A transplanted Hollander, carried thither originally from China, seems to thrive particularly well in this part of the world; the little pug dog, or Dutch mastiff, which our English ladies were once so fond of, that poor Garrick thought it worth his while to ridicule them for it in the famous dramatic satire called Lethe, has quitted London for Padua, I perceive; where he is restored happily to his former honours, and every carriage I meet here has a pug in it. That breed of dogs is now so near extirpated among us, that I recoiled: only Lord Penryn who possesses such an animal; and I doubt not but many of the under-classes among brutes do in the same manner extinguish and revive by chance, caprice, or accident perpetually, through many tracts of the inhabited world, so as to remain out of sight in certain districts for centuries together.
This town, as Abbe Toaldo observed, is old, and dirty, and melancholy-looking, in itself; but Terence told us long ago, and truly, “that it was not the walls, but the company, made every place delightful:” and these inhabitants, though few in number, are so exceedingly cheerful, so charming, their language is so mellifluous, their manners so soothing, I can scarcely bear to leave them without tears.
Verona was the first place I felt reluctance to quit; but the Venetian state certainly possesses uncommon, and to me almost unaccountable, attractions. Be that as it will, we leave these sweet Paduans to-morrow; the coach is disposed of, and we are to set out upon our watry journey to their wonderfully-situated metropolis, or as they call it prettily, La Bella Dominante.
We went down the Brenta in a barge that brought us in eight hours to Venice, the first appearance of which revived all the ideas inspired by Canaletti, whose views of this town are most scrupulously exact; those especially which one sees at the Queen of England’s house in St. James’s Park; to such a degree indeed, that we knew all the famous towers, steeples, &c. before we reached them. It was wonderfully entertaining to find thus realized all the pleasures that excellent painter had given us so many times reason to expect; and I do believe that Venice, like other Italian beauties, will be observed to possess features so striking, so prominent, and so discriminated, that her portrait, like theirs, will not be found difficult to take, nor the impression she has once made easy to erase. British charms captivate less powerfully, less certainly, less suddenly: but being of a softer sort increase upon acquaintance; and after the connexion has continued for some years, will be relinquished with pain, perhaps even in exchange for warmer colouring and stronger expression.