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Between Baveno and Milan, the lover of fine scenery will be gratified, and the contemplative philosopher will meet with one or two objects on which he may ruminate, after he passes the blue and arrowy Ticino at Sesto Calende, where the Lago Maggiore disgorges its purified waters in a magnificent stream, to mingle with the turbid Po. On the right hand, he will pass a gigantic bronze statue of St. Carlo Borromeo, near Arona—and on the left, near Somma, a lofty cypress tree, planted before the Christian æra. If that tree could tell the various events of its long life, from the time that Hannibal's and Scipio's troops first came into mortal conflict under its branches, down to the slaughter of Marengo and Lodi, also within view of its aerial summit, the tale would be worth listening to! It now stands as straight, and its branches are as verdant, as when the Goths and Vandals were ravaging the neighbouring plains of Lombardy. What a contrast does it present in point of longevity, to the lord of the creation! How often has it seen the youthful Carlo
pass under its shade, in Cardinal pomp and earthly grandeur! And still it stands in apparent vigour, while the brazen statue of the canonized Carlo corrodes by winds and rains, on one side, and the blackened corse itself is hourly exposed, on the other, to the vulgar gaze of every fool, who fees a fattened friar to disturb the ashes of the dead !
On crossing the Ticino, the face of the country suddenly changes, and presents a complete contrast to that of the Alpine region, over which the traveller has passed. Here the character is flatness and fertility—there, ruggedness and sterility. We shall see, under the next head, (Pellagra) whether the fruitful soil of “ Latium's velvet plain” confers proportionate plenty, happiness, and health on its envied inhabitants.
Milan is one of the cleanest cities which I have seen beyond the Alps. The streets, though narrow, are well paved with stripes of flags in the wrong places-being in the middle instead of the sides—and the northern eye is not offended with the constant sight of southern dirt, as in most other towns of Italy. Whether this extraordinary cleanliness be partly owing to the circumstance of Austrian muskets gleaming, at every hundred paces, in the middle of the streets at night, I cannot pretend to say. This effective police seems to be a great annoyance to the Milanese, and to give mortal offence to my fair countrywoman,
Lady Morgan. I confess that I am not such an enthusiastic admirer of FREEDOM, as to advocate those LIBERTIES which are taken in the streets of Tuscan, Roman, and Neapolitan cities, by day and by night, to the “corruption of good manners,” if not to the “ derogation of
God's honour.” If it be true that an English cannon speaks various languages, and that very intelligibly, so I believe it true that an Austrian bayonet performs a number of useful offices in its civil, as well as in its military character. It is the best scavenger that I have seen to the south ward of the Simplon—and all acknowledge that it has superseded the stiletto, in Milan and many other places.
There are two things at Milan, the sight of which would repay the journey from London to Lombardy :—The cathedral—and the view from its spires on a clear day. Description is not my forte—and, moreover, it is not my business in this place. I should be sorry to attempt that which a female pen, of no ordinary power, has not ventured to undertake. But I am sure that a great number of travellers lose one of the most beautiful and sublime prospects in the world, by not taking the opportunity of ascending the highest spire of the cathedral during a clear state of the atmosphere. The view is perfectly unique. We see a chain of the highest mountains of Europe to the north-the Apennines to the south-and the plains of Lombardy, bounded only by the horizon, in every other direction. The Alps, from Genoa to the Tyrol, form one continuous line of gigantic pyramids of ice and snow, apparently within a few miles of the spectator-Monte Rosa towering in the centre. The scene is magnificent beyond all description, or even conception! The breeze comes down from these mountains with icy chillness in the hottest sunshine-and the hues of the setting sun, reflected and refracted by their frozen sides and summits, baffle all description. The illimitable plains of Lombardy present a very curious landscape. In the foreground, they appear like gardens—in the distance, like forests. The mulberry, acacia, and other trees planted around the rice-fields, unite at a certain angle of incidence, and look like one continuous wood, concealing the rich intermediate cultivation. The canals, for navigation or irrigation, resemble silver veins meandering through the country, which is studded with towns, villages, villas, and cottages, all as white as the marble of the cathedral. To the south, the more humble range of the Apennines, crowned with “piny forests" instead of “unfathomed snows,” call forth many a classical and historical recollection—the whole panorama from the Duomo, including a fine bird's-eye view of Milan itself, impressing on the memory a splendid image, a gorgeous and majestic picture of nature and art—of desolation and cultivation-of everlasting snow and perennial verdure, which time only can efface, by breaking up the intellectual tablet on which it was engraved by the delighted senses.
It is to be regretted that the ascent to the highest pinnacle-even to any of the hundred spires—is laborious; but the toil is well rewarded, if the atmosphere be clear, by one of the most imposing panoramas in the world.
SHRINE OF ST. CARLO BORROMEO.
On four successive days did I labour to the summit of the cupola, and still the prospect, in every direction, excited new feelings of delight.*
The transition from this splendid scene to the subterranean vault, in which the skin and bones of St. Carlo Borromeo find no repose, though enshrined in a sarcophagus of crystal, is most disgusting! The puffers and procurators of the Siamese youths—the fire-eater—the cameleopard—or the Bengal tiger, are not more alert on their post, than are the monks of Milan, or their employées, to enveigle down into this splendid dungeon the traveller, from whom a five-franc piece is modestly demanded, for a sight of the noseless and disgusting face of a sainted mummy! In short, the exhibition of the venerated “ ARCHBISHOP OF Milan" is just as much a matter of mercenary
cation, as the exhibition of any wild beast in London. If Eustace, a catholic, and the eloquent, amiable advocate of catholicism, condemns this exhi. bition, it is clear that it deserves reprobation. “ The face is exposed very improperly, because much disfigured by decay-a deformity increased and rendered more hideous by its contrast with the splendour of the vestments which cover the body, and by the pale and ghastly light that gleams from the aperture above.” Improperly, because “much disfigured!" I would say, improperly in all respects—but peculiarly so, when done solely for the money which the exhibition produces.f And here I may observe, that a constant charge against England is, the expence of seeing public sights in her metropolis. I fearlessly aver that, with a few exceptions, which shall be mentioned in their places, the public sights on the Continent-more especially in Italy, require the purse to be kept constantly in hand! A set of more selfish, insatiable, and mercenary sharks never existed, than are to be seen round the museums and public edifices of Italy. They will not publish any catalogues—they hurry a squadron of visitors round a whole museum in a given time, bawling out the names of a few of the principal objects and dismiss the company as quickly as possible, in order to pocket the offerings of the succeeding batch !
I shall not trouble the reader with any description of the gloomy interior
* Errors are propagated by describing from books instead of nature. It must have been some fallacy of this kind that led John Bell to talk of the
enchanting prospects, in every direction,” that open to the eye from the Corso, or PUBLIC WALK! I only ask any one who paces the Corso, what kind of prospect he sees? It is physically impossible, in a plain like that of Lombardy, to have any thing like a prospect, except from the summit of some high building.
+ One fool makes many. I acknowledge myself a fool, for spending a moment's time in going down to the vault of St. Carlo; but this is one of the lions of Milan, not to have seen which would argue great stupidity.
of this celebrated cathedral. The outside is my favourite, because a splendid view of Nature encircles an interesting spectacle of art. I can hardly take leave of the Duomo, however, without adverting to another disgustiug and tasteless exhibition—the flayed body of St. Bartholomew. The statuary has disarmed criticism, by telling us candidly that he is not PRAXITELES—which is, perhaps, a work of supererogation.
“Non me Praxiteles sed Marcus fecit Agrates." If Agrati had ever seen a human being flayed alive, he would not have represented him in the posture of a dancing master—and if he had been acquainted with anatomy, he would not have committed such obvious errors as are here
The great theatre, La Scala, is another lion of the first magnitude in Milan, which I did not see—for this good reason, there is but one chandelier suspended from the roof-all the rest of the house, the stage excepted, being in the dark. I went three nights in succession, to hear the music and see the actors—and these being the two legitimate and proper objects of the philodramatists, the Italians gain great credit for their good sense in keeping the boxes in obscurity, so that attention may not be distracted from the opera. Nothing can be more erroneous than this opinion. The same innate or instinctive love of darkness, or dread of light, (phoebo-phobia) which induced the inhabitants of Pompeii to live in pigeon-holes, where light could never enter but through the solitary door, when opened—which induced every Italian, from that period to the present time, to construct his mansion like a prison, with iron-grated glassless windows in the exterior—and a dirty, gloomy court in the centre furnishing the only prospect, and carefully excluding the sun-the same propensity, I say, with the additional stimulus of economy, prompts the Italian to prefer a dark to an illuminated box.* When I say innate or instinctive love of darkness, I use a wrong expression. It is a physical necessity of avoiding light and heat-common to the inhabitants of all hot countries. Throughout the vast regions and various nations of the East, the same physical necessity exists and the same propensity prevails. The Turks, the Hindoos, and all intervening people, exclude the beams of the sun by means of narrow streets, high houses, thick walls, and gloomy apartments, clustered round a central court. The Romans took the hint from
* Ammianus Marcellinus, when censuring the effeminacy of the ancient Roman nobility, has these remarkable expressions :-"should a fly presume to settle in the silken folds of their umbrellas, or a sun-beain penetrate through some unguarded chink, they deplore their hardships, and lament that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians, the regions of eternal darkness.”—Gibbon.
the Greeks, and the Italians continue the custom, which has long since become a second nature.
Tacitus tell us that, after the burning of Rome by Nero, that Emperor caused the new city to be built with wide streets and houses detached from each other, in opposition to the plan of the old town, with narrow crooked streets and high houses. Nero's taste was then criticised by men of observation. The original construction (such as Genoa now presents) was thought more conducive to the health of the inhabitants. The narrowness of the streets and the elevation of the buildings served to exclude the rays of the sun ; whereas the more open space, having neither shade nor shelter, left men exposed to the intense heat of the day.”— Tacitus, Annals, B. XV.
Brotier, in remarking on this passage of Tacitus, says, “it is well known that the more open parts of Rome are more sickly than the narrow streets, where the inhabitants are shaded from the intense heat."
To this may be added, the security which narrow streets and high houses afford against the malaria, wafted from the pestiferous Campagna di Roma in Autumn.
At La Scala, there was not much lost by the darkness of the house-the whole being, indeed, “a beggarly account of empty boxes,” though some of the first warblers in Italy were wasting their sweets upon the desert air. But the Dons of the pit made up for the vacuity of the boxes. They nearly drove from the stage a fair and meritorious songstress by repeated groans and bisses, savouring more of tobacco than of liberality. These same Dons, and on the same day, rent the skies with acclamations, at the sight of a race round the arena of the AMPHITHEATRE, where two Smithfield bullocks would have distanced the fleetest of the Lombardy coursers ! An equestrian looby (poor representative of Ducrow) next strode, or attempted to stride, on the backs of two ponies, while galloping round the arena—but soon measured his length in the dust, which produced loud plaudits. These are sufficient specimens of the feats performed in this great place of public amusement.
If amplitude be the measure of magnificence, the AMPHITHEATRE of Milan is superb. It is a fortified field, the interior wall of whose rampart is built sloping, with rows of seats. The rampart itself is not higher than an ordinary wall round a town ;-and this is the whole affair. It is a poor imitation of the Coliseum, or the amphitheatre of Capua, which accommodated nearly treble the number of spectators, defended from rain and sun, and gave them an infinitely better view of what was going on in the arena. The area is too great and the spectators too low, for any kind of exhibition except that of