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that personage destroying the altars of the false gods, and being burnt alive in consequence, while ovations are afterwards offered by an unreflecting public to the Pathian Venus, in the person of her worthy delegate the young American. The music is solemn, and somewhat lugubrious—the story dull—there is no love, and little hate. Poluito, in the grand scena, knocks down a pasteboard tripod, and puts out six tin censers filled with lighted tow, placed in the centre of a very seedye looking temple; after performing which feat, he sings a solo to the priest of Jupiter, who is present, and listens to his roulades with an attention perfectly polite and gentlemanly. A Roman governor Aourishes about in gold boots and a red toga, and Paulina, the heroine, is finally led off to execution in company with the obstreperous Christian, a very Roman Chartist, in a very unbecoming kind of brown bombazine bathing dress. The said lady rejoices in the name of Bendazzi in her normal state, and is nothing extraordinary; but as Italians always act well, one never has the infliction of seeing the sticks that disgrace the English stage. Why don't they have good modern Italian operas in London, instead of that everlasting “ Lucia,” and sickly “Somnambula,” which year after year are repeated, and give one the notion there is no new music existing? Whereas, in Italy, there is a never-ending change and novelty.
Beaucarde has been singing quite lately at the Pergola, too, in the “ Favorita." His voice is charming—a real tenore robusto, and yet sweet and malleable as a flute; very superior in my mind to Mario, who now generally sings but one song well in a whole opera. Apropos of Mario, he has been in Florence, looking as much like a fine Titian as ever; his indeed being one of those classically beautiful countenances, partaking largely of that antique type perpetuated by the great masters. In Italy, Mario ceases to be a stage actor, and is restored to his proper sphere, being in rank a duke, son of a former governor of Nice, and, as such, is treated with the highest distinction. Florence has been rejoicing over him as the man she “delighteth to honour,” particularly as he has flattered the vanity of the city by purchasing a splendid villa, formerly occupied by Mr. Vansittart, just out of the Porta San Gallo, under the shadow of the beautiful orange-terraced hill of Fiesole, crowned as with a mural diadem by the ancient Etruscan capitol.
Although Mario's visits are generally brief, some splendid fêles were given in his honour. I was present at one given at our great English banker's, Baron F- , so well known and esteemed as the Torlonia of Florence. The whole of the superb apartments of the Palazzo Covoni were thrown open to the beau monde, who came in shoals, all hoping and expecting to hear Mario sing, which, strange to say, he never has yet done in Italy. The great tenore was too much fatigued by a rapid journey to gratify the company; and, although he looked blooming with health and in the highest spirits, and kept provokingly hovering about the piano, not one note did we hear of his honey-like voice. The Pope's nuncio at the Tuscan court, after being introduced to him, added his solicitations to the others, but was alike refused.
This same nuncio amused me extremely; he was the veriest ecclesiastical dandy I ever beheld ; nothing could exceed the finical neatness and elegance of his costume, and the evident satisfaction with which he displayed the beauties of his dress and person. As to anything reverend or sacred about him, one might as well have looked for clerical gravity in poor Lord Cantalupe. His countenance was spirituel and animated, with fine large speaking eyes, of which he made good use. He was dressed in black, with a light silk mantle of the same colour, similar in shape to those always worn by the priesthood. The front of his shirt was covered with violet silk, his stockings were of the same colour, and the nattiest, tiniest little feet, of which he appeared not a little vain, were encased in delicate shoes with large buckles. In his hand he carried his hat of the regular padre form, only garlanded by a crimson cord and tassels. A more dapper, lively, talkative little gentleman, somewhere on the borders of forty, I never had the pleasure of encountering. He talked to every one, specially to some recent English converts, with great empressement, and skipped about the rooms, chatting by turns in French and Italian with equal Auency, like an emancipated schoolboy. He was particularly disappointed that Mario would not sing, and seemed very curious about his private history, asking “ If he were married 9” with the utmost naiveté. And so the chirruping little coxcomb is one of the Sacred College, a reverend father in God, and possibly may live to be his Holiness and have his toe kissed ! O misericordia! I am glad I am a Protestant. He has at least the merit of exacting none of the servility insisted on by our own nuncio, Cardinal Wiseman, who compels people to kiss his hands and bow down before him, as if he were the great graven image Nebuchadnezzar the King had set up.
Although Mario did not sing, there was some excellent amateur music. Miss H- , a young English lady, sang, with an execution and sweetness quite astonishing, the most complicated soprano music, in a style altogether Italian, but with a graceful modesty essentially English. She was supported by Prince Guiseppe Poniatowski, who has a fine barytone voice, and sings like a perfect musician. Other performers there were also, whose names I did not catch.
Among the company were many celebrities. The clever, witty Lever, who has long taken up his abode in Florence, with his pretty wife and handsome daughter, who looks so thoroughly Venetian, with her rich auburn hair, fine radiant complexion, and sparkling black eyes, one could swear she had sat for a model to Giorgione or Paolo Veronese, and that one had seen her picture twenty times in the galleries of Venice. Mrs. Trollope was playing whist in a corner in stern and rigid silence, looking as interested in her game as if she had never handled aught but cards all her life. If you had been there, Mr. Editor, she would, I am certain, have been more gracious to you; but, as it was, all the company seemed beneath her attention, and she heeded no one, and looked furious if interrupted.
The celebrated Lady — was seated on an ottoman in the centre of the largest room, surrounded by a court of gentlemen, all anxious to gain a word, a look, a smile from this fair ruler of the Florentine beau monde. She is no longer young, but her countenance possesses that true type of English aristocratic beauty which may almost defy age, like the Countess of J- y, or the Duchess of S- , and she will still bear off the palm, even when younger and fresher beauties, in all the zenith of their charms, are present. Delicately fair, with melting yet lively blue eyes, the most silky hair, and a neck and arms and shoulders of wasy smoothness, there is a high-bred charm about her manner and address quite irresistible. She condescends so gracefully, none could have the heart to dispute her sovereignty; and when she intends to please, were it a Caliban she is certain of success, for who could resist that angel smile and sweet though dignified address ? One could hardly believe that this delicate creature is a great smoker, and nightly receives a large circle of gentlemen expressly for the purpose of indulging in the noxious weed; yet such is the case, and that finely-formed mouth is but too often on those occasions disfigured by a cigar.
But she is just one of those privileged persons who may do what they please and still be charming and irresistible, as is proved by the absolute sway the fair lady exercises over all the world here. The men especially are her abject slaves, and her nightly réunions are literally social parliaments, where measures and resolutions are proposed and discussed as to what is—or is not to be--and who is, or who is not, to be received within the city over which the fair sultana reigns. Long may she live to exercise her gentle sway, enforced by the eloquent expression of those matchless eyes—as absolute as the veriest tyranny of the middle ages!
But it is growing late, good Mr. Editor, and we must take our leave of the brilliant circle at the Palazzo Covoni, who will talk and sing, and fan themselves, and eat ices, far too late into the night for your taste. I have, too, exhausted all my present news, and must bid you farewell!
TALES OF MY DRAGOMAN.
By Basil May. Now, there was in a certain Turkish province a pacha much beloved of the people for his condescension and impartiality. Daily, almost, accompanied by his officers of state, he visited the bazaars and stalls, and though not always a purchaser, he invariably addressed some pleasing remark to the dealers. A great favourite of his was a certain Muftifiz, a jeweller, whose shrewdness had attracted his notice.
“By Bruin's ultimatum !” exclaimed the pacha, “ a rare brooch, a very rare brooch; and thou sayest, Muftifiz, 'tis genuine tribute gold ; that these bright sparkling gems symbolise the frankness and liberality of the North Land Gaiour. By Muckenough's passport, I like the allegory. What say the faithful servants of the Prophet?” he inquired, turning to his officers, who had gathered round him at his first words.
There was the kiaya, a host in himself. There was Achmet Benali, Achmet Ali and Bibi; severally, the grand master of the mules and whipper-in in ordinary to the seraglio, the master of the pantaloons and
dispenser in extraordinary of otto of roses, the commander-in-chief of all the forces.
Various were the ejaculations of astonishment and delight which proceeded from these great men on beholding this wonderful combination of nature and art.
The kiaya looked greedy, Achmet Benali was wistful, Achmet Ali gave a glance at his person, and Bibi swore by the fumes of his chibouk.
“ Such an appropriate trinket must not belong to any other but ourself,” said the pacha; “friend Muftifiz, let it be carefully packed and sent to the palace."
“Your highness's will be done,” answered Muftifiz, bowing graciously, and with satisfaction beaming on his countenance he laid the jewel on one side. “His faithful slave,” he continued, “prays his highness will look at these wares," and he directed the attention of the pacha and his attendants to the contents of a mahogany-case, in which was a variety of articles, from a gold Geneva watch to a silver Sheffield toothpick.
Each bought something. The pacha a signet ring, the kiaya a pair of earrings, the master of the mules a jockey-cap and whip coat-studs, the dispenser in extraordinary of otto of roses a scent bottle, and Bibi a paperknife made like a dagger.
Whilst so engaged, a fakir, or religious mendicant, happened to pass, and seeing the illustrious company in the jeweller's shop, stepped in and solicited alms, and Bibi, who was also almoner, put some loose coins in a piece of paper and handed them to him.
“The spirit of the true Prophet be with you," said the beggar, and disappeared.
The pacha and his attendants had been gone about ten minutes, and were about to enter into one of the bazaars, when Muftifiz, breathless, pale, and greatly agitated, presented himself before the pacha, and begged he would grant him a few moments in private. The pacha, who perceived his favourite's scared looks, and saw at a glance that some matter of importance alone could so disturb his usual equanimity, bid his officers retire to a distance whilst he conversed with him.
“ Highness,” said Muftifiz, and he stammered as he spoke, “the brooch is gone.”
“Gone—the brooch gone-where ?"
“I know not, highness. I laid it on one side whilst you inspected my other wares ; no one has been into my shop since, and now I cannot lay hands on it. Allah! Allah! be merciful, or his servant is lost.”
“Calm thyself, friend Muftifiz," said the pacha ; and calling to his attendants, he bade them retrace their steps to the jeweller's.
Nothing but looks occurred, not a single word was spoken, for every one felt there was something unusual had happened.
“ Faithful and honest servants," said the pacha, as soon as they were all in, and the door was closed, “ somebody has prigged a brooch. It isn't me, here's the proof;' and suiting the action to the word, the pacha turned out the pockets of his pantaloon, and held them out by the ends between his forefinger and thumb. This was both an example and a command.
The kiaya turned out his pockets and slipped off his pantaloon ;
Achmet Benali took off pantaloon and vest; Achmet Ali pantaloon, vest, and brodequins; and Bibi undressed. But no one took off his turban. The kiaya the pacha kindly requested to uncover ; Benali was told to follow his example; Ali was reminded that the pacha waited; and Bibi got a look. However, no brooch was to be found, and Muftifiz, bewildered and at a loss what to say, stammered out an apology, which the pacha graciously accepted, and placing a heavy purse upon the counter, went away.
Muftifiz gave a good hunt for the missing brooch, and dismissed the matter from his mind, which he was the more disposed to do as the pacha had contributed largely to the reparation of his loss by the wellfilled purse he had left. Indeed, tradition says that the pacha's partiality was signally exemplified, and Muftifiz's loss more than compensated. Muftifiz was grateful, but he regretted that so kind a ruler should be a victim to the trust he reposed in others, for he had no doubt in his mind that some one of his officers could have accounted for the missing jewel ; and his suspicions were strengthened when vague rumours reached his ears that other dealers had missed different articles, and at all times on the occasion of their marts being honoured by the visits of the pacha and the court, but which losses were passed over in silence, as it could not be supposed for an instant that such august company could know anything about the matter. At length these whispers taking the form of accusations, the worthy Muftifiz thought it would but be doing his duty to inform the pacha on the subject, and this he promised himself he would do the very next time he honoured him with a visit. He had not long to wait. The pacha came, and as chance would have it, unattended, except by an eunuch, who held his mule, and half a dozen mamalukes to guard his august person.
“Good day, friend,” said the pacha. Muftifiz prostrated himself.
“ Has our faithful servant a gold padlock and key which will resist the skilfulest contrivances of the ablest lock picker ?”
“How happy is his faithful servant to have it in his power to serve his highness," said Muftifiz. “Here are locks and keys from the reputed depositories of Chubb, and Bramah, and Cupid's forges, which will baffle the keenest.”
“Ah! Muftifiz,” sighed his highness, whilst he selected several, which he alternately tried, so as to find one easy to his hand.
“ What ails your highness ?”
6 Oh! that we should find it difficult to trust even those we love," answered the pacha. “There, Muftifiz, I think this one will do; it is small, yet to all appearance beautifully complicated.”
It was the habit of the pacha to indulge in long and familiar chats with his favourite, and on this occasion the latter soon found an opportunity to allude to the above-mentioned rumours. The pacha was much shocked; he could scarcely credit that his faithful liegemen had been the victims of a system he ignored. In his first impulse he would have returned to the palace immediately, assembled his ministers, and, on pain of instant bow-stringing, summoned the culprit to declare himself; but then he reflected that he should be acting unjustly towards the innocent, in case