Imagens das páginas

sailles of Lombardy, and first looked at the Imperial Palace. It is one of the dozen residences of the Viceroy. He is at the age of 43, with a wife of twenty-five. His only employment seems to consist in riding from palace to palace, without troubling his head with the cares of empire.

The royal gardens at Monza surpass those of the Bourbons, in taste as well as in extent. They are laid out and embellished in the style of English parks. The woods are rich and beautiful. We sauntered an hour along umbrageous walks, following each winding pathway, which led to a Grecian or Chinese temple, a tower or an imitation ruin, a rustic grotto, a lake, fountain, or waterfall. Such is the location of these various objects, as often to take the spectator by surprise, and produce the finest effect. In some instances perspectives are opened purposely for show—a species of ornament not uncommon in the north of Italy. The waters in these grounds are transparent, brisk, and musical, frequently descending in cascades, in which art has happily pursued the suggestions of nature. Swans, ducks, and other domestic animals give to the scenery a rural appearance. Botanical, kitchen, and fruit gardens are among the appendages of the park.

The palace is colossal in its proportions, and its architecture classical. It was rebuilt some fifty years ago of substantial materials. The interior, though highly finished and richly furnished, contains not a vestige of the fine arts. After traversing Lombardy from the Po to the Lakes, it was ascertained pretty satisfactorily, that an Austrian palace is one of the most vacant and stupid buildings in the world.

The Cathedral is near the Palace. Its front is not a mean specimen of Gothic architecture; but the black and white stripe destroys whatever of merit the exterior would otherwise possess. A fulsome inscription, in praise of the munificence of the Austrian dynasty, meets the eye at the portals. The church is consecrated to Theolinda, who is its patron saint, and whose tomb is near the high altar.

Our imperial order was delivered, and as much preparation was made, as if the Iron Crown was to be placed upon one of our brows, as it had been upon that of Napoleon. It required the services of four priests, and a layman, as a lackey, to exhibit the relic, which is enshrined in a cross of massive gold, studded with the costliest gems, and hallowed by veritable fragments of the apparatus, used in the crucifixion upon Calvary—such as pieces of the sponge still red with blood, and splinters of the reed on which it was fastened! As an initiatory step in the ceremony, five candles were lighted up before the high altar. One of the priests then knelt upon a red cushion, placed on the steps, whispered a prayer, and burned much incense, which rose in such clouds as to form halos about the tapers. Another of the fraternity mounted a ladder and unlocked the cabinet; while the remaining two lifted the ponderous cross from its shrine, and set it on the pavement for our inspection. It was examined much at our leisure, and the showmen were very accommodating, s

The Crown is incased in crystal, hermetically sealed: but the medium is so transparent, that you see the relic as perfectly as through so much air. Its duter circle is a band of gold, set with jewels, and lined with a narrow hoop of iron, made of nails from the Cross! It is composed of six distinct pieces, connected by hinges, and capable of being enlarged to suit any brow. Its diameter does not exceed seven or eight inches; and it must have been tremendously stretched, to encircle the head of Napoleon. This is the oldest diadem in existence, and since the days of Charlemagne, it has rested upon the skull of many a dunce and many a tyrant, whom Bonaparte had the vain ambition and folly to imitate in mummery, which his greatness should have led him to scorn and trample under foot. It is almost inconceivable, that a mind of such lofty and liberal views, pledged to the support of republican principles, could so far debase itself, as to stoop to the low ambition of common despots:

"Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw/'

A group of peasantry, together with two or three ecclesiastics from the neighbouring towns, availed themselves o) this opportunity, to take a peep at the gew-gaw. The wonder depicted in their faces was quite as amusing as the brilliancy of the tiara. All the treasures of the church, rich in chalices and crosses, were shown to us; but they are nothing in comparison with those of the Cathedral at Milan. In a niche of the cloisters, a mummy of one of the Visconti stands erect, girt with a red sash and his warrior sword at his side, the hilt of which bears the dragon arms of the family.








October, 1826.—A Savoyard vetturino was employed to take us from Milan, by the way of the Italian Lakes aDd across the Simplon, to Geneva, stopping when, where, and as long as we pleased. He gave us a napoleon to bind the bargain, to the conditions of which he proved faithful; though he sometimes gave us short commons, aroused us before day, and made long pauses to rest his horses. Notwithstanding these slight deductions, travelling by vettura has a decided preference over all other modes, both in point of economy and comfort. The interior of the coach is generally spacious, and the tourist may lounge at his ease, read, write, or look at the country from the windows. He is relieved from the vexations of paying off postillions, bespeaking accommodations, or settling bills at the hotels.

Early on the morning of the 8th, we left Milan for Lake Como, distant twenty-six miles in a northerly direction. After the belt of low ground, encircling the walls, had been traversed, the Alps disclosed themselves, sweeping round the green fertile plains of Lombardy, from Verona to Turin, in a long, semicircular, and serrated chain. Their tops were already buried in snow, brightened by the beams of morning; and the very thought, that their bleak summits were to be climbed, made us shudder, in anticipation of the change of climate. The line of separation between eternal glaciers and verdure almost as perpetual, was very strongly marked even at this distance, and formed a most striking feature in the prospect. . ,

At noon we reached Coeno, and had an enchanting view of the Lake, in winding down the long hill, which rises at it." southern end. The day was as serene and mild as summer;

, 1

nd no picture could exceed in beauty the azure and bright xpanse of water, set in the emerald of its shores. As ecoomy of time, as well as the favourable state of the weather, rged despatch, a boat fitted up in the style of the Venetian ondola, with gay curtains and a table for eating, drinking, or writing, according to the propensities of the passengers, was mmediately chartered for the afternoon, to take us up the lake as far as circumstances would permit ; and our gallant large, driven by two oarsmen, soon produced the only ripple pon the unruffled mirror. The scenery of Como is chaacterized by beauty rather than grandeur. It is less wild ind lonely than that of the Lago di Garda. Its borders are rual, soft, and cheerful. The hills ranging along either shore, is nearly as they could be measured by the eye, are from 1500 to 2,000 feet in height, becoming bolder and ruder, as hey extend towards the north; of secondary formation; sometimes broken, scarred, and naked; but generally clothed with hanging woods of chestnut, oak, olives, laurel, fir, and 5ther verdure, and cultivated as well as sprinkled with Juildings to their summits. They frequently rise in steep acclivities from the very margin, or form high promontories, on which numerous white villages are seated. Although the Lake is fifty or sixty miles in length, it is broken into short reaches by intervening capes. Its breadth is from two to seven miles; and its depth, in the admeasurement of the boatmen, one hundred men. The water is less transparent as well as less sea-like than Benacus. Art has hardly atoned by its monuments, for the too many innovations it has made upon the solitary charms of nature. The large old town of Como, exhibiting its fortresses, towers, and ramparts, its harbour, quays, and business-like aspect, at the foot of the Lake ; the long faubourgs of Borgo Wico and San Augostino, extending along the eastern and western shores; the numerous hamlets, villas, farmhouses, and convents, scattered over the neighbouring heights, have dissolved the enchantment of rustic seclusion, and substituted images of a poor but populous district. The smoke and paddles, the bugles and swivels, of two steamboats, plying daily from end to end, have frightened away the Naiads, that once sported in the pure and classical waves of the Lacus Larius. A strong garrison is kept up at Como, to prevent smuggling, as the town is only a mile and a half from the frontier of Switzerland. The castles and monumerits are not sufficiently ruinous, to become pict objects in the landscape; while they possess little merit as modern works of art.

After a voyage of five miles, affording a view of the whole region, we landed at the Villa d'Este, on the western shore, the celebrated residence of the late Queen Caroline of England. If the outlines of the scenery afforded us less pleasure, than had been anticipated from the first glance, or from the extravagant descriptions of others, the pictures appeared still worse in detail. The situation of this palace is delightful. It stands so near the water, that we leaped from the boat, upon the flight of steps leading to the portico of the long, yellow, two story edifice, looking abroad upon the lake. It possesses no architectural grandeur nor beauty. An elderly woman, to whom the keys have been committed by Torlonia, the present proprietor, led the way to a small, neat theatre, the boxes of which are supported by Ionic pillars with gilt capitals, and hung with silken curtains. Over the Queen's pavilion, in front of the stage, the crown ot Great-Britain is conspicuously displayed in gilt with imitation gems; and the walls are lined with mirrors, in the French style. The furniture of the theatre is just as it was left eight or nine years ago, but looks as fresh as if there had been a play on the evening preceding our visit. This remark may lie extended to the whole Villa, of which there has been no resident, since its desertion by the unfortunate queen. The Duke of Braeciano has too many palaces about the Alban Mount, to render a retreat to the distant shores of Como either attractive or necessary. Besides, he would not care to be a successor to Count Bergami,* who wears a sprig of fresh nobilily upon his coach, as well as the wealthy banker.

The numerous apartments of the chateau retain their furniture of sofas, chairs, tables, and window-curtains, which are gaudy, but not rich, nor in good taste. Frescos consisting of nude Venuses, Cupids, and other soft divinities, were observed upon the ceiling. They are of an indelicate and voluptuous character, Ihough not more so, than the Italian

* This renowned nobleman now resides at Pesaro, on the shores of the Adriatic, where Caroline had another seat, near the banks of the Rubicon, which she crossed at her peril. The Count lives like most other of the Italian nobility, without any very active pursuits, or any visible means of support. —■

« AnteriorContinuar »