Page images

even in the conservatories of our cold cline. Groups of women passing snd repassing, in their picturesque attire, their mazeros floating gracefully from their heads, and wearing their rich ornaments of gold and silver filagree, are contrasted by numbers of priests in their black cloaks, and ancient shepherd hats; monks in white and brown robes and sandaled feet, and soldiers in their gay uniforms: giving the streets that fantastic character seen only on the Continent, and which, from its novelty, is very

attractive to me. The mazero is universally adopted by all classes of women at Genoa; the upper class are distinguished by the fineness of the texture and delicacy of the embroidery of theirs; but those of la bourgeoisie, if less costly, are worn with as much grace, and the same spirit of coquetry in the use of this pretty article of dress is displayed.

2nd.-Went out at nine this morning to see the flower market; and the place where trinkets are exposed for sale. The air was redolent with the perfumes of the flowers, and their tints seemed to me to be far richer and brighter than the same species are with us. Never had I seen such tuberoses, Spanish jessamines, and laurel roses; and the Neapolitan and Parma violets exhaled their delicious odors all around. There was no lack of buyers, for the Genoese seem to consider flowers as a portion of the necessaries of life, and, I am told, purchase them as regularly as we do vegetables. It was a pretty picture to see the rich and varied hues of the flowers, as they were ranged along in lines in the vessels that contained them, with women cheapening and assorting the bouquets they had selected; in each of which I observed they placed a bunch of orange flowers. The shops of ths jewellers present a rich array of gold and silver-filagree-work, in which the Genoese are said to excel. Neck chains, very large earrings, crosses, and medallions, on which the head of some saint is engraved, are displayed to tempt the passers by, who loiter round with admiring gaze. The women of the middle and lower classes here, wear an abundance of gold ornaments. The greater number of those I saw this morning had very large earrings, golden neck chains composed of ten and twelve rows, to which was suspended an immense cross or medal with a saint's head or scriptural device. They wear their hair divided in front, and generally without curls; the back hair is braided, and is confined by a large gold pin or bodkin; and a similar one fastens the mazero.

A gold ring, shaped like the shields used by ladies to protect the fingers when working, is much worn on the forefinger, and covers nearly the first joint of it. The mazeros of the female peasants are of printed cotton, of the brightest colors and most gaudy patterns. Designs of animals, birds, butterflies, fruits, and flowers, ornament these scarfs, which resemble the Indian panaplores used for covering beds. Young women place a bouquet of natural flowers in the front of their heads, beneath the mazero, which has a very pretty effect. The men wear bright scarlet Venetian caps, have their jackets swung carelessly over their shoulders by a cord, and look somewhat like the figures in a Dutch picture.

Lord Byron has just left our hotel; he came to us about two o'clock, and remained until half-past four. It is strange to see the perfect abandon with which he converses to recent acquaintances, on subjects which even friends would think too delicate for discussion. I do not like this openness on affairs that should be only confided to long-tried intimacy: it betrays a want of the delicacy and decorum which a sensitive mind ought to possess, and leaves him at the mercy of every chance acquaintance to whom he may make his imprudent disclosures. Byron seems to take a pleasure in censuring England and its customs; yet it is evident to me that he rails at it and them as a lover does at the faults of his mistress, not loving her the less even while he rails. Why talk so much and so continually of his country, if he felt that indifference, nay, hatred, to it, which he professes? He has promised to dine with us on Thursday; this being, as he asserts, the first dinner invitation which he has accepted during two years. Byron is perfectly at his ease in society, and generally makes others so, except when he enters

into family details, which places persons of any refinement in a painful position. He has less, far less pretension than any literary man whatever of my acquaintance; and not the slightest shade of pedantry. This perfect freedom from conceit is well calculated to render him very popular, and to induce his contemporaries to pardon the immeasurable superiority of his genius.

3rd.—Saw, the Durazzo and Brignole palaces to-day. The former contains a fine suite of rooms, richly furnished, and has some good pictures, among which a Madonna by Paul Veronese, and some of the chefs-d'æuvre by Vandyck, most pleased me. The Brignole palace has also a fine collection of pictures, and can boast the same quantity of marble, gilding, mirrors, and paintings, that adorn the generality of Italian palaces; but possesses a degree of solid comfort, combined with splendor, that does not, I am told, characterise them. Although persons of taste and vertu reprobate and pronounce as meretricious the fresco painting on the exterior of some of the buildings at Genoa, I confess the effect pleases me. There is something gay and picturesque in it, notwithstanding the glare and gaudiness. With the exception of the three principal streets here, the rest are so narrow as nearly to preclude the use of a carriage. The entrance to the Alberga del la Villa is through a narrow flagged lane, having room for a single carriage to pass, the wheels of which graze the doors of the houses on either side; but the coachmen are so accustomed to these narrow lanes, that they manage to drive through them with sasety. The shops here are very good; and several of them abound with the productions of England and France. They manufacture at Genoa a very rich brocaded silk, which they export for the Oriental markets, and which is sold at a very moderate price.

4th.-Saw, to-day, the Palazzo-Carega, which was designed by Michael Angelo, and reflects credit on his taste; and the Palazzo-Doria, in the Strada Nuova, which is a splendid edifice. How mean and insignificant our houses in England appear, in comparison with those I I have seen here! on which wealth and art seem to have lavished their resources. But if we have no such palaces in England, have we not country-houses which, for com fort and good taste, are unrivalled by those in all other lands? and parks and pleasure grounds that surpass competition? But, above all, have we not the cottage homes of the humble classes, peeping forth from their trim gardens with all the neatness that betokens a love of order, and the enjoyment of a peaceful and paternal government? Yes, these are possessions to be proud of, and may well prevent our envying Italy her palaces. In the PalazzoCarega is a very fine saloon or gallery; literally lined by mirrors, which are only divided by gilt columns, and windows. The frames of the mirrors are beautifully designed and exquisitely carved, representing nymphs and cupids, with foliage and flowers. The sofas and chairs are carved in a corresponding style, and the hangings and covers of the furniture are of the most rich and rare silk. The stairs, in the generality of the palaces here, are of marble, the steps as well as the balustrades; and many of them are decorated with busts, statues, and alti and bassi rilievi, of excellent workmanship.

Byron dined with us to-day. He came early, and was in good spirits. He did not seem annoyed by encountering in the court, on the stairs, and in the corridors, a number of persons, who stared at him with more of curiosity than of good-breeding. The greater number were English, who reside in this and the other hotels in the neighborhood; and who were all anxious to see their celebrated countryman. How his coming to dine here was made known I cannot imagine, unless it were by the gossiping of some of our English servants; and this most unceremonious examination might have displeased him, had he been, as he is represented to be not unfrequently, in a less placable humor. Byron loves to dwell in conversation on his own faults. How far he might endure their recapitulation by another, remains to be proved; but I have observed, that those persons who display the greatest frankness in acknowledging their errors, are precisely those who most warmly resent their detection by another. I do not think Byron insincere in his avowal of his defects; for he has too much acuteness of perception not to be aware of them, and too great a desire of exhibiting this acuteness, not to make admissions that prove his power of analysing his own mind, as well as the minds of others. But it appears to me that he is more ready to acknowledge his infirmities than to correct them; nay, that he considers the candor of his confession as an amende honorable. There is an indescribable charm, to me at least, in hearing people to whom genius of the highest order is ascribed, indulge in egotistical conversation; more especially, when they are free from affectation, and all are more or less so when talking of self, a subject on which they speak con amore. It is like reading their diaries, by which we learn more of the individuals than by any other means. Byron's countenance is full of animation when he recounts, its expression changing with the subjects that excite his feelings.

5th.— There is a peculiar lightness and elasticity in the air of this place, which begets a buoyancy of spirits even in us children of a colder clime.

It is positive enjoyment to look out on the blue unclouded skies, and the not less blue waters, that are glistening beneath the sunbeams, which are at this moment shining as brightly as if it were June, instead of April. Then the look of cheerfulness that each countenance one encounters wears, is exhilarating. Climate, aided by the light yet nutritious food in general use in Italy, is productive of a disposition to be pleased, that robs the asperities of life of half their bitterness; although it may indispose people to studious pursuits, or unfit them for laborious ones.

Alas! alas ! our fears were prophetic. We have this morning had a letter to announce to us the death of Andriani! He expired a few days after we left Nice, of an attack of gout in his stomach. Peace be to his manes! He was, indeed, amiable, intelligent, and well informed, and possessed an enviable degree of philosophy, in supporting the attacks of a cruel disease, from which

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »