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not require them to assume even a slight disguise. The fish-women of
Paris will long retain an unenviable celebrity for the brutal excess of
their rage. The goddess of Reason was worshipped by men, under the form
of a living woman entirely devoid of clothing; and in the public streets
ladies might be seen who scarcely paid more attention to decorum.
Dr Goldsmith thus characterises the Italians in general:
"Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
The sons of Italy were surely blest.
Whatever fruits in different climes are found,
That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground;
Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year:
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky,
With vernal leaves that blossom but to die:
These here disporting, own the kindred soil,
Nor ask luxuriance from their planter's toil;
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand,
To winnow fragrance round the smiling land.
"But small the bliss that sense alone bestows,
And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear,
Man seems the only growth that dwindles here.
Contrasted faults thro' all his manners rein;
Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain;
Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue;
And e'en in penance planning sins anew.
All evils here contaminate the mind,
That opulence departed leaves behind:
For wealth was theirs, not far remov'd the date,
When commerce proudly flourish'd thro' the state;
At her command the palace learn'd to rise,
Again the long fall'n column sought the skies;
The canvass glow'd, beyond e'en nature warm;
The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form.
Till, more unsteady then the southern gale,
Commerce on other shores display'd her sail;
While naught remain'd of all that riches gave,
But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slave;
And late the nation found, with fruitless skill,
Its former strength was but plethoric ill.
"Yet still the loss of wealth is here supplied
By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride;
From them the feeble heart and long fall'n mind
An easy compensation seem to find.
Here may be seen in bloodless pomp array'd,
The pasteboard triumph, and the cavalcade;
Processions form'd from piety and love,
A mistress or a saint in every grove."
Almost every traveller who has visited Italy, agrees in describing it as
the most abandoned of all the countries of Europe. At Venice, at Naples,
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