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the splendour of their equipages. A Venetian nobleman's establishment is very expensive, as he must have his gondolas and gondoliers in Venice, and when he goes to his country-house, of course a land equipage.
I was exceedingly amused with what I saw in Padua; and amongst the sights which possessed the never-failing charm of novelty, were races on the Corso by running footmen, whose speed, I think, would astonish the English patrons of pedestrianism. I found, besides, the attraction of a charming opera; and above all, I there first heard the afterwards, celebrated singer, Crescentini. I was delighted. David, the popular tenor of his day, I remember, performed the character of Iarba, the Moorish king, in the opera of “ La Didone abbandonata ;” and the prima donna, although she sang and acted extremely well, was, since the truth must be told, extremely ugly. At the general rehearsal of the opera, where there were numbers of people assembled, David said, what shewed his want of good nature and gallantry. When Iarba is introduced to Dido, seated on her throne to receive him, his confidant asks him, “Qual ti sembra, 0 Signor?"_" What do you
. think of her ?" Iarba answers, “Superba e bella.”
“ Proud and beautiful.” Instead of saying this, David substituted the following agreeable exclamation, “Superba e brutta !"_“ Proud and ugly!" As Mathews says, “it made a great laugh at the time;" but David was much blamed for his attempt at wit, which was reckoned extremely gross, particularly as the lady's homeliness was not to be made a joke of.
The theatre at Padua is handsome and commodious; it has two superb stone staircases, and five rows of boxes. During the fair, there was a grand room open for gambling, called La Sala di Ridotto, where immense sums were won and lost. I went two or three times to see the play, but never attempted to play myself; the bank is generally held by the proprietors of the theatre, who gain more profit by that, than they do by either their operas or ballets.
After staying in these scenes of gaiety and dissipation until their termination, I returned to my old quarters at the hotel in Venice, where I found a letter from my father, enclosing a letter of credit on a Venetian banker, together with a letter from Lord Granard to Mr. Strange, the English resi_ dent at Venice, which, however, was of no use to me, since Mr. Strange had returned to London about two months before its arrival.
I started in due time to Brescia, and put up at the sign of “ The Lobster," where Bertini came to meet me, and conducted me to a lodging which he had taken for me; it was a second floor of the house, the first floor of which was occupied by La Bella Ortabella herself. I was charmed to be under the same roof with her, and it was, besides, very convenient for me to practise the duets and concerted pieces. The day after she arrived we began our rehearsals; the first opera was “ Il Pittore
Parigino;" the music, by Cimarosa, was beautiful ; -the Painter was the character allotted to me ;the opera pleased very much. The town of Brescia was all alive, being fair-time, and the theatre was crowded; it was a very splendid building; the boxes, of which there were five tiers, were ornamented with glasses, like those of San Carlo, at Naples, and the seats in the pit turned up in the same way as in Padua. Independently of a very good company of singers, there was an excellent, and very expensive corps de ballet.
The proprietor, who was, in fact, our ostensible manager, was a most celebrated personage, Il Cavaliere Manuel, surnamed, “ Il Cavaliere Prepotente;" a man of inordinately bad character, and implacable in his revenge, wherever he took offence.--He was enormously rich, but never would pay any evitable debt, which, in some degree, accounted for his wealth ; indeed, it was at the risk of life that any body pressed him for money ; -he had in his pay a set of Sicari (assassins), who wore his livery, and when commanded by him, would shoot any, person in the streets at noon-day;
--woe to the man marked for his
vengeance. The dress of these assassins, who were mostly mountaineers from his own estates, consisted of scarlet breeches and waistcoats, and green jackets,—their long hair was tied
up in nets; they wore enormous whiskers, and large cocked hats with gold buttons and loops; in their belts were pistols, carbines at their backs, and large rapiers by their sides; and yet those ruffians walked the streets at liberty, and though known by all classes, none dare molest or take notice of them. The Venetian Senate, whose subjects they were, never could subdue them, though they used every means in their power to do so; and such was the state of society at the period of which I speak, that there was scarcely a noble Brescian who had not a set of them in his service, and rarely a week passed without an assassination.
While I was there, one of these fellows walked up to a coffee-house, tapped a gentleman on the shoulder, and begged of him to stand aside; he then levelled his carbine at a person who was sitting on a bench at the coffee-house door, and shot him dead on the spot; yet no one had sufficient courage to secure the murderer, who with the greatest sang froid walked unmolested to the church of the Jesuits, della Grazzie, where he was in perfect security.
Unfortunately for me, this Cavalier Manuel made proposals to the prima donna, La Ortabella, which she had the courage to reject. He attributed her coolness to a partiality which he suspected she had for me, and told her, that her refusal of the honour he offered of his protection, was owing to her preference of a vulgar singer, and swore that my interference should be the worst act of my life. She told me this, and felt alarmed for my safety. A foolish frolic increased his hatred to wards me.
One day, looking at the frolic and fun going forward in the Fiera, with three or four of the opera singers, I saw a Neapolitan mountebank, moun ed on a stage, holding forth to the crowd, telling their fortunes;—“Egad!” said I to my companions, “ I have a mind to ask the mountebank a question which concerns us all :" they entreated me to do so. I accordingly made my way to the rostrum, slipped half a silver ducat into the mountebank's hand, and said to him, “ Most potent astrologer, my companions and myself, convinced of your great science, are anxious that you should resolve the question I shall put to you."
The mountebank pocketed the half ducat, and with becoming gravity desired me to state the case. “ The question is,” said I, “ one which we, per
, formers of the theatre in Brescia, are most anxious