“Only, he is English.”
“If he is, he deserves what he’s got.”
A stout Briton delivered this sentence, and gave in addition a sermon on meddling, short, emphatic, and not uncheerful apparently, if estimated by the hearty laugh that closed it; though a lady remarked, “Oh, dear me! You are very sweeping.”
“By George! ma’am,” cried the Briton, holding out his newspaper, “here’s a leader on the identical subject, with all my views in it! Yes! those Italians are absurd: they never were a people: never agreed. Egad! the only place they’re fit for is the stage. Art! if you like. They know all about colouring canvas, and sculpturing. I don’t deny ’em their merits, and I don’t mind listening to their squalling, now and then: though, I’ll tell you what: have you ever noticed the calves of those singers?—I mean, the men. Perhaps not—for they’ ve got none. They’re sticks, not legs. Who can think much of fellows with such legs? Now, the next time you go to the Italian Opera, notice ’em. Ha! ha!—well, that would sound queer, told at secondhand; but, just look at their legs, ma’am, and ask yourself whether there’s much chance for a country that stands on legs like those! Let them paint, and carve blocks, and sing. They’re not fit for much else, as far as I can see.”
Thus, in the pride of his manliness, the male Briton. A shrill cry drew the attention of this group once more to the person who had just kindly furnished a topic. He had been met on his way by a lady unmistakeably foreign in her appearance. “Marini!” was the word of the cry; and the lady stood with her head bent and her hands stiffened rigidly.
“Lost her husband, I dare say!” the Briton murmured. “Perhaps he’s one of the ‘hanged, or shot,’ in the list here Hanged! shot! Ask those Austrians to be merciful, and that’s their reply. Why, good God! it’s like the grunt of a savage beast! Hanged! shot!—count how many for one day’s work! Ten at Verona; fifteen at Mantua; five—there, stop! If we enter into another alliance with those infernal ruffians!—if they’re not branded in the face of Europe as inhuman butchers! if I—by George! if I were an Italian I’d handle a musket myself, and think great guns the finest music going. Mind, if there’s a subscription for the widows of these poor fellows, I put down my name; so shall my wife, so shall my daughters, so we will all, down to the baby!”