John Chetwode Eustace.

A classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) online

. (page 6 of 27)
Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

apprehension of the consequences of inun-
dations, if we may judge from the accurate
details which he gives of the signs of ap-
proaching rain, and the picture which he
draws of their disastrous consequences.
The traveller therefore, who may be sur-
prized by these periodical showers, if in
compliance with the advice given above,
he establish himself in the first commodious
inn, will not find such accidental delays
either useless or unpleasant.

But to return to the principal object of
this paragraph. Though the sun in Italy
has, even in the cooler seasons, a sufficient
degree of warmth to incommode a foreigner,
yet the heat can scarcely be considered as


an obstacle to travelling, except in the
months of July and August; then indeed
it is intense, and it is imprudent in the tra-
veller to expose himself to the beams of the
sun for any time ; though Englishmen fre-
quently seem insensible of the danger, and
brave ahke the rigours of a Russian winter
and the heats of an Italian or even of an
Egyptian summer. Fevers and untimely
deaths are sometimes the consequences of
this rashness, and more than one traveller
has had reason to regret his imprudence.
To avoid these dangers, persons who are
obliged to travel during the hot months ge-
nerally proceed by night, and repose during
the sultry hours of the day. By this
method, without doubt, they guard suffi-
ciently against the inconveniencies and
dangers of the weather, but at the same
time they sacrifice one of the principal
objects, the scenery of the country ; and
this sacrifice in Italy can, in my opinion,


be compensated by no advantages. The
best method, therefore, is to set out a full
hour before sun-rise, to stop at ten, and re-
pose till five, then travel as day light will
permit : by this arrangement of time the
traveller will enjoy the prospect of the
country, the freshness of the morning, and
the coolness of the evening, and devote to
rest those hours only which heat renders
unfit for any purpose of excursion or of


A few words upon the inns and accom-
modations in Italy will be sufficient. An
English traveller must, the very instant
he embarks for the Continent, resign many
of the comforts and conveniencies which he
enjoys at home, and which he does not suf-
ficiently prize, because he is seldom in the
way of learning their value by privation.
Great will be his disappointment if, on his


arrival, he expects a warm room, a news-
paper, and a well stored larder. These ad-
vantages are common enough at home, but
they are not to be found in any inn on the
Continent, not even Dessennes at Calais or
the Maisofi Rouge at Frankfort. But the
principal and most offensive defect abroad
is the want of cleanliness, a defect in a
greater or lesser degree common to all parts
of the Continent. In Italy, to which these
observations are confined, the little country
inns are dirty, but the greater inns, parti-
cularly in Rome, Naples, Florence, and
Venice, are good, and in general the linen
is clean, and the beds are excellent. As
for diet, in country towns, the traveller will
find plenty of provisions, though seldom
prepared according to his taste. But,
" il faut hien," says Mr. De la Lande,
" racheter par quelque chose les agremens de
" ritalie'^:'

* Some price must be paid for the pleasures and advan-
tages of Italy.


This representation of Italian accom-
modations, which it is hoped, will be found
on experience tolerably accurate, is not
on the whole discouraging, and our tra-
veller may commence his journey without
the apprehension of any very serious or
distressing inconvenience. He who can
content himself with plain food and a good
bed, will find abundant compensation for
the absence of the supernumerary pleasures
of accommodation, in the indulgence of
rational curiosity, and the acquisition of
knowledge. The classical reader will con-
sole himself in the assurance that accom-
modations in the worst Italian inns at
present, are far better than what they seem
to have been in Horace's time, at least, if
we may be allowed to form conjectures
about the state of inns in general from that
of Beneventum in particular.

The inconvenience of which the poet
complains at Trevicus is at present very
general at the inns both of France and Italy,


where the shivering traveller finds himself,
if he happens to travel in cold weather,
like Horace, often ushered into a damp
room, and placed before a newly lighted
fire, diffusing a half smothered flame, lacii-
moso non sinefumo*.


XIV. It may not be deemed superfluous
to enumerate the principal objects which
deserve a traveller's attention, and to point
out, at the same time, the best method of
satisfying his curiosity. The manners, cus-
toms, and opinions, together with the dif-
ferent lights which religion, government,
and climate, throw upon the characters of
nations and individuals, without doubt,
claim our first attention. To converse with

* Which with a smoky sorrow fills the eyes.




the natives of the country, to frequent pub-
lic assembhes and courts, and, on the other
hand, to take an occasional range through
the humble walks of life, is the proper me-
thod of acquiring this useful information.
Introduction to the higher class in Italy
is not very difficult; they meet in evening
parties, either at particular houses, where
such assemblies are called conversazzioni ;
or at the casino, a sort of fashionable club
established in most towns in Italy. A letter
of introduction to any person of rank will
open all such assemblies to a stranger. But
the traveller, who really wishes to know the
manners of the Italian gentry, must endea-
vour to penetrate into the interior of society,
and form acquaintance with some of the
principal characters in each town, particu-
larly if there be any among them of literary
reputation. Nor would this be a difficult
task, if we went to Italy better versed in
its language; and if we devoted more time


to the cultivation of our acquaintance there.
This private society, if it be select, and I
recommend no other, is, I think for very
obvious reasons, far preferable to larger

But, while speaking of society, I think
it necessary to make an observation, the
propriety of which must strike every reader,
because it is founded upon the change
which has taken place in the higher classes
on the continent during the last ten years.
The court of Versailles was formerly consi-
dered as the most polished court in the
world, and the state of society at Paris, as
well as at Rome and Turin, was supposed
to have reached a very high degree of re-
finement. The principal object of travel-
ling then was to acquire, in some accom-
plished society, that ease and those graces
which constitute the perfection of good
breeding, and which were seldom, it was
then fancied, to be discovered in the man-


ners of a home-bred Englishman. How
far this opinion was true it is not my inten-
tion to examine, but it was very generally
admitted, and in consequence no young
man of rank was deemed qualified to make
an advantageous entrance into the world,
till, by a considerable residence in the ca-
pitals mentioned above, he had worn off
somewhat of the native roughness of the
Briton. But the case is very different at
present. The French Revolution has been
as fatal to the manners as to the morals of
nations ; it has corrupted the one and bru-
talized the other. It is not to society in
such a state that he is to look for improve-
ment, nor indeed is such improvement
either the sole or the principal motive of
travelling at present, nor is it necessary to
wander over the Continent in quest of ac-
complishments. London, that has long
been the first city in Europe for population,
extent, and opulence, is now also confes-


sedly the first in point of society, and the
Capital of the poUte and fashionable, as it
has long been of the commercial world.
The first class of its society, the most nu-
merous of that description that has ever
been united in any great city, comprehends
all the advantages of title, of fortune, and
of information. I do not hereby mean to
depreciate continental society or represent
it as useless, but I wish to point out to the
reader the change that has taken place,
and to caution him against expecting from
foreign society, in its present state, all the
advantages which were formerly supposed
to be derived from it.

This subject naturally leads to a question
which, I believe, is generally solved rather
from habit and prejudice than reason. Are
we, as Bacon says, " to sequester ourselves
from the company of our countrymen"
while abroad, or may we be allowed some-
times to associate with them? The answer


to this question should be drawn from prin-
ciples of general or rather durable utility.
The object of all our travels, studies, and
pursuits is, or ought to be, permanent ad-
vantage. We do not, doubtless, travel to
France or to Italy to see Englishmen, but
yet we travel for improvement and for
amusement : and whatever society contri-
butes to either, ought to be cultivated with
an assiduity proportioned to its advantages.
The traveller, therefore, ought by all means
to procure an introduction to the best com-
pany of the great towns through which he
may pass ; and at the same time he may
become acquainted with such English gen-
tlemen as may chance to be in the same
place. Such an acquaintance super-induces
no obligation ; it may be cultivated or
dropt at pleasure ; but the trial ought to be
made ; and if experience may be credited,
the reader may be assured, that casual ac-
quaintance not unfrequentl^^ ripens into


settled and permanent friendship. Conti-
nental connexions in general are of a very
different nature ; however agreeable, they
are contracted only for the occasion, and
cannot be supposed, in general, strong
enough to resist the influence of absence.
Besides, why should we voluntarily reject
one of the greatest advantages of travelling,
an opportunity of selecting friends, and
forming sincere and durable attachments;
for, as Ovid observes in some beautiful lines,
there is not a stronger bond than that which
is formed by a participation of the accidents
and of the vicissitudes of a long and event-
ful journey *.

* Te duce, magnificas Asise perspeximus Urbes :

Trinacris est oculis, te duce, nota meis.
Vidimus ^tnsea ccelum splendescere flamma

Suppositus monti quam vomit ore gigas :
Hennaeosque lacus, et olentia stagna Palici,

Quaque suis Cyanen miscet Anapus aquis

Et quota pars haec sunt rerum, quas vidimus ambo,

Te mihi jucundas efficiente vias !



The general face of the country, so con-
spicuously beautiful all over Italy, merits

Seu rate caeruleas picta sulcavimus undas :

Esseda nos agili sive tulere rota.
Saepe brevis nobis vicibus via visa loquendi ;

Pluraque, si numeres, verba fuere gradu.
Saepe dies sermone minor fuit ; inque loquendum

Tarda per zestivos defuit hora dies.
Est aliquid casus pariter timuisse marinos ;

Junctaque ad aequoreos vota tulisse Deos :
Haec tibi si subeant (absim licet) omnibus horis

Ante tuos oculos, ut modo visus, ero *.

Ovid. Ep. ex. Ponto, lib. II. x. 21. seq.

* With thee, the splendid towns on Asia's strand.
With thee I view'd Sicilians blooming land ;
We saw the skies illum'd with volum'd fires,
Which from his mouth Enceladus expires ;
The dull Palician lake, the streams that lave
Fair Henna's fields, and where Anapus' wave

Joins thy pure waters, Cyane

More scenes than these together we survey'd.
And light by thee was ev'ry journey made.
Whether by sea we urg'd the painted keel,
Or prest by land the rolling chariot's wheel.
Short seem'd the way, as friendly talk we held;
Our swifter words our rapid steps ex«eird.


from this circumstance alone peculiar at-
tention, and when to its picturesque fea-
tures we add those charms, less real but
more enchanting, which Fancy sheds over
its scenery, we give it an irresistible interest
that awakens all the feelings of the classic
youth. Our early studies, as Gibbon justly
observes, allow us to sympathize in the
feelings of a Roman ; and one might almost
say of every school boy not insensible to
the sweets of his first studies, that he be-
comes in feeling and sentiments, perhaps
even in language, a Roman. It is not then
wonderful, that when in a riper age he visits
that country and beholds those very scenes
which he has imagined to himself so long

Too short the longest days of summer prov'd,

Time flew so quickly in thy converse lov'd.

Jointly the dangers of old Ocean's reign

We brav'd, and to the Gods that rule the main.

Paid our joint vows, when safe on land again : J

Think but of these, and absent though he be.

Thy friend will in idea live with thee.



before, he should feel an uncommon glow
of enthusiasm, and in the moment of en-
chantment, should add some imaginary to
their many real charms. Besides, the
scenery of Italy is truly classical ; I mean,
it is such as described by poets and histo-
rians. Earthquakes, the only species of
revolution that can permanently alter the
great features of nature, however common
they may be there, have, if we except a
few places in the neighborhood of Naples,
and some distant parts of the coasts of
Calabria, made in the whole but little alter-
ation. Even wars, invasions, and the de-
vastation of eighteen centuries have, not yet
eradicated those local ornaments that arise
either from the tendency of the soil or from
the persevering attention of the inhabitants.
The Sylaris is still shaded with groves and
thickets ; the rose of Pcestum, though neg-
lected, still blooms twice a year, to waste
its sweetness on the desert air; while Mount


Alhernus still glories in the ilex and in the
neverfading verdure of his lofty forests.

But not to anticipate various observa-
tions that will occur, each in its proper
place, one advantage, at all events, the
face of nature possesses in Italy, which is,
that it seldom or never disappoints the tra-
veller, or falls short of his expectations,
however high they may have been pre-
viously raised ; on the contrary, if I may
form any opinion of the sentiments of fo-
reigners in general by my own and by those
of my fellow travellers, the lakes, the vale
of the Clitumnus, the fall of the Anio, the
banks of the Nar, the waters of Tibur, the
groves of Alhano^ and the plains, the hills,
the coasts, the bays of Campania Felix, not
only equal but even surpass the descrip-
tions of the poets, and the bright pictures
of youthful imagination.



The same observation cannot be applied
to ruins, which, however interesting they
may be, seldom answer expectation. When
we read or hear of Roman ruins we figure
to ourselves a vast scene of broken co-
lumns, shattered cornices, mutilated statues,
hanging arches, and interrupted colon-
nades. Such a magnificent scene of de-
solation may indeed be seen at Possium,
Agrigentum, and Selinus ; and such also is
occasionally presented on the Seven Hills,
in the majestic remains of the ancient City.
But these grand objects are rare ; for, if to
the exceptions just mentioned, we add the
temple of Tivoli, the amphitheatre and
gates of Verona, and two or three triumphal
arches, we shall find little more than totter-
ing walls and masses of brick. Ruins, till
the revival of taste in the fifteenth century,


were considered as quarries furnishing ma-
terials to those who chose to employ them ;
and unfortunately many did employ them
with little or no regard to their ancient
fame, their costly workmanship, or their
fair proportions. When Belisarius turned
the tomb of Adrian into a fortress, he paid
little attention to the masterpieces of sculp-
ture that adorned its circumference, and it
is said that, on that occasion the sleeping
Faun pleaded in vain the beauty of his
limbs and the grace of his attitude. What-
ever obstructed the machinery was tumbled
to the ground ; whatever was fit for defence
was worked into the rampart. In short,
first war, then convenience, and lastly,
Taste itself directed by self-love, destroyed
or defaced the works of ancient art, and
either left no marks of their existence be-
hind, or reduced them to a mere dislocated
skeleton. The traveller therefore must not
be sanguine in his expectations of satisfac-


tion from the first appearance of ruins in
general, but content himself with the cer-
tainty of finding, amid numberless unin-
teresting masses that bear that name,
some few beautiful specimens, as well as
some grand monuments of Roman manifi-


Modern edifices next claim our atten-
tion, and among them the principal are
churches, particularly cathedrals. Many
of the latter are indeed very noble piles,
and either externally or internally present
striking instances of architectural beauty.
Even where thei-e is no display of architec-
ture, there is generally a richness of mate-
rials, a profusion of marble, and not unfre-
quently, a luxuriancy of sculpture and
painting that delights and surprises the
transalpine spectator. There is also in
every cathedral a chapel of the Holy Sa-


crament, which is almost universally of
exquisite workmanship and of splendid
decorations. Some indeed are perfect
masterpieces of proportion, symmetry, and

I have hinted above, that few churches
present an exterior and interior equally
finished ; in reality one-half of the great
churches in Italy are left in a very imper-
fect state with regard to the outside; the
fact is singular, but the reason obvious.
At the restoration of the arts, a sudden en-
thusiasm seized all Italy ; princes, bishops,
noblemen, entered the lists of taste with
ardor ; each longed to signalize himself
and immortalize his name by some superb
fabric, and rival cathedrals, palaces, and
villas rose on all sides. But their means
were not always adequate to their grand
undertakings. Some edifices were finished,
some entirely neglected, and many have
been continued with slow, parsimonious


patience down to the present period. The
nobihtj of Vicenza are said to feel even at
present the consequences of their fore-
fathers' magnificence, and the Palladian de-
corations of their city are still supposed to
prey on their finances.

However, the propensity of the nation
is uncontrolable ; for though public and
private property has been exhausted by
the French invasion, yet the enemy were
scarcely withdrawn when, with laudable
spirit, exertions were instantly made in
many places to repair some of the edifices
which those modern Vandals had damaged,
and to supply the place of some of the
masterpieces which they had carried away.
Churches, on the whole, are very interest-
ing, as there are few that do not present
some object worthy the attention of the

With respect to palaces, I must venture
to say that, in general, they are deficient


in Strict architectural beauty, as few, I
fear, are to be found even in Italy, where,
in some point or other, the architect has
not sacrificed symmetry and proportion to
caprice and vanity. But if it be possible
to overlook a defect so material, it must be
acknowledged, that the marbles, statues,
and paintings that generally adorn the
spacious apartments, oftentimes compen-
sate the caprice that deforms the exterior
of these edifices. In fine, with regard to
buildings, we may generalize and apply to
Italy the observation which was originally
made on Rome, that no country presents
so many specimens both of good and of
bad architecture.

Of museums, galleries of paintings and
statues, public libraries, &c. I need only
say that they exist in almost every town in
Italy, and open an ample field for the ex-
ercise of observation and curiosity. And
here let me recommend to the traveller,



with due attention to his health and for-
tune, to spare neither pains nor expense,
in order to acquire every previous infor-
mation ; and to explore, when travelling,
every recess and visit every object, with-
out relying too much on the representa-
tions of others : as the common guides are
lazy and interested, Cicerones are often
ignorant, and writers as often wrong,
through want of opportunity, of know-
ledge, or of exertion, and not unfrequently
from too great an attachment to their own


But one final observation, I wish to
impress strongly on the mind of the youth-
ful traveller, as its object is intimately
connected with his present repose and with
his future happiness. Moral improvement
is or ought to be, the end of all our pur-
suits and of all our exertions. Knowledge,


without it, is the amusement of an idle
moment, and the great and splendid ex-
hibitions which nature and genius present
to our contemplation are merely the shift-
ing scenery of an evening drama — delight-
ful but momentary. Let him therefore
look continually to this most important
attainment, and while he endeavours every
day to increase his store of knowledge, let
him exert himself with still greater assiduity
to add to the number of his virtues.

Nations, like individuals, have their
characteristic qualities, and present to the
eye of a candid observer, each in its turn,
much to be imitated, and something to be
avoided. These qualities of the mind,
like the features of the face, are more pro-
minent and conspicuous in southern coun-
tries, and in these countries perhaps the
traveller may stand in more need of vigi-
lance and circumspection to guard him
against the treachery of his own ;pa«sions,


and the snares of external seduction.
Miserable indeed will he be, if he shall use
the liberty of a traveller as the means of
vicious indulgence, abandon himself to the
delicious immorality (for so it has been
termed) of some luxurious Capital, and
forgetful of what he owes to himself, to his
friends, and to his country, drop one by
one as he advances, the virtues of his
education and of his native land, and pick
up in their stead the follies and vices of
every climate which he may traverse.
When such a wanderer has left his inno-
cence and perhaps his health at Naples;
when he has resigned his faith and his
principles at Paris; he will find the loss of
such inestimable blessings poorly repaid,
by the languages which he may have
learned, tlie antiques which he may have
purchased, and the accomplishments which
he may have acquired in his journey.
Such acquirements may furnish a pleasing


pastime ; they may fill the vacant intervals
of an useful life ; they may even set off to
advantage nobler endowments and higher
qualifications : but they can never give the
credit and the confidence that accompany
sound principles, nor can they bestow, or

" The mind's calm sunshine and the heartfelt joy,"

at once the effect and the reward of virtue.
These are the real, the permanent, I might
almost add, the only blessings of life. He
who possesses them can want but little
more ; and he who has forfeited them,
whatever his fortune may be, is " poor




Departure from Vienna — Munich — Saltzburg —
Salt Mines — Defile of the Alps — Inspruck —
Ascent of the Brenner — Summit of the Alps —
Descent — Brijcen — Bolsano — Trent.

Some travellers, having set out from England
during the summer of 1801, met at Vienna the
following autumn ; and finding that their views
and tastes coincided, agreed to make the tour of
Italy together. Although eager to commence their
journey, and. reach its confines, they were detained
by the charms of tlie Austrian Capital, which,
since the manners of Paris have been barbarized
by the Revolution, has become the seat of polite-


Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 27)