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and more, were allowed to look at a cotton gown, said to have been worn by the Virgin, which is enshrined in a silver case, and which testifies that Raphael had better taste in attiring her than was evinced by herself, if we may judge by this specimen of it. This gown, to which so much value is attached by the clergy at Monza, is evidently not more than two centuries old; but the people receive it as a most sacred relic, and question not its authenticity.
The gifts of various sovereigns and other pious persons, were shown us, many of them of considerable value, but not remarkable either for good taste or fine workmanship. It would appear that the donors imagine that the saints to whom these offerings are made, or the clergy, their delegates, are either bad judges of such matters, or that they prefer the intrinsic value of gold and gems, to beautiful design and execution.
ARONA.— The colossal statue of St. Carlo Borromeo is well placed on the summit of a hill above the town of Arona, and seen at a distance has a very imposing effect.
The saint is represented holding a book in one hand, while the other is extended in benediction ; employments allegorical enough of his mission on earth, which was to enlighten and to bless. The statue looks grim and monstrous when approached, appearing, like other great men, to most advantage at a distance. I declined the proposal made by our cicerone, of ascending to the interior of the saint, having little curiosity to study the anatomy of his nose, or to look from the casements of his eyes, a ceremony generally undergone by most travellers.
The view from the base of the statue is very fine, and could this brazen giant, this “
copper captain,” see, he might be well pleased with the prospect selected for him.
On the steeple of one of the churches is an image of the Redeemer on the cross; which, unlike any that I have hitherto observed, is covered by a robe. The church of St. Mary has a piece of sculpture representing the Nativity, evidently the work of a very remote age, and highly interesting as a speci
, men of the revival of the art.
Arona is a prosperous town; its dockyard appears to afford employment to several hands, and its little port was filled with boats. The people are healthylooking and well clad, and a spirit of active industry seems to animate them.
LAVENO.—We have spent a delicious day in viewing the Borromean islands, and never did finer weather occur for such an expedition. Not a breeze ruffled the smooth and pellucid water ; which, like a vast mirror, was spread forth, reflecting on its tranquil bosom the azure heavens above, and the shadows of the mighty Alps that bound them. How striking is the contrast afforded by these stupendous moun
tains, the work of the Almighty, and the palace and gardens, the works of art, that rise up from the crystal waters! Terrace ranges above terrace, crowned with orange and lemon trees, intermingled with the most rare and odorous shrubs and plants, from which marble statues are seen peeping forth amid the bright foliage. They look like the dwellings of fairy queens, so gay and fantastic is their aspect; which, in spite of the artificial appearance of the whole, is nevertheless charming.
I ventured to make this remark to one of our party, and was answered that, in his opinion, the lake resembled a vast plateau of looking-glass, with a rich epergne laden with bright flowers and fruit in the centre of it; a comparison that struck me as peculiarly just.
The palace of Isola Bella is spacious, and richly decorated, but the taste displayed in it is meretricious; and one turns with impatience from the contemplation of its finery, to admire the largest and most beautiful laurels I ever saw, and which are said to be indigenous.
Isola Madre has been less dressed by art than Isola Bella, and therefore pleased me more; but Isola Piscatore, with its population of fishermen, surrounded by nets and boats, the implements of their profession, and destitute not only of all luxury but of what are deemed the common necessaries of life, offers such a contrast to Isola Bella and its luxurious dwellings and gardens, as to bring pain
fully before the sojourners in the latter, the different destinies of the rich and the poor.
I have not enough of the epicurean philosophy in me to be able to enjoy the superfluities of wealth within sight of those denied all, save the scanty food obtained by a precarious trade, without feeling my pleasures disturbed by the view of their privations. Hence, were I the proprietor of the Borromean Isles, I would render the Isola Piscatore a less dreary spot, and the poverty of its inhabitants should not disturb my enjoyment.
It might, perhaps, offer a curious problem for a casuist to solve, whether the pain excited by the view of the poverty of others, as contrasted with our own luxuries, or the zest which this contrast sometimes imparts to our enjoyments, is most produced by selfishness. The sophist might argue, that the dis
, pleasure of beholding poverty arises not so much from a generous pity for the objects of it, as from the egoïsme with which we are prone to turn from all that interrupts our gratification ; and that those who taste their luxuries with a keener relish from seeing the privations of the unfortunate, are scarcely more abounding in selfishness. Nevertheless, the selfishness of the former may lead him to relieve the poverty, the sight of which disturbs his pleasures ; while those of the latter being uninterrupted, he will be little disposed to remove the cause of the contrast, the effect of which gives a zest to his enjoyment. Consequently, the selfishness of the former is to be preferred, as producing advantage to others.
Having now established my case, almost as unintelligibly as sophists generally maintain their arguments, I will retire to my couch, to which a heaviness of the eyes, and stupidity of the intellect, warn me to have recourse. What a delicious day have I passed, floating over the unruffled water, our boat breaking the beautiful images reflected on its bosom : as a near approach to anticipated pleasures, dispels the airy fabrics by Hope reared, and which dissolve when touched !
MILAN.—Again at Milan, to which we have retraced our steps, in order to receive the letters and parcels we expected from England. They are arrived safely, the first bringing the intelligence of the good health of those dear to us at home,—that dear word home, how readily does the pen trace it ! and the second, pregnant with the well known odours of mingled coal-smoke and Russia leather, peculiar to London parcels ; which, though to the nostrils of strangers, not breathing of “ Araby the blest,” smell sweetly from the power of association possessed by those who are exiles, even though voluntary ones, from dear England !
Wheree'er I roam whatever realms to see,