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cannot explore the site of the dwelling of Catullus, which he has immortalized by his descriptions, and which all travellers unite in representing as one of the spots most favoured by nature in Italy.
The Lago di Garda is a miniature sea, green and transparent as the waters of Lake Leman and even now, as I gaze on it from the window of the inn whose walls it bathes, and when not a breath of wind agitates its glassy surface, I can imagine the realization of our host's assertion, that when a sudden squall occurs, it is lashed into fury, and the tranquil water rises into huge waves, that rush towards the shore with an impetuosity and tumult quite astounding.
Nothing can be more agreeable than the position of this inn, and the accommodation and cuisine are very tolerable; so that one might remain long enough to explore the beauties of the environs, and they are many, without being either ill-lodged or half-starved; annoyances too frequently encountered where fine scenery or interesting objects tempt one to sojourn.
The river Mincio (fed by the Lago di Garda) partakes of its pellucid qualities, for it is as clear and sparkling as crystal, and rolls on as swiftly as does time to the happy, passing rapidly along its pleasant banks, with a murmuring sound soothing as music to the ear. Virgil has not overpraised the Mincio and its shores; and even now this portion of Italy is among the most attractive spots that court the traveller to tarry. No wonder, then, that it inspired so many poets—for not less than seven have sung its beauties.
I confess that I feel none of the enthusiasm experienced by many for the memory of Catullus, the merit of whose verses, tuneful though they be, cannot redeem the gross sensuality for ever pervading them. Nor can I forget that he was content to pass away his life in a state of supine self-indulgence, dependent on the generosity of a patron, not always commensurate with his necessities or expectations; and against whose want of liberality the poet more than hints when he refers to his own poverty.
Times are changed, and happily too, for poets ; no longer do they need any patron but the public, that most generous and impartial of all, who never refuses to encourage merit, and to reward genius ; and no more can they with impunity outrage decency, and corrupt morals, by indulging in a licentiousness that no genius can redeem.
It is strange, that while the public press exercises so strict and salutary a censorship over the works of modern authors, and that good taste, and good morals, preclude aught approaching to indecency from being published, boys at school are taught to read those Latin poets, in whose works abound passages calculated to impress a knowledge of vicious pleasures, if not to give a taste for them ; while the juvenile mind is in its most ductile state, ere reason has sufficiently ripened to check the evil, and when such impressions are most likely to be indelible. Cannot a knowledge of Latin be attained without the minds of our English youth being polluted by a perusal of the licentious Latin poets ? is a question worthy the attention of those who undertake the education of boys, and one which ought to be suggested by parents.
Milan.--Although prepared to see a fine city, Milan has surpassed my expectations. It is indeed a beautiful town, with its stately palaces, public buildings, and clean streets; yet, strange to say, there is not a single good inn to be found in it. The one in which our courier had engaged apartments for us looked so untempting, that incredulous of his assertion that no better could be had at Milan, we made a circuit of nearly all the hotels before we could find rooms at all comparable with those generally to be met with in every large town; and even the ones we now occupy, though spacious, are very deficient in the furniture suitable to a first-rate inn.
If civility and attention can atone for ill-furnished rooms, and a médiocre cuisine, we may be satisfied ; and on this consideration I forbear naming the hotel where we have taken up our abode, trusting that our good advice may induce our host to render his house more comfortable in future.
I could not resist hurrying off to see the Duomo, while the servants were unpacking imperials and chaise seats, and the courier was endeavouring to
aid the cook in preparing a dinner for us. Never did I behold so beautiful an edifice; and so white and fresh does it appear, that one might imagine it was only lately built. Its snowy pinnacles, with their delicate tracery, and the multitude of statues equally white, with which it is decorated, rising towards the bright blue sky, look like some exqui. site piece of sculpture executed in molten silver, and delighted me.
The taste of the Duomo has been much criticised by connoisseurs; who assert, and with reason, that as a purely gothic church, it is very defective, wanting the solemnity and grandeur which
generally is, and ought to be, a characteristic of such buildings.
Nevertheless, I confess that the most faultless specimen of the gothic never occasioned me so lively a pleasure as did my first glance at the Duomo; although the sentiment, if analysed, would have been found not to be the sort of one experienced on beholding a fine gothic cathedral, for there was nothing of contemplative gravity in it. The Duomo gives me the notion of a temple erected by some enamoured monarch for the solemnization of his nuptials with his young queen, whence every thing solemn or gloomy was purposely banished, and the edifice made to emulate the purity and delicate beauty of the fair personage for whose marriage it was erected.
Many protest against the whiteness of the Duomo, and assert that it is painfully glaring to the eyes, but to mine it did not produce this effect; nay, the purity of the snow-like pinnacles standing out from the deep azure of the sky, invested the building with greater charms, to my taste.
, We drove to see the Duomo by moonlight, last night, and it lost nothing of its beauty, beheld by that mild luminary. Some portion of the building, with the statues that rest on it, were thrown into shade, while others stood out in bold relief, glittering like silver beneath the moonbeams.
Let fastidious critics say what they will, the effect of this cathedral is, at least in my eyes, charming ; and the only defect I can consent to admit is, that it is not completed. Whether seen by daylight, in all the glowing radiance of a summer sky, or by moonlight, it strikes me as being equally beautiful ; and I can only wonder how people can be found who are so insensible to the general effect, as to dwell on the defects of the details which they detect. The truth is, one half of the travellers who infest Italy are more anxious to lay claim to connoisseurship, by the easiest of all modes, that of finding fault with what pleases the mass, than to indulge in the natural, as well as rational pleasure, which the sight of fine objects confers.
The first awaking in a new place the morning after arrival, gives a very agreeable sensation. Anticipations of fresh beauties to be seen, new information to be acquired, present themselves to the