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gives them at the same time some general
be made with more facility in this than in any other language. It may be more easy to find smooth lines, and make them terminate in rhime in Italian, than in any language; but to compose verses with all the qualities essential to good poetry, I imagine leisure and long reflection are requisite,
Indeed I understand, from those who are judges, that those extempore compositions of the
Improuvisatori are in general but mean productions, consisting of a few fulsome compliments to the company, and some common-place observations, put into rhime, on the subject proposed. There is, however, a lady of an amiable character, Signora Corilla, whose extempore productions, which she repeats in the most graceful manner, are admired by people of real taste. While we were at Rome, this lady made an appearance one evening, at the assembly of the Arcadi, which charmed a very numerous company; and of which our friend Mr. Ramsay has given me such an account as makes me regret that I was not present. After much entreaty, a subject being given, she began, accompanied by two violins, and sung her unpremeditated strains with great variety of thought and elegance of language. The whole of her performance lasted above an hour, with three or four pauses, of about five minutes each, which seemed necessary, more that she might recover her strength and voice,
than for recollection ; for that gentleman said, that nothing could have more the air of inspiration, or what we are told of the Pythian Prophetess. At her first setting out, her manner was sedate, or rather cold; but gradually becoming animated, her voice rose, her eyes sparkled, and the rapidity and beauty of her expressions and ideas seemed supernatural. She at last called on another member of the society to sing alternately with her, which he complied with; but Mr. Ramsay thought, though they were Arcades ambo, they were by no means cantare pares
* Naples is celebrated for the finest opera in Europe. This however happens not to be the season of performing; but the common people enjoy their operas at all seasons. Little concerts of vocal and instrumental music are heard every evening in the Strada Nuova, the Chiaca, the Strada di Toledo, and other streets; and young men and women are seen dancing to the music of ambulatory performers all along this delightful bay.
* Both Arcadians, but not equally skilled in singing. 04
To a mere spectator, the amusements of the common people afford more delight than those of the great; because they seem to be more enjoyed by the one class, than by the other. This is the case every where, except in France; where the high appear as happy as those of middle rank, and the rich are very near as merry as the poor. But in most other countries, the people of great rank and fortune, though they flock to every kind of entertainment, from not knowing what to do with themselves, yet seem to enjoy them less than those of inferior rank and fortune.
The English particularly are said to be in this predicament. This
be true in some degree; though I imagine there is more appearance than reality in it; owing to an absurd affectation of indifference, or what the French call nonchalance, which has
prevailed prevailed of late years. A few insipid characters in high life, whose internal vacancy leads them to seek amusement in public places, and whose insensibility prevents them from finding it, have probably brought this appearance of a want of all enjoyment into fashion. Those who wish to be thought of what is called the ton, imitate the mawkish insipidity of their superiors in rank, and imagine it distinguishes them from the vulgar, to suppress all the natural expressions of pity, joy, or admiration, and to seem, upon all occafions, in a state of complete apathy.-Those amiable creatures frequent public places, that it may be said of them, They are not as other men are. You will see them occasionally at the playhouse, placed in the boxes, like so many busts, with unchanging features; and while the rest of the audience yield to the emotions excited by the poet and the actors, those men of the ton preserve the most dignified serenity of countenance; and, except that they,