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Cathedral of Como.
among the illustrious dead to whom it has given birth is Pliny the younger.
My earliest visit in the morning was to the Cathedral, constructed of marble, and of a mixed style of architecture-Gothic and Roman; yet although displaying the inconsistency of Corinthian columns surmounted by Gothic pointed arches, it is, in my eyes, an elegant, and imposing, structure, is kept in the highest preservation, and has an interior spacious, and appropriately solemn. At the first chapel on the right at entering, whose particular consecration is apparent from the inscription on the altar, "Orate pro infirmis," there is hung up, in addition to the usual er voto offerings of plated arms, legs, and hearts, quite a Monmouth-street exhibition of gowns, petticoats, boddices, &c. &c. with a string of penny pictures representing supposed miraculous interferences of the Virgin, and Saints, in sickness, or accidents. One man is seen tumbling out of window, yet saved by saintly interposition; drowning, shooting, house-tumbling, horse-runningaway, every kind of accident, and mishap, is here, as commonly throughout Catholic countries, miserably daubed, and stuck up at the altar of God. The poorer people do what they can to evince their faith, and for want of any thing better they, in gratitude, dedicate their old stays, petticoats, wigs, *Pray for the sick.
or shoes, to be thus exhibited for ever.
But it is to be remembered that our own records furnish us with acts of this nature; and that noble dames of England, in former days, have left a portion of their splendid wardrobes to deck the shrine of some favourite Saint or Saintess.
On the exterior of the cathedral is a statue of Pliny with two inscriptions to his honour. Como was his occasional residence; while living, he materially benefited it; his writings speak of its beauties, its villas, temples, and porticos; and, when dead, his will enriched it with a legacy.
The natives of this lake have an irresistible inclination for roaming. Most of the Italian pedlars seen all over Europe come from Como to hawk, wherever they go, their watches, barometers, and instruments, though after many years absence, they always return to their native vales here to spend the little money they have so hardly earned. During their stay abroad they leave their wives to the care of the priest, who sometimes has fifty on his hands at a time!
Embarking between eight and nine o'clock, half an hour's rowing brought us to the Villa d'Este, the residence during eighteen months of Caroline, Queen of England, then Princess of Wales. The palace, since her departure for England has been stripped of all its best moveable furniture, and lighter ornaments, but the remaining decorations,
Queen of England's Villa.
executed by Milanese artists, in variety of style, costliness, and elegance, surpassed my expectations, and are every way worthy of the rank of her who employed them. The palace is thus comparatively deserted, and neglected, from the legal disputes respecting her bequeathed property; and from the yet undecided point as to whom this villa may ultimately belong. I did not fail to notice those two memorable apartments, the subject of so much legal discussion, and examination of witnesses, in the House of Lords-the bath where Bergami was said to have assisted; and the hall with the statues of Adam and Eve, and the fig-leaves, &c. &c. all which remain still as there described; and were the occasion of certain scenes.
The theatre which Her Majesty built is very elegant. I wished to see the Queen's bed-room, but all our requests were unavailing; it had been expressly forbidden to show it to any one.
On the ceiling of two of the rooms, I believe, one was the Salle à manger, is repeated a beautiful painting of Time unveiling Truth: the allusion is evident; the figure of Truth is one of undisguised, voluptuous, beauty, while throughout the palace, Her Majesty seems to have had a prepossession for the display of the forms of pure nature, thinking them probably when "unadorned, adorned the most ;" and it must be observed that the frescoes in one of the apartments, depicting the amours of
Cupid and Psyche, painted to the life, are not exactly the subjects which a modest woman would select for her perpetual inspection. However, I wish not to throw one further shadow of reflection upon a slighted woman, and a hapless Queen. Her errors I think, cannot be doubted; on the Continent, certainly, no one does doubt; but her humiliations have indeed been ample expiation :-Peace to her remains! The gardens attached to the house show little taste; immediately adjoining them is a fantastic representation of the city of Saragossa, executed by order of the proprietor of the villa, who was present during the siege.
The next object was the villa Pliniana, conjectured, but not positively proved, to be the former residence of Pliny; and a spot still exhibiting the Intermitting Fountain which he so accurately describes.
In the house, now the residence of some Italian Marchese, are hung up various extracts from that author, more particularly those passages relating to the fountain, which, passing through the hall, on the right, first bursts upon the view. At this point its appearance is a tranquil flow under a very low natural arch. The source is still unknown, but, it appears, it continues to exhibit the same extraordinary ebb and flow thrice a day, that it did at the time of Pliny, nearly 1800 years since, yet varying, and more, or less, violent, according to weather.
Close by, a precipitous cascade tumbling 300 feet, amid rocks, and groves of cypress, beech, and fir, presented as romantic a water-fall as any I have yet seen.
Returning through a long and dark gallery of the villa, on a sudden our conductress pushed open a window.
The effect was terrific, and so unexpected that, involuntarily, we all started back with affright. The hitherto peaceful fountain here tumbles with headlong rage, and foaming spray, forcing for itself a passage through the lower story of the building. It is grand thus in the dark, and in your house, to see at your feet the whitening, foaming, waves impetuously and incessantly hurling each other down to the rocks below, throwing up crystal sparks and silvery spray, to illuminate the gloomy cavern, and in their fight making so deafening a roar, and so similar to the thundering of cannon, that perhaps the loudest ordnance, if exploded in the torrent, would not be heard. Another view in another point is equally grand, but soon after, the fountain is seen to stream away quietly and peaceably into the lake.
The Abbate, Carlo Amoretti, has endeavoured to explain the phenomena of the fountain by attributing them to the influence of the west wind.
Our intermitting fountain near Settle in York