Rome, December 25th, 1792.

YOU ask me dear JEPH', to enliven my Song,
By transcribing my notes, as I travell'd along ;
E're I give to my fancy poetical scope ;
And an Anti-Christ paint, whom we here call a Pope.
—At Venice how pleas'd where I relish'd the jeers,
Of those musical Sailors, the gay Gondoliers ;
Who in strains most melodious, most sweetly rehearse,
Tasso's amorous strains in their black floating hearse :
Yet our Boatmen of Thames never deign to display,
Their taste by reciting from Milton, or Gray ;
Because British Ladies intrigue in their houses,
And ne'er sail in barges uncumber'd with spouses.
Thro' the Gondola, Cupid his arrows dispatches,
'Mid Seignors and Seignoras coop'd under hatches ;
Who in the short pauses of mutual delight,
Hear the pilots of Love serenading all night ;
And tuning the Voice, as the bark moves along,
Keep time to the dash of their Oars with this Song :


LET us chant our Seignoras to hail,
   No Gondolier sleeps, or is stupid ;
The favourites of Venus here sail,
   And We are the Sailors of Cupid.

All night our soft Beauties may boat,
   To sport and enjoy their sweet fun ;
They may do what they please while they float,
   And go home with the light of the Sun.

How slow with her Spouse the day steals,
   While she pants for the joys of the night ;
For a favour the Cicisbe' kneels,
   Nor usurps like a Husband his right.

See Venice the Queen of the tide,
   Bids the waves round her palaces twine ;
And to Venus she's warmly ally'd,
   As they both started up from the brine.

Here the Goddess presides, and still bills like a dove,
And ev'ry sensation is wound up to love ;
Strange stories about this mad passion they tell us,
And make nothing of killing, whenever they're jealous ;
Th'assassin asylums himself in the Church,
And we see him in every fine portico lurch ;
Where he prays like a Saint, and devoutly sings psalms,
And piously lives on donations, and alms ;
With a sanctify'd phiz, struts about a sly fryar,
Who for killing his Mistress was forc'd to retire ;
As the Convent all swore, she was kind to another,
And her favours deny'd to their innocent brother :
The Saint in a rage had recourse to his knife,
And stab'd in the Church, where he now pass'd his life ;
May her Sons always cherish this Catholic hope,
To escape from the Devil, as well as the Rope.

Let Venus continue her Florence to grace,
And the Duke to improve the Police of the place ;
As his Highness by innate sagacity led
To equality, levels all folk — when they're dead.
Monseignor and Seignora, from life when they part,
With beggars are group'd in the funeral cart ;
The Priest gives a pass to each penitent Soul,
And their bodies are flung into one common hole.
His Highness commands—no distinctions are made,
Between the sweet Virgin, and frousy old Jade.
In vain their hard fate, foolish mothers deplore,
And with horror behold the cram'd hearse at the door.
For weeping they long to strew flow'rs o'er the bier,
As if even in Death, we felt sympathy's tear :
But Le'pold most wisely with Machi'vel art,
This innate delusion has pluck'd from the heart ;
How goldlike his aim, thus to equalifie Slaves,
And their Freedom restore in Republican graves !

How happy the realms, where such potentates reign,
Like Tuscany's Duke—or the Sovereign of Spain ;
No saucy restrictions e'er limit his will,
Nor prevent a display of his Majesty's skill ;
O come, gentle Muse, and with triumph relate,
How from ruin, he recently sav'd the whole State ;
As a fever expanded Mortality's gloom,
And every day, thousands had swept to the tomb ;
He justly conceiv'd—in his sage royal thought,
That the Pestilence spread, thro' the Doctors own fault ;
o For as diff'rent Specifics they chose to convey,
The Malady ne'er was attack'd in one way ;
And therefore, this scepter'd physician of state,
Assembled his Council (no room for debate) ;
And one Recipe read, to be us'd without fail,
By all Doctors in Spain, or be lodg'd in a jail.
There with robbers and felons the same lot endure,
And they richly deserved it, like PALMER and MUIR !
But the Leeches prescrib'd without any objection,
And the Lord's own anointed thus stop'd the infection.
Some Saint sure endu'd him with this healing grace,
WARREN ne'er could have hit such a critical case.
Philadelphia now mourns, and her passing bells ring,
She might have been sav'd—but she threw off a King !

At Pavia, a singular custom prevails,
To protect the poor debtor from bailiffs, and jails ;
He discharges his score without paying a jot,
By seating himself on a Stone, Sans Culotte.
There solemnly swearing, as honest men ought,
That he's poorer than Job, when reduc'd to a groat :
Yet this naked truth, with such stigma disgraces,
That the rogue, as on nettles, sits, making wry faces.
How strange in such folks to be troubled with shame,
If we paid our debts by performing the same ;
Our Commons and Peers of their seat would be proud,
Take this Oath of conformity, laughing aloud :
Our Faro-bank Ladies would relish the jest,
And their honour restore by this ludicrous test ;
The free-stone from friction would soon want repairs,
As penitent knees wear St. Peter's hard stairs.
But grave ermin'd Sages are justly afraid,
That freeing of debtors would ruin our trade ;
If credit's destroy'd, what becomes of the land,
Could Glory, and War, their dear blessings expand ;
Won't the Chancellor say—Shall Commerce and Riches
Be banish'd our Isle, by untrussing of breeches ?
Then Lord Justice Clerk, against Littleton quote,
So reject Alfred's laws, and the Bill by a vote.

Here the spruce little Pug-dog in fatness remains,
How ungratefully driv'n from Britain's free plains ;
Kind ladies the dear pretty mastiff to hug,
While he sits on their lap, how they dandle the Pug !
When William the hero, tho' seldom victorious,
(And therefore the Paddies still call him Old Glorious!)
Came over most zealous to fight for religion,
Tho' as little he priz'd it as Mahomets pidgeon ;
He imported those bull-dogs, and bade them succeed,
As he did himself, to King Charles, and his breed.
Their footing they gain'd upon James's disaster,
For they never, like Churchill, deserted their master ;
Tho' republicans bred, they still bark'd round the throne,
And like favourites were fed by a bit and a bone.
The little black Spaniel was then a rank Tory,
And indignantly worry'd by Pug in full glory ;
Who was kiss'd by the bishops, and dames with a smack,
'Till proudly he curl'd his Whig-tail on his back :
But when the true Tories again came to shine,
And HORSLEY in tyrants found something divine ;
Then Pug the Dissenter embark'd in a huff,
Else his skin had been flead, and transform'd to a muff ;
And presented by B—ke, with a book to the Queen,
To prove, hanging of Pugs would give Priestly the spleen ;
That we're ripe for rebellion, as Tom Paine has said,
And we never could thrive, till these mastiffs were dead :
For else, these fanatical dogs, out of spite,
Might their brethren infect by a Jacobite bite :
And M'AM, what a tragical scene would ensue,
Since, still their anarchical scheme to pursue,
To the chosen state-pack the infection they'd bring,
And the stag hounds of Windsor might turn on the King ;
As good Prince Actæon, says Ovid canorous,
Was torn by his Jacobin dogs in full Chorus.

The taste here for gardens description defies,
As the mould black and dusty is blown in your eyes ;
O'er the grass parch'd and blasted, no rivulets spread,
But are squirted from trees cast in iron or lead.
The warblers of Nature flit off on the wing,
Lest their love should be prun'd,—to instruct them to sing ;
For songsters and flutes are prepar'd the same way,
They're scoop'd, and they're trim'd, till they pour the sweet lay.
In tubs cram'd with dirt, dropping flow'rets appear,
And a pound, or a paddock, encircles the deer.
For rural delights, thro' the alleys we run,
And are blinded by sand, or bescorch'd by the sun.
No arbour, no shade, and no verdure is seen,
For the trees and the turf are all colours but green.
Here the Saints of the rubric are planted in rows,
St. Dunstan, in box, takes Old Nick, by the nose ;
SUSANNAH in holly, resists the attack,
And the Elders, in willow, are laid on their back ;
Father Adam, in fir, lives in evergreen pride,
And grafted in myrtle, Eve peeps from his side.
The venomous yew Sarah's jealousy shows,
And the sensitive plant Hagar's feelings disclose ;
There Judith still shakes Holophernes's head,
While the cypress displays how the heroine sped ;
Father Noah is shap'd from his dearly-lov'd vine ;
Lots daughters in ivy their parent entwine ;
The hawthorn aspires Jael's deed to explain,
And supplies nail and hammer for Sisera's brain.
Vegetation in sorrow, how poorly I sing !
I could ne'er hit a note on a dolourous string ;
Though the pathos, sublime, I with rapture admire,—
But I touch on BRAGANZA,—so lay down my lyre.

To Letter 5


N O T E S.

o "Of diseases, the most endemical (at Carthagena) are intermitting and putrid fevers.— In the year 1785, during the three autumnal months, they lost two thousand five hundred persons; and the succeeding year, two thousand three hundred more, yet the Almajar, (a pestilential marsh) remains undrained.

When the report of this calamity had reached the Court, an order was dispatched to the physician, that no other medicine should be administered to the sick, than the famous one prescribed by Don Joseph Mardeval, and called by his Opiate.

The physicians of Carthagena were willing to allow this medicine all the credit which was due to it, and to prescribe no other, when they thought this could be used with safety; but to preclude in all cases from the use of other remedies, they thought would be unreasonable. They therefore sent their remonstrances to Court; but in answer there came an express order from the King, that they should be subject to the Intendant of the Dock-yard, and prescribe according to his direction. On the receipt of this mandate from the Court, the Intendant immediately assembled the Physicians, and made known the royal pleasure, informing them, that in case of disobedience, the prisons were prepared, and the guards in waiting to execute his orders. They expostulated, but to little purpose; and being told that nothing short of absolute submission would be accepted, they consented to prescribe the Opiate in all cases, and to evince their sincerity, they signed a Certificate than to other Medicine was so efficacious at this recommended by the King.

This perhaps is the first instance of despotic power controlling the functions of the Physicians, and prescribing uniformity to this class of citizens in the line of their profession."

Townsend's Journey in Spain, Vol. III, p. 141.

As Tuscany's Duke, &c. The present Duke of Tuscany (I am told) has yielded to the remonstrances of his subjects, and now graciously allows every family to bury their dead in their own way. [Back]

Note: When a word is an anchor, there is a textual note or corrected erratum; when the mouse is over the word, the original text or the note will appear in the status window of your browser (almost always the lower left), if your browser is java-enabled. If you click, you come here.

This page is maintained at the University of Chicago by James Eason, who welcomes comments, criticism, and suggestions.