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Having set diligently to work, Galiani soon produced a volume under the following title: " Various compositions for the death of Dominick Jannacone, hangman of the grand court of the Vicaria ;* collected and published by John-Anthony Sergio, Neapolitan advocate."
The humorous imitations of style, the general felicity of this piece of burlesque, filled all Italy with laughter: and if it did not destroy, it tended to diminish the academical nuisances described above. At the present day, though not always, ladies may pretty generally get married and be brought to bed, fall sick and recover, and gentlemen may come into the world and go out of it without causing any hubbub in the court of Apollo and the Muses, or being gibbeted in bad rhymes and unmerited praises.
Among his numerous studies Galiani turned his attention to Mineralogy and Volcanoes; and having formed a complete collection of the stones, lava, and other volcanic materials ejected during different eruptions by Mount Vesuvius, he packed it up as a present for the Pope, and being miserably poor at the time, he wrote on the large chest, JBeatissime Pater, fac ut lapides isti panesfiant.
The Pope thus addressed was Benedict XIV., better known among us by his family name Ganganelli. Like several other of the Roman pontiffs, he was a wit himBelf and a warm admirer of wit in other men, and "he performed the miracle asked of him, " (as the Italian biographers say,) by giving Galiani a canonry wh'ch was worth four hundred ducats a-year.
His admirable talent for business as well as for con
witty Marquis of Caracciolo, at whose request (in 1765) the abbe was sent to Paris ,in quality of secretary of embassy.
In the absence of the ambassador, Galiani presented himself alone at the court of Louis XV. In stature he was a dwarf, and a prominent hump did not add to the
* The Newgate of Naples.
beauty of the abbe's person. The ill-bred courtiers of that base-minded vulgar King burst out into loud laughter at his appearance; but Galiani, without being at all disturbed by this, said to Louis, "Sire, vous voyez k present l'echantillon du secretaire, le secretaire vient apres."
The readiness of his repartees, his searching sarcasms, the originality and comprehensiveness of his mind, soon made the abb4 one of the lions of Parisian society, and brought him acquainted with all the most celebrated French philosophers, economists, and wits of that period; among whom it was found that, though speaking a foreign language, he could beat most of the beaux esprits who used their own.
Not long after he showed that he could write French even better than he spoke it, and that he could be as witty with his pen as with his tongue. The French economists having got up a furious contest on the question of the liberty or restriction of the corn-trade, Galiani entered the arena incognito; and, in a little work in the form of a dialogue, contrived not only to treat the solemn subject in a more correct and convincing manner than any of his contemporaries, but to render it amusing and attractive to all the world by the gaiety and wit with which, to the surprise of every body, he invested its usually repulsive dryness. For several weeks all Paris could talk of nothing else, but it was never suspected at the time that so much wit and such French could proceed from any one but a Frenchman. Voltaire, who was certainly a great judge of wit, says of these Corn Dialogues, in a letter to Diderot, " Dans ce livre il me scmble que Platon et Moliere se soient re'unis pour composer 1* ouvrage . . . On n'a jamais raisonne ni mieux, ni plus plaisamment . . . Oh le plaisant livre, le charmant livre, que Les Dialogues sur le Commerce des B1& 1"
Frederic the Great, of Prussia, was equally enchanted with the wisdom and spirit of the Dialogues : but Galiani, who had thrown them off, currente calamo, almost without an effort, used to wonder that people should find them so extraordinary. The little hump-backed abb<S became a star of the first magnitude even in the eyes of the ladies of beauty, rank, and fashion; and it was in speaking of him that the Duchess of Choiseul used to say, " En France il y a de l'esprit en petite monnoie, et en Italie en lingots."
When interrogated by a great talker, who wanted to know how it was that he had so much wit constantly at command, the abbe lifted his shoulders, and said: "I don't now that I have what you give me credit for; but, if I have any wit, it is because I don't seek for it."
In the correspondence of Grimm, the quondam friend of Rosseau, frequent mention is made of Galiani, who was held in singular estimation by the society of the Baron d'Holbach, and the other scientific and literary coteries which Grimm most frequented.
On returning to his native country, in 1770, the witty abbe was made counsellor of the Chamber of Commerce; and he was afterwards promoted to a high post in the finance department. He had a good hearty relish for life, and lived prosperously and happily; but this did not hinder him from dying cheerfully. When his last moment was approaching, he took leave of his friends with these words: "You must excuse me, gentlemen, but the dead have sent me a card of invitation for their conversazione!'
He died on the 31st of October 1787, in the 59th year of his age.— Ugoni, tom. ii. art. 7. Ugo Foscolo, Orig. e Uffic. delta Letter. Corniani, fyc
XXIV. EPITAPH IN THE CHURCHYARD OF
Here lie the bones of Richard Lawton,
This curious mode of conveyance, which was once in such general use among the rich and fashionable, is now very rarely seen in the streets of London. In the time of Hogarth it was considered as a courtly vehicle, and in one of his plates of the " Modern Rake's Progress " we see his man of fashion using it to go to St. James's. It continued to be used at a much later period, and does not appear to have been generally laid aside until the beginning of the present century. About five-and-twenty years ago, a sedan was very commonly seen in the hall or lobby of gentlemen's houses, no longer used, but laid up like a ship in ordinary.
It is still used rather extensively in Edinburgh, where the chairmen are all Highlanders born, and a very curious
and humorous body. It is pretty commonly seen in the streets of Bath, and not unfrequently in those of Cheltenham, Brighton, and our other watering-places. In Brighton, however, it is being superseded by a vehicle called a " Fly-by-night," which is made in the body like a sedan-chair, but goes upon wheels, and is dragged by one or two men.
It is far from being uninteresting to mark the introduction of these things; as they become curious in afterages and give a clue to past habits and manners.
The sedan-chair was first brought into England, from Spain, by Prince Charles, afterwards Charles the First, who, as everybody will remember, went to Madrid for a Spanish wife, whom eventually he did not obtain. On his departure, Olivarez, the prime minister and favourite of Philip the Fourth, gave the Prince a few Italian pictures, some valuable pieces of furniture, and three sedan-chairs of curious workmanship.—See Mendoza's "Relation of what passed inthe Royal Court of the Catholic King, our Lord, on the departure of the Prince of Wales."
We learn from another contemporary that, on his return to England, Charles gave two of these sedanchairs to his favourite the Duke of Buckingham, who raised a great clamour against himself by using them in London. The popular cry was, that the Duke was thus reducing free-born Englishmen and Christians to the offices and condition of beasts of burden.— See Memoirs of Court of England, by Bassompierre, the French Ambassador.
XXVI. PIGS, KINGS, AND MONKS.
Louis the Fat, of France, associated his son Philip with him on the throne, and had him crowned and consecrated with the usual solemnities at Rheims. Shortly after, as the young King was riding through St. Gervais on horseback, a fat sow (probably one of many that paraded