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Title: A View of Society and Manners in Italy, Volume II (of 2) - With Anecdotes Relating to some Eminent Characters
Author: Moore, John W. (John Wheeler)
Language: English
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otherwise the original (and antiquated) spelling has been preserved, in
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                                    A
                                  VIEW
                                   OF
                           SOCIETY AND MANNERS
                                   IN
                                 ITALY:

                                  WITH
             ANECDOTES relating to some EMINENT CHARACTERS.

                           BY JOHN MOORE, M.D.

                                VOL. II.

          Strenua nos exercet inertia: navibus atque
          Quadrigis petimus bene vivere. Quod petis, hic est.

                                                            HOR.

                           THE SECOND EDITION.

      LONDON: Printed for W. STRAHAN; and T. CADELL, in the Strand.
                               MDCCLXXXI.



CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.


                           LETTER XLVI. p. 1.

    _Busts and statues of distinguished Romans—of Heathen
    Deities.—Passion of the Greeks and Romans for
    Sculpture.—Farnesian Hercules criticised by a Lady.—Remarks
    on that statue.—On the Flora.—Effect which the sight of the
    statues of Laocoon and his sons had on two spectators of
    opposite characters.—Mr. Lock’s Observations on the same
    group.—The Antinous.—The Apollo._

                          LETTER XLVII. p. 21.

    _The present Pope.—Ganganelli.—A Scotch Presbyterian._

                          LETTER XLVIII. p. 34.

    _Zeal of Pius VI.—Institution of the Jubilee.—Ceremony of
    building up the holy door of St. Peter’s by the present
    Pope.—The ceremony of high mass performed by the Pope on
    Christmas-day.—Character of the present Pope.—He is admired by
    the Roman women.—The Benediction pronounced in the grand area
    before the church of St. Peter’s._

                           LETTER XLIX. p. 48.

    _Presented to the Pope.—Reflections on the situation of
    Sovereigns in general.—The Sovereign Pontiff in particular._

                            LETTER L. p. 63.

    _Modern Romans.—Roman women compared with those of
    England.—Portrait painting in Italy, and elsewhere._

                            LETTER LI. p. 78.

    _Carnival at Rome.—Masquerades and other amusements in the
    Corso.—Horse-races.—Serious Opera.—Great sensibility in a
    young woman.—Extravagant expression of a Roman citizen at the
    Opera.—A Serenade on Christmas morning.—Female performers
    prohibited on the Theatres at Rome.—Eunuchs substituted.—The
    effect on the minds of spectators._

                           LETTER LII. p. 91.

    _Journey from Rome to
    Naples.—Veletri.—Otho.—Sermonetta.—Peevish Travellers.—Monte
    Circello.—Piperno.—Fossa Nuova._

                          LETTER LIII. p. 104.

    _Terracina.—Via Appia.—Fundi.—Gaeta.—Illustrious French
    Rebels.—Bourbon.—Minturnæ.—Marius.—Hannibal._

                           LETTER LIV. p. 120.

    _Naples.—Fortress of St. Elmo.—Conversation with a Lady
    regarding the Carthusians.—Manufactures.—Number of inhabitants._

                           LETTER LV. p. 131.

    _Manners._

                           LETTER LVI. p. 138.

    _Respect paid to Kings during their lives.—Freedoms used with
    their characters after their deaths.—The King of Naples.—A game
    at billiards.—Characters of the King and Queen._

                          LETTER LVII. p. 147.

    _The Neapolitan Nobles.—The Peasants._

                          LETTER LVIII. p. 158.

    _Citizens.—Lawyers.—Physicians.—Clergy.—Convents.—Lazzaroni._

                           LETTER LIX. p. 168.

    _Herculaneum.—Portici.—Pompeia._

                           LETTER LX. p. 186.

    _Poetical Rehearsers in the streets of Naples.—Street Orators
    and Historians—Improuvisatories.—Signora Corilla.—Sensibility
    of Italians.—English Gentlemen of the Ton.—A Neapolitan
    Mountebank._

                           LETTER LXI. p. 204.

    _A visit to Mount Vesuvius._

                          LETTER LXII. p. 217.

    _Observations on the pulmonary Consumption._

                          LETTER LXIII. p. 257.

    _Neapolitan and English customs and characters criticised and
    compared, in a conversation between two English Gentlemen._

                          LETTER LXIV. p. 273.

    _The liquefaction of St. Januarius’s blood.—Procession,
    ceremonies, anxiety of the people.—Their preposterous abuse of
    the Saint.—Observation of a Roman Catholic._

                           LETTER LXV. p. 290.

    _The Tomb of Virgil.—Pausilippo.—A Neapolitan Valet.—Grotta
    del Cane.—Campi Phlegrei, Solfaterra, Monte Nuova,
    &c.—Puzzoli.—Baia.—Cumæ._

                          LETTER LXVI. p. 301.

    _Palace of Casserta.—African slaves.—Gardens.—Fortifications._

                          LETTER LXVII. p. 308.

    _Character of the Archduchess.—Attend the King and Queen on a
    visit to four nunneries.—Entertainments there.—Effect of the
    climate on the constitution of Nuns and others._

                         LETTER LXVIII. p. 318.

    _Tivoli._

                          LETTER LXIX. p. 330.

    _Frescati and Albano.—Dialogue between an English and Scotch
    Gentleman._

                           LETTER LXX. p. 350.

    _Florence.—The English Minister.—Grand Duke and
    Duchess.—Florentines.—Particular species of virtù._

                          LETTER LXXI. p. 359.

    _Gallery.—Dialogue between an Antiquarian and a young Man
    concerning the Arrotino.—The Tribuna.—The Gallery of Portraits._

                          LETTER LXXII. p. 370.

    _State of the common people, particularly the peasants in
    Italy.—Of Roman Catholic Clergy.—Clergy in general._

                         LETTER LXXIII. p. 389.

    _Manners.—The Count Albany._

                          LETTER LXXIV. p. 398.

    _Cicisbeism._

                          LETTER LXXV. p. 408.

    _The same subject continued._

                          LETTER LXXVI. p. 421.

    _Commerce.—Jews.—Actors.—The Chapel of St. Lorenzo.—The rich
    not envied by the poor.—The Palazzo Pitti.—Observations on the
    Madonna della Seggiola._

                         LETTER LXXVII. p. 431.

    _A public Discourse by a Professor at the Academy of Arts at
    Bologna.—Procession of Corpus Domini.—Modena.—Parma.—Different
    opinions respecting a famous picture of Correggio._

                         LETTER LXXVIII. p. 441.

    _Milan.—The Cathedral.—Museum.—Manners._

                          LETTER LXXIX. p. 451.

    _Turin.—St. Ambrose.—A Procession.—Mount
    Cenis.—Modane.—Aiguebelle.—Hannibal’s passage into Italy._

                          LETTER LXXX. p. 464.

    _Journey from Geneva to Besançon.—Observation of a French
    peasant.—Of an old Woman.—Remarks of a French Friseur on the
    English nation._

                          LETTER LXXXI. p. 472.

    _The Marquis de F——._

                         LETTER LXXXII. p. 483.

    _Reflections on foreign travel._



[Illustration]



A VIEW OF SOCIETY AND MANNERS

IN

ITALY.



[Illustration]



LETTER XLVI.


                                                                    Rome.

I beg you may not suspect me of affectation, or that I wish to assume
the character of a connoisseur, when I tell you, that I have very great
pleasure in contemplating the antique statues and busts, of which there
are such numbers in this city. It is a natural curiosity, and I have
had it all my life in a strong degree, to see celebrated men, those
whose talents and great qualities can alone render the present age an
interesting object to posterity, and prevent its being lost, like the
dark ages which succeeded the destruction of the Roman empire, in the
oblivious vortex of time, leaving scarcely a wreck behind. The durable
monuments raised to fame by the inspiring genius of _Pitt_, and the
invincible spirit of _Frederick_, will command the admiration of future
ages, outlive the power of the empires which _they_ aggrandized, and
forbid the period in which _they_ flourished, from ever passing away like
the baseless fabric of a vision. The busts and statues of those memorable
men will be viewed, by succeeding generations, with the same regard and
attention which we now bestow on those of Cicero and Cæsar. We expect to
find something peculiarly noble and expressive in features which were
animated, and which, we imagine, must have been in some degree modelled,
by the sentiments of those to whom they belonged. It is not rank, it is
character alone which interests posterity. We know that men may be seated
on thrones, who would have been placed more suitably to their talents on
the working-table of a taylor; we therefore give little attention to the
busts or coins of the vulgar emperors. In the countenance of Claudius,
we expect nothing more noble than the phlegmatic tranquillity of an
acquiescing cuckold; in Caligula or Nero, the unrelenting frown of a
negro-driver, or the insolent air of any unprincipled ruffian in power.
Even in the high-praised Augustus we look for nothing essentially great,
nothing superior to what we see in those minions of fortune, who are
exalted, by a concurrence of incidents, to a situation in life to which
their talents would never have raised them, and which their characters
never deserved. In the face of Julius we expect to find the traces of
deep reflection, magnanimity, and the anxiety natural to the man who
had overturned the liberties of his native country, and who must have
secretly dreaded the resentment of a spirited people; and in the face of
Marcus Brutus we look for independence, conscious integrity, and a mind
capable of the highest effort of virtue.

It is natural to regret, that, of the number of antique statues
which have come to us tolerably entire, so great a proportion are
representations of gods and goddesses. Had they been intended for real
persons, we might have had a perfect knowledge of the face and figure of
the greatest part of the most distinguished citizens of ancient Greece
and Rome. A man of unrelaxing wisdom would smile with contempt, and ask,
if our having perfect representations of all the heroes, poets, and
philosophers recorded in history, would make us either wiser or more
learned? to which I answer, That there are a great many things, which
neither can add to my small stock of learning nor wisdom, and yet give me
more pleasure and satisfaction than those which do; and, unfortunately
for mankind, the greatest part of them resemble me in this particular.

But though I would with pleasure have given up a great number of the
Jupiters and Apollos and Venuses, whose statues we have, in exchange for
an equal, or even a smaller, number of mere mortals whom I could name;
I by no means consider the statues of those deities as uninteresting.
Though they are imaginary beings, yet each of them has a distinct
character of his own of classical authority, which has long been
impressed on our memories; and we assume the right of deciding on the
artist’s skill, and applauding or blaming, as he has succeeded or failed
in expressing the established character of the god intended. From the
ancient artists having exercised their genius in forming the images of
an order of beings superior to mankind, another and a greater advantage
is supposed to have followed; it prompted the artists to attempt the
uniting in one form, the various beauties and excellencies which nature
had dispersed in many. This was not so easy a task as may by some be
imagined; for that which has a fine effect in one particular face or
person, may appear a deformity when combined with a different complexion,
different features, or a different shape. It therefore required great
judgment and taste to collect those various graces, and combine them with
elegance and truth; and repeated efforts of this kind are imagined to
have inspired some of the ancient sculptors with sublimer ideas of beauty
than nature herself ever exhibited, as appears in some of their works
which have reached our own times.

Though the works of no modern artist can stand a comparison with the
great master-pieces now alluded to, yet nothing can be more absurd than
the idea which some people entertain, that all antique statues are of
more excellent workmanship than the modern. We see, every day, numberless
specimens of every species of sculpture, from the largest statues
and bassos-relievos, to the smallest cameos and intaglios, that are
undoubtedly antique, and yet far inferior, not only to the works of the
best artists of Leo the Tenth’s time, but also to those of many artists
now alive in various parts of Europe. The passion for sculpture, which
the Romans caught from the Greeks, became almost universal. Statues were
not only the chief ornaments of their temples and palaces, but also of
the houses of the middle, and even the lowest, order of citizens. They
were prompted to adorn them with the figures of a few favourite deities,
by religion, as well as vanity: no man, but an atheist or a beggar,
could be without them. This being the case, we may easily conceive what
graceless divinities many of them must have been; for in this, no doubt,
as in every other manufactory, there must occasionally have been bungling
workmen employed, even in the most flourishing æra of the arts, and goods
finished in a very careless and hurried manner, to answer the constant
demand, and suit the dimensions of every purse. We must have a very high
idea of the number of statues of one kind or other, which were in old
Rome, when we consider, how many are still to be seen; how many have at
different periods been carried away, by the curious, to every country in
Europe; how many were mutilated and destroyed by the gothic brutality
of Barbarians, and the ill-directed zeal of the early Christians, who
thought it a duty to exterminate every image, without distinction of age
or sex, and without considering whether they were of God or man. This
obliged the wretched heathens to hide the statues of their gods and of
their ancestors in the bowels of the earth, where unquestionably great
numbers of them still remain. Had they not been thus barbarously hewed to
pieces, and buried, I had almost said, alive, we might have had several
equal to the great master-pieces in the Vatican; for it is natural to
imagine, that the rage of the zealots would be chiefly directed against
those statues which were in the highest estimation with the heathens; and
we must likewise imagine, that these would be the pieces which they, on
their part, would endeavour, by every possible means, to preserve from
their power, and bury in the earth. Of those which have been dug up, I
shall mention only a very few, beginning with the Farnesian Hercules,
which has been long admired as an exquisite model of masculine strength;
yet, admirable as it is, it does not please all the world. I am told that
the women in particular find something unsatisfactory, and even odious,
in this figure; which, however majestic, is deficient in the charms
most agreeable to them, and which might have been expected in the son
of Jupiter and the beauteous Alcmena. A lady whom I accompanied to the
Farnese palace, turned away from it in disgust. I could not imagine what
had shocked her. She told me, _after recollection_, that she could not
bear the stern severity of his countenance, his large brawny limbs, and
the club with which he was armed; which gave him more the appearance of
one of those giants that, according to the old romances, carried away
virgins and shut them up in gloomy castles, than the gallant Hercules,
the lover of Omphale. Finally, the lady declared, she was convinced this
statue could not be a just representation of Hercules; for it was not
in the nature of things, that a man so formed could ever have been a
reliever of distressed damsels.

Without such powerful support as that of the fair sex, I should not have
exposed myself to the resentment of connoisseurs, by any expression
which they might construe an attack upon this favourite statue; but,
with their support, I will venture to assert, that the Farnese Hercules
is faulty both in his form and attitude: the former is too unwieldy for
active exertion, and the latter exhibits vigour _exhausted_. A resting
attitude is surely not the most proper in which the all-conquering god
of strength could be represented. Rest implies fatigue, and fatigue
strength exhausted. A reposing Hercules is almost a contradiction.
Invincible activity, and inexhaustible strength, are his characteristics.
The ancient artist has erred, not only in giving him an attitude which
supposes his strength wants recruiting, but in the nature of the strength
itself, the character of which should not be passive, but active.

Near to Hercules, under the arcades of the same Palazzo Farnese, is a
most beautiful statue of Flora. The great advantage which ancient artists
had in attending the exercises of the gymnasia, has been repeatedly urged
as the reason of their superiority over the moderns in sculpture. We
are told, that besides the usual exercises of the gymnasia, all those
who proposed to contend at the Olympic games, were obliged, by the
regulations, to prepare themselves, by exercising publicly for a year at
Elis; and the statuaries and painters constantly attended on the Arena,
where they had opportunities of beholding the finest shaped, the most
graceful, and most vigorous of the Grecian youth employed in those manly
sports, in which the power of every muscle was exerted, and all their
various actions called forth, and where the human form appeared in an
infinite variety of different attitudes. By a constant attendance at
such a school, independent of any other circumstance, the artists are
supposed to have acquired a more animated, true, and graceful style,
than possibly can be caught from viewing the tame, mercenary models,
which are exhibited in our academies. On the other hand, I have heard
it asserted, that the artist, who formed the Farnesian Flora, could not
have improved his work, or derived any of its excellencies, from the
circumstances above enumerated; because the figure is in a standing
posture, and clothed. In the light, easy flow of the drapery, and in the
contour of the body being as distinctly pronounced through it, as if the
figure were naked, the chief merit of this statue is thought to consist.
But this reasoning does not seem just; for the daily opportunities
the ancient artists had of seeing naked figures, in every variety of
action and attitude, must have given them advantages over the moderns,
in forming even drapery figures. At Sparta, the women, upon particular
occasions, danced naked. In their own families; they were seen every day
clothed in light draperies; and so secondary was every consideration,
even that of decency, to art, that the prettiest virgins of Agrigentum,
it is recorded, were called upon by the legislature, without distinction,
to shew themselves naked to a painter, to enable him to paint a Venus.
Whilst the moderns, therefore, must acknowledge their inferiority to the
ancients in the art of sculpture, they may be allowed merit, on account
of the cause, to which it seems, in some measure at least, to be owing.

The finest specimens of antique sculpture are to be seen in the Vatican.
In these the Greek artists display an unquestionable superiority
over the most successful efforts of the moderns. For me to attempt a
description of these master-pieces, which have been described a thousand
times, and imitated as often, without once having had justice done
them, would be equally vain and superfluous. I confine myself to a very
few observations. The most insensible of mankind must be struck with
horror at sight of the Laocoon. On one of my visits to the Vatican, I
was accompanied by two persons, who had never been there before: one of
them is accused of being perfectly callous to every thing which does not
immediately touch his own person; the other is a worthy, good man: the
first, after staring for some time with marks of terror at the groupe,
at length recovered himself; exclaiming with a laugh,—“Egad, I was afraid
these d——d serpents would have left the fellows they are devouring, and
made a snap at me; but I am happy to recollect they are of marble.”—“I
thank you, Sir, most heartily,” said the other, “for putting me in mind
of that circumstance; till you mentioned it, I was in agony for those two
youths.”

Nothing can be conceived more admirably executed than this affecting
groupe; in all probability, it never would have entered into my own head
that it could have been in any respect improved. But when I first had the
happiness of becoming acquainted with Mr. Lock, a period of my life which
I shall always recollect with peculiar pleasure, I remember my conversing
with him upon this subject; and that Gentleman, after mentioning the
execution of this piece, in the highest terms of praise, observed that,
had the figure of Laocoon been _alone_, it would have been perfect. As a
man suffering the most excruciating bodily pain with becoming fortitude,
it admits of no improvement; his proportions, his form, his action, his
expression, are exquisite. But when his sons appear, he is no longer an
insulated, suffering individual, who, when he has met pain and death
with dignity, has done all that could be expected from man; he commences
_father_, and a much wider field is opened to the artist. We expect the
deepest pathos in the exhibition of the sublimest character that art
can offer to the contemplation of the human mind: A father forgetting
pain, and instant death, to save his children. This Sublime and Pathetic
the artist either did not see, or despaired of attaining. Laocoon’s
sufferings are merely corporal; he is deaf to the cries of his agonizing
children, who are calling on him for assistance. But had he been
throwing a look of anguish upon his sons, had he seemed to have forgotten
his own sufferings in theirs, he would have commanded the sympathy of the
spectator in a much higher degree. On the whole, Mr. Lock was of opinion,
that the execution of this groupe is perfect, but that the conception is
not equal to the execution. I shall leave it to others to decide whether
Mr. Lock, in these observations, spoke like a man of taste: I am sure he
spoke like a father. I have sensibility to feel the beauty and justness
of the remark, though I had not the ingenuity to make it.

It is disputed whether this groupe was formed from Virgil’s description
of the death of Laocoon and his sons, or the description made from the
groupe; it is evident, from their minute resemblance, that one or other
must have been the case. The Poet mentions a circumstance, which could
not be represented by the sculptor; he says that, although every other
person around sought safety by flight, the father was attacked by the
serpents, while he was advancing to the assistance of his sons—

    —auxilio subeuntem ac tela ferentem.

This deficiency in the sculptor’s art would have been finely supplied by
the improvement which Mr. Lock proposed.

Reflecting on the dreadful condition of three persons entangled in
the horrid twinings of serpents, and after contemplating the varied
anguish so strongly expressed in their countenances, it is a relief to
turn the eye to the heavenly figure of the Apollo. To form an adequate
idea of the beauty of this statue, it is absolutely necessary to see
it. With all the advantages of colour and life, the human form never
appeared so beautiful; and we never can sufficiently admire the artist,
who has endowed marble with a finer expression of grace, dignity, and
understanding, than ever were seen in living features. In the forming of
this inimitable figure, the artist seems to have wrought after an ideal
form of beauty, superior to any in nature, and which existed only in his
own imagination.

The admired statue of Antinous is in the same Court. Nothing can be more
light, elegant, and easy; the proportions are exact, and the execution
perfect. It is an exquisite representation of the most beautiful youth
that ever lived.

The statue of Apollo represents something superior, and the emotions it
excites are all of the sublime cast.



LETTER XLVII.


                                                                    Rome.

The present Pope, who has assumed the name of Pius the Sixth, is a tall,
well-made man, about sixty years of age, but retaining in his look all
the freshness of a much earlier period of life. He lays a greater stress
on the ceremonious part of religion than his predecessor Ganganelli, in
whose reign a great relaxation of church-discipline is thought to have
taken place. The late Pope was a man of moderation, good sense, and
simplicity of manners; and could not go through all the ostentatious
parade which his station required, without reluctance, and marks of
disgust. He knew that the opinions of mankind had undergone a very great
change since those ceremonies were established; and that some of the most
respectable of the spectators considered as perfectly frivolous many
things which formerly had been held as sacred. A man of good sense may
seem to lay the greatest weight on ceremonies which he himself considers
as ridiculous, provided he thinks the people, in whose sight he goes
through them, are impressed with a conviction of their importance; but if
he knows that some of the beholders are entirely of a different way of
thinking, he will be strongly tempted to evince, by some means or other,
that he despises the fooleries he performs, as much as any of them. This,
in all probability, was the case with Ganganelli; who, besides, was
an enemy to fraud and hypocrisy of every kind. But, however remiss he
may have been with regard to the etiquette of his spiritual functions,
every body acknowledges his diligence and activity in promoting the
temporal good of his subjects. He did all in his power to revive trade,
and to encourage manufactures and industry of every kind. He built no
churches, but he repaired the roads all over the ecclesiastical state;
he restrained the malevolence of bigots, removed absurd prejudices, and
promoted sentiments of charity and good-will to mankind in general,
without excepting even heretics. His enemies, the Jesuits, with an
intention to make him odious in the eyes of his own subjects, gave him
the name of the Protestant Pope. If they supposed that this calumny would
be credited, on account of the conduct above mentioned, they at once
paid the highest compliment to the Pope and the Protestant religion.
The careless manner in which Ganganelli performed certain functions,
and the general tenour of his life and sentiments, were lamented by
politicians, as well as by bigots. However frivolous the former might
think many ceremonies in themselves, they still considered them as of
political importance, in such a government as that of Rome; and the
Conclave held on the death of the late Pope, are thought to have been in
some degree influenced by such considerations in chusing his successor.
The present Pope, before he was raised to that dignity, was considered
as a firm believer in all the tenets of the Roman Church, and a strict
and scrupulous observer of all its injunctions and ceremonials. As his
pretensions, in point of family, fortune, and connexions, were smaller
than those of most of his brother cardinals, it is the more probable that
he owed his elevation to this part of his character, which rendered him
a proper person to check the progress of abuses that had been entirely
neglected by the late Pope; under whose administration free-thinking was
said to have been countenanced, Protestantism in general regarded with
diminished abhorrence, and the Calvinists in particular treated with a
degree of indulgence, to which their inveterate enmity to the church of
Rome gave them no title. Several instances of this are enumerated, and
one in particular, which, I dare say, you will think a stronger proof of
the late Pope’s good sense and good humour, than of that negligence to
which his enemies imputed it.

A Scotch presbyterian having heated his brain, by reading the Book of
Martyrs, the cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition, and the Histories of
all the persecutions that ever were raised by the Roman Catholics against
the Protestants, was seized with a dread, that the same horrors were just
about to be renewed. This terrible idea disturbed his imagination day
and night; he thought of nothing but racks and scaffolds; and, on one
occasion, he dreamt that there was a continued train of bonfires, with a
tar-barrel and a Protestant in each, all the way from Smithfield to St.
Andrews.

He communicated the anxiety and distress of his mind to a worthy sensible
clergyman who lived in the neighbourhood. This gentleman took great pains
to quiet his fears, proving to him, by strong and obvious arguments,
that there was little or no danger of such an event as he dreaded. These
reasonings had a powerful effect while they were delivering, but the
impression did not last, and was always effaced by a few pages of the
Book of Martyrs. As soon as the clergyman remarked this, he advised the
relations to remove that, and every book which treated of persecution
or martyrdom, entirely out of the poor man’s reach. This was done
accordingly, and books of a less gloomy complexion were substituted in
their place; but as all of them formed a strong contrast with the colour
of his mind, he could not bear their perusal, but betook himself to the
study of the Bible, which was the only book of his ancient library which
had been left; and so strong a hold had his former studies taken of
his imagination, that he could relish no part of the Bible, except the
Revelation of St. John, a great part of which, he thought, referred to
the whore of Babylon, or in other words, the Pope of Rome. This part of
the scripture he perused continually with unabating ardor and delight.
His friend the clergyman, having observed this, took occasion to say,
that every part of the Holy Bible was, without doubt, most sublime, and
wonderfully instructive; yet he was surprised to see that he limited his
studies entirely to the last book, and neglected all the rest. To which
the other replied, That _he_ who was a divine, and a man of learning,
might, with propriety, read all the sacred volume from beginning to end;
but, for his own part, he thought proper to confine himself to what he
could understand; and _therefore_, though he had a due respect for all
the scripture, he acknowledged he gave a preference to the Revelation
of St. John. This answer entirely satisfied the clergyman; he did not
think it expedient to question him any farther; he took his leave, after
having requested the people of the family with whom this person lived,
to have a watchful eye on their relation. In the mean time, this poor
man’s terrors, with regard to the revival of popery and persecution,
daily augmented; and nature, in all probability, would have sunk under
the weight of such accumulated anxiety, had not a thought occurred which
relieved his mind in an instant, by suggesting an infallible method of
preventing all the evils which his imagination had been brooding over for
so long a time. The happy idea which afforded him so much comfort, was no
other, than that he should immediately go to Rome, and convert the Pope
from the Roman Catholic to the Presbyterian religion. The moment he hit
on this fortunate expedient, he felt at once the strongest impulse to
undertake the task, and the fullest conviction that his undertaking would
be crowned with success; it is no wonder, therefore, that his countenance
threw off its former gloom, and that all his features brightened with
the heart-felt thrillings of happiness and self-applause. While his
relations congratulated each other on this agreeable change, the exulting
visionary, without communicating his design to any mortal, set out for
London, took his passage to Leghorn, and, in a short time after, arrived
in perfect health of body, and in exalted spirits, at Rome.

He directly applied to an ecclesiastic of his own country, of whose
obliging temper he had previously heard, and whom he considered
as a proper person to procure him an interview necessary for the
accomplishment of his project. He informed that gentleman, that he
earnestly wished to have a conference with the Pope, on a business
of infinite importance, and which admitted of no delay. It was not
difficult to perceive the state of this poor man’s mind; the good-natured
ecclesiastic endeavoured to sooth and amuse him, putting off the
conference till a distant day; in hopes that means might be fallen on,
during the interval, to prevail on him to return to his own country. A
few days after this, however, he happened to go to St. Peter’s church, at
the very time when his Holiness was performing some religious ceremony.
At this sight our impatient missionary felt all his passions inflamed
with irresistible ardour; he could no longer wait for the expected
conference, but bursting out with zealous indignation, he exclaimed,
“O thou beast of nature, with seven heads and ten horns! thou mother
of harlots, arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and
precious stones and pearls! throw away the golden cup of abominations,
and the filthiness of thy fornication!”

You may easily imagine the astonishment and hubbub that such an
apostrophe, from such a person, in such a place, would occasion; he was
immediately carried to prison by the Swiss halberdiers.

When it was known that he was a British subject, some who understood
English were ordered to attend his examination. The first question
asked of him was, “What had brought him to Rome?” He answered, “To
anoint the eyes of the scarlet whore with eye-salve, that she might
see her wickedness.” They asked, “Who he meant by the scarlet whore?”
He answered, “Who else could he mean, but her who sitteth upon seven
mountains, who hath seduced the kings of the earth to commit fornication,
and who hath gotten drunk with the blood of the saints, and the blood of
the martyrs?” Many other questions were asked, and such provoking answers
returned, that some suspected the man affected madness, that he might
give vent to his rancour and petulance with impunity; and they were for
condemning him to the gallies, that he might be taught more sense, and
better manners. But when they communicated their sentiments to Clement
the Fourteenth, he said, with great good humour, “That he never had heard
of any body whose understanding, or politeness, had been much improved at
that school; that although the poor man’s first address had been a little
rough and abrupt, yet he could not help considering himself as obliged to
him for his good intentions, and for his undertaking such a long journey
with a view to do good.” He afterwards gave orders to treat the man with
gentleness while he remained in confinement, and to put him on board the
first ship bound from Civita Vecchia to England, defraying the expence of
his passage. However humane and reasonable this conduct may be thought
by many, there were people who condemned it as an injudicious piece of
lenity, which might have a tendency to sink the dignity of the sacred
office, and expose it to future insults. If such behaviour as this did
not pass without blame, it may be easily supposed, that few of the late
Pope’s actions escaped uncensured; and many who loved the easy amiable
dispositions of the man, were of opinion, that the spirit of the times
required a different character on the Papal throne. This idea prevailed
among the Cardinals at the late election, and the Conclave is supposed
to have fixed on Cardinal Braschi to be Pope, from the same motive that
the Roman senate sometimes chose a Dictator to restore and enforce the
ancient discipline.



LETTER XLVIII.


                                                                    Rome.

Pius the Sixth performs all the religious functions of his office in
the most solemn manner; not only on public and extraordinary occasions,
but also in the most common acts of devotion. I happened lately to be
at St. Peter’s church, when there was scarcely any other body there;
while I lounged from chapel to chapel, looking at the sculpture and
paintings, the Pope entered with a very few attendants; when he came
to the statue of St. Peter, he was not satisfied with bowing, which is
the usual mark of respect shewn to that image; or with kneeling, which
is performed by more zealous persons; or with kissing the foot, which
I formerly imagined concluded the climax of devotion; he bowed, he
knelt, he kissed the foot, and then he rubbed his brow and his whole
head with every mark of humility, fervour, and adoration, upon the
sacred stump.—It is no more, one half of the foot having been long
since worn away by the lips of the pious; and if the example of his
Holiness is universally imitated, nothing but a miracle can prevent
the leg, thigh, and other parts from meeting with the same fate. This
uncommon appearance of zeal in the Pope, is not imputed to hypocrisy
or to policy, but is supposed to proceed entirely from a conviction
of the efficacy of those holy frictions; an opinion which has given
people a much higher idea of the strength of his faith, than of his
understanding. This being jubilee year, he may possibly think a greater
appearance of devotion necessary now, than at any other time. The first
jubilee was instituted by Boniface the Eighth, in the year 1300. Many
ceremonies and institutions of the Roman Catholic church are founded on
those of the old Heathens. This is evidently an imitation of the Roman
secular games, which were exhibited every hundredth year in honour of
the gods[1]; they lasted three days and three nights; they were attended
with great pomp, and drew vast numbers of people to Rome, from all parts
of Italy, and the most distant provinces. Boniface, recollecting this,
determined to institute something analogous, which would immortalize
his own name, and promote the interest of the Roman Catholic religion
in general, and that of the city of Rome in particular. He embraced
the favourable opportunity which the beginning of a century presented;
he invented a few extraordinary ceremonies, and declared the year 1300
the first jubilee year, during which he assured mankind, that heaven
would be in a particular manner propitious, in granting indulgences,
and remission of sins, to all who should come to Rome, and attend the
functions there to be performed, at this fortunate period, which was
not to occur again for a hundred years. This drew a great concourse of
wealthy sinners to Rome; and the extraordinary circulation of money it
occasioned, was strongly felt all over the Pope’s dominions. Clement the
Sixth, regretting that these advantages should occur so seldom, abridged
the period, and declared there would be a jubilee every fifty years; the
second was accordingly celebrated in the year 1350. Sixtus the Fifth,
imagining that the interval was still too long, once more retrenched the
half; and ever since there has been a jubilee every twenty-fifth year[2].
It is not likely that any future Pope will think of shortening this
period; if any alteration were again to take place, it most probably
would be, to restore the ancient period of fifty or a hundred years;
for, instead of the wealthy pilgrims who flocked to Rome from every
quarter of Christendom, ninety-nine in a hundred of those who come now,
are supported by alms during their journey, or are barely able to defray
their own expences by the strictest œconomy; and his Holiness is supposed
at present to derive no other advantage from the uncommon fatigue he is
obliged to go through on the jubilee year, except the satisfaction he
feels, in reflecting on the benefit his labours confer on the souls of
the beggars, and other travellers, who resort from all corners of Italy
to Rome, on this blessed occasion. The States which border on the Pope’s
dominions, suffer many temporal inconveniencies from the zeal of the
peasants and manufacturers, the greater part of whom still make a point
of visiting St. Peter’s on the jubilee year; the loss sustained by the
countries which such emigrants abandon, is not balanced by any advantage
transferred to that to which they resort; the good arising on the whole,
being entirely of a spiritual nature. By far the greater number of
pilgrims come from the kingdom of Naples, whose inhabitants are said
to be of a very devout and very amorous disposition. The first prompts
them to go to Rome in search of that absolution which the second renders
necessary; and on the year of jubilee, when indulgences are to be had at
an easier rate than at any other time, those who can afford it generally
carry away such a stock, as not only is sufficient to clear old scores,
but will also serve as an indemnifying fund for future transgressions.

There is one door into the church of St. Peter’s, which is called the
Holy Door. This is always walled up, except on this distinguished year;
and even then no person is permitted to enter by it, but in the humblest
posture. The pilgrims, and many others, prefer crawling into the church
upon their knees, by this door; to walking in, the usual way, by any
other. I was present at the shutting up of this Holy Door. The Pope being
seated on a raised seat, or kind of throne, surrounded by Cardinals and
other ecclesiastics, an anthem was sung, accompanied by all sorts of
musical instruments. During the performance, his Holiness descended from
the throne, with a golden trowel in his hand, placed the first brick,
and applied some mortar; he then returned to his seat, and the door
was instantly built up by more expert, though less hallowed, workmen;
and will remain as it is now, till the beginning of the nineteenth
century, when it will be again opened, by the Pope then in being, with
the same solemnity that it has been now shut. Though his Holiness places
but a single brick, yet it is very remarkable that this never fails to
communicate its influence, in such a rapid and powerful manner, that,
within about an hour, or at most an hour and a half, all the other
bricks, which form the wall of the Holy Door, acquire an equal degree of
sanctity with that placed by the Pope’s own hands. The common people and
pilgrims are well acquainted with this wonderful effect. At the beginning
of this Jubilee-year, when the late wall was thrown down, men, women,
and children scrambled and fought for the fragments of the bricks and
mortar, with the same eagerness which less enlightened mobs display, on
days of public rejoicing, when handfuls of money are thrown among them.
I have been often assured that those pieces of brick, besides their
sanctity, have also the virtue of curing many of the most obstinate
diseases: and, if newspapers were permitted at Rome, there is not the
least reason to doubt, that those cures would be attested publicly by the
patients, in a manner as satisfactory and convincing as are the cures
performed daily by the pills, powders, drops, and balsams advertised in
the London newspapers. After the shutting of the Holy Door, mass was
celebrated at midnight; and the ceremony was attended by vast multitudes
of people. For my own part, I suspended my curiosity till next day, which
was Christmas-day, when I returned again to St. Peter’s church, and saw
the Pope perform mass on that solemn occasion. His Holiness went through
all the evolutions of the ceremony with an address and flexibility of
body, which are rarely to be found in those who wear the tiara; who are,
generally speaking, men bowing under the load of years and infirmities.
His present Holiness has hitherto suffered from neither. His features
are regular, and he has a fine countenance; his person is straight, and
his movements graceful. His leg and foot are remarkably well made, and
always ornamented with silk stockings, and red slippers, of the most
delicate construction. Notwithstanding that the papal uniforms are by no
means calculated to set off the person to the greatest advantage, yet the
peculiar neatness with which they are put on, and the nice adjustment of
their most minute parts, sufficiently prove that his present Holiness is
not insensible of the charms of his person, or unsolicitous about his
external ornaments. Though verging towards the winter of life, his cheeks
still glow with autumnal roses, which, at a little distance, appear as
blooming as those of the spring. If he himself were less clear-sighted
than he seems to be, to the beauties of his face and person, he could
not also be deaf to the voices of the women, who break out into
exclamations, in praise of both, as often as he appears in public.
On a public occasion, lately, as he was carried through a particular
street, a young woman at a window exclaimed, “Quanto e bello! O quanto e
bello!” and was immediately answered by a zealous old lady at the window
opposite, who, folding her hands in each other, and raising her eyes to
heaven, cried out, with a mixture of love for his person, and veneration
for his sacred office, “Tanto e bello, quanto e santo!” When we know that
such a quantity of incense is daily burnt under his sacred nostrils, we
ought not to be astonished, though we should find his brain, on some
occasions, a little intoxicated.

Vanity is a very comfortable failing; and has such an universal power
over mankind, that not only the gay blossoms of youth, but even the
shrivelled bosom of age, and the contracted heart of bigotry, open,
expand, and display strong marks of sensibility under its influence.

After mass, the Pope gave the benediction to the people assembled in the
Grand Court, before the church of St. Peter’s. It was a remarkably fine
day; an immense multitude filled that spacious and magnificent area; the
horse and foot guards were drawn up in their most showy uniform. The
Pope, seated in an open, portable chair, in all the splendour which his
wardrobe could give, with the tiara on his head, was carried out of a
large window, which opens on a balcony in the front of St. Peter’s. The
silk hangings and gold trappings with which the chair was embellished,
concealed the men who carried it; so that to those who viewed him from
the area below, his Holiness seemed to sail forward, from the window
self-balanced in the air, like a celestial being. The instant he
appeared, the music struck up, the bells rung from every church, and the
cannon thundered from the castle of St. Angelo in repeated peals. During
the intervals, the church of St. Peter’s, the palace of the Vatican,
and the banks of the Tiber, re-echoed the acclamations of the populace.
At length his Holiness arose from his seat, and an immediate and awful
silence ensued. The multitude fell upon their knees, with their hands and
eyes raised towards his Holiness, as to a benign Deity. After a solemn
pause, he pronounced the benediction, with great fervour; elevating his
outstretched arms as high as he could; then closing them together, and
bringing them back to his breast with a slow motion, as if he had got
hold of the blessing, and was drawing it gently from heaven. Finally, he
threw his arms open, waving them for some time, as if his intention had
been to scatter the benediction with impartiality among the people.

No ceremony can be better calculated for striking the senses, and
imposing on the understanding, than this of the Supreme Pontiff giving
the blessing from the balcony of St. Peter’s. For my own part, if I had
not, in my early youth, received impressions highly unfavourable to the
chief actor in this magnificent interlude, I should have been in danger
of paying him a degree of respect, very inconsistent with the religion in
which I was educated.

    [1] The Carmen Seculare of Horace was composed on occasion of
    those celebrated by Augustus in the year of Rome 736.

    [2] To this last abridgement I am indebted for having seen the
    ceremonies and processions on the termination of this sacred
    year.



LETTER XLIX.


                                                                    Rome.

In my last, I informed you of my having been seduced almost into
idolatry, by the influence of example, and the pomp which surrounded the
idol. I must now confess that I have actually bowed the knee to Baal,
from mere wantonness. We are told that, to draw near to that Being,
who ought to be the only object of worship, with our lips, while our
hearts are far from him, is a mockery. Such daring and absurd hypocrisy
I shall always avoid: but to have drawn near to _him_, who ought not to
be an object of worship, with the lips only, while the heart continued
at a distance, I hope will be considered as no more than a venial
transgression. In short, I trust, that it will not be looked on as a
mortal sin in Protestants to have kissed the Pope’s toe. If it should,
some of your friends are in a deplorable way, as you shall hear.—It is
usual for strangers to be presented to his Holiness, before they leave
Rome. The D—— of H——, Mr. K——, and myself, have all been at the Vatican
together, upon that important business. Your young acquaintance Jack,
who, having now got a commission in the army, considers himself no longer
as a boy, desired to accompany us. We went under the auspices of a
certain ecclesiastic, who usually attends the English on such occasions.

He very naturally concluded, that it would be most agreeable to us to
have the circumstance of kissing the slipper dispensed with. Having had
some conversation, therefore, with his Holiness, in his own apartment,
while we remained in another room, previous to our introduction; he
afterwards returned, and informed us, that the Pontiff, indulgent to the
prejudices of the British nation, did not insist on that part of the
ceremonial; and therefore a very low bow, on our being presented, was all
that would be required of us.

A bow! cried the D—— of H——; I should not have given myself any trouble
about the matter, had I suspected that all was to end in a bow. I look on
kissing the toe as the only amusing circumstance of the whole; if that is
to be omitted, I will not be introduced at all. For if the most ludicrous
part is left out, who would wait for the rest of a farce?

This was a thunderstroke to our negociator, who expected thanks, at
least, for the honourable terms he had obtained; but who, on the
contrary, found himself in the same disagreeable predicament with other
negociators, who have met with abuse and reproach from their countrymen,
on account of treaties for which they expected universal applause.

The D—— of H—— knew nothing of the treaty which our introducer had just
concluded; otherwise he would certainly have prevented the negociation.
As I perceived, however, that our ambassador was mortified with the
thoughts that all his labour should prove abortive, I said, that,
although he had prevailed with his Holiness to wave that part of the
ceremonial, which his Grace thought so entertaining, yet it would
unquestionably be still more agreeable to him that the whole should be
performed to its utmost extent: this new arrangement, therefore, needed
not be an obstruction to our being presented.

The countenance of our Conductor brightened up at this proposal. He
immediately ushered us into the presence of the Supreme Pontiff. We all
bowed to the ground; the supplest of the company had the happiness to
touch the sacred slipper with their lips, and the least agile were within
a few inches of that honour. As this was more than had been bargained
for, his Holiness seemed agreeably surprised; raised the D—— with a
smiling countenance, and conversed with him in an obliging manner, asking
the common questions, How long he had been in Italy? Whether he found
Rome agreeable? When he intended to set out for Naples?—He said something
of the same kind to each of the company; and, after about a quarter of an
hour or twenty minutes, we took our leave.

Next day, his Holiness sent his compliments to the D——, with a present of
two medals, one of gold, and the other of silver; on both of which the
head of the Pontiff is very accurately engraved.

The manner in which the generality of sovereign princes pass their time,
is as far from being amusing or agreeable, as one can possibly imagine.
Slaves to the tiresome routine of etiquette; martyrs to the oppressive
fatigue of pomp; constrained to walk every levee-day around the same dull
circle, to gratify the vanity of fifty or a hundred people, by whispering
a something or a nothing into the ears of each; obliged to wear a smiling
countenance, even when the heart is oppressed with sadness; besieged by
the craving faces of those, who are more displeased at what is withheld,
than grateful for the favours they have received; surrounded, as he
constantly is, by adepts in the art of simulation, all professing the
highest possible regard; how shall the puzzled monarch distinguish real
from assumed attachment? and what a risk does he run, of placing his
confidence where he ought to have directed his indignation! And, to
all these inconveniencies, when we add this, that he is precluded from
those delightful sensations which spring from disinterested friendship,
sweet equality, and the gay, careless enjoyments of social life, we must
acknowledge, that all that is brilliant in the condition of a sovereign,
is not sufficient to compensate for such restraints, such dangers, and
such deprivations.

So far indeed are we from considering that envied condition as enviable,
that great part of mankind are more apt to think it insupportable; and
are surprised to find, that those unhappy men, whom fate has condemned
to suffer the pains of royalty for life, are able to wait with patience
for the natural period of their days. For, strange as it may appear,
history does not furnish us with an instance, not even in Great Britain
itself, of a king, who hanged, or drowned, or put himself to death in any
other violent manner, from mere tædium, as other mortals, disgusted with
life, are apt to do. I was at a loss to account for such an extraordinary
fact, till I recollected that, however void of resources and activity the
minds of monarchs may be, they are seldom allowed to rest in repose. The
storms to which people in their lofty situation are exposed, occasion
such agitations as prevent the stagnating slime of tædium from gathering
on their minds. That kings do not commit suicide, therefore, affords
only a very slender presumption of the happiness of their condition:
although it is a strong proof, that all the hurricanes of life are not
so insupportable to the human mind, as that insipid, fearless, hopeless
calm, which envelopes men who are devoid of mental enjoyments, and whose
senses are palled with satiety. If there is any truth in the above
representation of the regal condition, would not you imagine that of all
others it would be the most shunned? Would not you imagine that every
human being would shrink from it, as from certain misery; and that at
least every wise man would say, with the Poet,

    I envy none their pageantry and show,
    I envy none the gilding of their woe?

Not only every wise man, but every foolish man, will adopt the sentiment,
and act accordingly; provided his rank in life removes him from the
possibility of ever attaining the objects in question. For what is
situated beyond the sphere of our hopes, very seldom excites our desires;
but bring the powerful magnets a little nearer, and they attract the
human passions with a force which reason and philosophy cannot controul.
Placed within their reach, the wise and the foolish grasp with equal
eagerness at crowns and sceptres, in spite of all the thorns with which
they are surrounded. Their alluring magic seems to have the power of
changing the very characters and natures of men. In pursuit of them, the
indolent have been excited to the most active exertions, the voluptuous
have renounced their darling pleasures; and even those who have long
walked in the direct road of integrity, have deviated into all the
crooked paths of villany and fraud.

There are passions, whose indulgence is so exceedingly flattering to the
natural vanity of men, that they will gratify them, though persuaded that
the gratification will be attended by disappointment and misery. The love
of power and sovereignty is of this class. It has been a general belief,
ever since the kingly office was established among men, that cares
and anxiety were the constant attendants of royalty. Yet this general
conviction never made a single person decline an opportunity of embarking
on this sea of troubles. Every new adventurer flatters himself that he
shall be guided by some happy star undiscovered by former navigators; and
those who, after trial, have relinquished the voyage—Charles, Christina,
Amadeus, and others—when they had quitted the helm, and were safely
arrived in port, are said to have languished, all the rest of their
lives, for that situation which their own experience taught them was
fraught with misery.

Henry the Fourth of England did not arrive at the throne by the natural
and direct road. Shakespear puts the following Address to Sleep, into the
mouth of this monarch:

        ——O Sleep! O gentle Sleep!
    Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
    That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
    And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
    Why rather, Sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
    Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
    And hush’d with busy night-flies to thy slumber;
    Than in the perfum’d chambers of the Great,
    Under the canopies of costly state
    And lull’d with sounds of sweetest melody?
    O thou dull God! why ly’st thou with the vile
    In loathsome beds; and leav’st the kingly couch?
    A watch-case, or a common ’larum bell?
    Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
    Seal up the ship-boy’s eyes, and rock his brains
    In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
    And in the visitation of the winds,——
    Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
    Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
    With deaf’ning clamours in the slipp’ry shrouds,——
    Canst thou, O partial Sleep! give thy repose
    To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
    And, in the calmest and most stillest night,
    With all appliances and means to boot,
    Deny it to a King?——

However eager and impatient this Prince may have formerly been to obtain
the crown, you would conclude that he was quite cloyed by possession at
the time he made this speech; and therefore, at first sight, you would
not expect that he should afterwards display any excessive attachment to
what gives him so much uneasiness. But Shakespear, who knew the secret
wishes, perverse desires, and strange inconsistencies of the human heart,
better than man ever knew them, makes this very Henry so tenaciously fond
of that which he himself considered as the cause of all his inquietude,
that he cannot bear to have the crown one moment out of his sight, but
orders it to be placed on his pillow when he lies on his death-bed.

Of all diadems, the Tiara, in my opinion, has the fewest charms; and
nothing can afford a stronger proof of the strength and perseverance of
man’s passion for sovereign power, than our knowledge, that even this
ecclesiastical crown is sought after with as much eagerness, perhaps
with more, than any other crown in the world, although the candidates
are generally in the decline of life, and all of a profession which
avows the most perfect contempt of worldly grandeur. This appears the
more wonderful when we reflect, that, over and above those sources
of weariness and vexation, which the Pope has in common with other
sovereigns, he has some which are peculiar to himself.—The tiresome
religious functions which he must perform, the ungenial solitude of
his meals, the exclusion of the company and conversation of women,
restriction from the tenderest and most delightful connexions in life,
from the endearments of a parent, and the _open acknowledgment_ of his
own children; his mind oppressed with the gloomy reflection, that the
man for whom he has the least regard, perhaps his greatest enemy, may
be his immediate successor; to which is added, the pain of seeing his
influence, both spiritual and temporal, declining every day; and the
mortification of knowing, that all his ancient lofty pretensions are
laughed at by one half of the Roman Catholics, all the Protestants, and
totally disregarded by the rest of mankind. I know of nothing which can
be put in the other scale to balance all those peculiar disadvantages
which his Holiness labours under, unless it is the singular felicity
which he lawfully may, and no doubt does enjoy, in the contemplation of
his own infallibility.



LETTER L.


                                                                    Rome.

In their external deportment, the Italians have a grave solemnity of
manner, which is sometimes thought to arise from a natural gloominess of
disposition. The French, above all other nations, are apt to impute to
melancholy, the sedate serious air which accompanies reflection.

Though in the pulpit, on the theatre, and even in common conversation,
the Italians make use of a great deal of action; yet Italian vivacity is
different from French; the former proceeds from sensibility, the latter
from animal spirits.

The inhabitants of this country have not the brisk look, and elastic
trip, which is universal in France; they move rather with a flow
composed pace: their spines never having been forced into a straight
line, retain the natural bend; and the people of the most finished
fashion, as well as the neglected vulgar, seem to prefer the
unconstrained attitude of the Antinous, and other antique statues, to
the artificial graces of a French dancing-master, or the erect strut of
a German soldier. I imagine I perceive a great resemblance between many
of the living countenances I see daily, and the features of the ancient
busts and statues; which leads me to believe, that there are a greater
number of the genuine descendants of the old Romans in Italy, than is
generally imagined.

I am often struck with the fine character of countenance to be seen in
the streets of Rome. I never saw features more expressive of reflection,
sense, and genius; in the very lowest ranks there are countenances which
announce minds fit for the highest and most important situations; and we
cannot help regretting, that those to whom they belong, have not received
an education adequate to the natural abilities we are convinced they
possess, and placed where these abilities could be brought into action.

Of all the countries in Europe, Switzerland is that in which the
beauties of nature appear in the greatest variety of forms, and on the
most magnificent scale; in that country, therefore, the young landscape
painter has the best chance of seizing the most sublime ideas: but Italy
is the best school for the history painter, not only on account of its
being enriched with the works of the greatest masters, and the noblest
models of antique sculpture; but also on account of the fine expressive
style of the Italian countenance. Here you have few or none of those
fair, fat, glistening, unmeaning faces, so common in the more northern
parts of Europe. I happened once to sit by a foreigner of my acquaintance
at the Opera in the Hay-market, when a certain Nobleman, who at that time
was a good deal talked of, entered. I whispered him—“That is Lord ——.”
“Not surely the famous Lord ——,” said he. “Yes,” said I, “the very same.”
“It must be acknowledged then,” continued he, “that the noble Earl does
infinite honour to those who have had the care of his education.” “How
so?” rejoined I. “Because,” replied the foreigner, “a countenance so
completely vacant, strongly indicates a deficiency of natural abilities;
the respectable figure he makes in the senate, I therefore presume must
be entirely owing to instruction.”

Strangers, on their arrival at Rome, form no high idea of the beauty
of the Roman women, from the specimens they see in the fashionable
circles to which they are first introduced. There are some exceptions;
but in general it must be acknowledged, that the present race of women
of high rank, are more distinguished by their other ornaments, than by
their beauty. Among the citizens, however, and in the lower classes, you
frequently meet with the most beautiful countenances. For a brilliant red
and white, and all the charms of complexion, no women are equal to the
English. If a hundred, or any greater number, of English women were taken
at random, and compared with the same number of the wives and daughters
of the citizens of Rome, I am convinced, that ninety of the English would
be found handsomer than ninety of the Romans; but the probability is,
that two or three in the hundred Italians, would have finer countenances
than any of the English. English beauty is more remarkable in the
country, than in towns; the peasantry of no country in Europe can stand a
comparison, in point of looks, with those of England. That race of people
have the conveniencies of life in no other country in such perfection;
they are no where so well fed, so well defended from the injuries of the
seasons; and no where else do they keep themselves so perfectly clean,
and free from all the vilifying effects of dirt. The English country
girls, taken collectively, are, unquestionably, the handsomest in the
world. The female peasants of most other countries, indeed, are so hard
worked, so ill fed, so much tanned by the sun, and so dirty, that it is
difficult to know whether they have any beauty or not. Yet I have been
informed, by some Amateurs, since I came here, that, in spite of all
these disadvantages, they sometimes find, among the Italian peasantry,
countenances highly interesting, and which they prefer to all the cherry
cheeks of Lancashire.

Beauty, doubtless, is infinitely varied; and happily for mankind, their
tastes and opinions, on the subject, are equally various. Notwithstanding
this variety, however, a style of face, in some measure peculiar to its
own inhabitants, has been found to prevail in each different nation of
Europe. This peculiar countenance is again greatly varied, and marked
with every degree of discrimination between the extremes of beauty and
ugliness. I will give you a sketch of the general style of the most
beautiful female heads in this country, from which you may judge whether
they are to your taste or not.

A great profusion of dark hair, which seems to encroach upon the
forehead, rendering it short and narrow; the nose generally either
aquiline, or continued in a straight line from the lower part of the
brow; a full and short upper lip; by the way, nothing has a worse effect
on a countenance, than a large interval between the nose and mouth; the
eyes are large, and of a sparkling black. The black eye certainly labours
under one disadvantage, which is, that, from the iris and pupil being
of the same colour, the contraction and dilatation of the latter is not
seen, by which the eye is abridged of half its powers. Yet the Italian
eye is wonderfully expressive; some people think it says too much. The
complexion, for the most part, is of a clear brown, sometimes fair, but
very seldom florid, or of that bright fairness which is common in England
and Saxony. It must be owned, that those features which have a fine
expression of sentiment and meaning in youth, are more apt, than less
expressive faces, to become soon strong and masculine. In England and
Germany, the women, a little advanced in life, retain the appearance of
youth longer than in Italy.

With countenances so favourable for the pencil, you will naturally
imagine, that portrait painting is in the highest perfection here. The
reverse, however, of this is true; that branch of the art is in the
lowest estimation all over Italy. In palaces, the best furnished with
pictures, you seldom see a portrait of the proprietor, or any of his
family. A quarter length of the reigning Pope is sometimes the only
portrait, of a living person, to be seen in the whole palace. Several of
the Roman Princes affect to have a room of state, or audience chamber,
in which is a raised seat like a throne, with a canopy over it. In those
rooms the effigies of the Pontiffs are hung; they are the work of very
inferior artists, and seldom cost above three or four sequins. As soon as
his Holiness departs this life, the portrait disappears, and the face of
his successor is in due time hung up in its stead. This, you will say,
is treating their old sovereign a little unkindly, and paying no very
expensive compliment to the new; it is not so œconomical, however, as
what was practised by a certain person. I shall not inform you whether
he was a Frenchman or an Englishman, but he certainly was a courtier,
and professed the highest possible regard for all living monarchs; but
considered them as no better than any other piece of clay when dead. He
had a full length picture of his own Sovereign in the principal room
of his house; on his majesty’s death, to save himself the expence of a
fresh body, and a new suit of ermine, he employed a painter to brush out
the face and periwig, and clap the new King’s head on his grandfather’s
shoulders; which, he declared, were in the most perfect preservation,
and fully able to wear out three or four such heads as painters usually
give in these degenerate days.

The Italians, in general, very seldom take the trouble of sitting
for their pictures. They consider a portrait as a piece of painting,
which engages the admiration of nobody but the person it represents,
or the painter who drew it. Those who are in circumstances to pay the
best artists, generally employ them in some subject more universally
interesting, than the representation of human countenances staring out of
a piece of canvas.

Pompeio Battoni is the best Italian painter now at Rome. His taste and
genius led him to history painting, and his reputation was originally
acquired in that line; but by far the greater part of his fortune,
whatever that may be, has flowed through a different channel. His chief
employment, for many years past, has been painting the portraits of the
young English, and other strangers of fortune, who visit Rome. There are
artists in England, superior in this, and every other branch of painting,
to Battoni. They, like him, are seduced from the free walks of genius,
and chained, by interest, to the servile drudgery of copying faces.
Beauty is worthy of the most delicate pencil; but, gracious heaven! why
should every periwig-pated fellow, without countenance or character,
insist on seeing his chubby cheeks on canvas?

“Could you not give a little expression to that countenance?” said a
gentleman to an eminent English painter, who showed him a portrait which
he had just finished. “I made that attempt already,” replied the painter;
“but what the picture gained in expression, it lost in likeness; and by
the time there was a little common sense in the countenance, nobody knew
for whom it was intended. I was obliged, therefore, to make an entire new
picture, with the face perfectly like, and perfectly meaningless, as you
see it.”

Let the colours for ever remain, which record the last fainting efforts
of Chatham; the expiring triumph of Wolf; or the indecision of Garrick,
equally allured by the two contending Muses! But let them perish and
fly from the canvas, which blind self-love spreads for insipidity and
ugliness! Why should posterity know, that the first genius of the age,
and those whose pencils were formed to speak to the heart, and delineate
beauteous Nature, were chiefly employed in copying faces? and many of
them, faces that imitate humanity so abominably, that, to use Hamlet’s
expression, they seem not the genuine work of Nature, but of Nature’s
journeymen.

To this ridiculous self-love, equally prevalent among the great vulgar
and small, some of the best painters in France, Germany, and Great
Britain, are obliged for their subsistence. This creates a suspicion,
that a taste for the real beauties of painting, is not quite so
universal, as a sensibility to their own personal beauties, among the
individuals of these countries. And nothing can be a stronger proof of
the important light in which men appear in their own eyes, and their
small importance in those of others, than the different treatment which
the generality of portraits receive, during the life, and after the
death, of their constituents. During the first of these periods, they
inhabit the finest apartments of the houses to which they belong; they
are flattered by the guests, and always viewed with an eye of complacency
by the landlord. But, after the commencement of the second, they begin to
be neglected; in a short time are ignominiously thrust up to the garret;
and, to fill up the measure of their affliction, they finally are thrown
out of doors, in the most barbarous manner, without distinction of rank,
age, or sex. Those of former times are scattered, like Jews, with their
long beards and brown complexions, all over the face of the earth; and,
even of the present century, Barons of the most ancient families, armed
cap-a-pee, are to be purchased for two or three ducats, in most of the
towns of Germany. French Marquises, in full suits of embroidered velvet,
may be had at Paris still cheaper; and many worshipful citizens of London
are to be seen dangling on the walls of an auction-room, when they are
scarce cold in their graves.



LETTER LI.


                                                                    Rome.

There are no theatrical entertainments permitted in this city, except
during the Carnival; but they are then attended with a degree of ardour
unknown in capitals whose inhabitants are under no such restraint. Every
kind of amusement, indeed, in this gay season, is followed with the
greatest eagerness. The natural gravity of the Roman citizens is changed
into a mirthful vivacity; and the serious, sombre city of Rome exceeds
Paris itself in sprightliness and gaiety. This spirit seems gradually
to augment, from its commencement; and is at its height in the last
week of the six which comprehend the Carnival. The citizens then appear
in the streets, masked, in the characters of Harlequins, Pantaloons,
Punchinellos, and all the fantastic variety of a masquerade. This humour
spreads to men, women, and children; descends to the lowest ranks, and
becomes universal. Even those who put on no mask, and have no desire to
remain unknown, reject their usual clothes, and assume some whimsical
dress. The coachmen, who are placed in a more conspicuous point of view
than others of the same rank in life, and who are perfectly known by the
carriages they drive, generally affect some ridiculous disguise: Many of
them chuse a woman’s dress, and have their faces painted, and adorned
with patches. However dull these fellows may be, when in breeches, they
are, in petticoats, considered as the pleasantest men in the world; and
excite much laughter in every street in which they appear. I observed to
an Italian of my acquaintance, that, considering the staleness of the
joke, I was surprised at the mirth it seemed to raise. “When a whole
city,” answered he, “are resolved to be merry for a week together, it
is exceedingly convenient to have a few established jokes ready made;
the young laugh at the novelty, and the old from prescription. This
metamorphosis of the coachmen is certainly not the most refined kind of
wit; however, it is more harmless than the burning of heretics, which
formerly was a great source of amusement to our populace.”

The street, called the Corso, is the great scene of these masquerades. It
is crowded every night with people of all conditions: Those of rank come
in coaches, or in open carriages, made on purpose. A kind of civil war
is carried on by the company, as they pass each other. The greatest mark
of attention you can shew your friends and acquaintance, is, to throw a
handful of little white balls, resembling sugar-plums, full in their
faces; and, if they are not deficient in politeness, they will instantly
return you the compliment. All who wish to make a figure in the Corso,
come well supplied in this kind of ammunition.

Sometimes two or three open carriages, on a side, with five or six
persons of both sexes in each, draw up opposite to each other, and fight
a pitched battle. On these occasions, the combatants are provided with
whole bags full of the small shot above mentioned, which they throw at
each other, with much apparent fury, till their ammunition is exhausted,
and the field of battle is as white as snow.

The peculiar dresses of every nation of the globe, and of every
profession, besides all the fantastic characters usual at masquerades,
are to be seen on the Corso. Those of Harlequin and Pantaloon are in
great vogue among the men. The citizens wives and daughters generally
affect the pomp of women of quality; while their brothers, or other
relations, appear as train-bearers and attendants. In general, they seem
to delight in characters the most remote from their own. Young people
assume the long beard, tottering step, and other concomitants of old age;
the aged chuse the bib and rattle of childhood; and the women of quality,
and women of the town, appear in the characters of country maidens, nuns,
and vestal virgins. All endeavour to support the assumed characters, to
the best of their ability; but none, in my opinion, succeed so well as
those who represent children.

Towards the dusk of the evening, the horse-race takes place. As soon as
this is announced, the coaches, cabriolets, triumphal cars, and carriages
of every kind, are drawn up, and line the street; leaving a space in the
middle for the racers to pass. These are five or six horses, trained on
purpose for this diversion; they are drawn up a-breast in the Piazza del
Popolo, exactly where the Corso begins. Certain balls, with little sharp
spikes, are hung along their sides, which serve to spur them on. As soon
as they begin to run, those animals, by their impatience to be gone, shew
that they understand what is required of them, and that they take as much
pleasure as the spectators in the sport. A broad piece of canvas, spread
across the entrance of the street, prevents them from starting too soon:
the dropping that canvas is the signal for the race to begin. The horses
fly off together, and, without riders, exert themselves to the utmost;
impelled by emulation, the shouts of the populace, and the spurs above
mentioned. They run the whole length of the Corso; and the proprietor of
the victor is rewarded by a certain quantity of fine scarlet or purple
cloth, which is always furnished by the Jews.

This diversion, such as it is, seems highly entertaining to the Roman
populace; though it appears a mighty foolish business in the eyes of
Englishmen. An acquaintance of mine, who had entirely ruined a fine
fortune at Newmarket, told me, that Italian horse-races were the most
absurd things in the world; that there were not a hundred guineas lost
or won during a whole Carnival; and nothing could be a greater proof of
the folly of the people, than their spending their time in such a silly
manner.

Masking and horse-races are confined to the last eight days; but there
are theatrical entertainments, of various kinds, during the whole six
weeks of the Carnival. The Serious Opera is most frequented by people
of fashion, who generally take boxes for the whole season. The opera,
with which this theatre opened, was received with the highest applause,
though the music only was new. The Italians do not think it always
necessary to compose new words for what is called a new opera; they
often satisfy themselves with new music to the affecting dramas of
Metastasio. The audience here seem to lend a more profound and continued
attention to the music, than at Venice. This is probably owing to the
entertainment being a greater rarity in the one city than in the other;
for I could perceive that the people of fashion, who came every night,
began, after the opera had been repeated several nights, to abate in
their attention, to receive visitors in their boxes, and to listen only
when some favourite airs were singing: whereas the audience in the pit
uniformly preserve the most perfect silence, which is only interrupted
by gentle murmurs of pleasure from a few individuals, or an universal
burst of applause from the whole assembly. I never saw such genuine marks
of satisfaction displayed by any assembly, on any occasion whatever.
The sensibility of some of the audience gave me an idea of the power of
sounds, which the dulness of my own auditory nerves could never have
conveyed to my mind. At certain airs, silent enjoyment was expressed in
every countenance; at others, the hands were clasped together, the eyes
half shut, and the breath drawn in, with a prolonged sigh, as if the soul
was expiring in a torrent of delight. One young woman, in the pit, called
out, “O Dio, dove sono! che piacer via caccia l’alma?”

On the first night of the opera, after one of these favourite airs,
an universal shout of applause took place, intermingled with demands
that the composer of the music should appear. Il Maestro! il Maestro!
resounded from every corner of the house. He was present, and led
the band of music; he was obliged to stand upon the bench, where he
continued, bowing to the spectators, till they were tired of applauding
him. One person, in the middle of the pit, whom I had remarked displaying
great signs of satisfaction from the beginning of the performance, cried
out, “He deserves to be made chief musician to the Virgin, and to lead
a choir of angels!” This expression would be thought strong, in any
country; but it has peculiar energy here, where it is a popular opinion,
that the Virgin Mary is very fond, and an excellent judge, of music. I
received this information on Christmas morning, when I was looking at two
poor Calabrian pipers doing their utmost to please her, and the Infant in
her arms. They played for a full hour to one of her images which stands
at the corner of a street. All the other statues of the Virgin, which are
placed in the streets, are serenaded in the same manner every Christmas
morning. On my enquiring into the meaning of that ceremony, I was told
the above-mentioned circumstance of her character, which, though you
may have always thought highly probable, perhaps you never before knew
for certain. My informer was a pilgrim, who stood listening with great
devotion to the pipers. He told me, at the same time, that the Virgin’s
taste was too refined to have much satisfaction in the performance of
those poor Calabrians, which was chiefly intended for the Infant; and
he desired me to remark, that the tunes were plain, simple, and such as
might naturally be supposed agreeable to the ear of a child of his time
of life.

Though the serious opera is in highest estimation, and more regularly
attended by people of the first fashion; yet the opera buffas, or
burlettas, are not entirely neglected, even by them, and are crowded,
every night, by the middle and lower classes. Some admired singers have
performed there during the Carnival, and the musical composers have
rendered them highly pleasing to the general taste.

The serious and burlesque operas prevail infinitely over the other
theatrical entertainments at Rome, in spite of the united efforts of
Harlequin, Pantaloon, and Punchinello.

The prohibition of female performers renders the amusement of the Roman
theatre very insipid, in the opinion of some unrefined Englishmen of your
acquaintance who are here. In my own poor opinion, the natural sweetness
of the female voice is ill supplied by the artificial trills of wretched
castratos; and the aukward agility of robust sinewy fellows dressed in
women’s clothes, is a most deplorable substitution for the graceful
movements of elegant female dancers. Is not the horrid practice which
is encouraged by this manner of supplying the place of female singers,
a greater outrage on religion and morality, than can be produced by the
evils which their prohibition is intended to prevent? Is it possible to
believe, that purity of sentiment will be preserved by producing eunuchs
on the stage? I should fear it would have a different effect. At the
funeral of Junia, the wife of Cassius, and sister of Brutus, the statues
of all the great persons connected with her family by blood or alliance,
were carried in procession, except those of her brother and husband. This
_deficiency_ struck the people more than any part of the procession, and
brought the two illustrious Romans into their minds with more force than
if their statues had been carried with the others.—Præfulgebant Cassius
atque Brutus, says Tacitus, eo ipso, quod effigies eorum non visebantur.



LETTER LII.


                                                                  Naples.

I take the first opportunity of informing you of our arrival in this
city. Some of the principal objects which occurred on the road, with the
sentiments they suggested to my mind, shall form the subject of this
letter.

It is almost impossible to go out of the walls of Rome, without being
impressed with melancholic ideas. Having left that city by St. John
de Lateran’s gate, we soon entered a spacious plain, and drove for
several miles in sight of sepulchral monuments and the ruins of ancient
aqueducts. Sixtus the Fifth repaired one of them, to bring water into
that part of Rome where Dioclesian’s baths formerly stood: this water is
now called _aqua felice_, from Felix, the name of that pontiff, while he
was only a Cordelier. Having changed horses at the Torre de Mezzo Via,
so called from an old tower near the post-house, we proceeded through a
silent, deserted, unwholesome country. We scarce met a passenger between
Rome and Marino, a little town about twelve miles from the former, which
has its name from Caius Marius, who had a villa there; it now belongs to
the Colonna family. While fresh horses were harnessing, we visited two
churches, to see two pictures which we had heard commended; the subject
of one is as disagreeable, as that of the other is difficult to execute.
The connoisseur who directed us to these pieces, told me, that the first,
the slaying of St. Bartholomew, by Guercino, is in a great style, finely
coloured, and the muscles convulsed with pain in the sweetest manner
imaginable; he could have gazed at it for ever. “As for the other,”
added he “which represents the Trinity, it is natural, well grouped, and
easily understood; and that is all that can be said for it.”

From Marino, the road runs for several miles over craggy mountains. In
ascending Mons Albanus, we were charmed with a fine view of the country
towards the sea; Ostia, Antium, the lake Albano, and the fields adjacent.
The form and component parts of this mountain plainly shew, that it has
formerly been a volcano. The lake of Nemi, which we left to the right,
seems, like that of Albano, to have been formed in the cavity of a crater.

We came next to Veletri, an inconsiderable town, situated on a hill.
There is one palace here, with spacious gardens, which, when kept in
repair, may have been magnificent. The staircase, they assured us, is
still worthy of admiration. The inhabitants of Veletri assert, that
Augustus was born there. Suetonius says, he was born at Rome. It is
certainly of no importance where he was born. Perhaps it would have been
better for Rome, and for the world in general, that he never had been
born at all. The Veletrians are so fond of emperors, that they claim
a connexion even with Tiberius and Caligula, who had villas in their
neighbourhood. The ruins of Otho’s palace are still to be seen about
a mile from this city, at a place called Colle Ottone. Of those four
emperors, the last-mentioned was by much the best worth the claiming as a
countryman. As for Caligula, he was a mischievous madman. Tiberius seems
to have been born with wicked dispositions, which he improved by art.
Augustus was naturally wicked, and artificially virtuous; and Otho seems
to have been exactly the reverse. Though educated in the most vicious of
courts, and the favourite and companion of Nero, he still preserved, in
some degree, the original excellence of his character; and, at his death,
displayed a magnanimity of sentiment, and nobleness of conduct, of which
the highly flattered Augustus was never capable. “Alii diutius imperium
tenuerint,” says Tacitus; “nemo tam fortiter reliquerit.” Convinced that,
if he continued the contest with Vitellius, all the horrors of a civil
war would be prolonged, he determined to sacrifice his life to the quiet
of his country, and to the safety of his friends[3]. “To involve you in
fresh calamities,” said this generous prince to the officers who offered
still to support his cause, “is purchasing life at a price beyond what,
in my opinion, is its value. Shall Roman armies be led against each
other, and the Roman youth be excited to mutual slaughter, on my account?
No! for your safety, and to prevent such evils, I die contented. Let me
be no impediment to your treating with the enemy; nor do you any longer
oppose my fixed resolution. I complain not of my fate, nor do I accuse
any body. To arraign the conduct of gods or men, is natural to those only
who wish to live.”

Though they are not to be compared in other respects, yet the _death_ of
Otho may vie with that of Cato; and is one of the strongest instances to
be found in history, that a life of effeminacy and voluptuousness does
not always eradicate the seeds of virtue and benevolence.

In the middle of the square of Veletri, is a bronze statue of Urban the
Eighth. I think they told us it is the workmanship of Bernini.

Descending from that town by a rough road, bordered by vineyards and
fruit-trees, we traversed an unsalubrious plain to Sermonetta; between
which, and the post-house, called Casa Nuova, a little to the left of the
highway, are some vaults and ruins, not greatly worthy of the notice of
the mere antiquarian. Yet passengers of a singular cast of mind, who feel
themselves as much interested in the transactions recorded in the New
Testament, as men of taste are in paintings or heathen antiquities, stop
a little here to contemplate the _Tres Tabernæ_, which are said to be the
three Taverns mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, where the Christian
brethren from Rome came to meet St. Paul, when he was on his journey to
that city. I have seen, however, some Christian travellers, who, without
being connoisseurs, were of opinion, that old ruined houses derived
little value from the circumstance above mentioned, and who preferred a
good modern inn to all the antiquities, sacred or profane, that they met
with on their grand tours. Without presuming to blame any set of men for
their particular taste, I may venture to say, that a traveller, who loves
always to see a well-peopled and well-cultivated country, who insists
on good eating every day, and a neat comfortable bed every night, would
judge very wisely in never travelling out of England.—I am certain he
ought not to travel between Rome and Naples; for on this road, especially
the part which runs through the Ecclesiastical State, the traveller’s
chief entertainment must arise from a less substantial foundation; from
the ideas formed in the mind, at sight of places celebrated by favourite
authors; from a recollection of the important scenes which have been
acted there; and even from the thought of treading the same ground, and
viewing the same objects, with certain persons who lived there fifteen
hundred or two thousand years ago. Strangers, therefore, who come
under the first description, whose senses are far more powerful than
their fancy, when they are so ill advised as to come so far from home,
generally make this journey in very ill humour, fretting at Italian
beds, fuming against Italian cooks, and execrating every poor little
Italian flea that they meet with on the road. But he who can put up with
indifferent fare cheerfully, whose serenity of temper remains unshaken
by the assaults of a flea, and who can draw amusement from the stores of
memory and imagination, will find the powers of both wonderfully excited
during this journey. Sacred history unites with profane, truth conspires
with fable, to afford him entertainment, and render every object
interesting.

    Proxima Circeæ raduntur littora terræ.

Driving along this road, you have a fine view of Monte Circello, and

            ——the Ææan bay,
    Where Circe dwelt, the daughter of the Day;
    Goddess and queen, to whom the powers belong
    Of dreadful magic and commanding song.

This abode of the enchantress Circe has been generally described as an
island; whereas it is, in reality, a promontory, united to the continent
by a neck of land. The adventures of Ulysses and his companions at this
place, with all the extraordinary things which Homer has recorded of
Circe, must serve to amuse you between Casa Nuova and Piperno; the road
affords no other.

At Piperno, anciently Privernum, you quit Circe, for Virgil’s Camilla, a
lady of a very different character, whose native city this is[4].

Near to Piperno, an abbey, called Fossa Nuova, is situated on the ruins
of the little town of Forum Appii, the same of which mention is made in
the Acts of the Apostles, and by Horace, in his account of his journey to
Brundusium.

          ——Inde Forum Appi
    Differtum nautis, cauponibus atque malignis.

The abbey of Fossa Nuova is said to have made a very valuable acquisition
of late, no less than the head of St. Thomas Aquinas. We are told, in
the memoirs of that Saint, that he was taken ill as he passed this way,
and was carried to this convent, where he died. His body was afterward
required by the king of France, and ordered to be carried to Thoulouse;
but before the remains of this holy person were removed from the convent,
one of the monks, unwilling to allow the whole of such a precious
deposite to be carried away, determined to retain the most valuable part,
and actually cut off the saint’s head, substituting another in its stead,
which was carried to Thoulouse, very nicely stitched to the body of the
saint. The monk, who was guilty of this pious fraud, hid the true head
in the wall of the convent, and died without revealing the secret to
any mortal. From that time the supposititious head remained unsuspected
at Thoulouse; but as impostures are generally detected sooner or later,
the venerable brethren of Fossa Nuova (this happened much about the time
that the Cock-lane ghost made such a noise in London) were disturbed with
strange knockings and scratchings at a particular part of the wall.—On
this noise being frequently repeated, without any visible agent, and the
people of the neighbourhood having been often assembled to hear it, the
monks at length agreed to pull down part of the wall at the place where
the scratching and knocking were always heard. This was no sooner done,
than the true head of St. Thomas Aquinas was found as fresh as the day it
was cut off;—on the vessel in which it was contained was the following
inscription:

    Caput divi Thomæ Aquinatis.

And near it a paper, containing a faithful narrative of the whole
transaction, signed by the monk who did the deed.

Some people, not making a proper allowance for the difference between
a saint’s head and their own, say, this cannot possibly be the head of
Thomas Aquinas, which must have putrified some centuries ago; they say,
the paper is written in a character by much too modern; they say, the
monks contrived the whole affair, to give an importance to their convent;
they say—but what signifies what they say? In this age of incredulity,
some people will say any thing. We next came to Terracina, and here I
must finish my letter; in my next I shall carry you to Naples.

    [3] Hunc animum, hanc virtutem vestram, ultra periculis
    objicere, nimis grande vitæ meæ pretium puto. An ego tantum
    Romanæ pubis, tot egregios exercitus, sterni rursus et
    republicâ eripi patiar? Este superstites, nec diu moremur; ego
    incolumitatem vestram, vos constantiam meam. De nemine queror,
    nam incusare deos vel homines, ejus est, qui vivere velit.
    TACIT. Hist. lib. ii.

    [4]

        Hos super advenit Volscâ de gente Camilla,
        Agmen agens equitum et florentes ære catervas,
        Bellatrix: Non illa colo calathisve Minervæ
        Fœmineas assueta manus; sed prœlia virgo
        Dura pati, cursuque pedum prævertere ventos.

                                    ÆNEID. lib. vii.



LETTER LIII.


                                                                  Naples.

Terracina, formerly called Anxur, was the capital of the warlike
Volsci[5]. The principal church was originally a temple of Jupiter, who
was supposed to have a partiality for this town, and the country around
it. Virgil calls him Jupiter Anxurus. Enumerating the troops who came to
support the cause of Turnus, he mentions those who plough the Rutulian
hills:

    Circeumque jugum; queis Jupiter Anxurus arvis
    Præsidet, et viridi gaudens Feronia luco:
    Qua saturæ jacet atra palus, &c.

Near this place we fell in again with the Appian Way, and beheld, with
astonishment, the depth of rock that has here been cut, to render it
more convenient for passengers. This famous road is a paved causeway,
begun in the year of Rome 441, by Appius Claudius Cæcus the Censor, and
carried all the way from Rome to Capua. It would be superfluous to insist
on the substantial manner in which it has been originally made, since
it still remains in many places. Though travellers are now obliged to
make a circuit by Casa Nuova and Piperno, the Via Appia was originally
made in a straight line through the Palude Pontine, or Palus Pomptina,
as that vast marsh was anciently called: it is the Ater Palus above
mentioned, in the lines quoted from Virgil. That part of the Appian road
is now quite impassable, from the augmentation of this noxious marsh,
whose exhalations are disagreeable to passengers, and near which it is
dangerous to sleep a single night.

Keysler and some others say, that Appius made this road at his own
expence. I do not know on what authority they make this assertion; but,
whatever their authority may be, the thing is incredible. Could a Roman
citizen, at a period when the inhabitants of Rome were not rich, bear an
expence which we are surprised that even the State itself could support?
Though this famous road has received its name from Appius, I can hardly
imagine it was completed by him. The distance from Rome to Capua is above
one hundred and thirty miles; a prodigious length for such a road as this
to have been made, during the short course of one Censorship; for a man
could be Censor only once in his life. This was an office of very great
dignity; no person could enjoy it till he had previously been Consul. It
was originally held for five years; but, a hundred years before the time
of Appius, the term was abridged to eighteen months. He, however, who,
as Livy tells us, possessed all the pride and obstinacy of his family,
refused to quit the Censorship at the end of that period; and, in spite
of all the efforts of the Tribunes, continued three years and a half
beyond the term to which the office had been restricted by the Æmilian
Law. But even five years is a very short time for so great a work; yet
this was not the only work he carried on during his Censorship. “Viam
munivit,” says the Historian, “et aquam in urbem duxit.” The Appian road
was carried on, afterwards, from Capua to Brundusium, and was probably
completed so far, in the time of Horace; as appears by this verse, in one
of his Epistles addressed to Lollius:

    Brundusium Numici melius via ducat, an Appi.

Terracina is the last town of the Ecclesiastical, and Fundi the first of
the Neapolitan, dominions. This last town stands on a plain, sheltered by
hills, which is seldom the case with Italian towns: it probably derives
its name from its situation. There is nothing very attractive in this
place, now, more than in Horace’s time; so we left it as willingly as he
did:

    Fundos Aufidio Lusco Prætore _libenter_ Linquimus.

Continuing our route, partly on the Appian way, we came to Mola di Gaeta,
a town built on the ruins of the ancient Formiæ. Horace compliments Ælius
Lamia, on his being descended from the first founder of this city:

    Auctore ab illo ducis originem,
    Qui Formiarum mœnia dicitur,
    Princeps.

The same Poet puts the wine, made from the grapes of the Formian hills,
on a footing with the Falernian:

        ——mea nec Falernæ
    Temperant vites, neque Formiani
      Pocula colles.

Cicero had a villa near this place; and it was on this coast where that
great orator was murdered in his litter, as he was endeavouring to make
his escape to Greece. The fortress of Gaeta is built on a promontory,
about three miles from Mola; but travellers, who have the curiosity
to go to the former, generally cross the gulph between the two; and
immediately, as the most remarkable thing in the place, they are shewn
a great cleft in a rock, and informed that it was miraculously split in
this manner at the death of our Saviour. To put this beyond doubt, they
shew, at the same time, something like the impression of a man’s hand
on the rock, of which the following account is given.—A certain person
having been told on what occasion the rent took place, struck the palm of
his hand on the marble, declaring he could no more believe their story,
than that his hand would leave its stamp on the rock; on which, to the
terror and confusion of this infidel, the stone yielded like wax, and the
impression remains till this day.

Nothing is so injurious to the cause of truth, as attempts to support it
by fiction. Many evidences of the justness of this observation occur in
the course of a tour through Italy. That mountains were rent at the death
of our Saviour, we know from the New Testament; but, as none of them are
there particularized, it is presumptuous in others to imagine they can
point out what the Evangelists have thought proper to conceal.

This rock, however, is much resorted to by pilgrims; and the Tartanes,
and other vessels, often touch there, that the seamen may be provided
with little pieces of marble, which they earnestly request may be taken
as near the fissure as possible. These they wear constantly in their
pockets, in case of shipwreck, from a persuasion, that they are a more
certain preservative from drowning, than a cork jacket. Some of these
poor people have the misfortune to be drowned, notwithstanding; but
the sacred marble loses none of its reputation on that account. Such
accidents are always imputed to the weight of the unfortunate person’s
sins, which have sunk him to the bottom, in spite of all the efforts of
the marble to keep him above water; and it is allowed on all hands, that
a man so oppressed with iniquity, as to be drowned with a piece of this
marble in his pocket, would have sunk much sooner, if, instead of that,
he had had nothing to keep him up but a cork jacket.

Strangers are next led to the Castle, and are shewn, with some other
curiosities, the skeleton of the famous Bourbon, Constable of France, who
was killed in the service of the emperor Charles the Fifth, as he scaled
the walls of Rome.

It is remarkable that France, a nation which values itself so much on an
affectionate attachment to its princes, and places loyalty at the head
of the virtues, should have produced, in the course of the two last
centuries, so many illustrious rebels: Bourbon, Coligni, Guise, Turenne,
and the Condés; all of them were, at some period of their lives, in arms
against their sovereign.

That it is the duty of subjects to preserve their allegiance, however
unjustly and tyrannically their prince may conduct himself, is one of
the most debasing and absurd doctrines that ever was obtruded on the
understanding of mankind. When Francis forgot the services which the
gallant Bourbon had rendered him at Mirignan; when, by repeated acts
of oppression, he forgot the duty of a king; Bourbon spurned at his
allegiance, as a subject. The Spanish nobleman, who declared that he
would pull down his house, if Bourbon should be allowed to lodge in it,
either never had heard of the injurious treatment which that gallant
soldier had received, or he betrayed the sentiments of a slave, and
meant to insinuate his own implicit loyalty to the Emperor. Mankind in
general have a partiality for princes. The senses are imposed on by the
splendour which surrounds them; and the respect due to the office of a
king, is naturally converted into an affection for his person: there must
therefore be something highly unpopular in the character of the monarch,
and highly oppressive in the measures of government, before people can be
excited to rebellion. Subjects seldom rise through a desire of attacking,
but rather from an impatience of suffering. Where men are under the
yoke of feudal lords, who can force them to fight in any cause, it may
be otherwise; but when general discontent pervades a free people, and
when, in consequence of this, they take arms against their prince, they
must have justice on their side. The highest compliment which subjects
can pay, and the best service they can render, to a good prince, is, to
behave in such a manner, as to convince him that they would rebel against
a bad one.

From Mola we were conducted by the Appian way, over the fertile fields
washed by the silent Liris:

        ——Rura quæ Liris quieta
    Mordet aqua, taciturnus amnis.

This river bounded Latium. On its banks are still seen some ruins of
the ancient Minturnæ. After Manlius Torquatus, in what some will call
a phrenzy of virtue, had offered up his son as a sacrifice to military
discipline; and his colleague Decius, immediately after, devoted himself
in a battle against the Latins; the broken army of that people assembled
at Minturnæ, and were a second time defeated by Manlius, and their lands
divided by the senate among the citizens of Rome. The first battle
was fought near Mount Vesuvius, and the second between Sinuessa and
Minturnæ. In the morasses of Minturnæ, Caius Marius, in the seventieth
year of his age, was taken, and brought a prisoner to that city, whose
magistrates ordered an assassin to put him to death, whom the fierce
veteran disarmed with a look. What mortal, says Juvenal, would have been
thought more fortunate than Marius, had he breathed out his aspiring
soul, surrounded by the captives he had made, his victorious troops, and
all the pomp of war, as he descended from his Teutonic chariot, after his
triumph over the Cimbri.

              ——Quid ilio cive tulisset
    Natura in terris, quid Roma beatius unquam?
    Si circumducto captivorum agmine, et omni
    Bellorum pompâ, animam exhalâsset opimam,
    Cum de Teutonico vellet descendere curru.

Several writers, in their remarks on Italy, observe, that it was on the
banks of the Liris that Pyrrhus gained his dear-bought victory over the
Romans. They have fallen into this mistake, by confounding the Liris with
the Siris, a river in Magna Græcia, near Heraclea; in the neighbourhood
of which Pyrrhus defeated the Romans by the means of his elephants.

Leaving Garilagno, which is the modern name of the Liris, we pass the
rising ground where the ancient Sinuessa was situated; the city where
Horace met his friends Plotius, Varius, and Virgil. The friendly glow
with which this admirable painter has adorned their characters, conveys
an amiable idea of his own.

        ——Animæ, quales neque candidiores
    Terra tulit; neque queis me sit devinctior alter.
    O, qui complexus et gaudia quanta fuerunt!
    Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus amico.

Do you not share in the happiness of such a company? And are you not
rejoiced that they happened to meet near the Ager Falernus, where they
could have the best Massic and Falernian wines?

New Capua, through which the road from Rome to Naples lies, is a small
town of no importance. The ancient city of that name was situated two
miles distant from the new. The ruins of the amphitheatre, which are
still to be seen, give some idea of the ancient grandeur of that city.
Before the amphitheatre of Vespasian was built, there was none in Rome of
equal size with this. Old Capua is said, at one period, to have vied in
magnificence with Rome and Carthage:

    Altera dicta olim Carthago, atque altera Roma,
    Nunc prostrata jacet, proprioque sepulta sepulchro.

The army of Hannibal is said to have been conquered by the luxuries of
this place; but the judicious Montesquieu observes, that the Carthaginian
army, enriched by so many victories, would have found a Capua wherever
they had gone. Whether Capua brought on the ruin of Hannibal or not,
there can be no doubt that Hannibal occasioned the ruin of Capua.

Having broken their connection with Rome, and formed an alliance with
her enemy, the Capuans were, in the course of the war, besieged by the
Consuls Fulvius and Appius. Hannibal exerted all his vast abilities
for the relief of his new friends; but was not able to bring the Roman
army to a battle, or to raise the siege. When every other expedient
had failed, he marched directly to Rome, in the hopes of drawing the
Roman army after him to defend the capital. A number of alarming events
conspired, at this time, to depress the spirit of the Roman Senate. The
Proconsul Sempronius Gracchus, who commanded an army in Lucania, had
fallen into an ambuscade, and was massacred. The two gallant brothers,
the Scipios, who were their generals in Spain, had been defeated and
killed; and Hannibal was at their gates. How did the Senate behave at
this crisis? Did they spend their time in idle harangues and mutual
accusations? Did they throw out reflections against those senators who
were against entering into a treaty with the Carthaginians till their
army should be withdrawn from Italy? Did they recall their army from
Capua? Did they shew any mark of despondence? In this slate of affairs,
the Roman Senate sent orders to Appius to continue the siege of Capua;
they ordered a reinforcement to their army in Spain; the troops for that
service marching out at one gate of Rome, while Hannibal threatened to
enter by storm at another. How could such a people fail to become the
masters of the world!

The country between Capua and Naples displays a varied scene of lavish
fertility, and with great propriety might be named Campania Felix, if
the richest and most generous soil, with the mildest and most agreeable
climate, were sufficient to render the inhabitants of a country happy.

    [5] Anxur fuit quæ nunc Terracinæ sunt; urbs prona in paludes.
    TIT. LIV. lib. iv.



LETTER LIV.


                                                                  Naples.

The day after our arrival at this place, we waited on Sir W—— H——, his
Majesty’s minister at this court. He had gone early that morning on a
hunting party with the King; but the Portuguese ambassador, at L——y H——’s
desire, undertook to accompany the D—— on the usual round of visits;
Sir W—— was not expected to return for several days, and the laws of
etiquette do not allow that important tour to be delayed so long. As we
have been continually driving about ever since our arrival, I am already
pretty well acquainted with this town, and the environs.

Naples was founded by the Greeks. The charming situation they have
chosen, is one proof among thousands, of the fine taste of that
ingenious people.

The bay is about thirty miles in circumference, and twelve in diameter;
it has been named Crater, from its supposed resemblance to a bowl. This
bowl is ornamented with the most beautiful foliage, with vines; with
olive, mulberry, and orange trees; with hills, dales, towns, villas, and
villages.

At the bottom of the bay of Naples, the town is built in the form of a
vast amphitheatre, sloping from the hills towards the sea.

If, from the town, you turn your eyes to the east, you see the rich
plains leading to mount Vesuvius, and Portici. If you look to the west,
you have the Grotto of Pausilippo, the mountain on which Virgil’s tomb
is placed, and the fields leading to Puzzoli and the coast of Baia. On
the north, are the fertile hills, gradually rising from the shore to
the Campagna Felice. On the South, is the bay, confined by the two
promontories of Misenum and Minerva, the view being terminated by the
islands Procida, Ischia, and Caprea; and as you ascend to the castle of
St. Elmo, you have all these objects under your eye at once, with the
addition of a great part of the Campagna.

Independent of its happy situation, Naples is a very beautiful city. The
style of architecture, it must be confessed, is inferior to what prevails
at Rome; but though Naples cannot vie with that city in the number of
palaces, or in the grandeur and magnificence of the churches, the private
houses in general are better built, and are more uniformly convenient;
the streets are broader and better paved. No street in Rome equals in
beauty the Strada di Toledo at Naples; and still less can any of them be
compared with those beautiful streets which are open to the bay. This is
the native country of the Zephyrs; here the excessive heat of the Sun is
often tempered with sea breezes, and with gales, wafting the perfumes of
the Campagna Felice.

The houses, in general, are five or six stories in height, and flat at
the top; on which are placed, numbers of flower vases or fruit trees, in
boxes of earth, producing a very gay and agreeable effect.

The fortress of St. Elmo is built on a mountain of the same name. The
garrison stationed here, have the entire command of the town, and could
lay it in ashes at pleasure. A little lower, on the same mountain, is a
convent of Carthusians. The situation of this convent is as advantageous
and beautiful as can be imagined; and much expence has been lavished
to render the building, the apartments, and the gardens, equal to the
situation.

To bestow great sums of money in adorning the retreat of men who have
abandoned the world for the express purpose of passing the remainder
of their lives in self-denial and mortification, seems to be very ill
judged; and might, on some occasions, counteract the design of their
retreat. I expressed this sentiment to a Neapolitan lady at Sir W—— H——’s
assembly, the evening after I had visited this convent. She said, “that
the elegant apartments, the gardens, and all the expensive ornaments I
had particularised, could not much impede a system of self-denial; for
they soon became insipid to those who had them constantly before their
eyes, and proved no compensation for the want of other comforts.” “In
that case,” said I, “the whole expence might have been saved, or bestowed
in procuring comforts to others who have made no vows of mortification.”
“Tolga iddio!” cried the lady, forgetting her former argument, “for
none have so good a title to every comfortable and pleasant thing in
this world, as those who have renounced it, and placed their affections
entirely on the next; instead of depriving these sanctified Carthusians
of what they already possess, it would be more meritorious to give them
what they have not.”

“Give them then, said I, what will afford some satisfaction, instead of
the luxuries of sculpture, and paintings and architecture, which, as you
say, become so soon insipid; let them have enjoyments of a different
kind. Why should their diet be confined to fish and vegetables? Let
them enjoy the pleasures of the table without any limitation. And since
they are so very meritorious, why is your sex deprived of the happiness
of their conversation, and why are they denied the pleasure which the
society of women might afford them?”

“Cristo benedetto!” cried the lady, “You do not understand this
matter.—Though none deserve the pleasures of this world, but those who
think only on the next; yet none can obtain the joys of the next, who
indulge in the pleasures of this.”

“That is unlucky,” said I.

“Unlucky! to be sure it is the most unlucky thing that could have
happened, _ecco dove mi doleva_,” added the lady.

Though Naples is admirably situated for commerce, and no kingdom produces
the necessaries and luxuries of life in greater profusion, yet trade is
but in a languishing condition; the best silks come from Lyons, and the
best woollen goods from England.

The chief articles manufactured here, at present, are, silk stockings,
soap, snuff boxes of tortoise shells, and of the lava of Mount Vesuvius,
tables, and ornamental furniture, of marble.

They are thought to embroider here better than even in France; and
their macaroni is preferred to that made in any other part of Italy.
The Neapolitans excel also in liqueurs and confections; particularly
in one kind of confection, which is sold at a very high price, called
Diabolonis. This drug, as you will guess from its name, is of a very hot
and stimulating nature, and what I should think by no means requisite to
Neapolitan constitutions.

The inhabitants of this town are computed at three hundred and fifty
thousand. I make no doubt of their amounting to that number; for though
Naples is not one third of the size of London, yet many of the streets
here are more crowded than the Strand. In London and Paris, the people
who fill the streets are mere passengers, hurrying from place to place
on business; and when they choose to converge, or to amuse themselves,
they resort to the public walks or gardens: at Naples, the citizens
have fewer avocations of business to excite their activity; no public
walks, or gardens to which they can resort; and are, therefore, more
frequently seen sauntering and conversing in the streets, where a great
proportion of the poorest sort, for want of habitations, are obliged to
spend the night as well as the day. While you sit in your chamber at
London, or at Paris, the usual noise you hear from the streets, is that
of carriages; but at Naples, where they talk with uncommon vivacity,
and where whole streets full of talkers are in continual employment the
noise of carriages is completely drowned in the aggregated clack of human
voices. In the midst of all this idleness, fewer riots or outrages of any
kind happen, than might be expected in a town where the police is far
from being strict, and where such multitudes of poor unemployed people
meet together every day. This partly proceeds from the national character
of the Italians; which, in my opinion, is quiet, submissive, and averse
to riot or sedition; and partly to the common people being universally
sober, and never inflamed with strong and spirituous liquors, as they are
in the northern countries. Iced water and lemonade are among the luxuries
of the lowest vulgar; they are carried about in little barrels, and sold
in half-penny’s worth. The half naked lazzarone is often tempted to spend
the small pittance destined for the maintenance of his family, on this
bewitching beverage, as the most dissolute of the low people in London
spend their wages on gin and brandy; so that the same extravagance which
cools the mob of the one city, tends to inflame that of the other to acts
of excess and brutality.

There is not, perhaps, a city in the world, with the same number of
inhabitants, in which so few contribute to the wealth of the community by
useful, or by productive labour, as Naples; but the numbers of priests,
monks, fiddlers, lawyers, nobility, footmen, and lazzaronis, surpass all
reasonable proportion; the last alone are computed at thirty or forty
thousand. If these poor fellows are idle, it is not their own fault;
they are continually running about the streets, as we are told of the
artificers of China; offering their service, and begging for employment;
and are considered, by many, as of more real utility than any of the
classes above mentioned.



LETTER LV.


                                                                  Naples.

There is an assembly once a week at the house of the British minister;
no assembly in Naples is more numerous, or more brilliant, than this.
Exclusive of that gentleman’s good qualities, and those accomplishments
which procure esteem in any situation, he would meet with every mark
of regard from the Neapolitan nobles, on account of the high favour
in which he stands with their Sovereign. Sir W——’s house is open to
strangers of every country who come to Naples properly recommended, as
well as to the English; he has a private concert almost every evening.
L——y H—— understands music perfectly, and performs in such a manner, as
to command the admiration even of the Neapolitans. Sir W——, who is the
happiest tempered man in the world, and the easiest amused, performs
also, and succeeds perfectly in amusing himself, which is a more valuable
attainment than the other.

The Neapolitan nobility are excessively fond of splendour and show.
This appears in the brilliancy of their equipages, the number of their
attendants, the richness of their dress, and the grandeur of their titles.

I am assured, that the King of Naples counts a hundred persons with the
title of Prince, and still a greater number with that of Duke, among his
subjects. Six or seven of these have estates, which produce from ten to
twelve or thirteen thousand pounds a year; a considerable number have
fortunes of about half that value; and the annual revenue of many is not
above one or two thousand pounds. With respect to the inferior orders
of nobility, they are much poorer; many Counts and Marquisses have not
above three or four hundred pounds a year of paternal estate, many still
less, and not a few enjoy the title without any estate whatever.

When we consider the magnificence of their entertainments, the splendour
of their equipages, and the number of their servants, we are surprised
that the richest of them can support such expensive establishments.
I dined, soon after our arrival, at the Prince of Franca Villa’s;
there were about forty people at table; it was meagre day; the dinner
consisted entirely of fish and vegetables, and was the most magnificent
entertainment I ever saw, comprehending an infinite variety of dishes,
a vast profusion of fruit, and the wines of every country in Europe. I
dined since at the Prince Iacci’s. I shall mention two circumstances,
from which you may form an idea of the grandeur of an Italian palace,
and the number of domestics which some of the nobility retain. We
passed through twelve or thirteen large rooms before we arrived at the
dining room; there were thirty-six persons at table, none served but the
Prince’s domestics, and each guest had a footman behind his chair; other
domestics belonging to the Prince remained in the adjacent rooms, and in
the hall. We afterwards passed through a considerable number of other
rooms in our way to one from which there is a very commanding view.

No estate in England could support such a number of servants, paid and
fed as English servants are; but here the wages are very moderate indeed,
and the greater number of men servants, belonging to the first families,
give their attendance through the day only, and find beds and provisions
for themselves. It must be remembered, also, that few of the nobles give
entertainments, and those who do not, are said to live very sparingly;
so that the whole of their revenue, whatever that may be, is exhausted on
articles of show.

As there is no Opera at present, the people of fashion generally pass
part of the evening at the Corso, on the sea-shore. This is the great
scene of Neapolitan splendour and parade; and, on grand occasions, the
magnificence displayed here will strike a stranger very much. The finest
carriages are painted, gilt, varnished, and lined, in a richer and more
beautiful manner, than has as yet become fashionable either in England
or France; they are often drawn by six, and sometimes by eight horses.
As the last is the number allotted to his Britannic Majesty when he goes
to parliament, some of our countrymen are offended that any individuals
whatsoever should presume to drive with the same number.

It is the mode here, to have two running footmen, very gaily dressed,
before the carriage, and three or four servants in rich liveries behind;
these attendants are generally the handsomest young men that can be
procured. The ladies or gentlemen within the coaches, glitter in all the
brilliancy of lace, embroidery, and jewels. The Neapolitan carriages,
for gala days, are made on purpose, with very large windows, that the
spectators may enjoy a full view of the parties within. Nothing can be
more showy than the harness of the horses; their heads and manes are
ornamented with the rarest plumage, and their tails set off with riband
and artificial flowers, in such a graceful manner that you are apt to
think they have been adorned by the same hands that dressed the heads of
the ladies, and not by common grooms.

After all, you will perhaps imagine the amusement cannot be very great.
The carriages follow each other in two lines, moving in opposite
directions. The company within smile, and bow, and wave the hand, as they
pass and repass their acquaintance; and doubtless imagine, that they are
the most important figures in the procession. The horses, however, seem
to be quite of a different way of thinking, and to consider themselves
as the chief objects of admiration, looking on the livery servants, the
volantis, the lords, and the ladies, as their natural suit on all such
solemn occasions.



LETTER LVI.


                                                                  Naples.

The greatest part of kings, whatever may be thought of them after their
death, have the good fortune to be represented, at some period of their
lives, generally at the beginning of their reigns, as the greatest
and most virtuous of mankind. They are never compared to characters
of less dignity than Solomon, Alexander, Cæsar, or Titus; and the
comparison usually concludes to the advantage of the living monarch. They
differ in this, as in many other particulars, from those of the most
distinguished genius and exalted merit among their subjects, That the
fame of the latter, if any awaits them, seldom arrives at its meridian
till many years after their death; whereas the glory of the former is
at its fullest splendour during their lives; and most of them have the
satisfaction of hearing all their praises with their own ears. Each
particular monarch, taken separately, is, or has been, considered as a
star of great lustre; yet any number of them, taken without selection,
and placed in the historical galaxy, add little to its brightness, and
are often contemplated with disgust. When we have occasion to mention
kings in general, the expression certainly does not awaken a recollection
of the most amiable or most deserving part of the human species; and
tyranny in no country is pushed so far, as to constrain men to speak of
them, when we speak in general terms, as if they were. It would revolt
the feelings, and rouse the indignation, even of slaves. Full freedom
is allowed therefore on this topic; and, under the most arbitrary
government, if you chuse to declaim on the imbecility, profligacy, or
corruption of human nature, you may draw your illustrations from the
kings of any country, provided you take them in groupes, and hint
nothing to the detriment of the reigning monarch. But, when we talk
of any one living sovereign, we should never allow it to escape from
our memory, that he is wise, valiant, generous, and good; and we ought
always to have Solomon, Alexander, Cæsar, and Titus, at our elbow, to
introduce them apropos when occasion offers. We may have what opinion
we please of the whole race of Bourbon; but it would be highly indecent
to deny, that the reigning kings of Spain and Naples are very great
princes. As I never had the happiness of seeing the father, I can only
speak of the son. His Neapolitan Majesty seems to be about the age of
six or seven-and-twenty. He is a prince of great activity of body, and a
good constitution; he indulges in frequent relaxations from the cares of
government and the fatigue of thinking, by hunting and other exercises;
and (which ought to give a high idea of his natural talents) he never
fails to acquire a very considerable degree of perfection in those
things to which he applies. He is very fond, like the King of Prussia, of
reviewing his troops, and is perfectly master of the whole mystery of the
manual exercise. I have had the honour, oftener than once, of seeing him
exercise the different regiments which form the garrison here: he always
gave the word of command with his own royal mouth, and with a precision
which seemed to astonish the whole Court. This monarch is also a very
excellent shot; his uncommon success at this diversion is thought to have
roused the jealousy of his Most Catholic Majesty, who also values himself
on his skill as a marksman. The correspondence between those two great
personages often relates to their favourite amusement.—A gentleman, who
came lately from Madrid, told me, that the King, on some occasion, had
read a letter which he had just received from his son at Naples, wherein
he complained of his bad success on a shooting party, having killed no
more than eighty birds in a day: and the Spanish monarch, turning to
his courtiers, said, in a plaintive tone of voice, “Mio filio piange
di non aver’ fatto piu di ottante beccacie in uno giorno, quando mi
crederei l’uomo il piu felice del mondo se potesse fare quaranta.” All
who take a becoming share in the afflictions of a royal bosom, will no
doubt join with me, in wishing better success to this good monarch, for
the future. Fortunate would it be for mankind, if the happiness of their
princes could be purchased at so easy a rate! and thrice fortunate for
the generous people of Spain, if the family connexions of their monarch,
often at variance with the real interest of that country, should never
seduce him into a more ruinous war, than that which he now wages against
the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. His Neapolitan Majesty,
as I am informed, possesses many other accomplishments; I particularise
those only to which I have myself been a witness. No king in Europe is
supposed to understand the game of billiards better. I had the pleasure
of seeing him strike the most brilliant stroke that perhaps ever was
struck by a crowned head. The ball of his antagonist was near one of the
middle pockets, and his own in such a situation, that it was absolutely
necessary to make it rebound from two different parts of the cushion,
before it could pocket the other. A person of less enterprise would have
been contented with placing himself in a safe situation, at a small loss,
and never have risqued any offensive attempt against the enemy; but the
difficulty and danger, instead of intimidating, seemed rather to animate
the ambition of this Prince. He summoned all his address; he estimated,
with a mathematical eye, the angles at which the ball must fly off; and
he struck it with an undaunted mind and a steady hand. It rebounded
obliquely, from the opposite side-cushion, to that at the end; from which
it moved in a direct line towards the middle pocket, which seemed to
stand in gaping expectation to receive it. The hearts of the spectators
beat thick as it rolled along; and they shewed, by the contortions of
their faces and persons, how much they feared that it should move one
hair-breadth in a wrong direction.—I must here interrupt this important
narrative, to observe, that, when I talk of contortions, if you form
your idea from any thing of that kind which you may have seen around an
English billiard-table or bowling-green, you can have no just notion of
those which were exhibited on this occasion: your imagination must triple
the force and energy of every English grimace, before it can do justice
to the nervous twist of an Italian countenance.—At length the royal
ball reached that of the enemy, and with a single blow drove it off the
plain. An universal shout of joy, triumph, and applause burst from the
beholders; but,

    O thoughtless mortals, ever blind to fate,
    Too soon dejected, and too soon elate!

the victorious ball, pursuing the enemy too far, shared the same fate,
and was buried in the same grave, with the vanquished. This fatal and
unforeseen event seemed to make a deep impression on the minds of all who
were witnesses to it; and will no doubt be recorded in the annals of the
present reign, and quoted by future poets and historians, as a striking
instance of the instability of sublunary felicity.

It is imagined that the cabinet of this Court is entirely guided by
that of Spain; which, on its part, is thought to be greatly under the
influence of French counsels. The manners, as well as the politics, of
France, are said to prevail at present at the Court of Madrid. I do not
presume to say of what nature the politics of his Neapolitan Majesty
are, or whether he is fond of French counsels or not; but no true-born
Englishman existing can shew a more perfect contempt of their manners
than he does. In domestic life, this Prince is generally allowed to be
an easy master, a good-natured husband, a dutiful son, and an indulgent
father.

The Queen of Naples is a beautiful woman, and seems to possess the
affability, good-humour, and benevolence, which distinguish, in such an
amiable manner, the Austrian family.



LETTER LVII.


                                                                  Naples.

The hereditary jurisdiction of the nobles over their vassals subsists,
both in the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, in the full rigour of the
feudal government. The peasants therefore are poor; and it depends
entirely on the personal character of the masters, whether their poverty
is not the least of their grievances. If the land was leased out to
free farmers, whose property was perfectly secure, and the leases of
a sufficient length to allow the tenant to reap the fruits of his own
improvements, there is no manner of doubt that the estates of the
nobility would produce much more. The landlord might have a higher rent
paid in money, instead of being collected in kind, which subjects him to
the salaries and impositions of a numerous train of stewards; and the
tenants, on their parts, would be enabled to live much more comfortably,
and to lay up, every year, a small pittance for their families. But the
love of domineering is so predominant in the breasts of men who have been
accustomed to it from their infancy, that, if the alternative were in
their choice, many of them would rather submit to be themselves slaves to
the caprices of an absolute prince, than become perfectly independent, on
the condition of giving independence to their vassals. There is reason
to believe that this ungenerous spirit prevails pretty universally among
the nobility all over Europe. The German Barons are more shocked at the
idea of their peasants becoming perfectly free, like the farmers of Great
Britain, than they are solicitous to limit the power of their princes:
And, from the sentiments I have heard expressed by the French, I very
much doubt, whether their high nobility would accept of the privileges
of English peers, at the expence of that insolent superiority, and those
licentious freedoms, with which _they_ may, though no English peer can,
treat with impunity the citizens and people of inferior rank. We need be
the less surprised at this, when we consider that, in some parts of the
British empire, where the equable and generous laws of England prevail,
those who set the highest value on freedom, who submit to every hardship,
and encounter every danger, to secure it to themselves, never have shewn
a disposition of extending its blessings, or even alleviating the bondage
of that part of the human species, which a sordid and unjustifiable
barter has brought into their power.

The Court of Naples has not yet ventured, by one open act of authority,
to abolish the immoderate power of the lords over their tenants. But it
is believed that the Minister secretly wishes for its destruction; and
in cases of flagrant oppression, when complaints are brought before the
legal courts, or directly to the King himself, by the peasants against
their lord, it is generally remarked that the Minister favours the
complainant. Notwithstanding this, the masters have so many opportunities
of oppressing, and such various methods of teasing, their vassals, that
they generally chuse to bear their wrongs in silence; and perceiving
that those who hold their lands immediately from the Crown, are in a
much easier situation than themselves; without raising their hopes to
perfect freedom, the height of their wishes is to be sheltered, from the
vexations of little tyrants, under the unlimited power of one common
master. The objects of royal attention, they fondly imagine, are too
sublime, and the minds of kings too generous, to stoop to, or even to
countenance, in their servants, the minute and unreasonable exertions,
which are wrung at present from the hard hands of the exhausted labourer.

Though the Neapolitan nobility still retain the ancient feudal authority
over the peasants, yet their personal importance depends, in a great
measure, on the favour of the King; who, under pretext of any offence,
can confine them to their own estates, or imprison them at pleasure; and
who, without any alleged offence, and without going to such extremes,
can inflict a punishment, highly sensible to them, by not inviting them
to the amusements of the Court, or not receiving them with smiles when
they attend on any ordinary occasion. Unless this Prince were so very
impolitic as to disgust all the nobility at once, and so unite the
whole body against him, he has little to fear from their resentment.
Even in case of such an union, as the nobles have lost the affection
and attachment of their peasants, what could they do in opposition to a
standing army of thirty thousand men, entirely devoted to the Crown?
The establishment of standing armies has universally given stability to
the power of the prince, and ruined that of the great lords. No nobility
in Europe can now be said to inherit political importance, or to act
independent of, or in opposition to, the influence of the crown; except
the _temporal peers of that part of Great Britain called England_.

As men of high birth are seldom, in this country, called to the
management of public affairs, or placed in those situations where great
political knowledge is required; and as his Majesty relies on his own
talents and experience in war for the direction of the army; neither
the civil nor military establishments open any very tempting field for
the ambition of the nobles, whose education is usually adapted to the
parts in life which they have a probability of acting. Their fortunes
and titles descend to them, independent of any effort of their own. All
the literary distinctions are beneath their regard; it is therefore not
thought expedient to cloud the playful innocence of their childhood,
or the amiable gaiety of their youth, with severe study. In some other
countries, where a very small portion of literary education is thought
becoming for young men of rank, and where even this small portion has
been neglected, they sometimes catch a little knowledge of history and
mythology, and some useful moral sentiments, from the excellent dramatic
pieces that are represented on their theatres. They also sometimes
pick up some notion of the different governments in Europe, and a few
political ideas, in the course of their travels. But the nobility of this
country very seldom travel; and the only dramatic pieces, represented
here, are operas; in which music, not sentiment, is the principal thing
attended to. In the other theatrical entertainments, Punchinello is the
shining character. To this disregard of literature among the nobles, it
is owing, that in their body are to be found few tiresome, scholastic
pedants, and none of those perturbed spirits, who ruffle the serenity
of nations by political alarms, who clog the wheels of government by
opposition, who pry into the conduct of ministers, or in any way disturb
that total indifference with regard to the public, which prevails all
over this kingdom. We are told by a great modern Historian[6], that
“force of mind, a sense of personal dignity, gallantry in enterprise,
invincible perseverance in execution, contempt of danger and of death,
are the characteristic virtues of uncivilised nations.” But as the nobles
of this country have long been sufficiently civilised, these qualities
may in them be supposed to have given place to the arts which embellish
a polished age; to gaming, gallantry, music, the parade of equipage, the
refinements of dress, and other nameless refinements.

    [6] Vide Dr. Robertson’s History of the Emperor Charles V.
    Sect. I.



LETTER LVIII.


                                                                  Naples.

The citizens of Naples form a society of their own, perfectly distinct
from the nobility; and although they are not the most industrious people
in the world, yet, having some degree of occupation, and their time being
divided between business and pleasure, they probably have more enjoyment
than those, who, without internal resources, or opportunities of active
exertion, pass their lives in sensual gratifications, and in waiting
the returns of appetite around a gaming table. In the most respectable
class of citizens, are comprehended the lawyers, of whom there are an
incredible number in this town. The most eminent of this profession hold,
indeed, a kind of intermediate rank between the nobility and citizens;
the rest are on a level with the physicians, the principal merchants, and
the artists; none of whom can make great fortunes, however industrious
they may be; but a moderate income enables them to support their rank in
society, and to enjoy all the conveniences, and many of the luxuries, of
life.

England is perhaps the only nation in Europe where some individuals, of
every profession, even of the lowest, find it possible to accumulate
great fortunes; the effect of this very frequently is, that the son
despises the profession of the father, commences gentleman, and
dissipates, in a few years, what cost a life to gather. In the principal
cities of Germany and Italy, we find, that the ancestors of many of those
citizens who are the most eminent in their particular businesses, have
transmitted the art to them through several generations. It is natural
to imagine, that this will tend to the improvement of the art, or
science, or profession, as well as the family fortune; and that the third
generation will acquire knowledge from the experience, as well as wealth
from the industry, of the former two; whereas, in the cases alluded to
above, the wheel of fortune moves differently. A man, by assiduity in a
particular business, and by genius, acquires a great fortune and a high
reputation; the son throws away the fortune, and ruins his own character
by extravagance; and the grandson is obliged to recommence the business,
unaided by the wealth or experience of his ancestors. This, however, is
pointing out an evil which I should be sorry to see remedied; because it
certainly originates in the riches and prosperity of the country in which
it exists.

The number of priests, monks, and ecclesiastics of all the various orders
that swarm in this city, is prodigious; and the provision appropriated
for their use, is as ample, I am assured, that the clergy are in
possession of considerably above one-third of the revenue of the whole
kingdom, over and above what some particular orders among them acquire
by begging for the use of their convents, and what is gotten in legacies
by the address and assiduity of the whole. The unproductive wealth,
which is lodged in the churches and convents of this city, amounts also
to an amazing value. Not to be compared in point of architecture to the
churches and convents of Rome, those of Naples surpass them in riches,
in the value of their jewels, and in the quantity of silver and golden
crucifixes, vessels, and implements of various kinds. I have often heard
these estimated at a sum so enormous as to surpass all credibility;
and which, as I have no opportunity of ascertaining with any degree of
precision, I shall not mention. This wealth, whatever it amounts to, is
of as little use to the kingdom, as if it still remained in the mines
of Peru; and the greater part of it, surely, affords as little comfort
to the clergy and monks as to any other part of the community; for
though it belongs to their church, or their convent, yet it can no more
be converted to the use of the priests and monks of such churches and
convents, than to the tradesmen who inhabit the adjacent streets. For
this reason I am a good deal surprised, that no pretext, or subterfuge,
has been found, no expedient fallen on, no treaty or convention made, for
appropriating part of this at least, to the use of some set of people
or other. If the clergy were to lay their hands on it, this might be
found fault with by the King; if his Majesty dreamt of taking any part
of it for the exigencies of the state, the clergy would undoubtedly
raise a clamour; and if both united, the Pope would think he had a
right to pronounce his veto; but if all these three powers could come
to an understanding, and settle their proportions, I am apt to think a
partition might be made as quietly as that of Poland.

Whatever scruples the Neapolitan clergy may have to such a project, they
certainly have none to the full enjoyment of their revenues. No class
of men can be less disposed to offend Providence by a peevish neglect
of the good things which the bounty of heaven has bestowed. Self-denial
is a virtue, which I will not say they possess in a smaller degree, but
which, I am sure, they affect less than any other ecclesiastics I know;
they live very much in society, both with the nobles and citizens. All
of them, the monks not excepted, attend the theatre, and seem to join
most cordially in other diversions and amusements; the common people are
no ways offended at this, or imagine that they ought to live in a more
recluse manner. Some of the orders have had the address to make a concern
for their temporal interest, and a desire of seeing them live full,
and in something of a jolly manner, be regarded by the common people as
a proof of zeal for religion. I am informed, that a very considerable
diminution in the number of monks has taken place in the kingdom of
Naples since the suppression of the Jesuits, and since a liberty of
quitting the cowl was granted by the late Pope; but still there is no
reason to complain of a deficiency in this order of men. The richest and
most commodious convents in Europe, both for male and female votaries,
are in this city; the most fertile and beautiful hills of the environs
are covered with them; a small part of their revenue is spent in feeding
the poor, the monks distributing bread and soup to a certain number every
day before the doors of the convents. Some of the friars study physic and
surgery, and practise these arts with great applause. Each convent has an
apothecary’s shop belonging to it, where medicines are delivered gratis
to the poor, and sold to those who can afford to pay. On all these
accounts the monks in general are greater favourites with the common
people than even the secular clergy; all the charity of the friars,
however, would not be able to cover their sins, if the stories circulated
by their enemies were true,—by which they are represented as the greatest
profligates and debauchees in the world. Without giving credit to all
that is reported on this subject, as the Neapolitan monks are very
well fed, as this climate is not the most favourable to continency (a
virtue which in this place is by no means estimated in proportion to its
rarity), it is most likely that the inhabitants of the convents, like the
inhabitants in general, indulge in certain pleasures with less scruple or
restraint than is usual in some other places. Be that as it may, it is
certain that they are the most superstitious of mankind; a turn of mind
which they communicate with equal zeal and success to a people remarkably
ignorant, and remarkably amorous. The seeds of superstition thus
zealously sown on such a warm and fertile, though uncultivated, soil,
sometimes produce the most extraordinary crops of sensuality and devotion
that ever were seen in any country.

The lazzaroni, or black-guards, as has been already observed, form
a considerable part of the inhabitants of Naples; and have, on some
well-known occasions, had the government for a short time in their own
hands. They are computed at above thirty thousand; the greater part of
them have no dwelling-houses, but sleep every night under porticos,
piazzas, or any kind of shelter they can find. Those of them who have
wives and children, live in the suburbs of Naples near Pausilippo, in
huts, or in caverns or chambers dug out of that mountain. Some gain
a livelihood by fishing, others by carrying burdens to and from the
shipping; many walk about the streets ready to run on errands, or to
perform any labour in their power for a very small recompence. As they
do not meet with constant employment, their wages are not sufficient for
their maintenance; the soup and bread distributed at the door of the
convents supply the deficiency. The lazzaroni are generally represented
as a lazy, licentious, and turbulent set of people; what I have observed
gives me a very different idea of their character. Their idleness is
evidently the effect of necessity, not of choice; they are always
ready to perform any work, however laborious, for a very reasonable
gratification. It must proceed from the fault of Government, when such a
number of stout active citizens remain unemployed; and so far are they
from being licentious and turbulent, that I cannot help thinking they are
by much too tame and submissive. Though the inhabitants of the Italian
cities were the first who shook off the feudal yoke, and though in
Naples they have long enjoyed the privilege of municipal jurisdiction,
yet the external splendour of the nobles, and the authority they still
exercise over the peasants, impose upon the minds of the lazzaroni; and
however bold and resentful they may be of injuries offered by others,
they bear the insolence of the nobility as passively as peasants fixed to
the soil. A coxcomb of a volanti tricked out in his fantastical dress,
or any of the liveried slaves of the great, make no ceremony of treating
these poor fellows with all the insolence and insensibility natural to
their matters; and for no visible reason, but because he is dressed in
lace, and the others in rags. Instead of calling to them to make way,
when the noise in the streets prevents the common people from hearing
the approach of the carriage, a stroke across the shoulders with the
cane of the running footman, is the usual warning they receive. Nothing
animates this people to insurrection, but some very pressing and very
universal cause; such as a scarcity of bread: every other grievance
they bear as if it were their charter. When we consider thirty thousand
human creatures without beds or habitations, wandering almost naked in
search of food through the streets of a well built city; when we think
of the opportunities they have of being together, of comparing their own
destitute situation with the affluence of others, one cannot help being
astonished at their patience.

Let the prince be distinguished by splendour and magnificence; let the
great and the rich have their luxuries; but, in the name of humanity, let
the poor, who are willing to labour, have food in abundance to satisfy
the cravings of nature, and raiment to defend them from the inclemencies
of the weather!

If their governors, whether from weakness or neglect, do not supply them
with these, they certainly have a right to help themselves.—Every law
of equity and common sense will justify them, in revolting against such
governors, and in satisfying their own wants from the superfluities of
lazy luxury.



LETTER LIX.


                                                                  Naples.

I have made several visits to the museum at Portici, principally, as you
may believe, to view the antiquities dug out of Herculaneum and Pompeia.
The work publishing by Government, ornamented with engravings of the
chief articles of this curious collection, will, in all probability,
be continued for many years, as new articles worthy of the sculptor’s
art are daily discovered, and as a vast mine of curiosities is supposed
to be concealed in the unopened streets of Pompeia. Among the ancient
paintings, those which ornamented the theatre of Herculaneum are more
elegant than any that have hitherto been found at Pompeia. All those
paintings were executed upon the stucco which lined the walls; they have
been sawed off with great labour and address, and are now preserved in
glass cases; the colours, we are told, were much brighter before they
were drawn out of their subterraneous abode, and exposed to the open air;
they are, however, still wonderfully lively: the subjects are understood
at the first glance by those who are acquainted with the Grecian history
and mythology. There is a Chiron teaching Achilles to play on the lyre,
Ariadne deserted, the Judgment of Paris, some Bacchantes and Fauns; the
largest piece represents Theseus’s victory over the Minotaur. It consists
of seven or eight figures very well grouped, but a Frieze, with a dancing
woman, on a black ground, not above ten inches long, is thought the best.

We ought not, however, to judge of the progress which the ancients had
made in the art of painting, by the degree of perfection which appears in
those pictures. It is not probable that the best paintings of ancient
Greece or Italy were at Herculaneum; and, if it could be ascertained
that some of the productions of the best matters were there, it would
not follow that those which have been discovered are of that class. If
a stranger were to enter at random a few houses in London, and see some
tolerably good pictures there, he could not with propriety conclude that
the best of them were the very best in London. The paintings brought
from Herculaneum are perfect proofs that the ancients had made that
progress in the art, which those pictures indicate; but do not form
even a presumption, that they had not made a much greater. It is almost
demonstrable that these paintings are not of their best. The same school
which formed the sculptor to correctness, would form the painter to
equal correctness in his drawings, however deficient he might be in all
the other parts of his art. Their best statues are correct in their
proportions, and elegant in their forms: These paintings are not correct
in their proportions, and are comparatively inelegant in their forms.

Among the statues, the drunken Faun and the Mercury are the best. There
are some fine bronze busts; the intaglios and cameos, which hitherto have
been found either in Herculaneum or Pompeia, are reckoned but indifferent.

The elegance of form, with the admirable workmanship, of the ornamental
furniture and domestic utensils, in silver and other metals; the variety
and beauty of the lamps, tripods, and vases; sufficiently testify,
if there were no other proofs, the fertile imagination and exquisite
execution of the ancient artists. And, had their own poets and historians
been quite silent concerning the Roman refinements in the art of cookery,
and the luxury of their tables; the prodigious variety of culinary
instruments, the moulds for jellies, for confections, and pastry, which
are collected in this museum, would afford a strong presumption that
the great men of our own days have a nearer resemblance to those ancient
conquerors of the world, than is generally imagined.

Many of the ancient manuscripts found at Herculaneum have been carried
to Madrid; but a great number still remain at Portici. Great pains
have been bestowed, and much ingenuity displayed, in separating and
unrolling the sheets, without destroying the writing. This has succeeded
in a certain degree; though, in spite of all the skill and attention
of those who are employed in this very delicate work, the copiers are
obliged to leave many blanks where the letters are obliterated. The
manuscripts hitherto unrolled and copied, are in the Greek language,
and not of a very important nature. As the unrolling those papers must
take up a great deal of time, and requires infinite address, it is to
be wished that his Neapolitan Majesty would send one at least to every
university in Europe, that the abilities of the most ingenious men of
every country might be exercised on a subject so universally interesting.
The method which should be found to succeed best, might be immediately
made known, and applied to the unfolding of the remaining manuscripts.
The probability of recovering those works, whose loss the learned have so
long lamented, would by this means be greatly increased.

Herculaneum and Pompeia were destroyed by the same eruption of Mount
Vesuvius, about seventeen hundred years ago. The former was a town
of much more magnificence than the other; but it is infinitely more
difficult to be cleared of the matter which covers it. Sir William
Hamilton, in his accurate and judicious observations on Mount Vesuvius,
asserts, that there are evident marks that the matter of six eruptions
has taken its course over this devoted town, since the great explosion
which involved it in the same fate with Pompeia. These different
eruptions have all happened at considerable distances of time from each
other. This appears by the layers of good soil which are found between
them. But the matter which immediately covers the town, and with which
the theatre, and all the houses hitherto examined, were found filled,
is not lava, but a sort of soft stone, composed of pumice and ashes,
intermixed with earth. This has saved the pictures, manuscripts, busts,
utensils, and other antiquities, which have been recovered out of
Herculaneum, from utter destruction. For if any of the six succeeding
eruptions had happened previous to this, and the red-hot liquid lava, of
which they consisted, had flowed into the open city, it would have filled
every street, scorched up every combustible substance with intense heat,
involving the houses, and all they contained, in one solid rock of lava,
undistinguishable, and for ever inseparable, from it. The eruption,
which buried the city in cinders, earth, and ashes, has in some measure
preserved it from the more destructive effects of the fiery torrents
which have overwhelmed it since.

When we consider that the intervals between those eruptions were
sufficiently long to allow a soil to be formed upon the hardened lava
of each; that a new city has been actually built on the lava of the
last eruption; and that the ancient city is from seventy to one hundred
feet below the present surface of the earth; we must acknowledge it
more surprising that any, than that so few, of its ornaments have been
recovered. At the beginning of the present century, any body would have
imagined that the busts, statues and pictures of Herculaneum had not a
much better chance, than the persons they represent, of appearing again,
within a few years, upon the surface of this globe.

The case is different with regard to Pompeia. Though it was not
discovered till about twenty-five years ago, which is forty years almost
after the discovery of Herculaneum, yet the probability was greatly in
favour of its being discovered sooner, for Pompeia has felt the effects
of a single eruption only; it is not buried above twelve feet below the
surface of the ground, and the earth, ashes, cinders, and pumice-stones,
with which it is covered, are so light, and so little tenacious, that
they might be removed with no great difficulty. If the attention of his
Neapolitan Majesty were not engrossed with more important concerns, he
might have the whole town uncovered in a very short space of time; half
the lazzaroni of Naples could complete the business in one year. Hitherto
only one street and a few detached buildings are cleared; the street is
well paved with the same kind of stone of which the ancient roads are
made, narrow causeways are raised a foot and an half on each side for the
conveniency of foot passengers. The street itself, to my recollection, is
not so broad as the narrowest part of the Strand, and is supposed to have
been inhabited by tradespeople. The traces of wheels of carriages are to
be seen on the pavement; the distance between the traces is less than
that between the wheels of a modern post-chaise. I remarked this the more
as, on my first viewing the street, I doubted whether there was room for
two modern coaches to pass each other. I plainly saw there was sufficient
room for two of the ancient chariots, whose wheels were of no greater
distance than between the traces on the pavement. The houses are small,
and in a very different style from the modern Italian houses; for the
former give an idea of neatness and conveniency. The stucco on the walls
is hard as marble, smooth and beautiful. Some of the rooms are ornamented
with paintings, mostly single figures, representing some animal; they
are tolerably well executed, and on a little water being thrown on them,
the colours appear surprisingly fresh.

Most of the houses are built on the same plan, and have one small room
from the passage, which is conjectured to have been the shop, with a
window to the street, and a place which seems to have been contrived for
shewing the goods to the greatest advantage. The nature of the traffic
carried on at one particular house, is indicated by a figure in alto
relievo of a very expressive kind, immediately above the door.

It is to be wished they would cover one of the best houses with a roof,
as nearly resembling that which originally belonged to it as they could
imagine, with a complete assortment of the antique furniture of the
kitchen and each particular room. Such a house fitted up with accuracy
and judgment, with all its utensils and ornaments properly arranged,
would be an object of universal curiosity, and would swell the heart of
the antiquarian with veneration and delight. Only imagine, my dear Sir,
what those gentlemen must feel, when they see the venerable habitations
of the ancients in their present mournful condition, neglected, despised,
abandoned to the peltings of rain, and all the injuries of the weather!
those precious walls, which, were it possible to transport them to the
various countries of the world, would be bought with avidity, and placed
in the gardens of Princes! How must the bosoms of all true virtuosos
glow with indignation, when they behold the mansions of the ancient
Romans stripped of their ornaments, dishonoured, and exposed, like a
parcel of ragged galley slaves, in the most indecent manner, with hardly
any covering to their nakedness; while a little paltry brick house,
coming the Lord knows how, from a country which men of taste have always
despised, has been received with hospitality, dressed in a fine coat of
the richest marble, adorned with jewels and precious stones, and treated
with every mark of honourable distinction!

In another part of the town of Pompeia, there is a rectangular building,
with a colonade, towards the court, something in the style of the Royal
Exchange at London, but smaller. This has every appearance of a barrack
and guard room; the pillars are of brick, covered with shining stucco,
elegantly fluted; the scrawlings and drawings still visible on the walls,
are such as we might naturally expect on the walls of a guard room, where
soldiers are the designers, and swords the engraving tools. They consist
of gladiators fighting, some with each other, some with wild beasts; the
games of the circus, as chariot races, wrestling, and the like; a few
figures in caricatura, designed probably by some of the soldiers, in
ridicule of their companions, or perhaps of their officers; and there
are abundance of names inscribed on various parts of the wall, according
to the universal custom of the humblest candidates for fame in all ages
and countries. It may be safely asserted, that none of those who have
endeavoured to transmit their names to posterity in this manner, have
succeeded so well as the soldiers of the garrison of Pompeia.

At a considerable distance from the barrack, is a building, known by the
inscription upon it, for a temple of the goddess Isis; there is nothing
very magnificent in its appearance; the pillars are of brick stuccoed
like those of the guard room. The best paintings, hitherto found at
Pompeia, are those of this temple; they have been cut out of the walls
and removed to Portici. It was absolutely necessary to do this with
the pictures at Herculaneum, because _there_ they could not be seen
without the help of torches; but _here_, where they could be seen by
the light of the Sun, they would, in my humble opinion, have appeared to
more advantage, and have had a better effect in the identical situation
in which they were placed by the ancient artist. A few still remain,
particularly one, which is considered by travellers as a great curiosity;
it is a small view of a villa, with the gardens belonging to it.

There is one house or villa without the walls, on a much larger
scale than any of the others. In a large cellar, or vaulted gallery,
belonging to this house, there are a number of amphoræ, or earthen
vessels, arranged along the walls; most of them filled with a kind of
red substance, supposed to have been wine. This cellar is sunk about
two-thirds below the surface of the ground, and is lighted by small
narrow windows. I have called it gallery, because it is about twelve feet
in width, and is the whole length of two adjoining sides of the square
which the villa forms. It was used not only as a repository for wine,
but also as a cool retreat for the family during excessive hot weather.
Some of this unfortunate family sought shelter in this place from the
destructive shower which overwhelmed the town. Eight skeletons, four
being those of children, were found here; where they must have met a more
cruel and lingering death, than that which they shunned. In one room,
the body of a man was found; with an ax in the hand; it is probable he
had been endeavouring to cut a passage into the open air; he had broken
and pierced the wall, but had expired before he could clear away the
surrounding rubbish. Few skeletons were found in the streets, but a
considerable number in the houses. Before the decisive shower fell, which
smothered the inhabitants of this ill fated city, perhaps such quantities
of ashes and cinders were occasionally falling, as frightened, and
obliged them to keep within doors.

It is impossible to view those skeletons, and reflect on this dreadful
catastrophe, without horror and compassion. We cannot think of the
inhabitants of a whole town being destroyed at once, without imagining
that their fate has been uncommonly severe. But are not the inhabitants
of all the towns then existing, of whom we think without any emotion of
pity, as completely dead as those of Pompeia? And could we take them one
by one, and consider the nature of their deaths, and the circumstances
attending that of each individual; some destroyed by painful bodily
diseases, some by the torture of the executioner, some bowed to the
grave by the weight of accumulated sorrow, and the slow anguish of a
broken heart, after having suffered the pangs of dissolution, over and
over again, in the death of those they loved, after having beheld the
dying agonies of their children; could all this, I say, be appraised,
calculated, and compared, the balance of suffering might not be
found with the inhabitants of Pompeia, but rather with those of the
contemporary cities, who, perhaps at that time, as we do now, lamented
its severe fate.



LETTER LX.


                                                                  Naples.

As I sauntered along the Strada Nuova lately, I perceived a groupe of
people listening, with much attention, to a person who harangued them
in a raised, solemn voice, and with great gesticulation. I immediately
made one of the auditory, which increased every moment; men, women, and
children bringing seats from the neighbouring houses, on which they
placed themselves around the orator. He repeated stanzas from Ariosto,
in a pompous, recitativo cadence, peculiar to the natives of Italy;
and he had a book in his hand, to assist his memory when it failed. He
made occasional commentaries in prose, by way of bringing the Poet’s
expression nearer to the level of his hearers’ capacities. His cloak
hung loose from one shoulder; his right arm was disengaged, for the
purposes of oratory. Sometimes he waved it with a slow, smooth motion,
which accorded with the cadence of the verses; sometimes he pressed it to
his breast, to give energy to the pathetic sentiments of the Poet. Now
he gathered the hanging folds of the right side of his cloak, and held
them gracefully up, in imitation of a Roman senator; and anon he swung
them across his left shoulder, like a citizen of Naples. He humoured the
stanza by his voice, which he could modulate to the key of any passion,
from the boisterous bursts of rage, to the soft notes of pity or love.
But, when he came to describe the exploits of Orlando, he trusted neither
to the powers of his own voice, nor the Poet’s genius; but, throwing
off his cloak, and grasping his cane, he assumed the warlike attitude
and stern countenance of that hero; representing, by the most animated
action, how he drove his spear through the bodies of six of his enemies
at once; the point at the same time killing a seventh, who would also
have remained transfixed with his companions, if the spear could have
held more than six men of an ordinary size upon it at a time.

    Il Cavalier d’ Anglante ove pui spesse
    Vide le genti e l’arme, abbasso l’asta,
    Ed uno in quella, e poscia un altro messe
    E un altro, e un altro, che sembrar di pasta,
    E fino a sei ve n’infilzò, e li resse
    Tutti una lancia; e perche’ ella non basta
    A piu Capir, lasciò il settimo fuore
    Ferito si che di quel colpo muore.

This stanza our declaimer had no occasion to comment upon, as Ariosto
has thought fit to illustrate it in a manner which seemed highly to the
taste of this audience. For, in the verse immediately following, Orlando
is compared to a man killing frogs in marshy ground, with a bow and arrow
made for that purpose; an amusement very common in Italy, and still more
so in France.

    Non altrimente nell’ estrema arena
    Veggiam le rane de’ canali e fosse
    Dal cauto arcier ne i fianchi, e nella schiena
    L’una vicina all’ altera esser percosse,
    Ne dalla freccia, fin che tutta piena
    Non sia da un capo all’ altero esser rimosse.

I must however do this audience the justice to acknowledge, that they
seemed to feel the pathetic and sublime, as well as the ludicrous, parts
of the ancient Bard.

This practice of rehearsing the verses of Ariosto, Tasso, and other
poets, in the street, I have not observed in any other town of Italy;
and I am told it is less common here than it was formerly. I remember
indeed, at Venice, to have frequently seen mountebanks, who gained their
livelihood by amusing the populace at St. Mark’s Place, with wonderful
and romantic stories in prose.—“Listen, Gentlemen,” said one of them;
“let me crave your attention, ye beautiful and virtuous ladies; I have
something equally affecting and wonderful to tell you; a strange and
stupendous adventure, which happened to a gallant knight.”—Perceiving
that this did not sufficiently interest the hearers, he exalted his
voice, calling out that his Knight was uno Cavalliero Cristiano. The
audience seemed still a little fluctuating. He raised his voice a note
higher, telling them that this Christian Knight was one of their own
victorious countrymen, “un’ Eroe Veneziano.” This fixed them; and he
proceeded to relate how the Knight, going to join the Christian army,
which was on its march to recover the Sepulchre of Christ from the hands
of the Infidels, lost his way in a vast wood, and wandered at length to
a castle, in which a lady of transcendent beauty was kept prisoner by
a gigantic Saracen, who, having failed in all his endeavours to gain
the heart of this peerless damsel, resolved to gratify his passion by
force; and had actually begun the horrid attempt, when the shrieks of
this chaste maiden reached the ears of the Venetian hero; who, ever ready
to relieve virgins in distress, rushed into the apartment from whence
the cries issued. The brutal ravisher, alarmed at the noise, quits the
struggling lady, at the very instant when her strength began to fail;
draws his flaming sword; and a dreadful combat begins between him and
the Christian Knight, who performs miracles of courage and address in
resisting the blows of this mighty giant; till, his foot unfortunately
slipping in the blood which flowed on the pavement, he fell at the feet
of the Saracen; who, immediately seizing the advantage which chance gave
him, raised his sword with all his might, and—Here the orator’s hat flew
to the ground, open to receive the contributions of the listeners; and
he continued repeating, “raised his sword over the head of the Christian
Knight”—“raised his bloody, murderous brand, to destroy your noble,
valiant countryman.”—But he proceeded no farther in his narrative, till
all who seemed interested in it had thrown something into the hat. He
then pocketed the money with great gravity, and went on to inform
them, that, at this critical moment, the Lady, seeing the danger which
threatened her deliverer, redoubled her prayers to the Blessed Mary, who,
a virgin herself, is peculiarly attentive and propitious to the prayers
of virgins. Just as the Saracen’s sword was descending on the head of
the Venetian, a large bee flew, quick as thought, in at the window,
stung the former very smartly on the left temple, diverted the blow,
and gave the Christian Knight time to recover himself. The fight then
recommenced with fresh fury; but, after the Virgin Mary had taken such
a decided part, you may believe it was no match. The Infidel soon fell
dead at the feet of the Believer. But who do you think this beauteous
maiden was, on whose account the combat had begun? Why no other than the
sister of the Venetian Hero.—This young lady had been stolen from her
father’s house, while she was yet a child, by an Armenian merchant, who
dealt in no other goods than women. He concealed the child till he found
means to carry her to Egypt; where he kept her in bondage, with other
young girls, till the age of fifteen, and then sold her to the Saracen.
I do not exactly remember whether the recognition between the brother
and sister was made out by means of a mole on the young lady’s neck, or
by a bracelet on her arm, which, with some other of her mother’s jewels,
happened to be in her pocket when she was stolen; but, in whatever manner
this came about, there was the greatest joy on the happy occasion; and
the lady joined the army with her brother, and one of the Christian
commanders fell in love with her, and their nuptials were solemnized at
Jerusalem; and they returned to Venice, and had a very numerous family of
the finest children you ever beheld.

At Rome, those street-orators sometimes entertain their audience with
interesting passages of real history. I remember having heard one, in
particular, give a full and true account how the bloody heathen emperor
Nero set fire to the city of Rome, and sat at a window of his golden
palace, playing on a harp, while the town was in flames. After which the
Historian proceeded to relate, how this unnatural emperor murdered his
own mother; and he concluded by giving the audience the satisfaction
of hearing a particular detail of all the ignominious circumstances
attending the murderer’s own death.

This business of street-oratory, while it amuses the populace, and keeps
them from less innocent and more expensive pastimes, gives them at the
same time some general ideas of history. Street-orators, therefore, are
a more useful set of men than another class, of which there are numbers
at Rome, who entertain companies with extemporaneous verses on any given
subject. The last are called Improuvisatoris; and some people admire
these performances greatly. For my own part, I am too poor a judge of the
Italian language either to admire or condemn them; but, from the nature
of the thing, I should imagine they are but indifferent. It is said,
that the Italian is peculiarly calculated for poetry, and that verses
may be made with more facility in this than in any other language. It
may be more easy to find smooth lines, and make them terminate in rhime
in Italian, than in any language; but to compose verses with all the
qualities essential to good poetry, I imagine leisure and long reflection
are requisite. Indeed I understand, from those who are judges, that those
extempore compositions of the Improuvisatori are in general but mean
productions, consisting of a few fulsome compliments to the company, and
some common-place observations, put into rhime, on the subject proposed.
There is, however, a lady of an amiable character, Signora Corilla, whose
extempore productions, which she repeats in the most graceful manner,
are admired by people of real taste. While we were at Rome, this lady
made an appearance one evening, at the assembly of the Arcadi, which
charmed a very numerous company; and of which our friend Mr. R—y has
given me such an account, as makes me regret that I was not present.
After much entreaty, a subject being given, she began, accompanied by
two violins, and sung her unpremeditated strains with great variety of
thought and elegance of language. The whole of her performance lasted
above an hour, with three or four pauses, of about five minutes each,
which seemed necessary, more that she might recover her strength and
voice, than for recollection; for that gentleman said, that nothing could
have more the air of inspiration, or what we are told of the Pythian
Prophetess. At her first setting out, her manner was sedate, or rather
cold; but gradually becoming animated, her voice rose, her eyes sparkled,
and the rapidity and beauty of her expressions and ideas seemed
supernatural. She at last called on another member of the society to
sing alternately with her, which he complied with; but Mr. R——y thought,
though they were _Arcades ambo_, they were by no means _cantare pares_.

Naples is celebrated for the finest opera in Europe. This however happens
not to be the season of performing; but the common people enjoy _their_
operas at all seasons. Little concerts of vocal and instrumental music
are heard every evening in the Strada Nuova, the Chiaca, the Strada di
Toledo, and other streets; and young men and women are seen dancing to
the music of ambulatory performers all along this delightful bay. To a
mere spectator, the amusements of the common people afford more delight,
than those of the great; because they seem to be more enjoyed by the
one class, than by the other. This is the case every where, except in
France; where the high appear as happy as those of middle rank, and the
rich are very near as merry as the poor. But, in most other countries,
the people of great rank and fortune, though they flock to every kind of
entertainment, from not knowing what to do with themselves, yet seem to
enjoy them less than those of inferior rank and fortune.

The English particularly are said to be in this predicament. This may
be true in some degree; though I imagine there is more appearance than
reality in it; owing to an absurd affectation of indifference, or what
the French call _nonchalance_, which has prevailed of late years. A few
insipid characters in high life, whose internal vacancy leads them to
seek amusement in public places, and whose insensibility prevents them
from finding it, have probably brought this appearance of a want of all
enjoyment into fashion. Those who wish to be thought of what is called
the _ton_, imitate the mawkish insipidity of their superiors in rank,
and imagine it distinguishes them from the vulgar, to suppress all the
natural expressions of pity, joy, or admiration, and to seem, upon
all occasions, in a state of complete apathy. Those amiable creatures
frequent public places, that it may be said of them, _They are not as
other men are_. You will see them occasionally at the playhouse, placed
in the boxes, like so many busts, with unchanging features; and, while
the rest of the audience yield to the emotions excited by the poet and
the actors, those men of the _ton_ preserve the most dignified serenity
of countenance; and, except that they from time to time pronounce
the words _Pshaw!_ and _Stuff!_—one would think them the express
representatives of the Pagan gods, who _have eyes but do not see, and
ears but do not hear_.

I know not what may be the case at the opera; but I can assure you there
are none of those busts among the auditories which the street-performers
at Naples gather around them. I saw very lately a large cluster of men,
women, and children, entertained to the highest degree, and to all
appearance made exceedingly happy, by a poor fellow with a mask on his
face, and a guitar in his hands. He assembled his audience by the songs
he sung to the music of his instrument, and by a thousand merry stories
he told them with infinite drollery. This assembly was in an open place,
facing the bay, and near the palace. The old women sat listening, with
their distaffs, spinning a kind of coarse flax, and wetting the thread
with their spittle; their grandchildren sprawled at their feet, amused
with the twirling of the spindle. The men and their wives, the youths
and their mistresses, sat in a circle, with their eyes fixed on the
musician, who kept them laughing for a great part of the evening with his
stories, which he enlivened occasionally with tunes upon the guitar. At
length, when the company was most numerous, and at the highest pitch of
good humour, he suddenly pulled off his mask, laid down his guitar, and
opened a little box which stood before him, and addressed the audience
in the following words, as literally as I can translate them:—“Ladies
and gentlemen, there is a time for all things; we have had enough of
jesting; innocent mirth is excellent for the health of the body, but
other things are requisite for the health of the soul. I will now, with
your permission, my honourable masters and mistresses, entertain you
with something serious, and of infinitely greater importance; something
for which all of you will have reason to bless me as long as you live.”
Here he shook out of a bag a great number of little leaden crucifixes.—“I
am just come from the Holy House of Loretto, my fellow christians,”
continued he, “on purpose to furnish you with those jewels, more
precious than all the gold of Peru, and all the pearls of the ocean. Now,
my beloved brethren and sisters, you are afraid that I shall demand a
price for those sacred crosses, far above your abilities, and something
correspondent with their value, by way of indemnification for the fatigue
and expence of the long journey which I have made on your account, all
the way from the habitation of the Blessed Virgin to this thrice renowned
city of Naples, the riches and liberality of whose inhabitants are
celebrated all over the globe. No, my generous Neapolitans; I do not wish
to take the advantage of your pious and liberal dispositions, I will not
ask for those invaluable crucifixes (all of which, let me inform you,
have touched the soot of the holy image of the Blessed Virgin, which was
formed by the hands of St. Luke; and, moreover, each of them has been
shaken in the Santissima Scodella, the sacred porringer in which the
Virgin made the pap for the infant Jesus); I will not, I say, ask an
ounce of gold, no not even a crown of silver; my regard for you is such,
that I shall let you have them for a penny a piece.”

You must acknowledge, my friend, that this morsel of eloquence was a
very great pennyworth; and when we recollect the sums that some of our
acquaintance receive for their oratory, though they never could produce
so pathetic a specimen, you will naturally conclude that eloquence is a
much rarer commodity in England than in Italy.



LETTER LXI.


                                                                  Naples.

I have made two visits to Mount Vesuvius, the first in company with
your acquaintance Mr. N——t. Leaving the carriage at Herculaneum, we
mounted mules, and were attended by three men, whose business it is
to accompany strangers up the mountain. Being arrived at a hermitage,
called Il Salvatore, we found the road so broken and rough, that we
thought proper to leave the mules at that place, which is inhabited by
a French hermit. The poor man must have a very bad opinion of mankind,
to choose the mouth of Mount Vesuvius for his nearest neighbour, in
preference to their society. From the hermitage we walked over various
fields of lava, which have burst out at different periods. These seemed
to be perfectly well known to our guides, who mentioned their different
dates as we passed. The latest appeared, before we left Rome, about two
months ago; it was, however, but inconsiderable in comparison of other
eruptions, there having been no bursting of the crater, or of the side
of the mountain, as in the eruption of 1767, so well described by Sir
William Hamilton; but only a boiling over of lava from the mouth of the
volcano, and that not in excessive quantity; for it had done no damage
to the vineyards or cultivated parts of the mountain, having reached no
farther than the old black lava on which soil had not as yet been formed.
I was surprised to see this lava of the last eruption still smoking, and
in some places, where a considerable quantity was confined in a kind
of deep path like a dry ditch, and shaded from the light of the Sun,
it appeared of a glowing red colour. In other places, notwithstanding
its being perfectly black and solid, it still retained such a degree
of heat, that we could not stand upon it for any considerable time, but
were obliged very frequently to step on the ground, or on older lava, to
cool our feet. We had advanced a good way on a large piece of the latest
lava, which was perfectly black and hard, and seemed cooler than the
rest; while from this we looked at a stream of liquid lava, which flowed
sluggishly along a hollow way at some distance. I accidentally threw my
eyes below my feet, and perceived something, which mightily discomposed
my contemplations. This was a small stream of the same matter, gliding
to one side from beneath the black crust on which we stood. The idea of
this crust giving way, and our sinking into the glowing liquid which it
covered, made us shift our ground with great precipitation; which one
of our guides observing, he called out, “Animo, animo, Signori;” and
immediately jumped on the incrustation which we had abandoned, and danced
above it, to shew that it was sufficiently strong, and that we had no
reason to be afraid. We afterwards threw large stones of the heaviest
kind we could find, into this rivulet, on whose surface they floated like
cork in water; and on thrusting a stick into the stream, it required a
considerable exertion of strength to make it enter. About this time the
day began to overcast; this destroyed our hopes of enjoying the view from
the top of the mountain, and we were not tempted to ascend any farther.

Some time after, I went to the summit with another party;—but I think
it fair to inform you, that I have nothing new to say on the subject of
volcanos, nor any philosophical remarks to make upon lavas. I have no
guess of what time may be necessary for the formation of soil, nor do I
know whether it accumulates in a regular progression, or is accelerated
or retarded by various accidents, which may lead us into infinite errors,
when we calculate time by such a rule. I have not the smallest wish to
insinuate that the world is an hour older than Moses makes it; because
I imagine those gentlemen whose calculations differ from his, are very
nearly as liable to be mistaken as he was; because an attempt to prove it
more ancient, can be no service to mankind; and finally, because, unless
it could at the same time be proved that the world has acquired wisdom in
proportion to its years, such an attempt conveys an oblique reflection
on its character; for many follies may be overlooked and forgiven to a
world of only five or six thousand years of age, which would be quite
unpardonable at a more advanced period of existence. Having forewarned
you that I shall treat of none of those matters, but simply describe what
I saw, and mention perhaps a few incidents, none of which, I confess, are
of great importance, I leave it in your choice to ascend the mountain
with me, or not, as you please.

Having proceeded on mules as far as on the former occasion, we walked to
that part of the mountain which is almost perpendicular. This appears
of no great height, yet those who have never before attempted this
ascent, fatigue themselves here much more than during all the rest of
the journey, notwithstanding their being assisted by laying hold of the
belts which the guides wear about their waists for that purpose. This
part of the mountain appearing much shorter than it really is, people are
tempted to make a violent effort, in the expectation of surmounting the
difficulty at once; but the cinders, ashes, and other drossy materials,
giving way, the foot generally sinks back two-thirds of each step; so
that besides the height being greater than it appears, you have all the
fatigue of ascending a hill three times as high as this is in reality.
Those, therefore, who set out too briskly at first, and do not husband
their strength at the beginning, have reason to repent their imprudence,
being obliged to throw many a longing look, and make many a fruitless
vow, before they, with the wretched guide who lugs them along, can
arrive, panting and breathless, at the top; like those young men who,
having wasted their vigour in early excesses, and brought on premature
old age, link themselves to some ill-fated woman, who drags them,
tormenting and tormented, to the grave.

Those who wish to view Mount Vesuvius to the greatest advantage, must
begin their expedition in the evening; and the darker the succeeding
night happens to be, so much the better. By the time our company had
arrived at the top of the mountain, there was hardly any other light than
that which issued by interrupted flashes from the volcano.

Exclusive of those periods when there are actual eruptions, the
appearance and quantity of what issues from the mountain are very
various; sometimes, for a long space of time together, it seems in a
state of almost perfect tranquillity; nothing but a small quantity of
smoke ascending from the volcano, as if that vast magazine of fuel, which
has kept it alive for so many ages, was at last exhausted, and nothing
remained but the dying embers; then, perhaps, when least expected, the
cloud of smoke thickens, and is intermixed with flame; at other times,
quantities of pumice stone and ashes are thrown up with a kind of hissing
noise. For near a week the mountain has been more turbulent than at any
time since the small eruption, or rather boiling over of lava, which
took place about two months ago; and while we remained at the top,
the explosions were of sufficient importance to satisfy our curiosity
to the utmost. They appeared much more considerable there than we had
imagined while at a greater distance; each of them was preceded by a
noise like thunder within the mountain; a column of thick black smoke
then issued out with great rapidity, followed by a blaze of flame; and
immediately after, a shower of cinders and ashes, or red hot stones,
were thrown into the sky. This was succeeded by a calm of a few minutes,
during which nothing issued but a moderate quantity of smoke and flame,
which gradually increased, and terminated in thunder and explosion as
before. These accesses and intervals continued with varied force while we
remained.

When we first arrived, our guides placed us at a reasonable distance
from the mouth of the volcano, and on the side from which the wind came,
so that we were no way incommoded by the smoke. In this situation the
wind also bore to the opposite side the cinders, ashes, and other fiery
substances, which were thrown up; and we ran no danger of being hurt,
except when the explosion was very violent, and when red hot stones, and
such heavy substances, were thrown like sky-rockets, with a great noise
and prodigious force, into the air; and even these make such a flaming
appearance, and take so much time in descending, that they are easily
avoided.

Mr. Brydone, in his admirable account of Mount Ætna, tells us, he was
informed, that, in an eruption of that mountain, large rocks of fire were
discharged, with a noise much more terrible than that of thunder; that
the person who informed him, reckoned from the time of their greatest
elevation till they reached the ground, and found they took twenty-one
seconds to descend; from whence he concludes their elevation had been
seven thousand feet. This unquestionably required a power of projection
far superior to what Vesuvius has been known to exert. He himself
measured the height of the explosions of the latter by the same rule; and
the stones thrown the highest, never took above nine seconds to descend;
which, by the same method of calculating, shews they had risen to little
more than twelve hundred feet.—A pretty tolerable height, and might
have satisfied the ambition of Vesuvius, if the stones of Ætna had not
been said to have mounted so much higher. But before such an excessive
superiority is granted to the latter, those who are acquainted with Mr.
Brydone will recollect, that they have his own authority for the one
fact, and that of another person for the other.

After having remained some time at the place where they were posted by
the guides, our company grew bolder, as they became more familiarised
to the object. Some made the circuit of the volcano, and by that means
increased the risque of being wounded by the stones thrown out. Your
young friend Jack was a good deal hurt by a fall, as he ran to avoid
a large portion of some fiery substance, which seemed to be falling
directly on his head.

Considering the rash and frolicsome disposition of some who visit this
mountain, it is very remarkable that so few fatal accidents happen.
I have heard of young English gentlemen betting, who should venture
farthest, or remain longest, near the mouth of the Volcano. A very
dreadful event had nearly taken place while our company remained. The
bank, if it may be so called, on which some of them had stood when they
looked into the Volcano, actually fell in before we left the summit of
the mountain. This made an impression on all present, and inclined them
to abandon so treacherous a neighbourhood. The steep hill of dross and
cinders, which we had found it so difficult to ascend, we descended in a
twinkling; but, as the night was uncommonly dark, we had much trouble in
passing over the rough valley between that and the Hermitage, near which
the mules waited. I ought to be ashamed, however, to mention the fatigue
of this expedition; for two ladies, natives of Geneva, formed part of
the company. One of them, big with child, accompanied her husband as far
as the Hermitage, and was then with difficulty persuaded to go back; the
other actually went to the summit, and returned with the rest of the
company.

Before we set out for Naples, we were refreshed, at a little inn at
the bottom of the mountain, with some glasses of a very generous and
palatable wine, called _Lachrima Christi_; and experienced the truth
of what an Italian Poet observed, that the effects of this wine form a
strong contrast with its name:

    Chi fu, de Contadini il più indiscreto,
      Che à sbigottir la gente,
      Diede nome dolente,
    Al vin, che sopra ogn’ altro il cuor fà lieto?
    Lachrima dunque appellarassi un’ riso,
    Parto di nobilissima vindemia.



LETTER LXII.


                                                                  Naples.

Your account of our Friend’s state of health gives me much concern; the
more, as I cannot approve the change he has made of a physician. You say,
the doctor, under whose care he is at present, has employed his mind so
entirely in medical researches, that he scarcely displays a grain of
common sense, when the conversation turns on any other subject; and that,
although he seems opinionative, vain, and ostentatious in his profession,
and full of false and absurd ideas in the common affairs of life, yet
he is a very able physician, and has performed many wonderful cures. Be
assured, my dear Sir, that this is impossible; for medical skill is not
like the rod of an inchanter, which may be found accidentally, and which
transfers its miraculous powers indiscriminately to a blockhead or a man
of sense. The number of weak, gossipping men, who have made fortunes by
this profession, do not prove the contrary. I do not say that men of that
kind cannot make fortunes; I only assert they are not the most likely to
cure diseases. An interest with apothecaries, nurses, and a few talkative
old ladies, will enable them to do the first; but a clear understanding,
and a considerable share of natural sagacity, are qualities essentially
necessary for the second, and for every business which requires
reflection. Without these, false inferences will be drawn from experience
itself; and learning will tend to confirm a man in his errors, and to
render him more completely a coxcomb.

The profession of physic is that, of all others, in which the generality
of mankind have the fewest lights, by which they can discern the
abilities of its professors; because the studies which lead to it are
more out of the road of usual education, and the practice more enveloped
in technical terms and hieroglyphical signs. But I imagine the safest
criterion by which men, who have not been bred to that profession,
can form a judgment of those who have, is, the degree of sagacity and
penetration they discover on subjects equally open to mankind in general,
and which ought to be understood by all who live in society. You do not
mention particularly what has been prescribed by either; only that the
former physician seemed to rely almost entirely on exercise and regimen,
whereas the present flatters our friend with a speedy cure, by the help
of the Pectoral and Balsamic medicines which he orders in such abundance,
and which he declares are so efficacious in _pulmonary consumptions_.

Having lamented with you the mournful events which render the name of
that disease peculiarly alarming to you, and knowing your friendly
solicitude about Mr. ——, I do not wonder at your earnest desire to know
something of the nature of a distemper with which he is threatened, and
which has proved fatal to so many of our friends. But I am surprised
that you have not chosen a more enlightened instructor, when you have so
many around you. Though conscious that I have no just claim to all the
obliging expressions which your partiality to my opinions has prompted
you to make use of, yet I am too much flattered by some of them, to
refuse complying with your request. My sentiments, such as they are, will
at least have the merit of being clearly understood. I shall observe your
prohibition, not to refer you to any medical book; and shall carefully
avoid all technical terms, which you so much abominate. With regard to
your shewing my Letter to any of the faculty; if you find yourself so
inclined, I have not the smallest objection; for those who have the
greatest knowledge in their profession, are best acquainted with its
uncertainty, and most indulgent to the mistakes or errors of others.

Alas, my friend! how is it possible that physicians should avoid
mistakes? If the ablest mechanic were to attempt to remedy the irregular
movements of a watch, while he remained ignorant of the structure and
manner of acting of some of the principal springs, would he not be in
danger of doing harm instead of good? Physicians are in the situation
of such a mechanic; for, although it is evident that the nerves are
the organs of motion and sensation, yet their structure is not known.
Some anatomists assert they are impervious cords; others, that they are
slender tubes, containing a fluid. But what the nature of this fluid is;
whether it serves only to nourish the nerves themselves, or is the medium
by which they convey feeling and the power of motion to other parts, is
not ascertained even by those who argue for its existence; far less
is it explained in what manner ideas, formed within the brain, can, by
the means of solid cords, or by a fluid contained in tubes, communicate
motion at pleasure to the legs and arms. We are ignorant why the will,
which has no influence over the motion of an animal’s heart, should find
the feet obedient to her dictates; and we can no more explain how a man
can move one leg over the other by volition, or the mere act of willing,
than how he could, by the same means, move Ossa on the top of Olympus.
The one happens every moment, the other would be considered as a miracle;
but they are equally unaccountable. While parts so infinitely essential
to life are not understood, instead of being surprised that so many
diseases baffle the skill of the physician, we have more reason to be
astonished that any can be alleviated or cured by his art.

The pen of the satirist, no doubt, may be fairly aimed against the
presumption and ignorance of many individuals of this, as of every other
profession; but cannot with justice be directed against the art itself:
since, in spite of the obscurity which still involves some parts of the
animal economy, many disorders are relieved, and some of the severest
and most disagreeable to which the human body is liable, are cured with
certainty by the art of medicine.

Unfortunately for mankind, and in a particular manner for the inhabitants
of Great Britain, the pulmonary consumption is not of the number.

This disease may originate from various causes:

1st. An external bruise or wound.

2d. The disease called pleurisy, including in that term an inflammation
of the lungs themselves, as well as the membrane which covers them.

3d. The bursting of some of the blood-vessels of the lungs, independent
of external injury, and owing to a faulty conformation of the chest, and
the slenderness of the vessels.

4th. Certain small tumours, called tubercles, in the lungs.

The first cause I have mentioned is an external bruise or wound.

An accident of that kind happening to the lungs, is more dangerous and
difficult to cure, than when the same takes place in most other parts
of the body; because the lungs are vital organs, essentially necessary
to life, and when their motion is impaired, other animal functions are
thereby injured; because they are of an uncommonly delicate texture, in
which a rupture having once taken place, will be apt to increase; because
they are in constant motion and exposed to the access of external air,
both of which circumstances are unfavourable to the healing of wounds,
and because the mass of blood distributed to the whole body passes
previously through the lungs, and consequently the blood-vessels of this
organ are more numerous than those of any other part of the body.

When we consider these peculiarities, it is natural to conclude, that
every wound of the lungs must necessarily prove mortal; but experience
has taught the contrary. Many wounds of the lungs heal of themselves, by
what is called, the first intention. The physician may prevent a fever,
by ordering the patient to lose blood in proper quantities, and he may
regulate the diet; but the cure must be left to nature, which she will
perform with greater certainty, if she is not disturbed by any of those
balsams which the wounded are sometimes directed to swallow on such
occasions. But when the wound, either from injudicious treatment, or from
its size, or from the bad habit of the patient, degenerates into an ulcer
attended with hectic symptoms, the disease must be treated as if it had
arisen from any of the other causes.

The pleurisy, or inflammation of the lungs, is a disease more frequent in
cold countries than in mild; in the spring than in the other seasons; and
more apt to seize people of a sanguine constitution than others.

Plentiful and repeated bleedings, fomentations, blisters near the
affected part, and a cooling, diluting regimen, generally remove it,
without its leaving any bad consequence. Sometimes, by the omission of
bleeding in due quantity at the beginning, and sometimes in spite of
all possible care, it terminates in an abscess, which, on bursting, may
suffocate the patient; or, if the matter is coughed up, becomes an open
ulcer, and produces the disease in question.

The third cause of the pulmonary consumption above mentioned, is,
a spitting of blood, from the bursting of vessels of the lungs,
independent of external wound or bruise. People of a fair complexion,
delicate skin, slender make, long neck, and narrow chest, are more
subject to this than others. Those who have a predisposition to this
complaint, by their form, are most apt to be attacked after their full
growth: women from fifteen to three-and-thirty; men two or three years
later. In Great Britain, a spitting of blood generally occurs to those
predisposed to it, in the spring, or beginning of summer, when the
weather suddenly changes from cold to excessive hot; and when the heat
is supposed to rarify the blood, before the solids are proportionably
relaxed from the contracted state they acquire during the cold of
winter. When a spitting of blood happens to a person who has actually
lost brothers or sisters, or other near relations, by the pulmonary
consumption, as that circumstance gives reason to suspect a family taint
or predisposition, the case will, on that account, be more dangerous.

Violent exercise may occasion the rupture of blood-vessels in the lungs,
even in those who have no hereditary disposition to such an accident;
it ought therefore to be carefully avoided by all who have. Violent
exercise, in the spring, is more dangerous than in other seasons; and,
when taken at the top of high mountains, by those who do not usually
reside there, it has been considered as more dangerous than in vallies.
The sudden diminution of the weight of the atmosphere, co-operating with
the exercise, renders the vessels more apt to break. Of all things the
most pernicious to people predisposed to a spitting of blood, is, playing
upon wind-instruments. Previous to the spitting of blood, some perceive
an uneasiness in the chest, an oppression on the breath, and a saltish
taste in the spittle; but these symptoms are not constant.

Nothing can be more insidious than the approaches of this disease
sometimes are. The substance of the lungs, which is so full of
blood-vessels, is not supplied so liberally with nerves; the lungs,
therefore, may be materially affected, before danger is indicated by
acute pain. And it sometimes happens, that people of the make above
described are, in the bloom of life, and generally in the spring of the
year, seized with a slight cough, which gradually increases, without
pain, soreness in the breast, difficulty of respiration, or spitting of
blood. A slow fever supervenes every night, which remits every morning,
with sweats. These symptoms augment daily; and, in spite of early
attention, and what is thought the best advice, the unsuspecting victims
gradually sink into their graves.

Those who by their make, or by the disease having in former instances
appeared in their family, are predisposed to this complaint, ought to
be peculiarly attentive in the article of diet. A spare and cooling
regimen is the best. They should avoid violent exercise, and every other
exciting cause; and use the precaution of losing blood in the spring.
If their circumstances permit, they ought to pass the cold months in a
mild climate; but, if they are obliged to remain during the winter in
Great Britain, let them wear flannel next the skin, and use every other
precaution against catching colds.

The fourth cause above enumerated is, tubercles in the lungs.

The moist, soggy, and changeable weather, which prevails in Great
Britain, renders its inhabitants more liable, than those of milder
and more uniform climates, to catarrhs, rheumatisms, pleurisies, and
other diseases proceeding from obstructed perspiration. The same cause
subjects the inhabitants of Great Britain to obstructions of the glands,
scrophulous complaints, and tubercles in the substance of the lungs.
The scrophulous disease is more frequent than is generally imagined.
For one person in whom it appears by swellings in the glands below the
chin, and other external marks, many have the internal glands affected
by it. This is well known to those who are accustomed to open dead
bodies. On examining the bodies of such as have died of the pulmonary
consumption, besides the open ulcers in the lungs, many little hard
tumours or tubercles are generally found; some, with matter; others, on
being cut open, discover a little blueish spot, of the size of a small
lead shot. Here the suppuration, or formation of matter, is just going
to begin; and in some the tubercle is perfectly hard, and the colour
whitish, throughout its whole substance. Tubercles may remain for a
considerable time in the lungs, in this indolent state, without much
inconveniency; but, when excited to inflammation by frequent catarrhs,
or other irritating causes, matter is formed, they break, and produce
an ulcer. Care and attention may prevent tubercles from inflammation,
or may prevent _that_ from terminating in the formation of matter; but
when matter is actually formed, and the tubercle has become an abscess,
no remedy can stop its progress. It must go on till it bursts. If this
happens near any of the large air-vessels, immediate suffocation may
ensue; but, for the most part, the matter is coughed up.

From the circumstances above enumerated of the delicate texture,
constant motion, and numerous blood-vessels of the lungs, it is natural
to imagine, that a breach of this nature in their substance will be
still more difficult to heal than a wound from an external cause. So
unquestionably it is; yet there are many instances of even this kind of
breach being repaired; the matter expectorated diminishing in quantity
every day, and the ulcer gradually healing; not, surely, by the power of
medicine, but by the constant disposition and tendency which exists in
nature, by inscrutable means of her own, to restore health to the human
body.

It may be proper to observe, that those persons whose formation of body
renders them most liable to a spitting of blood, have also a greater
predisposition than others to tubercles in the lungs. The disease, called
the spasmodic asthma, has been reckoned among the causes of the pulmonary
consumption. It would require a much greater degree of confidence in a
man’s own judgment, than I have in mine, to assert, that this complaint
has no tendency to produce tubercles in the lungs; but I may say, with
truth, that I have often known the spasmodic asthma, in the most violent
degree, attended with the most alarming symptoms, continue to harass the
patients for a long period of time, and at length suddenly disappear,
without ever returning; the persons who have been thus afflicted,
enjoying perfect health for many years after. It is not probable that
tubercles were formed in any of these cases; and it is certain they were
not in some, whose bodies were opened after their deaths, which happened
from other distempers, the asthma having disappeared several years before.

Certain eruptions of the skin, attended with fever, particularly the
small-pox, and still oftener the measles, leave after them a foundation
for the pulmonary consumption. From whichever of the causes above
enumerated this disease takes its origin, when once an ulcer, attended
with a hectic fever, is formed in the lungs, the case is, in the
highest degree, dangerous. When it ends fatally, the symptoms are, a
quick pulse, and a sensation of cold, while the patient’s skin, to the
feeling of every other person, is hot; irregular shiverings, a severe
cough, expectoration of matter streaked with blood, morning sweats, a
circumscribed spot of a crimson colour on the cheeks, heat of the palms
of the hands, excessive emaciation, crooking of the nails, swelling of
the legs, giddiness, delirium, soon followed by death.

These symptoms do not appear in every case. Although the emaciation is
greater in this disease than in any other, yet the appetite frequently
remains strong and unimpaired to the last; and although delirium
sometimes comes before death, yet in many cases the senses seem perfect
and intire; except in one particular, that in spite of all the foregoing
symptoms, the patient often entertains the fullest hopes of recovery to
the last moment.

Would to heaven it were as easy to point out the cure, as to describe the
symptoms of a disease of such a formidable nature, and against which the
powers of medicine have been directed with such bad success, that there
is reason to fear, its fatal termination has been oftener accelerated
than retarded by the means employed to remove it! To particularise the
drugs which have been long in use, and have been honoured with the
highest encomiums for their great efficacy in healing inward bruises,
ulcers of the lungs, and confirmed consumptions, would in many instances
be pointing out, what ought to be shunned as pernicious, and in others
what ought to be neglected as futile.

Salt water, and some of the mineral springs, which are unquestionably
beneficial in scrophulous and other distempers, have been found hurtful,
or at least inefficacious, in the consumption; there is no sufficient
reason to depend on a course of these, or any medicine at present known,
for preventing or dissolving tubercles in the lungs. Mercury, which has
been found so powerful in disposing other ulcers to heal, has no good
effect on ulcers of that organ;—though some physicians imagine it may be
of service in the beginning to dissolve tubercles, before they begin to
suppurate; but as there is no absolute evidence, during life, of indolent
tubercles being formed, there can be none that mercury cures them.

Various kinds of gums, with the natural and artificial balsams, were
long supposed to promote the healing of external wounds and ulcers,
and on that account were made the basis of a vast variety of ointments
and plaisters. It was afterwards imagined, that the same remedies,
administered internally, would have the same effect on internal ulcers;
and of course many of those gums and balsams were prescribed in various
forms for the pulmonary consumption. The reasoning on which this practice
was established, however, seems a little shallow, and is far from being
conclusive; for although it were granted, that these balsams contributed
to the cure of wounds, when applied directly to the part, it does not
follow that they could carry their healing powers, unimpaired, from the
stomach to the lungs, through the whole process of digestion. But more
accurate surgery having made it manifest, that the granulations which
spring up to supply the loss of substance in external wounds, and the
healing or skinning over of all kinds of sores, proceeds from no active
virtue in the plaisters or ointments with which they are dressed, but
is entirely the work of nature, and best performed when the mildest
substances, or even dry lint only is applied; and that heating gums,
resins, and balsams, rather retard than promote their cure; the internal
use of such remedies ought to be rejected now, on the same principles
they were adapted formerly.

No kind of reasoning ought to have weight, when opposed by fair
experience. But physicians have formed contrary and opposite conclusions,
with respect to the effect of the natural and artificial balsams, even
when they have laid all theory and reasoning aside, and decided on their
powers from practice and experiment only. This is sufficient to prove,
at least, that their efficacy is very problematical. For my own part,
after the fairest trials, and the most accurate observations I have been
able to make, I cannot say that I ever knew them of service in any hectic
complaint proceeding from an ulcer in the lungs; and I have generally
found those physicians, on whose judgment I have more reliance than on my
own, of the same opinion.

It is far from being uncommon to see a cure retarded, not to say any
thing stronger, by the means employed to hasten it; and physicians who
found their practice on theoretical reasonings, are not the only persons
to whom this misfortune may happen. Those who profess to take experience
for their sole guide, if it is not directed by candour, and enlightened
by natural sagacity, are liable to the same. A man may, for twenty years,
order a medicine, which has in every instance done a little harm, though
not always so much as to prevent nature from removing the complaint at
last; and if the reputation of this medicine should ever be attacked, he
may bring his twenty years experience in support of it. It ought to be
remembered, that as often as the animal constitution is put out of order,
by accident or distemper, nature endeavours to restore health. Happily
she has many resources, and various methods of accomplishing her purpose;
and very often she succeeds best without medical assistance. But medical
assistance being given, she frequently succeeds _notwithstanding_; and it
sometimes happens, that both physician and patient are convinced, that
the means which did not prevent have actually performed the cure.

A peasant is seized with a shivering, followed by feverishness, and
accompanied with a slight cough—he goes to bed, and excessive heat and
thirst prompt him to drink plentifully of plain water; on the second or
third day a copious sweat bursts from all his pores, and terminates the
disorder. A person of fortune is seized with the same symptoms, arising
from the same cause, and which would have been cured by the same means,
in the same space of time; but the apothecary is called, who immediately
sends pectoral linctuses to remove the cough, and afterwards gives a
vomit, to remove the nausea which the linctuses have occasioned: the heat
and fever augment; the physician is called; he orders the patient to be
blooded, to abate the violence of the fever, and gives a little physic
on some other account. All this prevents the natural crisis by sweat;
and the patient being farther teased by draughts or powders every two or
three hours, nature cannot shake off the fever so soon by six or seven
days, as she would have done had she been left to herself. She generally
does her business at last, however; and then the physician and apothecary
glory in the happy effects of their skill, and receive the grateful
thanks of their patient for having cured him of a dangerous fever.

Every body of common penetration, at all conversant in medical matters,
must have seen enough to convince them that the above description is not
exaggerated; but it is not to be inferred from this, that the art of
medicine is of no use to mankind. There are many diseases in which nature
sinks, without medical assistance. It is the part of the penetrating and
experienced physician to distinguish these from others, and leave it to
the knavish and weak to assume the merit of cures in cases where they
know, or ought to know, that medicine can do nothing.

Some physicians, who have abandoned the other resins and gums, as useless
or hurtful in hectic complaints, still adhere to myrrh as a beneficial
medicine; but from what I can learn, the cases in which this gum has
been thought serviceable, are hectic complaints, from debility, in
consequence of excessive evacuations of various kinds, and not proceeding
from ulcerated lungs. After it is fully established that myrrh is of use
in such instances, it will still be worthy of investigation, whether
it is of more or less than Jesuits bark. I have repeatedly mentioned
blood-letting, and a spare, diluting regimen, as the most powerful means
of preventing and curing all affections of the lungs that depend on
inflammation. In the case of external wounds, or bruises of the lungs,
this method facilitates the immediate cure by the first intention. It
is the chief thing to be depended on for the cure of pleurisies; and it
is often owing to a neglect, or too sparing an use of this evacuation,
that the complaint terminates in an abscess. In people predisposed by
the form of their bodies, or the nature of their constitutions, to a
spitting of blood, it may prevent the turgid vessels from bursting; and
in those who have tubercles in the lungs, it is of the greatest utility,
by preventing those tumours from inflaming, and becoming ulcers; but
after the ulcers are actually formed, I have great doubts with regard to
the propriety of attempting a cure by repeated bleedings, even in small
quantities. This method has been often tried; but I fear the success
with which it has been attended, gives no encouragement to continue the
practice. That symptoms may be such, in every period of this disease, as
to require this evacuation, is not to be denied; but there is a great
difference in the application of what is considered as an occasional
palliative, and that from which we expect a radical cure. In the one
case, it will only be used when some particular symptom strongly urges;
in the other, it will be used at stated intervals, whether the symptoms
press or not; and may tend to weaken the already debilitated patient,
without our having the consolation of knowing, with certainty, that it
has had any other effect.

Blisters do not weaken so much; they are of undoubted use in pleurisies;
perhaps, by exciting external inflammation, they may contribute to draw
off the inflammatory disposition within the breast: perhaps—But in
whatever way they act, I imagine I have frequently seen blisters and
setons, particularly the latter, of considerable service, even after the
symptoms indicated the existence of an ulcer in the lungs.

As for the numerous forms of electuaries, lohochs, and linctuses,
composed of oils, gums, and syrups, and by the courtesy of dispensatory
writers called _pectoral_; I am convinced they are of no manner of
service in this complaint, and seldom have any other effect than that
of loading the stomach, and impairing the digestion of salutary food.
So far from being of any permanent service to the disease, they cannot
be depended on for giving even a temporary relief to the cough; when
that symptom becomes troublesome, gentle opiates will be found the
best palliatives. Some practitioners object to these medicines, on a
supposition that they check expectoration; but they only seem to have
this effect, by lulling the irritation to cough; the same quantity
will be expectorated in the morning, after the influence of the opiate
is over. It is surely better that the matter should accumulate, and
the patient spit it up at once, than allow him to be kept from rest,
and teased with coughing and spitting through the whole night. These
palliatives, however, are to be managed with great caution; never
exhibited while the patient enjoys a tolerable share of _natural_ rest.
Small doses should be given at first, and not increased without absolute
necessity. Exhibited in this manner, they cannot do harm; and those who
reject the assistance of a class of medicines, which afford ease and
tranquillity in the most deplorable state of this disease, ought to give
better proofs than have hitherto appeared, that they are able to procure
their patients more valuable and lasting comforts than those they deprive
them of.

The known efficacy of the Peruvian bark, in many distempers, especially
in intermittent fevers; the remission of the symptoms, which happens
regularly every day at a particular stage of the pulmonary consumption,
and in some degree gives it the appearance of an intermittent, joined to
the failure of all other remedies, prompted physicians to make trial of
that noble medicine in this disease. In consequence of these trials, the
bark is now pretty generally acknowledged to be serviceable in hectical
complaints, proceeding from debility, and other causes, exclusive of
ulcerated lungs; but when the disease proceeds from this cause, the bark
is supposed, by some very respectable physicians, always to do harm. I
am most clearly of the first opinion, and perhaps it would not become me
to dispute the second. It may be permitted, however, to observe, that
the most discerning practitioners may be led into a notion, that a very
safe medicine does harm, when it is exhibited at the worst stage of a
disease, in which hardly any medicine whatever has been found to do good.
In every stage of this disease, elixir of vitriol may be used. It is a
pleasant and safe medicine, but particularly efficacious when the patient
is troubled with wasting sweats.

Having, in obedience to your request, delivered my sentiments freely,
you will perceive, that, besides the objections already mentioned to the
person under whose care our friend is at present, I cannot approve of his
being directed to take so many drugs, or of his being detained in town,
at a season when he may enjoy, in the country, what is preferable to all
medicine; I mean air, exercise, and, let me even add, diet.

Had I known of our friend’s complaints earlier, I should have advised
him to have met the advancing spring in the South of France; but at the
season in which you will receive this letter, the moderate warmth, and
refreshing verdure of England, are preferable to the sultry heats and
scorched fields of the South. From the view I have of his complaints, I
can have no hesitation in advising you to endeavour to prevail on him to
quit his drugs, and to leave London without delay. Since he bears riding
on horseback so well, let him enjoy that exercise in an atmosphere freed
from the smoke of the town, and impregnated with the flavour of rising
plants and green herbage; a flavour which may with more truth be called
_pectoral_, than any of the heating resins, or loathsome oils, on which
that term has been prostituted. Let him pass the summer in drinking the
waters, and riding around the environs of Bristol. It will be easy for
him to find a house in the free air of the country, at some distance
from that town; and it will be of use to have an additional reason for
rising early, and riding every morning. It is of the greatest importance
that he continue that exercise every day that the weather will permit: a
little cloudiness of the sky should not fright him from it; there is no
danger of catching cold during the continuation of that movement which
assists digestion, promotes the determination of blood from the lungs to
the surface of the body, and is more salutary in the morning than after
dinner.

With respect to diet, he should carefully observe the important rule of
taking food frequently, in small quantities, and never making a full
meal; that the digestive organs may not be overpowered, or the vessels
charged with too large a quantity of chyle at a time; which never fails
to bring on oppressive breathing, and augments the fever and flushing,
which in some degree succeeds every repast.

Since all kinds of milk are found to disagree with his constitution, that
nourishment, which is in general so well adapted to similar complaints,
must be omitted, and light broths, with vegetable food, particularly of
the farinaceous kind, substituted in its place.

Acids, especially the native acid of vegetables, are remarkably
agreeable and refreshing to all who labour under the heat, oppression,
and languor, which accompany hectic complaints. It is surprising what a
quantity of the juice of lemons the constitution will bear, without any
inconveniency, when it is accustomed to it by degrees; and in those cases
where it does not occasion pains in the stomach and bowels, or other
immediate inconveniencies, it has been thought to have a good effect in
abating the force of the hectic fever.

I have met with two cases, since I have been last abroad, in both of
which there seemed to be a quicker recovery than I ever saw, from the
same symptoms. The first was that of a young lady, of about seventeen
years of age, and apparently of a very healthy constitution. In bad
weather, during the spring, she caught cold: this being neglected in
the beginning, gradually grew worse. When physicians were at length
consulted, their prescriptions seemed to have as bad an effect as her own
neglect. By the middle of summer her cough was incessant, accompanied
with hectic fever and flushings, irregular shiverings, morning sweats,
emaciation, expectoration of purulent phlegm streaked with blood, and
every indication of an open ulcer in the lungs. In this desperate
state she was carried from the town to a finely situated village in
Switzerland, where, for several months, she lived in the middle of a
vineyard, on ripe grapes and bread. She had been directed to a milk and
vegetable diet in general. Her own taste inclined her to the grapes,
which she continued, on finding, that, with this diet only, she was less
languid, and of a more natural coolness, and that the cough, fever, and
all the other symptoms gradually abated. She seemed to be brought from
the jaws of death by the change of air, and this regimen only; and she
returned to her own home in high spirits, and with the look and vigour of
health. The ensuing winter, after being heated with dancing at the house
of a friend, she walked home in a cold night; the cough, spitting of
blood, and other symptoms immediately returned, and she died three months
after.

In the other case, there was not such a degree of fever, but there was
an expectoration of matter, frequently streaked with blood, and evident
signs of an ulcer in the lungs. The person who laboured under these
symptoms, had tried the usual remedies of pectorals, pills, linctuses,
&c. with the usual success. He grew daily worse. He had formerly found
much relief from bleeding, but had left it off for many months, on a
supposition that it had lost all effect; and he had allowed an issue to
be healed, on the same supposition; though he still persevered in a milk
regimen. I mentioned to him the case of the young lady, as it is above
recited. He immediately took the resolution to confine himself to bread
and grapes for almost his only food. I advised him at the same time to
have the issue opened, and to continue that drain for some time; but this
he did not comply with. He forsook, however, the town for the country,
and passed as much of the morning on horseback, as he could bear without
fatigue. He soon was able to bear more; and after about three weeks or
a month, his cough had greatly abated. When he had persisted in this
regimen between two and three months, he had very little cough; and what
he spit up was pure phlegm, unmixed with blood or matter. He has now been
well above a year; and although I understand that he occasionally takes
animal food, he has hitherto felt no inconveniency from it. He passed
the second autumn, as he had done the first, at a house in the country,
surrounded with vineyards. The greater part of his food consisted of ripe
grapes and bread. With such a diet, he had not occasion for much drink of
any kind; what he used was simple water, and he made an ample provision
of grapes for the succeeding winter.

Though I have no idea that there is any specific virtue in grapes,
for the cure of the pulmonary consumption, or that they are greatly
preferable to some other cooling, sub-acid, mild fruit, equally agreeable
to the taste, provided any such can be found; yet I thought it right to
particularize what was used on those two occasions; leaving it to others
to determine, what share of the happy consequences I have enumerated were
owing to the change of air, how much may have flowed from the exercise,
how much from the regimen, and whether there is reason to think, that
the favourable turn in both cases depended on other circumstances,
unobserved by me.

I have now, my dear Sir, complied with your request; and although I have
endeavoured to avoid technical verbosity, and all unnecessary detail,
yet I find my letter has swelled to a greater size than I expected. I
shall be exceedingly happy to hear that any hint I have given has been
serviceable to our friend. If the cough should still continue, after he
has passed two or three months at Bristol, I imagine the most effectual
thing he can do will be, to take a voyage to this place; he will by that
means escape the severity of a British winter. The voyage itself will be
of service, and at the end of it he will have the benefit of the mild
air of the Campagna Felice, be refreshed and nourished by the finest
grapes, and, when tired of riding, he will have continual opportunities
of sailing in this charming bay.



LETTER LXIII.


                                                                  Naples.

As I was walking a few days since in the street with two of our
countrymen, T—— and N——, we met some people carrying the corpse of a
man on an open bier, and others following in a kind of procession. The
deceased was a tradesman, whose widow had bestowed the utmost attention
in dressing him to the greatest advantage on this solemn occasion; he
had a perfectly new suit of clothes, a laced hat upon his head, ruffles,
his hair finely powdered, and a large blooming nosegay in his left hand,
while the right was very gracefully stuck in his side. It is the custom
at Naples to carry every body to church in full dress soon after their
death, and the nearest relations display the magnitude of their grief
by the magnificent manner in which they decorate the corpse. This poor
woman, it seems, was quite inconsolable, and had ornamented the body of
her late husband with a profusion she could ill afford. When the corpse
arrives in church, the service is read over it. That ceremony being
performed, and the body carried home, it is considered as having no
farther occasion for fine clothes, but is generally stript to the shirt,
and buried privately.

“Can any thing be more ridiculous,” says N——, “than to trick a man out in
his bed clothes after his death?” “Nothing,” replied T——; “unless it be
to order a fantastical dress at a greater expence on purpose, as if the
dead would not be satisfied with the clothes they wore when alive, but
delighted in long flowing robes in a particular style of their own.”

T—— has long resided abroad, and now prefers many foreign customs to
those of his own country, which frequently involves him in disputes with
his countrymen.

The Princess of —— drove past. “There she goes,” says N——, “with her
cavalieros, her volantis, and all the splendour of a sovereign; yet the
wife of a plain English gentleman is in a far more enviable situation.
With all her titles and her high rank, she is a meer servant of the
Queen’s, a dependant on the caprice of another; a frown from her Majesty
would annihilate her.” “Those who are _nothing_, exclusive of court
favour,” replied T——, “ought not be censured for devoting their time to
court attendance. But did you never hear of any who are dazzled with the
glitter of court shackels in the boasted land of liberty; people whom
riches, rank, and the most flattering favours of fortune cannot make
independent; whose minds seem the more abject, as their situation lays
them under the less necessity of remaining in servitude; who, withered
with age, and repining with envy, sacrifice every domestic duty, and
stalk around the mansions of royalty, as ghosts are said to haunt those
abodes in which they most delighted when they enjoyed life and vigour?”
“Well, well,” says N——, “let us say no more about them, since we are
agreed, that, of all the old tapestry of courts, those grotesque figures,
who, without the confidence of those they serve, continue to the last
exhibiting their antique countenances at birthday balls, and in the
assemblies of youth and beauty, are the most ridiculous.” At that instant
the Queen passed in her coach with the royal children, and N—— made some
comparative remarks in his usual style; to which T—— replied, “In this
particular I acknowledge the happiness of Great Britain. I presume not to
make comparisons; the great character you have mentioned defies censure,
and is far superior to my praise. But I must observe, it appears singular
that you, who affect to despise all other countries, and seem of opinion,
that what is most valuable in nature is always the product of _England_,
should bring your brightest illustration of that opinion from _Germany_.”

T——, perceiving the advantage he had gained over his antagonist,
proceeded vigorously to censure, what he called, the absurd partiality
of the English in their own favour; and observed, that it would be
fortunate for them, if the other nations of Europe would allow them but
a few of the numerous good qualities which they so lavishly attribute
to themselves. He severely attacked the common people, and denied them
even the character of good-nature, which they have been thought to
possess in an eminent degree. He declared them to be rough and insolent
in their manners (for the truth of this he appealed to the opinion
of all their neighbours), cruel in their dispositions (as a proof of
which he instanced some of their favourite diversions), and absurd in
their prejudices, which appears by their hatred and contempt of other
nations; by all of whom, he asserted, they were in return most cordially
abhorred. “How, indeed, can it be otherwise,” continued he, “considering
the rough, boisterous nature of their weather?” He then expatiated on
the fertility of Italy, and the mild serenity of the climate; to which
he partly attributed the fertile genius and mild character of the
Italians. “No doubt,” he said, “moral causes might contribute to the
same effect; for more pains were taken to cultivate and encourage good
and quiet dispositions in the common people here than in England. They
were accustomed to perform their religious duties more regularly; they
had frequent opportunities of hearing the most excellent music in the
churches; they were instructed in history by orators in the street, and
were made acquainted with the beauties of their best poets in the same
manner. All these causes united must necessarily enlarge their minds, and
make them the most gentle, humane, and ingenious people in the world.”
N—— shook his head, as if he laid little stress on the others reasoning.
For my own part, I remained silent, being desirous that the dispute
should go on between the two who had begun it.

Continuing our walk a little without the town, we saw a crowd of people
looking over a wall, which formed one side of a square, expressly built
for the purpose of bating cattle with bull dogs. It is imagined that this
renders their flesh more tender and agreeable to the taste; and this is
considered as a sufficient reason for torturing great numbers of bulls,
oxen, and cows, before they are slaughtered for the markets; we found a
multitude of spectators enjoying this amusement. “Pray,” says Mr. N——,
addressing himself to T——, “do you imagine this humane practice, and the
complacency which these refined spectators seem to take in beholding
it, proceed from the mildness of the climate, the pains bestowed in
teaching the people the duties of christianity, the enlargement of their
minds by history and poetry, or from the gentle influence of music upon
their dispositions?” Then turning from Mr. T—— to me, he continued, “Not
satisfied with knocking the poor animals on the head, those unfeeling
epicures put them to an hour’s additional torture, merely to gratify a
caprice of their corrupted palates.”

“Of all subjects,” replied T——, recovering himself from the confusion
into which N——’s questions had thrown him, “those who take upon them to
be the panegyrists of the English nation, ought to avoid mentioning that
species of epicurism which depends on eating, lest they be put in mind
of whipping pigs to death, their manner of collaring brawn, crimping
fish, and other refinements peculiar to that humane good-natured people.”

N—— was just going to reply, when a large bull, rendered outrageous
by the stones which the populace were throwing at him, ran suddenly
towards the gate at the instant the keepers were opening it on some other
account; which threw them into such confusion, that they had not time
to shut it before the bull burst out on the multitude. He now became an
object of terror to those who the moment before had looked on him as an
object of mirth. The mighty lords of the creation, who consider other
animals as formed entirely for _their pastime_, _their attire_, _their
food_, fled in crowds from one quadruped, and would gladly have fallen
on their knees and worshipped him, like so many Egyptians adoring Apis,
if by so doing they could have hoped to deprecate the just wrath of the
incensed animal.—They found safety at length, not in their own courage
or address, but in the superior boldness and agility of other animals,
who were leagued with man against him. He was surrounded by dogs, who
attacked him on all sides—he killed some outright, tossed and wounded
many more; but perceiving his own strength diminishing, and the number of
his enemies increasing every moment, he threw himself into the sea, and
there found a temporary protection from the fury of his persecutors.—But
the dogs were instigated to follow; they at length drove him from
this last asylum; and the poor, torn, bleeding, exhausted animal was
forced ashore, three or four of the most furious of the dogs hanging at
different parts of his head and neck. When they were removed, he raised
his honest countenance, and threw an indignant look upon the rabble, as
if to upbraid them for such a return for his own labours, and all the
essential services which his whole species render to mankind. Upon my
soul I felt the reproach. We could not bear his looks, but sneaked away
without feeling much pride on account of our near connection with those
lords of the creation, whom we had just beheld exerting their prerogative.

We walked along a considerable time without speaking. N—— broke silence
at last: “Well,” said he, “those amiable creatures whom we have quitted,
are what they call human beings;—they are more, they are Neapolitans, men
who are moved with the concord of sweet sounds; from which I conclude
(Shakespear may say what he pleases), that such men are as fit for
treasons, stratagems, and spoils, as those who never heard softer melody
than that of marrow-bones and cleavers.”

“This fondness for barbarous amusements,” said I, “cannot be stated
exclusively to the account of Neapolitans, of English, or of any
other particular people. I am afraid the charge lies against mankind
in general; from whatever motive it arises, a large proportion of
the individuals in all countries have displayed a decided taste for
diversions which may be ranged in this class.”

“It ought to be remembered, however,” says T——, “that those fellows with
their dogs, who have been tormenting the bull, are butchers, and the
lowest of the vulgar of this country; whereas, among those who order
fish to be crimped, and pigs to be whipped to death, as well as among
those who formerly attended Broughton’s amphitheatre, and still attend
cockpits, will be found people of the first rank in England.”

“Pray,” said N——, addressing himself to me, “did you ever see a cocagna?”

I acknowledged I never had.

“Then,” continued he, “I beg leave to give you an idea of it. It is a
Neapolitan entertainment, relished by people of the first rank in this
polished country; where the very vagrants in the street are instructed
in history, and the human mind is refined by poetry, softened by music,
and elevated by religion. The cocagna—Pray mark me—the cocagna is an
entertainment given to the people four succeeding Sundays during the
carnival. Opposite to the palace, a kind of wooden amphitheatre is
erected. This being covered with branches of trees, bushes, and various
plants, real and artificial, has the appearance of a green hill. On
this hill are little buildings, ornamented with pillars of loaves of
bread, with joints of meat, and dried fish, varnished, and curiously
arranged by way of capitals. Among the trees and bushes are some oxen,
a considerable number of calves, sheep, hogs, and lambs, all alive, and
tied to posts. There are, besides, a great number of living turkies,
geese, hens, pigeons, and other fowls, nailed by the wings to the
scaffolding. Certain Heathen Deities appear also occasionally upon this
hill, but not with a design to protect it, as you shall see immediately.
The guards are drawn up in three ranks, to keep off the populace. The
Royal Family, with all the nobility of the court, crowd the windows
and balconies of the palace, to enjoy this magnificent sight. When his
Majesty waves his handkerchief, the guards open to the right and left;
the rabble pour in from all quarters, and the entertainment commences.
You may easily conceive what a delightful sight it must be, to see
several thousand hungry, half-naked lazzaroni rush in like a torrent,
destroy the whole fabric of loaves, fishes, and joints of meat; overturn
the Heathen Deities, _for the honour of Christianity_; pluck the fowls,
at the expence of their wings, from the posts to which they were nailed;
and, in the fury of their struggling and fighting for their prey, often
tearing the miserable animals to pieces, and sometimes stabbing each
other.”

“You ought, in candour, to add,” interrupted Mr. T——, “that, though
formerly they were fixed to the posts alive, yet of late the larger
cattle have been previously killed.”—“And pray, my good Sir,” said N——,
“will you be so obliging as to inform me, what crime the poor lambs
and fowls have committed, that they should be torn in pieces alive?”
“This piece of humanity,” continued he, “recalls to my memory a similar
instance, in a certain ingenious gentleman, who proposed, as the best
and most effectual method of sweeping chimnies, to place a large goose at
the top; and then, by a string tied around her feet, to pull the animal
gently down to the hearth. The sagacious projector asserted, that the
goose, being extremely averse to this method of entering a house, would
struggle against it with all her might; and, during this resistance,
would move her wings with such force and rapidity, as could not fail to
sweep the chimney completely.” “Good God, Sir,” cried a lady, who was
present when this new method was proposed, “How cruel would that be to
the poor goose!” “Why, Madam,” replied the gentleman, “if you think my
method cruel to the goose, a couple of ducks will do.”



LETTER LXIV.


                                                                  Naples.

On the first Sunday of May, we had an opportunity of seeing the famous
Neapolitan miracle, of the liquefaction of Saint Januarius’s blood,
performed. This Saint, you know, is the patron of Naples; which
circumstance alone forms a strong presumption of his being a Saint of
very considerable power and efficacy; for it is not to be imagined that
the care of a city, like Naples, which is threatened every moment with
destruction from Mount Vesuvius, would be entrusted to an under-strapper.
Indeed there has, on some occasions, been reason to fear, that, great and
powerful as this Saint is, the Dæmon of the mountain would have got the
better of him; however, as Saint Januarius has been able to protect them
hitherto, and is supposed to be improved in the science of defence by
long practice, the Neapolitans think it more prudent to abide by him than
to choose another; who, though he may possibly be of higher rank, and
older standing, cannot have equal experience in this particular kind of
warfare.

Saint Januarius suffered martyrdom about the end of the third century.
When he was beheaded, a pious lady of this city caught about an ounce of
his blood, which has been carefully preserved in a bottle ever since,
without having lost a single grain of its weight. This of itself, were
it equally demonstrable, might be considered as a greater miracle than
the circumstance on which the Neapolitans lay the whole stress, viz. that
the blood which has congealed, and acquired a solid form by age, is no
sooner brought near the head of the Saint, than, as a mark of veneration,
it immediately liquefies. This experiment is made three different times
every year, and is considered by the Neapolitans as a miracle of the
first magnitude.

As the divinity of no other religion whatever is any longer attempted
to be proved by fresh miracles, but all are now trusted to their own
internal evidence, and to those wrought at a former period, this miracle
of Saint Januarius is probably the more admired on account of its being
the only one, except transubstantiation, which remains still in use, out
of the vast abundance said to have been performed at various periods in
support of the Roman Catholic faith. The latter is unquestionably the
greater miracle, of the two; for to change a wafer into flesh and blood,
is more extraordinary than to liquefy any substance whatever: Yet I once
imagined the liquefaction had rather the advantage in this particular;
that the change is more obvious to the senses. But I have lately been
otherwise instructed, by an ingenious person, who was formerly a Jesuit.
On somebody (not me, for I never do make objections in matters of faith)
having observed, That it was unfortunate that the great change operated
on the wafer in transubstantiation, was not visible, the person above
alluded to pronounced the miracle to be much greater on that account.
“For pray, Sir,” said he, addressing himself to the objector, “suppose
I should immediately turn that fowl, pointing to a turkey which was at
that moment stalking past; suppose I should immediately turn that fowl
into a woman, would you not think it very extraordinary?” “Certainly,”
replied the other. “Well, Sir, but after the change is actually made,
and the fowl has to all intents and purposes become a woman, if it still
retained the appearance of a turkey, you must acknowledge _that_ would
be more extraordinary still. In the same manner,” continued he, “in the
celebration of mass, the conversion of the wafer into the real body and
blood of Jesus Christ, is a great miracle, and highly to be venerated;
but, after this wonderful change has actually taken place, that the
real body of Christ should, even in the eyes of the sharpest sighted
spectators, still retain its original form of a wafer, is a great deal
more amazing and stupendous.”

But, however great a superiority the miracle of transubstantiation may
have over that of St. Januarius, in the opinion of Roman Catholics in
general, the Neapolitans imagine the latter is sufficient to convert
infidels, and put heretics out of countenance. A zealous believer of this
country, having described the miracle, breaks out into the following
exclamations: “O illustre memoria! O verità irrefragabile! vengano
gli Heretici, vengano, e Stupiscano, ed aprano gli occhi alla verità
Cattolica, et Evangelica; Bastarebbe questo sangue di S. Gennaro sola
à fare testimonia della Fede. E possibile, che a tanto, et si famoso
miraculo non si converta tutta la Gentilità, ed Infedeltà alla verità
Cattolica della Romana chiesa?” Though I am not such an enthusiastic
admirer of the performance as this author, yet, on the other hand, I do
not think that Protestants, however much they may be convinced it is a
trick, have any right to call it a _clumsy trick_, without explaining
in what it consists. This is a liberty which some travellers of great
eminence have taken. Others have asserted, that the substance in the
bottle, which is exhibited for the blood of the Saint, is something
naturally solid, but which melts with a small degree of heat. When it is
first brought out of the cold chapel, say those gentlemen, it is in its
natural solid state; but when brought before the Saint by the priest, and
rubbed between his warm hands, and breathed upon for some time, it melts;
and this is the whole mystery. Though I find myself unable to explain
on what principle the liquefaction depends, I am fully convinced that
it must be something different from this; for I have it from the most
satisfactory authority, from those who had opportunities of knowing,
and who believe no more in the miracle than you do, that this congealed
mass has sometimes been found in a liquid state in cold weather, before
it was touched by the Priest, or brought near the head of the Saint;
and that, on other occasions, it has remained solid when brought before
him, notwithstanding all the efforts of the Priest to melt it. When
this happens, the superstitious, which, at a very moderate calculation,
comprehends ninety-nine in a hundred of the inhabitants of this city,
are thrown into the utmost consternation, and are sometimes wrought up
by their fears into a state of mind which is highly dangerous both to
their civil and ecclesiastical governors. It is true, that this happens
but seldom; for, in general, the substance in the phial, whatever it may
be, is in a solid form in the chapel, and becomes liquid when brought
before the Saint; but as this is not always the case, it affords reason
to believe, that, whatever may have been the case when this miracle or
trick, call it which you please, was first exhibited, the principle
on which it depends has somehow or other been lost, and is not now
understood fully even by the Priests themselves; or else they are not now
so expert, as formerly, in preparing the substance which represents the
Saint’s blood, so as to make it remain solid when it ought, and liquefy
the instant it is required.

The head and blood of the Saint are kept in a kind of press, with
folding doors of silver, in the chapel of St. Januarius, belonging to
the cathedral church. The real head is probably not so fresh, and well
preserved, as the blood; and on that account is not exposed to the eyes
of the public, but inclosed in a large silver bust, gilt and enriched
with jewels of high value. This being what appears to the people, their
idea of the Saint’s features and complexion are taken entirely from the
bust.

The blood is kept in a small repository by itself.

About mid-day, the bust, inclosing the real head, was brought with great
solemnity, and placed under a kind of portico, open on all sides, that
the different communities, which come in procession, may be able to
traverse it, and that the people may have the comfort of beholding the
miracle. The processions of that solemn day were innumerable; all the
streets of Naples were crowded with the various orders of ecclesiastics,
dressed in their richest robes. The monks of each convent were mustered
under their own particular banners. A splendid cross was carried before
each procession; and the images, in massy silver, of the Saints,
peculiarly patronising the convents, followed the cross. In this order
they marched from the convents to the pavilion, under which the head of
St. Januarius was placed, and having done due obeisance to that great
protector of this city, they marched back by a different route, in the
same order, to their convent. But as there are a great many convents
in Naples, and a great number of monks in each convent, though the
processions began soon after mid-day, the evening was well advanced
before the last of them had passed. The grand procession of all began
when the others had finished. It was composed of a numerous body of
clergy, and an immense multitude of people of all ranks, headed by the
archbishop of Naples himself, who carried the phial containing the blood
of the Saint. The D—— of H—— and I accompanied Sir W—— H—— to a house
directly opposite to the portico, where the sacred head was placed.
We there found a large assembly of Neapolitan nobility. A magnificent
robe of velvet, richly embroidered, was thrown over the shoulders of
the bust; a mitre, refulgent with jewels, was placed on its head. The
archbishop, with a solemn pace, and a look full of awe and veneration,
approached, holding forth the sacred phial which contained the precious
lump of blood. He addressed the Saint in the humblest manner, fervently
praying that he would graciously condescend to manifest his regard to his
faithful votaries the people of Naples, by the usual token of ordering
that lump of his sacred blood to assume its natural and original form.
In those prayers he was joined by the multitude around, particularly by
the women; of whom there seemed more than their proportion. My curiosity
prompted me to leave the balcony, and mingle with the multitude. I got
by degrees quite near the bust. Twenty minutes had already elapsed,
since the archbishop had been praying with all possible earnestness,
and turning the phial around and around without any effect. An old monk
stood near the archbishop, and was at the utmost pains to instruct him
how to handle, chafe, and rub the phial; he frequently took it into
his own hands, but his manœuvres were as ineffectual as those of the
archbishop. By this time the people had become exceedingly noisy; the
women were quite hoarse with praying; the monk continued his operations
with increased zeal; and the archbishop was all over in a profuse sweat
with vexation. In whatever light the failure of the miracle might appear
to others, it was a very serious matter to him; because the people
consider such an event as a proof of the Saint’s displeasure, and a
certain indication that some dreadful calamity will ensue. This was the
first opportunity he had had of officiating since his nomination to the
see. There was no knowing what fancy might have entered into the heads
of a superstitious populace; they might have imagined, or his enemies
might have insinuated, that the failure of the miracle proceeded from St.
Januarius’s disapprobation of the person in whose hands it was to have
taken place. I never saw more evident marks of vexation and alarm than
appeared in the countenance of the right reverend personage. This alone
would have convinced me that they cannot command the liquefaction when
they please. While things were in this state I observed a gentleman come
hastily through the crowd, and speak to the old monk, who, in a pretty
loud voice, and with an accent and a grimace very expressive of chagrin,
replied, “Cospetto di bacco è dura come una pietra.” At the same time an
acquaintance whispered me, That it would be prudent to retire, because
the mob on similar occasions have been struck with a notion, that the
operation of the miracle was disturbed by the presence of heretics; on
which they are apt to insult them. I directly took his hint, and joined
the company I had left. An universal gloom had overspread all their
countenances, they talked to each other in whispers, and seemed oppressed
with grief and contrition. One very beautiful young lady cried and
sobbed as if her heart had been ready to break. The passions of some of
the rabble without doors took a different turn; instead of sorrow, they
were filled with rage and indignation at the Saint’s obstinacy. They put
him in mind of the zeal with which he was adored by people of all ranks
in Naples; of the honours which had been conferred on him; that he was
respected here more than in any other country on earth; and some went
so far as to call him, an old ungrateful yellow-faced rascal, for his
obduracy. It was now almost dark—and when least expected, the signal was
given that the miracle was performed.—The populace filled the air with
repeated shouts of joy; a band of music began to play; Te Deum was sung;
couriers were dispatched to the royal family, then at Portici, with the
glad tidings; the young lady dried up her tears; the countenances of our
company brightened in an instant, and they sat down to cards without
farther dread of eruptions, earthquakes, or pestilence.

I had remarked, during their suspence with respect to the success of
the miracle, that some imputed the delay partly to the weather, which
happened to be rainy, and colder than is usual at this season; and
partly to the aukwardness of the Archbishop, who, never having performed
before, was accused of not handling the phial in the same dexterous and
efficacious manner that a person of experience would have done. While
they imputed the failure to those causes, they seemed equally uneasy with
the rest of the company about the consequences. It struck me that the
first sentiment was perfectly inconsistent with the second. I mentioned
this to a French gentleman, who is here as travelling companion to the
young Comte de G——. “If,” said I, “the weather, or the unskilfulness of
the Archbishop, has prevented the substance in the phial from becoming
liquid, this surely cannot be an indication that Heaven or the Saint
is displeased; if, on the contrary, the blood continuing solid in the
presence of the Saint, proceeds from Heaven or the Saint being offended,
then no kind of weather, and no kind of expertness on the part of the
Archbishop, could have rendered it liquid.”—“Monsieur,” said he, “voilà
ce qu’on appelle raisonner, ce que ces messieurs ne font jamais.”

The same evening, an acquaintance of mine, who is also a Roman Catholic,
and who remained close by the Archbishop till all was over, assured
me, that the miracle had failed entirely; for the old monk seeing no
symptom of the blood liquefying, had called out that the miracle had
succeeded; on which the signal had been given, the people had shouted,
the Archbishop had held up the bottle, moving it with a rapid motion
before the eyes of the spectators, and nobody chusing to contradict what
every body wished, he had been allowed to cover up the phial, and carry
it back to the Chapel, with the contents, in the same form they had come
abroad. How far this account is exactly true, I will not take on me to
assert; I was not near enough to see the transaction myself, and I have
only the authority of this person, having heard no other body say they
had observed the same.



LETTER LXV.


                                                                  Naples.

The tomb of Virgil is on the mountain of Pausilippo, a little above
the grotto of that name; you ascend to it by a narrow path which runs
through a vineyard; it is overgrown with ivy leaves and shaded with
branches, shrubs, and bushes; an ancient bay-tree, with infinite
propriety, overhangs it. Many a solitary walk have I taken to this place.
The earth, which contains his ashes, we expect to find clothed in the
brightest verdure. Viewed from the magic spot, the objects which adorn
the bay become doubly interesting. The Poet’s verses are here recollected
with additional pleasure; the verses of Virgil are interwoven in our
minds with a thousand interesting ideas, with the memory of our boyish
years, or the sportive scenes of childhood, of our earliest friends
and companions, many of whom are now dead; and those who still live,
and for whom we retain the first impression of affection, are at such a
distance as renders the hopes of seeing them again very uncertain. No
wonder, therefore, when in a contemplative mood, that our steps are often
directed to a spot so well calculated to create and cherish sentiments
congenial with the state of our mind. But then comes an antiquarian, who,
with his odious doubts, disturbs the pleasing source of our enjoyment;
and from the fair and delightful fields of fancy, conveys us in a moment
to a dark, barren, and comfortless desert;—he _doubts_, whether this be
the real place where the ashes of Virgil were deposited; and tells us
an unsatisfactory story about the other side of the bay, and that he is
rather inclined to believe that the Poet was buried somewhere there,
without fixing on any particular spot.

Would to heaven those doubters would keep their minds to themselves, and
not ruffle the tranquillity of believers!

But, after all, why should not this be the real tomb of Virgil? Why
should the enthusiasts, who delight in pilgrimages to this spot, be
deprived of that pleasure? Why should the Poet’s ghost be allowed to
wander along the dreary banks of Styx, till the antiquarians erect a
cenotaph in his honour? Even they acknowledge that he was buried on
this bay, and near Naples; and tradition has fixed on this spot, which,
exclusive of other presumptions, is a much stronger evidence in its
favour than their vague conjectures against it.

In your way to the classic fields of Baia and Cumæ, you pass through
the grotto of Pausilippo, a subterraneous passage through the mountain,
near a mile in length, about twenty feet in breadth, and thirty or
forty in height, every where, except at the two extremities, where it
is much higher. People of fashion generally drive through this passage
with torches, but the country people and foot passengers find their way
without much difficulty by the light which enters at the extremities, and
at two holes pierced through the mountain near the middle of the grotto,
which admit light from above.

Mr. Addison tells us, that the common people of Naples in his time
believed that this passage through the mountain was the work of magic,
and that Virgil was the magician. But this is the age of scepticism; and
the common people, in imitation of people of fashion, begin to harbour
doubts concerning all their old established opinions. A Neapolitan
Valet-de-place asked an English gentleman lately, Whether Signior
Virgilio, of whom he had heard so much, had really, and bona fide, been
a magician or not? “A magician,” replied the Englishman; “ay, that he
was, and a very great magician too.” “And do you,” resumed the Valet,
“believe it was he who pierced this rock?” “As for this particular rock,”
answered the Master, “I will not swear to it from my own knowledge,
because it was done before I was born; but I am ready to make oath, that
I have known him pierce, and even melt, some very obdurate substances.”

Two miles beyond the Grotta di Pausilippe, is a circular lake, about half
a mile in diameter, called Lago d’Agnano; on whose margin is situated
the famous Grotta del Cane, where so many dogs have been tortured and
suffocated, to shew the effect of a vapour which rises about a foot above
the bottom of this little cave, and is destructive of animal life. A dog
having his head held in this vapour, is convulsed in a few minutes, and
soon after falls to the earth motionless. This experiment is repeated
for the amusement of every unfeeling person, who has half a crown in his
pocket, and affects a turn for natural philosophy. The experiment is
commonly made on dogs; because they, of all animals, show the greatest
affection for man, and prefer his company to that of their own species,
or of any other living creature. The fellows who attend at this cave
have always some miserable dogs, with ropes about their necks, ready for
this cruel purpose. If the poor animals were unconscious of what was
to happen, it would be less affecting; but they struggle to get free,
and show every symptom of horror when they are dragged to this cave of
torment. I should have been happy to have taken the effect of the vapour
for granted, without a new trial; but some of the company were of a
more philosophical turn of mind than I have any pretensions to. When
the unhappy animal found all his efforts to escape were ineffectual,
he seemed to plead for mercy by the dumb eloquence of looks, and the
blandishments natural to his species. While he licked the hand of his
keeper, the unrelenting wretch dashed him a blow, and thrust his head
into the murderous vapour.

When the real utility of the knowledge acquired by cruel experiments
on animals (a practice which has been carried to dreadful lengths of
late) is fairly stated, and compared with the exquisiteness of _their_
sufferings, the benefit resulting to mankind from thence will seem too
dearly bought in the eyes of a person of humanity. Humanity! If language
had belonged to other animals besides man, might not they have chosen
that word to express—cruelty? if they had, thank God, they would have
done injustice to many of the human race. I have left the poor dog too
long in the vapour; much longer than he remained in reality. The D—— of
H——, shocked at the fellow’s barbarity, wrested the dog from his hands,
bore him to the open air, and gave him life and liberty; which he seemed
to enjoy with all the bounding rapture of gladness and gratitude. If you
should ever come this way, pray do not insist on seeing the experiment;
it is not worth while; the thing is ascertained; it is beyond a doubt
that this vapour convulses and kills every breathing animal.

You come next to the favourite fields of fancy and poetical fiction. The
Campi Phlegrei, where Jupiter overcame the giants; the solfaterra still
smoking, as if from the effects of his thunder; the Monte Nova, which was
thrown suddenly from the bowels of the earth, as if the sons of Titan had
intended to renew the war; the Monte Barbaro, formerly Mons Gaurus, the
favourite of Bacchus; the grotto of the Cumæan Sibyl; the noxious and
gloomy lakes of Avernus and Acheron; and the green bowers of Elysium.

The town of Puzzoli, and its environs, present such a number of objects,
worthy of the attention of the antiquarian, the natural philosopher,
and the classic scholar, that to describe all with the minuteness they
deserve, would fill volumes.

The Temple of Jupiter Serapis at Puzzoli, is accounted a very interesting
monument of antiquity; being quite different from the Roman and Greek
temples, and built in the manner of the Asiatics, probably by the
Egyptian and Asiatic merchants settled at Puzzoli, which was the great
emporium of Italy, until the Romans built Ostia and Antium.

Sylla having abdicated the Dictatorship, retired, and passed the
remainder of his life in this city.

The ruins of Cicero’s villa, near this city, are of such extent, as to
give a high idea of the wealth of this great orator. Had Fortune always
bestowed her gifts with so much propriety, she never would have been
accused of blindness. When the truly great are blessed with riches, it
affords pleasure to every candid mind. Neither this villa near Puzzoli,
that at Tusculum, nor any of his other country-seats, were the scenes of
idleness or riot. They are distinguished by the names of the works he
composed there; works which have always been the delight of the learned,
and which, still more than the important services he rendered his country
when in office, have contributed to immortalize his name.

The bay between Puzzoli and Baia is about a league in breadth. In
crossing this in a boat, you see the ruins called Ponte di Caligula, from
their being thought the remains of a bridge which Caligula attempted to
build across. They are by others, with more probability, thought to be
the ruins of a mole built with arches. Having passed over this gulph, a
new field of curiosities presents itself. The baths and prisons of Nero,
the tomb of Agrippina, the temples of Venus, of Diana, and of Mercury,
and the ruins of the ancient city of Cumæ; but no vestiges now remain
of many of those magnificent villas which adorned this luxurious coast,
nor even of the town of Baia. The whole of this beauteous bay, formerly
the seat of pleasure, and, at one period, the most populous spot in
Italy, is now very thinly inhabited; and the contrast is still stronger
between the antient opulence and present poverty, than between the
numbers of its antient and present inhabitants. It must be acknowledged,
that we can hardly look around us, in any part of this world, without
perceiving objects which, to a contemplative mind, convey reflections on
the instability of grandeur, and the sad vicissitudes and reverses to
which human affairs are liable; but _here_ those objects are so numerous,
and so striking, that they must make an impression on the most careless
passenger.



LETTER LXVI.


                                                                  Naples.

As the Court are not at present at Casserta, we have not seen that place
in all its splendour; we passed, however, one very agreeable day there,
with Lady H—— and S—H—— F——n.

The palace at Casserta was begun in the year 1750, after a plan of
Vanvitelli; the work is now carried on under the direction of his
son. While the present King of Spain remained at Naples, there were
generally about two thousand workmen employed; at present there are
about five hundred. It will be finished in a few years, and will then,
unquestionably, be one of the most spacious and magnificent palaces in
Europe. It has been said, that London is too large a capital for the
island of Great Britain; and it has been compared to a turgid head
placed on an emaciated body. The palace of Casserta also seems out
of proportion with the revenues of this kingdom. It is not, properly
speaking, a head too large for the body; but rather an ornament, by much
too expensive and bulky for either head or body. This palace is situated
about sixteen miles north from Naples, on the plain where ancient Capua
stood. It was thought prudent to found a building, on which such sums
of money were to be lavished, at a considerable distance from Mount
Vesuvius. It were to be wished, that the contents of the cabinet at
Portici were removed from the same dangerous neighbourhood. That he might
not be limited in ground for the gardens, may have been his Spanish
Majesty’s motive for choosing that his palace should be at a distance
from Naples; and that it might not be exposed to insult from an enemy’s
fleet, was probably the reason that determined him to place it at a
distance from the sea.

This immense building is of a rectangular form, seven hundred and fifty
feet English, by five hundred and eighty; about one hundred and twelve
feet high, comprehending five habitable stories, which contain such a
number of apartments as will accommodate the most numerous court, without
any accessary buildings.

The rectangle is divided into four courts, each of about two hundred
and fifty-two feet by one hundred and seventy. In each of the two
principal fronts, are three corresponding gates, forming three openings,
which pierce the whole building. The middle gate forms the entry to a
magnificent portico, through which the coaches drive. In the middle
of this, and in the centre of the edifice, there is a vestibule of an
octogonal form, which opens into the four grand courts at four sides of
the octogon; two other sides open into the portico, one to the staircase;
and, at the eighth side, there is a statue of Hercules, crowned by
Victory, with this inscription,

    VIRTUS POST FORTIA FACTA CORONAT.

The grand staircase is adorned with the richest marble; the upper
vestibule to which you ascend by this noble stair, is an octogon also,
and surrounded by twenty-four pillars of yellow marble, each of which
is of one piece of eighteen feet high, without including the pedestal
or capital. From this upper vestibule there are entries into—But I
have a notion you are tired of this description, which I assure you is
likewise my case. I beg, therefore, you may take it for granted, that the
apartments within, particularly their Majesties, and that destined for
balls and theatrical entertainments, correspond with the magnificence of
the external appearance.

Among the workmen employed in finishing this palace and the gardens,
there are one hundred and fifty Africans; for as the King of Naples
is constantly at war with the Barbary States, he always has a number
of their sailors prisoners, all of whom are immediately employed as
slaves in the gallies, or at some public work. There are at present
at Casserta, about the same number of Christian slaves; all of these
have been condemned to this servitude for some crime, some of them for
the greatest of all crimes; they are, however, better clothed and fed
than the Africans. This is done, no doubt, in honour of the Christian
religion, and to demonstrate that Christians, even after they have been
found guilty of the blackest crimes, are worthier men, and more deserving
of lenity, than Mahometan prisoners, however innocent they may be in all
_other_ respects.

The gardens belonging to this palace are equally extensive and
magnificent. A great number of fine statues, most of them copies of the
best antique, are kept in a storehouse till the gardens are finished,
when they will be placed in them. The largest and finest elephant I ever
saw is here at present; he is kept by African slaves: they seem to know
how to manage him perfectly; he is well thriven, and goes through a
number of tricks and evolutions with much docility and judgment.

In the garden, there is an artificial water and island. This, if one
may venture to say so, seems a little injudicious; it brings to our
memory the bay of Naples, with its islands, a recollection by no means
favourable to this royal contrivance. In this island there is a kind of
a castle, regularly fortified, with a ditch around it, and ramparts,
bastions, sally-ports, &c. &c. and a numerous train of artillery, some of
them nine or ten _ouncers_. I no sooner entered this fort, than I wished
that Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim had been of our party; it would have
charmed the soul of the worthy veteran and his faithful servant.

I asked the man who attended us, What he imagined this fortification
was intended for?—Sir H—— F—— said, “The cannon were certainly designed
against the frogs, who were continually attempting to scale the ramparts
from the ditch.”—I asked again, What was the real design of erecting
this fort? The man answered, stretching out his arms, and making as wide
a circle with them as he could, “Tutto, tutto per il sollazo del Re.”
“Yes,” said I, “it is surely in the highest degree reasonable, that not
only this fort, but the whole kingdom, should be appropriated to the
amusement of his Majesty.”—“Certo,” replied the man. I wished to see how
far the fellow’s liberality would go—“Not only this kingdom,” continued
I, “but all Europe would be highly honoured in contributing to the
amusement of his Majesty.” “Certo, certo,” said the man.



LETTER LXVII.


                                                                  Naples.

The King and Queen lately paid a visit to four of the principal
nunneries in this town. Their motive was, to gratify the curiosity of
the Archduchess, and her husband, Prince Albert of Saxony. I ought to
have informed you, that this illustrious couple left Vienna some months
after us, with an intention to make the tour of Italy. We had the honour
of seeing them frequently while at Rome, where they conciliated the
affections of the Italian nobles by their obliging manners, as much as
they commanded respect by their high rank. The Archduchess is a very
beautiful woman, and more distinguished by the propriety of her conduct,
than by either birth or beauty. As white, by the link of contrast, is
connected with the idea of black; so this amiable Duchess sometimes
recals those to people’s memories, whose ideas of dignity are strongly
contrasted with hers. Conscious, from her infancy, of the highest rank,
and accustomed to honours, it never enters into her thoughts that any
person will fail in paying her a due respect; while they, eternally
jealous that enough of respect is not paid them, give themselves airs
which would be intolerable in an Empress. A smile of benignity puts all
who approach this Princess perfectly at their ease, and dignity sits as
smoothly on her as a well-made garment; while, on them, it bristles out
like the quills of a porcupine, or the feathers of an enraged turkey-cock.

As nobody is permitted to enter those convents, except on such
extraordinary occasions as this, when they are visited by the Sovereigns,
the British Minister seized this opportunity of procuring an order for
admitting the D—— of H—— and me. We accordingly accompanied him, and a
few others, who were in the King’s suite. I have seen various nunneries
in different parts of Europe, but none that could be compared even with
the meanest of those four in this city, for neatness and conveniency.
Each of them is provided with a beautiful garden; and the situation of
one is the happiest that can be imagined, commanding a prospect nearly
as extensive as that from the Carthusian convent near the castle of St.
Elmo. Those four nunneries are for the reception of young ladies of good
families; and, into one in particular, none but such as are of very high
rank can be admitted, either as pensioners, or to take the veil. Each
of the young ladies in this splendid convent, have both a summer and a
winter apartment, and many other accommodations unknown in other retreats
of this nature. The royal visitors were received in all of them by the
Lady Abbess, at the head of the oldest of the sisterhood; they were
afterwards presented with nosegays, and served with fruit, sweetmeats,
and a variety of cooling drinks, by the younger nuns. The Queen and her
amiable sister received all very graciously; conversing familiarly with
the Lady Abbesses, and asking a few obliging questions of each.

In one convent the company were surprised, on being led into a large
parlour, to find a table covered, and every appearance of a most
plentiful cold repast, consisting of several joints of meat, hams, fowl,
fish, and various other dishes. It seemed rather ill-judged to have
prepared a feast of such a solid nature immediately after dinner; for
those royal visits were made in the afternoon. The Lady Abbess, however,
earnestly pressed their Majesties to sit down, with which they complied,
and their example was followed by the Archduchess and some of the ladies;
the nuns stood behind, to serve their Royal guests. The Queen chose a
slice of cold turkey, which, on being cut up, turned out a large piece
of lemon ice, of the shape and appearance of a roasted turkey. All the
other dishes were ices of various kinds, disguised under the forms of
joints of meat, fish, and fowl, as above mentioned. The gaiety and good
humour of the King, the affable and engaging behaviour of the Royal
sisters, and the satisfaction which beamed from the plump countenance of
the Lady Abbess, threw an air of cheerfulness on this scene; which was
interrupted, however, by gleams of melancholy reflection, which failed
not to dart across the mind, at sight of so many victims to the pride
of family, to avarice, and superstition. Many of those victims were in
the full bloom of health and youth, and some of them were remarkably
handsome. There is something in a nun’s dress which renders the beauty
of a young woman more interesting than is in the power of the gayest,
richest, and most laboured ornaments. This certainly does not proceed
from any thing remarkably becoming in black and white flannel. The Lady
Abbess and the elderly nuns made no more impression in their vestal
robes, than those stale, forlorn dames, whom you may see displaying their
family jewels and shrivelled countenances every night at Ranelagh or in
the side-boxes. The interest you take in a beautiful woman is heightened
on seeing her in the dress of a nun, by the opposition which you imagine
exists between the life to which her rash vows have condemned her, and
that to which her own unbiassed inclination would have led her. You are
moved with pity, which you know is a-kin to love, on seeing a young
blooming creature doomed to retirement and self-denial, who was formed by
nature for society and enjoyment.

If we may credit the ancient poets, those young women who are confined to
a cloister life on any part of this coast, are more to be pitied than
they would be under the same restraint elsewhere. They tell us, the very
air in this part of Italy is repugnant to that kind of constitution, and
that turn of mind, of which it would be peculiarly happy for nuns to be
possessed. Propertius intreats his Cynthia not to remain too long on a
shore which he seems to think dangerous to the chastest maiden.

    Tu modo quamprimum corruptas desere Baias—
    ...
    Littora quæ fuerant castis inimica puellis.

Martial asserts, that a woman who came hither as chaste as Penelope, if
she remained any time, would depart as licentious and depraved as Helen,

    Penelope venit, abit Helene.

I have certainly met with ladies, after they had resided some time at
Naples, who, in point of character and constitution, were thought to have
a much stronger resemblance to Helen than to Penelope; but as I have
no great faith in the sudden operation of physical causes in matters
of this kind, I never doubted of those ladies having carried the same
disposition to Naples that they brought from it. Though there are not
wanting those who affirm, that the influence of this seducing climate
is evident _now_ in as strong a degree as it is described to have been
anciently; that it pervades people of all ranks and conditions, and that
in the convents themselves;

    Even there where frozen chastity retires,
    Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.

Others, who carry their researches still deeper, and pretend to have a
distinct knowledge of the effect of aliment through all its changes on
the human constitution, think, that the amorous disposition, imputed to
Neapolitans, is only in part owing to their voluptuous climate, but in a
far greater degree to the hot, sulphureous nature of their soil, which
those profound naturalists declare communicates its fiery qualities to
the juices of vegetables; thence they are conveyed to the animals who
feed on them, and particularly to man, whose nourishment consisting
both of animal and vegetable food, he must have in his veins a double
dose of the stimulating particles in question. No wonder, therefore, say
those nice investigators of cause and effect, that the inhabitants of
this country are more given to amorous indulgencies, than those who are
favoured with a chaster soil and a colder climate.

For my own part, I must acknowledge, that I have seen nothing, since
I came to Naples, to justify the general imputations above mentioned,
or to support this very ingenious theory. On the contrary, there are
circumstances from which the opposers of this system draw very different
conclusions; for every system of philosophy, like every Minister of Great
Britain, has an opposition. The gentlemen in opposition to the voluptuous
influence of this climate, and the fiery effects of this soil, undermine
the foundation of their antagonists’ theory, by asserting, that, so far
from being of a warmer complexion than their neighbours, the Neapolitans
are of colder constitutions, or more philosophic in the command of their
passions, than any people in Europe. Do not the lower class of men, say
they, strip themselves before the houses which front the bay, and bathe
in the sea without the smallest ceremony? Are not numbers of those stout,
athletic figures, during the heat of the day, seen walking and sporting
on the shore perfectly naked; and with no more idea of shame, than Adam
felt in his state of innocence; while the ladies from their coaches,
and the servant-maids and young girls, who pass along, contemplate this
singular spectacle with as little apparent emotion as the ladies in Hyde
Park behold a review of the horse-guards?

As Sir W—— and L——y H—— are preparing to visit England, and the D—— feels
no inclination to remain after they are gone, we intend to return to Rome
in a few days.



LETTER LXVIII.


                                                                    Rome.

We delayed visiting Tivoli, Frescati, and Albano, till our return from
Naples.

The Campagna is an uninhabited plain, surrounding the city of Rome,
bounded on one side by the sea, and on the other by an amphitheatre of
hills, crowned with towns, villages, and villas, which form the finest
landscapes that can be imagined. The ancient Romans were wont to seek
shelter from the scorching heats of summer, among the woods and lakes of
those hills; and the Cardinals and Roman Princes, at the same season,
retire to their villas; while many of the wealthier sort of citizens take
lodgings in the villages, during the season of gathering the vines.

On the road from Rome to Tivoli, about three miles from the latter,
strangers are desired to visit a kind of lake called Solfatara formerly
Lakus Albulus, and there shown certain substances, to which they give
the name of Floating Islands. They are nothing else than bunches of
bullrushes, springing from a thin soil, formed by dust and sand blown
from the adjacent ground, and glued together by the bitumen which swims
on the surface of this lake, and the sulphur with which its waters are
impregnated. Some of these islands are twelve or fifteen yards in length;
the soil is sufficiently strong to bear five or six people, who, by the
means of a pole, may move to different parts of the lake, as if they
were in a boat. This lake empties itself, by a whitish, muddy stream,
into the Teverone, the ancient Anio; a vapour, of a sulphureous smell,
arising from it as it flows. The ground near this rivulet, as also around
the borders of the lake, resounds, as if it were hollow, when a horse
gallops over it. The water of this lake has the singular quality of
covering every substance which it touches with a hard, white, stoney
matter. On throwing a bundle of small sticks or shrubs into it, they
will, in a few days, be covered with a white crust; but, what seems still
more extraordinary, this encrustating quality is not so strong in the
lake itself, as in the canal, or little rivulet that runs from it; and
the farther the water has flowed from the lake, till it is quite lost in
the Anio, the stronger this quality is. Those small, round encrustations,
which cover the sand and pebbles, resembling sugar-plums, are called
Confetti di Tivoli. Fishes are found in the Anio, both above and below
Tivoli, till it receives the Albula; after which, during the rest of its
course to the Tiber, there are none. The waters of this lake had a high
medical reputation anciently, but they are in no esteem at present.

Near the bottom of the eminence on which Tivoli stands, are the ruins
of the vast and magnificent villa built by the emperor Adrian. In
this were comprehended an amphitheatre, several temples, a library, a
circus, a naumachia. The emperor also gave to the buildings and gardens
of this famous villa the names of the most celebrated places; as the
Academia, the Lycæum, the Prytaneum of Athens, the Tempe of Thessaly,
and the Elysian fields and infernal regions of the poets. There were
also commodious apartments for a vast number of guests, all admirably
distributed with baths, and every conveniency. Every quarter of the world
contributed to ornament this famous villa, whose spoils have since formed
the principal ornaments of the Campidoglio, the Vatican, and the palaces
of the Roman Princes. It is said to have been three miles in length, and
above a mile in breadth. Some antiquarians make it much larger; but the
ruins, now remaining, do not mark a surface of a quarter of that extent.

At no great distance, they shew the place to which the Eastern Queen
Zenobia was confined, after she was brought in triumph to Rome by the
emperor Aurelian.

The town of Tivoli is now wretchedly poor; it boasts however greater
antiquity than Rome itself, being the ancient Tibur, which, Horace
informs us, was founded by a Grecian colony.

    Tibur Argæo positum colono
    Sit meæ sedes utinam senectæ.

Ovid gives it the same origin, in the fourth book of the Fasti.

    ——Jam mœnia Tiburis udi
    Stabant; Argolicæ quod posuere manus.

This was a populous and flourishing town in remoter antiquity; but it
appears to have been thinly inhabited in the reign of Augustus. Horace,
in an Epistle to Mæcenas, says,

    Parvum parva decent. Mihi jam non Regia Roma,
    Sed _vacuum Tibur_ placet——

Though the town itself was not populous, the beauty of the situation, and
wholesomeness of the air, prompted great numbers of illustrious Romans,
both before the final destruction of the Republic, and afterwards in
Augustus’s time, to build country-houses in the neighbourhood. Julius
Cæsar had a villa here, which he was under the necessity of selling
to defray the expence of the public shews and games he exhibited to
the people during his Ædileship. Plutarch says, that his liberality
and magnificence, on this occasion, obscured the glory of all who had
preceded him in the office, and gained the hearts of the people to such
a degree, that they were ready to invent new offices and new honours for
him. He then laid the foundation of that power and popularity, which
enabled him, in the end, to overturn the constitution of his country.
Caius Cassius had also a country house here; where Marcus Brutus and
he are said to have had frequent meetings, and to have formed the plan
which terminated the ambition of Cæsar, and again offered to Rome that
freedom which she had not the virtue to accept. Here, also, was the
villa of Augustus, whose success in life arose at the field of Philippi
from which he fled, was confirmed by the death of the most virtuous
citizens of Rome, and who, without the talents, reaped the fruits of
the labours and vast projects of Julius. Lepidus the Triumvir, Cæcilius
Metellus, Quintilius Varus, the poets Catullus and Propertius, and other
distinguished Romans, had villas in this town or its environs; and you
are shewn the spots on which they stood; but nothing renders Tibur so
interesting, as the frequent mention which Horace makes of it in his
writings. His great patron and friend Mæcenas had a villa here, the
ruins of which are to be seen on the south bank of the Anio; and it was
pretty generally supposed, that the poet’s own house and farm were very
near it, and immediately without the walls of Tibur; but it has been of
late asserted, with great probability, that Horace’s farm was situated
nine miles above that of Mæcenas’s, at the side of a stream called
Licenza, formerly Digentia, near the hill Lucretilis, in the country of
the ancient Sabines. Those who hold this opinion say, that when Horace
talks of Tibur, he alludes to the villa of Mæcenas; but when he mentions
Digentia, or Lucretilis, his own house and farm are to be understood; as
in the eighteenth Epistle of the first book,

    Me quoties resicit gelidus Digentia rivus,
    Quem Mandela bibit, rugosus frigore pagus;
    Quid sentire putas, quid credis, amice, precari?

the seventeenth Ode of the first book,

    Velox amænum sæpe Lucretilem
      Mutat Lycæo Faunus;——

and in other passages. But whether the poet’s house and farm were near
the town of Tibur, or at a distance from it, his writings sufficiently
show that he spent much of his time there; and it is probable that he
composed great part of his works in that favourite retreat. This he
himself in some measure declares, in that fine Ode addressed to Julius
Antonius, son of Mark Antony, by Fulvia; the same whom Augustus first
pardoned, and afterwards put privately to death, on account of an
intrigue into which Antonius was seduced by the abandoned Julia, daughter
of Augustus.

    ——Ego, apis Matinæ
            More modoque,
    Grata carpentis thyma per laborem
    Plurimum, circa nemus uvidique
    Tiburis ripas, operosa parvus
            Carmina fingo.

If you ever come to Tivoli, let it not be with a numerous party; come
alone, or with a single friend, and be sure to put your Horace in your
pocket. You will read him here with more enthusiasm than elsewhere; you
will imagine you see the philosophic poet wandering among the groves,
sometimes calmly meditating his moral precepts, and sometimes _his eye
in a fine frenzy_ rolling with all the fire of poetic enthusiasm. If
Tivoli had nothing else to recommend it but its being so often sung by
the most elegant of the poets, and its having been the residence of so
many illustrious men, these circumstances alone would render it worthy
the attention of travellers; but it will also be interesting to many on
account of its cascade, the Sibyl’s Temple, and the Villa Estense.

The river Anio, deriving its source from a part of the Apennines, fifty
miles above Tivoli, glides through a plain till it comes near that
town, when it is confined for a short space between two hills, covered
with groves. These were supposed to have been the residence of the
Sibyl Albunea, to whom the temple was dedicated. The river, moving with
augmented rapidity as its channel is confined, at length rushes headlong
over a lofty precipice; the noise of its fall resounds through the hills
and groves of Tivoli; a liquid cloud arises from the foaming water,
which afterwards divides into numberless small cascades, waters several
orchards, and, having gained the plain, flows quietly for the rest of its
course, till it loses itself in the Tiber. It is not surprising that the
following lines have been so often quoted by those who visit the Sibyl’s
Temple, because they delineate, in the most expressive manner, some of
the principal features of the country around it,

      Me nec tam patiens Lacedæmon,
    Nec tam Larissæ percussit campus opimæ,
      Quam domus Albuneæ resonantis,
    Et præceps Anio, et Tiburni lucus, et uda
      Mobilibus pomaria rivis.

The elegant and graceful form of the beautiful little temple I have so
often mentioned, indicates its having been built when the arts were in
the highest state of perfection at Rome. Its proportions are not more
happy than its situation, on a point of the mountain fronting the great
cascade.

Before they take their leave of Tivoli, strangers usually visit the Villa
Estense, belonging to the Duke of Modena. It was built by Hippolitus
of Este, Cardinal of Ferrara, and brother to the duke of that name; but
more distinguished by being the person to whom Ariosto addressed his
Poem of Orlando Furioso. The house itself is not in the finest style
of architecture. There are many whimsical waterworks in the gardens.
Those who do not approve of the taste of their construction, still owe
them some degree of respect, on account of their being the first grand
waterworks in Europe; much more ancient than those of Versailles. The
situation is noble, the terraces lofty, the trees large and venerable;
and though the ground is not laid out to the greatest advantage, yet the
whole has a striking air of magnificence and grandeur.



LETTER LXIX.


                                                                    Rome.

Frescati is an agreeable village, on the declivity of a hill, about
twelve miles from Rome. It derives its name from the coolness of the
air, and _fresh_ verdure of the fields around. It is a bishop’s see,
and always possessed by one of the six eldest Cardinals. At present it
belongs to the Cardinal Duke of York, who, whether in the country or at
Rome, passes the greatest part of his time in the duties and ceremonies
of a religion, of whose truth he seems to have the fullest conviction;
and who, living himself in great simplicity, and not in the usual style
of Cardinals, spends a large proportion of his revenue in acts of charity
and benevolence; _the world forgetting, by the world forgot_, except by
those who enjoy the comforts of life through his bounty.

Tivoli was the favourite residence of the ancient Romans. The moderns
give the preference to Frescati, in whose neighbourhood some of the most
magnificent villas in Italy are situated.

The villa Aldobrandini, called also Belvedere, is the most remarkable,
on account of its fine situation, extensive gardens, airy terraces, its
grottos, cascades, and waterworks. Over a saloon, near the grand cascade,
is the following inscription:

    HUC EGO MIGRAVI MUSIS COMITATUS APOLLO,
    HIC DELPHI, HIC HELICON, HIC MIHI DELOS ERIT.

The walls are adorned with a representation of Apollo and the Muses;
and some of that God’s adventures are painted in Fresco by Domenichino,
particularly the manner in which he treated Marsyas. This, in my humble
opinion, had better been omitted; both because it is a disagreeable
subject for a picture, and because it does no honour to Apollo. Marsyas
unquestionably was an object of contempt and ridicule, on account of
his presumption; but the punishment said to have been inflicted on him
exceeds all bounds, and renders the inflictor more detestable in our
eyes than the insolent satyr himself. This story is so very much out
of character, and so unlike the elegant god of poetry and music, that
I am inclined to suspect it is not true. There is a report, equally
incredible, which has been propagated by malicious people concerning his
sister Diana; I do not mean her rencounter with Actæon, for the Goddess
of Chastity may, without inconsistency, be supposed cruel, but it is
quite impossible to reconcile her general character with the stories of
her nocturnal visits to Endymion.

The villa Ludovisi is remarkable for its gardens and waterworks. The
hills on which Frescati is situated, afford great abundance of water, a
circumstance of which the owners of those villas have profited, all of
them being ornamented with fountains, cascades, or waterworks of some
kind or other.

The villa Taverna, belonging to the Prince Borghese, is one of the finest
and best furnished of any in the neighbourhood of Rome. From this you
ascend through gardens to Monte Dracone, another palace on a more lofty
situation, belonging also to that Prince, and deriving its name from the
arms of his family. The ancient city of Tusculum is supposed to have
stood on the spot, or very near it, where Frescati now is built; and at
the distance of about a mile and a half, it is generally believed, was
the Tusculan villa of Cicero, at a place now called Grotta Ferrata. Some
Greek monks of the order of St. Basil, flying from the persecution of the
Saracens in the eleventh century, were permitted to build a convent on
the ruins of Cicero’s famous house. They still perform the service in the
Greek language.

Whichever way you walk from Frescati, you have the most delightful
scenes before you. I passed two very agreeable days, wandering through
the gardens and from villa to villa. The pleasure of our party was not a
little augmented by the observations of Mr. B——, a lively old gentleman
from Scotland, a man of worth but no antiquarian, and indeed no admirer
of any thing, ancient or modern, which has not some relation to his
native country; but to ballance that indifference, he feels the warmest
regard for every thing which has. We extended our walks as far as the
lake of Nemi, a bason of water lying in a very deep bottom, about four
miles in circumference, whose surrounding hills are covered with tall and
shady trees. Here

    Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws
    A death-like silence, and a dread repose;
    Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
    Shades every flower, and darkens every green.

I never saw a place more formed for contemplation and solemn ideas. In
ancient times there was a temple here sacred to Diana. The lake itself
was called Speculum Dianæ, and Lacus Triviæ, and is the place mentioned
in the seventh Book of the Æneid, where the Fury Alecto is described
blowing the trumpet of war, at whose dreadful sound the woods and
mountains shook, and mothers, trembling for their children, pressed them
to their bosoms.

    Contremuit nemus, et sylvæ intonuere profundæ,
    Audiit et triviæ longe lacus——[7]
    Et trepidæ matres pressere ad pectora natus.

We returned by Gensano, Marino, La Riccia, and Castel Gondolfo. All the
villages and villas I have named communicate with each other by fine
walks and avenues of lofty trees, whose intermingling branches form a
continued shade for the traveller. Castel Gondolfo is a little village
near the lake Albano, on one extremity of which is a castle, belonging
to his Holiness, from which the village takes its name; there is nothing
remarkably fine in this villa, except its situation. Near the village
of Castel Gondolfo, is the villa Barbarini, within the gardens of which
are the ruins of an immense palace, built by the Emperor Domitian. There
is a charming walk, about a mile in length, along the side of the lake
from Castel Gondolfo to the town of Albano. The lake of Albano is an oval
piece of water of about seven or eight miles circumference, whose margin
is finely adorned with groves and trees of various verdure, beautifully
reflected from the transparent bosom of the lake; and which, with the
surrounding hills, and the Castel Gondolfo which crowns one of them, has
a fine picturesque effect.

The grand scale on which the beauties of nature appear in Switzerland
and the Alps, has been considered by some, as too vast for the pencil;
but among the sweet hills and vallies of Italy, her features are brought
nearer the eye, are fully seen and understood, and appear in all the
bloom of rural loveliness. Tivoli, Albano, and Frescati, therefore,
are the favourite abodes of the landscape-painters who travel to this
country for improvement; and in the opinion of some, those delightful
villages furnish studies better suited to the powers of their art, than
even Switzerland itself. Nothing can surpass the admirable assemblage of
hills, meadows, lakes, cascades, gardens, ruins, groves, and terraces,
which charm the eye, as you wander among the shades of Frescati and
Albano, which appear in new beauty as they are viewed from different
points, and captivate the beholder with endless variety. One reflection
obtrudes itself on the mind, and disturbs the satisfaction which such
pleasing scenes would otherwise produce; it arises from beholding the
poverty of infinitely the greater part of the inhabitants of those
villages—Not that they seem miserable or discontented—a few roasted
chesnuts, and some bunches of grapes, which they may have for a penny,
will maintain them; but the easier they are satisfied, and the less
repining they are, the more earnestly do we wish that they were better
provided for. Good heavens! why should so much be heaped on a few, whom
profusion cannot satisfy; while a bare competency is withheld from
multitudes, whom penury cannot render discontented?

The most commanding view is from the garden of a convent of Capucins, at
no great distance from Albano. Directly before you is the lake, with the
mountains and woods which surround it, and the castle of Gondolfo; on one
hand is Frescati with all its villas; on the other, the towns of Albano,
La Riccia, and Gensano; beyond these you have an uninterrupted view of
the Campagna, with St. Peter’s church and the city of Rome in the middle;
the whole prospect being bounded by the hills of Tivoli, the Apennines,
and the Mediterranean.

While we contemplated all these objects with pleasure and admiration,
an English gentleman of the party said to Mr. B——, “There is not a
prospect equal to this in all France or Germany, and not any superior
even in England.” “That I well believe,” replied the Caledonian; “but
if I had you in Scotland, I could shew you several with which this is
by no means to be compared.” “Indeed! Pray in what part of Scotland are
they to be seen?” “I presume you never was at the castle of Edinburgh,
Sir?” “Never.” “Or at Stirling?” “Never.” “Did you ever see Loch Lomond,
Sir?” “I never did.” “I suppose I need not ask, whether you have ever
been in Aberdeenshire, or the Highlands, or—” “I must confess once for
all,” interrupted the Englishman, “that I have the misfortune never to
have seen any part of Scotland.” “Then I am not surprised,” said the
Scot, taking a large pinch of snuff, “that you think this the finest
view you ever saw.” “I presume you think those in Scotland a great deal
finer?” “A very great deal indeed, Sir; why that lake, for example, is
a pretty thing enough; I dare swear, many an English nobleman would
give a good deal to have such another before his house; but Loch Lomond
is thirty miles in length, Sir! there are above twenty islands in it,
Sir! that is a lake for you. As for their desert of a Campagna, as they
call it, no man who has eyes in his head, Sir, will compare it to the
fertile valley of Stirling, with the Forth, the most beautiful river
in Europe, twining through it.” “Do you really in your conscience
imagine,” said the Englishman, “that the Forth is a finer river than the
Thames?” “The Thames!” exclaimed the North Briton, “Why, my dear Sir,
the Thames at London is a mere gutter, in comparison of the Firth of
Forth at Edinburgh.” “I suppose then,” said the Englishman, recovering
himself, “you do not approve of the view from Windsor Castle?” “I ask
your pardon,” replied the other; “I approve of it very much; it is an
exceeding pretty kind of a prospect; the country appears from it as
agreeable to the sight as any plain flat country, crowded with trees,
and intersected by enclosures, can well do; but I own I am of opinion,
that mere fertile fields, woods, rivers, and meadows, can never, of
themselves, perfectly satisfy the eye.” “You imagine, no doubt,” said the
Englishman, “that a few heath-covered mountains and rocks embellish a
country very much?” “I am precisely of that opinion,” said the Scot; “and
you will as soon convince me that a woman may be completely beautiful
with fine eyes, good teeth, and a fair complexion, though she should
not have a _nose_ on her face, as that a landscape, or country, can be
completely beautiful without a mountain.” “Well, but here are mountains
enough,” resumed the other; “look around you.” “Mountains!” cried the
Caledonian, “very pretty mountains, truly! They call that Castel Gondolfo
of theirs a castle too, and a palace, forsooth! but does that make it
a residence fit for a Prince?” “Why, upon my word, I do not think it
much amiss,” said the other; “it looks full as well as the palace of St.
James’s.” “The palace of St. James’s,” exclaimed the Scot, “is a scandal
to the nation; it is both a shame and a sin, that so great a monarch as
the King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, with his Royal consort,
and their large family of small children, should live in a shabby old
cloister, hardly good enough for monks. The palace of Holyrood-house,
indeed, is a residence meet for a king.” “And the gardens; pray what sort
of gardens have you belonging to that palace?” said the Englishman; “I
have been told you do not excel in those.” “But we excel in gardeners,”
replied the other, “which are as much preferable as the creator is
preferable to the created.” “I am surprised, however,” rejoined the
South Briton, “that, in a country like yours, where there are so many
creators, so very few fruit-gardens are created.” “Why, Sir, it is not
to be expected,” said Mr. B——, “that anyone country will excel in every
thing. Some enjoy a climate more favourable for peaches, and vines, and
nectarines; but, by G—, Sir, no country on earth produces better men and
women than Scotland.” “I dare say none does,” replied the other. “So
as France excels in wines, England in wool and oxen, Arabia in horses,
and other countries in other animals, you imagine Scotland excels all
others in the human species.” “What I said, Sir, was, that the human
species in no country excel those in Scotland; and that I assert again,
and will maintain, Sir, to my last gasp.” “I do not intend to deny it,”
said the Englishman; “but you will permit me to observe, that, men
being its staple commodity, it must be owned that Scotland carries on
a brisk trade; for I know no country that has a greater _exportation_;
you will find Scotchmen in all the countries of the world.” “So much the
better for all the countries of the world,” said Mr. B——; “for every
body knows that the Scotch cultivate and improve the arts and sciences
wherever they go.” “They certainly improve their own fortunes wherever
they go,” rejoined the other;—“like their gardeners, though they can
create little or nothing at home, they often create very good fortunes
in other countries; and this is one reason of our having the pleasure of
so much of their company in London.” “Whether it affords you pleasure
or not, Sir, nothing can be more certain,” replied the Scot in the most
serious tone, “than that you may _improve_ very much by their company and
example. But there are various reasons,” continued he, “for so many of
my countrymen sojourning in London. That city is now, in some measure,
the capital of Scotland as well as of England. The seat of government is
there; the King of Scotland, as well as of England, resides there; the
Scotch nobility and gentry have as good a right to be near the person
of their Sovereign as the English; and you must allow, that, if some
Scotchmen make fortunes in England, many of our best estates are also
spent there. But you mean to say, that the Scotch, in general, are poor
in comparison of the English. This we do not deny, and cannot possibly
forget, your countrymen refresh our memories with it so often. We allow,
therefore, that you have this advantage over us;—and the Persians had the
same over the Macedonians at the battle of Arbela. But, whether Scotland
be poor or rich, those Scots who settle in England must carry industry,
talents, or wealth with them, otherwise they will starve there as well
as elsewhere; and when one country draws citizens of this description
from another, I leave you to judge which has the most reason to complain.
And let me tell you, Sir, upon the whole, the advantages which England
derives from the Union, are manifest and manifold.” “I cannot say,”
replied the Englishman, “that I have thought much on this subject; but
I shall be obliged to you if you will enumerate a few of them.” “In the
first place,” resumed the Scot, “Has she not greatly increased in wealth
since that time?” “She has so,” replied the other, smiling, “and I never
knew the _real cause_ before.” “In the next place, Has she not acquired
a million and a half of subjects, who otherwise would have been with her
enemies? For this, _and other reasons_, they are equivalent to three
millions. In the third place, Has she not acquired security? without
which riches are of no value. There is no door open _now_, Sir, by which
the French can enter into your country. They dare as soon be d—— as
attempt to invade Scotland; so if you can defend your own coast, there is
no fear of you; but without a perfect union with Scotland, England could
not enjoy the principal benefit she derives from her insular situation.”
“Not till Scotland should be subdued,” said the Englishman. “Subdued!”
repeated the astonished Scot; “let me tell you, Sir, _that_ is a very
strange hypothesis; the fruitless attempts of many centuries might have
taught you that the thing is impossible; and, if you are conversant in
history, you will find, that, after the decline of the Roman Empire,
the course of conquest was from _the North to the South_.” “You mean,”
said the South Briton, “that Scotland would have conquered England.”
“Sir,” replied the other, “I think the English as brave a nation as ever
existed, and therefore I will not say that the Scotch are braver; far
less shall I assert, that _they_, consisting of only a fifth part of
the numbers, could subdue the English; but I am sure, that rather than
submit they would try; and you will admit that the trial would be no
advantage to either country.” “Although I am fully convinced,” said the
Englishman, “how the experiment would end, I should be sorry to see it
made, particularly at this time.” “Yet, Sir,” rejoined the Scot, “there
are people of your country, as I am told, who, even at _this time_,
endeavour to exasperate the minds of the inhabitants of one part of
Great Britain against the natives of the other, and to create dissension
between two countries, whose mutual safety depends on their good
agreement; two countries whom Nature herself, by separating them from
the rest of the world, and encircling them with her azure bond of union,
seems to have intended for one.” “I do assure you, my good Sir,” said the
English Gentleman, “I am not of the number of those who wish to raise
such dissension. I love the Scotch; I always thought them a sensible and
gallant people; and some of the most valued friends I have on earth, are
of your country.” “You are a man of honour and discernment,” said the
Caledonian, seizing him eagerly by the hand; “and I protest, without
prejudice or partiality, that I never knew a man of that character who
was not of your way of thinking.”

    [7] The intervening words are cold, and not much connected with
    the fine line which concludes the quotation.



LETTER LXX.


                                                                Florence.

We arrived in this city the third day after leaving Rome, though I have
delayed writing till now. I wished to know something of the place, and
to be a little acquainted with the people. The last is not difficult;
because the Florentines are naturally affable, and the hospitality
and politeness of the British Minister afford his countrymen frequent
opportunities of forming an acquaintance with the best company in
Florence. This gentleman has been here about thirty years, and is greatly
esteemed by the Florentines. It is probably owing to this circumstance,
and to the magnificent stile in which some English Noblemen live, who
have long resided here, that the English, in general, are favourites
with the inhabitants of this place. L——d C——r’s conduct and disposition
confirm them in the opinion they long have had of the good-nature and
integrity of the nation to which he belongs. His Lady is of an amiable
character, and affords them a very favourable specimen of English beauty.

We have had no opportunity of seeing the Grand Duchess. She is of a
domestic turn, and lives much in the country with her children, of which
she has a comfortable number; but the Grand Duke having come to town for
two days, we had the honour of being presented to him at the Palazzo
Pitti. There is a striking resemblance of each other in all the branches
of the Austrian family. Wherever I had met with the Grand Duke, I should
immediately have known that he belonged to it. He, as well his brother
who resides at Milan, has, in a remarkable degree, the thick lip; which
has long been a distinguishing feature in the Austrian family. He is a
handsome man, is rapid in his words and motions, and has more vivacity
in his manner than either the Emperor or Archduke; like them, he is
good-humoured, condescending and affable. After the extinction of the
Medici family, the Florentines grumbled on account of the disadvantage
and inconveniency of having Sovereigns who did not reside among them.
They exclaimed that their money was carried away to a distant country,
and the most profitable offices at home filled by foreigners. They have
now got a Sovereign who resides and spends his revenue among them, and
has provided the State most plentifully in heirs; yet they still grumble.
They complain of the taxes—But in what country of Europe is there not the
same complaint?

Florence is, unquestionably, a very beautiful city. Independent of
the churches and palaces, some of which are very magnificent, the
architecture of the houses in general is in a good taste, the streets
are remarkably clean, and paved with large broad stones, chiseled so
as to prevent the horses from sliding. This city is divided into two
unequal parts by the river Arno, over which there are no less than four
bridges in sight of each other. That called the Ponte della Trinità, is
uncommonly elegant. It is built entirely of white marble, and ornamented
with four beautiful statues, representing the Four Seasons. The quays,
the buildings on each side, and the bridges, render that part of Florence
through which the river runs, by far the finest. The same is the case at
Paris; and it happens fortunately for those two cities, that those parts
are almost constantly before the eye, on account of the necessity people
are continually under of passing and repassing those bridges; whereas
in London, whose river and bridges are far superior to any in France or
Italy, people may live whole seasons, attend all the public amusements,
and drive every day from one end of the town to the other, without ever
seeing the Thames or the bridges, unless they go on purpose. For this
reason, when a foreigner is asked which he thinks the finest city, Paris
or London; the moment Paris is mentioned, the Louvre, and that striking
part which is situated between the Pont Royal and Pont Neuf, presents
itself to his imagination. He can recollect no part of London equal in
magnificence to this; and ten to one, if he decides directly, it will be
in favour of Paris: but if he takes a little more time, and compares the
two capitals, street by street, square by square, and bridge with bridge,
he will probably be of a different opinion. The number of inhabitants in
Florence is calculated by some at eighty thousand. The streets, squares,
and fronts of the palaces are adorned with a great number of statues;
some of them by the best modern masters, Michael Angelo, Bandinelli,
Donatello, Giovanni di Bologna, Benvenuto, Cellini, and others. A
taste for the arts must be kept alive, independent almost of any other
encouragement, in a city where so many specimens are continually before
the eyes of the inhabitants. There are towns in Europe, where statues,
exposed night and day within the reach of the common people, would run a
great risque of being disfigured and mutilated; here they are as safe as
if they were shut up in the Great Duke’s gallery.

Florence has been equally distinguished by a spirit for commerce and
for the fine arts; two things which are not always united. Some of the
Florentine merchants formerly were men of vast wealth, and lived in a
most magnificent manner. One of them, about the middle of the fifteenth
century, built that noble fabric, which, from the name of its founder,
is still called the Palazzo Pitti. The man was ruined by the prodigious
expence of this building, which was immediately purchased by the Medici
family, and has continued, ever since, to be the residence of the
Sovereigns. The gardens belonging to this palace are on the declivity of
an eminence. On the summit there is a kind of fort, called Belvedere.
From this, and from some of the higher walks, you have a complete view of
the city of Florence, and the beauteous vale of Arno, in the middle of
which it stands. The prospect is bounded on every side by an amphitheatre
of fertile hills, adorned with country-houses and gardens. In no part of
Italy, that I have seen, are there so many villas, belonging to private
persons, as in the neighbourhood of this city; the habitations of the
peasants, likewise, seem much more neat and commodious. The country all
around is divided into small farms, with a neat farm-house on each.
Tuscany produces a considerable quantity of corn, as well as excellent
wine, and great quantities of silk. The peasants have a look of health
and contentment: the natural beauty of the Italian countenance not being
disgraced by dirt, or deformed by misery, the women in this country seem
handsomer, and are, in reality, more blooming, than in other parts of
Italy. When at work, or when they bring their goods to market, their
hair is confined by a silk net, which is also much worn at Naples; but on
holidays they dress in a very picturesque manner. They do not wear gowns,
but a kind of jacket without sleeves. They have no other covering for
the upper part of the arm but their shift sleeves, which are tied with
riband. Their petticoats are generally of a scarlet colour. They wear
ear-rings and necklaces. Their hair is adjusted in a becoming manner, and
adorned with flowers. Above one ear they fix a little straw hat; and on
the whole have a more gay, smart, coquetish air, than any country-girls I
ever saw.

Churches, and palaces, and statues, are no doubt ornamental to a city;
and the Princes are praise-worthy who have taken pains to rear and
collect them; but the greatest of all ornaments are cheerful, happy,
living countenances. The taste is not general; but, I thank God, I know
some people who, to a perfect knowledge and unaffected love of the
fine arts, join a passion for a collection of this kind, who cannot,
without uneasiness, see one face in a different style, and whose lives
and fortunes are employed in smoothing the corrosions of penury and
misfortune, and _restoring_ the _original_ air of satisfaction and
cheerfulness to the human countenance. Happy the people whose Sovereign
is inspired with this species of virtù!



LETTER LXXI.


                                                                Florence.

I have generally, since our arrival at Florence, passed two hours every
forenoon in the famous gallery. Connoisseurs, and those who wish to be
thought such, remain much longer. But I plainly feel this is enough for
me; and I do not think it worth while to prolong my visit after I begin
to be tired, merely to be thought what I am not. Do not imagine, however,
that I am blind to the beauties of this celebrated collection; by far the
most valuable now in the world.

One of the most interesting parts of it, in the eyes of many, is the
series of Roman Emperors, from Julius Cæsar to Gallienus, with a
considerable number of their Empresses, arranged opposite to them.
This series is almost complete; but wherever the bust of an Emperor
is wanting, the place is filled up by that of some other distinguished
Roman. Such an honour is bestowed with great propriety on Seneca, Cicero,
or Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus. But, on perceiving a head of
Antinous, the favourite of Adrian, among them, a gentleman whispered
me,—_that_ minion, pointing to the head, would not have been admitted
into such company any where but in Florence. It ought, however, to be
remembered, that the Gallery is not an Ægyptian court of judicature,
where Princes are tried, after death, for crimes committed during their
life. If the vices of originals had excluded their portraits, what would
have become of the series of Roman Emperors, and particularly of the bust
of the great Julius himself, who was husband to all the wives and —— ——
—— The gallery is sacred to art, and every production which she avows,
has a right to a place here.

Amidst those noble specimens of ancient sculpture, some of the works
of Michael Angelo are not thought undeserving a place. His Bacchus
and Faunus, of which the well-known story is told, have been by some
preferred to the two antique figures representing the same.

The beautiful head of Alexander is universally admired by all the
virtuosi; though they differ in opinion with regard to the circumstance
in which the sculptor has intended to represent that hero. Some imagine
he is dying; Mr. Addison imagines he sighs for new worlds to conquer;
others that he faints with pain and loss of blood from the wounds he
received at Oxydrace. Others think the features express not bodily pain
or languor, but sorrow and remorse, for having murdered his faithful
friend Clitus. You see how very uncertain a business this of a virtuoso
is. I can hardly believe that the artist intended simply to represent
him dying; there was nothing very creditable in the manner he brought
on his death. Nor do I think he would choose to represent him moaning,
or languishing with pain or sickness; there is nothing heroic in that;
nor do we sympathise so readily with the pains of the body, as with those
of the mind. As for the story of his weeping for new worlds, he will
excite still less sympathy, if that is the cause of his affliction. The
last conjecture, therefore, that the artist intended to represent him
in a violent fit of remorse, is the most probable. The unfinished bust
of Marcus Brutus, by Michael Angelo, admirably expresses the determined
firmness of character which belonged to that virtuous Roman. The artist,
while he wrought at this, seems to have had in his mind Horace’s Ode

    Justum et tenacem propositi virum
    Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
      Non vultus instantis tyranni
        Mente quatit solidâ, &c.

This would, in my opinion, be a more suitable inscription for the bust,
than the concetto of Cardinal Bembo, which is at present under it[8].
Michael Angelo, in all probability was pleased with the expression he
had already given the features, and chose to leave it as an unfinished
sketch, rather than risk weakening it by an attempt to improve it.

The virtuosi differ in opinion respecting the Arrotino, or Whetter,
as much as about the head of Alexander. A young gentleman said to an
antiquarian, while he contemplated the Arrotino, “I believe, Sir, it
is imagined that this statue was intended for the slave, who, while
he was whetting his knife, overheard Catiline’s conspiracy.”—“That is
the vulgar opinion,” said the other; “but the statue was, in reality,
done for a peasant, who discovered the plot into which the two sons of
Junius Brutus entered for the restoration of Tarquin.” “I ask pardon,
Sir,” said the young man; “but although one may easily see that the
figure listens with the most exquisite expression of attention, yet I
should think it very difficult to delineate in the features, whether the
listener heard a conspiracy, or any thing else which greatly interested
him, and absolutely impossible to mark, by any expression of countenance,
what particular conspiracy he is hearing.” “Your observation is just,
young man,” said the antiquarian, “when applied to modern artists, but
entirely the reverse when applied to the ancient. Now, for my own part,
I plainly perceive in that man’s countenance, and after you have studied
those matters as profoundly as I have done you will see the same, that
it is the conspiracy for the restoration of Tarquin, and no other plot
whatever, which he listens to; as for Catiline’s conspiracy, it is not
possible he could know any thing about it; for, good God! people ought
to reflect, that the man must have been dead four hundred years before
Catiline was born.”

As we are now in the famous octogonal room, called Tribuna, I ought, if
I had any thing new to say, to descant a little on the distinguishing
excellencies of the Dancing Faun, the Wrestlers, the Venus Urania, the
Venus Victrix; and I would most willingly pay the poor tribute of my
praise to that charming figure known by the name of Venus de Medicis.
Yet, in the midst of all my admiration, I confess I do not think her
equal to her brother Apollo in the Vatican. In that sublime figure, to
the most perfect features and proportions, is joined an air which seems
more than human. The Medicean Venus is unquestionably a perfect model of
female beauty; but while Apollo appears more than a man, the Venus seems
precisely a beautiful woman.

In the same room are many valuable curiosities, besides a collection
of admirable pictures by the best masters. I do not know whether any
are more excellent of their kind, but I am convinced none are more
attentively considered than the two Venuses of Titian; one is said to
be a portrait of his wife, the other of his mistress. The first is the
fined portrait I ever saw, except the second; of this you have seen many
copies: though none of them equals the beauty of the original, yet they
will give a juster idea of it than any description of mine could. On the
back ground, two women seem searching for something in a trunk. This
episode is found much fault with; for my part, I see no great harm the
two poor women do: none but those critics who search more eagerly after
_deformity_ than _beauty_, will take any notice of them.

Besides the Gallery and Tribuna, the hundredth part of whose treasures
I have not particularised, there are other rooms, whose contents are
indicated by the names they bear; as, the Cabinet of Arts, of Astronomy,
of Natural History, of Medals, of Porcelain, of Antiquities, and the
Saloon of the Hermaphrodite, so called from a statue which divides the
admiration of the Amateurs with that in the Borghese village at Rome. The
excellence of the execution is disgraced by the vileness of the subject.
We are surprised how the Greeks and Romans could take pleasure in such
unnatural figures; in this particular their taste seems to have been as
depraved, as in general it was elegant and refined. In this room there is
a collection of drawings by some of the greatest masters, Michael Angelo,
Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, and others. There is, in particular, a sketch
of the Last Judgment by the first-named of these painters, different,
and, in the opinion of some, designed with more judgment, than his
famous picture on the same subject in Sixtus the Fourth’s chapel in the
Vatican.

The large room, called the Gallery of Portraits, is not the least
curious in this vast Musæum. It contains the portraits, all executed by
themselves, of the most eminent painters who have flourished in Europe
during the three last centuries. They amount to above two hundred;
those of Rubens, Vandyke, Rembrandt, and Guido, were formerly the most
esteemed; two have been added lately, which vie with the finest in this
collection—those of Meng’s and Sir Joshua Reynolds. The portrait of
Raphael seems to have been done when he was young; it is not equal to
any of the above. The Electress Dowager of Saxony has made a valuable
addition to this collection, by sending her own portrait painted by
herself; she is at full length, with the palette and pencils in her
hands. Coreggio, after hearing the picture of St. Cecilia at Bologna
cried up as a prodigy, and the _ne plus ultra_ of art, went to see it;
and conscious that there was nothing in it that required the exertion
of greater powers than he felt within himself, he was overheard to say,
“Anch’ io sono pittore.” This illustrious princess was also conscious of
her powers when she painted this portrait, which seems to pronounce to
the spectators, _Anch’ io sono pittrice_.

    [8]

        Dum Bruti effigiem Michael de marmore fingit,
          In mentem sceleris venit, et abstinuit.



LETTER LXXII.


                                                                Florence.

Having now crossed from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean, and travelled
through a considerable part of Italy, I acknowledge I have been agreeably
disappointed in finding the state of the poorer part of the inhabitants
less wretched than, from the accounts of some travellers, I imagined it
was; and I may with equal truth add, that although I have not seen so
much poverty as I was taught to expect, yet I have seen far more poverty
than misery. Even the extremity of indigence is accompanied with less
wretchedness here than in many other countries. This is partly owing
to the mildness of the climate and fertility of the soil, and partly
to the peaceable, religious, and contented disposition of the people.
The miseries which the poorer part of mankind suffer from cold, are,
perhaps, greater than those derived from any other source whatever.
But in Italy, the gentleness of the climate protects them from this
calamity nine months of the year. If they can gather as much wood as to
keep a moderate fire during the remaining three, and procure a coarse
cloke, they have little to fear from that quarter. Those who cannot get
employment, which is often the case in this country, and even those who
do not choose to work, which is the case with numbers all the world
over, receive a regular maintenance from some convent: with this, and
what little they can pick up otherwise, in a country where provisions
are plentiful and cheap, they pass through life, in their own opinion,
with more satisfaction than if they had a greater number of conveniencies
procured by much bodily labour. Whereas in Great Britain, Germany, and
other northern countries, the poor have no choice but to work; for if
they remain idle, they are exposed to miseries more intolerable than
the hardest labour can occasion to the laziest of mankind; they are
invaded at once by the accumulated agonies of hunger and cold; and if
they have ever had sufficient credit to contract a little debt, they
are continually in danger of being thrown into a jail among pickpockets
and felons. With respect to the lowest of the tradespeople and the
day-labourers in this country, their wages are certainly not high; nor
are they willing, by great efforts of industry, to gain all they might;
but what they do gain is never wasted in intemperance, but fairly spent
in their families on the real necessaries and comforts of life.

The Italians are the greatest loungers in the world, and while walking
in the fields, or stretched in the shade, seem to enjoy the serenity and
genial warmth of their climate with a degree of luxurious indulgence
peculiar to themselves. Without ever running into the daring excesses
of the English, or displaying the frisky vivacity of the French, or
the invincible phlegm of the Germans, the Italian populace discover a
species of sedate sensibility to every source of enjoyment, from which,
perhaps, they derive a greater degree of happiness than any of the other.
The frequent processions and religious ceremonies, besides amusing and
comforting them, serve to fill up their time, and prevent that ennui and
those immoral practices which are apt to accompany poverty and idleness.
It is necessary, for the quiet and happiness of every community, that the
populace be employed. Some politicians imagine, that their whole time
should be spent in gainful industry. Others think, that though the riches
of the state will not be augmented, yet the general happiness, which is a
more important object, will be promoted by blending the occupations of
industry with a considerable proportion of such superstitious ceremonies
as awaken the future hopes, without lulling the present benevolence,
of the multitude; but nobody can doubt, that in countries where, from
whatever cause, industry does not prevail, processions and other rites of
the same nature will tend to restrain the populace from the vices, and of
consequence prevent some of the miseries of idleness.

The peasantry of this country are unquestionably in a more comfortless
state than a benevolent mind could wish them. But, England and
Switzerland excepted, is not this the case all over Europe? In all the
countries I have seen, or had an account of, the husbandmen, probably the
most virtuous, but certainly the most useful part of the community, whose
labour and industry maintain all the rest, and in whom the real strength
of the state resides, are, by a most unjust dispensation, generally
the poorest and most oppressed. But although the Italian peasantry are
by no means in the affluent, independent situation of the peasantry of
Switzerland, and the tenantry of England, yet they are not subjected to
the same oppressions with those of Germany, nor are they so poor as those
of France.

Great part of the lands in Italy belong to convents; and I have observed,
and have been assured by those who have the best opportunities of
knowing, that the tenants of these communities are happier, and live more
at their ease, than those of a great part of the nobility. The revenues
of convents are usually well managed, and never allowed to be squandered
away by the folly or extravagance of any of its members; consequently
the community is not driven, by craving and threatening creditors, as
individuals frequently are, to squeeze out of their vassals the means
of supplying the waste occasioned by their own vanity and expence. A
convent can have no incitement to severe and oppressive exactions from
the peasants, except sheer avarice; a passion which never rises to such a
height in a society where the revenue is in common, as in the breast of
an individual, who is solely to reap the fruits of his own oppression.

The stories which circulate in Protestant countries, concerning the
scandalous debauchery of monks, and the luxurious manner in which they
live in their convents, whatever truth there may have been in them
formerly, are certainly now in a great measure without foundation. I
remember when I was at the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble, which has
a considerable district of land belonging to it, I was informed, and
this information was confirmed by what I saw, that those monks were
gentle and generous masters, and that their tenants were envied by all
the peasantry around, on account of the treatment they received, and
the comparatively easy terms on which they held their farms. From the
enquiries I have made in France, Germany, and Italy, I am convinced that
this is usually the case with those peasants who belong to convent lands;
and very often, I have been informed, besides having easy rents, they
also find affectionate friends and protectors in their masters, who visit
them in sickness, comfort them in all distresses, and are of service to
their families in various shapes.

I have been speaking hitherto of the peasantry belonging to convents; but
I believe I might extend the remark to the tenants of ecclesiastics in
general, though they are often represented as more proud and oppressive
masters than any class of men whatever; an aspersion which may have
gained credit the more easily on this account, that instances of cruelty
and oppression in ecclesiastics strike more, and raise a greater
indignation, than the same degree of wickedness in other men; they raise
a greater indignation, because they are more unbecoming of clergymen,
and they strike more when they do happen, because they happen seldomer.
The ambition of Popes some centuries ago, when the Court of Rome was in
its zenith, the unlimited influence and power which particular Churchmen
acquired in England and France, had those effects upon their actions
and characters, which ambition and power usually have on the characters
of men; it rendered them insolent, unfeeling, and persecuting. Yet, for
every cruel and tyrannical Pope that history has recorded, it will be
easy to name two or three Roman Emperors who have surpassed them in every
species of wickedness; and England and France have had Prime Ministers
with all the vices, without the abilities, of Wolsey and Richelieu.

Those who declaim against the wickedness of the clergy, seem to take it
for granted that this body of men were the authors of the most horrid
instances of persecution, massacre, and tyranny, over men’s consciences,
that are recorded in the annals of mankind; yet Philip II., Charles IX.
and Henry VIII. were not Churchmen; and the capricious tyranny of Henry,
the frantic fury of Charles, and the persevering cruelty of Philip, seem
to have proceeded from the personal characters of these Monarchs, or to
have been excited by what they considered as their political interest,
rather than by the suggestions of their Clergy.

As the subjects of the Ecclesiastical State are perhaps the poorest in
Italy, this has been imputed to the rapacious disposition which some
assert is natural to Churchmen. This poverty, however, may be otherwise
accounted for. Bishop Burnet very judiciously observes, that the subjects
of a government, which is at once despotic and elective, labour under
peculiar disadvantages; for an hereditary Prince will naturally have
considerations for his people which an elective one will not, “unless he
has a degree of generosity not common among men, and least of all among
Italians, who have a passion for their families which is not known in
other places[9].” An elective Prince, knowing that it is only during
his reign that his family can receive any benefit from it, makes all
the haste he can to enrich them. To this it may be added, that as Popes
generally arrive at Sovereignty at an age when avarice predominates in
the human breast, they may be supposed to have a stronger bias than
other Princes to that sordid passion; and even when this does not take
place, their needy relations are continually prompting them to acts
of oppression, and suggesting ways and means of squeezing the people.
Other causes might be assigned; but, that it does not originate from the
imputation above mentioned, seems evident from this, that the peasants
of particular ecclesiastics, and of the convents in the Pope’s dominions,
as well as in other countries, are generally less oppressed than those of
the lay lords and princes.

From what has been thrown out by some celebrated wits, and the
common-place invective of those who affect that character, one would be
led to imagine that there is something in the nature of the clerical
profession which has a tendency to render men proud and oppressive.
Such indiscriminating censure carries no conviction to my mind, because
it is contradicted by the experience I have had in life, and by the
observations, such as they are, which I have been able to make on human
nature. I do not mean, in imitation of the satirists above mentioned, to
put the Clergy of all religions on the same footing. My opportunities of
knowledge are too slender to justify _that_; my acquaintance with this
order of men having been in a great measure confined to those of the
Protestant Church, men of learning and ingenuity, of quiet, speculative,
and benevolent dispositions; it is usually, indeed, this turn of mind
which has inclined them to the ecclesiastical profession. But though my
acquaintance with the Roman Catholic Clergy is very limited, yet the few
I do know could not be mentioned as exceptions to what I have just said
of the Protestant; and, exclusive of all personal knowledge of the men,
it is natural to think that the habitual performance of the ceremonies
of the Christian religion, though intermingled with some superstitious
rites, and the preaching the doctrines of benevolence and good-will
towards men, must have some influence on the lives and characters
of those who are thus employed. It is a common error, prevailing in
Protestant countries, to imagine that the Roman Catholic Clergy laugh at
the religion they inculcate, and regard their flocks as the dupes of an
artful plan of imposition. By far the greater part of Roman Catholic
priests and monks are themselves most sincere believers, and teach the
doctrines of Christianity, and all the miracles of the legend, with a
perfect conviction of their divinity and truth. The few who were behind
the curtain when falsehood was first embroidered upon truth, and those
who have at different periods been the authors of all the masks and
interludes which have enriched the grand drama of superstition, have
always chosen to employ such men, being sensible that the inferior actors
would perform their parts more perfectly, by acting from nature and real
conviction. “Paulum interesse censes,” says Davus to Mysis, “ex animo
omnia ut fert natura, facias an de industria[10].”

The accounts we receive of their gluttony, are often as ill-founded as
those of their infidelity. The real character of the majority of monks
and inferior ecclesiastics, both in France and Italy, is that of a
simple, superstitious, well-meaning race of men, who for the most part
live in a very abstemious and mortified manner, notwithstanding what we
have heard of their gluttony, their luxury, and voluptuousness. Such
accusations are frequently thrown out by those who are ill entitled to
make them. I remember being in company with an acquaintance of yours,
who is distinguished for the delicacy of his table and the length of his
repasts, from which he seldom retires without a bottle of Burgundy for
his own share, not to mention two or three glasses of Champaign between
the courses. We had dined a few miles from the town in which we then
lived, and were returning in his chariot; it was winter, and he was
wrapped in fur to the nose. As we drove along, we met two friars walking
through the snow; little threads of icicles hung from their beards; their
legs and the upper part of their feet were bare, but their soles were
defended from the snow by wooden sandals. “There goes a couple of dainty
rogues,” cried your friend as we drew near them; “only think of the folly
of permitting such lazy, luxurious rascals to live in a State, and eat
up the portion of the poor. I will engage that those two scoundrels, as
lean and mortified as they look, will devour more victuals in a day, than
would maintain two industrious families.” He continued railing against
the luxury of those two friars, and afterwards expatiated upon the
epicurism of the clergy in general; who, he said, were all alike in every
country, and of every religion. When we arrived in town, he told me he
had ordered a little nice supper to be got ready at his house by the time
of our return, and had lately got some excellent wine, inviting me at the
same time to go home with him; for, continued he, as _we have driven_
three miles in such weather, _we stand in great need_ of some refreshment.

That in all Roman Catholic countries, and particularly in Italy, the
clergy are too numerous, have too much power, too great a proportion
of the lands, and that some of them live in great pomp and luxury, is
undeniable. That the common people would be in a better situation, if
manufactures and the spirit of industry could be introduced among them,
is equally true; but, even as things are, I cannot help thinking that the
state of the Italian peasantry is preferable, in many respects, to that
of the peasants of many other countries in Europe. They are not beaten by
their ecclesiastical lords, as those of Germany are by their masters, on
every real or imaginary offence. They have not their children torn from
them, to be sacrificed to the pomp, avarice, or ambition of some military
despot; nor are they themselves pressed into the service as soldiers for
life.

In England and in France the people take an interest in all national
disputes, and consider the cause of their country or their Prince as
their own; they enter into the service voluntarily, and fight with
ardour for the glory of the country or King they love. Those ideas enable
them to submit to a thousand hardships without repining, and they feel
the sensations of happiness in the midst of toil, want, and danger. But
in Germany, where the passions are annihilated, and a man is modelled
into a machine before he is thought a good soldier, where his blood
is sold by the Prince to the highest bidder, where he has no quarrel
with the enemy he murders, and no allegiance to the Monarch for whom he
fights, the being liable to be forced into such a service, is one of
the most dreadful of all calamities. Yet a regiment of such compelled
soldiers, dressed in gaudy uniform, and powdered for a review, with music
sounding and colours flying, makes a far more brilliant appearance than a
cluster of peasants with their wives and children upon a holiday. But if
we could examine the breasts of the individuals, we should find in those
of the former nothing but the terror of punishment, hatred of their
officers, distrust of each other, and life itself supported only by the
hope of desertion; while the bosoms of the latter are filled with all the
affections of humanity, undisturbed by fear or remorse.

    [9] Vide Bishop Burnet’s Travels.

    [10] Andria Terentii.



LETTER LXXIII.


                                                                Florence.

Society seems to be on an easy and agreeable footing in this city.
Besides the conversazionis which they have here, as in other towns of
Italy, a number of the nobility meet every day at a house called the
Casino. This society is pretty much on the same footing with the clubs
in London. The members are elected by ballot. They meet at no particular
hour, but go at any time that is convenient. They play at billiards,
cards, and other games, or continue conversing the whole evening, as they
think proper. They are served with tea, coffee, lemonade, ices, or what
other refreshments they choose; and each person pays for what he calls
for. There is one material difference between this and the English clubs,
that women as well as men are members.

The company of both sexes behave with more frankness and familiarity
to strangers, as well as to each other, than is customary in public
assemblies in other parts of Italy.

The Opera at Florence is a place where the people of quality pay and
receive visits, and converse as freely as at the Casino above mentioned.
This occasions a continual passing and repassing to and from the boxes,
except in those where there is a party of cards formed; it is then looked
on as a piece of ill manners to disturb the players. I never was more
surprised, than when it was proposed to me to make one of a whist party,
in a box which seemed to have been made for the purpose, with a little
table in the middle. I hinted that it would be full as convenient to have
the party somewhere else; but I was told, good music added greatly to the
pleasure of a whist party; that it increased the joy of good fortune, and
soothed the affliction of bad. As I thought the people of this country
better acquainted than myself with the power of music, I contested the
point no longer; but have generally played two or three rubbers at whist
in the stage-box every opera night.

From this you may guess, that, in this city, as in some other towns in
Italy, little attention is paid to the music by the company in the boxes,
except at a new opera, or during some favourite air. But the dancers
command a general attention: as soon as they begin, conversation ceases;
even the card-players lay down their cards, and fix their eyes on the
Ballette. Yet the excellence of Italian dancing seems to consist in
feats of strength, and a kind of jerking agility, more than in graceful
movement. There is a continual contest among the performers, who shall
spring highest. You see here none of the sprightly, alluring gaiety of
the French comic dancers, nor of the graceful attitudes, and smooth
flowing motions of the performers in the serious opera at Paris. It is
surprising, that a people of such taste and sensibility as the Italians,
should prefer a parcel of athletic jumpers to elegant dancers.

On the evenings on which there is no opera, it is usual for the genteel
company to drive to a public walk immediately without the city, where
they remain till it begins to grow duskish. Soon after our arrival at
Florence, in one of the avenues of this walk we observed two men and two
ladies, followed by four servants in livery. One of the men wore the
insignia of the garter. We were told this was the Count Albany, and that
the Lady next to him was the Countess. We yielded the walk, and pulled
off our hats. The gentleman along with them was the Envoy from the King
of Prussia to the Court of Turin. He whispered the Count, who, returning
the salutation, looked very earnestly at the D—— of H——. We have seen
them almost every evening since, either at the opera or on the public
walk. His G—does not affect to shun the avenue in which they happen to
be; and as often as we pass near them, the Count fixes his eyes in a most
expressive manner upon the D——, as if he meant to say—our ancestors were
better acquainted.

You know, I suppose, that the Count Albany is the unfortunate Charles
Stuart, who left Rome some time since on the death of his father, because
the Pope did not think proper to acknowledge him by the title which he
claimed on that event. He now lives at Florence, on a small revenue
allowed him by his brother. The Countess is a beautiful woman, much
beloved by those who know her, who universally describe her as lively,
intelligent, and agreeable. Educated as I was in Revolution principles,
and in a part of Scotland where the religion of the Stuart family, and
the maxims by which they governed, are more reprobated than perhaps in
any part of Great Britain, I could not behold this unfortunate person
without the warmest emotion and sympathy. What must a man’s feelings be,
who finds himself excluded from the most brilliant situation, and noblest
inheritance that this world affords, and reduced to an humiliating
dependance on those, who, in the natural course of events, should have
looked up to him for protection and support? What must his feelings be,
when on a retrospective view he beholds a series of calamities attending
his family, that is without example in the annals of the unfortunate;
calamities, of which those they experienced after their accession to the
throne of England, were only a continuation? Their misfortunes began with
their royalty, adhered to them through ages, increased with the increase
of their dominions, did not forsake them when dominion was no more;
and, as he has reason to dread, from his own experience, are not yet
terminated. It will afford no alleviation or comfort, to recollect that
part of this black list of calamities arose from the imprudence of his
ancestors; and that many gallant men, in England, Scotland, and Ireland,
have at different periods been involved in their ruin.

Our sympathy for this unfortunate person is not checked by any blame
which can be thrown on himself. He surely had no share in the errors of
the first Charles, the profligacy of the second, or the impolitic and
bigotted attempts of James against the laws and established religion
of Great Britain and Ireland; therefore, whilst I contemplate with
approbation and gratitude the conduct of those patriots who resisted and
expelled that infatuated monarch, ascertained the rights of the subject,
and settled the constitution of Great Britain on the firm basis of
freedom on which it has stood ever since the Revolution, and on which I
hope it will ever stand, yet I freely acknowledge, that I never could see
the unfortunate Count Albany without sentiments of compassion, and the
most lively sympathy.

I write with the more warmth, as I have heard of some of our countrymen,
who, during their tours through Italy, made the humble state to which he
is reduced a frequent theme of ridicule, and who, as often as they met
him in public, affected to pass by with an air of sneering insult. The
motive to this is as base and abject as the behaviour is unmanly; those
who endeavour to make misfortune an object of ridicule, are themselves
the objects of detestation. A British nobleman or gentleman has certainly
no occasion to form an intimacy with the Count Albany; but while he
appears under that name, and claims no other title, it is ungenerous, on
every accidental meeting, not to behave to him with the respect due to a
man of high rank, and the delicacy due to a man highly unfortunate.

One thing is certain; that the same disposition which makes men insolent
to the weak, renders them slaves to the powerful; and those who are most
apt to treat this unfortunate person with an ostentatious contempt at
Florence, would have been his most abject flatterers at St. James’s.



LETTER LXXIV.


                                                                Florence.

In a country where men are permitted to speak and write without restraint
on the measures of government; where almost every citizen may flatter
himself with the hopes of becoming a part of the legislature; where
eloquence, popular talents, and political intrigues, lead to honours,
and open a broad road to wealth and power; men, after the first glow of
youth is past, are more obedient to the loud voice of ambition than to
the whispers of love. But in despotic states, and in monarchies which
verge towards despotism, where the will of the prince is law; or, which
amounts nearly to the same thing, where the law yields to the will of the
prince; where it is dangerous to speak or write on general politics, and
death or imprisonment to censure the particular measures of government;
love becomes a first, instead of being a secondary object; for ambition
is, generally speaking, a more powerful passion than love; and on this
account women are the objects of greater attention and respect in
despotic than in free countries. That species of address to women which
is now called gallantry, was, if I am not mistaken, unknown to the
ancient Greeks and Romans; nothing like it appears in any of Terence’s
comedies, where one would naturally expert to find it, if any such thing
had existed when they were written. It now prevails, in some degree, in
every country of Europe, but appears in different forms according to the
different characters, customs, and manners, of the various countries.

In the courts of Germany it is a formal piece of business; etiquette
governs the arrows of Cupid, as well as the torch of Hymen. Mistresses
are chosen from the number of quarters on their family coats of arms,
as well as from the number of their personal charms; and those ladies
who are well provided in the first, seldom are without lovers, however
deficient they may be in the second. But though many avenues, which in
England lead to power and distinction, are shut up in Germany, and the
whole power of government is vested in the sovereign, yet the young
nobility cannot bestow a great deal of their time in gallantry. The
military profession, which in the time of peace is perfect idleness in
France and England, is a very serious, unremitting employment in Germany.
Men who are continually drilling soldiers, and whose fortunes and
reputations depend on the expertness of the troops under their command,
cannot pay a great deal of attention to the ladies.

Every French gentleman must be a soldier; but fighting is the only part
of the business they go through with spirit; they cannot submit to the
German precision in discipline, their souls sink under the tediousness
of a campaign, and they languish for a battle from the impetuosity of
their disposition, and impatience to have the matter decided one way or
the other. This, with many particular exceptions, is the general style
of the French noblesse; they all serve an apprenticeship to war, but
gallantry is the profession they follow for life. In England, the spirit
of play and of party draws the minds of the young men of fortune from
love or gallantry; those who spend their evenings at a gaming house, or
in parliament, seldom think of any kind of women but such as may be had
without trouble; and, of course, women of character are less attended
to than in some other countries. When I was last at Paris, the Marquis
de F—— found an English newspaper on my table; it contained a long and
particular account of a debate which had happened in both houses of
parliament; he read it with great attention while I finished a letter,
and then throwing down the paper, he said to me, “Mais, mon ami, pendant
que vos messieurs s’amusent a jaser comme cela dans votre chambre des
pairs et votre parlement[11], parbleu un etranger auroit beau jeu avec
leurs femmes.”

Intrigues of gallantry, comparatively speaking, occur seldom in England;
and when they do, they generally proceed from a violent passion, to which
every consideration of fortune and reputation is sacrificed, and the
business concludes in a flight to the continent, or a divorce.

They manage matters otherwise in France; you hardly ever hear of flights
or divorces in that country; a hundred new arrangements are made, and as
many old ones broken, in a week at Paris, without noise or scandal; all
is conducted quietly et felon les régles; the fair sex are the universal
objects of respect and adoration, and yet there is no such thing as
constancy in the nation. Wit, beauty, and every accomplishment united
in one woman, could not fix the volatility of a Frenchman; the love of
variety, and the vanity of new conquests, would make him abandon this
phœnix for birds far less rare and estimable. The women in France, who
are full of spirit and sensibility, could never endure such usage, if
they were not as fickle and as fond of new conquests as their lovers.

In Italy, such levity is viewed with contempt, and constancy is, by both
sexes, still classed among the virtues.

That high veneration for the fair sex which prevailed in the ages of
chivalry, continued long after in the form of a sentimental platonic
kind of gallantry. Every man of ingenuity chose unto himself a mistress,
and directly proclaimed her beauty and her cruelty in love ditties,
madrigals, and elegies, without expecting any other recompence than
the reputation of a constant lover and a good poet. By the mere force
of imagination, and the eloquence of their own metaphysical sonnets,
they became persuaded that their mistresses were possessed of every
accomplishment of face and mind, and that themselves were dying for love.

As in those days women were constantly guarded by their fathers and
brothers before marriage, and watched and confined by their husbands
for the rest of their lives; the refined passions above described were
not exposed to the same accidents which so frequently befal those of
modern lovers; they could neither fall into a decay from a more perfect
knowledge of the ladies character, nor were they liable to sudden death
from enjoyment. But whilst the women were adored in song, they were
miserable in reality; confinement and distrust made them detest their
husbands, and they endeavoured to form connections with men more to
their taste than either jealous husbands or metaphysical lovers. To
treat a woman of character as if she were an unprincipled wanton, is the
most likely way to make her one. In those days of jealousy, a continual
trial of skill seems to have subsisted between husband and wife, as if
every lord, soon after marriage, had told his lady, “Now, Madam, I know
perfectly well what you would be at; but it is my business to prevent
you: I’ll guard you so well, and watch you so closely, that it shall
never be in your power to gratify your inclinations.” “You are perfectly
in the right, my lord,” replied the lady, with all meekness, “pray guard
and watch as your wisdom shall direct; I, also, shall be vigilant on my
part, and we shall see how the business will end.” The business generally
did end as might have been expected; and the only consolation left the
husband was, to endeavour to assassinate the happy lover.

But when French manners began to spread over Europe, and to insinuate
themselves among nations the most opposite in character to the French,
jealousy was first held up as the most detestable of all the passions.
The law had long declared against its dismal effects, and awful
denunciations had been pronounced from the pulpit against those who were
inflamed by its bloody spirit; but without effect, till ridicule joined
in the argument, and exposed those husbands to the contempt and derision
of every fashionable society, who harboured the gloomy dæmon in their
bosoms.

As in England, after the Restoration, people, to shew their aversion to
the Puritans, turned every appearance of religion into ridicule, and
from the extreme of hypocrisy flew at once to that of profligacy; so in
Italy, from the custom of secluding the wife from all mankind but her
husband, it became the fashion that she should never be seen with her
husband, and yet always have a man at her elbow.

I shall conclude what I have to say on this subject in my next.

    [11] The French in general are apt to make the same mistake
    with the Marquis; they often speak of the House of Peers and
    the _Parliament_ as two distinct assemblies.



LETTER LXXV.


                                                                Florence.

Before the Italian husbands could adopt or reconcile their minds to a
custom so opposite to their former practice, they took some measures to
secure a point which they had always thought of the highest importance.
Finding that confinement was a plan generally reprobated, and that any
appearance of jealousy subjected the husband to ridicule, they agreed
that their wives should go into company and attend public places, but
always attended by a friend whom they could trust, and who, at the same
time, should not be disagreeable to the wife. This compromise could not
fail of being acceptable to the women, who plainly perceived that they
must be gainers by any alteration of the former system; and it soon
became universal all over Italy, for the women to appear at public places
leaning upon the arm of a man; who, from their frequently whispering
together, was called her Cicisbeo. It was stipulated, at the same time,
that the lady, while abroad under his care, should converse with no other
man but in his presence, and with his approbation; he was to be her
guardian, her friend, and gentleman-usher.

The custom at present is, that this obsequious gentleman visits the lady
every forenoon at the toilet, where the plan for passing the evening is
agreed upon; he disappears before dinner, for it is usual all over Italy
for the husband and wife to dine together tête-à-tête, except on great
occasions, as when there is a public feast. After dinner the husband
retires, and the Cicisbeo returns and conducts the lady to the public
walk, the conversazioné, or the opera; he hands her about wherever
she goes, presents her coffee, sorts her cards, and attends with the
most pointed assiduity till the amusements of the evening are over; he
accompanies her home, and delivers up his charge to the husband, who is
then supposed to resume his functions.

From the nature of this connection, it could not be an easy matter
to find a Cicisbeo who would be equally agreeable to the husband and
wife. At the beginning of the institution, the husbands, as I have
been informed, preferred the platonic swains, who professed only the
metaphysicks of love, and whose lectures, they imagined, might refine
their wives ideas, and bring them to the same way of thinking; in many
instances, no doubt, it would happen, that the platonic admirer asked
with _less seraphic ends_; but these instances serve only as proofs that
the husbands were mistaken in their men; for however absurd it may appear
in the eyes of some people, to imagine that the husbands believe it is
only a platonic connection which subsists between their wives and the
Cicisbeos; it is still more absurd to believe, as some strangers who have
passed through this country seem to have done, that this whole system
of Cicisbeism was from the beginning, and is now, an universal system
of adultery connived at by every Italian husband. To get clear of one
difficulty, those gentlemen fall into another much more inexplicable; by
supposing that the men, who of all the inhabitants of Europe were the
most scrupulous with regard to their wives chastity, should acquiesce in,
and in a manner become subservient to, their prostitution. In support of
this strange doctrine, they assert, that the husbands being the Cicisbeos
of other women, cannot enjoy this privilege on any other terms; and
are therefore contented to sacrifice their wives for the sake of their
mistresses. That some individuals may be profligate enough to act in this
manner, I make no doubt. Similar arrangements we hear instances of in
every country; but that such a system is general, or any thing near it,
in Italy, seems to me perfectly incredible, and is contrary to the best
information I have received since I have been here. It is also urged,
that most of the married men of quality in Italy act in the character of
Cicisbeo to some woman or other; and those who are not Platonic lovers,
ought to suspect that the same liberties are taken with their wives which
they take with the spouses of their neighbours; and therefore their
suffering a man to visit their wives in the character of a cavaliero
servente, is in effect conniving at their own cuckoldom. But this does
not follow as an absolute consequence; for men have a wonderful faculty
of deceiving themselves on such occasions. So great is the infatuation
of their vanity, that the same degree of complaisance, which they
consider as the effect of a very natural and excusable weakness, when
indulged by any woman for themselves, they would look on as a horrible
enormity if admitted by their wives for another man; so that whatever
degree of licentiousness may exist in consequence of this system, I am
convinced the majority of husbands make exceptions in their own favour,
and that their ladies find means to satisfy each individual that he is
not involved in a calamity, which, after all, is more general in other
countries, as well as Italy, than it ought.

Even when there is the greatest harmony and love between the husband and
wife, and although each would prefer the other’s company to any other,
still, such is the tyranny of fashion, they must separate every evening;
he to play the cavaliero servente to another woman, and she to be led
about by another man. Notwithstanding this inconveniency, the couples who
are in this predicament are certainly happier than those whose affections
are not centered at home. Some very loving couples lament the cruelty
of this separation, yet the world in general seem to be of opinion, that
a man and his wife who dine together every day, and lie together every
night, may, with a proper exertion of philosophy, be able to support
being asunder a few hours in the evening.

The Cicisbeo, in many instances, is a poor relation or humble friend,
who, not being in circumstances to support an equipage, is happy to
be admitted into all the societies, and to be carried about to public
diversions, as an appendage to the lady. I have known numbers of those
gentlemen, whose appearance and bodily infirmities carried the clearest
refutation, with respect to themselves personally, of the scandalous
stories of an improper connection between cavaliero serventes and their
mistresses. I never in my life saw men more happily formed, both in body
and mind, for saving the reputation of the females with whom they were
on a footing of intimacy. The humble and timid air which many of them
betray in the presence of the ladies, and the perseverance with which
they continue their services, notwithstanding the contemptuous stile in
which they are often treated, is equally unlike the haughtiness natural
to favoured lovers, and the indifference of men satiated with enjoyment.

There are, it must be confessed, Cicisbeos of a very different stamp,
whose figure and manners might be supposed more agreeable to the ladies
they serve, than to their lords. I once expressed my surprise, that a
particular person permitted one of this description to attend his wife. I
was told, by way of solution of my difficulty, that the husband was poor,
and the Cicisbeo rich. It is not in Italy only where infamous compromises
of this nature take place.

I have also known instances, since I have been in this country, where the
characters of the ladies were so well established, as not to be shaken
either in the opinion of their acquaintances or husbands, although their
cavaliero serventes were in every respect agreeable and accomplished.

But whether the connection between them is supposed innocent or criminal,
most Englishmen will be astonished how men can pass so much of their
time with women. This, however, will appear less surprising, when they
recollect that the Italian nobility dare not intermeddle in politics;
can find no employment in the army or navy; and that there are no such
amusements in the country as hunting or drinking. In such a situation,
if a man of fortune has no turn for gaming, what can he do? Even an
Englishman, in those desperate circumstances, might be driven to the
company and conversation of women, to lighten the burden of time. The
Italians have persevered so long in this expedient, that, however
extraordinary it may seem to those who have never tried it, there can
be no doubt that they find it to succeed. They tell you, that nothing so
effectually sooths the cares, and beguiles the tediousness of life, as
the company of an agreeable woman; that though the intimacy should never
exceed the limits of friendship, there is something more flattering and
agreeable in it than in male friendships; that they find the female heart
more sincere, less interested, and warmer in its attachments; that women
in general have more delicacy, and—. Well, well, all this may be true,
you will say; but may not a man enjoy all these advantages, to as great
perfection, by an intimacy and friendship with his own wife, as with his
neighbour’s? “Non, Monsieur, point du tout,” answered a Frenchman, to
whom this question was once addressed. “Et pourquoi donc? Parceque cela
n’est pas permis.” This you will not think a very satisfactory answer
to so natural and so pertinent a question—It is not the fashion! This,
however, was the only answer I received all over Italy.

This system is unknown to the middle and lower ranks; they pass their
time in the exercise of their professions, and in the society of their
wives and children, as in other countries; and in that sphere of life,
jealousy, which formed so strong a feature of the Italian character, is
still to be found as strong as ever. He who attempts to visit the wife
or mistress of any of the tradespeople without their permission, is in
no small danger of a Coltellata. I have often heard it asserted, that
Italian women have remarkable powers of attaching their lovers. Those
powers, whatever they are, do not seem to depend entirely on personal
charms, as many of them retain their ancient influence over their
lovers after their beauty is much in the wane, and they themselves are
considerably advanced in the vale of years. I know an Italian nobleman,
of great fortune, who has been lately married to a very beautiful young
woman, and yet he continues his assiduity to his former mistress, now an
old woman, as punctually as ever. I know an Englishman who is said to
be in the same situation, with this difference, that his lady is still
more beautiful. In both these instances, it is natural to believe that
the beautiful young wives will always take care to keep their husbands
in such a chaste and virtuous way of thinking, that, whatever time they
may spend with their ancient mistresses, nothing criminal will ever pass
between them.

Whatever satisfaction the Italians find in this kind of constancy, and
in their friendly attachments to one woman, my friend the Marquis de
F—— told me, when I last saw him at Paris, that he had tried it while
he remained at Rome, and found it quite intolerable. A certain obliging
ecclesiastic had taken the trouble, at the earnest request of a lady of
that city, to arrange matters between her and the Marquis, who was put
into immediate possession of all the rights that were ever supposed to
belong to a Cicisbeo. The woman nauseated her husband, which had advanced
matters mightily; and her passion for the Marquis was in proportion to
her abhorrence of the other. In this state things had remained but a very
short time, when the Marquis called one afternoon to drive the Abbé out
a little into the country, but he happened to have just dined. The meals
or this ecclesiastic were generally rather oppressive for two or three
hours after they were finished; he therefore declined the invitation,
saying, by way of apology, “Je suis dans les horreurs de la digestion.”
He then enquired how the Marquis’s amour went on with the lady. “Ah, pour
l’amour, cela est à peu près passé,” replied the Marquis, “et nous sommes
actuellement dans les horreurs de l’amitié.”



LETTER LXXVI.


                                                                Florence.

The Florentines imputed the decay of the republic to the circumstance
of their Sovereign residing in another country; and they imagined, that
wealth would accumulate all over Tuscany, and flow into Florence, from
various quarters, as soon as they should have a residing Prince, and a
Court established. It appears, that their hopes were too sanguine, or at
least premature. Commerce is still in a languid condition, in spite of
all the pains taken by the Great Duke to revive it.

The Jews are not held in that degree of odium, or subjected to the same
humiliating distinctions here, as in most other cities of Europe. I
am told, some of the richest merchants are of that religion. Another
class of mankind, who are also reprobated in some countries, are in
this looked on in the same light with other citizens. I mean the actors
and singers at the different Theatres. Why Christians, in any country,
should have the same prejudice against them as against Jews, many are
at a loss to know; it cannot, certainly, be on the same account. Actors
and actresses have never been accused of an obstinate, or superstitious
adherence to the principles or ceremonies of any _false religion_
whatever.

To attempt a description of the churches, palaces, and other public
buildings, would lead, in my opinion, to a very unentertaining detail.
Few cities, of its size, in Europe, however, afford so fine a field of
amusement to those who are fond of such subjects; though the lovers of
architecture will be shocked to find several of the finest churches
without fronts, which, according to some, is owing to a real deficiency
of money; while others assert, they are left in this condition, as a
pretext for levying contributions to finish them.

The chapel of St. Lorenzo is, perhaps, the finest and most expensive
habitation that ever was reared for the dead; it is encrusted with
precious stones, and adorned by the workmanship of the best modern
sculptors. Some complain that, after all, it has a gloomy appearance.
There seems to be no impropriety in that, considering what the building
was intended for; though, certainly, the same effect might have been
produced at less expence. Mr. Addison remarked, that this chapel advanced
so very slowly, that it is not impossible but the family of Medicis may
be extinct before their burial-place is finished. This has actually
taken place: the Medici family is extinct, and the chapel remains still
unfinished.

Of all the methods by which the vanity of the Great has distinguished
them from the rest of mankind, this of erecting splendid receptacles
for their bones, excites the least envy. The sight of the most superb
edifice of this kind, never drew a repining sigh from the bosom of
one poor person; nor do the unsuccessful complain, that the bodies of
Fortune’s favourites rot under Parian marble, while their own will, in
all probability, be allowed to moulder beneath a plain turf.

I have already mentioned the number of statues which ornament the streets
and squares of Florence, and how much they are respected by the common
people. I am told, they amount in all to above one hundred and fifty,
many of them of exquisite workmanship, and admired by those of the best
taste. Such a number of statues, without any drapery, continually exposed
to the public eye, with the far greater number of pictures, as well as
statues, in the same state, to be seen in the palaces, have produced, in
both sexes, the most perfect insensibility to nudities.

Ladies who have remained some time at Rome and Florence, particularly
those who affect a taste for virtù, acquire an intrepidity and a cool
minuteness, in examining and criticising naked figures, which is unknown
to those who have never passed the Alps. There is something in the figure
of the God of Gardens, which is apt to alarm the modesty of a novice; but
I have heard of female dilettantes who minded it no more than a straw.

The Palazzo Pitti, where the Great Duke resides, is on the opposite side
of the Arno from the Gallery. It has been enlarged since it was purchased
from the ruined family of Pitti. The furniture of this palace is rich
and curious, particularly some tables of Florentine work, which are much
admired. The most precious ornaments, however, are the paintings. The
walls of what is called the Imperial Chamber, are painted in fresco, by
various painters; the subjects are allegorical, and in honour of Lorenzo
of Medicis, distinguished by the name of the Magnificent. There is more
fancy than taste displayed in those paintings. The other principal rooms
are distinguished by the names of Heathen Deities, as Jupiter, Apollo,
Mars, Venus, and by paintings in fresco, mostly by Pietro da Cortona. In
the last mentioned, the subjects are different from what is naturally
expected from the name of the room, being representations of the triumphs
of Virtue over Love, or some memorable instance of continency. As the
Medici family have been more distinguished for the protection they
afforded the arts, than for the virtues of continency or self-denial, it
is probable, the subject, as well as the execution of these pieces, was
left entirely to the painter.

I happened lately to be at this palace, with a person who is perfectly
well acquainted with all the pictures of any merit in Florence. While
he explained the peculiar excellencies of Pietro’s manner, a gentleman
in company, who, although he does not pretend to the smallest skill
in pictures, would rather remain ignorant for ever, than listen to
the lectures of a connoisseur, walked on, by himself, into the other
apartments, while I endeavoured to profit by my instructor’s knowledge.
When the other gentleman returned, he said, “I know no more of painting
than my pointer; but there is a picture in one of the other rooms, which
I would rather have than all those you seem to admire so much; it is the
portrait of a healthy, handsome, country woman, with her child in her
arms. There is nothing interesting in the subject, to be sure, because
none of us are personally acquainted with the woman. But I cannot help
thinking the colours very natural. The young woman’s countenance is
agreeable, and expressive of fondness and the joy of a mother over a
first-born. The child is a robust, chubby-cheeked fellow; such as the son
of a peasant should be.”

We followed him into the room, and the picture which pleased him so
much, was the famous Madonna della Seggiola of Raphael. Our instructor
immediately called out Viva! and pronounced him a man of genuine taste;
because, without any previous knowledge or instruction, he had fixed his
admiration on the finest picture in Florence. But this gentleman, as soon
as he understood what the picture was, disclaimed all title to praise;
“because,” said he, “although, when I considered that picture, simply
as the representation of a blooming country wench hugging her child, I
admired the art of the painter, and thought it one of the truest copies
of nature I ever saw; yet, I confess, my admiration is much abated, now
that you inform me his intention was to represent the Virgin Mary.” “Why
so?” replied the Cicerone; “the Virgin Mary was not of higher rank. She
was but a poor woman, living in a little village in Galilee.” “No rank
in life,” said the other, “could give additional dignity to the person
who had been told by an Angel from heaven, that she had found favour
with God; that her Son should be called the Son of the Highest; and who,
herself, was conscious of all the miraculous circumstances attending
his conception and birth. In the countenance of such a woman, besides
comeliness, and the usual affection of a mother, I looked for the most
lively expression of admiration, gratitude, virgin modesty, and divine
love. And when I am told, the picture is by the greatest painter that
ever lived, I am disappointed in perceiving no traces of that kind in
it.” What justice there is in this gentleman’s remarks, I leave it to
better judges than I pretend to be, to determine.

After our diurnal visit to the Gallery, we often pass the rest of the
forenoon in the gardens belonging to this palace. The vale of Arno;
the gay hills that surround it; and other natural beauties to be viewed
from thence, form an agreeable variety, even to eyes which have been
feasting on the most exquisite beauties of art. The pleasure arising from
both, however, diminishes by repetition; but may be again excited by the
admiration of a new spectator, of whose taste and sensibility you have a
good opinion. I experienced this on the arrival of Mr. F——r, a gentleman
of sense, honour, and politeness, whose company gave fresh relish to our
other enjoyments in this place. It is now some time since he left us; and
I am not at all unhappy in the thoughts of proceeding, in a day or two,
to Bologna, in our road to Milan.



LETTER LXXVII.


                                                                   Milan.

For a post or two after leaving Florence, and about as much before you
arrive at Bologna, the road is very agreeable; the rest of your journey
between those two cities is over the sandy Apennines.

We had the good fortune to find at Bologna Sir William and Lady H——, Mr.
F——t, Mr. K——, Lord L——, and Sir H—— F——n. Our original intention was to
have proceeded without delay to Milan, but on such an agreeable meeting
it was impossible not to remain a few days at Bologna.

I went to the academy on the day of distributing the prizes for the
best specimens and designs in painting, sculpture, and architecture;
a discourse in praise of the fine arts was pronounced by one of the
professors, who took that opportunity of enumerating the fine qualities
of the Cardinal Legate; none of the virtues, great or small, were omitted
on the occasion; all were attributed in the superlative degree to this
accomplished prince of the church. The learned orator acknowledged,
however, that this panegyric did not properly belong to his subject,
but hoped that the audience, and particularly the Legate himself,
who was present, would forgive him, in consideration that the eulogy
had been wrung from him by the irresistible force of truth. The same
force drew forth something similar in praise of the Gonfalonier and
other magistrates who were present also; and what you may think very
remarkable, the number and importance of the qualities attributed to
those distinguished persons kept an exact proportion with their _rank_.
Power in this happy city seems to have been weighed in the scales
of justice, and distributed by the hand of wisdom. All the inferior
magistrates, we were informed, are very worthy men, endowed with many
excellent qualities; the Gonfalonier has many more, and the Legate
possesses every virtue under the sun. If the Pope had entered the room,
the too lavish professor would not have been able to help him to a single
morsel of praise which had not been already served up.

This town is at present quite full of strangers, who came to assist at
the procession of Corpus Domini. The Duke of Parma, several Cardinals,
and other persons of high distinction, besides a prodigious crowd of
citizens, attended this great festival. The streets through which the
Host was carried under a magnificent canopy, were adorned with tapestry,
paintings, looking-glasses, and all the various kinds of finery which the
inhabitants could produce. Many of the paintings seemed unsuitable to
the occasion; they were on profane, and some of them on wanton subjects;
and it appeared extraordinary to see the figures of Venus, Minerva,
Apollo, Jupiter, and others of that abdicated family, arranged along the
walls in honour of a triumph of the Corpus Christi.

On our way to Milan we stopped a short time at Modena, the capital of the
duchy of that name. The whole duchy is about fifty miles in length, and
twenty-six in breadth; the town contains twenty thousand inhabitants; the
streets are in general large, straight, and ornamented with porticoes.
This city is surrounded by a fortification, and farther secured by a
citadel; it was anciently rendered famous by the siege which Decimus
Brutus sustained here against Marc Antony.

We proceeded next to Parma, a beautiful town, considerably larger than
Modena, and defended, like it, by a citadel and regular fortification.
The streets are well built, broad, and regular. The town is divided
unequally by the little river Parma, which loses itself in the Po, ten or
twelve miles from this city.

The theatre is the largest of any in Europe; and consequently a great
deal larger than there is any occasion for. Every body has observed, that
it is so favourable to the voice, that a whisper from the stage is heard
all over this immense house; but nobody tells us on what circumstance in
the construction this surprising effect depends.

The Modenese was the native country of Correggio, but he passed most of
his life at Parma. Several of the churches are ornamented by the pencil
of that great artist, particularly the cupola of the cathedral; the
painting of which has been so greatly admired for the grandeur of the
design and the boldness of the fore-shortenings. It is now spoiled in
such a manner, that its principal beauties are not easily distinguished.

Some of the best pictures in the Ducal Palace have been removed to
Naples and elsewhere; but the famous picture of the Virgin, in which
Mary Magdalen and St. Jerom are introduced, still remains. In this
composition, Correggio has been thought to have united, in a supreme
degree, beauties which are seldom found in the same piece; an excellence
in any one of which has been sufficient to raise other artists to
celebrity. The same connoisseurs assert, that this picture is equally
worthy of admiration, on account of the freshness of the colouring, the
inexpressible gracefulness of the design, and the exquisite tenderness
of the expression. After I had heard all those fine things said over
and over again, I thought I had nothing to do but admire; and I had
prepared my mind accordingly.—Would to Heaven that the respectable
body of connoisseurs were agreed in opinion, and I should most readily
submit mine to theirs! But while the above eulogium still resounded in
my ears, other connoisseurs have asserted, that this picture is full of
affectation; that the shadowing is of a dirty brown, the attitude of
the Magdalen constrained and unnatural; that she may strive to the end
of time without ever being able to kiss the foot of the infant Jesus in
her present position; that she has the look of an ideot; and that the
Virgin herself is but a vulgar figure, and seems not a great deal wiser;
that the angels have a ridiculous simper, and most abominable air of
affectation; and finally, that St. Jerom has the appearance of a sturdy
beggar, who intrudes his brawny figure where it has no right to be.

Distracted with such opposite sentiments, what can a plain man do, who
has no great reliance on his own judgment, and wishes to give offence to
neither party? I shall leave the picture as I found it, to answer for
itself, with a single remark in favour of the angels. I cannot take upon
me to say how the real angels of heaven look; but I certainly have seen
some _earthly_ angels, of my acquaintance, assume the simper and air of
those in this picture, when they wished to appear quite celestial.

The duchies of Modena, Parma, and Placentia, are exceedingly fertile.
The soil is naturally rich, and the climate being moister here than in
many other parts of Italy, produces more plentiful pasturage for cattle.
The road runs over a continued plain, among meadows and corn fields,
divided by rows of trees, from whose branches the vines hang in beautiful
festoons. We had the pleasure of thinking, as we drove along, that the
peasants are not deprived of the blessings of the smiling fertility among
which they live. They had in general a neat, contented, and cheerful
appearance. The women are successfully attentive to the ornaments of
dress, which is never the case amidst oppressive poverty.

Notwithstanding the fertility of the country around it, the town of
Placentia itself is but thinly inhabited, and seems to be in a state
of decay. What first strike a stranger on entering this city, are two
equestrian statues, in bronze, by Giovanni di Bologna; they stand in the
principal square, before the Town-house. The best of the two represents
that consummate general Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and Placentia,
who commanded the army of Philip II. in the Netherlands. The inscription
on the pedestal mentions his having relieved the city of Paris, when
called to the assistance of the League into France, where his great
military skill, and cool intrepidity, enabled him to baffle all the
ardent impetuosity of the gallant Henry. He was certainly worthy of a
better master, and of serving in a better cause. We cannot, without
regret, behold a Prince, of the Duke of Parma’s talents and character,
supporting the pride of an unrelenting tyrant, and the rancour of furious
fanatics.

Except the Ducal Palace, and some pictures in the churches, which I dare
swear you will cordially forgive me for passing over undescribed, I
believe there is not a great deal in this city worthy of attention; at
all events I can say little about them, as we remained here only a few
hours during the heat of the day, and set out the same evening for Milan.



LETTER LXXVIII.


                                                                   Milan.

Milan, the ancient capital of Lombardy, is the largest city in Italy,
except Rome; but though it is thought rather to exceed Naples in size, it
does not contain above one-half the number of inhabitants.

The cathedral stands in the centre of the city, and, after St. Peter’s,
is the most considerable building in Italy. It ought by this time to
be the largest in the world, if what they tell us be true, that it is
near four hundred years since it was begun, and that there has been a
considerable number of men daily employed in completing it ever since;
but as the injuries which time does to the ancient parts of the fabric
keep them in constant employment, without the possibility of their work
being ever completed, Martial’s epigram, on the barber Eutrapelus, has
been applied to them with great propriety. That poor man, it seems,
performed his operations so very slowly, that the beards of his patients
required shaving again on the side where he had begun, by the time he had
finished the other.

    EUTRAPELUS TONSOR DUM CIRCUIT ORA LUPERCI,
    EXPUNGITQUE GENAS, ALTERA BARBA SUBIT.

No church in Christendom is so much loaded, I had almost said disfigured,
with ornaments. The number of statues, withinside and without, is
prodigious; they are all of marble, and many of them finely wrought.
The greater part cannot be distinctly seen from below, and therefore
certainly have nothing to do above. Besides those which are of a size,
and in a situation to be distinguished from the street, there are great
numbers of smaller statues, like fairies peeping from every cornice, and
hid among the grotesque ornaments, which are here in vast profusion.
They must have cost much labour to the artists who formed them, and are
still a source of toil to strangers, who, in compliment to the person who
harangues on the beauties of this church, which he says is the eighth
wonder of the world, are obliged to ascend to the roof to have a nearer
view of them.

This vast fabric is not simply encrusted, which is not uncommon in Italy,
but intirely built of solid white marble, and supported by fifty columns,
said to be eighty-four feet high. The four pillars under the cupola, are
twenty-eight feet in circumference. By much the finest statue belonging
to it is that of St. Bartholomew. He appears flayed, with his skin flung
around his middle like a sash, and in the easiest and most degagé manner
imaginable. The muscles are well expressed; and the figure might be
placed with great propriety in the hall of an anatomist; but, exposed as
it is to the view of people of all professions, and of both sexes, it
excites more disgust and horror than admiration. Like those beggars who
uncover their sores in the street, the artist has destroyed the very
effect he meant to produce. This would have sufficiently evinced that the
statue was not the work of Praxitiles, without the inscription on the
pedestal.

    NON ME PRAXITILES, SED MARCUS FINXIT AGRATI.

The inside of the choir is ornamented by some highly esteemed sculpture
in wood. From the roof hangs a case of crystal, surrounded by rays of
gilt metal, and inclosing a nail, said to be one of those by which our
Saviour was nailed to the cross. The treasury belonging to this church is
reckoned the richest in Italy, after that of Loretto. It is composed of
jewels, relics, and curiosities of various kinds; but what is esteemed
above all the rest, is a small portion of Aaron’s rod, which is carefully
preserved there.

The Ambrosian Library is said to be one of the most valuable collections
of books and manuscripts in Europe. It is open a certain number of hours
every day; and there are accommodations for those who come to read or
make extracts.

In the Museum, adjoining to the Library, are a considerable number
of pictures, and many natural curiosities. Among these they shew a
human skeleton. This does not excite a great deal of attention, till
you are informed that it consists of the bones of a Milanese Lady, of
distinguished beauty, who, by her last will, ordained that her body
should be dissected, and the skeleton placed in this Museum, for the
contemplation of posterity. If this Lady only meant to give a proof of
the transient nature of external charms, and that a beautiful woman is
not more desirable after death than a homely one, she might have allowed
her body to be consigned to dust in the usual way. In spite of all the
cosmetics, and other auxiliaries which vanity employs to varnish and
support decaying beauty and flaccid charms, the world have been long
satisfied that death is not necessary to put the fair and the homely on
a level; a very few years, even during life, do the business.

There is no place in Italy, perhaps I might have said in Europe, where
strangers are received in such an easy, hospitable manner, as at Milan.
Formerly the Milanese Nobility displayed a degree of splendour and
magnificence, not only in their entertainments, but in their usual
style of living, unknown in any other country in Europe. They are under
a necessity at present of living at less expence, but they still shew
the same obliging and hospitable disposition. This country having, not
very long since, been possessed by the French, from whom it devolved
to the Spaniards, and from them to the Germans, the troops of those
nations have, at different periods, had their residence here, and, in the
course of these vicissitudes, produced a style of manners, and stamped a
character on the inhabitants of this duchy, different from what prevails
in any other part of Italy; and nice observers imagine they perceive in
Milanese manners the politeness, formality, and honesty imputed to those
three nations, blended with the ingenuity natural to Italians. Whatever
uneasiness the inhabitants of Milan may feel, from the idea of their
being under German government, they seem universally pleased with the
personal character of Count Fermian, who has resided here many years as
Minister from Vienna, equally to the satisfaction of the Empress Queen,
the inhabitants of Milan, and the strangers who occasionally travel this
way.

The Great Theatre having been burnt to the ground last year, there are
no dramatic entertainments, except at a small temporary playhouse, which
is little frequented; but the company assemble every evening in their
carriages on the ramparts, and drive about, in the same manner as at
Naples, till it is pretty late. In Italy, the ladies have no notion
of quitting their carriages at the public walks, and using their own
legs, as in England and France. On seeing the number of servants, and
the splendour of the equipages which appear every evening at the Corso
on the ramparts, one would not suspect that degree of depopulation, and
diminution of wealth, which we are assured has taken place within these
few years all over the Milanese; and which, according to my information,
proceeds from the burthensome nature of some late taxes, and the insolent
and oppressive manner in which they are gathered.

The natural productions of this fertile country must occasion a
considerable commerce, by the exportation of grain, particularly rice;
cattle, cheese, and by the various manufactures of silken and velvet
stuffs, stockings, handkerchiefs, ribands, gold and silver laces and
embroideries, woollen and linen cloths, as well as by some large
manufactures of glass, and earthen ware in imitation of china, which are
established here. But I am told monopolies are too much protected here,
and that prejudices against the profession of a merchant still exist in
the minds of the only people who have money. These cannot fail to check
industry, and depress the soul of commerce; and perhaps there is little
probability that the inhabitants of Milan will overcome this unfortunate
turn of mind while they remain under German dominion, and adopt German
ideas. The peasants, though more at their ease than in many other places,
yet are not so much so as might be expected in so very fertile a country.
Why are the inhabitants of the rich plains of Lombardy, where Nature
pours forth her gifts in such profusion, less opulent than those of the
mountains of Switzerland? Because Freedom, whose influence is more benign
than sunshine and zephyrs, who covers the rugged rock with soil, drains
the sickly swamp, and clothes the brown heath in verdure; who dresses
the labourer’s face with smiles, and makes him behold his increasing
family with delight and exultation; Freedom has abandoned the fertile
fields of Lombardy, and dwells among the mountains of Switzerland.



LETTER LXXIX.


                                                               Chamberry.

We made so short a stay at Turin that I did not think of writing from
thence. I shall now give you a sketch of our progress since my last.

We left Milan at midnight, and arrived the next evening at Turin
before the shutting of the gates. All the approaches to that city are
magnificent. It is situated at the bottom of the Alps, in a fine plain
watered by the Po. Most of the streets are well built, uniform, clean,
straight, and terminating on some agreeable object. The Strada di Po,
leading to the palace, the finest and largest in the city, is adorned
with porticoes equally beautiful and convenient. The four gates are also
highly ornamental. There can be no more agreeable walk than that around
the ramparts. The fortifications are regular and in good repair, and the
citadel is reckoned one of the strongest in Europe. The royal palace and
the gardens are admired by some. The apartments display neatness, rather
than magnificence. The rooms are small, but numerous. The furniture is
rich and elegant; even the floors attract attention, and must peculiarly
strike strangers who come from Rome and Bologna; they are curiously
inlaid with various kinds of wood, and kept always in a state of shining
brightness. The pictures, statues, and antiquities in the palace are of
great value; of the former there are some by the greatest masters, but
those of the Flemish school predominate.

No royal family in Europe are more rigid observers of the laws of
etiquette, than that of Sardinia; all their movements are uniform and
invariable. The hour of rising, of going to mass, of taking the air;
every thing is regulated like clock-work. Those illustrious persons must
have a vast fund of natural good-humour, to enable them to persevere
in such a wearisome routine, and support their spirits under such a
continued weight of oppressive formality.

We had the satisfaction of seeing them all at mass; but as the D—— of
H—— grows more impatient to get to England the nearer we approach it, he
declined being presented at court, and we left Turin two days after our
arrival.

We stopped a few hours, during the heat of the day, at a small village,
called St. Ambrose, two or three posts from Turin. I never experienced
more intense heat than during this day, while we were tantalized with
a view of the snow on the top of the Alps, which seem to overhang
this place, though, in reality, they are some leagues distant. While
we remained at St. Ambrose there was a grand procession. All the men,
women, and children, who were able to crawl, attended; several old women
carried crucifixes, others pictures of the saint, or flags fixed to the
ends of long poles; they seemed to have some difficulty in wielding them,
yet the good old women tottered along as happy as so many young ensigns
the first time they bend under the regimental colours. Four men, carrying
a box upon their shoulders, walked before the rest. I asked what the
box contained, and was informed by a sagacious looking old man, that it
contained the bones of St. John. I enquired if all the Saint’s bones
were there; he assured me, that not even a joint of his little finger
was wanting; “Because,” continued I, “I have seen a considerable number
of bones in different parts of Italy, which are said to be the bones of
St. John.” He smiled at my simplicity, and said the world was full of
imposition; but nothing could be more certain, than that those in the box
were the true bones of the Saint; he had remembered them ever since he
was a child—and his father, when on his death-bed, had told him, on the
_word of a dying man_, That they belonged to St. John and no other body.

At Novalezza, a village at the bottom of Mount Cenis, our carriages were
taken to pieces, and delivered to Muleteers to be carried to Lanebourg. I
had bargained with the Vitturino, before we left Turin, for our passage
over the mountain in the chairs commonly used on such occasions. The
fellow had informed us there was no possibility of going in any other
manner; but when we came to this place, I saw no difficulty in being
carried up by mules, which we all preferred, to the great satisfaction
of our knavish conductor, who thereby saved the expence of one half the
chairmen, for whose labour he was already paid.

We rode up this mountain, which has been described in such formidable
terms, with great ease. At the top there is a fine verdant plain of five
or six miles in length, we halted at an Inn, called Santa Croce, where
Piedmont ends and Savoy begins. Here we were regaled with fried trout,
catched in a large lake within sight, from which the river Doria arises,
which runs to Turin in conjunction with the Po. Though we ascend no
higher than this plain, which is the summit of Mount Cenis, the mountains
around are much higher; in passing the plain we felt the air so keen,
that we were glad to have recourse to our great-coats; which, at the
bottom of the hill, we had considered as a very superfluous part of our
baggage. I had a great deal of conversation in passing the mountain with
a poor boy, who accompanied us from Novalezza to take back the mules; he
told me he could neither read nor write, and had never been farther than
Suza on one side of the mountain, and Lanebourg on the other. He spoke
four languages, Piedmontese, which is his native language; this is a
kind of Patois very different from Italian; the Patois of the peasants
of Savoy, which is equally different from French; he also spoke Italian
and French wonderfully well; the second he had learnt from the Savoyard
chairmen, and the two last from Italian and French travellers whom he
has accompanied over Mount Cenis, where he has passed his life hitherto,
and which he seems to have no desire of leaving. If you chance to be
consulted by any parent who inclines to send their sons abroad merely
that they may be removed from London, and acquire modern languages in the
most œconomical manner, you now know what place to recommend. In none
where opportunities for this branch of education are equal, is living
cheaper than at Mount Cenis, and I know nothing in which it has any
resemblance to London, except that it stands on much the same quantity
of ground. I asked this boy, why he did not learn English.—He had all
the inclination in the world.—“Why don’t you learn it then as well as
French?” “On attrape le François, Monsieur, bon gré, mal gré,” answered
he, “mais Messieurs les Anglois parlent peu.”

When we arrived at the North side of the mountain we dismissed our
mules, and had recourse to our Alpian chairs and chairmen. The chairs
are constructed in the simplest manner, and perfectly answer the purpose
for which they are intended. The chairmen are strong-made, nervous,
little fellows. One of them was betrothed to a girl at Lanebourg, and
was to be married that evening. I could not, in conscience, permit him
to have any part in carrying me, but directly appointed him to Jack’s
chair. The young fellow presented us all with ribbons, which we wore in
our hats in honour of the bride. “Are you very fond of your mistress,
friend,” said I? “Il faut que je l’aime beaucoup,” answered he, “puisque,
pauvre garçon comme me voila, je donne trente livres au prêtre pour nous
marier.” To tax matrimony, and oblige the people who _beget and maintain_
children to pay to those who _maintain_ none, seems bad policy; and it
is surprising that a prince who attends so minutely, as his Sardinian
Majesty, to the welfare of his subjects, does not remedy so great an
abuse.

As our carriers jogged zig-zag, according to the course of the road, down
the mountain, they laughed and sung all the way. “How comes it,” said I
to the D——, “that chairmen are generally merrier than those they carry?
To hear these fellows without seeing them, one would imagine that _we_
had the laborious part, while _they_ sat at their ease.” “True,” answered
he; “and the same person might conclude, on hearing the bridegroom
sing so cheerfully, that we were just going to be married and not he.”
We arrived in a short time at the Inn at Lanebourg, nothing having
surprised me so much in the passage of this mountain, the difficulty
and danger of which has been greatly exaggerated by travellers, as the
facility with which we achieved it.

As soon as the scattered members of our carriages were joined together,
we proceeded on our journey. The road is never level, but a continued
ascent and descent along the side of high mountains. We sometimes saw
villages situated at a vast height above us; at other times they were
seen with difficulty in the vales, at an immense depth below us. The
village of Modane stands in a hollow, surrounded by stupendous mountains.
It began to grow dark when we descended from a great height into this
hollow; we could only perceive the rugged summits, and sides of the
mountains which encircle the village, but not the village itself, or any
part of the plain at the bottom; we therefore seemed descending from the
surface, by a dark abyss leading to the centre of the globe. We arrived
safe at Modane, however, for the road is good in every respect, steepness
excepted. Next morning we continued our course, by a miserable place
called La Chambre, to Aiguebelle, a village of much the same description.
According to some authors, this was the road by which Hannibal led his
army into Italy. They assert, that the plain at the summit of Mount Cenis
was the place where he rested his army for four days, and from which he
showed his soldiers the fertile plains of Italy, and encouraged them to
persevere: others assert that he led his army into Italy by Mount St.
Bernard. This is a discussion into which I am not qualified to enter; but
M——r G——l M——l, a gentleman of learning, probity, and great professional
merit, in his way to Italy, where he now is, endeavoured to trace the
route of the Carthaginian army with great attention; and imagines he has
been successful in his researches. He has also ascertained the spots
on which some of the most memorable battles were fought, by carefully
comparing the description of Polybius, and other authors, with the fields
of battle, and has detected many mistakes, which have prevailed on this
curious subject; every where supporting his own hypothesis by arguments
which none but one who has carefully perused the various authors,
and examined the ground with a soldier’s eye, could adduce. The same
gentleman has likewise made some observations relating to the arms of the
ancient Romans, and their tactics in general, which are equally new and
ingenious, and which, it is hoped, he will in due time give to the public.

We arrived at the inn at Aiguebelle just in time to avoid an excessive
storm of thunder and rain, which lasted with great violence through the
whole night. Those who have never heard thunder in a very mountainous
country, can form no idea of the loudness, repetition, and length of the
peals we heard this night. Many of the inhabitants of those mountains
have never seen better houses than their own huts, or any other country
than the Alps. What a rugged, boisterous piece of work must they take
this world to be!

I fancy you have by this time had enough of mountains and vallies, so if
you please we shall skip over Montmelian to Chamberry, where we arrived
the same day on which we left Aiguebelle. To-morrow we shall sleep at
Geneva. I did not expect much sleep this night from the thoughts of it,
and therefore have sat up almost till day-break writing this letter.



LETTER LXXX.


                                                                Besançon.

The D—— of H—— went some weeks ago to visit an acquaintance in one of the
provinces of France. As I inclined rather to pass that time at Geneva, we
agreed to meet at Paris, whither Jack and I are thus far on our way.

I must now fairly confess that I found myself so happy with my kind
friends the Genevois, that I could not spare an hour from their company
to write to you or any correspondent, unless on indispensable business.
I might also plead, that you yourself have been in some measure the
cause of my being seduced from my pen. In your last letter; which I
found waiting for me at the post-house at Geneva, you mention a late
publication in terms that gave me a curiosity to see it; and an English
gentleman, who had the only copy which has as yet reached that city, was
so obliging as to lend it me. The hours which I usually allot to sleep,
were all I had in my power to pass alone; and they were very considerably
abridged by this admirable performance. The extensive reading there
displayed, the perspicuity with which historical facts are related, the
new light in which many of them are placed, the depth of the reflections,
and the dignity and nervous force of the language, all announce the hand
of a master. If the author lives to complete his arduous undertaking, he
will do more to dissipate the historical darkness which overshadows the
middle ages, give a clearer _History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire_, and fill up, in a more satisfactory manner, the long interval
between ancient and modern history, than all the writers who have
preceded him. This accounts for my long silence. You see I resume my pen
the very first opportunity, after the causes I have assigned for it are
removed, which ought to give the more weight to my apology.

As I have frequently been at Lyons, I chose, on this occasion, to return
to Paris by Franche Comté and Champagne. We accordingly set out very
early yesterday morning, and were by no means in high spirits when we
left Geneva, and passed along the side of the lake, through the Pais de
Vaud. The beauties of that country, though they astonish at first sight,
yet, like the characters of the inhabitants, they improve on intimacy.
Every time I have looked at the lake of Geneva, and its delightful
environs, I have discovered something new to admire. As I entered the
Canton of Bern, I often turned about, and at last withdrew my eyes from
those favourite objects, with an emotion similar to what you feel on
taking leave of a friend, whom you have reason to think you shall never
see again.

The first place we came to, on entering France from the Canton of Bern,
is a poor little town on an hill; I forget its name. While the postillion
stopped to put something to rights about the harness, I stepped into a
shop where they sold wooden shoes; and in the course of my conversation
with a peasant, who had just purchased a pair for himself, and another
for his wife, he said, “les Bernois sont bien à leur aise, Monsieur,
pendant que nous autres François vivons tres durement, et cependant
les Bernois sont des hérétiques.” “Voilà,” said an old woman, who
sat in a corner reading her breviary; “voilà,” said she, taking off
her spectacles, and laying her beads on the book, “ce que je trouve
incompréhensible.”

This was, however, at the extremity of France, and in a province lately
acquired; for it must be confessed, that it is not common for the French
to imagine that any country whatever has the advantage of theirs in any
one circumstance; and they certainly are not so apt to grumble as some
of their neighbours, who have less reason. When I was last at Geneva, a
French hair-dresser—Let me intreat you not to shew this to your friend
——, who is so fond of people of quality, that he thinks there is no
_life_ out of their company. He would pshaw, and curse my poor peasants,
and old women, and hair-dressers, and accuse me of being too fond of such
low company.

As for the old women, I am much mistaken if there are not at least as
many to be found of both sexes in high life as in low; for the others,
I declare I have no particular affection, but I am fond of strokes of
nature and character, and must look for them where they are to be found.
I introduce the present hair-dresser to your acquaintance, because, if I
am not mistaken, he spoke the sentiments of his whole nation, high and
low. You shall judge. This young fellow attended me every morning while
I remained at Geneva; he had been a year or two at London; and while he
dressed my hair, his tongue generally moved as quick as his fingers. He
was full of his remarks upon London, and the fine people whose hair he
pretended to have dressed. “Do you not think,” said I, “that people may
live very happily in that country?” “Mais—pour cela oui, Monsieur.” “Do
you think, then, they _are_ happy?” “Pour cela, non, Monsieur.” “Can you
guess at the reason why they are not, though they have so much reason to
be so?” “Oui, Monsieur, elle est toute simple.” “Pray what is the reason
they are not happy?” “C’est, qu’ils ne font pas destinés à l’être.”

A very genteel young man, a Genevois, happened to call on me, for two
minutes, while this friseur was with me. The young gentleman had passed
some time at Paris, and was dressed exactly in the Parisian taste. “He
has much the air of one of your countrymen,” said I to the Frenchman, as
soon as the other had left the room.

“Mon Dieu! quelle différence,” cried the friseur. “For my part, I can
see none,” said I. “Monsieur,” resumed he, “soyez persuadé qu’aucun
Genevois ne sera jamais pris pour un François.” “There are certainly
some _petit-maîtres_ to be found in this town,” said I. “Pardonnez moi,”
replied he, “ils ne sont que petit-maîtres manqués.”

“Did you ever see an Englishman,” said I, “who might pass for a
Frenchman?” “Jamais de la vie, Monsieur!” replied he, with an accent of
astonishment.

“Suppose him,” said I, “a man of quality?” “N’importe.”

“But,” continued I, “suppose he had lived several years at Paris, that
he was naturally very handsome, and well made, that he had been educated
by the best French dancing-master, his clothes made by the best French
taylor, and his hair dressed by the most eminent friseur in Paris?”
“C’est beaucoup, Monsieur, mais ce n’est pas assez.”

“What!” exclaimed I, “would you still know him to be an Englishman?”
“Assurément, Monsieur.”

“What! before he spoke?” “Au premier coup d’œil, Monsieur.”

“The Devil you would; but how?” “C’est que Messieurs les Anglois ont un
air—une manière de se présenter—un—que sais-je moi—vous m’entendez bien,
Monsieur—un certain air si Gau—”

“Quel air maraud?” “Enfin un air qui est charmant, si vous voulez,
Monsieur,” said he rapidly, “mais que le Diable m’emporte si c’est l’air
François.”

To-morrow I shall take a view of this town, and proceed immediately after
breakfast to Paris: mean while I wish you very heartily good night.



LETTER LXXXI.


                                                                   Paris.

I Made a longer stay at Besançon than I intended, and am now about to
inform you what detained me. The morning after the date of my last, as I
returned to the inn from the parade, where I had been to see the troops,
I met a servant of the Marquis de F——, who ran up to me the moment he
knew me, and, in a breath, told me, that his master was at Besançon; that
he had been exceedingly ill, and thought, by the physicians, in great
danger; but his complaint having terminated in an ague, they had now the
strongest hopes of his recovery. I desired to be conducted immediately to
him.

I found the Marquis alone; pale, languid, and greatly emaciated. He
expressed, however, equal pleasure and surprise at this unexpected
visit; said, he had been in danger of making a very long journey, and
added, with a smile, that no man had ever set out with less inclination,
for he hated travelling alone, and this was the only journey he could
ever take, without wishing some of his friends to accompany him. He
rejoiced, therefore, that he had been recalled in time to meet me before
I should pass on to Paris. “But tell me,” continued he, “for I have ten
thousand questions to ask—but let us take things in order; Eh bien,
donnez nous donc des nouvélles du Pape? On nous a dit que vous aviez
passé par la ceremonie de la Pantoufle. Ne pourroit on pas pendre au
tragique une misère comme cela chez vous où le Saint Pere passe pour une
_Babylonienne_ de mauvaise vie?” Before I could make any answer I chanced
to turn my eyes upon a person whom I had not before observed, who sat
very gravely upon a chair in a corner of the room, with a large periwig
in full dress upon his head.

The Marquis, seeing my surprise at the sight of this unknown person,
after a very hearty fit of laughter, begged pardon for not having
introduced me sooner to that gentleman (who was no other than a large
monkey), and then told me, he had the honour of being attended by a
physician, who had the reputation of possessing the greatest skill, and
who _certainly_ wore the largest periwigs of any doctor in the province.
That one morning, while he was writing a prescription at his bed-side,
this same monkey had catched hold of his periwig by one of the knots, and
instantly made the best of his way out at the window to the roof of a
neighbouring house, from which post he could not be dislodged, till the
Doctor, having lost patience, had sent home for another wig, and never
after could be prevailed on to accept of this, which had been so much
disgraced. That, _enfin_, his valet, to whom the monkey belonged, had,
ever since that adventure, obliged the culprit, by way of punishment, to
sit quietly for an hour every morning, with the periwig on his head.—Et
pendant ces moments de tranquilité je suis honoré de la société du
vénérable personage. Then addressing himself to the monkey, “Adieu,
mon ami, pour aujourdhui—au plaisir de vous revoir;” and the servant
immediately carried Monsieur le Medecin out of the room.

Afraid that the Marquis might be the worse for talking so much, I
attempted to withdraw, promising to return in the evening; but this I
could not get him to comply with. He assured me, that nothing did him so
much harm as holding his tongue; and that the most excessive headach he
had ever had in his life, was owing to his having been two hours without
speaking, when he made his addresses to Madam de ——; who could never
forgive those who broke in upon the thread of her discourse, and whom he
_lost_ after all, by uttering a few sentences before she could recover
her breath after a fit of sneezing. In most people’s discourse, added he,
a sneeze passes for a full stop. “Mais dans le Caquet eternel de cette
femme ce n’est qu’un virgule.”

I then enquired after my friends Dubois and Fanchon.—He told me, that his
mother had settled them at her house in the country, where she herself
chose, of late, to pass at least one half of the year; that Dubois was
of great service to her, in the quality of steward, and she had taken
a strong affection for Fanchon, and that both husband and wife were
loved and esteemed by the whole neighbourhood. “I once,” continued the
Marquis, “proposed to Fanchon, en badinant, to make a trip to Paris,
for she must be tired of so much solitude.” “Have I not my husband?”
said she, “Your husband is not company,” rejoined I, “your husband, you
know, is yourself. What do you think was her answer?” “Elle m’a répondu,”
continued the Marquis, “Ah, Monsieur le Marquis, plus on sé loigne de
soi-même, plus on s’écarte du bonheur.”

In the progress of our conversation, I enquired about the lady to whom
he was to have been married, when the match was so abruptly broken off
by her father. He told me, the old gentleman’s behaviour was explained
a short time after our departure from Paris, by his daughter’s marriage
to a man of great fortune; but whose taste, character, and turn of mind
were essentially different from those of the young lady. “I suppose
then,” said I, “she appeared indifferent about him from the beginning.”
“Pardonnez moi,” replied the Marquis, “au commencement elle joua la
belle passion pour son mari, jusqu’à scandaliser le monde, peu à peu
elle devint plus raisonable, et sur cet article les deux epoux jouèrent
bientôt à fortune égale, à présent ils s’amusent à se chicaner de petites
contradictions qui jettent plus d’amertume dans le commerce que de torts
décidés.”

“Did you ever renew your acquaintance?”

“Je ne pouvois faire autrement, elle a marqué quelques petits regrets de
m’avoir traité si cruellement.”

“And how did you like her,” said I, “on farther acquaintance?”

“Je lui ai trouvé,” answered he, “tout ce qu’on pent souhaiter dans _la
femme d’un autre_.”

The Marquis, feeling himself a little cold, and rising from the sopha to
ring for some wood, had a view of the street. “O ho,” cried he, looking
earnestly through the window, “regardez, regardez cet homme”—“Quel
homme?” said I. “Cet homme à gros ventre,” said he; and while he spoke,
his teeth began to chatter. “Ah, Diable, voilà mon chien d’accés—cet
homme qui marche comme un Di—Di—Dindon, c’est l’aumonier du regiment.” I
begged he would allow himself to be put to bed, for by this time he was
all over shivering with the violence of the ague.

“Non, non, ce n’est rien,” said he, “il faut absolument que je vous
conte cette histoire. Cet homme qui s’engraisse en nettoy—nett—et—et—en
nettoyant l’ame de mes soldats, faisoit les yeux doux à la femme d’un
Ca—Ca—Caporal—Diantre je n’en peux plus. Adieu, mon ami, c’est la plus
plaisante hist—sis—peste! demandez mes gens.”

He was put to bed directly. I found the court below full of soldiers, who
had come to enquire after their Colonel. Before I had reached the street,
the Marquis’s Valet-de-Chambre overtook me, le ris sur la bouche, et les
larmes aux yeux, with a message from his master.

The soldiers crowded about us, with anxiety on all their countenances.
I assured them, there was no danger; that their Colonel would be well
within a very few days. This was heard with every mark of joy, and they
dispersed, to communicate the good news to their comrades.

“Ah, Monsieur,” said the Valet, addressing himself to me, “il est tant
aimé de ces braves Garçons! et il merite si bien de l’être!”

Next day he looked better, and was in his usual spirits; the day
following, he was still better; and having taken a proper quantity of
the bark during the interval, he had no return of the fever. As he has
promised to continue the use of the bark, in sufficient doses, for some
time, and as relapses are not frequent at this season of the year, I am
persuaded the affair is over, and that he will gradually gain strength
till he is perfectly recovered.

He received me with less gaiety than usual, the day on which I took my
leave, and used many obliging expressions, which, however you may smile,
I am entirely disposed to believe were sincere; for

    Altho’ the candy’d tongue lick absurd pomp,
    And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
    Where thrift may follow fawning:
    ——Why should the poor be flatter’d?

Just as I was returning, we heard the music of the troops marching off
the parade.—“Apropos,” cried he, “How do your affairs go on with your
Colonies?” I said, I hoped every thing would be arranged and settled very
soon.

“Ne croyez vous pas,” said he, “que ces Messieurs,” pointing to the
troops which then passed below the window, “pourroient entrer pour
quelque chose dans l’arrangement?”

I said, I did not imagine the Americans were such fools as to break all
connection with their friends, and then risk falling into the power of
their enemies.

“Il me semble,” answered he, “que ces Messieurs font assez peu de cas de
votre amitié, et aussi, quand vous aurez prouvé qu’ils ont tort, il ne
s’en suivra pas que vous ayiez toujours eu raison.” “Allons,” continued
he, seeing that I looked a little grave, “point d’humeur;” then seizing
my hand, “permettez moi, je vous prie, d’aimer les Anglois sans haïr les
Américains.”

I soon after parted with this amiable Frenchman, whose gaiety, wit, and
agreeable manners, if I may judge from my own experience, represent the
character and disposition of great numbers of his countrymen.

After a very agreeable journey by Gray, Langres, and Troyes, we arrived
at this capital a few days ago.



LETTER LXXXII.


                                                                   Paris.

Although it is a considerable time since my arrival, yet, as you made
so long a stay at Paris while we were in Germany, I could not think of
resuming my observations on the manners of this gay metropolis. It has
been said, that those times are the most interesting to read of, which
were the most disagreeable to live in. So I find the places in which it
is most agreeable to reside, are precisely those from which we have the
least inclination to write. There are so many resources at Paris, that
it always requires a great effort to write letters, of any considerable
length, from such a place. This is peculiarly my case at present, as I
have the happiness of passing great part of my time with Mr. A—— S——t,
whom I found at this hotel on my arrival. The integrity, candour,
and ability, of that gentleman’s conduct, during a long residence,
have procured him a great number of friends in this capital, and have
established a character which calumny attempted in vain to overthrow.
Now that I have resolution to take up my pen, I shall endeavour to clear
the debt for which you dun me so unmercifully. I own, I am surprised,
that you should require my opinion on the uses of foreign travel, after
perusing, as you must have done, the Dialogues, lately published by an
eminent divine, equally distinguished for his learning and taste. But as
I know what makes you peculiarly solicitous on that subject at present,
I shall give you my sentiments, such as they are, without farther
hesitation.

I cannot help thinking, that a young man of fortune may spend a few years
to advantage, in travelling through some of the principal countries
of Europe, provided the tour be well-timed, and well-conducted; and,
without these, what part of education can be of use?

In a former letter, I gave my reasons for preferring the plan of
education at the public schools of England, to any other now in use at
home or abroad. After the young person has acquired the fundamental parts
of learning, which are taught at schools, he will naturally be removed
to some university. One of the most elegant and most ingenious writers
of the present age has, in his Inquiry into the Causes of the Wealth of
Nations, pointed out many deficiencies in those seminaries. What that
gentleman has said on this subject, may possibly have some effect in
bringing about an improvement. But, with all their deficiencies, it must
be acknowledged, that no universities have produced a greater number of
men distinguished for polite literature, and eminent for science, than
those of England. If a young man has, previously, acquired the habit of
application, and a taste for learning, he will certainly find the means
of improvement there; and, without these, I know not where he will make
any progress in literature. But whatever plan is adopted, whether the
young man studies at the university, or at home with private teachers,
while he is studying with diligence and alacrity, it would be doing him
a most essential injury, to interrupt him by a premature expedition to
the Continent, from an idea of his acquiring the graces, elegance of
manner, or any of the accomplishments which travelling is supposed to
give. Literature is preferable to all other accomplishments, and the men
of rank who possess it, have a superiority over those who do not, let
their graces be what they may, which the latter feel and envy, while they
affect to despise.

According to this plan, a youth, properly educated, will seldom begin his
foreign tour before the age of twenty; if it is a year or two later,
there will be no harm.

This is the age, it may be said, when young men of fortune endeavour
to get into Parliament: it is so; but if they should remain out of
Parliament till they are a few years older, the affairs of the nation
might possibly go on as well.

It may also be said, if the tour is deferred till the age of twenty, the
youth will not, after that period of life, attain the modern languages
in perfection. Nor will he acquire that easy manner, and fine address,
which are only caught by an early acquaintance with courts, and the
assemblies of the gay and elegant. This is true to a certain degree; but
the answer is, that by remaining at home, and applying to the pursuits of
literature, he will make more valuable attainments.

I am at a loss what to say about those same graces; it is certainly
desirable to possess them, but they must come, as it were,
spontaneously, or they will not come at all. They sometimes appear as
volunteers, but cannot be pressed into any service; and those who shew
the greatest anxiety about them, are the least likely to attain them.
I should be cautious, therefore, of advising a young man to study them
either at home or abroad with much solicitude. Students of the graces
are, generally, the most abominably affected fellows in the world. I have
seen _one_ of them make a whole company squeamish.

Though the pert familiarity of French children would not become an
English boy, yet it merits the earliest and the utmost attention to
prevent or conquer that aukward timidity which so often oppresses the
latter when he comes into company. The timidity I speak of, is entirely
different from modesty. I have seen the most impudent boys I ever knew,
almost convulsed with constraint in the presence of strangers, or when
they were required to pronounce a single sentence of civility. But it
was only on such occasions they were bashful. Among their companions or
inferiors, they were saucy, rude, and boisterous.

If boys of this description _only_ were liable to bashfulness, it would
be a pity to remove it. But although this quality is distinct from
modesty, it is not incompatible with it. Boys of the most modest and most
amiable disposition are often overwhelmed with it; from them it ought to
be removed, if it can be done, without endangering that modesty which is
so great an ornament to youth, and indeed to every period of life. This,
surely, may be done in England, as well as in any other country; but it
is too much neglected: many consider it as a matter of no importance,
or that it will wear off by time. We see it, however, often annihilate,
and always impair the effect of the greatest and most useful talents.
After the care of forming the heart by the principles of benevolence and
integrity, perhaps one of the most important parts of education is, to
habituate a boy to behave with modesty, but without restraint, and to
retain the full possession of all his faculties in any company.

To attain, betimes, that ease and elegance of manner, which travelling
is supposed to bestow, and that the young gentleman may become perfectly
master of the modern languages, some have thought of mixing the two
plans; and, instead of allowing him to prosecute his studies at home,
sending him abroad, immediately on his coming from school, on the
supposition that, with the assistance of a tutor and foreign professors,
he will proceed in the study of philosophy, and other branches of
literature, during the three or four years which are employed in the
usual tour. It will not be denied, that a young man who has made good
use of his time at school and at the university, who has acquired such
a taste for science as to consider its pursuits as a pleasure, and not
a task, may, even during his travels, mix the study of men with that of
books, and continue to make progress in the latter, when the greater
part of his time is dedicated to the former. But that such a taste will,
for _the first time_, spring up in the breast of a boy of sixteen or
seventeen, amidst the dissipation of theatres, reviews, processions,
balls, and assemblies, is of all things the least probable.

Others, who think lightly of the importance of what is usually called
science to a young man of rank and fortune, still contend, that a
knowledge of history, which they admit may be of some use _even to men
of fortune_, can certainly be acquired during the years of travelling.
But what sort of a knowledge will it be which a boy, in such a situation,
will acquire? Not that which Lord Bolingbroke calls philosophy, teaching
by examples, a proper conduct in the various situations of public and
private life, but merely a succession of reigns, of battles, and sieges,
stored up in the memory without reflection or application. I remember
a young gentleman, whom a strong and retentive memory of such events
often set a prating very mal-à-propos; one of his companions expressed
much surprise at his knowledge, and wondered how he had laid up such a
store. “Why, truly,” replied he, with frankness, “it is all owing to my
bungling blockhead of a valet, who takes up such an unconscionable time
in dressing my hair, that I am glad to read to keep me from fretting; and
as there are no newspapers, or magazines, to be had in this country, I
have been driven to history, which answers nearly as well.”

But it sometimes happens, that young men who are far behind their
contemporaries in every kind of literature, are wonderfully advanced in
the knowledge of the town, so as to vie with the oldest professors in
London, and endanger their own health by the ardour of their application.
The sooner such premature youths are separated from the connections
they have formed in the metropolis, the better; and as it will not be
easy to persuade them to live in any other part of Great Britain, it
will be necessary to send them abroad. But, instead of being carried to
courts and capitals, the best plan for them will be, to fix them in some
provincial town of France or Switzerland, where they may have a chance of
improving, not so much by new attainments, as by unlearning or forgetting
what they have already acquired.

After a young man has employed his time to advantage at a public school,
and has continued his application to various branches of science till the
age of twenty, you ask, what are the advantages he is likely to reap from
a tour abroad?

He will see mankind more at large, and in numberless situations and
points of view, in which they cannot appear in Great Britain, or any one
country. By comparing the various customs and usages, and hearing the
received opinions of different countries, his mind will be enlarged. He
will be enabled to correct the theoretical notions he may have formed of
human nature, by the practical knowledge of men. By contemplating their
various religions, laws, and government, _in action_, as it were, and
observing the effects they produce on the minds and characters of the
people, he will be able to form a juster estimate of their value than
otherwise he could have done. He will see the natives of other countries,
not as he sees them in England, mere idle spectators, but busily employed
in their various characters, as actors on their own proper stage. He will
gradually improve in the knowledge of _character_, not of Englishmen
only, but of men in general; he will cease to be deceived either by the
varnish with which men are apt to heighten their own actions, or the
dark colours in which they, too often, paint those of others. He will
learn to distinguish the real from the ostensible motive of men’s words
and behaviour. Finally, by being received with hospitality, conversing
familiarly, and living in the reciprocal exchange of good offices with
those whom he considered as enemies, or in some unfavourable point of
view, the sphere of his benevolence and good-will to his brethren of
mankind will gradually enlarge. His friendships extending beyond the
limits, of his own country, will embrace characters congenial with
his own in other nations. Seas, mountains, rivers, are _geographical_
boundaries, but never limited the good-will or esteem of one liberal
mind. As for his manner, though it will probably not be so janty as if he
had been bred in France from his earliest youth, yet that also will in
some degree be improved.

However persuaded he may be of the advantages enjoyed by the people of
England, he will see the harshness and impropriety of insulting the
natives of other countries with an ostentatious enumeration of those
advantages; he will perceive how odious those travellers make themselves,
who laugh at the religion, ridicule the customs, and insult the police of
the countries through which they pass, and who never fail to insinuate to
the inhabitants that they are all slaves and bigots. Such bold Britons
we have sometimes met with, _fighting_ their way through Europe, who, by
their continual broils and disputes, would lead one to imagine that the
angel of the Lord had pronounced on each of them the same denunciation
which he did on Ishmael the son of Abraham, by his handmaid Hagar. “And
he will be a wild man, and his hand will be against every man, and every
man’s hand against him[12].” If the same unsocial disposition should
creep into our politics, it might arm all the powers in Europe against
Great Britain, before she gets clear of her unhappy contest with America.
A young man, whose mind has been formed as it ought, before he goes
abroad, when he sees many individuals preserve personal dignity in spite
of arbitrary government, an independent mind amidst poverty, liberal and
philosophic sentiments amidst bigotry and superstition; must naturally
have the highest esteem for such characters, and allow them more merit
than those even of his own country, who think and act in the same manner
in less unfavourable circumstances.

Besides these advantages, a young man of fortune, by spending a few
years abroad, will gratify a natural and laudable curiosity, and pass
a certain portion of his life in an agreeable manner. He will form
an acquaintance with that boasted nation, whose superior taste and
politeness are universally acknowledged; whose fashions and language are
adopted by all Europe; and who, in science, power, and commerce, are
the rivals of Great Britain. He will have opportunities of observing
the political constitution of the German empire; that complex body,
formed by a confederacy of princes, ecclesiastics, and free cities,
comprehending countries of vast extent, inhabited by a hardy race of men,
distinguished for solid sense and integrity, who, without having equalled
their sprightlier neighbours in works of taste or imagination, have shewn
what prodigious efforts of application the human mind is capable of in
the severest and least amusing studies, and whose armies exhibit at
present the most perfect models of military discipline. In contemplating
these, he will naturally consider, whether those armies tend most to the
aggrandizement of the Monarch, or to defend or preserve any thing to the
people who maintain them, and the soldiers who compose them, equivalent
to the vast expence of money, and the still greater quantity of misery
which they occasion.

Viewing the remains of Roman taste and magnificence, he will feel a
thousand emotions of the most interesting nature, while those whose
minds are not, like his, stored with classical knowledge, gaze with
tasteless wonder, or phlegmatic indifference; and, exclusive of those
monuments of antiquity, he will naturally desire to be acquainted with
the present inhabitants of a country, which at different periods has
produced men who, by one means or another, have distinguished themselves
so eminently from their contemporaries of other nations. At one period,
having subdued the world by the wisdom and firmness of their councils,
and the disciplined vigour of their armies, Rome became at once the seat
of empire, learning, and the arts.

After the Northern barbarians had destroyed the overgrown fabric of Roman
power, a new empire, of a more singular nature, gradually arose from its
ruins, artfully extending its influence over the minds of men, till the
Princes of Europe were at length as much controlled by the bulls of the
Vatican, as their ancestors had been by the decrees of the Senate.

Commerce also, which rapine and slaughter had frightened from Europe,
returned, and joined with Superstition in drawing the riches of all the
neighbouring nations to Italy. And, at a subsequent period, Learning,
bursting through the clouds of ignorance which overshadowed mankind,
again shone forth in the same country, bringing in her train, Poetry,
Painting, Sculpture, and Music, all of which have been cultivated with
the greatest success; and the three last brought, by the inhabitants of
this country, to a degree of excellence unequalled by the natives of
any other country of the world. When to these considerations we add,
that there is reason to believe that this country had arrived at a great
degree of perfection in the arts before the beginning of the Roman
republic, we are almost tempted to believe, that local and physical
causes have a considerable influence in rendering the mind more acute
in this country of Italy, than any where else; and that if the infinite
political disadvantages under which it labours were removed, and the
whole of this peninsula united in one State, it would again resume its
superiority over other nations.

Lastly, by visiting other countries, a subject of Great Britain will
acquire a greater esteem than ever for the constitution of his own.
Freed from vulgar prejudices, he will perceive, that the blessings and
advantages which his countrymen enjoy, do not flow from their superiority
in wisdom, courage, or virtue, over the other nations of the world, but,
in some degree, from the peculiarity of their situation in an island;
and, above all, from those just and equitable laws which secure property,
that mild free government which abhors tyranny, protects the meanest
subject, and leaves the mind of man to its own exertions, unrestrained
by those arbitrary, capricious, and impolitic shackles, which confine
and weaken its noblest endeavours in almost every other country of the
world. This animates industry, creates fertility, and scatters plenty
over the boisterous island of Great Britain, with a profusion unknown in
the neighbouring nations, who behold with astonishment such numbers of
British subjects, of both sexes, and of all ages, roaming discontented
through the lands of despotism, in search of that happiness, which, if
satiety and the wanton restlessness of wealth would permit, they have a
much better prospect of enjoying in their own country.

    Cœlum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.
    Strenua nos exercet inertia, navibus atque
    Quadrigis petimus bene vivere. Quod petis, hic est.

    [12] Vide Genesis, chap. xvi. verse 12.


THE END.



TRANSLATIONS OF THE LATIN AND ITALIAN QUOTATIONS IN THE SECOND VOLUME.


Page

19.

    The wretched father running to their aid,
    With pious haste, but vain, they next invade.

                                          DRYDEN.

44.

    How beautiful he is! O how beautiful he is!

_Ibid._

    He is as beautiful as he is holy.

86.

    O God, where am I? what pleasure ravishes my soul!

90.

    The memory of Cassius and Brutus made a deeper impression on
    the minds of the spectators, on this very account, that their
    statues were _not_ seen in the procession.

95.

    Many have held the empire longer; none ever relinquished it
    from more generous motives.

99.

    Now by rich Circe’s coast they bend their way.

100.

    Last with her martial troops all sheathed in brass,
    Camilla came, a queen of Volscian race;
    Nor were the web or loom the virgin’s care,
    But arms and coursers, and the toils of war.
    She led the rapid race, and left behind
    The flagging floods, and pinions of the wind:
    Lightly she flies along the level plain,
    Nor hurts the tender grass, nor bends the golden grain.

                                                      PITT.

101.

    To Forum-Appii thence we steer, a place
    Stuff’d with rank boatmen, and with vintners base.

                                              FRANCIS.

102.

    The head of St. Thomas Aquinas.

104.

    And the steep hills of Circe stretch around,
    Where fair Feronia boasts her stately grove,
    And Anxur glories in her guardian Jove;
    Where stands the Pontine lake——

                               PITT.

107.

    Whether is it best to go by the Numician or Appian way to
    Brundusium?

108.

    We willingly leave Fundi, where Alifidius Luscus is chief
    magistrate.

108.

    From whom the illustrious race arose,
    Who first possessed the Formian towers.

                                   FRANCIS.

_Ibid._

    My cups are neither enriched with the juice of the Falernian
    grapes, nor that of those from the Formian hills.

114.

      ——the rich fields that Liris laves,
    Where silent roll his deepning waves.

                                 FRANCIS.

116.

    Pure spirits these; the world no purer knows;
    For none my heart with such affection glows.
    How oft did we embrace! our joys how great!
    Is there a blessing, in the power of fate,
    To be compared, in sanity of mind,
    To friends of such companionable kind?

                                  FRANCIS.

117.

    Formerly called another Carthage, or another Rome; it now lies
    buried in its own ruins.

124.

    God forbid!

125.

    Blessed Jesus!

126.

    It is that which vexes me.

142.

    My son laments, that he has not killed more than eighty birds
    in one day, whereas, I should think myself the happiest man in
    the world, if I could kill forty.

188.

    The knight of Aglant now has couch’d his spear,
    Where closely prest the men and arms appear:
    First one, and then another, helpless dies;
    Thro’ six at once the lance impetuous flies,
    And in the seventh inflicts so deep a wound,
    That prone he tumbles lifeless to the ground.

                                           HOOLE.

188, 189.

    Thus by some standing pool or marshy place,
    We see an archer slay the croaking race
    With pointed arrow, nor the slaughter leave,
    Till the full weapon can no more receive.

                                       HOOLE.

197.

    Both Arcadians, but not equally skilled in singing.

216.

    What inconsiderate fellow, to terrify people, could first
    give the mournful name of tears to that wine which, above all
    others, renders the heart glad, and excites cheerfulness?

277.

    O illustrious memorial! O irrefragable truth! Come hither, ye
    heretics! come hither, and be astonished, and open your eyes to
    catholic and evangelic truth. The blood of St. Januarius alone
    is a sufficient testimony of the truth. Is it possible, that
    such a great and famous miracle does not convert all heretics
    and infidels to the truths of the Roman Catholic church?

285.

    ’Sblood! it is still as hard as a stone.

304.

    Virtue crowns him after many great achievements.

307.

    All, all for the King’s amusement.

_Ibid._

    Surely.

_Ibid._

    Surely, surely.

314.

    I intreat you to forsake, as soon as possible, the corrupt
    coast of Baia.

_Ibid._

    A coast most unfriendly to modest maids.

320.

    Confections of Tivoli.

322.

    May Tibur, to my latest hours,
    Afford a kind and calm retreat;
    Tibur, beneath whose lofty towers,
    The Græcians fix’d their blissful seat.

                                   FRANCIS.

322.

    The walls of the moist Tibur then flood, which was founded by
    the Greeks.

_Ibid._

    For little folks become their little fate,
    And at my age, not Rome’s imperial seat,
    ...
    But Tibur’s solitude my taste can please.

325.

    When retired to the cool dream of Digentia, which supplies the
    cold village of Mandela with water; what, my friend, do you
    imagine, are my sentiments and wishes?

_Ibid._

    Pan from Arcadia’s heights descends,
    To visit oft my rural seat——

                         FRANCIS.

    But as a bee, which thro’ the shady groves,
    Feeble of wing, with idle murmurs roves,
    Sips on the bloom, and, with unceasing toil,
    From the sweet thyme extracts his flow’ry spoil,
    So I, weak bard! round Tibur’s lucid spring,
    Of humble strain laborious verses sing.

                                   FRANCIS.

328.

    But me not patient Lacedæmon charms,
    Nor fair Larissa with such transport warms,
    As pure Albuneus’ rock resounding source,
    And rapid Anio, headlong in his course,
    Or Tibur, fenced by groves from solar beams,
    And fruitful orchards bath’d by ductile dreams.

                                           FRANCIS.

331.

    Hither I, Apollo, have come, accompanied by the Muses. This
    shall henceforth be our Delphos, Delos, and Helicon.

335.

    The woods all thunder’d, and the mountains shook,
    The lake of Trivia heard the note profound.
    ...
    Pale at the piercing call, the mothers prest
    With shrieks their starting infants to the breast.

                                                 PITT.

362.

      The man in conscious virtue bold,
      Who dares his secret purpose hold,
    Unshaken hears the crowd’s tumultuous cries,
    And the stern tyrant’s brow —— —— defies.

                                     FRANCIS.

363.

    While Michael was forming this statue, shocked with the
    recollection of Brutus’ crime, he left his design unfinished.

369.

    I also am a painter.

383.

    Do you imagine there is but little difference between acting
    from feeling, as nature dictates, or from art?

444.

    I am the workmanship of Marcus Agratus, not of Praxiteles.

502.

    If they, who through the venturous ocean range,
    Not their own passions, but the climate, change;
    Anxious thro’ seas and land to search for rest,
    Is but laborious idleness at best.

                              FRANCIS.



ERRATA.


    Page 126. line 18. _for_ snuff boxes, or tortoise shells, and the
                         lava, &c. _read_ snuff boxes of tortoise
                         shells, and of the lava, &c.

         159.  ——  21. _for_ vote _read_ veto

         211.  ——  14. _for_ than it has been _read_ than at any time.

         384.  ——   6. _Before the word_ Accusations _read_ Such.

         408.  ——   6. _for_ the confinement _read_ that confinement.





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