Page images

Euganeo, ši vera fides mémorantibus, augur
Colle sedens, Aponus terris ubi fumifer exit,
Atque Antenorei dispergitur unda Timavi
Venit summa dies, geritur res maxima dixit :

Impia concurrunt Pompeii et Cæsaris arma. Some modern critics have asserted, that the two poets have been guilty of a geographical mistake, as the river Timavus empties itself into the Adriatic Gulf near Trieste, about a hundred miles from Padua ; and that the ApoDus is near Padua, and about the same distance from Ti



If, therefore, Antenor built a city where the river Timavus rushes into the sea, that city must have been situ. ated at a great distance from where Padua now stands. The Paduan antiquarians, therefore, accuse Virgil, with. out scruple, of this blunder, that they may retain the Trojan prince as their ancestor. But those who have more regard for the character of Virgil than the antiquity of Padua, insist upon it, that the poet was in the right, and that the city which Antenor built, was upon the banks of Timavus, and exactly a hundred miles from modern Padua. As for Lucan, he is left in the lurch by both sides, though, in my poor opinion, we may naturally suppose, that one of the streams which run into Timavus was, at the time he wrote, called Aponus, which vindicates the poet, without weakening the relation between the Paduans and Antenor.

The inhabitants of Padua themselves seem to have been a little afraid of trusting their claim entirely to classical authority; for an old sarcophagus having been dug up in the year 1283, with an unintelligible inscription upon it, this was declared to be the tomb of Antenor, and was placed in one of the streets, and surrounded with a ballustrade ; and, to put the matter out of doubt, a Latin inscription assures the reader, that it contains the body of the renowned Antenor, who, having escaped from Troy, had drove the Euganei out of the country, and built this identical city of Padua.

Though the Paduans find that there are people ill-natured enough to assert, that this sarcophagus does not contain the bones of the illustrious Trojan, yet they can defy the malice of those cavillers to prove, that they belong to any other person ; upon which negative proof, joined to what has been mentioned above, they rest the merit of their pretensions.

After remaining a few days at Padua, we returned to the village of Doglio, where we had left our vessel. We stopped, and visited some of the villas on the banks of the Brenta. The apartments are gay and spacious, and must be delightful in summer ; but none of the Italian houses seem calculated for the winter, which, nevertheless, I am informed, is sometimes as severe in this country as in England.

Having embarked in our little vessel, we soon entered a canal, of about twenty-two Italian miles in length, which communicates with the Po, and we were drawn along, at a pretty good rate, by two horses. We passed last night in the vessel, as we shall this; for there is no probability of our reaching Ferrara till to-morrow. The banks of this famous river are beautifully fertile. Finding that we could keep up with the vessel, we amused ourselves the greatest part of the day in walking. The pleasure we feel on this classical ground, and the interest we take in all the objects around, is not altogether derived from their own native beauties ; a great part of it arises from the magic colouring of poetical description.

The accounts we have had lately of the king of Prussia's bad health, I suppose, are not true; or if they are, I have good hopes he will recover : I found them on the calm and serene aspect which Eridanus wears at present, which is not the case when the fate of any very great person is depending. You remember, what a rage he was in, and what a tumult he raised, immediately before the death of Julius Cæsar.

Proluit insano contorquens vortice sylvas
Fluviorum Rex Eridanus, camposque per omnes ;

Cum stabulis armenta tulit.

Dryden translates these lines,

Then rising in his might, the King of Floods
Rush'd through the forests, tore the lofty woods ;
And, rolling onward, with a sweepy sway,

Bore houses, herds, and labouring hinds away. Rising in his might is happy, but the rest is not so simple as the original, and much less expressive; there wants the insano contorquens vortice sylvas.

It is not surprising that the Po is so much celebrated by the Roman poets, since it is, unquestionably, the finest river in Italy.

Where every stream in heavenly numbers flows.
It seems to have been the favourite river of Virgil.--

Gemina auratus taurino cornua yultu
Eridanus, quo non alius per pinguia culta

In mare purpureum violentior influit amnis. And Mr. Addison, at the sight of this river, is inspired with a degree of enthusiasm, which does not always animate his poetry.

Fired with a thousand raptures, I survey,
Eridanus through flowery meadows stray ;
The King of Floods ! that, rolling o'er their plains,
The towering Alps of half their moisture drains,
And, proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows,

Distributes wealth and plenty, where he flows. Notwithstanding all that the Latin poets, and, in imitation of them, those of other nations, have sung of the Po, I am convinced that no river in the world has been so well sung as the Thames.-

Thou too great father of the British foods !
With joyful pride survey'st our lofty woods ;
Where tow'ring oaks their growing honours rear,
And future navies on thy shores appear,
Not Neptune's self, from all her streams, receives
A wealthier tribute, than to thine he gives.
No seas so rich, so gay no banks appear,
No lake so gentle, and no spring so clear ;
Nor Po so swells the fabling poets lays,
While led along the skies his current strays,

As thine, which visits Windsor's fam'd abodes. .
If you are still refractory, and stand up for the pane-

gyrists of the Po, I must call Denham in aid of my argument, and I hope you will have the taste and candour to acknowledge, that the following are, beyond comparisop, the noblest lines that ever were written on a river,

My eye descending from the hill, surveys
Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays,
Thames, the most loved of all the Ocean's sons,
By his old sire, to his embraces runs:
Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
Like mortal Life to meet Eternity,
Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,
Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold;
His genuine and less guilty wealth t'explore,
Search not his bottom, but survey his shore;
O'er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing,
And hatches plenty for th' ensuing spring ;
Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
Like mothers which their children overlay.
Nor with a sudden and impetuous wave,
Like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.
No unexpected inundations spoil
The mower's hopes, nor mock the ploughman's toil:
But, godlike, his unweary'd bounty flows:
First loves to do, then loves the good he does.
Nor are his blessings to his banks confined,
But free and common as the sea or wind;
When he, to boast, or to disperse his stores,
Full of the tribute of his grateful shores,
Visits the world, and in his flying towers,
Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours:
Finds wealth where 'tis, bestows it where it wants,
Cities in deserts, woods in cities plants,
So that, to us, no thing, no place is strange,
While his fair bosom is the world's exchange.
O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream,
My great example, as it is my theme !
Though deep, yet clear ; though gentle, yet not dull;
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.
Heaven her Eridanus no more shall boast,

Whose fame in thine, like lesser current, 's lost. You will suspect that I am hard pushed to make out a letter, when I send you such long quotations from the poets. This, however, is not my only reason. While we remain on the Po, rivors naturally become the subject of my letter. I asserted, that the Thames has been more sublimely sung than the favourite river of classical authors, and I wished to lay some of my strongest proofs before you at once, to save you the trouble of turning to the originals.


Ferrarah We arrived here early this morning. The magnificent streets and number of fine buildings shew that this has formerly been a rich and flourishing city. The present inhabitants, however, who are very few in proportion to the extent of the town, bear every mark of poverty.

The happiness of the subjects in a despotic government depends much more on the personal character of the sovereign, than in a free state ; and the subjects of little princes, who have but a small extent of territory, are more affected by the good and bad qualities of those princes, than the inhabitants of great and extensive empires. I had frequent opportunities of making this remark in Germany, where, without having seen the prince, or heard his character, one may often discover his dispositions and turn of mind, from examining into the circumstances and general situation of the people. When the prince is vain and luxurious, as he considers himself equal in rank, so he endeavours to vie in magnificence with more powerful sovereigns, and those attempts always terminate in the oppression and poverty of his subjects; but when the prince, on the other hand, is judicious, active, and benevolent, as the narrow limits of his territories make it easy for him to be acquainted with the real situation and true interest of his subjects, his good qualities operate more directly and effectually for their benefit, than if his dominions were more extensive, and he himself obliged to govern by the agency of ministers.

The duchy of Ferrara was formerly governed by its owo dukes, many of whom happened to be of the charac,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »