We are going to Venice by the way of Cremona, and hope for amusement from external objects: let us at least not deserve or invite disappointment by seeking for pleasure beyond the limits of innocence.
The first evening’s drive carried us no farther than Lodi, a place renowned through all Europe for its excellent cheese, as out well-known ballad bears testimony:
Let Lodi or Parmesan bring up the rear.
Those verses were imitated, I fancy, from a French song written by Monsieur des Yveteaux, of whose extraordinary life and death much has been said by his cotemporary wits, particularly how some of them found him playing at shepherd and shepherdess in his own garden with a pretty Savoyard wench, at seventy-eight years old, en habit de berger, avec un chapeau couleur de rose[Footnote: In a pastoral habit, and a hat turned up with pink], &c. when he shewed them the famous lines, Avoir peu de parens, moins de train que de rente, &c. which do certainly bear a very near affinity to our Old Man’s Wish, published in Dryden’s Miscellanies; who, among other luxuries, resolves to eat Lodi cheese, I remember.
The town, however, bringing no other ideas either new or old to our minds, we went to the opera, and heard Morichelli sing: after which they gave us a new dramatic dance, made upon the story of Don John, or the Libertine; a tale which, whether true or false, fact or fable, has furnished every Christian country in the world, I believe, with some subject of representation. It makes me no sport, however; the idea of an impenitent sinner going to hell is too seriously terrifying to make amusement out of. Let mythology, which is now grown good for little else, be danced upon the stage; where Mr. Vestris may bounce and struggle in the character of Alcides on his funeral pile, with no very glaring impropriety; and such baubles serve beside to keep old classical stories in the heads of our young people; who, if they must have torches to blaze in their eyes, may divert themselves with Pluto catching up Ceres’s daughter, and driving her away to Tartarus; but let Don John alone. I have at least half a notion that the horrible history is half true; if