Page images

wonted jollity; and, to my astonishment, I found that the sober Germans understood masquerading and keeping up the frolic of the season as well as the inhabitants of any part of Italy, Venice excepted. On those occasions I was seldom “lost in the throng;” indeed, I had nothing to do but to enjoy myself.

Amongst the distinguished persons to whom General Dalton's friendship introduced me, was the Governor of Gratz, a most highly-gifted nobleman, whose wife laboured under the extraordinary misfortune of not having seen her own face for many years! She was considered the most complete mistress of the art of enamelling in Germany!

“ And all, save the” husband, “ could plainly descry,

From whence came her white and her red.”

Independently of this little failing, she was an amiable, accomplished woman, though proud; and, what was more to my purpose, a good musician. When General Dalton introduced me to her, I had the pleasure of hearing her play very finely on the piano-forte. I recollect she found fault with the manner in which


hair was dressed, observing that it would become me better if combed off my forehead. I defended my mode, merely on the score of being used to it; on which


she said, “My good young man, bear in mind what I now say; while you live, eat and drink to please yourself; but in dress always study to please others.”

About this time, Grétry's opera of “ Selima and Azor” was sent from Vienna, and put into rehearsal. Signora Benini performed Selima; and I the Prince. It was brought out under the immediate patronage of the Governor's lady, who attended all the rehearsals herself. No expense was spared on the scenery and decorations. The second dress I wore, that of the Prince, after being transformed from the monster, was very magnificent; and, to render it more so, the Countess made my turban herself, and almost covered it with her own diamonds ! I often thought, while bearing those shining “honours thick upon me,” that I should be a lucky fellow, if, like Gil Blas, I could make a bolt, merely for the sake of a jest ! but had I been so inclined, it“ might not so easily be," as the Countess, though she had the highest opinion of my honour, thought it not amiss to place her maître d'hôtel behind the scenes, to support it, should it be inclined to make a slip with her diamonds! I was allowed this splendour only for three nights—at the end of the third, I sighed, and returning the turban to the lynx-eyed maître d'hôtel, said, with Cardinal Wolsey, “ Fare


well, a long farewell to all my greatness ;"_" Addio a tutta la mia grandezza.”

The end of the Carnival was now approaching, and with it was to terminate my engagement. It was fortunate for the manager that his season was so near a close, for, returning one morning from a ball, where I had been heated by dancing, I caught a dreadful cold, which confined me to my bed, and an intermezzo opera was got up without me. In a short time I got rid of my fever, but my voice was deprived of all power, or rather of intonation. Although I was gifted by nature with a perfect ear, yet, when I attempted to sing, my voice was so sharp as to be near a note above the instruments, and though I could distinguish the monstrous difference, I could not by any effort correct it. I was obliged to give up singing at the theatre, and was completely wretched! My complaint baffled the skill of all the faculty at that time in Gratz, though the surgeon of an Irish regiment quartered there, a Mr. O'Brein, who stood high in his profession, assured me that it arose from great relaxation; but even in that case, it was impossible to account for the loss of ear and intonation, which nature, had formed so perfect. He, however, expressed great hopes of my recovery, resting them on my youth and excellent constitution, and bade me look for the return of

[blocks in formation]

fine weather with good spirits. But, above all, he advised me, if possible, to return to the mild and genial air of Italy, that of Germany being too keen for me; so much so, as to render the return of my

voice doubtful, notwithstanding his hopes. On his expressing the same opinion to General Dalton, the General sent for me, and in the most soothing terms, desired me to prepare for an immediate return to Italy, as both my life and bread depended on it.

What a reverse of fortune! but a few weeks before I was the happiest of the happy ! caressed by my friends! a favourite with the public ! with every prospect of a renewed engagement; possessing health, spirits, and competence.

My kind patron, the General, gave me letters of recommendation to the Countess of Rosenberg, (an English Lady, whose maiden name was Wynne,) to the Austrian Ambassador, Count Durazzo, Count Priuli, the Cornaro family, and to the senator Benzoni; besides these, I had a particular introduction to Mr. Strange, British chargé d'affaires in Venice.

The stage-manager of the theatre, an Italian of the name of Melaga, was going to Venice for the express purpose of engaging a tenor singer to fill my situation. We agreed to travel together, and I felt happy in havng such a compagnon de voyage, for he was merry and witty, a native of Bologna, and the very man to drive away low spirits ! The second week in Lent, half heart-broken, I took a melancholy leave of my kind and dear friends, and set off for Venice. We had hired a German post waggon, which they call a chaiser, and a complete bone-setter it was! While undergoing its operations, nothing could have so ably aided its torments, as the unconquerable phlegm of the postilion; whatever one suffers ---whatever one says, there he sits, lord of your time ; you may complain, but it is

; useless; his horses and his pipe are his objects, and his passengers are but lumber.

Besides this, the extortions on the road were insufferable; we were obliged to add an extra horse, or perhaps more, at the high and mighty will of the postmaster, to our bone-setter, and often to wait two or three hours for those. The cstlers are the greatest thieves in the world! they make no scruple of stealing any part of the luggage they can lay hold of. Our expenses in horses and postilions, till we got out of Germany, came to about one and sixpence a mile, including extortion ! provisions were dear, scarce, and bad; we sometimes got good beer, and now and then a bottle of excellent hoffner (Hungarian wine). For my part, I lived chiefly on bread and eggs, but my companion was not so easily satisfied. Nature had gifted him with a voracious appetite,

« PreviousContinue »