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Travels Through France And Italy

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kept either by way of rejoicing for some benefit, or mourning for
some calamity. Every time it thundered, the day was kept holy.
Every ninth day was a holiday, thence called nundinae quasi
novendinae. There was the dies denominalis, which was the fourth
of the kalends; nones and ides of every month, over and above the
anniversary of every great defeat which the republic had
sustained, particularly the dies alliensis, or fifteenth of the
kalends of December, on which the Romans were totally defeated by
the Gauls and Veientes; as Lucan says--et damnata diu Romanis
allia fastis, and Allia in Rome's Calendar condemn'd. The vast
variety of their deities, said to amount to thirty thousand, with
their respective rites of adoration, could not fail to introduce
such a number of ceremonies, shews, sacrifices, lustrations, and
public processions, as must have employed the people almost
constantly from one end of the year to the other. This continual
dissipation must have been a great enemy to industry; and the
people must have been idle and effeminate. I think it would be no
difficult matter to prove, that there is very little difference,
in point of character, between the antient and modern inhabitants
of Rome; and that the great figure which this empire made of old,
was not so much owing to the intrinsic virtue of its citizens, as
to the barbarism, ignorance, and imbecility of the nations they
subdued. Instances of public and private virtue I find as
frequent and as striking in the history of other nations, as in
the annals of antient Rome; and now that the kingdoms and states
of Europe are pretty equally enlightened, and ballanced in the
scale of political power, I am of opinion, that if the most
fortunate generals of the Roman commonwealth were again placed at
the head of the very armies they once commanded, instead of
extending their conquests over all Europe and Asia, they would
hardly be able to subdue, and retain under their dominion, all
the petty republics that subsist in Italy.

But I am tired with writing; and I believe you will be tired with
reading this long letter notwithstanding all your prepossession
in favour of--Your very humble servant.

LETTER XXI

NICE, November 10, 1764.

DEAR DOCTOR,--In my enquiries about the revenues of Nice, I am
obliged to trust to the information of the inhabitants, who are
much given to exaggerate. They tell me, the revenues of this town
amount to one hundred thousand livres, or five thousand pounds
sterling; of which I would strike off at least one fourth, as an
addition of their own vanity: perhaps, if we deduct a third, it
will be nearer the truth. For, I cannot find out any other funds
they have, but the butchery and the bakery, which they farm at so
much a year to the best bidder; and the droits d'entree, or
duties upon provision brought into the city; but these are very
small. The king is said to draw from Nice one hundred thousand
livres annually, arising from a free-gift, amounting to seven
hundred pounds sterling, in lieu of the taille, from which this
town and county are exempted; an inconsiderable duty upon wine
sold in public-houses; and the droits du port. These last consist
of anchorage, paid by all vessels in proportion to their tonnage,
when they enter the harbours of Nice and Villa Franca. Besides,
all foreign vessels, under a certain stipulated burthen, that
pass between the island of Sardinia and this coast, are obliged,
in going to the eastward, to enter; and pay a certain regulated
imposition, on pain of being taken and made prize. The prince of
Monaco exacts a talliage of the same kind; and both he and the
king of Sardinia maintain armed cruisers to assert this
prerogative; from which, however, the English and French are
exempted by treaty, in consequence of having paid a sum of money
at once. In all probability, it was originally given as a
consideration for maintaining lights on the shore, for the
benefit of navigators, like the toll paid for passing the Sound
in the Baltic. [Upon further inquiry I find it was given in
consideration of being protected from the Corsairs by the naval
force of the Duke of Savoy and Prince of Monaco.] The fanal, or
lanthorn, to the eastward of Villa Franca, is kept in good
repair, and still lighted in the winter. The toll, however, is a
very troublesome tax upon feluccas, and other small craft, which
are greatly retarded in their voyages, and often lose the benefit
of a fair wind, by being obliged to run inshore, and enter those
harbours. The tobacco the king manufactures at his own expence,
and sells for his own profit, at a very high price; and every
person convicted of selling this commodity in secret, is sent to
the gallies for life. The salt comes chiefly from Sardinia, and
is stored up in the king's magazine from whence it is exported to
Piedmont, and other parts of his inland dominions. And here it
may not be amiss to observe, that Sardinia produces very good
horses, well-shaped, though small; strong, hardy, full of mettle,
and easily fed. The whole county of Nice is said to yield the
king half a million of livres, about twenty-five thousand pounds
sterling, arising from a small donative made by every town and
village: for the lands pay no tax, or imposition, but the tithes
to the church. His revenue then flows from the gabelle on salt
and wine, and these free-gifts; so that we may strike off one
fifth of the sum at which the whole is estimated; and conclude,
that the king draws from the county at Nice, about four hundred
thousand livres, or twenty thousand pounds sterling. That his
revenues from Nice are not great, appears from the smallness of
the appointments allowed to his officers. The president has about
three hundred pounds per annum; and the intendant about two. The
pay of the commandant does not exceed three hundred and fifty
pounds: but he has certain privileges called the tour du baton,
some of which a man of spirit would not insist upon. He who
commands at present, having no estate of his own, enjoys a small
commandery, which being added to his appointments at Nice, make
the whole amount to about five hundred pounds sterling.

If we may believe the politicians of Nice, the king of Sardinia's
whole revenue does not fall short of twenty millions of
Piedmontese livres, being above one million of our money. It must
be owned, that there is no country in Christendom less taxed than
that of Nice; and as the soil produces the necessaries of life,
the inhabitants, with a little industry, might renew the golden
age in this happy climate, among their groves, woods, and
mountains, beautified with fountains, brooks, rivers, torrents,
and cascades. In the midst of these pastoral advantages, the
peasants are poor and miserable. They have no stock to begin the
world with. They have no leases of the lands they cultivate; but
entirely depend, from year to year, on the pleasure of the
arbitrary landholder, who may turn them out at a minute's
warning; and they are oppressed by the mendicant friars and
parish priests, who rob them of the best fruits of their labour:
after all, the ground is too scanty for the number of families
which are crouded on it.

You desire to know the state of the arts and sciences at Nice;
which, indeed, is almost a total blank. I know not what men of
talents this place may have formerly produced; but at present, it
seems to be consecrated to the reign of dulness and superstition.
It is very surprising, to see a people established between two
enlightened nations, so devoid of taste and literature. Here are
no tolerable pictures, busts, statues, nor edifices: the very
ornaments of the churches are wretchedly conceived, and worse
executed. They have no public, nor private libraries that afford
any thing worth perusing. There is not even a bookseller in Nice.
Though they value themselves upon their being natives of Italy,
they are unacquainted with music. The few that play upon
instruments, attend only to the execution. They have no genius
nor taste, nor any knowledge of harmony and composition. Among
the French, a Nissard piques himself on being Provencal; but in
Florence, Milan, or Rome, he claims the honour of being born a
native of Italy. The people of condition here speak both
languages equally well; or, rather, equally ill; for they use a
low, uncouth phraseology; and their pronunciation is extremely
vitious. Their vernacular tongue is what they call Patois; though
in so calling it, they do it injustice.--Patois, from the Latin
word patavinitas, means no more than a provincial accent, or
dialect. It takes its name from Patavium, or Padua, which was the
birthplace of Livy, who, with all his merit as a writer, has
admitted into his history, some provincial expressions of his own
country. The Patois, or native tongue of Nice, is no other than
the ancient Provencal, from which the Italian, Spanish and
French languages, have been formed. This is the language that
rose upon the ruins of the Latin tongue, after the irruptions of
the Goths, Vandals, Huns, and Burgundians, by whom the Roman
empire was destroyed. It was spoke all over Italy, Spain, and the
southern parts of France, until the thirteenth century, when the
Italians began to polish it into the language which they now call
their own: The Spaniards and French, likewise, improved it into
their respective tongues. From its great affinity to the Latin,
it was called Romance, a name which the Spaniards still give to
their own language. As the first legends of knight-errantry were
written in Provencal, all subsequent performances of the same
kind, have derived from it the name of romance; and as those
annals of chivalry contained extravagant adventures of knights,
giants, and necromancers, every improbable story or fiction is to
this day called a romance. Mr. Walpole, in his Catalogue of royal
and noble Authors, has produced two sonnets in the antient
Provencal, written by our king Richard I. surnamed Coeur de Lion;
and Voltaire, in his Historical Tracts, has favoured the world
with some specimens of the same language. The Patois of Nice,
must, without doubt, have undergone changes and corruptions in
the course of so many ages, especially as no pains have been
taken to preserve its original purity, either in orthography or
pronunciation. It is neglected, as the language of the vulgar:
and scarce any-body here knows either its origin or constitution.
I have in vain endeavoured to procure some pieces in the antient
Provencal, that I might compare them with the modern Patois: but
I can find no person to give me the least information on the
subject. The shades of ignorance, sloth, and stupidity, are
impenetrable. Almost every word of the Patois may still be found
in the Italian, Spanish, and French languages, with a small
change in the pronunciation. Cavallo, signifying a horse in
Italian and Spanish is called cavao; maison, the French word for
a house, is changed into maion; aqua, which means water in
Spanish, the Nissards call daigua. To express, what a slop is
here! they say acco fa lac aqui, which is a sentence composed of
two Italian words, one French, and one Spanish. This is nearly
the proportion in which these three languages will be found
mingled in the Patois of Nice; which, with some variation,
extends over all Provence, Languedoc, and Gascony. I will now
treat you with two or three stanzas of a canzon, or hymn, in this
language, to the Virgin Mary, which was lately printed at Nice.

1

Vierge, maire de Dieu,
Nuostro buono avocado,
Embel car uvostre sieu,
En Fenestro adourado,
Jeu vous saludi,
E demandi en socours;
E sense autre preludi,
Canti lous uvostre honours.

Virgin, mother of God,
our good advocate,
With your dear son,
In Fenestro adored,
I salute you,
And ask his assistance;
And without further prelude,
I sing your honours.

[Fenestro is the name of a place in this neighbourhood, where
there is a supposed miraculous sanctuary, or chapel, of the
Virgin Mary.]

2.

Qu'ario de Paradis!
Que maesta divine!
Salamon es d'advis,
Giugiar de uvostro mino;
Vous dis plus bello:
E lou dis ben soven
De toutoi lei femello,
E non s'engano ren.

What air of Paradise!
What majesty divine!
Solomon is of opinion,
To judge of your appearance;
Says you are the fairest
And it is often said
Of all females,
And we are not all deceived.

3.

Qu'ario de Paradis!
Que maesta divine!
La bellezzo eblovis;
La bonta l'ueigl raffino.
Sias couronado;
Tenes lou monde en man
Sus del trono assettado,
Riges lou avostre enfan.

What air of Paradise!
What majesty divine!
The beauty dazzles;
The goodness purifies the eye:
You are crowned:
You hold the world in your hand:
Seated on the throne,
You support your child.

You see I have not chosen this canzon for the beauty and elegance
of thought and expression; but give it you as the only printed
specimen I could find of the modern Provencal. If you have any
curiosity to be further acquainted with the Patois, I will
endeavour to procure you satisfaction. Meanwhile, I am, in plain
English,--Dear Sir, Ever yours.

LETTER XXII

NICE, November 10, 1764.

DEAR SIR,--I had once thoughts of writing a complete natural
history of this town and county: but I found myself altogether
unequal to the task. I have neither health, strength, nor
opportunity to make proper collections of the mineral, vegetable,
and animal productions. I am not much conversant with these
branches of natural philosophy. I have no books to direct my
inquiries. I can find no person capable of giving me the least
information or assistance; and I am strangely puzzled by the
barbarous names they give to many different species, the
descriptions of which I have read under other appelations; and
which, as I have never seen them before, I cannot pretend to
distinguish by the eye. You must therefore be contented with such
imperfect intelligence as my opportunities can afford.

The useful arts practised at Nice, are these, gardening and
agriculture, with their consequences, the making of wine, oil,
and cordage; the rearing of silk-worms, with the subsequent
management and manufacture of that production; and the fishing,
which I have already described.

Nothing can be more unpromising than the natural soil of this
territory, except in a very few narrow bottoms, where there is a
stiff clay, which when carefully watered, yields tolerable
pasturage. In every other part, the soil consists of a light sand
mingled with pebbles, which serves well enough for the culture of
vines and olives: but the ground laid out for kitchen herbs, as
well as for other fruit must be manured with great care and
attention. They have no black cattle to afford such compost as
our farmers use in England. The dung of mules and asses, which
are their only beasts of burthen, is of very little value for
this purpose; and the natural sterility of their ground requires
something highly impregnated with nitre and volatile salts. They
have recourse therefore to pigeons' dung and ordure, which fully
answer their expectations. Every peasant opens, at one corner of
his wall, a public house of office for the reception of
passengers; and in the town of Nice, every tenement is provided
with one of these receptacles, the contents of which are
carefully preserved for sale. The peasant comes with his asses
and casks to carry it off before day, and pays for it according
to its quality, which he examines and investigates, by the taste
and flavour. The jakes of a protestant family, who eat gras every
day, bears a much higher price than the privy of a good catholic
who lives maigre one half of the year. The vaults belonging to the
convent of Minims are not worth emptying.

The ground here is not delved with spades as in England, but
laboured with a broad, sharp hough, having a short horizontal
handle; and the climate is so hot and dry in the summer, that the
plants must be watered every morning and evening, especially
where it is not shaded by trees. It is surprising to see how the
productions of the earth are crouded together. One would imagine
they would rob one another of nourishment; and moreover be
stifled for want of air; and doubtless this is in some measure
the case. Olive and other fruit trees are planted in rows very
close to each other. These are connected by vines, and the
interstices, between the rows, are filled with corn. The gardens
that supply the town with sallad and pot-herbs, lye all on the
side of Provence, by the highway. They are surrounded with high
stone-walls, or ditches, planted with a kind of cane or large
reed, which answers many purposes in this country. The leaves of
it afford sustenance to the asses, and the canes not only serve
as fences to the inclosures; but are used to prop the vines and
pease, and to build habitations for the silkworms: they are
formed into arbours, and wore as walking-staves. All these
gardens are watered by little rills that come from the mountains,
particularly, by the small branches of the two sources which I
have described in a former letter, as issuing from the two sides
of a mountain, under the names of Fontaine de Muraille, and
Fontaine du Temple.

In the neighbourhood of Nice, they raise a considerable quantity
of hemp, the largest and strongest I ever saw. Part of this, when
dressed, is exported to other countries; and part is manufactured
into cordage. However profitable it may be to the grower, it is
certainly a great nuisance in the summer. When taken out of the
pits, where it has been put to rot, the stench it raises is quite
insupportable; and must undoubtedly be unwholesome.

There is such a want of land in this neighbourhood, that terraces
are built over one another with loose stones, on the faces of
bare rocks, and these being covered with earth and manured, are
planted with olives, vines, and corn. The same shift was
practised all over Palestine, which was rocky and barren, and
much more populous than the county of Nice.

Notwithstanding the small extent of this territory, there are
some pleasant meadows in the skirts of Nice, that produce
excellent clover; and the corn which is sown in open fields,
where it has the full benefit of the soil, sun, and air, grows to
a surprizing height. I have seen rye seven or eight feet high.
All vegetables have a wonderful growth in this climate. Besides
wheat, rye, barley, and oats, this country produces a good deal
of Meliga, or Turkish wheat, which is what we call Indian corn. I
have, in a former letter, observed that the meal of this grain
goes by the name polenta, and makes excellent hasty-pudding,
being very nourishing, and counted an admirable pectoral. The
pods and stalks are used for fuel: and the leaves are much
preferable to common straw, for making paillasses.

The pease and beans in the garden appear in the winter like
beautiful plantations of young trees in blossom; and perfume the
air. Myrtle, sweet-briar, sweet-marjoram, sage, thyme, lavender,
rosemary, with many other aromatic herbs and flowers, which with
us require the most careful cultivation, are here found wild in
the mountains.

It is not many years since the Nissards learned the culture of
silk-worms, of their neighbours the Piedmontese; and hitherto the
progress they have made is not very considerable: the whole
county of Nice produces about one hundred and thirty-three bales
of three hundred pounds each, amounting in value to four hundred
thousand livres.

In the beginning of April, when the mulberry-leaves, begin to put
forth, the eggs or grains that produce the silk-worm, are
hatched. The grains are washed in wine, and those that swim on
the top, are thrown away as good for nothing. The rest being
deposited in small bags of linen, are worn by women in their
bosoms, until the worms begin to appear: then they are placed in
shallow wooden boxes, covered with a piece of white paper, cut
into little holes, through which the worms ascend as they are
hatched, to feed on the young mulberry-leaves, of which there is
a layer above the paper. These boxes are kept for warmth between
two mattrasses, and visited every day. Fresh leaves are laid in,
and the worms that feed are removed successively to the other
place prepared for their reception. This is an habitation,
consisting of two or three stories, about twenty inches from each
other, raised upon four wooden posts. The floors are made of
canes, and strewed with fresh mulberry-leaves: the corner posts,
and other occasional props, for sustaining the different floors,
are covered with a coat of loose heath, which is twisted round
the wood. The worms when hatched are laid upon the floors; and
here you may see them in all the different stages (if moulting or
casting the slough, a change which they undergo three times
successively before they begin to work. The silk-worm is an
animal of such acute and delicate sensations, that too much care
cannot be taken to keep its habitation clean, and to refresh it
from time to time with pure air. I have seen them languish and
die in scores, in consequence of an accidental bad smell. The
soiled leaves, and the filth which they necessarily produce,
should be carefully shifted every day; and it would not be amiss
to purify the air sometimes with fumes of vinegar, rose, or
orange-flower water. These niceties, however, are but little
observed. They commonly lie in heaps as thick as shrimps in a
plate, some feeding on the leaves, some new hatched, some
intranced in the agonies of casting their skin, sonic
languishing, and some actually dead, with a litter of half-eaten
faded leaves about them, in a close room, crouded with women and
children, not at all remarkable for their cleanliness. I am
assured by some persons of credit, that if they are touched, or
even approached, by a woman in her catamenia, they infallibly
expire. This, however, must be understood of those females whose
skins have naturally a very rank flavour, which is generally
heightened at such periods. The mulberry-leaves used in this
country are of the tree which bears a small white fruit not
larger than a damascene. They are planted on purpose, and the
leaves are sold at so much a pound. By the middle of June all the
mulberry-trees are stripped; but new leaves succeed, and in a few
weeks, they are cloathed again with fresh verdure. In about ten
days after the last moulting, the silk-worm climbs upon the props
of his house, and choosing a situation among the heath, begins to
spin in a most curious manner, until he is quite inclosed, and
the cocon or pod of silk, about the size of a pigeon's egg, which
he has produced remains suspended by several filaments. It is no
unusual to see double cocons, spun by two worms included under a
common cover. There must be an infinite number of worms to yield
any considerable quantity of silk. One ounce of eggs or grains
produces, four rup, or one hundred Nice pounds of cocons; and one
rup, or twenty-five pounds of cocons, if they are rich, gives
three pounds of raw silk; that is, twelve pounds of silk are got
from one ounce of grains, which ounce of grains its produced by
as many worms as are inclosed in one pound, or twelve ounces of
cocons. In preserving the cocons for breed, you must choose an
equal number of males and females; and these are very easily
distinguished by the shape of the cocons; that which contains the
male is sharp, and the other obtuse, at the two ends. In ten or
twelve days after the cocon is finished, the worm makes its way
through it, in the form of a very ugly, unwieldy, aukward
butterfly, and as the different sexes are placed by one another
on paper or linen, they immediately engender. The female lays her
eggs, which are carefully preserved; but neither she nor her mate
takes any nourishment, and in eight or ten days after they quit
the cocons, they generally die. The silk of these cocons cannot
be wound, because the animals in piercing through them, have
destroyed the continuity of the filaments. It is therefore, first
boiled, and then picked and carded like wool, and being
afterwards spun, is used in the coarser stuffs of the silk
manufacture. The other cocons, which yield the best silk, are
managed in a different manner. Before the inclosed worm has time
to penetrate, the silk is reeled off with equal care and
ingenuity. A handful of the cocons are thrown away into a kettle
of boiling water, which not only kills the animal, but dissolves
the glutinous substance by which the fine filaments of the silk
cohere or stick together, so that they are easily wound off,
without breaking. Six or seven of these small filaments being
joined together are passed over a kind of twisting iron, and
fixed to the wheel, which one girl turns, while another, with her
hands in the boiling water, disentangles the threads, joins them
when they chance to break, and supplies fresh cocons with
admirable dexterity and dispatch. There is a manufacture of this
kind just without one of the gates of Nice, where forty or fifty
of these wheels are worked together, and give employment for some
weeks to double the number of young women. Those who manage the
pods that float in the boiling water must be very alert,
otherwise they will scald their fingers. The smell that comes
from the boiling cocons is extremely offensive. Hard by the
harbour, there is a very curious mill for twisting the silk,
which goes by water. There is in the town of Nice, a well
regulated hospital for poor orphans of both sexes, where above
one hundred of them are employed in dressing, dyeing, spinning,
and weaving the silk. In the villages of Provence, you see the
poor women in the streets spinning raw silk upon distaves: but
here the same instrument is only used for spinning hemp and flax;
which last, however, is not of the growth of Nice--But lest I
should spin this letter to a tedious length, I will now wind up
my bottom, and bid you heartily farewell.

LETTER XXIII

NICE, December 19, 1764.

SIR,--In my last, I gave you a succinct account of the silkworm,
and the management of that curious insect in this country. I
shall now proceed to describe the methods of making wine and oil.

The vintage begins in September. The grapes being chosen and
carefully picked, are put into a large vat, where they are
pressed by a man's naked feet, and the juices drawn off by a cock
below. When no more is procured by this operation, the bruised
grapes are put into the press, and yield still more liquor. The
juice obtained by this double pressure, being put in casks, with
their bungs open, begins to ferment and discharge its impurities
at the openings. The waste occasioned by this discharge, is
constantly supplied with fresh wine, so that the casks are
always full. The fermentation continues for twelve, fifteen, or
twenty days, according to the strength and vigour of the grape.
In about a month, the wine is fit for drinking. When the grapes
are of a bad, meagre kind, the wine dealers mix the juice with
pigeons'-dung or quick-lime, in order to give it a spirit which
nature has denied: but this is a very mischievous adulteration.

The process for oil-making is equally simple. The best olives are
those that grow wild; but the quantity of them is very
inconsiderable. Olives begin to ripen and drop in the beginning
of November: but some remain on the trees till February, and even
till April, and these are counted the most valuable. When the
olives are gathered, they must be manufactured immediately,
before they fade and grow wrinkled, otherwise they will produce
bad oil. They are first of all ground into a paste by a mill-stone
set edge-ways in a circular stone-trough, the wheel being
turned by water.

This paste is put into trails or circular cases made of grass
woven, having a round hole at top and bottom; when filled they
resemble in shape our Cheshire cheeses. A number of these placed
one upon another, are put in a press, and being squeezed, the oil
with all its impurities, runs into a receptacle below fixed in
the ground. From hence it is laded into a wooden vat, half filled
with water. The sordes or dirt falls to the bottom; the oil swims
a-top; and being skimmed off, is barrelled up in small oblong
casks. What remains in the vat, is thrown into a large stone
cistern with water, and after being often stirred, and standing
twelve or fourteen days, yields a coarser oil used for lamps and
manufactures. After these processes, they extract an oil still
more coarse and fetid from the refuse of the whole. Sometimes, in
order to make the olives grind the more easily into a paste, and
part with more oil, they are mixed with a little hot water: but
the oil thus procured is apt to grow rancid. The very finest,
called virgin oil, is made chiefly of green olives, and sold at
a very high price, because a great quantity is required to
produce a very little oil. Even the stuff that is left after all
these operations, consisting of the dried pulp, is sold for fuel,
and used in brasieres for warming apartments which have no
chimney.

I have now specified all the manufactures of Nice which are worth
mentioning. True it is, there is some coarse paper made in this
neighbourhood; there are also people here who dress skins and
make leather for the use of the inhabitants: but this business is
very ill performed: the gloves and shoes are generally rotten as
they come from the hands of the maker. Carpenter's, joiner's, and
blacksmith's work is very coarsely and clumsily done. There are
no chairs to be had at Nice, but crazy things made of a few
sticks, with rush bottoms, which are sold for twelve livres a
dozen. Nothing can be more contemptible than the hard-ware made
in this place, such as knives, scissors, and candle-snuffers. All
utensils in brass and copper are very ill made and finished. The
silver-smiths make nothing but spoons, forks, paultry rings, and
crosses for the necks of the women.

The houses are built of a ragged stone dug from the mountains,
and the interstices are filled with rubble; so that the walls
would appear very ugly, if they were not covered with plaister,
which has a good effect. They generally consist of three stories,
and are covered with tiles. The apartments of the better sort are
large and lofty, the floors paved with brick, the roofs covered
with a thick coat of stucco, and the walls whitewashed. People of
distinction hang their chambers with damask, striped silk,
painted cloths, tapestry, or printed linnen. All the doors, as
well as the windows, consist of folding leaves. As there is no
wainscot in the rooms, which are divided by stone partitions and
the floors and cieling are covered with brick and stucco, fires
are of much less dreadful consequence here than in our country.
Wainscot would afford harbour for bugs: besides, white walls have
a better effect in this hot climate. The beds commonly used in
this place, and all over Italy, consist of a paillasse, with one
or two mattrasses, laid upon planks, supported by two wooden
benches. Instead of curtains there is a couziniere or mosquito
net, made of a kind of gauze, that opens and contracts
occasionally, and incloses the place where you lie: persons of
condition, however, have also bedsteads and curtains; but these
last are never used in the summer.

In these countries, people of all ranks dine exactly at noon; and
this is the time I seize in winter, for making my daily tour of
the streets and ramparts, which at all other hours of the day are
crowded with men, women, children and beasts of burthen. The
rampart is the common road for carriages of all kinds. I think
there are two private coaches in Nice, besides that of the
commandant: but there are sedan chairs, which may be had at a
reasonable rate. When I bathed in the summer, I paid thirty sols,
equal to eighteen-pence, for being carried to and from the
bathing place, which was a mile from my own house.

Now I am speaking of bathing, it may not be amiss to inform you
that though there is a fine open beach, extending several miles
to the westward of Nice, those who cannot swim ought to bathe
with great precaution, as the sea is very deep, and the descent
very abrupt from within a yard or two of the water's edge. The
people here were much surprised when I began to bathe in the
beginning of May. They thought it very strange, that a man
seemingly consumptive should plunge into the sea, especially when
the weather was so cold; and some of the doctors prognosticated
immediate death. But, when it was perceived that I grew better in
consequence of the bath, some of the Swiss officers tried the
same experiment, and in a few days, our example was followed by
several inhabitants of Nice. There is, however, no convenience
for this operation, from the benefit of which the fair sex must
be intirely excluded, unless they lay aside all regard to
decorum; for the shore is always lined with fishing-boats, and
crouded with people. If a lady should be at the expence of having
a tent pitched on the beach where she might put on and of her
bathing-dress, she could not pretend to go into the sea without
proper attendants; nor could she possibly plunge headlong into
the water, which is the most effectual, and least dangerous way
of bathing. All that she can do is to have the sea-water brought
into her house, and make use of a bathing-tub, which may be made
according to her own, or physician's direction.

What further I have to say of this climate and country, you shall
have in my next; and then you will be released from a subject,
which I am afraid has been but too circumstantially handled by--
Sir, Your very humble servant.

LETTER XXIV

NICE, January 4, 1765.

DEAR SIR.,--The constitution of this climate may be pretty well
ascertained, from the inclosed register of the weather, which I
kept with all possible care and attention. From a perusal of it,
you will see that there is less rain and wind at Nice, than in
any other part of the world that I know; and such is the serenity
of the air, that you see nothing above your head for several
months together, but a charming blue expanse, without cloud or
speck. Whatever clouds may be formed by evaporation of the sea,
they seldom or never hover over this small territory; but, in all
probability, are attracted by the mountains that surround it, and
there fall in rain or snow: as for those that gather from other
quarters, I suppose their progress hitherward is obstructed by
those very Alps, which rise one over another, to an extent of
many leagues. This air being dry, pure, heavy, and elastic, must
be agreeable to the constitution of those who labour under
disorders arising from weak nerves, obstructed perspiration,
relaxed fibres, a viscidity of lymph, and a languid circulation.
In other respects, it encourages the scurvy, the atmosphere being
undoubtedly impregnated with sea-salt. Ever since my arrival at
Nice, I have had a scorbutical eruption on my right hand, which
diminishes and increases according to the state of my health. One
day last summer, when there was a strong breeze from the sea, the
surface of our bodies was covered with a salt brine, very
perceptible to the taste; my gums, as well as those of another
person in my family, began to swell, and grow painful, though
this had never happened before; and I was seized with violent
pains in the joints of my knees. I was then at a country-house
fronting the sea, and particularly exposed to the marine air. The
swelling of our gums subsided as the wind fell: but what was very
remarkable, the scurvy-spot on my hand disappeared, and did not
return for a whole month. It is affirmed that sea-salt will
dissolve, and render the blood so fluid, that it will exude
through the coats of the vessels. Perhaps the sea-scurvy is a
partial dissolution of it, by that mineral absorbed from the air
by the lymphatics on the surface of the body, and by those of the
lungs in respiration. Certain it is, in the last stages of the
sea-scurvy, the blood often bursts from the pores; and this
phaenomenon is imputed to a high degree of putrefaction: sure
enough it is attended with putrefaction. We know that a certain
quantity of salt is required to preserve the animal juices from
going putrid: but, how a greater quantity should produce
putrefaction, I leave to wiser heads to explain. Many people here
have scorbutical complaints, though their teeth are not affected.
They are subject to eruptions on the skin, putrid gums, pains in
the bones, lassitude, indigestion, and low spirits; but the
reigning distemper is a marasmus, or consumption, which proceeds
gradually, without any pulmonary complaint, the complexion
growing more and more florid, 'till the very last scene of the
tragedy. This I would impute to the effects of a very dry, saline
atmosphere, upon a thin habit, in which there is an extraordinary
waste by perspiration. The air is remarkably salt in this
district, because the mountains that hem it in, prevent its
communication with the circumambient atmosphere, in which the
saline particles would otherwise be diffused; and there is no
rain, nor dew, to precipitate or dissolve them. Such an air as I
have described, should have no bad effect upon a moist,
phlegmatic constitution, such as mine; and yet it must be owned,
I have been visibly wasting since I came hither, though this
decay I considered as the progress of the tabes which began in
England. But the air of Nice has had a still more sensible effect
upon Mr. Sch--z, who laboured under nervous complaints to such a
degree, that life was a burthen to him. He had also a fixed pain
in his breast, for which complaint he had formerly tried the air
of Naples, where he resided some considerable time, and in a
great measure recovered: but, this returning with weakness,
faintness, low spirits, and entire loss of appetite, he was
advised to come hither; and the success of his journey has
greatly exceeded his expectation. Though the weather has been
remarkably bad for this climate, he has enjoyed perfect health.
Since he arrived at Nice, the pain in his breast has vanished; he
eats heartily, sleeps well, is in high spirits, and so strong,
that he is never off his legs in the day-time. He can walk to the
Var and back again, before dinner; and he has climbed to the tops
of all the mountains in this neighbourhood. I never saw before
such sudden and happy effects from the change of air. I must also
acknowledge, that ever since my arrival at Nice, I have breathed
more freely than I had done for some years, and my spirits have
been more alert. The father of my housekeeper, who was a dancing-master,
had been so afflicted with an asthmatic disorder, that he
could not live in France, Spain, or Italy; but found the air of
Nice so agreeable to his lungs, that he was enabled to exercise
his profession for above twenty years, and died last spring
turned of seventy. Another advantage I have reaped from this
climate is my being, in a great measure, delivered from a slow
fever which used to hang about me, and render life a burthen.
Neither am I so apt to catch cold as I used to be in England and
France; and the colds I do catch are not of the same continuance
and consequence, as those to which I was formerly subject. The
air of Nice is so dry, that in summer, and even in winter,
(except ill wet weather) you may pass the evening, and indeed the
whole night, sub Dio, without feeling the least dew or moisture;
and as for fogs, they are never seen in this district. In summer,
the air is cooled by a regular sea-breeze blowing from the cast,
like that of the West-Indies. It begins in the forenoon, and
increases with the heat of the day. It dies away about six or
seven; and immediately after sun-set is succeeded
by an agreeable land-breeze from the mountains. The sea-breeze
from the eastward, however, is not so constant here, as in the
West-Indies between the tropicks, because the sun, which produces
it, is not so powerful. This country lies nearer the region of
variable winds, and is surrounded by mountains, capes, and
straights, which often influence the constitution and current of
the air. About the winter solstice, the people of Nice expect
wind and rain, which generally lasts, with intervals, 'till the
beginning of February: but even during this, their worst weather,
the sun breaks out occasionally, and you may take the air either
a-foot or on horseback every day; for the moisture is immediately
absorbed by the earth, which is naturally dry. They likewise lay
their account with being visited by showers of rain and gusts of
wind in April. A week's rain in the middle of August makes them
happy. It not only refreshes the parched ground, and plumps up
the grapes and other fruit, but it cools the air and assuages the
beets, which then begin to grow very troublesome; but the rainy
season is about the autumnal equinox, or rather something later.
It continues about twelve days or a fortnight, and is extremely
welcome to the natives of this country. This rainy season is
often delayed 'till the latter end of November, and sometimes
'till the month of December; in which case, the rest of the
winter is generally dry. The heavy rains in this country
generally come with a south-west wind, which was the creberque
procellis Africus, the stormy southwest, of the antients. It is
here called Lebeche, a corruption of Lybicus: it generally blows
high for a day or two, and rolls the Mediterranean before it in
huge waves, that often enter the town of Nice. It likewise drives
before it all the clouds which had been formed above the surface
of the Mediterranean. These being expended in rain, fair weather
naturally ensues. For this reason, the Nissards observe le
lebeche racommode le tems, the Lebeche settles the weather.
During the rains of this season, however, the winds have been
variable. From the sixteenth of November, 'till the fourth of
January, we have had two and twenty days of heavy rain: a very
extraordinary visitation in this country: but the seasons seem to
be more irregular than formerly, all over Europe. In the month of
July, the mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer, rose to eighty-four
at Rome, the highest degree at which it was ever known in
that country; and the very next day, the Sabine mountains were
covered with snow. The same phaemomenon happened on the eleventh
of August, and the thirtieth of September. The consequence of
these sudden variations of weather, was this: putrid fevers were
less frequent than usual; but the sudden cheek of perspiration
from the cold, produced colds, inflammatory sore throats, and the
rheumatism. I know instances of some English valetudinarians, who
have passed the winter at Aix, on the supposition that there was
little or no difference between that air and the climate of Nice:
but this is a very great mistake, which may be attended with
fatal consequences. Aix is altogether exposed to the north and
north-west winds, which blow as cold in Provence, as ever I felt
them on the mountains of Scotland: whereas Nice is entirely
screened from these winds by the Maritime Alps, which form an
amphitheatre, to the land-side, around this little territory: but
another incontestible proof of the mildness of this climate, is
deduced from the oranges, lemons, citrons, roses, narcissus's,
july-flowers, and jonquils, which ripen and blow in the middle of
winter. I have described the agreeable side of this climate; and
now I will point out its inconveniences. In the winter, but
especially in the spring, the sun is so hot, that one can hardly
take exercise of any sort abroad, without being thrown into a
breathing sweat; and the wind at this season is so cold and
piercing, that it often produces a mischievous effect on the
pores thus opened. If the heat rarifies the blood and juices,
while the cold air constringes the fibres, and obstructs the
perspiration, inflammatory disorders must ensue. Accordingly, the
people are then subject to colds, pleurisies, peripneumonies, and
ardent fevers. An old count advised me to stay within doors in
March, car alors les humeurs commencent a se remuer, for then the
humours begin to be in motion. During the heats of summer, some
few persons of gross habits have, in consequence of violent
exercise and excess, been seized with putrid fevers, attended
with exanthemata, erisipelatous, and miliary eruptions, which
commonly prove fatal: but the people in general are healthy, even
those that take very little exercise: a strong presumption in
favour of the climate! As to medicine, I know nothing of the
practice of the Nice physicians. Here are eleven in all; but four
or five make shift to live by the profession. They receive, by
way of fee, ten sols (an English six-pence) a visit, and this is
but ill paid: so you may guess whether they are in a condition to
support the dignity of physic; and whether any man, of a liberal
education, would bury himself at Nice on such terms. I am
acquainted with an Italian physician settled at Villa Franca, a
very good sort of a man, who practises for a certain salary,
raised by annual contribution among the better sort of people;
and an allowance from the king, for visiting the sick belonging
to the garrison and the gallies. The whole may amount to near
thirty pounds.

Among the inconveniences of this climate, the vermin form no
inconsiderable article. Vipers and snakes are found in the
mountains. Our gardens swarm with lizzards; and there are some
few scorpions; but as yet I have seen but one of this species. In
summer, notwithstanding all the care and precautions we can take,
we are pestered with incredible swarms of flies, fleas, and bugs;
but the gnats, or couzins, are more intolerable than all the
rest. In the day-time, it is impossible to keep the flies out of
your mouth, nostrils, eyes, and ears. They croud into your milk,
tea, chocolate, soup, wine, and water: they soil your sugar,
contaminate your victuals, and devour your fruit; they cover and
defile your furniture, floors, cielings, and indeed your whole
body. As soon as candles are lighted, the couzins begin to buz
about your ears in myriads, and torment you with their stings, so
that you have no rest nor respite 'till you get into bed, where
you are secured by your mosquito-net. This inclosure is very
disagreeable in hot weather; and very inconvenient to those, who,
like me, are subject to a cough and spitting. It is moreover
ineffectual; for some of those cursed insects insinuate
themselves within it, almost every night; and half a dozen of
them are sufficient to disturb you 'till morning. This is a
plague that continues all the year; but in summer it is
intolerable. During this season, likewise, the moths are so
mischievous, that it requires the utmost care to preserve woollen
cloths from being destroyed. From the month of May, 'till the
beginning of October, the heat is so violent, that you cannot
stir abroad after six in the morning 'till eight at night, so
that you are entirely deprived of the benefit of exercise: There
is no shaded walk in, or near the town; and there is neither
coach nor chaise to hire, unless you travel post. Indeed, there
is no road fit for any wheel carriage, but the common highway to
the Var, in which you are scorched by the reflexion of the sun
from the sand and stones, and at the same time half stifled with
dust. If you ride out in the cool of the evening, you will have
the disadvantage of returning in the dark.

Among the demerits of Nice, I must also mention the water which
is used in the city. It is drawn from wells; and for the most
part so hard, that it curdles with soap. There are many fountains
and streams in the neighbourhood, that afford excellent water,
which, at no great charge, might be conveyed into the town, so as
to form conduits in all the public streets: but the inhabitants
are either destitute of public spirit, or cannot afford the
expense. [General Paterson delivered a Plan to the King of
Sardinia for supplying Nice with excellent water for so small an
expence as one livre a house per annum; but the inhabitants
remonstrated against it as an intolerable Imposition.] I have a
draw-well in my porch, and another in my garden, which supply
tolerable water for culinary uses; but what we drink, is fetched
from a well belonging to a convent of Dominicans in this
neighbourhood. Our linnen is washed in the river Paglion; and
when that is dry, in the brook called Limpia, which runs into the
harbour.

In mentioning the water of this neighbourhood, I ought not to
omit the baths of Rocabiliare, a small town among the mountains,
about five and twenty miles from Nice. There are three sources,
each warmer than the other; the warmest being nearly equal to the
heat of the king's bath at Bath in Somersetshire, as far as I can
judge from information. I have perused a Latin manuscript, which
treats of these baths at Rocabiliare, written by the duke of
Savoy's first physician about sixty years ago. He talks much of
the sulphur and the nitre which they contain; but I apprehend
their efficacy is owing to the same volatile vitriolic principle,
which characterises the waters at Bath. They are attenuating and
deobstruent, consequently of service in disorders arising from a
languid circulation, a viscidity of the juices, a lax fibre, and
obstructed viscera. The road from hence to Rocabiliare is in some
parts very dangerous, lying along the brink of precipices,
impassable to any other carriage but a mule. The town itself
affords bad lodging and accommodation, and little or no society.
The waters are at the distance of a mile and a half from the
town: there are no baths nor shelter, nor any sort of convenience
for those that drink them; and the best part of their efficacy is
lost, unless they are drank at the fountain-head. If these
objections were in some measure removed, I would advise
valetudinarians, who come hither for the benefit of this climate,
to pass the heats of summer at Rocabiliare, which being situated
among mountains, enjoys a cool temperate air all the summer. This
would be a salutary respite from the salt air of Nice, to those
who labour under scorbutical complaints; and they would return
with fresh vigour and spirits, to pass the winter in this place,
where no severity of weather is known. Last June, when I found
myself so ill at my cassine, I had determined to go to
Rocabiliare, and even to erect a hut at the spring, for my own
convenience. A gentleman of Nice undertook to procure me a
tolerable lodging in the house of the cure, who was his relation.
He assured me, there was no want of fresh butter, good poultry,
excellent veal, and delicate trout; and that the articles of
living might be had at Rocabiliare for half the price we paid at
Nice: but finding myself grow better immediately on my return
from the cassine to my own house, I would not put myself to the
trouble and expence of a further removal.

I think I have now communicated all the particulars relating to
Nice, that are worth knowing; and perhaps many more than you
desired to know: but, in such cases, I would rather be thought
prolix and unentertaining, than deficient in that regard and
attention with which I am very sincerely,--Your friend and
servant.

LETTER XXV

NICE, January 1, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--It was in deference to your opinion, reinforced by my
own inclination, and the repeated advice of other friends, that I
resolved upon my late excursion to Italy. I could plainly
perceive from the anxious solicitude, and pressing exhortations
contained in all the letters I had lately received from my
correspondents in Britain, that you had all despaired of my
recovery. You advised me to make a pilgrimage among the Alps, and
the advice was good. In scrambling among those mountains, I
should have benefited by the exercise, and at the same time have
breathed a cool, pure, salubrious air, which, in all probability,
would have expelled the slow fever arising in a great measure
from the heat of this climate. But, I wanted a companion and
fellow traveller, whose conversation and society could alleviate
the horrors of solitude. Besides, I was not strong enough to
encounter the want of conveniences, and even of necessaries to
which I must have been exposed in the course of such an
expedition. My worthy friend Dr. A-- earnestly intreated me to
try the effect of a sea-voyage, which you know has been found of
wonderful efficacy in consumptive cases. After some deliberation,
I resolved upon the scheme, which I have now happily executed. I
had a most eager curiosity to see the antiquities of Florence and
Rome: I longed impatiently to view those wonderful edifices,
statues, and pictures, which I had so often admired in prints and
descriptions. I felt an enthusiastic ardor to tread that very
classical ground which had been the scene of so many great
atchievements; and I could not bear the thought of returning to
England from the very skirts of Italy, without having penetrated
to the capital of that renowned country. With regard to my
health, I knew I could manage matters so as to enjoy all the
benefits that could be expected from the united energy of a
voyage by sea, a journey by land, and a change of climate.

Rome is betwixt four and five hundred miles distant from Nice,
and one half of the way I was resolved to travel by water. Indeed
there is no other way of going from hence to Genoa, unless you
take a mule, and clamber along the mountains at the rate of two
miles an hour, and at the risque of breaking your neck every
minute. The Apennine mountains, which are no other than a
continuation of the maritime Alps, form an almost continued
precipice from Villefranche to Lerici, which is almost forty-five
miles on the other side of Genoa; and as they are generally
washed by the sea, there is no beach or shore, consequently the
road is carried along the face of the rocks, except at certain
small intervals, which are occupied by towns and villages. But,
as there is a road for mules and foot passengers, it might
certainly be enlarged and improved so as to render it practicable
by chaises and other wheel-carriages, and a toll might be
exacted, which in a little time would defray the expence: for
certainly no person who travels to Italy, from England, Holland,
France, or Spain, would make a troublesome circuit to pass the
Alps by the way of Savoy and Piedmont, if he could have the
convenience of going post by the way of Aix, Antibes, and Nice,
along the side of the Mediterranean, and through the Riviera of
Genoa, which from the sea affords the most agreeable and amazing
prospect I ever beheld. What pity it is, they cannot restore the
celebrated Via Aurelia, mentioned in the Itinerarium of
Antoninus, which extended from Rome by the way of Genoa, and
through this country as far as Arles upon the Rhone. It was said
to have been made by the emperor Marcus Aurelius; and some of the
vestiges of it are still to be seen in Provence. The truth is,
the nobility of Genoa, who are all merchants, from a low,
selfish, and absurd policy, take all methods to keep their
subjects of the Riviera in poverty and dependence. With this
view, they carefully avoid all steps towards rendering that
country accessible by land; and at the same time discourage their
trade by sea, lest it should interfere with the commerce of their
capital, in which they themselves are personally concerned.

Those who either will not or cannot bear the sea, and are equally
averse to riding, may be carried in a common chair, provided with
a foot-board, on men's shoulders: this is the way of travelling
practised by the ladies of Nice, in crossing the mountains to
Turin; but it is very tedious and expensive, as the men must be
often relieved.

The most agreeable carriage from here to Genoa, is a feluca, or
open boat, rowed by ten or twelve stout mariners. Though none of
these boats belong to Nice, they are to be found every day in our
harbour, waiting for a fare to Genoa; and they are seen passing
and repassing continually, with merchandize or passengers,
between Marseilles, Antibes, and the Genoese territories. A
feluca is large enough to take in a post-chaise; and there is a
tilt over the stern sheets, where the passengers sit, to protect
them from the rain: between the seats one person may lie
commodiously upon a mattress, which is commonly supplied by the
patron. A man in good health may put up with any thing; but I
would advise every valetudinarian who travels this way, to
provide his own chaise, mattrass, and bedlinnen, otherwise he
will pass his time very uncomfortably. If you go as a simple
passenger in a feluca, you pay about a loui'dore for your place,
and you must be intirely under the direction of the patron, who,
while he can bear the sea, will prosecute his voyage by night as
well as by day, and expose you to many other inconveniencies: but
for eight zequines, or four loui'dores, you can have a whole
feluca to yourself, from Nice to Genoa, and the master shall be
obliged to put a-shore every evening. If you would have it still
more at your command, you may hire it at so much per day, and in
that case, go on shore as often, and stay as long as you please.
This is the method I should take, were I to make the voyage
again; for I am persuaded I should find it very near as cheap,
and much more agreeable than any other.

The distance between this place and Genoa, when measured on the
carte, does not exceed ninety miles: but the people of the
felucas insist upon its being one hundred and twenty. If they
creep along shore round the bottoms of all the bays, this
computation may be true: but, except when the sea is rough, they
stretch directly from one head-land to another, and even when the
wind is contrary, provided the gale is not fresh, they perform
the voyage in two days and a half, by dint of rowing: when the
wind is favourable, they will sail it easily in fourteen hours.

A man who has nothing but expedition in view, may go with the
courier, who has always a light boat well manned, and will be
glad to accommodate a traveller for a reasonable gratification. I
know an English gentleman who always travels with the courier in
Italy, both by sea and land. In posting by land, he is always
sure of having part of a good calash, and the best horses that
can be found; and as the expence of both is defrayed by the
public, it costs him nothing but a present to his companion,
which does not amount to one fourth part of the expence he would
incur by travelling alone. These opportunities may be had every
week in all the towns of Italy.

For my own part, I hired a gondola from hence to Genoa. This is a
boat smaller than a feluca, rowed by four men, and steered by the
patron; but the price was nine zequines, rather more than I
should have payed for a feluca of ten oars. I was assured that
being very light, it would make great way; and the master was
particularly recommended to me, as an honest man and an able
mariner. I was accompanied in this voyage by my wife and Miss C--,
together with one Mr. R--, a native of Nice, whom I treated
with the jaunt, in hopes that as he was acquainted with the
customs of the country, and the different ways of travelling in
it, he would save us much trouble, and some expence: but I was
much disappointed. Some persons at Nice offered to lay wagers
that he would return by himself from Italy; but they were also
disappointed.

We embarked in the beginning of September, attended by one
servant. The heats, which render travelling dangerous in Italy,
begin to abate at this season. The weather was extremely
agreeable; and if I had postponed my voyage a little longer, I
foresaw that I should not be able to return before winter: in
which case I might have found the sea too rough, and the weather
too cold for a voyage of one hundred and thirty-five miles in an
open boat.

Having therefore provided myself with a proper pass, signed and
sealed by our consul, as well as with letters of recommendation
from him to the English consuls at Genoa and Leghorn, a
precaution which I would advise all travellers to take, in case
of meeting with accidents on the road, we went on board about ten
in the morning, stopped about half an hour at a friend's country-house
in the bay of St. Hospice, and about noon entered the
harbour of Monaco, where the patron was obliged to pay toll,
according to the regulation which I have explained in a former
letter. This small town, containing about eight or nine hundred
souls, besides the garrison, is built on a rock which projects
into the sea, and makes a very romantic appearance. The prince's
palace stands in the most conspicuous part, with a walk of trees
before it. The apartments are elegantly furnished, and adorned
with some good pictures. The fortifications are in good repair,
and the place is garrisoned by two French battalions. The present
prince of Monaco is a Frenchman, son of the duke Matignon who
married the heiress of Monaco, whose name was Grimaldi. The
harbour is well sheltered from the wind; but has not water
sufficient to admit vessels of any great burthen. Towards the
north, the king of Sardinia's territories extend to within a mile
of the gate; but the prince of Monaco can go upon his own ground
along shore about five or six miles to the eastward, as far as
Menton, another small town, which also belongs to him, and is
situated on the seaside. His revenues are computed at a million
of French livres, amounting to something more than forty thousand
pounds sterling: but, the principality of Monaco, consisting of
three small towns, and an inconsiderable tract of barren rock, is
not worth above seven thousand a year; the rest arises from his
French estate. This consists partly of the dutchy of Matignon,
and partly of the dutchy of Valentinois, which last was given to
the ancestors of this prince of Monaco, in the year 1640, by the
French king, to make up the loss of some lands in the kingdom of
Naples, which were confiscated when he expelled the Spanish
garrison from Monaco, and threw himself into the arms of France:
so that he is duke of Valentinois as well as of Matignon, in that
kingdom. He lives almost constantly in France; and has taken the
name and arms of Grimaldi.

The Genoese territories begin at Ventimiglia, another town lying
on the coast, at the distance of twenty miles from Nice, a
circumstance from which it borrows the name. Having passed the
towns of Monaco, Menton, Ventimiglia, and several other places of
less consequence that lie along this coast, we turned the point
of St. Martin with a favourable breeze, and might have proceeded
twenty miles further before night: but the women began to be
sick, as well as afraid at the roughness of the water; Mr. R-- was
so discomposed, that he privately desired the patron to put
ashore at St. Remo, on pretence that we should not find a
tolerable auberge in any other place between this and Noli, which
was at the distance of forty miles. We accordingly landed, and
were conducted to the poste, which our gondeliere assured us was
the best auberge in the whole Riviera of Genoa. We ascended by a
dark, narrow, steep stair, into a kind of public room, with a
long table and benches, so dirty and miserable, that it would
disgrace the worst hedge ale-house in England. Not a soul
appeared to receive us. This is a ceremony one must not expect to
meet with in France; far less in Italy. Our patron going into the
kitchen, asked a servant if the company could have lodging in the
house; and was answered, "he could not tell: the patron was not
at home." When he desired to know where the patron was, the other
answered, "he was gone to take the air." E andato a passeggiare.
In the mean time, we were obliged to sit in the common room among
watermen and muleteers. At length the landlord arrived, and gave
us to understand, that he could accommodate us with chambers. In
that where I lay, there was just room for two beds, without
curtains or bedstead, an old rotten table covered with dried
figs, and a couple of crazy chairs. The walls had been once
white-washed: but were now hung with cobwebs, and speckled with
dirt of all sorts; and I believe the brick-floor had not been
swept for half a century. We supped in an outward room suitable
in all respects to the chamber, and fared villainously. The
provision was very ill-dressed, and served up in the most
slovenly manner. You must not expect cleanliness or conveniency
of any kind in this country. For this accommodation I payed as
much as if I had been elegantly entertained in the best auberge
of France or Italy.

Next day, the wind was so high that we could not prosecute our
voyage, so that we were obliged to pass other four and twenty
hours in this comfortable situation. Luckily Mr. R-- found two
acquaintances in the place; one a Franciscan monk, a jolly
fellow; and the other a maestro di capella, who sent a spinnet to
the inn, and entertained us agreeably with his voice and
performance, in both of which accomplishments he excelled. The
padre was very good humoured, and favoured us with a letter of
recommendation to a friend of his, a professor in the university
of Pisa. You would laugh to see the hyperbolical terms in which
he mentioned your humble servant; but Italy is the native country
of hyperbole.

St. Remo is a pretty considerable town, well-built upon the
declivity of a gently rising hill, and has a harbour capable of
receiving small vessels, a good number of which are built upon
the beach: but ships of any burden are obliged to anchor in the
bay, which is far from being secure. The people of St. Remo form
a small republic, which is subject to Genoa.

They enjoyed particular privileges, till the year 1753, when in
consequence of a new gabelle upon salt, they revolted: but this
effort in behalf of liberty did not succeed. They were soon
reduced by the Genoese, who deprived them of all their
privileges, and built a fort by the sea-side, which serves the
double purpose of defending the harbour and over-awing the town.
The garrison at present does not exceed two hundred men. The
inhabitants are said to have lately sent a deputation to
Ratisbon, to crave the protection of the diet of the empire.
There is very little plain ground in this neighbourhood; but the
hills are covered with oranges, lemons, pomegranates, and olives,
which produce a considerable traffic in fine fruit and excellent
oil. The women of St. Remo are much more handsome and better
tempered than those of Provence. They have in general good eyes,
with open ingenuous countenances. Their dress, though remarkable,
I cannot describe: but upon the whole, they put me in mind of
some portraits I have seen, representing the females of Georgia
and Mingrelia.

On the third day, the wind being abated, though still
unfavourable, we reimbarked and rowed along shore, passing by
Porto-mauricio, and Oneglia; then turning the promontory called
Capo di Melle, we proceeded by Albenga, Finale, and many other
places of inferior note. Portomauricio is seated on a rock washed
by the sea, but indifferently fortified, with an inconsiderable
harbour, which none but very small vessels can enter. About two
miles to the eastward is Oneglia, a small town with
fortifications, lying along the open beach, and belonging to the
king of Sardinia. This small territory abounds with olive-trees,
which produce a considerable quantity of oil, counted the best of
the whole Riviera. Albenga is a small town, the see of a bishop,
suffragan to the archbishop of Genoa. It lies upon the sea, and
the country produces a great quantity of hemp. Finale is the
capital of a marquisate belonging to the Genoese, which has been
the source of much trouble to the republic; and indeed was the
sole cause of their rupture with the king of Sardinia and the
house of Austria in the year 1745. The town is pretty well built;
but the harbour is shallow, open, and unsafe; nevertheless, they
built a good number of tartans and other vessels on the beach and
the neighbouring country abounds with oil and fruit, particularly
with those excellent apples called pomi carli, which I have
mentioned in a former letter.

In the evening we reached the Capo di Noli, counted very
dangerous in blowing weather. It is a very high perpendicular
rock or mountain washed by the sea, which has eaten into it in
divers places, so as to form a great number of caverns. It
extends about a couple of miles, and in some parts is indented
into little creeks or bays, where there is a narrow margin of
sandy beach between it and the water. When the wind is high, no
feluca will attempt to pass it; even in a moderate breeze, the
waves dashing against the rocks and caverns, which echo with the
sound, make such an awful noise, and at the same time occasion
such a rough sea, as one cannot hear, and see, and feel, without
a secret horror.

On this side of the Cape, there is a beautiful strand cultivated
like a garden; the plantations extend to the very tops of the
hills, interspersed with villages, castles, churches, and villas.
Indeed the whole Riviera is ornamented in the same manner, except
in such places as admit of no building nor cultivation.

Having passed the Cape, we followed the winding of the coast,
into a small bay, and arrived at the town of Noli, where we
proposed to pass the night. You will be surprised that we did not
go ashore sooner, in order to take some refreshment; but the
truth is, we had a provision of ham, tongues, roasted pullets,
cheese, bread, wine, and fruit, in the feluca, where we every day
enjoyed a slight repast about one or two o'clock in the
afternoon. This I mention as a necessary piece of information to
those who may be inclined to follow the same route. We likewise
found it convenient to lay in store of l'eau de vie, or brandy,
for the use of the rowers, who always expect to share your
comforts. On a meagre day, however, those ragamuffins will
rather die of hunger than suffer the least morsel of flesh-meat
to enter their mouths. I have frequently tried the experiment, by
pressing them to eat something gras, on a Friday or Saturday: but
they always declined it with marks of abhorrence, crying, Dio me
ne libere! God deliver me from it! or some other words to that
effect. I moreover observed, that not one of those fellows ever
swore an oath, or spoke an indecent word. They would by no means
put to sea, of a morning, before they had heard mass; and when
the wind was unfavourable, they always set out with a hymn to the
Blessed Virgin, or St. Elmo, keeping time with their oars as they
sung. I have indeed remarked all over this country, that a man
who transgresses the institutions of the church in these small
matters, is much more infamous than one who has committed the
most flagrant crimes against nature and morality. A murderer,
adulterer, or s--m--te, will obtain easy absolution from the
church, and even find favour with society; but a man who eats a
pidgeon on a Saturday, without express licence, is avoided and
abhorred, as a monster of reprobation. I have conversed with
several intelligent persons on the subject; and have reason to
believe, that a delinquent of this sort is considered as a luke-warm
catholic, little better than a heretic; and of all crimes
they look upon heresy as the most damnable.

Noli is a small republic of fishermen subject to Genoa; but very
tenacious of their privileges. The town stands on the beach,
tolerably well built, defended by a castle situated on a rock
above it; and the harbour is of little consequence. The auberge
was such as made us regret even the inn we had left at St. Remo.
After a very odd kind of supper, which I cannot pretend to
describe, we retired to our repose: but I had not been in bed
five minutes, when I felt something crawling on different parts
of my body, and taking a light to examine, perceived above a
dozen large bugs. You must know I have the same kind of antipathy
to these vermin, that some persons have to a cat or breast of
veal. I started up immediately, and wrapping myself in a great
coat, sick as I was, laid down in the outer room upon a chest,
where I continued till morning.

One would imagine that in a mountainous country like this, there
should be plenty of goats; and indeed, we saw many flocks of them
feeding among the rocks, yet we could not procure half a pint of
milk for our tea, if we had given the weight of it in gold. The
people here have no idea of using milk, and when you ask them for
it, they stand gaping with a foolish face of surprise, which is
exceedingly provoking. It is amazing that instinct does not teach
the peasants to feed their children with goat's milk, so much
more nourishing and agreeable than the wretched sustenance on
which they live. Next day we rowed by Vado and Savona, which last
is a large town, with a strong citadel, and a harbour, which was
formerly capable of receiving large ships: but it fell a
sacrifice to the jealousy of the Genoese, who have partly choaked
it up, on pretence that it should not afford shelter to the ships
of war belonging to those states which might be at enmity with
the republic.

Then we passed Albifola, Sestri di Ponente, Novi, Voltri, and a
great number of villages, villas, and magnificent palaces
belonging to the Genoese nobility, which form almost a continued
chain of buildings along the strand for thirty miles.

About five in the afternoon, we skirted the fine suburbs of St.
Pietro d' Arena, and arrived at Genoa, which makes a dazzling
appearance when viewed from the sea, rising like an amphitheatre
in a circular form from the water's edge, a considerable way up
the mountains, and surrounded on the land side by a double wall,
the most exterior of which is said to extend fifteen miles in
circuit. The first object that strikes your eye at a distance, is
a very elegant pharos, or lighthouse, built on the projection of
a rock on the west side of the harbour, so very high, that, in a
clear day, you may see it at the distance of thirty miles.
Turning the light-house point, you find yourself close to the
mole, which forms the harbour of Genoa. It is built at a great
expence from each side of the bay, so as to form in the sea two
long magnificent jettes. At the extremity of each is another
smaller lanthorn. These moles are both provided with brass-cannon,
and between them is the entrance into the harbour. But
this is still so wide as to admit a great sea, which, when the
wind blows hard from south and south-west, is very troublesome to
the shipping. Within the mole there is a smaller harbour or wet
dock, called Darsena, for the gallies of the republic. We passed
through a considerable number of ships and vessels lying at
anchor, and landing at the water-gate, repaired to an inn called
La Croix de Malthe in the neighbourhood of the harbour. Here we
met with such good entertainment as prepossessed us in favour of
the interior parts of Italy, and contributed with other motives
to detain us some days in this city. But I have detained you so
long, that I believe you wish I may proceed no farther; and
therefore I take my leave for the present, being very sincerely--
Yours.

LETTER XXVI

NICE, January 15, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--It is not without reason that Genoa is called La
superba. The city itself is very stately; and the nobles are very
proud. Some few of them may be proud of their wealth: but, in
general, their fortunes are very small. My friend Mr. R-- assured
me that many Genoese noblemen had fortunes of half a million of
livres per annum: but the truth is, the whole revenue of the
state does not exceed this sum; and the livre of Genoa is but
about nine pence sterling. There are about half a dozen of their
nobles who have ten thousand a year: but the majority have not
above a twentieth part of that sum. They live with great
parsimony in their families; and wear nothing but black in
public; so that their expences are but small. If a Genoese
nobleman gives an entertainment once a quarter, he is said to
live upon the fragments all the rest of the year. I was told that
one of them lately treated his friends, and left the
entertainment to the care of his son, who ordered a dish of fish
that cost a zechine, which is equal to about ten shillings
sterling. The old gentleman no sooner saw it appear on the table,
than unable to suppress his concern, he burst into tears, and
exclaimed, Ah Figliuolo indegno! Siamo in Rovina! Siamo in
precipizio! Ah, Prodigal! ruined! undone!

I think the pride or ostentation of the Italians in general takes
a more laudable turn than that of other nations. A Frenchman lays
out his whole revenue upon tawdry suits of cloaths, or in
furnishing a magnificent repas of fifty or a hundred dishes, one
half of which are not eatable nor intended to be eaten. His
wardrobe goes to the fripier; his dishes to the dogs, and himself
to the devil, and after his decease no vestige of him remains. A
Genoese, on the other hand, keeps himself and his family at short
allowance, that he may save money to build palaces and churches,
which remain to after-ages so many monuments of his taste, piety,
and munificence; and in the mean time give employment and bread
to the poor and industrious. There are some Genoese nobles who
have each five or six elegant palaces magnificently furnished,
either in the city, or in different parts of the Riviera. The two
streets called Strada Balbi and Strada Nuova, are continued
double ranges of palaces adorned with gardens and fountains: but
their being painted on the outside has, in my opinion, a poor
effect.

The commerce of this city is, at present, not very considerable;
yet it has the face of business. The streets are crowded with
people; the shops are well furnished; and the markets abound with
all sorts of excellent provision. The wine made in this
neighbourhood is, however, very indifferent; and all that is
consumed must be bought at the public cantine, where it is sold
for the benefit of the state. Their bread is the whitest and the
best I have tasted any where; and the beef, which they have from
Piedmont, is juicy and delicious. The expence of eating in Italy
is nearly the same as in France, about three shillings a head for
every meal. The state of Genoa is very poor, and their bank of
St. George has received such rude shocks, first from the revolt
of the Corsicans, and afterwards from the misfortunes of the
city, when it was taken by the Austrians in the war of 1745, that
it still continues to languish without any near prospect of its
credit being restored. Nothing shews the weakness of their state,
more than their having recourse to the assistance of France to
put a stop to the progress of Paoli in Corsica; for after all
that has been said of the gallantry and courage of Paoli and his
islanders, I am very credibly informed that they might be very
easily suppressed, if the Genoese had either vigour in the council
or resolution in the field.

True it is, they made a noble effort in expelling the Austrians
who had taken possession of their city; but this effort was the
effect of oppression and despair, and if I may believe the
insinuations of some politicians in this part of the world, the
Genoese would not have succeeded in that attempt, if they had not
previously purchased with a large sum of money the connivance of
the only person who could defeat the enterprize. For my own part,
I can scarce entertain thoughts so prejudicial to the character
of human nature, as to suppose a man capable of sacrificing to
such a consideration, the duty he owed his prince, as well as all
regard to the lives of his soldiers, even those who lay sick in
hospitals, and who, being dragged forth, were miserably butchered
by the furious populace. There is one more presumption of his
innocence, he still retains the favour of his sovereign, who
could not well be supposed to share in the booty. "There are
mysteries in politics which were never dreamed of in our
philosophy, Horatio!" The possession of Genoa might have proved a
troublesome bone of contention, which it might be convenient to
lose by accident. Certain it is, when the Austrians returned
after their expulsion, in order to retake the city, the engineer,
being questioned by the general, declared he would take the place
in fifteen days, on pain of losing his head; and in four days
after this declaration the Austrians retired. This anecdote I
learned from a worthy gentleman of this country, who had it from
the engineer's own mouth. Perhaps it was the will of heaven. You
see how favourably, providence has interposed in behalf of the
reigning empress of Russia, first in removing her husband:
secondly in ordaining the assassination of prince Ivan, for which
the perpetrators have been so liberally rewarded; it even seems
determined to shorten the life of her own son, the only surviving
rival from whom she had any thing to fear.

The Genoese have now thrown themselves into the arms of France
for protection: I know not whether it would not have been a
greater mark of sagacity to cultivate the friendship of England,
with which they carry on an advantageous commerce. While the
English are masters of the Mediterranean, they will always have
it in their power to do incredible damage all along the Riviera,
to ruin the Genoese trade by sea, and even to annoy the capital;
for notwithstanding all the pains they have taken to fortify the
mole and the city, I am greatly deceived if it is not still
exposed to the danger, not only of a bombardment, but even of a
cannonade. I am even sanguine enough to think a resolute
commander might, with a strong squadron, sail directly into the
harbour, without sustaining much damage, notwithstanding all the
cannon of the place, which are said to amount to near five
hundred. I have seen a cannonade of above four hundred pieces of
artillery, besides bombs and cohorns, maintained for many hours,
without doing much mischief.

During the last siege of Genoa, the French auxiliaries were
obliged to wait at Monaco, until a gale of wind had driven the
English squadron off the coast, and then they went along shore in
small vessels at the imminent risque of being taken by the
British cruisers. By land I apprehend their march would be
altogether impracticable, if the king of Sardinia had any
interest to oppose it. He might either guard the passes, or break
up the road in twenty different places, so as to render it
altogether impassable. Here it may not be amiss to observe, that
when Don Philip advanced from Nice with his army to Genoa, he was
obliged to march so close to the shore, that in above fifty
different places, the English ships might have rendered the road
altogether impassable. The path, which runs generally along the
face of a precipice washed by the sea, is so narrow that two men
on horseback can hardly pass each other; and the road itself so
rugged, slippery, and dangerous, that the troopers were obliged
to dismount, and lead their horses one by one. On the other hand,
baron de Leutrum, who was at the head of a large body of
Piedmontese troops, had it in his power to block up the passes of
the mountains, and even to destroy this road in such a manner,
that the enemy could not possibly advance. Why these precautions
were not taken, I do not pretend to explain: neither can I tell
you wherefore the prince of Monaco, who is a subject and partizan
of France, was indulged with a neutrality for his town, which
served as a refreshing-place, a safe port, and an intermediate
post for the French succours sent from Marseilles to Genoa. This
I will only venture to affirm, that the success and advantage of
great alliances are often sacrificed to low, partial, selfish,
and sordid considerations. The town of Monaco is commanded by
every heighth in its neighbourhood; and might be laid in ashes by
a bomb-ketch in four hours by sea.

I was fortunate enough to be recommended to a lady in Genoa, who
treated us with great politeness and hospitality. She introduced
me to an abbate, a man of letters, whose conversation was
extremely agreeable. He already knew me by reputation, and
offered to make me known to some of the first persons in the
republic, with whom he lived in intimacy. The lady is one of the
most intelligent and best-bred persons I have known in any
country. We assisted at her conversazione, which was numerous.
She pressed us to pass the winter at Genoa; and indeed I was
almost persuaded: but I had attachments at Nice, from which I
could not easily disengage myself.

The few days we staved at Genoa were employed in visiting the
most remarkable churches and palaces. In some of the churches,
particularly that of the Annunciata, I found a profusion of
ornaments, which had more magnificence than taste. There is a
great number of pictures; but very few of them are capital
pieces. I had heard much of the ponte Carignano, which did not at
all answer my expectation. It is a bridge that unites two
eminences which form the
higher part of the city, and the houses in the bottom below do
not rise so high as the springing of its arches. There is nothing
at all curious in its construction, nor any way remarkable,
except the heighth of the piers from which the arches are sprung.
Hard by the bridge there is an elegant church, from the top of
which you have a very rich and extensive prospect of the city,
the sea and the adjacent country, which looks like a continent of
groves and villas. The only remarkable circumstance about the
cathedral, which is Gothic and gloomy, is the chapel where the
pretended bones of John the Baptist are deposited, and in which
thirty silver lamps are continually burning. I had a curiosity to
see the palaces of Durazzo and Doria, but it required more
trouble to procure admission than I was willing to give myself:
as for the arsenal, and the rostrum of an ancient galley which
was found by accident in dragging the harbour, I postponed seeing
them till my return.

Having here provided myself with letters of credit for Florence
and Rome, I hired the same boat which had brought us hither, to
carry us forward to Lerici, which is a small town about half way
between Genoa and Leghorn, where travellers, who are tired of the
sea, take post-chaises to continue their route by land to Pisa
and Florence. I payed three loui'dores for this voyage of about
fifty miles; though I might have had a feluca for less money.
When you land on the wharf at Genoa, you are plied by the feluca
men just as you are plied by the watermen at Hungerford-stairs in
London. They are always ready to set off at a minute's warning
for Lerici, Leghorn, Nice, Antibes, Marseilles, and every part of
the Riviera.

The wind being still unfavourable, though the weather was
delightful, we rowed along shore, passing by several pretty
towns, villages, and a vast number of cassines, or little white
houses, scattered among woods of olive-trees, that cover the
hills; and these are the habitations of the velvet and damask
weavers. Turning Capo Fino we entered a bay, where stand the
towns of Porto Fino, Lavagna, and Sestri di Levante, at which
last we took up our night's lodging. The house was tolerable, and
we had no great reason to complain of the beds: but, the weather
being hot, there was a very offensive smell, which proceeded from
some skins of beasts new killed, that were spread to dry on an
outhouse in the yard. Our landlord was a butcher, and had very
much the looks of an assassin. His wife was a great masculine
virago, who had all the air of having frequented the slaughter-house.
Instead of being welcomed with looks of complaisance, we
were admitted with a sort of gloomy condescension, which seemed
to say, "We don't much like your company; but, however, you shall
have a night's lodging in favour of the patron of the gondola,
who is our acquaintance." In short, we had a very bad supper,
miserably dressed, passed a very disagreeable night, and payed a
very extravagant bill in the morning, without being thanked for
our custom. I was very glad to get out of the house with my
throat uncut.

Sestri di Levante is a little town pleasantly situated on the
seaside; but has not the conveniency of a harbour. The fish taken
here is mostly carried to Genoa. This is likewise the market for
their oil, and the paste called macaroni, of which they make a
good quantity.

Next day, we skirted a very barren coast, consisting of almost
perpendicular rocks, on the faces of which, however, we saw many
peasants' houses and hanging terraces for vines, made by dint of
incredible labour. In the afternoon, we entered by the Porti di
Venere into the bay, or gulf of Spetia or Spezza, which was the
Portus Lunae of the ancients. This bay, at the mouth of which
lies the island Palmaria, forms a most noble and secure harbour,
capacious enough to contain all the navies in Christendom. The
entrance on one side is defended by a small fort built above the
town of Porto Venere, which is a very poor place. Farther in
there is a battery of about twenty guns; and on the right hand,
opposite to Porto Venere, is a block-house, founded on a rock in
the sea. At the bottom of the bay is the town of Spetia on the
left, and on the right that of Lerici, defended by a castle of
very little strength or consequence. The whole bay is surrounded
with plantations of olives and oranges, and makes a very
delightful appearance. In case of a war, this would be an
admirable station for a British squadron, as it lies so near
Genoa and Leghorn; and has a double entrance, by means of which
the cruisers could sail in and out continually, which way soever
the wind might chance to sit. I am sure the fortifications would
give very little disturbance.

At the post-house in Lerici, the accommodation is intolerable. We
were almost poisoned at supper. I found the place where I was to
lie so close and confined, that I could not breathe in it, and
therefore lay all night in an outward room upon four chairs, with
a leather portmanteau for my pillow. For this entertainment I
payed very near a loui'dore. Such bad accommodation is the less
excusable, as the fellow has a great deal of business, this being
a great thoroughfare for travellers going into Italy, or
returning from thence.

I might have saved some money by prosecuting my voyage directly
by sea to Leghorn: but, by this time, we were all heartily tired
of the water, the business then was to travel by land to
Florence, by the way of Pisa, which is seven posts distant from
Lerici. Those who have not their own carriage must either hire
chaises to perform the whole journey, or travel by way of
cambiatura, which is that of changing the chaises every post, as
the custom is in England. In this case the great inconvenience
arises from your being obliged to shift your baggage every post.
The chaise or calesse of this country, is a wretched machine with
two wheels, as uneasy as a common cart, being indeed no other
than what we should call in England a very ill-contrived one-horse
chair, narrow, naked, shattered and shabby. For this
vehicle and two horses you pay at the rate of eight paoli a
stage, or four shillings sterling; and the postilion expects two
paoli for his gratification: so that every eight miles cost about
five shillings, and four only, if you travel in your own
carriage, as in that case you pay no more than at the rate of
three paoli a horse.

About three miles from Lerici, we crossed the Magra, which
appeared as a rivulet almost dry, and in half a mile farther
arrived at Sarzana, a small town at the extremity of the Genoese
territories, where we changed horses. Then entering the
principalities of Massa and Carrara, belonging to the duke of
Modena, we passed Lavenza, which seems to be a decayed fort with
a small garrison, and dined at Massa, which is an agreeable
little town, where the old dutchess of Modena resides.
Notwithstanding all the expedition we could make, it was dark
before we passed the Cerchio, which is an inconsiderable stream
in the neighbourhood of Pisa, where we arrived about eight in the
evening.

The country from Sarzana to the frontiers of Tuscany is a narrow
plain, bounded on the right by the sea, and on the left by the
Apennine mountains. It is well cultivated and inclosed,
consisting of meadow-ground, corn fields, plantations of olives;
and the trees that form the hedge-rows serve as so many props to
the vines, which are twisted round them, and continued from one
to another. After entering the dominions of Tuscany, we travelled
through a noble forest of oak-trees of a considerable extent,
which would have appeared much more agreeable, had we not been
benighted and apprehensive of robbers. The last post but one in
this days journey, is at the little town of Viareggio, a kind of
sea-port on the Mediterranean, belonging to Lucia. The roads are
indifferent, and the accommodation is execrable. I was glad to
find myself housed in a very good inn at Pisa, where I promised
myself a good night's rest, and was not disappointed. I heartily
wish you the same pleasure, and am very sincerely--Yours.

LETTER XXVII

NICE, January 28, 1765.

DEAR SIR,--Pisa is a fine old city that strikes you with the same
veneration you would feel at sight of an antient temple which
bears the marks of decay, without being absolutely dilapidated.
The houses are well built, the streets open, straight, and well
paved; the shops well furnished; and the markets well supplied:
there are some elegant palaces, designed by great masters. The
churches are built with taste, and tolerably ornamented. There is
a beautiful wharf of freestone on each side of the river Arno,
which runs through the city, and three bridges thrown over it, of
which that in the middle is of marble, a pretty piece of
architecture: but the number of inhabitants is very
inconsiderable; and this very circumstance gives it an air of
majestic solitude, which is far from being unpleasant to a man of
a contemplative turn of mind. For my part, I cannot bear the
tumult of a populous commercial city; and the solitude that
reigns in Pisa would with me be a strong motive to choose it as a
place of residence. Not that this would be the only inducement
for living at Pisa. Here is some good company, and even a few men
of taste and learning. The people in general are counted sociable
and polite; and there is great plenty of provisions, at a very
reasonable rate. At some distance from the more frequented parts
of the city, a man may hire a large house for thirty crowns a
year: but near the center, you cannot have good lodgings, ready
furnished, for less than a scudo (about five shillings) a day.
The air in summer is reckoned unwholesome by the exhalations
arising from stagnant water in the neighbourhood of the city,
which stands in the midst of a fertile plain, low and marshy: yet
these marshes have been considerably drained, and the air is much
meliorated. As for the Arno, it is no longer navigated by vessels
of any burthen. The university of Pisa is very much decayed; and
except the little business occasioned by the emperor's gallies,
which are built in this town, [This is a mistake. No gallies have
been built here for a great many years, and the dock is now
converted into stables for the Grand Duke's Horse Guards.] I know
of no commerce it carried on: perhaps the inhabitants live on the
produce of the country, which consists of corn, wine, and cattle.
They are supplied with excellent water for drinking, by an
aqueduct consisting of above five thousand arches, begun by
Cosmo, and finished by Ferdinand I. Grand-dukes of Tuscany; it
conveys the water from the mountains at the distance of five
miles. This noble city, formerly the capital of a flourishing and
powerful republic, which contained above one hundred and fifty
thousand inhabitants, within its walls, is now so desolate that
grass grows in the open streets; and the number of its people do
not exceed sixteen thousand.

You need not doubt but I visited the Campanile, or hanging-tower,
which is a beautiful cylinder of eight stories, each adorned with
a round of columns, rising one above another. It stands by the
cathedral, and inclines so far on one side from the
perpendicular, that in dropping a plummet from the top, which is
one hundred and eighty-eight feet high, it falls sixteen feet
from the base. For my part, I should never have dreamed that this
inclination proceeded from any other cause, than an accidental
subsidence of the foundation on this side, if some connoisseurs
had not taken great pains to prove it was done on purpose by the
architect. Any person who has eyes may see that the pillars on
that side are considerably sunk; and this is the case with the
very threshold of the door by which you enter. I think it would
have been a very preposterous ambition in the architects, to show
how far they could deviate from the perpendicular in this
construction; because in that particular any common mason could
have rivalled them; [All the world knows that a Building with
such Inclination may be carried up till a line drawn from the
Centre of Gravity falls without the Circumference of the Base.]
and if they really intended it as a specimen of their art, they
should have shortened the pilasters on that side, so as to
exhibit them intire, without the appearance of sinking. These
leaning towers are not unfrequent in Italy; there is one at
Bologna, another at Venice, a third betwixt Venice and Ferrara,
and a fourth at Ravenna; and the inclination in all of them has
been supposed owing to the foundations giving way on one side
only.

In the cathedral, which is a large Gothic pile, [This Edifice is
not absolutely Gothic. It was built in the Twelfth Century after
the Design of a Greek Architect from Constantinople, where by
that time the art was much degenerated. The Pillars of Granite
are mostly from the Islands of Ebba and Giglia on the coast of
Tuscany, where those quarries were worked by the antient Romans.
The Giullo, and the verde antico are very beautiful species of
marble, yellow and green; the first, antiently called marmor
numidicum, came from Africa; the other was found (according to
Strabo) on the mons Taygetus in Lacedemonia: but, at present,
neither the one nor the other is to be had except among the ruins
of antiquity.] there is a great number of massy pillars of
porphyry, granite, jasper, giullo, and verde antico, together
with some good pictures and statues: but the greatest curiosity
is that of the brass-gates, designed and executed by John of
Bologna, representing, embossed in different compartments, the
history of the Old and New Testament. I was so charmed with this
work, that I could have stood a whole day to examine and admire
it. In the Baptisterium, which stands opposite to this front,
there are some beautiful marbles, particularly the font, and a
pulpit, supported by the statues of different animals.

Between the cathedral and this building, about one hundred paces
on one side, is the famous burying-ground, called Campo Santo,
from its being covered with earth brought from Jerusalem. It is
an oblong square, surrounded by a very high wall, and always kept
shut. Within-side there is a spacious corridore round the whole
space, which is a noble walk for a contemplative philosopher. It
is paved chiefly with flat grave-stones: the walls are painted in
fresco by Ghiotto, Giottino, Stefano, Bennoti, Bufalmaco, and
some others of his cotemporaries and disciples, who flourished
immediately after the restoration of painting. The subjects are
taken from the Bible. Though the manner is dry, the drawing
incorrect, the design generally lame, and the colouring
unnatural; yet there is merit in the expression: and the whole
remains as a curious monument of the efforts made by this noble
art immediately after her revival. [The History of Job by Giotto
is much admired.] Here are some deceptions in perspective equally
ingenious and pleasing; particularly the figures of certain
animals, which exhibit exactly the same appearance, from whatever
different points of view they are seen. One division of the
burying-ground consists of a particular compost, which in nine
days consumes the dead bodies to the bones: in all probability,
it is no other than common earth mixed with quick-lime. At one
corner of the corridore, there are the pictures of three bodies
represented in the three different stages of putrefaction which
they undergo when laid in this composition. At the end of the
three first days, the body is bloated and swelled, and the
features are enlarged and distorted to such a degree, as fills
the spectator with horror. At the sixth day, the swelling is
subsided, and all the muscular flesh hangs loosened from the
bones: at the ninth, nothing but the skeleton remains. There is a
small neat chapel at one end of the Campo Santo, with some tombs,
on one of which is a beautiful bust by Buona Roti. [Here is a
sumptuous cenotaph erected by Pope Gregory XIII. to the memory of
his brother Giovanni Buoncampagni. It is called the Monumentum
Gregorianum, of a violet-coloured marble from Scravezza in this
neighbourhood, adorned with a couple of columns of Touchstone,
and two beautiful spherical plates of Alabaster.] At the other
end of the corridore, there is a range of antient sepulchral
stones ornamented with basso-relievo brought hither from
different parts by the Pisan Fleets in the course of their
expeditions. I was struck with the figure of a woman lying dead
on a tomb-stone, covered with a piece of thin drapery, so
delicately cut as to shew all the flexures of the attitude, and
even all the swellings and sinuosities of the muscles. Instead of
stone, it looks like a sheet of wet linen. [One of these
antiquities representing the Hunting of Meleager was converted
into a coffin for the Countess Beatrice, mother of the famous
Countess Mathilda; it is now fixed to the outside of the church
wall just by one of the doors, and is a very elegant piece of
sculpture. Near the same place is a fine pillar of Porphyry
supporting the figure of a Lion, and a kind of urn which seems to
be a Sarcophagus, though an inscription round the Base declares
it is a Talentum in which the antient Pisans measured the Census
or Tax which they payed to Augustus: but in what metal or specie
this Census was payed we are left to divine. There are likewise
in the Campo Santo two antique Latin edicts of the Pisan Senate
injoining the citizens to go into mourning for the Death of Caius
and Lucius Caesar the Sons of Agrippa, and heirs declared of the
Emperor. Fronting this Cemetery, on the other side of the Piazza
of the Dome, is a large, elegant Hospital in which the sick are
conveniently and comfortably lodged, entertained, and attended.]

For four zechines I hired a return-coach and four from Pisa to
Florence. This road, which lies along the Arno, is very good; and
the country is delightful, variegated with hill and vale, wood
and water, meadows and corn-fields, planted and inclosed like the
counties of Middlesex and Hampshire; with this difference,
however, that all the trees in this tract were covered with
vines, and the ripe clusters black and white, hung down from
every bough in a most luxuriant and romantic abundance. The vines
in this country are not planted in rows, and propped with sticks,
as in France and the county of Nice, but twine around the hedge-
row trees, which they almost quite cover with their foliage and
fruit. The branches of the vine are extended from tree to tree,
exhibiting beautiful festoons of real leaves, tendrils, and
swelling clusters a foot long. By this oeconomy the ground of the
inclosure is spared for corn, grass, or any other production. The
trees commonly planted for the purpose of sustaining the vines,
are maple, elm, and aller, with which last the banks of the Arno
abound. [It would have been still more for the advantage of the
Country and the Prospect, if instead of these they had planted
fruit trees for the purpose.] This river, which is very
inconsiderable with respect to the quantity of water, would be a
charming pastoral stream, if it was transparent; but it is always
muddy and discoloured. About ten or a dozen miles below Florence,
there are some marble quarries on the side of it, from whence the
blocks are conveyed in boats, when there is water enough in the
river to float them, that is after heavy rains, or the melting of
the snow upon the mountains of Umbria, being part of the
Apennines, from whence it takes its rise.

Florence is a noble city, that still retains all the marks of a
majestic capital, such as piazzas, palaces, fountains, bridges,
statues, and arcades. I need not te11 you that the churches here
are magnificent, and adorned not only with pillars of oriental
granite, porphyry, Jasper, verde antico, and other precious
stones; but also with capital pieces of painting by the most
eminent masters. Several of these churches, however, stand
without fronts, for want of money to complete the plans. It may
also appear superfluous to mention my having viewed the famous
gallery of antiquities, the chapel of St. Lorenzo, the palace of
Pitti, the cathedral, the baptisterium, Ponte de Trinita, with
its statues, the triumphal arch, and every thing which is
commonly visited in this metropolis. But all these objects having
been circumstantially described by twenty different authors of
travels, I shall not trouble you with a repetition of trite
observations.

That part of the city which stands on each side of the river,
makes a very elegant appearance, to which the four bridges and
the stone-quay between them, contribute in a great measure. I
lodged at the widow Vanini's, an English house delightfully
situated in this quarter. The landlady, who is herself a native
of England, we found very obliging. The lodging-rooms are
comfortable; and the entertainment is good and reasonable. There
is a considerable number of fashionable people at Florence, and
many of them in good circumstances. They affect a gaiety in their
dress, equipage, and conversation; but stand very much on their
punctilio with strangers; and will not, without great reluctance,
admit into their assemblies any lady of another country, whose
noblesse is not ascertained by a title. This reserve is in some
measure excusable among a people who are extremely ignorant of
foreign customs, and who know that in their own country, every
person, even the most insignificant, who has any pretensions to
family, either inherits, or assumes the title of principe, conte,
or marchese.

With all their pride, however, the nobles of Florence are humble
enough to enter into partnership with shop-keepers, and even to
sell wine by retail. It is an undoubted fact, that in every
palace or great house in this city, there is a little window
fronting the street, provided with an iron-knocker, and over it
hangs an empty flask, by way of sign-post. Thither you send your
servant to buy a bottle of wine. He knocks at the little wicket,
which is opened immediately by a domestic, who supplies him with
what he wants, and receives the money like the waiter of any
other cabaret. It is pretty extraordinary, that it should not be
deemed a disparagement in a nobleman to sell half a pound of
figs, or a palm of ribbon or tape, or to take money for a flask
of sour wine; and yet be counted infamous to match his daughter
in the family of a person who has distinguished himself in any
one of the learned professions.

Though Florence be tolerably populous, there seems to be very
little trade of any kind in it: but the inhabitants flatter
themselves with the prospect of reaping great advantage from the
residence of one of the arch-dukes, for whose reception they are
now repairing the palace of Pitti. I know not what the revenues
of Tuscany may amount to, since the succession of the princes of
Lorraine; but, under the last dukes of the Medici family, they
were said to produce two millions of crowns, equal to five
hundred thousand pounds sterling. These arose from a very heavy
tax upon land and houses, the portions of maidens, and suits at
law, besides the duties upon traffick, a severe gabelle upon the
necessaries of life, and a toll upon every eatable entered into
this capital. If we may believe Leti, the grand duke was then
able to raise and maintain an army of forty thousand infantry,
and three thousand horse; with twelve gallies, two galeasses, and
twenty ships of war. I question if Tuscany can maintain at
present above one half of such an armament. He that now commands
the emperor's navy, consisting of a few frigates, is an
Englishman, called Acton, who was heretofore captain of a ship in
our East India company's service. He has lately embraced the
catholic religion, and been created admiral of Tuscany.

There is a tolerable opera in Florence for the entertainment of
the best company, though they do not seem very attentive to the
musick. Italy is certainly the native country of this art; and
yet, I do not find the people in general either more musically
inclined, or better provided with ears than their neighbours.
Here is also a wretched troop of comedians for the burgeois, and
lower class of people: but what seems most to suit the taste of
all ranks, is the exhibition of church pageantry. I had occasion
to see a procession, where all the noblesse of the city attended
in their coaches, which filled the whole length of the great
street called the Corso. It was the anniversary of a charitable
institution in favour of poor maidens, a certain number of whom
are portioned every year. About two hundred of these virgins
walked in procession, two and two together, cloathed in violet-coloured
wide gowns, with white veils on their heads, and made a
very classical appearance. They were preceded and followed by an
irregular mob of penitents in sack-cloth, with lighted tapers,
and monks carrying crucifixes, bawling and bellowing the
litanies: but the great object was a figure of the Virgin Mary,
as big as the life, standing within a gilt frame, dressed in a
gold stuff, with a large hoop, a great quantity of false jewels,
her face painted and patched, and her hair frizzled and curled in
the very extremity of the fashion. Very little regard had
been paid to the image of our Saviour on the cross; but when his
lady-mother appeared on the shoulders of three or four lusty
friars, the whole populace fell upon their knees in the dirt.
This extraordinary veneration paid to the Virgin, must have been
derived originally from the French, who pique themselves on their
gallantry to the fair sex.

Amidst all the scenery of the Roman catholic religion, I have
never yet seen any of the spectators affected at heart, or
discover the least signs of fanaticism. The very disciplinants,
who scourge themselves in the Holy-week, are generally peasants
or parties hired for the purpose. Those of the confrairies, who
have an ambition to distinguish themselves on such occasions,
take care to secure their backs from the smart, by means of
secret armour, either women's boddice, or quilted jackets. The
confrairies are fraternities of devotees, who inlist themselves
under the banners of particular saints. On days of procession
they appear in a body dressed as penitents and masked, and
distinguished by crosses on their habits. There is scarce an
individual, whether noble or plebeian, who does not belong to one
of these associations, which may be compared to the FreeMasons,
Gregoreans, and Antigallicans of England.

Just without one of the gates of Florence, there is a triumphal
arch erected on occasion of the late emperor's making his public
entry, when he succeeded to the dukedom of Tuscany: and herein
the summer evenings, the quality resort to take the air in their
coaches. Every carriage stops, and forms a little separate
conversazione. The ladies sit within, and the cicisbei stand on
the foot-boards, on each side of the coach, entertaining them
with their discourse. It would be no unpleasant inquiry to trace
this sort of gallantry to its original, and investigate all its
progress. The Italians, having been accused of jealousy, were
resolved to wipe off the reproach, and, seeking to avoid it for
the future, have run into the other extreme. I know it is
generally supposed that the custom of choosing cicisbei, was
calculated to prevent the extinction of families, which would
otherwise often happen in consequence of marriages founded upon
interest, without any mutual affection in the contracting
parties. How far this political consideration may have weighed
against the jealous and vindictive temper of the Italians, I will
not pretend to judge: but, certain it is, every married lady in
this country has her cicisbeo, or servente, who attends her every
where, and on all occasions; and upon whose privileges the
husband dares not encroach, without incurring the censure and
ridicule of the whole community. For my part, I would rather be
condemned for life to the gallies, than exercise the office of a
cicisbeo, exposed to the intolerable caprices and dangerous
resentment of an Italian virago. I pretend not to judge of the
national character, from my own observation: but, if the
portraits drawn by Goldoni in his Comedies are taken from nature,
I would not hesitate to pronounce the Italian women the most
haughty, insolent, capricious, and revengeful females on the face
of the earth. Indeed their resentments are so cruelly implacable,
and contain such a mixture of perfidy, that, in my opinion, they
are very unfit subjects for comedy, whose province it is, rather
to ridicule folly than to stigmatize such atrocious vice.

You have often heard it said, that the purity of the Italian is
to be found in the lingua Toscana, and bocca Romana. Certain it
is, the pronunciation of the Tuscans is disagreeably guttural:
the letters C and G they pronounce with an aspiration, which
hurts the ear of an Englishman; and is I think rather rougher
than that of the X, in Spanish. It sounds as if the speaker had
lost his palate. I really imagined the first man I heard speak in
Pisa, had met with that misfortune in the course of his amours.

One of the greatest curiosities you meet with in Italy, is the
Improvisatore; such is the name given to certain individuals, who
have the surprising talent of reciting verses extempore, on any
subject you propose. Mr. Corvesi, my landlord, has a son, a
Franciscan friar, who is a great genius in this way.

When the subject is given, his brother tunes his violin to
accompany him, and he begins to rehearse in recitative, with

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