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Title: A View of Society and Manners in Italy, Volume I (of 2) - With Anecdotes Relating to some Eminent Characters
Author: Moore, John W. (John Wheeler)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note: Evident printing errors have been changed, but
otherwise the original (and antiquated) spelling has been preserved, in
both English and other languages. The errata have been corrected.



                                    A
                                  VIEW
                                   OF
                           SOCIETY AND MANNERS
                                   IN
                                 ITALY:

                                  WITH
             ANECDOTES relating to some EMINENT CHARACTERS.

                          BY JOHN MOORE, M. D.

                             IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                 VOL. I.

          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.



ADVERTISEMENT.


The following observations on Italy, and on Italian manners, occurred
in the course of the same Tour in which those contained in a book
lately published, entitled _A View of Society and Manners in France,
Switzerland, and Germany_, were made. All who have read that book will
perceive, at first sight, that the present work is a continuation of the
former; but to those who have not, it was thought necessary to account
for the abrupt manner in which the following Letters begin.

    Clarges-street,
    December 14, 1780.



_Just Published_,

A NEW EDITION OF

A VIEW of SOCIETY and MANNERS in FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, and GERMANY; with
ANECDOTES relating to some EMINENT CHARACTERS. In Two Volumes. Price 10s.
in Boards.



CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.


                             LETTER I. p. 1.

    _Journey from Vienna to Venice._

                            LETTER II. p. 20.

    _The arsenal.—The Bucentaur.—Doge’s marriage._

                           LETTER III. p. 27.

    _The island of Murano.—Glass manufactory.—Mr. Montague._

                            LETTER IV. p. 39.

    _Situation of Venice.—Lagune.—Canals.—Bridges._

                            LETTER V. p. 46.

    _Piazza di St. Marco.—Patriarchal church.—Ducal
    palace.—Broglio._

                            LETTER VI. p. 56.

    _Reflections excited by the various objects around St. Mark’s
    square.—On painting.—A connoisseur._

                           LETTER VII. p. 69.

    _Origin of Venice._

                           LETTER VIII. p. 77.

    _Various changes in the form of government.—Tyrannical conduct
    of a Doge.—Savage behaviour of the people.—Commerce of Venice._

                            LETTER IX. p. 89.

    _New regulations.—Foundation of the aristocracy.—Origin of the
    ceremony of espousing the Sea.—New forms of magistracy._

                            LETTER X. p. 104.

    _Henry Dandolo._

                           LETTER XI. p. 114.

    _New courts.—New magistrates.—Reformation of the Venetian
    code.—The form of electing the Doge._

                           LETTER XII. p. 129.

    _Aristocracy
    established.—Conspiracies.—Insurrections.—Ecclesiastical
    Inquisition.—The College, or Seigniory._

                          LETTER XIII. p. 144.

    _Conspiracy against the State, by a Doge.—Singular instance of
    weakness and vanity in a noble Venetian.—New magistrates to
    prevent luxury.—Courtesans._

                           LETTER XIV. p. 157.

    _Rigour of Venetian laws exemplified in the cases of Antonio
    Venier, Carlo Zeno, and young Foscari._

                           LETTER XV. p. 171.

    _The Council of Ten, and the State Inquisitors.—Reflections on
    these institutions._

                           LETTER XVI. p. 187.

    _League of Cambray.—War with Turks.—Antonio Bragadino.—Battle
    of Lapanta.—Disputes with the Pope._

                          LETTER XVII. p. 201.

    _Marquis of Bedamar’s conspiracy.—False accusations.—The siege
    of Candia.—The impatience of a Turkish Emperor.—Conclusion of
    the review of the Venetian Government._

                          LETTER XVIII. p. 215.

    _Venetian manners.—Opera.—Affectation.—A Duo.—Dancers._

                           LETTER XIX. p. 227.

    _No military establishment at Venice.—What supplies its place._

                           LETTER XX. p. 232.

    _Reflections on the nature of Venetian
    Government.—Gondoleers.—Citizens.—The Venetian subjects on the
    Terra Firma._

                           LETTER XXI. p. 240.

    _Gallantry.—Cassinos._

                          LETTER XXII. p. 249.

    _Character of Venetians.—Customs and usages.—Influence of
    fashion in matters of taste.—Prejudice.—The excellence of
    Italian comic actors._

                          LETTER XXIII. p. 262.

    _Departure from Venice.—Padua.—St. Anthony, his tomb and
    miracles._

                          LETTER XXIV. p. 270.

    _Church of St. Justina.—The bodies of St. Matthew and St.
    Luke.—The university.—Beggars._

                           LETTER XXV. p. 275.

    _The antiquity of Padua.—The Brenta.—The Po.—The Thames._

                          LETTER XXVI. p. 285.

    _Ferrara.—The Family of Este.—Ariosto, the Emperor, and his
    brothers, lodge at an inn, which oversets the understanding of
    the landlord. An inscription._

                          LETTER XXVII. p. 292.

    _Bologna. Its government, commerce, palaces._

                         LETTER XXVIII. p. 301.

    _The academy of arts and sciences.—Church of St.
    Petronius.—Dominican convent.—Palaces.—Raphael.—Guido._

                          LETTER XXIX. p. 313.

    _Journey from Bologna to Ancona.—The Rubicon.—Julius
    Cæsar.—Pesaro.—Fano.—Claudius Nero.—Asdrubal.—Senegalia._

                           LETTER XXX. p. 323.

    _Ancona.—The influence of commerce on the characters of
    mankind.—The Mole.—The triumphal arch of the Emperor Trajan._

                          LETTER XXXI. p. 333.

    _Loretto.—History of the Casa Santa._

                          LETTER XXXII. p. 340.

    _Description of the sacred chapel.—The treasury._

                         LETTER XXXIII. p. 351.

    _Pilgrimages to Loretto.—Manufactures.—Confessionals.—Basso
    relievos.—Zeal of pilgrims.—Iron grates before the
    chapels.—Reflections._

                          LETTER XXXIV. p. 362.

    _Tolentino.—The Apennines.—A hermit.—Umbria.—Spoletto._

                          LETTER XXXV. p. 371.

    _Terni.—Narni.—Otricoli.—Civita Castellana.—Campania of Rome._

                          LETTER XXXVI. p. 380.

    _Rome.—Conversazionis.—Cardinal Bernis.—The distress of an
    Italian lady._

                         LETTER XXXVII. p. 389.

    _Remarks on ancient and modern Rome.—The church of St. Peter’s._

                         LETTER XXXVIII. p. 404.

    _The ceremony of the Possesso._

                          LETTER XXXIX. p. 413.

    _Pantheon.—Coliseum.—Gladiators._

                           LETTER XL. p. 432.

    _The Campidoglio.—Forum Romanum.—Jews._

                           LETTER XLI. p. 442.

    _Ruins.—Via Sacra.—Tarpeian Rock.—Campus Martius.—Various
    Forums.—Trajan’s Column._

                          LETTER XLII. p. 452.

    _The beatification of a Saint._

                          LETTER XLIII. p. 459.

    _Character of modern Italians.—Observations on human nature
    in general.—An English Officer.—Cause of the frequency of the
    crime of murder._

                          LETTER XLIV. p. 474.

    _Different kinds of punishment.—Account of an execution.—Souls
    in purgatory._

                           LETTER XLV. p. 487.

    _The usual course with an antiquarian.—An expeditious course,
    by a young Englishman.—The Villa Borghese._

                          LETTER XLVI. p. 506.

    _The morning study of an artist.—Conversation with him on
    that subject.—An Italian lady and her Confessor.—The Lady’s
    religious scruples and precaution._



[Illustration]



A VIEW OF SOCIETY AND MANNERS

IN

ITALY.



[Illustration]



LETTER I.


                                                                  Venice.

DEAR SIR,

Having left Vienna, we proceeded through the Duchies of Stiria,
Carinthia, and Carniola, to Venice. Notwithstanding the mountainous
nature of those countries, the roads are remarkably good. They were
formed originally at a vast expence of labour to the inhabitants, but in
such a durable manner, that it requires no great trouble to keep them
in repair, to which all necessary attention seems to be paid. Some of
the mountains are covered with wood, but more generally they are quite
bare. Among them are many fields and vallies, fit for pasturage and the
cultivation of grain; a few of these vallies are remarkably fertile,
particularly in the Duchy of Carniola. The bowels of the earth abound
in lead, copper, and iron. Stirian steel is reckoned excellent; and the
little town of Idra, in Carniola, is famous for the quicksilver mines in
its neighbourhood.

It has been a matter of controversy among the learned (for the learned
dispute about many things which the ignorant think of little importance),
by what road the original inhabitants came, who first peopled Italy? And
it has been decided by some, that they must have entered by this very
country of Carniola. These gentlemen lay it down as an axiom, that the
first inhabitants of every country in the world, that is not an island,
must have come by land, and not by sea, on account of the ignorance of
the early inhabitants of the earth in the art of navigation; but Italy
being a peninsula, the only way to enter it by land, is at some part
of the isthmus by which it is joined to the rest of Europe. The Alps
form great part of that isthmus, and, in the early ages, would exclude
strangers as effectually as the sea. The easiest, shortest, and only
possible way of avoiding seas and mountains, in entering Italy, is by the
Duchy of Carniola and Friuli. _Ergo_, they came that way. Q.E.D.

In contradiction to the preceding demonstration, others assert, that the
first inhabitants came in ships from Greece; and others have had the
boldness to affirm, that Italy had as good a right as any other country
to have inhabitants of its own original production, without being obliged
to any vagrants whatever.

I thought it right to give you the opinion of the learned on this
country, because it is not in my power to describe it from my own
observation; for we passed through those Duchies with a rapidity which
baffles all _description_.

The inns are as bad as the roads are good; for which reason we chose to
sleep on the latter rather than in the former, and actually travelled
five days and nights, without stopping any longer than was necessary to
change horses.

This method of travelling, however agreeable and improving it may be in
other respects, is by no means calculated to give one the most perfect
and lasting idea of the face of a country, or of the manners and
characters of the inhabitants; and therefore I hope you will not insist
upon an exact account of either.

Among other curiosities which our uninterrupted and expeditious movement
prevented us from observing with due attention, was the town of Gratz,
the capital of Stiria, through which we unfortunately passed in the
middle of the night.

I did not regret this on account of the regularity of the streets, the
venerable aspect of the churches, the sublime site of the castle, and
other things which we had heard extolled; but solely because we had not
an opportunity of visiting the shrine of St. Allan, a native of England,
who formerly was a Dominican Monk of a convent in this town, and in high
favour with the Virgin Mary, of which she gave him some proofs as strong
as they were extraordinary. Amongst other marks of her regard, she used
to comfort him with milk from her breasts. This, to be sure, is a mark
of affection seldom bestowed upon favourites above a year old, and will,
I dare say, surprise you a good deal. There is no great danger, however,
that an example of this kind should spread among virgins. Of the fact
in the present instance there can be no doubt; for it is recorded in
an inscription underneath a portrait of the Saint, which is carefully
preserved in the Dominican convent of this city. We continued our
journey, in the full resolution of reaching Venice before we indulged in
any other bed than the post-chaise; but were obliged to stop short on a
sudden for want of horses, at a small town called Wipach, bordering on
the county of Goritia, in Carniola.

Before setting out from Vienna, we had been informed, that the Archduke
and his Princess were about to return to Milan; for which reason
we thought it adviseable to remain at Vienna eight days after their
departure, to avoid the inconveniencies which might arise from a
deficiency of post-horses on such an unfrequented road.

Having taken our measures with so much foresight, we little expected,
when we actually did set out, to meet with any delay in our progress.

The Archduke and his Duchess, however, had thought proper to go out of
the direct road as far as Trieste, to view the late improvements of
that town, whose commerce is greatly encouraged and protected by the
Emperor; and remaining there a few days, all the post-horses which had
been assembled to carry them to Trieste, were kept in the post-houses
for their use; consequently we found none at Wipach. It began to grow
dark when we arrived; the Post-master was smoking his pipe at the door.
As soon as the chaise stopped, we called to him to get ready the horses
without loss of time; for, I added, with a tone of importance, that we
could not possibly stay a moment. To this he replied coolly, that since
we were in so very great a hurry, he should not attempt to detain us,
but that he had no horses to carry us on. I asked, how soon they could
be got. He answered, when they returned from attending the Archduke; but
whether that would be the next day, the following, or a day or two after,
he could not tell.

It appeared a great hardship to be stopped short, so unexpectedly, at a
little paultry inn, and we agreed that nothing could have happened more
unfortunately. After a few hasty ejaculations, which regarded the posting
establishment, and the Lords of Police of this country, we resolved to
make a virtue of necessity, and bear our misfortunes with firmness and
equanimity.

As we stepped out of the chaise, I ordered the Post-master, therefore,
to get ready beds, a good supper, and some of his best wine. Instead of
receiving these injunctions with marks of satisfaction, as I expected, he
answered without emotion, that he had no wine but for his own drinking;
that he never gave suppers to any but his own family; and that he had
no bed, except that which he himself, his wife, and his child occupied,
which could not easily hold any more than them three at a time.

I had not hitherto perceived that this man’s house was not an inn: as
soon as I was undeceived, I begged he would inform us where the inn was.
He pointed with his pipe to a small house on the opposite side of the
street.

There we were told, that all the victuals in the house were already
devoured—three or four guests were in every spare room—the family going
to bed—and they could not possibly receive any more company. We had
nearly the same account at another little inn, and an absolute refusal at
every house where we sued for admittance.

The town of Wipach is so near Goritia, that no travellers, except those
of the meanest kind, ever think of stopping at the former; and therefore
the inhabitants have no idea of making preparations for other guests.

In this dilemma I returned to our Post-master, who was still smoking
his pipe before the door. I informed him of our bad success, and, in a
more soothing tone of voice than that in which I had formerly addressed
him, begged to know how we were to dispose of ourselves that night. He
replied, with admirable composure, _that_ was more than he could tell;
but as the horses were expected in a few days, if I should send him word
where we were to be found, he would take care to let us know the moment
they should be ready: in the mean time, as it began to rain, and the
evening was exceedingly cold, he wished us a very good night. So saying,
he went into the house, shutting and bolting the door very carefully
after him.

No philosopher, ancient or modern, ever supported the distresses of
others with more equanimity than this man.

We were now fully convinced, that to be under the necessity of remaining
all night at an inn, when they incline to proceed on their journey, is
not the most unfortunate thing that can befal travellers, and would have
now been happy in that situation which we had considered with horror an
hour or two before.

In this forlorn condition I turned to an Italian servant of the Duke
of H——’s, a shrewd fellow, who seldom wanted a resource in times of
difficulty. He seemed, however, a little nonplussed on the present
emergency; he stood shrugging his shoulders, with his eyes fixed on
the ground. At length, starting as if he had that instant awaked, he
muttered, “Cent ore di maniconia non pangano un quattrino di debito,” and
then walked away with an air not totally devoid of hope.

I attended him, without knowing upon what his expectations were founded.
We came to a convent of Monks, and got admittance; the Italian called for
the Superior, and told him, in a few words, our condition. The venerable
old man heard him with an air of benevolence; he expressed sorrow at the
treatment we had received, and, desiring me to accompany him, said he
would endeavour to find us lodgings. He conducted us to a poor looking
house, occupied by a widow and her children. As soon as the good Monk
had mentioned our case, she said we should be most welcome to such
entertainment as she could afford. We had an excellent supper of sour
krout, and sallad. I shall never forget it. I found her wine excellent,
and her beds delightful; the good Monk seemed to enjoy the satisfaction
we expressed, and positively refused to accept of any other recompence
for his trouble.

Had we found the most elegant inn, and the most luxurious supper at our
arrival, we might possibly have spent the evening in repining at being
disappointed in post-horses; but the dread of so small a misfortune as
passing the night supperless in the streets, reconciled us at once to
the widow’s hovel, and made us happy with her homely fare; so necessary
is a certain portion of hardships or difficulties for giving a zest to
enjoyment. Without them, the comforts of life are apt to become insipid;
and we see that the people who, independent of any effort of their own,
have every enjoyment at their command, are, perhaps, of all mankind,
those who have the least enjoyment.

The widow, as we understood in the morning, had sat up all night with
her family, that we might be accommodated with beds. She had no reason
to repent her hospitality. The poor woman’s gratitude made her talk
loudly of the D—— of H——’s generosity; which coming to the ears of the
Post-master, induced him to make an effort to get the chaises dragged on
to Goritia, without waiting the return of the post-horses.

This was performed by three cart-horses and two oxen, which were relieved
in the most mountainous part of the road by buffalos. There is a breed of
these animals in this country; they are strong, hardy, and docile, and
found preferable to either horses or oxen, for ploughing in a rough and
hilly country.

When we arrived at Goritia, we found the inhabitants in their holiday
dresses, at the windows, and in the streets, waiting with impatience
for a sight of the Grand Duke and Duchess. Having applied at the
post-house for horses, we were informed that none could be granted,
all being retained for the accommodation of his Highness. I could not
help remarking to the D—— of H——, that _Dukes_ seemed to be in a very
different predicament from _prophets in their own countries_.

Things turned out better than we had reason to expect. Their Highnesses
arrived in the evening; and as they did not propose to leave Goritia till
next morning, the Archduke had the politeness to give orders that the D——
of H—— should have what horses he wanted from the post-houses.

We set out immediately, and arrived at the next stage between one and
two in the morning. In that part of the world, raising the people at
midnight, and harnessing the horses for two carriages, takes up, at
least, as much time as driving two stages in some parts of England. Just
as we were going out of the post-house court, the Archduke’s butler and
cook arrived; they were going forward, as usual, to prepare supper, &c.
at the inn where their Highnesses intended to lie. They knew that the
horses were all retained for their master, but had not heard of the
particular order in favour of the D—— of H——. Seeing ten horses going to
set out, they exclaimed against the Post-master, and threatened him with
the vengeance of the whole house of Austria through all its branches, if
he should permit a single horse to leave the post-house till the Archduke
and his suite had passed.

The man, terrified with these threats, ordered the postilions to
dismount, and put up the horses. This mandate was by no means agreeable
to the D—— of H——; and the Post-master’s fear of the indignation of the
Imperial family, was that instant lost in a danger which was presented
to his face, and more immediately threatened his person—he ordered the
postilions to drive on.

The next post was at a small town in the Venetian State, where we found
that orders had come from Venice to the same effect with those received
at the different stages we had already past. The D—— of H——’s Italian
servant thought it would save time to make us pass for part of the
company to which these orders related—he ordered horses in the name of
the Grand Duke, and was instantly obeyed—but the butler and cook arriving
soon after, told a different tale. Couriers were dispatched, one of whom
overtook us, and, in the name of the magistrates, ordered the postilions
to drive back, for we were a gang of impostures, who had no connection
with the Grand Duke. The same arguments, however, which had so good an
effect on the German Post-master, prevailed also on the courier to be
silent, and the postilions to proceed.

It was midnight before we arrived at Mestre, a small town on the banks
of the Lagune, five miles from Venice, where we remained all night. Next
morning we hired a boat, and in two hours were landed in the middle of
this city.

We have taken very delightful apartments at an inn, on the side of the
great canal. They had been just quitted by his Royal Highness the Duke
of Gloucester, who is at present at Padua. Thus at length we are arrived
in Italy—

    Per varios casus, & tot discrimina rerum.



LETTER II.


                                                                  Venice.

A few days after our arrival at Venice, we met the Archduke and Duchess,
at the house of the Imperial Ambassador. They were highly entertained
with the history of their cook and butler, which I gave them at full
length.

The company consisted entirely of foreigners, the Venetian nobility never
visiting in the houses of foreign ministers.

Among other strangers was the son of the Duke of Berwick. This young
gentleman has lately allied himself to the family from which he is
descended, by marrying the sister of the Countess of Albany. I suppose
you have heard that the Pretender, now at Florence, has assumed the title
of Count Albany.

Next day the D—— of H—— accompanied the Archduke and Duchess to the
arsenal. They were attended by a deputation from the senate.

Some Venetian ladies of the first distinction, in compliment to the
Archduchess, were of the party.

The arsenal at Venice is a fortification of between two and three miles
in compass. On the ramparts are many little watch-towers, where centinels
are stationed. Like the arsenal at Toulon, it is at once a dockyard, and
repository for naval and military stores. Here the Venetians build their
ships, cast their cannon, make their cables, sails, anchors, &c. The arms
are arranged here as in other places of the same kind, in large rooms
divided into narrow walks by long walls of muskets, pikes, and halberts.
Every thing having been prepared before the Archduke and Duchess arrived,
a cannon was cast in their presence. After this the company were
conducted on board the Bucentaur, or vessel in which the Doge is carried
to espouse the Adriatic. Here they were regaled with wine and sweetmeats,
the Venetian nobles doing the honours of the entertainment.

The Bucentaur is kept under cover, and never taken out but for the
espousals. It is formed for containing a very numerous company, is finely
gilt and ornamented within, and loaded on the outside with emblematical
figures in sculpture. This vessel may possibly be admired by landsmen,
but will not much charm a seaman’s eye, being a heavy broad-bottomed
machine, which draws little water, and consequently may be easily
overset in a gale of wind. Of this, however, there is no great danger,
as two precautions are taken to prevent such an accident; one of which
seems calculated to quiet the minds of believers, and the other to give
confidence to the most incredulous. The first is used by the Patriarch,
who, as soon as the vessel is afloat, takes care to pour into the sea
some holy water, which is believed to have the virtue of preventing or
allaying storms. The second is entrusted to the Admiral, who has the
discretionary power of postponing the marriage ceremony, when the bride
seems in the smallest degree boisterous. One of the virtues of the holy
water, that of allaying storms, is by this means rendered superfluous.

But when the weather is quite favourable, the ceremony is performed every
Ascension Day. The solemnity is announced in the morning by the ringing
of bells and firing of cannon. About mid-day the Doge, attended by a
numerous party of the senate and clergy, goes on board the Bucentaur;
the vessel is rowed a little way into the sea, accompanied by the
splendid yachts of the foreign Ambassadors, the gondolas of the Venetian
nobility, and an incredible number of barks and gallies of every kind.
Hymns are sung, and a band of music performs, while the Bucentaur and
her attendants slowly move towards St. Lido, a small island, two miles
from Venice. Prayers are then said; after which the Doge drops a ring,
of no great value, into the sea, pronouncing these words—Desponsamus te,
Mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii. The sea, like a modest bride,
assents by her silence, and the marriage is deemed valid and secure to
all intents and purposes.

Certain it is, the time has been, when the Doge had entire possession of,
and dominion over, his spouse; but, for a considerable time past, her
favours have been shared by several other lovers; or, according to that
violent metaphor of Otway’s,

                      ——now
    Their Great Duke shrinks, trembling in his palace,
    And sees his wife, the Adriatic, plough’d,
    Like a lewd whore, by bolder prows than his.

After viewing every thing in the arsenal, the Archduke and Duchess, with
all the company, were invited on board some boats which had been prepared
for their reception. They were directly rowed to that part of the lake
from whence there was the most advantageous view of Venice, a band of
music performing all the time; while the sailors, in two or three small
boats, were employed in fishing oysters, which they opened and presented
to the company.

The amusements of this day had all the advantage of novelty to render
them agreeable to strangers, and every additional pleasure which the
attentive and polite behaviour of the Venetian nobility could give.



LETTER III.


                                                                  Venice.

As this is not the time of any of the public solemnities which draw
strangers to Venice, it is fortunate that we happen to be here with the
Archduke and Duchess. The great respect which this state is anxious of
shewing the Imperial family, has brought many of the nobility to Venice,
who would otherwise have been at their country seats on the continent,
and has also given us opportunities of seeing some things to more
advantage than we could otherwise have done.

I had the honour of attending their Highnesses when they went to visit
the island of Murano. This is about a mile from Venice, was formerly
a very flourishing place, and still boasts some palaces which bear
the marks of former magnificence, though now in a state of decay. The
island is said to contain 20,000 inhabitants. The great manufactories of
looking-glasses are the only inducements which strangers have to visit
this place. I saw one very fine plate, for a mirror, made in the presence
of the Archduke in a few minutes: though not so large as some I have
seen of the Paris manufactory, yet it was much larger than I could have
thought it in the power of human lungs to blow. Instead of being cast,
as in France and England, the Murano mirrors are all blown in the manner
of bottles. It is astonishing to see with what dexterity the workman
wields a long hollow cylinder of melted glass, at the end of an iron
tube, which, when he has extended as much as possible, by blowing, and
every other means his art suggests, he slits with a sharp instrument,
removing the two extremities from each other, and folding back the sides:
the cylinder now appears a large sheet of glass, which being once more
introduced into the furnace, is brought out a clear, finished plate.

This manufactory formerly served all Europe with looking-glasses; the
quantity made here is still considerable; for although France and
England, and some other countries, make their own mirrors, yet, by the
natural progress of luxury, those countries which still get their mirrors
and other things from Murano, use a much greater quantity now than
formerly; so that on the supposition that the Murano manufacturers have
lost three-fourths of their customers, they may still retain half as much
trade as they ever had. It is surprising that, instead of blowing, they
do not adopt the method of casting, which I should think a much easier
process, and by which larger plates may be made. Besides mirrors, an
infinite quantity of glass trinkets (margaritini as they are called) of
all shapes and colours are made here. Women of the inferior ranks wear
them as ornaments, and as rosaries; they also mould this substance into
many various whimsical forms, by way of ornamental furniture to houses
and churches. In short, there are glass baubles enough made here to bribe
into slavery half the inhabitants of the coast of Guinea.

Since the departure of the Archduke and Duchess, the D—— of H—— has
passed his time mostly in the houses of the foreign Ambassadors, the best
resource here, next to the theatres, for strangers.

We were lately at a conversazione at the Spanish Ambassador’s; it might
have passed for a pantomime entertainment. The Ambassador, his lady, and
daughters, speak no language but Spanish; and unfortunately this was
understood by none of the company but the Duke of Berwick’s son. Hearing
that Mr. Montague resided at Venice, the D—— of H—— has had the curiosity
to wait on that extraordinary man. He met his Grace at the stair-head,
and led us through some apartments, furnished in the Venetian manner,
into an inner room in quite a different style. There were no chairs, but
he desired us to seat ourselves on a sopha, whilst he placed himself on
a cushion on the floor, with his legs crossed in the Turkish fashion. A
young black slave sat by him, and a venerable old man, with a long beard,
served us with coffee.

After this collation some aromatic gums were brought, and burnt in a
little silver vessel. Mr. Montague held his nose over the steam for some
minutes, and snuffed up the perfume with peculiar satisfaction; he
afterwards endeavoured to collect the smoke with his hands, spreading and
rubbing it carefully along his beard, which hung in hoary ringlets to his
girdle. This manner of perfuming the beard seems more cleanly, and rather
an improvement upon that used by the Jews in ancient times, as described
in the psalms translated by Sternhold and Hopkins.

    ’Tis like the precious ointment, that
      Was pour’d on Aaron’s head,
    Which from the beard down to the skirts
      Of his rich garments spread.

Or, as the Scotch translation has it:

    Like precious ointment on the head
      That down the beard did flow;
    Even Aaron’s beard, and to the skirts
      Did of his garments go.

Which of these versions is preferable, I leave to the critics in Hebrew
and English poesy to determine. I hope, for the sake of David’s
reputation as a poet, that neither have retained all the spirit of
the original. We had a great deal of conversation with this venerable
looking person, who is, to the last degree, acute, communicative, and
entertaining, and in whose discourse and manners are blended the vivacity
of a Frenchman with the gravity of a Turk. We found him, however,
wonderfully prejudiced in favour of the Turkish characters and manners,
which he thinks infinitely preferable to the European, or those of any
other nation.

He describes the Turks in general as a people of great sense and
integrity, the most hospitable, generous, and the happiest of mankind. He
talks of returning, as soon as possible to Egypt, which he paints as a
perfect paradise; and thinks that, had it not been otherwise ordered for
wise purposes, of which it does not become us to judge, the children of
Israel would certainly have chosen to remain where they were, and have
endeavoured to drive the Egyptians to the land of Canaan.

Though Mr. Montague hardly ever stirs abroad, he returned the D——’s
visit; and as we were not provided with cushions, he sat, while he staid,
upon a sopha, with his legs under him, as he had done at his own house.
This posture, by long habit, is now become the most agreeable to him,
and he insists on its being by far the most natural and convenient; but,
indeed, he seems to cherish the same opinion with regard to all the
customs which prevail among the Turks. I could not help mentioning one,
which I suspected would be thought both unnatural and inconvenient by
at least one half of the human race; that of the men being allowed to
engross as many women as they can maintain, and confining them to the
most insipid of all lives, within their harams. “No doubt,” replied
he, “the women are all enemies to polygamy and concubinage; and there
is reason to imagine, that this aversion of theirs, joined to the
great influence they have in all Christian countries, has prevented
Mahometanism from making any progress in Europe. The Turkish men, on the
other hand,” continued he, “have an aversion to Christianity, equal to
that which the Christian women have to the religion of Mahomet: auricular
confession is perfectly horrible to their imagination. No Turk, of any
delicacy, would ever allow his wife, particularly if he had but one, to
hold private conference with a man, on any pretext whatever.”

I took notice, that this aversion to auricular confession, could not be
a reason for the Turk’s dislike to the _Protestant_ religion. “That is
true,” said he, “but you have other tenets in common with the Catholics,
which renders your religion as odious as their’s. You forbid polygamy
and concubinage, which, in the eyes of the Turks, who obey the dictates
of the religion they embrace, is considered as an intolerable hardship.
Besides, the idea which your religion gives of heaven, is by no means
to their taste. If they believed your account, they would think it the
most tiresome and comfortless place in the universe, and not one Turk
among a thousand would go to the Christian heaven if he had it in his
choice. Lastly, the Christian religion considers women, as creatures
upon a level with men, and equally entitled to every enjoyment, both
here and hereafter. When the Turks are told this,” added he, “they are
not surprised at being informed also, that women, in general, are better
Christians than men; but they are perfectly astonished that an opinion,
which they think so contrary to common sense, should subsist among the
rational, that is to say, the male part of Christians. It is impossible,”
added Mr. Montague, “to drive it out of the head of a Mussulman, that
women are creatures of a subordinate species, created merely to comfort
and amuse men during their journey through this vain world, but by no
means worthy of accompanying believers to paradise, where females, of a
nature far superior to women, wait with impatience to receive all pious
Mussulmen into their arms.”

It is needless to relate to you any more of our conversation. A lady,
to whom I was giving an account of it the day on which it happened,
could with difficulty allow me to proceed thus far in my narrative; but,
interrupting me with impatience, she said, she was surprised I could
repeat all the nonsensical, detestable, impious maxims of those odious
Mahometans; and she thought Mr. Montague should be sent back to Egypt,
with his long beard, and not be allowed to propagate opinions, the bare
mention of which, however reasonable they might appear to Turks, ought
not to be tolerated in any Christian land.



LETTER IV.


                                                                  Venice.

The view of Venice, at some little distance from the town, is mentioned
by many travellers in terms of the highest admiration. I had been so
often forewarned of the amazement with which I should be struck at first
sight of this city, that when I actually did see it, I felt little or no
amazement at all. You will behold, said those anticipators, a magnificent
town,—or more frequently, to make the deeper impression, they gave it
in detail—You will behold, said they, magnificent palaces, churches,
towers and steeples, all standing in the middle of the sea. Well; this,
unquestionably, is an uncommon scene; and there is no manner of doubt
that a town, surrounded by water, is a very fine sight; but all the
travellers that have existed since the days of Cain, will not convince
me, that a town, surrounded by land, is not a much finer. Can there be
any comparison, in point of beauty, between the dull monotony of a watery
surface, and the delightful variety of gardens, meadows, hills, and woods?

If the situation of Venice renders it less agreeable than another city,
to behold at a distance, it must render it, in a much stronger degree,
less agreeable to inhabit. For you will please to recollect, that,
instead of walking or riding in the fields, and enjoying the fragrance of
herbs, and the melody of birds; when you wish to take the air here, you
must submit to be paddled about, from morning to night, in a narrow boat,
along dirty canals; or, if you don’t like this, you have one resource
more, which is, that of walking in St. Mark’s Place.

These are the disadvantages which Venice labours under, with regard to
situation; but it has other peculiarities, which, in the opinion of many,
overbalance them, and render it, on the whole, an agreeable town.

Venice is said to be built in the sea; that is, it is built in the midst
of shallows, which stretch some miles from the shore, at the bottom of
the Adriatic Gulph. Though those shallows, being now all covered with
water, have the appearance of one great lake, yet they are called Lagune,
or lakes, because formerly, as it is imagined, there were several. On
sailing on the Laguna, and looking to the bottom, many large hollows
are to be seen, which, at some former period, have, very possibly, been
distinct lakes, though now, being all covered with a common surface
of water, they form one large lake, of unequal depth. The intervals
between those hollows, it is supposed, were little islands, and are now
shallows, which, at ebb, are all within reach of a pole.

When you approach the city, you come along a liquid road, marked by rows
of stakes on each side, which direct vessels, of a certain burthen, to
avoid the shallows, and keep in deeper water. These shallows are a better
defence to the city than the strongest fortifications. On the approach of
an enemy’s fleet, the Venetians have only to pull up their stakes, and
the enemy can advance no farther. They are equally beyond the insult of
a land army, even in the midst of winter; for the flux and reflux of the
sea, and the mildness of the climate, prevent such a strength of ice as
could admit the approach of an army that way.

The lake in which Venice stands, is a kind of small inner gulph,
separated from the large one by some islands, at a few miles distance.
These islands, in a great measure, break the force of the Adriatic
storms, before they reach the Laguna; yet, in very high winds, the
navigation of the lake is dangerous to gondolas, and sometimes the
gondoleers do not trust themselves, even on the canals within the city.
This is not so great an inconveniency to the inhabitants as you may
imagine; because most of the houses have one door opening upon a canal,
and another communicating with the street; by means of which, and of the
bridges, you can go to almost any part of the town by land, as well as by
water.

The number of inhabitants are computed at about 150,000; the streets, in
general, are narrow; so are the canals, except the grand canal; which is
very broad, and has a serpentine course through the middle of the city.
They tell you, there are several hundred bridges in Venice. What pass
under this name, however, are single arches thrown over the canals; most
of them paltry enough.

The Rialto consists also of a single arch, but a very noble one, and of
marble. It is built across the grand canal, near the middle, where it is
narrowest. This celebrated arch is ninety feet wide on the level of the
canal, and twenty-four feet high. Its beauty is impaired by two rows of
booths, or shops, which are erected upon it, and divide its upper surface
into three narrow streets. The view from the Rialto is equally lively and
magnificent; the objects under your eye are the grand canal, covered with
boats and gondolas, and flanked on each side with magnificent palaces,
churches, and spires; but this fine prospect is almost the only one in
Venice; for, except the Grand Canal, and the Canal Regio, all the others
are narrow and mean; some of them have no keys; the water literally
washes the walls of the houses. When you sail along those wretched
canals, you have no one agreeable object to cheer the sight; and the
smell is overwhelmed with the stench which, at certain seasons, exhales
from the water.



LETTER V.


                                                                  Venice.

As the only agreeable view in Venice is from the grand canal, so the
only place where you can walk with ease and safety, is in the piazza di
St. Marco. This is a kind of irregular quadrangle, formed by a number of
buildings, all singular in their kind, and very different from each other.

The Ducal palace—the church of St. Mark—that of St. Giminiano—a noble
range of buildings, called Procuratie, the new and the old, in which are
the Museum, the public library, and nine large apartments belonging to
the Procurators of St. Mark; all these buildings are of marble.

There is an opening from St. Mark’s Place to the sea, on which stand two
lofty pillars of granite. Criminals condemned to suffer death publicly,
are executed between these pillars; on the top of one of them is a lion,
with wings; and on the other, a saint—without wings;—there is, however,
a large crocodile at his feet, which, I presume, belongs to him. At one
corner of St. Mark’s church, contiguous to the palace, are two statues
of Adam and Eve; they have neither wings nor crocodile, nor any kind of
attendant, not even their old acquaintance, the serpent.

At the corner of the new Procuratie, a little distant from the church,
stands the steeple of St. Mark. This is a quadrangular tower, about
three hundred feet in height. I am told it is not uncommon in Italy for
the church and steeple to be in this state of disunion; this shocked a
clergyman, of my acquaintance, very much; he mentioned it to me, many
years ago, amongst the errors and absurdities of the church of Rome. The
gentleman was clearly of opinion, that church and steeple ought to be
inseparable as man and wife, and that every church ought to consider its
steeple as mortar of its mortar, and stone of its stone. An old captain
of a ship, who was present, declared himself of the same way of thinking,
and swore that a church, divorced from its steeple, appeared to him as
ridiculous as a ship without a mast.

A few paces from the church are three tall poles, on which ensigns
and flags are hung on days of public rejoicing. These standards are
in memory of the three kingdoms, Cyprus, Candia, and Negropont, which
once belonged to this republic; the three crowns are still kept in the
Ducal palace. Since the kingdoms are gone, I should think the crowns
and the poles hardly worth preserving; they are, however, of the same
value to Venice, that the title of King of France is to his Britannic
Majesty. At the bottom of the Tower of St. Mark, is a small neat building
of marble, called the Loggietta, where some of the Procurators of St.
Mark constantly attend to do business. Some people are of opinion that,
particularly when the grand council, or the senate, are assembled, these
Procurators are placed there, as state centinels, to give warning in
case of any appearance of discontent or commotion among the populace,
which must necessarily shew itself at this place, as there is no other in
Venice where a mob could assemble.

The patriarchal church of St. Mark, though one of the richest and most
expensive in the world, does not strike the eye very much at first; the
architecture is of a mixed kind, mostly Gothic, yet many of the pillars
are of the Grecian orders; the outside is incrusted with marble; the
inside, cieling, and floor, are all of the finest marble; the numerous
pillars which support the roof are of the same substance; the whole is
crowned by five domes;—but all this labour and expence have been directed
by a very moderate share of taste.

The front, which looks to the palace, has five brass gates, with
historical bas-relieves; over the principal gate are placed the four
famous bronze horses, said to be the workmanship of Lycippus; they were
given to the emperor Nero, by Tiridates, king of Armenia; the fiery
spirit of their countenances, and their animated attitudes, are perfectly
agreeable to their original destination, of being harnessed to the
chariot of the Sun.—Nero placed them on the triumphal arch consecrated to
him, and they are to be seen on the reverse of some of his medals; they
were removed from Rome to Constantinople, placed in the Hyppodrome by
Constantine, and remained there till the taking of Constantinople by the
French and Venetians in the beginning of the 13th century, when they were
carried to Venice, and placed upon the gate of St. Mark’s church.

The treasury of St. Mark is very rich in jewels and relics; and it was
necessary to apply to one of the Procurators of St. Mark for leave to see
it. I shall only mention a few of the most valuable effects kept here.
Eight pillars from Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem; a piece of the Virgin
Mary’s veil, some of her hair, and a small portion of her milk; the knife
used by our Saviour, at his last supper; one of the nails of the cross,
and a few drops of his blood. After these it would be impertinent to
enumerate the bones, and other relics, of saints and martyrs, of which
there is a plentiful show in this church, and still less need I take up
your time with an inventory of the temporal jewels kept here; it would
be unpardonable, however, to omit mentioning the picture of the Virgin,
by St. Luke. From this, compared with his other works, it is plain, that
St. Luke was a much better evangelist than painter: some professions seem
to be almost incompatible with each other. I have known many very good
painters who would have made bad saints, and here is an instance of an
excellent saint who was but an indifferent painter.

The old Procuratie is built of a kind of black marble; the new is of the
pietra dura of Istria.

The church of St. Geminiano is an elegant piece of architecture, by
Sansovino.

The Ducal palace is an immense building, entirely of marble. Besides
the apartments of the Doge, there are also halls and chambers for the
senate, and all the different councils and tribunals. The principal
entrance is by a spacious stair, called the Giants stair, on account of
two Colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, placed at the top; they are of
white marble, the work of Sansovino, and intended to represent the naval
and military power of this state. Their gigantic size might be proper
enough formerly, but they would be juster emblems of the present force of
this republic if their stature were more moderate.

Under the porticoes, to which you ascend by this stair, you may perceive
the gaping mouths of lions, to receive anonymous letters, informations
of treasonable practices, and accusations of magistrates for abuses in
office.

From the palace there is a covered bridge of communication to a state
prison, on the other side of the canal. Prisoners pass to and from the
courts over this bridge, which is named Ponte Dei Sospiri.

The apartments and halls of the Ducal palace are ornamented by the
pencils of Titian, Paul Veronese, Tintoret, Palma, the Bassans, and other
painters. The rape of Europa, and the storming of Zara, both by Paul
Veronese are amongst the highest esteemed pieces of that master. The foot
of Europa is honoured with the particular admiration of the connoisseurs;
the bull seems to be of their way of thinking, for he licks it as he
bears her along above the waves. Some people admire even this thought
of the painter; I cannot say I am of the number: I think it is the only
thing in the picture which is not admirable; it is making Jupiter enter
a little too much into the character which he had assumed. There are a
few pictures in this palace by Titian, but a great many by the other
masters. The subjects are mostly taken from the history of Venice.

Within the palace there is a little arsenal, which communicates with
the hall of the great council. Here a great number of muskets are kept,
ready charged, with which the nobles may arm themselves on any sudden
insurrection, or other emergency.

The lower gallery, or the piazza under the palace, is called the Broglio.
In this the noble Venetians walk and converse: it is only here, and at
council, where they have opportunities of meeting together; for they
seldom visit openly, or in a family way, at each other’s houses, and
secret meetings would give umbrage to the state inquisitors; they chuse,
therefore, to transact their business on this public walk. People of
inferior rank seldom remain on the Broglio for any length of time when
the nobility are there.



LETTER VI.


                                                                  Venice.

I was led, in my last, into a very particular (and I wish you may not
have also found it a very tedious) description of St. Mark’s Place. There
is no help for what is past, but, for your comfort, you have nothing of
the same kind to fear while we remain here; for there is not another
square, or _place_ as the French with more propriety call them, in all
Venice. To compensate, however, for their being but one, there is a
greater variety of objects to be seen at this one, than in any half dozen
of the squares, or places, of London or Paris.

After our eyes had been dazzled with looking at pictures, and our legs
cramped with sitting in a gondola, it is no small relief, and amusement,
to saunter in the Place of St. Mark.

The number and diversity of objects which _there_ present themselves to
the eye, naturally create a very rapid succession of ideas. The sight of
the churches awakens religious sentiments, and, by an easy transition,
the mind is led to contemplate the influence of superstition. In the
midst of this reverie, Nero’s four horses appear, and carry the fancy to
Rome and Constantinople. While you are forcing your way, sword in hand,
with the heroic Henry Dandelo, into the capital of Asia, Adam and Eve
stop your progress, and lead you to the garden of Eden. You have not long
enjoyed a state of innocence and happiness in that delightful paradise,
till Eve

          ——her rash hand in evil hour
    Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucks, she eats.

After that unfortunate repast, no more comfort being to be found there,
you are glad to mount St. Mark’s winged lion, and fly back to the Ducal
palace, where you will naturally reflect on the rise and progress of
the Venetian state, and the various springs of their government. While
you admire the strength of a constitution which has stood firm for so
many ages, you are appalled at the sight of the lion’s mouth gaping for
accusations; and turning with horror from a place where innocence seems
exposed to the attacks of hidden malice, you are regaled with a prospect
of the sea, which opens your return to a country of _real_ freedom,
where justice rejects the libel of the hidden accuser, and dares to
try, condemn, and execute _openly_, the highest, as well as the lowest,
delinquent.

I assure you I have, more than once, made all this tour, standing in the
middle of St. Mark’s square; whereas, in the French places, you have
nothing before your eyes but monuments of the monarch’s vanity, and the
people’s adulation; and in the greater part of the London squares, and
streets, what idea can present itself to the imagination, beyond that of
the snug neatness and conveniency of substantial brick houses?

I have been speaking hitherto of a morning saunter; for in the evening
there generally is, on St. Mark’s Place, such a mixed multitude of Jews,
Turks, and Christians; lawyers, knaves, and pickpockets; mountebanks, old
women, and physicians; women of quality, with masks; strumpets barefaced;
and, in short, such a jumble of senators, citizens, gondoleers, and
people of every character and condition, that your ideas are broken,
bruised, and dislocated in the crowd, in such a manner, that you can
think, or reflect, on nothing; yet this being a state of mind which
many people are fond of, the place never fails to be well attended,
and, in fine weather, numbers pass a great part of the night there.
When the piazza is illuminated, and the shops, in the adjacent streets,
lighted up, the whole has a brilliant effect; and as it is the custom
for the ladies, as well as the gentlemen, to frequent the cassinos and
coffee-houses around, the Place of St. Mark answers all the purposes of
either Vauxhall or Ranelagh.

It is not in St. Mark’s Place that you are to look for the finest
monuments of the art of Titian, or the genius of Palladio; for those you
must visit the churches and palaces: but if you are inclined to make that
tour, you must find another Cicerone, for I shall certainly not undertake
the office. I do not pretend to be a competent judge of painting or
architecture; I have no new remarks to make on those subjects, and I
wish to avoid a hackneyed repetition of what has been said by others.

Some people seem affected by paintings to a degree which I never could
feel, and can scarcely conceive. I admire the works of Guido and Raphael,
but there are amateurs who fall downright in love with every man, woman,
or angel, produced by those painters.

When the subject is pathetic, I am often struck with the genius and
execution of the artist, and touched with the scene represented, but
without feeling those violent emotions of grief which some others
display. I have seen a man so affected with the grief of Venus, for the
death of Adonis, that he has wiped his eyes as if he had been shedding
tears; and have heard another express as much horror at the martyrdom
of a saint, as he could have done had he been present at the real
execution. Horace’s observation is perfectly just, as he applies it,

    Segniùs irritant animos demissa per aurem,
    Quàm quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus—

He is treating of dramatic pieces;

    Aut agitur res in scenis, aut acta refertur,

is the preceding line. On the stage, what is actually represented, makes
a stronger impression than what is only related; and in real life, no
doubt, we should be more shocked by seeing a murder committed, than by
hearing an account of it. But whether seeing a pathetic story expressed
in painting, or hearing it related, has the most powerful effect, is
a different question. I only say for myself, that, on contemplating a
painted tragedy, I can never help recollecting that it is acted upon
canvas. This never fails to dart such a ray of comfort into my heart,
as cheers it up, in spite of all the blood and carnage I see before
my eyes. With a mind so vulgarly fabricated, you will not be surprised
when I acknowledge, that I have felt more compassion at the sight of a
single highwayman going to Tyburn, than at the massacre of two thousand
innocents, though executed by Nicholas Poussin himself. This convinces me
that I am not endued with the organs of a connoisseur.

But if you are violently bent upon being thought a man of very refined
taste, there are books in abundance to be had, which will put you
in possession of all the terms of technical applause, or censure,
and furnish you with suitable expressions for the whole climax of
sensibility. As for myself, I was long ago taught a lesson, which made a
deep impression on my mind, and will effectually prevent me from every
affectation of that kind. Very early in life, I resided above a year at
Paris, and happened one day to accompany five or six of our countrymen,
to view the pictures in the Palais Royal. A gentleman who affected an
enthusiastic passion for the fine arts; particularly that of painting,
and who had the greater desire to be thought a connoisseur, was of
the party. He had read the lives of the painters, and had the Voyage
Pittoresque de Paris by heart. From the moment we entered the rooms he
began to display all the refinements of his taste; he instructed us what
to admire, and drew us away with every sign of disgust when we stopped a
moment at an uncelebrated picture. We were afraid of appearing pleased
with any thing we saw; till he informed us whether or not it was worth
looking at. He shook his head at some, tossed up his nose at others;
commended a few, and pronounced sentence on every piece, as he passed
along, with the most imposing tone of sagacity.—“Bad, that Caravaggio is
too bad indeed, devoid of all grace;—but here is a Caracci that makes
amends; how charming the grief of that Magdalen! The Virgin, you’ll
observe, gentlemen, is only fainting, but the Christ is quite dead. Look
at the arm, did you ever see any thing so dead?—Aye, here’s a Madona,
which they tell you is an original, by Guido; but any body may see that
it is only a tolerable copy.—Pray, gentlemen, observe this St. Sebastian,
how delightfully he expires: Don’t you all feel the arrow in your hearts?
I’m sure I feel it in mine. Do let us move on; I should die with agony if
I looked any longer.”

We at length came to the St. John, by Raphael, and here this man of taste
stopped short in an extasy of admiration.—One of the company had already
passed it, without minding it, and was looking at another picture; on
which the connoisseur bawled out—“Good God, Sir! what are you about?” The
honest gentleman started, and stared around to know what crime he had
been guilty of.

“Have you eyes in your head, Sir?” continued the connoisseur: “Don’t you
know St. John when you see him?”

“St. John!” replied the other, in amazement. “Aye, Sir, St. John the
Baptist, _in propria persona_.”

“I don’t know what you mean, Sir,” said the gentleman, peevishly.

“Don’t you?” rejoined the connoisseur; “then I’ll endeavour to explain
myself. I mean St. John in the wilderness, by the divine Raffaelle Sanzio
da Urbino, and there he stands by your side.—Pray, my dear Sir, will you
be so obliging as to bestow a little of your attention on that foot? Does
it not start from the wall? Is it not perfectly out of the frame? Did
you ever see such colouring? They talk of Titian; can Titian’s colouring
excel that? What truth, what nature in the head! To the elegance of the
antique, here is joined the simplicity of nature.”

We stood listening in silent admiration, and began to imagine we
perceived all the perfections he enumerated; when a person in the Duke
of Orleans’ service came and informed us, that the original, which he
presumed was the picture we wished to see, was in another room; the Duke
having allowed a painter to copy it. _That_ which we had been looking
at was a very wretched daubing, done from the original by some obscure
painter, and had been thrown, with other rubbish, into a corner; where
the Swiss had accidentally discovered it, and had hung it up merely by
way of covering the vacant space on the wall, till the other should be
replaced.

How the connoisseur looked on this trying occasion, I cannot say. It
would have been barbarous to have turned an eye upon him—I stepped into
the next room, fully determined to be cautious in deciding on the merit
of painting; perceiving that it was not safe, in this science, to speak
even from the book.



LETTER VII.


                                                                  Venice.

We acquire an early partiality for Rome, by reading the classics, and
the history of the ancient republic. Other parts of Italy also interest
us more on account of their having been the residence of the old Romans,
than from the regard we pay to what has been transacted there during the
last fourteen or fifteen centuries.

Venice claims no importance from ancient history, and boasts no
connection with the Roman republic; it sprung from the ruins of that
empire; and whatever its annals offer worthy of the attention of mankind,
is independent of the prejudice we feel in favour of the Roman name.

The independence of Venice was not built on usurpation, nor cemented with
blood; it was founded on the first law of human nature, and the undoubted
rights of man.

About the middle of the fifth century, when Europe formed one continued
scene of violence and bloodshed; a hatred of tyranny, a love of liberty,
and a dread of the cruelty of Barbarians, prompted the Veneti, a people
inhabiting a small district of Italy, a few of the inhabitants of Padua,
and some peasants who lived on the fertile banks of the Po, to seek an
asylum from the fury of Atilla, amongst the little islands and marshes at
the bottom of the Adriatic Gulph.

Before this time some fishermen had built small houses, or huts, on one
of these islands, called Rialto. The city of Padua, with a view to draw
commercial advantages from this establishment, encouraged some of her
inhabitants to settle there, and sent every year three or four citizens
to act as magistrates. When Attila had taken and destroyed Aquileia,
great numbers from all the neighbouring countries fled to Rialto; whose
size being augmented by new houses, took the name of Venice, from the
district from which the greater number of the earliest refugees had
fled. On the death of Attila, many returned to their former habitations;
but those who preferred freedom and security to all other advantages,
remained at Venice. Such was the beginning of this celebrated republic.
Some nice distinguishers pretend, that this was the beginning of their
freedom, but not of their independency; for they assert, that the
Venetians were dependent on Padua, as their mother city. It is certain
that the Paduans claimed such a prerogative over this infant state, and
attempted to subject her to some commercial restrictions; these were
rejected by the Venetians, as arbitrary and vexatious. Disputes arose
very dangerous to both; but they ended in Venice entirely throwing off
the jurisdiction of Padua. It is curious, and not unworthy of serious
attention in the present age, to see the parent now totally subjected to
the child, whom she wished to retain in too rigorous a dependence.

The irruption of the Lombards into Italy, while it spread havoc and
destruction over the adjacent country, was the cause of a great accession
of strength to Venice, by the numbers of new refugees who fled to it with
all the wealth they could carry, and became subjects of this state.

The Lombards themselves, while they established their kingdom in the
northern parts of Italy, and subdued all the ancient district of the
Veneti, thought proper to leave this little state unmolested, imagining
that an attempt against it would be attended with more trouble than
profit; and while they carried on more important conquests, they found
it convenient to be on a good footing with Venice, whose numerous
squadrons of small vessels could render the most essential services to
their armies. Accordingly leagues and treaties were formed occasionally
between the two states; the Lombards in all probability imagining, that
it would be in their power, at any time, to make themselves masters of
this inconsiderable republic. But when that people had fully established
their new kingdom, and were free from the expence of other wars, they
then found Venice so much increased in strength, that, however much they
might have wished to comprehend it within their dominions, it appeared no
longer consistent with sound policy to make the attempt. They therefore
chose rather to confirm their ancient alliance by fresh treaties.

When Charlemagne overturned the kingdom of the Lombards, and, after
having sent their king Didier prisoner to France, was crowned emperor at
Rome, by Leo the Third, the Venetian state cultivated the favour of that
conqueror with so much address, that, instead of attempting any thing
against their independence, he confirmed the treaty they had made with
the Lombards; by which, among other things, the limits, or boundaries,
between the two states, were ascertained.

In the wars with the eastern empire, and in those of later date between
France and the house of Austria, Venice always endeavoured to avoid
the resentment of either of the contending parties; secretly, however,
assisting that which was at the greatest distance from her own dominions,
and, of consequence, the least formidable to her. Those great powers,
on their parts, were so eager to humble, or destroy, each other, that
the rising vigour of Venice was permitted to grow, for ages, almost
unobserved. Like the fame of Marcellus, it might have been said of that
republic,

    Crescit occulto velut arbor ævo.

And when, at length, she began to excite the jealousy of the great states
of Europe, she had acquired strength and revenues sufficient to resist
not only one, but great combinations of those powers leagued for her
destruction.

This republic, in its various periods of increase, of meridian splendor,
and of declension, has already existed for a longer time than any
other of which history makes mention. The Venetians themselves assert,
that this duration is owing to the excellent materials of which their
government has been composed, by which they imagine it has long since
been brought to the highest degree of perfection.

As I have bestowed some time since we came hither in considering the
Venetian history and government, I shall, in my next, take a general view
of those boasted materials, that we may be able to judge whether or not
this high eulogium is well founded.



LETTER VIII.


                                                                  Venice.

The first form of government established at Venice, was purely
democratical. Magistrates were chosen by a general assembly of the
people: they were called tribunes; and as this small community inhabited
several little islands, a tribune was appointed to judge causes, and
distribute justice on each of those islands. His power was continued one
year; at the expiration of which, he was accountable for his conduct to
the general assembly of the people, who annually elected a new set of
tribunes.

This simple form of government, while it marks a strict regard to that
freedom so delightful to the mind of man, was found sufficient, for
the space of a hundred and fifty years, to maintain order in a small
community, situated as this was. At length the bad administration of some
of the tribunes, discord and animosity among others, and some suspicions
that the Lombards promoted civil dissention, with a view to bring the
republic under their dominion, awakened the fears of the people, and made
them listen to the opinions of those who thought a change in the form of
government necessary.

After various debates and proposals, it was finally determined, that a
chief magistrate should be elected, as the centre of public authority,
whose power might give such vigour and efficacy to the laws, as was
absolutely necessary in times of danger, and whose duty should be,
to direct the force of the resources of the state with promptitude;
uncramped by that opposition, and consequent dilatoriness, which had
been too apparent under the tribunes. This magistrate was not to be
named King, but Duke, which has since been corrupted to Doge; the office
was not to be hereditary, but elective; and the Doge was to enjoy it
for life. It was agreed that he should have the nomination of all the
inferior magistrates, and the power of making peace, and declaring war,
without consulting any but such of the citizens as he should think proper.

When the election took place, all the suffrages fell upon Paul Luc
Anafeste, who entered into this new office in the year 697.

The Venetians must certainly have felt great inconveniences from
their former government, or have been under great dread from domestic
or foreign enemies, before they could submit to such a fundamental
change in the nature of their constitution. It is evident, that, on
this occasion, they seem to have lost that jealous attention to liberty
which they formerly possessed; for while they withheld from their chief
magistrate the name, they left him all the power, of a King. There is
no period when real and enlightened patriots ought to watch with more
vigilance over the rights of the people, than in times of danger from
foreign enemies; for the public in general are then so much engrossed by
the dangers from without, that they overlook the encroachments which are
more apt, at those times than any other, to be made on their constitution
from within: and it is of small importance that men defend their country
from foreign foes, unless they retain such a share of internal freedom,
as renders a country worth the defending.

It is highly probable, that the great degree of popularity which their
first Doge had acquired before he arrived at that dignity, and the
great confidence the people had in his public and private virtues,
rendered them unwilling to limit the power of a person who, they were
convinced, would make a good use of it. If the man had been immortal,
and incorruptible, they would have been in the right: however, it must
be confessed, that this Doge justified their good opinion more than
favourites of the people generally do.

In the councils which he called on any matter of importance, he sent
messages to those citizens, for whose judgment he had the greatest
esteem, _praying_, that they would come, and assist him with their
advice. This method was observed afterwards by succeeding Doges, and the
citizens so sent for were called Pregadi. The Doge’s council are still
called Pregadi, though they have long sat independent of his invitation.

The first, and second Doge, governed with moderation and ability; but the
third gave the Venetians reason to repent that they had not confined the
powers of their chief magistrate within narrower limits. After having
served the state by his military talents, he endeavoured to enslave it;
his projects were discovered; but as the improvident people, in the last
arrangement of their constitution, had preserved no legal remedy for such
an evil, they were obliged to use the only means now in their power. They
assaulted the Doge in his palace, and put him to death without farther
ceremony.

The people had conceived so much hatred for him, that, after his death,
they resolved to abolish the office. In the general assembly it was
agreed, that the chief magistrate, for the future, should be elected
every year; that he should have the same power as formerly, while he
remained in office; but, as this was to be for a short time, they
imagined he would behave with equity and moderation; and as they had an
equal dislike to Doge and Tribune, he was called Master of the Militia.

The form of government, introduced by this revolution, was but of short
duration. Factions arose, and became too violent for the transient
authority of the Masters of the Militia to restrain. The office expired
five years after its institution; and, by one of those strange and
unaccountable changes of sentiment, to which the multitude are so
subject, the authority of the Doge was restored in the person of the
son of their last Doge, whom, in a fit of furious discontent, they had
assassinated. This restoration happened about the year 730.

For a long time after this, the Venetian annals display many dreadful
scenes of cruelty, revolt, and assassination; Doges abusing their
power, endeavouring to establish a permanent and hereditary despotism,
by having their eldest sons associated in the office with themselves,
and then oppressing the people with double violence. The people, on the
other hand, after bearing, with the most abject patience, the capricious
cruelty of their tyrants, rising at once, and murdering them, or driving
them, with ignominy, out of their dominions. Unable to bear either
limited or absolute government, the impatient and capricious multitude
wish for things which have always been found incompatible: the secrecy,
promptitude, and efficacy, of a despotic government, with all the freedom
and mildness of a legal and limited constitution.

It is remarkable, that when the Doge was, even in a small degree,
popular, he seldom found any difficulty in getting his son elected his
associate in the sovereign authority; and when that was not the case,
there are many instances of the son being chosen directly on the death of
his father.

Yet, about the middle of the tenth century, the son of the Doge, Peter
Candiano, took arms, and rebelled against his father. Being soon
after defeated, and brought in chains to Venice, he was condemned to
banishment, and declared incapable of being ever elected Doge. It
appears, however, that this worthless person was a great favourite of the
people; for no sooner was his father dead, than he was chosen to succeed
him, and conducted, in great pomp, from Ravenna, the place of his exile,
to Venice.

The Venetians were severely punished for this instance of levity. Their
new Doge shewed himself as tyrannical in the character of a sovereign,
as he had been undutiful in that of a son. He became a monster of pride
and cruelty. The people began to murmur, and he became susceptible of
that terror which usually accompanies tyrants. He established a body of
life-guards, to defend his person, and lodged them within the palace.
This innovation filled the people with indignation, and awakened all
their fury. They attack the palace, are repulsed by the guards, and set
fire to the contiguous houses. The wretched Doge, in danger of being
consumed by the flames, appears at the gate of the palace, with his
infant son in his arms, imploring the compassion of the multitude: they,
inexorable as demons, tear in pieces both father and child. At such an
instance of savage fury, the human affections revolt from the oppressed
people, and take part with their oppressor. We almost wish he had lived,
that he might have swept from the earth a set of wretches more barbarous
than himself.

Having spent their fury in the destruction of the tyrant, they leave the
tyranny as before. No measures are taken to limit the power of the Doge.

For some time after this, a spirit of superstition seemed to lay hold
of those who filled that office, as if they had intended to expiate the
pride of the late tyrant by their own humility. His three immediate
successors, after each of them had reigned a few years with applause,
abandoned their dignity, shut themselves up in convents, and passed the
latter years of their lives as Monks.

Whatever contempt those pious Doges displayed for worldly things, their
example made little impression on their subjects, who, about this time,
began to monopolize the trade and riches of Europe. And some years after,
when all Christendom was seized with the religious phrenzy of recovering
the Holy Land, the Venetians kept so perfectly free from the general
infection, that they did not scruple to supply the Saracens with arms and
ammunition, in spite of the edicts of their Doges, and the remonstrances
of the Pope, and other pious princes.

Those commercial casuists declared, that religion is one thing, and trade
another; that, as children of the church, they were willing to believe
all that their mother required; but, as merchants, they must carry their
goods to the best market.

In my next, I shall proceed with my review of the Venetian government.



LETTER IX.


                                                                  Venice.

The minds of the Venetians were not so totally engrossed by commercial
ideas, as to make them neglect other means of aggrandizing their state.
All Istria submitted itself to their government: many of the free towns
of Dalmatia, harassed by the Narentines, a nation of robbers and pirates
on that coast, did the same. Those towns which refused, were reduced to
obedience, by Peter Urseolo, the Doge of Venice, who had been sent with a
fleet against them, in the year 1000. He carried his arms also into the
country of the Narentines, and destroyed many of their towns.

On his return it was determined, in a general assembly of the people,
that the conquered towns and provinces should be governed by magistrates
sent from Venice. Those magistrates called Podestas, were appointed
by the Doge. The inhabitants of those new-acquired towns were not
admitted to the privileges of citizens of Venice, nor allowed to vote
at the general assembly: the same rule was observed with regard to the
inhabitants of all the dominions afterwards acquired by the republic.
It will readily occur, that this accession of dominions to the state
greatly augmented the influence and power of the chief magistrate: this,
and the practice of associating the son of the Doge with his father,
raised jealousies among the people, and a law was made, abolishing such
associations for the future.

In the year 1173, after the assassination of the Doge Michieli, a far
more important alteration took place in the government. At this time
there was no other tribunal at Venice than that of forty judges. This
court had been established many years before: it took cognizance of all
causes, civil as well as criminal, and was called the council of forty.
This body of men, in the midst of the disorder and confusion which
followed the murder of the Doge, formed a plan of new-modelling the
government.

Hitherto the people had retained great privileges. They had votes in
the assemblies; and, although the descendants of the ancient tribunes,
and of the Doges, formed a kind of nobility, yet they had no legal
privileges, or exclusive jurisdiction; nothing to distinguish them from
their fellow-citizens, but what their riches, or the spontaneous respect
paid to the antiquity of their families, gave them. Any citizen, as well
as they, might be elected to a public office. To acquire the honours of
the state, it was absolutely necessary for the greatest and proudest
Venetian, to cultivate the good-will of the multitude, whose voice
alone could raise him to the rank of Doge, and whose rage had thrown so
many from that envied situation. The inconveniences, the discord, and
confusion, of such a mixed multitude, had been long felt, but nobody had
hitherto had the boldness to strike at this established right of the
people.

The city was divided into six parts, called Sestiers. The council of
forty procured it to be established, in the first place, that each of
those sestiers should annually name two electors; that those twelve
electors should have the right of choosing, from the whole body of the
people, four hundred and seventy counsellors, who should be called the
Grand Council, and who should have the same power, in all respects, which
the general assembly of the people formerly enjoyed.

It was pretended, that this regulation was contrived merely to prevent
confusion, and to establish regularity in the great national assembly;
that the people’s right of election remained as before, and, by changing
the counsellors yearly, those who were not elected one year might retain
hopes of being chosen the next. The people did not perceive that this law
would be fatal to their importance: it proved, however, the foundation of
the aristocracy, which was soon after established, and still subsists.

The forty judges next proposed another regulation, still more delicate
and important. That, to prevent the tumults and disorders which were
expected at the impending election of a Doge, they should (for that time
only) name eleven commissioners, from those of the highest reputation for
judgment and integrity in the state; that the choice of a Doge should be
left to those commissioners, nine suffrages being indispensably requisite
to make the election valid.

This evidently pointed at the exclusion of the people from any concern
whatever in the creation of the chief magistrate, and certainly was the
object in view; yet, as it was proposed only as a temporary expedient, to
prevent disorders, when men’s minds were irritated against each other,
and factions ran high, the regulation was agreed to.

Having, with equal dexterity and success, fixed those restraints on
the power of the people, the council of forty turned their attention,
in the next place, towards limiting the authority of the Doge. This
was considered as too exorbitant, even for good men; and, in the hands
of wicked men, had always been perverted to the purposes of tyranny,
and for which no remedy had hitherto been found, but what was almost
as bad as the evils themselves; revolt on the part of the people, and
all the horrors and excesses with which such an expedient is usually
accompanied. The tribunal of forty therefore proposed, that the grand
council should annually appoint six persons, one from each division of
the city, who should form the privy council of the Doge, and, without
their approbation, none of his orders should be valid; so that, instead
of appointing his own privy-council, which had been the custom hitherto,
the authority of the chief magistrate would, for the future, in a great
measure, depend on six men, who, themselves, depended on the grand
council. To be constantly surrounded by such a set of counsellors,
instead of creatures of his own, however reasonable it may seem in the
eyes of the impartial, would have been considered by one in possession of
the dignity of Doge, as a most intolerable innovation, and probably would
have been opposed by all his influence; but there was no Doge existing
when the proposal was made, and consequently it passed into a law with
universal approbation.

Lastly, it was proposed to form a senate, consisting of sixty members,
which were to be elected, annually, out of the grand council. This
assembly was in the room of that which the Doge formerly had the power
of convocating, on extraordinary occasions, by sending messages, praying
certain citizens to come, and assist him with their advice. The members
of the new senate, more fixed and more independent than those of the old,
are still called the Pregadi. This also was agreed to without opposition;
and immediately after the funeral of the late Doge, all those regulations
took place.

They began by choosing the grand council of four hundred and seventy,
then the senate of sixty, then the six counsellors, and lastly, the
eleven electors. These last were publicly sworn, that in the election
now entrusted to them, rejecting every motive of private interest, they
should give their voices for that person, whose elevation to the dignity
of Doge they believed, in their consciences, would prove most for the
advantage of the State.

After this, they retired to a chamber of the palace, and Orio Malipier,
one of the eleven, had the votes of his ten colleagues; but he, with a
modesty which seems to have been unaffected, declined the office, and
used all his influence with the electors to make choice of Sebastian
Ziani, a man distinguished in the republic on account of his talents, his
wealth, and his virtues; assuring them that, in the present emergency,
_he_ was a more proper person than himself for the office. Such was their
opinion of Malipier’s judgment, that his colleagues adopted his opinion,
and Ziani was unanimously elected.

As this mode of election was quite new, and as there was reason to
imagine that the bulk of the people, on reflection, would not greatly
approve of it, and that the new Doge would not be received with the usual
acclamations, Ziani took care that great quantities of money should be
thrown among the multitude, when he was first presented to them. No Doge
was ever received with louder acclamations.

During the reign of Ziani, the singular ceremony of espousing the sea was
first instituted.

Pope Alexander the Third, to avoid the resentment of the emperor Frederic
Barbarossa, had taken refuge at Venice, and was protected by that State.
The emperor sent a powerful fleet against it, under the command of his
son Otho. Ziani met him with the fleet of Venice. A very obstinate
engagement ensued, in which the Venetians were victorious. The Doge
returned in triumph, with thirty of the enemy’s vessels, in one of
which was their commander Otho. All the inhabitants of Venice rushed to
the sea shore, to meet their victorious Doge: the Pope himself came,
attended by the senate and clergy. After embracing Ziani, his Holiness
presented him with a ring, saying, with a loud voice, “Take this ring;
use it as a chain to retain the sea, henceforth, in subjection to the
Venetian empire; espouse the sea with this ring, and let the marriage be
solemnized annually, by you and your successors, to the end of time, that
the latest posterity may know that Venice has acquired the empire of the
waves, and that the sea is subjected to you, as a wife is to her husband.”

As this speech came from the head of the church, people were not
surprised to find it a little mysterious; and the multitude, without
considering whether it contained much reason or common sense, received
it with the greatest applause. The marriage has been regularly celebrated
every year since that time.

After the death of Ziani, if the terms which had been agreed upon
previous to the election, had been literally adhered to, the grand
council of four hundred and seventy would have proceeded to choose a
Doge, simply by the plurality of votes; but, for some reason which is not
now known, that method was waved, and the following adopted. Four persons
were chosen by the grand council, each of whom had the power of naming
ten; and the whole forty had the appointing of the Doge.

Their choice fell upon the same Orio Malipier, who had declined the
dignity in favour of his friend Ziani.

Under the administration of Malipier, two new forms of magistracy were
created; the first was that of the Avogadors. Their duty is to take care
that the laws in being shall be punctually executed; and while it is
the business of other magistrates to proceed against the transgressors
of the laws, it is theirs to bring a process against those magistrates
who neglect to put them in execution. They decide also on the nature
of accusations, and determine before which of the courts every cause
shall be brought, not leaving it in the power of either of the parties
to carry a cause to a high court, which is competent to be tried by one
less expensive; and no resolution of the grand council, or senate, is
valid, unless, at least, one of the three Avogadors be present during
the deliberation. It is also the duty of the Avogadors to keep the
originals of all the decisions and regulations of the grand council and
senate, and to order them, and all other laws, to be read over, whenever
they think proper, by way of refreshing the memories of the senators.
If the senators are obliged to attend during those lectures, this is a
very formidable power indeed. I am acquainted with senators in another
country, who would sooner give their judges the power of putting them to
death at once, in a less lingering manner.

The second class of magistrates, created at this time, was that called
Judges al Forestieri; there are also three of them. It is their duty to
decide, in all causes between citizens and strangers, and in all disputes
which strangers have with each other. This institution was peculiarly
expedient, at a time when the resort from all countries to Venice was
very great, both on account of commerce, and of the Crusades.

In the year 1192, after a very able administration, Malipier, who was
of a very philosophical turn of mind, abdicated the office of Doge, and
Henry Dandolo was elected in his place.

I am a great deal too much fatigued with the preceding narrative, to
accompany one of his active and enterprising genius at present; and I
have good reason to suspect, that you also have been, for some time past,
inclined to repose.



LETTER X.


                                                                  Venice.

Henry Dandolo had, in his early years, passed, with general approbation,
through many of the subordinate offices of government; and had, a few
years before he was elected to the dignity of Doge, been Ambassador at
the court of Manuel, the Greek emperor at Constantinople. There, on
account of his inflexible integrity, and his refusing to enter into
the views of Manuel, which he thought contrary to the interest of his
country, his eyes were almost entirely put out, by order of that tyrant.
Notwithstanding this impediment, and his great age, being above eighty,
he was now elected to the office of Doge.

At this time, some of the most powerful princes and nobles of France
and Flanders, instigated by the zeal of Innocent the Third, and still
more by their own pious fervour, resolved, in a fourth crusade, to
attempt the recovery of the Holy Land, and the sepulchre of Christ, from
the hands of Infidels; and being, by the fate of others, taught the
difficulties and dangers of transporting armies by land, they resolved
to take their passage from Europe to Asia by sea. On this occasion they
applied to the Venetian State, who not only agreed to furnish ships for
the transportation of the army, but also to join, with an armed fleet, as
principals in the expedition.

The French army arrived soon after in the Venetian State; but so ill had
they calculated, that, when every thing was ready for the embarkation,
part of the sum which they had agreed to pay for the transporting their
troops, was deficient. This occasioned disputes between the French
leaders and the State, which the Doge put an end to, by proposing, that
they should pay in military services what they could not furnish in
money. This was accepted, and the first exploits of the Crusade army
were, the reduction of the town of Zara, and other places in Dalmatia,
which had revolted from the Venetians. It had been previously agreed,
that, after this service, the army should embark immediately for Egypt;
but Dandolo, who had another project more at heart, represented that the
season was too far advanced, and found means to persuade the French army
to winter in Dalmatia.

During this interval, Dandolo, availing himself of some favourable
circumstances, had the dexterity to determine the French Crusaders,
in spite of the interdiction of the Pope, to join with the Venetian
forces, and to carry their arms against the emperor of Constantinople; an
expedition which, Dandolo asserted, would facilitate their original plan
against the Holy Land, and which, he was convinced, would be attended
with far greater advantages to both parties.

The crown of Constantinople was never surrounded with greater dangers,
nor has it ever known more sudden revolutions, than at this period.

Manuel, who had treated Dandolo, while ambassador, with so much
barbarity, had been precipitated from the throne. His immediate successor
had, a short time after, experienced the same fate. Betrayed by his own
brother, his eyes had been put out, and, in that deplorable condition,
he was kept close prisoner by the usurper. The son of this unfortunate
man had escaped from Constantinople, and had arrived at Venice, to
implore the protection of that State: the compassion which his misfortune
naturally excited, had considerable effect in promoting the Doge’s
favourite scheme of leading the French and Venetian forces against
Constantinople. The indefatigable Dandolo went, in person, at the head
of his countrymen. The united army beat the troops of the usurper in
repeated battles, obliged him to fly from Constantinople, placed his
brother on the throne, and restored to him his son Alexis, who had been
obliged to take refuge at Venice, from the cruelty of his uncle, and had
accompanied Dandolo in this successful enterprise.

A misunderstanding soon after ensued between the united armies and
Alexis, now associated with his father on the throne of Constantinople.
The Greeks murmured at the favour which their emperor shewed to those
foreigners, and thought his liberality to them inconsistent with his duty
to his own subjects. The Crusaders, on the other hand, imagined, that all
the wealth of his empire was hardly sufficient to repay the obligations
he owed to them. The young prince, desirous to be just to the one, and
grateful to the other, lost the confidence of both; and, while he strove
to conciliate the minds of two sets of men, whose views and interests
were opposite, he was betrayed by Murtsuphlo, a Greek, who had gained
his confidence, and whom he had raised to the highest dignities of the
empire. This traitor insinuated to the Greeks, that Alexis had agreed
to deliver up Constantinople to be pillaged, that he might satisfy the
avarice and rapacity of those strangers who had restored his family to
the throne. The people fly to arms, the palace is invested, Alexis and
his father are put to death, and Murtsuphlo is declared emperor.

These transactions, though ascertained by the authenticity of history,
seem as rapid as the revolutions of a theatrical representation.

The chiefs of the united army, struck with horror and indignation,
assemble in council. Dandolo, always decisive in the moment of danger,
gives it as his opinion, that they should immediately declare war against
the usurper, and make themselves masters of the empire. This opinion
prevails, and the conquest of the Greek empire is resolved upon.

After several bloody battles, and various assaults, the united armies of
France and Venice enter victorious into Constantinople, and divide the
spoils of that wealthy city.

The Doge, never so much blinded with success as to lose sight of the true
interest of his country, did not think of procuring for the republic,
large dominions on the continent. The Venetians had, for their share, the
islands of the Archipelago, several ports on the coast of the Hellespont,
the Morea, and the entire island of Candia. This was a judicious
partition for Venice, the augmentation of whose strength depended on
commerce, navigation, and the empire of the sea.

Though the star of Dandolo rose in obscurity, and shone with no
extraordinary lustre at its meridian height, yet nothing ever surpassed
the brilliancy of its setting rays.

This extraordinary man died at Constantinople, oppressed with age, but
while the laurels, which adorned his hoary head, were in youthful verdure.

The annals of mankind present nothing more worthy of our admiration.
A man, above the age of eighty, and almost entirely deprived of his
sight, despising the repose necessary for age, and the secure honours
which attended him at home; engaging in a hazardous enterprise, against
a distant and powerful enemy; supporting the fatigues of a military
life with the spirit of youth, and the perseverance of a veteran, in a
superstitious age; and, whilst he led an army of religious enthusiasts,
braving, at once, the indignation of the Pope, the prejudices of bigots,
and all the dangers of war; displaying the ardour of a conqueror, the
judgment of a statesman, and the disinterested spirit of a patriot;
preparing distant events, improving accidental circumstances, managing
the most impetuous characters; and, with admirable address, making all
subservient to the vast plan he had conceived, for the aggrandizing his
native country. Yet this man passed his youth, manhood, and great part of
his old age, unknown. Had he died at seventy, his name would have been
swept, with the common rubbish of courts and capitals, into the gulph of
oblivion. So necessary are occasions, and situations, for bringing into
light the concealed vigour of the greatest characters; and so true it
is, that while we see, at the head of kingdoms, men of the most vulgar
abilities, the periods of whose existence serve only as dates to history,
many whose talents and virtues would have swelled her brightest pages
have died unnoted, from the obscurity of their situations, or the languor
and stupidity of the ages in which they lived.

But the romantic story of Henry Dandolo has seduced me from my original
purpose, which was, to give you an idea of the rise and progress of the
Venetian aristocracy, and which I shall resume in my next.



LETTER XI.


                                                                  Venice.

The senate of Venice, ever jealous of their civil liberty, while they
rejoiced at the vast acquisitions lately made by their fleet and
army, perceived that those new conquests might tend to the ruin of
the constitution, by augmenting the power and influence of the first
magistrate.

In the year 1206, immediately after they were informed of the death of
Dandolo, they created six new magistrates, called Correctors; and this
institution has been renewed at every interregnum which has happened
since.

The duty of those Correctors is, to examine into all abuses which may
have taken place during the reign of the preceding Doge, and report them
to the senate, that they may be remedied, and prevented for the future,
by wholesome laws, before the election of another Doge. At the same time
it was ordained, that the State should be indemnified out of the fortune
of the deceased magistrate, from any detriment it had sustained by his
maladministration, of which the senate were to be the judges. This law
was certainly well calculated to make the Doge very circumspect in his
conduct, and has been the origin of all the future restraints which have
been laid on that very unenviable office.

Men accustomed to the calm and secure enjoyments of private life, are
apt to imagine, that no mortal would be fond of any office on such
conditions; but the senate of Venice, from more extensive views of human
nature, knew that there always was a sufficient number of men, eager to
grasp the sceptre of ambition, in defiance of all the thorns with which
it could be surrounded.

It was not the intention of the Venetian senate to throw the smallest
stain on the character of their late patriotic Doge; nevertheless they
thought the interregnum after his death, the most favourable opportunity
of passing this law; because, when the Inquisition had taken place after
his glorious reign, no Doge could expect that it would ever afterwards be
dispensed with.

The Correctors having been chosen, and the inquisition made, Peter Ziani
was elected Doge. In his reign a court for civil causes, denominated
the Tribunal of Forty, was created. Its name sufficiently explains the
intention of establishing this court, to which there is an appeal from
the decisions of all inferior magistrates in civil causes tried within
the city. It is to be distinguished from the court of Forty, formerly
mentioned, whose jurisdiction was now confined to criminal causes: it
afterwards got the name of _old_ civil council of Forty, to distinguish
it from a third court, consisting also of forty members, which was
established at a subsequent period, to decide, by appeal, in all civil
causes, from the judgments of the inferior courts without the city of
Venice.

Towards the end of his life, about the year 1228, Ziani abdicated his
office. At the election of his successor, the suffrages were equally
divided, between Rainier Dandolo, and James Theipolo. This prolonged the
interregnum for two months; as often as they were balloted, during that
time, each of them had twenty balls. The senate, at last, ordained them
to draw lots, which decided in favour of Theipolo.

During his administration, the Venetian code was, in some degree,
reformed and abridged. One of the greatest inconveniences of freedom,
is the number of laws necessary to protect the life and property of
each citizen; the natural consequences of which are, a multitude of
lawyers, with all the suits and vexations which they create; “les peines,
les déspenses, les longueurs, les dangers mêmes de la justice,” says
Montesquieu, “sont le prix que chaque citoyen donne pour sa liberté.” The
more freedom remains in a State, of the higher importance will the life
and property of each citizen be considered. A despotic government counts
the life of a citizen as of no importance at all.

The Doge Theipolo, who had himself been a lawyer, as many of the
Venetian nobles at that time were, bestowed infinite labour in arranging
and illuminating the vast chaos of laws and regulations in which the
jurisprudence of a republic, so jealous of her liberty, had been
involved. After a long reign, he abdicated the government; and, to
prevent the inconveniency which had happened at his election, the number
of electors, by a new decree of the senate, was augmented to forty-one.

In the reign of his successor, Marino Marsini, two judges, called
Criminal Judges of the Night, were appointed. Their function is to
judge of what are called nocturnal crimes, under which denomination are
reckoned robberies, wilful fire, rapes, and bigamy. We find also, that
Jews lying with Christian women, is enumerated among nocturnal crimes;
though, by an unjustifiable partiality, a Christian man lying with a
Jewish woman, whether by night or day, is not mentioned as any crime at
all.

A few years after, in the reign of the Doge Rainier Zeno, four more
judges were added to this tribunal; and, during the interregnum which
took place at his death, in the year 1268, a new form of electing the
Doge was fixed, which, though somewhat complicated, has been observed
ever since.

All the members of the grand council, who are past thirty years of age,
being assembled in the hall of the palace, as many balls are put into an
urn as there are members present; thirty of these balls are gilt, and the
rest white. Each counsellor draws one; and those who get the gilt balls,
go into another room, where there is an urn, containing thirty balls,
nine of which are gilt. The thirty members draw again; and those who,
by a second piece of good fortune, get the gilt balls, are the _first
electors_, and have a right to choose forty, among whom they comprehend
themselves.

Those forty, by balloting in the same manner as in the former instances,
are reduced to twelve _second electors_, who choose twenty-five, the
first of the twelve naming three, and the remaining eleven two, a-piece.
All those being assembled in a chamber apart, each of them draws a ball
from an urn, containing twenty-five balls, among which are nine gilt.
This reduces them to nine _third electors_, each of whom chooses five,
making in all forty-five; who, as in the preceding instances, are reduced
by ballot, to eleven _fourth electors_, and they have the nomination of
forty-one, who are the _direct electors_ of the Doge. Being shut up by
themselves, they begin by choosing three chiefs, and two secretaries;
each elector, being then called, throws a little billet into an urn,
which stands on a table before the chiefs. On this billet is inscribed
the person’s name whom the elector wishes to be Doge.

The secretaries then, in the presence of the chiefs, and of the whole
assembly, open the billets. Among all the forty-one there are,
generally, but a very few different names, as the election, for the most
part, balances between two or three candidates. Their names, whatever is
the number, are put into another urn, and drawn out one after another.
As soon as a name is extracted, the Secretary reads it, and, if the
person to whom it belongs is present, he immediately retires. One of the
chiefs then demands, with a loud voice, whether any crime can be laid to
this person’s charge, or any objection made to his being raised to the
sovereign dignity? If any objection is made, the accused is called in,
and heard in his own defence; after which the electors proceed to give
their decision, by throwing a ball into one of two boxes, one of which
is for the Ayes, the other for the Noes. The Secretaries then count
the balls, and if there are twenty-five in the first, the election is
finished; if not, another name is read, and the same inquisition made as
before, till there are twenty-five approving balls.

This form, wherein judgment and chance are so perfectly blended,
precludes every attempt to corrupt the electors, and all cabals for the
Ducal dignity; for who could dream, by any labour or contrivance, of
gaining an election, the mode of whose procedure equally baffles the
address of a politician and a juggler?

Lawrence Theipolo was the first Doge chosen according to this mode. In
his reign the office of Grand Chancellor was created.

Hitherto the public acts were signed by certain persons chosen by the
Doge himself, and called Chancellors; but the Grand Council, which we
find always solicitous to limit the power of the Doge, thought _that_
method improper; and now proposed, that a Chancellor should be appointed
by themselves, with rights and privileges entirely independent of the
Doge. At the same time, as the people had shewn symptoms of discontent,
on account of the great offices being all in the distinguished families,
it was thought expedient to ordain, that the Chancellor should always
be taken from among the Secretaries of the senate, who were citizens.
Afterwards, when the council of ten came to be established, it was
ordained, that the Chancellor might be chosen either from the Secretaries
of that court, or from those of the senate.

The Grand Chancellor of Venice is an officer of great dignity and
importance; he has the keeping of the great seal of the Commonwealth, and
is privy to all the secrets of the State; he is considered as the head
of the order of citizens, and his office is the most lucrative in the
republic; yet, though he must be present at all the councils, he has no
deliberative voice.

In perusing the annals of this republic, we continually meet with
proofs of the restless jealousy of this government; even the private
œconomy of families sometimes created suspicion, however blameless the
public conduct of the matter might be. The present Doge had married a
foreign lady; his two sons followed his example; one of their wives
was a princess. This gave umbrage to the senate; they thought that, by
such means, the nobles might acquire an interest, and connexions, in
other countries, inconsistent with their duty as citizens of Venice;
and therefore, in the interregnum which followed the death of Theipolo,
a law was proposed by the Correctors, and immediately passed, by which
all future Doges, and their sons, were interdicted from marriage with
foreigners, under the pain of being excluded from the office of Doge.

Though the people had been gradually, as we have seen, deprived of their
original right of electing the chief magistrate; yet, on the elections
which succeeded the establishment of the new mode, the Doge had always
been presented to the multitude assembled in St. Mark’s Place, as if
requesting their approbation; and the people, flattered with this small
degree of attention, had never failed to announce their satisfaction
by repeated shouts: but the senate seem to have been afraid of leaving
them even this empty shadow of their ancient power; for they ordained,
that, instead of presenting the Doge to the multitude, to receive
their acclamations, as formerly, a Syndic, for the future, should, in
the name of the people, congratulate the new Doge on his election. On
this occasion, the senate do not seem to have acted with their usual
discernment. Show often affects the minds of men more than substance, as
appeared in the present instance; for the Venetian populace displayed
more resentment on being deprived of this noisy piece of form, than when
the substantial right had been taken from them. After the death of the
Doge John Dandolo, before a new election could take place in the usual
forms, a prodigious multitude assembled in St. Mark’s Place, and, with
loud acclamations, proclaimed James Theipolo; declaring, that this was
more binding than any other mode of election, and that he was Doge to
all intents and purposes. While the senate remained in fearful suspense
for the consequences of an event so alarming and unlooked-for, they
were informed, that Theipolo had withdrawn himself from the city, with
a determination to remain concealed, till he heard how the senate and
people would settle the dispute.

The people, having no person of weight to conduct or head them,
renounced, with their usual fickleness, a project which they had begun
with their usual intrepidity.

The Grand Council, freed from alarm, proceeded to a regular election,
and chose Peter Gradonico, a man of enterprise, firmness, and address,
in whose reign we shall see the dying embers of democracy perfectly
extinguished.



LETTER XII.


                                                                  Venice.

Gradonico, from the moment he was in possession of the office of Doge,
formed a scheme of depriving the people of all their remaining power. An
aversion to popular government, and resentment of some signs of personal
dislike, which the populace had shewn at his election, seem to have been
his only motives; for, while he completely annihilated the ancient rights
of the people, he shewed no inclination to augment the power of his own
office.

Although the people had experienced many mortifying deviations from the
old constitution, yet, as the Grand Council was chosen annually, by
electors of their own nomination, they flattered themselves that they
still retained an important share in the government. It was this last
hold of their declining freedom which Gradonico meditated to remove,
for ever, from their hands. Such a project was of a nature to have
intimidated a man of less courage; but his natural intrepidity, animated
by resentment, made him overlook all dangers and difficulties.

He began (as if by way of experiment) with some alterations respecting
the manner of choosing the Grand Council; these, however, occasioned
murmurs; and it was feared, that dangerous tumults would arise at the
next election of that court.

But, superior to fear, Gradonico inspired others with courage; and,
before the period of the election arrived, he struck the decisive blow.

A law was published in the year 1297, by which it was ordained, that
those who actually belonged to the Grand Council, should continue
members of it for life; and that the same right should descend to their
posterity, without any form of election whatever. This was at once
forming a body of hereditary legislative nobility, and establishing a
complete aristocracy, upon the ruins of the ancient popular government.

This measure struck all the citizens, who were not then of the Grand
Council, with concern and astonishment; but, in a particular manner,
those of ancient and noble families; for although, as has been already
observed, there was, strictly speaking, no nobility with exclusive
privileges before this law, yet there were in Venice, as there must be
in the most democratical republics, certain families considered as more
honourable than others, many of whom found themselves, by this law,
thrown into a rank inferior to that of the least considerable person who
happened, at this important period, to be a member of the Grand Council.
To conciliate the minds of such dangerous malcontents, exceptions were
made in their favour, and some of the most powerful were immediately
received into the Grand Council; and to others it was promised that they
should, at some future period, be admitted. By such hopes, artfully
insinuated, and by the great influence of the members who actually
composed the Grand Council, all immediate insurrections were prevented;
and foreign wars, and objects of commerce, soon turned the people’s
attention from this mortifying change in the nature of the government.

A strong resentment of those innovations, however, festered in the
breasts of some individuals, who, a few years after, under the direction
of one Marino Bocconi, formed a design to assassinate Gradonico, and
massacre all the Grand Council, without distinction. This plot was
discovered, and the chiefs, after confessing their crimes, were executed
between the pillars.

The conspiracy of Bocconi was confined to malcontents of the rank of
citizens; but one of a more dangerous nature, and which originated among
the nobles themselves, was formed in the year 1309.

This combination was made up of some of the most distinguished of those
who were not of the Grand Council when the reform took place, and who
had not been admitted afterwards, according to their expectations; and
of some others of very ancient families, who could not bear to see so
many citizens raised to a level with themselves, and who, besides, were
piqued at what they called the Pride of Gradonico. These men chose for
their leader, the son of James Theipolo, who had been proclaimed Doge by
the populace. Their object was, to dispossess Gradonico, and restore the
ancient constitution; they were soon joined by a great many of inferior
rank, within the city, and they engaged considerable numbers of their
friends and dependents from Padua, and the adjacent country, to come to
Venice, and assist them, at the time appointed for the insurrection.
Considering the numbers that were privy to this undertaking, it is
astonishing that it was not discovered till the night preceding that on
which it was to have taken place. The uncommon concourse of strangers
created the first suspicion, which was confirmed by the confession of
some who were acquainted with the design. The Doge immediately summoned
the council, and sent expresses to the governors of the neighbouring
towns and forts, with orders for them to hasten with their forces to
Venice. The conspirators were not disconcerted; they assembled, and
attacked the Doge and his friends, who were collected in a body around
the palace. The Place of St. Mark was the scene of this tumultuous
battle, which lasted many hours, but was attended with more noise and
terror among the inhabitants, than bloodshed to the combatants. Some of
the military governors arriving with troops, the contest ended in the
rout of the conspirators. A few nobles had been killed in the engagement;
a greater number were executed by order of the senate. Theipolo, who had
fled, was declared infamous, and an enemy to his country; his goods and
fortune were confiscated, and his house razed to the ground. After these
executions, it was thought expedient, to receive into the Grand Council,
several of the most distinguished families of citizens.

Those two conspiracies having immediately followed one another, spread
an universal diffidence and dread over the city, and gave rise to the
court called the Council of Ten, which was erected about this time,
merely as a temporary Tribunal, to examine into the causes, punish the
accomplices, and destroy the seeds of the late conspiracy; but which, in
the sequel, became permanent. I shall wave farther mention of this court,
till we come to the period when the State Inquisitors were established;
but it is proper to mention, that the Ecclesiastical Court of Inquisition
was also erected at Venice, in the reign of the Doge Gradonico.

The Popes had long endeavoured to introduce this court into every country
in Europe; they succeeded too well in many; but though it was not
entirely rejected by the State of Venice, yet it was accepted under such
restrictions as have prevented the dismal cruelties which accompany it in
other countries.

This republic seems, at all times, to have a strong impression of the
ambitious and encroaching spirit of the court of Rome; and has, on all
occasions, shewn the greatest unwillingness to entrust power in the
hands of ecclesiastics. Of this, the Venetians gave an undoubted proof
at present; for while they established a new civil Court of Inquisition,
with the most unlimited powers, they would not receive the ecclesiastical
inquisitions, except on conditions to which it had not been subjected in
any other country.

The court of Rome never displayed more address than in its attempts
to elude those limitations, and to prevail on the senate to admit the
inquisition at Venice, on the same footing as it had been received
elsewhere; but the senate was as firm as the Pope was artful, and the
Court of Inquisition was at last established, under the following
conditions:

That three commissioners from the Senate should attend the deliberations
of that court, none of whose decrees could be executed without the
approbation of the commissioners.

Those commissioners were to take no oath of fidelity, or engagement of
any kind, to the Inquisition; but were bound by oath to conceal nothing
from the senate which should pass in the Holy Office.

That heresy should be the only crime cognisable by the Inquisition; and,
in case of the conviction and condemnation of any criminal, his goods and
money should not belong to the court, but to his natural heirs.

That Jews and Greeks should be indulged in the exercise of their
religion, without being disturbed by this court.

The commissioners were to prevent the registration of any statute made at
Rome; or any where out of the Venetian State.

The Inquisitors were not permitted to condemn books as heretical, without
the concurrence of the Senate; nor were they allowed to judge any to be
so, but those already condemned by the edict of Clement VIII.

Such were the restrictions under which the Inquisition was established
at Venice; and nothing can more clearly prove their efficacy, than a
comparison of their numbers, who have suffered for heresy here, with
those who have been condemned to death by that court in every other place
where it was established.

An instance is recorded of a man, named Narino, being condemned to a
public punishment, for having composed a book in defence of the opinions
of John Huss. For this (the greatest of all crimes in the sight of
Inquisitors) his sentence was, that he should be exposed publicly on a
scaffold, dressed in a gown, with flames and devils painted on it. The
moderation of the civil magistrate appears in this sentence. Without
his interposition, the flames which surrounded the prisoner would, in
all probability, not have been _painted_. This, which is mentioned in
the History of Venice as an instance of severity, happened at a time,
when, in Spain and Portugal, many wretches were burnt, by order of the
Inquisition, for smaller offences.

In 1354, during the interregnum after the death of Andrew Dandolo, it was
proposed, by the Correctors of Abuses, that, for the future, the three
chiefs of the Criminal Council of Forty should be members of the College;
and this passed into a law.

It may be necessary to mention, that the College, otherwise called the
Seigniory, is the supreme cabinet council of the State. This court was
originally composed of the Doge and six counsellors only; but to these,
at different periods, were added; first, six of the Grand Council, chosen
by the Senate; they were called Savii, or Sages, from their supposed
wisdom; and afterwards, five Savii, of the Terra Firma, whose more
immediate duty is to superintend the business of the towns and provinces
belonging to the republic, on the continent of Europe, particularly what
regards the troops. At one time there were also five Savii for maritime
affairs, but they had little business after the Venetian navy became
inconsiderable; and now, in the room of them, five young noblemen are
chosen by the Senate every six months, who attend the meetings of the
Seigniory, without having a vote, though they give their opinions when
asked. This is by way of instructing, and rendering them fit for the
affairs of State. They are called Sages of the Orders, and are chosen
every six months.

To those were added, the three chiefs of the Criminal Court of Forty; the
court then consisting, in all, of twenty-six members.

The College is, at once, the cabinet council, and the representative of
the republic. This court gives audience, and delivers answers, in the
name of the republic, to foreign Ambassadors, to the deputies of towns
and provinces, and to the generals of the army; it also receives all
requests and memorials on State affairs, summons the Senate at pleasure,
and arranges the business to be discussed in that assembly.

In the Venetian government, great care is taken to balance the power of
one court by that of another, and to make them reciprocal checks on each
other. It was probably from a jealousy of the power of the College, that
three chiefs of the Criminal Court of Forty were now added to it.



LETTER XIII.


                                                                  Venice.

The history of no nation presents a greater variety of singular events
than that of Venice. We have seen a conspiracy against this State,
originating among the citizens, and carried on by people of that rank
only. We saw another, soon after, which took its origin among the body
of the nobles; but the year 1355 presents us with one of a still more
extraordinary nature, begun, and carried on, by the Doge himself. If
ambition, or the augmentation of his own power, had been the object, it
would not have been so surprising; but his motive to the conspiracy was
as small as the intention was dreadful.

Marino Falliero, Doge of Venice, was, at this time, eighty years of age;
a time of life when the violence of the passions is generally pretty
much abated. He had, even then, however, given a strong instance of the
rashness of his disposition, by marrying a very young woman. This lady
imagined she had been affronted by a young Venetian nobleman at a public
ball, and she complained bitterly of the insult to her husband. The old
Doge, who had all the desire imaginable to please his wife, determined,
in this matter at least, to give her ample satisfaction.

The delinquent was brought before the Judges, and the crime was
exaggerated with all the eloquence that money could purchase; but they
viewed the affair with unprejudiced eyes, and pronounced a sentence
no more than adequate to the crime. The Doge was filled with the most
extravagant rage, and, finding that the body of the nobles took no
share in his wrath, he entered into a conspiracy with the Admiral of
the Arsenal, and some others, who were discontented with the government
on other accounts, and projected a method of vindicating his wife’s
honour, which seems rather violent for the occasion. It was resolved by
those desperadoes, to massacre the whole Grand Council. Such a scene
of bloodshed, on account of one woman, has not been imagined since the
Trojan war.

This plot was conducted with more secrecy than could have been expected,
from a man who seems to have been deprived of reason, as well as
humanity. Every thing was prepared; and the day, previous to that which
was fixed for the execution, had arrived, without any person, but those
concerned in the conspiracy, having the least knowledge of the horrid
design.

It was discovered in the same manner in which that against the King and
Parliament of England, was brought to light in the time of James the
First.

Bertrand Bergamese, one of the conspirators, being desirous to save
Nicolas Lioni, a noble Venetian, from the general massacre, called on
him, and earnestly admonished him, on no account, to go out of his house
the following day; for, if he did, he would certainly lose his life.
Lioni pressed him to give some reason for this extraordinary advice;
which the other obstinately refusing, Lioni ordered him to be seized, and
confined, and, sending for some of his friends of the Senate, by means
of promises and threats, they at length prevailed on the prisoner to
discover the whole of this horrid mystery.

They send for the Avogadors, the Council of Ten, and other high officers,
by whom the prisoner was examined; after which, orders were given for
seizing the principal conspirators in their houses, and for summoning
those of the nobility and citizens, on whose fidelity the Council could
rely. These measures could not be taken so secretly as not to alarm
many, who found means to make their escape. A considerable number were
arrested, among whom were two chiefs of the conspiracy under the Doge.
They being put to the question, confessed the whole. It appeared, that
only a select body of the principal men had been privy to the real
design; great numbers had been desired to be prepared with arms, at a
particular hour, when they would be employed in attacking certain enemies
of the State, which were not named; they were desired to keep those
orders a perfect secret, and were told, that upon their fidelity and
secrecy their future fortunes depended. Those men did not know of each
other, and had no suspicion that it was not a lawful enterprise for
which they were thus engaged; they were therefore set at liberty; but all
the chiefs of the plot gave the fullest evidence against the Doge. It
was proved, that the whole scheme had been formed by his direction, and
supported by his influence. After the principal conspirators were tried,
and executed, the Council of Ten next proceeded to the trial of the Doge
himself. They desired that twenty senators, of the highest reputation,
might assist upon this solemn occasion; and that two relations of the
Fallier family, one of whom was a member of the Council of Ten, and the
other an Avogador, might withdraw from the court.

The Doge, who hitherto had remained under a guard in his own apartments
in the palace, was now brought before this Tribunal of his own subjects.
He was dressed in the robes of his office.

It is thought he intended to have denied the charge, and attempted a
defence; but when he perceived the number and nature of the proofs
against him, overwhelmed by their force, he acknowledged his guilt, with
many fruitless and abject intreaties for mercy.

That a man, of eighty years of age, should lose all firmness on such
an occasion, is not marvellous; that he should have been incited, by
a trifling offence, to such an inhuman, and such a deliberate plan of
wickedness, is without example.

He was sentenced to lose his head. The sentence was executed in the place
where the Doges are usually crowned.

In the Great Chamber of the palace, where the portraits of the Doges
are placed, there is a vacant space between the portraits of Fallier’s
immediate predecessor and successor, with this inscription:

    Locus Marini Fallieri decapitati.

The only other instance which history presents to our contemplation, of
a sovereign tried according to the forms of law, and condemned to death
by a Tribunal of his own subjects, is that of Charles the First, of Great
Britain. But how differently are we affected by a review of the two cases!

In the one, the original errors of the misguided Prince are forgotten in
the severity of his fate, and in the calm majestic firmness with which he
bore it. Those who, from public spirit, had opposed the unconstitutional
measures of his government, were no more; and the men now in power were
actuated by far different principles. All the passions of humanity,
therefore, take part with the royal sufferer; nothing but the ungenerous
spirit of party can seduce them to the side of his enemies. In his trial
we behold, with a mixture of pity and indignation, the unhappy monarch
delivered up to the malice of hypocrites, the rage of fanatics, and the
insolence of a low-born law ruffian.

In the other, every sentiment of compassion is effaced by horror, at the
enormity of the crime.

In the year 1361, after the death of the Doge John Delfino, when the last
electors were confined in the Ducal Chamber to choose his successor, and
while the election vibrated between three candidates, a report arrived
at Venice, that Laurentius Celsus, who commanded the fleet, had obtained
a complete victory over the Genoese, who were at that time at war with
the Venetians. This intelligence was communicated to the electors, who
immediately dropped all the three candidates, and unanimously chose this
commander. Soon after, it was found, that the rumour of the victory was
entirely groundless. This could not affect the validity of the election;
but it produced a decree to prevent, on future occasions of the same
kind, all communication between the people without, and the conclave of
electors.

This Doge’s father displayed a singular instance of weakness and vanity,
which some of the historians have thought worth transmitting to us. I
do not know for what reason, unless it be to comfort posterity with the
reflection, that human folly is much the same in all ages, and that
their ancestors have not been a great deal wiser than themselves. This
old gentleman thought it beneath the dignity of a father to pull off his
cap to his own son; and that he might not seem to condescend so far,
even when all the other nobles shewed this mark of respect to their
sovereign, he went, from the moment of his son’s election, upon all
occasions, and in all weathers, with his head uncovered. The Doge being
solicitous for his father’s health, and finding that no persuasion,
nor explanation of the matter, that could be given, were sufficient to
overcome this obstinacy, recollected that he was as devout as he was
vain, which suggested an expedient that had the desired effect. He placed
a cross on the front of his ducal coronet. The old man was as desirous to
testify his respect to the cross, as he was averse to pay obeisance to
his son; and unable to devise any way of pulling off a cap which he never
wore, his piety, at length, got the better of his pride; he resumed his
cap, as formerly, that, as often as his son appeared, he might pull it
off in honour of the cross.

During the reign of Laurentius Celsus, the celebrated poet Petrarch, who
resided for some time at Venice, and was pleased with the manners of
the people, and the wisdom of their government, made a present to the
republic, of his collection of books; which, at that time, was reckoned
very valuable. This was the foundation of the great library of St. Mark.

In perusing the annals of Venice, we continually meet with new
institutions. No sooner is any inconveniency perceived, than measures are
taken to remove it, or guard against its effects. About this time, three
new magistrates were appointed, whose duty is to prevent all ostentatious
luxuries in dress, equipage, and other expensive superfluities, and to
prosecute those who transgress the sumptuary laws, which comprehend such
objects. Those magistrates are called Sopra Proveditori alle Pompé;
they were allowed a discretionary power of levying fines, from people
of certain professions; who deal entirely in articles of luxury. Of
this number, that of public courtesans was reckoned. This profession,
according to all accounts, formerly flourished at Venice, with a
degree of splendour unknown in any other capital of Europe; and very
considerable exactions were raised to the use of the State, at particular
times, from the wealthiest of those dealers. This excise, it would
appear, has been pushed beyond what the trade could bear; for it is at
present in a state of wretchedness and decay; the best of the business,
as is said, being now carried on, for mere pleasure, by people who do not
avow themselves of the profession.



LETTER XIV.


                                                                  Venice.

No government was ever more punctual, and impartial, than that of
Venice, in the execution of the laws. This was thought essential to the
well-being, and very existence, of the State. For this, all respect for
individuals, all private considerations whatever, and every compunctious
feeling of the heart, is sacrificed. To execute law with all the rigour
of justice, is considered as the chief virtue of a judge; and, as there
are cases in which the sternest may relent, the Venetian government has
taken care to appoint certain magistrates, whose sole business is to see
that others perform their duty upon all occasions.

All this is very fine in the abstract, but we often find it detestable in
the application.

In the year 1400, while Antonio Venier was Doge, his son having committed
an offence which evidently sprung from mere youthful levity, and
nothing worse, was condemned in a fine of one hundred ducats, and to be
imprisoned for a certain time.

While the young man was in prison, he fell sick, and petitioned to be
removed to a purer air. The Doge rejected the petition; declaring, that
the sentence must be executed literally; and that his son must take the
fortune of others in the same predicament. The youth was much beloved,
and many applications were made, that the sentence might be softened, on
account of the danger which threatened him. The father was inexorable,
and the son died in prison. Of whatever refined substance this man’s
heart may have been composed, I am better pleased that mine is made of
the common materials.

Carlo Zeno was accused, by the Council of Ten, of having received a sum
of money from Francis Carraro, son of the Seignior of Padua, contrary
to an express law, which forbids all subjects of Venice, on any pretext
whatever, accepting any salary, pension, or gratification, from a foreign
Prince, or State. This accusation was grounded on a paper found among
Carraro’s accounts, when Padua was taken by the Venetians. In this paper
was an article of four hundred ducats paid to Carlo Zeno, who declared,
in his defence, that while he was, by the Senate’s permission, governor
of the Milanese, he had visited Carraro, then a prisoner in the castle of
Asti; and finding him in want of common necessaries, he had advanced to
him the sum in question; and that this Prince, having been liberated some
short time after, had, on his return to Padua, repaid the money.

Zeno was a man of acknowledged candour, and of the highest reputation; he
had commanded the fleets and armies of the State with the most brilliant
success; yet neither this, nor any other considerations, prevailed on
the Court to depart from their usually severity. They owned that, from
Zeno’s usual integrity, there was no reason to doubt the truth of his
declaration; but the assertions of an accused person were not sufficient
to efface the force of the presumptive circumstances which appeared
against him.—His declaration might be convincing to those who knew him
intimately, but was not legal evidence of his innocence; and they adhered
to a distinguishing maxim of this Court, that it is of more importance
to the State, to intimidate every one from even the appearance of such
a crime, than to allow a person, against whom a presumption of guilt
remained, to escape, however innocent he might be. This man, who had
rendered the most essential services to the republic, and had gained many
victories, was condemned to be removed from all his offices, and to be
imprisoned for two years.

But the most affecting instance of the odious inflexibility of Venetian
courts, appears in the case of Foscari, son to the Doge of that name.

This young man had, by some imprudences, given offence to the Senate,
and was, by their orders, confined at Treviso, when Almor Donato, one of
the Council of Ten, was assassinated, on the 5th of November 1750, as he
entered his own house.

A reward, in ready money, with pardon for this, or any other crime, and
a pension of two hundred ducats, revertible to children, was promised to
any person who would discover the planner, or perpetrator, of this crime.
No such discovery was made.

One of young Foscari’s footmen, named Olivier, had been observed
loitering near Donato’s house on the evening of the murder;—he fled from
Venice next morning. These, with other circumstances of less importance,
created a strong suspicion that Foscari had engaged this man to commit
the murder.

Olivier was taken, brought to Venice, put to the torture, and confessed
nothing; yet the Council of Ten, being prepossessed with an opinion of
their guilt, and imagining that the master would have less resolution,
used him in the same cruel manner.—The unhappy young man, in the
midst of his agony, continued to assert, that he knew nothing of the
assassination. This convinced the Court of his firmness, but not of his
innocence; yet as there was no legal proof of his guilt, they could not
sentence him to death. He was condemned to pass the rest of his life in
banishment, at Canéa, in the island of Candia.

This unfortunate youth bore his exile with more impatience than he had
done the rack; he often wrote to his relations and friends, praying them
to intercede in his behalf, that the term of his banishment might be
abridged, and that he might be permitted to return to his family before
he died.—All his applications were fruitless; those to whom he addressed
himself had never interfered in his favour, for fear of giving offence to
the obdurate Council, or had interfered in vain.

After languishing five years in exile, having lost all hope of return,
through the interposition of his own family, or countrymen, in a fit of
despair he addressed the Duke of Milan, putting him in mind of services
which the Doge, his father, had rendered him, and begging that he would
use his powerful influence with the State of Venice, that his sentence
might be recalled. He entrusted his letter to a merchant, going from
Canéa to Venice, who promised to take the first opportunity of sending
it from thence to the Duke; instead of which, this wretch, as soon as he
arrived at Venice, delivered it to the chiefs of the Council of Ten.

This conduct of young Foscari appeared criminal in the eyes of those
judges; for, by the laws of the republic, all its subjects are expressly
forbid claiming the protection of foreign Princes, in any thing which
relates to the government of Venice.

Foscari was therefore ordered to be brought from Candia, and shut up in
the State prison. There the chiefs of the Council of Ten ordered him
once more to be put to the torture, to draw from him the motives which
determined him to apply to the Duke of Milan. Such an exertion of law is,
indeed, the most flagrant injustice.

The miserable youth declared to the Council, that he had wrote the
letter, in the full persuasion that the merchant, whose character he
knew, would betray him, and deliver it to them; the consequence of which,
he foresaw, would be, his being ordered back a prisoner to Venice, the
only means he had in his power of seeing his parents and friends; a
pleasure for which he had languished, with unsurmountable desire, for
some time, and which he was willing to purchase at the expence of any
danger or pain.

The Judges, little affected with this generous instance of filial
piety, ordained, that the unhappy young man should be carried back to
Candia, and there be imprisoned for a year, and remain banished to that
island for life; with this condition, that if he should make any more
applications to foreign Powers, his imprisonment should be perpetual. At
the same time they gave permission, that the Doge and his lady, might
visit their unfortunate son.

The Doge was, at this time, very old; he had been in possession of the
office above thirty years. Those wretched parents had an interview with
their son in one of the apartments of the palace; they embraced him with
all the tenderness which his misfortunes, and his filial affection,
deserved. The father exhorted him to bear his hard fate with firmness;
the son protested, in the most moving terms, that this was not in his
power; that however others could support the dismal loneliness of a
prison, he could not; that his heart was formed for friendship, and
the reciprocal endearments of social life; without which his soul sunk
into dejection worse than death, from which alone he should look for
relief, if he should again be confined to the horrors of a prison; and
melting into tears, he sunk at his father’s feet, imploring him to
take compassion on a son who had ever loved him with the most dutiful
affection, and who was perfectly innocent of the crime of which he was
accused; he conjured him, by every bond of nature and religion, by the
bowels of a father, and the mercy of a Redeemer, to use his influence
with the Council to mitigate their sentence, that he might be saved from
the most cruel of all deaths, that of expiring under the slow tortures
of a broken heart, in a horrible banishment from every creature he
loved.—“My son,” replied the Doge, “submit to the laws of your country,
and do not ask of me what it is not in my power to obtain.”

Having made this effort, he retired to another apartment; and, unable to
support any longer the acuteness of his feelings, he sunk into a state of
insensibility, in which condition he remained till some time after his
son had sailed on his return to Candia.

Nobody has presumed to describe the anguish of the wretched mother;
those who are endowed with the most exquisite sensibility, and who have
experienced distresses in some degree similar, will have the justest idea
of what it was.

The accumulated misery of those unhappy parents touched the hearts of
some of the most powerful senators, who applied with so much energy for
a complete pardon for young Foscari, that they were on the point of
obtaining it; when a vessel arrived from Candia, with tidings, that the
miserable youth had expired in prison a short time after his return.

Some years after this, Nicholas Erizzo, a noble Venetian, being on his
death-bed, confessed that, bearing a violent resentment against the
Senator Donato, he had committed the assassination for which the unhappy
family of Foscari had suffered so much.

At this time the sorrows of the Doge were at an end; he had existed only
a few months after the death of his son. His life had been prolonged,
till he beheld his son persecuted to death for an infamous crime; but
not till he should see this foul stain washed from his family, and the
innocence of his beloved son made manifest to the world.

The ways of heaven never appeared more dark and intricate, than in the
incidents and catastrophe of this mournful story. To reconcile the
permission of such events, to our ideas of infinite power and goodness,
however difficult, is a natural attempt in the human mind, and has
exercised the ingenuity of philosophers in all ages; while, in the eyes
of Christians, those seeming perplexities afford an additional proof,
that there will be a future state, in which the ways of God to man will
be fully justified.



LETTER XV.


                                                                  Venice.

I deferred giving you any account of the Council of Ten, till I came to
mention the State Inquisitors, as the last was ingrafted on the former,
and was merely intended to strengthen the hands, and augment the power,
of that court.

The Council of Ten consists, in effect, of seventeen members; for,
besides the ten noblemen chosen annually by the Grand Council, from
whose number this court receives its name, the Doge presides, and the
six Counsellors of the Seigniory assist, when they think proper, at all
deliberations.

This court was first instituted in the year 1310, immediately after
Theipolo’s conspiracy.

It is supreme in all State crimes. It is the duty of three chiefs, chosen
every month from this court, by lot, to open all letters addressed to it;
to report the contents, and assemble the members, when they think proper.
They have the power of seizing accused persons, examining them in prison,
and taking their answers in writing, with the evidence against them;
which being laid before the court, those chiefs appear as prosecutors.

The prisoners, all this time, are kept in close confinement, deprived
of the company of relations and friends, and not allowed to receive any
advice by letters. They can have no counsel to assist them, unless one of
the Judges chooses to assume that office; in which case he is permitted
to manage their defence, and plead their cause; after which the Court
decide, by a majority of votes, acquitting the prisoner, or condemning
him to private or public execution, as they think proper; and if any
persons murmur at the fate of their relations or friends, and talk of
their innocence, and the injustice they have met with, these malcontents
are in great danger of meeting with the same fate.

I am convinced you will think, that such a court was sufficiently
powerful to answer every good purpose of government. This, it would
appear, was not the opinion of the Grand Council of Venice; who thought
proper, in the year 1501, to create the Tribunal of State Inquisitors,
which is still more despotic and brief in its manner of proceeding.

This court consists of three members, all taken from the Council of Ten;
two literally from the Ten, and the third from the Counsellors of the
Seigniory, who also make a part of that Council.

These three persons have the power of deciding, without appeal, on the
lives of every citizen belonging to the Venetian State; the highest
of the nobility, even the Doge himself, not being excepted. They keep
the keys of the boxes into which anonymous informations are thrown.
The informers who expect a recompence, cut off a little piece of their
letter, which they afterwards shew to the Inquisitor when they claim
a reward. To those three Inquisitors is given, the right of employing
spies, considering secret intelligence, issuing orders to seize all
persons whose words or actions they think reprehensible, and afterwards
trying them when they think proper. If all the three are of one opinion,
no farther ceremony is necessary; they may order the prisoner to be
strangled in prison, drowned in the Canal Orfano, hanged privately in
the night-time, between the pillars, or executed publicly, as they
please; and whatever their decision be, no farther inquisition can be
made on the subject; but if any one of the three differs in opinion from
his brethren, the cause must be carried before the full assembly of the
Council of Ten. One would naturally imagine, that by those the prisoner
would have a good chance of being acquitted; because the difference in
opinion of the three Inquisitors shews, that the case is, at least,
dubious; and in dubious cases one would expect the leaning would be to
the favourable side; but this court is governed by different maxims from
those you are acquainted with. It is a rule here to admit of smaller
presumptions in all crimes which affect the Government, than in other
cases; and the only difference they make between a crime fully proved,
and one more doubtful, is, that, in the first case, the execution is in
broad daylight; whereas, when there are doubts of the prisoner’s guilt,
he is only put to death privately. The State Inquisitors have keys to
every apartment of the Ducal palace, and can, when they think proper,
penetrate into the very bed-chamber of the Doge, open his cabinet, and
examine his papers. Of course they may command access to the house of
every individual in the State. They continue in office only one year,
but are not responsible afterwards for their conduct while they were in
authority.

Can you think you would be perfectly composed, and easy in your mind,
if you lived in the same city with three persons, who had the power of
shutting you up in a dungeon, and putting you to death when they pleased,
and without being accountable for so doing?

If, from the characters of the Inquisitors of one year, a man had nothing
to dread, still he might fear that a set, of a different character,
might be in authority the next; and although he were persuaded, that
the Inquisitors would always be chosen from among men of the most known
integrity in the State, he might tremble at the malice of informers, and
secret enemies; a combination of whom might impose on the understandings
of upright Judges, especially where the accused is excluded from his
friends, and denied counsel to assist him in his defence; for, let him
be never so conscious of innocence, he cannot be sure of remaining
unsuspected, or unaccused; nor can he be certain, that he shall not
be put to the rack, to supply a deficiency of evidence: and finally,
although a man were naturally possessed of so much firmness of character
as to feel no inquietude from any of those considerations on his own
account, he might still be under apprehensions for his children,
and other connexions, for whom some men feel more anxiety than for
themselves.

Such reflections naturally arise in the minds of those who have been
born, and accustomed to live, in a free country, where no such despotic
Tribunal is established; yet we find people apparently easy in the
midst of all those dangers; nay, we know that mankind shew the same
indifference in cities, where the Emperor, or the Bashaw, amuses himself,
from time to time, in cutting off the heads of those he happens to meet
with in his walks; and I make no doubt, that if it were usual for the
earth to open, and swallow a proportion of its inhabitants every day,
mankind would behold this with as much coolness as at present they read
the bills of mortality. Such is the effect of habit on the human mind,
and so wonderfully does it accommodate itself to those evils for which
there is no remedy.

But these confederations do not account for the Venetian nobles suffering
such Tribunals as those of the Council of Ten, or the State Inquisitors,
to exist, because these are evils which it unquestionably is in their
power to remedy; and attempts have been made, at various times, by
parties of the nobility, to remove them entirely, but without success;
the majority of the Grand Council having, upon trial, been found for
preserving these institutions.

It is believed to be owing to the attention of these courts, that the
Venetian republic has lasted longer than any other; but, in my opinion,
the chief object of a government should be, to render the people happy;
and if it fails in that, the longer it lasts, so much the worse. If they
are rendered miserable by that which is supposed to preserve the State,
they cannot be losers by removing it, be the consequence what it may;
and I fancy most people would rather live in a convenient, comfortable
house, which could stand only a few centuries, than in a gloomy gothic
fabric, which would last to the day of judgment. These despotic courts,
the State Inquisitors, and Council of Ten, have had their admirers, not
only among the Venetian nobility, but among foreigners; even among such
as have, on other occasions, professed principles very unfavourable to
arbitrary power.

I find the following passage in a letter of Bishop Burnet, relating to
Venice:

“But this leads me to say a little to you of that part of the
constitution, which is so censured by strangers, but is really both the
greatest glory, and the chief security, of this republic; which is, the
unlimited power of the Inquisitors, that extends not only to the chief of
the nobility, but to the Duke himself; who is so subject to them, that
they may not only give him severe reprimands, but search his papers,
make his process, and, in conclusion, put him to death, without being
bound to give any account of their proceedings, except to the Council
of Ten. This is the dread, not only of all the subjects, but of the
whole nobility, and all that bear office in the republic, and makes the
greatest amongst them tremble, and so obliges them to an exact conduct.”

Now, for my part, I cannot help thinking, that a Tribunal which keeps
the Doge, the nobility, and _all_ the subjects, in dread, and makes the
greatest among them tremble, can be no great blessing in any State. To
be in continual fear, is certainly a very unhappy situation; and if the
Doge, the nobility, and _all_ the subjects, are rendered unhappy, I
should imagine, with all submission, that the glory and security of the
rest of the republic must be of very small importance.

In the same letter which I have quoted above, his Lordship, speaking of
the State Inquisitors, has these words: “When they find any fault, they
are so inexorable, and so quick as well as severe in their justice, that
the very fear of this is so effectual a restraint, that, perhaps, the
only preservation of Venice, and of its liberty, is owing to this single
piece of their constitution.”

How would you, my good friend, relish that kind of liberty in England,
which could not be preserved without the assistance of a despotic court?
Such an idea of liberty might have been announced from the throne, as
one of the mysteries of Government, by James the First, or the Second;
but we are amazed to find it published by a counsellor, and admirer of
William the Third. It may, indeed, be said, that the smallness of the
Venetian State, and its republican form of government, render it liable
to be overturned by sudden tumults, or popular insurrections: this
renders it the more necessary to keep a watchful eye over the conduct
of individuals, and guard against every thing that may be the source of
public commotion or disorder. The institution of State Inquisitors may
be thought to admit of some apology in this view, like the extraordinary
and irregular punishment of the Ostracism established at Athens, which
had a similar foundation. In a large State, or in a less popular form of
government, the same dangers from civil commotions cannot be apprehended;
similar precautions for preventing them are therefore superfluous; but,
notwithstanding every apology that can be made, I am at a loss to account
for the existence of this terrible Tribunal for so long a time in the
Venetian republic, because all ranks seem to have an interest in its
destruction; and I do not see on what principle any one man, or any set
of men, should wish for its preservation. It cannot be the Doge, for the
State Inquisitors keep him in absolute bondage; nor would one naturally
imagine that the nobles would relish this court, for the nobles are more
exposed to the jealousy of the State Inquisitors than the citizens,
or inferior people; and least of all ought the citizens to support a
Tribunal, to which none of them can ever be admitted. As, however, the
body of the nobility alone can remove this Tribunal from being part of
the constitution, and yet, we find, they have always supported it; we
must conclude, that a junto of that body which has sufficient influence
to command a majority of their brethren, has always retained the power
in their own hands, and found means of having the majority at least of
the Council of Ten, chosen from their own members; so that this arbitrary
court is, perhaps, always composed, by a kind of rotation, of the
individuals of a junto. But if the possibility of this is denied, because
of the precaution used in the form of electing by ballot, the only other
way I can account for a Tribunal of such a nature being permitted to
exist, is, by supposing that a majority of the Venetian nobles have so
great a relish for unlimited power, that, to have a chance of enjoying it
for a short period, they are willing to bear all the miseries of slavery
for the rest of their lives.

The encouragement given by this Government to anonymous accusers,
and secret informations, is attended with consequences which greatly
outweigh any benefit that can arise from them. They must destroy mutual
confidence, and promote suspicions and jealousies among neighbours; and,
while they render all ranks of men fearful, they encourage them to be
malicious. The laws ought to be able to protect every man who openly and
boldly accuses another.

If any set of men, in a State, are so powerful, that it is dangerous for
an individual to charge them with their crimes openly, there must be a
weakness in that government which requires a speedy remedy; but let not
that be a remedy worse than the disease.

It is no proof of the boasted wisdom of this Government; that, in the
use of the torture, it imitates many European States, whose judicial
regulations it has avoided where they seem far less censurable. The
practice of forcing confession, and procuring evidence by this means,
always appeared to me a complication of cruelty and absurdity. To make a
man suffer more than the pains of death, that you may discover whether
he deserves death, or not, is a manner of distributing justice which I
cannot reconcile to my idea of equity.

If it is the intention of the Legislature, that every crime shall be
expiated by the sufferings of somebody, and is regardless whether this
expiation is made by the agonies of an innocent person, or a guilty,
then there is no more to be said; but, if the intention be to discover
the truth, this horrid device of the torture will very often fail; for
nineteen people out of twenty will declare whatever they imagine will
soonest put an end to their sufferings, whether it be truth or falsehood.



LETTER XVI.


                                                                  Venice.

Although many important events have happened since the establishment of
the State Inquisition, which have greatly affected the power, riches, and
extent of dominion of this republic, yet the nature of the Government has
remained much the same. In what I have to add, therefore, I shall be very
short and general.

I have already observed, that it was the usual policy of this republic
to maintain a neutrality, as long as possible, in all the wars which
took place among her neighbours; and when obliged, contrary to her
inclinations, to declare for either party, she generally joined with that
State whose distant situation rendered its power and prosperity the least
dangerous of the two to Venice.

This republic seems, however, to have too much neglected to form
defensive alliances with other States, and by the continual jealousy
she shewed of them, joined to her immense riches, at last became the
object of the hatred and envy of all the Powers in Europe. This universal
jealousy was roused, and brought into action, in the year 1508, by the
intriguing genius of Pope Julius the Second. A confederacy was secretly
entered into at Cambray, between Julius, the Emperor Maximilian, Lewis
the Twelfth, and Ferdinand of Arragon, against the republic of Venice. A
bare enumeration of the Powers which composed this league, gives a very
high idea of the importance of the State against which it was formed.

The Duke of Savoy, the Duke of Farrara, and the Duke of Mantua, acceded
to this confederacy, and gave in claims to part of the dominions of
Venice. It was not difficult to form pretensions to the best part of the
dominions of a State, which originally possessed nothing but a few marshy
islands at the bottom of the Adriatic Gulph. It was the general opinion
of Europe, that the league of Cambray would reduce Venice to her original
possessions.

The Venetians, finding themselves deprived of all hopes of foreign
assistance, sought support from their own courage, and resolved to
meet the danger which threatened them, with the spirit of a brave and
independent people.

Their General, Count Alviano, led an army against Lewis, who, being
prepared before the other confederates, had already entered Italy.
However great the magnanimity of the Senate, and the skill of their
General, the soldiery were by no means equal to the disciplined troops of
France, led by a martial nobility, and headed by a gallant monarch. The
army of Alviano was defeated; new enemies poured on the republic from all
sides; and she lost, in one campaign, all the territories in Italy which
she had been ages in acquiring.

Venice now found that she could no longer depend on her own strength and
resources, and endeavoured to break, by policy, a combination which she
had not force to resist. The Venetian Senate, knowing that Julius was
the soul of the confederacy, offered to deliver up the towns he claimed,
and made every other submission that could gratify the pride, and avert
the anger, of that ambitious Pontiff; they also find means to separate
Ferdinand from the alliance. Lewis and Maximilian being now their only
enemies, the Venetians are able to sustain the war, till Julius, bearing
no longer any resentment against the republic, and seized with remorse
at beholding his native country ravaged by French and German armies,
unites with Venice to drive the invaders out of Italy; and this republic
is saved, with the loss of a small part of her Italian dominions, from
a ruin which all Europe had considered as inevitable. The long and
expensive wars between the different Powers of Europe, in which this
State was obliged to take part, prove that her strength and resources
were not exhausted.

In the year 1570, the Venetians were forced into a ruinous war with the
Ottoman Empire, at a time when the Senate, sensible of the great need
they stood in of repose, had, with much address and policy, kept clear of
the quarrels which agitated the rest of Europe. But Solymon the Second,
upon the most frivolous pretext, demanded from them the island of Cyprus.

It was evident to all the world, that he had no better foundation for
this claim, than a strong desire, supported by a sufficient power, of
conquering the island. This kind of right might not be thought complete
in a court of equity; but, in the jurisprudence of monarchs, it has
always been found preferable to every other.

The Turks make a descent, with a great army, on Cyprus; they invest
Famagousta, the capital; the garrison defends it with the most obstinate
bravery; the Turks are repulsed in repeated assaults; many thousands of
them are slain; but the ranks are constantly supplied by reinforcements.
Antonio Bragadino, the commander, having displayed proofs of the highest
military skill, and the most heroic courage, his garrison being quite
exhausted with fatigue, and greatly reduced in point of numbers, is
obliged to capitulate.

The terms were, that the garrison should march out with their arms,
baggage, and three pieces of cannon, and should be transported to Candia
in Turkish vessels; that the citizens should not be pillaged, but allowed
to retire with their effects.

Mustapha, the Turkish Bashaw, no sooner had possession of the place,
than he delivered it up to be pillaged by the Janissaries; the garrison
were put in chains, and made slaves on board the Turkish gallies. The
principal officers were beheaded, and the gallant Bragadino was tied to a
pillar, and, in the Bashaw’s presence, flayed alive.

We meet with events in the annals of mankind, that make us doubt the
truth of the most authentic history. We cannot believe that such actions
have ever been committed by the inhabitants of this globe, and by
creatures of the same species with ourselves. We are tempted to think we
are perusing the records of hell, whose inhabitants, according to the
most authentic accounts, derive a constant pleasure from the tortures of
each other, as well as of all foreigners.

The conquest of the island of Cyprus is said to have cost the Turks fifty
thousand lives. At this time, not Venice only, but all Christendom, had
reason to dread the progress of the Turkish arms. The State of Venice
solicited assistance from all the Catholic States; but France was, at
that time, in alliance with the Turks; Maximilian dreaded their power;
the Crown of Portugal was possessed by a child, and Poland was exhausted
by her wars with Russia. The Venetians, on this pressing occasion,
received assistance from Rome, whose power they had so often resisted,
and from Spain, their late enemy.

Pope Pius the Fifth, and Philip the Second, joined their fleets with
that of the republic. The confederate fleet assembled at Messina. The
celebrated Don John of Austria, natural son to Charles the Fifth, was
Generalissimo; Mark Antonio Colonna commanded the Pope’s division, and
Sebastian Veniero the Venetian. The Turkish fleet was greatly superior in
the number of vessels.

The two fleets meet in the Gulph of Lapanta: it is said, that the Turkish
gallies were entirely worked by Christian slaves, and the gallies of
the Christians by Turkish; a shocking proof of the barbarous manner in
which prisoners of war were treated in that age; and, in this instance,
as absurd as it was barbarous; for a cartel for an exchange of prisoners
would have given freedom to the greater number of those unhappy men,
without diminishing the strength of either navy. The fleets engage,
and the Turks are entirely defeated. Historians assert, that twenty
thousand Turks were killed in the engagement, and one half of their fleet
destroyed. This is a prodigious number to be killed on one side, and in a
sea fight; it ought to be remembered, that there is no Turkish writer on
the subject.

Pius the Fifth died soon after the battle of Lapanta. Upon his death
the war languished on the side of the Allies; Philip became tired of
the expence, and the Venetians were obliged to purchase a peace, by
yielding the island of Cyprus to the Turks, and agreeing to pay them, for
three years, an annual tribute of one hundred thousand ducats. Those
circumstances have no tendency to confirm the accounts which Christian
writers have given, of the immense loss which the Turks met with at the
battle of Lapanta.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the republic had a dispute
with the Pope, which, in that age, was thought a matter of importance,
and engaged the attention of all Christendom.

Paul the Fifth shewed as eager a disposition as any of his predecessors,
to extend the Papal authority. He had an inveterate prejudice against the
Venetian republic, on account of her having, on every occasion, resisted
all ecclesiastical encroachments.

He sought, with impatience, an opportunity of manifesting his hatred,
and expected that he should be assisted by the pious Princes of Europe,
in bringing this refractory child of the church to reason. He began
by demanding a sum of money, for the purpose of carrying on the war
against the Turks in Hungary; he complained of certain decrees of the
Senate, relating to the internal government of the republic, particularly
one which forbad the building of any more new churches, without the
permission of that assembly, and which, he said, smelt strongly of
heresy; and above all, he exclaimed against the Council of Ten, for
having imprisoned an Ecclesiastic, and prepared to bring him to a public
trial. This reverend person, for whom his Holiness interested himself
so warmly, was accused of having poisoned five people, one of whom was
his own father. He was also accused of having caused another to be
assassinated; and, to prevent a discovery, had afterwards poisoned the
assassin.

The Senate refused the money, confirmed their decree against the building
of churches, and applauded the conduct of the Council of Ten, in
prosecuting the Ecclesiastic.

The authors of the age arranged themselves on the one side, or the
other, and this became a war of controversy; in which, though there was
no blood shed, yet it appeared, by the writings of the partisans, that
a considerable number of understandings were greatly injured. Those who
supported the Pope’s cause insisted, that the temporal power of Princes
is subordinate to his; that he has a right to deprive them of their
dominions, and release their subjects from their oaths of fidelity, as
often as this shall be for the glory of God, and for the good of the
Church; of which nobody could be so good a judge as the Pope, since all
the world knew he was infallible; that ecclesiastics were not subjected
to the civil power; that an ecclesiastical court, or the Pope, only, had
authority over that body of men; and nothing could be more abominable,
than to continue a prosecution against a prisoner, whatever his crimes
might be, after the Father of the church, who had the undoubted power of
absolving sinners, had interfered in his favour.

The Senate, in their answers, acknowledged, that the Pope was supreme
head of the Church, and that, in all subjects of religious belief,
his power was unbounded; for which reason they remained implicit and
submissive believers; that they were far from disputing the infallibility
of his Holiness in ecclesiastical matters, particularly within his own
dominions; but, with regard to the government of their subjects, they
would certainly take the whole trouble of that on themselves, and would
administer as impartial justice to Ecclesiastics, as to those of other
professions. They imagined also, that they were competent judges when,
and for what purposes, they ought to levy money upon their own subjects,
and whether it would be necessary to build any new churches in Venice, or
not. Finally, they flattered themselves, that the prosecuting a murderer
was no way inconsistent with the glory of God.

The greater number of the Princes of Christendom seemed to think the
Senate were in the right. The Pope was disappointed in his expectations;
and finding himself unsupported, was glad to shelter his pride under the
mediation of Henry the Fourth of France, who endeavoured to give his
Holiness’s defeat the appearance of victory.



LETTER XVII.


                                                                  Venice.

The year 1618 is distinguished in the annals of Venice, by a conspiracy
of a more formidable nature than any hitherto mentioned. The design of
other conspiracies was a change in the form of government, or, at most,
the destruction of some particular class of men in power; but the present
plot had for its object the total annihilation of the Venetian republic.
I speak of the conspiracy formed by the Marquis of Bedmar, ambassador
from the Court of Spain, in conjunction with the Duke of Ossono, and the
Spanish governor of the Milanese.

The interesting manner in which this dark design has been described by
the Abbé St. Real, has made it more universally known than any other part
of the Venetian story. This writer is accused of having ornamented his
account with some fanciful circumstances, an objection often enviously
urged against some of the most agreeable writers, by authors whom nature
has guarded from the possibility of committing such an error; men, whose
truths are less interesting than fictions, and whose fictions are as dull
as the most insipid truths. Does any reader believe that the speeches
of the Generals before a battle, as recorded by Livy, were actually
pronounced in the terms of that author? Or, can any one wish they were
expunged from his history? Abbé St. Real has also put speeches into the
mouths of the conspirators, and has embellished, without materially
altering, the real circumstances of the story. For my own part, I feel
a degree of gratitude to every person who has entertained me; and while
my passions are agreeably agitated with St. Real’s lively history, I
cannot bear that a phlegmatic fellow should interrupt my enjoyment; and,
because of a few embellishments, declare, with an affected air of wisdom,
that the whole is an idle romance.

The discovery of this plot, and the impressions of jealousy and terror
which it left on the minds of the inhabitants of Venice, probably first
suggested a plan of a more wicked nature than any of the conspiracies we
have hitherto mentioned, and which was actually put in execution.

A set of villains combined together to accuse some of the nobility of
treasonable practices, merely for the sake of the rewards bestowed upon
informers. This horrid crime may be expected in all Governments where
spies and informers are encouraged; it certainly occurs frequently at
Venice; sometimes, no doubt, without being detected, and sometimes it is
detected, without being publicly punished, for fear of discouraging the
business of information: but on the discovery of the present combination,
all Venice was struck with such horror, that the Senate thought proper
to publish every circumstance.

A certain number of those miscreants acted the part of accusers; the
others, being seized by the information of their accomplices, appeared as
witnesses.

A noble Venetian, of a respectable character, and advanced in years, of
the name of Foscarini, fell a victim to this horrid cabal; and Venice
beheld with astonishment and sorrow, one of her most respectable citizens
accused, condemned, and executed as a traitor.

At length, accusations followed each other so close, that they created
suspicions in the minds of the Judges. The informers themselves were
seized, and examined separately, and the whole dreadful scheme became
manifest. These wretches suffered the punishment due to such complicated
villany; the honour of Foscarini was re-instated, and every possible
compensation made to his injured family. An instance like this, of the
despotic precipitancy of the Inquisitors, more than counterbalances all
the benefit which the State ever receives from them, or the odious race
of informers they encourage.

If the trial of the unfortunate Foscarini had been _open_, or _public_,
and not in secret, according to the form of the Inquisitor’s Court; and
if he had been allowed to call exculpatory evidence, and assisted by
those friends who knew all his actions, the falsehood and villany of
these accusers would probably have been discovered, and his life saved.

In the year 1645, the Turks made an unexpected and sudden descent
on the island of Candia. The Senate of Venice did not display their
usual vigilance on this occasion. They had seen the immense warlike
preparations going forward, and yet allowed themselves to be amused by
the Grand Seignior’s declaring war against Malta, and pretending that
the armament was intended against that island. The troops landed without
opposition, and the town of Canéa was taken after an obstinate defence.

This news being brought to Venice, excited an universal indignation
against the Turks; and the Senate resolved to defend, to the utmost, this
valuable part of the empire. Extraordinary ways and means of raising
money were fallen upon: among others, it was proposed to sell the rank of
nobility. Four citizens offered one hundred thousand ducats each for this
honour; and, notwithstanding some opposition, this measure was at last
carried. Eighty families were admitted into the Grand Council, and to the
honour and privileges of the nobility. What an idea does this give of the
wealth of the inhabitants of Venice?

The siege of Candia, the capital of the island of that name, is, in
some respects, more memorable than that of any town, which history,
or even which poetry, has recorded. It lasted twenty-four years. The
amazing efforts made by the republic of Venice astonished all Europe;
their courage interested the gallant spirits of every nation: volunteers
from every country came to Candia, to exercise their valour, to acquire
knowledge in the military art, and assist a brave people whom they
admired. The Duke of Beaufort, so much the darling of the Parisian
populace during the war of the Fronde, was killed here, with many more
gallant French officers.

During this famous siege, the Venetians gained many important victories
over the Turkish fleets. Sometimes they were driven from the walls of
Candia, and the Turkish garrison of Canéa was even besieged by the
Venetian fleets. The slaughter made of the Turkish armies is without
example; but new armies were soon found to supply their place, by a
Government which boasts such populous dominions, and which has despotic
authority over its subjects.

Mahomet the Fourth, impatient at the length of this siege, came to
Negropont, that he might have more frequent opportunities of hearing from
the Vizier, who carried on the siege. An officer sent with dispatches,
was directed by the Vizier, to explain to Mahomet the manner in which he
made his approaches, and to assure him that he would take all possible
care to save the lives of the soldiers. The humane Emperor answered, That
he had sent the Vizier to take the place, and not to spare the lives of
soldiers; and he was on the point of ordering the head of the officer who
brought this message, to be cut off, merely to quicken the Vizier in his
operations, and to shew him how little he valued the lives of men.

In spite of the Vizier’s boasted parsimony, this war is said to have cost
the lives of two hundred thousand Turks. Candia capitulated in the year
1668: the conditions on this occasion were honourably fulfilled. Morsini,
the Venetian General, after displaying prodigies of valour and capacity,
marched out of the rubbish of this well-disputed city, with the honours
of war.

The expence of such a tedious war greatly exhausted the resources of
Venice, which could not now repair them so quickly as formerly, when she
enjoyed the rich monopoly of the Asiatic trade; the discovery of the
Cape of Good Hope having long since opened that valuable commerce to the
Portuguese and other nations.

This republic remained in a state of tranquillity, endeavouring, by the
arts of peace, and cultivation of that share of commerce which she still
retained, to fill her empty exchequer, till she was drawn into a new war,
in the year 1683, by the insolence of the Ottoman Court. The Venetians
had for some time endeavoured, by negociation, and many conciliatory
representations, to accommodate matters with the Turks; and though the
haughty conduct of her enemies afforded small hopes of success, yet such
was her aversion to war on the present occasion, that she still balanced,
whether to bear those insults, or repel them by arms; when she was
brought to decision by an event which gave the greatest joy to Venice,
and astonished all Europe. This was the great victory gained over the
Turkish army before the walls of Vienna, by Sobieski, King of Poland.

In this new war, their late General Morsini again had the command of the
fleets and armies of the republic, and sustained the great reputation he
had acquired in Candia. He conquered the Morea, which was ceded formally
to Venice, with some other acquisition, at the peace of Carlowitz, in the
last year of the last century.

During the war of the succession, the State of Venice observed a strict
neutrality. They considered that dispute as unconnected with their
interests, taking care, however, to keep on foot an army on their
frontiers in Italy, of sufficient force to make them respected by the
contending Powers. But, soon after the peace of Utrecht, the Venetians
were again attacked by their old enemies the Turks; who, beholding the
great European Powers exhausted by their late efforts, and unable to
assist the republic, thought this the favourable moment for recovering
the Morea, which had been so lately ravished from them. The Turks
obtained their object, and at the peace of Passarowitz, which terminated
this unsuccessful war, the Venetian State yielded up the Morea; the Grand
Seignior, on his part, restoring to them the small islands of Cerigo and
Cerigotto, with some places which his troops had taken during the course
of the war in Dalmatia. Those, with the islands of Corfou, Santa Maura,
Zante, and Cephalonia, the remains of their dominions in the Levant, they
have since fortified, at a great expence, as their only barriers against
the Turk.

Since this period no essential alteration has taken place in the Venetian
government, nor has there been any essential increase, or diminution, in
the extent of their dominions. They have little to fear at present from
the Turks, whose attention is sufficiently occupied by a more formidable
enemy than the republic and the House of Austria united. Besides, if
the Turks were more disengaged, as they have now stripped the republic
of Cyprus, Candia, and their possessions in Greece, what remains in the
Levant is hardly worth their attention.

The declension of Venice did not, like that of Rome, proceed from the
increase of luxury, or the revolt of their own armies in the distant
Colonies, or from civil wars of any kind. Venice has dwindled in power
and importance, from causes which could not be foreseen; or guarded
against by human prudence, although they had been foreseen. How could
this republic have prevented the discovery of a passage to Asia by the
Cape of Good Hope? or hinder other nations from being inspired with a
spirit of enterprise, industry, and commerce? In their present situation
there is little probability of their attempting new conquests; happy if
they are allowed to remain in the quiet possession of what they have.
Venice has a most formidable neighbour in the Emperor, whose dominions
border on those of this republic on all sides. The independency of the
republic entirely depends on his moderation; or, in case he should lose
that virtue, on the protection of some of the great Powers of Europe.

I have now finished the sketch I proposed, of the Venetian government,
with which I could not help intermingling many of the principal
historical events; indeed I enlarged on these, after you informed me,
that you intended to give your young friend copies of my letters on
this subject, before he begins his tour. I wish they were more perfect
on his account; they will, at least, prevent his being in the situation
of some travellers I have met with, who, after remaining here for many
months, knew no more of the ancient or modern state of Venice, than that
the inhabitants went about in boats instead of coaches, and, generally
speaking, wore masks.



LETTER XVIII.


                                                                  Venice.

Having travelled with you through the splendid æras of the Venetian
story, and presented their statesmen and heroes to your view, let us now
return to the present race, in whose life and conversation, I forewarn
you, there is nothing heroic. The truth is, that in every country,
as well as Venice, we can only _read_ of heroes; they are seldom to
be _seen_: for this plain reason, that while they are to be seen we
do not think them heroes. The historian dwells upon what is vast and
extraordinary; what is common and trivial finds no place in his records.
When we hear the names of Epaminondas, Themistocles, Camillus, Scipio,
and other great men of Greece and Rome, we think of their great actions,
we know nothing else about them;—but when we see the worthies of our
own times, we unfortunately recollect their whole history. The citizens
of Athens and Rome, who lived in the days of the heroes above mentioned,
very probably had not the same admiration of them that we have; and our
posterity, some eight or ten centuries hence, will, it is to be hoped,
have a higher veneration for the great men of the present age, than their
intimate acquaintance are known to have, or than those can be supposed
to form, who daily behold them lounging in gaming-houses. All this, you
perceive, is little more than a commentary on the old observation, That
no man is a hero to his Valet de Chambre. The number of playhouses in
Venice is very extraordinary, considering the size of the town, which is
not thought to contain above one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants,
yet there are eight or nine theatres here, including the opera-houses.
You pay a trifle at the door for admittance; this entitles you to go into
the pit, where you may look about, and determine what part of the house
you will sit in. There are rows of chairs placed in the front of the pit,
next the orchestra; the seats of these chairs are folded to their backs,
and fastened by a lock. Those who choose to take them, pay a little
more money to the door-keeper, who immediately unlocks the seat. Very
decent-looking people occupy these chairs; but the back part of the pit
is filled with footmen and gondoleers, in their common working clothes.
The nobility, and better sort of citizens, have boxes retained for the
year; but there are always a sufficient number to be let to strangers:
the price of those varies every night, according to the season of the
year, and the piece acted.

A Venetian playhouse has a dismal appearance in the eyes of people
accustomed to the brilliancy of those of London. Many of the boxes are so
dark, that the faces of the company in them can hardly be distinguished
at a little distance, even when they do not wear masks. The stage,
however, is well illuminated, so that the people in the boxes can see,
perfectly well, every thing that is transacted there; and when they
choose to be seen themselves, they order lights into their boxes. Between
the acts you sometimes see ladies walking about, with their Cavalieri
Serventés, in the back part of the pit, when it is not crowded. As they
are masked, they do not scruple to reconnoitre the company, with their
spying-glasses, from this place: when the play begins, they return to
their boxes. This continual moving about from box to box, and between
the boxes and the pit, must create some confusion, and, no doubt, is
disagreeable to those who attend merely on account of the piece. There
must, however, be found some _douceur_ in the midst of all this obscurity
and confusion, which, in the opinion of the majority of the audience,
overbalances these obvious inconveniences.

The music of the opera here is reckoned as fine as in any town in Italy;
and, at any rate, is far superior to the praise of so very poor a judge
as I am. The dramatic and poetical parts of those pieces are little
regarded: the poet is allowed to indulge himself in as many anachronisms,
and other inconsistencies, as he pleases. Provided the music receives
the approbation of the critic’s ear, his judgment is not offended with
any absurdities in the other parts of the composition. The celebrated
Metastasio has disdained to avail himself of this indulgence in his
operas, which are fine dramatic compositions. He has preserved the
alliance which ought always to subsist between sense and music.

But as for the music of the serious operas, it is, in general, infinitely
too fine for my ear; to my shame I must confess, that it requires a
considerable effort for me to sit till the end.

It is surely happy for a man to have a real sensibility for fine music;
because he has, by that means, one source of enjoyment more, than those
whose auditory nerves are less delicately strung. It is, however, equally
absurd and silly to affect an excessive delight in things which nature
has not framed us to enjoy; yet how many of our acquaintance, accused of
this folly, have we seen doing painful penance at the Hay-market; and, in
the midst of unsuppressable yawnings, calling out, Charming! exquisite!
bravissimo, &c.

It is amazing what pains some people take to render themselves
ridiculous; and it is a matter of real curiosity to observe, in what
various shapes the little despicable spirit of affectation shews itself
among mankind.

I remember a very honest gentleman, who understood little or nothing of
French; but having picked up a few phrases, he brought them forward
on every occasion, and affected, among his neighbours in the country,
the most perfect knowledge, and highest admiration, of that language.
When any body, in compliance with his taste, uttered a sentence in
that tongue, though my good friend did not understand a syllable of
it, yet he never failed to nod and smile to the speaker with the most
knowing air imaginable. The parson of the parish, at a country dinner,
once addressed him in these emphatic words: _Monsieur, je trouve ce
plum-pudding extrémement bon!_ which happening not to be in my friend’s
collection of phrases, he did not comprehend. He nodded and smiled to the
clergyman, however, in his usual intelligent manner; but a person who sat
near him, being struck with the sagacious and important tone in which
the observation had been delivered, begged of my friend to explain it in
English:—on which, after some hesitation, he declared, that the turn of
the expression was so genteel, and so exquisitely adapted to the French
idiom, that it could not be rendered into English, without losing a great
deal of the original beauty of the sentiment.

At the comic opera I have sometimes seen action alone excite the highest
applause, independent of either the poetry or the music. I saw a Duo
performed by an old man and a young woman, supposed to be his daughter,
in such an humorous manner, as drew an universal _encora_ from the
spectators. The merit of the musical part of the composition, I was told,
was but very moderate, and as for the sentiment you shall judge.

The father informs his daughter, in a song, that he has found an
excellent match for her; who, besides being rich, and very prudent, and
not too young, was over and above a particular friend of his own, and
in person and disposition, much such a man as himself; he concludes, by
telling her, that the ceremony will be performed next day. She thanks
him, in the gayest air possible, for his obliging intentions, adding,
that she should have been glad to have shewn her implicit obedience to
his commands, provided there had been any chance of the man’s being
to her taste; but as, from the account he had given, there could be
none, she declares she will not marry him next day, and adds, with a
_very long_ quaver, that if she were to live to _eternity_ she should
continue of the same opinion. The father, in a violent rage, tells her,
that instead of to-morrow, the marriage should take place that very
day; to which she replies, Non: he rejoins Si; she, Non, non; he, Si,
si; the daughter, Non, non, non; the Father, Si, si, si; and so the
singing continues for five or six minutes. You perceive there is nothing
marvellously witty in this; and for a daughter to be of a different
opinion from her father, in the choice of a husband, is not a very new
dramatic incident. Well, I told you the Duo was encored—they immediately
performed it a second time, and with more humour than the first. The
whole house vociferated for it again; and it was sung a third time in
a manner equally pleasant, and yet perfectly different from any of the
former two.

I thought the house would have been brought down about our ears, so
extravagant were the testimonies of approbation.

The two actors were obliged to appear again, and sing this Duo a
fourth time; which they executed in a style so new, so natural, and so
exquisitely droll, that the audience now thought there had been something
deficient in all their former performances, and that they had hit on the
true comic only this last time.

Some people began to call for it again; but the old man, now quite
exhausted, begged for mercy; on which the point was given up. I never
before had any idea that such strong comic powers could have been
displayed in the singing of a song.

The dancing is an essential part of the entertainment at the opera here,
as well as at London. There is certainly a much greater proportion of
mankind deaf to the delights of music, than blind to the beauties of fine
dancing. During the singing, and recitativo part of the performance, the
singers are often allowed to warble for a considerable time, without
any body’s minding them; but the moment the ballet begins, private
conversation, though pretty universal before, is immediately at an end,
and the eyes of all the spectators are fixed on the stage. This, to be
sure, has been always the case in London, and, in spite of the pains some
people take to conceal it, we all know the reason; but I own I did not
expert to find the same preference of dancing to music in Italy.

After seeing the dancing at the French opera, and coming so lately from
Vienna, where we had seen some of Novere’s charming ballets very well
executed, we could have no high admiration of those performed here,
though there are at present some dancers highly esteemed, who perform
every night.

The Italians, I am informed, have a greater relish for agility and high
jumping in their dancers, than for graceful movements.

It is extraordinary that they do not vary the ballets oftener. They give
the same every night during the run of the opera. There is a propriety
in continuing the same opera for a considerable time; because music is
often better relished after it becomes a little familiar to the ear, than
at first; but a ballet might be changed, without much difficulty, every
night.



LETTER XIX.


                                                                  Venice.

Many people are surprised, that, in a Government so very jealous of its
power as that of Venice, there is no military establishment within the
city to support the executive power, and repress any popular commotion.
For my own part, I am strongly of opinion, that it proceeds from this
very jealousy in government, that there is no military garrison here.

An arbitrary Prince is fond of a standing army, and loves to be always
surrounded by guards; because he, being the permanent fountain of honours
and promotion, the army will naturally be much attached to him, and
become, on all occasions, the blind instruments of his pleasure; but at
Venice, there is no visible permanent object, to which the army can
attach itself. The Doge would not be allowed the command of the garrison,
if there was one. The three State Inquisitors are continually changing;
and before one set could gain the affections of the soldiers, another
would be chosen; so that Government could not be supported, but much more
probably would be overturned, by a numerous garrison being established in
Venice; for it might perhaps not be difficult for a few of the rich and
powerful nobles to corrupt the garrison, and gain over the commander to
any ambitious plan of their own, for the destruction of the constitution.

But although there is no formal garrison in a military uniform, yet there
is a real effective force sufficient to suppress any popular commotion,
at the command of the Senate, and Council of Ten. This force, besides the
Sbirri, consists of a great number of stout fellows, who, without any
distinguishing dress, are kept in the pay of Government, and are at the
command of that Council. There is also the whole body of the gondoleers,
the most hardy and daring of the common Venetians. This body of men are
greatly attached to the nobility, from whom they have most of their
employment, and with whom they acquire a certain degree of familiarity,
by passing great part of their time, shut up in boats, in their company,
and by being privy to many of their love intrigues. Great numbers of
these gondoleers are in the service of particular nobles; and there is no
doubt, that, in case of any popular insurrection, the whole would take
the side of the nobility and Senate, against the people. In short, they
may be considered as a kind of standing militia, ready to rise as soon as
the Government requires their services.

Lastly, there is the Grand Council itself, which, in case of any violent
commotion of the citizens and populace, could be armed directly, from
the small arsenal within the Ducal palace, and would prove a very
formidable force against an unarmed multitude; for the laws of Venice
forbid, under pain of death, any citizen to carry fire-arms; a law which
is very exactly executed by the State Inquisitors.

By those means the executive power of Government is as irresistible at
Venice, as at Petersburgh or Constantinople, while there is a far less
chance of the Government itself being overthrown here by the instruments
of its own power; for, although a regular army, or garrison, might be
corrupted by the address of an ambitious Doge, or by a combination of a
few rich and popular nobles, in which case a revolution would take place
at once; it is almost impossible to conceive, that all the different
powers above mentioned could be engaged to act in favour of one man, or a
small combination of men, without being detected by the vigilance of the
Inquisitors, or the jealousy of those who were not in the conspiracy. And
if we suppose a majority of the nobles inclinable to any change in the
form of the Government, they have no occasion to carry on a secret plot;
they may come to the Council Chamber, and dictate whatever alterations
they think proper.



LETTER XX.


                                                                  Venice.

There is unquestionably much reflection, and great depth of thought,
displayed in the formation of the political constitution of Venice;
but I should admire it much more, if the Council of Ten, and State
Inquisitors, had never formed any part of it. Their institution, in my
opinion, destroys the effect of all the rest. Like those misers who
actually starve themselves, by endeavouring to avoid the inconveniencies
of poverty, the Venetians, in whatever manner it is brought about,
actually support a despotic tribunal, under the pretext of keeping out
despotism. In some respects this system is worse than the fixed and
permanent tyranny of one person; for that person’s character and maxims
would be known, and, by endeavouring to conform themselves to his way
of thinking, people might have some chance of living unmolested; but
according to this plan, they have a free-thinker for their tyrant to-day,
and a bigot to-morrow. One year a set of Inquisitors, who consider
certain parts of conduct as innocent, which, in the sight of their
successors, may appear State crimes; men do not know what they have to
depend upon. An universal jealousy must prevail, and precautions will
be used to avoid the suspicions of Government, unknown in any other
country. Accordingly we find, that the noble Venetians are afraid of
having any intercourse with foreign ambassadors, or with foreigners of
any kind; they are even cautious of visiting at each other’s houses,
and hardly ever have meetings together, except at the courts, or on the
Broglio. The boasted secrecy of their public councils proceeds, in all
probability, from the same principle of fear. If all conversation on
public affairs were forbid, under pain of death, and if the members of
the British Parliament were liable to be seized in the night-time by
general warrants, and hanged at Tyburn, or drowned in the Thames, at the
pleasure of the Secretaries of State, I dare swear the world would know
as little of what passes in either House of Parliament, as they do of
what is transacted in the Senate of Venice.

It is not safe for a noble Venetian to acquire, in a high degree, the
love and confidence of the common people. This excites the jealousy of
the Inquisitors, and proves a pretty certain means of excluding him from
any of the high offices. A Government which displays so much distrust
and suspicion where there is little or no ground, will not fail to shew
marks of the same disposition where, in the general opinion, there is
some reason to be circumspect. Ecclesiastics, of every denomination, are
excluded, by the constitution of Venice, from a place in the Senate, or
holding any civil office whatever; nor is it permitted them, directly or
indirectly, to intermeddle in State affairs. In many instances, they are
deprived of that kind of influence which, even in Protestant countries,
is allowed to the clergy. The Patriarch of Venice has not the disposal of
the offices belonging to St. Mark’s church: all the Deans are named by
the Doge and Senate.

Though it is forbid to the nobility, and to the clergy, to hold any
conversation with strangers upon politics, or affairs of State; yet it
is remarked, the gondoleers are exceeding ready to talk upon these, or
any other subjects, with all who give them the smallest encouragement.
Those who are not in the immediate service of any particular nobleman,
are often retained by Government, like the Valets de place at Paris, as
spies upon strangers. It is said, that while those fellows row their
gondolas, in seeming inattention to the conversation, they are taking
notice of every thing which is said, that they may report it to their
employers, when they imagine it any way concerns the Government. If
this is true, those are to be pitied who are obliged to listen to all
the stuff that such politicians may be supposed to relate. As soon as a
stranger arrives, the gondoleers who brought him to Venice immediately
repair to a certain office, and give information where they took him up,
to what house they conducted him, and of any other particulars they may
have picked up. All those precautions recalled to my memory the garrison
of Darmstadt, of which I gave you an account in a letter from that place,
where the strictest duty is kept up by day and night, in winter as well
as summer, and every precaution used, as if an enemy were at the gates;
though no mortal has the smallest design against the place, and though
it is perfectly understood by all the inhabitants, that if an army was
in reality to come with hostile intentions, the town could not hold
out a week. In the same manner, I cannot help thinking, that all this
jealousy and distrust, those numerous engines set a going, and all this
complicated system for the discovery of plots, and the defence of the
constitution of this republic, serves only to harass their own subjects.
Their constitution is certainly in no such danger as to require such an
apparatus of machines to defend it, unless, indeed, the Emperor were to
form a plot against it; and, in that case, it is much to be feared, that
the spies, gondoleers, lions mouths, and State Inquisitors, would hardly
prevent its success.

Exclusive of this State Inquisition, my abhorrence to which, I perceive,
leads me sometimes away from my purpose, all ranks of people here might
be exceeding happy. The business of the various courts, and the great
number of offices in the State, form a constant employment for the
nobles, and furnish them with proper objects to excite industry and
ambition. The citizens form a respectable body in the State; and, though
they are excluded from the Senate, they may hold some very lucrative
and important offices. By applying to the arts and sciences, which are
encouraged at Venice, they have a fair chance of living agreeably,
and laying up a competency for their families. Private property is no
where better secured than at Venice; and notwithstanding she no longer
enjoys the trade of Asia without competitors, yet her commerce is still
considerable, and many individuals acquire great wealth by trade. The
manufactories established here employ all the industrious poor, and
prevent that squalid beggary, that pilfering and robbery, one or other,
or all of which, prevail in most other countries of Europe.

Their subjects on the Terra Firma, I am informed, are not at all
oppressed; the Senate has found that mild treatment, and good usage,
are the best policy, and more effectual than armies, in preventing
revolts. The Podestas, therefore, are not allowed to abuse their power,
by treating the people with severity or injustice. Those Governors know,
that any complaints produced against them, will be scrutinized by the
Senate very carefully. This prevents many abuses of power on their part,
and makes the neighbouring provinces which formerly belonged to this
State, regret the chance of war which ravished them from the equitable
government of their ancient masters.



LETTER XXI.


                                                                  Venice.

Though the Venetian Government is still under the influence of
jealousy, that gloomy Dæmon is now entirely banished from the bosoms of
individuals. Instead of the confinement in which women were formerly kept
at Venice, they now enjoy a degree of freedom unknown even at Paris. Of
the two extremes, the present, without doubt, is the preferable.

The husbands seem at last convinced, that the chastity of their wives
is safest under their own guardianship, and that when a woman thinks
her honour not worth her own regard, it is still more unworthy of his.
This advantage, with many others, must arise from the present system;
that when a husband believes that his wife has faithfully adhered to her
conjugal engagement, he has the additional satisfaction of knowing,
that she acts from a love to him, or some honourable motive; whereas,
formerly, a Venetian husband could not be certain that he was not
obliged, for his wife’s chastity, to iron bars, bolts, and padlocks.

Could any man imagine, that a woman, whose chastity was preserved by such
means only, was, in fact, more respectable than a common prostitute? The
old plan of distrust and confinement, without even securing what was
its object, must have had a strong tendency to debase the minds of both
the husband and the wife; for what man, whose mind was not perfectly
abject, could have pleasure in the society of a wife, who, to his own
conviction, languished to be in the arms of another man? Of all the
humble employments that ever the wretched sons of Adam submitted to,
surely that of watching a wife from morning to night, and all night too,
is the most perfectly humiliating. Such ungenerous distrust must also
have had the worst effect on the minds of the women; made them view their
gaolers with disgust and horror; and we ought not to be much surprised
if some preferred the common gondoleers of the lakes, and the vagrants
of the streets, to such husbands. Along with jealousy, _poison_ and the
_stiletto_ have been banished from Venetian gallantry, and the innocent
mask is substituted in their places. According to the best information
I have received, this same mask is a much more innocent matter than is
generally imagined. In general it is not intended to conceal the person
who wears it, but only used as an apology for his not being in full
dress. With a mask stuck in the hat, and a kind of black mantle, trimmed
with lace of the same colour, over the shoulders, a man is sufficiently
dressed for any assembly at Venice.

Those who walk the streets, or go to the playhouses with masks actually
covering their faces, are either engaged in some love intrigue, or would
have the spectators think so; for this is a piece of affectation which
prevails here, as well as elsewhere; and I have been assured, by those
who have resided many years at Venice, that _refined_ gentlemen, who
are fond of the reputation, though they shrink from the catastrophe, of
an intrigue, are no uncommon characters here; and I believe it the more
readily, because I daily see many feeble gentlemen tottering about in
masks, for whom a bason of warm restorative soup seems more expedient
than the most beautiful woman in Venice.

One evening at St. Mark’s Place, when a gentleman of my acquaintance
was giving an account of this curious piece of affectation, he desired
me to take notice of a Venetian nobleman of his acquaintance, who, with
an air of mystery, was conducting a female mask into his Cassino. My
acquaintance knew him perfectly well, and assured me, he was the most
innocent creature with women he had ever been acquainted with. When this
gallant person perceived that we were looking at him, his mask fell to
the ground, as if by accident; and after we had got a complete view of
his countenance, he put it on with much hurry, and immediately rushed,
with his partner, into the Cassino.

    Fugit ad salices, sed se cupit ante videri.

You have heard, no doubt, of those little apartments, near St. Mark’s
Place, called Cassinos. They have the misfortune to labour under a very
bad reputation; they are accused of being temples entirely consecrated
to lawless love, and a thousand scandalous tales are told to strangers
concerning them. Those tales are certainly not believed by the Venetians
themselves, the proof of which is, that the Cassinos are allowed to
exist; for I hold it perfectly absurd to imagine, that men would suffer
their wives to enter such places, if they were not convinced that those
stories were ill-founded; nor can I believe, after all we have heard
of the profligacy of Venetian manners, that women, even of indifferent
reputations, would attend Cassinos in the open manner they do, if it were
understood that more liberties were taken with them there than elsewhere.

The opening before St. Mark’s church is the only place in Venice where
a great number of people can assemble. It is the fashion to walk here a
great part of the evening, to enjoy the music, and other amusements; and
although there are coffee-houses, and Venetian manners permit ladies,
as well as gentlemen, to frequent them, yet it was natural for the
noble and most wealthy to prefer little apartments of their own, where,
without being exposed to intrusion, they may entertain a few friends in a
more easy and unceremonious manner than they could do at their palaces.
Instead of going home to a formal supper, and returning afterwards to
this place of amusement, they order coffee, lemonade, fruit, and other
refreshments, to the Cassino.

That those little apartments may be occasionally used for the purposes
of intrigue, is not improbable; but that this is the ordinary and avowed
purpose for which they are frequented is, of all things, the least
credible.

Some writers who have described the manners of the Venetians, as more
profligate than those of other nations, assert at the same time, that
the Government encourages this profligacy, to relax and dissipate the
minds of the people, and prevent their planning, or attempting, any
thing against the constitution. Were this the case, it could not be
denied, that the Venetian legislators display their patriotism in a
very extraordinary manner, and have fallen upon as extraordinary means
of rendering their people good subjects. They first erect a despotic
court to guard the public liberty, and next they corrupt the morals
of the people, to keep them from plotting against the State. This last
piece of refinement, however, is no more than a conjecture of some
theoretical politicians, who are apt to take facts for granted, without
sufficient proof, and afterwards display their ingenuity in accounting
for them. That the Venetians are more given to sensual pleasures than
the inhabitants of London, Paris, or Berlin, I imagine will be difficult
to prove; but as the State Inquisitors do not think proper, and the
ecclesiastical are not allowed, to interfere in affairs of gallantry; as
a great number of strangers assemble twice or thrice a year at Venice,
merely for the sake of amusement; and, above all, as it is the custom to
go about in masks, an idea prevails, that the manners are more licentious
here than elsewhere. I have had occasion to observe, that this custom
of wearing a mask, by conveying the ideas of concealment and intrigue,
has contributed greatly to give some people an impression of Venetian
profligacy. But, for my own part, it is not a piece of white or black
paper, with distorted features, that I suspect, having often found the
most complete worthlessness concealed under a smooth smiling piece of
human skin.



LETTER XXII.


                                                                  Venice.

I am very sensible, that it requires a longer residence at Venice, and
better opportunities than I have had, to enable me to give a character of
the Venetians. But were I to form an idea of them from what I have seen,
I should paint them as a lively ingenious people, extravagantly fond
of public amusements, with an uncommon relish for humour, and yet more
attached to the real enjoyments of life, than to those which depend on
ostentation, and proceed from vanity.

The common people of Venice display some qualities very rarely to be
found in that sphere of life, being remarkably sober, obliging to
strangers, and gentle in their intercourse with each other. The Venetians
in general are tall and well made. Though equally robust, they are not
so corpulent as the Germans. The latter also are of fair complexions,
with light-grey or blue eyes; whereas the Venetians are for the most
part of a ruddy brown colour, with dark eyes. You meet in the streets of
Venice many fine manly countenances, resembling those transmitted to us
by the pencils of Paul Veronese and Titian. The women are of a fine stile
of countenance, with expressive features, and a skin of a rich carnation.
They dress their hair in a fanciful manner, which becomes them very
much. They are of an easy address, and have no aversion to cultivating
an acquaintance with those strangers, who are presented to them by their
relations, or have been properly recommended.

Strangers are under less restraint here, in many particulars, than the
native inhabitants. I have known some, who, after having tried most of
the capitals of Europe, have preferred to live at Venice, on account of
the variety of amusements, the gentle manners of the inhabitants, and the
perfect freedom allowed in every thing, except in blaming the measures
of Government. I have already mentioned in what manner the Venetians
are in danger of being treated who give themselves that liberty. When a
stranger is so imprudent as to declaim against the form or the measures
of Government, he will either receive a message to leave the territories
of the State, or one of the Sbirri will be sent to accompany him to the
Pope’s or the Emperor’s dominions.

The houses are thought inconvenient by many of the English; they are
better calculated, however, for the climate of Italy, than if they were
built according to the London model, which, I suppose, is the plan
those critics approve. The floors are of a kind of red plaister, with
a brilliant glossy surface, much more beautiful than wood, and far
preferable in case of fire, whose progress they are calculated to check.

The principal apartments are on the second floor. The Venetians
seldom inhabit the first, which is often intirely filled with lumber:
perhaps, they prefer the second, because it is farthest removed from
the moisture of the lakes; or perhaps they prefer it, because it is
better lighted, and more cheerful; or they may have some better reason
for this preference than I am acquainted with, or can imagine. Though
the inhabitants of Great Britain make use of the first floors for their
chief apartments, this does not form a complete demonstration that the
Venetians are in the wrong for preferring the second. When an acute
sensible people universally follow one custom, in a mere matter of
conveniency, however absurd that custom may appear in the eyes of a
stranger at first sight, it will generally be found, that there is some
real advantage in it, which compensates all the apparent inconveniencies.
Of this travellers, who do not hurry with too much rapidity through the
countries they visit, are very sensible: for, after having had time to
weigh every circumstance, they often see reason to approve what they had
formerly condemned. I could illustrate this by many examples; but your
own recollection must furnish you with so many, that any more would be
superfluous. Custom and fashion have the greatest influence on our taste
of beauty or excellence of every kind. What, from a variety of causes,
has become the standard in one country, is sometimes just the contrary
in another. The same thing that makes a low-brimmed hat appear genteel
at one time, and ridiculous at another, has made a different species
of versification be accounted the model of perfection in old Rome and
modern Italy, at Paris, or at London. In matters of taste, particularly
in dramatic poetry, the prejudices which each particular nation acquires
in favour of its own is difficult to be removed. People seldom obtain
such a perfect knowledge of a foreign language and foreign manners, as to
understand all the niceties of the one and the allusions to the other: of
consequence, many things are insipid to them, for which a native may have
a high relish.

The dialogues in rhime of the French plays appear unnatural and absurd to
Englishmen when they first attend the French theatre; yet those who have
remained long in France, and acquired a more perfect knowledge of the
language, assure us, that without rhime the dignity of the Tragic Muse
cannot be supported; and that, even in Comedy, they produce an additional
elegance, which overbalances every objection. The French language being
more studied and better understood by the English than our language
is by the French nation, we find many of our countrymen who relish
the beauties, and pay the just tribute of admiration to the genius of
Corneille, while there is scarcely a single Frenchman to be found who has
any idea of the merit of Shakespeare.

Without being justly accused of partiality, I may assert that, in this
instance, the English display a fairness and liberality of sentiment
superior to the French. The irregularities of Shakespeare’s drama are
obvious to every eye, and would, in the present age, be avoided by a poet
not possessed of a hundredth part of his genius. His peculiar beauties,
on the other hand, are of an excellence which has not, perhaps, been
attained by any poet of any age or country; yet the French critics,
from Voltaire down to the poorest scribbler in the literary journals,
all stop at the former, declaim on the barbarous taste of the English
nation, insist on the grotesque absurdity of the poet’s imagination, and
illustrate both by partial extracts of the most exceptionable scenes of
Shakespeare’s plays.

When a whole people, with that degree of judgment which even the enemies
of the British nation allow them to have, unite in the highest admiration
of one man, and continue, for ages, to behold his pieces with unsated
delight, it might occur to those Frenchmen, that there possibly was some
excellence in the works of this poet, though they could not see it; and a
very moderate share of candour might have taught them, that it would be
more becoming to spare their ridicule, till they acquired a little more
knowledge of the author against whom it is pointed.

An incident which occurred since my arrival at Venice, though founded on
a prejudice much more excusable than the conduit of the critics above
mentioned, has brought home to my conviction the rashness of those who
form opinions, without the knowledge requisite to direct their judgment.

I had got, I don’t know how, the most contemptuous opinion of the
Italian drama. I had been told, there was not a tolerable actor at
present in Italy, and I had been long taught to consider their comedy
as the most despicable stuff in the world, which could not amuse, or
even draw a smile from any person of taste, being quite destitute of
true humour, full of ribaldry, and only proper for the meanest of the
vulgar. Impressed with these sentiments, and eager to give his Grace a
full demonstration of their justness, I accompanied the D—— of H—— to the
stage-box of one of the playhouses the very day of our arrival at Venice.

The piece was a comedy, and the most entertaining character in it was
that of a man who stuttered. In this defect, and in the singular grimaces
with which the actor accompanied it, consisted a great part of the
amusement.

Disgusted at such a pitiful substitution for wit and humour, I expressed
a contempt for an audience which could be entertained by such buffoonery,
and who could take pleasure in the exhibition of a natural infirmity.

While we inwardly indulged sentiments of self-approbation, on account
of the refinement and superiority of our own taste, and supported the
dignity of those sentiments by a disdainful gravity of countenance, the
Stutterer was giving a piece of information to Harlequin which greatly
interested him, and to which he listened with every mark of eagerness.
This unfortunate speaker had just arrived at the most important part
of his narrative, which was, to acquaint the impatient listener where
his mistress was concealed, when he unluckily stumbled on a word of
six or seven syllables, which completely obstructed the progress of his
narration. He attempted it again and again, but always without success.
You may have observed that, though many other words would explain his
meaning equally well, you may as soon make a Saint change his religion,
as prevail on a Stutterer to accept of another word in place of that at
which he has stumbled. He adheres to his first word to the last, and
will sooner expire with it in his throat, than give it up for any other
you may offer. Harlequin, on the present occasion, presented his friend
with a dozen; but he rejected them all with disdain, and persisted in
his unsuccessful attempts on that which had first come in his way. At
length, making a desperate effort, when all the spectators were gaping in
expectation of his safe delivery, the cruel word came up with its broad
side foremost, and stuck directly across the unhappy man’s wind-pipe. He
gaped, and panted, and croaked; his face flushed, and his eyes seemed
ready to start from his head. Harlequin unbuttoned the Stutterer’s
waistcoat, and the neck of his shirt; he fanned his face with his cap,
and held a bottle of hartshorn to his nose. At length, fearing his
patient would expire, before he could give the desired intelligence, in a
fit of despair he pitched his head full in the dying man’s stomach, and
the word bolted out of his mouth to the most distant part of the house.

This was performed in a manner so perfectly droll, and the humorous
absurdity of the expedient came so unexpectedly upon me, that I
immediately burst into a most excessive fit of laughter, in which I was
accompanied by the D——, and by your young friend Jack, who was along
with us; and our laughter continued in such loud, violent, and repeated
fits, that the attention of the audience being turned from the stage to
our box, occasioned a renewal of the mirth all over the playhouse with
greater vociferation than at first.

When we returned to the inn, the D—— of H—— asked me, If I were as much
convinced as ever, that a man must be perfectly devoid of taste, who
could condescend to laugh at an Italian comedy?



LETTER XXIII.


                                                                   Padua.

We were detained at Venice several days longer than we intended, by
excessive falls of rain, which rendered the road to Verona impassable.
Relinquishing, therefore, the thoughts of visiting that city for the
present, the D—— determined to go to Ferrara by water. For this purpose I
engaged two barks; in one of which the chaises, baggage, and some of the
servants, proceeded directly to Ferrara, while we embarked in the other
for Padua.

Having crossed the Lagune, we entered the Brenta, but could continue our
route by that river no farther than the village of Doglio, where there
is a bridge; but the waters were so much swelled by the late rains,
that there was not room for our boat to pass below the arch. Quitting
the boat, therefore, till our return, we hired two open chaises, and
continued our journey along the banks of the Brenta to Padua.

Both sides of this river display gay, luxuriant scenes of magnificence
and fertility, being ornamented by a great variety of beautiful villas,
the works of Palladio and his disciples. The verdure of the meadows and
gardens here is not surpassed by that of England.

The Venetian nobility, I am told, live with less restraint, and
entertain their friends with greater freedom, at their villas, than at
their palaces in town. It is natural to suppose, that a Venetian must
feel peculiar satisfaction when his affairs permit him to enjoy the
exhilarating view of green fields, and to breathe the free air of the
country,

    As one who long in populous city pent,
    Where houses thick, and sewers, annoy the air,
    Forth issuing on a summer’s morn, to breathe
    Among the pleasant villages and farms
    Adjoin’d, from each thing met conceives delight.
    The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
    Or dairy; each rural sight, each rural sound.

I confess, for my own part, I never felt the beauty of those lines of
Milton with greater sensibility, than when I passed through the charming
country which is watered by the Brenta, after having been pent up in
the terraqueous town of Venice. As one reason which induced his Grace
to visit Padua at this time was, that he might pay his duty to his R——
H—— the D—— of G——, we waited on that prince as soon as we had his
permission. His R—— H—— has been here for some time with his D——ss. He
was very ill at Venice, and has been advised to remove to this place for
the benefit of the air. It is with much satisfaction I add, that he is
now out of danger, a piece of intelligence with which you will have it in
your power to give pleasure to many people in England.

No city in the world has less affinity with the country than Venice, and
few can have more than Padua; for great part of the circuit within the
walls is unbuilt, and the town in general so thinly inhabited, that grass
is seen in many places in the interstices of the stones with which the
streets are paved. The houses are built on porticoes, which, when the
town was well inhabited, and in a flourishing condition, may have had a
magnificent appearance; but, in its present state, they rather give it a
greater air of melancholy and of gloom.

The Franciscan church, dedicated to St. Antonio, the great patron of
this city, was the place we were first led to by the Cicerone of our
inn. The body of this holy person is inclosed in a sarcophagus, under an
altar in the middle of the chapel, and is said to emit a very agreeable
and refreshing flavour. Pious Catholics believe this to be the natural
effluvia of the saint’s body; while Heretics assert, that the perfume
(for a perfume there certainly is) proceeds from certain balsams rubbed
on the marble every morning, before the votaries come to pay their
devotions. I never presume to give an opinion on contested points of
this kind; but I may be allowed to say, that if this sweet odour really
proceeds from the holy Franciscan, he emits a very different smell from
any of the brethren of that order whom I ever had an opportunity of
approaching.

The walls of this church are covered with votive offerings of ears, eyes,
arms, legs, noses, and every part almost of the human body, in token of
cures performed by this saint; for whatever part has been the seat of the
disease, a representation of it is hung up in silver or gold, according
to the gratitude and wealth of the patient.

At a small distance from this church is a place called the School of St.
Antonio. Here many of the actions of the Saint are painted in fresco;
some of them by Titian. Many miracles of a very extraordinary nature are
here recorded. I observed one in particular, which, if often repeated,
might endanger the peace of families. The Saint thought proper to loosen
the tongue of a new-born child, and endue it with the faculty of speech;
on which the infant, with an imprudence natural to its age, declared, in
an audible voice, before a large company, who was its _real_ father. The
miracles attributed to this celebrated Saint greatly exceed in number
those recorded by the Evangelists of our Saviour; and although it is not
asserted, that St. Antonio has as yet raised himself from the dead, yet
his admirers here record things of him which are almost equivalent. When
an impious Turk had secretly placed fireworks under the chapel, with an
intention to blow it up, they affirm, that St. Antonio hallooed three
times from his marble coffin, which terrified the infidel, and discovered
the plot. This miracle is the more miraculous, as the Saint’s tongue was
cut out, and is actually preserved in a chrystal vessel, and shewn as a
precious relic to all who have a curiosity to see it. I started this as
a difficulty which seemed to bear a little against the authenticity of
the miracle; and the ingenious person to whom the objection was made,
seemed at first somewhat nonplussed; but, after recollecting himself,
he observed, that this, which at first seemed an objection, was really
a confirmation of the fact; for the Saint was not said to have spoken,
but only to have hallooed, which a man can do without a tongue; but if
his tongue had not been cut out, added he, there is no reason to doubt
that the Saint would have revealed the Turkish plot in plain articulate
language.

From the Tower of the Franciscan church we had a very distinct view of
the beautiful country which surrounds Padua. All the objects, at a little
distance, seemed delightful and flourishing; but every thing under our
eyes indicated wretchedness and decay.



LETTER XXIV.


                                                                   Padua.

The next church, in point of rank, but far superior in point of
architecture, is that of St. Justina, built from a design of Palladio,
and reckoned, by some people, one of the most elegant he ever gave. St.
Justina is said to have suffered martyrdom where the church is built,
which was the reason of erecting it on that particular spot. It would
have been fortunate for the pictures in this church if the Saint had
suffered on a piece of drier ground, for they seem considerably injured
by the damps which surround the place where it now stands. There is a
wide area in front of the church, called the Prato della Valle, where
booths and shops are erected for all kinds of merchandise during the
fairs. Part of this, which is never allowed to be profaned by the buyers
and sellers, is called Campo Santo, because there a great number of
Christian martyrs are said to have been put to death.

St. Justina’s church is adorned with many altars, embellished with
sculpture. The pavement is remarkably rich, being a kind of Mosaic work,
of marble of various colours. Many other precious materials are wrought
as ornaments to this church, but there is one species of jewels in which
it abounds, more than, perhaps, any church in Christendom; which is, the
bones of martyrs. They have here a whole well full, belonging to those
who were executed in the Prato delta Valle; and what is of still greater
value, the Benedictines, to whom this church belongs, assert, that they
are also in possession of the bodies of the two evangelists St. Matthew
and St. Luke. The Franciscans belonging to a convent at Venice dispute
the second of those two great prizes, and declare, that _they_ are
possessed of the true body of St. Luke, this in St. Justina’s church
being only an imposture. The matter was referred to the Pope, who gave a
decision in favour of one of the bodies; but this does not prevent the
proprietors of the other from still persisting in their original claim,
so that there is no likelihood of the dispute being finally determined
till the day of judgment.

The hall of the Town-house of Padua is one of the largest I ever saw.
From the best guess I could make, after stepping it, I should think it
about three hundred English feet long, by one hundred in breadth: the
emblematic and astrological paintings, by Giotto, are much decayed. This
immense hall is on the second floor, and is ornamented with the busts and
statues of some eminent persons. The Cenotaph of Livy, the historian,
who was a native of Padua, is erected here. The University, formerly so
celebrated, is now, like every thing else in this city, on the decline;
the Theatre anatomy could contain five or six hundred students, but the
voice of the Professor is like that of him who crieth in the wilderness.
The licentious spirit of the students, which formerly was carried such
unwarrantable lengths, and made it dangerous to walk in the streets of
this city at night, is now entirely extinct: it has gradually declined
with the numbers of the students. Whether the ardour for literature, for
which the students of this university were distinguished, has abated in
the same proportion, I cannot determine; but I am informed, that by far
the greater number of the young men who now attend the university, are
designed for the priesthood, and apply to the study of divinity as a
science, for comprehending and preaching the mysterious parts of which, a
very small portion of learning has been observed to succeed better, than
a great deal.

There is a cloth manufactory in this city; and I was told, that the
inhabitants of Venice, not excepting the nobles, wear no other cloth
than what is made here. This particular manufactory, it may therefore be
supposed, succeeds very well; but the excessive number of beggars with
which this place swarms, is a strong proof that trade and manufactures in
general are by no means in a flourishing condition. In the course of my
life I never saw such a number of beggars at one time, as attacked us at
the church of St. Antonio. The D—— of H—— fell into a mistake, analogous
to that of Sable in the Funeral, who complains, that the more money he
gave his mourners to look sad, the merrier they looked. His G—gave all
he had in his pocket to the clamorous multitude which surrounded him,
on condition that they would hold their tongues, and leave us; on which
they became more numerous, and more vociferous than before. Strangers who
visit Padua will do well, therefore, to observe the gospel injunction,
and perform their charities in secret.



LETTER XXV.


                                                                  The Po.

In my letter from Padua I neglected to mention her high pretensions to
antiquity: she claims Antenor, the Trojan, as her founder; and this claim
is supported by classical authority. In the first book of the Æneid,
Venus complains to Jupiter, that her son Æneas is still a vagabond on the
seas, while Antenor has been permitted to establish himself, and build a
city in Italy.

    Hic tamen ille urbem Patavi sedesque locavit.

Lucan also, in his Pharsalia, describing the augur who read in the skies
the events of that decisive day, alludes to the same story of Antenor;

    Euganeo, si vera fides memorantibus, augur
    Colle sedens, Aponus terris ubi fumifer exit,
    Atque Antenorei dispergitur unda Timavi
    Venit summa dies, geritur res maxima dixit;
    Impia concurrunt Pompeii et Cæsaris arma.

Some modern critics have asserted, that the two poets have been guilty
of a geographical mistake, as the river Timavus empties itself into the
Adriatic Gulph near Trieste, about a hundred miles from Padua; and that
the Aponus is near Padua, and about the same distance from Timavus.

If, therefore, Antenor built a city where the river Timavus rushes into
the sea, that city must have been situated at a great distance from where
Padua now stands. The Paduan antiquarians, therefore, accuse Virgil,
without scruple, of this blunder, that they may retain the Trojan Prince
as their ancestor. But those who have more regard for the character of
Virgil than the antiquity of Padua, insist upon it, that the poet was in
the right, and that the city which Antenor built, was upon the Banks of
Timavus, and exactly a hundred miles from modern Padua. As for Lucan, he
is left in the lurch by both sides, though, in my poor opinion, we may
naturally suppose, that one of the streams which run into Timavus was,
at the time he wrote, called Aponus, which vindicates the poet, without
weakening the relation between the Paduans and Antenor.

The inhabitants of Padua themselves seem to have been a little afraid
of trusting their claim entirely to classical authority; for an old
sarcophagus having been dug up in the year 1283, with an unintelligible
inscription upon it, this was declared to be the tomb of Antenor, and was
placed in one of the streets, and surrounded with a ballustrade; and, _to
put the matter out of doubt_, a Latin inscription assures the reader,
that it contains the body of the renowned Antenor, who, having escaped
from Troy, had drove the Euganei out of the country, and built this
identical city of Padua.

Though the Paduans find that there are people ill-natured enough
to assert, that this sarcophagus does not contain the bones of the
illustrious Trojan, yet they can defy the malice of those cavillers to
prove, that they belong to any other person; upon which negative proof,
joined to what has been mentioned above, they rest the merit of their
pretensions.

After remaining a few days at Padua, we returned to the village of
Doglio, where we had left our vessel. We stopped, and visited some of the
villas on the banks of the Brenta. The apartments are gay and spacious,
and must be delightful in summer; but none of the Italian houses seem
calculated for the winter, which, nevertheless, I am informed, is
sometimes as severe in this country as in England.

Having embarked in our little vessel, we soon entered a canal, of about
twenty-two Italian miles in length, which communicates with the Po, and
we were drawn along, at a pretty good rate, by two horses. We passed
last night in the vessel, as we shall this; for there is no probability
of our reaching Ferrara till to-morrow. The banks of this famous river
are beautifully fertile. Finding that we could keep up with the vessel,
we amused ourselves the greatest part of the day in walking. The
pleasure we feel on this classical ground, and the interest we take in
all the objects around, is not altogether derived from their own native
beauties; a great part of it arises from the magic colouring of poetical
description.

The accounts we have had lately of the King of Prussia’s bad health, I
suppose, are not true; or if they are, I have good hopes he will recover:
I found them on the calm and serene aspect which Eridanus wears at
present, which is not the case when the fate of any very great person
is depending. You remember, what a rage he was in, and what a tumult he
raised, immediately before the death of Julius Cæsar.

    Proluit insano contorquens vortice sylvas
    Fluviorum Rex Eridanus, camposque per omnes:
    Cum stabulis armenta tulit.

Dryden translates these lines,

    Then rising in his might, the King of Floods
    Rush’d thro’ the forests, tore the lofty woods;
    And, rolling onward, with a sweepy sway,
    Bore houses, herds, and labouring hinds away.

Rising in his might is happy, but the rest is not so simple as the
original, and much less expressive; there wants the _insano contorquens
vortice_ sylvas.

It is not surprising that the Po is so much celebrated by the Roman
poets, since it is, unquestionably, the finest river in Italy.—

    Where every stream in heavenly numbers flows.

It seems to have been the favourite river of Virgil:

    Gemina auratus taurino cornua vultu
    Eridanus, quo non alius per pinguia culta
    In mare purpureum violentior influit amnis.

And Mr. Addison, at the sight of this river, is inspired with a degree of
enthusiasm, which does not always animate his poetry.

    Fired with a thousand raptures, I survey,
    Eridanus thro’ flowery meadows stray;
    The King of Floods! that, rolling o’er their plains,
    The towering Alps of half their moisture drains,
    And, proudly swoln with a whole winter’s snows,
    Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows.

Notwithstanding all that the Latin poets, and, in imitation of them,
those of other nations, have sung of the Po, I am convinced that no river
in the world has been so well sung as the Thames.

    Thou too great father of the British floods!
    With joyful pride survey’st our lofty woods;
    Where tow’ring oaks their growing honours rear,
    And future navies on thy shores appear,
    Not Neptune’s self, from all her streams, receives
    A wealthier tribute, than to thine he gives.
    No seas so rich, so gay no banks appear,
    No lake so gentle, and no spring so clear;
    Nor Po so swells the fabling poets lays,
    While led along the skies his current strays,
    As thine, which visits Windsor’s fam’d abodes.

If you are still refractory, and stand up for the panegyrists of the
Po, I must call Denham in aid of my argument, and I hope you will have
the taste and candour to acknowledge, that the following are, beyond
comparison, the noblest lines that ever were written on a river.

    My eye descending from the hill, surveys
    Where Thames among the wanton vallies strays,
    Thames, the most loved of all the Ocean’s sons,
    By his old sire, to his embraces runs;
    Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
    Like mortal Life to meet Eternity.
    Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,
    Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold;
    His genuine and less guilty wealth t’explore,
    Search not his bottom, but survey his shore;
    O’er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing,
    And hatches plenty for th’ ensuing spring;
    Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
    Like mothers which their children overlay.
    Nor with a sudden and impetuous wave,
    Like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.
    No unexpected inundations spoil
    The mower’s hopes, nor mock the plowman’s toil:
    But, godlike, his unweary’d bounty flows:
    First loves to do, then loves the good he does.
    Nor are his blessings to his banks confined,
    But free and common, as the sea or wind;
    When he, to boast, or to disperse his stores,
    Full of the tribute of his grateful shores,
    Visits the world, and in his flying towers,
    Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours;
    Finds wealth where ’tis, bestows it where it wants,
    Cities in deserts, woods in cities plants.
    So that, to us, no thing, no place is strange,
    While his fair bosom is the world’s exchange.
    O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream,
    My great example, as it is my theme!
    Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
    Strong without rage, without o’erflowing full.
    Heaven her Eridanus no more shall boast,
    Whose fame in thine, like lesser current, ’s lost.

You will suspect that I am hard pushed to make out a letter, when I send
you such long quotations from the poets. This, however, is not my only
reason. While we remain on the Po, rivers naturally become the subject of
my letter. I asserted, that the Thames has been more sublimely sung than
the favourite river of classical authors, and I wished to lay some of my
strongest proofs before you at once, to save you the trouble of turning
to the originals.



LETTER XXVI.


                                                                 Ferrara.

We arrived here early this morning. The magnificent streets and number of
fine buildings shew that this has formerly been a rich and flourishing
city. The present inhabitants, however, who are very few in proportion to
the extent of the town, bear every mark of poverty.

The happiness of the subjects in a despotic government depends much more
on the personal character of the sovereign, than in a free state; and the
subjects of little Princes, who have but a small extent of territory, are
more affected by the good and bad qualities of those Princes, than the
inhabitants of great and extensive empires. I had frequent opportunities
of making this remark in Germany, where, without having seen the Prince,
or heard his character, one may often discover his dispositions and turn
of mind, from examining into the circumstances and general situation
of the people. When the Prince is vain and luxurious, as he considers
himself equal in rank, so he endeavours to vie in magnificence with
more powerful sovereigns, and those attempts always terminate in the
oppression and poverty of his subjects; but when the Prince, on the
other hand, is judicious, active, and benevolent, as the narrow limits
of his territories make it easy for him to be acquainted with the real
situation and true interest of his subjects, his good qualities operate
more directly and effectually for their benefit, than if his dominions
were more extensive, and he himself obliged to govern by the agency of
ministers.

The Duchy of Ferrara was formerly governed by its own Dukes, many of
whom happened to be of the character last mentioned, and the Ferrarese
was, for several generations, one of the happiest and most flourishing
spots in Italy. In the year 1597 it was annexed to the Ecclesiastical
State, and has ever since been gradually falling into poverty and decay.
It must be owing to some essential error in the Government, when a town
like this, situated in a fertile soil, upon a navigable river near the
Adriatic, remains in poverty. Except the change of its Sovereign, all the
other causes, which I have heard assigned for the poverty of Ferrara,
existed in the days of its prosperity.

Though the citizens of Ferrara have not been able to preserve their trade
and industry, yet they still retain an old privilege of wearing swords by
their sides. This privilege extends to the lowest mechanics, who strut
about with great dignity. Fencing is the only science in a flourishing
condition in this town, which furnishes all the towns in Italy with
skilful fencing-masters. Ferrara was famous formerly for a manufactory
of sword-blades. The Scotch Highlanders, who had a greater demand for
swords, and were nicer in the choice of their blades than any other
people, used to get them from a celebrated maker in this town, of the
name of Andrea di Ferrara. The best kind of broadswords are still called
by the Highlanders True Andrew Ferraras.

There are two brass statues opposite to one of the principal churches.
One is of Nicholo Marquis of Este, and the other of Borso of Este, the
first Duke of Ferrara, whose memory is still held in great veneration in
this city. I had the curiosity to go to the Benedictine church, merely
to see the place where Ariosto lies buried. The degree of importance
in which men are held by their cotemporaries and by posterity, is very
different. This fine fanciful old bard has done more honour to modern
Italy, than forty-nine in fifty of the Popes and Princes to which she has
given birth, and while those, who were the gaze of the multitude during
their lives, are now entirely forgotten, his fame increases with the
progress of time. In his lifetime, perhaps, his importance, in the eyes
of his countrymen, arose from the protection of the family of Este; now
he gives importance, in the eyes of all Europe, to the illustrious names
of his patrons, and to the country where he was born.

The Emperor, and two of his brothers, lodged lately at the inn where we
now are. Our landlord is so vain of this, that he cannot be prevailed
on to speak on any other subject; he has entertained me with a thousand
particulars about his illustrious guests; it is impossible he should
ever forget those anecdotes, for he has been constantly repeating them
ever since the Royal Brothers left his house. I asked him what we could
have for supper. He answered, That we should sup in the very same room
in which his Imperial Majesty had dined. I repeated my question; and
he replied, he did not believe there were three more affable Princes in
the world. I said, I hoped supper would be soon ready; and he told me,
that the Archduke was fond of fricassee, but the Emperor preferred a fowl
plain roasted. I said, with an air of impatience, that I should be much
obliged to him if he would send in supper. He bowed, and walked to the
door; but, before he disappeared, he turned about and assured me, that
although his Majesty ate no more than an ordinary man, yet he paid like
an Emperor.

To perpetuate the memory of this great event, of the Emperor and his two
brothers having dined at this house, the landlord got an Ecclesiastic of
his acquaintance to compose the following pompous inscription, which is
now engraven upon a stone at the door of his inn.

    QUOD
    TABERNA HÆC DIVERSORIA
    HOSPITES HABUERIT TRES FRATRES
    CONSILIIS, MORIBUS, ET IN DEUM PIETATE,
    PRÆCLAROS,
    MARIÆ THERES. BOHEMIÆ ET HUNG.
    REGINÆ, &c. &c.
    ET TANTÆ MATRIS VIRTUTI SIMILLIMOS
    MAXIMILIANUM AUSTRIÆ ARCHIDUCEM,
    CENÆ ET QUIETATIS CAUSA,
    TERTIO CALEND. JUNII M.DCC.LXXV.
    DIE POSTERO PRANDIUM SUMPTUROS
    PETRUM LEOP. MAGN. HETRUC. DUCEM,
    ET JOSEPHUM SECUND. ROM. IMPERATOREM,
    SECULI NOSTRI ORNAMENTUM ET DECUS,
    NE TEMPORIS LONGITUDO
    HUJUSCE LOCI FELICITATEM OBLITERET
    PERENNE HOC MONUMENTUM.

No three persons ever acquired immortality on easier terms: it has only
cost them one night’s lodging at an indifferent inn, when better quarters
could not be had.



LETTER XXVII.


                                                                 Bologna.

When we left Ferrara, our landlord insisted on our taking six horses to
each chaise, on account of the badness of the roads, the soil about the
town being moist and heavy. I attempted to remonstrate that four would be
sufficient; but he cut me short, by protesting, that the roads were so
very deep, that he would not allow the best friend he had in the world,
not even the Emperor himself, were he there in person, to take fewer than
six. There was no more to be said after this; the same argument would
have been irresistible, had he insisted on our taking twelve.

As you draw near to Bologna, the country gradually improves in
cultivation; and, for some miles before you enter the town, seems one
continued garden. The vineyards are not divided by hedges, but by
rows of elms and mulberry trees; the vines hanging in a most beautiful
picturesque manner, in festoons from one tree to another. This country is
not only fertile in vines, but likewise in corn, olives, and pasturage,
and has, not without foundation, acquired the name of Bologna la Grassa.

This town is well built, and populous; the number of inhabitants
amounting to seventy, or perhaps eighty thousand. The houses in general
have lofty porticoes, which would have a better effect if the streets
were not so narrow; but in this particular, magnificence is sacrificed to
conveniency; for, in Italy, shade is considered as a luxury.

The Duchy of Bologna had conditions granted to it, upon submitting to
the Papal dominion. Those conditions have been observed with a degree
of punctuality and good faith, which many zealous Protestants would not
expect in the Church of Rome.

Bologna retains the name of a republic, sends an ambassador to the Pope’s
court, and the word Libertas is inscribed on the arms and coin of the
State, with the flattering capitals S. P. Q. B. The civil government and
police of the town is allowed to remain in the hands of the magistrates,
who are chosen by the Senate, which formerly consisted of forty members;
but since this republic came under the protection, as it is called, of
the Pope, he thought proper to add ten more, but the whole fifty still
retain the name of the Quaranta. Mankind, in general, are more alarmed
by a change of name, in things which they have long regarded with
veneration, than by a real change in the nature of the things themselves.
The Pope may have had some good political reason for augmenting the
number of the council to fifty; but he could have none for calling them
the Council of Fifty, if the people chose rather to call fifty men
assembled together the Council of _Forty_. One of the Senators presides
in the Senate, and is called the Gonfalonier; from his carrying the
standard (Gonfalone) of the republic. He is chief magistrate, is attended
by guards, and is constantly at the palace, or near it, to be ready on
any emergency; but he remains only two months in office, and the Senators
take it by turns.

In the midst of all this appearance of independency, a Cardinal Legate
from Rome governs this republic: he is appointed by the Pope, with a
Vice Legate, and other assistants. The orders which the Legate issues,
are supposed to be with the approbation of the Senate; at least, they
are never disputed by that prudent body of men. The office, which is
of higher dignity than any other now in the gift of the Court of Rome,
continues for three years: at the expiration of that time, his Holiness
either appoints a new Legate, or confirms the old one in the office for
three years longer.

This ecclesiastical Viceroy lives in great magnificence, and has a
numerous suite of pages, equerries, and halberdiers, who attend him in
the city. When he goes into the country, he is accompanied by guards on
horseback.

The Gonfalonier and magistrates regulate all the usual matters which
regard the police, and decide, in common causes, according to the laws
and ancient forms of the republic; but there is no doubt that, in affairs
of great importance, and, indeed, as often as he chooses to interfere,
the Cardinal Legate influences decisions. This must be mortifying to
the Senators and noble families, but is less felt by the people in
general, who have every appearance of living under a mild and beneficent
Government.

The inhabitants of Bologna carry on a very considerable trade in silks
and velvets, which are manufactured here in great perfection. The country
produces immense quantities of oil, wine, flax, and hemp; and furnishes
all Europe with sausages, Macaroni, liqueurs, and essences. The people
seem to be industrious, and to be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their
labour; the markets are most plentifully supplied with provisions; fruit
is to be had in great variety, and all excellent in its kind; the common
wine of the country is a light white wine of an agreeable taste, which
strangers prefer to any of the French or German wines to be had here.
Those who are not pleased with the entertainment they meet with at the
inns in this city, it will be a difficult matter to please; they must be
possessed of a degree of such nicety, both in their palates and tempers,
as will render them exceedingly troublesome to themselves and others, not
only in their travels through Italy, but in the whole course of their
journey through life.

There are a great number of palaces in this city. What is called the
Public Palace, is, by far, the most spacious, but not the most elegant.
In this the Cardinal Legate is lodged. There are also apartments for the
Gonfalonier; and halls, or chambers, for some of the courts of justice.
This building, though of a gloomy and irregular form without, contains
some very magnificent apartments, and a few good pictures: the most
esteemed are, a large one, by Guido, of the Virgin, and the infant Jesus,
seated on the rainbow; a Sampson, by Guido also, refreshing himself with
the water which issues from the jaw-bone with which he has just defeated
the Philistines; and a St. John the Baptist, by Raphael, a duplicate of
that in the Palais Royal at Paris, but thought, by some connoisseurs,
greatly inferior. For my part, I think it is to be regretted, that this
great painter did not employ the time he spent on one of them, at least,
on some subject more worthy of his talents. A single figure, unemployed,
can never please so much as a groupe, occupied in some interesting
action. It is a pity that a painter, capable, even in a moderate degree,
of exciting the passions, should confine his talents to solitary figures.
How much more unworthy of _him_ who possessed all the sublimity and
pathos of the art!

On his arrival at this town, the first object which strikes the eye of
a stranger, is a noble marble fountain, in the area before the Palazzo
Publico. The principal figure is a statue of Neptune, eleven feet in
height; one of his hands is stretched out before him, in the other he
holds the Trident. The body and limbs are finely proportioned, the
anatomy perfect, the character of the countenance severe and majestic.
This figure of Neptune, as well as all the others of boys, dolphins, and
syrens, which surround it, are in bronze. The whole is the workmanship
of Giovanni di Bologna, and is highly esteemed; yet there seems to be an
impropriety in making water flow in streams from the breasts of the sea
nymphs, or syrens.

Over the entrance of the Legate’s palace, is a bronze statue of a Pope.
The tiara, and other parts of the Papal uniform, are not so favourable to
the sculptor’s genius, as the naked simplicity in which Neptune appears.
A female traveller, however, not extravagantly fond of the fine arts,
would rather be observed admiring the sculptor’s skill in imitating the
folds of the Sacerdotal robes, than his anatomical accuracy in forming
the majestic proportions of the Sea Divinity.



LETTER XXVIII.


                                                                 Bologna.

The university of Bologna is one of the most ancient and most celebrated
seats of literature in Europe; and the academy for the arts and sciences,
founded by the Count Marsigli at the beginning of the present century,
is sufficient, of itself, to engage strangers to visit this city, if
there was nothing else worthy of their curiosity. Over the gate of this
magnificent edifice is the following liberal inscription:

    BONONIENSE SCIENTIARUM ATQUE ARTIUM
    INSTITUTUM AD PUBLICUM TOTIUS
    ORBIS USUM.

Here is a most valuable library, in three spacious rooms, where any
person may study, and have the use of the books, four hours every day;
also apartments for the students of sculpture, painting, architecture,
chemistry, anatomy, astronomy, and every branch of natural philosophy.
They are all ornamented with designs, models, instruments, and every
kind of apparatus requisite for illustrating those sciences. There are
also Professors, who regularly read lectures, and instruct the students
in those various parts of knowledge. There is a hall, full of models in
architecture and fortification, a valuable collection of medals, and
another of natural curiosities, as animals, earths, ores, minerals,
and a complete collection of specimens, to assist the study of the
Materia Medica, and every part of Natural History. A gallery of statues,
consisting of a few originals, and very fine casts of the best statues
in Italy. I went one evening to the academy of painting and sculpture;
two men stood in different attitudes on a table, in the middle of the
room; about fifty students sat in the amphitheatre around them, some
drawing their figures in chalks, others modelling them in wax, or clay.
As each student viewed the two men from different points, the variety
of manner in the different students, together with the alteration in the
Chiaro Scuro under each point of view, gave every drawing the appearance
of being done from a different figure. Nothing can be so advantageous to
the young student as this kind of exercise, which is sometimes practised
by daylight, and sometimes by the light of lamps, and must give a fuller
idea of the effect of light and shade than any other method.

Honorary premiums are distributed every year among the artists, for the
best designs in painting, sculpture, and architecture.

The Anatomical Theatre is adorned with statues of celebrated physicians;
and in the Museum, which belongs to it, there are abundance of anatomical
preparations; also a complete suite of anatomical figures in wax. A man
and woman in the natural state; the same with the skin and cellular
membrane removed, the external muscles of the whole body and limbs
appearing. In the subsequent figures the more external muscles are
gradually removed, till nothing but the simple skeleton remains. These
figures are very well rendered, preserving the natural appearance and
situation of the muscles and blood-vessels, with as much exactness as
could be expected in a work of this nature. There are also models in wax,
of particular parts, and of several of the viscera of the human body
separately; yet those waxen models could not stand in comparison with the
preparations of the real parts in Dr. Hunter’s museum. If brought to that
test, the Bologna waxworks, though admirable in their kind, would appear
as their best casts of the Vatican Apollo and Laocoon would, if placed
beside the originals. Indeed, the real preparations to be seen here,
are far inferior to those of that great anatomist; who is now possessed
of the most complete, and most accurate collection of anatomical
preparations, that ever was made by human skill and industry. We have
faithfully performed our duty in visiting all the churches and palaces of
this city, which contain some of the highest specimens of art; yet, as
the recital might be less amusing than the tour itself, I shall exercise
your patience with great moderation on that subject.

The church of St. Petronius forms part of that large, irregular square,
in which the fountain, formerly mentioned, stands; it is the largest
in Bologna. In the pavement of this church, Cassini drew his meridian
line; and within the walls of this same edifice the Emperor Charles the
Fifth was crowned. Those circumstances may interest the astronomer, and
the historian; but the statue of a soldier, which stands in one of the
chapels, engages the attention of the pious Catholic. This man, being at
play, and in danger of losing all his money, offered up a very fervent
prayer to the Virgin Mary, for a little better luck; to which she, who
never shewed any favour to gamesters, turned a deaf ear. When he found
that his bad fortune continued, this furious wretch drew his sword, and
wounded both the Virgin, and the Infant in her arms. He instantly, as
you may suppose, fell to the ground, deprived of motion; he was carried
to prison, and condemned to an ignominious and painful death. While he
remained under confinement, he came to a proper sense of his wickedness;
and the blessed Virgin was so much softened by his repentance, that she
restored him to the life of his limbs; and the Judges, taking the hint,
gave him a full pardon. As a _satisfactory_ proof of this memorable
event, they shew the identical sword with which the assault was made.

A Dominican convent, situated on the top of a hill, about three miles
from this city, is in possession of a portrait of the Virgin, by St.
Luke. It is not perfectly known how it came there; any enquiry of
that nature savours of heresy, and might give offence. The people in
general are persuaded of its originality, and happy in the honour of
such a neighbour. This portrait has wrought many miracles in favour of
the inhabitants of Bologna. A curious gallery, open to the south, and
closed by a wall to the north, is built all the way from this city to
the convent. On the open side it is supported by a long row of pillars,
and was erected by voluntary contribution, in honour of the Virgin, and
for the conveniency of pilgrims. This long colonade is about twelve feet
in breadth, from the pillars to the wall, and of a convenient height;
all the communities of the town walk once a year, in solemn procession,
to the convent, and bring the holy picture to visit the city. It is
carried through the principal streets, attended by every inhabitant
who can afford to purchase a wax taper. During this procession, the
bells continue ringing, the cannon are fired; and the troops under arms
observe the same ceremonies, when the picture passes, as if it were
Commander in Chief of the forces. The common people imagine, the picture
is extremely fond of this annual visit to the town of Bologna; they even
are convinced, that, if it were not carried, it would descend from the
frame, and walk the whole way on foot; but they do not desire to see the
experiment made, both because it might disoblige the Virgin, and because,
if the picture were once set a walking, there is no knowing where it
would stop.

Though the nobility of Bologna are not now very rich, many of their
palaces are furnished in a magnificent taste, and contain paintings of
great value. The palaces were built, and ornamented, when the proprietors
were richer, and when the finest works of architecture and painting
could be procured on easier terms than at present. The galleries, and
apartments, are spacious and magnificent; yet there are circumstances in
the most splendid, that must hurt the eye of those who are accustomed to
that perfect exactness in finishing which prevails in English houses. The
glass of the windows of some palaces is divided into little square panes,
which are joined together by lead; and the floors of all are so very
indifferently laid, that you often feel a loose brick shaking under your
feet as you walk through the finest apartments.

The most precious ornaments of the palaces are the paintings,
particularly those of the celebrated masters which this city had the
honour of producing. Raphael is generally allowed to have excelled all
painters in the sublimity of his ideas, the grouping of his figures, the
beauty of his heads, the elegance of his forms, and the correctness of
his outlines; yet, in the opinion of some, he has oftener imitated those
noble ideas of beauty, transmitted to us by the Greek sculptors, than
what he saw, or could observe, in nature. Those who hold this opinion
assert, that the best masters of the Lombard School studied, with equal
assiduity, the elegance of the antique statues, and the simplicity of
nature; and from this combined attention to both, with geniuses less
sublime, and not so universal, as that of the Roman painter, they have
produced works equal, if not superior in some respects, to his. In all
this, I beg you may keep in your remembrance, that I am not affecting to
give any opinion of my own, but merely repeating the sentiments of others.

Next to Rome itself, there is, perhaps, no town in the world so rich in
paintings as Bologna. The churches and palaces, besides many admired
pieces by other masters, are full of the works of the great masters who
were natives of this city. I must not lead you among those masterpieces;
it is not for so poor a judge as I am to point the peculiar excellencies
of the Caraccis, Dominichino, Albano, or compare the energy of Guercino’s
pencil with the grace of Guido’s. With regard to the last, I shall
venture to say, that the graceful air of his young men, the elegant
forms, and mild persuasive devotion, of his Madonas; the art with which,
to all the inviting loveliness of female features, he joins all the
gentleness and modesty which belong to the female character, are the
peculiar excellencies of this charming painter.

It requires no knowledge in the art of painting, no connoisseurship, to
discover those beauties in the works of Guido; all who have eyes, and
a heart, must see and feel them. But the picture more admired than all
the rest, and considered, by the judges, as his master-piece, owes its
eminence to a different kind of merit; it can claim none from any of the
circumstances above enumerated. The piece I mean is in the Sampieri
palace, and distinguished by a silk curtain, which hangs before it. The
subject is, the Repentance of St. Peter, and consists of two figures,
that of the Saint who weeps, and a young apostle who endeavours to
comfort him. The only picture at Bologna, which can dispute celebrity
with this, is that of St. Cecilia, in the church of St. Georgio in Monte.
This picture is greatly praised by Mr. Addison, and is reckoned one of
Raphael’s capital pieces. If I had nothing else to convince me that I had
no judgment in painting, this would be sufficient. I have examined it
over and over with great attention, and a real desire of discovering its
superlative merit; and I have the mortification to find, that I cannot
perceive it.—After this confession, I presume you will not desire to hear
any thing farther from me on the subject of painting.



LETTER XXIX.


                                                                  Ancona.

In our way from Bologna to this place, we passed through Ravenna, a
disagreeable town, though at one period the seat of empire; for, after
Attila had left Italy, Valentinian chose Ravenna, in preference to
Rome, for his residence, that he might always be ready to repel the
Huns and other Barbarians, who poured from the banks of the Danube,
and prevent their penetrating into Italy. The same reason afterwards
induced Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, to keep his court at this
city of Ravenna, after he had defeated and killed Odoacer, and assumed
the title of King of Rome. The ruins of his palace and his tomb now form
part of the antiquities of Ravenna; among which I shall not detain you
a moment, but proceed to the river of Pisatello, the famous Rubicon,
which lies between this town and Rimini, and was the ancient boundary
between Italy and Cisalpine Gaul. No Roman, returning to Rome, could pass
in arms beyond this, without being deemed an enemy to his country. The
small town of Cesenate is situated near this brook, and the inhabitants
value themselves not a little upon their vicinity to so celebrated a
neighbour. But the people of Rimini have had the malice to endeavour to
deprive them of this satisfaction: they affirm, that the rivulet Lusa,
which is farther removed from Cesenate, and nearer to themselves, is the
true Rubicon. I have considered this controversy with all the attention
it merits; and I am of opinion, that the pretensions of Pisatello, which
is also called Rugone, are the best founded. That you may not suspect my
being influenced in my judgment by any motives but those of justice, I
beg leave to inform you, that it is a matter of no importance to me which
of the rivers is the real Rubicon, for we had the honour of passing
_both_ in our way to Rimini.

What Suetonius mentions concerning Cæsar’s hesitation when he arrived at
the banks of this river, does not agree with what the historian says a
little before. Quidam putant captum Imperii consuetudine, pensitatisque
suis & inimicorum viribus, usum occasione rapiendæ dominationis, quam
ætate prima concupisset. And this, he adds, was the opinion of Cicero,
who says, that Cæsar had often in his mouth this verse:

    Nam si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia
    Violandum est, aliis rebus pietatem colas.

It is most probable, that Cæsar took his resolution to cross the Rubicon
as soon as Antony and Curio arrived in his camp, and afforded him a
plausible pretext, by informing him and the army of the violent manner
in which they had been driven from Rome by the Consul Lentulus and the
adherents of Pompey. As for the phantom, which Suetonius informs us
determined the Dictator while he was yet in hesitation, we may either
consider it intirely as a fiction, or as a scene previously arranged by
himself to encourage his army, who may be supposed to have had scruples
in disobeying a decree of the Senate; which declared those persons
sacrilegious and parricides, devoting them at the same time to the
infernal gods, who should pass over this river in arms. Cæsar was not of
a character to be disturbed with religious scruples; he never delayed an
enterprise, we are told, on account of unfavourable omens. Ne religione
quidem ulla a quoquam incepto absterritus unquam vel retardatus est. Quum
immolanti aufugisset hostia, profectionem adversus Scipionem & Jubam non
distulit, &c. &c.

This hesitation, therefore, which is mentioned both by Suetonius and
Plutarch, has no resemblance with the ambitious and decisive character
of Julius Cæsar; the picture which Lucan has drawn of him has much more
spirit, and in all probability more likeness.

      Cæsar ut adversam superato gurgite ripam,
    Attigit, Hesperiæ vetitis & constitit arvis,
    Hic, ait, hic pacem, temerataque jura relinquo;
    Te, Fortuna, sequor; procul hinc jam fœdera sunto.
    Credidimus fatis, utendum est judice bello.
    Sic fatus, noctis tenebris rapit agmina ductor
    Impiger, & torto Ballaris verbere fundæ
    Ocyor, & missa Parthi post terga sagitta;
    Vicinumque minax invadit Ariminum—

Though Rimini is in a state of great decay, there are some monuments of
antiquity worthy the attention of the curious traveler. It is the ancient
Ariminum, the first town of which Cæsar took possession after passing
the Rubicon. In the market-place there is a kind of stone pedestal, with
an inscription, declaring, that on it Cæsar had stood and harangued his
army; but the authenticity of this is not ascertained to the satisfaction
of antiquarians.

We next passed through Pesaro, a very agreeable town, better built and
paved than the other towns we have seen on the Adriatic shore. In the
market-place there is a handsome fountain, and a statue of Pope Urban
the Eighth, in a sitting posture. In the churches of this town there are
some pictures by Baroccio, a painter, whose works some people esteem very
highly, and who is thought to have imitated the manner of Raphael and the
tints of Correggio, not without success. He lived about the middle of
the sixteenth century, and his colours seem to have improved by time. I
say, seem; for, in reality, all colours lose by time: but the operation
of sun and air on pictures bringing all the colours to a kind of unison,
occasions what is called Harmony, and is thought an improvement on some
pictures. This road, along the Adriatic coast, is extremely pleasant.
From Pesaro we proceeded to Fano, a little town, of nearly the same size,
but more populous. It derives its name from a Temple of Fortune [Fanum
Fortunæ], which stood here in the time of the Romans. All the towns of
Italy, however religious they may be, are proud of their connections with
those celebrated heathens. An image of the Goddess Fortune is erected on
the fountain in the market-place, and the inhabitants show some ruins,
which they pretend belong to the ancient Temple of Fortune; but what
cannot be disputed, are the ruins of a triumphal arch in white marble,
erected in honour of Augustus, and which was greatly damaged by the
artillery of Pope Paul the Second, when he besieged this town in the year
1463. The churches of this town are adorned with some excellent pictures;
there is one particularly in the cathedral church, by Guercino, which is
much admired. The subject is the marriage of Joseph: it consists of three
principal figures; the High Priest, Joseph, and the Virgin.

A few miles beyond Fano, we crossed the river Metro, where Claudius
Nero, the Roman Consul, defeated Asdrubal, the brother of Hannibal.
This was, perhaps, the most important victory that ever was gained by a
Roman General; for, had Asdrubal been victorious, or been able to effect
a junction with his brother, the troops he brought from Spain would
have become of triple value as soon as they were under the direction
of Hannibal; and it is not improbable that, with such a reinforcement,
that most consummate General would have put an end to the Roman State;
the glory of Carthage would have begun where that of Rome ended; and the
history of the world would have been quite different from what it is.
Horace seems sensible of the infinite importance of this victory, and
proclaims with a fine poetic enthusiasm, the obligations which Rome owed
to the family of the hero who obtained it, and the terror which, before
that time, Hannibal had spread over all Italy.

    Quid debeas, O Roma, Neronibus,
    Testis Metaurum flumen, et Asdrubal
      Devictus, et pulcher fugatis
        Ille dies Latio tenebris,
    Qui primus almâ risit adoreâ;
    Dirus per urbes Afer ut Italas,
      Ceu flamma per tedas, vel Eurus
        Per Siculas equitavit undas.

We came next to Senegallia, another sea-port town upon this coast.
There is nothing remarkable in this town, except during the time of the
fair, which is held there once a year, to which a great concourse of
merchants resort, from Venice, and all the towns on both sides of the
Adriatic; also from Sicily, and the Archipelago. England carries on a
very profitable trade with all the towns in Romagnia, from which our
merchants purchase great quantities of raw silk, and afterwards sell it,
when manufactured, to the inhabitants. They provide them also in English
cotton and linen cloths, of every kind.

The distance between Senegallia and Ancona, is about fifteen miles.
We travelled most of this road after it was dark, much against the
inclination of the Italian servants, who assured us, that it is often
infested with robbers. Those fellows, they told us, come sometimes from
the coast of Dalmatia, attack travellers on this road, carry what booty
can be got, on board their boats, which are never at a great distance,
and then sail to the opposite shore, or to some other part of the coast.
As we travelled slowly over the sandy road, some men, in sailors dresses,
overtook us. Our Italians were convinced they belonged to the gang of
pirates, or robbers, they had spoken of. Our company was too numerous to
be attacked; but they attempted, secretly, to cut off the trunks from the
chaises, without succeeding.



LETTER XXX.


                                                                  Ancona.

Ancona is said to have been founded by Syracusans who had fled from the
tyranny of Dionysius. The town originally was built upon a hill, but
the houses have been gradually extended down the face of the eminence,
towards the sea. The cathedral stands on the highest part; from whence
there is a most advantageous view of the town, the country, and the
sea. This church is supposed to be placed on the spot where a temple,
dedicated to Venus, formerly stood; the same mentioned by Juvenal, when
he speaks of a large turbot caught on this coast, and presented to the
Emperor Domitian.

    Incidit Adriaci spatium admirabile rhombi,
    Ante domum Veneris, quam Dorica sustinet Ancon.

The ascents and descents, and great inequality of the ground, will
prevent this from being a beautiful town, but it has much the appearance
of becoming a rich one. Some of the nobility have the firmness and good
sense to despise an ancient prejudice, and avowedly prosecute commerce.
New houses are daily building, and the streets are animated with the
bustle of trade. I met with several English traders on the Change, which
seemed crowded with sea-faring men, and merchants, from Dalmatia, Greece,
and many parts of Europe. There are great numbers of Jews established
in this city. I know not whether this race of men contribute greatly to
the prosperity of a country; but it is generally remarked, that those
places are in a thriving condition to which they resort. They have a
synagogue here, and although all religions are tolerated, theirs is the
only foreign worship allowed to be publicly exercised. The commerce of
Ancona has increased very rapidly of late years; and it is evident, that
the Popes who first thought of making it a free port, of encouraging
manufactures, and of building a mole, to render the harbour more safe,
have injured Venice in a more sensible manner, than those who thundered
bulls against that republic; but it is much to be questioned, whether the
former, by their encouragements to commerce, have augmented their own
spiritual importance in the same proportion they have the temporal riches
of their subjects.

Men who have received a liberal education, and have adopted liberal
sentiments previous to their engaging in any particular profession, will
carry these sentiments along with them through life: and, perhaps, there
is no profession in which they can be exercised with more advantage
and utility, than in that of a merchant. In this profession, a man of
the character above described, while he is augmenting his own private
fortune, will enjoy the agreeable reflection, that he is likewise
increasing the riches and power of his country, and giving bread to
thousands of his industrious countrymen. Of all professions, his is in
its nature the most independent: the merchant does not, like the soldier,
receive wages from his sovereign; nor, like the lawyer and physician,
from his fellow-subjects. His wealth often flows from foreign sources,
and he is under no obligation to those from whom it is derived. The habit
which he is in, of circulating millions, makes him lay less stress on a
few guineas, than the proprietors of the largest estates; and we daily
see, particularly in countries where this profession is not considered
as degrading, the commercial part of the inhabitants giving the most
exalted proofs of generosity and public spirit. But in countries where
nobody, who has the smallest claim to the title of a gentleman, can
engage in commerce without being thought to have demeaned himself, fewer
examples of this nature will be found: and in every country, it must be
acknowledged, that those who have not had the advantage of a liberal
education; who have been bred from their infancy to trade; who have been
taught to consider money as the most valuable of all things, and to value
themselves, and others, in proportion to the quantity they possess; who
are continually revolving in their minds, to the exclusion of all other
ideas, the various means of increasing their stock; to such people, money
becomes a more immediate and direct object of attention, than to any
other class of men; it swells in their imagination, is rated beyond its
real worth, and, at length, by an inversion of the Christian precept,
it is considered as the one thing needful, to be sought with the most
unremitting ardour, that all other things may be added thereunto.

In commercial towns, where every body finds employment, and is agitated
by the bustle of business, the minds of the inhabitants are apt to be
so much engrossed with the affairs of this world, as almost to forget
that there is another; and neither the true religion nor false ones, have
such hold of their minds, as in places where there is more poverty, and
less worldly occupation. In the first, they consider the remonstrances of
priests and confessors as interruptions to business; and, without daring
to despise the ceremonies of religion, like the speculative Sceptic or
Infidel, the hurried trader huddles them over as fast as possible, that
he may return to occupations more congenial with the habit of his mind.
The preachers may cry aloud, and spare not; they may lift up their voices
like trumpets, proclaiming the nothingness of this world, and all which
it contains; it is in vain. Men who have been trained to the pursuit of
money from their childhood, who have bestowed infinite pains to acquire
it, and who derive all their importance from it, must naturally have
a partiality for this world, where riches procure so many flattering
distinctions; and a prejudice against _that_ in which they procure none:
but in towns where there is little trade, and great numbers of poor
people, where they have much spare time, and small comfort in this world,
the clergy have an easier task, if they are tolerably assiduous, in
turning the attention of the inhabitants to the other. In Roman Catholic
towns of this description, we see the people continually pacing up and
down the streets, with wax tapers in their hands. They listen, with fond
attention, to all the priest relates concerning that invisible country,
that Land of Promise, where their hopes are placed; they ruminate, with
complacency, on the happy period when _they_ also shall have their good
things; they bear their present rags with patience, in expectation of the
white raiment and crowns of gold, which, they are told, await them; they
languish for the happiness of being promoted to that lofty situation,
from whence they may look down, with scorn, on those to whom they now
look up with envy, and where they shall retaliate on their wealthy
neighbours, whose riches, at present, they imagine, insult their own
poverty.

This town being exposed, by the nature of its commerce with Turkey, to
the contagious diseases which prevail in that country, Clement XII., as
soon as he determined to make it a free port, erected a lazzaretto. It
advances a little way into the sea, is in the form of a pentagon, and is
a very noble, as well as useful, edifice. He afterwards began a work, as
necessary, and still more expensive; I mean the Mole built in the sea, to
screen the vessels in the harbour from the winds, which frequently blow
from the opposite shore of the Adriatic with great violence. This was
carried on with redoubled spirit by Benedict XIV. after his quarrel with
Venice, has been continued by the succeeding Popes, and is now almost
finished. This building was founded in the ruins of the ancient Mole,
raised by the Emperor Trajan. The stone of Istria was used at first, till
the exportation of it was prohibited by the republic of Venice, who had
no reason to wish well to this work. But a quarry of excellent stone was
afterwards found near Ancona, as fit for the purpose; and a kind of sand,
which, when mixed with lime, forms a composition as hard as any stone,
is brought from the neighbourhood of Rome; and no other is used for
this building, which is above two thousand feet in length, one hundred
in breadth, and about sixty in depth, from the surface of the sea. A
stupendous work, more analogous to the power and revenues of ancient,
than of modern, Rome.

Near to this stands the Triumphal Arch, as it is called, of Trajan. This
is an honorary monument, erected in gratitude to that Emperor, for the
improvements he made in this harbour at his own expence. Next to the
Maison Quarrée at Nîmes, it is the most beautiful and the most entire
monument of Roman taste and magnificence I have yet seen. The fluted
Corinthian pillars on the two sides are of the finest proportions; and
the Parian marble of which they are composed, instead of having acquired
a black colour, like the Ducal palace of Venice, and other buildings
of marble, is preserved, by the sea vapour, as white and shining as
if it were fresh polished from the rock. I viewed this charming piece
of antiquity with sentiments of pleasure and admiration, which sprang
from a recollection of the elegant taste of the artist who planned this
work, the humane amiable virtues of the great man to whose honour it was
raised, and the grandeur and policy of the people who, by such rewards,
prompted their Princes to wise and beneficent undertakings.



LETTER XXXI.


                                                                 Loretto.

The road from Ancona to this place runs through a fine country, composed
of a number of beautiful hills and intervening vallies. Loretto itself is
a small town, situated on an eminence, about three miles from the sea. I
expected to have found it a more magnificent, at least a more commodious,
town for the entertainment of strangers. The inn-keepers do not disturb
the devotion of the pilgrims by the luxuries of either bed or board. I
have not seen worse accommodations since I entered Italy, than at the inn
here. This seems surprising, considering the great resort of strangers.
If any town in England were as much frequented, every third or fourth
house would be a neat inn.

The Holy Chapel of Loretto, all the world knows, was originally a small
house in Nazareth, inhabited by the Virgin Mary, in which she was saluted
by the Angel, and where she bred our Saviour. After their deaths, it
was held in great veneration by all believers in Jesus, and at length
consecrated into a chapel, and dedicated to the Virgin; upon which
occasion St. Luke made that identical image, which is still preserved
here, and dignified with the name of our Lady of Loretto. This sanctified
edifice was allowed to sojourn in Galilee as long as that district
was inhabited by Christians; but when infidels got possession of the
country, a band of angels, to save it from pollution, took it in their
arms, and conveyed it from Nazareth to a castle in Dalmatia. This fact
might have been called in question by incredulous people, had it been
performed in a secret manner; but, that it might be manifest to the most
short-sighted spectator, and evident to all who were not perfectly deaf
as well as blind, a blaze of celestial light, and a concert of divine
music, accompanied it during the whole journey; besides, when the angels,
to rest themselves, set it down in a little wood near the road, all the
trees of the forest bowed their heads to the ground, and continued in
that respectful posture as long as the Sacred Chapel remained among them.
But, not having been entertained with suitable respect at the castle
above mentioned, the same indefatigable angels carried it over the sea,
and placed it in a field belonging to a noble lady, called Lauretta, from
whom the Chapel takes its name. This field happened unfortunately to
be frequented at that time by highwaymen and murderers: a circumstance
with which the angels undoubtedly were not acquainted when they placed
it there. After they were better informed, they removed it to the top
of a hill belonging to two brothers, where they imagined it would be
perfectly secure from the dangers of robbery or assassination; but the
two brothers, the proprietors of the ground, being equally enamoured
of their new visitor, became jealous of each other, quarrelled, fought,
and fell by mutual wounds. After this fatal catastrophe, the angels
in waiting finally moved the Holy Chapel to the eminence where it now
stands, and has stood these four hundred years, having lost all relish
for travelling.

To silence the captious objections of cavillers, and give full
satisfaction to the candid inquirer, a deputation of respectable
persons was sent from Loretto to the city of Nazareth, who, previous
to their setting out, took the dimensions of the Holy House with the
most scrupulous exactness. On their arrival at Nazareth, they found the
citizens scarcely recovered from their astonishment; for it may be easily
supposed, that the sudden disappearance of a house from the middle of a
town, would naturally occasion a considerable degree of surprise, even
in the most philosophic minds. The landlords had been alarmed in a
particular manner, and had made enquiries, and offered rewards, all over
Galilee, without having been able to get any satisfactory account of
the fugitive. They felt their interest much affected by this incident;
for, as houses had never before been considered as _moveables_, their
value fell immediately. This indeed might be partly owing to certain
evil-minded persons, who, taking advantage of the public alarm, for
selfish purposes, circulated a report, that several other houses were on
the wing, and would most probably disappear in a few days. This affair
being so much the object of attention at Nazareth, and the builders of
that city declaring, they would as soon build upon quick-sand as on the
vacant space which the Chapel had left at its departure, the deputies
from Loretto had no difficulty in discovering the foundation of that
edifice, which they carefully compared with the dimensions they had
brought from Loretto, and found that they tallied exactly. Of this they
made oath at their return; and in the mind of every rational person, it
remains no longer a question, whether this is the real house which the
Virgin Mary inhabited, or not. Many of those particulars are narrated
with other circumstances in books which are sold here; but I have been
informed of one circumstance, which has not hitherto been published in
any book, and which, I dare swear, you will think ought to be made known
for the befit of future travellers. This morning, immediately before we
left the inn, to visit the Holy Chapel, an Italian servant, whom the D——
of H—— engaged at Venice, took me aside, and told me, in a very serious
manner, that strangers were apt secretly to break off little pieces of
the stone belonging to the Santa Casa, in the hopes that such precious
relics might bring them good fortune; but he earnestly entreated me not
to do any such thing: for he knew a man at Venice, who had broken off a
small corner of one of the stones, and slipt it into his breeches pocket
unperceived; but, so far from bringing him good fortune, it had burnt
its way out, like aqua fortis, before he left the Chapel, and scorched
his thighs in such a miserable manner, that he was not able to sit on
horseback for a month. I thanked Giovanni for his obliging hint, and
assured him I should not attempt any theft of that nature.



LETTER XXXII.


                                                                 Loretto.

The Sacred Chapel stands due east and west, at the farther end of a large
church of the most durable stone of Istria, which has been built around
it. This may be considered as the external covering, or as a kind of
great coat to the Casa Santa, which has a smaller coat of more precious
materials and workmanship nearer its body. This internal covering, or
case, is of the choicest marble, after a plan of San Savino’s, and
ornamented with basso relievos, the workmanship of the best sculptors
which Italy could furnish in the reign of Leo the Tenth. The subject of
those basso relievos are, the history of the Blessed Virgin, and other
parts of the Bible. The whole case is about fifty feet long, thirty
in breadth, and the same in height; but the real house itself is no
more than thirty-two feet in length, fourteen in breadth, and at the
sides, about eighteen feet in height; the centre of the roof is four
or five feet higher. The walls of this little Holy Chapel are composed
of pieces of a reddish substance, of an oblong square shape, laid one
upon another, in the manner of brick. At first sight, on a superficial
view, these red-coloured oblong substances appear to be nothing else
than common Italian bricks; and, which is still more extraordinary, on
a second and third view, with all possible attention, they still have
the same appearance. There is not, however, as we were assured, a single
particle of brick in their whole composition, being entirely of a stone,
which, though it cannot now be found in Palestine, was formerly very
common, particularly in the neighbourhood of Nazareth. There is a small
interval between the walls of the ancient house, and the marble case.
The workmen, at first, intended them to be in contact, from an opinion,
founded either upon gross ignorance or infidelity, that the former
stood in need of support from the latter; but the marble either started
back of itself, from such impious familiarity, being conscious of its
unworthiness; or else was thrust back by the coyness of the Virgin brick,
it is not said which. But it has certainly kept at a proper distance ever
since. While we examined the basso relievos of the marble case, we were
not a little incommoded by the numbers of pilgrims who were constantly
crawling around it on their knees, kissing the ground, and saying their
prayers with great fervour. As they crept along, they discovered some
degree of eagerness to be nearest the wall; not, I am persuaded, with
a view of saving their own labour, by contracting the circumference of
their circuit; but from an idea that the evolutions they were performing,
would be the more beneficial to their souls, the nearer they were to the
Sacred House. This exercise is continued in proportion to the zeal and
strength of the patient.

Above the door there is an inscription; by which it appears, that any
person who enters with arms is, ipso facto, excommunicated.

    INGREDIENTES CUM ARMIS SUNT EXCOMMUNICATI.

There are also the severest denunciations against those who carry
away the smallest particle of the stone and mortar belonging to this
Chapel. The adventure of the burnt breeches, and others of a similar
nature, which are industriously circulated, have contributed as much
as any denunciation, to prevent such attempts. Had it not been for the
impressions they make, so great was the eagerness of the multitude to be
possessed of any portion of this little edifice, that the whole was in
danger of being carried away; not by angels, but piecemeal in the pockets
of the pilgrims.

The Holy House is divided, within, into two unequal portions, by a
kind of grate-work of silver. The division towards the west is about
three-fourths of the whole; that to the east is called the Sanctuary.
In the larger division, which may be considered as the main body of the
house, the walls are left bare, to shew the true original fabric of
Nazareth stone. These stones, which bear such a strong resemblance to
bricks, are loose in many places. I took notice of this to a pilgrim,
who entered with us: he smiled, saying, “Che la non habbia paura,
Padron mio, questi muri sono piu solidi degli Appenini.” At the lower,
or western wall, there is a window, the same through which the angel
Gabriel entered at the Annunciation. The architraves of this window are
covered with silver. There are a great number of golden and silver lamps
in this Chapel; I did not count them, but I was told there were above
sixty; one of them is a present from the republic of Venice: it is of
gold, and weighs thirty-seven pounds: some of the silver lamps weigh
from one hundred and twenty, to one hundred and thirty pounds. At the
upper end of the largest room is an altar, but so low, that from it you
may see the famous image which stands over the chimney, in the small
room, or Sanctuary. Golden and silver angels, of considerable size, kneel
around her, some offering hearts of gold, enriched with diamonds, and
one an infant of pure gold. The wall of the Sanctuary is plated with
silver, and adorned with crucifixes, precious stones, and votive gifts of
various kinds. The figure of the Virgin herself by no means corresponds
with the fine furniture of her house: she is a little woman, about four
feet in height, with the features and complexion of a negro. Of all the
sculptors that ever existed, assuredly St. Luke, by whom this figure is
said to have been made, is the least of a flatterer; and nothing can be
a stronger proof of the blessed Virgin’s contempt for external beauty,
than her being satisfied with this representation of her; especially if,
as I am inclined to believe, her face and person really resembled those
beautiful ideas of her, conveyed by the pencils of Raphael, Corregio,
and Guido. The figure of the infant Jesus, by St. Luke, is of a piece
with that of the Virgin: he holds a large golden globe in one hand, and
the other is extended in the act of blessing. Both figures have crowns
on their heads, enriched with diamonds; these were presents from Ann of
Austria, Queen of France. Both arms of the Virgin are inclosed within
her robes, and no part but her face is to be seen; her dress is most
magnificent, but in a wretched bad taste: this is not surprising, for she
has no female attendant. She has particular clothes for the different
feasts held in honour of her, and, which is not quite so decent, is
always dressed and undressed by the priests belonging to the Chapel; her
robes are ornamented with all kinds of precious stones, down to the hem
of her garment.

There is a small place behind the Sanctuary, into which we were also
admitted. This is a favour seldom refused to strangers of a decent
appearance. In this they shew the chimney, and some other furniture,
which, they pretend, belonged to the Virgin when she lived at Nazareth;
particularly a little earthen porringer, out of which the infant used
to eat. The pilgrims bring rosaries, little crucifixes, and Agnus
Dei’s, which the obliging priest shakes for half a minute in this dish;
after which, it is believed, they acquire the virtue of curing various
diseases, and prove an excellent preventative of all temptations of
Satan. The gown which the image had on when the chapel arrived from
Nazareth, is of red camblet, and carefully kept in a glass shrine.

Above a hundred masses are daily said in this Chapel, and in the church
in which it stands. The music we heard in the Chapel was remarkably
fine. A certain number of the chaplains are eunuchs, who perform the
double duty of singing the offices in the choir, and saying masses at
the altar. The canonical law, which excludes persons in their situation
from the priesthood, is eluded by a very extraordinary expedient, which I
shall leave you to guess.

The jewels and riches to be seen at any one time in the Holy Chapel, are
of small value in comparison of those in the treasury, which is a large
room adjoining to the vestry of the great church. In the presses of this
room are kept those presents which royal, noble, and rich bigots of all
ranks have, by oppressing their subjects, and injuring their families,
sent to this place. To enumerate every particular, would fill volumes.
They consist of various utensils, and other things in silver and gold;
as lamps, candlesticks, goblets, crowns, and crucifixes; lambs, eagles,
saints, apostles, angels, virgins, and infants: then there are cameos,
pearls, gems, and precious stones of all kinds, and in great numbers.
What is valued above all the other jewels is, the miraculous pearl,
wherein they assert, that Nature has given a faithful delineation of the
Virgin, sitting on a cloud, with the infant Jesus in her arms. I freely
acknowledge, that I did see something like a woman with a child in her
arms; but whether Nature intended this as a portrait of the Virgin Mary,
or not, I will not take upon me to say; yet I will candidly confess
(though, perhaps, some of my friends in the north, may think it is saying
too much in support of the Popish opinion) that the figure in this pearl
bore as great a likeness to some pictures I have seen of the Virgin, as
to any female of my acquaintance.

There was not room in the presses of the treasury, to hold all the silver
pieces which have been presented to the Virgin. Several other presses in
the vestry, they told us, were completely full, and they made offer to
shew them; but our curiosity was already satiated.

It is said, that those pieces are occasionally melted down, by his
Holiness, for the use of the State; and also, that the most precious of
the jewels are picked out, and sold for the same purpose, false stones
being substituted in their room. This is an affair entirely between the
Virgin and the Pope: if she does not, I know no other person who has a
right to complain.



LETTER XXXIII.


                                                                 Loretto.

Pilgrimages to Loretto are not so frequent with foreigners, or with
Italians of fortune and distinction, as formerly, nineteen out of twenty
of those, who make this journey now, are poor people, who depend for
their maintenance on the charity they receive on the road. To those who
are of such a rank in life as precludes them from availing themselves
of the charitable institutions for the maintenance of pilgrims, such
journies are attended with expence and inconveniency; and I am informed,
that fathers and husbands, in moderate or confined circumstances, are
frequently brought to disagreeable dilemmas, by the rash vows of going
to Loretto, which their wives or daughters are apt to make on any
supposed deliverance from danger. To refuse, is considered, by the whole
neighbourhood, as cruel, and even impious; and to grant, is often highly
distressing, particularly to such husbands as, from affection, or any
other motive, do not choose that their wives should be long out of their
sight. But the poor, who are maintained during their whole journey, and
have nothing more than a bare maintenance to expect from their labour at
home, to them a journey to Loretto is a party of pleasure, as well as
devotion, and by much the most agreeable road they can take to heaven.
This being a year of jubilee, there is a far greater concourse of
pilgrims of all ranks here, at present, than is usual. We have seen a few
in their carriages, a greater number on horseback, or on mules; or, what
is still more common, on asses. Great numbers of females come in this
manner, with a male friend walking by them, as their guide and protector;
but the greatest number, of both sexes, are on foot. When we approached
near Loretto, the road was crowded with them: they generally set out
before sun-rise; and, having reposed themselves during the heat of the
day, continue their journey again in the evening. They sing their matins,
and their evening hymns, aloud. As many have fine voices and delicate
ears, those vocal concerts have a charming effect at a little distance.
During the stillness of the morning and the evening, we were serenaded
with this solemn religious music for a considerable part of the road.
The pilgrims on foot, as soon as they enter the suburbs, begin a hymn in
honour of the Virgin, which they continue till they reach the church. The
poorer sort are received into an hospital, where they have bed and board
for three days.

The only trade of Loretto consists of rosaries, crucifixes, little
Madonnas, Agnus Dei’s, and medals, which are manufactured here, and sold
to pilgrims. There are great numbers of shops full of these commodities,
some of them of a high price; but infinitely the greater part are adapted
to the purses of the buyers, and sold for a mere trifle. The evident
poverty of those manufacturers and traders, and of the inhabitants of
this town in general, is a sufficient proof that the reputation of our
Lady of Loretto is greatly on the decline.

In the great church, which contains the Holy Chapel, are confessionals,
where the penitents from every country of Europe may be confessed in
their own language, priests being always in waiting for that purpose:
each of them has a long white rod in his hand, with which he touches the
heads of those to whom he thinks it proper to give absolution. They place
themselves on their knees, in groupes, around the confessional chair; and
when the Holy Father has touched their heads with the expiatory rod, they
retire, freed from the burden of their sins, and with renewed courage to
begin a fresh account.

In the spacious area before this church, there is an elegant marble
fountain, supplied with water from an adjoining hill, by an aqueduct. Few
even of the most inconsiderable towns of Italy are without the useful
ornament of a public fountain. The embellishments of sculpture and
architecture are employed, with great propriety, on such works, which
are continually in the people’s view; the air is refreshed, and the eye
delighted, by the streams of water they pour forth; a sight peculiarly
agreeable in a warm climate. In this area there is also a statue of
Sixtus V., in bronze. Over the portal of the church itself, is a statue
of the Virgin; and above the middle gate, is a Latin inscription,
importing, that within is the House of the Mother of God, in which the
Word was made flesh. The gates of the church are likewise of bronze,
embellished with basso relievos, of admirable workmanship; the subjects
taken partly from the Old, and partly from the New, Testament, and
divided into different compartments. As the gates of this church are shut
at noon, the pilgrims who arrive after that time can get no nearer the
Santa Casa than these gates, which are, by this means, sometimes exposed
to the first violence of that holy ardour which was designed for the
Chapel itself. All the sculpture upon the gates, which is within reach of
the mouths of those zealots, is, in some degree, effaced by their kisses.
The murder of Abel, by his brother, is upon a level with the lips of a
person of an ordinary size, when kneeling. Poor Abel has been always
unfortunate; had he been placed a foot higher, or lower, on the gate, he
might have remained there, in security, for ages; but, in the unlucky
place that the sculptor has put him, his whole body has been almost
entirely kissed away by the pilgrims; whilst Cain stands, untouched, in
his original altitude, frowning and fierce as ever.

I have said nothing of the paintings to be seen here, though some are
highly esteemed, particularly two in the Treasury. The subject of one of
these is, the Virgin’s Nativity, by Annibale Carracci; and of the other,
a Holy Family, by Raphael. There are some others of considerable merit,
which ornament the altars of the great church. These altars, or little
chapels, of which this fabric contains a great number, are lined with
marble, and embellished by sculpture; but nothing within this church
interested me so much as the iron grates before those chapels, after
I was informed that they were made of the fetters and chains of the
Christian slaves, who were freed from bondage by the glorious victory of
Lepanto. From that moment these iron grates commanded my attention more
than all the golden lamps and candlesticks, and angels and jewels, of
the Holy Chapel.

The ideas that rush into one’s mind on hearing a circumstance of this
kind, are affecting beyond expression. To think of four thousand of our
fellow-creatures, torn from the service of their country and the arms of
friendship, chained to oars, subjected continually to the revilings of
enemies, and every kind of ignominious treatment, at once, when their
souls were sinking under the weight of such accumulated calamity, and
brought to the very verge of despair; at once, in one blessed moment,
freed from slavery, restored to the embraces of their friends, and
enjoying, with them, all the rapture of victory. Good God, what a scene!
what a number of scenes! for the imagination, after glancing at the
whole, distinguishes and separates objects, and forms a thousand groupes
of the most pathetic kind; the fond recognition of old companions,
brothers flying into each other’s arms, and the ecstacy of fathers on the
recovery of their lost sons. Many such pictures did my fancy form, while
I stood contemplating those grates so truly ornamental of a Christian
church, and so perfectly congenial with a religion which requires men to
_relieve the oppressed, and set the captive free_.

Happy if the followers of that religion had always observed this divine
admonition. I speak not of those men who assume the name of Christians
for the purposes of interest or ambition, but of a more absurd class of
mankind; those who, believing in Christianity, endeavour to reconcile
it to a conduct, and doctrines, entirely repugnant to its nature. This
absurdity has appeared in the human character from the earliest ages of
Christianity. Men have displayed unaffected zeal, and endeavoured to
support and propagate the most benevolent and rational of all religions,
by actions worthy of demons, and arguments which shock common sense.

The same persons who praised and admired the heavenly benevolence of
this sentiment, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;
have thought it a duty to condemn their fellow-creatures to cruel deaths
for speculative opinions. The same men who admired the founder of
Christianity for going about, continually, doing good, have thought it a
duty to spend their whole lives in cells, doing nothing.

And can any thing be more opposite to those dark and inexplicable
doctrines, on the belief of which, according to the conviction of many,
our salvation depends, than this plain rule, Whatsoever ye would that
men should do to you, do ye even so to them? a rule so plain, as to be
understood by the most simple and ignorant; and so just, complete, and
comprehensive, as to be admired by the wisest and most learned.

If this equitable maxim is the law and the prophets, and we learn from
the highest authority that it is, what becomes of all those mysterious
webs, of various texture, which, since the beginning of the Christian
æra, Popes, Priests, and many of the leaders of sectaries, have wove
around it?



LETTER XXXIV.


                                                                Spoletto.

We left Loretto after dinner, and proceeded through a beautiful country
to Macerata, a small town, situated on a hill, as the towns in Italy
generally are. We only stayed to change horses, and continued our journey
to Tolentino; where, not thinking it expedient to begin to ascend the
Apennines in the dark, we took up our quarters at an inn, the best in the
place, but, by many degrees, the poorest we had seen in Italy. However,
as it was not for good eating or convenient bedchambers we came to this
country, that circumstance affected us very little. Indeed, the quantity
of victuals presented us at supper, would have been as displeasing to a
person of Sancho Pancho’s way of thinking, on the subject of eating, as
the manner they were dressed would have been to a nicer sensualist in
that refined science. The latter circumstance prevented our regretting
the former; and although we had felt some uneasiness when we were told
how little provisions there were in the house, the moment they appeared
on the table we were all convinced there was more than enough.

The poor people of this inn, however, shewed the utmost desire to please.
_They_ must have unfortunate tempers indeed, who, observing this, could
have shocked them by fretfulness, or an air of dissatisfaction. Besides,
if the entertainment had been still more homely, even those travellers
who are accustomed to the greatest delicacies, might be induced to bear
it with patience for one night, from this consideration, That the people
of the place, who have just as good a natural right to the luxuries of
life as themselves, are obliged to bear it always. Nothing is more apt to
raise indignation than to behold men repining and fretting, on account
of little inconveniencies, in the hearing of those who are bearing much
greater every day with cheerfulness. There is a want of sense, as well
as a want of temper, in such behaviour. The only use of complaining of
hardships to those who cannot relieve them, must be to obtain sympathy;
but if those to whom they complain, are suffering the same hardships in a
greater degree, what sympathy can those repiners expect? They certainly
find none.

Next morning we encountered the Apennines. The fatigue of this day’s
journey was compensated by the beauty and variety of the views among
those mountains. On the face of one of the highest, I remarked a small
hut, with a garden near it. I was told this was inhabited by an old
infirm Hermit. I could not understand how a person in that condition
could scramble up and down such a mountain to procure for himself the
necessaries of life. I was informed, he had not quitted his hermitage
for several years, the neighbouring peasants supplying him plentifully
with all he requires. This man’s reputation for sanctity is very great,
and those who take the trouble of carrying him provisions, think
themselves well repaid by his prayers.

I imagine I am acquainted with a country where provisions are in greater
plenty than in the Apennines; and yet the greatest saint in the nation,
who should take up his residence on one of its mountains, would be in
great danger of starving, if he depended for his sustenance upon the
provisions that should be carried up to him in exchange for his prayers.

There are mountains and precipices among the Apennines, which do not
appear contemptible in the eyes even of those who have travelled among
the Alps; while on the other hand, those delightful plains, contained
within the bosom of the former, are infinitely superior, in beauty and
fertility, to the vallies among the latter. We now entered the rich
province of Umbria, and soon after arrived at Foligno, a thriving town,
in which there is more appearance of industry than in any of the towns
we have seen, since we left Ancona; there are considerable manufactures
of paper, cloth, and silk. In a convent of Nuns, is a famous picture
by Raphael, generally visited by travellers, and much admired by
connoisseurs.

The situation of this town is peculiarly happy. It stands in a charming
valley, laid out in corn-fields and vineyards, interfered by mulberry and
almond trees, and watered by the river Clitumnus; the view terminating on
one side by hills crowned with cities, and on the other by the loftiest
mountains of the Apennines. I never experienced such a sudden and
agreeable change of climate, as on descending from those mountains, in
many places, at present, covered with snow; to this pleasant valley of
Umbria,

    Where western gales eternally reside,
    And all the seasons lavish all their pride.

From Foligno to Vene, the road lies through this fine plain. A little
before you come to the post-house at Vene, on the right hand, there
is a little building; the front which looks to the valley, is adorned
with six Corinthian pillars; the two in the middle enriched by a laurel
foliage: on one side, is a crucifix in basso relievo, with vine branches
curling around it. On this building, there are some inscriptions which
mention the _resurrection_. Some, who think the architecture too fine
for the first ages of Christianity, and the Temple too old to have been
built since the revival of that art, have conjectured, that this little
edifice is antique, and originally erected by the ancient inhabitants of
Umbria, as a temple, in honour of the river God Clitumnus; but, at some
subsequent period, converted into a Christian chapel, and the crucifix
and inscriptions added after its consecration. Other very respectable
judges think, the style of architecture is by no means pure, but
adulterated by meretricious ornament, and worthy enough of the first ages
of Christianity.

Mr. Addison has given many quotations from the Latin poets, in honour
of this river, all of which countenance the popular opinion with regard
to the quality of the water. The breed of white cattle, which gave such
a reputation to the river, still remains in this country. We saw many
of them as we passed, some milk white, but the greatest numbers of a
whitish grey. The common people still retain the ancient opinion, with
respect to the effect of the water. Spoletto, the capital of Umbria, is
situated on a high rock, the ascent to which is very steep on all sides.
This town retains little appearance of its ancient importance. Keysler
says, that, like other paltry towns in Italy, it exhibits bombastic
inscriptions concerning its antiquity, and many trivial occurrences which
have happened there; the only inscription, however, which he quotes, and
the only one which I saw, is that over the Porta di Fuga, from which the
Carthaginian army is supposed to have been repaired.

    ANNIBAL
    CÆSIS AD THRASYMENUM ROMANIS
    URBEM ROMAM INFENSO AGMINE PETENS,
    SPOLETO MAGNA SUORUM CLADE REPULSUS,
    INSIGNI FUGA PORTÆ NOMEN FECIT.

I cannot perceive any thing bombastic in this; Livy mentions the fact in
his twenty-second book, in the following terms:

    Annibal recto itinere per Umbriam usque ad Spoletum venit, inde
    quum perpopulato agro urbem oppugnare adortus esset, cum magna
    cæde suorum repulsus, conjectans ex unius coloniæ haud nimis
    prospere tentatæ viribus quanta moles Romanæ urbis esset.

If the inhabitants of the greatest capital in the world had equal
authority for their ancestors having repulsed such a general as Hannibal,
would they not be inclined to receive it as truth, and to transmit it to
the latest posterity?

This town is still supplied with water, by means of an antique aqueduct,
one of the most entire, and the highest in Europe. In the centre, where
the height is greatest, there is a double arcade; the other arches
diminish in height, as they recede from it, towards the sloping sides of
the two mountains which this magnificent work unites.

In the cathedral, there is a picture of the Virgin by St. Luke; but we
had already seen sufficient specimens of this saint’s abilities, as a
sculptor and a painter, and we had not the least curiosity to see any
more.



LETTER XXXV.


                                                                    Rome.

Leaving Spoletto, we passed over the highest of the Apennines, and
then descended through a forest of olive trees, to the fruitful valley
in which Terni is situated, on the river Nera. It was formerly called
Interamna, on account of its standing between two branches of that river.
The valley which stretches from this town to Terni, is exuberantly
fertile, being finely exposed to the south sun, and watered by the Nera,
which, by its beauteous windings, divides the plain into peninsulas of
various shapes. The Emperor Tacitus, and his brother Florianus, were
natives of Terni; but the greatest pride of that city is, its having
given birth to Tacitus the Historian.

I am almost ashamed to tell you, that we did not go to see the famous
cataract, near this town, which is usually visited by travellers, and
which, by all accounts, is so worthy of their curiosity. Innumerable
streams from the highest Apennines, meeting in one channel, form the
river Velino, which flows placidly, for some time, through a plain almost
horizontal, and afterwards, when the river becomes more rapid by the
contracting and sloping of the channel, the plain terminates of a sudden
in a precipice three hundred feet high, over which, the river rushing,
dashes with such violence against the rocky bottom, that a vast cloud of
watery smoke is raised all around. The river Velino does not long survive
the fall, but broken, groaning, and foaming, soon finishes his course in
the Nera. Mr. Addison is of opinion, that Virgil had this gulph in his
eye when he described the place in the middle of Italy, through which the
Fury Alecto descended into Tartarus.

A very heavy rain which fell while we were at Terni, the fatigue and
difficulty of climbing up the Monte di Marmore, from whence this fall
appears to the greatest advantage, and our impatience to be at Rome,
prevented us from seeing that celebrated cataract, which we regretted
the less, as we had frequently seen one of the same kind in Scotland,
about twelve miles above Hamilton, at a place called Corace, where the
river Clyde, falling perpendicular from a vast height, produces the same
effects, in every respect, unless, that he outlives the accident, and
continues his course for near fifty miles before he joins the Atlantic
ocean.

The distance from Terni to Narni is about seven miles; the road is
uncommonly good, and the country on each side delightful. When we came
near Narni, while the chaises proceeded to the town, I walked to take a
view of the bridge of Augustus. This stately fabric is wholly of marble,
and without cement, as many other antique buildings are. Only one of the
arches remains intire, which is the first on the side of the river where
I was; under it there was no water; it is one hundred and fifty feet
wide. The next arch, below which the river flows, is twenty feet wider,
and has a considerable slope, being higher on the side next the first
arch, than on that next the third. The remaining two arches are, in every
respect, smaller than the two first. What could be the reason of such
ungraceful irregularity in a work, in other respects so magnificent, and
upon which so much labour and expence must have been bestowed, I cannot
imagine. It is doubtful, whether there were originally four arches, or
only three; for that which is supposed by some to be the basis from which
the two lesser arches sprung; is thought by others, to be the remains of
a square pillar, raised some time after the bridge was built, to support
the middle of the third arch; which, on the supposition that there were
but three, must have been of a very extraordinary width.

This fabric is usually called Augustus’s Bridge, and Mr. Addison thinks
that without doubt Martial alludes to it, in the ninety-second Epigram of
the seventh book; but some other very judicious travellers imagine, it is
the remains of an aqueduct, because those arches joined two mountains,
and are infinitely higher than was necessary for a bridge over the little
river which flows under them. It has also been supposed, not without
great appearance of probability, that this fabric was originally intended
to serve the purposes of both.

As the rain still continued, my curiosity to see this fine ruin procured
me a severe drenching: this I received with due resignation, as a
punishment for having been intimidated by rain, from visiting the fine
cascade at Terni. It was with great difficulty I got up the hill, by a
path which I thought was shorter and easier than the high road; this
unfortunately led to no gate. At last, however, I observed a broken part
of the wall, over which I immediately clambered into the town. Martial
takes notice of the difficulty of access to this town.

    Narnia, sulphureo quam gurgite candidus amnis
    Circuit, ancipiti vix adeunda Jugo.

The town itself is very poor, and thinly inhabited. It boasts, however,
of being the native city of the Emperor Nerva, and some other celebrated
men.

The road from Narni to the post-house at Otricoli, is exceeding rough and
mountainous. This is a very poor village, but advantageously situated
on a rising ground. Between this and the Tiber, at some little distance
from the road, there is a considerable tract of ground, covered with many
loose antique fragments and vaults: these are generally considered as the
ruins of the ancient Ocriculum. We passed along this road early in the
morning, and were entertained, great part of the way, with vocal music
from the pilgrims, several hordes of whom we met near this place, on
their return from Rome, where they had been on account of the jubilee.

The only place of note between Otricoli and Rome, is Civita Castellana.
Terni is the last town of the province of Umbria, and Castellana the
first of ancient Latium, coming to Rome by the Flaminian way. Castellana
is considered, by many antiquarians, as the Fescennium of the ancients;
a schoolmaster of which, as we are informed by Livy, by an unexampled
instance of wickedness, betrayed a number of the sons of the principal
citizens into the power of the Dictator Camillus, at that time besieging
the place. The generous Roman, equally abhorring the treachery and the
traitor, ordered this base man to be stripped, to have his hands tied
behind, and to be delivered over to the boys, who, armed with rods, beat
him back to Fescennium, and delivered him up to their parents, to be used
as they should think he deserved.

Civita Castellana stands upon a high rock, and must formerly have been
a place of great strength, but is now in no very flourishing condition.
Many of the towns I have mentioned, lying on the road to Rome, by the
Flaminian way, have suffered, at different periods, more than those of
any other part of Italy; by the inroads of Visigoths and Huns, as well as
by some incursions of a later date.

This, I am convinced, is the only country in the world, where the
fields become more desolate as you approach the capital. After having
traversed the cultivated and fertile vallies of Umbria, one is affected
with double emotion at beholding the deplorable state of poor neglected
Latium. For several posts before you arrive at Rome, few villages,
little cultivation, and scarcely any inhabitants, are to be seen. In the
Campania of Rome, formerly the best cultivated and best peopled spot in
the world, no houses, no trees, no inclosures; nothing but the scattered
ruins of temples and tombs, presenting the idea of a country depopulated
by a pestilence. All is motionless, silent, and forlorn.

In the midst of these deserted fields the ancient Mistress of the World
rears her head, in melancholy majesty.



LETTER XXXVI.


                                                                    Rome.

You will not be surprised at my silence for some weeks past. On arriving
at a place where there are so many interesting objects as at Rome, we are
generally selfish enough to indulge our own curiosity very amply, before
we gratify that of our friends in any degree. My first care was to wait
on the Prince Guistiniani, for whom we had letters from Count Mahoni,
the Spanish ambassador at Vienna, to whose niece that Prince is married.
Nothing can exceed the politeness and attention the Prince and Princess
have shewn. He waited immediately on the D—— of H——, and insisted on
taking us, in his own carriage, to every house of distinction. Two
or three hours a day were spent in this ceremony. After being once
presented, no farther introduction or invitation is necessary.

Our mornings are generally spent in visiting the antiquities, and the
paintings in the palaces. On those occasions we are accompanied by Mr.
Byres, a gentleman of probity, knowledge, and real taste. We generally
pass two or three hours every evening at the conversazionis; I speak in
the plural number, for we are sometimes at several in the same evening.
It frequently happens, that three or four, or more, of the nobility,
have these assemblies at the same time; and almost all the company of a
certain rank in Rome make it a point, if they go to any, to go to all; so
that, although there is a great deal of bustle, and a continual change
of place, there is scarcely any change of company, or any variation
in the amusement, except what the change of place occasions: but this
circumstance alone is often found an useful accomplice in the murder of
a tedious evening; for when the company find no great amusement in one
place, they fly to another, in hopes they may be better entertained.
These hopes are generally disappointed; but that does not prevent them
from trying a third, and a fourth; and although to whatever length the
experiment is pushed, it always terminates in new disappointments,
yet, at last, the evening is dispatched; and, without this locomotive
resource, I have seen people in danger of dispatching themselves.
This bustle, and running about after objects which give no permanent
satisfaction, and without fully knowing whence we came, or whither we are
going, you’ll say, is a mighty silly business. It is so;—and, after all
the swelling importance that some people assume, Pray what is human life?

Having told you what five or six conversazionis are, I shall endeavour
to give you some idea what _one_ is. These assemblies are always in the
principal apartment of the palace, which is generally on the second,
but sometimes on the third floor. It is not always perfectly easy to
find this apartment, because it sometimes happens that the staircase is
very ill lighted. On entering the hall, where the footmen of the company
are assembled, your name is pronounced aloud, by some servants of the
family, and repeated by others, as you walk through several rooms. Those
whose names are not known, are announced by the general denomination of
i Cavalieri Forestieri, or Inglesi, as you pass through the different
rooms, till you come to that in which the company are assembled, where
you are received by the master or mistress of the house, who sits exactly
within the door for that purpose. Having made a short compliment there,
you mix with the company, which is sometimes so large, that none but
the ladies can have the conveniency of sitting. Notwithstanding the
great size and number of the rooms in the Italian palaces, it frequently
happens that the company are so pressed together, that you can with
difficulty move from one room to another. There always is a greater
number of men than women; no lady comes without a gentleman to hand
her. This gentleman, who acts the part of Cavaliero Servente, may be
her relation in any degree, or her lover, or both. It is allowed him to
be connected with her in any way but one—he must not be her husband.
Familiarities between man and wife are still connived at in this country
however, provided they are carried on in private; but for a man to be
seen hand in hand with his wife, in public, would not be tolerated.

At Cardinal Berni’s assembly, which is usually more crowded than any in
Rome, the company are served with coffee, lemonade, and iced confections
of various kinds; but this custom is not universal. In short, at a
conversatione, you have an opportunity of seeing a number of well-dressed
people, you speak a few words to those you are acquainted with, you
bow to the rest, and enjoy the happiness of being squeezed and pressed
among the best company in Rome. I do not know what more can be said of
these assemblies; only it may be necessary, to prevent mistakes, to add,
that a conversazione is a place where there is no conversation. They
break up about nine o’clock, all but a small select company, who are
invited to supper. But the present race of Romans are by no means so fond
of convivial entertainments, as their predecessors. The magnificence
of the Roman nobility displays itself now in other articles than the
luxuries of the table: they generally dine at home, in a very private
manner. Strangers are seldom invited to dinner, except by the foreign
ambassadors. The hospitality of Cardinal Bernis alone makes up for every
deficiency of that nature. There is no ambassador from the Court of Great
Britain at Rome, but the English feel no want of one. If the French
Cardinal had been instructed by his court to be peculiarly attentive to
them, he could not be more so than he is. Nothing can exceed the elegant
magnificence of his table, nor the splendid hospitality in which he
lives. Years have not impaired the wit and vivacity for which he was
distinguished in his youth; and no man could support the pretensions of
the French nation to superior politeness, better than their ambassador at
Rome.

There are no lamps lighted in the streets at night; and all Rome would
be in utter darkness, were it not for the candles, which the devotion of
individuals sometimes place before certain statues of the Virgin. Those
appear faintly glimmering at vast intervals, like stars in a cloudy
night. The lackeys carry dark lanthorns behind the carriages of people
of the first distinction. The Cardinals, and other Ecclesiastics, do not
choose to have their coaches seen before the door of every house they
visit. In the midst of this darkness, you will naturally conclude, that
amorous assignations in the streets are not unfrequent among the inferior
people. When a carriage, with a lanthorn behind it, accidentally comes
near a couple who do not wish to be known, one of them calls out, “Volti
la lanterna,” and is obeyed; the carriage passing without farther notice
being taken. Venus, as you know, has always been particularly respected
at Rome, on account of her amour with Anchises.

            ————Genus unde Latinum
    Albanique patres, atque alta mœnia Romæ.

The Italians, in general, have a remarkable air of gravity, which they
preserve even when the subject of their conversation is gay. I observed
something of this at Venice, but I think it is much stronger at Rome. The
Roman ladies have a languor in their countenances, which promises as much
sensibility as the brisk look of the French; and, without the volubility
of the latter, or the frankness of the Venetian women, they seem no way
averse to form connections with strangers. The D—— of H—— was presented
to a beautiful young Lady at one of the assemblies. In the course of
conversation he happened to say, That he had heard she had been married
very lately. She answered, with precipitation, “Signor si—ma mio marito è
uno Vecchio.” She then added, shaking her head, and in a most affecting
tone of voice, “O santissima Virgine quanto è Vecchio!”



LETTER XXXVII.


                                                                    Rome.

Authors differ very much in opinion with respect to the number of
inhabitants which Rome contained at the period when it was most
populous. Some accounts make them seven millions, and others a still
greater number. These seem all to be incredible exaggerations. It is not
probable, that what is properly called the city of Rome, ever extended
beyond the wall built by Belisarius, after he had defeated the Goths.
This wall has been frequently repaired since, and is still standing;
it is about thirteen or fourteen miles in circuit, which is nearly the
size that Rome was of, according to Pliny, in the days of Vespasian.
Those who assert, that the number of inhabitants in ancient Rome, when
it was most populous, could not exceed a million, exclusive of slaves,
are thought moderate in their calculation; but when we consider that
the circumference of thirteen or fourteen miles is not equal to that of
either Paris or London; that the Campus Martius, which is the best built
part of modern Rome, was a field, without a house upon it, anciently; and
that the rising ground, where St. Peter’s church and the Vatican stand,
was no part of old Rome; it will be difficult to conceive that ever Rome
could boast a million of inhabitants. For my own part, if the wall of
Belisarius is admitted as the boundary of the ancient city, I cannot
imagine it to have, at any time, contained above five or six hundred
thousand, without supposing the masters of the world to have been the
worst lodged people in it.

But if, in the computations above mentioned, the suburbs are included; if
those who lived without the walls are considered as inhabitants; in that
case there will be room enough for any number, the limits of the suburbs
not being ascertained.

The buildings immediately without the walls of Rome, which were
connectedly continued so as to merit the name of suburbs, were certainly
of vast extent; and with those of the town itself, must have contained
a prodigious number of people. By a calculation made by Mr. Byres, the
Circus Maximus was of sufficient size to accommodate three hundred and
eighty thousand spectators; and we are told by the Latin poets, that it
was usually full. Now if allowance is made for the superannuated, the
sick, and infirm; also for children, and those employed in their private
business, and for slaves, who were not permitted to remain in the Circus
during the games; Mr. Byres imagines that such a number as three hundred
and eighty thousand spectators could not be supplied by a city and
suburbs the number of whose inhabitants were much under three millions.

Whatever may have been the extent of the suburbs of Rome, it is probable
they were only formed of ordinary houses, and inhabited by people of
inferior rank. There are no remains of palaces, or magnificent buildings
of any kind, to be now seen near the walls, or indeed over the whole
Campania; yet it is asserted by some authors, that this wide surface was
peopled, at one period, like a continued village; and we are told of
strangers, who, viewing this immense plain covered with houses, imagined
they had already entered Rome, when they were thirty miles from the walls
of that city.

Some of the seven hills on which Rome was built, appear now but gentle
swellings, owing to the intervals between them being greatly raised by
the rubbish of ruined houses. Some have hardly houses of any kind upon
them, being entirely laid out in gardens and vineyards. It is generally
thought, that two-thirds of the surface within the walls are in this
situation, or covered with ruins; and, by the information I have the
greatest reliance on, the number of the inhabitants at present is about
one hundred and seventy thousand, which, though greatly inferior to what
Rome contained in the days of its ancient power, is more than it has
been, for the most part, able to boast since the fall of the Empire.
There is good authority for believing that this city, at particular
periods since that time, some of them not very remote, has been reduced
to between thirty and forty thousand inhabitants. The numbers have
gradually increased during the whole of this century. As it was much less
expensive to purchase new ground for building upon, than to clear any
ruins which, by time, had acquired the consistence of rock, great part of
the modern city is built on what was the ancient Campus Martius.

Some of the principal streets are of considerable length, and perfectly
straight. That called the Corso, is the most frequented. It runs from
the Porto del Popolo, along the side of the Campus Martius, next to
the ancient city. Here the nobility display their equipages during the
carnival, and take the air in the evenings in fine weather. It is indeed
the great scene of Roman magnificence and amusement.

The shops on each side, are three or four feet higher than the street;
and there is a path for the conveniency of foot passengers, on a level
with the shops. The palaces, of which there are several in this street,
range in a line with the houses, having no court before them, as the
hotels in Paris have; and not being shut up from the sight of the
citizens by high gloomy walls, as Devonshire and Burlington houses in
London are. Such dismal barricades are more suitable to the unsocial
character of a proud Baron, in the days of aristocratic tyranny, than to
the hospitable benevolent disposition of their present proprietor.

The Corso, I have said, commences at the fine area immediately within
the Porto del Popolo. This is the gate by which we entered Rome; it is
built in a noble style of elegant simplicity, from the design of Michael
Angelo, executed by Bernini.

The Strada Felice, in the higher part of the city, is about a mile and
a half in length from the Trinità del Monte, to the church of St. John
Lateran, on the Pincean hill. This street runs in a straight line, but
the view is interrupted by a fine church called St. Maria Maggiore. The
Strada Felice is crossed by another straight street, called the Strada
di Porta Pia, terminated at one end by that gate; and at the other by
four colossal statues in white marble, of two horses led by two men;
supposed by some, to be representations of Alexander taming Bucephalus;
and according to others, of Castor and Pollux. They are placed before
the Pope’s palace, on the Quirinal Hill, and have a noble effect.

It would be more difficult to convey an idea of the smaller and less
regular streets. I shall therefore only observe, in general, that Rome
at present exhibits a strange mixture of magnificent and interesting,
common and beggarly objects; the former consists of palaces, churches,
fountains, and above all, the remains of antiquity. The latter comprehend
all the rest of the city. The church of St. Peter’s, in the opinion
of many, surpasses, in size and magnificence, the finest monuments
of ancient architecture. The Grecian and Roman temples were more
distinguished for the elegance of their form, than their magnitude. The
Pantheon, which was erected to all the Gods, is the most entire antique
temple in Rome. It is said, that Michael Angelo, to confirm the triumph
of modern over ancient architecture, made the dome of St. Peter’s of the
same diameter with the Pantheon; raising the immense fabric upon four
pilasters; whereas the whole circle of the rotunda rests upon the ground.
This great artist, perhaps, was delighted with the idea of being thought
as superior to the ancient architects, as he was conscious of being
inferior to some of the sculptors of antiquity.

All who have seen St. Paul’s in London may, by an enlargement of its
dimensions, form some idea of the external appearance of St. Peter’s.
But the resemblance fails entirely on comparing them within; St. Peter’s
being lined, in many parts, with the most precious and beautiful marble,
adorned with valuable pictures, and all the powers of sculpture.

The approach to St. Peter’s church excells that to St. Paul’s in a
still greater proportion, than the former surpasses the latter either
in size, or in the richness and beauty of the internal ornaments. A
magnificent portico advances on each side from the front, by which means
a square court is formed immediately before the steps which lead into
the church. The two porticoes form two sides of the square, the third is
closed by the front of the church, and the fourth is open. A colonnade,
four columns deep, commences at the extremities of the porticoes; and
embracing, in an oval direction, a space far wider than the square, forms
the most magnificent area that perhaps ever was seen before any building.
This oval colonnade is crowned with a balustrade, ornamented by a great
number of statues; and consists of above three hundred large pillars,
forming three separate walks, which lead to the advanced portico, and
from that into the church. In the middle of the immense area, stands an
Egyptian obelisk of granite; and to the right and left of this, two very
beautiful fountains refresh the atmosphere with streams of clear water.
The delighted eye glancing over these splendid objects, would rest with
complete satisfaction on the stupendous fabric to which they serve as
embellishments, if the façade of this celebrated church had been equal in
beauty and elegance to the rest of the building. But this is by no means
the case, and every impartial judge must acknowledge, that the front of
St. Peter’s is, in those particulars, inferior to that of our St. Paul’s.

The length of St. Peter’s, taken on the outside, is exactly seven hundred
and thirty feet; the breadth five hundred and twenty; and the height,
from the pavement to the top of the cross, which crowns the cupola, four
hundred and fifty. The grand portico before the entrance, is two hundred
and sixteen feet in length, and forty in breadth.

It is usual to desire strangers, on their first entering this church,
to guess at the size of the objects, which, on account of the distance,
always seem less than they are in reality. The statues of the Angels,
in particular, which support the founts of holy water, when viewed
from the door, seem no bigger than children; but when you approach
nearer, you perceive they are six feet high. We make no such mistake
on seeing a living man at the same, or a greater distance; because
the knowledge we have of a man’s real size precludes the possibility
of our being mistaken, and we make allowance for the diminution which
distance occasions; but Angels, and other figures in sculpture, having no
determined standard, but being under the arbitrary will of the statuary,
who gives them the bulk of giants or dwarfs as best suits his purpose,
we do not know what allowance to make; and the eye, unused to such large
masses, is confounded, and incapacitated from forming a right judgment
of an object six feet high, or of any other dimensions, which it was not
previously acquainted with.

It is not my design to attempt a description of the statues, basso
relievos, columns, pictures, and various ornaments of this church; Such
an account, faithfully executed, would fill volumes. The finest of all
the ornaments have a probability of being longer preserved than would
once have been imagined, by the astonishing improvements which have of
late been made in the art of copying pictures in Mosaic. Some of the
artists here, have already made copies with a degree of accuracy, which
nobody could believe who had not seen the performances. By this means,
the works of Raphael, and other great painters, will be transmitted to
a later posterity than they themselves expected; and although all the
beauty of the originals cannot be retained in the copy, it would be gross
affectation to deny that a great part of it is. How happy would it make
the real lovers of the art in this age, to have such specimens of the
genius of Zeuxis, Apelles, and other ancient painters!

It has been frequently remarked, that the proportions of this church are
so fine, and the symmetry of its different parts so exquisite, that the
whole seems considerably smaller than it really is. It was, however,
certainly intended to appear a great and sublime object, and to produce
admiration by the vastness of its dimensions. I cannot, therefore, be of
opinion, that any thing which has a tendency to defeat this effect, can
with propriety be called an excellence. I should on the contrary imagine,
that if the architect could have made the church appear larger than it
is in reality, this would have been a more desirable effect; provided it
could have been produced without diminishing our admiration in some more
material point. If this could not be accomplished; if it is absolutely
certain, that those proportions in architecture, which produce the mod
beautiful effect on the whole, always make a building seem smaller than
it is; this ought rather to be mentioned as an unfortunate than as a
fortunate circumstance. The more I reflect on this, it appears to me
the more certain, that no system of proportions, which has the effect
of making a large building appear small, is _therefore_ excellent. If
the property of reducing great things to little ones is inherent in
all harmonious proportions; it is, in my opinion, an imperfection, and
much to be lamented. In small buildings, where we expect to derive our
pleasure from grace and elegance, the evil may be borne; but in edifices
of vast dimensions, capable of sublimity from their bulk, the vice of
diminishing is not to be compensated by harmony. The sublime has no
equivalent.



LETTER XXXVIII.


                                                                    Rome.

The grand procession of the Possesso took place a few days ago. This is
a ceremony performed by every Pope, as soon as conveniency will permit,
after the Conclave has declared in his favour. It is equivalent to the
coronation in England, or the consecration at Rheims. On this occasion,
the Pope goes to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and, as the phrase
is, takes possession of it. This church, they tell you, is the most
ancient of all the churches in Rome, and the mother of all the churches
in christendom. When he has got possession of this, therefore, he _must_
be the real head of the Christian church, and Christ’s vicegerent upon
earth. From St. John Lateran’s, he proceeds to the Capitol, and receives
the keys of that fortress; after which, it is equally clear, that as an
earthly prince, he ought, like the ancient possessors of the Capitol, to
have a supremacy over all kings.

The Prince Guistiniani procured a place for us, at the Senator’s house
in the Capitol, from whence we might see the procession to the greatest
advantage. On arriving, we were surprised to find the main body of the
Palace, as well as the Palazzo dé Conservatori, and the Museum, which
form the two wings, all hung with crimson silk, laced with gold. The
bases and capitals of the pillars and pilasters, where the silk could
not be accurately applied, were gilt. Only imagine, what a figure
the Farnesian Hercules would make, dressed in a silk suit, like a
French petit-maitre. To cover the noble simplicity of Michael Angelo’s
architecture with such frippery by way of ornament, is, in my mind, a
piece of refinement equally laudable.

Throwing an eye on the Pantheon, and comparing it with the Campidoglio in
its present dress, the beauty and justness of the following lines seemed
more striking than ever.

    Mark, how the dread Pantheon stands,
    Amid the domes of modern hands,
    Amid the toys of idle state,
    How simply, how severely great!

We were led to a balcony, where a number of ladies of the first
distinction in Rome were assembled. There were no men excepting a very
few strangers; most part of the Roman noblemen have some function in the
procession. The instant of his Holiness’s departure from the Vatican,
was announced by a discharge of cannon from the castle of St. Angelo;
on the top of which, the standard of the church had been flying ever
since morning. We had a full view of the cavalcade, on its return from
the church, as it ascended to the Capitol. The officers of the Pope’s
horse guards were dressed in a style equally rich and becoming. It was
something between the Hungarian and Spanish dress. I do not know whether
the King of Prussia would approve of the great profusion of plumage they
wore in their hats; but it is picturesque, and showy qualities are the
most essential to the guards of his Holiness. The Swiss guards were, on
this occasion, dressed with less propriety; their uniforms were real
coats of mail, with iron helmets on their heads, as if they had been to
take the Capitol by storm, and expected a vigorous resistance. Their
appearance was strongly contrasted with that of the Roman Barons, who
were on horseback, without boots, and in full dress; each of them was
preceded by four pages, their hair hanging in regular ringlets to the
middle of their backs: they were followed by a number of servants in
rich liveries. Bishops and other ecclesiastics succeeded the Barons;
and then came the Cardinals on horseback, in their purple robes, which
covered every part of the horses, except the head. You may be sure that
the horses employed at such ceremonies are the gentlest that can be
found; for if they were at all unruly, they might not only injure the
surrounding crowd, but throw their Eminencies, who are not celebrated for
their skill in horsemanship. Last of all comes the Pope himself, mounted
on a milk white mule, distributing blessings with an unsparing hand among
the multitude, who follow him with acclamations of Viva il Santo Padre,
and, prostrating themselves on the ground before his mule, Benedizione
Santo Padre. The Holy Father took particular care to wave his hand in the
form of the cross, that the blessings he pronounced at the same instant
might have the greater efficacy. As his Holiness is employed in this
manner during the whole procession, he cannot be supposed to give the
least attention to his mule, the bridle of which is held by two persons
who walk by his side, with some others, to catch the _infallible_ Father
of the Church, and prevent his being thrown to the ground, in case the
mule should stumble.

At the entrance of the Capitol he was met by the Senator of Rome,
who, falling on his knees, delivered the keys into the hands of his
Holiness, who pronounced a blessing over him, and restored him the keys.
Proceeding from the Capitol, the Pope was met by a deputation of Jews,
soon after he had passed through the Arch of Titus. They were headed
by the chief Rabbi, who presented him with a long scroll of parchment,
on which is written the whole law of Moses in Hebrew. His Holiness
received the parchment in a very gracious manner, telling the Rabbi at
the same time, that he accepted his present out of respect to the law
itself, but entirely rejected his interpretation; for the ancient law,
having been fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah, was no longer in
force. As this was not a convenient time or place for the Rabbi to enter
into a controversy upon the subject, he bowed his head in silence, and
retired with his countrymen, in the full conviction, that the falsehood
of the Pope’s assertion would be made manifest to the whole universe in
due time. His Holiness, mean while, proceeded in triumph, through the
principal streets, to the Vatican.

This procession, I am told, is one of the most showy and magnificent
which takes place, on any occasion, in this city; where there are
certainly more solemn exhibitions of the same kind than in any other
country; yet, on the whole, I own it did not afford me much satisfaction;
nor could all their pomp and finery prevent an uneasy recollection, not
unmixed with sentiments of indignation, from obtruding on my mind. To
feel unmixed admiration in beholding the Pope and his Cardinals marching
in triumph to the Capitol, one must forget those who walked in triumph
formerly to the same place; forget entirely that such men as Camillus,
Scipio, Paulus Æmilius, and Pompey, ever existed; they must forget Cato,
whose campaign in Africa was so much admired by Lucan, that he declares,
he would rather have had the glory of that single campaign than Pompey’s
three triumphs, and all the honour he obtained by finishing the Jugurthan
war.

    Hunc ego per Syrtes, Libyæque extrema triumphum
    Ducere maluerim, quam ter Capitolia curru
    Scandere Pompeii, quam frangere colla Jugurthæ.

We must forget Caius Cassius, Marcus Brutus, and all the great and
virtuous men of ancient Rome, whom we have admired from our childhood,
and of whose great qualities our admiration increases with our experience
and knowledge of the present race of mankind. To be in the Capitol, and
not think and speak of the worthies of the ancient Republic, is almost
impossible.

    Quis te magne Cato tacitum; aut te Cosse relinquat?
    Quis Gracchi genus? aut geminos, duo fulmina belli,
    Scipiadas, &c. &c.



LETTER XXXIX.


                                                                    Rome.

Having said so much of St. Peter’s, unquestionably the finest piece
of modern architecture in Rome, allow me to mention some of the best
specimens of the ancient. I shall begin with the Pantheon, which, though
not the largest of the Roman temples, is the most perfect which now
remains. The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and the Temple of Peace,
if we may trust to the accounts we have of the first, and to the ruins
of the second, in the Campo Vaccino, were both much larger than the
Pantheon. In spite of the depredations which this last has sustained
from Goths, Vandals, and Popes, it still remains a beauteous monument
of Roman taste. The pavilion of the great altar, which stands under the
cupola in St. Peter’s, and the four wreathed pillars of Corinthian brass
which support it, were formed out of the spoils of the Pantheon, which,
after all, and with the weight of eighteen hundred years upon its head,
has still a probability of outliving its proud rapacious rival. From
the round form of this temple, it has obtained the name of Rotunda. Its
height is a hundred and fifty feet, and its diameter nearly the same.
Within, it is divided into eight parts; the gate at which you enter
forming one: the other seven compartments, if they may be so called, are
each of them distinguished by two fluted Corinthian pillars, and as many
pilasters of Giallo Antico. The capitals and bases are of white marble;
these support a circular entablature. The wall is perpendicular for half
the height of the temple; it then slopes forward as it ascends, the
circumference gradually diminishing, till it terminates in an opening
of about twenty-five feet diameter. There are no windows; the central
opening in the vault admitting a sufficiency of light, has a much finer
effect than windows could have had. No great inconveniency can happen
from this opening. The conical form of the temple prevents the rain
from falling near the walls where the altars now are, and where the
statues of the Gods were formerly placed. The rain which falls in the
middle immediately drills through holes which perforate a large piece
of porphyry that forms the centre of the pavement, the whole of which
consists of various pieces of marble, agate, and other materials, which
have been picked up from the ruins, and now compose a singular kind of
Mosaic work.

The portico was added by Marcus Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus. It
is supported by sixteen pillars of granite, five feet in diameter, and
of a single piece each. Upon the frieze, in the front, is the following
inscription in large capitals:

    M. AGRIPPA L. F. CONSUL TERTIUM FECIT.

Some are of opinion, that the Pantheon is much more ancient than the
Augustan age, and that the portico, which is the only part those
antiquarians admit to be the work of Agrippa, though beautiful in itself,
does not correspond with the simplicity of the temple.

As the Pantheon is the most entire, the Amphitheatre of Vespasian is the
most stupendous, monument of antiquity in Rome. It was finished by his
son Titus, and obtained the name of Colosseum, afterwards corrupted into
Coliseum, from a colossal statue of Apollo which was placed before it.
This vast structure was built of Tiburtine stone, which is remarkably
durable. If the public buildings of the ancient Romans had met with no
more inveterate enemy than Time, we might, at this day, contemplate the
greater number in all their original perfection; they were formed for
the admiration of much remoter ages than the present. This Amphitheatre
in particular might have stood entire for two thousand years to come:
For what are the slow corrosions of time, in comparison of the rapid
destruction from the fury of Barbarians, the zeal of Bigots, and the
avarice of Popes and Cardinals? The first depredation made on this
stupendous building, was by the inhabitants of Rome themselves, at that
time greater Goths than their conqueror. We are told, they applied to
Theodoric, whose court was then at Ravenna, for liberty to take the
stones of this Amphitheatre for some public work they were carrying on.
The marble cornices, the friezes, and other ornaments of this building,
have been carried away, at various times, to adorn palaces; and the
stones have been taken to build churches, and sometimes to repair the
walls of Rome, the most useless work of all. For of what importance are
walls to a city, without a garrison, and whose most powerful artillery
affects not the bodies, but only the minds, of men? About one-half of the
external circuit still remains, from which, and the ruins of the other
parts, a pretty exact idea may be formed of the original structure. By
a computation made by Mr. Byres, it could contain eighty-five thousand
spectators, making a convenient allowance for each. Fourteen chapels
are now erected within side, representing the stages of our Saviour’s
passion. This expedient of consecrating them into Christian chapels and
churches, has saved some of the finest remains of Heathen magnificence
from utter destruction.

Our admiration of the Romans is tempered with horror, when we reflect on
the use formerly made of this immense building, and the dreadful scenes
which were acted on the Arena; where not only criminals condemned to
death, but also prisoners taken in war, were obliged to butcher each
other, for the entertainment of an inhuman populace. The combats of
Gladiators were at first used in Rome at funerals only, where prisoners
were obliged to assume that profession, and fight before the tombs of
deceased Generals or Magistrates, in imitation of the barbarous custom of
the Greeks, of Sacrificing captives at the tombs of their heroes.

This horrid piece of magnificence, which, at first, was exhibited only on
the death of Consuls, and men of the highest distinction, came gradually
to be claimed by every citizen who was sufficiently rich to defray the
expence; and as the people’s fondness for these combats increased every
day, they were no longer confined to funeral solemnities, but became
customary on days of public rejoicing, and were exhibited, at amazing
expence, by some Generals after victories. In the progress of riches,
luxury, and vice, it became a profession in Rome to deal in gladiators.
Men called Lanistæ made it their business to purchase prisoners and
slaves, to have them instructed in the use of the various weapons; and
when any Roman chose to amuse the people with their favourite show, or
to entertain a select company of his own friends upon any particular
occasion, he applied to the Lanistæ; who, for a fixed price, furnished
him with as many pairs of those unhappy combatants as he required. They
had various names given to them, according to the different manner in
which they were armed. Towards the end of the republic, some of the rich
and powerful citizens had great numbers of gladiators of their own, who
were daily exercised by the Lanistæ, and always kept ready for fighting
when ordered by their proprietor. Those who were often victorious, or had
the good fortune to please their masters, had their liberty granted them,
on which they generally quitted their profession; though it sometimes
happened, that those who were remarkably skilful, continued it, either
from vanity or poverty, even after they had obtained their freedom; and
the applause bestowed on those gladiators, had the effect of inducing men
born free, to choose this for a profession, which they exercised for
money, till age impaired their strength and address. They then hung up
their arms in the temple of Hercules, and appeared no more on the Arena.

                  ————Veianius armis
    Herculis ad postem fixis latet abdicus agro,
    Ne populum extrema toties exoret Arena.

There were many Amphitheatres at Rome, in other towns of Italy, and in
many provinces of the empire; but this of Vespasian was the largest that
ever was built. That at Verona is the next in size in Italy, and the
remains of the Amphitheatre at Nîmes, in the south of France, prove, that
it was the most magnificent structure of this kind in any of the Roman
provinces. The Romans were so excessively fond of these exhibitions,
that wherever colonies were established, it was found requisite to give
public shews of this kind, to induce the emigrants to remain in their
new country: and in the provinces where it was thought necessary that
a considerable body of troops should remain constantly, structures of
this kind were erected, at vast labour and expence, and were found the
best means of inducing the young officers to submit cheerfully to a long
absence from the capital, and of preventing the common soldiers from
desertion. The profusion of human blood, which was shed in the Arena, by
the cruel prodigality of the Emperors, and the refinements which were
invented to augment the barbarous pleasure of the spectators, are proofs
of the dreadful degree of corruption and depravity to which human nature
is capable of attaining, even among a learned and enlightened people,
when unrestrained by the mild precepts of a benevolent religion. We are
told, that the gladiators bred for the use of particular patricians, as
well as those kept for hire by the Lanistæ, were, for some weeks before
they appeared in the Arena, fed upon such succulent diet, as would
soonest fill their veins, that they might bleed freely at every wound.
They were instructed by the Lanistæ, not only in the art of fighting,
but also in the most graceful manner of dying; and when those wretched
men felt themselves mortally wounded, they assumed such attitudes as
they knew pleased the beholders; and they seemed to receive pleasure
themselves from the applause bestowed upon them in their last moments.

When a gladiator was thrown by his antagonist to the ground, and directly
laid down his arms, it was a sign that he could resist no longer,
and declared himself vanquished; but still his life depended on the
spectators. If they were pleased with his performance, or, in a merciful
disposition, they held up their hands, with the thumb folded down, and
the life of the man was spared; but if they where in the humour to see
him die, they held up the hand clenched, with the thumb only erect. As
soon as the prostrate victim beheld that fatal signal, he knew all hopes
of life were vain, and immediately presented his breast to the sword of
his adversary, who, whatever his own inclinations might be, was obliged
to put him to death instantly.

As these combats formed the supreme pleasure of the inhabitants of
Rome, the most cruel of their Emperors were sometimes the most popular;
merely because they gratified the people, without restraint, in their
favourite amusement. When Marcus Aurelius thought it necessary, for
the public service, to recruit his army from the gladiators of Rome;
it raised more discontent among the populace, than many of the wildest
pranks of Caligula. In the times of some of the Emperors, the lower
class of Roman citizens were certainly as worthless a set of men as
ever existed; stained with all the vices which arise from idleness
and dependence; living upon the largesses of the great; passing their
whole time in the Circus and Amphitheatres, where every sentiment of
humanity was annihilated within their breasts, and where the agonies and
torments of their fellow-creatures were their chief pastime. That no
occasion might be lost of indulging this savage taste of the populace,
criminals were condemned to fight with wild beasts in the Arena, or were
exposed, unarmed, to be torn in pieces by them; at other times, they
were blindfolded, and in that condition obliged to cut and slaughter
each other. So that, instead of victims solemnly sacrificed to public
justice, they seemed to be brought in as buffoons to raise the mirth of
the spectators.

The practice of domestic slavery had also a great influence in rendering
the Romans of a cruel and haughty character. Masters could punish their
slaves in what manner, and to what degree, they thought proper. It was
as late as the Emperor Adrian’s time, before any law was made, ordaining
that a master who should put his slave to death without sufficient
cause, should be tried for his life. The usual porter at the gate of
a great man’s house in ancient Rome, was a chained slave. The noise
of whips and lashes resounded from one house to another, at the time
when it was customary for the masters of families to take an account of
the conduct of their servants. This cruel disposition, as is the case
wherever domestic slavery prevails, extended to the gentle sex, and
hardened the mild tempers of the women. What a picture has Juvenal drawn
of the toilet of a Roman lady!

    Nam si constituit, solitoque decentius optat
    Ornari —— ——
    Componit crinem laceratis ipsa capillis,
    Nuda humeros Psecas infelix, nudisque mamillis,
    Altior hic quare cincinnus? Taurea punit.
    Continuo flexi crimen facinusque capilli.

It was customary for avaricious masters, to send their infirm and
sick slaves, to an island in the Tiber, where there was a Temple of
Æsculapius; if the God pleased to recover them, the master took them
back to his family; if they died, no farther inquiry was made about
them. The Emperor Claudius put a check to this piece of inhumanity, by
ordaining, that every sick slave, thus abandoned by his master, should be
declared free when he recovered his health.

From these observations, are we to infer, that the ancient Romans were
_naturally_ of a more cruel turn of mind, than the present inhabitants
of Europe? Or is there not reason to believe that, in the same
circumstances, modern nations would act in the same manner? Do we not
perceive, that the practice of domestic slavery has, at this day, a
strong tendency to render men haughty, capricious, and cruel. Such, I am
afraid, is the nature of man, that if he has power without controul, he
will use it without justice; absolute power has a strong tendency to make
good men bad, and never fails to make bad men worse.

It was an observation of the late Mareschal Saxe, that in all the
contests between the army waggoners and their horses, the waggoners were
in the wrong; which he imputed to their having absolute authority over
the horses. In the qualities of the head and heart, and in most other
respects, he thought the men and horses on an equality. Caprice is a
vice of the temper, which increases faster than any other by indulgence;
it often spoils the best qualities of the heart, and, in particular
situations, degenerates into the most unsufferable tyranny. The first
appearance of it in young minds ought to be opposed with firmness, and
prevented from farther progress, otherwise our future attempts to arrest
it may be fruitless; for

    Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo.

The combats in the Amphitheatres were, as I have already said, introduced
by degrees at Rome. The custom of making prisoners fight around the
funeral piles of deceased heroes, was a refinement on a more barbarous
practice; and the Romans, no doubt, valued themselves on their humanity,
in not butchering their prisoners in cold blood, as was the custom in
the earliest ages of Greece. The institution of obliging criminals to
fight in the Arena, and thus giving them a chance for their lives, would
also appear to them a very merciful improvement on the common manner of
execution. The grossest sophistry will pass on men’s understandings, when
it is used in support of measures to which they are already inclined. And
when we consider the eagerness with which the populace of every country
behold the accidental combats which occur in the streets, we need not
be surprised to find, that when once the combats of gladiators were
permitted among the Roman populace, on whatever pretext, the taste for
them would daily increase, till it erased every idea of compunction from
their breasts, and became their ruling passion. The Patricians, enriched
by the pillage of kingdoms, and knowing that their power at Rome, and
consequently all over the world, depended on the favour and suffrages of
the people, naturally sought popularity by gratifying their favourite
taste. Afterwards the Emperors might imagine, that such shows would keep
the citizens from reflecting on their lost liberties, or the enormities
of the new form of government; and, exclusive of every political reason,
many of them, from the barbarous disposition of their own minds, would
take as much pleasure in the scenes acted on the Arena, as the most
savage of the vulgar.

While we express horror and indignation at the fondness which the Romans
displayed for the bloody combats of the Amphitheatre, let us reflect,
whether this proceeded from any peculiar cruelty of disposition inherent
in that people, or belongs to mankind in general, let us reflect, whether
it is probable, that the people of any other nation would not be
gradually led, by the same degrees, to an equal passion for such horrid
entertainments. Let us consider, whether there is reason to suspect
that those who arm cocks with steel, and take pleasure in beholding
the spirited little animals cut one another to death, would not take
the same, or superior delight, in obliging men to slaughter each other
if they had the power.—And what restrains them? Is there no reason to
believe, that the influence of a purer religion, and brighter example,
than were known to the Heathen world, prevents mankind from those
enormities now, which were permitted and countenanced formerly? As soon
as the benevolent precepts of Christianity were received by the Romans
as the laws of the Deity, the prisoners and the slaves were treated with
humanity, and the bloody exhibitions in the Amphitheatres were abolished.



LETTER XL.


                                                                    Rome.

You are surprised that I have hitherto said nothing of the Capitol,
and the Forum Romanum, which is by far the most interesting scene of
antiquities in Rome. The objects worthy of attention are so numerous,
and appear so confused, that it was a considerable time before I could
form a tolerable distinct idea of their situation with respect to each
other, though I have paid many more visits to this than any other spot
since I have been in this city. Before we entered a church or palace, we
ran thither with as much impatience as if the Capitol had been in danger
of falling before our arrival. The approach to the modern Campidoglio
is very noble, and worthy of the genius of Michael Angelo. The building
itself is also the work of that great artist; it is raised on part of
the ruins of the ancient Capitol, and fronts St. Peter’s church, with
its back to the Forum and old Rome. Ascending this celebrated hill, the
heart beats quick, and the mind warms with a thousand interesting ideas.
You are carried back, at once, to the famous robber who first founded
it. Without thinking of the waste of time which must have effaced what
you are looking for, you cast about your eyes in search of the path by
which the Gauls climbed up, and where they were opposed and overthrown by
Manlius. You withdraw your eyes, with disdain, from every modern object,
and are even displeased with the elegant structure you see before you,
and contemplate, with more respect, the ruins on which it is founded;
because they are more truly Roman.

The two Sphynxes of basalte, at the bottom of the ascent, though
excellent specimens of Egyptian sculpture, engage little of your
attention. Warm with the glory of Rome, you cannot bestow a thought on
the hieroglyphics of Egypt. At sight of the trophies erected in honour of
C. Marius, all those bloody scenes acted by the fury of party and demon
of revenge, during the most calamitous period of the republic, rush upon
the memory; and you regret that Time, who has spared the monuments of
this fierce soldier, has destroyed the numerous trophies raised to the
Fabii, the Scipio’s, and other heroes, distinguished for the virtues of
humanity, as well as the talents of Generals. You are struck with the
colossal statues of Castor and Pollux, and, in the heat of enthusiasm,
confounding the fictions of poetry with historical truth, your heart
applauds their fraternal affection, and thanks them for the timely
assistance they afforded the Romans in a battle with the Volsci. You
rejoice at their good fortune, which, on earth, has procured them a place
in the Capitol, and, in heaven, a seat by Hercules. Horace informs us,
that Augustus drinks his nectar, reclined between them and that demigod—

    Quos inter Augustus recumbens
    Purpureo bibit ore nectar.

From them you move forward, and your admiration is fixed by the animated
equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which naturally brings to your
memory that happy period, when the Roman empire was governed by a Prince
who, during a long reign, made the good of his subjects the chief object
of his government. You proceed to the upper end of the area; your eye
is caught by a majestic female figure, in a sitting attitude; you are
told it is a Roma Triumphans; you view her with all the warmth of fond
enthusiasm, but you recollect that she is no longer Triumphans; you cast
an indignant eye on St. Peter’s church, to which she also seems to look
with indignation. Is there such another instance of the vicissitude of
human things; the proud Mistress of the World under the dominion of a
priest? Horace was probably accused of vanity when he wrote these lines:

              ————Usque ego postera
    Crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium
    Scandet cum tacita virgine Pontifex.

Yet the poet’s works have already outlived this period fourteen hundred
years; and Virgil has transmitted the memory of the friendship and fame
of Nisus and Euryalus, the same space of time beyond the period which he
himself, in the ardour of poetic hope, had fixed for its limits.

    Fortunati ambo si quid mea carmina possunt,
    Nulla dies unquam memori vos eximet ævo:
    Dum domus Æneæ Capitoli immobile saxum
    Accolet, imperiumque Pater Romanus habebit.

In the two wings of the modern palace, called the Campidoglio, the
Conservators of the city have apartments; their office is analogous
to that of the ancient Ædiles. In the main body an Italian nobleman,
appointed by the Pope, has his residence, with the title of Senator of
Rome; the miserable representation of that Senate which gave laws to the
world. The most defaced ruin, the most shapeless heap of antique rubbish
in all Rome, cannot convey a feebler image of the building to which they
belonged, than this deputy of the Pope does of that august assembly. The
beautiful approach to this palace, and all the ornaments which decorate
the area before it, cannot detain you long from the back view to which
the ancient Capitol fronted. Here you behold the Forum Romanum, now
exhibiting a melancholy but interesting view of the devastation wrought
by the united force of time, avarice, and bigotry. The first objects
which meet your eye, on looking from this side of the hill, are three
fine pillars, two-thirds of them buried in the ruins of the old Capitol.
They are said to be the remains of the temple of Jupiter Tonans, built by
Augustus, in gratitude for having narrowly escaped death from a stroke of
lightning. Near these are the remains of Jupiter Stator, consisting of
three very elegant small Corinthian pillars, with their entablature; the
Temple of Concord, where Cicero assembled the Senate, on the discovery
of Catiline’s conspiracy; the Temple of Romulus and Remus, and that of
Antoninus and Faustina, just by it, both converted into modern churches;
the ruins of the magnificent Temple of Peace, built immediately after
the taking of Jerusalem, the Roman empire being then in profound peace.
This is said to have been the finest temple in old Rome; part of the
materials of Nero’s Golden House, which Vespasian pulled down, were used
in erecting this grand edifice. The only entire pillar remaining of this
temple, was placed by Paul V. before the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
It is a most beautiful fluted Corinthian column, and gives a very high
idea of the temple to which it originally belonged. His Holiness has
crowned it with an image of the Virgin Mary; and, in the inscription on
the pedestal, he gives his reason for choosing a column belonging to the
Temple of Peace, as an ornament to a church dedicated to the Virgin.

    Ex cujus visceribus Princeps veræ Pacis genitus est.

Of many triumphal arches which stood formerly in Rome, there are only
three now remaining, all of them near the Capitol, and forming entries
to the Forum; those of Titus, Septimius Severus, and Constantine. The
last is by much the finest of the three; but its chief beauties are not
genuine, nor, properly speaking, its own; they consist of some admirable
basso relievos, stolen from the Forum of Trajan, and representing that
Emperor’s victories over the Dacians. This theft might, perhaps, not have
been so notorious to posterity, if the artists of Constantine’s time had
not added some figures, which make the fraud apparent, and, by their
great inferiority, evince the degeneracy of the arts in the interval
between the reigns of these two Emperors.

The relievos of the arch of Titus represent the table of shew-bread,
the trumpets, the golden candlesticks with seven branches, and other
utensils, brought from the Temple of Jerusalem. The quarter which
is allotted for the Jews is not at a great distance from this arch.
There are about nine thousand of that unfortunate nation at present
in Rome; the lineal descendants of those brought captive, by Titus,
from Jerusalem. I have been assured that they always cautiously avoid
passing through this arch, though it lies directly in their way to the
Campo Vaccino, choosing rather to make a circuit, and enter the Forum at
another place. I was affected at hearing this instance of sensibility
in a people who, whatever other faults they may have, are certainly not
deficient in patriotism, and attachment to the religion and customs of
their forefathers. The same delicacy of sentiment is displayed by a poet
of their own country, in the 137th psalm, as it is finely translated by
Buchanan:

    Dum procul a Patria mœsti Babylonis in oris,
      Fluminis ad liquidas forte sedemus aquas;
    Illa animum subiit species miseranda Sionis,
      Et numquam Patrii tecta videnda soli.
    ...
    O Solymæ, O adyta, et sacri penetralia templi
      Ullane vos animo deleat hora meo? &c.

You may read the whole; you will perhaps find some poetical beauties
which escaped your observation when you heard it sung in churches; but
the poet’s ardour seems to glow too violently towards the end of the
psalm.



LETTER XLI.


                                                                    Rome.

There are many other interesting ruins in and about the Campo Vaccino,
besides those I have mentioned; but of some structures which we know
formerly stood here, no vestige is now to be seen. This is the case
with the arch which was erected in honour of the Fabian family. There
is the strongest reason to believe, that the ancient Forum was entirely
surrounded with temples, basilicæ, and public buildings of various
kinds, and adorned with porticoes and colonades. In the time of the
Republic, assemblies of the people were held there, laws were proposed,
and justice administered. In it was the Rostrum, from whence the orators
harangued the people. All who aspired at dignities came hither to canvass
suffrages. The Bankers had their offices near the Forum, as well as
those who received the revenues of the Commonwealth; and all kind of
business was transacted in this place. In my visits to the Campo Vaccino,
I arrange the ancient Forum in the best manner I can, and fix on the
particular spot where each edifice stood. In this I am sometimes a little
cramped in room; for the space between the Palatine Hill and the Capitol
is so small, and I am so circumscribed by arches and temples, whose ruins
still remain, that I find it impossible to make the Forum Romanum larger
than Covent Garden. I looked about for the Via Sacra, where Horace met
with his troublesome companion. Some people imagine, this was no other
than the Forum itself; but I am clearly of opinion, that the Via Sacra
was a street leading to the Forum, and lost in it, as a street in London
terminates at a square. I have, at last, fixed on the exact point where
it joins the Forum, which is very near the Meta Sudans. If we should ever
meet here, I shall convince you by local arguments, that I am in the
right; but I fear it would be very tedious, and not at all convincing, to
transmit them to you in writing.

As Rome increased in size and number of inhabitants, one Forum was found
too small, and many others were erected in process of time; but when we
speak of the Forum, without any distinguishing epithet, the ancient one
is understood.

The Tarpeian Rock is a continuation of that on which the Capitol was
built; I went to that part from which criminals condemned to death were
thrown. Mr. Byres has measured the height; it is exactly fifty-eight
feet perpendicular; and he thinks the ground at the bottom, from evident
marks, is twenty feet higher than it was originally; so that, before this
accumulation of rubbish, the precipice must have been about eighty feet
perpendicular. In reading the history of the Romans, the vast idea we
form of that people, naturally extends to the city of Rome, the hills
on which it was built, and every thing belonging to it. We image to
ourselves the Tarpeian Rock as a tremendous precipice; and, if afterwards
we ever have an opportunity of actually seeing it, the height falls so
short of our expectations, that we are apt to think it a great deal less
than it is in reality. A mistake of this kind, joined to a careless view
of the place, which is not in itself very interesting, has led Bishop
Burnet into the strange assertion, that the Tarpeian Rock is so very
low, that a man would think it no great matter to leap down it for his
diversion. Criminals thrown from this precipice, were literally thrown
out of the city of old Rome into the Campus Martius, which was a large
plain, of a triangular shape; two sides of the triangle being formed by
the Tiber, and the base by the Capitol, and buildings extending three
miles nearly in a parallel line with it. The Campus Martius had its name
from a small temple built in it, at a very early period, and dedicated
to Mars; or it might have this name from the military exercises performed
there. In this field, the great assemblies of the people, called Census
or Lustrum, were held every fifth year; the Consuls, Censors, and
Tribunes, were elected; the levies of troops were made; and there the
Roman youth exercised themselves in riding, driving the chariot, shooting
with the bow, using the sling, darting the javelin, throwing the discus
or quoit, in wrestling, running; and when covered with sweat and dust,
in consequence of these exercises, they washed their bodies clean by
swimming in the Tiber. Horace accuses Lydia of ruining a young man, by
keeping him from those manly exercises in which he formerly excelled.

    ——Cur apricum
    Oderit campum, patiens pulveris atque solis:
    Cur neque militaris
        Inter equales equitet, Gallica nec lupatis
    Temperet ora frænis?
        Cur timet flavum Tiberim tangere?

The dead bodies of the most illustrious citizens were also burnt in this
field, which was adorned gradually by statues and trophies, erected
to the memory of distinguished men. But every feature of its ancient
appearance, is now hid by the streets and buildings of modern Rome.

The inhabitants of Rome may be excused for chusing this situation for
their houses, though by so doing, they have deprived us of a view of
the Campus Martius. But surely they, or their Governors, ought to show
more solicitude for preserving the antiquities than they do; and they
might, without inconveniency, find some place for a Cow Market, of less
importance than the ancient Forum. It is not in their power to restore
it to its former splendor, but they might, at least, have prevented its
falling back to the state in which Æneas found it, when he came to visit
the poor Evander.

    Talibus inter se dictis ad tecta subibant
    Pauperis Evandri: passimque armenta videbant
    Romanoque Foro et lautis mugire carinis.

I have already said, that besides this, there were several Forums in
Rome, where Basilicæ were built, justice administered, and business
transacted. The Emperors were fond of having such public places named
after them. The accounts we have of the Forums of Nerva, and that of
Trajan, give the highest idea of their grandeur and elegance; three
Corinthian pillars, with their entablature, are all that remain of the
former; of the latter, the noble column placed in the middle, still
preserves all its original beauty. It consists of twenty-three circular
pieces of white marble, horizontally placed one above the other; it is
about twelve feet diameter at the bottom, and ten at the top. The plinth
of the base is a piece of marble twenty-one feet square. A staircase,
consisting of one hundred and eighty-three steps, and sufficiently wide
to admit a man to ascend, is cut out of the solid marble, leaving a small
pillar in the middle, round which the stair winds from the bottom to
the top. I observed a piece broken, as I went up, which shewed, that
those large masses of marble have been exquisitely polished on the flat
sides, where they are in contact with each other, that the adhesion and
strength of the pillar might be the greater. The stairs are lighted by
forty-one windows, exceedingly narrow on the outside, that they might
not interrupt the connection of the basso relievos, but which gradually
widen within, and by that means give sufficient light. The base of the
column is ornamented with basso relievos, representing trophies of
Dacian armour. The most memorable events of Trajan’s expedition against
the Dacians, are admirably wrought in a continued spiral line from the
bottom of the column to the top. The figures towards the top, are too far
removed from the eye to be seen perfectly. To have rendered them equally
visible with those below, it would have been necessary to have made them
larger proportionably as they ascended. Viewed from any considerable
distance, all the sculpture is lost, and a plain fluted pillar, of the
same proportions, would have had as fine an effect. But such a frugal
plan would not have been so glorious to the Prince, whose victories are
engraven, or so interesting to the legionary soldiers, many of whom, no
doubt, are here personally represented. Besides, it would not now be near
so valuable a monument, in the eyes of antiquarians, or so useful a study
to sculptors and painters, who have occasion to represent the military
dress of the Romans, or the costume of the East in that age. Exclusive of
the statue, this beautiful pillar is a hundred and twenty feet high. The
ashes of Trajan were deposited in an urn at the bottom, and his statue at
the top. Pope Sixtus the Fifth, in the room of the Emperor’s, has placed
a statue of St. Peter upon this column. I observed to a gentleman, with
whom I visited this pillar, that I thought there was not much propriety
in placing the figure of St. Peter upon a monument, representing the
victories, and erected in honour of the Emperor Trajan. “There is some
propriety, however,” replied he coldly, “in having made the statue of
_brass_.”



LETTER XLII.


                                                                    Rome.

I Have been witness to the beatification of a Saint; he was of the
order of St. Francis, and a great many brethren of that order were
present, and in very high spirits on the occasion. There are a greater
number of ecclesiastics beatified, and canonized, than any other order
of men. In the first place, because, no doubt, they deserve it better;
and also, because they are more solicitous to have Saints taken from
among men of their own profession, and particular order, than people in
other situations in life are. Every monk imagines, it reflects personal
honour on himself, when one of his order is canonised. Soldiers,
lawyers, and physicians, would probably be happy to see some of their
brethren distinguished in the same manner; that they have not had this
gratification of late years, may be imputed to the difficulty of finding
suitable characters among them. Ancient history, indeed, makes mention of
some commanders of armies who were very great saints; but I have heard of
no physician who acquired that title since the days of St. Luke; or of a
single lawyer, of any age or country.

A picture of the present Expectant, a great deal larger than life, had
been hung up on the front of St. Peter’s church, several days before the
beatification took place. This ceremony was also announced by printed
papers, distributed by the happy brethren of St. Francis. On the day
of the solemnity, his Holiness, a considerable number of Cardinals,
many other ecclesiastics, all the Capucin Friars in Rome, and a great
concourse of spectators attended. The ceremony was performed in St.
Peter’s church. An ecclesiastic of my acquaintance procured us a very
convenient place for seeing the whole. The ceremony of beatification
is a previous step to that of canonization. The Saint, after he is
beatified, is entitled to more distinction in Heaven than before; but
he has not the power of freeing souls from purgatory till he has been
canonized; and therefore is not addressed in prayer till he has obtained
the second honour. On the present occasion, a long discourse was
pronounced by a Franciscan Friar, setting forth the holy life which this
Expectant had led upon earth, his devotions, his voluntary penances, and
his charitable actions; and a particular enumeration was made, of certain
miracles he had performed when alive, and others which had been performed
after his death by his bones. The most remarkable miracle, by himself in
person, was, his replenishing a lady’s cupboard with bread, after her
housekeeper, at the Saint’s instigation, had given all the bread of the
family to the poor.

This business is carried on in the manner of a law-suit. The Devil
is supposed to have an interest in preventing men from being made
Saints. That all justice may be done, and that Satan may have his due,
an advocate is employed to plead against the pretensions of the Saint
Expectant, and the person thus employed is denominated by the people, the
Devil’s Advocate. He calls in question the miracles said to have been
wrought by the Saint and his bones, and raises as many objections to the
proofs brought of the purity of his life and conversation as he can. It
is the business of the Advocate on the other side, to obviate and refute
these cavils. The controversy was carried on in Latin. It drew out to
a great length, and was by no means amusing. Your friend Mr. R——y, who
sat near me, losing patience, from the length of the ceremony, and some
twitches of the gout, which he felt at that moment, whispered me, “I
wish, from my heart, the Devil’s Advocate were with his client, and this
everlasting Saint fairly in Heaven, that we might get away.” The whole
party, of which I made one, were seized with frequent and long continued
yawnings, which I imagine was observed by some of the Cardinals, who sat
opposite to us. They caught the infection, and although they endeavoured
to conceal their gaping under their purple robes, yet it seemed to spread
and communicate itself gradually over the whole assembly, the Franciscan
Friars excepted; they were too deeply interested in the issue of the
dispute, to think it tedious. As often as the Devil’s Advocate stated an
objection, evident signs of impatience, contempt, surprise, indignation,
and resentment, appeared in the countenances of the venerable
brotherhood, according to their different characters and tempers. One
shook his head, and whispered his neighbour; another raised his chin, and
pushed up his under-lip with a disdainful smile; a third started, opened
his eyelids as wide as he could, and held up both his hands, with his
fingers extended; a fourth raised his thumb to his mouth, bit the nail
with a grin, and jerked the thumb from his teeth towards the adversary;
a fifth stared, in a most expressive manner, at the Pope, and then fixed
his eyes, frowning, on the Advocate. All were in agitation, till the
Saint’s Counsel began to speak, when a profound silence took place, and
the moment he had made his answer, their countenances brightened, a smile
of satisfaction spread around, and they nodded and shook their beards at
each other with mutual congratulations. In the mean time, the Cardinals,
and the other auditors, who were not asleep, continued yawning; for my
own part, I was kept awake only by the interlude of grimaces, played off
by the Capucins between the arguments. Exclusive of these, the making a
Saint of a Capucin, is the dulled business I ever was witness to. I hope
the man himself enjoys much felicity since the ceremony, in which case no
good-natured person will grudge the tedium and fatigue which he suffered
on the occasion. I ought to have told you, that the Advocate’s reasoning
was all in vain; the Devil lost his cause, without the possibility of
appeal. The Saint’s claim being confirmed, he was admitted into all the
privileges of beatification; the Convent defraying the expence of the
process.

As we returned, Mr. R——y asked, if I recollected the Saint’s name. I
said, I did not. “We must inform ourselves,” said he; “for when I meet
him above, I shall certainly claim some merit with him, from having done
penance at his beatification[1].”

    [1] I have been since informed, this new Saint is called St.
    Buonavantura; he was by birth a Neapolitan.



LETTER XLIII.


                                                                    Rome.

Travellers are too apt to form hasty, and, for the most part,
unfavourable opinions of national characters. Finding the customs and
sentiments of the inhabitants of the foreign countries through which they
pass, very different from their own, they are ready to consider them as
erroneous, and conclude, that those who act and think in a manner so
opposite to themselves, must be either knaves, fools, or both. In such
hasty decisions they are often confirmed by the partial representations
of a few of their own countrymen, or of other foreigners who are
established in some profession in those countries, and who have an
interest in giving bad impressions of the people among whom they reside.

That the Italians have an uncommon share of natural sagacity and
acuteness, is pretty generally allowed; but they are accused of being
deceitful, perfidious, and revengeful; and the frequent assassinations
and murders which happen in the streets of the great towns in Italy, are
brought as proofs of this charge. I have not remained a sufficient length
of time in Italy, supposing I were, in all other respects, qualified to
decide on the character of the inhabitants; but from the opportunities
I have had, my idea of the Italians is, that they are an ingenious
sober people, with quick feelings, and therefore irritable; but when
unprovoked, of a mild and obliging disposition, and less subject to
avarice, envy, or repining at the narrowness of their own circumstances,
and the comparative wealth of others, than most other nations. The
murders which occasionally happen, proceed from a deplorable want of
police, and some very impolitic customs, which have, from various causes,
crept among them, and would produce more frequent examples of the same
kind, if they prevailed to the same degree, in some other countries. I
beg you will keep in your mind, that the assassinations which disgrace
Italy, whatever may have been the case formerly, are now entirely
confined to the accidental squabbles which occur among the rabble. No
such thing has been known for many years past among people of condition,
or the middle rank of citizens; and with regard to the stabbings which
happen among the vulgar, they almost always proceed from an immediate
impulse of wrath, and are seldom the effect of previous malice, or a
premeditated plan of revenge. I do not know whether the stories we have
of mercenary bravos, men who formerly are supposed to have made it their
profession to assassinate, and live by the murders they committed, are
founded in truth; but I am certain, that at present there is no such
trade in this country. That the horrid practice of drawing the knife
and stabbing each other, still subsists among the Italian vulgar, I
am persuaded, is owing to the scandalous impunity with which it is
treated. The asylum which churches and convents offer to criminals,
operates against the peace of society, and tends to the encouragement of
this shocking custom in two different manners: First, it increases the
criminal’s hopes of escaping; secondly, it diminishes, in vulgar minds,
the idea of the atrocity of the crime. When the populace see a murderer
lodged within the sacred walls of a church, protected and fed by men who
are revered on account of their profession, and the supposed sanctity of
their lives; must not this weaken the horror which mankind naturally have
for such a crime, and which it ought to be the aim of every government to
augment?

Those who are willing to admit that this last consideration may have
the effect I have ascribed to it, on the minds of the vulgar, still
contend, that the hopes of impunity can have little influence in keeping
up the practice of stabbing; because, as has been already observed,
these stabbings are always in consequence of accidental quarrels and
sudden bursts of passion, in which men have no consideration about their
future safety. All I have to say in answer is, that if the observations
I have been able to make on the human character are well founded, there
are certain considerations which never entirely lose their influence
on the minds of men, even when they are in the height of passion. I do
not mean that there are not instances of men being thrown into such
paroxysms of fury, as totally deprive them of reflection, and make them
act like madmen, without any regard to consequences; but extraordinary
instances, which depend on peculiarities of constitution, and very
singular circumstances, cannot destroy the force of an observation
which, generally speaking, is found just. We every day see men, who
have the character of being of the most ungovernable tempers, who are
apt to fly into violent fits of passion upon the most trivial occasions,
yet, in the midst of all their rage, and when they seem to be entirely
blinded by fury, are still capable of making distinctions; which plainly
evince, that they are not so very much blinded by anger, as they would
seem to be. When people are subject to violent fits of choler, and to
an unrestrained licence of words and actions, only in the company of
those who, from their unfortunate situation in life, are obliged to bear
such abuse, it is a plain proof that considerations which regard their
own personal safety, have some influence on their minds in the midst of
their fury, and instruct them to be mad _certa ratione modoque_. This is
frequently unknown to those choleric people themselves, while it is fully
evident to every person of observation around them. What violent fits
of passion do some men indulge themselves in against their slaves and
servants, which they always impute to the ungovernable nature of their
own tempers, of which, however, they display the most perfect command
upon much greater provocations given by their superiors, equals, or by
any set of people who are not obliged to bear their ill humour. How often
do we see men who are agreeable, cheerful, polite, and good-tempered
to the world in general, gloomy, peevish, and passionate, to their
wives and children? When you happen to be a witness to any instance of
unprovoked domestic rage, into which they have allowed themselves to be
transported, they will very probably lament their misfortune, in having
more ungovernable tempers than the rest of mankind. But if a man does not
speak and act with the same degree of violence on an equal provocation,
without considering whether it comes from _superior_, _equal_, or
_dependant_, he plainly shews that he can govern his temper, and that his
not doing it on particular occasions, proceeds from the basest and most
despicable of all motives.

I remember, when I was on the continent with the English army, having
seen an officer beat a soldier very unmercifully with his cane: I was
then standing with some officers, all of whom seemed to be filled with
indignation at this mean exercise of power. When the person who had
performed the intrepid exploit came to join the circle, he plainly
perceived marks of disapprobation in every countenance; for which reason
he thought it necessary to apologize for what he had done. “Nothing,”
says he, “provokes me so much as a fellow’s looking saucily when I speak
to him. I have told that man so fifty times; and yet, on my reprimanding
him just now, for having one of the buttons of his waistcoat broken, he
_looked saucily_ full in my face; which threw me into such a passion,
that I could not help threshing him.—However, I am sorry for it, because
he has the character of being an honest man, and has always done his
duty, as a soldier, very well. How much,” continued he, “are those people
to be envied, who have a full command of their tempers!”

“No man can command it more perfectly than yourself,” said a gentleman
who was then in the foot-guards, and has since been a general officer.

“I often endeavour to do it,” replied the choleric man, “but always find
it out of my power. I have not philosophy enough to check the violence of
my temper when once I am provoked.”

“You certainly do yourself injustice, Sir,” said the officer; “no person
seems to have their passions under better discipline. With your brother
officers, I never saw you, in a single instance, break through the rules
of decorum, or allow your anger to overcome your politeness to them.”

“They never provoked me,” said the passionate man.

“Provoked you!” rejoined the other; “yes, Sir, often, and in a much
greater degree than the poor soldier. Do not I, at this moment, give you
ten thousand times more provocation than he, or any of the unfortunate
men under your command, whom you are so apt to beat and abuse, ever
did?—and yet you seem perfectly master of your temper.”

There was no way left by which the choleric man could prove the contrary,
except by knocking the other down; but that was a method of convincing
his antagonist which he did not think proper to use. A more intrepid
man, in the same predicament, would very probably have had recourse to
that expedient; but in general mankind are able, even in the violence
of passion, to estimate, in some measure, the risk they run; and the
populace of every country are more readily kindled to that _inferior_
degree of rage, which makes them lose their horror for the crime of
murder, and disregard the life of a fellow-creature, than to that
_higher_ pitch, which deprives them of all consideration for their own
personal safety.

In England, Germany, or France, a man knows, that if he commits a murder,
every person around him will, from that instant, become his enemy, and
use every means to seize him, and bring him to justice. He knows that
he will be immediately carried to prison, and put to an ignominious
death, amidst the execrations of his countrymen. Impressed with these
sentiments, and with the natural horror for murder which such sentiments
augment, the populace of those countries hardly ever have recourse to
stabbing in their accidental quarrels, however they may be inflamed with
anger and rage. The lowest blackguard in the streets of London will not
draw a knife against an antagonist far superior to himself in strength.
He will fight him fairly with his fists as long as he can, and bear the
severest drubbing, rather than use a means of defence which is held in
detestation by his countrymen, and which would bring himself to the
gallows.

The murders committed in Germany, France, or England, are therefore
comparatively few in number, and happen generally in consequence of a
pre-concerted plan, in which the murderers have taken measures for their
escape or concealment, without which they know that inevitable death
awaits them. In Italy the case is different; an Italian is not under the
influence of so strong an impression, that certain execution must be the
consequence of his committing a murder; he is at less pains to restrain
the wrath which he feels kindling within his breast; he allows his rage
full scope; and, if hard pressed by the superior strength of an enemy,
he does not scruple to extricate himself by a thrust of his knife; he
knows, that if some of the Sbirri are not present, no other person will
seize him; for _that_ office is held in such detestation by the Italian
populace, that none of them will perform any part of its functions. The
murderer is therefore pretty certain of gaining some church or convent,
where he will be protected, till he can compound the matter with the
relations of the deceased, or escape to some of the other Italian States;
which is no very difficult matter, as the dominions of none are very
extensive.

Besides, when any of these assassins has not had the good fortune to
get within the portico of a church before he is seized by the Sbirri,
and when he is actually carried to prison, it is not a very difficult
matter for his friends or relations to prevail, by their entreaties
and tears, on some of the Cardinals or Princes, to interfere in his
favour, and endeavour to obtain his pardon. If this is the case, and I
am assured from authority which fully convinces me, that it is, we need
be no longer surprised that murder is more common among the Italian
populace than among the common people of any other country. As soon as
asylums for such criminals are abolished, and justice is allowed to take
its natural course, that foul stain will be entirely effaced from the
national character of the modern Italians. This is already verified in
the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s dominions. The same edict which declared that
churches and convents should no longer be places of refuge for murderers,
has totally put a stop to the use of the stiletto; and the Florentine
populace now fight with the same blunt weapons that are used by the
common people of other nations.

I am afraid you will think I have been a little prolix on this occasion;
but I had two objects in view, and was solicitous about both. The first
was to shew, that the treacherous and perfidious disposition imputed to
the Italians, is, like most other national reflections, ill founded; and
that the facts brought in proof of the accusation, proceed from other
causes: the second was, to demonstrate to certain choleric gentlemen, who
pretend to have ungovernable tempers, as an excuse for rendering every
creature dependent on them miserable, that in their furious fits they not
only behave ridiculously, but basely. In civil life, in England, they
have the power of only making themselves contemptible; but in the army
or navy, or in our islands, they often render themselves the objects of
horror.



LETTER XLIV.


                                                                    Rome.

Thefts and crimes which are not capital are punished at Rome, and some
other towns of Italy, by imprisonment, or by what is called the Cord.
This last is performed in the street. The culprit’s hands are bound
behind by a cord, which runs on a pully; he is then drawn up twenty or
thirty feet from the ground, and, if lenity is intended, he is let down
smoothly in the same manner he was drawn up. In this operation the whole
weight of the criminal’s body is sustained by his hands, and a strong
man can bear the punishment inflicted in this manner without future
inconveniency; for the strength of the muscles of his arms enables him to
keep his hands pressed on the middle of his back, and his body hangs in
a kind of horizontal position. But when they intend to be severe, the
criminal is allowed to fall from the greatest height to which he had been
raised, and the fall is abruptly checked in the middle; by which means
the hands and arms are immediately pulled above the head, both shoulders
are dislocated, and the body swings, powerless, in a perpendicular line.
It is a cruel and injudicious punishment, and left too much in the power
of those who superintend the execution, to make it severe or not, as they
are inclined.

Breaking on the wheel is never used in Rome for any crime; but they
sometimes put in practice another mode of execution, which is much more
shocking in appearance than cruel in reality. The criminal being seated
on a scaffold, the executioner, who stands behind, strikes him on the
head with a hammer of a particular construction, which deprives him, at
once, of all sensation. When it is certain that he is completely dead,
the executioner, with a large knife, cuts his throat from ear to ear.
This last part of the ceremony is thought to make a stronger impression
on the minds of the spectators, than the bloodless blow which deprives
the criminal of life. Whether the advantages resulting from this are
sufficient to compensate for shocking the public eye with such abominable
sights, I very much question.

Executions are not frequent at Rome, for the reasons already given:
there has been only one since our arrival; and those who are of the
most forgiving disposition will acknowledge, that this criminal was not
put to death till the measure of his iniquity was sufficiently full;
he was condemned to be hanged for his fifth murder. I shall give you
some account of his execution, and the ceremonies which accompanied it,
because they throw some light on the sentiments and character of the
people.

First of all, there was a procession of priests, one of whom carried a
crucifix on a pole hung with black; they were followed by a number of
people in long gowns which covered them from head to foot, with holes
immediately before the face, through which those in this disguise could
see every thing perfectly, while they could not be recognized by the
spectators. They are of the Company della Misericordia, which is a
society of persons who, from motives of piety, think it a duty to visit
criminals under sentence of death, endeavour to bring them to a proper
sense of their guilt, assist them in making the best use of the short
time they have to live, and who never forsake them till the moment of
their execution. People of the first rank are of this society, and
devoutly perform the most laborious functions of it. All of them carried
lighted torches, and a few shook tin boxes, into which the multitude
put money to defray the expence of masses for the soul of the criminal.
This is considered by many as the most meritorious kind of charity; and
some, whose circumstances do not permit them to bestow much, confine
all the expence they can afford in charity, to the single article of
purchasing masses to be said in behalf of those who have died without
leaving a _farthing to save their souls_. The rich, say they, who have
much superfluous wealth, may throw away part of it in acts of _temporal_
charity; but it is, in a more particular manner, the duty of those who
have little to give, to take care that this little shall be applied to
the most beneficial purposes. What is the relieving a few poor families
from the frivolous distresses of cold and hunger, in comparison of
freeing them from many years burning in fire and brimstone? People are
reminded of this essential kind of charity, not only by the preachers,
but also by inscriptions upon the walls of particular churches and
convents; and sometimes the aid of the pencil is called in to awaken the
compunction of the unfeeling and hard-hearted. On the external walls of
some convents, immediately above the box into which you are directed
to put your money, views of purgatory are painted in the most flaming
colours, where people are seen in all the agonies of burning, raising
their indignant eyes to those unmindful relations and acquaintances,
who, rather than part with a little money, allow them to remain in those
abodes of torment. One can hardly conceive how any mortal can pass such
a picture without emptying his purse into the box, if, by so doing, he
believed he could redeem, I will not say a human creature, but even a
poor incorrigible dog, or vicious horse, from such a dreadful situation.
As the Italians in general seem to have more sensibility than any people
I am acquainted with, and as I see some, who cannot be supposed totally
in want of money, pass by those pictures every day without putting a
farthing into the box, I must impute this stinginess to a lack of faith
rather than of sensibility. Such unmindful passengers are probably of the
number of those who begin to suspect that the money of the living can
be of little use to the dead. Being absolutely certain that it gives
themselves much pain to part with it in this world, and doubtful whether
it will have any efficacy in abridging the pains of their friends in the
other, they hesitate for some time between the two risks, that of losing
their own money, and that of allowing their neighbour’s soul to continue
in torture; and it would appear that those sceptics generally decide the
dispute in favour of the money.

But in such a case as that which I have been describing, where a poor
wretch is just going to be thrust by violence out of one world, and
solicits a little money to secure him a tolerable reception in another,
the passions of the spectators are too much agitated for cold reasoning,
and the most niggardly sceptic throws his mite into the boxes of the
Compagnia della Misericordia. Immediately after them came the malefactor
himself, seated in a cart, with a Capucin Friar on each side of him.
The hangman, with two assistants, dressed in scarlet jackets, walked
by the cart. This procession having moved slowly round the gallows,
which was erected in the Piazza del Populo, the culprit descended from
the cart, and was led to a house in the neighbourhood, attended by the
two Capucins. He remained there about half an hour, was confessed, and
received absolution; after which he came out, exclaiming to the populace
to join in prayers for his soul, and walked with a hurried pace to the
gallows; the hangman and his assistants having hold of his arms, they
supported him up the ladder, the unhappy man repeating prayers as fast
as he could utter till he was turned off. He was not left a moment to
himself. The executioner stepped from the ladder, and stood with a foot
on each of his shoulders, supporting himself in that situation with his
hands on the top of the gallows, the assistants at the same time pulling
down the malefactor’s legs, so that he must have died in an instant. The
executioner, in a short time, slid to the ground along the dead body,
as a sailor slides on a rope. They then removed the cloth which covered
his face, and twirled the body round with great rapidity, as if their
intention had been to divert the mob; who, however, did not shew any
disposition to be amused in that manner. The multitude beheld the scene
with silent awe and compassion. During the time appointed by law for the
body to hang, all the members of the procession, with the whole apparatus
of torches, crucifixes, and Capucins, went into a neighbouring church,
at the corner of the Strada del Babbuino, and remained there till a mass
was said for the soul of the deceased; and when that was concluded, they
returned in procession to the gallows, with a coffin covered with black
cloth. On their approach, the executioner, with his assistants, hastily
retired among the crowd, and were no more allowed to come near the body.
The condemned person having now paid the forfeit due to his crimes, was
no longer considered as an object of hatred; his dead body was therefore
rescued from the contaminating touch of those who are held by the
populace in the greatest abhorrence. Two persons in masks, and with black
gowns, mounted the ladder and cut the rope, while others below, of the
same society, received the body, and put it carefully into the coffin. An
old woman then said, with an exalted voice, “Adesso spero che l’anima sua
sia in paradiso;” “Now I hope his soul is in heaven;” and the multitude
around seemed all inclined to hope the same.

The serious and compassionate manner in which the Roman populace
beheld this execution, forms a presumption of the gentleness of their
dispositions. The crimes of which this man had been guilty must naturally
have raised their indignation, and his profession had a tendency to
increase and keep it up; for he was one of the Sbirri, all of whom are
held in the most perfect detestation by the common people; yet the
moment they saw this object of their hatred in the character of a poor
condemned man, about to suffer for his crimes, all their animosity
ceased; no rancour was displayed, nor the least insult offered, which
could disturb him in his last moments. They viewed him with the eyes of
pity and forgiveness, and joined, with earnestness, in prayers for his
future welfare.

The manner in which this man was put to death was, no doubt, uncommonly
mild, when compared with the atrocity of his guilt; yet I am convinced,
that the solemn circumstances which accompanied his execution, made a
greater impression on the minds of the populace, and would as effectually
deter them from the crimes for which he was condemned, as if he had been
broken alive on the wheel, and the execution performed in a less solemn
manner.

Convinced as I am that all horrid and refined cruelty in the execution of
criminals is, at best, unnecessary, I never heard of any thing of that
nature without horror and indignation. Other methods, no way connected
with the sufferings of the prisoner, equally deter from the crime, and,
in all other respects, have a better influence on the minds of the
multitude. The procession described above, I plainly perceived, made a
very deep impression. I thought I saw more people affected by it than I
have formerly observed among a much greater crowd, who were gathered to
see a dozen or fourteen of their fellow-creatures dragged to the same
death for house breaking and highway robbery, mere venial offences, in
companion of what this Italian had perpetrated. The attendance of the
Capucins, the crucifixes, the Society of Misericordia, the ceremony of
confession, all have a tendency to strike the mind with awe, and keep
up the belief of a future state; and when the multitude behold so many
people employed, and so much pains taken, to save the soul of one of the
most worthless of mankind, they must think, that the saving of a soul
is a matter of great importance, and therefore naturally infer, that
the sooner they begin to take care of their own, the better. But when
criminals are carried to execution with little or no solemnity, amidst
the shouts of an unconcerned rabble, who applaud them in proportion to
the degree of indifference and impenitence they display, and consider
the whole scene as a source of amusement; how can such exhibitions make
any useful impression, or terrify the thoughtless and desperate from
any wicked propensity? If there is a country in which great numbers
of young inconsiderate creatures are, six or eight times every year,
carried to execution in this tumultuous, unaffecting manner, might not a
stranger conclude, that the view of the legislature was to cut off guilty
individuals in the least alarming way possible, that others might _not_
be deterred from following their example?



LETTER XLV.


                                                                    Rome.

Those who have a real pleasure in contemplating the remains of antique,
and the noblest specimens of modern architecture, who are struck with
the inimitable delicacy and expression of Greek sculpture, and wish to
compare it with the most successful efforts of the moderns, and who have
an unwearied admiration of the charms of painting, may, provided they
have not more important avocations elsewhere, employ a full year with
satisfaction in this city.

What is called a regular course with an Antiquarian, generally takes up
about six weeks; employing three hours a-day, you may, in that time,
visit all the churches, palaces, villas, and ruins, worth seeing, in or
near Rome. But after having made this course, however distinctly every
thing may have been explained by the Antiquarian, if you do not visit the
most interesting again and again, and reflect on them at more leisure,
your labour will be of little use; for the objects are so various, and
those you see on one day, so apt to be effaced by, or confounded with,
those you behold on another, that you must carry away a very faint and
indistinct recollection of any. Many travellers have experienced the
truth of this observation.

One young English gentleman, who happens not to be violently smitten with
the charms of virtù, and scorns to affect what he does not feel, thought
that two or three hours a-day, for a month or six weeks together, was
rather too much time to bestow on a pursuit in which he felt no pleasure,
and saw very little utility. The only advantage which, in his opinion,
the greater part of us reaped from our six weeks tour, was, that we
_could say_, we had seen a great many fine things which he had not seen.
This was a superiority which he could not brook, and which he resolved
we should not long enjoy. Being fully convinced, that the business might
be, with a little exertion, dispatched in a very short space of time,
he prevailed on a proper person to attend him; ordered a post-chaise
and four horses to be ready early in the morning, and driving through
churches, palaces, villas, and ruins, with all possible expedition, he
fairly saw, in two days, all that we had beheld during our crawling
course of six weeks. I found afterwards, by the list he kept of what he
had seen, that we had not the advantage of him in a single picture, or
the most mutilated remnant of a statue.

I do not propose this young gentleman’s plan, as the very best possible;
but of this I am certain, that he can give as satisfactory an account of
the curiosities of Rome, as some people of my acquaintance who viewed
them with _equal_ sensibility, and at a great deal more leisure.

Those travellers who cannot remain a considerable time at Rome, would
do well to get a judicious list of the most interesting objects in
architecture, sculpture, and painting, that are to be seen here; they
ought to visit these frequently, and these only, by which means they
will acquire a strong and distinct impression of what they see; instead
of that transient and confused idea which a vast number of things,
viewed superficially, and in a hurry, leave in the mind. After they have
examined, with due attention, the most magnificent and best preserved
remains of ancient architecture, very few have satisfaction in viewing a
parcel of old bricks, which, they are told, formed the foundation of the
baths of some of the Emperors. And there are not many who would regret
their not having seen great numbers of statues and pictures of inferior
merit, when they had beheld all that are universally esteemed the best.
Would it not be highly judicious, therefore, in the greatest number of
travellers, without abridging the usual time of the course, to make it
much less comprehensive?

Besides churches, there are about thirty palaces in Rome, as full of
pictures as the walls can bear. The Borghese Palace alone is said to
contain above sixteen hundred, all original. There are also ten or twelve
villas in the neighbourhood of this city, which are usually visited by
strangers. You may judge from this, what a task they undertake, who
resolve to go through the whole; and what kind of an idea they are likely
to carry away, who perform this task during a stay of a few months. Of
the villas, the Pineiana, which belongs to the Borghese family, is the
most remarkable. I shall confine myself to a few cursory remarks on
some of the most esteemed curiosities it contains. The Hermaphrodite,
of which you have seen so many prints and models, is accounted by many,
one of the finest pieces of sculpture in the world. The mattress, upon
which this fine figure reclines, is the work of the Cavalier Bernini,
and nothing can be more admirably executed. Some critics say, he has
performed his task _too well_, because the admiration of the spectator
is divided between the statue and the mattress. This, however, ought not
to be imputed as a fault to that great artist; since he condescended to
make it at all, it was his business to make it as perfect as possible. I
have heard of an artist at Versailles, in a different line, who attempted
something of the same nature; he had exerted all his abilities in making
a periwig for a celebrated preacher, who was to preach on a particular
occasion before the court; and he imagined he had succeeded to a miracle.
“I’ll be hanged,” said he to one of his companions, “if his Majesty, or
any man of taste, will pay much attention to the _sermon_ to-day.”

Among the antiques, there is a Centaur in marble, with a Cupid mounted
on his back. The latter has the cestus of Venus, and the ivy crown of
Bacchus, in allusion to beauty and wine; he beats the Centaur with his
fist, and seems to kick with violence to drive him along. The Centaur
throws back his head and eyes with a look of remorse, as if he were
unwilling, though forced, to proceed. The execution of this group, is
admired by those who look upon it merely as a jeu d’esprit; but it
acquires additional merit, when considered as allegorical of men who
are hurried on by the violence of their passions, and lament their own
weakness, while they find themselves unable to resist.

There is another figure which claims attention, more on account of the
allegory than the sculpture. This is a small statue of Venus Cloacina,
trampling on an impregnated uterus, and tearing the wings of Cupid.
The allegory indicates, that prostitution is equally destructive of
generation and love. Keysler mentioning this, calls it a statue of Venus,
lamenting her rashness in clipping Cupid’s wings.

The statue called Zingara, or the Fortune-teller, is antique, all but the
head, which is Bernini’s; the face has a strong expression of that sly
shrewdness, which belongs to those whose trade it is to impose on the
credulity of the vulgar; with a great look of some modern gypsies I have
seen, who have imposed most egregiously on the self-love and credulity of
the great.

Seneca dying in the Bath, in touchstone; round his middle is a girdle
of yellow marble; he stands in a bason of blueish marble lined with
porphyry; his knees seem to bend under him, from weakness; his features
denote faintness, languor, and the approach of death; the eyes are
enamelled, which gives the countenance a fierce and disagreeable look.
Colouring the eyes always has a bad effect in sculpture; they form too
violent a contrast with the other features, which remain of the natural
colour of the marble. When the eyes are enamelled, it is requisite that
all the face should be painted, to produce the agreeable harmony of life.

The Faun dandling an infant Bacchus, is one of the gayest figures that
can be imagined.

In this Villa, there are also some highly esteemed pieces by Bernini.
Æneas carrying his father; David slinging the stone at Goliah; and Apollo
pursuing Daphne: the last is generally reckoned Bernini’s master-piece;
for my part, I have so bad a taste as to prefer the second. The figure of
David is nervous, with great anatomical justness, and a strong expression
of keenness and exertion to hit his mark, and kill his enemy; but the
countenance of David wants dignity. An ancient artist, perhaps, could
not have given more ardour, but he would have given more nobleness to the
features of David. Some may say, that as he was but a shepherd, it was
proper he should have the look of a clown; but it ought to be remembered,
that David was a very extraordinary man; and if the artist who formed
the Belvedere Apollo, or if Agasias the Ephesian, had treated the same
subject, I imagine they would have rendered their work more interesting,
by blending the noble air of an hero with the simple appearance of a
shepherd. The figures of Apollo and Daphne err in a different manner.
The face and figure of Apollo are deficient in simplicity; the noble
simplicity of the best antique statues: he runs with affected graces,
and his astonishment at the beginning transformation of his mistress
is not, in my opinion, naturally expressed, but seems rather the
exaggerated astonishment of an actor. The form and shape of Daphne
are delicately executed; but in her face, beauty is, in some degree,
sacrificed to the expression of terror; her features are too much
distorted by fear. An ancient artist would have made her less afraid,
that she might have been more beautiful. In expressing terror, pain,
and other impressions, there is a point where the beauty of the finest
countenance ends, and deformity begins. I am indebted to Mr. Lock for
this observation. In some conversations I had with him at Cologny, on
the subject of Sculpture, that gentleman remarked, that it was in the
skilful and temperate exertion of her powers, in this noblest province
of the art, _expression_, that ancient sculpture so much excelled the
modern. She knew its limits, and had ascertained them with precision.
As far as expression would go hand in hand with grace and beauty, in
subjects intended to excite sympathy, she indulged her chisel; but where
agony threatened to induce distortion, and obliterate beauty, she wisely
set bounds to imitation, remembering, that though it may be moral to
pity ugliness in distress, it is more natural to pity beauty in the
same situation; and that her business was not to give the strongest
representation of nature, but the representation which would interest us
most. That ingenious gentleman, I remember, observed at the same time,
that the Greek artists have been accused of having sacrificed character
too much to technical proportion. He continued to observe, that what
is usually called character in a face, is probably excess in some of
its parts, and particularly of those which are under the influence of
the mind, the leading passion of which marks some feature for its own.
A perfectly symmetrical face bears no mark of the influence of either
the passions or the understanding, and reminds you of Prometheus’s clay
without his fire. On the other hand, the moderns, by sacrificing too
liberally those technical proportions, which, when religiously observed,
produce beauty, to expression, have generally lost the very point which
they contended for. They seemed to think, that when a passion was to
be expressed, it could not be expressed too strongly; and that sympathy
always followed in an exact proportion with the strength of the passion,
and the force of its expression. But passions, in their extreme, instead
of producing sympathy, generally excite feelings diametrically opposite.
A vehement and clamorous demand of pity is received with neglect, and
sometimes with disgust; whilst a patient and silent acquiescence under
the pressure of mental affliction, or severe bodily pain, finds every
heart upon an unison with its sufferings. The ancients knew to what
extent expression may be carried, with good effect. The author of the
famous Laocoon, in the Vatican, knew where to stop, and if the figure had
been alone, it would have been perfect; there is exquisite anguish in
the countenance, but it is borne in silence, and without distortion of
features. Puget thought he could go beyond the author of Laocoon; he gave
voice to his Milo; he made him roaring with pain, and lost the sympathy
of the spectator. In confirmation of this doctrine, Mr. Lock desired,
that when I should arrive at Rome, I would examine, with attention, the
celebrated statue of Niobe, in the Villa de Medici. I have done so again
and again, and find his remarks most strikingly just. The author of the
Niobe has had the judgment not to exhibit all the distress which he might
have placed in her countenance. This consummate artist was afraid of
disturbing her features too much, knowing full well, that the point where
he was to expect the most sympathy was there, where distress co-operated
with beauty, and where _our pity met our love_. Had he sought it one step
farther, in _expression_, he had lost it. It is unjust, you will say,
that men should not sympathise with homely women in distress, in the same
degree as they do with the beautiful. That is very true; but it is the
business of the sculptor to apply his art to men as he finds them, not as
they ought to be. Beside, this principle has full force, and is strictly
true, only in sculpture and painting. For, in real life, a woman may
engage a man’s esteem and affections by a thousand fine qualities, and a
thousand endearing ties, though she is entirely deficient in beauty.

This Villa is also enriched by one of the most animated statues in the
world, and which, in the opinion of many men of taste, comes nearest, and
in the judgment of some, equals the Apollo of the Vatican. I mean the
statue of the fighting Gladiator. It is difficult, however, to compare
two pieces whose merits are so different. The Apollo is full of grace,
majesty, and conscious superiority; he has shot his arrow, and knows its
success. There is, indeed, a strong expression of indignation, which
opens his lips, distends his nostrils, and contracts his brows; but it
is the indignation of a superior being, who punishes while he scorns the
efforts of his enemy. The Gladiator, on the contrary, full of fire and
youthful courage, opposes an enemy that he does not fear; but whom, it is
evident, he thinks worthy of his utmost exertion; every limb, nerve, and
sinew, is in action; his ardent features indicate the strongest desire,
the highest expectation, but not a perfect security of victory. His shape
is elegant as well as nervous, expressive of agility as well as strength,
and equally distant from the brawny strength of the Farnesian Hercules,
and the effeminate softness of the Belvedere Antinous. The action is
transitive (if the term may be so used), and preparatory only to another
disposition of body and limbs, which are to enable him to strike, and
which he cannot do in his present position; for the moment his right arm
crossed the perpendicular line of his right leg, the whole figure would
be out of its centre. His action seems a combination of the defensive and
offensive; defensive in the _present_ moment, the left arm being advanced
to secure the adversary’s blow; and preparing for offence in the next,
the left leg already taking its spring to advance in order to give the
figure a centre, which may enable it to strike, without risk of falling,
if the blow should not take place. The action of the right arm, however,
will always remain in some degree problematical, the ancient being lost;
by whom the modern arm is restored, I never heard.

Though this fine figure generally goes by the name of the fighting
Gladiator, some antiquarians cannot allow, that ever it was intended to
represent a person of that profession, but a Victor at the Olympic games;
and allege, that Agasias of Ephesus, the sculptor’s name, being inscribed
upon the pedestal, supports their opinion, because the Greeks never used
gladiators. But I fear this argument has little weight; for the Greek
slaves at Rome put their name to their work; and the free Greek artists,
working in Greece, in public works, found difficulty in obtaining the
same indulgence. Those who wish to rescue this statue from the ignoble
condition of a common Gladiator, say further, that he looks up as if his
adversary were on horseback, adding, that gladiators never fought on
foot against horsemen on the Arena. Here again, I am afraid, they are
mistaken. He looks no higher than the eye of an enemy on foot; the head
must have a much greater degree of elevation to look up to the eye of an
horseman, which is the part of your adversary which you always fix.

Some learned gentlemen, not satisfied that this statue should be thrown
indiscriminately among Gladiators and Victors of the Olympic games, have
given it a particular and lasting character; they roundly assert, that it
is the identical statue, made by order of the Athenian State, in honour
of their countryman Chabrias; and that it is precisely in the attitude
which, according to Cornelius Nepos, that hero assumed, when he repulsed
the army of Agesilaus. This idea is in the true spirit of an antiquary.

If, upon turning to that author, you remain unconvinced, and are
interested in the honour of the statue, I can furnish you with no
presumptive proof of its original dignity, except, that the character
of the face is noble and haughty, unlike that of a slave and mercenary
Gladiator. And there is no rope around the neck, as the Gladiator Moriens
has, whom that circumstance sufficiently indicates to have been in that
unfortunate situation.



LETTER XLVI.


                                                                    Rome.

A few days since I went to call on an artist of my acquaintance. I
met, coming out of his door, an old woman, and a very handsome girl,
remarkably well shaped. I rallied him a little on the subject of his
visitors, and his good fortune in being attended in a morning by
the prettiest girl I had seen since I came to Rome. “I think myself
fortunate,” said he, “in having found a girl so perfectly well made, who
allows me to study her charms without restraint, and at a reasonable
price; but I assure you, I can boast of no other kind of good fortune
with her.” “I am convinced,” rejoined I, “that you take great pleasure
in your studies, and there can be no doubt that you have made a very
desirable progress.” “Of that you shall be the judge,” replied he,
leading me into another room, where I saw a full length painting of
the girl, in the character of Venus, and in the _usual dress_ of that
goddess. “There,” said he, “is the only effect my studies have had
hitherto, and I begin to suspect that they will never produce any thing
more nearly connected with the original.” He then informed me, that the
old woman I had seen was the girl’s mother, who never failed to accompany
her daughter, when she came as a model to him; that the father was a
tradesman, with a numerous family, who thought this the most innocent
use that his daughter’s beauty could be put to, till she should get a
husband; and to prevent its being put to any other, his wife always
accompanied her. “I have drawn her as Venus,” added he; “but, for any
thing I know to the contrary, I should have approached nearer to her
real character if I had painted her as Diana. She comes here merely in
obedience to her parents, and gains her bread as innocently as if she
were knitting purses in a convent from morning to night, without seeing
the face of a man.”

“However innocent all this may be,” said I, “there is something at which
the mind revolts, in a mother’s being present when her daughter acts a
part which, if not criminal, is, at least, highly indelicate.”

“To be sure,” replied the painter, “the woman has not quite so much
delicacy as to starve, rather than let her daughter stand as a model; yet
she seems to have attention to the girl’s chastity, too.”

“Chastity!” answered I, “why this would shock an _English_ woman more
than any thing which could be proposed to her. Every other kind of
liberty must have been previously taken with her. She must be a complete
prostitute in every sense of the word, before she could be brought to
submit to appear in this manner.”

“Your observation is true,” replied he; “but it does not prove that
those who submit to this, to prevent their becoming prostitutes, do not
judge better than those who become prostitutes, and then submit to this.
In different countries,” continued he, “people think very differently
on subjects of this kind. The parents of this girl, to my knowledge,
have refused considerable offers from men of fortune, to be allowed the
privilege of _visiting_ her. They are so very careful of preventing
every thing of that nature, that she actually lies in the same bed with
them both, which is another piece of indelicacy not uncommon among the
lower people in Italy. These parents have the more merit in refusing
such offers, as their acting otherwise would by no means be thought
extraordinary; nor would it raise the same degree of indignation here
as in some other countries of Europe. Breach of chastity, in females of
low rank, is not considered here in the same heinous light that it is
in some parts of Germany and Great Britain; where it is deemed a crime
of such magnitude, as to require expiation, by a public rebuke from the
parson in the middle of the church. I have heard of a clergyman in the
North, who had occasion to rebuke a young woman for having borne a child
before marriage. The accomplice in her guilt had married her immediately
after her recovery; but this did not abate the parson’s indignation
against the wickedness they had previously committed. Magdalen,” said
he, with an aweful tone of voice, to the woman, “you stand before this
congregation to be rebuked for the _barbarous_ and _unnatural_ crime of
fornication.”

“The reverend clergyman, said I, in all probability intended to terrify
his parishioners from such irregularities; and for this purpose imagined
there would be no harm in putting them in the most odious point of view.”
“This is attended, however, by one dreadful consequence,” replied the
artist, “that these unhappy creatures, to conceal a fault of which such a
horrible idea is given, and to prevent the shame of a public exposition
in the church, are sometimes tempted to commit a crime which is in
reality barbarous, and unnatural in the highest degree.”

“There is nothing,” continued he, “which has a greater tendency to
render any set of people worthless, than the idea that they are already
considered as such. The women all over Great Britain, who live in an open
and avowed breach of chastity, are generally more daringly wicked, and
devoid of principle, than the Italian women who take the same liberties.”

“Would you then,” said I, “have women of that kind more respected
in Great Britain, in hopes that it might, in time, make them more
respectable?”

“I express no desire on the subject,” replied he. “I was only going to
remark, that, in avoiding one inconveniency, mankind often fall into
another; and that we are too apt to censure and ridicule customs and
opinions different from those which prevail in our own country, without
having sufficiently considered all their immediate and remote effects.
I did not intend to decide, whether the indulgence with which women of
a certain class are viewed in Italy, or the ignominy with which they
are treated in Great Britain, has, upon the whole, the best effect in
society. But I have observed, that the public courtezans in England
often become quite abandoned, and forget all sense of gratitude or
affection, even to their parents. But in Italy, women who never put any
value on the virtue of chastity, those who sell their favours for money,
display a goodness of character in other respects, and continue their
duty and attachment to their parents as long as they live. Foreigners
who form a connection with a girl in this country, find themselves very
often obliged to maintain the father, mother, and whole family to which
she belongs. The lover generally considers this as a very troublesome
circumstance, and endeavours to inspire his Italian mistress with that
total neglect of her family which prevails among women of her stamp
in other countries; but he very seldom succeeds. An Italian woman is
unwilling to quit her native city and her family, even for a man she
loves; and seldom does, till he makes some provision for her nearest
relations.”

“You seem to have a very great affection for the Italian ladies; and, as
far as I can perceive,” said I, “your passion is universal to the whole
class in question; but you have said nothing to the essential article
of religion. It is to be hoped, they do not allow the duties of their
profession to make them neglect their souls.”

“I see,” replied the painter, “you are disposed to laugh at all I have
said in their favour; but in answer to your question, I will fairly
own, that their religious, or, if you please, we shall rather call
them their superstitious, sentiments, seem to be no way influenced by
their profession; nor are the duties of their profession in any degree
affected by these sentiments. They attend mass, and the ceremonies of
devotion, with as much punctuality as if their lives were regular in all
other respects; and they pass their lives, in other respects, as if they
had never heard of any religious system but that of Epicurus. In some
countries of Europe, women of their stamp often despise every appearance
of decency, assume the disgusting depravity of male debauchees, with all
the airs of affected infidelity, and real profligacy; but _here_ they
always remember they are women; and, after they have lost the most valued
and brightest ornament of their sex, still endeavour to retain some of
the others.”

“After all you have said in their favour,” said I, “”their condition
is certainly not to be envied. If, therefore, you have any regard for
your _young Venus_, you will do well to leave her under the care of her
mother, and never endeavour to introduce her into the community whose
eulogium you have been making.”

When I returned from the house of this artist, I found Mr. —— waiting for
me at our lodgings. He has of late paid his court very assiduously to a
lady of high rank in this place: she is distinguished, even here, for a
punctilious observance of all the ceremonies appointed by the church,
and could not eat meat on a meagre-day, or deviate from the canonical
regulations in any point of equal importance, without remorse; but in
matters of gallantry, she has the reputation of being infinitely more
liberal, both in her sentiments and practice. She has been for some time
provided with a very able and respectable lover, of her own country.
This did not make her blind to the good qualities of Mr. ——, with whom
she formed a very intimate connection, soon after his arrival here; not
that she prefers him to her other lover, but merely from a strong sense
of the truth and beauty of this arithmetical axiom—one and one make two.
The new arrangement with our countryman, however pleasing to the lady,
gave offence to her Father Confessor. The scrupulous ecclesiastic was
of opinion, that a connection of this nature with a heretic was more
criminal than with a man of her own communion. Mr. —— was just come from
the lady to our lodgings; he had found her in worse humour than he had
ever observed before, though her temper is not the mildest in the world.
Mr. —— entered as the Confessor went out; she shut the door after him
with a violence which shook the whole house, muttering, as she returned
to her seat, _Che ti possino Cascar le braccia Vecchio Dondolone_. Mr.
—— expressed his concern on seeing her so much agitated. “No wonder,”
said she, “that stubborn Animalaccio who is just gone out, has had the
insolence to refuse me absolution. As I expected you this morning, I sent
for him betimes, that the matter might have been expedited before you
should come; but here I have been above an hour endeavouring to persuade
him, but all to no purpose; nothing I could say was able to mollify the
obstinate old greasy rascal.” Mr. —— joined in abusing the Confessor’s
perverseness, hinting, at the same time, that she ought to despise it as
a matter of little importance; that she was sure of receiving absolution
sooner or later; and, whenever it happened, all the transactions of
the interval would be comprehended within that act of grace. Upon the
strength of this reasoning, Mr. —— was proceeding to fulfil the purpose
of his visit with as much alacrity as if the most complete discharge had
been granted for all proceedings—“_Pian Piano Idol mio_,” cried the lady,
“_bisogna rimettersi alla voluntà di Dio_.” She then told her lover, that
although she despised the Confessor as much as he could do, yet she must
take care of her own soul; that not having settled her accounts with
heaven for a considerable time, she was determined not to begin a new
score till the old should be cleared; adding, for her principal reason,
_Patto chiaro, amico caro_.


END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.



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


Page

12.

    A hundred hours of vexation will not pay one farthing of debt.

19.

    Thro’ various hazards, and many cross events.

62.

                  ——What we hear,
    With slower passion to the heart proceeds,
    Than when an audience views the very deeds.

                                       FRANCIS.

_Ibid._

    The business of the _drama_ must appear in action or
    description.

                                                 FRANCIS.

75.

    Like a youthful tree, of growth
    Insensible, high shoots his spreading fame.

                                       FRANCIS.

151.

    The place intended for the portrait of Marinus Fallierus, who
    was beheaded.

244.

    ——to the woods the wanton hies,
    And wishes to be seen before she flies.

                                    DRYDEN.

275.

    At length he founded Padua’s happy seat.

                                     DRYDEN.

_Ibid._

    Where Aponus first springs in smoky steam,
    And full Timavus rolls his nobler stream;
    Upon a hill that day, if same be true,
    A learned Augur sat the skies to view:
    ’Tis come, the great event is come (he cry’d)!
    Our impious chiefs their wicked war decide.

                                          ROWE.

281.

    Whence bull-faced Po adorned with gilded horns,
    Than whom no river, thro’ such level meads,
    Down to the sea with swifter torrents speeds.

                                          WARTON.

291.

    Three brothers, the sons of Maria Theresa, Queen of Bohemia and
    Hungary, all of them distinguished by their virtues, and worthy
    of so illustrious a mother, were entertained at this inn,
    _viz._ Maximilian Arch-Duke of Austria, who actually supped and
    passed the night here, on the 30th of May, 1775.

    Peter Leopold Grand Duke of Tuscany, and the Emperor Joseph the
    Second, the ornament and glory of the age, who dined here the
    following day.

    That such important events may not be lost in the flight of
    time, let this durable monument inform the latest posterity of
    the happiness which this inn enjoyed.

301.

    The Bononian Academy of arts and sciences, for the general use
    of the whole world.

315.

    Some are of opinion, that, captivated by the love of power,
    and having carefully weighed his own strength and that of his
    enemies, he had availed himself of this opportunity of seizing
    the supreme authority, which had been his passion from his
    early youth.

_Ibid._

    For if a violation of equity is ever excusable, it is when
    a crown is our object—On all other occasions we ought to
    cultivate justice.

316.

    He never was deterred from any undertaking by religious
    scruples.—When the animal, destined for sacrifice, fled from
    the altar, this bad omen did not prevent Cæsar from marching
    against Scipio and Juba.

317.

    The leader now had passed the torrent o’er,
    And reached fair Italy’s forbidden shore:
    Then rearing on the hostile bank his head,
    Here, farewell peace and injured laws (he said)!
    Since faith is broke, and leagues are set aside,
    Henceforth thou, goddess Fortune, art my guide.
    Let fate and war the great event decide.
    He spoke; and, on the dreadful task intent,
    Speedy to near Ariminum he bent;
    To him the Balearic sling is slow,
    And the shaft loiters from the Parthian bow.

                                           ROWE.

321.

      How much the grandeur of thy rising state
        Owes to the Neros, Rome imperial! say,
      Witness Metaurus, and the dismal fate
        Of vanquished Asdrubal, and that glad day
    Which first, auspicious, as the darkness fled,
    O’er Latium’s face a tide of glory shed.

      Through wide Hesperia’s tow’ring cities, crush’d
        With hideous fall and desolation dire,
      Impetuous, wild the Carthaginian rush’d;
        As through the pitchy pines destructive fire
    Devours its course, or howling Eurus raves,
    And posting sweeps the mad Sicilian waves.

                                      FRANCIS.

323.

    An Adriatic turbot, of a wonderful size, was caught before the
    temple of Venus, at Ancona, a city built by the Greeks.

344.

    Be not afraid, my good Sir, these walls are more firm than the
    Apennines.

369.

    Hannibal, having defeated the Romans at Thrasymene, and
    marching his army to Rome, was repulsed from Spoletto with
    great slaughter. The memorable flight of the Carthaginians gave
    name to this gate.

369.

    Hannibal marched straight through Umbria to Spoletto, and after
    having laid the country waste, when he began to attack the
    town, he was beat off, with great slaughter of his soldiers.
    Such a check from an inconsiderable colony, would naturally
    lead him to reflect on the difficulties he must encounter in
    subduing the Roman republic.

376.

    Narnia, surrounded by a sulphureous stream and dangerous
    cliffs, which render it almost inaccessible.

387.

    Hence the fam’d Latian line, and senates come,
    And the proud triumphs, and the tow’rs of Rome.

                                              PITT.

388.

    Yes, my Lord—but my husband is an old man.

388.

    O holy Virgin, how exceeding old he is!

408.

    Long live the Holy Father!

_Ibid._

    Your blessing, Holy Father.

411.

    This triumph, this, on Libya’s utmost bound,
    With death and desolation compassed round,
    To all thy glories, Pompey, I prefer,
    Thy trophies, and thy third triumphal car;
    To Marius’ mighty name, and great Jugurthine war.

                                                ROWE.

412.

    What tongue, just Cato, can thy praise forbear!
    Or each brave Scipio’s noble deeds declare?
    Afric’s dread foes; two thunderbolts of war!

                                           PITT.

415.

    Founded by Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, during his third
    Consulship.

421.

    Secure in his retreat Vejanius lies;
    Hangs up his arms, nor courts the doubtful prize;
    Wisely resolved to tempt his fate no more,
    Or the light croud for his discharge implore.

                                         FRANCIS.

426.

    But if she has made an assignation, and wishes to be drest
    with more nicety than usual—Poor Psecus (her female slave),
    with her hair torn about her ears, and stripped to the waist,
    adjusts the locks of her mistress. _Why is this curl so high?_
    Presently the whip punishes the disorder of the least hair.

428.

        ——every moment grows,
    And gains new strength and vigour as it goes.

                                            PITT.

435.

    Between whom Augustus reclining, quaffs nectar with purple lips.

436.

    My fame ———— shall bloom,
    And with unfading youth improve,
    While to th’ immortal fane of Jove
    The vestal maids, in silent state
    Ascending, on the Pontiff wait.

                           FRANCIS.

436.

    Hail, happy pair! if fame our verse can give,
    From age to age your memory shall live;
    Long as th’ imperial Capitol shall stand,
    Or Rome’s majestic Lord the conquer’d world command!

                                                   PITT.

439.

    From whose bowels the Prince of Peace sprung.

446.

    Why does he hate the sunny plain,
    While he can sun or dust sustain?
    Or why no more, with martial pride,
    Amidst the youthful battle ride,
    And the fierce Gallic steed command,
    With bitted curb, and forming hand?
    Why does he fear the yellow flood?

                              FRANCIS.

447.

    Thus they conversed on works of ancient fame,
    Till to the monarch’s humble courts they came;
    There oxen stalk’d, where palaces are raised,
    And bellowing herds in the proud _Forum_ graz’d.

                                               PITT.

517.

    The Devil go along with you for an old goose.

518.

    Softly, softly, my love. We must submit to the will of Heaven.

_Ibid._

    Short accounts make long friends.

[Illustration]



ERRATA.


    Page 67. line 4. _for_ eloquence _read_ elegance.

         91.  —— 19. _for_ as well as them _read_ as well as they.

        464.  —— 18. _for_ certo _read_ certa.

        492.  —— 13. _for_ make it all _read_ make it at all.

        495.  —— last, _for_ an antique artist _read_ an ancient artist.

        497.  —— 3. _for_ an antique artist _read_ an ancient artist.

        516.  —— 10. _for_ his arithmetical _read_ this arithmetical.





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