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quill when you write to me, and not leave room for a pin's point in four sides of a sheet royal. Do you but find matter, I will find spectacles.
I have more time than I thought, and I will employ it in telling you about a ball that we were at the other evening. Figure to yourself a Roman villa ; all its little apartments thrown open,
and lighted up to the best advantage. At the upper end of the gallery, a fine concert, in which La Diamantina, a famous virtuoso, played on the violin divinely, and sung angelically; Giovannino and Pasqualini (great names in musical story) also performed miraculously. On each side were ranged all the secular grand monde of Rome, the ambassadors, princesses, and all that. Among the rest Il Serenissimo Pretendente (as the Mantova gazette calls him) displayed his rueful length of person, with his two young ones, and all his ministry around him. “ Poi nacque un grazioso ballo,” where the world danced, and I sat in a corner regaling myself with ice fruits, and other pleasant rinfrescatives.
MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.
Rome, May, 1740.
Et volucrum celebrata cantu !
Dormire plectrum, seu retentat
Pierio* Zephyrinus antro
Palladiæ superantis Albæ.
Præcipiti tremefecit amne,
Naiasin ingeminâsse rupes:
Dulcè canens Venusinus ales
Docta modos, veteresque lauri.
-compositum docuere carmen;
Nescio quid solito loquuntur. I am to-day just returned from Alba, a good deal fatigued; for you know the Appian is somewhat tiresome.t We dined at Pompey's; he in
* He entitled this charming ode, “ Ad C. Favonium Zephyrinum," and writ it immediately after his journey to Frescati and the cascades of Tivoli, which he describes in the preceding letter.
+ However whimsical this humour may appear to some readers, I chose to insert it, as it gives me an opportunity of remarking, that Mr. Gray was extremely skilled in the customs of the ancient Romans; and has catalogued, in his common place book, their various eatables, wines, perfumes, clothes, medicines, &c. with great precision, referring under every article to passages in the poets and historians where their names are mentioned.
deed was gone for a few days to his Tusculan, but by the care of his Villicus, we made an admirable meal. We had the dugs of a pregnant sow, a peacock, a dish of thrushes, a noble scarus just fresh from the Tyrrhene, and some conchylia of the lake with garum sauce: for my part I never eat better at Lucullus's table. We drank half a dozen cyathi a-piece of ancient Alban to Pholoë's health ; and, after bathing, and playing an hour at ball, we mounted our essedum again, and proceeded up the mount to the temple. The priests there entertained us with an account of a wonderful shower of birds' eggs, that had fallen two days before, which had no sooner touched the ground, but they were converted into gudgeons; as also that the night past a dreadful voice had been heard out of the Adytum, which spoke Greek during a full half hour, but nobody understood it. But quitting my Romanities, to your great joy and mine, let me tell you in plain English, that we come from Albano. The present town lies within the inclosure of Pompey's villa in ruins. The Appian way runs through it, by the side of which, a little farther, is a large old tomb, with five pyramids upon it, which the learned suppose to be the burying-place of the family, because they do not know whose it can be else. But the vulgar assure you it is the sepulchre of the Curiatii, and by that name (such is their power) it goes. One drives to Castel Gondolfo,' a house of the Pope's, situated on the top of one of the Collinette, that forms a, brim to the basin, commonly called the Alban lake.
It is seven miles round; and directly opposite to you, on the other side, rises the. Mons Albanus, much taller than the rest, along whose side are still discoverable (not to common eyes) certain little ruins of the old Alba, longa. They had need be very little, as having been nothing but ruins ever since the days of Tullus Hostilius.' On its top is a house of the Constable Colona's, where stood the temple of Jupiter Latialis. At the foot of the hill Gondolfo, are the famous outlets of the lake, built with hewn stone, a mile and a half under ground. Livy, you know, amply informs us of the foolish occasion of this expense, and gives me this opportunity of displaying all my erudition, that I
may appear considerable in your eyes. This is the prospect from one window of the palace. From another
have the whole Campagna, the city, Antium, and the Tyrrene sea (twelve miles distant) so distinguishable, that you may see the vessels sailing upon it. All this is charming. Mr. Walpole says our memory sees more than our eyes in this country. Which is extremely true; since for realities, Windsor, or Richmond Hill, is infinitely preferable to Albano or Frescati. I am now at home, and going to the window to tell you it is the most beautiful of Italian nights, which, in truth, are but just begun (so backward has the spring been here, and every where else, they say). There is a moon! there are stars for you! Do the fountain ? Do not you smell the orange flowers? That building yonder is the convent of S. Isidore; and that eminence, with the cypress trees and pines upon it, the top of M. Quirinal. This is all true, and yet my prospect is not two hundred yards in length. We send you some Roman inscriptions to entertain you. The first two are modern, transcribed from the Vatican library by Mr. Walpole.
you not hear
Pontifices olim quem fundavere priores,
Præcipua Sixtus perficit arte tholum ; *
Quantum se Sixti nobile tollit opus :
Sed finem cæptis ponere major honos.
Sixtus et immensæ pondera molis agit.t
Hæc trahit Amphion ; Sixtus et arte trahit.
Quantum hic exsuperat cætera saxa lapis.
Et Piae, Benemeritate.
* Sixtus V. built the dome of St. Peter's. + He raised the obelisk in the great area.