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Many years ago, we pursued the same route which was followed by the writer of this volume, and we find his descriptions very exact. He delineates the external appearance of Venice, and the manners of its inhabitants, with an outline so correct, that it renovates all the pleasures which we received on seeing with our own eyes, and hearing with our own ears. The least common information, which this book furnishes concerning Venice, is a sketch of its antient government, that appears to be fair and candid. The lion's mouth, out of which issue the dreadful words, denunziationi secrete, was the terror of those strangers who were accustomed to live under protecting laws and a mild government; and Mr. Addison, in the Spectator, has impressed this terror deeper in English minds, perhaps, than it has been felt in any other nation. There was certainty more power lodged in the hands of the state inquisitors, than it was safe to trust with any man or set of men: yet, according to Dr. MEYER, who is a staunch republican and a prosestant, the accounts of its use and abuse have been greatly exaggerated. The inhabitants seemed very cheerful and happy; and, on inquiry on the spot, there had been no instance of any person being imprisoned, unexamined face to face with his accuser, for many years. Indeed, the people are in less danger from secret information than the senators and magis. trates; and even the Doge himself has not always escaped from its effects.
The situation of Venice, its architecture, paintings, sculpture, gondolieri, conservatorios, the bridge, church, and piazza di San Marco, and the four celebrated antique horses, are all mentioned, and described with taste and spirit. Dr. MEYER comforts the Venetians for the loss of these renowned and inestimable horses, by assuring them that animals glowing with such celestial fire, whose original destination wiis probably to grace the triumphal car of some great conqueror, or perhaps the chariot of the sun himself, had been very absurdly placed at the portal of a Gothic building!
From Venice, the traveller proceeded to Ferrarn, a city once highly flourishing, and the residence of the most polished personages in Italy, but now a desert! This declension is perhaps somewhat too positively charged to the inftuence of the Holy See, under the dominion of which it has groaned during two centuries. In the course of time, however, and in the vicissitude of human affairs, how many empires have been destroyed, anch kingdoms overthrown, without the tyranny of the Churih! Ferrara and Ravenna are in a desalate state, it is true: tut so is Vicenza under the Venetians, and so are many cities which flourished under other governm:nts; while Bc!o, na, (which
ihs the author seems not to have visited,) though under papal dominion, is rich, flourishing, and happy. The country round it is more cultivated and fertile than any other part of Italy : such plenty reigns in its precincts, that it is called Bologna la Grassa ; and all travellers find it the least expensive residence in the Papal territory. Yet priests and religious orders, who contribute nothing to this plenty, abound there in greater numbers than elsewhere. Ancona, also, under church government, is allowed to be in life aud vigour from the spirit of commerce, and the freedom and activity of its inhabitants ;-these are the usual effects of trade and commerce elsewhere: but why Bologna alone, under ecclesiastical government, should escape poverty and desolation, it is not easy to explain.
The cataract of Velino, near Terni, our author calls the Niagara of Italy; and if his description be exact, it is surprising that it has so long escaped the eye and the pen of travellers : for we do not remember to have seen it in the general list of objects of wonder, in descriptive books.
The sensations which the author expresses on his first entering Rome, are such as every man of taste and reflection must feel on the same occasion. Rome and its wonders, however, have been so often described, that, except a little more or less enthusiasm and eloquence, nothing new is left to be said by future observers. We shall therefore take it for granted that those of our readers, who have never been at Rome, can talk about it; as Johnson, who had not seen Mrs. Siddons act when she had been three or four years on the stage, said, on being asked how he liked her, that he had never seen her, but he could talk Siddons.
Dr. Meyer's description of the Pontine Marshes, his history of them, of their poisonous effects, and of the failure in late attempts at draining them, are more ample than those of any other publication which we have perused.
The road from Rome to Naples, and the antique curiosities which it presents, are to be found in every book of travels. Being arrived at Naples, therefore, we shall follow the author through that beautiful city and its environs, as we have hitherto done reminding our readers that his account was drawn up previously to the revolution, and to the arrival of the spoglia d'Italia at Paris.
Naples. The author commences this chapter with two proverbial sayings, repeated by the inhabitants to travellers, on their first arrival :
Vedi Napoli, e poi muori.
See Naples, and then die.
Un pezzo di Cielo caduto in terra.
A piece of heaven fallen on the earth. In describing the theatre where Medonte, an opera by Sarti, was performed, the tranquil beginring, and the impetuous increase of rapidity and force in the orchestra, seem to be taken from Dr. Burney's Italian Tour. Almost all the great opera composers of the last century were Neapolitans, educated in the Conservatorios of that city.--Dr. M. has given a very minute and spirited account of Mount Vesuvius, and of one of its eruptions, at which he was present: but he refers to that intrepid observer, Sir William Hamilton, and to the drawings of Woulky, the Austrian painter, for the best intelligence concerning the beginning and progress of the tremendous and destructive eruption of 1779, so fatal to the city of Torre del Greco..
The character, manners, and propensities, of the Neapolitans, are described with apparent truth and candour :-with their inactivity in all things but their pleasures and amusements; their passion for music, antiquities, and all the fine arts; the museum at Portici, containing the Greek and Roman treasures found in Herculaneum and Pompeii, the history of their discovery, and a list of the most curious and valuable works of art found in those antient cities, which were overwhelmed and annihilated by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. All these subjects the author has treated with spirit, intelligence, and good taste, far above the general standard of descriptive travellers.
The Catacombs, Virgil's tomb, the Pausilippan subterraneous passage, Grotto del Cane, &c. with the remains of Greek and Roman splendor in the environs of Naples, have been so often depicted by others, that little was left for Dr. MEYER to say on viewing them, which had not been anticipated.
In conclusion, it is but justice to say that this volume is written with such temper, prudence, and sound judgment, and that the objects of discussion and description are so well selected, that it must afford amusement and instruction not only to the general readers of travels, but to travellers themselves.
Art. X. Précis des Evènemens Militaires, &c. i. e. A concise Ad
count of Military Events, or an Historical Essay on the present
which periodical publications seldom admit, is performed
See M. R. Vol. xxx. N. S. p. 581. ; Vol. xxxii. p. 307, and Vol. xxxiii. p. 310.
in a style of superior accuracy, neatness, and elegance. The military part of these numbers is confined to a description of the operations of the Archduke, and of General Lecourbe, which sets in a very clear light the merits of those able commanders; and the remaining pages contain political observa ations which reflect not less credit on the comprehensive and correct views of the author, than those of the military kind, by which his former readers have been so much gratified and instructed.
The delay of these numbers is thus concisely explained :
• The author, a French officer, was for a long time separated by political circumstances from the armies ; thus torn from his country, he wrote in a neutral territory ; and in that hospitable land he could say of all the celebrated personages of whoin he penned the history, that he had received from them neither benefits nor injuries : nes be. neficio nec injuria cogniti.'
Although this particular situation, the pledge of the writer's independence, ceased to exist as soon as he was recalled to his country, he would not have interrupted the course of this work until he had finished his summary of the campaigns of 1798 and 1799, (as the editors had announced,) if, when again enrolled in the ranks of his former companions in arms, he had been able amid his new occupations to have secured any leisure. The campaigu 'of 1799, he says, is of all the most fertile in events, it is the only one, whether among the an. tients or moderns, in which wine grand battles, all of them decisive, can be counter, - Stockach, Verona, Cassano, Alexandria, Trebia, Novi, Alkmaer, Zurich, Aboukir; and still these memorable actions were but preludes to those which were, at length, to terninate the quarrel, to fix the lot of Europe, and to establish the equilibrium that had been disturbed by the preponderance which England aimed at acquiring in the affairs of the continent;-a preponderance purchased by enormous sacrifices, and which she preserved to that time, only by means of the intestine divisions which distracted the French republic.
We transcribe the following passage as a specimen of phi. osophical military history: 1. The greatest advantage is derived from the extraordinary aptitude of the French troops for new situations and relations ; from their facility in forming new corps, and organizing new armies. It is certainly so old a stratagem that it ought not to be very for. midable, to present hollow columns to the enemy, and to make him suppose greater forces than actually exist by forming Staffs : but it is not merely the success which is almost sure of attending this artifice that we would here remark, but the benefit to be derived from assigning to French officers and soldiers new enterprises and new denominations. To what a point are the understanding and the
spirit of emulation electrified! what new life suddenly reanimates the remains of corps and chicfs happily re-united! what ardour blends itself with all ideas of change among this warlike, light, curious, and adventurous people! The character of the French soldier, if the commander las skill to give it all its spring, renders these new combinations of force, these changes of plans, easy and beneficial; while in other armies, similar alterations for a long time disturb the general order, and leave permanent impressions on the mind."
This reflection is called forth in consequence of exploits atchieved by Lecourbe, at the head of an 'army constituted as suggested above ; and the justness of that part of the author's observation, which respects other armies, is supported by the result of the operations of the motley forces sent by this country on the expedition to Holland. .
Having described the circumstances with which the campaign closed, the author adds; . ' The unexpected event which had changed the destiny of France, by giving a new character to its revolution, engaged the attention of Európe, and held the human mind in suspence. It seemed likely that, at the end of this campaign, the course which things had taken would incline the two parties to overture3. Experience had shewn that this war did not resemble preceding contests, in which a few victories decided the question, and forced the conquered party to have recourse to negotiations. Constant reverses during three, cam. paigns had not been able to dishearten and dissolve the Austrian armies; and the French, who had been considered as terrible in şuccesses only, had shewn in their retreats in Suabia and Italy, and in their active, able, and deterinined defence of the country of Genoa, that they were capable of supporting, and of rendering themselves formidable even in adversity. The loosened bonds of the two rái. perial courts, the separation of the two armies, and the syniptoms of defection in one, restored the equilibriumi; and, as two coinbatants separate when they find their powers to be equal, so the obelligerent states should have given up a struggle which could only exhaust them.' • It were much to be wished that the not less important than just reflections made in this passage had; occurred; in proper time, to certain persons : but the game was begun, theipassions were rouzed, the voice of reason could not be heard, and the play must proceed, thoughthe parties on one side being -changed, it had ceased to be the same contest. Private and • The author of this work, being recalled to his country and reinstated in his profession by Bonaparte, is not one of those philosophers who regard gratitude as a vice; on the contrary, he zealously espouses the cause of his benefactor, and inveighs vehemently against his enemies; among whom, Mr. Pitt has the honor of the first place assigned to him. $.dt, would be App. Rev. VOL. XXXVII. Kk