- Mr. Ticknor leaves Paris. -- visit to La Grange. -- Geneva. -- M. De La Rive. -- Professor Pictet. -- Sir Francis d'ivernois. -- Bonstetten. -- Fete by a Russian Countess. -- Madame Neckar de Saussure. -- leaves Geneva for Rom. -- Convent of St. Bernard. -- Milan. -- Venice. -- visit to Lord Byron. -- Bologna. -- Loretto. -- arrival in Rome.
On the 16th of September Mr. Ticknor joined Dr. Edward Reynolds, Mr. Edward Brooks of Boston, and Dr. Wagner of South Carolina, in an excursion to Mont Blanc, which occupied three days, and excited and delighted him intensely. His description of these scenes, so new to him, is full, animated, and glowing.
In the evening of my return (19th), I passed a couple of hours at a  party at Mad. Necker's,2 a cousin of Mad. de Stael, who is considered in Geneva but little her inferior in original power of mind, and of whom Mad. de Stael once said, ‘Ma cousine Necker a tous les talens qu'on me suppose, et toutes les vertus que je n'ai pas.’ She is about fifty, and resembles Mad. de Stael a little, and is interesting in conversation from a certain dignity and force in her remarks.
In this manner Mr. Ticknor occupied himself in each city as he advanced, giving many curious facts. Few travellers in these days care for such details and this kind of knowledge, and those who do find enough of them in their guide-books. These proofs of faithful search for knowledge are, therefore, not given.
October 15.—Early this morning, and still with the finest weather, we continued our journey . . . . At length we arrived at Fusina, and saw the Queen of the Adriatic, with her attendant isles, rising like an exhalation from the unruffled bosom of the deep. It was a beautiful spectacle, perfectly singular in its kind, and indescribable, and was so much the more touching to my feelings, as I now first saw the ocean after an exile from it of above two years. . . . . The approach to Venice is striking and beautiful. The city is built, as it were, on the surface of the waves, and seems, at the first glance, just sinking into the deep waters. But on entering it, feelings very different take possession of you. You have left behind you the traces of vegetation; the animal creation seems to have forsaken you; you are in the midst of a great city, without its accustomed bustle and animation . . . . . Everything is strange, and everything seems uncertain; the very passage-ways are dark and narrow, and the massy architecture of the houses, ending in the water, seems to have no foundation . . . . October 16.—Over its [St. Mark's] pronaon stand the four famous bronze horses, which must always be numbered among the finest remains of antiquity. Their early history is uncertain, and has lately  been disputed with much warmth, and with a waste of obscure learning, by Count Cicognara, President of the Academy of Venice, Schlegel, Mustoxidis, a native of Corcyra and a member of the French Institute, and Dandolo, a young Venetian patrician of talent and acuteness. Six pamphlets have been published, and the war is not at an end. The question is, whether these four horses were a part of the Roman plunder of Greece, and, after having been placed by Nero on his arch at Rome, were transported by Constantine to ornament his new city, or whether they were originally of Chios, and, without having ever seen Athens or Rome, were brought in the fifth century, under Theodosius the younger, to Constantinople. It is a question that can never be decided, but it is a curious and interesting fact, that the young Dandolo, who has shown both learning and modesty in this controversy, is the direct lineal descendant of the blind old Doge of the same name, who in 1204 was the first to mount the breach at Constantinople, and, after having refused the Empire of the East, and placed Baldwin on the throne, brought these very horses as the trophy of his country's triumph. . . . . It is not a little singular that the father of this young man is the very man who, with fallen fortunes and proud blood, is appointed commander of the arsenal, and is obliged every day to visit the ruins of the glory his fathers founded. October 17.—At the Academy of Arts we enjoyed an unexpected pleasure. It is in the former Convent della Carita, famous from the circumstance that Alexander III., escaping from the fury of the Emperor Frederick, lived here a long time incognito. A part of it is by Palladio, and one of the finest of his works . . . . . In this convent, now made into halls for the purpose, are collecting and collected from Paris, . . . . and from churches where they have slept in forgetfulness, the great works of the Venetian school. Two commanded my admiration, and dimmed the splendor of the rest,—one is Tintoretto's masterpiece, the miraculous liberation, by St. Mark, of a slave condemned to death; . . . . all is as confused as his wild genius could have devised, and yet it all centres on the one object, and the whole piece is as living as if the fact were passing before you. The other picture is a magnificent Assumption, by Titian, now, as it were, first produced to the world . . . . . All that is known of it is that it was extremely admired while in his possession, that it was put up in its place [the church of Sta. Maria Gloriosa] in a cross light, . . . . and that the three centuries of tapers that piety has burned under it, and of incense it has offered up to it, had so completely incrusted it with a coat of black varnish, that in the best and strongest light not a feature of the  original work could be properly distinguished. . . . . On carefully cleaning it, the picture was found perfect, after three months labor, for the smoke had preserved it; and on the 10th of August last (1817) it was first opened to the public. It is the finest picture, I suppose, that I have yet seen in Europe, excepting the Madonna of Raphael at Dresden. . . . . This immense picture with its various subjects and groups becomes one work, and seems united in all its parts, as if the artist had breathed it upon the canvas by a simple volition of his genius. After standing before it above an hour, I knew not which most to admire,—the poetical sublimity of the invention, or the boldness of the execution, and that magic and transparency of coloring in which Titian has no rival October 19.—As in all the Italian cities, so in Venice, there is little society, and the persons I have known who have lived there, such as Botta, De Breme, the Baron de Bonstetten, etc., have all told me it was to be seen best at Count Cicognara's. To him, therefore, they gave me letters, and I have found their predictions justified, and his acquaintance sufficient for my purposes, and for all the time I could give to society. He is a nobleman of fortune, President of the Academy of Fine Arts, and author of several considerable works, particularly a History of Modern Sculpture,—beginning at the third century, where Winckelmann leaves it,—in three folio volumes, of which the last is now in the press. He is about fifty years old, has a pleasant family, a wife accomplished and still beautiful, and assembles at his house the elegant, cultivated society there is in the city. Yesterday I dined with him, and every evening since I have been here 1 have passed in his coterie; for I find that when you once go to a party of this sort in Italy, it is expected you should continue your visits, if you like, as regularly as if you went to the opera,—which so many never miss. This, however, is no disagreeable circumstance to a stranger, and at his house—with Dandolo and several other of the patricians, and a few men of letters—I have passed my evenings as pleasantly as I did at Milan, with De Breme and Count Confalonieri. October 20.—This morning, like Portia's messenger, we passedAfter a long and careful sketch of the history of the Campagna from the earliest times, and of the speculations as to the causes of its unhealthiness, Mr. Ticknor says:—With imagined speedembarked on the lagoon, and looked back for the last time on Venice, which seems from the opposite shore to dance like a fairy creation on the undulations of the ocean.  . . . . At the little village of Mira, on the Brenta, and about fourteen miles from Venice, we came to the villa now occupied by Lord Byron, and, still feeling curious to see him, I went in. It was eleven o'clock, but he was not yet up, and the servant showed me into a room where I found a lively, intelligent gentleman, whom I recognized to be Hobhouse; who, after a youth of dissipation, has now become a severe student. His conversation is animated, acute, and sometimes earnest, but oftener witty . . . . In a short time Lord Byron came in, looking exactly as he did in London two years and a half ago. In conversation he was more lively and various, and came nearer to what a stranger might expect from him, but still he did not attain it; for I have never heard him make one extraordinary or original observation, though I have heard him make many that were singular and extravagant. He told me incidentally that M. G. Lewis once translated Goethe's Faust to him extemporaneously, and this accounts for the resemblance between that poem and Manfred, which I could not before account for, as I was aware that he did not know German. His residence in Italy, he said, had given him great pleasure; and spoke of the comparatively small value of his travels in Greece, which, he said, contained not the sixth part of its attractions. Mr. Hobhouse had already told me of a plan formed by himself and Lord Byron to go to the United States, about a year hence, if he (Hobhouse) should not get into Parliament; of which I imagine there may be some chance; but Lord Byron's views were evidently very different from his, and I know not how their plans could be reconciled. Hobhouse, who is a true politician, talked only of seeing a people whose character and institutions are still in the freshness of youth; while Lord Byron, who has nothing of this but the prejudices and passions of a partisan, was evidently thinking only of seeing our Indians and our forests; of standing in the spray of Niagara; even of climbing the Andes, and ascending the Oronoco. They are now in all respects so different that I hardly think they will ever undertake the expedition. When I happened to tell Lord Byron that Goethe had many personal enemies in Germany, he expressed a kind of interest to know more about it that looked extremely like Shylock's satisfaction that ‘other men have ill luck too’; and when I added the story of the translation of the whole of a very unfair Edinburgh review into German, directly under Goethe's nose at Jena, Byron discovered at first a singular eagerness to hear it, and then, suddenly checking himself, said, as if half in earnest, though still laughing, ‘And yet I don't  know what sympathy I can have with Goethe, unless it be that of an injured author.’ This was the truth, but it was evidently a little more than sympathy he felt. In the whole I stayed an hour and a half with them, and Lord Byron asked me to spend some days,—an invitation I, of course, felt no inclination to accept, in his present circumstances; and when I came away he left me at his gate, saying he should see me in America in a couple of years. Bologna, October 24.—Of the society of Bologna I can have, of course, no right to speak; but the two evenings I have been here I have spent happily, and among as cultivated and elegant persons as any I have met in Italy. My introductions were to but two houses: to the Abbe Mezzofanti, who is absent,. . . . and to Mad. Martinetti. To her I owe two very happy evenings, which I shall always remember with grateful pleasure. Count Cicognara gave me a letter to her, and she immediately told me that her house, which is one of the finest palaces in Bologna, would be open to me every evening. She is still young, not above thirty, I should think, very beautiful, with uncommonly sweet and engaging manners and talents, which make her at once the centre of literary and elegant society in Bologna, and the friend and correspondent of Monti, Canova, Brougham, and many others of the first men of the times we live in. Last evening there were few persons at her coterie. Only two or three men of letters, a young Greek from Corcyra, a Count Marchetti and his pretty wife, Lord John Russell, and a few others. The conversation was chiefly literary, and so adroitly managed by Mad. Martinetti as to make it general, but as two of the persons present were strangers it began to fail at last, and she resorted to the very games we play in America to keep it up, and with her wit and talent kept us amused till after midnight. This evening it was a more splendid meeting, though still quite informal. She gave a concert, at which were present all the guests of the last evening, many of the Bolognese nobility, Prince Hercolani and his family, the Cardinal Legate, who is Governor of the Province, etc, etc. M. Martinetti, who was in the country yesterday, was likewise there, and I found him a well-informed, pleasant man; but still he was not the charm that made his house the pleasantest in the city. The Cardinal is about sixty, as much a man of the world as I have seen. He thought it necessary to talk to me of America, and showed rather a surprising ignorance on the subject; though when I put him upon singers and operas, he was as much at home as a horse  in his mill. All these personages went away before midnight, and then those of us who came to see Mad. Martinetti for her own sake, and not for the sake of her music, enjoyed a conversation which lasted till one o'clock, and made me regret more than ever that it is the last which I shall have with her and her polished and cultivated friends. Ancona, October 28.—We had caught several glimpses of the glories of the Adriatic yesterday; and to-day, after passing through Pesaro, descended absolutely upon its beach, which we hardly left a moment for above thirty miles until we arrived at Ancona. The heavens were not dimmed by a single cloud; the long surge of the ocean came rolling up, and broke in foam at our feet, as it does on the beach at Nahant; the Apennines rose majestically on our right, and the little interval between was covered with the gayest and most luxuriant vegetation. It was a union of the grandeur of mountain scenery and the simple sublimity of the ocean with the calm and gentle beauty of an agricultural landscape such as I had never seen before, and it had a charm and magic in it all its own which I can never forget. . . . . I have not time to speak of the churches, the Exchange, the superb view of the town. . . . . They are all worth seeing; but the population of the city—its beautiful women, its busy, spirited citizens, the Jews, the grave Turks, and Persians, and lively Greeks that throng its narrow, inconvenient streets—are more interesting, and amused me until it was so dark I was obliged to go to my lodging. Loretto, October 29.—We went, of course, to see the Spezieria, or apothecary's shop of the Holy House, which was originally founded to afford medicines unpaid to the poor pilgrims who resorted to the shrine, and still offers them to the few who claim its benevolence. Among the founders of this institution were some of the Dukes of Urbino; and three hundred pots, vases, etc., to contain the medicines, all beautifully painted, and passing in the legends of Loretto for the works of Raphael, were among their presents, and are the objects that chiefly bring visitors to the apothecary's shop. The truth of the case is as follows. Even in the time of the Romans, an ordinary kind of ware resembling porcelain was made in the neighborhood of Urbino, and about A. D. 1300 it is known that it was still made there, of a coarse quality indeed, but rare and curious, as genuine porcelain was not yet known in Europe. In 1450 to 1500, it grew finer, and the specimens that remain of that period are called mezzo majolica. After 1500 it improved still farther, and is called fina,  and from 1530 to 1560 it was at its greatest perfection, but after that it fell from, I presume, the competition with Chinese porcelain. During its best days good artists were employed to paint it, whose ciphers are still recognized; but the fable that Raphael ever wrought on it arose from two singular circumstances: first, that Guido Baldo II. （Sforza) in 1538 bought a large number of Raphael's sketches, some of which he had used, though with alterations, on the Stanze, Loggia, etc.; and these sketches being copied upon the majolica by other artists, and yet not coinciding with Raphael's works entirely, were naturally supposed to be his by superficial inquirers; and secondly, that among the painters on this ware, there was a certain Raphael Colle, whose name was easily confounded with that of the most famous of painters. The collection at Loretto is the best extant of all this kind of ware, and is beautiful and curious. The subjects are taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Roman History, the Old and New Testaments; the colors are fresh and fair, and the execution so fine that Christina of Sweden offered to replace them with silver jars of equal weight,— and they are thick and heavy,—but was refused.
Unto the tranect, to the common ferry
Which trades to Venice;
The present situation is that of a boundless waste, over which the eye wanders without finding any other horizon than that formed by the gentle undulations which everywhere break it, without relieving its solemn monotony. Nothing can be more heart-rending than the contrast which the immediate and the present here form with the recollections of the past, gilded as they are by the feelings and the fancy. Here lived the brave and hardy tribes of the Albans, the Fidenates, and the Coriolani; here were the thirty-four famous cities, of which every trace was lost even in the time of Pliny; here was the crowd of population that found no place in Rome in the time of the Republic; here was the splendor of the Empire, when Honorius, from the magnificence of the buildings and monuments, seemed to be at the entrance of Rome when he was still fifty miles from its gates; and, finally, here resided the strength and rose the castles of the proud barbarism of the Middle Ages, when the contest remained so long doubtful between the ecclesiastical usurpation within the city and the rude chieftains without. Hoec tune nomina erant, nunc sunt sine nomine campi. I cannot express the secret sinking of the heart, I would not acknowledge  and could not control, which I felt in passing so many hours over this dreary waste,—these lugentes campi, so different from all the deserts nature has elsewhere left or created. The heavens are of such an undisturbed and transparent blue, the sun shines with so pure and white a light, the wind blows with such soft and exhilarating freshness, and the vegetation is so rich, so wantonly luxuriant, that it seems as if nature were wooing man to cultivation . . . . But when you recollect that this serene sky and brilliant sun . . . . serve only to develop the noxious qualities of the soil, and that this air which breathes so gently is as fatal as it is balmy, and when you look more narrowly at the luxuriant vegetation and find it composed only of gross and lazy weeds, such as may be fitly nourished by vapors like these,—when your eye wanders over this strange solitude, and meets only an occasional ruin,. . . . or at most, a few miserable shepherds, hardly more civilized than Tartars, decrepit in youth, pale, haggard, livid,. . . . it is then you feel all the horror of the situation. November 1.—In the midst of this mysterious desolation, only ten miles from Rome, we were stopped for the night for want of horses, and enjoyed the tantalizing pleasure of seeing the evening sun reflected in long lines of fading light from the dome of St. Peter's and the tomb of Hadrian, which we could just distinguish in the distant horizon. . . . . November 2.—This morning we were already on the road when the same sun appeared again, in the cloudless splendor of an Italian sky, from behind the hills of Tivoli . . . . Turning suddenly round a projecting height, . . . . Rome, with its seven hills, and all its towers and turrets and pinnacles, with the Castle of St. Angelo and the cupola of St. Peter's,—Rome, in all the splendor of the Eternal City, bursts at once upon us.