In October, 1807, a Boston magazine, The Monthly Anthology and Boston Review, published a letter dated February 7, 1805, from an anonymous American traveller in Europe to his sister. The letter was one of a series from the same traveller published by the Review. Mostly, they are enthusiastic travelogues filled with descriptions of cities and antiquities. But one letter was rather different, and makes an interesting companion piece to "Proper Dress for Cotillons", which was likewise published, a year or so later, in The Monthly Anthology.
Entitled "Morals of Italy. -- The Waltz", the tenth letter contains the writer's "observations on the state of morals and manners in Italy." He admitted first that it was not really fair for a traveler make judgments about any foreign society:
I would observe, that I think it extremely unfair in a traveller, who visits a foreign country, to whose language he is in a considerable degree a stranger, into whose society he can only have a limited and partial admission to draw general and illiberal inferences as to the state of their morals, and the nature of their domestick relations. The very illiberal representations which we have seen made of the manners of our own country by Chastellux, Weld, Parkinson, Liancourt, Bayard, and that execrable German, whose travels were republished in the Port Folio, ought to lead us to be very cautious how we venture upon general descriptions, especially unfavourable ones, of foreign nations.
Naturally, he wasn't about to let any such concerns stop him from so reporting on Italy:
But although general comments on national manners are, for the reasons I have assigned, improper, unjust, and illiberal, still there are certain leading traits, which he who runs may read, and which he may without risk report.