A Frenchman whom I sent for once at Bath to dress my hair, gave me an excellent trait of his own national character, speaking upon that subject, when he meant to satirise ours. “You have lived some years in England, friend, said I, do you like it?”—“Mais non, madame, pas parfaitement bien[L]”—“You have travelled much in Italy, do you like that better?”—“Ah, Dieu ne plaise, madame, je n’aime gueres messieurs les Italiens[M].” “What do they do to make you hate them so?”—“Mais c’est que les Italiens se tuent l’un l’autre (replied the fellow), et les Anglois se font un plaisir de se tuer eux mesmes: pardi je ne me sens rien moins qu’un vrai gout pour ces gentillesses la, et j’aimerois mieux me trouver a Paris, pour rire un peu."[N]
[Footnote L: Why no truly ma’am, not much.]
[Footnote M: Oh, God forbid—no, I cannot endure those Italians.]
[Footnote N: Why, really, the Italians have such a passion for murdering each other, ma’am, and the English such an odd delight in killing themselves, that I, who have acquired no taste for such agreeable amusements, grow somewhat impatient to return to Paris, and get a good laugh among my old acquaintance.]
The Lucrezia Padovana, who has a monument erected here in this justice hall to her memory, is the only instance of self-murder I have been told yet; and her’s was a very glorious one, and necessary to the preservation of her honour, which was endangered by the magistrate, who made that the barter for her husband’s life, in defence of which she was pleading; much like the story of Isabella, Angelo, and Claudio, in Shakespear’s Measure for Measure. This lady, whole family name I have forgotten, stabbed herself in presence of the monster who reduced her to such necessity, and by that means preserved her husband’s life, by suddenly converting the heart of her hateful lover, who from that dreadful day devoted himself to penitence and prayer.
The chastity of the Patavian ladies is celebrated by some old Latin poet, but I cannot recollect which. Lucrezia, however, was a Christian. I could not much regard the monument of Livy though, for looking at her’s, which attracted and detained my attention more particularly.
The University of Padua is a noble institution; and those who have excelled among the students, are recorded on tablets, for the most part brass, hung round the walls, made venerable by their arms and characters. It was pleasing to see so many British names among them—Scotchmen for the most part; though I enquired in vain for the admirable Crichton. Sir Richard Blackmore was there, but not one native of France. We were spiteful enough to fancy, that was the reason that Abbe Richard says nothing of the establishment.