffusion, and terse without laconicism. You ask the way to the
town of a peasant girl, and she replies, "_Passato'l Ponte, o pur
barcato'l Fiume, eccola a Sienna_[AD]." And as we drove towards the city
in the evening, our postillion sung improviso verses on his sweetheart,
a widow who lived down at Pistoja, they told me. I was ashamed to think
that no desk or study was likely to have produced better on so trite a
subject. Candour must confess, however, that no thought was new, though
the language made them for a moment seem so.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote AC: Being baptized as she is, we will leave her a Christian.]

[Footnote AD: The bridge once passed, or the river crossed, Sienna lies
before you.]

This town is neat and cleanly, and comfortable and airy. The prospect
from the public walks wants no beauty but water; and here is a
suppressed convent on the neighbouring hill, where we half-longed to
build a pretty cottage, as the ground is now to be disposed of vastly
cheap; and half one's work is already done in the apartments once
occupied by friars. With half a word's persuasion I should fix for life
here. The air is so pure, the language so pleasing, the place so
inviting;--_but we drive on_.

There is, mean time, resident in the neighbourhood an English gentleman,
his name Greenfield, who has formed to himself a mighty sweet habitation
in the English taste, but not extensive, as his property don't reach
far: he is however a sort of little oracle in the country I am told;
gives money, and dispenses James's powders to the poor, is happy in the
esteem of numberless people of fashion, and the comfort of his country
people's lives beside; who, travelling to Sienna, as many do for the
advantage of studying Italian to perfection, find a friend and
companion where perhaps it is least expected.

The cathedral here at Sienna deserves a volume, and I shall scarcely
give it a page. The pavement of it is the just pride of Italy, and may
challenge the world to produce its equal. St. Mark's at Venice floored
with precious stones dies away upon the comparison; this being all
inlaid with dove-coloured and white marbles representing historical
subjects not ill told. Were this operation performed in mosaic work,
others of rival excellence might be found. The pavement of Sienna's dome
is so disposed by an effort of art one never saw but here, that it
produces an effect most resembling that of a very fine and beautiful
damask table-cloth, where the large patterns are correctly drawn.

_Rome_ however is to be our next stage, and many of our English
gentlemen now here, are with ourselves impatiently waiting for the
numberless pleasures it is expected to afford us. I will here close this
chapter upon our various desires; one wishing to see St. Peters; one
setting his heart upon entering the Capitol: to-morrow's sun will light
us all upon our search.



ROME.


The first sleeping place between Sienna and this capital shall not
escape mentioning; its name is Radicosani, its title an inn, and its
situation the summit of an exhausted volcano. Such a place did I never
see. The violence of the mountain, when living, has split it in a
variety of places, and driven it to a breadth of base beyond
credibility, its height being no longer formidable. Whichever way you
turn your eyes, nothing but portions of this black rock appear
therefore; so here is extent without sublimity, and here is terror
mingled with disgust. The inside of the house is worthy of the prospect
seen from its windows; wild, spacious, and scantily provided. Never had
place so much the appearance of a haunted hall, where Sir Rowland or Sir
Bertrand might feel proud of their courage when

    The knight advancing strikes the fatal door,
    And hollow chambers send a sullen roar.

    MERRY

To this truly dismal reposing place is however kindly added a little
chapel; and few persons can imagine what a comfortable feel it gave me
on entering it in the morning after hearing the winds howl all night in
the black mountain. Here too we first made acquaintance with Signor
Giovanni Ricci, a mighty agreeable gentleman, who was kindly assistant
to us in a hundred little difficulties, afterwards occasioned by horses,
postillions, &c. which at last brought us through a bad country enough
to Viterbo, where we slept.

The melancholy appearance of the Campagna has been remarked and
described by every traveller with displeasure, by all with truth. The
ill look of the very few and very unhealthy inhabitants confirms their
descriptions; and beside the pale and swelled faces which shock one's
sight, here is a brassy scent in the air as of verdigris, which offends
one's smell; the running water is of an odd colour too, like that in
which copper has been steeped. These are sad desolated scenes indeed,
though this is not the season for _mal' aria_ neither, which, it is
said, begins in May, and ends with September. The present sovereign is
mending matters as fast as he can, we hear; and the road now cutting,
will greatly facilitate access to his capital, but cannot be done
without a prodigious expence. The first view of Rome is wonderfully
striking.

    Ye awful wrecks of ancient times!
    Proud monuments of ages past
    Now mould'ring in decay.

    MERRY.

But mingled with every crowding, every classical idea, comes to one's
recollection an old picture painted by R. Wilson about thirty years ago,
which I am now sure must have been a very excellent representation.

Well, then! here we are, admirably lodged at Strofani's in the Piazza di
Spagna, and have only to chuse what we will see and talk on first among
this galaxy of rarities which dazzles, diverts, confounds, and nearly
fatigues one. I will speak of the oldest things first, as I was earnest
to see something of Rome in its very early days, if possible; for
example the Sublician Bridge, defended by Cocles when the infant
republic, like their favourite Hercules in his cradle, strangled the
serpent despotism: and of this bridge some portion may yet be seen when
the water is very low.

The prison is more ancient still however; it was built by the kings; and
by the solidity of its walls, and depth of its dungeon, seems built for
eternity. Was it not this place to which Juvenal alludes, when he says,

                    Felicia dicas
    Tempora quae quondam sub regibus atque tribunis
    Viderunt uno contentam carcere Romam.

And it is in this horrible spot they shew you the miraculous mark of St.
Peter's head struck against the wall in going down, with the fountain
which burst out of the ground for his refreshment. Antiquaries, however,
assure us, that he could not have ever been confined there, as it was a
place for state prisoners only, and those of the highest rank: they
likewise tell us that Jugurtha passed seven months there, which is as
difficult to believe as any miracle ever wrought; for the world was at
least somewhat civilized in those days, and how it should be contented
with looking quietly on whilst a Prince of Jugurtha's consequence
should be so kept, appears incredible at the distance of 1900 years.
That Christians should be treated still worse, if worse could be found
for them, is less strange, when every step one treads is upon the bones
of martyrs; and who dares say that the surrounding campagna, so often
drenched in innocent blood, may not have been cursed with pestilence and
sterility to all succeeding ages? I have examined the place where Sylla
massacred 8000 fellow-citizens at once, and find that it produces no
herb but thistles, a weed almost unknown in any other part of Italy; and
one of the first punishments bestowed on sinful man.

Marcellus's Theatre, an old fountain erected by Camillus when Dictator,
and the Tarpeian rock, attract attention powerfully: the last
particularly,

    Where brave Manlius stood,
    And hurl'd indignant decads down,
    And redden'd Tyber's flood.

    GREATHEED.

People have never done contradicting Burnet, who says, in his travels,
that a man might jump down it now and not do himself much harm: the
truth is, its present appearance is not formidable; but I believe it is
not less than forty feet high at this moment, though the ground is
greatly raised.

Of all things at Rome the Cloaca is acknowledged most ancient; a very
great and a very useful work it is, of Ancus Martius, fourth king of
Rome. The just and zealous detestation of Christians towards Pontius
Pilate, is here comically expressed by their placing his palace just at
its exit into the Tyber; and one who pretended to doubt of its being his
residence, would be thought the worse of among them.

I recollect nothing else built before the days of the Emperors, who, for
the most part, were such disgracers of human nature and human reason,
that one would almost wish their names expunged, and all their deeds
obliterated from the face of the globe, which could ever tamely submit
to such truly wretched rulers.

The Capitol, built by Tarquin, stood till the days of Marius and Sylla
it seems; that last-named Dictator erected a new one, which was
overthrown in the contests about Vitellius; Vespasian set it up again,
but his performance was burned soon after its author's death; and this
we contemplate now, is one of the works of Domitian, and celebrated by
Martial of course. Adrian however added one room to it, dedicated to
Egyptian deities alone: as a matter of mere taste I fancy, like our
introducing Chinese temples into the garden; but many hold that it was
very serious and superstitious regard, inspired by the victory Canopus
won over the Persian divinity of fire, by the subtlety of the Egyptian
priests, who, to defend their idol from that all-subduing element,
wisely set upon his head a vessel filled with water, and having
previously made the figure of Terra Cotta hollow, and full of water,
with holes bored at the bottom stopped only by wax to keep it in, a
seeming miracle extinguished the flames, as soon as approached by
Canopus; whose triumph was of course proclaimed, and he respected
accordingly. The figure was a monkey, whose sitting attitude favoured
the imposture: our antiquaries tell us the story after _Suidas_.

As cruelty is more detestable than fraud, one feels greater disgust at
the sight of captive monarchs without hands and arms, than even these
idolatrous brutalities inspire; and no greater proof can be obtained of
Roman barbarity, than the statues one is shewn here of kings and
generals over whom they triumphed; being made on purpose for them
without hands and arms, of which they were deprived immediately on their
arrival at Rome.

Enormous heads and feet, to which the other parts are wanting, let one
see, or at least guess; what colossal figures were once belonging to
them; yet somehow these celebrated artists seem to me to have a little
confounded the ideas of _big_ and _great_ like my countryman Fluellyn in
Shakespear's play: while the two famous demi-gods Castor and Pollux,
each his horse in his hand, stand one on each side the stairs which lead
to the Capitol, and are of a prodigious size--fifteen feet, as I
remember. The knowing people tell us they are portraits, and bid us
observe that one has pupils to his eyes, the other _not_; but our
_laquais de place_, who was a very sensible fellow too, as he saw me
stand looking at them, cried out, "Why now to be sure here are a vast
many miracles in this holy city--that there are:" and I heard one of our
own folks telling an Englishman the other day, how these two monstrous
statues, horses and all I believe, _came out of an egg_: a very
extraordinary thing certainly; but it is our business to believe, not to
enquire. He saw my countenance express something he did not like, and
continued, "_Eh basta! sara stato un uovo strepitoso, e cosi sinisce
l'istoria_[AE]."

[Footnote AE: Well, well! it was a famous egg we'll say, and there's an
end.]

In this repository of wonders, this glorious _campidoglio_, one is first
shewn as the most valuable curiosity, the two pigeons mentioned by Pliny
in old mosaic; and of prodigious nicety is the workmanship, though done
at such a distant period: and here is the very wolf which bears the very
mark of the lightning mentioned by Cicero:--and here is the beautiful
Antinous again; _he_ meets one at every turn, I think, and always hangs
his head as if ashamed: here too is the dying gladiator; wonderfully
fine! savage valour! mean extraction! horrible anguish! all marking, all
strongly characteristical expressions--_all there_; yet all swallowed
up, in that which does inevitably and certainly swallow up all
things--approaching death.

The collection of pictures here would put any thing but these statues
out of one's head: Guido's Fortune flying over the globe, scattering her
gifts; of which she gave him _one_, the most precious, the most
desirable. How elegantly gay and airy is this picture! But St. Sebastian
stands opposite, to shew that he could likewise excel in the pathetic.
Titian's famous Magdalen, of which the King of France boasts one copy, a
noble family at Venice another, is protested by the Roman connoisseurs
to reside here only; but why should not the artist be fond of repeating
so fine an idea? Guercino's Sybil however, intelligently pensive, and
sweetly sensible, is the single figure I should prefer to them all.

Before we quit the Capitol, it is pity not to name Marforio; broken,
old, and now almost forgotten: though once companion, or rather
respondent to Pasquin, and once, a thousand years before those days, a
statue of the river _Nar_, as his recumbent posture testifies; not _Mars
in the forum_, as has been by some supposed. The late Pope moved him
from the street, and shut him up with his betters in the Capitol.

Of Trajan and Antonine's Pillars what can one say? That St. Peter and
St. Paul stand on the tops of each, setting forth that uncertainty of
human affairs which they preached in their life-time, and shewing that
_they_, who were once the objects of contempt and abhorrence, are now
become literally _the head stones of the corner_; being but too
profoundly venerated in that very city, which once cruelly persecuted,
and unjustly put them to death. Let us then who look on them recollect
their advice, and set our affections on a place of greater stability.
The columns are of very unequal excellence, that of Trajan's confessedly
the best; one grieves to think he never saw it himself, as few princes
were less puffed up by well-deserved praise than he; but dying at
Seleucia of a dysenteric fever, his ashes were brought home, and kept on
the top of his own pillar in a gilt vase; which Sextus Quintus with more
zeal than taste took down, I fear destroyed, and placed St. Peter there.
Apollodorus was the architect of the elegant structure, on which, says
Ammianus Marcellinus, the Gods themselves gazed with wonder, seeing
that nothing but heaven itself was finer. "_Singularem sub omni caelo
structuram etiam numinum ascensione mirabilem_."

I know not whether this is the proper place to mention that the good
Pope Gregory, who added to the possession of every cardinal virtue the
exertion of every Christian one, having looked one day with peculiar
stedfastness at this column, and being naturally led to reflect on his
character to whose honour it was erected, felt just admiration of a mind
so noble; and retiring to his devotions in a church not far off, began
praying earnestly for Trajan's soul: till a preternatural voice,
accompanied with rays of light round the altar he knelt at, commanded
his forbearance of further solicitation; assuring him that Trajan's soul
was secure in the care of his Creator. Strange! that those who record,
and give credit to such a story, can yet continue as a duty their
intercessions for the dead!

But I have seen the Coliseo, which would swallow that of pretty Verona;
it is four times as large I am told, and would hold fourscore thousand
spectators. After all the depredations of all the Goths, and afterwards
of the Farnese family, the ruin is gloriously beautiful; possibly more
beautiful than when it was quite whole; there is enough left now for
Truth to repose upon, and a perch for Fancy beside, to fly out from, and
fetch in more.

The orders of its architecture are easily discerned, though the height
of the upper story is truly tremendous; I climbed it once, not to the
top indeed, but till I was afraid to look down from the place I was in,
and penetrated many of its recesses. The modern Italians have not lost
their taste of a prodigious theatre; were they once more a single
nation, they would rebuild _this_ I fancy; for here are all the
conveniencies in _grande_, as they call it, that amaze one even in
_piccolo_ at Milan and Turin: Here were supper-rooms, and taverns, and
shops, and I believe baths; certainly long galleries big enough to drive
a coach round, and places where slaves waited to receive the commands of
masters and ladies, who perhaps if they did not wait to please them,
would scarcely scruple to detain them in the cage of offenders, and
keep them to make sport upon a future day.

The cruelties then exercised on servants at Rome were truly dreadful;
and we all remember reading that in Augustus's time, when he did a
private friend the honour to dine with him, one of the waiters broke a
glass he was about to present full of liquor to the King; at which
offence the master being enraged, suddenly caused him to be seized by
the rest, and thrown instantly out of the window to feed his lampreys,
which lived in a pond on which the apartment looked. Augustus said
nothing at the moment; to punish the nobleman's inhumanity however, he
sent his officers next morning to break every glass in the house: A
curious chastisement enough, and worthy of a nation who, being powerful
to erect, populous to fill, and elegantly-skilful to adorn such a fabric
as this Coliseum which I have just been contemplating, were yet
contented and even happy to view from its well-arranged seats,
exhibitions capable of giving nothing but disgust and horror;--lions
rending unarmed wretches in pieces; or, to the still deeper disgrace of
poor Humanity, those wretches armed unwillingly against each other, and
dying to divert a brutal populace.

These reflections upon Pagan days and classical cruelties do not disturb
however the peace of an old hermit, who has chosen one of these
close-concealed recesses for his habitation, and accordingly dwells,
dismally enough, in a hole seldom visited by travellers, and certainly
never enquired about by the natives. I stumbled on his strange apartment
by mere chance, and asked him why he had chosen it? He had been led in
early youth, he said, to reflect upon the miseries suffered by the
original professors of Christianity; the tortures inflicted on them in
this horrible amphitheatre, and the various vicissitudes of Rome since:
that he had dedicated himself to these meditations: that he had left the
world seventeen years, never stirring from his cell but to buy food,
which he eat alone and sparingly, and to pay his devotions in the _Via
Crucis_, for so the old Arena is now called; a simple plain wooden cross
occupying the middle of it, and round the Circus twelve neat, not
splendid chapels; a picture to each, representing the various stages of
our Saviour's passion. Such are the meek triumphs of our meek religion!
And that such substitutes should have replaced the African savages,
tigers, hyaenas, &c. and Roman gladiators, not less ferocious than their
four-legged antagonists, I am quite as willing to rejoice at as the
hermit: They must be better antiquarians too than I am, who regret that
a nunnery now covers the spot where ambitious Tullia drove over the
bleeding body of her murdered parent,

    Pressit et inductis membra paterna rotis:

That nunnery, supported by the arch of Nerva, which is all that is now
left standing of that Emperor's Forum.

I must not however quit the Coliseum, without repeating what passed
between the King of Sweden and his Roman _laquais de place_ when he was
here; and the fellow, in the true cant of his Ciceroneship, exclaimed as
they looked up, "_Ah Maesta!_ what cursed Goths those were that tore
away so many fine things here, and pulled down such magnificent pillars,
&c." "Hold, hold friend," replies the King of Sweden; "I am one of those
cursed Goths myself you know: but what were your Roman nobles a-doing,
I would ask, when they laboured to destroy an edifice like this, and
build their palaces with its materials?"

The baths of Livia are still elegantly designed round her small
apartments; and one has copies sold of them upon fans; the curiosity of
the original is to see how well the gilding stands; in many places it
appears just finished. These baths are difficult of access somehow; I
never could quite understand how we got in or out of them, but they did
belong to the Imperial palace, which covered this whole Palatine hill,
and here was Nero's golden house, by what I could gather, but of that I
thank Heaven there is no trace left, except some little portion of the
wall, which was 120 feet high, and some marbles in shades, like women's
worsted work upon canvass, very curious, and very wonderful; as all are
natural marbles, and no dye used: the expence must have surpassed
credibility.

The Temple of Vesta, supposed to be the _very_ temple to which Horace
alludes in his second Ode, is a pretty rotunda, and has twenty pillars
fluted of Parian marble: it is now a church, as are most of the heathen
temples.

Such adaptations do not please one, but then it must be allowed and
recollected that one is very hard to please: finding fault is so easy,
and doing right so difficult!

The good Pope Gregory, who feared (by sacred inspiration one would
think) all which should come to pass, broke many beautiful antique
statues, "lest," said he, "induced by change of dress or name perhaps
our Christians may be tempted to adore them:" and we say he was a
blockhead, and burned Livy's decads, and so he did; but he refused all
titles of earthly dignity; he censured the Oriental Patriarchs for
substituting temporal splendours in the place of primitive simplicity;
which he said ought _alone_ to distinguish the followers of Jesus
Christ. He required a strict attention to morality from all his inferior
clergy; observed that those who strove to be first, would end in being
last; and took himself the title of servant to the servants of God.

Well! Sabinian, his successor, once his favourite Nuncio, flung his
books in the fire as soon as he was dead; so his injunctions were obeyed
but while he lived to enforce them; and every day now shews us how
necessary they were: when, even in these enlightened times, there
stands an old figure that every Abate in the town knows to have been
originally made for the fabulous God of Physic, Esculapius, is prayed to
by many old women and devotees of all ages indeed, just at the Via
Sacra's entrance, and called St. Bartolomeo.

A beautiful Diana too, with her trussed-up robes, the crescent alone
wanting, stands on the high altar to receive homage in the character of
St. Agnes, in a pretty church dedicated to her _fuor delle Porte_, where
it is supposed she suffered martyrdom; and why? Why for not venerating
that _very Goddess Diana_, and for refusing to walk in her procession at
the _New Moon_, like a good Christian girl. "_Such contradictions put
one from one's self_" as Shakespear says.

We are this moment returned home from Tivoli; have walked round Adrian's
Villa, and viewed his Hippodrome, which would yet make an admirable open
Manege. I have seen the Cascatelle, so sweetly elegant, so rural, so
romantic; and I have looked with due respect on the places once
inhabited, and ever justly celebrated by genius, wit, and learning; have
shuddered at revisiting the spot I hastened down to examine, while
curiosity was yet keen enough to make me venture a very dangerous and
scarcely-trodden path to Neptune's Grotto; where, as you descend, the
Cicerone shews you a wheel of some coarse carriage visibly stuck fast in
the rock till it is become a part of it; distinguished from every other
stone only by its shape, its projecting forward, and its shewing the
hollow places in its fellies, where nails were originally driven. This
truly-curious, though little venerable piece of antiquity, serves to
assist the wise men in puzzling out the world's age, by computing how
many centuries go to the petrifying a cart wheel. A violent roar of
dashing waters at the bottom, and a fall of the river at this place from
the height of 150 feet, were however by no means favourable to my
arithmetical studies; and I returned perfectly disposed to think the
world's age a less profitable, a less diverting contemplation, than its
folly.

We looked at the temple of the old goddess that cured coughs, now a
Christian church, dedicated to _la Madonna della Tosse_; it is exactly
all it ever was, I believe; and we dined in the temple of Sibylla
Tiburtina, a beautiful edifice, of which Mr. Jenkins has sent the model
to London in cork, which gives a more exact representation after all
than the best-chosen words in the world. I would rather make use of
_them_ to praise Mr. Jenkins's general kindness and hospitality to all
his country-folks, who find a certain friend in him; and if they please,
a very competent instructor.

In order however to understand the meaning of some spherical _pots_
observed in the Circus of Caracalla, I chose above all men to consult
Mr. Greatheed, whose correct taste, deep research, and knowledge of
architecture, led me to prefer his account to every other, of their use
and necessity: it shall be given in his own words, which I am proud of
his permission to copy.

"Of those _pots_ you mention, there are not any remaining in the Circus
Maxiouis, as the walls, seats and apodium of that have entirely
disappeared. They are to be seen in the Circus of Caracalla, on the
Appian way; of this, and of this alone, enough still exists to ascertain
the form, structure, and parts of a Roman course. It was surrounded by
two parallel walls which supported the seats of the spectators. The
exterior wall rose to the summit of the gallery; the interior one
was much lower, terminated with the lowest rows, and formed
the apodium. This rough section may serve to elucidate my
description. From wall to wall an arch was turned which formed a
quadrant, and on this the seats immediately rested: but as the upper
rows were considerably distant from the crown of the arch, it was
necessary to fill the intermediate space with materials sufficiently
strong to support the upper stone benches and the multitude. Had these
been of solid substance, they would have pressed prodigious and
disproportionate weight on the summit of the arch, a place least able to
endure it from its horizontal position. To remedy this defect, the
architect caused _spherical pots_ to be baked; of these each formed of
itself an arch sufficiently powerful to sustain its share of the
incumbent weight, and the whole was rendered much less ponderous by the
innumerable vacuities.

[Illustration]

"A similiar expedient was likewise used to diminish the pressure of
their domes, by employing the scoriae of lava brought for that purpose
from the Lipari Islands. The numberless bubbles of this volcanic
substance give it the appearance of a honeycomb, and answer the same
purpose as the pots in Caracalla's Circus, so much so, that though very
hard, it is of less specific gravity than wood, and consequently floats
in water."

Before I quit the Circus of Caracalla, I must not forbear mentioning his
bust, which so perfectly resembles Hogarth's idle 'Prentice; but why
should they not be alike?

    For black-guards are black-guards in every degree,

I suppose, and the people here who shew one things, always take delight
to souce an Englishman's hat upon his head, as if they thought so too.

This morning's ramble let us to see the old grotto, sacred to Numa's
famous nymph, AEgeria, not far from Rome even now. I wonder that it
should escape being built round when Rome was so extensive as to contain
the crowds which we are told were lodged in it. That the city spread
chiefly the other way, is scarce an answer. London spreads chiefly the
Marybone way perhaps, yet is much nearer to Rumford than it was fifty or
sixty years ago.

The same remark may be made of the Temple of Mars without the walls,
near the Porta Capena: a rotunda it was on the road side _then_: it is
on the road side _now_, and a very little way from the gate.

Caius Cestius's sepulchre however, without the walls, on the other side,
is one of the most perfect remains of antiquity we have here. Aurelian
made use of that as a boundary we know: it stands at present half
without and half within the limit that Emperor set to the city; and is a
very beautiful pyramid a hundred and ten feet high, admirably
represented in Piranesi's prints, with an inscription on the white
marble of which it is composed, importing the name and office and
condition of its wealthy proprietor: _C. Cestius, septem vir epulonum_.
He must have lived therefore since Julius Caesar's time it is plain, as
he first increased the number of epulones to seven, from three their
original institution. It was probably a very lucrative office for a man
to be Jupiter's caterer; who, as he never troubled himself with looking
over the bills, they were such commonly, I doubt not, as made ample
profits result to him who went to market; and Caius Cestius was one of
the rich contractors of those days, who neglected no opportunity of
acquiring wealth for himself, while he consulted the honour of Jupiter
in providing for his master's table very plentiful and elegant banquets.

That such officers were in use too among the Persians during the time
their monarchy lasted, is plain from the apocryphal story of Bel and the
Dragon in our Bibles, where, to the joy of every child that reads it,
Daniel detects the fraud of the priests by scattering ashes or saw-dust
in the temple.

But I fear the critics will reprove me for saying that Julius Caesar
only increased the number to seven, while many are of opinion he added
three more, and made them a decemvirate: mean time Livy tells us the
institution began in the year of Rome 553, during the consulate of
Fulvius Purpurio and Marcellus, upon a motion of Romuleius if I
remember. They had the privilege granted afterwards of edging the gown
with purple like the pontiffs, when increased to seven in number; and
they were always known by the name _Septemviratus,_ or _Septemviri
Epulonum_, to the latest hours of Paganism.

The tomb of Caius Cestius is supposed to have cost twelve thousand
pounds sterling of our money in those days; and little did he dream that
it should be made in the course of time a repository for the bones of
_divisos orbe Britannos_: for such it is now appointed to be by
government. All of us who die at Rome, sleep with this purveyor of the
gods; and from his monument shall at the last day rise the re-animated
body of our learned and incomparable Sir James Macdonald: whose numerous
and splendid acquirements, though by the time he had reached twenty-four
years old astonished all who knew him, never overwhelmed one little
domestic virtue. His filial piety however; his hereditary courage, his
extensive knowledge, his complicated excellencies, have now, I fear, no
other register to record their worth, than a low stone near the stately
pyramid of Jupiter's caterer.

The tomb of Caecilia Metella, wife of the rich and famous Crassus, claims
our next attention; it is a beautiful structure, and still called _Capo
di Bove_ by the Italians, on account of its being ornamented with the
_oxhead and flowers_ which now flourish over every door in the new-built
streets of London; but the original of which, as Livy tells us, and I
believe Plutarch too, was this. That Coratius, a Sabine farmer, who
possessed a particularly fine cow, was advised by a soothsayer to
sacrifice her to Diana upon the Aventine Hill; telling him, that the
city where _she_ now presided--_Diana_--should become mistress of the
world, and he who presented her with that cow should become master over
that city. The poor Sabine went away to wash in the Tyber, and purify
himself for these approaching honours[AF]; but in the mean time, a boy
having heard the discourse, and reported it to _Servius Tullius_, he
hastened to the spot, killed Coratius's cow for him, sacrificed her to
Diana, and hung her head with the horns on, and the garland just as she
died, upon the temple door as an ornament. From that time, it seems, the
ornament called _Caput Bovis_ was in a manner consecrated to Diana, and
her particular votaries used it on their tombs. Nor could one easily
account for the decorations of many Roman sarcophagi, till one
recollects that they were probably adapted to that divinity in whose
temple they were to be placed, rather than to the particular person
occupying the tomb, or than to our general ideas of death, time, and
eternity. It is probably for this reason that the immense sarcophagus
lately dug up from under the temple of Bacchus without the walls, cut
out of one solid piece of red porphyry, has such gay ornaments round it,
relative to the sacrifices of Bacchus, &c.; and I fancy these stone
coffins, if we may call them so, were often made ready and sold to any
person who wished to bury their friend, and who chose some story
representing the triumph of whatever deity they devoted themselves to.
Were the modern inhabitants of Rome who venerate St. Lorenzo, St.
Sebastiano, &c. to place, not uncharacteristically at all--a gridiron,
or an arrow on their tombstone, it might puzzle succeeding antiquarians,
and yet be nothing out of the way in the least.

[Footnote AF: A circumstance alluded to and parodied by Ben Johnson in
his Alchemist. See the conduct of Dapper, &c.]

Of the Egyptian obelisks at Rome I will not strive to give any account,
or even any idea. They are too numerous, too wonderful, too learned for
me to talk about; but I must not forbear to mention the broken thing
which lies down somewhere in a heap of rubbish, and is said to be the
greatest rarity in Rome, column, or _obelisk_ and the greatest antiquity
surely, if 1630 years before the birth of Christ be its date; as that
was but two centuries after the invention of letters by _Memnon_, and
just about the time that Joseph the favourite of Pharaoh died. There is
a sphinx upon it, however, mighty clearly expressed; and some one said,
how strange it was, if the world was no older than we think it, that
they should, in so early a stage of existence, represent, or even
imagine to themselves a compound animal[AG]: though the chimaera came in
play when the world was pretty young too, and the Prophet Isaiah speaks
of centaurs; but that was long after even Hesiod's time.

[Footnote AG: The ornaments of the ark and tabernacle exhibit much
improvement in the arts of engraving, carving, &c. Nor did it seem to
cost Aaron any trouble to make a cast of Apis in the Wilderness for the
Israelites' amusement, 1491 years before Christ; while the dog Anubis
was probably another figure with which Moses was not unacquainted, and
that was certainly composite: a cynopephalus I believe.]

A modern traveller has however, with much ingenuity of conjecture, given
us an excellent reason why the Sphinx was peculiar to Egypt, as the
Nile was observed to overflow when the sun was in those signs of the
Zodiack:

    The lion virgin Sphinx, which shows
    What time the rich Nile overflows.

And sure I think, as people lived longer then than they do now; as Moses
was contemporary with Cecrops, so that monarchy and a settled form of
government had begun to obtain footing in Greece, and apparently
migrated a little westward even then; that this column might have
employed the artists of those days, without any such exceeding stretch
of probability as our modern Aristotelians study to make out, from their
zeal to establish his doctrine of the world's eternity. While, if
conjecture were once as liberally permitted to believers as it is
generously afforded to scepticks, I know not whether a hint concerning
Sphinx's original might not be deduced from old Israel's last blessing
to his sons; _The lion of Judah_, with the _head of a virgin_, in whose
offspring that lion was one day to sink and be lost, except his hinder
parts; might naturally enough grow into a favourite emblem among the
inhabitants of a nation who owed their existence to one of the family;
and who would be still more inclined to commemorate the mystical
blessing, if they observed the fructifying inundation to happen
regularly, as Mr. Savary says, when the Sun left Leo for Virgo.

The broken pillar has however carried me too far perhaps, though every
day passed in the Pope's Musaeum confirms my belief, nay certainty, that
they did mingle the veneration of Joseph with that of their own gods:
The bushel or measure of corn on the Egyptian Jupiter's head is a proof
of it, and the name _Serapis_, a further corroboration: the dream which
he explained for Pharaoh relative to the event that fixed his favour in
that country, was expressed by _cattle_; and _for apis_, the _ox's
head_, was perfectly applicable to him for every reason.

But we will quit mythology for the Corso. This is the first town in
Italy I have arrived at yet, where the ladies fairly drive up and down a
long street by way of shewing their dress, equipages, &c. without even a
pretence of taking fresh air. At Turin the view from the place destined
to this amusement, would tempt one out merely for its own sake; and at
Milan they drive along a planted walk, at least a stone's throw beyond
the gates. Bologna calls its serious inhabitants to a little rising
ground, whence the prospect is luxuriantly verdant and smiling. The
Lucca bastions are beyond all in a peculiar style of miniature beauty;
and even the Florentines, though lazy enough, creep out to Porto St.
Gallo. But here at Roma la Santa, the street is all our Corso; a fine
one doubtless, and called the _Strada del Popolo_, with infinite
propriety, for except in that strada there is little populousness enough
God knows. Twelve men to a woman even there, and as many ecclesiastics
to a lay-man: all this however is fair, when celibacy is once enjoined
as a duty in one profession, encouraged as a virtue in all. Where
females are superfluous, and half prohibited, it were as foolish to
complain of the decay of population, as it was comical in Omai the South
American savage, when he lamented that no cattle bred upon their island;
and one of our people replying, That they left some beasts on purpose to
furnish them; he answered, "Yes, but the idol worshipped at Bola-bola,
another of the islands, insisted on the males and females living
separate: so they had sent _him_ the cows, and kept only the bulls at
home."

_Au reste_, as the French say, we must not be too sure that all who
dress like Abates are such. Many gentlemen wear black as the court garb;
many because it is not costly, and many for reasons of mere convenience
and dislike of change.

I see not here the attractive beauty which caught my eye at Venice; but
the women at Rome have a most Juno-like carriage, and fill up one's idea
of Livia and Agrippina well enough. The men have rounder faces than one
sees in other towns I think; bright, black, and somewhat prominent eyes,
with the finest teeth in Europe. A story told me this morning struck my
fancy much; of an herb-woman, who kept a stall here in the market, and
who, when the people ran out flocking to see the Queen of Naples as she
passed, began exclaiming to her neighbours--"_Ah, povera Roma! tempo fu
quando passo qui prigioniera la regina Zenobia; altra cosa amica, robba
tutta diversa di questa_ reginuccia[AH]!"

[Footnote AH: "Ah, poor degraded Rome! time was, my dear, when the great
Zenobia passed through these streets in chains; anotherguess figure from
this little Queeney, in good time!"]

A characteristic speech enough; but in this town, unlike to every other,
the _things_ take my attention all away from the _people_; while, in
every other, the people have had much more of my mind employed upon
them, than the things.

The arch of Constantine, however, must be spoken of; the sooner, because
there is a contrivance at the top of it to conceal musicians, which
added, as it passed, to the noise and gaiety of the triumph. Lord
Scarsdale's back front at Keddlestone exhibits an imitation of this
structure; a motto, expressive of hospitality, filling up the part
which, in the original, is adorned with the siege of Verona, that to me
seems well done; but Michael Angelo carried off Trajan's head they tell
us, which had before been carried thither from the arch of Trajan
himself. The arch of Titus Vespasian struck me more than all the others
we have named though; less for its being the first building in which the
Composite order of architecture is made use of, among the numberless
fabrics that surround one, than for the evident completion of the
prophecies which it exhibits. Nothing can appear less injured by time
than the bas-reliefs, on one side representing the ark, and golden
candlesticks; on the other, Titus himself, delight of human kind, drawn
by four horses, his look at once serene and sublime. The Jews cannot
endure, I am told, to pass under this arch, so lively is the
_annihilation_ of their government, and utter _extinction_ of their
religion, carved upon it. When reflecting on the continued captivity
they have suffered ever since this arch was erected here at Rome, and
which they still suffer, being strictly confined to their own miserable
Ghetto, which they dare not leave without a mark upon their hat to
distinguish them, and are never permitted to stir without the walls,
except in custody of some one whose business it is to bring them back;
when reflecting, I say, on their sorrows and punishments, one's heart
half inclines to pity their wretchedness; the dreadful recollection
immediately crosses one, that these are the direct and lineal progeny of
those very Jews who cried out aloud--"_Let his blood be upon us, and
upon our children!_"--Unhappy race! how sweetly does St. Austin say of
them--"_Librarii nostri facti sunt, quemadmodum solent libros post
dominos ferre_."

The _arca degli orefici_ is a curious thing too, and worth observing:
the goldsmiths set it up in honour of Caracalla and Geta; but one
plainly discerns where poor Geta's head has been carried off in one
place, his figure broken in another, apparently by Caracalla's order.
The building is of itself of little consequence, but as a confirmation
of historical truth.

The fountains of Rome should have been spoken of long ago; the number of
them is known to all though, and of their magnificence words can give no
idea. One print of the Trevi is worth all the words of all the
describers together. Moses striking the rock, at another fountain, where
water in torrents tumble forth at the touch of the rod, has a glorious
effect, from the happiness of the thought, and an expression so suitable
to the subject. When I was told the story of Queen Christina admiring
the two prodigious fountains before St. Peter's church, and begging that
they might leave off playing, because she thought them occasional, and
in honour of her arrival, not constant and perpetual; who could help
recollecting a similar tale told about the Prince of Monaco, who was
said to have expressed his concern, when he saw the roads lighted up
round London, that our king should put himself to so great an expence on
his account--in good time!--thinking it a temporary illumination made to
receive him with distinguished splendour. These anecdotes are very
pretty now, if they are strictly true; because they shew the mind's
petty but natural disposition, of reducing and attributing all _to
self_: but if they are only inventions, to raise the reputation of
London lamps, or Roman cascades, one scorns them;--I really do hope, and
half believe, that they are true.

But I have been to see the two Auroras of Guido and Guercino. Villa
Ludovisi contains the last, of which I will speak first for forty
reasons--the true one because I like it best. It is so sensible, so
poetical, so beautiful. The light increases, and the figure advances to
the fancy: one expects Night to be waked before one looks at her again,
if ever one can be prevailed upon to take one's eyes away. The bat and
owl are going soon to rest, and the lamp burns more faintly as when day
begins to approach. The personification of Night is wonderfully hit off.
But Guercino is _such_ a painter! We were driving last night to look at
the Colisseo by moon-light--there were a few clouds just to break the
expanse of azure and shew the gilding. I thought how like a sky of
Guercino's it was; other painters remind one of nature, but nature when
most lovely makes one think of Guercino and his works. The Ruspigliosi
palace boasts the Aurora of Guido--both are ceilings, but this is not
rightly named sure. We should call it the Phoebus, for Aurora holds only
the second place at best: the fun is driving over her almost; it is a
more luminous, a more graceful, a more showy picture than the other,
more universal too, exciting louder and oftener repeated praises; yet
the other is so discriminated, so tasteful, so classical! We must go see
what Domenichino has done with the same subject.

I forget the name of the palace where it is to be admired: but had we
not seen the others, one should have said this was divine. It is a
Phoebus again, _this_ is; not a bit of an Aurora: and Truth is springing
up from the arms of Time to rejoice in the sun's broad light. Her
expression of transport at being set free from obscurity, is happy in
an eminent degree; but there are faults in her form, and the Apollo has
scarcely dignity enough in _his_. The horses are best in Guide's
picture: Aurora at the Villa Ludovisi has but two; they are very
spirited, but it is the spirit of three, not six o'clock in a summer
morning. Surely Thomson had been living under these two roofs when he
wrote such descriptions as seem to have been made on purpose for them;
could any one give a more perfect account of Guercino's performance than
these words afford?

    The meek-ey'd morn appears, mother of dews,
    At first faint-gleaming in the dappled East
    Till far o'er aether spreads the widening glow,
    And from before the lustre of her face
    White break the clouds away: with quicken'd step
    Brown Night retires, young Day pours in apace
    And opens all the lawny prospect wide.

As for the Ruspigliosi palace I left these lines in the room, written by
the same author, and think them more capable than any description I
could make, of giving some idea of Guido's Phoebus.

    While yonder comes the powerful King of Day
    Rejoicing in the East; the lessening cloud,
    The kindling azure, and the mountains brow
    Illum'd with fluid gold, his near approach
    Betoken glad; lo, now apparent all
    He looks in boundless majesty abroad,
    And sheds the shining day.

So charming Thomson wrote from his lodgings at a milliner's in
Bond-street, whence he seldom rose early enough to see the sun do more
than glisten on the opposing windows of the street: but genius, like
truth, cannot be kept down. So he wrote, and so they painted! _Ut
pictura poesis_.

The music is not in a state so capital as we left it in the north of
Italy; we regret Nardini of Florence, Alessandri of Venice, and Ronzi of
Milan; and who that has heard Signior Marchesi sing, could ever hear a
successor (for rival he has none), without feeling total indifference to
all their best endeavours?

The conversations of Cardinal de Bernis and Madame de Boccapaduli are
what my countrywomen talk most of; but the Roman ladies cannot endure
perfumes, and faint away even at an artificial rose. I went but once
among them, when Memmo the Venetian ambassador did me the honour to
introduce me _somewhere_, but the conversation was soon over, not so my
shame; when I perceived all the company shrink from me very oddly, and
stop their noses with rue, which a servant brought to their assistance
on open salvers. I was by this time more like to faint away than
they--from confusion and distress; my kind protector informed me of the
cause; said I had some grains of marechale powder in my hair perhaps,
and led me out of the assembly; to which no intreaties could prevail on
me ever to return, or make further attempts to associate with a delicacy
so very susceptible of offence.

Mean time the weather is exceedingly bad, heavy, thick, and foggy as our
own, for aught I see; but so it was at Milan too I well remember: one's
eye would not reach many mornings across the Naviglio that ran directly
under our windows. For fine bright Novembers we must go to
Constantinople I fancy; certain it is that Rome will not supply them.

What however can make these Roman ladies fly from _odori_ so, that a
drop of lavenderwater in one's handkerchief, or a carnation in one's
stomacher, is to throw them all into, convulsions thus? Sure this is the
only instance in which they forbear to _fabbricare fu
l'antico_[Footnote: Build upon the old foundations.], in their own
phrase: the dames, of whom Juvenal delights to tell, liked perfumes well
enough if I remember; and Horace and Martial cry "_Carpe rosas_"
perpetually. Are the modern inhabitants still more refined than _they_
in their researches after pleasure? and are the present race of ladies
capable of increasing, beyond that of their ancestors, the keenness of
any corporeal sense? I should think not. Here are however amusements
enough at Rome without trying for their conversations.

The Barberini palace, whither I carried a distracting tooth-ach, amused
even that torture by the variety of its wonders. The sleeping faun,
praised on from century to century, and never yet praised enough; so
drunk, so fast asleep, so like a human body! Modesty reproving Vanity,
by Leonardo da Vinci, so totally beyond my expectation or comprehension,
great! wise! and fine! Raphael's Mistress, painted by himself, and
copied by Julio Romano; this picture gives little satisfaction though
except from curiosity gratified, the woman is too coarse. Guido's
Magdalen up stairs, the famous Magdalen, effacing every beauty, of
softness mingled with distress. A St. John too, by dear Guercino,
transcendent! but such was my anguish the very rooms turned round: I
must come again when less ill I believe.

Nothing can equal the nastiness at one's entrance to this magazine of
perfection: but the Roman nobles are not disgusted with _all sorts_ of
scents it is plain; these are not what we should call perfumes indeed,
but certainly _odori_: of the same nature as those one is obliged to
wade through before Trajan's Pillar can be climbed.

That the general appearance of a city which contains such treasures
should be mean and disgusting, while one literally often walks upon
granite, and tramples red porphyry under one's feet, is one of the
greatest wonders to me, in a town of which the wonders seem innumerable:
that it should be nasty beyond all telling, all endurance, with such
perennial streams of the purest water liberally dispersed, and
triumphantly scattered all over it, is another unfathomable wonder: that
so many poor should be suffered to beg in the streets, when not a hand
can be got to work in the fields, and that those poor should be
permitted to exhibit sights of deformity and degradations of our species
to me unseen till now, at the most solemn moments, and in churches where
silver and gold, and richly-arrayed priests, scarcely suffice to call
off attention from their squallid miseries, I do not try to comprehend.
That the palaces which taste and expence combine to decorate should look
quietly on, while common passengers use their noble vestibules, nay
flairs, for every nauseous purpose; that princes whose incomes equal
those of our Dukes of Bedford and Marlborough, should suffer their
servants to dress other men's dinners for hire, or lend out their
equipages for a day's pleasuring, and hang wet rags out of their palace
windows to dry, as at the mean habitation of a pauper; while looking in
at those very windows, nothing is to be seen but proofs of opulence, and
scenes of splendour, I will not undertake to explain; sure I am, that
whoever knows Rome, will not condemn this _ebauche_ of it.

When I spoke of their beggars, many not unlike Salvator Rosa's Job at
the Santa Croce palace, I ought not to have omitted their eloquence, and
various talents. We talked to a lame man one day at our own door, whose
account of his illness would not have disgraced a medical professor; so
judicious were his sentiments, so scientific was his discourse. The
accent here too is perfectly pleasing, intelligible, and expressive; and
I like their _cantilena_ vastly.

The excessive lenity of all Italian states makes it dangerous to live
among them; a seeming paradox, yet certainly most true; and whatever is
evil in this way at any other town, is worst at Rome; where those who
deserve hanging, enjoy almost a moral certainty of never being hanged;
so unwilling is everybody to detect the offender, and so numerous the
churches to afford him protection if found out.

A man asked importunately in our antichamber this morning for the
_padrone,_ naming no names, and our servants turned him out. He went
however only five doors, further, found a sick old gentleman sitting in
his lodging attended by a feeble servant, whom he bound, stuck a knife
in the master, rifled the apartments, and walked coolly out again at
noon-day: nor should we have ever heard of _such a trifle_, but that it
happened just by so; for here are no newspapers to tell who is murdered,
and nobody's pity is excited, unless for the malefactor when they hear
he is caught.

But the Palazzo Farnese is a more pleasing speculation; the Hercules
faces us entering; Guglielmo della Porta made his legs I hear, and when
the real ones were found, _his were better:_ and Michael Angelo said, it
was not worth risquing the statue to try at restoring the old ones.
There is another Hercules stands near, as a foil to Glycon's, I suppose;
and the Italians tell you of our Mr. Sharp's acuteness in finding some
fault till then undiscovered, a very slight one though, with some of the
neck muscles: they tell it approvingly however, and make one admire
their candour, even beyond their Flora, who carries that in her
countenance which they possess in their hearts. Under a shed on the
right hand you find the famous groupe called Toro Farnese. It has been
touched and repaired, they tell you, till much of the spirit is lost;
but I did not miss it. The Bull and the Brothers are greatness itself;
but Dirce draws no compassion by her looks somehow, and the lady who
comes to her relief, seems too cold a spectatress of the scene.

There were several broken statues in the place, and while my companions
were examining the groupe after I had done, the wench's conversation who
shewed it made my amusement: as we looked together at an Egyptian
_Isis_, or, as many call her, _the Ephesian Diana_, with a hundred
breasts, very hideous, and swathed about the legs like a mummy at Cairo,
or a baby at Rome, I said to the girl, "_They worshipped these filthy
things formerly before Jesus Christ came; but he taught us better_,"
added I, "_and we are wiser now: how foolish was not it to pray to this
ugly stone_?"--"The people were _wickeder_ then, very likely;" replied
my friend the wench, "but I do not see that it _was foolish at all."_

Who says the modern Romans are degenerated? I swear I think them so like
their ancestors, that it is my delight to contemplate the resemblance.
A statue of a peasant carrying game at this very palace, is habited
precisely in the modern dress, and shews how very little change has yet
been made. The shoes of the low fellows too particularly attract my
notice: they exactly resemble the ancient ones, and when Persius
mentions his ploughman _peronatus arator_, one sees he would say so
to-day.

The Dorian palace calls however, and people must give way to things
where the miraculous powers of Benvenuto Garofani are concerned; where
Lodovico Caracci exhibits a _testa del redentore_ beyond all praise,
uniting every excellence, and expressing every perfection; where, in the
deluge represented by Bonati, one sees the eagle drooping from a weight
of rain, majestic in his distress, and looking up to the luminous part
of the picture as if hoping to discover some ray of that sun he never
shall see again. How characteristic! how tasteful is the expression! The
famous Virgin and Child too, so often engraved and copied.

I will run away from this Doria; it is too full of beauty--it dazzles:
and I will let them shew the pale green Gaspar Pouffins, so valuable,
so curious, to whom they please, while Nature and Claude content my
fancy and fill up every idea.

At the Colonna palace what have I remarked? That it possesses the gayest
gallery belonging to any subject upon earth: one hundred and thirty-nine
feet long, thirty-four broad, and seventy high: profusely ornamented
with pillars, pictures, statues, to a degree of magnificence difficult
to express. The Herodias here by Guido, is the perfection of dancing
grace. No Frenchman enters the room that does not bear testimony to its
peculiar excellence. But here's Guercino's sweet returning Prodigal, and
here is a _Madonna disperata_ bursting as from a cavern to embrace the
body of her dead son and saviour.--Such a sky too! But it is treating
too theatrically a subject which impresses one more at last in the
simple _Pieta_[AI] d'Annibale Caracci at Palazzo Doria.

[Footnote AI: The Christ in his mother's lap, after crucifixion, is
always called in Italy a _Pieta_.]

One wonderfully-imagined picture by Andrea Sacchi, of Cain flying from
the sight of his murdered brother, shall alone detain me from mentioning
here at Rome what certainly would never have been thought on by
Englishmen had it remained at Windsor; no other than our old King
Charles's cabinet, sold to the Colonna family by Cromwell, and set about
in the old-fashioned way with gems, cameos, &c. one of which has been
stolen.

And now to the Borghese, which I am told is for a time to finish my
fatigues, as after three days more we go to Naples. News perfectly
agreeable to me, who never have been well here for two hours together.

All the great churches remain yet unvisited: they are to be taken at our
return in spring; mean while I will go see Mons Sacer in spite of
connoisseurship, though the place it seems is nothing, and the prospect
from it dull; but it produces thoughts, or what is next to
thought,--recollection of books read, and events related in one's early
youth, when names and stories make impression on a mind not yet hardened
by age, or contracted by necessary duty, so as no longer to receive with
equal relish the _tales of other times._ The lake too, with the floating
islands, should be mentioned; the colour of which is even blue with
venom, and left a brassy taste in my mouth for a whole day, after only
observing how it boiled with rage on dropping in a stone, and incrusted
a stick with its tartar in two minutes. One of our companions indeed
leaped upon the little spots of ground which float in it, and deserved
to feel some effect of his rashness; but it is sufficient to stand near,
I think; one scarcely can escape contagion. The sudden and violent
powers observable in this lake should at least check the computists from
thinking they can gather the world's age from its petrefactions.

But we are called to the Vatican, where the Apollo, Laocoon, Antinous,
and Meleager, with others of less distinguished merit, suffer one to
think on nothing but themselves, and of the artists who framed such
models of perfection. Laocoon's agonies torment one. I was forced to
recollect the observation Dr. Moore says was first made by Mr. Locke, in
order to harden my heart against him who appears to feel only for
himself, when two such youths are expiring close beside him. But though
painting can do much, and sculpture perhaps more, at least one learns to
think so here at Rome, the comfort is, that poetry beats them both.
Virgil knew, and Shakespeare would have known, how to heighten even
this distress, by adding paternal anguish:--here is distress enough
however.

Let us once more acknowledge the modesty and candour of Italians, when
we repeat what has been so often recorded, that Michael Angelo refused
adding the arm that was wanting to this chef d'oeuvre; and when
Bernini undertook the task, he begged it might remain always a different
colour, that he might not be suspected of hoping that his work could
ever lie confounded with that of the Greek artist.

Such is not the spirit of the French: they have been always adding to
Don Quixote! a personage whose adventures were little likely to cross
one's fancy in the Vatican; but perfection is perfection.

Here stands the Apollo though, in whom alone no fault has yet been
found. They tell you, he has just killed the serpent Python. "Let us beg
of him," says one of the company, "just to turn round and demolish those
cursed snakes which are devouring the poor old man and his boys yonder."
This was like the speech of _Marchez donc_ to the fine bronze horse
under the heavenly statue of Marcus Aurelius at the Capitol, and made me
hope that story might be true. It is the fashion for every body to go
see Apollo by torch light: he looks like _Phoebus_ then, the Sun's
bright deity, and seems to say to his admirers, as that Divinity does to
the presumptuous hero in Homer,

    Oh son of Tydeus, cease! be wise, and see
    How vast the difference 'twixt the gods and thee.

Indeed every body finds the remark obvious, that this statue is of
beauty and dignity beyond what human nature now can boast; and the
Meleager just at hand, with the Antinous, confirm it; for all elegance
and all expression, unpossessed by the Apollo, _they have_, while none
can miss the inferiority of their general appearance to his.

The Musaeum Clementinum is altogether such though, that these singularly
excellent productions of art are only proper and well-adapted ornaments
of a gallery, so stately as, on the other hand, that noble edifice seems
but the due repository of such inhabitants. Never were place and
decorations so adapted: never perhaps was so refined a taste engaged on
subjects so worthy its exertion. The statues are disposed with a
propriety that charms one; the situation of the pillars so contrived,
the colours of them so chosen to carry the eye forward--not fatigue it;
the rooms so illuminated: Hagley park is not laid out with more
judicious attention to diversify, and relieve with various objects a
mind delighting in the contemplation of ornamented nature; than is the
Pope's Musaeum calculated to enchain admiration, and fix it in those
apartments where sublimity and beauty have established their residence;
and those would be worse than Goths, who could think of moving even an
old torso from the place where Pius Sextus has commanded it to remain.

The other parts of this prodigious structure would take up one's life
almost to see completely, to remember distinctly, and to describe
accurately. When the reader recollects that St. Peter's, with all its
appurtenances, palace, library, musaeum, every thing that we include in
the word _Vatican_, is said by the Romans to occupy an equal quantity of
space, to that covered by the city of Turin: the assertion need not any
longer be thought hyperbolical.

I will say no more about it till at our return from Naples we visit all
the churches.

Vopiscus said, that the statues in his time at Rome out-numbered the
people; and I trust the remark is now almost doubly true, as every day
and hour digs up dead worthies, and the unwholesome weather must surely
send many of the living ones to their ancestors: upon the whole, the men
and women of Porphyry, &c. please me best, as they do not handle long
knives to so good an effect as the others do, "_qui aime bien a
s'egorger encore[Footnote: Who have still a taste to be cut-throats.],"_
says a French gentleman of them the other day. There is however an air
of cheerfulness in the streets at a night among the poor, who fry fish,
and eat roots, sausages, &c. as they walk about gaily enough, and though
they quarrel too often, never get drunk at least.

The two houses belonging to the Borghese family shall conclude my first
journey to Rome, and with that the first volume of my observations and
reflexions.

Their town palace is a suite of rooms constructed like those at Wanstead
exactly; and where you turn at the end to come back by another suite,
you find two alabaster fountains of superior beauty, and two glass
lustres made in London, but never wiped since they left Fleet-street
certainly. They do not however _want_ cleaning as the fountains do;
which, by the extraordinary use made of them, give the whole palace an
offensive smell.

Among the pictures here, the entombing our blessed Saviour by Rafaelle
is most praised: It is supposed indeed wholly inestimable, and I believe
is so, while Venus, binding Cupid's eyes, by Titian, engraved by
Strange, is possibly one of the pleasantest pictures in Rome. The Christ
disputing with the Doctors is inimitable, one of the wonderful works of
Leonardo da Vinci: but here is Domenichino's Diana among her nymphs,
very laboured, and very learned. Why did it put me in mind of Hogarth's
strolling actresses dressing in a barn?

Villa Borghese presents more to one's mind at once than it will bear,
from the bas relief of Curtius over the door that faces you going in, to
the last gate of the garden you drive out at;--large as the saloon is
however, the figure of Curtius seems too near you; and the horse's hind
quarters are heavy, and ill-suited to the forehand; but here are men
and women enough, and odd things that are neither, at this house; so we
may let the horse of Curtius alone.

Nothing can be gayer or more happily expressed in its way than the
Centaur, which Dr. Moore, like Dr. Young, finds _not_ fabulous; while
the brute runs away with the man, and Cupid keeps urging him forward.
The fawn nursing Bacchus when a baby, is another semi-human figure of
just and high estimation; and that very famous composition for which
Cavalier Bernini has executed a mattress infinitely softer to the eye
than any real one I ever found in _his_ country, has here an apartment
appropriated to itself.

From monsters the eye turns of its own accord towards Nero, and here is
an incomparable one of about ten years old, in whose face I vainly
looked for the seeds of parricide, and murderous tyranny; but saw only a
sturdy boy, who might have been made an honest man perhaps, had not the
rod been spared by his old tutor, whose lenity is repaid by death here
in the next room. It is a relief to look upon the smiling Zingara; her
lively character is exquisitely touched, her face the only one perhaps
where Bernini could not go beyond the proper idea of arch waggery and
roguish cunning, adorned with beauty that must have rendered its
possessor, while living, irresistible. His David is scarcely young
enough for a ruddy shepherd swain; he seems too muscular, and confident
of his own strength; _this_ fellow could have worn Saul's armour well
enough. AEneas carrying his father, I understand, is by the other
Bernini; but the famous groupe of Apollo and Daphne is the work of our
Chevalier himself.

There is a Miss Hillisberg, a dancer on the stage, who reminds every
body of this graceful statue, when theatrical distress drives her to
force expression: I mean the stage in Germany, not Rome, whence females
are excluded. But the vases in this Borghese villa! the tables! the
walls! the cameos stuck in the walls! the frames of the doors, all
agate, porphyry, onyx, or verd antique! the enormous riches contained in
every chamber, actually takes away my breath and leaves me stunned. Nor
are the gardens unbecoming or inadequate to the house, where on the
outside appear such bas-reliefs as would be treasured up by the
sovereigns of France or England, and shewn as valuable rarities. The
rape of Europa first; it is a beautiful antique. Up stairs you see the
rooms constantly inhabited; in the princess's apartment, her
chimney-piece is one elegant but solid amethyst: over the prince's bed,
which changes with the seasons, hangs a Ganymede painted by Titian, to
which the connoisseurs tell you no rival has yet been found. The
furniture is suitably magnificent in every part of the house, and our
English friends assured me, that they met the lady of it last night,
when one gentleman observing how pretty she was, another replied he
could not see her face for the dazzling lustre of her innumerable
diamonds, that actually by their sparkling confounded his sight, and
surrounded her countenance so that he could not find it.

Among all the curiosities however belonging to this wealthy and
illustrious family, the single one most prized is a well-known statue,
called in Catalogues by the name of the Fighting Gladiator, but
considered here at Rome as deserving of a higher appellation. They now
dispute only what hero it can be, as every limb and feature is
expressive of a loftier character than the ancients ever bestowed in
sculpture upon those degraded mortals whom Pliny contemptuously calls
_Hordiarij_, and says they were kept on barley bread, with ashes given
in their drink to strengthen them. Indeed the statue of the expiring
Gladiator at the Capitol, his rope about his neck, and his unpitied
fate, marked strongly in his vulgar features, exhibits quite a separate
class in the variety of human beings; and though Faustina's favourite
found in the same collection was probably the showiest fellow then among
them, we see no marks of intelligent beauty or heroic courage in his
form or face, where an undaunted steadiness and rustic strength make up
the little merit of the figure.

This charming statue of the prince Borghese is on the other hand the
first in Rome perhaps, for the distinguished excellencies of animated
grace and active manliness: his head raised, the body's attitude, not
studied surely, but the apparent and seemingly sudden effect of
patriotic daring. Such one's fancy forms young Isadas the Spartan; who,
hearing the enemy's approach while at the baths, starts off unmindful of
his own defenceless state, snatches a spear and shield from one he
meets, flies at the foe, performs prodigies of valour, is looked on by
both armies as a descended God, and returns home at last unhurt, to be
fined by the Ephori for breach of discipline, at the same time that a
statue was ordered to commemorate his exploits, and erected at the
state's expence. Monsignor Ennio Visconti, who saw that the figure
reminded me of this story, half persuaded himself for a moment that this
was the very Isadas; and that Jason, for whom he had long thought it
intended, was not young enough, and less likely to fight undefended by
armour against bulls, of whose fury he had been well apprised. Mr.
Jenkins recollected an antique ring which confirmed our new hypothesis,
and I remained flattered, whether they were convinced or no.


END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.





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