« AnteriorContinuar »
Thou too shalt fall by time or barb'rous foes,
Italia! Italia o tu cui feo la sorte
VINCENZO DA FILICAJA.
PHILOSOPHY does very well for schools and colleges; but when a man mingles with the world, and plays for any stake in society, he finds events jostle one another too closely, to admit all the longwinded finesse of logic; nor would it be
of any use to him, even if he could enter into it. Before we can reason upon any circumstance, it is gone, and another presses for immediate attention; and while we are regarding minutely a past event, the present also soon becomes irrevocable. Theories for the future are as vain as retrospections of the gone; for the slightest accidental variation in the occurrence on which we have calculated, renders our most perfect schemes of no avail, and without we could be prophets, as well as philosophers, none of us can say—“ Thus will I do.”. To act upon what is, to prepare for what may be, and never to regret what has been, is all that remains for us.
They say that the impetus of light will depress a finely-balanced lever; and they say also that experience makes fools wise ; but it is general experience only which is serviceable. Man succeeds by taking advantage of passing events, which he can neither cause nor avoid; there is but one
moment his own, and that he must em. ploy.
There never was any one perhaps less inclined to philosophize on what he saw than Charles Melville, for he was inclined to enjoy; he had made up his mind to be pleased, and he was pleased. If he saw faults, (and there are some we cannot help seeing,) he laughed at them, and thus turned them to his own advantage. He thought that there were far too many real sorrows destined for every one, for us to be angry with half a dozen fleas in a Pied , montese blanket, or to be grieved at sour wine and an over-done pullet; and so he got on very well, and was very well contented wherever he went.
It was the advice of Mr. Wilmot that they should proceed by the Venetian side of Italy in the first instance, and return by the Neapolitan and Genoese coast; and Charles, who had found his judgment a very certain guide, readily agreed, only stipulating that they should proceed to VOL. II.
Florence at the time he supposed lady Mary would be there, of which he had made a very exact calculation, proposing only to remain a few days, and revisit it in their return.
From Milan they proceeded direct to Venice, and much as Charles had heard of it, highly as his expectations had been raised, the sight of such a city, floating on the clear bosom of the Adriatic, the towers, the spires, the palaces, reflected from the bright and glassy plain on which it appeared to stand, the beauty, the grandeur of many of the buildings themselves, with the unruffled water coming fondly to their very foundations, like some mother that clings in delight to the side of her child who has grown up in
surpassing beauty or greatness, all struck him with pleasure, surprise, and admiration. For the first few days he was there, he saw nothing, he would see nothing, but beauty; fine pictures, paladian architecture, winged lions, long hearse-like
dolas, and all the other picturesque peculiarities of Venice, surrounded him in bewildering profusion. He peopled it once again with all the bright creations of fancy to which it has given rise; he filled it with all the characters that have really distinguished it in history; he thought of it as the Venice that had been the free city, the queen of oceans; and looking round at all the objects which had then been, and which still were, he pictured to himself the pride with which the Venetian wrote
“ Viderat Hadriacis Venetam Neptunus in undis
Staré urbem et toti pouere jura mari
Objice, et illa tui meniæ Martis, ait :
Illam homines dices, lianc posuisse Deos.”
But he soon found that it was no more the same, and saw how heavily the yoke of slavery weighed upon her. As the first gloss of novelty wore away, many of the disgusting particulars of an Italian city,