Page images

furnished with old inscriptions, idols, busts, medals, and the like antiquities. I could have spent a day with great satisfaction in this apartment, but had only time to pass my eye over the medals, which are in great number, and many of them very rare. The scarcest of all is a Pescennius Niger on medal lion well preserved. It was coined at Antioch, where this emperor trified away his time till he lost his life and empire. The reverse is a Dea Salus. There are two of Otho, the reverse a Serapis; and two of Messalina and Poppæa in middle brass, the reverses of the Emperor Claudius. I saw two medallions of Plotina and Matidia, the reverse to each a Pietas ; with two medals of Pertinax, the reverse of one Vota Decennalia, and of the other Düs Costodibus ; and another of Gordianus Africanus, the reverse I have forgot.

The principalities of Modena and Parma are much about the same extent, and have each of them two large towns, besides a great number of little villages. The duke of Parma, however, is much richer than the duke of Modena. Their subjects would iive in great plenty amidst so rich and well-cultivated a soil, were not the taxes and impositions so very exorbitant; for the courts are much too splendid and magnificent for the territories that lie about them, and one cannot but be amazed to see such a profusion of wealth laid out in coaches, trappings, tables, cabinets, and the like precious toys, in which there are few princes of Europe who equal them'; when, at the same time, they have not had the generosity to make bridges over the rivers of their countries for the convenience of their subjects, as well as strangers, who are forced to pay an unreasonable exaction at every ferry upon the least rising of the waters.

A man

might well expect in these small governments a much greater regulation of affairs, for the ease and benefit of the people, than in large overgrown states, where the rules of justice, beneficence, and mercy may be easily put out of their course, in passing through the hands of deputies, and a long subordination of officers. And it would certainly be for the good of mankind to have all the mighty empires and monarchies of the world cantoned out into petty states and principalities, that like so many large families, might lie under the eye and observation of their proper governors ; so that the care of the prince might extend itself to every individual person

under his protection. But since such a general scheme can never be brought about, and if it were, it would quickly be destroyed by the ambition of some par. ticular state, aspiring above the rest, it happens very ill at present to be born under one of these petty sovereigns, that will be still endeavouring, at his subjects' cost, to equal the pomp and grandeur of greater princes, as well as to outvie those of his own rank.

For this reason there are no people in the world who live with more ease and prosperity than the subjects of little commonwealths; as, on the contrary, there are none who suffer more under the grievances of a hard government, than the subjects of little principalities. I left the road of Milan on my right hand, having before seen that city ; and, after having passed through Asti, the frontier town of Savoy, I at last came within sight of the Po, which is a fine river even at Turin, though within six miles of its source. This river has been made the scene of two or three poetical stories. Ovid has chosen it out to throw his Phaëton into it, after all the smaller rivers had been dried up in the conflagration.

I have read some botanical critics, who tell us the poets have not rightly followed the traditions of antiquity, in metamorphosing the sisters of Phaëton into poplars, who ought to have been turned into larchtrees; for that it is this kind of tree which sheds a gum, and is commonly found on the banks of the Po. The change of Cycnus into a swan, which closes up the disasters of Phaëton's family, was wrought on the same place where the sisters were turned into trees. The descriptions that Virgil and Ovid have made of it cannot be sufficiently admired.

Claudian has set off his description of the Eridanus, with all the poetical stories that have been made of it.

-Ille caput placidis sublime fluentis
Extulit, et totis lucem spargentia ripis
Aurea roranti micuerunt cornua vultu.
Non illi madidum vulgaris Arundine criner
Velat honos, rami capat umbravere virentes
Heliadum, totisque fluunt electra capillis.
Palla tegit latos humeros, curruque paterno

ntextus Phaëton glaucos intendit amictus:
Fultaque sub gremio cælatis nobilis astris
Ætherium probat urna decus. Namque omnia luctus
Argumenta sui Titan signavit Olympo,
Mutatumque senem plumis, et fronde serores
Et fluvium, nati qui vulnera lavit anheli.
Stat gelidis Auriga plagis, vestigia fratris
Germance servant Hyades, Cycnique sodalis
Lacteus extentas aspergit circulus alas.
Stellifer Eridanus sinuatis fluctibus errans,
Clara noti convexa rigat.

CLAUDIAN, De Sexto Cons. Honorü.

His head above the floods he gently rear'd,
And as he rose his golden horns appear'd,
That on the forehead shone divinely bright,
And o'er the banks diffus'd a yellow light:

No interwoven reeds a garland made,
To hide his brows within the vulgar shade,
But poplar wreaths around his temples spread,
And tears of amber trickled down his head :
A spacious veil from his broad shoulders flew,
That set th' unhappy Phaëton to view :
The flaming chariot and the steeds it show'd,
And the whole fable in the mantle glow'd:
Beneath his arm an urn supported lies
With stars embellish'd, and fictitious skies.
For Titan, by the mighty loss dismay'd,
Among the Heav'ns th' immortal fact display'de
Lest the remembrance of his grief should fail,
And in the constellations wrote his tale.
A swan in memory of Cycnus shines;
The mourning sisters weep in watry signs;
The burning chariot, and the charioteer,
In bright Bootes and his wane appear:
Whilst in a track of light the waters run,
That wash'd the body of his blasted son.

The river Po gives a name to the chief street of Turin, which fronts the duke's palace, and when finished, will be one of the noblest in Italy for its length. There is one convenience in this city that I never observed in any other, and which makes some amends for the badness of the pavement. By the help of a river that runs on the upper side of the town, they can convey a little stream of water through all the most considerable streets, which serves to cleanse the gutters, and carries away all the filth that is swept into it. The manager opens his sluice every night, and distributes the water into what quarters of the town he pleases. Besides the ordinary convenience that arises from it, it is of great use when a fire chances to break out, for, at a few minutes' warning, they have a little river running by the wall of the house that is burning. The court of Turin is reckoned the most splendid and polite of any in Italy; but by reason of its being in mourning, I could not see it in its magnificence. The common people of this state are more exasperated against the French than even the rest of the Italians. For the great mischiefs they have suffered from them are still fresh upon their memories, and, notwithstanding this interval of peace, one may easily trace out the several marches which the French armies have made through their country, by the ruin and desolation they have left behind them. I passed through Piedmont and Savoy, at a time when the duke was forced, by the necessity of his affairs, to be in alliance with the French.

I came directly from Turin to Geneva, and had a very easy journey over mount Cennis, though about the beginning of December, the snows having not yet fallen. On the top of this high mountain is a large plain, and in the midst of the plain a beautiful lake, which would be very extraordinary were there not several mountains in the neighbourhood rising over it. The inhabitants thereabout pretend that it is unfathomable, and I question not but the waters of it fill up a deep valley, before they come to a level with the surface of the plain. It is well stocked with trouts, though they say it is covered with ice three quarters

of the year.

There is nothing in the natural face of Italy that is more delightful to a traveller, than the several lakes which are dispersed up and down among the many breaks and hollows of the Alps and Apennines; for, as these vast heaps of mountains are thrown together with so much irregularity and confusion, they form a great variety of hollow bottoms, that often lie in the figure of so many artificial basins; where, if any fountains chance to rise, they naturally spread themselves into lakes before they can find any issue for their waters. The ancient Romans took a great deal of pains

« PreviousContinue »