Page images

all the beau monde of Treviso, and passed many delightful hours. In that very house, many years afterwards, lived my lamented friend the late Mrs. Billington, who has described to me the period of her residence in it, as the most miserable of her existence.

At one of Madame Marcello's concerts, I had the pleasure of hearing the greatest reputed dilettante singer in Europe, La Signora Teresa de Petris. Nor was her reputation higher than her merits'; she had one of the finest voices I ever heard, combined with great science and expression : in addition to this, she was very beautiful, and had about her all the Venetian fascination. She married a noble Venetian, Il Signor Veniera, but, for some reason, was separated from him. Her cavaliere servente was Count Vidiman, a handsome and rich young nobleman, who resided at Venice, and who was devoted to music and to her. He was also a great protector of the composer Anfossi, and so attached to his music, that he would scarcely listen to any other. He had fixed a performance to take place at Venice the beginning of Lent; an oratorio composed expressly for her Excellency La Signora de Petris, by Anfossi, was to be performed at Count Pepoli's private theatre. The Count called upon me one morning, and said, “ La Signora de Petris wishes that you should perform in the oratorio


with her. If you think it worth your consideration, I offer you an engagement for four months.”

I was elated at the proposition, and accepted his offer. I was to be at his command for four months, to remain during that period at Venice, and to accept of no public engagement whatever. I could not have met with any thing so pleasing, as my delight was Venice, and its amusements were congenial to my taste and time of life.

We were now within a few nights of closing the theatre at Treviso, and Count Vidiman and Signora de Petris were going to Udina, the capital of Friuli, where he had large estates; and afterwards to spend a month or six weeks with his mother, the old Countess, with whom La Signora de Petris was a great favourite. The Count having heard me express a wish to visit Parma, said, he thought that the time he should be absent at Udina would be the most convenient whereat to satisfy my curiosity; and besides, I then might have a chance of uniting profit with pleasure, as the Arch-duchess, who was a lover of music, and a fine performer herself, gave great encouragement to musical artists who visited her court, and her private band was esteemed the choicest and best in Italy. The Count procured me a letter of recommendation to Her Royal Highness from Il Signor Cavaliere Giustiniani, who had been at the court of Parma, Ambassador from the Vene



tian State, and while there, was in the highest favour

I set off post for the city of Modena, on my way to Parma ; and on my arrival there, at the door of the post-house, recognised Fochetti, the bass singer, who had performed with me when I was so much younger in Dublin. I made myself known to him, and it was an agreeable surprise to us both to meet where we so little expected it. I passed a pleasant evening with him at the inn, talking of old times, and Ireland; he told me he had retired from the stage, with a sufficient fortune to enable him to re

a main in his native city of Modena, where he held the situation of first bass singer at the reigning Duke's Royal Chapel

At an early hour the next morning, he called upon me to shew me what was worth seeing. Modena stands twenty miles west of Bologna, and twentyeight east of Parma. It is curious enough, although perhaps generally known, that carrier pigeons are constantly used here for the conveyance of letters. It is said that this custom had its origin in Hirtius the consul, who adopted the use of them while Decius Brutus was besieged by Marc Antony.

Fochetti took me to see the Ducal Palace. I thought it very superb. In it are a number of

very fine paintings, particularly a nativity by Correggio. The inhabitants of Modena are not a little vain in


· having to boast that the divine poet Tasso was a native of their city. Of the churches, those of St. Domingo and the Jesuits are the worthiest of notice; we went also to view the College of St. Carlo Bremeo, in which upwards of one hundred noblemen are educated. Most of the houses in the city have porticoes, and covered walks; their chief trade, I understood, consisted in masks, which they are famous for making, and export in great numbers. .

But to proceed :—After seeing the sights, I took an affectionate leave of my old friend; I confess that the parting made me quite melancholy, and brought to my mind the happy days I had passed with him at my father's house, where he was a constant and welcome guest. However, I dissipated my care by travelling, and about six in the evening got sight of the city, so famous for its truffles and its cheese (of which, by the way, not one morsel is made in Parma, for what are called Parmesan cheeses are made at Piacenza and Lodi); and was set down at the Osteria di Gallo, where I took up my residence.

In the morning, I was informed that Her Royal Highness the Arch-duchess was at her villa at Colorno, a few miles from town. I therefore hired a carriage, and proceeded thither; I was struck with the magnificence of the palace, and the beauty of the grounds, as I approached the end of my journey;

which having achieved, I announced myself to Her Royal Highness's Chamberlain, and informed him that I came to Colorno to present Her Royal Highness with some letters from Treviso; the Chamberlain conducted me immediately to Her Royal Highness's presence. I found her in her billiard-room, playing with some of her suite, (amongst whom were the favourite musicians belonging to her band,) and without appearing to possess the smallest pride, putting every person completely at his ease by her fascinating condescension. She seemed in perfect good humour with her game, at which she appeared a great proficient.

After it was concluded, she came up to me, inquired most kindly after Il Cavaliere Giustiniani, conversed with me for some time about Naples particularly, and asked me if I had ever seen her sister, the Queen of Naples. I replied that I had had the honour of singing before Her Majesty at Posilipo. “ Had you?" said Her Royal Highness; “ then you shall also sing before her sister at Colorno. Remain here a few days, if you have time to spare, and we will have a little music." She then left the billiard-room, and desired Count Palavacini, her Chamberlain, to introduce me to the gentlemen of her private band; they were all great favourites with her. I dined with them, and they were particularly attentive to me, and had an excellent table


« PreviousContinue »