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mission* mountains have of being frightful rather too far; and its horrors were accompanied with too much danger to give one time to reflect upon their beauties. There is a family of the Alpine monsters I have mentioned, upon its very top, that in the middle of winter calmly lay in their stock of provisions and firing, and so are buried in their hut for a month or two under the snow. When we were down it, and got a little way
into Piedmont, we began to find “ Apricos quosdam colles, rivosque prope sylvas, et jam humano cultu digniora loca.” I read Silius Italicus too, for the first time; and wished for you, according to custom. We set out for Genoa in two days time.
MR. GRAY TO MR. WEST.
Genoa, Nov. 21, 1739.
HORRIDOS tractus, Boreæq; linquens
At least if they do not, they have a very ill taste; for I never beheld any thing more amiable: only figure to yourself a vast semicircular basin, full of fine blue sea, and vessels of all sorts and sizes, some sailing out, some coming in, and others at anchor; and all round it palaces and churches
* A phrase borrowed from Madame Le Sevigné, who quotes a bon mot on Pelison, qu'il abusoit de la permission qu'ont les hommes d'etre laids.
peeping over one another's heads, gardens and marble terraces full of
cypress trees, fountains, and trellis-works covered with vines, which all together compose the grandest of theatres. This is the first coup d'oeil, and is almost all I am yet able to give you an account of, for we arrived late last night. To-day was, luckily, a great festival, and in the morning we resorted to the church of the Madonna delle Vigne, to put up our little orisons; (I believe I forgot to tell you, that we have been sometime converts to the holy catholic church) we found our lady richly dressed out, with a crown of diamonds on her own head, another upon the child's, and a constellation of wax lights burning before them: shortly after came the Doge, in his robes of crimson damask, and a cap of the same, followed by the senate in black. Upon his approach began a fine concert of music, and among the rest two eunuchs' voices, that were a perfect feast to ears that had heard nothing but French operas for a year.
for a year. We listened to this, and breathed nothing but incense for two hours. The Doge is a very tall, lean, stately, old figure, called Costantino Balbi; . and the senate seem to have been made upon the same model. They said their prayers, and heard an absurd white friar preach, with equal devotion. After this we went to the Annonciata, a church built by the family Lomellini, and belonging to it; which is, indeed, a most stately structure, the inside wholly marble of various kinds, except where gold and painting take its place. From hence to the Palazzo Doria. I should make you sick of marble if I told you how it was lavished here upon the porticoes, the balustrades, and terraces, the lowest of which extends quite to the sea. The inside is by no means answerable to the outward magnificence; the furniture seems to be as old as the founder of the family.* Their great embossed silver tables tell you, in bas-relief, his victories at sea; how he entertained the Emperor Charles, and how he refused the sovereignty of the commonwealth when it was offered him; the rest is oldfashioned velvet chairs, and gothic tapestry. The rest of the day has been spent, much to our hearts' content, in cursing French music and architecture, and in singing the praises of Italy. We find this place so very fine, that we are in fear of finding nothing finer. We are fallen in love with the Mediterranean Sea, and hold your lakes and your rivers in vast contempt. This is
“ The happy country where huge lemons grow,” as Waller says; and I am sorry to think of leaving it in a week for Parma, although it be
The happy country where huge cheeses grow.
MR. GRAY TO HIS MOTHER.
Bologna, Dec. 9, N. S. 1739. Our journey hither has taken
much less time than I expected. We left Genoa (a charming place, and one that deserved a longer stay) the week before last; crossed the mountains, and lay that night at Tortona, the next at St. Giovanni, and the morning after came to Piacenza. That city, (though the capital of a dutchy) made so frippery an appearance, that instead of spending some days there, as had been intended, we only dined, and went on to Parma; stayed there all the following day, which was passed in visiting the famous works of Corregio in the Dome, and other churches. The fine gallery of pictures, that once belonged to the Dukes of Parma, is no more here; the King of Naples has carried it all thither, and the city had not merit enough to detain us any longer, so we proceeded through Reggio to Modena; this, though the residence of its Duke, is an ill-built melancholy place, all of brick, as are most of the towns in this part of Lombardy: he himself lives in a private manner, with very little appearance of a court about him; he has one of the noblest collections of paintings in the world, which entertained us extremely well the rest of that day and a part of the next; and in the afternoon we came to Bologna: so now you may wish us joy of being in the dominions of his Holiness. This is a populous city, and of great extent: all the streets have porticoes on both sides, such as surround a part of Covent-garden, a great relief in summer-time in such a climate; and from one of the principal gates to a church of the Virgin, (where is a wonder-working picture, at three miles distance) runs a corridore of the same sort, lately finished, and, indeed, a most extraordinary performance. The churches here are more remarkable for their paintings than architecture, being mostly old structures of brick; but the palaces are numerous, and fine enough to supply us with somewhat worth seeing from morning till night. The country of Lom-, bardy, hitherto, is one of the most beautiful imaginable; the roads broad, and exactly straight, and on either hand vast plantations of trees, chiefly mulberries and olives, and not a tree without a vine twining about it and spreading among its branches. This scene, indeed, which must be the most lovely in the world during the proper season, is at present all deformed by the winter, which here is rigorous enough for the time it lasts; but one still sees the skeleton of a charming place, and reaps the benefit of its product, for the fruits and provisions are admirable; in short, you find every thing, that luxury can desire, in perfection. We have now been here a week, and shall stay some little time longer. We are at the foot of the Appennine mountains; it will take up three days to cross them, and then we shall come to Florence, where we shall pass the Christmas. Till then we must remain in a state of ignorance as to what is doing in England, for our letters are to meet us there: if I do not find four or five from
* The famous Andrea Doria,