SEPTEMBER 4th. I was sorry to leave Venice, and regretted my peaceful excursions upon the Adriatic, when the Euganean hills were lost in a golden haze, and the sun cast his departing gleams across the waters. No bright rays illuminated my departure; but the coolness and perfume of the air made ample amends for their absence.
About an hour's rowing from the isle of St. Giorgio in Alga, brought us to the coast of Fusina, right opposite the opening where the Brenta mixes with the sea. This river flows calmly between banks of verdure, crowned by poplars, with vines twining round every stalk, and depending from tree to tree in beautiful festoons. Beds of mint and flowers clothe the brink of the stream, except where a tall growth of reeds and osiers lift themselves to the breezes. I heard their whispers as we glided along, and, had I been alone, might have told you what they said to me; but such aerial oracles must be approached in solitude. The morning continued to lower as we advanced; scarce a wind ventured to breathe: all was still and placid as the surface of the Brenta. No sound struck my ears except the bargemen hallooing to open the sluices, and deepen the water. As yet I had not perceived an habitation, no other objects than green inclosures and fields of Turkish corn, shaded with vines and poplars, met my eyes wherever I turned them. Our navigation, the tranquil streams and cultivated banks, in short the whole landscape, had a sort of Chinese cast which led me into Quang-Si and Quang-Tong. The variety of canes, reeds, and blossoming rushes shooting from the slopes, confirmed my fancies; and when I beheld the yellow nenupha expanding its broad leaves to the current, I thought of the Tao-Sé, and venerated one of the chief ingredients in their beverage of immortality. Landing where this magic vegetation appeared most luxuriant, I cropped the flowers, but searched in vain for the kernels, which, according to the doctrine of the Bonzes, produce such wonderful effects. Though I was deceived in this pursuit, I gained, however, in another. The bank upon which I had sprung presented a continued walk of level turf, surrounded by vines, concealing the trees which supported them, and forming the most delightful bowers. Under these garlands I passed, and gathered the ripe clusters which dangled around, convinced that Noah had discovered a far superior beverage to that of the Tao-Sé. Whilst I was thus agreeably employed, it began to rain, and the earth to exhale a fresh reviving odour, highly grateful to one who had been so long confined to walls and waters. After breathing nothing but the essence of canals and the flavours of the Rialto, after the jinglings of bells and brawls of the gondoliers, imagine how agreeable it was to scent the perfume of clover, to tread a springing herbage, and listen in silence to the showers pattering amongst the leaves. I stayed so long amidst the vines that it grew late before we rowed by the Mira, a village of palaces, whose courts and gardens, as magnificent as statues, terraces, and vases can make them, compose a grand, though far from a rural, prospect. Not being greatly delighted with such scenery, we stayed no longer than our dinner required, and reached the Dolo an hour before sunset. Passing the great sluices, whose gates opened with a thundering noise, we continued our course along the peaceful Brenta, winding its broad full stream through impenetrable copses, surmounted by tall waving poplars. Day was about to close when we reached Fiesso; and it being a misty evening, I could scarcely distinguish the pompous façade of the Pisani palace. That where we supped, looks upon a broad mass of foliage which I contemplated with pleasure as it sunk in the dusk. We walked a long while under a pavilion stretched before the entrance, breathing the freshness of the wood after the shower, and hearing the drops trickle down the awning above our heads. The Galuzzi sang some of her father Ferandini's compositions, with a fire, an energy, an expression, that, one moment, raised me to a pitch of heroism, and the next, dissolved me in tears. Her cheek was flushed with inspiration; her eyes glistened; the whole tone of her countenance was that of a person rapt and inspired. I forgot both time and place while she was breathing forth such celestial harmony. The night stole imperceptibly away, and morning dawned before I awoke from my trance. I don't recollect ever to have passed an evening, which every circumstance conspired to render so full of charm. In general, my musical pleasures suffer terrible abatements from the phlegm and stupidity of my neighbourhood; but here, every one seemed to catch the flame, and to listen with reciprocal delight. The C. threw quick around her the glancing fires of genius: and what with the song of the Galuzzi, and those intellectual meteors, I scarcely knew to what element I was transported, and doubted for several moments, whether I was not fallen into a celestial dream. I loathed the light of the morning star, which summoned me to depart; and, if I may express myself so poetically,

"cast many a longing, ling'ring look behind."

Letter I ::: Letter II ::: Letter III ::: Letter IV ::: Letter V ::: Letter VI ::: Letter VII ::: Letter VIII ::: Letter IX ::: Letter X ::: Letter XI ::: Letter XII ::: Letter XIII ::: Letter XIV ::: Letter XV ::: Letter XVI ::: Letter XVII ::: Letter XVIII ::: Letter XIX ::: Letter XX ::: Letter XXI ::: Letter XXII ::: Letter XXIII ::: Letter XXIV ::: Letter XXV ::: Letter XXVI ::: Letter XXVII
Additional letters, I-VII
An Excursion to the Grande Chartreuse in the year 1778