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BOLONIA, MODENA, PARMA, TURIN, &c.
After a very tedious journey over the Appennines, we at last came to the river that runs at the foot of them, and was formerly called the little Rhine. Following the course of this river, we arrived in a short time at Bolonia. -Parcique Bononia Rheni.
Sil. It. 8. Bolonia water'd by the petty Rhine. We here quickly felt the difference of the northern from the southern side of the mountains, as well in the coldness of the air, as in the badness of the wine. This town is famous for the richness of the soil that lies about it, and the inagnificence of its convents. It is likewise esteemed the third in Italy for pictures, as having been the school of the Lombard painters. I saw in it three rarities of different kinds, which pleased me more than any other shows of the place. The first was an authentic silver medal of the younger Brutus, in the hands of an eminent antiquary. One may see the character of the person in the features of the face, which is exquisitely well cut. On the reverse is the cap of liberty, with a dagger on each side of it, subscribed Id. Mar. for the Ides of March, the famous date of Cæsar's murder. The second was a picture of Raphael's in St. Giouanni in Monte. It is extremely well preserved, and represents St. Cecilia with an instrument of music in her hands. On one side of her are the figures of St. Paul, and St. John; and on the other, of Mary Magdalen and St. Austin. There is something wonderfully divine in the airs of this picture. I cannot forbear mentioning, for my third curiosity, a new staircase that strangers are generally carried to see, where the easiness of the ascent within so small a compass, the disposition of the lights, and the convenient landing, are admirably well contrived. The wars of Italy, and the 'season of the year, made me pass through the duchies of Modena, Parma, and Savoy, with more haste than I would have done at another time. The soil of Modena and Parma is very rich and well cultivated. The palaces of the princes are magnificent, but neither of them is yet finished. We procured a licence of the duke of Parma to enter the theatre and gallery, which deserve to be seen as well as any thing of that nature in Italy. The theatre is, I think, the most spacious of any I ever saw, and at the same time so admirably well contrived, that from the very depth of the stage the lowest sound may be heard distinctly to the farthest part of the audience, as in a whispering-place; and yet if you raise your voice as high as you please, there is nothing like an echo to cause in it the least confusion. The gallery is hung with a numerous collection of pictures, all done by celebrated hands. On one side of the gallery, is a large room adorned with inlaid tables, cabinets, works in amber, and other pieces of great art and value. Out of this we were led into another great room, 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 a medallion well preserved. It was coined at Antioch, where this emperor trifled 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 Diis Custodibus ; 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 live 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 in 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 particular 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 out-vie those of his own rank. For this reason there are no people in the world who
Out-vie) To vye, is to contend with; to out-vye, to out-do any one, in dyeing with him. But the word seems to be of an ill composition, and should not, I think, be used thus absolutely. If employed at all, it should be in some such way as this: “ in the affectation of pomp and pageantry he outvied others, i. e. in this respect, he strove or contended beyond them. I know not if Mr. Addison had any authority for the use of it:-he had, perhaps, done better to use the common word “out
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
Phaëton glaucos incendit amictus :
CLAUDIAN, De Sexto Cons. Honorii.
His head above the floods he gently rear'd,
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 very 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