nights after by a thunder storm, such as no dweller
in more northern latitudes can form an idea of; which,
afflicted by some few slight shocks of an earthquake,
frighted us all from our beds, sick and well, and gave
me an opportunity of viewing such flashes of lightning
as I had never contemplated till now, and such as
it appeared impossible to escape from with life.
The tremendous claps of thunder re-echoing among these
Appenines, which double every sound, were truly dreadful.
I really and sincerely thought St. Julian’s
mountain was rent by one violent stroke, accompanied
with a rough concussion, and that the rock would fall
upon our heads by morning; while the agonies of my
English maid and the French valet, became equally
insupportable to themselves and me; who could only
repeat the same unheeded consolations, and protest
our resolution of releasing them from this theatre
of distraction the moment our departure should become
practicable. Mean time the rain fell, and such
a torrent came tumbling down the sides of St. Juliano,
as I am persuaded no female courage could have calmly
looked on. I therefore waited its abatement in
a darkened room, packed up our coach without waiting
to copy over the verses my admiration of the place
had prompted, and drove forward to Sienna, through
Pisa again, where our friends told us of the damages
done by the tempest; and shewed us a pretty little
church just out of town, where the officiating priest
at the altar was saved almost by miracle, as the lightning
melted one of the chalices completely, and twisted
the brazen-gilt crucifix quite round in a very astonishing
Here, however, is the proper place, if any, to introduce
the poem of seventy-three short lines, calling itself
an Ode to Society written in a state of perfect solitude,
secluded from all mortal tread, as was our habitation
at the Bagni di Pisa.
ODE TO SOCIETY.
SOCIETY! gregarious dame!
Who knows thy favour’d
haunts to name?
Whether at Paris you prepare
The supper and the chat to
While fix’d in artificial
Laughter displays its teeth
Grimace with raillery rejoices,
And song of many mingled voices,
Till young coquetry’s
Some foreign novice shall
Who home return’d, still
prates of thee,
Light, flippant, French SOCIETY.
Or whether, with your zone
You ramble gaudy Venice round,
Resolv’d the inviting
sweets to prove,
Of friendship warm, and willing
Where softly roll th’
Sacred to luxury and ease,
In coffee-house or casino
Till the too quick return
Th’ enchanted votary
For sentiments without disguise,
Clear, unaffected, fond, and
In Venice finds SOCIETY.