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regiment. The inmates of his palace, exclusive of servants, are fortysix in number. In his train, he has constantly a full corps of French players, who follow him about from place to place, for the amusement of himself and friends. By the prettiest of the actresses, he has a natural son, who is now a sprightly lad, and who may be seen every evening galloping his pony across the Ponte Serraglio, at the side of his mother, and followed by the dwarf of Demidoff, who has charge of his diamonds. The latter is a mere lump of flesh, and makes a most grotesque figure, when mounted on horseback, and coursing like the wind.
We first saw the Count in passing his palace. He was seated in a shady portico asleep, while a negro stood by fanning him, and keeping off the flies. The picture forcibly brought to my mind a passage in Cowper :
"I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
But when one reasons philosophically on the subject, there may be no cruelty in such an ignoble service. It may be even an act of kindness. The slave is doubtless well fed and well paid; and it is not so hard to wield a palm-leaf or the tail of a bird, as either the hoe or spade.
We subsequently saw the Count, not only whirled along the Corso in one of his score of gilded coaches, but seated on a sumptuous couch, and presiding over the court of pleasure, at one of his great balls, to which the Consul's acquaintance with the family procured us tickets. The cards of invitation are issued in the French language, in the name of Madame Dournoff, a sister of Demidoff, and are made general for every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, during the season. We attended on the evening of the 10th. The ball was held in the theatre, which is a handsome building, with three tiers of boxes, lighted by brilliant chandeliers. It was this evening decorated with flowers. Spacious as it is, half of the company could not be accommodated on the arena for dancing; and every part of the room was crowded. The Count is somewhat advanced, and quite infirm. He was comfortably seated, with his legs stretched upon a stool. He has no wife. Madame Dournoff is a pretty woman, and accomplished in her manners. The belle of the evening seemed to be a neice of the Bishop of Ossory, who is travelling with her through Italy. We passed them at Foligno, on our return from Rome, where one of their servants was
thrown from the coach, and had a limb broken. Of the mixed assembly here gathered together from all quarters of the world, was a lady from the Crimea. She is a Tartar, and has the high cheek bones, tawny complexion, and other peculiarities of the Chinese face. A Grecian girl was also present. She has a fair complexion, and is polished in her manners. One would hardly suspect her of being a native of the East. A Greek gentleman had features more strongly marked. He was not in the costume of his country, and I at first took him for a West-Indian. The Bishop of Cyprus, (an appropriate title,) may be added to the group of oriental characters.
Among the persons of rank, was the Duke of Lucca, (Infanta of Spain and nephew of Ferdinand VII.) the gayest of the gay, clapping his hands and stamping, in some of the old-fashioned dances, and whirling in the giddy circle of the waltz, with the wife of the Austrian ambassador. The scandal of the place accuses him of a notorious intrigue with her, which nearly broke the heart of his young and amiable wife. During the life of his mother Maria Louisa, he was kept under rigid discipline; but since her death, he is said to dip deep in dissipation. He often sings for the amusement of social parties. As for the Austrian minister, he is more than even with his peccant spouse. His amours are innumerable.* The public functionaries at the Tuscan court were at the ball, glittering with stars and orders of nobility, except the English ambassador, who was in a plain citizen's dress. He is a fine looking man, frank and unassuming in his deportment. He has some claims to literary reputation, being the author of a memoir on the Campaigns of the Peninsula, in which he served in the staff of Wellington. On this occasion he forgot both his sword and pen, and joined in the waltz with Signora Turino, an elegant Milanese lady.
At 1 o'clock in the morning, the curtain of the theatre rose, and disclosed the supper table, covered with splendid plate, and laden with bounties. The coup d'oeil was brilliant. It is said the Count is obliged to use gilt wares, instead of massive gold and silver, on account of the frequent thefts that have been committed by some of his guests, who have whipped spoons and forks into their pockets, to defray the expenses of dress for the next ball. Once or twice in
*The Austrian minister is the son of an ultra-royalist in France, who took a decided part against the Revolution, and was obliged to leave his country. The young refugee married the daughter of a wealthy banker at Copenhagen, without the consent of her father, and has since found favour in the eyes of the Austrian government. He is said to be a man of little talent and no character.
the season, a general gala is given to all the peasantry in the neighbourhood, when the Duke of Lucca appears, and drinks champaign with his subjects. In fact, all possible ways are devised of spending money. We attended the theatre several evenings. Between the acts, refreshments consisting of ice-creams, orgeat, and other drinks, are sent round to all the boxes.
We left the gay throng at table, and the festivities were probably continued for the greater part of the night, as is usual with the Italians, who do all their sleeping during the heat of the day. Such are the high sports of this fashionable and voluptuous retreat. Dissipation, love, and pleasure seem to be the sole objects of pursuit. All have their intrigues, from the nobility to their milliners. Day after day is lost in the giddy round, which continues for several months, and the generality of visitants leave in worse health than they came.
On another evening we visited the Casino, at the Bagni Caldi, on the Serchio side. In crossing the hill by the footpath already mentioned, several sedans were observed, borne by peasants, who were toiling up the steep, with some fop, in his silk stockings and pumps, for a burden. The picture is extremely painful and repulsive. For old persons, or invalids such servitude may be necessary; but I would sooner do penance with monks, by walking with peas in my shoes, than be thus borne. The degradation of Demidoff's slave is nothing to this. It, however, has the sanction of the Pope, whose authority is good all over Italy.
The Casino is the rendezvous of all fashionable people, even of such as do not obtain admittance to the balls and spectacles of the Count. We found two large saloons filled with ladies and gentlemen in full dresses. One apartment is appropriated to dancing and the other to gambling. In the former, quadrilles, together with German and Russian waltzes, are the favourite amusements. The gallery of faces was much the same as at Demidoff's. I was surprised to see the British minister dancing in such a motley assemblage, embracing jockeys and blacklegs.* The Russian waltz is a rude and ungraceful dance, better suited to a gymnasium than a ball-room. In the gaming room, tables were spread in the style of the Palais Royal. French customs, French dresses, and the French language prevail at the Baths of Lucca.
* Half a dozen of these characters were pointed out to me. Some of them are notorious. Two of them were banished for their crimes; and one has been in England, where he used to gamble with the King, and the Duke of York. A spy of the Austrian government, who is here in an official capacity, to watch the movements of the assemblage, was also designated.
Both sexes were engaged in play, and the saucy rateaux are wielded with as much dexterity, as at Frescati's. Some of the visitants, who have missed an opportunity of pocketing plate at Demidoff's, here make up the deficit in their funds. We remained till 1 o'clock in the morning, when the reign of pleasure had apparently but just commenced.
Every day during our visit, we went regularly at 5 o'clock in the afternoon to the Ponte Serraglio, to witness the movements of the fashionable world. It is one of the most novel and peculiar scenes. I have found in any country. In the depth of these mountains and solitudes, where one would look only for wild beasts and banditti—in a cluster of mean houses, scarcely rising to the dignity of a hamlet-at a bridge not surpassing that over Goose Creek at Washington, the spectator finds all the bustle, splendour, and gaiety of Hyde Park in London, the Boulevards of Paris, or the Corso at Rome. Here dukes, nobles, and foreign ministers, in court dresses glittering with stars and the badges of rank, roll by in their coaches and six, followed by mounted chasseurs and retinues in livery. Here too no inconsiderable share of the beauty of Italy, with accessions from other countries, may be seen, dashing along the dusty course in carriages, exhibiting feats of horsemanship upon the saddle, or reposing beneath the awning in front of a humble coffee-house, the Bottegone of the Baths, where hogsheads of ice-cream and orgeat are daily vended.
We used to take our seats a little apart from the multitude, in company with friends who knew almost every person upon the fashionable exchange, and who gave a sketch of the character of each as he passed. In some cases we saw bankrupt nobles, with nothing left but their titles, labouring to keep up style and the appearance of wealth; while in others, newly acquired wealth courted familiarity, and sought to mingle with nobility. Antiquated belles were looking out for fresh admirers, and gamesters for new subjects to fleece. One was happy in a successful intrigue; and another felicitated himself, that he wore a gold chain in place of a halter, and was travelling the Corso, instead of the road to the gallows.
On the afternoon of the 9th, we had a charming walk of two or three miles, down the left bank of the Lima, which is solitary, shady, and agreeable, after mingling in the bustle of the opposite shore. The government has opened an excellent road, bordered by trees; but it is seldom traversed by visitants, who prefer show, noise, and dust to a pure air and rural quiet.
Having witnessed every variety of scene, from high to low life, which the Baths of Lucca afford, we went to the theatre for the last
time, took leave of our circle of friends, and made preparations to leave on the 12th. Our style of travelling on the return was very different from that of Count Demidoff. The press of company had put in requisition all the vetturini and decent coaches. We were therefore compelled to charter a one horse car, mounted with a sort of circular tub, in which we all sat facing one another, with a harness made of ropes, and a saddle resembling a Gallipagos tortoise. But the amusement of the thing counterbalanced the inconvenience; and we had no titles of nobility to be impaired by a neglect of style. The vehicle bore us safe to the place of destination-and that was enough.