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cation with the kitchen, the abbot's dinner might be served up hotter in the refectory, than it could be if suffered to pass through the cloisters!
Notwithstanding the close copying of French manners which has long characterized Turin, an affectation, or we would say admiration of English habits, is much diffused among its politer circles at this period : our literature is sedulously cultivated by many of the young persons, and Lady Morgan was presented with Italian translations of Lalla Rookh and Childe Harold the day before she left Turin; the general society of which appears, from her account, intelligent, liberal, and courteous.
The Duomo of Milan, which, begun by the usurper Visconti in the 14th century, was finished in the 19th by Bonaparte, who used to gaze on it, when he first arrived in that city, with unsatiated delight, is described by Lady Morgan with all that felicity of expression which, in matters that touch her heart or fancy, is peculiarly her own. The architecture, which is mixed Gothic, she leaves to the cavils of the virtuosi, and describes it only as she saw it, in the radiance of the mid-day sun: its masses of white and polished marble, wrought into such elegant fillagree as is traced on Indian ivory by Hindoo fingers; its slim and delicate pinnacles tipped with sculptured saints, and looking (all gigantic as it is) like some fairy fabric of virgin silver, dazzling the eye, and fascinating the imagination. Its interior solemnity is represented as finely opposing its outward lustre; and the effect of the contrast was heightened by the splendid procession of the chapter, with their archbishop at their head, issuing from the choir; and the more affecting, though less imposing one, of the viaticum borne to some dying sinner, whilst the Imperial guards turned out and carried their arms as it went forth, and those who were passing by stopped and knelt with uncovered heads. Lady Morgan justly observes, that “the bold daring of the first reformers is only to be estimated in Catholic countries, in the midst of those imposing forms to which the feelings so readily lend themselves, and from which the imagination finds it so difficult to escape.".
After the Duomo comes the THEATRE of the Scala, as next in the admiration and affection of the Milanese. The Count de Stendhal, who seems to have travelled with breathless haste and anxiety from one theatre to another throughout Italy, has left nothing for other tourists to say on this, which can boast of never using in a second piece, scenes that have been already exhibited in another, and of having 1085 dresses made for one ballet; but Stendhal has described nothing belonging to it, as Lady Morgan describes the ballet of the Vestale; and we doubt not, but that the effect of it is as powerful on a people so alive to, and so skilled in the language of gesticulation, as any of their best written tragedies. “Signor Vigano, the principal ballet-master, is the Shakspeare of his art; and with such powerful conceptions, and such intimate knowledge of nature and effect as he exhibits, it is wonderful that, instead of composing ballets, he does not write epics. The Italian ballet always differed from every other, and seems to have been the origin of the modern melodrame. It borrows its perfection from causes which may be said to be not only physical, but political. The mobility of the Italian muscle is well adapted to the language of gesture, which breaks through even their ordinary discourse; while a habit of distrust, impressed upon the people by the fearful system of espionage, impels them to trust their thoughts rather to a look or an action, than to a word or a phrase.” There is a private theatre at Milan, supported with much spirit and considerable expense, chiefly by the second class of society; which in Italy, as in our own and most other countries, we believe, appears to comprise a large proportion of all that is valuable in the national character. The government of the Cisalpine Republic made a present of this theatre to some theatrical amateurs, who gave it the title of Teatro Patriotico,; and chose the finest productions of their native Muses, in which to display their talents. It is at present termed Teatro Filodrammatico, and the pieces played in it are limited to such as have passed the ordeal of the censor; but its performances still remain in sufficient perfection to gratify the most fastidious judges. Several noblemen in Milan have entered into an association for the encouragement of Italian comedy: and in tragedy, the number of living geniuses that have already proved their talents, is sufficient to give celebrity to the age, had they a free atmosphere to write in; but Pellico, one of the most highly gifted among them, is in solitary confinement in the dungeons of the police of Milan, on suspicion, as is alleged, though from all accounts without foundation, of being connected with the Carbonari. The best pieces of Monti are forbidden; and Nicolini is obliged to publish his works in England, because their tone of sentiment is not agreeable to the “ears polite,” of existing authorities in Italy.
The grand works of art which were begun, and many of them finished, in Milan, by the French, we have not space enough to enter into
any description of; but it is with some reluctance we turn from the triumphal arch, which, though left since 1814 in a state of “incompleteness,” to which Italian eyes are too well used to be shocked at, was yet the means, by the drawings and plans, the decorations and statuary commanded for it, of raising a school of sculpture in Lombardy, and bringing forward aspiring
genius, with a rapidity equal to that with which the most astonishing projects were conceived and executed by him, whose mighty march, too often to be tracked by blood, was likewise at times marked by public benefits, and the application of gigantic efforts to the convenience and gratification of social life. Such efforts are, the Simplon, where all is now rendered easy and safe, which was once difficult, dangerous, and terrible to contemplate; such would have been the splendid arch which was meant to terminate with becoming dignity that magnificent road; and such is the arena, or circus, raised for the purpose of celebrating national festivities, and capable of containing thirty thousand spectators. “Much of the taxes complained of under the French regime, were expended on works of this description, by which the wealth taken from the few was distributed among the industrious many; and it is further to be remarked that, not
withstanding the largeness of the sums so taken, they have left the Milanese nobility by far the richest body in Italy. The systein which accompanied these impositions, opened to the nobles new, inore efficient, and more legitimate sources of wealth, than those which the old regime offered. They are now agriculturists, manufacturers, speculators, and spread their vast capital, formerly hoarded in chests, over the whole country; resembling in this particular the free citizens of ancient Milan, from whom they are descended. We have it on the testimony of the noblest amongst them, that they have considerably increased their revenues by this abjuration of aristocratic prejudices; which has given, at the same time, a full play to their extensive pecuniary means, and to their native and natural intelligence.”
Altogether Milan appears to be in a high state of mental improvement. Several of her nobi:ity eagerly visited England, as soon as the peace of 1815 removed the obstacles to their doing so before; and whilst they mingled in the evenings in our most refined and fashionable circles, they devoted their mornings to the most active inquiries into all our arts and establishments, by which they might hope to benefit their native country at their return. From England, Count Confaloniere took the plan of the Lancastrian system of education, which was scarcely mentioned at Milan when “an association was formed for carrying it into execution; and the descendants of the Visconti, Trivulzi, Ubaldi, Lambertenghi, Litta, Borromeo, and Carafa,-names that sounded so fierce and feudal in old Italian story, so often opposed in contest, or ranged in deadly feud,—were here united, to spread that light among the people once so jealously withheld, and which even the fathers of these men would have denied, as dangerous to social order.” The increasing influence of education is felt proportionably among the higher classes of Milan, and more especially among the females, hitherto so uncultivated, so immured in their early youth, and, of consequence, so idle, and so intriguing, under the sanction of matrimony, in their riper years. Equal to Count Confaloniere in patriotism and science, Count Porro must be mentioned as one of the chief ornaments of Milan, the best society of which he gathers together at his weekly dinners ;—and be it known to all whom it may concern, that, from Lady Morgan's account, an Italian dinner is a very exquisite thing; whereas most of our travellers represent the Italians as scarcely dining at all. This nobleman, in conjunction with Count Confaloniere, has literally introduced new light from England into his native country; exhibiting his house splendidly illuminated with gas, to the great admiration of the Milanese in general.
“ The class which immediately succeeds the high aristocracy, under the name of Cittadini, (once a noble distinction in Milan, for which feudal princes sued,) includes the whole of the liberal professions, the small landed proprietors, and even a sort of little nobility, which, with the title of Don, or Donna, prove the rank of their family to have originated with the Spanish power in Lombardy. Between this class and the aristocracy there was formerly a
barrier, which none passed without the penalty of loss of cast. The late republican government cut through it boldly; and the Emperor Napoleon treated the Italian prejudices on this subject with ineffable and avowed contempt. With this large, well-educated, and most respectable class, it is extremely difficult for foreigners to become acquainted. The nobility of Italy now, almost exclusively, do the honours of the nation. The Cittadini keep back in dignified reserve, under the consciousness of the revived disqualifications which legitimate restoration has imposed on them."
French is universally spoken at Milan, and in great purity. Italian is only spoken when strangers from other parts of Italy are present; and Milanese is the language of familiar life, with all classes. To speak with the Tuscan accent, is supreme mauvais ton, and savours of vulgar affectation.
From Milan Lady Morgan conducts us to Como, the streets of which she describes as dark, narrow, and filthy; its environs the haunts of smugglers, and the quarters of the Austrian soldiers, who are kept there in large and oppressive bodies, to prevent, if possible, their illicit negotiations." But whatever are the internal defects of Como, however gloomy its streets and noxious its atmosphere, the moment that one of the little boats wlrich crowd its tiny port is entered and pushed from the shore, the city gradually becomes a feature of peculiar beauty in one of the loveliest scenes ever designed by Nature.” Along a part of the shore of the lake, a long line of spacious and beautiful road has been opened; sometimes walled, sometimes vaulted; always banked in from the incursions of the water, and secured, at vast expense and labour, from the falling in of the heights impending over it. “ This noble work has provided, at the end of centuries, a drive for the accommodation and pleasure of the Comasques, along that part of their lake (still the only part accessible to a carriage); and though it has not yet reached its intended extent, it is still a great public benefit, and is now the Corso of the little capital.”_"On one side of the noble road which owes its existence to her munificence, a plain marble slab informs the passenger that this causeway was raised by a Princess of the House of D’Este, Caroline of Brunswick. But generations yet unborn, destined to inhabit the districts of Como, will learn with gratitude, that the first road opened on the banks of their beautiful lake, was executed in the 19th century, by a Queen of England."
We can scarcely follow Lady Morgan through Pavia, without pausing at the CERTOSA, “one of the most interesting and most magnificent of Italian churches and monasteries:" at any rate, if we pass by the dazzling splendour of its temple, and all its concomitant buildings, we may be allowed to turn for a moment to its cloisters, where all is simple, solemn, and stamped with monastic gravity and sequestration. “Behind a noble fabric, once occupied by the Prior, and reserved for the reception of strangers and pilgrims of rank, are the cloisters, incrusted with tracery and relievos in terra-cotta, and serving as a portico to twenty-four isolated houses. These were the cells of the monks: each cell has two
rooms, a little garden with a fountain and marble seat. A wheel on the outside turned to receive their food; for there was no communication between the brethren, except in the church. In one of these cells we remained for nearly an hour. It was precisely as its last inhabitant had left it, thirty years before. There was something melancholy in the pains he had bestowed in his little garden, of about thirty or forty feet in circumference: he had painted, or otherwise ornamented, every stone in the high wall: he had decorated his little fountain till it resembled a child's toy. The walk was a mosaic; and the profusion of flowers, now wild and degenerated, which sprung up amidst the high grass and matted weeds, evinced how much he was thrown upon this sad and circumscribed recess for occupation. There was a fine fig-tree in fruit in one corner, which he had probably left a slip.”
At the wretched village and unaccommodated post-house of Voltagio, the sleeping stage between Pavia and Genoa, the stranger first feels that he is about to take leave of the improved civilization of Italy: and the sad sight of the galley-slaves at the gates of Genoa, once so free, so renowned, so proud, with the mockery of LIBERTAS, the motto of the state, engraved on the iron fetters which inanacled their ancles, afforded too speaking a lesson, that the spirit and meaning of the word was not to be looked for in further advancement towards the papal dominions.
We cannot linger with Lady Morgan as we would wish in the now deserted palaces, which had “Rubens for their historian, the DORIA, the DURAZZI, the FIESCHI, of old, for their masters, and emperors and kings for their guests:" nor can we here trace with her the causes of the decay which is spread through the very vitals of this once superb city, of which it might literally be said “her merchants are princes;" but most assuredly we can agree with her in opinion that the restoration of it to any thing like its former splendour is not to be effected, in the present day, by reviving every absurd ceremonial, and exhibiting every pretended relic of papal superstition, and filling the streets with the lowest and worst description of mendicant monks, who at once impoverish and corrupt the people. During the Revolution, a society of Capuchin nuns were pensioned by the French, their order abolished, and their vast monastic palace turned into a cotton manufactory, which promised to be productive of great prosperity to Genoa, and of desirable employment to the lower classes of her population. At the instigation of the Queen of Sardinia, however, three hundred industrious manufacturers have been turned adrift with their families to make way for four old nuns, who, being all that remained of their community, were reinstated in their wilderness of a convent, whence they daily sallied forth in couples, in their cloistral habits, with sacks on their shoulders, which were generally well filled by the pious with provisions before they went back, for the necessities of the convent,
The procession of the “ Sagra Macchina,” or “ Casaccia,” has been revived by the King of Sardinia in all its absurdity. It consists of drawing a Madonna or crucifix about the streets, on a woodVol. II. No.7.-1821.