The gentleman who shewed us the Ducal palace, seemed himself much struck with its convenience and splendour; but I had seen Versailles, Turin, and Genoa. What can be seen here, and here alone, are the numerous and incomparable works of Giulio Romano; of which no words that I can use would give my readers any adequate idea.—For such excellence language has no praise, and of such performances taste will admit no criticism. The giants could scarcely have been more amazed at Jupiter’s thunder, than I was at their painted fall. If Rome is to exhibit any thing beyond this, I shall really be more dazzled than delighted; for imagination will stretch no further, and admiration will endure no more.
* * * * *
Sunday, April 10.
Here is no appearance of spring yet, though so late in the year; what must it be in England? One almond and one plum tree have I seen in blossom; but no green leaf out of the bud: so cheerless has been the road between Mantua and Verona, which, however, makes amends for all on our arrival. How beautiful the entrance is of this charming city, how grand the gate, how handsome the drive forward, may all be read here in a printed book called Verona illustrata: but my felicity in finding the amphitheatre so well preserved, can only be found in my own heart, which began sensibly to dilate at the seeing an old Roman colisseum kept so nicely, and repaired so well. It is said that the arena here is absolutely perfect; and if the galleries are a little deficient, there can be no dispute concerning the podium, or lower seats, which remain exactly as they were in old times: while I have heard that the building of the same kind now existing at Nismes, shews the manner of entering exceeding well; and the great one built by Vespasian has every thing else: so that an exact idea of the old Circus may be obtained among them all. That something should always be left to conjecture, is however not unpleasing; various opinions animate the arguments on both sides, and bring out fire by collision with the understanding of others engaged in the same researches.
A bull-feast given here to divert the Emperor as he passed through, must have excited many pleasing sensations, while the inhabitants sate on seats once occupied by the masters of the world; and what is more worth wonder, fate at the feet of a Transalpine Caesar, for so the sovereign of Germany is even now called by his Milanese subjects in common discourse; and when one looks upon the arms of Austria, a spread eagle, and recollects that when the Roman empire was divided, the old eagle was split, one face looking toward the East, the other toward the West, in token of shared possession, it affects one; and calls up classic imagery to the mind.