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should acquiesce in, and in a manner become subservient to, their prostitution. In support of this strange doctrine, they assert, that the husbands being the Cicisbeos of o. ther women, cannot enjoy this privilege on any other terms; and are therefore contented to sacrifice their wives for the sake of their mistresses. That some individuals may be profligate enough to act in this manner, I make no doubt. Similar arrangements we hear instances of in every country; but that such a system is general, or any thing near it, in Italy, seems to me perfectly incredible, and is contrary to the best information I have received since I have been here. It is also urged, that most of the married men of quality in Italy act in the character of Cicisbeo to some woman or other; and those who are not Platonic lovers, ought to suspect that the same liberties are taken with their wives which they take with the spouses of their neighbours ; and therefore their suffering a man to visit their wives in the character of a cavalier servente, is in effect conniving at their own cuckoldom. But this does not follow as an absolute consequence ; for men have a wonderful faculty of deceiving themselves on such occasions. So great is the infatuation of their vanity, that the same degree of complaisance, which they consider as the effect of a very natural and excusable weakness, when indulged by any woman for themselves, they would look on as a horrible enormity if admitted by their wives for another man; so that whatever degree of licentiousness may exist in consequence of this system, I am convinced the majority of husbands make exceptions in their own favour, and that their ladies find means to satisfy each indi. vidual that he is not involved in a calamity, which, after all, is more general in other countries, as well as Italy, than it ought.

Even when there is the greatest harmony and love between the husband and wife, and although each would prefer the other's company to any other, still, such is the tyranny of fashion, they must separate every evening; he to play the cavaliero servente to another woman, and she

to be led about by another man. Notwithstanding this inconveniency, the couples who are in this predicament are certainly happier than those whose affections are not centered at home. Some very loving couples lament the cruelty of this separation ; yet the world in general seem to be of opinion, that a man and his wife who dine together every day, and lie together every night, may, with a proper exertion of philosophy, be able to support being asunder a few hours in the evening.

The Cicisbeo, in many instances, is a poor relation or humble friend, who, not being in circumstances to support an equipage, is happy to be admitted into all the societies, and to be carried about to public diversions, as an appendage to the lady. I have known numbers of those gentlemen, whose appearance and bodily infirmities car. ried the clearest refutation, with respect to themselves personally, of the scandalous stories of an improper connection between cavaliero serventes and their mistresses. I never in my life saw men more happily formed, both in body and mind, for saving the reputation of the females with whom they were on a footing of intimacy. The humble and timid air which many of them betray in the presence of the ladies, and the perseverance with which they continue their services, not withstanding the contemptuous style in which they are often treated, is equally unlike the haughtiness natural to favoured lovers, and the indifference of men satiated with enjoyment.

There are, it must be confessed, Cicisbeos of a very different stamp, whose figure and manners might be supposed more agreeable to the ladies they serve, than to their lords. I once expressed my surprise, that a particular person permitted one of this description to attend his wife. I was told, by way of solution of my difficulty, that the husband was poor, and the Cicisbeo rich. It is not in Italy only where infamous compromises of this nature take place.

I have also known instances, since I have been in this country, where the characters of the ladies were so well established, as 'not to be shaken either in the opinion of their acquaintances or husbands, although their cavaliero serventes were in every respect agreeable and accomplish, ed.

But whether the connection between them is supposed innocent or criminal, most Englishmen will be astonished how men can pass so much of their time with women, This, however, will appear less surprising, when they recollect that the Italian nobility dare not intermeddle in politics ; can find no employment in the army or navy ; and that there are no such amusements in the country as hunting or drinking. In such a situation, if a man of fortune has no turn for gaming, what can he do ? Even an Englishman, in those desperate circumstances, might be driven to the company and conversation of women, to lighten the burden of time. The Italians have persevered so long in this expedient, that, however extraordinary it may seem to those who have never tried it, there can be no doubt that they find it to succeed. They tell you, that nothing so effectually sooths the cares, and beguiles ibe tediousness of life, as the company of an agreeable woman ; that though the intimacy should never exceed the limits of friendship, there is something more flattering and agreeable in it than in male friendships; that they find the female heart more sincere, less interested, and warmer in its attachments ; that women in general have more delicacy, and Well, well, all this may be true, you will say ; but, may not a man enjoy all these advantages, to as great perfection, by an intimacy and friendship with his own wife, as with his neighbour's ? · Non, monsieur, point du tout,' answered a Frenchman, to whom this question was once addressed. • Et pourquoi • donc ? Parceque cela n'est pas permis.' This you

will not think a very satisfactory answer to so natural and so pertinent a question-It is not the fashion! This, how. ever, was the only answer I received all over Italy.

This system is unknown to the middle and lower ranks; they pass their time in the exercise of their professions,

and in the society of their wives and children, as in other countries; and in that sphere of life, jealousy, which formed so strong a feature of the Italian character, is still to be found as strong as ever. He who attempts to visit the wife or mistress of any of the tradespeople without their permission, is in no small danger of a Coltellata. I have often heard it asserted, that Italian women have remarkable powers of attaching their lovers. Those powers, whatever they are, do not seem to depend entirely on personal charms, as many of them retain their ancient influence over their lovers after their beauty is much in the wane, and they themselves are considerably advanced in the vale of years. I know an Italian nobleman, of great fortune, who has been lately married to a very beautiful young woman, and yet he continues his assiduity to his former mistress, now an old woman, as punctually as ever. I know an Englishman who is said to be in the same situațion, with this difference, that his lady is still more beautiful. In both these instances, it is natural to believe that the beautiful young wives will always take care to keep their husbands in such a chaste and virtuous way of thinking, that, whatever time they may spend with their ancient mistresses, nothing criminal will ever pass between them.

Whatever satisfaction the Italians find in this kind of constancy, and in their friendly attachments to one wo man, my friend the marquis de F-told me, when I last saw him at Paris, that he had tried it while he remained at Rome, and found it quite intolerable. A certain obliging ecclesiastic had taken the trouble, at the earnest request of a lady of that city, to arrange matters between her and the marquis, who was put into immediate possession of all the rights that were ever supposed to belong to a Cicisbeo. The woman nauseated her husband, which had advanced matters mightily ; and her passion for the marquis was in proportion to her abhorrence of the other. In this state things had remained but a very short time, when the marquis called one afternoon to drive the abbč out a little into the country, but he happened to have just dined. The meals of this ecclesiastic were generally rather oppressive for two or three hours after they were finished; he therefore declined the invitation, saying, by way of apology,- Je suis dans les horreurs de la digestion.' He then inquired how the marquis's amour went on with the lady. “Ah, pour l'amour, cela est à peu près passé,' replied the marquis, et nous sommes actuellement dans les horreurs de l'amitié."

LETTER LXXVII.

Florence.

The Florentines imputed the decay of the republic to the circumstance of their sovereign residing in another country; and they imagined, that wealth would accumulate all over Tuscany, and flow into Florence, from various quarters, as soon as they should have a residing prince, and a court established. It appears, that their hopes were too sanguine, or at least premature. Commerce is still in a languid condition, in spite of all the pains taken by the great duke to revive it.

The Jews are not held in that degree of odium, or subjected to the same humiliating distinctions here, as in most other cities of Europe. I am told, some of the richest merchants are of that religion. Another class of mankind, who are also reprobated in some countries, are in this looked on in the same light with other citizens. I mean the actors and singers at the different theatres. Why Christians, in any country, should have the same prejudice against them as against Jews, many are at a loss to know; it cannot, certainly, be on the same account. Actors and actresses have never been accused of an obstinate, or superstitious adherence to the principles or ceremonies of any false religion whatever.

To attempt at a description of the churches, palaces, and other public buildings, would lead, in my opinion, to a very unentertaining detail. Few cities, of its size, in

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