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I proceeded to the Piazza del Popolo, and took my place in the file of carriages. Two hours after I had nearly reached the Piazza di Venezia at the other end of the ug!y, ill-built street of the Corso, a distance of three quarters of a mile. The pleasures of this drive were derived from the crowds of people who, disguised in various manners, paraded up and down the street; for the most part in perfect silence, and none of them in the least endeavouring to support the character proper to their garb. Boys ran through the crowd and offered for sale large papers of bonbons-sugar-plums--made of sweetened lime : all actors in the scene bought of these bonbons, and threw them, with greater or less force, at their passing friends and acquaintance. As these sugar-plums are not small, and as furious battles in which they replace other shot-are often carried on, particularly by the English, eyes are sometimes knocked out, and less material damage is often given and received. In the mean time children run between the wheels of the carriages, and the feet of the horses, and collect into other papers the bonbons that whiten and conceal the pavement. But it is a positive fact, that, without the English-who are, by most foreigners, thought to be so grave, so serious, and so thoughtful--this bonbon pelting would, long since, have been discontinued : the Romans patronize it but little, while the English carry it on, with all the fury and boisterousness of school-boys to the very great annoyance of most of the Italians. .
Meanwhile I had, as I have said, almost attained the Pi. azza di Venezia : the cannon of S. Angelo resounded all understood the signal; and when, a few moments afterwards, a second gun was fired, the crowds settled themselves on chairs or benches raised along the sides of the Corso ; and the carriages turned down the nearest by-lanes, and reached, by different paths, the houses, from the windows of which they-that is, those they contained-intended to view the remaining sport. Amongst the carriages, I had observed the state coach of the senator, Principe A., and that of Cardinal V., the only cardinal present, one of the two cardinaldeacons, who, despised and laughed at by the Romans, are seen in every society by the English, and are, by them, readily, but unjustly, received as samples of all the sacred
After a large body of troops, preceded by a good band, had passed down the Corso, had cleared away the remaining masks, and had placed sentinels on each side of it, twelve or fourteen small, ugly horses, galloped past the window at which I was placed: as they proceeded along the crowd shouted, and, together with the spurs, petards, and other ingenious and barbarous contrivances,--described, I believe, by Bry
done, in his relation of the Sicilian horse-race-urged them on to the goal, and deterred them from attempting to bolt down the side streets. Immediately after they had passed, the ranks of people closed over the paved race-ground; but a few seconds after, they again opened, on perceiving the gradual approach of another race-horse, which was proceeding more leisurely and quietly down the Corso.
Amongst all these details I had forgotten to mention that none of the horses carried riders; a particular, which, from custom, and from having never witnessed any races a l' Anglaise, I beheld as a matter of course.
A few days after, having previously taken my share of the amusements of the Corso, I hired a seat in the Piazza del Popolo, from which I might see the horses start. Board partitions were placed to keep apart the more furious; and a cord, behind which they were to stand, was drawn, at breast height, across the street. Thirteen were brought forth ready garnished, with spurs, &c., and an indescribable scene of confusion ensued. The plunging and kicking of the horses, and the shouts of the grooms who swung at their necks, continued till, at the sound of trumpet, the cord fell, and they all set off more regularly than could have been anticipated. Some minutes after, a rocket arose from the Piazza di Venezia, and a cannon from S. Angelo answered it; thus proclaiming when, and by which of the animals, the race bad been won.
Before the races, but after the clearing away of the crowd, the French ambassador paraded the Corso in his state carriages; a privilege, the exercise of which he ought to have enjoyed on Jeudi Gras, but which, on account of the rain, had been deferred till the Saturday following ---for on Friday no masquerading was allowed; as, at Rome, that day of the week is kept in the same manner as Sundays are said to be observed in England. No masks are seen, no theatres or balls are held on Fridays.
On every other day the sort of amusement I have described was regularly repeated ; but all was finished and quiet at six o'clock. On Mardi Grus, however,--the last day of the carnival, the sport was protracted until eight in the evening. It then consisted in the illumination of the windows on the Corso, and in the assembling of the people in that street: each person bore in his hand a lighted taper, and each endeavoured to extinguish those of his play-fellows. This fun, occasioned, however, one or two very ridiculous and innocent, at least in their consequences, duels between foreigners, who did not understand the joke.
Such are the popular amusements of the carnival; for the gens comme il faut an epithet now re-established in French
phraseology, and which, taken in its literal meaning as the commencement of a designation, the remainder of which is suppressed as unnecessary, might be heard with indifference by the most democratic ears, for the gens comme il faut pour ces choses la there were given a few masked balls, in which scarcely any characters were supported, -most of the ladies going in fancy dresses, and men in dominos, which they immediately laid aside. Other evening parties were numerous and well attended. But all such fétes are now at an end; the “ magician has put on our foreheads the marvellous dust, and has pronounced over us the magical words,” which have put to flight the illusions of carnival, and made us consent
66 To live for forty days on ill-drest fishes,
Because we have no sauces to our stews." The last line does not, however, apply; as English fishsauces are now to be found in every Italian capital. And as meat is allowed by all cures, to whom a certificate of ill health, signed by a physician, is presented, the facility of obtaining such permissions may be imagined ; as, also the facility with which they are abused.
All the English travellers are now preparing to depart for Naples, to pass there the time of Lent; and the Romans are unable to conceal the joy they feel at their departure. This sentiment is curious; but I have perceived the same to be prevalent in every part of Italy. Adieu.
Transalpine Memoirs, Vol. I, Page 109-116. Io France, the ceremony of drawing Twelfth-cake is somewhat different to the customary mode in England. The following animated sketch, translated by Mr. Jerdan from the French of the celebrated M. Jouy, furnishes a pleasing picture of a twelfth-day among our Gallic neighbours.
6 I have often wished that the prejudices of a people should not be confounded with their customs: the former cannot be avoided with too much perseverance; but it is seldom that any thing is gained by the destruction of the latter. Every prejudice is born of a vice; every national habit takes its rise from a virtue. The demonstration of this truth would make this discourse a chapter of morality,
Trop de morale entraine trop d'ennui.
“ Too much morality brings with it too much ennui; I leave, therefore, the principle to itself, and pass on to those feasts in the course of the year, which I count among the number of old customs, whose venerable authority I see, with regret, grows weaker every day.
“ This taste was implanted in me from my earliest youth, by one of my maternal uncles, the prior of Armentières, who spent with my father all the time which he did not pass at his priory, that is to say, about eleven months and a half in each year. He had an apartment on the second floor, of which his library occupied the greater part. On a sort of table, à la Tronchin, on which he wrote, I still see, in a little cabinet of ebony, a calendar for his own use, which he made up himself at the beginning of every year, and inscribed according to the order of their dates, with the feasts and birth-days of all his relations, friends, and even acquaintances.
“On the arrival of such a day we were sure to receive a bouquet of flowers, for the most part accompanied with a piece of poetry, or a couplet, in the form of a compliment. That, which he did for others, he exacted for himself in so absolute a manner, that he disinherited one of his relations for having neglected to write him a letter on the opening of a new year. My uncle, although he exag- . gerated the importance of these and similar duties, had ideas on this point not far removed from sound morality. I remember in a little comedy, which he composed on this subject, one of the persons of the drama abused this submission to childish customs.
Tous ces grand mots ne m'en imposent guère ;
De la société l'on sape enfin les bases.
quarrels made up, and lawsuits between relations terminated by these unions of families, which custom formerly prescribed, and which now hardly seem to be tolerated.
“ Twelfth day, Shrove Tuesday, St. Martin's day, were all then domestic feasts, at which young people found those pleasures and enjoyments for which they are now obliged to look elsewhere. My uncle, the prior, was acquainted with all the minute ceremonies of these feasts, and applied his whole attention to their observance. On such days he invested himself with full authority as master of the house ; ordered the repasts, took charge of the invitations, appointed the place of every body at table, and observed that every thing was done according to his rules.
" Of all our family feasts that of Twelfth day was in his eyes the most important, and therefore it was always celebrated with peculiar pomp. The remembrance which I yet retain of it, never permits me to read without sentiments of the most lively emotion, the charming description which M. de Chateaubriand has given us of this ancient festival, at which I have so often assisted. The family was numerous, the parlour for the company was large; I alone am left of all those who partook the good cheer!
666 Unsophisticated minds,' says the author of the Genius of Christianity, 'can never recollect without sympathy those hours of relaxation, when the family assembled round the cake, which suggested to the mind the presents of the magi. The grandfather, duripg the rest of the year secluded in the retirement of his apartment, appears on this day like the divinity of the paternal hearth. His grandchildren, who have for some time past thought of nothing but this festival, climb his knees, and awaken again in him all the memory of his youth. The countenances of all exhibit gaiety ; the hearts of all