Lucca, Sept. 25th.
YOU ask how I pass my time. Generally upon the hills, in wild spots where the arbutus flourishes; from whence I may catch a glimpse of the distant sea; my horse tied to a cypress, and myself cast upon the grass, like Palmarin of Oliva, with a tablet and pencil in my hand, a basket of grapes by my side, and a crooked stick to shake down the chestnuts. I have bidden adieu, several days ago, to the dinners and glories of the town, to visits and conversationes, and only come thither in an evening, just time enough for the grand march which precedes Pacchierotti in Quinto Fabio. Sometimes he accompanies me in my excursions, to the utter discontent of the Lucchese, who swear I shall ruin their Opera, by leading him such confounded rambles amongst the mountains, and exposing him to the inclemency of winds and showers. One day they made a vehement remonstrance, but in vain; for the next, away we trotted over hill and dale, and stayed so late in the evening, that cold and hoarseness were the consequence. The whole republic was thrown into commotion, and some of its prime ministers were deputed to harangue Pacchierotti upon the rides he had committed. Billingsgate never produced such furious orators. Had the safety of their mighty state depended upon this imprudent excursion, they could not have vociferated with greater violence. You know I am rather energetic, and, to say truth, I had very nearly got into a scrape of importance, and drawn down the execrations of the Gonfalonier and all his council upon my head, in defending him, and in openly declaring our intention of taking, next morning, another ride over the rocks, and absolutely losing ourselves in the clouds which veil their acclivities. These terrible threats were put into execution, and yesterday we made a tour of about thirty miles upon the high lands, and visited a variety of castles and palaces. The Conte Nobili conducted us, a noble Lucchese, born in Flanders and educated at Paris. He possesses the greatest elegance of imagination, and a degree of sensibility rarely met with upon our gross planet. The way did not appear tedious in such company. The sun was tempered by light clouds, and a soft autumnal haze rested upon the hills, covered with shrubs and olives. The distant plains and forests appeared tinted with deep blue, and I am now convinced the azure so prevalent in Velvet Breughel's landscapes is not exaggerated. After riding for six or seven miles along the cultivated levels, we began to ascend a rough slope, overgrown with chestnuts; here and there, some vines streaming in garlands displayed their clusters. A great many loose fragments and stumps of ancient pomegranates perplexed our route, which continued, turning and winding through this wilderness, till it opened on a sudden to the side of a lofty mountain, covered with tufted groves, amongst which hangs the princely castle of the Garzonis, on the very side of a precipice. Alcina could not have chosen a more romantic situation. The garden lies extended beneath, gay with flowers, and glittering with compartments of spar, which, though in no great purity of taste, has an enchanted effect, for the first time. Two large marble basins, with jet-d'eaux, seventy feet in height, divide the parterres; from the extremity of which rises a rude cliff, shaded with firs and ilex, and cut into terraces. Leaving our horses at the great gate of this magic enclosure, we passed through the spray of the fountains, and mounting an endless flight of steps, entered an alley of oranges, and gathered ripe fruit from the trees. Whilst we were thus employed, the sun broke from the clouds, and lighted up the green of the vegetation; at the same time spangling the waters, which pour copiously down a succession of rocky terraces, and sprinkle the impending citron-trees with perpetual dew. These streams issue from a chasm in the cliff, surrounded by cypresses, which conceal by their thick branches some pavilions with baths. Above arises a colossal statue of Fame, boldly carved, and in the very act of starting from the precipices. A narrow path leads up to the feet of the goddess, on which I reclined; whilst a vast column of water arching over my head, fell, without even wetting me with its spray, into the depths below. I could with difficulty prevail upon myself to abandon this cool recess, which the fragrance of bay and orange, extracted by constant showers, rendered uncommonly luxurious. At last I consented to move on, through a dark walk of ilex, which, to the credit of Signor Garzoni be it spoken, is suffered to grow as wild, and as forest-like, as it pleases. This grove is suspended on the mountain side, whose summit is clothed with a boundless wood of olives, and forms, by its willowy colour, a striking contrast with the deep verdure of its base. After resting a few moments in the shade, we proceeded to a long avenue (bordered by aloes in bloom, forming majestic pyramids of flowers thirty feet high) which led us to the palace. This was soon run over. Then, mounting our horses, we wound amongst sunny vales, and inclosures with myrtle hedges, till we came to a rapid steep. We felt the heat most powerfully in ascending it, and were glad to take refuge under a continued bower of vines, which continues for miles along its summit, almost without interruption. These arbours afforded us both shade and refreshment; I fell upon the clusters which formed our ceiling, like a native of the north, unused to such luxuriance: one of those Goths, which Gray so poetically describes, who

Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose,
And quaff the pendant vintage as it grows.

I wish you had journeyed with us under this fruitful canopy, and observed the partial sunshine through its transparent leaves, and the glimpses of the blue sky it every now and then admitted. I say only every now and then, for in most places a sort of verdant gloom prevailed, exquisitely agreeable in so hot a day. But such luxury did not last, you may suppose, for ever. We were soon forced from our covert, and obliged to traverse a mountain exposed to the sun, which had dispersed every cloud, and shone with intolerable brightness. On the other side of this extensive eminence lies a pastoral hillock, surrounded by others, woody and irregular. Wide vineyards and fields of Indian corn lay between, across which the Conte Nobili conducted us to his house, where we found prepared a very comfortable dinner. We drank the growth of the spot, and defied Constantia and the Cape to exceed it. Afterwards, retiring into a wood of the Marchese Mansi, with neat pebble walks and trickling rivulets, we sipped coffee and loitered till sunset. It was then time to return: the dews began to fall, and the mists to rise from the valleys. The profound calm and silence of evening threw us all three into our reveries. We went pacing along heedlessly, just as our horses pleased, without hearing any sound but their steps.
Between nine and ten we entered the gates of Lucca. Pacchierotti coughed, and half its inhabitants wished us at the devil.
I think now I have detained you long enough with my excursions: you must require a little repose; for my own part, I am heartily tired. I intended to say some things about certain owls, amongst other grievances I am pestered with in this republic; but shall cut them all short, and wish you good night; for the opera is already begun, and I would not miss the first, glorious recitative for the empire of Trebizond.

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