Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I.
I felt more inclined to laugh than be angry one day, when, from the head of my own table, I saw the servant of a nobleman who dined with us cramming some chicken pattes down his throat behind the door; our own folks humorously trying to choak him, by pretending that his lord called him, while his mouth was full.  Of a thousand comical things in the same way, I will relate one:—­Mr. Piozzi’s valet was dressing my hair at Paris one morning, while some man sate at an opposite window of the same inn, singing and playing upon the violoncello:  I had not observed the circumstance, but my perrucchiere’s distress was evident; he writhed and twisted about like a man pinched with the cholic, and pulled a hundred queer faces:  at last—­What is the matter, Ercolani, said I, are you not well?  Mistress, replies the fellow, if that beast don’t leave off soon, I shall run mad with rage, or else die; and so you’ll see an honest Venetian lad killed by a French dog’s howling.

The phrase of mistress is here not confined to servants at all; gentlemen, when they address one, cry, mia padrona[Footnote:  My mistress], mighty sweetly, and in a peculiarly pleasing tone.  Nothing, to speak truth, can exceed the agreeableness of a well-bred Italian’s address when speaking to a lady, whom they alone know how to flatter, so as to retain her dignity, and not lose their own; respectful, yet tender; attentive, not officious; the politeness of a man of fashion here is true politeness, free from all affectation, and honestly expressive of what he really feels, a true value for the person spoken to, without the smallest desire of shining himself; equally removed from foppery on one side, or indifference on the other.  The manners of the men here are certainly pleasing to a very eminent degree, and in their conversation there is a mixture, not unfrequent too, of classical allusions, which strike one with a sort of literary pleasure I cannot easily describe.  Yet is there no pedantry in their use of expressions, which with us would be laughable or liable to censure:  but Roman notions here are not quite extinct; and even the house-maid, or donna di gros, as they call her, swears by Diana so comically, there is no telling.  They christen their boys Fabius, their daughters Claudia, very commonly.  When they mention a thing known, as we say, to Tom o’Styles and John o’Nokes, they use the words, Tizio and Sempronio.  A lady tells me, she was at a loss about the dance yesterday evening, because she had not been instructed in the programma; and a gentleman, talking of the pleasures he enjoyed supping last night at a friend’s house, exclaims, Eramo pur jeri sera in Appolline[G]! alluding to Lucullus’s entertainment given to Pompey and Cicero, as I remember, in the chamber of Apollo.  But here is enough of this—­more of it, in their own pretty phrase, seccarebbe pur Nettunno[H].  It was long ago that Ausonius said of them more than I can say, and Mr. Addison has translated the lines in their praise better than I could have done.

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Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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