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LADY MORGAN AND MR. EUSTACE.
Maria Louisa, ex-Empress of France, would have spread a sumptuous DEJEUNÉ A LA FOURCHETTE for us at the Paone, in Parma-Modena's proud, warlike, magnanimous, and merciful Duke would have eutertained us at dinNER—and our suPPER would have been blessed by His Holiness the Pope, in Bologna! As it was, the accident to which I have alluded caused us to retrace our steps from the banks of the Po, opposite Piacenza, through the stinking and pestiferous rice-grounds, in the middle of the night, (equalling in coldness a Siberian Winter) to Milan. Thence, we made a detour by Pavia, and had the additional honour of sleeping under the protection of his Sardinian Majesty, after crossing the Ticino and the Po—and after having our baggage carefully examined by the Douaniers, in search of LADY MORGAN !*
• While I admire the talents, the spirit, the wit, and the censorial powers of my fair countrywoman, I cannot approve her personal satire. The vices of a people, or the actions of public men, are legitimate objects for criticism, or even castigation—but personalities are beneath the notice of the satirist, and motives are beyond his ken. I put it to Lady Morgan's cool reflection, whether, after traversing the gallery of a prince, it was worth her while to characterize the portrait of the owner, as presenting “the beau ideal of imbecility.” But this is not so bad as the repeated attacks on the moral character of the departed Eustace. First, his work is pronounced to be “false, flimsy, and pompous ;” then he himself is represented as utterly ignorant of Italy—and, last of all, he is roundly accused of a “premeditated perversion of facts.” Lady Morgan had a right to expose his errors, and use as harsh expressions, in doing so, as suited her sanguine constitution—she might even suspect his veracity—but to assert that his “ perversion of facts” was “ premeditated,” is an awful assumption of the Almighty's prerogatives, unjustifiable on any principle of religion, morality, or sound criticism. Lady Morgan tells us that it is “ less painful to make the assertion, as the author's ear is no longer alive either to praise or censure ;" but, in my humble opinion, the circumstance of a man's inability to defend himself in another world, is a sorry reason for stabbing his moral character in this.
Lady Morgan had a right to ridicule Mr. Eustace's horror of revolutionary, and his admiration of aristocratic and monarchical principles—but no impartial reader can peruse her ladyship's work, without perceiving that she has herself fallen into the opposite extreme-always palliating the enormities of republican France—and exaggerating the imbecilities or misrule of monarchical or papal states. I am no advocate of Mr. Eustace. I shall freely correct his errors wherever I find them. But Heaven forbid that I should insult the ashes of an amiable clergyman, by burning, biting, savage sarcasms-by cruel judgments on motives, that belong to the Deity alone and which are " foul and unnatural” when attered by the tongue of a female-a lady whose splendid talents suffer a partial adumbration from the fervor (I had almost said fury) of her political prejudices.
Then what mighty fortresses have capitulated to us, on this triumphant march, without firing a gun-indeed without having a gun to fire! How many gates without walls have flown open, at the sight of Napoleon's trunk. less head-a tyrant whose image is now as much adored, as the living original was dreaded and detested, when, in 1796, he was driving Wurmser before him, and levying contributions on every town through which he passed. How many drawbridges threatened to rise, and portcullises to fall, if our passports were not signed or countersigned by half the ambassadors of Europe ! And all this mockery and mimicry of “ warlike note” and military precaution, is kept up by petty states and pauper princes, to feed a pack of hungry and rapacious EMPLOYÉs, who practise on the traveller, through the medium of their underlings, those extortions which they are too proud to call by the proper name—MENDICITY! Shame on those princes, governors, and magistrates, who sanction this perpetual, ignoble, and harassing warfare, on every stranger who comes within their contemptible walls.
The detour by Pavia gave us an opportunity of viewing this once celebrated, but now decayed city—the city of a “ hundred towers”! Its long, narrow, and silent streets, its demolished fortifications, its melancholy university, and its sickly, poverty-stricken inhabitants, present a picture which cannot easily be forgotten. Around its ruined ramparts, silent as the grave, and on which the sentinel's measured footstep is never heard, I wandered by moonlight, and enjoyed once more a magnificent view of the long range of snowy Alps. It was full moon-not a leaf was moved by the breeze-and innumerable stars, of dazzling brilliancy, studded the azure vault. The funereal cypress cast its long and pyramidal shadow across the grass-grown parapets—the murmur of the crystal Ticino was distinguishable—but no human voice vibrated on the listening ear—no cheerful light gleamed from lamp or window-not even from Petrarch's chamber-and I could scarcely help fancying that I was wandering round some vast and lonely cemetery, when the midnight hour was faintly heard tolling from the distant Carthusian Monastery, and mausoleum of a murderer, warning me to repair to my hotel. It was in one of Pavia's towers that the prisoner Boethius wrote his treatise, “ de consolatione philosophiæ," and philosophy seems now the only consolation of fallen Pavia. Where Volta raised the galvanic pile, Aldini constructs his fire-proof mantles—while arts, science, and literature are still taught in its learned halls.
It is between Voghera and Bologna, while skirting along the Apennines, that the traveller's attention is first arrested by a very striking feature in the natural scenery and the medical topography of Italy—an endless succession of beds of rivers, without water, or with only a trifling rivulet meandering in the centre. While crossing these beds, we generally see a high and narrow bridge in the neighbourhood, which the postillions avoid. Many of these bridges, indeed, are too narrow for a carriage, and consist of a single arch, of immense altitude and span. When rains fall in Italy, thousands of torrents
APPROACH TO BOLOGNA.
rush from the Apennines, along these water-courses—and in many places, the traveller's carriage is arrested till the rapid stream subsides. In such localities, the high and narrow arch permits the pedestrian traveller or the peasant and mule to pass. These water-courses vary in breadth, from a dozen yards to a mile, or even more ; and well tempered must be the springs of carriages to withstand the succussions experienced while traversing their rocky surfaces. They are foaming cataracts one day and empty channels the next. The mountains being often wrapt in clouds, the rains sometimes fall there without any notice on the plains, till the torrent comes roaring along with tremendous rapidity, sweeping away every living creature that happens to be crossing the dry and rugged channels at the time. These ravines form one of the most potent engines of insalubrity in Italy, though very much overlooked by medical travellers. I shall revert to them hereafter, when speaking of the climate of this country.
It is also between the Po and Bologna that the level grounds, bordering on the Apennines, present scenes of cultivation and fertility which delight the eye and defy description. They are only surpassed by the Campagna Felice, near Naples. The almost interminable ridge of hoary Alps is still seen, with scarcely any diminution, in our rear-the Apennines rise, in modest grandeur, on our right-and the plains of Lombardy stretch away to the verge of the horizon on the left. The surface of the soil is cultivated like a garden, producing three or four annual crops of grain-hedges and neat enclosures divide the farms—rows of elms, poplars, mulberries, &c. traverse every field, not more than 50 or 60 feet distant from each other-while the slender and helpless branches of the vine are carried from tree to tree, trained in elegant or fantastic festoons, and bending to the earth beneath a load of the most delicious
grapes. The richness and beauty of the scenery are not rendered less interesting by a consciousness that we are pacing along the Via Emilia, now one of the most smooth and excellent roads in Europe—that we are treading over the ground where Hannibal and the Romans, in former times, mingled in mortal combat ; and where, in our own days, the still more terrific conflict between ' fiery Frank and furious Hun” dyed the Trebia with human gore, and fertilized its banks with the carcases of heroes !
The vintage was in full operation--and every man, woman, child, and beast, were at work in securing the nectarious harvest of old Bacchus. Did the appearance of the peasantry correspond with the scenes of peace, plenty, and fertility around? Travellers say little or nothing on this subject. If they did but inspect the countenances of the inhabitants, they would see poverty, disease, and depression in every feature! Some mysterious and invisible UPAS TREE must surely overshadow the smiling plains and glades of Italy, rendering nugatory the exuberance of Nature and the labour of man.
Soft zephyrs blow-eternal summers reign,
And showers prolific bless the soil-in vain ! The peasantry do not, indeed, present such marked characters of sickliness, as among the rice-grounds on the other side of the Po; yet the malarious countenance is unequivocal--and doubtless there are not wanting moral and political causes to aid the deleterious operation of climate. I am rather surprised that so acute an observer as Lady Morgan should permit the beauty and fertility of the country to veil the sickly aspect of the people—nay, to transform it into that of health, happiness, and beauty. “Every step (says this enchantress) was a picture-the sky was Claude's—the foliage was Poussin's--the groupings were Teniers'. Those gloomy and ruinous buildings in which the peasantry herd in Italy, were here replaced by cottages of English neatness, environed by more than English abundance-gardens of natural fertility, vineyards dressed like flower-knotts—and a population the most joyous and active, gave assurance of that equal distribution of the gifts of providence, which best
• Justifies the ways of God to man.
One of three things must be the case. Either the appearance of the inhabitants has been changed by the lapse of ten years--Lady Morgan was deceived-or I am no judge of the human countenance. There was neither that health, activity, joy, or signs of plenty in the peasantry, between the Po and the Apennines, which her Ladyship has portrayed. They are less squalid than the Milanese—but the marks of malaria-indeed of the Italian climate, which, according to Lady Morgan herself, “ spares every thing but man, were indelibly imprinted on every face.
John Bell has fallen into the same strain as Lady Morgan, and, while travelling between the Po and Bologna, “could not help remarking the uncommon beauty of the people.” I only request the traveller to use his eyes and decide. If John Bell had consulted the tables of mortality in this country, or examined the hospitals of Milan and Bologna, he would have been convinced that, if people are more beautiful on the banks of the Po than on the .banks of the Thames, they are much more sickly—and I believe sickness and beauty are rather antagonizing characters in the human frame. Indeed, it is to be regretted that a medical man of such talents as John Bell possessed, did not direct his observations to the medical topography of Italy, instead of filling a quarto volume with criticisms on statues, buildings, and paintings. Surely the profession by which he gained immortal fame, was not beneath his notice while travelling in Italy.
We are now in Bologna; but the reader need not fear the infliction of a description, for the fiftieth time repeated. There are two great classes of
objects which command the traveller's attention in Italy—the beauties of Nature and the works of art. The last and greatest work of the Creator is seen to best advantage in the gallery of the Vatican-and even there it is but a copy; the original (according to West) being in the back woods of America.* From the summit of Assinelli's tower, not more remarkable for its altitude than its ugliness, (but whose leaning is scarcely perceptible) the traveller will enjoy one of those magnificent prospects which can never be obliterated from the memory. The lofty Apennines on one side, form a remarkable contrast with the boundless plains on the other. It is here that the last faint glimpse of the Alps is caught, in the north-east quarter, like the edge of a white cloud just above the horizon. Bologna itself is better seen from this tower than from any other spot in the neighbourhood. The principal streets are lined, on each side, with arcades, like Berne, for example. Forsyth is “ surprised that continued porticos like these, which Nero’s excellent taste had designed for his new edition of Rome, are not general in the south of Italy, a country so subject to violent heat and rain.” Forsyth forgot, or perhaps did not know, that to have these open porticos, the streets must be comparatively wide—and that wide streets would admit the sun, which is a much more unwelcome visitor than rain, in a hot climate. Narrow streets are more economical, and also more cool.
Having seen the beauties of Nature from the summit of Assinelli's tower, the traveller proceeds to the halls of the university and the Pinacoteca, to contemplate the wonders of art. The wax-works in Bologna are far more valuable, though on an infinitely smaller scale, than those at Florence. The former represent diseases-the latter are purely anatomical, and not very
These last (at Florence) are of little or no use, except to make the. vulgar stare. Here (Bologna) may be seen the PELLAGRA of Lombardy, by, those who do not like to traverse the wards of the great hospital at Milan. The cabinets of natural history, antiquities, &c. demand a day or two for examination. But the Pinacoteca is the favourite lounge. Some of the finest paintings in Italy are here. Cecilia stealing HARMONY, as Prometheus stole FIRE, froin Heaven, is, I think, the best. The remark which I am going to make, and which regards Italy in general, not the Pinacoteca in particular, will subject me to severe censure—but to that I am more callous than the critics may imagine. In pacing the thousand galleries of this Holy Land, the eye is first surprized, but ultimately fatigued, with the endless representations of religious subjects—more especially the mysteries of our sacred religion. Wherever we look, crucifixions, sepultures, resurrections, descents
* West's exclamation, on seeing the Belvidere Apollo, at Rome, is known to every one " My God! a Mohawk warrior !”